BR04 Milazzo (20 July 1860) revised
Milazzo (20 July 1860)
The battle of Milazzo was fought on 17–24 July 1860 between Giuseppe Garibaldi's volunteers ('Camicie Rosse') and the Borbonici, regular troops of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. It was an hard victory for Garibaldi against a strong detachment of Neapolitan troops based in a old fortress town 35 kilometres west of Messina, but the strong fights opened up the road to the straits of Messina, and cleared his way to cross to the Italian mainland. General Clary, Neapolitan commander on the Island, was promoted to Marshall and given command of the strong citadel and garrison of Messina. Clary drew up a plan for a counteroffensive that would recapture Palermo but his plan was cancelled by the confused government at Naples. Otherwise Clary still made one offensive move, shifting 3,000 of his best troops, under Colonel Beneventano del Bosco, west along the north coast towards Milazzo. He was ordered to post his men in the little villages outside the town of Milazzo to prevent the garrison from being besieged.
Garibaldi split his army into three columns and prepared to occupy most of Sicily: Giacomo Medici was given a column of 3,000 men was ordered to move along the road towards Messina. Bosco and Medici inevitably clashed. Medici was at the village of Barcellona, few Kilometres west of Milazzo, when Bosco moved from Messina. The two armies first met on 15 July. Medici, with around 2,000 men, decided to offer battle and took up a position at Merì. Bosco, with the 3,000 men from Messina, marched towards them, but then decided not to fighter and instead turned north and marked towards Milazzo: Bosco's orders didn't allow him to instigate a battle, but only to defend himself it attacks.
Some days of skirmished now followed. Bosco was based in Milazzo low town. Medici occupied a number of outposts nearer the town, including the villages of Archi and Corriolo in the east. Bosco had orders to occupy Archi, and he interpreted them as allowing him to attack in this case. On 17 July he sent four companies of infantry under Major Maringh, supported by cavalry and artillery, to take Archi. Maringh won a minor skirmish but then withdrew and he was arrested for his failure. Later a second column, under Lieutenant-Colonel Marra, was sent to attack Corriolo. This time Medici's men had the better of the fighting, but Archi was lost. That night Bosco, believing he was outnumbered, withdrew back into the town. The end result of the day's action was that Bosco was isolated in Milazzo, which was now placed under the exact blockade that he had been sent out to prevent.
Garibaldi ordered Cosenz to reinforce Medici and he left soon Palermo on a steamship leading 2,000 men. also he sent to Medici an additional battalion of 600 Sicilian volunteers. Bosco was also active and decided to make a stand on the peninsula that linked Milazzo to the mainland. This narrow area was filled with scattered hamlets, cornfield and vineyards, many of which were surrounded by strong walls or thick cactus hedges. Bosco created a strong defensive position here, turning the walls into firing positions by cutting loopholes in them. The only weaknesses in the defensive lines were the beaches to its east and west and the straight roads that led into the town. Bosco deployed 2,500 of his best men in this defensive line, supported by eight big guns and a cavalry squadron. The garrison of 1,200 men remained in the castle, where they had forty old guns.
Garibaldi had wanted to participate in the fighting personally escorted by an elite unit of Carabinieri. He probably had slightly more men by the time all of his reinforcements had joined Medici's 2,000, but they started the day with two cannons, neither of which played much part in the fighting. There was no cavalry, and many of the newer troops had little or no military experience of training. They did have better weapons than earlier in the campaign, because their old muskets having been replaced with new Enfield rifles.
The battle began soon after dawn on 20 July. Garibaldi's men attacked all along the line. They captured little village of S. Pietro in the centre of the line without any fighting, while on the right a force of Garibaldini pressed along the eastern beach. On the left a force of Tuscan volunteers under Malenchini ran into the Neapolitan guns and was driven off. Bosco ordered a pursuit, and his right wing advanced almost a mile. Garibaldi sent Cosenz deal with this crisis, while he took part in the attack on the right. Cosenz was able to rally the Tuscans and partly restore the situation forming a line of defense at a large farm, but was unable to advance.
On the right Garibaldi's men forced the Neapolitans to advance, but at heavy cost. Eventually, by the early afternoon, Bosco had been forced back to his last position outside Milazzo. This was at the point where the main road along the eastern beach crossed a stone bridge over a culvert leading to the sea. Bosco had posted two of his eight guns here, but Garibaldi was able to take the position: one gun was captured and one was withdrawn into the town by Borbonici. At this point Garibaldi's habit of putting himself in the front line almost caused a disaster: Bosco ordered his cavalry to retake the lost gun and they charged along the road out of the town and scattered Garibaldi's men. The cavalry then found Garibaldi dangerously isolated amongst scattered enemies, and was forced to retire, loses several men on the way, and a fierce melee followed. Garibaldi and his aide Missori managed to fight off this last attack, and the cavalry retreated into the town.
At this point the front line had rotated anti-clockwise. Bosco's men had advanced in the west but been forced to retreat in the east. Garibaldi's men were holding their positions on both flanks, but the troops on the right suffered heavy losses as they came under small arms fire from the town gate and cannon fire from the castle above the town. Garibaldi ordered most of his men to take shelter in a tuna factory near the bridge, while others kept up a harassing fire against the garrison. This pause in the east lasted for about two hours.
Garibaldi now had a small navy, made up of the Tüköry, a ten-gun paddle steamer that had deserted from the Neapolitan navy. This ship arrived off the coast at Milazzo on the afternoon of the battle. Garibaldi was soon rowed out to his warship and ordered it to open fire on the victorious Neapolitan right wing. This naval bombardment, combined with news from their left, forced the Neapolitans to retreat, and Garibaldi's men finally were able to advance up to the town.
After eight hours of hard fighting Bosco had been forced out of all of his defensive positions and was now under siege in the town. He asked reinforcements from Colonel Raffaele Pironti, commander of the garrison defending the fortress, but this old officer refused to take orders from Bosco, given its greater length of service, at which point he decided to move back towards the town, which offered more protection to the defense. He reported his losses in this fighting at 150 men, but his army was now badly demoralised. He decided not to hold the town and moved his entire army into the castle.
So Garibaldi's men attempted to enter the town and found it undefended. Garibaldini built barricades to guard against any sortie from the castle, and prepared for a blockage. Bosco still held a strong position, for Garibaldi lacked any siege guns, but there were few supplies in the castle, and the morale of his men began to crumble. Clary, at Messina, had more than enough men to come to Bosco's aid and the arrival of a significant force from his garrison of 15,000 fresh troops might have turned the tables on Garibaldi, but no such effort was made. The government in Naples also briefly considered sending a relief force, but the Navy refused to cooperate and instead they sent a transport fleet with orders to evacuate the garrison. This fleet arrived on 23 July, and a capitulation was quickly negotiated. The garrison marched out with their arms and half of their mules, while the cannons in the castle, their ammunition, all of their horses and their remaining mules were left behind. The garrison marched out of the castle on 25 July and was shipped away to Messina. Garibaldi's men had 600-700 losses and soon they entered Messina without facing any opposition, despite still being outnumbered by the garrison. On 28 July Clary signed an armistice in which he agreed to restrict his men to the castle and not to open fire on Garibaldi's men or ships. This removed the last major obstacle on Sicily to Garibaldi's crossing to the mainland.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
- Rickard, J (14 February 2013), , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_milazzo.html
- Giuseppe Bandi, I Mille da Genova a Capua, Firenze 1903
- Dennis Evans, The Battle of Milazzo. 20th July 1860, in "WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED", N.7 MARCH 1988 pp.33-36.
- Marco Scardigli, Le grandi battaglie del Risorgimento, Milano 2010
Regio esercito borbonico
• Beneventano del Bosco
• 4 command cards
Camicie Rosse (Redshirts)
• Giuseppe Garibaldi
• 5 command cards
• You move first.
All the hexes of the town of Milazzo are Temporary Medal Objectives for the Redshirts Forces.
The river is fordable.
Because of low level of morale and low quality of the guns (equipped with muskets), Castle's garrison infantry units each start the battle with only 3 pieces.
- When General Garibaldi is attached to a unit will add one battle dice when this unit is battling.
Tukory War Ship (see Destroyers rules of Memoir'44): War Ship may move 1 or 2 hexes in Sea, but can never move onto Sea hexes adjacent to a Beach hex. A War Ship provides long-range, offshore artillery support, firing over a range of eight hexes at 3,3,2,2, 1,1,1,1 respectively.
Place a War Ship on the board map, at Garibaldi's left flank, and three Targeting markers next to it. When a War Ship scores a hit on a targeted enemy unit, if the unit is not eliminated or forced to retreat, place a Targeting marker on its hex. The War Ship's guns have now zeroed-in on this target, and will fire +1 Battle die at it from then on. Note that markers are not cumulative in their effect. If the target moves or is eliminated, the benefit of zeroing-in on the target is lost, and the Targeting marker removed and placed back next to the War Ship.
The War Ship may be targeted during combat. One hit is scored for each Sabers rolled against the ship. Place a marker on the War Ship to keep track of the damage inflicted. When a 3rd marker is placed on the Ship, remove the War Ship from the board, and give it to your opponent for him to place on his Medal Stand. It counts as 1 Victory point.
The War Ship may ignore the first Flag rolled against it. If a War Ship must retreat, it retreats 1 Ocean hex for each flag rolled. If it cannot retreat, add a damage marker onto the War Ship instead.