Napoleon initially faced two armies, one Austrian and one from Piedmont. Gen. Jean Baptiste Cervoni, who would continue his activity in Voltri. He launched diversionary attacks on Augereau on January 8, 1797, pushing him back on Legnano and clashing with MassŽna at Verona. The first charge failed, but a second effort was successful. John Mayall, singer, songwriter, musician; founder of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers band. A determined Bonaparte personally led the charge of grenadiers. Kellerman graciously sent 10,000 reinforcements, together with his own son to serve on Bonaparte’s staff. In five day’s fighting, January 14Ð19, Bonaparte had reduced Alvintzy’s and Provera’s forces from 48,000 fighting men to 13,000 fugitives. Bonaparte ordered Vaubois to hold his ground while he drove Alvintzy out of the Brenta Valley, after which he would fall upon Davidovitch’s rear. At 53, the tall and gloomy SŽrurier was the eldest, with 34 years in the old Royal Army. Louisa May Alcott, novelist (Little Women). Soldiers of Italy! In sharp contrast to SŽrurier was the 38-year-old Augereau, whose humble origins in the gutters of Paris did not prevent him from becoming one of France’s most accomplished swordsmen, as well as an able tactician and popular commander. Napoleon showed himself to be not just a great leader on the battlefield but a canny exploiter of propaganda, willing to make his own peace deals for his own benefit. A coup by three of the directors which remodeled the French executive ended Austrian hopes of splitting France’s executive from its leading General, and they agreed on terms. While the 7,000 French under General La Harpe began a frontal attack on the Austrian position, MassŽna, at the head of Brig. Bonaparte consolidated his forces to the left and opened a new line of communications along the Tanaro Valley to Ormea. The great difficulty of the day arose when Augereau was faced at the Arcola bridge by two battalions of Croatian infantry, who had several guns well-situated to sweep the roadway. Bonaparte now faced a difficult problem: He had to cross the Po without a bridging train while facing Beaulieu’s army. This article was written by Jeremy Green and originally appeared in the April 1997 issue of Military History magazine. A preliminary treaty—Leoben—was drawn up, annoying the French government as it didn’t clarify the position in the Rhine. Art was equally in demand by the conquerors, while rebellions had to be stamped out. Joe Weider, Canadian-American bodybuilder and magazine publisher; co-founded the International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazine. MassŽna occupied Bassano and was in contact with Vaubois through the Brenta Valley. SŽrurier’s troops blocked Provera, and although WŸrmser attempted to break out on January 16, Provera found himself with Bonaparte and MassŽna in his rear, and was forced to capitulate. Vaubois was relegated to the minor command of Leghorn. Arcola saw Napoleon take a standard and lead an advance, doing wonders again for his reputation for personal bravery, if not personal safety. The 37,000-strong French Army of Italy faced a total of 52,000 Austrian and Piedmontese troops, although for the moment, those enemy forces were separated by mountains–and mutual distrust. On the Austrian side, Alvintzy had been reinforced in Bassano and now had 45,000 men. Careful study of the maps with Berthier indicated that the town of Carcare, the central position, was the vulnerable link joining the troops of Piedmont and those of Austria. This popular acclaim did not last long, however, as hard cash, supplies and art treasures were plundered by the army and the French government. Colli, meanwhile, had moved on Millesimo. Although the war was, in theory, between France and Austria, Napoleon negotiated the Treaty of Campo Formio with Austria himself, without listening to his political masters. Reinforcements arrived under General Rey, and those soldiers, together with MassŽna’s reserve brigade, captured 3,000 of Lusignan’s Austrians in the south. WŸrmser’s army advanced in three separate corps–one driving down the west shore of Lake Garda, another pressing down the east shore, and the third pushing through the Brenta Valley. The pope was now induced to buy Napoleon off. Leaving La Harpe’s men to garrison Dego, Bonaparte sent SŽrurier and MassŽna to join Augereau’s attack. The campaign fought by French General Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy in 1796–7 helped end the French Revolutionary Wars in favor of France. The town of Sacile on the Tagliamento River was taken on March 16 after Guieu, who replaced Augereau, and Bernadotte surprised the Austrians. At the start of May, Napoleon crossed the Po to chase an Austrian army, defeated their rear-guard at the battle of Lodi, where the French stormed a well-defended bridge head on. Once again, Bonaparte canceled his assault on Ceva. There is nobody here who does not look upon him as a man of genius, and he is effectively that. Bonaparte personally visited Vaubois and issued the following rebuke: ‘Soldiers! Once again, Bonaparte intended to attempt an attack on the enemy’s rear like those he had successfully conducted against Beaulieu at Lodi and WŸrmser at Bassano. The distressing news that Vaubois had been driven back to Bussolengo compelled Bonaparte to give up Arcola. Piedmont was unhappy at being involved and Napoleon resolved to defeat it first. The other two armies immediately facing the French consisted of the 11,500 Austrians under General Eugen Graf von Argenteau in Acqui and along a line of outposts from Carcare to Genoa; and the 20,000 Piedmontese troops under General Michel Colli strung out along a line from Ceva to Cosseria, where they were strengthened by an Austrian detachment under the command of General Johann Provera. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, War of the First Coalition in 1790s France, The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, Great Military Commander, Napoleonic Wars: Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Then a new Austrian army under Wurmser marched forth to tackle Napoleon, but he was again able to take advantage of a divided force—Wurmser sent 18,000 men under one subordinate and took 24,000 himself—to win multiple battles. After a bitter fight, they carried Caldiero and Colognola, but Alvintzy soon arrived with his main force and recaptured both villages. By revealing his true position, the Austrian commander showed himself to be too distant to offer any aid to Colli or Argenteau. Joubert was ordered to reinforce Vaubois’ shaken troops at Rivoli, who now numbered 13,000. The main French army of 33,000 men, led by Augereau, MassŽna and Charles Henri comte de Belgrande Vaubois, pursued WŸrmser. With his rear positions threatened, and having suffered 7,000 casualties in three days, Alvintzy retired to Vincenza. MassŽna and SŽrurier would mount a diversionary operation at Valenza while a special Corps d’Elite of select grenadiers, commanded by General Claude d’Allemagne, rushed to Piacenza and established a bridgehead there. During the next few days, Davidovitch did not move, but Alvintzy moved quickly on to Verona. Augereau was first to cross on his way to Arcola, while MassŽna followed and moved left to successfully take Porcile against Provera’s Austrian advance guard. They wanted victory and to many, it seemed like Napoleon was their best chance of getting it, so he was welcomed. The next morning, lacking any news of Davidovitch’s further movement, Bonaparte renewed the attack on Arcola. ‘It was only on the evening of Lodi,’ Bonaparte recorded later, ‘that I believed myself a superior man, and that the ambition came to me of executing the great things which so far had been occupying my thoughts only as a fantastic dream.’ A few days later, in Milan, the French commander confided to Marmont, ‘They [the Directoire] have seen nothing yet….In our days, no one has conceived anything great; it is for me to set the example.’. Without waiting for reinforcements, Bonaparte planned a two-prong pre-emptive advance on Vienna. During that period of military inactivity, the French commander turned his attention to administrative matters and began the unification of Italy by establishing three new republics: the Cisalpine, centered on Milan; the Cispadene, combining Modena and Reggio; and the Transpadene, joining Bologna and Ferrara. On June 1, Austrian scouts surprised him and his staff in the village of Valeggio, and he only escaped capture by vaulting over several garden walls, with one boot missing. Napoleon would later highlight how much of a difference he made to the army, how he transformed it, and while he overstated to make his role look better (as ever), he certainly provided what was needed. The French arrived on May 10, hoping to finish off Beaulieu’s force, to find the whole Austrian army safely across the Adda, leaving 10,000 men and a dozen cannons at the bridge as a covering force. The Battle of Bassano on September 8 saw Colonel Lannes’ troops burst through the Austrian lines, then storm into town. Meanwhile, Generals La Harpe and MassŽna, with the remainder of MassŽna’s division, marched across the hills to Dego to prevent Argenteau and his regrouping Austrians from interfering with the main French thrust against the Piedmontese army. Although the fall of Milan was certain, Bonaparte pushed his men onward toward Lodi, hoping to finish off Beaulieu’s force. That check was destroying Bonaparte’s timetable, and he was fast losing the element of surprise. The Army of Italy that General Bonaparte inherited was a ragged … The French commander’s primary objective was to destroy General Colli and drive Piedmont out of the war. Leaving 3,000 men to garrison Verona, Bonaparte and the entire French army hurried north to Rivoli. MassŽna took Ronco, then lured the Austrian garrison out of Arcola and fell on it in an ambush, inflicting heavy casualties. On May 22, Bonaparte left Milan, again in pursuit of Beaulieu, but returned to Milan and Pavia two days later to put down local revolts. ‘He put on his General’s hat,’ recounted MassŽna, ‘and seemed to have grown two feet. He attacked quickly, turning from one enemy to another, and managed to force Piedmont to leave the war entirely by forcing them on a large retreat, breaking their will to continue, and signing the Treaty of Cherasco. Moving on the west shore of Lake Garda, Austrian General Peter Quasdanovitch was checked by Augereau at Brescia on August 1. By brilliantly concentrating his forces at critical places and times, Bonaparte had driven one of his Austrian opponents into Lombardy, while forcing Piedmont to sue for peace. The Cisalpine Republic may have taken the French constitution, but Napoleon dominated it. When he began to discuss the campaign to come, however, their impression of General Napoleon Bonaparte abruptly changed. The situation became so grave that Bonaparte ordered every available man to reinforce his northern front. You are hungry and naked; the Government owes you much but can give you nothing. Once again, Mantua was besieged by 10,000 Frenchmen, while 3,000 men under General Kilmaine guarded Verona. Augereau confided to MassŽna that this ‘little bastard of a General’ frightened him. The Austrians retreated, and less than a month after arriving in Italy, Napoleon had Lombardy. His military genius and administrative accomplishments would astonish the world. As in the beginning of the campaign, the Italian terrain provided several good roads for the French to travel north, but the Austrians traveling south found only two roads on which to move troops and artillery, making maneuvering very difficult. The map of Italy ’ s timetable, and jewels had so far been gathered the tall gloomy... 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