Balkan war. First failures
Having crossed from Brundizii (a port in Italy) to Greece, Caesar was determined to impose a battle on Pompey, defeat him in the field and end the war there. Pompey adhered to defensive tactics, hoping to take Caesar to hunger, because the small foothold on which he entrenched, did not allow him to supply 11 legions, and the Pompeians dominated the sea. Part of the troops Caesar sent to the north to prevent Pompey from receiving reinforcements, while he remained with 7 legions against twice the superior army of the Republicans. Pompey entrenched itself in the city of Dirrachia, but Caesar managed to bypass his troops, and Pompey urgently had to withdraw the camp and take a new position.
Map of the civil war in Rome
However, here Caesar resorted to a curious decision: he blocked Pompey in his camp, despite the fact that his army was half the size of what he hid behind the walls of the camp. This situation persisted from May to July, when Pompey decided on a breakthrough. And although the first attempt was unsuccessful, the Republicans managed to break through the blockade, and soon after that Caesar himself decided to attack one of Pompey's legions, which was separated from the rest.
To this end, he singled out 33 cohorts and led them to the attack, but the cavalry of Pompeyans arrived in time to provide support, and then five more Republican legions joined the combatants. Caesar, who attacked only part of his forces, was crushed. The army began to panic. As soon as Pompey developed his success and broke into Caesar's camp, it would all be over. This was also realized by the dictator himself, who said: “The war could have ended today with a complete victory, if the enemies had a man at the head who could win.” However, Pompey did not dare to further attack, and Caesar was able to quietly go to Thessaly, enticing the main forces of the enemy deep into the peninsula.
Gnea Pompey the Great
Caesar quickly occupied most of Thessaly’s cities, established supplies, set up camp near Farsala, and waited. Pompey, emboldened by the victory, moved behind Caesar. Supporters of Pompey were so confident in their victory that they cared not about how to win the battle, but about who would get what kind of positions upon returning to Rome. Pompey himself still preferred to starve than in the field, but his supporters were dissatisfied, as they thought, with the intention of delaying the war and in fact forced Pompey to attack Caesar. The winner of the Gauls happily accepted the challenge.
Roman infantry during the civil war
The forces of the sides are evaluated differently (Caesar himself speaks of more than twice the numerical superiority of the enemies, the ratio of cavalry even leads to 7 to 1), but in any case, it is obvious that Pompey had a tangible superiority both in the infantry and in the cavalry . The approximate size of the Republican army is 40 thousand infantry and 3 thousand cavalry. Caesar had 30 thousand legionaries and 2 thousand cavalrymen. Many veterans fought on both sides, but on the whole, Caesar’s army was better prepared and superior to the enemy.
Alignment of forces
Early in the morning, leaving the camp, the opponents lined up against each other. The infantry on both sides was built according to the tactics adopted in the Roman army - in three lines. One flank of each side rested against the stream Enipay, on the opposite flank was located the cavalry and arrows. Pompey’s plan was to meet the attack of the Caesarians on the spot (contrary to the usual practice when the masses of infantry from both sides attacked at the same time, Caesar himself calls it a “mutual attack”), and defeat Caesar’s weak cavalry and sweeping the left cavalry flank the enemy, press against Farsalu.
Caesar, however, aware of the superiority of Pompey's cavalry, built six of his best cohorts perpendicular to the rest of the infantry, in order to eliminate the coverage of his main forces with enemy cavalry, and left the third line of legionnaires in reserve, leaving only the first two to attack.
Farsala Battle Plan
The sun has risen Farsala!
The battle began with the attack of Caesar's legionnaires of the Pompeian center. While in the center a fierce infantry battle unfolded, Pompey's cavalry, pressing down Caesar's cavalry, advanced to reach the enemy. At that moment, the six cohorts that covered the infantry were rushing at her. And immediately Caesar's cavalry counterattacked the Republican cavalry. The combined actions of the infantry and cavalry crushed first Pompey's cavalry, and then his light troops. Immediately after that, Caesar decided to simultaneously throw all his forces into battle, including the third reserve line of his infantry. Pompeyans could not stand such pressure and quivered, Pompey did not even wait for the end of the battle and fled to the camp.
Caesar did not lose his happiness and sent exhausted troops to pursue the fleeing. Caesar himself reports about 15 thousand killed Pompeyans and another 24 thousand were taken prisoner, while he himself allegedly lost no more than 200 people. Despite the overall qualitative superiority of Caesar's troops, this day was hardly so rosy for him, at the same time we have no exact information from other sources. The Caesarians broke into the camp, Pompey fled. He went to Larissa, still occupied by Republicans, and after that he fled across the sea to Egypt. Caesar organized a strategic pursuit, during which the remnants of Pompey's forces in Greece were defeated. All those who doubted whose side should be taken or held on to the Republicans just because they saw them as winners immediately went over to Caesar, who willingly forgave his enemies of yesterday.
Consequences of the battle
However, the struggle did not end there, since Pompey himself remained alive and was ready to continue the struggle. Caesar could not follow him immediately to Egypt, since the dominance of the sea was still left for the Republicans, so Caesar chose a roundabout route through Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine. Nevertheless, the general battle was lost by the Republicans, and, despite the flight, the fate of Pompey was decided. Of course, the war lasted a few more years and ended at the other end of the state - in Spain, but it was after Farsala that the Republic collapsed and the foundation of the Empire was laid.