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Granatieri - Grenadiers

The grenadiers are the oldest specialties of infantry Weapon. Grenadier units are concentrated in Lazio and in particular functions of representation in the capital. There is currently only the 1 reggimento "Grenadiers of Sardinia" of two battalions, and its flag is decorated with the Knight's cross 1.M.I., 2 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 1 bronze medals for military valour and 1 silver medal of merit.

The specialty of the grenadiers, descends from the old guards Regiment created in 1659 by Duke Carlo Emanuele II who in 1664 order is given precedence over the other regiments and infantry as the first increment of the Ordinance. Grenadiers were foot soldiers, armed with a Sword, Firelock, Bayonet, and a Pouch to hold his Grenades. These early grenades were small shells, concave Globes, or hollow Balls, some made of Iron, some of Tin, others of Wood, and even of Pastboard; but most commonly of Iron, because the Splinters of it do most Execution. This Globe is filled with fine Powder, and into the Touchhole of it is stuck a fuse of Powder, beaten and tempered with Charcoal Dust, that it may not flash, but burn gently until it comes to the Charge. These are thrown by Hand, landing places where Men stand thick, and particularly into trenches and lodgments the Enemy makes, and do great Mischief.

Grenadiers were first instituted in France in 1667, by having 4 or 5 to each company; but in the year 1670, they were formed into companies, and in 1685, were first known in the British service. The Grenadiers were clothed differently frem the rest of the Battalion, and wore high Caps. Each Regiment, of late Years, had a Company of Grenadiers, which took always the Right of the Battalion. The Grenadiers were generally the tallest and briskest fellows, and always the first upon attacks. When there was any appearance of action, each Grenadier carried three Hand Grenades. Horse Grenadiers, called by the French Grenadiers Volans, or Flying Grenadiers, were such as are mounted on horseback, and fight on Foot; their exercise is the same with the other Grenadiers.

Dissolved in 1798 and reconstituted in 1814, it combines its history to that of the current Brigade "Grenadiers of Sardinia". There were later formed other units such as the grenadier Brigade "Lombardia" Grenadiers (3 e 4 Regiment), the "Grenadier Brigade of Naples" (5 and 6 Regiment), Brigade "Grenadiers di Toscana" (7 and 8 Regiment), became respectively the brigades "Lombardia" (73 and 74 reggimento), "Napoli" (75 and 76 Regiment) and "Tuscany" (77 and 78). Most recently, the brigade "Grenadiers of Sardinia" had regiments 10 and 11.

The military annals of the House of Savoy are full of achievements in which the valor and genius of its illustrious chiefs add fresh brilliancy to the pages of Italian history. The battle of Solferino (24 June 1859) was the decisive battle of the first phase of the Second War of Italian Unification and was a hard fought French and Piedmontese victory that defeated an Austrian counterattack. Reinforcements were sent by the King, and consisted of three battalions of the 2nd regiment of Savoy, and one of the 1st, supported by the Lancers of Alessandria, by two battalions of Grenadiers, and by the llth battery. The position of Madonna della Scoperta was retaken after two brilliant assaults. It was on that occasion that the Italian Grenadiers, in whose ranks were to be found the greater number of Lombard and Venetian volunteers, belonging to the most illustrious patrician families and to the well-to-do classes, found themselves engaged at close quarters, and after a while discovered that even their bayonets were disabled. They consequently reversed their muskets, and made their way through the Austrian columns by a vigorous use of the butt-ends.

The Italian army, according to the organization of 1865, had 8 regiments of grenadiers of the line, 72 regiments of infantry of the line, and five regiments of bersaglieri (rifles). A regiment of grenadiers, or of infantry of the line, had 4 battalions; each battalion 4 companies; a company, 4 officers and 149 men. Together, the 80 regiments of grenadiers and infantry of the line had 202,720 combatants.

The Italian army of 1890 consisted of 80 regiments of the line, 10 of bersaglieri (riflemen), 20 regiments of cavalry, 10 of artillery, and 2 of engineers. A regiment of the line consisted of 3 battalions of 4 companies each, and numbered about 1500 men on peace and 3000 men on war footing. Eight of the regiments were grenadiers. The bersaglieri were formed in regiments of four battalions each, and were picked troops, armed with a shorter rifle, and especially trained to traverse long distance at a run.

An extensive reorganization of the Italian army was undertaken early in the 20th century. At that time only seven Alpine regiments were stationed in the Alpine valleys, two regiments of grenadiers stationed in Rome, 94 regiments of infantry of the line scattered throughout the kingdom. There were 12 regiments of sharpshooters, a special infantry with purely Italian characteristics; their record is world-wide; in them live the traditions of the Crimean War, and it is to the credit of General Lamarmora that he gave to Italy such a noble contingent. And as for its sturdy soldiers, speeding like arrows, their plumes flying in the wind, they pass in review before the people, who feel that their hearts beat in union with their strong defenders.

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Page last modified: 26-02-2013 10:55:43 ZULU