Portrait by Flavie Renault (after Antoine-Jean Gros)
|Nickname(s)||l'Enfant chéri de la Victoire|
|Born||16 May 1758|
Nice, Kingdom of Sardinia
|Died||4 April 1817 58) (aged|
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
|Rank||Marshal of the Empire|
|Battles/wars||French Revolutionary Wars, Napoleonic Wars|
|Awards||Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour|
André Masséna, 1st Duke of Rivoli, 1st Prince of Essling (born Andrea Massena; 16 May 1758 – 4 April 1817) was a French military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.He was one of the original 18 Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon I, with the nickname l'Enfant chéri de la Victoire (the Dear Child of Victory).
Many of Napoleon's generals were trained at the finest French and European military academies, but Masséna was among those who achieved greatness without the benefit of formal education. While those of noble rank acquired their education and promotions as a matter of privilege, Masséna rose from humble origins to such prominence that Napoleon referred to him as "the greatest name of my military empire."His military career is equaled by few commanders in European history.
In addition to his battlefield successes, Masséna's leadership aided the careers of many. A majority of the French marshals of the time served under his command at some point.
Masséna was born in Nice, which was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia at the time, on 16 May 1758. He was the son of shopkeeper Jules Masséna (Giulio Massena), who became a wine merchant, and his wife Marguerite Fabre. His father died in 1764, and after his mother remarried, he was sent to live with his father's relatives.
At the age of thirteen, Masséna became a cabin boy aboard a merchant ship. While aboard, he sailed in the Mediterranean Sea and on two extended voyages to French Guiana. In 1775, after four years at sea, he returned to Nice and enlisted in the French Army as a private in the Royal Italian Regiment. By the time he left in 1789, Masséna had risen to the rank of warrant officer, the highest rank achievable by non-noblemen. On 10 August that year, he married Anne Marie Rosalie Lamare, daughter of a surgeon in Antibes, and lived with her in her hometown. After a brief stint as a smuggler in Northern Italy, he rejoined the army in 1791 and was made an officer, rising to the rank of colonel by 1792.
When the French Revolutionary Wars broke out in April 1792, Masséna and his battalion were deployed along the border to Piedmont. Masséna prepared his battalion for battle in the hope that it would be incorporated into the regular army. That October, a month after the occupation of Nice, the battalion was one of four volunteer battalions that became part of the French Armée d'Italie.
Masséna distinguished himself in battle and was quickly promoted, attaining the rank of général de brigade in August 1793 and général de division that December. He was prominent in every campaign on the Italian Riviera over the next two years, including the attack on Saorgio in 1794 and the Battle of Loano in 1795. When Napoleon Bonaparte took command in March 1796, Masséna was commanding the two divisions of the army's advance guard.
During the campaign in Italy from 1796-1797, Masséna became one of Bonaparte's most important subordinates. He played a significant role in the battles of Montenotte and Dego in the spring, and took a leading role at the battles of Lonato, Castiglione, Bassano, Caldiero and Arcola in the summer and fall, as well as the Battle of Rivoli and the fall of Mantua that winter.
When an Austrian relief army was sent to aid Mantua in January 1797, the French forces were overrun near Rivoli, while other enemy columns advanced on Verona and Mantua. At 5:00 P.M. on 13 January, Masséna was ordered to march from Verona to Rivoli, fifteen miles away. Following a forced night march across the snow-covered roads, the first of his troops reached the battlefield at 6:00 A.M. Bonaparte deployed them on the left flank when the battle began. They were shifted to strengthen the sagging center and then deployed to crush an Austrian flanking maneuver. Masséna's troops played a decisive role in the victory. The next day, with very little rest, Masséna and his troops marched 39 miles in 24 hours to intercept a second Austrian army advancing to relieve Mantua. At La Favorita, he closed the pincer on the Austrian army, forcing their surrender. In the space of five days, Masséna's division played a major role in an operation that left over 35,000 Austrian soldiers either dead or captured. Two weeks later, the 30,000-man garrison at Mantua surrendered. With his final victory complete, Napoleon praised Masséna with the name l'enfant chéri de la victoire. The president of the Directory in Paris, Jean Rewbell, was also congratulatory: "The Executive Directory congratulates you, citizen general, for the new success that you have obtained against the enemies of the Republic. The brave division that you command has covered itself with glory in the three consecutive days that forced Mantua to capitulate, and the Directory is obliged to regard you among the most capable and useful generals of the Republic."
In 1799, Masséna was granted an important command in Switzerland, replacing General Charles Edward Jennings. As Russian reinforcements marched to support the Austrian armies in Italy and Switzerland, the Directory consolidated the remnants of the French armies under Masséna's command. With a force totaling approximately 90,000 men, Masséna was ordered to defend the entire frontier. He repulsed Archduke Charles's advance on Zurich in June, but retired from the city and took up positions in the surrounding mountains.He triumphed over the Russians under General Alexander Korsakov at the Second Battle of Zurich in September, then, aware of the advance of Russian general Alexander Suvorov toward St. Gotthard, quickly shifted his troops southward. General Claude Jacques Lecourbe's division delayed the Russians' entrance into Switzerland at Gotthard Pass, and when Suvorov finally forced his way through, he was met by units of General Jean-de-Dieu Soult's French division blocking the route at Altdorf. Unable to break through the French lines and aware of Korsakov's disastrous defeat, the Russian general turned east through the high and difficult Pragel Pass to Glarus where he was dismayed to find other French troops awaiting him on 4 October. In waist-deep snow, his troops attempted six times to break through the French lines along the Linth river, but each attack was beaten back. Suvorov had no alternative but to make his escape across the treacherous Panix Pass, abandoning his baggage and artillery and losing as many as 5,000 men. This, among other events, led to Russia's withdrawal from the Second Coalition.
In 1800, Masséna was besieged at Genoa in Italy by the Austrians, while Bonaparte marched with the Army of the Reserve to Milan. By the end of May, plague had spread throughout Genoa and the civilian population was in revolt. Negotiations were begun for the exchange of prisoners early in June, but the citizens and some of the garrison clamored for capitulation. Unknown to Masséna, the Austrian general Peter Ott had been ordered to raise the siege because Bonaparte had crossed Great St Bernard Pass and was now threatening the main Austrian army. Describing the situation at Genoa, Ott requested and received permission to continue the siege. On 4 June, with one day's rations remaining, Masséna's negotiator finally agreed to evacuate the French Army from Genoa. However, "if the word capitulation was mentioned or written," Masséna threatened to end all negotiations.Two days later, a few of the French left the city by sea, but the bulk of Masséna's starving and exhausted troops marched out of the city with all their equipment and followed the road along the coast toward France, ending the siege of almost 60 days. The siege was an astonishing demonstration of tenacity, ingenuity, courage, and daring that garnered additional laurels for Masséna and placed him in a category previously reserved for Bonaparte alone.
By forcing the Austrians to deploy vast forces against him at Genoa, Masséna made it possible for Bonaparte to cross Great St Bernard Pass, surprise the Austrians, and ultimately defeat General Michael von Melas's Austrian army at Marengo before sufficient reinforcements could be transferred from the siege site. Less than three weeks after the evacuation, Bonaparte wrote to Masséna, "I am not able to give you a greater mark of the confidence I have in you than by giving you command of the first army of the Republic [Army of Italy]."Even the Austrians recognized the significance of Masséna's defense; the Austrian chief of staff declared firmly, "You won the battle, not in front of Alessandria but in front of Genoa." Masséna was made commander of French forces in Italy, though he was later dismissed by Napoleon. Despite the praise, Napoleon also criticized Massena for capitulating too early in his memoirs, contrasting his actions with those of the Gauls under Vercingetorix when besieged by Julius Caesar in the Battle of Alesia.
Not until 1804 did Masséna regain Napoleon's trust. That year, he was made a Marshal of the Empire in May. He led an independent army that captured Verona and fought the Austrians at Verona and later, on 30 October 1805, Caldiero. Masséna was given control of operations against the Kingdom of Naples, and commanded the right wing of the Grand Army in Poland in 1807. He was granted his first ducal victory title as chief of Rivoli on 24 August 1808.
In 1808, Masséna was accidentally shot during a hunting expedition with the imperial suite. It is unclear as to whether he was shot by Napoleon himself or by Marshal Louis-Alexandre Berthier, but he lost the use of one eye as a result.
It wasn't until 1809 that he was in active service, this time against the forces of the Fifth Coalition. At the beginning of the campaign, Masséna led the IV Corps at the battles of Eckmühl and Ebersberg. Later in the war, when Napoleon tried to cross to the north bank of the Danube at the Battle of Aspern-Essling, Masséna's troops hung onto the village of Aspern through two days of savage fighting. He was rewarded on 31 January 1810 with a second, now princely, victory title, Prince of Essling, for his efforts there and in the Battle of Wagram.
During the Peninsular War, Napoleon appointed Masséna as Commander of the Army of Portugal in 1810. Masséna captured Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida after successful sieges, but suffered a setback at the hands of the Duke of Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese army at Buçaco on 27 September. Pressing on, he forced the allies to retreat into the Lines of Torres Vedras, where a stalemate ensued for several months. Finally forced to retreat due to lack of food and supplies, Masséna withdrew to the Spanish frontier, allegedly prompting Napoleon to comment, "So, Prince of Essling, you are no longer Masséna."After suffering defeats at the battles of Sabugal and Fuentes de Oñoro, he was replaced by Marshal Auguste de Marmont and did not serve again, becoming a local commander at Marseille.
Masséna retained his command after the restoration of King Louis XVIII. When Napoleon returned from exile the following year, Masséna refused to commit to either side and kept his area quiet. The day after Napoleon's second abdication on 22 June 1815, he was named head of the National Guard in Paris by the Provisional Government, but was soon replaced upon the return of the Bourbons.He was disinclined to prove his royalist loyalties after the defeat of Napoleon, and was also a member of the court-martial that refused to try Marshal Michel Ney. Masséna died in Paris in 1817 and was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery, in a tomb he shares with his son-in-law Honoré Charles Reille.
Masséna's wife stayed at their home in Antibes during his campaigns. Their first child, Marie Anne Elisabeth, was born on 8 July 1790, but died only four years later. Their first son Jacques Prosper, born 25 June 1793, inherited his father's title as 2nd Prince of Essling on 3 July 1818. Victoire Thècle was born on 28 September 1794 and married Honoré Charles Reille on 12 September 1814. François Victor, born on 2 April 1799, became 2nd Duke of Rivoli, 3rd Prince of Essling, and married Anne Debelle on 19 April 1823.
The village of Massena in New York was settled by French lumbermen in the early 19th century and named in Masséna's honor. Massena, Iowa, also in the United States and in turn named for the community in New York, honors Masséna with a portrait of him in Centennial Park. His birthplace, Nice, is the location of Place Masséna, also named after him.
The Battle of Rivoli was a key victory in the French campaign in Italy against Austria. Napoleon Bonaparte's 23,000 Frenchmen defeated an attack of 28,000 Austrians under General of the Artillery Jozsef Alvinczi, ending Austria's fourth and final attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. Rivoli further demonstrated Napoleon's brilliance as a military commander and led to the French consolidation of northern Italy.
The Battle of Arcole or Battle of Arcola was a battle fought between French and Austrian forces 25 kilometres (16 mi) southeast of Verona during the War of the First Coalition, a part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The battle saw a bold maneuver by Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army of Italy to outflank the Austrian army led by József Alvinczi and cut off its line of retreat. The French victory proved to be a highly significant event during the third Austrian attempt to lift the Siege of Mantua. Alvinczi planned to execute a two-pronged offensive against Bonaparte's army. The Austrian commander ordered Paul Davidovich to advance south along the Adige River valley with one corps while Alvinczi led the main army in an advance from the east. The Austrians hoped to raise the siege of Mantua where Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser was trapped with a large garrison. If the two Austrian columns linked up and if Wurmser's troops were released, French prospects were grim.
Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier, 1st Count Sérurier led a division in the War of the First Coalition and became a Marshal of the Empire under Emperor Napoleon. He was born into the minor nobility and in 1755 joined the Laon militia which was soon sent to fight in the Seven Years' War. After transferring into the regular army as an ensign, he was wounded at Warburg in 1760. He fought in the Spanish-Portuguese War in 1762. He married in 1779 after a promotion to captain. A newly minted major in 1789, the French Revolution sped up promotion so that he was colonel of the regiment in 1792. After leading Army of Italy troops in a number of actions, he became a general of brigade in 1793 and a general of division the following year.
The Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) were a series of conflicts fought principally in Northern Italy between the French Revolutionary Army and a Coalition of Austria, Russia, Piedmont-Sardinia, and a number of other Italian states.
During the Siege of Genoa the Austrians besieged and captured Genoa. However, the smaller French force at Genoa under André Masséna had diverted enough Austrian troops to enable Napoleon to win the Battle of Marengo and defeat the Austrians.
The Battle of Castiglione saw the French Army of Italy under General Napoleon Bonaparte attack an army of Habsburg Monarchy led by Feldmarschall Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser on 5 August 1796. The outnumbered Austrians were defeated and driven back along a line of hills to the river crossing at Borghetto, where they retired beyond the Mincio River. The town of Castiglione delle Stiviere is located 10 kilometres (6 mi) south of Lake Garda in northern Italy. This battle was one of four famous victories won by Bonaparte during the War of the First Coalition, part of the Wars of the French Revolution. The others were Bassano, Arcole, and Rivoli.
The Battle of Bassano was fought on 8 September 1796, during the French Revolutionary Wars, in the territory of the Republic of Venice, between a French army under Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces led by Count Dagobert von Wurmser. The engagement occurred during the second Austrian attempt to raise the Siege of Mantua. It was a French victory, however it was the last battle in Napoleon's perfect military career as two months later he would be defeated at the Second Battle of Bassano, ending his victorious streak. The Austrians abandoned their artillery and baggage, losing supplies, cannons, and battle standards to the French.
In the Battle of Rovereto on 4 September 1796 a French army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte defeated an Austrian corps led by Paul Davidovich during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The battle was fought near the town of Rovereto, in the upper Adige River valley in northern Italy.
Baron Paul Davidovich or Pavle Davidović became a general of the Austrian Empire and a Knight of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. He played a major role in the 1796 Italian campaign during the French Revolutionary Wars, leading corps-sized commands in the fighting against the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte. He led troops during the Napoleonic Wars and was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment.
In the Battle of Caldiero on 12 November 1796, the Habsburg army led by József Alvinczi fought a First French Republic army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. The French assaulted the Austrian positions, which were initially held by the army advance guard under Prince Friedrich Franz Xaver of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. The defenders held firm until reinforcements arrived in the afternoon to push back the French. This marked a rare tactical setback for Bonaparte, whose forces withdrew into Verona that evening after having suffered greater losses than their adversaries. The action occurred during the War of the First Coalition, which was part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Caldiero is a town located about 15 km (9.3 mi) east of Verona.
During the Siege of Mantua, which lasted from 4 July 1796 to 2 February 1797 with a short break, French forces under the overall command of Napoleon Bonaparte besieged and blockaded a large Austrian garrison at Mantua for many months until it surrendered. This eventual surrender, together with the heavy losses incurred during four unsuccessful relief attempts, led indirectly to the Austrians suing for peace in 1797. The siege occurred during the War of the First Coalition, which is part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Mantua, a city in the Lombardy region of Italy, lies on the Mincio River.
Jean-Baptiste Cervoni became a general officer in the French army during the French Revolutionary Wars and was killed in action in 1809 during the Napoleonic Wars.
Joseph Ocskay von Ocskó joined the army of the Habsburg Monarchy and rose to the rank of general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. He fought in numerous actions in the 1796–1797 Italian campaign against the French army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. In particular, he led a combat brigade during the first, third, and fourth Austrian attempts to relieve the Siege of Mantua.
Baron Josef Philipp Vukassovich was a Croatian soldier who joined the army of Habsburg Monarchy and fought against both Ottoman Empire and the First French Republic. During the French Revolutionary Wars, he commanded a brigade in the 1796–1797 Italian campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte. He led a division during the Napoleonic Wars and received a fatal wound in action.
Anton Lipthay de Kisfalud, also Anton Liptai or Anton Liptay, served in the Austrian army, attained general officer rank, and fought in several battles against the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte during the French Revolutionary Wars.
The Battle of Calliano on 6 and 7 November 1796 saw an Austrian corps commanded by Paul Davidovich rout a French division directed by Claude Belgrand de Vaubois. The engagement was part of the third Austrian attempt to relieve the French siege of Mantua during the French Revolutionary Wars. The battle was preceded by a clash at Cembra on 2 November and followed by actions at Rivoli Veronese on 17 and 21 November.
The Second Battle of Bassano on 6 November 1796, saw a Habsburg army commanded by József Alvinczi fight Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army of Italy. The Austrians repulsed persistent French attacks in a struggle in which both sides suffered heavy losses. The engagement, which happened two months after the more famous Battle of Bassano, marked the first tactical defeat of Bonaparte's career and occurred near Bassano del Grappa in Northern Italy during the French Revolutionary Wars. The action was part of the third relief of the Siege of Mantua during the War of the First Coalition.
Friedrich Franz Xaver Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen was an Austrian general. He joined the Austrian military and fought against the Kingdom of Prussia, Ottoman Turkey, and the First French Republic. He was promoted to the rank of general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. During the Napoleonic Wars, he led a division in 1805 and an army corps in 1809. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian cavalry regiment from 1802 to 1844.
Prince Heinrich XV of Reuss-Plauen, Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia was the fourth of six sons born into the reigning family of the Principality of Reuss. At the age of fifteen he joined the army of Habsburg Monarchy and later fought against Ottoman Turkey. During the French Revolutionary Wars he became a general officer and saw extensive service. He commanded a corps during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1801 until his death, he was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment.
Claude Dallemagne started his career in the French army under the Bourbons, fought in the American Revolutionary War, rose in rank to become a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, took part in the 1796 Italian campaign under Napoleon Bonaparte, and held military posts during the Napoleonic Wars.