Julius Caesar's War Commentaries
De bello gallico (Gallic Wars): Book 5
- Published work: "CAESAR'S COMMENTARIES"
- Library collection: "Harper's Classical Library"
- Author: Caius Julius Caesar
- Translators: W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn
- Publisher: Harper & Brothers: New York, 1869
[5.1]Lucius Domitius and Appius Claudius being consuls, Caesar, when departing from his winter quarters into Italy, as he had been accustomed to do yearly, commands the lieutenants whom he appointed over the legions to take care that during the winter as many ships as possible should be built, and the old repaired. He plans the size and shape of them. For dispatch of lading, and for drawing them on shore, he makes them a little lower than those which we have been accustomed to use in our sea; and that so much the more, because he knew that, on account of the frequent changes of the tide, less swells occurred there; for the purpose of transporting burdens and a great number of horses, [he makes them] a little broader than those which we use in other seas. All these he orders to be constructed for lightness and expedition, to which object their lowness contributes greatly. He orders those things which are necessary for equipping ships to be brought thither from Spain. He himself, on the assizes of Hither Gaul being concluded, proceeds into Illyricum, because he heard that the part of the province nearest them was being laid waste by the incursions of the Pirustae. When he had arrived there, he levies soldiers upon the states, and orders them to assemble at an appointed place. Which circumstance having been reported [to them], the Pirustae send embassadors to him to inform him that no part of those proceedings was done by public deliberation, and assert that they were ready to make compensation by all means for the injuries [inflicted]. Caesar, accepting their defense, demands hostages, and orders them to be brought to him on a specified day, and assures them that unless they did so he would visit their state with war. These being brought to him on the day which he had ordered, he appoints arbitrators between the states, who should estimate the damages and determine the reparation.
[5.2]These things being finished, and the assizes being concluded, he returns into Hither Gaul, and proceeds thence to the army. When he had arrived there, having made a survey of the winter quarter, he finds that, by the extraordinary ardor of the soldiers, amid the utmost scarcity of all materials, about six hundred ships of that kind which we have described above and twenty-eight ships of war, had been built, and were not far from that state, that they might be launched in a few days. Having commended the soldiers and those who had presided over the work, he informs them what he wishes to be done, and orders all the ships to assemble at port Itius, from which port he had learned that the passage into Britain was shortest, [being only] about thirty miles from the continent. He left what seemed a sufficient number of soldiers for that design; he himself proceeds into the territories of the Treviri with four legions without baggage, and 800 horse, because they neither came to the general diets [of Gaul], nor obeyed his commands, and were moreover, said to be tampering with the Germans beyond the Rhine.
[5.3]This state is by far the most powerful of all Gaul in cavalry, and has great forces of infantry, and as we have remarked above, borders on the Rhine. In that state, two persons, Indutiomarus and Cingetorix, were then contending with each other for the supreme power; one of whom, as soon as the arrival of Caesar and his legions was known, came to him; assures him that he and all his party would continue in their allegiance, and not revolt from the alliance of the Roman people, and informs him of the things which were going on among the Treviri. But Indutiomarus began to collect cavalry and infantry, and make preparations for war, having concealed those who by reason of their age could not be under arms, in the forest Arduenna, which is of immense size, [and] extends from the Rhine across the country of the Treviri to the frontiers of the Remi. But after that, some of the chief persons of the state, both influenced by their friendship for Cingetorix, and alarmed at the arrival of our army, came to Caesar and began to solicit him privately about their own interests, since they could not provide for the safety of the state; Indutiomarus, dreading lest he should be abandoned by all, sends embassadors to Caesar, to declare that he absented himself from his countrymen, and refrained from coming to him on this account, that he might the more easily keep the state in its allegiance, lest on the departure of all the nobility the commonalty should, in their indiscretion, revolt. And thus the whole state was at his control; and that he, if Caesar would permit, would come to the camp to him, and would commit his own fortunes and those of the state to his good faith.
[5.4]Caesar, though he discerned from what motive these things were said, and what circumstances deterred him from his meditated plan, still, in order that he might not be compelled to waste the summer among the Treviri, while all things were prepared for the war with Britain, ordered Indutiomarus to come to him with 200 hostages. When they were brought, [and] among them his son and near relations, whom he had demanded by name, he consoled Indutiomarus, and enjoined him to continue in his allegiance; yet, nevertheless, summoning to him the chief men of the Treviri, he reconciled them individually to Cingetorix: this he both thought should be done by him in justice to the merits of the latter, and also judged that it was of great importance that the influence of one whose singular attachment toward him he had fully seen, should prevail as much as possible among his people. Indutiomarus was very much offended at this act, [seeing that] his influence was diminished among his countrymen; and he, who already before had borne a hostile mind toward us, was much more violently inflamed against us through resentment at this.
[5.5]These matters being settled, Caesar went to port Itius with the legions. There he discovers that forty ships, which had been built in the country of the Meldi, having been driven back by a storm, had been unable to maintain their course, and had returned to the same port from which they had set out; he finds the rest ready for sailing, and furnished with every thing. In the same place, the cavalry of the whole of Gaul, in number 4,000, assembles, and [also] the chief persons of all the states; he had determined to leave in Gaul a very few of them, whose fidelity toward him he had clearly discerned, and take the rest with him as hostages; because he feared a commotion in Gaul when he should be absent.
[5.6]There was together with the others, Dumnorix, the Aeduan, of whom we have made previous mention. Him, in particular, he had resolved to have with him, because he had discovered him to be fond of change, fond of power, possessing great resolution, and great influence among the Gauls. To this was added, that Dumnorix had before said in an assembly of Aeduans, that the sovereignty of the state had been made over to him by Caesar; which speech the Aedui bore with impatience and yet dared not send embassadors to Caesar for the purpose of either rejecting or deprecating [that appointment]. That fact Caesar had learned from his own personal friends. He at first strove to obtain by every entreaty that he should be left in Gaul; partly, because, being unaccustomed to sailing, he feared the sea; partly because he said he was prevented by divine admonitions. After he saw that this request was firmly refused him, all hope of success being lost, he began to tamper with the chief persons of the Gauls, to call them apart singly and exhort them to remain on the continent; to agitate them with the fear that it was not without reason that Gaul should be stripped of all her nobility; that it was Caesar's design, to bring over to Britain and put to death all those whom he feared to slay in the sight of Gaul, to pledge his honor to the rest, to ask for their oath that they would by common deliberation execute what they should perceive to be necessary for Gaul. These things were reported to Caesar by several persons.
[5.7]Having learned this fact, Caesar, because he had conferred so much honor upon the Aeduan state, determined that Dumnorix should be restrained and deterred by whatever means he could; and that, because he perceived his insane designs to be proceeding further and further, care should be taken lest he might be able to injure him and the commonwealth. Therefore, having stayed about twenty-five days in that place, because the north wind, which usually blows a great part of every season, prevented the voyage, he exerted himself to keep Dumnorix in his allegiance [and] nevertheless learn all his measures: having at length met with favorable weather, he orders the foot soldiers and the horse to embark in the ships. But, while the minds of all were occupied, Dumnorix began to take his departure from the camp homeward with the cavalry of the Aedui, Caesar being ignorant of it. Caesar, on this matter being reported to him, ceasing from his expedition and deferring all other affairs, sends a great part of the cavalry to pursue him, and commands that he be brought back; he orders that if he use violence and do not submit, that he be slain; considering that Dumnorix would do nothing as a rational man while he himself was absent, since he had disregarded his command even when present. He, however, when recalled, began to resist and defend himself with his hand, and implore the support of his people, often exclaiming that "he was free and the subject of a free state." They surround and kill the man as they had been commanded; but the Aeduan horsemen all return to Caesar.
[5.8]When these things were done [and] Labienus, left on the continent with three legions and 2,000 horse, to defend the harbors and provide corn, and discover what was going on in Gaul, and take measures according to the occasion and according to the circumstance; he himself, with five legions and a number of horse, equal to that which he was leaving on the continent, set sail at sun-set, and [though for a time] borne forward by a gentle south-west wind, he did not maintain his course, in consequence of the wind dying away about midnight, and being carried on too far by the tide, when the sun rose, espied Britain passed on his left. Then, again, following the change of tide, he urged on with the oars that he might make that part of the island in which he had discovered the preceding summer, that there was the best landing-place, and in this affair the spirit of our soldiers was very much to be extolled; for they with the transports and heavy ships, the labor of rowing not being [for a moment] discontinued, equaled the speed of the ships of war. All the ships reached Britain nearly at mid-day; nor was there seen a [single] enemy in that place, but, as Caesar afterward found from some prisoners, though large bodies of troops had assembled there, yet being alarmed by the great number of our ships, more than eight hundred of which, including the ships of the preceding year, and those private vessels which each had built for his own convenience, had appeared at one time, they had quitted the coast and concealed themselves among the higher points.
[5.9]Caesar, having disembarked his army and chosen a convenient place for the camp, when he discovered from the prisoners in what part the forces of the enemy had lodged themselves, having left ten cohorts and 300 horse at the sea, to be a guard to the ships, hastens to the enemy, at the third watch, fearing the less for the ships, for this reason because he was leaving them fastened at anchor upon an even and open shore; and he placed Q. Atrius over the guard of the ships. He himself, having advanced by night about twelve miles, espied the forces of the enemy. They, advancing to the river with their cavalry and chariots from the higher ground, began to annoy our men and give battle. Being repulsed by our cavalry, they concealed themselves in woods, as they had secured a place admirably fortified by nature and by art, which, as it seemed, they had before prepared on account of a civil war; for all entrances to it were shut up by a great number of felled trees. They themselves rushed out of the woods to fight here and there, and prevented our men from entering their fortifications. But the soldiers of the seventh legion, having formed a testudo and thrown up a rampart against the fortification, took the place and drove them out of the woods, receiving only a few wounds. But Caesar forbade his men to pursue them in their flight any great distance; both because he was ignorant of the nature of the ground, and because, as a great part of the day was spent, he wished time to be left for the fortification of the camp.
[5.10]The next day, early in the morning, he sent both foot-soldiers and horse in three divisions on an expedition to pursue those who had fled. These having advanced a little way, when already the rear [of the enemy] was in sight, some horse came to Caesar from Quintus Atrius, to report that the preceding night, a very great storm having arisen, almost all the ships were dashed to pieces and cast upon the shore, because neither the anchors and cables could resist, nor could the sailors and pilots sustain the violence of the storm; and thus great damage was received by that collision of the ships.
[5.11]These things being known [to him], Caesar orders the legions and cavalry to be recalled and to cease from their march; he himself returns to the ships: he sees clearly before him almost the same things which he had heard of from the messengers and by letter, so that, about forty ships being lost, the remainder seemed capable of being repaired with much labor. Therefore he selects workmen from the legions, and orders others to be sent for from the continent; he writes to Labienus to build as many ships as he could with those legions which were with him. He himself, though the matter was one of great difficulty and labor, yet thought it to be most expedient for all the ships to be brought up on shore and joined with the camp by one fortification. In these matters he employed about ten days, the labor of the soldiers being unremitting even during the hours of night. The ships having been brought up on shore and the camp strongly fortified, he left the same forces as he did before as a guard for the ships; he sets out in person for the same place that he had returned from. When he had come thither, greater forces of the Britons had already assembled at that place, the chief command and management of the war having been intrusted to Cassivellaunus, whose territories a river, which is called the Thames, separates, from the maritime states at about eighty miles from the sea. At an earlier period perpetual wars had taken place between him and the other states; but, greatly alarmed by our arrival, the Britons had placed him over the whole war and the conduct of it.
[5.12]The interior portion of Britain is inhabited by those of whom they say that it is handed down by tradition that they were born in the island itself: the maritime portion by those who had passed over from the country of the Belgae for the purpose of plunder and making war; almost all of whom are called by the names of those states from which being sprung they went thither, and having waged war, continued there and began to cultivate the lands. The number of the people is countless, and their buildings exceedingly numerous, for the most part very like those of the Gauls: the number of cattle is great. They use either brass or iron rings, determined at a certain weight, as their money. Tin is produced in the midland regions; in the maritime, iron; but the quantity of it is small: they employ brass, which is imported. There, as in Gaul, is timber of every description, except beech and fir. They do not regard it lawful to eat the hare, and the cock, and the goose; they, however, breed them for amusement and pleasure. The climate is more temperate than in Gaul, the colds being less severe.
[5.13]The island is triangular in its form, and one of its sides is opposite to Gaul. One angle of this side, which is in Kent, whither almost all ships from Gaul are directed, [looks] to the east; the lower looks to the south. This side extends about 500 miles. Another side lies toward Spain and the west, on which part is Ireland, less, as is reckoned, than Britain, by one half: but the passage [from it] into Britain is of equal distance with that from Gaul. In the middle of this voyage, is an island, which is called Mona: many smaller islands besides are supposed to lie [there], of which islands some have written that at the time of the winter solstice it is night there for thirty consecutive days. We, in our inquiries about that matter, ascertained nothing, except that, by accurate measurements with water, we perceived the nights to be shorter there than on the continent. The length of this side, as their account states, is 700 miles. The third side is toward the north, to which portion of the island no land is opposite; but an angle of that side looks principally toward Germany. This side is considered to be 800 miles in length. Thus the whole island is [about] 2,000 miles in circumference.
[5.14]The most civilized of all these nations are they who inhabit Kent, which is entirely a maritime district, nor do they differ much from the Gallic customs. Most of the inland inhabitants do not sow corn, but live on milk and flesh, and are clad with skins. All the Britains, indeed, dye themselves with wood, which occasions a bluish color, and thereby have a more terrible appearance in fight. They wear their hair long, and have every part of their body shaved except their head and upper lip. Ten and even twelve have wives common to them, and particularly brothers among brothers, and parents among their children; but if there be any issue by these wives, they are reputed to be the children of those by whom respectively each was first espoused when a virgin.
[5.15]The horse and charioteers of the enemy contended vigorously in a skirmish with our cavalry on the march; yet so that our men were conquerors in all parts, and drove them to their woods and hills; but, having slain a great many, they pursued too eagerly, and lost some of their men. But the enemy, after some time had elapsed, when our men were off their guard, and occupied in the fortification of the camp, rushed out of the woods, and making an attack upon those who were placed on duty before the camp, fought in a determined manner; and two cohorts being sent by Caesar to their relief, and these severally the first of two legions, when these had taken up their position at a very small distance from each other, as our men were disconcerted by the unusual mode of battle, the enemy broke through the middle of them most courageously, and retreated thence in safety. That day, Q. Laberius Durus, a tribune of the soldiers, was slain. The enemy, since more cohorts were sent against them, were repulsed.
[5.16]In the whole of this method of fighting since the engagement took place under the eyes of all and before the camp, it was perceived that our men, on account of the weight of their arms, inasmuch as they could neither pursue [the enemy when] retreating, nor dare quit their standards, were little suited to this kind of enemy; that the horse also fought with great danger, because they [the Britons] generally retreated even designedly, and, when they had drawn off our men a short distance from the legions, leaped from their chariots and fought on foot in unequal [and to them advantageous] battle. But the system of cavalry engagement is wont to produce equal danger, and indeed the same, both to those who retreat and to those who pursue. To this was added, that they never fought in close order, but in small parties and at great distances, and had detachments placed [in different parts], and then the one relieved the other, and the vigorous and fresh succeeded the wearied.
[5.17]The following day the enemy halted on the hills, a distance from our camp, and presented themselves in small parties, and began to challenge our horse to battle with less spirit than the day before. But at noon, when Caesar had sent three legions, and all the cavalry, with C. Trebonius, the lieutenant, for the purpose of foraging, they flew upon the foragers suddenly from all quarters, so that they did not keep off [even] from the standards and the legions. Our men making an attack on them vigorously, repulsed them; nor did they cease to pursue them until the horse, relying on relief, as they saw the legions behind them, drove the enemy precipitately before them, and slaying a great number of them, did not give them the opportunity either of rallying, or halting, or leaping from their chariots. Immediately after this retreat, the auxiliaries who had assembled from all sides, departed; nor after that time did the enemy ever engage with us in very large numbers.
[5.18]Caesar, discovering their design, leads his army into the territories of Cassivellaunus to the river Thames; which river can be forded in one place only and that with difficulty. When he had arrived there, he perceives that numerous forces of the enemy were marshaled on the other bank of the river; the bank also was defended by sharp stakes fixed in front, and stakes of the same kind fixed under the water were covered by the river. These things being discovered from [some] prisoners and deserters, Caesar, sending forward the cavalry, ordered the legions to follow them immediately. But the soldiers advanced with such speed and such ardor, though they stood above the water by their heads only, that the enemy could not sustain the attack of the legions and of the horse, and quitted the banks, and committed themselves to flight.
[5.19]Cassivellaunus, as we have stated above, all hope [rising out] of battle being laid aside, the greater part of his forces being dismissed, and about 4,000 charioteers only being left, used to observe our marches and retire a little from the road, and conceal himself in intricate and woody places, and in those neighborhoods in which he had discovered we were about to march, he used to drive the cattle and the inhabitants from the fields into the woods; and, when our cavalry, for the sake of plundering and ravaging the more freely, scattered themselves among the fields, he used to send out charioteers from the woods by all the well-known roads and paths, and to the great danger of our horse, engage with them; and this source of fear hindered them from straggling very extensively. The result was, that Caesar did not allow excursions to be made to a great distance from the main body of the legions, and ordered that damage should be done to the enemy in ravaging their lands, and kindling fires only so far as the legionary soldiers could, by their own exertion and marching, accomplish it.
[5.20]In the mean time, the Trinobantes, almost the most powerful state of those parts, from which the young man, Mandubratius embracing the protection of Caesar had come to the continent of Gaul to [meet] him (whose father, Imanuentius, had possessed the sovereignty in that state, and had been killed by Cassivellaunus; he himself had escaped death by flight), send embassadors to Caesar, and promise that they will surrender themselves to him and perform his commands; they entreat him to protect Mandubratius from the violence of Cassivellaunus, and send to their state some one to preside over it, and possess the government. Caesar demands forty hostages from them, and corn for his army, and sends Mandubratius to them. They speedily performed the things demanded, and sent hostages to the number appointed, and the corn.
[5.21]The Trinobantes being protected and secured from any violence of the soldiers, the Cenimagni, the Segontiaci, the Ancalites, the Bibroci, and the Cassi, sending embassies, surrendered themselves to Caesar. From them he learns that the capital town of Cassivellaunus was not far from that place, and was defended by woods and morasses, and a very large number of men and of cattle had been collected in it. (Now the Britons, when they have fortified the intricate woods, in which they are wont to assemble for the purpose of avoiding the incursion of an enemy, with an intrenchment and a rampart, call them a town.) Thither he proceeds with his legions: he finds the place admirably fortified by nature and art; he, however, undertakes to attack it in two directions. The enemy, having remained only a short time, did not sustain the attack of our soldiers, and hurried away on the other side of the town. A great amount of cattle was found there, and many of the enemy were taken and slain in their flight.
[5.22]While these things are going forward in those places, Cassivellaunus sends messengers into Kent, which, we have observed above, is on the sea, over which districts four several kings reigned, Cingetorix, Carvilius, Taximagulus and Segonax, and commands them to collect all their forces, and unexpectedly assail and storm the naval camp. When they had come to the camp, our men, after making a sally, slaying many of their men, and also capturing a distinguished leader named Lugotorix, brought back their own men in safety. Cassivellaunus, when this battle was reported to him as so many losses had been sustained, and his territories laid waste, being alarmed most of all by the desertion of the states, sends embassadors to Caesar [to treat] about a surrender through the mediation of Commius the Atrebatian. Caesar, since he had determined to pass the winter on the continent, on account of the sudden revolts of Gaul, and as much of the summer did not remain, and he perceived that even that could be easily protracted, demands hostages, and prescribes what tribute Britain should pay each year to the Roman people; he forbids and commands Cassivellaunus that he wage not war against Mandubratius or the Trinobantes.
[5.23]When he had received the hostages, he leads back the army to the sea, and finds the ships repaired. After launching these, because he had a large number of prisoners, and some of the ships had been lost in the storm, he determines to convey back his army at two embarkations. And it so happened, that out of so large a number of ships, in so many voyages, neither in this nor in the previous year was any ship missing which conveyed soldiers; but very few out of those which were sent back to him from the continent empty, as the soldiers of the former convoy had been disembarked, and out of those (sixty in number) which Labienus had taken care to have built, reached their destination; almost all the rest were driven back, and when Caesar had waited for them for some time in vain, lest he should be debarred from a voyage by the season of the year, inasmuch as the equinox was at hand, he of necessity stowed his soldiers the more closely, and, a very great calm coming on, after he had weighed anchor at the beginning of the second watch, he reached land at break of day and brought in all the ships in safety.
[5.24]The ships having been drawn up and a general assembly of the Gauls held at Samarobriva, because the corn that year had not prospered in Gaul by reason of the droughts, he was compelled to station his army in its winter-quarters differently from the former years, and to distribute the legions among several states: one of them he gave to C. Fabius, his lieutenant, to be marched into the territories of the Morini; a second to Q. Cicero, into those of the Nervii; a third to L. Roscius, into those of the Essui; a fourth he ordered to winter with T. Labienus among the Remi in the confines of the Treviri; he stationed three in Belgium; over these he appointed M. Crassus, his questor, and L. Munatius Plancus and C. Trebonius, his lieutenants. One legion which he had raised last on the other side of the Po, and five cohorts, he sent among the Eburones, the greatest portion of whom lie between the Meuse and the Rhine, [and] who were under the government of Ambiorix and Cativolcus. He ordered Q. Titurius Sabinus and L. Aurunculeius Cotta, his lieutenants, to take command of these soldiers. The legions being distributed in this manner, he thought he could most easily remedy the scarcity of corn and yet the winter-quarters of all these legions (except that which he had given to L. Roscius, to be led into the most peaceful and tranquil neighborhood) were comprehended within [about] 100 miles. He himself in the mean while, until he had stationed the legions and knew that the several winter-quarters were fortified, determined to stay in Gaul.
[5.25]There was among the Carnutes a man named Tasgetius, born of very high rank, whose ancestors had held the sovereignty in his state. To him Caesar had restored the position of his ancestors, in consideration of his prowess and attachment toward him, because in all his wars he had availed himself of his valuable services. His personal enemies had killed him when in the third year of his reign, many even of his own state being openly promoters [of that act] This event is related to Caesar. He fearing, because several were involved in the act, that the state might revolt at their instigation, orders Lucius Plancus, with a legion, to proceed quickly from Belgium to the Carnutes, and winter there, and arrest and send to him the persons by whose instrumentality he should discover that Tasgetius was slain. In the mean time, he was apprised by all the lieutenants and questors to whom he had assigned the legions, that they had arrived in winter-quarters, and that the place for the quarters was fortified.
[5.26]About fifteen days after they had come into winter-quarters, the beginning of a sudden insurrection and revolt arose from Ambiorix and Cativolcus, who, though they had met with Sabinus and Cotta at the borders of their kingdom, and had conveyed corn into our winter-quarters, induced by the messages of Indutiomarus, one of the Treviri, excited their people, and after having suddenly assailed the soldiers engaged in procuring wood, came with a large body to attack the camp. When our men had speedily taken up arms and had ascended the rampart, and sending out some Spanish horse on one side, had proved conquerors in a cavalry action, the enemy, despairing of success, drew off their troops from the assault. Then they shouted, according to their custom, that some of our men should go forward to a conference, [alleging] that they had some things which they desired to say respecting the common interest, by which they trusted their disputes could be removed.
[5.27]C. Arpineius, a Roman knight, the intimate friend of Q. Titurius, and with him, Q. Junius, a certain person from Spain, who already on previous occasions, had been accustomed to go to Ambiorix, at Caesar's mission, is sent to them for the purpose of a conference: before them Ambiorix spoke to this effect: "That he confessed, that for Caesar's kindness toward him, he was very much indebted to him, inasmuch as by his aid he had been freed from a tribute which he had been accustomed to pay to the Aduatuci, his neighbors; and because his own son and the son of his brother had been sent back to him, whom, when sent in the number of hostages, the Aduatuci had detained among them in slavery and in chains; and that he had not done that which he had done in regard to the attacking of the camp, either by his own judgment or desire, but by the compulsion of his state; and that his government was of that nature, that the people had as much authority over him as he over the people. To the state moreover the occasion of the war was this - that it could not withstand the sudden combination of the Gauls; that he could easily prove this from his own weakness, since he was not so little versed in affairs as to presume that with his forces he could conquer the Roman people; but that it was the common resolution of Gaul; that that day was appointed for the storming of all Caesar's winter-quarters, in order that no legion should be able to come to the relief of another legion, that Gauls could not easily deny Gauls, especially when a measure seemed entered into for recovering their common freedom. Since he had performed his duty to them on the score of patriotism [he said], he has now regard to gratitude for the kindness of Caesar; that he warned, that he prayed Titurius by the claims of hospitality, to consult for his and his soldiers' safely; that a large force of the Germans had been hired and had passed the Rhine; that it would arrive in two days: that it was for them to consider whether they thought fit, before the nearest people perceived it, to lead off their soldiers when drawn out of winter-quarters, either to Cicero or to Labienus; one of whom was about fifty miles distant from them, the other rather more; that this he promised and confirmed by oath, that he would give them a safe passage through his territories; and when he did that, he was both consulting for his own state, because it would be relieved from the winter-quarters, and also making a requital to Caesar for his obligations."
[5.28]Arpineius and Junius relate to the lieutenants what they had heard. They, greatly alarmed by the unexpected affair, though those things were spoken by an enemy, still thought they were not to be disregarded; and they were especially influenced by this consideration, that it was scarcely credible that the obscure and humble state of the Eburones had dared to make war upon the Roman people of their own accord. Accordingly, they refer the matter to a council, and a great controversy arises among them. L. Aurunculeius, and several tribunes of the soldiers and the centurions of the first rank, were of opinion "that nothing should be done hastily, and that they should not depart from the camp without Caesar's orders;" they declared, "that any forces of the Germans, however great, might be encountered by fortified winter-quarters; that this fact was a proof [of it]; that they had sustained the first assault of the Germans most valiantly, inflicting many wounds upon them; that they were not distressed for corn; that in the mean time relief would come both from the nearest winter-quarters and from Caesar; lastly, they put the query, "what could be more undetermined, more undignified, than to adopt measures respecting the most important affairs on the authority of an enemy?"
[5.29]In opposition to those things, Titurius exclaimed, "That they would do this too late, when greater forces of the enemy, after a junction with the Germans, should have assembled; or when some disaster had been received in the neighboring winter-quarters; that the opportunity for deliberating was short; that he believed that Caesar had set forth into Italy, as the Carnutes would not otherwise have taken the measure of slaying Tasgetius, nor would the Eburones, if he had been present, have come to the camp with so great defiance of us; that he did not regard the enemy, but the fact, as the authority; that the Rhine was near; that the death of Ariovistus and our previous victories were subjects of great indignation to the Germans; that Gaul was inflamed, that after having received so many defeats she was reduced under the sway of the Roman people, her pristine glory in military matters being extinguished." Lastly, "who would persuade himself of this, that Ambiorix had resorted to a design of that nature without sure grounds? That his own opinion was safe on either side; if there be nothing very formidable, they would go without danger to the nearest legion; if all Gaul conspired with the Germans, their only safety lay in dispatch. What issue would the advice of Cotta and of those who differed from him, have? from which, if immediate danger was not to be dreaded, yet certainly famine, by a protracted siege, was."
[5.30]This discussion having been held on the two sides, when opposition was offered strenuously by Cotta and the principal officers, "Prevail," said Sabinus, "if so you wish it;" and he said it with a louder voice, that a great portion of the soldiers might hear him; "nor am I the person among you," he said, "who is most powerfully alarmed by the danger of death; these will be aware of it, and then, if any thing disastrous shall have occurred, they will demand a reckoning at your hands; these, who, if it were permitted by you, united three days hence with the nearest winter-quarters, may encounter the common condition of war with the rest, and not, as if forced away and separated far from the rest, perish either by the sword or by famine."
[5.31]They rise from the council, detain both, and entreat, that "they do not bring the matter into the greatest jeopardy by their dissension and obstinacy; the affair was an easy one, if only they all thought and approved of the same thing, whether they remain or depart; on the other hand, they saw no security in dissension." The matter is prolonged by debate till midnight. At last Cotta, being overruled, yields his assent; the opinion of Sabinus prevails. It is proclaimed that they will march at day-break; the remainder of the night is spent without sleep, since every soldier was inspecting his property, [to see] what he could carry with him, and what, out of the appurtenances of the winter-quarters, he would be compelled to leave; every reason is suggested to show why they could not stay without danger, and how that danger would be increased by the fatigue of the soldiers and their want of sleep. At break of day they quit the camp, in a very extended line and with a very large amount of baggage, in such a manner as men who were convinced that the advice was given by Ambiorix, not as an enemy, but as most friendly [toward them].
[5.32]But the enemy, after they had made the discovery of their intended departure by the noise during the night and their not retiring to rest, having placed an ambuscade in two divisions in the woods, in a suitable and concealed place, two miles from the camp, waited for the arrival of the Romans: and when the greater part of the line of march had descended into a considerable valley, they suddenly presented themselves on either side of that valley, and began both to harass the rear and hinder the van from ascending, and to give battle in a place exceedingly disadvantageous to our men.
[5.33]Then at length Titurius, as one who had provided nothing beforehand, was confused, ran to and fro, and set about arranging his troops; these very things, however, he did timidly and in such a manner that all resources seemed to fail him: which generally happens to those who are compelled to take council in the action itself. But Cotta, who had reflected that these things might occur on the march, and on that account had not been an adviser of the departure, was wanting to the common safety in no respect; both in addressing and encouraging the soldiers, he performed the duties of a general, and in the battle those of a soldier. And since they [Titurius and Cotta] could less easily perform every thing by themselves, and provide what was to be done in each place, by reason of the length of the line of march, they ordered [the officers] to give the command that they should leave the baggage and form themselves into an orb, which measure, though in a contingency of that nature it was not to be condemned, still turned out unfortunately; for it both diminished the hope of our soldiers and rendered the enemy more eager for the fight, because it appeared that this was not done without the greatest fear and despair. Besides that happened, which would necessarily be the case, that the soldiers for the most part quitted their ensigns and hurried to seek and carry off from the baggage whatever each thought valuable, and all parts were filled with uproar and lamentation.
[5.34]But judgment was not wanting to the barbarians; for their leaders ordered [the officers] to proclaim through the ranks "that no man should quit his place; that the booty was theirs, and for them was reserved whatever the Romans should leave; therefore let them consider that all things depended on their victory. Our men were equal to them in fighting, both in courage and in number, and though they were deserted by their leader and by fortune, yet they still placed all hope of safety in their valor, and as often as any cohort sallied forth on that side, a great number of the enemy usually fell. Ambiorix, when he observed this, orders the command to be issued that they throw their weapons from a distance and do not approach too near, and in whatever direction the Romans should make an attack, there give way (from the lightness of their appointments and from their daily practice no damage could be done them); [but] pursue them when betaking themselves to their standards again.
[5.35]Which command having been most carefully obeyed, when any cohort had quitted the circle and made a charge, the enemy fled very precipitately. In the mean time, that part of the Roman army, of necessity, was left unprotected, and the weapons received on their open flank. Again, when they had begun to return to that place from which they had advanced, they were surrounded both by those who had retreated and by those who stood next them; but if, on the other hand, they wish to keep their place, neither was an opportunity left for valor, nor could they, being crowded together, escape the weapons cast by so large a body of men. Yet, though assailed by so many disadvantages, [and] having received many wounds, they withstood the enemy, and, a great portion of the day being spent, though they fought from day-break till the eighth hour, they did nothing which was unworthy of them. At length, each thigh of T. Balventius, who the year before had been chief centurion, a brave man and one of great authority, is pierced with a javelin; Q. Lucanius, of the same rank, fighting most valiantly, is slain while he assists his son when surrounded by the enemy; L. Cotta, the lieutenant, when encouraging all the cohorts and companies, is wounded full in the mouth by a sling.
[5.36]Much troubled by these events, Q. Titurius, when he had perceived Ambiorix in the distance encouraging his men, sends to him his interpreter, Cn. Pompey, to beg that he would spare him and his soldiers. He, when addressed, replied, "If he wishes to confer with him, it was permitted; that he hoped what pertained to the safety of the soldiers could be obtained from the people; that to him however certainly no injury would be done, and that he pledged his faith to that effect." He consults with Cotta, who had been wounded, whether it would appear right to retire from battle, and confer with Ambiorix; [saying] that he hoped to be able to succeed respecting his own and the soldiers' safety. Cotta says he will not go to an armed enemy, and in that perseveres.
[5.37]Sabinus orders those tribunes of the soldiers whom he had at the time around him, and the centurions of the first ranks, to follow him, and when he had approached near to Ambiorix, being ordered to throw down his arms, he obeys the order and commands his men to do the same. In the mean time, while they treat upon the terms, and a longer debate than necessary is designedly entered into by Ambiorix, being surrounded by degrees, he is slain. Then they, according to their custom, shout out "Victory," and raise their war-cry, and, making an attack on our men, break their ranks. There L. Cotta, while fighting, is slain, together with the greater part of the soldiers; the rest betake themselves to the camp, from which they had marched forth, and one of them, L. Petrosidius, the standard bearer, when he was overpowered by the great number of the enemy, threw the eagle within the intrenchments and is himself slain while fighting with the greatest courage before the camp. They with difficulty sustain the attack till night; despairing of safety, they all to a man destroy themselves in the night. A few escaping from the battle, made their way to Labienus at winter-quarters, after wandering at random through the woods, and inform him of these events
[5.38]Elated by this victory, Ambiorix marches immediately with his cavalry to the Aduatuci, who bordered on his kingdom; he halts neither day nor night, and orders the infantry to follow him closely. Having related the exploit and roused the Aduatuci, the next day he arrived among the Nervii, and entreats "that they should not throw away the opportunity of liberating themselves forever and of punishing the Romans for those wrongs which they had received from them;" [he tells them] "that two lieutenants have been slain, and that a large portion of the army has perished; that it was not a matter of difficulty for the legion which was wintering with Cicero to be cut off, when suddenly assaulted; he declares himself ready to cooperate in that design. He easily gains over the Nervii by this speech.
[5.39]Accordingly, messengers having been forthwith dispatched to the Centrones, the Grudii, the Levaci, the Pleumoxii, and the Geiduni, all of whom are under their government, they assemble as large bodies as they can, and rush unexpectedly to the winter-quarters of Cicero, the report of the death of Titurius not having as yet been conveyed to him. That also occurred to him, which was the consequence of a necessary work - that some soldiers who had gone off into the woods for the purpose of procuring timber and therewith constructing fortifications, were intercepted by the sudden arrival of [the enemy's] horse. These having been entrapped, the Eburones, the Nervii, and the Aduatici and all their allies and dependents, begin to attack the legion: our men quickly run together to arms and mount the rampart; they sustained the attack that day with great difficulty, since the enemy placed all their hope in dispatch, and felt assured that, if they obtained this victory, they would be conquerors forever.
[5.40]Letters are immediately sent to Caesar by Cicero, great rewards being offered [to the messengers] if they carried them through. All these passes having been beset, those who were sent are intercepted. During the night as many as 120 towers are raised with incredible dispatch out of the timber which they had collected for the purpose of fortification: the things which seemed necessary to the work are completed. The following day the enemy, having collected far greater forces, attack the camp [and] fill up the ditch. Resistance is made by our men in the same manner as the day before; this same thing is done afterward during the remaining days. The work is carried on incessantly in the night: not even to the sick, or wounded, is opportunity given for rest: whatever things are required for resisting the assault of the next day are provided during the night: many stakes burned at the end, and a large number of mural pikes are procured: towers are built up, battlements and parapets are formed of interwoven hurdles. Cicero himself, though he was in very weak health, did not leave himself the night-time for repose, so that he was forced to spare himself by the spontaneous movement and entreaties of the soldiers.
[5.41]Then these leaders and chiefs of the Nervii, who had any intimacy and grounds of friendship with Cicero, say they desire to confer with him. When permission was granted, they recount the same things which Ambiorix had related to Titurius, namely, "that all Gaul was in arms, that the Germans had passed the Rhine, that the winter-quarters of Caesar and of the others were attacked." They report in addition also, about the death of Sabinus. They point to Ambiorix for the purpose of obtaining credence; "they are mistaken," say they, "if they hoped for any relief from those who distrust their own affairs; that they bear such feelings toward Cicero and the Roman people that they deny them nothing but winter-quarters, and are unwilling that the practice should become constant; that through their [the Nervii's] means it is possible for them [the Romans] to depart from their winter-quarters safely and to proceed without fear into whatever parts they desire." To these Cicero made only one reply: "that it is not the custom of the Roman people to accept any condition from an armed enemy: if they are willing to lay down their arms, they may employ him as their advocate and send embassadors to Caesar: that he believed, from his [Caesar's] justice, they would obtain the things which they might request."
[5.42]Disappointed in this hope, the Nervii surround the winter-quarters with a rampart eleven feet high, and a ditch thirteen feet in depth. These military works they had learned from our men in the intercourse of former years, and, having taken some of our army prisoners, were instructed by them: but, as they had no supply of iron tools which are requisite for this service, they were forced to cut the turf with their swords, and to empty out the earth with their hands and cloaks, from which circumstance, the vast number of the men could be inferred; for in less than three hours they completed a fortification of ten miles in circumference; and during the rest of the days they began to prepare and construct towers of the height of the ramparts, and grappling irons, and mantelets, which the same prisoners had taught them.
[5.43]On the seventh day of the attack, a very high wind having sprung up, they began to discharge by their slings hot balls made of burned or hardened clay, and heated javelins, upon the huts, which, after the Gallic custom, were thatched with straw. These quickly took fire, and by the violence of the wind, scattered their flames in every part of the camp. The enemy following up their success with a very loud shout, as if victory were already obtained and secured, began to advance their towers and mantelets, and climb the rampart with ladders. But so great was the courage of our soldiers, and such their presence of mind, that though they were scorched on all sides, and harassed by a vast number of weapons, and were aware that their baggage and their possessions were burning, not only did no one quit the rampart for the purpose of withdrawing from the scene, but scarcely did any one even then look behind; and they all fought most vigorously and most valiantly. This day was by far the most calamitous to our men; it had this result, however, that on that day the largest number of the enemy was wounded and slain, since they had crowded beneath the very rampart, and the hindmost did not afford the foremost a retreat. The flame having abated a little, and a tower having been brought up in a particular place and touching the rampart, the centurions of the third cohort retired from the place in which they were standing, and drew off all their men: they began to call on the enemy by gestures and by words, to enter if they wished; but none of them dared to advance. Then stones having been cast from every quarter, the enemy were dislodged, and their tower set on fire.
[5.44]In that legion there were two very brave men, centurions, who were now approaching the first ranks, T. Pulfio, and L. Varenus. These used to have continual disputes between them which of them should be preferred, and every year used to contend for promotion with the utmost animosity. When the fight was going on most vigorously before the fortifications, Pulfio, one of them, says, "Why do you hesitate, Varenus? or what [better] opportunity of signalizing your valor do you seek? This very day shall decide our disputes." When he had uttered these words, he proceeds beyond the fortifications, and rushes on that part of the enemy which appeared the thickest. Nor does Varenus remain within the rampart, but respecting the high opinion of all, follows close after. Then, when an inconsiderable space intervened, Pulfio throws his javelin at the enemy, and pierces one of the multitude who was running up, and while the latter was wounded and slain, the enemy cover him with their shields, and all throw their weapons at the other and afford him no opportunity of retreating. The shield of Pulfio is pierced and a javelin is fastened in his belt. This circumstance turns aside his scabbard and obstructs his right hand when attempting to draw his sword: the enemy crowd around him when [thus] embarrassed. His rival runs up to him and succors him in this emergency. Immediately the whole host turn from Pulfio to him, supposing the other to be pierced through by the javelin. Varenus rushes on briskly with his sword and carries on the combat hand to hand, and having slain one man, for a short time drove back the rest: while he urges on too eagerly, slipping into a hollow, he fell. To him, in his turn, when surrounded, Pulfio brings relief; and both having slain a great number, retreat into the fortifications amid the highest applause. Fortune so dealt with both in this rivalry and conflict, that the one competitor was a succor and a safeguard to the other, nor could it be determined which of the two appeared worthy of being preferred to the other.
[5.45]In proportion as the attack became daily more formidable and violent, and particularly, because, as a great number of the soldiers were exhausted with wounds, the matter had come to a small number of defenders, more frequent letters and messages were sent to Caesar; a part of which messengers were taken and tortured to death in the sight of our soldiers. There was within our camp a certain Nervian, by name Vertico, born in a distinguished position, who in the beginning of the blockade had deserted to Cicero, and had exhibited his fidelity to him. He persuades his slave, by the hope of freedom, and by great rewards, to convey a letter to Caesar. This he carries out bound about his javelin; and mixing among the Gauls without any suspicion by being a Gaul, he reaches Caesar. From him they received information of the imminent danger of Cicero and the legion.
[5.46]Caesar having received the letter about the eleventh hour of the day, immediately sends a messenger to the Bellovaci, to M. Crassus, questor there, whose winter-quarters were twenty-five miles distant from him. He orders the legion to set forward in the middle of the night, and come to him with dispatch. Crassus sets out with the messenger. He sends another to C. Fabius, the lieutenant, ordering him to lead forth his legion into the territories of the Atrebates, to which he knew his march must be made. He writes to Labienus to come with his legion to the frontiers of the Nervii, if he could do so to the advantage of the commonwealth: he does not consider that the remaining portion of the army, because it was somewhat further distant, should be waited for; but assembles about 400 horse from the nearest winter-quarters.
[5.47]Having been apprised of the arrival of Crassus by the scouts at about the third hour, he advances twenty miles that day. He appoints Crassus over Samarobriva and assigns him a legion, because he was leaving there the baggage of the army, the hostages of the states, the public documents, and all the corn, which he had conveyed thither for passing the winter. Fabius, without delaying a moment, meets him on the march with his legion, as he had been commanded. Labienus, having learned the death of Sabinus and the destruction of the cohorts, as all the forces of the Treviri had come against him, beginning to fear lest, if he made a departure from his winter-quarters, resembling a flight, he should not be able to support the attack of the enemy, particularly since he knew them to be elated by their recent victory, sends back a letter to Caesar, informing him with what great hazard he would lead out his legion from winter-quarters; he relates at large the affairs which had taken place among the Eburones; he informs him that all the infantry and cavalry of the Treviri had encamped at a distance of only three miles from his own camp.
[5.48]Caesar, approving of his motives, although he was disappointed in his expectation of three legions, and reduced to two, yet placed his only hopes of the common safety in dispatch. He goes into the territories of the Nervii by long marches. There he learns from some prisoners what things are going on in the camp of Cicero, and in how great jeopardy the affair is. Then with great rewards he induces a certain man of the Gallic horse to convey a letter to Cicero. This he sends written in Greek characters, lest the letter being intercepted, our measures should be discovered by the enemy. He directs him, if he should be unable to enter, to throw his spear with the letter fastened to the thong, inside the fortifications of the camp. He writes in the letter, that he having set out with his legions, will quickly be there: he entreats him to maintain his ancient valor. The Gaul apprehending danger, throws his spear as he has been directed. Is by chance stuck in a tower, and, not being observed by our men for two days, was seen by a certain soldier on the third day: when taken down, it was carried to Cicero. He, after perusing it, reads it out in an assembly of the soldiers, and fills all with the greatest joy. Then the smoke of the fires was seen in the distance, a circumstance which banished all doubt of the arrival of the legions.
[5.49]The Gauls, having discovered the matter through their scouts, abandon the blockade, and march toward Caesar with all their forces; these were about 60,000 armed men. Cicero, an opportunity being now afforded, again begs of that Vertico, the Gaul, whom we mentioned above, to convey back a letter to Caesar; he advises him to perform his journey warily; he writes in the letter that the enemy had departed and had turned their entire force against him. When this letter was brought to him about the middle of the night, Caesar apprises his soldiers of its contents, and inspires them with courage for fighting: the following day, at the dawn, he moves his camp, and, having proceeded four miles, he espies the forces of the enemy on the other side of a considerable valley and rivulet. It was an affair of great danger to fight with such large forces in a disadvantageous situation. For the present, therefore, inasmuch as he knew that Cicero was released from the blockade, and thought that he might, on that account, relax his speed, he halted there and fortifies a camp in the most favorable position he can. And this, though it was small in itself, [there being] scarcely 7,000 men, and these too without baggage, still by the narrowness of the passages, he contracts as much as he can, with this object, that he may come into the greatest contempt with the enemy. In the mean while scouts having been sent in all directions, he examines by what most convenient path he might cross the valley.
[5.50]That day, slight skirmishes of cavalry having taken place near the river, both armies kept in their own positions: the Gauls, because they were awaiting larger forces which had not then arrived; Caesar, [to see] if perchance by pretense of fear he could allure the enemy toward his position, so that he might engage in battle, in front of his camp, on this side of the valley; if he could not accomplish this, that, having inquired about the passes, he might cross the valley and the river with the less hazard. At daybreak the cavalry of the enemy approaches to the camp and joins battle with our horse. Caesar orders the horse to give way purposely, and retreat to the camp: at the same time he orders the camp to be fortified with a higher rampart in all directions, the gates to be barricaded, and in executing these things as much confusion to be shown as possible, and to perform them under the pretense of fear.
[5.51]Induced by all these things, the enemy lead over their forces and draw up their line in a disadvantageous position; and as our men also had been led down from the ramparts, they approach nearer, and throw their weapons into the fortification from all sides, and sending heralds round, order it to be proclaimed that, if "any, either Gaul or Roman, was willing to go over to them before the third hour, it was permitted; after that time there would not be permission;" and so much did they disregard our men, that the gates having been blocked up with single rows of turf as a mere appearance, because they did not seem able to burst in that way, some began to pull down the rampart with their hands, others to fill up the trenches. Then Caesar, making a sally from all the gates, and sending out the cavalry, soon puts the enemy to flight, so that no one at all stood his ground with the intention of fighting; and he slew a great number of them, and deprived all of their arms.
[5.52]Caesar, fearing to pursue them very far, because woods and morasses intervened, and also [because] he saw that they suffered no small loss in abandoning their position, reaches Cicero the same day with all his forces safe. He witnesses with surprise the towers, mantelets, and [other] fortifications belonging to the enemy: the legion having been drawn out, he finds that even every tenth soldier had not escaped without wounds. From all these things he judges with what danger and with what great courage matters had been conducted; he commends Cicero according to his desert, and likewise the legion; he addresses individually the centurions and the tribunes of the soldiers, whose valor he had discovered to have been signal. He receives information of the death of Sabinus and Cotta from the prisoners. An assembly being held the following day, he states the occurrence; he consoles and encourages the soldiers; he suggests, that the disaster, which had been occasioned by the misconduct and rashness of his lieutenant, should be borne with a patient mind, because by the favor of the immortal gods and their own valor, neither was lasting joy left to the enemy, nor very lasting grief to them.
[5.53]In the mean while the report respecting the victory of Caesar is conveyed to Labienus through the country of the Remi with incredible speed, so that, though he was about sixty miles distant from the winter-quarter of Cicero, and Caesar had arrived there after the ninth hour, before midnight a shout arose at the gates of the camp, by which shout an indication of the victory and a congratulation on the part of the Remi were given to Labienus. This report having been carried to the Treviri, Indutiomarus, who had resolved to attack the camp of Labienus the following day, flies by night and leads back all his forces into the country of the Treviri. Caesar sends back Fabius with his legion to his winter-quarters; he himself determines to winter with three legions near Samarobriva in three different quarters, and, because such great commotions had arisen in Gaul, he resolved to remain during the whole winter with the army himself. For the disaster respecting the death of Sabinus having been circulated among them, almost all the states of Gaul were deliberating about war, sending messengers and embassies into all quarters, inquiring what further measure they should take, and holding councils by night in secluded places. Nor did any period of the whole winter pass over without fresh anxiety to Caesar, or, without his receiving some intelligence respecting the meetings and commotions of the Gauls. Among these, he is informed by L. Roscius, the lieutenant whom he had placed over the thirteenth legion, that large forces of those states of the Gauls, which are called the Armoricae, had assembled for the purpose of attacking him and were not more than eight miles distant; but intelligence respecting the victory of Caesar being carried [to them], had retreated in such a manner that their departure appeared like a flight.
[5.54]But Caesar, having summoned to him the principal persons of each state, in one case by alarming them, since he declared that he knew what was going on, and in another case by encouraging them, retained a great part of Gaul in its allegiance. The Senones, however, which is a state eminently powerful and one of great influence among the Gauls, attempting by general design to slay Cavarinus, whom Caesar had created king among them (whose brother, Moritasgus, had held the sovereignty at the period of the arrival of Caesar in Gaul, and whose ancestors had also previously held it), when he discovered their plot and fled, pursued him even to the frontiers [of the state], and drove him from his kingdom and his home; and, after having sent embassadors to Caesar for the purpose of concluding a peace, when he ordered all their senate to come to him, did not obey that command. So far did it operate among those barbarian people, that there were found some to be the first to wage war; and so great a change of inclinations did it produce in all, that, except the Aedui and the Remi, whom Caesar had always held in especial honor, the one people for their long standing and uniform fidelity toward the Roman people, the other for their late service in the Gallic war, there was scarcely a state which was not suspected by us. And I do not know whether that ought much to be wondered at, as well for several other reasons, as particularly because they who ranked above all nations for prowess in war, most keenly regretted that they had lost so much of that reputation as to submit to commands from the Roman people.
[5.55]But the Triviri and Indutiomarus let no part of the entire winter pass without sending embassadors across the Rhine, importuning the states, promising money, and asserting that, as a large portion of our army had been cut off, a much smaller portion remained. However, none of the German States could be induced to cross the Rhine, since "they had twice essayed it," they said, "in the war with Ariovistus and in the passage of the Tenchtheri there; that fortune was not to be tempted any more." Indutiomarus disappointed in this expectation, nevertheless began to raise troops, and discipline them, and procure horses from the neighboring people, and allure to him by great rewards the outlaws and convicts throughout Gaul. And such great influence had he already acquired for himself in Gaul by these means, that embassies were flocking to him in all directions, and seeking, publicly and privately, his favor and friendship.
[5.56]When he perceived that they were coming to him voluntarily; that on the one side the Senones and the Carnutes were stimulated by their consciousness of guilt, on the other side the Nervii and the Aduatuci were preparing war against the Romans, and that forces of volunteers would not be wanting to him if he began to advance from his own territories, he proclaims an armed council (this according to the custom of the Gauls in the commencement of war) at which, by a common law, all the youth were wont to assemble in arms, whoever of them comes last is killed in the sight of the whole assembly after being racked with every torture. In that council he declares Cingetorix, the leader of the other faction, his own son-in-law (whom we have above mentioned, as having embraced the protection of Caesar, and never having deserted him) an enemy and confiscates his property. When these things were finished, he asserts in the council that he, invited by the Senones and the Carnutes, and several other states of Gaul, was about to march thither through the territories of the Remi, devastate their lands, and attack the camp of Labienus: before he does that, he informs them of what he desires to be done.
[5.57]Labienus, since he was confining himself within a camp strongly fortified by the nature of the ground and by art, had no apprehensions as to his own and the legion's danger, but was devising that he might throw away no opportunity of conducting the war successfully. Accordingly, the speech of Indutiomarus, which he had delivered in the council, having been made known [to him] by Cingetorix and his allies, he sends messengers to the neighboring states and summons horse from all quarters: he appoints to them a fixed day for assembling. In the mean time, Indutiomarus, with all his cavalry, nearly every day used to parade close to his [Labienus'] camp; at one time, that he might inform himself of the situation of the camp; at another time, for the purpose of conferring with or of intimidating him. Labienus confined his men within the fortifications, and promoted the enemy's belief of his fear by whatever methods he could.
[5.58]Since Indutiomarus was daily advancing up to the camp with greater defiance, all the cavalry of the neighboring states which he [Labienus] had taken care to have sent for, having been admitted in one night, he confined all his men within the camp by guards with such great strictness, that that fact could by no means be reported or carried to the Treviri. In the mean while, Indutiomarus, according to his daily practice, advances up to the camp and spends a great part of the day there: his horse cast their weapons, and with very insulting language call out our men to battle. No reply being given by our men, the enemy, when they thought proper, depart toward evening in a disorderly and scattered manner, Labienus unexpectedly sends out all the cavalry by two gates; he gives this command and prohibition, that, when the enemy should be terrified and put to flight (which he foresaw would happen, as it did), they should all make for Indutiomarus, and no one wound any man before he should have seen him slain, because he was unwilling that he should escape, in consequence of gaining time by the delay [occasioned by the pursuit] of the rest. He offers great rewards for those who should kill him: he sends up the cohorts as a relief to the horse. The issue justifies the policy of the man, and since all aimed at one, Indutiomarus is slain, having been overtaken at the very ford of the river, and his head is carried to the camp, the horse, when returning, pursue and slay all whom they can. This affair having been known, all the forces of the Eburones and the Nervii which had assembled, depart; and for a short time after this action, Caesar was less harassed in the government of Gaul.
End of Book 5
Julius Caesar's Art of War: A Graphic Portfolio of Battlefields and Tactics in the Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
Lieutenant Salinas in Afghanistan 2009 -- ed.
My first encounter with Caesar's story of the Gallic Wars occurred in January 2003, in Professor Ronald Delph's medieval history course during my second semester at Eastern Michigan University (E.M.U.) following my initial enlistment in the Marine Corps (1998-2002). New to college life, I enjoyed every moment in the classroom. It was a pleasant change from the Spartan routines of the Corps.
Early in the class, we covered the Celtic society in Gaul during and after Roman occupation. Though not overly excited about Druids and such, I was intrigued by the Celtic warrior society and its conflict with the Roman legions, particularly during the circumvallation siege of Alesia as described in Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
I had become a part of the Marine Reserves following the end of my enlistment in July 2002, and my once-a-month trip to Selfridge Air Base eased my transition to civilian life. I foresaw a quiet reserve career with monthly and summer vacations with other "weekend warriors." However, that fall and following winter, the clouds of war were gathering in the Middle East. The imminent conflict became quite real in the form of rosters for upcoming mobilization.
So it was that shortly after hearing the lecture on Alesia, I received orders to report to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, near San Diego. I was there by mid-February, preparing for deployment to Iraq. However, this was not to be: I spent the duration of conventional combat operations in California.
One weekend, I was out for a walk in the lovely town of Carlsbad, when I stopped at a used bookstore. Browsing the history section, I found a volume of Caesar's work entitled The Gallic War and Other Writings, translated by Moses Hadas. Instantly, I recalled the story of Alesia and purchased the old book.
I then spent many of my evenings and off-duty weekends in spring 2003 reading and re-reading the Gallic War. As a topographical intelligence analyst, I had a strong fascination with march-routes and battlefield operations. I began making small sketches in the margins of pages, attempting to draw the schematics of maneuvers. Anyone familiar with the Gallic War knows that the battles are often difficult to visualize. I wanted to see where and how the Romans had fought. At one point I made a drawing of western Europe and tried to trace the paths for the Romans and the Gauls in each campaign year. The result was a mess resembling a tangle of spaghetti more than rational military operations.
In summer 2003, since "major combat operations" seemed to have ended, I was selected for follow-on training necessary for the position of Intelligence Chief. In June, I arrived at an intelligence school in Norfolk, Virginia, where I learned about battle tracking, NATO symbology, and enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures. Upon graduation from the school, I had developed a new skill set that enabled to me to conceptualize Caesar's campaigns in Gaul much more clearly.
After my discharge, I returned to E.M.U. in the fall of 2003 to finish my college career. I began to take classes in Latin and ancient history with Professor James Holoka, my sponsor and eventual adviser for the ongoing Gallic War project. While taking notes in Roman History, I used NATO symbology for the various forces involved in Rome's expansion operations. I still have the notebook that holds my makeshift drawing of Alesia, surrounded by Roman fortifications. The idea to track the Gallic Wars in a systematic way became more tangible.
I began working more formally on my project during spring and summer 2004. Drawing on my training as an intelligence analyst, I decided to use NATO symbology for depicting units on the maps. My first step was to select an overall background map suitable for displaying large operational movements. I then began the tedious process of sketching troop movements and battle plans. Since Caesar very often divided his forces while on campaign, situational awareness was key as I strove to plot the dispositions of legions. Identification of ancient sites by their modern names was especially problematic; here J.F.C. Fuller's Julius Caesar was an invaluable aid.
Sketching battles took anywhere from one to several hours, depending on the complexity of the engagement. My research in the secondary literature uncovered a few battle maps that rather crudely illustrated certain battlefields during actions against the Helvetii, at the Sambre River, at Gergovia, and of course at Alesia. They offered merely static displays with no effort to represent dynamic movement on the battlefields, leaving me to my own devices. My rendition of Alesia took no less than forty hours to sketch by pencil.
My procedure was to create maps for 10 to 20-page narrative blocks of the Gallic War and then transcribe them as Power Point slides. For the large operational maneuvers, this entailed pasting Gallic and Roman units into their relevant positions and then conveying their movements with arrows. This was significantly easier than the charting of the complex tactical maneuvers that Caesar often employed in battle.
Mapping in general provided its own array of difficulties. For example, I was unable to find a map that illustrated all the relevant rivers or coastlines, which therefore had to be drawn in by hand. Each battlefield was worked up with little or no reference to (inadequate) existing maps, with the exception of Alesia, for which I used previous maps to indicate the terrain surrounding the hilltop fortress.
This initial mapping, begun in May 2004, continued throughout the summer. I enrolled in Independent Study courses with Prof. Holoka in both fall 2004 and winter 2005 to continue my work and made a great deal of progress. I thought that I had finished the project in April 2005, nearly a year after producing my first sketches, but in 2006 I became aware of "Google Earth." This now widely used mapping program held enormous potential for my sort of mapping work. I initially used it while plotting the campaigns of Xenophon's Anabasis.
In May 2007, I began remapping the Gallic War utilizing Google Earth. This facilitated a very considerable upgrade of both my operational displays and detailed depictions of battlefields. It was particularly exhilarating to be able to zoom in on present-day venues of specific battlefields. I finished the project in August 2007, after some four years of thought and toil.
Following graduate school, I returned to military service, being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in April 2007. In September, I returned to active duty as an Infantry officer currently assigned to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; I will soon lead some of America's finest soldiers in combat operations. After a few years of participating in warfare at the tactical level, I plan on returning to my home branch of Military Intelligence.
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Users should be aware that I have provided maps and plans for Books 1-7 of the Commentarii de Bello Gallico. The appendix-like Book 8, authored not by Caesar but by the worthy Aulus Hirtius, may lure me back to the Gallic Wars at some future time. I advise reading Caesar's Gallic War Commentaries in step with the progression of images in my electronic portfolio. Finally, I would like to express special thanks to Professor Holoka for his guidance and encouragement during this multi-year project.
The following are among works I have found especially useful:
R.L.A. du Pontet, ed., C. Iuli Caesaris libri VII de Bello Gallico (Oxford: Clarendon Pr, 1900).
H.J. Edwards, trans. Caesar: The Gallic War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard U Pr, 1917).
J.F.C. Fuller, Julius Caesar: Man, Solider and Tyrant (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers U Pr, 1965).
Kate Gilliver, Caesar's Gallic Wars: 58�50 B.C. (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2002).
Moses Hadas, trans., Julius Caesar: The Gallic War and Other Writings (NY: Modern Library, 1957).
Carolyn Hammond, trans., Julius Caesar: The Gallic War (Oxford: Oxford U Pr, 1996).
T. Rice Holmes, Caesar�s Conquest of Gaul, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Pr, 1911).
Christian Meier, Caesar: A Biography, trans. David McLintock (NY: Basic Books, 1982).