National Congress Battalions

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National Congress Battalions_table_infobox_0

National Congress BattalionsNational Congress Battalions_header_cell_0_0_0
LeadersNational Congress Battalions_header_cell_0_1_0 Emmanuele Vitale

Vincenzo Borg Francesco Saverio CaruanaNational Congress Battalions_cell_0_1_1

Dates of operationNational Congress Battalions_header_cell_0_2_0 September 1798 – 11 September 1800National Congress Battalions_cell_0_2_1
HeadquartersNational Congress Battalions_header_cell_0_3_0 Casa Leoni, Santa VeneraNational Congress Battalions_cell_0_3_1
Active regionsNational Congress Battalions_header_cell_0_4_0 MaltaNational Congress Battalions_cell_0_4_1
SizeNational Congress Battalions_header_cell_0_5_0 10,000 menNational Congress Battalions_cell_0_5_1
AlliesNational Congress Battalions_header_cell_0_6_0 Kingdom of Great Britain

Kingdom_of_the_Two_Sicilies Kingdom of Naples Portugal Kingdom of Portugal  Russian EmpireNational Congress Battalions_cell_0_6_1

OpponentsNational Congress Battalions_header_cell_0_7_0 France French RepublicNational Congress Battalions_cell_0_7_1

The National Congress Battalions (Italian: Battaglioni del Congresso Nazionale, Maltese: Battaljuni tal-Kungress Nazzjonali), also known as the Truppe di Campagna, was an irregular military set up in Malta just after the Maltese rebellion against French rule in September 1798. National Congress Battalions_sentence_0

It existed for two years before being disbanded on 11 September 1800. National Congress Battalions_sentence_1

The battalions were also referred to as the Maltese Army or the Maltese insurgents. National Congress Battalions_sentence_2

History National Congress Battalions_section_0

From 1530, Malta had been administered by the Order of Saint John. National Congress Battalions_sentence_3

The islands were occupied by French forces in June 1798, when Napoleon ousted the Order during the Mediterranean campaign of 1798. National Congress Battalions_sentence_4

On 2 September 1798, while the French were looting artifacts from a church in Rabat, the Maltese rebelled and opened fire on them. National Congress Battalions_sentence_5

The French retreated to the fortified city of Mdina, but on 3 September, the rebels managed to enter the city from a sally port and the French force surrendered. National Congress Battalions_sentence_6

Most of the towns and villages fell into rebel hands over the next few days, but the French held on to the fortified positions in the Grand Harbour area (including the capital Valletta) and various other forts in Malta and Gozo. National Congress Battalions_sentence_7

On 4 September, the Maltese formed a National Assembly, and its first task was to create an armed force to blockade the remaining French forces. National Congress Battalions_sentence_8

The force, which was known as the Battaglioni del Congresso Nazionale or the Truppe di Campagna, came into existence in the following days, and it consisted of a number of village battalions, which had their origins in the Order's militia setup prior to the French occupation. National Congress Battalions_sentence_9

Notary Emmanuele Vitale, who had led the attack on Mdina, was appointed Generale Commandante of the army. National Congress Battalions_sentence_10

The first battalions to be set up were those of Birkirkara and Żebbuġ, which were led by Vincenzo Borg and Francesco Saverio Caruana. National Congress Battalions_sentence_11

Vitale, Borg and Caruana became the three main leaders of the insurrection. National Congress Battalions_sentence_12

The Maltese acknowledged King Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily as their sovereign, and also appealed to Horatio Nelson for protection. National Congress Battalions_sentence_13

Throughout the rest of the siege, the Maltese insurgents were aided by the British, Neapolitans and Portuguese. National Congress Battalions_sentence_14

In 1799, Czar Paul I of Russia sent a diplomat to the insurgents promising his support and protection. National Congress Battalions_sentence_15

The Maltese insurgents made a number of successful assaults throughout the course of the siege, including the capture of St. National Congress Battalions_sentence_16 Thomas Tower and St. National Congress Battalions_sentence_17 Julian's Tower. National Congress Battalions_sentence_18

The insurgents did not manage to capture the major fortifications, such as the city of Valletta, the Cottonera Lines, Fort Manoel and Fort Tigné, but they managed to prevent the French from retaking land outside the fortified positions. National Congress Battalions_sentence_19

Throughout the course of the siege, the Maltese constructed a number of camps, batteries, redoubts and entrenchments surrounding the French-occupied harbour area. National Congress Battalions_sentence_20

The most important insurgent fortifications were the Corradino Batteries, Għargħar Battery, Tal-Borg Battery and Tas-Samra Battery. National Congress Battalions_sentence_21

At its peak, the army consisted of 10,000 men, of which 2,505 were men-at-arms. National Congress Battalions_sentence_22

The French eventually capitulated to the British on 4 September 1800. National Congress Battalions_sentence_23

The Maltese battalions were disbanded by British Civil Commissioner Alexander Ball on 11 September. National Congress Battalions_sentence_24

Between 1800 and 1801, gold and silver medals were struck to commemorate the blockade, and were awarded to leaders and distinguished members of the National Congress Battalions. National Congress Battalions_sentence_25

These are now among the most highly prized Maltese medals. National Congress Battalions_sentence_26

Structure National Congress Battalions_section_1

The army was made up of the following battalions: National Congress Battalions_sentence_27

National Congress Battalions_unordered_list_0

  • Birkirkara BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_0
  • Għaxaq BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_1
  • Kirkop BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_2
  • Mqabba BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_3
  • Qormi BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_4
  • Żabbar BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_5
  • Żebbuġ BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_6
  • Żejtun BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_7
  • Żurrieq BattalionNational Congress Battalions_item_0_8

The battalions were divided into companies and platoons. National Congress Battalions_sentence_28

Some of the larger battalions had artillery and engineer sections, as well as military bands. National Congress Battalions_sentence_29

A grenadier company known as the Granatieri was also established, and it was responsible for guard duties at Casa Leoni in Santa Venera. National Congress Battalions_sentence_30

The majority of the army did not have uniforms, but the Birkirkara Battalion was supplied with locally made cotton uniforms. National Congress Battalions_sentence_31

The Generale Commandante, the general staff, the Granatieri and some artillery units also had their own uniforms. National Congress Battalions_sentence_32

Weapons National Congress Battalions_section_2

At the outbreak of the rebellion, the insurgents were poorly armed, having only hunting rifles, muskets captured from several armouries, and a few swords, pistols and locally made pikes. National Congress Battalions_sentence_33

Between 19 and 24 September 1798, the Portuguese Navy and Royal Navy supplied the insurgents with a large number of muskets and cartridge boxes. National Congress Battalions_sentence_34

The Maltese also had artillery pieces captured from various coastal fortifications such as Saint Mary's Tower and Mistra Battery. National Congress Battalions_sentence_35

These were taken to the many insurgent positions encircling the harbour area. National Congress Battalions_sentence_36

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Congress Battalions.