When we think about logistics everyone comes to mind companies like Amazon or the management of maritime transport. However, logistics is as old as humanity. And it has always existed. From the transport of the marble of the pyramids, the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, the fleet of the East Indies or the military quartermaster of an aircraft carrier.
In this post I will talk about such a transcendental element in the history of Western civilization as the Roman Empire and the logistics behind its campaigns.
When we think of the logistics of a military campaign in the old age we must take into account the amount of supplies that had to be transported both food and equipment to maintain the advance and secure positions.
Giving a sense of scale of this situation. Each soldier carried an approximate amount of 40 kg of weight. In addition, every eight soldiers used to carry a mule and a couple of slaves, all for transport only. If we do the calculations this supposes that for each company (4800 soldiers) there were between 600 and 1200 mules as well as around 1200 slaves. In this way we can get an idea of the magnitude of the organization of this logistics.
The calculations show us that each legion consumed 8000 kg of grain, 45000 liters of water and 18000 kg of animal feed, all this on a daily basis to give us an idea of the difficulty of management.
But how were the supplies organized?
On different levels. Firstly, as I have said, each soldier carried part of his supplies. Secondly, supplies collected during the conquest and finally supplies sent to the army.
On the first level. Each soldier carried food for a week. In addition, each battalion carried mules with food for a month. In reference to water, for example, it carried just enough because of the illogical nature of its transport.
At the second level, the army obtained supplies through three methods: foraging, requisition and pillaging. But these strategies were not always enough and this is where the logistics of the Roman Empire comes in.
The most important thing is the existence of supply lines that connect the army to a supply source. Within the supply lines we differentiate three elements. The strategic point from which the army is supplied. As a strategic point we can say the provincial capitals with their market and their suppliers. Together to this we found the operational point that would be where all the intendencia would be realized as well as the storage. From this point the transport would be done up to a point located halfway called tactical point. The idea is that as the campaign progresses, the operational centers will become in the future a strategic point there that are located next to the river beds. The tactical points are where all the supplies for the daily maintenance of the campaign are stored and are the closest element.
The functioning of the supply chain is the transport from the operational points that have been supplied by the strategic centers, to the tactical points one by one and to be supplying the following one. Securing the supply for the future in the last always