The March On Rome
On October 24, 1922, Mussolini gave a speech in front of 60,000 of his followers in Naples, where he declared his party’s intent “to rule Italy.” Afterward, Mussolini posed for photos with the marchers before traveling to Milan, leaving his underbosses—Emilio De Bono, Italo Balbo, Michele Bianchi, and Cesare Maria de Vecchi—in charge of the march. As the Blackshirts marched toward Rome, they took over newspapers, telegram offices, government buildings, army barracks, and even museums throughout Italy to arm themselves for whatever battle awaited in Rome.
When the mob of 30,000 reached Rome on October 28, Prime Minister Luigi Facta tried to stop the coup by ordering a state of siege. If King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy had consented to the order, the Italian military could have fought off the Blackshirts and stopped the coup in its tracks, but he feared the loss of his throne if the fascists won against the army. It’s likely that this cowardly act kept Italy from falling into even more turmoil and disarray. Had he signed over military power to the prime minister, there would have been blood in the streets.