This article describes the state of the armed forces of the Italian Kingdom at the time of the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian-Italian War (1866):
To influence Austria, O. Bismarck used Italy , which had proactively begun to strengthen its army, in which, for economic reasons, in 1865 the next contingent age was not called up at all, and to draw troops from the southern part of the peninsula and Sicily  . Italy put up 165 thousand field troops. The Prussian military commissioner, General Bernhardi, and the Prussian envoy persuaded the Italian command to energetically begin operations: to transport the bulk of the troops across the lower reaches of the river. Poe and push her to Padua, in the rear of the Austrian army concentrated in a quadrangle of fortresses (Mantua, Peschiera, Verona, Legnago), which would lead to a battle with an inverted front; then launch an energetic offensive in the internal regions of Austria - on Vienna; throw Garibaldi and his volunteers across the Adriatic Sea to support the Hungarian uprising; to take part in the organization through emigration in his organization and thus “strike the Austrian power in the heart”. Of course, Italy, whose interests were secured even before the outbreak of hostilities, was not disposed to follow these tips, and the Austrians could have limited themselves to a minimum of forces on the Italian front from the very outset of the war; however, the strategy did not take full advantage of Austria’s political retreat in relation to Italy  .
Italians have always been a seafaring nation whose past has been marked by glorious accomplishments. But almost all of their ships had just entered service, most of the guns were installed on the ships quite recently, and neither the officers nor the sailors were sufficiently trained in their handling. Squadrons, formidable in composition, did not receive appropriate tactical training in peacetime. In addition, the fleet suffered from controversy and envy between officers arising from the recent merger of two groups - officers of Sardinia and Naples. There wasn’t enough time for this merger to become complete ... Courage alone was not enough. It took a lot of administrative work, the ability of commanders to lead people along, and training. G.W. Wilson
When war was inevitable, the Italian Minister of Marine on May 3, 1866 ordered the formation of an operating fleet of 31 ships, which were supposed to be selected from 69 ships and 75 sailboats, many of which were unable to participate in hostilities.
This fleet was to be fully manned, equipped with equipment by June 20 - the day of the declaration of war. 29 ships were ready for this date - although not everything planned could be done, especially with regard to the guns. It should be noted that the naval minister ordered the replacement of non-fastened (so-called “fastened with hoops”) rifled 160-mm guns with rifled cannons of the same caliber, but fastened with rings, thus strengthening the armory of armadillos. Alterations were made in Taranto, from where the fleet came out on June 21 - a day after the declaration of war - in Ancona, located on the Adriatic coast. Due to the fact that several slow-moving ships were included in the squadron, and the squadron speed did not exceed 4-5 knots, they reached Ancona only on June 25 . Here the squadron stopped waiting for supplies and new orders.
|Ship||25-A ||20-a||16-h||16-HO||twenty||16||20 GB||12-N||Total|
|Re di portogallo|
|Principe di carignano|
|Duca di genova|
* - late for the battle of Liss
** - was not at Liss on July 20
*** - there was also one Dalgren gun .
Here, the fleet was fully equipped before the battle - "everything, with a few exceptions - concerning only the weakest - the ships received artillery prescribed by the Ministry." This report also states that “all alterations on the ships in Ancon were completed by June 20, and the artillery was replaced on all ships, with the exception of one, by the time the Austrian commander appeared before Ancona on August 27.” When this happened, the Principe di Carignano, in which eight guns were replaced with guns from the Terribile armored corvette, lingered a bit, moved towards the enemy.
The Italian squadron was commanded by Admiral Carlo Pellion di Persano, born March 11, 1806 in Vercelli. He distinguished himself by commanding one of the ships at Tripoli in 1825, but then fell under the tribunal for recklessness. From March 3, 1862 he was Minister of the Sea. When he was appointed commander-in-chief of Armata di Operazione on May 3, 1866, he was already 60 years old and, apparently, he was already too old for this appointment. In any case, he was no longer a hot and reckless commander. In 1862, he made perhaps the most important change in Italian shipbuilding policy, abandoning the construction of wooden ships supported by Minister Urbano Ratazzi in favor of building armadillos. In addition, in order to nullify the rivalry that existed in the combined fleet between Sardinian and Neapolitan officers, he planned to establish the Royal Academy - to properly turn them into Italian officers. During these years, the Italian fleet had just turned to armor. In June 1862, he told the Italian Parliament "recent events in the American war have shown that the importance of wooden ships is minimized by the undeniable superiority of armadillos, even one of which can sink a fleet of wooden ships with its ram."
Although Persano proved to be a good politician and organizer, who introduced undoubted improvements in the fleet, he completely failed as a fleet commander. On July 20, his squadron numbered 56 ships. Of these, Persano could rely on 11 battleships - and the twelfth joined them several hours before the battle. It was an Affondatore, arrived in almost complete condition from the place of its construction - Milwall on the Thames. It was a unique naval tower battleship with a 26-foot ram.
Two other battleships — class 1 frigates, Re di Portogallo and Re d'Italia, armed with pole mines, were built by Webb in New York during the Civil War. All the others, with the exception of the second-class frigate “Principe di Carignano”, were built in French shipyards. These were second-class frigates, Maria Pia, Ancona, Ancona, Castelfidardo, and San Martino, armored corvettes Terribile and Formidabile (Formidabile), and the armored gunboats "Varese" (Varese) and "Palestro" (Palestro). "Re d'Italia" was the first battleship to cross (in March 1864) the Atlantic alone.
Vice Admiral Baptista Giovanni Albini Count Sarda, who commanded the wooden ships, held his flag on Maria Adelaide. The rest of his ships were first-class steamers Duca di Genova, Vittorio Emanuele, Gaeta, Principe Umberto, Carlo Alberto ), “Garibaldi”, and the corvettes “Princess Clotilde” (Principessa Clotilde), “Etna” (Etna), “San Giovanni” (San Giovanni) and “Guisardo” (Guisardo). The third detachment consisted of four gunboats, armed with four rifled 12-cm cannons each. They were commanded by Captain First Rank Antonio Sandri.
According to critics of Persano, he did not conduct the targeted exercises that the Austrians used to continuously train their gunners in the order of things. Moreover, the naval department of the Italian Ministry of War found it possible to provide ammunition specifically for artillery exercises.
- A. Svechin. The evolution of military art . Volume II - M. - L .: Voengiz, 1928. Chapter Five. War for hegemony in Germany 1866. Mobilization.
- Caliber of guns - in centimeters . A - Armstrong guns , H - rifled, BUT - rifled, "fastened with hoops", GB - howitzer .