solidarity and the sense of duty to an ideal, and the phalanx, in which the file-leaders were in a sense champions yet were 1-be made so chiefly by the unity of the mass. But the phalanx Romans went farther. Besides developing solidarity
- ° and a sense of duty, they improved on this conception
of the battle to such a degree that as a nation they may be called the best tacticians who ever existed. Giving up the attempt to make all men fight equally well, they dislocated the mass of combatants into three bodies, of which the first, formed of the youngest and most impressionable men, was engaged at the outset, the rest, more experienced men, being kept out of the turmoil. This is the very opposite of the “ champion ” system. Those who would have fled after the fall of the champions are engaged and “ fought out ” before the champions enter the area of the contest, while the champions, who possess in themselves the greatest power of resisting and mastering the instinct of self-preservation, are kept back for the moment when ordinary men would lose heart.
It might be said with perfect justice that without infantry there would never have been discipline, for cavalry began and continued as a crowd of champions. Discipline, which created and maintained the intrinsic superiority of the Roman legion, depended first on the ideal of patriotism. This was ingrained into every man from his earliest years and expressed in a system of rewards and punishments which took effect from the same ideal, in that rewards were in the main honorary in character (mural crowns, &c.), while no physical punishment was too severe for the man who betrayed, by default or selfishness, the cause of Rome. Secondly, though every man knew his duty, not every man was equal to doing it, and in recognition of this fact the Romans evolved the system of three-line tactics in which the strong parts of the machine neutralized the weak. The first of these principles, being psychological in character, rose, flourished and decayed with the moral of the nation. The second, deduced from the first, varied with it, but as it was objectively expressed in a system of tactics, which had to be modified to suit each case, it varied also in proportion as the combat took more or less abnormal forms. So closely knit were the parts of the system that not only did the decadence of patriotism sap the legionary organization, but also the unsuitability of that organization to new conditions of warfare reacted unfavourably, even disastrously, on the moral of the nation. Between them, the Roman infantry fell from its proud place, and whereas in the Republic it was familiarly called the “strength ” (rob-ur), by the 4th century A.D. it had become merely the background for a variety of other arms and corps. Luxury produced “ egoists, ” to whom the rewards meant nothing and the punishments were torture for the sake of torture. When therefore the Roman imperium extended far enough to bring in silks from China and ivory from the forests of central Africa, the citizen-army ceased to exist, and the mere necessity for garrisoning distant savage lands threw the burden of service upon the professional soldier. The natural consequence of this last was the uniform training of every man. There were no longer any primary differences between one cohort and another, and though the value
- Z';§ , ';""" of the three-line system in itself ensured its continuance,
4, ., ,, ,, any cohort, however constituted, might find itself serving in any one of the three lines, Le. the mom! of the last line was no better than that of the first. The best guarantee of success became umfofm regimental excellence, and whereas Camillus or Scipio found useful employment in battle for every citizen, Caesar complained that a legion which had been sent him was too raw, though it had been embodied for nine years. The conditions which were so admirably met by the old system never reappeared; for before armies resumed a “ citizen ” character the invention of firearms had subjected all ranks and lines alike to the same ordeal of facing unseen death, and the old soldiers were better employed in standing shoulder to shoulder with the young. In brief, the old Roman organization was based on patriotism and experience, and when patriotism gave place to “ egoism, ” and the experience of the citizen who spent every other summer in the field of war, gave place to the formal training of the paid recruit, it died, unregretted either by the citizen or by the military chieftain. The latter knew how to make the army his devoted servant, while the former disliked military service and failed to prepare himself for the day when the military chief and the mercenary overrode his rights and set up a tyranny, and ultimately the inner provinces of the empire came to be called inermes-unarmed, defenceless in contrast to the borderland where the all-powerful professional legions lay in garrison.
In these same frontier provinces the tactical disintegration of the legion slowly accomplished itself. Originally designed for the exigencies of the normal pitched battle on firm open fields, and even after its professionalization retaining its character as a large battle unit, it was soon fragmented through the exigencies of border warfare into numerous detachments of greater or less size, and when the military frontier of the empire was established, the legion became an almost sedentary corps, finding the garrisons for the blockhouses on its own section of the line of defence. Further, the old heavy arms and armour which had given it the advantage in wars of conquest»~in which the barbarians, gathering to defend their homes, offered a target for the blow of an-army-were a great disadvantage when it became necessary to police the conquered territory, to pounce upon swiftly moving bodies of raiders before they could do any great harm. Thus gradually cavalry became more numerous, and light infantry of all sorts more useful, than the old-fashioned linesman. To these corps went the best recruits and the smartest officers, the opportunities for good service and the rewards for it. The legion became once more the “ residue.” Thus when the “ champion ” reappeared on the battlefield the solidarity that neutralized his power had ceased to exist.
The battle of Adrianople, the “ last fight of the legion, ” illustrates this. The frontal battle was engaged in the ordinary way, and the cohorts of the first line of the imperial army were fighting man to man with the front ranks of the Gothic infantry (which had indeed a solidarity of its own, unlike the barbarians of the early empire, and was further guaranteed against moral over-pressure by a wagon laager), when suddenly the armoured heavy cavalry of the Goths burst upon their fiank and rear. There were no longer Principes and Triarii of the old Republican calibre, but only average troops, in the second and third lines, and they were broken at once. The first line felt the battle in rear as well as in front and gave way. Thereafter the victors, horse and foot, slaughtered unresisting herds of men, not desperate soldiers, and on this day the infantry arm, as an arm, ceased to exist.
Of course, not every soldier became a horseman, and still fewer could provide themselves with armour. Regular infantry, too, was still maintained for siege, mountain and The D rk forest warfare. But the robur, the kernel of the line Agn 8 of battle, was gone, and though a few of the peoples that fought their way into the area of civilization in the dark ages brought with them the natural and primitive method of fighting on foot, it was practically always a combination of mighty champions and “ residue, " even though the latter bound themselves together by locked shields, as the Gauls had bound themselves long before with chains, to prevent “skulking, ” These infantry nations, without any infantry system comparable to that of the Greeks and Romans, succumbed in turn to the crowd of mounted warriors—not like the Greeks and Romans for want of good military qualities, but for want of an organization which would have distributed their fighting powers to the best advantage. One has only to study the battleof Hastings to realize how completely the infantry masses of the English slipped from the control of their leaders directly the front ranks became seriously engaged. F or many generations after Hastings there was no attempt to use infantry as the kernel of armies, still less to organize it as such beforehand. Indeed, except in the Crusades, where men of high and of low degree alike fought for their common faith, and in sieges, where cavalry was powerless and the services of archers and labourers were at a premium, it
became quite unusual for infantry to appear on the field at all.