Descend operation in Calabria

July 4, 1806: a clash in Maida between European powers.

On July 4, 1806, a fierce battle broke out in Maida in Calabria; numerous essayists wrote about the violence of this event that would have served to annex the Calabrie to France. It was absolutely necessary complete the phagocytosis of the Kingdom of Naples while Ferdinando IV fled to Sicily. Meanwhile, the fear that the Napoleonids could to reach Palermo induced the Bourbon to reach the plain of Sant’Eufemia 5000 men and weapons employed by the Englishman William Sidney Smith. A battle who saw the French and the English fighting on the hills of Maida lapped by the Amato river. The two armies in contention came to the place on different roads how right it is! The Francophones they went up from Monteleone, Scilla, Catanzaro, while the English from San Biagio today Sambiase. The clashes they lasted less than half an hour, but they were violent enough to cause the loss of over 2000 French between officers and soldiers of troops and beyond 300 British.  the brigands in 1111 However to understand the speech I quote a passage which is taken from James Grant’s writing of 1848, published in Italy in 1863 with the title “Brigands in 1806 that is an expedition in theCalabria. Memory of an english field aide”: “The morning of the battle was one of the most beautiful and serene I havenever seen in Italy. On the rising of the sun the gigantic masses of the Apennines, the verdant rice fields, the luxuriantvineyards, white cities and villages, from the middle of the greenery, solitary convents, fedual castles, rustic churches, swaying woods – everything was inundated of a light of pure gold. But we did not think of the ineffable magnificence of the splendid southern nature, but of the enemy only in front position to us, and while our chosen shooters were already starting to skirmish with the French we thought of the blood that had to flow rather than the glorious sun that lit up and would plunge back into the sea. I will still be alive to admire the sunset, how is the rising now? “. The English officer participated in this operation with numerous actions culminating in the battle of Maida (4 July 1806). Francophonescalled it the affaire de Saint Euphéme, because it had wide echo everywhere. Colonel Pietro Luccio so he wrote: “The victory of Maida had a tremendous echo throughout Calabria, in Sicily, anywhere there were Napoleon’s adversaries: they wanted to give more importance than it deserved: the Stuart was created Count of Maida, English newspapers exalted the value of the troops […] and they wanted to be attributed the success of a new tactic … almost the beginning of an era in military art “. But we must understand why this battle. In 1805 it was stipulated the Schönbrunn Treaty; Napoleon declares that the Bourbon family has fallen, ordering to occupy Naples. His Marshal Massena slings over Naples, Duhesem is sent to the conquest of Puglia and the general Reynier in the Calabrie to rout what remained of the Bourbon army, commanded by General Damas. March 17, 1806 Giuseppe Bonaparte was placed on the throne of theKingdom of Naples. And in the meanwhile Ferdinando escaped to Palermo, Bonaparte visited his possessions,including  Catanzaro, on April 24, 1806,  guest of the De Nobili della Bagliva family in the Palace of Santa Chiara,and the Calabrians began to rise against the presence of the French in their territories (as in Soveria Mannelli). Ferdinando IV and above all his wife Maria Carolina began to weave diplomatic threads with the British so that the Bourbons could achieve the reconquest of the Kingdom of Naples. It was necessary to report the Calabrie under the Neapolitan yoke seen the territorial proximity with Sicily, and therefore the French did not have to to pass. Smith decided to go through the sea and managed to disembark at Amantea. Meanwhile the Calabrie rise up and the Napoleonids are busy in Calabria Citra to quell the revolts, that even threatened the city ​​of Cosenza, while the generalReynier in Calabria Ultra had just over 7,000 displaced men between Scilla, Monteleone, Nicastro, Catanzaro and Crotone. This was the right opportunity! Thus the Descend operation was born on Calabria with Sidney Smith and Stuart who decided to disembark at Sant’Eufemia with a shipping body just under 6000 men in the middle of the two sides French. The British as a hound set themselves on the trail of the French and identified them near Maida. Four Smith’s troops set off towards the French already at dawn: at 9 o’clock they found de visu. The British had the advanced line composed of light infantry, with a head Lieutenant Colonel Kempt, and of 35th battalion of Major Robinson waiting, in the feature position that will be known like the thin red line; then there are the French who are riddled from enemy fire, shots that decreed the end of the battle. The French were defeated by the British because, as Raul Gueze writes: “The thin red line meant that each battalion deployed 600 men in double row shoulder to shoulder for 320 meters while the french column lined up in the front row only 132 fighters. The French column, before making the breakthrough, could receive from 50 meters a double series of 600 shots to which it was able to oppose only 132 shots largely lost because the French pulled on the move while the English real estate were comfortable to aim. The British got the better of Maida because 600 well-targeted bullets are four times more powerful than 132 badly directed ». The Francophones escaped from Catanzaro and Croton and the British went to free the Calabrie. The episode ended  successfully in favor of the Bourbons but leaving the territory in the hands of the calabrian rebels with the hope of freeing in a definitive way their land from the French, with the sole result of get to know the French military courtsand mass massacres. And when Reynier himself, one of the protagonists of the Battle of Maida, was defeated by the British in Portugal, Napoleon – so they say – said: “Nobody has learned anything from Maida. ” The French remained in the Calabrie until the betrayal of Murat, and only with the Vienna Congress Bourbons managed to get back theirsKingdom and the Calabrians to consider themselves free from the stranger. So, after Maida Calabria rose up and for at least four-five years was not possible for the French control it.

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