How did Caesar cross the Rhine?

In an attempt to intimidate enemy Germanic tribes and gain support and admiration from the Senate back in Rome, Caesar constructed a genius wooden bridge to the cross the Rhine, the greatest border between the Romans and Germans.

Written down in Julius Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul are the details of his crossing of the Rhine river by the use of a long, cleverly engineered and temporary wooden structure.

Caesar crossed a several hundred foot long stretch of the river by building a bridge from thick, wooden logs tied together. The main supports were driven into the riverbed, about 3 metres down, at an angle facing inward to the bridge. These were carved at the top to support a crosspiece.

Now that there was a minimal framework for the bridge, more logs were placed facing along the bridge and planks were laid down on top.

Within the water, pointed wooden shield structures were made to direct the water through the gaps in the crossing and to protect against any logs or materials that the tribes threw into the rivers to prevent the Romans from crossing.

In total, the work took about a week and a half.

Most of the wood was sourced locally. The soldiers of the 13th legion gathered at the shores and loaded up onto a bridge that they knew would be only temporary. With horns blaring and standards flying, the circus crossed the Rhine and arrived at the other side, to find that the astonished Siagmbri tribal people had fled instead of remaining to fight the massing Roman forces.

Caesar stayed on the Northern point of the bridge for eighteen days before returning and destroying his creation. Eventually, other, more permanent crossing points would be established and Caesar would lead his men to the Northern Coasts of Europe, and finally to Britain in his first invasion.

Caesar’s bridge of the Rhine shows that he had the utmost power of transport and was able to travel to the most remote locations by organising and engineering clever contraptions for getting across rivers, etc.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Historical fiction and book reviews are coming soon, so stay tuned!

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Take a tour of Ancient Rome

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