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Quote of the day: It had been the ancient policy of the fo
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The Gallic War (De Bello Gallico) by Julius Caesar
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book IV Chapter 17: War with the Germans. A bridge is constructed.[55 BC]
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Caesar, for those reasons which I have mentioned, had resolved to cross the Rhine; but to cross by ships he neither deemed to be sufficiently safe, nor considered consistent with his own dignity or that of the Roman people. Therefore, although the greatest difficulty in forming a bridge was presented to him, on account of the breadth, rapidity, and depth of the river, he nevertheless considered that it ought to be attempted by him, or that his army ought not otherwise to be led over. He devised this plan of a bridge. He joined together at the distance of two feet, two piles, each a foot and a half thick, sharpened a little at the lower end, and proportioned in length, to the depth of the river. After he had, by means of engines, sunk these into the river, and fixed them at the bottom, and then driven them in with rammers, not quite perpendicularly, dike a stake, but bending forward and sloping, so as to incline in the direction of the current of the river; he also placed two [other piles] opposite to these, at the distance of forty feet lower down, fastened together in the same manner, but directed against the force and current of the river. Both these, moreover, were kept firmly apart by beams two feet thick (the space which the binding of the piles occupied), laid in at their extremities between two braces on each side, and in consequence of these being in different directions and fastened on sides the one opposite to the other, so great was the strength of the work, and such the arrangement of the materials, that in proportion as the greater body of water dashed against the bridge, so much the closer were its parts held fastened together. These beams were bound together by timber laid over them, in the direction of the length of the bridge, and were [then] covered over with laths and hurdles; and in addition to this, piles were driven into the water obliquely, at the lower side of the bridge, and these, serving as buttresses, and being connected with every portion of the work, sustained the force of the stream: and there were others also above the bridge, at a moderate distance; that if trunks of trees or vessels were floated down the river by the barbarians for the purpose of destroying the work, the violence of such things might be diminished by these defenses, and might not injure the bridge.

Event: Caesar's war with the Germans.

[17] Caesar his de causis quas commemoravi Rhenum transire decrevat; sed navibus transire neque satis tutum esse arbitrabatur neque suae neque populi Romani dignitatis esse statuebat. Itaque, etsi summa difficultas faciendi pontis proponebatur propter latitudinem, rapiditatem altitudinemque fluminis, tamen id sibi contendendum aut aliter non traducendum exercitum existimabat. Rationem pontis hanc instituit. Tigna bina sesquipedalia. paulum ab imo praeacuta dimensa ad altitudinem fluminis intervallo pedum duorum inter se iungebat. Haec cum machinationibus immissa in flumen defixerat fistucisque adegerat, non sublicae modo derecte ad perpendiculum, sed prone ac fastigate, ut secundum naturam fluminis procumberent, iis item contraria duo ad eundem modum iuncta intervallo pedum quadragenum ab inferiore parte contra vim atque impetu fluminis conversa statuebat. Haec utraque insuper bipedalibus trabibus immissis, quantum eorum tignorum iunctura distabat, binis utrimque fibulis ab extrema parte distinebantur; quibus disclusis atque in contrariam partem revinctis, tanta erat operis firmitudo atque ea rerum natura ut, quo maior vis aquae se incitavisset, hoc artius inligata tenerentur. Haec derecta materia iniecta contexebantur ac longuriis cratibusque consternebantur; ac nihilo setius sublicae et ad inferiorem partem fluminis oblique agebantur, quae pro ariete subiectae et cum omni opere coniunctae vim fluminis exciperent, et aliae item supra pontem mediocri spatio, ut, si arborum trunci sive naves deiciendi operis causa essent a barbaris missae, his defensoribus earum rerum vis minueretur neu ponti nocerent.