January 13, 2003
A well-respected Roman merchant has been killed in the country of the Carnutes. As his house was robbed as well, this could be a robbery gone wrong and nothing more. However, I also have word that the Averni have moved against the Bituriges. I know little about this so far - hopefully it is a matter between the Gauls and it can wait until I am done here.
For there is much to before I leave. There's no longer talk of making Pompey dictator, but the Senate might agree to have him as sole Consul. This would make him happy. As for me, I don't want to be consul again until my governorship ends in two years, so I'm not overly concerned. However, if I can I will tie my approval of this new plan to some kind of guarantee that I can run for consul in two years and not be brought into the courts.
January 14, 2003
The Arverni have indeed marched against the Bituriges, led by a new "king" named Vercingetorix. I'm getting more info about this character. The Bituriges went to their protectors the Aedui for support; the Aedui consulted Labienus and he recommended they send infantry and cavalry. This has been done.
I may be able to run for the consulship in absentia. It's unprecedented, but so are many things happening these days (Pompey's sole consulship). It could be the perfect compromise for the time being, I just have to make sure Pompey and the Senate don't get any tighter than they are now.
January 16, 2003
I may be able to legally secure the right to campaign without being in Rome, with a tribunician law. All parties seem to be in agreement. Cicero's on his way up here, as he's good friends with the troublesome tribune Caelius, and I need him to keep that clown from using his veto. If this law goes through, I'm set.
The Aedui apparently suspected an ambush and turned back, abandoning the Bituriges. I don't know enough yet to say whether this is some treachery on the part of the Aedui.
January 21, 2003
Had a great weekend with Cicero, marred only by news from Gaul, where the situation continues to deteriorate. Now the Bituriges have gone over to the Arverni. I'm needed there urgently, but joining up with my legions is a problem. The conflict has broken out between the legions in their winter quarters and my present position in Illyricum. Should the legions come to me, and have to fight without their leader? Or should I risk a long trip through hostile territory without an escort?
January 22, 2003
Cicero should be meeting with Caelius presently, and the Senate is due for a special sitting. Pompey understands the urgency of the situation in Gaul and will do everything possible to rush this bill into law, as I've made it clear it's a priority for me right now.
Incidentally, since the Senate House was destroyed in the recent riots, they are now meeting in Pompey's theatre. This bothers me, although I shouldn't read too much into it.
January 23, 2003
Incidentally, as many of you must have noticed by now, the archive and search sections of the site have been revamped, and should hopefully be much easier to use. If you run into any problems please let the minions know (via the contact form).
The redesign is not complete, obviously. I keep my team very busy and with our impending departure, there's little time to keep working on the site. Bear with us.
January 26, 2003
The tribunician law has been passed and I am on my way to Transalpine Gaul, which may be attacked at any moment. I've brought new troops from Cisalpine Gaul and I may need to redistribute the garrisons to defend against an Arverni incursion. There most likely point of attack is Narbonne, so we'll head there as soon as possible.
January 27, 2003
We're now in Narbonne. I've reassured the residents that they will be safe, I've posted the garrisons at good defense points some distance from the town, and I've started drafting more troops from this province.
January 28, 2003
Apparently the local enemy commander has been dissuaded from his attack by my arrival here. As Narbonne is no longer in danger, I'll travel to the country of the Helvii - I ordered the new troops to proceed there. It neighbours the land of the Averni, separated by the Cevennes mountains.
January 30, 2003
Some of you have questioned why we intervene in Gaul at all. I too have been thinking about it, especially in light of these recent uprisings. The Gauls are fickle, and their constantly shifting allegiances are difficult to manage. Because of recent events even our longstanding allies the Aedui are suspect, for example.
Now, of course their are material resources to be had in Gaul, and this provides a reason for conquest - for who wants to conquer a barren land? But there are resources everywhere in the known world. What matters is the cost of extraction. In this case, the Gaul's lack of unity works to Roman advantage; as separate tribes, they are easier to master than such united peoples as the Parthians. But it also means they are easier for other nations to dominate, and this brings us to the strongest reason for intervention in Gaul, one that transcends Rome's need for resources. We need a Romanized Gaul to act as a buffer against the Germans.
When I started as governor, Gaul tribes had begun a dangerous practice of requesting German help with their intertribal conflicts. As you know, this led to my war with Ariovistus. Without Roman intervention, Germans would overpower Gaul and settle their people there, which would create an unacceptable situation: a powerful, warlike people on Rome's northern border. So, ultimately, the war in Gaul is not about Gaul - it's about Gaul's more powerful neighbour, Germany.
February 02, 2003
We're in the land of the Helvii now. I've opted to shock the Arverni with an unexpected attack. All the passes through the Cevennes mountains are completely snowed under - but my capable soldiers are now clearing vast stretches by shoveling away the snowdrifts, some of which are 6 feet high.
February 03, 2003
The Arverni, of course, assumed that the Cevennes in winter were impassable. So they were more than startled when Roman cavalry began destroying their countryside. The goal of this sortie is not to hold the territory, of course, so we're passing again through the Cevennes back to camp. With luck, my move will provoke Vercingetorix to leave the country of the Bituriges and enter that of the Arverni.
February 04, 2003
The ploy worked: Vercingetorix is on his way here to lend support to his allies. But I have other plans. Young Brutus is with me here, and as I put a lot of trust in him I'm leaving him in command of the troops, while I'll travel in secret, with great speed, and only a small escort, though the country of the Aedui into that of the Lingones. Two legions are wintering there and I want to mobilize them.
February 05, 2003
We're en route. A lot of advisors were shocked by my decision to travel without the legions. But it is imperative that Vercingetorix not know my intentions until I arrive in the land of the Lingones. I need him to waste time marching to support the Arverni so I have time to prepare the two legions, and send for those in neighbouring areas, before he can return to support the Bituriges. Also, as my condifence in the allegiance of the Aedui is somewhat strained, I don't even want them to know that I pass through their land, so I must attract as little attention as possible.
February 06, 2003
Success. I've sent for the other legions, and as soon as they arrive we'll head out to take on Vercingetorix.
February 07, 2003
Bad news. Vercingetorix has heard of my surprise move, but cleverly he's marching to Gorgobina, a stronghold of the Boii, allies of Rome under the influence of the Aedui. It's still winter, of course, and difficult for me to secure supplies for a march to Gorgobina. However, if I don't make the march and Vercingetorix takes the stronghold, I'm likely to lose all my Gallic allies, as they will see allegiance to Rome is no guarantee of safety for them. So I must take the risk and go to Gorbobina as soon as possible. I've sent word to the Boii asking them to hold out until I arrive, and I've asked the Aedui for help with supplies.
February 09, 2003
We're on our way to Gorgobina. I left two legions in Agedincum with the heavy baggage. At present we're besieging the Senonan stronghold of Vellaunodunum, so as not to leave enemies in our rear when we advance and thus endanger the safe flow of supplies. My men are digging away building thorough encircling trenches.
I'm going to request an additional legion, as clearly Vercingetorix is a wily opponent, and more soldiers always helps. I think Pompey owes me a few favours anyway.
February 10, 2003
Incidentally, I have adopted a group of German mercenaries as my personal bodyguard. There are three hundred of them, they are cavalrymen, and they are loyal to no-one but me. They are giants, really, and ferocious warriors.
We've taken Vellaunodunum and I've left Trebonius there to see that the survivors are disarmed and hostages turned over. Next on the itinerary is Cenabum, a town of Carnutes.
February 11, 2003
The Carnutes expected the siege of Vellaunodunum to last much longer, and so they were surprised when we appeared at the gates of their town after just two days' march. We arrived late, however, and weren't able to attack that day. The townspeople attempted an escape during the night. I had forseen this, and had ordered two legions to remain under arms all night. So we were able to foil the escape, and now Cenabum (also known as Orleans) is ours. Rather than garrison it or trust the inhabitants to stay out of trouble, I've rewarded my hardworking men by letting them plunder and burn the town. All the inhabitants will be sold as slaves - I'll let my soldiers handle it and keep the revenue themselves.
February 12, 2003
We marched on to Noviodunum, a town of the Bituriges. The siege had barely begun when representatives came out to beg for their lives. As I want to keep up the pace of my offensive and get to Gorgobina, I granted their request.
We were in the process of disarming the Gauls when a massive force of cavalry appeared on the horizon. The Bituriges thought they now had a chance of resisting so they grabbed back their weaponry and fought. Luckily the centurions got their men out of the town without a single casualty, and I ordered my Gallic cavalry to meet Vercingetorix's force while this was happening. The Gallic horsemen faltered, so I decided to test my new German bodyguard. They charged out ferociously and broke the rebels' line, but I had ordered them not to follow if the enemy retreated, so they returned with barely a scratch on them.
Now the townsmen changed their mind again. They rounded up those they felt were responsible for the previous about-face and handed them off to us. Fair enough.
Scouts report that my lightning-fast offensive through his allies' territory has indeed compelled Vercingetorix to raise his siege of Gorgobina and bring his force out here to challenge me. Thus heartened, the Bituriges are unlikely to come over to my side, even after the fall of Noviodunum. So we march on to Avaricum, a large and well-defended town in the heart of their country. If we can take it, I'm sure the Bituriges will surrender.
February 17, 2003
Excuse the lack of updates. In the meantime the siege of Avaricum has begun.
It was a slow and difficult march here, and the sky was filled with smoke the whole time. For the rebels have clearly adopted a scorched earth technique. Fields and farms have been destroyed, and we must have passed ten smaller towns that had been burnt to the ground. Unfortunately, such a strategy is as effective as it is savage. It makes it very hard for us to forage, as the cavalry must range far from camp and then is vulnerable to attack. This is indeed a clever opponent.
I was curious to see if they had leveled Avaricum. They spared it, and have reinforced it, as not only is it one of the most outstanding urban centres in Gaul, it's almost impregnable: river and marsh surround it in all places except one narrow approach. Furthermore Vercingetorix must have encamped somewhere nearby, as his forces harry our foraging parties more frequently than ever. We've already sustained a number of casualties this way. We need to secure supplies from elsewhere, and we need to locate Vercingetorix's camp, but in the meantime siegework construction must continue.
February 19, 2003
My men are starving. We've asked for help from the Aedui and the Boii, but the Aedui have given us little, and the Boii have little to give. Vercingetorix has burnt down any nearby granaries. We are forced to import herds of cattle and eat only meat. My men hate meat and beg for grains.
I addressed the men and offered to lift the siege if they found the hardship too much to bear. But they are noble soldiers, and said to me that they would be humiliated to abandon their given task. They'd rather see this thing through and punish the Gauls for making their lives miserable.
February 20, 2003
There have been a few cavalry skirmishes as Vercingetorix attempts to distract us from the siege. At one point, he took command of the cavalry and light infantry himself, and, finding a naturally fortified position, tried to lure my foraging party into an engagement. My men are eager for anything other than construction and starvation, so they begged me to lead an attack, but I dissuaded them by pointing out such an offensive would cost much and gain little.
So we turn back to the siegework. We have almost completed a massive ramp, which will be 100' tall and 300' long. The town defenders (and there are many of them, this town has a population of at least 40,000) harry us at every turn. Even at night they make excursions and attempt to burn down the ramp and the towers, so I've kept two legions at arms each night. But nonetheless we make progress.
I feel isolated, as I haven't gotten mail from Rome in some time. But of course I'd have no time to deal with it anyway - not until this rebellion is quelled.
February 26, 2003
Connection problems have been plaguing me. Regular updates should resume by tomorrow.
March 03, 2003
The connection problems will last longer than I had forseen. Updates will resume at the end of the week, hopefully. Thanks for your patience, regular readers.
March 10, 2003
Apologies, readers. More info here. Let me just add that the campaign, while challenging, is still going well and your concern, while appreciated, is unneccessary.
March 19, 2003
Connection problems persist. But I promise you this: updates resume by tomorrow night, come what may.
March 20, 2003
We're back online. Here's the post I wrote some time ago:
The night after we completed the ramp, the defenders made a sortie. They had made a tunnel under it, which they now used to set a fire at the same time more troops came out of the gates. This was very difficult to defend against, and had I not posted legions to guard our work at night, we would have lost the ramp and towers. Luckily men from one legion managed to pull the ramp back to safety before it was too damaged, and the other legion repulsed those at the gate.
These Gauls fight with great conviction. One took a position on the wall and tried to drop flammable things onto a part of the ramp below him that was ablaze. He was killed by an arrow, yet another took his exact position until he too was struck down. This continued, with Gauls fearlessly replacing their fallen brothers, until the fire below was extinguished and the position now useless.
So we repulsed them this time, and should the opportunity present itself I think we may be ready to take the town.
Here's the post that followed:
Last night the defenders gave up hope and decided to abandon the town. They were about to sneak out when they were interrupted by their tearful wives, who begged the men not to abandon them, saying they were to weak to leave themselves. In fact, the women even waved and got the attention of Roman sentries so that the escape was ruined.
Today the rest of the siegeworks were completed. It was raining heavily, and I noticed the Gauls guarding the walls were badly arranged and not paying much attention. I had the men go about their work in a half-hearted way, and meanwhile got the legions ready under cover of mantlets, instructing the men to ready for a surprise charge and promising great rewards to those who mounted the walls first.
My men charged and forced the shocked Gauls off the walls with awesome speed. The Gauls gathered in the center of the square, ready to take on attackers from any direction, until they saw my men were lining the walls in every direction, and appeared in no rush to descend and engage. The Gauls lost hope and fled toward the exits in disarray, only to trample each other as my men descended. After enduring so much hardship because of these treacherous Gauls, my men were in no mood to let up, and were not interested in taking prisoners. Out of a town of 40,000 maybe 800 escaped alive.
March 21, 2003
Incidentally, I apologize for not having answered anyone's letters. Hopefully I will have caught with my correspondence by next week sometime.
And from the next day:
We're seeing if there's anything of value left in Avaricum. Already we've helped ourselves to the vast grain stores and will have plenty to take with us. Winter is ending. I'll give my men a couple days more rest, as many are seriously malnourished. In the meantime I'm going on a quick journey to settle a political dispute among the Aedui.
March 23, 2003
The Aedui govern themselves by electing a single magistrate for a one-year term. This year, however, a dispute has arisen between two candidates, Convictolitavus and Cotus, who both claim to have been legally appointed. Already the dispute has gotten serious, with the country divided between the two camps, and if it were to escalate any further there would be a civil war. Now, normally I'd be hesitant to get Rome involved in an ally's internal matters, and also to leave the battlefield during a crucial campagin, but in this case it's worth the trouble. If one side felt itself weaker, they could ask for help from Vercingetorix, and if they were successful, an important friend of Rome would have become a bitter enemy.
So at Aeduan invitation I stepped in to settle the dispute. After some investigation, it turned out Cotus' election had been announced in secret with only a few of his associates to witness it. So I decided in favour of Convictolitavus, who had been appointed according to the Aeduan constitution. I urged the Aedui to put down their arms and put the dispute behind them. I promised them their fair share of the spoils of war once the conquest of Gaul was complete.
March 24, 2003
It seems Vercingetorix is indeed a formidable foe. His recent defeat has not broken his will nor that of his army, and indeed if my sources are to be believed he has managed to raise enough additional troops to more than offset those lost at Avaricum, and is even pressuring more tribes to come over to his side.
So I must secure more troops. I've asked for the entire Aeduan cavalry, and ten thousand infantry to be used in a supporting role. I won't wait for these forces to assemble, but will split my legions into two forces. The 10th and 7th legions are my best; I'll send the 7th with Labienus along with the 12th, 15th and 16th - their task will be to defeat the rebellious tribes around the town of Paris and secure the area. Meanwhile, I'll take the 10th and my remaining five legions to Vercingetorix's mountain capital, Gergovia.
March 25, 2003
We're following the Elaver River south to Gergovia. Unfortunately, Vercingetorix has gotten word of our troop movements and is also marching there with his main force.
First, we notice that all bridges crossing this river have been destroyed. Then, we actually see Vercingetorix's army marching a little further ahead on the opposite bank. The race continues.
March 28, 2003
We are very near Gergovia. Unfortunately, it appears Vercingetorix will get there first.
March 29, 2003
The other problem here is that Gorgovia is on the other side of the river, and since Vercingetorix has been destroying the bridges, and sending patrols to prevent us from building one, there's no way to get across. This river is normally only fordable in the summer. So here's what we did: we camped one night next to a ruined bridge. In the morning I had two legions conceal themselves, while the rest kept up the march. Once the Gauls were out of sight, the legions rebuilt the bridge, and I recalled the rest of the army. We crossed over and continued the march. Vercingetorix saw what we did, but rather than engage us he continued his advance. It's now certain that he'll take Gorgovia before we do - but of course there's nothing I could have done about that.
March 30, 2003
After a brief cavalry skirmish, we are now at Gergovia and are setting up camp. The town itself is on a mountain and is very difficult to challenge from any side, so a direct assault would be suicide. Vercingetorix has positioned his allied tribal contingents on all the surrounding heights - it's quite an intimidating view. We must besiege the town, but it will not be easy. However, there's a tall hill adjoining the mountain, opposite the town. If we can overcome what looks to be an extremely strong garrison upon it, we could all but eliminate the enemy's access to water and severely limit his ability to forage.
April 01, 2003
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April 02, 2003
Some manner of technical difficulties with that last post. That aside, we took the hill last night in a daring surprise raid and dislodged the garrison. So now we are in a good position to lay siege. However, I have received shocking news about the Aeduans, and I must leave immediately. More tomorrow.
Convictolitavus, the Aeduan whose leadership bid I backed, has been convinced by the Arverni to turn his people against me. The 10,000 strong Aeduan army is now marching towards our rear. I'm marching with the 10th and three other legions to meet them, leaving the rest of the army at Gorgovia. Thank the gods I have trustworthy Aeduan informants, or we would surely have been destroyed.
April 03, 2003
The Aeduan betrayal has given me much to think about. Primarily: now is the time for friends to be friends, and enemies to be enemies. Those so-called "Friends of Rome" who never linked to this site, or never communicated with me, are no longer considered friends. Those who do link unto Caesar, let me know, and your site will be added to the list for all to see. Also - you will now see a new section, support. Show our boys in Gaul you back them by giving your expertise, your hyperlinks, and - of course - your money. Join together, my friends. Together we will lift the Roman Republic up to even greater glories!
After an heroic forced march we came upon the Aeduan army and after issuing orders for no one to be harmed, I used the cavalry to bring them to a halt. As my informants had told me, the Aeduan conspirators resorted to deception in order to convince their men to fight against me. In fact they claimed I had executed two leading Aeduan citizens. This lie was their downfall, as those citizens are presently my guests, and when they showed themselves to their people and explained how they had never been in danger, the soldiers knew a trick had been played on them. I then told them that the laws of war allowed me to put them all to the sword, but I would not do so. I would spare them all, but even further than that I encouraged them to join my cause once again, to defeat those who had lied to them and had almost brought certain destruction to their nation. Not one of the Aeduan soldiers refused this invitation. So now I have 10,000 extra auxiliaries to help with the siege.
I did intend to execute the commanding officers, but of course they had by this time slipped away, and have no doubt joined the enemy.
April 07, 2003
As you understand, word travels slowly here in Gaul. We Romans enjoy the rapid transmission of messages via signal fire, but among the Gauls themselves, messages travel only as fast as the messenger. So only now have the Aeduans at home learned of their troops turning against me, and the news spurred some sort of popular uprising. I'm not sure of the extent, but reports come in of Roman citizens being assaulted, forced out of towns and their property being seized. State officials may not be involved in the action, but even so this is bad news for the security of Gaul. Although, I am curious to find out what will happen when they learn that I now control their entire army.
April 09, 2003
We were marching back to Gorgovia at a leisurely pace when some of our own cavalry approached us. They came from Gorgovia and were clearly agitated. They relayed the news: tens of thousands of Gauls had mounted an offensive and had nearly overrun our camps. So by way of an all-night forced march we are now in camp. The sun is up and the four legions I had with me for the Aeduan interception have joined their friends in battle. We will repel this attack, but it will be hard fought.
April 11, 2003
We've repelled Vercingetorix's assault. I am planning an attack of our own, as soon as possible, since they won't expect it so quickly. More tomorrow.
April 12, 2003
I'm going to create a diversion on a massive scale. Our mule drivers will don helmets and mount pack animals to create the appearance of a mass of cavalry. They will be partnered with the 13th legion, and that battle group will execute a feint attack. If this decoy succeeds, the Gaul defenders will be lured to the side, clearing the way for the rest of the legions to charge straight up the centre and claim three of the Gaul camps outside the town. If we take those camps, our siege will be much more effective, and I hope it will deflate the Gauls' morale by no small amount. We'll do it tomorrow, if preparations are complete.
April 14, 2003
We postponed the action until today - it has just begun. More later.
Disaster. My men succeeded at first in taking the camps, then against my orders charged up to the town - and then everything went wrong. Details tomorrow.
April 15, 2003
My plan worked perfectly, and the bulk of the enemy forces was drawn off by the diversion, leaving their camps vulnerable. My men surged forward and took three of the forward camps. Unfortunately they disregarded my orders and continued the charge up to the walls of Gergovia. The 10th legion followed orders exactly and stayed back, while the others - led by the 8th - had almost scaled the walls of the town when the diverted forces returned to defend their town. I ordered the 10,000 Aeduan infantry to reinforce our side, but my legions mistook them for enemy forces and panicked, and in the ensuing chaos, at least 700 Romans were killed, 46 centurions among them. Luckily I had the 10th reinforce the lines of retreat so that further slaughter was prevented.
We are in a bad position now. I have little choice but to break off the siege and join up with Labienus' task force.
April 18, 2003
We have word that Labienus has suffered a reversal as well. Things are not looking good.
April 25, 2003
Not only did we lose a battle for the first time, but we are close to losing the war. All but two Gaul tribes have now revolted and even the Roman province of Transalpine Gaul is unsafe. Many think I should give up and head back to that province to reinforce it. However, it would take forever on the bad roads between here and there, and meanwhile supply lines would be indefensible. It would mean I would be giving up on Labienus and his legions, who won a victory near the Seine only to retreat because of enemies massing from the rear. No - I will meet up with Labienus first, and then bring the Aeduans back in line, which may force other fickle Gauls to rethink their newfound support for Vercingetorix.
April 27, 2003
Let me get one thing straight: the German cavalry who I have ordered to join my forces are not mercenaries. They are owed to me by the tribes I subdued on my two campaigns over the Rhine.
April 29, 2003
All the rebel tribes are acting in concert under Vercingetorix. Already we have seen devastating assaults upon the Helvii and the Allobroges, who remain loyal to me - so far. It is apparent from the destroyed fields and granaries around us that the slash and burn tactics continue, and informers send word of massive troop movements in every corner of Gaul. These are hard times.
In other news: hail Patricia, the first to support our troops financially! In such a time of need it is doubly appreciated.
May 01, 2003
There are reports of enemy cavalry massing nearby. I've sent out scouts.
It was true: battle was met. It was a large force of Vercingetorix's army, mostly cavalry. Apparently they swore an oath that each horsemen should ride through the Roman column twice - this is how cocky they were. I had my infantry form around the baggage train while my cavalry met theirs in three different places. If any one of these fronts seemed to be going badly for us, I advanced a unit of infantry up to reinforce our horsemen and allow them to regroup. Finally it was the German cavalry who broke one of these fronts with a spectacular charge. The Gauls then turned and ran back to a nearby infantry encampment; along the way we slaughtered many of them and even captured three Aeduan commanders.
May 05, 2003
Apparently the Gauls thought their victory was assured, and that we were retreating from their land. How wrong they were, and how confused they must be now after a serious defeat. It seems my opponent is pulling his forces back. I don't yet know where he plans to regroup.
May 06, 2003
Seems that my opponent is heading for the nearby stronghold of Alesia. I left two legions to guard the baggage train and with the rest of the army kept up a tight pursuit. We've already slaughtered about three thousand of Vercingetorix's rearguard.
May 08, 2003
We've arrived at Alesia. It looks to be inpenetrable - upon a hill, between rivers. My hope is that once the Gauls see the sort of siege I have in mind, they'll surrender.
I've had some interesting discussions with a recently arrived young colonel, Mark Antony. Nothing pleases me more than skilled officers - I am thankful that the incredible Labienus still sees fit to follow my orders, after all these campaigns. Mark Antony could be struck from the same mold.
The trench we are building is huge - it will have a circumference of 10 miles and it will take 23 forts to reinforce it.
May 10, 2003
Unfortunately it appears the enemy will not be intimidated by our engineering display. He could well be holed in there for some time. To defend against any possible relief force, we will construct a second, outer trench of 14 miles.
May 12, 2003
We fought a hard cavalry battle today. My men were having some trouble with a massive group of Gaul horsemen so I reinforced them with my new German cavalry and drew up the legions facing the Gaul camp. My men were reinvigorated by this show of support and were able to rout the Gauls, whose sheer numbers made a clean retreat impossible. We could tell our actions caused panic in the enemy camp, but I insisted my men hold back, as I didn't want to see a repeat of the disaster at Gorgovia. The enemy still greatly outnumbers us.
May 13, 2003
Progress on the siege works continues, and I must say my men have outdone themselves. This is the most ambitious engineering I've ever undertaken - I have a feeling it will be the largest military construction that Rome has ever built.
Unfortunately we've found some evidence of furtive Gaul cavalry movements last night. Investigators are trying to figure out what they did and why night guards didn't notice.
Incidentally, this site is two years old today. Thanks to all my readers for following along - your support and feedback are a constant delight.
May 14, 2003
Information from scouts leads us to believe the escaped cavalry have been sent out to raise a relief force from surrounding tribes. We must get the siege works built as soon as possible.
May 18, 2003
Our double siegework is almost complete. Just as well, since we have reports of a massive relief force massing. To give you an idea of the engineering marvel my men have created, here's an image courtesy The Last Dictator:
May 20, 2003
More supporters! Thanks to Elke and Roberta for their generous donations.
For those readers who maintain sites, in a week the old archives (that were used under the previous design, which was replaced last december) will be deleted. All content remains, but it's organized according to the current system, so make sure your hyperlinks reflect that. The best way to link to the site remains http://www.sankey.ca/caesar/, and the little icons under each post will give you permalinks.
May 23, 2003
So it is complete. Were he to break out from Alesia, the enemy would face a 20' wide ditch, then a second trench filled with water, then a series of concealed mantraps, then the inner wall, fortified by numerous siege towers and manned even at night by the Roman army.
Yesterday Vercingetorix ejected all the townspeople, the elderly, women and children who cannot bear arms yet drain his dwindling supplies. Although I would love to take mercy on these miserable people, there is nothing I can do: they would sap our supplies equally, and we don't have the space to contain them within our fortifications. So I have carefully instructed my men not to admit any of them, no matter how much it goes against their nature to ignore the cries of the helpless. It is a cruel necessity of warfare. I reminded my men it was not I who promised to defend these civilians, and then sent them out to starve.
So Vercingetorix must force a battle soon or his men will grow too weak. Of course, he awaits his relief force, which scouts suggest could be 200,000 men strong. I can only hope that by the time that force arrives, Alesia's defenders will be too hungry to fight effectively.
May 25, 2003
The Gaul relief force arrived yesterday and set up camp only a mile away from our fortifications. Today they spread their cavalry across the whole plain - they stretched for three miles. There may be upwards of 300,000 soldiers in this force.
From Alesia we hear nonstop cheering.
I have just learned that the relief force is under the command of Commius, whom I considered a close ally not so long ago. How things change.
I have decided that we will attack soon - possibly tomorrow.
May 26, 2003
The Gauls were going to attack sooner or later - troops had lined up outside Alesia and were filling the nearest trench with earth. So I decided to move first and ordered my cavalry to charge that of Commius. At first we suffered a setback: Commius had cleverly mixed archers and light infantrymen in with the horsemen. Our cavalry was surprised and suffered some casualties. I could feel the morale rising amongst the enemy troops - upon seeing this turn of events, there was a surge of celebratory cheers. They assumed since our cavalry was so outnumbered that we were esentially defeated. It was not true: my German cavalry, who had yet to enter the fray, concentrated their attack on one point of the enemy cavalry line. They succeeded with rutheless efficiency, and the whole of the Gaul cavalry fled in fear, leaving the archers and infantrymen exposed. Those men were destroyed. The troops lined up outside Alesia went back into the town, disheartened.
May 27, 2003
Last night the Gauls attacked again from both sides. Commius' force charged out of camp around midnight and were filling the nearest trench before we knew it. On the other side, Vercingetorix led his men out of Alesia again with a surprising array of heavy siegebreaking implements.
Mark Antony and Gaius Trebonius are in charge of the lines facing out, and although it was impossible to see and casualties were high, they did a good job of reinforcing our lines where necessary and weathering the assault. For the Gauls were effective at longer range: their javelins would often hit home and knock our soldiers off the rampart. But when they tried to get closer, many fell into the traps, and others succumbed to our heavy siege-spears when they got in range of the towers. They were bogged down by casualties. When the sun rose they saw they hadn't breached our defenses anywhere, and they turned back. At this point Vercingetorix's men weren't even ready to attack - they had taken too long with implements they were clearly unaccustomed to. Seeing the relieving force had failed and unwilling to attempt an attack on one front, they turned back into the town.
May 28, 2003
All is quiet. Suspiciously so.
May 29, 2003
Suddenly new enemy troop movements are visible. A force about 60,000 strong has concentrated at the most awkward point in our siegeworks: a hill too large to include in our defences, so that the camp there is built at a slight incline. Simultaneously Commius' cavalry has lined itself up facing the outer wall, while his infantry has left camp in battle order. And now troops once again pour out of Alesia. I'm looking for a position from which I can view all of these developments. This could be the big one.
May 30, 2003
I managed to find a good vantage point and observed as the Gauls attacked. They attacked from many directions, but were strongest around our weak defenses by the hill. They were much cleverer this time: they locked their shields over their heads and used a great deal of earth to fill in not only the trenches but also the traps that had ensnared them previously.
When it became clear that our troops at that position were weakening, I instructed Labienus to take six cohorts and relieve them. I told him to remain on the defensive as long as possible, but if it became clear that the position could not be held that way, he could lead an offensive action. Meanwhile I toured the front lines and encouraged the troops, who were unnerved by hearing the enemy attack from so many directions at once. If we could not persevere today, I told them, we might as well have never come to Gaul. Yet if we could win this battle we could expect peace in Gaul at last.
While this was happening, the defenders of Alesia concentrated on one of our inner siege towers. They forced the defenders out with a rain of missiles, then they filled the trenches with earth, and then pulled down the breastworks with hooks. I sent young Brutus with reinforcements, but he was quickly bogged down, and so I dispatched Gaius Fabius with more. Yet the Gauls continued to concentrate their efforts at this point, so I rounded up a few cohorts and went in person. Finally our men were reinvigorated and repulsed the attack.
Next I had to aid Labienus. I comandeered some more cohorts and a force of cavalry. Another detatchment of cavalry was ordered to break out of our defenses in secret and prepare an attack from the rear. Labienus was finding it impossible to defend the position against such a mass of Gauls, who were attacking furiously. So he was in the process of forming an offensive group - he had eleven cohorts at the ready. While I was marching toward his position I received a message from him saying that he thought now was the time for an attack. I pressed on, hoping to get to him in time for the fight.
The Gauls would have seen me coming. They would have seen my scarlet cloak as I descended the hill. They would have seen the Roman troops at the front lines drop their spears and attack them with swords. Then they might have noticed the mass of reinforcements I had around me.
It was when they saw this, I believe, that they turned and fled.
They fled into our cavalry, who appeared behind them almost without notice. With their lines in disarray, the Gauls were doomed. Almost all the troops that had attacked the hill were destroyed on the spot. All of the commanders were killed, and we took 74 enemy standards.
The relieving force saw this and fled. Not only did they pull away from the front lines, they abandoned their camp. I sent cavalry to give chase, and a number were killed - but I couldn't send enough men to rout them, as my soldiers were exhausted after a day of hard fighting. But reports indicate the army has dissolved and the survivors have returned to their homes.
The defenders of Alesia saw this and again retreated back into the town. Vercingetorix is an able commander, so I don't doubt he will see that his cause is lost. His only chance lay with the relief force, and with them gone, his choices are to starve to death or surrender.
If I could buy my entire army a round of drinks tonight, I would. This is our greatest accomplishment yet.
June 03, 2003
We still await action from Alesia. The relieving army has indeed dispersed, so either Vercingetorix will surrender, give himself up to be murdered by his men, or the defenders will fight to the death pointlessly. I expect he'll surrender.
Updates may be rare this week because of this. Your understanding is appreciated.
June 09, 2003
There I was, seated on a campaign chair on the field in front of Alesia, surrounded by my twelve lictors, each bearing the fasces of my office, when Vercingetorix came out from the gates on his charger as we had arranged.
He rode once around me in what I assume was a Gallic ritual of defeat. It was my first good look at the young, powerfully handsome man. It's an irony of war that we respect most those enemies who give us the most trouble: the more of my men he killed, the more I felt for this insurgent, no matter how I tried to resist it. But finally it is done, and he rode up and surrendered his sword. He and his chiefs were taken into custody. They will be part of the parade in Rome if this latest escapade earns me a triumph. I set aside the Arvernian and Aeduan prisoners, seeing them as valuable in negotations with these powerful tribes, and then handed the rest of the prisoners over to my men. It worked out to about one slave for each of them.
After the spoils had been distributed I went to the country of the Aeduans and secured their allegiance via return of their prisoners. Arvernian negotiators were present and we dealt with them in the same way. So all of Gaul is conquered. I'm arranging winter quarters for the legions and when it is done I will return to Italy.
June 12, 2003
I've quartered the legions and am on my way back to Northern Italy. I've just now received a mass of letters from Rome, which I'm sure are brimming with news of political machinations. Apparently no one could reach me while I was at (Alesia. Sounds like the couriers were a little bit afraid?) Anyway, correspondence will be the name of the game for a few days at least. I've got to compile my notes into a report for the Senate, as well as catch up on current events.
June 13, 2003
The news is not good, not good at all. I have report after report of Pompey doing the bidding of Cato and the optimates, while my supporters for some reason do nothing. He's passed bill after bill that has no benefit to me, or even to him, but strictly to the Senate. One that he tabled, for example, bans any candidate from pursuing a position in absentia. While I am exempted for when my governorship in Gaul ends, the legislation is nothing less than a slap in the face. Even worse is a law that imposes a five year wait between governorships and the consulship, meaning that I could be open to prosecution as soon as my command here ends!