The Memorie Zucchi: an Extrapolation of the 1809 Italian Campaign – Part V
Dies Memorabilis: Tarvis,
Significantly eloquent in its original character of historic research, this cultural exposé is a particularly academic examination of a peculiar dissertation theme: the armed forces of the Regno d’Italia, the period: during the 1809 campaign.
Organized military formations granted a stability of political power to the government institutions -- these armed organizations (regular field troops) shielded the forcibly imposed régime and military nomenclature.
Throughout the short-lived period of 1805-1814, the characters for stabilized continuity and interrelated dominance -- Imperial France versus Regno d’Italia -- were notably reflected by the Prince and Viceroy Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, Napoleon’s I step son.
XXIth century history’s elaborate scrutiny and pertinently
oriented studies on the
It seems evident through the author’s critical view and methodically detailed documentary analysis, inductive marks that prove the army units of the Regno Italico fought bravely and were well-trained armed forces serving under the belligerencies of the Empire.
The Italian military experienced fierce encounters throughout many operative fronts – and more importantly the epic of the 1809 in Italy.
It is a principal condition that the “cultural mission” for the present generation, to correspondingly safeguard the heritage of future generations, not to forget the eventful memories of the past, a past that has helped to mould our modern society and its ideas of shared values of peace.
Extrapolated from the 1861 edited version, this fascinating narrative writing by General Carlo Zucchi proves to be one of the most comprehensive and factual accounts of the Regno Italico’s army troops, and, for its acknowledged importance, during the hard-fought 1809 Italian campaign in the western Venetiae against the Empire of the Habsburgs.
The literary text is written with clarity of style and with a dry sense of respectability, depicting the incredibly brutal battle exploits and the behind-the-scenes military responsibilities as well.
Tempered with Zucchi’s sense of honour and narrative practicality, this documentary, which was consigned to oblivion, makes for XXIst century post-modernity scholars a very appealing perspective on the events of the Napoleonic era – pointedly facilitated by the chronologically short range at which the related events have occurred in Northern Italy.
Easily and remarkably considered, it is truly amazing what the soldiers of that era had to deal with, just in recognizable terms of physical hardships.
This first-hand account will serve to seriously whet any historian’s interest to read and to probe deeper with more exhaustively documented study about this period in history.
This finely researched and elaborate narrative will be a congenial and refreshing cultural addition to serious modern historical studies – an essential addition to the special knowledge of anyone who shares the views on this particular subject matter (Italy; campaign of the 1809).
Considered the most recent reference produced on this particular topic, one would assume that it will soon become an indispensable documentary reading material for any discerning researcher as well as to professionals wishing to gain a greater insight into the functioning of the Italian army and the practical applications of strategic method which were to prove winning factors in the course of the conflict.
Beyond the unsparing and scrupulous attention to details, the author’s insightful written analysis proves to be one of the strong points of this analytic text dissertation.
* * * * *
|Ober-Tarvis (Tarvisio superiore) – The Chiesa parrocchiale (Parish church) and the dipendenza canonicale (canonical dependence).|
“Noi proseguimmo a Montecchia; il susseguente giorno, dopo un lungo combattimento, compimmo il passaggio della Piave”.
Trnsl.: “We continued to Montecchia; the following day, after a long combat, we made the passage of the Piave”.
Comment: One linear phrase; apparently at first glance, a simple and terse reading for a sixteen words count.
In this analysis, the use of the first plural person is deceptive.
This practical writing convenience is not referred to one specifically mentioned subject, or to a singular individual person.
To gain a mature view on the literary comprehension, any conventional use and hermeneutic adherence for the interpretation of the pluralis majestatis form is degenerative and has to be unreservedly discarded.
The monosyllabic word “We [..]” sounds imposing, formalistic.
This is an evocative term of reference -- it stands for the Primo
Reggimento di fanteria di linea (First Regiment of infantry
of the line), a prestigious regular unit serving in the army of
the Regno Italico (
Not to be omitted, in the diacritic collective participation of the “We [..]”, is the commanding-officer of the cited combat formation; in effect, recognizable is one quick-witted, resolute and talented officer who braved his way to honour through a brillante reputazione (an appalling reputation; id est, chiara fama) for bravery, commensurate with patriotic zeal for his country: the Colonel Zucchi.
|Tarvisio with the Mangart group|
The military upheavals of the 1809 epic campaign against the mighty forged empire of the Habsburgs set the actual scene, and were expanded in the operative theatre of Northern Italy, western Venetiae area – country district of Verona.
After the calamitous, bloody days of April 29 and 30, 1809, the highly strategic impact in the Vallata del Tramigna (Tramigna Valley), the Primo Reggimento had significantly endured with the battalions of the Guardia Reale (Italian Royal Guard) what was arguably one of the most amazing and resounding facts of arms in the annals of Napoleonic warfare.
Continued sufferance and physical prostrations expended a heavy toll on the attacking infantry units, not to mention, then, the losses in action – whose real estimated evaluation is subjected to serious historic research and investigations after two hundred years from that all-consuming slaughter.
“We continued to Montecchia; […]”, seems an unimaginative and sterile affirmation, however, beyond the discernible literary scope; it acquires a grave moral and in-depth significance.
All the weight of sorrow, and the force of the recently sustained sacrifices in the line of personal command responsibilities are “hidden” behind a composed four-word grammatical syntax.
The silent tears and the lamented loss of so many comrades in arms – the fallen, the prisoners, the missing in combat are not forgotten.
In the advanced and systematized process of research and data acquisition, we did not actually learn where the Italian soldiers were ultimately buried on ground because that particular point was not explained in the narrative.
|Tarvisio – Schlitzaschlucht (Gorge of the Schlitza). A factually amazing photographic rendering. Whatsoever considered in the offensive push of the Franco-Italian army’s divisions, the turbulent waters of the Schlitza stream proved a massive incisive factor in the defensive practicability of a significant part of the Imperial entrenchments line. This formidable natural obstruction was “in specie” a matter of fact when taking into consideration the left “wing” of the Habsburgs’ troop’s deployment on the saliente tarvisiano (strategic salient around Tarvisio). However, under bloody circumstances of conflict emergency, that “all-potential deterrence” and protective barrage were not limited to the advantageous covering of the natural course.|
Surely considered and carefully pondered is that exceptional valour in battle that was buried with an unnamed part of the regiment.
To re-organize the battalions, to re-form the companies’ ranks and the cohesive regimental structure of command were demanding tasks that quickly capitalized the adversarial movement of retreat.
Not even Prince Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, the Franco-Italian army commander, had the conscious knowledge of how the inter-active circumstances and the armed interpositions had really turned on the disputed grounds around Illasi, Cazzano di Tramigna, Castel Cerino, Fittà, Montefoscarino, Montefoscarinetto.
These concurrent military annotations effectually became known to him at a later time when reports were submitted via the General-Staff to his strategic competence.
Thoughtfully reading through Zucchi’s recollections, the clearly stated reference of Montecchia is understood, with the place named Montecchia di Crosara.
Was that the direction and the movement of advance ordered to the regimental force?
Was that really the correct itinerary of the march?
A more compatible validation favourably proves for Monteforte d’Alpone.
This misunderstanding, a flagrant quid pro quo, originated after a long passage of years -- irrefutably lapsus calami.
Reaching this area meant pursuing the withdrawing Imperial troops eastward.
No doubt, the tactical applications were effected along the main country route which led via Montebello to the town of Vicenza.
The chronological reference for the latest tactical advance of the Italian regimental troop has not been pointed out in the memorial passages.
That vigorous movement, intelligibly comprehended as the general
advance of the Franco-Italian army divisions, was carried out after
the fatal date of
|Tarvis. The imposing monumental construction -- in a static formalism -- is dedicated to the preservation of the war memories, and, most importantly, to the Austrian Soldier. Unsurpassed valour, and bravery, occurred during many fiercely disputed military clashes (1797, 1809, 1813) in defence of the liberty’s values and of the Habsburgs’ Empire heritage, which were inherently tied up with the systemic strength of its armed forces. Evoking figurative composition and celebrative memento to the unnamed fallen, the complex dominates the Val Canale (Canale Valley) with a gaze of absorbed piety and watchful composure. Revered is the silence for the soldiers killed in action, and the by passers’ offered prayers record events of sufferance and crude strategic contests. Few explicative words capitalize the intensity of the past historical dramas: Denkmal der Österreichischen Gefallenen in den Napoleonischen Feldzügen im Kanaltal (trnsl.: Monument to the Austrian dead in the Napoleonic campaigns in the Val Canale). The memorial is placed on the top of a little promontory, at the margin of the overhanging rocky faces which delimit the fast-flowing waters of Slizza stream.|
Consequentially, in the early days of the month of May (day 1, 2).
“[…]; il susseguente giorno, dopo un lungo combattimento, compimmo il passaggio della Piave” -- an objective phrase, whose contents have to be carefully documented.
After a close methodical examination of primary sources, it is not
confirmed that the fighting (at the
In the afore-cited quotation, the obnubilation of the memorial text reveals a flagrant inaccuracy, the memoir’s preservation is incorrect; more, it is discrepant, and counterfactual.
The right and proper day for this stoutly-battled military confrontation
Eastern Venetiae – finis Austriae
In the skilfully compiled reminiscences drafted by General Zucchi, the composite cadre of the military operations in the eastern Venetiae territories is passed in silence – which was effectively due to the general complexity in the sphere of active ground operations.
Beyond question, this was assuredly a weighted choice -- dictated from the fact that in the pressing phases of advance, the regimental units of the First infantry had not been ordered to engage in major leading strategies of campaign.
This signifies importance in the field encounters, and with the results of incidence on the tactical proficiencies.
This reflection clears the way to understand that the Memorie do not constitute a study in formal rendering on the 1809 campaign events, but to adhere, in primis, to the substantial narration setting predetermined by the author: an organized study, rather than a campaign history, which divulged and focused by the biographical traits of the “Napoleonic veteran” on his eye-witness experience in the conflict emergency.
The established narrative scheme does not pass through an apologetic or through a pluri-denominational interpretation.
The purpose of the work does not constitute a significant literary expose – of exceptional valour, both as an historical source, and correspondingly as a memorial base.
Within a week’s time, the geographical areas of strategic intervention changed, and the tactical assets were on a vast scale.
From the zones of the Venetia occidentalis, therefore after the victorious outcome attained at the Piave (May 1809), the constitutive frame of the operative interventions and of the offensive manoeuvres was, of calculated necessity, transferred in the Venetia orientalis – in Friuli.
The concomitant war damages undergone by the local populations in the territorial districts had been of grievous proportions, and untold social afflictions are not debatable; it is sufficient to know the coercive administrative practice of the forced impositions by both the belligerent parties.
The war changed for a course, and the movements of the Franco-Italian troops assumed the character of the fiery unstoppable advance, which by logical consequence drew bloody vigour from the victorious encounters reported by the emperor Napoleon I in Austria .
Suddenly, but not in an unexpected measure, the fighting scenario came to assume a strategic priority in the mountain sector of Tarvis.
“A Tarvis gli Austriaci avevano praticati grandi e belli trinceramenti, guerniti di numerosa artiglieria e di buone truppe.
A quella volta fu diretta la brigata Bonfanti composta dal primo reggimento di linea italiano e dal reggimento Dalmata”.
Trnsl.: “At Tarvis the Austrians had practiced great and beautiful entrenched positions, provided by numerous artillery and good troops.
To that place was directed the Bonfanti brigade composed by the first Italian regiment of the line and by the Dalmatian regiment”.
Comment: A couple of phrases; for a thirty-seven (18, 19) terms count.
In this brief passage, the austerity of language seems fairly evident.
It came as a great surprise -- first, the fact that the Habsburgs regular units had assumed a compact defensive deployment on high ground; second, that a number of Feld-Bataillone (field battalions) were formidably entrenched in fortified positions and “presented” an “unavoidable constrictive choice” and order of battle.
The expertise of Colonel Zucchi is another point of remark.
There was confirming evidence that the Austrian positions had been observed “at the distance”; thus gaining more practicable knowledge and information about the opposing defensive line and strategic barrier, which made available exceptional natural points of support and deterrence.
In evaluating the enemy fields of fire (distance and cover), notably those of infantry, and, more redoubtable, those of the artillery pieces, seemed to have been a source of great disquietude and engendered major apprehension to the Franco-Italian commanding-officers.
This tangled impasse notably implied strong collateral preoccupations in case of assault with levelled weapons storming – just because having to defile through two lethally defended sectors could be a costly affair in terms of human losses and morale.
The querelle formidable – no servility, to the French, but honour to the country and to the arms
“Ad un miglio e mezzo circa da Tarvis, ci eravamo fermati a prender riposo.
Essendo stati raggiunti da un battaglione di volteggiatori francesi, il maggiore Grenier che lo comandava, andò a parlar tosto col generale Bonfanti” .
Trnsl.: “At nearly one and half miles from Tarvis, we had stopped ourselves to take rest.
Having been reached by a battalion of French voltigeurs, the major Grenier that commanded it, went to once speak with General Bonfanti”.
Comment: Two phrases; a thirty-six (14, 22) worded syntax.
The first confirmed element in observation unravels the precise “area” indication of the ongoing incidental episode.
An unspecified location (no proper name is stated), however “singularly
defined” on ground – at nearly 2,250 kilometres from the
A compelling stop was necessary to restore the physical endurance and relieve the Italian troop battalions – Primo Reggimento di fanteria di linea in order to continue their advancement.
Objectively, the principled military theories and contextual strategies focuses on the fact that the armed components of General Bonfanti’s infantry brigade had to re-group; and they finally reached their pre-assigned destination.
To accomplish the ordered dispositions, movement and advance to the border of the Carinthian territories was essential, although not of absolute importance in the tactical planning -- it could not be divorced from operating in a sound and in a craftily-evaluated natural environment.
Active operations needed proper systematic reconnaissance and never ending attitudes of prudence.
Reciprocal interactive synergies with the French formations seemed a binding factor for large-scale operations.
The later arrival of one bataillon d’infanterie (infantry battalion), which belonged to the organizational structure of the 60e régiment d’infanterie de ligne (60th French regiment of the line), completed the description and re-disposition of the combat corps.
The unit commander, having attained the rank of major (major), was summoned as soon as circumstances permitted to the mobile Headquarters of the Italian Brigade for a straightforward and “to the point” colloquial meeting. Not surprisingly, this was due to this readily enacted consiglio di guerra (war council).
“Il quale fattomi in appresso chiamare, mi disse: Darete cartuccie ai Volteggiatori.
– Signor generale, risposi, Ella sa che non abbiamo con noi cassoni provvisti di munizione.
– Ma io intendo, riprese il generale, che diate parte delle cartuccie, che i vostri soldati tengono nelle loro giberne.
– Se eseguissi, generale, esclamai con vivacità, un tal ordine, mi disonorerei; il mio reggimento è in faccia del nemico e deve far più conto delle cartuccie che del pane” .
Trnsl.: “Who calling for me to come by him, said to me: You will give cartridges to the Voltigeurs.
– Mr. General, I answered, You know that we do not have with us ammunitions wagons provided with ammunitions.
– But I intend, resumed the General, that you give part of the cartridges, that your soldiers hold in their ammunition-pouches.
– If I executed, General, I exclaimed with vivacity, such an order, I would dishonour myself; my regiment is in face of the enemy and must make more account of the cartridges that of the bread”.
Comment: Four sentences. A complex of (12, 14, 19, 29) seventy-four terms.
It is manifest that the meeting of major Grenier at General’s Bonfanti’s flying Headquarters had occasioned unexpectedly severe views and frustrating waves of concern.
Amid the difficulties, one cardinal complication stood out: heavily prejudging the actual campaign prospects as well as the proficiency of the French infantry battalion.
This operative discrepancy was amply recognized in the constriction of the French fire-power’s deficient capabilities.
It was a sadly remarkable consequence which jeopardized the montée en ligne (advancing into the line) of the French infantry companies against any opposing Imperial field-unit.
How could such a detrimental impasse have been caused?
The mandatory calling of Colonel Zucchi has to be regarded as an integral part of the heretofore cited consultazione di guerra (war council) – which had by now started to seriously consider the multifaceted war’s inconveniences and contingent opinions.
The ammunitions resources and the possible option for replenishment were the convenient practicability to measure the effective operative flexibility of any brigade combat formation.
It is patent that General Bonfanti “tried” to compose and dampen down on the problem derived from Grenier’s battalion’s neglect.
His modus operandi was drastic and autocratically assertive – on his military authority and did not rely on formally discussed solutions of agreed upon compromise.
Seemingly unperturbed under an erratic horizon of harsh phraseology, Zucchi’s obliging reply and confirmed evidence to the lack of ammunition-wagons became the constitutive pillars for the apology of duty.
The formal deference toward his superior brigade commander stood in unchanging brilliant light.
His zeal and commitment to any factual matter of the brigade (actually the First Regiment of the line) revealed his perfect knowledge even of the minimal situation and for any occasioned complicity.
The re-formalized disposition and quickly rendered pronouncement of General Bonfanti – a scrutable sentence, a rigid formalism which admitted no replica of sort – turned the point to a strict passage of intelligibility, and not to the hardly arguable contrivances of transports (this evidence implied their long range supervision, and the dysfunctional route inadequacies; much care had anyhow to be applied to the coordination for the itineraries of mobility – i.e., the distances in kilometres which the transports had to progress by travelling) and of the servizio d’intendenza (intendance service).
That was not in the administrative report, which Colonel Zucchi had cunningly personified, with acute diligence, an order that descended from the hierarchy and was told to a subordinate regimental commander.
It was a peremptory formulation, a neatly given directive to do something specific.
Relying on this emphatic severity, did Bonfanti convincingly expose himself to an inspired conventional wisdom?
The perfunctory and thoughtlessly expressed phlegmatic view of General Bonfanti, which forcibly “invited” by a “generously proposed act of collaboration” to assign part of the Italian soldiers ammunitions to the French, had paradoxical aspects.
In proper sequence: 1. – thus far not knowing the exact fire capabilities of the Italian battalions, this choice would not have understood that it could critically hinder their fire and ultimate exposure in the line of fire, and resolution -- against the Habsburgs Trupp-Bataillone (troop battalions) at any moment.
2. – Giving partial ammunitions replenishment was an inadequate remedy to permit any lasting fight action and either conventional or protracted battle employment of the French battalion; irrefutably, that would have lead to a premature annihilation of the battalion-companies.
3. – To consider giving the cartridges – in unspecified quantity – from the supplies of the Italian battalions would have meant diminishing the resources particularly guarded in the ammunition-pouches -- that would have been the maximum compromising superficiality.
“Il maggiore Grenier prese allora la parola e disse: – Ma io sono incaricato dell’antiguardo, ho bisogno di cartuccie.
– Sta bene, gli risposi, andate a cercarle dove è il gran parco d’artiglieria, là ne troverete, intanto noi faremo le vostre veci.
– A queste mie parole, il Maggiore francese atteggiandosi in un contegno piuttosto impertinente, esclamò che m’avrebbe fatto rapporto.
– Fatene rapporto anche al diavolo o al papa, soggiuns’ io, che io me ne fo… e gli voltai le spalle per tornare al mio reggimento”.
Trnsl.: “Major Grenier took the word then and said: – But I am in charge of the vanguard, I have need of cartridges.
– It is well, I answered him, go to look for them where it is the great park of artillery, there you will find them, meanwhile we take your place of duty
– To these words of mine, the French Major assuming a rather impertinent behavior, exclaimed that he would have made a report against me.
– Make report also to the devil or the Pope, I added, that I [author: an unrefined term of disdain has been left out] of it and turned him the shoulders in order to return to my regiment”.
Comment: Four phrases. And a syntactic structure of (19, 23, 19, 25) eighty-five words.
When major Grenier was given his turn and free commentary word to expand and develop his thinking, he had not yet clearly understood the pernicious implications of his request for cartridges.
He was mentally concentrated – and possessed – from the same compulsive intent.
Does it mean that the French battalion’s commander pride was inflexible (intransigent)?
Does this stolid revulsion acquire its signification, that the major wanted the cartridges without any hesitation or substantial discussion regarding the consequences?
He seemed not at all moved nor cared for any sound objective opinion -- and continued to maintain and to “exhibit resistance” on his point of view.
Had Grenier not listened to and evaluated the Italian regimental commander’s opinionated reply?
Was this unmistakably the confirmative mark of the fierté blessée (wounded pride) or a claiming sottise (foolishmess)?
Or both two psychological limitations?
As if no formal analysis had been treated, the French officer continued to deplore and assumed the position not to acquiesce to the Italian brigade strategic vicissitudes: “– But I am in charge of the vanguard, I have need of cartridges”.
This unacceptable insistence was obstinately irreverent, to the detriment of any solicitous and attentive preoccupation of any Italian commander (one Brigade General, one infantry Colonel), and to any Italian battle unit (Primo Reggimento di fanteria di linea).
Formally reasoned, Colonel Zucchi agreed that Grenier’s vanguard role could not be left inoperative, and offered his regimental force – via General Bonfanti’s approval – for a short substitution period -- giving plenty of time for the French to finally procure the cartridges at the great artillery park.
This camaraderie (comradeship) passed unobserved and almost molested.
To note peculiarly: Zucchi had purposefully offered his command duties and his battalions to the front line, for any contingency, and ready to die, weapons in hand -- the unbridled brutality of war came through very clearly.
Was nothing more precious than the ultimate sacrifice of the life?
Hard-shelled and sophomoric as he was, Grenier mounted with fury (what were his reasons?; had his vacuous pretension and ostensible motive been once more rejected?), and worst of all threatened one superior in rank to be “mentioned” (i.e., hold accountable) in a report (addressed to whom, to the Italian Brigade commander?).
The mannerism and short temper of the French officer was brusque, implying a negative outlook of any factual collaboration and comprehensive view in cooperating with his allies.
After all the attempts to extricate the question there had remained no way out.
The rough terrain caused Colonel Zucchi to decide to leave “the “marshes” of Grenier’s pretentious incompetency”.
In his gentleman’s style, he proffered to the French officer to commute the protest, not omitting the highest recognized human authority.
His eruptive and exhilarating final statement (however stigmatizing and nearing the forthright tones of a reciprocated disrespect) marked the end of two diametrically opposed visions – singularly antithetical, in behaviour, and penetrating intelligence, for the officers’ strategic competences, not to consider, before that dialectical divergence, the valued honour of the arms (id est, the imperative to preserve human lives and not to hazardously throw the soldiers on any bloody slaughter).
It all the same took in-deph on their professionalism and military services.
“Eguale domanda venne fatta al colonnello Moroni comandante dei Dalmati ed ottenne una uguale risposta.
Era pur sempre quella maledetta debolezza d’animo, che avevano alcuni uffiziali superiori italiani di lasciarsi imporre la legge dai Francesi, la causa che aveva spinto il generale Bonfanti a tale richiesta”.
It was always that cursed weakness of the mind, that had some superior Italian officers to have themselves imposing the law by the French, the cause that had pushed General Bonfanti to such a demand”.
Comment: A couple of sentences, for a forty-seven (15, 32) words count.
Unyielding to the obstructed parameters of intelligence and reciprocity comprehension, major Grenier persisted in his exhausting introverted line and personal unidirectional will.
The severely prepossessed traits of his high-handed behaviour verged on uncompromised strategies – and listening to no authority, neither in composite balanced judgement nor in ranked position.
To avoid Grenier’s untidy and protracted lamentations and annoying gaucheness, the French officer was invited to expose his pressing request to a different battle unit serving with the Italian Brigade.
The Colonello Moroni, the perfervid disciplinarian commander of the Dalmatian regiment, stood second to none to straightforward cutting edges.
Their vibrant “dialogic encounter” – whose contents have not been reported – was a memorable instructive page to learn from an officer’s distinguished conduct that the soldiers’ lives are sacred, and could not be intransigently transacted for cartridges while remaining in arms on the operative front line.
It was proved that the French major Grenier received no cartridges at all -- a confirmed reality --, and that his status of officer “learned” a lot from the exposed sostanziazioni colloquiali (colloquial meetings) and “pitched” frontline experiences.
Surely, these expostulated disagreements eloquently testified to the gravity of the afore-cited incidence; long lasting impressions were left to the querulous French officer, for the admonishments he had received to mitigate his pretentious egomaniacal intransigence.
Despite laudable steps, General Bonfanti’s collaborative convergencies remained doubtful, the measured perceptions of a Macchiavelic plan capability, a masterpiece of dissimulation.
Strasse über den Predil (road over the Predil). This polychromatic (b./w.) pictorial shot illustrates, in perspective view (ninety plain degrees), and in the open outlines of the landscape, the mountainous location named Passo del Predil (Pass of the Predil). The environmental richness of the surroundings peaks is overwhelming in natural beauty and densely extended wooded areas. On the extreme left side, the viewer can easily capture more than a glimpse and discern the configuration of the fortified stronghold which barred the position in this strategic salient. In this location a frightful war drama occurred. In the unfinished Predil Pass blockhouse, the unyielding Imperial garrison held off Serras’ divisional force for almost three days. After two days of prolonged bombardment, on May 18, 1809, the fortressed position was savagely overrun. Under the valiant and fiery determined leadership of Ingenieur-Hauptmann (captain; engineer corps) Johann Hermann von Hermannsdorf, 4 officers and 218 Szluiner Grenzern (border troops; of the Szluiner Grenzinfanterie Regiment) were supported by 35 artillerymen and a component of 10 pieces, who put up a spirited and strenuous defence. The indomitable defenders’ combat force was slaughtered to the last man. Furor and despair collided in bloodshed. French casualties admittedly amounted to 450 fallen.
16 May 1809: soldiers against mountains
“Arrivammo verso le ore cinque sotto Tarvis.
Le prime ricognizioni ci fecero manifesto che avremmo molto a fare per ispostare il nemico dai suoi trinceramenti.
Infatti, essendo io stato incaricato di assalirlo col mio reggimento, vi riuscii assai male.
Dopo molte perdite mi vidi forzato a ritirarmi, intanto che altre disposizioni fossero prese per ottenere migliore successo”.
Trnsl.: “We arrived toward
The first recognitions made us manifest that we should have a lot to do to move the enemy from its retrenchments.
As a matter of fact, having myself been charged to assault it with my regiment, I succeeded very badly.
After many losses I was myself forced to retire, meanwhile that others dispositions were taken to obtain better success”.
Comment: Four sentences. And a syntactic structure composed by fifty-seven (7, 18, 14, 18) terms.
To enhance the strategic cadre -- as the orders were appropriately imparted to the Italian brigade units, the forward movement and advance were directed to the mountainous location of Tarvis.
Cautiously evaluating the enemy forces, and their fortified configuration on the ground, proved to be a vital source in gaining pertinent information on the actual standing troops’ organization, artillery pieces, and discerned sectors of mobility.
That actualization proved a long elaborate work, which could not gain much utilitarian advantage from simply taken reconnaissance missions.
Telescopes were the easiest means at hand to observe from a distance, without incurring major risks and unfavourably imperilling human lives.
Because of the strong Imperial battalions as well as the terrain which was conducive to artillery support components, their assumed Linie der Eindämmung (line of containment; positions, fire sectors, troops’ deployment), Zwischenschaltung (interposition), and Widerstand (resistance), could not be overwhelmed without sustaining a strenuous clash of arms.
Worst of all, in the formative analysis of the Franco-Italian officers were feared the entrenchments permitted conventional fire capabilities at sustained rate, and without exposing the Habsburgs soldiers to the convulsive fire-reactions of the up-ground attacking formations.
Undaunted courage and fierce intrepid determination were both essential factors and were to constitute the strategic articulation to attain success against deterring adversarial stationary positions.
When Colonnello Zucchi was tasked to assault the enemy-held emplacements with his regimental battalions, the combat became serious in tactical implications and appalling bloody sacrifices for the Italian arms.
Did this fight action mean that the storm troops managed to overpower the Austrians through the sheer weight of their numbers?
If there was a practical advance, that offensive pushing was at terrific costs.
Although the losses in action were not mentioned, the severity of the contest assumed a purely strategic rupture, and their withdrawal proved irreversibly calamitous.
The causal motivations of the backward movement (id est, a contemplated retreat) are definitely comprehended.
Exposed to the continued whistling of murderous fire shots and to the mowing ricocheting of lead-bullets, consequentially having no adequate protection on the natural ground, the Italian infantry companies became increasingly hesitant and slowed down after the initial attacking pressure.
The élan (dash; fervour) and momentum were effectively lost – to the advantageous and proficient tenacity of the stoutly-disputing Austrian combatants.
Under the circumstances, that was a partial reverse, and the assaulting parties were strongly repulsed.
Instead, what amazingly transpired in the course of battle in this sector of contest, assumed quite a different meaning.
The seemingly victorious outcome of the Imperial arms had a downside.
All their Arretierstellungen (positions of arrest) and sectors of inter-action had been revealed, and correspondingly, the fire capabilities in each assigned position were deducted.
These previously unknown data not only revealed the practicability of the Austrian line, but, in analogous manner, furnished corroborative evidence on the Imperial manpower resources at each distinctive position.
Having acquired relevant pieces of information, the emergency of warfare was conjugated according to a new phase-planning for the armed confrontation.
An intense work, as time drew near to go once more into battle -- and consultation with the Staff of the Italian brigade ensued.
Once more an elaborate cohesive plan of attack was a matter of immediacy to regain the offense.
“Si conobbe necessario di sloggiare il nemico da un bosco, situato a sinistra e nel quale dietro un ammasso di piante tagliate una lunga catena di tiragliatori facevano un fuoco infernale.
L’impresa era assai pericolosa.
Essa fu affidata al colonnello Moroni; ed egli intrepido, intelligente e assai amato dai suoi soldati animosamente si slanciò all’assalto e dopo un lungo ed ostinato combattimento costrinse il nemico ad abbandonare il bosco.
Nello stesso tempo due compagnie del 1.° reggimento di linea italiane condotte dal bravo capitano Lagrange, avevano mosso ad attaccare gli Austriaci sul fianco diritto, mentre io col rimanente del reggimento rinnovai l’assalto di fronte.
La resistenza fu prolungata, pure a notte avanzata noi ci trovammo padroni dei trinceramenti”.
Trnsl.: “It was known necessary to dislodge the enemy from one wood, located on the left and inside of which behind an amass of cut plants a long chain of sharpshooters performed a hellish fire.
The enterprise was very dangerous.
It was tasked to Colonel Moroni; and he intrepid, intelligent and very loved by his soldiers dashed to the assault and after a long and stubborn fighting compelled the enemy to leave the wood.
In the same time two Italian companies of the First regiment of the line led by the brave captain Lagrange, had moved to attack the Austrians on the straight flank, meanwhile I with the remaining of the regiment renewed the assault on the front.
The resistance was prolonged, yet at advanced night we found ourselves owners of the entrenchments”.
Comment: Five phrases. One hundred twenty-one (31, 5, 35, 36, 14) terms.
In the process of strictly evaluating strategic coordinates, and after close examination of fresh fighting, it first appeared that the Austrian line of countenance (in this defensive sector) was supported by visible fortified emplacements; second, by additional “camouflaged” strong points positioned on the left “flank area” of the main defensive asset.
After a meticulous analysis, it emerged with proved validation and distinctive clearness that there were two formidable configurations of interposition and resolution, as well as distinctive fields of fire.
This subtle trick developed from the fact that the main line of Austrian fire was patently within view, and the attention of the attackers was caught by the relevancy of that defensive extension -- a constrictive inevitability, but correspondingly and appalling error.
Unmitigated, the assailants grew nearer to the erste Linie der Verteidigung (first defensive line), when a sudden deluge of lead bullets suddenly erupted from the concealed and supporting second line.
This observation interprets that the fire-power resources of the second line entirely covered and also swept away the sector of the first line of containment.
Here we have a tragic accident of fate.
Any effective manoeuver on ground and attack had now to strenuously contend not merely with a frontal objective, but with further and distinctively defined defensive positions.
Therefore, any subsequent plan to mount an attack had to properly consider and to coordinate two diverse directions of simultaneous impact and pressure.
In striking evidence: the first line could not be overpowered without concurrently assaulting the second one.
It was a confirmatory logic that the phase of assault had to be timed and scheduled to a couple of offensive blows in strict adherence with the field-strategies – and to consider that it would be opposed by a fiery determined defence reaction.
On the left (does it mean to the Kaiserlichen’s defensive left, or to the left of the attacking forces?), the wooded area manned by the Imperial troops conformed to the character of an immovable fortified line.
The tangled green plants had been intentionally detruncated, and revealed on the terrain a sequential configuration of abatises (defensive obstacles and natural barriers, made by laying felled trees on top of each other with branches, sometimes sharpened, pointed toward the enemy).
As the Austrian phase of reaction quickly followed, the sharpshooters, in elongated disposition, started pouring their devastating fire on the oncoming adversarial troops; that consequential necessity fixed the full ranged extension of their defence of sector.
The impetuous storming of Colonel Moroni’s Dalmatian battalion’s companies exhibited the traits of indomitability to duty, to turn, then, into an epic action: a vicious close quarters combat.
The unabated fury of the fighting raged incomparably, to both the contending parties -- in attack, and defensive proficiencies.
It was a page of history that would need serious analytical views.
Equal credit is due to the concomitant assault led by the talented Captain Lagrange on the enemy’s right flank.
Tenaciously supported by two infantry companies (forza di manovra, id est, force of manoeuver), this officer’s mission was to block the contending Austrian force charged with guarding that sector – so that, under such process of circumstances, the Imperial’s left flank under attack could not be hastily reinforced.
To act as massa primaria (primary mass) was the role eminently assigned to Colonel Zucchi – a man who had extensive personal military experience in the field, and once more lead his battalions forward to the central deployment line held by the Imperials.
The tragic convulsions of the event equalled the endurance under arms.
The troops performed acts of sheer intrepidity in action, and engaged in pugnacious fight.
Bringing protracted pressure to the stationary Austrian positions caused untold damages – and loss of men.
The affair was over at a late hour; this strategic conformity has to be searched in the fact of the crude incidental casualties which were sustained by the defenders, not omitting that their actual numbers did not allow many more to maintain a cohesive and tough defence.
The unavoidable choice to move the Imperial troops backwards proved a conditioned logic to assume a new posture in the nearby entrenchments.
The Austrian settled schematische Verteidigung (scheme of defence) was subjected to a factual strategic re-deployment, which implied placing the units according to the new ordered dispositions.
17 May 1809 – overwhelming power: the collapse of the Imperial defence
“Gli Austriaci si ritirarono occupando altre buone posizioni non lontano da quelle, che avevano perdute.
Il generale Fontanelli, arrivato col resto della sua divisione, ordinò ai due battaglioni del 3.° reggimento italiano di portarsi ad occupare un’ altura alquanto in avanti ond’ essere garantiti da assalti imprevisti.
Il comandante, a cui era stata affidata questa operazione, prese una strada assai più lunga di quel che fosse necessario per arrivare al posto che gli era stato indicato.
Ciò svegliò nel comandante nemico il sospetto di un forte attacco di fianco; egli quindi portò parte delle sue truppe in quella direzione.
Intanto che avevano luogo questi movimenti, giunse al nostro campo il Viceré. Tosto fu dato l’ ordine dell’attacco generale”.
Trnsl.: “The Austrians retired occupying other good positions not far away from those, that they had lost.
General Fontanelli, arrived with the remaining of his division, ordered to the two battalions of the 3th Italian regiment to move to occupy one high ground rather forward so to be secured from unexpected assaults.
The commander, to whom had been entrusted this operation, took one road even longer of that that was necessary to reach on the spot which had been indicated to him.
This awoke in the enemy commander the suspicion of a strong attack on flank; he therefore moved part of his troops in that direction.
Meanwhile that had their course these movements, came at our encampment the Viceroy.
At once it was given the order of the general attack”.
Comment: Five sentences.
A semantic complex composed by one hundred nine-teen (15, 32, 29, 23, 20) terms emerges from General Zucchi’s reminiscent narrative passages.
The chronological reference points to
The fighting context is set against the entrenched Imperial positions overlooking Tarvis.
From the day before, the assets of defence in this strategic area had become alarmed after protracted armed actions in different locations in the surroundings area.
An enduring display of persistence (id est, the progressed movement of the Italian troops) and vibrant military impetus were notably recognized in the stubborn combat which had occurred around Flitschl -- the Imperial-held left flank.
After the fall of the fortressed Sperrpunkt (strongpoint; heavily fortified defensive position) at Malborghetto, hope had given way to pragmatic consequences.
In the afternoon, the Franco-Italian divisions were relentlessly advancing towards the Carinthian territories of the Empire of the Habsburgs.
Meanwhile, the Imperial battalions had solidly re-grouped, and cohesively re-organized their positions of arrest at Klein Kreuth.
The resolute Italian General Achille Fontanelli, once arrived with his divisional force, imparted straight dispositions for an immediate attack.
With the benefit of hind sight, this offensive phase essentially focused on a couple of direct moves on ground: the first, trusted to a subordinate commander, envisaged to move some regular infantry formations to envelop the deterring enemy line’s deployment.
However, in the sequence of events, not seeing any formally executed assault to the front, the Austrian commander grew suspicious that the antagonist units were avoiding a frontal clash – so to take by surprise the Imperials unaware, and present armed confrontation on a different ground option and advantageous position of attack.
Was this operative initiative intended as a flank attack, or was the tactical meaning more in-depth?
Was the enemy to be encircled by a turning movement?
The practical effectiveness of this pre-figured move assumed purely a tactical surprise to be carried out at a more favourable time.
The sudden arrival on the front line of the commander-in-chief of the Franco-Italian army forces proved to be such an event.
The presence of Prince Eugène-Rose de Beauharnais, who had galloped among the troops, was a factor of uncontained enthusiasm which stimulated audacity in the troops.
After quickly consulting with his General Officers regarding strategy, Eugène reported on the ongoing circumstances; he assumed the responsibility of giving orders of combat, and all the strategic might of the arms was unleashed on the Imperial fortified sectors.
The echoing signals for the general assault soon resonated throughout the mountainous landscape – of fertile glory.
“I Dalmati alla dritta, il 1.° reggimento di linea italiano al centro, un battaglione di cacciatori alla sinistra si mossero animosamente in avanti accolti da un fuoco ben nutrito di artiglieria e di archibugi.
Non però, benché le prime file si trovassero rovesciate, la nostra marcia si fece più lenta.
Senza rispondere al fuoco del nemico, giungevamo ad impadronirci della posizione, guarnita di dodici cannoni.
Il nemico fu inseguito sino a notte avanzata e finì per essere posto in piena fuga.
Fu dietro questo combattimento, che io ottenni la decorazione della legione d’onore”.
“The Dalmatians at the straight, the 1.st Italian regiment of the line at the center, one battalion of chasseurs at the left moved with animosity forward greeted by a well nourished fire of artillery and muskets.
Not for this reason, though the first files fund themselves mowed down, our march was slowed down.
Without returning the enemy fire, we succeeded in taking possession of the position, protected by twelve guns.
The enemy was pursued until late night and finished to be chased in full flight.
It was behind this combat, that I obtained the decoration of the legion of honour”.
Comment: Four phrases.
A syntactic structure composed by ninety-three (34, 16,15, 16, 12) terms.
Zucchi’s enthralling scrittura di genere (gender writing; id est, military narrative), of the final assault on the unyielding Österreichische Infanteriebataillone (Austrian infantry battalions), is reported in the pre-ordered correspondence and was described in a rather succinct matter, both in detail and formative literary comprehension.
Late, that afternoon (06,30 p.m.).
It was by no means certain that it was an impressive tactical movement: a frontal attack, with compact massed ranks.
Distinctly clear are the regular infantry units (correct terminological reference is: striking force) which were employed -- in this sector of contest.
More on the strategic: in intelligently processing the primary source text reference, the dispositions which were imparted before launching the last forward pushing are clear-cut.
As the enemy’s stationary defence asset was formidable and the covered fields of fire, including regular infantry and artillery components, could not be avoided without incurring murderous reactions, the advancing formations could not falter nor stop after the opening Austrian discharge.
Taking maximum advantage, the assaulting waves neither relented nor hesitated in their progressive advance toward the enemy entrenchments.
No shots were to be equally returned – or to lose élan and martial resoluteness to dare at the enemy sectors of dominance.
The “doctrinal” principle of adapted mobility on ground was to let the troops run as far and as fast as they could.
This tactical expedient inherently relied to profit on the momentum -- caused by the tremendous psychological impact (to the Imperial infantry) which would have derived from the fatality of the collision and of the armed dispute.
By the stirring methodological practicability of the incessant assault, the enemy-held fire positions had to be overrun with maximum haste in action and cool steel execution with levelled weapons.
It is not stated if the assailing infantry lacked adequate full covering-fire of artillery pieces.
The attack front assigned, at the time when the Italian troop progressed to close quarters with the tough-disputing Imperial defenders, an impressive outcome followed.
After the initial breakthrough, bloody, protracted and ferocious confrontations depicted unbroken rivalry.
General Zucchi’s narrative does not contain enough circumstantial information to appropriately describe the scene of this momentous clash, a dreadful carnage (does this scanty textual correspondence and literary functionality derive from the author’s stylistic methodology?); seemingly inexorable cruelty was silenced, to indicate the frenzied fighting and the definitive conquest of the enemy’s artillery pieces, preys of conquest – trophies of death.
Relative to the success of the Italian arms, the late night operations seemed conclusive in a proficient push to the continued withdrawal of the Austrians regular forces and to complete their route in the actual zone of war.
On May 18, the Italian division reached the Gail River.
Having discovered that the bridge had been cut, it readily took order and position of defence.
The 19 the troops marched to Villach, then to Klagenfurt (20 may) and San Veit (22 May).
Once in location, General Fontanelli was surrogated in the executive functions by General Severoli (the Italian high-ranking officer had recovered from his wound); this valiant General was given titled position and role of command at the head of the division of the Guardia reale.
Selected Bibliography and Further Reading
1. French works:
Almanach impérial pour l’année 1809. Présenté à S.M. l’ Empereur et Roi, par Testu. À Paris, Chez Testu, s.d..
Beauharnais, Eugène, (de). Mémoires et Correspondance Politique et Militaire du Prince Eugène. Publiés, annotés, et mise en ordre par A. Du Casse, auteur des Mémoires du Roi Joseph. Tome Cinquième. Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 2 Bis, Rue Vivienne. 1859.
Guillon, Aimé. Histoire de la campagne de Son Altesse Impériale Eugène Napoléon de France, prince de Venise, archichancelier de l’Empire français, général en chef de l’armée d’Italie, contre l’armée autrichienne en 1809. Milan, 1809.
Lafolie, Charles Jean. Mémoires sur la cour du Prince Eugène, et sur le royaume d’Italie pendant la domination de Napoléon Bonaparte. Par un Français attaché a la Cour du Vice-Roi d’Italie. Paris, Audin, 1824.
Macdonald, Jacques Etienne Joseph Alexandre (Maréchal). Souvenirs du Maréchal Macdonald, duc de Tarente. Avec une introduction par M. Camille Rousset. E. Plon, Nourrit et C.ie, Paris, 1892.
Marbot, Jean Baptiste Antoine Marcellin (Général, Baron de). Mémoires du général baron Marbot. Paris, Plon, Nourrit et C.ie, Paris, 1891.
Noël (Colonel). Souvenirs militaires d’ un officier du premier empire (1795-1832). Berger-Levrault, Paris, 1895.
Pelet, (Général). Mémoires sur la guerre de 1809, en Allemagne, avec les opérations particulières des corps d’Italie, de Pologne, de Saxe, de Naples et de Walcheren. Tome Troisième. Paris, Roret, Libraire, Rue Hautefeuille, au coin de celle du Battoir. 1825.
Vaudoncourt, Frédéric François Guillaume (Général, de). Histoire politique et militaire du Prince Eugène Napoléon, vice-roi d’Italie. Tome Premier. Paris: Libraire Universelle de P. Mongie, Boulevart des Italiens, N° 10. 1828.
Vignolle, Martin (Général, de). Essai historique sur la campagne de l’armée d’Italie en 1809. Revue militaire, vol. 16, July 1900.
2. Italian works:
Lombroso, Giacomo. Vite dei primarj generali ed ufficiali italiani che si distinsero nelle guerre napoleoniche dal 1796 al 1815. Opera strettamente connessa coll’antecedente, che trattava dei marescialli, generali ed ammiragli che ebbero parte nelle succitate guerre / di Giacomo Lombroso. Coi tipi Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Milano, 1843.
Memorie del Generale Carlo Zucchi. Pubblicate per cura di Nicomede Bianchi. Casa Editrice Italiana di M. Guidoni. Milano, Torino, 1861.
Zanoli, A.. Sulla milizia cisalpino-italiana. Cenni storico statistici dal 1796 al 1814. Per Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Tipografi-Librai e fonditori di caratteri, Milano, 1845.
1. English works:
Arnold, James R.. Napoleon Conquers
. The 1809 Campaign for Vienna. Praeger Publishers, Westport,
Epstein, Robert M.. Prince Eugene at war: 1809. Empire
Games Press, Arlington,
Montagu, Violette M.. Eugène de Beauharnais: the adopted son of Napoleon. 1913
Oman , Carola. Napoleon’s Viceroy. London: Hogger and Stroughton, 1966.
Petre, Loraine F.. Napoleon
and the Archduke Charles. A history of the Franco-Austrian
campaign in the Valley of the Danube 1809. Greenhill Books, London,
1991. Originally published London:
E.. The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon. Bloomington
–––––––. Napoleon’s Great Adversaries: The Archduke Charles and the Austrian Army 1792-1814. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 1982.
2. French works:
Bournand, François. Le Général Marbot et la vie militaire sous le Premier Empire. Paris, Anc. Maison Douniol, Decombejean, 1897.
Martinien, A.. Tableaux par corps et par batailles des officiers tués et blessés pendant les guerres de l’Empire (1805-1815), Éditions militaires européennes, 50 Rue Richer, Paris, s.d..
3. German works:
Neuhofer, Karl. Malborghet 1809. Der Heldenkampf des Ing. Hauptmann Hensel an den österreichischen Thermopylen im Kanaltal. Österreichischer Milizverlag, Salzburg, 1997.
Scheidawind, Franz Joseph Adolph. Der Krieg Oesterreich’s gegen Frankreich, dessen Alliirte und den Rheinbund im Jahre 1809. Zweiter Band. Huter’sche Buchhandlung, Schaffahausen, 1842.
Veltzé, Alois (k.u.k. Hauptmann). Österreichs Thermopylen 1809. C. W. Stern Verlag, Wien und Leipzig, 1909.
–––––––. Erzherzog Johanns Feldzugserzählung 1809, nach den im gräflich Meranschen Archiv erliegenden. Originalaufzeichnungen. Supplement zu den Mitteilungen des k.u.k. Kriegsarchivs. Wien, 1909.
Zwiedineck-Suedenhorst, Hans, von. Erzherzog Johann von Österreich im Feldzuge von 1809. Mit Benützung der von ihm hinterlassenen Acten und Aufzeichnungen, amtl. u. Privat-Correspondenzen. Graz, 1892.
4. Italian works:
Adami, Vittorio (Colonnello). Un reggimento italiano di Dalmati, 1805-1814. In: “Archeografo Triestino”, III SERIE - VOL. XI (= XXXIX), articolo N. 677. Editrice la Società di Minerva, MCMXXIV-1924, pp. 407-430.
Battistella, Antonio. Tarvisio e la Val Canale. Tipografia G. B. Doretti, Udine, 1924.
Beauharnais, Eugène, de. Il principe Eugenio: memorie del regno d’Italia. Corona e Caimi, Milano, 1870.
Braidotti, Federico. I processi politici in Friuli durante l’invasione austriaca del 1809. Tipografia Domenico Del Bianco, Udine, 1912.
Lemmi, Francesco. Le origini del Risorgimento italiano (1789-1815). U. Hoepli, Milano, 1906.
–––––––. L’età napoleonica. Casa editrice dottor Francesco Vallardi. 1938.
Maturi, Walter. Interpretazione del Risorgimento: lezioni di storia della storiografia. Einaudi Editore, Torino, 1962.
Mutinelli, Fabio. Annali delle province Venete dall’anno 1801 al 1840. Venezia, dalla Tipografia di G. B. Merlo, MDCCXLIII.
Orsini, Felice. Geografia militare della penisola italiana. Cugina Pomba e Comp. Editori, Torino, 1852.
Pesci, Ugo. I Bolognesi nelle guerre nazionali. Opera pubblicata per iniziativa ed a cura della federazione fra le società militari della città e provincia di Bologna. Bologna, Ditta Nicola Zanichelli, 1906.
Elements of reference
Feldmarschalleutnant (eq. Major General) Albert Giulay’s -- von Maros-Nemeth und Nadska -- mobile forces guarding the fortified emplacements at Tarvis counted several thousand troops. The entrenched positions were defended by the following combat infantry: units: Francois Jellachich, 3 battalions; Reisky, 3 battalions; Strasoldo, 2 battalions; Oguliner, 2 battalions; Landwehr of Marbourg, 2 battalions. The cavalry: Ott Hussars, 2 squadrons. A grand total of 12 battalions (10,800 men), and 2 squadrons (250 horses).
Vide: Vaudoncourt, Frédéric François Guillaume (Général, de). Histoire politique et militaire du Prince Eugène Napoléon, vice-roi d’Italie. Tome Premier. Paris: Libraire Universelle de P. Mongie, Boulevart des Italiens, N° 10. 1828, p. 274.
In observation, the Imperial units’ correct names: Franz Jellačić, Strassoldo, Ogulin Grenzer, Marbourg Landwehr.
FML Johann Frimont’s mobile forces counted 13,060 men nearby Villach; FML Ignaz Giulay with 14,880 soldiers (IX Armeekorps) was charged with the defence of Liubljana (Laybach); there is more compatibility to understand that Albert Giulay had a deployment of around 8,340 men at Tarvis.
The legacy of glory
“Fontanelli incontrò massime difficoltà nel suo viaggio, dovendo percorrere un sentiero che i soli pastori avevano osato finora traversare, ed obbligato di fare delle fermate per riunire le sue schiere, giunse la sera del 15 a due miglia dal colle di Soma Dogna; di là inviò distaccamenti che raccolsero i due battaglioni del 22.° leggero. Il 16 prese posizione a Saffritz. Il generale Dessaix, comandante la vanguardia dell’esercito, precedeva la divisione Fontanelli, ma si trovò arrestato nella sua marcia dai trinceramenti che il nemico aveva sugli alti gioghi di Tarvis, per cui dopo alcuni inutili tentativi per girarne la destra, fece prender posizione alle sue squadre alla sinistra di Tarvis; Fontanelli, arrivato poco dopo, spiegò le sue schiere alla destra e si riunì a Bonfanti. Incominciò il fuoco, che si estese su tutta la linea: Bonfanti fece attaccare il ridotto della sinistra e lo prese, ma sopravvenuta la notte furono rimesse all’indomani le ulteriori fazioni” [vide: Zanoli, A.. Sulla milizia cisalpino-italiana. Cenni storico statistici dal 1796 al 1814. Volume II. Per Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Tipografi-Librai e fonditori di caratteri, Milano, 1845, p. 90, l. 12-26].
Trnsl.: “Fontanelli met maximum difficulties in his trip, having to cover a path that only the shephers had dared so far to traverse, and obliged to do some stops to gather his ranks, reached the evening of the 15 at two miles from the hill of Soma Dogna; from there he sent detachments that gathered the two battalions of the 22nd light. The 16 he took position at Saffritz. General Dessaix, commander of the vanguard of the army, preceded the division Fontanelli, but found himself stopped in his march by the entrenchments that the enemy had on the high grounds of Tarvis, therefore after some fruitless attempts to turn the right, make take position to his squads at the left of Tarvis; Fontanelli, arrived little after, deployed his ranks at the right and gathered himself to Bonfanti. The fire began, which was extended to all the line: Bonfanti made attack the redoubt of the left and took it, but turned up the night were put off to the following day the further factions”.
“Il 17 la divisione Fontanelli si dispose all’attacco de’ ridotti; il 1.° e 3.° reggimento d’infanteria sotto la mitraglia di due pezzi si spiegano in faccia al ridotto, che forma la sinistra del nemico: il 2.° d’ infanteria ed i Dalmati più a destra. Il segnale dell’attacco è dato: il 1.° e il 3.° d’infanteria si avanzano a passo di carica; arrivati ad un breve tiro di moschetto dal ridotto, due battaglioni dei due reggimenti si slanciano e lo prendono. L’attacco fu così rapido che non costò che 6 uomini; un battaglione croato fu abbattuto; tutti gli altri, assaliti al rovescio, caddero in poter nostro; il generale nemico, temendo di essere interciso al ponte di Maglern, abbandonò i trinceramenti posti alla sua dritta, ma un corpo francese, avvicinandosi a Weissenbach, le schiere nemiche furono messe in piena rotta e fuggirono sbandate verso Weissenfels; esse ebbero 400 uomini morti e lasciarono 2000 prigionieri, fra cui un colonnello, un tenente colonnello, due maggiori, 56 uffiziali, 12 cannoni, dei quali 6 in batteria, e 40 cassoni” [Ibid, p. 90, l. 27-39; p. 91, l. 1-4].
Trnsl.: “The 17 the division Fontanelli prepared for the attack of the redoubts; the 1st and 3rd regiment of infantry under the burst of two pieces deploy themselves in front of the redoubt, which forms the left of the enemy: the 2nd of infantry and the Dalmatians more on the right. The signal of the attack is given: the 1st and the 3rd of infantry advance at pas de charge; arrived at a brief shot of musket from the redoubt, two battalions of the two regiments hurl themselves and take it. The attack was so rapid that it did not cost than 6 men; one Croat battalion was overthrown; all the others, assaulted on the reverse, fell in our power; the enemy General, fearing to be cut out from the bridge of Maglern, left the entrenchments placed on his straight, but a French corps, nearing to Weissenbach, the enemy ranks were put in full rout and run away mixed-up toward Weissenfels; they had 400 dead men and left 2000 prisoners, among whom one Colonel, one Lieutenant-colonel, two Majors, 56 officers, 12 cannons, of which 6 in battery, and 40 wagons”.
An interesting point -- the Italian writer Pesci quoted in his work that: “ La divisione Fontanelli, della quale facevano parte molti bolognesi, prese a Travis nel 1809, diciotto cannoni al nemico […]” [vide: Capitolo I, Le guerre Napoleoniche (1800-1816), in: Pesci, U.. I bolognesi nelle guerre nazionali. Bologna, Ditta Nicola Zanichelli, 1906, p. 10 ].
Trnsl.: “The division Fontanelli, which was composed by many natives of Bologna, took at Tarvis in 1809, eighteen guns to the enemy […]”.
“La nostra perdita ne’ giorni 16 e 17 fu di 28 morti e pressochè 89 feriti; gli italiani si batterono con tanto ardore, che non pensarono nemmeno a raccogliere i cannoni presi al nemico. Fontanelli era alla testa della divisione: il suo aspetto imponente animava i soldati; egli si coprì di gloria in questa brillante giornata, dirigendo con valore un attacco che aveva sì ben ideato. Bonfanti rese importanti servigi conducendo le colonne all’assalto; Gifflenga vi prese valida parte, e si distinsero particolarmente i colonnelli Zucchi e Moroni, i maggiori Boretti e Oggeri, i capobattaglioni Porro, Ferrù, Barbieri, Ventura, Lonati, Tracol; i capitani San Giorgio, Rebioglio, Fedrigo, Sessa, Saluzzo La Manta; l’aiutante maggiore Testi, i tenenti Le-Blanc, Grandi di Forlì, Gaspari, Colliva e Marsili; i sergenti Brandi e Strucchi; i caporali Taffi, Sardo e Longo” [vide: Zanoli, A.. Sulla milizia cisalpino-italiana. Cenni storico statistici dal 1796 al 1814. Volume II. Per Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Tipografi-Librai e fonditori di caratteri, Milano, 1845, p. 91, l. 4-17].
Trnsl.: “Our loss in the days 16 and 17 was of 28 dead and nearly 89 wounded; the Italians fought with great ardour, that they did not even think to gather the cannons captured to the enemy. Fontanelli was at the head of the division: his imposing aspect enlivened the soldiers; he covered himself of glory in this brilliant day, directing with valour an attack that he had so well ideated. Bonfanti gave important services leading the columns to the assault; Gifflenga took there valid part, and particularly distinguished themselves the Colonels Zucchi and Moroni, the Majors Boretti and Oggeri, the battalion-chiefs Porro, Ferrù, Barbieri, Ventura, Lonati, Tracol; the Captains San Giorgio, Rebioglio, Fedrigo, Sessa, Saluzzo La Manta; the adjudant-major Testi, the Lieutenants Le-Blanc, Grandi of Forlì, Gaspari, Colliva and Marsili; the Sergeants Brandi and Strucchi; the corporals Taffi, Sardo and Longo”.
* * * * *
For the French 60e Régiment d’infanterie de Ligne are recorded: Robin, lieutenant, wounded (May 16, 1809), and Brady, lieutenant, wounded (May 17, 1809) [vide: Régiments d’infanterie de Ligne, 60e Régiment, 16 et 17 mai 1809, prise des redoutes de Tarvis, in: Martinien, A.. Tableaux par corps et par batailles des officiers tués et blessés pendant les guerres de l’Empire (1805-1815), Éditions militaires européennes, 50 Rue Richer, Paris, s.d., p. 257]. Observation: with reference to the losses of the Primo Reggimento di fanteria di linea, are not cited officers killed and wounded at Tarvis [vide: Troupes Italiennes, Régiments de Ligne, 1er Régiment, in: Ibid, p. 695]. The same observation is applied to the Reggimento di fanteria Dalmata [vide: Troupes Italiennes, Régiment Dalmate (Infanterie), in: Ibid, p. 707]. Martinien’s above-cited data are limited; they cannot really help to comprehend the intensity of the fightings.
The fierce costly contest can be correctly inferred from the losses
of the primo battaglione dalmatino (fist Dalmatian battalion;
Dalmatian regiment). On
“Benché il nemico avesse anche il vantaggio della posizione dominante e fosse superiore in forza, dovette, di fronte all’intrepida vigoria dei Dalmati, battere in ritirata. Questi ebbero 86 feriti fra i quali il tenente Ferrero, che comandava i carabinieri, e 27 morti. La brillante operazione ebbe coronamento il mattino successivo con la presa di alcuni fortini che erano ancora rimasti presidiati dal nemico” [cfr.: Adami, Vittorio. Un reggimento italiano di Dalmati, 1805-1814. In: “Archeografo Triestino”, III Serie - Vol. XI (= XXXIX), articolo N. 677. Editrice la Società di Minerva, MCMXXIV-1924].
Trnsl.: “Although the enemy had also the advantage of the dominant position and was superior in strength, it had, in front of the intrepid vigour of the Dalmatians, to beat in retreat. These had 86 wounded including Lieutenant Ferrero, who commanded the carabineers, and 27 deaths. The brilliant operation was crowned the next morning with the capture of several forts that has still remained guarded by the enemy”.
Considered that on May 3, 1809, the primo battaglione dalmata counted a cohesive component of 635 men under the arms, we can validate, on documentary base, the grave incidence of the 17,79% (unit’s effectives out of action) which was suffered in the combats of Tarvis.
Prince Eugène’s battle relation
“Il vicerè, nella sua relazione da Tarvis (17 maggio), così si esprimeva: “Questo giorno terminò con una seconda vittoria. L’inimico occupava al di là di Tarvis, chiave de’ due passaggi dal Friuli in Carinzia, una vantaggiosa posizione fortificata già da gran tempo; egli aveva più di sei reggimenti d’infanteria ed un’artiglieria numerosa. Il vicerè, accortosi che il nemico voleva attaccarlo, lo prevenne. La divisione Fontanelli, situata al fianco sinistro degli Austriaci, si avanzò contro di essi; ciò non pertanto l’artiglieria nemica non la arrestò: essa non vi rispose che battendo la carica, e pose in disordine con tanta prontezza le file de’ nemici, che gli altri corpi, i quali dovevano attaccare nell’istesso momento, non giunsero a tempo che per inseguire il nemico, che era già in piena rotta. I risultati di questa bella azione sono la presa di 12 pezzi d’artiglieria e di 3000 uomini, tra i quali trovavasi un gran numero d’uffiziali. La perdita degli Austriaci in morti e feriti è considerabilissima. La rapidità della divisione Fontanelli, il sanguefreddo ed il valore che ha spiegato in questa giornata, è superiore ad ogni elogio; i generali Fontanelli e Bonfanti si sono distintì; il colonnello Zucchi si è pure segnalato” [vide: Zanoli, A.. Sulla milizia cisalpino-italiana. Cenni storico statistici dal 1796 al 1814. Volume II. Per Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Tipografi-Librai e fonditori di caratteri, Milano, 1845, p. 91, l. 17-37].
Trnsl.: “The viceroy, in his report from Tarvisio (May 17), expressed himself in this way: “This day ended with a second victory. The enemy occupied beyond Tarvis, key of the two passages from Friuli in Carinthia, an advantageous fortified position since great time; it had more than six infantry regiments and a numerous artillery. The viceroy, realizing that the enemy wanted to attack him, prevented him. Fontanelli’s Division, placed on the left side of the Austrians, advanced against them; nevertheless the enemy artillery did not stop it: it did not reply that beating the charge, and it so quickly disarranged the enemy files, that the other bodies, which had to attack in same moment, did not reach in time that to pursue the enemy, who was already in full rout. The results of this beautiful action are the taking of 12 artillery pieces and of 3000 men, among them there were a great number of officers. The loss of the Austrians in deaths and wounded is very high. The speed of Fontanelli’s division, the cold blood and the valour it has displayed in this day, is beyond all praise; the Generals Fontanelli and Bonfanti have distinguished themselves; Colonel Zucchi has also signalled himself”.
“Fu in quest’occasione che il vicerè, circondato dallo stato maggiore generale francese, esclamò, vedendo lo slancio degl’italiani: “Voyez mes Italiens! si je n’avais eu qu’eux à Sacile, je n’y aurais pas essuyé l’humiliation d’une défaite” [Ibid, p. 91, l. 38-39; p. 92, l. 1-2].
Trns.: “It was in this occasion that the Viceroy, surrounded by the French General-Staff, exclaimed, noticing the élan of the Italians: “See my Italians! If I had had only them at Sacile, I would not have suffered the humiliation of a defeat ”.
 His service aux armes (service at the arms) occurred under the autocratic and vastly oppressive régime of Napoléon I. Coignet’s composite literary efforts have to be primarily comprehended and be assessed more significantly in-depth. There are not sufficient words to lament the magisterial misunderstanding which ensued throughout the 1796-1815 history of the European countries. To the French the mystifying illusions and vainglories of the human myth – the Empereur, whose grandeur politique et militaire (political and military greatness) seemed to achieve the pinnacle of inexhaustible martial glories. All the other countries suffered disproportionate inconveniences and long range military campaigns of aggression and countless destructions that were the reverse of intelligibility and democratic sovereignties of the people as well as the unceasing cause of unrest of Napoleon’s fiercely devastating egotistical ambition. The systemic violence to the foreign governments, to the political liberty and to the free commercial relations of Europe was caused by one-man’s monocracy, and by the ably moved “puppet-personalities” and chained servants of the French politics of armed power which avidly drank at the font of the devorant cult idolâtrique de la personnalité (devouring idolatrous cult of the personality). The French armies’ seemingly unstoppable fureur de vaincre (furor to win) attained paradoxical peaks of death and exorbitant loss of human lives.
Just to cite a few pivotal battles and tremendous examples of onslaught:
on 7-8 February 1807, at Eylau, 22,000 killed plus wounded, and 1,000
prisoners of war plus missing, were counted to the victor; to the
defeated: 23,000 killed and wounded, and 3,000 pw. [vide:
Rothenberg, Gunther Erich. The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon. Bloomington,
 The Coignet recollections, properly styled with the distinctive bibliographical reference of Le cahiers du capitaine Coignet (The notebooks of Captain Coignet), first appeared in the town of Auxerre – a couple of volumes, edited chez Perriquet, in the years 1851 (1er tome), and 1853 (2e tome; dedicated to the Vieux de la Vieille). Addressed to the author’s name, in the by now rare first edition appeared resounding words of commendation -- soldat de la 96ème demi-brigade, soldat et sous-officier au 1er régiment des grenadiers à pied de la garde, vaguemestre du Petit et du Grand Quartier impérial, capitaine d’état-major en retraite, premier chevalier de la légion d’honneur. A tough veteran of the armies of the Empire, after the 1815 ruinous military and political collapse of the Napoleonic regime, monsieur Coignet lived at Auxerre. His economies of labour were attentively diversified. In the mornings, he cared Au Lancier polonais (At the Polish lancer), une épicerie (a grocery store), a débit de tabac (tobacconist). He spent the afternoons selling his souvenirs d’épopée (memoirs), and indefagably moving in town from one coffee-house to the next. These jovial partakings adroitly permitted him to open occasional friendly conversations with the potential customers. A clear matter for reflection is that the aged veteran had remained a living example of the past glories of the Empire -- a grognard (grumbler) of the army of Napoléon I.
“Ce n’est pas l’histoire des autres que j’ai écrite, c’est la mienne, avec toute la sincérité d’un soldat qui a fait son devoir et qui écrit sans passion”.
Trnsl.: “It is not the history of the others that I have written, it is mine, with all the sincerity of a soldier who has done his duty and that writes without passion”.
A number of editions were printed. Just to recall a few XIX’s century works: Coignet, Jean-Roch. Les cahiers du capitaine Coignet (1799-1815). Publiés par Lorédan Larchey. D’après le manuscrit original avec gravures et autographe fac-similé. Paris, Hachette, 1883; ––––––––. Les Cahiers du capitaine Coignet, 1776-1850. Publiés d’après le manuscrit original par Lorédan Larchey. Paris, Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1888; –––––––. Les cahiers du capitaine Coignet (1799-1815). Paris, Hachette, 1889; –––––––, Larchey, L. Les Cahiers du Capitaine Coignet (1776-1850). Publiés d’après le manuscrit original. Avec 84 gravures en couleurs et en noir d’après les dessins de Julien Le Blant. Paris, Lie. Hachette et Cie., 1896; –––––––. Les Cahiers, 1776-1850. Publiés d’après le manuscrit original par Lorédan Larchey. Nouvelle édition. Paris, Hachette, 1899.
In the XXth century: Coignet (capitaine). Les cahiers du capitaine Coignet (1776-1850). Publiés d’après le manuscrit original par Lorédan Larchey. Avec 96 gravures en couleurs et en noir d’après les dessins de Julien Blanc. Paris, Hachette, 1900; ––––––––, Larchey, L. Les cahiers du capitaine Coignet (1799-1815). Paris, Librairie Hachette, 1903; ––––––––. Les cahiers du Capitaine Coignet (1776-1850). Paris, Hachette et Cie, 1907; ––––––––. Les cahiers du capitaine Coignet (1799-1815). Paris, Hachette et Cie, 1908; ––––––––. Les Cahiers (1799-1815). Publiés d’après le manuscrit original par L. Larchey. Nouvelle édition revue et corrigée. Paris, Hachette, 1909; ––––––––. Les cahiers du capitaine Coignet (1776-1850). Publiés d’après le manuscrit original. Paris, Hachette, 1911; ––––––––. Souvenirs d’un vieux grognard. Paris, Tallandier (Bibliothèque Historia - Petits Mémoires de la Grande Armée), 1912; ––––––––. Les cahiers du Capitaine Coignet. Nouvelle Bibliothèque d’Education et de Récréation. Paris, Hachette, 1923; ––––––––. Les Cahiers du capitaine Coignet (1799-1815). Publiés d’après le manuscrit original par Lorédan Larchey. Livre Club du Libraire, 1957; ––––––––. Vingt ans de grogne et de gloire avec l’Empereur. Souvenirs de J.-R.. Coignet, soldat de la 96ème demi-brigade, soldat et sous-officier au 1er régiment des grenadiers à pied de la garde. Vaguemestre du petit et du grand quartier impérial. Capitaine d’ état-major en retraite. Premier chevalier de la légion d’honneur. Paris, Saint-Clair, 1965; ––––––––. Les Cahiers du capitaine Coignet (1799-1815). Publiés d’après le manuscript original par Lorédan Larchey. Paris, Éditions de la Renaissance, 1967; ––––––––. Souvenirs Du Premier Chevalier De La Légion d’Honneur – Vingt Ans De Grogne et De Gloire Avec l’Empereur. Collection “aux vieux de la veille”. Paris, Éditions De Saint Clair, 1967; ––––––––. Les Cahiers du Capitaine Coignet. Édition conforme au manuscrit original. Etablissement du texte et préface par Jean Mistler de l’Académie Française. Paris, Hachette, 1968; ––––––––. Les Cahiers du capitaine Coignet. Édition conforme au manuscrit original. Etablissement du texte et préface par Jean Mistler. Le Cercle du Nouveau Livre d’Histoire, 1968; ––––––––. Vingt ans de gloire avec l’Empereur. Éditions Walter Beckers, 1969; ––––––––. Les cahiers. Paris, Hachette, 1969; ––––––––. Souvenirs De J.-R. Coignet – Premier Chevalier De La Légion D’honneur. Éditions De Crémille, Genève, 1971; ––––––––. Les carnets du capitaine Coignet. Éditions livre de poche N°. 3364. 1972; ––––––––. Cahiers du capitaine Coignet. Éditions Arléa. Paris, 2001.
constructively mention some XIXth’s century editions:
XXth’s century works:
To cite a few English editions:
is no limitation of doubt -- that this name was retained by a direct
convergence of field strategies and association of ideas and places.
In the Memorie (p. 27, l. 6-8), it is confirmed that, on
 The permutability with the location of Monteforte d’Alpone was, in proper measure, and definitely considered, a more compatible solution with the strategic fluctuations. This line of operations permitted the outmanoeuvring of the Austrian army’s right flank, thus enveloping en potence (potentially) the line of retreat to Montebello, and the main country road to Vicenza. This obvious possibility could be effectively carried out from the hamlet of Fittà.
 Even after fifty years had elapsed since the bloody events of this campaign, the memory of this stubborn contest and protracted field battle-actions were scarcely retained in the place of Napoleonic memories; even less were these suffered pages of Italian heritage marginally recalled and preserved in foreign publications.
The succinct linearity of the annotations provided by Pierre-Emmanuel-Albert Baron Du Casse’s work is a notable case -- considering the cultural limit of the historical matter. The sober style precedes the formal narration, and the informative elements connote one restriction, in the order of research, and further clarifying details.
None-the-less, abstracting from any possible consideration, the narrative passages are definitely considered valuable, at least to retain the combat’s memory, rendered with an “informative background”. Also worth mentioning were the difficulties to enhance this cultural topic related to distant military history facts, and, last but not least, the quite unsurpassable limitations forced upon the writer – who had to draw from papers in the possession of the imperial family. This social-standing and literary formalism was effectively a regrettable formality, and the circumstances of the Parisian transition of research did not allow the acquisition of better evidence extracted from the original documentary supports.
Here follows the “présentation narrative” (narrative exposition) and the related matter; the rendered descriptive lines which Prince Eugène Rose de Beauharnais addressed to the ministre de la guerre (war Minister), the Comte d’Hunebourg, from the town of Vicenza (May 3, 1809).
“[…] j’ai ordonné, le 29, une reconnaissance sur toute la ligne, tandis que je faisais marcher, par ma gauche dans les montagnes, une forte colonne composée de 7 bataillons italiens dont 4 du 1er de ligne et 3 de la garde, sous les ordres de mon aide de camp le général Sorbier. Ces troupes ont emporté toutes les positions, ont fait un mal horrible à l’ennemi, et lui ont pris 500 hommes” [vide: Mémoires et correspondance politique et militaire du prince Eugène. Tome Cinquième. Publiés, annotés et mis en ordre par A. Du Casse. Paris, Michel Lévy Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 2 Bis, Rue Vivienne, 1859, LIV. XIII., p. 167, l. 23-30].
Trnsl.: “[…] I have ordered, the 29, a reconnaissance along all the line, meanwhile that I did march, on my left in the mountains, a strong column composed by 7 Italian battalions whom 4 of the 1st of the line and 3 of the guard, under the orders of my aide-de-camp General Sorbier. These troops have stormed all the positions, have inflicted heavily on the enemy, and have taken him 500 men”.
“Le général Sorbier a été grièvement blessé dans cette affaire. Pendant ce temps, j’occupais l’ ennemi sur Villanuova et Soave, où nous avons fait près de 400 prisonniers, et tué ou blessé un nombre considérable d’hommes” [Ibid, LIV. XIII., p. 168, l. 1-5].
Trnsl.: “General Sorbier has been seriously wounded in this affair. During this time, I engaged the enemy on Villanuova and Soave, where we have taken nearly 400 prisoners, and killed or wounded a considerable number of men”.
After reading and thoughtfully considering the afore-cited passages, intriguing interrogatives do pertinently rise to the point of appropriate evaluation. Did the stunning 1809 victories reported in the Northern Italian territories not receive deserved attention and critical appreciation? What was beyond that formalized cultural schematics, was there more than a personal choice of the author***? Did it originate from the main cultural stream which had effectually embellished Napoleon’s narrative as the primary glorious “subject-matter” of the 1809 military campaign against the Imperial forces of the Habsburgs dynasty? In consequence, was that an applied methodological choice, “to dilute” the epic facts of arms which took place in the course of the military operations in the Western Venetiae, or was there more to intelligently ponder? However, after lengthy and cautious examination of the primary documentary materials, there is an increasing attitude of firm scepticism that this observation leads straight ahead to a seemingly remarkable case of interpretation, to signify that the Italian victories had not at all received due credit, because after the passing of many years, their memory had not been preserved through valid documentary efforts -- neither by modern nor by postmodern researchers. A specifically considered point of explication, is the foremost reason that their incidental existence (facts of arms, and coeval memories, plus their analytical disquisition) was largely overlooked as solid research matter for the 1809 Italian military campaign.
***Du Casse was a native of Bourges (November 16, 1813); he died in 1893.
Trnsl.: “The first May, the Archduke operates his withdrawal in three columns, leaving from Monte-Bastia, from Villa-Nova and from Arcole. He established himself in a good position at Montecchio and Brendola; Frimont with the rear-guard, at Le-Assi; Spleny, at Meledo. The troops of Grenier followed his movement and entered into Monte-Forte. The vanguard attacks the Austrians the next morning at Monte-Bello, and pushes them as far as Olmo. The same day, the enemy army crossing the Brenta, gathered at Fontaniva. Frimont, disputing step-by-step the terrain, cut the bridges of Vicence, and reached at S. Pietro-Engu. The viceroy stopped [author: correct meaning: established] his headquarters at Monte-Bello”.
* * * * *
The Prince Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, in the previously cited letter (Vicenza, May 3, 1809) to the war Minister -- the Comte d’Hunebourg --, presented clear elucidations of fact. The latest armed occurrences in the provincia Berica (Berica province) are clearly stated; they assumed the character of an unstoppable advance and conquest of the urban aggregation on the Retrone river. Equally remarkable was the firm determination of the Franco-Italian army divisional troops.
“Hier, 2, l’ennemi a été poursuivi de cette façon l’espace de neuf milles, depuis Montebello jusqu’ aux portes de Vicence; on lui a fait plus de 500 prisonniers, et on lui a tué une cinquantaine d’ hommes. Le soir, nos avant-postes étaient aux portes de Vicence où je viens d’entrer à l’instant (huit heures du matin). Notre avant-garde continue à poursuivre l’ennemi, et ne lui donnera pas de relâche. Toute l’armée le suit en très-bon ordre, et animée du meilleur esprit” [vide: Mémoires et correspondance politique et militaire du prince Eugène. Tome Cinquième. Publiés, annotés et mis en ordre par A. Du Casse. Paris, Michel Lévy Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 2 Bis, Rue Vivienne, 1859, LIV. XIII., p. 168, l. 23-30].
Trnsl.: “Yesterday, 2, the enemy has been pursued in this way the space of nine miles, since Montebello as far as the gates of Vicenza; more than 500 prisoners were taken to him, and about fifty men were killed to him. The night, our outposts were at the gates of Vicenza where I am going to enter at the instant (at ”.
 The Franco-Italian army, under the leadership of the Prince and Viceroy Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, was opposed by the Austrian forces of the Erzherzog Johann von Österreich (Archduke John of Austria; Florence, January 20, 1782 - Graz, May 11, 1859). Cruelly contested actions happened all along the line of fighting. Usually referred to as the Battle of the Piave, the tough engagement took place in many different country locations – Ponte della Priula, Barco, Mandre, Campana, Susignano, San Nichiol, Cimadolmo, San Michele, Tezze. The bloody combat, a salient event of the War of the Fifth Coalition, ineffectually remains in the XXIst century a largely ignored theme of research and cultivated academic studies. Undeniably, in point of fact, a causative motivation has not to be discarded: it originates from the serious inadequacy of academics who spezialize in the compounds of European countries’ history, and yet neglect all important military history and strategic dynamics which so dramatically affected the turbulent recrudescences of the past centuries.
The hasty withdrawal movement carried out by the Habsburgs troops of the Archduke John’s army have to be considered in the regression of the German and Austrian home fronts, and in the constrictive strategic factors which conditioned the Imperial armies. This strategic cadre waged unprofitable operations against the French-led military corps, and unproductive conflict armed efforts to secure a definite victory (id est, a victorious resolution, a formal field success of the arms) against the enemy. If the confrontations on the ground assumed the characters of boldness and determination, the strategies were subjected to fluctuations -- in tactics, quick area transitions, and defensive combinations.
 In the course of historical investigation and direct research carried out on the field, and in acquiring original sources materials and literary evidence, the imposing work of the Italian author Zanoli (Barone Alessandro Zanoli) shines out as an essential documentary compendium. A vigorous literary effort; the coinciseness of the exposed informations is remarkable. Succinct lines present the strategic complexities and the military operations, from the crossing of the Brenta River until General Fontanelli’s division reached on May 6, 1809, at Sant’Artiano, in the surroundings of the town of Treviso [vide: Zanoli, A.. Sulla milizia cisalpino-italiana. Cenni storico statistici dal 1796 al 1814. Volume II. Per Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Tipografi-Librai e fonditori di caratteri, Milano, 1845, p. 88, l. 8-17].
The view related to the Franco-Italian army operations to cross the Piave River’s natural barrage, which passed in the annals of warfare under the uncritical acceptance and much simplified nominal reference of the battaglia del fiume Piave (Battle of the Piave), are a summary outlining that strenuous clash of arms [Ibid, p. 88, l. 23-39, p. 89, l. 1-15 ]. The short lines do not render either cultural nor historical justice to such a relevant theme. This was not however, the fault of the author’s narrative design.
An important survey can be consulted in: Vaudoncourt, Frédéric François Guillaume (Général, de). Histoire politique et militaire du Prince Eugène Napoléon, vice-roi d’Italie. Tome Premier. Paris: Libraire Universelle de P. Mongie, Boulevart des Italiens, N° 10. 1828, pp. 231-244.
General Étienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre Macdonald tactically forced the enemy battalions’ line towards Conegliano; in the confused military transition of the front, the remainder of the army, led by the viceroy, crossed the Piave on 9 May [vide: Zanoli, A.. Sulla milizia cisalpino-italiana. Cenni storico statistici dal 1796 al 1814. Volume II. Per Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Tipografi-Librai e fonditori di caratteri, Milano, 1845, p. 89, l. 16-17]. General Fontanelli’s division’s mobile forces were directed to Oderzo where they engaged against a strong enemy rear-guard. 20 deads and 120 prisoners fell to the unyielding Austrian troop -- the crude results of this severely protracted armed confrontation.
The clash at San Daniele was a day of bitter fighting.
“L’inimico era in posizione a San Daniele (11 maggio); il generale Dessaix, comandante la vanguardia dell’esercito, composta di volteggiatori de’ diversi reggimenti, lo attacca alla testa di un battaglione di volteggiatori italiani sostenuto dallo squadrone de’ dragoni Napoleone, nonché da altri corpi francesi, supera la posizione, rintuzzando i contrari, ed obbligandoli ad una precipitosa ritirata, nella quale perdono 1960 prigioni, e fra essi 34 uffiziali, e lasciano 8oo uomini fra morti e feriti sul campo. Gifflenga coi dragoni Regina, sbloccato Osopo, prende a Gemona (12) 700 prigionieri, tra i quali un colonnello, 11 uffiziali, una bandiera, rovesciando la retroguardia dell’esercito contrario. Fontanelli, venuto a Sacile, passò il Tagliamento, ed andò a Dignano il 12: intanto la guardia era a San Daniele; questi due corpi, il 13, giunsero a Venzone” [Ibid, p. 89, l. 21-34].
Trnsl.: “The enemy was in position at San Daniele (11 May); the General Dessaix, commander of the vanguard of the army, composed by voltigeurs of the different regiments, attacks it at the head of one battalion of Italian voltigeurs sustained by the squadron of the Napoleone Dragoons, as well as by other French corps, goes past the position, driving back the antagonists, and obliging them to a hurried withdrawal, during which they lost 1960 prisoners, and among them 34 officers, and leave 800 men in deads and wounded in the field. Gifflenga with the Regina dragoons, unblocked Osopo, takes at Gemona (12) 700 prisoners, among whom is a Colonel, 11 officers, one standard, reversing the rearguard of the enemy army. Fontanelli, reached at Sacile, crossed the Tagliamento, and went at Dignano the 12: meanwhile the Guard was at San Daniele; these two corps, the 13, reached at Venzone”.
a cursory view, the terminological definition of Memorie seems
an accessible concept -- a sound title. After proper reading of the
textual passages, and complete evaluation of the literary contents,
this printed work can however give access to some composite denominational
interpretations. The correct meaning is extracted from the ancient
Latin etymology (from denomināre, composed by dē-
and nomināre, derivation of nōmen-mĭnis “name”)
-- therefore, how can we better comprehend General Zucchi’s
memorial proficiency? Was that in the significance of a literary
composition left to younger generations? Was that a specific memorial
of the past, referred to General’s Zucchi lifetime military
experiences during the Empire, significantly of his long years
of service in the army of the Regno d’Italia (
“Le vittorie di Napoleone in Germania obbligarono l’arciduca Giovanni a fermare la sua marcia vittoriosa ed a ritirarsi dietro le Alpi Giulie per difendere gli stati ereditari. Cominciò questo movimento sopra tre colonne, il 1.° di Maggio” [vide: Zanoli, A.. Sulla milizia cisalpino-italiana. Cenni storico statistici dal 1796 al 1814. Volume II. Per Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Tipografi-Librai e fonditori di caratteri, Milano, 1845, p. 88, l. 3-6].
Trnsl.: “The victories of Napoleon in Germany obliged the Archduke John to stop his victorious march and to withdraw behind the Julian Alps to defend the hereditary states. Began this movement on three columns, the 1.st of May”.
With cognitive sense of cause, apparently -- under prospective outlines and a barely unprocessed interpretative reflection, Napoleon’s I stunning martial victories “conditioned” Archduke John’s of Austria operative dispositions in the Italian strategic theatre. Under this patent strategic conservation, the “final” documentary evidence of these critical assumptions seems to furnish first-hand incontrovertible data. However, to be more probative, and to competently understand the trans-national military dynamism of the evolving Imperial strategies, a more in-depth investigation has to be taken into effective consideration to gain the “synergistic view” of the campaign in Italy . Napoleon’s successes produced unavoidable elements of constriction in the far-distant territories of Northern Italy -- and the line of tactical withdrawal was forcibly changed by the Archduke’s John corps’ decision to re-deploy, in order to defend the domains of the Habsburg Empire on newly configured assets of importance (this meaning is assumed: to re-describe the theatres of military intervention). This pivotal new strategy favoured defensive options (id est, calculated central strategies of conflict), which were a necessity to stand off the many threats which verged to the Austrian capital on the Danube river: Vienna.
 “La divisione Fontanelli lasciò a Venzone il 7.° d’infanteria a custodia dell’artiglieria, e riunitasi il 14 a Dogna, ebbe ordine di marciare in due colonne sopra Tarvis; la brigata Bonfanti, col 1.° e 2.° d’ infanteria e Dalmati, si diresse alla volta di Maul e Hitschel, mentre Fontanelli, col resto della sua divisione, il 3.° d’infanteria italiana ed il 112.° francese, si avviò per la valle di Dogna sopra Wolfsbach e sboccò a Saffritz. La brigata Bonfanti, giunta il 16 a Raibil, due ore dopo si diresse a Tarvis” [vide: Zanoli, A.. Sulla milizia cisalpino-italiana. Cenni storico statistici dal 1796 al 1814. Volume II. Per Borroni e Scotti successori a V. Ferrario, Tipografi-Librai e fonditori di caratteri, Milano, 1845, p. 90, l. 4-11].
Trnsl.: “The division Fontanelli left at Venzone the 7th of infantry to look after the artillery, and gathered the 14 at Dogna, had order to march in two columns on Tarvis; the Bonfanti brigade, with the 1st and 2nd of infantry and Dalmatians, headed for Maul and Hitschel, while Fontanelli, with the remain of his division, the 3rd of Italian infantry and the French 112th, proceeded through the valley of Dogna on Wolfsbach and debouched at Saffritz. The Bonfanti brigade, reached the 16th at Raibil, two hours after it moved to Tarvis”.
defined observation -- it is relevant to note how the name of the
location has been recorded by the author in German language. The
transcription Tarvis, similarly applies in the Friulan spoken
idiom. The correct Italian name’s reference is Tarvisio.
What is behind this variance for a place name? The causal reason
is readily explained: the hamlet was annexed as part of the Regno
d’ Italia only one year after the victorious outcome of
the First World War (1914-1918). This pleasing mountain community
The historical traditions and background of the local population traced back to the centuries old Celtic ancestry -- the Taurisci, hence derived the name of the modern site. In the Middle Ages (XIth century), the location was an ordered possession of the Chapter of Bamberg -- Dioecesis Bambergensis. Robust commercial activities and interwoven agricultural prosperities were the distinguished mark enacted all along the XIIth century. In 1456, the privilege was assigned by the gracious Bishop of Bamberg to allow a yearly trade fair, the continuity of which is a precious social event up to the present day. Worth mentioning too was the widespread reputation acquired by the iron industrial activities – a mineral wealth center -- in the XVth century. The savage devastations and pillaging carried out by the Turkish hordes (notably: in 1478, and 1492) left indelible memories, of cruelty and brutally inhuman destructions. Transferred under the Habsburgs Empire sphere of dominance (1759), the strategic importance of all this area proved a consolidated factor of deterrence in the battles during the years 1797, 1809, 1813.
For a cultural review of the 1809 war events in the area, and for a briefly related treaty of information, vide: Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo. Storia d’Italia: dal 1789 - al 1814. Tomo quarto. Italia, MDCCCXXIV. Lib. Vigesimoquarto, pp. 305-307; descriptive modern passages, in: Lugani, V. (a cura di). Friuli Venezia Giulia. Edizioni Aristea, Milano, 1968, pp. 126-128; outline for the 1797 strategic context, in: Margaroli, G. B.. Le vicende generali d’Italia antica e moderna. Volume II. Milano, Coi tipi di Felice Rusconi, Contrada di S. Paolo, N°. 1117, 1828, pp. 369-370; for the 1813 military theme: Ségur, de, Philippe-Paul. Storia della guerra del 1813, 1814 e 1815 fra le alte potenze Alleate e Napoleone Bonaparte che forma il seguito alla storia del 1812 del conte di Segur. Tomo III, Anno 1813. Livorno, Tipografia Vignozzi, 1826, Capitolo I, pp. 13-19.
 The one mile distance has been “translated” with 1480 meters, keeping that on the basic reference of the miglio romano (Roman mile; i.e., 1000 passi -- trnsl.: 1000 steps). The road was equivalent to one and half linear miles. On strict calculation, and without approximation, a tolerance of (around 1480 meters plus 740 m. =) 2220 m.., or, 2,220 chilometers.
Military Synopsis: 1771, 11 November: born at Sarrelouis (Moselle) – died on November 6, 1835 at Marpain (Jura); 1791, 1 September: entered the 1er bataillon of volunteers of his department; 15 September: appointed sous-lieutenant in the 96e régiment d’infanterie; 1793, 30 October: lieutenant; 1792-1793: active service with the armée du Nord, and with the armée de la Moselle; year II: with the armée de Sambre-et-Meuse; year II, 20 vendémiaire: attached as aide-de-camp to his brother Paul Grenier; an V, 16 ventôse: capitaine; year VII, 4 floréal: chef de bataillon; an VIII, 15 floréal: left his position and executive role of aide-de-camp; battalion commander with the 37e demi-brigade de ligne; year VIII-X: took part in the wars with the armée du Rhein, and in the corps d’observation de la Gironde; ordered to the expeditionary corps of the Guadeloupe, and wounded at the right left by a fire-shot; year X, 6 germinal: at the taking of Bambège; year XI: came back to France; served for one year period with the armée d’Italie; year XII, 11 brumaire: appointed major in the 60e regiment d’infanterie de ligne; 4 germinal: member of the Légion d’honneur; reached Italy that same year, to remain till 1806; 1807-1808: Dalmatia; 1809: 8 May: signalled at the crossing of the Piave; 17 May: signalled at the combat of Tarvisio; at the head of one column of Seras’ division, he assaulted the fort of Predil; 30 May: appointed colonel of the 52e regiment d’ infanterie de ligne; in Italy, Hungary, and at Wagram; 27 July: appointed officier of the Légion d’ honneur; 15 August: baron de l’Empire.
Further reading: vide: subvoce: Grenier, Jean-Georges, baron, in: Mullié, A. C.. Biographies des célébrités militaries des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850. Tome Second. Paris, Poignavant et Comp.ie, Éditeurs, Rue Neuve-De-L’Université 78, s.d., p. 24.
The perplexing figure of major Grenier embodied the stereotype of the French officer à la campagne, on frontline active duty. The French battalion’s grave problem of the 60e regiment d’ infanterie de ligne was a consequential factor in the scarcity of the available cartridges per each individual soldier. By the present time, this shortage had assumed the form of an irrevocable necessity. The need to shield for that inconvenience was urgently felt as a wearying insecurity amid the combatants. Not dealing at once with this adverse complication would have significantly exposed this infantry unit to further complications – as it “formally” could no longer be equipped for tactical adequacies and profitable coordinates of strategic efficiency and deployment on the ground (first line combat) against the antagonist Habsburgs units. This predicament required an immediate solution, whose practical parry could not be delayed any longer. Mindful of that, the battalion commander had reached the Brigade’s mobile headquarters -- to get instructions -- and to report and to expound the seriousness of the situation – which prompted the employment of the afore cited combat formation. In effect, the shortage of cartridges posed a consistent degree of emergency. But, there was a but. That causal impasse derived from this awkward situation hid the true incongruity, and its urgency: the partial immobility of the battalion in the actual operative circumstances of the military campaign. That was a detrimental impediment to which accrued an additional difficulty, even more serious. Therefore, in this cadre of analysis, the predicaments had to be evaluated according to a double line of understanding. What is clear, in its contextual objective, is that the strategic mobility of the French battalion was substantially compromised – in this phase of advance.
The irregularities of the French battalion’s commander cannot be denied; on the same prospect, there were disharmonies of service (service), notably the spurious conduct of the subordinates in the hierarchical scale (i.e., the company commanders). One discerning military analyst would be intrigued to know the date when these officers last checked the order of the infantry troops, and campaign equipment. The operative malfunctions of the afore-cited battalion-unit were therefore a disadvantageous problem requiring prompt, concrete solutions. What is inferred is that the battalion’s commanding officer had been well informed as to the status of vulnerability of his soldiers, and he was aware of organizational inadequacies. One question: was there no other practical exit out to the battalion’s companies, except to have reached the Italian brigade for a supposed quick replenishment and afresh turn of cartridges? As an old motto recited: à la guerre comme à la guerre (we’ll have to make due with what we’ve got; or: we’ll have to muddle through as best we can).
 To this title, on the actual quartier site, there is not additional clarification. This field-post adapted all the practical functions and urgencies of mobile component, and was dictated by the requirements of the Brigade commander. Of necessity, the officers’ meetings were handily organized on the operative ground. The rapid execution and practicality of corrieri a cavallo (mounted couriers) proved important to readily dispatch orders of movement and manoeuver to the regular units, and, in primis, instructions to their commanders. Under the impeding circumstances, the proficient elements of mobility (which were due to the soldiers’ alacrity) seemed to have been a resource – notwithstanding the natural ground obstructions.
 Soon approaching the borders of Austria, it became manifest that the Imperial units would have strenuously defended that line – to Kärnten (Carinthia) – against any advancing foreign army and threatening divisional forces. What transpired in the military analysis was that restlessness, that quid not to know where this display of the arms would have occurred. The Franco-Italian commanders were apprehensive before the last great battle before the invasion of the Habsburgs territories. The war council considered any possible recrudescence of confrontation at the gates of the Empire. When inconveniences for the troops were cited, the factors of advantage (and the mobility efforts on the mountainous ground) were gradually replaced by contingencies of food supplies and ammunitions re-supply.
 When the actual predicament was examined, not under sheer practical logistics, but on the very questionable military authority (which merely acquiesced to converging attitudes of servility to the French officer), the meeting turned into an increasingly heated argument. The correlated discrepancy belied the inharmonious reflection that a supply problem, and lack of ammunitions, would have been irremediably consequential to the mobility of the Italian Brigade. The reported non-conformity of the standardized individual equipment of the French soldiers would have perilously drawn on the organizational strategic and tactical advance of the Primo Reggimento di fanteria di linea. Worth mentioning are either the causal motivations and the invalidation that ensue: the infantry battalions of the Italian combat formation were operating in a war zone; they could not risk anything limiting their expeditious employment into action against the adversarial Imperial troops -- neither time, nor men, nor ammunitions could be spared. These undeniable prospects would have precluded their offensive potentialities. It came almost as evidence of experienced service -- Colonel Zucchi’s reaction was a vivid and immediate consequence to major Grenier’s raising intricacy and disequilibrium.
 A distinguished style of a subordinate officer and sharply capable regiment commander. A formidable inductive reasoning, and a cunning behaviourism. Not to leave his rough-and-ready Brigade commander in an unpleasant annoying position, Zucchi tried to hold out his “informative arm”, and to extricate the superior General from the French officer’s audacious pretensions. This solidarity among comrades should not be neglected. The exhaustive clarification supplied by Zucchi was a linear statement that covered the two Italian officers from any personal responsibility for the grievous stalemate of the French battalion. In the severity of the military campaign, this strident situation caused an “irreconciliable” discrepancy.
1. – Even furnished with half cartridges from one of Colonel Zucchi’s battalions, this stochastic “solution” helped achieve organization and a field-structure of the battle units. One discriminating military history analyst is prone to understand that this battalion could no longer be actively employed in the front line, and had to be detached to perform minor intervention tasks. 2. – As a consequence, the First Italian infantry regiment of the line would have had the units drastically reduced -- in number, effective ranks, and manpower; it could no more be counted as a regular force, either on paper or for active offensive efforts. 3. – Instead of one disabled French battalion, another battalion would have thus been added to the unreliable fighting components of General Bonfanti’s brigade. A question arises: was this the right way to find an appropriate solution to an already grievous problem? The principle of honourable conduct was reliant upon one’s combat arms; and to partially “disarm” even one battalion would have caused incalculable results. Not considered then, was the vulnerability of the brigade. Had one commanding regimental officer approved his soldiers’ turning over cartridges to the French when the battalions were serving at the front line? Had he to condescend and risk the death and ultimate combat exposure of his infantry troops? Further, how would Colonel Zucchi deploy his units with reduced fire-power against the Austrian? Considered all the afore-cited interrogatives, would the Italian commanding officer be subsequently dishonoured in front of his men, to the detriment of the regimental battle-banner and for the country for which he served? The last exacerbated sentence uttered by Zucchi provides abundant evidence of the impoverished scarcity of food supplies to the line troop-battalions -- was that to purport an additional intrinsic interpretation, a similarly rendered equality to the disfunctionality derived from the shortage of cartridges to the French? And that the Italian soldiers were by that time exposed to tremendous sacrifices as well as to miserable living conditions? Was that ultimate locution implying that a deeper reflection was needed to evaluate the conception and difference between “courage in adversity”, caused by basic food deficiencies and grievances (just to mention one cognitive cause; an affliction to the men, borne in silence), and “to brave adversity in courage” (with reduced cartridges)? Could Zucchi require to the comrades in arms to die in action because there were no cartridges replacement? The Italian commander would have been held responsible for any subsequent onslaught, which was not the conditioned case of psychological devolution and the profitable operative scenario.
 The tones of Colonel Zucchi’s counteraction (it should not be considered a protested defence, that was not the case) apparently developed in a linear essentiality, maintaining a vibrant and straight character, of uncontained ironies, and which piercingly caused sarcasm. Notwithstanding, behind the veil of Zucchi’s crushing effervescence there are more elements of cause and significance to be discovered. Under closer examination, they do permit the capture of several dates of fact. Colonel Zucchi had reacted when his personal honesty (as regiment commanding officer) and collaborative intentions (to the French allied) had been unfriendly questioned by major Grenier – and those subtle inferences were firmly rejected and returned to the “sender’s ownership”. More in-depth comprehension is gained on a more important aspect of Zucchi’s attitudes in private life. The Italian Colonel was a believer in God’s Almighty sovereignty. Otherwise, no other explanation can be offered to explain his mentioning of the dualistic principles of the spiritual warfare (the fallen phalanges of the invisible spiritual world, opposed to the legitimacy of God, and to His Church). More significantly, no one can mention the principles of religiosity if one does not live with the constant listening of one’s own conscience, and in adherence to an inner spiritual life. In evidence, the proven fact remains -- a corroboration, that in his early childhood education at Reggio (in Italy ), Zucchi had been taught the prudential principles of the virtuous catechistic practice. The child’s personality and education were affably cared through the thoughtfulness of his mother and brother: “[…] appena all’età di sette anni perdetti il padre, uomo assai dabbene […]. Dalla sua prima moglie eragli nato un altro figlio, il quale divenuto prete, fu poi una vera benedizione per me e per mia madre […]” [vide: Memorie del Generale Carlo Zucchi. Pubblicate per cura di Nicomede Bianchi. Casa Editrice Italiana di M. Guidoni. Milano, Torino, 1861, p. 1, l. 2-7].
Trnsl.: “[…] just at the age of seven years old, I lost the father, a very respectable man […]. From his first wife it was born to him another son, who became a priest, was then a true blessing for me and for my mother […]”.
Military Synopsis: 1793, 1 March: capitaine quartier-maître in the 18e bataillon d’infanterie légère; 1793-1801: served in Corsica and in the armée d’Italie; 1794, 9 August: capitaine, commander of a company; 15 November: transferred to the 18e demi-brigade; 1797, 20 May: by order of général Bonaparte, capitaine in the 4e légion cispadane; 1798, 4 June: chef de bataillon; commander of the citadelle of Ancona, the fort of San Leo, the place of Forlì and the town of Rimini under Dombrowski; 1799: served in Tuscany under Gaultier; defended the position of Poggibonsi till he received order to evacuate it; preserved the fort of Lentignano near Livorne till the evacuation of the whole Tuscany and protected the withdrawal of the army; 1800: served in Tuscany under Dupont; commander of the place of Prato; distinguished himself under Pino at the taking of Siena; 1801: commandant of the 3e bataillon of the 1ere demi-brigade de ligne cisalpine; 1803, 23 November : then of the 1er bataillon at the division Pino at the armée des Côtes de l’Océan; 1803-1805: served under Soult at the camp of Saint-Omer; 1806-1807: in Germany, under Mortier, division Teulié; 1807, 2 February: major of the 1er régiment de ligne italien; 16 February: distinguished himself pushing back the enemy from Stargardt; 17 February: took Naugart; 20 February: commander of the voltigeurs of the division Teulié at the combat of Neumontholen; 14 March: served at the siege of Colberg; 18 May: chevalier of the Iron Crown; 25 July: division Pino, in the corps of maréchal Brune; at the taking of Stralsund and of the island of Rügen; 1808, February: came back to Italy with his division; 26 June: colonel in the régiment Royal-Dalmate; 1809, 30 March: member of the Légion d’honneur; April: served with Severoli’s division , Isonzo river; at the defence of the fort of Malghera near Venice; 30 April: passed at the division Fontanelli; 17 May: served at Tarvis.
Saint Cloud, with a decree dated
Organizative transition of the arms: Legione Dalmata (May 1806-January 1808) – Reggimento Reale Dalmato (January 1808-August 1814).
Documentary extrapolations from the Italian text decree:
“31 Maggio 1806_
Titolo I. Art. 6.
La metà degli ufficiali sarà tratta dalla nostra armata d’Italia e nel caso d’insufficienza, dalla nostra armata Francese. L’altra metà sarà presa fra i nativi del paese”.
Trnsl.: “31 May 1806_
Title I. Article 6.
The half of the officers will be taken from our army of Italy and in case of insufficiency, from our French army. The other half will be taken among the natives of the country”.
“31 Maggio 1806_
Titolo I. Art. 10.
Il consiglio d’Amministrazione, e i due primi battaglioni saranno formati a Zara. Gli altri due battaglioni saranno formati a Spalato”.
Trnsl.: “31 May 1806_
The Administration council, and the first two battalions will be formed at Zara. The others two battalions will be formed at Spalato”.
“31 Maggio 1806_
Titolo I. Art. 5.
L’uniforme e l’armamento della Legione di Dalmazia corrisponderanno all’Uniforme e all’ armamento della Fanteria leggiera. Il nostro Ministro della Guerra potrà tuttavia far vestire questa Legione nella maniera più conforme alla natura del paese, e coi panni che lo stesso paese somministra”.
Trnsl.: “31 May 1806_
The uniform and the armament of the Legion of Dalmazia will correspond to the Uniform and to the armament of the light Infantry. Our War Minister will be anyaway allowed to have this Legion clothed in the manner more consistent with the nature of the country, and with the cloths that the same country gives”.
The effective text-decree of May 1806, contemplated the prescriptions for the uniforms which the Dalmatians had to wear. The article number seven expressly stated several details; they were thus quoted:
“L’uniforme della legione reale dalmatica sarà: abito corto (habit-veste) di color verde colle rivolte rosse alle falde alla parte d’avanti, bottonato da sopra fino alla cintura con nove grossi bottoni bianchi, foderato di scarlatto; paramani di scarlatto a punta, chiusi con tre bottoni; colletto diritto, pei carabinieri e cacciatori di colore scarlatto, pei volteggiatori di colore giallo canarino. I carabinieri avranno due spallette di lana scarlatte, i volteggiatori le avranno verdi ed i cacciatori avranno gli spallini di panno. La sottoveste sarà di panno bianco con maniche e con piccola patta; i pantaloni di panno verde, stretti da una coreggia all’ungherese e chiusi al di sopra del maleolo con tre bottoni. La calzatura sarà di opanche all’uso del paese. Il cappello sarà rotondo, di forma cilindrica, rilevato da un’asola bianca al lato sinistro; il bonnetto di quartiere sarà di panno rosso alla foggia del paese. I carabinieri porteranno al cappello un pompose rosso, i volteggiatori uno giallo ed i cacciatori uno verde” [cfr.: Erber, Tullio. Storia della Dalmazia dal 1797 al 1814. Vol. I (1797-1808). Tip. Ed. G. Woditzka, Zara, 1889-1892].
When the regiment’s force was organized, the infantry shakot’s plate had the initials “R.R.D.”.
Vide: Addobbati, Simeone. Il Reggimento reale dalmata 1806-1814. Zadar, 1899; Erber, Tullio. Storia della Dalmazia dal 1797 al 1814. Tip. Ed. G. Woditzka, Zara, 1889-1892; Il reggimento reale dalmata nell’Alto Adige (1809-1810), in: Archivio per l’Alto Adige, XVII (1922) Gleno (Alto Adige), Bolzano, Tip. Ed. Atesina, pp. 91-104; Pisani, Paul. La Dalmatie: de 1797 à 1815: episode des conquêtes napoléoniennes / thèse pour le doctorat présentée à la faculté des lettres de Paris par Paul Pisani. Paris: Picard, 1893; Sabalich, Giuseppe. La Dalmazia guerriera. Archivio storico per la Dalmazia. Anno III, Volume 5. Roma, 1928.
 For a proper cognition on this subject, and a solid documentary on this infantry unit’s military occurrences, an ample historical exposé – plus relative historiographical texts – is provided by consulting the previous textual note (nr. 31). However, to add to the cultural matter, vide: Adami, Vittorio. Un reggimento italiano di Dalmati, 1805-1814. In: “Archeografo Triestino”, III Serie - Vol. XI (= XXXIX), articolo N. 677. Editrice la Società di Minerva, MCMXXIV-1924; –––––––. Un reggimento italiano di Dalmati: 1805-1814. Zadar: Tip. E. De Schonfeld, 1925.
 This gives rise to a questionable point, and the argument can be challenged – without the vice of formal criticism. When reading through the assertive narrative text of the Memorie, the literary evidence confirms a true indubitable recognition of fact. No further material is exposed on Colonel Moroni’s stormy meeting with the French officer Grenier. The measure of colloquial truth was intense and rough words instead were “given” and “proved”: Colonel Zucchi was completely aware about the circumstances which had passed upon that particular irritating episode. Was that to imply that there was not another possibility, having known its troubling details by hearing that inconvenience directly from the Dalmatians’ commander, Colonel Moroni ? In observing Zucchi’s honourable traits of style: a distinguished and imperturbable politeness is apparent. The Italian officer does not hint even remotely to the contents of the diatribe with the Dalmatian regiment Staff. Irrefutably, a terse exampled way of camaraderie (comradeship) amid the allies in arms – primarily the French, was noted.
A more sound and judicious predisposition can be comprehended, that, in order to avoid reiterated contrasts and personal discontent, he had been promoted as French regiment commander. His bravery won respect, but his character deserved a practical titled solution. To exit from that intricacy, virtue lay in the middle. In the instance of promoveatur ut amoveatur (a Latin locution; be promoted to remove him), the veteran officer Jean-Georges Grenier was himself given full authority and autonomous command -- in the newly appointed executive position of colonel. That promotion would have notably advanced his military career, and shaped (i.e. matured) his experience (both human and professional) -- especially when treating with his subordinates in the military hierarchy.
 Colonel Zucchi’s attention was drawn to the explicit indulgences (id est, weaknesses for one’s own expediency and suitability) of some Italian officers, and held unequivocally an address of moral disdain. His regret was felt in regards to Brigade General Bonfanti’s restraint, and particularly to major Grenier’s vexatious insistence. Bonfanti’s honeyed attitudes and chameleon versatility proved inappropriate to military service. Apparently, Bonfanti himself had not opposed any sort of formal denial to the request of the caustic French. He had shared linear views with him, had sustained his demand for cartridges, and ultimately had tried to impose his condescension on Grenier’s pressing request – to the detriment of the Italian valour (i.e., human lives). He exhibited a largely acquiescent stance and lax conduct. The interrogation is strong: why was there all that friendly helpfulness in the prima persona of a rank-subordinated allied officer? It is opined that Bonfanti was faithful to the practices of duty, more than to the duty of intelligence; intelligence that, in this case of analytical process, has to be understood through the codified parameters of logistical and organizational facets. Bonfanti’s observance had come to lack (the causes have to be searched in the stubborn aggravations and in the impediments to the mobility which the Italian troops met on the advance movement). With consummate savoir faire, the General had not maintained the necessary consults the regiments’ ranking-commanders placed under his authority – exquisite compliance to the French – to demonstrate the substance of the Italian Staff’s efficiency, and its organizational chain of command. A synchronism that should be effective, yet in reality was not measured by the urgencies of the frontline: perfect responsibilities and default of supplies to the troops. On focus is the chore of the matter: more than to displease major Grenier, Bonfanti looked farther ahead, and longed to gain favourable impressions (did that acquired the signification of gratitude?) with his brother, a Franco-Italian army divisional General: Paul Grenier***. That sensibility seemed like a practical “diplomatic” convenience – a “strategic” conditioning, a cunning behaviourism not to cause pernicious exponential rivalries -- and injure the Greniers’personal reputation. The early XIXth century’s sentiment of military honour was not a light matter. Its practice and dutiful defence were deemed worthwhile. Whatsoever the argument to be analyzed, under the circumstances the antagonizing principles were caught in the deponent logic of General Bonfanti’s military order and servility, and were counter-opposed by the practical efficiency and devotion to the Italian arms (of the undaunted Colonel Zucchi). More than a merely considered contrast, this antithesis was to constitute the congenial formative principles of different men’s behaviours – as well as their positions of military rank. Never-the-less, these officers prominently figured on the different faces of the same “medal”. And that “medal” always had to pay for the honour of the Italian line battalions.
***Paul Grenier was born at Sarrelouis (Sarre) on
Military synopsis: 1784, 21 December: soldat in the régiment de Nassau-infanterie; 1788, 16 October: caporal; 1789, 26 March: sergent; 1790, 1 September: fourrier; 1791, 1 August: sergent-major; 1792, 12 March: adjudant sous-officier; at the armée du Centre; 1792, 26 July: lieutenant; 26 August: adjudant-major; 20 September: served at Valmy; 6 November: at Jemappes; 1792-1793: at the armée du Nord; 1792, 1 December: capitaine; 1793, 6 April: appointed aide de camp of Schauenburg; this nomination had no effect; 8 September: served at Hondschoote; 16 October: at Wattignies; 15 October: adjudant général chef de bataillon; November: at the armée de la Moselle; 15 December: wounded at the tight at Lembach; 1794, 10 January: chef de brigade; 29 April: général de brigade; 10 June: division Championnet; 26 June: served at Fleurus; 28 June: at the armée de Sambre-et-Meuse; 11 October: général de division; charged by the representant Guillet of the embrigadement of the volunteers bataillons; 25 December: commandant of the 10e division of the armée de Sambre-et-Meuse; 1795, 6 May: under the orders of Kléber; 24 August: replaced Morlot at the head of the 2e division; 8 September: served at the crossing of the Rhine at Urdingen; 23 September: under Kléber; 1796, 6 June: crossed the Rhine; invested Ehrenbreistein; 8 July: crossed the Lahn; 10 July: winner at Friedberg; 3 August: at Bamberg; 4 August: served at Sulzbach; 24 August: at Amberg; 3 September: at Wurzbourg; 16 September: at Giessen; 1797, February: commandant of the 2e division and of the center of the armée de Sambre-et-Meuse under Hoche; 18 April: crossed the Rhein at Neuwied; 20 May: took Hedersdorf, then Dierdorf, commandant of the 3e division of the armée de Sambre-et-Meuse; 14 December: commandant of the 2e division of the armée de Mayence; 1798: 12 January: assigned to the armée d’Angleterre; 16 August: commandant of one division of the armée d’Italie; 1799, 26 March: served at Pastrengo; 5 April: at Magnago; 28 April: at Cassano; 12 May: winner of the Russians at Bassignano; 20 June: at San Giuliano; at la Bocchetta and at the siege of Cortona; employed at Grenoble to organize the reinforcements; 30 June: appointed commandant of the 7e and 8e divisions militaries; reached with his troops the armée des Grandes Alpes under Championnet; took the Petit-Saint-Bernard; 22 September: commander of the left wing of the armée d’Italie; served on the Stura River, then at Mondovi; occupied Savigliano; 4 November: was beat there by General Ott; 10 November: re-took the camp of San Salmazzo; 15 November: chased from the fortified camp of Limone; then from the post of the Argentière; defende the hill of Tenda; 1800, 5 June: commandant of the corps du centre at the armée d’Allemagne at the place of Gouvion-Saint-Cyr; 15 June: winner of Kray; 19 June: took Gunzbourg; 17 July: crossed the Rhein; 12 November: commandant of the corps of the left of the armée d’Allemagne; 1 December: served at Ampfing; that same day he was wounded near the village of Mühldorf, and had to retire in front of the Austrians; 3 December: served at Hohenlinden; at the crossings of the Inn and of the Salza; 1801: 24 July: inspecteur général d’infanterie in Piedmont and Ligurie; 1805, 14 December: commandant provisoire of the 3e division militaire; 1806, 4 December: gouverneur of Mantua; 1807, 22 December: grand officier of the Légion d’ honneur; 1809 April: commandant of the 3e division of the armée d’Italie; 16 April: served at Sacile; 28 April: commandant of the corps du centre of the armée d’Italie; 29 April: winner at Soave; 8 May: served at the battle of the Piave; 11 May: at San Daniele; 18 May: at the taking of the fort of Malborghetto.
Further reading: vide: subvoce: Grenier, Paul, comte, in: Mullié, A. C.. Biographies des célébrités militaries des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850. Tome Second. Paris, Poignavant et Comp.ie, Éditeurs, Rue Neuve-De-L’Université 78, s.d., p. 23.
The fiery personal determination and amazing war exploits performed by Colonel Zucchi under the most severe battle conditions, resulted in his becoming an icon of heroism throughout the Franco-Italian army establishment. A stern disciplinarian officer, known for his bold and aggressive leadership. A fulgid example; his meteoritic rise to fame and honour reached its apex when he received the distinction of the Légion d’ honneur.
“Era quello il tempo nel quale in mezzo alle più grandi guerre dell’Europa il distintivo dei prodi veniva dato dal più grande capitano dell’età moderna, temuto da tutti i re, guardato con meraviglia da tutte le nazioni, condottiero di eserciti impareggiabili. Che gloria! che felicità!” [Ibid, p. 29, l. 14-19].
Trnsl.: “That was the time during which in the middle of the greatest wars of Europe, the distinctive of the braves was given by the greatest captain of the modern age, feared by all the kings, looked upon with astonishment by all the nations, leader of unrivalled armies. What glory! What happiness!” [Ibid, p. 29, l. 14-19].
Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2010
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