Battle of Rivoli

Last updated

Battle of Rivoli
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli.jpg
Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli, by Philippoteaux (Galerie des Batailles, Palace of Versailles)
Date14–15 January 1797
Location
Rivoli Veronese, Republic of Venice, present-day Italy
Result Decisive French victory [1]
Belligerents
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg  France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Habsburg Monarchy
Commanders and leaders
Napoleon Bonaparte
André Masséna
Barthélemy Joubert
Jozsef Alvinczi
Peter von Quosdanovich
Josef Philipp Vukassovich
Strength
19,000 28,000
Casualties and losses
3,200-5,000 12,000-14,000

The Battle of Rivoli (1415 January 1797) was a key victory in the French campaign in Italy against Austria. Napoleon Bonaparte's 23,000 Frenchmen defeated an attack of 28,000 Austrians under General of the Artillery Jozsef Alvinczi, ending Austria's fourth and final attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. Rivoli further demonstrated Napoleon's brilliance as a military commander and led to French occupation of northern Italy.

Habsburg Monarchy former Central European empire (1526–1804)

The Habsburg Monarchy – also Habsburg Empire, Austrian Monarchy or Danube Monarchy – is an unofficial umbrella term among historians for the countries and provinces that were ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg between 1526 and 1780 and then by the successor branch of Habsburg-Lorraine until 1918. The Monarchy was a typical composite state composed of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Contents

Forces

See Rivoli 1797 Campaign Order of Battle.

Prelude

Alvinczi's plan was to rush and overwhelm Barthélemy Joubert in the mountains east of Lake Garda by concentrating 28,000 men in five separate columns, and thereby gain access to the open country north of Mantua where Austrian superior numbers would be able to defeat Bonaparte's smaller Army of Italy. Alvinczi attacked Joubert's 10,000 men on January 12. However Joubert held him off and was subsequently joined by Louis-Alexandre Berthier and, at 2 a.m. on January 14, by Bonaparte, who brought up elements of André Masséna's division to support Joubert's efforts to form a defensive line on favorable ground just north of Rivoli on the Trambasore Heights. The battle would be a contest between Alvinczi's efforts to concentrate his dispersed columns versus the arrival of French reinforcements.

Barthélemy Catherine Joubert French general (1769–1799)

Barthélemy Catherine Joubert was a French general. He joined the royal French army in 1784 and rose rapidly in rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. Napoleon Bonaparte recognized his talents and gave him increased responsibilities. Joubert was killed while commanding the French army at the Battle of Novi in 1799.

Lake Garda lake in Italy

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It is a popular holiday location in northern Italy, about halfway between Brescia and Verona, and between Venice and Milan on the edge of the Dolomites. Glaciers formed this alpine region at the end of the last Ice Age. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the provinces of Verona, Brescia (south-west), and Trentino (north). The name Garda, which the lake has been seen referred to in documents dating to the eighth century, comes from the town of the same name. It is the evolution of the Germanic word warda, meaning "place of guard" or "place of observation."

Mantua Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the province of the same name.

Battle

The morning of Saturday January 14, found Alvinczi engaging the division of Joubert. He had united three Austrian columns between Caprino on the right and the chapel of San Marco on the left; the brigade of Franz Josef de Lusignan was advancing to the north of Monte Baldo; and the troops of Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich and Josef Philipp Vukassovich were pouring down the roads on either side of the Adige. Before daybreak as the French were moving on the road from Rivoli to Incanale Joubert attacked and drove the Austrians from the chapel of San Marco. [2]

Caprino Veronese Comune in Veneto, Italy

Caprino Veronese is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Verona in the Italian region Veneto, located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) west of Venice and about 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Verona.

Franz Joseph, Marquis de Lusignan Austrian general

Franz Joseph, Marquis de Lusignan, a Spaniard, joined the Austrian army and fought against Prussian soldiers and Belgian rebels. During the French Revolutionary Wars, he played a significant role at the Battle of Rivoli in 1797 and became a general officer. He led brigade- and division-sized forces during the Italian campaign of 1799. In the Napoleonic Wars, he twice commanded a division and was so badly wounded in 1809 that he was forced to retire from the army. From 1806 until his death he was proprietor of the Lusignan Infantry Regiment.

Monte Baldo mountain in Italy

Monte Baldo is a mountain range in the Italian Alps, located in the provinces of Trento and Verona. Its ridge spans mainly northeast-southwest, and is bounded from south by the highland ending at Caprino Veronese, from west by Lake Garda, from north by the valley joining Rovereto to Nago-Torbole and, from east, the Val d'Adige.

At 9 a.m., the Austrian brigades of Samuel Koblos and Anton Lipthay counterattacked the French forces on the Trambasore Heights. Another column under Prince Heinrich of Reuss-Plauen attempted to turn the French right via the Rivoli gorge. Meanwhile, on the French right flank, Vukassovich had advanced down the east bank of the Adige and had established batteries opposite Osteria. The fire of his guns and the pressure from Quosdanovich forced the French out of the village of Osteria and onto the Rivoli plateau. By about 11 a.m. the position of Bonaparte was becoming desperate: an Austrian column under Lusignan was cutting off his retreat south of Rivoli. To reopen his line of retreat Bonaparte turned to Massena's 18th Demi-brigade ("the Brave"), newly arrived from Lake Garda. Meanwhile, Alvinczi was on the Trambasore Heights urging his victorious battalions forward, though they were unformed by combat and rough terrain.

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.

Prince Heinrich XV of Reuss-Plauen Austrian Field Marshal

Prince Heinrich XV of Reuss-Plauen, Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia was the fourth of six sons born into the reigning family of the Principality of Reuss. At the age of fifteen he joined the army of Habsburg Austria and later fought against Ottoman Turkey. During the French Revolutionary Wars he became a general officer and saw extensive service. He commanded a corps during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1801 until his death, he was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment.

Demi-brigade

A demi-brigade is a military formation used by the French Army since the French Revolutionary Wars. The Demi-brigade amalgamated the various infantry organizations of the French Revolutionary infantry into a single unit. Each one was headed by a chef de brigade.

With the 18th dispatched to check Lusignan, Bonaparte turned all his attention to Quosdanovich. He understood the defeat of this column was the key to the battle. Unfortunately the French had very few reserves left and mostly had to accomplish this with troops already at hand. Making the best of interior lines and his advantage in artillery, Bonaparte thinned out Joubert's lines facing the Austrians frontally at the Trambasore Heights as much as possible and concentrated them before the gorge. A battery of 15 French guns were massed and poured canister shot at point blank range into the advancing Austrian column that was emerging from the gorge. This devastating firepower struck first on the advancing Austrian dragoons who broke and stampeded through their own infantry causing mass chaos. At this juncture the brigade of Charles Leclerc assaulted the column frontally while Joubert laid down heavy flanking fire from San Marco. Here Antoine Charles de Lasalle with just 26 horseman of the 22nd Horse Chasseurs charged into the melee. Lasalle's men captured a whole Austrian battalion and seized 5 enemy flags. In the centre the battle was not yet won; Joseph Ocskay renewed his attack from San Marco and drove back the brigade of Honoré Vial. But at midday French cavalry under Joachim Murat charged the flanks of Ocskay's troops, which were driven back to the positions they occupied in the morning. [3]

Canister shot class of ammunition used by artillery

Canister shot or case shot is a kind of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons. It was similar to case and the naval grapeshot, but fired smaller and more numerous balls, which did not have to punch through the wooden hull of a ship. Canister shot has been used since the advent of gunpowder-firing artillery in Western armies; however, canister shot saw particularly frequent use on land and at sea in the various wars of the 18th and 19th century. The canister round is similar to a case and is still used today in modern artillery, particularly in the main armament of tanks with smoothbore cannons.

Dragoon mounted infantry soldiers

Dragoons originally were a class of mounted infantry, who used horses for mobility, but dismounted to fight on foot. From the early 18th century onward, dragoons were increasingly also employed as conventional cavalry, trained for combat with swords from horseback.

Charles Leclerc (general) French general

Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc was a French Army general who served under Napoleon Bonaparte during the French Revolution. He was husband to Pauline Bonaparte, sister to Napoleon. In 1801, he was sent to Saint-Domingue (Haiti), where an expeditionary force under his command captured and deported the former slave Toussaint L'Ouverture, as part of an unsuccessful attempt to reassert imperial control over the Saint-Domingue government. Leclerc died of yellow fever during the failed expedition.

Map of the battle Battle of Rivoli map.jpg
Map of the battle

Quosdanovich realized he could not force the defile and ordered his troops to fall back out of artillery range. Meanwhile, while Lusignan was being engaged frontally by the brigade of Guillaume Brune, the division of Gabriel Rey, coming up from Castelnuovo and the brigade of Claude Victor (reserve) began to arrive. They crushed the Austrian column of Lusignan who fled west with less than 2,000 men remaining. [4] The French lost 3,200 killed and wounded and 1,000 captured, while the Austrians suffered 4,000 killed and wounded, plus 8,000 men and 40 guns captured. [5] [6] One authority gives the French 5,000 and the Austrians 14,000 total losses. [7]

Guillaume Brune French diplomat

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

Gabriel Venance Rey French general

Gabriel Venance Rey or Antoine Gabriel Rey was a general officer in the army of France during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division under Napoleon Bonaparte in the Italian campaign of 1796-1797. He later fought in Italy and retired from military service in 1820.

Castelnuovo del Garda Comune in Veneto, Italy

Castelnuovo del Garda is an Italian comune (municipality), in the Province of Verona, in Veneto, on a couple of morainic hills few kilometers south-east from Garda lake. Verona is about 15 km to the east, Venice is 120 km east and Milan 150 km west.

Aftermath

The next day Joubert and Ray began a successful pursuit of Alvinczi, all but destroying his columns, the remnants of which fled north up into the Adige Valley in confusion. The Battle of Rivoli was Bonaparte's greatest victory at the time. After that he turned his attention to Giovanni di Provera. On January 13, his corps (9,000 men) had crossed north of Legnano and driven straight for the relief of Mantua which was besieged by French forces under Jean Sérurier. At night on January 15, Provera sent a message to Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser to break out in a concerted attack. On January 16, when Wurmser attacked he was driven back into Mantua by Sérurier. The Austrians were attacked from the front by Masséna (who had force marched from Rivoli) and from the rear by the division of Pierre Augereau, and were thus forced to surrender the entire force. The Austrian army in North Italy had ceased to exist. On February 2, Mantua surrendered with its garrison of 16,000 men, all that remained of an army of 30,000. The troops marched out with the 'honours of war', and laid down their arms. Wurmser with his staff and an escort were allowed to go free. The remainder were sent to Austria after swearing an oath to not serve against the French for a year, 1,500 guns were found in the fortress. [8] On February 18, Bonaparte proceeded with 8,000 men to Rome, determined to come to a settlement with the Papal States, which had shown covert hostility so long as the campaign had proceeded with uncertainty as to the fate of Italy. But with the fall of Mantua the Austrians were finally driven from Italian soil, and Pope Pius VI agreed to an armistice dictated by Bonaparte in Tolentino. [9] Snow had closed the Alpine passes, but Austria still refused Bonaparte terms of a peace agreement. He prepared one last campaign to the east, into the heartland of Austria to the gates of Vienna itself.

Legacy

The Rue de Rivoli, a street in central Paris, is named after the battle.

Related Research Articles

1796 Year

1796 (MDCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar, the 1796th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 796th year of the 2nd millennium, the 96th year of the 18th century, and the 7th year of the 1790s decade. As of the start of 1796, the Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

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.

Battle of Castiglione battle of 1796 during the French Revolutionay Wars

The Battle of Castiglione saw the French Army of Italy under General Napoleon Bonaparte attack an army of Habsburg Austria led by Feldmarschall Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser on 5 August 1796. The outnumbered Austrians were defeated and driven back along a line of hills to the river crossing at Borghetto, where they retired beyond the Mincio River. The town of Castiglione delle Stiviere is located 10 kilometres (6 mi) south of Lake Garda in northern Italy. This battle was one of four famous victories won by Bonaparte during the War of the First Coalition, part of the Wars of the French Revolution. The others were Bassano, Arcole, and Rivoli.

Battle of Bassano battle

The Battle of Bassano was fought on 8 September 1796, during the French Revolutionary Wars, in the territory of the Republic of Venice, between a French army under Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces led by Count Dagobert von Wurmser. The engagement occurred during the second Austrian attempt to raise the Siege of Mantua. It was a French victory, however it was the last battle in Napoleon`s perfect military career as two months later he would be defeated at the Second Battle of Bassano, ending his victorious streak. The Austrians abandoned their artillery and baggage, losing supplies, cannons, and battle standards to the French.

Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich Austrian Empire general

Peter Vitus Freiherr von Quosdanovich was a Croatian nobleman and general of the Habsburg Monarchy. He achieved the rank of Feldmarschall-Lieutenant and was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. He played a major role in several battles against the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Baron Paul Davidovich or Pavle Davidović became a general of the Austrian Empire and a Knight of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. He played a major role in the 1796 Italian campaign during the French Revolutionary Wars, leading corps-sized commands in the fighting against the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte. He led troops during the Napoleonic Wars and was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment.

Battle of Lonato

The Battle of Lonato was fought on 3 and 4 August 1796 between the French Army of Italy under General Napoleon Bonaparte and a corps-sized Austrian column led by Lieutenant General Peter Quasdanovich. A week of hard-fought actions that began on 29 July and ended on 4 August resulted in the retreat of Quasdanovich's badly mauled force. The elimination of Quasdanovich's threat allowed Bonaparte to concentrate against and defeat the main Austrian army at the Battle of Castiglione on 5 August. Lonato del Garda is located near the SP 668 highway and the Brescia-Padua section of Autostrada A4 to the southwest of Lake Garda.

Giovanni Marchese di Provera, or Johann Provera, born c. 1736 – died 5 July 1804, served in the Austrian army in Italy during the French Revolutionary Wars. Provera played a significant role in three campaigns against General Napoleon Bonaparte during the Italian Campaign of 1796.

In the Battle of Caldiero on 12 November 1796, a Habsburg Austrian army led by Jozsef Alvinczi fought a First French Republic army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. The French assaulted the Austrian positions, which were initially held by the army advance guard under Prince Friedrich Franz Xaver of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. The defenders held firm until reinforcements arrived in the afternoon to push back the French. This marked a rare tactical setback for Bonaparte, whose forces withdrew into Verona that evening after having suffered greater losses than their adversaries. The action occurred during the War of the First Coalition, which was part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Caldiero is a town located about 15 km (9.3 mi) east of Verona.

Siege of Mantua (1796–97) siege

During the Siege of Mantua, which lasted from 4 July 1796 to 2 February 1797 with a short break, French forces under the overall command of Napoleon Bonaparte besieged and blockaded a large Austrian garrison at Mantua for many months until it surrendered. This eventual surrender, together with the heavy losses incurred during four unsuccessful relief attempts, led indirectly to the Austrians suing for peace in 1797. The siege occurred during the War of the First Coalition, which is part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Mantua, a city in the Lombardy region of Italy, lies on the Mincio River.

Adam Bajalics von Bajaháza, also Adam Bajalić von Bajaházy or Adam Bayalitsch, entered Austrian military service and fought against Prussia, Ottoman Turkey, and France. During the 1796–1797 Italian campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte, he commanded a brigade or a division in several actions.

Joseph Ocskay von Ocskó joined the army of the Habsburg Empire and rose to the rank of general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. He fought in numerous actions in the 1796-1797 Italian campaign against the French army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. In particular, he led a combat brigade during the first, third, and fourth Austrian attempts to relieve the Siege of Mantua.

In the Battle of Arcole on 15 to 17 November 1796, the French Army of Italy commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte won a victory over the army of Austria led by Jozsef Alvinczi. The battle was part the third relief of the Siege of Mantua in which Alvinczi's army repulsed Bonaparte at the Second Battle of Bassano on 6 November and at the Battle of Caldiero on 12 November. Meanwhile, Paul Davidovich's Austrian Tyrol Corps clashed with Claude Vaubois' French division at Cembra on 2 November. Davidovich defeated Vaubois at the Battle of Calliano on 6–7 November and Rivoli Veronese on 17 November. After Bonaparte's triumph at Arcola, he turned on the Tyrol Corps, beat it at Rivoli on 21 November, and forced it to retreat north into the mountains.

In the Battle of Rivoli on 14 and 15 January 1797, the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon Bonaparte crushed the main Austrian army led by Jozsef Alvinczi. The battle occurred during the fourth Austrian attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. After crippling Alvinczi's army on the 14th, Bonaparte left Barthélemy Joubert and Gabriel Rey to finish off the Austrians and raced south with André Masséna to deal with a relief column led by Giovanni di Provera. On 16 January, Masséna, Pierre Augereau, and Jean Sérurier trapped Provera near the Mantua siege lines and forced his surrender.

The Battle of Calliano on 6 and 7 November 1796 saw an Austrian corps commanded by Paul Davidovich rout a French division directed by Claude Belgrand de Vaubois. The engagement was part of the third Austrian attempt to relieve the French siege of Mantua during the French Revolutionary Wars. The battle was preceded by a clash at Cembra on 2 November and followed by actions at Rivoli Veronese on 17 and 21 November.

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.

Jean Joseph Magdeleine Pijon or Jean Pigeon, born 7 September 1758 – died 5 April 1799, was a French general who was killed in combat during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led an attack column at Loano in late 1795. He commanded a brigade in Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army of Italy during several famous campaigns. In 1796 he fought at Lonato where he was briefly captured, Rovereto where he was in the forefront of the action, Bassano, Cerea where he led the advance guard, and early in the Arcole campaign where he was wounded. In Italy during 1799, he fought at Verona and met his death at Magnano. His surname is one of the 660 names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.

Battle of Tarvis (1797)

The Battle of Tarvis was fought during March 21-23, 1797 near present-day Tarvisio in far northeast Italy, about 12 kilometres (7 mi) west-by-southwest of the three-border conjunction with Austria and Slovenia. In the battle, three divisions of a First French Republic army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte attacked several columns of the retreating Habsburg Austrian army led by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen. In three days of confused fighting, French divisions directed by André Masséna, Jean Joseph Guieu, and Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier succeeded in blocking the Tarvis Pass and capturing 3,500 Austrians led by Adam Bajalics von Bajahaza. The engagement occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.

References

Footnotes

  1. Alan Forrest (27 October 2011). Napoleon. Quercus Publishing. p. 77. ISBN   978-0-85738-759-2 . Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  2. Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 84. ISBN   978-0-85706-356-4
  3. Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 85. ISBN   978-0-85706-356-4
  4. Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 85. ISBN   978-0-85706-356-4
  5. Smith, p. 131
  6. Rothenberg, p. 248
  7. Chandler, p. 328
  8. Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 88. ISBN   978-0-85706-356-4
  9. Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 88. ISBN   978-0-85706-356-4

Coordinates: 45°34′00″N10°49′00″E / 45.5667°N 10.8167°E / 45.5667; 10.8167