As many investors flee to safety during the extreme volatility caused by the trade war between the U.S. and China (and now Mexico, too), I’ve been searching for safe havens for my readers to place their money. As I formed my battle plan to protect us from this geopolitical mess, I was reminded of one of history’s most unorthodox defenses…
The Battle of Alesia.
In the year 52 BC, Julius Caesar was a young commander in the middle of a campaign to conquer the Gauls, a vast collection of Celtic tribes that inhabited modern-day France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Northern Italy. Following a string of clashes with Roman forces, 70,000 Gallic soldiers – including their commander, Vercingetorix – took up a position in the elevated, walled town of Alesia to face the oncoming Roman legions.
Outnumbered by almost 20,000 men, and facing an enemy in a fortified position, Caesar used the engineering expertise of his forces to build a wall completely surrounding Alesia. His plan was to lay siege to the town and starve the Gauls out.
Vercingetorix must have realized the plight he and his men were in, and so ordered his entire cavalry to escape before construction of the wall could be completed. Their mission was to recruit every man that was fit to fight from the surrounding tribes to rescue his besieged forces.
To defend against the possibility of an attack from Gallic reinforcements, Caesar undertook one of the most unconventional strategies the world has ever seen. He ordered his men to build a second wall – this one stretching nearly 14 miles – around the first wall.
Though it was a massive project, Caesar must have been very pleased with his decision when, seven weeks into the siege, a Gallic relief army of over 60,000 men showed up outside his walls. The Gauls immediately launched attacks from both inside and outside of the walls.
After several days of intense fighting, during which the Romans nearly had their lines broken, Caesar himself joined the fray and beat back the Gallic forces. Vercigetorix emerged from inside Alesia and surrendered to Caesar.
Due to his brilliant strategy of setting up additional defenses to protect his forces from outside attacks – which proved to be the decisive advantage – Caesar would soon make all of Gaul a Roman province.