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or a Philibert of Savoy ;-but if one of the Italian princes of the present time would dare to embrace the cause of Italy, we believe that she might easily succeed without foreign assistance, which, if it does not humiliate a people, can never tend to their renown.*
But, unhappily, we have a double obstacle to surmount. We have to overturn the several absolute powers, by whom we are at present governed,—and, at the same time, to combat the foreign usurper, who directly rules that part of our country in which he has fortified himself. In this state of distress, we may surely be permitted to say to England,
-"Help us, for the assistance you lend us will be repaid with usurious interest." To France, we may say,—"Assist us, for your own safety depends on this assistance.”
Nevertheless, we still believe, that were Italy animated by one powerful will, she might conquer her own independence, and choose her own governments, without the assistance either of France or England.
We are the more convinced of this, because the people of these two great nations would not again allow their Governments to send secret succours to Austria, as they did in 1826.
We should not be surprised, if, among those who deign to read us, some should inquire, why we thus expose our plans to our enemies, if we deem them useful to the Italian cause ?
We inust repeat what we have already said in L'Italie Militaire : that the enemy can gain nothing by this exposure ;—they can level neither the Alps nor the Apennines ;-they can neither dry up the sea which surrounds Italy, nor diminish the hatred of the Italians to their yoke ;-nor can they destroy steam, which, in case of war, would be of immense advantage to Italy.
Besides, it may not be useless that the French and English should know, that independent Italy, by combating the common enemy, either on her own territory, or on the Austrian shores, which are washed by the Adriatic, would hold in check all the disposable forces of Austria; and that one of those nations, or both, with small sacrifices, and no probability of a reverse, might obtain immense results, to the advantage of all the free nations of Europe.
To make the propositions we have advanced in this chapter more obvious, we propose to treat in the next of the advantages the Italians would derive from steam-boats, in a war for Italian independence.
On the Advantages which the Italians would derive from Steam-vessels,
in a defensive or insurrectionary War. We endeavoured, in L'Italie Militaire, to show how peculiarly that country, from the Alps to Sicily, is adapted to defensive warfare. But in speaking of steam-boats, we simply mentioned, in that work, the
* In a word, Austria is stronger than either of the Italian states; moral union exists between these states, but their supplies are stopped by the princes who govern them.
X. S.-VOL, VI.
advantages which the Italians might derive from them. We propose in this chapter to show the nature of these advantages, which require no military knowledge to make them comprehended.
Before commencing this examination, we must point out the superiority of maritime forts over those in the interior of a country. In the first place, a maritime fortress cannot be conquered by famine, unless the enemy be superior by sea as well as by land; a circumstance which Italy will have no reason to fear for a long time. Moreover, that country would speedily be capable of creating a naval force for herself, with which to defend her shores; and in such warfare, steam-boats would be highly important, being especially suited to defence rather than attack,-above all, in a tempestuous sea like that of the Mediterranean.
Secondly.- A maritime fortress may prolong its defence a considerable time: there are some, such as Venice, Genoa, Gaëta, which would probably never fall into the power of the besiegers. The sea, being free, would not only be the means of supplying provisions to the fort, but would also disembarrass it of the sick and wounded, and facilitate the reparation of losses, either personal or materiel, and the inhabitants might evacuate the place if necessary. Gaëta was taken by Massena in 1806, because the general who commanded it knew nothing of bis profession. Massena surrendered Genoa in 1800 for want of provisions, and because it was besieged by an Austrian army by land, and blockaded by the English by sea.
Thirdly -- An enemy would not attempt with impunity to observe a place with a corps proportioned to its garrison, because it might receive reinforcements, and then the army of observation would be compromised. For example, 6,000 men, in a fortified encampment, might observe a garrison of 12,000 men in Mantua, while the rest of the army proceeded forwards. But supposing 6,000 men were observing Genoa while the rest of the army was passing the Po, they would be in great danger, even if the garrison of the place was weak; for it might receive considerable supplies, which would enable it to act against the corps of observation, as well as against the rear of the enemy. In 1806, Massena, who was supported by a powerful and numerous party in the kingdom of Naples, did not venture to advance into Calabria before he had taken Gaëta, through which fort the Anglo-Sicilian army might have attacked the rear of the French. But had Gaëta not been a maritime fort, Massena might have observed it with a brigade in position, and marched on to Calabria. Suppose that Napoleon, in 1814, had had the means of landing only a corps 30,000 men at Antwerp; would the Allies have ventured to march upon Paris, with only insignificant forces to guard the fortresses on the French frontiers ?
Fourthly.—In maritime forts, the garrison is not compelled to inactivity, as in the interior. If the Italians were masters of their own fortified towns, and the enemy, neglecting them, should advance towards the South, the garrison of Alexandria could not venture to quit their fortress, in order to harass the enemy's rear; while two thirds of the garrisons of Genoa, Porto Ferrajo, and Gaëta, might unite and act against the enemy as circumstances might dictate.
Fifthly.-Nothing is more dull and often unhealthy for the inhabitants as well as garrison, than towns situated far from the sea. Maritime forts, on the contrary, are in a very different position, from the salubrity of the air, and the abundance and freshness of the provisions, which render both garrison and inhabitants more attached to the cause they are contending for, more ready in its defence, and more patient in fatigue and danger.
Sixthly.—When the sea is free, the garrisons of seaports are not liable to fall into the power of the enemy. The country does not at the same time lose a town and a part of her forces. The moral courage of the garrison, during a siege, is not affected by the fatal idea, that so much bloodshed, and so many sacrifices, can only retard for a few days the final necessity of surrendering. In war, as in every other social combination, moral discipline is everything,
-and the first care should be to sustain and fortify the moral courage of the soldier. Strategic operations, scientific manoeuvres, numerical force, even military discipline—all are of secondary consideration.
Finally.-The keeping in repair of maritime forts is less expensive than inland; because their fortifications towards the sea are less costly than those which guard them by land; while the transport of troops and provisions to the place, is more economical by sea than land.
It is, therefore, clear that fortresses on the coast have immense advantages over those in the interior of a country : consequently, we have no difficulty in demonstrating the utility of steam-boats to Italy in time of war.
Let us suppose that Italy possesses a number of steam-vessels, which in time of peace are employed in commerce, and which, during war, by taking in tow sailing vessels, could be employed to transport the personal and materiel of the army. It is easy to imagine that the strategical movements, which might be performed by these corps, might be as varied and numerous as the combinations of pawns on a chess-board.
We think it necessary to make a rapid sketch of the principal maritime forts, and of those of the interior, which, in our opinion, it would be necessary to preserve, to put in a state of defence, or enlarge.
Persons not conversant with military knowledge may understand this chapter without such information; they should remark, that the number of places in the Peninsula, hereafter mentioned, is much smaller than that of other countries of Europe more or less extensive, yet that they would suffice for the defence of Italy.
The principal sea fortresses would be, Venice, Ancona, Pescara, Manfredonia, Brundisi, Tarento, Crotona, Messina, Syracuse, Trapani, Palermo, Tropea, Capri, Gaëta, Porto Ferrajo, Spezia, and Genoa.
The forts in the interior would be, Mantua, Alexandria, Bologna, Foligno, Castro-Giovanni, in Sicily. These two last places must be supported by a permanent entrenched camp, in which a corps of artillery might defend themselves. Bologna should be fortified according to the beautiful plan which the Generals Haxo, Valasi, and Richemont proposed for the town of Paris. In L'Italie Militaire, we proposed another plan for the fortification of Bologna, but having examined that of the above-named generals, we believe it to be preferable.
In case of imminent emergency, a large entrenched camp should be constructed at Monteforte, near Avellino, and another in Calabria. Upon the Apennines, from the Alps to the Straits, convents and other buildings in positions inacceseible to artillery should here and there be fortified.
If it were only for the purpose of transporting troops with rapidity, all countries, surrounded more or less by the sea, would possess the same advantages. But it is also necessary to assure to the troops, thus disembarked, places of retreat, and a broken or mountainous territory, that they may not be exposed to the necessity, either of laying down their arms, or being defeated by an enemy superior in numbers or discipline. In Italy, such places of shelter, and this sort of broken country, are found both on the maritime positions on the two opposite coasts, and among the Apennines, which run the whole length of Italy: neither France, Spain, nor England has the same long and narrow form of coast, nor have they the vicinity of high mountains ; thus, in a defensive war, steam-boats would be less advantageous to them, than to the Italian peninsula.
To throw more light on these ideas, let us pass to the application of our theory. Let us suppose Italy independent, and again attacked by her old and constant enemy, Austria, and that the Austrian army occupies Lombardy. By means of their steam-boats and the seaports of Venice and Genoa, the Italians might transport their troops, and even two thirds of the garrisons of the other forts on the coast, either to the rear or flank of the enemy, as might seem expedient. Should the operation fail, they could take refuge in Venice, in Genoa and the Apennines, from whence they might gain Spezia, or fall on Bologna, by embarking their artillery.
We may here recal to remembrance that, more to the south, by the help of these same Apennines, Fabius saved Rome.
The Italians, being masters of the sea, could never lose Venice. If the enemy attempted to besiege Genoa, they would probably be defeated there ;—for all the disposable forces of Italy, including those stationed in Sicily and on the Adriatic coasts, would be able rapidly to unite in the Genoese territory.
Should the enemy march on Bologna, the strategistic combinations would be multiplied in favour of Italy, since from the opposite coasts their available forces might at once fall on this point of offensive and defensive operations.
Supposing the enemy capable of surmounting all these obstacles, and of advancing to Foligna, this would be still more favourable to the Italians; for they would have the choice of attacking the enemy's lines, either in Lombardy near Venice, or at Bologna near Porto Ferrajo. In fine, the farther the enemy advanced towards the South, the more would the Italian forces (by means of the Apennines, and the two seas which continue to approach more nearly,) be able to form rapid movements and conjunctions ;—sometimes, in order to obstruct the march of the enemy,-at others, to maneuvre on their flank or rear. Would an Austrian army be more daring than the French under Massena, who ventured not to leave Gaëta in his rear? Yet the French, at that time, had a powerful party in the nation, and the Anglo-Sicilians could land but few troops. We
may remark, in the history of the wars of that epoch, what the English effected, with about 10,000 men, by landing them either in the Ionian Isles, or Ischia, near Naples, or sometimes in Spain, on the coasts of Valencia and Catalonia. 'Yet in these countries, the English did not possess as many maritime fortresses as there are in Italy; and steam-boats were not then used.
If we have imagined an invading army penetrating so far into Italy, it has been,
in order to point out more clearly the advantages which steam-boats would give the Italians, in case they were called upon to defend themselves.
This knowledge, should the occasion ever present itself, would calm their imaginations, struck by the remembrance of past reverses. It is most essential that they should know, that Italy, once independent, could never again become the prey of foreign ambition.*
A single year would be sufficient, wherein to enable the Italians to organize their forces, -after this, a foreign enemy who should venture to attack them, would be defeated between the Alps, Genoa, Spezia, Bologna, and Venice. The invention of steam-boats would contribute much to their defeat in these territories. But the utility of these vessels to the Italians would increase as the enemy advanced towards the south of the Peninsula ; the maritime fortresses on the Adriatic, combined with steam-boats, would not only facilitate bold defensive operations against the Austrians—but also enable them more easily to attack Austria herself, on the side of Trieste, Fiume, and Dalmatia.
It would be a fortunate circumstance for the Italians, to defend themselves by combating the enemy on his own territory.
Let us be permitted, for a moment, to recal the admiration which the Italian troops of every denomination inspired during the Empire : intrepidity, activity, sobriety, and vigour during their long marches ;these were their acknowledged virtues. They endured with equal courage the burning sun of Spain, and the frozen climate of the North. Napoleon himself, at St. Helena, did them justice. But the Emperor Napoleon was not eager to launch the Italians on the career of glory; and they could not, on their side, display, in defence of the Empire, the zeal and enthusiasm which would animate them in a war, of which the object was their own independence.
* We have treated in another place of the means by which the Italians might conquer their independence.
† At St. Helena, Napoleon made use of the following words to Dr. O'Meara. "When the Austrians possessed Italy, they endeavoured, in vain, to make soldiers of the Italians. They deserted, as soon as levied ; or, if obliged to march against the enemy, they fled at the first fire. After I had conquered Italy, and began to levy soldiers there, the Austrians laughed at me, and said it was time lost; they had long tried, and found it was not in the nature of the Italians to fight, or make good soldiers. Nevertheless, I enlisted several million Italians, who fought with as much bravery as the French, and who, even in my adversity, did not abandon me. What was the cause? I abandoned the whip and stick, which the Austrians had adopted ; I advanced those soldiers who showed talent; and made many of them generals. I substituted honour and emulation for fear and flogging."
Those writers, who blame the Italians, because they have not yet succeeded in driving away the enemy, and giving themselves constitutions, seem to forget, that, in Italy, the people have to contend at once with their own princes as well as Austria. These princes, deaf to the voice of honour, are only occupied in destroying the feelings of nationality which animate the Italians : --these princes labour only to effect their ruin ;-but we still hope to see Italy struggle with success against her hard fate.
(To be continued.)