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“Marius’ mules”

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Marius's mules
Roman legionaries during the march during the Second Dacian War. Legionaries carry all their belongings on their backs. | Author: Radu Oltean

Equipment (except armor) of Roman soldiers originally, as it was in all armies of the then world, was transported on carts or mules. However, with the reform of Marius (end of the 2nd century BCE), soldiers were ordered to carry sacks (sarcinae) with cooking utensils on their own shoulders meals (vasa), a cake stand, a sapper blade and a few days’ food supply (cibaria). The whole was complemented by parts of dismantled war machines.

In this way, the number of supply wagons was reduced and the army’s mobility increased. Legionaries could move strategic terrain without being dependent on the main routes that the wagons could move. Such soldiers were called “Marius’ mules”, and the weight of the weight carried by each soldier reached from 33 to 44 kilograms. After hard training and daily military drill, legionaries were able to march with such a load of up to 37,5 km a day.

The later Jewish historian Joseph Flavius ​ will mention that “the walkers did not differ much from train mules” (Joseph Flavius, The Wars of the Jews, 3.95) .

  • Graczkowski Andrzej, Armia rzymska w okresie schyłku republiki: organizacja, uzbrojenie, taktyka, 2009

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