Siege of Alesia, 52 BC

Vercingetorix versus Julius Caesar: A Gallic army under Vercingetorix is besieged by a Roman army under Caesar but a relief army is on its way. How will Caesar react to this turn of the tables and even have a chance at defeating Vercingetorix?
When studying the most successful men in history, one will notice that they seem destined to be great and that nothing stands in their way. Caesar is no exception.
A fortress swarming with enemies and an even larger enemy relief force stood in Caesar’s way. This battle does not appear to be a siege because Caesar was able to switch roles as the situation suited him. When Vercingetorix sent his cavalry away, the Romans were able to forage unmolested and proceed to starve out the besieged Gauls. When the Gallic relief army arrived, Caesar assumed the role as the besieged in a nearly impenetrable position which the Gauls attacked frantically with no result. Keep in mind that it was not only the Gauls within Alesia without any supplies who surrendered, but the relief army as well. Caesar defeated two forces in this battle: one which was besieged and another which was besieging.
Okay, so I kind of cheated on the first “siege” I animated because it can also be considered a battle. I was worried that a siege would play out rather dull due to a lack of movement. I do not think this animation was dull at all and while I will still have to use some creativity to ensure it is not, I will be more inclined to animate another siege in the near future. You will notice I animate the Gallic relief army as being roughly 100,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry. This is a classic case where I will use the lowest recorded estimate because I am a strong proponent of logistics over nearly every other consideration.
– Jonathan Webb
Works Consulted
Cummins, Joseph. Turn Around and Run Like Hell: Amazing Stories of Unconventional Military Strategies that Worked. London: Murdoch, 2007.
Dupuy, Trevor Nevitt. The Military Life of Julius Caear: Imperator. New York: Franklin Watts, 1969.
Fuller, J.F.C. Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier and Tyrant. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1965.
Goldsworthy, Adrian. Caesar. London: Orion, 2007.
Warry, John. Warfare in the Classical World. London: Salamander, 1980.

Gallic cavalry:
Gallic infantry:
Julius Caesar:
Map of the Roman Empire:
Map of the world:
Roman cavalry:
Roman infantry:

If you enjoyed the Siege of Alesia 52 BC battle animation, you may also enjoy these other battle animations:

Battle of Ruspina 46 BC, another battle featuring Julius Caesar:

ruspina preview 1

Siege of Antioch 1097-1098, another siege in which the besiegers become the besieged:

antioch preview 1

Siege of Tyre 332 BC, another siege featuring impressive engineering efforts in the Ancient Era:

tyre preview 1Thank you for visiting The Art of Battle: Animated Battle Maps.

Readers Comments (23)

  1. Hey…
    Just want to say that I love your power point…
    It helped me alot…
    Thank You very much…

  2. Hubbs & I are about to play the Avalon Hill game on the Battle of Alesia. Your site gave me some pretty good ideas no matter which role I end up with. Thanks!!

  3. roughly 180,000 army of gaul, isnt it too large for that period ? was it possible logistically to field such a large army ?

  4. Keep in mind that there were actually two Gallic armies involved – one in Alesia and one outside Alesia – so the 180,000 man army was not concentrated together.

    I would also note that the Gallic armies were made up of warrior tribes in which the line between warrior and auxilliary was somewhat blurry, necessarily inflating the figures.

    Regardless, I am very reluctant to insert my own figures without a published source to back them up. Sometimes I estimate casualties based on similiar engagements during similiar time periods but only when no figures are available; even then, these figures are labelled properly as my own estimates. In the case of Alesia, I have used the lowest figures available. While I believe the figures should be lower, I lack the evidence to state another figure with any accuracy.

  5. Thanks so much!!!! I’m studying on the romans and this is one of my favourite battles. Thanks for animating this and this powerpoint has seriously help my studies!

    Thx! :]

  6. One question… did this battle happen during Caesar’s two failed attempts of invading Britannica?

    P.S: I’m the same guy who posted the comment above this one.

  7. But that post got deleted, as might this one.

  8. the animations do not seem to work. I click on the picture and get a power point for editing, no animation,

  9. Jonathan Webb May 22, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

    Your browser may have opened the animation as a file and not a presentation. If this is the case, press shift+F5 to start the slide show.

    If the pictures are overlapping, download Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer here:

  10. Well done!

  11. Thank you Vispania! I hope to animate another Caesar battle in upcoming seasons.

  12. 3rd and 4th slides show only compressed script gobbledegook on hideous green background, I am unable to recommend your website.

  13. Jansenart: This sometimes happens, typically on mac computers. Download Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer on the Microsoft website to thoroughly enjoy the site’s animations.

  14. yeahhhh budddyyyy THIS WAS SOOOOOOO AMAZING ILYY


  16. Very good job. You may noticed, while doing it that Alise ste Reine was an extrimly small place that can’t afford 80000 Galish soldier…and the town population and crew, horses, cows to feed all of them during a month. Also, you may have wonder why the galish rescu army only tried to attack Roma

  17. Also, you may have wonder why the galish rescue army only tried to attack Romans in two deferents points when it was easy for them to attack five or six points at the same time !
    Well: either Cesar’s exagerated….but half of his army and generals were from Pompeus legions and participated to write the BG.
    Either, Alise Ste Reine is not Alésia.

  18. May you have a look at this page, please :
    Maybe this place fits better with Cesar’s description
    Best regards

  19. great but I can not use it as a reference ;there is no date for your work

  20. Gil: A number of slides during the presentation contain a small text box with the file and page’s publication in the bottom right corner. In this case, this animation was published in 2009 and thus uses no sources later than 2009. Perhaps I will make this more prominent for such a purpose.

  21. troop numbers wrong
    everyone knows who deals with the material and knows the organization of this army. For the Gauls, it is impossible to set up a 40,000-strong troop. You can not get enough food together. 100.000Mann was even too much for the Romans
    that explains the situation and the justification for the behavior of the armies

  22. I wonder if Caesar was preparing for the final years of the Gallic Wars.

Comments are closed.