Sunday, 4 July 2010

Day of the gun. Montebello and Palestro

Forey During the second Italian war of independence of 1859 he was commandant of the 1st Division of The Corps and directed the battles of Montebello and melegnano

The French  launched a first attack on the Austrians at Montebello (20 May), while the Piedmontese fought Palestro (30-31 May)

soldiers are 28 mm made in Italy .from soldatinistoria

In history two battles have been fought at Montebello, the first was a Napoleonic affair.The second battle (May 20, 1859) was one of the battles of the Risorgimento and saw the Austrian troops of General Gyulai, while pre-eminent numerically, defeated by the franco-Piedmont due to repeated attacks of the Piedmontese Cavalry.
This cavalry charge was strongly countered by the Austrians and  the French General Forey had to come  with his Division to push back Karl Urban's Austrians . karl urban
Gyulaj had banked on getting the Piedmonts before having to deal with the French but things went slowly so he changed his orders and told his engineers to blow up the great Napoleonic bridge over the Ticino between Magenta and Trecate
This failed through, it seems,through lack of powder.

The Napoleonic Bridge

turbigo   french line infantry in shako 1859 ho oo scale
The plan of the franco-Piedmont forces was to bet on Magenta from two lines: from Turbigo and from the bridge over the Ticino on the road between Milan and Novara.
austrian artillery

the major effort was done by the French, while the Piedmontese army followed  the troops that moved from Turbigo and intervened if necessary.


On May 20, 1859 at the Southern confluence of the Ticino with the Po near the small city of Montebello, , they collided with the Austrians. The location of this village was very strongly fortified. The only way in leads directly from Vercelli, 200 metres from the entrance to the village and  is flanked on the right and left by rice paddies, and ends up being encased in a rugged plateau, the foot of which runs from the Lake there.

Regiment of ulans Count Civalart N° 1

the enemy was occupying the position with a brigade of Infantry and an artillery battery, sufficient forces to oppose more than excellent resistance in positions very advantageous, and which were entrenched.
paris the angel of the rue de turbigo Its name celebrates an 1859 victory over the Austrians

The avant-garde of the 6th and 7th Battalion Bersaglieri and  a section from the 16th and two Squadrons of the light Cavalry "Alexandria" came forward.

street in Montebello
It occupied successively the first two bridges over the Gamarra, that three times cuts the road from Vercelli to Palestro, and  explorers met the outposts enemies at the third bridge behind  knocked down trees.

The Cavalry Brigade composed of regiments Novara, Aosta and Monferrato and suported by a French Division of reinforcement, with repeated charges dismissed the V Corps of Austria from the field
lancers of Montebello in period costume

. The flags of Novara and Monferrato were awarded the bronze medal for military valour, while Colonel Gerbaix de la Sonnaz, Brigade Commander was promoted to General and decorated with a gold medal of military valor.

On 16 September of that year, with the Royal Decree of 25 August 1859, there was established in the city of Voghera, a few kilometers from the place of the battle, a new regiment of cavalry holding the name the light cavalry of Montebello

french hussar
PALESTRO. General Austrian Gyulai claimed to be "sure to crush the Sardinian army before reaching the French" and meanwhile focused more than 100,000 soldiers at the border with the Lomellina. Pavia had been fortified.
Gyulai wasted no time. In two days he blew four bridges over the River Ticino, and then passed  with 100,000 men and burst into the  Lomellina. The Piedmontese army, meanwhile, awaited the French expeditionary force was held on the defensive. The territories of Lomellina and Oltrepò (both geographical areas of Lombardy) invaded by the army of Gyulai, and cruelly cut in half.
A family found with gunpowder in their house were,according to this print of the time, shot then stuffed into a shallow grave
 The  Austrians attack was felt especially in Lomellina, where,  record the chroniclers, "there was stolen every miserable thing from every cottage or village" .
The first confrontation takes place at Zinasco, 29 April, when the Piedmontese light cavalry, faced in a  short and rapid fight , the Hussars .
Montebello                                   The Italians lost a man, the Austrians, who retired from the field, three.
lomellina landsc ape
  Gyulai, continuing his marches took  heavy requisition everywhere, leaving tears and blood and a trail of violence.
 20 may =Austrian forces coming from Piacenza advance in reconnaissance about Voghera.
  Urban arrives "where are these Piedmonts?".
  Where are the enemy soldiers? He shouts from his horse in Casteggio
After Casteggio, deployed in a thin line from the village of Montebello until the Po, there are several hundred Piedmont horsemen .Turco By Emhar 20mm
 In Voghera there are seven thousand French. the bulk of the army is concentrated further north. The Austrian advanced continues  The allies fight back  and the Austrians  withdraw.
Away from Montebello, via  Casteggio.
 Back, back, down to the Po, beyond the Po River.
 On the evening of May 20, there is no Austrian on the Piedmont side of the great river.
 In the following days, deceived by franco-Piedmontese manoeuvres,  Gyulai forces his troops to continue, long, tiring marches of transfer.
He Expects an attack on Piacenza. The Piedmontese instead stick to the North, crossing the Sesia at Vercelli and thereby penetrating Lomellina.
The plan of Napoleon III, , is to travel directly to Milan from the West.
 While the bulk of the French army crosses the Sesia, the Piemontese have to cover them, around Palestro: and so this becomes the first major battle of the war.
It's the morning of 30 May 1859. It rains. A grey veil of thin mist stretches for miles in the quiet air of lomellina.
Grey rice water, beaten by rain, reflects a sky blue, . It rains more. , Vittorio Emanuele II comes along with four divisions of his army.

sesia at varallo
Soldiers, parading before him, greeted him with shouts of enthusiasm. They know that its  a time  for war: the offensive.
The orders of General Cialdini, Piedmont,

 10800 infantry and 100 light cavalry aim at Vinzaglio and Palestro . While the Austrians stubbornly focused on the Po and the Ticino, the French army, covered by the troops of Piedmont, came around unnoticed on the right flank of the enemy: the Italian Cialdini with four divisions, supported by a regiment of the Zouaves, dislodges Austrians from Palestro
The rain has inflated the Sesia, . The terrain is completely flooded.
 On the provincial road that runs alongside the River, there  advance the bersaglieri, 6th and 7th Battalion: looking for the enemy.
The Austrians have filled Palestro: they have raised two kilometres from the village a barricade and  open a sudden fire against the  bersaglieri, the fanfare sounds, the bersaglieri move to the attack, they arrive at the barricade, , . And the battle begins.
Austrian artillery fire. Austrians in white have placed their guns  sweeping the road.
The Piedmontese are being hit by a deadly fire, . But everything around  is mud and water. Moving forward on that ground  the bersaglieri cannot approach the enemy. They Stop before their outposts, protected by the  deep muddy waters.
 It is almost impossible to come forward; the bersaglieri try once, twice, three times ,nothing to do. But finally the 25th company  get through.
The Austrians retire into disorder. bitter fighting between the houses, the Piedmontese conquer Palestro.Then  silence.

print of the time shows austrians retreating .I'm not sure if its montebello or palestro
The French army crosses the Sesia in an interminable column, red and blue,it continues to rain.Then
  the evening, but no one sleeps, the Austrian will try hard to fall on the side of the French army that crosses the River. It's a great chance.

 In fact, the day after, on 31 May, Gyulai attacks..  at any cost, attack the French, throw them in the Sesia. The white jackets  attack on three columns.  North, towards Confienza; , direct to the heart of the deployment of the Piedmonts; South, in  rice fields and water meadows along the Sesia.

chasseurs a pied


April 25, 1859. -Eight companies were active in the 19th battalion of hunters (Chasseurs), called up to be part of the 1st brigade  2nd Division (General Bouat) 3rd (Canrobert) . The sharpshooting body of the army of Italy, leaving Lyon by fast marching, then crossing the Alps Alps at Mont-Cenis..28 April. - in this city, the stay is painfully marked by the death of General Bouat, replaced a few days after by General Trochu.In later years all the Chasseurs can recall the entry  of the French in Turin and  the ovation they received, and then the arrival in Alexandria, where the army was  reviewed by the King of Piedmont.
14 May.  hostilities began immediately.The 19th battalion followed the 3rd corps movements, then crosses the Po and then marching  on to  the Sézia .
Austrians want to close the passage, and run an offensive  which gives rise to the second battle of Palestro. The 19th battalion is deployed and is doing in front; but he is stopped by Marshal Canrobert Palestro road height. After the first shock, the enemy withdrew.

The Austrians want to stop the Allied forces and defend the crossing of the river close to magenta.the  battle brigade (19th battalion of hunters, 43rd and 44th line) is located in and around the locality of magenta, its only at around eight o'clock that the enemy abandoned  the village and retreats quickly - before a final attack executed by the hunters, who have bayonet the enemy through the streets through the streets





Chasseur Officer

Monument to the Chasseurs of Italy in Paris

The Corps of hunters (Chasseurs à pied, Zouaves, Turcos) had been with supplied the carbines mod. 1846 and 1853,  cane ribbed with sliding plate  and graduated cursor, these guns  used the  of bullet Tamisier which was flat-bottomed.

A battalion of support, often engaged in various wars, was that of the indigenous troops of "turcos" that actually called themselves " Algerian Tiralleurs" and were also recruited among the indigenous tribes and controlled  by French officers.
They wore a uniform that was originally  that of "Zouaves" but in different colors: large Longjohns in eastern-type style,  vest and fez .
The Turcos were recruited and trained for the first time in Algeria, in the early years of the French occupation in 1838 under the monarchy-bourgeois of King Louis Philippe. The harsh discipline and selection led to the  tiragliatori being reduced by a battalion of six companies to one of thirty-nine.
 The Algerians demonstrated their value with General Bosquet, Commander of their Regiment during the Crimean War, and it was on this occasion that because of  their daring way of assault that their uniform which is often confused with that of the Turks, were called by the Russians  turcos.
Turcos by Emhar
The people of France welcomed the nickname as a title of glory,. Thus the good battle baptism  in Crimea, the turcos were called twice more to fight for the French: these sharpshoters were  employed in the battles of the second Italian war of independence in 1859, together with the Zouaves in the battles of Palestro and then Melegnano  and Solferino..
On 23 April 1859 the battalion  was embarked on the "Anatole" that arrived three days later in Genoa, here the body was transferred to Rivarolo, waiting to be assigned to the front.
30 April 1859 the regiment commanded by Colonel Laure  and by lieutenant-colonel De Monfort was attached to the 1st Brigade of General Lefebvre, of 1 Division de La Motte-Rouge, 2 ° corps of  Mac-Mahon.
  On 2 may the expeditionary force , composed, reached Alexandria and the subsequent 14 may Napoleon III  took over the military direction of the operations, the regiment of the troops of Africa were placed at the head of the combat troops  at Palestro  against the Austrians on 30 May 1859.
 While the second were in   turbigo on 3 June, General Mac-Mahon clashed  with a column of 6,000 Austrians at Magenta, on this occasion the Algerian Regiment had 31 deaths and 144 injured.
On 7 June the "Turcos" come first to Milan at the head of the franco-Piedmontese Army; the evening of the 8 they were positioned on the left bank of the Lambro in Melegnano. On the eighth of  June 1859  the turcos had been employed to attack troublesome Austrians, during the assault on  Melegnano, these were used to encircle the Austrians on the banks of Castellazzo  on  the Lambro.  The Algerians carried out a general massacre of Austrians

Zouaves by Almirall

 The battle of Palestro by fattori

 Center General Zobel strikes a  formidable blow; the Piemontese fall back but only for a moment. Zobel does not advance any more. North attacks the General Weigle focusing on Confienza: has the same fate. and South  General Szabo. His column arrives with some guns  after a tiring run to the only bridge, Ponte della Brida. french camp 1859
The Piedmontese, not expecting an attack at that point,  are surprised. Szabo, master of the field, can see French troops who cross the Sesia and, on the right over an expanse of land , the first houses of Palestro.
 He hesitates. What to do?   the only way of retreat is the ponte della Brida.
The enterprise is risky, but Szabo endeavors. The Austrians pass the bridge, advancing toward Palestro, occupying the country house San Pietro.
Stepping forward, they begin to shoot the first houses. If they manage to conquer the country, they would have upset the entire enemy defense.
 Vittorio Emanuele II from the top of the Bell Tower of Palestro sees them and goes down the stairs, on his horse Crag and runs to battle followed by his generals.
Meanwhile the 3rd Regiment of French and the Zouave Regiment and Bersaglieri, dispersed along the Sesia, have launched the attack of the bridge of Brida. Bmc conversion by me. Not great but there you go
Austrian cannons shoot before his mouth and crush cruelly the French, but cannot stop them. While Vittorio Emanuele II, followed by his officers,  a Zouave shouts: "Retreat, sire, here there is danger!".
"Here there is glory for all!" replied the King. volunteers
. The Austrians defending desperately and the clash  is violent and bloody. The waters of the roggia are, tinged with red, there the bodies of the Austrians fallen, those seeking refuge; Szabo loses its guns.
  The retreat is transformed into a stampede.
 The Austrian route is complete. At 2 p.m. the Austrians retire leaving 800 prisoners, in addition to those drowned in the channel and killed on the field. .
Austrian are enormous losses. " That same evening, the battlefield, sprinkled with dead, smokes disturbingly, the zuavi French, admired by the heroism of Vittorio Emanuele II, being in the middle of the battle go to him he is asleep but woken and they nominate their "corporal of honour".
Its a heavy blow to the spirit of the Austrian army: it is clear that the initiative has passed to the franco-Piedmont.
The Lomellina is evacuated The Austrians cannot guess what the plans of  the franco-Piedmontese are and therefore  does not dare to attack  Turin.

The Lancer Regiment of Montebello is the only one  of the Italian Cavalry whose origin and denomination is due to a feat of arms.


In 1851, He was one of the members who led the military actions against the Warriors of Red river against a tribe of native American Indians of California.
After the failure of his marriage, frustrated at the slow progress of  America in resolving the issues of the indians resigned in  1851 and embarked  with intent to ake a journey around the world, visiting China, Ceylon and finally arriving in France.
 In Paris, Kearny met and fell in love with a woman  called Agnes Maxwell, but couldn't marry her because his first wife had still not granted divorce.
 In that same year he returned with Agnes in the u.s. and in 1854, Kearny was injured again after falling from his horse by a bridge crumbling and was cared for and nurtured by girlfriend.
 in 1855 Kearny had to finally leave New York because of their Union, frowned on by the company, and retreated into , Bellegrove, Passaic River (current Kearny, New Jersey), not much distance from the old residence of the family of Newark
. In 1858 finally the  divorce and Philip left America to Paris with his new wife.
 In 1859, Kearny returned to France and  to Chasseurs d'Afrique, which at that time were engaged in Italy in the second war of independence against the Austrian Empire.
 He then entered in the Imperial Guard of Napoleon III and took part in the battles of Magenta and Solferino, where he commanded cavalry killing the  Austrian army, taking position on the key point of confrontation. kearney had been a key figure here.
For this action,  the Medal of Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur French, becoming the first u.s. citizen to receive it. read his real story its amazing.(right in photo)

Montebello The First Victory
austrian prisoners

these new britains recasts have been painted up as mexicans but I think they could easily be done as the forces in the franco-Austrian war

The intentions of sorts was  that the bulk of the army had moved from Lomellina to Magenta, through Vigevano and Abbiategrasso; and so the defence was prepared along the Naviglio,  blasting bridges at Robecco, Pontevecchio, Pontenuovo and Boffalora.Montebello by Fattori
 Almost at the same time as the engagement of Montebello, Garibaldi with his diminutive army (which through the weeding-out of men unfit for service was reduced to about 3,500 before it took the field), crossed the Lago Maggiore, and advanced boldly into the heart of the enemy's country. garibaldi Volunteers. Note the uniforms are not red

The volunteers had no artillery, and by way of cavalry only some forty or fifty were mounted on their own horses and dignified with the name of 'guides.' They were badly armed and worse equipped; the only good thing they had was an excellent ambulance organised by Dr Bertani, Garibaldi's surgeon-general from Roman days downwards. But they formed a picturesque sight as they marched along gaily to the everlasting song, 'Addio, mia bella, addio'; and a physiognomist would have been struck by their intelligent and often distinguished faces: nobles and poets, budding doctors and lawyers, bristled in the ranks, while the officers were the still young veterans of 1848-1849: Cosenz, hero of Venice; Medici, the defender of the Vascello; Bixio, Sirtori, Cairoli—all the Knights of the Legend.

san fermo by fattori
Moving swiftly from place to place, and appearing where and when he was least expected, Garibaldi took the entire country of the Lombard lakes. Gyulai, who at first looked upon the Garibaldian march as a simple diversion intended to draw off his attention, now became  concerned, and dispatched Urban with 10,000 men to destroy the volunteers, and stem the insurrection which everywhere followed in their wake.

the itaian lakes .you can see my summer house here

italian guards and infantry. I photographed this from a huge mural at Solfderino. You have to go there. Sometimes I take parties if there are enough people.

My latest Garibaldi that come in wooden boxes of my own design. these are toy style and you can order any number you want . they come painted.

Inside the town of Montebello.

 Garibaldi attacking around como
 On the 27th of May Garibaldi drove Urban from his position near San Fermo, and that commander had his mission still unfulfilled when he received the order to retreat after the battle of Magenta. The volunteers were free to pursue their way to Brescia and the Valtellina, where they performed many feats in the latter period of the war, winning the admiration of Hayn, the Austrian general opposed to them, which he was generous enough to express in no measured terms.
war or no war there were always good looking chicks in Italy then and now. painting by done around the time talked about in this blog. Blaas

The great war was meanwhile approaching its climax. After Montebello the whole French army executed a secret flank movement, changing its position from Voghera, where Gyulai believed it to be, and whence he expected it to move on to Piacenza, to the line of the Sesia, between Cameriano and Casale. To mask the main operations, the Sardinian forces were sent to Palestro, on the other side of the Sesia.
 On the 30th of May, they drove in the outposts of the enemy, and on the 31st fought the important engagement by which the Austrian attempt to retake Palestro was repelled, and great damage caused to Zobel's corps, which was obliged to leave eight guns sticking in the mud.
 The French Zouaves of the 3rd regiment fought with the Piedmontese, and made the battle famous by the reckless valour of their bayonet charges. Victor Emmanuel, deaf to all remonstrances, placed himself at their head, in consequence of which they elected him their corporal, an honour once paid to the first Napoleon.
 The  Death of General Beuret at Montebello
 Georges Beuret  a French brigade General born in 1803 in Larivière (Territoire de Belfort Department) and died on May 20, 1859 in Montebello (Italy). Officer of the Legion of honour. After being at Saint-Cyrien he participated in various campaigns including the siege of Sevastopol and was killed while leading  his troops in the streets of the village of Montebello during the campaign of Italy of Napoleon III.
The only plastic soldiers that exist regarding the risorgimento wars. What a pity
feury master of horse in Napoleons army mokarex

There is reason to think that after Palestro, Gyulai, having at last realised what Napoleon was about, wished to evacuate Lombardy, but was prevented from doing so by strong protests sent by the Emperor Francis  Joseph, who was at Verona.
The Austrian army was in full retreat when it was pulled up near Magenta, with the object of checking the advance of the French, who had already begun to cross the Ticino by the bridges of San Martino and Buffalora, which the Austrians had tried to blow up, but had not succeeded from want of proper powder.
this painting by fattori shows the french in italy in 1859. he painted from life so the headgear is maybe strange. below is the great man himself.

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