Battle of Santa Lucia

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Battle of Santa Lucia
Part of the First Italian War of Independence
Date 6 May 1848
Location Santa Lucia, Verona, Lombardy-Venetia
Result Unexploited Austrian victory
 Kingdom of Sardinia  Austrian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Carlo Alberto of Savoy Josef Radetzky
33,000 infantry
8,500 cavalry
82 cannon
33,000 infantry
9,000 cavalry
84 field artillery
192 fortification cannon
Casualties and losses
110 dead
776 wounded
72 dead
190 wounded
87 prisoners

Coordinates: 45°25′26.1″N 10°56′54.7″E / 45.423917°N 10.948528°E / 45.423917; 10.948528 The battle of Santa Lucia was an episode in the First Italian War of Independence. On 6 May 1848, when the king of Sardinia, Carlo Alberto, sent I Corps of the Sardinian army to assault the fortified positions held before the walls of Verona by the Austrian army under field marshal Josef Radetzky. The Austrian army, though outnumbered, managed to withstand the attack and hold their positions. The battle is named after the Santa Lucia district of Verona. Franz Joseph (then only 17 years old) assisted at the battle.


Scope of hostilities[edit]

On 18 March 1848, revolt broke out in Milan. The commander of the Lombard–Venetian army, field marshal Josef Radetzky, had excited the rebellion but did not know how to crush it and was forced to abandon the city of fierce fighting. At the same time many other cities in Lombardy–Venetia and at Como the tire garrison went over to the insurgents. After the battle peace was restore to the region in 1849

The day after Radetzky evacuated Milan, the king of Sardinia declared war on Austria and crossed the Ticino. His army was organised in 2 corps, the first entrusted to Eusebio Bava, the second to Ettore Gerbaix di Sonnaz.

First phase of the campaign[edit]

Liberation of Lombardy[edit]

Piedmontese vanguards crossed Ticino on 25 March,while Charles Albert reached Pavia the 29th,setting up his headquarter nearly lodi on 30th;he put up a war council 4 April and reach Bozzolo the 5th,while 1st Corpo d'armata toke positions nearly Oglio river.

Forcing the passage of the Mincio[edit]

On April 8, the 1st division of 1st Bava Corp broke through Goito bridge, forcing Wohlgemuht brigade to retreat in Pozzolo and Valeggio, together with the rest of the Austrian army. On April 9, Broglia division (De Sonnaz 1st division) engaged the Austrians in Monzambano, taking the city bridge and the subsequent bridge in Borghetto Valeggio the next day. Then, Sardinians waited for reinforcements by their allies from Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Kingdom of Naples and the States of the Church.

Advance on Mincio[edit]

Conquered positions on Mincio were controlled by two fortresses of Austrian Quadrilatero on the South Mantua,where Sardinians made some recognitions,and Peschiera del Garda on the North (besieged 13 April):Sardinians needed to conquer the road linking Peschiera to Verona (Joseph Radetzky von Radetz's headquarter)and isolate the fortresses,so that Charles Albert ordered to move on North East across Mincio.

Battle of Pastrengo[edit]

Main article: Battle of Pastrengo

On the South,Bava 1st Corp entered Valeggio and marched towards Custoza and Sona;meanwhile general De Sonnaz reached Castelnuovo del Garda,from where he sent Novara Cavalleria 5th Regiment to clean Austrian positions in Pastrengo and Buzzolengo,which were occupied on 30 April.

Austrian strategic weakness[edit]

Results of Pastrengo[edit]

Succeeded in breaking communications between Mantua,Verona and besieged Peschiera,Charles Albert had now the chanche to attack Radetzky and the bulk of Austrian army in Verona:in fact,field-marshal considered this days as the most dangerous of the whole campaign.

Radetzky's impasse[edit]

Assembled inside Verona there was still a considerable force,protected by valid fortifications:however,Austrian troops were demotivated after the first defeats (excepting the victory of 11 April over ill-equipped Lombard volunteers nearly Cortenuovo,followed by the killings of nearly 113 civilians).[1] In addition, the possibility of receiving help from General Nugent's troops through Isonzo was obstacled by the presence of Italian rebels in Palmanova , Osoppo and Venice To make Radetzky situation even worse,political situation after repression of Austrian Revolution led many observers to doubt about field-marshal capacity in mantaining order,and he was labeled as a conservative monarchist by public liberal opinion.

Radetzky penned in at Verona[edit]

In such a difficult situation,Radetkzy waited enemy inside Verona;the city disposed of a rideau ,a well-built series of trenches,bunkers and casemates disposed in a line stretching from Chievo and Crocebianca to Santa Lucia and Tomba (built by Radetzky himself in 1833),but theyr disposal was not completed at the time of battle:field-marshal had to use graveyards,farms and the same Adige river for protect his men.

Improved Sardinian position[edit]

Strategic opportunities arise[edit]

Luckily for the Austrians,Charles Albert main goal was completing the conquest of Peschiera and then taking Mantua,to eliminate the risk of being outflanked from the South:then,Sardinians waited for a possible insurrection from the citizens of Verona,on the example of what happened in Milan.

Carlo Alberto's tactical initiative[edit]

Carlo Alberto ordered then to Bava to make an "energic recognition" under the walls of Verona and taking the rideau,which should have been the signal for possible rebellions inside the city.

The troops draw up for battle[edit]

Both sides had,moreover,an equivalent number of men to deploy:

  • Sardinians

51 battalions,each one of 800 men;36 cavalry squadrons,each one of 250 men;82 cannons (ten crews men for each one),for a total of ca. 50 000 soldiers.

  • Austrians

33 battalions (1 000 men for each one),36 cavalry squadrons of 250 men for each one,84 cannons and artillery field of the fortress;plus,Radetzky had 5 battalions garrisoned in Vicenza,7 in Mantua and one besieged at Peschiera (for a total of ca. 56 000 men).

Considering that these Austrians garrisons (13 000 men) and Sardinians ones left besieging Peschiera and keeping watch for Pastrengo (8 000 men) were not engaged,each sides complexively deployed 42 000 men:Radetzky kept only 10 000 well-entrenched men inside Verona.


Battle plan[edit]

Besieging army divided itself in three columns:the first,moving on the left to Crocebianca,was composed by Savona Brigade and Savoia Brigade (3d Corp)led by general Broglia;the second,moving on the center to San Massimo,was composed by Regina Brigade and Aosta Brigade(1st Corp) led by gen.Bava;the third,moving from Villafranca to Santa Lucia on the right,was composed by Casale Brigade and Acqui Brigade,led by general Passalacqua;Cuneo Brigade and the cavalry squadrons were kept as reserves.


Advance begins on 6 May,obstacled by Sardinians'little knowledge of territory,and only the central column reached enemy (while on right,Bava divisions lost contact with the rest of Sardinian army)".[2] .

Fighting begins[edit]

Santa Lucia occupied[edit]

Parallel attempt at Croce Bianca[edit]

Refusal to continue the battle[edit]


The Austrians make a show of pursuit[edit]

Failure to re-enter[edit]

Minor Austrian counter-attack[edit]

Military content[edit]

Failed uprising in Verona[edit]

Radetzky's boasting[edit]


Errors in fortification[edit]

A lost opportunity[edit]


  1. ^ G. Solinas. Storia di Verona. Verona, Centro Rinascita, 1981. p.420
  2. ^ Carlo Cattaneo, Considerazioni sul 1848, 1949, Einaudi, Torino.