|Battle of Bassignana (1799)|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|617||992–2,000, 2–4 guns|
The Battle of Bassignana (12 May 1799) saw an Imperial Russian corps led by Andrei Grigorevich Rosenberg attempt to establish a bridgehead on the south bank of the Po River in the presence of a Republican French army under Jean Victor Marie Moreau. The French rapidly massed superior strength and attacked. After several hours of hard fighting, the Russians abandoned their foothold with serious losses. This War of the Second Coalition action occurred near the town of Bassignana, located in the angle between the Po and Tanaro Rivers, about 19 kilometres (12 mi) northeast of Alessandria, Italy.
The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.
The Po is a river that flows eastward across northern Italy. The Po flows either 652 km (405 mi) or 682 km (424 mi) – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary. The headwaters of the Po are a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face of Monviso. The Po ends at a delta projecting into the Adriatic Sea near Venice. It has a drainage area of 74,000 km² in all, 70,000 in Italy, of which 41,000 is in montane environments and 29,000 on the plain. The Po is the longest river in Italy; at its widest point its width is 503 m (1,650 ft). The Po extends along the 45th parallel north.
Jean Victor Marie Moreau was a French general who helped Napoleon Bonaparte to power, but later became a rival and was banished to the United States.
A string of Austrian and Russian victories in the spring of 1799 evicted the French armies from north and northeast Italy. The leader of the combined Austro-Russian armies, Alexander Suvorov prepared to drive the French armies from the rest of Italy. Suvorov ordered his lieutenant Rosenberg to join him on the south bank of the Po below its confluence with the Tanaro. Probably overruled by the Tsar's son Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia, Rosenberg unwisely crossed above the confluence with the Tanaro. Two of Moreau's divisions under Paul Grenier and Claude Victor-Perrin soon counterattacked and defeated the Russians. The Bassignana action was only a minor setback for the Allies. A few days later, Moreau launched a reconnaissance that resulted in the First Battle of Marengo.
Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov was a Russian military leader, considered a national hero. He was the Count of Rymnik, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince of Italy, and the last Generalissimo of the Russian Empire.
Paul Grenier joined the French royal army and rapidly rose to general officer rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division in the 1796-1797 campaign in southern Germany. During the 1800 campaign in the Electorate of Bavaria he was a wing commander. Beginning in 1809, in the Napoleonic Wars, Emperor Napoleon I entrusted him with corps commands in the Italian theater. A skilled tactician, he was one of the veteran generals who made the Napoleonic armies such a formidable foe to the other European powers. After the Bourbon Restoration he retired from the army and later went into politics. Grenier is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.
The First Battle of Marengo or Battle of San Giuliano saw Republican French soldiers under General of Division Jean Victor Marie Moreau launch a reconnaissance in force against a larger force of Habsburg Austrian and Imperial Russian troops led by Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov. The French enjoyed initial success, pressing back their opponents. However, large Austrian and Russian reinforcements soon arrived, causing the French to withdraw into Alessandria. This War of the Second Coalition action occurred near the town of Spinetta Marengo, located just east of Alessandria in northwest Italy.
The beginning of the 1799 campaign saw the drawn Battle of Verona on 26 March between the Austrian army of Paul Kray and the French Army of Italy under Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer.On 5 April, Kray with 46,000 troops defeated Schérer with 40,600 men in the Battle of Magnano. The Austrians sustained losses of 4,000 killed and wounded plus 2,000 captured. The French lost 3,500 killed and wounded plus 18 guns, seven colors, and 4,500 men captured. The badly shaken Schérer added 6,600 men to the garrison of Mantua and began to retreat. The Siege of Mantua lasted until the end of July, but other smaller garrisons that Schérer left behind were quickly forced to surrender. After subtracting garrisons and battle losses, the Army of Italy had only 28,000 available. From the army commander down to the rank and file, the French were utterly demoralized. To make matters worse for the French, Alexander Suvorov arrived with 24,551 Russian soldiers and assumed command of the combined Austro-Russian army.
Battle of Verona on 26 March 1799 saw a Habsburg Austrian army under Pál Kray fight a First French Republic army led by Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer. The battle encompassed three separate combats on the same day. At Verona, the two sides battled to a bloody draw. At Pastrengo to the west of Verona, French forces prevailed over their Austrian opponents. At Legnago to the southeast of Verona, the Austrians defeated their French adversaries. The battle was fought during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Verona is a city on the Adige River in northern Italy.
Baron Paul Kray of Krajova and Topolya, was a soldier, and general in Habsburg service during the Seven Years' War, the War of Bavarian Succession, the Austro–Turkish War (1787–1791), and the French Revolutionary Wars. He was born in Késmárk, Upper Hungary.
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.
Schérer's resignation was accepted by the French government and he handed over command of the army to Jean Victor Marie Moreau on 26 April 1799. The next day, Suvorov attacked and won the Battle of Cassano. Moreau admitted sustaining 2,542 casualties and was compelled to retreat. Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier and 2,400 men of his division were cut off and compelled to surrender that evening.Moreau with Paul Grenier's division retreated west all the way to Turin, then crossed to the south bank of the Po River and marched east again. Claude Perrin Victor's division crossed the Po at Casale Monferrato and took position near the fortress city of Alessandria. When Grenier joined Victor there on 7 May, Moreau had a field army of 20,000 troops. Its right flank was buttressed by Alessandria while its left flank was at Valenza.
The Battle of Cassano d'Adda was fought on 27 April 1799 near Cassano d'Adda, about 28 km (17 mi) ENE of Milan. It resulted in a victory for the Austrians and Russians under Alexander Suvorov over Jean Moreau's French army. The action took place during the War of the Second Coalition during the larger conflict known as the French Revolutionary Wars.
Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier, 1st Comte Sérurier led a division in the War of the First Coalition and became a Marshal of France 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.
Turin is a city and an important business and cultural centre in northern Italy. It is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Turin and of the Piedmont region, and was the first capital city of Italy from 1861 to 1865. The city is located mainly on the western bank of the Po River, in front of Susa Valley, and is surrounded by the western Alpine arch and Superga Hill. The population of the city proper is 878,074 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 1.7 million inhabitants. The Turin metropolitan area is estimated by the OECD to have a population of 2.2 million.
On 6 May 1799, Suvorov's left wing crossed the Po at Piacenza and moved southwest toward Bobbio, while his main body crossed farther west.On 7 May, a 13,865-man Austrian corps was at Castel San Giovanni while Pyotr Bagration with the 5,862-man Russian advance guard was at Voghera, both on the south bank of the Po. Rosenberg with 10,571 soldiers was at Dorno with a 3,075-strong advance guard at Lomello, both on the north bank. Josef Philipp Vukassovich and 5,100 Austrians were farther west, also on the north bank. That same day Grand Duke Constantine arrived with the army, thirsting for action. On 9 May, Suvorov's chief of staff, the Austrian Johann Gabriel Chasteler de Courcelles and two battalions chased the French out of the town of Tortona, though not its citadel. Desiring to concentrate his army on the south bank, Suvorov issued orders to Rosenberg to cross the Po at Alluvioni Cambiò - that is, downstream from the confluence of the Po and Tanaro rivers.
Piacenza is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, the capital of the eponymous province. The etymology is long-standing, tracing an origin from the Latin verb placēre, "to please." In French, and occasionally in English, it is called Plaisance. The name means a "pleasant abode", or as James Boswell reported some of the etymologists of his time to have translated it, "comely". This was a name "of good omen."
Bobbio is a small town and commune in the province of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy. It is located in the Trebbia River valley southwest of the town Piacenza. There is also an abbey and a diocese of the same name. Bobbio is the administrative center of the Unione Montana Valli Trebbia e Luretta.
Castel San Giovanni is a town and comune in the province of Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
Instead of following orders, Rosenberg began sending his troops across the Po near Bassignana, which was upstream from where the Tanaro emptied into the Po. Grand Duke Constantine was almost certainly responsible for ordering Rosenberg to ignore Suvorov's instructions.At first the Allies believed that Valenza was unoccupied, so that a plan was made on 8 May to cross the Po. On 10 May it was discovered that Valenza was held by the French. During this time, Nikolay Andreievich Chubarov explored Mugarone island in the Po River and found it to be a suitable crossing place. Chubarov set up a flying bridge from the north bank to the island. A cable connected the north bank with the island so that a ferry boat could be quickly hauled across the deep channel. The Russian preparations were so obvious that Moreau believed it was a feint and not a real attack. He ordered Grenier to leave a few outposts and march his division south to Alessandria to face the gathering threat from Suvorov to the east.
Feint is a French term that entered English via the discipline of swordsmanship and fencing. Feints are maneuvers designed to distract or mislead, done by giving the impression that a certain maneuver will take place, while in fact another, or even none, will. In military tactics and many types of combat, there are two types of feints: feint attacks and feint retreats.
On the evening of 11 May 1799, Rosenberg sent 4,000 Russians across to the island. Crossing on the ferry were three grenadier battalions, three jäger companies, and the Semernikov Cossack Regiment. Ivan Ivanovich Dahlheim with two infantry battalions crossed on small craft. The Russians waited on the island until daylight.On the morning of 12 May, the Russians waded across two shoulder-deep fords shown to them by the local people. Grand Duke Constantine crossed early and led the troops as they drove off Grenier's outposts. The residents of Bassignana welcomed the Russians and chopped down the "Tree of Liberty" that the French had planted in their town. At this time, Rosenberg began transferring more troops from the north bank to the island. The Russians on the south bank moved southwest past the hamlet of Pellizzari and began encountering French resistance at the village of Pecetto di Valenza.
There are two different accounts of what happened next. The first source stated that the French defenders posted at Pecetto and the Brico di San Antonio (hill) farther north drove off the initial wave of Cossacks. Russian infantry came up early in the afternoon and by 4:15 pm they dislodged the French from Pecetto. Sometime before this, Moreau was completely alerted by this unexpected threat. He instructed Grenier's division to turn back to repel the Russians and sent Gaspard Amédée Gardanne with his reserve. He also ordered Victor's division to the scene. When Grenier's division swept forward it soon recaptured Pecetto. Chubarov tried manfully to rally his troops to hold back the French.
The second source asserted that Moreau, who was in Valenza, ordered the outposts in Bassignana to fall back to Grenier's main line. Chubarov advanced with the Cossacks and 2,500 infantry in three and one-half battalions. Grenier deployed his division facing east with Valenza on his left. His line included the high ground of the Sant' Antonio ridge and Pecetto. He posted Louis Gareau's brigade on the left and François Jean Baptiste Quesnel's brigade on the right. Gardanne's reserve was on Quesnel's right. Moreau ordered Victor to quickly march to the battlefield from the south. Beginning about 1:00 pm, the Russians led by Constantine attacked Quesnel's brigade at Pecetto but were consistently repulsed. When Victor's approaching columns began to appear on the hills to the south, the Russians became unnerved and started to retreat.
At about this moment, a staff officer from Suvorov appeared with an order from the army commander. It read, "The count has commanded you to dispatch a courier to inform him whether you are really crossing to join us. We have completely abandoned the project of taking Valenza... Bring as many troops as you can and join us here, and just leave pickets and observation posts opposite Valenza". The officer had ordered that no more troops be brought across the Po and instructed the troops already on the south bank to evacuate the bridgehead. Constantine rushed back and overruled the staff officer; he ordered the battalions from the Miloradovich, Schveikovsky and Rosenberg regiments and two companies from the Tyrtov Regiment to join the battle. One observer, the Austrian Colonel MacDermott wrote that the Russian soldiers' steadfastness and courage saved them from being wiped out.In contrast, Russian Captain Gryazev admitted that the retreat turned into an embarrassing rout in which the soldiers ran away, ignoring the pleas of their officers to stand and fight. Meanwhile, the residents of Bassignana, who had hailed the Russians as liberators in the morning, now jeered and even fired upon their fleeing would-be saviors.
If Victor's division had intervened, the entire Russian force might have been captured, but his troops were too tired and too hungry to march another step.To distract the French, Rosenberg ordered Mikhail Semenovich Zhukov with two battalions to make a demonstration opposite Valenza and Vukassovich to thrust at Casale Monferrato. Both operations failed and any troops that reached the south bank of the Po were killed, captured or driven off. By evening, the Russian survivors from Bassignana returned to the island where they were unable to cross to the north bank. A local resident had cut the cable to the north bank, and it took time to retrieve the drifting ferry. Once the flying bridge was reestablished, the wounded soldiers were transported to the north bank first and the able-bodied troops had to wait their turn. While the Russians huddled helplessly on the island, French artillery began raking them with canister shot in the dark. Constantine's horse bolted into the river and the grand duke was saved when a Cossack swam to him and fished him out. At 2:00 am Constantine crossed to the north bank in a small boat while an aide-de-camp propelled the vessel with his spontoon.
One authority stated that the French sustained 617 casualties at Bassignana. Suvorov admitted that his soldiers suffered 992 casualties. Chasteler estimated Russian losses as 1,500, while MacDermott believed Russian casualties were nearly 2,000. The number of Russian combatants was estimated at 7,000.A second source stated that the French lost 600 killed, wounded, and missing out of 12,000 men present. Out of a total of 3,500 troops, the Russians lost 333 killed and 659 wounded (992 total), plus 300 men and two guns captured. A third source reported that French General of Brigade Quesnel was wounded and that the French captured four guns. The Russians lost one colonel and six other officers killed, General-major Chubarov, two colonels, two lieutenant colonels, five majors, and 50 lesser officers were wounded. Chubarov had 1,296 troops, Dalheim led 1,409 soldiers, Miloradovich had 2,095 men, and Zhukov commanded 1,475 troops.
It was unthinkable to officially blame the czar's son Constantine for the debacle. Rosenberg wrote to Suvorov, "As a subordinate I accept my guilt without any excuses. But if Your Excellency will take the trouble to investigate..." Suvorov concocted an order of the day which followed Rosenberg's account, stating that the order of recall arrived too late.He then praised his soldiers, asserting that they had victory in their grasp when someone beat the signal to retreat on the drum. The Russian commander then found fault with Vukassovich's abortive operation. Finally, Suvorov held a private interview with Constantine after which the grand duke came out with tears in his eyes. At the end, Suvorov lashed out at Constantine's hapless aide-de-camp, vowing to send him home if he allowed the grand duke to get into any more trouble.
Moreau saw that Suvorov's army was split by the Po, with most of the Russians on the north bank and most of the Austrians on the south bank.He concentrated the bulk of his army near Alessandria and sent Victor on a reconnaissance in force eastward toward Tortona on 16 May. This resulted in an Allied victory in the First Battle of Marengo.
General of Division
Louis Stanislas Xavier Soyez
|Louis Stanislas Xavier Soyez|
|Jean Claude Roussel|
|General of Brigade|
François Jean Baptiste Quesnel ( WIA )
|Dominique Honoré Antoine Vedel|
|Jean Claude Moreau|
|General of Brigade|
|Cavalry||Jean-Baptiste Gregoire Delaroche|
|Claude Mathieu Gardanne|
|Reserve||General of Brigade|
Gaspard Amédée Gardanne
|Joseph Denis Picard|
General of Division
Claude Perrin Victor
|Generals of Brigade|
Charles Louis Dieudonné Grandjean
Henri François Marie Charpentier
|Louis Hyacinthe Le Feron|
|Antoine Louis Popon de Maucune|
|Bruno Albert Joseph Duplouy|
|Charles Sebastien Marion|
|Pierre Joseph Petit|
|François Alexandre Grosjean|
Nikolay Andreievich Chubarov ( WIA )
Ivan Ivanovich Dalheim
Mikhail Semenovich Zhukov
The Battle of Novi saw a combined army of Habsburg Austrians and Imperial Russians under Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov attack a Republican French army under General Barthélemy Catherine Joubert. After a prolonged and bloody struggle, the Austro-Russians broke through the French defenses and drove their enemies into a disorderly retreat. Joubert was killed while French division commanders Catherine-Dominique de Pérignon and Emmanuel Grouchy were captured. Novi Ligure is in the province of Piedmont in Italy a distance of 58 kilometres (36 mi) north of Genoa. The battle occurred during the War of the Second Coalition which was part of the French Revolutionary Wars.
The Battle of Trebbia or the Napoleonic Battle of the Trebbia was fought near the Trebbia River in northern Italy between the joint Russian and Habsburg Austrian army under Alexander Suvorov and the Republican French army of Jacques MacDonald. Though the opposing armies were approximately equal in numbers, the Austro-Russians severely defeated the French, sustaining about 6,000 casualties while inflicting losses of 12,000 to 16,500 on their enemies. The War of the Second Coalition engagement occurred west of Piacenza, a city located 70 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of Milan.
The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) was the second war on revolutionary France by the European monarchies, led by Britain, Austria and Russia, and including the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, various German monarchies and Sweden. Their goal was to contain the expansion of the French Republic and to restore the monarchy in France. They failed to overthrow the revolutionary regime and French territorial gains since 1793 were confirmed. In the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, France held all of its previous gains and obtained new lands in Tuscany, Italy, while Austria was granted Venetia and the Dalmatian coast. Britain and France signed the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802, bringing an interval of peace in Europe that lasted for 14 months. By May 1803 Britain and France were again at war and in 1805 Britain assembled the Third Coalition to resume the war against France.
The Tanaro, known as Tanarus in ancient times and Tane or Tani in piedmontese language, is a 276-kilometre (171 mi) long river in northwestern Italy. The river begins in the Ligurian Alps, near the border with France, and is the most significant right-side tributary to the Po in terms of length, size of drainage basin, and discharge.
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.
The Italian and Swiss expeditions of 1799 and 1800 were undertaken by a combined Austro-Russian army under overall command of the Russian General Alexander Suvorov against French forces in Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland as part of the Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars in general and the War of the Second Coalition in particular.
In the Battle of Magnano on 5 April 1799, an Austrian army commanded by Pál Kray defeated a French army led by Barthélemy Schérer. In subsequent battles, the Austrians and their Russian allies drove the French out of nearly all of Italy. This action was fought during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.
Jean Ambroise Baston de Lariboisière, also Count de Lariboisière, was a general of artillery of the First French Empire. He fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars and died of fatigue at Königsberg in East Prussia on 21 December 1812, during the Grand Army's retreat from Moscow.
The Battle of Genola or Battle of Fossano was a meeting engagement between a Habsburg Austrian army commanded by Michael von Melas and a Republican French army under Jean Étienne Championnet. Melas directed his troops with more skill and his army drove the French off the field, inflicting heavy losses. The War of the Second Coalition action represented the last major French effort in Italy during 1799. The municipality of Genola is located in the region of Piedmont in northwest Italy a distance of 27 kilometres (17 mi) north of Cuneo and 58 kilometres (36 mi) south of Turin.
Diederich Arend von Rosenberg or Andrei Grigoryevich Rosenberg (1739–1813) was an Imperial Russian general who led troops against Ottoman Turkey, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Republican France. During the War of the Second Coalition he capably led an army corps under the famous Alexander Suvorov at Cassano, Bassignana and the Trebbia. While in independent command, he badly defeated a French force under Edouard Mortier in the Battle of Muotathal on 1 October 1799.
The Battle of Mannheim was fought between a Habsburg Austrian army commanded by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen and a Republican French army under Jacques Léonard Muller. Most of the French Army of the Rhine had retreated to the west bank of the Rhine River, leaving the division of Antoine Laroche Dubouscat to hold Mannheim on the east bank. Despite assistance by Michel Ney, Laroche's division was beaten and driven out of the city when attacked by Charles and a much superior force. The War of the Second Coalition action occurred in the city of Mannheim, located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany about 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Frankfurt.
Charles Louis Dieudonné Grandjean became a French division commander and saw extensive service during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1792 he gave up his legal career to enlist in the infantry and served in the Army of the Rhine. In March 1799 he earned promotion to general of brigade by distinguished actions at Verona. That year he led an Army of Italy brigade at Magnano, the Trebbia, Novi and Genola. In 1800 he fought at Stockach and Hohenlinden. Grandjean was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Légion d'Honneur in 1804 and elevated in rank to general of division in 1805. During the War of the Fourth Coalition he led a division at Stralsund and Kolberg. Transferring to Spain he fought at the First and Second Sieges of Zaragoza in 1808–09. Later that year he led a division at the Battle of Wagram. Grandjean and his division participated in the 1812 French invasion of Russia after which they were besieged and captured at Danzig in 1813. He rallied to Napoleon during the Hundred Days and was placed on the inactive list. In 1821 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 16.
Andreas Karaczay de Vályeszáka or Andreas Karaiczay de Wallje Szaka or András Karacsaj de Válje-Szaka served in the Austrian army beginning in the Seven Years' War. In 1788–90, he fought in the Austro-Turkish War at Khotyn, Valea Seacă, Focșani, and Rymnik. In 1789 he was promoted to general officer, appointed Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian cavalry regiment, and became a friend to the famous Russian General Alexander Suvorov. He fought in the French Revolutionary Wars until 1795 when he retired because of "war fatigue". Suvorov recalled him to action in 1799 when he fought at the Trebbia, Alessandria, and Novi. He led the Austrians at Second Novi. After being badly wounded at Stockach in 1800, he retired from his military offices in 1801.
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The Battle of Gotthard Pass or Battle of St. Gotthard Pass saw an Imperial Russian army commanded by Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov supported by two Habsburg Austrian brigades attack a Republican French division under General of Division Claude Lecourbe. The Austro-Russian army successfully captured the Gotthard Pass after stiff fighting on the first day. Suvorov's main body was assisted by a Russian flanking column led by Lieutenant General Andrei Rosenberg and a smaller Austrian flanking column under General-major Franz Xaver von Auffenberg. The next day, Suvorov's army fought its way north along the upper Reuss River valley past the Teufelsbrücke in Schöllenen Gorge. By 26 September the army reached Altdorf near Lake Lucerne.