According to the division of the Second Triumvirate, Augustus controlled the West, Anthony the East and Lepidus, Africa. After Anthony’s defeat at Actium, many of his generals returned to the East to raise new legions. The Red Legions began as one of these recalcitrant legions.

When Augustus’ legions smashed through the East, a cavalry officer gathered other survivors from various units- cavalry, infantry, archers, even slingers- and mounted guerrilla attacks on Augustus’ supply trains. When they were finally captured, Augustus only executed the highest officers and kept the remaining troops, roughly a cohort, as an penal unit.

The initial men all were declared traitors and sentenced to execution. That sentence was suspended, however, and those that served the Legion and survived for 25 years would find their penance deemed served. In the meanwhile, they would share in the spoils of war like any other unit. As new rebels were captured, they were given the same option. Eventually, the Legion became a standing penal unit and any legionnaire could avoid execution by joining the Red Legion.

The unit lacked standardized weapons and armor, but to identify the traitors, an iron band was locked around their throats. These collars eventually rusted and stained the men’s necks red, thus their nickname.

The Legion served under Augustus until the empire was pacified. Although, no one expected the unit to survive, they repeatedly triumphed and proved their courage and tactical acumen. As Rome began to expand her borders, generals began requesting their service and offering greater shares of the spoils.

The Legion stopped collaring its members after the Unification Wars, instead troopers dye their necks bright red. To this day, the Cohort lacks uniformity in weapons and each man wields what he can find. Leather is the most common armor, but plate, chain, and even wool are worn.

The Legion’s official motto is: “For Valor! For Glory!”
The Legion banner is a red field with black oval shield superimposed over a silver sword descending. These colors led to a less common nickname- the Silver Swords.


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