Battle of Solferino

Battle of Solferino

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Solferino
partof=the Second Italian War of Independence

caption="Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino" by Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier. Oil on canvas, 1863.
date=24 June 1859
place=Solferino, present-day Italy
result=Franco-Sardinian victory
Armistice of Villafranca (July 12, 1859)
strength1=118,600Facts|date=July 2007
strength2=about 100,000Facts|date=July 2007
casualties1=17,000 killed, wounded and missing cite web | title = Solferino |author=Graham J. Morris | url = |accessdate= 2008-01-29 ]
casualties2=20,000 killed, wounded and missing

The Battle of Solferino was fought on June 24, 1859 and resulted in the victory of the allied French Army under Napoleon III and Sardinian Army under Victor Emmanuel II (together known as the Franco-Sardinian Alliance) against the Austrian Army under Emperor Franz Josef (also known as Francis Joseph); it was the last major battle in world history where all the involved armies were under the personal command of their monarchs. Over 200,000 soldiers fought in this important battle, the largest since the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. There were about 100,000 Austrian troops and a combined total of 118,600 French and allied Piedmontese-Sardinian troops. After this battle, the Austrian Emperor refrained from further direct command of the army.

The battle

The Battle of Solferino was a decisive engagement in the Second Italian War of Independence or Second Independence War, a crucial step in the Italian "Risorgimento". The war's geopolitical context was the nationalist struggle to unify Italy, long divided between France, Austria, Spain and the Papal States. The battle took place near the village of Solferino, Italy, a location between Milan and Verona.

The confrontation was between the Austrians, then marching across northern Italy, and the French and Piedmontese-Sardinian forces who opposed their advance. The battle was a particularly gruelling one, lasting over nine hours and resulting in over 3,000 Austrian troops killed with 10,807 wounded and 8,638 missing or captured. The Allied armies also suffered a total of 2,492 killed, 12,512 wounded and 2,922 captured or missing. Reports of wounded and dying soldiers being shot or bayoneted on both sides added to the horror. In the end, the Austrian forces were forced to yield their positions, and the Allied French-Italian armies won a tactical, but costly, victory.


Napoleon III was moved by the losses, as he had argued back in 1852 "the French Empire is peace", and for reasons including the Prussian threat and domestic protests by the Roman Catholics, he decided to put an end to the war with the Armistice of Villafranca on July 12 1859. The Italians won Lombardy but not the Venetia and they were deeply disappointed by Napoleon III's behaviour. As a result, Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour resigned. [ [ Napoléon III, Pierre Milza, Perrin edition, 2004] ] The Kingdom of Italy was created in 1860.

This battle would have a long-term effect on the future conduct of military actions. Jean-Henri Dunant, who witnessed the battle in person, was motivated by the horrific suffering of wounded soldiers left on the battlefield to begin a campaign that would eventually result in the Geneva Conventions and the establishment of the International Red Cross.

References in popular culture

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem "The Forced Recruit at Solferino" commemorates this battle (Last Poems 1862).
Joseph Roth's 1932 novel "Radetzky March" opens at the Battle of Solferino. There, the father of the novel's Trotta dynasty is immortalized as the Hero of Solferino.


External links

* [ The French Army 1600-1900]
* [ The Battle of Solferino]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • battle of Solferino — noun an indecisive battle in 1859 between the French and Sardinians under Napoleon III and the Austrians under Francis Joseph I • Syn: ↑Solferino • Regions: ↑Italy, ↑Italian Republic, ↑Italia • Instance Hypernyms: ↑pitched battle …   Useful english dictionary

  • Solferino — is a small town in Lombardy, Italy, approximately 10 kilometres south of Lake Garda. It has approximately 2,500 inhabitants. It is best known as being close to the site of the Battle of Solferino on 24 June 1859, witnessed by Henry Dunant, which… …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of San Martino — The 15th Century Battle of San Martino in Italy was part of an ongoing conflict between two city states, the Venetians under Berterelli and the Florentines under Giovanni, in 1482. That battle was fought in swirling mists and, owing to their… …   Wikipedia

  • Solférino (Paris Métro) — Infobox Paris metro Name=Solférino Pic= Day=5 November Year=1910 Access= Municipality=the 7th arrondissement of Paris Zone=1 Next= X=117 Y=78Solférino is a station of the Paris Métro, named after the Battle of Solférino. It is served by Line… …   Wikipedia

  • Solferino — noun an indecisive battle in 1859 between the French and Sardinians under Napoleon III and the Austrians under Francis Joseph I • Syn: ↑battle of Solferino • Regions: ↑Italy, ↑Italian Republic, ↑Italia • Instance Hypernyms: ↑pitched battle …   Useful english dictionary

  • Solférino — French commune name= Solférino region= Aquitaine department= Landes arrondissement= Arrondissement of Mont de Marsan canton= Canton de Sabres intercomm= Communauté de communes de la Haute Lande mayor= Guy Rizzo mandat= 2001 2008 longitude=… …   Wikipedia

  • battle — battle1 battler, n. /bat l/, n., v., battled, battling. n. 1. a hostile encounter or engagement between opposing military forces: the battle of Waterloo. 2. participation in such hostile encounters or engagements: wounds received in battle. 3. a… …   Universalium

  • Solferino — /sawl fe rddee naw/ for 1; /sol feuh ree noh/ for 2, 3, n. 1. a village in SE Lombardy, in N Italy: battle 1859. 1811. 2. (l.c.) a dye obtained from rosaniline. 3. (l.c.) vivid purplish pink. [dye so named from its being discovered after the… …   Universalium

  • Solferino — Sol fe*ri no, n. A brilliant deep pink color with a purplish tinge, one of the dyes derived from aniline; so called from Solferino in Italy, where a battle was fought about the time of its discovery. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Solferino, Battle of — (June 24, 1859) Engagement fought in Lombardy between Austria and an allied French and Piedmontese army. After its defeat at the Battle of Magenta, the Austrian army retreated eastward, where it unexpectedly met the allied army commanded by… …   Universalium

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