Caesar, a History of the Art of War among the Romans down to the End of the Roman Empire, with a Detailed Account of the Campaigns of Caius Julius Caesar - Vol. 1

By Theodore Ayrault Dodge | Go to book overview
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XIX.
THE SIEGE OF ALESIA. SUMMER AND FALL OF 52 B. C.

THE siege of Alesia was foressen by both parties to be the final act in the struggle. Vercingetorix retired into the city with his army, eighty thousand strong; Cæsar sat down before it with sixty thousand men, and began to draw his lines of contravallation. Meanwhile cavalry skirmishes were frequent. Vercingetorix had provisions for thirty days; he sent away his cavalry, and by them word to the allies that before that period was past he must be rescued or surrender. Cæsar set to work on his defenses. These were strongest at the western approaches, where there was a large plain. Aware that an army of relief would speedily come, lines of circumvallation were added. The works were singularly complete, and skillfully adapted to the ground. After about six weeks, an immense army of relief did, in fact, come up, numbering nearly a quarter of a million of men. This shortly attacked, and Vercingetorix from within lent his aid. But the attack was partial and did not succeed. A second attack had no better result. The Romans held their own. The failure of these two attacks did much to depress the Gauls.

ON the day but one (altero die) after the battle of the Vingeanne, Cæsar reached Alesia, and determined upon its siege. This siege is one of the most notable of antiquity, and shows Cæsar's genius in high relief. The stronghold lay on an isolated hill ( Mt. Auxois), or rather an elevated oval plateau, one and a quarter miles long east and west, by a half mile wide at the centre north and south, five hundred feet above the surrounding valleys, in the confluence of two of the small tributaries of the upper Sequana, the Lutosa (Ose) and Osera (Oserain) which bounded it on north and south. In front of the town to the west was a plain over three miles in length north and south -- now called the

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