Monday 10 January 2011


If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace

 Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

 And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,

 If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

 Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs

 Bitter as the cud

 Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--

 My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

 The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

 Pro patria mori

The dead of 1865 looked like this but it could have been any battlefield before or after the times. Those looking for glory or those trying to tell it to small boys eager to be soldiers should study the work of the painter Mendel who painted the dead of the Prussian army in thier fight against the Austrians. The poem above by Wilfred Owen gives us an unwitting insight into the minds of those who have never been in the front line but seem to want war as some honour bound train on the way to glory, of course the reality is totally different and known only to those who have experienced it: from this comes real truth not that in books but that of the feeling and turmoil and anquish.
The battle of Varese by Farrufini that comes after it is truthful in that the painter at least got the uniforms right but within his image there is still the romantic air.The painters of the Risorgimento did not get near
to the painting here by this German painter as regards truth and reality (and after he had painted it he never painted war again so sickened was he by what he saw
But we have a debt with all the painters of these wars for at least they left us with what it may have been like. In this post I am highlighting Quinto Cenni and in a later post I will be going into more detail.
Cenni was the greatest uniform painter and he wrote notes on his images as to what hue was right or as to what rifle was carried , a brilliant painter but more important to us as someone we can rely on to model the soldiers on or paint them.Quinto Cenni was different to nearly all the other artists of the military for in all effects he was not a Military painter but a painter of uniforms
We get the feeling from Quinto that he only used painting to get everything down and if he had had a camera he might never have painted, that said a great artist.

Federico Faruffini, “La battaglia di Varese

unidentified toy soldier in 54mm.could be painted up as a papal zouave. i saw this on ebay but couldn't find out what it was or made by.tell me someone.If you painted this zouave in the correct colours the details on it are nearly the same as the papal infantry zouaves
The glory that had been recorded in paintings and poems as regards the storming of Porta Pia had been a fairy tale , the fact was that the "Kill Infantry"zouaves  of the Papal states so good against lesser foes were not much against regular trained troops like the Bersaglieri, they had not surrended almost at once.
The battle of Mentana had been more or less won for them by the French and their new rifle. But the fairy tale went ahead until everyone believed it for as Goorbels said "If you repeat a lie long enough most idiots will in the end believe it". The reason why people will believe lies or half truths are myriad but basically we can say that those willing to believe in a lie are those lacking imagination or secondly those who want something to be true.
They believed the lie in Thatcher's time with the so called glorious victory over the Argentinians and they believe it still in Bush's time and in Obama's. And straight away after the wars of independence had ended the facts were forgotten and the myth remained and then even that was laid aside.

I wish I had purchased this on the internet but unfortunately I forgot about it after taking the photo

The piedmontese infantry by C.P.G. This firm is still going but I have not seen any publicity for ages
easily convertible pieces for garibaldini, you could give them the broad brimmed hat with feather using the great mike blake method who by the way is the only real reason to buy toy soldier magazine.this garibaldini has a hat which is not the usual kepi. the real uniforms were a mishmash of everything including captured even austrian stuff. this should alert us to the real uniforms of an army, just look at waterloo where the french wore anything but those perfect uniforms  idealised by king and country, most of their uniforms were anything they could get hold of.

garibaldians in action

The chains had been thrown off Italy, that country who begged for support and offered very little thanks to those who had helped, now,incredibly, it looked to enslave someone else, Africans.The race for Africa would be at the forefront of a man like Crispi's thinking who once having attained freedom tried to take it away from another country. Its big horn would be Adua below

But first lets look at the times after liberation.Italy did not introduce universal adulthood male suffrage until after World War I and Italian democracy was restricted to propertied and educated classes, the peasants had been right all along in not supporting the war.

italian peasants at the start of the 1900's

Accounts tell us that they even preferred Radetsky in the Verona countryside; they manifested this by turning their backs on the marching columns of Piedmontese but then cheered old Radetsky when he passed.These stories are confirmed by what happened in the Tyrol .
italian piedmontese infantry and garibaldino re-enactorspeasant in cart around 1867

Bezzecca was the only Italian victory of the third war of independence, next to the disasters of Custoza and Lissa. The battle of Bezzecca dated 21 July 1866 has always had an important role in the Risorgimento epic. There the redshirts following General Garibaldi wrestled with the Austrians paving the way towards Trent the city-symbol of Irredentism.There the hero of two Worlds had to stop, blocked by the telegram of King Vittorio Emanuele II to which he replied with the famous «I obey».

life did not change much for the country people . At the battle of Solferino they had killed the dying to take whatever little riches the dying soldiers had  on them according to the book SOUVENIR OF SOLFERINO. I would reccomend this book to all those who think its glorious to die fighting for ones country

The Red shirts are worn a bit too much in re-enactments . Were the garibaldians really dressed like this or not. I'll be talking about it in a later post

garibaldian volunteers

There the volunteers  redeemed the bad results inflicted on the ground by the army and Navy . In the collective imagination, therefore, Bezzecca (below)was among the national glories.

A hundred years after the battle (on July 21st starts in fact the year anniversary celebratory), popular sources and documents of the era reveal something else.In the face of those feats of arms in the summer of 1866 a new polemic spreads itself across the canvas.Bersaglieri officer below

the cacciatori of the alps were a version of the garibaldini who had fled to the general's arm after fleeing from the veneto

see here a mishmash of unform and dress

It show a population openly hostile to the garibaldini and adverse to war,and faithful to the Catholic Emperor of Austria and not at all willing to switch to the Italian State.These people were not traitors like those of todays Lombard League under Umberto Bossi but perhaps did not feel so Italian.the plate seen here is by the greatest military artist of all Quinto Cenni. He not just faithfully drew images of the real uniforms but filled his drawings and images with notes.
below is another of his drawings

A garibaldian may well have looked like this bove image
 It shows the scum of the earth not willing to risk on a throw of the dice or it shows a docile Germanic peasantry forced into Italy.
The peasant drinks hard and eats hard after a successful harvest the rest is nothing but he has always been the mainstream of European armies , but he hardly cares. He was not a protagonist in the wars of independence.These wars were made of students  men who wanted adventure and the small standing army.Cenni again with Italian landing party 1875

I won't judge as I have only accounts to examine, examining accounts on record makes no one a real historian. Witting testimony and unwitting testimony make ideas not facts and reading something in a book makes it even less so not to speak of the internet.The internet is full of those that speak against the words in Wilfred Owen's fine poem that I'm sure you know . There seems to be an idea going round that we all "support" mainstream military ideas, I don't. I'm sure I'm in the minority.garibaldian command by quinto cenni who recorded frrom life

.People read historical; accounts and then demonstrate their proficiency as an historian but the truth is far different to what official accounts bring us and official accounts are most likely the furthest from the truth. A glance at the recent Toy Soldier magazine letters page in the UK will give you a clear example of my point: everyone is an expert of what someone else said.Someone else did it and now I read it I'm an expert, get the idea. In History primary sources are the key to some kind of truth but nothing beats experience .

Garibaldi stand sentinel over the alps in this fantastic statue. there are statues of him all over Italy and deserved it is depiste and notwithstanding his flaws
Austrian infantry Im still working on. I hope to produce these in metal and put them with my other commercially avaible soldiers

large scale wargame of the italian wars against the austrians at salute wargames

austrian  infantry in the last battles

But first lets resize the glory of battle and the heavy losses inflicted on the garibaldini compared to those in front of them and against. 25 mm wargame battle

The garibaldian according to newly found testimony wasn't so tied to their ardor and that upright example of courage that is percieved of them today, but to their excesses and intemperence, anti-clericalism ,and the will to damage and destruct all that the volunteer found in his path.below are fixed bayonet painted troops in wooden box ready for dispatch
salute wargaming show .here is a risorgimento  game

below is a fine model of a building that would be perfect for the war in italy its 28mm
54mm garibaldi

Beyond the rhetoric of the Risorgimento,1866 appears to be a war waged by few, opposed by local populations and the clergy who suffered trying to contain the damage nevertheless Garibaldian philosophy was anti church and maybe with good reason..
good image of the piedmontese infantry

Giuseppe Garibaldi, did not light up those mountain parts with great enthusiasm as regards the locals. A peasant said to Garibaldi. «See Lord, here by us is not a matter of sympathy for Italians and Austrians, but rather of polenta» Polenta was the staple diet of the poor along with chestnuts right up until the end of the 2nd world war.

Fixed Bayonet set of ten soldier painted in superb wooden box. 70 Euro instead of 140 of 140

the people's voice popular as it is ignorant still speaks out from those times, a collection of remembrances by a journalist of the newspaper Il Sole di Milano, in 1865 has just been publishedGaribaldi needed to be carried towards the end of the Italian campaigns

' The war is raging in the fields, but the peasant fears always , hunger ,cold as it being winter and he fears the family asking him if they can eat, and he does not have food '.The same journalist realizes and describes the climate of hostility towards the followers of Garibaldi.

at the wine house and below volunteers at magenta who were classed as cacciatori of the alps . i will be going into the distinction of the garibaldians and the cacciatori . both belonged to garibaldi's command .

«The other night I was in an osteria and was shocked to that done by our saviours to our priest. '

"Will he be a spy, "I say yes". Said one volunteer."All were protesting about that priest and those gentleman could not and should not be treat out priest like that ". Said the peasant

And still another Chronicle of the times

:«people told that a certain Giuseppe Garibaldi, injured or killed another with a shot gun. "

"I really believe that they will be excommunicated,they jumped on an old woman which seemed to show a total lack of authority in the Brigade, if you kill each other you must be excommunicated "».Why not try and grow your own trees as I do for your wargames table. You could grow types suitable to the Italian countryside. If you have space you could grow them in trays with wargames buildings spaced around them. As for the troops well if you used plastic ones you could take the bases off and use pins in the legs to place them in the earth.

And again: ' In a farmhouse between Tiarno and Ampola (not far from Bezzecca n.d.r.) an old man confessed naively, to like garibaldians, he had to run home and close himself inside his house"

54mm diorama

Above the garibaldians fight in the mountains and below is an example of the uniforms, note the difference in the headwear

giveaway in the 60's in this childrens newspaper

two garibaldians by camarano

Here is another model by steel models of a damaged house , compare it to thje illustration below and you can have an idea of what you could create in a diorama or wargames setting

garibaldian hat on sale on ebay

garibaldi and his black bodyguard who died in battle

Not only the peasant chroniclers of the era denounced the garibaldian wrongdoings.

Even priests reported to Bishop with outraged reports. anger arose in the parsonages of Bondone and Pieve di Ledro , they were especially angry with the redshirt, how they danced in Church, courted girls of the place and were doing their toilet needs in holy water font. Writes the parish priest of Pieve, just outside Bezzecca. «The small church of San Giuseppe here in Pieve was converted into barracks. The Church of Loke, Nova Gorica was purely converted into military barracks and dormitory; they broke the sepulchre of the relics of the altar, and use a bowl of baptistery as a chamber pot '.
peasants of the times

The Italian police frontier confirmed. "None of our border inhabitants, would you convince of the goodness of the Garibaldini». And the Pretore di Condino, compiling his relationship to superiors writes: "At Bondone instead of being distributed for houses, the garibaldini claimed to be housed in the Church, and indeed entered the same where they played the organ, and did dancing… "But as we have seen in the Spanish Civil war much of Catholic clergy was rotten and the people that followed them were often the same way.The real meaning of the Catholic is obedience and they call it faithinduno

That said many Catholics were decent upright human beings who suddenly had fighting men placed on them .The life of the Italian peasant changed for nothing after the wars with austria and liberation was gained.
Quinto Cenni and below

There was mass emigration from Italy during the century between 1876 to 1976, the U.S. was the largest single recipient of Italian immigrants in the world. In short the rest of the world was like a social assistant for Italy and the chaos of their policies in parliament and it still goes on today.
Italy in my view had made their greatest mistakes in snubbing Napoleon the third and thereby snubbing the ordinary men who had died on their fields in their thousands and then making allies of the Prussians.Their second disgrace and mistake was that of invading Africa proving ,like the fight for liberty in America, that countries belong to the enfranchised after a war and not to the ordinary humble soldier who makes the war of the enfranchised. Therefore all was for nothing for the Austrians had been replaced with other Austrians" who called themselves Italians exactly the same as the war in the American colonies.The glory of Magenta (below) and Solferino would fade fast until schoolchildren going to school in this present moment will say they have never heard the names and the names would mean nothing for betrayal means nothing and memory does not remind itself of the liar class.

the people fled the country , rushing away and praying to get the money together for a passage.General Hunger was at the door and in places like the Veneto and Sicily the people died of malnutrition.
Once away they would never come back and think of Italy as a bad dream.Some went to the States others especially the Sicilians and the lombards ran away to London.Many opened Caffs.

the italians acted with their feet and the only ones left in some places were those so destitute they couldn't leave or those that were sworn to the land.It wasn't just the south , the veneto was a very poor area and also lombardy.What had the wars done ?

60's Italian plastic model of Garibaldi

In the U.K British workers went on strike to try and stop the flow of Italians who'd work for very low wages, these were maybe the first ever riots over cheap immigrant labour. The wars in Italy had left a land fit for the Petit bourgoeisie upwards but not those below that level.abject poverty nearly on a level with africa endured into the 1960's and no wonder today that the southerner still questions the right of these wars for nothing changed.

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