May 6, 2005

Legio XIII Gemina

History of the LEGIO XIII GEMINA
Legio XIII Gemina can be thought of as one of Julius Caesar's legions that existed for more than four and a half centuries. Julius Caesar formed a Legio XIII in 57 B.C. as part of his army to conquer Gaul. The legion fought with Caesar at Gergovia in 52 B.C. and, during the Civil Wars, at Pharsalus (48 B.C.), Uzita (47 B.C.), and Thapsus (46 B.C.). Caesar discharged his veterans from Legio XIII in 45 B.C. and gave them plots of land where they could enjoy a well deserved retirement.
Augustus, then only Octavian, re-formed Legio XIII in 41 B.C. with new recruits and some of Caesar's old veterans who remembered that Octavian was Caesar's heir. The legion campaigned with Octavian against Sextus Pompeius and was with Octavian for the final battle against Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra at Actium in 31 B.C.
After Actium, Octavian reorganized the Roman army. It was then that Legio XIII received its cognomen Gemina meaning that legionaries from several other units had been combined with it. Legio XIII kept its unit symbol, the lion, and still thought of itself as one of Caesar's finest.
XIII Gemina's first posting under Augustus was at Burnum (modern Kistanje) on the Adriatic coast of Croatia from 30-16 B.C. During Tiberius' campaign to conquer the Alpine regions, it moved to Emona (now Llubljana) in Slovenia. Between 6 and 9 A.D., XIII Gemina was part of the great Roman army assembled to crush the Pannonian and Illyrian uprising.
In 9 A.D., the Rhine frontier exploded when the German tribes ambushed a Roman expedition and destroyed Varus and his 3 legions. XIII Gemina left Emona and was transferred to Augusta Vindelica (Augsburg) in Germany to replace a legion sent to restore the Rhine frontier. From Augusta Vindelica, the legion moved to Vindonissa (now Windisch) in Switzerland in 16 A.D. to build a new base to protect the Alpine passes from any German threat.
Claudius invaded Britain in 43 A.D. with an army that included one legion from Pannonia. XIII Gemina was sent from Vindonissa to Poetovio (Ptuj) in Slovenia to replace that legion. This was XIII Gemina's home until 89 A.D. although the legion was part of the army that fought for Otho against Vitellius in Italy in 69 A.D., and afterwards campaigned along the Rhine under Cerialis to bring law and order to Germania.
In the 80's A.D., the Dacians and Sarmatians flooded across the Danube to loot and burn in Pannonia and Moesia. XIII Gemina moved from Poetovio up to the Danube and built the first Roman base at Vindobonna (Vienna) in Austria. The legion fought in the Sarmatian campaign in 92 A.D. and helped conquer Dacia for Trajan. Its reward was to be the principle garrison legion in the newly won province. XIII Gemina was then based at Apulum (Alba Iulia) in Romania from 106 A.D. until 268 A.D. From time to time, it was called upon to campaign in other provinces; against the Parthians under Trajan, and in Syria to put Septimius Severus on the throne in 194 A.D.
During the troubled times of the mid-3rd Century, the Emperor Aurelian decided that he could no longer hold Dacia against the constant attacks of the barbarian tribes. XIII Gemina had done its best to hold back the barbarian flood, but the odds were too heavy against it. The legions and the Romanized civilian population evacuated Dacia between 268 and 271 A.D. XIII Gemina, beaten and battered by years of warfare, was pulled back to Poetovio in Slovenia. There, it was reinforced and retrained. In 270 A.D., it returned to the Danube to Ratiaria (Artschav in modern Bulgaria) in the newly organized province of Dacia Ripensis.
XIII Gemina remained at Ratiaria until the end of the Roman Empire in the West. At the end, when the legionaries' pay and supplies had stopped coming somewhere around 400 A.D., the remnants of the legion melted away. The last of the old soldiers hung his armor on the wall and turned to farming to support his family.