Julius Caesar.

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

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cheerfulness that appeared in their general's countenance ; for
he was of an intrepid spirit, and behaved with undaunted
resolution and confidence. On his conduct, therefore, they
entirely relied, and hoped to a man, that by his skill and
talents, all difficulties would vanish before them.

CHAP. XI. Csesar, having continued the whole night on
board, prepared to set sail about day-break ; when, all on a
sudden, the part of the fleet that had caused so much anxiety,
appeared unexpectedly in view. Wherefore, ordering his men
to quit their ships immediately, and receive the rest of the
troops in arms upon the shore, he made the new fleet enter
the port with the utmost diligence ; and landing all the forces,
horse and foot, returned again to Ruspina. Here he estab-
lished his camp ; and taking with him thirty cohorts, without
baggage, advanced into the country to forage. Thus was
Caesar's purpose at length discovered : that he meant, unknown
to the enemy, to have sailed to the assistance of the transports
that had missed their way, lest they should unexpectedly fall in
with the African fleet. And he did not wish his own soldiers
who were left behind in garrison to know this, lest they should
be intimidated by the smallness of their numbers, and the
multitude of the enemy.

CHAP. XII. Caesar had not marched above three miles
from his camp, when he was informed by his scouts, and some
advanced parties of horse, that the enemy's forces were in
view. As soon as this announcement was made, a great cloud
of dust began to appear. Upon this intelligence, Cassar ordered
all his horse, of which he had at that time but a very small
number, to advance, as likewise his archers, only a few of
whom had followed him from the camp ; and the legions to
march quietly after him in order of battle ; while he went for-
ward at the head of a small party. Soon after, having dis-
covered the enemy at some distance, he commanded the


soldiers to repair to their arms, and prepare for battle. Their
number in all did not exceed thirty cohorts, with four hundred
horse, and one hundred and fifty archers.

CHAP. XIII. Meanwhile the enemy, under the command
of Labienus, and the two Pacidii, drew up, with a very large
front, consisting not so much of foot as of horse, whom they
intermixed with light-armed Numidians and archers ; forming
themselves in such close order, that Caesar's army, at a distance,
mistook them all for infantry ; and strengthening their right
and left with many squadrons of horse. Caesar drew up his
army in a single line, being obliged to do so by the smallness of
his numbers ; covering his front with his archers, and placing
his cavalry on the right and left wings, with particular instruc-
tions not to suffer themselves to be surrounded by the enemy's
numerous horse ; for he imagined that he would have to fight
only with infantry.

CHAP. XIV. As both sides stood in expectation of the sig-
nal, and Caesar would not stir from his post, as he saw that
with such few troops against so great a force he must depend
more on stratagem than strength, on a sudden the enemy's
horse began to extend themselves, and move in a lateral di-
rection, so as to encompass the hills and weaken Caesar's
horse, and at the same time to surround them. The latter
could scarcely keep their ground against their numbers.
Meanwhile, both the main bodies advancing to engage, the
enemy's cavalry, intermixed with some light-armed Numidians,
suddenly sprang forward, from their crowded troops, and
attacked the legions with a shower of darts. Our men, pre-
paring to return the charge, their horse retreated a little,
while the foot continued to maintain their ground, till the
others, having rallied, came on again, with fresh vigor, to sus-
tain them.

CHAP. XV Caesar perceived that his ranks were in dan-
ger of being broken by this new way of fighting, for our foot,
in pursuing the enemy's horse, having advanced a considerable
way beyond their colors, were wounded in the flank by the
nearest Numidian darts, while the enemy's horse easily
escaped our infantry's javelins by flight ; he therefore gave
express orders that no soldier should advance above four feet
beyond the ensigns. Meanwhile, Labienus's cavalry, confiding
in their numbers, endeavored to surround those of Caesar :


who being few in number, and overpowered by the multitude
of the enemy, were forced to give ground a little, their
horses being much wounded. The enemy pressed on more
and more ; so that in an instant, the legions, being sur-
rounded on all sides by the enemy's cavalry, were obliged to
form themselves into a circle, and fight, as if inclosed with

CHAP. XVI. Labienus, with his head uncovered, advanced
on horseback to the front of the battle, sometimes encourag-
ing his own men, sometimes addressing Caesar's legions thus :
" So ho ! you raw soldiers there !" says he, " why so fierce 1
Has he infatuated you too with his words? Truly he has
brought you into a fine condition ! I pity you sincerely."
Upon this, one of the soldiers said : " I am none of your raw
warriors, Labienus, but a veteran of the tenth legion." " Where's
your standard ?" replied Labienus. " I'll soon make you sen-
sible who I am," answered the soldier. Then pulling oft' his
helmet, to discover himself, he threw a javelin, with all his
rtrcngth at Labienus, which wounding his horse severely in the
breast " Know, Labienus," says he, " that this dart was thrown
by a soldier of the tenth legion." However, the whole army
was not a little daunted, especially the new levies ; and began
to cast their eyes upon Caesar, minding nothing, for the present,
but to defend themselves from the enemy's darts.

CHAP. XVII. Caesar meanwhile, perceiving the enemy's de-
sign, endeavored to extend his line of battle, as much as possible,
directing the cohorts to face about alternately to the right and
left. By this means, he broke the enemy's circle with his right
and left wings ; and attacking one part of them, thus separated
from the other, with his horse and foot, at last put them to
flight. He pursued them but a little way, fearing an ambus-
cade, and returned again to his own men. The same was done
by the other division of Caesar's horse and foot, so that the ene-
my being driven back, and severely wounded on all sides, he
retreated toward his camp, in order of battle.

CHAP. XVIII. Meantime M. Petreius, and Cn. Piso, with
eleven hundred select Numidian horse, and a considerable
body of foot, arrived to the assistance of the enemy; who,
recovering from their terror, upon this reinforcement, and
again resuming courage, fell upon the rear of the legions, as
retreated, and endeavored to hinder them from reaching


their camp. Caesar, perceiving this, ordered his men to wheel
about, and renew the battle in the middle of the plain. As
the enemy still pursued their former plan, and avoided a
closing engagement, and the horses of Caesar's cavalry had not
yet recovered the fatigue of their late voyage, and were besides
weakened with thirst, weariness, wounds, and of course unfit for
a vigorous and long pursuit, which even the time of the day
would not allow, he ordered both horse and foot to fall at once
briskly upon the enemy, and not slacken the pursuit till they
had driven them quite beyond the furthest hills, and taken pos-
session of them themselves. Accordingly, upon a signal being
given, when the enemy were throwing their javelins in a faint
and careless manner, he suddenly charged them with his horse
and foot ; who in a moment driving them from the field, and
over the adjoining hill, kept possession of that post for some
time, and then retired slowly, in order of battle, to their camp.
The enemy, who, in this last attack, had been vary roughly
handled, then at length retreated to their fortifications.

CHAP. XIX. Meanwhile the action being over, a great
number of deserters, of all kinds, flocked to Caesar's camp,
besides multitudes of horse and foot that were made prisoners.
From them we learned that it was the design of the enemy to
have astonished our raw troops, with their new and uncommon
manner of fighting ; and after surrounding them with their
cavalry, to have cut them to pieces, as they had done Curio ;
and that they had marched against us expressly with that
intention. Labienus had even said, in the council of war, that
he would lead such a numerous body of auxiliaries against his
adversaries, as should fatigue us with the very slaughter, and
defeat us even in the bosom of victory ; for he relied more on
the number than the valor of his troops. He had heard of
the mutiny of the veteran legions at Rome, and their refusal
to go into Africa ; and was likewise well assured of the fidelity
of his troops, who had served three years under him in Africa.
He had a great number of Numidian cavalry and light-armed
troops, besides the Gallic and German horse, whom he had
drawn together out of the remains of Pompey's army, and car-
ried over with him from Brundusium : he had likewise the freed-
men raised in the country, and trained to use bridled horses;
and also the immense number of Juba's forces, his hundred and
twenty elephants, his innumerable cavalry and legionariea,



amounting to above twelve thousand. Emboldened by the hope
such mighty forces raised in him, on the day before the nones
of January, three days after Caesar's arrival, he came against
him, with sixteen hundred Gallic and German horse, nine hun-
dred under Petrous, eight thousand Numidians, four times that
number of light-armed foot, with a multitude of archers and
slingers. The battle lasted from the fifth hour till sun set, dur-
ing which time Petreius, receiving a dangerous wound, was
obliged to quit the field.

CHAP. XX. Meantime Caesar fortified his camp with much
greater care, reinforced the guards, and threw up two intrench-
ments; one from Ruspina quite to the sea, the other from his
camp to the sea likewise, to secure the communication, and
receive supplies without danger. He landed a great number
of darts and military engines, armed part of the mariners,
Gauls, Khodians, and others, that after the example of the
enemy he might have a number of light-armed troops to inter-
mix with his cavalry. He likewise strengthened his army with
a great number of Syrian and Iturean archers whom he drew
from the fleet into his camp : for he understood that within
three days Scipio was expected to unite his forces to Labienus
and Petreius, and his army was said to consist of eight legions
and three thousand horse. At the same time he established
workshops, made a great number of darts and arrows, provided
himself with leaden bullets and palisades, wrote to Sicily for
hurdles and wood to make rams, because he had none in Africa,
and likewise gave orders for sending corn ; for the harvest in
that country was like to be inconsiderable, the enemy having
taken all the laborers into their service the year before, and
stored up the grain in a few fortified towns, after demolishing
the rest, forcing the inhabitants into the garrisoned places, and
exhausting the whole country.

CHAP. XXL In this necessity, by paying court to private
individuals, he obtained a small supply, and husbanded it with
care. In the mean time he went round the works in person
daily, and kept about four cohorts constantly on duty, on ac-
count of the multitude of the enemy. Labienus sent his sick
and wounded, of which the number was very considerable, in
wagons to Adrumetum. Meanwhile Caesar's transports, unac-
quainted with the. coast, or where their general had landed
wandered up and down in great uncertainty ; and being,

CHAP, xxiii. THE AFRICAN "WAR. . 435

attacked, one after another, by the enemy's coasters, were, for the
most part, either taken or burned. Caesar, being informed of
this, stationed his fleet along the coast and islands for the secu-
rity of his convoys.

CHAP. XXII. Meanwhile M. Cato, 1 who commanded in
Utica, never ceased urging and exhorting young Pompey, in
words to this effect : " Your father, when he was at your age,
and observed the commonwealth oppressed by wicked and
daring men, and the party of order either slain or driven into
banishment from their country and relations, incited by the
greatness of his mind and the love of glory, though then very
young, and only a private man, had yet the courage to rally
the remains of his father's army, and assert the freedom of
Italy and Rome, which was almost crushed forever. He also
recovered Sicily, Africa, Numidia, Mauritania, with amazing
dispatch, and by that means gained an illustrious and exten-
sive reputation among all nations, and triumphed while very
young and only a Roman knight. Nor did he enter upon the
administration of public affairs, distinguished by the shining
exploits of his father, or the fame and reputation of his an-
cestors, or the honors and dignities of the state. Will you, on
the contrary, possessed of these honors, and the reputation
acquired by your father, sufficiently distinguished by your own
industry and greatness of mind, not bestir yourself, join your
father's friends, and give the earnestly required assistance to
yourself, the republic, and every man of worth ?"

CHAP. XXIIL The youth, roused by the remonstrances
of that grave and worthy senator, got together about thirty
sail, of all sorts, of which some few were ships of war, and sail-
ing from Utica to Mauritania, invaded the kingdom of Bogud.
And leaving his baggage behind him, with an army of two

1 After the battle of Pharsalia, Cato fled into Africa, where he still
possessed great influence among Pompey's party. When the command
of the army in Africa was offered him, he would not accept it, as he con-
sidered that it ought to be conferred on Scipio, who was then proconsul.
The appointment of Scipio to the supreme command was a fatal measure
for Pompey's partisans, and contributed in a great measure to their sub-
sequent defeat. Cato employed all his time and talents in fortifying
Utica, and earnestly advised Scipio and the other generals to avoid
coming to an action with Caesar. The neglect of his advice led to the
ruin and total overthrow of his party.


thousand men, partly freedmen, partly slaves, some armed, some
not, approached the town of Ascurum, in which the king had a
garrison. On the arrival of Pompey, the inhabitants suffered
him to advance to the very walls and gates ; when, suddenly
sallying out, they drove back his troops in confusion and dismay
to the sea and their ships. This ill-success determined him to
leave that coast, nor did he afterward land in any place, but
steered directly for the Balearean Isles.

CHAP. XXIV. Meantime Scipio, leaving a strong garrison
at Utica, began his march, with the forces we have described
above, and encamped first at Adrumetum; and then, after a
stay of a few days, setting out in the night, he joined Petreius
and Labienus, lodging all the forces in one camp, about three
miles distant from Caesar's. Their cavalry made continual
excursions to our very works, and intercepted those who ven-
tured too far in quest of wood or water, and obliged us to keep
within our intrenchments. This soon occasioned a great
scarcity of provision among Caesar's men, because no supplies
had yet arrived from Sicily and Sardinia. The season, too, was
dangerous for navigation, and he did not possess above six
miles in each direction, in Africa, and was moreover greatly
distressed for want of forage. The veteran soldiers and cavalry,
who had been engaged in many wars both by sea and land, and
often struggled with wants and misfortunes of this kind, gather-
ing sea-weed, and washing it in fresh water, by that means sub-
sisted their horses and cattle.

CHAP. XXV. While things were in this situation, king
Juba, being informed of Caesar's difficulties, and the few troops
he had with him, resolved not to allow him time to remedy
his wants or increase his forces. Accordingly he left his
kingdom, at the head of a large body of horse and foot, and
marched to join his allies. Meantime P. Sitius, and king
Bogud, having intelligence of Juba's march, joined their forces,
entered Numidia, and laying siege to Cirta, the most opulent
city in the county, carried it in a few days, with two others
belonging to the Getulians. They had offered the inhabitants
leave to depart in safety, if they would peaceably deliver up
the town ; but these conditions being rejected, they were taken
by storm, and the citizens all put to the sword. They con-
tinued to advance, and incessantly harassed the cities and
country ; of which Juba having intelligence, though he was

CHAP, xxvii. THE AFRICAN "WAR 43 ?

upon the point of joining Scipio and the other chiefs, deter-
mined that it was better to march to the relief of his own king-
dom, than run the hazard of being driven from it while he was
assisting others, and, perhaps, after all, miscarry too in his de-
signs against Caesar. He therefore retired, with his troops,
leaving only thirty elephants behind him, and marched to die
relief of his own cities and territories.

CHAP. XXVI. Meanwhile Caesar, as there was a doubt in
the province concerning his arrival, and no one believed that he
had come in person, but that some of his lieutenants had come
over with the forces lately sent, dispatched letters to all the
several states, to inform them of his presense. Upon this,
many persons of rank fled to his camp, complaining of the
barbarity and cruelty of the enemy. Caesar deeply touched by
their tears and complaints, although before he had remained
inactive, resolved to take the field as soon as the weather would
permit, and he could draw his troops together. He immediately
dispatched letters into Sicily, to Allienus and Rabirius Postumus
the praetors [to tell them] that without delay or excuse, either
of the winter or the winds, they must send over the rest of the
troops, to save Africa from utter ruin ; because, without some
speedy remedy, not a single house would be left standing, nor
any thing escape the fury and ravages of the enemy. And he
himself was so anxious and impatient, that from the day the
letters were sent, he complained without ceasing of the delay
of the fleet, and had his eyes night and day turned toward the
sea. Nor was it wonderful ; for he saw the villages burned,
the country laid waste, the cattle destroyed, the towns plundered,
the principal citizens either slain or put in chains, and their
children dragged into servitude under the name of hostages ;
nor could he, amid all this scene of misery, afford any relief
to those who implored his protection, on account of the small
number of his forces. In the mean time he kept the soldiers,
incessantly at work upon the intrenchments, built forts and
redoubts, and carried on his lines quite to the sea.

CHAP. XXVH. Meanwhile Scipio made use of the following
contrivance for training and disciplining his elephants. He
drew up two parties in order of battle ; one of slingers, who
were to act as enemies, and discharge small stones against the
elephants : and fronting them, the elephants themselves, ip
one line, and his whole army behind him in battle-array ;


that when the enemy, by their discharge of stones, had
frightened the elephants, and forced them to turn upon their
own men, they might again be made to face the enemy, by the
volleys of stones from the army behind them. The work how-
ever, went on but slowly, because these animals, after many
years' training, are dangerous to both parties when brought into
the field.

CHAP. XXVIII. While the two generals were thus employ-
ed near Ruspina, C. Virgilius, a man of praetorian rank, who
commanded in Thapsus, a maritime city, observing some of
Caesar's transports that had missed their way, uncertain where
Caesar had landed or held his camp ; and thinking that a fair
opportunity offered of destroying them, manned a galley that
was in the port with soldiers and archers, and joining with it
a few armed barks, began to pursue Caesar's ships. Though he
was repulsed on several occasions he still pursued his design,
and at last fell in with one, on board of which were two young
Spaniards, of the name of Titius, who were tribunes of the fifth
legion, and whose father had been made a senator by Caesar.
There was with them a centurion of the same legion, T.
Salienus by name, who had invested the house of M. Messala,
Caesar's lieutenant, at Messana, and made use of very seditious
language ; nay, had even seized the money and ornaments des-
tined for Caesar's triumph, and for that reason dreaded his
resentment. He, conscious of his demerits, persuaded the young
men to surrender themselves to Virgilius, by whom they were
sent under a strong guard to Scipio, and three days after put to
death. It is said, that the elder Titius begged of the centurions
who were charged with the execution, that he might be first
put to death ; which being easily granted, they both suffered
according to their sentence.

CHAP. XXIX. The cavalry that mounted guard in the two
camps were continually skirmishing with one another. Some-
times too the German and Gallic cavalry of Labienus entered
into discourse with those of Caesar, after promising not to injure
one another. Meantime Labienus, with a party of horse,
endeavored to surprise the town of Leptis, which Saserna
guarded with three cohorts; but was easily repulsed, because
the town was strongly fortified, and well provided with warlike
engines ; he however renewed the attempt several times. One
flay, as a strong squadron of the enemy had posted themselves


before the gate, their officer being slain by an arrow discharged
from a cross-bow, and pinned to his own shield, the rest were
terrified and took to flight ; by which means the town was
delivered from any further attempts.

CHAP. XXX. At the same time Scipio daily drew up his
troops in order of battle, about three hundred paces from his
camp ; and after continuing in arms the greatest part of. the day,
retreated again to his camp in the evening. This he did several
times, no one mean while offering to stir out of Caesar's camp,
or approach his forces ; which forbearance and tranquillity gave
him such a contempt of Caesar and his army, that drawing out
all his forces, and his thirty elephants, with towers on their
backs, and extending his horse and foot as wide as possible, he
approached quite up to Caesar's intrenchments.

CHAP. XXXI. Upon perceiving this, Caesar, quietly, and
without noise or confusion, recalled to his camp all that were
gone out either in quest of forage, wood, or to work upon the
fortifications : he likewise ordered the cavalry that were upon
guard not to quit their post until the enemy were within reach
of dart ; and if they then persisted in advancing, to retire in
good order within the intrenchments. He ordered the rest of
the cavalry to be ready and armed, each in his own place.
These orders were not given by himself in person, or after
-dewing the disposition of the enemy from the rampart ; but
such was his consummate knowledge of the art of war, that he
gave all the necessary directibns by his officers, he himself sit-
ting in his tent, and informing himself of the motions of the
enemy by his scouts. He very well knew, that, whatever con-
fidence the enemy might have in their numbers, they would yet
never dare to attack the camp of a general who had so often re-
pulsed, terrified, and put them to flight; who had frequently
pardoned and granted them their lives ; and whose very name
had weight and authority enough to intimidate their army. He
was besides well intrenched with a high rampart and deep
ditch, the approaches to which were rendered so difficult by the
sharp spikes which he had disposed in a very skillful manner, that
they were even sufficient of themselves to keep off the enemy.
He had also a large supply of cross-bows, engines, and all sorts
of weapons necessary for a vigorous defense, which he had pre-
pared on account of the fewness of his troops, and the in-
experience of his new levies. It was not owing to being


influenced by the fear of the enemy or their numerical strength,
that he allowed himself to appear daunted in their estimation.
And it was not owing to his having any doubts of gaining the

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 44 of 59)