The Army of the Alps (Armée des Alpes) was one of the French Revolutionary armies. It existed from 1792–1797 and from July to August 1799, and the name was also used on and off until 1939 for France's army on its border with Italy.
The Army of the Alps was created by a decree of the French Convention on 1 October 1792 which divided the Army of the Midi into the Army of the Alps and the Army of the Pyrenees. On 1 November 1793 it was itself divided into the Army of Savoy and the Army of Italy by a conseil exécutif decree.
Following the decrees of 27–29 November 1793 which brought Savoy into the First French Republic under the name of Mont-Blanc department the Army of Savoy was renamed the Army of the Alps, before having the Army before Lyon split off from it between 8 August and 29 October 1793. The Army of the Alps was suppressed by a decree of 21 August 1797 (21 Fructidor year V), put into effect on 13 September, with its men and theatre transferred to the Army of Italy.
Created on 27 July 1799, this incarnation of the Army of the Alps only lasted until 29 August 1799, when it was merged into the Army of Italy.
Army of the Alps
Army of Savoy
Army of the Alps
During the Hundred Days, Napoleon activated the Army of the Alps and placed it under the command of Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet. The force consisted on two regular infantry divisions, one cavalry division, three national guard divisions, and attached artillery. Philibert Jean-Baptiste Curial led the 10-battalion strong 23rd Infantry Division. Jean Mesclop's brigade was made up of three battalions of the 7th Line and two battalions of the 14th Line Infantry Regiment. Jean Louis Eloi Bouvard's brigade comprised three battalions of the 20th Line and two battalions of the 24th Line. Joseph Marie, Count Dessaix commanded the 24th Infantry Division with seven battalions in two brigades. Jean Montfalcon's brigade had three battalions of the 67th Line. Jean Revest's brigade included two battalions each of the 42nd Line and 53rd Line. François Jean Baptiste Quesnel led a cavalry division consisting of only one brigade. Bernard Meyer de Schauensee's brigade consisted of the 10th Chasseurs à Cheval and 18th Dragoon Regiments. The 5th, 6th, and 7th National Guard Divisions were led by Théodore Chabert, Claude Marie Pannetier, and Jean-Pierre Maransin, respectively. The artillery included six foot batteries from the 4th Artillery Regiment and one battery from the 4th Horse Artillery Regiment.
In the mid-twentieth century, the Army of the Alps defended France's southeastern frontier with Italy, manning the Alpine Line fortifications of the Maginot Line. The army's commander was General René Olry, headquartered at Valence. Its chief units were the 14th Army Corps in the Fortified Sector of the Savoy and Fortified Sector of the Dauphiné, and the 15th Army Corps in the SF Maritime Alps.
The army surrendered to German forces at the end of June 1940 in accordance with the terms of the Second Armistice at Compiègne, having repelled Italian forces in the Italian invasion of France.
On 6 June 1944 the Allies invaded Normandy, France; shortly after French Troops under Jean Lattre De Tassigny invaded the coast of Provence in south of France. Paris was liberated on by 25 August and General DeGaulle was reforming the French Military for the invasion of Germany. De Gaulle was very keen on France playing a major role in the war; as a result General Paul-André Doyen was recalled to service on 1 Feb 1945. General Doyen's first assignment was to be the Inspector General of Mountain Troops along the Franco-Italian border on 21 March 1945; it was under this command that the French 27th Alpine Division was assigned. In general the French divisions on the Franco-Italian border were grouped into the French Army of the Alps.
Since Italy invaded France in 1940, and since German troops were on the Italian side of the Franco-Italian border, De Gaulle ordered General Doyen to invade Italy. His army advanced attacking border fortification and taking back all the French territories across the Alps. In April 1945 the French marched into the Aosta Valley with the purpose of annexing it, but their advance was stopped by coordinated fascist and partisan Italian units and later on they were forced to withdrew under American threats.
The Army of the North or Armée du Nord is a name given to several historical units of the French Army. The first was one of the French Revolutionary Armies that fought with distinction against the First Coalition from 1792 to 1795. Others existed during the Peninsular War, the Hundred Days and the Franco-Prussian War.
The Army of Italy was a field army of the French Army stationed on the Italian border and used for operations in Italy itself. Though it existed in some form in the 16th century through to the present, it is best known for its role during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.
The Army of the Western Pyrenees was one of the Republican French armies of the French Revolutionary Wars. From April 1793 until 12 October 1795, the army fought in the Basque Country and in Navarre during the War of the Pyrenees. After indecisive fighting during the first year of its existence, the army seized the Spanish port of San Sebastián in August 1794. By the time the Peace of Basel was signed on 22 July 1795, the Army of the Western Pyrenees held a significant portion of northeastern Spain.
The Army of the Moselle was a French Revolutionary Army from 1791 through 1795. It was first known as the Army of the Centre and it fought at Valmy. In October 1792 it was renamed and subsequently fought at Trier, First Arlon, Biesingen, Kaiserslautern, Froeschwiller and Second Wissembourg. In the spring of 1794 the left wing was detached and fought at Second Arlon, Lambusart and Fleurus before being absorbed by the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse. In late 1794, the army captured Trier and initiated the Siege of Luxembourg. During the siege, the army was discontinued and its divisions were assigned to other armies.
The Army of the Ardennes was a French Revolutionary Army formed on the first of October 1792 by splitting off the right wing of the Army of the North, commanded from July to August that year by La Fayette. From July to September 1792 General Dumouriez also misused the name Army of the Ardennes for the right wing of what was left of the Army of the North after the split, encamped at Sedan and the name of Army of the North for the left flank of the army.
Pierre François Sauret de la Borie led a combat division under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte during the Castiglione Campaign in 1796. He enlisted in the French army as a private in 1756. During the Seven Years' War he fought at Hastenbeck and Rossbach. He became a first lieutenant in 1789 and a lieutenant colonel in 1792. Assigned to the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees, served with distinction during the War of the Pyrenees against Spain. He was promoted to general officer in 1793 and became one of three infantry division commanders in the field army. He led his division at Palau, Boulou, Collioure, Black Mountain, Roses, and Bascara. He transferred to the Army of Italy in 1795. Bonaparte called him a very good soldier, but unlucky. He retired from active military service in order to enter politics.
François Étienne de Kellermann, 2nd Duc de Valmy was a French cavalry general noted for his daring and skillful exploits during the Napoleonic Wars. He was the son of François Christophe de Kellermann and the father of the diplomat François Christophe Edmond de Kellermann.
Anne-François-Charles Trelliard or Treillard or Treilhard, born 7 February 1764 – died 14 May 1832, joined the cavalry of the French Royal Army as a cadet gentleman in 1780. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought in Germany and Holland, eventually rising in rank to become a general officer in 1799. He led a corps cavalry brigade at Austerlitz in the 1805 campaign. In the 1806-1807 campaign he fought at Saalfeld, Jena, and Pultusk.
Joseph Nikolaus Freiherr de Vins or Joseph de Wins, joined the army of Habsburg Austria and fought in the Seven Years' War where he was decorated for bravery. By 1773 he earned promotion to general officer. From 1783 he held important posts on the Military Frontier and led an independent corps in Croatia during the Austro-Turkish War. In the French Revolutionary Wars he commanded the joint forces of Austria and the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont from 1792 until 1795. Though the French were held at bay during his tenure, his slowness and poor health prevented Piedmont's lost territories from being recovered. Throughout the period much tension existed between the two allies. Ironically, the day after De Vins resigned, the French attacked and badly defeated his replacement. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment from 1784 until his death.
The Battle of Saorgio was fought from 24 to 28 April 1794 between a French First Republic army commanded by Pierre Jadart Dumerbion and the armies of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont and the Habsburg Monarchy led by Joseph Nikolaus De Vins. It was part of a successful French offensive designed to capture strategic positions in the Maritime Alps and Ligurian Alps, and on the Mediterranean coast. Tactical control of the battle was exercised by André Masséna for the French and Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi for the Coalition. Saorge is located in France, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) northeast of Nice. At the time of the battle, the town was named Saorgio and belonged to Piedmont.
Jean-Baptiste Meynier, born 22 April 1749 – died 3 December 1813, was a French soldier who served during the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolutionary Wars, and the Napoleonic Wars. Between 1792 and 1793, he rose from a captain to a general of division. During the Montenotte Campaign in 1796, he commanded a division under Napoleon Bonaparte, who had a low opinion of his military talent. In 1803 he was appointed to command the fortress of Mainz. He died there in 1813.
Pierre Dominique Garnier, born 19 December 1756 – died 11 May 1827, was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. He enlisted in the French royal army in 1773 and served in the French West Indies. At the outbreak of the French Revolution he left his career as an architect and joined the National Guard. Continuing in the army, he enjoyed rapid promotion while fighting in several theaters during the War of the First Coalition. As a general of brigade he fought at Toulon and was elevated to the rank of general of division. After fighting at Loano in late 1795, he found himself under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte for the Montenotte Campaign in April 1796. Bonaparte had little use for Garnier, however. Garnier saw action in Italy during the War of the Second Coalition in 1799 and 1800. During the Napoleonic Wars he held reserve or garrison commands and retired from the military in 1816. His surname is one of the 660 names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.
Jean-Jacques Ambert commanded a French division in several engagements during the French Revolutionary Wars. He embarked on a French ship of the line during the American Revolutionary War and saw several actions. At the start of the French Revolutionary Wars he commanded a battalion and thereafter enjoyed fast promotion. He led a division in action at Kaiserslautern in 1793, Kaiserslautern in 1794, Luxembourg, Handschusheim, and Mannheim in 1795, and Kehl in 1796. His career later suffered eclipse because of his association with two French army commanders suspected of treason. He spent much of the Napoleonic Wars commanding a Caribbean island, clearing his name, and filling interior posts. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.
Antoine Digonet commanded a French brigade during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. He joined the French Royal Army and fought in the American Revolutionary War as a foot soldier. In 1792 he was appointed officer of a volunteer battalion. He fought the Spanish in the War of the Pyrenees and was promoted to general officer. Later he was transferred to fight French royalists in the War in the Vendée. In 1800 he was assigned to the Army of the Rhine and led a brigade at Stockach, Messkirch and Biberach. Shortly after, he was transferred to Italy. In 1805 he fought under André Masséna at Caldiero. He participated in the 1806 Invasion of Naples and led his troops against the British at Maida where his brigade put up a sturdy resistance. After briefly serving in the 1809 war, he took command of Modena and died there of illness in 1811. He never married.
Paul-Alexis Dubois commanded French divisions during the War of the First Coalition and was killed in action fighting against Habsburg Austria. He enlisted in a French infantry regiment in 1770 and transferred into the cavalry in 1776. Thereafter he served in several different cavalry and infantry regiments. From sous-lieutenant in 1791, he served in the Army of the Moselle and was rapidly promoted to general of brigade by August 1793. After briefly commanding an infantry division in the Army of the Rhine at Wissembourg he switched back to the Army of the Moselle to fight at Kaiserslautern before being wounded at Froeschwiller in December 1793.
Éloi Laurent Despeaux commanded a combat infantry division during the French Revolution. He joined the French Royal Army in 1776 and became a non-commissioned officer by 1791 when he reentered civilian life. The following year he joined a volunteer battalion and fought at Jemappes. He was badly wounded at Famars in May 1793 and was appointed general of brigade in the Army of the North in September that year. After being wounded again he was promoted general of division in March 1794.
The First Battle of Saorgio saw a Republican French army commanded by Gaspard Jean-Baptiste Brunet attack the armies of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont and Habsburg Austria led by Joseph Nikolaus De Vins. The local Sardinian commander in the Maritime Alps was Charles-François Thaon, Count of Saint-André. Though the French were initially successful in this War of the First Coalition action, their main assaults against the strong defensive positions on the Massif de l'Authion and the Col de Raus failed with serious losses. Saorge is now located in France about 70 kilometres (43 mi) northeast of Nice, but in 1793 Saorgio belonged to Piedmont. In April 1794 the French seized the positions from the Austro-Sardinians in the Second Battle of Saorgio.
The Battle of Epierre was part of a larger War of the First Coalition campaign that pitted a Republican French army led by François Christophe de Kellermann against a numerically stronger Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont army commanded by the Prince Maurizio, Duke of Montferrat. Under the overall leadership of the Austrian commander in chief Joseph Nikolaus De Vins, Montferrat launched an offensive in mid-August 1793 to recapture the Duchy of Savoy from the French. Because the French were preoccupied with the Siege of Lyon, the Piedmontese recovered most of the Maurienne and Tarentaise Valleys, but they were stopped just short of Albertville and the reconquest of Savoy. In September, Kellermann launched a counteroffensive in which he adroitly switched his troops between valleys in order to drive back the Piedmontese. At Épierre, the French under Jean-Denis Le Doyen defeated the Marquis of Cordon in a local action. By 8 October the Piedmontese abandoned all their gains and withdrew to the crests of the Graian Alps. In spite of his victory, the suspicious politicians in Paris put Kellermann in arrest and he was imprisoned until November 1794.
Pierre Margaron led the French cavalry at the Battle of Vimeiro in 1808. He joined a volunteer battalion in 1792. He rose in rank during the French Revolutionary Wars until he commanded a heavy cavalry regiment in 1798. He led his horsemen at the Trebbia, Novi and Genola in 1799 and Pozzolo and San Massimo in 1800. He became a general of brigade in 1803 and led a corps light cavalry brigade at Austerlitz, Jena and Lübeck. He participated in the 1807 invasion of Portugal and fought at Évora and Vimeiro. From 1810 to 1812 he held a post in the interior. He became a general of division in 1813 and led troops at the Battle of Leipzig. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 2.
The 99th Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the French Army. It was formed in 1791 by renaming the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment and fought in the French Revolutionary Wars before being merged into another unit in 1803. A new and unrelated 99th Infantry Regiment was formed in 1855 and took on the traditions of the previous regiment.