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Ancient Sources on the Marching Camp
Topic: Ancient Sources on the Marching Camp (Read 2403 times)
I am the last one on the right!
Ancient Sources on the Marching Camp
April 20, 2011, 10:41:08 AM »
"caes.gal.6.37": [6.37] At this very time, the German horse by chance came up, and immediately, with the same speed with which they had advanced, attempt to force the camp at the Decuman gate, nor were they seen, in consequence of woods lying in the way on that side, before they were just reaching the camp:
so much so, that the sutlers who had their booths under the rampart had not an opportunity of retreating within the camp
. Our men, not anticipating it, are perplexed by the sudden affair, and the cohort on the outpost scarcely sustains the first attack.
"caes.gal.7.40": [7.40] Caesar felt great anxiety on this intelligence, because he had always especially indulged the state of the Aedui, and, without any hesitation, draws out from the camp four light-armed legions and all the cavalry:
nor had he time, at such a crisis, to contract the camp
, because the affair seemed to depend upon dispatch. He leaves Caius Fabius, his lieutenant, with two legions to guard the camp.
"caes.gal.7.41": [7.41] Caesar, after sending messengers to the state of the Aedui, to inform them that they whom he could have put to death by the right of war were spared through his kindness, and after giving three hours of the night to his army for his repose, directed his march to Gergovia. Almost in the middle of the journey, a party of horse that were sent by Fabius stated in how great danger matters were, they inform him that the camp was attacked by a very powerful army, while fresh men were frequently relieving the wearied, and exhausting our soldiers by the incessant toil, since on account of the size of the camp, they had constantly to remain on the rampart; that many had been wounded by the immense number of arrows and all kinds of missiles; that the engines were of great service in withstanding them;
that Fabius, at their departure, leaving only two gates open, was blocking up the rest, and was adding breast-works to the ramparts
, and was preparing himself for a similar casualty on the following day. Caesar, after receiving this information, reached the camp before sunrise owing to the very great zeal of his soldiers.
"caes.gal.8.9": [8.9] When the Gauls, whose bold resolutions had been reported to Caesar, saw the legions advance with a regular motion, drawn up in battle array; either from the danger of an engagement, or our sudden approach, or with the design of watching our movements, they drew up their forces before the camp, and did not quit the rising ground. Though Caesar wished to bring them to battle, yet being surprised to see so vast a host of the enemy, he encamped opposite to them, with a valley between them, deep rather than extensive.
He ordered his camp to be fortified with a rampart twelve feet high, with breastworks built on it proportioned to its height and two trenches, each fifteen feet broad, with perpendicular sides to be sunk: likewise several turrets, three stories high, to be raised, with a communication to each other by galleries laid across and covered over; which should be guarded in front by small parapets of osiers; that the enemy might be repulsed by two rows of soldiers. The one of whom, being more secure from danger by their height might throw their darts with more daring and to a greater distance; the other which was nearer the enemy, being stationed on the rampart, would be protected by their galleries from darts falling on their heads. At the entrance he erected gates and turrets of a considerable height.
"caes.civ.1.41": [1.41] In two days after Caesar came to the camp with nine hundred horse, which he had retained for a body guard. The bridge which had been broken down by the storm was almost repaired, and he ordered it to be finished in the night. Being acquainted with the nature of the country, he left behind him six cohorts to guard the bridge, the camp, and all his baggage, and the next day set off in person for Ilerda, with all his forces drawn up in three lines, and halted just before the camp of Afranius, and having remained there a short time under arms, he offered him battle on equal terms. When this affair was made, Afranius drew out his forces, and posted them on the middle of a hill, near his camp. When Caesar perceived that Afranius declined coming to an engagement, he resolved to encamp at somewhat less than half a mile's distance from the very foot of the mountain; and that his soldiers while engaged in their works, might not be terrified by any sudden attack of the enemy, or disturbed in their work, he ordered them not to fortify it with a wall, which must rise high, and be seen at a distance, but draw, on the front opposite the enemy, a trench fifteen feet broad. The first and second lines confined under arms, as was from the first appointed. Behind them the third line was carrying on the work without being seen; so that the whole was completed before Afranius discovered that the camp was being fortified.
"caes.civ.1.42": [1.42] In the evening Caesar drew his legions within this trench, and rested them under arms the next night. The day following he kept his whole army within it, and as it was necessary to bring materials from a considerable distance, he for the present pursued the same plan in his work; and to each legion, one after the other, he assigned one side of the camp to fortify, and ordered trenches of the same magnitude to be cut: he kept the rest of the legions under arms without baggage to oppose the enemy. Afranius and Petreius, to frighten us and obstruct the work, drew out their forces at the very foot of the mountain, and challenged us to battle. Caesar, however, did not interrupt his work, relying on the protection of the three legions, and the strength of the fosse. After staying for a short time, and advancing no great distance from the bottom of the hill, they led back their forces to their camp. The third day Caesar fortified his camp with a rampart, and ordered the other cohorts which he had left in the upper camp, and his baggage to be removed to it.
"caes.civ.2.24": [2.24] Curio detached Marcus before with the fleet to Utica, and marched thither with his army. Having advanced two days, he came to the river Bagrada, and there left Caius Caninius Rebilus, the lieutenant, with the legions; and went forward himself with the horse to view the Cornelian camp, because that
was reckoned a very eligible position for encamping. It is a straight ridge, projecting into the sea, steep and rough on both sides, but the ascent is more gentle on that part which lies opposite Utica.
It is not more than a mile distant from Utica in a direct line. But on this road there is a spring, to which the sea comes up, and overflows; an extensive morass is thereby formed; and if a person would avoid it, he must make a circuit of six miles to reach the town.
"caes.civ.2.25": [2.25] Having examined this place, Curio got a view of
Varus's camp, joining the wall and town, at the gate called Bellica, well fortified by its natural situation, on one side by the town itself, on the other by a theater which is before the town, the approaches to the town being rendered difficult and narrow by the very extensive out-buildings of that structure.
"caes.africa.47":  About this time a most incredible accident befell Caesar's army; for the Pleiades being set, about the second watch of the night, a terrible storm arose, attended by hail of an uncommon size. But what contributed to render this misfortune the greater was, that Caesar had not, like other generals, put his troops into winter quarters, but was every three or four days changing his camp, to gain ground on the enemy; which keeping the soldiers continually employed they were utterly unprovided with any conveniences to protect them from the inclemency of the weather. Besides, he had brought over his army from Sicily with such strictness, that neither officer nor soldier had been permitted to take their equipages or utensils with them, nor so much as a vessel or a single slave; and so far had they been from acquiring or providing themselves with any thing in Africa, that, on account of the great scarcity of provisions, they had even consumed their former stores. Impoverished by these accidents, very few of them had tents; the rest had made themselves a kind of covering, either by spreading their clothes, or with mats and rushes. But these being soon penetrated by the storm and hail, the soldiers had no resource left, but wandered up and down the camp, covering their heads with their bucklers to shelter them from the violence of the weather. In a short time the whole camp was under water, the fires extinguished, and all their provisions washed away or spoiled.
The same night the shafts of the javelins belonging to the fifth legion, of their own accord, took fire
(Implication is that they were stored together, upright out of the water and perhaps hit by lightning)
"caes.gal.7.72": [7.72] Caesar, on learning these proceedings from the deserters and captives, adopted the following system of fortification; he dug a trench twenty feet deep, with perpendicular sides, in such a manner that the base of this trench should extend so far as the edges were apart at the top. He raised all his other works at a distance of four hundred feet from that ditch; [he did] that with this intention, lest (since he necessarily embraced so extensive an area, and the whole works could not be easily surrounded by a line of soldiers) a large number of the enemy should suddenly, or by night, sally against the fortifications; or lest they should by day cast weapons against our men while occupied with the works. Having left this interval, he drew two trenches fifteen feet broad, and of the same depth; the innermost of them, being in low and level ground, he filled with water conveyed from the river. Behind these he raised a rampart and wall twelve feet high; to this he added a parapet and battlements, with large stakes cut like stags' horns, projecting from the junction of the parapet and battlements, to prevent the enemy from scaling it, and surrounded the entire work with turrets, which were eighty feet distant from one another.
"caes.gal.7.73": [7.73] It was necessary, at one and the same time, to procure timber [for the rampart], lay in supplies of corn, and raise also extensive fortifications, and the available troops were in consequence of this reduced in number, since they used to advance to some distance from the camp, and sometimes the Gauls endeavored to attack our works, and to make a sally from the town by several gates and in great force. Caesar thought that further additions should be made to these works, in order that the fortifications might be defensible by a small number of soldiers. Having, therefore, cut down the trunks of trees or very thick branches, and having stripped their tops of the bark, and sharpened them into a point, he drew a continued trench every where five feet deep. These stakes being sunk into this trench, and fastened firmly at the bottom, to prevent the possibility of their being torn up, had their branches only projecting from the ground. There were five rows in connection with, and intersecting each other; and whoever entered within them were likely to impale themselves on very sharp stakes. The soldiers called these "cippi." Before these, which were arranged in oblique rows in the form of a quincunx, pits three feet deep were dug, which gradually diminished in depth to the bottom. In these pits tapering stakes, of the thickness of a man's thigh; sharpened at the top and hardened in the fire, were sunk in such a manner as to project from the ground not more than four inches; at the same time for the purpose of giving them strength and stability, they were each filled with trampled clay to the height of one foot from the bottom: the rest of the pit was covered over with osiers and twigs, to conceal the deceit. Eight rows of this kind were dug, and were three feet distant from each other. They called this a lily from its resemblance to that flower. Stakes a foot long, with iron hooks attached to them, were entirely sunk in the ground before these, and were planted in every place at small intervals; these they called spurs.
caes.civ.2.2": [2.2] But so great a store of every thing necessary for a war had been a long time before laid up in the town, and so great a number of engines, that no vineae made of hurdles could withstand their force. For poles twelve feet in length, pointed with iron, and these too shot from very large engines, sank into the ground through four rows of hurdles. Therefore the arches of the vineae were covered over with beams a foot thick, fastened together, and under this the materials of the agger were handed from one to another. Before this was carried a testudo sixty feet long, for leveling the ground, made also of very strong timber, and covered over with every thing that was capable of protecting it against the fire and stones thrown by the enemy. But the greatness of the works, the height of the wall and towers, and the multitude of engines retarded the progress of our works. Besides, frequent sallies were made from the town by the Albici, and fire was thrown on our mound and turrets. These our men easily repulsed, and, doing considerable damage to those who sallied, beat them back into the town.
"caes.civ.3.67": [3.67] Caesar's scouts brought him word that the standard of a legion was carried to this place. That the same thing was seen he was assured by those in the higher forts. This place was a half a mile distant from Pompey's new camp. Caesar, hoping to surprise this legion, and anxious to repair the loss sustained that day, left two cohorts employed in the works to make an appearance of intrenching himself, and by a different route, as privately as he could, with his other cohorts amounting to thirty-three, among which was the ninth legion, which had lost so many centurions, and whose privates were greatly reduced in number, he marched in two lines against Pompey's legion and his lesser camp. Nor did this first opinion deceive him. For he reached the place before Pompey could have notice of it; and though the works were strong, yet having made the attack with the left wing which he commanded in person, he obliged the Pompeians to quit the rampart in disorder. A barricade had been raised before the gates, at which a short contest was maintained, our men endeavoring to force their way in, and the enemy to defend the camp; Titus Pulcio, by whose means we have related that Caius Antonius's army was betrayed, defending them with singular courage. But the valor of our men prevailed, and having cut down the barricade, they first forced the greater camp, and after that the fort which was inclosed within it; and as the legion on its repulse had retired to this, they slew several defending themselves there.
"caes.spain.32":  The remains of Pompey's army retreating to Munda, with the intention of defending themselves in that town, it became necessary to invest it. The dead bodies of the enemy, heaped together, served as a rampart, and their javelins and darts were fixed up by way of palisades. Upon these we hung their bucklers to supply the place of a breastwork, and fixing the heads of the deceased upon swords and lances, planted them all around the works, to strike the greater terror into the besieged, and keep awake in them a sense of our prowess.
Josephus Jewish Wars III.5.2:
"The camp, and all that is in it, is encompassed with a wall round about, and that sooner than one would imagine, and this by the multitude and the skill of the laborers; and, if occasion require, a trench is drawn round the whole, whose depth is four cubits, and its breadth equal."
A cubit is approximately one and a half feet - so the ditches are about 5.5 feet across and deep. Note 'as occasion requires' - implying this wasn't always done!
'Pseudo-Hyginus' also describes camps (probably second to third century) in De Munitionibus Castrorum:
“The Fossa might be of two kinds, a. The Fossa fastigata, with both sides sloping, so as to form a wedge; or, b. the Fossa Punica, of which the outer side was perpendicular, the inner side sloping, as in the fossa fastigiata. The breadth in either case was to be at least 5 feet... The Vallum was formed of earth and turf, or of stone, 6 feet in height, 8 feet broad.
When the nature of the ground did not admit of the construction of a sufficient vallum, then a cheval-de frise (cervoli) was substituted. When neither a Vallum nor Cervoli could be employed, then the camp was surrounded by a ring of armed men four deep, numerous sentries were posted in each line, and the cavalry patrolled in turn in every direction… when no danger was apprehended, a ditch alone was considered sufficient; and even this was excavated merely for the sake of exercising the men (causa disciplinae).”
From 'Roman Camps' in Smith's Dictionary
Vegetius – De Re Militari Book III:
"There are three methods of entrenching a camp. The first is for the case when the army is on the march and will continue in the camp for only one night. They then throw up a slight parapet of turf and plant it with a row of palisades or caltrops of wood. The sods are cut with iron instruments. If the earth is held strongly together by the roots of the grass, they are cut in the form of a brick a foot and one half high, a foot broad and a foot and one half long. If the earth is so loose that the turf cannot be cut in this form, they run a slight trench round the camp, five feet broad and three feet deep. The earth taken from the trench forms a parapet on the inside and this secures the army from danger."
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