Campaigns of 1796 in the French Revolutionary Wars

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The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1795, with the French in an increasingly strong position as members of the First Coalition made separate peaces. Austria and Great Britain were the main remaining members of the coalition. The rebellion in the Vendée was also finally terminated by General Hoche.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted the French Republic against Great Britain, Austria and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.

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

Mignet's History of the French Revolution states:

"The directory found the Rhine open towards Mainz, the war of La Vendée rekindled; the coasts of France and Holland threatened with a descent from England; lastly, the army of Italy destitute of everything, and merely maintaining the defensive under Schérer and Kellermann. Carnot prepared a new plan of campaign, which was to carry the armies of the republic to the very heart of the hostile states. Bonaparte, appointed general of the interior after the events of Vendémiaire, was placed at the head of the army of Italy; Jourdan retained the command of the army of the Sambre-et-Meuse, and Moreau had that of the army of the Rhine, in place of Pichegru. The latter, whose treason was suspected by the directory, though not proved, was offered the embassy to Sweden, which he refused, and retired to Arbois, his native place. The three great armies, placed under the orders of Bonaparte, Jourdan, and Moreau, were to attack the Austrian monarchy through Italy and Germany, combine at the entrance of the Tyrol and march upon Vienna, in echelon. The generals prepared to execute this vast movement, the success of which would make the republic mistress of the headquarters of the coalition on the continent."

Italy

Bonaparte left Paris on 11 March for Nice to take over the weak and poorly supplied Army of Italy, arriving on 26 March. The army was already being reorganised and supplied when he arrived, and he found that the situation was rapidly improving. He was soon able to carry out the plan for the invasion of Italy that he had been advocating for years, which provided for an advance over the Apennines near Altare to attack the enemy position of Ceva.

Nice Prefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Nice is the seventh most populous urban area in France and the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes département. The metropolitan area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits, with a population of about 1 million on an area of 721 km2 (278 sq mi). Located in the French Riviera, on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Alps, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast and the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region after Marseille. Nice is approximately 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the principality of Monaco and 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the French-Italian border. Nice's airport serves as a gateway to the region.

Army of Italy (France) field army of the French Revolutionary Army

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.

Ceva Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Ceva, the ancient Ceba, is a small Italian town in the province of Cuneo, region of Piedmont, 49 kilometres (30 mi) east of Cuneo. It lies on the right bank of the Tanaro on a wedge of land between that river and the Cevetta stream.

The Montenotte Campaign opened after Johann Beaulieu's Austrian forces attacked the extreme French eastern flank near Genoa on 10 April. Bonaparte countered by attacking and crushing the isolated right wing of the allied armies at the Battle of Montenotte on 12 April. The next day he defeated an Austro-Sardinian force at the Battle of Millesimo. He then won a victory at the Second Battle of Dego, driving the Austrians northeast, away from their Piedmontese allies. Satisfied that the Austrians were temporarily inert, Bonaparte harried Michelangelo Colli's Piedmontese at Ceva and San Michele Mondovi before whipping them at the Battle of Mondovì. A week later, on 28 April, the Piedmontese signed an armistice at Cherasco, withdrawing from the hostilities. On 18 May they signed a peace treaty at Paris, ceding Savoy and Nice and allowing the French bases to be used against Austria.

Montenotte Campaign

The Montenotte Campaign began on 10 April 1796 with an action at Voltri and ended with the Armistice of Cherasco on 28 April. In his first army command, Napoleon Bonaparte's French army separated the army of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont under Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi from the allied Austrian army led by Johann Peter Beaulieu. The French defeated both Austrian and Sardinian armies and forced Sardinia to quit the First Coalition. The campaign formed part of the Wars of the French Revolution. Montenotte Superiore is located at the junction of Strada Provinciale 12 and 41 in the Liguria region of northwest Italy, 15 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Carcare municipality. However, the fighting occurred in an area from Genoa on the east to Cuneo on the west.

Johann Peter Beaulieu Austrian general

Johann Peter de Beaulieu, also Jean Pierre de Beaulieu, was a Walloon military officer. He joined the Austrian army and fought against the Prussians during the Seven Years' War. A cultured man, he later battled Belgian rebels and earned promotion to general officer. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought against the First French Republic and attained high command. In 1796, a young Napoleon Bonaparte won some of his first victories against an army led by Beaulieu. He retired and was the Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment until his death.

Genoa Comune in Liguria, Italy

Genoa is the capital of the Italian region of Liguria and the sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived within the city's administrative limits. As of the 2011 Italian census, the Province of Genoa, which in 2015 became the Metropolitan City of Genoa, counted 855,834 resident persons. Over 1.5 million people live in the wider metropolitan area stretching along the Italian Riviera.

After a short pause, Bonaparte carried out a brilliant flanking manoeuvre, and crossed the Po at Piacenza, nearly cutting the Austrian line of retreat. The Austrians escaped after the Battle of Fombio, but had their rear-guard mauled at Lodi on 10 May, after which the French took Milan. Bonaparte then advanced eastwards again, drove off the Austrians in the Battle of Borghetto and in June began the Siege of Mantua. Mantua was the strongest Austrian base in Italy. Meanwhile, the Austrians retreated north into the foothills of the Tyrol.

Piacenza Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Piacenza is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, the capital of the eponymous province. The etymology is long-standing, tracing an origin from the Latin verb placēre, "to please." In French, and occasionally in English, it is called Plaisance. The name means a "pleasant abode", or as James Boswell reported some of the etymologists of his time to have translated it, "comely". This was a name "of good omen."

Battle of Fombio

The Battle of Fombio was fought between the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon Bonaparte and the Austrian army under Feldzeugmeister Johann Peter Beaulieu between 7 and 9 May 1796. It was the decisive strategic point of the campaign, as Bonaparte crossed the Po River at Piacenza in Beaulieu's rear, threatening both Milan and the Austrian line of communications. This threat forced the Austrian army to withdraw to the east.

Battle of Lodi battle of the Napoleonic Wars

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

During July and August, Austria sent a fresh army into Italy under Dagobert Wurmser. Wurmser attacked toward Mantua along the east side of Lake Garda, sending Peter Quasdanovich down the west side in an effort to envelop Bonaparte. Bonaparte exploited the Austrian mistake of dividing their forces to defeat them in detail, but in so doing, he abandoned the siege of Mantua, which held out for another six months (Carl von Clauswitz mentioned in On War that the siege might have been able to be kept up if Bonaparte had circumvallated the city [1] ). Quasdanovich was overcome at Lonato on 3 August and Wurmser at Castiglione on 5 August. Wurmser retreated to the Tyrol, and Bonaparte resumed the siege.

Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser austrian marshall

Dagobert Sigismund, Count von Wurmser was an Austrian field marshal during the French Revolutionary Wars. Although he fought in the Seven Years' War, the War of the Bavarian Succession, and mounted several successful campaigns in the Rhineland in the initial years of the French Revolutionary Wars, he is probably most remembered for his unsuccessful operations against Napoleon Bonaparte during the 1796 campaign in Italy.

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."

<i>On War</i> von Clausewitz treaty on strategy

Vom Kriege is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife Marie von Brühl in 1832. It has been translated into English several times as On War. On War is actually an unfinished work; Clausewitz had set about revising his accumulated manuscripts in 1827, but did not live to finish the task. His wife edited his collected works and published them between 1832 and 1835. His 10-volume collected works contain most of his larger historical and theoretical writings, though not his shorter articles and papers or his extensive correspondence with important political, military, intellectual and cultural leaders in the Prussian state. On War is formed by the first three volumes and represents his theoretical explorations. It is one of the most important treatises on political-military analysis and strategy ever written, and remains both controversial and influential on strategic thinking.

In September, Bonaparte marched north against Trento in Tyrol, but Wurmser had already marched toward Mantua by the Brenta River valley, leaving Paul Davidovich's force to hold off the French. Bonaparte overran the holding force at the Battle of Rovereto. Then he followed Wurmser down the Brenta valley, to fall upon and defeat the Austrians at the Battle of Bassano on 8 September. Wurmser elected to march for Mantua with a large portion of his surviving troops. The Austrians evaded Bonaparte's attempts to intercept them but were driven into the city after a pitched battle on 15 September. This left nearly 30,000 Austrians trapped in the fortress. This number rapidly diminished due to disease, combat losses, and hunger.

Trento Comune in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy

Trento is a city on the Adige River in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol in Italy. It is the capital of the autonomous province of Trento. In the 16th century, the city was the location of the Council of Trent. Formerly part of Austria and Austria-Hungary, it was annexed by Italy in 1919. With almost 120,000 inhabitants, Trento is the third largest city in the Alps and second largest in the Tyrol.

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 Rovereto battle

In the Battle of Rovereto on 4 September 1796 a French army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte defeated an Austrian corps led by Paul Davidovich during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The battle was fought near the town of Rovereto, in the upper Adige River valley in northern Italy.

The Austrians sent yet another army under József Alvinczi against Bonaparte in November. Again the Austrians divided their effort, sending Davidovich's corps from the north while Alvinczi's main body attacked from the east. At first they proved victorious over the French at Bassano, Calliano, and Caldiero. But Bonaparte ultimately defeated Alvinczi in the Battle of Arcole southeast of Verona. The French then turned on Davidovich in great strength and chased him into the Tyrol. Wurmser's only sortie was late and ineffectual.

Germany

Meanwhile, Moreau and Jourdan crossed the Rhine and invaded Germany. Moreau was at first completely successful, having crossed the Rhine and defeated the Austrian forces there, he advanced into Bavaria and fought the Archduke to an inconclusive draw at Neresheim. Advancing to the edge of the Tyrol, he took Ulm and Augsburg, but Jourdan became separated from Moreau and was defeated by the Archduke Charles of Austria at Amberg and Würzburg, and both armies were forced to retreat separately across the Rhine by September (including the Battle of Theiningen), ending with the Battle of Emmendingen in October and the same territorial conditions as the campaign had begun.

At sea

Spain signed the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso with France on 19 August 1796, entering the war against Britain on the side of France in return for concessions in Italy. In response, Britain withdrew from Corsica in order to concentrate the Mediterranean fleet at Gibraltar against the combined threat.

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Battle of Arcole battle

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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.

In the Battle of Ceva on 16 April 1796, troops of the First French Republic under Pierre Augereau fought against part of the army of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont led by General Giuseppe Felice, Count Vital. Augereau assaulted the strong defensive position without success. At the direction of the Sardinian army commander, Feldmarschal-Leutnant Michelangelo Colli, Vital withdrew on the 17th in order to avoid being trapped by a second French division.

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.

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.

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.

References

This article makes use of the out-of-copyright work History of the French Revolution by François Mignet (1824):

  1. On War, Book II, Chapter 5, 24., Carl von Clausewitz, translated by Michael Howard, p. 188 ISBN   1-85715-121-6

See also

Preceded by
1795
French Revolutionary Wars
1796
Succeeded by
1797