« AnteriorContinuar »
The Venetian government displayed its sympathies for Austria, and the language of the French became that of hostility and menace.
The fate of Italy was not yet decided. Wurmser was coming to replace Beaulieu at the head of a new army chiefly drawn from that commanded in Germany by the Archduke Charles; 30,000 men had at the same time been despatched from Moreau's army to reinforce Bonaparte. † The latter calculated his force at but 56,000 men in June, whilst the Austrians, he said, had been reinforced to the number of 67,000. I
This avalanche came down the Tyrol on both sides of the Lake of Garda, towards the end of July, when Bonaparte wrote, ş “This is our unfortunate position.
has pierced our lines on three points. He is master of Rivoli and the Corona. Salo has been abandoned. The Austrians have taken Brescia and the Ponte San Marco, cutting off our communications with Milan and Verona.” He in consequence immediately ordered the abandonment of the siege of Mantua, with the guns in position, and bade the baggage to be directed back upon Milan.
With a force so slightly outnumbering that of the French, it was a hazardous plan which Wurmser adopted, of sending one portion of his army by the left of the Lake of Garda to capture Salo and Brescia, whilst with the other he descended the course of the Adige, driving Massena from Rivoli. His object was to unite the two divisions on the Mincio, and in this he might have succeeded, had not the Austrian commander marched to relieve and revictual Mantua, in the siege of which he supposed the French still engaged. Taking advantage of his absence, Bonaparte on the 31st marched westward from the Mincio to repel the division
Zschokke's Untergang. | Carnot.
| Napoleon Correspondence.
CHAP. under Quasdanowitsch that had captured Salo and
Brescia. This was fully accomplished on the 31st of July, the French marching all that night to Brescia, and driving Quasdanowitsch back into the gorges of the Tyrol. On the 2nd Bonaparte marched back from Brescia and found that in his absence the division which he had left to guard the Mincio, and had ordered at least not to retrograde beyond Castiglione, had been driven in, that the Austrians already occupied Lonato, and were extending between it and the lake to form a junction with Quasdanowitsch. They were not more than 30,000, Wurmser himself being still at Mantua, the French somewhat inferior. But in extending their right towards Salo, the Austrian commander weakened his position at Lonato, which Bonaparte immediately attacked on the 3rd. He drove in their centre, one portion of the Austrians withdrawing to the Mincio; the rest cut off from the main army, were after a time obliged to surrender, to the number of 3,000 with a score of
On the day after the battle one of these divisions came suddenly upon the French commander-in-chief, as he was engaged hurrying up his rearward troops to Castiglione. They called on the small corps to surrender. Bonaparte, surrounded by his staff, ordered the Austrian officer to be brought before him and affirming that he was there with his whole army, demanded in turn the instant surrender of the Austrians; these could not believe that the commander-in-chief would be there without his army, and surrendered in consequence--several thousands to a handful.
The battle of Castiglione, fought upon the 5th against Wurmser's force, brought back from Mantua, and rallying those which had retreated from Lonato, bore considerable resemblance to the battle fought at Solferino in our time.
* Napoleon's Mémoires, Gour despatch and Augereau's account in gaud. Correspondence. Las Casas, Pièces Justificatives of the MéMémorial de Ste. Hélène. Joubert's moires de Massena par Koch.
Both began on the same plain. Napoleon despatched CHAP.
XLII. Serrurier the night before to fall upon the Austrians' left wing. Massena fell upon their right. “ Augereau," writes Napoleon in his correspondence, "attacked the centre of the enemy which leaned upon the tower of Solferino, and driving it in decided the victory.” * According to Napoleon, these five days' fighting cost the Austrians 8,000 in killed and wounded, from 12,000 to 15,000 prisoners, and 70 guns. They cost the French, he says, 7,000 men. By the 7th of August the French had recovered all their old positions.
Wurmser, indeed, did not give up his cause as lost. He had retreated into the Tyrol, but still held Roveredo and Trent with the remainder of his beaten army, swelled by a reinforcement, according to the French, of 20,000 men. Bonaparte followed him up the Tyrol and fought with him the battle of Roveredo on the 4th of September, the French penetrating into that town along with the Austrians. Wurmser, though beaten, directed his march not back into Germany, but sideways towards Bassano, from whence he projected to return upon Verona whilst the French commander was still in the Tyrol. It was a bold but unfortunate idea. Followed closely by Bonaparte, beaten at Bassano as well as before Verona, he was nearly surrounded, but succeeded in escaping into Mantua with the mere relics of his army.
Whilst the genius of Bonaparte thus drove the Austrians from the plains of Lombardy, the efforts of his brother generals at the head of far superior armies could make no impression upon the Imperialists in Germany. Yet it was the desire and interest of the Directory that the young general should not monopolise victory. The French armies under Moreau and Jourdan on the upper and lower Rhine numbered 150,000 men. The Arch
The victory of Solferino in to the defection of an Hungarian our day, and the capture of its tower corps, posted to protect the defence. by the French, were chiefly owing An Eye-witness.
CHAP duke Charles, even after the departure of Wurmser with
30,000 men for Italy, was nearly as strong. The French passed the Rhine with two armies, Jourdan at Cologne, Moreau at Kehl, with the intention of meeting in the centre of Germany. The Archduke Charles at first retreated before them, but gave Moreau battle on the 11th of August at Neresheim. The combatants lost each about 7,000 men, the French kept possession of the field, but the junction of Moreau with Jourdan was prevented. On the 3rd of September, Jourdan gave battle to the Archduke for the purpose of effecting what Moreau had failed in accomplishing. The engagement took place at Wurzburg, but the French were defeated by the archduke and Jourdan's army driven back upon the Rhine. Moreau advanced as far as Munich, and was thus in Bavaria in the first days of September, whilst Bonaparte was engaged with Wurmser. The latter believed that the two French generals would unite, and in this belief he made his unfortunate point upon Verona. But Moreau could go no farther. The Archduke Charles, after the defeat of Jourdan, watched every opportunity for overwhelming his brother general, and all Moreau could do was to bring back his army to Strasbourg. His retreat across the Black Forest is compared by French writers to that of the Ten Thousand. It is not easy to discern the similitude.
These successes of the Archduke Charles compensated at Vienna the victory of Bonaparte, and even after the last defeat it was determined to send a fresh
down the Tyrol upon Verona, under the command of Alvinzi, to the relief of Wurmser, who was by no means provided for supporting a long siege in Mantua. The force collected for this purpose amounted to some 50,000 men, of which one portion under Davidowitsch was to take the accustomed road down the Adige to Verona; the rest Alvinzi proposed to bring to Vicenza, and thus approach Verona and Mantua from Venetia. In both
directions the Austrians were successful. Early in November, Davidowitsch drove General Vaubois from the valley of the Adige back upon Verona, whilst Massena and Augereau were obliged to retire from Vicenza to the same town.
The Austrian generals took post on the heights of Caldiero, eastward of Verona. Bonaparte marched from this city on the 12th to attack them, but was repulsed, and for the first time found himself worsted. He vented his anger and despair, the latter more than half affected, in a despatch to the Directory, complaining of their leaving him so inferior in number to the enemy. To rest under defeat was, however, to draw down destruction. He had tried in vain to dislodge the Austrians from Caldiero by attacking them from Verona. To reach them from the other side was difficult, for the only way led through marshes, and to attempt this would expose Verona. Yet the French general risked it. He marched from Verona south-east by the Adige, passed over it to the marshes, and directed his column on the 11th of November along the raised roads by which " he hoped to reach Villanuova and the enemy's rear by the first light of morning."* He was stopped, however, by the Alpon river and the bridge of Arcola which crosses it, where a regiment of Croats kept guard. Not to force a passage seemed to be to lose the whole aim of the expedition, and accordingly every effort was made by the French to do so. Attack after attack failing, the last was led by Napoleon in person, who planted a flag upon the bridge and led on a truly forlorn hope. The generals and aides-de-camp covered him with their persons, but all were shot or wounded, and he himself, dragged back from the inexpugnable bridge by his soldiers, was well nigh drowned in the morass which engulfed him to the middle. There was no taking or passing the bridge till the next day, the Alpon having
* His Correspondence.