British Red Shirts: A History of the Garibaldi Volunteers (1860)

  • Marcella Pellegrino Sutcliffe


If the recent reassessment of the ‘nation bearing arms’ has found new vigour within Alberto Banti’s inward-looking nationalistic discourse of the ‘nation of the Risorgimento’, other studies have looked beyond national boundaries.1 As Gilles Pécout has recently affirmed, ‘In Europe’s long nineteenth century, no cause was more international than that of nation’, and, indeed, ‘armed volunteers were one of the clearest demonstrations of the essentially transnational character of the Risorgimento’.2 Opening the narrative beyond the national means investigating the motivations of the volunteers who risked dying not ‘for one’s country’ but for someone else’s. In fact, it may be argued that the concept of transnational sacrifice undermines the potency of the nationalistic discourse.


Central Committee Daily News Emotional Community International Brotherhood Transnational Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Alberto M. Banti, La nazione del risorgimento: parentela, santitá e onore alle origini dell’Italia unita (Turin, 2006), pp. 149–50;Google Scholar
  2. Eva Cecchinato and Mario Isnenghi, ‘La nazione volontaria’, in A. M. Banti and P. Ginsborg (eds), Storia d’Italia, Annali 22, Il Risorgimento (Turin, 2007), pp. 697–720.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Gilles Pécout, ‘International Volunteers and the Risorgimento’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, XIV (2009), pp. 413–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    Eva Cecchinato, Camicie rosse: I garibaldini dall’Unitá alla Grande Guerra (Rome-Bari, 2007);Google Scholar
  5. Maurizio Degli Innocenti, Garibaldi e l’Ottocento: nazione, popolo, volontariato, associazione (Manduria, 2008).Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Lucy Riall, Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero (New Haven and London, 2007), p. 301.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    John Pemble, The Mediterranean Passion: Victorians and Edwardians in the South (Oxford, 1987), p. 11.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    G. M. Trevelyan, Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (London, 1911), p. 260.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    For a revisionist reading of the long legacy of ‘Philhellenism’ in the nineteenth century see Gilles Pécout, ‘Philhellenism in Italy: Political Friendship and the Italian Volunteers in the Mediterranean in the Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 9, no. 4 (2004), pp. 405–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 9.
    Margot Finn, After Chartism (Cambridge, 1993).Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Maurizio Isabella, ‘Italian Exiles and British Politics Before and After 1848’, in S. Freitag (ed), Exiles From European Revolutions — Refugees in Mid-Victorian England (New York and Oxford, 2003);Google Scholar
  12. Maurizio Isabella, Risorgimento in Exile: Italian Émigrés and the Liberal International in the Post-Napoleonic Era (Oxford, 2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 11.
    For a recent overview on the Roman Republic, see Maurizio Ridolfi (ed), Almanacco della Repubblica: Storia d’Italia attraverso le tradizioni, le istituzioni e le simbologie repubblicane (Milan, 2003), pp. 84–96.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    Jasper Ridley, Garibaldi (London, 2001), p. 410.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    Leo Valiani, ‘Interventi: Atti del XIII Congresso Storico Toscano’, Rassegna Storica Toscana, IV (1960), pp. 227–8.Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    Manchester Times, 18 August 1860; Valiani, ‘Interventi’, p. 227. On George Howell, see: F. M. Leventhal, Respectable Radical: George Howell and Victorian Working Class Politics (London, 1971); ‘Italy for the Italians: Garibaldi’, 22 May 1860, Holyoake Collection (hereafter HC), Bishopsgate Institute, London (hereafter BI), 2/10, ‘Engagement Diary’, 1860.Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    Jersey Independent, 9, 13, 15, 30 June 1860; Newcastle Daily Chronicle, 18 January 1861. Also F. G. Black and R. M. Black (eds), The Harney Papers (Assen, 1969) p. 17, fn. 1.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    G. Garibaldi to J. McAdam, 6 February 1861, ‘Caprera’, in Massimo De Leonardis (ed), Epistolario di Garibaldi (Cittá di Castello, letter 1952), vol. V., p. 34.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    On the idea of the ‘citizen-soldier’, see Austin Gee, The British Volunteer Movement 1794–1814 (Oxford, 2003), pp. 188 and 203.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    W. B. Brooke, Out with Garibaldi or From Melazzo to Capua (London, 1861), p. 12.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Fondo Curatulo, Museo del Risorgimento, Milan (MRM), bundle 397, ‘Nomina e Dimissione del Colonnello Forbes e documenti riguardanti l’intendenza’; Ersilio Michel, ‘Ugo Forbes, Colonnello britannico, Combattente Garibaldino, Cittadino Benemerito di Pisa’, in Domenico Corsi (ed), Relazioni tra l’Inghilterra e la Toscana nel Risorgimento: Atti del V Convegno Storico Toscano, Lucca 26–29 June 1952 (Lucca, 1953), pp. 129–30.Google Scholar
  22. 24.
    Eugenio Biagini, Liberty, Retrenchment and Reform: Popular Liberalism in the Age of Gladstone (1860–1880) (Cambridge, 1992), p. 21;Google Scholar
  23. Eugenio Biagini, British Democracy and Irish Nationalism, 1876–1906 (Cambridge, 2007), p. 333.Google Scholar
  24. 28.
    F. B. Smith, Radical Artisan: W. J. Linton 1812–97 (Manchester, 1973), p. 137.Google Scholar
  25. 36.
    See Marcella Pellegrino Sutcliffe, ‘Negotiating the “Garibaldi moment” in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1854–61)’, Modern Italy, 15, no. 2 (2010), pp. 129–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 39.
    Pemble, The Mediteranean Passion, p. 8; James Buzard, The Beaten Track: European Tourism, Literature, and the Ways to Culture 1800–1918 (Oxford and New York, 1993), p. 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 41.
    Nelson Moe, The View From the Vesuvius (Berkeley, 2002), p. 43.Google Scholar
  28. 43.
    Anthony Campanella, ‘La legione britannica nell’Italia Meridionale con Garibaldi nel 1860’, Nuovi Quaderni del Meridione, VIII, no. 1 (1964), p. 7.Google Scholar
  29. 47.
    Gee, The British Volunteer Movement; John Cookson, ‘The English Volunteer Movement of the French Wars (1793–1814): Some Contexts’, Historical Journal, 32 (1989), pp. 867–91;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. John Cookson, The British Armed Nation 1793–1815 (Oxford, 1997);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. J. R. Western, ‘The Volunteer Force as an Anti-Revolutionary Force 1793–1801’, English Historical Review, 71 (1956), pp. 603–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 48.
    Hugh Cunningham, The Volunteer Force: A Social and Political History, 1859–1908 (Hamden, CT, c. 1976), p. 1;Google Scholar
  33. E. F. Biagini, ‘Neo-Roman Liberalism: “Republican” Values and British Liberalism, c. 1860–1875’, History of European Ideas, XXIX (2003), p. 65.Google Scholar
  34. 49.
    Finn, After Chartism, p. 207. On Lord Elcho’s political views, see C. J. Kauffman, ‘Lord Elcho, Trade Unionism and Democracy’, in K. D. Brown (ed), Essays in AntiLabour History (London, 1974), pp. 182–207.Google Scholar
  35. 50.
    J. F. C. Harrison, A History of the Working Men’s College (London, 1954), p. 83;Google Scholar
  36. Graeme Morton, Civic Society, Associations and Urban Places: Class, Nation and Culture in Nineteenth Century Europe (Aldershot, 2006).Google Scholar
  37. 52.
    Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London and New York, 2006), p. 4; Cunningham, The Volunteer Force, p. 69.Google Scholar
  38. On the emotions of British Garibaldians, see Marcella Pellegrino Sutcliffe, ‘L’amore per Garibaldi: consumante passione o prodotto di consumo?’, in Francesco Ricatti, Mark Seymour and Penny Wilson (eds), Il potere delle emozioni (Rome, 2012), pp. 53–70.Google Scholar
  39. 53.
    Franco Venturi, ‘L’Italia fuori d’Italia’, in Ruggiero Romano and Corrado Vivanti (eds), Storia d’Italia: Dal primo Settecento all’Unitá (Turin, 1973), vol. III, p. 1441.Google Scholar
  40. 66.
    Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism (Oxford, 1995), p. 12.Google Scholar
  41. 72.
    Thomas Scheff, Bloody Revenge: Emotions, Nationalism and War (Oxford, 1994), p. 40.Google Scholar
  42. 76.
    For the use of the term ‘emotional community’, see B. H. Rosenwein, Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (London, 2006).Google Scholar
  43. 79.
    Donald Horne, The Great Museum: The Re-Presentation of History (London and Sidney, 1984), p. 136.Google Scholar
  44. 81.
    On William De Rohan, see Lucia Ducci (ed), L’Unitá debole: Lettere dell’Ambasciatore Americano George P. Marsh sull’Italia unita (Milan, 2009), p. 45, fn, 129;Google Scholar
  45. D. Lowenthal, George Perkins Marsh: Versatile Vermonter (New York, 1958), pp. 326–7; Fondo Curatulo, MRM, bundle 397, Forbes ‘Nomina e Dimissione del Colonnello Forbes e documenti riguardanti l’intendenza’.Google Scholar
  46. 83.
    George Jacob Holyoake, Bygones Worth Remembering, vol. I, (London, 1905), p. 235. Both flags, symbols of hope for Italy’s republic, would come into Holyoake’s possession. In these flags Holyoake’s coffin would be draped, according to his wishes, on his death, in 1906.Google Scholar
  47. See Pia Onnis, ‘Battaglie democratiche e Risorgimento in un carteggio inedito di Giuseppe Mazzini e George Jacob Holyoake’, Rassegna Storica del Risorgimento, XXII (1935), p. 918.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Marcella Pellegrino Sutcliffe 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcella Pellegrino Sutcliffe

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations