Battle of Dyrrhachium (48 BC)


Battle of Dyrrhachium (48 BC)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Dyrrhachium
partof=Caesar's civil war


caption=
date=July 10, 48 BC
place=Dyrrhachium (today Durrës)
casus=
territory=
result=Optimates victory
combatant1=Optimates
combatant2=Populares
commander1=Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus
commander2=Gaius Julius Caesar
strength1=45,000
strength2=15,000
casualties1=Unknown
casualties2=1,000

The Battle of Dyrrachium (or Dyrrhachium) on 10 July 48 BC, was a battle of Caesar's civil war in modern Albania. In the battle Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus defeated Gaius Julius Caesar.

Having been victorious against Pompey's lieutenants in Spain, Caesar left Italy to attack Pompey. He crossed the Adriatic sea on 4 January 48 BC and occupied Oricum and Apollonia, Illyria.

Pompey's army was mainly new recruits and he was disinclined to offer battle. From Caesar's account of the Pharsalia campaign, "De Bello Civili", it is possible to extrapolate back and estimate troop numbers, but the figures are utterly unconvincing (around 30,000 men under Pompey and 10,000 for himself).

Caesar was outnumbered in cavalry, and this made it difficult for his men to gather food. He began building a series of forts around Pompey's position at Dyrrhachium, which he then connected with entrenchments and parapets facing inwards and outwards. As soon as Pompey realised what was happening, he occupied as many hills as he could. Caesar then describes a series of skirmishes which then took place, ending with the Pompeians suffering 2,000 casualties and the Caesarians 20.

Pompey could not allow his army to be blockaded, so he mounted an attack against the south of Caesar's line where it joined the sea. The wall connecting the inner and outer fortifications had not been finished, and the Pompeian army easily broke through, causing panic among Caesar's men.

On the following day, Caesar attempted to attack part of Pompey's army in a small fort, and was repulsed. His army streamed back in chaos. Instead of counter-attacking, however, Pompey ordered a halt, believing that Caesar was setting a trap. Caesar was lucky to survive, saying, "Today the victory had been the enemy's had there been any one among them to gain it."

Caesar withdrew towards Thessaly and Pompeius decamped to follow him, where the Battle of Pharsalus was fought.

External links

* [http://www.livius.org/a/battlefields/dyrrhachium/dyrrhachium.html Livius.org: Dyrrhachium (48 BC)]


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