Home Student EssaysCaesar And Pompey

Caesar And Pompey

.. etreius reinforcing Pompey or invading Transalpine Gaul Caesar in person led a force of six legions against them(Cary 271). The Pompeian army had firmly entrenched itself in a prepared position at Ilerda in the valley of the Sicoris, which he could not hope to storm without heavy losses, and he got into serious difficulties through shortage of supplies and the spring flooding of the river. Caesar used his Gallic cavalry to dislodge his enemies, by cutting off their supplies; he headed off their retreat to the Ebro by sustained hard marching. Caesar then threw up a field-works around a steep but waterless hill on which they had taken refuge and the Pompeians were impelled to surrender themselves.

Caesar had completed a major accomplishment. In only forty days he had completely disposed of a large and not unpracticed army lead by two capable commanders(Cary 271). By this brilliant achievement he overawed the remaining Pompeian forces in Spain, led by Varro, to a speedy submission. On his back to Italy Caesar received the surrender of Massilia after a brief fight(Cary). While all this was going on Pompey had fixed his new headquarters at Thessalonica. Pompey tried to acquire active assistance from the Parthians but he filed.

All that they would promise to him was benevolent neutrality. On the strength of this assurance he withdrew the Roman garrisons from the eastern frontiers, so as to make up a total force of eleven legions(Cary 271-272). By drawing up his forces from the east Pompey was able to collect a strong corps of horses and a fleet far outnumbering the few ships of Caesar. At Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic seaboard he formed an advance base for the recapture of Italy in the following campaign(Cary 272). Caesar realized that this would be a very important battle and therefor did not want to give Pompey the choice of battle-ground.

So in early 48 B.C. Caesar carried the war to the east side of the Adriatic. Because he lacked the transport he was forced to cast his troops across in two relays, thus doubling the risks of destruction by winter storms or by Pompeys patrols. Caesar was able to cross the first division across untouched, and after a near-miss escape from a Pompeian blockade squadron M. Antonius rejoined him with the second installment(Cary 272). Though Pompey had meanwhile concentrated his forces at Dyrrhachium, he would not venture to expose them in a inclined battle against the more seasonal troops of Caesar, and therefore failed to crush the two enemy divisions before they had joined forces(Cary 272).

Caesar now deiced that he would try to cut his enemies supplies off by a blockade. He soon realized that he was also running short of supplies and cut back his forces to only the bare minimum to sustain the blockade. Because of Pompeys ability to skillfully use his inner position and of his naval transport he eventually crumbled one of Caesars attenuated wings(Cary 273). Caesar was now caught in the trap which the very wise Pompey had laid. He was now faced with very little options and a half starved army.

But luckily for Caesar Pompey was still reluctant to engage in heavy open battle . This made it able for Caesar to slip his army away and retreat to Thessaly. In Thessaly Caesar was able to provide his troops with provisions which wee greatly needed and reorganize. But while Caesar was successful in slipping away he had given the strategic initiative to Pompey. Pompey now had the option to embark on a reconquest of Italy with almost nothing standing in his way for a total walk over victory.

But Pompey judged that his true objective was Caesar himself, so he followed Caesar to Thessaly. Because Pompey stilled feared open battle with Caesar he used his superiority in cavalry to cut off Caesars supplies for a second time and to weaken him down before closing in on him(Cary 273). There soon arose a major problem in Pompeys camp. The Roman nobles had returned to camp, over-elated by their sudden good fortune, counted the victory already theirs. They had also begun to quarrel about who was going to get what. This put a tremendous amount of pressure on Pompey.

As they had done before the Roman nobles persuaded Pompey to stake everything on a quick finish(Cary 273). On an open site near Pharsalus he drew a battle-line of 35,000 to 40,000 men, against which Caesar could put no more than 22,000 into the field(Cary 273). Pompey had come up with a plan in which he would use his infantry to contain Caesars front, and use his powerful mounted force to take him in flank and rear(Cary 273). The massed cavalry easily overbore Caesars horse, but was held up by a flank guard of picked infantrymen, whom Caesar had instructed to handle their pila as modern infantry uses its bayonets(Cary 273). By this simple maneuver Caesars select cohorts turned the tide of the battle, for the Pompeian horsemen, instead of circling round the obstacle, broke into premature flight.

Caesar had now brought the fight to a standstill and was able to start a pursuit against Pompey. Because his troops were much more seasoned veterans he was able to dominate the battle and cause Pompey and his forces to flee. The Pompeian remnant which managed to escape to escape from the camp found a momentary refuge on the adjacent heights, but here they were cut off by the untiring Caesarians, who completed their victory, as at Illerda, by ringing off the fugitives with entrenchments. Caesar now claimed a total victory loosing no more than 1,200 men while killing no less 6,000 Pompeians and captured 24,000. The only problem with this victory was that Pompey himself was able to escape.

After the battle of Pharsalus most of Pompeys generals and admirals surrendered to Caesar. However in Greece and the Balkins a group of irreconcilable nobles, who had made good their escape or had been stationed on Pompeys line of communications, collected the debris of his army and embarked it at the Adriatic ports of Africa. If Caesar had massed his men and taken out this last group he could have ended the war for good. But he chose instead to lead a pursuit of Pompey, who had fled with a few personal friends to Egypt, seemingly with a vague hope of entrenching himself there as the self-invited guest of the young king, Ptolemy XII(Cary 273-274). Caesars pursuit of Pompey was not thought to be out of any kind of revenge but instead it was thought that he aimed to disarm the helpless Pompey and form a partnership in which he would have no real power(Cary 274).

But Caesars plans were thwarted by ministers of Ptolemy, who got rid of their embarrassing visitor by murdering him(Cary 274). For Pompey this piece of foul play was perhaps kindness in disguise. Though his last two campaigns had shown that his military judgment was clear and sound as ever, in the field of politics he had virtually become the prisoner of the nobles who drew him into the civil war, and if Caesar had brought him back to Rome he would have probably been doomed to spend the rest of his life in a gilled cage if he had deigned to survive(Cary 274). For Caesar the death of his foe should have been a signal to hasten but he stayed. But none the less the war was thought to be over for Caesar.

Caesar returned to Rome but only stayed the minimum time which he was needed. After easing the economic situation, rewarding his followers and pardoning many Pompeians who submitted, at the end of 46 B.C. he embarked for a midwinter campaign in Africa. In Africa the remnants of the Pompeian forces had been pieced together into ten new legions, to which King Juba brought a reinforcement of four Numidian legions. The cavalry alone of the Popmeians had been raised to 15,000.

Q. Metellus Scipio, the father-in-law of Pompey, had taken command of this army. But he had an ace in the hole with Labienus, who was a pupil of Caesar and the most likely to beat the master at his own game(Cary 275). Caesar used pure genpus to make this campaign a quick a successful one. Because time was not a luxury which Caesar had he moved his troops by installments in the intervals between the winter gales(Cary 274). Caesars main plan was to draw the Pompeians into an open battle.

His opportunity came to him during the siege of a city called Thapsus, which was situated on a headland in the Tunisian coast and was connected with the hinterland by two corridors on either side of a wide lagoon(Cary 275). He allowed himself to be cut off on this tongue of land; but in the making drew his opponent to a position where he could not back away from an open battle. The actual battle itself was not much of a fight as the overpowering forces of Caesar simply ran over the Pompeian army. But the troops of Caesar refused to give quater and all but a few of the Pompeian officers were killed and the battle ended in total carnage(Cary 275). The civil war demanded one more battle which would proved itself to be the final blaze of the war. The forces of Pompeys army which had been left behind at Thapsus were joined by the forces which made it out of Africa which made an army of thirteen legions.

Caesar set out for his fourth winter campaign of the civil war and ventured just south of Spain. Caesar realized that this battle could not be won by laying siege to the Pompeians strongholds so he took the unusual risk of accepting combat on ground which compelled his legions to deliver their attack uphill(Cary 275). The action of Munda was one of the hardest fought of Caesars battles; but in the end the tenth legion overcame the Pompeian forces. The Popeian troops were then slaughtered indiscriminately. In March of 45 Caesar had become the undisputed master of the Roman Empire(Cary 276).