Siege of Mantua (1799)

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Battle of Mantua
Part of the War of the Second Coalition
DateApril–July 1799
Location Mantua, present-day Italy
Result Austrian victory
Belligerents
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Austria
Commanders and leaders
François-Philippe de Foissac-Latour Pal von Kray
Strength
10,000 [1]
657 artillery pieces [2]
40,000 [2]
~150 artillery pieces [2]
Casualties and losses
1700 dead
1400 or more wounded [2]

The Siege of Mantua (1799) was a four-month effort by the Austrian army to regain a presence in northern Italy after being excluded from that region by Napoleon Bonaparte through the successful French Siege of Mantua in 1797. In April 1799, the Austrians placed a military blockade around Mantua as part of the War of the Second Coalition with the intent of withering the French by attrition. While the diminishing food supplies and losses weakened the French army, the Austrians received reinforcements and attacked on 4 July 1799. By the end of the month, the French agreed to surrender.

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.

Northern Italy geographic region of Italy

Northern Italy is a geographical region in the northern part of Italy. Non-administrative, it consists of eight administrative Regions in northern Italy: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. As of 2014, its population was 27,801,460. Rhaeto-Romance and Gallo-Italic languages are spoken in the region, as opposed to the Italo-Dalmatian languages spoken in the rest of Italy.

French First Republic republic governing France, 1792-1804

In the history of France, the First Republic, officially the French Republic, was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.

Contents

Prelude

By 1799, the fortress of Mantua on the river Mincio in northern Italy was in poor shape. [1] It was commanded by viscount lieutenant general François-Philippe de Foissac-Latour (1750-1804) [3] and garrisoned by a diverse force of 10,000, including French, Polish (Polish Legionnaires under general Józef Wielhorski), Italian (Republic of Alba and Cisalpine Republic), Swiss and German units. [1] From the beginning of his assignment, Foissac-Latour, an engineer, was convinced that the fortress would be indefensible in any serious siege. [1]

Mantua Comune in Lombardy, Italy

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

Mincio river in Italy

Mincio is a river in the Lombardy region of northern Italy.

Polish Legions (Napoleonic period)

The Polish Legions in the Napoleonic period, were several Polish military units that served with the French Army, mainly from 1797 to 1803, although some units continued to serve until 1815.

Siege

In April, Austrian forces approached Mantua and started their siege. At first, the Austrians were content to simply blockade the fortress, but with the artillery duels and occasional skirmishes, attrition began taking its toll on the defenders. The defenders were also weakened by diminishing food supplies, and their morale was undermined by lack of payment. [1]

On 18 June, the French suffered a defeat at the Battle of Trebbia, and consequently the Austrians were able to move more decisively against Mantua. [2] On 4 July the siege entered a new stage, with Austrian reinforcements arriving, and the besieging force growing from 8,000 to 40,000. [2] The Austrians were commanded by Hungarian general Baron Pal von Kray, an artillery expert. [2] Artillery bombardment was constant. On 24-25 July the assault begun; and the Austrians slowly advanced over the next few days. [2] On 27 July Foissac-Latour began negotiating surrender terms. [2]

Battle of Trebbia (1799) battle

The Battle of Trebbia or the Napoleonic Battle of the Trebbia was fought near the Trebbia River in northern Italy between the joint Russian and Habsburg Austrian army under Alexander Suvorov and the Republican French army of Jacques MacDonald. Though the opposing armies were approximately equal in numbers, the Austro-Russians severely defeated the French, sustaining about 6,000 casualties while inflicting losses of 12,000 to 16,500 on their enemies. The War of the Second Coalition engagement occurred west of Piacenza, a city located 70 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of Milan.

Capitulation

The Austrians agreed to release most of the French garrison, keeping the officers for three months, and with soldiers pledging not to take arms until the prisoners were exchanged by the fighting sides. [2] In a secret protocol, however, the Austrians demanded full sovereignty over "deserters from the Austrian army". [2] After protests from the Polish officers — who were afraid that due to recent partitions of Poland in which Austria gained control over parts of Poland that the Austrians may want to take custody of the Polish legionnaires — the Austrian negotiator clarified officially that they meant any deserters from the current Austrian army or former Austrian soldiers serving in the Cisalpine Republic Army. [2]

Partitions of Poland forced partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The Partitions of Poland were three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that took place toward the end of the 18th century and ended the existence of the state, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland and Lithuania for 123 years. The partitions were conducted by Habsburg Austria, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Russian Empire, which divided up the Commonwealth lands among themselves progressively in the process of territorial seizures and annexations.

Cisalpine Republic French client republic in Northern Italy (1797-1802)

The Cisalpine Republic was a sister republic of France in Northern Italy that lasted from 1797 to 1802.

On 30 July the French and allied troops left the fortress. [4] The garrison troops were split into French and non-French units (of whom Poles still constituted 1,800); the Austrian soldiers observing the marching non-French garrison troops were given permission to physically assault those "recognized" as deserters and most of them were eventually arrested. [4] Polish officers — particularly those from the Austrian partition  — were forced to enlist in the Austrian army or deported to partitioned Poland, and a similar fate befell Polish NCOs and regular soldiers, many of whom were also forced to suffer physical punishment by being beaten with rods. [4] This marked the end of the Second Legion of the Polish Legions. [5] Foissac-Latour was later criticized by the Poles for what they considered "betrayal", but also by the French: for his surrender, Napoleon himself ordered Foissac-Latour stricken from the list of generals and forbade him to wear a military uniform. [4]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Obrona Mantui..., p.6-7
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Obrona Mantui..., p.8-9
  3. (in French) Bibliographie biographique ou dictionnaire de 26000 ouvrages, tant anciens que modernes (1750-1804)
  4. 1 2 3 4 Obrona Mantui..., p.10-11
  5. Otto Von Pivka; Michael Roffe (15 June 1974). Napoleon's Polish Troops. Osprey Publishing. p. 6. ISBN   978-0-85045-198-6 . Retrieved 9 May 2012.

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References

Coordinates: 45°09′36″N10°48′00″E / 45.1600°N 10.8000°E / 45.1600; 10.8000