Thursday, 1 October 2009

SANTA LUCIA continued

The Fortifications of Verona seen present day from above. At the time of the battle this was the confines of the town. Charles Albert the Italian king had been told the citizens in Verona would rise up to help his army open the gates to Verona but Radetsky had told them that any aggressive action on their part would result in the cannons on the ramparts being directed onto them.Albert could not have known this at the time.
Liuetenant general Eusebio Bava had a clear idea of what to do.This was to drive out the Austrians from what was called the "curva". The curva (curve)were the villages in front of the rideau (mentioned in previous post) and then to take command of the "Rideau". This was more easy
said than done for the approaches to the curva were not easy. It was a terrain full of difficulty:there were many obstacles namely lots of Mulberry trees and vineyards. It was a labyrinth of stone walls which would check any advance. The defenders on their part had excellent roads on which to rush forces to any given danger point.

Austrian infantry in 1/72 scale by waterloo ltd.this company has a large amount of soldiers in the small scale from which the battles could be refought. All are in plastic. The Austrians in 1846 were excellent soldiers. Santa Lucia was 15,000 Austrians against 30,000 Italians.
Although it seems Bava
had an idea of what to do it seems no one else did. Albert called the operation strangely

(Bersaglieri in PVC. Italy 60's ) a reconnaissance instead of what it really was ,a major turning point
battle. Many of his officers thought that if this was just a kind of probing then why did it need 30,000
Plastic Austrian General in 54mm madein Italy in the sixties in PVC
In any case confusion was thje Mother of creation at the time. Bava had drawn up a great plan. It was accepted. But later found out that another officer's plans were now the ones the army would fight by, those of Franzini. You the Anglo-Saxon reading this may be gob-smacked by
this fact but if you lived here the fact is nothing has changed.
For every Bava there is a monster of illogical reason. It is still a country where little
functions, the Post Office, the Police, the Schools (in the schools Saint Stubblebum of Mount
Bersaglieri captain 1846 in PVC
"How did we get here" is still very much the holy force). Bava irritated beyond belief stuck with his king.Bava insisted that the operation take place the next day but no! Franzini wanted it now!
No one cold work out the plans but Franzini insisted and Albert agreed.
This was the worst decision of Albert.
The idea of Franzini was to surprise the Krauts but surprise with a clear plan is one thing
another when no one knows the story line.

Another type as above
The plan backfired badly but not totally. The easy passage turned into some desperate fighting in front and in the "Curva" . The Italians instead of each taking a respective village seemed to converge on only two of them.Confusion rained

( Verona of the times in 1854 .The Station Porta Nuova) The attack at Santa Lucia was doomed from the start due to the bickering of the Italian command.If you've never lived in Italy then you'lll never understand the jealousy present in the minds of the Italians.At times for reasons unfathomable
Santa Lucia was an example of this. The battle could easily have been won but the logical plan to follow, that of attacking when everyone was in place was given over to one of attacking when everyone wasn't in place. If we read between the lines we come up with the idea that one General wanted his plan instead of another one's plan regardless of if it was logical.
The Austrians under Radetsky were the finest soldiers in Europe in 1846 according to many opinions. Radesky was 82 but had the mind of a young man. He made all the right moves and never lost clarity in any given moment.

The battle was fought as I have stated at a series of villages outside of the then City walls of Verona for poccession of the rideau. Whoever managed to win that position won Verona and won the war- If the Italian army had taken it Radetsky's days would have been numbered. But as with any war against Italians you can reckon that they'll do something distorted which will gain the other side an advantage. we have to look no further than the campaign in Libya and Eygpt in the Second World War. Nevertheless with resolve and good leadership the Italians have proved themselves to be good fighters .The Great war was an example and in the campaigns of the Italian unification the ordinary soldier fought with great courage. These men were Piedmonts.

. The Piedmontese divisions were to move forward to capture the villages in front of the Rideau.
Three villages (which now form part of the present city).These were Croce Bianca,San Massimo and Santa Lucia. They were to be attacked with a frontal charge. The Piedmont army numbered 30,000 men with 60 to 70 guns.But they made little progress against an enemy fighting from strong walled positions such as the cemetary above. Many battles were fought using graveyards and cemetaries like the one above.
The real fighting was at Santa Lucia because of the disorganisation and here the Piedmontse run up against one of the finest natural defences: the village of Santa Lucia was small, it had a church and a bell tower plus a cemetery. The Austrians had posted snipers in the campanile steeple plus snipers ehind every loose stone wll that intersected the place. They had loopholed the cemetery walls ad had laid an abbatis. The Jagers of Strassoldo's Austrian brigade manned these points. The abattis and the long garden wall of the village were mannd by the Archduke Sigismund infantry(to be continued in the next post which is ready now)

No comments:

Post a Comment