'The circuit of that fortification, which was commenced by the Romans, comprised eleven miles.'
Caesar, The Gallic War, VII. 69
This Sunday at the Hall of Heroes, the usual suspects met up to refight the Siege of Alesia, 52 BC, using Hail Caesar rules. The game was the culmination of getting on for 2 years planning and preparation, for which, I hasten to add, I can take very little credit!
It was an awesome project - we recreated both the lines of circumvallation, enclosing the Gallic stronghold of Alesia...
and also the lines of contravallation, built to hold back the inevitable relief force...
The project was Philip's idea, so he was the natural choice to take on Vercingetorix's mantle, commanding the Gauls within Alesia.
|Vercingetorix gazes at the Roman lines of circumvallation from his limestone fastness...surely a relief force will come?|
Command of the relieving force, well, that wasn't so simple, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Today's tale is of the project preparations!
The usual suspects, L-R: Bryan, Gav (Romans)(Boo hiss!), Craig and Philip, (Gauls)(Hooray!), Vic (Roman), Jim (who brought his tribe all the way from Canberra to help raise the siege), and Terry, another Gaullist warrior hero!
|Contravallation in the foreground, and the interior of the circumvallations in the background.|
The game was set out on two tables. The smaller table, a mere 6 x 4, portrayed the interior of Alesia itself, hemmed in by Caesars circumvallation,
Looking out from the circumvallation wall to one of the camps on the Alesia plateau.
whilst the larger table, 12 x 4, held the contravallations erected by Caesar to defend against any Gaullic relieving force:
Contravallation interior - a satellite cavalry fort can be seen in the right background.
One of the numerous additional forts dotting the perimeter was also modelled, as a base for Caesar's allied German cavalry.
Just as it seems Roman Legionaries could turn their hands to anything, our mob's engineers produced all of these amazing models themselves.
Its hard to do justice to the care that was taken with the detail and finish of these pieces in my photos...
Even the doors in the gateways were magnetic and could be opened!
|Some of the Vacuum Cast resin sections being undercoated|
Early on it became apparent that a cheap solution would not suit. I decided that Vacuum Cast resin was probably the best material for the parapet and Gavin and I felt that expanded foam was the material for the rampart. Here you can see an original wicker section made from wood and, well, wicker, as well as the later original for the tower using resin wicker and wood.
From these originals, moulds are made from which the sections are vacuum cast...
The expanded foam sections are done using a mould which has a lid with vent holes in it (not shown). When a small quantity of mixed foam resin is poured in, it expands to fill the mould. In the photo in the cut section you can see that the inside is aerated whereas the surface sets quite hard and takes on the detail from the mould.
This is the pile of moulds (not including Gavin's one) used on the project:
Thank you Primus Pilus, that will be all. Well as you might expect, Bryan's and Gav's attention to detail was second to none, even the towers were built to exactly fit the bases of our model scorpions!
Once the terrain was set out, easier said than done, the troops were stood to in their various locations and assembly areas...
The various Roman cohorts were unable to man the walls completely, more on this anon...
However, as more and more Roman units were unpacked the Gallic team became a little despondent!
But I daresay the view from the top of the wall wasn't too reassuring either! We had eleven 'divisions' of Gauls, each of 4 large warbands, 2 skirmish units....
and most divisions also had a specialist engineer unit to help breach the walls...
The ladders weren't simply for recognition, if 3 ladders were placed against a wall, it was determined that the engineers and warbands had filled or otherwise negated the effect of the ditch...
The Assault on Alesia!