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Austrian Order-of-Battle at Rivoli: 14-15 January 1797

Austrian Order-of-Battle at Rivoli: 14-15 January 1797

By Stephen Millar

In early 1797, Feldzugmeister Josef, Freiherr Alvinczy von Borberek launched an offensive in northern Italy to relieve the besieged Austrian fortress of Mantua. It was his fourth attempt to link up with the isolated 30,000-man garrison commanded by Feldmarschall Dagobert-Sigismond, Graf Wurmser.

Although Alvinczy’s main army (28,000 men) was split into six columns, one column – under Generalmajor Josef-Philipp, Freiherr Vukassovich – was on the far side of the Adige River and could only provide artillery support. The remaining five columns attacked part of General Napoleon Bonaparte’s Army of Italy on 14 January 1797 near the town of Rivoli.

The outnumbered French troops of General Barthelemy-Catharine Joubert’s division held on until reinforcements under Massena and Rey arrived (bringing Bonaparte’s total to 23,000 men). Subsequent Austrian assaults failed, forcing Alvinczy to retreat in disorder. The Battle of Rivoli – and the French pursuit the next day – cost Alvinczy 2,000 casualties and 12,000 prisoners.

Although reinforced by troops under Feldmarschalleutnant Giovanni, Marchese Provera, Wurmser was forced to surrender Mantua on 2 February 1797.

There is some dispute over Alvinczy’s exact order-of-battle at Rivoli. Most sources agree that five columns were commanded by Generalmajors Lipthay, Ocskay von Ocska, Vukassovich, Koblos and Reuss zu Plauen (with a sixth under Oberst Lusignan); some sources, however, say troops commanded by Feldmarschalleutnant Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich also participated in the battle.

The post-Rivoli careers of the major Austrian officers were varied. Feldzugmeister Alvinczy [1808 Feldmarschall] was later appointed military governor of Hungary; his chief-of-staff – Major [1805 Generalmajor] Franz von Weyrother (1754-1806) – became infamous for planning the disastrous Allied attack at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805. Generalmajor Josef, Freiherr Ocskay von Ocska (1745-1805) was forced to retire during the 1797 Campaign, while Generalmajor [1798 Feldmarschalleutnant] Anton, Freiherr Lipthay (1745-1800) was mortally-wounded on 25 March 1799 at Verona.

Three other column commanders served during the Napoleonic Wars: Generalmajor [1800 Feldmarschalleutnant] Josef-Philipp, Freiherr Vukassovich (1755-1809) was mortally-wounded at the Battle of Wagram in 1809; Oberst [1801 Feldmarschalleutnant, 1809 Feldzugmeister] Franz-Josef, Marquis Lusignan (1753-1832) was badly-wounded on 19 April 1809 and subsequently retired; Generalmajor Heinrich XV, Prinz Reuss zu Plauen was awarded the Military Order of Maria-Theresia and later promoted to the rank of Feldzugmeister.

There is a minor mystery surrounding the sixth column commander, Generalmajor Koblos. On his Internet website, Martin Boycott-Brown, author of The Road to Rivoli: Napoleon’s First Campaign [2001], writes :

“Austrian general who commanded one of the columns at the battle of Rivoli (14-15 January 1797). He is another of those about whom the author has not yet managed to discover anything. He is not listed in Wurzbach, C., von. Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich, 1856-91, unless he is hidden somewhere in the appendices. The name is definitely Hungarian. The family was from Transylvania. It is now extinct.”

Further, Koblos’ name is not found on the awards list of the Military Order of Maria-Theresa nor was he appointed to fill the position of a regimental colonel-in-chief in the infantry.

1 October 2005: Enrico Ascerbi in Italy has provided some biographical information about this officer. Generalmajor Samuel Koblos was a Hungarian grenadier officer who was colonel of the Warasdiner-Kreutzer Grenz Regiment in 1785. He was subsequently an aide-de-camp to Alvinczy. Koblos lived in Sopron.

Austrian Army

Commander: Alvinczy von Borberek, Feldzugmeister Josef, Freiherr

Chief-of-Staff: Weyrother, Major Franz von

Column 1

Lusignan, Oberst Franz-Josef, Marquis

Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Klebeck’ Nr. 14: 2 battalions

Lusignan, Oberst Franz-Josef, Marquis

Infantry Regiment ‘Graf Mittrowski’ Nr. 40: 1 battalion

Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Lattermann’ Nr. 45: 1 battalion

Gyulai Freikorps: 12 companies

Column 2

Lipthay, Generalmajor Anton, Freiherr

Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Huff-Kanders’ Nr. 8: 1 battalion

Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr de Vins’ Nr. 37: 1 battalion

Infantry Regiment ‘Franz, Freiherr Jellacic’ Nr. 53: 2 battalions

Gyulai Freikorps: 6 companies

Column 3

Koblos, Generalmajor

Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Preiss’ Nr. 24: 2 battalions

Infantry Regiment ‘Graf Erbach-Schonberg’ Nr. 42: 1 battalion

Combined battalion [1]

Combined battalion [2]

Mahoney Jaegers: 6 companies

Column 4

Ocskay von Ocska, Generalmajor Josef, Freiherr

Infantry Regiment ‘Deutschmeister’ Nr. 4: 1 battalions

Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Lattermann’ Nr. 45: 2 battalions

Grenadier Battalion Khevenhuller-Metsch [3]

Uhlan Regiment ‘Meszaros’ [later Nr. 1]: 2 squadrons

Mattyasovszky, Oberst Ezechiel

Hussar Regiment ‘Graf Erdody’ [later Nr. 9]: 4 squadrons

Piacsek, Oberst Carl-Christoph von

Staff Dragoons: 2 squadrons

Column 5

Reuss zu Plauen, Generalmajor Heinrich XV, Prinz

Infantry Regiment ‘Deutschmeister’ Nr. 4: 2 battalions

Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Schroder’ Nr. 26: 1 battalion

Infantry Regiment ‘Furst Furstenberg’ Nr. 36: 1 battalion

Infantry Regiment ‘Graf Callenberg’ Nr. 51: 1 battalion

Composite ‘Wallach’ Grenz Battalion Nr. 2 [4]

Composite ‘Wallach’ Grenz Battalion Nr. 3 [4]

‘Karlstadt’ Grenz Battalion Nr. 5 [5]

‘Karlstadt’ Grenz Battalion Nr. 7 [ 6]

Hussar Regiment ‘Erzherzog Josef-Anton’ [later Nr. 2]: 2 ½ squadrons

Szent-Kereszty, Oberst Andreas, Freiherr

Hussar Regiment ‘Graf Wurmser’ [later Nr. 8]: 3 squadrons

Klenau, Oberst Johann, Graf

Column 6

Vukassovich, Generalmajor Josef-Philipp, Freiherr

Infantry Regiment ‘Graf Nasdady’ Nr. 39: 1 combined battalion

Infantry Regiment ‘Erzherzog Anton-Viktor’ Nr. 52: 1 combined battalion

Combined Karlstadt Grenzer battalion [7]

Combined Karlstadt Grenzer battalion [6]

Hussar Regiment ‘Erzherzog Josef-Anton’ [later Nr. 2]: ½ squadron

Army Artillery

c. 90 guns [mostly 3-pounders]


[1] This battalion was composed of companies from:

Infantry Regiment ‘Michael, Graf Wallis’ Nr. 11
Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Terzi’ Nr. 16
Infantry Regiment ‘Graf Strassoldo’ Nr. 27

[2] This battalion was composed of companies from:

Infantry Regiment ‘Graf Brechainville’ Nr. 25

[3] This battalion was composed of companies from:

Infantry Regiment ‘Granduca di Toscana’ Nr. 23
Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr von Preiss’ Nr. 24
Infantry Regiment ‘Oliver, Graf Wallis’ Nr. 29

[4] These battalions were composed of companies from:

Grenz Regiment Nr. 16
Grenz Regiment Nr. 17

[5] This battalion was composed of companies from:

Grenz Regiment Nr. 2

[6] This battalion was composed of companies from

Grenz Regiment Nr. 1
Grenz Regiment Nr. 2
Grenz Regiment Nr. 3

[7] This battalion was composed of companies from:

Karlstadt Grenz Regiment Nr 1
Karlstadt Grenz Regiment Nr 2
Warasdin Grenz Regiment
Grenz Regiment Nr. 4