Second Battle of Bassano

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Second Battle of Bassano
Part of French Revolutionary Wars
Date6 November 1796
Location Bassano del Grappa, in present-day Italy
Result Austrian tactical victory, French strategic retreat
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg French Republic Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Austria
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France.svg Napoleon Bonaparte Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Jozsef Alvinczi
Strength
19,500 infantry 28,000 infantry
Casualties and losses
3,000 dead and wounded 2,800 dead and wounded

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.

Army of Italy (France)

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.

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.

Bassano del Grappa Comune in Veneto, Italy

Bassano del Grappa is a city and comune, in the Vicenza province, in the region Veneto, in northern Italy. It bounds the communes of Cassola, Marostica, Solagna, Pove del Grappa, Romano d'Ezzelino, Campolongo sul Brenta, Conco, Rosà, Cartigliano and Nove. Some neighbourhoods of these communes have become in practice a part of the urban area of Bassano, so that the population of the whole conurbation is around 70000 people.

Contents

Background

See the Arcola 1796 Campaign Order of Battle for a list of the major units of both armies.

The second relief of the Siege of Mantua ended dismally for the Austrians after General Bonaparte defeated Feldmarschall Dagobert Sigismund von Würmser's field army at the Battle of Bassano on 8 September. After the battle Würmser elected to dash for Mantua. He reached the place safely only to have his 12,000 remaining soldiers driven into the fortress by the French on 15 September. Within six weeks 4,000 Austrians died of disease or wounds in the overcrowded city.

Mantua Comune in Lombardy, Italy

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

Siege of Mantua map shows important towns in northern Italy. Siege of Mantua Campaign Map 1796 1797.JPG
Siege of Mantua map shows important towns in northern Italy.

Emperor Francis II of Austria appointed Feldzeugmeister Alvinczi to assemble a new field army and mount the third relief of Mantua. Alvinczi, Feldmarschall-Leutnant Paul Davidovich, General-Major Johann Rudolph Sporck, and Major Franz von Weyrother planned the new operation, which called for a two-pronged offensive. [1] Alvinczi accompanied the 28,000-strong Friaul Corps, led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich, as it advanced from the Piave River toward the west. Feldmarschall-Leutnant Paul Davidovich led the 19,000-man Tyrol Corps, which was in the upper Adige River valley.

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.

Major general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general while a major outranks a lieutenant.

Franz von Weyrother Austrian general

Franz von Weyrother was an Austrian staff officer and general who fought during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He drew up the plans for the disastrous defeats at the Battle of Rivoli, Battle of Hohenlinden and the Battle of Austerlitz, in which the Austrian army was defeated by Napoleon Bonaparte twice and Jean Moreau once.

To face these threats, Bonaparte deployed a 10,500-man division under General of Division Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois in the upper Adige valley, 9,500 soldiers led by General of Division André Masséna at Bassano on the Brenta River, and the 8,300 troops of General of Division Pierre Augereau at Verona. General of Division Charles Edward Jennings de Kilmaine with 8,800 soldiers blockaded Würmser's large garrison in Mantua, with a reserve of 1,600 cavalry troopers and General of Division Francois Macquard's reserve of 2,800 foot soldiers.

Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois French general

Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. On 20 August 1808 he was created Comte de Belgrand de Vaubois. Later, his name was inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

André Masséna French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

André Masséna, 1st Duc de Rivoli, 1st Prince d'Essling was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon, with the nickname l'Enfant chéri de la Victoire.

Pierre Augereau general, Marshal of France

Charles Pierre François Augereau, 1st Duc de Castiglione was a soldier and general and Marshal of France. After serving in the French Revolutionary Wars he earned rapid promotion while fighting against Spain and soon found himself a division commander under Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy. He fought in all of Bonaparte's battles of 1796 with great distinction. During the Napoleonic Wars, Emperor Napoleon entrusted him with important commands. His life ended under a cloud because of his poor timing in switching sides between Napoleon and King Louis XVIII of France. Napoleon wrote of Augereau that he "has plenty of character, courage, firmness, activity; is inured to war; is well liked by the soldiery; is fortunate in his operations."

Davidovich's column began moving at the end of October. On 2 November, his corps clashed with Vaubois' outnumbered division near Cembra in the north. By 5 November Davidovich pushed the French out of Trento. Vaubois fell back to Calliano.

Cembra Italian community

Cembra was a comune (municipality) in Trentino in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 15 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Trento. On 1 January 2016 it was merged with Lisignago to form a new municipality, Cembra Lisignago.

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.

Calliano, Trentino Comune in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy

Calliano is a comune (municipality) in Trentino in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 15 kilometres (9 mi) south of Trento.

On 1 November, the Friaul Corps began crossing the Piave. In the face of Alvinczi's westward advance, Massena pulled out of Bassano early on 4 November. General-Major Friedrich of Hohenzollern-Hechingen's advance guard soon occupied the town. Feldmarschall-Leutnant Giovanni Provera with two brigades reached the Brenta farther south near Fontaniva to form Alvinczi's left flank. [2] Bonaparte determined to attack the Austrians and called for Augereau and Macquard to join Masséna in resisting Alvinczi on the Brenta.

Battle

Fontaniva

Bonaparte accompanied Augereau's division as it advanced north-east from Vicenza to Bassano. Masséna took a more southerly road and clashed with the Austrian left wing at Fontaniva late on 5 November. General-major Anton Lipthay pulled his troops back to the east side of the river. This set the stage for the battle, which began on 6 November. [3]

At 7 a.m. Masséna attacked Lipthay's brigade at Fontaniva. From morning until 6 p.m., the French mounted as many as ten assaults on the Austrian general's four battalions, with heavy losses on both sides. The 2nd and 3rd battalions of Splényi Infantry Regiment Nr. 51 gallantly defended the river crossing, losing 9 officers and 657 men out of 2,000 soldiers during the fighting before they were replaced in line by the Deutschmeister Infantry Regiment Nr. 4. Injured when his wounded horse fell on him, Lipthay resolutely remained at his post. In the afternoon, Provera reinforced him with troops from the brigades of Generals-major Anton Schübirz von Chobinin and Adolf Brabeck as the Austrians successfully held their ground against the French attacks. [4]

Bassano

Early in the morning Hohenzollern crossed the Brenta, followed by Quasdanovich's right wing. This wing included General-Major Anton Ferdinand Mittrowsky's brigade, which recently joined the army by descending the Brenta valley. The Austrians anchored their right flank in the Alpine foothills while their left flank curved back to touch the Brenta. Augereau's division began to arrive in the area in mid-morning and attacked Bassano in the early afternoon before all the Austrians crossed the river. After severe fighting, in which the village of Nove changed hands several times, the action ended at 10 p.m. One battalion of the Samuel Gyulai Infantry Regiment Nr. 32 suffered 390, or nearly 50 percent casualties. [5] Though he issued a report claiming a victory, Bonaparte ordered a retreat that evening.

Results

French casualties totalled 3,000, including 508 men and 1 howitzer captured. Austrian losses numbered 2,823 and two cannons captured. Provera's left wing lost 208 killed, 873 wounded, and 109 captured. Quosdanovich's right wing suffered 326 killed, 858 wounded, and 449 captured. [6] Though Alvinczi ordered a pursuit, the fast-marching French successfully broke contact and retreated to Verona. On 7 November, Davidovich routed Vaubois at the Battle of Calliano. The two setbacks placed Bonaparte in a dangerous situation, as the two arms of the Austrian offensive threatened to close around him. Meanwhile, Würmser's large garrison remained in his rear. [7]

Alvinczi continued to press ahead, sending Hohenzollern's advance guard to the outskirts of Verona by 11 November. The following day, Bonaparte unsuccessfully attacked the Austrians at the Battle of Caldiero. The French army commander's troubles were far from over. The deciding action of the campaign was the Battle of Arcole on 15–17 November.

See also

Notes

  1. Boycott-Brown, p. 440.
  2. Boycott-Brown, p. 449.
  3. Boycott-Brown, p. 450.
  4. Boycott-Brown, p. 451.
  5. Boycott-Brown, p. 452.
  6. Smith, p. 126.
  7. Chandler, p. 105.

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References