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Battle of Custoza
Part of the Austro-Prussian War
Battaglia di custoza monte cricol.jpg
Battle of Custoza (1866)
Date June 24, 1866
Location Custoza, near Verona, present-day Italy
Result Decisive Austrian victory
Belligerents
Italy Italy Austrian Empire Austria
Commanders
Italy Alfonso Ferrero la Marmora
Italy Enrico Cialdini
Austrian Empire Archduke Albert of Habsburg
Strength
120,000[1] 75,000
Casualties and losses
8,147 total:

720 killed
3,112 wounded
4,315 captured

5,650 total:

960 killed
3,690 wounded
1,000 captured

The Battle of Custoza took place on June 24, 1866 during the Third Italian Independence War in the Italian unification process.

The Austrian Imperial army, led by Archduke Albert of Habsburg, defeated the Italian army led by Alfonso Ferrero la Marmora and Enrico Cialdini, despite the Italians' strong numerical advantage.

Contents

Background

In June 1866, the German Kingdom of Prussia declared war on the Austrian Empire. The recently formed Kingdom of Italy decided to seize the opportunity and allied with Prussia with the intention of annexing Venetia and thus uniting the Italian Peninsula. The Italians rapidly built up a military force that was twice the size of their Austrian counterparts defending Venetia.

Order of battle

Austrian South Army (Field Marschal Archduke Albrecht)

V Corps (General Gabriel Freiherr von Rodich)

Moering, Piret Brigades

VII Corps (General Joseph Freiherr von Maroicic)

Scudier, Töply, Welsersheimb Brigades

IX Corps (General Ernst Ritter von Hartung)

Böck, Kirchsberg, Weckbecker Brigades

Reserve Division (General Friedrich Rupprecht)

Two weak brigades

Cavalry Division (General Ludwig Freiherr von Pulz)

Italian Mincio Army (General Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora)

I Corps (General Giacomo Durando)

1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Divisions

III Corps (General Della Rocca)

7th, 8th, 9th and 16th Divisions. Also a Cavalry Division

(II Corps, with its 6th, 10th and 19th Divisions, did not engage in the battle)[2]

The battle

In the fourth week of May, the Italians divided their army into two equally-sized corps, one commanded by King Vittorio Emmanuele and the other by Generals Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora and Enrico Cialdini. The King's force was to move into the Trentino region, while Marmora's crossed the Mincio River and invaded Venetia. Meanwhile, the Austrian soldiers under Archduke Albert of Habsburg marched west from Verona to the north of the Italians, in an attempt to move behind the Italians so as to cut them off from the rear, and thus, slaughter them. The manoeuvre failed, resulting in a confused and ferocious struggle. The Austrians' rifled artillery outperformed the Italian's smoothbore guns and an improvised charge by Austrian lancers sustained heavy losses, but unnerved the Italians.

Aftermath

The Austrians were decisively victorious, both strategically and tactically. The Italians were driven back across the Mincio out of Venetia. Despite this victory and a naval defeat of the Italians at Lissa, the Austrians surrendered to the Prussians a month later and were forced to cede Venetia.

Though it's not entirely true that the Austrians were strategically victorious. To inflict a decisive defeat on the Italians, Albrecht's forces needed to drive southwest to seize the bridges across the Mincio (which the Italians had neglected to fortify). Such a pursuit would have trapped the disbanded remnants of the two Italian corps on the east bank of the river and would have enabled Albrecht to invade the Kingdom of Italy itself. Instead, Albrecht shifted his headquarters back to Verona, because he was concerned about a possible French reply to an Austrian invasion of Lombardy. He ought not to have been: even the Emperor advised Albrecht to ignore all political considerations.[3]

Notes

  1. ^ Only 65,000 of which crossed the Mincio.
  2. ^ G. Wawro, The Austro-Prussian War. Austria's war with Prussia and Italy in 1866 (New York 2007) pp. 96-116.
  3. ^ G. Wawro, The Austro-Prussian War. Austria's war with Prussia and Italy in 1866 (New York 2007) pp. 116-120.

References

Further reading

Coordinates: 45°22′44″N 10°47′45″E / 45.37889°N 10.79583°E / 45.37889; 10.79583

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