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concerning Les Garibaldiens: Révolution de Sicile et de Naples; Une Odyssée en 1860

     In the spring of 1860, the 58-year-old Alexandre Dumas purchased and fitted out a large sailing yacht, the "Emma," for a projected voyage to the classical sites of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Holy Land. He took with him captain, cook, crew, several young companions, and his youthful mistress, Emilie Cordier, who affected a midshipman's uniform for the trip. Naturally, Dumas contracted with the Paris Journal "Le Constitutionnel" for a series of articles.
     Dumas sailed from Marseilles to Genoa, where he had some business: to edit the "Memoires" of his friend General Giuseppe Garibaldi, the hero of the Italian "risorgimento." The Italian Peninsula was, at this time, divided into numerous statelets and partially occupied by foreign powers. King Victor Emmanuel, starting from a nucleus of Sardinia and Piedmont, was gradually assembling an Italian state from the pieces, in a series of wars and negotiations. Garibaldi provided some of the military muscle and much of the moral inspiration.
     Dumas found that Garibaldi was not in Genoa. While Dumas was at sea, an insurrection had broken out in Palermo, at that time part of the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples, which held the southern end of the Italian "boot." Garibaldi had submitted his resignation to King Victor Emmanuel, (to preserve "plausible deniability") raised and armed a thousand volunteers, commandeered two steamers at gunpoint, and headed south with his "thousand" for Sicily.
     Naturally, Dumas instantly changed his plans, and sailed for Palermo. However, Dumas' publisher, who had contracted for a travelogue rather than an anti-monarchist insurrection, dropped Dumas. Dumas promptly contracted with another journal, "La Presse" for a series of reports on the revolution.
     Dumas, however, did a great deal more than just file reports. He arranged for the purchase (in France) of munitions, and their shipment to the insurgents. He anchored his yacht in Naples harbor, a "half pistol shot" from the King's Palace, and set up shop as a full-service covert operator, encompassing black propaganda, suborning cabinet ministers and police, bribing mercenaries to desert with their weapons, providing tactical intelligence of troop movements and arms to local guerillas, and strategic intelligence on King Francis II intentions to Garibaldi.
     Dumas published the war letters from "La Presse" in book form as "Les Garibaldiens: Revolution de Sicile et de Naples" in 1861. Subsequently, he combined the travel letters from the beginning of his trip with the war letters from end, and added some additional "now it can be told" material to form a combined manuscript covering the entire trip. This combined manuscript was not published. Much later, the manuscript was identified by Dumas scholar Robert Garnett, translated into English, and published (in 1929) as "On Board the Emma."

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