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Belisarius versus Firuz: A Byzantine army under Belisarius chooses to fight a Sassanid army under Firuz outside the walls of a fortress rather than from within. Will Belisarius’ defensive position hold out against Firuz’ attacks? Also known as the Battle of Dara.
The glory of this battle was overshadowed by Belisarius’ defeat at Callinicum in 531. While a loss at this battle would have hurt the Byzantines, the battle stands out for its tactical intrigue and little more.
This battle illustrates the successful transition from defensive to offensive maneuver. Napoleon stated “The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by a rapid and audacious attack.” While Belisarius achieved the former, his attack was hardly audacious and the Sassanid army was repelled and not destroyed.
This is another battle I have animated from Goodenough’s Tactical Genius in Battle. The best account of the battle is from Haldon’s excellent The Byzantine Wars, which I strongly recommend. Details regarding this battle vary. Sources disagree on the exact shape of the Byzantine ditch and the relative timing of the two Sassanid cavalry attacks.
– Jonathan Webb
Chandler, David. The Art of Warfare on Land. Norwich: Jarold & Sons Ltd, 1974.
Dupuy, Trevor N. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From
3500 BC to the Present, Fourth Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Goodenough, Simon. Tactical Genius in Battle. Oxford: Phodian Press, 1979.
Haldon, John. The Byzantine Wars: Battles and Campaigns of the Byzantine Era. Stroud: Tempus, 2001.
Procopius. The Persian War. Edited by T.E. Page and W.H.D. Rouse. London: William Heinemann, 1943.
United States Military Academy History Department. “Atlas for Ancient Warfare.” United States Military Academy. http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/web03/atlases/AncientWarfare/index.htm (accessed Aug. 11, 2009).
Byzantine soldiers: http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?t=80998
Map of Eurasia: https://sites.google.com/a/umich.edu/imladjov/maps
Map of the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections
Sassanid soldiers: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_73b_figure_1.htm
If you enjoyed the Battle of Daras 530 battle animation, you may also enjoy these other battle animations: