Kingdom Of Italy Established
Author: Garibaldi, Giuseppe;Probyn, John Webb
By Giuseppe Garibaldi

1860



After the suppression of the Italian Revolution, by Austria, in 1849, and
the restoration of Austrian power in Italy, Charles Albert, King of Sardinia,
who had headed the movement for Italian independence and had been defeated,
abdicated in favor of his son, Victor Emmanuel. The new King, as Victor
Emmanuel II, succeeded to the throne March 23, 1849, the day of his father's
defeat at Novara. He was a liberal sovereign and zealous for the cause of his
country. With the aid of his great minister, Count Cavour, he proceeded with
the work of securing the unity and freedom of Italy. In 1859 Sardinia and
France, in alliance, defeated Austria. In this war were made the substantial
beginnings from which a new Italian nationality was to be realized. Italian
unity was not the object of Napoleon III in his alliance with Italy against
Austria, but he did much to advance its prospects. He even promised the
complete liberation of Italy, but this promise he failed to fulfil, to the
great disappointment of Italian statesmen. Napoleon wished to see an Italian
confederation, with the Pope at its head, but this plan was rejected.

Sicily and Naples, in Southern Italy, were still governed by a Bourbon
prince. It was necessary to get rid of him, but Victor Emmanuel did not
desire another war. The matter was decided through the action of Garibaldi,
whose first step toward ending the last remnant of Bourbon rule in Italy was a
bold descent upon Sicily. This movement he made against the wishes of Cavour
and in furtherance of the plans of "Young Italy." His own account of his
landing at Marsala and of the Battle of Calatafimi - regarded by him as one of
the most memorable in his military experience - is as characteristic of
Garibaldi the man and writer as were his exploits characteristic of Garibaldi
the soldier.

The events that quickly followed Garibaldi's descent upon Sicily marked
the beginning of a new era in Italian history. After his victory at
Calatafimi Garibaldi moved toward Palermo, the capital. On May 24th the
Bourbon troops of Francis II, king of the Two Sicilies, marched out of the
city to meet him. By shrewd tactics Garibaldi outmanoeuvred them. On the
26th he marched on Palermo with about three thousand men, and attacked the
city on the 27th. The battle was a confused struggle of military and
civilians, many citizens of Palermo, armed with "daggers, knives, spits, and
iron instruments of any kind," taking part, in favor of Garibaldi, in the
street-fighting that accompanied the more regular conflict. The city fell
through revolt of the people and defection of the King's troops rather than by
the assaults of Garibaldi's men, "twenty thousand soldiers of despotism"
capitulating "before a handful of citizens" self-devoted in the cause of
freedom.

By June 6th Garibaldi had complete possession of Palermo; other successes
in his famous campaign of liberation followed rapidly; and his final triumph
was achieved in the later events so eloquently described by Probyn, the
historian of Italy's progress through her most important transformations in
the nineteenth century.

As we approached the western coast of Sicily we began to discover
sailing-vessels and steamers. On the roadstead of Marsala two men-of-war were
anchored, which turned out to be English. Having decided on landing at
Marsala, we approached that port, and reached it about noon. On entering the
harbor we found it full of merchant-vessels of different nations. Fortune had
indeed favored us and so guided our expedition that we could not have arrived
at a more propitious moment. The Bourbon cruisers had left the harbor of
Marsala that morning, sailing eastward, while we were arriving from the west;
indeed, they were still in sight toward Cape San Marco as we entered, so that
by the time they came within cannon-shot we had already landed all the men out
of the Piemonte and were beginning to debark those on board the Lombardo.

The presence of the two English men-of-war in some degree influenced the
determination of the Bourbon commanders, who were naturally impatient to open
fire on us, and this circumstance gave us time to get our whole force on
shore. The noble English flag once more helped to prevent bloodshed, and I,
the Benjamin of these lords of the ocean, was for the hundredth time protected
by them. The assertion, however, made by our enemies, that the English had
directly favored and assisted our landing at Marsala, was inaccurate. The
British colors, flying from the two men-of-war and the English consulate, made
the Bourbon mercenaries hesitate, and, I might even say, impressed them with a
sense of shame at pouring the fire of their imposing batteries into a handful
of men armed only with the kind of muskets usually supplied by the Government
to Italian volunteers.

Notwithstanding this, three-fourths of the volunteers were still on the
quay when the Bourbons began firing on them with shells and grape-shot -
happily, without injury to anyone. The Piemonte, abandoned by us, was carried
off by the enemy, who left the Lombardo, which had grounded on a sand-bank.

The population of Marsala, thunderstruck at this unexpected event,
received us pretty well, all things considered. The common people, indeed,
were delighted; the magnates welcomed us under protest. I thought all this
very natural. Those who are accustomed to calculate everything at so much per
cent. are not likely to be reassured by the sight of a few desperadoes, who
wish to ameliorate a corrupt society by eradicating from it the cancer of
privilege and falsehood, especially when these desperadoes, few as they are,
and with neither three-hundred-pounders nor ironclads, fling themselves
against a power believed to be gigantic, like that of the Bourbon.

Men of high rank - that is, the privileged class - before risking
anything in an enterprise wish to assure themselves which way the wind of
fortune blows and where the large battalions are; and then the victorious
force may be certain of finding them compliant, cordial, and even enthusiastic
if need be. Is not this the history of human selfishness in every country?
The poor people, on the other hand, welcomed us with applause and with
unmistakable tokens of affection. They thought of nothing but the sacredness
of the sacrifice, the difficult and noble task undertaken by that handful of
gallant young fellows, who had come from such a distance to the succor of
their brethren.

We passed the remainder of the day and the following night at Marsala,
where I began to profit by the services of Crispi, an honest and capable
Sicilian, who was of the greatest use to me in government business, and in
making all necessary arrangements which my want of local knowledge prevented
my doing myself. A dictatorship was spoken of, and I accepted it without
hesitation, having always believed it the plank of safety in urgent cases,
amid the breakers in which nations often find themselves.

On the morning of the 12th the "Thousand" ^1 left for Salemi, but, the
distance being too great for one etape, we stopped at the farm of Mistretta,
where we passed the night. We did not find the proprietor at home, but a
young man, his brother, did the honors with kindly and liberal hospitality. At
Mistretta we formed a new company under Griziotti.

[Footnote 1: Garibaldi landed with a force of one thousand volunteers. - Ed.]

On the 13th we marched to Salemi, where we were well received by the
people and were joined by the companies of Sant' Anna d'Alcamo and some other
volunteers of the island.

On the 14th we occupied Vita, or San Vito, and on the 15th came in sight
of the enemy, who, occupying Calatafimi and knowing of our approach in that
direction, had spread out the great part of their forces on the heights called
Il Pianto dei Romani.

The dawn of May 15th found us in good order on the heights of Vita; and a
little later the enemy, whom I knew to be at Calatafimi; left the city in
column, marching toward us. The hills of Vita are confronted by the heights
of the Pianto dei Romani, where the enemy deployed his columns. On the
Calatafimi side these heights have a gentle slope, easily ascended by the
enemy; who covered all the highest points, while on the Vita side they are
steep and precipitous.

Occupying the opposite and southern heights, I had been able to perceive
exactly all the positions held by the Bourbonists, while the latter could
scarcely see the line of sharpshooters formed by the Genoese carbineers under
Mosto, who covered our front, all the other companies being drawn up en
echelon behind them. Our scanty artillery was stationed on our left, on the
highroad, under Orsini, who succeeded, in spite of the poverty of his
resources, in making a few good shots. In this way both we and the enemy
occupied strong positions, fronting each other, and separated by a wide space
of undulating ground, broken by a few farmsteadings. Our advantage therefore
clearly lay in awaiting the enemy in our own position. The Bourbon forces, to
the number of about two thousand, with some cannon, discovering a few of our
men without distinguishing uniform and mingled with peasants, boldly advanced
a few lines of bersaglieri, with sufficient support and two guns. Arrived
within firing distance, they opened with carbines and cannon while advancing
on us.

The order given to the Thousand was to wait without firing for the enemy
to come up, though the gallant Ligurians already had one man killed and
several wounded. The blare of the bugles, sounding an American reveille,
brought the enemy to a halt as if by magic. They understood that it was not
the Picciotti alone they had to deal with, and their lines, with the
artillery, gave the signal for a retrograde movement. This was the first time
that the soldiers of despotism had quailed before the filibusters - for such
was the title with which our enemies honored us.

The Thousand then sounded a charge - the Genoese carbineers in the van,
followed by a chosen band of youths impatient to come to close quarters.

The intention of the charge was to put to flight the enemy's vanguard and
get possession of the two guns - a manoeuvre that was executed with a spirit
worthy of the champions of Italian liberty; but I had no intention of a front
attack on a formidable position occupied by a strong force of Bourbon troops.
But who could stop those fiery and impetuous volunteers in their rush on the
foe? In vain the trumpets sounded a halt; our men did not hear, or imitated
Nelson's conduct at the Battle of Copenhagen. They turned a deaf ear to the
order to halt sounded by the trumpets, and with their bayonets drove the
enemy's van back on their main body.

There was not a moment to be lost, or that gallant handful would have
perished. Immediately a general charge was sounded, and the entire corps of
the Thousand, accompanied by some courageous Sicilians and Calabrese, marched
at a quick pace to the rescue.

The enemy had abandoned the plain, but, falling back on the heights where
their reserve was, held firm and defended their position with a dogged valor
worthy of a better cause. The most dangerous part of the ground we had to
cross was the level valley separating us from the enemy, where we had to face
a storm of cannon - and musket-balls which wounded a good many of our men.
Arrived at the foot of Monte Romano, we were almost sheltered from attack; and
at this point the Thousand, somewhat diminished in number, closed up to the
vanguard.

The situation was supreme; we were bound to win. In this determination
we began to ascend the first ledge of the mountain, under a hail of bullets. I
do not remember how many, but there were certainly several terraces to be
gained before reaching the crest of the heights, and every time we climbed
from one terrace to the next - during which operation we were totally
unprotected - we were under a tremendous fire. The orders given to our men to
fire but few shots were well adapted to the wretched weapons presented to us
by the Sardinian Government, which nearly always missed fire. On this
occasion, too, great service was rendered by the gallant Genoese, who, being
excellent shots and armed with good carbines, sustained the honor of our
cause. This ought to be an encouragement to all young Italians to exercise
themselves in the use of arms, in the conviction that valor alone is not
enough on modern battlefields; great dexterity in the use of weapons is also
necessary.

Calatafimi! The survivor of a hundred battles, if in my last moments my
friends see me smile once more with pride, it will be at the recollection of
that fight - for I remember none more glorious. The Thousand, attired just as
at home, worthy representatives of their people, attacked - with heroic
coolness, fighting their way from one formidable position to another - the
soldiers of tyranny, brilliant in gaudily trimmed uniforms, gold lace, and
epaulettes, and completely routed them. How can I forget that knot of youths
who, fearing to see me wounded, surrounded me, pressing themselves closely
together and sheltering me with their bodies? If, while I write, I am deeply
touched at the recollection, I have good reason. Is it not my duty at least
to remind Italy of those brave sons of hers who fell there? - Montanari,
Schiaffino, Sertorio, Nullo, Vigo, Tukery, Taddei, and many more whose names I
grieve to say I cannot remember.

As I have already said, the southern slope of Monte Romano, which we had
to ascend, was formed of those ledges or narrow terraces used by the
cultivators of the soil in mountainous countries. We made all possible haste
to reach the bank of each terrace, driving the enemy before us, and then
halting under cover of the bank to take breath and prepare for the attack.
Proceeding thus, we gained one ledge after another, till we reached the top,
where the Bourbon troops made a last effort, defending their position with
great intrepidity; many of their chasseurs, who had come to the end of their
ammunition, even throwing down stones on us. At last we gave the final
charge. The bravest of the Thousand, massed together under the last bank,
after taking breath and measuring with their eye the space yet to be traversed
before crossing swords with the enemy, rushed on like lions, confident of
victory and trusting in their sacred cause. The Bourbon force could not
resist the terrible onset of men fighting for freedom; they fled, and never
stopped till they reached the town of Calatafimi, several miles from the
battlefield. We ceased our pursuit a short distance from the entrance to the
town, which is very strongly situated. If one gives battle, one ought to be
sure of victory; this axiom is very true under all circumstances, but
especially at the beginning of a campaign.

The victory of Calatafimi, though of slight importance as regards
acquisitions - for we took only one cannon, a few rifles, and a few prisoners
- had an immeasurable moral result in encouraging the population and
demoralizing the hostile army. The handful of filibusters, without gold lace
or epaulettes, who were spoken of with such solemn contempt, had routed
several thousand of the Bourbon's best troops, artillery and all, commanded by
one of those generals who, like Lucullus, are ready to spend the revenue of a
province on one night's supper. One corps of citizens - not to say
filibusters - animated by love of their country, can therefore gain a victory
unaided by all this needless splendor.

The first important result was the enemy's retreat from Calatafimi, which
town we occupied on the following morning, May 16, 1860. The second result,
and one abundantly noteworthy, was the attack made by the population of
Partinicio, Borgetto, Montelepre, and other places, on the retreating army.
In every place volunteer companies were formed which speedily joined us, and
the enthusiasm in the surrounding villages reached its height. The disbanded
troops of the enemy did not stop till they reached Palermo, where they brought
terror to the Bourbon party and confidence to the patriots. Our wounded, and
those of the enemy, were brought in to Vita and Calatafimi. Among ours were
some men who could ill be spared.

Montanari, my comrade at Rome and in Lombardy, was dangerously wounded
and died a few days after. He was one of those whom doctrinaires call
demagogues, because they are impatient of servitude, love their country, and
refuse to bow the knee to the caprices and vices of the great. Montanari was
a Modenese. Schiaffino, a young Ligurian from Camogli, who had also served in
the Cacciatori delle Alpi and in the Guides, was among the first to fall on
the field, bereaving Italy of one of her bravest soldiers. He worked hard on
the night of our start from Genoa, and greatly assisted Bixio in that delicate
undertaking. De Amici, also of the Cacciatori and Guides, was another who
fell at the beginning of the battle. Not a few of the chosen band of the
Thousand fell at Calatafimi as our Roman forefathers fell - rushing on the
enemy with cold steel, cut down in front without a complaint, without a cry,
except that of "Viva l' Italial" I may have seen battles more desperate and
more obstinately contested, but in none have I seen finer soldiers than my
citizen filibusters of Calatafimi.

The victory of Calatafimi was indisputably the decisive battle in the
brilliant campaign of 1860. It was absolutely necessary to begin the
expedition with some striking engagement such as this, which so demoralized
the enemy that their fervent southern imaginations even exaggerated the valor
of the Thousand. There were some among them who declared they had seen the
bullets of their carbines rebound from the breasts of the soldiers of liberty
as if from a plate of bronze. Far more men were killed and wounded at
Palermo, Milazzo, and the Volturno, but still I believe Calatafimi to have
been the decisive battle. After a fight like that, our men knew they were
bound to win; and the gallant Sicilians, whose courage had been previously
shaken by the imposing numbers and superior equipment of the Bourbon force,
were encouraged. When a battle begins with such prestige, with omens drawn
from such a precedent, victory is sure.

 On June 27, 1860, about three weeks after Garibaldi had taken possession
of Palermo, Francis II solemnly announced his intention to give a constitution
to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, adopt the Italian flag, and ally himself
with Sardinia. These promises only provoked the cry of "Too late!" They did
but recall how often the Neapolitan Bourbons had promised in the hour of
danger, and proved faithless to every promise when the danger was passed.
Victor Emmanuel and his Government were now both unable and unwilling to agree
to any such terms with a sovereign who had rejected similar offers at the
beginning of his reign when such a settlement was possible. Every friend of
freedom felt that the time had gone by for any common action between the
houses of Savoy and Bourbon. Each had taken its own line of action, and each
was now to abide by the result.

Garibaldi had overthrown the Neapolitan rule in Sicily, and raised the
cry of "Italy and Victor Emmanuel!" which found a hearty response. Having
been so successful he now determined, despite the warnings of friendly
advisers and the hostility of enemies, to carry his forces from Sicily to the
mainland, and take possession of Naples itself. He was at the head of about
twenty thousand men under the command of Generals Medici, Bixio, Cosenz, and
Turr. He had also the prestige of victory mingled with a kind of legendary
fame which continually increased. These were formidable aids to further
success, especially when brought to bear on the fervid feelings and
imagination of a southern people. Francis of Naples still possessed an army
of eighty thousand men, of which he despatched more than twenty thousand to
arrest, if possible, the progress of his formidable opponent.

Victor Emmanuel sought to dissuade Garibaldi from an enterprise so full
of danger as that of marching upon Naples against the wishes of the united
cabinets of Continental Europe. The King desired that matters should proceed
by negotiation, the basis of which should be that Neapolitans and Sicilians
should be allowed to decide their future destinies for themselves. Garibaldi,
who loved and trusted the honest King, replied that the actual state of Italy
compelled him to disobey his majesty. "When," said the noble-hearted patriot,
"I shall have delivered the populations from the yoke that weighs them down, I
will throw my sword at your feet, and will then obey you for the rest of my
life." In truth, Italians of all ranks were now so roused that neither Victor
Emmanuel, Cavour, nor even Garibaldi himself could have stayed the movement.

The overpowering strength of foreign armies could alone have put it down.
Circumstances, however, happily prevented so gross an abuse of mere force.
For once Italians were allowed to do as they wished in their own country
instead of being compelled by foreign powers to do as those powers commanded.
Many things concurred to bring about this result. The French Emperor had just
received Savoy and Nice; he had been spending the blood and treasure of France
in giving the first blow to the old despotisms of Italy; how could he now fly
in the face of his own principle of the national will in order to save the
worst of those despotisms? He could not declare that Sicilians and
Neapolitans should not dare have the opportunity of doing what he had at last
permitted in Central Italy and profited by in Nice and Savoy. To have allowed
Austria to do so would be to stultify himself in the eyes of Europe, to enrage
Italians, and to lead France to ask what was the use of calling on her to make
sacrifices for the overthrow of Austrian domination in the Peninsula if within
a few months that domination was to be in a large measure restored.

Austria too had her own difficulties to encounter, and they were both
numerous and complicated. Her military and priestly despotism had suffered
defeat; her people disliked its rule and desired freer institutions; her
finances were terribly disordered.

The Emperor was beginning to see the necessity of a change of system - a
change by no means easy to effect - for the Hungarians were demanding the
restoration of their ancient constitutional rights. Russia and Prussia
contented themselves with protests which had, it may be, some diplomatic
value, but were wholly without practical effect. England was favorable to the
extension of Italian liberties, and France was her ally in Syria and in China.
So it was that Garibaldi, having only to encounter the naval and military
forces of Francis II, crossed the Straits of Messina, landed in Calabria, and
marched on Reggio. On August 21st the town was occupied, and the citadel,
with its commander and soldiers, capitulated. Another victory was gained on
the 23d, dispersing the forces of the Neapolitan Generals Melendez and
Briganti. Some of their soldiers joined Garibaldi; the rest returned to their
homes and increased both his real and his legendary fame by their account of
his victories. The insurrection against the Bourbon dynasty was now rapidly
spreading.

At Cosenza in Calabria, and at Potenza in the Basilicata, provisional
governments were proclaimed and were hailing with delight the progress of
Garibaldi. The forces of Francis were disappearing from those provinces and
leaving the road to Naples unprotected. The fleet was as little to be counted
on as the army. In Naples itself all was confusion and contradiction in the
Government. None of its members trusted the others or believed in the
duration of the Bourbon dynasty. Years of corruption, tyranny, falsehood, and
cruelty had undermined the whole system, and it fell before the storm as if by
magic. Francis II determined to leave his capital. When he ordered the
troops which still remained faithful to him to retreat upon Capua and Gaeta,
two-thirds of the staff sent in their resignation, as did many of the officers
of the Neapolitan fleet. The King addressed a protest to the foreign powers
in which he declared he only quitted his capital to save it from the horrors
of a siege He issued a proclamation to his people in which he expressed his
wishes for their happiness, and declared that when restored to his throne it
would be all the more splendid from the institutions he had now irrevocably
given.

On September 6, 1860, he left the capital on board a steamer accompanied
by two Spanish frigates, and was taken to Gaeta. On September 7th Garibaldi
entered Naples at midday in an open carriage, accompanied by some of his
staff. For long hours he received a welcome such as has seldom if ever been
given to any other man. Again and again he had to appear on the balcony of
the Palazzo d'Angri, where he had taken up his quarters, to receive the
applause of the multitude. At eight o'clock that evening it was at length
announced that, worn out with fatigue and emotion, he had retired to rest. A
sudden quiet fell upon the vast crowds, and repeating to one another "Our
father sleeps," they dispersed to their homes, their right hands raised above
their heads, with the first finger alone extended, a sign expressive of the
cry reiterated again and again that day, "Italia Una!" ("One Italy").

On September 10th Garibaldi issued a proclamation to his soldiers, headed
"Italy and Victor Emmanuel." In it the General called upon them to aid him in
carrying to a successful termination the work so well begun. Nor did he
hesitate to declare that Rome must be Italian, and the line of the Alps the
frontier of Italy. He addressed another proclamation to the people in which
he especially called on them to be united: "The first need of Italy is concord
in order to realize the union of the great Italian family; to-day Providence
has given us this concord, since all the provinces are unanimous and labor
with magnanimous zeal at the national reconstruction. As to unity, Providence
has further given us Victor Emmanuel - a model sovereign who will inculcate in
his descendants the duties which they should fulfil for the happiness of a
people who have chosen him as their chief with enthusiastic homage." The
proclamation went on to speak with kindly warmth of those Italian priests who
had sided with the national cause, and declared that such conduct was a sure
means of gaining respect for their mission and work. Repeating again the
demand for concord, the concluding words justly protested against all foreign
interference: "Finally (be it known) we respect the houses of others; but we
insist upon being masters in our own whether it please or displease the rulers
of the earth."

Garibaldi united the Neapolitan to the Sardinian fleet, so forming an
Italian naval force. He appointed a ministry comprising Liborio Romano (who
had served under Francis II), Scialoia, Cosenz, and Pisanelli; he then
proceeded to promulgate the Sardinian Constitution throughout the Neapolitan
Provinces. But the Bourbon forces were still in possession of Capua and
Gaeta. It became necessary, therefore, to undertake military operations
against them.

Meanwhile the agitation in the Papal Provinces was increasing. The
Pope's Government had refused to modify its policy or agree to any reduction
of its territory. It accepted the protection of France in Rome and its
immediate neighborhood, but declined further aid, as it was raising forces of
its own under a French general, Lamoriciere. These soldiers were men of
various European nationalities belonging to that Roman Catholic party which
was determined to maintain intact the temporal rule of the Pope as against the
wishes of the vast majority of Italians, themselves Roman Catholics, who
desired to substitute for that rule the constitutional sovereignty of King
Victor Emmanuel. The Italians were willing enough to remain under the
spiritual headship of the Roman Pontiff, but they would not have a temporal
power upheld by foreign soldiers. The moment was, like many others, a very
critical one in the history of Italy. Garibaldi was victorious in Naples. The
Papal forces, composed chiefly of Germans and French, under Lamoriciere, were
holding the inhabitants of Umbria and the Marches who were longing to join the
national movement. Indeed, some of the most influential men of those
provinces, among others Marquis Filippo Gualterio of Orvieto, had already come
to Turin to obtain the intervention of its Government and protection from the
Papal troops, whose foreign extraction rendered them odious to the people.

On September 7th Count Della Minerva was sent to Rome to demand, on the
part of Victor Emmanuel, the disbandment of the foreign troops which the Papal
Government had got together under the command of General Lamoriciere. The
demand was refused. This refusal the Papal Government was quite competent to
give, but whether its policy in upholding its temporal power by the aid of
foreign mercenaries was wise or not was another matter. It was hardly to be
expected that Italians, any more than Frenchmen, Germans, or English, would
endure such a state of things if they could prevent it. The Government of
Turin now ordered its troops to enter the Papal Provinces of Umbria and the
Marches. On September 11th General Fanti crossed the frontier, easily took
possession of Perugia with the aid of the inhabitants, and obliged Colonel
Schmidt, the Papal commander, to capitulate. The General advanced with equal
success against Spoleto, and in a few days was master of all the upper valley
of the Tiber. At the same time General Cialdini, operating on the eastern
side of the Apennines, marched rapidly to meet General Lamoriciere's forces,
which he encountered and defeated completely at Castelfidardo, compelling the
French General to fly to Ancona, which he entered in company with only a few
horsemen who had escaped with him from the rout of the Papal army. The
Italian fleet was off Ancona, before which General Cialdini's troops now
appeared, thus completely preventing the escape of Lamoriciere, who was
obliged to surrender. In less than three weeks the campaign was over. The
Sardinian troops having thus occupied Umbria and the Marches, proceeded to
cross into the Neapolitan Provinces and march upon Capua and Gaeta.

Austria, Prussia, and Russia protested against the course thus pursued by
the Government of Victor Emmanuel. The Pope excommunicated all who had
participated in the invasion of his territory. Francis II protested with no
less earnestness. The Emperor of the French withdrew his minister from Turin
and blamed the proceedings of Victor Emmanuel's Government; but in other
respects Napoleon remained a passive spectator of all that occurred, and
maintained the principle of non-intervention - at least as regarded Umbria and
the Marches, Sicily and Naples - excepting at Gaeta, where his fleet prevented
for a time any attack being made against that fortress from the sea. He also
raised the number of his troops in Rome and the province in which it is
situated, called the Patrimony of St. Peter, to twenty-two thousand men. This
was now all the territory left to the temporal power of the Pope. Napoleon
determined to preserve that much to the Roman See, defending it from the
attacks of Garibaldi, and forbidding its annexation to the kingdom of Italy.

The English Government, however, decidedly vindicated the course taken
under the circumstances by Victor Emmanuel and his advisers. Lord Russell,
who was Secretary of Foreign Affairs under Lord Palmerston, wrote, on October
27, 1860, an admirable despatch to Sir James Hudson, the English minister at
Turin, who was allowed to give a copy of it to Count Cavour. In that despatch
Lord Russell gives good reasons for dissenting from the views expressed by the
Governments of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and France; he justifies the action
of the Government of Turin, admits that Italians themselves are the best
judges of their own interests, shows how in times past they vainly attempted
regularly and temperately to reform their governments, says such attempts were
put down by foreign powers, and concludes by declaring that "Her Majesty's
Government will turn their eyes rather to the gratifying prospect of a people
building up the edifice of their liberties and consolidating the work of their
independence amid the sympathies and good wishes of Europe."

It is gratifying to remember that at this very critical juncture in the
cause of Italian unity and independence, the English Government gave its very
cordial support to that cause, and ably defended the course pursued by King
Victor Emmanuel, his ministers, and his people.

The cause of Italian unity and independence had indeed made prodigious
strides, due not only to the marvellous victories of Garibaldi, which had
brought him in four months from Marsala to Naples, but also to the skilful
campaigns of Generals Fanti and Cialdini in Umbria and the Marches. Cavour
now followed up these successes by advising a course calculated to give them
consistency and endurance. He counselled the immediate assembling of
Parliament, the acceptance by Victor Emmanuel of the sovereignty of the Papal,
Neapolitan, and Sicilian Provinces, if such were the will of their
inhabitants, and the departure of the King from Turin to take the command of
his troops now advancing toward Capua. Victor Emmanuel entirely agreed with
his minister's advice. On October 2, 1860, Cavour asked Parliament for full
powers to annex all the new provinces of Central and Southern Italy if they
desired it. He contended that the events which had taken place were due to
the initiative of the people, the noble audacity of General Garibaldi, and the
constitutional rule of Victor Emmanuel, united to his devotion to the cause of
Italian freedom.

Even those deputies who represented the views of the extreme Left, some
of whose members avowed a preference for Republicanism - in theory at any rate
- supported the Government. One of them, Signor Bertani, declared he would
not now raise any point of difference, and frankly acknowledged that in
reality all Italians wished the same thing - "Italy one and free, under Victor
Emmanuel." Cavour further satisfied the Chamber by saying that Rome and Venice
must in the end be united to the mother country, though the questions involved
in such union must, out of deference to Europe and France, be postponed for
the present. A vote of two hundred ninety against six confirmed the policy of
the Government and gave full expression to the wishes of the country.

Garibaldi had in the mean time pushed on his forces from Naples toward
Capua and the line of the River Volturno. On September 19th his troops took
Caiazzo, from which, however, they were dislodged on the 23d of the month.
After his success Francis II determined to take the offensive and attack in
force the Garibaldian lines with the object of driving them back to Naples or
cutting them off from that city. This attempt was well planned and conducted
on October 1, 1860. The struggle was hotly maintained on both sides
throughout the day. Some companies of bersaglieri arrived from Naples and
united in resisting the attacks of the Bourbon troops, who were in the end
repelled and compelled to retire. But though beaten they had fought well and
still held the fortresses of Gaeta and Capua, to which they had retreated. The
army of Victor Emmanuel, however, led by the King in person, was now rapidly
advancing, easily overcoming whatever resistance the Bourbon troops were able
to offer. Francis II, unable to prevent the junction of the King's forces
with those of Garibaldi, withdrew with the bulk of his soldiers to Gaeta,
leaving four thousand men in Capua, who were soon obliged to capitulate.

On October 26th Victor Emmanuel and Garibaldi met near the little town of
Teano. They greeted each other with great cordiality, for though Garibaldi
had little faith in ministers or diplomatists, and could not forgive their
cession of Nice to France, he felt the utmost confidence in the King himself.
Victor Emmanuel on his part had the greatest regard for the heroic patriot who
had ever been so devoted to his country's cause and whose marvelous exploits
had now given freedom to Sicily and Naples. As they grasped each other's
hands Garibaldi cried, "Behold the King of Italy! Long live the King!? The
soldiers of both leaders shouted, "Long live Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy!"

On November 7th the King entered Naples with Garibaldi at his side. The
reception was enthusiastic in the extreme; it reached its culminating point as
Victor Emmanuel entered the royal palace. Long had it been the abode of those
who hated and betrayed both constitutional liberty and national freedom; now
it was taken possession of by one who had risked life and crown in their
cause. The King issued a proclamation, in which he called to mind the
increased responsibilities which fell henceforth upon himself and his people
alike; nor did he fail to remind them of the necessity for union and
abnegation: "All parties must bow before the majesty of Italy which God has
raised up. We must establish a government which gives guarantees of liberty
to the people and of severe probity to the public at large." In the succeeding
days his majesty received the deputations of the newly acquired Provinces of
Umbria, the Marches, Naples, and Sicily, which came to present to him
officially the result of the plebiscite by which the inhabitants of those
provinces declared their wish to be united to the rest of the King's dominions
and so form a single Kingdom of Italy.

Many other receptions there were of societies belonging to several ranks
and classes of men. Particularly impressive was the welcome given to the
deputation which came from the Senate and Chamber at Turin in honor of so
great an event as the union of Southern with Northern Italy under the
constitutional rule of one sovereign. On December 1st Victor Emmanuel
embarked for Palermo, where he was received with an enthusiasm at least as
great as that which marked his arrival in Naples. In the capital of Sicily
all orders of citizens pressed forward to pay him their willing homage.

These great results were not, however, achieved without difficulty, for
there was considerable diversity of opinion and not a little jealousy between
those that surrounded Garibaldi and those that followed the lead of Cavour in
Parliament and in the country. Nor can it be denied that faults and mistakes
may fairly be laid to the charge of both those parties, despite their sincere
attachment to the cause of their common fatherland. A mistake was made by
Garibaldi himself when he wished to postpone the immediate annexation of the
Southern Provinces to the Northern Kingdom, and asked to be named Dictator of
Naples for two years by Victor Emmanuel, whom he further requested to dismiss
Cavour and his actual advisers.

The King rightly refused to agree to a course so subversive of all
constitutional proceedings and liberties. He could not even entertain the
idea of dismissing ministers at the request of any citizen, however
illustrious, or however great the services he had rendered his country. It
was for the national representatives alone to decide to what minister the King
should give his confidence, and what course should be taken as to the
annexation of Naples and Sicily. Garibaldi's good sense and honesty of
purpose led him to give in to the King's judgment. Victor Emmanuel took the
right view of the course to be pursued in this matter, just as he had taken
the right view of the course to be pursued at the moment of the Peace of
Villafranca. In the one case he showed himself wiser than Cavour, and in the
other wiser than Garibaldi. The single-minded patriotism of the latter, and
the statesmanship of the former, combined with the remarkably sure judgment
and unfailing honesty of the King, gradually overcame all the difficulties of
the situation. Victor Emmanuel ever kept aloof from political coteries, while
deferring to the advice of his responsible ministers so long as they had the
confidence of Parliament. He ever showed himself to be the head of the
nation, not the head of a party.

His unswerving determination to be guided by the nation's will as
expressed by the nation's chosen representatives, though nothing new in his
career, won for him the absolute confidence of all Italians, not one of whom
avowed it more frankly than Garibaldi himself. But what shall be said of the
popular hero, sprung from the ranks of the people, who had given a kingdom to
his sovereign? Rarely, if ever, has history recorded nobler conduct than that
of the conqueror of Sicily and Naples when, having liberated those provinces,
he laid down all power, refused all honors, turned away alike wealth and
titles, to betake himself to his island home of Caprera, there to work with
his own hands, to rejoice as he thought of how greatly he had advanced the
independence of Italy, and to pray for the hour of its completion. Whatever
defects may be found in the character or judgment of this heroic patriot, his
name will assuredly be held in grateful remembrance wherever men are found who
love freedom and rejoice as they see its blessings spread more and more among
the nations of the earth. As Garibaldi retired to his quiet abode in Caprera,
Victor Emmanuel returned to his duties in Turin. But neither the one nor the
other forgot Rome and Venice.

The siege of Gaeta was now being carried forward with great
determination. The place was defended with courage and endurance by Francis
II and his Queen. For a time the French fleet prevented the Italians from
attacking Gaeta by sea, but when Napoleon withdrew his ships further
resistance became hopeless. On February 13, 1861, Gaeta surrendered after a
defence of which those who took part in it had a right to be proud. The
garrison marched out with the honors of war, the officers retained their rank.
Francis and his wife embarked for Terracina, and went thence to Rome, where
they were received by the Pope and lodged in the Quirinal palace. The
citadels of Messina and of Civitella del Tronto surrendered soon after, and so
passed away forever the rule of the Neapolitan Bourbons over the Kingdom of
the Two Sicilies.

No less than twenty-two million of Italians were now united under the
sceptre of Victor Emmanuel, who, in accordance with the advice of his Prime
Minister, Count Cavour, dissolved the Parliament. The new election took place
at the end of January, 1861. The constitution as established in Sardinia was
put in force from Turin to Palermo. At the same time the King nominated, as
suggested by his responsible advisers, sixty new Senators or Members of the
Upper House. They were selected chiefly among the most prominent and
influential men of the Provinces of Central and Southern Italy. The elections
were everywhere favorable to the new order of things; namely, the formation of
the single Kingdom of Italy under the constitutional rule of Victor Emmanuel.
The majority of the new Chamber gave a hearty support to Count Cavour.

On February 18, 1861, the first Italian Parliament, representing all the
Provinces of Italy - Venetia and the Roman patrimony alone excepted -
assembled in the Palazzo Carignano at Turin. The title assumed by the King in
concert with his ministers and Parliament was "Victor Emmanuel II, by the
grace of God and the will of the nation, King of Italy." ^1

[Footnote 1: It was almost ten years later - when Victor Emmanuel entered
Rome, September 20, 1870 - that the emancipation and union of Italy were made
complete. - Ed.]

 

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