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"Claudius did Me an Injustice"

In addition to executing or, in moments of generosity, exiling, anyone they suspected, on good grounds or bad, of treason or other acts against their imperium, Roman emperors were wont to confiscate the properties of their enemies.  This naturally enriched the emperor.  It also made available choice bits of real estate for use as rewards to those of proven loyalty and ability.

The Emperor Gallienus (r., AD 253-268) had the misfortune to reign in a particularly trying period, as the empire was plagued by a major secessionist movement in the western provinces, repeated barbarian incursions, and a massive Persian invasion in the East that began in 260 (during which his father and co-emperor Valerian was actually captured and enslaved by the enemy), not to mention numerous attempts at usurpation of the imperial dignity.  Gallienus instituted many military reforms in an effort to cope with what historians have termed “The Crisis of the Third Century”.  These proved effective and, aided by a number of able subordinates, Gallienus began restoring the empire’s fortunes.  Naturally, his main supporters, among them Manius Acilius Aureolus and Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius, received appropriate rewards, including estates confiscated from disgraced or treacherous commanders and noblemen.

 Now in mid-AD 268, while Gallienus was campaigning in the Balkans, Aureolus made a bid for the purple.  Moving swiftly, with Claudius serving as the Emperor’s main subordinate, by September Gallienus had Aureolus bottled up under siege in Milan.  But then Gallienus was murdered by an unknown hand, and Claudius was proclaimed emperor by the troops.  While considerable suspicion attaches to Claudius, his behavior upon attaining the purple suggests his innocence.  Although some of Gallienus’ kinfolk were executed against Claudius’ orders by a Senate seeking to curry favor, the new emperor had his predecessor deified, offered protection to the man’s surviving relatives, and even managed to let Aureolus live.  This was in keeping with a lifetime reputation for integrity, as illustrated by an amusing anecdote. 

It seems that one day a woman confronted the new emperor, saying “Claudius did me an injustice,” going on to name some of her family’s properties that Gallienus had given to Claudius.

Claudius promptly replied, “Precisely what Claudius, when a private person, took when the laws were of no concern to him, this, having become Emperor, he restores”, and returned the estates to her.

Claudius was an energetic emperor, campaigning successfully against the Germans and the Goths, and recovering many of the secessionist western provinces.  But his reign was short.  In January of 270, while preparing a campaign against the Vandals on the Danube, Claudius – generally known as Claudius II Gothicus – died of a plague.  He was on one of only four or five of the 40 or so emperors between A.D. 211 and 384 to perish by more or less “natural” causes.

FootNote:  Overall most of the 80-some emperors between 30 BC and AD 476 perished from “unnatural causes.” 

 

German Ground Force Mobilization in World War II: Infantry Divisions

This installment of our occasional series on German mobilization in World War II is devoted to infantry divisions.  Although the image of the panzers comes to mind when one thinks of the Wehrmacht, the backbone of Germany’s ground forces were the infantry divisions, most of which were pure “leg” formations, with the troops marching wherever they went, while their equipment and even the artillery was usually hauled by horses.  Indeed, in some divisions the only motor vehicle was the commander’s staff car.

The table begins in 1935.  When Hitler came to power in early 1933, the German Reichsheer had only seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions, all relatively small, weak formations, in keeping with the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.  Late in 1935 the infantry divisions were broken up, each forming the cadres for three new divisions.  During this period, Germany effectively had no first line divisions.  Even as late as March of 1936, the Army general staff  rated only four brigades  (the equivalent of two divisions) as combat ready out of an army that was on paper rising to 36 divisions. 

This table covers infantry divisions raised by all of the German military services, the Army, Waffen-SS, Air Force, and even the Navy, except motorized and mechanized units, mountain divisions, and parachute divisions.  It includes regular “leg” infantry, as well as light infantry and jäger divisions, the later usually better equipped than most regular infantry units.  It also omits units included earlier in the “Miscellaneous Divisions category.

Year 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total
Army Balance 0 25 36 32 35 114 128 149 168 176 183  
  Add 25 11 0 3 79 70 30 23 53 129 36 459
  ReDes 0 0 -4 0 0 -24 -7 -1 -10 -8 0 -54
  Disb 0 0 0 0 0 -32 -2 -3 -8 -52 -1 -98
  Lost 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -27 -62 0 -89
  Net 25 36 32 35 114 128 149 168 176 183 218 218
SS Balance 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 3 10  
  Add 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 8 8 20
  ReDes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1 0 0 -1
  Disb 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1 -1 -2
  Net 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 3 10 17 17
Air Force Balance 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 22 21 18  
  Add 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 22 0 0 0 22
  Lost 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1 -3 0 -4
  Net 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 22 21 18 18 18
Navy Add 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
TOTAL Balance 0 25 36 35 38 118 132 153 194 201 205  

Initially, infantry divisions had three regiments of infantry, plus one of artillery, and various combat support and combat service units.  Later, many divisions were reduced to or organized with only two infantry regiments.  The oldest divisions were extremely efficient, and the basic American World War II infantry division was patterned after them.  The later formations, notably the Volkssturm of 1944-1945, were quite poor, composed of ill-trained and ill-equipped over- and under-aged personnel. 

On the table Balance indicates the number of divisions on hand at the start of each year, with 0 given for 1935.  Add is the number added during the year, either newly raised formations or units reorganized from other types of division (e.g., a cavalry division converted to ordinary infantry),  ReDes indicates an infantry division converted into some other type of unit, such as a mechanized – Panzergrenadier -- division.  Disb indicates a unit dissolved in the course of the year, either considered superfluous to existing needs (through 1942) or due to enormous combat losses (post 1942).  Lost denotes a division destroyed in combat and not rebuilt (the 26th Infantry Division was rebuilt something like nine times).  Net gives the sum of the figures for the year (using late March for 1945, as records are very confused for the final weeks of the war), leaving the new balance for the following year. 

 

Earlier Installments:  “Mountain Divisions” and “Cavalry Divisions


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