The attack against the Ismentro, an insignificant tributary in the sub-Alpine highlands, came on the heels of fifteen failed attacks before it. The Austrians had long suspected their erstwhile ally of treachery, and had carefully laid in their defenses and improved them based on their German allies’ combat experience. The Italian regiments waded into slaughter, armed with Carcano bolt-action carbines against heavy machine guns.

The Sixteenth Battle of the Ismentro appeared to be more of the same; Italian officers and enlisted men had observed the Austrians constructing improved fortifications through their field glasses. Thus, when the order went out to advance, it was disobeyed by nine out of the ten formations in the line.

General Codarna was livid when he received the news, and could barely be persuaded from ordering every last surviving man on the line to be shot. He settled for decimation instead: the old Roman practice of forcing the men to draw lots in groups of ten, with the winners beating the loser to death. It had served him well, or so he thought, on the Isonzo.

Word of the events reached the Austrians, who were preparing a general offensive for later in the year. As a result, their attack in the Ismentro sector fell squarely on the decimated troops.