Battle of Vosges (58 BC)
|Battle of Vosges|
|Part of the Gallic Wars|
|Roman Republic||Germanic Suebi tribe|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Gaius Julius Caesar||Ariovistus|
|about 30,000+ men (6 legions with cavalry and auxiliaries)||c70,000 German warriors|
|Casualties and losses|
|6,000 killed or wounded||about 35,000 killed|
The Battle of Vosges was fought between the Germanic tribe of the Suebi under the leadership of Ariovistus against six Roman legions under the command of Gaius Julius Caesar in 58 BC. This encounter is the third major battle of the Gallic Wars. Germanic tribes crossed the Rhine, seeking a home in Gaul. The main Gallic rebellion had not started yet, as it was in 52 BC.
Prior to the battle, Caesar and Ariovistus held a parley. Ariovistus' cavalry cast stones and weapons at the Roman cavalry. Caesar broke off negotiations and instructed his men not to retaliate to prevent the Suebi from claiming they were induced into a trap by their accepting an opportunity to talk.
Caesar led his forces forward in the standard three line formation. Observing that the German left was the weaker part of their line he concentrated his forces there. The Germans attacked in several columns, moving so swiftly that there was no time for the Romans to hurl their pila and battle was fought proximally, with swords. A fierce struggle occurred in which the German left was broken after a stiff fight.
On the other flank, the Roman left nearly cracked under severe pressure until reinforced by Publius Licinius Crassus, the son of Marcus Licinius Crassus who later died in action against the Parthians at Carrhae. In command of the reserve cavalry, Crassus had the opportunity to move around the battlefield. Seeing the left wing in peril, Crassus led forward reserves from the third line, which first blunted and then broke the German attack.
Overwhelmed on both flanks, the Germanic tribesmen then fled for the Rhine closely pursued by the Romans. This 15-mile pursuit took a heavy toll on the escaping Suebi. Ariovistus was driven back over the Rhine, which he would never cross again.
Caesar had for the moment secured his German border. Caesar did not stop there. He chased them into Germania, building a bridge across the Rhine in only 10 days.
- Caesar, Julius, De bello gallico, caes.gal.1.43
- Gaius Iulius Caesar: The conquest of Gaul, ISBN 0-14-044433-5, translated by S. A. Handford and revised by Jane F. Gardner
- Adrian Goldsworthy: In the name of Rome, ISBN 0-7538-1789-6
- Philip Matyszak: The enemies of Rome, ISBN 0-500-25124-X
- Tom Holland: Rubicon, ISBN 0-385-50313-X
- For the name of the battle: http://www.fanaticus.org/DBA/battles/vosges.html
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