Monday, 22 November 2010

freedom fighters and the Andersonville of the Piedmonts

Francesco Hayez, La Meditazione (L’Italia nel 1848), 1850, Comune di Verona, Galleria d’Arte ModernaThis painting by hayez called meditation was meant to represent the feelings of a young Italy pondering the future after the happenings of 1848 but now the female was a young sourtherner with a rifle in hand trying to get back that that had been stolen by the piedmonts who on losing the war with austria decided to regain some honour with an attack on the southern provinces.first flag
The basic reason for this invasion, and lets not forget an invasion against a soverign state who had aided them in 1848, was to keep the momentum of a united Italy alive, in my opinion a weak motive giving the fact that they were afraid to invade the Austrian territory of Veneto without the French.
King Francis held back at first, but his uncle, the Count of Trapani, who openly abetted the brigand partisans, drew him more and more into collusion with them and their works. The Belgian ecclesiastic, Mgr. de Mérode, who had then an influence at the Vatican not possessed even by Antonelli, looked, unless he was much belied, with a very kind eye upon the new defenders of throne and altar. Efforts have been made to represent the war as one carried on by loyal peasants. No one denies that every peasants' war must assume, more or less, an aspect of brigandage; nevertheless there have been righteous and patriotic peasants' wars, such as that of the Klephts in Greece. The question is, Whether the political brigandage in South Italy had any real affinity with the wars of the Klephts, or even of the Carlists? The Count of Trapani

The partisan chiefs in the kingdom of Naples may have been  brigands, pure and simple but there is thin line between brigand and partizan,but it is true most of them had either been long wanted by the police, or had already suffered in prison for their crimes. That said reactions with arms are not made by men who prefer the hearthrug and the slipper plus a good pipe.
 . They organised their troops on the strict principles of brigand bands, and proposed to them the same object: harrass the invader . 'Lieut-General' Chiavone who had a mania for imitating Garibaldi, was the least violent among them; unlike his prototype, he did not like being under fire, but neither did he care to spill innocent blood.
What, however, can be said for Pilone, 'commander of His Majesty's forces' on Vesuvius; for Ninco Nanco, Bianco dei Bianchi, Tardio, Palma; for Carusso, who cut the throats of thirteen out of fourteen labourers and told the one left to go and tell the tale; for the brothers La Gala, who are said to have roasted and ate a priest?Or was that Piedmontese propaganda. It was said that no horror committed during the Indian Mutiny was here without a parallel.
nino nanco

Of respectable Neapolitans who held responsible posts under the late régime not one joined the bands, but they contained French, Austrian and Belgian officers, and one Prussian. A nephew of Mgr. de Mérode, the young Marquis de Trazégnies, was with Chiavone; the Carlist, Josè Borjès, was with a partizan named Crocco. Borjès'( left)case is a hard one. He had been made to believe in the genuine character of the insurrection and thought that he was giving his sword to an honourable cause. The melancholy disillusion can be traced in the pages of a note-book which he kept from day to day, and which fell into the hands of the Italians when he was captured. The brief entries show a poetic mind; he observes the fertile soil, deploring, only, that it is not better cultivated; he admires the smiling valleys and the magnificent woods whose kings of the forest show no mark of the centuries that passed over their fresh verdure. At first Borjès was pleased with the peasants who came to him, but as they were few, he was obliged to join Crocco's large band(left), and he now began to see, with horror, what kind of associates he had fallen amongst. He had no authority; the brigands laughed at his rebukes; never in his life, he writes, had he come across such thieves.
Before the enemy they ran away like a flock of sheep, but when it was safe to do so, they murdered both men and women. In desperation, Borjès resolved to try and get to Rome, that he might lay the whole truth before the King, but after suffering many hardships, he was taken with a few others close to the Papal frontier  and was immediately shot. He died bravely, chanting a Spanish litany.

dead partizans

Borjès' journal notes the opposition of all classes, except the very poorest and most ignorant. Was it to be believed, therefore, that this mountain warfare, however long drawn out, could alter one iota the course of events? If Francis II. supposed the insurrection to be the work of a virtuous peasantry, why did he allow them to rush to their destruction?

The task of restoring order was assigned to General Cialdini. He found the whole country, from the Abruzzi to Calabria, terrorised by the league of native assassins and foreign noblemen. The Modenese general was a severe officer who had learnt war in Spain, not a gentle school, he also is said to have massacred in S.S fashion. If he exceeded the bounds of dire necessity he merits blame; but no one then hoped in the efficacy of half measures.

killing the enemy

One element in the epidemic of brigandage, and looking forward, the most serious of all, was an unconscious but profoundly real socialism. If half-a-dozen socialistic emissaries had assumed the office of guides and instructors, it is even odds that the red flag of communism would have displaced the white one of Bourbon. This feature became more accentuated as the struggle wore on, and after experience had been made of the new political state.
mounted infantry chased the freedom fighters until late into the seventies
 The economic condition of a great part of the southern population was deplorable, but liberty, so many thought, would exercise an instantaneous effect, filling the mouths of the hungry, clothing the naked, providing firing in winter, sending rain or sunshine as it was wanted. But liberty does none of these things. The disappointment of the discovery did not count for nothing in the difficulties of that period; it counts for everything  in the difficulties of this.Liberty meant the right to starve.


The reorganisation of the southern provinces proceeded very slowly. The post of Lieutenant-Governor was successively conferred on L.C. Farini, Prince Eugene of Carignano, and Count Ponza di San Martino; for a short time Cialdini was invested with the supreme civil as well as military power. None of these changes met with entire success. The government was sometimes too weak, sometimes too arbitrary; of the great number of Piedmontese officials distributed through the south, a few won general approval, but the majority betrayed want of knowledge and tact, and were judged accordingly.Italians chasing partizans by ruggero It was a misfortune for the new administration that it was not assisted by the steam power of moral enthusiasm which appeared and disappeared with Garibaldi. There is a great amount of certainty that the vast bulk of the population desired union with Italy; but it is equally certain that the new Government, though not without good intentions, began by failing to please anybody, and the seeds of much future trouble were planted.

On the 18th of February 1861, the first Italian legislature assembled at Turin in the old Chamber, where, by long years of patient work and self-sacrificing fidelity to principle, the possibility of establishing an Italian constitutional monarchy had been laboriously tested and established. Only the deputies of Rome and Venice were still missing. The first act of the new parliament was to pass an unanimous vote to the effect that Victor Emmanuel and his heirs should assume the title of King of Italy. The Italian kingdom thus constituted was recognised by England in a fortnight, by France in three months, by Prussia in a year, by Spain in four years, by the Pope never.

colt used in Italy after being turned into cartridge fire

 After the merging of Naples in the Italian body-politic, one of the thorniest questions that arose was the disposal of the Garibaldian forces. The chief implored Victor Emmanuel to receive his comrades into his own army, a prayer which the King had not the power, even if he had the will, to grant, as in the constitutional course of things the decision was referred to the ministers, who, again, were crippled in their action by the military authorities at Turin. first parliament
Though it is natural to sympathise with Garibaldi in his eagerness to obtain generous terms for his old companions-in-arms, it may be true that his demand was not one that could be satisfied in its full extent. The volunteers were not inferior to the ordinary soldier; about half of them were decidedly his superior, but they were a political body improvised for a special purpose, and it is easy to see how many were the reasons against their forming a division of a conventional army like that of Piedmont. Nevertheless, the means ought to have been found of convincing them that their King and country were proud of them, that their great, their incalculable services were appreciated. That such means were not found was supposed to be the fault of Cavour. It was only in 1885, on the publication of the fourth volume of the Count's letters, that it became known how strenuously he had fought for justice.
Military prejudice was what was really to blame; General Fanti, the Minister of War, even provoked Cavour into telling him 'that they were not in Spain, and that in Italy the army obeyed.' 'A cry of reprobation would be raised,' he wrote, 'if, while the Bourbon officers who ran away disgracefully were confirmed in their rank, the Garibaldians who beat them were coolly sent about their business. Rather than bear the responsibility of such an act of black ingratitude, I would go and bury myself at Leri. I despise the  ungrateful to the point of not feeling angered by them, and I forgive their abuse. But, by Heaven, I could not bear the merited blot of having failed to recognise services such as the conquest of a kingdom of 9,000,000 inhabitants.'He forgot that he had left the fighting at Magenta and Solferino mainly to the French .
Villafranca had been the real turning point for Naples as it was in those days that Italy thought to at least get the South as without the French they were totally incapable of defeating the Austrians. It was an unprovoked attack and an invasion of a soverign territory like Iraq today.

Cavour, in fact, did obtain something; much more than the army authorities wished to give, but much less than Garibaldi asked or than the Count would doubtless have given had not his hands been tied. And, doubtless, he would have given it with more grace.Medici. An important figure in Southern Italy after the invasion.

As it was, the volunteers were deeply offended and sent their griefs by every post to Caprera. Garibaldi, who refused every favour and honour for himself, was worked up into a state of fury by what he deemed the wrongs of his faithful followers, and in April he arrived unexpectedly at Turin to plead their cause before the Chamber of Deputies. Perhaps by a wise presentiment he had refused to stand for any constituency; but when Naples elected him her representative, almost without opposition, he submitted to the popular will. At Turin he fell ill with rheumatic fever, but on the day of the debate on the Southern Army he rose from his bed to take his seat in the Chamber. The case for the volunteers was opened, and this is worthy of note, by Baron Ricasoli, aristocrat and conservative. Afterwards Garibaldi got up—at first he tried to make out the statistics and particulars which he had on paper, but blinded by passion and by fever, he threw down his notes and launched into a fierce invective against 'the man who had made him a foreigner in his own birthplace and the government which was driving the country straight into civil war.' At the words 'civil war' Cavour sprang to his feet, unwontedly moved, and uttered some expressions of protest, which were lost in the general uproar. When this was quieted, Garibaldi finished his speech in a moderate  tone, and then General Bixio rose to make that noble appeal to concord which, had he done nothing else for Italy, should be a lasting title to her gratitude. 'I am one of those,' he said, 'who believe in the sacredness of the thoughts which have guided General Garibaldi, but I am also one of those who have faith in the patriotism of Count Cavour. In God's holy name let us make an Italy superior to the strife of parties.' He might not be making a parliamentary speech, he added, but he would give his children and his life to see peace established—words flowing so plainly from his honest heart that savage indeed would have been the enmity which, for the time, at least, was not quelled. Cavour grasped the olive branch at once; all his momentary ire vanished. He made excuses for his adversary; from the grief which he had felt himself when he advised the King to cede Savoy and Nice, he could understand the general's resentment. He had always been, he said in general terms, a friend to the volunteers. What he did not even remotely suggest was the dissension which existed between himself and his military colleague on the subject of the Garibaldians. The least hint would have gained for Cavour any amount of applause and popularity; but he preferred to bear all the blame rather than bring the national army into disfavour. Garibaldi replied 'that he had never doubted the Count's patriotism;' but at the end of the three days' debate he declared himself dissatisfied with the Ministerial assurances touching the volunteers in particular and the country's armaments as a whole. As Cavour left the Chamber after the final night's sitting, he remarked to a friend—all his fine equanimity returned: 'And yet, and yet, when the time comes for war, I shall take General Garibaldi under my arm and say: "Let's go and see what they are about inside Verona!"'

 Cialdini tried to stir up the quarrel anew by a letter full of foolish personalities; but to this sort of attack Garibaldi was impervious. It mattered nothing to him that a man should make rude remarks about his wearing a red shirt. He admired the victor of Castelfidardo(below) as one of Italy's best soldiers. He was, therefore, perfectly ready to embrace Cialdini at the King's request before he left Turin for Caprera. It cost him more to consent to an interview of reconciliation with the Prime Minister in the royal presence, because his disagreement with Cavour was purely political and impersonal, and was rooted more deeply in his heart than any private irritation could be; but he did consent, and the interview took place on the 23rd of April. Probably Victor Emmanuel in after days was never gladder of anything he had done than of having caused his two great subjects—both his subjects born—to part for the last time in this mortal life in peace.

On one other memorable occasion the man who, at twenty-two, said that he meant to be Prime Minister of Italy, and who now, at fifty-one, was keeping his word, filled with his presence the Chamber of which he seemed to incarnate the life and history—which may be said to have been his only home, for Cavour hardly had a private life. Very soon the familiar figure was to vacate the accustomed place for ever.


An obscure deputy put a question on the 25th of May, which gave Cavour the opportunity of expounding his views about Rome still more explicitly than in the previous autumn. It was impossible, he said, to conceive Italian unity without Rome as capital. Were there any other solution to the problem he would be willing to give it due consideration, but there was not. The position of a capital was not decided by climatic or topographical reasons: a glance at capitals of Europe was sufficient to certify the fact; it was decided by moral reasons. Now Rome, alone out of the Italian cities, had an undisputed moral claim to primacy. 'As far as I am personally concerned,' he said, 'I shall go to Rome with sorrow; not caring for art, I am sure that among the most splendid monuments of ancient and modern Rome I shall regret the sedate and unpoetic streets of my native town.' It grieved him to think that Turin must resign her most cherished privilege, but he knew his fellow-citizens, and he knew them to be ready to make this last sacrifice to their country. Might Italy not forget the cradle of her liberties when her seat of government was firmly established in the Eternal City!

Chota Sahib 54mm Bersaglieri painted by myself and given new metal sword

He went on to say that he had not lost the hope that France and the Head of the Church would yield to the inexorable logic of the situation, and that the same generation which had resuscitated Italy would accomplish the still grander task of concluding a peace between the State and the Church, liberty and religion. These were no formal words; Cavour's whole heart was set on their realisation. He did not doubt that the knot, if not untied, would be cut by the sword sooner or later. He felt as sure as Mazzini felt that this would happen; but more than any man of any party he had reckoned the cost of ranging the Church with its vast potential powers for good, for order, for public morality, among the implacable enemies of the nascent kingdom. And, therefore, his last public utterance was a cry for religious peace.
The men who invaded the South and lost to austria

Always an immense worker, in these latter months Cavour had been possessed by a feverish activity. 'I must make haste to finish my work,' he said; 'I feel that this miserable body of mine is giving way  beneath the mind and will which still urge it on. Some fine day you will see me break down upon the road.' On the 6th of June, after two or three days of so-called sudden illness, he broke down upon the road.

Fra Giacomo, faithful to his old promise, administered the sacraments to the dying minister, who told Farini 'to tell the good people of Turin that he died a Christian.' After this his mind rambled, but always upon the themes that had so completely absorbed it: Rome, Venice, Naples—'no state of siege,' was one of his broken sayings that referred to Naples. It was his farewell protest against brute force in which he had never believed. 'Cleanse them, cleanse them,' he repeated; cleanse the people of the South of their moral contagion; that, not force, was the remedy. He was able to recognise the King, but unable to collect the ideas which he wished to express to him.

Cavour's death caused a profound sensation in Europe, and in Italy and in England awakened great sorrow. Hardly any public man has received so splendid a tribute as that rendered to his memory in the British Houses of Parliament. The same words were on the lips of all: What would Italy do without him? Death is commonly the great reminder that no man is necessary. Nations fulfil their destinies even though their greatest sons be laid under the turf. And Italy has fulfilled her destinies, but there are Italians who believe that had Cavour lived to complete his task, although his dream of an Eirenicon might never have been realised, their country would not have passed through the selva selvaggia of mistakes and humiliations into which she now entered.cavour

monument to the andersonville of the piedmonts where hundreds of bourbon soldiers were starved to death. In a previous popst I wrote about the prison on the French border where many Southerners were starved to death in deplorable conditions. The fort of Finestrelle is called the "Great Wall of Europe"

fixed bayonet austrian infantry in the making

The Fort of Fenestrelle, considering its overshadowing size, is a colossal military work made up of three different forts: San Carlo Fort, Fort delle Valli (of the Valleys, n.d.T.) and Fort Tre Denti (Three Teeth, n.d.T.), which cover a 3-kilometre length and have a 600-metre height difference.

The stronghold clambers up Monte Pinaia’s whole side and is placed as a defence to Val Chisone, important way of communication between France and Italy. It’s unique in Europe both for its morphological characteristics (there is a long covered staircase inside that links together all forts: it has 4,000 steps), and for its size (1,300,000 square metres’ surface).By virtue of its likeness to the Great Wall of China, it’s commonly indicated as the great wall of Piedmont, and today is the only 18th century fortress still intact. The entire fortified compound was built according to Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy’s will, first king of Sardinia, in order to defend Turin from possible French incursions through the Monginevro pass. easy conversion possible with fixed bayonet american cavalry of 1846

Building works began in 1728 on engineer Ignazio Bertola’s plan, count of Exilles, and finished only in 1850, 122 years later.. Other famous architects took over Bertola’s work, such as De La Marche, Di Robilant, De Vincenti and Pinto.
fixed bayonet set.We sold all of these nearly to a museum in naples.few sets remaining
Despite the long period of activity, the fort was never involved in warfare, and it can be asserted that its only presence was a very strong and evident dissuading element towards potential invaders. Several renovating works have been started since 1990, taken care of by Associazione Progetto San Carlo Onlus (San Carlo Project Association, n.d.T.).

Since 1999 the fort has been classified as symbol monument of the Province of Turin. It  was also the place where bourbon prisoners of war were left to die .

aude 20mm .milan company. these are bourbon artillery

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