|554||Battle of Volturnus (Volturno, Casilinum, Capua)||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Outcome:||A magnificent victory for Narses and the beginning of the conquest of Italy||October 554|
|War & Enemy:||
Franks & Goths
Gothic War in Italy (535–554)
|The Battlefield|| Location:
On the Volturno River, near modern Capua, Southern Italy
| Modern Country:
|The Byzantines(emperor: Justinian I)||The Enemies|
|Commander:||General Narses||Butilinus & Leutharis|
|Losses:||only 8 killed||only 5 survived|
|Background story:||During the later stages of the Gothic War, the Ostrogoth king Teia called upon the Franks for help against the Byzantines under Narses. Although king Theodebald refused to send aid, he allowed two of his subjects, the Alamanni chieftains Leutharis (Lothar) and Butilinus (Buccelin), to cross into Italy. The two brothers gathered a host of 75,000 Franks and Alamanni, and in early 553 crossed the Alps, confident that they could overwhelm Narses, for whose military talents, eunuch and chamberlain as he was, they professed supreme contempt.
The two brothers advanced into central Italy and then divided their forces. Leucharis after plundering Apulia decided to go home, laden with spoils. His vanguard, however, was heavily defeated by Artabanes at Fanum, leaving most of the booty behind. The remainder managed to cross the Alps into Frankish territory, but not before losing more men to a plague, including Leutharis himself.
Butillinus had marched south towards Campania and he was finally persuaded by the Goths to risk an open battle with the Byzantine army which he tried to avoid until then. He encamped on the banks of the Vulturnus river, near modern Capua, and waited. Narses left Rome to meet him.
Narses, as usually, placed his cavalry on the two wings and the infantry in the center. Butilinus had drawn up his all-infantry army in the shape of a deep column, which should hit like a wedge through enemy lines. In this array the Franks attacked, armed with missile lances, swords, and axes, confident that they would sweep all before them at the first rush. They penetrated into the center of the Byzantine array, but there, found themselves between the cross-fire of the cavalry, who were all armed with bows. It was a complete annihilation. Butillinus was slain and only a handful escaped.
|Noteworthy:||The army of the Franks was initially 30, 000 but one third was lost of dysentery which was caused by the consumption of ripe grapes|
|Aftermath:||It was a magnificent victory for Narses, and signaled the final triumph of the Empire in Italy.|