26 July 2018

I Like What If's

There's a whole series of videos on YouTube where a large number of Romans are pitted against a smaller number of much more modern troops in some sort of simulator program.

One which caught my eye was 10,000 WW2 US Soldiers vs 50,000 Romans.

Ten thousand WW2 US troops, that's a division by the way, are going to have a lot more than small arms at their disposal, and aren't all going to be armed with M1 Thompsons.

The mortars are going to put paid to the legions because of sheer terror.

They simply weren't as accustomed to such loud noises as we are today.  It's mentioned over and over in account after account the effect the sound of gunpowder weapons had on the enemy when they're first being developed and deployed.

Never mind that the mortar rounds the US would deploy aren't just making noise.

To a Roman it would be as if Jupiter Himself had sided with the strange men in green and lobbed thunderbolts at him.

Never mind the effect that belt-fed guns would have.

A US division should have some heavier guns, and tanks as well.

It would be a slaughter and rout for the Romans.


  1. That was... interesting. Especially postulating that the US would fight in a square, standing up. Even with Thompsons. What commander would allow his troops to fight like that? At least do a 3-rank line, yeesh.

    And where's the Roman artillery, slingers and archers?

    I like what-ifs also, just not realistic what-ifs.

    Come on, man. Now, 5k US troops with all the appropriate equipment, appropriate tactics, decent leadership, against 50K Romans, properly equipped and properly led (if the Romans don't rout right away from the explosives?)

    Hmmm. Now that would be an interesting thing to play out using some decent game mechanics. May even be able to do it with 1.5k GI's. Kinda a modern Rourke's Drift, except with .30-06 power. Wonder how far standard .30-06 ball ammo will punch through scutums and armor vs .45 ball vs .30 Carbine? Hmmmmm. Interesting.

  2. Have you ever read 1632? It postulates modern weapons against armies of 1632. One thing that I think you don;t take into account is discipline - in the Roman Army, if you left your post you were executed; I don't think they would have broken as easily as you think. Later mercenary armies and conscripts, yes - but not a Roman legion.

    1. The Zulus also had great discipline and a no-retreat attitude, only thing missing is the heavier armor of the Romans. Didn't save them a bit at Rourke's Drift, where they outnumbered the British by 25 to 1 or more and knew about and had some of their own firearms. The Zulus had the heights for sniping or other missile fire, as the trading post was in the valley base. And the Martini-Henry's were single shot guns.

      As to the scenario, if the US has a full load-out of gear, even a paratrooper unit's load out, it would be extremely one-sided. Range attacks at 200 - 300 yards, within the operating range of the M1 Carbine and well within the range of the Garand, would really screw up the Romans. Even their Testudo formation. Even the Carbine would punch through a scutum at 100 yards, maybe not the body armor if they are issued segmenta, but the Garand would punch through (most likely) the scutum and segmenta armor, might not go through 1, might penetrate and hit 2nd target. The Thompson shows a max range of 150 yards, but penetration against armor and shield might Only be at 75 yards. That's not including all the fun stuff, like the effects of the BAR, the M1919, rifle grenades, hand grenades, mortars (as our host McThag said,) satchel charges and other improvised explosives, friggin bazookas and recoiless rifles (depending on what time period of WWII and what theater.) All of that without vehicle support (from Jeeps to Trucks to Armored Cars to Tanks and Tank Destroyers)(thus the Paras) or Artillery support or Aviation support (bad joke, how can you tell if you've come across Americans during WWII? You'll see 1-10, and then they'll disappear and 5 minutes later you'll disappear under artillery barrage or aerial assault.)

      That's not even counting individual unit snipers and designated marksmen doing long-range sniping of any person that stood out in the Roman ranks (you know, the guys with the helmet tufts, or helmet combs, or the ones carrying the standards.

      Closing at max speed is the only way the Romans could win on the attack. And after watching really in shape guys get gassed from running 200 yards in armor, I would not think the Romans would have a chance if they charged. Their whole tactics centered around walking and unit cohesiveness, and they only charged the last bit, or when facing a routed, broken and demoralized enemy.

      Now, if the Romans somehow got into hand-to-hand range? I'd put my money on the sword. But the GIs 20 feet away would blast most fulsomely the Romans, unless the GIs broke and ran.

      The only real way a 50K unit of Romans could potentially win would be to hole up and lay siege to the GIs. Lack of supply would hamper the Americans, forcing them into the attack, giving the Romans the opportunity to use missile weapons, prepared fields and hit-and-retreat tactics.

      Would be fun to game out.

      The 'Ring of Fire' series is interesting. The only thing in 1632 that stopped the pike unit was the M60 chewing big holes and destroying unit cohesiveness (the thing that really makes pikes deadly.)

    2. Sure, the Centurion can have me executed, what is that compared to THE GODS THEMSELVES SIDING AGAINST US?

      And the vaunted legions did break and run from conventional forces on occasion. Died in droves too, because breaking and running is one of the best ways to get dead. In their day, surrender was also a good way to get dead.

      Discipline only carries you so far. It's right up there with élan for effectiveness against machine guns if your tactic is "march in concentrated blocks in plain sight".

    3. Yup. The Romans broke and ran. It's what caused the loss of so many legions in proto-Germany. And it is the reason for the practice of Decimation.

      As to Elan and Formations, it's all fun and games until someone starts playing the Spandau Ballet. Which some countries maybe finally learned sometime about November 11, 1918.


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