...is the renowned stronghold where the Gallic troops, many of whom had escaped from Julius Caesar and his legions at the siege of Alesia, fought the last battle for the independence of Gaul.
The surrender of Alesia in 52 BC was followed by the submission of almost all the tribes of Gaul. Their chief, Vercingetorix, was taken prisoner but Gaul was not yet reduced to powerlessness. The vanquished Gauls reestablished themselves very quickly and decided to attack the Romans from then on in small groups and at several points at the same time. Caesar had to fight successively the Biturges (Berry), the Carnutes (around Orléans), the Bellovaques (around Beauvais), the Trévires (Belgium) and, finally, the Pictons, who were massacred in the region of Lemonum (Poitiers) where over 12,000 Gauls were killed.
Hirtius' account of the battle of Uxellodum...
Following this rout Drappes, of Senon, at the head of a troop of 2000 to 5000 unsworn men, was joined by the Cadurcian Lucterios, an escapee from Alesia. They decided to invade Provincia (the region of Narbonne). The legate Caninius pursued them with two legions. About to be overtaken, the Gauls took refuge on the oppidum (hill fort) of Uxellodunum in Cadurque (later known as Quercy).
On arrival in the area, Caninius established three camps on the slopes and began construction of a fortification to surround the oppidum.
Drappes and Lucterios established their camp ten miles from Uxellodunum. They could thus harass the Romans and comb the region for supplies of wheat to bring to their troops. One night, having gathered ample provisions, Lucterios was leading a convoy of wheat when he was intercepted by Caninius and had to flee. Using information extracted from the captured Gauls, the Romans then attacked Drappes’ camp by surprise, massacred his army and took him prisoner.
Most surprisingly, the Gauls continued a violent combat after losing their principal leaders. They held their own against Caninius and against Fabius who had arrived with reinforcements of two and a half legions. Caninius was obliged to give an account to Caesar, who had arrived unexpectedly with his cavalry, followed by the two legions of Calenus.
Seeing that the Roman fortifications completely encircled the place, Caesar decided to deprive the Gauls of water. Their access to the river was made impossible by the machines of war and, in front of the spring that issued from the foot of the ramparts, Caesar ordered to be built an 18m high embankment topped with a tower of 10 storeys (27m high), constructed to prevent the Gauls getting fresh water. These works were a lure, a diversion, because Caesar had another plan: to dig tunnels out of view of the defenders to dry up the springs. In spite of violent battles and the burning of the tower, the Roman sappers achieved their goal. The Gauls, deprived of water, believed themselves abandoned by the gods and capitulated.
Caesar was pitiless. The hands of all those who had carried weapons were cut off, but their lives were spared. This unusual cruelty was meant as an example to prevent any further insurrection. With his proconsulate ending on 1st March, 50 BC, he wanted to return to Rome victorious. A “horde of brigands” had imperiled the remainder of his political career. This battle in 51 BC lasted around two months, from mid-July to mid-September.
A Roman province
This brought the Gauls’ resistance to the Romans to an end and Gaul became a Roman province, provisionally attached to the Transalpine province. Gaul was governed by Decimus Brutus, Aulus Hirtius and Munatius Plancus.