Militia in Great Britain from the 17th to 19th Centuries

The Militia of Great Britain were the principal military reserve forces of the Kingdom of Great Britain. England Following the restoration of Charles II in 1660, parliament passed several acts empowering the Lord Lieutenant of each county to appoint officers and raise men for a militia force. Although the king commanded the forces, they were[…]

The Marian Reforms: Becoming a Professional Army in Ancient Rome

In order to understand the Marian army, one must consider the military structure of pre-Marian times. By Philip MathewAncient Historian Introduction The Marian Reforms were a set of the reforms introduced to the Roman army in the late 2nd century BCE by Roman general and politician Gaius Marius (157-86 BCE). Through these reforms, the Roman army[…]

Gloria Exercitus: A History of the Ancient Roman Legion

Because legions were not permanent units until the Marian reforms, hundreds were named and numbered throughout Roman history. Introduction A Roman legion (Latin legio, “military levy, conscription”, from legere “to choose”) was the largest military unit of the Roman army. A legion was roughly of brigade size, composed of 4,200 infantry and 300 cavalry in[…]

Fire Gilding of Arms and Armor in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

The practice of amalgam gilding goes back many centuries. It was used by the Romans to apply gold onto silver, known as silver-gilt. Gilding is the application of gold to the surface of some other material. Many techniques exist for doing this. A surface may be inlaid with gold wire (often referred to as damascening),[…]

Horse Armor in Europe from Antiquity to the Early Modern Era

What is probably the first man-made armor for any animal appeared as early as 2600–2500 BCE. Introduction Mankind has used animals such as onagers (wild donkeys), horses, camels, elephants, and dogs in conflicts for thousands of years, but no other animal has been employed so widely and continuously and was at times so comprehensively protected[…]

Common Misconceptions about Medieval Arms and Armor

Some misconceptions are due to lack of education and experience, and some are utter nonsense and historically vapid. Introduction The field of arms and armor is beset with romantic legends, gory myths, and widely held misconceptions. Their origins usually are to be found in a lack of knowledge of, and experience with, genuine objects and[…]

Infantry in the Middle Ages

The relative inexpensiveness of the infantryman, combined with a shortage of manpower, provided incentives for expanding their use. Introduction Despite the rise of knightly cavalry in the 11th century, infantry played an important role throughout the Middle Ages on both the battlefield and in sieges. From the 14th century onwards, there was a rise in[…]

Battles That Saved America: North Point and Baltimore, 1814

The young republic might have ceased to exist and may have become a mere footnote in the history of the world. By Command Sergeant Major James Clifford, USA-Ret.COCOM Exercise Logistics Planner for Air Force Reserve Command These few words—the opening line of the United States’ national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”—are some of the most[…]

The History of Military Ordnance in America

The American Revolution established the general outlines of the future Ordnance Department. By Karl RubisOrdnance Branch HistorianUnited States Army Introduction The Ordnance Branch is one of the oldest branches of the U.S. Army, founded on 14 May 1812. However, the duties and responsibilities of the profession date back to the colonial era. In 1629, the[…]

A History of Militias in the United States since the Colonial Period

The early colonists of America considered the militia an important social institution, necessary to provide defense and public safety. Introduction The militia of the United States, as defined by the U.S. Congress, has changed over time.[1] During colonial America, all able-bodied white men of all ages were members of the militia, depending on the respective[…]

The ‘Equites Legionis’ and the Roman Cavalry

A view on the Roman cavalry forces, especially the equites legionis. By Dr. Stefan Zehetner Institut für Alte Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Papyrologie und Epigraphik University of Vienna Introduction A view on the Roman cavalry forces, especially the equites legionis. The article describes a possible organizational chart of the legionary cavalry formation in imperial times. By[…]

Suppression and Punishment by Sortition: Decimation in the Ancient Roman Military

Decimation in Beaver’s Roman Military Punishments, by William Hogarth, c.1725 / Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikimedia Commons Punishment by lot for soldiers in ancient Rome. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.04.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Decimation (Latin: decimatio; decem = “ten”) was a form of military discipline used by senior commanders in the Roman Army to punish units or large groups guilty of[…]

A History of War as Culture

Image by Ancient Origins, Wikimedia Commons Ultimately, there is only one warrior culture. Its evolution and transformation over time and place, from our beginnings to arrival in the contemporary world, is the history of warfare. By Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan Military Historian Easter Island Easter Island is one of the loneliest places on earth,[…]

China’s Semilegendary Period: Preliminary Orientations and Legendary Conflicts

King Zhu of the Shang Dynasty Lights the Signal Beacons, a Perspective Picture / Museum of Fine Arts Boston Archaeological discoveries over the past several decades have suddenly infused life into previously shadowy remnants of ancient Chinese civilization. By Dr. Ralph D. Sawyer Senior Research Fellow University of Massachusetts Introduction When warriors battle over territory,[…]

Early Modern Islam-Christian Transfers of Military Technology, 1730-1918

Château de Coussac-Bonneval / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Virginia H. Aksan / 01.14.2011 Professor Emeritus of History McMaster University Introduction Contained after 1700, the Ottoman threat to Europe evolved into an Austro-Russian-Ottoman struggle for hegemony over the remaining frontiers of the Danube, the Crimea and the Caucasus. The era from 1700 to 1900 is generally[…]

Ignorant Armies: Private Snafu Goes to War

Opening card of the U.S. army WWII short animated films “Private Snafu”, 1943 – Wikimedia Commons Between 1943 and 1945, with the help of Warner Bros.’ finest, the U.S. Army produced a series of 27 propaganda cartoons depicting the calamitous adventures of Private Snafu. Mark David Kaufman explores their overarching theme of containment and how one[…]

Barracks and Conscription: Civil-Military Relations in Europe from 1500

By Dr. John Childs / 08.01.2011 Emeritus Professor of Military History University of Leeds Abstract To operate efficiently, armed forces require physical separation from civilian society, achieved usually through the employment of mercenaries, conscription and the provision of discrete military accommodation. War became more “popular” during the religious conflicts between 1520 and 1648 diluting civil-military[…]

Medieval and Early Modern Warfare and Cultural Transfer, 1450-1789

By Dr. Aaron Graham / 09.22.2015 Professor of History University College London Abstract Warfare was one of the few experiences between 1453 and 1789 that almost every European had in common. Although new causes and technologies emerged during this period there were also strong continuities, and although it caused death and destruction warfare could also[…]