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THE CAMPAIGN OF

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Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 920 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THE CAMPAIGN OF 1866 In the seven years that elapsed between Solferino and the second battle of Custozza the political unification of Italy had proceeded rapidly, although the price of the union of Italy had been the cession of Savoy and Nice to Napoleon III. Garibaldi's irregulars had in 186o overrun Sicily, and regular battles, inspired by the same great leader, had destroyed the kingdom of Naples on the mainland (Volturno, 1st-2nd October 186o). At Castelfidardo near Ancona on the 18th of September in the same year Cialdini won another victory over the Papal troops commanded by Lamoriciere. In 1866, then, Italy was no longer a " geographical expression," but a recognized kingdom. Only Rome and Venetia remained of the numerous, disunited and reactionary states set up by the congress of Vienna. The former, still held by a French garrison, was for the moment an unattainable aim of the liberators, but the moment for reclaiming Venetia, the last relic of the Austrian dominions in Italy, came when Austria and Prussia in the spring of 1866 prepared to fight for the hegemony of the future united Germany (see SEVEN WEEKS' WAR). The new Italian army, formed on the nucleus of the Sardinian army and led by veterans of Novara and Solferino, was as strong as the whole allied army of 18J9, but in absorbing so many recruits it had temporarily lost much of its efficiency. It was organized in four corps, of which one, under Cialdini, was detached from the main body. Garibaldi, as before, commanded a semi- regular corps in the Alpine valleys, but being steadily and skilfully opposed by Kuhn, Gyulai's former chief of staff, he made little or no progress during the brief campaign, on which indeed his operations had no influence. The main Austrian army, still the best-trained part of the emperor's forces, had been, up to the verge of the war, commanded by Benedek, but Benedek was induced to give up his place to the archduke Albert, and to take up the far harder task of commanding against the Prussians in Bohemia. It was in fact a practically foregone conclusion that in Italy the Austrians would win, whereas in Bohemia it was more than feared that the Prussians would carry all before them. But Prussia and Italy were allied, and whatever the result of a battle in Venetia; that province would have to be ceded in the negotiations for peace with a victorious Prussia. Thus on the Austrian side the war of 1866 in Italy was, even more than the former war, simply an armed protest against the march of events. The part of Hess in the campaign of Solferino was played with more success in that of Custozza by Major-General Franz, Freiherr von John (2815–1876). On this officer's advice the Austrian army, instead of remaining behind the Adige, crossed that river on the 23rd of June and took up a position on the hills around Pastrengo on the flank of the presumed advance of Victor Emmanuel's army. The latter, crossing the Mincio the same lay, headed by Villafranca for Verona, part of it in the hills about Custozza, Somma-Campagna and Castelnuovo, partly on the plain. The object of the king and of La Marmora, who was his adviser, was by advancing on Verona to occupy the Austrian army (which was only about 8o,000 strong as against the king's 120,000), while Cialdini's corps from the Ferrara region crossed the lower Po and operated against the Austrian rear. The archduke's staff, believing that the enemy was making for the lower Adige in order to co-operate directly with Cialdini's detachment, issued orders for the advance on the 24th so as to reach the southern edge of the hilly country, preparatory to descending upon the flank of the Italians next day. However, the latter were nearer than was supposed, and an encounter-battle promptly began for the possession of Somma-Campagna and Custozza. The king's army was unable to use its superior numbers and, brigade for brigade, was much inferior to its opponents. The columns on the right, attempting in succession to debouch from Villafranca in the direction of Verona, were checked by two improvised cavalry brigades under Colonel Pulz, which charged repeatedly, with the old-fashioned cavalry spirit that Europe had almost forgotten, and broke up one battalion after another. In the centre the leading brigades fought in vain for the possession of Custozza and the edge of the plateau, and on the left the divisions that had turned north-ward from Valeggio into the hills were also met and defeated. About 5 P.M. the Italians, checked and in great disorder, retreated over the Mincio. The losses were—Austrians, 4600 killed and wounded and r000 missing; Italians, 3800 killed and wounded and 4300 missing. The archduke was too weak in numbers to pursue, his losses had been considerable, and a resolute offensive, in the existing political conditions, would have been a mere waste of force. The battle necessary to save the honour of Austria had been handsomely won. Ere long the bulk of the army that had fought at Custozza was transported by rail to take part in defending Vienna itself against the victorious Prussians. One month later Cialdini with the, re-organized Italian army, 140,000 strong, took the field again, and the 30,000 Austrians left in Venetia retreated to the Isonzo without engaging. In spite of Custozza and of the great defeat sustained by the Italian navy at the hands of Tegetthof near Lissa on the loth of July, Venetia was now liberated and incorporated in the kingdom of Italy, and the struggle for unity, that had been for seventeen years a passionate and absorbing drama, and had had amongst its incidents Novara, Magenta, Solferino and the Garibaldian conquest of the Two Sicilies, ended in an anti-climax. Three years later the cards were shuffled, and Austria, France and Italy were projecting an offensive alliance against Prussia. This scheme came to grief on the Roman question, and the French chassepot was used for the first time in battle against Garibaldi at Mentana, but in 1870 France was compelled to withdraw her Roman garrison, and with the assent of their late enemy Austria, the Italians under Cialdini fought their way into Rome and there established the capital of united Italy. For the Italian campaign of 1866 see the Austrian official history, C sterreichs Kampfe 1866 (French translation), and the Italian official account, La Cam pagna del 1866, of which the volume dealing with Custozza was published in 1909. A short account is given in Sir H. Hozier's Seven Weeks' War, and tactical studies in v. Verdv_'s Custozza (tr. Henderson), and Sir Evelyn Wood; Achievements of Cavalry. (C. F. A.) Second Battle of Custozza.
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