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The 1799 Campaign in Italy

The 1799 Campaign in Italy: General Suvorov’s Arrival in Italy(April 14, 1799)

By Enrico Acerbi

“Kosaken kommen!”

1799 March, 12th

Suvorov talkes command of the Russian Army at St. Petersburg.

1799 March, 25th

Suvorov reaches Vienna with Rozenberg and Hermann Corps.

1799 April, 4th

Hermann Corps sent to Galicia (Lemberg) through Pest.

1799 April, 14th

Suvorov reaches Verona and Melas. General Nummsen’s Corps now commanded by  General Rimski-Korsakov.

General Aleksandr Suvorov

The Lion Returns [1]

The travel from Vienna was very laborious. On April 8, Suvorov encountered the Rozenberg Russian troops, near Friesach, and unbelievably this eliminated all his fatigue. Applauded with enthusiasm by the soldiers of General Förster‘s avantgarde, Suvorov travelled with them and crossed the Carnia Alps into Italy. From Tarvisio traveled towards Udine where he passed the night. The following morning ordered all to accelerate the march. Knowing the  situation of the country, upset from the riots against the French domination,   he foresaw that “That war would not have been more a war of the Kings, but a war of the people …”. On April 13, the Russians arrived to Vicenza and stayed there for a short time. The next day, with the sun just rising, he ordered all Russian units  to continue the march towards Verona.  In his front was an opened valley,  between Tavernelle and the town of Montebello. Two streams cut the valley. One, the Guà, had flooded out and over the banks during the previous days, and the second, the Chiampo, had done the same further down the valley. In close proximity of that rural area they were able to see one road that, that continued beyond the bridge thrown over the Guà.

The field marshal, wanting to save time, determined to use that road for the moves of the army equipment and gave orders to the soldiers to ford the streams. On the left road, elevated on a hill, was an inn, a grey house whose ground floor was equipped with windows secured by iron bars.  There Suvorov made his quarters. He then rode along the left bank of the Guà, encouraging those who were crossing the torrent. Then he went to the inn in order to pass the night. The next day, around 8 a.m., with already deployed troops, Suvorov was visited by General Johann Gabriel de Chasteler, the Austrian Chief of Staff in Italy . The marshal was very pleased to see him.  He went towards his coach, shook his hand and began talking like having met an old friend. He pointed out that the destiny intentionally put the two armies against the common enemy, as it was already happened during the Russian-Turkish wars and, therefore, he invited Chasteler to lunch with him.

General Johann Chasteler

While talking together, the waiter carried two Italian “polenta” portions with roasted lamb and, as soon as the meal finished, Chasteler put a map on the table, on which were marked the Austrian positions and those of the French troops. The Austrian explained the military situation to the Russian field marshal and communicated that in the army of His Imperial Majesty Franz II were 42,683 combatants, a number inferior to that of all the French forces scattered in Italy; he stated also that another Austrian Corps, that of General Klenau with   4,500 men, was in reserve. After the battles of Verona and Porto Legnago, the French army of Schérer numbered about 28,000 men, without including the two detached republican garrisons in Mantua and Peschiera, a total of 10,000 men. Suvorov, detecting his puzzling and anxious mind, then exclaimed: “I will add 20,000 Russians to 42,000 Austrians, plus the 8,000 men of Vukassovic and I will defeat them!”.

On April 14, towards noon, the Russian troops approached the Verona suburbs. When he arrived at Porta Vescovo, the Russian field marshal’s coach, escorted by eight cossacks, under a sparkling sunlight met a large crowd, which was already waiting for him, behind two rows of Austrian hussars.  General Melas went forward on a horse, and embraced Suvorov, but the marshal, correctly, only shook his hand. From the city door the group proceeded, with some difficulties,  through the enthusiastic crowd, and, through the Via Vescovo, they reached the Adige and crossed it on the Navi Bridge.  The “parade” continued through Via Cappuccini and finally reached the citadel. Here General Melas had deployed, near Verona’s Arena, some units since the early morning, not being sure of the exact time of the arrival. In the ruined inner part of the ancient Roman stadium were exposed the war trophies, won after the last combats. In addiction, on the terrace of Mariani Palace, waved the captured French flags and, all around, military hymns could be heard.

A citizen, caressing the horses of the marshal, screamed: “Viva il nostro Liberatore ! (Alive our liberator!)”. People followed   Suvorov’s coach until Villa Emilio, where the marshal, not loving the luxury, had chosen for himself the more unpretentious locations available. During the afternoon, at 3 p.m.,  he received the higher Austrian Staff, who had come with new orders. In the waiting room the officials were received by Prochor, Suvorov’s attendant. The marshal complimented the Austrian generals for their recent victories and, after their departure, he received the judges and deputies of the city. Later, in the evening, three Cossacks regiments appeared in the city, provoking great curiosity near the people. Their mode of dress and the eccentric armament were the main arguments of conversation. The Cossacks wore wide long pants “à la brachesse” and brown, red and blue long coats, coloured with incredible verve. They carried all kind of weapons and everyone had two horses to utilize; to their comparison the Russian infantry had more humble uniforms. During the night between April  14 and 15, Suvorov worked without sleeping and sent his orders for the forces’ forward movement. He sent an Austrian Corps towards Mantova, in whose citadel was the French garrison of General De Foissac, and sent to Goito another Russian column, the vanguard led by Prince Bagration, with whom the field marshal marched. Having reached Goito he decided to give to General Chasteler the task to distribute his new instructions in order to proceed in the advance and, on April 16, he took care personally of the troops reorganization, explaining to the Austrians the principles of his strategy.

Situation of the Russian Corps in Italy on April 14, 1799

Infantry-General Andrej Grigorjevich Rozenberg Corps 20,247


Rozenberg (Andrej Grigorjevich, 1730 – 1813) – General of Infantry, participated in the  Seven Years War and in the First Turkish War, was also the Smolensk military governor. From December 3, 1796 until November 29, 1797 (when he was promoted to the rank of General of Infantry) he was the Chief (Inhaber –  Entitled to or Owner) of the Vitebsk Musketeers Regiment. From March 12, 1798 to June 8, 1800 he was Chief at the Moscow Grenadier Regiment. In 1799, Tsar  Paul I entrusted Rozenberg with a Corps of 22000 men with the task to move to Italy to support the Austrians. Operating under Suvorov’s guide, he defeated General Serurier, participated in the battles of Trebbia and Novi. From June 8, 1800 to October 11, 1803 he was the Chief of Vladimir Musketeers Regiment. He was also the governor in Kamienetz- Podolski and Cherson.

Infantry Total 16,013 men

Cavalry Total

2.930 cossacks

Corps Artillery


Artillery Battalion Lieutenant General Ejler

632 men

(with 1st Artillery Company  Ivanov and 2nd Artillery Company  Kuzmin)

Divisional (regimental) Light Artillery

672 men





Division Lieutenant General Jacob Ivanovich Povalo-Shvejkovsky 1st

Smolensk Musketeers Regiment. (From December 3, 1796 until September 10, 1800 ?); during the later Swiss campaign he was still in Suvorov’s army.

Brigade Major General Mihail Semionovich Baranovsky 2nd

Major General Baranowsky was the Chief of the Nizovski Musketeers Regiment from January 16, 1799 until probably January 28, 1801. From December 14, 1803 until May 29, 1805 he was the Chief of the Tobolsk Garrison Regiment. He was excluded from duty on May 29, 1805, the date of his death.

Imperial Russian Grenadier Regiment. Gd I Rozenberg or Moskowsky (Moskow) – 2 Battalions


Commander: (until June 10) Colonel Petr Petrovic Passek.

Imperial Russian Musketeers Regiment. GM Baranowsky II or Nizowski Musketeer Regiment. – 2 Battalions


Commander:  Colonel Mihail Aleksejevic Chitrowo

Imperial Russian 7th Jäger   Regiment. GM Bagration – 2 Battalions


Commander:   General Petr Ivanovic Bagration

Imperial Russian Grenadier Battalion  (GB) Lomonosov


5th Don Cossacks Regiment. Denissov


Denissov Tichon Ivanovich (b. 1749) from 1793 to 1797 Lieutenant Colonel, regiment-commander of Ekateriposlaw Cossacks Battalion .


6th Don Cossacks Regiment. Pasdejev (written Posdeev)










Brigade Major General Mihail Andrejevich Miloradovic 1st

Lieutenant General from November 8, 1800, infantry general from September 29,1809. From May 1, 1813 he was Column Brigadier. From July 27, 1798 to September 1, 1814 he was also the Chief of the Apsheronsky Musketeers Regiment

Imperial Russian Musketeers Regiment. Lieutenant General  Förster (Ferster) or Tambowski (Tambov)


Commander: Lieutenant Colonel Zaltser – 2 Battalions

Imperial Russian Musketeers Regiment. GM Mihail Andrejevich Miloradovic or Apsheronsky (Apsheron)


Commander: : Podpulkovnik ( Lieutenant Colonel – from October 3, 1799 pulkovnik or Colonel) Stepan Timofejevich Karlov – 2 Battalions

Imperial Russian Grenadier Battalion  (GB) Dendrjugyn 623 Don Cossacks Regiment. Molchanov 494







Division Lieutenant General Ivan Ivanovich Förster (in Russian Ferster)

Ivan Ivanovich Ferster (Förster, Fershter) Born in 1739. In 1771 was the Second Major in the Karlopolsk Carabiniers Regiment. Later Vyatski. Lieutenant General from January 22,1799. From June 4, 1797 to January 24, 1803 he was the Chief of the Tambov Musketeers Regiment. From that date to June 27, 1807 he was Chief of Arkhangelsk garrison Regiment

Brigade Major General  Jacob Ivanovich Tyrtov

Colonel, promoted to Major General on September 14, 1797 in order to became the Chief of the Tula Musketeers Regiment. and probably also commander of the Moscow Musketeers Regiment. On April 30, 1799, after the Cassano battle, he was promoted Lieutenant-General. He retired on January 9, 1800 and in 1812 he was Chief of the Tver Home Guard.

Imperial Russian Musketeers Regiment. GM Tuyrtov or Tug’lsky (Tula) – 2 Battalions


Commander:   Major Ivan Fjodorovich Golovin

Imperial Russian Musketeers Regiment. GM Baron Ivan Ivanovich Dalheim or Archangelogorodsky (Archangelsk).


Commander:  Colonel Stepan Nikolajevich Castelli– 2 Battalions had as Chief, from June 26th, Major General Nikolay Mihailovic Kamensky 2nd

Imperial Russian 8th JägerRegiment. Major General Chubarov


Chief from May 13: GM Ivan Ivanovich Miller

Imperial Russian Grenadier Battalion  (GB) Kalemin 614

8th Don Cossacks Regiment. Grekov.








Brigade Major General Mihail Mihajlovich Veletskij

He was the commander of the Suzdal Musketeers Regiment. He was promoted Major General on October 31, 1798 and commander of the Butyrsk Musketeers Regiment. until June 20, 1799 when he became the Chief of the same regiment until September 16, 1800.

Imperial Russian Musketeers Regiment. Young-Baden or molodo-Badensky – 2 Battalions


Chief: Lieutenant General Karl Ludwig Prince of Baden. Alias Butyrskowo (Butyrsk) after May 18 renamed as GM Mihail Mihailovich Veletskji Regiment after its former commander

Imperial Russian Musketeer Regiment. Lieutenant-General Povalo-Shveikovsky or Smolensky (Smolensk) – 2 Battalions


Commander: Colonel Grigoriy Dimitrjevich Kazakhovsky

Imperial Russian Grenadier Battalion  (GB) Sanajev 608

2nd Don Cossacks Regiment. Sujchev


Don Cossacks Regiment. Semernikov (Semjornikov)


Cavalry Detached from the Austrian Italienisches Armée See also Hohenzollern Brigade

K.K.  1st Light Dragoons Regiment. Kaiser Franz II (6 Squadrons)                      


K.K.  4th Light Dragoons Rgt Karacsay (6 Squadrons)     


K.K.  2nd Hussars Regiment. Erzherzog Josef Anton (4 Squadrons)       



[1] Aleksandr Vassiljevic Suvorov Graf Rimniksky, Prince Italysky (1729-1800), was born ain Moscow on November 24, 1729, descending of a Swede named Suvor who emigrated to Russia in 1622. He entered the army as a boy, served against the Swedes in Finland and against the Prussians during the Seven Years’ War. After repeatedly distinguishing, himself in battle he was made colonel in 1762. He next served in Poland , dispersed the Polish forces under Pulawski, stormed Cracow (1768) and was made major general. In his first campaigns against the Turks in 1773-74, and particularly in the battle of Kosludscki in the latter year, he laid the basics of his reputation. In 1775 he suppressed the rebellion of Pugachov. From 1777 to 1783 he served in Crimea and Caucasus, becoming lieutenant-general in 1780, and general of infantry in 1783. From 1787 to 1791 he was again fighting the Turks and won many combats; he was wounded at Kinburn (1787), took part in the siege of Ochakov, and in 1788 won two great clashes around Focsani and on the Rimnik river. For the latter victory, in which he was flanked by an Austrian corps under Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg, Empress Catherine II made him a count with the name Rimniksky in addition to his own name, and the austrian emperor Joseph II created him count of the Holy Roman Empire. On December 22, 1790, Suvarov stormed Ismail in Bessarabia. He was next placed at the head of the army which subdued the Poles, repeating the former triumph. He was now made field marshal, and was in Poland until 1795, when he returned to St.Petersburg. But his sovereign and friend Catherine died in 1796, and her successor Paul dismissed the veteran in disgrace. Suvarov then lived for some years in retirement on his estate of Konchauskoy, near Moscow. He criticized the new military tactics and dress introduced by the emperor, and some of his acid words reached the ears of the Emperor. His conduct was therefore more cautious and his correspondence with his wife, who had remained at Moscow – for his marriage relations had not been happy – was censored. On Sundays he tolled the bell for church and sang among the rustics in the village choir. On week days he worked among them in a smock frock. But in February 1799 he was summoned by the Tsar to take the field again, this time against the French Revolutionary armies in Italy .

The campaign opened with a series of victories (Cassano, Trebbia, Novi) which reduced the French government to dire straits and drove every French soldier from Italy, save for the few under Moreau, which maintained a base in the Maritime Alps and around Genoa. Suvarov himself was made prince of Italy (kniaz Italijnski). But the later events of the busy year went consistently against the Coalition. Suvarov’s lieutenant Korsakov was defeated by Massena at Zurich, and the old field marshal, seeking to make his way over the Swiss passes to the Upper Rhine, had to retreat to the Vorarlberg, where the army, much shattered and almost destitute of horses and artillery, went into winter quarters. Early in 1800 Suvarov returned to St Petersburg again in discredit. Paul refused to give him an audience, and, worn out and ill, he died a few days afterwards on the 18th of May 1800 at St Petersburg. Lord Whitworth, the English ambassador, was the only person of distinction present at the funeral. Suvarov lies buried in the church of the Annunciation in the Aleksandr-Nevskii monastery, the simple inscription on his grave being, according to his own direction, “Here lies Suvarov.” But within a year of his death the Tsar Alexander I. erected a statue to his memory in the Field of Mars, St Petersburg.

His son Arkadi (1783-1811) was a general officer in the Russian army during the Napoleonic and Turkish wars of the early 19th century, and was drowned in the river Rimnik. His grandson Aleksandr Arkadievich (1804-1882) was also a Russian general.

He was a great captain, viewed from the standpoint of any age of military history, specially the great commander of the Russian nation, for his leadership character responded to the character of the Russian soldier. In an age when war had become an act of diplomacy he restored its true significance as an act of force. He was reckless of human life, bent only on the achievement of the object in hand, and he spared his own soldiers as little as he showed mercy to the population of a fallen city. He was a man of great simplicity of manners, and while on a campaign lived as a private soldier, sleeping on straw and contenting himself with the humblest fare. But he had himself passed through all the gradations of military service; moreover, his education had been of the rudest kind. His acid tongue procured him many enemies. He had all the contempt of a man of ability and action for ignorant favourites Officers and politicians. In Italy seemed to be moved by a deep religious impulse; however his frequent announcements, claiming God and the Catholic religion at his side, seemed more smart tricks of a fervid political mind. But his passion served, sometimes to hide, more often to express, a military genius, the effect of which the Russian army has not outgrown. Some of the maxims of Suvarov’s Turkish wars were universally followed: the spirit of self-sacrifice, resolution and indifference to losses.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2007