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

XX.
THE BATTLE OF ALESIA. FALL OF 52 B. C.

THE Gallic army of relief made a third and last assault on Cæsar's lines, after careful preparation. They skillfully probed the weakest spot in the Roman line, which was at the northwest camp, and made a violent attack on it with a chosen body of sixty thousand men. At the same moment the cavalry made a demonstration at the western plain. The legions were put to it as never before to hold their own. Perceiving the attack by the army of relief, Vercingetorix moved against the lines from within. Cæsar had an army equal to his own on either side of him, each delivering a desperate assault at the same moment, and with huge reserves in support. He himself was omnipresent and kept his men heartily to their work. The value of the defenses was now apparent. The Gauls could nowhere penetrate the line, though attacks were made at several places, and came dangerously close to success. Finally, by a well-timed sortie with the sword and a simultaneous cavalry charge on their flank, the Gauls were driven back, and discouraged at their threefold defeat, the army of relief retired; Vercingetorix surrendered. The siege of Alesia practically sealed the doom of Gaul.

THE Gauls had now been defeated in two assaults. These, indeed, had been partial ones, but want of success had begun to discourage the men. The leaders distinctly foresaw failure unless they could wrest a victory from the Romans in the next encounter. The Gallic character before the Christian era is universally described as illy adapted to bear the strain of continued disaster. Commius proposed to make one more strong effort to break through Cæsar's lines, and the Gauls went to work systematically to discover the weakest part of the Roman walls. By inquiries of the country people they learned what were the troops and kinds of defenses at each point.

On the northwest of the town was a hill which the

-300-

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