Soldiers throughout History


Alex Wright



The roman army was split into about 30 legions of about 5,000 people, which were divided into centuries of 100 people, which were divided into messes of 8 people who shared rations and a tent. Romans could join as early as when they were 18 years old, and enlisted for 25 years. If they were native Romans, they would get land and money upon return, if they were not, they would get full citizenship. The Romans were extremely disciplined in battle. They would form ranks facing the opponent, throw javelins, and fight with swords and shields.  They would adapt to the situation, forming shield walls to besiege a town.


About 1000 years later, the vikings came around. Soldiers were supposed to have 4 spears, a sword, an axe, and a shield. But because they were expensive, most could only afford an axe and shield. Soldiers received pay and armor for their service. They did not carry jars to hold their food, rather they carried dishware and hunted their food.

In medieval times, crusades happened when the Pope tried to take back the holy lands from the Muslims. Some people went to excuse their sins, some went for adventure, treasure, and land. Rich crusaders were knights and rode into battle on horses. They carried a lance, a sword, and an axe. Poorer crusaders carried crossbows. Some died on the march from disease and exhaustion, some fell behind the richer knights and were killed by Muslim soldiers.


When the Europeans created colonies, some revolted. America in particular revolted due to harsh taxing and no representation in the Parliament. The ragtag Americans used guns from home, and lacked proper training. Even uniforms were scarce, and handed out in a lottery. The British on the other hand, had training, better food, and expensive equipment. The guns were flintlocks, which worked by a flint hitting another rock making sparks, which ignited them, firing the bullet from the weapon. 

War was brewing in Europe, and the slightest mistake would plunge Europe into a massive conflict. That mistake is when the duke of Austria-Hungary was assassinated, and one by one the dominos fell creating the first World War. The soldiers on the western front fought in trenches. One side would fire artillery, then run across no mans land facing machine guns and poison gas. Trenches were muddy and smelly and had no food or water. There were thousands of casualties just to gain a few miles of land.  In the end, the Allies won, with America stepping in its final moments. Everyone believed this would be the war to end all wars, and there would be peace for a long time. Little did they know how wrong they were.


In 1939, the second world war broke out. The Germans, led by Hitler of the Nazi party, marched troops into Poland. The Allies tried to keep the peace, but they gave up and declared war. The Nazis had invaded Scandinavia and some of the countries to the east, and had defeated the mighty French army. The Germans used a tactic called “Blitzkrieg” in which they had their troops move at lightning speed and use tanks and aircraft followed by infantry. They bombed British cities, and heading into bomb shelters became a regular occurrence. The Japanese conquered a good part of the Pacific, but then made a huge mistake. They bombed Pearl Harbour, which they assumed would prevent America from joining the war. Instead, America recovered quickly and joined the war. Troops landed in Normandy on what would be called “D-Day” and from there Germany was slowly conquered. Hitler committed suicide rather than face his punishment. America started a campaign they called “Island Hopping,” where they flew airships from island to island, finally dropping two atomic bombs on Japanese soil, and they surrendered, ending World War Two. 


War has changed very much from the early days of human history, from tribes fighting with clubs, to the Romans who fought with sophisticated tactics and weapons, to today, where the sea and air are just as important as land. But no matter how many fancy new weapons and airplanes are invented, war is and always will be the same at its core. We humans fight over land, religion, and petty disputes. But as we grow as a species, we realize war might not be as important as we once thought.



A Soldier’s life

 by Andrew Robertshaw