The Siege of Bastia, Part I
The Siege of Bastia, Part I


Looking north at the citadel of Bastia, with the harbor and Terravecchia in the background

In every parish, in every pieve a great fire has already been rekindled, and everywhere it is said that the Republic no longer can govern, nor is capable of governing the Kingdom, and that the Republic has at long last abandoned it.

- Commissioner-General Giustiniani to the Deputation of Corsica, August 1744

Bastia was not the most obvious candidate for being the largest city in Corsica. Geographically, the site has little to recommend it. The other Genoese citadels controlled important bays and anchorages, but as numerous travelers and writers have observed, Bastia is an atrocious port. Positioned on the eastern coast where the Corsican littoral plain meets Capo Corso, Bastia has no natural bay or cove of note. Its harbor was artificial and cramped, unsuitable for anything but small fishing and merchant vessels. The city did not control resources of great value like the fruitful plain of the Balagna; to the south the city was flanked by malarial lagoons and marshland, and to the north and west by hill country, notable for its viticulture and producing some grain but hardly impressive in its productivity even by Corsican standards. The fertile Nebbio lay nearby, but on the other side of the mountainous spine of Capo Corso, making Bastia a dubious place from which to defend that district. The city has no major river nearby and had to rely upon small streams flowing down from the hills for its water needs. Nor did Bastia have any defensive gifts to redeem these other obvious deficiencies, for the city was strategically dominated by the hills above it. The ancient Romans, who knew a good city site when they saw it (and thus, presumably, a bad one), left the grounds of modern Bastia quite alone.

Bastia’s singular advantage was its proximity to the ports of Italy. Aside from the rough and isolated Capo Corso, Bastia was the closest point to Genoa, Pisa, Livorno, and Piombino. At the time of its founding in the late 14th century, the ease of communication and travel to and from Genoa and these other ports outweighed any of Bastia’s other deficiencies. As gunpowder artillery was in its infancy and any serious attack was expected to come from the sea, its poor strategic position was not of great concern, and since it was but a small fortified outpost its limited water supply was sufficient to its limited needs. Even as the centuries wore on and Bastia’s defects became more obvious, proximity sufficed to maintain it as the Republic’s administrative center for the island. Channels were dug and an aqueduct was built to address the water shortage, and as the gunpowder age matured a bastion fort was erected. These improvements, however, had difficulty keeping pace with the city’s growth fuelled by its administrative importance, and by the start of the Revolution what had once been a small fishing village serving as a command post was a city of around 6,000 people.

By the 18th century, Bastia was divided into two districts, known as the Terravecchia (“Old Land”) and the Terranova (“New Land”).[1] The Terranova, also simply known as “the citadel,” was the walled city which lay to the south of Bastia’s artificial port. Protected by five bastions, the Terranova was home to the commissioner-general’s palace and a variety of administrative buildings. Its walls, however, enclosed only 10 acres, and only a small minority of the city’s population actually lived there. Most Bastians resided in the unwalled Terravecchia, as did most of the city’s food stores, wells, and cisterns, and all of its bread ovens. The central problem facing Bastia’s defenders was that most of the resources necessary for its defense, to say nothing of the city’s people, were well outside the fortified enclosure of Terranova.

The first person to recognize this key weakness and try to address it was the underappreciated Vice-Regent Speroni after coming to power in the wake of the Genoese collapse in the interior. Speroni feared an imminent rebel assault on Bastia, and hurriedly mobilized the garrison and the population to build a series of field fortifications around the Terravecchia. To strengthen what was at that time mere earthen breastworks, Speroni designed the perimeter to utilize several existing stone and masonry structures - mostly religious buildings, as it happened - as ersatz bastions. As the danger to the capital ebbed over the course of 1743, work stopped on these rudimentary defenses, but the growing strength of Theodore’s government and the revelation of the Worms treaty had inspired Commissioner-General Pier Maria Giustiniani to continue where the luckless Speroni had left off. In some places the perimeter was shifted to encompass additional “strong points,” and it was extended to cover not only the Terravecchia but the Terranova as well, serving as a first line of defense ahead of the citadel. Giustiniani also increased the quality of the fortifications, turning hastily-made breastworks into high and sturdy ramparts of earth, logs, and fascine with several protruding redans to create opportunities for crossfire, punctuated by converted “bastions” serving as barracks and blockhouses. The withdrawal of most of the Genoese forces from Corsica, however, left Giustiniani with a new problem - he had significantly extended Bastia’s defensive perimeter, but he no longer had the men to hold it.

Since the withdrawal of two Grison companies from Bastia in the spring of 1744, the nominal strength of the regular troops under Giustiniani’s command had been about 700 men - a 500-man Italian battalion under Colonel Carlo Francesco Bembo and a single 200-man Grison company under Major Giovanni Kinich. By August, however, the actual strength of these units was 392 and 160, respectively, and 35 men of the Bembo Battalion were stationed at Rogliano, bringing the total number of regular troops at Bastia to 517. In early August, the Senate had finally bowed to Giustiniani’s urgent demands for assistance and managed to sneak about 150 regulars through the British blockade into Bastia. These “regulars,” however, turned out to be entirely composed of raw recruits, Ligurian peasants who had only been given weapons and uniforms a few months (or even weeks) before and had never seen battle. By September, some of them had already deserted. All told, by the time the rebel siege began Giustiniani had about 640 regulars, 100 provincial troops and militiamen of various types, and just over a dozen artillerymen. Although most of the citizenry was loyal to the Republic and many were willing to assist in its defense, Giustiniani had very few spare muskets to distribute amongst them. Perhaps one or two hundred citizens were able to fight, either with their own personal firearms or the small quantity of muskets which Giustiniani scraped together from his armories, but most citizen-volunteers were relegated to non-combat roles. This suggests a total armed strength of about 850-950, of which fewer than 500 were seasoned regulars. Such a force would be stretched thin trying to both defend the citadel and the outer ramparts.

Giustiniani also possessed two dozen artillery pieces, but all the heavy pieces were pointed towards the sea in the batteries of Dragoni and Portovecchio. Giustiniani could not afford to cripple his seaward defense, as he feared the possibility of British intervention; British warships and privateers were spotted frequently in Corsican waters, and he also knew that Theodore was loudly boasting of impending British assistance (for the king was not the only one with spies in the enemy camp). Even if he had feared no naval attack, however, the western bastions had not been built for large-caliber artillery. What landward artillery he did possess amounted to thirteen light pieces: two sakers (roughly equivalent to a British 6-pounders), seven falcons (equivalent to 3 or 4 pounders), and four falconets (equivalent to 1 or 2 pounders, essentially long-barreled swivel guns on carriages), as well as an indeterminate number of swivels and wall guns. All were kept within the citadel, as Giustiniani did not want his artillery turned against him if the outer defenses fell.

The Corsicans could certainly field more men than their opponents. Just prior to the march against Bastia, Count Marcantonio Giappiconi claimed 921 uniformed soldiers (by which he meant enrolled regulars; not all actually had uniforms). Theodore had also summoned militia from various pieves, who arrived at various times over the course of the siege; initially they may have amounted to fewer than 200 men, but within days militiamen from the northern Castagniccia - particularly Tavagna, Orezza, Ampugnani, and Rostino - had swelled this component of the royalist force to 700-800, and more would come. Surprisingly, however, the Corsican advantage was arguably greatest in artillery, perhaps the first time in the war when this had been the case. The total rebel artillery park - or at least those guns which were operational - included four 24-pounders, nine 12-pounders, and five lighter pieces (two Spanish 6-pounders and three Genoese sakers).


An original Spanish 12-pounder gun cast in the 1730s, mounted on a garrison carriage

Although Theodore nominally commanded the royalist army, in the style of many princes and monarchs of the day he shared this responsibility with a council of senior officers. Chief among them was Count Marcantonio Giappiconi, major general and Secretary of War, the overall commander of the king’s regular forces. Giappiconi, a former captain in the Venetian army, had found positions for many of his former comrades in the new royal army, and Theodore’s council of war at Bastia was dominated by his fellow Venetian veterans. Giappiconi’s brother-in-law Major Anton Nobile Battisti, a former Venetian army engineer, commanded the royal artillery, and Giappiconi’s second-in-command of the infantry regiment was Lieutenant-Colonel Milanino Lusinchi of Zicavo, a former Venetian major. They were hardly the only ex-Venetians among the new regulated troops. Yet if there was cronyism at work here - and in the case of Battisti, actual nepotism - the royalist high command did not suffer unduly for it. Battisti had commanded the rebel artillery (such as it was) during Theodore’s first reign, and as one of the only professional engineers or artillerymen in Corsican service he was the most obvious choice for the job. Lusinchi was a proven commander, if a bit rough around the edges, as well as a fierce royalist.

Theodore preferred to avoid storming the Terranova if at all possible, and pushed for a more methodical approach which would force the citadel’s surrender. The council, however, was sceptical of the effectiveness of the Corsican artillery and aware that their supply of gunpowder and cannonballs was not unlimited. It was agreed that the artillery would be used to make a grand bombardment against the Terravecchia ramparts prior to a direct assault, which would hopefully drive the Genoese from their defenses and put the Terravecchia in royalist hands. Without their stores, cisterns, and ovens, the defenders of the citadel would inevitably have to surrender.

The royalist encirclement of the city was haphazard and might have been disrupted by a well-executed counterattack, but Giustiniani did not even have enough troops to man his whole defensive perimeter and was not going to waste any in a sally against the rebels. On the 10th of September, after the hills above the city had been swept of any local militiamen, the royalist command established its forward base at the village of Cardo, one mile west of the Terravecchia ramparts. Moving the artillery through the transverse valleys above Bastia and into position, however, would take more time. The attack was originally planned for the 16th, but was delayed by four more days because of problems with the artillery and the expected arrival of the Serra militia under Lieutenant-General Alerio Francesco Matra.

The grand assault did not go as planned. The Corsicans spent the 19th bombarding the Terravecchia ramparts, but the guns were too distant and probably too poorly-aimed to do much damage to the earthworks, and as the ground attack was delayed until the morning of the 20th the Genoese were given the night to repair what damage had been done. When the Corsicans finally advanced, they found a well-prepared force behind strong defenses which they had difficulty scaling, and were turned back with heavy losses. A second attack on the 21st succeeded in capturing one part of the rampart, but poor artillery support and poor coordination between the regulars and the militia allowed a counterattack led by the Genoese “Barabino Grenadiers” to drive the Corsicans from this position. A bitter argument ensued between the recently-arrived Lieutenant-General Matra of the militia and Lieutenant-Colonel Lusinchi of the regulars, who each blamed the other for this debacle. At one point Lusinchi menacingly drew his pistol and Theodore had to personally intervene to stop violence from breaking out.

The Corsicans still had significant advantages in men and firepower, and the Genoese had not maintained their position without paying a price in lives they could ill afford, but Corsican morale was flagging. It could not have helped that within days of this nadir in Corsican fortunes, a squadron of feluccas arrived at Bastia harbor with food and munitions for the garrison which the royalists could do nothing to prevent. Theodore had not yet despaired; he directed Major Battisti to design a new plan of attack that might make more use of the rebels’ firepower, and the topic of a night attack was discussed with his generals. Still, it remained unclear if the royalist army would actually be able to translate their advantages into victory. For the first time in months, Giustiniani dared to hope that he might weather the storm. Yet there was one decisive factor which both sides had failed to consider: the luck of the Wizard of Westphalia, which manifested itself in the arrival of three warships of the British Royal Navy.

Some manner of explanation is required as to how these ships came upon Bastia in late September. In August, the Spanish fleet - or at least that part of it which was fit to sail - left its base at Cartagena. When Vice Admiral William Rowley received word of it, he feared that this was the long-awaited attempt at junction with the French fleet at Toulon. The Spanish, however, were bound for Naples, where they disembarked supplies, artillery, and 3,000 veteran troops for the usage of General Jean Thierry du Mont, Comte de Gages. If there was any lingering doubt that the Austrian army of Feldmarshall Georg Christian, Fürst von Lobkowitz would have to withdraw from the Neapolitan border, this new wave of men and supplies dispelled it. The small British detachment off the coast of Latium would remain there only through early September, when they assisted in the evacuation of the Austrian invalids to Livorno (including Lobkowitz himself, who had taken ill with the same “Roman Fever” that had afflicted at least 2,000 of his men).

Rowley, upon learning of this movement, shifted his force from Hyères Roadstead to Vado Bay. This sacrificed his close blockade of Toulon, but guarded Liguria from any attempt by the Spanish fleet now at Naples to bring supplies or reinforcements there while placing his own fleet between the French and Spanish fleets. The Spanish, however, had no intention of trying their luck against a superior British squadron, and unbeknownst to the British the French had already determined upon the guerre de course. They used Rowley’s absence to slip more than a dozen ships out of Toulon, which were bound for the Strait of Gibraltar. This changed the center of gravity in the theater; now the enemy’s naval power was chiefly concentrated around Gibraltar and the Atlantic coast of Spain (where another French fleet was already blockading the British convoy of victuallers in Portugal), and the British, who still erroneously believed the French and Spanish intended to form another combined fleet and challenge them, assumed the most likely possibility was that the Bourbons were attempting to gather this fleet at Cadiz.

This obviated the need for Rowley to hold a strong force at Hyères, but his new position was no less troublesome. A Gallispan fleet at Cadiz was just as dangerous as a Gallispan fleet at Toulon, for while they would be in no position to interfere in Italy they would be sitting directly atop the route needed for British merchants to sail west, to say nothing of the hapless victuallers. To escort the merchants and the victuallers, Rowley would need to take a large force - perhaps his whole force - west to Gibraltar and out of the Mediterranean entirely. This, however, would leave Italy entirely unguarded at the very moment when an aggressive blockade of the Riviera was sorely needed. After the fall of Ceva the situation in Piedmont now appeared very dire, and just a few days before he had planned to make sail for Port Mahon, Admiral Rowley was made aware that the Genoese had decisively joined the Gallispan army in combat. Although news of the Treaty of Aranjuez had not yet broken, it was now clear that the Republic was a hostile power.

Rowley proceeded to Port Mahon as planned, but intended to hold his position there until better intelligence as to the enemy’s disposition could be gained. In the meantime, a squadron was detached under Commodore Robert Long to maintain the blockade of the Riviera. Although Rowley was loathe to detach valuable ships of the line given the inadequacy of his force against the combined fleet he feared, he could leave Long too weak to oppose an approach by the Spanish squadron, which was unaccounted for since leaving Naples. Accordingly, Long’s squadron consisted of seven ships of the line, the Russell (80), Bedford (70), Dunkirk (60), Dragon (60), Romney (50), Oxford (50), and Newcastle (50); the frigates Liverpool (44), Seaford (24), and Lowestoffe (24); three bomb vessels and their tenders; and four smaller ships. His instructions stated the following:

“Should you meet with any of the enemies' men-of-war or transports in any port or place on the coast of Italy or places belonging to any of the Princes or States of Italy (Leghorn excepted), you are to use your utmost endeavours to destroy them. If you meet with any ships or vessels belonging to any Prince or State joined with the enemies of his Majesty you are to seize the same and bring them to me.”

Long had no instructions regarding Corsica, but as Rowley had left him to his own devices with regards to provisions (which were critically low) the commodore took it upon himself to make inquiries. Having heard from Britain’s diplomats of the present situation in Corsica, Long dispatched Lieutenant Thomas Herring in the 8-gun sloop Enterprise to reconnoiter Isola Rossa and San Fiorenzo and report as to the possibility of procuring provisions there. This cruise ended positively; Herring made contact with Marquis Simone Fabiani at Isola Rossa, procured a few head of cattle and some flour, and learned that the annual migration of the Corsican shepherds to the coastal plains was now underway. Over the next few weeks, the availability of livestock would improve substantially. Although Herring’s trip had no direct impact upon the siege then unfolding at Bastia, it prompted Long to send a request for clarification to Rowley as to the government’s relationship with the “Corsican malcontents.” Before this question could be asked and answered, however, Long detached the Dragon, Newcastle, and Seaford under the overall command of Captain Charles Watson to cruise between Corsica, Livorno, and Elba and intercept enemy shipping. On the 17th, Watson took several Genoese and Neapolitan barques off the isle of Gorgona, and on the 23rd seven feluccas were sighted off the coast of Corsica near San Pellegrino. The British pursued these ships to Bastia, where they were able to slip into safety in the harbor, guarded by the citadel’s guns.


Captain Charles Watson

Watson first demanded the surrender of the ships and their cargoes from Giustiniani. When he was predictably rebuffed, his thoughts turned next to the Corsicans. Neither Captain Watson nor his superior Commodore Long (nor, for that matter, Admiral Rowley) had received any orders regarding the “malcontents” of Corsica. Watson, however, was privy to the admiral’s instructions to Long and the squadron, which stated that he was to use his “utmost endeavours” to take or destroy enemy ships wherever they might be found. Conferring with his fellow captains, Thomas Fox of the Newcastle and John Wilson of the Seaford, Watson agreed that a cutting-out expedition in the cramped harbor of Bastia under the guns of the citadel was inadvisable. Yet since there was very obviously an army besieging the city, the destruction of the feluccas might be possible through alternative means. A boat was dispatched to the shore to make contact with this army's leaders so as to get a better read of the situation. It returned to the Dragon with a message from none other than “Theodore I, King of Corsica,” welcoming the British to his kingdom and requesting any assistance they might be able to render.

The captain considered this request carefully. The "Kingdom of Corsica" was not Britain’s ally, nor a recognized state at all. The official injunction against commerce with the “malcontents,” as far as he knew, was still in effect. Yet Genoa was an enemy power, and the squadron’s instructions were clear. Mathews and his captains had on several instances launched shore raids to destroy ships at port or procure supplies; would such an action become censurable just because of the cooperation of local “malcontents?” And had not Commodore Long already broken the letter of the ban by procuring provisions from Isola Rossa, to say nothing of the fact of the Navy’s earlier assistance rendered to Theodore?

A model of a 60-gun Fourth Rate ship of the 1733 Establishment, the same class as the HMS Dragon (click to expand)

Watson consulted once more with his fellow captains, and decided that some form of cooperation for the purpose of seizing the enemy ships and denying the Genoese use of the port of Bastia was in the best interests of the service and consistent with his orders. He had no bomb vessels, and the ships at his command - two battleships of 60 and 50 guns each and a 24-gun light frigate - were unlikely to fare well in a duel with Bastia’s citadel. But Watson could blockade the port, preventing not only the escape of the feluccas but any further resupply of the defenders. Additionally, he dispatched a landing party of 28 men - 18 sailors picked for their gunnery abilities and 10 marines - under the command of Lieutenant David Aytone of the Dragon. Aytone’s instructions were primarily to assist the “malcontents” with gunlaying, and secondarily to collect information on the strength and disposition of the Corsican forces to pass to the Admiral and the government.

Theodore was undoubtedly grateful for the assistance rendered by Watson’s ships and Aytone’s gunners. The greatest advantage gained from the rendezvous with the British, however, was psychological. For years, Theodore had been promising that foreign aid, and British aid in particular, was right around the corner; it briefly appeared in 1743, but the squadron that sailed with Theodore into Ajaccio Bay proved a disappointment and vanished soon after sinking the San Isidro. Now, however, the Corsican soldiers emerged from their tents each morning to see warships flying the British ensign, and anyone in the vicinity of the army headquarters at Cardo could glimpse the “English captain” (actually a 28 year old lieutenant) conversing with the king, or a few red-coated marines standing guard outside the houses in Cardo where Theodore had billeted his British “allies.”[2] Whatever the actual material contribution of the British to the siege at Bastia, it certainly appeared that for the first time in 15 years a great power had arrived on Corsica to fight alongside the Corsican nation.

[1] Confusingly, however, the Terranova was considerably older than the Terravecchia.
[2] Only the marines had uniforms, as the first uniforms for British sailors and naval officers were not introduced until 1748. Lieutenant Aytone, like his sailors, would have been dressed in civilian clothing.
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Out of interest, how extensive would the 'Venetian veteran' soldiers experience been? Venice fought the Ottomans in the second decade of the century, so I am presuming they took part in that. However, in this chapter, it appears they were not that good at organizing a successful assault.


Giustiniani did not his artillery

not want


How good are the Genoese at using their Bastian mounted weaponry? Seems to me they would suffer much of the same disuse and lack of practice as Theodore's men. Presuming the men stationed there are largely the same garrison as for many years.
Out of interest, how extensive would the 'Venetian veteran' soldiers experience been? Venice fought the Ottomans in the second decade of the century, so I am presuming they took part in that. However, in this chapter, it appears they were not that good at organizing a successful assault.

The last war Venice participated in was the Second Morean War of 1714-1718. Count Giappiconi fought in that conflict, having been a 15 year old ensign at the start of the war, but most of the "Venetians" in the Royalist Army, whether officers or soldiers, are too young to have taken part in a war that ended a quarter century ago. Any recent Venetian veteran at least knows modern continental drill, particularly if they served after Count Schulenburg’s modernization of the army in 1729, but they will not have had the opportunity to acquire much actual experience. Presumably the ex-Venetian soldiers are better drilled and more proficient in continental-style tactics than their fellows who joined up straight from the Corsican militia, but Venetian service would not have given them the chance to fight in a real battle, and certainly not the experience of storming a fortified position in the face of live fire.

How good are the Genoese at using their Bastian mounted weaponry? Seems to me they would suffer much of the same disuse and lack of practice as Theodore's men. Presuming the men stationed there are largely the same garrison as for many years.

Genoese bombardieri were sort of like reservists - they were civilians, not soldiers, who were called up on active duty when the state needed them. They lived in their own homes, they didn't have uniforms, and when not on active duty they had their own careers as artisans of various types. Nevertheless, their military vocation was somewhat professionalized - they had to pass an examination in front of a Commission of Artillery, they could be brought up on desertion charges if they left their post despite not being actual soldiers, and even in peacetime a certain number of them were on active duty at any one time to make sure that nobody went too long without training. There were some bombardieri from Corsica - you had to be a Genoese citizen to serve, and plenty of citizens lived in the citadel-towns - but apparently not very many, as after 1729 the Republic supplemented them with bombardieri from Liguria as well. Thus, while some of the bombardieri at Bastia are probably from Bastia, they're not really "garrison troops" properly so called.

My judgment is that the Genoese bombardieri at Bastia are at least somewhat competent. They're definitely not elite artillerymen, nor even career soldiers, but they know their trade well enough. Their main problem is that there simply are not enough of them. Giustiniani's bombardieri number just over a dozen, which is obviously insufficient to man two dozen guns. Practically speaking, they will have to be "gun captains" supervising a crew made up mainly of soldiers or volunteers. Undoubtedly this will decrease their effectiveness, but it's still better than what the Corsicans have got - at least, before the British showed up to help them.
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Interesting, the reason I brought it up was due to the British fear of taking the citadel head-on. I figure British crews are going to hit a magnitude or more shots, though any shot hitting is much more damaging for the British of course. I was imagining soldiers languished without having fired an artillery piece in multiple decades, but if they have been professionally trained then they're going to be hitting shots at some point. Of course the British also don't know how good they are so that's a risky engagement either way.
The last thing you want when there's the chance your superior will chew you out for liberally reinterpreting orders is if you lose a valuable warship in the process.
Interesting, the reason I brought it up was due to the British fear of taking the citadel head-on. I figure British crews are going to hit a magnitude or more shots, though any shot hitting is much more damaging for the British of course. I was imagining soldiers languished without having fired an artillery piece in multiple decades, but if they have been professionally trained then they're going to be hitting shots at some point. Of course the British also don't know how good they are so that's a risky engagement either way.

You may be interested to hear a report of the British bombardment of Bastia in 1745:

“That the fortress of Bastia did let fly first, and made a terrible fire, particularly against the commodore’s ship, whose flag was beaten down three times, and her main and mizzen masts broke; she received also six cannon shot in her hull, one of which went quite through her; Mr. Cooper being exasperated, immediately ordered the castle to be cannonaded and bombarded, which was continued near two hours with extraordinary fury; when part of the wall was seen to come down, and the fire of the batteries slackened considerably. Then Mr. Cooper pointed his cannon and mortars against the city of Bastia, and plied it so well with bombs and red-hot balls, that the damage done must be very great. Several ships of the English squadron have suffered not a little by the terrible fire made by the fortress of Bastia at the beginning of the affair.”

Notwithstanding this “terrible fire,” most of the damage to the British ships was to the rigging and only one British sailor was killed. Nevertheless, Cooper and his squadron had to go back to Livorno for repairs after the engagement, as the effectiveness of his ships had been significantly compromised by broken masts and spars. So while the Genoese gunners definitely aren’t the best in the world, they are capable of using their guns and scoring hits.

It’s worth noting also that Cooper had five warships with him (two 70s, two 50s, and a 44) plus four bomb vessels, a far superior force to Watson’s squadron (a 60, a 50, and a 24). Despite his damage aloft, Cooper’s engagement was pretty one-sided; Watson’s odds would be considerably more even. Watson may still win, but he must know that his ships would take damage as a consequence. Given that Commodore Long’s Riviera squadron is already fairly weak and that Watson’s orders are to intercept ships between Corsica and Elba, I don’t think “my ships are laid up at Livorno for repairs because I picked a fight with a shore battery” is what Long wants to hear from his subordinate captain right now.
Answers my question with a literal quote of an engagement between the British and the fortress. Once again have to applaud the depths of your knowledge in this region. One of the highlights, among many, of this timeline is truly the fascinatingly accurate information you have on the region.
Indeed, the amount of research done by the people behind the best timelines on this forum is extraordinary, intimidating even.

Yeah, that's why I like the focus of this one so much. In one of the big bold world-spanning timelines they always inevitably run into one of the niches of history that I know better than the author and there's always something that makes me go "wait, that's not right" and it makes me wonder what else they're not getting right where I just don't know enough to tell the difference between expert knowledge and wikipedia dives. Here that obviously isn't an issue. From a literary standpoint I also like the lack of butterflies as it keeps things focused on Corsica so it's the right choice for this TL. It's be so easy to make some small changes to the WoAS caused by butterflies dwarf the impact of the events in Corsica and that'd mute the focus of this TL.
The Siege of Bastia, Part II
The Siege of Bastia, Part II


Plan of the Citadel of Bastia

Despite his youth and relatively junior grade in the Royal Navy, Lieutenant David Aytone found himself treated like a visiting ambassador as soon as he set foot upon Corsican soil. King Theodore himself came to the shore at the beach of Toga, just north of Bastia, along with a company of grenadiers and the best military band the Corsicans could scrape together. What Aytone found most surprising, however, was that the king spoke perfect English. He was just about the only man in the Corsican camp who did, which put the lieutenant in the odd position of having a king as his translator. This worked to Theodore’s advantage, for he had every reason to portray the young lieutenant as a figure of more consequence than he actually was; to his officers, Theodore referred to the Englishman as Signore Aitone, and he certainly did not stop the Corsican soldiers referring to Aytone simply as U capitanu inglese. The British were lodged in cottages in Cardo close to Theodore’s own temporary domicile, and Aytone became the king’s frequent guest at dinners and war councils, although he presumably could not understand much of the latter.

Even before the British fleet sailed into view, the royalist council of war had developed a new plan. Theodore and his officers surmised that the Genoese were too weak to defend everywhere at once, and that a feint against the Terranova might draw enough defenders from the Terravecchia to allow the Corsicans to take the ramparts. To accomplish this, however, the Corsicans needed to get close enough to the citadel to actually threaten an attack. Major Anton Nobile Battisti, having surveyed the battlefield, pointed out that the ideal avenue for this attack was via a ridge arising directly west of the citadel. An advance down this ridge would be partially shielded from cannon-fire from the citadel below and would flank the southern end of the ramparts at the Church of San Giuseppe. But first the Corsicans would have to storm the strong point at the western end of the ridge, called the Posto della Croce by the Genoese. Vice-Regent Speroni had identified the “Post of the Cross” as a crucial location for the defense of Bastia and had recommended building a fortified tower there, but there had been neither time nor resources for that, and an earthen redoubt defended the hill instead.

Commissioner-General Pier Maria Giustiniani - himself a bishop - considered the successful Genoese defense of the Terravecchia to have been nothing short of a miracle, and instructed the citizens to give thanks to God for their deliverance. Nevertheless, he realized that his men had only hung on by the skin of their teeth. The Terravecchia perimeter had been defended by more than 600 men, the lion’s share of his force, leaving only a few hundred to hold the Terranova and its outposts. He was certain that the Corsicans would attack the Terravecchia again, but did not know if he could replicate his earlier success. The Genoese position was improved by the arrival of the feluccas, which not only carried food, ammunition, and artillery, but 50 Grison infantry and a cache of muskets which could be used to arm more citizens. The arrival of the British mitigated the effect of this windfall, however, as it forced Giustiniani to strengthen the citadel’s garrison and man the artillery there in case Captain Charles Watson attempted an attack on the harbor or the citadel itself.

The Corsicans preceded their attack with a ruse. The militia gathered above the Terravecchia on the morning of September 28th, appearing as if they were prepared for another assault, and soon the Corsican artillery opened up on Terravecchia once more. The real attack, however, was made by four companies of regulars against the Posto della Croce further south, led personally by Lieutenant-Colonel Milanino Lusinchi. Although they suffered under a hot fire from the hilltop redoubt, the defenders were outnumbered and had only 31 regular soldiers, the rest (under a hundred in total) being militia and armed citizenry. The first attack stalled as the Corsicans hunkered down and returned fire ineffectively, but Lieutenant-Colonel Lusinchi led the men back up the hill, sword in hand, until the Corsicans poured over the earthworks. The militia fled, and 23 Grison regulars were killed or captured.

After regrouping at the redoubt, Lusinchi’s force pivoted northwest, where another Genoese outpost at the Convent of the Capuchins lay down the hill less than 300 yards away. A separate detachment of regulars and militia had engaged this position early in the day, mostly as a means to fix the defenders in position so they could not reinforce the Posto della Croce. Now that this position was taken, the Corsicans were able to attack the convent from the rear and soon flushed out the defenders. As predicted, the defenders at the Church of San Giuseppe to the south rapidly withdrew to the citadel rather than allow themselves to be flanked in a similar manner. By noon or shortly thereafter the outer defenses of the Terranova had totally collapsed, placing the Corsicans within 700 yards of the citadel.

Over the next two days, the Corsicans and their British auxiliaries re-positioned their artillery. Aytone had pointed out that the guns were presently too distant to do much good, and the newly captured position on the ridge near the Posto della Croce would permit guns emplaced there to enfilade parts of the Terravecchia defenses. Under Battisti’s direction, a hastily fortified battery was constructed, and on the 30th the Corsican and British gun crews began pounding the Genoese positions. The Church of the Jesuits, another church-turned-bastion in the defensive line, was in the crossfire of two different Corsican batteries only 500 yards away. Within hours, the church was damaged so badly that the roof caved in and the defenders had to abandon it. With all their artillery concentrated at the citadel, the Genoese could offer almost no reply to this attack, and this unopposed bombardment had a corrosive effect on the morale of the defenders. The bombardment resumed on the 1st of October, and the Corsican guns were joined by the artillery of the Newcastle, which had anchored north of the port so as to bombard the northern Terravecchia out of the citadel’s effective range.[1]

Just after noon, the Corsicans launched a ground attack with around 1,400 men over the length of the Terravecchia perimeter. The militia was assigned to the center, under the overall command of Lieutenant-General Luigi Maria Ciavaldini of Orezza. The regulars would be positioned mainly on the flanks, with Major Pietro Giovan Battaglini commanding in the north and Lieutenant-Colonel Lusinchi in the south.[2] This time they were better prepared to attack the ramparts, having equipped themselves with ladders and axes. Once more, however, the Corsican organization proved rather shoddy; Count Marcantonio Giappiconi imagined a grand assault in unison over the whole line, but in practice different parts of the rampart were engaged at different times. This poor coordination was most evident in the center, where despite being heavily outnumbered the defenders managed to withstand the assault of the militia, which degenerated into sporadic, piecemeal advances and long-range skirmishing down the line.

The flanks, however, were another story. The heaviest fighting of the day was in the south, where Lusinchi’s battalion assaulted the Genoese lines around the shattered Church of the Jesuits. This part of the line had been most seriously damaged by the Corsican guns, and now Lusinchi’s men had the advantage of charging down a hill instead of up it. The Genoese regulars under Captain Giovanni Battista Albora gave them a good volley, but it did not stop the attack, and the Corsicans were soon on top of them. Apparently eschewing the usual patriotic slogans of “Evvivu Corsica” and “Evvivu u Rè,” the regulars launched themselves over the ramparts with a chilling cry of “Tumbà, Tumbà, Tumbà!” (“Kill, kill, kill!”). A desperate melee ensued, but it did not last long; battered and outnumbered, the Genoese collapsed and Albora’s company was routed along with their supporting militia. Battaglini’s attack in the north was less sanguinary, but no less successful. His primary target, the Convent of San Francesco, was held by the Barabino Grenadiers, but despite having performed so gallantly earlier in the siege the unit withdrew from its position without orders after the eponymous Captain Barabino was shot dead early in the battle. With their flanks staved in, the Genoese center abandoned the ramparts and retreated.

When Bastia fell to the rebels in 1736, it was by means of a peaceful capitulation, and the city had been scarcely harmed. Now, having been compelled to take it by force, the rebels put the city to the sack. Although General Ciavaldini commanded the whole center division in theory, the militia soon split up into its various regional companies and ignored the Orezzan general's orders. They entered the city as soon as the Genoese abandoned the ramparts and began looting almost immediately. Some of the citizens attempted to fight back, but this only enraged the Corsicans, who started attacking the populace indiscriminately. Lieutenant-Colonel Lusinchi was stabbed in the shoulder and lost control of his troops, who allegedly massacred the enemy wounded and then joined the general mayhem. Only Battaglini’s force kept some semblance of order. A fire broke out, possibly caused by the Newcastle’s bombardment, and was left to rage unchecked for hours. Retreating Genoese soldiers and militiamen mingled with terrified citizens in a stampede towards the safety of the Terranova in which dozens were fatally trampled. The streets were said to have been full of smoke, blood, and broken glass; the only part of the Terravecchia which was largely untouched was the port district in the south, where the guns of the citadel were sufficient to warn off looters.

Hundreds of civilians were killed, perhaps the better part of a thousand. In the months and years that followed, not even the best of Corsica’s apologists could dispute this figure much; they settled for excuses, claiming the paroxysm of violence to be the unfortunate but unavoidable result of pent-up anger over a long history of oppression and abuse, unleashed upon the capital and symbol of Genoa’s power. More critical commentators presented the sack as further evidence of the inherently violent and bloodthirsty nature of the Corsican people. “They are wild dogs, not men,” exclaimed Giustiniani, who was genuinely mortified. But arguably the real fault lay with the royalist commanders, who had unleashed an army of irregulars and “bandits” upon the city and utterly failed to control them. According to Father Carlo Rostini, Theodore had attempted to ride into Bastia personally to stop the bloodshed and plundering, but was prevented by Count Giappiconi and his other officers who absolutely refused to allow the king to ride off into a burning and lawless city. Giappiconi made the attempt himself, but was clearly not entirely successful as violence and looting continued through the night. Only with the coming of dawn was order finally restored.

Theodore was by all accounts shocked and dismayed by the behavior of his troops, but nevertheless wasted little time in minimizing his own responsibility and turning the blame on the Genoese. He accused Giustiniani of provoking the violence by arming civilians and encouraging their resistance, as well as not surrendering when his position was clearly hopeless. More generally, he claimed that by their very decision to “occupy” Corsica against the will of its people, a land which they had “usurped” and possessed no right to (notwithstanding their four centuries of rule), the Genoese were the true aggressors in the conflict and ipso facto responsible for any and all atrocities which arose from it, including any misdeeds of the Corsicans. While Theodore clearly did not intend for the city to be sacked, his sweeping renunciation of all responsibility for the conduct of his troops and his failure to hold any of his own officers or soldiers responsible for the sack surely do not count among his most admirable moments.

Without the Terravecchia, Giustiniani was in considerable trouble. The bishop had done all he could to bring food stores into the Terranova and set up impromptu bread ovens in the citadel, but the greater problem was water, as most of the city’s cisterns were in the Terravecchia. All of his resources were further strained by hundreds of refugees who had fled, intermingled with his retreating soldiers, through the citadel gates. Some of his officers recommended capitulation, but Giustiniani did not want to suffer the same fate as Speroni, who had been scapegoated and imprisoned for what the patricians felt had been an overly hasty surrender of Ajaccio. He also had direct orders from the Greater Council to hold on as long as possible, as the government expected the arrival of the expeditionary force which the Bourbons had promised them in the Treaty of Aranjuez. By October, however, this force still had yet to be organized.

Giustiniani did enjoy one small victory. Having rejected Theodore’s demands to surrender, he countered with a demand of his own, that the civilians presently within the city be allowed to depart in peace. Theodore knew that this could only hurt him, as it would give Giustiniani fewer mouths to feed and thus allow him to withstand a longer siege, but he felt he had no choice. Despite publicly deflecting all blame for the sack upon the Genoese, the king seems to have still suffered from a feeling of guilt in the immediate aftermath. Having presided over such atrocities, whoever may have been at fault, Theodore felt he could not subsequently refuse Giustiniani’s request and subject the civilians within the citadel to a bombardment.

On the 7th, after several days of trench-digging and moving artillery, the investment of the citadel was completed and the last phase of the siege began. Following standard practice at the time, the Corsican artillery was first ordered to concentrate its fire on the enemy bastions of San Carlo, San Giovanni, and Santa Maria, hoping to suppress counter-battery fire before moving closer to create breaches. Corsican gunnery was predictably lackluster, but the British sailors who had been given responsibility for three 24-pounder guns were more adept, and the Corsicans benefited from having vastly superior artillery compared to their enemy. The shots of their heavy guns proved able to damage masonry, smash parapets, and dismount artillery at ranges where the Genoese sakers and falcons - the heaviest of which had scarcely half the shot weight of a Corsican 12-pounder, and most were considerably lighter than that - were unable to make much of an impact on Corsican earthen bunkers and gabions. Even a pair of demi-culverins which Giustiniani had moved to the landward batteries had only limited effect, and they too were overpowered and out-ranged by the Corsican batteries.

Major Battisti realized soon after the bombardment had begun that, owing to the poor design and location of the citadel, making a breach and taking the citadel by storm might not be necessary. The Corsicans suffered from a lack of indirect artillery; they possessed no howitzers or mortars which could shoot over the walls and threaten the Terranova itself. The ridge of the Posto della Croce, however, extended eastwards to a 350 foot knoll which was under 400 yards from the citadel, practically point-blank range for artillery. Even direct-fire guns could, from this height, shoot right over the walls and bombard the interior directly, including Giustiniani's own governor's palace. All that was required was to suppress the Genoese artillery, and the counter-fire from the citadel was slackening each day.

The construction of this battery began on the 13th, and the Genoese immediately realized the danger. As the hill was somewhat of an exposed position and quite close to the fortress, Major Giovanni Kinich suggested that a surprise sally from the fortress might ruin the attempt and perhaps even succeed in taking some of the rebel guns out of commission. This attack, however, was delayed by the pessimism and defeatism of other officers, including Colonel Carlo Francesco Bembo, the most senior Genoese army officer present, who felt that a sally would be pointless and the siege had effectively been lost with the fall of the Terravecchia. By the time Kinich managed to persuade a temporizing Giustiniani into supporting him and authorizing an attack, the Corsican position on the hill had been significantly strengthened. On the 15th, Kinich and his Grison company led a sally against the battery but found the enemy well-prepared behind their redoubt. The Genoese forces struggled up the hill under heavy musket-fire. Astoundingly, they managed to reach and even take the Corsican position, but at severe cost, and their plans to turn the two Corsican guns which had already been moved into position against the Corsicans were foiled by the fact that the rebels had not actually brought up any ammunition yet. The rebels soon launched a massive counterattack that drove the Genoese from the redoubt and sent them running back down the hill. Major Kinich was shot twice, once during the advance and once upon the hilltop; the second wound proved mortal, and he died that night in the custody of the rebels.

On the following afternoon, a Corsican 12-pounder gun sent a ball crashing through one of the houses in the Terranova which the Genoese were using as a barracks. Theodore sent a message declaring that the next shot would be red-hot, and that he would continue to pour hot shot into the citadel’s interior until the Terranova was a burned out husk. After conferring briefly with his officers, the commissioner-general asked for terms. The king, who was irate at Giustiniani for resisting so long, was in no mood to be generous. Citing the assassination of Franzini, the attempted assassination of several other naziunali, and the kidnapping plot against Marquis Simone Fabiani’s family, all of which he laid at the feet of the Commissioner-General, the king declared that no honors of war could be offered to a man with no honor. The garrison would march out with their flags furled and surrender all their arms; the Genoese would be interned as prisoners with no parole, the foreign mercenaries would be disbanded, and any Corsican nationals among their ranks would be summarily shot as traitors.[A]

That last point in particular was intolerable to Giustiniani, who sent a boat to the Dragon (which had returned from cruising some days earlier) and offered instead to surrender Bastia to Captain Charles Watson. Watson demurred but agreed that the execution order was a dishonorable demand, and sent his own boat to the Corsicans with a message hinting that his own honor and that of the British nation would be offended if Theodore did not moderate his terms. Theodore reluctantly agreed to drop the execution order, and at Giappiconi’s urging also offered to parole the Genoese troops and allow passage back to Genoa on the condition that they would never return to Corsica nor bear arms against the Worms Allies for a period of one year. The count’s advice was practical; he saw no need to take prisoners merely out of spite and waste valuable food on them. Giustiniani once more appealed to the British for an even better deal, but although Watson recorded in his correspondence that he found the denial of the honors of war distasteful (for the Genoese, in his estimation, had resisted as manfully as might be expected), the worst excesses of the terms had been curbed and he was unwilling to push the Corsicans any further. Just after five in the afternoon on October the 16th, the gates of the citadel were opened and the garrison marched out. Giustiniani, either claiming illness or the fact that he was not a military officer (sources differ), was not present at the surrender. In his stead, Colonel Bembo offered his own sword on behalf of the Genoese forces. Theodore, although present, refused to accept a sword from Giustiniani's "lieutenant," and thus Giappiconi accepted his surrender. The king and the bishop, as far as is known, never met face to face.


The battle had been a bloody one for both sides. Around one out of every five royalist soldiers or militiamen present at the battle were killed, wounded, or dead of disease; for the Genoese it was about one in four, not including the larger number of civilians killed in the sack, whether by Corsican looters, fire, bombardment, or stampede. The battle had demonstrated the bravery of the new Corsican army, but also problems with discipline and organization that were not easily remedied. For Theodore and his officers, the siege also served as a warning against relying too much on the Corsican militia, particularly for tasks like assaulting fortified positions. Although the extra manpower which the militia provided had been vital to the capture of Bastia, the actual performance of the militia companies in battle had been almost uniformly disappointing, to say nothing of their execrable behavior in the Terravecchia. In retrospect, it was probably predictable that poor shepherds and farmers who were only infrequently paid for their services would, given arms and free reign over an enemy city, take everything which wasn't nailed down.

The losses of the royalists were mitigated at least in party by considerable material gains. They captured a substantial amount of provisions and military stores, hundreds of muskets, a large quantity of gunpowder (the citadel would have run out of water long before its garrison ran out of ammunition), at least two dozen cannon of various calibers and in various states of repair, and 11 small ships (mainly feluccas) which had been blockaded in Bastia’s harbor. The British were compensated for their help with a large share of the recovered provisions. Theodore requested that Aytone, or some other officer and his men, be permitted to remain and instruct the Corsican artillerymen, but Watson’s aim had been accomplished and he was unwilling to bend the rules any more. On the 17th of October, the British departed from Corsica, having suffered two wounded (both from counter-battery fire against Aytone's gunners). It would not, however, be the last time the British set foot on the island.

[1] The Dragon and the Seaford had temporarily departed. Although he had assured Theodore that he would maintain a blockade of the port, the presence of all three of his ships was not necessary to do this, and he continued to cruise with one or two ships while the siege was ongoing.
[2] Battaglini, from Talasani, was one of Giappiconi’s senior officers in his old Venetian regiment.

Timeline Notes
[A] Lest we forget, a protagonist is not always the same thing as a hero. “Enlightened” though he may be in some respects, Theodore is not immune from being petty and vindictive, particularly when angered. He hated slavery and intolerance but had no problem at all with summary execution, at least not when he was doing the executing.
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Lest we forget, a protagonist is not always the same thing as a hero. “Enlightened” though he may be in some respects, Theodore is not immune from being petty and vindictive, particularly when angered. He hated slavery and intolerance but had no problem at all with summary execution, at least not when he was doing the executing.

How would this decision, generally speaking, be viewed in the context of the time period, had it been carried out?
How would this decision, generally speaking, be viewed in the context of the time period, had it been carried out?

Not well, I should think. Theodore's argument is that the Kingdom of Corsica became the lawful government of all Corsica in 1736, and that any Corsican national who fights against that government is by definition a rebel and a traitor. But this view is a bit too advanced for its time, more in tune with the nationalism and "people's war" of the 19th/20th centuries than the traditions of 18th century war and politics, in which men frequently served in the armies of nations not their own and were not considered traitors for it. Furthermore, even Theodore's sympathizers would generally admit that Genoa is an established state which in the past held legitimate claim to Corsica; that it is the naziunali, not the filogenovesi, who are "rebels" properly so called; and that Corsicans who have honorably served in the Republic's military have not committed a crime merely because they didn't support the nationalist uprising and desert to the rebel cause, which would itself be a capital crime.

Theodore doesn't really want to kill all Corsicans who don't obey him. His repeated warnings of this nature are meant to encourage desertion, not as an ironclad statement of policy. But the losses and delays at Bastia riled him up, and in his frustration he felt like making an example out of a few Corsican officers before his own army and the rest of Bastia to demonstrate the dangers of siding with the Genoese. To sentence innocent men to death in a fit of pique was not particularly uncharacteristic for Theodore; we know, for instance, that IOTL the hanging of some of his followers at Bastia so enraged him that he ordered a retaliatory execution of dozens of his own captives who were not guilty of anything except being Genoese soldiers. Costa apparently talked him out of it.

That said, even if Theodore had gotten his way I doubt it would have mattered much. Europe is focused on bigger stories than Corsica at the moment, and a brief note in some gazette about how Theodore's men shot some guys is going to be swiftly forgotten. If there is to be any stain upon Theodore's reputation as a result of these events, it will certainly be because of the sacking of Bastia in which hundreds of defenseless civilians died, not a few subsequent executions. Watson's claim that the act would bring shame to the British nation is purely hot air; he intervened mainly out of his own distaste for the terms, and perhaps a sense that in light of the sack of Bastia it would be well if he had some evidence that he behaved as honorably as he could under the circumstances.
The liberation is complete save Bonifacio, correct? I know the conquest of the Cape was well under way but I believe the narrative shifted to recruiting there for navy purposes so I'm not sure it that was complete
The liberation is complete save Bonifacio, correct? I know the conquest of the Cape was well under way but I believe the narrative shifted to recruiting there for navy purposes so I'm not sure it that was complete

Calvi and Algajola I think are still Genoese too.

Plus various little islands off Corsica, Capraia etc..
The liberation is complete save Bonifacio, correct? I know the conquest of the Cape was well under way but I believe the narrative shifted to recruiting there for navy purposes so I'm not sure it that was complete
The Genoese still have Rogliano and its surroundings on the tip of the Cape though their position there seems rather hopeless. Algajola is also very unlikely to last very much, which leaves just two citadels, probably to be taken through grueling sieges. And yes, Capraia, if the war extends there.
Note that the ownership of several other Tuscan islands is quite uncertain in this period. The main island, Elba, is divided between the Spanish Presidi, Piombino (a notional Neapolitan vassal) and Tuscany; these three states also possess the other islands there (Giglio to Tuscany, Giannutri to Presidi, Montecristo and Pianosa to Piombino but uninhabited and of dubious ownership; Gorgona is also uninhabited and notionally belongs to a monastic order which had it abandoned in 1425. All these states are involved or might easily be in the war, due to close ties to either the Habsburgs or the Bourbons). If Corsica becomes an active belligerent in the wider "Pragmatic Alliance" (so to speak) Theodore might see the chance for gains in this area.
This is obviously extremely premature for a country that, aside for not even technically existing in the diplomatic sense yet, has a navy consisting of precisely one ship, and one that might legitimately be regarded as engaged in piracy.
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There's the Maddalena islands too, but given that Genoa is at war with Sardinia, it's entirely possibly the Sardinians have already grabbed them.
These places would require a specific treaty.

To keep, yeah. But not to land troops in. Theodore has promised to raise an army for use against the genoans. Taking any genoan land seems entirely within his remit.

Capraia is garrisoned so is a reasonable target. The Maddalenas are uninhabited apart from a few shephards so landing troops there just to make sure everyone there knows who's boss isn't going to mean anything, either way. It doesn't mean Theodore gets them, but I don't think it means Sardinia would consider it an unfriendly act either.

More likely Charles Emmanuel would just ignore it. If he wants the maddalenas, he can claim it in a peace treaty with Corsica later, he has plenty of tools to use.

The question of course is whether Theodore is going to bother with any of this. The maddalenasa are technically genoan but there's no army there to worry about. Capraia is isloated enough that it can be ignored too. Even Rogliano, Calvi and Bonifacio can just be put under watch by local militas and ignored.

He has Bastia, he has Ajaccio. The best use of his army now is to fulfill his promise to fight on the mainland and try to ensure the fall of genoa at which point he has a better seat in the peace.

Of course getting an army together that will go to Italy and getting transport for them to get there is way out of his capabilities.