The battle tactics of ancient rome were gradually refined with time as the types of terrain and enemies changes. The great ability of ancient rome was that of learning from mistakes and picking up the best of what the enemy had to teach.
This doesn’t mean that ancient rome’s battle tactics were always the best and in fact one of the textbook examples of battle tactics comes from one of Rome’s greatest adversaries: the Carthaginian general Hannibal. The battles he fought against the Romans and particularly that fought at Cannae brought such a resounding defeat for the Romans that it lived on in popular minds as one of the most horrific events which had befallen them.
Hannibal’s victories soon gave away the Romans’ weakness: their cavalry which hitherto had generally been made up of inexperienced noblemen rich enough to be of “Equestrian” rank. Roman strength generally lay in its infantry and clearly this tended to shape their tactics.
As the Roman dominions grew larger the Romans recruited increasingly large numbers of foreign fighters into their ranks in order to make up the shortcomings of their own soldiers, who by the time of Caesar had become professional soldiers..
A number of different ancient Roman battle formations and battle tactics are discussed separately.
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