Military Subjects: Virtual Battlefields

 

The Campaign in Italy, 1796-97: The First Battle of Castiglione 3 August 1796

Virtual Battlefield Tour

By Bill Peterson

While Masséna was pummeling Ocskay's brigade at Lonato on 3 August, a mere 10 km to the south at Castiglione Augereau confronted the Advance Guard of Würmser's main body advancing northwest from Mantua. The Austrian Advance Guard (2,873 infantry, 810 cavalry, 4 guns) under Liptay was caught beyond range of its supports. Augereau (8,602 infantry, 245 cavalry, 7 guns) sent the 69e Ligne to threaten Liptay's right flank while the bulk of the division engaged the Austrian line frontally. Divisional chief-of-staff Colonel Verdier was given a force of consolidated grenadiers to assault the Castello. The Austrians performed well, conducting an orderly fighting withdrawal in the face of superior numbers, until running into Augereau's carefully-laid trap: In a night-march through Grole, the 51e Ligne had been positioned in ambush on Liptay's line of retreat. The sudden appearance of this force threw the Austrians into severe disorder, many being taken prisoner.

Having disposed of Liptay, Augereau's Division faced to the east and advanced against the Austrian main body deploying in the plain south and southwest of Grole. Bloody clashes throughout the afternoon ended inconclusively, with both armies facing-off not far from the positions in which they would fight the decisive action on 5 August.

 

 

  1. Looking northeast from Augereau's starting position in the direction of the main body's frontal advance against Liptay. The La Rocca tower at Solferino is faintly visible on the ridge in the right background.
  2. Looking north from about the halfway point of the French advance. The dome of the Castiglione cathedral is visible at left.
  3. Castiglione Castello, west wall. Two companies of the Austrian Infantry Regiment 13 Reisky garrisoned the Castello, with two companies of the 3rd Karlstädter Grenzers guarding the approaches.
  4. Castiglione Castello, southeast tower.
  5. Castiglione Castello, south wall.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Panoramic view looking west and southwest from Castiglione Castello.
  2. Looking south from Castiglione Castello, toward the main French attack.
  3. Views to the southwest from the position of Austrian Infantry Regiment 13, now a densely developed residential neighborhood with possibly the loudest dogs in Italy.
  4. Same as #8.
  5. Same as #9.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

  1. Looking southwest from the ambush position of the 51e Ligne astride Liptay's main retreat route, the road winding down from the ridge at the right.
  2. Looking north from Grole along the road taken by the 51e Ligne in its night approach-march to the ambush position.
  3. Panoramic view looking southwest and south from the foot of the radio tower above Grole, showing the battleground of the afternoon of 3 August 1796. Grole village is in right foreground.
  4. Map showing the main positions of the morning fighting at Castiglione on 3 August 1796. Adapted from Castiglione delle Stiviere, Sheet 48 III S.O. of Carta d'Italia Alla Scala di 1:25,000, Istituto Geografico Militare, 1969. Positions, strengths, and battle narrative are from Bernhard Voykowitsch's Castiglione 1796, Helmet Military Publications, Maria Enzerdorf, Austria, 1998. This source is highly recommended. See website at Helmet Publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: May 2001

 

 

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