Battle of Fombio

Last updated
Battle of Fombio
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
Battaglia di Fombio.jpg
The Battle of Fombio
Date7–9 May 1796
Location Fombio, Lombardy
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Austria
Commanders and leaders
Napoleon Bonaparte
Amédée Laharpe   [1]
Claude Dallemagne
Johann Beaulieu
Anton Lipthay
Anton Schübirz
Strength
11,500 Lipthay: 5,000
Schübirz: 1,580
Casualties and losses
450 [2] 1,568, 20 guns

The Battle of Fombio was fought between the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon Bonaparte and the Austrian army under Feldzeugmeister Johann Peter Beaulieu between 7 and 9 May 1796. It was the decisive strategic point of the campaign, as Bonaparte crossed the Po River at Piacenza in Beaulieu's rear, threatening both Milan and the Austrian line of communications. This threat forced the Austrian army to withdraw to the east.

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.

Johann Peter Beaulieu Austrian general

Johann Peter de Beaulieu, also Jean Pierre de Beaulieu, was a Walloon military officer. He joined the Austrian army and fought against the Prussians during the Seven Years' War. A cultured man, he later battled Belgian rebels and earned promotion to general officer. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought against the First French Republic and attained high command. In 1796, a young Napoleon Bonaparte won some of his first victories against an army led by Beaulieu. He retired and was the Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment until his death.

Piacenza Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

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."

Contents

Campaign

After forcing the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont to sue for peace at the end of the Montenotte Campaign, Bonaparte turned on the Austrians, who retreated to the north bank of the Po. The French army commander ordered General of Division Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier to launch a pinning attack on Beaulieu's positions near Valenza. Forming an advance guard of 3,500 grenadiers and 1,500 cavalry, Bonaparte placed it under General of Brigade Claude Dallemagne. Then he sent Dallemagne on a rapid march to the east along the south bank of the Po. The advance guard was followed by General of Division Amédée Emmanuel François Laharpe's division. Bonaparte intended to turn the Austrian left flank by crossing the Po near Piacenza. [3]

Montenotte Campaign

The Montenotte Campaign began on 10 April 1796 with an action at Voltri and ended with the Armistice of Cherasco on 28 April. In his first army command, Napoleon Bonaparte's French army separated the army of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont under Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi from the allied Austrian army led by Johann Peter Beaulieu. The French defeated both Austrian and Sardinian armies and forced Sardinia to quit the First Coalition. The campaign formed part of the Wars of the French Revolution. Montenotte Superiore is located at the junction of Strada Provinciale 12 and 41 in the Liguria region of northwest Italy, 15 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Carcare municipality. However, the fighting occurred in an area from Genoa on the east to Cuneo on the west.

Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier French soldier and political figure who rose to the rank of Marshal of France

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.

Valenza Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Valenza is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Alessandria in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of Turin and about 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Alessandria.

Battle

Early on 7 May, the advance guard seized a ferry near Piacenza and quickly crossed the river, Colonel Jean Lannes being the first Frenchman on the north bank. Soon both Dallemagne and Laharpe's commands formed a bridgehead on the north bank. General-major Anton Lipthay de Kisfalud's forces, which numbered 4,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry, [4] soon detected the French and several clashes occurred during the day. When Beaulieu heard about the incursion, he ordered General-major Josef Philipp Vukassovich to march from Valeggio to Lipthay's support and ordered his army to pull back in the direction of the Adda River. Meanwhile, General of Division Pierre Augereau got his 7,000 soldiers across the Po farther west by using a captured barge.

Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

Jean Lannes Marshal of France

Jean Lannes, 1st Duc de Montebello, Prince de Siewierz, was a Marshal of the Empire. He was one of Napoleon's most daring and talented generals. Napoleon once commented on Lannes: "I found him a pygmy and left him a giant". A personal friend of the emperor, he was allowed to address him with the familiar "tu", as opposed to the formal "vous".

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.

On the morning of 8 May, Dallemagne's advance guard, supported by Laharpe's 6,500-strong division, assaulted the village of Fombio. Colonels Lannes and François Lanusse led the advance guard's left and center columns while Dallemagne personally commanded the right column. [5] At first Lipthay resisted stoutly, using his hussars to counterattack, but he decided to withdraw to avoid being trapped by the flanking columns. His Austrian and Neapolitan cavalry covered the retreat to Codogno. The French attacked Lipthay again in Codogno and the Austrians had to fight their way back to Pizzighettone, where there was a bridge over the Adda River. Lipthay's losses numbered 568 men on 7–8 May. [6] According to one report, the French suffered 150 killed and 300 wounded in the first volley. [7]

Fombio Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Fombio is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Lodi in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 50 kilometres (31 mi) southeast of Milan and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) southeast of Lodi.

Codogno Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Codogno is a town and comune of 15,868 inhabitants in the province of Lodi, Lombardy, northern Italy. It is the main center of the plain known as Basso Lodigiano, which has about 90,000 inhabitants. It received the honorary title of city with a presidential decree on June 26, 1955.

Pizzighettone Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Pizzighettone is a comune of the Province of Cremona in the Italian region Lombardy. The main population centre is located on the river Adda and is divided into two parts: Pizzighettone on the east bank and Gera on the west.

That evening, as Laharpe's 51st Line Infantry Demi-Brigade marched through Codogno, General-Major Anton Schübirz von Chobinin, with 1,000 foot soldiers and 580 uhlans attacked the town from the west. In one confused clash in the dark streets, Laharpe was killed, possibly by friendly fire. Bonaparte's chief of staff, General of Brigade Louis Berthier took charge and rushed two more demi-brigades into the fight before Schübirz withdrew about dawn on the 9th. [8] Cut off from the bridge over the Adda at Pizzighettone, Beaulieu directed his retreating units to make for the bridge at Lodi, farther north. The Battle of Lodi followed on 10 May as Beaulieu tried to get his army safely behind the Adda and Bonaparte attempted to head him off.

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.

Friendly fire attack on friendly forces misidentified as hostile ones

Friendly fire is an attack by a military force on their own forces, or allied or neutral forces, while attempting to attack the enemy. Examples include misidentifying the target as hostile, cross-fire while engaging an enemy, long range ranging errors or inaccuracy. Accidental fire not intended to attack the enemy, and deliberate firing on one's own troops for disciplinary reasons, is not called friendly fire; nor is unintentional harm to non-combatants or structures, which is sometimes referred to as collateral damage. Training accidents and bloodless incidents also do not qualify as friendly fire in terms of casualty reporting.

The title chief of staff identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a principal staff officer (PSO), who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide-de-camp to an important individual, such as a president, or a senior military officer, or leader of a large organization.

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Montenotte 1796 Campaign Order of Battle

In the Montenotte Campaign between 10 and 28 April 1796 General Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army of Italy broke the link between Feldzeugmeister Johann Peter Beaulieu's Austrian army and Feldmarschallleutnant Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi's Sardinian army. In subsequent engagements, the French defeated the Austrians, pursued Colli to the west, and forced the Sardinians to withdraw from the First Coalition against France. Actions were fought at Voltri on 10 April, Monte Negino (Legino) on 11 April, Montenotte on 12 April, Millesimo on 13 April, Dego on 14–15 April, Ceva on 16 April, San Michele Mondovi on 19 April, and Mondovì on 21 April.

Amédée Emmanuel François Laharpe French general

Amédée Emmanuel François Laharpe fought in the armies of the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars, led a division in Italy under Napoleon Bonaparte, and died after being hit by friendly fire.

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.

The Battle of Borghetto, near Valeggio sul Mincio in the Veneto of northern Italy, took place during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. On 30 May 1796, a French army led by General Napoleon Bonaparte forced a crossing of the Mincio River in the face of opposition from an Austrian army commanded by Feldzeugmeister Johann Peter Beaulieu. This action compelled the Austrian army to retreat north up the Adige valley to Trento, leaving the fortress of Mantua to be besieged by the French.

Claude Dallemagne French general

Claude Dallemagne started his career in the French army under the Bourbons, fought in the American Revolutionary War, rose in rank to become a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, took part in the 1796 Italian campaign under Napoleon Bonaparte, and held military posts during the Napoleonic Wars.

Karl Philipp Sebottendorf van der Rose enrolled in the Austrian army at the age of 18, became a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, and commanded a division against Napoleon Bonaparte in several notable battles during the Italian campaign of 1796.

The Battle of Voltri was an engagement occurring on 10 April 1796 during the French Revolutionary Wars and taking place in Voltri, a suburb of Genoa, Italy.

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.

References

  1. Carlo Botta, Storia d'Italia dal 1789 al 1814
  2. Chandler Dictionary, p. 153.
  3. Chandler Campaigns, p 78
  4. Boycott-Brown, p 299
  5. Boycott-Brown, p 300-301
  6. Boycott-Brown, p 302
  7. Chandler Dictionary, p 153
  8. Boycott-Brown, p 303-304

Bibliography

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

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

Coordinates: 45°09′00″N9°42′00″E / 45.1500°N 9.7000°E / 45.1500; 9.7000