Giuseppe Avezzana

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Giuseppe Avezzana

Giuseppe Avezzana (19 February 1797 in Chieri, Piedmont – 25 December 1879 in Rome) was an Italian soldier who fought in Europe and America.


He served under Napoleon I from 1813 until the fall of the empire, and then, joining the Sardinian army, found himself in 1815 arrayed against his old leader, who had made his escape from Elba. His American career began soon after the restoration of Ferdinand VII to the Spanish throne in September 1823. Avezzana fought against the restoration, was captured, was held for several weeks as a prisoner, and sailed for America on being set free.

Wherever there was a chance to fight for liberty, Avezzana was at hand, and hardly was he fairly established on American soil when he found himself called upon to defend the state of Tamaulipas against his old enemies the Spaniards, who invaded the territory under General Barradas in June 1827. He was obliged to retire at first before superior numbers, but soon rallied a force sufficient to overthrow the invaders, and afterward resumed his peaceful vocations.

In 1832, a revolution was organized by Antonio López de Santa Anna against the government of Anastasio Bustamante, and Avezzana was, as always, ready to lead the revolt. Left in command at Tampico by General Montezuma, who went to stir up the revolutionists elsewhere, he maneuvred so successfully with a small force that they captured three times their number of government troops at Ciudad Victoria, with artillery and supplies. From this time he gave the enemy no rest, but retrieved the disasters that had befallen Santa Anna and Montezuma, and mainly through his able military leadership the liberal cause triumphed.

Avezzana immediately resigned his command, and in 1834 went into business in New York City, where he married an Irish lady and led a quiet mercantile life until the revolutions of 1848 fired his patriot blood again, and he promptly responded to the call of Italy. He was absent just a year, and only returned to America after he had fought the Austrians and Sardinians at Genoa, and with a few thousand followers had defended Rome for two months against the allied armies, 100,000 strong. Once he sought refuge on board an American and once on board a British man-of-war, and at last, when the cause of freedom was hopelessly crushed, escaped with his usual good luck to America and resumed his mercantile life in New York.