Writings by Dr. John C. Rao

The Last Crusade

"The place for me, as a minister of peace, might not be so much in the midst of arms and artillery pieces. But I am the minister of God, and one must remember that this God who calls himself the God of Peace is also the God of Armies. And one must always fight against evil." ( Pius IX, blessing the Roman artillery, from Jean Guenel, La derniere guerre du pape, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 1998, pp. 120-121, my free translation) 
Before the late Walter Matt directed my anti-modernist polemics against enemies closer to home, I was much more occupied with an assault on modernity in the form of the nineteenth century Italian unification movement. That so-called Risorgimento or "resurgence" was important to me as part of the political environment in which Pope Pius IX, the subject of my doctoral dissertation, reigned and suffered. It was also of great consequence to my own intellectual development, this because its ability to confuse the real nature of our modern culture wars and the true character of its opposing forces under a mountain of grotesque lies helped open my eyes to the similar Americanist/Pluralist con game. So blatantly mendacious and harmful to the Faith was this inglorious movement that it brought into being an international papal army sworn to battle its overall hypocrisy and many specific anti-Catholic depredations. This army fought what some authors have identified as the Last Crusade.

Thankfully, anyone interested in further accurate information on the Risorgimento can find it today in almost any serious mainstream scholarly work. Denis Mack Smith's book, Cavour and Garibaldi in 1860: A Study in Political Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 1985), and, for those who can read Italian, Angela Pellicciari's L'altro Risorgimento: Una guerra di religione dimenticata (Piemme, 2000) are good places to start. All such works show that this "resurgence", which supposedly reflected a widespread outburst of popular enthusiasm for the creation of an independent Italian nation, was actually the project of a small group of liberal and nationalist conspirators backed by an ambitious dynasty of otherwise solid legitimist credentials---the House of Savoy in the Kingdom of Sardinia. The Risorgimento's revolutionary ability to flip reality upside down under a seemingly conservative banner, as well as its skill in manufacturing unnecessary wars, makes its leaders worthy predecessors of the Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Feith and Wolfowitz Gang,

Most students of the Risorgimento argue that it took its first practical steps to maturity through the work of Napoleon. Bonaparte's concern for a more  efficient military exploitation of a "liberated" Europe led him to create a Kingdom of Italy, with himself as monarch, in the northern part of the peninsula. Needing assistance in administering his new realm, he sought and gained the aid of members of the Italian bourgeoisie and nobility who, for varied reasons, were sympathetic to certain revolutionary changes, and thus were willing to tie their future to the founding of a "Greater Italy". Napoleon's fall in 1814/1815 and the restoration of most pre-1789 legitimist governments foiled the dreams and ambitions of these collaborators.

Their disgruntlement was shared, but also given a much more profound and consistent ideological character, by men like Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872). Mazzini was convinced that his Enlightenment God's plan for universal harmony was dependent upon the establishment of independent, ethnically-pure, democratic nation states. Only when these building blocks were in place could the music of the cosmic spheres be heard and appreciated. For Mazzini and similarly evangelical Freedom Fighters around the western world, anything that aided their cause was morally good; anything standing in its way fetid and vile. All those in opposition to this holy unification movement were destined for elimination; all who were indifferent to its goals in desperate need of consciousness raising at the hands of democratic nationalist prophets.

But the vast bulk of ordinary Italians, both high and low, were hostile to or uninterested in Mazzini's dream. Moreover, to make matters still worse, many of the "practical-minded", liberal bourgeoisie and nobility who were friendly to the idea of a Greater Italy feared Mazzini's democratic and conspiratorial approach to the project. Mazzinianism, to them, was disruptive to the pursuit of that individual liberty and material prosperity which they understood to be the chief long-term blessing of Enlightenment naturalism and the French Revolution. They deemed it hopelessly utopian to boot.

The dangers and futility of Mazzinianism was driven home for such moderates by the debacle of democratic nationalist uprisings in the Revolution of 1848. Hence the efforts in the 1850's of the Sardinian Prime Minister, the Count Camillo de Cavour (1810-1861), to work for change through the existing monarchy; to develop King Vittorio Emmanuele II's (1849-1878) openness to the idea that a liberal and moderately nationalist Machtpolitik might increase the prosperity and strength of his previously quite counterrevolutionary dynasty. Hence, also, Cavour's successful conversion of a number of disappointed democratic conspirators to cooperation with the Sardinian Monarchy through the establishment of what was referred to as the Italian National Committee. Perhaps the most important revolutionary won over to the moderates' strategy was Mazzini's dashing military associate, Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882).

Cavour was convinced that nothing could be accomplished for the cause of liberalism and the moderate nation-building of the House of Savoy without the support of one or two of the Great Powers of Europe. This he tried to secure by embroiling his country in the Crimean War against Russia on the side of Great Britain and France. The Kingdom of Sardinia had no quarrel with the Czar, but who cared about such petty details? What Cavour needed, as he openly stated in letters to his wife, was enough dead soldiers to give him a place at the subsequent peace conference, during which he could bring up the so-called "Italian National Question" and work to expand Sardinia's borders and power. He was deeply distraught that the war ended before the cadavers could pile up in sufficient numbers to achieve this laudable goal.

Luckily for Cavour, Napoleon III decided to take up the Freedom Fighter's Burden on his own steam. He did so partly in the hope that a cute little war on behalf of a seemingly disinterested cause might calm some current political storms at home. He did so also, however, because broad assistance to nationalist movements had, after 1815, become a Bonapartist trademark, and an Italian nationalist, irritated by the Emperor's failure to live up to family responsibilities, reminded him of his duty by means of an attempted assassination. Napoleon got the hint, put on his body armor and packed his bags for a visit with Prime Minister Cavour.

The Congress of Vienna had given to Austria the mission of propping up the existing Italian order of things. Altering the peninsula's political geography therefore required weakening or eliminating Hapsburg influence therein. Austria, alas, was a stubbornly peaceful power in the 1850's. Some fictional excuse for a war against her had to be invented. Emperor and Prime Minister met in a mountain lodge in 1859 to crawl over a large map of Europe to discover some spot, any spot, where a casus belli could be manufactured ex nihilo.

Where there's a will there's a way, and an obscure dynastic dispute was pounced upon with WMD enthusiasm. An otherwise unwilling Emperor Franz Josef was forced to the battlefield to save Austrian honor. Nothing went according to plan. Nevertheless, events ended up working towards the creation of a Kingdom of Italy both faster and much bigger than anyone in his wildest nightmare could ever have imagined. But this new nation would pay the price for its comic opera birth for decades---perhaps centuries---to come.

Napoleon had gone to war to hand over the Austrian-ruled Veneto and Lombardy to a Greater Sardinia masquerading as a new, little Italian nation. Disturbances to central Italy troubling the security of the Papal States were expressly prohibited by the Emperor, eager as he was to quiet the fears of  French Catholics. But even the "moderate patriots" of the  Italian National Committee still operated with Mazzini's notion that promises were meant to be kept or broken in so far as they were useful to promotion of the Grand Cause of complete unification. War with Austria was much too useful for nationalist boat rocking to limit their ambitions to the Lombard plain. Hence, their agents in central Italy exploited the war environment to stir up troubles in this region as well. An agitation was fomented which the extraordinarily peaceful governments of the region had little police and military force at their disposal to calm. Nationalists then wrung their hands in outrage over the inability of these "incompetent" and "backward" states to suppress the disorders which they themselves had organized. They said that only the intervention of a real army of a true, modern State---that of the Kingdom of Sardinia---could assure that return of peace and prosperity desired by all men of good will.

Altruistic Sardinia now took up the Peacekeeper's as well as the Freedom Fighter's Burden, leaving an outraged Napoleon to fight Austria practically on his own. The angry French Emperor determined to back out of the conflict at the first moment that a victory permitted him honorably to do so. He punished his unruly ally by leaving the Veneto in Austrian possession, and further humiliated Sardinia by handing over a Lombardy which Franz Josef ceded directly to him as a "gift" from France. Napoleon also demanded that the House of Savory fully comply with its part of the highly secret pre-war bargain. This meant surrendering Sardinia's territories on the "French" side of the Alps, with the very, very Italian city of Nice prominent among them.

Here lay another rub. For Nice was the birthplace of Garibaldi, who saw that his hometown would never be part of the Italian nation to whose creation he had dedicated his life. For a man already peeved by Sardinia's failure to use his military skills during the war with Austria, this cession of sacred Italian soil was the final straw. Garibaldi returned to his radical roots, taking his vengeance by tossing moderate strategy still further to the winds than the Italian National Committee had done. He did so by recruiting a private army and setting sail in 1860 to invade the southern part of Italy---the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies---something which was totally alien to absolutely everyone's plans before and during the war with Austria.

Off Garibaldi went. In typical, hypocritical, Risorgimento fashion, a Sardinian naval force was sent after him with the order vigorously to stop his venture if it appeared as though England or France were going to make moves to do so---but to aid it if they did not! They did not. Garibaldi was thus able to land in Sicily and then on the mainland, taking advantage of a monarchy whose administration and army were seriously infiltrated by liberal, democratic and nationalist fifth columnists. Despite heroic resistance at the fortress of Civitella del Tronto on the border with the Papal States, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies swiftly fell.

Sardinian troops, already involved in Peacekeeping Missions in central Italy, now rushed south. The nature of their task depended upon what Garibaldi intended to do with his conquered territories. The army might be going to stop a "madman's" march towards Rome; a march that would obviously require Sardinian peacekeeping troops on papal soil as well. On the other hand, the army might also be going to aid a patriot's brilliant, liberating advance from the south. The man the troops encountered turned out to be the "patriot", who handed the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies over to Vittorio Emmanuele and his ministers, almost as though their previous quarrel had been a staged one all along.

Plebiscites were held in the lands fortunate enough to have had peace finally restored by the troublemakers who had first disturbed it. By 1861, a small numbers of voters, picked for their reliability and highly cognizant of their nationalist duty, yielded 99% majorities in favor of membership in a new Kingdom of Italy. This Kingdom's real character as a conquest by Sardinia was symbolically illustrated by Vittorio Emmanuele's continued use of his designation as "The Second" of that name. It did not take long before the average man understood what the new liberal government from the north meant in practice: a carpetbagger administration, high taxes, universal conscription, attacks on priests and the general freedom of the Church, economic policies harmful to agriculture and favorable to capitalist industrialists, and anticlerical destruction of the complex network of social services provided over the centuries by the Catholic charitable vision. Bloody rebellions, identified by the new government as mere terrorist and criminal rampages, erupted throughout the 1860's and were brutally suppressed. Mass migration to the Americas followed thereafter. Another victory for modern Progress!

It was in the troubled atmosphere of 1859-1861 that Msgr. Xavier de Merode, a member of a great Belgian family serving in the entourage of Pope Pius IX, had the idea of inviting Louis Christophe Leon Juchault de La Moriciere (1805-1865) to take charge of and reorganize the decrepit Papal Army. General de La Moriciere was a hero of the French colonial war in Algeria. De Merode had met and appreciated the undefeated record of de La Moriciere while himself serving under the French flag during his own rather dashing and eclectic pre-clerical career.

Pius IX rejected Secretary of State Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli's scathing criticism of the absurdity of any armed defense of the Papal States, detached responsibility for the army from his control and appointed de Merode as his Minister of War. The Belgian then made a formal offer to the French General, who accepted it in March of 1860.  De La Moriciere, who had himself served as French Minister of War during the Second Republic, and disapproved of Napoleon III's coup d'etat, refused to ask permission from his "illegitimate" sovereign before taking up the new assignment.

Arriving in the Eternal City the next month, he found the existing Roman Army of six hundred men in an absolutely appalling state. It was badly armed, badly dressed, highly undisciplined and ready to drill only "if the weather remains good" (Guenel, p. 28). De Merode and de La Moriciere realized that many new and more enthusiastic recruits were desperately needed if the Roman Army were to become a serious fighting force. With Italians, both high and low, despising the career-at-arms, an appeal was thus sent out for support from Catholics the world over.

By May of 1860, eighteen thousand men, French, Belgians and Irish prominent among them, were at the Minister and General's disposal. But problems with the quality and organization of the recruits, along with difficulties of armament and supply, made it clear that many months would be required to shape them into a competent military machine. "I will count upon Providence", the realistic Vicomte Louis de Becdelievre, veteran soldier and commander of the Battalion of French-Belgian Sharpshooters, said when contemplating the obstacles to success; "and march nonetheless". (Ibid., p. 29).

Such acts of faith were indeed needed, because time to effect serious improvements proved to be totally lacking. The Italian National Committee, as we have seen, had been hard at work stirring up in the Papal States the kind of disturbances which required Sardinian armed intervention to suppress. Conspiratorial rabble rousers were already expressing anguish at the general sufferings of these huddled papal masses yearning to be free. Imagine their added sorrow at the thought of the new torments to be faced by the average man at the hands of the violent, foreign mercenaries called in to aid the cause of the cruel clerical tyrant! It was just too much for an agent provacateur to endure! Hence, on September 10th, 1860, the Kingdom of Sardinia informed the Papacy that it forces would occupy the two provinces of the Marches and Umbria, thereby ending all the agonies, present and future, of their honest and long-suffering citizens.

Sixty thousand well-trained "natives" entered Pius IX's territory to stop the mercenary threat from the antipodes. "I lead you", their leader, General Cialdini, said, "against a band of foreign drunkards whom thirst for gold and the passion for pillage have drawn into our country." (Ibid., p. 69). They met and overwhelmed a large chunk of the new and all too green papal forces on September 18th at the Battle of Castelfidardo near the great port city of Ancona. The results for these young units were catastrophic, with two thirds of the Battalion of Franco-Belgian Sharpshooters, to take but one major example, killed or seriously wounded. Ancona, under the circumstances, saw no further chance of holding out. De La Moriciere, mortified by what was, one has to admit, not a particularly unexpected failure, returned in sorrow to France. He remained keenly interested in the sequel to his work up until his death in 1865.

For sequel there was. The de La Moriciere episode proved to be just the beginning of the story. The old core of the Roman Army remained intact, with two divisions, one under the command of the Swiss General de Courten, the other under the Roman General Zappi. Moreover, the disaster at Castelfidardo gave an excuse for weeding out any remaining undesirable elements in the ranks of the recently-formed and now decimated papal units. Louis de Becdelievre, in January of 1861, was able to reconstitute a new force from the survivors of the St. Patrick and Franco-Belgian Sharpshooter Battalions. These he outfitted with a popular Algerian uniform initially used by Zouaoua Berbers serving in the French Army, winning for those wearing it in Rome the name of Papal Zouaves. Six hundred strong to begin with, the Papal Zouaves were an extraordinary international brigade:

"The recruits belonged to twenty five different nationalities. Curiously, although their country had a Protestant majority, the most numerous were the Dutch. Then came the French and the Belgians. The Italians, almost all Romans or Neapolitans, are well represented, above all in music (a question of competence). But one finds also Swiss (among them the officers of high rank), Irish, Austrians, Germans, among whom the Prussians and the Bavarians are the most numerous; Poles, Spaniards, a number of British, whether English or Scot, eight Americans, these above all from the southern states. From South America, Peru, Chile and Equator are each represented by one volunteer; Brazil by two. One finds also seventeen Maltese, one Abyssinian, a Turk, a Moroccan, and an Indian from Madras. Finally, one must speak of the one hundred thirty Canadians from Quebec, who will arrive in 1868. They will not have the chance to fight, but some will participate nonetheless in the siege of Rome. Another wave of one hundred twelve volunteers left Canada in August of 1870 to engage." (Ibid., p. 40) 

Mgr. Pie, Bishop of Poitiers, well describes the atmosphere of religious enthusiasm in which these new recruits left for the Eternal City. "{Rome}for us", he said,  "is another, better Jerusalem, more necessary than that of Palestine. Palestine is a great relic---.Rome is the living and permanent seat of the light, the grace and the authority of Christ." (Ibid., p. 44) All social classes took part in what most volunteers firmly believed to be a Crusade, although the nobility, almost all of them supporters of the Legitimist Pretender, Henry V, predominated among the French recruits. Perhaps the most famous---and certainly the most popular---of the legitimist volunteers was the Baron Athanase Charles Marie Charette de la Contrie (1832-1911), great nephew of the general and martyr of the Vendee rising. Some families, including Charette's, sent multiple members to the Zouave ranks. Most recruits were very young, and reengaged willingly when their initial time of service was finished. Their transport, and eventually much of their regular support, was provided through the work of the Denier de Saint-Pierre, which was first organized by Montalembert in 1848; through Mgr. Pie and his Comite de l'artillerie pontificale; and, ultimately, through the Baron Onffroy and his Oeuvre des volontaires pontificaux.  All Zouaves were bound by a solemn oath, first taken on January 9, 1861 at St. John the Lateran:

I swear to Almighty God to be obedient and faithful to my sovereign, the Roman Pontiff, our very Holy Father, Pope Pius IX and his legitimate successors.

I swear to serve him with honor and fidelity and to sacrifice my life for the defense of his august and sacred person, for the support of his sovereignty and for the maintenance of his rights.

I swear not to belong to any civil or religious sect, to any secret society or corporation, whatever they might be, having for its direct or indirect goal to offend the Catholic religion and to corrupt society.

I swear to not join any sect or society condemned by the decrees of the Roman Pontiffs.

I swear also to the very good and great God to not have any direct or indirect communication with the enemies, whoever they might be, of religion and the Roman Pontiffs. (Ibid., pp. 53-54). 

The Zouaves and their Moslem-like uniform were not to the taste of everyone in the papal government, some cardinals seeing them as merely the eccentric product of overly romantic French minds. De Merode, however, was charmed by them, and eager to put them to the test. Against the better judgment of Becdelievre, who called for much more time for their basic training, de Merode sent them instantly on the offensive. They crossed into "Italian" territory at Passo Corezze on January 26th,, 1861, immediately creating an international uproar. This did, at least, have the side effect of once again arousing Catholic opinion in France and forcing Napoleon III to send contingents of the regular Army to guard the borders of the Papal States, now limited basically to Lazio, the so-called Patrimony of St. Peter. Unfortunately, it also brought Becdelievre and de Merode's disagreements into public view, leading to the sack of the Zouave founder. Although the legitimist Charette was the obvious replacement, political considerations brought about Colonel Allet's appointment as commander. Allet's Swiss origin could not bring down upon him the French Government's accusation of anti-Bonapartist Bourbon sympathies.

Despite the Becdelievre sack, his insistent request for more training for his troops was answered. This lasted for longer than anyone could have wanted. A three and one half year period of frustration opened for the Zouaves, during which they were kept inactive or used merely to frighten away the brigands plaguing the papal countryside. Constantly caricatured as low-life intruders by the Italian nationalist Press, the Zouaves were also subject to revolutionary bomb threats and nighttime personal assaults. Health problems were among their biggest "peacetime" difficulties. One can well understand what these might have been like when musing on the fact that one of their physicians left for medical training at Louvain in 1869---after nine years already as their surgeon. Still, as the diary of the Abbe Jules Daniel testifies, religious enthusiasm and practice remained consistent and fervent. So did contempt for the Risorgimento, its naturalism, and its anticlericalism. And their personal bravery, displayed in self-sacrifice in aiding the sick and burying the dead during the cholera epidemics of the late 1860's, won the Zouaves much love from the people in their garrison towns.

Everything changed for the Zouaves and the Papal Army as a whole in September of 1864. It was at that point that a Convention providing for the departure of the French Army from the Papal States in exchange for an Italian promise not to violate its borders was signed by Napoleon III and Vittorio Emmanuele. Pius IX, convinced that the Emperor had betrayed him, felt that there was nothing left for him to do but to rely on his own forces. On the one hand, this meant the encouragement of mass ceremonies strengthening awareness of Rome's role as the Capital City of an international Catholicism. On the other, it entailed directing still more attention to the Roman Army.

With de La Moriciere out of the picture and de Merode too cranky and eccentric for further martial labors, Pius IX, on October 28th, 1865,  put the Ministry of War and the Army under the control of General Hermann Kanzler from the Grand Duchy of Baden. Kanzler loved the Zouaves, and did not hide the fact that he considered it to be the Roman Army's elite unit. Zouaves were therefore brought into more serious service, both in Rome as well as on the southern and northern borders of the Patrimony of St. Peter. Enrollment once again soared, aided, at this point, by the encouragement of the Zouaves themselves in their private correspondence to friends and family, the crusading fervor of prelates like Mgr. Mathieu, Archbishop of Besancon, and the efforts of Committees of St. Peter to "buy" recruits out of their required military service in the regular French Army. Down to five hundred in 1865, Zouave numbers reached two thousand two hundred eighty nine by 1867 and  three thousand by 1870. Yes, some bad eggs inevitably entered the ranks along with zealous crusaders, but so did sincere "converts" from among the Italian nationalist ranks as well. One honorable and extremely interesting volunteer, who called himself Watson, turned out to be a J.B. Surrat wanted by the American police for complicity in Abraham Lincoln's assassination---a charge that he was eventually able to prove to be a false one.

Kanzler's Army was called to the test in 1867. Giuseppe Garbaldi spent much of that year traveling round Italy, lamenting the fact that "several thousand mercenaries, the refuse of all the sewers of Europe" (Ibid., p. 69) were crushing the inhabitants of the Patrimony under their tyrannical heel, and proclaiming the need for liberation under the slogan "Roma o Morte!", "Rome or Death!" His campaign for an immediate attack on the Patrimony of St. Peter culminated, curiously enough, with an incendiary address to the Congress of Peace at Geneva on September 9th. At this point, the Italian Government, eager to avoid international repercussions from his incurably bad manners, took the firebrand into custody. It nevertheless allowed his son, Menotti,  and the international band of volunteer anticlerical "crusaders" he had recruited, to cross into papal territory on October 1st to see what mischief they might successfully be able to stir up. The Papal Army was sent to face them at the town of Bagnorea, which they had occupied. Zouaves, prominent in its ranks, sang the following song en route:

"Hear these cries of alarm,
which bring horror into our hearts.
Bretons, it is an appeal to arms.
It is an appeal to our faith.
Shall we allow our Father
To fall under the blows of Piedmont?
Better death, better war
Than to suffer such an affront.
Proud children of Brittany
Valliant defenders of the Faith.
God wills it! Let us enter into the campaign.
Let us depart for the Pope-King."

(Ibid., pp. 94-95)

Bagnorea was regained, but the experience was a nasty one. The Papal Army saw, with horror, that the Garibaldians were ready to use civilians as human shields to protect them from danger, and that they had desecrated the churches of the occupied town.  Zouaves suffered their first casualty, a Dutchman named Nicholas Heycamp. Further give and take in the next few weeks left seventeen Zouaves dead. Seventy Garibaldians paid for their revolutionary crusading with their lives.

Napoleon III, always the diplomatic card player, had balanced his 1864 betrayal with further help for the Papal States. First of all, he gave permission for a new force of one thousand French volunteers---known both as the Roman Legion and the Legion of Antibes --- to go to the aid of the Holy See. Now, in face of the Garibaldian incursion, Napoleon went further still. He publicly encouraged Pius IX to resist the radicals' aggression with all the means at his disposal. Moreover, he prepared units of the regular French Army for a return to Italy.

On October 17th, while that French force was being readied. Giuseppe Garibaldi  "escaped" his protective custody and made his way to take charge of his son's somewhat demoralized crusaders. Garibaldian hopes were also encouraged by preparation for a rising at Rome itself on October 22nd.. Weapons for that rising were to be provided with the help of a special group of volunteers, under the leadership of veteran conspirators, who had made their way to Monte Parioli, just outside the center of the Eternal City.

Fortunately, everything went badly for the Garibaldian enterprise, and on every front. The column at Monte Parioli was defeated. Arms for the rising were limited. With the strong points of the city firmly under papal army protection, and an almost total hostility on the part of the Roman population, it never actually took place at all. The sole serious incident of the day was the blowing up of the Serristori Barracks, near St. Peter's and Castel Saint Angelo, with the tragic death of the twenty five Zouaves who had the misfortune to be present there at the time of the explosion. Their deaths were avenged on the 25th and the 30th, when two Garibaldian hideaways inside Rome were discovered and eliminated. The massacre of the Zouaves, of course, meant nothing to the government-controlled Italian Press. The vengeance wreaked on the Garibaldians, however, was immediately turned into another proof of these foreigners' incurably criminal wickedness.

Calamity for the rest of the Garibaldian Crusade came at  Mentana, near Monte Rotondo, north of Rome, where Garibaldi had arrived on October 23rd. The ten thousand men gathered there were soon confronted with the varied military forces now at the disposal of the Pope. This included the French forces, under General de Failly, which arrived at Civitavecchia on October 28th and marched on November 2nd towards the front, together with the Papal Zouaves.They were followed on the 3rd by General Kanzler and the regular Roman Army. Both Zouaves and regulars distinguished themselves in the ensuing battle, but the walls of Mentana being strong, the assistance of the French with their new, rapid-firing Chassepot rifles, was also crucial to the coming victory. When the fighting ceased, one thousand Garibaldians lay dead and wounded. Losses on the papal side were less than forty dead and thirty wounded. Garibaldi was nowhere to be seen. Under what conditions, honorably or dishonorably, he got away, have been greatly debated ever since.

After the grand victory parade, the thirteen hundred ninety eight Garibaldian prisoners were all too magnanimously sent home---those who did not promise to take up arms against the Papal States again along with the many who did. Catholics the world over took courage from the defeat of the revolutionaries at Mentana. New recruits for the Zouaves again came pouring in. Even if Canada now headed the list of nations sending its sons to help St. Peter, the whole of Catholic Christendom remained enthusiastic in its participation. The only exception to this rule seems to have been the bishops of the United States, whose coldness to the venture, when approached regarding it in 1868, seems to have stemmed from their fear of appearing to the American Government to be divided in their political loyalties. 

Revolutionary forces, like those of Garibaldi, could indeed be stopped by the Papal Army, probably even without French help, especially given the lack of native popular support. Units of the regular Italian Army were, however, a different kind of foe. It was to be with their entry onto the scene that the history of this Last Crusade came to an end.

The final, tragic episode in the story began with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III's recall of all French troops and their complete departure from Rome by August 6th , 1870. Disaster might still not have ensued if France had come out of the conflict with Prussia victorious. Alas, it did not. News of the French debacle at Sedan in early September demoralized the French members of the Papal Zouaves  who did not know where their first duty now lay. On the other hand, it once again wildly encouraged the ambitions of both the radical Garibaldians and an Italian Government eager that the House of Savoy and not the radicals reap the benefits of French defeat. Vittorio Emmanuele II sent the Count Ponza di San Martino to Rome on September 9th to present to Pius IX the by now familiar argument that threats from wild radicals required Italian intervention and the occupation of the Patrimony of St. Peter by more moderate Italian Peacekeeping Forces. "What good is this attempt at useless hypocrisy?", the Holy Father responded to the emissary. " Would it not be worth more simply to tell me that he would like to strip me of my kingdom?---I can indeed surrender to violence, but to accept injustice?---Never!" (Ibid., pp. 133-134).

By September 10th, the Italian war machine was in movement. General Cadorna was to move against Rome, while General Bixio, a ferocious anticlerical, headed first towards Civita Castellana and Civitavecchia. Sixty to seventy thousand soldiers would be fighting somewhere between seven and thirteen thousand Roman troops. General Kanzler, ordering a merely honorable show of resistance against violence in other places, decided for a battle to defend Rome alone. His great hope was that no one would actually dare to cause damage to the Eternal City.

Troops were recalled from all around the Patrimony, Charette making a particularly daring escape with his men through enemy-occupied regions. By the night of the nineteenth, with the loyal Trastevere population begging for arms to defend itself, and the army alive with crusading fervor and desire for martyrdom, Pius IX gave an absolutely horrified Kanzler his final orders. After a token show of resistance to indicate opposition to unjustifiable aggression, the Papal Army in Rome, just as its units outside the city, was to surrender to the invaders.

At 5:00 A.M. on September 20th the Italians opened fire at the walls, bombarding and thus causing much damage in Trastevere as well. The weak fortifications at Porta Pia, not that far from Termini Station, were breached by 9:00 A.M. By 9:30, the white flag was raised over St. Peter's. Troops from one end of the city to the other, none of whom knew of the pope's order to Kanzler, were now commanded to stop firing. Many refused at first to do so, just as Bixio, for a time, refused to end the fun of bombarding Trastevere. Sixteen men died on the papal side, eleven of whom were Zouaves; fifty soldiers were wounded. The Italians lost thirty two dead and one hundred forty three wounded.

Treatment of the vanquished Zouaves who did not manage to escape beyond the Tiber to the Leonine City and Trastevere was often unpleasant. Many were insulted, beaten and had their decorations ripped from their chests, even by segments of the previously loyal Roman population now ready to ingratiate themselves with the victors. Men went rummaging through the city over the course of the next week or more to find and punish any of these "brigands" who might have gone into hiding. "Pacification" was swiftly followed by the usual farce of a plebiscite:

"The Italian Government fixed for October 2nd, the date of the plebiscite destined to legitimize the annexation of Rome. The Holy Father formally forbade Roman Catholics to take part in the vote and the electoral lists were drawn up according to the good pleasure of the patriots. The citizens reputed favorable to the pope did not figure in them. In contrast, all Romans absent from the city and called to Rome to vote had to spend the night in cafes and in public squares. Porters on the eve of the vote had distributed a profusion of ballots marked with an annexationist 'yes', and individuals circulated through the streets wearing a slip of paper with 'yes' attached to their hats in the manner of a cocarde. The day of the plebiscite a large urn was placed on Capitol Hill to receive the ballots, but there were others in the offices of the quarters of the city, and since, to vote, one had to present a ballot of elector which was rendered to you without having been cancelled, it was very easy to place votes in many successive offices. The results were published on the 7th by the new junta established on Capitol Hill. They were in conformity with what had been sought: the partisans of annexation carried away an overwhelming majority at Rome (77,520 yes against 857 no) just as in the rest of the pontifical territory where the same means had been employed. But Victor Emmanuel had not even awaited those results, since a decree of the 2nd of October had already proclaimed the annexation of Rome to Italy." (Ibid., p. 158) 

Kanzler, in the capitulation agreement, consented to the departure of the Zouaves gathered on the Vatican side of the Tiber by noon on the 21st. After a final blessing by the pope whom they idolized, but who had prevented them from fighting, they were taken to the Porta San Pancrazio. Officers sailed from Civitavecchia and took leave from one another in Toulon. The mass of Zouaves sailed via Genova, where they were badly insulted by the population on the docks before repatriation. Zouaves who had the misfortune of being captured by the enemy outside Rome were thrown, for a time, into cellars at Lake Como, refused help in leaving Italy, and eventually walked barefoot back to their homelands.

Thankfully, those returning to Belgium and Holland received a rapturous, crusading heroes welcome. Those returning to France were treated equally well, because their fighting skills were appreciated and the country was still at war with Prussia. Hence, Charette, the de facto leader of the Zouaves back in France, was allowed to form the men into a unit called the Legion of the Volunteers of the West, which was consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Within a few months he had become this Legion's general and a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor as well. The French Government would have liked his Legion to continue after the war's end, but Charette, seeing its duty still to be primarily papal and Catholic in character, could not bring himself to agree. Despite a temporary cooling of his personal relationship with the pope,  due to his marriage to an American Protestant, he remained forever true to the Zouave crusading vision and his legitimist political convictions, promoting them in a journal called the Avant-garde (1892-1932) After Colonel Allet's death in 1878, he became the honorary Commander of the Papal Zouaves as a whole, both inside and outside France.

General Kanzler, commander of the Papal Army, shared Pope Pius IX's fate as prisoner of the Vatican, remaining inside its walls until his death in 1888. Ninety-nine of the Zouaves he loved so dearly eventually became priests, monks, missionaries or missionary assistants. Five were consecrated bishops. Many of those who remained dedicated to a military career went to Spain to fight for Don Carlos, inspired to do so not just by his Catholic commitment,  but also because his brother, Alfonso de Borbon, had fought in their ranks. All Zouaves cherished the memory of what they had done. Charette held regular reunions on his property at Basse-Motte. So did the very large number of his Dutch and Belgian comrades. The Netherlands, Belgium and Canada created museums to honor their cause, and the city of Nantes commemorated the work of de La Moriciere with a cenotaph in its cathedral.

Very little of the story of the Papal Army and its elite Zouave unit is remembered by anyone in 2007. Most Catholics, both in Italy and the United States, have too little energy left over from all the time they spend honoring "great historical figures" who considered our Faith to be an absurdity to waste the precious moments that remain to them on the likes of de La Moriciere, Becdelievre, Kanzler, Charette and even Pius IX. Garibaldi is now their Kanzler. Lincoln is their Pius IX. And for this failure to give honor where honor is properly due they pay daily and dearly.

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