Battle of Solferino

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Battle of Solferino
Part of the Austro-Sardinian War
Image:Napoléon III à la bataille de Solférino..jpg
Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino by Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier. Oil on canvas, 1863.
Date 24 June 1859
Location Solferino, present-day Italy
Result Franco-Sardinian victory
French Empire
Kingdom of Sardinia
Austrian Empire
Napoleon III
Victor Emmanuel II
Franz Joseph
118,600 about 100,000
2,492 dead
12,512 wounded
2,922 captured or missing
3,000 dead
10,807 wounded
8,638 captured or missing
Austrian War of 1859
MontebelloVareseSan FermoPalestroMagentaSolferino

The Battle of Solferino was fought on June 24, 1859 and resulted in the victory of the allied French Army under Napoleon III and Kingdom of Sardinia Army under Victor Emmanuel II (together known as the Franco-Sardinian Alliance) against the Austrian Army under Emperor Francis-Joseph (also known as Franz Joseph). Over 200,000 soldiers fought in this important battle, the largest since the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. There were about 100,000 Austrian troops and a combined total of 118,600 French and allied Sardinian troops. After this battle, the Austrian Emperor refrained from further direct command of the army.

The Battle of Solferino was a decisive engagement in the Austro-Sardinian War or Second Independence War, a crucial step in the Italian Risorgimento. The geo-political context for the war was the nationalist struggle to unify Italy, long divided between France, Austria, Spain and the Papal States. The battle took place near the village of Solferino, Italy, a location between Milan and Verona.

The confrontation was between the Austrians, then marching across northern Italy, and the French and Piedmontese forces who opposed their advance. The battle was a particularly gruelling one, lasting over nine hours and resulting in over 3,000 Austrian troops killed with 10,807 wounded and 8,638 missing or captured. The Allied armies also suffered a total of 2,492 killed, 12,512 wounded and 2,922 captured or missing. Reports of wounded and dying soldiers being shot or bayoneted on both sides added to the horror. In the end, the Austrian forces were forced to yield their positions, and the Allied French-Italian armies won a tactical, but costly, victory.

This battle would have a long-term effect on the future conduct of military actions. Jean-Henri Dunant, who witnessed the battle in person, was motivated by the horrific suffering of wounded soldiers left on the battlefield to begin a campaign that would eventually result in the Geneva Conventions and the establishment of the International Red Cross.

Joseph Roth's 1932 novel The Radetzky March opens at the Battle of Solferino. There, the father of the novel's Trotta dynasty is immortalized as the Hero of von Solferino es:Batalla de Solferino fr:Bataille de Solferino io:Solferino-batalio it:Battaglia di Solferino ja:ソルフェリーノの戦い no:Slaget ved Solferino pl:Bitwa pod Solferino pt:Batalha de Solferino ru:Битва при Сольферино

Battle of Solferino

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