Battle of Piave River (1809)

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Battle of Piave River (1809)
Part of the War of the Fifth Coalition
L'armee francaise franchissant la Piave en 1809.jpg
The French army crossing the Piave in 1809.
Date8 May 1809
Location
Result Franco-Italian victory
Belligerents
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg French Empire
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg  Kingdom of Italy
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austrian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Eugène de Beauharnais Archduke John
Strength
44,800 [1] [2] 24,120 [3] -28,000 [4]
Casualties and losses
2,000 [1] 3,896
15 guns [1]

The Battle of Piave River was fought on 8 May 1809 between the Franco-Italian army under the command of Eugène de Beauharnais and an Austrian army led by Archduke John of Austria. The Austrian commander made a stand behind the Piave River but he suffered a defeat at the hands of his numerically superior foes. The combat took place near Nervesa della Battaglia, Italy during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars.

Eugène de Beauharnais French general and adoptive son of Napoleon I

Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg was the first child and only son of Alexandre de Beauharnais and Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, first wife of Napoleon I.

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.

Piave (river) river in Italy

The Piave is a river in northern Italy. It begins in the Alps and flows southeast for 220 kilometres (140 mi) into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Venice. One of its tributaries is the Boite.

Contents

The initial Austrian invasion of Venetia succeeded in driving the Franco-Italian defenders back to Verona. At the beginning of May, news of Austrian defeats in Bavaria and inferiority in numbers caused Archduke John to begin retreating to the northeast. When he heard that his enemies were crossing the Piave, the Austrian commander turned back to give battle, intending to slow Eugène's pursuit of his army.

Verona Comune in Veneto, Italy

Verona is a city on the Adige river in Veneto, Italy, with 258,108 inhabitants. It is one of the seven provincial capitals of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third largest in northeast Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona covers an area of 1,426 km2 (550.58 sq mi) and has a population of 714,274 inhabitants. It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, because of its artistic heritage and several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheater built by the Romans.

Bavaria State in Germany

Bavaria, officially the Free State of Bavaria, is a landlocked federal state of Germany, occupying its southeastern corner. With an area of 70,550.19 square kilometres, Bavaria is the largest German state by land area. Its territory comprises roughly a fifth of the total land area of Germany. With 13 million inhabitants, it is Germany's second-most-populous state after North Rhine-Westphalia. Bavaria's main cities are Munich and Nuremberg.

Eugène ordered his vanguard across the river early in the morning. It soon ran into vigorous Austrian resistance, but the arrival of French cavalry stabilized the situation by mid-morning. Rapidly rising waters hampered the buildup of French infantry reinforcements and prevented a significant portion of Eugène's army from crossing at all. In the late afternoon, Eugène launched his main attack which turned John's left flank and finally overran his main line of defense. Damaged but not destroyed, the Austrians continued their withdrawal into Carinthia (in modern-day Austria) and Carniola (in modern-day Slovenia).

Duchy of Carinthia

The Duchy of Carinthia was a duchy located in southern Austria and parts of northern Slovenia. It was separated from the Duchy of Bavaria in 976, and was the first newly created Imperial State after the original German stem duchies.

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.

Carniola Historical region in Slovenia

Carniola was a historical region that comprised parts of present-day Slovenia. Although as a whole it does not exist anymore, Slovenes living within the former borders of the region still tend to identify with its traditional parts Upper Carniola, Lower Carniola, and to a lesser degree with Inner Carniola. In 1991, 47% of the population of Slovenia lived within the borders of the former Duchy of Carniola.

Background

At the beginning of the 1809 conflict between the Austrian Empire and the First French Empire, General of Cavalry Archduke John led his Army of Inner Austria in an invasion of northeastern Italy. Emperor Napoleon I appointed his stepson Eugène to be Viceroy of Italy and commander of the Army of Italy. On 16 April, John defeated Eugène at the Battle of Sacile near the Livenza River. During this time an Austrian force led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann Gabriel Chasteler de Courcelles advanced south from the Tyrol, capturing Trento on 23 April and Roveredo on 26 April. In the face of these two threats, Eugène's Franco-Italian army withdrew 130 kilometres (81 mi) from Sacile to the Adige River. [5]

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.

First French Empire Empire of Napoleon I of France between 1804–1815

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.

A viceroy is an official who runs a country, colony, city, province, or sub-national state, in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roy, meaning "king". A viceroy's territory may be called a viceroyalty, though this term is not always applied. The adjective form is viceregal, less often viceroyal. The term vicereine is sometimes used to indicate a female viceroy suo jure, although viceroy can serve as a gender-neutral term. Vicereine is more commonly used to indicate a viceroy's wife.

Archduke John Archduke John from Napoleonic Era.jpg
Archduke John

Once the Franco-Italian army arrived near Verona it gathered reinforcements. Eugène also reorganized his army, assigning Generals of Division Jacques MacDonald, Paul Grenier, and Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers to command his infantry corps, and General of Division Emmanuel Grouchy to lead his cavalry. Baraguey d'Hilliers halted Chasteler's drive in the upper Adige valley. Because Archduke John sent a division to blockade Venice, his army arrived on the Adige with only about 30,000 troops, much fewer than Eugène. Napoleon's victory in the Battle of Eckmühl and the subsequent retreat of Archduke Charles, caused Emperor Francis II to order John to fall back and defend Austria. [6] Anticipating an Austrian withdrawal, Eugène created a Light Brigade consisting of three voltiguer battalions, a squadron of light cavalry, and two cannon. The voltiguer units were formed by taking the skirmisher companies from infantry battalions. Eugène placed this pursuit force under General of Brigade Armand Louis Debroc. [7]

Jacques MacDonald Marshal of France

Étienne Jacques Joseph Alexandre MacDonald, 1st Duke of Taranto was a Marshal of the Empire and military leader during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Paul Grenier French general

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 Baraguey dHilliers French general

Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers was a French Army general who fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was the father of Achille Baraguey d'Hilliers, a Marshal of France, and the father-in-law of General Damrémont, governor-general of Algeria.

Eugene de Beauharnais EugeneBeau.jpg
Eugène de Beauharnais

Archduke John deployed his right flank behind the small Alpone River between Soave and Albaredo d'Adige, near the old Arcole battlefield, while his left flank defended the Adige south to Legnago. [8] In a series of clashes between 27 and 30 April, John successfully fended off Eugène's efforts to turn his north flank in the Battle of Caldiero. Austrian losses numbered 700 killed and wounded, plus 872 captured or missing. The French suffered about 1,400 casualties. [9]

Soave, Veneto Comune in Veneto, Italy

Soave is a small comune of the Veneto region in the Province of Verona, northern Italy, with a population of roughly 6,800 people.

Albaredo dAdige Comune in Veneto, Italy

Albaredo d'Adige is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Verona in the Italian region Veneto, located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of Venice and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Verona. It is located on the river Adige. As of 2004, it had a population of 5,138 and an area of 28.2 square kilometres (10.9 sq mi).

Battle of Arcole battle

The Battle of Arcole or Battle of Arcola was a battle fought between French and Austrian forces 25 kilometres (16 mi) southeast of Verona during the War of the First Coalition, a part of the French Revolutionary Wars.

On 1 May, Archduke John ordered his army to withdraw to the east. [10] In several clashes on 2 May, the Austrian rear guard held off the French, inflicting 400 killed and wounded including Debroc wounded. Austrian losses were only 200 killed and wounded, but the French rounded up an additional 850 stragglers and sick. [11] The Austrians paused on the Brenta River until 5 May, then continued retreating to the Piave. Eugène followed while sending the division of General of Division Pierre François Joseph Durutte along a more southerly route in order to relieve the blockade of Venice. When he reached that city, Durutte was reinforced by 4,000 troops from the garrison and marched to join Eugène on the Piave. [10] The Light Brigade having proved too weak to pursue effectively, Eugène strengthened it into a Light Division by adding three additional voltiguer battalions, attaching an entire cavalry regiment, and boosting its artillery complement to four cannons. Replacing Debroc, the French army commander gave the Light Division to General of Brigade Joseph Marie, Count Dessaix. [12]

On 7 May, the Austrian army camped at Conegliano, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) northeast of the river, after burning all the bridges. Eugène's cavalry reached the riverbank and scouted the crossing places. [10] The 8th Chasseurs crossed to the east bank and did some reconnoitering. [13] Receiving notice that the French were nearby, John marched his troops back to defend the river line. [10]

Prelude

The Piave River 1809 Order of Battle lists the units and organization of the Franco-Italian and Austrian armies in detail.

Forces

MacDonald's corps consisted of two French infantry divisions, those of Generals of Division Jean-Baptiste Broussier and Jean Maximilien Lamarque. Grenier's corps included the French infantry divisions of Durutte and General of Brigade Louis Abbé. Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers only had General of Division Achille Fontanelli's Italian infantry division available. His other Franco-Italian division under General of Division Jean-Baptiste Dominique Rusca was detached. Grouchy's cavalry reserve included General of Division Louis Michel Antoine Sahuc's light cavalry division, General of Division Charles Randon de Pully's dragoon division, and Grouchy's own dragoon division which was led by General of Brigade François Guérin d'Etoquigny. In addition to Dessaix's Advance Guard, Eugène held three units in reserve under his personal command. These were General of Division Jean-Barthélemot Sorbier's reserve artillery, General of Division Jean Mathieu Seras' French infantry division, and General of Brigade Teodoro Lecchi's 2,500-man Italian Guard. [14] [15]

Feldmarschall-Leutnant Albert Gyulai's VIII Armeekorps was made up of the infantry brigades of Generals-Major Hieronymus Karl Graf von Colloredo-Mansfeld and Anton Gajoli. Albert's brother Feldmarschall-Leutnant Ignaz Gyulai commanded the larger IX Armeekorps. This formation included the infantry brigades of Generals-Major Johann Kalnássy, Franz Marziani, Alois von Gavasini, Johann Peter Kleinmayer, and Ignaz Sebottendorf. Frimont's Advance Guard counted only the brigade of General-Major Ignaz Splényi. [16] [17] John massed most of his horsemen into an ad hoc cavalry division and placed it under the command of Feldmarschall-Leutnant Christian Wolfskeel von Reichenberg with General-Major Johann Hager von Altensteig as his second in command. [18] Anton Reisner's reserve artillery numbered 12 pieces in two 12-pound position batteries. [19]

Geography

Susegana from the hills SuseganaFromHills.jpg
Susegana from the hills

Eugène's cavalry found three places to ford the Piave, at Nervesa on the north flank, at Priula in the center, and at San Nichiol, near Cimadolmo on the south flank. [10] The area between Conegliano and the Piave is flat, but just to the north of Nervesa and Conegliano the terrain becomes hilly. [note 1]

Most of the villages in Gunther E. Rothenberg's maps of the battle [20] can be located on modern maps. However, since 1809 a few places either changed names, moved to a new location, vanished due to the river's action, or were destroyed in the Battle of the Piave River in 1918. The changes are listed as follows. Susignano is now called Susegana. Santa Maria is near the Rothenberg map location of Campana. Ponte della Priula appears to have moved from its map position to a place 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) northwest, closer to Nervesa. San Nichiol has disappeared. [21] In 1809 a stream or canal known as the Piavisella began near Barco and ran west to east through Mandre, Santa Maria (Campana), and Tezze di Piave before turning northeast. [20] A dike ran east and west about 800 meters south of the Piavisella. Both the dike and stream played important parts in the battle. [22] [note 2] Two nearby canals known as the Piavesella and Piavesella di Maserada lie on the south bank of the Piave, while the Piavisella of the 1809 battle is located on the north bank. [20]

Battle

Battle of Piave showing afternoon positions Battle of Piave River 1809.JPG
Battle of Piave showing afternoon positions

Believing that the bulk of Archduke John's army lay at Conegliano, Eugène planned an ambitious assault crossing of the Piave. He did not realize that the Army of Inner Austria was deployed only 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north of the river. In fact, Albert Gyulai's VIII Armeekorps was ranged between Susegana and Santa Lucia di Piave, while Ignaz Gyulai had the IX Armeekorps in line between Santa Lucia and Bocca di Strada just to the east. Eugène greatly outnumbered John, who had between 24,120 [3] and 28,000 troops at the Piave. [4]

Understanding that his defeat at Sacile was caused by poor preparation, Eugène made sure that he had most of his army assembled. He planned to feint at the Nervesa ford with Seras' Reserve division while Dessaix's Light Division (Advance Guard) led the main attack at the Priula ford. He ordered Grouchy to cross with three divisions of cavalry at the San Nichiol crossing and swing left to help Dessaix's effort. To provide the Light Division sufficient fire support, Eugène massed several batteries on the south bank and placed them under the command of his artillery chief Sorbier. If Dessaix successfully carved out a bridgehead, Eugène planned to send the corps of MacDonald and Baraguey d'Hilliers across the Piave. Grenier's corps waited at San Nichiol to follow Grouchy's cavalry. [22]

At 7:00 AM, Dessaix crossed the river with nearly 5,000 troops. By this time, Archduke John's army was moving up behind the Piavisella stream, much closer than Eugène realized. [22] The archduke posted the VIII Armeekorps on the west flank with Frimont's infantry, while the IX Armeekorps defended the east flank. [23] By 8:00 AM the Light Division was 400 meters south of the dike. Having massed virtually all his cavalry under Wolfskeel, he sent them charging at Dessaix's men. The French general reformed his soldiers into two large squares and repelled wave after wave of enemy horsemen. As Wolfskeel's disorganized troopers withdrew, a massed battery of 24 Austrian guns opened fire on the French. [22]

Jacques MacDonald MacDonald par Antoine Jean Gros.jpg
Jacques MacDonald

Deployed 800 yards from the French, these cannons were commanded by Reisner, Archduke John's chief of artillery. [24] The artillery barrage soon caused serious casualties in the vulnerable French squares. As some French troops began to shrink from the heavy fire, couriers raced off to get help. [25] Quickly, Eugène ordered twenty guns belonging to Broussier and Lamarque across the river. When the cannons arrived, the French formed their own 24-gun battery in front of the infantry and replied to Reisner's bombardment. [24] Wolfskeel asked for some infantry to be sent forward from the Piavisella line, but for some reason no help arrived. [22]

While Dessaix and Wolfskeel battled, Grouchy sent the divisions of Pully and Sahuc across the Piave at San Nichiol. The troopers encountered Kalnássy's IX Armeekorps brigade in the open and hustled the Austrians back to Cimadolmo and San Michele, where they took up a strong defensive position. Guérin d'Etoquigny's division crossed around 9:00 AM, allowing the other two divisions to move to the left in support of Dessaix. [22] By this time, the French artillery fire began to slacken. In their haste to help Dessaix, the French gunners had left their reserve ammunition behind. [26]

There are two accounts about what happened next. Having reorganized his horsemen, Wolfskeel returned to the attack around 10:00 AM. The Austrian cavalry trotted toward Dessaix's men in three lines. This time Sahuc's light horse and Pully's dragoons were waiting for them. The two French divisions countercharged, and the cavalry of both armies became embroiled in a terrific melee. [27]

Paul Grenier General Paul Grenier.JPG
Paul Grenier

A second account states that the French cavalry attacked first. Eugène sent Pully and Sahuc charging at the Austrian guns in a pincer attack. Under cover of the smoke from the two artilleries blasting away at each other, the French divisions struck Reisner's gun line from both flanks. While some horsemen began cutting down the gunners, the others galloped among the Austrian cavalry which was formed up behind the guns. [26] [24]

The results of the cavalry action are not disputed. A French dragoon killed Wolfskeel in personal combat, while his second-in-command Hager became a prisoner. Leaderless and outnumbered, the Austrian horsemen broke and fled. The Austrians brought away ten cannons but 14 cannons were captured by their enemies. [24] During the struggle Reisner was wounded and captured. [28]

Ignaz Gyulai Gyulai Ignaz.jpg
Ignaz Gyulai

The French cavalry pursued the routed Austrian troopers as far as Mandra and Santa Maria (Campana), where they came upon the brigades of Colloredo and Gajoli. [27] Pully's troopers tried to break the Austrian infantry squares but they were unsuccessful. [26] Unable to dent the Austrian line without support, the French horsemen fell back to the dike where they were joined by Dessaix's troops. Though the Piave began an alarming rise at this time, Eugène hewed to his plan of reinforcing the bridgehead. Around noon, MacDonald pushed three-quarters of Broussier's division and half of Lamarque's division across the river. While MacDonald began probing the Piavisella line, Grenier got part of Abbé's division across the river at San Nichiol. [27]

With Eugène trying to get more troops across the Piave before it drowned the fords and Archduke John organizing his defenses, the fighting died down after 1:00 PM. By 3:00 PM Eugène had to suspend all troop crossings because of dangerous high water conditions. By this time, all his cavalry and only half his infantry reached the north bank, with Baraguey d'Hilliers, Seras' division, the Italian Guard, and part of Durutte's division remaining on the south bank. If the battle turned against the French, they would be trapped with an unfordable river at their backs. But with the bulk of his badly shaken and outnumbered horsemen still rallying in the rear, Archduke John elected not to expose his foot soldiers to cavalry attack by ordering them forward. [27]

By this time, there were approximately 27,000 to 30,000 Franco-Italian troops in the bridgehead. [29] Assembling the available troops, Eugène planned to hurl MacDonald's corps, elements of Durutte's division, and Sahuc's division at the Piavisella line. Off to the right, the viceroy ordered Grenier to pin the left wing of IX Armeekorps at San Michele and Cimadolmo with Pully's and Guérin's cavalry and Abbé's infantry. The French attack got rolling in the late afternoon. Abbé's advance was counterattacked by squadrons of the Archduke Josef Hussar Regiment, the last unbroken Austrian horsemen on the field. Pully and Guérin quickly repulsed the gallant Austrian riposte and Kalnássy evacuated San Michele and Cimadolmo before Grenier's pressure. Kalnássy fell back to Tezze where he sturdily held his ground until evening, [30] suffering 1,200 casualties during the battle. [29]

MacDonald's attack was preceded by a bombardment from 24 guns. His attack breached the IX Armeekorps line and John was forced to commit his last reserve, Kleinmayer's grenadier brigade. These elite troops attacked, but were unable to halt MacDonald's offensive. On the left flank, Dessaix and Sahuc seized Barco while Macdonald took Santa Maria (Campana) and drove toward Bocca di Strada. On the right, Grenier finally dislodged Kalnássy from Tezze and let loose his two dragoon divisions. John's army finally broke and streamed north into Conegliano. As darkness fell, Eugène suspended the pursuit on a line from Vazzola to Susegana. [31]

Aftermath

Johann Frimont Johann Frimont.jpg
Johann Frimont

Archduke John retreated to Conegliano that night and soon had his troops on the road for Sacile. He managed the retrograde movement well. Eugène halted his advance at Bocca di Strada, deciding to wait until he could reunite his army. The French admitted only 700 casualties, but 2,000 is a more likely figure. The Austrians suffered 3,896 casualties, including 398 killed, 697 wounded, 1,681 captured, and 1,120 missing. The French captured 15 artillery pieces. [1] The dead included Wolfskeel. [32] On the extreme south flank, Kalnássy's brigade became separated from John's army and Grouchy's cavalry prevented him from rejoining John. Kalnássy rendezvoused with Feldmarschall-Leutnant Anton von Zach near Palmanova and the two retreated independently toward Ljubljana (Laibach). [33]

At Sacile, Archduke John made a serious blunder. He split his army into two parts, sending Ignaz Gyulai with most of the IX Armeekorps east to Ljubljana in Carniola and the VIII Armeekorps northeast to Villach in Carinthia. This dispersal of available Austrian troops facilitated Eugène's advance from Italy into the Austrian Empire. One authority wrote, "From the Piave to Hungary John's handling of the campaign was a failure." [4] Frimont, who led John's rearguard made a stand at San Daniele del Friuli on 11 May with 4,000 soldiers. Eugène and Dessaix carried out a double envelopment and inflicted about 2,000 casualties on their opponents. Franco-Italian losses were 200 to 800. [33] Despite this defeat, Frimont kept his rear guard intact and maintained its effectiveness. [34]

The next major action was the Battle of Tarvis from 15 to 18 May. The engagement included two actions where small garrisons of Grenz infantry heroically defended two blockhouses against overwhelming Franco-Italian forces. [35] This was followed by an Austrian disaster at the Battle of Sankt Michael on 25 May. [36] Eugène pursued John into Hungary where he defeated him at the Battle of Raab on 14 June before joining Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram on 5 and 6 July. [37] The last action of note in the theater was the Battle of Graz from 24 to 26 June. [38]

Notes

Footnotes
  1. This observation can be confirmed by referring to Google Earth.
  2. Neither the dike nor stream can be accurately located on modern satellite images.
Citations
  1. 1 2 3 4 Smith, p 300
  2. Bowden & Tarbox, p 112. This source lists 74,760 Franco-Italian troops "engaged" at Piave. This number seems excessive for two reasons. 1) The total includes Rusca's division which was not present according to the authors. 2) Schneid writes that 22,000 infantry and artillery never crossed to the north bank and therefore could not have been engaged, unless they belonged to Sorbier's artillery.
  3. 1 2 Bowden & Tarbox, p 114
  4. 1 2 3 Schneid, p 82
  5. Schneid, p 75
  6. Schneid, pp 77–78
  7. Epstein, p 84
  8. Schneid, p 78
  9. Smith, pp 294–295
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Schneid, p 79
  11. Smith, 297
  12. Epstein, p 87
  13. Epstein, p 90
  14. Schneid, pp 183–184
  15. Bowden & Tarbox, pp 110–112
  16. Bowden & Tarbox, p 113
  17. Smith, p 300. Smith added Sebottendorf's brigade, which is not mentioned by Schneid or Bowden & Tarbox.
  18. Schneid, p 185
  19. Bowden & Tarbox, pp 107–108. This source lists one 12-pdr position battery for each armeekorps at the outbreak of hostilities, but none for Piave. It is possible these two batteries were present at the Piave.
  20. 1 2 3 Rothenberg, pp 142–144
  21. Rothenberg, pp 142–144. The Rothenberg maps were compared to Google Earth.
  22. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Schneid, p 80
  23. Rothenberg, pp 142–144. This information is deduced from Rothenberg's battle maps.
  24. 1 2 3 4 Epstein, p 91
  25. Arnold, p 101
  26. 1 2 3 Arnold, p 102
  27. 1 2 3 4 Schneid, p 81
  28. Smith-Kudrna, Anton Reisner. Both Epstein and Arnold reported that Reisner was killed, but that is incorrect. Reisner lived until 1822.
  29. 1 2 Epstein, p 92
  30. Schneid, pp 81–82
  31. Epstein, p 93
  32. Smith-Kudrna, Wolfskehl
  33. 1 2 Epstein, p 94
  34. Epstein, p 95
  35. Smith, pp 304-306
  36. Smith, p 312
  37. Chandler, p 709
  38. Smith, p 318

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In the Battle of Sankt Michael on 25 May 1809, Paul Grenier's French corps crushed Franz Jellacic's Austrian division at Sankt Michael in Obersteiermark, Austria. The action occurred after the initial French victories during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Sankt Michael is located approximately 140 kilometers southwest of Vienna.

Battle of Graz

The Battle of Graz took place on 24–26 June 1809 between an Austrian corps commanded by Ignaz Gyulai and a French division led by Jean-Baptiste Broussier. The French were soon reinforced by a corps under Auguste Marmont. The battle is considered a French victory though Gyulai was successful in getting supplies to the Austrian garrison of Graz before the two French forces drove him away from the city. Graz, Austria is located 145 kilometers south-southwest of Vienna at the intersection of the modern A2 and A9 highways.

Anton von Zach Austrian general

Anton Freiherr von Zach was an Austrian General with Hungarian ancestors, who enlisted in the army of Habsburg Austria and fought against the First French Republic. In the French Revolutionary Wars, he gained prominence as a staff officer. Still on active service during the Napoleonic Wars, he fought in the 1805 and 1809 wars. He was not given combat assignments after 1809.

Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit

The Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit on 24 April 1809 saw a Franco-Bavarian force led by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières face an Austrian Empire army commanded by Johann von Hiller. Hiller's numerically superior force won a victory over the Allied troops, forcing Bessières to retreat to the west. Neumarkt-Sankt Veit is located ten kilometers north of Mühldorf and 33 kilometers southeast of Landshut in Bavaria.

The Battle of Sacile saw the Franco-Italian Army of Italy commanded by Eugène de Beauharnais face the Archduke John of Austria's Army of Inner Austria during the War of the Fifth Coalition. Believing that he was only opposed by the Austrian VIII Armeekorps, Eugène launched his right wing in a heavy attack against it. In the morning, the Austrians successfully held off Franco-Italian assaults on their left flank as Eugène reinforced the attack with troops from his left wing. Later in the day, John counterattacked Eugène's weakened left wing with the IX Armeekorps, forcing the Franco-Italian army to withdraw from the battlefield. The battle at Sacile was preceded by the action of Pordenone on 15 April in which the Austrian advance guard mauled the French rear guard. The Austrian victory compelled Eugène to retreat to the Adige River at Verona where he gathered reinforcements and planned a counteroffensive.

Joseph-Armand Ritter von Nordmann, was a French officer in the French Royal Army. He transferred his allegiance to Habsburg Austria during the French Revolution, like other French émigrés. In Austrian service he fought capably against his former country during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.

Battle of Tarvis (1809)

The Battle of Tarvis from 16 to 17 May 1809, the Storming of the Malborghetto Blockhouse from 15 to 17 May 1809, and the Storming of the Predil Blockhouse from 15 to 18 May saw the Franco-Italian army of Eugène de Beauharnais attacking Austrian Empire forces under Albert Gyulai. Eugène crushed Gyulai's division in a pitched battle near Tarvisio, then an Austrian town known as Tarvis. At nearby Malborghetto Valbruna and Predil Pass, small garrisons of Grenz infantry heroically defended two forts before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. The Franco-Italian capture of the key mountain passes allowed their forces to invade Austrian Kärnten during the War of the Fifth Coalition. Tarvisio is located in far northeast Italy, near the borders of both Austria and Slovenia.

Count Albert Gyulay de Marosnémethi et Nádaska or Albert Gyulai von Máros-Németh und Nádaska, born 12 September 1766 – died 27 April 1835, a Hungarian, joined the army of Habsburg Austria and fought against Ottoman Turkey. He served against the First French Republic in the Flanders Campaign and on the Rhine. Severely wounded in 1799, he survived a trepanning operation and briefly retired from military service. He returned to active service and commanded an army corps during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. He led his troops in several important battles during the Austrian invasion of Italy in 1809, including one where he was in independent command. Though appointed to command troops in 1813 and 1815, he missed combat in both campaigns. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment from 1810 until his death. The more famous Ignác Gyulay, Ban of Croatia was his older brother.

Louis Michel Antoine Sahuc military leader

Louis-Michel-Antoine Sahuc, born 7 January 1755 – died 24 October 1813, joined the French Royal Army and spent 20 years there before fighting in the French Revolutionary Wars. He rose to command a French cavalry regiment and later became a general officer. During the Napoleonic Wars he held important cavalry commands in three of Emperor Napoleon I of France's wars.

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.

The Battle of Linz-Urfahr on 17 May 1809 saw soldiers from the Austrian Empire fighting against troops from two of Emperor Napoleon's allies, the Kingdom of Württemberg and the Kingdom of Saxony. An Austrian corps led by Feldzeugmeister Johann Kollowrat attacked General of Division Dominique Vandamme's Württembergers who held a fortified bridgehead on the north bank of the Danube opposite the city of Linz. As the combat got underway, Saxons led by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte began reinforcing the defenders. This prompted Kollowrat to order a retreat, which was followed up by Napoleon's German allies.

Battle of Caldiero (1809)

In the Battle of Caldiero or Battle of Soave or Battle of Castelcerino from 27 to 30 April 1809, an Austrian army led by Archduke John of Austria defended against a Franco-Italian army headed by Eugène de Beauharnais, the Viceroy of the Kingdom of Italy. The outnumbered Austrians successfully fended off the attacks of their enemies in actions at San Bonifacio, Soave, and Castelcerino before retreating to the east. The clash occurred during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars.

Pierre François Joseph Durutte French general

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.

The Piave River 1809 Order of Battle shows the units and organization for the Franco-Italian and Austrian Empire armies that fought in the Battle of Piave River on 8 May 1809. Eugène de Beauharnais, the viceroy of the Kingdom of Italy defeated Archduke John of Austria. Eugène's Advance Guard crossed the river first and was assailed by Austrian cavalry and artillery. The French cavalry routed the opposing cavalry and captured 14 enemy guns. A lull followed as John arranged his infantry in a formidable defensive position. Meanwhile, Eugène struggled to pour reinforcements into the bridgehead as the Piave rose dangerously. In the afternoon, the viceroy sent Paul Grenier to drive back the Austrian left while Jacques MacDonald mounted an assault on the center. The attack succeeded in breaking the Austrian line and compelling John to order a retreat.

References


The following items are excellent sources for the full names of Austrian and French generals.