4 January 46 BC

Julius Caesar fights Titus Labienus during the Battle of Ruspina.

The Battle of Ruspina was fought on 4 January 46 BC in the Roman province of Africa, between the Republican forces of the Optimates and forces loyal to Julius Caesar. The Republican army was commanded by Titus Labienus, Caesar’s former supporter who had defected to the Republican side at the beginning of the civil war.

Titus Labienus commanded the Optimate force and had his 8,000 Numidian cavalry and 1,600 Gallic and Germanic cavalry deploy in unusually close and dense formations for cavalry. The deployment accomplished its goal of misleading Caesar, who believed them to be close-order infantry. Caesar therefore deployed his army in a single extended line to prevent envelopment, with his small force of 150 archers up front and the 400 cavalry on the wings. In a surprising move, Labienus then extended his cavalry on both flanks to envelop Caesar, bringing up his Numidian light infantry in the center. The Numidian light infantry and cavalry began to wear the Caesarian legionaries down with javelins and arrows. This proved very effective, as the legionaries could not retaliate. The Numidians would simply withdraw to a safe distance and continue launching projectiles. The Numidian cavalry routed Caesar’s cavalry and succeeded in surrounding his legions, who redeployed into a circle to face attacks from all sides. The Numidian light infantry bombarded the legionaries with missiles. Caesar’s legionaries threw their pila at the enemy in return, but were ineffective. The nervous Roman soldiers bunched up together, making themselves easier targets for the Numidian missiles.

Titus Labienus rode up to the front rank of Caesar’s troops, coming very near in order to taunt the enemy troops. A veteran of the Tenth Legion approached Labienus, who recognized him. The veteran threw his pilum at Labienus’s horse, killing it. “That’ll teach you Labienus, that a soldier of the Tenth is attacking you”, the veteran growled, shaming Labienus in front of his own men. Some men however began to panic. One aquilifer attempted to flee but Caesar grabbed the man, spun him around and shouted “the enemy are over there!”.

Caesar gave the order to make the battle line as long as possible and every second cohort to turn around, so the standards would be facing the Numidian cavalry in the Romans’ rear and the other cohorts the Numidian light infantry to the front. The legionaries charged and threw their pila, scattering the Optimates infantry and cavalry. They pursued their enemy for a short distance, and began to march back to camp. However Marcus Petreius and Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso appeared with 1,600 Numidian cavalry and a large number of light infantry who harassed Caesar’s legionaries as they retreated. Caesar redeployed his army for combat and launched a counterattack that drove the Optimates forces back over high ground. Petreius was wounded at this point. Completely exhausted, both armies withdrew back to their camps.

Caesar had been defeated, having failed in his mission of gathering supplies. However, his army remained intact; Caesar fortified his camp at Ruspina and equipped sailors as light infantry to serve on land. The army’s craftsmen manufactured slingshots and javelins and Caesar sent messages to bring up as much grain and other supplies as possible.

Metellus Scipio joined forces with Labienus and Petreius and they set up camp three miles from Caesar’s.

4 January 1951

Chinese and North Korean forces capture Seoul during the Korean War.

The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border. The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force, came to the aid of South Korea. China came to the aid of North Korea, and the Soviet Union also gave some assistance to the North.

With Lieutenant-General Matthew Ridgway assuming the command of the U.S. Eighth Army on 26 December, the PVA and the KPA launched their Third Phase Offensive on New Year’s Eve of 1950. Utilizing night attacks in which UN Command fighting positions were encircled and then assaulted by numerically superior troops who had the element of surprise, the attacks were accompanied by loud trumpets and gongs, which fulfilled the double purpose of facilitating tactical communication and mentally disorienting the enemy. UN forces initially had no familiarity with this tactic, and as a result some soldiers panicked, abandoning their weapons and retreating to the south. The Chinese New Year’s Offensive overwhelmed UN forces, allowing the PVA and KPA to conquer Seoul for the second time on 4 January 1951.

B-26 Invaders bomb logistics depots in Wonsan, North Korea, 1951
These setbacks prompted General MacArthur to consider using nuclear weapons against the Chinese or North Korean interiors, with the intention that radioactive fallout zones would interrupt the Chinese supply chains. However, upon the arrival of the charismatic General Ridgway, the esprit de corps of the bloodied Eighth Army immediately began to revive.

UN forces retreated to Suwon in the west, Wonju in the center, and the territory north of Samcheok in the east, where the battlefront stabilized and held. The PVA had outrun its logistics capability and thus were unable to press on beyond Seoul as food, ammunition, and matériel were carried nightly, on foot and bicycle, from the border at the Yalu River to the three battle lines. In late January, upon finding that the PVA had abandoned their battle lines, General Ridgway ordered a reconnaissance-in-force, which became Operation Roundup. A full-scale X Corps advance proceeded, which fully exploited the UN Command’s air superiority, concluding with the UN reaching the Han River and recapturing Wonju.

Following the failure of ceasefire negotiations in January, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 498 on 1 February, condemning PRC as an aggressor, and called upon its forces to withdraw from Korea.

In early February, the South Korean 11th Division ran the operation to destroy the guerrillas and their sympathizer citizens in Southern Korea. During the operation, the division and police conducted the Geochang massacre and Sancheong-Hamyang massacre. In mid-February, the PVA counterattacked with the Fourth Phase Offensive and achieved initial victory at Hoengseong. But the offensive was soon blunted by the IX Corps positions at Chipyong-ni in the center. The U.S. 2nd Infantry “Warrior” Division’s 23rd Regimental Combat Team and the French Battalion fought a short but desperate battle that broke the attack’s momentum. The battle is sometimes known as the “Gettysburg of the Korean War”. 5,600 South Korean, U.S., and French troops were surrounded on all sides by 25,000 Chinese. United Nations forces had previously retreated in the face of large Communist forces instead of getting cut off, but this time they stood and fought, and won.

4 January 46 BC

Titus Labienus is defeated by Julius Caesar in the Battle of Ruspina.

The Battle of Ruspina was fought on January 4, 46 BC in the Roman province of Africa, between the Republican forces of the Optimates and forces loyal to Julius Caesar. The Republican army was commanded by Titus Labienus, Caesar’s former supporter who had defected to the Republican side at the beginning of the civil war. It was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire. It began as a series of political and military confrontations, between Julius Caesar, his political supporters, and his legions, against the Optimates, the politically conservative and socially traditionalist faction of the Roman Senate, who were supported by Pompey and his legions.

After a five-year-long politico-military struggle, fought in Italy, Illyria, Greece, Egypt, Africa, and Hispania, Caesar defeated the last of the Optimates in the Battle of Munda and became Dictator perpetuo of Rome. The changes to Roman government concomitant to the war mostly eliminated the political traditions of the Roman Republic and led to the Roman Empire.

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