Battle of Arcole

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Battle of Arcole
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
La Bataille du Pont d'Arcole.jpg
Napoleon Bonaparte leading his troops over the bridge of Arcole, by Horace Vernet.
Date15 November 1796 (1796-11-15)
17 November 1796 (1796-11-17)
Arcole, present-day Italy

Coordinates: 45°21′N11°17′E / 45.350°N 11.283°E / 45.350; 11.283
Result French victory [1]
Flag of France.svg France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Habsburg Monarchy
Commanders and leaders
Napoleon Bonaparte József Alvinczi
20,000 [2] 24,000
Casualties and losses
3,500 killed or wounded
1,300 captured or missing
2,200 killed or wounded
4,000 captured
11 guns captured

The Battle of Arcole or Battle of Arcola (15–17 November 1796) 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.

Verona Comune in Veneto, Italy

Verona is a city on the Adige river in Veneto, Italy, with 258,108 inhabitants. It is one of the seven provincial capitals of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third largest in northeast Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona covers an area of 1,426 km2 (550.58 sq mi) and has a population of 714,274 inhabitants. It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, because of its artistic heritage and several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheater built by the Romans.

War of the First Coalition effort to contain Revolutionary France

The War of the First Coalition is the traditional name of the wars that several European powers fought between 1792 and 1797 against the French First Republic. Despite the collective strength of these nations compared with France, they were not really allied and fought without much apparent coordination or agreement. Each power had its eye on a different part of France it wanted to appropriate after a French defeat, which never occurred.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted the French Republic against Great Britain, Austria and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.


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.

Army of Italy (France) field army of the French Revolutionary Army

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.

József Alvinczi Soldier in the Habsburg Army and a Field Marshal of the Austrian Empire

Freiherr Joseph Alvinczi von Borberek a.k.a. Baron József Alvinczi de Borberek was a soldier in the Habsburg Army and a Field Marshal of the Austrian Empire.

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.

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.

Adige river in Northern Italy

The Adige is the second longest river in Italy after the Po, rising in the Alps in the province of South Tyrol near the Italian border with Austria and Switzerland, flowing 410 kilometres (250 mi) through most of North-East Italy to the Adriatic Sea.

Mantua Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the province of the same name.

Davidovich scored a victory against Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois at Calliano and threatened Verona from the north. Meanwhile, Alvinczi repulsed one attack by Bonaparte at Bassano and advanced almost to the gates of Verona where he defeated a second French attack at Caldiero. Leaving Vaubois' battered division to contain Davidovich, Bonaparte massed every available man and tried to turn Alvinczi's left flank by crossing the Adige. For two days the French assaulted the stoutly defended Austrian position at Arcole without success. Their persistent attacks finally forced Alvinczi to withdraw on the third day.

Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois French general

Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. On 20 August 1808 he was created Comte de Belgrand de Vaubois. Later, his name was inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

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 Austrian army commanded by Jozsef 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.

That day Davidovich routed Vaubois, but it was too late. Bonaparte's victory at Arcole permitted him to concentrate against Davidovich and chase him up the Adige valley. Left alone, Alvinczi threatened Verona again. But without his colleague's support, the Austrian commander was too weak to continue the campaign and he withdrew again. Wurmser attempted a breakout, but his effort came too late in the campaign and had no effect on the result. The third relief attempt failed by the narrowest of margins.


See Arcola 1796 Campaign Order of Battle for a detailed list of French and Austrian units.


The second relief attempt of the Siege of Mantua ended badly for Austria when General Napoleon Bonaparte routed Feldmarschall Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser's army at the Battle of Bassano. In the sequel, Wurmser marched for Mantua, evading French attempts to cut him off. He reached there with 16,000 soldiers on 12 September 1796, but was defeated and driven into the fortress by the French on the 15th. With Wurmser's Austrians and the original garrison crowded into the encircled city, disease and hunger began exacting a serious toll on the garrison. [3]

Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser austrian marshall

Dagobert Sigismund, Count von Wurmser was an Austrian field marshal during the French Revolutionary Wars. Although he fought in the Seven Years' War, the War of the Bavarian Succession, and mounted several successful campaigns in the Rhineland in the initial years of the French Revolutionary Wars, he is probably most remembered for his unsuccessful operations against Napoleon Bonaparte during the 1796 campaign in Italy.

Battle of Bassano battle

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.

Emperor Francis II of Austria appointed Feldzeugmeister József Alvinczi to lead a reconstituted field army in the third attempt to relieve Mantua. Alvinczi, Feldmarschall-Leutnant Paul Davidovich, General-major Johann Rudolf Sporck, and Major Franz von Weyrother drew up plans for a two-pronged offensive. The Friaul Corps was assigned to Feldmarschall-Leutnant Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich and directed to move west toward Verona. The Tyrol Corps was entrusted to Davidovich and ordered to advance south from the Alps to join Quosdanovich. Wurmser would break out from Mantua and attack the French field armies in the rear. [4]

Franz von Weyrother Austrian general

Franz von Weyrother was an Austrian staff officer and general who fought during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He drew up the plans for the disastrous defeats at the Battle of Rivoli, Battle of Hohenlinden and the Battle of Austerlitz, in which the Austrian army was defeated by Napoleon Bonaparte twice and Jean Moreau once.

Friuli Historical region in Italy

Friuli is an area of Northeast Italy with its own particular cultural and historical identity containing 600,000 Friulians. It comprises the major part of the autonomous region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, i.e. the administrative provinces of Udine, Pordenone, and Gorizia, excluding Trieste.

Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich Austrian Empire general

Peter Vitus Freiherr von Quosdanovich was a Croatian nobleman and general of the Habsburg Monarchy. He achieved the rank of Feldmarschall-Lieutenant and was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. He played a major role in several battles against the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Siege of Mantua Campaign Map shows towns, major rivers, and mountainous terrain Siege of Mantua Campaign Map 1796 1797.JPG
Siege of Mantua Campaign Map shows towns, major rivers, and mountainous terrain

Quosdanovich's 26,432-strong Friaul Corps was accompanied by Alvinczi as it moved west on Mantua from the Piave River. This force was formed into a 4,397-man Advance Guard under General-major Friedrich Franz Xaver Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen, a 4,376-strong Reserve led by General-major Philipp Pittoni von Dannenfeld, and a Main corps supervised by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Giovanni Marchese di Provera. This last unit was subdivided into a 9,380-man First line consisting of the brigades of Generals-major Gerhard Rosselmini and Anton Lipthay de Kisfalud and an 8,279-strong Second line composed of brigades led by Generals-major Anton Schübirz von Chobinin and Adolf Brabeck. There were 54 line and 20 reserve artillery pieces with the Friaul Corps. [5]

On 1 November 1796, Davidovich's Tyrol Corps numbered 18,427 infantry and 1,049 cavalry. The corps was split into six brigade-size columns under Generals-major Johann Loudon, Joseph Ocskay von Ocsko, Sporck, and Josef Philipp Vukassovich and Colonel Seulen. Loudon commanded 3,915 infantry and 362 cavalry in Column 1, Ocskay led 4,200-foot soldiers and 463 horsemen in Column 2, Spork directed 2,560 infantry in Column 3, Vukassovich supervised both Column 4 with 3,772-foot and 30 horse and Column 5 with 2,958-foot and 120 horse, and Seulen led 1,022 infantry and 74 cavalry in Column 6. [6] The Tyrol Corps counted 40 line and 20 reserve guns. [7]

Wurmser commanded 23,708 soldiers within Mantua. However, only 12,420 were reported as capable of taking the field. [8] In addition, General-major Anton Ferdinand Mittrowsky's brigade occupied the upper Brenta River, connecting the wings under Davidovich and Quosdanovich. [6] Mittrowsky commanded about 3,000 men. [9]

Bonaparte deployed a 10,500-man division under General of Division Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois at Lavis to watch Davidovich. At Bassano, General of Division André Masséna's 9,540 soldiers defended the line of the Brenta River. The 8,340 troops of General of Division Pierre Augereau covered the Adige River. General of Division Charles Edward Jennings de Kilmaine with 8,830 soldiers blockaded Wurmser's large garrison in Mantua. General of Division François Macquard's 2,750-man infantry reserve was posted at Villafranca di Verona while General of Division Thomas-Alexandre Dumas with 1,600 troopers of the cavalry reserve was stationed at Verona. [8]

Napoleon at the Bridge of Arcole , by Antoine-Jean Gros, (1797), Chateau de Versailles. 1801 Antoine-Jean Gros - Bonaparte on the Bridge at Arcole.jpg
Napoleon at the Bridge of Arcole , by Antoine-Jean Gros, (1797), Château de Versailles.

The Austrians went to a lot of trouble to conceal the strength of Davidovich's corps from their enemies. The ruse was so successful that Bonaparte ordered Vaubois to advance and defeat his opponent so that he could shift 3,000 troops to help fight Alvinczi. [10] On 2 November, Vaubois attacked Davidovich near Cembra, inflicting 1,116 casualties before retiring. Though the French suffered only 650 killed and wounded, this included 280 soldiers of the 85th Line Infantry Demi Brigade. This loss seems to have seriously damaged the unit's morale. The next day, Vaubois pulled back to Calliano. [11]

On 1 November, the Friaul Corps began crossing the Piave. [8] Bonaparte elected to attack the Austrians on the Brenta and called Augereau and Macquard east to join Masséna. In the Second Battle of Bassano on 6 November, the Austrians held off Bonaparte's attacks. French losses numbered 3,000 killed, wounded, and missing, plus an additional 508 men and one howitzer captured. In this hard-fought engagement, the Austrians lost 534 killed, 1,731 wounded, and 558 captured for a total of 2,823 casualties. Bonaparte quickly pulled back to Verona. [12]

Davidovich attacked Vaubois at the Battle of Calliano on 6 November but was repulsed after hard fighting. He renewed his assault at daybreak on the 7th. After holding out all day, French morale collapsed in the late afternoon and Vaubois' men fled the battlefield in a panic. [13] Between 2 and 7 November, Vaubois' division suffered 4,400 killed, wounded, and missing and lost six artillery pieces. The Austrians also lost heavily, with 2,000 killed and wounded plus a further 1,500 taken prisoner. [14] In a public announcement, Bonaparte vented his fury at the poor performance of the 39th and 85th Line Infantry Demi Brigades. [15]

Poor communications plagued the Austrian commanders throughout the campaign. This was a consequence of the wide separation between the two wings. Furthermore, many of Alvinczi's men were indifferently equipped raw recruits who straggled badly. The Austrians also suffered from a serious shortage of officers. [16] After Alvinczi sent him a mistaken report that Masséna was reinforcing Vaubois, Davidovich became very cautious. The report was sent on 9 November but only reached its recipient on the 11th, which was typical of the Austrian communications problems. Alvinczi also repeatedly urged Davidovich to speed up his march toward Verona. [17]

Alvinczi's advance guard under GM Friedrich of Hohenzollern-Hechingen pressed toward Verona. Near that city, he encountered Masséna on 11 November and was forced to pull back after losing 400 men in a sharp combat. In a sleet storm on the 12th, Hohenzollern fought off the attacks of Masséna and Augereau in the Battle of Caldiero. When reinforcements under Brabeck, Schübirz, and Provera arrived later in the day, Bonaparte called off the futile attacks and drew his troops back within the walls of Verona. The Austrians reported losses of 1,244 officers and men. [18] French losses were estimated at 1,000 killed and wounded, plus an additional 800 men and two guns captured. [19]


Bonaparte's maneuver from Verona to Ronco, 14-15 November 1796 Arcole 1796 Campaign Map.jpg
Bonaparte's maneuver from Verona to Ronco, 14–15 November 1796

After three sharp defeats, even Bonaparte "became very despondent about his chances of survival." [20] He deployed Macquard and 3,000 men to hold Verona. [21] A slightly reinforced Vaubois clung to a strong position with about 8,000 troops, keeping Davidovich's 14,000 soldiers bottled up in the Adige valley. To blockade Wurmser's garrison within Mantua, Kilmaine could count only 6,626 men after providing reinforcements to other commands. This left Bonaparte a field force consisting of Masséna's 7,937, Augereau's 6,000, a reserve of 2,600 infantry plus cavalry, for a total of 18,000 soldiers. By this time, Alvinczi's main force numbered about 23,000 men. [9] Historian David G. Chandler wrote,

Like a juggler keeping three balls in the air at once, Bonaparte had to balance the dangers of the three sectors against each other, keeping them in clear relative perspective. Although he had singled out Alvinczi as his main target, it was only too clear that an aggressive move on the part of Davidovich or even by Wurmser might compel the French to abandon their operations against the main Austrian army and move every available man to reinforce the threatened area. Defeat on any sector could well spell catastrophe and the destruction of the Army of Italy. [22]

Unknown to the French, Alvinczi planned to throw a pontoon bridge across the Adige below Verona at Zevio on 15 November at nightfall. [9] Meanwhile, Bonaparte determined on an audacious strategy. He force-marched Masséna and Augereau along the west bank of the Adige to a bridging site at Ronco all'Adige, behind Alvinczi's left flank. Once he moved his army across the river, he planned to move north to cut the Austrian line of retreat and seize the enemy's trains and artillery park. [23]

On the far bank was an area of marshy land that troops could not penetrate, which meant that all movement was limited to the causeways or dikes on the banks of the river Adige, and the causeways on the banks of a small tributary called the Alpone River that flowed into it from the north. The Alpone was only 20 yards (18 m) wide and 5 feet (1.5 m) deep. [24] In the difficult terrain, the French soldiers might have an advantage. Further, the Austrians would not be able to use their superior numbers in the restricted battlefield. [22]

From Ronco, the north-bound road followed a dike for about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to a bridge, on the east side of which was the village of Arcole. From there, the road continued going north on the east bank of the stream to San Bonifacio near the main highway. The dikes along the Alpone near Arcole were "26 feet high, and had very steep faces." Another road followed a dike from Ronco northwest to Belfiore and on to Caldiero. [24]


First day

This engraving shows Bonaparte crossing the Arcole bridge. Actually the incident occurred about 55 paces short of the span. Napoleon at Arcole.jpg
This engraving shows Bonaparte crossing the Arcole bridge. Actually the incident occurred about 55 paces short of the span.

By dawn on 15 November, Bonaparte's troops reached the intended crossing, and soon afterward Chef de brigade (Colonel) Antoine-François Andréossy's engineers had a pontoon bridge in operation. Augereau's division crossed first and headed east and north toward Arcole. Masséna's soldiers followed and, to cover the left flank, took a causeway leading north and west toward Belfiore di Porcile. [21]

Alvinczi posted Oberst (Colonel) Wenzel Brigido's four battalions in the area; of these, two battalions and two cannons defended Arcole. These troops repulsed Augereau's leading demi-brigade under General of Brigade Louis André Bon. Before long, most of the French soldiers were lying in the lee of the causeway to shelter from the searing fire. Brigido pulled every available man into the combat. Augereau threw in demi-brigades led by Generals of Brigade Jean-Antoine Verdier and Pierre Verne. At mid-day, Austrian reinforcements led by General-Major Anton Ferdinand Mittrowsky began arriving to help the defenders. Soon, Bon, Verdier, Verne and General of Brigade Jean Lannes were all wounded and the attack completely stalled. [25]

On the western flank, Alvinczi sent the brigades of Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) Alois von Gavasini and General-Major Adolf Brabeck to seize the French pontoon bridge. They collided with Masséna near Bionde, midway between Belfiore and Ronco. Initially successful, the Austrians were soon driven back beyond Belfiore after Brabeck's troops accidentally fired on Gavasini's men, causing a panic. [26] Once they reached Belfiore, the French watched as the Austrian trains rolled east on the main highway, out of their reach. [27]

Attempting to break the stalemate near Arcole, Bonaparte ordered General of Brigade Jean Joseph Guieu with two demi-brigades to boat across the Adige below its confluence with the Alpone at Albaredo d'Adige. He also sent a French battalion across the Alpone by boat near its mouth. The latter unit fought its way north along the east bank dike. [28]

Trying to inspire his men to attack, Bonaparte grabbed a flag and stood in the open on the dike "about 55 paces" from the bridge. He remained miraculously untouched, but several members of his staff were hit by the intense fire and his aide-de-camp, Jean-Baptiste Muiron, was killed. [29] An unknown officer dragged Bonaparte out of the line of fire and the commanding general ended up in the muddy ditch. [27]

Adding to the confusion, the Austrians launched a sortie from Arcole and defeated the French battalion on the east bank. In the evening, Guieu crossed at Albaredo and eventually managed to flush the Austrian defenders out of Arcole. At midnight, worried that Davidovich was about to fall upon his rear, Bonaparte withdrew Guieu from Arcole and pulled most of his troops back across the Adige. He left a garrison on the Austrian side of the river to hold his bridgehead. [30]

Second day

Alvinczi left Hohenzollern's troops near Verona to guard against an attack from that city. The Austrian leader ordered Provera with six battalions to attack from Belfiore. Alvinczi reinforced Mittrowsky to a total of 14 battalions, including the brigades of Schübirz and Oberst Franz Sticker, and instructed him to advance south from Arcole. The two forces would march at dawn on 16 November and converge on the French bridgehead. Alvinczi sent two battalions to guard Albaredo against a repetition of Guieu's attack. [31]

Provera's effort came to grief when he ran into Masséna. Brabeck was killed during the encounter and the Austrians were chased back to Belfiore with the loss of five cannons. During the morning, Mittrowsky and Augereau engaged in a see-saw battle that ended when the Austrians fell back to Arcole. [32]

Mittrowsky positioned Sticker's four battalions on the western dike, lined the eastern dike with four battalions under Brigido, and packed the rest of his troops into Arcole. These intelligent dispositions blocked Bonaparte's repeated attempts to seize the village during the day. French attempts to cross the Adige at Albaredo and the Alpone near its mouth both failed. At nightfall, Bonaparte withdrew Masséna and Augereau toward the bridgehead, but sizable forces stayed on the Austrian side of the Adige. [33]

The former slave Joseph Hercule Domingue, French cavalry lieutenant, was promoted to captain and given a ceremonial sword by Bonaparte for his actions in executing a surprise attack on the Austrian cavalry on this day of the battle. [34]

Third day

On 17 November, Alvinczi withdrew Hohenzollern to Caldiero, closer to his main body. [33] Again, Provera held Belfiore while Mittrowsky defended Arcole. During the night, Bonaparte's engineers floated some pontoons into the Alpone where they built a bridge near its mouth. Augereau's division crossed the bridge and began fighting its way along the eastern dike. A French battalion and some cavalry also set out from Legnago and joined Augereau later in the day. Meanwhile, two of Masséna's demi-brigades led by General of Brigade Jean Gilles André Robert attacked along the western dike. [35]

By early afternoon, Masséna drubbed Provera near Belfiore again. Alvinczi recalled both Provera and Hohenzollern toward the east and began feeding some of the latter's troops into the combat at Arcole. There, the battle went back and forth all day. At 3:00 PM, a large column of Austrian reinforcements surged out of Arcole and drove back the troops under Robert. Augereau's men on the east bank saw this development and also fell back. By 4:00 PM, Augereau's rattled division pulled back across the pontoon bridge to the west bank. [36]

Just when the day seemed lost, Masséna appeared with reinforcements from the western flank. With these, he ambushed the Austrians on the western dike and sent them reeling back toward Arcole. Heartened, Augereau's men recrossed to the east bank of the Alpone and renewed the fight. Masséna and Augereau finally battled their way into Arcole around 5:00 PM. A lieutenant and 25 Guides aided the final attack by riding into the Austrian rear area and blowing several bugles to create the impression of a large force. The French followed up their success by advancing north and threatening to block the main east-west highway. Alvinczi threw in Schübirz's brigade to hold off the French, and this allowed Provera's division to escape to the east. [37]


French losses at Arcole numbered 3,500 dead and wounded, plus 1,300 captured or missing. The Austrians suffered only 2,200 dead and wounded, but lost 4,000 men and 11 guns to capture. [38] On the French side, General Jean Gilles André Robert was mortally wounded, [39] while Austrian General-Major Gerhard Rosselmini died in Vicenza on 19 November. [40]

On 17 November, Davidovich finally attacked Vaubois at Rivoli. Ocskay's brigade from Monte Baldo met Vukassovich's brigade from the Adige gorge, and together they drove the French soldiers steadily back. After resisting all morning the French troops stampeded in the afternoon. Again, the 85th Line was among the first units to panic. [41] The French lost 800 killed and wounded, plus 1,000 captured including Generals of Brigade Pascal Antoine Fiorella and Antoine Valette. Austrian casualties were 600. [42] Vaubois pulled back toward Peschiera del Garda while Davidovich pursued as far as Castelnuovo del Garda. Bonaparte sent his cavalry to watch Alvinczi's retreat, while turning the bulk of his forces toward Davidovich. [43]

On 19 November, Davidovich heard of the Austrian defeat at Arcole and detected signs that Bonaparte was about to fall upon him in full force. The Austrian pulled back to Rivoli on the 20th and began to fall back farther the next morning. At this moment, he received an encouraging note from Alvinczi and halted his retreat. But the French caught up with him at Rivoli. [43] In the ensuing clash, the French suffered 200 casualties while inflicting losses of 250 killed and wounded. An additional 600 Austrians, three guns and a bridging train fell into French hands. [44] Davidovich hastily fell back north. Altogether, Davidovich's retreat from Rivoli cost him as many as 1,500 men and nine guns. [45]

After Arcole, Alvinczi pulled back to Olmo where he held a council of war on the morning of 18 November. At this meeting, the Austrian generals gamely decided to return to the field with their 16,000 remaining troops. [46] By 21 November, Alvinczi occupied Caldiero again but could go no farther. While there, he heard of Davidovich's defeat on 23 November. That evening the Austrian field army began its retreat to the Brenta. [43]

During the three days that the battle of Arcole raged, cannon fire could be heard in Mantua. Observers in the fortress even noticed that some of the French camps seemed to be empty, yet Wurmser unaccountably failed to act. [41] On 23 November, Wurmser assaulted the siege lines, capturing 200 Frenchmen and demolishing some earthworks. The Austrians suffered almost 800 casualties. When he learned that Davidovich was in full retreat, Wurmser withdrew into the city. [43]

In November 1796, the French seized Venice and two 44-gun frigates that were being built in the shipyard. One of the warships was named the Muiron in honor of Bonaparte's aide who was killed at his side on 15 November. When Bonaparte returned from Egypt in 1799, he escaped to France on the Muiron. [47]


  1. James Harvey Robinson and Charles A. Beard, The Development of Modern Europe: An Introduction to the Study of Current History, vol. 1 (Boston: Ginn & Company, 1907), 290,
  2. Rothenberg, Art of War, p 248. Rothenberg gives all strengths and losses.
  3. Chandler (2001), 98–99
  4. Boycott-Brown (2001), 440
  5. Boycott-Brown (2001), 444–445
  6. 1 2 Boycott-Brown (2001), 447
  7. Boycott-Brown (2001), 445
  8. 1 2 3 Boycott-Brown (2001), 448
  9. 1 2 3 Boycott-Brown (2001), 458
  10. Chandler (1966), 101
  11. Boycott-Brown (2001), 449
  12. Smith (1998), 126
  13. Boycott-Brown (2001), 452–453
  14. Smith (1998), 126–127
  15. Boycott-Brown (2001), 454
  16. Boycott-Brown (2001), 449–450
  17. Boycott-Brown (2001), 455
  18. Boycott-Brown (2001), 456
  19. Smith (1998), 127
  20. Chandler (1966), 103
  21. 1 2 Chandler (1966), 106
  22. 1 2 Chandler (1966), 105
  23. Boycott-Brown (2001), 459
  24. 1 2 Boycott-Brown (2001), 460
  25. Boycott-Brown (2001), 462–463
  26. Boycott-Brown (2001), 463–464
  27. 1 2 Chandler (1966), 108
  28. Boycott-Brown (2001), 464
  29. Boycott-Brown (2001), 465
  30. Boycott-Brown (2001), 466
  31. Boycott-Brown (2001), 467–468
  32. Boycott-Brown (2001), 468
  33. 1 2 Boycott-Brown, p 468-470
  34. Érick Noël, ed. Dictionnaire des gens de couleur dans la France moderne: Paris et son Bassin (Paris: Droz, 2011), 344–345.
  35. Boycott-Brown (2001), 472
  36. Boycott-Brown (2001), 474
  37. Boycott-Brown (2001), 474–475
  38. Rothenberg (1980), 248
  39. Schom (1997), 55
  40. Smith-Kudrna, "Rosselmini"
  41. 1 2 Boycott-Brown (2001), 471
  42. Smith (1998), 127–128
  43. 1 2 3 4 Boycott-Brown (2001), 477
  44. Smith (1998), 128
  45. Chandler (1966), 112
  46. Boycott-Brown (2001), 476
  47. Martin (2005), "1797 Le frégate la Muiron"

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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 French occupation of northern Italy.

Battle of Castiglione battle of 1796 during the French Revolutionay Wars

The Battle of Castiglione saw the French Army of Italy under General Napoleon Bonaparte attack an army of Habsburg Austria 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.

Battle of Rovereto battle

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.

Battle of Lonato

The Battle of Lonato was fought on 3 and 4 August 1796 between the French Army of Italy under General Napoleon Bonaparte and a corps-sized Austrian column led by Lieutenant General Peter Quasdanovich. A week of hard-fought actions that began on 29 July and ended on 4 August resulted in the retreat of Quasdanovich's badly mauled force. The elimination of Quasdanovich's threat allowed Bonaparte to concentrate against and defeat the main Austrian army at the Battle of Castiglione on 5 August. Lonato del Garda is located near the SP 668 highway and the Brescia-Padua section of Autostrada A4 to the southwest of Lake Garda.

Giovanni Marchese di Provera, or Johann Provera, born c. 1736 – died 5 July 1804, served in the Austrian army in Italy during the French Revolutionary Wars. Provera played a significant role in three campaigns against General Napoleon Bonaparte during the Italian Campaign of 1796.

In the Battle of Caldiero on 12 November 1796, a Habsburg Austrian army led by Jozsef 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.

Siege of Mantua (1796–97) siege

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.

Adam Bajalics von Bajaháza, also Adam Bajalić von Bajaházy or Adam Bayalitsch, entered Austrian military service and fought against Prussia, Ottoman Turkey, and France. During the 1796–1797 Italian campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte, he commanded a brigade or a division in several actions.

In the Battle of Arcole on 15 to 17 November 1796, the French Army of Italy commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte won a victory over the army of Austria led by Jozsef Alvinczi. The battle was part the third relief of the Siege of Mantua in which Alvinczi's army repulsed Bonaparte at the Second Battle of Bassano on 6 November and at the Battle of Caldiero on 12 November. Meanwhile, Paul Davidovich's Austrian Tyrol Corps clashed with Claude Vaubois' French division at Cembra on 2 November. Davidovich defeated Vaubois at the Battle of Calliano on 6–7 November and Rivoli Veronese on 17 November. After Bonaparte's triumph at Arcola, he turned on the Tyrol Corps, beat it at Rivoli on 21 November, and forced it to retreat north into the mountains.

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.

In the Battle of Rivoli on 14 and 15 January 1797, the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon Bonaparte crushed the main Austrian army led by Jozsef Alvinczi. The battle occurred during the fourth Austrian attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. After crippling Alvinczi's army on the 14th, Bonaparte left Barthélemy Joubert and Gabriel Rey to finish off the Austrians and raced south with André Masséna to deal with a relief column led by Giovanni di Provera. On 16 January, Masséna, Pierre Augereau, and Jean Sérurier trapped Provera near the Mantua siege lines and forced his surrender.

In the Battle of Bassano on 8 September 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte and his French Army of Italy routed an Austrian army led by Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser. Afterward, Wurmser gathered the intact parts of his army and marched for Mantua. On 15 September, the French defeated the Austrians and drove them into the fortress. This raised the numbers of the underfed and malaria-ridden garrison to nearly 30,000 men. These actions and the Battle of Rovereto occurred during the second attempted relief of the Siege of Mantua.

Anton Ferdinand Count Mittrowsky von Mittrowitz und Nemyšl, or Anton Mittrovsky, served in the Austrian army for many years. He was promoted to general officer in the spring of 1796, just in time to lead a brigade against Napoleon Bonaparte during the 1796-1797 Italian Campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars. He played a pivotal role in the Battle of Arcole, nearly defeating Bonaparte. He fought in Italy again in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars and became the Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment from 1806 until his death three years later.

Alois Graf von Gavasini led a combat brigade in the armies of Habsburg Austria and the Austrian Empire during a remarkable number of battles in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. A native of Bonn, he offered his services to Austria and won an award for bravery in 1790. While a field officer in the Italian campaign, he led the rear guard at Primolano in September 1796. Badly outnumbered by the French, he and his soldiers put up a vigorous fight until he was wounded and captured. At Arcole in November 1796, he commanded a brigade on the field of battle against Napoleon Bonaparte's French army. Promoted to general officer in the spring of 1800, he led a powerful brigade at Hohenlinden during that year's fall campaign in Bavaria. Though the battle ended in a decisive defeat, Gavasini's troops fought well before being forced to retreat. The 1805 campaign in Italy found him directing a reserve brigade at Caldiero. After briefly retiring, the warrior returned to lead a brigade at the battles of Sacile, Piave River, and Graz during the 1809 war. That year he retired from the army and did not return.

Anton Schübirz or Anton Schubirz von Chobinin fought for Habsburg Austria against Ottoman Turkey and the French First Republic. He participated in several noteworthy actions during the French Revolutionary Wars. As a newly promoted general officer in Italy, he led a brigade in an all-night action against the French at Codogno, part of the Battle of Fombio in May 1796. In the sparring before the Battle of Castiglione, he showed initiative in bringing his troops to the assistance of a fellow general. He also fought at Fontaniva, Caldiero, and Arcole in the autumn of 1796. This was the theater of war where a young French general named Napoleon Bonaparte earned his fame. Schübirz retired from the army in 1798 and died three years later.

Philipp Pittoni Freiherr von Dannenfeld, fought in the army of Habsburg Austria during the French Revolutionary Wars. Promoted to general officer in 1795, he was a brigade commander in northwestern Italy at the time when Napoleon Bonaparte was appointed to lead the opposing French Army of Italy. He led one of the two main columns at Voltri in April 1796. At Borghetto in May, he unsuccessfully defended the bridge. He led a brigade at Castiglione in August and at Second Bassano and Arcole in November 1796. He retired from service the following year and died at Gorizia in 1824.


Further reading