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Did Caesar leave one of his legions in Gaul to maintain the Roman presence?

-Dick and Sandy Hall



Dear Dick and Sandy,

If (as I suspect) you are asking about what Gaius Julius Caesar did when he learned of the Senate’s ultimatum to disband his army or be declared an “enemy of the state” on January 7, 49 BC, he had eight legions in Gaul at the time and only brought one, Legio XIII (5,000 legionaries, 300 cavalry) with him when he made his fateful decision at the Rubicon River on the 11th. Obviously, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the mass killing by which Caesar had asserted Roman control over Gaul, the continuing presence of substantial forces was necessary to ensure that some Gallic tribe did not rise up even while Caesar was confronting Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Even so, Legari VIII and XII were marching to join Caesar when he made his dramatic decision to trust in his popularity among the lower-class Romans and cross the Rubicon with what he had. That still left five legions in Gaul to cover his rear.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

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