But to resume, the first of his Gallic wars was against the Helvetii and Tigurini,1
who had set fire to their twelve cities and four hundred villages and were advancing through that part of Gaul which was subject to the Romans, as once the Cimbri and Teutones had done. To these they were thought to be not inferior in courage and of equal numbers, being three hundred thousand in all, of whom one hundred and ninety thousand were fighting men.
The Tigurini were crushed at the river Arar, not by Caesar himself, but by Labienus, his deputy; the Helvetii, however, unexpectedly attacked Caesar himself on the march, as he was leading his forces towards a friendly city, but he succeeded in reaching a strong place of refuge. Here, after he had collected and arrayed his forces, a horse was brought to him.
‘This horse,’ said he,
‘I will use for the pursuit after my victory; but now let us go against the enemy,’ and accordingly led the charge on foot.
After a long and hard struggle he routed the enemy's fighting men, but had the most trouble at their rampart of waggons, where not only did the men themselves make a stand and fight, but also their wives and children defended themselves to the death and were cut to pieces with the men. The battle was hardly over by midnight.
To the noble work of victory Caesar added a nobler still, that of settling those of the Barbarians who had escaped alive from the battle (there were more than one hundred thousand of them), and compelling them to resume the territory which they had abandoned and the cities which they had destroyed. He did this because he feared that if the territory became vacant the Germans would cross the Rhine and occupy it.