National Geographic : 1946 Nov
Unconditional Surrender T HE WHOLE Roman Empire was held with only about 150,000 citizen soldiers, supplemented by a roughly equal number of non-Italian auxiliaries! For efficiency in attacking, subduing, occupying, and ad ministering enemy territory, the famed Roman legion has seldom or never been equaled by another military organi zation. The same legionaries who routed the enemy in the open could reduce a stronghold by siegecraft, and after the foe had capitulated they could handle disarmament control, police patrol, and general administrative supervision. Julius Caesar, the best known and probably the most gifted of the Latin army leaders who not merely conquered but pacified, organized, and administered the hostile and rebellious nations which surrounded Italy, was not unique. Many of the emperors who came after him served for arduous months and even years in the field at the head of armed forces. Trajan, a professional soldier born and bred, passed the greater part of his life with the troops. His exploits on the Danube frontier are vividly pictured on the relief carvings which wind around the marble shaft of a spectacular hundred-foot column, still standing above the ruins of his great hall of justice in Rome. Besides battles in the deep forests and at the river crossed by the famous bridge, these reliefs show scenes in camp, the siege and capture of Dacian towns, surrender of pris oners, harangues to the soldiers, and distribution of rewards. Some sixty years after Trajan's conquests the Danube once again beheld the embattled Roman legions under an- other great emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Two revolting Ger man tribes in the lands which aretoday Czechoslovakia and Hungary fought stubbornly forseveral years and were as stubbornly pursued, defeated, and destroyed, with theEm peror himself in charge ofthe difficult campaign. The Piazza Colonna in Rometakes itsmodern name from the ancient hundred-foot Column ofMarcus Aurelius, onwhich in rivalry with Trajan's Column thespiral band ofcarvings narrates the incidents of these Germanic wars. The illustration is adapted from scenes onthese two famous columns. A strategic pass inadensely wooded and mountainous region of central Europe, "across theRhine and Danube," has been occupied bynative tribes with a large log-built stockade setonanoutcropping ledge ofrock. Below it are the houses and stalls ofavillage, similarly built of logs hewn from the forests and setonfoundations of roughly trimmed and fittedfield stone. The legionaries have had little difficulty insetting the stockade on fire by lobbing flaming timbers with their artillery and are now busy rounding upthefew remaining warriors who still show fight. The women and unarmed males have already been captured and brought tothefoot of the Roman commander-in-chief's podium, hastily put together from felled trees by thesappers. Surrender is unconditional; but thesubsequent treatment of the captives will not bemerciless except where treachery and renewed rebellion prove totheoccupying military authorities that the lesson ofdefeat has notbeen fully learned by these Germanic tribes.