Bloody wars

by Lorenzo Piccoli

I have been taking a few classes on the history of war recently. Armed conflicts are a bloody matter. Of all the things I heard, however, there is one that I would like to bring home – so to say. It is the story of Liechtenstein’s military intervention in the third war of Italian unification.

The principality sent troops into battle in 1866, dispatching an 80-man contingent to assist the Austrians on the border between Italy and Tyrol (my region, in fact). However, the expeditionaries never once saw the enemy and sustained not a single casualty. “In fact,” writes Bill Bryson, “they came back with 81 men, because they had made a friend on the way.” Two years later and with only this one conflict on the records, Liechtenstein dissolved its army and went about its other business.