Roman Generalship In The Campaigns Against Britain Caesar Vs. Agricola

1795 words - 7 pages

Reasons for the first invasion of Britain in 55 BCThe planning stages of the invasion of Britain by Caesar in 55 BC are believed by historians to date back to 56 BC and possibly even 57 BC. He invaded because the Britons were giving aid to the Gauls and hence obstructing Caesar's efforts to defeat them: "omnibus fere Gallicis bellis hostibus nostris inde subministrata auxilia intellegebat" . This, however, was not the only reason - no other Roman military leader had made a successful campaign in Britain so a successful campaign would have 'dignitas' to it as well as Britain's widely renowned mineral wealth of metals such as gold, silver, iron and tin as a reward. 55 BC was the time at which an invasion became feasible and achievable.Factors contributing towards Caesar's successes and failures in BritainCaesar sent Caius Volusenus over to Britain to inspect the beaches and gather information about the island and find a suitable place to land. He returned to Caesar and told him what he had discovered: "Volusenus perspectis regionibus omnibus quantum ei facultatis dari potuit, qui navi egredi ac se barbaris committere non auderet, V. die ad Caesarem revertitur quaeque ibi perspexisset renuntiat." This had a positive effect because without this information, Caesar would have had no idea where he was going. This was one of the many bits of good planning on Caesar's part seen throughout the invasion.They arrived at Dover (>) with the enemy lining the cliffs making it impossible to land, forcing them to land further up the coast: "...atque ibi in omnibus collibus eitas hostium copias armatas conspexit. Cuius loci haec erat natura atque ita montibus angustis mare continebatur, uti ex locis superioribus in litus telum adigi posset." This had a negative effect in delaying the landing. The next plan was to land at a particular flat pebbly beach at low tide. There was a major tactical flaw in this because the ships were forced to anchor 600 feet away from the shore because of the depth of the water so the soldiers would then have to wade in that distance under heavy fire from British missiles. Most of the men were quite afraid of wading ashore under these conditions - "Quibus rebus nostri perterriti atque huius omnino generis pugnae imperiti, non eadem alacritate ac studio quo in pedestribus uti proeliis consuerant utebantur." This had a negative effect on the invasion because it temporarily lowered the soldiers' morale. They were inspired by the X legion's standard bearer, showing the constant loyalty of his men when he said "desilite, milites, nisi vultis aquilam hostibus prodere; ego certe meum rei publicae atque imperatori officium praestitero." As soon as he said this, the men jumped off after him, not wanting the standards to be captured by the enemy. It had a positive effect in encouraging the soldiers to fight. Caesar saw his men losing the battle so ordered the Warships to withdraw a little to attack the flank of the enemy in order to make the...

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