Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Thursday 14 January 2021

The Gallic War 56-55 BC

 A campaign journal covering two years here, since I thought I had written one for 56BC but it turned out later that I hadn't...

56 BCE:

56BC began with Caesar ordering the XIII Legion and the Treveri to subdue the Menapi (which they did easily) and the Allobroges and Helvetii to invade the territory of the Sequani.  After besieging the Sequani's key fortress, the area was subdued and only a small rump of the Sequani escaped.  Ariovistus tried to persuade the Allobroges to desert Caesar, but this failed.  Caesar then continued operations with his Gallic allies, as the Mandubi and Helvetii again invaded the territory of the Leuci, to subdue it and them, and defeat their German allies.  The Leuci retreated, but then re-invaded with the help of some German allies.  In the resulting battle , the Germans were victorious.

His military plans having temporarily failed, Caesar turned to dilpomacy, bringing the Arverni to his side.  Ariovistus was less successful, being unable to bring the Santones to his banner.

In late summer, Caesar felt strong enough militarily to resume his stalled offensive, ordering a major tribal force stiffened with XIV Legion to conquer the Leuci and rid the area of the Germans - this was successful, with the Leuci being destroyed in small actions and the Germans retreating across the Rhine.  Ariovistus countered this by persuading the Aedui to join his side.  Then turning his attention to Southwest Gaul, away from the Rhine frontier, Caesar led a big expedition of the X and XI Legions, supported by the Arverni, to crush the Cardurci, which they duly did.  Ariovistus retaliated by persuading the Aedui to attack the weakened Mandubi tribe, which they successfully did, taking Alesia.

So the year ended with Caesar having made some small gains in the Northeast and and Southwest, but Ariovistus continually able to undermine these gains by persuading Gaulish tribes to defect.

At the end of the year, urgent political and family matters forced Caesar to return to Rome.  He would have to direct his campaign by letter and messenger for the next 12 months. 

55 BCE:

The year began with Ariovistus persuading the newly-subdued Sequani to immediately revolt and rejoin him.  Caesar in turn got the Bellovaci to join with him.  Ariovistus continued his diplomacy, but the Menapi were unmoved by this.  

Caesar was pleased to be able to send his armies some much needed logistical support from Rome, to ease their supply difficulties somewhat.  However, Ariovistus had the bit between his teeth: he persuaded the Sequani to subdue the Leuci, which they did easily.  He himself led a combined attack on the Treveri, forcing a battle which resulted in their army's defeat and their surviving warrior retreated to the succor of their fellow Roman allies, the Menapi.

Caesar tried to stabilize the situation in the North by persuading the Bellovaci to attack the Atrobates, and thus indirectly support the Menapi and Treveri.  However, the Bellovaci were defeated by inferior numbers of Atrobates in a series of skirmishes, upon which their host disintegrated!  Ariovistus quickly exploited the situation by throwing a much superior force against the Menapi and the rump of the Treveri, eliminating both as effective resistance and consolidating his control over the Gallic bank of the Rhine up to the Channel.  Realizing that his 'Allies-First' strategy had unraveled, Caesar ordered his legions to move into Gaul, Legions XI, XII, XIII, XIV going into Allobroges territory;
Legions VII, VIII, IX and the Roman cavalry going into Boii territory.  Ariovistus suddenly switched to diplomacy however, persuading the Helvetii to revolt again!

Furious with the disastrous results of this campaign season, Caesar ordered some all-out attacks: Legions XIII and XIV and the Allobroges attacked and vanquished the Sequani (again).  Meanwhile, Legions XI and XII attacked the Aedui; in the resultant battle, the Romans slaughtered the Aedui.

Despite this, the situation was greatly improved for Ariovistus by the end of 55BC, and a good deal worse for Caesar on his return from the Saturnalia festivities in Rome.


  1. A nice review of the campaign John, with just the right amount of info in the narrative:)

    1. Thanks Steve. Somehow, without even really noticing, this campaign is begin to approach the endgame!