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MANFREDO FANTI (1806-1865)

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Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 171 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MANFREDO FANTI (1806-1865), Italian general, was born at Carpi and educated at the military college of Modena. In 1831 he was implicated in the revolutionary movement organized by Ciro Menotti (see Fn NCIs IV., of Modena), and was condemned to death and hanged in effigy, but escaped to France, where he was given an appointment in the French corps of engineers. In 1833 he took part in Mazzini's abortive attempt to invade Savoy, and in 1835 he went to Spain to serve in Queen Christina's army against the Carlists. There he remained fo+' thirteen years, distinguishing himself in battle and rising to a high staff appointment. But on the outbreak of the war between Piedmont and Austria in 1848 he hurried back to Italy, and although at first his services were rejected both by the Piedmontese government and the Lombard provisional government, he was afterwards given the command of a Lombard brigade. In the general confusion following on Charles Albert's defeat on the Mincio and his retreat to Milan, where the people rose against the unhappy king, Fanti's courage and tact saved the situation. He was elected member of the Piedmontese chamber in 1849, and on the renewal of the campaign he again commanded a Lombard brigade under General Ramorino. After the Piedmontese defeat at Novara (23rd of March) peace was made, but a rising broke out at Genoa, and Fanti with great difficulty restrained his Lombards from taking part in it. But he was suspected as a Mazzinian and a soldier of fortune by the higher Piedmontese officers, and they insisted on his being court-martialled for his operations under Ramorino (who had been tried and shot). Although honourably acquitted, he was not employed again until the Crimean expedition of 1855. In the second Austrian war in 1859 Fanti commanded the and division, and contributed to the victories of Palestro, Magenta and San Martino. After the peace of Villafranca he was sent to organize the army of the Central Italian League (composed of the pro-visional governments of Tuscany, Modena, Parma and Romagna), and converted it in a few months into a well-drilled body of 45,000 men, whose function was to be ready to intervene in the papal states on the outbreak of a revolution. He showed statesmanlike qualities in steering a clear course between the exaggerated prudence of Baron Ricasoli, who wished to recall the troops from the frontier, and the impetuosity of Garibaldi, his second-in-command, who was anxious to invade Romagna prematurely, even at the risk of Austrian intervention. Fanti's firmness led to Garibaldi's resignation. In January 186o Fanti became minister of war and marine under Cavour, and incorporated the League's army in that of Piedmont. In the meanwhile Garibaldi had invaded Sicily with his Thousand, and King Victor Emmanuel decided at last that he too must intervene; Fanti was given the chief command of a strong Italian force which invaded the papal states, seized Ancona and other fortresses, and defeated the papal army at Castelfidardo, where the enemy's commander, General Lamoriciere, was captured. In three weeks Fanti had conquered the Marche and Umbria and taken 28,000 prisoners. When the army entered Neapolitan territory the king took the chief command, with Fanti as chief of the staff. After defeating a large Neapolitan force at Mola and organizing the siege operations round Gaeta, Fanti returned to the war office at Turin to carry out important army reforms. His attitude in opposing the admission of Garibaldi's 7000 officers into the regular army with their own grades made him the object of great unpopularity for a time, and led to a severe reprimand from Cavour. On the death of the latter (7th of June 1861) he resigned office and took command of the VII. army corps. But his health had now broken down, and after four years' suffering he died in Florence on the 5th of April 1865. His lose was greatly felt in the war of 1866. See Carandini, Vita di M. Fanti (Verona, 1872); A. Di Giorgio, Il Generale M. Fanti (Florence, 1906). (L.V.*)
End of Article: MANFREDO FANTI (1806-1865)
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