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

XXI.
THE BELLOVACI. JANUARY TO APRIL, 51 B. C.

THE Gauls had learned that they were not equal to the Romans in whatever combination; but they saw that a number of isolated insurrections gave Cæsar vastly more trouble than a single combined one. Several uprisings were therefore initiated; but Cæsar did not delay an instant. He made a series of winter campaigns, and by taking them unawares, successively reduced the Bituriges and Carnutes. He then marched against the Bellovaci, who, with their allies, had rendezvoused in what is now the Forest of Compiègne. Cæsar found them strongly intrenched. He camped on an adjacent hill, making a ditch and his wall in two stories. After some skirmishing between the rival outposts and cavalry, the barbarians prepared to retire, fearing another Alesia. Cæsar made ready to follow, but the Gauls detained him by a clever stratagem, and escaped. Seeking shortly to entrap him in an ambuscade, the barbarians were themselves surprised and defeated. Cæsar then distributed his legions so as best to cope with the several insurrections, whose extent he could not yet gauge.

THE rest which the Roman legions had fairly earned in the splendid campaign just ended was not destined to last long. The Gauls had been beaten, to be sure, but not all of them were subdued. Then as now they added to native gallantry the habit of not yielding until they had tried a number of ways to accomplish a desired end. They had tried the experiment of rising in one body and had been distinctly worsted; they had learned that they were, in whatever numbers, no match for Roman discipline, courage and intellect. But they had also learned that the most grievous blows they had inflicted on Cæsar were those they had given by waging a judicious small-war in many localities at the same time. This system they determined once more to try. They were intelligent enough to understand that while Cæsar could, no

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