Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Address of the DircBory to the French Armies.Determination to carry //;» War into Italy.Difficulties lo be encountered in carrying this Plan into Execution.Buonaparte.The French Army, under his Command, mates rapid Progress in Italy.The Austrians, under General Bcaulieu, constantly repulsed, ytt not dispirited.Various Aclions.Suspension cf Arms agreed on bel-.reen the French and Piedmontese Armies.General Beavlieu re-ernffes the Po, for covering the Countries to the j\ orth of that Rirer.At Paris, Negocialion for Peace bettreen the King of Sardinia end the French Republic.'Treaty of Peace between France and Sardiniaratified by the Legislative Bodies of France.Limitation aud Confidence of the French.Improved by Buonaparte, for the Purpose of leading, on.the. Army lo farther Exploits.Address to the Army.General Oljecl and Tendency of Buonaparte's private Conversation.Homage paid to the Merit of Buonafjarte and the Army, by the DireRory.Buonaparte puts his Army in Motion.Crnffcs the Po, and leases Gciwral Betmliea to break »p his Camp.Armistice be/ueen the French Army and the Duke tf Parma. The French advance lorrerd the Capital ofLombardy.Bat/le of Lodi.The Austrians retreat to Mantua.The French proceed to Milan, ttJiere the French General allows his People some Days oj Repose,

WHILE the armies of (he republic were successfully employed in suppressing those internal commotions, the directory was anxioufly taken up with the plans that we're to be prosecuted, as soon as domestic difficutics were overcome. In the end of April, thev thought themselves so completely delivered from all apprehentions at home, that thev began immediately to (urn their attention to those two undertakings, on the fortunate terminati-in of which ths future security ot the republic would be established beyond the possibility of being iliaken by any external force.

The events of the last campaign lad been so different from those of

the preceding, that many people in France, as well as in other part* of Europe, began, to consider the enthusiasm os the French as considerably abated. But the sanguine disposition os the generality of the French attributed their defeats on the Rhine solely to the unskilful management os their generals; and still remained convinced, that, had they been judiciously commanded, they would have been victorious as before.

In order to encourage this persuasion, the directory publislied an address to the different armies, previousty to their taking the held. It was conceived in very animated terms, and recalled to their notice

[ G 3 ] the

[graphic]

the various exploits they had performed in the two foregoing years, the patience with which they had borne not only the hardships of the field, but the pressures, of want, and the privation of every convenience and comfort, and the invincible fortitude with which they had persisted, amidst all these difficulties, to discharge the duties of brave soldiers. It exhorted them to persevere as they had done: fresti toils and victories were expected from them by their country, before its enemies would consent to reasonable terms of peace. It held out the most flattering hopes of success; and that they were at the eve of terminating their patriotic labours, the issue of which would procure safely to their country, and glory to themselves; who then would return to its bosom, to enjoy the love and gratitude so justly due to them from their fellowcitizens, and so nobly earned by their services.

This address was sent to all the military bodies ot the republic, and read to them with great solemnity. It was received with much respect Mild satisfaction. The officers and soldiers formally renewed their aslurances of fidelity to the republic, and their readiness to lay down their lives in its defence.

The object which the directory had now chiefly in contemplation Wls to carry the war into Italy. The Austrians were prepared to pals the Rhine in great force: the attachment of the Belgians to their French conquerors might waver; the fate of another campaign was uncertain; much was to be lost, nothing gained, in the Netherlands, by an appeal to anus, on a question, which, if the authority of the republic fliould be confirmed by the

lapse oseven a sew years, they might consider as already decided. In this situation of affairs they determined to divert the energy and attention of the emperor from his Belgian territories, where his authority had been so often disputed, to his Italian dominions, where, his will was a law, and from whence he drew still greater supplies. While they cut off the emperors resources in- Italy, they would add to iheir own. They did not doubt of reaping immense benefit from the possession of that country, the inhabitants -of which were known generally to have little affection for their present sovereigns. The people of the duchies of Milan, Parma, and Modena, were pecnliarly disaffected, and, the nobility and clergy excepted, seemed rather to deli re, than to dread, a change os masters. The commonalty, in the republics of Venice and Gencn, professed no attachment to their rulers. In Tuscany, and the papal dominions, there were numbers ot discontented; and in the kingdom of Naples the number was- still greater.

Among these multitudes there were some individuals resolute enough to declare their dissatisfaction at their respective governments, notwithstanding the personal dangers to which they ex^ posed themselves by lo daring a conduct. But what was more, fine had the courage to entertain a private correspondence with France, and explicitly to solicit some of the prineipal persons in the republic to invade Italy, where, they assured them, they would find more friends than foes among the natives, and meet with no opposition but from the Austrians, and their ti;w adherenls, among the possessors of

place*

i

places and employments in their Icrvice.

Induced by these various motives, tiæ directory relblved to begin military operations abroad, with the attack ofa country, where the princes, one excepted, the king of Sardinia, could place little reliance on the loyalty of their subjects; and where this prince had already Jolt such a portion of his territories, as greatly endangered the remainder.

Nevertheless, obstacles of a serious nature presented themselves. The undertaking was, indeed, arduous. Italy, proverbially the grave pi' the French, was viewed by the generality of people as unconquerable on the side of France. Em-ironed by mountains, the passes of which were fortified with the utmost art,and guarded with numerous well-disciplined troops, it seemed calculated for an invincible resistance. The French, aster reducing many forts and fortresses in the heart of the Alps, had not been able to make an effectual imprellion on Piedmont, without which an entrance into Italy appeared impracticable. The powers interested in the preservation ol'Italy, awaroofthe hostile intentions of France, had made ample preparations sordefence. The emperor's forces amounted to eighty thouland well-disciplined men, commanded by excellent officers and g.-nerals, and provided with every species of warlike necestaries. The Ling of Sardinia's army was sixty thousand strong, exclusive os militia. The pope and the king of Naples wertj occupied in embodying as many troops as their circumltances would permit; and the latter had dispatched two or three

.1,

• See Vol. XXXVII. Page 106

[G4J

thousand horse to serve in the Imperial army.

Though the strength with which the French proposed .to attack their enemies in Italy was much inferior in number to theirs, and far from being so well supplied, it was composed of hardy and resolute soldiers, filled with enthusiasm, and impatient to enter into action, and to indemnify themselves for the sufferings they had undergone upon the rocky and barren coast, to which they had long been confined, through want of reinforcements io enable them to move forward against the enemy.

The supplies of men and ammunition did not arrive till the beginning of April, when the French determined immediately to commerce Iheir operations. They were cantoned along the coast of that sea, called the river os Genoa, witRih three leagues of that city; and the Austrians and Piedmontese were posted on the mountains opposite to them.

The French were commanded by general Buonaparte, already noticed in the action between the conventional troops and the sections of Paris,* in October, 1795, a native of Corsica, born, as it were, a commander, and uniting the intrepidity of an ancient Roman, with the subtlety and contrivance of a modern Italian; aryl both these fortified and improved by a liberal, as well as military,education. Hardly thirty years ot age, he had signalized his military abilities, not only on that but some other very decisive occasions, and acquired a reputation that had raised him to the highest degree of esteem in his profession.

The

[graphic]

The troops under his command were little more than fifty thousand men: but he possessed their entire confidence, an:! was reputed equal to the arduous task he had ventured to undertake.

The Austrian* were under geneial Beaulieu, an officer of great experience and talents, though he had been unfortunate in several sctiors with the French in the Netherlands. On the ninth of April heattacked a French poll and forced it: on the the tenth he advanced upon them, and carried all their entrenchments but one. Here he was arrested by the' obstinate bravery of the officer who commanded it. Rampon, chief of brigade, who conceived that the fate of theday depended on the preservation of this post, made his officers and soldiers swear never to abandon- id Thev defended it accordingly during the whole nightwith such invincible firmness, that the Austrians were constantly repulsed; In the morning of the eleventh, Buonaparte, by a circuitous movement, fell upon the rear and flank of the enemy, who were completely routed, with the loss of fifteen hundred killed, and more than two thouiand taken. This battle was sought at a place called Montenotta. 'Eager to improve this victory, Buonaparte pursued the Austrians, who had retreated to a strong position at a place called Millasimo: but general' Angereau forcing the passages leading lo it, the Austrians -retired to the ruins of an old castle, wiiich^generai Provara, who commanded them, hastened to surround with an infrenchvnent, where he ■Itood teveral attacks, and defended trimseW-resolutely for five days. This afforded time to the Austrians to

rally from the disorder into which they had been thrown. They advanced in considerable sorce, and charged the French with great vigour. The dispute was long arid bloody: the Austrians and Piedmohtele made repeated efforts to liberate the troops in the castle, ar.d directed their attacks on the centre of the French: but these stood their ground immoveablv, while their two wings turned the rght and left of the adverse army, the rear of which was assailed at the lame time by another division. Surrounded in this unexpected manner, they sustained a dreadful defeat; two thousand were slain in the action, and upwards of eight thousand made prisoners, including the corps under generat Provara, which had so much distinguished itself by the defence of the castle. Thisgreat victory was obtained on the fourteenth of April. Among the killed were someofficers 6f high distinction; and of the taken' one was a geperal, and near thirty colonels, beside inferior officers. Between twenty and thirty cafinon fell into the hands of the French, with fifteen standards, and an immense quantity of stores and field-equipage. Two French generals, Banal and Quanin, fell in this battle, which cost the victors a number of their bravest men.

Though twice defeated in sode* cisive. a manner, general Beaulieu Was by no means dispirited: correcting as" many of his scattered troops, as formed a body of seven thousand men he again attacked the French with great impetuosity; the next morning, and drove them from their incampment at a village called Dego, where they had expected to repose themselves afterthe fatigues of the preceeding day. This

unex

[graphic]

unexpected attack, so far discomposed diem, that the)- weru thrown into,disorder, and compelled to abandon their post, aster having thrice endeavoured to retake it.

More than half os the dav had b«n spent in thesesruitless attempts, when Bnonap.-irte, anxious to rccow a post, without which, the adTantijes gained bv his two victories, would have been frustrated, immediately gave orders for a large body to form in front of the enemy, and ocrn:>y their attention, while ano>A;r charged them on their lest, posted as Dego. The intrepidity wth which the French generals and "Seers headed their men, decided the fate of the day. After a vigorous defence, the Austrians were in fheirlurn obliged togivegronnd,and leave the field 10 the French, with the loss of near two thousand men, os whom, about fifteen hundred were made prisoners: on the tide of the French, numbers nlso sell, Mid among these general Causlh, one of their best officers

Thus, in the space os five days, no less than three battles were fought, in every one of which the French were victorious. The Austrian and Piedmontese armies had, inthecourse of these engagements, been separated /mm each other: which enabled Buonaparte to effect a junction with a considerable: body of hi* army, before which the Piedmontese division had retired, not daring to oppose it in combination with the corps under general Augereau who had joined il» After dislodging the Piedmontese from their redoubts, «t Montezimo, this officer followed them to their camp before the town ofCava. It was strongly fortified, but Augereau attacked it with such vigour, that, pster defending it the whole day JO

with great courage, the Piedmontese withdrew in the night of the sixteenth, abandoning Cava, which surrendered to the French. After some retrograde motions, wherein they were closely pressed by the French, who met however with some checks, a general engagement took place near Mondovi on the twenty-second. General Colli, who commanded the Piedmontese, had drawn up his army to great advantage; his centre being covered by a strong redoubt, which was resolutely defended for a long time against all the efforts of the French, who loft numbers in its attack. It was carried al length after repeated assaults: upon which general Colli thought it prudent to retreat. His loss amounted to about twelve hundred men, ofwhom a thousand were taken. Of these, three were generals, and four colonels. One general was slain, and eleven standards fell into the hands of the French, who loft alto one of their generals, and a considerable number os men.

The Piedmontese army, aster its defeat, eroded the river Stura, and took a strong position between Coni and Cheraseq. Here it was attacked, on the 25th, by the French, who compelled general Colli to retire from the post he occupied at Foflano. They made themselves masters of Cherasco, where they took a quan»tity of cannon and large magazines, and the Piedmontese withdrew to Carignano, in order to be nearer to Turin, for its protection against the French army, which was nowadvanced to within nine leagues of that city.

The defeat of his army, at Mondovi, had already determined the king of Sardinia to make overtures of peace to Buonaparte. General

ColJi

« ZurückWeiter »