A year ago circumstances coincided and the band of gentlemen began something that many people dream about, but few dare to implement. We began reconstruction of the Roman army of the Principate. Suspensoria, scuta, pila — we used to dream about them in childhood, turning over the pages of military history encyclopedia… Why Rome? Because it’s cool! All Roman is cool: everyday and military equipment, technology, arts, social institutions and the army.
And in the army organization the coolest thing was the logistics system that allowed forces to be mobile and maneuverable. Let’s recall the famous nickname «Marius’ mules» — these are legionaries, who bear the entire luggage so that not to burden the army with trains.
Of course, marches became for us a priority, because it’s silly to make reconstruction of a legionary, and not to experience the heaviness of equipped furca. So said so done.

We are all seasoned veterans (at least, we were sure of that), so without thinking twice we manufactured furcae, loculi, penulae, bought tickets to Taurida (the ancient name of the Crimea) and a fine May morning began a march. We called it «the march of pain». It became clear that all our equipment and its fitting is incorrect. From placing nails in caligae to adjusting shield belts. After 26 kilometers through mountains and forests of hot, dusty Taurida, each incorrectly clinched nail in a caliga, each unfastened strap made itself felt.

Back in Moscow, we began to prepare for the next march in July. We were going to correct shortcomings of our personal equipment. We remade furcae, made new lokuli, elaborated fastening of furcae, improved shoes. We manufactured missing tools, utensils, personal items such as situlae, paterae, flasks. This time, like true legionaries, we were accompanied with a combat donkey Vova. Its goal was to relieve us, lugging tools, water, tents, millstones on its hump.

Vova immediately became a problem. It turned out that people who are familiar with horses and riding, understand nothing in donkeys and their equipment. Girths and pack-saddle system, that had seemed excellent in trial events proved to be unsuitable for a real situation. To crown it all Vova turned out to be a stupid, stubborn, spiteful stinker. He seeked to catch on any twig to throw down the luggage which was so hard to load and fasten. So, we realized that a donkey, if misused, is not an assistant but an incredible pain in the ass, that brakes all the unit.

The third march we decided to carry on during the Crimean military-historical festival in September 2016. The special attention was paid to the common property of the contubernium, especially donkey harness.
We planned a two-day march with an overnight stay, full marching equipment and properly laden donkey. The goal of the march — to try a logistics scheme of Roman army and check all the experience of previous marches.

We had rather poor contubernium property, so we hastily produced the following:
— Skins for water;
— 5 l bronze situla;
— Small campfire lattices;
— A new tent with a portable frame and wrought-iron staves;
— A hand millstone for wheat;
— A new girth system for a donkey.

The march plan was simple and reliable:

1st day
— Reveille 5:00
— Leaving the castrum 6:00
— Small halt 9:00–9:30
— Large halt 12:00–13:30
— Breaking the camp 16:30–18:30
— Night sentries 21:00–5:00

2nd day
All the same, but marching in the opposite direction, and a disco instead of sentries).

This timing is logical and agrees with historical sources. We wanted this experiment to give answers to some questions. For example:
— How one can make the best use of daylight;
— What is the maximum distance a unit can march before and after the peak of the heat;
— How much time remains for breaking camp, cooking a meal and rest.

In consideration of halts, equipment fitting and small stops, the actual marching time was supposed to be 6 hours for 18 km. The route was rough, the burden was hard and the modern legionaries’ field practice was poor. So, the speed of 3 km/h was quite normal.
So, everything was prepared, calculated, double-checked, the donkey was fed. We went to sleep in expectancy of the march.

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