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

XXIII.
CÆSAR'S METHOD.

THE Gauls had been the terror of Rome for centuries. Whoever conquered them would be the national hero. Cæsar understood this. His mission was to protect the Province; he purposed to subdue Gaul. He worked for his own ends as much as for Rome, but he understood his problem thoroughly. He considered the strategic field of Gaul with a clear eye, and committed no errors in his general plan. It was natural that he should make early mistakes of detail, for Cæsar had not been brought up as a soldier; and we find a hesitancy in his first campaigns which later he threw off. His line of advance from the Province through central Gaul was in strict accord with the topographical values, and he studied the tribal instincts keenly. He educated himself as he went along, profiting by all his mistakes. His campaigns across the Rhine and to Britain were useless; they did not aid the general scheme. Cæsar was energetic in obtaining information, ingenious in contending with new obstacles, intelligent in selecting his objective, careful of his base. He demanded severe exertions from his men, but rewarded them handsomely. He was much aided by fortune, but under trial was doubly energetic. In view of the fact that Cæsar entered the Gallic campaign without experience in war, it was a marvelous success.

IT has already been pointed out that Cæsar, on being appointed governor of Gaul, had been vested with no right to do more than protect the exposed boundaries of the then Province. All prefects had confined themselves to this rôle. The laws of nations in Cæsar's day had already received some recognition; but right was no valid argument against might, and few rights were accorded to barbarian tribes by Rome in the last century before the Christian era, least of all to the redoubted Gauls, who had so often brought Rome to the verge of ruin. Rome at that day was lawless. Every great man wrought for himself. Cæsar had been brought up

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