Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns

The 1799 Campaign in Italy: The Last Battles & the End of the Directory’s Wars August-December 1799

By Enrico Acerbi

Fossano and Savigliano: the 1st Clashes

The Austrian main army organized its camp at Brà on September 16, occupying Cherasco, where Bonaparte received the Piedmontese capitulation in 1796.  The army stopped between Baretto and Borgo della Madonna with the reserve troop at Sanfré. The outposts were: Mondovì where General Gottesheim sent 7 infantry companies; Albano with two squadrons; Fossano with 3 companies and a ½ squadron; Savigliano with 9 companies and 4 squadrons; Valdigi (Levaldigi), Centallo and Villafalletto, each with one company and one squadron and Moretta with 2 companies. The main body of Gottesheim’s vanguard was in front of a village which was between Savigliano and Fossano, called Genola. The Gruppe of General Kaim, charged with defending Turin, had its outposts at Saluzzo, where it linked with Mélas’s main army, Staffarda, Cavour, Vigone, Macello, Buriasco, then Airasca and Turin.  To the north, at the borders (the old Savoy was part of Sardinia), was FML Hadik, who guarded the Great St. Bernard Pass from Etroubles and St. Remy and had a smaller outpost toward the Little St. Bernard Pass at Villot and Roccatagliata.  His main body was at Aosta. 

On September 16 (17 ?) [i],  while the French vanguards, which had for some days marched from the Villafalletto main camp toward Savigliano, were stopped near Vottignasco by one of the many scattered Gottesheim’s outposts. Another large French column, led by Grenier together with the Compans’ troops, went out from the woods near the Maira Creek, seized Saluzzo and entered the town of Savigliano, fighting with the Austrians among the houses and reaching the main square of the town. The Austrians (Gottesheim, who theorically had the command of seven infantry battalions and 6 dragoon squadrons, but who really led 3 Battalions and 2 squadrons at Genola), was totally surprised and retreated to Marene, near Brà, leaving behind some wounded and prisoners (all from the scattered outposts). The French then extended the occupation until Fossano, while the Austrians went back to Brà, within the range of the main army. On this first day, the French lost about 200 men wounded, killed or missing, while 300 Austrians were wounded or killed and about 700 were taken prisoners ( in the ranks of 4th Deutschmeister regiment they counted 379 taken prisoners by the French, all soldiers surprised in outposts, plus 13 dead and 21 wounded).

During the night, General Mélas formed two attack columns, each 10000 men strong, under Fieldmarshals Ott and Kray, which moved ahead on September 18, at 11 a.m. and reached Savigliano at 16 p.m. The force seizing Cherasco was advanced to Bene with the order to join the main army at La Trinità. The first column, followed by Melas personally, drove to Savigliano, the second, General Kray’s, toward Fossano. The first assault target was Ott’s, or the attempt to take the Savigliano Bridge (over the Maira) forcing the French to recover themselves along the creek banks.  Ott, after having engaged the French at Cascina della Croce, soon realized the Fürstenberg Regiment, marching in battalion order along the road, could have been outflanked by the French skirmishers and sent orders to Mittrowsky to support the attack with 2 battalions which could hit the enemy’s flank.

The clash continued till the Savigliano Bridge, which Ott began to bombard with his heavy batteries.  In order to speed the advance, the Fieldmarshal sent a Fürstenberg Battalion north through Cavallermaggiore, which crossed the Grana Creek hitting the enemy flank. Another Stuart Infantry Battalion was sent through Canavere cutting the French withdrawal to Cuneo. Behind these vanguard forces were two grenadiers brigades, which charged the French with bayonets. The grenadiers assaulted the bridge and repulsed the French from Savigliano; they retreated in good order and were pursued till Maresco. The French of Savigliano lost 2 guns and some caisson, 600 men and 23 Officers prisoners of the Austrians, 1200 dead or wounded; there the Austrians lost 39 dead (1 Officer), 237 wounded (9 Officers), and 44 men prisoners of the French.

On the second column side, General Kray divided his troops in two sub-columns, the first against the Fossano Heights, the second which had to act along the road. Behind was the cavalry of prince Liechtenstein, a support force acting as reserve. Kray’s advance was met with intense musketry and canister fire from the hill batteries; for many hours the weak French units were able to stop the enemy’s charges. The fight enraged near Fossano at 17.00 p.m., with Kray’s Austrians counterattacking and engaging the French troops near the Mellea marshes.  The outnumbered French were repulsed until Fossano and up to the Maira. In the night all the units under General Laviolais retreated into Fossano, which was abandoned by night. General Laviolais continued his march until Cuneo (Coni). There the French lost 680 dead or wounded and 61 prisoners (5 Officers among them).  The Austrian had 52 dead, 290 wounded (among them 11 Officers and General-Major Seckendorff severely wounded) while only 21 men fell prisoners of the French. [ii]

The attacks continued the following day, with some skirmishing by the vanguards around Savigliano, where a strong Austrian garrison was sent to place and resist there, with the French retreating to Coni. Fossano, which had an old but efficient defensive wall, was left behind as defenders strongpoint, under command and garrison of General Alcaini. Mélas gathered his troop on September 19 at Savigliano and deployed the right wing along the Maira till the Grana, where the Fossano road split in two the front, while the left wing was at San Lorenzo; the cavalry reserve, in a second line, stood behind Savigliano, where Mélas had transferred his headquarters. The new dispositions and orders were transmitted also to the Oberst Ried, the Mondovì commander. This Austrian deployment was threatening Coni and Pinerolo, the two points where the Alps Corps entered their respective battles.  It was considered safe in the upper Tanaro valley, where no French had been observed. The Austrians stood at Savigliano until the month’s end, “looting and pillaging the countryside” as told some witnesses “bringing also typhus and a cattle pestilence.”

Général de Division Paul Grenier As for Jomini [iii]  - * Miliutin – 8000 men

10000

Under command of General Compans and after Muller [iv]

The Order of battle for the Alps Corps
(Units, missing the details, is totally reconstructed upon research, but must be confirmed by archival documents.)

Brigadiers : Général-de-brigade Jean Dominique Compans[v]
Général-de-division François Müller[vi]  the vice-commander of Grenier’s Division
Adjudant général Jacques Louis Delabrosse called « Flavigny » - Général-de-brigade Claude Clément [vii]

Brigade Légére Général-de-Brigade Jean-Baptiste (Andrè) Carvin known as Calvin

3rd Light Infantry Demi-Brigade – Chef Pierre Cassagne [viii]

 

8th Light Infantry Demi-Brigade – Chef Brun

 

 2nd Regiment Chasseurs-à-cheval  - Chef-de-brigade Jean-Baptiste Croutelle

 

3rd Regiment Chasseurs-à-cheval  - Chef-de-brigade François-Alexandre Grosjean

 

14th Regiment Chasseurs-à-cheval  - Chef-de-brigade Jacques Boudet

 

Brigades Général Jean Dominique Compans and Claude Clément

26th Light Infantry Demi-Brigade – I and III  Battalions. ???

 

104th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade – Chef Eyrich [ix]

 

10th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade – Chef Jean-Baptiste Rivet

 

40th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade – Chef Jacques Lefranc

 

47th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade[x] Chef  Pierre-Denis de la Chastre for Jean O’Neill (Chef from 1798) - Capture of Pignerol, Stura, and Savigliano

 

Brigade Général Jean Louis Gaspard Josnet de Laviolais – after attached to Victor division

3000

35th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade – Chef ?? [xi]

??

The Austrians

Division General-Major Friedrich Heinrich Freiherr Gottesheim

5000 ??

Feldbrigade Oberst Carl von Brixen

 

K.K.  4th Line Regiment Hoch und Deutschmeister – Erz. Maximilian von Köln
Commander: Obst Carl von Brixen - I, II, III Battalions. – the Grenadiers being with the Hohenfeld Battalion

1090

K.K.  48th  Hungarian  Line Infantry Regiment Frh. Philipp von Vukassovich – I, II Battalions

659

 K.K. 1st Light Dragoons Regiment “Emperor” Kaiser Franz II  - 6 squadrons

888 

K.K.  8th Line Regiment. (former Huff Regiment) - I, II Battalions. Fossano and Savigliano, then Genola, Mondovì and Monasterolo on November 13

1809

K.K.  39th  Line Hungarian  Infantry Regiment Graf Támas Nádasdy – one battalion September 11 a battalion in garrison at Borgo San Dalmazzo. The other battalions. were: September 30 was at fort Bard, Oct. 30 Beinette and Stura, November 4 Fossano and Genola, December 4 Coni

1131

1st Kolonne - Division General-Major Carl Peter Ott de Batorkéz

9966

Vanguard brigade Oberst Conrad von Thelen

 

K.K.  36th  Line Infantry Regiment  Fürst Carl Fürstenberg  I Battalion. Commander: Oberst Conrad von Thelen

719

Feldbrigade General-Major Freiherr Anton von Mittrowsky

 

K.K.  36th Line Infantry Regiment  Fürst Carl Fürstenberg  II, III Battalions.

1438

K.K.  18th Line Infantry Regiment  Graf Patrick Stuart - I and III  Battalions.

2363

Feldbrigade FML Johann Ludwig Alexander Alformerius Frh. von Loudon

 

K.K. Grenadier Battalion Graf Nikolaus Weissenwolf

646

K.K. Grenadier Battalion Oberleutnant Franz von Neny

579

K.K. Grenadier Battalion Oberleutnant Carl Soudain

358

K.K. Grenadier Battalion Graf Otto von Hohenfeld

575

Feldbrigade General-Major Christoph Freiherr von Lattermann

 

K.K. Grenadier Battalion Oblt Franz Xavier Weber von Treuenfeld

602

K.K. Grenadier Battalion Graf Anton Schiaffinati – 4-5 November Stura and Fossano (Genola)

598

K.K. Grenadier Battalion Graf Carl Paar

499

K.K.Grenadier Battalion Oberleutnant Ferdinand Pers

482

K.K. Grenadier Battalion Freiherr Carl von Görschen

615

K.K. Grenadier Battalion major Franz Wouwermanns

492

2nd Kolonne - Division FZM Paul Kray de Krajowa et Topolya

9491

Vanguard Feldbrigade General-Major Graf Ferdinand Johann Morzin

 

K.K.  28th  Line Infantry Regiment Freiherr Michael von Fröhlich – ½ III Battalion

713

Feldbrigade General-Major Carl Adorján

 

K.K.  19th Hungarian Line Regiment. Freiherr Jozsef Alvinczy de Berberek – 3 Battalions.
Commander: Oberst Lelio Spannocchi

2171

K.K.  15th Line Regiment. Oranien Prinz Wilhelm- I,II  Battalions.

1721

Feldbrigade General-Major Anton Graf Mignot de Bussy

 

K.K.  39th  Line Hungarian  Infantry Regiment Graf Támas Nádasdy – I, II, and III Battalions

1131

K.K.  10th  Line Infantry Regiment  (former  Regiment Kheul) – I and III   Battalion.

1011

Feldbrigade General-Major Johann Graf Alcaini

 

K.K.  40th Hungarian   Line Infantry Regiment  GM Graf Joseph Mittrowsky – I, II, III Battalions

1106

K.K.  13th  Line Infantry Regiment Freiherr Franz Wenzel Reisky von Dubnitz – I, II, III Battalions

1638

Cavalry Division General-Major Fürst Johann von Liechtenstein

 

Feldbrigade General-Major Anton Freiherr von Elsnitz

 

K.K. 8th Light Dragoon Regiment Friedrich Wilhelm Carl Herzog Württemberg- 6 Squadrons
Commander: Oberst Johann Festenberg Freiherr von Hassenwein, (1 - 2 – 3 Divisions  - 6 Squadrons)

978

K.K. 4th Light Dragoons Regiment GM Andreas Frh. von Karacsaj de Vale-Sakam

914

Feldbrigade General-Major Graf Johann Nobili

 

K.K. 10th Light Dragoons Regiment GdC Joseph Fürst Lobkowitz - 6 Squadrons

827

K.K. 8th Light Dragoon Regiment Friedrich Wilhelm Carl Herzog Württemberg- 6 Squadrons

978

Feldbrigade General-Major Nikolaus Joseph Pálffy von Erdöd

 

K.K. 3rd Light Dragoons Regiment FM Erzherzog Johann Baptist – 6 squadrons

1030

K.K. 2nd Hussar regiment Erzherzog Joseph Anton – 8 squadrons

1078

The other “Alpine” division, Duhesme’s, was ordered to make a diversionary attack on Grenier’s left, emerging from Pinerolo till Rivoli [xii], at the mouth of the Susa valley, near Turin, where the French had a short engagement with the vanguards of General Kaim, defender of Turin. Duhesme divided his troops in two columns entering the plains at Avigliana and Pinerolo. Both directed toward Turin, the right column engaged the Austrians at Airasca and drove them south, to Scalenghe. However, when the Austrians reorganized their outnumbered cavalry and when they received one infantry battalion of the Gyulai infantry, one cavalry squadron and 6 heavy guns from Turin as reinforcements, the French were forced to withdraw to Pinerolo. The left attacking column had no more luck. It attacked with two main groups the chain of the Austrian outposts, under major Meszko of the 7th Hussars, who was at Rivoli and could not direct the defence there. So, in the first moments, the Austrian General Bellegarde (brother) coming from Orbassano with the other two Gyulai Battalions and a cavalry squadron, was caught by surprise by the Molard’s attack and repulsed till Collegno, where upholded during a second attack. During this second attack, Bellegarde had severe risks of being  routed, but the intervention of the Turin’s troops (three battalions and some cavalry) of Generals Kaim and Vukassovich, at 17.00 p.m., forced the French to return to the Avigliana camp (September 16) after having lost about 1000 men. The Austrians lost 300 men. It was impossible, for General Kaim, to amplify the success by pursuing Duhesme troops as the left chain of Outposts toward Saluzzo, under colonel Sebastian Prodanovich (Vukassovich), had been broken and mainly for the alarm generated by the Hadik’s retreat to Ivrea (see Hadik’s note).

Général de Division Philibert-Guillaume Duhesme [xiii]  - * Miliutin (7500 men)

8000

Adjudant-général Taskin (Chef-de-Battalion) Adjudant-général Louis Ordonneau
Light Artillery detachment – Chef-de-Brigade (of Light artillery) Jean Louis Olivier Mossel [xiv]

Brigadiers: General Joseph Mathurin Fidele Lesuire [xv]
Général-de-brigade Claude-François Malet [xvi]
Adjudant-Général Michel Molard called Dumolard  [xvii]
Adjudant-général Chef-de-Brigade Joseph Boyer [xviii]
Général-de-brigade George Kister [xix]

28th Light Infantry Demi-Brigade – Chef de brigade Voutier ?

 

107th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade - Chef-de-Brigade Conrad Kulm

 

87th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade ?? -  Chef Armand Philippon, confirmed from 1800 [xx]

 

29th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade I and III Battalions - Chef-de-Brigade Joseph Boyer

 

80th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade – ??? - Chef-de-Brigade Jean Antoine Dejean

 

10th Hussars regiment-   Julien-Augustin-Joseph Mermet -  (from Grenier Divisions  ?)

600

11th Hussars Regiment – Chef-de-brigade Jacques-Phillippe Avice

 

Feldbrigade General-Major Friedrich Bellegarde at Rivoli

 

K.K.  33rd Line Regiment. Graf Anton Sztaray – I,II and III  Battalions.

 

K.K.  32nd Hungarian Line Regiment. Graf Samuel Gyulai - I,II Battalions.

 

K.K. 7th Hussar Regiment 3 Squadrons - IV Divisions  2nd Major Joszef Meszko

 
 

Feldbrigade Carl Freiherr von Schauroth. at Orbassano

 

K.K.  38th Line Regiment. Herzog Ferdinand von Württemberg - ½ I Battalion.

 

K.K.  32nd Hungarian Line Regiment. Graf Samuel Gyulai - III Battalion.

 

K.K.  58th Line Regiment. Freiherr Peter von Beaulieu – combined Battalion

 

K.K.  30th  Infantry Regiment Fürst Carl Joseph de Ligne - ½ III Battalion.

 

K.K. 1st Light Dragoon Regiment “Emperor” Kaiser Franz II  - 2 squadrons

 

K.K. 7th Hussar Regiment 3 Squadrons
Commander: Oberst Carl Freiherr von Schauroth. With 4 Squadrons II Division (see after) Obstlt. Graf Thomas Dessöffy (dead at Parona) then Major Franz Szabo – III Division 1st Major Szabo then Major Joszef Meszko – IV Divisions  2nd Major Joszef Meszko then Major Felix Graf Montecuccoli

 

FML Kaim was ordered to advance a small vanguard from Rivoli, through Alpignano until Lanzo (21 September) while the right wing of Mélas extended its width, with the arrival of Prince Liechtenstein’s Division. In the 22 september afternoon the Austrian cavalry of Liechtenstein (12 squadrons.), with 18 infantry battalions, deployed a screen at the beginning of the upper Po valley, driving to and from Saluzzo, where also the Elsnitz cavalry brigade reached the front line, supporting the prince. At Saluzzo they built a pontoon-bridge and on the morning of  23 September the Austrians deployed on the opposite bank of the river (the left Po bank). A large column moved to Cavour, while another, led by Colonel Fenstenberg, commander of the Württemberg Dragoons, was left behind with two battalions and one dragoon division in order to cover the flank and seized Bricherasio. All the Austrian columns were preceded by cavalry reconnaissance patrols called “Seitenpatrouillen”. Fenstenberg was later sent to Luserna, to support the attack to the village. Liechtenstein, with the main body of his corps, marched morth toward Pinerolo, where about 6000 French were fortified. Near Turin another column of the Kaim’s Division tried to join the attack on Pinerolo from the right, passed Giaveno and made some secondary skirmishes in the Perosa valley. A last column was expected to enforce the attack against the Pinerolo Citadel coming from Piossasco. The old Piedmontese fortress was completely encircled. Prince Liechtenstein opened fire at midday of September 23, attacking the whole front, while the dragoons patrol of  Württemberg’s Cavalry Division secured the flanks along the River Po banks. The French troops of Duhesme resisted for two hours among the houses, and then withdrew till the Fenestrelle Fort. The prince general then, having secured the Turin front, returned with the main army to the Savigliano camp.

In the other side of the front, north of Pinerolo, the brigade Molard was pushed away from Rivoli and Avigliana and forced to retreat to Susa and, then, to the Mont Cenis Pass. Susa was occupied by the Kaim’s soldiers on September 25 (Bellegarde brigade). The French retreated in two columns: the first reached Mont Cenis through Novalese, the second retreated to Chaumont and Exilles. Major Meszko had the command at Susa, allowing Bellegarde to return to Turin.

Notes:

[i] This date is from Jomini’s chronicle. The Austrians referred the battle of Fossano on September 17, and Savigliano the day after. This later option semms more reliable (see note at Genola). The main Austrian source is: Mras Carl, “Der Feldzug 1799 in Italien nach dem Abmarsch der Russen in die Schweiz“, nach östreichischen Originalquellen bearbeitet, in „Streffleurs Östreichische militärische Zeitschrift“, jahr1822/1, S. 259; 1822/2, S. 3.

[ii] Other sources said the French lost about 2000 men (over 7500 fit to combat) wounded and missing, with 2 guns. The Austrians, with the main Corps engaged (about 20000 men) lost about 400 killed, wounded and missing.

[iii] For Gachot, Championnet divided his forces in brigades (columns) attacking along the valleys: Malet at Aosta, Lesuire at Susa, Compans at Coni while the division Duhesme menaced Fenestrelle and Pinerolo.

[iv] There is a bit of confusion about the Paul Grenier committment during the last phase of the 1799 campaign. He was originally committed as Chief of the two territorial divisions 7th  and 8th in order to organize the new Alps Army. In this period Compans was the Chief of Staff. When the “army?” moved to the Savoy’s province of Maurienne (Moriana) and Tarentaise, Compans had the command of this last territory. On August 17 Compans led the brigade which captured La Thuile in the Aosta valley, near the Little St. Bernard. When Grenier gathered his division in the Barcelonette valley and begun to march toward Piedmont, Championnet took command of the Italy’s army and Grenier that of the former Alp’s army, now left wing of the Italy’s army. On September 2 compans, now provisional commander of the Grenier’s division, marched toward Coni. He reached the town on September 15 and participated to the 1st Fossano-Savigliano battle. After the engagement the division was under command of general Muller and Compans led a vanguard brigade, camped at Madonna dell’Olmo, near Cuneo. Compans fought at Murazzo (October 28-29) losing about 500 men.

[v]comte Jean-Dominique Compans (1769-1845):  He was the Grenier « shadow ». Born on June 26, 1769, in Salière (Haute-Garonne) he enrolled as volunteer on October 2, 1789. Become Captain in the 3e Battalion of the national Guard of his department, he was brilliant awith the armies of the Alps, Italy and Pyrénées-Orientales. In 1798 he was named  “chef d'état-major” of the armée d'Italie, fu promosso général de brigade in 1799 for his good behaviour in combats against Austro-russians (on June 23, 1799 was provisional Général de brigade and on October 19, 1799 Général de brigade). At that time he helped Grenier to organize the Alps Corps later under Championnet. He distinguished himself at the battle of Murazzo, San Giacomo and Montebello, received an hard wound at Austerlitz and, finally, at Jena (23/11/06) acquired the rank of général de division (chef d'état-major of the IV Corps of the Grande Armée). Napoléon, who reputed him one of the most brilliant among his generals, awarded him as Grand-Aigle de la Légion-d'Honneur, count and  Grand-Croix de l'ordre de là Réunion. He died on November 10, 1845, in Blagnac near Toulouse, aged 77.

[vi] Général de division François Müller (Born at Sarrelouis on January 29, 1764- Died at Orleans on September 23, 1808). Son of a « coiffeur », he entered the republican service in the Paris Battalion “Butte des Moulins” in 1792.  He was attached to the general Staff at the North army in the same year, then went to Tours where he was named adjudant-général chef-de-Battalion in the army of la Rochelle coasts (1793). There he became a provisional brigadier and soon also general of division  on September 30, 1793. He was after at the Brest army and led the 2nd division of the West army under Rossignol. In 1794 he went to the North army, under Favereau, fighting at Maubeuge; in May he commanded the Desjardin division and the 2nd division under Schérer and Kléber, then he was transferred to the Sambre-et-Meuse army in Summer. On August 14, 1794 the Comité de salut public (government) dismissed him for incapability in the command. He remained without important charges, leading only secondary units, volunteers and bridge garrisons until September 4, 1797 when he was called to command the 6th territorial division of Besançon and then the 7th at Grenoble. There he was reached by the orders to organize the “Grand Alps army” with Grenier. On September 16, after a short period in Switzerland, he reached Grenoble to operate with Grenier, of whom he became the substitute commander (while the true vice-commander was Compans). He fought at Saluzzo and Genola and, then, on January 1800 he was reformed. He was recalled at the Reserve army with Watrin (March 30, 1800) participating to the capture of Ivrea (May 24). Commander at Berne, he was admitted to the retirement on May 21, 1801, returning to Sarrelouis, from where he was exiled to Orléans, accused to be part of the Moreau’s plot (1804). Source: Georges Six “Dictionnaire biographique des généraux & amiraux français de la Révolution et de l'Empirevol 2, p 241 (thanks to the Series Forum and Steve H. Smith).  

[vii]General brigadier Claude Clément (Born December 2, 1757- Dead May 20,1802, another officer killed by the Yellow Fever at Santo Domingo island). Was named chef-de-brigade and commander of the 58th demi-brigade de bataille on December 13, 1796, remaining in Italy until 1799. Otherwise on January 22, 1797, after the Rivoli battle, he was charged with the command of the 29th Light infantry. In 1798, in Piedmont, he had the provisional rank of brigadier directly from Joubert and was confirmed by Directory on March 15, 1799. Attached to the Staff of Grenier and Compans, he participated in the organizaton of the Alps Corps, becoming the commander of fortress Coni after the fatal battle at Genola (November 11-December 3 1799) and he was the Officer who signed the Coni capitulation, reaching Hungary as war-prisoner. Returned from captivity in may 1801, not exchanged as disciplinary effect, he was transferred in the Leclerc Expeditionary Force to the Santo Domingo island, where he found the death.

[viii] Chef-de-Brigade Pierre Cassagne: Wounded 4 November 1799 – Born: 29 December 1762. Chef-de-Brigade: October 29, 1793 (1er Battalion, Volontaires de la Correze) and then, on June 24, 1794, also of the 7e demi-brigade d'Infanterie Legere. On December 5, 1797 became Chef of the 3rd Light infantry. Was with Pouget (?) and then at Novi (??), Genola, and Mondovi. General-de-Brigade: 21 April 1800. Commander of the Legion d'Honneur: 23 July 1811. Baron of the Empire: 5 August 1812. Died: 26 November 1833

[ix] Eyrich, attached as chef-de-brigade to the 9th Light demi-brigade, had been named commander of the new 104th Line on June 6, 1799.

[x] Chef-de-brigade Pierre-Denis de la Chastre, ex-commandant of the regiment called “de La Châtre”, provisional chef-de-brigade promoted by general Hoche after the Ireland expedition (year V) confirmed as chef-de-brigade and commander of the 47th Line on July 10, 1799. The 47th Line was the first Duhesme’s unit to score a successful clash in the 9 fructidor attack (August 26). Under general Lesuire it attacked and seized Fenestrelle, attached the 500 men of the garrison under artillery Chef Mossel, captured Villaret, and then Pinerolo, ending its march at Perosa (Perouse).

[xi] This unit represents one of the great mysteries of the 1799 campaign. The 35th Line demi-brigade “de deuxiéme formation” was organized during the first months of 1799 from: the old 114th Line; the old demi-brigade du Lot; the 2nd Battalion of the old 2nd provisional demi-brigade and from the old 29th Light infantry. This fact is often unknown in the “amalgames” histories, apart of Digby Smith who punctualize the amalgame was ordered in 1795 but was completed only on September 23, 1799.. Its Chef was unknown (not really Maucune who led the 39th Line with Dessolle). None order of battle lists it at Pastrengo, where it really was, having some soldiers being also awarded there and at Novi in August. At Pastrengo the demi-brigade probably fought in a third line rank (being new formed) in the place of that 45e demi-brigade (Gachot) listed at Pastrengo, where its units were all with Montrichard in the south and partially in Mantua. So that 45th could have been a 35th … maybe (mistery as Verideau). In that battle most of its units were caught prisoners, reappearing later in August (as garrisons) and then in the Autumn battles of Beinette (October 13) and Coni. It did not participate to the early Grenier Autumn combats, so probably it was later attached to Victor’s division or to the Laviolais brigade.

[xii] This is Rivoli Torinese, not the location of the renowned 1797 Bonaparte’s victory.

[xiii]Guillaume Philibert comte Duhesme, born on July 7, 1766 at Bourgneuf (Saône-et-Loire), he was the national Guard commander of his district till 1791, whene he entered the regular army as captain in the 2nd Battalion Saône-et-Loire. Having himself bought the equipment for 200 soldiers he was named chef-de-Battalion by Dumouriez and commanded the place of Ruremonde. He distinguished himself also by destroying a bridge over the Hoo (Holland) in front of the enemy during the Neerwinden battle. On July 6, 1793, Duhesme did proof of his bravery rallying the disordered grenadiers during the clash of Villeneuve wood. He was badly wounded and promoted brigadier. When refit, he had the command of a brigade and fought at Charleroi, Marchiennes bridge and Fleurus. Provisionally charged of the Kleber Corps command, at Maastricht he fought with great valour and had the promotion to general of division (November 8, 1794). Then he did the Vendée campaign under Hoche, was at the Rhine under Pichegru (Kehl, Biberach, Schussenvied) and finally was under Moreau in the Rhine and Moselle army. In 1797 he was wounded in an hand and then sent to Paris to carry the enemy flags taken on the battlefields. In 1798 he was with Championnet (Rome and Naples) seizing Cerrita del Tronto, Pescara and Naples, becoming then governor of the Puglia and Calabria regions. There he had bloody fights against the insurgency (brigands?). Duhesme followed the destiny of Championnet, accused of bad administration and robbery. Completetely discharged he was summoned at Grenoble (July 1799) in order to take the command of the 2nd division of the Alps Corps, in the place of Muller. He fought in Piedmont till the year’s end and was transferred, then, to the inner Reserve Army at Dijon (Spring 1800), and, on December 3, commanding the left wing of Augereau in Germany, he fought at Burg, Éberach, Bamberg, before going away to command the 19th territorial division. 

In 1806 he took part in the Naples expeditionary force, remaining with Massena until 1808, called to Spain. There he distinguished, commanding the Catalunya, which he left in 1810, returning in France. There he was again accused of bad administration and went into some disgrace. Recalled on duty in 1814, he led a division in France, defending the Homeland invaded. His division, however, was almost all taken prisoner and this granted to Duhesme the indirect grace of the returned king, who named him general infantry inspectora nd St. Loius Knight. Napoleon, returned from the Elbe, named him Peer of France and commander of the Young Guard. Qith this elite unit he fought hardly at Waterloo, where he was fatally wounded. He died after a short recover in a Genappe’s house, June 18, 1815.

[xiv] Jean Louis Olivier Mossel (1770-1848) - From 1799 to 1805 he was chef (colonel) and commander of the 2nd Horse Artillery regiment. In 1805 he was promoted brigadier (September 20), receiving the Commander Cross of the Legion d’Honneur, and in 1807 he was division general (June 15). Baron of the Empire in 1808 he was named, on October 26, 1810, general Inspector of the artillery in the military district of Grenoble.

[xv] Brigade general Joseph Mathurin Fidele Lesuire, baron of Bizy (1764-1832). Was born at Rennes (Illeet-Vilaine) on November 18, 1778 and entered the service in the Royal Navy. He did the campaign of Savannah and Grenade as quartermaster in the vessel le Réfléchi, under the admirals d'Estaing and Lamothe-Piquet, in support of the American revolution (1779, 1780, 1781). In 1788 (January 18) he was transferred to the army, as a Dragoon of the Bourbon regiment. He left the service in 1790, re entering in 1792 (May 12) as 1st Lieutenant of the 84th infantry “de bataille”. In 1793, during a fight against Spanish troops, he was wounded in the right thig by a bullet and by a sabre shot, which cut his forearm. On June 19 he was in the Staff of the Santo Domingo army (as adjoint aux adjudants-généraux) and in the same year, general Lasalle, governor of the French Islands of America, named him captain of the 84th Line grenadiers. He remained seven years in the colonies. In 1799 he returned to France with the rank of adjudant-général chef de brigade (also provisional general brigadier from August 21, 1795) and was sent to the Alps Corps (July 11, 1799). The first movements made by the Lesuire column were very fast. He unblocked the siege of Fenestrelles (Fenestrelle) fortress and then seized Pignerol (Pinerolo), took over all the Austrian depots and pushed back the enemies until Turin’s gates. Then, with a forced march, got the link with the other brigade at Exilles fort and, together, occupied Suse (Susa); this opened again the road of communication with the Maurienne region (Moriana). Some days after, Championnet, called him near Coni, employing his brigade in all the clashes around that fortress. At Genola, his brigade was the only French unit which took an Austrian gun as war booty.

On June 1, 1800, at the moment of the Austrian retreat from Nice, Lesuire, now under Massena, seized the enemy redoubts of the camp de Fourches (taking 1000 prisoners) and won the combat of Ponte di Nava (taking other 3000 Hungarian  grenadiers as prisoners). At the end of the year, the Lesuire brigade distinguished itself at the Pozzolo battle, assaulting and seizing the village. The day after, under Brune, Lesuire seized also the important redoubt of Borghetto, defended by seven artillery pieces. On October 21, 1806 Lesuire was at the 25th territorial division after having been awarded in 1804 with the Commander Cross of the Légion-d'Honneur. In 1808 he was also named baron of the Empire, with the name of Bizy, after having served in the territorial divisions n. 5 and n. 15. Then he was called to the Rhine and Germany army, in 1809, commanding a brigade of the 2nd Corps and retiring from service on August 6, 1811. He died on April 19, 1824.

[xvi] Claude (Charles ?) François Malet (1754-1812). Born at Dôle (June 28, 1754) from a noble family. Enrolled in 1771 as a royal musketeer. Named brigadier general only on October 19, 1799, after a provisional charge, despite of the good reports of Championnet and Massena, he had the misfortune to vote against the life Consular charge for Bonaparte, and so was sent to Bordeaux, at the 11th territorial district. In 1807 was governor at Pavia and then also at Rome. However, charged for republican propaganda during the Empire period, by prince Eugene of Beauharnais, he was imprisoned (1808) and forced to retire on May 31, 1808. But his troubles did not end in that way. In 1812 he was again arrested and charged for the organization of a plot against the Emperor, followed by a sudden “coup d’etat” begun after having spread a false new about the Napoleon’s death (the details of the event can be read in Mullié Malet’s biography); for this he was executed on October 30 with the generals Lahorie and Guidal.

[xvii] Michel Molard, Chevalier, called Dumolard was born at Versailles (Yvelines) on November 13, 1763 and entered the service in 1791 as 1st Lieutenant of the 2nd Battalion Seine-et-Oise. He was then aide-de-camp of general Lapoype (October 1791) in the Rhine army. After having served in the North army, in 1793, he took again the task to be aide of Lapoype, at the Toulon siege and, after being named provisional adjudant-général chef-de-Battalion by Dugommier (January 1794) he was in the Alps army (1794-95); confirmed in his rank on July 9, 1795. Returned to his preferite job, aide of Lapoype, he was with him in the Mainz army, in Italy at Genoa and then followed Grenier, when Lapoype got into some disgrace for the Trebbia’s failure. His previous experience on the Alps was fundamental for the new duties. Under Championnet, in the 9 fructidor attack (August 26), he led a column of two conscript Battalions, which seized the Exilles fort, Olivetto, the Assietta, ending his march at Susa. He captured also the castle of Rivoli (September 30). After the 1799 campaign he was in Germany where he was promoted adjudant-général chef-de-brigade. In 1801 he returned in Italy as commander of Turin’s citadel, where he retablished the order lost for some riots. There he was also wounded by a bayonet cut in the abdomen (July 14, 1801). He was Chief of general staff at Turin and then at the 2nd territorial division of Mézières, being attached to the Italy’s army as Chief of staff of the reserve cavalry (September 11, 1805) . He fought at Caldiero in 1805, Roveredo in 1809. Dismissed in May 1810 he was recalled to Catalunya in September (coomander of des Landes department or 11th territorial division). In 1812 he was again dismissed and soon recalled to lead the Yonne department. There and in the Meuse department h served till 1814, confirmedin 1815 and retired from service in 1816. He died at Verdun (Meuse) on May 29, 1818, at 6 AM . Source: Danielle Quintin, Bernard Quintin Dictionnaire des colonels de Napoléon, pp 617-618. (thanks to the Series Forum and Steve H. Smith). 

[xviii]Chef-de-brigade Joseph Boyer(Born: May 4, 1761- Died: December 12,1830) Empire baron and brigadier. Officer of the Legion d’Honneur - June14,1804. On November 5, 1795 named chef-de-brigade of the 29th Line demi-brigade. From 1799 to 1800 participated in the Italian campaign with Duhesme (armée des Alpes) and wounded at Beinette clash. In 1803 he was the commander of the 7th Light regiment (November 3) and fought continually from 1805 to 1807 when he had a rest period because of his old wounds. From 1811 to 1814 he commanded the place of Tortosie.

[xix] Général de brigade George Kister Born: January 26, 1755. Chef-de-Brigade: July 9, 1794 (15e bis demi-brigade legere) Chef-de-Brigade: March 1796 (31e demi-brigade d'Infanterie). Chef-de-Brigade: October 1796 (21e demi-brigade d'Infanterie Legere) Chef-de-Brigade: February 1797 (24e demi-brigade d'Infanterie), General-de-Brigade: February 5, 1799 Commander of the Legion d'Honneur: 14 June 1804 Baron of the Empire: 29 June 1808 Died: 24 December 1832

[xx]The 87th Line infantry was present only at Genola in November and probably was marching toward Switzerland. There are no sources which confirm its participation with the first Autumn clashes. Chef “a titre provisoire” Armand Philippon (1761-1836). In 1800 confirmed as chef of the 87th Line infantry demi-brigade (it was a new formation of 1799 merging detachments from the 22nd, 29th, 51st, 75th, and 94th Line infantry demi-brigades [Battalions Bis] and the Compagnie de Carabiniers Volontaires du Premier Consul). Philippon from 1803 till 1810 acted as colonel commander of the 54th Line regiment and on June 21, 1810 became brigadier and baron of the Empire (in 1804 he was also officer of the Legion d’Honneur). In 1811 he was also general of division (July 9) and from 1811 to 1812 was in Spain, commanding the Badajoz fortress in which he was caught prisoner by the British troops. Relaesed, in 1813, he was governor in Silesia and in 1813 was wounded at Kulm, commanding the 1st infantry division of the 1st Corps. Died in 1836.

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2009

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