Julius Caesar.

C. Iulii Caesaris Commentarii rerum gestarum. Caesar's Commentaries: the Gallic war, books I-Iv, with selections from books V-VII and from the civil war; online

. (page 53 of 73)
Online LibraryJulius CaesarC. Iulii Caesaris Commentarii rerum gestarum. Caesar's Commentaries: the Gallic war, books I-Iv, with selections from books V-VII and from the civil war; → online text (page 53 of 73)
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that he now had four veteran and four raw legions, eight in all.

g. In the fifth year (54 b.c) the xivth legion and half of
another were annihilated in the ambuscade set by Ambiorix
(V. 26-37). At the beginning of the next year Caesar raised
two more legions in Cisalpine Gaul, one replacing the lost
xivth (VI. 32), the other numbered xv., and besides obtained a
legion from Pompey, which was numbered vi. (VI. 1 ; VIII. 54).
In the last two years of the war he had thus ten legions (VII. 34),
numbered vi. to xv. inclusive. It appears probable that the
whole force of legionary soldiers engaged in the siege of Alesia
fell short of forty thousand.

308. The infantry auxiliaries. — In addition to the legions, a
Koman army contained bodies of infantry and cavalry drawn
from allied and subject peoples, or hired outright from inde-
pendent nations, called auxiliaries or auxiliary troops, aiurilia
(I. 24). These in some cases retained their native dress,
equipment, and mode of fighting, in others were armed and
trained after the Roman fashion (Fig. 172). To the former
class belong the light-armed troops, *levis armaturae pedites
(II. 24), including as special classes Uie slingers (Plate III. 1),
and bowmen. In the Gallic War Caesar availed himself of
the help of slingers, funditorea, from the Balearic Islands
(II. 7), bowmen, aagittarii, from Crete and from Nnmidia 1 1 1. 7 i.
and light-armed German troops (VII. 65), He utilized also


The Roman Art of War


contingents from the Gallic States that he subdued (III. 18,
VIII. 10). <*r^?2 b.c. he had a force of ten thousand Aeduans
(VII. 34). Caesar, as
other Roman writers, is
generally not careful to
state the exact number of
the auxiliary troops ; they
were regarded as rela-
tively unimportant. The
officers of the auxiliaries,
both infantry and cavalry,
were Romans. Auxiliary
troops posted on the
wing of an army might
be called wing-men, alaril
(I. 51).

309. The cavalry. — a.
A troop of cavalry usually
accompanied each legion.
While the evidence is not
conclusive, it is probable
that in the latter part
of the Gallic War, if
not from the beginning,
Caesar had contingents
of cavalry in connection
with his legions, averag-
ing 200 to 300 men
each. These horsemen
were foreigners, serving
for pay ; they were drawn Fi ^ ure 172 * ~ Light-armed soldier,
from Spain, Spanish horsemen, Hispani equites (V. 26), from
Germany, German horsemen, GermanI equites (VII. 13), and
from Gaul.

b. Apart from the legionary contingents, Caesar had a force
of cavalry raised from the Gallic States subject or friendly to


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618 Companion to Caesar [§310

Rome, which was reckoned as a single body, numbering under
ordinary circumstances about 4000 (I. 15 ; V. 5), or 5000 men
(IV. 12).

c. The cavalry was divided into squads or squadrons, turmae,
of about 30 horsemen ; such a squad went with Commius to
Britain (IV. 35). Probably the squad contained three decuries,
decuriae, of 10 men each, under the command of decurions,
decuriones (I. 23). The higher officers were called cavab-y
prefects, praefecti equitum (III. 26). See Plate III, 5.

310. The non-combatants. — a. There were two classes of non-
combatants, slaves employed for menial services, and free men,
or f reedmen. In the former class were included the officers' ser-
vants and camp servants, calones (II. 24), as well as the drivers
and muleteers with the heavy baggage, muliones (VII. 45) ; in
the latter class were citizens or others who were allowed to
accompany the army but were obliged to find quarters outside
of the camp, as the traders, mercatores (VI. 37).

b. The mechanics, fabri (V. 11), were not enrolled as a
separate corps, but were drawn from the ranks of the legionary
soldiers whenever needed.

311. The baggage train. — Each legion had a separate bag-
gage train. The heavy baggage, impedimenta (II. 19), com-
prised tents, hand-mills for grinding grain, artillery, extra
weapons, and other military stores, as well as supplies of food.
In the enemy's country for better defense the baggage trains of
a number of legions might be formed into a single column
(II. 19). From the baggage of the legion, or heavy baggage,
the baggage of the soldiers, carried in individual packs, sarcinae,
should be clearly distinguished (Fig. 6).


312. The general was properly called leader, dux, until he
had won a victory ; after the first victory he had a right to the
title imperator, commander or general (I. 40). Caesar used the
title Imperator from the time that he defeated the Helvetians,
in 58 B.C., until his death (I. 40, etc.).


The Roman Art of War 619

313. a. Next in rank came the lieutenant, or lieutenant-
general, legatus (I. 10), who was frequently placed by Caesar
in command of separate legions, or of corps containing more
than one legion. When acting in the absence of the general
the lieutenant became lieutenant in the general 1 s place, legatus
pro praetore (I. 21), and exercised unusual authority. The
title " lieutenant general " would more accurately define the
military position of Labienus, for example, than that of
"lieutenant" as the word is used in the United States and

b. The quaestor, quaestor (I. 52), was charged with the care
of the military chest and the supplies, but was sometimes
clothed with purely military authority, and assumed the func-
tions of a lieutenant. The quaestor and the lieutenants be-
longed to the staff of the general, and had with him the
distinction of a body-guard, cohors praetoria (I. 40), composed
of picked soldiers and of young men of rank who wished to
acquire military experience.

314. The military tribunes, tribuni militum (I. 39), numbered
six to a legion. In Caesar's army the tribunes appear to have
received appointment for personal rather than military reasons ;
and they were intrusted with subordinate services, such as the
leading of troops on the march, the command of detachments
smaller than a legion (cf. VI. 39), the securing of supplies
(III. 7), and the oversight of the watches. Only one military
tribune, Gaius Volusenus (III. 5), is mentioned by Caesar in
terms of praise.

315. a. In marked contrast with the higher officers, who were
of good social position, were the captains, or centurions, centu-
riones, ordines (V. 30). These were often of the humblest
origin ; they were promoted from the ranks simply on account
of bravery and efficiency. At the drill, on the march, and in
battle, they were at the same time the models and the leaders
of the soldiers.

b. As each century had a centurion, there were 2 centurions
in each maniple (distinguished as first, prior, and second, pos-

620 Companion to Caesar [§3i6

terior), 6 in each cohort, and 60 in the legion. The first in
rank was the first centurion (of the first maniple) of the first
cohort, primipilus (II. 25). The first centurion of the second
maniple of a cohort was called princeps prior (C. III. 64).

316. Below the centurions, but ranking above the common
soldiers, were the privileged soldiers, who were relieved from
picket duty as well as work on fortifications and other manual
labor. Such were the veteran volunteers, evocati (C. III. 53),
soldiers who had served their full time but had reenlisted at
the general's request; the musicians, and the standard-bearers,


317. Caesar was careful to have ample supplies always at

The care of the stores was in the hands of the quaes-
tor, with his staff. Not bread or flour, but grain, frumentum
(1. 16), usually wheat, was served out to the soldiers for rations.
This they themselves ground with hand-mills, molae manuales,
and prepared for food by boiling into a paste or by making
into bread without yeast.

The grain was portioned out every fifteen days, and on the
march each soldier carried his share in a sack. The amount
furnished does not seem large when we* reflect that the men
lived almost exclusively on a vegetable diet. The allowance
for the fifteen days was two Roman pecks, modii, about hall a
bushel by our measure. As the weight of this was not far from
thirty pounds, the soldier had about two pounds per day. On
difiicult or forced marches extra rations were served out.

If the soldier desired to do so he could trade off his grain for
bread, or buy other articles of food from the numerous traders.
mercatores (I. 39), who accompanied the army and had a flour-
ishing business. When wheat was scarce, barley, hordeum (C.
III. 47), was substituted. Rations of barley were frequently
served out also instead of wheat as a punishment for slight


The Roman Art of War


offenses. In traversing an enemy's country fresh meat was
often secured.

318. The wages of the Roman soldier were very small, but
in successful campaigns the men had a share of the booty,
praeda (C. III. 97), consisting largely of captives, who were
sold as slaves (VII. 89). These were bought up on the spot by
the traders, and thus readily turned into cash. Sometimes
Caesar gave money realized from the sale of booty ; thus after
the conquest of the Bituriges in 51 b.c. the soldiers received
200 sesterces (about $8.00) apiece, the centurions a much
larger sum (VIII. 4). As other rewards, praemia (V. 58), the
commander could make special gifts, militaria dona (C. III. 53),
such as disk-shaped decoratio7is of metal for the breast, phalerae
(Fig. 62), clothing, and double pay (C. III. 53).

When convicted of cowardly or disgraceful conduct the
soldier was deprived of his weapons and driven from the
camp, or in extreme cases put to death ; officers and privileged
soldiers might be reduced in rank, as were certain standard-
bearers after an engagement before Dyrrachium (C. III. 74).

319. At the close of his period of service, twenty years, or
on reaching his fiftieth year, the soldier who had served well
was entitled to an honorable discharge, missio honesta, or missio
(C. I. 86), together with an allotment of land, or a payment of


320. The legionary soldier wore a thick woolen undergar-
ment, tunic, tunica, reaching nearly to the knees (cf. C. III. 44).
His cloak, sagum (C. I. 75), which
served also as a blanket, was like-
wise of undyed wool, and fastened
by a clasp, fibula, on the right
shoulder, so as not to impede the
movement of the right arm. The
soldier's shoes, caligae (Fig. 173),
were like a sandal, but had heavy Figure 173. — Soldier's shoe.


Companion to Caesar


Figure 174. — Legion
ary's helmet, galea
without the crest.

soles which were fastened on by straps
over the foot and instep.

321. The cloak of the commander, palu-
danientum, differed from that of the
soldier only in being more ample, of
finer quality, and ornamented ; it was
ordinarily scarlet in color (VII. 88).

322. The weapons of the legionary were
in part offensive, in part defensive.

As defensive weapons, arma, he had :
a. A helmet, galea (Fig. 174), orna-
mented with a crest, crista (Plate III, 3 ; Fig. 33). On the
march the helmet was hung on a cord which passed through
the ring at the top and
around the soldier's neck.
The crest was fastened on
before going into action.

b. A cuirass, or coat of
mail, lorica, of leather, or
of leather strengthened
with strips of metal, or of
metal (Figures 148, 150).

c. A shield, ordinarily
rectangular, scutum (II
25; Fig. 175; Plate IV, 3),
but in some cases oval,
clipeus (Plate IV, 1),
made of two layers of
boards fastened together,
strengthened on the out-
side by layers of linen
or of leather, and at the
edges by a rim of metal.
At the middle of the out-
side was an iron knob,
umbo, used in striking.

Figure 175.

Roman oblong shield,


The Roman Art of War


On the march the shield was protected from the wet by a
leather covering, tegimentum (II. 21). In battle it was held
on the left arm (Fig. 33).

The offensive weapons of the legionary were :

d. A pike, pilum (I. 25), a heavy and formidable javelin. It

e a bed

Figure 176. — Roman pike, restored.

a. Wooden shaft.

b. Iron collar, strengthening the end of the wooden shaft where the iron is fitted in.

c. The " iron," ferrum ; of soft iron, easily bent.

d. Hard barbed point, of iron.

e. Iron shoe, making it possible to stick the pike into the ground, so that it would stand
upright, without frazzling the wood.

consisted of a shaft of wood about four feet long, into the

end of which was fitted a small iron shaft, ferrum (I. 25),

with a pointed head, which projected two feet

beyond the end of the wood (see Figures 49,

50, 176, and Plate IV, 6). The weight of the

whole was not far from ten or eleven pounds.

Pikes could be thrown only about 75 feet;

but they were hurled with such skill and

force that the first hurling often decided the


e. A sword, gladius (I. 25), called Spanish
sword, gladius Hispanus, because made accord-
ing to a pattern brought from Spain after the
Second Punic War. The Spanish sword was
short, broad, two-edged, and pointed, better
adapted for stabbing than for slashing, though
used for both purposes (Plate IV, 9). It was
kept in a scabbard, vagina (V. 44), fastened to
a belt, balteus (V. 44), which was passed over
the left shoulder (Plate III, 3, and Fig. 177) ;

this brought the sword on the right side, so Figure 177.

that it was not in the way of the shield. Spanish sword,

/. In the time of the Empire, and probably in the scabbard.


Companion to Caesar


also in Caesar's day, officers carried a dagger, pugio, which
was attached to a belt running around the waist (Fig. 178).

323. The dress and equipment of the light-armed soldiers
varied greatly (Fig. 172, and Plate III, 1; PI. IV, 7, lb.
They, as well as the cavalry, seem generally to
have had a light round or oval shield, parma,
about three feet in diameter (Plate IV, 4). The
cavalry had helmets of metal, cassides (VII. 45,
Figure 179), light lances for hurling, and a longer
sword than that used by the infantry (Figure 98,
and Plate III, 5).


Figure 178
— Roman dag

324. a. While the ancient battle lacked the
noise and smoke of cannon and of other death-
dealing devices of modern war, great clouds of
dust were raised and obscured the movements
of the combatants ; the standards, or ensigns, were conse-
quently more numerous, and had a
relatively more important place, than
flags have to-day.

b. The ensigns of Caesar's army

(1) The eagle of the legion, aquila
(IV. 25), of silver, carried in battle on
the end of a pole by the eagle-bearer,
aquilifer (V. 37). In camp it was kept
in a little shrine, sacellum (Plate IV, 8).
It was the standard of the legion as a
whole ; the eagle with extended wings borne aloft seemed to
signify that the bird sacred to Jupiter, god of victory, was
ready to lead the legion to success ; and the loss of the eagle
was the deepest disgrace that could be incurred (IV. 25;
V. 37 ; C. III. 64). See Fig. 180, and Plate IV, 2.

The ancient Persians had a golden eagle as the royal stand-

Figure 179. — Cavalry-
man's helmet, cassis.


The Roman Art of War


ard ; and to-day the eagle appears among the emblems of
several European countries, and of the United States.

(2) The standards, signa (II. 21), one to each maniple, carried
by standard-bearers, signiferi (II. 25 ; Fig. 187). These varied
in appearance. One type, known from
a coin struck in 49 b.c. (Fig. 180), had
small streamers attached to the end of
the pole, underneath which were two
crescents (perhaps for good luck),
one just above the other ; below these
were two disks of metal, phalerae, no
doubt presented .to the maniple for
meritorious conduct, and last of all a
square plate of metal, indicating by a
letter the place of the maniple (H =
hastati, P = principes). In some cases
figures of animals appeared.

Figure 1 80. — Standards.

Denarius, struck in 49 B.C. ;
eagle between two standards.
Inscription, L • LENT[ULUS],
C • marc[ellus! COS, ' Lucius

There was no separate standard for Lentuiusand' Gaius Marceiius,
the cohort.


(3) The banners, vexilla, rectangular flags of different sizes
used for a variety of purposes (Fig. 149). A large red flag
was the special ensign of the commander (II. 20). Smaller
banners were used by special detachments not formed of
regular maniples (VI. 36), or attached to the standards of the

325. On the march the standard was at the front, in battle
some distance behind the front, of the maniple.

From the immediate association of the manipular standards
with military movements arose several idiomatic expressions
used by Caesar. Such are :

signa ferre, to go forward (I. 39).

signa inferre, to advance (II. 26).

signa convertere, to face about (I. 25).

ad signa convenire, to assemble (VI. 1).

infestis signis, in battle formation, lit. with hostile standards
(VII. 51 ; C. III. 93).


Companion to Caesar



326. a. The musical instruments were :

(1) The trumpet, tuba (II. 20), about three feet long, with

a funnel-shaped opening
(Fig. 84, and Plate II,
7) ; it had a deep tone,
and was sounded by the
trumpeters, tubicines (VII.

(2) The horn, cornu, a
large curved instrument,
with a shriller note (Fig.
181, and Plate II. 8).

(3) The shell trumpet,
bucina, perhaps resem-
bling the large shells in
use in modern times about
Naples as dinner horns
(Fig. 182) ; such at least is
Triton's bucima described

by Ovid (Met. I, 333-338).

The shell trumpet was used especially in camp for giving
the signals to change the watches (C. II. 35).

b. As the maniple was
the unit of military move :
ment, signals were ad-
dressed to the standard-
bearers, signiferi.

c. The order "to ad-
vance" or "to fall back"
was conveyed by the gen-
eral to the trumpeters,
tubicines (cf. VII. 47);
their signal was taken up
by the horn-blowers, corni-

Figure 181. — Horn, with crosspiece by
which it was carried.

Figure 182. — Modern shell trumpet, with

iron mouthpiece.

It has a deep tone which can be heard a long
distance. From Boscoreale. near Pompeii.


The Roman Art of War


cines, of whom there was one to each maniple. The notes of
the instruments could be heard above the din of battle much
more clearly than the spoken words of the officers.


327. When in an enemy's country Caesar maintained an
exceedingly efficient information service. Parties of mounted
patrols, exploratores (I. 21), scoured the coun-
try ; and their observation was supplemented
by single scouts or spies, speculators (II. 11),
who gathered information wherever they could
(Fig. 183).

328. The army advanced ordinarily in three
divisions. At the front, prlmum agmen (VII.
67), came the cavalry, with perhaps a division
of light-armed troops, sent ahead to feel out
the enemy (I. 15), and in case of attack, to
hold him at bay until the rest of the army
could prepare for action (II. 19).

Next came the main force, each legion being
accompanied by its baggage train ; but when
there was danger of attack the legions marched
in single column, with the baggage of the
whole army united (II. 19).

The rear, novissimum agmen, might in case
of danger be formed of part of the legionary force, the baggage
being between the rear and the main body (II. 19).

329. The regular day's march, iustum iter, was from six to
seven hours long. The start was usually made at sunrise ; but
in emergencies the army got under way at midnight, or two
or three o'clock in the morning. The distance ordinarily
traversed was about 15 or 16 English miles ; on a forced march,
iter magnum (II. 12), a much greater distance might be made, as
25 or 30 English miles (VII. 41). Caesar's forced marches
manifested astonishing powers of endurance on the part of

Figure 183. —
Scout, specula-

628 Companion to Caesar [§330

his soldiers. Rivers were often crossed by fording ; in such
operations the ancient army had the advantage over the
modern, because it carried no ammunition that would be
spoiled by the water (V. 18, VII. 56).

330. On the march the soldier carried his rations, his cook-
ing utensils, his arms, blanket, and one or two rampart stakes,
or palisades, valli ; palisades for defense were carried by dra-
goons as late as the seventeenth century.

The luggage was done up in tight bundles or packs, sarcinae
(Plate III, 4), which were fastened to forked poles, and raised
over the shoulder (Fig. 6). This arrangement was introduced
by Marius> in memory of whom soldiers so equipped were
called Marius^s males, mull Mariani. The helmet was hung
by a cord from the neck, the other weapons disposed of in the
most convenient way. When it rained, the oblong shields,
scuta {322, c), could be put over the head like a roof.


a. A camp was fortified at the close of every day's
When the army was still on the march, men were sent
forward to choose a suitable location for a camp
and measure it off.

b. Whenever possible, a site for the camp was
selected on a slight elevation, with abundance of
water, and of wood for fuel, near at hand. The
proximity of a dense forest or overhanging moun-

F . T^ 4 tain was avoided, that a favorable opportunity

Roman spade. °f attack might not be given to the enemy.
of iron : such. Sometimes the rear or one side was placed par-
with wooden a n e i with a river (II. 5).

handles, were ___ m , n . ,

used by Caesar's 332 Tne cam P was usually rectangular (see
soldiers. Maps 3, 4, 6, 20); in a few cases there were camps

of irregular shapes, adapted to the nature of the ground
(Maps 5, 15). The size of the camp varied according to the
size of the force.


The Roman Art of War


333. In fortifying a camp, first an embankment was thrown
up on all four sides ; for digging the soldiers used spades, or
trenching tools, like those in use to-day (Figures 3, 4, 184).

Outside of this embankment was a trench, usually triangular
in section (V-shaped), from which the earth for the embank-
ment was taken (Fig. 185, and Plate IV, 10). On the outer

Figure 185. — Bird's-eye view of a Roman Camp.

Plainly seen are the trench or moat, and the rampart, with its stockade, on which are
battlements ; gates, with towers at each side ; the general's quarters, and the rows of tents.

edge of the embankment a row of strong rampart stakes or
palisades, valli, was driven firmly in, forming a stockade. The
rampart, vallum (II. 5), thus made, was several feet high and
wide enough so that the soldiers could stand on it behind the
palisades. The trench, or moat, fossa (II. 8), was from twelve
to eighteen feet wide (II. 5) and from seven to ten feet deep.
When the army expected to remain in the same place for a
long time, as in winter quarters, hiberna (I. 54), or a stationary
camp, castra stativa (C. III. 30), sometimes towers, turres
(V. 40), were added at brief intervals, and the intervening
spaces further protected by a roof (Plate IX, 6).

630 Companion to Caesar [§334

The labor of fortifying a camp was prodigious.

334. a. The camp had four gates (Plate IV, 10). That in
the direction of the advance, toward the enemy, was called the
general' 8 gate, porta praetoria (C. III. 94), the one opposite to
this, at the rear, the decuman gate, porta decumana (II, 24) ;
the gates on the right and left side respectively, as one faced
the front, main right gate, porta principalis dextra, and main left
gate, porta principalis sinistra. The last two were connected by
the main street, via principalis. The entrances were made more
easily defensible by an approach so laid out that an enemy
attempting to enter would expose the right, or unprotected
side (Fig. 185).

b. Inside the rampart, between it and the tents, a vacant
space two hundred feet wide was left on all sides. The remain-
ing room in the enclosure was systematically divided, so that
every maniple, decuria, and body of light-armed troops knew
its place and could find its quarters at once. The general's
quarters, praetorium (C. III. 94), was near the middle of the
camp ; near it was an open space where he could address his

Online LibraryJulius CaesarC. Iulii Caesaris Commentarii rerum gestarum. Caesar's Commentaries: the Gallic war, books I-Iv, with selections from books V-VII and from the civil war; → online text (page 53 of 73)