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Theatre of War
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The Battle
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Solferino Today
San Martino Tower
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The Battle.

Just how many troops in all three armies were present on the battlefield is debatable; all sources relating to the battle giving different figures. Some Italian descriptions state 135,000 French and Piedmontese and 140,000 Austrians.[1] The booklet published by the Comunita’ Del Garda gives 300,000 infantry and 26,000 cavalry, with 1,500 cannon as the combined total. Yet another source, Dr Vitantonio Palmisano, has 80,000 French, 30,000 Piedmontese, and 90,000 Austrians.[2] French and German sources range from 300,000 to as little as 180,000, while in English H.C.Wylly in his work, The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino 1859, puts the Austrians at 189,648 infantry, 22,000 cavalry, with 752 cannon; the French and Italians, 173,603 infantry, 14,353 cavalry, with 522 cannon.[3] Patrick Turnbull, who seems to have looked at Wylly’s estimates, agrees with the numbers for the French and Piedmontese but decided to take off a few from the Austrians, giving them a total of 146,000 infantry, skipping the cavalry numbers and stating that they had 88 squadrons.[4] Given that all three armies had been engaged in many heavy skirmishes and a major battle, and allowing for the Austrians having been reinforced by fresh troops, although still not probably all at full regimental strength, then a fair estimate would be around 120,000 effectives, with 500 cannon. The French and Piedmontese I consider, after much head scratching, probably fielded no more than 130,000 men, with 400 cannon.

Napoleon III (Mansell Collection)

On the 23rd June Napoleon III issued orders for the offensive drive to commence at 3 a.m. the following morning. The Ist Corps, commanded by Marshal Baraguey d’Hilliers to march from Esenta to Solferino; IInd Corps, commanded by General Maurice de MacMahon from Castiglione to Cavriana; IIIrd Corps, commanded by Marshal François Certain Canrobert from Mezzane to Medole; IVth Corps commanded by General Adolphe Niel, together with the cavalry divisions of General Patouneaux and General Desvaux, from Carpendolo to Guidizzolo. The Emperor’s Headquarters were at Castiglione with the Imperial Guard commanded by General Saint Jean d’Angely. The army of Victor Emmanuel to move towards Pozzolengo, their 2nd Division (General Fanti) on the right keeping in contact with the French Ist Corps.

On the morning of the 24th June the Austrians were also moving forward on the offensive. Orders to Second Army, commanded by Feldzeugmeister Count von Schlick, to cross the Mincio River; 8th Corps (Benedek), together with a detached brigade from 6thCorps, to move on Pozzolengo; 5th Corps (Count Stadion) to move on Solferino; 1st Corps (Clam- Gallas) to cross the river at Valeggio and move on Volta and Cavriana; 7th Corps (Zobel) to move on Foresto; the cavalry division (Mensdorff) to move in the rear of 7th Corps heading to the east of Cavriana.

The young Emperor Franz Josef.

Orders to First Army, commanded by Feldzeugmeister Count von Wimpffen, forming the left of the Austrian formations. To remain refused to protect Goito from any enemy advance. When the movements of the Second Army has developed the 3rd Corps (Schwartzenberg) will cross the Mincio and move on Guidizzolo; 9th Corps (Schaffgotsche), crossing the river at Goito will also move on Guidizzolo with the cavalry division (Zedtwitz) protecting the left flank towards Medole, pushing out detachments towards Casaloldo and Castel Goffredo; 2nd Corps (Liechtenstein) after detaching two brigades to join the 11th Corps, will move on Marcaria. The Emperor Franz Josef’s Headquarters was at Valeggio.[5]

In his work, Solferino: The Birth of a Nation, Patrick Turnbull states that the possible reason why Allies and Austrians failed to know each others whereabouts, even though they were in close proximity of one another, was due to freak weather conditions, in particular a heat wave that sent the temperatures soaring to well over 35c. In fact the temperature in northern Italy during the month of June can be very high without any “freak” heat wave to help it along. There was indeed a recorded heat wave for 1859, but that took place in July, not in June, and was one of the hottest ever on record. Besides this, one fails to see how heat would affect good reconnaissance and information gathering by well-trained light cavalry? It all seems to come down to the fact that neither side had a clue what the other was doing. Such things had happened before. To give just one example; during the Austrian campaign of 1809, Napoleon had crossed the Danube River forming his advanced forces in a very constricted area between the villages of Aspern and Essling. Although both villages had church spires with excellent visibility across the billiard - table flatness of the Marchfeld plain, and the French had light cavalry outposts out covering the approaches, the vast Austrian army under Archduke Karl, numbering over 100,000 men, was not detected even though they were only a few miles away.

As Napoleon III was preparing to move with his staff from Monte Chiaro to Castiglione, at around 7 a.m. on the morning of the 24th June, he was met by one of MacMahon’s aides on a sweating horse who informed him that the Austrians were concentrating on the very ground which the French Emperor had ordered occupied by his own troops. Arriving in the town square of Castiglione, Napoleon climbed the church tower and was passed his Lemaire field glasses. Focusing onto the distant hilltops around Solferino and Cavriana he at once saw that these formidable heights, as well as the ground stretching away to the south was covered with the white uniforms of the Austrian infantry, and that other masses were rapidly approaching. Now fully realising that his original plans had been relegated to the litterbin, Napoleon decided that although the cost would prove high, he had no alternative other than to try and storm the high ground now crammed with the enemy about Solferino and attempt to split the Austrian line in two.

Napoleon III at Solferino ( Mary Evans Picture Library)

The battle had actually started at around 5 a.m. in the morning when the Austrian outposts at Morino, north east of Medole, had been engaged with elements of Luzy’s French division ( Neil’s IVth Corps). This soon escalated into a full-blown struggle for possession of Medole itself, as Luzy committed more troops to the attack, finally forcing the two regiments of the Austrian 52nd regiment (9th Corps) together with two cannon out of the village. Further to the south Canrobert’s IIIrd Corps was approaching Castel Goffredo at around 7 a.m., and hearing the rumble of cannon around Medole he dispatched Renault’s division towards the village.  Stationed to the rear of Medole, Lauingen’s Austrian cavalry brigade had been placed in support, but that general, considering the ground to be unfavourable for cavalry ordered a retirement towards Ceresara, and finally fell back to Goito where he remained taking no further part in the action. As if this was not bad enough General Zedtwitz, who commanded the cavalry division on this wing, also decided to ride off in search of Lauingen’s meandering brigade with the consequence that the Austrian left flank was deprived of its mounted arm for almost the whole day. [6]

Meanwhile at around 7.30 a.m. Napoleon III was about to set in motion his assault on Solferino, with Marshal Baraguey d’Hillier’s Ist Corps, supported by MacMahon’s IInd Corps. Meeting the French Emperor MacMahon informed him of large enemy columns advancing on Guidizzolo and Cavriana with still more hostile battalions heading towards Medole. He also voiced his concern about the widening interval that was being created between his corps and that of Neil’s, which had pushed on rapidly and was in danger of becoming isolated. Considering the situation Napoleon ordered the Guard cavalry to plug the gap while MacMahon grouped his corps so as to cover Casa Marino on his left and Cassiano on the right.

The Austrians were indeed approaching in great strength towards the void spotted by MacMahon, but once again a total lack of coordination caused them to fritter away the golden opportunity of severing the French line. Here the 9th and 3rd Corps where closing on Casa Marino, and the 1st Corps establishing itself in Cavriana, with troops thrown forward into Cassiano. But instead of pressing on Schaffgotsche, the commander of the 9th Corps detached his second division (Crenneville) to Medole, and three brigades from his first division (Handl) on the Rebecco- Medole road, sending the other brigade towards Ceresara. This left Schwartzenberg’s 3rd Corps as a rather blunt spearhead in the advance on Castiglione. To cap it all Schwartzenberg’s brigades, supposedly due to the difficult terrain it had to contend with, began to drift apart, and came into action piecemeal.[7] Once again this does not say a great deal for how much the Austrians had learnt about the ground during all their peacetime manoeuvres.

At 9 a.m.the fighting around Medole had flared up again as Crenneville moved towards the village, only to be hit on his left flank by the Vinoy’s French division (IVth Corps), while sustaining heavy fire from Luzy’s troops on the right, halting its progress and forcing it to take up a defensive position across the Mantua- Castiglione road confronting Vinoy’s division. Handl’s brigades had also become widely separated owing to the nature of the ground, with one brigade engaging Luzy’s division and another further south running into Lenoble’s French brigade (IVth Corps). Handl’s third brigade had already fallen back in some disorder to Guidizzolo after suffering a pounding from the French artillery.

View of the Mont des Cyprées

In the centre Marshal Baraguey d’Hillier’s Ist Corps, with Ladmirault’s First division leading, came towards Solferino at 6 a.m. Finding the village strongly held Ladmirault formed his troops into three attacking columns, sending one to attack frontally, while the other two came in on each side endeavouring to outflank the defenders. D’Hillier’s Second division (Forey) supported the attack, with the Third division (Bazaine) in reserve. However Napoleon was far from happy at not being able to administer the massive strike he had intended owing to Niel’s commitment around Medole and MacMahon’s slow progress at Cavrinana, which was stoutly defended. Unlike his renowned uncle however, Napoleon III did not hoard his mass of decision –The Imperial Guard. By 10 a.m. the French, after some severe fighting forced back the outlying Austrians holding positions in advance of Solferino, and were able to push forward several batteries of artillery to take-on the enemy gun emplacements around the village. Knowing full well that an attack was imminent the Austrian 5th Corps commander (Stadion) had informed Count Schlick that a major assault was imminent, to which the Second Army commander perforce moved up units of the 1st and 7th Corps for close support, and ordered Mensdorff’s cavalry division towards the open ground between Cassiano and Casa Morino to contain any turning movement in that direction.[8]

Progress was slow and bloody with Ladmirault’s and Forey’s regiments receiving a severe pounding as they attempted to gain a toe hold on the fire belching heights, but fresh troops were now available in the form of Bazaine’s Third Division, which Baraguey was able to throw into the fight, as the French Emperor moved forward himself to the fighting line with the two divisions of Imperial Guard infantry. On the Austrian side, despite the protection offered by buildings and entrenchments casualties were mounting, with no sign of any abatement in the assaults of the enemy. In fact the French were making ground, for with outstanding courage and at a great cost in life they had managed to bring forward a battery of artillery onto an outlying rise of ground only 300 meters from the cemetery of Solferino, which caused extensive damage to the surrounding walls.[9]

Clash between French infantry and Austrian cavalry at Solferino 
(Museo San Martino)

To the north the Piedmontese started their advance towards Pozzolengo sometime around 6 a.m. in the morning, probing through a thin veil of mist that drifted inland from Lake Garda. They were soon brought up short by four Austrian brigades, which had been placed on the hills above the town by the 8th Corps commander, Lieutenant Field Marshal Ludwig August von Benedek ‘Radetzky’s Number Two.’* The faulty distribution of the Italian divisions allowed each to be driven back by vigorous Austrian counter attacks as far as San Martino, but realising that he probably had the better part of Victor Emmanuel’s army before him, Benedek ordered his brigades to fall back and regroup while he brought forward his two reserve brigades that had been stationed to the east of Pozzolengo. At 8.00 a.m. the Austrians again took the offensive, pushing forward three brigades which, after bitter fighting managed to establish themselves on the San Martino ridge.

Fully intending that his army would not play second fiddle to the French as they had done at Magenta, Victor Emmanuel ordered Cucchiari’s 5th Division, supported by a brigade from Mollard’s 3rd Division, to retake the heights, and sometime between 9.30 and 10 a.m. the Italian columns, approaching from Rivoltella, stormed the Austrian position. The fighting became severe, with the Italian troops briefly gaining ground only to be forced back across the railway line by a heavy Austrian counterattack. For the next two hours no other attempt to storm the strongly held position around San Martino was attempted, with both sides regrouping while maintaining a constant duel of artillery fire, Benedek being content to hold his ground rather than expose his left flank by going over to the attack.

While the struggle around San Martino was taking place the Piedmontese 2nd Division, commanded by General Fanti, was approaching the battlefield from the direction of Malocco. Originally given orders to support Marshal Baraguey d’Hilliers attack on Solferino by Napoleon himself, Fanti now received a message from Victor Emmanuel directing him to march north to support the other Italian divisions confronting Benedek’s 8th Corps, placing one of his brigades under the orders of General Mollard, and with the remaining brigade move on Madonna della Scoperta to give assistance to General Durando’s 1st Division. [10]

By 11 a.m. Ladmirault’s division (I Corps), after repeated attempts to gain the Solferino heights, and having incurred heavy losses, was pinned down to the north of the village by Austrian infantry and artillery dug in on the Mont des Cyprées. Every attempt to get to grips with their adversaries was foiled by a murderous enfilading fire directed from the rooftops and gardens of Solferino, as well as a steady peppering from the Austrian Jäger battalions hidden among the bushes and trees that covered the approaches. Forey ( I Corps) had committed both of his brigades in support of Ladmirault’s attack, while further to the right Bazaine division was heavily engaged in assaulting the cemetery. Seeing that no progress was being made on either flank, and that a decision could only be achieved in the centre by breaking the Austrian hold on Solferino, Napoleon ordered forward Camou’s division of the Imperial Guard. This fresh injection of force finally tipped the scales in favour of the French and the Monte di Cyprées was taken by storm. During this bloody action a bullet fractured General Ladmirault’s left shoulder and after having the wound dressed and returning to the fighting line he was unlucky enough to receive another bullet wound in the leg. General Dieu, commanding the Imperial Guard Voltigeurs had fallen at the head of his men; Brigadier General Auger leading one of Forey’s brigades had his arm mangled by shrapnel but refused to leave the field and Forey himself took a bullet in the hip from a hail of fire that killed two of his ADCs, one of whom, Captain de Kervenoel had the top of his head removed by an artillery shell.[11] The plain and hillsides were covered with dead and wounded, the latter not only suffering from terrible injuries but also from exposure to the boiling sun and lack of water.

Austrians and allies trampled one another under foot, slaughtered each other on a carpet of bloody corpses, smashed each other with rifle butts, crushed each other’s skulls, disembowelled each other with sabre and bayonet. It was butchery; a battle between wild beasts maddened and drunk with blood. Even the wounded fought to the last breath.[12]

With the capture of the Mont di Cyprées the French now began to reorganize for an assault on Solferino village. Here every house had been turned into a stronghold, well barricaded and staunchly held. The San Pietro cemetery, defended by two Croatian battalions, was a veritable redoubt, which had withstood the pounding of French artillery and repeated assaults by massed infantry for four hours.

While the battle for Solferino was in progress General Niel’s IV Corps to the south had managed to contain the uncoordinated attacks sent in by Schwartzenberg and Schaffgotsche and was about to mount his own offensive against Cavriana. But at 11 a.m. fresh Austrian masses were arriving in form of Weigl’s 11th Corps. Fortunately MacMahone had been able to come into line on Niel’s left from where he directed the divisions of La Motterouge and Decaen to march on Solferino, positioning the cavalry of the Imperial Guard, which had been placed at his disposal, to cover his right. At the same time Canrobert sent one of Trochu’s brigades to bolster Niel’s line, holding the other brigade around Medole. Bourbaki’s division was grouped around Castel Goffredo protecting his flank from the south and southeast. [13]

Back at the centre, and after great exertions, the French finally took Solferino at around 1.00 p.m. The fighting here had been severe with houses changing hands several times as attack was followed by bloody counter attack. Five times the French Foreign Legion regiments of Castagny’s brigade (II Corps) fought their way into the San Pietro cemetery, only to be evicted by its Croatian defenders; finally the sweat soaked and blood caked Legionnaires captured the place, bayoneting the defenders in a perfect fit of madness and hatred that left more corpses above ground in the cemetery then were buried below.

The French Foreign Legion at Solferino 
(Mary Evans Picture Library)

With the capture of Solferino the French now turned their attention to the Cavriana heights. Leaving Ladmirault’s battered division to hold Solferino village, Napoleon ordered Bazaine’s division to keep after Stadion’s retiring Austrians, who had pulled back towards Pozzolengo, while Forey’s division and the Guard attacked Cavriana. At the same time MacMahone attacked Cassiano, which he gained after a brief but costly struggle, and then proceeded to assault Monte Fontana, driving back two full brigades of the Austrian 7th Corps, and bringing artillery onto the heights. It was now just after 2.00 p.m. and noticing that the Imperial Guard had not yet come into line between his corps and that of Niel’s, and also that the Austrians were preparing a counter attack, MacMahone decided that rather than pushing on he would consolidate his position. This proved to be a sound decision as the two Austrian brigades, now regrouped, came forward in a desperate attempt to regain the hill, and only with the arrival of a brigade of the Guard together with the advance of his whole corps did MacMahone manage to drive the enemy back to Cavarina.[14]

The Cavriana Ridge would also prove a tough nut to crack. Here once again the Austrians had fortified every house and barn, cramming troops into and around the village in slit trenches and behind hastily constructed stone and timber breastworks. Noting the situation Napoleon decided that before any assault by the infantry he would soften up the defenders with artillery fire, and to this end he ordered the Guard artillery to carpet the place with cannon fire. The effect on the defenders proved devastating. In the crowded conditions that prevailed in and around the village every shot and shell from the French guns, even if they did not strike the enemy directly, caused casualties from showers of stones and jagged splinters of wood that flew through the air in all directions. Walls collapsed and the roofs of buildings caved in reducing the whole village to rubble with clouds of thick dust and smoke blotting out the sun. Small wonder then that when the French infantry advanced they were met by little resistance, while the Austrians fell back in great disorder, some units even bolting back as far as the Mincio bridges.[15]

To the south Niel’s IV Corps, now supported by over forty guns, still showed a bold front despite repeated, if uncoordinated attacks, and he even attempted a forward movement himself sending troops to assault Guidizzolo; however, the village was held in considerable strength, which caused the attacking French columns to fall back on the hamlet of Baite. By 3.00 p.m. Canrobert had begun to shift his corps from its covering position on the right, moving Bourbaki’s division from around Castel Goffredo to link up with Niel’s left. The Bataille’s brigade of Trochu’s division also moved forward to attack Guidizzolo. On the Austrian side Count Wimpffen’s First Army had previously received orders from Franz Joseph to try and strike at the French centre thus taking some of the pressure off Solferino, but with the 3rd and 9th Corps fully committed to containing the Niel and Canrobert, and most of the 11th Corps, together with his cavalry division, used up in penny packets to strengthen weak points in his line. What few reserves were at hand Wimpffen pushed out from Guidizzolo in a futile attempt to meet with his master’s orders. These proved too few and too late as they were soon halted by the French Imperial Guard cavalry, which had moved to cover the ground between MacMahone’s right and Niel’s left flanks. Seeing the Austrian advance stalled, Bataille’s brigade now redoubled its attack on Guidizzolo, and although their élan forced the Austrians to give ground they still failed to capture the town.[16]

August Ludwig Ritter von Benedek 
(Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Vienna)

Away to the north Benedek had little trouble holding his position against the Piedmontese divisions of Cucchiari and Mollard, and had given them such a warm reception that by 11.00 a.m. the fighting on his front had died down. Things started to stir again at around 2.00 p.m. when Victor Emmanuel once more regrouped his divisions to assault the Austrian position. At the same time Benedek received orders from Count Schlick to make a diversionary attack against the French left, and still another request from Franz Joseph’s headquarters to send troops to help with the defence of Solferino. Noting the fact that he would in all probability have to contend with far greater pressure than had been thus far forthcoming, and seeing the deployment of the Italian forces in greater numbers, Benedek demurred on both counts of giving assistance. His judgement was soundly based on the fact that to be of any help he would have to detach at least two of his brigades, and in the face of the gathering masses on his front this depletion of strength would compromise his position as well as that of the whole Second Army should he be forced back uncovering Pozzolengo and that armies line of retreat.[17]

At 3.00 p.m. Benedek received news of the retreat of the 4th Corps from Solferino and pulled four battalions out from his main line sending them to occupy the high ground to the south and south-west of Pozzolengo, covering the his left flank and endeavouring to keep in contact with the 4th Corps. These troops had scarcely reached their destination when they were vigorously attacked by a brigade from Fanti’s 2nd Division, which had moved to support Durando’s 3rd Division now coming into action towards Madonna della Scoperta. At the same time Mollard began to advance on San Martino, while Cucchiari’s 5th Division also moved to attack San Martino from the direction of Rivoltella and San Zeno.

Fortunately for Benedek the Piedmontese failed once more to coordinate their attacks, with neither Mollard nor Cucchiari being unable to agree on whom should take overall command, and neither general bothering to ask headquarters to obtain a ruling on the matter. Also the fact that no staff officer was at hand from headquarters to settle the issue meant that both generals “did there own thing” with no synchronized effort being made, and as a result each assault was beaten back with great loss. To cap it all Cucchiari, without any consultation with Mollard, pulled his entire division back to Rivoltella, leaving the latter isolated and the artillery uncovered.[18]

Maybe Benedek should now have gone over to the offensive, but given the state of the rest of the Austrian forces, plus the fatigue of his own troops after hours of fighting under a scorching sun, then perhaps he did the correct thing in just holding his ground. After all he had given the Italian army a very bloody nose, and his own casualties were light in comparison and it does take a very daring commander to abandon a sound defensive position and go over to the attack, especially when the back door may have been left open.

When told of the withdrawal of Cucchiari’s division, Victor Emmanuel flew into a rage, ordering General Marmora, his lacklustre second in command, to mass four divisions for a final assault on San Martino stating, ‘a qualunque costa la posizione al nemico’ (‘ the position must be taken from the enemy no matter what it costs’)[19] If such a concentration of force had been properly organised then in all probability the Austrians would have been overwhelmed, as it happened Marmora detached one division for a diversionary attack on Pozzolengo, thus reducing the hitting power of his assault which resulted in yet another failure, the Piedmontese being repulsed in short order by the steady defensive fire of the Austrians. [20]

Towards 5.00 p.m. , just as the Italian divisions were recoiling from their unsuccessful assault on San Martino a great thunderstorm burst over the battlefield. Massive dark clouds had been gathering for some time, and now the heavens opened with such a downpour that all operations came to a standstill for almost an hour. This fortuitous event enabled the Austrian Second Army to continue their retirement in an orderly fashion towards the Mincio River crossings.

Wimpffen’s First Army had also begun to retire. With no support forthcoming, and his reserves long since used up, Wimpffen informed Franz Joseph that he could no longer maintain his ground. He therefore ordered the 9th Corps to fall back towards Goito, while the 3rd Corps retired by way of Cerlungo to Ferri. 11th Corp covered the retreat of the other two, eventually moving back towards Goito, and then Roverbella. The Austrian Emperor himself had still harboured the vision of counter attacking Solferino until late in the day, but upon receiving the news of the First Army’s plight he realised that any hope of saving the battle was gone. Ordering a full withdrawal behind the Mincio River, Franz Joseph instructed Schlick to place a strong retaining force between Cavriana and Volta to cover the retreat of the other corps.

The last Austrian troops to leave the battlefield were Benedek’s  8th Corps. As the rain subsided the battle on his front sprang back to life. But the Italian attacks put in by Fanti and Mollard were easily repulsed causing both divisions to fall back in some disorder towards Lake Garda. For the first time that day Benedek felt confident of doing some serious damage to the Piedmontese army, and after a successful attack which dislodged General Durando’s division from around Modonna della Scoperta he was now ready to advance his whole corps against what appeared to be a rapidly deteriorating enemy. However he now received orders from Franz Josef to fall back towards the Mincio, covering the retreat of Stadion’s and Clam-Gallas’s corps. These orders were carried out with the utmost punctuality and discipline, and it was well past midnight when, after making sure that no pursuit was forthcoming, he finally crossed over the river himself. For his part in this great battle the soldiers coined a phrase, still remembered today, “Benedek’s Glory.”

The French and Piedmontese were in no shape to follow up their victory. Battle fatigue, heat and thirsts, as well as the enormous task of dealing with the wounded dictated that no pursuit of the enemy was forthcoming, and the Austrians were able to regain their position on the left bank of the Mincio River, from where, on the 25th June, they continued their retreat to the Adige.

Clearing the dead.
(Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Vienna)

Losses had been substantial on both sides. The French and Peidmontese together suffering over 17,000 killed, wounded and missing, and the Austrians over 20,000. General officer casualties were also high with the French having five wounded, the Italians two, and the Austrians four. Regimental and battalion officers were also badly hit, the French losing 117 killed and 644 wounded, the Austrians over 600, and the Italians a similar number. The whole countryside for miles around the battlefield was littered with the dead and wounded, of which many of the latter soon succumbed to their wounds owing to the appalling lack of care which, as mentioned in the introduction, caused Henri Dunant to form the Red Cross in an attempt to alleviate the suffering of the wounded.  [21]

Not having achieved the crushing victory he had hoped for, and threatened by Prussian mobilization, Napoleon III decided to put an end to hostilities as quickly as possible. Therefore, without consulting Victor Emmanuel, on the 11th July 1859 the French and Austrian emperors concluded the Treaty of Villafranca in which Austria ceded Lombardy over to the French, who then turned it over to Victor Emmanuel, while Tuscany and Modena were restored to their former dukes. None of this went down well with the Italians, who considered themselves betrayed, and the animosity would continue to affect the relationship between France and Italy until the end of the Second Empire in 1870.

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[1] Sociéta Solferino e San Martino, pamphlet, San Martino della Battaglia Museum.

[2] Meglegnano website.

[3] Wylly. H.C, The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino 1859, page 133-134

[4] Turnbull. Patrick, Solferino: The Birth of a Nation, page 124

[5] Wylly. H.C., The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino 1859, page 131- 132.

[6] Wylly. H.C. , The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino 1859, page 141

[7] Wylly. H.C., The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino 1859, page 142.

[8] Wylly. H.C., The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino 1859, page 144.

[9] Ibid, page 144

* From a poem written in his honour in 1849

[10] Wylly. H.C., The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino 1859, page 146

[11] Turnbull. Patrick, Solferino: The Birth of a Nation, page 135

[12] Dunant. Henri, A Memory of Solferino, page 9

[13] Wylly. H.C. The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino, page 147-148

[14] Wylly. H.C, The Campaign of Magenta and Solferino 1859, page 148

[15] Turnbull. Patrick, Solferino: The Birth of a Nation, page 139

[16] Wylly. H.C, The Campaign of Magenta and Solferion 1859, page 149

[17]  Ibid, page 150

[18] Turnbull. Patrick, Solferino: The Birth of a Nation, page 142

[19] Quoted in, Turnbull. Patrick, Solferino: The Birth of a Nation, page 144

[20] Ibid, page 144

[21] Although having the greatest respect for what he achieved, I feel that when reading Dunant’s account of the battle in, ‘A Memory of Solferino,’ one should treat his narrative with care. A lone civilian out at the battlefront could not have witnessed his descriptions of the close-up fighting, and even if he did manage to attach himself to one of the corps or divisional staffs he could still not have been everywhere or seen everything he describes. Being in the town of Castiglione della Pieva while the battle was being fought probably enabled him to interview officers and men returning from the front, and the plight of the wounded, as well as the state of the battlefield over the following days most certainly had a dramatic effect upon him personally.



Copyright © 2004  Graham Morris. 
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