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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

February 13th, - The Siege of Gaeta

Conflict: Italian Wars of Independence

Combatants: Neapolitans vs. Piedmonts

Location: Italy

Outcome: Piedmont victory

For decades Italians had sought to end the domination of the Neapolitan Bourbons in Naples. Until 1859, these attempts had been entirely unsuccessful. But in that year, with support from the premier of Piedmont (aka Sardinia) and Napoleon III of France, a soldier named Giuseppe Garibaldi would spearhead the military campaign to both oust the Bourbons and unify Italy.

Expedition of the Thousand, Giuseppe Garibaldi in Pretoria Square in Palermo, 1860 by an unknown artist

Garibaldi began the "Expedition of the Thousand" by invading Sicily in May of 1860. He rallied the Italians there to revolt against Naples. He defeated the Neapolitans in three engagements before crossing over to mainland Italy with assistance from the British navy.

By November of 1860, Francis II of Naples and his remaining soldiers had been forced to retreat into Gaeta. But with 12,000 soldiers behind the walls, Gaeta was too strong to assault. Colonel Enrico Cialdini, commanding the Piedmont forces, chose instead to lay in for a siege.

In January of 1860, a fleet of Piedmont warships began bombarding the city. On February 13th, the city finally capitulated. Francis II abdicated and departed into exile. The rule of the Bourbons was over.

King Francis II of Naples and Queen Amalia leave Gaeta of the Two Sicilies by Tancredi Scarpelli

Points of Interest:

  • Cialdini was named Duca di Gaeta (Duke of Gaeta) for his victory over Francis.

  • The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed one month after the fall of Gaeta.

Colonel Enrico Cialdini by Antonio Masutti
Giuseppe Garibaldi 1861 by an unknown photographer



Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).

Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.

Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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