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The Ancient Era Discuss Ancient Warfare! Romans, Carthaginians, Greeks, etc.

View Poll Results: Gaius Julius Caesar vs Alexander the Great,who will win the battle?
Gaius Julius Caesar 82 57.75%
Alexander the Great 60 42.25%
Voters: 142. You may not vote on this poll

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  #121  
Old 18 Jun 09, 09:54
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That is a very good question joea.

200 years on metallurgy had advanced signifigantly, and this would certainly be a factor. Caesar's legions used high-quality Spainish Iron in their weaponry. This is off the top of my head, but I do believe Alexander's army had yet to get beyond using bronze weaponry (I know that Alexander himself at least made a great deal of using some old bronze armour that he thought had once belonged to Achilles). This would certainly be a factor if Alexander's army, as it was, is to face Caesar's.

Military technology in the strictest sense did not advance so far that Alexander would have been blown out of his mind by anything the Romans would throw at him in the way of artillery, etc.

Two things that would likely get at the Macedonians would be the Roman chainmail and the adapted Pilum (javelin) that Marius developed for the use of the legionaries. In Caesar's time the Pila were designed so that on impact the head would bend, thus not only making it useless to throw back, but also having a nasty habit of sticking in shields and not coming back out. Caesar's own campaigns showed on several occaisons that the Pila was lethal for enemies trying to use a Phalanx as Alexander's men would.

Although the technology would in essence be comprehendible for him, Alexander would also likely be thrown by the ease with which the Romans built bridges and forts. But then, in this he would be no different from most people facing the Romans for the first time.

All in all Alexander's biggest surprise would lie in tactical evolutions more than technological ones. The cohort-legion was the most efficient military organization in the Ancient World, and Julius Caesar exploited its potential and raised its capabilities more than any other Roman commander. His genius was to take an already good system and raise it to the peak of perfection (and seriously develope its engineering capabilities).

Last edited by Divus Julius; 19 Jun 09 at 05:19..
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  #122  
Old 18 Jun 09, 10:21
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Some very nice retorts

However we cannot let technology rear its head otherwise its the old Percival vs Napoleon match again. Remember the thread is Alexander vs Caesar, not the Macedonian army of 325BC verses a Roman one of 60BC. Having said that the styles of the forces used are relevant .

Will reply later when I have more time .
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  #123  
Old 18 Jun 09, 11:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
*rubs hands together in glee*

I do love it when I'm facing an opponent who can argue well (most of them I just trample over).

Let's start with your first assertion: that Caesar faced only Romans and Barbarians. Not true at all. The "Barbarians" aspect alone covers three different varieties of Gauls (as we know from the man himself, All Gaul was divided into three parts), Germans, Britons, and Spaniards. In any case, I digress. Caesar also faced Africans (or if one wants to be really picky, Numidians), Egyptians (not particularly exotic as our image of them might be, but definitely neither Roman nor Barbarian), and the finest army Pontus could turn out (destroyed in four hours at a place called Zela - Veni Vidi Vici).

And then we come to his fellow Romans. As you say, Alexander beat the 2nd best infantry in the world at his time. Caesar beat the best infantry in the world at his time: other Roman legionaries. This is the point where a lot of people like to protest that Caesar's legionaries were veterans of the Gallic Wars, and were thus of higher quality. This needs more examination. At the start of the Civil War the Optimates (Roman political party hellbent on opposing him) had far more veteran legionaries than Caesar did. While Caesar had around 20-30,000 veterans under his banner in the begining of the war the Boni headed up by Pompey had 35,000 veteran legionaries concentrated in Spain alone, and many more scattered throughout the eastern Provinces, as well as two more back in Italy. They also obviously enjoyed a huge advantage in resources and the potential for further recruitment. It was Caesar's genius to open the war with two brilliant campaigns in Spain and Italy where without a single major battle he captured some 10 Legions intact from the enemy, in a blow laying waste to one of their biggest advantages. It should be noted though that during all of his campaigns that followed a large portion of his soldiers were still new recruits though.
Actually Pompey was forced to use the raw recruits, as his Veterans were scattered and needed to be recalled... and Caesar had hte benefit of his veterans, who had just served 8 years in combat, as opposed to Pompey's many of which had not served for 5-10 years before being recalled.

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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
* To throw something back at you, while I see Caesar as having faced at least equal, if not greater threats than Alexander did in the armies that he faced, I've never been very impressed with the leadership that Alexander had to overcome. At least 3 of Caesar's major opponents: Vercingetorix, Pompey Magnus, and Titus Labienus, can be described as military geniuses in their own right, and his other opponents were certainly no slouches. Alexander's most notable opponents were Darius and Porus, of whom the latter was noted for great bravery in battle, but certainly not brilliant leadership, and the former does not strike me as the most sterling of commanders.
The actions of Vercingetorix at Alesia were not those of a military genius. had he been smarter he wouldn't have gotten himself trapped. Even after doing so he still had a numerical advantage with his relief forces which they used badly, stupidly in fact considering their past experiences of Roman and especially Caesar's abilities and tactics... Pompey was not creative enough and followed 'the book' too much, again a huge failing given his familiarity with his opponent.

Caesar only won Rome. Alexander not only Held control of Greece but managed to conquer Persia, Egypt, and much of northern India...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
It is true that our main sources for the campaigns of Julius Caesar are the Commentaries that he wrote himself (most of them, anyway - the final book in The Gallic War, and the accounts of his Egyptian, Pontic, African, and 2nd Spanish campaigns were written after his death). It's also true that for centuries Ancient Writers used Alexander the Great's own accounts of his battles (sadly lost) as primary source material, but we'll pass over that.
Actually that is grossly incorrect. Alexanders battles were recorded by eyewitnesses other than him. which is why we still have accounts of his exploits...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Caesar's writings often come under criticism merely for him having written them himself. Personally I don't see how that makes them any less reliable than any other writings we have in regards to the ancient commanders. The difference between Caesar writing his own accounts or having an underling or a toadie write them for him would have amounted merely to out being deprived of one of the greatest latin works of all time, produced by one of the greatest literary genius' in history. Our most reliable sources for the campaigns of Scipio Africanus come from writers who got most of their information either from his relatives or his own archives.
Well it's called propaganda for a reason. According to Caesar he conquered Britain... which we know is patently false. He botched the job twice,a nd it would be a Century until the Romans actually took the Island ( Claudius)

Caesar pi**ed around Gaul abusing his Governorship. (these actions bringing the Wrath of the Senate down on him) and his writings were the Fodder keeping the Plebs happy. Even at that stage Julius knew where the power lay, and the plebs love victory, which is what he gave them...even when he wasn't winning.

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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
All the historians I've read who have commented on the relative trustworthiness of the Commentaries (Adrian Goldsworthy, Christian Meier, Phillip Freeman, Matthias Gelzer, Theodore Dodge, Michael Grant being my favorites, though there are others) have effectively agreed that by and large they are extremely accurate. The numbers are either raised or lowered in various places (not exactly unique in Ancient History), there are occasional cover-ups, and a good bit of justification goes on (not so much moral as political), but by and large the events depicted are accurate. In many ways they could not be anything but so - if otherwise the whole point of writing them would have been largely nullified. Caesar was not acting in a vacuum where he could do whatever he wanted and nobody would no about it. He had back home a line of enemies who wanted to kill him with varying degrees of pain that stretched around the corner and back who kept themselves well updated about everything he did. The amount of communication between Gaul and Rome during the years of Caesar's activity there was phenomenal. If his enemies had gotten even the tinniest hint that Caesar was falsifying his reports they would have pounced on it.
See my above note...Well they did pounce on it! as he was charged with Theft, Murder and the abuse of his position as co-consul of Rome and Governor of Gaul.

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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Getting back to the military argument, you are correct in pointing out that Caesar did not achieve victory in two of his battles: the sieges of Gergovia and Dyrrachium. Personally I don't feel either defeat reduces his military greatness in any way, shape, or form, quite the opposite, in fact: whenever listing Caesar's greatest battles I always put those two near the top of the list. The operation Caesar conducted at Gergovia was astonishing in it's complexity, and did in fact succeed in Caesar's stated objectives - the downside came when his troops disobeyed the order to retreat and thought they could charge the fortress - not a good combination. Similarly, the siege of Dyrrachium saw Caesar demonstrate incredible command over his men in one of the greatest sieges in history. Its ultimate failure owed to an untimely defection of a cavalry officer. In both cases Caesar's conduct was exemplary, and he followed both setbacks up brilliantly; culminating in his two greatest battles: Alesia and Pharsalus.
A perfect example of Alexanders Strength as a commander over Caesar, Alexander didn't have treachery within his ranks, and his men fought for him due to loyalty and Love. As previously stated he won Alesia simply because the Gauls fought it stupidly.

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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Both commanders covered a wide area with their campaigns, and while I acknowledge Alexander for the difficult terrain he covered and fought on, let's not pretend that Caesar's campaigns were any sort of picnic. Like Alexander he fought skirmishes, sieges, open battles. He fought in mountains, plains, deserts, etc. Caesar too faced guerilla warfare and contested river crossings (his operations at the Allier River are just as impressive as Alexander's at the Hydaspes River). Something Caesar faced that Alexander did not was campaigning where naval matters were a constant need to attend to. Naval Strategy did feature in Alexander's early campaigns, and he certainly did put his ships to good use at Tyre, but he can't match up, IMO, to Caesar's daring crossing of the Adriatic, his naval battles in Egypt and Africa, his destruction of the fleet of the Veneti, and especially his amphibious landing in Britain, incidentally the first such landing in military history. Also worthy of a mention is the extraordinary battle Caesar fought in the city of Alexandria; an example of urban warfare almost unique in the Ancient World, as is Caesar's brilliant conduct of it.
Granted he had a variety of terrain to deal with, but much of his decisive land action benefited from somehting Alexander never had a chance to experience... the Roman Road... That being said Caesar's Naval commanders did a fantastic job of defeating the Ptolomeian navy.

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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Speaking of the British Landings, might as well address those too. On neither occaison was Caesar "kicked out". Quite the opposite really. The expeditions were, it should be remembered, effectively a public-relations stunt that can be compared with the Moon Landing. The first expedition, in 55 BCE, was in effect a glorified scouting expedition that achieved its goal (find a good place to land when we come back next year, start softening up the natives) that would militarily speaking be unremarkable but for the fact that it featured Caesar's above mentioned Amphibious Landing - the first such landing in history and one of his greatest tactical feats. The 2nd landing in 54 BCE again satisfied both the political and strategic goals. Thanks to Caesar's destruction of the Veneti tribe in 56 BCE he was free to establish an alliance with well positioned tribes in Britian who afterwards received a monopoly on all trade between Gaul and Britain, and this he proceeded to do so after skillfully breaking up the attempted British resistance. And obviously the people back home in Rome once again went wild with excitement.
Hmmm, Roman habits were to take an place and stay, investing it with Roman Forces and slowly Romainizing it... which didn't take place here. HE had to retreat from his First landing after many of his Ships were wrecked in a Channel storm. The second Landing fared no better other than being able to take hostages, but the Roman Army would not step foot onto this island again for a century. FYI the British tribes had been trading with Gaul and the Mediterranean nations for quite some time before Caesar ever got there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Militarily the campaigns come up as a risk Caesar probably should not have taken, but politically they were a stroke of genius.
He had no choice but to fight his campaigns ( I presume you mean after crossing the Rubicon) to ensure: 1. he kept his Head on his shoulders, 2. his rights, land ,titles and money were not confiscated by the Senate.

He had been declared an enemy of the Republic, left with no choice at all considering his Long term Goals.

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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
They come up looking particularly good when contrasted against Alexander's foolhardy crossing of the Gedrosian Desert, merely to prove that he could bring an army across it when nobody had ever been able to do such a thing before, and losing some 3/4 of his soldiers in the process.

I acknowledge freely that Alexander was a master of logistics, but I'd maintain that Caesar was just as good in his ability to analyze, maintain, and disrupt enemy logistics. The two men went for very different approaches. Alexander, as you say, showed his genius in maintaining his supply lines, Caesar preferred the "live off the land" approach, something for which he trained his legions to be uniquely suited to do.
If by 'living off the Land' you mean appropriating the good of those they came across then I agree with that statement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Caesar, as said above, beats Alexander into the dust as a marcher. Alexander was good at marching, but he couldn't match the incredible distances Caesar could cover in both short and long periods of time (his march from Italy to Spain, covering some 1500 miles in just 27 days, is one of the greatest feats in military history IMO).
Again the Roman Roads make this Feat far less than impressive, and given the numerical Difference between Alexanders forces and Caesar's renders this argument moot. There is no comparison

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
As also mentioned before, and as I might as well expand upon here, while there can certainly be debate about Caesar vs Alexander in tactics, logistics, and leadership, there is simply no contest when it comes to strategy, Caesar's forte as is commonly agreed. His campaign against the Belgae tribes was a masterpiece of strategy in which he effortlessly broke apart an army that significantly outnumbered his own, and defeated it piecemeal, the only hiccup being the Battle of the Sambre, in which he was almost surprised, but which he managed through a brilliant display of command to turn into a crushing victory. In his campaign against the Veneti he boldly divided his forces into five sections that pinned down and isolated all areas of resistance in the area of the Rebellion of 56 BCE, and allowed them to be destroyed piecemeal. His rapid strikes against the tribes around the Treveri and his following devastating attack upon the now isolated Treveri tribe itself is a perfect example of how such a campaign should be performed. Mentioned above, his campaigns in Italy and Spain have no parallel in Ancient Military History except themselves. Through brilliant maneuvering Caesar captured 10 enemy legions without a single major battle being fought and successfully secured half the Roman empire for himself in just four months. His Grand Strategy throughout the Civil War easily outstrips Alexander's own accomplishments in this area. Above and beyond even these is his campaign against Vercingetorix, quite arguably the most brilliant demonstration of strategy (and tactics) in Ancient History, possibly all history.
Agreed that many of his battles in Gaul were impressive, but the Gauls effectivlely beat themselves, especially at Alesia. As I said before they fought it stupidly, especially considering the vaunted 'genius' of Vercingetorix

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Such are Caesar's best campaigns strategically, IMO, although all of them were brilliant in their own way. Also noteworthy are such feats as his bold move to cut Pompey off from his supplies in Greece, his attack on Thapsus during his African campaign, and his masterful maneuvering in his last Spanish campaign. Between Caesar's brilliant eye for ground and his astonishing abilities in planning, reading and directing the moves of his opponents, coordination, and sheer boldness, this one's a no-brainer for me.
Considering how well he knew Pompey it's not surprising he could anticipate his opponent.

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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
And so we come (finally) to the actual battle itself - our argument about tactics. If it's a siege that the two of them are involved in, then, although it would be an absolutely spectacular engagement, I am certain that Caesar would be the ultimate victor. Caesar and Alexander were undoubtedly the two greatest siege-masters in the Ancient World, but of the two I am certain that Caesar was the better in this regard. His stunning sieges of Alesia, Gergovia, Uxelledorum, Dyrrachium, Avaricum, Brunidisium, and Alexandria, as well as the many other lesser sieges he conducted, overwhelm even such masterpieces as the siege of Tyre.
All things being Equal ( and there's the sticking point) Alexander's seige abilities were exceptional considering he had to Invent his seige methods, whereas Caesar had the benefit of several centuries of development. had Alexander had those same advances at hand I think the victor would have been in doubt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
If it is to be a traditional battle however, the the advantage for me must still go to Caesar, who I regard as having been no less effective as a tactician than as a strategist.

In evaluating the tactics of both one is subject to a variety of military gems. For Alexander; the battles of Issus, Gaugamela, and Hypasdes. For Caesar, the battles of Charleroy, Alesia (the battle that took place before the siege, some distance from the town), Pharsalus, The Nile, Ruspina, and Thapsus (I excluded his amphibious landing in Britian since I presume we're talking land battles here). Of them, Caesar's strike me as the more brilliant; the more flexible.

I'd grant you that Alexander's cavalry would be of better quality, but this is countered out by the fact that Caesar's infantry are undoubtablly of better quality in this hypothetical engagement.
I have to disagree with this. The Republican Legions were of quality,to be sure. The Hoplites of Alexander were the best warriors of the Age, thus the reason that his Opponents hired Greek mercenaries to strengthen their lines.

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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Caesar's cavalry might be of slightly lower quality, but he certainly knew when and how to use them, in a way that none of the opponents Alexander ever faced did. His use of his cavalry at Alesia and Ruspina matches anything Alexander every came up with. He showed in his defense of his colum from Vercingetorix near Alesia that he was adept at combined arms attacks that could stop even cavalry of superior quality to his firmly in their tracks. Often however, Caesar preferred to leave off opposing cavalry with his cavalry. As you noted, his move at Pharsalus in withdrawing his own cavalry at the last moment to tempt the Pompeian cavalry out of formation before scattering them with an attack from the mobile fourth line of infantry he'd formed before counter-attacking with his own cavalry, and simultaneously using the 4th line to flank the enemy army while crushing them from the front by throwing in his fresh 3rd line was nothing if not inspired. Throw in Caesar's brilliant tactics demonstrated at Ruspina and Thapsus and the result of this battle is looking ever clearer to me.

Alexander's battles were nothing if not brilliant, but they had flaws that he was very, very lucky his opponents did not exploit. Case in point is the gap that opened in his lines at the battle of Gaugamela. If the Persians had successfully exploited that (as they certainly could have) Alexander would have been done for. Caesar showed at the Battle of the Nile that he did not let mistakes like that go unpunished. Even Theodore Dodge, an intense admirer of Alexander, admits that no other general in history has ever showed as marked ability for exploiting the mistakes of his foes as Caesar had.
The Perisans tried to exploit the gap, but between Parmenion and Alexanders reactions this came to naught. Caesar was a great (make that exceptional) opportunist for sure, but Alexander was Exceptional at wresting opportunities from his opponents. turning his own mistakes into advantages in the process. Incidentally Gaugemela was a perfect example of the strength, not only of Alexander's strategy, but of his forces, in part and in Whole. Having lost the bulk of his left Wing he still managed to win.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Alexander faced significant enemy armies, but to me never had much serious opposition in the enemy commanders. Caesar faced several men who were nothing if not brilliant , and also faced armies just as dangerous as those Alexander faced, in situations just as varied.
I find no Brilliance in the opponents faced by Caesar. Pompey in his Prime had been brilliant, but by the time Caesar had crossed the Rubicon Pompey had been away from Command for too long. He had seriously misjudged his opponent, and showed noner of the innovation or flair he had in his youth

I find it interesting that you say Alexanders opponents were not of the same quality as Caesars... considering they were in the same situation. The warriors of their day. Neither Alexanders nor Caesars opponents were their equal, so this does not show Julius to be the better general.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Alexander is noted for the incredible area he was able to cover with a serious of what I freely admit were brilliant tactical victories. But as Napoleon Bonaparte said:

"...[compared to Caesar] Alexander the Great did not perform a single outstanding maneuver that would be worth mentioning in a Great General. Caesar [by contrast] through his audacity faced mighty enemies, and yet was victorious thanks to his military genius."

Caesar's Conquest of Gaul and his Civil War are both individually comparable to Alexander's entire military career. When they are added together, and acknowledged as the labor of a man who had a similar length of time to Alexander, and at the same time brought about achievements of equal splendor in other fields, they are unmatched. Of the two though, I consider Caesar's Civil War to have been the more brilliant (just). As a war it could be said to be unique in Ancient History in that it covered the entire Mediterranean in its range, featured high quality maneuvering on both sides, and that in no other war in the Ancient World when two forces of equal equipment have faced each other have the victors destroyed the losers so completely at so little cost to themselves (Scullard).

Caesar would out-run and outmaneuver Caesar and would likely be able to get his choice of a battlefield. On said battlefield (chosen by Caesar for his own advantage) Caesar's incredible flexibility would ultimately see him victorious, IMO. Alexander would for the first time discover what defeat felt like, and would not like the experience of being on the receiving end of a pursuit that could teach even the Great Macedonian, an acknowledged master of the pursuit himself, a thing or two about how you go about the business of making sure that once you've knocked you foe down he never, ever gets back up again.
I doubt Alexander would have been that Obtuse, and I think your Bias peeks out a little in that last statement. Your argument that Caesars 'Flexibility' would see him victorious predicates upon the belief that Alexanders forces would remain static, whereas his armies were some of the most Flexible in ability and tactics for the day.

He didn't employ just a Static Phalanx, he had his Phalangites, archers, slingers, Mobile artillery and Cavalry, light and of course his Heavy Companion Cavalry. I seriously doubt it would have been as cut-and-dried as you have put it.

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  #124  
Old 19 Jun 09, 10:11
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*crowes with delight*

I just love it when people try to make debates like this with me It is so much fun to argue back

Quote:
Actually Pompey was forced to use the raw recruits, as his Veterans were scattered and needed to be recalled... and Caesar had hte benefit of his veterans, who had just served 8 years in combat, as opposed to Pompey's many of which had not served for 5-10 years before being recalled.
Indeed, Pompey's veterans were scattered, and in this can be seen Caesar's genius. He understood the concept of concentrating his own forces where the enemy were weak, destroying them piecemeal. Thus in his Italian Campaign, although Caesar's forces numbered only one legion to Pompey's 2 veteran legions and some 30,000 odd freshly levied troops, Caesar was able to get the jump in all of the battles and drive Pompey from the peninsula in less than two months. He then used operations in the Adriatic to act as a shield from the East while he rapidly dispatched forces to annihilate isolated Pompeian forces in Sicily, Sardinia, Africa, and Massalia while he himself went to Spain to force the surrender of the 7 Optimate Legions there without a single battle; one of the most impressive strategic feats in history. The opening four months of the Civil War alone vindicate him as the greatest strategist the Ancient World has to show. When his achievements in Gaul and the rest of the Civil War are factored his stature is raised ll the more. At the same time he was as good at tactics as he was at strategy, and this was just as well, because when he faced Pompey in Greece Pompey still had a number of veteran legions of his own collected from throughout the East, and massively superior cavalry and infantry forces.

Pompey's 7 veteran legions in Spain were fresh from some 5 years of maintaining order in the Spanish provinces - no small feat. All accounts agree that in the campaign they showed themselves as worthy opponents of Caesar's Gallic Veterans.

I'd also note that come Caesar's African Campaign the majority of his forces were made up of new recruits.

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The actions of Vercingetorix at Alesia were not those of a military genius. had he been smarter he wouldn't have gotten himself trapped. Even after doing so he still had a numerical advantage with his relief forces which they used badly, stupidly in fact considering their past experiences of Roman and especially Caesar's abilities and tactics... Pompey was not creative enough and followed 'the book' too much, again a huge failing given his familiarity with his opponent.
I must disagree with you friend. I will expand more in this below, but Vercingetorix showed himself consistently to be an able strategist and tactician, and a truly monumental leader that even Caesar grudgingly admitted respect for. He was "trapped" in Alesia not because he sat there and waited for Caesar to come and get him; he was chased there after being brutally outmaneuvered and beaten by Caesar in a battle not far from the fortress. Vercingetorix's decision to fight Caesar in said battle had been strategically sound, and his tactics had been good, but unfortunately for him Caesar's had been better. Nevertheless we must disagree on another point: Vercingetorix's conduct, and that of the Gauls commanding the relief army, was not stupid at all, but rather as good as they could have done, and it showed in that it almost worked. Both Vercingetorix and the relief army showed skill in attacking Caesar's formidable defenses; first in a well-conducted night-attack, then in the great battle of the siege: while Vercingetorix skillfully deployed his forces in keeping the Romans busy on the inner lines mot of the relief army caused distractions all along the outer lines, while 60,000 specially picked out warriors from the relief army launched the true assault upon what they had identified as the one weak spot in the walls. In the end it was only Caesar's brilliant commandership in directing his forces to beat back the diversion assaults before launching a pincer-attack on the chosen warriors that is among the foremost of his tactical feats that carried the day and forced the relief army to be dispersed, while Vercingetorix on the inside had to surrender.

Pompey too I will deal with below, though I will say that to accuse him of merely "following the book" and not adjusting to suit his opponent is to grossly undervalue him.

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Caesar only won Rome. Alexander not only Held control of Greece but managed to conquer Persia, Egypt, and much of northern India...
I'm afraid here we must again disagree friend. As well as conquering Gaul, itself a feat to rival all of Alexander's, Caesar forced the Germans to submit, and won strategic results in his campaign against the Britons (see below). He expanded Roman territory in spain against the Spanish barbarians who had notably defeated all previous Roman governors who set out against the. He took control of Africa in a campaign greater even than that of Scipio Africanus and doubled the size of Rome's African territories. He conquered Egypt brilliantly, and gave it over to his lover (according to some sources wife) Cleopatra. He crushed King Pharnaces of Pontus so decisively and so quickly that he boasted of his victory: "I Came, I Saw, I Conquered", and resettled the East. And above and beyond even the above mighty exploits he had to conquer what did in effect amount to the entire Roman empire, not just "Rome". In the Civil War not a single province did not at some point have fighting conducted in it. Thus we add Italy, Spain (which he was forced to conquer twice), and Greece to the list. The range of Caesar's campaigns, which not only covered the entire Mediterranean but also extended well into Europe, are unique in the Ancient World, as is that they included wars between too sides of similar equipment that both undertook excellent maneuvering, and yet one side defeated the other tremendously at small cost to itself.

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Actually that is grossly incorrect. Alexanders battles were recorded by eyewitnesses other than him. which is why we still have accounts of his exploits...
Alexander's feats were indeed recorded by eyewitnesses and peers, as were Caesar's. Although his famous Commentaries were certainly the most well-written, there were plenty of other accounts for those who wanted them. Several of Caesar's lieutenants published Contemporary Histories that included detailed accounts of the campaigns they fought in under Caesar, of which the most famous (and the one whose loss we are most to regret) was written by Asinius Pollio. There were plenty of records besides from many of the period, and from these did later historians such as Appian, Cassius Dio, Suetonius, and Plutarch, all of whom commented on Caesar's activities, draw on. Rare indeed is it that we'll get all our information on a period from one source.

Alexander himself certainly left an account behind. He probably didn't write it himself (he wasn't exactly the intellectual type), likely getting a toady to write it for him, in a suitable manner (ie every bit as suspect, in fact far more so, than anything Caesar ever wrote), as did generals such as Pompey Magnus and Gaius Marius. This record could be found for some time in the Great Library of Alexandria, and as said in my previous post sadly seems to have been among the countless precious items lost in the library's destruction

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Well it's called propaganda for a reason. According to Caesar he conquered Britain... which we know is patently false. He botched the job twice,a nd it would be a Century until the Romans actually took the Island ( Claudius)
Alas my friend, that we should disagree on so much!

Neither of Caesar's two expeditions were botched; on the contrary, they fulfilled their strategic goals. Caesar never attempted to annex Britain for Rome, any more than he tried to annex Germany, although he led two expeditions invading that country as well. He was too much of a realist not to appreciate that neither place was worth the effort and risk involved with subduing them completely and annexing them as provinces. The first expedition was, pure and simple, a reconnaissance mission that was successful in the goals of such a mission: identify a good place for a landing next year, start softening up the natives, etc. Normally such a mission would have been entrusted to a subordinate; that a commander in chief would command it being unthinkable from a military point of view, but viewed through political eyes it was essential that Caesar himself be the one who first set foot on Britain (after his soldiers had driven the enemy off the beach). There no other explanation for what occurred in this operation. Caesar knew that the campaigning season was too far advanced for anything else, and so he kept it to simply generating a lot of hype by landing on the fabled island and then leaving again, as he had always planned too. That there were some hiccups in the proceedings only served cause for him to demonstrate his genius; as noted previously the first British Landing is notable militarily for Caesar's astonishing Amphibious Landing. The second landing in Britain did not involve a similar great feat of tactics, although he certainly conducted a brilliant campaign strategically in forcing Cassivellanus's confederation to break up and submit. The second Landing was not intended to result in the conquest of the island any more than the first was. It was Caesar being a showman, pure and simple; staging a spectacular performance for his admirers back in Rome, and in this he succeeded brilliantly. However, being Caesar, while working up this political capital he did get some strategic benefits out of it by ensuring that a number of well-positioned tribes in Britain were indebted to him, and then granting said tribes a monopoly on trade with Gaul, which could only have been of benefit to Caesar.

All in all, I rate the campaigns in Gaul as a tremendous success for Caesar in that he accomplished what were undoubtedly his objectives. He never conquered the island, but then, he never intended to, and rightly so.

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Caesar pi**ed around Gaul abusing his Governorship. (these actions bringing the Wrath of the Senate down on him) and his writings were the Fodder keeping the Plebs happy. Even at that stage Julius knew where the power lay, and the plebs love victory, which is what he gave them...even when he wasn't winning.

See my above note...Well they did pounce on it! as he was charged with Theft, Murder and the abuse of his position as co-consul of Rome and Governor of Gaul.
Caesar's enemies did indeed intend to bring him to trial for his technically illegal actions during his Consulship. Personally I don't hold Caesar's Consulship against; on the contrary, I view it as a remarkable feat of Statesmanship.

Nobody in Rome, not even his worst enemies, were ever going to include charges against him for abusing his position as Governor though. Scholarship can, I think, safely put a lot of the charges against Caesar down to rumors whipped up by his political enemies unsubstantiated by evidence; quite the contrary in fact. Even later biographers who plainly despised Caesar expressed the deepest admiration for his conduct as governor. And if any of Caesar's enemies had wanted to pick bones with what Caesar did in Gaul, they would have had a hard time arguing against the numerous Public Thanksgivings that had been voted for Caesar. His activities in Gaul bore the stamp of State Approval, and it was through his genius that this had come about. His enemies did not need to worry about this of course, as they had his Consulship to fall back on. But since I admire Caesar's actions as Consul, case closed for me

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A perfect example of Alexanders Strength as a commander over Caesar, Alexander didn't have treachery within his ranks, and his men fought for him due to loyalty and Love. As previously stated he won Alesia simply because the Gauls fought it stupidly.
And now it is my turn to pick at what you say. Alexander had to deal with numerous cases of treachery from his officer class (which was where Caesar's only notable, defections occurred from). The difference between the two was their response to this. At the first sign of treachery, or even imagined treachery, Alexander instantly and brutally acted to cut the traitors down, sometimes personally. Caesar took a different approach. When Titus Labienus, his honored lieutenant in the Gallic Wars defected to the Optimates in the Civil War, Caesar sent him his personal belongings along with a message that he was welcome to come back anytime he wanted, and when Labienus finally died in battle at the end of the war Caesar had him buried with full honors. Throughout his career Caesar displayed an astonishing clemency and willingness to come to terms with his enemies. Ultimately it could be regarded as the cause of his downfall. But I also regard it as a sign of his greatness, and his superiority in this regard at least to Alexander.

Caesar inspired in his soldiers a loyalty and love that easily matches that of Alexander's men. And unlike Alexander, Caesar showed (or, his critics argue, pretended to show), that the feelings were mutual. Not for Caesar getting 3/4 of his army killed crossing a desert to satisfy nobody and nothing but his own ego!

Caesar won at Alesia in spite of the fact that the Gauls fought brilliantly because he fought even more briliantly. I regard Alesia as his greatest battle, and the greatest battle in history.

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Granted he had a variety of terrain to deal with, but much of his decisive land action benefited from somehting Alexander never had a chance to experience... the Roman Road... That being said Caesar's Naval commanders did a fantastic job of defeating the Ptolomeian navy.

Again the Roman Roads make this Feat far less than impressive, and given the numerical Difference between Alexanders forces and Caesar's renders this argument moot. There is no comparison
I'm sorry friend, but here I feel I must correct you. Caesar showed his greatest marching ability in his ability to march off the road, against armies that were on the road. He repeatedly caught his enemies off-guard by disappearing off the roads and marching through difficult terrain to appear in places where he had no right at all to be appearing. He did this in Gaul, Spain, Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Africa, in fact pretty much everywhere he went except Italy. Caesar was facing enemies who often used the roads while he himself did not, and yet he still covered ground more quickly. And when he used the road he travelled more quickly on the road than anybody had any right at all to travel at all. The greatest example of all: his astonishing march of 1500 miles from Rome to Spain in 27 days, says it all. He was facing in this war men who had faced him several times before, and who had fought alongside him before that. These men knew him, and had counted on him arriving with speed, and adjusted their strategy for such. But even so they were caught flat-footed when he arrived literally months before he should have. Alexander was an incredible marcher, but he cannot compete with Caesar as a marcher. There is a reason the term "Caesar-speed" came about.

On the contrary friend, Caesar himself did an excellent job of destroying Egyptian fleets at Alexandria, as he did a superb job at destroying Pompeian fleets off the coast of Africa, and running Bibulus's blockade in Greece, and preparing his fleet to face the Veneti in Gaul, and conducting his afore mentioned Amphibious Landing in Britain, and using naval strategy throughout the Civil War. I think ti would be quite accurate to say that Caesar was as good on water as he was on land. Alexander was never tested in this area to the same extent.

I do not mean to belittle Alexander's achievements in the slightest. I admire them in many ways. But Caesar faced just as difficult and varied circumstances, and overcame them, in ways that surpassed Alexander for brilliance.

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He had no choice but to fight his campaigns ( I presume you mean after crossing the Rubicon) to ensure: 1. he kept his Head on his shoulders, 2. his rights, land ,titles and money were not confiscated by the Senate. He had been declared an enemy of the Republic, left with no choice at all considering his Long term Goals.
Sorry, friend, you have misquoted me. The campaigns I was referring to here were his Landings in Britain. As I said, from a military point of view Caesar should not have risked them. But from a political point of view they were a masterstroke.

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Hmmm, Roman habits were to take an place and stay, investing it with Roman Forces and slowly Romainizing it... which didn't take place here. HE had to retreat from his First landing after many of his Ships were wrecked in a Channel storm. The second Landing fared no better other than being able to take hostages, but the Roman Army would not step foot onto this island again for a century. FYI the British tribes had been trading with Gaul and the Mediterranean nations for quite some time before Caesar ever got there.
See above. Caesar understood that sometimes a total victory is not the best strategic course to pursue. He did not attempt to annex Britain for the same reason that he didn't annex Germany, left parts of Numidia intact as a Client State, installed his lover on the throne of Egypt rather than annexing that country: he understood what the best strategic course was. He was an Empire-builder, building an empire to last through the ages. Later, other Emperors could build on the foundations that he laid - whereas it did not make strategic sense for Caesar to conquer Britain, it did for Claudius.

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If by 'living off the Land' you mean appropriating the good of those they came across then I agree with that statement.
Yep, Caesar's armies supplied themselves by stripping everything they need off their surroundings. It is a prime example of the maxim: "The War must feed the War". It's harsh, and can go wrong, but in the hands of a brilliant operator like Caesar, it allows for vastly greater mobility.

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The Perisans tried to exploit the gap, but between Parmenion and Alexanders reactions this came to naught. Caesar was a great (make that exceptional) opportunist for sure, but Alexander was Exceptional at wresting opportunities from his opponents. turning his own mistakes into advantages in the process. Incidentally Gaugemela was a perfect example of the strength, not only of Alexander's strategy, but of his forces, in part and in Whole. Having lost the bulk of his left Wing he still managed to win.
If by "trying to exploit the gap", you mean "rushing through to the Macedonian camp", then yes, the Persians did try to "exploit the gap". But in my reading of Caesar I have come to form an opinion of him as a commander who would have done a far, far better job at exploiting such an opening. He himself would not have left such a gap, I would state. Caesar's military genius includes the astonishing carefulness of his preliminary organization - unlike many another commander in unfamiliar territory he never walked into a "Claudian Fork", and he did everything possible to make sure that nothing was ever left to chance. He often appeared to his contemporaries as rash, or a calculating gambler. but these contemporaries did not appreciate the extraordinary preparation that went into his boldest moves. His career is thus an astonishing variety of boldness mixed with caution. In the two other Great Captains of the Ancient World; Alexander and Hannibal, Alexander embodied boldness, while Hannibal embodied caution. Caesar exemplified both.

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I find no Brilliance in the opponents faced by Caesar. Pompey in his Prime had been brilliant, but by the time Caesar had crossed the Rubicon Pompey had been away from Command for too long. He had seriously misjudged his opponent, and showed noner of the innovation or flair he had in his youth

I find it interesting that you say Alexanders opponents were not of the same quality as Caesars... considering they were in the same situation. The warriors of their day. Neither Alexanders nor Caesars opponents were their equal, so this does not show Julius to be the better general.
And now we come to another disagreement, our penultimate one. For in reading extensively of both Caesar and Alexander's campaigns I have come to the conclusion that Caesar faced by far the greater opposing generals.

Vercingetorix cannot be considered anything other than a military leader of genius. He mobilized the Gauls to become a greater threat to Caesar than ever before, and they had been a serious enough danger before. Under Vercingetorx the Gauls learned to drill after the Roman fashion. For the first time they began to build fortified camps, and made use of the engineering they had learned from the Romans to build siege weapons, field fortifications, etc. And Vercingetorix was plainly an inspired leader of the type Alexander never had to face. This alone would qualify him as a military genus, but Vercingetorx also succeeded in unifying Gaul in a military alliance for the first time in history. It speaks volumes of his achievement that at the end when he sent out the call, only one single tribe in all of Gaul refused to honor his requests completely. He also plainly had a flair for strategy; devising the scorched-earth strategy the Gauls employed to great effect, and demonstrating an eye for ground and an appreciation for operational military strategy. It's hard to gauge him as a tactician (his entire strategy revolved around not fighting battles), but if not a tactical genius he was certainly more than competent in this respect; and he showed it at Avaricum, Gergovia, and Alesia. Vercingetorix was a foe of stature that Alexnder never had to face.

It seems to be generally agreed that Pompey Magnus was a brilliant general; a consummate strategist and great tactician. You however, assert that he was "over-the-hill" when he came to face Caesar. I disagree vehemently. Throughout the Civil War, while Pompey was still alive he showed himself to be arguably the most skilled of Caesar's foes. His organizational skills were as brilliant as ever. In the Dyrrachium campaign he allowed himself to be outfoxed and boxed in by Caesar, but when fate handed him a golden opportunity in the form of two disgruntled auxillary cavalry officers who had been caught stealing and been reproached by Caesar, he seized it with both hands. At Brunidisium he showed as marked a flair for tactics as ever in his career. At Pharsalus his battle-plan was brilliant, innovative, and sure to succeed, and would have done so had he been facing any but Caesar. Pompey too was a foe of calibre that Alexander never had to face.

Caesar's other greatest opponent was his own former lieutenant Titus Labienus. Anyone reading of his career can clearly see that he was a military genius in his own right; adept at both strategy and tactics. He wasn't much of a leader or a personality, it is plain, but such was his skill that people obviously put up with that.

These three were Caesar's greatest opponents; men of genius worthy of facing him. But that should not detract from the fact that his other many opponents were no slouches. The German King Ariovistus plainly showed himself to be a masterful strategist in his own way, and the Bristh King Cassivellanus demonstrated a mastery of Guerilla Warfare that Caesar nevertheless overcame. Alexander too faced Guerilla Warfare as a challenge, but not directed by a master like Cassivellanus. After Vercingetorix, Ambiorix the Gaul would rate as Caesar's greatest opponent in Gaul. Plainly a crafty individual who annihilated 1 and a half Roman Legions in a clever ambush, he was also the first Gaul to employ Roman engineering on a large scale, demonstrating the Gauls capacity to learn from their enemies (which along with their incredible courage is why I rate them as superior foes to Alexander's Persians). Ganymedes, Caesar's chief foe in Egypt, showed himself to be boundlessly resourceful. And foes like the sons of Pompey and his lieutenants in Spain were plainly skillful commanders. The one foe of Caesar's that I'd hold to be incompetent would be King Pharnaces of Pontus, who paid for his rashness at the battle of Zela.

Alexander, by any reasonable measure, never had to face the kind of opposing leadership that Caesar did.

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I doubt Alexander would have been that Obtuse, and I think your Bias peeks out a little in that last statement. Your argument that Caesars 'Flexibility' would see him victorious predicates upon the belief that Alexanders forces would remain static, whereas his armies were some of the most Flexible in ability and tactics for the day.

He didn't employ just a Static Phalanx, he had his Phalangites, archers, slingers, Mobile artillery and Cavalry, light and of course his Heavy Companion Cavalry. I seriously doubt it would have been as cut-and-dried as you have put it.

All things being Equal ( and there's the sticking point) Alexander's seige abilities were exceptional considering he had to Invent his seige methods, whereas Caesar had the benefit of several centuries of development. had Alexander had those same advances at hand I think the victor would have been in doubt.

Cheers
Friend, you have once again misread me.

When I refer to Caesar's "flexibility", I refer to the fact that he was far more flexible than Alexander in his various battle plans in the sense that they varied far more. In examining Alexander's battles one can see him following a very similar pattern in all of his battles against the Persians: an oblique advance to the right, then exploiting the gap that inevitably opened in the Persian lines with his cavalry. Obviously the details varied enormously, and I am not denying that Alexander was a tactical genius (to do otherwise would be foolish), but none the less Caesar comes out as by far the more flexible. He seems to have adhered to Sun Tzu's maxim:

"Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances."

Hence his incredible variety in both grand and operation tactics; going from his crushing the Helvetti against a river at Arrar, to his two-pronged charge at Bibracte to keep the enemy forces separated, to his "hinge" strategy at Vosges, his flank fortifications used against the Menapii, his expert defense against the united Belgae army, his defensive square at the Sambre River, his brilliant Amphibious Landing in Britian, his concealment of his forces at Charleroy, his complex diversion operation at Gergovia, his combined-arms attacks and pincer-attack at Alesia, his use of field fortifications to surround an enemy army at Ilerda, his use of mobile fortifications constructed to conceal a retreat at Dyrrachium, hi brilliant operation at Pharsalus, his rear assault at the Battle of the Nile, his break-through tactics at Ruspina, his double-flanking attack at Thapsus, and his clever deceptions with his cavalry in his last Spainish campaign.

Thus do you have my explanation for why I consider Caesar to be superior to Alexander in flexibility as a tactician, and it is this flexibility, combined with his superior strategy, that I maintain carries the day for him in our hypothetical battle.

In comparing Alexander's greatest siege - Tyre, to Caesar's - Alesia, it is apparent that Caesar displayed a willingness to boldly adopt and experiment with new methods that was every bit the match of Alexander's best siege of tyre. Caesar was superior even to Alexander in sheer boldness in his greatest battle/siege, and when one factors in the great battle that finished the siege Alesia stands the clear winner of the two as the greatest siege in all of antiquity. Outnumbered by the army he was besieging, and massively outnumbered by the army that was besieging him in turn, Caesar defeated, indeed crushed, both; the greatest, most astonishing victory of his career.

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Old 19 Jun 09, 10:15
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Another point I see as being in Caesar's favor is how throughout his career he continually grew in skill. Every new campaign he fought, each new battle, was in a way more brilliant than the last. His first campaign already demonstrated genius of the highest order. At the end of his career his abilities in strategy, tactics, logistics, and leadership were all more marked than ever. Something that is always good to look for, I find.
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Old 19 Jun 09, 19:08
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Originally Posted by Divus Julius View Post
Another point I see as being in Caesar's favor is how throughout his career he continually grew in skill. Every new campaign he fought, each new battle, was in a way more brilliant than the last. His first campaign already demonstrated genius of the highest order. At the end of his career his abilities in strategy, tactics, logistics, and leadership were all more marked than ever. Something that is always good to look for, I find.
Before I reply properly a few things I want to say . I love your enthusiasm . Love the fact that your first posts were better than mine .

Just a couple of points though .

Exaggeration. Please don't do it. 60 miles per day for a month. With kit. Many of us here have had to run around in real armies and we know what this means.

Caesars Gallic campaign equal to that of Alexanders entire military career ? You may be one of the few people in the world who truly believes that.

Please take off the blinkers .

However, you have obviously put a great deal of thought into your post and that is to be commended .

I just can't see Alexander losing to the King of Hertfordshire though. Twice. Hertfordshire is tiny.

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Old 19 Jun 09, 20:33
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Before I reply properly a few things I want to say . I love your enthusiasm . Love the fact that your first posts were better than mine .
Thank you very much

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Exaggeration. Please don't do it. 60 miles per day for a month. With kit. Many of us here have had to run around in real armies and we know what this means.
My friend, I can assure you that I do not exagerate. If I do, kindly shoot me in the head.

In the year 45 BCE Caesar was aware that the commanders he had dispatched to Hispania Ulterior to quell the Optimate rebellion there by Gnaeus and Sextus Pompeius, the sons of Pompey Magnus, and Titus Labienus, his erstwhile lieutenant, were failing miserably at doing their job. The rebel army had grown to some 13 Legions and 6000 Cavalry and they had gained control of most of the Province while Caesar's lieutenants were doing little more than trying to hold their positions and bombarding Caesar with messages begging him to come and bail them out. Caesar came to the conclusion that his personal intervention was required. He got together two of his veteran legions that had been with him since Gaul - Legio X and Legion V Alaude - and set out to make the trip to the troubled area of Spain. His intention was to arrive there so quickly that he would take everyone from his own lieutenants to the enemy by surprise.

Caesar marched his two legions the 1500 miles from Rome to their final destination in Spain in 27 days. If you do the math that clocks in at some 56 miles every day. Upon completeing this epic march he immediatly procceeded to demonstrate his unique intellectual vigour by composing a poem entitled Iter - "The Journey". His enemies were indeed surprised, and the momentum of the campaign soon swung in favor of the Caesarians. After several months of maneuvering and defeating the Pompeians in a number of engagements Caesar finally cornered them at the battle of Munda. Caesar lost a thousand men. The enemy lost 30,000. The campaign ended not long afterwards.

Such was Caesar's most brilliant march, but he had a number of others that were stunners, pure and simple. In Gaul he regularly lead his men on 50-mile-a-day marches. He kept it up in the Civil War.

Caesar's speed is often agreed upon as the most incredible aspect of his military genius. Many of his campaigns were decided by his ability to disappear off the beaten track and reappear in places where he had no business at all to be.

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Caesars Gallic campaign equal to that of Alexanders entire military career ? You may be one of the few people in the world who truly believes that.
In terms of demonstration of military ability, Caesar's conquest of Gaul decidedly outstrips Alexander's military career, for me and many others. In his conquest of Gaul he fought more battles and conducted more sieges than Alexander, demonstrated equal, some, including me, say better tactical ability, and markedly superior strategic ability. Alexander had the greater area in terms of size to cover, but Caesar's task was complicated signifigantly by the political difficulties of the land he wanted to subdue. In his unifying and stabilizing Gaul as a province that would not seriously rise again for some 400 years, to the point where he could withdraw most of his forces to fight a chaotic Civil War and leave behind not just a conquered land, but a party strongly devoted to his interests, he demonstrated a statesmanship beyond anything Alexander did.

Caesar's challenge in Gaul was every bit the equal of that which Alexander faced in his own campaigns against the Persian Empire and in India. And he overcame it in a way that is a perfect answer to Alexander's own career. When one considers that Caesar's Civil War followed, his stature grows all the more to tower over Alexander.

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Please take off the blinkers .
Blinkers?

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However, you have obviously put a great deal of thought into your post and that is to be commended .
Again, thank you

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I just can't see Alexander losing to the King of Hertfordshire though. Twice. Hertfordshire is tiny.
Indeed. It is good for our argument that both of Caesar's British Campaigns were successes that saw the kings of Britian submit to him, offering hostages and tribute.
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Old 20 Jun 09, 19:29
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Divus

Apologies for not yet replying fully to you yet. Will try to do so as soon as I can . I will do so even though I believe you are a fanatical Caesar supporter and are blinkered in your views . It would not surprise me that you think you've won your arguments because other debaters have decided not to continue to bang their head against a brick wall. Lets take the arrival of the two legions in Spain for instance. Just because Caesar arrives in 27 days (no mean feat), it does not mean the whole army does. Appian states Caesar arrived in 27 days. Cassio makes it clear that only a few of the legions number made it within 27 days, most still travelling on the road.

Also Kings of Britain paying tribute ? We are usually talking about really small tribes compared to the size of the Roman force in many cases, but I will probably start with Britain to prove while Caesar was good he was not brilliant. However, it is as a politician Caesar truly excells (for a while) and this is where he British expedition really succeeds, but not as a military campaign .
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Old 20 Jun 09, 23:26
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Am I a "fanatical Caesar supporter? Perhaps you are right, but personally I do not believe that I am encumbered with any "blinkers". It is because of accurate assessment of Caesar and his abilities that I have such boundless admiration for the man, not the other way round.

The statement that people give up on arguing with me as pointless could be seen as accurate, and applicable to pretty much anything I argue for, not just this. Although "Caesar vs Alexander" is my favorite historical debate, my overriding principle in any debate is very simple and can be summed up rather well by something Winston Churchill once said: "NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP!" I find it works rather well.

That said, I am always ready to submit to a reasonable argument that I cannot contend with. I simply have yet to encounter such a thing.

Incidentally, many of the "other debators", at least on the subject of "Caesar vs Alexander" are passionate philalexandrotati. They simply decide in the end that they cannot continue to offer responses to me.

On the subject of Caesar's march, Appian states that he took 27 days to get to Spain "though he marched with a heavily laden army". Cassius Dio states that at some point Caesar left behind the main body of the army to come ahead with a few others, presumably a cavalry escort. I take this to match some reports that say Caesar reached Spain just 24 days after leaving Rome. We certainly know that on the 17th day of the journey both Caesar and the army reached the same town. My interpretation of it is that all reports are accurate: the army reached Spain in 27 days, while Caesar marched with them for much of the way, but at some point he left the main body of troops to come in even before they did. This would be in keeping with other instances of incredible speed withwhich he himself moved - though his being able to move an army 56 miles a day for a long period of time is impressive enough, the speed he moved when he didn't have to worry about companions on the ground is even more so. By himself or with small groups of companions he sometimes kept up a cracking pace of 90-100 miles a day for weeks, riding on horseback or in a carriage. Not for nothing did Cicero comment: "The energy and wariness of that Bogeyman are terrifying!" Thus Caesar himself arrives to greet his men in Spain after just 24 days since leaving Rome.

The Tribes of Britain in Caesar's day were ruled by Kings, as were most of the tribes in Northern Gaul and Germany, although said kings often ruled at the head of large groups of "counsellors", and were heavily depndant for their authority upon the druids. In any case, after Caesar's victory in the short but vicious war that broke out between him and the alliance of British tribes headed up by Cassivellanus, it was these kings who were tasked with providing Caesar with both hostages and tribute (among the latter, reportedly, a number of pearls that Caesar weighed in his hand upon recieving). Thus my statement that the kings of Britian were forced to pay tribuet to Caesar would be accurate.

As I have said several times thus far, Caesar's expeditions to Britian were not so much of military signifigance (he seems to have come to the conclusion soon after arriving that the island was not worth the effort it would take to conquer), but a political stunt that succeeded brilliantly. The Landings are notable in an assessment of Caesar's military ability of course, in that his Amphibious Landing in the first expedition was one of his finest battles.

Looking forward greatly to reading your extended response, and looking forward even more to replying to it
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Old 21 Jun 09, 01:04
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Don't get me wrong. I voted for Caesar many pages back. BUT if your satocompulsive darling was such a brilliant strategist, then why did he go to the Senate on the morning of the Ides of March?

What is a Caesar supporter, anyway? A Julian jockstrap?
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Old 21 Jun 09, 01:42
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Why did Caesar go to the Senate House on the Ides of March? Presumably to attend a meeting where he intended to finalize the details about how he wanted the city and empire run during his absense, as it was only three days before he was supposed to leave to join an army of some 16 legions and 10,000 cavalry in an expedition to conquer Dacia and Parthia, restore order to Judea, campaign through the Caucuses against the Scythians, and annex Germania, before finally coming back down through Gaul to finish this great loop of conquest back in Rome.

Caesar seems to have been aware that there was a conspiracy against him. His response to it was the same as to previous plots to kill him that he had been made aware of: he simply announced that he knew about it and let the matter hang. He even dismissed his bodyguards. Some attribute this to recklessness, others to a genuine lack of vindictiveness. Personally I see it as merely one of many extensions of his joint policies of clemency and reconciliation, all part of his over-arching aim to unite Rome's leadership to an extent. By and large he was successful. It is notable that out of almost 1000 Senators there were only 60 in the conspiracy to assasinate Caesar. In any case, although Caesar died prematurely, I take the view that ultimately he was the victor: the events that followed his death followed the political lines that had been laid down by him, and therein lies his triumph.

I suppose that a Caesar supporter is called a Caesarian. That's what they were called back in his day, at any rate, and there's no reason we can't still use it today.
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Old 21 Jun 09, 04:56
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The amount of times I've read Caesar made an astonishing 27 day march on the net is ..er.. astonishing, and the fact that this belief keeps getting repeated may makes it become one of those net myths. I'll give another example of a net myth that almost became fact. 4 Comet tanks in 1945 were said to have been destroyed by 2 Panthers with infra red detection devices. Turns out to be patently untrue as all destroyed comets (27 iirc) were accounted for by other means. The astonishing 27 day march will keep getting repeated as well until properly debunked.

These are the two quotes about the march from Roman authors verbatim.

Appian
Caesar made the journey from Rome in twenty-seven days, though he was moving, with a heavily-laden army, by a very long route, but fear fell upon his soldiers as never before, in consequence of the reports received of the numbers, the discipline, and the desperate valour of the enemy. For this reason Caesar himself also was slow in movement, until Pompeius approached him at a certain place where he was reconnoitring and accused him of cowardice. Caesar could not endure this reproach.

If this had been the only account, I would have had a hard time swallowing the tale, but would have accepted it as no other source.

Cassio
Meanwhile Caesar, too, with a few men suddenly came up unexpectedly, not only to Pompey's followers, but even to his own soldiers. For he had employed such speed in crossing over that he appeared to both his adherents and his opponents before they had even heard that he was in Spain at all. He hoped by this very circumstance and by his mere presence to alarm Pompey and in particular to lure him from the siege; for most of his army had been left behind on the road. But Pompey, thinking that one man was not much superior to another and feeling full confidence in his own strength, was not seriously alarmed at the other's arrival, but continued to besiege the city and kept making assaults upon it just as before. Hence Caesar left there a few troops from among those who had arrived first and set out himself for Corduba, partly, to be sure, in the hope of taking it by betrayal, but chiefly in the expectation of drawing Pompey away from Ulia through fear for this place.

This makes total sense, (emphasis is mine) especially when you consider many of Caesars troops were conscripts.

Cassivellaunus was the man given charge of the defence of Britain when Caesar came to invade. Caesar invaded for political reasons, as much as anything else, and Caesar was the best self-publicist of antiquity that I know of. Plutarch considered the invasion extraordinarily daring, although Caesar himself down played the event as the Britons were so wretched that they had not been worth the trouble? Not only was this patently untrue, as shown by the important trade from Britain (especially tin and grain which were to become vital after the sucessful invasion a century later), it was also because he was beaten.

The first invasion was apparantly a reconnaissance in force (according to GJC) with 2 legions plus extra cavalry. Leaving Boulogne (probably) they finally managed to land at Deal (probably). The Roman troops were apparantly terrified of the natives and if it hadn't been for the standard bearer of the Tenth legion jumping into the sea, and prepared to fight the natives alone, the force may have never disembarked.

(As a side note, the march on Spain and the landing in Britain shows his impetuous behaviour, arriving on site without using any proper intelligence beforehand, and getting away with it. This means he was lucky, not insightful).

Once ashore, Caesar's initially states the fighting went well, but apparant lack of casaulties on the locals suggests the Brits use of cavalry and chariotary to skirmish with the enemy harrassed and out manouvered the slower enemy. For example while VII legion was out foraging for food, they were mauled by savages waiting for them in a nearby wood. Having lacked the strategic nonce to bring adequate forces and resources to achieve anything in military and economic terms, he left as soon as the weather was good.

Next year GJC tried again with more troops. He says the Britons ran from his army. They are more likely to have decided to repeat what worked the previous year imo. Example: Caesar states British cavalry/chariotary constantly harassed his troops, engaging only the cavalry. Using woodland to their advantage, the Brits would draw off the cavalry and concentrate on these, continually using fresh troops to wear down the more mobile elements of the Roman forces. GJC was forced to retreat south of the Thames and build a camp there. If he had done so before contact with the enemy I would have applauded his great scheme. It was after, and is therefore a retreat.

The usual British practise of fighting each other almost came to Caesars aid when a few tribes (including the Iceni) began to give GJC much needed intel. However, this information was almost Caesars undoing. While GJC began his assault on Cassivellaunus main camp, the king was actually elsewhere and attacking Romes naval encampment, ie the beginning of his supply chain in Britain. Julius states he defeated this British attempt, and he victoriously left the island (on weather beaten ships) never to return. Victory or 2nd military fiasco, I'll let you decide .
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Old 21 Jun 09, 05:03
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I'm going to write this as a seperate post so as to not lose the flavour of the above. I would like to thank Divus Julius for rekindling my interest in Rome, as I had become a tad jaded with the subject, same as with Alexander really .

I do think Caesar is a great general, but personally imo he is not an Alexander, which I'll hope to show later .
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Old 21 Jun 09, 07:29
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Quote:
I'm going to write this as a seperate post so as to not lose the flavour of the above. I would like to thank Divus Julius for rekindling my interest in Rome, as I had become a tad jaded with the subject, same as with Alexander really .

I do think Caesar is a great general, but personally imo he is not an Alexander, which I'll hope to show later .
You are very welcome

It is the opposite for me. I believe Alexander to have been a brilliant tactician and extremely capable strategist, but he was no Caesar, no Subutai, no Napoleon (the three generals I believe to have been the greatest in history).

Now, on to the fun part, addressing your post!
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Old 21 Jun 09, 10:03
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Quote:
The amount of times I've read Caesar made an astonishing 27 day march on the net is ..er.. astonishing, and the fact that this belief keeps getting repeated may makes it become one of those net myths. I'll give another example of a net myth that almost became fact. 4 Comet tanks in 1945 were said to have been destroyed by 2 Panthers with infra red detection devices. Turns out to be patently untrue as all destroyed comets (27 iirc) were accounted for by other means. The astonishing 27 day march will keep getting repeated as well until properly debunked.

These are the two quotes about the march from Roman authors verbatim.

Appian
Caesar made the journey from Rome in twenty-seven days, though he was moving, with a heavily-laden army, by a very long route, but fear fell upon his soldiers as never before, in consequence of the reports received of the numbers, the discipline, and the desperate valour of the enemy. For this reason Caesar himself also was slow in movement, until Pompeius approached him at a certain place where he was reconnoitring and accused him of cowardice. Caesar could not endure this reproach.

If this had been the only account, I would have had a hard time swallowing the tale, but would have accepted it as no other source.

Cassio
Meanwhile Caesar, too, with a few men suddenly came up unexpectedly, not only to Pompey's followers, but even to his own soldiers. For he had employed such speed in crossing over that he appeared to both his adherents and his opponents before they had even heard that he was in Spain at all. He hoped by this very circumstance and by his mere presence to alarm Pompey and in particular to lure him from the siege; for most of his army had been left behind on the road. But Pompey, thinking that one man was not much superior to another and feeling full confidence in his own strength, was not seriously alarmed at the other's arrival, but continued to besiege the city and kept making assaults upon it just as before. Hence Caesar left there a few troops from among those who had arrived first and set out himself for Corduba, partly, to be sure, in the hope of taking it by betrayal, but chiefly in the expectation of drawing Pompey away from Ulia through fear for this place.

This makes total sense, (emphasis is mine) especially when you consider many of Caesars troops were conscripts.
Pretty good, but Appian and Cassius Dio are not the only writers to mention Caesar's march to Spain. Strabo also records that Caesar went from Rome to his camp in Obulco in 27 days, although the actual quote is little more than that, citing unnamed "historians" as having recorded so. Dodge asserts that Eutropius also records Caesar as having made the journey in 27 days, although this does not appear in Book VI of said historian's surviving works, where the history of Caesar's lifetime is recorded. Possibly this is a misquotation, or perhaps there is a reference to it in another part of the writings. Still it's worth mentioning, as Dodge is normally dead on with his sources. Other sources provide additional information: recording that he had reached the city of Saguntum by the 17th day of his trip with the army, indicating that he was with them at least up to this point, and others indicate that Caesar arrived in Spain in 24 days.

Personally I think that the interpretation that makes the most sense is the one postulated: Caesar set out with the army from Rome, and was with it for most of the way, however at some point, as is indicated by Dio, he left the main body of soldiers behind and came ahead with a small escort. Thus he himself arrives in 24 days while the army manages to catch up and arrives on the 27th day since setting out from Rome.

This makes sense especially when read in conjuction with The Spanish War, which owing to the roughness of the latin can be extremely hard to decipher, but still clears up a lot of issues. The Cassius Dio makes reference only to "a few troops" the actual numbers amount to 6 cohorts (around 3000 men on paper) sent to reinforce Ulia alone, and a far larger force than that lead by Caesar to Corduba to attempt to draw Gnaeus Pompeius away from the former.

If it's any consolation, Caesar's "incredible 27 day march" is no "net myth". If a myth, which I do not a believe it is, it is one that has been flinging itself about in books written by renowned scholars since the 19th century. If Mommsen, Gelzer, and Dodge are buying into a myth, it must be a pretty good myth, and one that has managed to evade busting quite handily, as Kahn, Meier, Freeman, and Canfora also seem to have taken it up. So we on the net can claim we are no more credulous than renowned latin scholars.

Personally, I consider Appian to be far more trustworthy in regards to facts than Cassius Dio, who at times records errors that seem rather astonishing when we compare it to the sources.

Quote:
This makes total sense, (emphasis is mine) especially when you consider many of Caesars troops were conscripts
And here I must point out that the troops that Caesar took on his "incredible march" were not new recruits, nor (if that was not your meaning) were they conscripts. These particular troops were the Legio X and Legio V Alaudae - two legions that, if any, deserve to be called Caesar's elite. They had been with him since Gaul, indeed, the Tenth had been with him even longer - Caesar had founded it back when he was Propraetor in Spain. They were fanatically loyal to Caesar and had proved it often in the past. They had done 50+ mile marches before, and had done plenty besides nothing short of extraordinary. If any legions were going to march 56 miles every day for 27 days, then it would be these legions.

Moving on:

Quote:
Cassivellaunus was the man given charge of the defence of Britain when Caesar came to invade. Caesar invaded for political reasons, as much as anything else, and Caesar was the best self-publicist of antiquity that I know of. Plutarch considered the invasion extraordinarily daring, although Caesar himself down played the event as the Britons were so wretched that they had not been worth the trouble? Not only was this patently untrue, as shown by the important trade from Britain (especially tin and grain which were to become vital after the sucessful invasion a century later), it was also because he was beaten.

The first invasion was apparantly a reconnaissance in force (according to GJC) with 2 legions plus extra cavalry. Leaving Boulogne (probably) they finally managed to land at Deal (probably). The Roman troops were apparantly terrified of the natives and if it hadn't been for the standard bearer of the Tenth legion jumping into the sea, and prepared to fight the natives alone, the force may have never disembarked.

(As a side note, the march on Spain and the landing in Britain shows his impetuous behaviour, arriving on site without using any proper intelligence beforehand, and getting away with it. This means he was lucky, not insightful).

Once ashore, Caesar's initially states the fighting went well, but apparant lack of casaulties on the locals suggests the Brits use of cavalry and chariotary to skirmish with the enemy harrassed and out manouvered the slower enemy. For example while VII legion was out foraging for food, they were mauled by savages waiting for them in a nearby wood. Having lacked the strategic nonce to bring adequate forces and resources to achieve anything in military and economic terms, he left as soon as the weather was good.

Next year GJC tried again with more troops. He says the Britons ran from his army. They are more likely to have decided to repeat what worked the previous year imo. Example: Caesar states British cavalry/chariotary constantly harassed his troops, engaging only the cavalry. Using woodland to their advantage, the Brits would draw off the cavalry and concentrate on these, continually using fresh troops to wear down the more mobile elements of the Roman forces. GJC was forced to retreat south of the Thames and build a camp there. If he had done so before contact with the enemy I would have applauded his great scheme. It was after, and is therefore a retreat.

The usual British practise of fighting each other almost came to Caesars aid when a few tribes (including the Iceni) began to give GJC much needed intel. However, this information was almost Caesars undoing. While GJC began his assault on Cassivellaunus main camp, the king was actually elsewhere and attacking Romes naval encampment, ie the beginning of his supply chain in Britain. Julius states he defeated this British attempt, and he victoriously left the island (on weather beaten ships) never to return. Victory or 2nd military fiasco, I'll let you decide .
*taps fingers on the desk*

I might be repeating a few things I've said before, but here we go.

In terms of achieving ones goals, both of Caesar's landings in Britian were indeed successes. As said before, from a military point of view the campaigns could be described at best as an "unnecessary risk". This is to miss the point. The entire enterprise was little more than a political stunt, albeit a highly elaborate one.

Caesar never had any intention of conquering the Island. It is apparent that he recognized what was in effect the truth: the island was not worth the effort that conquering it would take. You have interpreted that this way:

Quote:
Caesar himself down played the event as the Britons were so wretched that they had not been worth the trouble? Not only was this patently untrue, as shown by the important trade from Britain (especially tin and grain which were to become vital after the sucessful invasion a century later)...
This is not quite it. Britain obviously was not "wretched" in the sense that the Romans would not have wanted the land if it was offered up free of charge. Not at all. The point is that the effort that would be required to subdue it completely was disproportionate to the gains that would be made from doing so. Caesar was in the position where to completely subdue the Britons he would need to detach a serious part of his forces and have them there for a considerable length of time. With Gaul itself still not completely unsubdued, this was simply not a go. A highly showy landing that would impress the crowds back in Rome however, was in the cards.

The first "invasion" of Britain was, pure and simple, a reconnaissance. Those who wish to discredit Caesar often like to dismiss this statement as a cover-up, but when all the facts are considered, it is the only explanataion that makes sense. We can safely take Caesar at his word here. The only reason that he himself was the same reason that the expedition was being launched in the first place: this was an elaborate publicity stunt.

Also, to say that Caesar's preparation was lacking is, I think counterable by the fact that he did in fact, make considerable preparation. A trusted lieutenant was ordered to take a boat and find a suitable landing site, which was done. A trusted Gaul with a small party was sent onto the island itself to start establishing relationships with the natives. Caesar apparently spent considerable effort questioning Gauls who lived along the coast in regards for everything they knew about Britain. Eventually, he evidently felt himself ready to depart.

Observing that the Britons intended to oppose the landing, Caesar eventually found a more suitable landing site, and undertook the first Amphibious Landing in military history, which I regard as one of his greatest battles. After the aquilifer of the 10th Legion had gotten the soldiers attacking, Caesar's moves in rapidly redeploying the warships in a flank attack and then directing all ships to fill their landing-boats with soldiers to act as action-ready squads that could fill out the gaps in the line forming up on the beach are one of the greatest shows of his tactical genius. The only let down was the lack of cavalry, which did not allow Caesar to pursue the fleeing enemy.

Having established themselves in a camp the legions had to spen several tense weeks after a storm unexpectedly damaged many of the ships. Nevertheless Caesar worked around the cloack and soon had many of them repaired. After the 7th Legion narrowly escaped from an ambush as it was foraging the tribes attempted an attack on the camp, but were quickly routed and subjected to one of Caesar's famously brutal pursuits.

As soon as he was able, Caesar left to return to Gaul, having achieved precisely what he had set out to do: land on the Island of Britian, thrash some natives, and return. There really is no other explnation for what his intentions might have been. The Campaigning Season was already too late for him to undertake any really serious adventures, and none of it would really have been the potential consequences of withdrawing more legions from their tasks in maintaining order. Caesar's intention, logic dictates, was to do precisely as he did: land in Britain with a couple of legions, come back, and bask in the glow of admiring Roman adulation. While he was doing this he could soften up the natives and establish a good location for a landing next year. With a 20 day thanksgiving declared, it was a triumphant success.

The next year Caesar invaded again, this time embarking 5 legions and 2000 cavalry with a veritable armada of some 800 ships, the largest invasion fleet the Channel would see until D-Day. It's not particularly surprising that the Britons gave no thought to opposing the landing this time round.

Having once more established his camp, Caesar struck inland with 4 legions and rapidly overran an Oppidium, sending out 3 flying columns to pursue the enemy. At this point he recieved some extremely bad news: his fleet had once more been hit by a storm. This was because of what was definitly a mistake; one of the very few that Caesar made in his military career; namely he had assumed that his fleet would be safe at anchor just offshore. It is to his credit that he admits outright that he made a mistake, though he does say that he had been sure that such an occurance was unlikely. There is no reason not to take Caesar at his word here; the alternative would in any case be far stranger. In any case when Caesar did make a mistake, he learned from it. In ten days all of the ships in the fleet were dragged on sure and enclosed in massive fortifications that would shield them from the elements and any attempts by the Britons on them. His fleet definitely safe now, Caesar once more headed north.

While he had been engaged in securing the fleet the Britons had organized themselves under the leadership of Cassivellanus. Caesar's response, as always, was swift and decisive. As soon as he had established a clear picture of the situation (presumably from interrogating prisoners captured during the engagements between the two forces) he boldly made his way to the Thames and soon bulled his way across. The strategy was successful - the enemy forces soon broke up and Cassivellanus resolved to try and limit the destruction Caesar could cause by ensuring that his cavalry could not stray from the main column for fear of being surrounded. Caesar responded by begining to break apart the rough confederation that had been thrown together through diplomatic means. He had after his first invasion taken under his protection a prince of the Trinovantes, and he had likely known from the start that he could count on this tribe for support (his first landing thus now showed itself to have accomplished what it had been meant to in furnishing him with what he needed for the second invasion). Once the crack had opened it steadily grew wider and a number of other tribes submitted to Caesar. Pumping his new allies for information he soon ascertained the location of Cassivellanus's Oppidum and overran it with a pincer-attack. With Cassivellanus's base destroyed, his supplies looted and its defenders routed and without equipment Cassivellanus apparently could no longer prevent Caesar from devastating his lands as he had wanted to since crossing the Thames. In a final attempt to repel the invader Cassivellanus had his allies south of the Thames launch an attack on the Roman camp, in hopes of Caesar withdrawing to defend it. The Romans at the camp however were apparently well-prepared, and routed the Britons without suffering any losses themselves. Between the ravaging of his homeland and the defeat of his forces everywhere, Cassivellanus surrendered. Caesar extracted large numbers of hostages from all the tribes who had opposed him and began preparations to leave. He had no intention of attempting to annex the island as a province, and if he had such notions would have been foolish. To completely subdue the Britons (as opposed to their merely meekly waiting for him to leave) would have required a great deal of time, effort, and men that he could ill afford to spare (tellingly he says that there were reports of uprisings in Gaul). He had, in any case, achieved everything he had wanted. He had publicly defeated the Britons in battle and forced them to submit to him and provide hostages tribute, and he would recieve boundless glory for this achievement back in Rome. Thanks to his having destroyed the Veneti tribe in Gaul two years previously he was in a position to offer the tribes that had helped him against Cassivellanus a monopoloy on trade with Gaul, a deal from which he himself doubtless benefitted. He had even found time to highlight his talents as an ethnographer and scientist in producing the first detailed account of the British Isles and their inhabitents. The fleet repaired, he sailed back to Gaul in two parts, and was proud to report that he had not lost a single ship in the process.

All in all, from a military standpoint Caesar had taken a risk in launching these campaigns that was not offset by his gains. But from a political standpoint they were a masterstroke. A Thanksgiving had been declared for him twice as long as that granted to any Roman before him. Though before the expedition there had been discussion in the Senate about the legality of his activities, all such talk ceased immediatly. Even Cicero could not stop himself from gushing with excitement over the venture. And the general public of course went wild. Some writers have drawn comparisons between Caesar's expeditions to Britian and the Moon-landing.

Neither landing was a fiasco. Au contraire, in both cases while he had taken large risks, he had justified them by success of what we can be sure were his genuine goals in undertaking these expeditions. And they had been a political coup. All things considered, Caesar could look back on his expeditions to Britian as a marvellous success. Of course he soon had much bigger things to worry about...
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