Monday, 19 March 2012

...About the Battle of Alesia

I posted something about Julius Caesar just the other day and I probably will again. Ancient Rome is my favourite period in history and I can't get enough of the stuff. So further reading about Caesar led to a battle he once led that essentially gave him all of Europe. The Battle of Alesia was fought in Gaul (modern day France) against the many celtic tribes that lived in the area. When Caesar first entered Gaul he defeated any opposition with ease. The tribes of Gaul were scattered and had no military discipline or tactics to speak of. At one point they realized that if they banded together under one commander, their superior numbers would defeat the Romans.

If we were friends I'd call him Julie
A man called Vercingetorix led the tribes and successfully harassed the Roman army making progress in his campaign. The Romans persisted though and managed to push the tribes back to the hold of Alesia. As Vercingetorix retreated he burned everything he came across, aka a Scorched Earth policy. Farms, lands, forests, and animals didn't stand a chance. His plan was that once he reached Alesia he could stay inside its walls and eat the food saved on the inside while the Romans starved outside. He didn't destroy everything though, and the Romans managed to find food, however scarce. Alesia stood atop a large hill, and to either side of it ran two river valleys. To take it meant crossing at least one river, climbing the hill, then scaling the walls, all with horses and equipment weighing you down. It was clear the wait was on.
Easy peasy

To bide the time, Caesar ordered his troops to surround the hill with an 8 foot high, 18 km around, wall complete with guard towers every 80 meters. During construction, Vercingetorix would periodically send his cavalry to attack the Romans building the wall. But it kept going up. On top of the wall, the Roman also built two ditches which were 20 feet across and 20 feet deep. He used the river to flood them and added caltrops and wooded spikes on the bottom for good measure. In a last ditch effort before the wall was finished Mr. V sent some troops for help. Caesar then built another wall to keep the oncoming help away. sum up.....The Romans were now between two giant walls keeping their enemy in one and out of the other.

Between a rock and a French place.
At last Vercingetorix's help came. As they attacked the outmost wall, Vercingetorix open up the gates and had his men attack the inner wall. The Romans were outnumbered 4 to 1 and morale was low. To rally the troops, Caesar donned his great red cloak and led the men himself to battle. The wall did its job, but had just one flaw. The Romans couldn't close the wall where it met the river and the Gauls tried to get in that way. And like a scene from 300 they all funnelled in to their slaughter. The Romans would win and Vercingetorix would surrender. Apparently the only reasons why the Romans accepted a surrender was because the men were too exhausted from killing to kill.

My bad, bro.
The last major obsticle had been taken away. Julius Caesar was free to conquor the continent. What's funny is that Rome would not grant Julius his victory parade through Rome for his achievment. He was so pissed that he marched back to Rome and started a civil war (which he won) and his continued lust for power led to his death. Some of the conspiritors of his murder actually fought with him at Alesia and so did Marc Antony.

Their names aren't even spelled the same. C'mon Google...

And that is what I learned today.

-18th century uses for vinegar
-An iPod can hold about $8 billion worth of illegal downloads.
-Where the term 'Luck of the Irish' came from

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