Saturday, 24 April 2010

AFTER NOVARA.Arms and ammo

National guard
The principal side-issue of the campaign of 1849 was the revolution at Brescia.
 Had the original plan been carried out, which was to throw the Sardinian army into Lombardy  a corresponding movement on the part of the inhabitants would have become of the greatest importance.
Civil Guard of Lombardy 1848
 To Brescia, which was the one Lombard town where the Piedmontese had been received in 1848 with real effusion, the Sardinian Minister of War despatched Count Giuseppe Martinengo Cesaresco with arms and ammunition, and orders to reassume the colonelcy of the National Guard which he held in the previous year, and to take the general control of the movement as far as Brescia was concerned.

Austrian Infantry, colored drawing on paper, 1848. Between Notes features that they distinguished soldiers Austro-Hungarians, I remember two rather curious: almost all Austrian troops wearing moustache, who kept in order with a kind of "natural" brillantina, tallow pork. Also, as you can see from figure on the left, on the nappina often wear a sprig of oak (or other tree). According to many testimonies and nineteenth century Chronicles seems that the great Imperial Army marching gave the impression of a forest in movement, but left behind a stink of stable rather strong.
 Martinengo succeeded in transporting the arms through the enemy's country from the Piedmontese frontier to Iseo, and thence to his native city. When he reached Brescia, he found that the Austrians had evacuated the town, though they still occupied the castle which frowns down upon it.
 This was the 23rd of March: Novara was fought and lost, Piedmont was powerless to come to the  assistance of the people she had commanded to rise. What was to be done? Plainly common sense suggested an honourable compromise with the Austrian commandant, by which he should be allowed to reoccupy the city on condition that no hair of the citizens' heads was touched. This is what Bergamo and the other towns did, nor are they to be blamed.Not so Brescia.
gaston French forces had captured Bologna on 13 May 1511 and were under siege from a combined Papal-Spanish army commanded by Ramón de Cardona, the Viceroy of Naples. Gaston marched his army to Bologna and scattered the armies of the Holy League. He then went north and defeated the Venetians at Brescia, which the French later captured (February 1512) after a furious assault.
 Here, where love of liberty was an hereditary instinct from the long connection of Brescia with free Venice, where hatred of the stranger, planted by the ruthless soldiery of Gaston de Foix, had but gone on maturing through three centuries, where the historical title of 'Valiant,' coming down from a remote antiquity, was still no fable; here, with a single mind, the inhabitants resolved upon as desperate a resistance as was ever offered by one little town to a great army.

The Austrian bombardment was begun by the Irish General, Nugent-Lavall, who, dying in the midst of it, left all his fortune to the heroic city which he was attacking.
The Austrians, flushed with their victory over Charles Albert's army of 80,000, were seized with rage at the sight of their power defied by a town of less than half that number of souls.
 But with that rage was mingled, even in the mind of Haynau, an admiration not to be repressed.
Haynau who was sent to replace Nugent, was already known at Brescia, where he had been appointed military governor after the resumption of Austrian authority in 1848. In order to punish the 'persistent opposition manifested to the legitimate Imperial and Royal Government,' and as an example to the other towns, he had imposed on the Brescian householders and the landed proprietors of the province a  fine of half a million francs.

Brescia Castle
He now returned, and what he did may be best read in his own report on the operations. 'It was then,' he wrote, 'that began the most murderous fight; a fight prolonged by the insurgents from barricade to barricade, from house to house, with extraordinary obstinacy.
 I should never have believed that so bad a cause could have been sustained with such perseverance. In spite of this desperate defence, and although the assault could only be effected in part, and with the help of cannons of heavy calibre, our brave troops with heroic courage, but at the cost of great losses, occupied a first line of houses; but as all my columns could not penetrate into the town at the same time, I ordered the suspension of the attack at nightfall, limiting myself to holding the ground conquered. In spite of that, the combat continued late into the night.

re-enactors Bersaglieri
 On the 1st of April, in the earliest morning light, the tocsin was heard ringing with more fury than ever, and the insurgents reopened fire with an entirely new desperation. Considering the gravity of our losses, as well as the obstinacy and fury of the enemy, it was necessary to adopt a most rigorous measure. I ordered that no prisoners should be taken, but that every person seized with arms in his hand should be immediately put to death, and that the houses from which shots came should be burnt. It is thus that conflagrations, partly caused by the troops, partly by the bombardment, broke out in various parts of the town"

Civil guard Cavalry 1848
During the ten days' struggle, the citizens did not flinch for a moment. Count Martinengo was the guiding spirit of the defence, and scarcely left the most exposed of the barricades night or day.
tito speri
From the nobles to the poorest of the people, all did their duty. A youth named Tito Speri led and animated the populace. The horrors of the  repression make one think of the fall of Khartoum.
Foot soldiers of the regiment Prohaska n ° 7 marching in Italy.

They are veterans of the campaign of 1848 accompanied by their mascot. The dog shared all labors of the Regiment by participating in six battles and remaining wounded: hit several times in the neck at Curtatone, a ball broke a leg and another in Milan he had the muzzle bloodied. It was always among the soldiers of the Regiment, tolerating only white jackets "if an Austrian ever  wore civilian clothes he considered him an enemy  like other dogs that invaded its territory. His reputation was such that even the Emperor wanted to see him in 1851. 
  Not even in Hungary, where he went from Brescia to continue his 'system,' did Haynau so blacken his own and his country's name as here. In a boys' school kept by a certain Guidi, the master's wife, his mother and ten of his pupils were slaughtered. A little hunchback tailor was carried to the barracks to be slowly burnt alive. But stray details do not give the faintest idea of the whole. And for all this, Haynau was in a far higher degree responsible than the actual executants of the vengeance to which he hounded on his ignorant soldiers, maddened with the lust of blood.

jager re-enactors
Such was General Haynau, 'whose brave devotion to his master's service was the veteran's sole crime,' said the Quarterly Review (June 1853), but who was judged otherwise by some in England. Wherefore was he soundly beaten by the brewers in the employment of Messrs Barclay & Perkins; and the nice words of the Quarterly could not undo that beating, redress for which Lord Palmerston blandly advised the complainant to seek 'before the common tribunals.' He thought it best to neglect the advice, and to leave the country.


Among the curious taxes levied at Brescia during the six months after its fall was one of £500 for 'the expenses of the hangman.' Count Martinengo escaped after the Austrians were in possession of the town through the courageous assistance given to him by a few young men of the working class. Camozzi's band of Bergamasques, which started for the relief of the sister city, was driven back with loss.
Serrezano and regular soldier of the guard Regiment of Otočac No. 2 .
Serreazni. These were the redoubtable soldiers known in Italy with the generic name of ' Croats '. The ' Serrezani ', irregular soldiers very practical of the territory were used as messengers. The ' bano ' of Croatia had sent some to marshal Radetzky for his escort .Later they were called to operate mostly as light cavalry in all theatres of war.

With  the assassination of his Prime Minister Pellegrino Rossi as said Pope Pius IX left Rome on November 24, 1848, for the protection of King Ferdinand II of Naples at Gaeta.



Uhlan Regiment Archduke Charles  18 June 1848.



 On December 29, 1848, the provisional government, established after the Pope's departure, called for the election on January 21, 1849, of a constituent assembly to prepare a constitution for the newly established Roman Republic, but so to word it that it could be extended to all of Italy once unity was gained.
 A few days after Novara,  the Triumvirate issued a proclamation, in which they said: 'The Republic in Rome has to prove to Italy and to Europe that our work is eminently religious, a work of education and of morality; that the accusations of intolerance, anarchy and violent upturning of things are false; that, thanks to the republican principle, united as one family of good men under the eye of God, and following the impulse of those who are first among us in genius and virtue, we march to the attainment of true order, law and power united.'
 Englishmen who were in Rome at the time attest how well the pledge was kept. Peace and true freedom prevailed under the republican banner as no man remembered them to have prevailed before in Rome.
  Not one lawless or evil deed was done   it is clear that the efforts of the government to preserve order were incessant, and to a remarkable degree successful, the streets were far safer for ordinary passengers under the Triumvirs than under the Papacy
Of great help in quieting the passions of the lower orders was the people's tribune, Ciceruacchio,   His influence had been first acquired by works of charity in the Tiber floods. Being a strong swimmer, he ventured where no one else would go, and had saved many lives.
 At first a wine-carrier, he made money by letting out conveyances and dealing in forage, but he gave away most of what he made.
He opposed the whole force of his popularity to a war of classes. 'Viva chi c'ia e chi non c'ia quattrini!' was his favourite cry.

When the siege came, Ciceruacchio was invaluable in providing the troops with forage, horses, and even victuals, which he procured by making private sorties on his own account during the night; his intimate knowledge of every path enabling him to go unobserved. He planned the earthworks, at which he laboured with his hands, and when fighting was going on, he shouldered a musket and ran with his two sons, one of them a mere child, to wherever the noise of guns directed him. No picture of Rome in 1849 would be complete without the burly figure and jocund face of Angelo Brunetti.
jager 1848

The republican government found Rome with a mere shadow of an army; the efforts to create one had been too spasmodic to do anything but make confusion worse confounded by changes and experiments soon abandoned. Perseverance and intelligence now had a different result, and the little army, called into existence by the republic, proved admirable in discipline, various and fantastic as were its components.


  1. This blog is the reason the internet was invented!

    This month I decided a complete break in wargaming was in order, so I chose a scale I never do (20mm plastic) and a period I know less than nothing about. The Italian wars of Independence. French and Austrians fine but the Italian States? After a few weeks scratching around in Knotel and the NYPL site I remembered this wonderful blog.

    I cannot believe how good it is. thank you so much for putting all of this information on line. It really is a treasure trove. I cannot wait to sift through all the posts and get painting up figures.

    By the way the Green jacketed Foreign legionaire is correct for the second Battalion. I have a reference showing him in 1856, just as illustrated but I do not know the dates that uniform was worn.

    Once again thanks and congratulations.


  2. Thanks a lot , great praise. Could you write something on all the Battalions uniforms in Italy. I'd be so happy if you could specially if you could do it on my blog. Basically my journey into the Italian wars is just to keep a record for my own models that I do scratchbuilt and hope to bring out commercially.Thanks