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Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

Updated on September 13, 2015
Cenotaph of Marcus Caelius, who "fell in the war of Varus"
Cenotaph of Marcus Caelius, who "fell in the war of Varus"

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place in 9 A.D. in which German tribesmen inflicted a disastrous defeat on the Romans. At that time Publius Quinctilius Varus, one of Emperor Augustus' relatives, commanded the Roman army in Germany.

Late in the summer of 9 A.D., Varus led three legions to meet an army of rebellious Germans under the command of Arminius, a Cherusci chief. As Varus' army marched through the difficult terrain of the Teutoburg Forest, Arminius ambushed and annihilated the Romans. Varus committed suicide. The exact location of the battle is unknown, but it was probably between Osnabriick and Detmold.

The Battle of Teutoburg Forest was the greatest defeat suffered by the Roman Army during the early Roman Empire, and many historians believe that it is one of history's most significant battles. It has been claimed that the defeat put an end to Roman plans for the conquest of Germany because Augustus could not replace the men that were lost. When he heard about the defeat, he is reported to have lamented, "Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions".


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