Battle of the Volturno

The Battle of the Volturno refers to a series of military clashes between Giuseppe Garibaldi's volunteers and the troops of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies occurring around the river Volturno, between the cities of Capua and Caserta in northern Campania, in September and October 1860. The main battle took place on the 1 October 1860 between 30,000 Garibaldines (mostly defected Sicilians, including from Calabria) and 25,000 Bourbon troops (Neapolitans).

Battle of the Volturnus
Part of The Expedition of the Thousand
Battaglia del Volturno - combattimento di Porta Romana, verso Santa Maria Maggiore - Perrin - litografia - 1861 (01).jpg
Scene from the battle.
Date1 October 1860 [1]
Result Garibaldine victory
Italy Southern Army Two Sicilies
Commanders and leaders
Giuseppe Garibaldi Giosuè Ritucci
20,000 [1][nb 1] 28,000 [1]
Casualties and losses
306 killed
1,327 wounded
389 missing
Total: 2,022 men [2]
260 killed
731 wounded
2,253 captured
Total: 3,244 men [2]


After Garibaldi's Expedition of Thousand had conquered Sicily and much of southern Italy with a startling speed, entering in Naples on the 7 September while the King Francis II of Two Sicilies took refuge in the powerful fortress of Gaeta, midway between Rome and Naples. In the meantime the Neapolitan army was rebuilt in Capua under marshal Giosuè Ritucci, the first skirmishes with Garibaldi's volunteers occurring on the 26 and 29 September.

On the 30 September a Neapolitan corps crossed the river Volturno at Triflisco, marching towards Santa Maria a Vologno, but was halted by two Garibaldine brigades. The following day Ritucci then decided a frontal attack with two divisions against Garibaldi's centre, which occupied a line running from Sant'Angelo in Formis and Santa Maria a Vico. After defeating the enemy, Ritucci was to reach Caserta and then Naples itself.


The two armies met on the western front on the 1 October, in which the Neapolitans, spurred by the presence of Francis himself, forced the Garibaldines to retreat. Garibaldi and his fellow Giacomo Medici intervened, re-establishing the situation. Harsh fights were taking place in the meantime at Santa Maria, but at 6:00pm the Neapolitans were pushed back; the Garibaldines were however defeated on the hills neat Monte Tifata, Monte Vito and Castel Morrone.

Nino Bixio, who defended the road to Maddaloni, was initially defeated by the attack of the Bavarian and Swiss brigade of General Giovan Luca von Mechel. In his support arrived colonel Giuseppe Dezza with two Bersaglieri battalions, which pushed back von Mechel northwards, up to Ducenta.

At that point the only undefeated Bourbon column was that of colonel Perrone, who was in Capua with 3,000 troops. The city was attacked on 2:00am by the Garibaldines and one Piedmontese regular Bersaglieri battalion, and captured.


A scene from the battle

After this battle, the largest by Garibaldi's expedition, both sides seemed exhausted. In the immediate aftermath, the battle was viewed as a defeat for Garibaldi, but in the longer term, it proved to his side's advantage. The cost for Garibaldi in men was higher: 306 killed and 1,327 wounded, but the Neapolitan forces had lost almost 1,000 in killed and wounded themselves and over 2,000 taken prisoner. The Bourbon army was unable to use its victory to capture Caserta. Both armies showed bravery, except perhaps for the Royal Guards and troops of Ruiz de Ballesteros, who were the largest cause of the defeat.

Garibaldi was forced to request troops from the Piedmontese. Yet while Francesco II wished to use the impasse for the Garibaldi forces, to attack again, his generals recommended that the troops be reorganised. Thus he left Capua for Gaeta, and was unable to retake his throne. Soon Piedmontese reinforcements arrived, defeating the Royal troops at Gaeta, and causing the King to flee.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Mundy, George Rodney (1863). H.M.S. 'Hannibal' at Palermo and Naples. London. p. 251.
  2. ^ a b Clodfelter, Micheal (2017). Warfare and Armed Conflicts. McFarland & Company. p. 182.
  3. ^ From Spanish Wikipedia

External linksEdit

  • Cerino Badone Giovanni, Volturno 1860. L'ultima battaglia, in Commissione Italiana di Storia Militare, Società Italiana di Storia Militare, L'anno di Teano, Atti del Convegno Nazione CISM-SISM su il Risorgimento e l'Europa, Roma 2011, pp. 273–307. Volume degli atti [1], testo dell'articolo [2], tavole ed illustrazioni [3].
  • Cesari, Cesare (1928). La campagna di Garibaldi nell'Italia Meridionale. (1860). Rome: Libreria dello Stato..


  1. ^ "... one half of which were Calabrese recruits, the other half Northern Italians and Sicilians, with a few French and Hungarians." {G. R. Mundy p.251}

Coordinates: 41°5′31″N 14°5′40″E / 41.09194°N 14.09444°E / 41.09194; 14.09444