Battle of Magenta

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Battle of Magenta
Part of the Second Italian War of Independence
Napoléon III et l'Italie - Gerolamo Induno - La bataille de Magenta - 001.jpg
The Battle of Magenta by Gerolamo Induno. Musée de l'Armée, Paris
Date4 June 1859 [1]
LocationMagenta, Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, Austrian Empire, present-day Italy
45°27′22″N 8°48′7″E / 45.45611°N 8.80194°E / 45.45611; 8.80194Coordinates: 45°27′22″N 8°48′7″E / 45.45611°N 8.80194°E / 45.45611; 8.80194
Result Franco-Sardinian victory
France Second French Empire
 Austrian Empire
Commanders and leaders
France Emperor Napoleon III
Kingdom of Sardinia Victor Emmanuel II
France Marechal Mac-Mahon
Austrian Empire Feldmarschall Ferenc Gyulay
49,945 infantry[2]
1,207 cavalry
87 guns
58,183 infantry[3]
3,435 cavalry
152 guns
Casualties and losses
707 killed
3,223 wounded
655 missing
1,368 killed
4,358 wounded
4,500 missing
Map of the Second Italian War of Independence

The Battle of Magenta was fought on 4 June 1859 during the Second Italian War of Independence, resulting in a French-Sardinian victory under Napoleon III against the Austrians under Marshal Ferencz Gyulai.

It took place near the town of Magenta in the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, a crown land of the Austrian Empire on 4 June 1859. Napoleon III's army crossed the Ticino River and outflanked the Austrian right forcing the Austrian army under Gyulai to retreat. The confined nature of the country, a vast spread of orchards cut up by streams and irrigation canals, precluded elaborate manoeuvre. The Austrians turned every house into a miniature fortress. The brunt of the fighting was borne by 5,000 grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard, still mostly in First Empire style uniform. The battle of Magenta was not particularly large, but it was a decisive victory for the French-Sardinian forces. Patrice Maurice de MacMahon was created Duke of Magenta for his role in this battle, and later served as President of the Third French Republic.

The French-Piedmontese coalition comprised an overwhelming majority of French troops (1,100 Piedmontese and 58,000 French). Their victory can therefore be considered as substantially a French victory.


Sword of honour

A dye producing the colour magenta was discovered in 1859, and was named after this battle,[4] as was the Boulevard de Magenta in Paris.


  1. ^ Ambès, Intimate Memoirs of Napoleon III: Personal Reminiscences of the Man and the Emperor, 1912, P. 148.
  2. ^ Brooks 2009, p. 37.
  3. ^ Brooks 2009, p. 38.
  4. ^ Cunnington, C. Willett, English Women's Clothing in the Nineteenth Century, Dover Publications, Inc. New York 1990, page 208


  • Brooks, R. (2009). Solferino 1859: The Battle for Italy's freedom. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-385-8.