Page images


Proceedings of Joachim Murat, King of Naples.-His peculiar Situation. Suspicions against him.He blockades Rome.His complaints against France.Conduct on the lending there of Buonaparte.Arrives at Ancona, and attacks the Austrians at Catena.Proclaims the independence of Italy.Advances to the Panaro, and the Austrians retire to the Po.Neapolitans enter Florence, and follow the Austrians to Pistoia.Joachim reaches Ferrara, whence he is compelled to retreat.Xeapolitans fall back on all sides.Armistice refusedAction at Tolentino.Battle of San Germano.Flight of Neapolitans, and their army broken up.English Squadron at Naples.Convention.The City occupied by the Austrians.The Kingdom submits to Ferdinand, tcho enters the capital.Murat's attempts m Corsica.Lands in Calabria.Executed by Martial Law.

BEFORE we bring to a close the narrative of the extraordinary events in France, and of the changes of fortune experienced by the prime mover in these transactions, it will be proper to interpose a few of the parallel proceedings, and the ultimate fate, of that sovereign who owed to him his crown, and had never ceased to participate in his counsels.

It was observed in the history of the last year, that the King of Xaples, Joachim Murat, appeared to be placed i:i a peculiarly critical situation. His retention of that crown was obviously an anomaly in the political system of restoring the former state of things in Europe; and although the .service he had rendered to Austria by a powerful aid at the time it was engaged in a hard contest with the French arms in the north of italy, had been returned by a treaty of

friendship and alliance with the Austrian Emperor; yet the terms on which he stood with the other powers were far from satisfactory, The Bourbon Sovereigns had a family interest to replace the crown of Naples on the head of the King of Sicily; and the court of Great Britain, in close alliance with the latter, had never recognized the title of King Joachim, and had only agreed to a suspen sion of hostilities against him, when his co-operation was of advantage to the common cause. The British cabinet did indeed consider that tins was preliminary to a treaty with him, but it was upon the condition that a compensation should elsewhere be found for the King of Sicily. Joachim was long in anxious expectation of the signature of such a treaty by the English minister j and on December 29, 1814, his ministers at Vienna delivered to


Lord Castlereagh a memorial, requesting the speedy conclusion of a definitive treaty of peace between the two crowns.

Long before this time, however, Murat had become an object of suspicion; and Lord William Bentinck, who had closely observed him, gave, in a letter to Lord Castlereagh, dated January 7, 1815, the following, among^ other remarks on the subject:— "There can be no doubt that all the advantages contemplated in the alliance with Murat, by Austria and the allies, would have been realized, if he had embarked honestly and cordially in the cause; but his policy was to save his crown, and to do this, lie must always be on the side of the conqueror. His first agents were Bent to me after his return from Leipsic. He then thought Napoleon's affairs desperate. His language was plain and sincere. He said, 'Give me an armistice, and I will march with the whole of the army against the French. Give me the friendship of England, and 1 care not for Austria, or the rest of the world.' Subsequently, when Austria came to seek his alliance, he naturally discovered both his own importance, and the uncertain issue of the contest. He then began to entertain views of aggrandizement; and by possessing himself of the whole South of Italy, he seemed to think he could render himself independent, whatever might be the event of the war." His Lordship proceeds to speak of the counsels by which Murat was governed. He describes him as equally remarkable forhis courage in the field,, and his indecision in

the cabinet, which disposition was worked upon by two contending parties in his court, the French, and the Neapolitans. His attachment was manifestly to the former, and he was anxious to keep with him his French officers, who were continually magnifying the success of the French army, arid endeavouring to fix him in alliance with their country. It further appears, that Lord W. Bentinck entertained strong suspicions of the good faith of Murat, even whilst acting with the allies, and that he had a serious difference with him on that account; and also the Austrian General, Bellegarde, was fully of the same opinion.

In the latter part of the preceding year, Murat had put in motion a considerable body of troops, with the apparent intention of occupying an additional share of the territories of the church; and at the end of January a Neapolitan army, said to consist of 25,000 men, was posted near Rome, so as in a manner to blockade it on the side of Naples. The Pope, who had sent a memorial of his complaints to the Austrian court, remained in the city with his cardinals, trusting to the sanctity of his character for his sole defence. About this period, the Duke of Camppehiaro, the Neapolitan minister at the congress of Vienna, presented a note to Prince Metternich, in which, after representing that his Sovereign considered himself as in-, eluded in the peace of Paris, among the allies of the coalesced, powers, he complained pf the delay of his most Christian Majesty to recognize him, and urged the Emperor Emperor of Austria to exert his influence with the court of France, in order to procure him this justice. That the French cabinet had before this time formed the design of obliging Murat to resign the crown of Naples to King Ferdinand, was rendered apparent by a letter made public, from the Prince of Benevento (Talleyrand), to Lord Castlereagh, proposing a plan of attack upon him. The Duke of C'ampochiaro, when he presented his note, informed the Austrian minister, that he was directed to ask for a passage for 80,000 men into France through the Austrian dominions in Italy, who should pay for all which they consumed; which request induced the Emperor's cabinet to take measures for the security of Italy, and to reinforce their troops in that country.

At this period, as already observed, an active correspondence was carrying on between Naples nnd the isle of Elba; but it may be doubted whether Joachim was entrusted with Buonaparte's desipi of landing in France. As soon as the intelligence of this event reached Naples, he called together his council, and informed them of his determination to adhere to his alliance with the Emperor of Austria, and to remain faithful to the system of the allied powers. An assurance to this purpose was communicated to the Imperial Ambassador at his court, and ilso to the Plenipotentiaries at the congre«s of Vienna. The whole of the Neapolitan army was now in movement towards the frontier, and it was announced, that Joachim was immediately to follow, and establish his head

quarters at Ancona. For some days lie appeared to be in a state of great agitation. He held frequentinterviews with some French officers at Naples^ several of whom he dispatched to France; but he delayed his own departure from Naples, and the advance of his troops, which was attributed to the news of the failure of Buonaparte's attempt to gain possession of Antibes. In fact, he seems to have been under the impression of all that doubt and fluctuation which naturally attends a man acting a double part, and irresolute which side to take. When, however, the news arrived of Buonaparte's entrance into Lyons, he made known that he considered the cause of Napoleon as his own, at the same time requiring a passage through the Roman states for two of his divisions. The Pope protested against this violation of his territory, and withdrew to Florence.

On March 19, King Joachim arrived at Ancona, and put himself at the head of his troops. He entered the Pope's dominions on the 22d, and, with his main body, proceeded from the Marches to the Legations, where, on the 30th, he began hostilities, by attacking the Imperialists posted at Cesena, who retired before him. The consequence was, a declaration of war against him by Austria. He issued at Rimini, on the 31st, a proclamation addressed to the Italians, calling upon them universally to assert their independence, and liberate themselves from the dominion of foreigners; and asserting that eighty thousand Neapolitan's, under the command, of their king:, were hastening to their assistance. The Imperial General, Bianchi, retired before the Neapolitan army, till he reached the Fanaro, where, on April the 4th, he made head against the enemy, on the road to Modena. The result, of the action was, that Bianchi continued his retreat to Carpi, and afterwards took a strong position on the Po. The Grand Duke of Tuscany at this time quitted his capital, and retired to Pisa, and on the fith, the Neapolitans entered Florence, which was evacuated by the Austrian General, Nugent. The latter retired to Pistoia, whither he was followed by the Neapolitan General, Pignatelli, who made repeated attacks on the Austrians, in all of which he was repulsed with loss; and this was the limit of the advance of the Neapolitans on that side.

Their main army, under the immediate direction of King Joachim, was in the mean time pushing forward towards Ferrara; and it being considered by the Austrian Generals as of esssential consequence to defend this point, Baron Frimont ordered the Lieutenant Field-marshal Mohr, to advance from the tete-dc-pont of Occhio Bello, and make an attack upon the enemy. This was effected on the 12th by Mohr, whilst Count Neipperg threatened the flank of the Neapolitans; and its success was such, that they were driven from all their works, and Ferrara was delivered. The retreating Neapolitans were pursued towards Bologna. General Bianchi had at this tima driven the invaders from Carpi, and had recovered Modena; so

that the vicinity of the Po was entirely freed from theNeapolitan?. The latter continued their retreat at all points. On the lGth, the van of the Austrian army entered Bologna, which had been hastily abandoned by Joachim. It was now manifest, that whatever were the wishes of the Italians for independence, no co-operation could be expected on their parts; and that the grand scheme of uniting Lombardy against the Austrian dominion, and forming a powerful dhersion in favour of Buonaparte in that quarter, was beyond the talents of Murat with a Neapolitan army. From Bologna, the pursuit was continued by the Austrian division under Count Neipperg, which successively occupied Imola, Faenza, and Forli. A large corps of Neapolitans being entrenched at Cesena, the Count made an attack upon iton the2Ist, and a brisk action ensued, after which, the position was abandoned, and the troops hastily retreated.

On the 21st, General Millet de Villeneuve, chief of the Neapolitan staff, sent a letter to the Austrian commander, for the purpose of obtaining an armistice. He said, that the King of Naples, under the apprehensions for the security of his states, excited by the negotiations at Vienna, and in consequence of thcevents which seemed likely to renew the coalition against France, had thought proper to occupy the line which he held during the last war, the result of which, an attack by the Austrian troops; that he had eventually found himself engaged in a war with a great power without intending it; but that having now learned by communications with


XiOrd Bentinck, that the hostilities commenced against him were not the result of a settled plan; and, moreover, that England was likely to take a part in the war if it should be continued, he had determined upona retrogrademovement; that he hai made overtures to the Court of Vienna, from which he expected a happy issue, and therefore proposed an armistice to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. The only answer which this singular explanation of his conduct received was, that positiveorders had been given for continuing military operations with vigour. Indeed, it cannot -be doubted, that the Austrian Kwperor and his allies were, well pleased that they had so good a plea, for dethroning one, whose possession of a crown conquered from its hereditary owner, made a breach in their system of restoration.

On the 27th, Joachim had fallen back as far as Pcsaro. General Bianchi was now marching w i thcelerity from Bologna through Florence and Foligno, in order to occupy the direct road from Ancona to Naples, and thereby to turn the positions of the Neapolitan army. On May the 'id, he took a position in front of Tolentino, •which rendered it necessary for Joachim to venture a battle, for the purpose of securing a retreat to the Neapolitan frontier. Advancing from Macerata with a much superior force, on the same day he attacked the positions of Bianchi, and the contest continued till the approach of night. On the following morning, the attacks were renewed with great vigour, and were resisted with equal obstinacy, till night again put an

end to the combat. The arrival of Count Neipperg at Jesi, now obliged the Neapolitans to commence a precipitate retreat in the direction of Fermo, in order to gain the road along the sea-coast to Pescara. General Nugent, who had entered Rome, marched from that capital in the beginning of May towards the Neapolitan frontier on that side, the enemy retiring before him. They were at length driven beyond the Garigliano to San Germano, to which they were followed by the Austrian advanced guard. On the 14th, Joachim arrived at San Germano, and his troops being considerably reinforced, he drove back the advanced guard, and afterwards attacked all the Austrian out-posts. On the 15th he began again to retire, and returning with a small escort to San Germano, he soon left that place. Nugent resuming the offensive, advanced against the enemy, who were posted on the banks of the Melfa, which they quitted on his approach. They afterwards left San Germano to their pursuers, and fell back to Mignano, where they drew up in force. In that position they were attacked, and put to the rout; and thus the Neapolitan army, named that of the Interior, was entirely broken up. On the 18th, a junction was formed at the Austrian camp, near Calvi, of liianchi's army with that of Nugent, who had now no opponents in the field, the wretched remains of the Neapolitan army being reduced, chiefly by desertion, to a dispirited band of about sixteen thousand effective soldiers of all kinds.

Inconsequence of arrangements made

« PreviousContinue »