Mid-Nineteenth-Century European Wars

Frederick C. Schneid

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:
Mid-Nineteenth-Century European Wars

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Wars in the mid-19th century reflected the changing nature of European society, politics, and economy. The Napoleonic Wars led to an understanding by the major European powers that a general European conflict should be avoided at all costs. The principles accepted at the Congress of Vienna formed the foundation of 19th-century diplomacy. This was particularly so through 1848. Revolutions became the greatest threat to European peace, and military interventions to suppress or prevent the exportation of revolution abounded between 1820 and 1849. Thereafter the origins and course of the Crimean War offered the first major crisis, which threatened to expand into a general European war. The Risorgimento, the movement for Italian unification, failed as a revolutionary idea, but its acceptance by the House of Savoy, the rulers of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, became the basis of active diplomacy to force Austria from its Italian possessions. The First War of Italian Unification (1848–1849) began with promise, but the skill of the local Austrian commander in Lombardy-Venetia and the ill-coordinated Italian efforts doomed the campaign of 1848 and the foolhardiness of 1849. Although the war failed to eject Austria from northern Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi’s reputation as a determined Italian nationalist soared. During the Second War of Italian Unification (1859–1861), a coordinated effort by Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, Napoléon III, and Garibaldi succeeded in bringing much of the peninsula under the Savoyard banner. The war in 1859, followed by the Garibaldian and Piedmontese campaigns in 1860, succeeded in establishing a Kingdom of Italy. The Third War of Unification (1866) was tied directly to Prussia’s bid for supremacy in Germany, and while the Austrians defeated the Italian army in Venetia, Prussia’s victory in Bohemia led to the eventual transfer of that Habsburg-controlled kingdom to Italy. Most notably, the wars of the mid-19th century witnessed the employment of modes of transportation and weaponry that were direct products of the Industrial Revolution. Trains, steam-powered navies, the telegraph, percussion-cap rifled muskets using the minié ball, and rifled artillery all played a central role in the conduct and course of war.

Article.  7043 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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