Restructuring Of Soldiers After The Marius Reforms

Probably the most well-known and biggest reform of the army was the total restructuring of the soldiers, command structure, battle formations, and equipping of the legionnaire. This only continued to advance the might of the army. By the time of Augustus, when the “classical” legion most associate with the Roman army came into full force, the Imperial Army of Rome became the most powerful military in the ancient world. This can be attributed to the numerous upgrades the army underwent during the time of Marius into the reign of Augustus and beyond.

Previously, the Velites, Hastati, Principes, and Triarii each served different purposes in battle and had to provide their own weapons and armor, which varied in quality and appearance. During the first century A.D. they were made into a unified fighting force by Marius and Augustus, with uniform weapons and armor equipped with the wealth provided by the state.

After the reforms, the pre-Marius soldiers were restructured into two main groups: legionnaires and auxilia. Citizens of the Roman Empire were recruited into the legions (backbone heavy infantry), while non-citizens made up the auxilia (support and specialized troops such as archers, cavalry, and inferiorly equipped troops).


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This had another impact on the Roman society, as all people who lived within the territories of the empire were now able to join the army, citizen and non-citizen alike. The allowing of a significant number of non-citizens to fight in the army would, however, have major implications to the Roman state during the late empire.

The command structure was remodeled significantly also. After the reforms, it was even more prevalent how much the excellent organization and command of the army contributed to the success of the Legion. No one man found themselves lost in the army due to the fact that each soldier personally knew an officer and each other. This also helped contribute to a more loyal and organized army. The smallest unit of the army was the tent group, or Contuberniun, which consisted of eight men.

They shared and were in charge of their own tent, supplies, and gear. Next came the Century, which was made up of ten groups of Contuberniun making eighty men. A Centurion was in charge of each Century. A Maniple was made up of two Centuries, and a Cohort was made up of three Maniples, making a standard 480 men per Cohort.

As time went on, however, into the age of Augustus, it is believed that the Maniple was dropped all together and the Cohort remained the principle standard unit in the army and was subdivided into six Centuries instead of three Maniples. Finally, the Legion was made up of ten Cohorts along with 120 horsemen, putting the strength of a Legion around 5000 men, excluding non-combatants. A legate was in command of a legion, and a Consul or Praetor (as Marius became) was in charge of the whole army or a given campaign.

The battle lines and formations were also restructured. The standard three line formation seen in the Army of the Republic was abandoned and replaced with two battle lines, with the first and the second each having five cohorts. Although, sometimes they took a standard three line formation, with four cohorts in the first line and three in the second and third lines.

The first cohort always was considered the strongest with the most veterans and was placed on the extreme right wing of the first line. The cohorts were also placed in such a way that the strongest cohorts were in the wings and center, while the weaker ones were placed in between them. This ensured the most important places of the line would not easily lose morale and rout.


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