Keywords: Prefects; Banditry; Public Order; State-Building; Southern Italy.
Working from administrative and military archival sources, the article investigates the dynamics of cooperation and conflict between the prefects and the army involved in the struggle against the counter-revolutionary brigandage in the Province of Foggia (Capitanata) after the Italian unification. Prefects and military leaders played a crucial role in elaborating a counter-insurgency strategy based on the combination of police measures, military operations and popular mobilization. The balance of power between the two authorities proved to be an essential issue in local politics, deeply influenced by the contrast between liberals and democrats on a nationwide scale. Claiming for a leading role of civil authorities in maintaining public order, the prefects, far from being the passive agents of the central government, acted as the representatives of their province's interests and tried to limit the military power within the new state.