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Chapter LIX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 4


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Up to September the 17th there had been no encounter between the two armies, but slight skirmishes, in which the Royalists were invariably worsted. On that day Garibaldi ordered a forward movement, which was conducted by Colonel Turr, and was followed by an attack upon Capua. In presence of the advancing column of Major Cattabene, the enemy abandoned the town of Cajazzo, a strong position which the Garibaldians were thus enabled to occupy. But they were only 600 in number, and separated by a river from their base of operations, which was four miles distant. Two days after they were attacked by an overwhelming force, which cut off half their number, and took the major prisoner to Capua. Among those who were thus sacrificed were nearly all the youths who formed the company of the Adolescenti. This company was composed of boys who had left the military schools, and joined Garibaldi in Southern Italy. The oldest of them had scarcely attained the age of fifteen. They defended a barricade, and fought like lions, for five hours. A retreat having been decided upon, they were ordered to form their ranks and march out of the town; but, on a sudden, a concealed battery opened fire upon them at a distance of 200 yards, and only a score of the brave little fellows escaped with their lives. This unfortunate affair, which occurred on the 19th, was only a preliminary encounter. The advance of the Piedmontese army through the Papal States, threatening the rear of the Neapolitans, compelled them to assume the offensive against Garibaldi, in order, if possible, to force their way to Naples, and get possession of the city; in which case, they hoped that diplomacy would arrest the march of the invaders. It was consequently determined by a council of war that, on the 1st October, the birthday of Francis II., the whole of his army should cross the Volturno at different points, and fall upon the Garibaldian lines. The plan might have been successful if the generals were capable officers. The principal attack was directed against Garibaldi's line, between Santa Maria and St. Angelo. It was vigorously conducted, and well supported by powerful artillery; but the military genius of Garibaldi, and the enthusiasm of his troops, prevailed, though the General barely escaped with his life. One of the horses of his carriage was shot dead, and he was obliged, with his staff, to cross the fields on foot. With that good fortune which seems to have made him "the man of fate," he succeeded in reaching the upper part of St. Angelo, which Colonel Medici was defending against an overpowering force. From that point he was able to comprehend in all its details the dangerous position of his army, which at one important point was outflanked and surrounded. To re-open his communications on that side was therefore his first object. This was not accomplished without a desperate fight of four hours, ending by a bayonet charge, led by Garibaldi himself, which compelled the Neapolitans to retire, and prevented their attaining the object of their main attack.

At the Volturno, Garibaldi won the day, with greatly inferior numbers, although he had to resist the combined attack of 30,000 Neapolitan troops, massed in the short line between San Famaro and St. Angelo. Count Arrivabene affirms that the story then current in Europe, that the Piedmontese army had arrived just in time to turn the fortune of war in their favour, is utterly destitute of foundation. It is true that one battalion of Bersaglieri, 200 strong only, was sent by the Piedmontese ambassador, but it did not reach the field till the day after the battle was fought. Captain Forbes states that by eight in the evening, all the wounded were in hospital, the General himself slept at St. Angelo, and returned to Caserta at two o'clock in the morning. He was unwilling to renew the attack, expecting that the King, who had lost in this battle 3,000 men, would abandon such a hopeless contest. The remnant of the royal forces were withdrawn to Gaeta. Count Arrivabene was a prisoner in the hands of the Neapolitans, and in that capacity accompanied them in their retreat from Capua, with eighty-five Garibaldian soldiers. They marched the whole night, and at daybreak arrived at the village of St. Agatha. The people, savages in human form, were waiting for them. As the cortege approached, the prisoners were received with the most horrible howlings, and with a shower of stones. The second night they passed through the camp of the Garigliano, where 12,000 Neapolitan troops had been posted. About midnight a sudden turning of the road, revealed their bivouac fires, which cast a vivid glare over the surrounding objects.' "Here and there groups of soldiers wrapt in their large white cloaks could be seen moving about the camp. The shining helmets of the dragoons, the picturesque caps of the lancers, and the shakoes of the infantry stood out distinct and full in the red glimmer of the flames; and the steady tread of feet, accompanied occasionally by the deep but quiet utterance of the watchword, added to the solemnity of that wild and striking scene. A loud cry of, 'The Garibaldian prisoners! ' with dreadful execrations, was suddenly raised throughout the camp, some of the soldiers rushing forward, and brandishing burning stakes about the heads of the prisoners, who ail thought they were about to be burned alive. "Let us die like Christians!' exclaimed the chaplain of a Milanese battalion, and he began to sing aloud the prayers for the dying. The pious summons of the minister of God was answered with the unanimous cry, 'Yes, let us die like Christians, and like the soldiers of liberty. Long live Italy! Long live Garibaldi!' " The guard, however, protected them from their bloodthirsty foes. At daybreak they arrived at Gaeta, and entered the castle, upon the gate of which they seemed to read the words of Dante -

" All hope abandon, ye who enter here!"

The officers were thrust into a square, ill-ventilated room, so damp that the walls were green and mouldy, and so dirty that the stench was sickening. Their loud remonstrances, however, obtained for them better quarters.

The advance of Victor Emmanuel's army on the Garigliano decided the fate of Southern Italy and of the Bourbon dynasty. It seemed rather a triumphal progress than a contest between two fighting armies. On the 4th of October the King had issued a proclamation to his soldiers, in which he told them that the mercenaries whom he had set free, would speak of them in foreign countries, after having learned that God recompenses those who serve him, and not those who oppress peoples, and despise the rights of the nations. "We must," he said, "establish a strong Italian monarchy on the liberty of the people, who will aid us with order and concord. The national army will increase more and more the glory, which, during eight centuries, has shone on the Cross of Savoy. Soldiers! I take the command. It would cost me too much not to be foremost wherever there may be danger." On the 10th of the same month, Garibaldi - having called upon the people of Southern Italy to vote by universal suffrage for or against annexation to the northern kingdom - addressed the citizens of Naples as follows: -

"Tomorrow, Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy elect of the nation, will break down the frontier which has divided us for so many centuries from the rest of our country, and, listening to the unanimous voice of this brave people, will appear among us. Let us worthily receive the sent of Providence, and scatter in his path, as the pledge of our redemption and our affection, the flowers of concord - to him so grateful, to us so necessary. No more political colours, no more parties, no more discords. Italy one (as the people of this metropolis wisely determine), and the King galantuomo, are the eternal symbols of our regeneration, and of the grandeur and prosperity of the country. "G. Garibaldi."

A Sardinian division, under General de Sonaz, landed at Manfredonia on the 14th of October, and marched on Maddaloni; while the main body of the Sardinian army, under General Cialdini, was pushing on from the Abruzzi towards Capua, compelling the Neapolitans to fall back on Gaeta. Garibaldi had, meantime, concentrated his forces at Calvi, whence he sent Colonel Missori to convey his respects to Victor Emmanuel at Teana. The King received Missori most affectionately, evincing the liveliest interest in the army of Garibaldi, and complimenting the gallant envoy on his own exploits at Melazzo. It was agreed that the King should meet the Dictator next day at the foot of a hill called Santa Maria della Croce. At eight o'clock in the morning, accordingly, the Garibaldian soldiers were drawn up in good order, and, although in rags, did not make a bad show. When the King made his appearance, followed by his staff, Garibaldi advanced to meet him. The splendid uniforms of the Piedmontese officers contrasted strikingly with the coarse garb of the Garibaldians. The General wore his wide-awake, his red flannel shirt, his American grey cloak, and black trousers. At his side hung his famous English sword, "worth all the embroidered uniforms of the world." The two great leaders of Italian unity cordially shook hands, and showed by their faces that the action was the expression of a true sentiment of affection on Garibaldi's part, and of the greatest admiration on the part of the King. The respective staffs halted at a little distance, and listened, in breathless expectation, for the conversation of those warriors. The King complimented the General by saying, that without his daring expedition the unity of Italy would not be a reality for ten years to come. " It may be, sire," answered Garibaldi; "but I could not have attempted my expedition had not Victor Emmanuel been the most noble and generous of kings." Victor Emmanuel then reviewed Garibaldi's army, and when they both appeared in front of the patriot columns, they were saluted by the enthusiastic cries of 12,000 men. His Majesty seemed extremely gratified with his reception, and when the soldiers shouted, " Long live the King of Italy!" he never failed to answer, "Long live Garibaldi! Long live his army! " The review being over, the King and the General rode together towards Bellona, conversing, the two staffs following at some distance. After parting, Garibaldi said to one of his generals, "I did not shrink from telling the King that he is surrounded by a set of men who are not the warmest friends of Italy. I tried to persuade him that what has been said about the influence which Mazzini and his friends exercised over me, is a mere calumny. 'How could I have insisted upon sending Mazzini into exile, when he has done so much for Italian unity?' said I to Victor Emmanuel, and His Majesty agreed that I was right."

The triumphs of the Piedmontese army were rapid. The earthworks were stormed, the Garigliano was crossed, and the main body of the Neapolitan army was driven back to Gaeta. Capua having been bombarded for forty-eight hours, the garrison surrendered on the 2nd of November, yielding almost without conditions. The King, witnessing the bombardment, said, "This is a sad scene; it breaks my heart to think we are sending death and destruction into an Italian town. Let us trust that the cries of those helpless inhabitants will induce General de Carnet to surrender." He did surrender; and the populace who, a month before, were ready to murder the Garibaldian prisoners, now loudly cheered their liberators.

Meantime, universal suffrage had declared Victor Emmanuel King of the Two Sicilies; there being but about 10,000 votes for the Bourbon, against 1,300,000. The task of Garibaldi was now gloriously accomplished; his programme, as conqueror and Dictator, exactly fulfilled. On the 1st of November he distributed medals among the remnant of the 1,000 heroes who accompanied him to Sicily. In the speech which he made on that occasion, he said, - "This is a memorable day for us, for it cements the alliance of two nations, and establishes the fraternity of the people. To-day you have destroyed that principle of egotism which has kept the nations separated, and thus has facilitated the servitude of all. The people with whom you have fraternised to-day have the same enemies which threaten you. Your cause is theirs, and theirs is yours. But before fighting against this external enemy, you have internal enemies to beat down; and I will tell you that the chief of them is the Pope. If I have acquired any merit with you, it is that of telling you the truth, frankly and without a veil. In using this privilege, I tell you that your chief enemy is the Pope. I am a Christian as you are. Yes, I r.m of that religion - that which has broken the bonds of slavery, and has proclaimed the freedom of men! The Pope, who oppresses his subjects, and is an enemy of Italian independence, is no Christian. He denies the very principles of Christianity - he is Antichrist. This truth you must spread among those who are near you; for it is only when all Italians shall be thoroughly convinced of the fact, that Italy will be really free and united."

On the 7th of November Victor Emmanuel made his triumphant entry into Naples. Everything foreboded ill. The day was dark and stormy, and dense clouds that had long been gathering from every quarter, now burst in torrents of rain. Arriving at the station, the King entered the royal carriage, placing Garibaldi at his left, and the Marquis Pallavicini and Signor Mordini, the two pro-dictators of Southern Italy, in front. An immense crowd thronged the streets; a stranger, however, would probably have been led to inquire which of the two personages seated in that carriage was the King; not that vivas for the hero of Palestro were wanting, but those with which the Neapolitans greeted the name of Garibaldi were certainly more numerous. Had Victor Emmanuel been envious, he would have had reason to regret his first entry into Naples, by the side of so popular a companion. Panti and Parini had both suggested to the General that it was quite possible that the Piedmontese rule might not meet with very general approbation in Naples, and that his volunteers might not be encouraged as much as he could wish. The General therefore asked three things of the King, in return for the two crowns he had given him, namely: first, to be appointed Governor of Southern Italy for three years; secondly, that the decrees he had signed during his dictatorship should be ratified, so far as they were in accordance with the constitutional laws of the country; and, thirdly, that the rank conferred by him, in virtue of his dictatorship of the Two Sicilies, on his companions in arms, should be recognised by the new Italian Government. A peremptory refusal was given to the first request. The two last the King's ministers were disposed to grant, but upon certain conditions to be named by themselves. In the end, the King renewed the royal promise he had previously made, that Garibaldi's volunteers should be incorporated with the regular army, and be subject to the scrutiny of a mixed commission - a promise which was afterwards broken by his ministers. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that Garibaldi declined all the offers subsequently made to him. The King offered him apartments in any palace in the kingdom of Naples he liked to name. He also promised him that when his daughter should marry, he would give her a wedding portion. He proposed making his eldest son Menotti one of his aides-de-camp, offering him at the same time the grand cross of an Italian order. General Cialdini had endeavoured, it was said, to bring about a reconciliation between Garibaldi and Cavour; but it can never be supposed that in this Cavour was in earnest. Por if he were, why was General Panti permitted to accompany the King? The conduct of General Panti at Florence, and General Garibaldi's resignation of the command of the army in Tuscany in consequence of that conduct, will be fresh in the memory of our readers. Yet now General Fanti was chosen to regulate the future destinies of the southern army, although he had always been the greatest adversary of the volunteers, and was believed to be the bitterest foe of Garibaldi himself. On the arrival of the King, his Majesty, as a devout Catholic, attended to pay his devotions at the shrine of St. Januarius; Garibaldi did not kneel, but remained standing apart a few paces behind. The King was in his handsome uniform; Garibaldi in the old red shirt in which he had gained two kingdoms for Victor Emmanuel. Mr. Brooke said of the scene -

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Pictures for Chapter LIX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 4

The Palace at Naples
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Austrian troops in Italy
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