Battle of Magenta

The Battle of Magenta was fought on 4 June 1859 during the Second Italian War of Independence, resulting in a French-Sardinian victory under Napoleon III against the Austrians under Marshal Ferencz Gyulai.

Battle of Magenta
Part of the Second Italian War of Independence
Napoléon III et l'Italie - Gerolamo Induno - La bataille de Magenta - 001.jpg
The Battle of Magenta by Gerolamo Induno. Musée de l'Armée, Paris
Date4 June 1859[1]
Location45°27′22″N 8°48′7″E / 45.45611°N 8.80194°E / 45.45611; 8.80194Coordinates: 45°27′22″N 8°48′7″E / 45.45611°N 8.80194°E / 45.45611; 8.80194
Result Franco-Italian victory
Austrian Empire Austria
Commanders and leaders
Second French Empire Napoleon III
Kingdom of Sardinia Victor Emmanuel II
Second French Empire Marechal Patrice de MacMahon
Austrian Empire Feldmarschall Ferenc Gyulay
Austrian Empire Prince of Montenuovo
49,945 infantry[2]
1,207 cavalry
87 guns
58,183 infantry[3]
3,435 cavalry
152 guns
Casualties and losses
707 killed
3,223 wounded
655 missing
1,368 killed
4,358 wounded
4,500 missing
Map of the 2nd Italian War of Independence

It took place near the town of Magenta in the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, a crown land of the Austrian Empire, on 4 June 1859. Napoleon III's army crossed the Ticino River and outflanked the Austrian right forcing the Austrian army under Gyulai to retreat. The confined nature of the country, a vast spread of orchards cut up by streams and irrigation canals, precluded elaborate manoeuvre. The Austrians turned every house into a miniature fortress. The brunt of the fighting was borne by 5,000 grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard, still mostly in their First Empire style of uniforms. The battle of Magenta was not a particularly large battle, but it was a decisive victory for the Franco-Sardinian alliance. Patrice de MacMahon was created Duc de Magenta for his role in this battle, and would later go on to serve as President of the French Third Republic.

An overwhelming majority of the French-Piedmontese coalition soldiers were French (1,100 were Piedmontese and 58,000 were French).


A dye producing the colour magenta was discovered in 1859, and was named after this battle,[4] as was the Boulevard de Magenta in Paris.

La Garde impériale à Magenta, le 4 juin 1859, oil on canvas by Eugène-Louis Charpentier, musée de l'armée, 1860
Sword of honour


  1. ^ Ambès, Intimate Memoirs of Napoleon III: Personal Reminiscences of the Man and the Emperor, 1912, P. 148.
  2. ^ Brooks 2009, p. 37.
  3. ^ Brooks 2009, p. 38.
  4. ^ Cunnington, C. Willett, English Women's Clothing in the Nineteenth Century, Dover Publications, Inc. New York 1990, page 208


  • Brooks, R. (2009). Solferino 1859: The Battle for Italy's freedom. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-385-8.