George Macaulay Trevelyan.

Garibaldi and the making of Italy. June-November, 1860; online

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real regiment out of apparently unpromising material.
Aided by Wyndham, an Englishman, formerly of the
Austrian army, by a dozen civilians just come from Great
Britain and Ireland for love of Garibaldi, and some ex-
sergeants of the Piedmontese army, he soon manufactured
a force of 600 young Sicilians whom the Dictator could
have ill spared in the coming battle.^

Whatever his political errors. Garibaldi had a firm
hold of the military situation, and did not waste a day.
On June 20, twenty-four hours after the departure of the
last Neapolitan troops, and while Medici's men were still
arriving in Palermo, a column under Turr started for the
centre of the island with orders to march by way of
Caltanisetta to Catania on the eastern sea. The force,
when it left the capital, numbered little more than 500
men, consisting chiefly of members of the original
Thousand, together with a small company of foreign
deserters from the Bourbon army, and a dozen Sicilian
gentlemen. This ' brigade,' as it was called, was the
more formidable in report because of two obsolete cannon
retrieved from the ignominious position of posts in the
streets of Palermo, remounted and dragged across the
island as ' artillery '. The foreign company had good
Enfield rifles, but the majority of the force, the remnant
of the Thousand, still had their old bad muskets. Am-
munition was procured on the way in the sulphur district
of Caltanisetta.

Being the first column to leave Palermo for the front,

' Dunne MSS., Scelzi's letter, etc. Conv, Patterson. Conv. Dolmagc.
Dumas, 120-121. Crispi, 1911, p. 168.



Tiirr's ' brigade ' created great interest. It was accom-
panied by some of the best war-correspondents in Europe,
and by Alexandre Dumas with a female midshipman in
tow. The vain, good-natured, luxurious giant, liked by
some, disliked by others, and laughed at by all of his
companions on the march, left them half-way and re-
turned to head-quarters at Palermo. The expedition,
though romantic and picturesque, was uneventful. At
Misilmeri the population, which had shown fierce en-
thusiasm and sent its squadre for the attack on Palermo
when Garibaldi passed that way three weeks before,
was found to be sullenly hostile because of the edict of
conscription. When they learnt that it was to be in-
operative, they recovered their cheerfulness, and enjoyed
the eloquence of Garibaldi's friar. Father Pantaleo,^ —
which produced two volunteer recruits. Here Tiirr
fell dangerously ill and was forced to return to the con-
tinent for a few weeks to recover his health. The com-
mand of the column devolved on his fellow-Hungarian
Eber, who did not on that account give over his functions
as Times correspondent. Eber was a reserved and quiet
gentleman, known and respected in the English Lake
district, where he had passed many years of exile, and in
the best London society. He had neither Turr's military
experience and vigour nor his popularity with the troops,
but he had an easy part to play and fell into no capital
errors. Passing through the heart of the island by Enna
and the rock citadel of Castrogiovanni, which commands
the finest view in Sicily, Eber and his men skirted Aetna
on the South and entered Catania unopposed on July 15.
After Misilmeri they had been well received, in most
places with real enthusiasm, and they had put down
some incipient brigandage ; but they did not pick up
many recruits in the course of their march from sea to

iSee Garibaldi and the Thousand, pp. 249-250, 268.

"See Map IV, below. Titrr's Div.yg-102. Zasio, 66-6y. Adamoli, 104-131.
Abba Not. 160-190. Brancaccio, 261-276. Tiirr's Risposta, 13. Dumas, 142-

The red-shirt friar of Sicily.


On June 25, less than a week after the departure of
Tiirr's and Eber's column, Bixio left the capital with
another ' brigade ' of about 1200 men, consisting partly
of Sicilians and partly of Northerners under Caldesi, who
had come out in Medici's expedition.^ Passing through
Piana dei Greci, where he enlisted sixty of the warlike
Albanians, through Corleone and by the temples of
Girgenti, Bixio reached the southern coast, sailed along
it from Licata to Terranova, and marched thence straight
across country to Catania, where he joined Eber's column
in the latter half of July.^

Meanwhile, as will be recounted in the next chapter,
Medici with a far better organised, better armed, and
better disciplined force was moving along the north
coast towards Milazzo. This Northern detachment
could be most quickly supported by Garibaldi himself
with the reserves which he was busily forming in
Palermo. The columns of Eber in the centre and of
Bixio in the South were to a large extent stage armies,
not therefore the less effective in paralyzing the Bourbon
generals at Messina. Garibaldi justly relied on the in-
activity of those veteran warriors, or else he would not
have sent two weak columns to roam at large through
the island, and finally to unite at Catania, not far from
Messina, where lay fifteen to twenty thousand Bourbon
troops. Judged by the rules of ordinary war, the division
of the Dictator's slender forces into three appears an
absurd error. But under the actual conditions he was
justified in making the division, because, while the force
with which he intended to strike home on the north
coast was immensely the strongest and proved sufficient

182. Morning Post and Times, July, i86o (passim). Notes and Memories,
James Cropper, for Eber in England, and Atkins^ Life of W. H. Russell, i. 167-
168, for Eber in the Crimea. Conv. Dolmage (Mr. Dolmage was with the column ;
he does not think they got nearly as many as 1000 recruits during the march to
Catania, as stated by Adamoli, 107).

^ Medici (Pasini), 17.

'See Map IV, below. Tiirr's Div. 81, 94, 97, 103. Bixio, 209. Menghini,



for its purpose, the other two flying columns served to
alarm the Bourbon generals and to render them less
willing to advance from Messina and attack his real force
in front of Milazzo with the requisite vigour.^ But the
chief purpose of the columns of Eber and Bixio was not
military but political. They established the authority of
the Dictator in three-quarters of the island, they nipped
in the bud the beginning of anarchy and brigandagej they
obtained several thousand recruits, mostly after their
arrival on the east coast, ^ and they set up before Europe
the claim of Garibaldi to the real possession of the

But that claim had still to be made good in the battle
of Milazzo.

^ The presence of Eber on the east coast was not the only reason why
Clary did not send more troops to Milazzo, but it was one of the reasons. See
p. 93 below.

* Adamoli, 125, 133.

3 Cf. Medici (Pasini), 15-16, and Turr's Div, 103, to Cuniberti, 94-95.



' Who is the happy warrior ? Who is he
Whom every man in arms should wish to be ?
— It is the generous spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his childish thought :
Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That make the path before him always bright.

Whose powers shed round him in the common strife

Or mild concerns of ordinary life

A constant influence, a peculiar grace ;

But who, if he be call'd upon to face

Some awful moment to which heaven has join'd

Great issues, good or bad for human kind,

Is happy as a lover ; and attired

With sudden brightness, like a man inspired ;

And through the heat of conflict, keeps the law

In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw.'


By June 19 Palermo and most of the other garrison
towns in Sicily had been completely evacuated, but
there still remained 18,000 effective Bourbon troops in
Messina, 2000 in Syracuse, over 1000 in Milazzo, and 500
in Augusta.^ On the mainland were some 80,000 more,
of whom large numbers could be shipped to the island
from Naples in a few hours. In these circumstances two
rational courses were open to the Royalists. Either
a vigorous counter-attack might be made, first on the
columns which Garibaldi was sending out from Palermo,
and then upon that city itself, before the three thousand
North-Italian volunteers had grown to ten, fifteen, and

^ Nove Mesi, 2. Palmieri, 38-48. Of the 18,000 in Messina, 3000 or more
were sent under Bosco to Milazzo on July 14.



twenty thousand. Or else the opposite course might be
chosen, a course less ambitious indeed but more consis-
tent with the grant of the Constitution and the new diplo-
matic attitude adopted towards France, England, and
Piedmont : Sicily might be written off as lost, and the
troops in it confined to garrison work within the sea-
fortresses of Messina, Syracuse, Milazzo, and Augusta.
These places, if supplied and assisted by the fleet, could
not be taken by the means at Garibaldi's disposal.
Further fighting would thus be avoided in the island, and
a claim would thereby be established on the good offices
of England and France. The sea powers, pleased at such
moderation in the Court of Naples, might not improbably
use their fleets to stop Garibaldi at the Straits of Messina.
With or without such aid, the military defence of the
new constitutional kingdom could be reorganized on the
Calabrian shore of the Straits, with the citadel of Messina
as a hostage effectively held on the enemy's ground.^

If logically executed, either the offensive or the de-
fensive plan had a good chance of success, but since they
were mutually inconsistent, a clear choice had to be made
between the two systems. Any compromise between
them might easily lead to disaster.

The offensive system was favoured by General Clary
in command at Messina and by most of his subordinate
officers, by the King at Naples, and by those of his ad-
visers who were still reactionary at heart. But the new
Liberal Ministry, and above all the new War Minister,
General Pianell, wished to suspend operations in Sicily
and organize a diplomatic and military defence behind the
Straits. The Ministers had good reason to deprecate
further hostilities, for while a victory of Garibaldi would
overthrow the dynasty, a defeat of Garibaldi would over-
throw the Constitution, and their own position depended
on the maintenance of dynasty and Constitution together.

While the Ministers remained inactive and sought the

' Pianell, i2, gives a clear statement of this defensive plan by its principal


ways of peace, neither the King at Naples nor the General
at Messina had the nerve to wage a vigorous offensive
war in their despite. But the reactionary party was not
entirely without influence on events in June and July.
It had sufficient power in Court and camp to sow distrust
between the Ministers and the Crown, and to initiate in
Sicily a feeble and partial offensive movement under
Colonel Bosco, of which Garibaldi took advantage to
escape the danger of an armistice, to win the battle of
Milazzo, and thereby to create the panic among the
Bourbon troops on the Straits which enabled him to
march almost unresisted to Naples. Such, in brief, is the
significance of the events narrated in this chapter.

General Clary had distinguished himself on May 31
in suppressing an attempt of some local squadre to occupy
Catania. When, immediately after this little victory, he
was ordered to abandon Catania and retire to head-
quarters at Messina, he obeyed under protest. As one
of the very tew Generals who had shown any spirit
during the operations in May, Clary was in June pro-
moted Marshal, and placed in command of the Royal
forces at Messina. A strong reactionary, he at once drew
up schemes for the reconquest first of Catania and then
of Palermo, and applied to Naples for approval. On
June 25 King Francis sent him orders to take the offen-
sive in accordance with his own proposals. But the new
Marshal, on whose brave words the reactionaries had for
some weeks been building their hopes, proved after all
to be of much the same calibre as the other Generals.
For as soon as he was ordered to advance, the tone of
Clary's reports changed wonderfully ; he began to write
of the unfitness and unwillingness of his troops, of the
necessity of remaining on the defensive, of the proba-
bility that if he left Messina with a part of his force,
Garibaldi would slip in behind his back, as he had slipped
into Palermo behind the back of Von Mechel. But again,
as soon as the Ministry countermanded the advance and


bade him remain on the defensive, Clary recovered his
courage and complained bitterly that such orders damped
the spirits of his men/

Meanwhile King Francis was consulting his Generals
and Ministers at Naples on a proposal to send strong
reinforcements from the mainland to reconquer Sicily.
In a council held on July 13 the Ministers opposed it,
giving their voices in favour of armistice and diplomatic
action, and their arguments were supported by Generals
Nunziante and Pianell, the two best soldiers in the ser-
vice since Filangieri's retirement.^ The plan was there-
fore abandoned, and next day Pianell, in an evil hour for
his own reputation and peace of mind, was induced to
become Minister of War. An honest, cultivated, and
high-minded man, true to the dynasty and to the Consti-
tution, he failed to see that the one could now be saved
only at the expense of the other. He was fully persuaded
that Sicily could not be reconquered — perhaps he did
not dare to ask himself whether he wished it to be re-
conquered. He maintained that the island had been lost
because of the demoralised condition of the army, and
that it would be his chief duty as War Minister, while
passively defending the Straits, to revive the discipline
and military spirit of the Royal forces. A critic might
have urged that the only way to revive their spirit would
be to discard tricolour and Constitution, and bid them
march forward under the white flag of the Bourbons,
with the King in their midst, as was afterwards done
with some success at Capua a few months too late. No
troops could feel enthusiasm for the Constitution and at
the same time fight loyally against the man who was the
cause of the Constitution's existence.

But whatever Pianell's plan was worth, it never had
a fair trial, for on July 14 Marshal Clary sent Colonel
Bosco with 300Q picked troops along the north coast

^Cronaca, 170-171, 175, 182-186 (June 19-22, 25), Clary's messages of June
27-28, 30, July 4, 6, 9, 13. Franci, L 60-63. De C. ii. 360-362.
^Pianell, 12-13, 179. Liborio Romano, 35.


from Messina, with orders to occupy the open country
between Milazzo and Barcellona. This half-hearted
measure, taken without the knowledge of Pianell, had all
the faults and none of the merits of the defensive plan
decreed by the Ministers, and of the offensive desired by
the King.^

Bosco was the fighting man of the army,'"* and the
news that he had been sent into the open field with a
force of his own was regarded by every one as a bid for
the reconquest of Sicily. Yet the actual orders given by
Clary to the Colonel on the day before he left Messina
reflect the divided counsels of the Royalist camp. In
this document Bosco is reminded that the Ministry has
forbidden any fresh attack to be made ; he must therefore
leave it to the enemy to begin the fighting, but when
attacked himself he has the right to make a counter-attack
and dislodge the Garibaldini from their positions ; the
object of the expedition is defined as being to guard the
threatened garrison of Milazzo from a blockade — though
in fact this end could have been far more simply effected
by the use of the fleet ; for this purpose Clary advises
Bosco to occupy Archi and certain other places some
miles outside Milazzo ; he is not to proceed farther west-
ward than Barcellona, even if victorious, but is to await
orders there.^ These instructions, which might be inter-
preted in many different ways, when thus placed in the
hands of a spirited officer, were certain to lead to a pitched
battle, for when Bosco left Messina, Medici, in command
of 2000 Garibaldini, had already for a week made Barcel-
lona his head-quarters, and had been scouting with his
friends on the mountains that tower above the plain of

Giacomo Medici, who had held the Vascello for four

' Pianell, 12-18, 23, 180. Cronaca, 189. Nove Mesi, 10-13. Libono Rom-
ano, 35.

' Garibaldi and the Thousand, pp. 315-31S.

* Palmieri, 47-50, doc. i, or Nove Mesi, 10-13.

* Peard's Journal MS. July 7-14.


weeks against the French army on the Janiculum/ was
the friendly rival of Bixio for the first place among
Garibaldi's lieutenants. To him the General had en-
trusted the leadership of the most important of the three
columns now advancing through the island on Messina,
that one which was to keep the north coast and be sup-
ported in case of need by Garibaldi himself and the
reserves from Palermo. Medici left the capital with
1800 of the well-armed volunteers whom he had brought
from North Italy, Simonetta's Lombards and Malenchini's
Tuscans.^ The General's orders were that he should
occupy Castroreale {see Map II at end of book), a strong
position in the mountains above Barcellona, and there
await orders. But when he found the coast towns en-
thusiastic in the national cause, when he was joined by
several hundred local volunteers and bands from eastern
Sicily, he felt unwilling to retire into the mountains on
Bosco's approach, leaving his hosts at Barcellona to the
Bourbon vengeance. Such a retreat would inflict a
wound on the growing prestige of the Garibaldian armies,
which stood to them in the place of cavalry, artillery, and
big battalions. In order, therefore, to protect Barcellona,
Medici moved his head-quarters to Meri and there awaited
the enemy's attack, drawn up behind the broad fiumara,
or torrent bed of white stones, that passes in front of the
village on its way from the neighbouring mountain gorge
to the sea.^ {See henceforth Map I p. %\ below.)

On July 15 Bosco and his three thousand approached
by the high road from Messina to within a short distance
of the fiumara, where Medici's men lay eagerly awaiting
them ; the Royalists, however, wheeled off sharply to the
right, and marched across the plain to Milazzo.* It is
possible that Bosco declined battle on account of his

1 Garibaldi's Defence of Rome, 199-200.

* The remaining 700 of those whom Medici had brought to Sicily, namely
Caldesi's battalion, had gone south in Bixio's column. Medici (Pasini), 17-18.

2 Medici (Pasini), 17-19. Peard's Journal MS. July 7-15.
*Peard, 819 (or Journal MS.), July, 15. Medici (Pasini), 19.

l.;iACOMii MKUU I. ibuo.


instructions from Clary not to initiate hostilities. On
his arrival in the town, beneath the precipice on which
the mediaeval fortress is perched, the inhabitants fled for
refuge into the thick olive groves that cover the hills of
the peninsula beyond, where they remained hidden dur-
ing the events of the following week.^ Bosco and his
army occupied the deserted town and put themselves
into communication with the garrison on the castled
rock overhead.

Medici, encouraged by Bosco's refusal of battle, sent
out detachments across the fiumara of Meri to occupy
Coriolo and Archi, hamlets sheltered among the olives
of the last foot-hills that overlook the plain of Milazzo.
Now one part of Bosco's instructions had been to occupy
Archi, and therefore, in spite of that other part of his
orders which forbade him to be the first to attack, he felt
justified in recapturing Archi now that a Garibaldian
outpost had occupied it and thereby cut off his connection
with Messina. He had passed through the village on
the 15th on his way to Milazzo, but had neglected to
leave any guard behind. And so, early in the morning
of July 17, he sent back across the plain four companies,'
with cavalry and artillery, under Major Maringh, with
orders to retake Archi. The hamlet and surrounding
hills were defended by 300 Lombards under Simonetta
and about seventy Sicilians. Maringh skirmished for
some time, used his cavalry well, captured a score of
prisoners, and then unaccountably returned to Milazzo.
Bosco placed him under arrest and sent out in the after-
noon six companies under Lieutenant-Colonel Marra,
who assailed Coriolo, and brought their artillery into

^ Forbice, July 23 and 24, i860, letters from seat of war. Zirilli, 18-22,
35-42, docs. 2-5. Piaggia, 54-55. In view of these documents it is clear that
the charges against the inhabitants of Milazzo of sympathizing with the Bour-
bon troops were mainly false. But the Milazzesi were not as helpful to the
Garibaldini as the people of Barcellona.

* A company in the Neapolitan army was supposed to be 160 men ; a bat-
talion was about 1000 men, and Bosco had three battalions of infantry. Dt
Sivo, iii. 121 -122.


action. Medici sent up more men from Meri, includ-
ing Malenchini's Tuscans, and fierce fighting took place
in the street of Coriolo and along the fiumara above
which it stands. The street was taken by the Bourbon
troops and retaken at the point of the bayonet. Marra's
men tried to turn Medici's flank by penetrating up into
the mountains towards Sta. Lucia, but they were headed
off near S. Filippo, At the end of an arduous day
Coriolo remained in Medici's hands, and Archi in those
of the Royalists. But at midnight Bosco, who had come
out when the fighting was over to review the situation,
ordered a retreat to the town. He had been persuaded
that Medici had 7000 men, whereas in reality he had
scarcely more than 2000 all told.^

Although Bosco's deserved reputation for courage
saved him from wholly losing the confidence of his men,
his conduct on this day had been neither spirited nor
wise. He should have come earlier to direct the action
himself, and he should not have sent out such small
detachments if he seriously intended to occupy the slopes
of the mountains, and so debar the further advance of
the Garibaldini along the north coast. He had allowed
Medici to out-manoeuvre him, to drive him down off the
hills, to get between him and Messina, and to lock him
into the plain of Milazzo with his back to the sea. The
Garibaldini were elated at their success, and rejoiced over
an intercepted letter of Bosco's to Clary, written in the
usual querulous style of Neapolitan despatches : ' Maringh
basely betrayed me. I have him under lock and key.
I can't do more. I am left to do everything, everything,
everything {tutto^ tutto, tutto). The officers are so many
nullities.' But if he were reinforced from Messina either

' Cronaca, 193-196, 200, 218-219, Nove Mesi, 13-15, 20-22, Palmieri, 30-40,
50-51, docs. 2-3, and De Sivo, iii. 310-311, contain Bosco's reports and other
matter on the Neapolitan side. Medici (Pasmi), 20; Piaggia, 21-29; Mistrali's
da N. 611-61^ (identical with A/a«t^w«Ma, 382-386) ; Times, August 4, p. 10,
cols. 1-2; Conv. Cadolini ; Da Forio 619-620; Fonvielle, 110-119; Forbice,
July 23, letters of July 17-18 ; Veritas, 32-36 ; Pozzi, 22 ; Menghini, 180, 196-199 ;
Peard, 820 ; Milazxo (G.B.Z.) 8, 9; Pungolo, Milano, July 27, letter of July 19-


by sea or by land, he boasted that he would enter Palermo
*on Medici's horse,' ^ Those of his dispatches which
reached Messina, being signalled by semaphore, were
conceived in the same tone of complaint against his sub-
ordinates, and demanded fresh men and fresh officers,
although in fact he had in the cacciatori the best regiments
of the army.^ The feeling of the 15,000 officers and men
left idle in Messina was that they ought at once to be led
to the rescue of the gallant Bosco, who was far more
popular than Clary. But the Marshal, who had already
quarrelled with his subordinates at Messina as well as
with Bosco himself, sent him, not the reinforcements
which he demanded, but a Captain Fonsecca to make
excuses and to explain that there were not enough horses,
carts, or ships to carry an army by sea or by land to
Milazzo.^ Clary's inactivity was in part due to the
telegrams which he received from the Minister of War
ordering him to remain on the defensive, and denouncing
Bosco in the strongest language for having resumed

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