You are all going about this wrong - no modern United States military unit is long going to abide slavery. Any modern unit of sufficient strength is going to start a slave revolt that will make Spartacus look small and tame and while Rome itself will not be taken forever an independent free state based on American democratic principles will be established in North Italy with the backing of a sizeable number of Republican oriented Roman elites who find that control is just as easy without a large slave population.
Rome is crippled but not destroyed and while both a free and slave Rome become large regional powers both are destroyed before the western Roman empire fell. Another change is that Christianity - but not what we see as early Roman Catholicism - spreads but quicker and earlier before Constantine in own timeline with a unique American spin.
Regarding issues of disease and the loss of supply the American units will capitilize on their stocks before they run out and their innate accumulation of 2,000 years of knowledge will allow them to outfox the Romans. For example they know to boil water before drinking, how to make gunpowder, how to engender a successful slave revolt, etc. Look for one of the founding fathers of Christianity to be Saint Lincoln.
Because I am so terrible at Civilization games I’ve been stuck in similar combat situations countless times. Based on my experience, Roman archers and units can easily mow down my modern infantry stacks, and even tanks, with minimal losses. Such anecdotal evidence is good enough for me.
Weird… I just assumed this premise had been thought of and explored a million times. I came close to writing a comic about it until I figured it was so obvious, it had to already be played out. It ranks up there in my brain as my most prominent little story fantasy I fell asleep to as a kid, alongside the one where I could become invisible and hang out in the girls’ locker room.
And definitely start sharing scientific knowledge. If you alter the timeline enough, hopefully your equipment will spec up to the point that you aren’t dependent on petroleum based fuel. Particle weapons and portable fusion generators FTW.
If the way it works is that the ripple effect you have on history is going to propagate back to you… well, you’re pretty much fucked, right? I’d be less worried about teching up to beam weapons than blinking out existence as a result of the Westphalia Nuclear Exchange of 1627.
Give me the Marvel branching universe version any day.
The flash fiction that guy did on the reddit page is thoroughly impressive if he just fired it up off the cuff.
There was at least one book written, where an American archaeologist goes from Mussolini’s Italy to late Roman Empire Italy (they’re Christian already), and he tries to make sure the Dark Ages never come.
I would think that the process of creating ammunition for 5.56 mm isn’t quite straight forward. There’s something to be said for smelting metal, but creating the right alloys to be used in a round, together with the right cast, together with the right quality of gunpowder… I’d say it’s a roll of the dice at best.
First, you have to figure out the riddle of steel. Making weapons wouldn’t be too bad since a unit of that size will have a few armorers and gun wonks who understand the design of firearms. (I could, given enough time and a skilled smith/machinist, make a double-action revolver from memory) But I’m guessing you won’t have a metallurgist on board, much less a chemist for figuring out modern smokeless powder or priming compounds. The bullets and cases themselves are no problem with bronze-age tech but the chemical components are waaaay beyond.
In short it would be relatively easy to get to 1860 or so but you’d have little chance of replicating working ammunition for modern weapons.
Having classicists and latin speakers would certainly be a huge help, and might not be that far fetched. Given that the OP question is “could,” I’d say “certainly, you could.” If everyone recognized what the hell was going on, didn’t go insane, resolved upon conquering the Roman Empire, and all of the cards fell right.
Food and water would be the big killers in my opinion. Think of how sick people can get just from eating at the local burger joint, then think of how sick people can get eating overseas. This is all in modern times with the benefits of modern sanitation and medical treatment.
Plus you need an adequate supply of food and water now, not in a week or a month. You have hundreds or thousands who need to eat and drink in the next few hours at most. Then you need to show them that an uninterruptable, clean supply of food and water has been secured.
Otherwise what is going to happen is your men will start breaking off into small groups trying to acquire their own supplies before they get so weak even their weapons won’t save them. Meanwhile the Romans will wait to ambush the small groups as they attempt to get water at a river, raid homes and other places for food, and so on.
People worrying about running out of ammo are optimists. I think the issue will have been decided one way or another well before that point is reached.
I’d be amazed if you could get that level of technology since those 1860-era guns were factory-tooled by precision machinery. The problem is not one of design. You need to establish the basic infrastructure.
Power is the first big thing. You need wood and lots of it to fire furnaces, coal is not available, and you need a water mill to power any machinery. Steam power you say? Why you’re welcome to try to assemble a working boiler. That’s a major engineering project in itself, with the potential to blow up in your face if you get the pressure wrong or your vessel has any weak components.
And as mentioned there’s no steel. You’re going to have to work with local blacksmiths to figure out how to make it from the available iron.
And that’s just the start. Instead of making handguns the effort would most likely be better spent on manufacturing cannon and taking it from there.
While I agree with the general idea that the infrastructure would be wholly insufficient, the historical pedant in me needs to point out that steel was well-known throughout the Roman Empire at the time of Augustus.
I looked it up and I was wrong. There’s evidence of the romans mining coal for the purposes of smelting ore. And they also made steel. Well, I still stand by my point. There’s no way to replicate 19th century gunsmithing starting from the Roman age without first building up a 19th century industrial base.
Way back when I was playing the computer version of Ogre, I remember thinking that it would be interesting to play a version where instead you set a single modern M1-A1 Abrams battle tank against generic Roman troops.
Obviously it would have been more of a “how far can you get before running out of gas” type scenario than what’s being discussed here.