June 16, 2003
On as-yet unsubstantiated reports of continued Gallic turmoil, I have decided to cancel my trip to Cisalpine Gaul and winter in Bibracte instead.
I'm still catching up on reports from Rome. Milo was tried and banished, as were many others associated with the old days of street violence in Rome. Apparently Pompey filled the forum with soldiers. Cicero was so intimidated by them that he kept his defence to the minimum. I'll say this for Pompey: he's restored order to Rome. Of course, it's because disorder no longer profits him - he's now so tightly joined with the old order that he has become its figurehead.
Milo's trial, I'm sure, is a model of those to come, especially my own, if I take no measures to protect myself.
June 17, 2003
As I prepare my report to the Senate, my mind turns to larger thoughts. It strikes me that one cannot trust others to make one's case. Can even the wealthiest man buy the sympathies of the majority without a good story? And can he rely on others to tell the story right, when it is by every right his own story? I have here my yearly reports to the Senate which detail my military campaigns, and I have here this accumulation of life-fragments which you now read. I will join them together into a book. For the Roman people should know of the conquests I have made in their name; and if they did know of them, they may understand my case.
June 18, 2003
What have my opponents done to earn the respect of the Roman people? They sit on their lazy asses and count their money as it pours in, money they squeeze from the Roman people themselves. Any achievements they may have made are long in the past. Whereas I too may have money, but it is money I have seized from the enemies of Rome - those who conspired to destroy us, those who killed Roman soldiers and citizens alike. And I, just this past year, have conquered seven nations of proud and warlike people, for the safety of Rome.
June 19, 2003
I have sent in my report. We'll see what they make of it.
Now we hear whispers of widespread insurgence in Gaul, but there is no violence yet. They have apparently decided that it's impossible for them to defeat me by forming a single army, no matter how large. They feel they must mount smaller - yet massively widespread - simultaneous attacks from every region.
I grow tired of Gallic impertinence. The northern threat to Rome must be eliminated: Gaul must be pacified at any cost. I must rethink some of my deeply-held beliefs if I am to crush this threat once and for all. I can no longer be merciful towards my enemies. And I can no longer wait for them to raise their swords first. So I will pre-emptively attack those tribes who entertain thoughts of rebellion. The first target, I expect, will be the Bituriges.
June 20, 2003
Upon receiving my report the Senate granted me a twenty-day supplicatio. While I am pleased with the recognition, it did not take long for certain parties to take the report as an indication that the Gallic war was now over, and so I could be relieved of my command. You see how they spin my deeds around to hurt me!
June 22, 2003
Now I hear Pompey's Spanish command has been extended, while the movement has started to rob me of mine a year early. Nonetheless, the Gallic War is far from over; preparations have begun for an offensive against the Bituriges to the west. I will mobilize the 11th and 13th legions for it.
June 23, 2003
Even though it is now winter we must strike at the rebels. So, with a cavalry force, I left today for the camp of the 13th legion, which is just across the Aeduan border in the territory of the Bituriges. I have sent word to the 11th legion to meet there as well. Marc Antony will take charge of the headquarters here in Bibracte.
June 24, 2003
The two consuls this year, Marcus Claudius Marcellus and Servius Sulpicius Rufus, are potentially quite dangerous to me. Marcellus is the one who suggested I be relieved of my command, and Rufus is among those who favour my prosecution for 'crimes' I committed during my consulship. We will see if Pompey keeps his word: there was to be no discussion of my governorship until martius of next year. It's januarius now; if he goes back on his word I am in deep, deep trouble. Then again, I can consider the twelve legions at my disposal a bit of insurance.
June 25, 2003
We're here. The Bituriges' territory is quite large, but we will push into the center of it, concealing our approach as much as possible. Nothing will be burnt down, so that usual sign of war - smoke on the horizon - will not appear and alarm the rebels.
June 26, 2003
We caught the Bituriges completely off guard, tilling the fields and carrying on with their day-to-day lives. Before they knew what had happened our cavalry had rounded up thousands of prisoners. Many from more distant regions, however, will manage to flee to neighbouring tribes, who of course have been conspiring with the Bituriges to attack Rome.
July 03, 2003
Apologies for the lack of updates.
I've made several forced marches to the borders of the Bituriges' territory. By doing so, I am able to alarm and intimidate the neighbouring tribes, who are now too worried about their own safety to concern themselves with aiding their neighbours. At the same time, I've sent negotiators to them offering full pardons if they send hostages and proclaim their allegiance to Rome.
July 07, 2003
The Bituriges, seeing how I was merciful with their neighbours, followed suit and submitted. So we return to Bibracte, hopefully for the rest of the winter.
July 08, 2003
We're now back at headquarters.
In an operation like the one just past, we don't accumulate much wealth. So, to reward my men for their exertions during the off-season, I've awarded them two thousand sesterces each. This works out to about three months' pay.
July 09, 2003
I hear from Cicero that 'civil war' is on everyone's lips. I fear I am becoming a scapegoat.
July 10, 2003
Will the endless rebellions of these impulsive Gauls never end? Now we hear the Bituriges are victims of attacks from their neighbours, the Carnutes. Needless to say, I will pacify them. The 6th and 14th legions are in the area gathering grain, so I will join them and lead them into battle. I leave today.
July 12, 2003
The 6th Legion is one of Pompey's - it's on loan to me (originally because of the trouble with Vercingetorix). As such, keeping in mind the present situation in Rome, I'm not sure how hard the men of the 6th will fight for me. We'll see soon enough.
July 14, 2003
We're in the Carnutes' country and the citizens are nowhere to be found. All we see are abandoned huts and villages - clearly they fled upon hearing of our approach. I should have taken more care to conceal our movements. We're bogged down by a horrendous snowstorm, but we must move on - we'll encamp in their capital, Cenabum.
July 15, 2003
Thank the gods the dwellings here in Cenabum are a little more substantial. As I'm not willing to test them in such terrible weather, I'll keep the two legions sheltered in town, and I'll send cavalry and auxiliaries out into the snow to try and scare up some Carnutes.
The Carnutes have really got themselves in a jam. They're too afraid of us to stay in their villages, so they hide out in the woods, which provide precious little shelter, sustenance or defense. Every time my expeditionary forces return to camp, they are laden with spoil and stories of brutal victories. These Carnutes must be much prouder than they are smart - why don't they submit?
July 20, 2003
I'm getting reports from the Remi that the savage Bellovaci, who are thought to be the best warriors in Gaul, are mobilizing. They plan to attack the Suessiones, a weak tribe under the Remi's protection. It's a matter between the tribes, of course, but such activity can no longer be tolerated - Gaul must be pacified.
July 21, 2003
There are no longer any coordinated armed forces here in the land of the Carnutes. I may not have defeated them in battle, but there is little else I can do here, and seeing as they are at the very least scattered and ineffective I think I can move on. I'll leave Trebonius in charge of the 6th and 14th legions - they'll stay here in Cenabum. I'll call on different legions to come and help our friends the Remi.
July 22, 2003
My opponents in Rome level many charges at me these days. Here are some of them, with my responses.
I invaded a foreign land unprovoked.
We knew very well that the Helvetii were planning to violate Roman soil. Should we have waited for Romans to lose their lives before we moved to stop them?
As I have explained before, Gaul as a region needs to be Romanized or it will become Germanized. Germans on our borders would lead inexorably to the fall of Rome.
The war in Gaul is all about money.
Governors traditionally reap the rewards of their job. Leading a political career in Rome is hopelessly expensive; all who have served their city as consuls, praetors and the like hope at some point to gain a governorship to defray their expenses. There's nothing wrong with it - it's how our system works. Should I be blamed if I have been more fortunate than most? All of the campaigns I have fought were provoked by the Gauls, after all.
Because of my actions when I was consul, I must be prevented from running for the position again at all costs. I should be tried for my previous crimes.
What crimes were these, exactly? I ensured a vital bill would be passed, for the good of Rome, despite the objections of the puppets of the wealthy. As for street crime in those days, those were violent times. All sides share the blame for it.
I am an autocrat who cares nothing for the Republic.
Those who say this wish to vest absolute control of our Republic with the Senate. They wish to nullify the hard-fought gains of the people: the tribunes, the people's assembly. Those people are fans of Sulla and his murderous, dictatorial rampage that had all of Rome running scared. Let's not forget that before he became known as "the Great", Pompey was called "The Butcher Boy" for his actions in support of Sulla.
The Senate, allowed to proceed unchecked, will not benefit all of Rome. They do not care for the Republic unless it serves them alone. They will listen only to the optimates and regular hard-working Romans will starve on the streets.
I will start a civil war.
All I want to do is run for the consulship again. If I am elected, I will resign my command in Gaul, and control of my armies will pass to the next governor. It's only fair that I be given this chance. But if I am attacked - if my enemies try and prosecute me - then of course I will defend myself. By doing so I will be defending Rome herself, and my men will understand that.
July 23, 2003
I'm on my way to the country of the Bellovaci. Their commander is Correus, but they are also coordinating with Commius, his Atrebatian forces, and those of four smaller, neighbouring tribes. Since it sounds like quite a large force, I've called for Gaius Fabius and Labienus to march with the 7th, 8th and 9th legions, and we'll meet the 11th on the way - they're camped closest to the area.
July 24, 2003
We're closing in on the country of the Bellovaci. I sent the cavalry ahead to scout, and they found the country almost completely evacuated. They managed to take a few prisoners, and we are questioning them now.
July 25, 2003
We have some new imformation from the prisoners. Apparently the enemy force - made up of all men of fighting age - is concentrated upon high ground, in a wooded area surrounded by a marsh. They've sent all their property to another secured location. Correus is in command, and Commius has left to try and get military assistance from nearby German tribes. The enemy plan is this: if they see I have three legions or less, they will attack now rather wait for me to deploy the full army against them in the spring. If, however, they see a larger force, they will maintain their position until Germans arrive, in the meantime attempting to prevent us from foraging and cutting off our supplies via guerilla skirmishing.
That being known, I will march the 7th, 8th and 9th legions out front in tight battle order, with the baggage train behind them, and the 11th legion following at a distance. Hopefully they will see only the first three legions, and therefore attack.
July 26, 2003
We marched forward and before too long we came upon the enemy's position. Now I must say I was impressed by what we had learned of their plan. But they must have been startled by our appearance; they didn't come out and join battle as we expected them to. I was more than happy to set up camp on the other side of a small valley, as I was taken aback by the size of their force. So now I am talking with my engineers about how best to fortify this site.
July 29, 2003
In the wake of past victories via Roman engineering, I've decided to have extremely elaborate defences built at this camp. There will be a twelve foot high rampart and breastwork, two 15' wide trenches, and three-story towers as frequently as possible, joined by a floored gallery. There are two advantages to such a strategy: one, the Gauls will consider it a sign that we are weak and afraid and will be more likely to attack; and two, it will take only a small force to defend the camp, freeing more men to forage.
July 30, 2003
There's been a lot of skirmishing. I've been sending out our Gallic and German auxiliaries into the marshy area between the two camps in an attempt to harass the enemy and try and draw them into a battle. But our foraging parties have encountered a great number of ambushes, which is little more than a nuisance for us - yet it seems like it has raised the enemy's morale considerably.
July 31, 2003
Commius has returned with German reinforcements. So the enemy camp is alight with celebration. It's only 500 cavalry, but the Gauls don't seem to notice. Even in as high spirits as they are, they still can't be drawn into an engagement, and their camp is near-inpenetrable, so I've sent for reinforcements. I'll call Trebonius in with three legions, and I've asked for more Gallic cavalry.
August 03, 2003
It's clear to all that there are grave problems facing the Republic. What are they, exactly? In a nutshell, we have lost the ability to compromise. One of the great strengths of our system is the vast number of checks and balances in place to prevent the abuse of power. Tribunes of the people can veto bills that the Senate puts forward that are not in the people's interest, and the Senate must ratify bills put forward by the people. But this is also one of our weaknesses. When the two sides, which many refer to as the optimates and the populares, are unwilling to compromise, they can prevent anything from getting done. It's now standard fare for elections to be delayed, often until halfway through the next year. Important bills, which in reality should be dealt with immediately, are put off indefinitely, and the Republic suffers for it.
It is to the great credit of the Senate that they historically have seen the importance of compromise. When the people demanded more of a say in the system, the senate eventually relented and allowed the people's assembly to pass laws. Although this was not in the senators' best interest, it was better they compromise and allow change to occur peacefully within the system, rather than have the people turn to extralegal means, especially violence, to get their way.
But now the optimates have abandoned these tactics. Led by the stubborn Cato, they refuse to bend even slightly to reasonable demands by the populares. Consider my case. All I want is to run for consul in a year, in absentia, so that I can move directly from my current job into the new role, avoiding the baseless legal prosecution that would come if I gave up the immunity from such attacks that comes with an official government position. It's a simple desire, and indeed I was guaranteed it by law recently. But now the senators push to have that law anulled. If they do so, my tribune friends will of course use their veto to defend my interests, and the stonewalling continues. I hate to play into it, but there's nothing else I can do if the optimates continue to be so irresponsible. Since Pompey is now so friendly with them, they feel they have a strongman to turn to if things get rough, and this confidence makes them act as they do. I warn them that old Pompey's skills as a general are overrated.
The more stubborn they act, the worse the situation becomes, the more difficult it will be to solve it from within the system. Indeed, it may be necessary for a dictator to be appointed and restore order, as is our custom in Rome. They assume they will have the power to choose this dictator, but I warn them they may be wrong. This is why they should see the error of their ways and compromise. Compromise is not weakness, it is the essence of strength.
August 04, 2003
Gallic support cavalry have arrived and I assigned them to escort foraging parties. This tactic was initially a success, but one squadron went too far in their pursuit of the enemy and fell into an ambush. Now the enemy camp is even more elated.
Skirmishes continue in the marsh between our camps, with no real results.
August 08, 2003
There has been fighting in the marsh over the last few days. Just yesterday, some of our cavalry, after an initial success, broke through the enemy's ranks and pushed them back across the marsh and beyond. Only a small number of enemy soldiers were even deployed, but instead of reinforcing them, troops nearby were all too easily disheartened, and they too fled. Some took a stand at some distance, some went all the way back to their camp, and ran even further, apparently too embarassed to show their face in camp. Without a large enough force assembled, I decided not to pursue them. Hopefully Trebonius will arrive soon and we can finish this off.
August 10, 2003
Messengers report that Trebonius is nearby. I have scouts in position near the enemy camp - they haven't taken any action. When the reinforcements are here, we'll prepare a full-scale assault.
August 11, 2003
Apparently Correus learned that Trebonius was coming with reinforcements and feared a massive siege like that of Alesia. So last night he began evacuating women, children, and men incapable of fighting from his camp. Unfortunately for him, he didn't get the evacuation finished before the sun came up, so he was forced to line up his troops outside the camp as a shield. They're on high, easily defended ground, but nonetheless I must take the opportunity to pressure them. The marsh is a horrible starting position so we will move to a neighbouring hill on the other side of the marsh - as I write this my men are constructing causeways through the marsh for easy transport of our supplies and heavy weaponry.
August 12, 2003
We're now fortifying our camp, and we've put the enemy in a precarious position. If they stay where they are, they'll soon fall victim to our artillery. If they attack, they'll lose their advantageous position. If they retreat, they'll be subject to devastating cavalry charges.
When the hard cases in Rome get me down, I try to lift my spirits by thinking of the future. There are so many promising young men waiting to serve the Republic. Young Octavian, my general Marc Antony, brash Dollabella, Balbus and Oppius. My trustworthy Labienus. I even see great potential in Cato's nephew Brutus. Of course, if the establishment prefers filling its coffers to the defense and improvement of Rome's position in the world, these young men's talents will be ignored, at great cost to the Republic. Let's home this doesn't happen.
August 13, 2003
We were working on the fortifications when suddenly the enemy's front line erupted in flames. A curtain of fire stretched across the sky and we could no longer see anything. It seemed to me a cover for the enemy's inevitable retreat, but there was a slim chance it was a trap, so I had the legions advance with caution while I ordered the cavalry to skirt around it. Unfortunately the smoke was so thick the riders couldn't see the heads of their horses, so they didn't get very far. Once it had cleared we saw it was indeed a cover for retreat, and an ingenious one at that. It seems the Gauls use bundles of twigs as impromptu seats. They set these alight, all at the same time, and now they have made it to a very strong position ten miles away.
August 18, 2003
Once again the cowardly Bellovaci have resorted to small-unit ambushes of our foraging parties. However, we have learned from a prisoner that Correus has a larger trap planned. At an exceedingly fertile location that he was sure would attract Roman attention he lies in wait with six thousand infantry and a thousand cavalry. I will send the usual cavalry escort, but I'll also conceal light infantry among them - and I'll bring up the rear with a legion or two.
August 20, 2003
As soon as our foragers and their escort arrived at the site, enemy cavalry swarmed out of the woods. At first the fighting was fierce, since our troops were badly outnumbered, and I had yet to arrive with the legions. Yet our cavalry fought bravely since they knew we were coming to back them up. In fact, they aimed to win the battle before we arrived, so they could take all the glory for themselves. Once they survived the initial onslaught, they were so emboldened that they became almost undefeatable. Or so they said - the battle was mostly over by the time I arrived; Correus was fighting to the last, but the bulk of his men had fled. I got there in time to see my archers finally shoot him down.
August 21, 2003
The Bellovaci's resistance effort has collapsed. Even though the force we defeated was only a small part of their army, it contained their best men, and now that they hear our legions are advancing on them, they have sent ambassadors to negotiate surrender terms.
Word is that Commius has escaped to Germany, to hide out amongst the tribes who supported the uprising. I don't intend to let this rebel get away so easily.
Note that a not-yet-complete FAQ has been added to the site. Next additions will be proper dates and a map feature, although they may yet take some time.
August 24, 2003
As an attempt at avoiding punishment the Bellovacian ambassadors tried to blame everything on the dead man, Correus. Of course, one man could hardly steer a nation down a dangerous course without any consent from the people and the powerful families, especially considering this tribe took part in last year's general uprising. But I decided the Bellovaci's present condition was punishment enough, and let them off lightly. Hopefully this will convince neighbouring tribes who had joined them that they should simply submit, and spare us a couple months' fighting. I'm eager to pacify Gaul by the end of the summer.
August 25, 2003
I was right - the other tribes fell in line. The most warlike nations of Gaul are now at peace. That's not to say there aren't still pockets of resistance. There are reports of unrest in the west of Gaul, and while we have two legions there under Caninius' command, I'll send Gaius Fabius with two more just in case. The 15th legion will go to Cisalpine Gaul to fend off barbarian raids of increasing ferocity. Labienus, Marc Antony and I will go to the territory of the Eubrones to finally deal with Ambiorix.
It will be impossible to bring Commius to justice. Labienus just told me that he had tried to have Commius killed last year, while I was in Cisalpine Gaul, once he had learned the extent of Commius' treachery. Labienus sent Volusenus with some choice centurions, and by making some sham promise or another they set up a meeting with Commius. At the meeting they tried to assassinate him. Unfortunately, Commius' friends managed to get in the way of the Roman swords, and he himself escaped alive. After that incident he swore never again to come into the presence of any Roman.
August 29, 2003
Ambiorix has fled, as is his way. As he leaves me no army to fight, I'll fight his country. We'll destroy the land, buildings and inhabitants as we find them, so the people might turn on this 'leader' when they see the devastation he has led them to.
September 03, 2003
Across Gaul the embers of rebellion are finally going out. Peace and prosperity will soon flourish in their place, even as Rome's great Republic withers. Responsible men will now look to the workings of the Republic, to cure the ills no matter how harsh the medicine. We must not shy away from extreme measures - Rome must be purified of all poisons. If the heart fails, there's no reason to try and fix the hand. Just so, if Rome fails, why worry about the provinces?
The remaining skirmishes and battles in Gaul will not be blogged live. This site will take a break from updates until the first day of Octobris, your time, at which point I'll bring you up to speed. Curate ut valeatis.
October 01, 2003
I'm back. Much has happened. I will have more details tomorrow or the next day.
October 03, 2003
Where were we? Oh yes. We had destroyed the Bellovacian rebellion and reduced the country of Ambiorix. I decided to give some of my officers a chance to prove their worth. Labienus was sent with one legion against the Treveri, who live close to the Germans and are in many ways quite similar: warlike, brutish, opposed to civilization. Caninius was to deal with reported unrest among the Pictones, as his camp was closest. Fabius went out on a political mission to sign treaties with various tribes.
The Pictones, under the command of fiery rebel Dumnacus, had taken up arms and were beseiging their countrymen who remained loyal to Rome. Caninius marched to the site with the legions under his charge, and discovering the enemy force was quite large, encamped nearby. The enemy tried to attack his camp but retreated after sustaining heavy casualties.
Caninius wisely requested help from Fabius, who had finished up his diplomatic affairs and promptly marched his legions toward Caninius. Getting word of this, Dumnacus retreated. Seeing that his best bet was to get on the other side of the Loire, he headed for the only bridge in the region (the Loire is too deep to be forded). However, clever Fabius anticipated this move and claimed the bridge before the rebels even arrived. He sent out a cavalry force which surprised the rebel army and inflicted great damage. The next day, worrying that the enemy force would retreat in another direction now, he sent out the cavalry with orders to delay the enemy's retreat until the legions arrived. This decision was to give us a pyschological advantage. For Dumnacus had prepared for a cavalry attack by mixing infantry in with the horses, and his men assumed the Roman cavalry was the extent of the force they were facing. They fought bravely, but our men even more so, since they knew the legions were on their way to suppport them. Finally, when the legions did appear, the enemy's will was entirely broken. They fled in such disorder that our cavalry were able to cut them down freely - they killed 12,000 men and captured the entire baggage train.
At this point Caninius set out with two legions to intercept Drapes, a despicable Senonian, who was approaching to lend support to Dumnacus with 5,000 men. Fabius left to secure the peace with the neighbouring tribes, since some of them had supplied auxiliaries to the Pictones. When Drapes found out about the Roman victory, and that legions were bearing down on him, he captured the fortress town of Uxellodunum. Caninius arrived to discover a town with near-impregnable natural defences, squezed in amongst the mountains. He pitched three small camps and was having siegework built when he learned that a significant proportion of the enemy force was actually outside the walls of the town, about ten miles off, gathering corn. For the enemy, when they saw the siegeworks going up, were reminded of the siege of Alesia, and they wanted to amass as much corn as humanly possible before they were completely enclosed. So now Caninius had to abandon the construction, since his force was too small to defend it from outside attack.
October 06, 2003
Caninius managed to intercept and destroy the enemy's grain convoy and then, catching them unawares, attacked the enemy camp outside the town and destroyed it. Drapes himself was taken prisoner. However, the soldiers in control of Uxellodunum were not yet ready to give it up. Fabius arrived with more legions and our men began construction of the siegeworks.
In the meantime I had been on a campaign of reconciliation. I tried to secure peace treaties amongst all the tribes, and convinced them with friendship and encouragement rather than with the sword. Roman rule always brought with it justice, wealth and comfort, and Gaul would be no exception. But when I heard of the siege of Uxellodunum I was somewhat concerned. While the holdout force was laughable, if the siege became drawn out it could give the rest of Gaul a bad example: even a small group of rebels could withstand the Romans through nothing but force of conviction. Others could decide to follow their example, especially since the Gauls knew there would be only one more summer until my governorship was up. So I left two legions behind and made my way to Uxellodunum.
When I arrived I discovered the following: the siegework was complete and the town was entirely enclosed with no means of escape; the town had ample food, and they had access to water - there was a spring behind the city wall. So by the construction of a sixty-foot mound and a ten-story tower on top of it, we managed to inflict harm upon any who tried to gather water and thus the town began to suffer from thirst. They fought back by rolling flaming barrels down onto our siegeworks, which almost burned down, but we managed to counterattack and contain them. Finally we dug mines and managed to cut off the source of the spring, depriving them of water completely. At this point they saw their cause was hopeless and they surrendered.
Now at this point my leniency and mercy are not in question, as I have taken every chance to forgive men when I could have killed them. So no-one could take me to be cruel if I chose to punish some. At the same time I needed to make an example to the Gauls, to better illustrate their choice: on the one hand, prosperity and peace under Roman rule; on the other, poverty, suffering, war, and ultimately death. So I ordered my men to cut off the hands of each man who had borne arms against me. The men's lives were spared, so their punishment might stand on display for longer.
There were several smaller actions toward the end of the summer, but nothing worth troubling you with. As it stands now the winter draws to a close in this new year, the 704th since the founding of Rome. By the end of the year, if all goes well, I will be campaigning for Consul. If it goes badly - well, let's hope it doesn't go badly.