With the Romans nearing completion I need to identify them, Cohort I or II is not enough, they represent a military unit of a formidable and well organised military machine with a pedigree which covered hundreds of years so it would be unforgivable in my books to simply plonk them on the table as a representation Roman unit. My troops are based in the East so that cuts it down to around five or six legions which were almost permanently stationed there apart from when they were required as ‘fire brigades’ elsewhere. There are a couple of famous legions, III Gallica and IV Scythica come to mind but I don’t always like to plumb for the obvious so I have gone for Legio XII Fulminata or in layman’s terms ‘Thunderbolt Twelfth Legion’, aka Paterna, Victrix, Antiqua, Certa Constans and Galliena.
This is one of Caesar’s original legions and seems to have been active in the East from the end of Augustus’ reign, it lost its Eagle in 66AD during the Jewish Revolt but returned to form under its commander T. Flavius Vespasian whom it supported gaining the Imperial throne. During my chosen period it fought against the Parthians under Lucius Verus, then moved with Marcus Aurelius to fight the Quadi in modern Slovakia before remaining loyal to Marcus when Giaus Avidius Cassius revolted. It did not remain loyal in 193 when it sided with Pescennius Niger against Septimius Severus and it was punished by being reduced to the status of a reserve for a time. It was still guarding the frontier as late as the 5th Century.
There is something about military numbers which I think fascinates us all, you can see a 3 but if you see 3rd Regiment of Foot, there is instantly a history, battles, campaigns and characters for us to delve into, we can simply skim the surface or we can garner enough information to bore someone to death. It even doesn’t have to be numbers, in my Dark Age armies the units are identified by their banners, the Horses, the Wolf the Praying Man etc. and of course when I had medieval armies it would be a lord, Bruce, Warwick, Douglas or whatever. But it has to be something, I could not simply throw a bunch of troops onto the table and say, the blue guys will fire at the red guys or some such thing.
What is even better is when your miniature warriors gain their own reputations, and I know I am bordering on madness here. My Iron Brigade for instance has yet to come close to the real one, my 39th New York should not be put where you need stalwart troops, but you can rely on the 44th, nearly all my elites are not worthy of the name despite the lavish paint jobs and beautiful banners, numerous pep talks and tantrums. My most notable unit ever was the Comte de Alencon who only ever lost one fight, I was crazy enough to record every battle back then, when he was surrounded by Sung Chinese infantry and chariots, hit in the flanks and rear. Even my opponents eventually asked me to point him out on the table, top man.
So how will the ‘Thunderbolt Twelfth’ fare, I have no idea who will be the stars and who will be decimated but the time is approaching when they will have to draw their weapons in anger and begin to build their own reputation, I am expecting big things.