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Roman Legion VS American Civil War Soldiers

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Guest SassinidAzatan

While researching on the web, I found this very ridiculous thread claiming that the Romans were superior(and more modern) to Civil War era armies.There are even claims within the thread that the Roman Legion would win!

 

I actually was going to discuss this on a previous thread about the Roman Legion I made but its just so ludricous that I feel its worthy of discussion in its own thread.Here's the link:

http://community.discovery.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/9741919888/m/19419892201

 

IMO the Roman Legion has no chance of winning, this is overkill! The Civil War soldiers would definitely defeat the best Legions.The gap of technological and tactical/strategic differences are just way too great to even make it appropriate to compare two armies that are thousands of years apart in doctrine and weaponry!

 

What's your opinion on the matter?

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This kind of comparisons are always ridiculous and this one even more then most. The technological gap is too big to make a comparison, but playing along I say that early Civil War armies were more like badly organized militias while during the principate romans had a high quality standing army.

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What I found interesting was how quickly the original premis 'that Roman soldiers from the time of Trajan could have defeated a similar sized unit from the US Civil War' was junked in favour of:

 

'...Armies had a for more manpower in the Civil war. Hannibal crossed the alps with 50,000 troops against 38,000 roman troops. Antiedam had armies of 85,000 vs. 45,000 (Union, Confederacy). Gettysburg had 95,000 vs. 72,000.

 

So, A Civil War army would be large, have much longer range weapons, guns would most likely penetrate the Roman Armor and further range and more artillery.....'

 

 

As may have been obvious from the start it was interesting seeing the extent of and at the same time some glaring gaps in the knowledge of the posters. I didn't read all of the postings in detail but there didn't seem to be anyone who had watched some of the filmed research, which has been shown on UK TV, of how different weapons functioned - particularly armour in conjunction with any form of padding.

 

From documentary evidence we know the Romans used something generally called by reenactors a subarmalis even if we don't have any identified physical remains. The posters also don't seem to know that although the Roman's didn't use stirrups the 'horns' on their saddles did provide some of the same functionality and advantages of stirrups.

 

The relative experience of both sets of troops and how the American Civil War troops were armed as well as how quickly they came into close contact was an other area skirted over.

 

Finally there was a tendency to consider only the best available units and equipment with rapid rates of fire and high damage causing ability of cannons and 'gatling' guns but functionality and availability of weaponary changed dramatically throughout the ACW period on both sides of the divide.

 

The obvious caveats are that any outcome would be heavily dependent on several of the factors mentioned above as well as Esprit de Corp which was basically ignored in the discussion.

 

On the whole I suspect that the outcome of this theoretical battle may be a lot closer than some of the posters realised. Without a lot more details of the parapmeters involved I don't think the outcome is certain enough to justify anything but an 'each-way' bet. :unsure:

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It would seem, on the face of it to all boil down to guns and artillery. And it would be easy to point to the Battle of Rourke's Drift to see how devastating even the primitive guns held by the British Colonial Army were against leather shields and iron stabbing weapons. But, that would be hiding the far less well known Battle of Iasandlwana. You rarely hear of that one. Why? Because history is written by the victors. But if you haven't already guessed who won, allow me to read the results:

 

British: 1000 - Zulu Nation: 1300

 

a stunning victory for our bear-footed friends.

 

OK, so the plucky Brits were massively outnumbered (little nod to Melvadius), but the waters are certainly muddied, especially when you start adding arrows and balistas into the equation - how would the Zulus have faired at Rourke's Drift given those?

 

Maybe the British at Iasandlwana didn't wait to see the whites of their eyes!

Edited by GhostOfClayton

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As Ghost has identified you have to realise that battles can be won or lost on silly details which can wipe out technological or numerical differences.

 

To go slighlty off topic Iasandlwana is a case in point where there are three arguments for the cause of the defeat. The strongest seems to be a suspicion that the 'British' forces probably tried to defend too large a perimeter and got overrun in small sections while there may also have been a few problems (as per the film Zulu Dawn) with ammunition contained in sealed boxes requiring a specific tool to open carried by only a few quartermasters (QMs). The argument against the second suggestion is that men on the firing line still had plenty of ammunition when overrun and normal practice would have been to open boxes as soon as warning was given of an attack. I believe that the third suggestion that the QMs only issued ammo to their own units is entirely spurious.

 

Whatever the cause the net result was to put the 'British' forces on a more or less even playing field with the Zulu's.

 

BTW Ghost may have accidently switched the casulty lists - the actual result seems to have been British forces losses of around 1300 men against about 1000 Zulu's killed plus an unknown number of Zulu wounded.

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BTW Ghost may have accidently switched the casulty lists - the actual result seems to have been British forces losses of around 1300 men against about 1000 Zulu's killed plus an unknown number of Zulu wounded.

 

I was aiming to report the 'score', as opposed to the casualty report. So, for a casualty report, merely reverse the numbers. Does that make sense?

 

PS I carry those figures about in my head and never once looked on Wikipedia. :rolleyes:

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I can suffer through comparisons of the Roman legion to Hellenistic phalanxes or Celtic warbands, because that sort of thing is actually historical.

 

 

But this kind of ahistorical comparison is useless. Our military folder was once so plagued by them, we had to outlaw them : http://www.unrv.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=2591

 

Before you draw a final close to this thread, we must remember, of course, that Imperial Stormtroopers carry devastating beam weapons, but can't seem to hit anyone with them.

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This seems an appropriate point to close this topic in line with the guidance Ursus has so kindly pointed out. Mea culpa too

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