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DETAILED DESCRIPTION: BIRBRACTE - FIRST BATTLE OF THE GALLIC WARS - 58 BC Julius Caesar stands in the front ranks of his army, wielding Gladius and shield, fighting on foot, side by side with his veteran soldiers of Legio X Equestris. The disciplined ranks of the tenth legion push the attacking Helvetii warriors back down the slopes of the French hillside.
The Helvetii are Celtic people from southern Germany who have been pushed out of their homelands by Germanic tribes into southern Switzerland. Now, under the leadership of their chief, Oigetorix, they have left Switzerland, vowing never to return and instead advance on Gaul. Julius Caesar is sent by Rome to stop this huge migration into Gallic territory (then "friends" of Rome). The opposing armies finally face one another near the Aronne River in southern Burgundy near the present day town of Amercy. Caesar's army takes the high ground. Julius stations his 4 legions in three distinct lines, each eight men deep. His auxiliary cohorts are kept in reserve. Knowing that this may be a desperate fight, Caesar commands all his officers' horses to be sent to the rear to prevent flight. Wearing his distinctive red cape and boots, the 42 year old general places himself at the head of his army, right in the thick of the action! This will be the first major battle of what will be come known as the Gallic Wars.
Early in the afternoon the Helvetii hordes charge up the hill towards the wall of Roman shields. Legionaries hurl their javelins at the oncoming barbarians and stop them in their tracks! Metal tips of Roman spears buckle on impact making it virtually impossible for a man to remove the long shaft from its target. At this crucial moment the Helvetii are therefore obliged to discard their now cumbersome, penetrated shields, as they draw near for hand-to-hand combat. Drawing their short swords, the legionaries stab and cut their way into the Helvetii masses using their own shields to protect themselves from the blows of the longer Celtic swords and axes and missiles.
Now forced back, the Helvetii attempt, albeit, in vain, to out flank their opponents. The sustained Roman counterattack pushes them even further back down the slopes. The retreating Helvetii, face certain death or lifelong slavery at the hands of the Romans. They fall back upon their wagons on a nearby hill to in an attempt to fortify them against the continued Roman onslaught. The Romans are determined to win a complete victory and press home their assault. By nightfall they have penetrated the enemy camp, slaughtering all who cannot manage to escape. Four thousand Helvetii men, women and children perish by the sword, the rest fall upon the mercy of Rome.
The decisive and bloody victory at Bibracte enhances Caesars military reputation but also advances his ambition to place all of Gaul under Roman rule. This battle is only the beginning!
CUSTOMER QUOTES: (image was used as cover for MILITARY HISTORY MAGAZINE, February 2004)
"Hi Military History! I just wanted to write and let you personally know how much I enjoyed your February issue especially the story by Robert Barr Smith, Avenging Cawnpore. But the real reason I'm writing is b/c I wanted to compliment you on the extraordinary cover art in this issue. The artwork on the cover of Caesar in the midst of battle was awe-inspiring and so real to life, very lifelike and stunning! Whoever the artist is please forward these comments to him and I hope to see more of the artist work in the future on your respectable magazine.This is probably the first time I've ever purchased a copy of your magazine without perusing thru the pages to see what was inside and whether or not it was of interest to me. Great cover! Great writing!" V. TUCKER
GAIUS JULIUS CAESAR: The Battle of Bibracte, 58 B.C. Ancient Roman History Masterpiece Giclee Canvas Reproduction by Mark Churms and Fine Art Print on quality paper stock published by MarkChurms.com available.