Battle of Custoza (1866)

Battle of Custoza (1866)

Infobox Military Conflict


caption=Battle of Custoza (1866)
partof=the Austro-Prussian War
conflict=Battle of Custoza
date=24 June 1866
place=Custoza, near Verona, present-day Italy
result=Austrian victory
combatant1=flagicon|Italy|1861 Italy
combatant2=flagicon|Austrian Empire Austria
commander1=Alfonso Ferrero la Marmora and Enrico Cialdini
commander2=Archduke Albert of Habsburg
strength1=120,000 [Only 65,000 of which crossed the Mincio.]
strength2=60,000
casualties1=8,147 total:
720 killed
3,112 wounded
4,315 captured
casualties2=5,650 total:
960 killed
3,690 wounded
1,000 captured

The Battle of Custoza took place on 24 June 1866 during the Third Italian Independence War in the Italian unification process.

The Austrian Empire army, led by Archduke Albert of Habsburg, defeated the Italian army led by Alfonso Ferrero la Marmora and Enrico Cialdini, in spite of the Italians' strong numerical advantage.

Background

In June 1866, the German kingdom of Prussia declared war on the Austrian Empire. The recently formed Italian kingdom decided to seize the opportunity and allied with Prussia with the intention of annexing Venetia and thus uniting the Italian Peninsula. The Italians rapdily built up an army twice the size of their Austrian counterparts defending Venetia.

The Battle

In the fourth week of May, the Italians divided their army into two equally-sized corps, one commanded by King Vittorio Emmanuele and the other by Generals Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora and Enrico Cialdini. The king's force was to move into the Trentino region, while Marmora's crossed the Mincio River and invaded Venetia. Meanwhile, Austrian soldiers under Archduke Albert of Habsburg marched west from Verona to the north of the Italians, in an attempt to move behind the Italians so as to cut them off from the rear and thus slaughter them. The maneuver failed, resulting in a confused and ferocious struggle. The Austrians' rifled artillery ouperformed the Italian smoothbore guns and an improvised charge by Austrian lancers sustained heavy losses, but unnerved the Italians.

Aftermath

The Austrians were decisively victorious, both strategically and tactically. The Italians were driven back across the Mincio out of Venetia. Despite this victory and a naval defeat of the Italians at Lissa, the Austrians surrenedered to the Prussians a month later and were forced to cede Venetia.

Notes

References

* http://www.clash-of-steel.co.uk/pages/battle_details.php?battle=CUSTOZZA01
* Encyclopedia Britannica: Second Battle of Custoza

Further reading

*Frederick Engels. [http://www.marx.org/archive/marx/works/1866/06/28.htm Notes on the War in Germany No. III] , The Manchester Guardian, No. 6197, June 28, 1866. A contemporary news paper article.


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