The Roman army (20,000 men) was commanded by General Rosselli, and included, besides Garibaldis red-shirted legionaries, volunteers from all parts of Italy, mostly very young men, many of them wealthy and of noble family.
Garibaldis volunteers raised the standard of insurrection and held the field in the region of the Italian lakes.
Formerly a friend and disciple of Mazzini, with whom he had broken on the question of the monarchical form of government which Crispi believed indispensable to the unification of Italy, he had afterwards been one of Garibaldis most efficient coadjutors and an active member of the party of action.
The emperor wished to stop Garibaldis passage across the strait, and stationed his fleet at Gaeta to protect the king of Naples.
Lord John Russell, on the contrary, welcomed Garibaldis success with enthusiasm.