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Caesar's Gallic Triumph The Battle of Alesia 52BC by Peter Inker

By Peter Inker

In fifty two B.C. at Alesia in what's now Burgundy in France Julius Caesar pulled off one of many nice feats of Roman palms. His seriously outnumbered military totally defeated the mixed forces of the Gallic tribes led by way of Vercingetorix and accomplished the Roman conquest of Gaul. The Alesia crusade, and the epic siege during which it culminated, was once certainly one of Caesar s best army achievements, and it has involved historians ever for the reason that.

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More important were the allied light troops who were drawn from Mediterranean regions Rome had long been in contact with and with whom they had the closest relations. These troops were customarily raised for the duration of a campaign, which sometimes led the Romans themselves to questions their allies’ quality and commitment. Allied formations were usually under the control of an individual unit’s chief, and were armed, equipped and fought in the particular unit’s traditional style. Usually the allied contingent of the Roman army was of equal or larger size than the legionary force and was usually formed along Roman lines.

Caesar would often bestow on his soldiers a promotion as part of the system of rewards, especially for centurions. At Alesia Caesar’s handing over of slaves and booty to his soldiers after the defeat of Vercingetorix is a clear example of this. To this was added the spoils of war, along with donativa, one-off payments made by the general in gratitude of service. After the Alesia Campaign, Caesar decided to double the pay to ensure the loyalty of his soldiers for the coming civil wars. The remaining archaeological evidence from Alesia is confined to the siegeworks themselves.

In fact, when one considers that it was usual for Roman legionaries to build a camp at the end of the day’s march, the building of these fortifications seems well within the capabilities of the average soldier. In truth, the greater task would have been the logistics of the operation, including the planning, design, organization, supply and implementation of the construction. However, this is where the Roman military machine came into its own. If the defences at Alesia are exceptional, this is only because the management of the army was exceptional and equal to the Herculean task.

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