Antonio Baldissera - Encyclopedia

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"ANTONIO BALDISSERA (1838-1917), Italian general, was born at Padua 1838, and died at Florence, on Jan. 9 1917. His birthplace in 1858 being still under Austrian rule, young Baldissera entered the Austrian army, in which he served with distinction in an infantry regiment; he was captain in the 7th Jagers at Custozza (1866). But when Venetia became Italian, he opted for Italian nationality, retaining his rank in the Italian army. In 1879 he was promoted colonel of the 7th Bersaglieri and major-general in 1887, when he went to Eritrea under Gen. Asinari di San Marzano, remaining in the colony as governor after the latter's return. Both as a soldier and an administrator he showed high qualities. He occupied Asmara, Keren and other territories, defeated the armies of Ras Alula, and had planned still further extensions of Italian dominion, profiting by the anarchy of Abyssinia. He organized the admirable native troops (Ascari), developed agriculture and built roads. But owing to a disagreement with the home Government over his Abyssinian policy he asked for and obtained his recall after two years of successful activity. In 1892. he was promoted lieutenant-general. When war with Abyssinia broke cut in 1895 the then governor of the colony, Gen. Baratieri, did not enjoy the confidence of the Government, which decided to send out Baldissera once more. Although the appointment was kept secret, Baratieri got wind of it, and this probably decided him to attack the enemy with an inferior force and insufficient supplies, hoping to win glory for himself before his successor's arrival. The result was the disaster of Adowa (March 11896); when Baldissera arrived he found a defeated and demoralized army, and the victorious enemy advancing in force. With lightning speed he reorganized the remains of Baratieri's army and the reinforcements just landed, freed the beleaguered garrisons of Cassale and Adigrat, drove back King Menelek's army and reoccupied a large part of the lost territory. But peace was concluded before he had completely retrieved the defeat of Adowa, and he was forced to limit his activities to the internal reorganization of Eritrea. But even this task he could not carry out as thoroughly as he wished owing to the opposition of the home Government, which was tired of African affairs. In 1897 Baldissera returned to Italy and resumed his duties in the home army, successively commanding the VII. and VIII. Army Corps. In 1906 he was made a senator. In 1908 he had to retire from the army under the age limit.

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