INFANTRY DRILL COMMANDS

  1. Commands types:
    1. Cautionary (warning given 3-4 paces before the executive command)
    2. Executive (given when the right foot is on the ground)
  2. Pace Length:
    1. Quick/slow time 30 inches
    2. Double time 40 inches
  3. Marching Cadence:
    1. Quick time 120/minut
    2. Slow time 60/minute
    3. Double time 180/minute

Accelerate

A-kel-e-ra-te

Speed up

 

Aciem formate

Ak-ee-em for-ma-te

Form battle-line

Legions adopted an open formation for advance in battle. The rank(s) face the enemy with shields to the front and pilum ready to volley. File fronts are 3’ (on centre) and ranks are 6’ apart (to allow throwing room for pila).

Ad gladios clinate

Add gla-dee-os clee-na-te

Turn to the right

Turn 90o to the right (towards your gladius). With knees braced, pivot using your right heel and left toe ending with your weight on the right foot. Bring your left foot forward and assume attention position.

Ad gladios rotate

Add gla-dee-os row-ta-te

Right wheel

While marching, the soldier on the far right stops moving forward, marches in place and starts to rotate slowly clockwise. This soldier, and all others in the rank (except for the one on the far left) looks to his left to make sure he is even with the men to his left. The soldier on the far left looks to his right, along the length of the line, and controls the wheel speed.

Ad scuta clinate

Add scoo-ta clee-na-te

Left Face

Turn 90o to the left (towards your scutum). This is the reverse of the ad gladius clinate.

Ad scuta rotate

Add scoo-ta row-ta-te

Left Wheel

This counter clockwise left wheel is a reverse of ad gladius rotate.

Ad signa

Add sig-na

Fall in

Grab your shield and pilum and fall-in to the left of the vexillum in a single rank (shoulder-to-shoulder) facing the CO/OC.

Agmen formate

Ag-men for-ma-te

Form marching column

Form a single (or double) file column. This is the marching formation employed when not in battle.

Clamate

Cla-ma-te

Battle-Cry

With respect to battle cries, barbarians (i.e. Germans) relied upon their barites (battle cry) to bolster the courage of their troops, however the Romans recognized that noise contributes to confusion and command loss. Whereas early Roman armies (i.e. Republican period) banged their shields and yelled as they advanced, in the Principate they were silent until the pila discharge. Goldsworthy (in his book The Complete Roman Army) provides the following sequence of events - at 30-50’pila were discharged, then a shout was given, the cornu was sounded and the men charged. The combined pila volley and "last minute scream" unnerved the enemy. If their opponents did not flee then the lines clashed. Silence reigned at all other times.

Cuneum formate

Cu-nee-um for-ma-te

Form wedge

For this manoeuvre some re-enactment groups place their Centurio at the centre of the first rank leading a charge. The men trail off to his left and right which leaves him exposed as a candidate to become the first casualty. The precise Roman formation is unknown.

Exite

Ex-ee-te

Transforms two ranks into one

Following a langia order, the rear rank takes one step to the left and then advances to the front creating a single rank.

Exspectate

Ex-spec-ta-te

Wait for it

 

Frontem dirigite

Fron-tem di-ri-ge-te

Dress the ranks

The man on the right holds fast while those to his left maintain their shoulders squared to the front & turn their heads right 45o. Extend your right elbow to the man to your right (this will establish [close order] spacing of roughly 2’ between files on centre). Ensure that the rank forms a straight line with shield bosses facing left, legs together and caligae aligned. If there are two ranks then ‘uno’ will dress the first rank and ‘duo’ the second with 6’ spacing between the ranks. [M]

Gladios recondite

Gla-dee-os re-con-de-te

Sheath swords

 

Gladios stringite

Gla-dee-os strin-ge-te

Draw swords

 

Intra

In-tra

Transforms one rank into two

The soldier starting from the far left (and every other man thereafter) takes one step back, and then shifts to the right directly behind the man who had been to his immediate right.

Iungete

Yung-e-te

Close ranks.

This tightens up the two ranks created by an intra command.

Langia ad ambas partes

Lan-gia add am-bas par-tes

Move out to both sides (Open order)

Extend your left and right arms laterally (this increases spacing to 6’ between files on centre and enables a unit to march in formation over rough terrain more easily and discharge their pila without endangering their comrades).

Langia ad senestram amba parte

Lan-gia add se-nes-tram am-ba par-te

Close order

Extend your left arm to the shoulder of the man to your left (this increases the lateral spacing to 3’ between each soldier). [M]

Laxate

Lax-a-te

At ease

Set your shield down on edge, rest your pilum butt spike on the ground, and stand at ease with feet apart, shoulders squared and facing the front. Maintain silence.

Mandata captate

Man-da-ta cap-ta-te

Attention

Stand at attention (shoulders back, eyes front). Hold your shield by its grip in your left hand and your pilum vertically in the right (just below the square block). [M]

Movete

Mo-way-te

March

March to the front. Start with your left foot & a first step of 15" followed by regular 30" paces. The heel touches the ground first. [M]

If preceded by a command, such as "ad gladios clina - movete!" then face the indicated direction, and step off to the front. Step can be maintained by calling out "sin, dex…"

Nunc

Nunc

Now!

Execute the preceding command. (i.e., ad gladios clinate – nunc)

Orbem formate

Or-bem for-ma-te

Form a circle

When surrounded, legionaries formed a defensive circle with archers and officers in the centre.

Ordenem servate

Or-den-em ser-wa-te

Keep your position

Hold fast. [M]

Parate

Pa-raw-tay (adverb)

Prepare

While facing the enemy (typically the spectators) with swords drawn, prepare to attack.

Parati

Par-a-tee

Ready

[M]

Pila deponite

Pee-la day-po-ni-te

Lay down your pilum

 

Pila iacite

Pee-la ee-a-ke-te

Throw your spear

Advance three steps (left, right, left), thrust off the ground with your back (right) foot and throw. Immediately following the discharge you land on your right foot, draw your sword with your right hand and extend it past your shield, bring your left foot forward, and halt to await orders to charge or receive a charge.

Pila infigete

Pee-la in-fee-gay-te

Plant your pilum

Stick the butt spike into the earth.

Pila parate

Pee-la pa-ra-tay

Prepare to throw your pilum

Advance one pace with your right foot, grip your pila and hold at shoulder level parallel to the ground.

(NOTE: some US groups have the left foot followed by - grip and raise your pila and cock your arm for throwing).

Pila tollite

Pee-la to-le-tee

Pick up pilum

 

Porro

Po-ro

 

Attack. Maintain the ranks and advance at double pace with your sword drawn.

Quadratum Formate

Qua-dra-tum for-ma-te

Form a square

 

Silentium

See-len-tee-oom

Silence

Cease talking in the ranks. [M]

State

Sta-te

Halt

The command is issued when the right foot is extended and on the ground. Stop on your left foot, bring your right foot alongside and stand at attention.

Tacete

Ta-cay-te

Be silent

 

Tacite

Ta-ce-tay

Quietly

This is an adverb that can be attached to a command.

Tardate

Tar-da-te

Slow down

 

Tarde

Tar-de

Slowly

This is an adverb that can be attached to a command.

Testudinem formate

Tes-tud-in-um for-ma-te

Form testudo

This formation can be created using as few as six men in three files of two ranks. The front rank is arranged with shields before them and drawn blades projecting between their shields. The second rank raises its shields horizontally and holds them over their heads and the heads of those of the first rank. The formation contracts to form a turtle-like shell. Everyone advances maintaining a uniform step. Cohesion can be assisted with a chant such as Ro-ma, Dex-Sin, etc. The testudo protects men engaged in siege mining or advancing under heavy missile fire.

Transformate

Trans-for-ma-te

About face

Turn to your right 180o (unless you hear "ad scutum, transforma"). Brace your legs and lock your thighs to maintain your balance. Pivot using your right heel and left toe ending with your weight on the right foot. Bring your left foot forward and assume attention position.

Vos Dimitto

Wos dee-mitt-o

I dismiss you

 

 

 

INITIAL COMMANDS

Ad signa

Add sig-na

Fall in

Grab your shield and pilum and fall-in to the left of the vexillum in a single rank (shoulder-to-shoulder) facing the CO/OC.

Silentium

See-len-tee-oom

Silence

Cease talking in the ranks. [M]

Mandata captate

Man-da-ta cap-ta-te

Attention

Stand at attention (shoulders back, eyes front). Hold your shield by its grip in your left hand and your pilum vertically in the right (just below the square block). [M]

DRESSING THE RANKS

Frontem dirigite

Fron-tem di-ri-ge-te

Dress the ranks

The man on the right holds fast while those to his left maintain their shoulders squared to the front & turn their heads right 45o. Extend your right elbow to the man to your right (this will establish [close order] spacing of roughly 2’ between files on centre). Ensure that the rank forms a straight line with shield bosses facing left, legs together and caligae aligned. If there are two ranks then ‘uno’ will dress the first rank and ‘duo’ the second with 6’ spacing between the ranks. [M]

Langia ad senestram amba parte

Lan-gia add se-nes-tram am-ba par-te

Close order

Extend your left arm to the shoulder of the man to your left (this increases the lateral spacing to 3’ between each soldier). [M]

Laxate

Lax-a-te

At ease

Set your shield down on edge, rest your pilum butt spike on the ground, and stand at ease with feet apart, shoulders squared and facing the front. Maintain silence.

Intra

In-tra

Transforms one rank into two

The soldier starting from the far left (and every other man thereafter) takes one step back, and then shifts to the right directly behind the man who had been to his immediate right.

Iungete

Yung-e-te

Close ranks.

This tightens up the two ranks created by an intra command.

Exite

Ex-ee-te

Transforms two ranks into one

Following a langia order, the rear rank takes one step to the left and then advances to the front creating a single rank.

TURNING AND INCLINING FROM THE HALT

Ad gladios clinate

Add gla-dee-os clee-na-te

Turn to the right

Turn 90o to the right (towards your gladius). With knees braced, pivot using your right heel and left toe ending with your weight on the right foot. Bring your left foot forward and assume attention position.

Ad scuta clinate

Add scoo-ta clee-na-te

Left Face

Turn 90o to the left (towards your scutum). This is the reverse of the ad gladius clinate.

Transformate

Trans-for-ma-te

About face

Turn to your right 180o (unless you hear "ad scutum, transforma"). Brace your legs and lock your thighs to maintain your balance. Pivot using your right heel and left toe ending with your weight on the right foot. Bring your left foot forward and assume attention position.

MARCHING

Agmen formate

Ag-men for-ma-te

Form marching column

Form a single (or double) file column. This is the marching formation employed when not in battle.

Ad gladios rotate

Add gla-dee-os row-ta-te

Right wheel

While marching, the soldier on the far right stops moving forward, marches in place and starts to rotate slowly clockwise. This soldier, and all others in the rank (except for the one on the far left) looks to his left to make sure he is even with the men to his left. The soldier on the far left looks to his right, along the length of the line, and controls the wheel speed.

Ad scuta rotate

Add scoo-ta row-ta-te

Left Wheel

This counter clockwise left wheel is a reverse of ad gladius rotate.

Accelerate

A-kel-e-ra-te

Speed up

 

Movete

Mo-way-te

March

March to the front. Start with your left foot & a first step of 15" followed by regular 30" paces. The heel touches the ground first. [M]

If preceded by a command, such as "ad gladios clina - movete!" then face the indicated direction, and step off to the front. Step can be maintained by calling out "sin, dex…"

Tardate

Tar-da-te

Slow down

 

Tarde

Tar-de

Slowly

This is an adverb that can be attached to a command.

State

Sta-te

Halt

The command is issued when the right foot is extended and on the ground. Stop on your left foot, bring your right foot alongside and stand at attention.

COMBAT FORMATION COMMANDS

Aciem formate

Ak-ee-em for-ma-te

Form battle-line

Legions adopted an open formation for advance in battle. The rank(s) face the enemy with shields to the front and pilum ready to volley. File fronts are 3’ (on centre) and ranks are 6’ apart (to allow throwing room for pila).

Cuneum formate

Cu-nee-um for-ma-te

Form wedge

For this manoeuvre some re-enactment groups place their Centurio at the centre of the first rank leading a charge. The men trail off to his left and right which leaves him exposed as a candidate to become the first casualty. The precise Roman formation is unknown.

Orbem formate

Or-bem for-ma-te

Form a circle

When surrounded, legionaries formed a defensive circle with archers and officers in the centre.

Quadratum Formate

Qua-dra-tum for-ma-te

Form a square

 

Testudinem formate

Tes-tud-in-um for-ma-te

Form testudo

This formation can be created using as few as six men in three files of two ranks. The front rank is arranged with shields before them and drawn blades projecting between their shields. The second rank raises its shields horizontally and holds them over their heads and the heads of those of the first rank. The formation contracts to form a turtle-like shell. Everyone advances maintaining a uniform step. Cohesion can be assisted with a chant such as Ro-ma, Dex-Sin, etc. The testudo protects men engaged in siege mining or advancing under heavy missile fire.

PILA COMMANDS

Pila deponite

Pee-la day-po-ni-te

Lay down your pilum

 

Pila tollite

Pee-la to-le-tee

Pick up pilum

 

Pila infigete

Pee-la in-fee-gay-te

Plant your pilum

Stick the butt spike into the earth.

Langia ad ambas partes

Lan-gia add am-bas par-tes

Move out to both sides

Extend your left and right arms laterally (this increases spacing to 6’ between files on centre and enables a unit to march in formation over rough terrain more easily and discharge their pila without endangering their comrades).

Pila parate

Pee-la pa-ra-tay

Prepare to throw your pilum

Advance one pace with your right foot, grip your pila and hold at shoulder level parallel to the ground.

(NOTE: some US groups have the left foot followed by - grip and raise your pila and cock your arm for throwing).

Pila iacite

Pee-la ee-a-ke-te

Throw your spear

Advance three steps (left, right, left), thrust off the ground with your back (right) foot and throw. Immediately following the discharge you land on your right foot, draw your sword with your right hand and extend it past your shield, bring your left foot forward, and halt to await orders to charge or receive a charge.

GLADIUS COMMANDS

Gladios recondite

Gla-dee-os re-con-de-te

Sheath swords

 

Gladios stringite

Gla-dee-os strin-ge-te

Draw swords

 

ATTACK COMMANDS

Ordenem servate

Or-den-em ser-wa-te

Keep your position

Hold fast. [M]

Exspectate

Ex-spec-ta-te

Wait for it

 

Parate

Pa-raw-tay (adverb)

Prepare

While facing the enemy (typically the spectators) with swords drawn, prepare to attack.

Parati

Par-a-tee

Ready

[M]

Porro

Po-ro

 

Attack. Maintain the ranks and advance at double pace with your sword drawn.

Clamate

Cla-ma-te

Battle-Cry

With respect to battle cries, barbarians (i.e. Germans) relied upon their barites (battle cry) to bolster the courage of their troops; however the Romans recognized that noise contributes to confusion and command loss. Whereas early Roman armies (i.e. Republican period) banged their shields and yelled as they advanced, in the Principate they were silent until the pila discharge. Goldsworthy (in his book The Complete Roman Army) provides the following sequence of events - at 30-50’pila were discharged, then a shout was given, the cornu was sounded and the men charged. The combined pila volley and "last minute scream" unnerved the enemy. If their opponents did not flee then the lines clashed. Silence reigned at all other times.

OTHER

Tacete

Ta-cay-te

Be silent

 

Tacite

Ta-ce-tay

Quietly

This is an adverb that can be attached to a command.

Nunc

Nunc

Now

Execute the preceding command. (i.e., ad gladios clinate – nunc)

Vos Dimitto

Wos dee-mitt-o

I dismiss you

 

ARTILLERY DRILL COMMANDS

Ballistam/Catapultam Parate

Prepare the Piece for Firing

Catapultam Torquete

Wind the Piece

Sagittam Ponite

Load the Piece

Catapultam Dirigite

Aim the Piece

Parate

Prepare to Fire

Dimittite

Fire

Tutam Reddite

Secure the Piece