January 30, 2002
There are many reasons for a campaign in Britain. Lately Gaulish insurgents have been using British auxiliaries against our armies. Like the Germans, the tribes in Britain imagine that by virtue of their location they are immune to Roman attack, and so behave insolently. Furthermore, very little is known about the island. It is only traders who travel there, and they never venture beyond the coast, so the land has many mysteries. Yet there are rumours of great riches there. They say there are supplies of tin, gold, silver, and pearls of great size therein - but of course we can't know for sure until we go there ourselves.
The operation this year will be explorative. Once we have more information, we can return for a larger campaign.
February 01, 2002
We are now in the country of the Morini, waiting for the fleet to assemble.
While the army was still in Germany, I had Volusenus go to Britian with a warship to make a general reconnaissance. He didn't disembark, as it was too risky, but he brought back essential data about landing sites.
February 04, 2002
The Britons have caught wind of my intentions, and many tribes have sent envoys offering to submit to Rome. I am pleased by this development, and have made them generous promises. I sent them back home with Commius (the king of the Atrebates, a good friend to Rome, and a man who commands great respect in Britain). I asked Commius to make contact with as many tribes as he could. He is to encourage them to ally with Rome, and announce my imminent arrival.
February 06, 2002
Excuse yesterday's double post.
Eighty transports and a number of warships are finally ready. This should be enough to carry two legions and some cavalry. I am putting Sabinus and Cotta in charge of the rest of the army; they will lead it against the insurgent Menapii. A small force will be left to secure the harbour.
The channel is calm tonight. We should leave shortly.
February 07, 2002
We set sail at midnight and found ourselves off the British coast at nine in the morning. British forces could be seen lining the tops of the hills. The terrain was such that they could throw javelins effectively without fear of response, so I decided not to land. We are waiting for the rest of the transports to catch up, and we will have to find a better landing spot.
February 12, 2002
Finally we are ashore and I have had a chance to reflect on the landing.
A few hours after I last posted, we found a smooth sloping beach a few miles up and I gave the order to land. They Britons must have discovered the new landing spot, as suddenly their cavalry and chariots were upon us. This prevented a huge challenge to our soldiers. They were forced to defend against attack, while carrying their equipment, and while disembarking the transports and wading through water. The Britons, on the other hand, were unencumbered and on dry sand.
I decided something had to be done. So I signalled for the warships to come about and run aground nearby. I figured these larger ships would be unlike anything the Britons had ever seen before, and if they came aground at the right position, missile weaponry could be brought to bear on the enemy.
The enemy was intimidated, and retreated a little ways before regaining their courage. My soldiers, though, were still slow to move, mostly because of the depth of the water. Seeing this, the standard-bearer of the 10th legion decided to rally the troops. He said a quick prayer, and then charged towards the enemy, yelling to his fellow soldiers: "jump down, unless you want to see our standards taken by the enemy. I will do my job, even if I have to do it alone." When they saw this, not wanting to be disgraced by having the eagle fall into enemy hands, the men rallied and joined him. Soldiers on the other ships followed suit. The fighting was rough and confusing - our men couldn't form rank, and had trouble getting a good foothold. The Britons, on the other hand, knew the beach well and when they saw small groups of Roman soldiers disembarking piecemeal, rode up and attacked vigorously.
Seeing the men in trouble again, I ordered that the warships be loaded with troops so that they could quickly be deployed wherever the infantry needed help. This finally worked, and the men were able to get in formation and charge the enemy. The Britons retreated in disarray. Unfortunately the cavalry were never able to make it ashore, so we couldn't pursue very far.
Even if the battle wasn't a complete success, we are nonetheless safely in camp. I expect to hear from the Britons shortly. I doubt they will try to attack again.
February 13, 2002
Ambassadors came from the British tribes to ask for peace. I berated them for being hostile, after having said on the continent that they would ally with me. However, if they give up hostages, I'll let it go at that.
I have other concerns. The cavalry has yet to land, and the weather has been terrible.
February 15, 2002
The Atlantic tides rise much higher than we Romans are used to. Many of our ships were wrecked last night, so we are stranded until they can be repaired. There is still no sign of the cavalry.
February 18, 2002
I am concerned that the Britons will attack again. Surely at this point they have heard of our disaster with the ships, and they may be aware that we are without cavalry. We're short on supplies, too. So I'm sending some men to collect corn from the nearby fields, as others fortify our base camp and repair the ships. Our current situation is not good at all.
About midday today, the soldiers guarding the camp gates told me they had seen a large dustcloud forming in the direction of the 7th legion, who had gone out with orders to gather food. I was expecting trouble. So I told all the cohorts on guard duty to come with me, and for the rest in the camp to follow us as soon as they had armed themselves.
We found the legion almost completely surrounded by British chariots. Our men had approached the last swath of corn in the fields, and were in the middle of collecting it when suddenly the British were upon them. They drove quickly back and forth at some distance hurling javelins, and when they had killed a number of our men, and thrown the rest into a panic, they dismounted their vehicles and moved in on foot, keeping the chariots and their drivers close by so they could remobilize quickly.
Anyway, once we arrived the British lost their resolve and retreated into the forests. Unfortunately it was too dangerous to attack them, so I led the men back to camp.
I need to figure out a way to properly defend against the high speed chariot tactics of the British. And we need to get these ships repaired -- fast.
February 20, 2002
The weather has turned hideous here. (What a depressing island it can be.) This means the Britons will be unable to attack, and hopefully the boat repairs can continue.
February 21, 2002
The weather has cleared up, and scouts report a massive British army on the march towards us. Luckily Commodius arrived with some cavalry - not many horses really, but it will help.
February 25, 2002
We managed to defeat the Britons in a pitched battle in front of our camp. I took every step possible to reduce their mobility and I guess it worked.
They have sent ambassadors, their hostages will be doubled and I will bring said hostages back to the continent. We will leave as soon as possible - the ships are ready and the weather has been good.
February 26, 2002
Back on the mainland. The weather held up and we left last night, after arranging for the hostages to follow. Have received hostages from two British tribes, no more.
I will quarter the legions in Belgae for the winter, and I will entrust my generals with the construction of a new fleet.
February 27, 2002
No further hostages were sent by the British tribes. I guess we'll be putting the new fleet to good use next summer.
I'm sending Labienus to quell a minor uprising amongst the Morini, and I'm going back to Italy for the winter.
March 03, 2002
It's good to back in Italy. I hope to have a chance to relax.
March 04, 2002
I've been having friends over, hearing what's been happening in Rome. I'm somewhat concerned about a few things. More later.
Here's what I'm concerned about. In general, people are fed up with the situation in Rome. Lately, elections have been delayed, the Senate is so opposed to the consulship of Pompey and Crassus that they have put on their mourning clothes and they stall at every opportunity. The only way to get anything done is through violence, and there has been plenty of that.
This would all be fine - I have to admit the situation works in my favour - but there have been grumblings about a dictatorship. (If you're not familiar, in times of state emergency, our government can appoint a dictator, who gets vast power for a set term - rarely more than a couple of years.) And the person who gets mentioned as the candidate is Pompey.
Also, Crassus has been itching for military glory, so he's about to leave for Parthia to lead the campaign there. However, a tribune observed some bad omens and has forbidden the expedition.
March 05, 2002
The Senate review of my latest field report is underway. For the first time there is a lot of criticism. Cato, of course, objects to my strategy against the Germans, and has gone so far as to suggest I should be turned over to them.
Julia comes to visit in a couple days.
I've been thinking about the integrity of the so-called triumvirate. If Crassus is prevented from campaigning in Parthia, and if Pompey has any hand in the dictatorship rumours, this means that both my partners may be significantly dissatisfied with the present state of affairs. I'm not sure of a suitable remedy.
March 07, 2002
Julia is pregnant! I am to be a grandfather!
March 08, 2002
After the wonderful news from Julia, all my troubles seem to vanish into obscurity. Who cares what these Senators think? Their minds can be changed easily enough. So what if the Britons are tougher than I thought? It's only a matter of time before I better them. I hope Pompey's attitudes are similarly changed.
March 11, 2002
Crassus has decided to ignore the bad omens and set out to fight the Parthians.
I think I may have straightened out my latest problems with the Senate, and Cato in particular. We'll see soon enough.
While I'm not campaigning, I want to take the opportunity to thank my regular readers for their interest. Is there anything you'd like to see changed on the site? Something you'd like to hear more about? Usability or site architecture improvements? Or is everything fine? Let me know one way or the other by leaving a comment.
March 18, 2002
Problems in the Senate have been resolved. They have decided to honour my conquests with another supplicatio, this time lasting 20 days!
March 19, 2002
When the tribune heard that Crassus was going to depart despite the omens, he tried to have him arrested. Crassus' friends intervened, and he managed to set out yesterday - but the tribune set up a basin of lit coals by the city gate and called down curses on Crassus as he went by.
March 20, 2002
The opening of Pompey's new theatre is close at hand. I am firming up some plans to build a theatre of my own, and possibly a voting hall too.
I hear that the massive shipbuilding project in Gaul is going well. People here are very excited about the upcoming invasion of Britain, and many young noblemen have been volunteering to be officers.
March 25, 2002
Unfortunately, updates over the next week may be infrequent.
April 01, 2002
People often ask me, "yo Caesar, where do you find the energy?" The answer? Why, rich chocolatey donuts from Tim Horton's, of course! The troops and I like to stop by Tim-Ho's on the way to a battle and pick up a legion-pack of double chocolate donuts. But in the middle of a battle, cuttin' headz and takin' names can really work up a mean thirst, so we make sure we're never too far from our Gatorade supply. It's the sport drink of choice for the rampaging Roman conqueror.
And frankly, I couldn't win battle one without some help from my Palm Pilot. Mine is loaded up with custom-built Battle Management Software. It helps assign reserve troops on the fly! It can tell you when to send out the cavalry! It helps me get a leg up on those pesky Gauls, with their inferior Visor handhelds.
Have a marauding historical figure shill for you! Contact us to get low, low rates for a limited time only!
April 03, 2002
I'm not sure what happened the other day. Someone must have tampered with the system.
I've completed the assizes here in Northern Italy and I'm on my way to Illyria, where some renegades have been making damaging raids. When that matter is settled, I'll go back to Italy to inspect the new fleet, which nears completion.
April 04, 2002
Here in Illyria, it was the Pirustae who were suspected of making the raids. I ordered troops levied; the Pirustae made contact and claimed they were not responsible for the trouble. They sent the hostages I requested, avoiding the need for a campaign. I've appointed arbitrators to look into the matter and fix damages etc.
Next stop: back to Italy.
April 05, 2002
The fleet is impressive. To better suit the waters of the channel, the boats are lower and wider than what we typically use in the Mediterranean. We have 600, along with 28 warships - an impressive task considering there was a significant shortage of materials. My men have done well.
The fleet will set out shortly for Portus Itius, where the crossing to Britain is a mere 30 miles. Most of the army will go there, while I will take four legions into the land of the Treveri, who didn't attend the annual Gaul councils, who have yet to sumbit to Roman authority, and who are said to be in talks with the Germans.
April 08, 2002
The Treveri border on the Rhine. There are two of them who are jostling for the role of leader, Cingetorix and Indutiomarus. The former has already approached me and pledged cooperation; the latter is raising troops.
April 10, 2002
I don't want it to look like I'm shilling again, but... It would mean a great deal to the success of this whole operation if you were to check out the new skitfaced.com. Thank you.
April 15, 2002
Some powerful friends of Cingetorix came to see me yesterday. They were alarmed by the rapid approach of my army and they wanted their safety assured. This I did for them.
Then today, Indutiomarus sent messengers to say that the reason he had failed to show up earlier was because the only way to keep his people loyal was to stay with them. However, he said he was now able to meet me if I so wished.
Obviously he's afraid of becoming isolated from his countrymen, and I don't expect his loyalty to last long, but nonetheless I may accept his offer - if only because I have bigger fish to fry elsewhere.
April 16, 2002
I asked Indutiomarus to provide two hundred hostages, including his son and all his relatives. This he did, so I'm leaving shortly. Nonetheless I've asked all the other leaders of the tribe to support Cingetorix, should it come down to it. We know which one was loyal first.
April 17, 2002
I've just arrived in Portus Itius. The gathering of troops is something to behold. There are four thousand Gaul cavalry here, along with the leaders of all the tribes (I'll bring all but the most trustworthy with me to Britain). All the ships are ready, apart from sisxty which were forced back to their starting point by a storm.
We're ready to go. Weather permitting.
April 18, 2002
One of the Aeduan leaders here is Dumnorix. He's a known schemer, quite ambitious, and influential among all the Gaul tribes. He's asked if he could stay on the mainland during the British campaign, claiming that he's afraid of sailing and also that his religious duties prevent him from leaving the country. Needless to say, I suspect something.
The weather has gone bad and we may not be able to leave for a few days.
April 22, 2002
We're still waiting, and Dumnorix has been scheming. Informants report a series of meetings between Dumnorix and the leading chiefs. He's trying to convince them that my plan is to get them away from the eyes of their people by bringing them all to Britain, where I will massacre them.
While I have a chance, here's some notes about Pompey's theatre.
It's stone and completely freestanding. The engineering is simply marvelous. The stage wall matches the auditorium in height; the stage has a roof and curtains of fine appearance. There's a huge courtyard behind the stage, there are beautiful gardens within it and collonades surround it. Apparently the colonades themselves are a bit of a tourist destination - they're filled with pictures and statuary, including several Greek masterpieces. There are plans to use a large room in the centre of the complex as a meeting room for the Senate. (I find this a touch obnoxious, considering the room houses a large statue of Pompey. But one may take many liberties when one finances so massive a project.) The theatre itself seats 10,000 and it truly is an imposing sight - there's very little else out there on the Campus Martius, so the theatre absolutely dominates the area.
The opening was apparently a sight to behold. One tragedy made use of over six hundred mules. As well as plays there were several days of animal baiting, and it is said that five hundred lions were killed, amongst other animals. The last day was the main attraction: eighteen elephants fought against heavily armed gladiators. In this case the spectacle backfired. When the elephants were being killed their mournful trumpeting sounds aroused the sympathy of the crowd, who clamoured for the animals to be spared. Apparently Pompey was not pleased about this.
April 24, 2002
The weather is still bad, although augurs indicate it may be clearing soon. I'm monitoring Dumnorix. I don't want to interfere just yet, I need to find out more about his plans if possible.
To continue from yesterday's talk of construction: the plans were finalized and I will be building two new structures in Rome. Work will begin immediately. One is a forum. It will be smaller than Pompey's theatre, but it will be right downtown (next to the Forum Romanum). The second is a massive, covered voting hall. It will be on the Campus Martius, near Pompey's building, and it will be surrounded by a colonade more than a mile long. Thus it will be larger than the theatre.
April 25, 2002
The weather has cleared up enough for the infantry and cavalry to embark. It's underway now.
April 30, 2002
I had to cancel the departure. Right when I was preoccupied with embarking I found out that Dumnorix had taken some Aeduan horsemen out of the camp and left for his homeland. Everything was put on hold while I sent a strong force of cavalry out to round him up. I told them to kill him if he resisted - a man who disobeys my authority right in front of me can't be expected to behave behind my back.
He kicked up a big fuss when my men came to get him, and was killed. So we should be leaving shortly.
May 01, 2002
We're off. I left Labienus on the continent with three legions and two thousand cavalry; he'll monitor events in Gaul while we're gone. I have five legions and the remaining two thousand horses. We're sailing smoothly and I hope will arrive shortly.
May 02, 2002
The winds changed and we had to row hard to get to last year's landing position. We're here now, and there's no enemy to be found.
May 09, 2002
Sorry for the lack of updates. There was nothing to report - no sight of the enemy. But now we've captured some Briton scouts and are in the process of, ah, questioning them. Hopefully we will learn their army's position.
It appears this site's one-year anniversary is approaching. Odd, as four years of my time have passed. There are many things about the "web" I don't understand.
We got a location from the prisoners, so I left a few cohorts with the fleet and we marched out straight away until we saw the enemy forces. They tried to bar the way by attacking from high ground with their cavalry and chariots, but our cavalry turned them back and they fled into the woods. Pursuing them, we came upon a well-fortified post, obviously a relic of some earlier battle between British tribes. They were all holed up inside, and a few skirmishing parties came out of the woods in repeated attempts to force us back. The seventh legion would have none of this - they made great use of the turtle formation (shields locked above the heads), piled up enough dirt on the fortifications to pass over them and then forced the Britons out of their fort. All this with only a couple injuries.
The enemy has fled into the woods again, but we will not pursue tonight. Instead, we'll fortify this position a little more and then engage them in the morning.
May 10, 2002
I led a great force out from our camp with the intention of running down the fleeing Britons. However, messengers came from the fleet to say there had been a great storm and the ships are badly damaged. So I've called off the operation and we'll return to the coast for now.
May 11, 2002
The fleet is trashed. Many ships were run aground and many more were wrecked by bashing into other ships. At least 40 are beyond repair. The rest will take a lot of work. So I've had all those in the legions with the requisite skills begin work on the ships, I've sent a message to the continent asking for more and for Labienus to have his men build as many as they can. On top of that, I'm having all the ships here beached and we're going to build fortifications around them. It's going to take a while but I think the precaution is necessary.
May 13, 2002
The fleet is being repaired, so there's not much to say, other than to point out that today is this site's first anniversary. Many things have changed over the past year (which has been four years of my time, strangely), and I'd like to thank the regular readers for sticking around, as well as those of you just discovering the site. You are sharing in the glory of Rome.
May 16, 2002
The fortification work is almost done, so we're heading back to the site of our previous, aborted engagement. Intelligence reports indicate a large British army massing under the command of Cassivellaunus, a leader of a tribe that lives on the other side of a river they call the Thames. Most of the tribes in this area were at war with him until our recent arrival, which frightened them into joining forces and appointing him their commander.
May 19, 2002
My cavalry, who I sent ahead to scout, were ambushed by a contingent of British cavalry and chariots. They held their own and drove off the Britons, but then pursued to eagerly, had trouble with the highly mobile charioteers, and sustained rather heavy casualties. But they managed to repulse the Britons again.
Then, when these men were distracted by the construction of their camp, the Britons struck again. The fighting was fierce and not in our favour. When I heard, I sent two more cohorts as reinforcements, but the enemy managed to break through the middle of our forces and escape, after killing a tribune (Laberius Durus). My men are completely unused to this manner of fighting.
May 21, 2002
Ouch. Apologies for the double post.
I'm trying to figure out why we have such trouble fighting the British. It all comes down to their extreme mobility. For one, our men are too heavily encumbered by their armour and weapons, so they're unable to pursue when the enemy retreats. Also, our cavalry is ineffective against their chariots. They tend to retreat on purpose, then jump down from the chariots and fight on foot when our men near, in such a way that gives them the advantage. Finally, they fight in open formation, never close together. They post small groups of reserves across the battlefield so that should one unit be forced to withdraw, there are always others that can either defend their retreat or take their place.
We can see them now, up on the hills, waiting. There appears to be fewer of them, although this is probably a ruse.
May 22, 2002
Yesterday I sent some men on a foraging expedition. Expecting trouble, I sent three legions total. Sure enough, the Britons were suddenly all over them, from every direction. My men fought back with a strong counter-attack, one which they managed to continue and pursue the enemy some distance. This action emboldened our cavalry. In what turned out to be the decisive move, they charged aggressively and shattered the enemy's force, leaving no chance for the charioteers to make a stand or for the reserves to turn the tide of battle. We were able to pursue, and killed a great number of Britons.
May 23, 2002
It seems the assembled British army has mostly dispersed. Many of the tribes who sent troops have recalled them. Accordingly, I'm going to head into Cassivellaunus' territory and attempt to take out his forces, preventing him from ever again mounting this kind of operation. We march to the Thames today and will attempt to ford it.
May 27, 2002
There's only one sensible place to cross the Thames. We arrived there to find enemy forces drawn up on the other shore, and large sharp stakes driven into the edge as a defence. I sent the cavalry across and then the infantry, but the infantry drove forward so quickly they attacked at the same time as the cavalry. The enemy forces couldn't withstand it and ran off.
I grow tired of this enemy and his constant retreats. If he's unable to defeat us in battle, why not surrender?
May 28, 2002
Cassivellaunus continues his retreats. It appears that he has disbanded all of his troops except for a large (4,000 or so) contingent of charioteers. I keep sending my cavalry out to devastate the countryside, as is standard fare in this situation; if they stray too far from the columns of infantry his chariots attack quickly and powerfully. Thus our destruction of his country is limited.
Word comes from Rome that Pompey has been making new friends in the Senate and that the movement to appoint him dictator has been rekindled.
Envoys have arrived from a tribe in southeastern Britain. They've asked for protection from Cassivellaunus. Finally, some allies on this forsaken island.
May 31, 2002
More tribes have asked for protection. I've also learned from these tribesmen that we're not far away from Cassivellaunus' stronghold, if you can call it that (a British 'stronghold' is a thickly wooded area to which they have added trenches and ramparts). So we're heading there presently.
June 03, 2002
I can't bring myself
June 05, 2002
I learned of two deaths at once: that of my mother and my daughter.
My mother died of natural causes, and we could say the same of Julia, as she died in childbirth. If I didn't know how much Pompey loved her, I would be suspicious. But I do know, so baseless suspicions would only distract my fragile self from what surely must be the task I face: to continue on. As pointless as it may seem.
It's a hard time to be a father, and a son.
June 09, 2002
Cassivelaunus' base was perfectly positioned for defence, and heavily fortified - but nonetheless I led my men against it upon arrival. We attacked from two sides and decimated the rebel Gauls. Some managed to flee, including their leader, but most were killed.
In the meantime I learned forces sympathetic to Cassivelaunus had made an attack on our naval camp. My men fought aggressively and effectively - as soon as they saw the attackers, they made a sortie, which surprised the enemy and enabled my men to kill a great number. They also captured the leader of the enemy forces.
I've tried to put my grief aside. I think I have done this successfully. Unfortunately, the things I dismissed it for seem pointless at best.
June 10, 2002
Now that his fortress has been taken and his attempted diversion at the naval base has gone horribly astray, Cassivelaunus has sent his ambassadors to me with news of a surrender. I'll ask for hostages, of course, and I'll demand a tax be paid by all inhabitants of this pitiful island. Rather than wait for its collection, we'll return to the continent as soon as weather permits.
June 11, 2002
Cassivelaunus has agreed to my terms. So we leave for the continent imminently. Because this year's harvest in Gaul was so poor, I'll need to quarter the legions in different regions rather than all together in one spot, as I'd prefer. So this will be the next matter to settle.
Meanwhile I'm dealing with Pompey about Julia's funeral. He wants to bury her on one of his estates, and I don't think there's anything I can do about that.
June 17, 2002
I'll send one legion with Gaius Fabius to quarter with the Morini, another with Quintus Tullius Cicero to stay with the Nervii, another to the country of the Essuvii with Lucius Roscius, a fourth will be stationed in the Remi's land near the Treverian border, and three will stay with the Belgae. The newest legion will go the Eubrones under Sabinus and Cotta. Hopefully this wide distribution won't put as much strain on the Gaul food supply. I'll stay in Gaul myself until I know the soldiers are settled and the camps well fortified.
I can't explain to you how much I miss Julia.
Mourners removed Julia's body from the funeral ceremony on Pompey's estate and brought her to the Campus Martius, where they cremated her, as befits a prominent and well-loved citizen. I have written to promise gladitorial games in her memory. I know some will criticize this as an unusual and extravagant display of mourning. They can think what they want.
June 18, 2002
Let me just remind some people: I am the original warblogger.