Garibaldi As A Military Thinker And General
A level History - The Changing nature of Warfare - Italian unification and War
Date : 11/01/2016
Garibaldi as a military thinker and leader Guiseppe Garibaldi (1807-82) was the greatest guerrilla leader of the 19th C, a revolutionary he adapted and pioneered a new style of warfare. Garibaldi used untrained men with passion and courage against an enemy superior in numbers and resources relying on mobility and surprise to overcome the problems he faced. He will be forever associated with the struggle for a unified Italy. 1. As a 19th C romantic and radical soldier hero Garibaldi s international fame guaranteed a study supply of money and volunteers for his cause2. His fearsome reputation helped to intimidate his enemies and helped him gain the upper hand.3. Garibaldi spent the latter part of the 1930s the 1840 s in South America engaged in wars of national liberation there particularly in Brazil and Uruguay.4. When he returned to Italy in 148 he was already a well known figure. 5. His first significant victory was in 1849 against the French where he led his volunteer army in a massive bayonet charge that routed the French. His defence of Rome made front page news throughout Europe and in July of 1849 Garibaldi led his volunteers north across the Alps to defend Venice against the Austrians. He was swiftly becoming a legend.6. Garibaldi then left Europe only returning to Italy in 1854. Garibaldi joined the 'national Society' and forms an alliance with the King of Piedmont (Victor Emmanuel II) and his Prime Minister (Cavour) in 1859. 7. At this point Garibaldi becomes a pawn in a complex political situation. Italy's fragmented state was the battleground in the power struggle between France and Austria and neither country wished to see it united and strong. Cavour came to a secret agreement with France that in return for military help the provinces of Savoy and Nice would be granted to France. Garibaldi s name is used to gather support for a war against Austria but when it comes Garibaldi is sent away from the main army with the oldest men to train in the mountains. Despite this he does well. The war ended in the Peace of Villafranca, this pleased no-one Austria held on to Venitia and the French failed to live up to the promises that they had made to Cavour, little progress towards a united Italy seemed to have been made. 8. However Garibaldi s skill as a guerrilla leader enhanced his reputation he did not seem to be a general as much as the leader of a new religion followed by a fanatical rabble 9. The handover of Savoy and Nice to France was a personal blow for Garibaldi who rightly felt betrayed by Cavour. Garibaldi set off with his famous thousand red shirted guerrilla s to support a revolt in Sicily here he fought a classic guerrilla war in the mountains which led to the withdrawal of all Borbon troops. In less than a month his poorly armed thousand had overcome a regular army. Garibaldi crossed over into southern Italy and advanced towards Naples. By September he was at Salerno and actually took a train to Naples ahead of his army entering the city to the cheers of the crowd. 10. Garibaldi won another battle against the Borbon army in October but his military success brought greater problems. Cavour sent a large army through Italy to protect the Pope and the State of Rome. Garibaldi then handed power quietly over to King Victor Emmanuel recognising that he had been outplayed by Cavour. The story of Italian Unification is a complex one where politics often had greater influence than success on the battlefield. On the one hand the rivalry of France and Austria meant that Italy was the board on which that struggle was fought. Neither major power wanted a strong united Italy as it would change the balance of power. Equally the rivalries between those Italian nationalists seeking unification made the chance of success even more unlikely. In 1860 despite all his successes Garibaldi recognised that Italy would never be united through a national struggle by the Italian people themselves. Italian unification when it came was a political act where players like Cavour and the French were more important than idealists and revolutionaries like Garibaldi. So what then were Garibaldi s achievements as a general and a revolutionary leader? Garibaldi fought four military campaigns between1860-1862. In 1866 he fought with King Victor Emmanuel against Austria a campaign that saw Venitia become part of Italy. In 1862 and 1867 he attempted to seize Rome form the control of the Pope. On the first attempt he was halted by Italian soldiers on the second by French troops armed with the new Chassepot rifle which with its rapid rate of fire could not be overcome with bayonet charges. Ever the revolutionary Garibaldi spent 1870 in France defending the new French Third Republic against the Prussians. Garibaldi was an internationalist, he fought for the poor and oppressed in South America then in Italy and finally in France. His red-shirted thousand were the for-runners of revolutionary movements in the 20th C in a different age he would have fought in Spain against fascism in the 1930, or with Castro and Che Guevara to liberate Cuba from the corrupt government of Batista. Garibaldi is the first to introduce guerrilla tactics into Europe and recognise the importance of the politically motivated volunteer. He was an exceptional commander of men and could command both guerrilla s and regular soldiers, he is perhaps the last of the truly courageous warrior leaders in a age where technology was advancing fast and courage alone could no longer win battles. On the other hand the rise of newspapers brought great fame and his name alone counted on and off the battlefield, his achievements made him an international figure respected for his ideals and his bravery.
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