Garibaldi at Nomentano Bridge

On Sunday January 27th, 1889 the Roman republicans organized a demonstration at the Nomentano Bridge (see my web page) to commemorate the victory of Giuseppe Garibaldi n the battle of Dijon, on January 23rd, 1871, during the Franco-Prussian war. The demonstration ended with fierce clashes with the police and the carabinieri.

Prior event no. 1: the clash of 1867:
Garibaldi tells in his memoirs that on October 29
th, 1867, on the occasion of his attempt to conquer Rome, the second after that of 1849, he was assured by a Roman relative of some of his soldiers that the population of Rome was ready to rise up in the same night, so he reached and occupied the Casal de' Pazzi with a few men, on the Via Nomentana, a short distance from the bridge and 5 km (3 Mi) from the city walls, hoping to push the Romans to revolt with his presence. A handful of Garibaldi soldiers, led by Lieutenant Ferdinando Gregori, from Jesi, had a firefight with the papal soldiers at the Nomentano bridge. The next day the papal troops received reinforcements, while the Garibaldi soldiers were few and armed with "very bad guns", as the general himself wrote. Garibaldi, found that the insurrection did not take place, the next day he returned to his troops in Monterotondo, and tried to retreat further towards Tuscany, but on November 3rd he was attacked and defeated in Mentana, by the papal Zouaves under the command of General Hermann Kanzler, and by the French troops of Baron de Polhés, who had just landed in Civitavecchia to help Pope Pius IX.

Prior event no. 2: battle of Dijon in 1871:
In 1870 the tensions between France and Prussia led to a war that saw the siege of Paris, the abdication of Emperor Napoleon III and the proclamation of the republic and ended after less than ten months with the defeat of France. Garibaldi intervened to support the newly formed French republic against the Prussian monarchy, and on January 23
rd, 1871 he managed to occupy Dijon and defend it from the Prussian siege, conquering the insignia of the 61st regiment of Pomerania, the only banner conquered by the French throughout the war.

Prior event no. 3: King Umberto in the uniform of an Austro-Hungarian colonel in 1881
From 27
th to 31st October 1881 the King of Italy Umberto I, with his wife Queen Margherita, the Prime Minister Agostino Depretis and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Pasquale Stanislao Mancini made an Official visit to Vienna. On the occasion, on October 28th, the Kaiser Franz Josef appointed Umberto as owner of the 28th regiment of infantry garrisoned in Budweis (today Ceské Budejovice in the Czech Republic). On October 29th the King of Italy appeared in the uniform of an Austrian colonel at the gala dinner in the great Halle of the Imperial Palace as well as the day after the Court Concert in the Ceremonies Hall (Zeremoniensaal) of the same palace. The Kaiserliches und königliches Infanterieregiment nr. 28 had fought against the Italians in the battle of Custoza, of the Third War of Independence, in 1866, and will fight again against the Italians in the First World War, among other places on the Soca river, on the Karst Plateau, on the Monte San Michele and in Gorizia.

The fact that King Umberto wore the uniform of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which still occupied lands claimed by Italy, such as Trentino and Venezia Giulia, created a lot of controversy at home, where a strong anti-Austrian and anti-Germanic sentiment was widespread, after the three Wars of Independence fought against the Austrians from 1848 to 1866.
Despite the hostility, in the following year, 1882, Italy joined the Triple Alliance, with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the 28
th regiment was named first to Umberto I, and after his death in 1900 to his son Vittorio Emanuele III, until Italy entered the war in 1915, precisely against the two central empires.

The demonstration of 1889
To commemorate the battle of Dijon, the Società Reduci Garibaldini (Garibaldian Veterans Society) organized a demonstration for Sunday 27
th January, 1889, with a march starting from piazza Indipendenza, which ended at the Nomentano bridge, also to commemorate the battle between Garibaldians and Papal Army in 1867.
The march of 400 people left at 2:10 pm, stopped in front of the house of Garibaldi's son, Menotti, in via San Martino della Battaglia 8, walked along via Nomentana, stopped in front of the villa Cavallini, next to Sant'Agnese, the current institute Marymount, in via Nomentana 355, where a wreath was placed on the plaque commemorating Garibaldi's stay in 1875 and the hymn of Garibaldi was played. Finally the procession reached Filippo Averardi's Osteria dei Cacciatori (Hunters' Tavern) at 3.10 pm, which still exists, albeit with a different name, immediately after the Nomentano bridge.

During the march and the demonstration at the bridge, the demonstrators inveighed against the monarchy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an unwelcome ally, both actions were strictly forbidden. The Italian flags with the "ranocchia" (the frog) that is with the coat of arms of the Savoy in the center which hung from the façade of the tavern were lowered, and tricolor flags without the coat of arms were raised.
From the balcony of the Osteria dei Cacciatori, after an initial speech by the student Antonucci, a message from the mayor of Dijon Victor Marchand was read, then the Garibaldi officer Ferdinando Gregori spoke, who recalled the fact he had been a protagonist of in 1867, then Ferruccio Corradetti took the floor, born in San Severino Marche, in the province of Macerata, in the Marches, on February 21
st, 1867, a freelance journalist for L'emancipazione and for Il Lucifero, a republican militant who has been arrested several times for protests against corruption in the public administration. Corradetti later became an internationally acclaimed baritone and a respected music critic in the USA.

Corradetti began by saying that Garibaldi had avenged Mentana with Dijon, while King Umberto had dressed up as an Austrian colonel. Corradetti also mentioned Guglielmo Oberdan, a Triestine irredentist hanged by the Austrians in 1882.
At this point the speech was interrupted by the police, due to its anti-monarchical content, but the crowd reacted by throwing stones, sticks, flasks, plates and glasses from the top of Monte Sacro. The police and the carabinieri, with their revolvers drawn and their sabers drawn, attacked the crowd. At 4.10 pm the march returned to Rome, with the fanfare at its head, playing the Marseillaise, but the demonstrators were first attacked at the passage in front of Villa Cavallini, then found the main door of the city gate of Porta Pia closed, and were forced to pass by side doors, where they were attacked by the police, and later by troop reinforcements, coming from the Macao barracks, at the Castro Pretorio, with excesses of brutality, causing many injuries and many arrests
(Il Messaggero).

The trial
On March 4
th, 1890, the trial against Ferruccio Corradetti, detained for seven months, after having fled to France to escape arrest, began at the oratorio dei Filippini. Corradetti was accused of provocation to commit crimes and excitement to contempt against the institutions.
During the trial almost all the witnesses denied that Corradetti had pronounced offenses against the king and Austria, and Corradetti himself corrected the police depositions, stating that he had said that Umberto had avenged Oberdan by wearing the uniform of an Austrian colonel (in reality at the time of the events Oberdan was still alive and free in Italy). A document was produced from the mayor of San Severino Marche, Corradetti's hometown, which reported his bad conduct, ignoring however that Ferruccio had left the city at the age of twelve.
Eventually Corradetti was acquitted of all charges, as well as the other protesters, in a previous trial, in July 1889.

DI COLLOREDO MELS Pierluigi Romeo (2020) Mentana 1867 : la disfatta di Garibaldi. Soldiershop, Zanica, Bergamo, Italy.
GARIBALDI Giuseppe (1932) Memorie autobiografiche. Casa Editrice Bietti, Milan, Italy (p. 324-325)
KANZLER Hermann (1868) Rapporto alla Santità di Nostro Signore Papa Pio IX. felicemente regnante del Generale Ermanno Kanzler pro-ministro delle armi sulla invasione dello Stato Pontificio nell'autunno 1867. Roma, coi tipi della Civiltà Cattolica.

Websites visited:
Digital collection of journals of the Library of Modern and Contemporary History (Biblioteca di Storia Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma) (L'Illustrazione Italiana, L'Illustrazione Popolare, L'Emancipazione) link
Digital collection of journals of the National Central Library of Rome (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma) (Il Messaggero) link

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page created: February 2nd, 2022 and last updated: February 27th, 2022