Battle of Lodi

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Battle of Lodi
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
General Bonaparte giving orders at the Battle of Lodi.jpg
General Bonaparte gives his orders, in The Battle of Lodi, by Louis-François, Baron Lejeune
Date10 May 1796
Location
Lodi, present-day Italy
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg  France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Habsburg Monarchy
Commanders and leaders
Napoleon Bonaparte Johann Beaulieu
Karl Sebottendorf
Strength
15,500 infantry
2,000 cavalry
30 guns
9,500
14 guns [1]
Casualties and losses
At least 350 [2] 153 killed or wounded
1,700 captured
16 guns [3]

The Battle of Lodi was fought on 10 May 1796 between French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte and an Austrian rear guard led by Karl Philipp Sebottendorf at Lodi, Lombardy. The rear guard was defeated, but the main body of Johann Peter Beaulieu's Austrian Army had time to retreat.

French Revolutionary Army

The French Revolutionary Army was the French force that fought the French Revolutionary Wars from 1792 to 1802. These armies were characterised by their revolutionary fervour, their poor equipment and their great numbers. Although they experienced early disastrous defeats, the revolutionary armies successfully expelled foreign forces from French soil and then overran many neighboring countries, establishing client republics. Leading generals included Jourdan, Bonaparte, Masséna and Moreau.

Habsburg Monarchy Former monarchy in Europe from 1282 to 1918

Habsburg Monarchy is an umbrella term used by historians for the lands and kingdoms of the House of Habsburg, especially for those of the Austrian branch. Although from 1438 until 1806 the head of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the empire itself is not considered a part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

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.

Contents

Order of battle

French Army

French Army: General Napoleon Bonaparte (15,500 infantry, 2,000 cavalry) [4]

André Masséna French military commander

André Masséna, 1st Duke of Rivoli, 1st Prince of 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.

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.

Marc Antoine de Beaumont French general

Marc Antoine Bonnin de la Bonninière de Beaumont a French nobleman, became a page to the king and joined the army of the Old Regime. He stayed in the army during the French Revolution and narrowly escaped being executed. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought in the 1796 Italian campaign under Napoleon Bonaparte, leading the cavalry at Lodi and Castiglione. In 1799 he was wounded in Italy but fought there again in late 1800.

Austrian Army

Austrian-Neapolitan Army: Beaulieu (not present)

Josef Philipp Vukassovich Austrian general

Baron Josef Philipp Vukassovich was a Croatian soldier who joined the army of Habsburg Monarchy and fought against both Ottoman Empire and the First French Republic. During the French Revolutionary Wars, he commanded a brigade in the 1796–1797 Italian campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte. He led a division during the Napoleonic Wars and received a fatal wound in action.

Gerhard Ritter von Rosselmini or Gerhard Rosselmini or Gerhard Roselmini became a general officer in the Austrian army during the French Revolutionary Wars and fought in several actions against Napoleon Bonaparte's French army during the 1796 Italian campaign.

Johann Mészáros von Szoboszló Austrian general

Johann Mészáros von Szoboszló joined the Habsburg army in 1756 and fought the Prussians, Ottoman Turks, and French during a long military career. During the French Revolutionary Wars, he fought in several campaigns. He commanded a division in the 1796-1797 Italian campaign against the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian Uhlan regiment from 1792 to 1797 and a Hussar regiment from 1797 to 1801.

Battle

The French passing the bridge, (Musee de la Revolution francaise). Bataille du pont de Lodi, Musee de la Revolution francaise.jpg
The French passing the bridge, (Musée de la Révolution française).
After seizing the bridge over the Adda, the French defeated the Austrians and proceeded to occupy Milan Myrbach-Battle of Lodi.jpg
After seizing the bridge over the Adda, the French defeated the Austrians and proceeded to occupy Milan

The French advance guard caught up with Josef Vukassovich's Austrian rear-guard at about 9 am on 10 May and after a clash followed them towards Lodi. Vukassovich was soon relieved by Gerhard Rosselmini's covering force near the town. The town's defences were not strong, the defenders were few, and the French were able to get inside and make their way towards the bridge. The span was defended from the far bank by nine battalions of infantry arrayed in two lines and fourteen guns. The Austrian general in command at Lodi, Sebottendorf, also had four squadrons of Neapolitan cavalry at his disposal, giving him a total of 6,577 men, who were mostly completely exhausted after a hasty forced march. Sebottendorf decided that it was inadvisable to retire in daylight, and opted to defend the crossing until nightfall. [7]

One eye-witness (a grenadier called Vigo-Roussillon) stated that the Austrians had men attempting to destroy the bridge, but that the French stopped their efforts by bringing up guns to fire along its length. It should have been fairly easy to prevent a French crossing because the bridge was wooden, and could have been burnt. It was about 200 yards long, and was a very simple structure consisting of piles driven into the river bed every few yards, with beams laid to form a roadway.[ citation needed ]

The French advance guard was not strong enough to try to cross the bridge, so several hours passed while further French forces came up. During the afternoon, a violent cannonade began, as French guns arrived and were positioned to fire across the river. It has been suggested that Bonaparte was personally involved in directing some of the guns, and that his troops began to refer to him as le petit caporal (the little corporal) because of this,[ citation needed ] but there is no contemporary evidence to back this up.

Eventually, at about 6 pm, the French prepared for an attack, with Marc Antoine de Beaumont's cavalry being sent to ford the river upstream, and a column consisting of the 2nd battalion of carabiniers (elite light infantry) being readied inside the walls of the town. The carabiniers then stormed out of the gates and onto the bridge. Vigo-Roussillon stated that the enemy artillery fired one salvo when the troops were part-way across, causing numerous casualties, at which point the column wavered and stopped, but a number of senior French officers rushed to the head of the column and led it forward again. These officers included André Masséna, Louis Berthier, Jean Lannes, Jean-Baptiste Cervoni, and Claude Dallemagne. [8] (Some authorities suggest that the French retreated and attacked again, but an important Austrian source supports the thesis of a single attack.)[ citation needed ]

Some of the French climbed down the piles and waded through the water, firing as they went. The Austrian troops were already exhausted from hours of marching and fighting without food, probably demoralised by the French cannonade, and also seem to have been worried about being cut off by the French cavalry. Their morale collapsed as the carabiniers rushed towards them, and a hasty retreat ensued, the fugitives making the most of the gathering dark to make their escape towards Crema, though some brave units discouraged the French from pursuing too closely. Oberst Count Attems of Terzi Infantry Regiment # 16 was killed covering the successful, though costly withdrawal. [9]

Austrian losses were 21 officers, 5,200 men, and 235 horses killed, wounded, or captured. In addition, 12 cannons, 2 howitzers and 30 ammunition wagons had been lost. French losses were around 1,000.

Aftermath

The Battle of Lodi was not a decisive engagement since the Austrian army had successfully escaped. But it became a central element in the Napoleonic legend and, according to Napoleon himself, contributed to convincing him that he was superior to other generals and that his destiny would lead him to achieve great things. [10]

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References

Footnotes

  1. Smith, p 113. Smith lists strengths of both armies.
  2. Chandler, p 178
  3. Chandler, p 180
  4. Smith, p 113. Smith's order of battle incorrectly lists Serurier's division.
  5. Chandler, p 252-253
  6. Boycott-Brown, p 310. This author gives the Austrian OOB in detail.
  7. Boycott-Brown, p 310-311
  8. Boycott-Brown, p 314
  9. Boycott-Brown, p 314-315
  10. Philip G. Dwyer, ‘Napoleon Bonaparte as Hero and Saviour: Image, Rhetoric and Behaviour in the Construction of a Legend’, French History, 28 (2004), 379-403; p.382

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Coordinates: 45°19′00″N9°30′00″E / 45.3167°N 9.5000°E / 45.3167; 9.5000