Siege of Cicero’s Camp, 54-53BC



Winter 54-53BC


The siege of Cicero’s camp was a key event in the Gallic wars, when multiple tribes came together to attempt to rid their lands of Roman invaders. The Gauls took advantage of the exhausted and thinly spread legions returning from Britain for the winter, and launched a series of attacks. These attacks were ultimately unsuccessful, and Rome’s grasp on Europe strengthened.


Caesar’s armies had recently returned from Britain and hoped to winter in northern Gaul. Unrest among the Gauls caused them to revolt, and a Roman legion was completely destroyed at Atuatuca. News of this defeat had still not reached Cicero when the Gallic rebels reached his fortified encampment.


Present day Belgium


One legion of 5,000 men, later reinforced by 7,000 men.


60,000 men according to Caesar.


The Romans were caught off guard, with some men still outside the camp gathering timber, who were cut off. The legion managed to hold their partially completed defences against the initial onslaught.

Having failed to break the Romans with their first assault, the Gauls set up fortifications to laid siege to the Roman camp. Cicero was confident that help would arrive from nearby legions, but none of his messengers managed to reach friendly forces through the Gallic lines. The Gauls continued their siege, but the Roman fortifications were too much for them to break.

Word finally reached Caesar that Cicero was under siege, and a relief effort was mounted. Several days later Caesar arrived with two legions comprising 7,000 men. By constructing a smaller camp than usual, Caesar managed to convince the Gauls that his army was even smaller, and baited them into an attack which was quickly defeated by the hidden legions.


Roman Victory


By holding their position in Gaul, the Romans managed to suppress the native uprising and consolidate their hold on western Europe.


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