Sunday, May 10, 2015

Caesar Wastes the Gaul's Lands

Featuring an excerpt from History of Julius Caesar by Napoleon III published in 1865.

Previously in Caesar Conquers Gaul. And now Napoleon III

Time: September 52 BC
Place: Alesia, Gaul (France)

Vercingetorix's surrender to Caesar after the
Siege of Alesia in 52 BC.
Public Domain from Wikipedia.
The Bellovaci and their allies, informed by the fugitives of the death of Correus, of the loss of their cavalry and the flower of their infantry, and fearing every moment to see the Romans appear, convoked by sound of trumpet a general assembly and decided by acclamation to send deputies and hostages to the proconsul. The barbarians implored forgiveness, alleging that this last defeat had ruined their power, and that the death of Correus, the instigator of the war, delivered them from oppression, for, during his life, it was not the senate which governed, but an ignorant multitude. To their prayers Caesar replied that last year the Bellovaci had revolted in concert with the other Gaulish peoples, but that they alone had persisted in the revolt. It was very convenient to throw their faults upon those who were dead, but how could it be believed that with nothing but the help of a weak populace a man should have had sufficient influence to raise and sustain a war contrary to the will of the chiefs, the decision of the senate, and the desire of honest people? However, the evil which they had drawn upon themselves was for him a sufficient reparation.

The following night the Bellovaci and their allies submitted, with the exception of Commius, who fled to the country from which he had but recently drawn support. He had not dared to trust the Romans for the following reason: "The year before, in the absence of Caesar, T. Labienus, informed that Commius was conspiring and preparing an insurrection, thought that without accusing him of bad faith," says Hirtius, "he could repress his treason." ("Under pretext of an interview he sent C. Volusenus Quadratus, with some centurions, to kill him; but when they were in the presence of the Gaulish chief the centurion who was to strike him missed his blow and only wounded him; swords were drawn on both sides and Commius had time to escape.")

The most warlike tribes had been vanquished and none of them dreamed of further revolt. Nevertheless, many inhabitants of the newly conquered countries abandoned the towns and the fields in order to withdraw themselves from the Roman dominion. Caesar, in order to put a stop to this emigration, distributed his army in different countries. He ordered the quaestor, Mark Antony, to come to him with the Twelfth legion, and sent the lieutenant Fabius with twenty-five cohorts into an opposite part of Gaul--to the country situated between the Creuse and the Vienne--where it was said that several tribes were in arms, and where the lieutenant, Caninius Rebilus, who commanded with two legions, did not appear to be sufficiently strong. Lastly, he ordered T. Labienus to join him in person and to send the Fifteenth legion, which he had under his command, into Cisalpine Gaul to protect the colonies of Roman citizens there against the sudden inroads of the barbarians, who the summer before had attacked the Tergestini (the inhabitants of Trieste).

As for C├Žsar, he proceeded with four legions to the territory of the Eburones to lay it waste. As he could not secure Ambiorix, who was still wandering at large, he thought it advisable to destroy everything by fire and sword, persuaded that this chief would never dare to return to a country upon which he had brought such a terrible calamity. The legions and the auxiliaries were charged with the execution of this plan. Then he sent Labienus, with two legions, to the country of the Treviri, who, always at war with the Germans, were only kept in obedience by the presence of a Roman army.

During this time Caninius Rebilus, who had first been appointed to go into the country of the Ruteni, but who had been detained by petty insurrections in the region situated between the Creuse and the Vienne, learned that numerous hostile bands were assembling in the country of the Pictones. He was informed of this by letters from Duratius, their king, who, amid the defection of a part of his people, had remained invariably faithful to the Romans. He started immediately for Lemonum (Poitiers). On the road he learned from prisoners that Duratius was shut up there and besieged by several thousand men under the orders of Dumnacus, chief of the Andes.

Rebilus, at the head of two weak legions, did not dare to measure his strength with the enemy; he contented himself with establishing his camp in a strong position. At the news of his approach, Dumnacus raised the siege, and marched to meet the legions, but after several days of fruitless attempts to force their camp he returned to attack Lemonum.

Meanwhile, the lieutenant, Caius Fabius, occupied in pacifying several other tribes, learned from Caninius Rebilus what was going on in the country of the Pictones and marched without delay to the assistance of Duratius. The news of the march of Fabius deprived Dumnacus of all hope of opposing, at the same time, the troops shut up in Lemonum and the relieving army. He abandoned the siege again in great haste, not thinking himself safe until he had placed the Loire between himself and the Romans; but he could only pass that river where there was a bridge(at Saumur). Before he had joined Rebilus, before he had even obtained a sight of the enemy, Fabius, who came from the North, and had lost no time, doubted not, from what he heard from the people of the country, that Dumnacus, in his fear, had taken the road which led to that bridge. He therefore marched thither with his legions, preceded at a short distance by his cavalry. The latter surprised the column of Dumnacus on its march, dispersed it, and returned to the camp laden with booty.

Continued on Monday, May 11th.

More information here.

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