1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Army organization, recruitment and logistics

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Aldarion, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage


    Army units are organized to ranks to level fo five or ten soldiers.

    Legion (legio, meros)

    Each legion is assigned one province which supports it; legate is also the highest authority in the province. Prescribed number is four cohorts of cavalry and infantry each, for a total of 800 heavy cavalry, 800 light cavalry, 1 200 heavy infantry, 1 600 crossbowmen and 400 shield bearers, for a total of 4 800 troops in main battle line, of which 1 600 cavalry and 3 200 infantry (that is, 4 infantry and 4 cavalry cohorts). In addition, legion will have 400 javeliners, 400 slingers and 400 light cavalry acting as scouts and skirmishers, bringing a total to 6 000 men, which is also the largest number that can support itself from foraging. To this are added staff, which at total of 18 cohorts (see below) counts 198 men.

    Additional 200 light cavalry and 400 light infantry is supported from same area but forms independent cohort tasked with ranging and garrison duties.

    Cohors (cohors, tagma)

    Cohors can be of two types: 800-man cohorts (cohors milliaria) and 480-man cohorts (cohors quinquagenaria). Cavalry cohorts are called alae. Cohors equitatae are not cavalry cohorts, but rather mixed cohorts of ¾ infantry and ¼ cavalry. Each cohort has a tribunus (commander), vicarus (assistant commander), adjutor (clerk), optio (quartermaster), surgeon, two heralds, two standard-bearers (draconarii), a trumpeter and a drummer.

    Typical infantry cohort is 300 heavy infantry, 400 crossbowmen and 100 pavesarii, for a total of 800 men. Cavalry cohort is 200 heavy cavalry and 200 light cavalry. Skirmisher cohort is 400 men. Independent cohorts have 200 light cavalry and 400 light infantry each.

    Centuria (centuria, kentarchia)

    Centuria has a total of ten decurias, for a total of 80 men.

    Decuria (decuria, kontoubernion)

    Decuria has eight men – 3 heavy infantry, 4 crossbowmen and 1 shield bearer for infantry, while in cavalry it is either eight heavy cavalry or eight light cavalry. As each decuria shares a tent, it is also called contubernia / counteburnium.


    During campaigns, soldiers receive pay from state, but outside of that they live off the land. Because of this, each soldier is given a plot of land (prata militaris, stratiotika ktemata) to live from in exchange for military service. This land is still state-owned and technically belongs to imperial estates; soldier is merely a user, but since service is hereditary, practical distinction is negligible. These troops are required to appear at yearly muster for drills, sometimes even twice a year, and serve on a seasonal basis. Each soldier is given a certain value of land, depending on requirements of service. One pound of gold is worth 20 solidi, and will purchase between 6 and 15 ha, or 60 000 – 150 000 m2 of land. One peasant may own 8 to 20 ha of land; as such, many light infantrymen are peasants.

    Price of a war horse is 20 solidi, draught horse is 10 solidi; mail armour is 100 solidi, full plate armour for cavalryman is 320 solidi (540 solidi with horse armour), and infantry plate half-armour is 140 solidi. Open-faced helmet is 4 solidi. A person owning land of two pounds of gold (40 solidi) has to have a helmet, a spear, and a gambeson. Military service itself is hereditary. Land passes from oldest son to oldest son, or else to closest (capable) male relative in case that soldier does not have a son or son is not capable of military service for one reason or another. In this way, land is not divided. People who do not have enough individually are to band together and provide equipment for one of them. Likewise, those individuals who possess more than minimum value are required to equip and provide additional soldier(s).

    Original minimum land requirements are as follows:

    • heavy cavalry: 16 pounds of gold – 1 600 000 m2 of land

    • light cavalry: 4 pounds of gold – 400 000 m2 of land (40 peasant families; 80 solidi)

    • infantryman: 2 pounds of gold – 200 000 m2 of land

    • sailor: 2 pounds of gold – 200 000 m2 of land
    However, armour technology had advanced from the time of original legislation, with plate armour supplementing other forms of armour, and largely replacing old lamellar armour. As such, following minimum requirements hold true (note: addition to land ½ the value of armour):

    • heavy cavalry: 18 pounds of gold / 1 800 000 m2 (4 pounds + 270 solidi / 13,5 pounds)

    • light cavalry: 4 pounds of gold / 400 000 m2

    • heavy infantry: 5,5 pounds of gold / 550 000 m2 (2 pounds + 70 solidi / 3,5 pounds)

    • medium infantry: 4,5 pounds of gold / 450 000 m2 (2 pounds + 50 solidi / 2,5 pounds)

    • light infantry: 2 pounds of gold / 200 000 m2

    • sailor: 2 pounds of gold / 200 000 m2
    With 15 million people, area under cultivation is 692 000 square kilometers [Calculation as follows: 12 acres per family of 5, 95% of people as farmers = 171 000 000 acres = 692 012 km2], which represents 54% of the area of the Empire. About one-quarter of all cultivable lands of the Empire are given for the military, for a total of 173 000 km2.

    Each legion is assigned one province which supports it. A legion numbers 800 heavy cavalry, 1 200 light cavalry, 1 200 heavy infantry, 1 600 medium infantry (crossbowmen), 1 200 light infantry (400 shield bearers, 400 javeliners, 400 slingers), for a total of 6 000 men. An additional independent cohort of 200 light cavalry and 400 light infantry is also supported from the same area, bringing numbers up to 800 heavy cavalry, 1 400 light cavalry, 1 200 heavy infantry, 1 600 medium infantry and 1 600 light infantry. Since navy is 12% size of the army, to these numbers can be added 800 sailors.

    As a result, total land required by a legion is 3 540 000 000 m2 (3 540 km2), by an independent cohort 160 000 000 m2 (160 km2), and by naval detachment 160 000 000 m2 (160 km2). As such, 173 000 km2 allows for 45 legions, 45 independent cohorts and 40 naval detachments (actual 45 detachments requires additional 800 000 000 m2 in total, for military establishment of 174 000 km2).

    Overall legionary numbers are 45 legions with 270 000 men total. Of these, there are 36 000 heavy cavalry, 54 000 light cavalry, 54 000 heavy infantry, 72 000 crossbowmen, 18 000 shield bearers, 18 000 javeliners and 18 000 slingers. Additional 45 independent cohorts provide another 27 000 men, of which 9 000 light cavalry and 18 000 light infantry (9 000 javeliners and slingers each). As such, ground troops number a total of 297 000 men.

    Navy has a total of 45 detachments, or 36 000 troops. These are usually given lands close to the sea shore, or else rivers. Of these, 29 900 are sailors and 4 500 naval infantry, and the rest the reserve (see below).

    Naval warfare is carried out by caravels and carracks. Caravels are usually 20 meters long and 6 meters wide with displacement of 120 tons. Regular caravel has crew of 25 sailors, as well as 10 men-at-arms for regular missions. In combat, larger complements are possible – up to 150 soldiers if combat is expected at short distances. Carracks are larger but less agile than caravels, usually 23 meters long, with 7,6 meters beam and 1,8 meter draught. Displacement is 223 tons and speed 6,5 knots. Normal crew of carrack is 45 sailors and 15 soldiers. Transport ship – nao – is based on carracks, with length of 30 meters, beam of 11,6 meters and displacement of 400 tons; crew is 40. It can be converted for combat, but has inferior maneuvering capabilities. Small oared dromonds, with crew of 20 rowers, are used for riverine and coastal patrol, but generally sailed warships have significant advantage in height and crew size, both crucial factors in combat. They are also capable of mounting much greater amount of artillery, such as liquid fire siphons. Fleet numbers a total of 140 carracks, 240 caravels, 80 dromonds, and 400 transport naos. (NOTE: batch of 14 carracks, 24 caravels, 8 dromonds, 40 naos – total crew per batch 3 440 + 160 reserve = 3 600 = 10 batches) (NOTE: Spanish Armada: 21 galleons, X carracks, 12 caravels, 4 galleasses, 4 galleys, 43 naos, 43 supply ships, 2 medical ships).

    Empire maintains standing army of full-time soldiers. Large portion of this army is concentrated within and around the imperial capital. Each province also has a detachment of full-time soldiers, typically stationed within provincial capital as well as various fortresses. These standing, salaried troops form the core of provincial armies, which are then supplemented by the part-time militia. Standing army numbers a total of 48 000 ground troops. It is supported from military lands like provincial forces are, but also receives regular pay in addition to campaign pay. Standing army is thus included in the totals already noted before. Central division of standing army – the Black Army – serves as Emperor's personal army. It numbers a total of 16 000 ground troops.

    Widows of soldiers killed in service are given 5 pounds of gold for compensation. Military commanders receive regular pay, with generals (magister militum, strategos) receiving 12 pounds of gold per year. Pay of the cavalryman is 12 solidi (nomisma) per year, and of officers 1 to 3 lbs of gold per year.
  2. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage


    When on march, light infantry moves ahead, to sides and to rear of the army. They form scouts – outermost are scouting pairs, followed by larger groups of scouts. Lastly there are fast-reaction units of light infantry and cavalry. Light cavalry may form advance and rear guard in front and rear of the main force. Light cavalry units are also responsible for scouting – they spy out army's route of march, enemy forces and fortifications, availability of water, food, fodder and wood.

    Advance guard is in front of the main army. It consists of one infantry legion supported by cavalry, or else one infantry cohors supported by cavalry. After them follow ten men from eachy centuria tasked with making a camp, and after them follow engineers tasked with removing obstacles. They are followed by commanders' baggage train. Baggage train is followed by commander and his bodyguard (typically heavy cavalry), itself followed by heavy cavalry. Heavy cavalry is followed by siege train (mules carrying dissassembled siege equipment), and siege train is followed by high-ranking officers. After them come legions in six files, and after legions follow mercenaries. Rear guard is formed by heavy infantry and heavy cavalry.

    Normal marching rate is 20 – 25 kilometers per day (including setting up fortified camp), with 40 – 50 kilometers per day during forced march, which generally can only be maintained for a day or two. On hilly terrain, 18 – 20 kilometers per day is normal. Normal march speed on even terrain is 4,8 kph, and on hilly terrain it is 4 kph. Division of 5 000 infantry has 20 minute gap between front and rear elements. With 15 mile army, it takes 9 hours to complete the march; a 22 mile army would take 12 hours (1 000 cavalry is 6 miles, 5 000 infantry is 5 kilometers or 3 miles). Each soldier with him carries food for three days, but most of baggage – tents, food, equipment – is carried by mules. If baggage train is drawn by oxen as opposed to mules, march rate falls to 16 kilometers per day. On a good road and with no baggage train, march rate can be up to 40 kilometers per day, but such a rate is exhausting and causes high attrition. Up to 50 kilometers per day can be achieved with an all-mounted force, but only for two days or so. Small units can move more rapidly – infantry could march up to 50 kilometers per day in forced march, and cavalry 65 – 80 kilometers per day. Army in enemy territory often has to forage, again reducing marching speed to 20 kilometers per day or less. These marching speeds are similar for other armies as well.

    News carried by courier travel at rate of about 100 kilometers per day. Normal day's ride (a civilian measure) is 50 – 65 km on flat ground, and 40 – 50 km on hilly terrain. Army of nomads can move up to 100 kilometers per day. Beacon system connecting city of Ardea to Narensi Pass at southern coast consists of beacons / lighthouses set up at intervals of 100 kilometers, except in Yellow Hills whose two beacons are 50 km apart. Beacon system has a total of 10 lighthouses stretching over 712 km in straight line, and 733 km overall. Message can be transmitted over the entire line within an hour.


    Camp must be secured at any stop during the march. Even night camp is always to be fortified with a dug ditch and trench and pallisade of shields (pavises), which from the inside is reinforced by a wagon laager (formed of baggage wagons). Companies of soldiers detailed the task of foraging were guarded by additional companies. Officers would patrol outside the pallisade, especially at night, to ensure the guards were doing their duty.

    Camp has two wide roads with four gates, and tents are ordered in rows with relatively wide paths between them. Light infantry is encamped just inside the line of baggage wagons, with empty space of 300 to 400 paces separating them from tents of other troops so that enemy archers cannot inflict many casualties.
    JGCully likes this.
  3. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage


    Equipment is provided by guilds of fabricenses. These are either state- or privately- -owned guilds that are given allowance by the emperor to produce weapons for the army. Soliders purchase equipment with income they receive from their lands, or else from their own wage. A system of factories (fabricae) allows for standardized equipment production. These lay either on major waterways, or else close to sources of raw materials. Specialized fabricae, called clibanaria(e), produce plate armour for heavy infantry and cavalry as well as cavalry equipment. These are overseen by Master of Offices (magister officiorum). Each group of workers is responsible for monthly quota of objects they produce. Soldiers have to buy equipment themselves, and equipment is often procured locally.

    Logistical apparatus is overseen by praetorian prefect, who is responsible for liasing between army and provincial officials. Where possible, goods are procured locally, but in friendly territory there are necessary limits to army's self-sustinence. Thus well-maintained roads – via millitaria – are of vital importance. These are eight meters wide. By law, minor public roads have to be 16 feet (4,8 meters) wide, but some roads are up to 8 meters (26 feet) wide. When in friendly territory, logistical apparatus of each province is required to provide for an army that passess through it. If an army is too large for resources of one province, neighbouring provinces may be mobilized as well. Provincial officials are given an advance notice of army's requirements in foodstuffs and other goods, which are then deposited at named sites (fortified granaries and storehouses) along the army's route of march. These are then collected as tax-in-kind, and thus counted against next year's tax, which is reduced by a recorded amount. If more goods are collected than is due for tax the next year, then extra goods are paid for in coin (this system is known as coemptio). Supplies from warehouses may be supplemented by supplies shipped via rivers. Special logistical troops obtain mules and other pack animals. Heavy infantry regiments are provided with one mule per pair of soldiers. If army arrived into district which was not warned in advance, soldiers are sent out to buy their own supplies.

    For a two-week march, a 15 000 men force requires 288 400 kg of grain for soldiers' rations - 115 360 kg for a standard 6 000 men force. Horses and mules significantly increase this – while light horses used by scouts and rangers can subside entirely off the grass, large war horses require a supply of food, around 15 kg per day, while normal war horse requires 9 kg per day, and same for pack or draft horse, while mule would require 7,5 kg per day. Further, each cavalryman has to have a war horse, a riding horse and a pack horse. 2 000 cavalry in usual legion thus requires 6 000 horses, of which 800 heavy war horses, 1 200 average-sized war horses, 2 000 riding horses, and 2 000 pack horses or mules. Assuming mules instead of pack horses, these would require a total of 59 000 kg of fodder per day or 826 000 kg for two weeks. In normal conditions a third of figure for animals is barley, which means animals will require 275 000 kg of barley over two weeks, for a total of 390 360 kg over two weeks. If there is no possibility for grazing at all, total requirements for a legion come for 941 360 kg over two weeks.

    A standard pack horse or a mule can carry a maximum of 120 kg over any distance. For a two-week march, a mule would carry 105 kg of barley for itself, leaving 15 kg free. Ridden cavalry horses would carry 34 kg of barley, unridden cavalry horses 68 kg of barley, and mules 84 kg of barley. Since soldiers can and do carry 14 to 17 days worth of food with themselves on the march, barley carried by mules would be that required by animals themselves. Horses themselves would carry 204 000 kg of barley. As such, a 6 000 strong legion on a two-week march would have 737 360 kg of barley carried by pack animals, requiring 6 145 mules. If grazing is available as an option, barley carried by pack animals is 186 360 kg, requiring 2 219 mules.

    Army accompanied by pack animals can make 25 km per day in flat terrain, or 350 kilometers with above numbers. Oxen however would require no fodder, as they can obtain food by grazing; this however requires significant time, and may not be useful in mountainous areas. In flat areas, two mules can pull a wagon carrying 660 or cart carrying 500 kg. Two mules would require 210 kg of fodder for two weeks, leaving 450 kg for a two-week march or 240 kg for four-week march. As such, a legion would require 868 – 2 092 wagons for two week march (280 – 350 km) or 1 626 – 3 922 wagons for four-week march (560 – 700 km). These would require 1 736 to 7 844 mules – former number being mere one fifth of number required in mountainous areas. If using carts – of lesser capacity but more agile in hard terrain – numbers are 380 (with grazing) – 1 504 (no grazing) carts for two-week march and 2 330 (with grazing) – 9 217 carts (no grazing) for four-week march. Four-week march is standard which provincial officials have to set aside for an army.

    Above limitations however only really apply for armies that have more than one legion present, as an individual legion is small enough to feed itself through foraging when in enemy territory. Even so, foraging is one of riskiest activities of an army, as foraging parties could be attacked, or else fail to acquire enough supplies.

    Water transport is far more efficient than overland transport. Large sailing ship can carry 900 tons of grain, with 600 tons for hulk-type ship and 300 tons for cog-type ship. Smaller ships used for riverine transport carry 20 to 30 tons.

    Equipment carried by a soldier is generally 50-60% of body weight. Assuming 150 lbs average, this means 75 lbs of equipment. Full plate weights 40 – 60 lbs (18 – 27 kg) with 50 lbs average, while heavy infantry half-plate weights 15 – 25 lbs (7 – 11 kg), with 22 lbs average. Weapons weights are 5 lbs (poleaxe), 2,4 lbs (arming sword), 10 oz / 486 g (dagger); as such, total weight carried by an infantryman is 30 lbs / 13,6 kg. This leaves 45 lbs for food and other accessories.

    Each troop detachment, depending on size, should have a person or group trained in medical treatment of wounds. A small body of men are detailed during the battle to take care of the wounded as well as to convey water to the front lines.

    Post system includes regular rest stations (mansiones) and relay mounts for fast post, and oxcarts for slow post. Stations are at half-day's or full day's journey on foot.
    JGCully likes this.
  4. JGCully

    JGCully Scribe

    Comprehensive and detailed, good setup.
  5. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I like the idea that with a large an army, the vanguard could be setting up camp, while at the other end the rearguard has yet to leave the previous camp.
    That feels very real.
    The distance between beacons does seem a bit optimistic, even in the best of landscapes and weathers. I think more than fifty were used to warn of the spanish armada and that was only 200km[?]
  6. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

    That is how it was, and was one of limitations of large armies moving as one body.

    I believe I based beacon distances on the Byzantine beacon system in Anatolia. Though I might have been too optimistic, as terrain in my world is much flatter.
  7. Malik

    Malik Archmage

    This is an excellent, well-thought-out logistics plan.

    My only concern with it is that it seems excessively rigid. There are two problems with this:

    1.) Nothing ever goes according to plan (also, officers are often visited by the Good Idea Fairy and go off-book, and soldiers will always find a better/easier/lazier way to do things).

    2.) Once you know what someone's going to do, you can always find a way to work around it. Always. If you know how and where your enemy has codified its warfighting functions (e.g. their camp always has a dug trench, a palisade, two roads, etc.) you can walk up and eat their lunch. And God help them if you get your hands on a training manual. (The reason this works in the American Army is that most of what's in our publicly available training manuals is useless bullshit, and we've found better ways to do almost everything. See Point 1, above. OTOH, our senior leadership lives in a constant state of chaos and ass-covering as a result.)
    Aldarion likes this.
  8. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

    1) True. The above is more of a guideline - you always have to have a safety net, which is to say more supplies than you strictly require, although I am uncertain as of ideal excess capacity - 10%, 20%, 30% extra? However, guidelines are necessary, as for an army in the field so they are for an author trying to write about warfare. I will again refer to Tolkien and his attention to logistics.

    2) Not necessarily. Byzantines regularly wrote down their experiences and warfighting manuals, and those were read by their enemies as well. Yet Byzantine army suffered its worst defeats - Manzikert, Myriokephalon, Nikephoros I's defeat by Bulgars - when the failed to follow the advice written in their own manuals. If you write down and follow a manual, enemy might find and exploit your weaknesses. But if you do things ad hoc, you will leave weaknesses for the enemy to exploit.

Share This Page