Battle of Bibracte

Battle of Bibracte

Infobox Military Conflict

conflict=Battle of Bibracte
partof=the Gallic Wars
date=58 BC
place=Saône-et-Loire, France
result=Roman victory, Helvetii Surrender
combatant1=Roman Republic
combatant2=Mainly Helvetii,
commander1=Julius Caesar
strength2=<90,000 Soldiers-<368,000
(Larger number includes non-combatants).
strength1=Six Roman legions Plus Auxiliaries (Roman military)

casualties1= Unknown
casualties2= Remaning 130,000
The Battle of Bibracte was fought between the Helvetii and six Roman legions, under the command of Gaius Julius Caesar. It was the second major battle of the Gallic Wars.

After following the migration of the Helvetii and defeating them, Caesar, around 20 June, moved towards Bibracte, (approximately 18 miles away from their camp) to obtain the supplies promised by his allies, the Aedui. Informed by deserters of Lucius Æmilius commander of the cavalry the Helvetii took this occasion to turn and harass Cæsar's rear guard. When Cæsar observed this he sent his cavalry to delay the attack. He in the interim surmounted a near-by hill and set up placed the Seventh (Legio VII Claudia), Eighth (Legio VIII Augusta), Ninth (Legio IX Hispana), and Tenth legions (Legio X Equestris), organized in the Roman fashion (triplex acies), near the bottom of the slope. He did this so he could collect the Eleventh (Legio XI Claudia) and Twelfth (Legio XII Fulminata) Legions and all his auxiliaries at the summit. Also while this was going on he ordered the baggage train assembled in one location and ordered the men assembled at the summit to guard them.

The Helvetii then having driven off Cæsars cavalry and having secured their baggage train engaged "In the seventh hour" approximately noon or one o'clock. According to Cæsar his battle line situated on the hill easily routed the Helvetii assault by using pila (javelins) at about 10 to 15 yards. Cæsars forces then went on the offencive assaulting the Helvetii and pushing them about a thousand paces back to the hill where they had secured their baggage train.The legions pursued them across the plain in between these hills, at which point the Boii and Tulingi arrived with fifteen thousand men (according to Cæsar) to assist the Helvetii flanking the Romans on one side. At which point the Helvetii returned to the battle in earnest. When the Tulingi and the Boii started to circumvent the Romans Cæsar reformed his Third line to resist the assault of the Boii and Tuligni, keeping his primary and secondary lines to route the Helvetii.

The battle lasted until night fall and lasted many hours into the night until the Romans finally took the Helvetii's baggage train. Cæsar captured both a daughter and son of Orgetorix. According to Cæsar One Hundred and Thirty thousand men of Helvetii and her allies did escape into the night. Unable to pursue the enemy on account of battle wounds and the time it took to bury the dead Cæsar delayed three days before he would pursue. The Helvetii managed to reach the territory of the Lingones within four days. Cæsar also warned the Lingones to not assist them. As a result of the Battle the Helvetii and her allies surrendered to Cæsar.

Interesting note Cæsar claimed 130,000 of the Helvetii and her allies escaped yet also according to Cæsar only 110,000 returned home. Also according to Cæsar the census totals of the tribes at the start of the war were:


*Goldsworthy, Adrian. "Caesar: Life of a Colossus." New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. 220-223.

*Cæsars Gallic War - Direct Translation from Latin

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