ROMCAV-05B Decurion with Green Shield, Roman Auxiliary Cavalry
As Romans were never considered exceptionally good horsemen, and the role of the cavalry not as important in the Roman thought process, the Equitatus was generally made up of non-Roman horsemen. While they would play an important part of Legionary tactics, the Roman Cavalry was considered secondary and would remain the weakest part of the Roman Army until the very late Imperial period.
Generally, the cavalry was used as light skirmishing troops, and mounted archers whose job was to patrol, act as scouts and messengers and to provide a mobile defensive screen while the legion was massing in battle array. As in all armies throughout history, the mounted trooper was also very effective in chasing down and harassing a fleeing and panicked enemy force.
As part of the military reforms of Augustus around AD 14, the Auxilia were re-organized. They would be trained to the same standards of discipline as the legions. They were mainly drawn from a wide range of warlike peoples throughout the provinces, and would receive Roman citizenship on completion of their 25-year sevice. Senior officers in contrast were Roman citizens.
The Auxilia filled the tasks of patrolling, containing raids, tax collecting, and the multitude of duties of the frontier troops. They were especially suited to garrison and local policing activities, and could also hold their own in small scale warfare.
Roman Auxilia cavalry were usually heavily armored in mail and armed with a short lance, javelins, the Spatha long sword, and sometimes bows for specialist Horse archer units. These men primarily served as Medium missile cavalry for flanking, scouting, skirmish, and pursuit.
Cavalry units were known as Alae, and were made up of 16 Turmae.
A Turmae consisted of 30 troopers, and was commanded by a Decurio, and a second in command called the Duplicarius.
Cavalrymen carried Clipeus , a flat oval or hexagonal shield. These were extremely light, constructed of double or triple thickness plywood, made up of thin strips of birch.