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Warfare in the Age of Gaius Julius Caesar—Volume 1

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Warfare in the Age of Gaius Julius Caesar—Volume 1
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Theodore Dodge
Date Published: 2013/07
Page Count: 340
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-157-1
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-156-4

A two volume masterpiece on ancient warfare

Little needs to be said here about the fascinating era of the Roman Empire of the first century B. C., or about one of the most outstanding military commanders in history, Gaius Julius Caesar. The military history of the period has always had its avid students and enthusiasts. It also has its notable historians and foremost among these was former soldier, Theodore Ayrault Dodge who was probably the first military historian to walk upon the ground on which all of the events about which he wrote in this classic work took place. Dodge’s grasp of topography and its bearing on tactical issues makes this work indispensible. The Leonaur editors highly regard Dodge’s works on the great captains of warfare through the ages and our edition of ‘Warfare in the Age of Napoleon’ is already available. ‘Warfare in the Age of Gaius Julius Caesar’ is our second offering in the series and it follows the model already established by its predecessor. Based on Dodge’s academically groundbreaking work, ‘Caesar,’ this unique two volume edition, like all of the author’s ‘great captains’ series, benefits from numerous diagrams and maps that explain the campaigns, battles, marches, weapons, equipment, etc., in significant detail. The Leonaur editions have been substantially represented so that all the images—often small in the original editions—have been enlarged to the fullest degree to aid understanding. Volume one outlines the background of Rome at war and the significant contributions of its most outstanding generals up to the time of Caesar. It concludes in 50 B. C. Chapters on the formation of the Roman Army, it’s weapons and tactics are also included. Highly Recommended.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

Acting on the message of Vercingetorix sent out by his retiring cavalry, the Gauls immediately convened an assembly, probably at Bibracte, and decreed, from all the states, a levy, not a general but a specified levy, lest too large an army should be hard to ration,—two hundred and forty thousand foot, and eight thousand horse in all. The paper strength was two hundred and eighty-three thousand. Even those Gauls whom Caesar had best treated now caught the national infection, revolted and put their best efforts at the service of the cause. The Bellovaci alone declined to send their contingent, but sent two thousand men as an act of friendship. They proposed to be subject to no control. The chief command of this enormous army was given to Commius the Atrebatian, the man Caesar had sent to Britain, Vercasivelaunus the Arvernian, cousin to Vercingetorix, Viridomarus and Eporedorix the Æduan. How the latter escaped from imprisonment, for he was captured in the last battle, is not explained. A war council of members from each tribe was added to these chiefs. Full of confidence, as well it might be, for to barbarians strength resides solely in numbers, this huge army rendezvoused on Æduan soil, and marched to Alesia, imagining that the Romans could not, for a moment, withstand such a multitude, especially when sallies should also be made from within.<br>
Not aware of the speedy arrival of this army, the besieged were already at a loss what to do. Six weeks had elapsed since Vercingetorix sent out his message, and he then had barely corn for thirty days. Starvation was at hand. It was proposed by Cirtognatus, an Arvernian, to eat the useless soldiers and inhabitants; but this yielded to a project to send them away. The whole population (Mandubii) was accordingly marched out; but the Romans declined to receive them even as slaves, and drove them back into the city.<br>
Commius and the great army finally reached the Roman lines, and, camping on the heights southwest of the town, within a mile of Caesar’s lines, led out their cavalry the very next day to the large plain, where it was supported by their infantry on the hills at their back. It covered the entire plain. Every movement could be distinctly seen from Alesia. Vercingetorix responded by marshalling his own army outside the city walls and making ready to sustain any assault by the relieving force. He had prepared great numbers of hurdles to fill up the trenches and cover the entanglements.<br>
Vercingetorix’ troops advanced. They had actually begun to fill up the first ditch, and the affair promised to develop into a general engagement of infantry. Posting his forces on the walls facing both to the city and towards the army of relief, Caesar opened the action by sending in his German and Gallic allied cavalry. The enemy had light troops mixed with their cavalry, to lend it steadiness. In a short while the battle waxed hot, the Gauls feeling confident of victory from mere force of numbers, and urging on their men by yells and shouts. The people of Alesia encouraged their friends by equal clamour. The action lasted from noon till sundown. Vercingetorix did not push on, nor did the army of relief put in its foot. The action does not appear to have gone beyond a combat of cavalry aided by slingers and bowmen. Finally, after the cavalry of Caesar had been all but defeated, the Germans, rallying in column for a final effort, drove in the Gauls despite their numbers, and broke them up. Once fairly routed, they could not recover themselves; Caesar’s squadrons pursued them to camp, killing many of the archers who were supporting them, and who could not so speedily get away. The forces from Alesia retired dejected. There had been no organized attack upon the entrenchments. The prominent role played by the cavalry in all Caesar’s wars shows that most of his battles were confined to a skirmishing contact. For pitched battle the legions alone were available. Caesar had no cavalry proper. The next day but one the army of relief again attacked, having, in the mean time, made a much greater number of hurdles, and provided themselves with scaling-ladders and wall-hooks. They selected midnight for the hour and delivered the assault suddenly at the westerly plain. Their shouts aroused Vercingetorix and the forces in the town, who at once sallied forth to lend assistance to their friends outside. The Gauls, as best they might in the darkness, filled up the pits and trenches with fascines and hurdles, covering their operation with a fire of sling-stones and arrows. The Romans were fully alive to the necessities of the occasion. Each man knew his place. They sent for troops from those redoubts which were least exposed, to resist the onset where it was hottest. The legates Trebonius and Antonius brought up reinforcements. The Romans replied to the Gallic fire with arrows, sling-stones, hand-hurled stones of about a pound weight, of which they had gathered a large supply, and pointed stakes kept on the walls in reserve. The military engines also came into play. In the dark, shields were almost useless. While the enemy’s line was at a distance, the assault proved more harmful in loss to the Romans than when the barbarians neared the walls, for then many of them fell into the pits and trenches; this bred confusion and dismay; their aim grew wild, and their weapons inflicted little damage; the Romans, on the other hand, threw down their heavy siege pila from the entrenchments with deadly effect. Before long the vigour of the Gauls slackened. Finally, at daylight they conceived a fear of a demonstration on their uncovered right flank from the Roman lines on the hills south of the town, which, coupled to fatigue and loss of men, induced them to retire. Vercingetorix, from the town side, suffered equally from the entanglements. His men used up most of their time in filling the twenty-foot ditch, and did not get beyond it; and as daylight came on, seeing that the assault by the army of relief had failed, he also blew the signal to retire.