Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Illusion of Control

Yesterday I was observing someone playing with a new iPad, waxing enthusiastic about how great it was. And in fact, the graphics are gorgeous, the screen luminous, the applications almost endless and endlessly powerful. You can have your favorite music on the thing, your favorite photos, your favorite books on its super reader, your favorite blogs constantly updated, and all of it available at the literal touch of your finger as it scrolls effortlessly through your increasingly digitized world. Fully loaded, it knows all kinds of things about you, including when you need to enter data, whereupon it automatically displays a keyboard on your screen.

And as I mulled about this later, and about the marvelous control offered by iPhones and iPods and all the other gadgets beguiling each of us with constantly-updated information geared specifically to ME, this notion of ‘the world at your fingertips’ started to appear in a slightly different light. My music, my websites, my blogs, my photos, my world—it’s all about some postmodern illusion that if I can just buy enough gadgets, I can inhabit a world that is tailor-made for me alone. I don’t have to wait for a radio to play my favorite song: I can have it and all my other favorites on my iPod/Phone/Pad. I needn’t listen to other crap—other songs, traffic, bird calls, jabbering other people, construction noise--ever again. Plugged in, I can control my sound environment, and then my visual environment, and my information environment, and everything else in my world.

And yes, it’s an illusion. And the question always is, who—and I can be sure it’s not only me—benefits from this illusion of control. Who gains from my thinking that I can actually, and for an increasingly affordable price, control my world? Well, how about the mandarins who actually do control the world? How about the corporate masters who have, in the last 30 or 40 years, increased by geometric leaps and bounds their share of the wealth of not just this country but the entire world? It’s a bit like bread and circuses in ancient Rome: If the plebes can be given entertainments that are gripping enough (and the slaughter of a few Christians, or gladiators, or lions is quite tolerable for this), then they’re less likely to demand a real life. In our world, it’s bread and circuses as well—the Super Bowl and all sporting events, the Academy Awards and all contests, stupid sitcoms and countless murder-and-mayhem cop shows keep everyone at home and off the streets—but increasingly now, it’s our gadgets. If the plebes can be sold the illusion of control, they won’t notice that they have no control at all. Democracy? A joke. No matter who’s in power, money talks. Not votes. Money. Those with it get more powerful, those without it get the illusion of power via more and more gigabytes, greater capacity to find a new restaurant via GPS, and even the occasional ‘opportunity’ to cast a meaningless vote or two.

Lest one think that this illusion of control is peculiar to our age, it’s important to see that the illusion goes deeper than iPads. Or rather, the human urge to get control does. If one thinks about it, all of civilization constitutes an attempt to assert control over the constantly changing vicissitudes of life. Humans invent fire to control it, to warm themselves with it, to frighten threatening animals with it, to cook with it. Levi Strauss made a great deal of this, of cooking, drawing an elementary distinction between the raw and the cooked. Those who eat things raw are animals; primitive life forms. Those who cook are the civilized ones. Cooking not only makes food more digestible, it sets up the basic distinction upon which civilization is built: raw vs. cooked. And it leads to other distinctions: tame vs. wild, agriculture vs. hunting/gathering; protection from the elements vs. exposure to them. And it is all a question of control, of controlling the environment, making it habitable no matter the weather or the availability of wild food, no matter the gods who control such things. And of course, this level of control can be extended almost infinitely: control of weather, control of travel, control of life itself in its most fundamental code, the gene.

More deeply still, the very symbol of humanity, conscious thought, if introspected, can be viewed in this light as well. Those who meditate find this out very quickly. The mind is an inexhaustible thought machine. Consciousness, or what we think of as consciousness, is almost totally consumed with a continuous train of thoughts: thoughts about what we shall do later, thoughts about what we have done earlier, thoughts about how we can prevent this event from going bad or get even with the one who made that event go bad, thoughts about how to best control the situations that are coming and/or edit the past dramas we’d like to change. Very little time is spent, under normal circumstances, attending to what is happening now. The actual conditions of this moment. And the illusion is that as long as I—what I consider to be my basic self, which is this conscious self thinking and apparently controlling my story—am engaged in this sort of thinking and controlling what I see and feel and am, then “I” am in control. And of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The conscious “I” controls very little in life. Most of what we perceive, and most of what we make decisions about, is perceived and decided upon long before the conscious self appears to resolve it. Milliseconds before I choose to go get a snack from the frig, the impulse has already been set in motion in stomach and brain. Well before I think to go chat up that lady, interior impulses have already impelled me to do so. So where Descartes famously concluded that “I think, therefore I am,” a galaxy of information indicates that human being is controlled at a considerable remove from conscious thought. This is not to say that the illusion of control afforded by such ‘thinking’ can’t be useful and even necessary. Imagining that we are in control has undeniably beneficial effects, especially for those who have grown up in chaotic environments where the feeling of chaos and lack of control can be deeply debilitating. But as an exclusive diet, as a controlling illusion, it leads us to all the ills to which humans are subject. As Stephen Asma notes in a recent book (Why I Am a Buddhist), the desire to be a self in control is the fundamental problem: “Once we give up on this exaggerated delusion of control, we attain some degree of liberation—we stop trying to own everything; this is my experience, this is mine, this is I, this is myself.”

Nor do we have to buy into the Buddhist idea of liberation to see that the illusion of control, the desire for control over all life has led humans into a serious dilemma. One aspect of it has already been noted: being deluded about our control, being diverted into meaningless forms of control, makes it easier for those who have ruthlessly grabbed power to maintain their power over us. A population busy with iPads or iPods is less likely to make trouble over the growing income gap. But even more serious consequences of this mania for control can be seen just as easily. Civilization and the “control” it provides humans has driven us to the edge of a cliff. In this ultimate sense, we have gained “control” over our environment—we use fossil fuel to power our lives; we use corporate agriculture to reduce the work necessary to feed more and more of us; we use scientific ingenuity to control our susceptibility to disease and even death--only to find that we are controlling ourselves into overpopulation, global warming from overuse of fossil fuels, and the feverish destruction of the critical varieties of plant and animal life we have evolved with and will, at some point, be unable to do without.

In this sense, control is a paradox: The more we control our planet, the more we lose what it provides us to survive. And we are all, without exception, susceptible to this; all of us, to one degree or another, ‘control freaks.’

So what to do? How control the mania to control?

If I knew, I wouldn’t have to write about it. But quite possibly it’s as simple as recognizing it in ourselves and others, and gradually letting go of the illusion. The fundamental truth is that life cannot be controlled. Life is defined by its uncontrollability (Interesting how word usage intuits this: the term “out of control” is now used as a superlative akin to “awesome”). The more we try, the unhappier we get. The more we try, the unhappier all other life gets as well. I’m reminded of George Carlin’s wonderful riff on “stuff.” We spend our lives trying to accumulate as much “stuff” as we can, as much stuff as our neighbors seem to have. And then as our apartments and houses and garages fill up with “stuff,” we have to find or buy new stuff to store all the useless stuff we’ve accumulated, and so have to keep accumulating ad infinitum, our lives reduced to the idiocy of getting and keeping and finding ways to store more and more until we are more controlled by our stuff than it is by us. Carlin made this funny. But the humor came from the fact that we all know how truly, sadly insane it is.

Lawrence DiStasi

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In Case You Had Any Doubts

In case you had any doubts about what the recent elections (a landslide for Republicans) and the continuing effects of the economic meltdown portend, a few episodes should dispel them. I think my favorite this week is what’s going on in Wisconsin. There, once the cradle of radical politics not to mention the birth in the 50s of the public employee union movement, a yahoo by the name of Scott Walker was elected governor, and both houses of the legislature fell to the Republicans as well (not to mention the defeat of one of the last ethical Senators, Russ Feingold.) I’m not sure what happened to the drinking water in Wisconsin, but the results are beginning to play out big time. Governor Walker has initiated a bill, just passed by the budget committee, that would strip Wisconsin’s public employee unions of their right to collective bargaining. So where most of us thought that the right to collective bargaining was an issue long-since settled (after millions marched, endured beatings from hired thugs, and were murdered by those same thugs in the battles for union rights), it now turns out that this wannabe dictator in Wisconsin is coming close to turning back the clock on teachers, prison guards and other public employees. This so his plan to force these employees to pay more of the cost of their pensions and health care costs could not be reversed by collective bargaining. Isn’t that nice? Not only that, the unions would be hamstrung so that pay increases would be tied to the Consumer Price Index only. And to enforce his decrees, Walker has threatened to call out the National Guard to run the prisons (just in case the prison guards try to strike). So there you have it: no collective bargaining, no effective striking, no power to unions at all (does it need to be said that public unions are about the only large groups left contributing to the Democratic Party?).

If this bill goes through—and the Gov claims he has the votes to do it—another nail in the coffin of unions and collective bargaining would be hammered in. The movement started shortly after WWII by big corporations, and sent into high gear by Ronald Reagan when he fired Air Traffic Controllers to cripple their union (and all others), will have come to fruition. Does it need to be pointed out that this comes at just the time when American corporations are at the very height of their power, having been given, in the Citizens United case in the Supreme Court, carte blanche to pay politicians for the favors they already controlled before? Now, with this complete judicial sanction to corporations to buy whatever government they please (is it any wonder that Obama has kowtowed almost completely to the moneyed interests, and hired the head of General Electric, for god’s sake, which outsources to foreign countries more than half of its work, to be his top economic advisor in charge of “putting Americans back to work?”), the fiction that America is a “government of the people” has become laughable, a cruel, sick joke.

One could add more. In Florida, the Governor there has just axed the planned high-speed rail project, saying the state could not afford it. But the federal government was providing millions in seed money, and the state had already spent more millions in planning for the rail system that was projected to add millions to the tourist economy on which Florida depends (not to mention reducing automobile pollution). And hundreds of thousands of workers would have been hired to complete and then run the project. Nevermind. Those were just “workers” after all, and in the Republican version of economics, workers, like the environment, are simply expendable.

The irony, I suppose, is that all this is taking place at a time when in the Middle East, where democracy has only been a label to dress up dictatorships, the people really are in revolt. So as we watch thousands and millions in Egypt and Tunisia rise up, protest their powerlessness, and force their dictators to resign, and thousands more in Bahrain and Yemen take to the streets to try to do the same, here in the U.S.A. the “people” have so far been mute. Not in Wisconsin, thankfully, where thousands of teachers camped out in the state capitol to protest the proposed slashing of their rights. But in most other places, the “people” have been largely sidelined by the logic of what Naomi Klein calls the “shock doctrine.” That is, when those in power wish to cripple their opposition and remake society to their liking (i.e. privatize publicly-owned utilities/schools/industries, eliminate social programs that benefit the poor, reduce taxes on the rich), the best way to do so is to wait for or engineer a shock to the system—something like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, or 9/11 throughout the nation. And so, what we are seeing now, after the “shock” of the financial collapse in 2007-08, and to combat which the federal government bailed out banks and wall street with borrowed money, is all this conservative blather about THE FEDERAL DEFICIT. ‘We have to bring spending under control. We have to manage our nation’s budget the same way families do. Control our spending. Trim our sails.’ And what has to be trimmed? Why all that spending on the poor, all that spending on health care for those who can’t afford it like Medicaid, all those handouts to those lazy ones who line up for food stamps and health care for their children and block grants to local clinics and, ultimately, that major “handout” conceived by the demon Roosevelt Administration, Social Security.

Ah yes. The shock has been administered, and now come the shocking proposals. Not the masters of war, not the crooks on Wall St, not the bankers and corporate CEOs, but public employees are the freeloaders. Why should they get pensions? Why should they get free health care? Why should their unions get to hold up taxpayers with their threats of strikes? Why should we get taxed to pay for their benefits? Privatize everything. Bring in the corporate mavens to run (or is it ruin?) everything.

Ah America. The day of awakening is coming, the day of accounting is coming, and it’s not going to be pretty.

Lawrence DiStasi

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Roman Republic of 1849 (4: Wherever We Go, There is Rome.)

After June 3, the long slog began. In essence, the Italian forces—mostly the same ones whose ranks had been decimated attacking the Corsini--dug in to hold the Janiculum against hopeless odds and superior siege forces under French General Vaillant. The General knew his business and proceeded methodically to take inch by inch, yard by yard the ground where his infantry could dig themselves in, edging always closer to Rome’s walls. From the Corsini, French batteries mostly aimed their fire at the defenders, but also bombarded parts of the city, particularly the nearby Trastevere. This only enraged the citizens more, leading them to hurl oaths at the man they held responsible, now rechristened as Rome’s “King Bomba:”
The citizens, as they grew accustomed to the bombardment, greeted each projectile with the cry : ‘Ecco un Pio Nono !’ — ‘There goes another Pio Nono !’ Women and children of the Trastevere were seen to pick up live shells and throw them into the Tiber…. (Trevelyan, 196)

The siege came in basically two parts: June 4 through June 21, and June 22 through June 30. In the first, night raids from both sides attempted to breach enemy defenses, but for the most part came to little. Against all odds, Garibaldi’s defenders were holding on to places like the Casa Giacometti and the Vascello, still outside the walls. But the walls themselves were under a fierce bombardment and would go at any moment. Still, even on the night of June 21, a few men from the Unione regiment heard a French troop advancing, and, first firing at them point-blank, drove them off in bayonet combat. Garibaldi, meanwhile, headquartered in the Villa Savorelli, wrote to his Anita, safe, he thought, in Nice (she never received this letter since she had already decided to join him once again, and was en route, pregnant, to Rome):
My dear Anita, I know that thou hast been and maybe still art ill. I wish to see thy handwriting and my mother’s, and then I shall feel easy.
Cardinal Oudinot’s Gallic-friars content themselves with cannonading us, and we are too much accustomed to it to care. Here the women and children run after the balls and
shells and struggle for their possession.
We are fighting on the Janiculum and this people is worthy of its past greatness. Here they live, die, suffer amputation to the cry, ‘Viva la Repubblica !’ One hour of our life in
Rome is worth a century of common existence. (quoted in Trevelyan, 205)

Even as he was writing this letter, however, the French had already begun to breach the central bastions holding the walls. Wearied troops guarding the Casa Barberini awoke to find French troops already in their midst, panicked, and fled. Within minutes, Casa Barberini and the Central Bastion were in French hands. Though many thought he should have tried to retake these crucial positions, Garibaldi chose instead to fortify a defense line along the inner Aurelian wall. Those who feared that the Janiculum could not but fall that night were surprised to find that it still held. This was not the end of the issue, however, because Mazzini and Roselli, seeing the enemy on the walls, ordered Garibaldi to attack and retake the outer positions. This led to another quarrel between Garibaldi and his commanders, though in this he was supported not only by his own officers (they knew another suicidal attack would fail, so weary and dispirited were their troops by now), but also by the war minister, General Avezzana.

Thus began the second part of the siege, the defense of the ancient Aurelian wall. It lasted nine days, much to the defenders’ surprise. For all knew that Rome was lost. Yet the defenders seemed to fight even harder at this point. To explain this apparent contradiction, Trevelyan observes:
But the Italian character has in it something beyond the reasonable, and, when all was lost, the idea of perishing with the murdered Republic seemed to fortify the morale and brace the nerves of the tired men, whose conduct became now more uniformly heroic than it had been during the fortnight past, when it was still possible to indulge a shadowy hope. An English army might have held the bastions from which the Italians fled on the night of June 21-22, but an English army might well have capitulated if those bastions had been lost, seeing that there was no force in the wide world to come to their relief...If the Englishman does not know when he is beaten, the Italian sometimes knows it and does not care. (209)

Thus the final battles went—the French bombarding the defenses and the city with a rain of cannon balls while sappers crept through trenches to breach the walls—the Italian defenders fighting with their last reserves of strength and valor to hold off the inevitable. With the Villa Savorelli perilous, Garibaldi had now moved his headquarters to the Villa Spada, just behind the infantry stationed along the inside of the Aurelian Wall, and in front of the last Roman batteries firing from the platform of San Pietro in Montorio and the nearby Pino Hill. Before long, the Villa Spada itself, fired upon from both inside and outside the walls, was riddled with holes torn by cannon fire. The roof of San Pietro in Montorio collapsed, while most of the gunners on Pino Hill were killed or wounded. Still the defenders kept rebuilding the defenses as they collapsed, while the wounded, as soon as they were bandaged up, returned to their posts undaunted. This was what Mazzini, when he ordered that the defense should continue, had intended: rather than a final episode of ignominious flight, the last chapter of Rome’s defense would be dominated by death-defying courage and heroism.

As if to underline this message, on June 26, Anita Garibaldi, pregnant and disguised, appeared at the Villa Spada unannounced. Garibaldi, when he saw her, cried out and embraced her. Though he would have forbid her to come if he had known of her plan, he was overjoyed to see his companion in battle. She, and her death at the end of it, would become a major part of the legendary retreat from Rome that would follow in a few days.

Meantime, the French concentrated much of their fire on the Vascello, battering it day and night with cannon balls. Almost alone, its defenders under Giacomo Medici were holding off the final assault on the Porta San Pancrazio and full entry into the city. They continued to do so even after the main portion of the structure collapsed from the bombardment, and French infantry stormed the walls. At the same time, artillery shelled not only the main defenses of the Janiculum, but fired, as diversionary tactics from the main assault, on other sacred areas of the city. In addition to the destruction in Trastevere, considerable areas around the Piazza di Spagna were hit. Protests by foreign consuls about this attack on an international heritage fell on deaf ears. So did the dispatches of Margaret Fuller, who, already on May 27, had written about the bombardment that had started and the far worse she feared would come:
I shall not go till the last moment; my only fear is of France. I cannot think in any case there would be found men willing to damn themselves to latest posterity by bombarding Rome. Other cities they may treat thus, careless of destroying the innocent and helpless, the babe and old grandsire who cannot war against them. But Rome, precious inheritance of mankind—will they run the risk of marring her shrined treasures? Would they dare do it?
Two of the balls that struck St. Peter’s have been sent to Pius IX by his children, who find themselves so much less “beloved” than were the Austrians…(Letter XXX)

When the siege was over, Fuller wrote more about that later, fiercer bombardment—“The house where I lived was filled as early as the 20th [of June] with persons obliged to fly from the Piazza di Gesu, where the fiery rain fell thickest” and the terror felt by civilians:
The night of the 28th the effect was truly fearful, as they whizzed and burst near me. As many as thirty fell upon or near the Hotel de Russie, where Mr. Cass has his temporary abode. The roof of the studio in the pavilion, tenanted by Mr. Stermer, well known to the visitors of Rome for his highly-finished cabinet pictures, was torn to pieces. I sat alone in my much exposed apartment, thinking, “If one strikes me, I only hope it will kill me at once, and that God will transport my soul to some sphere where virtue and love are not tyrannized over by egotism and brute force, as in this.” (Letter XXXIII. Rome, July 6.)

Fuller’s fear was increased by the fact that her husband, Marchese Ossoli, had been put in charge of northern defenses near the Porta Popolo, another scene of fierce bombardments meant to panic Roman citizens.

In the face of all this, and the growing certainty that only days were left before the French would successfully breach the Aurelian Wall, Garibaldi and Mazzini engaged in yet another quarrel around June 27. As he had done before, the general urged that the government, with the army, should leave the capital and carry on the war in the mountains of central Italy or in the south (Scirocco maintains that Garibaldi’s plan, rejected by Gen. Roselli, was to lead about 1,000 troops in an attack on the French from the rear.). But Mazzini and his advisers insisted that the defense of the walls should continue to the bitter end. At this point, Garibaldi gave in to a rare emotional outburst, abandoned his command, and led his Legion away from the walls and into the city. Only the pleading of officers like Luciano Manara finally persuaded him to return. The return of Garibaldi and his Legion was made all the more dramatic that day by the donning of red shirts by the entire group. It was just in time for the final French assault.

On the night of June 29-30, after the Feast of St. Peter and Paul had been celebrated in the city with candles and fireworks, the last assault began. The French, trained in this sort of combat, methodically took over each point of resistance: the Casa Merluzzo bastion, now almost decimated, the Porta San Pancrazio, the almost demolished Villa Spada, all defended by the Italians fighting in hand-to-hand combat in the pitch-black night. Among those to die in these fierce battles was the young Bersaglieri named Morosini, an almost angelic 18-year-old often compared to St. Francis by his companions. Even the French, who captured him, were impressed by his demeanor, prompting General Oudinot to write to his mother about the noble way in which her son had died. Garibaldi fought like a man possessed, leaping to action as soon as he heard that the “ultima prova” had begun. Seeing his Italians fleeing before the French onslaught, he gathered a few men and stopped the French advance, inspiring the rest to return to the fighting once more. Emilio Dandolo saw his chief “spring forward with his drawn sword, shouting a popular hymn.” Unsparing of himself, he employed his sword to devastating effect, leading what became a grisly battle of Frenchmen and Italians fighting to the death in hand-to-hand combat over ground littered with dead bodies.

At dawn, the Italians still held on to what was left of the Aurelian Wall and a nearby road, but the French had captured almost all the rest. From their close-in positions, they could now launch their most furious cannonade. On the other side, the Italian cannons were now a mere memory, most lying broken among numerous dead bodies. Aware now that the city would fall in moments, Garibaldi recalled Medici and his defenders still holding out in the Vascello, and ordered them into the city. Though a few positions remained, including the Villa Spada defended by the Lombard Bersaglieri, it was clear that the end was near. Emilio Dandolo was inside the Spada for this last defense, and describes the terror of being in the interior of a place pounded by cannon ricocheting from the walls, the floor slippery with blood. He also described the death of his leader, Luciano Manara:
…he was standing at an open window, looking through his telescope at some of the enemy who were in the act of planting a cannon, when a shot from a carabine passed through his body. “I am a dead man,” he said, falling; “I commend my children to you.” (223)

Shortly after, Luciano Manara, having taken the last sacrament, again pleaded for his children to be raised “in the love of religion, and of their country.” Then to a weeping Dandolo he said his final words: “Does it indeed pain you so much that I die?” then added, “It grieves me also.” And finally, giving Dandolo his prized ring: “I will embrace your brother for you.” (Trevelyan, 224-25 )

There would be one final charge, by Garibaldi and his Legionnaires, against the advancing French positions, but it was futile in the end. Just before a truce was agreed to around noon, Garibaldi was called to the Capitol to discuss surrender. He agreed to leave his post for one hour and entered the Assembly covered in dust and blood, grieving at the news he had just heard, that his comrade Aguiar was dead. The Assembly wanted his advice on three options: surrender; die fighting in the streets; or take their government and army into the mountains. Garibaldi opted for the plan he had long urged, to take the government and army into the mountains. “Wherever we go, there will be Rome,” he said. Having given his opinion, he rode quickly back to the Janiculum. The Assembly debated, with Mazzini arguing for Garibaldi’s proposal. But only a few opted for such a course; the rest of the Assembly resolved to “cease from a defense that has become impossible, and remain at its post.” Protesting, Mazzini refused to take part in a surrender, and resigned. The Assembly then gave Garibaldi and Roselli “plenary powers in the territories of the Roman Republic,” a grant Garibaldi considered in force even years later. The agreed-upon date for the French entry into Rome was July 3.

Meantime, Garibaldi prepared to organize his army for retreat. Some 4,000 men, many against the wishes of mothers and lovers, would take the wild march with him. Many would desert, many would be captured, many would die, but their chief, amazingly, would escape to fight again. Among those to join him were the Swiss Gustav Hoffstetter, again risking his life for a country not his own, and, of course, Anita Garibaldi, who insisted, despite her husband's entreaties to return to Nice, that she was coming on that fatal march, her last.

Margaret Fuller, hanging on in what she had recently called “Undaunted Rome,” was one of those who watched the July 2 departure of Garibaldi, Anita with hair cropped and dressed in male garb, and the ragtag army of patriots that followed him out of Rome, to be hunted by armies of French, Austrians, Spanish, Tuscans, and Neapolitans seeking, above all, to kill him and destroy the last vestiges of resistance in Italy. It is the most moving description of a departing army I know of:
Toward the evening of Monday, the 2d of July, it was known that the French were preparing to cross the river and take possession of all the city. I went into the Corso with some friends; it was filled with citizens and military. The carriage was stopped by the crowd near the Doria palace; the lancers of Garibaldi galloped along in full career. I longed for Sir Walter Scott to be on earth again, and see them; all are light, athletic, resolute figures, many of the forms of the finest manly beauty of the South, all sparkling with its genius and ennobled by the resolute spirit, ready to dare, to do, to die. We followed them to the piazza of St. John Lateran. Never have I seen a sight so beautiful, so romantic, so sad…The sun was setting, the crescent moon rising, the flower of the Italian youth were marshalling in that solemn place. They had been driven from every other spot where they had offered their hearts as bulwarks of Italian independence; in this last strong-hold they had sacrificed hecatombs of their best and bravest in that cause; they must now go or remain prisoners and slaves. Where go, they knew not; for except distant Hungary there is not now a spot which would receive them, or where they can act as honor commands. They had all put on the beautiful dress of the Garibaldi legion, the tunic of bright red cloth, the Greek cap, or else round hat with Puritan plume. Their long hair was blown back from resolute faces; all looked full of courage. They had counted the cost before they entered on this perilous struggle; they had weighed life and all its material advantages against liberty, and made their election; they turned not back, nor flinched, at this bitter crisis. I saw the wounded, all that could go, laden upon their baggage cars; some were already pale and fainting, still they wished to go. I saw many youths, born to rich inheritance, carrying in a handkerchief all their worldly goods. The women were ready; their eyes too were resolved, if sad. The wife of Garibaldi followed him on horseback. He himself was distinguished by the white tunic; his look was entirely that of a hero of the Middle Ages—his face still young, for the excitements of his life, though so many, have all been youthful, and there is no fatigue upon his brow or cheek. Fall or stand, one sees in him a man engaged in the career for which he is adapted by nature. He went upon the parapet, and looked upon the road with a spy-glass, and, no obstruction being in sight, he turned his face for a moment back upon Rome, then led the way through the gate. Hard was the heart, stony and seared the eye, that had no tear for that moment. (Letter XXXIII, July 6, 1849)

What ensued, besides the inglorious entry into Rome of the French and the return of Pio Nono, was the legendary retreat of Garibaldi and his band of 4,000, now commemorated, in dozens of towns and villages where they found shelter, with statues of the hero of two worlds. An entire adventure in itself, it could be read as a modern thriller, complete with hairsbreadth escapes, tragic betrayals, and the rare courage of those who aided Garibaldi, his dwindling band, and his dying wife, usually at the risk of their own lives. Suffice it to say here that by 1850, Garibaldi was in New York, Mazzini was back in England, and Italians would have to wait another decade before one of them would, at long last, light the fire to end foreign rule in Italy. As for the Roman Republic, which had glowed so brightly, if briefly, in that Roman Spring, it would not be seen again for nearly one hundred years.

Lawrence DiStasi

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Roman Republic of 1849 (3: The Siege Begins, June 3)

Oudinot began his siege with deception. He wrote General Roselli on June 1 that though the armistice was over, he was deferring the attack on ‘the place’ (‘piazza’) until Monday, June 4. The gullible Roselli believed him, and, countering Garibaldi’s plans to fortify the outer defenses to high alert, toured the outposts of the Villa Pamfili assuring the troops that they could relax until Monday morning. With Garibaldi too ill on the night of June 2-3 (he had been wounded in the side on April 30 but swore his doctor to secret, private treatment) to urge vigilance, the defenders manning the Pamfili/Corsini outposts slept that night, the main point Oudinot targeted. At 3 AM, therefore, French troops penetrated the walls of the two villas with hardly a fight, and by the time Italian sentries fired their muskets, were pouring, wave after wave, into the Pamfili grounds. Half the 400 Italians there were captured quickly, while the other half tried to set a defense at Villa Corsini, closer to Rome’s walls. Reinforcements from the city helped them hold on, but French artillery and superior numbers soon drove the defenders down the hill to the Vascello, a villa shaped like the prow of a ship. By morning light on June 3rd, the critical Villa Corsini, without which Rome could barely be defended, was in enemy hands.

When he heard that Rome was under attack, Garibaldi rushed from his sick bed with his several officers—many in their twenties, most to lose their lives that day— to join his troops. Gathering his forces in the Piazza of St. Peter’s, he led them to the Porta Cavalleggieri, contemplating where, with Corsini now swarming with French, he could make a stand. All the bells of Rome were clanging the alarm, soldiers and their equipment flying everywhere, most headed for the Janiculum. Garibaldi with his Legion made it to the Porta San Pancrazio about five-thirty in the morning. Inside the walls, the Italian regiments were gathering to prepare for the attack; outside the walls, and opposite San Pancrazio stood the key to the entire battle—the Villa Corsini, four stories high, perched like a fortress commanding the entrance to the city—now in possession of the French. Garibaldi judged that it had to be retaken, no matter what the cost. The cost would be great that day, June 3, when so many martyrs of the siege of Rome would die. This was due in part to the way in which the Corsini had to be attacked—through a narrow gate and uphill 300 yards to a long staircase that allowed only a few soldiers at a time to run, and during which they were open targets for French sharpshooters. Even if the French had to yield the Corsini Villa, as they did several times that day, they could retire to the Pamfili grounds where a hollow provided cover for a new attack. With a force approaching 30,000 troops, they had ample reserves to do so. The Italian defenders under Colonel Galletti, meantime, had possession of the Vascello, at the bottom of the hill. They also had a battery at the Casa Merluzzo, left of the San Pancrazio gate, from which they could shell the Villa Corsini.

This became the crux of the battle on June 3, 1849. The Corsini windows, balconies and walls sprouted French soldiers firing at detachment after detachment of Garibaldi’s legionnaires dashing for the narrow, deadly entrance gate, filing through, and rushing up the narrow way to the villa. Then, the survivors of that deadly fire, if any,

would storm up the double staircase, gain the balcony, bayonet the French in the drawing-room, and stand for a few minutes masters of the villa. Often the charge failed half-way up, from sheer want of numbers. But several times the Corsini was carried, and held for awhile, against the concentrated fire of a whole army in the woods of the Pamfili beyond. On one of these occasions the Garibaldians piled up their dead comrades in the open loggias on the west side of the villa, and repulsed the French attacks from behind that barricade. (Trevelyan,175)

At 7:30 that morning, Garibaldi made his first announcement of several that day that the Corsini had been retaken. But it was soon lost again, and a new attack would begin. The losses on the Italian side were terrible: Garibaldi’s chief of staff, Daverio, was killed early. Angelo Masina was wounded and refused to go to the hospital until Garibaldi ordered him to; he was back in an hour with his arm bound in bandages. When the 900 Lombard Beraglieri finally arrived (they had been held, against Garibaldi’s plea for assistance, inside Rome by an order from the feckless General Roselli), Garibaldi sent one company to occupy the nearby Casa Giacometti, from which they could fire into the Corsini villa. Then he ordered most of the rest to capture the Corsini. Led by Luciano Manara and Enrico Dandolo, the Bersaglieri stormed the villa, only to be mowed down by the French firing from inside windows and behind protective walls. Rather than retreat, they took up positions and sought to trade fire in what was becoming a massacre. Enrico Dandolo was among the first to be killed. When Manara saw how hopeless his situation was, he ordered the retreat, but that turned out to be more fatal than the attack. As the Swiss volunteer Gustav Hoffstetter later recorded it:

And now as these defenceless men poured out of the garden, the deadly harvest began in earnest. At first I imagined that the numbers of men falling on their faces had merely stumbled in their haste over the roots of the vines. But their motionless bodies soon showed me the truth….(quoted in Trevelyan, 179)

Having lost some of his best soldiers, Garibaldi probably should have fallen back for an artillery bombardment (indeed, many commentators have criticized him for not having softened the French position before ordering the Bersaglieri to attack). In part he did. But then he indulged in what has been called a ‘piece of madness.’ Finding a reserve of Bersaglieri inside the walls, he asked for a small party to engage in a “difficult undertaking.” Though Emilio Dandolo, in charge, had just heard a rumor that his brother had been slain, he volunteered to lead the undertaking. He later wrote:

“Go,” said Garibaldi to me, “with twenty of your bravest men, and take Villa Corsini at the point of the bayonet.” Involuntarily I remained transfixed with astonishment — with twenty men to hurry forward to attack a position which two of our companies and the whole of Garibaldi's Legion, after unheard-of exertions, had failed to carry. . . .

But the 19-year-old Dandolo obeyed the order and charged towards the Corsini Villa. By the time his little band reached the entrance, only twelve men remained. His account continues:

.would twelve men do against a place occupied by several hundreds of the enemy ? I had nothing left but to stoop to that which more numerous forces had already done — give the signal to fire, and then retreat. When we had got half-way down the road, S and I were both struck in the thigh by the same ball. We returned to the Vascello, six in number, in a deplorable condition, and with the conviction that the really extraordinary courage which had just been so conspicuously and recklessly displayed would have no effect, beyond that of showing the French that Italians were still capable of fighting with temerity, whatever the fortune of war might be.

Dandolo, severely wounded and out of action, dragged himself from post to post that afternoon, seeking his older brother. No one had the courage to tell him the truth until he entered the Casa Giacometti and found Manara and Hoffstetter beside the dead body of his brother, Enrico. Hoffstetter stepped away, while the Colonel grasped Emilio’s hand:

“Do not seek your brother any more—it is now too late; I will be a brother to you.” The young man, sick with wounds and grief, fell fainting against Manara, who carried him out of the room in his arms. (Trevelyan, 181-82)

The afternoon then proceeded with a fierce cannonade by the Italians from the Casa Merluzzo and the walls. The effect was to make an absolute ruin of the Villa Corsini, its floors collapsing, the French trying to hold on. When fire from the French side slowed, Garibaldi ordered his last attack, with Masina’s lancers in the vanguard, followed by now-General Galletti and Masina himself with bandaged arm. The horsemen made it up the slope and followed Masina galloping up the steps of the Corsini. Behind them, Manara and Garibaldi led the infantry in clearing the last of the French from the Villa, and occupied it. Cheers erupted at the gate below, and a mad rush by citizens, artists, gunners, and stray infantrymen charged the villa in a race to glory. A defense was hastily prepared in expectation of the inevitable French counterattack, which was not long in coming. And though the mob defended the Villa with tenacity and courage, before long the overwhelming numbers of French broke through the defenses, and the retreat was called. The Villa Corsini could be taken by the Italians, but it could not be held. The most bitter casualty of that attack was Angelo Masina himself, abandoned in the confused retreat. His body, left lying a few yards from the steps he had charged on horseback, would remain there, his bleached, unburied bones to be recovered only after Rome fell.

Another renowned warrior would fall late that day: Goffredo Mameli, the 21-year-old poet of Genoa and author of the most famous hymn of the Risorgimento, Fratelli d’Italia (music by Michele Novaro). He was wounded in one last desperate charge against the Corsini ordered by Garibaldi, one which Mameli, who had served till then as adjutant, begged to join. He did, and was wounded in the knee, lay for a month trying to recover, and died from the gangrene that had set in. That last attack also failed, leaving the French in possession of the high ground outside the walls, and Garibaldi’s men in possession of the Casa Giacometti and the Vascello. Without the high ground, as everyone knew, Rome’s fate was sealed.

About 1,000 Italians lost their lives in that fierce opening battle, 30 officers and 200 soldiers from Garibaldi’s legion alone. Manara’s Lombard Bersaglieri, often called the flower of northern Italy, also estimated their losses at 200. And though many conceded that Garibaldi himself had made several mistakes (he should have prepared his attacks with more cannon fire), he emerged from the June 3rd battle more revered than ever. He had given Italians a lesson in heroism, had inspired them to a day of martyrdom that would bear fruit, if not in 1849, then in the next decade. As Alfonso Scirocco notes, that heroic defense astonished Europe, turning “June 3 into the first of several events that made it increasingly difficult to reverse the momentum toward national unification” (Garibaldi, 165). It was this that Mazzini understood, and in the month of fighting that followed, as more Italians lost their lives in what all knew was a noble but futile defense of the indefensible, the inspiration they gave to the rest of Italy would prove to be enduring, invaluable. As Trevelyan notes:

Some patriots, indeed, regretted that the defence of Rome was ever made since it was so spendthrift of Italy's treasure; yet the treasure was profitably spent. Because men remembered and told with pride and anguish the story of the uncalculating devotion of those young lives in this hopeless struggle, there grew up, as the years went by, an unconquer-
able purpose in the whole nation to have their capital: there rose that wild cry of the heart — Roma, o Morte!— (192)

Lawrence DiStasi

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Roman Republic of 1849 (2: "We Are Again Romans")

The first test came quickly, on April 30. The Italian defenders numbered around 7,000 men: 2500 regular Papal troops and Carabinieri (both of whom had defected to the revolution); Garibaldi’s First Italian Legion, now about 1300 men; some 1400 men from Roman volunteer regiments; and an assortment of inexperienced citizens, including 300 students, about 1,000 National Guards, and several hundred unattached civilians armed with whatever they could find. Garibaldi had been put in charge of defending the Janiculum—Rome’s ‘eighth’ hill and its highest, most crucial defense point, being west of the Tiber and bordering the Trastevere district, but inside the city walls. Should it fall, the French attackers could bombard the city below at their leisure. It should be added that other citizens continually helped with building ramparts and aiding the wounded, particularly the revolutionary Princess Cristina Belgioioso, who took charge of the hospitals. One of her first acts was to put Margaret Fuller, whom she had met previously, in charge of the Fate Bene Fratelli hospital sited on an island in the Tiber River.

On the other side were the French—also with about 7,000 fully-equipped troops (a rearguard was left behind to protect Oudinot’s communications), confident that with the first cannonade and charge by the best army in the world, Rome’s defenses would melt like so much butter. Indeed, so confident were the invaders that they brought field artillery but no heavyweight siege-guns or scaling ladders. Their plan was to enter by the Porta Pertusa, unaware that that gate no longer existed (some recent scholarship suggests that the French attack had focused on the Porta Cavalleggieri all along). Garibaldi, meantime, had been zealous in setting up his defenses. He saw that, due to the height of the ground outside the walls, batteries set up there could easily bombard defenders below to shreds. So he set up his men outside the crucial San Pancrazio gate, on the high ground of the Villa Corsini and the Pamfili Villa and gardens behind it. Thus, when General Oudinot’s forces reached the non-existent Pertusa gate, they had to change plans and attack the Porta Cavalleggieri further south. This meant they had to move down a hill and over a thousand yards of open country—easily fired upon by National Guard troops on the wall and Roman batteries near St. Peter’s. By around noon, the initial French attack was stalled, though not yet driven away.

Now it was Garibaldi’s turn. Watching from his high position at the Corsini Villa, he never hesitated, but took the offensive to turn the initial rebuff of the French into a defeat in the open field. To do so, however, his soldiers had to charge down from the Pamfili Gardens and cross a walled lane connecting the Porta San Pancrazio with the main road to Civitavecchia. Unfortunately, coming up this lane were about 1,000 French infantry. Garibaldi’s students and artists suddenly found themselves fighting at close quarters with an army of veterans, and soon had to retreat. Some of Garibaldi’s Legion, under the artist Nino Costa, managed to set up a defense nearby and stalled the French advance. But the situation was perilous: both Corsini and Pamfili were being overrun, and their loss would be devastating. Garibaldi sent for reinforcements—about 800 volunteers under Colonel Galletti, still smarting from the previous year’s defeat in Lombardy. This time, however, the odds were better and, led by Garibaldi and Galletti, the Italian Legion charged the French to recapture the Corsini Villa and Pamfili Gardens. Here is how Trevelyan describes it:
Swarming over the Corsini hill, and across the little stream and valley that divide it from the Pamfili grounds, the Legionaries came crashing through the groves. The Garibaldian officers, ‘the tigers of Montevideo,’ with long beards, and hair that curled over their shoulders, were singled out to the enemy’s marksmen by red blouses, falling almost to the knees. This was the day that they had waited for so long in exile, this the place towards which they had sailed so far across the ocean. Behind them Italy came following on. And above the tide of shouting youths, drunk with their first hot draught of war, rose Garibaldi on his horse, majestic and calm as he always looked, but most of all in the fury of battle, the folds of his white American poncho floating off his shoulders for a flag of onset. (132)

The Italians managed to relieve Costa as he was about to be overrun, and soon pushed the French off the two hill positions, pursued them down into nearby vineyards, and “after fierce struggling, body to body, with guns, and hands, and bayonets, put the French to flight.” Nor was that all. The main body of the French was so slow in retreating that nearly 400 were taken prisoner. Coupled with the 500 French soldiers killed that day, this capture of prisoners made the rout—Oudinot and his ‘invincible’ army were fleeing rapidly towards Civitavecchia—both complete and sweet. And the people of Rome knew it:
That night the city was illuminated, the streets were filled with shouting and triumphant crowds, and there was scarcely a window in the poorest and narrowest alley of the mediaeval slums that did not show its candle. It was no vulgar conquest which they celebrated. After long centuries of disgrace, this people had recovered its self-respect, and from the highest to the lowest ranks men felt, “We are again Romans.” (Trevelyan, 134)

Sadly, Garibaldi’s superiors did not understand, or did not wish to understand the situation he had presented them with. The French were in full retreat, on unfamiliar ground. They must be pursued, he argued, and driven into the sea; the whole of Italy could be aroused. But Mazzini gave greater weight to two considerations. First, imposing a total defeat on the French might be satisfying, but it would probably further alienate Louis Napoleon, and Mazzini still hoped that the French would come to their senses and aid a fellow republic fighting for liberty. Second, Rome’s leaders worried about the other armies closing in on them—King Ferdinand’s Neapolitan army advancing from the south, and the Austrian forces driving down from the north. If Garibaldi were to march forty miles to Civitavecchia, and get caught there in a drawn-out battle, Rome would be left without her most capable defender. It was the first, but not the last quarrel that would divide the two titans of Italian unification. In the end, the soldier had to yield to the statesman. And to demonstrate their difference from the despots ruling elsewhere, the Roman leaders ordered that their French prisoners get medical care and a tour of the city before being released. In response, the French reluctantly released some of their prisoners, including the priest, Ugo Bassi, who had been captured administering the last rites to fallen Romans.

Now the Roman forces had to turn to the threat from the south. King Ferdinand, with an army of 10,000 men, was camped a mere 20 miles from Rome near two cities in the Alban Hills, Frascati and Albano. Still fearing an attack from the French, Rome’s military leadership under General Avezzana decided it could only spare some 2300 soldiers, mostly Garibaldi’s Legion, some students and assorted volunteers, and one experienced troop, Luciano Manara’s Lombard Bersaglieri. The latter had fought the previous year in the famous “five days” of Milan, endured the subsequent loss to the Austrians, and had then headed to Rome; stopped at Civitavecchia by the French, they were only able to gain passage by promising not to engage in the fight. Though they honored their pledge by staying out of the April 30 battle, they were now eager to show what they were made of.

Garibaldi quickly saw that it was foolhardy to make a frontal attack on such a large force, so he chose to employ his guerrilla tactics—to so harass Ferdinand’s army that it could not move on Rome. Marching at night, Garibaldi on May 4 and 5 feinted north from Tivoli, before he turned south to his real target, Palestrina, where he set up headquarters on May 7. By now aware of what they were faced with, the Neapolitans sent General Lanza and Colonel Novi to dislodge the “bandit” hampering their advance. But from his high observation point, the guerrilla leader saw the columns advancing on him, and rather than waiting to be attacked, sent Manara’s Bersaglieri and another troop to attack first. So shocked were the Neapolitans by Garibaldi’s offensive that the battle was over in three hours, with the enemy in full flight—Lanza’s right wing abandoning towns right and left and not stopping till they got near enough to Ferdinand’s headquarters on the Alban lake to feel safe; Novi’s left wing retreating first to Colonna and then to Frascati. Captured prisoners made it clear that Garibaldi’s reputation as a “devil” had preceded him; the prisoners begged for their lives, and in despair over the lack of protection given them on their papal crusade, “cried out in their dialect, ‘Managgia Pio Nono.’” (Trevelyan, 144)

Once again, however, Rome’s leaders stopped Garibaldi’s advance and recalled him to Rome, fearing a new move by General Oudinot. They were mistaken. Oudinot was awaiting reinforcements that would swell his army to 40,000 men. To disguise this intention, Louis Napoleon sent Ferdinand de Lesseps (of later Suez Canal fame) as an envoy, allegedly to try to arrange a peace between Roman leaders and Pius IX. On May 17, the Assembly and the Triumvirate agreed to halt hostilities to give de Lesseps time to fashion such an agreement. But what they really did was give the French time—first for Oudinot to get his reinforcements; and then for Louis Napoleon to await elections that would increase the power of French Catholics in Paris necessary to overwhelm objections from the Left. Both would prove fatal to the Roman Republic’s survival.

For the moment, though, a truce reigned and Garibaldi took advantage of it by ordering red shirts for all of his legionnaires (previously, only his officers had them). It was a master stroke in the long run for the red shirt became not only a symbol of the sacred cause of Italian unification, but also a moral symbol of camaraderie for those who took part in apparently hopeless battles. The triumvirate also took advantage of the truce to renew their attempt to try to drive King Bomba’s army out of Roman territory. Though they made Garibaldi a General of Division commanding part of the army, they still kept him subservient to the Roman, General Roselli, who became Commander-in-Chief. This, too, would have nearly disastrous consequences because Roselli, though decent, was a wholly conventional, timid commander. Thus the Roman army moving south now combined conventional and guerrilla forces that never quite jelled. As Trevelyan describes it:
The army moved with the uncomfortable and jerky motion of a man with an excitable dog on a leash; Garibaldi dashed about in front locating and engaging the enemy, and then was forced to wait till Roselli came sulkily lumbering up with the bulk of the troops. (153)

The upshot was that though he had a force five times the one Garibaldi had led earlier, Roselli chose to avoid a direct attack, and harass the enemy flanks once again.

The picture was of a lumbering army moving slowly across the plain, with Garibaldi racing ahead to see what the enemy were up to. It turned out that, intimidated by an army as large as his own, King Bomba was in full retreat. To Garibaldi, the only danger was that the enemy would escape. Taking the initiative, he decided to try to cut off the King’s retreat by attacking him with an advance guard, simultaneously calling for Roselli to rush up quickly to finish the job. It was a breach of discipline, but absolutely justified in his mind. With 2000 soldiers, many of them his trusted legionnaires, he could disrupt the enemy’s retreat and, once joined by the main force, strike a decisive blow for Rome, and possibly for all of Italy.

Garibaldi placed his advance force outside Velletri. The main engagement there demonstrated his courage and will under any conditions. A troop of Angelo Masina’s mounted lancers, pursuing enemy soldiers ahead of them, suddenly ran into a large column of enemy cavalry. With Masina absent at another post, his young cavaliers turned and raced back towards where Garibaldi was watching, with the enemy in hot pursuit. So angered was the General by this retreat that he, alongside the giant Aguiar, sat on horseback like a statue, blocking the road. Unable to halt or turn their own horses, the cavaliers smashed into the two immovable objects, and all went down in a jumble, Garibaldi at the bottom. Fortunately, a group of young Legionnaires were fighting nearby, and rescued their chief. Suddenly, Ferdinand's troops realized that they were in the middle of the “red devil’s” position, caught in opposing fire. They fled, leaving thirty prisoners, and with Masina's lancers in pursuit, were driven up into the town of Velletri. Before even the first of Roselli’s lumbering reinforcements began to appear, Garibaldi’s men were entrenched, laying siege to the town.

When the Commander-in-Chief arrived, however, far from rejoicing in Garibaldi’s courage and valor, he focused on his subordinate’s breach of discipline in beginning the battle without him. Sulking, he refused to attack that evening, or position troops, as Garibaldi suggested, to stop the enemy retreat. Ferdinand’s army was thus able to take advantage of the night, steal out of the southern gate of Velletri, and retreat down the road towards safety. When, early next morning, some of the Roman forces climbed into the town to reconnoiter, they found the streets empty, until the townspeople emerged, overjoyed at their deliverance.

Garibaldi now sensed that King Ferdinand’s rule would not survive an invasion and urged his superiors to authorize an all-out attack. It was a repeat of the French situation. Mazzini, worried about the Austrians, who had just seized Bologna and were advancing towards Rome, recalled Roselli and half the army, allowing Garibaldi, undermanned, to pursue Ferdinand as far as he could. Garibaldi’s troops were welcomed in town after town as deliverers until they crossed into Neapolitan territory at a town called Rocca d’Arce. The townspeople had all fled, the village empty. Instead of pillaging, however, Garibaldi ordered his forces to sit down in the square and rest. Emilio Dandolo was in that group (Count Dandolo was a member of the Lombard Bersaglieri and wrote a seminal account of his experiences later) and described it as follows:
“..when the terrified inhabitants observed from the surrounding heights this admirable spirit of order and self-restraint, they hurried down to welcome us, threw open their houses and shops, and in a few minutes the whole village had regained its accustomed activity. They then related to us how many superstitious fables the Neapolitans had spread among them; according to which we were so many ogres let loose by the devil, to devour children and burn down houses…” (Dandolo, quoted in Trevelyan, 158)

Instead of allowing their Achilles to pursue his advantage and possibly bring the whole of southern Italy into the uprising (Garibaldi always believed this would have happened), however, the Triumvirs once again recalled him to Rome to fend off the attack by the Austrians they feared was imminent. With no choice but to obey, Garibaldi re-entered Rome at the end of May, followed by his exhausted troops between May 30 and June 2. With Rome secure, all hoped they would get a long-deserved rest, but it was not to be. Neither was the strategy Garibaldi favored: guerrilla war in the mountains and valleys throughout the country. As Trevelyan puts it:
Mazzini’s dream was to be realized instead—the fiery martyrdom of the Republic in one supreme scene of defiance and death. (160)

For General Oudinot’s reinforcements had now arrived, and the treacherous siege of Rome by 30,000 French regulars was about to begin (treacherous, because on the very day de Lesseps had signed a treaty with the Triumvirs agreeing that the French would protect Rome from Austria and Naples, Oudinot was outside Rome beginning his siege.)

Lawrence DiStasi