Battle of Castelfranco Veneto

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Battle of Castelfranco Veneto
Part of the War of the Third Coalition
Vincenzo Maria Coronelli - Castelfranco.jpg
Castelfranco as it appeared in 1697
Date24 November 1805
Location Castelfranco Veneto, Italy
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg France Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austrian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France.svg L. Gouvion Saint-Cyr
Flag of France.svg Jean Reynier
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Prince de Rohan
Units involved
Army of Italy (France) Rohan's Brigade
Strength
over 8,000 4,400, 5 guns
Casualties and losses
light 4,400, 5 guns, 4 colors

In the Battle of Castelfranco Veneto (24 November 1805), two divisions of the French Army of Italy confronted an Austrian brigade led by Prince Louis Victor de Rohan-Guéméné. The Austrians had made a remarkable march from deep in the Alps to the plains of northern Italy. But, caught between the divisions of Jean Reynier and Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr, Rohan surrendered his command after failing to fight his way out. The event occurred during the War of the Third Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Castelfranco Veneto is located 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Venice.

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.

Austrian Empire monarchy in Central Europe between 1804 and 1867

The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

Alps major mountain range system in Central Europe

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries : France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

Contents

The Ulm Campaign of October 1805 resulted in an Austrian disaster when the Grande Armée of Napoleon enveloped and destroyed most of its units. Afterward, only Michael von Kienmayer's fleeing corps and a newly arriving Russian army under Mikhail Kutuzov stood between Napoleon and the Austrian capital of Vienna. After hearing the news of Ulm, the main army of Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen began withdrawing from northern Italy and Archduke John of Austria's smaller army pulled out of the County of Tyrol. In the confusion, Rohan's brigade became separated from John's army. First, Rohan attempted to join part of Charles' army. Failing, he had his men move south to link up with the Austrian garrison of Venice. After an epic march Rohan's brigade was cornered short of Venice. The issue of the war would be determined at the Battle of Austerlitz in early December.

Ulm Campaign

The Ulm Campaign was a series of French and Bavarian military maneuvers and battles to outflank and capture an Austrian army in 1805 during the War of the Third Coalition. It took place in the vicinity of and inside the Swabian city of Ulm. The French Grande Armée, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, comprised 210,000 troops organized into seven corps, and hoped to knock out the Austrian army in the Danube before Russian reinforcements could arrive. Through rapid marching, Napoleon conducted a large wheeling maneuver that captured an Austrian army of 23,000 under General Mack on 20 October at Ulm, bringing the total number of Austrian prisoners in the campaign to 60,000. The campaign is generally regarded as a strategic masterpiece and was influential in the development of the Schlieffen Plan in the late 19th century.

The Grande Armée was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

March

One Austrian brigade led by General-major Prince Louis Victor de Rohan-Guéméné became separated from Archduke John's army. Hoping to join Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann von Hiller's wing of Archduke Charles' army in Italy, Rohan looked to the south. Starting from Landeck in the County of Tyrol on 10 November, he marched his men south. Missing both Hiller and Charles, he determined to cut his way to Venice. Seizing Bolzano on 18 November, he then marched his brigade south to Trento. From there, he turned east into the Val Sugana before swinging south into the Brenta River valley. Where the Brenta leaves the mountains, the Austrians surprised and ejected the French garrison of Bassano on 22 November. Marching hard, the Austrians reached Castelfranco Veneto the next evening. On 24 November, Rohan's epic march came to an end when his troops were trapped between the divisions of Generals of Division Jean Reynier and Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr. After a struggle, the Austrian soldiers surrendered. [1]

Archduke John of Austria Austrian field marshal and German Imperial regent

Archduke John of Austria, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, was an Austrian field marshal and imperial regent (Reichsverweser) of the short-lived German Empire during the Revolutions of 1848.

Johann von Hiller Austrian general

Johann Baron von Hiller was an Austrian general during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He held an important command during the 1809 campaign against France, playing a prominent role at the Battle of Aspern-Essling.

Landeck Place in Tyrol, Austria

Landeck is a town in the Austrian state of Tyrol, the capital of the district of Landeck.

Capitulation

Reynier's division numbered 8,000 men in 11 battalions with 12 guns. His command consisted of the 1st Swiss Infantry Regiment and the 10th, 53rd, 56th, and 62nd French Line Infantry Regiments. The strength and composition of Gouvion Saint-Cyr's division was not given. [2]

Rohan's cavalry included eight squadrons of the Archduke Ferdinand Cuirassier Regiment Nr. 4, and one squadron of the Hohenzollern Chevau-leger Regiment Nr. 2 and a combined squadron. His infantry comprised four battalions of the Duka Infantry Regiment Nr. 38, the 2nd and 4th Battalions of the Beaulieu Infantry Regiment Nr. 58, and one combined battalion. Altogether, 4,400 soldiers, five artillery pieces, and four colors were surrendered to the French. Austrian killed and wounded were not reported though Rohan was wounded. It is known that the French suffered 16 officer casualties during the fighting. [3]

Notes

  1. Smith & Kudrna, Rohan-Guéméné, Ludwig Victor Fürst von
  2. Smith (1998), 215
  3. Smith (1998), 215. Smith stated that Rohan's force had eight battalions but only named seven.

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References

David Geoffrey Chandler was a British historian whose study focused on the Napoleonic era.

Digby Smith is a British military historian. The son of a British career soldier, he was born in Hampshire, England, but spent several years in India and Pakistan as a child and youth. As a "boy soldier," he entered training in the British Army at the age of 16. He was later commissioned in the Royal Corps of Signals, and held several postings with the British Army of the Rhine.

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