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Battle of Magenta
Part of the Second Italian War of Independence
Napoléon III et l'Italie - Gerolamo Induno - La bataille de Magenta - 001.jpg
The Battle of Magenta by Gerolamo Induno. Musée de l'Armée, Paris
Date4 June 1859 [1]
LocationMagenta, present-day Italy
45°27′22″N 8°48′7″E / 45.45611°N 8.80194°E / 45.45611; 8.80194Coordinates: 45°27′22″N 8°48′7″E / 45.45611°N 8.80194°E / 45.45611; 8.80194
Result Franco-Sardinian victory
France Second French Empire
 Austrian Empire
Commanders and leaders
France Emperor Napoleon III
 Piedmont-Sardinia Victor Emmanuel II
France Marechal Mac-Mahon
Austrian Empire Feldmarschall Ferenc Gyulay
59,100 infantry
91 guns
125,000 infantry[2]
Casualties and losses
657 dead
3,858 wounded
1,368 dead
4,538 wounded
4,500 captured

Map of the Second Italian War of Independence

The Battle of Magenta was fought on 4 June 1859 during the Second Italian War of Independence, resulting in a French-Sardinian victory under Napoleon III against the Austrians under Marshal Ferencz Gyulai.

It took place near the town of Magenta in northern Italy on 4 June 1859. Napoleon III's army crossed the Ticino River and outflanked the Austrian right forcing the Austrian army under General Gyulay to retreat. The close nature of the country, a vast spread of orchards cut up by streams and irrigation canals, precluded elaborate maneuver. The Austrians turned every house into a miniature fortress. The brunt of the fighting was borne by 5,000 grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard, still in the First Empire style uniform. The battle of Magenta was not particularly large, but it was a decisive victory for the French-Sardinian forces. Patrice Maurice de MacMahon was created Duke of Magenta for his role in this battle, and later served as President of the French Republic.

The Franco-Piedmontese coalition consisted in overwhelming majority of French troops (1,100 Piedmontese and 58,000 French). Their victory can therefore be considered as mostly a French victory.


The colour magenta, a dye producing which was discovered in 1859, was named after this battle,[3] as was the Boulevard de Magenta in Paris.


  1. Ambès, Intimate Memoirs of Napoleon III: Personal Reminiscences of the Man and the Emperor, 1912, P. 148.
  2. Spofford, Ainsworth Rand. The Library of Historic Characters and Famous Events of All Nations and All Ages, P. 77.
  3. Cunnington, C. Willett, English Women's Clothing in the Nineteenth Century, Dover Publications, Inc. New York 1990, page 208

External links

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