“All further defense across the Tiber would be terrible and useless as the French control the Heights,” Giuseppe said in a loud, clear voice. “Let us leave Rome with every armed volunteer willing to accompany us!” He ended with the promise, “Dovunque saremo, colà sarà Roma/(Wherever we may be, there will be Rome).”
From the Aurelian Walls Giuseppe’s men watched the local citizenry come out at night carrying torches and dancing in honor of the Saints and their special day. The women brought some wounded men out to see the festivities to raise their morale, but all were back inside resting when, at 2am, after a day of respect, the French began their final assault. A combination of infantry, cavalry and cannon fire descended on Giuseppe’s remaining troops.
“Sometimes the saddest work is not the nursing, but the lying,” Anita offered. “Telling men who won’t see tomorrow’s sunrise that they are fine is the work of the many mothers who cannot be here with their sons.”
“Or of the many wives who cannot be here with their husbands,” Cristina said.
“Or of the poets,” Margaret added.
Anita nodded, “Sadly, there is poetry in telling lies.”
“Yes, but shall the angels ever forgive us these lies?” Cristina wondered.
Loyalties among the citizens changed hands daily based on each victory and each loss. Those who favored Mazzini’s push for diplomacy and negotiation with Napoleon one day would support Giuseppe’s push for hard fighting the next.
Giuseppe countered, “They do not yet think us an equal and separate foreign country. They believe us to be a rogue section of their own country, quite the way the English viewed the Americans during their revolution. We have to strike while they are weak. Before they regroup.”
Mazzini said. “But we both know the army coming against you is triple the number you command. I do not wish to send men to their deaths.”
“Nor do I,” Giuseppe said. “That’s why we are a volunteer army. Fighting for the love of Italy. Any man who chooses, may leave, and yet few ever do.”
“Even though so many came with you from across the ocean?” Mazzini mused.
“The love of freedom has no borders,” Giuseppe said. “Nor should the Italian people any longer.”
Giuseppe’s words were magnified by the arrival of Mazzini from France, ready to raise the needed support to defend the nation. “There are not five Italys, or four Italys, or three. There is only one Italy and the destiny of Rome and the destiny of Italy are the destiny of the world.”
While Anita, the abbess and Margaret managed the medical care of the soldiers, Giuseppe rode into Rome to attend the National Assembly with the dream of seeing Rome finally declared a republic. He soon learned that politics takes longer than battle and requires a different set of talents and strategies.
They stopped at the Villa Doria Pamphili in the quarter of Monteverde, just outside the Porta San Pancrazio, one of the ancient walls of Rome where the ancient road of the Via Aurelia begins. “This Rome is a modern city. It is hard to imagine,” he said haltingly, “hard to imagine the time before Innocent X became pope and aspired to a grander and more expansive villa. His changes obliterated what this might have been in ancient times.”“A simpler family farm, perhaps,” suggested Aguyar.
Forced to concede due to the lack of manpower, munitions and other governmental support, Giuseppe dug down deep to keep his morale high. All over the regions of Italy supporters sang his praises in thanks for his bravery and loyalty. Yet, while he still believed even failure taught important lessons, at 41 years-old he worried failure might be the only legacy he left his children.