Battle of Calliano

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Battle of Calliano
Part of French Revolutionary Wars
Date6 and 7 November 1796
Location Calliano, Trentino
Result Austrian victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg First French Republic Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Austria
Commanders and leaders
Claude Vaubois Paul Davidovich
Strength
10,500 19,474
Casualties and losses
Calliano & Cembra: 4,400 Calliano & Cembra: 3,567

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.

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.

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.

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.

Contents

Campaign

By November 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army of Italy had reduced Field Marshal Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser's Austrian garrison of Mantua to near-starvation. Emperor Francis I of Austria appointed Feldzeugmeister Jozsef Alvinczi to lead a new army in smashing though the French blockade. Alvinczi planned to advance on Mantua from the east with the 28,000-man Friaul Corps, while Feldmarschal-Leutnant Davidovich led 19,000 soldiers of the Tirol Corps down the Adige valley from the north.

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.

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.

Mantua Comune in Lombardy, Italy

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

Forces

See Arcola 1796 Campaign Order of Battle for a list of the major units of both armies, including the strengths and commanders of the Tyrol Corps' six columns.

Cembra: 2 November

Bonaparte badly underestimated Davidovich's strength. To oppose the northern thrust, he deployed a division of 10,500 soldiers under General of Division Vaubois. The start of Davidovich's offensive led to a series of clashes beginning on 27 October. On 2 November the French attacked the Austrians at Cembra. Although Vaubois inflicted 1,100 casualties on his enemies at the cost of only 650 Frenchmen, he decided to pull back to Calliano when Davidovich resumed his forward movement the next day. The French 85th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade was roughly handled. [1] The Austrians occupied Trento on 5 November.

Calliano, Trentino Comune in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy

Calliano is a comune (municipality) in Trentino in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 15 kilometres (9 mi) south of Trento.

Trento Comune in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy

Trento is a city on the Adige River in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol in Italy. It is the capital of the autonomous province of Trento. In the 16th century, the city was the location of the Council of Trent. Formerly part of Austria and Austria-Hungary, it was annexed by Italy in 1919. With almost 120,000 inhabitants, Trento is the third largest city in the Alps and second largest in the Tyrol.

Battle

On 6 November, Vaubois repulsed Davidovich's attacks on his position at Calliano, inflicting losses of 753 men. That night the French general detached several units to cover key positions in the area, weakening his main line. At dawn, the Austrians launched a new attack that was resisted all day, Calliano changing hands several times. Some Grenz infantry worked their way into the rear of the French line and this caused a panic-stricken flight from the field beginning at 4 pm.

Grenz infantry or Grenzers were light infantry troops who came from the Military Frontier in the Habsburg Monarchy. This borderland formed a buffer zone between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire, and the troops were originally raised to defend Austria against the Ottoman Turks. When there was no danger of war against the Ottomans, the Grenzer regiments were employed by the Habsburgs in other theatres of war, although one battalion of each regiment would always remain guarding the border.

The second day of fighting at Calliano cost Davidovich another 1,523 men for a total of 3,567 for the campaign. These heavy losses kept the Austrians from vigorously following up the fleeing Frenchmen. [2] Vaubois suffered 4,400 casualties at Cembra and Calliano. [3]

Aftermath

During the day of 8 November, the French soldiers retreated to Rivoli Veronese where they finally rallied. Furious over the misbehavior of his troops, Bonaparte issued an announcement to the army in which he harshly criticised the 39th and 85th Demi-Brigades. [4] Meanwhile, in the Po River valley, Alvinczi defeated Bonaparte's attack at the Second Battle of Bassano on 6 November, forcing the French main army to fall back to Verona.

Poor communications continued to plague the Austrian effort. It took two days for dispatches to pass between Davidovich and Alvinczi. Davidovich refrained from attacking the Rivoli position because he believed that André Masséna was present with his division. While Masséna was briefly in command, he did not bring any troops with him. By this time Davidovich probably had 14,000 men, but this includes General-Major (GM) Johann Loudon who was guarding his line of communications with the Tyrol. [5]

Rivoli: 17 November

Davidovich finally attacked on 17 November, with GM Joseph Ocskay von Ocsko moving from Monte Baldo and GM Josef Philipp Vukassovich advancing from the Adige River gorge. The Austrians gained the Rivoli plateau and steadily forced the outnumbered French back. Again, the brittle morale of the 85th Line snapped and the result was another rout of Vaubois' division. [6] On this occasion, the French lost 800 killed and wounded, plus 1,000 captured including Generals of Brigade Pascal Antoine Fiorella and Antoine La Valette and 7 cannons. The Austrians lost only 600 men. [7] This field would be fought over again during the Battle of Rivoli in January 1797.

Rivoli: 21 November

The Tyrol Corps' victory came too late. Bonaparte fought and won the Battle of Arcola on 15–17 November. When Davidovich realized that the Army of Italy was moving his way in great strength, he pulled back to Rivoli on 20 November. The next morning, he ordered a retreat to the north. A short time later, he received a note saying that Alvinczi's army was back in the field. Davidovich told his troops to reoccupy their positions at Rivoli, but by this time the French were upon them. In the ensuing action, French losses were about 200. The Austrians lost 251 killed and wounded. In addition, the French captured 608 soldiers, 3 cannons, and a bridging train. [8] One authority gives Austrian losses as 1,500 men and 9 guns. [9] When Alvinczi heard that his colleague was in full retreat up the Adige valley, he withdrew to the Brenta River, ending the campaign.

See also

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References

  1. Boycott-Brown, p 449
  2. Boycott-Brown, p 453
  3. Smith, p 127
  4. Boycott-Brown, p 454
  5. Boycott-Brown, p 458
  6. Boycott-Brown, p 471
  7. Smith, p 128
  8. Smith, p 128. Smith dates the action on 22 November.
  9. Chandler, p 112

Sources