Solferino 1859: The Battle For Italy's Freedom

World War II Axis Booby Traps and Sabotage Tactics

Solferino 1859
The Battle For Italy's Freedom

Solferino 1859
The Battle For Italy’s Freedom
Campaign 207
By Richard Brooks
Illustrated by Peter Dennis

Osprey Publishing April 2009; 96 pages
ISBN: 9781846033858

Solferino 1859: The Battle For Italy's Freedom...

The mid 19th century has always been one of my wargaming interests and when this new campaign book from Osprey arrived through the office door it seemed like my cup of tea. The book is lavishly illustrated throughout with Peter Dennis’s excellent artwork, period art and accompanying modern photographs of the battlefields today. Richard Brooks sets the scene with a well-detailed narrative of the events of the whole campaign, and despite the books title, covers the battles of Montebello, Magenta, and Malegnano as well as Solferino.
Mr Brooks seems very aware of the importance of terrain in warfare and this shines through in his descriptions of the campaign and how the nature of the northern Italy, its rivers and canals, and its agriculture affected the battles.
He examines the changing technology and how it affected the campaign. The use of the railways and steam ships to get the French army to Italy quickly. The superiority of the French rifled cannon over the Austrian’s smooth bores. The wide spread use of the rifled musket on both sides and how differences in doctrine and training saw different results on the battlefield.
The tactics of the armies is also covered, and interestingly how both sides seemed to take completely the wrong lessons out of the campaign. One resounding success was the rifled cannons and after the campaign the Austrians went about upgrading their arsenal. However, the aggressive bayonet tactics of the French were soon adopted by the Austrians to detriment to their musketry, which had proved superior to the French during the campaign. Later campaigns against the Danes and Prussians would result in high casualties for the Austrians using these aggressive tactics. The French seemed draw little from the campaign other to confirm their superiority, which would be well and truly crushed during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. However, the war did see the creation of the Red Cross after its founder, Henri Dunant, witnessed the aftermath of Solferino. He was so appalled he went on to convene the Geneva Convention of 1864, which gives us many of the rules wars are fought under today.
All-in-all an excellent introduction to the campaign and this fascinating period of European warfare. I hope Mr Brooks’ interest spreads to the other campaigns of the War of Italian Unification and we see some more Osprey books from him.

Wayne Turner

Last Updated On Wednesday, July 8, 2009 by Blake at Battlefront