Engraving featuring the Battle of Mentana

The battle of Mentana was fought between some 5,000 volunteers led by Garibaldi, and 11,000 French-Papal troops. Having entered the Papal States, the General forced the Monterotondo garrison to surrender (25 October 1867), but in the meantime the Rome uprising failed. Garibaldi, having been informed that a French contingent had disembarked at Civitavecchia, attacked the Papal troops.

The battle was turning in favour of the red shirts until the intervention of two French regiments armed with modern breechloading rifles, the Chassepots, which would prevail over Garibaldi’s volunteers equipped only with obsolete muzzleloading rifles. Outnumbered and cut down by the new Fusil modèle 1866, Garibaldi’s forces retreated.

The French commander de Failly described the French victory in the sadly famous words:
“the Chassepots worked wonders.”