Frank Leward: Memorials
Same to the Same
Same to the Same.
Dear Mr. Saunders. It would be impossible to give you a very clear idea of our progress since I left Palermo. I was there for some time after I wrote last the General wanted me to help him look after some things he was expecting from England and we didnt get on till the 18th of July by a Scotch cattle ship with an old North country captain an awfully rough specimen and landed at Patti and got on to Milazzo by Barcelona.
We found Dunn and Col. Wyndham had been having a lot of skirmishes with the enemy and had kept them off but their men had got awfully demoralized and there was precious little discipline among them. It was only the arrival of Garibaldi and his great influence over them and their hatred of the Neapolitan government kept them together at all. The feeling of devotion and trust in Garibaldi is greater than ever since all the success he has had lately.
We fought them at Milazzo on the 20th the Neapolitans under Bosco had 7000 properly armed and twelve guns we had barely 4000 most of them Sicilians precious little use and a lot of them only small boys. The General was as cool as anything all the time leading his men on most of the time with his stick in his hand and a cigarette in his mouth. While the fighting was hottest and I was beginning to think it was going against us I came on page 313him quietly sitting by a small stream where he had been washing his shirt and was looking at it hanging up to dry I never saw such a man. The Swiss and Germans under Bosco fought well as long as they were under cover but they were no match for our men when it came to an open tussel and the Neapolitan soldiers and officers are the verriest scum of the earth no earthly good and almost bigger cowards than the Turkish officers I think. Garibaldis own men fought grandly but theyd have been licked if it hadnt been for Dunn and Wyndham who turned the tables on the enemy at last.
On the 22nd two days after that the Old Aberdeen came in the only ship that dare come because of the Neapolitan ships which fired on them if they came. The old Captain said he didnt care a dam hed got to land a lot of ammunition for us from Palermo and he was paid for doing it and hed do it and dam all the firing and as soon as he had landed his cargo he went back to Palermo for some more.
Soon after that the Neapolitans began gradually to sneak out of Sicily giving it up to the Dictator. The King wrote to him thanking him for what he had done and accepting Sicily but begging him not to go over to the main land. Hes a cur that King I dont like him. As though the General would have done all he has to leave the Neapolitan government as strong as ever in Naples to go on with their tyranny and brutal cruelties. The Generals answer was awfully good he showed it me before he sent it hed made his program he said and must carry it out. Francesco Secondo wrote to the General page 314too the other day he seems in an awful funk and wanted to buy Garibaldi oft He said he would give him twelve million francs and 50,000 men to go against Venice or the Pope. Thats the style of man supposed to be awfully faithful to the Pope. Hed see him driven out any day or any one else either if he could only get rid of our General.
On the 28th of July we entered Messina the people in a tremendous state of excitement our men especially the adolescenti kicking up a tremendous row. Padre Giovani as they call our fighting priest with his black cross in his hands and a couple of revolvers in his belt preaching like anything at the Cathedral and finishing up by calling for three evivas for Garibaldi three more for Victor Emanuel and three for La Madonna Santissima. It was awfully exciting. We were all the time making the best preparations we could for crossing over. We didnt however get across till Aug. 18th and then we could hardly get boats enough. We started from Taormina in the Franklin. The captain said she wasnt ready so the General took it across himself. He and I were engaged plugging a big hole up in the bottom most of the time she leaked fearfully and was covered with men swarming all over her. I thought we should have gone down once or twice. However we landed all right at last at Capo d'Armi the south spur of Aspromonte.
I got your letter and one from Bampton while we were at Messina. Im awfully glad Bampton's coming I wish you could come too. I dont know about my coming to England though. I must stop here and see this out first page 315but I told the general if we kick Francesco out of Naples Im not going on with him to Rome if that's part of his programme. I feel sometimes as though Id rather finish up fighting than come to England at all.
It was curious to see the difference between the Calabrians and the Sicilians. In some places we have come through they are sort of Greek and speak Greek and wear a sort of Greek dress and look much more Greek than Italian. They were awfully pleased to see us and a lot joined us at once.
Next day after we got across we set off for Reggio. We heard there were 12,000 of the enemy there and I was rather in a funk. It looked awfully lovely though as we got near Reggio its built on the shore sloping down from the Castle with its jolly gardens behind and the bay of Catania and Etna with white smoke going up in front There wasnt much cause for fear as it happened because as we entered the people received us awfully well and the national guard joined us and we caught a lot of the enemy going down to a fort on the shore. The rest with the stupid old general Gallotta shut themselves up in the Castle. We had a go for that the next day and they defended it well for them but we took it at last by one of Garibaldis flank movements and surprised them so they didnt know what to do. Their poor old general was almost crying and all he could say was "Io aspettava che Garibaldi miattachasse d'avanti ed invece é venuto di dietro." So they capitulated and were allowed to go without their arms and we found a lot of ammunition there. In my page 316opinion that old Gallotta or whatever his name is ought to have been shot by rights or hung for as soon as we entered the town he imitated Lanza at Palermo and began a senseless stupid fire on his own town and people. Its just like them when we enter a place and the people rise and join us the Neapolitan government shows its spite by destroying their own people they are supposed to protect.
From Reggio we went on to Bagnara by the sea coast and it was awfully pretty. Churches vineyards terraces and palaces right up the mountain sides. The General was awfully particular to keep good order among the men they werent allowed to touch a thing. He had some men shot for taking grapes as they went by a vineyard. At Bagnara I slept on the sands and then we went on again. These people are ever so much finer than the Sicilians and their love and devotion to the General seems to increase every day they are determined to make Italy a free nation under Victor Emanuel.
As we got near Palmi I thought the view beat every thing I had ever seen. We went through forests of chestnuts and olives and sometimes we had the coast of Sicily in view and the islands out at sea and when it got dark Stromboli sending up flames and smoke and to the north the Gulf of Agioia and Capo Vaticano it made a splendid picture.
On the 28th we got to Nicolera in a broiling heat then to Militto where we heard the enemy was only four miles a-head of us shying away their arms and going off as fast as they could and that they had shot one of their page 317generals General Briganti so as to be able to say they had shot somebody I suppose.
Milittos an awfully curious old place built a tremendous time ago and full of churches and priests. They all turned out priests and all to welcome us and seemed awfully glad we were come. We got on to Monteleone at night and the view there seemed better still its up a good height and we could see all round in the morning as we went down to Pizzo. The General was surrounded there by a lot of people who have come to meet him and bother him fearfully. At one place Curinga the people called him "II nostro secondo Gesu Christo" very different to his enemies who tell them he has sold himself to the devil and cant be hit and shakes the bullets out of his shirt when he goes to bed.
Peard was a little way a head of us with a few men and they came on 7000 of the enemy and called out to them to surrender as cool as possible and they all surrendered like a shot you never saw such fools. I cant describe all the villages and places we came through in a sort of triumphal progress. Castrovillari was one of the nicest of them much better streets and awfully welllpaced and cleaner than most. The people there seem to have suffered more than anywhere from the Neapolitan Government. They told us every tenth man at least had been stuck in prison for something or other by the government. They all rose and received us splendidly as they did all the way along the priests at the head of them. They are a very religious people there. Then we went through the Bassilicata and Rotondo. I went page 318on a head with Col. Peard and got here the day before yesterday. There were about 12,000 Neapolitan troops here but they went off as we went in and the town surrendered to us.
It was the greatest joke you ever saw the people thought Peard was the General He is like him and has the same sort of dress and all the swells of the place came the Bishop Judges Municipal swells and all to have an audience with him. He received them as cool as anything and listened to all they said without theyre having any idea it wasnt the General till up came the General himself in a carriage and saw what was up and called out like the rest when he saw Peard viva Garibaldi and everybody roared.
Ive been up early this morning writing all this rigmarole as I expect we shall be off soon for Naples. I wish I could remember all that has happened. There are a lot of people swarming in from Naples to see us by Jove I believe thats Bamptons voice
8th. It was old Bampton not a bit changed I was glad Ive just got time to shut this up were off to Naples Yours