Report on the Conquest of Naples, 1860

Having reached the strait, it became necessary to cross it. To have reinstated Sicily in the great Italian family was certainly a glorious achievement. But what then were we, in compliance with diplomacy, to leave our country incomplete and maimed? What of the two Calabrias, and Naples, awaiting us with open arms? And the rest of Italy still enslaved by the foreigner and the priest? We were clearly bound to pass the strait, despite the utmost vigilance of the Bourbons and their adherents.

Our entry into the great capital sounds more imposing than it was in reality. Accompanied by a small staff, I passed through the midst of the Bourbon troops still in occupation, who presented arms far more obsequiously than they did at that time to their own generals.

September 7th, 1860!-which of the sons of Parthenope will not remember that glorious day? On September 7th fell the abhorred dynasty which a great English statesman had called 'The curse of God', and on its ruins rose the sovereignty of the people, which, by some unhappy fatality, never lasts long.

... Though the Bourbon army was still in possession of the forts and the principal points of the city, whence they could easily have destroyed it, yet the applause and the impressive conduct of this great populace sufficed to ensure their harmlessness on September 7th, 1860.

I entered Naples with the whole of the southern army as yet a long way off in the direction of the Straits of Messina, the King of Naples having, on the previous day, quitted his palace to retire to Capua.

The royal nest, still warm, was occupied by the emancipators of the people, and the rich carpets of the royal palace were trodden by the heavy boots of the plebeian.

At Naples, as in all places we had passed through since crossing the strait, the populace were sublime in their enthusiastic patriotism, and the resolute tone assumed by them certainly had no small share in the brilliant results obtained.

Another circumstance very favourable to the national cause was the tacit consent of the Bourbon navy, which, had it been entirely hostile, could have greatly retarded our progress towards the capital. In fact, our steamers transported the divisions of the southern army along the whole Neapolitan coast without let or hindrance, which could not have been done in the face of any decided opposition on the part of the navy.

Source:© Paul Halsall, July 1998
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