Chain of Command
Legions are carefully organized and efficient fighting beasts that, when carefully trained, present a truly awesome and frightening aspect on the field of battle. Tales have been told from Iridine’s history of entire legions wheeling and advancing as one man, mowing enemies beneath their flashing blades like so many stalks of wheat, a many-armed specter of death himself.
This awesome sight must be achieved by rigorous training and harsh discipline, and by competent commanders and leaders. From the topmost consul to the lowliest foot-soldier (greenie, grunt, or rookie), everyone must work together for the greater good of the legion and, ultimately, Iridine.
The top of the ‘top brass’ in the Legion, he needs to be a thinking man as well as a fighting one, as he has the final say in strategy, and in all decisions affecting his men. He is the one who takes the fall in the Senate if his men fall in the field.
Ranked just below the Consul, the Legate is in charge of the ten cohorts in the Legion, and acts as the Consul’s aide in decision-making and the carrying out of orders.
Equal in rank to the Legate, the Quaestor is responsible for the acquisition and disbursement of supplies such as armor, food, and animals. His job is extremely important, as he is the one who runs the supply lines when the Legion marches into enemy territory. Traditionally, like the Consul and Legate, the Quaestor is elected by the Senate, but of late there has been a trend of consuls asking for specific men to be their quaestors.
Also traditionally elected by the Senate of Iridine, the Military Tribunes are each in charge of one cohort of men, which is six centuries, or six hundred men. They can either be senior or junior (often training under a senior) Most of them ride into battle with their men, although some few march, and usually at the rear, in order to better direct their soldiers’ movements. They receive their orders from the Legate, although occasionally they may be asked to attend battle-planning with the consul.
First Centurion (primus pilae)
The First Centurion, or Primus Pilus, is the First Centurion of the First Century of the First Cohort in a Legion, and senior to all other centurions in the Legion. Thus, he receives his orders directly from the Tribunes, and may on rare occasions be asked to attend battle planning with the consul. He is certainly the spokesman for the rankers under his command in the Legion.
The centurions are often rankers who have worked their way up from the bottom through years of military campaigning. They are in charge of one century, or a hundred men, eighty soldiers and twenty non-combatants. They are often considered more valuable even than Tribunes, as they are the ones who train and drill the men, and lead them into battle at the head of the formation.
Decurions are rankers who have worked their way up from being the lowliest of grunts to being in charge of a squad of twenty-five men. They provide leadership for their unit when it is not formed into a century, and take their orders from their centurion.
An Optio are in charge of ten men, usually enough to form a patrol. These ten are the ones who eat together, camp together, and fight elbow to elbow with one another every day.
A contubernalis, or “cadet”, is an officer in training. He is often a patrician’s son beginning his journey up the “cursus honorum” to eventually end as consul, if he lives long enough. He then technically is higher ranked than a common foot-soldier, but since he is in the legion to learn, he is placed equal to a Optio in rank, without men to command until he proves himself.
Especially promising contubernali (sometimes with the help of a substantial bribe from their parents) might be placed as an aide to the Tribunes, Legate or Quaestor, where they may learn firsthand the duties associated with running a legion.
Standard-Bearers, or Aquilifers and Signifers, are men who have been awarded because of acts of valor or courage the right to carry their unit’s Standard in battle. Each century has a standard-bearer, as does each cohort, with one for the entire legion itself. Standard-Bearers may often be distinguished not only by the decorated Standard poles they carry but also by the bear, lion, or tiger skins they wear, with heads attached, over their armor. They often follow their centurion into battle. They are ranked equally to Decurions, with the Legion Standard-Bearer being senior.
‘Ranker,’ ‘Grunt.’ The common infantryman, enlisted from the ranks of the common folk. They are expected to outfit themselves with armor, weapons, and kit, and will serve a minimum of ten years or four big campaigns, whichever comes first. Many re-enlist.
An individual who has successfully be evaluated to be capable of putting up with the rigors of training. They are commonly of Iridinian in birth, though it is not a requirement. One who is judged as having strong potential is often identified with the much coveted green sash.