Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Bernard under Bonaparte, other lesser the Austrians were flying before it, and divisions were effecting the passage at that it was in full march on Milan. On other points, and ready to pour down on the 20 June, the whole population of the plains of Lombardy and Piedmont. that city poured forth to meet it, saluting A division of 5000 had crossed the lesser the illustrious chief, whom they had so St. Bernard ; another of 4000, under gene- often seen within their walls, and hailing ral Thurreau, issued from the defiles of him as their saviour. On entering MiMont Cénis upon Turin; a third de lan, Bonaparte liberated all prisoners tachment passed the Simplon, and de- confined for their political opinions, and scended on Milan; and finally, 15,000 established a provisional administration, men, detached from the army of the composed of the most respectable men of Rhine, under general Moncey, were com the city, stipulating, however, that those ing down from the St. Gothard. These Italians who had taken the opposite side, divisions being re-united, would form a during the sway of the Austrians, should combined army 60,000 strong. Master not be molested. of all the passes of the Alps, Bonaparte The main body of the Austrians, under had a choice of retreats, in case of defeat, De Mélas, was meanwhile dispersed while his adversary was hemmed in be- through the country between the upper tween the attacking army and a hostile Po, its tributaries, and the range of the frontier, leaving, moreover, the army of Appenines and Maritime Alps, with the the Maritime Alps in his rear. Defeat, army under Suchet in their rear. Bonain his situation, was therefore irretrieva. parte now, without further delay, proble ruin.

ceeded to dispose his forces so as to The plan of operations traced by Bona- intercept, at every point, the escape of parte, now required that he should gain the Imperialists towards Lombardy. His possession of the country which would movements might have been more rapid, be in his rear when he should attack had it been possible for him to have atMélas, and also that he should gain time tacked the enemy before the surrender of to concentrate his forces which were Genoa, so as to have averted that event. scattered along the line of the Alps, This, however, having proved to be imwhich, as has been said, they crossed at practicable, he now determined to adopt different points, and in separate divisions. that course which might appear best For this purpose, he decided on advanc- calculated to ensure the final success of ing into Lombardy, taking possession the campaign. of Milan, and dispersing the scattered The points upon which the Austrian forces of Mélas, which occupied the general had decided on concentrating principal places in that part of the coun the main body of his forces, were Alertry. Bonaparte, therefore, moved upon andria and Piacenza, and accordingly the Ticino, on the banks of which he the several divisions marched, those from arrived on the 31st of May, where the Turin and its neighborhood on the forAustrians were defeated, and finally the mer place, and those from Chenoa on the French entered Milan on the 2d of June, latter. Bonaparte, on the other hand, where they were welcomed by the accla- marching his army from Milan towards mations of the people.

the same points. Lannes had instructions Since the recovery of Upper Italy by to pass the Po at Belgiojoso, a little above the Austrians, all who were known to the point where the Ticino discharges favor liberal forms of government had itself into that river; Murat advanced to become objects of persecution, and the Piacenza, and Duhesme to Cremona. French, and especially the so much talked These divisions presented themselves at of army of reserve, formed a fruitful sub- these several points on the 6th of June. ject of ridicule. It was even circulated Being unable to leave Milan until the among the people, that general Bona. 9th, Bonaparte, foreseeing every thing parte, so well known in Italy, had died and providing for all contingencies, wrote in Egypt; that, like another Pharaoh, he to Berthier, Lannes and Murat, the folhad been drowned in the Red Sea, and lowing instructions: --- Concentrate that the person whose name was then yourselves,” said he, " at Stradella. On figuring in Paris was one of his brothers. the 8th or 9th, at the latest, you will The astonishment of the Italians can have upon your hands fifteen or eighteen therefore be imagined, when it was sud- thousand Austrians, coming from Genoa. denly announced that an army had crossed Meet them and cut them to pieces. It the Alps with Bonaparte at its head, that will be so many enemies the less on our

hands on the day of the decisive battle trophe which produced an immediate and which we are to expect with the entire important influence on the political conarmy of M. de Mélas.” In strict accord- dition of all Europe, and in its ultimate ance with this prediction, the Imperial- result, placed the Imperial Diadem on the ists presented themselves to Lannes on brow of Bonaparte, it will be well worth the morning of the 9th June, and on that while here to render its more prominent day was fought the memorable Battle of features clearly intelligible to the reader, Montebello, which, at a later period, so that the movements of the armies, on gave to the family of that gallant soldier which so much depended, may be the the title they now enjoy.

more readily comprehended. The river The fight of Montebello lasted from Bormida having descended from the Apeleven in the morning until eight in the penines, here follows a tortuous course evening. The struggle during the day from south to north, and forms the westwas one of unexampled severity, and on ern boundary of the plain. (See the Map) both sides displayed the most signal It flows into the Tanaro, à tributary of bravery. The field of battle was a tract on the Po, at the north-western angle of the the right bank of the Po, expressly se- plain. The latter river, after receiving lected for the purpose by Bonaparte, and the waters of the Bormida, follows a extended from Stradella, where the French course nearly from west to east. Thus line rested its wings on the one side of these two rivers form a right angle, the river, and on the other on a spur of within which the plain is included. In the Appenines, to the villages of Casteg- the angle formed by these rivers, is gio and Montebello. Confiding in his the village of CASTEL CERIOLO. The troops, Lannes pushed his advanced high road leading to Tortona forms the guard farther towards the latter places southern limit of the plain. This road ihan was strictly prudent, and thereby passes through another village called exposed his flank. This confidence was, SAN GIULIANO, which occupies the southhowever, not misplaceed. Towards eve eastern corner of the plain. A shallow, ning the Austrians, repulsed at every point, muddy stream, called the Fontanone, fled to Montebello, leaving in the hands runs at a short distance within the Borof the victor a large number of prisoners. mida, nearly parallel to the right bank The First Consul arrived just at the ter of that river, holding a similar winding mination of the battle, the time and place course from south to north, and finally of which he had so distinctly foretold, discharging its waters into the Tanaro. and found Lannes covered with blood, On the left bank of the Bormida, and on but exulting in the result of the day. In a tract included between that river and this combat, 12,000 French were opposed the course of the Tanaro above their to 18,000 Austrians, of which the latter junction, stands the Fortress of ALEXlost 4,000 prisoners, and 3,000 killed

This Fortress communicates and wounded, being more than one-third with the plain by two bridges (B, on of their entire number. This was one the map,) placed so close together as of the most desperate and bloody actions to have a common tête du pont. On which occurred during the war. In de- the right bank of the Fontanone, and near scribing the carnage to Bourienne, Lan- the centre of the great plain which formnes says, that “the bones in his division ed the battle-field, stands the village of cracked like glass in a hail-storm.” MARENGO. A road connects this with

After waiting three days to rest the San Giuliano, the distance between the troops after their forced marches, and to places being about two miles, and anothre-organize the artillery, and having ap. er connects Marengo with Castel Ceriolo, pointed Desaix, who had just arrived the distance being about a mile and a half. from Egypt, to the command of a divi- The plain was in general level and open, sion of the army, Bonaparte, not finding being very favorable for the operation of the main body of the Austrians make their cavalry. appearance as he expected they would, Such was the field upon which a poradvanced with his whole army, and on tion of the French army, led by Bonathe 13th déboùched upon the extensive parte, Berthier and Lannes, débouched on plain lying between the Scrivia and the the morning of the 13th June, 1800, Bormida, which has since become cele- flushed with the trophies of Montebello, brated as the plain of MARENGO. and impatient for that general engagement

As this place was destined on the fol- the result of which must determine the lowing day to be the theatre of a catas- issue of the campaign.

ANDRIA.

[blocks in formation]

Adopting the supposition, which ap- general engagement. A few corps were peared to be the most natural and proba- collected at Marengo; a reserve of one ble, that the Austrian commander would division and the Consular Guard, were attempt to force his way to Mantua by with Bonaparte at Torre de Garofolo, the main road through Tortona, knowing another division was on the road to Novi; a general engagement to be inevitable, and other forces spread upon the upper and having the selection of the ground and lower Po, the Ticino and the Adda. for it, he would undoubtedly have halted The division of the army under Thuron this plain, which presented him with reau, was intercepted from present comadvantages so striking and obvious for munication in the direction of Mont Cénis. the effective operations of his vast artil. These were unfortunate circumstances, lery and splendid cavalıy. But of this, but were the inevitable results of the probable as it seemed to be, there was no previous movements. Bonaparte had visible indication. The plain was scour calculated on having time to produce a ed in every direction, but no trace of the sufficient concentration as soon as he Austrian army was discovered. Towards should discover the point at which he the evening the division of Victor, with would have to dispute the passage of the the corps of Gandanne and Chambarlhac, Austrian forces. The event proved that advanced from San Giuliano to Marengo, he was deceived in this, and that he was where they found a detachment of caval- destined to be surprised by the advance ry who, after a slight resistance, retreated of the enemy, without having the time across the Bormida.

he expected for concentration. Under these circumstances, Bonaparte While Bonaparte was sending his dino longer doubted that the Austrian had visions here and there in fruitless search escaped him, and was about to attempt a of De Mélas, that commander was in fact passage either by the Ticino or upon the on the spot, shut up in the fortress of lower Po, and officers were despatched to Alexandria. How he could be there on these and other points to make the ne- the 13th, with the main body of his forces, cessary inquiries. He might have re without the fact being discovered by the treated upon Genoa, on the other hand, French, whose battalions were scouring relying on the aid of the British Squad- the plain beyond the river not a mile disron which blockaded that harbor. To tant, and who, solicitous to discover the meet this possibility, Desaix was detach. enemy, availed themselves of all the usual ed in the evening with the division of sources of information, appears incomboudet, on the road to Novi. On the prehensible. Nevertheless, so it seems night of the 13th, all hope of a general to have been. Within Alexandria, durbattle having been thus relinquished, ing these curious efforts of the French to Victor's corps was left in occupation of discover him, Mélas and his army were Marengo and the adjoining ground; in confusion and despair. On the day of Lannes division occupied the plain be- the 13th, a council of war was held there tween Marengo and San Giuliano, and by the Austrian General, at which vari. Murat and Kellerman, with divisions of ous projects of escape were discussed. cavalry, were stationed on either side of One point of deliberation was, whether Marengo. Bonaparte retained with him- they should retreat upon the upper Po self, in reserve at head quarters, the se and the Ticino, or shut themselves up in cond division of Desaix's corps under Genoa. To this the generals replied, Monnier, taking them with him on the that for eighteen months they had been evening of the 13th, to a small place call- fighting like brave men; that they had ed Torre de Garofolo, where he fixed his rëconquered Italy; that they were marchhead quarters that night, instead of Vog- ing upon the frontiers of France, whither hera at the other side of the Scrivia, they were directed by orders from Vienwhich had been previously selected for na; that such orders had been repeated that purpose, but which fortunately, as so late as the very day before ; that they it proved, was rendered inaccessible at ought to have been informed of the danthe moment by reason of the swollen con ger in their rear, instead of which they dition of the river.

had been lulled into a false and fatal seThe scattered condition of the French curity ; that all means which presented army was now quite the reverse of that themselves of avoiding an encounter with state of concentration which, in the tac- the French were complicated and diffitics of Napoleon, was always assumed as cult, and questionable, with regard to an essential condition of success in a honor; that there was one, and but one,

simple, straight forward and honorable artillery consisting of not less than two course, which was to cut their way hundred pieces of cannon. through their opponents; that they would The battle had now raged for above therefore, on the morrow, open to them- three hours. The French had yielded at selves a path to Piacenza and Mantua, every point to the overpowering numbers though it were at the price of their blood; of their opponents. Couriers had been and that if any disaster should befall them, despatched, on the first appearance of the the responsibility would rest on those Austrians, to the head-quarters of Bonawho thus left them in such fatal igno- parte at Torre de Garofolo. Aid-de-camp rance of the peril which was gathering after aid-de-camp was sent in pursuit of round them. The resolution was there. Desaix, who had been detached towards fore formed, to move from Alexandria Novi the preceding evening. Reinforcethe following morning; and force a pas- ments were, in short, summoned from sage through the French lines.

every quarter. It was now ten o'clock. A surprise was as far from the designs Bonaparte arrived, galloping at the head of the Austrian commander, as a general of the mounted Consular Guard, and fol. engagement was unexpected by the lowed by the division of Monnier which, French. Yet a surprise was produced though forming part of Desaix's corps, which had resulted in the utter discom- was fortunately not sent with that Genefiture and defeat of the French, but for a ral to Novi. The appearance of the combination fortuitous events, and Guard, the finest troops in the servicesome rare instances of promptitude and but above all, the presence of the First vigor on the part of Bonaparte's lieute- Consul, revived the spirit of the army and nants.

arrested their retreat. Bonaparte glancAt day-break, on the morning of the ing his eye over the field, with the ra. 14th June, the Austrian army issued from pidity of thought made his dispositions. Alexandria and crossed the Bormida by He formed the troops into line, with the the bridges. (B.) This operation was right resting on Castel Ceriolo, and so slow, the two bridges having, as has that he could execute a pivot movement been explained, a common tête du pont. on that point so as to give the line an The Austrians divided on passing the oblique direction, extending from Castel river-one part, preceded by the cavalry Ceriolo to San Giuliano. This position under Oreilly, directing its march upon would enable him to act on the flank of Marengo, and the other moving upon the Austrians, who must of necessity Castel Ceriolo. The French, who had take the road from Marengo to San Giuoccupied the ground in advance of Ma- liano, and a retreat to the Po would be rengo, between the Fontanone and the secured by the road from Alexandria to Bormida, now retired and occupied the Salé, in his rear. village and the bank of the stream, so as The battle was now renewed with to oppose the passage of the Imperialists. fresh fury. The infantry resisted the When the French were thus taken by repeated and terrible charges of the splensurprise, they had only the two corps of did cavalry of Mélas by throwing themVictor and Lannes in line, amounting in selves into squares. The flying troops all to 15,000 or 16,000, opposed to of Victor were rallied under the protec36,000. The corps of Lannes, which was tion of Murat's cavalry, and brought back extended from Marengo to Castel Ceriolo, into position. The gardens and cottages formed the right of the French line. The of Castel Ceriolo were occupied, and the left of the Austrians, under General Ott, pivot cstablished.

But the Austrians, passed Castel Ceriolo and out-flanked impelled by the courage of despair, and Lannes. At the same time the right of sustained by an overwhelming majority the Imperialists made a desperate attempt of numbers, at length prevailed. Nothto ford the Fontanone at and above Ma- ing could withstand them. They issued rengo, and scale the right bank of that in an irresistible torrent from Marengo, stream. In this they were supported by driving the French in confusion before a desperate fire of their artillery, planted them. Great and memorable were the on the opposite bank. At length, after a efforts of Lannes at this moment. Under terrible carnage and unheard-of struggle, the murderous fire of eighty pieces of canthe French line was out-flanked on both non, which ejected showers of round and wings, driven from Marengo, and com grape upon him, he presented his four pelled to retreat into the open plain, ex- demi-brigades to oppose the advance of posed, without shelter, to the fire of an the Austrians, and protracted a retreat

« ZurückWeiter »