The Civil War of Rome

The Civil War of Rome

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The Civil War of Rome

The Civil War in the eyes of most people is not glorious, but rather one of the worst crimes you could possibly commit when the state is all-important. Only under the most extreme circumstances should one be allowed to (in the eyes of the people that is) begin a Civil War with just cause. Caesar took this into consideration, but too many things were going wrong in Rome for him not to begin the war.

The first of many problems was the collapse of the Triumvirate. The Triumvirate was one of the main parts of the government of Rome, with which there were three leaders, which at the time were Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. This was never truly working all that great, but held itself together by the marriage of Caesar's daughter Julia, to Pompey, and the friendship Caesar and Crassus shared. But, all this came to an end when Crassus was killed in a battle against a Parthian army. Then, not too long afterwards, Julia was murdered by someone who had broken into her home. This, destroyed the bond between Caesar and Pompey, and made them drift apart. Caesar seeing all this taking place, attempted to restore the bond by proposing to Pompey's only daughter, but was not allowed to by Pompey.

To only make matters worse, Rome was slowly slipping into total anarchy. The government was becoming corrupt with bribery. The elections were being stopped, and there wasn't a consul elected in 53 or 52 B.C. Most authority was lost, the streets became rioted, and unsafe. During this time, Pompey tried to annul the Law of Ten Tribunes without notifying Caesar. If this happen, it would of removed a lot of Caesar's power. Caesar saw what he was trying to do, and stopped it before this action took place, and now knew for sure that Pompey was no longer his ally, but instead an enemy.

Pompey tried another devious act against Caesar, which this time worked. He had the senate pass a law that made Pompey and Caesar both give up troops, and send them to the East, where they were supposedly needed against the Parthians. This seemed fair, but it made Caesar lose two legions, one that was lent to him by Pompey in the Gallic Wars, and one of his own. Once they were positioned there, Pompey decided they were no longer needed, and sent them to Capua (a city in Rome) under his command.

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The final event that drove Caesar to rebel was the Senate declaring Caesar to be a public enemy. They said that he was doing harm to Rome, and was a threat to the entire country. They declared that the troops stationed in Capua go and defend the capital against Caesar.

Caesar at the time was stationed in Cisalpine Gaul, with only one Roman legion of troops, and some small German and Gallic cavalry detachments. When he learned of what the senate had done, he knew he had to act immediately. He sent his troops to the bank of the Rubicon, which was the river that separated Cisalpine from Italy. This was the spot, should any army cross, it would be considered an act of war, and the start of a Civil War. He knew he had to act now, because Pompey only had two trained legions under his command. Both legions had served under him in the Gallic Wars so they would more than likely desert than fight against him. All the other armies that were being set up were new and untrained, and probably wouldn't fight well, if at all. And so, he crossed the Rubicon, knowing at this point there was no turning back.

Things actually turned out to be better than expected. He marched down the coast conquering town after town not only without a fight, but in fact gaining support of the towns, and increasing the size of his army. Even the troops recruited by Pompey himself joined Caesar's side, and went off to fight Pompey.

The only resistance Caesar ran into was at Corfinium, at which one of Pompey's commanders had made a stand. The siege lasted only a few days before the majority of the troops mutinied and joined Caesar. The swift victory scared Pompey and his officals, causing them to retreat from Rome. Pompey chose to send his troops to Greece, where he planned to dominate the seas. This way he could cut off the grain supplies to Rome and starve them into surrender. He could also send his legions from Spain and from the East and create a two front attack on Rome. Caesar knew of all these possibilities, but also knew of the immediate problems that had to be dealt with.

Caesar knew that he had to reorganize the government. He had to get certain tasks done, and appointed new officials in a temporary government to do them. He sent a former councilman Curio, to secure the supplies of Sicily, North Africa, and Dolabella. He also sent Marcus Antonius, the son of a radical leader who had Pompey to be commander and chief of the armed forces in Italy. Caesar also reformed the senate, inviting back in all senators in Rome, including the ones that had banished him. This was all to prevent bloodshed, and also somewhat to make him look like a generous and forgiving leader in the eyes of the people.

With this government set up he could now go off to Spain, and hopefully stop Pompey's ability to have a two-pronged attack on Rome. Before he could do this, he had to stop the opposition of Marseille, which he feared might encourage the rebellion of Gaul. When he arrived there, he found something that he felt was of great dishonor. Two commanders Domitius and Vibullius were found there, working against Caesar and held armies determined to fight against him. These were officers he had released after the battle at Corfinium. Instead of dealing with this problem himself, Caesar ordered another officer to blockade the port of Marseille, cutting off food supplies. While this was occurring, he was going to Spain, and take control of it immediately.

Spain posed less of a threat than initially expected. The only place Caesar had to fight over was Ilerda, a natural fortress. Caesar, as he usually did was cut off their grain supplies, and force them into surrender. But, instead of surrendering, Pompey's forces tried to escape while leaving a diversionary force at the fort. Caesar's calvary however, tracked down the escaping army, and surrounded them into a waterless hill. There, they surrender, and as Caesar had done in the past, offered to let the troops join his forces, or go home. He made the same proposal to the officers, and gained them in numbers. In the end, Caesar had more men than when he even started the battle.

He then returned to Marseille, where they surrendered at the site of Caesar's army. Caesar's officers he had commanded to stop the grain supplies had done very well. They had completely decimated any navel resistance. Once Caesar arrived, he did something unlike his previous victories. He punished the city, and stripped it of its navy and arms. They were also to make payments to the Roman Empire for their actions as well.
Despite Caesar's great victories in the West, all west not well with the rest of his campaign. Curio, who he had sent to go secure the grain supplies in Africa, had failed in his mission. Curio easily completed his mission in Sicily, but didn't have the same luck in Africa. He faced up against two allies of Pompey, Attius Varus and Juba, a Numidian King. Curio had very few losses in pacifying Attius, but Juba posed to be a greater threat. He had superior numbers to Curio, and better knowledge of the terrain and used this to his advantage. He ambushed Curio surrounding him and crushing his army. Curio had a chance to escape with his life, but instead chose to remain and fight with his soldiers until the end. He died with the hope of a quick end to the war. Caesar's momentum had been stopped with this battle.

Another major problem facing Caesar was the gathering force that Pompey was creating in Greece and Albania. He had eleven Roman legions in training, and another ready force of approximately three thousand archers, twelve hundred slingers, nearly seven thousand cavalry, five hundred warships, and huge gain and other war materials which had come from his blockade of the sea. Pompey was ready for a full-scale invasion of Italy that is of course, until Caesar landed in Albania.

Both men were hoping to take control of a very strategic point, Dyrrhacium. It was a key spot, where Pompey could launch an invasion of Italy rather easily, and Caesar could defend against one. It was pretty much an all out race for this spot, and Pompey won. He gained control of this spot, right as Caesar started a siege against it. Caesar got into trouble though, he accidentally over extended his troop lines, and Pompey broke it at the weak point. Caesar faced a strong reversal against him, and decided to bring the battle to different ground. He went farther inland, where Pompey's great fleet would prove useless, but in doing so opened up all of undefended Italy. Instead of taking Italy, Pompey chose to pursue Caesar. He was confident that he would defeat Caesar because he had superior numbers, greatly out numbering Caesar. Caesar's men totaled 22,000 troops, while Pompey had nearly 47,000. Also, Pompey's cavalry nearly outnumbered Caesar's 7:1.
Caesar ended up at Pharsalus, and knew the circumstances. He knew he'd have to use wise tactics in order to defeat Pompey, or his forces would be crushed. That was exactly what he did.

Caesar predicted that Pompey would over-rely on his cavalry to flank his troops, and thought the only way to counter them was to arm his troops with spears, and pretty much do what they did in Braveheart. Raise the spears and stab the horses causing chaos in their lines. Then, flank Pompey's troops with his own cavalry and defeat them. All this worked out exactly as planned. Pompey's great army was crushed by Caesar, about 15,000 of Pompey's men died, and over 24,000 were taken prisoners, the rest fled off. Pompey, seeing his defeat rode off on horseback to Lesbos to see his wife.

After the battle Caesar decided to go off and search for Pompey, more than likely in hope to make an alliance, and bring a quick end to the war. Pompey however, could not make one, after going to his wife, he thought he would go to Egypt, and try to regain power. He arrived at time when Egypt itself was in a Civil War, Cleopatra VII and Ptolemy were fighting for the throne. Pompey, after requesting to see the king, was stabbed and killed by a renegade Roman. He decapitated him, and waited for Caesar's arrival to give it to him as a gift. When Caesar arrived and saw what had been done to him, he burst into tears and ordered a proper burial of him. The man who committed this was found, and executed for doing an act of violence to a Roman leader.

The Romans in Egypt were greatly disliked; there were many muggings and murders of soldiers in the streets. To put an end to all this, Caesar ordered both Cleopatra and Ptolemy to come to Alexandria where they would decide who had the right to rule. The decision of Caesar was that Cleopatra should be the ruler, but Ptolemy did not agree. He attacked Caesar's army and kept him at siege in Alexandria for many months. Caesar was vastly outnumbered, and the only hope he had was with two legions that he had ordered to come.

Once they arrived, the superior Roman army rather easily crushed the Egyptians. They tracked Ptolemy down, and when they finally caught up to him, drowned him in the Nile. Then, Caesar gave the crown to Cleopatra and another brother Ptolemy XIV, who later became her husband.

Afterwards, Caesar continued on to Syria, where Pontus was committing crimes and causing mayhem to Roman citizens there. Caesar quickly tracked down his entire army, and defeated it in five days. He wrote afterwards in a letter to his friend "Veni, Vidi, Vici." Meaning, I came, I saw, I conquered. Then quickly headed back to Italy to deal with the matters that were forming while he was gone.

Many problems formed while he was in absence for over eighteen months in Egypt. He had to restore the order by solving the social and economic problems. He had to raise money and restore discipline for his soldiers, who were becoming mutinous. Also, defeat the remaining forces loyal to Pompey's cause in Africa, who planned to invade Italy.
Caesar's fix to the mutiny, was rather quick. He gave a speech to his soldiers, and asked them what they wanted. When they replied to be decommissioned he allowed it. Then, at the end of his speech he addressed them as his "fellow citizens." Out of embarrassment, they begged to be re-instated as soldiers. Caesar gladly allowed of it.
The great debt of most people was relieved when Caesar had issued that all loans would go without interest for a year. Once this took effect, all rioters stopped, and society returned to somewhat normal.

With another one of Caesar's "quick fixes" he left for Africa, where he ran into a lot of trouble. Scipio, the commander of the army in Africa vastly outnumbered Caesar. He had 50,000 infantry and over 18,000 cavalry. Caesar had about half as much infantry, but only about one-sixth the cavalry. Caesar was lucky indeed though, because Scipio wasn't the smartest of leaders. Scipio had Caesar trapped at Sousse, but didn't use this to his advantage. He could have sent some of his army and invaded Italy, or even lured Caesar's army into the desert, which would be a horrible place for Caesar's men to fight. But, instead, he chose to fight Caesar on the ground he was on. Not only that, but he chose to dig trenches in a place where his cavalry could not be deployed. Caesar spotting this opportunity attacked before their completion, and defeated them. He captured all their cavalry, and stood as the victor.

The only resistance he faced now was a small army in Spain that was rebelling. He sent eight legions, and expected a quick and easy victory. This, he did not receive. They were commanded by two of Pompey's sons, Sextus and Gnaus. They were wise tacticians and had fifteen legions of soldiers. Caesar attempt to lure them into a fight by attacking their cities, but failed. They instead lured him into an uphill battle. This battle had heavy casualties on both sides, but due to Caesar's more discipline and wise generalship, he proved to be the victor. Gnaeus was captured a few weeks after the battle, but Sextus later returned in his life to fight Caesar's successors.

This was the end of the Civil War, all resistance was defeated, and Caesar returned to Rome, where his dictatorship was renewed for another ten years to come.
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