Enrico Caviglia was an Italian general and politician, Marshal of Italy for the First World War.
In 1877 he obtained access to the Military College of Milan, called today "Teuliè" Military School. He entered the Turin Military Academy in 1880, leaving it with the rank of artillery lieutenant three years later. Became a lieutenant, he was sent to Eritrea from 1888 to 1889. On his return to Italy, in 1890 he attended the War School for two years, obtaining the rank of captain in 1893 and entering the Army General Staff. Again shipped to Eritrea in 1896, it took part in the Battle of Adua on the occasion of the East African campaign.
The Chief of Staff Tancredi Saletta chose him in 1903 as an extraordinary military attaché at Tokyo with the task of following the imminent Russo-Japanese war and, once the conflict ended, he assigned him on a permanent basis to the role of military attaché in Tokyo and Beijing until 1911.
During his stay in Asia, Caviglia was named lieutenant colonel and honorary field assistant of the King (1908), while he developed a great interest in local civilizations, dedicating him also a non-fiction production.
After a short period in Libya in 1912, in charge of negotiations for the evacuation of Turkish troops and the pacification of Arabs and Berbers at the end of the Italo-Turkish War, he entered the Military Geographical Institute of Florence as deputy director the following year. in 1914 he became a colonel.
In the summer of 1915, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, he obtained the rank of major general. With the Bari Brigade he fought on the Karst and in Trentino facing the Austrian offensive of 1916 and gaining the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Savoy.
In June 1917 he was promoted to the army corps for war merits and the following month, under the command of the XXIV Corps, he obtained an important victory in the battle of the Bainsizza, which was however limited in its effects by logistical problems. During the battle of Caporetto his department was only marginally affected by the attack of the armies of the Central Empires. Caviglia managed to avoid the capture, as well as his own, also of other troops including three divisions previously under the orders of Pietro Badoglio, leading them from the Isonzo to the Tagliamento and then onto the Piave. Due to his behavior during the retreat and the previous defense on the Isonzo he received the Silver Medal for Military Valor. Nonetheless Badoglio himself, meanwhile promoted as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, dissolved the Caviglia Army Corps to reconstitute his staff. Caviglia, in his book on the First World War entitled The Twelfth Battle: Caporetto very strongly criticized this and other decisions taken by Badoglio.
In January 1918 he was appointed alternate member of the Council of the Military Order of Savoy and subsequently commanded the artillery which, starting from June of that year, fought on the Asiago plateau and later on the Piave. At the helm, obtained for war merits, the 8th Army played a fundamental role in the resolutive battle of Vittorio Veneto.
Having concluded the hostilities King George V of the United Kingdom ordered him Commander of the Order of the Bath and acquired the title of Sir. Immediately after the war (1919) Caviglia was appointed Senator of the Kingdom, served as Minister of War in the first Orlando government and received the honor of Knight Grand Cross of the Military Order of Savoy.
As a result of the protracted occupation on September 12 by Italian nationalists led by Gabriele d'Annunzio of the city of Fiume, the then Prime Minister Francesco Saverio Nitti appointed Caviglia, former commander of the 8th Army, special commissioner for the Venezia Giulia taking over this function in Badoglio.
When Giovanni Giolitti returned to the government in 1920 and the Treaty of Rapallo was concluded, the subsequent declaration of war by the legionaries to Italy had as its first response a bombing and then the attack by the troops of the city under the orders of Caviglia starting from December 24th. The operations ended on the 31st with the surrender of the occupants, and the concurrence of armed clashes with the Christmas festivities saw D'Annunzio define those Christmas days of Blood.
Accused by the nationalists for the events that occurred in Fiume, he defended himself by saying that he was not properly informed by Giolitti about the concessions to Yugoslavia. This point of view will be developed in his book The Rijeka of Fiume, whose printing will be prevented by the fascist regime in 1925 and which will not happen until posthumously, in 1948, in a version reworked by the General himself.
With regard to Fascism, after a substantial adhesion but without explicit positions, he declared in 1924 the withdrawal of his consent not to those defined by him the original ideas of Fascism as to the following developments and this orientation became concrete in the non confirmation of trust to the Mussolini government.
Together with other generals, with the exception of Badoglio, Caviglia then moved away from the political scene.
In 1926 Mussolini awarded him the rank of Marshal of Italy and in 1930 King Vittorio Emanuele III invested him Knight of the Supreme Order of the Santissima Annunziata. The last assignment received was an inspection of the Alps in 1939.
According to what was stated in his diary, in the notes relating to the days between September 8, 1943 and the 10 of that month, Caviglia arrived in the capital for "private business" on the morning of 8 and asked General Campanari to obtain an audience with the King , who asked, if it were not urgent matters, to fix the hearing on the day 9. At nine o'clock on the date scheduled for the meeting was Campanari himself to contact Caviglia advising him to find the abandoned Quirinale and invited him to meet in the square in front of it.
General Sogno also took part in this meeting, informing the others of the events following the public surrender of the Armibile of Cassibile and with them he went to the building of the Ministry of War, where together with the minister of the Antonio Sorice, they tried to put themselves in communication with the King to obtain its assent to a temporary assumption of the role of head of government and military forces by Caviglia. Although a positive response had been regularly sent by Vittorio Emanuele III, at that moment on board the cruiser Scipio Africanus, no message came to Caviglia.
Although fights had already begun between Italian and German wards, the great organizational difficulties and prospects in the possibility of defending Rome led Caviglia to accept the ultimatum imposed by Albert Kesselring on September 10, 1943, which ordered the disarming of the troops and the declaration of the capital as open city. Celebrate the words used by Caviglia to talk with the German Field Marshal on September 13: "You see how Italy is reduced: like Christ in the column, on it everyone can spit or slap it and beat it".
When the Italian Social Republic was established, Mussolini decided to appoint him as head of the saloino army, but Pavolini and Buffarini Guidi pointed out that he was too old for such a burdensome task and the Duce quickly changed his mind . Caviglia returned to Finale Ligure, where he died just a month before the end of the fighting and was buried in the Basilica of S. Giovanni Battista in Finale Ligure Marina. The body was transferred in 1952 to the tower of Capo San Donato (where the daughter is also buried).