Julius Caesar.

Cæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: online

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third watch.

CHAP. LXV. When Afranius, who was in company with Pe-


treius, saw them at a distance, being affrighted at so unexpected
a sight, he halted on a rising ground and drew up his army.
Caesar refreshed his army on the plain that he might not expose
them to battle while fatigued ; and when the enemy attempted
to renew their march, he pursued and stopped them. They were
obliged to pitch their camp sooner than they had intended, for
there were mountains at a small distance ; and difficult and
narrow roads awaited them about five miles off. They retired
behind these mountains that they might avoid Caesar's cavalry,
and, placing parties in the narrow roads, stop the progress of
his army and lead their own forces across the Ebro without
danger or apprehension. This it was their interest to attempt
and to effect by any means possible; but, fatigued by the
skirmishes all day, and by the labor of their march, they
deferred it till the following day ; Caesar likewise encamped on
the next hill.

CHAP. LXVI. About midnight a few of their men who had
gone some distance from the camp to fetch water, being taken
by our horse, Caesar is informed by them that the generals of
the enemy were drawing their troops out of the camp without
noise. Upon this information Caesar ordered the signal to be
given and the military shout to be raised for packing up the
baggage. When they heard the shout, being afraid lest they
should be stopped in the night and obliged to engage under
their baggage, or lest they should be confined in the narrow
roads by Caesar's horse, they put a stop to their march and
kept their forces in their camp. The next day Petreius went
out privately with a few horse to reconnoitre the country. A
similar movement was made from Caesar's camp. Lucius
Decidius Saxa, was detached with a small party to explore the
nature of the country. Each returned with the same account
to his camp, that there was a level road for the next five miles,
that there then succeeded a rough and mountainous country.
Whichever should first obtain possession of the defiles would
have no trouble in preventing the other's progress.

CHAP. LXVII. There was -a debate in the council between
Afranius and Petreius, and the time of marching was the sub-
ject. The majority were of opinion that they should begin
their march at night, " for they might reach the defiles before
they should be discovered." Others, because a shout had
been raised the night before in Caesar's camp, used this as an


argument that they could not leave the camp unnoticed :
"that Caesar's cavalry were patrolling the whole night, and
that all the ways and roads were beset; that battles at night
ought to be avoided, because, in civil dissension, a soldier once
daunted is more apt to consult . his fears than his oath ; that
the daylight raised a strong sense of shame in the eyes of all,
and that the presence of the tribunes and centurions had
the same effect: by these things the soldiers would be re-
strained and awed to their duty. Wherefore they should, by
all means, attempt to force their way by day; for, though a
trifling loss might be sustained, yet the post which they
desired might be secured with safety to the main body of the
army." This opinion prevailed in the council, and the next
day, at the dawn, they resolved to set forward.

CHAP. LXVIII. Caesar, having taken a view of the country,
the moment the sky began to grow white, led his forces from
the camp and marched at the head of his army by a long
circuit, keeping to no regular road ; for the road which led to
the Ebro and Octogesa was occupied by the enemy's camp,
which lay in Cassar's way. His soldiers were obliged to cross
extensive and difficult valleys. Craggy cliffs, in several places,
interrupted their march, insomuch that their arms had to be
handed to one another, and the soldiers were forced to perform
a great part of their march unarmed, and were lifted up the
rocks by each other. But not a man murmured at the fatigue,
because they imagined that there would be a period to all their
toils, if they could cut off the enemy from the Ebro and inter-
cept their convoys.

CHAP. LXIX. At first, Afranius's soldiers ran in high
spirits from their camp to look at us, and in contumelious
language upbraided us, " that we were forced, for want of neces-
sary subsistence, to run away, and return to Ilerda." For our
route was different fram what we proposed, and we appeared to
be going a contrary way. But their generals applauded their
own prudence in keeping within their camp, and it was a
strong confirmation of their opinion, that they saw we marched
without wagons or baggage, which made them confident that
we could not long endure want. But when they saw our army
gradually wheel to the right, and observed our van was already
passing the line of their camp, there was nobody so stupid, or
averse to fatigue, as not to think it necessary to march from


the camp immediately, and oppose us. The cry to arms was
raised, and all the army, except a few which were left to guard
the camp, set out and marched the direct road to the Ebro.

CHAP. LXX. The contest depended entirely on dispatch,
which should first get possession of the defile and the
mountains.* The difficulty of the roads delayed Caesar's army,
but his cavalry pursuing Afranius's forces, retarded their
march. However, the affair was necessarily reduced to this
point, with respect to Afranius's men, that if they first gained
the mountains, which they desired, they would themselves
avoid all danger, but could not save the baggage of their whole
army, nor the cohorts which they had left behind in the camps,
to which, being intercepted by Caesar's army, by no means
could assistance be given. Caesar first accomplished the march,
and having found a plain behind large rocks, drew up his army
there in order of battle and facing the enemy. Afranius, per-
ceiving that his rear was galled by our cavalry, and seeing the
enemy before him, having come to a hill, made a halt on it.
Thence he detached four cohorts of Spanish light infantry to
the highest mountain which was in view : to this he ordered
them to hasten with all expedition, and to take possession of
it, with the intention of going to the same place with all his
forces, then altering his route, and crossing the hills to Octogesa.
As the Spaniards were making toward it in an oblique direc-
tion, Caesar's horse espied them and attacked them, nor were
they able to withstand the charge of the cavalry even for a
moment, but were all surrounded and cut to pieces in the sight
of the two armies.

CHAP. LXXI. There was now an opportunity for managing
affairs successfully, nor did it escape Cassar, that an army
daunted at suffering such a loss before their eyes, could not
stand, especially as they were surrounded by our horse, and the
engagement would take place on even and open ground. To
this he was importuned on all sides. The lieutenants, centu-
rions, and tribunes, gathered round him, and begged " that he
would not hesitate to begin the battle : that the hearts of all
the soldiers were very anxious for it : that Afranius's men had
by several circumstances betrayed signs of fear ; in that they
had not assisted their party ; in that they had not quitted the
hill ; in that they did not sustain the charge of our cavalry, but
crowding their standards into one place, did not observe either


rank or order. But if lie had any apprehensions from the dis-
advantage of the ground, that an opportunity would be given
him of coming to battle in some other place : for that Afranius
must certainly come down, and would not be able to remain
there for want of water."

CHAP. LXXII. Csesar had conceived hopes of ending the
affair without an engagement, or without striking a blow,
because he had cut off the enemy's supplies. Why should he
hazard the loss of any of his men, even in a successful battle ?
Why should he expose soldiers to be wounded, who had
deserved so well of him ? Why, in short, should he tempt
fortune ? especially when it was as much a general's duty to
conquer by tactics as by the sword. Besides, he was moved
with compassion for those citizens, who, he foresaw, must fall :
and he had rather gain his object without any loss or injury to
them. This resolution of Csesar was not generally approved of;
but the soldiers openly declared to each other that since such
an opportunity of victory was let pass, they would not come to
an engagement, even when Csesar should wish it. He perse-
vered however in his resolution, and retired a little from that
place to abate the enemy's fears. Petreius and Afranius, hav-
ing got this opportunity, retired to their camp. Cassar, having
disposed parties on the mountains, and cut off all access to
the Ebro, fortified his camp as close to the enemy as he could.

CHAP. LXXIII. The day following, the generals of his
opponents, being alarmed that they had lost all prospect of sup-
plies, and of access to the Ebro, consulted as to what other course
they should take. There were two roads, one to Ilerda, if they
chose to return, the other to Tarraco, 1 if they should march to it.
While they were deliberating on these matters, intelligence
was brought them that their watering parties were attacked by
our horse : upon which information, they dispose several parties of
horse and auxiliary foot along the road, and intermix some
legionary cohorts, and begin to throw up a rampart from the
camp to the water, that they might be able to procure water
within their lines, both without fear, and without a guard.
Petreius and Afranius divided this task between themselves,

1 Tarraco, now Tarragona, a large city and sea-port of Spain, about
eighty miles north of the Ebro. During the Roman occupation of Spain,
it was a place of great strength, and gave name to the northern division
of Spain. Hispania Tarraconensis


and went in person to some distance from their camp for the
purpose of seeing it accomplished.

CHAP. LXXIV. The soldiers having obtained by their
absence a free opportunity of conversing with each other, came
out in great numbers, and inquired each for whatever acquaint-
ance or fellow-citizen ho had in our camp, and invited him to
him. First they returned them general thanks for sparing
them the day before, when they were greatly terrified, and
acknowledged that they were alive through N their kindness ;
then they inquired about the honor of our general, and
whether they could with safety intrust themselves to him;
and declared their sorrow that they had not done so in the
beginning, and that they had taken up arms against their
relations and kinsmen. Encouraged by these conferences,
they desired the general's parole for the lives of Petreius and
Afranius, that they might not appear guilty of a crime, in
having betrayed their generals. When they were assured of
obtaining their demands, they promised that they would
immediately remove their standards, and sent centurions of
the first rank as deputies to treat with Caesar about a peace.
In the mean time some of them invite their acquaintances,
and bring them to their camp, others are brought away
by their friends, so that the two camps seemed to be united
into one, and several of the tribunes and centurions came to
Caesar, and paid their respects to him. The same was done
by some of the nobility of Spain, whom they summoned to
their assistance, and kept in their camp as hostages. They in-
quired after their acquaintance and friends, by whom each might
have the means of being recommended to Caesar. Even Afra-
nius's son, a young man, endeavored, by means of Sulpitius the
lieutenant, to make terms for his own and his father's lite. Every
place was filled with mirth and congratulations; in the one
army, because they thought they had escaped so impending
danger ; in the other, because they thought they had completed
so important a matter without blows; and Cassar, in every
man's judgment, reaped the advantage of his former lenity, and
his conduct was applauded by all.

CHAP. XXXV. When these circumstances were announced
to Afranius, he left the work which he had begun, and returned
to his camp, determined as it appeared, whatever should be the
ivent, to bear it with an even and steady mind. Petreius did


not neglect himself; he armed his domestics ; with them and
the praetorian cohort of Spaniards, and a few foreign horse, his
dependents, whom he commonly kept near him to guard his
person, he suddenly flew to the rampart, interrupted the confer-
ences of the soldiers, drove our men from the camp, and put to
death as many as he caught. The rest formed into a body, and
being alarmed by the unexpected danger, wrapped their left
arms in their cloaks, and drew their swords, and in this manner,
depending on the nearness of their camp, defended themselves
against the Spaniards, and the horse, and made good their re-
treat to the camp, where they were protected by the cohorts
which were on guard.

CHAP. LXXVI. Petreius, after accomplishing this, went
round every maniple, calling the soldiers by their names, and
entreating with tears that they would not give up him and their
absent general Pompey, as a sacrifice to the vengeance of
their enemies. Immediately they ran in crowds to the general's
pavilion, when he required them all to take an oath that they
would not desert nor betray the army nor the generals, nor
form any design distinct from the general interest. He himself
swore first to the tenor of those words, and obliged Afranius to
take the same oath. The tribunes and centurions followed their
example ; the soldiers were brought out by centuries, and took
the same oath. They gave orders, 1 that whoever had any of
Caesar's soldiers should produce them ; as soon as they were
produced, they put them to death publicly in the praetorium,
but most of them concealed those that they had entertained,
and let them out at night over the rampart. Thus the terror
raised by the generals, the cruelty of the punishments, the new
obligation of an oath, removed all hopes of surrender for the
present, changed the soldiers' minds, and reduced matters to the
former state of war.

CHAP. LXXVII. Caesar ordered the enemy's soldiers, who
had come into his camp to hold a conference, to be searched
for with the strictest diligence, and sent back. But of the
tribunes and centurions, several voluntarily remained with him,
and he afterward treated them with great respect. The centur-
ions he promoted to higher ranks, and conferred on the Roman
knights the honor of tribunes.

1 Literally, "that with whomsoever any of Caesar's soldiers was. ho
should be brought forth."


CHAP. LXXVJI1. Afranius's men were distressed in foraging,
and procured water with difficulty. The legionary soldiers
had a tolerable supply of corn, because they had been ordered
to bring from Herda sufficient to last twenty-two days; the
Spanish and auxiliary forces had none, for they had but few
opportunities of procuring any, and their bodies were not accus-
tomed to bear burdens ; and therefore a great number of them
came over to CaBsar every day. Their affairs were under these
difficulties; but of the two schemes proposed, the most ex-
pedient seemed to be to return to Ilerda, because they had left
some corn there ; and there they hoped to decide on a plan for
their future conduct. Tarraco lay at a greater distance ; and in
such a space they knew affairs might admit of many changes.
Their design having met with approbation, they set out from
their camp. Caesar having sent forward his cavalry, to annoy
and retard their rear, followed close after with his legions.
Not a moment passed in which their rear was not engaged with
our horse.

CHAP. LXXIX. Their manner of fighting was this : the
light cohorts closed their rear, and frequently made a stand on
the level grounds. If they had a mountain to ascend, the very
nature of the place readily secured them from any danger ; for
the advanced guards, from the rising grounds, protected the
rest in their ascent. When they approached a valley or decliv-
ity, and the advanced men could not impart assistance to the
tardy,, our horse threw their darts at them from the rising
grounds with advantage ; then their affairs' were in a perilous
situation; the only plan left was, that whenever they came
near such places, they should give orders to the legions to halt,
and by a violent effort repulse our horse ; and these being
forced to give way, they should suddenly, with the utmost speed,
run all together down to the valley, and having passed it, should
face about again on the next hill. For so far were they from
deriving any assistance from their horse (of which they had a
large number), that they were obliged to receive them into the
center of their army, and themselves protect them, as they
were daunted by former battles. And on their march no one
could quit the line without being taken by Caesar's horse.

CHAP. LXXX. While skirmishes were fought in this man-
ner, they advanced but slowly and gradually, and frequently
halted to help their rear, as then happened. For having


advanced four miles, and being very much harassed by our
horse, they took post on a high mountain, and there in-
trenched themselves on the front only, facing the enemy ; and
did not take their baggage off their cattle. When they per-
ceived that Caesar's camp was pitched, and the tents fixed up,
and his horse sent out to forage, they suddenly rushed out about
twelve o'clock the same day, and, having hopes that AVC should
be delayed by the absence of our horse, they began to march,
Avhich Caesar perceiving, followed them with the legions that
remained. He left a few cohorts to guard his baggage, and
ordered the foragers to be called home at the tenth hour, 1 and
the horse to follow him. The horse shortly returned to their
daily duty on march, and charged the rear so vigorously, that
they almost forced them to fly ; and several privates and some
centurions were killed. The main body of Caesar's army was
at hand, and universal ruin threatened them.

CHAP. LXXXI. Then indeed, not having opportunity
either to choose a convenient position for their camp, or to
march forward, they were obliged to halt, and to encamp at a
distance from water, and on ground naturally unfavorable.
But for the reasons already given, Caesar did not attack them,
nor suffer a tent to be pitched that day, that his men might
be the readier to pursue them whether they attempted to run
off by night or by day. Observing the defect in their position,
they spent the whole night in extending their work, and turning
their camp to ours. The next day, at dawn, they do the same,
and spend the whole day in that manner, but in proportion as
they advanced their works, and extended their camp, they
were further distant from the water ; and one evil was remedied
by another. The first night, no one went out for water. The
next day, they left a guard in the camp, and led out all their
forces to water : but not a person was sent to look for forage.
Caesar was more desirous that they should be humbled by
these means, and forced to come to terms, than decide the
contest by battle. Yet he endeavored to surround them with
a wall and trench, that he might be able to check their most
sudden sally, to which he imagined that they must have
recourse. Hereupon, urged by want of fodder, that they might
be the readier for a march, they killed all their baereraere



1 Four o'clock.

CHAP. Lrxnv. THE CIVIL "WAR. 287

CHAP. LXXXII. In this work, and the deliberations on
it, two days were spent. By the third day a considerable part
of Caesar's work was finished. To interrupt his progress,
they drew out their legions about the eighth hour, 1 by a
certain signal, and placed them in order of battle before their
camp. Caesar calling his legions off from their work, and order-
ing the horse to hold themselves in readiness, marshaled
his army : for to appear to decline an engagement contrary to
the opinion of the soldiers and the general voice, would have
been attended with great disadvantage. But for the reasons
already known, he was dissuaded from wishing to engage, and
the more especially, because the short space between the
camps, even if the enemy were put to flight, would riot con-
tribute much to a decisive victory; for the two camps were
not distant from each other above two thousand feet. Two
parts of this were occupied by the armies, and one third left
for the soldiers to charge and make their attack. If a battle
should be begun, the nearness of the camps would afford a
ready retreat to the conquered party in the flight. For this
reason Caesar had resolved to make resistance if they attacked
him, but not to be the first to provoke the battle.

CHAP. LXXXIII. Afranius's five legions were drawn up
in two lines, the auxiliary cohorts formed the third line, and
acted as reserves. Caesar had three lines, four cohorts out of
each of the five legions formed the first line. Three more
from each legion followed them, as reserves : and three others
were behind these. The slingers and archers were stationed
in the center of the line ; the cavalry closed the flanks. The
hostile armies being arranged in this manner, each seemed
determined to adhere to his first intention : Caesar not to hazard
a battle, unless forced to it ; Afranius to interrupt Caesar's
works. However, the matter was deferred, and both armies
kept under arms till sunset ; when they both returned to their
camp. The next day Caesar prepared to finish the works
which he had begun. The enemy attempted to pass the
river Segre by a ford. Caesar, having perceived this, sent
some light armed Germans and a party of horse across the
river, and disposed several parties along the banks to guard

CHAP. LXXXIV. At length, beset on all sides, their cattle

* About 2 o'clock.


having been four days without fodder, and having no water,
wood, or corn, they beg a conference; and that, if possible,
in a place remote from the soldiers. When this was refused by
Caesar, but a public interview offered if they chose it, Afra-
nius's son was given as a hostage to Caesar. They met in the
place appointed by Caesar. In the hearing of both armies,
Afranius spoke thus : " That Caesar ought not to be displeased
either with him or his soldiers, for wishing to preserve their
attachment to their general, Cneius Pompey. That they had
now sufficiently discharged their duty to him, and had suffered
punishment enough, in having endured the want of every
necessary : but now, pent up almost like wild beasts, they
were prevented from procuring water, and prevented from
walking abroad ; and were not able to bear the bodily pain or
the mental disgrace : but confessed themselves vanquished :
and begged and entreated, if there was any room left for
mercy, that they should not be necessitated to suffer the most
severe penalties." These sentiments were delivered in the
mort submissive and humble language.

CHAP. LXXXV. Caesar replied, " That either to complain
or sue for mercy became no man less than him : for that every
other person had done their duty : himself, in having declined
to engage on favorable terms, in an advantageous situation
and time, that all things tending to a peace might be totally
unembarrassed : his army, in having preserved and protected
the men whom they had in their power, notwithstanding the
injuries which they had received, and the murder of their
comrades ; and even Afranius's soldiers, who of themselves
treated about concluding a peace, by which they thought that
they would secure the lives of all. Thus, that the parties on
both sides inclined to mercy : that the generals only were
averse to peace : that they paid no regard to the laws either of
conference or truce ; and had most inhumanly put to death
ignorant persons, who were deceived by a conference : that
therefore, they had met that fate which usually befalls men
from excessive obstinacy and arrogance ; and were obliged to
have recourse, and most earnestly desire that which they had
shortly before disdained. That>for his part, he would not avail
himself of their present humiliation, or his present advantage,
to require terms by which his power might be increased, but

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 29 of 59)