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Battle of Varese
Part of the Second Italian War of Independence
Quinto Cenni - la battaglia di Varese Maggio 1859 - litografia - 1889.jpg
Battle of Varese
Date26 May 1859
LocationVarese, Lombardy
Result Alpine Hunters victory[1]
Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Alpine Hunters[1][2] Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austrian Empire[1]
Commanders and leaders
Giuseppe Garibaldi Karl von Urban
4,000[1] 3,000[3]
4 guns[4]
Casualties and losses
18 Killed[3]
66 Wounded[3]
22 Killed[4][5]
75 Wounded[4][5]
Including 4 Officers

The Battle of Varese was fought on 26 May 1859 at Varese (Lombardy). It was an engagement of the Second Italian War of Independence, fought between the Italian volunteers formation of the Hunters of the Alps, led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, against Austrian troops. The Austrian defeat allowed the movement of the Hunters towards Como, and obliged the Austrians to keep troops on the northern part of the front.

The prelude

Garibaldi and his Hunters had moved and occupied Varese, in the night of 23 May. The Austrian commander in chief, Ferencz Gyulai, had sent the Urban division to settle the matter.

In the meantime, on 25 May, 500 Austrian riflemen, 130 Ulans, and two guns from Gallarate attacked a company led by Carlo De Cristoforis at Sesto Calende, but were rejected to Somma.

The encounter

On 26 May, at dawn, Urban arrived at Varese, where Garibaldi had already prepared the defence. The Italians were deployed as: one battalion (Enrico Cosenz) on the right, two battalions on the left (Giacomo Medici), one battalion in the middle (Nicola Ardoino); two reserve battalions, one at Varese (Nino Bixio), and one at Biumo Superiore.

The Austrians opened fire with the guns, then moved three columns against the enemy. Cosenz's battalion attacked the incoming Austrians, and routed them into the other columns, repulsing the Austrian attack with the help of the Medici battalion. Urban, overestimating the enemy forces, retreated on Malnate. Medici and Ardoino attacked the retreating Austrians, causing more losses.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Royal United Services Institution (1862). Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, Volume 5. London. 
  2. Clark, Martin (2009). The Italian Risorgimento. London. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Reuchlin, Hermann (1860). Geschichte Italiens: Vol.2-3. Leipzig. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 von Moltke, Helmuth Karl Bernhard (1863). Der italienische Feldzug des Jahres 1859: Mit 6 Plänen u. 7 Beilagen. Berlin. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Austria. K.K. Generalstabs-Bureau für Kriegsgeschichte, Austria. Kriegsarchiv. Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte (1872). Der Krieg in Italien, 1859: Nach den Feld-Acten und anderen authentischen Quellen, Volume 1. Vienna. 

Coordinates: 45°48′31″N 8°50′53″E / 45.80861°N 8.84806°E / 45.80861; 8.84806

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