The Battle of Maida on 4 July 1806 was a battle between the British expeditionary force and a First French Empire division outside the town of Maida in Calabria, Italy during the Napoleonic Wars. John Stuart led 5,200 British troops to victory over about 5,400 French soldiers under Jean Reynier, inflicting significant losses while incurring relatively few casualties. Maida is located in the toe of Italy, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Catanzaro.
The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.
Maida is a town and comune in the province of Catanzaro, in the Calabria region of southern Italy. The British routed the French in the Battle of Maida in 1806, as part of the War of the Third Coalition.
In early 1806, the French invaded and overran the Kingdom of Naples, forcing King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and his government to flee to Sicily. The Calabrians revolted against their new conquerors and Stuart's expeditionary force tried to exploit the unrest by raiding the coast. While ashore, the British encountered Reynier's division and the two sides engaged in battle. The 19th-century historians presented the action as a typical fight between French columns and British lines. This view of the battle has been called into doubt by at least one modern historian who argued that the French deployed into lines. Nobody questions the result which was a one-sided British tactical victory.
The Kingdom of Naples comprised that part of the Italian Peninsula south of the Papal States between 1282 and 1816. It was created as a result of the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282–1302), when the island of Sicily revolted and was conquered by the Crown of Aragon, becoming a separate Kingdom of Sicily. Naples continued to be officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily, the name of the formerly unified kingdom. For much of its existence, the realm was contested between French and Spanish dynasties. In 1816, it was reunified with the island kingdom of Sicily once again to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Ferdinand I, was the King of the Two Sicilies from 1816, after his restoration following victory in the Napoleonic Wars. Before that he had been, since 1759, Ferdinand IV of the Kingdom of Naples and Ferdinand III of the Kingdom of Sicily. He was also King of Gozo. He was deposed twice from the throne of Naples: once by the revolutionary Parthenopean Republic for six months in 1799 and again by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.
After the battle, Stuart captured some isolated garrisons in Calabria and was transported back to Sicily by the Royal Navy. Two weeks after the battle, the city of Gaeta fell to the French after a long siege. While Stuart succeeded in preventing a French invasion of Sicily and sustained the revolt in Calabria, he missed an opportunity to assist the defenders of Gaeta.
Calabria, known in antiquity as Bruttium, is a region in Southern Italy.
The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.
Gaeta is a city and comune in the province of Latina, in Lazio, central Italy. Set on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta, it is 120 kilometres from Rome and 80 km (50 mi) from Naples.
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Following the decision by King Ferdinand to side with the Third Coalition against Napoleon I of France, French forces had invaded the Kingdom of Naples in the spring of 1806, after the British and Russian forces supposedly defending the kingdom evacuated Italy altogether: the British to Sicily and the Russians to Corfu. The Neapolitan-Sicilian army was crushed at the Battle of Campo Tenese, forcing Ferdinand to flee to Sicily and concede the Neapolitan crown to the French. Napoleon then installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Neapolitan throne.
The Battle of Campo Tenese saw two divisions of the Imperial French Army of Naples led by Jean Reynier attack the left wing of the Royal Neapolitan Army under Roger de Damas. Though the defenders were protected by field fortifications, a French frontal attack combined with a turning movement rapidly overran the position and routed the Neapolitans with heavy losses. The action occurred at Campotenese, a little mountain village in the municipality of Morano Calabro in the north of Calabria. The battle was fought during the War of the Third Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
Joseph-Napoléon "Joe" Bonaparte, born Giuseppe di Buonaparte was a French diplomat and nobleman, the older brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily, and later King of Spain. After the fall of Napoleon, Joseph styled himself Comte de Survilliers.
By July 1806, the French had crushed all Neapolitan resistance except for the uprising in Calabria and a garrison at Gaeta. There, André Masséna's force become embroiled in a lengthy siege. The British, rather than supporting the defenders or relieving the siege, decided to organise an expedition into Calabria to further the insurrection against the French, and prevent any potential invasion of Sicily.
The Siege of Gaeta saw the fortress city of Gaeta and its Neapolitan garrison under Louis of Hesse-Philippsthal besieged by an Imperial French corps led by André Masséna. After a prolonged defense in which Hesse was badly wounded, Gaeta surrendered and its garrison was granted generous terms by Masséna.
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.
A British force of over 5,000 men commanded by Major-General John Stuart sailed from Messina on 27 June, landing in the Gulf of Sant'Eufemia three days later. At the same time a French force under the command of General Jean Reynier, the only French force in Calabria, moved to confront them. The exact size of the French force is unknown.Contemporary French sources range between 5050 and 5450. Some later historians have suggested a force as large as 6400 but the most recent estimates are closer to 5400.
Sir John Stuart, 1st and only Count of Maida in the Kingdom of Naples, was a British Lieutenant-General during the Napoleonic Wars.
Jean Louis Ebénézer Reynier rose in rank to become a French army general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division under Napoleon Bonaparte in the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria. During the Napoleonic Wars he continued to hold important combat commands, eventually leading an army corps during the Peninsular War in 1810-1811 and during the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1812-1813.
On the morning of 4 July, Reynier broke camp and advanced toward level terrain along the shallow Lomato River. Believing his army superior in numbers, Stuart marched toward the same location nearly parallel to the French column. As both forces deployed from march column, they ended up in echelon formation. On the French side, the left flank was leading, while on the British side the right flank was leading. On the French left, General of Brigade Louis Fursy Henri Compère was echeloned forward, with the 1st Light Infantry Regiment on the left and the 42nd Line Infantry Regiment to its right. The center, commanded by General of Brigade Luigi Gaspare Peyri, included two battalions of Poles and the 4th battalion of the 1st Swiss Regiment. On the right flank, General of Brigade Antoine Digonet trailed the other two formations. Digonet's command comprised the 23rd Light Infantry and 9th Chasseurs à Cheval Regiments and the field guns. Opposing the French was Colonel James Kempt's Advanced Guard on the British right flank, echeloned forward. To Kempt's left rear was Colonel Wroth Palmer Acland's 2nd Brigade. Well to Acland's left rear marched Colonel John Oswald's 3rd Brigade, which formed the center. Colonel Lowry Cole's 1st Brigade deployed on the left flank with the artillery. Cole was closer to the French than Oswald. Off conducting diversionary actions was the 20th Foot, which would be late.
Only when the armies were nearly in contact did Stuart realize that he was outnumbered, but he allowed the battle to commence without changing any orders. Kempt detached the Royal Corsican Rangers and Sicilians as skirmishers. These got into a brawl with Compère's voltigeurs (light companies) and fell back. Kempt sent the flankers of the 35th Foot and the light company of the 20th Foot to help. Once the British troops halted the French skirmishers, they rejoined Kempt. At this time, Compère launched the 1st Light at Kempt, while the 42nd Line aimed to strike Acland. Since it had a head start, 1st Light's attack columns met Kempt's troops first. At 150 yards, the Advanced Guard fired its first volley but the 1st Light continued to advance. Kempt's second volley was fired at a range of 80 yards, wounding Compère, who nevertheless urged his men on. Though disordered by their losses, the French closed to 20 yards, where they absorbed a third volley. This fire completely broke up the 1st Light and its soldiers turned and fled. Compère, who literally rode into the British line, and others were captured in the brief melée that followed.
As the 1st Light's attack collapsed, Kempt's men charged their shaken enemies. As the French formation disintegrated, the Advanced Guard went out of control, chasing the fleeing French as far as Maida. Meanwhile, the 42nd advanced on Acland in two battalion columns. The British fired at a range of 300 yards and blazed away until the French attack ground to a halt. Aware that their neighboring regiment was fleeing from the battlefield, the 42nd also decamped.Seeing his left wing in rout, Reynier sent Peyri's brigade to face Acland. After a brisk action, the Poles were routed at bayonet point. The Swiss, however, maintained order and gave a good account of themselves. After Stuart sent reinforcements into the fight, the Swiss battalion fell back to join Digonet's brigade. Acland and Cole now advanced on Digonet and the Swiss. The 9th Chasseurs charged, forcing the British battalions to form square. Oswald's brigade appeared on the scene, but Digonet still held his ground, supported by the cavalry and the guns. Finally, the 20th Foot arrived from the coast and began firing at the exposed right flank of the 23rd Light. At this, Digonet and the Swiss began an orderly retreat and the battle was over.
Stuart's 5,196-man force suffered 45 killed and 282 wounded for a total of 327 casualties. Out of a total of 6,440 soldiers, Reynier lost 490 killed and 870 wounded. In addition, the British captured 722 French soldiers and four cannon.Another authority asserts that the French saved their guns. The 1st Light Infantry lost 50% of its strength between killed, wounded, and prisoners. The action involving the 1st Light Infantry lasted only fifteen minutes.
Stuart ordered Kempt's Advanced Guard to observe Reynier's withdrawal while he and Sidney Smith discussed future actions. On 6 July, they decided to move south and pick off Reynier's garrisons.That day, a half-battalion of the Polish-Italian Legion in the town of Vibo Valentia (Monteleone di Calabria) surrendered to Stuart. On 7 July, three more companies of Poles laid down their arms in Tropea when summoned by Captain Edward Fellowes in the frigate HMS Apollo . Reggio Calabria surrendered on 9 July to Brigadier General Broderick with 1,200 British and Neapolitan troops. The allies were transported from Sicily in the frigate HMS Amphion under Captain William Hoste. On this occasion, 632 soldiers from the 1st Light and 42nd Line Infantry Regiments were captured.
Marching south, Stuart reached Reggio on 23 July. Before returning to Sicily, he and Smith mopped up all of Reynier's garrisons in southern Calabria.On 24 July, the fortress of Scilla and 281 soldiers of the 23rd Light Infantry surrendered to Oswald. The British had one battalion each of the 10th Foot, 21st Foot, and Chasseurs Britanniques. The 3rd battalion of the Polish-Italian Legion, 500 strong, surrendered to Captain Hoste in the Amphion and the 78th Foot at Crotone on 28 July. Stuart received the Order of the Bath and an annuity of £1,000 a year from the British crown, and the title Count of Maida from King Ferdinand, for the victory.
The allies suffered a major setback on 18 July when the long Siege of Gaeta ended. After the French siege artillery breached Gaeta's walls, the Neapolitan garrison capitulated. By marching south, Stuart and Smith missed a chance to intervene in the siege or to land at Naples and attempt to overthrow Joseph's government. The surrender freed Masséna's force for operations in Calabria. In Stuart's defence, his expedition had successfully accomplished its main objective, which was to prevent any early invasion of Sicily. He also lengthened the revolt, which the French would not bring under control until 1807.
The political situation in southern Italy would remain unchanged until 1815, with the British and Sicilian troops guarding the Bourbon King Ferdinand in Sicily and the Napoleonic King of Naples controlling the mainland. The British failed to use their naval superiority around Italy and did little to harass the French on the mainland. In 1808, Joachim Murat became the King of Naples after Joseph Bonaparte was sent to govern Spain. Murat made various attempts to cross the Strait of Sicily, which all ended in failure, despite once managing to secure a foothold in Sicily. It was not until Austria defeated Murat in the Neapolitan War in 1815, that King Ferdinand was finally restored to the Neapolitan throne.
Maida Hill and Maida Vale in London are both named after this battle.
The Royal Navy named the recently captured Jupiter HMS Maida.
|British order of battle||French order of battle|
It is traditionally thought that in the Battle of Maida the British deployed in a line while the French attacked in columns, allowing the British to fire full strength volleys into the French columns, while only the first two ranks of the French could fire, similar to Crossing the T in naval combat. However, modern historians dispute this claim. The military historian James R. Arnold argues that:
The British fired volleys then charged with the bayonet, and the French, failing to withstand the onslaught, broke and fled, losing heavily in the rout.
In the Battle of Vimeiro on 21 August 1808, the British under General Arthur Wellesley defeated the French under Major-General Jean-Andoche Junot near the village of Vimeiro, near Lisbon, Portugal during the Peninsular War. This battle put an end to the first French invasion of Portugal.
General Sir James Kempt, was a British Army officer, who served in the Netherlands, Egypt, Italy, the Peninsula, and British North America during the Napoleonic Wars. He led a British brigade at the Battle of Waterloo and later became Governor General of Canada.
The 81st Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army, raised in 1793. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot to form the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1881.
The Battle of Sabugal was an engagement of the Peninsular War which took place on 3 April 1811 between Anglo-Portuguese forces under Arthur Wellesley and French troops under the command of Marshal André Masséna. It was the last of many skirmishes between Masséna's retreating French forces and those of the Anglo-Portuguese under Wellington, who were pursuing him after the failed 1810 French invasion of Portugal.
Paul Grenier joined the French royal army and rapidly rose to general officer rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division in the 1796-1797 campaign in southern Germany. During the 1800 campaign in the Electorate of Bavaria he was a wing commander. Beginning in 1809, in the Napoleonic Wars, Emperor Napoleon I entrusted him with corps commands in the Italian theater. A skilled tactician, he was one of the veteran generals who made the Napoleonic armies such a formidable foe to the other European powers. After the Bourbon Restoration he retired from the army and later went into politics. Grenier is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.
Louis Fursy Henri Compère was a French general of artillery in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
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The Battle of Mileto was a battle of the War of the Third Coalition. It occurred on 28 May 1807 in Calabria during an attempt by the Bourbon Kingdom of Sicily to re-conquer its possessions in continental Italy, known as the Kingdom of Naples. The battle ended in a victory for French forces under general Jean Reynier.
Alois Graf von Gavasini led a combat brigade in the armies of Habsburg Austria and the Austrian Empire during a remarkable number of battles in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. A native of Bonn, he offered his services to Austria and won an award for bravery in 1790. While a field officer in the Italian campaign, he led the rear guard at Primolano in September 1796. Badly outnumbered by the French, he and his soldiers put up a vigorous fight until he was wounded and captured. At Arcole in November 1796, he commanded a brigade on the field of battle against Napoleon Bonaparte's French army. Promoted to general officer in the spring of 1800, he led a powerful brigade at Hohenlinden during that year's fall campaign in Bavaria. Though the battle ended in a decisive defeat, Gavasini's troops fought well before being forced to retreat. The 1805 campaign in Italy found him directing a reserve brigade at Caldiero. After briefly retiring, the warrior returned to lead a brigade at the battles of Sacile, Piave River, and Graz during the 1809 war. That year he retired from the army and did not return.
Pierre François Joseph Durutte joined the French army at the beginning of the French Revolutionary Wars. Rapidly promoted for feats of bravery under fire at Jemappes in 1792 and Hondschoote in 1793, he found himself appointed to serve as a staff officer. He distinguished himself during the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland in 1799 and received promotion to general officer. During the successful 1800 campaign he fought in Jean Victor Marie Moreau's army. Promoted again in 1803, his career then stalled because of his association with the banished Moreau and his unwillingness to see Napoleon Bonaparte as emperor.
Pierre-Louis Binet de Marcognet joined the French army in 1781 as an officer cadet and fought in the American Revolutionary War. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought in the Army of the Rhine and was wounded at First and Second Wissembourg. After being dismissed from the army for a year and a half for having noble blood, he resumed his military career and was wounded at Biberach and Kehl. Promoted to lead the 108th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade, he was in the thick of the fighting at Hohenlinden in 1800, where he was wounded and captured.
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The Invasion of Naples in January 1806 saw a French army led by Marshal André Masséna march from northern Italy into the Kingdom of Naples which was ruled by King Ferdinand IV. The Neapolitan army was vanquished at Campo Tenese and rapidly disintegrated. The invasion was eventually successful despite some setbacks, including the prolonged Siege of Gaeta, the British victory at Maida, and a stubborn guerrilla war by the peasantry against the French. Total success eluded the French because Ferdinand withdrew to his domain in Sicily where he was protected by the Royal Navy and a British Army garrison. In 1806 Emperor Napoleon appointed his brother Joseph Bonaparte to rule over southern Italy as king.
Antoine Digonet commanded a French brigade during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. He joined the French Royal Army and fought in the American Revolutionary War as a foot soldier. In 1792 he was appointed officer of a volunteer battalion. He fought the Spanish in the War of the Pyrenees and was promoted to general officer. Later he was transferred to fight French royalists in the War in the Vendée. In 1800 he was assigned to the Army of the Rhine and led a brigade at Stockach, Messkirch and Biberach. Shortly after, he was transferred to Italy. In 1805 he fought under André Masséna at Caldiero. He participated in the 1806 Invasion of Naples and led his troops against the British at Maida where his brigade put up a sturdy resistance. After briefly serving in the 1809 war, he took command of Modena and died there of illness in 1811. He never married.