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Fifth Newsletter

- Text by Robert Garbisch and Jay King
-- Images by Robert Garbisch and Jay King

To visit the Legio X photo gallery for this event, please click here.

*** News Flash ***

Advance tickets for the Renaissance Faire are only $13.50 (a $4.00 savings) and if it is to be a group order, for every two tickets ordered, we receive one free ticket. This discount is for a minimum order of four tickets. This savings will reduce the cost even more. Call Centurio Marcus ASAP to place your order. LEGIO X members will find his phone number in the roster.


On Friday afternoon, July 23, 1999 the first contingent of the Fourth Cohort arrived at its destination at the Cheese Factory in Novato and got busily to work setting up camp. These stalwart gentlemen included our very own Centurio Marcus Antonius Lucius (Robert Garbisch), his wife the Lady Lydia (Linda Garbisch), Antony Lucius (Anthony Garbisch), Lucas Cornelius Flavius (Richard Lucas), and Marcus Scipio (Scott Poole),

By the Tenth Hour (6:00 PM, Barbarian time), the Officers' tent, the papilion tent which is designed to house one contubernium of eight men and the "A" tent for the Beneficarius were up and ready for use. The three tents had no sooner been set up than the son of the Cheese Factory's owner came over and told everyone that they would have to move from the "high impact family area" to a more secluded spot across the parking lot. Evidently some frightened Barbarian tribesmen from the nearby countryside had reported that the Roman legionaries were "hurling spears and practicing with swords," leading to concerns about liability on the part of the Cheese Factory management. Wondering why anyone would make such a fuss about the possibility of skewering a few extra Barbarians, "Marius' Mules" obligingly struck camp! At the end of the Eleventh hour the work was completed in moving the camp and setting it up again.

On Saturday morning, Gaius Germanicus Magnus (Steve Oster) and Flavius Vespasianus Konig (Jay king) had arrived in camp just in time for breakfast. What perfect timing it was! All the work of constructing the palisade walls and entrances had been completed. A Roman breakfast of gruel was made from oatmeal, raisins, dates, and small cakes of honey and grain, plus fresh fruit was enjoyed by all present.

By the end of the Fourth hour (10:30 a.m.) it was time to prepare camp for the first of two scheduled presentations before our "adoring public," whom we hoped would be suitably impressed by our smart military manned camp that they would pledge forever their loyalty to Caesar. The first presentation was scheduled for the Seventh hour (1:00 p.m.) and the second for the middle of the Eighth hour (3 p.m.) It was only our second campaign in the field, and it amazed us how much we looked like seasoned veterans! There were a few changes from the way the camp was set up at Clarksburg, the most important of which was that the palisade wall was erected around our pilum training area rather than encircling the camp itself. We found that this made the camp appear much larger and provided an excellent area in which we could conduct our pilum throwing drill. By using fewer stakes, we could erect two different types of gate entries, the clavicular and the tutulus. The pila muralis also provided a safety barrier behind which the public could stand while watching weapons and battle tactics demonstrations. It seems that we were becoming fond of these Barbarians, and we really didn't want to see any more of them than were absolutely necessary end up on the point of a pilum while pacifying the country! Another advantage to the new camp setup was that it allowed us to more effectively channel the flow of traffic as we led the public through different areas of our camp throughout the course of our presentation.

Just in time for the first public presentation Patty Ballard joined us, the first of the new Legio X Fretensis recruits to arrive that weekend. For our second presentation, the arrival of legionary Ellison Dunlap Sr., Ellison Dunlap Jr. (The Elder and the Younger), and Ken Feragen increased our ranks.

Our Centurio opened the presentation by giving a brief explanation of our various roles. He explained that we were the re-created Fourth Cohort of the Roman Tenth Legion stationed at the Antonia Fortress in Judaea in the year 784 AUC (AD 31). Everyone else had an opportunity to explain who he was and the responsibilities he had in the legion. We described the Legion's three signata, our weapons, and the tactics we would use in a typical battle.

After the introductory talk, we demonstrated an attack upon a Barbarian force in which we first our pila and then advanced in close - order formation our with scutum and drawn gladius. The cohort looked sharp, each soldier wearing a bright shining helmet and armour and carrying the large, rectangular scutum. All the while, each soldier beat his shield with his gladius in timed step in order to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy with their fearsome rhythm.

After the infantry attack we went to the gladius drill demonstration in the training "pit". Under the ever-watchful eye of our Optio, one soldier would attack the training dummy with a double weight practice sword and defend with a weighted shield. The Optio would meanwhile be issuing orders as to where he was to strike the enemy. "Attack high!" or, "Attack low!", he commanded while aiming counter gladius thrusts with his pole at the soldier in the restrictive area allowed in the training pit. The soldier would have to parry these blows with his shield while attacking the enemy. Later, members of the public were invited to try their soldierly skills in the gladius "pit". This was quite a popular attraction, especially amongst our younger visitors.

During the next part of our presentation, the Beneficiarius gave a talk on some of the various implements and everyday objects found in a typical legionary camp. These included a small scale, water clock, wax writing tablets, strigil, soap, and a sundial. The cat o' nine tails whip, used by the Centurio for punishment of insubordination or other offenses held a macabre fascination for some in the crowd of visitors. He concluded by asking if anyone could guess the purpose of the infamous sponge on a stick. No one could correctly guess its real purpose. Phew!

Next came an exhibit of authentic ancient Roman artifacts and coins by the Signifer, who explained what each artifact was and provided information in detail about the coins.

The public presentation concluded with a short session entitled, "Who is this man?" One of the most important persons in history was Jesus of Nazareth and there are many recorded instances when Jesus came into contact with Roman soldiers. During this part of the presentation, several soldiers of Legio X Fretensis gave short accounts of what he had seen Jesus do or what he had heard concerning him.

Editor's note: Unfortunately, no letter about Jesus from Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius exists. However, several early church writers claimed that Pilate did, indeed, send a report of the trial, observations of his reported miracles, and execution of Jesus to the Emperor Tiberius. The report had to go through the Praetorian Guard Commander Sejanus in order to reach Tiberius residing on the Isle of Capri. (Refer to Tertullian, Apology 16; Justin,'Apology 1:35; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2:2) Tertullian claimed that when the Emperor Tiberius finished reading the report about Jesus from Pilate, that he left the Isle to go the Senate, in Rome, to propose to the Roman Senate to declare this man, Jesus, to be a true god. But the Senate, in their acclaimed wisdom, rejected the proposition. (Apology 26)

About fifty people attended the first public presentation, while the second presentation attracted about forty-five visitors. Those who visited our camp ranged from the mildly curious to some that had a great deal of scholarly knowledge about one or more facets of Roman history. One woman in particular had studied ancient art extensively and she enjoyed discussing the realism displayed in First Century AD Roman portraiture.

After the public presentations, the cohort gathered together for the official induction of our four new recruits. Our own Praetorian Officer, Gaius Germanicus, (Steve Oster) administered the Sacramentum, or Oath of Allegiance to Rome, the Emperor, and Legio X Fretensis. After they had replied, "I swear", Centurio Marcus presented to each one of them their own Caesar medallion. Now these new recruits had become official members of Legio X and the property of Caesar. Hail Caesar! Hail Rome!

That evening, we enjoyed a supper consisting of a seasoned cabbage stew prepared over a cook's fire in camp and some chicken barbecued on the grill located at the Cheese Factory picnic grounds. Afterwards, we retired to the Officer's tent to read and talk over the events of the day. One book we shared was, "Smelly Old History: Roman Aromas", a scratch and sniff book which humorously describes conditions that affected the Roman sense of smell. One such condition existed on Hadrian's Wall where the sweet smelly Romans encountered the foul smelly Celts. Yet due to the lack of running water during the cold wintertime, conditions were apt to become equally foul smelling, especially in the Wall's latrines. Phewl

On Sunday morning, after breakfast, the cohort made a short march to a reservoir about a mile away. We did not encounter any enemy, or anything more hostile than a few Holstein cattle for that matter. Our Archer, Octavius Lucius (Jim Garvisch) and Legionary Steve Martinsen arrived a little later and joined us for the day's activities.

Although we had expected quite a few more visitors on Sunday, we actually had fewer. We gave our presentation at the Seventh hour (I p.m.) but found that only a handful of people came by to visit the camp later. After the public presentation, the Sacramentum was administered to Legionary Martinsen. Because of the low turnout by the public, we decided to break camp early. We were packed up and gone by the middle of the Tenth hour.

Those of us who attended the Cheese Factory event found that it gave us much valuable experiences in not only becoming better Roman soldiers but organizing a public presentation of our activities as well. When we first attempted to perform our everyday activities while wearing the equipment and body armour used by warriors in those times, we found out motions to be clumsy and that it was difficult to walk and move at all, much less fight. By coming together as a unit, sharing our knowledge and working as a team, we learned such things as how to modify our footwear for personal comfort and how to get the proper angle and distance in the pilum throw. We became more used to the weight of our armour and gear, and learned to use the gladius and scutum in a tight formation. At least five new recruits officially joined the legion over the weekend, thus adding considerably to our numbers. We made a much greater impression as a military force with eight or ten people in uniform moving about the camp than in the past when we could only appear in a group of four or five individuals.



  1. Shown here is Legionary Marcus constructing the Tutulus Entry trench and the defender's mound.
  2. After cutting the turf into sections, the pieces are stacked to form two retaining walls to form the mound.
  3. A pick is used to break up the soil and to deepen the ditch.
  4. Now the shovel is used to move the dirt in constructing the mound.
  5. Finally the pilurn muralis/palisade wall can be constructed. Shown here by Legionary Scipio and Optio Antony.
  6. Shown here left to right are: Lydia, Centurio Marcus, Legionary Scipio, Optio Antony, Auxillary Hypatis, Praetorian Gaius, Beneficiarius Lucas, and Signifer Konig.
  7. Here we are making our Legio X Fretensis Introductory remarks to the public.
  8. Centurio Marcus explaining the three Legio X Fretensis Signums.
  9. Pilum throwing drill! Attack!
  10. Into the Gladius Pit goes an aggressive Legionary Scipio. Optio Antony orders him to "Strike low!"
  11. Is he a potential new recruit? Hmnun?
  12. "Strike high" is the command directed at Legionary Ellison Sr.
  13. Like his father, like son, goes Legionary Ellison Jr. into the Gladius Pit.
  14. A Kodak photo opportunity with the public. Always a good PR tactic. They love it!
  15. Now they are officially the property of Caesar and Legio X Fretensis. Shown here showing off their Caesar medallion are Ellison Dunlap Sr., Patti Ballard, Ken Feragcn, and Ellison Dunlap Jr.
  16. Archer Octavius (Jim Garvisch) takes aim and fires his arrow at his Barbarian target. Another hit!
  17. Taking the Sacramenturn Oath is Legionary Steven Martinsen.
  18. Our Legio X display board on Roman Fortification on the march in enemy territory.
  19. Ken Feragen trying out the Cornu. Hail Caesar!
Please click here for more images of the Cheese Factory event.

In conclusion, it proved to be a very good event for Legio X Fretensis.

Legio X Scutum Pattern

Our Centurio was kind enough to supply a drawing of the official and historically accurate shield pattern used by Legio X Fretensis along with instructions explaining how to apply it to the various different shields used by members of our unit.

Bethlehem Village Christmas special

Just recently I received a special packet from Karl and Paula Dresden, of the Bethlehem Village Christmas special at Redwood City. We will be including links to some of their color photos taken at our Cheese Factory event, as soon as the prints become available. I also received two videos showing scenes from the Christmas Bethlehem Village. If anyone is interested in viewing them, please feel welcome to contact Centurio Marcus for loaning you the video. This special Christmas event will definitely be most appropriate for our Legio X Fretensis historical impression to the public. Legio X was present there in order to carry out Augustus Caesar's orders for the special census and also for tax collecting. More details will be announced as the time for it draws nearer. Please plan on attending at least one or more evenings for this event on December 21, 22, and 23. You won't regret it.

Roman Military March August 21 and 22

Attached is a special report on "In Preparation For The March". If you are interested in going on this historical adventure, then you will need to inform Centurio Marcus by August 14th. I shall be gone on a special family trip from August 16th to the 20th. You are welcome to come stay at our home on the evening of August 20th in order to be ready bright and early on the morning of the 21st. We will leave at 0800 or earlier, if everyone is there. Please contact Centurio Marcus for your marching reservation on this living history adventure.

Renaissance Faire - September 4

Hear ye! Hear ye! Come to the Faire! This will truly be a great opportunity for Legio X members to interact with the public as we march through the Renaissance Faire village now located at the Nut Tree, next to 1-80, in Vacaville. Please plan to arrive at Centurio Marcus's home by 0900, or met us at the Faire for a grand opening entrance at 1000. Bring your own lunch or buy your meal there. Please contact Centurio Marcus if you are interested in attending this special fun event. The regular ticket price for this event is $17.50 for the day. The Faire is open from 1000 to 1800. If enough members express interest in going to this event, then we may qualify for a Group Price Discount. (Please see the flash news item above)

MacArthur Church - September 11

This is a special one-day event that will benefit the MacArthur Church Homecoming event. This is an important community activity. Please contact Centurio Marcus by Sept. 8th in order to help in meal planning, Thanks.

IRS Approval

I've just recently received the final approval by the IRS for our Legio X Fretensis Tax Exemption status. This means that all your Legio X expenses are legally tax deductible. More details later.



HAIL CAESAR! In preparing yourself for participating in a Roman military style march there are several factors that you must first consider. Please read carefully the following factors listed to assist you for this great living history adventure.


Before going on an adventure of this nature your must first evaluate your own physical condition. You will be expected to carry a minimum amount of equipment. Perhaps you will be asked to carry a pack or pull a wagon. At most, you will be transporting about 35 to 40 pounds body armor, supplies, and personal items. You should be capable of walking at a good pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour on fairly level terrain. Prepare yourself first and you will enjoy this adventure.


If you decide to carry your shield, then a sling is what you will need in order to help you carry it in comfort. A Loop Sling can be easily made from either leather or cloth material. A Button End sling can also be made to allow easy adjustment in length.


A round metal canteen or a leather water bag is recommended. The flat round Rebel Civil War canteen is a good type. Also the sport bolero bag is acceptable.


Everyone is required to wear at least a helmet. tunica, belt, gladius/sword, scutum/shield, caligae/boots, and carry a pilum/spear. Body armor can be either a Lorica Segmentata or a Lorica Hamata (Chainmail). A pugio/dagger is optional. A personal mess kit is required. This kit is to consist of a wood or metal plate or bowl, cup, and spoon. A small knife is optional. Other personal camping items for your own comfort are advised, such as a comb, toothbrush, soap, small towel, etc.


A simple T-shaped carrying pole can be easily made. The length of the pole should be around 5?with a crossbar of about 18". The pack can be constructed from leather, linen, or artificial animal fur skin. It should be about 12" x 18" in size. A leather purse can be easily converted into a pack. Or you can use a Civil War Haversack for your pack to carry your personal items and food rations. A wool blanket is necessary and a ground cover. A second ground cover or poncho is advised to help keep you comfortable during the cold night


A good pair of comfortable hiking boots is highly recommended for your personal foot comfort. Bring your caligae pair to wear in camp or for marching on the trail. Socks should be worn. Foot powder is also helpful. A First Aid kit will be carried.


Depending upon how many are planning to go on this adventure, a small wagon may be used. This will be required in order to carry the tents, food rations, water, and other items of necessity. If this is done, one man will be employed to pull the wagon. His personal items will be carried on the wagon. The same will apply to the man carrying the Backpack. The Backpack will be used to carry necessary supplies for the unit. No wearing of body armor is advised for these individuals.


Depending upon how many are coming will determine what type of tents will be required If you have a Civil War Dog Tent you may be required to bring one shelter half. Otherwise, the company tents will be transported in the wagon.


This will be "cold trail" rations. No cooking or campfire. You will not go hungry. There will be plenty of good food to enjoy.


In order to get the most from this type of adventure you should be in a good spirit. You will definitely benefit from it when you can relate from a first hand experience your role as a Legionary soldier. If you have any questions or have need of help in making your equipment please feel welcome to contact Centurio Marcus (Robert Garbisch).

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