The people of Sicily had risen in revolt in 1860 against their king, Francis II of Naples. The rebels requested Garibaldi to help them. Garibaldi was always ready for such courageous campaigns.
Cavour also wanted to help the rebels, but he could not do so because he had friendly relations with the king of Naples. He could not, therefore, support the revolt of Sicily openly.
On the contrary, the patriots of Sicily wanted military help openly. Under such circumstances, Garibaldi decided to come ahead to the help of the Sicilians. Cavour assured Garibaldi of his support in a secret way.
Victor Emmanuel II also gave financial aid of about three million francs from his personal resources. An army o’ volunteers was organised at Genoa with one thousand of them wearing red shirts. Therefore, they were called the ‘Red Shirts’.
On May 5, 1860, the volunteers, under the leadership of Garibaldi went to Sicily in two steamers. It was called the ‘Expedition of the Thousands’. It seemed that the campaign would fail, for the king of Napleshad 24,000 troops in Sicily and about 1, 00,000 in Naples.
But fortune favoured Garibaldi. The army of Sicily was badly defeated by the soldiers of Garibaldi. After a campaign of about two months only, he became the master of Sicily. He declared himself as Dictator of Sicily in the name of Victor Emmanuel II on August 5, 1860.
Now he decided to take Naples also. In spite of a big army, the king of Naples could not fight with Garibaldi and fled his state on September 6, 1860.
Next day, Garibaldi declared his possession over Naples. The conquest of Sicily and Naples was, no doubt, “a unique achievement in modern history!”