1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Italian Wars

ITALIAN WARS (1848–1870), a generic name for the series of wars for Italian unity which began with the Milan insurrection of the 18th of March 1848 and closed with the capture of Rome by the Italians on the 20th of September 1870. For their Italian political interest see Italy: History. The present article deals with certain campaigns of distinctively military importance, viz. 1848–49, 1859 and 1866, in the first and third of which the centre of gravity of the nationalist movement was the Piedmontese regular army, and in the second the French army commanded by Napoleon III. On the other side the Austrian army was throughout the basis of the established order of things, settled at the Congress of Vienna on the theory that Italy was “a geographical expression.” Side by side with these regular armies, each of which was a special type, there fought national levies of widely varying kinds, and thus practically every known form of military service, except the fully organized “nation in arms” (then peculiar to Prussia) made its appearance in the field. Further, these wars constitute the greater part of European military history between Waterloo and Königgrätz—a bridge—if a broken one—between Napoleon and Moltke. They therefore present a considerable technical interest, wholly apart from their historical importance and romantic interest.

Austro-Sardinian War of 1848–1849

From about 1846 the spirit of revolt against foreign domination had gathered force, and two years later, when Europe was on the verge of a revolutionary outburst, the struggle for Italian unity was initiated by the insurrection at Milan. At this moment the Austrian army in Lombardy, practically a highly-trained force of long-service professional soldiers, was commanded by Radetzky, one of the greatest generals in Austrian history. Being, however, virtually an army of occupation, it was broken up into many garrisons, and in all was not more than 70,000 strong, so that after five days’ fighting in the streets of Milan, Radetzky did as Wellington had proposed to do in 1817 when his army of occupation in France was threatened by a national rising, and withdrew to a concentration area to await reinforcements. This area was the famous Quadrilateral, marked by the fortresses of Mantua, Verona, Peschiera and Legnago, and there, in the early days of April, the scattered fractions of the Austrians assembled. Lombardy and Venetia had followed the example of Milan, and King Charles Albert of Sardinia, mobilizing the Piedmontese army in good time, crossed the frontier, with 45,000 regulars two days after the Austrians had withdrawn from Milan. Had the insurrectionary movements and the advance of the Piedmontese been properly co-ordinated, there can be little doubt that some, at any rate, of the Austrian detachments would have been destroyed or injured in their retreat, but as it was they escaped without material losses. The blow given to Austrian prestige by the revolt of the great cities was, however, so severe that the whole peninsula rallied to Charles Albert. Venice, reserving a garrison for her own protection, set on foot an improvised army 11,000 strong on the mainland; some 5000 Lombards and 9000 insurgents from the smaller duchies gathered on both sides of the Po; 15,000 Papal troops under Durando and 13,000 Neapolitans under the old patriot general Pepe moved up to Ferrara and Bologna respectively, and Charles Albert with the Piedmontese advanced to the Mincio at the beginning of April. His motley command totalled 96,000 men, of whom, however, only half were thoroughly trained and disciplined troops. The reinforcements available in Austria were about 25,000 disciplined troops not greatly inferior in quality to Radetzky’s own veterans. Charles Albert could call up 45,000 levies at a few weeks’ notice, and eventually all the resources of the patriot party.

The regular war began in the second week of April on the Mincio, the passages of which river were forced and the Austrian advanced troops driven back on the 8th (action of Goito) and 9th. Radetzky maintained a careful defensive, and the king’s attempts to surprise Peschiera (14th) and Mantua (19th) were unsuccessful. But Peschiera was closely invested, though it was not forced to capitulate until the end of May. Meantime the Piedmontese army advanced towards Verona, and, finding Radetzky with a portion of his army on their left flank near Pastrengo, swung northward and drove him over the Adige above Verona, but on turning towards Verona they were checked (action of Pastrengo 28th-30th April and battle of Santa Lucia di Verona, 6th May).

Meantime the Austrian reinforcements assembled in Carniola under an Irish-born general, Count Nugent von Westmeath (1777–1862) and entered Friuli. Their junction with the field marshal was in the last degree precarious, every step of their march was contested by the levies and the townsmen of Venetia. The days of rifled artillery were not yet come, and a physical obstacle to the combined movements of trained regulars and a well-marked line of defence were all that was necessary to convert even medieval walled towns into centres of effective resistance. When the spirit of resistance was lacking, as it had been for example in 1799 (see French Revolutionary Wars), the importance of the walled towns corresponded simply to their material strength, which was practically negligible. But throughout the campaign of 1848–1849, the essential moral conditions of defence being present, the Austrians were hampered by an endless series of minor sieges, in which the effort expended was out of all proportion to the success achieved.

Nugent, however, pressed on, though every day weakened by small detachments, and, turning rather than overpowering each obstacle as it was encountered, made his way slowly by Belluno to Vicenza and Treviso and joined Radetzky at Verona on the 25th of May. The latter then for a moment took Radetzky
in the Quadrilateral.
the offensive, passing around the right flank of the loyal army by way of Mantua (actions of Curtatone, 29th May, and Goito, 30th May), but, failing of the success he expected he turned swiftly round and with 30,000 men attacked the 20,000 Italians (Papal troops, volunteers, Neapolitans) under Durando, who had established themselves across his line of communication at Vicenza, drove them away and reoccupied Vicenza (9th June), where a second body of reinforcements from Trent, clearing the Brenta valley (Val Sugana) as they advanced, joined him, the king meanwhile being held in check by the rest of Radetzky’s army.

After beating down resistance in the valleys of the Brenta and Piave, the field marshal returned to Verona. Charles Albert had now some 75,000 men actually in hand on the line of high ground, S. Giustina-Somma Campagna, and made the mistake of extending inordinately so as to cover his proposed siege of Mantua. Napoleon, fifty years before on the same ground (see [[1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/French Revolutionary Wars|French Revolutionary Wars]]), had only with great difficulty solved this same problem by the economical grouping and resolute handling of his forces, and Charles Albert, setting out his forces en cordon, was weak at all points of his long front of 45 m. Thus Radetzky, gathering his forces opposite the king’s centre (Sona, Somma Campagna), was able to break it (23rd July). The Piedmontese, however, fell back steadily, and 25,000 of them collected at Villafranca, whence on the 24th they counter-attacked and regained the heights at Custozza and Somma Campagna that they had lost. Radetzky, however, took the offensive again next morning and having succeeded in massing half of his army opposite to one quarter of the Piedmontese, was completely victorious (first battle of Custozza, 24th-25th July). Pursuing vigorously, the Austrians drove the king over the Mincio (action of Volta, 26th-27th), the Chiese, the Adda and the Ticino into his own dominions, Milan being reoccupied without fighting. The smaller bands of patriots were one after the other driven over the borders or destroyed. Venice alone held out to the end. Besieged by land and water, and bombarded as well, she prolonged her resistance until October 1849, long after the war had everywhere else come to an end.

The first campaign for unity had ended in complete failure, thanks to the genius of Radetzky and the thorough training, mobility and handiness of his soldiers. During the winter of 1848–1849—for, to avoid unnecessary waste of his precious veterans, Radetzky let the Piedmontese army retire unmolested over the Ticino—Charles Albert took energetic measures to reorganize, refit and augment his army. But his previous career had not fitted him to meet the crisis. With aspirations for unity he sympathized, and to that ideal he was soon to sacrifice his throne, but he had nothing in common with the distinctively revolutionary party, with whom circumstances had allied him. Radicalism, however, was a more obvious if a less real force than nationalism, and Charles Albert made it a fatal concession in appointing the Polish general Albert Chrzanowski (1788–1861) his principal adviser and commander-in-chief—an appointment that alienated the generals and the army, while scarcely modifying the sentiments of distrust with which the Liberal party regarded the king.[1]

In March the two main armies were grouped in the densely intersected district between Milan, Vercelli and Pavia (see sketch map below), separated by the Ticino, of which the outposts of either side watched the passages. Charles Albert had immediately in hand 65,000 men, some 25,000 Campaign
of Novara.
more being scattered in various detachments to right and left. Radetzky disposed of 70,000 men for field operations, besides garrisons. The recovery of Milan, the great city that had been the first to revolt, seemed to the Italians the first objective of the campaign. It was easier indeed to raise the whole country in arms than to crush the field-marshal’s regulars, and it was hoped that Radetzky would, on losing Milan, either retire to Lodi and perhaps to Mantua (as in 1848), or gather his forces for battle before Milan. Radetzky himself openly announced that he would take the offensive, and the king’s plans were framed to meet this case also. Two-thirds of the army, 4 divisions, were grouped in great depth between Novara, Galliate and Castelnuovo. A little to the right, at Vespolate and Vigevano, was one division under Durando, and the remaining division under Ramorino was grouped opposite Pavia with orders to take that place if possible, but if Radetzky advanced thence, to fall back fighting either on Mortara or Lomello,[2] while the main body descended on the Austrian flank. The grouping both of Ramorino and of the main body—as events proved in the case of the latter—cannot be seriously criticized, and indeed one is almost tempted to assume that Chrzanowski considered the case of Radetzky’s advance on Mortara more carefully than that of his own advance on Milan. But the seething spirit of revolt did not allow the army that was Italy’s hope to stand still at a foreign and untried general’s dictation and await Radetzky’s coming. On the 19th of March orders were issued to the main body for the advance on Milan and on the 20th one division, led by the king himself, crossed the Ticino at San Martino.

But no Austrians were encountered, and such information as was available indicated that Radetzky was concentrating to his left on the Pavia-Lodi road. Chrzanowski thereupon, abandoning (if indeed he ever entertained) the idea of Radetzky’s retirement and his own triumphal march on Milan, suspended the advance. His fears were justified, for that evening he heard that Ramorino had abandoned his post and taken his division across the Po. After the war this general was shot for disobedience, and deservedly, for the covering division, the fighting flank-guard on which Chrzanowski’s defensive-offensive depended, was thus withdrawn at the moment when Radetzky’s whole army was crossing the Ticino at Pavia and heading for Mortara.[3]

The four Austrian corps began to file across the Ticino at noon on the 20th, and by nightfall the heads of Radetzky’s columns were at Zerbolo, Gambolo and La Cava, the reserve at Pavia, a flank-guard holding the Cava-Casatisma road over the Po against the contingency of Ramorino’s return, and the two brigades that had furnished the outposts along the Ticino closing on Bereguardo.

Chrzanowski, however, having now to deal with a foreseen case, gave his orders promptly. To replace Ramorino, the 1st division was ordered from Vespolate through Mortara to Trumello; the 2nd division from Cerano to push south on Vigevano; Action of Mortara. the reserve from Novara to Mortara; the remainder to follow the 2nd division. Had the 1st division been placed at Mortara instead of Vespolate in the first instance the story of the campaign might have been very different, but here again, though to a far less culpable degree, a subordinate general’s default imperilled the army. Durando (21st March), instead of pushing on as ordered to Trumello to take contact with the enemy, halted at Mortara. The reserve also halted there and deployed west of Mortara to guard against a possible attack from San Giorgio. The Sardinian advanced guard on the other road reached Borgo San Siro, but there met and was driven back by Radetzky’s II. corps under Lieut. Field Marshal d’Aspre (1789–1850), which was supported by the brigades that now crossed at Bereguardo. But the Italians were also supported, the Austrians made little progress, and by nightfall the Sardinian II., III. and IV. divisions had closed up around Vigevano. Radetzky indeed intended his troops on the Vigevano road to act simply as a defensive flank-guard and had ordered the rest of his army by the three roads, Zerbolo-Gambolo, Gropello-Trumello and Lomello-San Giorgio, to converge on Mortara. The rearmost of the two corps on the Gambolo road (the I.) was to serve at need as a support to the flank-guard, and, justly confident in his troops, Radetzky did not hesitate to send a whole corps by the eccentric route of Lomello. And before nightfall an important success had justified him, for the II. corps from Gambolo, meeting Durando outside Mortara had defeated him before the Sardinian reserve, prematurely deployed on the other side of the town, could come to his assistance. The remaining corps of Radetzky’s army were still short of Mortara when night came, but this could hardly be well known at the royal headquarters, and, giving up the slight chances of success that a counterstroke from Vigevano on Mortara offered, Chrzanowski ordered a general concentration on Novara. This was effected on the 22nd, on which day Radetzky, pushing out the II. corps towards Vespolate, concentrated the rest at Mortara. That the Italians had retired was clear, but it was not known whither, and, precisely as Napoleon had done before Marengo (see French Revolutionary Wars), he sent one corps to seize the king’s potential line of retreat, Novara-Vercelli, kept one back at Mortara—ready, it may be presumed, to grapple an enemy coming from Vigevano—and engaged the other three in a single long column, widely spaced out, on the Novara road. Thus it came about that on the 23rd d’Aspre’s II. corps encountered Charles Albert’s whole army long before the III. and Reserve could join it. The battle of Novara was, nevertheless, as great an event in the history of the Imperial-Royal Army as Marengo in that of the French.

First the II. corps, and then the II. and III. together attacked with the utmost resolution, and as the hours went by more and more of the whitecoats came on the field until at last the IV. corps, swinging inward from Robbio, came on to the flank of the defence. This was no mere strategical triumph; Novara. the Austrians, regiment for regiment, were more than a match for the Italians and the result was decisive. Charles Albert abdicated, and the young Victor Emmanuel II., his successor, had to make a hasty armistice.

After Novara, the first great struggle for Italian unity was no more than a spasmodic, if often desperate, struggle of small bodies of patriots and citizens of walled towns to avert the inevitable. The principal incidents in the last phase were the siege of Venice, the sack of Brescia by the merciless Haynau and the capture of Rome by a French expeditionary corps under General Oudinot.

The Italian War of 1859

The campaign of Magenta and Solferino took place ten years later. Napoleon III., himself an ex-carbonaro, and the apostle of the theory of “nationalities,” had had his attention and his ambitions drawn towards the Italian problem by the attempt upon his life by Orsini. The general political horizon was by no means clear at the end of 1858, and on the 1st of January 1859 the emperor of the French publicly expressed to the Austrian ambassador his regret that “our relations are not so good as heretofore.” This was regarded by all concerned as a prelude to war, and within a short time a treaty and a marriage-contract allied Sardinia with the leading European power. In the smaller Italian states, as before, the governments were on the side of Austria and the “settlement of 1815,” and the peoples on that of United Italy. The French still maintained a garrison in Rome to support the pope. The thorny question of the temporal power versus the national movement was not yet in the foreground, and though Napoleon’s support of the former was later to prove his undoing, in 1859 the main enemy was Austria and the paramount factor was the assistance of 200,000 French regulars in solving the immediate problem.

The Sardinian army, reconstituted by La Marmora with the definite object of a war for union and rehabilitated by its conduct in the Crimea, was eager and willing. The French army, proud of its reputation as the premier army in the world, and composed, three-fourths of it, of professional soldiers whose gospel was the “Legend,” welcomed a return to the first Napoleon’s battle-grounds, while the emperor’s ambitions coincided with his sentiments. Austria, on the other hand, did not desire war. Her only motive of resistance was that it was impossible to cede her Italian possessions in face of a mere threat. To her, even more than to France and infinitely more than to Italy, the war was a political war, a “war with a limited aim” or “stronger form of diplomatic note”; it entirely lacked the national and personal spirit of resistance which makes even a passive defence so powerful.

Events during the period of tension that preceded the actual declaration of war were practically governed by these moral conditions. Such advantages as Austria possessed at the outset could only be turned to account, as will presently appear, by prompt action. But her army system was a combination of conscription and the “nation in arms,” which for the diplomatic war on hand proved to be quite inadequate. Whereas the French army was permanently on a two-thirds war footing (400,000 peace, 600,000 war), that of Austria required to be more than doubled on mobilization by calling in reservists. Now, the value of reservists is always conditioned by the temper of the population from which they come, and it is more than probable that the indecision of the Austrian government between January and April 1859 was due not only to its desire on general grounds to avoid war, but also, and perhaps still more, to its hopes of averting it by firmness, without having recourse to the possibly dangerous expedient of a real mobilization. A few years before the method of “bluffing” had been completely successful against Prussia. But the Prussian reservist of 1850 did not want to fight, whereas the French soldier of 1859 desired nothing more ardently.

In these conditions the Austrian preparations were made sparingly, but with ostentation. The three corps constituting the Army of Italy (commanded since Radetzky’s death in 1858 by Feldzeugmeister Count Franz Gyulai (1798–1863)), were maintained at war efficiency, but not at war strength (corps averaging 15,000). Instead, however, of mobilizing them, the Vienna government sent an army corps (III.) from Vienna at peace strength in January. This was followed by the II. corps, also at peace strength, in February, and the available field force, from that point, could have invaded Piedmont at once.[4] The initial military situation was indeed all in favour of Austria. Her mobilization was calculated to take ten weeks, it is true, but her concentration by rail could be much more speedily effected than that of the French, who had either to cross the Alps on foot or to proceed to Genoa by sea and thence by one line of railway to the interior. Further, the demands of Algeria, Rome and other garrisons, the complicated political situation and the consequent necessity of protecting the French coasts against an English attack,[5] and still more the Rhine frontier against Prussia and other German states (a task to which the greatest general in the French army, Pélissier, was assigned), materially reduced the size of the army to be sent to Italy. But the Austrian government held its hand, and the Austrian commander, apparently nonplussed by the alternation of quiescence Mobilization. and boldness at Vienna, asked for full mobilization and turned his thoughts to the Quadrilateral that had served Radetzky so well in gaining time for the reserves to come up. March passed away without an advance, and it was not until the 5th of April that the long-deferred order was issued from Vienna to the reservists to join the II., III., V., VII. and VIII. corps in Italy. And, after all, Gyulai took the field, at the end of April, with most of his units at three-quarters of their war strength.[6] On the side of the allies the Sardinians mobilized 5 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions, totalling 64,000, by the third week in April. A few days later Austria sent an ultimatum to Turin. This was rejected on the 26th, war being thereupon declared. As for the French, the emperor’s policy was considerably in advance of his war minister’s preparations. The total of about 130,000 men (all that could be spared out of 500,000) for the Italian army was not reached until operations were in progress; and the first troops only entered Savoy or disembarked in Genoa on the 25th and 26th of April.

Thus, long as the opening had been delayed, there was still a period after both sides had resolved on and prepared for war, during which the Austrians were free to take the offensive. Had the Austrians crossed the frontier instead of writing an ultimatum on the 19th of April, Austrian movements. they would have had from a week to a fortnight to deal with the Sardinians. But even the three or four days that elapsed between the declaration and the arrival of the first French soldiers were wasted. Vienna ordered Gyulai to take the offensive on the 27th, but it was not until the 30th that the Austrian general crossed the Ticino. His movements were unopposed, the whole of the Sardinian army having concentrated (by arrangement between La Marmora and Marshal Canrobert) in a flank position between Casale and Alessandria, where it covered Turin indirectly and Genoa, the French disembarkation port, directly. Gyulai’s left was on the 2nd of May opposite the allied centre, and his right stretched as far as Vercelli.[7] On the 3rd he planned a concentric attack on King Victor Emmanuel’s position, and parts of his scheme were actually put into execution, but he suspended it owing to news of the approach of the French from Genoa, supply difficulties (Radetzky, the inheritor of the 18th-century traditions, had laid it down that the soldier must be well fed and that the civilian must not be plundered, conditions which were unfavourable to mobility) and the heavy weather and the dangerous state of the rivers.

EB1911 Italian Wars 1.jpg

Gyulai then turned his attention to the Sardinian capital. Three more days were spent in a careful flank march to the right, and on the 8th of May the army (III., V. and VII.) was grouped about Vercelli, with outposts 10-14 m. beyond the Sesia towards Turin, reserves (II. and VIII.) round Mortara, and a flank-guard detached from Benedek’s VIII. corps watching the Po. The extreme right of the main body skirmished with Garibaldi’s volunteers on the edge of the Alpine country. The Turin scheme was, however, soon given up. Bivouacs, cancelled orders and crossings of marching columns all contributed to exhaust the troops needlessly. On the 9th one corps (the V.) had its direction Austrians grouped at Mortara. and disposition altered four times, without any change in the general situation to justify this. In fact, the Austrian headquarters were full of able soldiers, each of whom had his own views on the measures to be taken and a certain measure of support from Vienna—Gyulai, Colonel Kuhn his chief of staff, and Feldzeugmeister Hess, who had formerly played Gneisenau to Radetzky’s Blücher. But what emerges most clearly from the movements of these days is that Gyulai himself distrusted the offensive projects he had been ordered to execute, and catching apparently at some expression of approval given by the emperor, had determined to imitate Radetzky in “a defensive based on the Quadrilateral.” His immediate intention, on abandoning the advance on Turin was to group his army around Mortara and to strike out as opportunity offered against the heads of the allied columns wherever they appeared. Meantime, the IX. corps had been sent to Italy, and the I. and XI. were mobilizing. These were to form the I. Army, Gyulai’s the II. The latter was by the 13th of May grouped in the Lomellina, one third (chiefly VII. corps) spread by brigades fanwise from Vercelli along the Sesia and Po to Vaccarizza, two thirds massed in a central position about Mortara. There was still no information of the enemy’s distribution, except what was forwarded from Vienna or gathered by the indefatigable Urban’s division, which moved from Milan to Biella, thence to Brescia and Parma, and back to Lombardy in search of revolutionary bands, and the latter’s doings in the nature of things could not afford any certain inferences as to the enemy’s regular armies.

On the side of the allies, the Piedmontese were grouped on the 1st of May in the fortified positions selected for them by Canrobert about Valenza-Casale-Alessandria. The French III. corps arrived on the 2nd and 3rd and the IV. corps on the 7th at Alessandria from Genoa. Unhampered by Gyulai’s offensive, though at times and places disquieted by his minor reconnaissances, the allies assembled until on the 16th the French were stationed as follows: I. corps, Voghera and Pontecurone, II., Sale and Bassignana, III., Tortona, IV., Valenza, Guard, Alessandria, and the king’s army between Valenza and Casale. The V. French corps under Prince Napoleon had a political mission in the duchies of middle Italy; one division of this corps, however, followed the main army. On the eve of the first collision the emperor Napoleon, commanding in chief, had in hand about 100,000 French and about 60,000 Sardinian troops (not including Garibaldi’s enlisted volunteers or the national guard). Gyulai’s II. Army was nominally of nearly equal force to that of the allies, but in reality it was only about 106,000 strong in combatants.

The first battle had no relation to the strategy contemplated by the emperor, and was still less a part of the defence scheme framed by Gyulai. The latter, still pivoting on Mortara, had between the 14th and 19th drawn his army somewhat to the left, in proportion as more and more of Montebello. the French came up from Genoa. He had further ordered a reconnaissance in force in the direction of Voghera by a mixed corps drawn from the V., Urban’s division and the IX. (the last belonging to the I. Army). The saying that “he who does not know what he wants, yet feels that he must do something, appeases his conscience by a reconnaissance in force,” applies to no episode more forcibly than to the action of Montebello (20th May) where Count Stadion, the commander of the V. corps, not knowing what to reconnoitre, engaged disconnected fractions of his available 24,000 against the French division of Forey (I. corps), 8000 strong, and was boldly attacked and beaten, with a loss of 1400 men against Forey’s 700.

Montebello had, however, one singular result: both sides fell back and took defensive measures. The French headquarters were already meditating, if they had not actually resolved upon, a transfer of all their forces from right to left, to be followed by a march on Milan Flank march of the Allies. (a scheme inspired by Jomini). But the opening of the movement was suspended until it became quite certain that Stadion’s advance meant nothing, while Gyulai (impressed by Forey’s aggressive tactics) continued to stand fast, and thus it was not until the 28th that the French offensive really began.[8] The infantry of the French III. corps was sent by rail from Pontecurone to Casale, followed by the rest of the army, which marched by road. To cover the movement D’Autemarre’s division of Prince Napoleon’s corps (V.) was posted at Voghera and one division of the king’s army remained at Valenza. The rest of the Piedmontese were pushed northward to join Cialdini’s division which was already at Vercelli. The emperor’s orders were for Victor Emmanuel to push across the Sesia and to take post at Palestro on the 30th to cover the crossing of the French at Vercelli. This the king carried out, driving back outlying bodies of the enemy in spite of a stubborn resistance and the close and difficult character of the country. Hearing of the fighting, Gyulai ordered the recapture of Palestro by the II. corps, but the Sardinians during the night strengthened their positions and the attack (31st) was repulsed with heavy loss. These two initial successes of the allies, the failures in Austrian tactics and leadership which they revealed, and the fatigues and privation to which indifferent staff work had exposed his troops, combined to confirm Gyulai in his now openly expressed intention of “basing his defensive on the Quadrilateral.” And indeed his only alternatives were now to fall back or to concentrate on the heads of the French columns as soon as they had passed the Sesia about Vercelli. Faithful to his view of the situation he adopted the former course (1st June). The retreat began on the 2nd, while the French were still busied in closing up. Equally with the Austrians, the French were the victims of a system of marching and camping that, by requiring the tail of the columns to close up on the head every evening, reduced the day’s net progress to 6 or 7 m., although the troops were often under arms for fourteen or fifteen hours. The difference between the supreme commands of the rival armies lay not in the superior generalship of one or the other, but in the fact that Napoleon III. as sovereign knew what he wanted and as general pursued this object with much energy, whereas Gyulai neither knew how far his government would go nor was entire “master in his own house.”

The latter became very evident in his retreat. Kuhn, the chief of staff, who was understood to represent the views of the general staff in Vienna, had already protested against Gyulai’s retrograde movement, and on the 3rd Hess appeared from Vienna as the emperor’s direct representative Austrian retreat. and stopped the movement. It was destined to be resumed after a short interval, but meanwhile the troops suffered from the orders and counter-orders that had marked every stage in the Austrian movements and were now intensified instead of being removed by higher intervention. Meanwhile (June 1-2) the allies had regrouped themselves east of the Sesia for the movement on Milan. The IV. corps, driving out an Austrian detachment at Novara, established itself there, and was joined by the II. and Guard. The king’s army, supported by the I. and III. corps, was about Vercelli, with cavalry far out to the front towards Vespolate. From Novara, the emperor, who desired to give his troops a rest-day on the 2nd, pushed out first a mixed reconnaissance and then in the afternoon two divisions French advance to the Ticino. to seize the crossing of the Ticino, Camou’s of the Guard on Turbigo, Espinasse’s of the II. corps on San Martino. Further the whole of the Vercelli group was ordered to advance on the 3rd to Novara and Galliate, where Napoleon would on the 4th have all his forces, except one division, beyond Gyulai’s right and in hand for the move on Milan. The division sent to Turbigo bridged the river and crossed in the night of the 2nd/3rd, that at San Martino (on the main road) occupied the bridge-head and also the river bridge itself, though the latter was damaged. Espinasse’s division here was during the night replaced by a Guard division and went to join a growing assembly of troops under General MacMahon, which established itself at Turbigo and Robecchetto on the morning of the 3rd. Lastly, in order to make sure that no attack was impending from the direction of Mortara, Napoleon sent General Niel with a mixed reconnoitring force thither, which returned without meeting any Austrian forces—fortunately for itself, if the fate of the “reconnaissance in force” at Montebello proves anything.

The centre of gravity was now at Buffalora, a village on the main Milan road at the point where it crosses the Naviglio Grande. Here, on the night of the 1st, Count Clam-Gallas, commanding the Austrian I. corps (which had just arrived in Italy and was to form part of the future I. Army) had posted a division, with a view to occupying the bridge-head of San Martino. On inspecting the latter Clam-Gallas concluded that it was indefensible, and, ordering the San Martino road and railway bridges to be destroyed (an order which was only partially executed), he called on Gyulai for support, sent out detachments to the right against the French troops reported at Turbigo, and prepared to hold his ground at Buffalora. On receipt of Clam-Gallas’s report at the Austrian headquarters, Hess ordered the resumption of the retreat that he had countermanded, but it was already late and many of the troops did not halt for the night till midnight, June 3rd/4th. Gyulai promised them the 4th as a rest-day, but fortune ordered it otherwise. This much at least was in favour of the Austrians, that when the troops at last reached their assigned positions four-fifths of them were within 12 m. of the battlefield. But, as before, the greater part of the army was destined to be chained to “supporting positions” well back from the battlefield.

When day broke on the 4th, the emperor of the French was still uncertain as to Gyulai’s whereabouts, and his intention was therefore no more than to secure the passage of the Ticino and to place his army on both sides of the river, in sufficient strength to make head against Gyulai, whether the latter Battle of Magenta. advanced from Mortara and Vigevano or from Abbiategrasso. He therefore kept back part of the French army and the whole of the Sardinian. But during the morning it became known that Gyulai had passed the Ticino on the evening of the 3rd; and Napoleon then ordered up all his forces to San Martino and Turbigo. The battlefield of Magenta is easily described. It consists of two level plateaux, wholly covered with vineyards, and between them the broad and low-lying valley of the Ticino. This, sharply defined by the bluffs of the adjoining plateaux, is made up of backwaters, channels, water meadows and swampy woods. At Turbigo the band of low ground is 11/2 m. wide, at Buffalora 21/2. Along the foot of the eastern or Austrian bluffs between Turbigo and Buffalora runs the Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande); this, however, cuts into the plateau itself at the latter place and trending gradually inwards leaves a tongue of high ground separate from the main plateau. The Novara-Milan road and railway, crossing the Ticino by the bridge of San Martino, pass the second obstacle presented by the canal by the New Bridges of Magenta, the Old Bridge being 1000 yards south of these. The canal is bridged at several points between Turbigo and Buffalora, and also at Robecco, 11/2 m. to the (Austrian) left of the Old Bridge. Clam-Gallas’s main line of defence was the canal between Turbigo and the Old Bridge, skirmishers being posted on the tongue of high ground in front of the New Bridges, which were kept open for their retreat. He had been joined by the II. corps and disposed of 40,000 men, 27,000 more being at Abbiategrasso (21/2 m. S. of Robecco). Of his immediate command, he disposed about 12,000 for the defence of the New Bridges, 12,000 for that of Buffalora, 8000 at Magenta and 8000 at Robecco; all bridges, except the New Bridges, were broken. Cavalry played no part whatever, and artillery was only used in small force to fire along roads and paths.

Napoleon, as has been mentioned, spent the morning of the 4th in ascertaining that Gyulai had repassed the Ticino. Being desirous merely of securing the passage and having only a small force available for the moment at San Martino, he kept this back in the hope that MacMahon’s advance from Turbigo on Magenta and Buffalora would dislodge the Austrians. MacMahon advanced in two columns, 2 divisions through Cuggiono and 1 through Inveruno. The former drove back the Austrian outposts with ease, but on approaching Buffalora found so serious a resistance that MacMahon broke off the fight in order to close up and deploy his full force. Meantime, however, on hearing the cannonade Napoleon had ordered forward Mellinet’s division of the Guard on the New Bridges and Buffalora. The bold advance of this corps d’élite carried both points at once, but the masses of the allies who had been retained to meet a possible attack from Mortara and Vigevano were still far distant and Mellinet was practically unsupported. Thus the French, turning towards the Old Bridge, found themselves (3.30 p.m.) involved in a close fight with some 18,000 Austrians, and meantime Gyulai had begun to bring up his III. and VII. corps towards Robecco and (with Hess) had arrived on the field himself. The VII. corps, on its arrival, drove Mellinet back to and over the New Bridges, but the French, now broken up into dense swarms of individual fighters, held on to the tongue of high ground and prevented the Austrians from destroying the bridges, while the occupants of Buffalora similarly held their own, and beyond them MacMahon, advancing through orchards and vineyards in a line of battle 2 m. long, slowly gained ground towards Magenta. The III. Austrian corps, meanwhile, arriving at Robecco spread out on both sides of the canal and advanced to take the defenders of the New Bridges in rear, but were checked by fresh French troops which arrived from San Martino (4 p.m.). The struggle for the New and Old Bridges continued till 6 p.m., more and more troops being drawn into the vortex, but at last the Austrians, stubbornly defending each vineyard, fell back on Magenta. But while nearly all the Austrian reinforcements from the lower Ticino had successively been directed on the bridges, MacMahon had only had to deal with the 8000 men who had originally formed the garrison of Magenta. The small part of the reinforcing troops that had been directed thither by Gyulai before he was aware of the situation, had in consequence no active rôle defined in their orders and (initiative being then regarded as a vice) they stood fast while their comrades were beaten. But it was not until after sunset that the thronging French troops at last broke into Magenta and the victory was won. The splendid Austrian cavalry (always at a disadvantage in Italy) found no opportunity to redress the balance, and their slow-moving and over-loaded infantry, in spite of its devotion, was no match in broken country for the swift and eager French. The forces engaged were 54,000 French (one-third of the allied army) to 58,000 Austrians (about half of Gyulai’s total force). Thus the fears of Napoleon as regards an Austrian attack from Mortara-Vigevano neutralized the bad distribution of his opponent’s force, and Magenta was a fair contest of equal numbers. The victory of the French was palpably the consequence not of luck or generalship but of specific superiority in the soldier. The great result of the battle was therefore a conviction, shared by both sides, that in future encounters nothing but exceptional good fortune or skilful generalship could give the Austrians victory. The respective losses were: French 4000 killed and wounded and 600 missing, Austrians 5700 killed and wounded, 4500 missing.

While the fighting was prolonged to nightfall, the various corps of the Austrian army had approached, and it was Gyulai’s intention to resume the battle next day with 100,000 men. But Clam-Gallas reported that the I. and II. corps were fought out, and thereupon Gyulai resolved to retreat on Cremona and Mantua, leaving the great road Milan-Brescia unused, for the townsmen’s patriotism was sharpened by the remembrance of Haynau, “the Hyena of Brescia.” Milan and Pavia were evacuated on the 5th, Hess departed to meet the emperor Francis Joseph (who was coming to take command of the united I. and II. Armies), and although Kuhn was still in favour of the offensive Gyulai decided that the best service he could render was to deliver up the army intact to his sovereign on the Mincio. On the 8th of June Napoleon and Victor Emmanuel made their triumphal entry into Milan, while their corps followed up rather than pursued the retreating enemy along the Lodi and Cremona roads. On the same day, the 8th of June, the I. and II. French corps, under the general command of Marshal Baraguay d’Hilliers, attacked an Austrian rearguard (part of VIII. corps, Benedek) Melegnano. at the village of Melegnano. MacMahon with the II. corps was to turn the right flank, the IV. the left of the defenders, while Baraguay attacked in front. But MacMahon, as at Magenta, deployed into a formal line of battle before closing on the village, and his progress through the vineyards was correspondingly slow. The IV. corps was similarly involved in intricate country, but Baraguay, whose corps had not been present at Magenta, was burning to attack, and being a man aussi dur à ses soldats qu’à lui-même, he delivered the frontal attack about 6 p.m. without waiting for the others. This attack, as straightforward, as brusque, and as destitute of tactical refinements as that of the Swiss on that very ground in 1515 (Marignan), was carried out, without “preparation,” by Bazaine’s division à la baïonnette. Benedek was dislodged, but retreated safely, having inflicted a loss of over 1000 men on the French, as against 360 in his own command.

After Melegnano, as after Magenta, contact with the retiring enemy was lost, and for a fortnight the story of the war is simply that of a triumphal advance of the allies and a quiet retirement and reorganization of the Austrians. Up to Magenta Napoleon had a well-defined scheme and executed it with vigour. But the fierceness of the battle itself had not a little effect on his strange dreamy character, and although it was proved beyond doubt that under reasonable conditions the French must win in every encounter, their emperor turned his attention to dislodging rather than to destroying the enemy. War clouds were gathering elsewhere—on the Rhine above all. The simple brave promise to free Italy “from the Alps to the Adriatic” became complicated by many minor issues, and the emperor was well content to let his enemy retire and to accelerate that retirement by manœuvre as far as might be necessary. He therefore kept on the left of his adversary’s routes as before, and about the 20th of June the whole allied army (less Cialdini’s Sardinian division, detached to operate on the fringe of the mountain country) was closely grouped around Montechiaro on the Chiese. It now consisted of 107,000 French and 48,000 Sardinians (combatants only).

The Austrians had disappeared into the Quadrilateral, where the emperor Francis Joseph assumed personal command, with Hess as his chief of staff. Gyulai had resigned the command of the II. Army to Count Schlick, a cavalry general of 70 years of age. The I. Army was under Austrians
on the
Mincio.
Count Wimpffen. But this partition produced nothing but evil. The imperial headquarters still issued voluminous detailed orders for each corps, and the intervening army staff was a cause not of initiative or of simplification, but of unnecessary delay. The direction of several armies, in fact, is only feasible when general directions (directives as they are technically called) take the place of orders. All the necessary conditions for working such a system—uniformity of training, methods and doctrine in the recipients, abstention from interference in details by the supreme command—were wanting in the Austrian army of 1859. The I. Army consisted of the III., IX. and XI. corps with one cavalry division and details, 67,000 in all; the II. Army of the I., V., VII. and VIII. corps, one cavalry division and details or 90,000 combatants—total 160,000, or practically the same force as the allies. The emperor had made several salutary changes in the administration, notably an order to the infantry to send their heavy equipment and parade full-dress into the fortresses, which enormously lightened the hitherto overburdened infantryman. At this moment the political omens were favourable, and gathering the impression from his outpost reports that the French were in two halves, separated by the river Chiese, the young emperor at last accepted Hess’s advice to resume the offensive, in view of which Gyulai had left strong outposts west of the Mincio, when the main armies retired over that river, and had maintained and supplemented the available bridges.

EB1911 Italian Wars 2 - Solferino.jpg

The possibility of such a finale to the campaign had been considered but dismissed at the allied headquarters, where it was thought that if the Austrians took the offensive it would be on their own side, not the enemy’s, of the Mincio and in the midst of the Quadrilateral. Thus the advance of the French army on the 24th was simply to be a general move to the line of the Mincio, preparatory to forcing the crossings, coupled with the destruction of the strong outpost bodies that had been left by the Austrians at Solferino, Guidizzolo, &c. The Austrians, who advanced over the Mincio on the 23rd, also thought that the decisive battle would take place on the third or fourth day of their advance. Thus, although both armies moved with all precautions as if a battle was the immediate object, neither expected a collision, and Solferino was consequently a pure encounter-battle.

Speaking generally, the battlefield falls into two distinct halves, the hilly undulating country, of which the edge (almost everywhere cliff-like) is defined by Lonato, Castiglione, Cavriana and Volta, and the plain of Medole and Guidizzolo. The village of Solferino is within the elevated ground, but Battle of Solferino. close to the edge. Almost in the centre of the plateau is Pozzolengo, and from Solferino and Pozzolengo roads lead to crossing places of the Mincio above Volta (Monzambano-Salionze and Valeggio). These routes were assigned to the Piedmontese (44,000) and the French left wing (I., II. and Guard, 57,000), the plain to the III. and IV. corps and 2 cavalry divisions (50,000). On the other side the Austrians, trusting to the defensive facilities of the plateau, had directed the II. Army and part of the I. (86,000) into the plain, 2 corps of the I. Army (V. and I.) on Solferino-Cavriana (40,000), and only the VIII. corps (Benedek), 25,000 strong, into the heart of the undulating ground. One division was sent from Mantua towards Marcaria. Thus both armies, though disposed in parallel lines, were grouped in very unequal density at different points in these lines.

The French orders for the 24th were—Sardinian army on Pozzolengo, I. corps Esenta to Solferino, II. Castiglione to Cavriana, IV. with two cavalry divisions, Carpenedolo to Guidizzolo, III. Mezzane to Medole by Castel Goffredo; Imperial Guard in reserve at Castiglione. On the other side the VIII. corps from Monzambano was to reach Lonato, the remainder of the II. Army from Cavriana, Solferino and Guidizzolo to Esenta and Castiglione, and the I. Army from Medole, Robecco and Castel Grimaldo towards Carpenedolo. At 8 a.m. the head of the French I. corps encountered several brigades of the I. Army in advance of Solferino. The fighting was severe, but the French made no progress. MacMahon advancing on Guidizzolo came upon a force of the Austrians at Casa Morino and (as on former occasions) immediately set about deploying his whole corps in line of battle. Meanwhile masses of Austrian infantry became visible on the edge of the heights near Cavriana and the firing in the hills grew in intensity. Marshal MacMahon therefore called upon General Niel on his right rear to hasten his march. The latter had already expelled a small body of the Austrians from Medole and had moved forward to Robecco, but there more Austrian masses were found, and Niel, like MacMahon, held his hand until Canrobert (III. corps) should come up on his right. But the latter, after seizing Castel Goffredo, judged it prudent to collect his corps there before actively intervening. Meantime, however, MacMahon had completed his preparations, and capturing Casa Morino with ease, he drove forward to a large open field called the Campo di Medole; this, aided by a heavy cross fire from his artillery and part of Niel’s, he carried without great loss, Niel meantime attacking Casa Nuova and Robecco. But the Austrians had not yet developed their full strength, and the initial successes of the French, won against isolated brigades and battalions, were a mere prelude to the real struggle. Meanwhile the stern Baraguay d’Hilliers had made ceaseless attacks on the V. corps at Solferino, where, on a steep hill surmounted by a tower, the Austrian guns fired with great effect on the attacking masses. It was not until after midday, and then only because it attacked at the moment when, in accordance with an often fatal practice of those days, the Austrian V. corps was being relieved and replaced by the I., that Forey’s division of the I. corps, assisted by part of the Imperial Guard, succeeded in reaching the hill, whereupon Baraguay stormed the village and cemetery of Solferino with the masses of infantry that had gradually gathered opposite this point. By 2 p.m. Solferino was definitively lost to the Austrians.

During this time MacMahon had taken, as ordered, the direction of Cavriana, and was by degrees drawn into the fighting on the heights. Pending the arrival of Canrobert—who had been alarmed by the reported movement of an Austrian force on his rear (the division from Mantua above mentioned) and having given up his cavalry to Niel was unable to explore for himself—Niel alone was left to face the I. Army. But Count Wimpffen, having been ordered at 11 to change direction towards Castiglione, employed the morning in redistributing his intact troops in various “mutually supporting positions,” and thus the forces opposing Niel at Robecco never outnumbered him by more than 3 to 2. Niel, therefore, attacking again and again and from time to time supported by a brigade or a regiment sent by Canrobert, not only held his own but actually captured Robecco. About the same time MacMahon gained a foothold on the heights between Solferino and Cavriana, and as above mentioned, Baraguay had stormed Solferino and the tower hill. The greater part of the II. Austrian Army was beaten and in retreat on Valeggio before 3 p.m. But the Austrian emperor had not lost hope, and it was only a despairing message from Wimpffen, who had suffered least in the battle, that finally induced him to order the retreat over the Mincio. On the extreme right Benedek and the VIII. corps had fought successfully all day against the Sardinians, this engagement being often known by the separate name of the battle of San Martino. On the left Wimpffen, after sending his despondent message, plucked up heart afresh and, for a moment, took the offensive against Niel, who at last, supported by the most part of Canrobert’s corps, had reached Guidizzolo. In the centre the Austrian rearguard held out for two hours in several successive positions against the attacks of MacMahon and the Guard. But the battle was decided. A violent storm, the exhaustion of the assailants, and the firm countenance of Benedek, who, retiring from San Martino, covered the retreat of the rest of the II. Army over the Mincio, precluded an effective pursuit.

The losses on either side had been: Allies, 14,415 killed and wounded and 2776 missing, total 17,191; Austrians, 13,317 killed and wounded, 9220 missing, total 22,537. The heaviest losses in the French army were in Niel’s corps (IV.), which lost 4483, and in Baraguay d’Hilliers’ (I.), which lost 4431. Of the total of 17,191, 5521 was the share of the Sardinian army, which in the battle of San Martino had had as resolute an enemy, and as formidable a position to attack, as had Baraguay at Solferino. On the Austrian side the IX. corps, which bore the brunt of the fighting on the plain, lost 4349 and the V. corps, that had defended Solferino, 4442. Solferino, in the first instance an encounter-battle in which each corps fought whatever enemy it found in its path, became after a time a decisive trial of strength. In the true sense of the word, it was a soldier’s battle, and the now doubly-proved superiority of the French soldier being reinforced by the conviction that the Austrian leaders were incapable of neutralizing it by superior strategy, the war ended without further fighting. The peace of Villafranca was signed on the 11th of July.

The Campaign of 1866

In the seven years that elapsed between Solferino and the second battle of Custozza the political unification of Italy had proceeded rapidly, although the price of the union of Italy had been the cession of Savoy and Nice to Napoleon III. Garibaldi’s irregulars had in 1860 overrun Sicily, and regular battles, inspired by the same great leader, had destroyed the kingdom of Naples on the mainland (Volturno, 1st-2nd October 1860). At Castelfidardo near Ancona on the 18th of September in the same year Cialdini won another victory over the Papal troops commanded by Lamoricière. In 1866, then, Italy was no longer a “geographical expression,” but a recognized kingdom. Only Rome and Venetia remained of the numerous, disunited and reactionary states set up by the congress of Vienna. The former, still held by a French garrison, was for the moment an unattainable aim of the liberators, but the moment for reclaiming Venetia, the last relic of the Austrian dominions in Italy, came when Austria and Prussia in the spring of 1866 prepared to fight for the hegemony of the future united Germany (see Seven Weeks’ War).

The new Italian army, formed on the nucleus of the Sardinian army and led by veterans of Novara and Solferino, was as strong as the whole allied army of 1859, but in absorbing so many recruits it had temporarily lost much of its efficiency. It was organized in four corps, of which one, under Cialdini, was detached from the main body. Garibaldi, as before, commanded a semi-regular corps in the Alpine valleys, but being steadily and skilfully opposed by Kuhn, Gyulai’s former chief of staff, he made little or no progress during the brief campaign, on which indeed his operations had no influence. The main Austrian army, still the best-trained part of the emperor’s forces, had been, up to the verge of the war, commanded by Benedek, but Benedek was induced to give up his place to the archduke Albert, and to take up the far harder task of commanding against the Prussians in Bohemia. It was in fact a practically foregone conclusion that in Italy the Austrians would win, whereas in Bohemia it was more than feared that the Prussians would carry all before them. But Prussia and Italy were allied, and whatever the result of a battle in Venetia, that province would have to be ceded in the negotiations for peace with a victorious Prussia. Thus on the Austrian side the war of 1866 in Italy was, even more than the former war, simply an armed protest against the march of events.

The part of Hess in the campaign of Solferino was played with more success in that of Custozza by Major-General Franz, Freiherr von John (1815–1876). On this officer’s advice the Austrian army, instead of remaining behind the Adige, crossed that river on the 23rd of Second Battle of Custozza. June and took up a position on the hills around Pastrengo on the flank of the presumed advance of Victor Emmanuel’s army. The latter, crossing the Mincio the same day, headed by Villafranca for Verona, part of it in the hills about Custozza, Somma-Campagna and Castelnuovo, partly on the plain. The object of the king and of La Marmora, who was his adviser, was by advancing on Verona to occupy the Austrian army (which was only about 80,000 strong as against the king’s 120,000), while Cialdini’s corps from the Ferrara region crossed the lower Po and operated against the Austrian rear. The archduke’s staff, believing that the enemy was making for the lower Adige in order to co-operate directly with Cialdini’s detachment, issued orders for the advance on the 24th so as to reach the southern edge of the hilly country, preparatory to descending upon the flank of the Italians next day. However, the latter were nearer than was supposed, and an encounter-battle promptly began for the possession of Somma-Campagna and Custozza. The king’s army was unable to use its superior numbers and, brigade for brigade, was much inferior to its opponents. The columns on the right, attempting in succession to debouch from Villafranca in the direction of Verona, were checked by two improvised cavalry brigades under Colonel Pulz, which charged repeatedly, with the old-fashioned cavalry spirit that Europe had almost forgotten, and broke up one battalion after another. In the centre the leading brigades fought in vain for the possession of Custozza and the edge of the plateau, and on the left the divisions that had turned northward from Valeggio into the hills were also met and defeated. About 5 p.m. the Italians, checked and in great disorder, retreated over the Mincio. The losses were—Austrians, 4600 killed and wounded and 1000 missing; Italians, 3800 killed and wounded and 4300 missing. The archduke was too weak in numbers to pursue, his losses had been considerable, and a resolute offensive, in the existing political conditions, would have been a mere waste of force. The battle necessary to save the honour of Austria had been handsomely won. Ere long the bulk of the army that had fought at Custozza was transported by rail to take part in defending Vienna itself against the victorious Prussians. One month later Cialdini with the re-organized Italian army, 140,000 strong, took the field again, and the 30,000 Austrians left in Venetia retreated to the Isonzo without engaging.

In spite of Custozza and of the great defeat sustained by the Italian navy at the hands of Tegetthof near Lissa on the 20th of July, Venetia was now liberated and incorporated in the kingdom of Italy, and the struggle for unity, that had been for seventeen years a passionate and absorbing drama, and had had amongst its incidents Novara, Magenta, Solferino and the Garibaldian conquest of the Two Sicilies, ended in an anti-climax.

Three years later the cards were shuffled, and Austria, France and Italy were projecting an offensive alliance against Prussia. This scheme came to grief on the Roman question, and the French chassepôt was used for the first time in battle against Garibaldi at Mentana, but in 1870 France was compelled to withdraw her Roman garrison, and with the assent of their late enemy Austria, the Italians under Cialdini fought their way into Rome and there established the capital of united Italy.

Bibliography.—The war of 1848–49 has been somewhat neglected by modern military historians, but the following are useful: Der Feldzug der österr. Armee in Italien 1848–49 (Vienna, 1852); Gavenda, Sammlung aller Armeebefehle u.s.w. mit Bezug auf die Hauptmomente des Krieges 1848–49; Major H. Kunz, Feldzüge des F. M. Radetzki in Oberitalien (Berlin, 1900), and Major Adams, Great Campaigns. Both the French and the Austrian governments issued official accounts (Campagne de Napoléon III en Italie 1859, Der Krieg in Italien 1859) of the war of 1859. The standard critical work is Der italienische Feldzug 1859 by the German general staff (practically dictated by Moltke). Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, who had many friends in the Austrian army, deals with the Magenta campaign in vol. i. of his Letters on Strategy. General Silvestre’s Étude sur la campagne de 1859 was published in 1909. In English, Col. H. C. Wylly, Magenta and Solferino (1906), and in German General Cämmerer, Magenta, and Major Kunz, Von Montebello bis Solferino should be consulted.

For the Italian campaign of 1866 see the Austrian official history, Österreichs Kämpfe 1866 (French translation), and the Italian official account, La Campagna del 1866, of which the volume dealing with Custozza was published in 1909. A short account is given in Sir H. Hozier’s Seven Weeks’ War, and tactical studies in v. Verdy’s Custozza (tr. Henderson), and Sir Evelyn Wood, Achievements of Cavalry.  (C. F. A.) 


  1. Several of the French generals—Lamoricière, Bedeau, Changarnier and others—who had been prominent in Algeria and in the 1848 revolution in France had been invited to take the command, but had declined it.
  2. Students of Napoleonic strategy will find it interesting to replace Ramorino by, say, Lannes, and to post Durando at Mortara-Vigevano instead of Vespolate-Vigevano, and from these conditions to work out the probable course of events.
  3. Ramorino’s defence was that he had received information that the Austrians were advancing on Alessandria by the south bank of the Po. But Alessandria was a fortress, and could be expected to hold out for forty-eight hours; moreover, it could easily have been succoured by way of Valenza if necessary.
  4. The Sardinians, at peace strength, had some 50,000 men, and during January and February the government busied itself chiefly with preparations of supplies and armament. Here the delay in calling out the reserves was due not to their possible ill-will, but to the necessity of waiting on the political situation.
  5. The Volunteer movement in England was the result of this crisis in the relations of England and France.
  6. As far as possible Italian conscripts had been sent elsewhere and replaced by Austrians.
  7. The movements of the division employed in policing Lombardy (Urban’s) are not included here, unless specially mentioned.
  8. The advantages and dangers of the flank march are well summarized in Colonel H. C. Wylly’s Magenta and Solferino, p. 65, where the doctrinaire objections of Hamley and Rüstow are set in parallel with the common-sense views of a much-neglected English writer (Major Adams, Great Campaigns) and with the clear and simple doctrine of Moltke, that rested on the principle that strategy does not exist to avoid but to give effect to tactics. The waste of time in execution, rather than the scheme, is condemned by General Silvestre.