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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
A Description of the Trajan Column
by John Hungerford Pollen

printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode,
printers to Queen Victoria
London, 1874

Text and engravings are in the public domain.

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Line of march

 p67  Trajan passed all his troops in review at Singidunum, the modern Belgrade, which is on the angle formed by the two rivers and on the south side of the Save. From this point the united march of the invading army began. He led them first to the passage of the Morava, and so down the south bank of the Danube as far as Viminacium. There is no evidence of any bridge of boats in the sculpture earlier in the campaign than that over the Danube; but there are many rivers crossed with bridges of one kind or another in the course of these representations, and communications were probably made by some permanent wooden bridges over such streams as crossed the great military road. This road had been prepared as far as Viminacium in the time of Domitian, which place was fortified and was the headquarters of the seventh legion at the time of the opening of the war.

At Viminacium (Kastolatz) the river expands into a broad stream, with a small island in the centre, and at this place the emperor determined to form a bridge of boats across the stream. This bridge is represented with accuracy in the sculpture, and a full description of it is given in the detailed account of the spiral of the shaft. The bridge was in two portions, as will be seen in the bas-relief, and the ends, at least on the Wallachian shore, were carefully carried to the bank on a permanent pier of timber supported on piles driven into the bed of the river. This was according to principles well understood by the Roman engineers, and accord with the instructions contained in Vegetius.

Opposite Kastolatz is Ujpalanka (new palisade), an Austrian fortified post still communicating with a stockaded redoubt on the island. It is worth observing that small stockaded guard houses, such as are seen at the beginning of the bas-reliefs, providing for the security of the Roman bank of the river, and for the safe custody of stores, night embarkations, &c., are very nearly reproduced or continued in the watch posts of the military frontier of Austria. They are huts of stone or wood. "All along the Hungarian banks," says Mr. Paget,76 "at certain distances, perhaps half a mile apart, are small buildings sometimes made of wood, and reared on posts, or in other situations mere mud huts, before each of which stood a sentry on duty. They were the stations of the Hungarian frontier guard."

The Author's Notes:

76 Hungary and Transylvania, II.93.

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Page updated: 26 Aug 20