Sunday, 3 September 2017

Settimo Del Frate - Obituary and possible birthplace

As a complement to my post from late last year Who is Settimo Del Frate?, I've gathered together some other information about Settimo Del Frate which provides a greater insight into the man's full military career.

Firstly, I present my translation of his obituary In memoria del Tenente Generale Settimo Del Frate ("In memory of Lieutentant General Settimo Del Frate"), taken from a 1919 issue of Rivista di Cavalleria, an Italian cavalry periodical:
History carves on its eternal plates the names of the men who rise to the top of the crowds, some for their great deeds, others for the volumes they wrote or the works they left, others for the eminent positions they reached; lastly, there are others who, like luminous beacons, shine on present and future generations through the intrinsic gifts of virtue and moral beauty.
Such was Lieutenant general Settimo Del Frate, whose death we sadly learned of last month. 
He was one of the few survivors of the ardent volunteers of ‘59 who, being protagonists of the first chapter of the History of Italian Independence, had the fortune of seeing its great conclusion: Settimo Del Frate forever closed his tired eyes from the watch of the last triumph for which he had fought as a young man. 
To the memory of the venerable veteran, who devoted a long career to its favourite weapon, the cavalry owes a tribute of gratitude, and the Rivista di Cavalleria has the great honour of being able to also extol his name to those who, young of years, could not appreciate his outstanding virtues of mind and character, at the same time sending out a sad thought of condolences to the grandson of the late General Arturo Milanesi, commander of the 7th Cavalry Brigade, on whom he concentrated his friendly affections and his ambitions of an old cavalryman after the premature and painful loss of his son Cesare, a brilliant cavalry officer, laid to rest too soon. 
Born in 1832, Settimo Del Frate was 27 years old when the challenged issued to Austria by Vittorio Emanuele II in the name of the Italian people called the host of volunteers to arms; he left his study, having already obtained a law degree, and rushed to enlist in the ranks of young Lombards that were welcomed by “Monferrato”. — With the early Italic hopes being cut short in Villafranca, Del Frate remained in service and was promoted to second lieutenant in the Monferrato light cavalry, in which he had to remain for eighteen years, that is, until his promotion to Major. — Major in “Alessandria”, Lieutenant colonel in “Firenze”, in 1887 he took command of the Saluzzo Light Cavalry, reaching the age limit in 1892 and putting an end to his industrious career. 
And industrious it truly was; that active industriousness not being fruitless efforts, but noble teachings and practical applications. For many years as aide-de-camp of Colonel Gerolamo Avogadro, whose name still rings in the ears of the few survivors of bygone times, Captain Del Frate devoted his study and activity, aside from in the faultless service and noble passion of fencing, to the perfection of the arms and equipment of the soldier. The result was: the sabre, weapon of the cut and thrust, invented and proposed by him and which the Ministry adopted; and the troop saddle which bears his name and whose essential part, the saddlebow, was studied by him so perfectly so as to make it, in the opinion of many, if well understood and correctly used, unequalled. 
He was a supporter and sponsor of the idea of giving the cavalry a powerful firearm, almost sensing or predicting the necessity of its wide use in the current campaign.
Having reached the rank of major, he deeply intuited the educational mission of the senior officer and to that he directed all his cares with an open mind, far ahead of his time, and predicting new horizons for his young employees, very different to the sterile pedantry of the time. — One of his old subordinates, having later risen to the top of the hierarchy, wrote of him: “Goodness, serenity, common sense, stability, he laid the path to be followed; he was an architect of the moral and intellectual revival which gave our army new life.” 
What higher praise is possible? 
The seed that was cast was not lost; it slowly sprouted in the long and drab peacetime years, but it was quick to flourish in the sunlight of conflict. It blossomed superbly and bore fruit on the fields of Monfalcone, Pozzuolo, from the banks of the Piave to the Isonzo. 
In the soul of the valiant cavalrymen, the soul of the volunteers of ‘59 was instilled. The great heart of Settimo Del Frate had multiplied in a thousand hearts… and victory was ours.
F. E. B.
Some additional information can be gleaned from this article about an Italian politician named Enzo Moavero Milanesi. Among other things, this article talks about Milanesi's ancestry in his home town of Cavenago d'Adda, with his ancestors recorded as having lived there since at least 1460. Cavenago d'Adda is a small township of about 2000 people just outside of Lodi, in Lombardy.

How does this relate to Settimo Del Frate? Well, this article also mentions that Milanesi is in fact related to Settimo Del Frate, whose family owned a villa in Cavenago d'Adda that was named "Villa Bocconi Del Frate". Supporting this is the fact that Cavenago d'Adda appears to even have a street named after Settimo Del Frate ("Via Settimo del Frate", although Google Maps has it labelled as just "Via del Frate").

I therefore feel that it is not unreasonable to assume that Cavenago d'Adda is Settimo Del Frate's birthplace, or at least where he lived for a large part of his life.

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