Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848-70 (1)
(by Gabriele Esposito; illustrated by Giuseppe Rava)
Last month, Osprey published in its Men-at-Arms collection the first of a two books series about Italian conflicts of XIX century.
Italian Wars of Unification is a subject always neglected by the international publications, at least from a uniformologic point of view. Of course in Italy it's a more common theme, but it's really cool to start seeing it arising some interest abroad. The Italian Wars of Unification lasted about 22 years and saw the birth of Italy as a Nation. They offers a wide choice of scenarios for wargamers of any nationality. The numbers of factions involved, the many different uniforms (essentially a mix from original Italian design and foreign inspirations) have the potential to please both the warfare and the estethic lovers.
Of course there is still a lack of appropriate models, but there are some "promising" signals, I will talk about them in a separate post (stay tuned!).
The author, Gabriele Esposito, has done a great job of sinthesis. In fact describing the 1848-49 war as a single war is misleading. There is a proper campaign (Kingdom of Piedmont against Austrian), but there is an insurrection of Sicily (proclaming indipendence from the Kingdoms of the Two Sicilies) and many national uprising, in Rome (Republica Romana), Venice (Repubblica di Venezia) and other cities. So regular armies and volunteers twingles in confusing years.
Remember: the booklet is the first of two. In this one are described the armies of Piedmont and the Two Sicilies. For both you have a nice (even if schematic) introduction, organisation and different specialities are treated in order (infantry, cavalry corps, engineers, etc...) and then there is a short chapter about weaponry. Comparing it to other Osprey MAA, the uniformology is quite "light". Honestly it'd have been difficult to be more specific with so many troops to treat. Just assume Austrian armies of roughly the same period are treated in two different books (The Austrian Army 1836(1), for infantry and (2) for cavalry) and that's just one Nation! So I appreciate even more the skill of the author to concentrate the informations, many of them added in the description of the pictures inside the text or the plates, painted by Giuseppe Rava, probably the most skillful Italian military painter, compared to Angus McBride himself.
The plates are fantastic, they are a really great added value for the book, historically accurate and characterized by a great vivacity. In addition the booklet features a large number of illustrations and drawing from the period.
The next booklet will be focused on Papal army and volunteers.
My only complaint is about the chronology: the usual introduction about the conflict, more necessary because this is a greatly neglected conflict, has been splitted between the two books, thus in this one only 1848 events are described, the other years will be treated in the second one. I understand the choice from the point of view of the publisher, to respect the number of pages Osprey standard imposes. But this fact made me feel the book some of incomplete. I suppose is something it will be solved when this book will be placed in the shelves next to the second part. Luckily we shouldn't wait too long, I don't remember the publication date, but if I recall correctly should be available in some months time.
All the images are used with consent of G.Rava, taken from his official Facebook page, which I kindly suggest you to follow. The author is at disposition for any request from the Publisher.
PS If you're looking for the Austrians who fought the Italians (Kingdom of Sardinia at the beginning of the period), look for Osprey MAA 323 and 329! So actually we can consider Italian Wars of Unifications from Osprey to form a quadrilogy!