June 24th, 1859. The battle of Solferino and San Martino
by Piero Bartoloni and Rocco Cassandri
“The battle is beautiful when described by the poets and painted by the painters because they only paint its heart; one has to see the silent and scary field after the battle. When you fight, you are not thinking as you are inebriated with blood, and by the sight of so many dead and wounded around you, however after the battle, when compassion and pain take the place of indifference, then… hoi! Then if your eyes don’t cry, it’s your heart crying…“
The title of this article mentions two battles, apparently distinct, because they were fought on the same day and very close to each other.
Although history has always considered the one fought at Solferino as a Napoleon III and French battle, and that fought at San Martino as Piedmontese, we like to think of it as one single battle because it was fought against the same enemy, with the same objective and fought on the same day.
The peculiarity of this Battle, or rather of the combination of the two battles, is that it has always been considered as the bloodiest in the history of the Italian ‘Risorgimento’.
The sentence at the beginning of this article is from a letter (Fig. 1) written, on June 25, 1859, by Francesco Pistoia, a volunteer with the 1st Regiment of the Savoy Brigade.
The letter contains the true meaning of the suffering of a soldier who has seen first-hand the carnage of the struggle and the field strewn with the dead.