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March 4, 2011

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Page 8 POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 4, 2011 After June 3, the long slog began. In essence, the Ital- ian forces -- whose ranks had been decimated attack- ing the Corsini -- dug in to hold the Janiculum against a siege directed by French General Vaillant. The Gen- eral proceeded to take inch by inch the ground where infantry could attack from trenches edging always closer to Rome's walls, and sappers could finish the job. From the Corsini, French batteries aimed their fire at the defenders, but also bom- barded the nearby Traste- vere. This only enraged the citizens more, leading them to hurl oaths at the man they held responsible:" The citizens, as they grew accustomed to the bombard- ment, greeted each projectile with the cry : 'Ecco un Pio Nono !" -- 'There goes another Pio Nono I' 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 two parts: June 4 through June 21, and June 22 through June 30. In the first, night raids from both sides at- tempted to breach enemy defenses, but for the most part came to little. Against all odds, Garibaldi's defend- ers were holding on to places like the Casa Giacometti and the Vascello, outside the walls. But the walls them- selves were under a fierce bombardment and would go at any moment. Garibaldi, meanwhile, headquartered in the' Villa SavoreIli, wrote to Anita, safe, he thought, in Nice (she never received this letter, already en route, pregnant, to rejoin him in Rome): 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 cen- tury of common existence. (Trevelyan, 205) Even as he was writing, however, the French had al- ready captured the Central Bastion and forced a breach through the outer walls. They were now inside Rome. Mazzini and other officials, seeing the enemy on the The Roman Republic of 1849 PART FOUR: Wherever We Go, There Will be Rome by Lawrence DiStasi The Post-Gazette is glad to present its readers with a four-part series written by Lawrence DiStasi and originally published in L'Italo-Americano. The series covers the history behind Italy's unification, which marks Anita Garibaldi Statue. walls, ordered Garibaldi to attack and retake the cru- cial bastions. Garibaldi re- fused, arguing that such an attempt would lead to a mas- sacre worse than the one on June 3. Yet though he wrote Mazzini that he "considered Rome as fallen," he contin- ued the defense by withdraw- ing his forces to the inner Aurelian wall, entrusting the defense of the Vascello outside to Giacomo Medici, who would hold it to the bit- ter end. Those who expected the Janiculum to fall that night of June 21-22 were surprised to find that it still held. Then began the second part of the siege, the defense of the ancient Aurelian wall. It lasted nine days, much to everyone's surprise, for all knew that Rome was lost. Yet the Romans seemed to fight even harder at this point. Trevelyan comments: But the Italian character has in it something beyond the reasonable, and, when all was lost, the idea of perish- ing with the murdered Repub- lic seemed to fortify the morale and brace the nerves of the tired men, whose conduct became now more uniformly heroic than it had been dur- ing the fortnight past, when it was still possible to indulge a shadowy hope ... 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 with a rain of its 150  anniversary this year. cannon balls -- the Italians fighting with their last re- serves of strength to hold off the inevitable. With the Villa Savorelli perilous, Garibaldi had moved his headquarters to the Villa Spada, just behind the infan- try at the Aurelian Wail, and in front of the last Roman batteries firing from San Pietro in Montorio and-the nearby Pino Hill. Soon, the Villa Spada itself was riddled with cannon holes. 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, while the wounded, as soon as they were bandaged up, returned to their posts. This was what Mazzini had intended: rather than a finale of ignominious flight, the last song of the Republic's defense would ring with death-defying cour- age and heroism. As if to underline this mes- sage, on June 26, Anita Garibaldi, pregnant and disguised, appeared at the Villa Spada. Garibaldi, when he saw her, embraced her saying: "We have another soldier to fight for Rome." Though he would have forbid her to come, he was over- joyed to see her. 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. Meahtime, the French bat- tered the Vascello, whose defenders still held off the final assault on the Porta San Pancrazio and full entry into the city. More frighten- ing, French artillery had been shelling northern areas of the city, outside the Porta del Popolo, as a diver- sion from the main assault, and to panic residents. Areas around the Piazza di Spagna were hit, and, as Margaret Fuller noted, "several bombs have fallen on the chief hospital, and the Capitol LAWnENCE DISTAsI Mal Occhio: The Underside of Vision "..a classic of Italian American literature." Robert Viscusi, Wolfe Institute, Brooklyn College THE BIG BOOK OF ITALIAN AMERICAN CULTURE $14.95 (saveS5.) "...a book to give everyone on your list: turning each page is like opening a series of smal! nested boxes, each containing a small jewel." Maria Gloria, L'Italo Americano $15.95 I! i0000atlaNI! Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment During World War I $21.95 "DiStasi is one of our most precious public intellectuals... This is the part of the Italian American story you won't see on The Sopranos." Ishmael Reed, University of California at Berkeley TO ORDER: send book price plus $3.50 S&H to: Sanniti Publications P.O. Box 533, Bolinas, CA 94924 or email: Luciano Manaral evidently is especially aimed at" (Letter XXXIII, 6/21/ 1849). In the face of all this, and the growing certainty that the French would shortly breach the Aurelian Wall, Garibaldi and Mazzini engaged in yet another quarrel. Garibaldi again urged that the government, with the army, should leave the capital and carry on the war in the mountains or in the south (he had earlier proposed that he lead 1,000 troops to attack the French rear, also rejected). But Mazzini and his advisers in- sisted that the defense of the walls continue to the bitter end. At this point, Garibaldi gave in to a rare emotional outburst and removed his Legion into the city. Only the pleading of now chief-of-staff Luciano Manara finally per- suaded 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, just in time for the final French assault. On the night of June 29- 30, after the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul had been celebrated in the city, .the assault began. The French methodically overwhelmed each point of resistance: the Casa Merluzzo bastion, the Porta San Pancrazio, several villas, all defended by Ital- ians fighting in hand-to- hand combat in the pitch- black night. Garibaldi was a demon, leaping to action as soon as he heard that the "ultima prova" had begun. Seeing his Italians fleeing before the French on- slaught, he gathered a few men and stopped the French advance, inspiring the rest to return to the fighting. Emilio Dandolo saw his chief "spring forward with his drawn sword, shouting a popular hymn." At dawn, the Italians still clung to what was left of the Aurelian Wall, 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. Aware that the city would fail in moments, Garibaldi re- called the defenders of the Vascello, still fighting, and ordered them into the city. Though a few positions still held, including the Villa Spada defended by the Lombard Bersaglieri, it was evident that the end was near. Emilio Dandolo was inside the Spada for this last defense, and describes the terror of being in the inte- rior of a building pounded by cannon ricocheting from the walls, the floor slippery with blood. He also describes the death of his comrade, 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 com- mend my children to you.  Shortly after, Manara again pleaded for his chil- dren to be raised "in the love of religion, and of their country." Then to a weeping Dandolo, he said: "Does it ind.eed pain you so much that I die?" then added, "It grieves me also." Finally, giving Dandolo his prized ring: "I go to rejoin your brother; I will embrace him for you." (Dandolo letter to Carmelita F6 Manara) There would be one final charge, by Garibaldi and his legionnaires, against the advancing French, but it was futile. As a truce was agreed to around noon of June 30, 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 again opted to take the fight into the mountains. "Wher- ever 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 Gari- baldi's proposal. But only a few agreed; for the rest, the Assembly resolved to "cease from a defense that has become impossible, and remain at its post." Mazzini refused to take part in sur- render, and resigned. The Assembly then gave Gari- baldi and Roselli "plenary powers in the territories of the Roman Republic," a grant he considered in force even years later. The eigreed-upon date for the French entry into Rome was July 3. Meantime, Garibaldi orga- nized the survivors for retreat. Some 4,000 volun- teers would take the wild march with him. Many would desert, or be captured, or die, but their chief, amaz- ingly, would escape to fight another day. Among those joining him were Gustav Hoffstetter, again risking his life for a country not his own, and Anita Garibaldi, who insisted, despite her husband's entreaties, that she was coming on that fatal march, her last. Margaret Fuller was one of those who watched the (Continued on Page, 10)