Monday, 15 November 2010

The Battle of Volturno

In Sicily, the rival factions were bringing about a state approaching anarchy, but a flying visit from Garibaldi in the middle of September averted the storm. At this time, Garibaldi's headquarters were at Caserta, in the vast palace where Ferdinand II. breathed his last. The Garibaldian and the Royal armies lay face to face with one another, and each was engaged in completing its preparations. It might have been expected, and for a moment it seems that Garibaldi did expect, that after the solemn collapse of the Neapolitan army south of Naples, the comedy was now only awaiting its final act and the fall of the curtain.
But it soon became apparent that, instead of the last act of a comedy, the next might be the first of a tragedy. The troops concentrated on the right bank of the Volturno amounted to 35,000, with 6000 garrisoning Capua. About 15,000 more formed the reserves and the garrison of Gaeta. The position on the Volturno was favourable to the Royalists; the fortress of Capua on the left bank gave them a free passage to and fro, while the Volturno, which is rather wide and very deep, formed a grave impediment to the advance of their opponents. But the chief reason why there was a serious possibility of the fortunes of war being reversed, lay in the fact that the moral of these troops was good. All the picked regiments of the army were here, including 2500 cavalry. The men were ashamed of the stampede from the south, and were sincerely anxious to take their revenge. Thus the Neapolitan plan of a pitched battle and a victorious march on Naples was by no means foredoomed, on the face of things, to failure.
The aqueduct of Vanvitelli (also known as the aqueduct of Vanvitelli) is the aqueduct that provides water intake to the Reggia di Caserta the Royal palace, by taking the water on the slopes of Monte Taburno, from the sources of Fizzo, in the territory of Bucciano (BN), and transporting it along a path that winds, mostly buried, over a distance of 38 km and which also supplies the San Leucio complex (Caserta). Conduit, 1.2 m wide and 3 m high, is reported by 67 towers, square buildings and pyramidal structures destined to gas extractors and access for inspection.The work of the aqueduct, designed by Luigi Vanvitelli on Commission of King Charles of Bourbon (hence the name Carolino), took off in March 1753. On 2 August 1754 King Charles gave to the city the title Airola a reward  for the exploitation of water sources of Bucciano,  The work accomplished was inaugurated on 7 may 1762.A Valuable architectural structure and since 1997 a UNESCO World Heritage site (along with the entire aqueduct, the reggia di Caserta and the San Leucio complex) is the bridge, still perfectly preserved,  going through the Valle di Maddaloni connects Mt. Logano (East) with mount Garzano (West). This construction, commonly known as the bridges of the Valley rises with a mighty structure in three orders of arches over a distance of 529 m and with a maximum height of 55,80 m, on the model of the Roman aqueducts.From the  artificial cave  to  the large park designed by Vanvitelli and completed by his son Charles, a branch that leads to the Belvedere, the famous building  willed by Ferdinando IV for the production of Silk weaving, made by retrieving the ancient 16th century casino of Acquaviva, which still preserves Renaissance footprint gardens enriched by sculptural groups and fountains, as well as the gardens of the 19th century where a large cistern welcomes the waters of Carolino to operate the " water" of the mill. And finally, after crossing the Bosco Vecchio, a branch of Carolino reaches the, farm Carditello always desired  by Ferdinand

episode of the battle

In Garibaldi's short absence at Palermo, the Southern Army (as he now called his forces) was left under the command of the Hungarian General Türr, as brave an officer as ever lived, and a fast friend to Italy, but his merits do not undo the fact that as soon as the Dictator's back was turned, everything got into a muddle. Pontoon bridges had been thrown across the river at four points; availing himself of one of these, Türr crossed the Volturno with a view to taking up a  position on the right bank  a step which, if attempted at all, ought to have been supported by a very strong force. On the 19th of September, Caiazzo was actually taken, but on the 21st the Royalists came out of Capua with 3000 men and defeated with great loss the thousand or fewer Garibaldians charged with its defence, only a small number of whom were able to recross the bridges and join their companions. The saddest part of this adventure was the slaughter of nearly the whole of the boys' company—lads under fifteen, who had run away from home or school to fight with Garibaldi. Fight they did for five mortal hours, with the heroism of veterans or of children. Only about twenty were left.

When Garibaldi returned from Sicily, this was the first news he heard, and it was not cheering. The Royalists, who thought they had won another Waterloo, were in the wildest spirits, and the march on Naples was talked of in their camp as being as good as accomplished.
castel morrone

Garibaldi's lines were spread in the shape of a semi-circle, of which the two ends started from Santa Maria on the left, and Maddaloni on the right, with Castel Morone at the apex. The country is hilly, and this fact, together with the great distance covered, divided the 20,000 men into a number of practically distinct bodies, each of which, in the decisive battle, had to fight its own fight. Here and there improvised fortifications were thrown up. Garibaldi was aware that his line of battle was perilously extended, but the necessity of blocking all the roads and by-ways which led to Naples, dictated tactics which he was the last to defend.

The best policy for the Royalists would have been to bring 
 overwhelming numbers to bear on a single point, and, breaking the line, to march straight on the capital. They were doubtless afraid of an advance which would have left a portion of the Garibaldian army unbeaten in their rear. Nevertheless, of the chances that remained to them, this was the best. At Naples there were no Garibaldian troops to speak of, and the powers of reaction had been working night and day to procure for the rightful King the reception due to a saviour of society. Perhaps they would not have completely failed. There were nobles who were sulking, shopkeepers who were frightened, professional beggars with whom the Dictator had opened a fierce but unequal contest, for no blue-bottle fly is more difficult to tackle than a genuine Neapolitan mendicant; there were priests who, though not by any means all unpatriotic, were beginning to be scared by Garibaldi's gift of a piece of land for the erection of an English church, and by the sale of Diodati's Bible in the streets. And finally, there was the Carrozzella driver whom a Garibaldian officer had struck because he beat his horse. These individuals formed a nucleus respectably numerous, if not otherwise respectable, of anxious watchers for the Happy Return.
memorial on the volturno to the mille(thousand)

If anyone question the fairness of this catalogue of the partisans of the fallen dynasty, the answer is, that had their ranks contained worthier elements, they would not have carefully reserved the demonstration of their allegiance till the King should prove that he had the right of the strongest.

Towards five o'clock in the morning of the 1st of October, the royalists, who crossed the river in three columns, fired the first shots, and the fight soon became general. King Francis had come from  Gaeta to Capua to witness what was meant to be an auspicious celebration of his birthday. General Ritucci held the chief command. Of the Garibaldians, Milbitz and Medici commanded the left wing (Santa Maria and Sant' Angelo), and Bixio the right (Maddaloni), while Castel Morone, through which a road led to Caserta, was entrusted to Colonel Pilade Bronzetti and three hundred picked volunteers.VON MECHEL Bourbon General at Volturno. He acted on his own because he distrusted the other Generals. Bad move
 Garibaldi's own headquarters was with the reserves at Caserta, but he appeared, as if by magic, at all parts of the line during the day, sometimes bringing up reinforcements, sometimes almost alone, always arriving at the nick of time whenever things looked serious, to help, direct and reanimate the men.
 A dozen times in these journeys by the rugged mountain paths he narrowly escaped falling into the enemy's hands. No trace of uneasiness was visible on his placid face; there was, however, more than enough to make a man uneasy. In the early part of the battle, both Medici and Bixio were pushed back from their positions. Only Pilade Bronzetti with his handful of Lombard Bersaglieri never swerved, and held in check an entire Neapolitan column, whose commander (Perrone) has been blamed for wasting so much time in trying to take that position instead of joining his 2000 men to the troops attacking Bixio, but his object was to march on Caserta, where his appearance might have caused very serious embarrassment.

Up to midday the Royalists advanced, not fast, indeed, but surely. They fired all the buildings on their path, and amongst others one in which there were thirty wounded Garibaldians who were burned to death. It was said to be an accident, but such accidents had better not happen. Victory seemed assured to them. It is not disputed that on this occasion they fought well, and they had all the advantages of  ground, numbers and artillery. But the volunteers, also, were at their best; they surpassed themselves. If every man of them had not shown the best military qualities, skill, resource, the power of recovery, Francis II. would have slept that night at Naples.

Medici acted with splendid firmness, but at the most critical moment he had Garibaldi by his side. Bixio was left to fight his separate battle unaided (so great was the chief's confidence in him), and consummately well he fought it. After the middle of the day, the Garibaldians began to retake their positions, and at some points to assume the offensive; still it was five o'clock before Garibaldi could send his famous despatch to Naples: 'Victory along all the line.' The battle had lasted ten own soldiers of the battle . five garibaldini and five bourbons in wooden box . 65 pounds including post

The Sicilians and Calabrese under Dunne, who stemmed the first onset at Casa Brucciata, and under Eber, whose desperate charge at Porta Capua ushered in the changing fortunes of the day, rivalled the North Italians in steadiness and in dash. below 20mm Aude miniatures of milan.bourbon artilleryThe French company and the Hungarian Legion covered themselves with glory; it was a pity there was not the English brigade, 600 strong, which mismanaged to arrive at Naples the day after the fair. Had they been in time for the fight, they would doubtless have left a brighter record than the only one which they did leave: that of being out of place in a country where wine was cheap.

Putting aside Dunne and a few other English officers, England was represented on the Volturno by three or four Royal Marines who had slipped away from their ship, the Renown, and were come over to see the 'fun.' It seems that they did ask for rifles, but they did not get them, their martial deeds consisting in the help they gave in dragging  off two captured field-pieces. Never did an exploit cause so much discussion in proportion with its importance; the Neapolitan Minister in London informed Lord John Russell that a body of armed men from the British fleet had been sent by Admiral Mundy to serve pieces of Garibaldian artillery.

Of all the striking incidents of the day, that which should be remembered while Italy endures, was the defence of the hillock of Castel Morone by Bronzetti and his Lombards. Their invincible courage contributed in no small degree to the final result. One man to eight, they held their own for ten hours; when summoned to yield by the Neapolitan officer, who could not help admiring his courage, Pilade Bronzetti replied: 'Soldiers of liberty never surrender!' It was only in the moment of victory that Perrone passed over their dead bodies and uselessly advanced—which cost him dear on the morrow.volturno

The Garibaldian losses were 2000 killed and wounded and 150 prisoners; the Neapolitans had the same number placed hors de combat, and lost 3000 prisoners.
uniforms of re-enactors over the years but who are the ones i n kepis

This is one of the only cinema films on the Thousand.

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