The 1799 Campaign in Italy: The Battle of Trebbia -- June 1799 Part I: The Battle of Tidone Creek (17 June)
The Battlefield – (from a GoogleEarth image)
“When a hostile army is covered by a river on which it has several bridgeheads, you should not approach it in front, for in doing so your forces would be too little concentrated and in danger of being broken into detached parts”
Austrian Observation Corps, FML Ott
Division (Kolonne) Generalmajor Carl Peter Ott de Batorkéz
Blocking the Piacenza road at Ponte Tidone with outposts. Main Corps at Sarmato
Sarmato artillery fixed battery - 8 guns, deployed on the Sarmato slope
Along the left Tidone bank, South of the road bridge
Avant-Garde Brigade Generalmajor Friedrich Freiherr Gottesheim – Rechts Kolonne
Along the left bank of the Tidone, left of the road bridge
Victor’s Division formed the avant-garde. It was followed by Rusca’s Division, and then by the Polish Division. Having left Trebbia at 5 o’clock in the morning, the French calmly continued their march until the Tidone. At 9 a.m., the avantgarde of Victor, under General Charpentier, deployed along the Tidone bank. The Austrians were on the right bank (opposite) occupying Agazzino, ponte Tidone (where there was a bridge) and Veratto di sopra. Along both sides of the creek the skirmishers opened up, Rusca, arrived behind Centora, found the Charpentier soldiers without ammunition. He supplied them and prolonged the line. The center, under Victor, forded the creek, which was only two feet deep, and staying San Giovanni, carried forward some guns, which stopped a counter-charge by D’Aspre’s Jägers, forcing them to withdraw behind a slope, on the left side of the road.
At 10 a.m., all of the southern French line moved forward, and the Poles, deployed in march columns, advancing from Campremoldo towards Agazzino, repulsed the enemy. The Polish Division took position, in column, on the extreme left wing of Rusca’s Division. The Poles’ chasseur battalion was sent ahead, and crossed the Tidone to cover the front; but Dąbrowski, realizing the enemy began to slip on its right, gave order to its chief, Brun, to go with part of the French cavalry and the 1st Polish Battalion, on the left, towards Cantone and Arcello, which prevented the enemy from crossing the creek and from falling on their left. The division was deployed in “échelons par bataillons”, declining from its left flank; the artillery was obliged to remain inactive on the main road; the ground, too rough to manoeuver, prevented it from operating. Adjudant-général Gauthrin, leading a patrol of 24 chasseurs on reconnaissance, followed the Austrians, retreating to Camolina. Rusca, with two battalions, crossed the creek in front of Veratto and occupied five houses (called Cascine del Po) in order to master the hamlets of Mezzana and Colombarone.
Armée de Naples
Commander : Général-de-division Etienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre
Macdonald (Wounded at Modena – at rest in Sant’Antonio
Division d’Avantgarde Général Claude Victor Perrin
Avantgarde Brigade Général Henri-François-Marie Charpentier 
Général de brigade baron Charles-Louis-Dieu Donné Grandjean
Center Reserve and Right Wing
Naples Army’s Avantgarde Brigade Jean Baptiste
Nicolas Laurent Salme 
Division Général-de-division Jean-Baptiste Dominique
Avantgarde Brigade Chef-de-Brigade Jérôme-Joseph Goris
Cavalry réserve Chef-de-Brigade
François Guerin d'Etoquigny 
From Rusca’s Division
5th Polish Division General Jan Henrik Dąbrowski
Extreme left wing extended until the Trebbia on three columns
Avantgarde Brigade Chef-de-Legion Maciej Forestier
Brigade Chef-de-brigade Józef Chłopicki
Brigade Jean-Baptiste (Andrè) Carvin detto Calvin 
In the meantime, Suvorov, having had the news of the Macdonald’s in Emilia, and having examined the papers and maps, together with Chief-of-General Staff, Chasteler, guessed the intentions of the French and decided to concentrate the troops at Alexandria and to run until Piacenza, in aid of Division Ott, in the hope of being able to beat separately the two enemy armies. His orders had already been executed with great alacrity, from June 15, when a mass of 28,428 infantrymen with 6,586 cavalrymen of the Austro-Russian Coalition was concentrated at Alexandria. But there, the bridge over the Bormida was under the direct fire of the citadel guns, still occupied by the enemy (Gardanne), and, in order to cross the river, it was necessary to build a temporary bridge, in a sheltered position, gathering the pontoons from Valenza and transporting them in the rain and mud, under the shield of darkness, in a location which was beyond the range of the enemy’s fire. With much luck, by the afternoon of June 15, the Coalition Army could pass the Bormida in such a way and could camp near Marengo. The following day, General Bellegarde, who had recently come from Switzerland with 14,000 men, was left behind to control Moreau. Suvorov marched towards Tortona and Voghera, with a day of advantage on Moreau, stopping then at Casteggio, in the evening to bivouac. The next morning the Coalition’s vanguard entered Stradella and it put itself in connection with the Ott division, who had its headquarters at Castel S. Giovanni. Suvorov put his headquarters in Stradella and continued his march until Castel San Giovanni.
Chasteler, commander of part of the Austro-Russian vanguard, after his arrival at Stradella, was informed that Victor, supported by the divisions of Rusca and Dąbrowski, had attacked the Austrian line at ponte Tidone, Veratto odi sopra and Agazzino. He became aware that many forces, after a fierce combat, had begun to retreat on Castel S. Giovanni. Thus Chasteler was soon ordered to march with the vanguard, in order to help Ott. It was approximately 11 a.m., just when the French attacked Castel S. Giovanni, sure to find only the General Ott’s division and, therefore, unaware of the Chasteler’s Corps, which was marching, very close.Coalition Reinforcements for the Right Wing, after the Retreat in the Morning
Avantgarde Brigade (of the Main Army) General-major Joseph Döller
Cavalry Group General-major Prince Andrej Ivanovich Gorchakov Into the battle with Prince Suvorov and directed against the left French wing
Reinforcements for the Left Wing after the Retreat (late morning)
General-major Pjotr Ivanovich Prince Bagration (former Avantgarde commander, now escorting Suvorov)
The first reinforcements which tried to stop the French advance were the grenadiers of the Battalion Wouwermann, attached to the Austrian rapid deployment force from the Bellegarde Corps. This battalion was charged, near the Sarmato slope, by the 19th Dragoons of Chef Poitou, who died in the action. In order to avenge their colonel, the French dragoons pursued the grenadiers through the vineyards, killing with their sabres all they could. At this time Victor gave orders to shift the march by the right, pointing directly towards San Giovanni and to attack the town walls. Ott, not at all demoralized, resisted strongly, from 11.30 a.m. till 2 p.m. In the afternoon the battle was fought with high levels of violence. The Austrians, although very inferior in numbers, fought bravely, approximately for three hours from their positions of Castel S. Giovanni, but, around 2 p.m., they became fatigued and, under the threat of an encirclement, began to withdraw, in disorder, towards Stradella. At that time Chasteler arrived with the long waited reinforcements. After a short time Melas also arrived, rallying the troops near Sarmato and reforming the lines. His arrival stopped the fugitives and revived the confused souls. The Austrians rallied and re-entered the battle, now with better support by the troops of Generals Chasteler, Melas, and Bagration. Suvorov, galloping, entered the battle at the head of the cossacks around 3 p.m.. The Russians launched 9 cavalry charges against the French, who did resist. But when Chasteler ordered the Rozenberg reserve to enter the battle, for the French, no more hope of victory remained.
Chasteler, arriving at “pas de course” from Stradella, reinforced the left, while Melas, acting as a simple colonel, directed his troops against Rusca, along with Ott’s reserve. Immediately after them came Bagration, who led a charge on the right, against the Poles. The Cossacks attacked with violence, shouting “Death to the Polish slaves!”. The 17th Demi-brigade, coming out from Agazzino, charged with bayonets the Russians against their flank and pursued them. They stopped their advance engaging an overwhelming force of 4 grenadier battalions with a Cossack regiment. The 17th was forced to withdraw and to cross back the Tidone. To the extreme left, the Poles became disordered and went back, some being taken prisoners.
Melas now directed his troops against the French right wing. Rozenberg forced the center with six battalions (4 Russian and the two of IR Mittrowsky). Victor, fearing an encirclement, recalled his reserve (5 grenadiers companies detached at Ponte Tidone, now led by Gauthrin), They crossed the river and advanced on the right side of the road, until Castel-Bosco. Despite the violent musketry they gave time to the isolated group to gather with the rearguard.
 The Russian Julian calendar had a difference of - 11 days (minus) with regard to the traditional Christian calendar. So, for the Russians, the first day of the battle was June, the 6th.
 Without the IR Fröhlich btn.
 Baron d’Asper, Constant Ghilain Charles van Hoobrouck (written d’Asper but pronounced d’Aspre –also written in the second manner from the Austrians) was born in 1754 at Gand. Son of one of the richest families, studied in a college of British Jesuites at Bruges. In 1770 he had a flag in the regiment De Ligne, where he became Captain. Since the early days of his career he showed a gentle and generous personality, a true Lord of noble manners. During the Belgian revolution he sided for the Austrian Emperor Joseph II, becoming Major by fighting the Jacobins. During those days he was awarded with the Maria-Theresia Cross. With the rank of Lieutenant Colonel he organized a volunteers Corps named Laudon Chasseurs (Jägern or Light infantry). In 1794 he was named Colonel, continuing to fight in the Austrian vanguards on the German fronts. At the end of the 1796 campaign he was hardly wounded at Neusiedl and was saved thanks to the intervention of the personal surgeons of the Archduke Charles, who had sent them by him. After that he was named Generalmajor and continue to command his Chasseurs. In 1799 he was at Magnano, Adda, Modena, at the Trebbia battle and then in the Emilia’s occupation campaign. He ended the year helping the Tuscany’s insurgents, captured Florence, Livorno and other garrisons. In 1800, during the Genoa siege days, he was attacked at La Bocchetta and captured on the Monte Fascio. He was a prisoner until the truce period, which followed the battle of Marengo. He returned on duty in the combats between the Chiese and the Mincio, distinguishing himself at the Ceresara assault, under general Vogelsang. After the Luneville treaty he returned in Belgium, doing several voyages at Paris. The war resume in 1805, when d’Aspre was charged to command general Mack’s vanguard. He attacked the French rearguard at Wertingen but, after an initial advantage, he was encircled and captured by the Savary’s troops. He was emprisoned at Auxerre and released after the peace. He reached Vienna where the Emperor left him to decide a retirement, thus only provisional, with the rank of Fieldmarshal Lieutn. In 1809 he was recalled in service and led 16000 grenadiers at Essling. For this he obtained the rank of Feldzeugmeister with the ownership of a regiment. At Wagram, during the assault of Aderklaa, he was hit by a bullet, which wounded his belly and fractured his arm. In the attempt to mount his horse, he fainted and was carried in a camp hospital into a castle. As was likewise happening for the opposite “brave des braves”, general Jean Lannes, (d’Aspre had this surname, “brave entre les braves”, from the archduke Charles in 1794), his arm was amputated. Like Lannes he did not survive the intervention and died. He was buried at Brünn, near Austerlitz. His age was 54.
 Oberst Johann Nepomuk Apfaltern or Abfaltern was born at Ljubliana (Krain -Slovenia) in 1743 (died on February 3, 1817). Soldier from the age of 15 and Captain at the age of 25, in the Grenzregiment VIII, he fought the Turkish wars. In 1789 he became Major and in 1795 Oberst Lieut. After Loano he distinguished in the assault of Madonna del Monte near Genoa. In 1797 he was promoted Oberst and then commander of the IR 39, with which he fought the 1799 campaign. He was at Magnano, at the capture of Brescia, on the Adda, and at Trebbia. He suffered many wounds during the campaign and his health worsened. In 1800 he retired with the Generalmajor rank in his city, Ljubliana.
 comte Henri-François-Marie Charpentier (1769-1831): Born at Soissons (Aisne), June 23, 1769. In 1792 he enlisted in the 1st battalion of Aisne volunteers and, as Captain, was with the armée du Nord, becoming an aide-de-camp of général Hatry. In 1793 he was named adjudant-général chef de bataillon. In the following years he was named chef de bataillon of the 94th line demi-brigade, fighting in Italy. He was at la Trebbia, Novi. At La Trebbia he was wounded in the belly and had two horses dead under him. In 1800 he participated at the Marengo campaign, after which he was named général de brigade, becomin a “chef d'état-major” under Moncey and Jourdan. In 1804 the Emperor named him général de division and awarded Charpentier with the Membership Cross of the Légion-d'Honneur. He was then in Spain, at Burgos, and, on the following year he led a division of the Naples army (being also chef d’état-major of the Masséna army). In 1809, he took part to the Austrian campaign, distinguishing himself at Wagram, after which he was named count of the Empire. In 1812, he was the Chief of the general Staff of the Eugene Corps in Russia, and, after Smolensk, Napoleon named him Governor of the conquered provinces. After the Beresina retreat he was Chief of Staff under Davout. Leading a division, during the campaign in Saxony, he controlled the right wing of the 11th Corps at Lutzen, capturing Ersdorf, on May 2. In the same month he crossed the Elbe, captured the enemy lines of Fischbach and Bischofswerda. On February 15, 1814, he commanded, at Essonne, a new formed Young Garde division. Fought at Craonne, on March 7, The comte Charpentier ended the campaign of France by defending Paris and, on April 8, he followed the new government but, in 1815, he returned with the Emperor, leading the 12th territorial division of Nantes. This fact caused the royal reprisal. The king ordered his forced retirement and he got Switzerland, on exile. Then he returned in France and was readmitted on duty. Died at Orgny, near Villers-Cotterets, on October 14, 1831.
 Chef-de-brigade Antoine-Louis-Popon Maucune, baron. Born on February 21, 1772 at Brives (Corrèze), was second Lieutenant in the Pioneers on February 1, 1786, first Lieutenant and was reformed in 1789. With the outbreak of the Revolution he enrolled as Grenadier in the 4th Paris Volunteers battalion (1791) ; the authorities gave him bach his rank (First Lieutenant in the 23e régiment d'infanterie) in 1792. He was in campaign in the armée du Nord during the same year, where he was wounded by a shot in the left thig, at the seize of Melun. In 1793 he was transferred to the Armée des Alpes fighting in Piedmont as a Partisan Chief; was wounded again by a bayonet cut in the right arm at Bardenèche in August. In 1794, promoted as Captain, he was in all campaigns of the armée d'Italie, until 1801, obtaining the rank of chef de bataillon from Bonaparte at the Arcole battle (1796). In 1799, during the first Taufers assault, he received two fire wounds (right thig and left shoulder), being promoted as Chef-de-brigade of the 39e demi-brigade de ligne on the battlefield. In August, at Novi, he distinguished himself for bravery and was shot in the right foot. His rank was confirmed by a First Consul Act in 1801 when, after the peace, returned to Paris garrison before being sent to the Montreuil camp. He was there until 1805, member and Officer of the Légion-d'Honneur from 1804, attached to the Corrèze electoral District. With the 2nd division of the VI Corps (Grande Armée) he was in the 1806-1807 campaigns. On March 10, 1807, he was promoted to Général de brigade. After the Tilsit treaty he returned in France becoming baron of the Empire in 1808. From that year until 1813 he was in the Peninsular War and in Portugal. He captured a bridge at Alba de Torres, was wounded at Bussaco, and wounded again at Fuentes de Onoro. On October 18, 1812, the armée de Portugal Avantgarde, under his orders, captured Castilho de Peones, Quintanavides and Santa Olalla. During that month he advanced, fighting, from Monasterio, through Burgos, until Valladolid. Fought at Tamamès and Villa-Muriel and was mentioned by general Souham. Transferred to the armée d'Italie he spent there last Service years retiring before the Bourbons return. After the 100s Days (charged with the command of the Lille Nationa Guards division, but never arrived there) he definitevely retired on October 21, 1818. He died on February 18, 1824.
 Bruno-Albert Duplouy chef of the 92nd demi-brigade of the armée d'Italie, was awarded with an Honour Sabre and a Praise Letter after the battle at Pastrengo: 4 floréal an VII.
 General Jean Baptiste Nicolas Laurent Salme, was born at Grand, on January 20, 1733. Having many brothers and sisters he had to go to work being very young. Worker in 1766, merchant in 1774, finally wood dealer in 1784. Jean Baptiste Salme, in 1791, enlisted in the 1st bataillon des Vosges, where he became second lieutenant, in 1792. He was at the siege of Longwy and was wounded ta Rulzheim. Under Custine, he fought in Germany at Spira, Worms and Mainz. On September 14, 1793, Salme was wounded again at Nothweiler, after which he was named lieutenant colonel of the 15th bataillon des Vosges. On October 28. 1793, he took the command of the 3rd demi brigade, vanguard of the Armée du Rhin. On March 30, 1794, Salme was promoted général de brigade. Pichegru, who was a great friend of him, emplyed Salme in the vanguard of the Armée du Nord, being successively in the divisions Bonnaud and Despeaux. He was at Tourcoing, at Pont de Chin, Hooglède and was severely wounded by a cannonball at Malines.Recovered, he had the command of the 4th division du Nord (September 20) with which he fought in Belgium. In January 1795 he participated in the Holland’s surrender, occupying Utrecht. He after followed Moreau in the Rhine army, fighting at Altenkirchen ; there he entered the friendship of Kleber.
In June 1796 he was again in Belgium, with a cavalry corps, to control some riots. There he had troubles with the civic Commissaries and was dismissed by Directory. Nevertheless he reached general Hoche in the Sambre et Meuse army, who gave him the command of a Dragoons’ brigade at Klein (April 1797), obtaining his total reinstatement. This lasted few time, and Salme was again dismissed after the 18 fructidor’s “golpe”. Finally he was in a definitive reinstatement on November 9, 1798, and assigned at theArmée d’Egypte. After that, having reached Ancona and having not found a ship to embark himself, he served with the Armée de Rome, under Championnet, and then the Armée de Naples, under Macdonald. In April 1799 he had the command of a light infantry brigade forming the vanguard at Castel-San Giovanni (Tidone battle), where he was wounded and then at the bloody battle of the Trebbia, after which he was made prisoner at Piacenza (June 20). He was emprisoned in Austria, returning after the Luneville treaty, on March 1801. Being without commands he reached Moreau, who was in troubles with Bonaparte. Salme followed his fate and was assigned to the Santo Domingo expedition. Embarked in Toulon, he arrived to the Antilles, on February 5, 1802, leading a brigade of the 13th division Hardy. After his good behaviour there, general Leclerc, close to Napoleon, named him général de division à titre provisoire on May 15, 1802. He returned in France, ill, and went again into disgrace, probably because of not lawful businesses. On October 16, 1802, he was without commands , but with a pension of 5000 Francs per year. Finally, on August 26, 1803, Salme was forced to retire, aged 37, with a lesser wage of only 2500 Francs. He reached Drusenheim (lower Rhine), in a family estate. He was recalled on duty in 1809, then again in 1810, when he was sent to Spain (April 16). With the 7th and 16th line regiments he led a brigade fighting at Molino del Rey, col d’Ordal and Villafranca. In May 1811, Salme marched with Suchet’s army towards Tarragona, where, during the night of May 27-28, he was killed by a bullet in the head. At his funeral, Napoleon agreed to award him with the patent of général de division, baron of the Empire and Knight of the Légion d’Honneur.
 Chef-de-Brigade Louis-Joseph Lahure - Born: 29 December 1767. Chef-de-Brigade: 5 July 1795 (1er demi-brigade provisoire de tirailleurs). Chef-de-Brigade: 30 March 1796 (15e demi-brigade d'Infanterie Legere). General-de-Brigade: 21 July 1799. Commander of the Legion d'Honneur: 14 June 1804.. Baron of the Empire: 10 April 1811. Died: 24 October 1854. He was substituted by Chef-de-bataillon Desailly, promoted colonel by Macdonald on June 24.
 Chef de Brigade François Guerin d'Etoquigny Born: April 28, 1762 - Chef de Brigade: February 1, 1795 (13e Regiment de Hussards)- Chef de Brigade: October 14, 1796 (10e Regiment de Chasseurs a Cheval)- Chef de Brigade: January 7, 1797 (25e Regiment de Chasseurs a Cheval) -General de Brigade: June 30, 1799 -Commander of the Legion d’Honneur: June 14, 1804 -Died: April 28, 1831
 After Pastrengo the Chef-de-Brigade was Louis Lepic - (Lepic Louis, future général, chef d'escadron promoted chef de brigade after the battle of Pastrengo, in the place of Rouzon, retired: 4 floréal an VII) - Lepic was born on September 20, 1765. In 1781 he was with the Dragoons of the regiment Lescure and in 1792 he was a brigadier in the Constitutional Guard of the King. In March 1793 he was transferred to the 21st regiment of Chasseurs a cheval as chef-d’escadron With the same rank he was again transferred to the 15th Chasseurs a cheval, with which he was in the armée de l’Ouest, from 1793 till 1796 and then in Italy, from 1796 till 1801. He was promoted Chef-de-Brigade on March 26, 1799 (15th Regiment of Chasseurs a Cheval), a rank which was awarded to him after having received seven sabre wounds at Pastrengo. On March 21, 1805, he was Colonel-major (Guard Grenadiers a Cheval), he became Colonel on April 8, 1813 (2nd Regiment of the Garde d’Honneur), was promoted to General-de-Brigade on February 13, 1807, General-de-Division on February 9, 1813. His awards were: Commander of the Legion d’Honneur on June 26, 1809, Baron of the Empire on May 3, 1809. He died on January 7, 1827. The regimental flag of the 15e Chasseurs had written: Verone 1799, Friedland 1807, and Alba-de-Tormes 1809.
 Chef-de-Brigade Poitou was killed during a charge against the Wouvermanns grenadiers at the Tidone battle. He was replaced by Chef-de-Brigade Pierre Geraud.
 Jean-Baptiste (Andrè) Carvin surnamed Calvin (Feb. 19, 1767 – Jan. 21,1801), dead for the wounds suffered at the Pozzolo battle (December 25, 1800). From 1792 till 1796 he was at the Armée d’Italie. In 1796 he was promoted chef-de-brigade in the 103rd (future 11th – second chef-de-brigade) line demi-brigade (March 15). In 1798 he was with the armée de Naples where he was named provisional général-de-brigade (January 20, 1799), directly by Championnet. The nomination was confirned on February 15, 1799 under the Rome army. In 1800 he was with the armée de Reserve in Italy, was severely wounded at the Mincio (Pozzolo) battle on the Christmas day and soon transferred to the Volta camp hospital, where he died a month after.
Prince Andrej Ivanovich Gorchakov (or Gortchakoff, from a noble Russian family, descended from Michael Vsevolodovich, prince of Chernigov, who, in 1246, was assassinated by the Mongols), (1779-1855) Andrey Ivanovich Gorcahkov had the brilliant begining of his military career: he was a Colonel in the age of 19. He was a nephew of Suvorov, and was sent by Pavel I to Konchanskoe village, where the Field-Marshal lived in exile, when the Emperor called Suvorov to St.Petersburg. In the rank of General-Major Gorchakov took part in the well-known Italian campaign of Suvorov. And there, in the battle at Tidone the General in the age of 20 got his baptism of fire. After he served under the command of Bagration, fought at Novy and distinguished himself in the capture of the Saint-Gotard pass. In the campaign of 1807 General-Lieutenant Gorchakov commanded a Division and then all Russian Forces instead of Bennigsen, who had fallen ill. He distinguished himself at Fridland. In 1812 he served under the command of his friend P.I.Bagration. On September, 5, 1812 he had a very important mission: he had to defend the Shevardino redoubt, the advanced Russian fortification in the Borodino field. All the day the detachment of Gorchakov 11,000 in number repulsed the attack of the enemy forces that were near four times as many (35 - 40 thousands). The battle at Shevardino gave the Russian troops the opportunity to fortify their positions before the main battle and it's became clear Napoleon will direct his main attack on the left flank of the Russian positions. In the Borodino battle Gorchakov was wounded very serioulsy and left the Army till January, 1813.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: May 2008
© Copyright 1995-2012, The Napoleon Series, All Rights Reserved.