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Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 194 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TILE WAR IN ITALY 1793—97 Hitherto we have ignored the operations on the Italian frontier, partly because they were of minor importance and partly because the conditions out of which Napoleon's first campaign arose can be best considered in connexion with that campaign itself, from which indeed the previous operations derive such light as they possess. It has been mentioned that in 1792 the French overran Savoy and Nice. In 1793 the Sardinian army and a small auxiliary corps of Austrians waged a desultory mountain warfare against the Army of the Alps about Briancon and the Army of Italy on the Var. That furious offensive on the part of the French, which signalized the year 1793 elsewhere, was made impossible here by the counter-revolution in the cities of the Midi. In 1794, when this had been crushed, the intention of the French government was to take the offensive against the Austro-Sardinians. The first operation was to be the capture of Oneglia. The concentration of large forces in the lower Rhone valley had naturally infringed upon the areas told off for the provisioning of the Armies of the Alps (Kellermann) and of Italy (Dumerbion); indeed, the sullen population could hardly be induced to feed the troops suppressing the revolt, still less the distant frontier armies. Thus the only source of supply was the Riviera of Genoa: " Our connexion with this district is imperilled by the corsairs of Oneglia (a Sardinian town) owing to the cessation of our operations afloat. The army is living from hand to mouth," wrote the younger Robespierre in September 1793. Vessels bearing supplies from Genoa could not avoid the corsairs by taking the open sea, for there the British fleet was supreme. Carnot therefore ordered the Army of Italy to capture Oneglia, and 21,000 men (the rest of the 67,000 effectives were held back for coast defence) began operations in April. The French left moved against the enemy's positions on the main road over the Col di Tenda, the centre towards Ponte di Nava, and the right saorgio. along the Riviera. All met with success, thanks to Massena's bold handling of the centre column. Not only was Oneglia captured, but also the Col di Tenda. Napoleon Bonaparte served in these affairs on the headquarter staff. Meantime the Army of the Alps had possessed itself of the Little St Bernard and Mont Cenis, and the Republicans were now masters of several routes into Piedmont (May). But the Alpine roads merely led to fortresses, and both Carnot and Bonaparte—Napoleon had by now captivated the younger Robespierre and become the leading spirit in Dumerbion's army—considered that the Army of the Alps should be weakened to the profit of the Army of Italy, and that the time had come to disregard the feeble neutrality of Genoa, and to advance over the Col di Tenda. Napoleon's first suggestion for a rapid condensation of the French cordon, and an irresistible blow on the centre of the Allies Napoleon by Tenda-Coni,' came to nothing owing to the waste in 1794. of time in negotiations between the generals and the distant Committee, and meanwhile new factors came into play. The capture of the pass of Argentera by the right wing of the Army of the Alps suggested that the main effort should be made against the barrier fortress of Demonte, but here again Napoleon proposed a concentration of effort on the primary and economy of force in the secondary objective. About the same time, in a memoir on the war in general, he laid down his most 1 Liguria was not at this period thought of, even by Napoleon, as anything more than a supply area.of a siege. Fire must be concentrated on one point, and as soon as the breach is made, the equilibrium is broken and the rest is nothing." In the domain of tactics he was and remains the principal exponent of the art of breaking the equilibrium, and already he imagined the solution of problems of policy and strategy on the same lines. " Austria is the great enemy; Austria crushed, Germany, Spain, Italy fall of themselves. We must not disperse, but concentrate our attack." Napoleon argued that Austria could be effectively wounded by an offensive against Piedmont, and even more effectively by an ulterior advance from Italian soil into Germany. In pursuance of the single aim he asked for the appointment of a single commanderin-chief to hold sway from Bayonne to the Lake of Geneva, and for the rejection of all schemes for " revolutionizing " Italy till after the defeat of the arch-enemy. Operations, however, did not after all take either of these forms. The younger Robespierre perished with his brother in the coup d'etat, of 9th Thermidor, the advance was suspended, and Bonaparte, amongst other leading spirits of the Army of Italy, was arrested and imprisoned. Profiting by this moment, Austria increased her auxiliary corps. An Austrian general took command of the whole of the allied forces, and pronounced a threat from the region of Cairo (where the Austrians took their place on the left wing of the combined army) towards the Riviera. The French, still dependent on Genoa for supplies, had to take the offensive at once to save themselves from starvation, and the result was the expedition of Dego, planned chiefly by Napoleon, who had been released from prison and was at headquarters, though unemployed. The movement began on the 17th of September; and although the Austrian general Colloredo repulsed an attack at Dego (Sept. 21) he retreated to Acqui, and the incipient offensive of the Allies ended abruptly. The first months of the winter of 1794-1795 were spent in re-equipping the troops, who stood in sore need after their rapid movements in the mountains. For the future operations, the enforced condensation of the army on its right wing with the object of protecting its line of supply to Genoa and the dangers of its cramped situation on the Riviera suggested a plan roughly resembling one already recommended by Napoleon, who had since the affair of Dego become convinced that the way into Italy was through the Apennines and not the Alps. The essence of this was to anticipate the enemy by a very early and rapid advance from Vado towards Carcare by the Ceva road, the only good road of which the French disposed and which they significantly called the chemin de canon. The plan, however, came to nothing; the Committee, which now changed its personnel at fixed intervals, was in consequence wavering and non-committal, troops were withdrawn Scherer for a projected invasion of Corsica, and in November and 1794 Dumerbion was replaced by Scherer, who Keller-assembled only 17,000 of his 54,000 effectives for field mane. operations, and selected as his line of advance the Col di Tenda-Coni road. Scherer, besides being hostile to any suggestion emanating from Napoleon, was impressed with the apparent danger to his right wing concentrated in the narrow Riviera, which it was at this stage impossible to avert by a sudden and early assumption of the offensive. After a brief tenure Scherer was transferred to the Spanish frontier, but Kellermann, who now received command of the Army of Italy in addition to his own, took the same view as his predecessor—the view of the ordinary general. But not even the Scherer plan was put into execution, for spring had scarcely arrived when the prospect of renewed revolts in the south of France practically paralysed the army. This encouraged the enemy to deliver the blow that had so long been feared. The combined forces, under Devins,—the Sardinians, the Austrian auxiliary corps and the newly arrived Austrian main army,—advanced together and forced the French right wing to evacuate Vado and the Genoese littoral. But at this juncture the conclusion of peace with Spain released the Pyrenees armies, and Scherer returned to the Army of Italy at the head of reinforcements. He was faced with a difficult situation, but he had the means wherewith to meet it, as Napoleon promptly pointed out. Up to this, Napoleon said, the French commanded the mountain crest, and therefore covered Savoy and Nice, and also Oneglia, Loano and Vado, the ports of the Riviera. But now that Vado was lost the breach was made. Genoa was cut off, and the south of France was the only remaining resource for the army commissariat. Vado must therefore be retaken and the line reopened to Genoa, and to do this it was essential first to close up the over-extended cordon—and with the greatest rapidity, lest the enemy, with the shorter line to move on, should gather at the point of contact before the French—and to advance on Vado. Further, knowing (as every one knew) that the king of Sardinia was not inclined to continue the struggle indefinitely, he predicted that this ruler would make peace once the French army had established itself in his dominions, and for this the way into the interior, he asserted, was the great road Savona-Ceva. But Napoleon's mind ranged beyond the immediate future. He calculated that once the French advanced the Austrians would seek to cover Lombardy, the Piedmontese Turin, and this separation, already morally accomplished, it was to be the French general's task to accentuate in fact. Next, Sardinia having been coerced into peace, the Army of Italy would expel the Austrians from Lombardy, and connect its operations with those of the French in South Germany by way of Tirol. The supply question, once the soldiers had gained the rich valley of the Po, would solve itself. This was the essence of the first of four memoranda on this subject prepared by Napoleon in his Paris office. The second Loano. indicated the means of coercing Sardinia—first the Austrians were to be driven or scared away towards Alessandria, then the French army would turn sharp to the left, driving the Sardinians eastward and north-eastward through Ceva, and this was to be the signal for the general invasion of Piedmont from all sides. In the third paper he framed an elaborate plan for the retaking of Vado, and in the fourth he summarized the contents of the other three. Having thus cleared his own mind as to the conditions and the solution of the problem, he did his best to secure the command for himself. The measures recommended by Napoleon were translated into a formal and detailed order to recapture Vado. To Napoleon the miserable condition of the Army of Italy was the most urgent incentive to prompt action. In Scherer's judgment, however, the army was unfit to take the field, and therefore ex hypothesi to attack Vado, without thorough reorganization, and it was only in November that the advance was finally made. It culminated, thanks once more to the resolute Massena, in the victory of Loano (November 23-24). But Scherer thought more of the destitution of his own army than of the fruits of success, and contented himself with resuming possession of the Riviera. Meanwhile the Mentor whose suggestions and personality were equally repugnant to Scherer had undergone strange vicissitudes of fortune—dismissal from the headquarters' staff, expulsion from the list of general officers, and then the " whiff of grapeshot " of 13th Vendemiaire, followed shortly by his marriage with Josephine, and his nomination to command the Army of Italy. These events had neither shaken his cold resolution nor disturbed his balance. The Army of Italy spent the winter of 1795-1796 as before in the narrow Riviera, while on the one side, just over the mountains, lay the Austro-Sardinians, and on the other, out of Napoleon range of the coast batteries but ready to pounce on the command. supply ships, were the British frigates. On Bonaparte's left Kellermann, with no more than 18,000,.maintained a string of posts between Lake Geneva and the Argentera as before. Of the Army of Italy, 7000 watched the Tenda road and 20,000 men the coast-line. There remained for active operations some 27,000 men, ragged, famished and suffering in every way in spite of their victory of Loano. The Sardinian and Austrian auxiliaries (Colli), 25,000 men, lay between Mondovi and Ceva, a force strung out in the Alpine valleys opposed Kellermann, and the main Austrian army (commanded by Beaulieu), in widely extended cantonments between Acqui and Milan, numbered 27,000 field troops. Thus the short-lived concentration of all the allied forces for the battle against Scherer had ended in a fresh separation. Austria was far more concerned with Poland than with the moribund French question, and committed as few of her troops as possible to this distant and secondary theatre of war. As for Piedmont, " peace " was almost the universal cry, even within the army. All this scarcely affected the regimental spirit and discipline of the Austrian squadrons and battalions, which had now recovered from the defeat of Loano. But they were important factors for the new general-in-chief on the Riviera, and formed the basis of his strategy. Napoleon's first task was far more difficult than the writing of memoranda. He had to grasp the reins and to prepare his troops, morally and physically, for active work. It was not merely that a young general with many enemies, a political favourite of the moment, had been thrust upon the army. The army itself was in a pitiable condition. Whole companies with their officers went plundering in search of mere food, the horses had never received as much as half-rations for a year past, and even the generals were half-starved. Thousands of men were barefooted and hundreds were without arms. But in a few days he had secured an almost incredible ascendancy over the sullen, starved, half-clothed army. " Soldiers," he told them, " you are famished and nearly naked. The government owes you much, but can do nothing for you. Your patience, your courage, do you honour, but give you no glory, no advantage. I will lead you into the most fertile plains of the world. There you will find great towns, rich provinces. There you will find honour, glory and riches. Soldiers of Italy, will you be wanting in courage ? " Such words go far, and little as he was able to supply material deficiencies—all he could do was to expel rascally contractors, sell a captured privateer for £5000 and borrow £2500 from Genoa—he cheerfully told the Directory on the 28th of March that " the worst was over." He augmented his army of operations to about 40,000, at the expense of the coast divisions, and set on foot also two small cavalry divisions, mounted on the half-starved horses that had survived the winter. Then he announced that the army was ready and opened the campaign. The first plan, emanating from Paris, was that, after an expedition towards Genoa to assist in raising a loan there, the army should march against Beaulieu, previously neutralizing the Sardinians by the occupation of Ceva. When Beaulieu was beaten it was thought probable that the Piedmontese would enter into an alliance with the French against their former comrades. A second plan, however, authorized the general to begin by subduing the Piedmontese to the extent necessary to bring about peace and alliance, and on this Napoleon acted. If the present separation of the Allies continued, he proposed to overwhelm the Sardinians first, before the Austrians could assemble from winter quarters, and then to turn on Beaulieu. If, on the other hand, the Austrians, before he could strike his blow, united with Colli, he proposed to frighten them into separating again by moving on Acqui and Alessandria. Hence Carcare, where the road from Acqui joined the "cannon-road," was the first objective of his march, and from there he could manceuvre and widen the breach between the allied armies. His scattered left wing would assist in the attack on the Sardinians as well as it could—for the immediate attack on the Austrians its co-operation would of course have been out of the question. In any case he grudged every week spent in administrative preparation. The delay due to this, as a matter of fact, allowed a new situation to develop. Beaulieu was himself the first to move, and he moved towards Genoa instead of towards his Allies. The gap between the two allied wings was thereby widened, but it was no longer possible for the French to use it, for their plan of destroying Colli while Beaulieu was ineffective had collapsed. In connexion with the Genoese loan, and to facilitate the movement of supply convoys, a small French force had been pushed forward to Voltri. Bonaparte ordered it back as soon as he arrived at the front, but the alarm was given. The Austrians broke up from winter quarters at once, and rather than lose the food supplies at Voltri, Bonaparte actually reinforced Massena at that place, and gave him orders to hold on as long as possible, cautioning him only to watch his left rear (Montenotte). But he did not abandon his purpose. Starting from the new condi- tions, he devised other means, as we shall see, for reducing Beaulieu to ineffectiveness. ' Meanwhile Beaulieu's plan of offensive operations, such as they were, developed. The French advance to Voltri had not only spurred him into activity, but convinced him that the bulk of the French army lay east of Savona. He therefore made Voltri the objective of a converging attack, not with the intention of destroying the French opening army but with that of " cutting its communications move- menu. with Genoa," and expelling it from " the only place in the Riviera where there were sufficient ovens to bake its bread." (Beaulieu to the Aulic Council, 15 April.) The Sardinians and auxiliary Austrians were ordered to extend leftwards on Dego to close the gap that Beaulieu's advance on Genoa-Voltri opened up, which they did, though only half-heartedly and in small force, for, unlike Beaulieu, they knew that masses of the enemy were still in the western stretch of the Riviera. The rightmost of Beaulieu's own columns was on the road between Acqui and Savona with orders to seize Monte Legino as an advanced post, the others were to converge towards Voltri from the Genoa side and the mountain passes about Campofreddo and Sassello. The wings were therefore so far connected that Colli wrote to Beaulieu on this day " the enemy will never dare to place himself between our two armies." The event belied the prediction, and the proposed minor operation against granaries and bakeries became the first act of a decisive campaign. On the night of the 9th of April the French were grouped as follows: brigades under Garnier and Macquard at the Finestre and Tenda passes, Serurier's division and Rusca's brigade east of Garessio; Augereau's division about Loano, Meynier's at Finale, Laharpe's at Savona with an outpost on the Monte Legino, and Cervoni's brigade at Voltri. Massena was in general charge of the last-named units. The cavalry was far in rear beyond Loano. Colli's army, excluding the troops in the valleys that led into Dauphine, was around Coni and Mondovi-Ceva, the latter group connecting with Beaulieu by a detachment under Provera between Millesimo and Carcare. Of Beaulieu's army, Argenteau's division, still concentrating to the front in many small bodies, extended over the area Acqui-Dego-Sassello. Vukassovich's brigade was equally extended between Ovada and the mountain-crests above Voltri, and Pittoni's division was grouped around Gavi and the Bocchetta, the two last units being destined for the attack on Voltri. Farther to the rear was Sebottendorf's division around Alessandria-Tortona. On the afternoon of the loth Beaulieu delivered his blow at Voltri, not, as he anticipated, against three-quarters of the French army, but against Cervoni's detachment. This, after a long irregular fight, slipped away in the night to Savona. Discovering his mistake next morning, Beaulieu sent back some of his battalions to join Argenteau. But there was no road by which they could do so save the detour through Acqui and Dego, and long before they arrived Argenteau's advance on Monte Legino had forced on the crisis. On the 1th (a day behind time), this general drove in the French outposts, but he soon came on three battalions under Colonel Rampon, who threw himself into some old earthworks that lay near, and said to his men, " We must win or die here, my friends." His redoubt and his men stood the trial well, and when day broke on the 12th Bonaparte was ready to deliver his first " Napoleon-stroke." The principle that guided him in the subsequent operations may be called " superior numbers at the decisive point." Touch moats- had been gained with the enemy all along the long line none, between the Tenda and Voltri, and he decided to concentrate swiftlyuponthe nearest enemy—Argenteau. Augereau's division, or such part of it as could march at once, was ordered to Mallare, picking up here and there on the way a few horsemen and guns. Massena, with 9000 men, was to send two brigades in the direction of Carcare and Altare, and with the third to swing round Argenteau's right and to head for Montenotte village in his rear. Laharpe with 7000 (it had become clear that the enemy at Voltri would not pursue their advantage) was to join Rampon, leaving only Cervoni and two battalions in Savona. Serurier and Rusca were to keep the Sardinians in front of them occupied. The far-distant brigades of Garnier and Macquard stood fast, but the cavalry drew eastward as quickly as its condition permitted. In rain and mist on the early morning of the 12th the French marched up from all quarters, while Argenteau's men waited in their cold bivouacs for light enough to resume their attack on Monte Legino. About 9 the mists cleared, and heavy fighting began, but Laharpe held the mountain, and the vigorous Massena with his nearest brigade stormed forward against Argenteau's right. A few hours later, seeing Augereau's columns heading for their line of retreat, the Austrians retired, sharply pressed, on Dego. The threatened intervention of Provera was checked by Augereau's presence at Carcare. Montenotte was a brilliant victory, and one can imagine its effects on the but lately despondent soldiers of the Army of Italy, for all imagined that Beaulieu's main body had been defeated. This was far from being the case, however, and although the French spent the night of the battle at Cairo-Carcare-Montenotte, midway between the allied wings, only two-thirds of Argenteau's force, and none of the other divisions, had been beaten, and the heaviest fighting was to come. This became evident on the afternoon of the 13th, but meanwhile Bonaparte, eager to begin at once the subjugation of the Piedmontese (for which purpose he wanted to bring Serurier and Rusca into play) sent only Laharpe's division and a few details of Massena's, under the latter, towards Dego. These were to protect the main attack from interference by the forces that had been engaged at Montenotte (presumed to be Beaulieu's main body), the said main attack being delivered by fl[eFimo. Augereau's division, reinforced by most of Massena's, on the positions held by Provera. The latter, only loon strong to Augereau's 9000, shut himself in the castle of Cossaria, which he defended a la Rampon against a series of furious assaults. Not until the morning of the 14th was his surrender secured, after his ammunition and food had been exhausted. Argenteau also won a day's respite on the 13th, for Laharpe did not join Massena till late, and nothing took place opposite Dego but a little skirmishing. During the day Bonaparte saw English Miles French... .r Austrians " _0 Sardinians !s. Z Sketch of the positions occupied on the night of April µch. for himself that he had overrated the effects of Montenotte. Beaulieu, on the other hand, underrated them, treating it as a mishap which was more than counterbalanced by his own success in " cutting off the French from Genoa." He began to reconstruct his line on the front Dego-Sassello, trusting to Colli to harry the French until the Voltri troops had finished their detour through Acqui and rejoined Argenteau. This, of course, presumed that Argenteau's troops were intact and Colli's able to move, which was not the case with either. Not until the afternoon of the 14th did Beaulieu place a few extra battalions at Argenteau's disposal " to be used only in case of extreme necessity," and order Vukassovich from the region of Sassello to " make a diversion " against the French right with two battalions. Thus Argenteau, already shaken, was exposed to destruction. On the 14th, after Provera's surrender, Massena and Laharpe, reinforced until they had nearly a two-to-one superior- Dego. ity, stormed Dego and killed or captured 3000 of Argenteau's 5500 men, the remnant retreating in disorder to Acqui. But nothing was done towards the accomplishment of the purpose of destroying Colli on that day, save that Serurier and Rusca began to close in to meet the main body between Ceva and Millesimo. Moreover, the victory at Dego had produced its usual results on the wild fighting swarms of the Republicans, who threw themselves like hungry wolves on the little town, without pursuing the beaten enemy or even placing a single outpost on the Acqui road. In this state, during the early hours of the 15th, Vukassovich's brigade,' marching up from Sassello, surprised them, and they broke and fled in an instant. The whole morning had to be spent in rallying them at Cairo, and Bonaparte had for the second time to postpone his union with Serurier and Rusca, who meanwhile, isolated from one another and from the main army, were groping forward in the mountains. A fresh assault on Dego was ordered, and after very severe fighting, Massena and Laharpe succeeded late in the evening in retaking it. Vukassovich lost heavily, but retired steadily and in order on Spigno. The killed and wounded numbered probably about l000 French and 1500 Austrians, out of considerably less than 1o,000 engaged on each side—a loss which contrasted very forcibly with those suffered in other battles of the Revolutionary Wars, and by teaching the Army of Italy to bear punishment, imbued it with self-confidence. But again success bred disorder, and there was a second orgy in the houses and streets of Dego which went on till late in the morning and paralysed the whole army. This was perhaps the crisis of the campaign. Even now it was not certain that the Austrians had been definitively pushed aside, while it was quite clear that Beaulieu's main body was intact and Colli was still more an unknown quantity. But Napoleon's intention remained the same, to attack the Piedmontese as quickly and as heavily as possible, Beaulieu being held in check by a containing force under Massena and Laharpe. The remainder of the army, counting in now Rusca and Serurier, was to move westward towards Ceva. This disposition, while it illustrates the Napoleonic principle of delivering a heavy blow on the selected target and warding off interference at other points, shows also the difficulty of rightly apportioning the available means between the offensive mass and the defensive system, for, as it turned out, Beaulieu was already sufficiently scared, and thought of nothing but self-defence on the line Acqui-Ovada-Bocchetta, while the French offensive mass was very weak compared with Colli's unbeaten and now fairly concentrated army about Ceva and Montezemolo. On the afternoon of the 16th the real advance was begun by Augereau's division, reinforced by other troops. Rusca joined Augereau towards evening, and Serurier approached Ceva from the south. Colli's object was now to spin out time, and having repulsed a weak attack by Augereau, and feeling able to repeat these tactics on each successive spur of the Apennines, Vukassovich had received Beaulieu's order to demonstrate with two battalions, and also appeals for help from Argenteau. He therefore brought most of his troops with him.he retired in the night to a new position behind the Cursaglia.. On the 17th, reassured by the absence of fighting on the Dego side, and by the news that no enemy remained at Sassello, Bonaparte released Massena from Dego, leaving only Laharpe there, and brought him over towards the right of the main body, which thus on the evening of the 17th formed a long straggling line on both sides of Ceva, Serurier on the left, echeloned forward, Augereau, Joubert and Rusca in the centre, and Massena, partly as support, partly as flank guard, on Augereau's right rear.. Serurier had been bidden to extend well out and to strive to get contact with Massena, i.e. to encircle the enemy. There was no longer any idea of waiting to besiege Ceva, although the artillery train had been ordered up from the Riviera by the " cannon-road " for eventual use there. Further, the line of supply, as an extra guarantee against interference, was changed from that of Savona-Carcare to that of Loano-Bardinetto. When this was accomplished, four clear days could be reckoned on with certainty in which to deal with Colli. The latter, still expecting the Austrians to advance to his assistance, had established his corps (not more than 12,000 muskets in all) in the immensely strong positions of the Cursaglia, with a thin line of posts on his left San Michele. stretching towards Cherasco, whence he could com- municate, by a roundabout way, with Acqui. Opposite this position the long straggling line of the French arrived, after many delays due to the weariness of the troops, on the 19th A day of irregular fighting followed, everywhere to the advantage of the defenders. Napoleon, fighting against time, ordered a fresh attack on the loth, and only desisted when it became evident that the army was exhausted, and, in particular, when Serurier reported frankly that without bread the soldiers would not march. The delay thus imposed, however, enabled him to clear the " cannon-road " of all vehicles, and to bring up the Dego detachment to replace Massena in the valley of the western Bormida, the latter coming in to the main army. Further, part at any rate of the convoy service was transferred still farther westward to the line Albenga-Garessio-Ceva. Nelson's fleet, that had so powerfully contributed to force the French inland, was becoming less and less innocuous. If leadership and force of character could overcome internal friction, all the success he had hoped for was now within the young commander's grasp. Twenty-four thousand men, for the first time with a due proportion of cavalry and artillery, were now disposed along Colli's front and beyond his right flank. Colli, out- numbered by two to one and threatened with en- Mondovi. velopment, decided once more to retreat, and the Republicans occupied the Cursaglia lines on the morning of the 21st without firing a shot. But Colli halted again at Vico, half-way to Mondovi (in order, it is said, to protect the evacuation of a small magazine he had there), and while he was in this unfavourable situation the pursuers came on with true Republican swiftness, lapped round his flanks and crushed him. A few days later (27th April), the armistice of Cherasco put an end to the campaign before the Austrians moved a single battalion to his assistance. The interest of the campaign being above all Napoleonic, its moral must be found by discovering the " Napoleon touch " that differentiated it from other Revolutionary campaigns. A great deal is common to all, on both sides. The Austrians TNapoleon and Sardinians worked together at least as effectively as touch." the Austrians, Prussians, British and Dutch in the Nether- lands. Revolutionary energy was common to the Army of Italy and to the Army of the North. Why, therefore, when the war dragged on from one campaign to another in the great plains of the Meuse and Rhine countries, did Napoleon bring about so swift a decision in these cramped valleys? The answer is to be found partly in the exigencies of the supply service, but still more in Napoleon's own personality and the strategy born of it. The first, as we have seen, was at the end of its resources when Beaulieu placed himself across the Genoa road. Action of some sort was the plain alternative to starvation, and at this point Napoleon's personality intervened. He would have no quarter-rations on the Riviera, but plenty and to spare beyond the mountains. If there were many thousand soldiers who marched unarmed and shoeless in the ranks, it was towards " the Promised Land " that he led them. He looked always to the end, and met each day as if with full expectation of attaining it before sunset. Strategical conditions and " new French " methods of war did not save Bonaparte in the two crises—the Dego rout and the sullen halt of the army at San Michele—but the personality which made the soldiers, on the way to Montenotte, march barefoot past a wagon-load of new boots. We have said that Napoleon's strategy was the result of this personal magnetism. Later critics evolved from his success the theory of " interior lines," and then accounted for it by applying the criterion they had evolved. Actually, the form in which the will to conquer found expression was in many important respects old. What, therefore, in the theory or its application was the product of Napoleon's own genius and will-power? A comparison with Souham's campaign of Tourcoing will enable us to answer this question. To begin with, Souham found himself midway between Coburg and Clerfayt almost by accident, and his utilization of the advantages of his position was an expedient for the given case. Napoleon, however, placed himself deliberately and by fighting his way thither, in an analogous situation at Carcare and Cairo. Military opinion of the time considered it dangerous, as indeed it was, for no theory can alter the fact that had not Napoleon made his men fight harder and march farther than usual, he would have been destroyed. The effective play of forces on interior lines depends on the two conditions that the outer enemies are not so near together as to give no time for the inner mass to defeat one before the arrival of the other, and that they are not so far apart that before one can be brought to action the other has inflicted serious damage elsewhere. Neither condition was fully met at any time in the Montenotte campaign. On the I1th Napoleon knew that the attack on Voltri had been made by a part only of the Austrian forces, yet he flung his own masses on Montenotte. On the 13th he thought that Beaulieu's main body was at Dego and Colli's at Millesimo, and on this assumption had to exact the most extraordinary efforts from Augereau's troops at Cossaria. On the lath and loth he tried to exclude the risks of the Austrians' intervention, and with this the chances of a victory over them to follow his victory over Colli, by transferring the centre of gravity of his army to Ceva and Garessio, and fighting it out with Colli alone. It was not, in fact, to gain a position on interior lines—with respect to two opponents—that Napoleon pushed his army to Carcare. Before the campaign began he hoped by using the " cannon-road " to destroy the Piedmontese before the Austrians were in existence at all as an army. But on the news from Voltri and Monte Legino he swiftly " concentrated fire, made the breach, and broke the equilibrium " at the spot where the interests and forces of the two Allies converged and diverged. The hypothesis in the first case was that the Austrians were practically non-existent, and the whole object in the second was to breach the now connected front of the Allies (" strategic penetration ") and to cause them to break up into two separate systems. More, having made the breach, he had the choice (which he had not before) of attacking either the Austrians or the Sardinians, as every critic has pointed out. Indeed the Austrians offered by far the better target. But he neither wanted nor used the new alternative. His purpose was to crush Piedmont. " My enemies saw too much at once," said Napoleon. Singleness of aim and of purpose, the product of clear thinking and of " personality," was the foundation-stone of the new form of strategy. In the course of subduing the Sardinians, Napoleon found himself placed on interior lines between two hostile masses, and another new idea, that of " relative superiority," reveals itself. Whereas Souham had been in superior force (90,000 against 70,000), Napoleon (40,000 against 50,000) was not, and yet the Army of Italy was always placed in a position of relative superiority (at first about 3 to 2 and ultimately 2 to I) to the immediate antagonist. " The essence of strategy," said Napoleon in 1797, " is, with a weaker army, always to have more force at the crucial point than the enemy. But this art is taught neither by books nor by practice; it is a matter of tact." In this he expressed the result of his victories on his own mind rather than a preconceived formula which produced those victories. But the idea, though undefined, and the method of practice, though imperfectly worked out, were in his mind from the first. As soon as he had made the breach, he widened it by pushing out Massena and Laharpe on the one hand and Augereau on the other. This is mere common sense. But immediately afterwards though preparing to throw all available forces against Colli, he posted Massena and Laharpe at Dego to guard, not like Vandamme on the Lys against a real and pressing enemy, but against a possibility, and he only diminished the strength and altered the position of this containing detachment in proportion as the Austrian danger dwindled. Later in his career he defined this offensive-defensive system as " having all possible strength at the decisive point," and " being nowhere vulnerable," and the art of reconciling these two requirements, in each case as it arose, was always the principal secret of his generalship. At first his precautions (judged by events Relative and not by the probabilities of the moment) were excessive, a and the offensive mass small. But the latter was handled -Perm- by a general untroubled by multiple aims and anxieties, ity. and if such self-confidence was equivalent to io,00o men on the battlefield, it was legitimate to detach 10,000 men to secure. it. These to,000 were posted 8 m. out on the dangerousflank, not almost back to back with the main body as Vandamme had been,' and although this distance was but little compared to those of his later campaigns, when he employed small armies far the same purpose, it sufficed in this difficult mountain country, where the covering force enjoyed the advantage of strong positions. Of course, if Colli had been better concentrated, or if Beaulieu had been more active, the calculated proportions between covering force and main body might have proved fallacious, and the system on which Napoleon's relative superiority rested might have broken down. But the point is that such a system, however rough its first model, had been imagined and put into practice. This was Napoleon's individual art of war, as raiding bakeries and cutting communications were Beaulieu's speciality. Napoleon made the art into a science, and in our own time, with modern conditions of effective, armament and communications, it is more than possible that Moreaus and Jourdans will prove able to practise it with success. But in the old conditions it required a Napoleon. " Strategy," said Moltke, " is a system of expedients." But it was the intense personal force, as well as the genius, of Napoleon that forged these expedients into a system. The first phase of the campaign satisfactorily settled, Napoleon was free to turn his attention to the " arch-enemy " to whom he was now considerably superior in numbers (35,000 to 25,000). The day after the signature of the armistice of Cherasco he began preparing for a new advance and also for the role of arbiter of the destinies of Italy. Many whispers there were, even in his own army, as to the dangers of passing on without " revolutionizing "aristocratic Genoa and monarchical Piedmont, and of bringing Venice, the pope and the Italian princes into the field against the French. But Bonaparte, flushed with victory, and better informed than the malcontents of the real condition of Italy, never hesitated. His first object was to drive out Beaulieu, his second to push through Tirol, and his only serious restriction the chance that the armistice with Piedmont would not result in a definitive treaty. Beaulieu had fallen back into Lombardy, and now bordered the Po right and left of Valenza. To achieve further progress, Napoleon had first to cross that river, and the point and method of crossing was the immediate problem, a problem the more difficult as Napoleon had no bridge train and could only make use of such existing bridges as he could seize intact .2 If he crossed above Valenza, he would be confronted by one river-line after another, on one of which at least Beaulieu would probably stand to fight. But quite apart from the immediate problem, Napoleon's intention was less to beat the Austrians than to dislodge them. He needed a foothold in Lombardy which would make him independent of, and even a menace to, Piedmont. If this were assured, he could for a few weeks entirely ignore his communications with France and strike out against Beaulieu, dethrone the king of Sardinia, or revolutionize Parma, Modena and the papal states according to circumstances. Milan, therefore, was his objective, and Tortona-Piacenza his route thither. To give himself every chance, he had stipulated with the Piedmontese authorities for the right of passing at Valenza, and he had the satisfaction of seeing Beaulieu fall into the trap and concentrate opposite that part of the river. The French meantime had moved to the region Alessandria-Tortona. Thence on the 6th of May Bonaparte, with a picked body of troops, set out for a forced march on Piacenza, and that night the advanced guard was 30 M. on the way, at Castel San Giovanni, and Laharpe's and the cavalry divisions at Stradella, ro m. behind them. Augereau was at Broni, Massena at Sale and Serurier near Valenza, the whole forming a rapidly extending fan, 50 M. from point to point. If the Piacenza detachment succeeded in crossing, the army was to follow rapidly in its track. If, on the other hand, Beaulieu fell We have seen that after Tourcoing, taught by experience, Souham posted Vandamme's covering force 14 or 15 M. out. But Napoleon's disposition was in advance of experience. 2 The proposed alliance with the Sardinians came to nothing. The kings of Sardinia had always made their alliance with either Austria or France conditional on cessions of conquered territory.. But, according to Thiers, the Directory only desired to conquer the Milanese to restore it to Austria in return for the definitive cession of the Austrian Netherlands. If this be so, Napoleon's proclamations of " freedom for Italy " were, if not a mere political expedient, at any rate no more than an expression of his own desires which he was not powerful enough to enforce. Piacenza. back to oppose the advanced guard, the Valenza divisions would take advantage of his absence to cross there. In either case, be it observed, the Austrians were to be evaded, not brought to action. On the morning of the 7th, the swift advanced guard under General Dallemagne crossed at Piacenza,' and, hearing of this, Bonaparte ordered every division except Serurier's thither with all possible speed. In the exultation of the moment he mocked at Beaulieu's incapacity, but the old Austrian was already on the alert. This game of manceuvres he understood; already one of his divisions had arrived in close proximity to Dallemagne and the others were marching eastward by all available roads. It was not until the 8th that the French, after a series of partial encounters, were securely established on the left bank of the Po, and Beaulieu had given up the idea of forcing their most advanced troops to accept battle at a disadvantage. The success of the French was due less to their plan than to their mobility, which enabled them first to pass the river before the Austrians (who had actually started a day in advance of them) put in an appearance, and afterwards to be in superior numbers at each point of contact. But the episode was destined after all to culminate in a great event, which Napoleon himself indicated as the turning-point of his life. "Vendemiaire and even Montenotte did not make me think myself a superior being. It was after Lodi that the idea came to me.... That first kindled the spark of boundless ambition." The idea of a battle having been given up, Beaulieu retired to the Adda, and most of his troops were safely beyond it before the Lodi French arrived near Lodi, but he felt it necessary to leave a strong rearguard on the river opposite that place to cover the reassembly of his columns after their scattered march. On the afternoon of the loth of May, Bonaparte, with Dallemagne, Massena and Augereau, came up and seized the town. But 200 yds. of open ground had to be passed from the town gate to the bridge, and the bridge itself was another 250 in length. A few hundred yards beyond it stood the Austrians, 9000 strong with 14 guns. Napoleon brought up all his guns to prevent the enemy from destroying the bridge. Then sending all his cavalry to turn the enemy's right by a ford above the town, he waited two hours, employing the time in cannonading the Austrian lines, resting his advanced infantry and closing up Massena's and Augereau's divisions. Finally he gave the order to Dallemagne's 4000 grenadiers, who were drawn up under cover of the town wall, to rush the bridge. As the column, not more than thirty men broad, made its appearance, it was met by the concentrated fire of the Austrian guns, and half way across the bridge it checked, but Bonaparte himself and Massena rushed forward, the courage of the soldiers revived, and, while some jumped off the bridge and scrambled forward in the shallow water, the remainder stormed on, passed through the guns and drove back the infantry. This was, in bare outline, the astounding passage of the Bridge of Lodi. It was not till after the battle that Napoleon realized that only a rearguard was in front of him. When he launched his 4000 grenadiers he thought that on the other side there were four or five times that number of the enemy. No wonder, then, that after the event he recognized in himself the flash of genius, the courage to risk everything, and the " tact " which, independent of, and indeed contrary to all reasoned calculations, told him that the moment had come for " breaking the equilibrium." Lodi was a tactical success in the highest sense, in that the principles of his tactics rested on psychology—on the " sublime " part of the art of war as Saxe had called it long ago. The spirit produced the form, and Lodi was the prototype of the Napoleonic battle—contact, mancnuvre, preparation, and finally the well-timed, massed and unhesitating assault. The absence of strategical results mattered little. Many months elapsed before this bold assertion of superiority ceased to decide the battles of France and Austria. On entering the territory of the duke of Parma Bonaparte imposed, besides other contributions, the surrender of twenty famous pictures, and thus began a practice which for many years enriched the Louvre and only ceased with the capture of Paris in 1814. Next day, still under the vivid tactical impressions of the Bridge of Lodi, he postponed his occupation of the Milanese and set off in pursuit of Beaulieu, but the latter was Milan. now out of reach, and during the next few days the French divisions were installed at various points in the area Pavia-Milan-Pizzighetone, facing outwards in all dangerous directions, with a central reserve at Milan. Thus secured, Bonaparte turned his attention to political and military ad-ministration. This took the form of exacting from the neighbouring princes money, supplies and objects of art, and the once famished Army of Italy revelled in its opportunity. Now, how-ever, the Directory, suspicious of the too successful and too sanguine young general, ordered him to turn over the command in Upper Italy to Kellermann, and to take an expeditionary corps himself into the heart of the Peninsula, there to preach the Republic and the overthrow of princes. Napoleon absolutely refused, and offered his resignation. In the end (partly by bribery) he prevailed, but the incident reawakened his desire to close with Beaulieu. This indeed he could now do with a free hand, since not only had the Milanese been effectively occupied, but also the treaty with Sardinia had been ratified. But no sooner had he resumed the advance than it was interrupted by a rising of the peasantry in his rear. The exactions of the French had in a few days generated sparks of discontent which it was easy for the priests and the nobles to fan into open flames. Milan and Pavia as well as the countryside broke into insurrection, and at the latter place the mob forced the French commandant to surrender. Bonaparte acted swiftly and ruthlessly. Bringing back a small portion of the army with him, he punished Milan on the 25th, sacked and burned Binasco on the 26th, and on the evening of the latter day, while his cavalry swept the open country, he broke his way into Pavia with 1500 men and beat down all resistance. Napoleon's cruelty was never purposeless. He deported several scores of hostages to France, executed most of the mob leaders, and shot the French officer who had surrendered. In addition, he gave his 1 Soo men three hours' leave to pillage. Then, as swiftly as they had come, they returned to the army on the Oglio. From this river Napoleon advanced to the banks of the Mincio, where the remainder of the Italian campaign was fought out, both sides contemptuously disregarding Venetian neutrality. It centred on the fortress of Mantua, which Beaulieu, too weak to keep the field, and dislodged from the Mincio in the action of Borghetto (May 30), strongly garrisoned before retiring into Tirol. Beaulieu was soon afterwards replaced by Dagobert Siegmund, count von Wurmser (b. 1724), who brought considerable reinforcements from Germany. At this point, mindful of the narrow escape he had had of losing his command, Bonaparte thought it well to begin the resettlement of Italy. The scheme for co-operating with Moreau on the Danube was indefinitely postponed, and the Army of Italy (now reinforced from the Army of the Alps and counting 42,000 effectives) was again disposed in a protective " zone of manoeuvre," with a strong central reserve. Over 8000 men, however, garrisoned the fortresses of Piedmont and Lombardy, and the effective blockade of Mantua and political expeditions into the. heart of the Peninsula soon used up the whole of this reserve. Moreover, no siege artillery was available until the Austrians in the citadel of Milan capitulated, and thus it was not till the 18th of July that the first parallel was begun. Almost at the same moment Wurmser began his advance from Trent with 55,000 men to relieve Mantua. The protective system on which his attack would fall in the first instance was now as follows: Augereau (6000) about Legnago, Despinoy (8000) south-east of Verona, Siege of Mass€na (13,000) at Verona and Peschiera, with myna outposts on the Monte Baldo and at La Corona, Sauret (4500) at Salo and Gavardo. Serurier (12,000) was besieging Mantua, and the only central reserve was the cavalry (2000) under Kilmaine. The main road to Milan passed by Brescia. Sauret's brigade, therefore, was practically a detached post on the line of communication, and on the main defensive front less than 30,000 men were disposed at various points between La Corona and Legnago (3o m. apart), and at a distance of 15 to 20 M. from Mantua. The strength of such a disposition depended on the fighting power and handiness of the troops, who in each case would be called upon to act as a rearguard to gain time. Yet the lie of the country scarcely permitted a closer grouping, unless indeed Bonaparte fell back on the old-time device of a " circumvallation," and shut himself up, with the supplies necessary for the calculated duration of the siege, in an impregnable ring of earthworks round Mantua. This, however, he could not have done even if he had wished, for the wave of revolt radiating from Milan had made accumulations of food impossible, and the lakes above and below the fortress, besides being extremely unhealthy, would have extended the perimeter of the circumvallation so greatly that the available forces would not suffice to man it. It was not in this, but in the absence of an important central reserve that Bonaparte's disposition is open to criticism, which indeed could impugn the scheme in its entirety, as overtaxing the available resources, more easily than it could attack its details. If Bonaparte has occasionally been criticized for his defensive measures, Wurmser's attack procedure has received almost universal condemnation, as to the justice of which it may be pointed out' that the object of the expedition was not to win a battle by falling on the disunited French with a well-concentrated army, but to over-power one, any one, of the corps covering the siege, and to press straight forward to the relief of Mantua, i.e. to the destruction of Bonaparte's batteries and the levelling of his trench work. The old principle that a battle was a grave event of doubtful issue was reinforced in the actual case by Beaulieu's late experiences of French elan, and as a temporary victory at one point would suffice for the purpose in hand, there was every incentive to multiply the points of contact. The soundness of Wurmser's plan was proved by the event. New ideas and new forces, undiscernible to a man of seventy-two years of age, obliterated his achievement by surpassing it, but such as it was—a limited use of force for a limited object—the venture undeniably succeeded. The Austrians formed three corps, one (Quasdanovich, 18,000 men) marching round the west side of the Lake of Garda on Gavardo, Salo and the Brescia road, the second (under Wurmser, about 30,000) moving directly down the Adige, and the third (Davidovich, 6000) making a detour by the Brenta valley and heading for Verona by Vicenza. t See C. von B.-K., Geist and Stoff, pp. 449-451. On the 29th Quasdanovich attacked Sauret at Salo, drove him towards Desenzano, and pushed on to Gavardo and thence into Brescia. Wurmser expelled Massena's advanced guard from La Corona; and captured in succession the Monte Baldo and Rivoli posts. The Brenta column approached Verona with little or no fighting. News of this column led Napoleon early in the day to close up Despinoy, Massena and Kilmaine at Castelnuovo, and to order Augereau from Legnago to advance on Montebello (19 M. east of Verona) against Davidovich's left rear. But after these orders had been despatched came the news of Sauret's defeat, and this moment was one of the most anxious in Napoleon's career. He could not make up his mind to give up the siege of Mantua, but he hurried Augereau back to the Mincio, and sent order after order to the officers on the lines of communication to send all convoys by the Cremona instead of by the Brescia road. More, he had the baggage, the treasure and the sick set in motion at once for Marcaria, and wrote to Serurier a despatch which included the words " perhaps we shall recover ourselves . . . but I must take serious measures for a retreat." On the 3oth he wrote: " The enemy have broken through our line in three places . . . Sauret has evacuated Salo . . . and the enemy has captured Brescia. You see that our communications with Milan and Verona are cut." The reports that came to him during the morning of the 3oth enabled him to place the main body of the enemy opposite Massena, and this, without in the least alleviating the gravity of the situation, helped to make his course less doubtful. Augereau was ordered to hold the line of the Molinella, in case Davidovich's attack, the least-known factor, should after all prove to be serious; Massena to reconnoitre a road from Peschiera through Castiglione towards Orzinovi, and to stand fast at Castelnuovo opposite Wurmser as long as he could. Sauret and Despinoy were concentrated at Desenzano with orders on the 31st to clear the main line of retreat and to recapture Brescia. The Austrian movements were merely the continuation of those of the 29th. Quasdanovich wheeled inwards, his right finally resting on Montechiaro and his left on Salo. Wurmser drove back Massena to the west side of the Mincio. Davidovich made a slight advance. In the late evening Bonaparte held a council of war at Roverbella. The proceedings of this council are unknown, but it at any rate enabled Napoleon to see clearly and to act. Relief of Hitherto he had been covering the siege of Mantua with Mantua. various detachments, the defeat of any one of which might be fatal to the enterprise. Thus, when he had lost his main line of retreat, he could assemble no more than 8000 men at Desenzano to win it back. Now, however, he made up his mind that the siege could not be continued, and bitter as the decision must have been, it gave him freedom. At this moment of crisis the instincts of the great captain came into play, and showed the way to a victory that would more than counter-balance the now inevitable failure. Serurier was ordered to spike the 140 siege guns that had been so welcome a few days before, and, after sending part of his force to Augereau, to establish himself with the rest at Marcaria on the Cremona road. The field forces were to be used on interior lines. On the 31st Sauret, Despinoy, Augereau and Kilmaine advanced westward against Quasdanovich. The first two found the Austrians at Legnag Operations around Mantua 1796-7 Positions of the night of 2-3 August 1 796 shown approximately Salo and Lonato and drove them back, while with Augereau force imparted to the French. Napoleon himself rode five horses and the cavalry Bonaparte himself made a forced march on Brescia, never halting night or day till he reached the town and recovered his depots. Meantime Serurier had retired (night of July 31), Massena had gradually drawn in towards Lonato, and Wurmser's advanced guard triumphantly entered the fortress (August 1). The Austrian general now formed the plan of crushing Bonaparte between Quasdanovich and his own main body. But meantime Quasdanovich had evacuated Brescia under the threat of Bonaparte's advance and was now fighting a long irregular action with Despinoy and Sauret about Gavardo and Salo, and Bonaparte, having missed his expected target, had brought Augereau by another severe march back to Montechiaro on the Chiese. Massena was now assembled between Lonato and Ponte San Marco, and Serurier was retiring quietly on Marcaria. Wurmser's main body, weakened by the detachment sent to Mantua, crossed the Mincio about Valeggio and Goito on the and, and penetrated as far as Castiglione,whence Massena's rearguard was expelled. But a renewed advance of Quasdano- vich, ordered by Wurmser, which drove Sauret and Despinoy back on Brescia and Lonato, in the end only placed Lonato anda strong detachment of the Austrians within striking Castig- lione. distance of Massena, who on the 3rd attacked it, front to front, and by sheer fighting destroyed it, while at the same time Augereau recaptured Castiglione from Wurmser. On the 4th Sauret and Despinoy pressed back Quasdanovich beyond Salo and Gavardo. One of the Austrian columns, finding itself isolated and unable to retreat with the others, turned back to break its way through to Wurmser, and was annihilated by Massena in the neighbourhood of Lonato. On this day Augereau fought his way towards Solferino, and Wurmser, thinking rightly or wrongly that he could not now retire to the Mincio without a battle, drew up his whole force, close on 30,000 men, in the plain between Solferino and Medole. The finale may be described in very few words. Bonaparte, convinced that no more was to be feared from Quasdanovich, and seeing that Wurmser meant to fight, called in Despinoy's division to the main body and sent orders to Serurier, then far distant on the Cremona road, to march against the left flank of the Austrians. On the 5th the battle of Castiglione was fought. Closely contested in the first hours of the frontal attack till Serurier's arrival decided the day, it ended in the retreat of the Austrians over the Mincio and into Tirol whence they had come. Thus the new way had failed to keep back Wurmser, and the old had failed to crush Napoleon. Each was the result of its own conditions. In former wars a commander threatened as Napoleon was, would have fallen back at once to the Adda, abandoning the siege in such good time that he would have been able to bring off his siege artillery. Instead of this Bonaparte hesitated long enough to lose it, which, according to accepted canons was a waste, and held his ground, which was, by the same rules, sheer madness. But Revolutionary discipline was not firm enough to stand a retreat. Once it turned back, the army would have streamed away to Milan and perhaps to the Alps (cf. 1799), and the only alternative to complete dissolution therefore was fighting. As to the manner of this fighting, even the principle of " relative superiority " failed him so long as he was endeavouring to cover the siege and again when his chief care was to protect his new line of retreat and to clear his old. In this period, viz. up to his return from Brescia on the and of August, the only " mass " he collected delivered a blow in the air, while the covering detachments had to fight hard for bare existence. Once released from its trammels, the Napoleonic principle had fair play. He stood between Wurmser and Quasdanovich, ready to fight either or both. The latter was crushed, thanks to local superiority and the resolute leading of Massena, but at Castigiione Wurmser actually outnumbered his opponent till the last of Napoleon's precautionary dispositions had been given up, and Serurier brought back from the " alternative line of retreat " to the battlefield. The moral is, again, that it was not the mere fact of being on interior lines that gave Napoleon the victory, but his " tact," his fine appreciation of the chances in his favour, measured in terms of time, space, attacking force and containing power. All these factors were greatly influenced by the ground, which favoured the swarms and columns of the French and deprived the brilliant Austrian cavalry of its power to act. But of far greater importance was the mobility that Napoleon's personalto death in three days, and Augereau's division marched from Roverbella to Brescia and back to Montechiaro, a total distance of nearly 50 m., in about thirty-six hours. This indeed was the foundation of his " relative superiority," for every hour saved in the time of marching meant more freedom to destroy one corps before the rest could overwhelm the covering detachments and come to its assistance. Wurmser's plan for the relief of Mantua, suited to its purpose, succeeded. But when he made his objective the French field army, he had to take his own army as he found it, disposed for an altogether different purpose. A properly, combined attack of convergent columns framed ab initio by a good staff officer, such as Mack, might indeed have given good results. But the success of such a plan depends principally on the assailant's original possession of the initiative, and not on the chances of his being able to win it over to his own side when operations, as here, are already in progress. When the time came to improvise such a plan, the initiative had passed over to Napoleon, and the plan was foredoomed. By the end of the second week in August the blockade of Mantua had been resumed, without siege guns. But still under the impression of a great victory gained, Bonaparte was planning a long forward stride. He thought that by advancing past Mantua directly on Trieste and thence onwards to the Semmering he could impose a peace on the emperor. The Directory, however, which had by now focussed its attention on the German campaign, ordered him to pass through Tirol and to co-operate with Moreau, and this plan, Bonaparte, though protesting against an Alpine venture being made so late in the year, prepared to execute, drawing in 'reinforcements and collecting great quantities of supplies in boats on the Adige and Lake Garda. Wurmser was thought to have posted his main body near Trent, and to have detached one division to Bassano "to cover Trieste." The French advanced northward on the and, in three disconnected columns (precisely as Wurmser had done in the reverse direction at the end of July)—Massena (13,000) from Rivoli to Ala, Augereau (9000) from Verona by hill roads, keeping on his right rear, Vaubois (11,000) round the Lake of Garda by Riva and Tor-bole. Sahuguet's division (8000) remained before Mantua. The French divisions successfully combined and drove the enemy before them to Trent. There, however, they missed their target. Wurmser had already drawn over the bulk of his army (22,000) into the Val Sugana, whence, with the Bassano division as his advanced guard, he intended once more to relieve Mantua, while Davidovich with 13,000 (excluding detachments) was to hold Tirol against any attempt of Bonaparte to join forces with Moreau. Thus Austria was preparing to hazard a second (as in the event she hazarded a third and a fourth) highly trained and expensive professional army in the struggle for the preservation of a fortress, and we must conclude that there were weighty reasons which actuated so notoriously cautious a body as the Council of War in making this unconditional venture. While Mantua stood, Napoleon, for all his energy and sanguineness, could not press forward into Friuli and Carniola, and immunity from a Republican visitation was above all else important for the Vienna statesmen, governing as they did more or less discontented and heterogeneous populations that had not felt the pressure of war for a century and more. The Austrians, so far as is known, desired no more than to hold their own. They no longer possessed the superiority of moral that guarantees victory to one side when both are materially equal. There was therefore nothing to be gained, commensurate with the risk involved, by fighting a battle in the open field. In Italian siegt nicht die Kavallerie was an old saying in the Austrian army, and therefore the Austrians could not hope to win a victory of the first magnitude. The only practicable alternative was to strengthen Mantua as opportunities offered themselves, and to prolong the passive resistance as much as possible. Napoleon's own practice in providing for secondary theatres of war was to economize forces and to delay a decision, and the fault of the Austrians, viewed from a purely military standpoint, was that they squandered, instead of economizing, their forces to gain time. If we neglect pure theory, and regard strategy as the handmaiden of statesmanship—which fundamentally it is—we cannot condemn the Vienna authorities unless it be first proved that they grossly exaggerated the possible results of Bonaparte's threatened irruption. And if their capacity for judging the political situation be admitted, it naturally follows that their object was to preserve Mantua at all costs—which object Wurmser, though invariably defeated in action, did in fact accomplish. When Massena entered Trent on the morning of the 5th of September, Napoleon became aware that the force in his front was a mere detachment, and news soon came in that Bassaao. Wurmser was in the Val Sugana about Primolano and at Bassano. This move he supposed to be intended to cover Trieste, being influenced by his own hopes of advancing in that direction, and underestimating the importance, to the Austrians, of preserving Mantua. He therefore informed the Directory that he could not proceed with the Tirol scheme, and spent one more day in driving Davidovich well away from Trent. Then, leaving Vaubois to watch him, Napoleon marched Augereau and Massena, with a rapidity he scarcely ever surpassed, into the Val Sugana. Wurmser's rearguard was attacked and defeated again and again, and Wurmser himself felt compelled to stand and fight, in the hope of checking the pursuit before going forward into the plains. Half his army had already reached Montebello on the Verona road, and with the rear half he posted himself at Bassano, where on the 8th he was attacked and defeated with heavy losses. Then began a strategic pursuit or general chase, and in this the mobility of the French should have finished the work so well begun by their tactics. But Napoleon directed the pursuers so as to cut off Wurmser from Trieste, not from Mantua. Massena followed up the Austrians to Vicenza, while Augereau hurried towards Padua, and it was not until late on the 9th that Bonaparte realized that his opponent was heading for Mantua via Legnago. On the loth Massena crossed the Adige at Ronco, while Augereau from Padua reached Montagnara. Sahuguet from Mantua and Kilmaine from Verona joined forces at Castellaro on the 11th, with orders to interpose between Wurmser and the fortress. Wurmser meantime had halted for a day at Legnago, to restore order, and had then resumed his march. It was almost too late, for in the evening, after having to push aside the head of Massena's column at Cerea, he had only reached Nogara, some miles short of Castellaro, and close upon his rear was Augereau, who reached Legnago that night. On the 12th, eluding Sahuguet by a detour to the southward, he reached Mantua, with all the columns of the French, weary as most of them were, in hot pursuit. After an attempt to keep the open field, defeated in a general action on the 15th, the relieving force was merged in the garrison, now some 28,000 in all. So ended the episode of Bassano, the most brilliant feature of which as usual was the marching power of the French infantry. This time it sufficed to redeem even strategical misconceptions and misdirections. Between the 5th and the rth, besides fighting three actions, Massena had marched ioo m. and Augereau 114. Feldzeugmeister Alvintzi was now appointed to command a new army of relief. This time the mere distribution of the troops imposed a concentric advance of separate columns, for practically the whole of the fresh forces available were in Carniola, the Military Frontier, &c., while Davidovich was still in Tirol. Alvintzi's intention was to assemble his new army (29,000) in Friuli, and to move on Bassano, which was to be occupied on the 4th of November. Meantime Davidovich (18,000) was to capture Trent, and the two columns were to connect by the Val Sugana. All being well, Alvintzi and Davidovich, still separate, were then to converge on the Adige between Verona and Legnago. Wurmser was to co-operate by vigorous sorties. At this time Napoleon's protective system was as follows: Kilmaine (9000) investing Mantua, Vaubois (io,000) at Trent, and Massena (9000) at Bassano and Treviso, Augereau (9000) and Macquard (3000) at Verona and Villafranca constituting, for the first time in these operations, important mobile reserves. Hearing of Alvintzi's approach in good time, he meant first to drive back Davidovich, then with Augereau, Massena, Macquard and 3000 of Vaubois's force to fall upon Alvintzi, who, he calculated,would at this stage have reached Bassano, and finally to send back a large force through the Val Sugana to attack Davidovich. This plan practically failed. Instead of advancing, Vaubois was driven steadily backward. By the 6th, Davidovich had fought his way almost to Roveredo, and Alvintzi had reached Bassano and was there Ca/diem successfully repelling the attacks of Massena and Augereau. That night Napoleon drew back to Vicenza. On the 7th Davidovich drove in Vaubois to Corona and Rivoli, and Alvintzi came within 5 M. of Vicenza. Napoleon watched carefully for an opportunity to strike out, and on the 8th massed his troops closely around the central point of Verona. On the 9th, to give himself air, he ordered Massena to join Vaubois, and to drive back Davidovich at all costs. But before this order was executed, reports came in to the effect that Davidovich had suspended his advance. The loth and r rth were spent by both sides in relative inaction, the French waiting on events and opportunities, the Austrians resting after their prolonged exertions. Then, on the afternoon of the rrth, being informed that Alvintzi was approaching, Napoleon decided to attack him. On the 12th the advanced guard of Alvintzi's army was furiously assailed in the position of Caldiero. But the troops in rear came up rapidly, and by 4 P.M, the French were defeated all along the line and in retreat on Verona. Napoleon's situation was now indeed precarious. He was on " interior lines," it is true, but he had neither the force nor the space necessary for the delivery of rapid radial blows. Alvintzi was in superior numbers, as the battle of Caldiero had proved, and at any moment Davidovich, who had twice Vaubois's force, might advance to the attack of Rivoli. The reserves had proved insufficient, and Kilmaine had to be called up from Mantua, which was thus for the third time freed from the blockaders. Again the alternatives were retreat, in whatever order was possible to Republican armies, and beating the nearest enemy at any sacrifice. Napoleon chose the latter, though it was not until the evening of the 14th that he actually issued the fateful order. The Austrians, too, had selected the 15th as the date of their final advance on Verona, Davidovich from the north, Alvintzi via Zevio from the south. But Napoleon was no longer there; leaving Vaubois to hold Davidovich as best he might, and posting only 3000 men in Verona, he had collected the rest of his small army between Albaro and Ronco. His plan seems to have been to cross the Adige well in rear of the Austrians, to march north on to the Verona-Vicenza highway, and there, supplying himself from their convoys, to fight to the last. On the 15th he had written to the Directory, " The weakness and the exhaustion of the army causes me to fear the worst. We are perhaps on the eve of losing Italy." In this extremity of danger the troops passed the Adige in three columns near Ronco and Albaredo, and marched forward along the dikes, with deep marshes and pools on either hand. If Napoleon's intention was to reach the dry open ground of S. Bonifacio in rear of the Austrians, it was not realized, for the Austrian army, instead of being at the gates of Verona, was still between Caldiero and S. Bonifacio, reading, as we know, for Zevio. Thus Alvintzi was able, easily and swiftly, to wheel to the south. The battle of Arcola almost defies description. The first day passed in a series of resultless encounters between the heads of the columns as they met on the dikes. In the Arcola. evening Bonaparte withdrew over the Adige, expecting at every moment to be summoned to Vaubois's aid. But Davidovich remained inactive, and on the 16th the French again crossed the river. Massena from Ronco advanced on Porcile, driving the Austrians along the causeway thither, but on the side of Arcola, Alvintzi had deployed a considerable part of his forces on the edge of the marshes, within musket shot of the causeway by which Bonaparte and Augereau had to pass, along the Austrian front, to reach the bridge of Arcola. In these circumstances the second day's battle was more murderous and no more decisive than the first, and again the French retreated to Ronco. But Davidovich again stood still, and with incredible obstinacy Bonaparte ordered a third assault for the 17th, using struggle of the campaign. Once he felt sure of the situation Napoleon acted promptly. Joubert was ordered to hold on to Rivoli at all costs. Rey was brought up by a forced march to Castelnuovo, where Victor joined him, and ahead of them both Massena was hurried on to Rivoli. Napoleon himself joined Joubert on the night of the 13th. There he saw the watch-fires of the enemy in a semicircle around him, for Alvintzi, thinking that he had only to deal with one division, had begun a wide-spread enveloping attack. The horns of this attack were as yet so far distant that Napoleon, instead of extending on an equal front, only spread out a few regiments to gain an hour or two and to keep the ground for Massena and Rey, and on the morning of January 14th, with ro,000 men in hand against 26,000, he fell upon the central columns of the enemy as they advanced up the steep broken slopes of the foreground. The fighting was severe, but Bonaparte had the advantage. Massena arrived at 9 A.M., and a little later the column of Quasdanovich, which had moved along the Adige and was now attempting to gain a foothold on the plateau in rear of Joubert, was crushed by the converging fire of Joubert's right brigade and by Massena's guns, their rout being completed by the charge of a handful of cavalry under Lasalle. The right horn of Alvintzi's attack, when at last it swung in upon Napoleon's rear, was caught between Massena and the advancing troops of Rey and annihilated, and even before this the dispirited Austrians were in full retreat. A last alarm, caused by the appearance of a French infantry regiment in their rear (this had crossed the lake in boats from Salo), completed their demoralization, and though less than 2000 had been killed and wounded, some 12,000 Austrian prisoners were left in the hands of the victors. Rivoli was indeed a moral triumph. After the ordeal of Arcola, the victory of the French was a fore-gone conclusion at each point of contact. Napoleon hesitated, or rather refrained from striking, so long as his information was incomplete, but he knew now from experience that his covering detachment, if well led, could not only hold its own without assistance until it had gained the necessary information, but could still give the rest of the army time to act upon it. Then, when the centre of gravity had been ascertained, the French divisions hurried thither, caught the enemy in the act of manoeuvring and broke them up. And if that confidence in success which made all this possible needs a special illustration, it may be found in Napoleon's sending Murat's regiment over the lake to place a mere two thousand bayonets across the line of retreat of a whole army. Alvintzi's manoeuvre was faulty neither strategically in the first instance nor tactically as regards the project of enveloping Joubert on the 14th. It failed because Joubert and his men were better soldiers than his own, and because a French division could move twice as fast as an Austrian, and from these two factors a new form of war was evolved, the essence of which was that, for a given time and in a given area, a small force of the French should engage and hold a much larger force of the enemy. indeed more tactical expedients than before, but calculating chiefly on the fighting powers of his men and on the exhaustion of the enemy. Massena again advanced on Porcile, Robert's brigade on Arcola, but the rest, under Augereau, were to pass the Alpone near its confluence with the Adige, and joining various small bodies which passed the main stream lower down, to storm forward on dry ground to Arcola. The Austrians, however, themselves advanced from Arcola, overwhelmed Robert's brigade on the causeway and almost reached Ronco. This was perhaps the crisis of the battle, for Augereau's force was now on the other side of the stream, and Massena, with his back to the new danger, was approaching Porcile. But the fire of a deployed regiment stopped the head of the Austrian column; Massena, turning about, cut into its flank on the dike; and Augereau, gathering force, was approaching Arcola from the south. The bridge and the village were evacuated soon after-wards, and Massena and Augereau began to extend in the plain beyond. But the Austrians still sullenly resisted. It was at this moment that Bonaparte secured victory by a mere ruse, but a ruse which would have been unprofitable and ridiculous had it not been based on his fine sense of the moral conditions. Both sides were nearly fought out, and he sent a few trumpeters to the rear of the Austrian army to sound the charge. They did so, and in a few minutes the Austrians were streaming back to S. Bonifacio. This ended the drama of Arcola, which more than any other episode of these wars, perhaps of any wars in modern history, centres on the personality of the hero. It is said that the French fought without spirit on the first day, and yet on the second and third Bonaparte had so thoroughly imbued them with his own will to conquer that in the end they prevailed over an enemy nearly twice their own strength. The climax was reached just in time, for on the 17th Vaubois was completely defeated at Rivoli and withdrew to Peschiera, leaving the Verona and Mantua roads completely open to Davidovich. But on the 19th Napoleon turned upon him, and combining the forces of Vaubois, Massena and Augereau against him, drove him back to Trent. Meantime Alvintzi returned from Vicenza to San Bonifacio and Caldiero (November 21st), and Bonaparte at once stopped the pursuit of Davidovich. On the return of the French main body to Verona, Alvintzi finally withdrew, Wurmser, who had emerged from Mantua on the 23rd, was driven in again, And this epilogue of the great struggle came to a feeble end because neither side was now capable of prolonging the crisis. Alvintzi renewed his advance in January 1797 with all the forces that could be assembled for a last attempt to save Mantua. At this time 8000 men under Serurier blockaded Mantua, Massena (g000) was at Verona, Joubert (Vaubois's successor) at Rivoli with so,000, Augereau at Legnago with 9000. In reserve were Rey's division (4000) between Brescia and Montechiaro, and Victor's brigade at Goito and Castelnuovo. On the other side, Alvintzi had 9000 men under Provera at Padua, 6000 under Bayalic at Bassano, and he himself with 28,000 men stood in the Tirol about Trent. This time he intended to make his principal effort on the Rivoli side. Provera was to capture Legnago on the 9th of January, and Bayalic Verona on the 12th, while the main army was to deliver its blow against the Rivoli position on the 13th. The first marches of this scheme were duly carried out, and several days elapsed before Napoleon was able to discern the Rtvov. direction of the real attack. Augereau fell back, skirmishing a little, as Provera's and Bayalic's advance developed. On the 11th, when the latter was nearing Verona, Alvintzi's leading troops appeared in front of the Rivoli position. On the 12th Bayalic with a weak force (he had sent reinforcements to Alvintzi by the Val Pantena) made an unsuccessful attack on Verona, Provera, farther south, remaining inactive. On the 13th Napoleon, still in doubt, launched Massena's division against Bayalie, who was driven back to San Bonifacio; but at the same time definite news came from Joubert that Alvintzi's main army was in front of La Corona.. From this point begins the decisive, though by no means the most intense or dramatic, x1.7 The remaining operations can be very briefly summarized. Provera, still advancing on Mantua, joined hands there withWurmser, and for a time held Serurier at a disadvantage. But hearing of this, Napoleon sent back Massena from the field of Rivoli, and that general, with Augereau and Serurier, not only forced Wurmser to retire again into the fortress, but compelled Provera to lay down his arms. On the and. of February 1797, after a long and honourable defence, Mantua, and with it what was left of Wurmser's army, surrendered. The campaign of 1797, which ended the war of the First Coalition, was the brilliant sequel of these hard-won victories. Austria had decided to save Mantua at all costs, and had lost her armies in the attempt, a loss which was not compensated by the "strategic " victories of the archduke. Thus the Republican " visitation " of Carinthia and Carniola was one swift march—politically glorious, if dangerous from a purely military standpoint—of Napoleon's army to the Semmering. The archduke, who was called thither from Germany, could do no more than fight a few rearguard actions, and make threats against Napoleon's rear, which the latter, with his usual " tact," ignored. On the Rhine, as in 1795 and 1796, the armies of the Sambre-and-Meuse (Hoche) and the Rhine-and-Moselle (Moreau) were opposed by the armies of the Lower Rhine (Werneck) and of the Upper Rhine (Latour). Moreau crossed the river near Strassburg and fought a series of minor actions. Hoche, like his predecessors, crossed at Dusseldorf and Neuwied and fought his II way to the Lahn, where for the last time in the history of these wars, there was an irregular widespread battle. But Hoche, in this his last campaign, displayed the brilliant energy of his first, and delivered the " series of incessant blows " that Carnot had urged upon Jourdan the year before. Werneck was driven with ever-increasing losses from the lower Lahn to Wetzlar and Giessen. Thence, pressed hard by the French left wing under Championnet, he retired on the Nidda, only to find that Hoche's right had swung completely round Leoben. him. Nothing but the news of the armistice of Leoben saved him from envelopment and surrender. This general armistice was signed by Bonaparte, on his own authority and to the intense chagrin of the Directory and of Hoche, on the 18th of April, and was the basis of the peace of Campo Formio.
End of Article: TILE WAR IN ITALY
TILE (0. Eng. tigel, Fr. tuile, connected with Lat....

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