|Battle of Tarvis (1809)|
|Part of the War of the Fifth Coalition|
Storming of Malborghetto Fort by Albrecht Adam (1786–1862)
|Commanders and leaders|
| Tarvis: 25,000|
Predil: 8,500, 12 guns
| Tarvis: 6,000, 10 guns|
Predil: 250, 8 guns
Malborghetto: 650, 10 guns
|Casualties and losses|
| Tarvis: 380|
Malborghetto: over 80
| Tarvis: 1,789, 6 guns|
Predil: 250, 8 guns
Malborghetto: 650, 10 guns
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 (Malbotghet Wolfstal) 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.
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.
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.
Tarvisio is a comune in the Province of Udine, the northeastern part of the autonomous Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy.
Eugène's main column marched up the Fella River valley, which runs east and west in the area of the fighting. On 15 May the column found itself blocked by the Malborghetto fort. Attacking in greatly superior force, Eugène's troops captured the fort on the morning of the 17th. Later that day, the Franco-Italians routed Gyulai's division from its positions near Tarvisio (Tarvis), inflicting heavy losses. A second Franco-Italian column, attempting to join Eugène from the south, was halted on the 15th by the Predil fort. On 18 May, Predil fell to assault and the defenders were killed to the last man. Monuments at both forts honor the Austrians who gave their lives in the fighting.
The Austrian war plan at the start of the War of the Fifth Coalition called for the Army of Inner Austria under General der Kavallerie Archduke John of Austria to invade and seize the province of Venetia in northeast Italy. For this formidable task, John's forces were not especially large.
The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent another expedition, the Walcheren Campaign, to the Netherlands in order to relieve the Austrians, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July.
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.
Veneto is one of the 20 regions of Italy. Its population is about five million, ranking fifth in Italy. The region's capital is Venice.
The VIII Armeekorps numbered 24,500 infantry, 2,600 cavalry, and 62 guns. The IX Armeekorps counted 22,200 infantry, 2,000 cavalry, and 86 guns. General-Major Andreas von Stoichevich was poised to advance south into French-occupied Dalmatia with 10,000 more.Assembling in Carinthia were 23,500 second-line soldiers in 33 Landwehr battalions, with 6,600 more Landwehr troops in reserve. To support the Tyrolean Rebellion, John reorganized his army and sent Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann Gabriel Chasteler de Courcelles west with 10,000 troops from VIII Armeekorps. The detachment left John with about 40,000 soldiers for his invasion of Italy out of 85,000 available. The departure of Chasteler left Feldmarschall-Leutnant Albert Gyulai in command of VIII Armeekorps and his brother Feldmarschall-Leutnant Ignaz Gyulai in charge of IX Armeekorps.
Dalmatia is one of the four historical regions of Croatia, alongside Croatia proper, Slavonia, and Istria.
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.
Landwehr, or Landeswehr, is a German language term used in referring to certain national armies, or militias found in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. In different context it refers to large-scale, low-strength fortifications. In German, the word means "defence of the country"; but the term as applied to an insurrectional militia is very ancient, and lantveri are mentioned in Baluzii Capitularia, as quoted in Hallam's Middle Ages, i. 262, 10th edition.
Eugène commanded 70,000 Franco-Italian troops in his Army of Italy. Of his six French and three Italian infantry divisions, only two defended the Soča (Isonzo) River near the eastern frontier, while the rest were scattered across the Kingdom of Italy.On 16 April 1809, an overconfident Eugène gave battle with only one cavalry and five infantry divisions, about 35,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. At the Battle of Sacile, John's invading army mauled Eugène's army, inflicting 6,500 casualties for a loss of only 3,600. The defeated Army of Italy fell back to Verona on the Adige River gathering reinforcements until it had accumulated 60,000 soldiers. After John detached forces to besiege the Osoppo and Palmanova fortresses, and to watch the large French garrison of Venice, the Austrian army arrived before Verona with only 30,000 troops on 28 April. After hearing of the main Austrian army's defeat at the Battle of Eckmühl on 22 April, Emperor Francis I of Austria ordered his brother Archduke John to retreat to Inner Austria.
The Army of Italy was a field army of the French Army stationed on the Italian border and used for operations in Italy itself. Though it existed in some form in the 16th century through to the present, it is best known for its role during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.
The Soča or Isonzo is a 138-kilometre (86 mi) long river that flows through western Slovenia and northeastern Italy.
The Kingdom of Italy was a kingdom in Northern Italy in personal union with France under Napoleon I. It was fully influenced by revolutionary France and ended with his defeat and fall. Its governance was conducted by Napoleon and his step-son and viceroy Eugène de Beauharnais.
After fencing with the Viceroy near Soave and Monte Bastia at the Battle of Caldiero at the end of April, the archduke withdrew on 2 May. The retreat was ably covered by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann Maria Philipp Frimont's rear guard.On 8 May, John defended a strong position behind the Piave River. In the Battle of Piave River, Eugène defeated his opponent, inflicting 5,000 casualties while suffering about 2,000 killed and wounded. On 11 May, the Franco-Italian advance guard turned both flanks of Frimont's 4,000-man rear guard at San Daniele del Friuli. The Austrians were crushed with losses of about 2,000, while French casualties numbered between 200 and 800. After a clash at Venzone, Frimont retreated north up the Fella River valley, burning the bridges behind him.
Soave is a small comune of the Veneto region in the Province of Verona, northern Italy, with a population of roughly 6,800 people.
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.
Johann Maria Philipp Frimont, Count of Palota, Prince of Antrodoco was an Austrian general.
Archduke John took about 19,000 troops back to Tarvis. He sent Ignaz Gyulai and 5,000 soldiers to Carniola (Slovenia) which was only guarded by two brigades under Feldmarschall-Leutnant Anton von Zach and General-Major Johann Kalnássy.In his capacity as Ban of Croatia, Ignaz Gyulai had the authority to muster the Croatian insurrectio or militia. Seriously weakened by his abortive invasion of Italy, John recalled Chasteler from the Tyrol in the hope of massing enough troops to challenge Eugène.
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.
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.
Ban of Croatia was the title of local rulers or office holders and after 1102, viceroys of Croatia. From earliest periods of Croatian state, some provinces were ruled by bans as a ruler's representative (viceroy) and supreme military commander. In the 18th century, Croatian bans eventually became chief government officials in Croatia. They were at the head of Ban's Government, effectively the first prime ministers of Croatia. The institution of ban in Croatia persisted until the 20th century.
Eugène planned to pierce the barrier of the Carnic Alps by advancing in multiple columns. To the west, he directed General of Division Jean-Baptiste Dominique Rusca and his division to march up the valley of the Piave, then turn east. He ordered General of Division Jacques MacDonald with one cavalry and two infantry divisions, 14,000 troops, to march due east and seize the Austrian base at Ljubljana (Laibach) in Carniola. From there, MacDonald might link up with General of Division Auguste Marmont advancing north from Dalmatia, or he could capture Graz or Maribor (Marburg an der Drau). Eugène sent one division under General of Division Jean Mathieu Seras moving north up the Soča (Isonzo) toward Tarvis via the Predil Pass. He took the bulk of his army north from Osoppo along the Fella valley, aiming for the Austrian bases at Tarvis and Villach. This 25,000-strong force included the corps of Generals of Division Paul Grenier and Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers, the Italian Royal Guard, and two cavalry divisions.
As his brigade retreated up the upper Piave valley, General-Major Josef Schmidt thoroughly obstructed the road in front of Rusca. Unable to move his wagons and artillery in that direction, Rusca backtracked and followed in Eugène's path. The main column also faced a route littered with broken bridges. Eugène finally sent his artillery, cavalry, and trains back and directed them to follow in Seras' track. He continued to advance to Pontebba (Pontafel) with his infantry and some light guns.
|Paul Grenier||Pierre Durutte||Joseph Dessaix||Louis d'Hilliers||Achille Fontanelli||Johann Hermann||Friedrich Hensel|
See Battle of Piave River (1809) for the Franco-Italian order of battle.
When ascending the Fella, the river valley veers east at Pontebba and continues 10 kilometers east to Malborghetto. From the latter town, Tarvisio is 10 kilometers farther to the east. To reach Tarvisio from the Soča (Isonzo) valley, a road leaves Bovec and continues about 10 kilometers north-northeast before turning west to cross the Predil Pass (1,156 meters). At the foot of the pass is Lago del Predil (Lake Predil). From there, the road continues north again for about 10 kilometers before arriving at Tarvisio. The Predil blockhouse dominates the road about 800 meters east of the pass. The Malborghetto blockhouse lies about 900 meters east of Malborghetto village.The fort is on a mountain spur that looms over the Fella valley.
In mid-May Archduke John reorganized his army into several groups. Stoichevich with 8,100 mostly Grenz infantry and 14 guns was still distant in Dalmatia. Feldmarschall-Leutnant Franz Jellacic with 10,200 troops and 16 guns of the Northern Division was transferred from the Danube army to John's control.Jellacic lay well to the north at Radstadt. Ignaz Gyulai and Zach assembled the IX Armeekorps at Kranj (Krain) with 14,880 men organized into four brigades. John held Villach with his Mobile Corps, 13,060 soldiers and 22 guns under Frimont.
Albert Gyulai was at Tarvis with his 8,340-strong division organized into three brigades. General-Major Anton Gajoli led 2,800 men of the Franz Jellacic Infantry Regiment Nr. 62, Reisky Infantry Regiment Nr. 13, and a brigade battery of eight 3-pound cannons. General-Major Franz Marziani commanded 2,800 soldiers in the Oguliner Grenz Infantry Regiment Nr. 3, Szluiner Grenz Infantry Regiment Nr. 4, four squadrons of the Ott Hussar Regiment Nr. 5, and a Grenz brigade battery of eight 3-pound guns. General-Major Peter Lutz had 2,500 men in the Marburg, Cilly , Laibach, and Adelsberg Landwehr. The artillery reserve included one position battery of six 12-pound guns.
Two other historians assigned weaker forces to Albert Gyulai's division. According to Historian Robert M. Epstein, he deployed about 6,000 troops in the vicinity of Tarvis, with 650 Grenz and 10 guns holding the Malborghetto blockhouse, and 250 Grenz and eight guns defending the Predil Blockhouse.Author Digby Smith listed 3,500 Austrians and 6 guns at Tarvis, 450 men and 11 guns at Malborghetto, and 250 men and eight guns at Predil.
Grenier's corps contained the two divisions of Generals of Division Pierre François Joseph Durutte and Michel Marie Pacthod. Baraguey d'Hilliers' corps included the two divisions of General of Division Achille Fontanelli and General of Brigade Joseph Marie, Count Dessaix.Dessaix's advance guard division comprised three battalions formed from the voltiguer companies of the infantry, plus a few battalions borrowed from the other divisions. These troops arrived before the Malborghetto fort on 15 May. Eugène ordered Grenier to reduce the fort while Baraguey d'Hilliers kept Gyulai from interfering with the operation from Tarvis. Accordingly, Dessaix and Fontanelli led their troops across mountain trails to reach the Fella valley on the east side of the Malborghetto fort. Grenier sent Pacthod's troops scrambling after the other two divisions to reach an assault position from the east. On the 16th, Baraguey d'Hilliers skirmished with Gyulai, who evacuated Tarvis and took a defensive position east of the town.
At 9:30 AM on 17 May, Pacthod and Durutte's divisions rushed the Malborghetto fort from two directions, 15,000 strong. Thirty minutes later the position fell. Epstein wrote that 300 Austrians were killed and 350 captured, and accepted the Franco-Italian report of 80 casualties. A considerable supply of food was captured as well as 13 cannons.Engineer Captain Friedrich Hensel died leading his garrison of two companies of the Oguliner Grenz Infantry Regiment Nr. 3 and 24 artillerymen. Smith reported the 400 Austrian total losses as five officers and 345 men dead, six officers, 44 men, and 11 guns captured. He found Grenier's claim of only 80 casualties as "totally unbelievable" considering the bitter fighting. The Austrian official record stated that the fortifications were too extensive for the garrison. It also gave the garrison's losses as 75 killed and 305 captured including 120 wounded. The account admitted that an Austrian claim of 1,300 casualties inflicted on the attackers was improbable.
Grenier's victorious soldiers were rapidly marched east to Tarvis to assist in the attack against Gyulai. The Austrian commander took up a position behind the Slizza (Gailitz) stream with 11 battalions and four squadrons. In line were Gajoli's brigade, Marziani's brigade, three battalions of the Strassoldo Infantry Regiment Nr. 27, and two battalions of the Marburg Landwehr.A line of prepared defenses lined the stream bank, but only 10 of the planned 24 cannons were installed in the redoubts. At mid-day Eugène waved his troops forward. While Grenier's corps skirmished with Gyulai's center, Fontanelli's Italian division hit the Austrian left flank. The Italians seized a key redoubt and began rolling up Gyulai's defenses from the south. As the Austrian line began to crumble, Grenier's troops attacked in front. Gyulai's troops fled the field in rout, losing 3,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners, and most of their guns. Lacking cavalry, the Franco-Italians were not able to pursue. The Austrians admitted losing 217 killed, 271 wounded, and 1,301 captured, for a total of 1,789 men and six guns lost out of 3,500 engaged. Eugène admitted 80 killed and 300 wounded out of 10,000 engaged, though the latter figure does not count Grenier's troops which are listed as reserves.
Meanwhile, the column under Seras encountered opposition on the 15th when it reached the Predil Pass blockhouse. While Eugène crushed Gyulai's command on 17 May, Seras bombarded the Predil fort without effect.Engineer Captain Johann Hermann von Hermannsdorf commanded the garrison of two companies of the 1st battalion of the Szluiner Grenz Infantry Regiment Nr. 3. In order to bring his artillery, cavalry, and wagon trains to Tarvis, Eugène needed to use Predil Pass. He sent three battalions south to attack Hermann's bastion from the pass while Seras drove in from the other side. The French assault began on 18 May and met with tremendous resistance. Hermann and every single one of the 250 Croat defenders were killed in their last stand. Out of 8,500 infantry and 12 guns, Franco-Italian losses were about 450 killed and wounded.
|Predil Monument||Predil Fort from the pass||Malborghetto Monument||Malborghetto Fort|
The Austrian strategy of invading Italy was a blunder. The losses incurred in the invasion and retreat seriously weakened Archduke John's army. Instead of having ample forces to defend the mountain barrier east of the Italian plains, John was left with an insufficient number of soldiers.The capture of Tarvis and its outlying forts gave Eugène an open road to Villach, which he occupied on 20 May. His troops seized Klagenfurt the following day. In both cities, the Franco-Italians found supplies that would be of future use. Eugène was forced to pause for a few days in order to let his artillery, cavalry, and wagon trains catch up with his infantry. John withdrew to Graz, where he arrived on 24 May, followed by Gyulai's bedraggled division. Eugène's patrols soon detected Jellacic's division marching across his front and sent Grenier's corps to intercept. The next action was the Battle of Sankt Michael on 25 May. Monuments to Engineer officers Hensel and Hermann and the fallen Austrian soldiers are located at both the Malborghetto and Predil forts. The one at Predil was constructed in 1849.
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Caldiero 1805 Order of Battle
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The Battle of Günzburg on 9 October 1805 saw General of Division Jean-Pierre Firmin Malher's French division attempt to seize a crossing over the Danube River at Günzburg in the face of a Habsburg Austrian army led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Karl Mack von Lieberich. Malher's division managed to capture a bridge and hold it against Austrian counterattacks. The battle occurred during the War of the Third Coalition, part of the larger Napoleonic Wars.
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.
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.
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.
The Battle of Feistritz saw an Imperial French corps led by Paul Grenier attack an Austrian brigade under August von Vécsey. After putting up a stout resistance, the outnumbered Austrians were defeated and forced to retreat. The clash occurred during the War of the Sixth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Feistritz im Rosental is located on the Drau River near the southern border of Austria, about 16 kilometres (10 mi) southwest of Klagenfurt.
Paul von Radivojevich was an Austrian army corps commander in the army of the Austrian Empire during the late Napoleonic Wars. He joined the army of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1782 and fought in one of the early battles of the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a Grenz Infantry Regiment before being promoted to general officer in 1807. He led a brigade at Eckmühl in 1809, a division in the summer of 1813, and a corps at Caldiero in 1813 and at the Mincio in 1814. During the 1815 Italian campaign, he led a corps in Switzerland, Piedmont, and France. After the wars, he commanded part of the Military Frontier. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an infantry regiment from 1815 until his death in 1829.
These are excellent sources for the full names and ranks of Austrian and French generals.