An elite unit for 1849

By Rob Morgan

The major event of 1849 was the Siege of Rome, during the defence of the Roman Republic, and there was a small, but marvellous and very easily produced unit of earnest young men serving in the front line of Garibaldi’s ranks. I was actually thinking of calling this note, “Another unit for Jim Rohrer,” by the way!

“The Volunteers of the University of Rome” can be made with ease from Confederate infantry and gunner figures. My choice, as always, would be the Airfix 20mm packs, for value and variety. The dress requires no remodelling, and the same goes for the many figures available in 54mm scale. The volunteers wore deep brown uniforms, tunics or shirts and trousers, a few wore black or white short gaiters. The tunics were marked with a large red cross on the left breast, and I mean large! The volunteers wore a black broad-brimmed hat and some wore a swathe of feathers on the left side of the hat. The collars and cuffs were green, and often red-white-green sashes were worn around the waist — the better dressed had a thin green strip down the outside seam of the trousers.

There were brass buttons on a single row down the tunics, but officers wore gold lace epaulettes and cuff lace almost to the elbow. In 20mm scale. the Airfix Confederate officer is perfect. Like so many volunteer officers of that era, they could assume a very operatic look!

Some of the students wore back packs, and the small bags, packs and ammunition pouches, etc, were from a wide variety of sources and were leather or cloth, almost any colour. The unit, only a few hundred strong, carried the new Italian tricolor of red-white-green, a big flag, with the University motto:



In either red and gold, or black and gold on the centre white section. They suffered heavy casualties, by the way.

The source of this information is my old friend and colleague Marco Galandra of Pavia, and his unfathomable library on the Risorgimento.

Unless my arm’s twisted, this is positively the last Garibaldi unit I’ll describe!

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