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Battle of Solférino
The Battle of Solférino was fought on June 21, 1859 and resulted in the victory of the allied French Army under Napoleon III and Piedmontese Army under Victor Emmanuel II against the Austrian Army under Emperor Franz-Joseph. Over 200,000 soldiers fought in this important battle, the largest since the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. There were about 100,000 Austrian troops and a combined total of 118,600 French and allied Piedmontese Italian troops.
The Battle of Solférino was a decisive engagement in the Italian Campaign in the Franco-Austrian War . The geo-political context for the war was the nationalist struggle to unify Italy, long divided between France, Austria, Spain and the Papal States. The battle took place near the village of Solferino, Italy, a location between Milan and Verona.
The confrontation was between the Austrians, then marching across northern Italy, and the French and Piedmontese forces who opposed their advance. The battle was a particularly gruelling one, lasting over nine hours and resulting in over 3,000 Austrian troops killed with 10,807 wounded and 8,638 missing or captured. The Allied armies also suffered losing a total of 2,492 killed, 12,512 wounded and 2,922 captured or missing. Reports of wounded and dying soldiers being shot or bayoneted on both sides added to the horror. In the end, the Austrian forces were forced to yield their positions, and the Allied French-Italian armies won a tactical, but costly, victory.
This battle would have a long-term effect on the future conduct of military actions. Henri Dunant, who witnessed the battle in person, was motivated by the horrific suffering of wounded soldiers left on the battlefield to begin a campaign that would eventually result in the Geneva Conventions and the establishment of the International Red Cross.
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