Monthly Archives: July 2017

The entry of the Pontifical troops into Rome, after their victory at Mentana 1867

The Battle of Mentana was fought on November 3, 1867 near the village of Mentana, just outside Rome, [about three miles]   between French-Papal troops and the Italian volunteers led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, who were attempting to capture Rome, which was not unified to Kingdom of Italy until three years later.

— We have received the following from our Roman Correspondent, under date of Rome, November 15.—

The entry of the Pontifical troops after their victory at Mentana took place last Wednesday. Nothing could be more imposing than the spectacle, and it offered the most convincing proof possible that the Roman population considered the triumph of the army as their own, and was resolved to show their feeling on the matter. The Porta Pia was the gate by which the troops were to arrive, and long before the hour fixed every window was filled, every balcony draped, and stores of autumn flowers laid up, to shower on the victorious troops.

Porta Pia, Rome.

They entered with banners displayed, trumpets sounding and the Commander-in-Chief, General Kanzler, who had gone outside the gate to meet them, at their head. His Excellency was accompanied by the French General de Failly, and on reaching the Piazza Pia they drew up, surrounded by their respective staffs, and the long line of troops defiled before them. The Zouaves came first and were cheered again and again by the crowd. The great Roman families joined heartily in the demonstration, and the French General appeared as much excited as any one, and repeatedly turned to General Kanzler and pressed his hand, as company after company of the flower of the French Catholic youth passed, victorious, before them. The Legion, too, were admirably received, and so were the gallant Swiss Chasseurs, whose conduct at Mentana under Colonel Jeannerot and Major Castella was beyond praise.

Madame Kanzler’s carriage driving up at the same moment, her Excellency was received with a very warm demonstration, and no wonder, for, from the first arrival of the wounded of Bagnorea and Monte Libretti, she has consecrated herself with unwearied energy to the care of the hospitals, and has devoted her entire time to the consolation and nursing of our brave soldiers. A Roman by birth, her danger, in case of a reverse, would, from the courageous and active part she has taken in the cause, and from her husband’s position, have been greater than that of any other person, but this consideration, fully weighed and met, has never deterred her from her noble task.

It is one of the most curious signs of the present time the military enthusiasm which has seized on the Roman people and the pride it feels in its army. The lists of subscriptions for the wounded, for the soldiers and their families, are rapidly filling, each offering being in the Italian fashion generally accompanied by a sentence in praise of the Pontifical troops.

It is only now we are beginning to realise what we have escaped from. The recent perquisitions made have brought to light some terrible revelations of the intentions of the sect. Five hours’ pillage was to have been allowed by the Garibaldian army. The churches and convents were to have been sacked, the priests massacred, the nuns insulted. Hundreds of barrels loaded with shot were found ; and ” pour comble ” [to cap it all]  a well made guillotine, with axe, rollers, pulley, and all, “en regle”, [ready for use]  was among the moral forces discovered in the search for arms.

Five cases of guns addressed to Mr. Odo Russell [ From 1858 until August 1870,  the real, though unofficial, representative of Britain at the Vatican. He was the nephew of Lord John Russell, Prime Minister between 1846 – 1852, and again 1865 -1866 ] were recently seized by the police, a circumstance at least awkward for a diplomatic agent, and of which it is to be hoped some satisfactory explanation will be afforded.

It was arranged that on a certain day, the 30th of October or 1st of November, the column of Garibaldi, numbering 15,000, the column of Acerti, 15,000, the column of Pincigiacci, 15,000, were to concentrate their collective force of nearly 60,000 men on Rome from ten different points of Monte Rotondo, Viterbo, Velletri, and Froeinone. The Finanziere or custom-house officers of the Porta San Paolo had been bought over, and all was prepared for the supreme attack. Had not the French landed in time, it is difficult to realise what would have been the end. It was-resolved, in case of the worst, that all who wished to share the fate of the Holy Father and his defenders should cross the Tiber, and St.Spirito and the bridge of St. Angelo being blown up, the Leonine city was to have been defended to the very last, all being ready to have died on the very staircases of the Vatican, if need were,, round the throne of Pius IX. The fort could have held out eight days at least, and in that interval help might arrive from France. The army numbered 10,000, and was ready to fight à l’outrence under the conduct of its heroic and devoted general. Surrender under any circumstances was not spoken of. It was a word erased from the vocabulary while a single Garibaldian remained on the Pontifical territory, and had the French delayed their arrival, Europe would have heard of a wholesale martyrdom, but not of a capitulation.

His Holiness celebrated Mass in the Sixtine Chapel on Friday, the 8th, for the repose of the souls of those who fell in battle since the beginning of the campaign. He was so deeply moved that he could scarcely continue the concluding prayers.

On Saturday, the 9th, we celebrated the obsequies of Julian Watts Russell at the English College. I can add nothing to the beautiful notice by Padre Cardella, his confessor, which I enclose, and which I feel sure you will give a place to in your columns. It was to all present a source of hope and trust for England, that she has given two glorious martyrs to the Temporal Power since the beginning of the present campaign, and the names of Alfred Collingridge and Julian Russell will never be forgotten by English Catholics, when they recall the memory of Monte Libretti and Mentana.

At the same hour as the requiem in the English College another on a far larger scale was performed at San Lorenzo, for the souls of MM. De Veaux and Deodat Dufournel. As your readers will remember, his younger brother, Emmanuel Dufournel, was killed in battle at Farnese. Deodat, who was attached to the staff of the Zouaves, was shot down at Villa Cecchina, while conducting a perquisition in one of the houses filled with Garibaldians, and died, after linger-ing a week, in the hospital of St. Spirito. He was universally beloved and deplored, and the entire corps of officers followed his remains and those of the gallant De Veaux to the grave.

The Zouaves, I am happy to say,are daily increasing, and the certainty which exists in the minds of all classes here that the meeting of the Chambers in Florence will hurry on the catastrophe in which the Pontifical army must again be called into action, is acting as a spur to the recruitment in every country and to the movement in favour of the increase and armament of the Pontifical forces. The third battalion of’ Zouaves will be formed to-day under the conduct of Captain D’Albions, one of the oldest and most experienced officers in the regiment, and who previously served in the French army. The recruits at the depot were 1,100 yesterday, and among them are the Baron De Farelle, the Comte De Montmorin, Mr. Vavasour, of Hazelwood, Mr. Hansom, M. Henri de Riancey (son of the Catholic journalist), and an immense number of young men belonging to the first French and Belgian families. It is considered impossible that the status quo can be maintained in Italy. It is most uncertain whether the French will remain – if they do it will only be to make an end of the Italian kingdom, whose state is a perpetual menace to the cause of order in Europe; and it is more than probable that in such a case the Pope’s troops would be called on to reoccupy Umbria and the Marches. At all events, the Papal army must be rendered sufficiently strong to occupy the territory of the Pope as it stands at present, and this cannot be done save by the united action of Catholics in every country.

The points most important are the enrolment of volunteers and the purchase of the very beat arms of precision. The Meyer rifle, with an improvement firing eighteen shots per minute, has been accepted, and the funds are now being raised as fast as possible in France and Belgium. “Bis dat qui cito dat “  [he gives twice, who gives promptly,] was never so completely exemplified as in the present case. We cannot wait for arms, for the attack will be renewed in the spring, and breechloaders are essential. Had the Pontifical army been armed with them at Mentana, not a Garibaldian could have escaped. The Chassepot, too, far from the best rifle invented, did wonders in the hands of the French reserve ; but the Zouaves had only the Minie of 1856 and the bayonet to rely on, and what they did with them proves what they would have done had they been properly armed.

I enclose General Kanzler’s official report of the battle, from which you will see what a decisive action Mentana was.

The police of Florence are, it appears, in jubilation since Mentana. There are neither thefts nor murders in the city, which has been emptied of its dangerous elements since the battle. The Pope, who received the French officers in audience on Wednesday, told them that Italy, of all countries, ought to be grateful to them for having rid her of a revolution more dangerous to her than to any other.

It is uncertain what dispositions will be taken in regard of the Garibaldian prisoners, and the opinion that the French Government will charge itself with their deportation to Cayenne is that most in favour. It would be the most prudent, as, in spite of the kindness with, which they have been treated, the antecedents and characters of the greatest proportion are such as to forbid any hope of honour or gratitude, and they would return to their life of pillage and rapine at the first opportunity.

The above text was found on p.1, 23rd November 1867 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

Lords Walter and Frederick Fitzgerald. The Kildare Observer 24th October 1898

Frederick (1857 -1924) and Walter Fitzgerald (1858 – 1923) were younger sons of the 4th Duke of Leinster. They were the eighth, and ninth, children respectively, and the third , and fourth sons. Both seemed to have lived mostly ay Kilkea Castle which was one of the family homes, but not at Carton House, in co. Kildare, which was the family seat in the nineteenth century, until its sale in 1920’s to pay the gambling debts of the 7th Duke. Lord Walter Fitzgerald was an antiquarian, and Irish historian.

The Kildare Observer 24 October 1898

The Leinster Family – Lords Walter & Frederick Fitzgerald

References to the old family of the Fitzgeralds were made recently in the “Daily Independent.” Writing with regard to Lords Walter and Frederick, the “Independent” says: –

Aerial View Kilkea Castle

“Lord Walter Fitzgerald resides at Kilkea Castle, Co. Kildare, a charming old residence which has been for centuries one of the family places of the Earls of Kildare. Now that the tradition of 1798 have been revived, sombre interest is attached to the place, by reason of the fact that Lord Edward Fitzgerald interested himself to procure a lease of the Castle and lands from his brother, the Duke of Leinster, for his friend, Thomas Reynolds, one of the Leinster Council of the United Irishmen. But Reynolds lived, never suspected of the deepest treachery which ever disgraced the name of Irishman. This Reynolds it was who gave information to the Government, which resulted in the arrest in Bond’s house of the Revolutionary Directorate just a few days before the appointed date of the Insurrection. He bargained his price and he was paid it. In Kilkea are some valuable family paintings, and perhaps, the best portrait by Hamilton, of the ill-fated Lord Edward hangs upon the walls of the Library.

Lord Walter takes a keen interest in the life and times of Lord Edward, for he is a thorough Irishman, and delights to dwell upon the glorious traditions of the House of Geraldine. He is a well known archaeologist and is an authority upon Celtic nomenclature. When the editor of the “Weekly Independent” was compiling material for his article for the Christmas Number of that newspaper, Lord Walter gave him much valuable information and, unhesitatingly placed at his disposal many documents which were of rare value and historical worth. Perhaps the most significant, certainly the most pathetic treasure in Kilkea, is the plastic cast from the inscription cut in the wall of the cell in the Tower of London, by “Silken Thomas” over four hundred years ago. It reads: “Thomas Fitzger.” The Lord of O’Fally was dragged to the headsman before his hand had finished the inscription. It was at Kilkea that the Wizard Earl of Kildare practised the black arts; and there is a story accredited to present day, that on breaking down a wall in the place long ago, a secret chamber was discovered, wherein sat the figure of a grey haired man poring over a parchment covered with strange characters. With the rush of air the form crumbled away, and nothing remained but a handful of dust.

Beneath the shadow of Kilkea Castle is an old burying ground, moss and lichen overspreading many a forgotten slab and grave. There is humour in all things, and Lord Walter Fitzgerald will not let you depart until you take a look at one headstone which is a perpetual joke. It reads: –

Erected by
THOMAS O’TOOLE.
1779,
In memory of his posterity.

A Scottish antiquarian strayed down to Kilkea once upon a time, and the humour of this penetrated into his brain, and in the excess of his astonishment he offered to purchase the tombstone. Needless to say, he left without even taking away even a rubbing of the grim piece of humour that laughs on one hundred years after the good-hearted Thomas O’Toole was laid to rest. Lord Walter has, since the publication of “The Geraldine,” been pleased to express himself extremely gratified at the way Lord Edward’s life has been treated by the Editor of the “Weekly Independent.”

Lord Frederick Fitzgerald, the late Duke of Leinster’s eldest brother, is the guardian of the present young duke, whose charming personality has been noticed in this column. Lord Frederick, like his brother Lord Walter Fitzgerald, was pleased beyond measure when he heard that the story of Lord Edward Fitzgerald was to be made the subject of the Christmas number of the “Weekly Independent.” Like most others, he recognised that no brief and continuous narrative of Lord Edward was in existence, and he did his share in helping the editor of our contemporary in making his sketch authentic and complete. He placed the documents he had in the Carton [ Carton House, co. Kildare was the main family seat from 1815 until the 1920’s.] collection at the disposal of the editor of the “Weekly Independent,” and permitted Mr. W.C. Mills to make sketches of any historical articles or pictures which might be of interest. Of these latter, the pike presented by the United Irishmen to Lord Edward takes first rank.

Carton House, Maynooth, co. Kildare.

Lord Frederick Fitzgerald held a position in the Rifles, and saw a considerable amount of active service. Perhaps the most interesting part of his military career was when his battalion was on eviction duty in the North of Ireland. The peasants invariably drew a hard and fast line between the military and police, and whereas the R.I.C came in for all the contumely, the Rifles were “Never bothered at all, at all.” One day an old peasant, who had been reading in the “Derry Journal” that the men who resisted extermination following in the footsteps of Tone and Lord Edward Fitzgerald, came up to Lord Frederick as he stood in front of his company and asked “Tell me yer honour, aren’t you a relative of Lord Edward?”   “I am” answered the Major of the Rifles. “An’ why are ye here,” asked the peasant, “an’ Lord Edward such a friend of Mr Parnell’s?” Lord Frederick was dumbfounded, but managed to reply “Well, you see, Lord Edward is dead for nearly hundred years.”  “Divil may care,” replied the hardy peasant; “if he was alive wouldn’t he be on Parnell’s side?” “To tell you the truth” answered the officer, “I believe he would be.” That night the healths of Mr Parnell, Lord Edward, and the commander of the Rifle detachment were drunk in three times three in the house by the cross-roads.

An Irish outing – 1894

This just makes me smile..

The fourth Annual Excursion Meeting [of the County Kildare Archaeological Society]  took place on Tuesday, the 18th September (1894), at Castledermot, Kilkea, and district.

A special train was run from Kildare to Mageney, in connection with the morning trains on the main line.

Ruins of the Franciscan Abbey, Castledermot, co. Kildare.

On the arrival of the train at Mageney, the company betook themselves to the vehicles which were provided by the Society for the conveyance of the Members to the various places to be  visited during the day, and under the conductorship of Lord Walter FitzGerald, who, with Mr. Arthur Vicars, Ulster, had charge of the arrangements for the day, a long procession of vehicles started for Castledermot, three and a-half miles distant, where the forces of the Society were augmented by others who had driven from contiguous parts of the county. All assembled in the ruins of the Franciscan Abbey to hear a Paper of deep research read by the Vice-President of the Society, Most Rev. Dr. Comerford, who traced the history of the old abbey down from remote ages.

The next move was for the Church, where Lord Walter FitzGerald gave a short dissertation on the Round Tower attached to the church, on which subject he had already written a Paper in the Journal.

The chief interest in the churchyard however, was centred in the Old Celtic Cross, which had been restored by a former Duke of Leinster.

The Southern Cross, Castledermot cemetery, co Kildare

Miss Margaret Stokes (Hon. Member of the K.A.S.) gave a most interesting lecture on the fine Old Cross, describing the various scenes carved on the sides, and touching generally on the archaeology and history of Old Celtic Crosses, on which subject Miss Stokes is one of our greatest authorities.

The peculiar “hole stone” close by was pointed out and discoursed on by Lord Walter FitzGerald, after which luncheon was the order of the day. The company proceeded to the adjoining schoolhouse, kindly lent for the purpose by the Rev. C. Ganly, where Lord Walter FitzGerald had made most ample arrangements for those who had sent in their names for luncheon a few days before.

The Members and their friends then drove to Kilkea, some three and a-half miles distant, first visiting the ruins of the old church of Kilkea, Rev. C. Ganly shortly detailing its history, after which they proceeded to the Castle a few yards off, where they were received by the Ladies FitzGerald, and having taken up their position on the terrace, which formed an admirable natural lecture theatre, with the Castle in the background, the Rev. C. Ganly commenced a Paper on Kilkea Castle, which will be published in the Journal.

Kilkea Castle, co Kildare.

The whole Company then adjourned to the interior of the Castle to inspect the quaint old building, which is an admirable specimen of an Irish feudal castle, adapted to modern usage, with walls of prodigious thickness. Many antiquities were to be seen in the hall, and some interesting historical portraits, but we must remember that although this is the original residence of the FitzGeralds of ancient days, still Carton is now the principal seat of that family, where naturally are to be found its chief treasures and objects of historical family interest.

The Ladies FitzGerald had kindly invited the Society to tea, which formed a very welcome termination to the day’s proceedings. Mr. Mansfield having photographed those present in the Castle grounds, and it being now late, the party separated on the return journey to Mageney and Athy, to catch their various trains, having spent a very enjoyable day in most magnificent weather. On the whole the Members of the Society have reason to congratulate themselves on their annual excursions, which hitherto have always worked so satisfactorily, and given the Society quite a reputation for its Excursion Meetings.

Kilkea Castle, co Kildare.

The following Members and Visitors took part in the Excursion : —

The Earl of Mayo (President) ; The Countess of Mayo; Most Rev. Dr. Comerford (Vice-President), Mr. and Mrs. Cooke Trench; Mr. D. Mahony ; Mr. H. Hendrick-Aylnier, High Sheriff (Hon.Treasurer); Colonel Bonham ; Miss Bonham ; Mr. Mark Taylor ; Mr. Casimir O’Meagher; Mr. and Mrs. Mackay Wilson ; Lord Walter Fitz Gerald (Hon. Secretary) ; Mr. Arthur Vicars, Ulster King-of-Arms (Hon. Secretary) The Dean of Kildare, and Mrs. Cowell; Rev. C. W. Ganly ; Very Rev. Thomas Tynan; Rev. Denis Murphy ; Lady Weldon; Captain Weldon; Miss Margaret Stokes, Hon. Member, K.A.S. ; Colonel Vigors ; Mr. and Mrs. Grove White ; Mr. W. R. J. Molloy ; Mr. S. J. Brown; Rev. J. F. M. Ffrench ; Mr. T. J. Hannon; Rev. W. Elliott; Mr. J. R. Sutclitfe; Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Sweetman ; Mr. and Mrs. Carroll, and Miss Carroll; Rev. E. O’Leary; Rev E. Hogan; Rev. J. Dunne; Major and Mrs. Rynd; Rev. M. Devitt; Very Rev. Dr. Burke; Rev. M. Walsh ; Mr. L. Dunne; Colonel Wilson ; Mrs. Wall and Miss Scovill; Surgeon-Major Keogh; Miss Archbold; Lady Eva FitzGerald; Lady Mabel FitzGerald; Mr. J. Whiteside Dane; Mr. George Mansfield and Mrs. Mansfield; Rev. Canon Travers- Smith ; Rev. D. Meake ; Mr. Gerald FitzGerald; Mr. A. Wharburton; Mr. Morgan Mooney ; Miss Power; Miss Manders ; Mrs. Ross; Miss Browne; Mrs. Blake; Mrs. Engledow ; Rev. A. Kirkpatrick; Rev. P. Connolly ; Miss Jones ; Mr. R. L. Weldon ; Mrs, and Miss Taylor ; Mr. W. T. Kirkpatrick ; Mr. and Mrs. Vipond Barry ; Rev. J. D. Osborne, and Mrs. Osborne; Miss Braham ; Miss Elliott ; Miss Awdry; Miss H. M. Heathcote ; Miss M. Manders ; Mr, Thynne, C.B. ; Mrs. Woollcombe ; Mr. R. L, Woollcombe ; Rev. Mr. Mackey ; Rev. Mr. Gormley ; Miss Burroughs ; Miss Boyd ; Mr. Nicholas J. Synnott; Rev, J. Bird; Mr. Arthur Hade, C.E. ; Rev. B. C, Davidson Houston; Rev. James Adams; Mr. Thomas Greene; Mr. R. R. Kennedy, R.M.

From the Journal Of The Co. Kildare Archaeological Society And Surrounding Districts. Vol. 1. 1891 – 1895 . p. 352 – 353.

The Battle of Mentana, November 3rd 1867.

The Battle of Mentana was fought on November 3, 1867 near the village of Mentana, just outside Rome, [about three miles]   between French-Papal troops and the Italian volunteers led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, who were attempting to capture Rome, which was not unified to Kingdom of Italy until three years later.. The battle ended in a victory by the French-Papal troops. This is the report from “The Tablet” published on 23rd November 1867. As would be expected, it does take sides. It is still staggering that a Papal army was fighting just under one hundred and fifty years ago.

 

THE BATTLE OF MENTANA.

(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

ROME, Nov. 8th.

The events of the past week have been so stirring that I preferred waiting till a correct appreciation could be formed of their weight and extent, to sending you a hurried and unsatisfactory account of the great triumph of the Pontifical army. An hour or two after posting my last letter on Saturday afternoon received notice from the ambulance that the muster of the columns which was going to attack Monte Rotondo would take place at three in the morning of Sunday, at the Piazza delle Termine, and that those intending to form part of it must be there a few minutes earlier.

The Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, newly arrived on special duty from Marseilles, the Vicomte de Lupe, M. Keller (fils), De Ozanam and Mgri. Vergneaud, and Benoit D’Azy, under the direction of M. de St. Priest, formed the members of the French volunteer ambulance, and its place was in the centre of the attacking columns, immediately behind the artillery and cavalry. The night was rainy, but in spite of the weather the scene was picturesque beyond description. The troops were formed in line from the Baths of Diocletian to the Piazza Pia, and the red glare of the torches which lighted the march fell on the gigantic ruins of the Thermae, on the facade of the Maria degli Angeli, on the brazen helmets of the dragoons, and the Pontifical standard, which

“Wet with the mists, and smitten by the lights,

Blazed, making all the night a stream of fire,”

and guarded by the entire regiment of Zouaves, went on before us into the darkness, followed by the prayers and blessing of the Vicar of Christ, and the countless holy souls who were watching round the altars and in the cloisters of the Eternal City.

The long line, measuring more than three-quarters of a mile from van to rear, began to wind slowly through the Porta Pia, and the quick rattle of officers on horseback passing our carriage told us that the general and his staff were taking their place at the head of the column. General Kanzler was accompanied by his Royal Highness the Comte de Caserta, MM. de Bourbon, Charles de Maistre, Ungarelli, and a brilliant staff of officers. Colonel Allett, with M. de Charette, and the commandants De Troussures, and De Lambilly, headed the Zouaves. The Swiss under the commandant De Castella, the artillery commanded by M. de Nadin, the dragoons by the Count Von Loiningen, and the Legion by the Comte D’Azy, formed the effective force of the Pontifical column, numbering about six thousand men. The reserve was given to the French, under General Polhes, General Kanzler claiming the honour of the first attack. In spite of the bad weather, the troops were in the highest spirits. Most of the Zouaves had not slept save for an hour or two for twelve nights, from the constant alarm and fatigue duty, but there was no sign of wavering when the bugle sounded, and as the Porta Pia was passed and the column was fairly in the open country, the pace was quickened, and by the time the first dawn broke cold and grey over the Sabine Mountains, the troops had accomplished nearly half their march.

The sun rose at last, and though the weather was chill, damp, and threatening, the rain ceased, to the great satisfaction of every one. At the Ponte Nomentana three companies of Zouaves were detached from the column, and under the conduct of the commandant De Troussures, executed a movement to support the French reserve, and attack the Garibaldians at their flank outposts at Mentana, a village about two miles in advance of Monte Rotondo on the Roman side by the Ponte Manola road.

The Ponta Nomentano was secured and a strong guard of French chasseurs was left in charge of it to guard the retreat.

About five miles beyond Ponte Nomentana a halt was sounded, the hour being nearly ten o’clock, and the troops breakfasted. The pious Dominican chaplain, Pere Lignir, who, with Mgri. de Waelmont, Bastide, and three Jesuit Fathers, accompanied the ambulance, celebrated the Holy Sacrifice in presence of the army in a little wayside chapel attached to the Osteria. For many present it was their last Mass, and the devotion and fervour with which it was assisted at by the Zouaves especially, it is impossible to describe. By eleven we were again on the march, our route lying over the Campagna in a north-easterly direction, the villages of Monticelli, San Francesco, and Palombara lying to our right, and Tivoli in the same direction, bet further down the flank of the Sabine. The march became slower, for the heavy clay clung to the wheels of the carriages, and the artillery was constantly requiring to be lifted out of the mire. This continued across the Campagna for about two miles, and then the soil became lighter, and as we neared the village of Mentana the country became more wooded, and showed signs of enclosure and cultivation, and the road more practicable. Mentana was still invisible, being concealed from us by a circle of woody eminences, all of which we had reason to believe were occupied by the Garibaldians, and we knew that at Mentana itself they maintained a force of 700 men as the advanced post of Monte Rotondo, and General Kanzler had, even from the beginning, prepared for a stout resistance there, and took his measures accordingly.

The road by which Mentana was to be reached runs up a ravine lying between hills covered with light brushwood, and when we reached the first eminence above the champaign country, flanking companies were detached ” en tirailleur,” on either side of our march to prevent a surprise, and the artillery passing to the front, took up a position on a round hill commanding the ravine and the opposite heights, two ranges of hills, about 800 feet high, separating us from the enemy, who, as yet, gave no sign of life.

The bugle sounded from the Zouave ranks far on ahead ; General Kanzler and his staff, with the Count of Caserta, cantered up the line, and we finding that our drivers were not particularly anxious to pro-ceed further, with the prospect of immediate action, got down and proceeded on foot a little in the rear of the troops, to a point where we could observe the attack and where we resolved to establish our first ambulance.

We had not long to wait before the first sharp crack of the rifles broke the silence. From the bill we occupied we could plainly distinguish the scarlet shirts of the Garibaldian skirmishers, through the hazel and alder copsewood, and, in a few seconds, the whole edge of the heights was alive with their troops. Volley after volley rung through the thickets, and our cannon responded gallantly, doing terrible execution on the enemy, and protecting the advance of our column.

The Zouaves had, of course, the post of honour and of danger, the guerdon of their undying chivalry and devotion. Company after company swept by our post, the officers and men saluting the Sisters of St. Vincent of Paul, who, for the first time since their foundation, accompanied an army to the open battle-field ; and the cry of ” Vive la France ! Vive Pie IX. !” went up like a clarion note from the hearts of 2,000 Christian gentlemen, ready, as were even their crusading fathers, to die for God’s cause and the triumph of the Church. Up the ravine they swept, Charette at their head, on his superb chestnut horse, his clear bright eye . gleaming with the light of battle, and his noble features looking prouder and nobler even than their wont in the excitement of the hour. Gallant old Alett, sitting calm and square on his stout charger as he sat at Castelfidardo, when his fugitive regiment of Swiss left him alone on the field to fight side by side with the Zouaves he now commands. De Lambilly, De Saizy, and Le Gouidec, D’Albions, De Fumel and Thormelet, Breton, and Provencal, and Swiss, each at the head of their company, passed on. There were some of English birth too, who shared the honour of the day, George Collingridge, Roland Cary, Wilfrid and Julian Watts Russell, Charles Woodward, were all in the ranks, brave and devoted as any Frenchman there, and longing to rival their comrades for the honour of Catholic England and the expiation of her past coldness in the cause. Past, let us trust and believe, forever!

The five first companies formed ” en tirailleur” and charged rapidly up the pass. The ” 6me du ler,” the compagnie d’elite, of which almost every man is a noble, was the first up the hill, and the shot from each side of the ravine made terrible havoc in its ranks. De Cathelineau was among the first who fell, and as the columns neared the top of the hill; which is crowned by a farm and gateway, called the Villa Santucci, the combat became more dreadful. The Garibaldians had fortified the buildings, and defended by its walls, their sharpshooters kept up a deadly fire on the Zouaves. The Sixieme was mounting to the assault two or three hundred yards below the villa, when its brave captain, the Comte de Vaux, waving his sword and cheering on his men, fell, shot through the heart, and never spoke again. He only lived a few moments, but long enough to receive the last absolution on the field of battle. He had confessed and communicated, as had every man and officer present, the day before he died as a soldier might dream of dying. I saw him a few minutes later, when, the heights being carried, we established a second ambulance in the Villa Santucci. He was lying with his sword still in his hand, his eyes raised to heaven, a smile on his lips, and the cross of Castelfidardo, which had been struck by the fatal bullet, carried into his heart, where it was found imbedded after his autopsy.

The fire now slackened, and the rear companies, which guarded the Papal Standard and were ranged, not ” en tirailleur” but in battle order, suffered severely but never broke their ranks. The sound of the fusillade mingled with the word of command, ” appuyez à droite,” ” appuyez à gauche,” as men fell and their vacant place was filled up. There was a moment of hesitation—and only a moment—and Charette pressing to the front cried “A moi! Zouaves atia bayonette. Chassez moi cette canaille. Vive Pie IX !” and waving the kepi of a Garibaldian chief he had taken in the early part of the charge, he spurred into the hottest of the fire. The balls literally rained, rattling and hissing through the yellowing oak leaves; one struck the sheath of his sabre, and another wounded his horse, which became unmanageable. The Comte Joseph de Pavillon, who had just taken Major Fabrizi’s horse in a single combat, in which the Garibaldian chief was mortally wounded, came up at the moment, and M. de Charette mounting it continued to expose himself with bravery so unthinking that it is a miracle that he escaped with his life.

A moment’s lull in the fire, and a new cry of ” Vive la France” sounded from the heights to the left, and the quick rattle of the Chassepots [a new type of French breech-loading rifle] told us that Polhes’ brigade had engaged the Garibaldian left. Castella and his Swiss regiment of Chasseurs came in sight, the Zouaves gave another and louder cheer, and the enemy falling back pell melt, retreated on the village, leaving the height of Villa Santucci in the hands of the Pontifical troops.

On reaching it, far down the flank of the opposite hills we could see the village of Mentana itself; its every house, its feudal castle, its church and walls, bristling with Garibaldian rifles. The heights above it were still in their possession, but the French were pressing hotly on their outposts, and on the road below the farm up to the gate of the village, which was strongly barricaded with earthworks, the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 7th companies of Zouaves were advancing. The Swiss were moving up in reserve, and we found their brave commandant, whose horse had just been killed under him, severely wounded in the knees and unable to move, but propped up against the wall and still directing the movements by voice and arm, till his regiment had advanced out of sight and earshot. Then alone was M. De Castella persuaded to accept the services of the surgeons, and retire to the farm to have his wounds dressed.

The battle swept down the valley and raged hot and furious round Mentana. The wounded soon became too numerous for the second ambulance, and we were obliged to establish a third nearer the field of battle, in a chapel between Montana and the Villa, where General Kanzler and the staff now took up their head-quarters, as well as a part of the ambulance service. From where I was, at the bottom of the second bill, I could distinguish the attack on the gate of the village and the movement of the troops. The Garibaldians were at least 14,000. The extent of ground they occupied and the arms found at Monte Rotondo, prove that their number was greatly under-stated by the official accounts at first published.

The 1st company was among the foremost in the attack on the gate, and it was here, about four in the afternoon, that our gallant young countryman Julian Russell fell, shot through the head, the second martyr England has given to Rome, and a fitting rival of Louis Guerin in youth, bravery, innocence, and devotion to the Church. Here, too, fell the Sergeant Lairon, a Breton, known and reputed in the entire regiment for his piety and courage. M. De Montbel was close to him when he was struck, and ran up to help him. ” Leave me,” he said, ” I am dying, and I die for Pius the IXth. You are wanted in the front, but tell my mother I did my duty, and give her my watch for the poor.”

Here, too, fell Walerond, Baron D’Erps, chief of a great house of North Brabant ; M. De Boischevalier, and Alfred Laroyse, whose family, one of the most considerable in Lower Canada, sent him to represent that faithful colony in the army of the Church. The two latter gentlemen were only dangerously wounded, but there is little hope of their recovery.

Another act of devotion deserves mention here. M. Jean Moeller, one of the celebrated Catholic Belgian writers of that name, served as Lieutenant of Zouaves at Castelfidardo with great credit, but his extreme youth in proportion to his grade and his want of experience were not in his favour in the regiment. A few childish acts were misinterpreted and very harshly judged, and he was obliged to give up his commission. He returned to Brussels to maintain his family in an honourable financial employment, but at the first outbreak of war he returned, entered as a simple soldier, and, serving under the orders of the very men he had once commanded, was among the first to enter Mentana, and flinging his kepi within the Garibaldian lines, followed rifle in hand, and was shot down severely wounded, but the position was carried by his comrades, and he was removed to the rear. There are many among the older students of the English College who know him and who will be glad to hear of their old Zouave acquaintance distinguishing himself so gallantly.

The twilight was coming on before the battle gave any signs of relenting. The Garibaldians fought every inch of the ground with desperate bravery, and their magnificent position, chosen with care and strategical knowledge, which proved the direction of high military knowledge, gave them every advantage, but the light was waning and a suspension of arms inevitable for the night. Menotti Garibaldi and his father had been seen twice in the early part of the fighting, the former on a white horse and the latter in a carriage, on the Monte Rotondo road, but they did not expose their person much according to the testimony of their followers, who are much dissatisfied at their leaders.They all, however agree that Ricciotti Garibaldi behaved most gallantly and shared every dangerous part with his soldiers, by whom he appears much beloved for his kindness of disposition and superior education. Two Garibaldian officers in the grey uniform of the Guides were all through the day remarkable for their courage and sangfroid, and the Zouaves are unanimous in their testimony to it. The Garibaldian marksmen were remarkably good, and two of them picked off the artillerymen one after the other,, ten loading for them as fast as they discharged the shots.

The superiority of the Chassepot was, however, clearly proved, and the terrible havoc in the enemy’s ranks was only realised when the battle was over and the wounded brought in. The patrols went up and down the ground with torches, and under every hedge, behind the walls, in the outhouses, and under the bracken were lying the unfortunate men ; many dead more dying and desperately wounded, and some able to walk, and too glad to surrender themselves prisoners and receive the best care that could be afforded them, and which was given by Dr. Ozanam and the Sisters to Garibaldians and Zouaves alike.

At five in the evening the firing ceased, and General Kanzler ordered a recall to be sounded and a camp formed round the Casa Santucci, whose elevated position rendered it the strongest post in our possession. The Zouaves soon returned with the Swiss, the chasseurs à pied, and the dragoons, and preparations were made for the bivouac. The French line was picketted in the ravine and the Legion on the open space below the ravine, round the little chapel where the first ambulance had remained under charge of Dr. Ceccarelli and Mgr. De Waelmont. The:night was a dreadful one—a cutting tramontana wind had set in, and four-fifths of the wounded at the lower ambulance could not be got under shelter, the chapel being too small, and they were obliged to be left on the ground, covered, as best we could contrive, with the scanty blankets of the train. Our water, too, ran short, and the wells being in the hands of the enemy, the sufferings of the poor soldiers were dreadful.

With the Sister Superioress and the surgeon and chaplain I spent the greatest part of the night on that terrible battle ground—the faces of the dead lighted up by the red glare of the camp fires, and now and then by a cold watery moon breaking through the storm clouds and rendering the scene ghastly beyond description. The cries of our unfortunate wounded were ringing in our ears, and we had not one pint of water left to give them. One poor Breton Zouave, to whom I was giving the last orange left in the ambulance, whose sufferings were dreadful to witness, from thirst, insisted on dividing it between two of his fellow wounded, both of them Garibaldians. It was his last act of heroic charity, for he went to receive his reward before daybreak.

We returned to the ambulance of Casa Santucci about three in the morning ; all along the road the dead were lying, the immense majority being Garibaldians. The body of one, an officer evidently, was guarded by his dog: the poor faithful creature sat there through the night and all next day, crying piteously, and would not be induced to leave it. When its master was buried the French office of the 59th took it home to their regiment, but for days it refused to eat or to notice any one.

About five in the morning the Comte de Christen arrived from Rome bringing important despatches from General Dumont, requesting the commander-in-chief, General Kanzler, to postpone his attack on Monte Rotondo till nine o’clock, as by that time a reinforcement of two French regiments and a heavy siege train would reach Mentana.

Preparations were, however, made for hostilities, and General Kanzler expected the Garibaldians to attack the Pontifical headquarters, and,by seven all was ready to recommence the battle. Still the Garibaldians remained perfectly inactive, and it would be difficult to imagine the astonishment of all present when, about eight o’clock, a flag of truce was hoisted from Mentana and a ” parlementaire,” on horseback, evidently an officer of some standing, appeared at the end of the avenue leading up to our lines.

Having been conducted to our head-quarters, he offered, on the part of the Mentana garrison, to surrender at discretion, Garibaldi having previously evacuated Monte Rotondo during the night.

The terms were of course accepted, and a few minutes after twelve hundred Garibaldians were marched into the Pontifical lines and sent under escort to Rome. The banner of Pius IX. was hoisted on the bastions, the Battle of Mentana was won, and Castelfidardo avenged !

The General and his staff started about eleven with the greater part of the troops to occupy Monte Rotondo, and the combatants busied themselves in the transport of the wounded. Prince Lancillotti, of whose courage and devotion it is impossible to speak too highly, rode off to Rome with General Kanzler’s despatches, and returned in the afternoon with fifty carriages, the Borghese, Patrizi, and all the great families sending their breaks and open carriages for the use of the ambulance. MM. les Ducs de Luynes and de Lorges, two of the oldest members of the French Peerage, were among the most active assistants, as well as MM. de Luppe, De Vergneaud, Keller, De Benoit d’Azy, under the direction of Dr. Ozanam. Of the services of M. de St. Priest and the Sisters of Charity I need not speak— they were indeed worthy of true children of St. Vincent of Paul.

 

 

The Albion Aldersgate Street

THE ALBION ALDERSGATE-STREET

This extensive establishment has long been famed for its good dinners, and its excellent wines. Here take place the majority of the banquets of the Corporation of London, the Sheriffs’ Inauguration Dinners, as well as those of Civic Companies and Committees, and such festivals, public and private, as are usually held at taverns of the highest class.

The farewell Dinners given by the East India Company to the Governors-General of India, usually take place at the Albion. “Here likewise (after dinner) the annual trade sales of the principal London publishers take place,” revivifying the olden printing and book glories of Aldersgate and Little Britain.

The cuisine of the Albion has long been celebrated for its recherche character. Among the traditions of the tavern it is told that a dinner was once given here, under the auspices of the gourmand Alderman Sir William Curtis, which cost the party between thirty and forty pounds apiece. It might well have cost twice as much, for amongst other acts of extravagance, they dispatched a special messenger to Westphalia to choose a ham. There is likewise told a bet as to the comparative merits of the Albion and York House (Bath) dinners, which was to have been formally decided by a dinner of unparalleled munificence, and nearly equal cost at each; but it became a drawn bet, the Albion beating in the first course, and the York House in the second. Still, these are reminiscences on which, we frankly own, no great reliance is to be placed.

Lord Southampton once gave a dinner at the Albion, at ten guineas a head; and the ordinary price for the best dinner at this house (including wine) is three guineas. [ According to The Art of Dining; or, gastronomy and gastronomers  by Abraham Hayward. pub. John Murray, London 1852].

From Club Life of London Vol. II, John Timbs, London, 1866

Wilfrid Watts-Russell October 1879

 

THE LATE MR. WILFRID WATTS-RUSSELL.—We deeply regret to announce the death, at Clapham, of Wilfrid Watts-Russell, Esq., eldest son of the late Rev. Michael Watts-Russell, and grandson of the late Jesse Watts-Russell, Esq., of Ilam Hall, Staffordshire, and Biggin House, Northamptonshire. Mr. Watts-Russell served with distinction under Colonel Allet, in the Pontifical Zouaves, up to the time of the invasion of Rome by the Piedmontese troups in September, 1870. His younger brother, Julian, also a Pontifical Zouave, it will be remembered, was killed at Mentana. Mr. Watts-Russell’s surviving brother is the Very Rev. F. Michael Watts-Russell, Passionist, Rector of St. Saviour’s Retreat, Broadway. The deceased was thirty-three years of age. A solemn Requiem Mass was sung at the church of Our Lady of Victories, Clapham, on Thursday, by the Very Rev. F. Coffin, Prov. C.SS.R., assisted by the Revv. FF. Watts-Russell, C.P., and Coventry, O.S.M. Amongst the other clergy present in the sanctuary, in addition to the Redemptorist Fathers attached to St. Mary’s, were the Right Rev. Mgr. Goddard, of Chislehurst, the Revv. FF. Gallwey, S.J., and Vincent Grogan, C.P., and the Revv. G. S. Delaney, J. Palmer, and A. J. Hogan. The interment took place at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Mortlake, where the prayers at the grave were said by the Right Rev. Mgr. Goddard. R.I.P.

The above text was found on p.25, 18th October 1879 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

 

The restoration of Julian Watts-Russell’s grave, June 1894

Campo Verano cemetery, Rome – General view

The restoration of the grave of Julian  Watts-Russell is now completed, after having  cost £17. [A modern day equivalent of £12,000] Among the latest contributors have been Lady Ellenborough and Lady Frances Lindsay. The grave is surrounded by low marble walls, sup-porting six small marble columns connected by a low bar, while the bed within is sown with rose trees, chrysanthemums, junipers, and violets. In the winter season there will be a cross of snowdrops and pansies. The old headstone stands in its place. This is a copy of the declaration put in the casket with the bones :

“The grave of Julian Watts-Russell, Pontifical Zouave, who was killed in the battle of Mentana, Nov. 3, 1867, was opened, and his remains examined on May 16, 1894, in the presence of the undersigned. The undersigned hereby declare that owing to the vault in which the coffin was placed having been imperfectly closed in the first instance, the rain was found to have penetrated into it, the consequence of which was that much damage had been done. The outer wooden coffin had gone to pieces, and the zinc coffin holding the remains was much damaged and broken. On the latter being opened it was further discovered that the moisture bad found entrance into it, causing such a condition of things as to necessitate the remains being transferred to this zinc casket. The remains were found to be very far advanced in decomposition, and it was only the bones of the skeleton, themselves much damaged by the wet, that were enclosed in this casket. The casket containing the bones, before being placed in the vault, was blessed by a Capuchin monk of the Church of San Lorenzo. All this was done in the presence of the undersigned, on the date above indicated.”

Then follow the signatures of those who attended the ceremony of exhumation on May 16 of the present year.

The above text was found on p.17, 16th June 1894 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .