Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848–70 (2): Papal States, Minor States, & Volunteers

Published on
May 27, 2019
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Gabriele Esposito
Other Publication Information
Illustrator: Giuseppe Rava; Softbound, 7.25” x 9.75”, 48 pages .
Product / Stock #
MAA 520
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Gabriele Esposito is an Italian researcher and a long-time student of military history. His main field of research is the military of 19th-century Latin America, but his interests range from the Ancient world to modern post-colonial conflicts. He has authored over 16 books, several works in the UK, including MAA 499 Armies of the War of the Triple Alliance 1864-70 and MAA 504 Armies of the War of the Pacific 1879-83, and is a regular contributor to many specialized magazines. He lives in Benevento, Italy.

Giuseppe Rava was born in Faenza on July 16, 1963, and took an interest in all things military from an early age. Entirely self-taught, Giuseppe has established himself as a leading military history artist, and is inspired by the works of the great military artists, such as Detaille, Meissonier, Röchling, Lady Butler, Ottenfeld and Angus McBride. He has illustrated over 50 books, many of those for Osprey Publishing. He lives and works in Italy. You can find him on Facebook at

Osprey's 520thbook in the Men at Arms series is a square back soft cover including 48 gloss paper pages. This book follows up on Gabriele Esposito’s and Giuseppe Rava’s Men at Arms 512 book that covered Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848–70: Piedmont and the two Sicilies(2017). The front cover features clips from three different color plates by Giuseppe Rava and include (from left to right) a Brigata Dunne British volunteer in white with his Enfield rifle; a Divisione Bixio Officer swinging a Lefaucheux revolver and a Piedmontese sabre; and a Battalion of Saint Patrick Irish soldier armed with a M1857 Carbina Mazzocchi. I counted 36 black and white drawings along with one black and white map. Giuseppe Rava contributes eight Color Plates that are include detailed descriptions in the Plate Commentary section.

Italian unification was the political and social movement that consolidated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of the Kingdom of Italy in the 19th century. After Napoleon fell, the 1815 Congress of Vienna restored the patchwork of independent states. The Austrian Empire primarily ruled the Northern states with the Southern statues dominated by the Spanish-descended monarchy of the Two Sicilies. The Unification Wars witnessed many foreign governments intervening and a wide variety of foreign mercenaries. The multitude of ‘volunteers’ brought with them their own uniforms and weapons resulting in quite colorful militias and armies. The unification process was completed in 1871 when Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. Volume one covered the two largest armies that fought against Austria, and of course later, against each other. Volume two in this series covers the armies from the Papal states of Tuscany, Parma, and Modena; the republics of Rome and San Marco (Venice), and the transitional Kingdom of Sicily. The contents include:

  • Dedication
  • Editor’s Note
  • Acknowledgements
  • Artist’s Note
  • Introduction
  • Chronology: Second & Third Wars of Unification, 1855-70
  • The Papal Army, 1848-70
    • Organization
    • National Infantry
    • Foreign Infantry
    • Cavalry
    • Artillery and Engineers
    • Volunteer Units
    • Police
    • Auxiliary Corps
    • Weapons [Page 10]
  • The Tuscan Army, 1848-59
    • Organization
      • Regularly Army
      • National Guard and Volunteers
      • Weapons
  • The Army of Modena, 1848-59
    • Organization
    • Weapons
  • The Army of Parma, 1848-59
    • Organization
    • Weapons
  • Revolutionary Armies, 1848-49
    • The Kingdom of Sicily
      • Organization
    • The Lombard Provisional Government
      • Organization
      • Lombard Volunteer Units
    • The San Marcos Republic
      • Organization
      • Volunteer Units
    • The Roman Republic
      • Organization
      • National Guard and Volunteers
  • Color Plates [Page 27]
  • The Central Italian League, 1859-60
  • Garibaldi’s Volunteers, 1859-66
    • Cacciatori delle Alpi
    • ‘The Red Shirts’ [Page 35]
    • Corpo Volontari Italiani
  • Select Bibliography
  • Plate Commentaries [Page 43]
  • Index

Gabriele Esposito indicates in the introduction that this second volume should be read after the first volume that focuses on the First War for Unification and I have to agree with him. The second volume addresses the Second and Third Wars for Unification, but both volumes work better together. Gabriele does provide detail on the numerous smaller armies, including some that only lasted for a short period. I was able to read the book easily over a single evening. It provides a very readable text with period drawings to depict the various factions involved. The Color Plates by Giuseppe Rava add life to this narrative and are well described in the back of the book in the Plate Commentaries. One of the highlights for me was Gabriele’s section on the charismatic Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi and his ‘Red Shirts’. Garibaldi is considered by many to be one of the greatest generals of modern times with an innate knack for inspiring men to follow. Aided by international media, Garibaldi drew volunteers from many nations.

I enjoyed this book by Gabriele Esposito on a topic I had previously no exposure to. This book, along with the first, would certainly provide a great reference for painting figures of this era. If you own one the previous releases in the Men at Arms series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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