Gallic, II/11 (400BC- 50BC)

DBA list:
1x 3/4 Wb or LCh (General): Vercingetorix
2x LCh or 3Cv
8x 3Wb
1x 2Ps

"A single and united Gaul, all of the same mind, can defy the universe"... Vercingetorix

Vercingetorix (72 BC – 46 BC) ,son of Celtillus, was a chieftain of the Arverni who led the great Gallic war against Roman imperialism in 52 BC. His name in Gaulish means "over-king of the warrriors". Vercingetorix raised an army, took Gergovia and was hailed as king. He then made alliances with other tribes, and was unanimously given supreme command over the tribes. He adopted the policy of retreating to fortified positions against the Romans, and used a "scorched earth strategy" by burning towns to prevent the Roman legions from foraging.

In attempting to quell the revolt, Caesar and his chief lieutenant Titus Labienus captured the Bituriges' tribal capital at Avaricum (Bourges), killing the entire population of 40,000. The next major battle at Gergovia resulted in a victory for Vercingetorix. Caesar’s army was put to flight and only a fierce rearguard action prevented their total annihilation. Caesar remarked of the debacle: "Our losses that day amounted to nearly 700". This was the first time that Caesar had suffered a defeat, and the only time he was defeated by a Celt. When Vercingetorix thought Caesar was in retreat he moved to attack Caesar's marching army while it was undeployed for formal battle. The attack might have succeeded, but his undisciplined soldiers attacked prematurely and lost the element of surprise. Despite this the Romans suffered heavy losses compared to the Gauls. After defeating the Gallic forces near Divio, Caesar followed the retreating army to the fortified town of Alesia.

In the Battle of Alesia, Caesar decided to starve out the defenders and built a fortification around the city, and manned it with 60,000 Roman legionaries. The wall, verified by excavations in the 19th century, was estimated to be over 13 miles (22 km) long. However, because he himself was surrounded by the rest of hostile Gaul, and Vercingetorix had summoned his Gallic allies to attack the besieging Romans, Caesar built another outer fortification against the expected relief armies. This similar wall, facing towards the exterior of the city, was 15 miles long. By now, the food in the town had been exhausted, and it was determined that all those who could not fight were to be turned out. The inhabitants of Alesia were forced to leave the town together with their wives and children. Starving, they pleaded with the Romans on the surrounding walls to take them in as slaves, but they were refused any help and left to die of hunger between the two armies.

The expected relief came in large numbers. There were an estimated 100,000 soldiers (although Caesar claimed there were 250,000). Vercingetorix was cut off from them on the inside, and without his guidance the attacks were initially unsuccessful. However, the attacks did reveal a weak point in the fortifications and the combined forces on the inside and the outside almost made a breakthrough. Only when Caesar led the last reserves into battle in person did he finally manage to win. As a reward Caesar's men each received one Gallic slave in addition to monetary spoils of war. In Rome, a twenty-day thanksgiving (supplicatio) was declared for victory at Alesia. Any remaining resistance within Gaul was crushed, and Caesar spent the rest of the year 51 BC assuring the loyalty of the rest of the tribes. The legions were once again spread throughout Gaul to prevent further uprisings, but this time all of Gaul was exhausted and had lost the will to fight.

After Vercingetorix surrendered at Alesia, he was imprisoned in the Tullianum in Rome for five years, before being publicly displayed in Caesar's triumph in 46 BC. He was executed after the triumph. Two years later, Caesar himself was murdered.

 

This coin shows Vercingetorix and a Gallic chariot on the reverse

 

Click here to see the army pictures.

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