Monday, November 3, 2014

This Week in History

November 3-4, 1867
Triumph of the "Vampire of Italy" 
Light to the Nations, Part II: The Making of the Modern World (Textbook)

The following comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern WorldFor ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.
The pope's army was very small -- no more than four thousand men. It was only this small force that stood between him and the tens of thousands Italy could gather for an army of conquest. The treaty with Napoleon III, Pope Pius IX thought, would not restrain King Vittorio Emanuele....

King Vittorio Emanuele II
... King Vittorio Emanuele II's prime minister, Urbano Rattazzi, had told Garibaldi to go forward with plans for the conquest of Rome. Though the Italian government was still pledged to defend the papal state against any invader, Garibaldi went openly through Italy gathering recruits. And though the Italian government said it knew nothing about what Garibaldi was up to, the old warrior received supplies from the government and transported his army on trains openly provided by the railroad of the kingdom of Italy.

At last, on September 29, 1867, Garibaldi, leading 10,000 to 12,000 Redshirts, invaded the Papal States. Garibaldi's forces quickly overran the first villages they came to. Though these villages were protected only by small bands of papal police, Garibaldi treated his battles as great victories and sent out a proclamation, calling on the Roman people to rise up against the government. But a surprised Garibaldi soon learned that very few of the pope's people were willing to rise up against that "vampire" and "tyrant," as Garibaldi called the pope. The Roman people, in fact, were cold to Garibaldi and his army. The only response Garibaldi received to his call for revolution was a series of bombs set off by insurgents in Rome on October 22, including the blowing up of the Serristori barracks of the Papal Zouaves in Rome by two Roman citizens. The barracks at the time held only 27 Zouaves. These were members of the Zouave military band, all of whom (including some boys) were killed.
A papal Zouave

When "news" of the invasion reached the Italian government, it sent an army of 40,000 to the frontier of the Papal States. The Italian army, however, did not try to stop Garibaldi, nor did it invade. Its purpose was not clear. But some thought it would seize the Papal States after Garibaldi took Rome and claim them for King Vittorio Emanuele -- just as Cavour had done with Naples in 1860. But Garibaldi received his first check when six thousand of his Redshirts attacked several hundred members of the Legion of Antibes at the fortified town of Monte Rotondo, about 17 miles northeast of Rome. Greatly outnumbered, the hard-fighting French legionaries held off the Redshirts for 27 hours but at last were forced to retreat. The Redshirts moved in and ransacked the town, plundered and defiled the church, and terrorized the people. So great was the destruction in Monte Rotondo that Garibaldi himself rebuked his men with the sternest words. But it was no use; the "Liberator of Italy" could not control the many desperate men (bandits and other criminals) who served in his army.

Giuseppe Garibaldi
Though a victory for Garibaldi, the Battle of Monte Rotondo benefited the papal army. The legionaries had so badly bruised the Redshirts that Garibaldi hesitated several days before making his final push against Rome. In the meantime, about two thousand French troops had arrived at the papal port of Civitavecchia and joined General Kanzler's papal forces in Rome. (When it learned of Garibaldi's invasion, the French government had forced Napoleon III to send a force to Rome to aid the pope.) By November 2, Kanzler had an effective force of 5,000 men: 1,500 Papal Zouaves, another 1,500 Papal regulars, and 2,000 French troops under Baron de Polhès. With these forces, Kanzler planned to march against the enemy's army of about 10,000 men.

The sun had not yet risen on November 3, 1867, when Kanzler, Polhès, and their five thousand men marched out from Rome. They were moving against Monte Rotondo, a six hours' march away. Their road, the ancient Roman Via Nomentana, passed through rugged, hilly country dotted with vineyards and orchards. Along the road, between the papal army and Monte Rotondo, lay the hilltop town of Mentana, where the Redshirts had their first outposts and where Garibaldi himself was in command. 

Map of the Battle of Mentana
Battle was joined about 1 p.m., when the Zouaves under the command of Lt. Col. Chaumette stormed a hillside position beside the Via Nomentana and forced the Redshirts to withdraw behind the walls of a farm called Vigna Santucci. Though the farm was a strong position, Chaumette and the Zouaves were determined to take it. But it was a hard fight, and after a while Chaumette saw his men wavering. "Forward, my Zouaves! Charge with the bayonet!" he cried; and, seeing the French in reserve, he added, "and remember, the French army is looking on!" Their courage rekindled, the Zouaves cried, "Long live Pius IX!" and drove the enemy from Vigna Santucci. Seeing the impetuous Zouaves pursuing the retreating Redshirts, General Kanzler ordered his entire army forward, including the French reserve. By nightfall, the enemy had taken refuge within the walls of Mentana castle while the papal army encamped below them, waiting only for morning to renew the battle.

But the next morning brought no battle. That night, Garibaldi had abandoned his men in Mentana and fled to Monte Rotondo; from there, he and what remained of his army escaped across the border. Discovering Garibaldi's flight, the Italian army withdrew from the border. By late morning of November 4, it was clear that the invasion had ended. The Papal States had been saved for the pope.

Pope Pius IX
Those Redshirts in Mentana who surrendered that morning of November 4, 1867, doubtless feared revenge from the papal army. What they discovered to their surprise was field hospitals set up to tend not only the wounded of the papal troops, but the wounded of the enemy as well. The Redshirts received not revenge, but mercy. More surprised were the wounded Redshirts taken to the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, when one day they received an unexpected visitor -- the pope himself. "Behold me, my friends!" said Pius. "You see before you the 'Vampire of Italy,' of whom your general has spoken. What! All of you have taken up arms against me, and you find only a poor old man." Pius promised to send each one, with clothing and shoes, back to his home, but only on one condition -- that "you will make a spiritual retreat for my sake. It is the pope who asks this of you," he said.

In the coming days and weeks, Pope Pius extended a general amnesty to all who had taken part in the invasion. Only the two men who had destroyed the Zouave barracks were held for trial. After a year, both were condemned and executed -- a deed for which the Italian government and Liberal opinion throughout Europe criticized the pope.

King Vittorio Emanuele's government might well complain, but not about the execution, for it had lost a golden opportunity to make Rome the capital of Italy. Not only had the invasion failed, but in France, citizens were demanding that the French army remain in Rome to guard the pope. On December 4, 1867, the French Legislative Body commanded Napoleon III to send more troops to Rome, and the emperor complied.

Thus, by the beginning of 1868, French troops were again stationed in Rome, protecting the pope. Besides the French army, volunteers from France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, and Canada came to Rome to join the pope's volunteer forces. It thus appeared that, with such an army at his disposal, the pope's kingdom would remain secure for years to come.

Music from a Little Known Composer 
The German composer, Hermann Goetz, composed this Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 18, in 1867 -- the year of the Battle of Mentana.

H. GOETZ - Piano Concerto n. 2 in B Flat Major op. 18. P. Baumgartner, piano

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