|Part of French Revolutionary Wars|
View of the Battle of Mondovi by Giuseppe Pietro Bagetti (1764-1831)
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
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.
The Battle of Voltri was an engagement occurring on 10 April 1796 during the French Revolutionary Wars and taking place in Voltri, a suburb of Genoa, Italy.
Cherasco is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Cuneo in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 50 kilometres (31 mi) southeast of Turin and about 40 kilometres (25 mi) northeast of Cuneo. As of 1-1-2017, it had a population of 9 096 and an area of 81.2 square kilometres (31.4 sq mi).
Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi, or Michele Angelo Alessandro Colli-Marchei or Michael Colli, joined the Austrian army, became a general officer, and led the army of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont for three years, including its unsuccessful campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796.
In the spring of 1796, Bonaparte planned to launch an offensive against the combined armies of Sardinia and Austria. However, the Austrian army moved first, attacking the French right flank at Voltri, near Genoa. In response, Bonaparte counterattacked the center of the enemy array, striking the boundary between the armies of his adversaries. Beating the Austrians at Montenotte, the budding military genius strove to drive the Piedmontese west and the Austrians northeast. Victories at Millesimo over the Sardinians and at Dego over the Austrians began to drive a deep wedge between them. Leaving a division to observe the stunned Austrians, Bonaparte's army chased the Piedmontese west after a second clash at Ceva. A week after the French drubbed the Sardinians at Mondovì the Sardinian government signed an armistice and withdrew from the War of the First Coalition. In two and a half weeks, Bonaparte had overcome one of France's enemies, leaving the crippled Austrian army as his remaining opponent in northern 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.
The Battle of Montenotte was fought on 12 April 1796, during the French Revolutionary Wars, between the French army under General Napoleon Bonaparte and an Austrian corps under Count Eugène-Guillaume Argenteau. The French won the battle, which was fought near the village of Cairo Montenotte in the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont. The modern town is located in the northwestern part of Italy. On 11 April, Argenteau led 3,700 men in several assaults against a French mountaintop redoubt but failed to take it. By the morning of the 12th, Bonaparte concentrated large forces against Argenteau's now-outnumbered troops. The strongest French push came from the direction of the mountaintop redoubt, but a second force fell on the weak Austrian right flank and overwhelmed it. In its hasty retreat from the field, Argenteau's force lost heavily and was badly disorganized. This attack against the boundary between the Austrian and Sardinian armies threatened to sever the link between the two allies. This action was part of the Montenotte Campaign.
The Battle of Millesimo, fought on 13 and 14 April 1796, was the name that Napoleon Bonaparte gave in his correspondence to one of a series of small battles that were fought in Liguria, Northern Italy between the armies of France and the allied armies of Austria and of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont.
See Montenotte 1796 Campaign Order of Battle for a list of French, Austrian, and Sardinian units and organizations.
In the Montenotte Campaign between 10 and 28 April 1796 General Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army of Italy broke the link between Feldzeugmeister Johann Peter Beaulieu's Austrian army and Feldmarschallleutnant Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi's Sardinian army. In subsequent engagements, the French defeated the Austrians, pursued Colli to the west, and forced the Sardinians to withdraw from the First Coalition against France. Actions were fought at Voltri on 10 April, Monte Negino (Legino) on 11 April, Montenotte on 12 April, Millesimo on 13 April, Dego on 14–15 April, Ceva on 16 April, San Michele Mondovi on 19 April, and Mondovì on 21 April.
The government of the First French Republic wished to drive Sardinia-Piedmont out of the First Coalition. To achieve this aim, the French Army of Italy first had to defeat Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi's 21,000-man Sardinian army (including 4,000 Austrians) and Johann Peter Beaulieu's 28,000-strong Austrian army.For this purpose, Bonaparte had a field force of 43,000, while 22,000 more troops guarded his vulnerable supply line along the Italian and French Riviera.
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.
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.
The Italian Riviera, or Ligurian Riviera is the narrow coastal strip which lies between the Ligurian Sea and the mountain chain formed by the Maritime Alps and the Apennines. Longitudinally it extends from the border with France and the French Riviera near Ventimiglia to Capo Corvo which marks the eastern end of the Gulf of La Spezia and is close to the border with Tuscany. The Italian Riviera thus includes nearly all of the coastline of Liguria.
Several passes and river valleys crossed the Ligurian Alps mountain chain between the Italian Riviera and Piedmont. From west to east, they were the Col de Tende which was guarded on the north by the fortress city of Cuneo, the Tanaro River which passed through Ceva, the Colle di Cadibona between Savona and Carcare, the Col di Giovo near Sassello, the Turchino Pass north of Voltri and the Bocchetta Pass north of Genoa. The coastal strip to the south was not sufficient to support an army unless it was well supplied. However, to the north, Piedmont and the Po valley were rich in resources. The theater of operations stretched from the Col de Tende on the west to Voltri on the east.
The Ligurian Alps are a mountain range in northwestern Italy. A small part is located in France. They form the south-western extremity of the Alps, separated from the Apennines by the Colle di Cadibona. The Col de Tende separates them from the Maritime Alps. They form the border between Piedmont in the north and Liguria in the south.
Piedmont is a region in northwest Italy, one of the 20 regions of the country. It borders the Liguria region to the south, the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions to the east and the Aosta Valley region to the northwest; it also borders France to the west and Switzerland to the northeast. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres (9,808 sq mi) and a population of 4,377,941 as of 30 November 2017. The capital of Piedmont is Turin.
Col de Tende is a high mountain pass in the Alps, close to the border between France and Italy, although the highest section of the pass is wholly within France.
The town of Savona lies on the coast, 56 kilometres (35 mi) west of Genoa. Going northwest from Savona, a road crosses the Colle di Cadibona and reaches Carcare on the Bormida River, 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Savona. Continuing west from Carcare, the road passes through Millesimo after another 8 kilometres (5 mi). Crossing a divide near the hamlet of Montezemolo, the highway descends into the Tanaro River valley at the small fortress of Ceva. From Millesimo to Ceva is about 21 kilometres (13 mi). From Ceva to Mondovì is a distance of 22 kilometres (14 mi). Once past Mondovì, the road exits the mountains and enters the plains around the fortress of Cuneo (Coni). Cuneo is 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Mondovì. The battle site at Montenotte Superiore is located on a side road 15 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Carcare. Dego is 12 kilometres (7 mi) north of Carcare. Acqui, lies about 41 kilometres (25 mi) to the north of Dego.
Millesimo is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Savona in the Italian region Liguria, located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) west of Genoa and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Savona.
Montezemolo is a village and comune (municipality) of c. 250 inhabitants in the Province of Cuneo in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) southeast of Turin and about 45 kilometres (28 mi) east of Cuneo.
Mondovì is a town and comune (township) in Piedmont, northern Italy, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) from Turin. The area around it is known as the Monregalese.
Beaulieu planned for Karl Philipp Sebottendorf's Left Wing to attack the exposed French right flank. After smashing the French right, Sebottendorf would join Eugène-Guillaume Argenteau's 9,000-man Right Wing in crushing Bonaparte's main body near Savona. Beaulieu ordered Argenteau, based at Acqui, to attack Savona by way of Montenotte and Sassello. Though the Austrian field army numbered 32,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry, and 148 cannon,four battalions guarded Lombardy, others were marching to the front from their winter quarters in the Po River valley, and thousands were sick. Available strength may have been as low as 25,000 soldiers.
The Austrian government feared that Piedmont wanted to drop out of the alliance and even change sides. Therefore, Beaulieu received secret instructions not to fully trust his ally. Consequently, he neglected to fully inform the Sardinians of his plans.Colli deployed his army between Dego and Cuneo, with his main weight to the west guarding the Col de Tende. He posted two battalions at Dego and part of Giovanni Marchese di Provera's Austrian brigade at Millesimo. Meanwhile, François Christophe de Kellermann's French Army of the Alps and the Prince of Corrigan's Sardinian army, each about 20,000 strong, glared at each other in the mountains west of Cuneo and Turin.
The French government found it useful to keep Jean-Baptiste Cervoni's brigade at Voltri in order to secure supplies from the nearby Republic of Genoa, which was neutral. Amedee Emmanuel Francois Laharpe stationed one brigade each on the Sassello and Carcare roads. Bonaparte posted Jean-Baptiste Meynier's division at Savona and Pierre Augereau's division farther west, with troops in the mountains. Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier's division held Ormea, while Francois Macquard and Pierre Dominique Garnier's small divisions covered the Col de Tende. About half of Henri Christian Michel de Stengel's cavalry was with the army, while the rest were en route from France. On 5 April Bonaparte received intelligence that Austrian troops were advancing on Voltri, Sassello and Dego. He placed his army on alert, but did not make any other changes.
Bonaparte rejected the Ormea route as too difficult and the Col de Tende route as too distant for his planned offensive. After a meticulous study of maps he determined to lunge across the Colle di Cadibona from Savona to seize Carcare. This town was the vital point linking the Austrian army to the east with the Sardinian army to the west.Bonaparte planned to commit André Masséna's corps (Laharpe and Meynier) and Augereau to the main attack, while Sérurier threatened Ceva. He ordered Macquard and Garnier to make a feint in the Col di Tende area. The French offensive was set to begin on 15 April.
In the event, Beaulieu moved first. On 10 April, the Austrian army commander accompanied Sebottendorf and 3,200 men as they advanced across the Turchino Pass to attack Cervoni's 5,000 Frenchmen in the Battle of Voltri.At the same time, Philipp Pittoni von Dannenfeld's 4,000-strong column traversed the Bocchetta Pass. "The attack was badly organized, poorly coordinated, and used a surprisingly small number of troops." Outnumbered, Cervoni "conducted a masterly withdrawal to the west" avoiding a trap. Beaulieu declined to pursue Cervoni and began transferring his units to support his right flank. He left two battalions to hold Voltri and sent four more with Josef Philipp Vukassovich to march through the hills to Sassello by a difficult road. The bulk of his troops were ordered back to Acqui.
A day late, Argenteau and Mathias Rukavina von Boynograd assembled 4,000 soldiers near Montenotte on the morning of the 11th. This force advanced southeast toward 2,000 French soldiers at Monte Negino (Monte Legino). Meanwhile, a second Austrian brigade occupied Sassello. Antoine-Guillaume Rampon repulsed several Austrian attacks at Monte Negino during the day. Bonaparte ordered Laharpe to attack Argenteau the next day with two brigades while Masséna enveloped the Austrian flank with the third brigade. He also directed Augereau and Meynier to concentrate at Carcare.
On 12 April, Bonaparte's French army defeated Argenteau's soldiers at the Battle of Montenotte.While Laharpe mounted a frontal attack with 7,000 troops from Monte Negino, Masséna moved north with 4,000 men to turn Argenteau's weak right flank. Meanwhile, 11,000 more troops were moved up behind the striking forces. Masséna's flanking movement broke through and Argenteau's efforts to plug the gap failed. The Austrian pulled back and the French mauled his outnumbered force. Argenteau withdrew his battered force to Dego, complaining that he could rally only 700 men to the colors.
Bonaparte turned west against Colli's army on 13 April. Augereau's division easily pushed back Provera's weak force in the Battle of Millesimo. To cover the retreat, Provera and 1,000 picked troops occupied a ruined hilltop castle. Instead of bypassing this obstacle, Bonaparte ordered Cosseria castle to be stormed. For the rest of the day, the Austro-Sardinians repelled several assaults with heavy French casualties. Provera surrendered the following morning when his defenders ran out of food, water, and ammunition.
On 14 April, Bonaparte directed Masséna and Laharpe to attack Argenteau in the Second Battle of Dego. After inflicting 1,500 French casualties, most of the outnumbered Austrians were killed, wounded or captured. Argenteau led the remnant of his force back to Acqui. Bonaparte left Masséna and one of Meynier's brigades to hold Dego and ordered Laharpe back to Carcare.
Beaulieu ordered Vukassovich's brigade to Dego on the 14th but a poorly written order caused his subordinate to be a day too late. At dawn on 15 April, Vukassovich surprised Meynier's troops in the act of looting the town and routed the French. Masséna hastily recalled Laharpe to retake Dego. Several hours later, the heavily reinforced French retook the town after a tough fight, with Bonaparte supervising the assault. Vukassovich retreated to Acqui.
After a clash between Augereau and Colli at Montezemolo, the Sardinians pulled back to Ceva. On 16 April, Augereau attacked the Sardinians and was repulsed in the Battle of Ceva. Fearing that Sérurier, who was approaching from Ormea, might attack him in the rear, Colli withdrew to the Corsaglia River at San Michele Mondovi. He left a battalion behind to hold Ceva's small fortress. Bonaparte ordered Laharpe to scout Sassello to determine Beaulieu's whereabouts. Meynier reported sick, so Masséna took direct command of his division, which remained near Dego.
Laharpe returned to Dego, reporting no enemy activity. Meanwhile, Beaulieu reassembled his battered army near Acqui and Colli directed Jean-Gaspard Dichat de Toisinge with 8,000 soldiers and 15 cannon to defend the Corsaglia position.On 19 April, Bonaparte ordered Sérurier to attack San Michele while Augereau flanked the river line from the north. Augereau's effort failed due to high water. Sérurier's soldiers fought their way across the river, but then dispersed in search of food and plunder. Colli counterattacked and threw the French back. That day, Bonaparte switched his supply line from the exposed Cadibona Pass to a safer route via Imperia and Ormea. Bonaparte called up Masséna to make a three division attack on the San Michele position. Laharpe guarded the army's rear against an Austrian attack.
Faced with a heavy French concentration, Colli abandoned the Corsaglia River line on the night of 20/21 April. But the vigorous French pursuit soon overran the Sardinian rearguard. Colli barely had time to arrange his troops before Sérurier attacked him in the Battle of Mondovì. The French general formed his least experienced troops into three columns and covered them with his veterans in open order. Then, leading his central column, Sérurier launched a charge with Masséna's division in support. Brushing aside spotty resistance, the French broke the Sardinian lines and forced them to abandon Mondovì.Dichat was killed. Stengel received a mortal wound while leading a force of dragoons in pursuit.
After forcing Mondovì's municipal authorities to hand over a large quantity of provisions, Bonaparte launched his pursuit.On the morning of 23 April, the French army commander received a letter from Colli requesting an armistice. Ruthlessly, Bonaparte urged his men forward to conquer as much territory as possible. The arrival of the ragged and hungry French soldiers in the relatively wealthy plains prompted an outbreak of looting and Bonaparte had several men shot to discourage the practice. By 25 April, Sérurier was in Fossano on the left flank, Masséna held Cherasco in the center and Augereau occupied Alba on the right, while Laharpe brought up the rear. Macquard and Garnier were instructed to seize Cuneo. Bonaparte shifted his supply line again, this time to the secure Col de Tende.
By the Armistice of Cherasco, signed on 28 April, territory east of the Stura di Demonte and Tanaro Rivers passed under French control. The fortresses of Cuneo, Ceva, and Tortona acquired French garrisons. In addition, the Sardinians granted the French army permission to cross its territory if it wished. A secret clause allowed Bonaparte to cross the Po River at the city of Valenza. Ratification of the armistice and the signing of a formal treaty was left to the French government. Bonaparte dispatched Joachim Murat to Paris with the details.
Succeeding where earlier armies had failed, Bonaparte and his soldiers knocked Sardinia out of the war in a single brief campaign. The French suffered 6,000 casualties during the campaign.Total Austrian and Sardinian losses stood around 25,000. With Sardinia-Piedmont pacified, the French were free to direct their attentions on their major enemy, Austria. Soon Bonaparte launched a new offensive, which resulted in victories over Beaulieu at the battles of Fombio and Lodi in May.
Historian Martin Boycott-Brown listed the reasons for Bonaparte's victory,
...not just the disastrous separation between Beaulieu and Argenteau, but also to that between the Austrian and Piedmontese armies. If the Austrians had chosen to concentrate closer to the Piedmontese positions, as Colli had wanted, it would have been less easy for Bonaparte to effect their separation. The defeat of the Piedmontese became almost inevitable from the moment Bonaparte managed to drive a wedge between the allies and obliged the Piedmontese to draw ever further from their only source of help by threatening to outflank them. It would be easy to heap the blame for this on Beaulieu, but as we have said before, he was given a difficult hand to play, and if he came off second best in a contest with one of the greatest strategists in the history of war, it is not surprising.
Montenotte was a department of the French Consulate and of the First French Empire in present-day Italy. It was named after the village Montenotte near Savona to commemorate the Battle of Montenotte in 1796. It was formed in 1805, when the Ligurian Republic was annexed directly to France. Its capital was Savona.
Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Sérurier, 1st Comte Sérurier led a division in the War of the First Coalition and became a Marshal of France under Emperor Napoleon. He was born into the minor nobility and in 1755 joined the Laon militia which was soon sent to fight in the Seven Years' War. After transferring into the regular army as an ensign, he was wounded at Warburg in 1760. He fought in the Spanish-Portuguese War in 1762. He married in 1779 after a promotion to captain. A newly minted major in 1789, the French Revolution sped up promotion so that he was colonel of the regiment in 1792. After leading Army of Italy troops in a number of actions, he became a general of brigade in 1793 and a general of division the following year.
The Battle of Mondovì was fought on 21 April 1796 between the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte and the army of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont led by Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi. The French victory meant that they had put the Ligurian Alps behind them, while the plains of Piedmont lay before them. A week later, King Victor Amadeus III sued for peace, taking his kingdom out of the First Coalition. The defeat of their Sardinian ally wrecked Austrian Habsburg strategy and led to the loss of northwest Italy to the First French Republic.
The Second Battle of Dego was fought on 14 and 15 April 1796 during the French Revolutionary Wars between French forces and Austro-Sardinian forces. The battle was fought near Dego, a hamlet in northwestern Italy, and ended in a French victory.
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.
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.
The Battle of Loano occurred on 23–24 November 1795 during the War of the First Coalition. The French Army of Italy led by Barthélemy Schérer defeated the combined Austrian and Sardinian forces under Olivier, Count of Wallis.
Eugène-Guillaume Argenteau, comte de Mercy or Eugen Gillis Wilhelm Graf Mercy d'Argenteau joined the Austrian army in 1760, became a general officer, and led large formations of soldiers in several actions during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
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.
Amédée Emmanuel François Laharpe fought in the armies of the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars, led a division in Italy under Napoleon Bonaparte, and died after being hit by friendly fire.
Jean Joseph Guieu, also Jean Guyeux, joined the French royal army and quickly rose in rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. He fought in the War of the Pyrenees against Spain and became a general officer. After transferring to Italy, he held important commands under Napoleon Bonaparte in the Italian campaign of 1796-1797. He retired from the army in 1803 and his surname is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.
The Battle of Borghetto, near Valeggio sul Mincio in the Veneto of northern Italy, took place during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. On 30 May 1796, a French army led by General Napoleon Bonaparte forced a crossing of the Mincio River in the face of opposition from an Austrian army commanded by Feldzeugmeister Johann Peter Beaulieu. This action compelled the Austrian army to retreat north up the Adige valley to Trento, leaving the fortress of Mantua to be besieged by the French.
Mathias Rukavina von Boynograd, also Mathias Rukawina, Mathias Ruccavina, Mate Rukavina, was a Croatian general in the Habsburg Monarchy imperial army service. He joined the army in 1755 and fought against the Kingdom of Prussia, Ottoman Turkey, and the First French Republic. For most of his career he served with the light infantry from the military border with Turkey. He earned the rank of general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, distinguishing himself at Loano. During the 1796 Italian campaign, he commanded a brigade in several battles against the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte. He was Inhaber (Proprietor) of an Austrian infantry regiment in 1803–1804.
Claude Dallemagne started his career in the French army under the Bourbons, fought in the American Revolutionary War, rose in rank to become a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, took part in the 1796 Italian campaign under Napoleon Bonaparte, and held military posts during the Napoleonic Wars.
The Battle of Saorgio was fought from 24 to 28 April 1794 between a French First Republic army commanded by Pierre Jadart Dumerbion and the armies of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont and the Habsburg Monarchy led by Joseph Nikolaus De Vins. It was part of a successful French offensive designed to capture strategic positions in the Maritime Alps and Ligurian Alps, and on the Mediterranean coast. Tactical control of the battle was exercised by André Masséna for the French and Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi for the Coalition. Saorge is located in France, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) northeast of Nice. At the time of the battle, the town was named Saorgio and belonged to Piedmont.