First Italian War of Independence

First Italian War Of Independence

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First Italian War of Independence

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The First Italian War of Independence was fought in 1848 between the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Austrian Empire. The war saw main battles at Custoza and Novara in which the Austrians under Radetzky managed to defeat the Piedmontese.

The war

The Piedmontese army was composed of two corps and a reserve division, for a total of 12,000 troops. Artillery and cavalry were the best units. On March 21 the Grand Duke of Tuscany also declared his entrance in the war against Austria, with a contingent of 6,700 men. The Papal Army had a similar sized force, backed by numerous volunteers. On March 25 the vanguard of the II Piedmontese Corps entered Milan and two days later also Pavia was freed.

After an initial successful campaign, with the victories at Goito and Peschiera del Garda, pope Pius IX, fearing possible expansions of Piedmont in case of victory, recalled his troops. The kingdom of the Two Sicilies too retired, but the general Guglielmo Pepe refused to go back to Naples and went to Venice to protect it against the Austrian counter-offensive. King Ferdinand II's retreat was mainly due to the ambiguous behaviour of Charles Albert of Piedmont, who had not clearly refused the proposal to obtain the Sicilian crown received from representants of rebellious island.

The Piedmontese Army was defeated by the Austrians at Custoza on July 1, 1848.Denis Mack Smith, Modern Italy: A Political History (University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, 1997) p. 19. An uneasy...
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