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Luigi Palma di Cesnola
[[Image:200px|center|200px|border]]Luigi Palma di Cesnola as depicted in Deeds of Valor'
Personal Information
Born: July 29, 1832(1832-07-29)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: November 20, 1904 (aged 72)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
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Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: brigadier-general
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
Awards: Medal of Honor
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Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Luigi Palma di Cesnola (July 29, 1832 – November 20, 1904), an Italian-American soldier and amateur archaeologist, was born in Rivarolo Canavese, near Turin. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the American Civil War.


Having served in the Austrian and Crimean Wars, in 1860 he went to New York, where he taught Italian and French and founded a military school for officers. He took part in the American Civil War as colonel of a cavalry regiment, serving under the name Louis P. di Cesnola. At the Battle of Aldie (June 1863), Colonel di Cesnola was wounded and taken prisoner. He received a Medal of Honor for his efforts during the battle. He was released from Libby Prison early in 1864, served in the Wilderness and Petersburg campaigns (1864–65) as a brigadier of cavalry, and at the close of the war was breveted brigadier-general. He was then appointed United States consul at Larnaca in Cyprus (1865–1877).

File:Louis Palma Di Cesnola Monument 2010.JPG

The burial location of Louis Palma Di Cesnola

During his stay on Cyprus he carried out excavations (especially around the archaeological site of Kourion), which resulted in the discovery of a large number of antiquities. The collection was purchased by the newly expanded Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Cesnola became the first director in 1879. Doubt having been thrown by the art critic Clarence Cook,[1] and by Gaston L. Feuardent,[2] in an article in the New York Herald (August 1880), upon the genuineness of his restorations, the matter was referred to a special committee, which pronounced in his favor. In Cyprus however, his actions are still considered to tantamount to looting.[3]

File:Louis Palma Di Cesnola Footstone 2010.JPG

The footstone of Louis Palma Di Cesnola

He is the author of Cyprus, its ancient Cities, Tombs and Temples (1877), a travel book of considerable service to the practical antiquary; and of a Descriptive Atlas of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities (3 volumes, 1884–1886). He died in New York and was interred at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY. He was a member of several learned societies in Europe and America.

Medal of Honor citation[]

File:DoV1-214 - Capture of Luigi P. di Cesnola.jpg

di Cesnola is captured during the Battle of Aldie, from Deeds of Valor

Rank and organization: Colonel, 4th New York Cavalry. Place and date: At Aldie, Va., June 17, 1863. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Born: June 29, 1832, Rivarola, Piedmont, Italy. Date of issue: Unknown.


Was present, in arrest, when, seeing his regiment fall back, he rallied his men, accompanied them, without arms, in a second charge, and in recognition of his gallantry was released from arrest. He continued in the action at the head of his regiment until he was desperately wounded and taken prisoner.

See also[]

32x28px Biography portal
32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal
  • List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: A–F
  • List of Italian American Medal of Honor recipients


  1. "Clarence Cook Dead", The New York Times, June 3, 1900
  2. "Gaston L. Feuardent," The New York Times, June 13, 1893
  3. Markides, Constantine (August 13, 2006). "Taking stock of our stolen past". Archaeology News. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  • Template:Cite EB1911

External links[]

  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Cesnola, Luigi Palma di". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1891. 

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