05. Rebellion in Gaul
October 20, 2001
I'm back. The trip was pleasant.
There is a report of some unrest in Gaul. However, I have a few matters to take care of before I can concern myself with it. Today I meet with Crassus.
October 21, 2001
Things went very well with Crassus; much was resolved. I'm in Ravenna now, and am going to Luca to meet with Pompey. It's the point in the province nearest to Rome, and Pompey will be on his way to Sardinia to organize grain supplies. The outcome of that meeting will have a great effect on events over the next few years. I'll write more when it is done.
October 22, 2001
Luca is beautiful. The meeting with Pompey is ongoing. I should be able to speak about it tomorrow.
October 23, 2001
My alliance with Pompey and Crassus is renewed. This is great news for the three of us. For me, it means that my command in Gaul will likely be extended, my new legions will be paid from public funds, and Cicero will be brought in line. Crassus and Pompey will run for the Consulship jointly, next year. We will try and get Crassus made governor of Syria, and Pompey will get Spain.
I will post further details shortly. I am rushing preparations for a return to Gaul. Some Roman officers were sent to the territory of the Veneti to requisition grain from them; the Veneti took them hostage. They want to exchange them for hostages we have of theirs. The Veneti are a sea power, and they maintain ties with Britain, so the inevitable conflict will involve new challenges...
October 25, 2001
Pompey can administer the Spanish provinces from Rome, so he will remain in the city to keep an eye on affairs. Crassus, of course, was itching for military glory - as governor of Syria he can launch a campaign against the Parthians. And I have great plans for Gaul, so a second term as governor gives me room to plan broader campaigns. Also, as a public servant I am immune to prosecution, and there are too many people in Rome who would have me arrested for what happened during my consulship. Speaking of which, I can foresee a point at which I could run for that office again. Hopefully, right after my second governorship expires - once again, to avoid the courts.
Also, Clodius will call off his attacks on Pompey. That's part of the deal.
Anyway, the triumvirate is back. And there are some who are running scared.
October 26, 2001
When I first heard of the new insurrection in Gaul, knowing the conflict would involve maritime powers, I instructed the officers stationed in Gaul to begin the construction of warships. They are being built on the river Loire, which flows into the Atlantic. Crews and captains are being recruited.
I am on my way and should arrive shortly. I hope to have more detailed intelligence waiting for me, and I hope the ship construction is almost done. I am concerned that this uprising may have support amongst other tribes, not just the Veneti. I am also concerned that my men will be able to adapt to the new challenge of seafaring on the Atlantic. We will see.
October 29, 2001
I've arrived. It's good to be back with my soldiers.
The Veneti have indeed secured alliances - with smaller, neighbouring tribes, with the Morini and Menapii, and some tribes in Britain. They have an advantage in terms of sea warfare, as they are experienced and maintain a large fleet, whereas my fleet will be newly constructed and lacking navigational knowledge. There is also a rumour that German tribes have been invited to reinforce them.
Nonetheless, I have no choice but to go to war. Imprisoning envoys is a serious offence. Also, if I were to let the Veneti get away with this, other tribes would surely follow suit - as the Gauls are fickle, and always desiring a change in the status quo. And of course they thirst for liberty as much as any men, even if they don't know what to do with it when they get it, other than slaughter each other.
So I have divided my forces. Publius Crassus (don't confuse him with Marcus Crassus, of course) will go to Aquitania, to ensure no support for the Veneti is given from that area, and Labienus will go into the country of the Belgae to keep the peace and to stop any German forces from crossing over the Rhine. Sabinus will take three legions and engage some of the Veneti's rebellious neighbours; young Decimus Brutus will be in charge of the fleet. As soon as the ships are ready, which should be any minute now, they will depart for Venetia. I'll take the land route with the rest of the army.
October 31, 2001
We're on our way to the land of the Veneti.
These Gaulish forests are dark and menacing. Several of the men report having seen some sort of spectre near the edge of camp...
The sooner we are back in open field, the better.
November 03, 2001
The campaign against the Veneti has begun.
The Veneti place strongholds at the end of spits or headlands, making them difficult to approach from either sea or land. At high tide it's impossible to attack from the land; at low tide there's a risk of ships running aground. So we tried building massive dykes around the forts, which kept the sea away and allowed our army to approach the walls. However, the Veneti simply brought up some of their numerous ships, transferred all their property to them and relocated to a nearby fort.
We have to attack their fleet. I'm trying to figure out a way; the usual tactics will not work, as their ships are very different from ours. They are much larger and are made of oak, which withstands ramming perfectly. Their great height makes it difficult to board them with grappling hooks or use missiles. They can weather storms much better, and can access shallower waters. They're not as fast, and they don't have oars -- these are our only advantages.
November 05, 2001
The fleet is finally here. No sooner do they arrive than the entire Veneti fleet of at least 220 ships comes out of harbour. No decisions about what tacics to use; myabe Brutus can come up with something. Meanwhile I wait with the army on shore. All we can do is watch.
November 06, 2001
We spent some time trying different tactics against the Veneti fleet. We thought building turrets on our decks would give us enough height for missile attacks, but we couldn't build them taller than the Veneti decks.
Yet something finally did work. The men put hooks at the end of long poles and used them to catch the enemy halyards. Then they rowed hard in the other direction, snapping the mast and bringing all the enemy's sails down. Since the Gaul ships don't have oars, they were then sitting ducks and the war became one of footsoldiering, at which my men are hard to beat. Our fleet went about breaking masts and leaving the Veneti to stew in their ships until it was time to board them. When the Veneti realized what we were doing they could come up with no countermeasure, so those with their sails intact attempted a retreat. At that moment the wind died down and their ships were rendered immobile. We finished them off, one after the other. Only a few managed to get to the shore where they were engaged by the bulk of the Roman army. The battle has just finished. It was an easy victory for us.
Tomorrow I will see what remains of the enemy forces in the area and decide what to do with them.
November 07, 2001
Foolishly, the Veneti had concentrated all their ships, and all their men of military age, into this one force. Thus they surrendered to me, and the war is over. I have decided to make an example of them, as I tire of the constant uprisings. The members of the government are to be executed. The civilian population will be sold as slaves.
I await word of the other campaigns. Hopefully they were as successful.
November 08, 2001
My men are happy, but I am not. They frown on clementia; I do not. Normally it is the best way.
War is an emotional pastime. I must put my regrets behind me.
November 10, 2001
A report is in from Sabinus. He was sent to the territory of the Venelli, led by Viridovix, who in fact was leading a large force of all the rebels in the area (some neighbouring tribes had slaughtered their leaders when they would not sanction the uprising, and joined with Viridovix). In addition a great mass of bandits and opportunists were fighting with him - these are the sort of men who will fight wherever there is conflict, no matter what the reason, as they prefer war to any constructive pastime. Sabinus set up camp in an advantageous position and would not leave it. Viridovix camped nearby, and day after day led his troops out to offer battle, but Sabinus would not engage. Because of this the Gauls, and even some of his own men, began to hate him.
At this point Sabinus picked a clever Gaul out of his auxiliaries. He gave him a secret assignment. The Gaul went to the enemy camp as a deserter. He told Viridovix that the Romans were terrified, that Sabinus was a coward, and that my campaign against the Veneti was going so badly that in fact Sabinus would be leading his army away to back me up. The Gauls were convinced that now was the time to strike. They were low on supplies, and had a limited window of opportunity, and of course like all men they tended towards wishful thinking. In any case, they attacked exactly as Sabinus had hoped - hastily, and sloppily. The Romans charged out of the camp, caught the enemy completely by surprise, and were able to kill the majority of them.
November 13, 2001
Publius Crassus reports victory after some fierce resistance in Aquitania. He is moving into the region of the Vocates and Tarusates now. My forces are now on the march. We must engage some minor tribes who remain in arms; I'm sure we'll make short work of them.
Apparently the optimates won't even come to the Senate house any more, as a protest against the recent renewal of my alliance with Marcus Crassus and Pompey. It's a foolish course of action, as it just makes it easier for us to pass our laws. For example, it has just been decided that my new legions will indeed be paid out of the public funds. Unfortunately, various political maneuverings have delayed the consular elections until the winter. This means that without Pompey and Crassus in office as consuls, many parts of our plan will have to wait.
November 15, 2001
These minor tribes, the Morini and Menapii, are using tactics I've never seen before. They knew already that the strongest tribes who opposed Rome in the field have all been defeated. So they have camped out inside a large, dense forest. Once we arrived we began work on our camp, at the edge of the forest. Suddenly Gauls rushed out of the woods from all directions. They attacked with incredible speed, and yet in a totally disorganized manner. My men rushed to grab their weapons and chase the Gauls back into the forest. But they got carried away after some initial success and went too deep into the brush, where we took rather a heavy beating.
The initial Gaul retreat may, in fact, have been a lure to get my men into unfavourable terrain. I am thinking of possible strategies for this new type of fighting. And I hope we can get the camp finished before they make another sortie.
November 18, 2001
We spent a couple days chopping down trees in the forest. I had my men use the lumber to build walls along their flanks, so that the Gauls couldn't sneak attack again. We made quite a bit of progress in this way: we cleared a swath of forest and began to hem in the enemy. We had reached their cattle and transport when it started pouring rain. If it keeps up the operation will have to be abandoned, as it's getting late in the season.
November 19, 2001
The miserable weather continues and I think I may call this campaign off. In the meantime I have gotten another report from Publius Crassus. The Vocates and Tarusates had gotten word that he was marching against them, and they had time to secure some alliances. Tribes from northern Spain reinforced them. Some of the Spanish generals were well-versed in modern tactics and strategy, as they had fought with Quintus Sertorius during the Spanish war. In order to prepare for Crassus' advance, they followed Roman practice and built an entrenched camp at a meticulously selected position; they even attempted to intercept our supply convoys. The enemy's numbers were large, and were increasing daily, so Crassus decided to attack as soon as possible. Yet when he lined up his troops the Gauls would not leave their camp. This is because they hoped to win a bloodless victory by dominating the roads and cutting off the Roman supply route, and it was a good strategy; yet it enabled Crassus to encourage his men by arguing that the enemy was acting in a cowardly way.
Eventually Crassus marched on their camp and the battle was joined. The enemy did an excellent job defending themselves, and the Romans, too, fought valiantly. Some of the Roman cavalry reported that they had found a weak spot around back of the enemy camp. Crassus had left some auxiliaries guarding his camp; as it seemed they would not be challenged, he ordered them on a stealthy march to the back of the enemy camp where they were indeed able to penetrate the defenses. Once our men on the front lines heard Roman voices from the opposite side of the camp they were filled with vigour and pressed hard. The Gauls, seeing that they were surrounded all of a sudden, flung themselves over the rampart and fled. Unfortunately for them, the surrounding countryside was completely flat, so our cavalry were able to give chase and kill a large number. Crassus estimates that barely a quarter of the enemy forces survived the engagement. After this humiliating defeat, all the neighbouring tribes submitted and sent hostages.
November 22, 2001
The legions will quarter in the regions that were recently rebellious. I am returning to Italy for the winter. It has been a frustrating campaign. I had hoped to make new advances; instead I was forced to retake what had already been conquered. It amazes me that these Gauls don't look to those areas that have already been subjected to Roman rule - Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul, for example - to see how beneficial a system it is, and to see how happy the tribes are under it. In fact, those areas are now lobbying for Roman citizenship! Yet their neighbours to the north will take up arms under the banner of even the pettiest warmongerer.
It will be a relief to deal with the familiar world of Roman politics for a while. I feel I need to make a more dramatic move next spring, one that will demonstrate to the Gauls the futility of their piecemeal resistance and thus stabilize the region once and for all.
Will be in Italy soon. More when I arrive.
November 25, 2001
I'm glad to be back, but I am already swamped with work. It appears that the consular elections are by no means secured. I'm not sure what Pompey and Crassus have been doing - and I can't say whether it is their inaction or their actions that have caused the problems. Arrangements have been made for large numbers of my soldiers to return to Rome, both to vote and to maintain order during what are sure to be emotional times.
Many, many people want to borrow money from me. Sometimes I wish my good fortune in Gaul was not so well known.
November 27, 2001
I'm doing everything I can to help out with the election campaign. If Pompey and Crassus aren't elected consuls, all our plans will be jeopardized.
If you're a Roman citizen, please go to the city and vote.
I wish I could be in Rome at this important time, but needless to say the laws of governorship require me to stay in my province. Some family were kind enough to visit. Once again I was particularily taken with little Octavian, grandson of my sister Julia. He's only eight, but clearly has great character and presence.
November 29, 2001
Things are going well. Many of the other consular candidates have dropped out of the running. (Note that this was voluntary; no pressure was applied.)
December 01, 2001
Thank you for the responses.
The election is monday. Wish us luck.
December 03, 2001
The results are in: we won! Pompey and Crassus have seized the consulship.
Unfortunately there was some violence during the elections. One of the other candidates was attacked and a member of his party was injured. And there were the usual reports of hooligans preventing some citizens from voting. I was hoping these sorts of incidents could have been avoided, especially with my soldiers helping to keep the peace, but it was not to be. Yet we should not let that get in the way of the celebrations, or of the smooth continuation of government. It's time to move on.
December 04, 2001
Apparently this site has a backend. And it has been changed. So if a few things seem different, that's why.
A nice feature that is now possible: you can leaf through the pages in a convenient chronological manner, by starting here and clicking 'next' repeatedly.
There are, as expected, a few problems. For one, old permalinks are ruined; for two, many links on non-dynamic pages are pointing to the wrong place. Any more problems anyone can find? Let's see how the comment system works...
Oh no, that doesn't work at all. It will be fixed shortly by my underlings.
December 06, 2001
There has been much celebrating recently. I can only imagine what it might be like in Rome.
That drunken reactionary Cato is causing problems, though. The assembly wanted to elect him praetor, which would have been a massive setback for us. So Pompey claimed he had seen lightning. (It is tradition that if a magistrate sees lightning, it is a sign from the gods, and no legislation can be passed that day.) Cato opposes me with such fervour, I have to admit it impresses me slightly. Unfortunately, his beliefs are so strong that he could never be swayed over to my position - unlike Cicero, for example.
Most of the issues with the site should be resolved now. Apparently the "stylesheets" will continue to be "tweaked," but everything should be functional, including comments. If you see any problems please leave word of it.
December 11, 2001
Unfortunate violence at the forum. The debate centered around how many troops would be needed by the consuls for their provinces. This is debated every year. This year, time restraints dictated that there be a limit on each speaker's comments. Cato went over the allotted time, so he was removed from the platform, yet he continued speaking, so he was taken from the forum. He returned and continued further, and was arrested. When he tried to return the following day a fight broke out and four people were killed.