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The Campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte of 1796-1797 Against Austria and Sardinia in Italy

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The Campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte of 1796-1797 Against Austria and Sardinia in Italy
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Author(s): Gustav Joseph Fiebeger
Date Published: 2010/06
Page Count: 116
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-223-9
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-224-6

An expert examination of the first campaigns of a military genius

Gustav Fiebeger has approached his analysis of General Bonaparte's campaign of 1796-7 in Italy against Austrian and Sardinian forces on several levels. His book concentrates on delivering as much information as possible in the fewest words, so this a work of little literary style. Nevertheless, few relevant issues escape the author’s attention here as he critically examines the opposing commanders, the political background to events, the strategic and tactical movement of troops, configurations of the armies, Napoleons own comments and the military situations and outcomes of conflict. The causes of Napoleon's success are examined in the conclusion of this work which will be an invaluable companion piece to any study of the early wars of the Napoleonic age and victories of the French Revolutionary armies. Available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket.

On the morning of January 14, Alvinczi had three brigades in front of Joubert and one at Lumini. His fifth brigade was on the river road with the cavalry and artillery, ready to ascend the plateau as soon as its path was cleared. The sixth brigade was still across the Adige, but could easily join the others by throwing a bridge across the river.
Alvinczi was not satisfied with the advantage he had gained and instead of ordering his first brigade from Lumini to Caprino, ordered it to march via Costermano and Affi to seize the ridge south of Rivoli. This would delay his attack until the afternoon. In the morning the three brigades in front of Joubert were to complete their deployment and occupy the ridge from Ceredele to San Marco.<br>
When Napoleon reached Rivoli, it was moonlight and he was able to reconnoitre the position. He at once decided that to prevent the union of the Austrian columns, Joubert must hold the ridge at San Marco and extend his left along the ridge towards Trombalora. Even if driven from this advanced position he would gain time for the arrival of Massena and Victor.<br>
At dawn, Joubert left 1,500 men to hold his second line and man the fortifications commanding the river road, and with about 8,500 moved out to the line selected by Napoleon. He conducted the right of his line in person. He had hardly reached San Marco before an Austrian brigade approached to occupy it. This brigade was attacked and after a severe engagement was driven back.<br>
On the Trombalora ridge the French line was outflanked by the right brigade of the Austrian line and Joubert’s left wing was defeated and retreated in a panic. The Austrians were rolling up the centre when Massena appeared with his first demi-brigade. Massena at once attacked the Austrian brigade in flank, drove it from the field and re-established the French left.<br>
Before the arrival of Massena, Alvinczi saw the French left retreating and sent his centre and left brigades against Joubert at San Marco. This attack compelled Joubert to fall back to the southern ridge while Massena was restoring the left of his line on the northern ridge.<br>
Arriving at the head of the road leading down into the Adige valley with Joubert, Napoleon saw that his fortified line in the valley was carried and the Austrians were advancing up the road in a dense column, whose head had reached the plateau.<br>
A regiment of cavalry held in reserve charged the head of the Austrian column and was supported by Joubert with such infantry as he could rally. This attack, supported by artillery, was successful and the Austrians retreated to the valley to reform.<br>
Then, turning to the Austrian brigades which had followed him from San Marco, Joubert held them in front while Massena, who had been joined by his second demi-brigade, attacked them in flank. The Austrians were in turn surprised and a sudden charge of French cavalry caused them to break and retire to their morning position.<br>
The first Austrian brigade had pursued its way unmolested and was now on the ridge south of Rivoli.<br>
Leaving Joubert to face the Austrians north of him, Massena took one demi-brigade to attack this brigade. In marching to the attack, he was joined by his third demi-brigade, which he had sent via Garda to reconnoitre the road along the lake leading to Peschiera. Finding no Austrians at Garda, this brigade marched to Rivoli.<br>
The commander of the Austrian brigade tried to retreat via Affi, running the gauntlet between Massena and Victor, who was approaching Affi from the south. Many of his command were captured and those who escaped ran into and were captured by Gen. Murat who had crossed the lake from Salo with its garrison and had landed at Torri.
The Austrian brigades which had recrossed the Tasso north of Rivoli were not pursued since night was falling and Napoleon had just learned that Provera had crossed the Adige at Angiari.<br>
Napoleon now considered Alvinczi defeated and at once ordered two demi-brigades of Massena’s division and Victor’s demi-brigade to make a night march to Mantua to assist Serurier.<br>
Of Massena’s division, one demi-brigade, and of Rey’s division, Murat’s battalions of the Salo garrison, remained with Joubert. A demi-brigade of Rey’s division was en route for the field from Valeggio and would be up the in morning.<br>
January 15.—On the 15th, Provera continued his march for Mantua, but was delayed en route by the reserve cavalry brigade and Gen. Guieu.<br>
He sent his advance guard to communicate with Wurmser, but the commander of this guard found the French investing force strongly intrenched and being himself repulsed was unable to communicate with Wurmser.<br>
Augereau, reinforced by Lannes, moved up to Angiari to attack the rear guard left by Provera to protect his bridge. This rear guard attempted to join the main body, but was cut off and captured. Augereau then burned the Austrian bridge and started for Mantua.<br>
That night Napoleon was at Roverbella with two demi-brigades of the command which had marched from Rivoli; the other demi-brigade was en route from Castelnovo.<br>
Joubert, on the morning of the 15th, had in his front only three Austrian brigades. He had been reinforced as above stated from the divisions of Massena and Rey, and was directed by Napoleon to take the offensive.<br>
He first took the hill at San Marco shortly after daylight; then, pivoting on that hill, tiuned the Austrian right. He thus cut their line of retreat to Corona and compelled the Austrians to retreat over the mountains to the Adige. His victory was decisive and he captured several thousand prisoners. This closed the two days’ Battle of Rivoli.<br>
January 16.—Provera appeared before Mantua in the morning, and was here attacked by Massena, Victor, Guieu and Serurier. Being cut off from Mantua with no hope of retreat, he surrendered his remaining force of 7,000 men at 11 a. m. This engagement was known as the Battle of Favorita.<br>
This ended the eight days’ campaign. Alvinczi retreated to Roveredo and Bajalich to Bassano.<br>
Alvinczi had sent a small raiding force down the west side of Lake Garda; this reached the vicinity of Brescia but was then compelled to retreat without doing any damage.<br>
On February 2, Wurmser surrendered Mantua. General Wurmser with his staff, the general officers with their staffs, and an escort of 700 men were allowed to return to Austria. The remaining 15,000 became prisoners of war. A large part of the Austrian garrison died of fever during the siege.<br>
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