Short term they can overthrow any Roman power structure and establish themselves in charge. Long term, well, they’re going to run out of bullets and spare parts so by that time they need to establish a power base premised on them being demigods or something similar in order to retain control.
Yeah, I see them being an unstoppable force for a short period, then rapidly seeing their capabilities evaporate without the infrastructure to maintain them. They could potentially sack Rome (assuming they started close enough) and install themselves as the new overlords of the Empire, but I can’t see that working well either.
Edit: Dammit Kalle.
No one has mentioned Janisarries yet? Since the premise of that is an 80’s Company dropped into a world with largely medieval tech, and at one point the main character defeats a late-Empire Legion with bows and pikes. Those books do spend a fair amount of time looking at the question of what you do after you win the battle with modern firearms.
Also, holding a city is tricky. It’s great having rifles and all, but at night in a city, there’s a pretty good chance someone with a bow might get you, and I wouldn’t want to engage in hand to hand with my M16 versus someone extremely well-trained in the use of a gladius. That would so suck.
Yeah, you’d want to not just take control of but also win over a large swath of city + land. Use the modern army as your hammer on the battlefield while you as quickly as possible build a Civil War-era army out of your loyal partisans.
This is closer to David Weber’s take on the genre than Flint’s, mostly because the Ring of Fire series was poorly written.
Disease would become a problem. And getting enough clean water and food for all those men without outside supply a nightmare. Quite a few men will be shitting themselves to death inside a week.
Once they seize power they should be able to manage a few things. The Romans smelted metal. Is there any reason why the MEU can’t start making their own bullets and primitive muskets? Small cannons? Gunpowder isn’t hard to make. I would think steam-powered vehicles might be possible as well.
Once they have Romans working for them, they can use the Roman soldiers to hold onto power. I don’t believe the cavalry back then used stirrups. Even something small like that gives the MEU Romans an advantage.
The trick would be to seize power and make sure that a supply of ammo was always held in reserve and used only on rare occasions as an example of power. The same kind of hierarchy that allowed a handful of Romans to control hundreds of thousands could be used by the MEU.
You know, it just struck me that after a thousand years you’d probably have something similar to Warhammer 40k with people venerating the sacred holy relic M-16’s.
Yea…Final Countdown as someone mentioned. I saw that in the theater at the time. It must have been one hell of a recruiting aid for the navy as the scenes with the carrier (about 95% of the movie) are awesome.
Since the topic asks about “destroy” I’ll say yes, definitely. Sure, you wouldn’t have much time before equipment runs out, but you’d still be able to cause enough havoc and fear to cripple the Roman Empire at that point. Of course, that particular time isn’t notable for having any leaders that challenged Roman rule, so the Roman nobility might be able to recover.
At least until you killed some Romans who were the ancestors of some of your troops and parts of your squad started blinking out of existence.
Taking over the empire would be trivial. Romans were quite accustomed to strange tribes showing up out of nowhere at their borders. It’s not like they attacked them on sight, most of the time they’d let them in and either recruit them as soldiers or use them to populate underdeveloped regions. If they were hostile, otoh, they were quickly disposed of. So you show up at the nearest town, ask who’s in charge, get them to provide a few people condemned to death and demonstrate on them the power of a rifle. Then you say you wanna serve as the emperor bodyguards. Then you let the emperor know he can keep his position but…
Plan b: go to the nearest city, claim you are a tribe of sons of Zeus, and say they should give you supplies or a terrible omen will happen to convince them. They’ll laugh at you weird barbarians. That night, blow up the biggest temple or the governor’s villa, and be accepted as gods.
Plan c: if for some reason you want to destroy the empire (and you shouldn’t: they can offer the best standard of living for you in that time period) you do the rifle demonstration or the god thing, but for a tribal chieftain outside the border instead of a roman official. Get them to invade (they periodically do that anyway, and need very little incentive), and before the battle starts have a squad of 20 snipers take out all commanders on the roman side. 100 bullets and the battle is over before it starts, if by some miracle it’s not enough just get a couple of mortar shots in the middle of the crowd. The barbarian allies are there so they’ll slaughter the routing legions in the old-fashioned way, avoiding the need to waste ammo. Repeat as long as needed, very soon all the other tribes will rush in to get their share of the loot.
“My picture is fading!”
So what’s the likelihood that both sides would wipe the other out due to common diseases against which the opposition has no defense?
Clearly we are using the mighty Marvel Comics method of time travel where travelling into the past creates a new reality thus nullifying grandfather paradoxes.
I don’t think the Romans would consider the weapons and vehicles magic, at least not after a short while. I’m thinking about how the American Indians adapted quickly to Europeans and ably used their weapons.
But I’m loving this premise and fleshed out it could make a fun book or movie.
I love this idea. Don’t forget holy kevlar helmets. How long does gunpowder last for? Could the Holy Bullets of Match Grade of Smiting last a thousand years?
Depends. If allowed unlimited access or explained how they worked, sure, they’d adapt pretty quickly. But if you tell them something along the lines of “I can summon a magical bird from the sky” and have an helicopter fly in; or “I can summon the power of thunder” and have a mortar shot delivered nearby; or point at someone and have a sniper take him out from a kilometer away… While ancient people weren’t any more stupid than us, they lacked the basic scientific mentality people tend to have today. If something weird happens to us, we usually assume there must be a natural explanation, even if we don’t know which. Back then most natural phenomena were mysteries, religion and mythology were taken much more seriously, and something we take for granted, like a gun, would have been an entirely new concept.
Just giving Romans modern math would change things in ways we cannot comprehend. Military strategy, the scientific method, etc.
But I’d guess a modern military unit could rule the Roman Empire for a time. Everyone needs to sleep.
Except that’s not how changes in power play out. They’re not going to have to sleep with guards every night out of fear that the people will murder them. Yes, they’ll be foreigners and alien and all that crap but the only people in a position to care about them are the nobles they’re replacing and those can either be killed or put to work for them. For the average Roman citizen life will go on as before.
Claymores would do bad things to marching columns.
It’s not like Latin is on the curricula of the modern military, so they’d have trouble passing on their mathematical knowledge. Most likely scenario is a bunch of dudes wandering about hungry as they die from smallpox.