This language roused not only the Cherusci but the neighbouring tribes
and drew to their side Inguiomerus, the uncle of Arminius, who had
long been respected by the Romans. This increased Caesar’s alarm.
That the war might not burst in all its fury on one point, he sent
Caecina through the Bructeri to the river Amisia with forty Roman
cohorts to distract the enemy, while the cavalry was led by its commander
Pedo by the territories of the Frisii. Germanicus himself put four
legions on shipboard and conveyed them through the lakes, and the
infantry, cavalry, and fleet met simultaneously at the river already
mentioned. The Chauci, on promising aid, were associated with us in
military fellowship. Lucius Stertinius was despatched by Germanicus
with a flying column and routed the Bructeri as they were burning
their possessions, and amid the carnage and plunder, found the eagle
of the nineteenth legion which had been lost with Varus. The troops
were then marched to the furthest frontier of the Bructeri, and all
the country between the rivers Amisia and Luppia was ravaged, not
far from the forest of Teutoburgium where the remains of Varus and
his legions were said to lie unburied.

Germanicus upon this was seized with an eager longing to pay the last
honour to those soldiers and their general, while the whole army present
was moved to compassion by the thought of their kinsfolk and friends,
and, indeed, of the calamities of wars and the lot of mankind. Having
sent on Caecina in advance to reconnoitre the obscure forest-passes,
and to raise bridges and causeways over watery swamps and treacherous
plains, they visited the mournful scenes, with their horrible sights
and associations. Varus’s first camp with its wide circumference and
the measurements of its central space clearly indicated the handiwork
of three legions. Further on, the partially fallen rampart and the
shallow fosse suggested the inference that it was a shattered remnant
of the army which had there taken up a position. In the centre of
the field were the whitening bones of men, as they had fled, or stood
their ground, strewn everywhere or piled in heaps. Near, lay fragments
of weapons and limbs of horses, and also human heads, prominently
nailed to trunks of trees. In the adjacent groves were the barbarous
altars, on which they had immolated tribunes and first-rank centurions.
Some survivors of the disaster who had escaped from the battle or
from captivity, described how this was the spot where the officers
fell, how yonder the eagles were captured, where Varus was pierced
by his first wound, where too by the stroke of his own ill-starred
hand he found for himself death. They pointed out too the raised ground
from which Arminius had harangued his army, the number of gibbets
for the captives, the pits for the living, and how in his exultation
he insulted the standards and eagles.

And so the Roman army now on the spot, six years after the disaster,
in grief and anger, began to bury the bones of the three legions,
not a soldier knowing whether he was interring the relics of a relative
or a stranger, but looking on all as kinsfolk and of their own blood,
while their wrath rose higher than ever against the foe. In raising
the barrow Caesar laid the first sod, rendering thus a most welcome
honour to the dead, and sharing also in the sorrow of those present.
This Tiberius did not approve, either interpreting unfavourably every
act of Germanicus, or because he thought that the spectacle of the
slain and unburied made the army slow to fight and more afraid of
the enemy, and that a general invested with the augurate and its very
ancient ceremonies ought not to have polluted himself with funeral

Germanicus, however, pursued Arminius as he fell back into trackless
wilds, and as soon as he had the opportunity, ordered his cavalry
to sally forth and scour the plains occupied by the enemy. Arminius
having bidden his men to concentrate themselves and keep close to
the woods, suddenly wheeled round, and soon gave those whom he had
concealed in the forest passes the signal to rush to the attack. Thereupon
our cavalry was thrown into disorder by this new force, and some cohorts
in reserve were sent, which, broken by the shock of flying troops,
increased the panic. They were being pushed into a swamp, well known
to the victorious assailants, perilous to men unacquainted with it,
when Caesar led forth his legions in battle array. This struck terror
into the enemy and gave confidence to our men, and they separated
without advantage to either.

Soon afterwards Germanicus led back his army to the Amisia, taking
his legions by the fleet, as he had brought them up. Part of the cavalry
was ordered to make for the Rhine along the sea-coast. Caecina, who
commanded a division of his own, was advised, though he was returning
by a route which he knew, to pass Long Bridges with all possible speed.
This was a narrow road amid vast swamps, which had formerly been constructed
by Lucius Domitius; on every side were quagmires of thick clinging
mud, or perilous with streams. Around were woods on a gradual slope,
which Arminius now completely occupied, as soon as by a short route
and quick march he had outstripped troops heavily laden with baggage
and arms. As Caecina was in doubt how he could possibly replace bridges
which were ruinous from age, and at the same time hold back the enemy,
he resolved to encamp on the spot, that some might begin the repair
and others the attack.

The barbarians attempted to break through the outposts and to throw
themselves on the engineering parties, which they harassed, pacing
round them and continually charging them. There was a confused din
from the men at work and the combatants. Everything alike was unfavourable
to the Romans, the place with its deep swamps, insecure to the foot
and slippery as one advanced, limbs burdened with coats of mail, and
the impossibility of aiming their javelins amid the water. The Cherusci,
on the other hand, were familiar with fighting in fens; they had huge
frames, and lances long enough to inflict wounds even at a distance.
Night at last released the legions, which were now wavering, from
a disastrous engagement. The Germans whom success rendered unwearied,
without even then taking any rest, turned all the streams which rose
from the slopes of the surrounding hills into the lands beneath. The
ground being thus flooded and the completed portion of our works submerged,
the soldiers’ labour was doubled.
The Annals by Tacitus