09. In Pursuit of Ambiorix
September 24, 2002
I'm heading back to Gaul. I've ordered a Gallic council, and those who don't attend will face my armies.
September 30, 2002
I'm busy with war preparations and won't be able to update this site until the beginning of next week.
October 09, 2002
Thanks for your patience, readers. Much has happened.
I convened the Gallic council, and all tribes attended except the Senones, Carnutes and Treveri. I took their non-appearance as a first step in an armed revolt, and so transferred the council to a new location quite close to the Senones. By doing this I was able to march against them on the same day I announced my intentions. The Senones were thus surprised and unable to defend themselves. They surrendered, and at the request of the Aedui (an ancient ally of theirs) I accepted their surrender. Soon after this operation was complete, the Carnutes got wind of it and sent envoys and hostages. So I was able to turn my undivided attention towards the Treveri and their charismatic leader, Ambiorix. I'll continue this tomorrow.
October 10, 2002
I made sure I had a healthy contingent of Gallic cavalry and that my men were well rested and prepared. Then, we departed for the territory of the Treveri. Along the way, I had my scouts and informers try and gather as much intelligence as possible about Ambiorix's plans, as I was sure he'd not try to fight a pitched battle.
We came upon the territory of the Menapii. This tribe has never sent any ambassadors to me and is a known ally of the Treveri, and was involved in their whole plan to get military assistance from German tribes just to the other side of the Rhine. I figured it would be a good idea to move against them first, thereby depriving Ambiorix not only of their troops but also of territory in which to maneuver. The other concern was that he would retreat across the Rhine and be sheltered by his new German friends, but I'd have to deal with that possibility later. So I sent two legions, and the baggage for the entire army, into the Treveri's land with instructions to go to Labienus' camp there - he was still stationed there with one legion. Meanwhile I went deep into Menapii territory with five legions.
October 11, 2002
The Menapii didn't raise troops, but fled their strongholds and villages for forests and marshes, hoping to use the terrain to their advantage. So I split the army into three columns and we razed the countryside, taking cattle and prisoners in great numbers along the way. We burned down their villages and their farms. Eventually they came out of the woods to ask for peace.
October 15, 2002
I've told the Menapii I'll treat them as enemies if they admit Ambiorix or his forces into their territory, and I'll leave a few cohorts here to monitor their status. Meanwhile we leave now to confront the Treveri before they attack Labienus' camp.
Informers report that the Treveri are within two days' march of Labienus' camp. However, they have stopped where they are upon hearing of my advance and are waiting for German reinforcements.
October 16, 2002
A report came in from Labienus. When he found out the Treveri were waiting for their friends across the Rhine, he left camp with his army and set up close to the Treveri. He found a position by a river at the top of a great hill, a position too advantageous for the enemy to attack him there. But he told his soldiers this: "since the Germans are approaching, I won't endanger us here - we'll strike camp at dawn and return." He did this knowing he had many Gallic cavalry, and among them many who would naturally be sympathetic to Ambiorix's cause. So his order was reported to the enemy. The real order was given only to the military tribunes and centurions.
So that next morning he and his soldiers struck camp, making sure to do so with as much noise as possible. The Treveri couldn't resist, and charged across the river and up the hill to attack. When they were in the worst possible position, and almost completely unable to defend themselves, Labienus gave the command and his men struck, startling the enemy and slaughtering a great many where they stood. Many more were cut down by the cavalry shortly thereafter.
October 18, 2002
Scouts report: the German force heard of the Treveri rout and turned back. Crisis averted.
I'm heading in-country to meet with Labienus and choose new leaders for the Treveri tribe. After that, I have some very ambitious plans.
October 21, 2002
We're heading into Germany again. I don't want Ambiorix to be able to hide there, and also I want to hammer a point through the thick skulls of those vile barbarians: they are not to get involved in matters west of the Rhine. That's my turf.
October 25, 2002
There are severe connection problems where I am; details here. Bear with me - I expect to have a solution in place sometime next week.
November 05, 2002
Finally I can connect again. Thank you for your patience over the past couple weeks (your time). There's much to tell.
We built another bridge over the Rhine, just above the last site. My engineers and soldiers had a much easier go of it this time, having some experience with the project. I left a strong guard on the Gallic side, in case the Treveri were to try anything stupid, and crossed with the remainder of my force.
Almost immediately ambassadors came from the Ubii. They claimed no troops had been sent by their country, and begged that I not punish them for the misdeeds of other German tribes. Some investigation revealed that this was the case - it was the Suebi who had sent troops to help Ambiorix. So I made inquiries as to the best routes into the territory of the Suebi.
At that point I received shocking news from Rome.
November 06, 2002
The news from Rome: Clodius has been murdered. He was running for the praetorship and the campaigning was more violent than ever. Milo, his rival thug, was running for the consulship, and had even hired mercenaries; it is Milo who must have ordered Clodius' death after an armed confrontation between the two parties.
Two tribunes had Clodius' bloody corpse brought to the forum and laid on the speaker's dais. Rousing speeches were delivered and one of his supporters incited the crowd to bring the body into the Senate House. They piled up the benches to create a funeral pyre and burnt it, destroying the Senate House in the process.
Clearly the situation in Rome is dire.
November 10, 2002
The Suebi are concentrating their forces and demanding support troops from their subject tribes. Now's the time to attack, before these troops are furnished. I'm having the Ubii remove all their livestock from the fields and put them into their strongholds - maybe the Suebi will attack at a disadvantage for lack of food.
I must get these war preparations made, and then figure out what's happening in Rome. I need to be very careful about this.
November 11, 2002
There are no indications of any Suebi activity anywhere nearby. Have they retreated?
I now have a better idea of what the Suebi are doing. They've withdrawn to the farthest part of their territory, into a great and almost inpenetrable forest. It seems we'll be unable to reach them, as I can't secure a supply of grain to such a remote location - these Germans care little for agriculture. I'll have to cross back into Gaul and take the battle to Ambiorix.
November 13, 2002
We've crossed the Rhine. As a reminder to the Germans, I left our bridge standing, save the last couple hundred feet on the Gallic side. They'll look upon it and think about how easily we Romans might invade their territory again - but also about our technological superiority. My men could complete the bridge again in a matter of days, whereas the Germans will never be able to.
November 15, 2002
The recent violence in Rome - and there was plenty to go around - is going to provoke great changes in the system. As I travel I have been rethinking my position.
With Crassus gone, and now after Clodius' death, I can no longer consider Pompey an ally. In fact since the elections, his supporters have once again been pushing for the dictatorship. I have no reason to think Cato and the fatcats of the Senate will grant it to him, but nonetheless their gall must be noted.
With the popular movement all but crushed there remain three main forces in Roman politics: myself, Pompey and the Senate. The worst development for me would be if the latter two formed an alliance. Pompey, I know, must think himself the first and best in Rome, so I don't doubt he would allow it.
November 18, 2002
Back to war. I've sent Lucius Basilus forward with all the cavalry, to see if he can travel quickly and take Ambiorix off guard. Meanwhile I travel through the Ardennes with the rest of the army.
November 19, 2002
As chance would have it, Basilus surprised a group of Treveri working in a field, and they revealed to him Ambiorix's location. In fact, Ambiorix was there with only a few soldiers. Basilus moved quickly and joined battle with him. Chance will just as easily swing the other way, however, and Ambiorix managed to escape the encounter alive.
November 20, 2002
Ambiorix didn't assemble his forces as expected. When he was attacked by cavalry he assumed the Roman Army was close behind, so he issued orders to all of his troops that each man should fend for himself. Thus the Treveri forces are scattered, leaving their country undefended. We'll take care of what we need to here and then push forward into the country of the Eubrones, who also need to be punished.
November 22, 2002
The Senate has passed a senatus consultum ultimum charging Pompey with the restoration of public order. The details of this bill are unclear, but the fact that it happened is nonethelesss shocking. I should know more shortly.
November 23, 2002
No further news about the Senate's decree.
We've arrived in the territory of the Segni and Condrusi, who live in between the Treveri and the Eubrones. They claim to have never supported their insurgent neighbours nor to have asked for help from the Germans. I'm investigating this presently.
Please note that my email address has changed as a means of dealing with spam. If you wish to contact me, do so by means of the new contact form.
November 24, 2002
These people appear to be innocent, so I've asked them to turn over any Treverian or Eubronian fugitives, and then we're on our way towards the Eubrones. As their country is large and sparsely populated, I've decided to break the army into three divisions. Labienus will take three legions along the coast, Trebonius will head towards the Atuatucian border with three more, and I'll follow the river Scheldt with three of my own. I've heard reports that Ambiorix has gone that way with a small group of cavalry.
It seems the Senate's decree was short on detail, so its scope is still being negotiated. Luckily for me, it appears Cato is unlikely to support the nomination of Pompey as dictator. I'm itching to return to Italy and deal with these new developments properly, but of course I cannot until these Gaul insurgents have been punished.
November 25, 2002
November 26, 2002
We're in Atuatuca, right near the spot where misfortune befell Sabienus and Cotta. Luckily the fortifications are still present, as logistical considerations dictate I leave a force here guarding the baggage. It will be the 14th legion, one of the newly-raised ones, under the command of Cicero. Our three battle units will break off from here and return in a week, in time to replenish the garrison's rations, and allowing us to compare intelligence reports before we make final action against the Eubrones.
November 28, 2002
We've set off, and from what we've seen so far, I'm not optimistic that we'll be able to accomplish much. The Eubrones have no standing army, not even any garrisons, or fortresses, or anything of the sort. They keep together in small groups of armed men, or even as individuals, and take to secluded, inpenetrable parts of the countryside. These spots are of course well known to the natives, but not to us or our guides. There's no risk to my soldiers as long as we're in formation - but also little we can do. In order to root out their network, we'd need to break into small groups and scour the surroundings, but that of course puts the men at high risk in unfamiliar terrain. Already a few men who went off alone to search for booty were ambushed, and a few traders, the sort who follow our army around, set their camp too far from ours and were found slaughtered.
December 02, 2002
My men are eager to destroy this country of criminals, but I myself am not eager to endanger my men. It's better in this situation to get the Gauls to do the dirty work. So, I've sent messages to neighbouring tribes, inviting them to plunder the Eubrones at their leisure and with my approval.
December 03, 2002
Looters from neighbouring tribes have massed, and the plundering has begun. Our work being done here, we return now to Cicero in Atuatuca.
December 04, 2002
I've received an urgent message from Cicero - his camp has been attacked by Germans. What those Germans were thinking, I can only imagine. So we'll continue back by forced march.
News from Rome: Pompey is raising an army. How this will help "restore public order", I can't fathom, unless he plans to install soldiers loyal to him on every street corner in Rome.
December 09, 2002
We're in Atuatuca. Here's what happened: several German tribes got word of my invitation to plunder the Eubrones. So they crossed the Rhine by boat, and soon found themselves a great number of cattle, of which the Germans can't get enough. But they were greedy for more, and asked their prisoners what the best target might be. The prisoners mentioned that all of the Roman treasure must be stashed with the baggage in Atuatuca, defended only by a small garrison.
The Germans couldn't resist. They rode to Atuatuca and surprise attacked. The men were caught horribly off guard - most of the troops and all of the cavalry were outside the fort collecting supplies. Those who remained were frozen with fear, and soon would have been overcome, had the Germans not mistaken the returning cavalry for returning Roman legions. They withdrew, those out for supplies returned and manned the garrisons, and seeing this, the Germans gave up hope and retreated - but not before a number of casualties had been inflicted on both sides. When the rest of us returned, many of the survivors were still so terrified that they refused to believe their commander was indeed with them.
December 10, 2002
We'll wait here in Atuatuca until my Gallic cavalry arrive. As usual, I've asked the neighbouring allies to supply cavalry, and the force should be significant. I'll use it for one last sortie against the Eubrones.
December 12, 2002
All the cavalry came in and we have set out. The plan is to decimate the Eubrones' countryside. We'll burn down everything we see, and those miserable vermin who escape the flames will undoubtedly starve to death during the upcoming winter.
December 13, 2002
We burn and burn, and loot and slaughter, but nowhere do we find Ambiorix. Everywhere we go we hear reports - "oh, he was just down in those woods, but now he's fled," "last week he rode through here asking for shelter" - but never spot him ourselves. My men try harder than they should, they make great efforts, knowing how happy it would make me to find him, but still we get no results.
December 17, 2002
As disappointed as I am that we haven't found Ambiorix, we need not spend any more time in this devastated land. I'm bringing the army to Durocortorum, in the country of the Remi, where a Gallic council will be convened and a few matters settled. Then, if all goes well, the troops will be moved to winter quarters and I'll head back to Italy.
December 18, 2002
Things are peaceful again in Gaul, so I'm heading home and the army will be quartered as planned.
Needless to say, I'm very disappointed in this year's campaign. We're no longer exploring new territory, we're just fighting to hold what we have. Gaul is a continent of fickle airheads, and I'll be happy to move onto new things.
Unfortunately Rome is a mess and the next few months offer no respite.
December 21, 2002
In any turbulent time, the observant will find opportunities to advance their position. So I will put pessimism aside. I'll examine the landscape, get my bearings, and then act.
December 24, 2002
You should be seeing a new design for the front page. Details of more things to come are here - and your input is encouraged.
Seeing as there's some sort of pagan holiday happening at the moment, I may not update again this week.
December 31, 2002
You joke that the first thing I ask is, "what is he thinking?" But no - what I miss are your thoughts, not his. I wish I had made this clear when I had the chance. I wish you could know my thoughts again. Right now, when my mind turns to powerful, terrible things, I need to know: what would you say? What would you do? What should I do?
January 07, 2003
Unforseen connection problems are plaguing me at present. Regular updates should resume by the end of the week, if Mercury sees fit...
January 08, 2003
Mercury smiles, and my connection is restored. Many thanks, god of messages.
The big topic of discussion here in Illyricum is the conscription rally. As I think I mentioned before, Pompey is levying new troops. Of course, we'll all be happy to see public order restored. But many of us have questions, namely: how can soldiers accomplish this? With my supporters in Rome, I've been working to ensure my interests are represented in whatever "New Order" is selected for our republic. I'm cautiously optimistic.
January 10, 2003
The conscription is broad: all Roman men of military age must be sworn in, even in my provinces. So right now I am seeing to it that Pompey gets his army.
My people in Rome have proposed that Pompey and I both run for the next consular elections. Now, I can't leave Gaul during my governorship, and if I renounced it and went to Rome as a regular citizen to campaign for the consul position, there's a strong chance that certain Senators would have me arrested. But hopefully we'll come to some kind of arrangement.