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  • Writer's pictureEmma Ford

Military camps inspired by the Romans

This is a retrospective post, because I found this information after I had designed the military camps for my elven and human factions.

The Romans were one of the greatest military forces in history, their success as warriors and settlers was due in part to their organisation and their military tactics, right down to their encampments.

Here’s how the Romans were believed to have set up their military camps:

The process of establishing a camp began while the army was still on the march. A survey unit of a Tribune and several centurions went ahead to look for the right place. It had to be open and with enough space for a 700-meter square encampment. If located near an enemy, it was about four kilometers away from their position, with a water source opponents could not divert or foul up. For defensive purposes, it was built on rising ground, in an area without cover for the enemy to use. Once a site had been selected, the surveying team marked out the camp. A white flag marked the position for the commander’s tent. A red flag marked the side nearest the water source. Camping areas, walls, and roads through the camp were marked out. Once the legionaries arrived, they set about construction. Each maniple was given around 25 meters of ditch and wall to prepare. Units carried a selection of tools between them, and each soldier carried a bundle of sharpened stakes used to form a fence. If an enemy were nearby, troops were set to keep guard and defend the camp. The rest of the men dug a three feet deep ditch, used the earth to build a rampart, and set up a fence or barricade on the top. Only then could they rest for the night. Once the camp had been built, everybody gathered together. The inhabitants of the camp swore the camp oath; a vow not to steal and to report anything they found. Then they set up their tents for the night. One group was tasked with setting up the tent for the commander and the area around it. While in camp, guards were set in various places. Some guarded the commander’s tent and kept the area around it in order. Some guarded the horses. Others guarded the supplies. There were general guard patrols, watching for any approaching enemies or trouble within the camp. Each unit also set its own sentries.

image from

This video is really boring to watch but it is does give some helpful information in regards to understanding the set up of a Roman Military camp

From the late 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD, Roman troops on campaign built a defended camp at their resting place each night. Carefully detailed and prearranged in their location and manner of construction, these bivouac sites were made to accommodate the headquarters, personnel, animals, baggage, and camp followers of whatever military-sized formation was to be housed within. Today, a camp of this nature is referred to by historians as a Roman marching-camp. Strategically, marching-camps proved to be an aggressive military instrument. They were specifically designed for operations deep in enemy territory. Their standard pattern, which varied according to the size and type of force it accommodated, was highly intimidating to an opponent. Regimented in appearance and construction, each freshly made camp marked the progress of the army and emphasised the relentlessness of its advance. The army’s action in building them eroded the enemy’s morale even before any fighting had taken place. In short, marching-camps were a pre-arranged display of massive military power. Further, these camps, left in the wake of a military advance, served as a series of stepping-stones that acted as bases for the army and sustained its movements. Marching-camps, of course, were also of strategic defensive value. They were vital to the control of conquered land. Having been originally built on defensive ground, many were transformed from temporary entrenched sites into permanent fortified positions. As such, they became not only centres of territorial administration but also troop staging areas and strong-points protecting vital lines of communications. In the tactical realm, marching-camps were essential to the success of Roman military campaigns in a number of ways. As a medium of protection they granted the troops who sheltered in them a psychological reassurance. The late 4th-century Roman military commentator Vegetius wrote in Epitome of Military Science that a camp “gave the soldiers a place of safety … as if they were carrying a walled city with them.” During battle, marching-camps were employed both offensively and defensively. Offensively they acted as staging areas and jumping-off points for assaults. Defensively they were a secure base and rallying area around which an army could retreat to safety.

The above information is from but I wasn't able to paste the link.

My camps are meant to be very different from each other and are appropriate for the factions that they represent.

The human camp is meant to look chaotic and overflowing. The idea is that the camp was started with a few soldiers as an outpost and defensive position to protect Caldahorne from their enemies – the elves. The camp was later added to and as more and more soldiers arrived they set up their tents as and where they could. The commanding officer - Tristan’s – tent at the back of the camp, furthest away from the defensive wall and palisade, and surrounded by his personal guard. The main army is camped between the commander’s tent and the palisade wall. There are roads between groups of tents to make it easy for the troops to move about camp. They are camped near a clean water source and have good trade routes with Caldahorne to the North, this means that they have access to plenty of supplies and can retreat to safety of the camp ends up under attack.

My elven camp is meant to be more organised, more like a Roman Marching camp, but I made this difficult for myself because I insisted on having tents that are five sided. I should really have used rectangular tents for the elves, but I thought the design I chose represented the aesthetic of the race better. Unfortunately this has been detrimental to the organised style of the city Viikaddo that I wanted to emulate in the elven camp.

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