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“The country now stands upon the threshold of the fulfilment of its wishes.
The Address proposed by the moderate party in the Diet under Herr Deak, demanded the immediate restoration of their Constitution. The Constitution of February, 1861, had been suspended in September last year, and the Hungarians had in fact refused to accept it. The Address states :
The promises and avowals contained in the gracious rescript which your Majesty has lately deigned to send us in answer to our second address, do not allay our apprehensions, for we had petitioned for the immediate restitution of our Constitution and the continuity of right, and our request has not been fulfilled by the Royal rescript. All that is not positively denied us therein is made dependent upon time and conditions ; but it is not only incompatible with our Constitution, but also contrary to the fundamental principles of legality and constitutionalism, to delay the execution of existing laws, or to make the support of them dependent upon conditions. . .. We respectfully pray your Majesty not to make the great work of a satisfactory arrangement impossible by a postponement of the restitution of our Constitution and the recognition of the continuity of right. . . . As long as we are without a Constitution, we cannot exercise the legitimate right of legislation. The adjustment of the pending difficulties between the Monarch and the nation can only be arrived at upon the basis of the Constitution itself. . . . Absolute authority on one side, and on the other a nation deprived of its Constitutional liberties, can never come to a satisfactory and durable understanding. ... Much has to be done, and done speedily, for there is no time for delay. . . . We have repeatedly petitioned your Majesty in favour of our fellow-countrymen imprisoned or exiled for political offences, but, unhappily, our petitions have been without avail. ... May your Majesty graciously remember, that by the Pragmatic Sanction, the succession to the throne was made conditional upon the support of the laws and Constitution of the nation. .. We have hailed with joy the resolution of your Majesty to rule constitutionally in all your dominions. . :. We are convinced that this is the only way in which your Majesty can increase the power and influence of the Empire, and the security of the Throne.”
During the debate one of the deputies, Herr Horvath said:
“Two eventualities are before us - either Austria refuses to restore our independent State organization, and then we can treat no longer, but retire, leaving the responsibility of the consequences to others; or Austria may awake to a sense of self-preservation, and learn to realize that Hungary, bound alone by the bond of sympathy, is of far more real strength to Austria than Hungary, however securely chained, fretting and chafing at her fetters. Austria may learn at last to know that with this nation jealousy and mistrust cease the moment she sees the object of her care in safety, and its future secured. . . . The dynasty is at last
persuading itself that the consolidation of the Hungarian State and the Regal throne of Hungary, is a question of life or death, not only for the Monarchy, but even for itself. . . . Let Austria, in a right appreciation of her own interests, fulfil the just demands of Hungary, and we have no choice but to make peace with Austria, for she will have ceased to be our enemy."
Bill empowering the Government to raise money "for the defence of the State”-Change
of Ministry-Volunteer Corps formed - Commencement of hostilities between Italy and Austria-Battle of Custozza-Naval combat off Lissa—Operations of the Volunteers under Garibaldi — The Italian army again crosses the Po-Armistice-Letter from the French Emperor to the King of Italy— Treaty of Peace between Italy and Austria – Result of the plebiscite in Venetia—Reply of the King to Venetian deputation-Baron Ricasoli's Circular to the Prefects-Opening of the Session of the
Italian Parliament-Speech of the King. SPAIN.-Military Insurrection in Madrid. DANUBIAN PRINCIPALITIES.- Revolution in the Principalities-Abdication of Prince
Couza—Prince Charles of Hohenzollern elected Hospodar. CANADA.-Fenian Invasion of Canada-Opening of the Canadian Legislature at
Ottawa-Speech of the Governor-General.
In the sitting of the Chamber of Deputies at the end of April, Signor Scialoja, the Minister of Finance, introduced a short Bill for conferring upon the Government despotic power to raise money for a limited period "for the defence of the State.” He said:
“The attitude of a neighbouring Power, and the menacing character of its warlike preparations, have imposed on the King's Government the necessity of taking all measures that may be necessary for the defence of the State. The Chamber doubtless understands that this condition of affairs, instead of admitting of that reduction of the public expenses which we had hoped to effect, demands, on the contrary, extraordinary and very considerable additional expenditure. The Chamber must also bear in mind the general condition of credit, which could not fail to be affected by the sudden changes of general politics and the uncertainties by which they are accompanied. The limited arrangements of the Budget proposed by me at the time when I spoke of the general condition of the finances, are no longer sufficient to meet the wants of the country: On the other hand, it is impossible to meet all the demands which may arise from our exceptional position with the ordinary resources. It consequently becomes necessary to adopt measures which the approaching course of events shall indicate as the most practical and the most immediately effective. The Government of the King, therefore, departing from its usual course, asks the Chamber to confer upon it the extraordinary powers comprised in the Bill which I now submit."
The Bill, which consisted of a single article, was unanimously adopted, and was in the following terms :-“Until the end of July, 1866, the Chamber gives power to the Government of the King to order any expenditure necessary for the defence of the State, and to provide for the wants of the Treasury by extraordinary means, maintaining at the same time the arrangements of such taxes as have been voted or shall be voted by Parliament.”
Not long afterwards a change of ministry took place, and a new Cabinet was formed, of which Baron Ricasoli was the head.
The most strenuous efforts were made to increase the numbers and efficiency of the army, and a Volunteer corps was formed, of which the command was given to Garibaldi. Nothing could exceed the enthusiasm with which the prospect of a war with Austria was hailed by all classes in the country. For this there was no other reason or pretext than the determination to free Venetia from the grasp of the stranger, and set Italy free" from the Alps to the Adriatic.". But the reason was felt to be all-sufficient, and the opportunity afforded by the approaching rupture between Austria and Prussia, of which we have already detailed the causes and issue, was eagerly seized upon to effect the great object of Italian aspirations, which was the expulsion of the hated Austrian dominion from every part of Italian soil.
A formal declaration of war against Austria was issued by the King of Prussia on the 18th of June, and by the King of Italy two days afterwards. Baron Ricasoli made a speech in the Chambers in which he announced, amidst tumultuous applause, “the Kingdom of Italy has declared war against the Empire of Austria '.” The King issued an order of the day to the army, in which he said, “ Austria, by arming on our frontiers, incites us to
In my name, and in that of the nation, I call you to arms.
The commencement of hostilities was fixed for the 23rd of June, and for a few days previously the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd corps of the army, under the immediate command of the King, with a cavalry
I Before the commencement of the war, the Austrian army in the Tyrol, Istria, and Venetia was distributed as follows :In the 'Tyrol
12,000 In Istria
of the army
division, had been pushed forward to the frontier, the general head-quarters being at Canneto. The King proceeded to Goito and ordered his troops to cross the Mincio on the morning of the 23rd. General della Marmora says, in his official report of the battle :
“This entry upon the territory occupied by the enemy was effected at all points, without resistance, and almost without an encounter. The cavalry division alone met, on the numerous roads leading from the Mincio to the plains of Verona, some small patrols of whom they made some prisoners.
“The complete absence of the enemy's forces from the plain of Verona confirmed the general tenour of our information, according to which the Austrian troops were principally concentrated behind the Adige, and that they had abandoned
any idea of defending the territory between this river and the Mincio. Consequently the chief command of the army determined to advance boldly into the territory between the fortresses of Verona, Peschiera, and Mantua, separate one from the other, and take up a strong position between the plain of Villafranca and the group of hills between Valeggio, Sommacampagna, and Castelnuovo, which would assist the successive development of the projected operations.”
The 3rd corps first came into conflict with the enemy a little beyond Villafranca, where it was attacked by the Austrian cavalry, but succeeded in maintaining its position. The rest of the army was not so fortunate, and General della Marmora frankly admitted its defeat. He says in his report:
“But matters did not progress so favourably on the heights. When the Cerale and Sirtori divisions, having left their positions of Monzambano and Valeggio, entered the narrow and tortuous roads which they had to take in order to reach their destination of Castelnuovo and Sona, they encountered formidable positions occupied by powerful lines of troops and numerous artillery. They took up a position on the lateral heights, holding a line passing through the heights of Montevento and Santa Lucio del Trone, which should not be confounded with Santa Lucia di Verona.
“The Brignone division, which encountered less obstacles in its march, reached Custozza without resistance, but found the opposite heights of Berittara occupied by the Austrians. A sharp cannonade commenced between the two lines, in which the enemy had a great advantage in numbers and position. Our attack was therefore arrested, the enemy himself assumed the offensive, and it is our defence of the positions eventually occupied which forms the principal feature of the fierce contest of the day.
“It is not now possible for me to enter into particulars of the various phases of the battle The contest was long and honourable to our arms, but the constant arrival of reinforcements on the enemy's side, the increasing number of guns with which they covered the heights in the occupation of their troops, and above all, the fatigue of the troops, who had been marching since the
morning, or fighting under a burning sun, decided the day against
It was not until they had sustained serious losses, that the Cerale and Brignone divisions first, and subsequently the Sirtori division, the flanks of which were uncovered, fell back, the 1st and 3rd on Valeggio, and the 2nd on Molini di Volta.
“ The retreat was effected without disorder, owing to the measures taken by Generals Durando and Pianelli.”
The Austrian army was under the command of the Archduke Albert, and he thus describes the final and successful attack upon Custozza, which compelled the Italians to retreat:
“Between 1 and 3 in the afternoon, a brigade of the 5th Corps carried the Monte Vento. The two others, after a most obstinate struggle, obtained possession of Santa Lucia and of Monte Mamaor. The reserve division had arrived during the time at Salionzo, and pushed on towards Valeggio. In spite of all the efforts of the 9th and the 7th corps, they had not succeeded up to 3 o'clock in the afternoon in taking Custozza. I then granted to our troops, exhausted by the burning heat and their continued exertions, a momentary rest, and I afterwards gave orders that the 7th Corps d'Armée, reinforced by a brigade of the 5th corps, should make a final attempt to carry Custozza, which was defended by the enemy with obstinacy and with much bravery. But before even my order had reached it, the 7th corps, effectively supported by a well-sustained fire from the guns of the 9th corps, placed at Casa del Sole, had obtained possession of Monte Arabita and of Belvedore. There then remained but the difficult task of taking Custozza and Monte Torre, at the same time resisting the continual and violent attacks of the enemy against the 9th corps at Somma Campagna and at Casa del Sole. The enemy, headed by the Princes Humbert and Amadeus, endeavoured with their troops d'élite to advance to Staffalo, and to hold Custozza; but the 9th corps repulsed vigorously every attack, and finally, towards 7 o'clock in the evening, the 7th corps, supported by the brigade of the 5th corps, succeeded in taking possession of Custozza.”
The Italian army, driven back by the Austrians, recrossed the Mincio, and burnt the bridge at Valeggio. It then concentrated itself behind the Oglio'.
The news of the victory at Custozza was received with great enthusiasm in Austria, and General Benedek issued an order of the day to his troops in which he said with, alas ! little gift of prophecy :-"Soldiers of the Imperial Army of the North ! – You will hail this news with joy, and go forth to the approaching strife with increased enthusiasm ; so that we shall soon inscribe on the same shield a new and glorious battle name, and announce to the Emperor a victory from the north also, for which your martial ardour is longing, and which your valour and devotion will win, to the cry of Long live the Emperor!!”
i The total loss of the Italians in the battle of Custozza was 720 killed, 3112 wounded, and 1335 prisoners and missing. Amongst the killed were 69 officers.