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Rome's Dacian Wars

The Emperor Trajan came to power in 98 AD when the Roman Empire was probably at its strongest. He expanded the Empire even further with a victory over Parthia, but it was his two wars against the Dacians that would define his reign. Modern day visitors to Rome are reminded of this conflict when viewing Trajan's column.

The Dacians occupied most of modern day Romania and in 86AD had destroyed an entire legion (The 5th Alaudae). Despite being defeated in 88AD raiding continued and Trajan organised a huge army (around 100,000 men) in 101AD to invade Dacia. The Dacian King Decebalus together with his Sarmatian and Bastarnae allies gave battle at Tapae. The Romans won a costly victory that didn't pacify the country and it wasn't until the following year that they forced a surrender.

Peace lasted a few years before Decebalus returned to his old ways. In 105AD an even larger Roman army invaded, capturing the capital and Decebalus committed suicide rather than being captured. Dacia was then settled and assimilated into the Empire.

For more on the Dacian wars I would recommend the Warlord Games, Hail Caesar supplement, Rome's Dacian Wars. This has all you need to wargame this conflict.

The core of the Roman army are the legions made up of 10 cohorts totalling up to 5,000 men at full strength. Legionaries are armoured heavy infantry equipped with a sword, shield and a heavy throwing spear called a pilum. These are Warlord plastics.

Two more cohorts with a supporting unit of auxiliary infantry. Legionaries are again from the Warlord plastic range.

Auxiliary infantry were just as important to Roman armies and often did much of the fighting. These are armoured archers.

Other auxiliary infantry were equipped like the legionaries, if somewhat lighter armour. Spear, sword, shield and javelin were common weapons.

This picture includes a scorpio bolt thrower. Mobile light artillery support for the legions.


Then we have the Dacian warband. Most famous for the two handed falx. A long curved blade usually used with two hands. But other warriors would be equipped with spears and swords.

These are Warlord plastics.

And their allies the Sarmatians. Cataphracts armed with Kontos.

Some Dacian command stands.

and finally some battle shots.



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Copyright 2005 Balkan Military History
Last modified: 01/23/12