This video covers the Roman Legionnaire’s unique type of javelin, the pilum and some of the tactics surrounding its creation, and use.
Two other great videos.
Pilum test throwing
#ancient #War #Roman #Empire #History #Macedonians #Pikes #pilum #Tactics
The Ancient Roman pilum (Roman Legionary military tactics and warfare)
The roman legionary, he is probably the most effective and famous soldier in history. He carried the pilum, this was a very specialized and unique type javelin. But to understand it, we should understand the military doctrines of the empires that came before Rome. At the core of their militaries would be heavily armored spearmen or pike men. The Macedonian phalangite for example carried the 15 to 22 ft long sarrissa as well as a sword as a backup weapon.
These men would deploy in rectangular units consisting of 256 each. These units would line up alongside each other, forming a fromitable wall of spikes, that was nearly impossible for a cavalry charge or superior numbers to break through. Behind them archers would be deployed, were they could rain down fire on their enemies in relative safety. On either side of this wall, lightly armored, extremely fit, and mobile skirmishers would be deployed. As well as in front of the wall of pikes, forming a screen. Were they could distract, harass and weaking incoming enemy troops.
These skirmishers would usually carry 3 to 5 javelins a each and could typically hurl them 50, to over a 100 yards away with diminishing accuracy. This could be particularly devastating, to densely packed formations of infantry or cavalry. Arguably the most important role these skirmishers held was protecting the sides of the large body of pikemen, who could be devastated if attacked from the rear.
They also had to protect the main body of the army from opposing skirmishers, who could inflict high causalities, with a hail of javelins, if allow to do so.
This nearly impenetrable wall of pikes had one major weakness, if the enemy could get around it and attack it from the rear…its hard to defend yourself when you are carrying a 15, 20 ft long heavy pike, and your trying to pull out your sword, and wheel around and protect yourself in a densely packed group of men, The units would fall apart, which is why in the ancient world, you saw such a huge disproportionate amount of casualties in so many battles. As a battle began a few hundred (maybe a couple thousand) would die on either side, but as soon as one side could break though the enemy line or manage to get some cavalry around to the other side and attack them form the rear. One side would break and pretty much be slaughtered, as the soldiers would try to run away-they would be chased down by the skirmishers or cavalry.
The romans used to use this system and didn’t like it. So they sought to change it. To do this they changed the equipment that their soldiers carried. Primarily their heavy infantry got rid of the 15-20 ft long spears and replaced it with a javelin-which had three major design changes.
1st it increased in weight-which decreased its range, but also increased its ability to punch through armour and shilds. Secondly they used sub-standard iron for part of the shaft, which would cause it to bend after impact. Which eliminated the problem of someone picking up your weapon, that you just threw at them-throwing it back at you and spearing you through the chest with it. The pilums third innovation was a pyramidal shaped head, which caused a square shaped hole to form were it had penetrated, this made it incredibly difficult to remove because pulling a square out of a square shaped hole is much harder, than pulling a circle out of a slightly larger circular hole. Unlike the standard javelin the pilum was usually thrown at the very last moment before both lines of infantry would clash against each other. This thinned out the line of enemy soldiers who were unlucky enough to get hit, and render the enemy shields that were hit nearly useless-while charging with the heavy pilum stuck in your shiled-you could either stop and try to finagle the pilum out of your shield, drop it and join your fellows in the charge, or stumble along with a cumbersome weight smacking against your shield with trying to trip on it