The Thousand

Thousand, The


a revolutionary force of more than 1,000 volunteers—bourgeois, artisans, and workers—who, under G. Garibaldi, were active in southern Italy during the Revolution of 1859–60. On May 6,1860, the Thousand, after having been organized as a unit, were sent by the democratic Party of Action to Sicily, where a popular revolt had broken out in April. The expedition, which had been prepared in Genoa, contained both Italian and foreign volunteers, including the Russian geographer L. I. Mechnikov. After sailing from Quarto, near Genoa, the Thousand landed at Marsala, Sicily, on May 11 and were joined by local rebel forces, consisting mostly of peasants. Garibaldi thereupon proclaimed a revolutionary dictatorship on the island. Between May and September, the Thousand liberated Sicily and crossed over to Calabria on the mainland. After a series of victorious battles in which they were aided by peasant rebels, they succeeded in crippling the army of the king of Naples, which numbered 25,000. The heroic campaign of Garibaldi and his Thousand not only freed southern Italy from Bourbon oppression but sealed the triumph of the Revolution of 1859–60. It was therefore the most important stage of the Risorgimento.