Home Page Roman Empire
Picture Index
Picture Index Page
Children's Section
Childrens Section

The Skirmishing Formation

skirmishing-01.jpg - 32307 Bytes

The skirmishing formation is essentially the opposite to the closely packed line of battle used by legionaries. It is a widely spaced line. Every second man of the line has stepped forward a few paces, effectively doubling the amount of ranks. However, the gaps created by this formation are always overlapped by the next line to follow.
The roots of this formation are more than likely to be found with the velites, the lightly armed skirmishers who operated ahead of the main force in the early Roman army.
The wide spaces allow each soldier great mobility. Its possible uses were manyfold.
It would make an advance over difficult terrain much easier. It could allow for swift attacks with subsequent quick withdrawals. It would allow for any friendly units falling back to pass through the formation.
It also could be used by a victorious army sweeping over the battle field, killing all that was left in its way.