Expedition of the Thousand 1860

[ 1860 ]

[called Italio-Sicilian 1860-61 in COW]

Garibaldi and the Thousand... The democratic movement refused to acknowledge that the national revolution was in any way complete so long as parts of the peninsula remained under the old sovereigns. Sicily, where autonomist opposition to the Bourbon government was endemic and extreme, was the most obvious place for a democratic revival. In April 1860 a Mazzinian-inspired insurrection broke out in Palermo (the Gancia revolt), and, although it was quickly quelled, it spread throughout the island. After the insurrection, Sicilian democrats gave evidence that they could overcome their deep divisions of ideology and class. In May they had the opportunity to assist Garibaldi's Expedition of the Thousand, a volunteer force that had set sail from Liguria to free the Italian south from Bourbon rule.

Despite scant preparations and a shortage of weapons, Garibaldi's volunteers landed at Marsala on May 11, 1860, and in less than three months conquered the entire island of Sicily. Garibaldi's daring and skill and the indigenous revolutionary ferment accounted for the success of the expedition. Still, the attitude of the Sicilian peasants was ambivalent. They initially welcomed the invading force but then quickly became disillusioned because of Garibaldi's reluctance to order the breakup of secular, landed estates. Although Garibaldi declared on May 14 that he ruled "in the name of Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy," he entrusted the Sicilian provisional government to his associate, Francesco Crispi, who came into serious conflict with Cavour's emissaries on the island. Cavour feared the implications of a republican coup d'état. Meanwhile, as the European powers attempted mediation, the new king of the Two Sicilies, Francis II, granted a constitution and promised amnesty to Sicilian rebels. At this point, without the consent of Victor Emmanuel II and perhaps even against his wishes, Garibaldi crossed the Straits of Messina on Aug. 19, 1860, and by September 7 made a triumphant entry into Naples. Francis II fled to Gaeta, and on October 1 the last serious resistance of the Bourbon army was overcome at the battle of the Volturno near Caserta.

The prestige of Garibaldi and the democrats had risen so high that Cavour felt compelled to seize the initiative once again. Having persuaded Napoleon III to limit his opposition to lodging a perfunctory protest, Cavour proceeded to occupy Umbria and the Marche. Rome and its surrounding region (Latium) were to remain under the pope, but the remainder of the Italian peninsula was to become one kingdom under a moderate constitution. On Oct. 26, 1860, Victor Emmanuel II met with Garibaldi on Neapolitan soil and was greeted as "king of Italy." During October and November, plebiscites in the former papal and Bourbon provinces overwhelmingly endorsed annexation to the Kingdom of Italy.

The Kingdom of Italy was officially proclaimed on March 17, 1861, by a parliament assembled in Turin. Soon afterward Cavour asserted that Rome must become the capital of the new state within a context of separation between secular and religious authority. However, because of Cavour's untimely death on June 6, 1861, the Roman question remained unresolved.

*****

Expedition of the Thousand, Italian SPEDIZIONE DEI MILLE, campaign undertaken in 1860 by Giuseppe Garibaldi that overthrew the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples) and permitted the union of southern Italy and Sicily with the north. The expedition was one of the most dramatic events of the Risorgimento (movement for Italian unification) and was the archetype modern insurrection and popular war.

By 1860 Garibaldi had established a reputation as a successful military leader. He was totally committed to the cause of Italian unification, and, although sympathetic to democratic ideas, he was willing, for the sake of the nation, to work for Victor Emmanuel II, the king of Piedmont-Sardinia. But Garibaldi became impatient with the cautious, diplomatic tactics of Piedmont's prime minister, Count Cavour, and was ready to act on his own initiative to help unite Italy. A revolt in Sicily, beginning on April 4, 1860, caused Garibaldi to make the decision to begin with an attack on the Bourbon kingdom in the south. On the night of May 5-6, he embarked from Quarto (a suburb of Genoa) with more than 1,000 men, mostly idealistic young northerners. Narrowly missing contact with the Bourbon Navy, the expedition landed at the western Sicilian port of Marsala on May 11.

Garibaldi was faced with the problem of defeating more than 20,000 Neapolitan troops of the Bourbon king Francis II in Sicily with an untrained force armed only with rusty rifles. After proclaiming himself dictator of Sicily in the name of Victor Emmanuel, he led his men across the island toward Palermo. He defeated a Neapolitan force at Calatafimi (May 15), and many Sicilians then joined him to help overthrow their hated Neapolitan rulers. Aided also by the incompetence of the Bourbon command, Garibaldi captured Palermo (June 6) and, with the Battle of Milazzo (July 20), won control of all Sicily except Messina.

Garibaldi now hoped to take Naples and even to complete Italy's unification by a march on papal Rome. On August 20 he crossed the strait of Messina and landed in Calabria. His advance to Naples became a triumphal march as Bourbon rule totally collapsed; he was welcomed as a hero on entering Naples on September 7. The regrouped forces of King Francis made a final effort at the Volturno River (October 1-2) and, although Garibaldi defeated them, his march to Rome was checked. But Garibaldi was also blocked by political maneuvering. Cavour decided to take the initiative, fearful that the Risorgimento was being turned into a popular movement by the radical followers of Garibaldi and that France would intervene if Rome were attacked. To insure that Piedmont kept the leadership of the unification movement, Cavour ordered Piedmontese troops to invade the papal territories of Umbria and Marche and to join Garibaldi at Naples. Realizing that completion of unification was impossible in the existing situation, Garibaldi agreed to hold a plebiscite in the south, which resulted in an overwhelming victory for annexation under Piedmont (October 21). On October 26 Garibaldi met with Victor Emmanuel and relinquished his dictatorship over the south into the king's hands.

Total Casualties 6000 Killed and Wounded
Casualties Killed / Wounded
Military Casualties Killed 4500 /Wounded 0
Civilian Casualties Killed 1500 / Wounded
Note

Related Conflicts

No Releted Conflicts