Battle of Feldkirch

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Battle of Feldkirch
Feldkirch Untere Illschlucht.jpg
The Ill River runs through rugged terrain near Feldkirch.
Date23 March 1799
Location
Result Austrian victory
Belligerents
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Habsburg Austria Flag of France.svg Republican France
Commanders and leaders
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Franz Jelačić Flag of France.svg André Masséna
Strength
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg 5,500 Flag of France.svg 12,000
Casualties and losses
900 1,500–3,000

The Battle of Feldkirch (23 March 1799) saw a Republican French corps led by André Masséna attack a weaker Habsburg Austrian force under Franz Jellacic. Defending fortified positions, the Austrians repulsed all of the French columns, though the struggle lasted until nightfall. This and other French setbacks in southern Germany soon caused Masséna to go on the defensive. The War of the Second Coalition combat occurred at the Austrian town of Feldkirch, Vorarlberg, located 158 kilometres (98 mi) west of Innsbruck.

André Masséna French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

André Masséna, 1st Duc de Rivoli, 1st Prince d'Essling was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon, with the nickname l'Enfant chéri de la Victoire.

War of the Second Coalition attempt to contain or eliminate Revolutionary France

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.

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

Contents

On a flimsy pretext, a Republican French army invaded Switzerland in January 1798 and forced the country into an uneasy alliance marked by occasional revolts. By the start of hostilities with Austria in early 1799, Masséna was in command of the Army of Helvetia . Going on the offensive, the French inflicted defeats on the Austrians at Maienfeld, Chur and Feldkirch on 6 and 7 March. Ordered to attack Feldkirch in late March by his superior Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, Masséna attacked with troops under Nicolas Oudinot. Jourdan's defeats at Ostrach and Stockach soon forced the French to recoil.

Switzerland federal republic in Western Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in western, central and southern Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities. The sovereign state is a federal republic bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva.

The Army of Helvetia, or, was a unit of the French Revolutionary Army. It was formed on 8 March 1798 from the remnants of the first unit to be known as the Army of the Rhine. It was officially merged into the command structure of the Army of the Danube on 29 April 1799, although it continued to operate in the Swiss theater until 1801. The Army's initial campaigning in the old Swiss Confederation resulted in severe setbacks and defeats at Feldkirch, Lusiensteig, and Zurich.

Maienfeld Place in Graubünden, Switzerland

Maienfeld is a municipality in the Landquart Region in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. It is a tourist destination in the Alps, both because of the local wine and because it was the setting of the story Heidi.

Background

French occupation of Switzerland

The ostensible reason for the French Directory to order the invasion of Switzerland was that the Confederation was maltreating the people of the Canton of Vaud. However, the real reason was most likely the desire for the French government to get its hands on the Swiss treasury at Bern. [1] Named to command the Army of Helvetia , Guillaume Brune with a division from the Army of Italy started marching north on 1 January 1798. Meanwhile, Balthazar Alexis Henri Schauenburg's 15,000-man division was detached from the Army of the Rhine and began advancing on Bern from the north. During this time bogus negotiations were carried on to mislead the Swiss. On 5 February 1798, Brune officially took command of the still-separated divisions of Schauenburg and his former unit, now under Philippe Romain Mesnard. Converging on Bern, both divisions entered the city on 5 March after scattered fighting. [2]

French Directory Executive power of the French Constitution of 1795-1799

The Directory or Directorate was a five-member committee which governed France from 2 November 1795, when it replaced the Committee of Public Safety, until 9 November 1799, when it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, and replaced by the French Consulate. It gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution.

Bern Place in Switzerland

Bern or Berne is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their Bundesstadt, or "federal city". With a population of 142,493, Bern is the fifth-most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of 406,900 in 2014. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000. Bern is also the capital of the canton of Bern, the second-most populous of Switzerland's cantons.

Guillaume Brune French diplomat

Guillaume Marie-Anne Brune, 1st Comte Brune was a French soldier and political figure who rose to Marshal of France.

Helvetic Republic, 12 April 1798 Karte Helvetik 3.png
Helvetic Republic, 12 April 1798

On 8 March 1798 Brune was appointed to lead the Army of Italy. He left for his new command on 29 March and Schauenburg was named the new army commander. Meanwhile, cash and gold worth 10 million francs were seized of which three million helped finance Napoleon Bonaparte's French campaign in Egypt and Syria. In addition, 293 cannons, 38 howitzers and 32 mortars were taken to Huningue and Carouge. Though the two countries became allies on 19 August 1798, many Swiss were not happy with their new French overlords. The French soldiers were kept busy suppressing revolts in Valais (Wallis) and other cantons. [3] During his tenure, Schauenburg got Nicolas Oudinot transferred to his army. Schauenburg was an excellent organizer but not a first-rate general like his successor. On 11 December, he relinquished command to André Masséna and assumed the role of Inspector General of Infantry. At this time the Army of Helvetia counted 24,000 veteran troops, including 1,600 cavalry. [4]

French campaign in Egypt and Syria conflict

The French Campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798–1801) was Napoleon Bonaparte's campaign in the Ottoman territories of Egypt and Syria, proclaimed to defend French trade interests, weaken Britain's access to British India, and to establish scientific enterprise in the region. It was the primary purpose of the Mediterranean campaign of 1798, a series of naval engagements that included the capture of Malta.

Huningue Commune in Grand Est, France

Huningue is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department of Alsace in north-eastern France. Huningue is a northern suburb of the Swiss city of Basel. It also borders Germany. In 2008 it had a population of 6503 people. The main square of the town is the Place Abbatucci, named after the Corsican-born French general Jean Charles Abbatucci who unsuccessfully defended it in 1796 against the Austrians and died here. Huningue is noted for its pisciculture and is a major producer of fish eggs.

Carouge Place in Geneva, Switzerland

Carouge is a municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland.

By invading Switzerland, the French government had unwittingly opened up a new avenue for the Coalition forces to invade France. Along its borders with Belgium and Germany, France was well-protected by a belt of fortresses. But in the Jura Mountains on the Swiss frontier, there were only a few places like Fort de Joux and Salins-les-Bains guarding the region of Franche-Comté. [5] Lazare Carnot regretfully noted that when Switzerland was neutral, France could ignore their common border. However, with Switzerland a belligerent, the French must deploy 40,000 soldiers to either occupy the country or watch the frontier. [6]

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Jura Mountains mountain chain in Switzerland

The Jura Mountains are a sub-alpine mountain range located north of the Western Alps, mainly following the course of the France–Switzerland border. The Jura separates the Rhine and Rhône basins, forming part of the watershed of each.

Outbreak of war

Andre Massena Renault - Andre Massena, duc de Rivoli, prince d'Essling, marechal de France (1756-1817).jpg
André Masséna

French aggression in Switzerland, Ottoman Egypt, Holland, Malta, the Kingdom of Piedmont and the Papal States caused the formation of the Second Coalition against her. The United Kingdom soon brought Habsburg Austria, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Naples, the Kingdom of Portugal and Ottoman Turkey into the Coalition. Attacking early, King Ferdinand IV of Naples briefly drove the French from Rome in November 1798. However, a French army under Jean Étienne Championnet soon routed the hapless Neapolitan army and by 23 January 1799 had conquered Naples, forcing Ferdinand to flee to Sicily. [7]

Ottoman Egypt covers two main periods of the history of Egypt from the 16th through early 20th centuries, when under the rule of or allied to the Ottoman Empire that was based in Turkey.

Holland Region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands

Holland is a region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used informally to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. This usage is commonly accepted in other countries, and sometimes employed by the Dutch themselves. However, some in the Netherlands, particularly those from regions outside Holland, may find it undesirable or misrepresentative to use the term for the whole country.

Malta island republic in Europe

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi), Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely-populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km.2 The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.

By this time it was obvious to the French Directory that war was imminent and 200,000 conscripts were called up. Aside from Bonaparte's forces in Egypt, the French were divided into five poorly-equipped armies. Masséna was in Switzerland with 30,000 men, Brune defended Holland with over 20,000 soldiers, Jean-Baptiste Jourdan held Alsace with 37,000 troops, Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer had 58,000 men in northern Italy and Jacques MacDonald (who succeeded Championnet) counted 30,000 soldiers in central and southern Italy. In addition, there was a reserve force commanded by Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte threatening Mannheim and Philippsburg. [8] The Directory ordered Masséna to seize the Vorarlberg and Graubünden (Grisons, Rhätien) and advance on the County of Tyrol. Jourdan was instructed to cross the Rhine River, transit the Black Forest and link its right wing with Masséna's left. Schérer was directed to link with Masséna's right while resisting the Austrians near Verona. The Austrians had 75,000 men in northern Italy under Paul Kray, 18,000 troops in the Tyrol led by Count Heinrich von Bellegarde, 26,000 soldiers in the Vorarlberg and Graubünden under Friedrich Freiherr von Hotze and 80,000 men led by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen on the Lech River in southern Germany. [9]

Campaign and Battle

Chur and 1st Feldkirch

Nicolas Oudinot AduC 231 Oudinot (N.C., duc de Reggio, 1767-1847).JPG
Nicolas Oudinot

In February, Masséna's right flank was held by Claude Lecourbe's division, with its extreme right at Bellinzona. Mesnard's center division was posted south of Lake Constance near Glarus and Schwyz. Charles Antoine Xaintrailles's left flank division, including Oudinot's brigade, defended the Rhine from Lake Constance to Basle. [10] Hotze had 20,000 troops at Bregenz and Feldkirch while Franz Xaver von Auffenberg held Chur with 4,500 men. Though war had not been declared, Jourdan notified Masséna that he would cross the Rhine on 1 March and be near Lake Constance by the 6th. Therefore, Masséna launched an assault crossing of the Rhine on 6 March at Luziensteig, which was between Hotze and Auffenberg. The Austrian defenses were strong and the river was rising, but the French finally captured the place in the evening. [11] Masséna committed 5,000 to the battle and sustained 300 casualties. The Austrians had 4,200 troops in the area but they were spread out with no reserves. Consequently, they lost 400 killed and wounded plus 1,450 soldiers, 12 guns and three colors captured. [12] Another source stated that the Austrians lost only 1,100 prisoners and five guns. [11]

On the 7th Masséna turned south and attacked Auffenberg at Chur. He sent his light infantry around the Austrian right to block escape by the Plessur valley. One source asserted that Auffenberg lost 3,000 prisoners, 16 guns and his supply magazines. [11] Another source stated that the Austrians lost 1,000 prisoners and four guns out of a total of 2,400 men. The French suffered only 100 killed and wounded out of 9,600 soldiers. [12] Meanwhile, Oudinot's brigade crossed the Rhine on a wagon bridge and moved north toward Feldkirch. Hotze attacked Oudinot outside Feldkirch with a numerically equal force. The battle hung in the balance until Jean Thomas Guillaume Lorge arrived with reinforcements sent by Masséna. Toward evening Oudinot led a cavalry charge which flung Hotze back into the town. The French captured 1,000 Austrian soldiers and four guns. [13] Another authority gave French casualties as 200 out of 9,000 and Austrian casualties as 1,100 out of 6,000. [12] Not all the French forces were successful. Marching from the Saint Gotthard Pass, Louis Henri Loison's brigade was mauled by an Austrian-Swiss force near Disentis. [13]

2nd Feldkirch

Map shows the Battle of Feldkirch, 23 March 1799. Noffles is at top right, under the north arrow. The hill just above and to the left of Feldkirch is the Blasenberg. Schlacht bei Feldkirch Woerl.jpg
Map shows the Battle of Feldkirch, 23 March 1799. Noffles is at top right, under the north arrow. The hill just above and to the left of Feldkirch is the Blasenberg.

Meanwhile, Lecourbe's 10,000-man division embarked on the remarkable Engadine Campaign. By 12 March, Lecourbe reached the upper Inn River. [14] By now the Army of Helvetia was 34,992-strong, but this campaign isolated Lecourbe from the rest of the army. [15] On 9 March 1799, the French Directory realized that having many independent armies was a bad idea and subordinated Masséna to Jourdan. A furious Masséna submitted his resignation on the 16th. The government was firm in its decision however, and Masséna finally backed down and agreed to remain in command. It is possible that the drama may have made Masséna overly-aggressive in the next few days. [16] By 19 March Jourdan's army was coming abreast of Masséna, with its right flank division under Pierre Marie Barthélemy Ferino on Lake Constance. Jourdan asked Masséna to link with Ferino at Bregenz. [15] On the 20th Archduke Charles ordered Hotze to reinforce his army with 10,000 troops drawn from the Vorarlberg. [17]

Franz Jellacic - victor Franjo Jelacic.jpg
Franz Jellacic – victor

Masséna planned to have Xaintrailles make a feint on Bregenz while his center struck Feldkirch. Masséna had scouted the Austrian defenses, which were entrenched, but he believed that Hotze's absence provided him with an opportunity. As far back as 15 March, Oudinot had suggested an attack on Feldkirch. Then, on 22 March, an order from Jourdan was received, directing Masséna to attack Feldkirch. [15] Masséna accelerated his planned assault by one day by attacking on 23 March 1799 and thus losing the effect of the feint on Bregenz. The attack was launched in four columns, including one led by Oudinot and another by Masséna in person. [18]

Feldkirch was held by Franz Jellacic who was described as, "able within reasonable limits" and having "true fighting fervor". Lying on the Ill River, the town was protected by a line of fieldworks across the main road, backed by a second line of works. The flanks were guarded by several redoubts and abatis. [19] Jellacic's 5,500-strong command included the 3rd Battalions of Infantry Regiments Kaunitz Nr. 20 and De Vins Nr. 37 and three Grenz Infantry battalions. These were the 3rd Battalion of Peterwardeiner Nr. 9, 2nd battalion of St. George Nr. 6, and the 1st battalion of Broder Nr. 7. [20] There were also two squadrons of cavalry and supporting militia. [19]

The leftmost attack column crossed the Ill downstream at the hamlet of Noffles early in the morning. It was supposed to veer to the right and get behind Jellacic's defenses, but it was repulsed. The left-center column assaulted the Blasenberg height but it too was defeated. A third column to the left of the main road attacked the Saint Michael's Wood but met the same fate as the other columns. Masséna sent 12 battalions charging up the main road while a small force tried a right hook around the flank of the entrenchments. The flanking force made headway before being stalled. Jellacic made economical use of his outnumbered force. Masséna's main assault in front failed and was sent on its way by a final counterattack by Jellacic's men. [19] In the early going the French troops captured about 500 prisoners and seemed to be on the verge of victory, but the heavy defensive fire and rocks thrown at them finally turned them back. [18]

Results

The Austrians lost 900 killed, wounded and missing. [20] One authority listed 1,500 French casualties, [18] but two other sources estimated their losses as 3,000. [19] [20] On the 24th, Masséna got news that Jourdan had been defeated by Charles at the Battle of Ostrach on 21 March and was retreating. This meant that the battle had been fought for nothing. Jourdan's Army of the Danube was beaten again at the Battle of Stockach on the 25th. With Jourdan in full retreat, Charles could easily strike at Zürich. So Masséna ordered Lecourbe to abandon the Engadin valley. [18] On 5 April Masséna replaced Jourdan in charge of the Army of the Danube. He gave Mesnard command of the Army of Helvetia and started for Strasbourg. Ferino soon replaced Mesnard. Oudinot was promoted to general of division for his efforts. [21] For his distinguished actions, Jellacic received the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa on 6 April 1799. He was promoted Feldmarschall-Leutnant on 29 October 1800 and appointed Inhaber of Infantry Regiment Nr. 62 on 1 January 1802. [22]

Notes

  1. Phipps, Ramsay Weston (2011). The Armies of the First French Republic: Volume V The Armies Of The Rhine In Switzerland, Holland, Italy, Egypt, and The Coup D'Etat of Brumaire (1797–1799). 5. USA: Pickle Partners Publishing. p. 67. ISBN   978-1-908692-28-3.
  2. Phipps (2011), pp. 68–69.
  3. Phipps (2011), pp. 70–72.
  4. Phipps (2011), p. 73.
  5. Duffy, Christopher (1999). Eagles Over the Alps: Suvarov in Italy and Switzerland, 1799. Chicago, Ill.: The Emperor's Press. ISBN   1-883476-18-6.
  6. Duffy (1999), p. 155.
  7. Dodge, Theodore Ayrault (2011). Warfare in the Age of Napoleon: The Egyptian and Syrian Campaigns and the Wars of the Second and Third Coalitions, 1798–1805. 2. USA: Leonaur Ltd. p. 103. ISBN   978-0-85706-600-8.
  8. Dodge (2011), p. 104.
  9. Dodge (2011), pp. 106–107.
  10. Phipps (2011), p. 74.
  11. 1 2 3 Phipps (2011), p. 75.
  12. 1 2 3 Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. pp. 145–146. ISBN   1-85367-276-9.
  13. 1 2 Phipps (2010), p. 76.
  14. Phipps (2011), p. 77.
  15. 1 2 3 Phipps (2011), p. 80.
  16. Phipps (2011), p. 79.
  17. Dodge (2011), p. 110.
  18. 1 2 3 4 Phipps (2011), p. 81.
  19. 1 2 3 4 Dodge (2011), p. 116.
  20. 1 2 3 Smith (1998), p. 148.
  21. Phipps (2011), p. 82.
  22. Smith, Digby; Kudrna, Leopold. "Biographical Dictionary of all Austrian Generals during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792–1815: Jellachich von Buzim, Franz". napoleon-series.org. Retrieved 13 February 2013.

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The Battle of Linth River saw a Republican French division under General of Division Jean-de-Dieu Soult face a force of Habsburg Austrian, Imperial Russian, and Swiss soldiers led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Friedrich Freiherr von Hotze in Switzerland. Soult carefully planned and his troops carried out a successful assault crossing of the Linth River between Lake Zurich and the Walensee. Hotze's death early in the action disorganized the Allied defenders who were defeated and forced to retreat, abandoning supplies accumulated for Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov's approaching army. On the same day, General of Division André Masséna's French Army of Helvetia defeated Lieutenant General Alexander Korsakov's Russian army in the Second Battle of Zurich and a French brigade turned back another Austrian force near Mollis. Both Korsakov's Russians and Hotze's survivors, led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Franz Petrasch withdrew north of the Rhine River.

Battle of Gotthard Pass

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.

References

Coordinates: 47°14′17″N9°35′54″E / 47.23806°N 9.59833°E / 47.23806; 9.59833