The 1799 Campaign in Italy: The Last Battles & the End of the Directory’s Wars August-December 1799
By Enrico Acerbi
The Road to Genola – the Battles at Stura and Murazzo (27 – 31 October)
October 27. While the Austrian attacks were harassing the French center around Mondovì, the Imperials were strongly hit in their right wing. General Grenier moved forward from his Madonna dell’Olmo camp against the enemy outposts at Centallo and Busca, driving right toward Fossano. That determined mass of about 6000 men, split in columns. It had the light troops in vanguard, three Chasseurs regiments and the main body formed by the 10th, 40th and 47th Demi-Brigades. Soon Grenier’s division deployed in large lines, advanced, after noon and at the same time, toward Sant’Albano and Maddalene, near Centallo by the left Stura bank, while Championnet moved his HQs at Ronchi, reaching the village with the reserve brigade Calvin. General Bussy was swept out from Murazzo. At the same time, two Victor’s Demi-Brigades assaulted the Pianfei outposts till the St. Gotthard chapel. The French advanced through Pogliola and the Pesio valley till Santa maria di Rocca.
The Austrians, observing the movements of the French division, crossed the Stura at Castelletto, went up on the plain deploying first a relief column, under command of General Nobili, [i] then other three columns (with cavalry and artillery) which hurried their march driving against Chiusa, Beinette and San Carlo delle Gambe. The French vanguard (CdB Brun with the Carabiniers of the 8th Light infantry, some grenadiers companies and the 1st Cavalry regiment) blocked the Austrian vanguard capturing 80 soldiers and 2 howitzers with their caissons. The French thin line was soon reinforced with the 8th Light Chasseurs Battalion, under Captain Moitié, which made a breach into the enemy line and allowed the irruption of the French (heavy) cavalry in the gap. The charge of the 1st, 14th and 21st Cavalry Regiments was very sturdy and only the sacrifice of the Austrian Dragoons Lobkowitz avoided a complete Imperial rout. In this combat, also called the Stura battle by the Austrians, died Obertslieutenant prince Thurn-und-Taxis (of the Lobkowitzs).
28 October. – In the center of the large battlefield, General Victor moved away from his camp and repulsed (once more) the Austrians outposts at Beinette, forcing his enemies to retreat to Carrù. General Fressinet, of Lemoine division (one Battalion of the 34th Line and the chasseurs Battalion of the 18th Light), advanced along the Stura right bank and occupied Castelletto (Stura); he engaged the Brixen brigade troops, battered at Mondovì, and that new position was definitevely cleared by October 31. Grenier’s Division continued its slow advance toward Fossano and seized Murazzo.
October 29. South of Mondovì a large Lemoine column had driven toward Lesegno, with the task to cut the Auersperg Brigade in two parts, separating the head from the troops remained at Niella. Auersperg, at dawn of October 29, let the enemy column approach him, surprised the French capturing three guns, two flags, 453 men and 20 officers (among whom was General Grossart). Lemoine marched back to Monastero, left there some outposts and returned on the mountains.
Otherwise the recent French moves began to worry the Austrian HQ, then the drums beat the rhythm of recall and the Imperials became to organize themselves. They rallied a strong division on the left Stura bank (15 grenadiers battalions and 6 cavalry regiments of Ott’s and Elsnitz’s Divisions). During the night some bridges were placed over the Stura and on October 30, in the early morning, the two large Austrian columns began their advance: the first (Ott) toward Centallo, the second (Elsnitz) toward Murazzo and Ronchi. In addition, the Marquis of Sommariva, who had reinforced the Fossano garrison with some light battalions, acting as third column, was ordered to drive against Murazzo and engage there the French. The third Deutschmeister Battalion was again attached to the Regiment, having moved from Carrù. Championnet had personally led his troops ahead toward Murazzo and Centallo, gathering about 12000 men on the left Stura bank. These troops threatened the right wing of Mélas, so the General decided, at least, it was the moment to engage in a large battle. In the evening the Austrians built two bridges at Castelletto and Montanera, in front of the enemy.
October 30. General Duhesme, reinforced by 2000 men, advanced in the Susa valley on October 30 in three columns: the first came from Mont Cenis, the second from Ramat and the last from Exilles and Chaumont. The third column had also 3 guns and 100 cavalry and the whole attacking force had about 5000 men. Duhesme attacked with the column (the vanguard with Boyer’s and Kister’s Brigades in the first line) came from Montanis and Exilles, while the other, surrounding, column (aide Ordonneau) hit Susa in the backside. The fortress was again seized. The Austrian garrison withdrew to Bussoleno having 500 men out of combat and 500 prisoners (French numbers); they really lost 200 men during the Susa attack and retreated first to Bussoleno, the following day to Avigliana, while Duhesme strangely returned to Susa without pursuing. So the Austrian were able to organize the defence. They put the outposts at Giaveno and Sant’Antonio, the reserve detachments (Unterstützungstruppen) at Ambrogio and the main force at Avigliana.
October 31. Ott’s Division and that of General Elsnitz rallied together, at dawn of 31 October, near the new bridges and, after the Austrian artillery had overcome the French guns, crossed the river. They surprised the opponents. Quickly marching through the long and cumbersome causeway, and, although the terrain was very favourable for the French, who were pushed back by a lethal fire coming from the hills around and were thrown in the plains. While the first Austrian attack was repulsed on all of Grenier’s front, with a countercharge of Chef Mermet and his 10th Hussars as the main event, Grenier was unable to stop the Imperials. There the Austrian cavalry exploited the confusion, charging the Frenchmen and only a fast escape saved them from a complete rout. Elsnitz pursued the enemy until within the range of the guns of Cuneo; Ott pursued him up to Busca. Up to the evening the army remained on the Grana banks; four cannons and 800 prisoners fell in the hands of the winners. During this combat the French General Calvin was lightly wounded. The Alps Division was driven out of Murazzo (in the clash called the battle of Murazzo by the Austrians) and had to rally itself around Centallo, with the intention to remain there. When Ott’s Division had advanced, Compans, with his brigade, was outflanked by Elsnitz’s movement to Ronchi and Grenier was forced to withdraw beyond the Maira creek. The cost of this combat was about 1000 French dead or wounded, but Mèlas failed to gain a decisive victory, not thinking it wise to pursue Grenier. The Austrian retreated to their old positions, leaving only outposts along the Stura (Castelletto and Ronchi). During the night the army moved again on its right, because General Duhesme was approaching with important reinforcements. The Austrian lost 62 men dead, 428 wounded (among whom were 10 Officers) and 189 prisoners; 45 horse remained dead or wounded in the battlefield. Also if, finally, Mélas decided to withdraw onto the old camp at Magliano, the Austrians claimed the victory of the Stura-Murazzo battles, but really their opponents were all but beaten.
In facts, that same 31 October, General Duhesme had attacked the Pinerolo entrenchments with persistent assaults and recurring charges of all his units, led by Kister, Brigadier Paulet, the adjudant Plantat, who was wounded, the aides Ordonneau and Boyer and finally the Mermet’s Hussars, which had travelled north to reinforce the left wing. This was a dangerous event for the Austrians, deployed with the main army in a too southern positions, with the Turin gates next to Duhesme’s troops and poorly defended on the eve of a greater battle. So Mèlas decided to concentrate the army in a central position, waiting the best chance to counterattack the French advance.
General Lemoine had orders to advance toward Carrù with Clauzel’s and Gardanne’s Brigades, while Seras drove toward Mondovì, occupying Breolungi, near the Ellero creek, and from there attacked the town entrenchments with the 20th Light infantry. In effect the town was already evacuated by the Austrians, because of the new Mélas orders and there was only a weak rearguard. The French booty, after the Austrian retreat, was 9 guns (old Piedmontese weapons) and all their ammunitions, but, above all, Mondovì was now in French hands. Victor advanced on Lemoine’s left and crossed the Stura at Morozzo leaving behind 1500 men who merged with the Fressinet vanguard at Castelletto and Montenera, with the task to harass the enemy’s rear at Bene, Sant’Albano e La Trinità, waiting Lemoine’s Division advancing on the right. Victor’s vanguards cleared the Austrian outposts at La Margherita and Murazzo, opening the route to Fossano, while Grenier, after having unluckily fought at Centallo (October 31), continued his advance toward Savigliano and, slowly, on November 2, reached the village of Valdigi (today Levaldigi). The Austrian army remained in the Magliano camp from October 30 till November 3, in observation duty.
Österreichische Italienische-Armée October 14 – 30 (Beinette – Stura battles)
Commander in Chief: Feld Marshal Leut. Michael Friedrich Benedikt Mélas
Chief of Staff OberstAnton Freiherr von Zach (from Kray Mantua Korps)
Artillery and Engineers
Pioneers Corps Commander: Oberstleutnant (promoted to Colonel after Genola) Joseph Graf Radetzky de Radetz
Center – Hauptarmée along the river Stura line
Division FML Paul Kray de Krajowa et Topolya
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Fürst Johann von Liechtenstein replacing General Kray in as the divisional commander
K.K. 13th Line Infantry Regiment Freiherr Franz Wenzel Reisky von Dubnitz
K.K. 18th Line Infantry Regiment Graf Patrick Stuart
Grenadiers Brigade GM Christoph Freiherr von Lattermann
When Kray was summoned to Novi, Lattermann was already attached to the Kaim’s Corps in front of Turin. His first 4 Battalions. under listed, were later sent to Alessandria with the General and recahed again Kray.
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Graf Carl Paar
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Oblt Franz Xavier Weber von Treuenfeld
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Graf Anton Schiaffinati
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Major Johann Graf Morzin
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Oberleutnant Carl Soudain
K.K. Grenadier Battalion major Franz Wouwermanns
Division Generalmajor Carl Peter Ott de Batorkéz
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Carl von Adorjan
K.K. 19th Hungarian Line Regiment. Freiherr Jozsef Alvinczy de Berberek
K.K. 10th Line Infantry Regiment (former Regiment Kheul) –I and III Battalions.
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Carl Philipp von Weidenfeld
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Oberleutnant Ferdinand Pers
K.K. Hungarian Grenadier Battalion OberstLeutnant Johann Pértussy
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Freiherr Carl von Görschen
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Graf Otto von Hohenfeld
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Graf Nikolaus Weissenwolf
K.K. Grenadier Battalion Oberleutnant Franz von Neny
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Graf Franz Auersperg [ii]
K.K. 36th Line Infantry Regiment Fürst Carl Fürstenberg I, II, III Battalions.
Division Generalmajor Anton Freiherr von Elsnitz
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Graf Johann Nobili
K.K. 3rd Light Dragoons Regiment FM Erzherzog Johann Baptist – 6 squadrons
K.K. 4th Light Dragoons Regiment GM Andreas Frh. von Karacsaj de Vale-Sakam
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Friedrich Bellegarde
K.K. 33 Line Regiment. Graf Anton Sztaray – I,II and III Battalions.
K.K. 32 Hungarian Line Regiment. Graf Samuel Gyulai – I,II,III Battalions.
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Nikolaus Joseph Pálffy ab Erdöd
K.K. 10th Light Dragoons Regiment GdC Joseph Fürst Lobkowitz – 6 Squadrons
K.K. 8th Light Dragoon Regiment Friedrich Wilhelm Carl Herzog Württemberg- 6 Squadrons
Division General-Major Freiherr Anton von Mittrowsky
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Marquis Hannibal Sommariva
K.K. 2nd Hussar regiment Erzherzog Joseph Anton – 8 squadrons
K.K. 14th Light Dragoons Regiment Franz Freiherr von Levenehr 6 squadrons
I Battalion 4th Grenzregiment Carlstädt Szluiner (1st Szluiner Battalion)
K.K.7th Hungarian Light Infantry Battalion. Major Johann Schmelzern von Wildmansegg former Otto Battalion.
Feldbrigade FML Johann Ludwig Alexander Alformerius Frh. von Loudon
K.K. 16th Line Regiment Freiherr Ludwig Terzy
K.K. 40th Line Infantry Regiment GM Graf Joseph Mittrowsky – I, II, III Battalions
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Friedrich Heinrich Freiherr Gottesheim
K.K. 15th Line Regiment. Oranien Prinz Wilhelm- I,II Battalions.
K.K. 8th Line Regiment. (former Huff Regiment) – I,II,III Battalions.
K.K. 1st Light Dragoons Regiment “Emperor” Kaiser Franz II – 6 squadrons
Turin and Aosta Valley – Winter Quarters
Division Generalmajor Conrad Valentin Kaim
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Freiherr Josef Philipp von Vukassovich – Turin
K.K. 52 Hungarian Regiment Erzherzog Palatin Anton Viktor – 2 Battalions.
III Battalion of Banat (or II/12 GR Deutschbanater – Major Anton Zedtwitz)
II Battalion Grenzregiment of Banat (I/13th GrenzRegiment) – Siebenbürgen-Wallachen
V Battalion Banater Grenzregiment
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Graf Joseph Johann Saint Julien-Wallsee
½ Battalion. K.K. 6th Light Infantry Major Carl Freiherr von Trauttenberg
K.K. Jäger Korps Major Johann Le Loup (2companies – Dutch)
K.K. 1st Light Dragoons Regiment “Emperor” Kaiser Franz II – 2 squadrons
K.K. 7th Hussar Regiment 3 Squadrons
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Oberst Ludwig Wolff de la Marseille
K.K. 63 Line Regiment. Erzherzog Joseph Franz 2 Battalions. I at Turin – II at Susa (Kaim Korps)
Commander: Oberst Carl Soudain – merging units: Leib Battalion 9th Wallonen Clerfayt – Leib Battalion 30th de Ligne – Leib Battalion 38th Württemberg – Leib Battalion 55th Murray – Leib Battalion 58th Beaulieu – conscripts from Belgium-Netherland
K.K. 9th Hussar Regiment FML Johann Nepomuk Graf Erdödy
Feldbrigade Oberst Prinz Victor von Rohan
K.K. 14th Light infantry Battalion. Oberst Prince Ludwig (Louis) Rohan
K.K. Jäger Korps Major Johann Le Loup (3companies – Dutch)
K.K. 2nd Light Infantry Battalion Oberst Carl Prince of Rohan (Italian Battalion)
K.K. 47 Line Regiment. Graf Franz Kinsky– I, II Battalions
K.K. 37 Line Regiment. (former De Vins) – I, II Battalions
K.K. 7th Hussar Regiment 3 Squadrons
Feldbrigade Oberst Gottfried Freiherr von Strauch
K.K. Jäger Korps Major Johann Le Loup (3 companies – Dutch)
K.K. 11th Light Infantry Battalion. Obst Graf Georg Simon de Carneville (istrian)
K.K. 11th regiment (former Graf Michael Wallis) – I and II Battalions.
IV Battalion 6th Grenzregiment Warasdiner-St.Georger or II Battalion/6th
I Battalion Banal Grenzregiment or I Battalion – 11th Banal Regiment of Petrinja
K.K. 9th Hussar Regiment FML Johann Nepomuk Graf Erdödy 1 Sqn.
Bormida valley (from 26 October)
Division Generalmajor Karl Joseph Graf Hadik von Futak
K.K. 13th Hungarian Light Infantry Major Jozséf de Munkátsy – 1 Battalion.
K.K. 23rd Line Regiment. Grossherzog Ferdinand von Toscana – I, II and III Battalions
K.K. 28th Line Regiment. Freiherr Michael von Fröhlich II and III Battalions.
K.K. 37th Line Regiment. (former De Vins) I- III Battalions.
K.K. 14th Line Infantry Regiment Frh. Von Klebek – two Battalions
K.K. 44th Line Infantry Regiment (former Belgiojoso) Volunteers Detachment
Commander: Oberst Freiherr Philipp von Brentano-Cimarolli
K.K. 7th (9th??) Hussar Regiment 2 Squadrons
Feldbrigade Generalmajor Andreas Frh. von Karacsaj de Vale-Sakam
K.K. 34 Hungarian Line Infantry Regiment (the former Regiment Esterházy)
VII Combined Battalion Grenzregiment Warasdiner of Varazdin
K.K. 5th Hussar Regiment 8 Squadrons
Freiwillige Jägers zu Pferd Generalmajor Anton Graf Mignot de Bussy (Chasseurs)
(4 squadrons) – Oberst Graf Frimont de Palota
Eastern Riviera (Levante)
Corps Generalmajor Johann Graf von Klenau und Freiherr von Janowitz
Jäger Korps Freiherr Constantin d’Aspre 10 companies
K.K. 15th Light Battalion. Oberst Bonaventura Mihanovic
VI Battalion Grenzregiment Banat – Commander Major Paulić
I Battalion. of 10th Banal Grenzregiment of Glina (2nd Banal Battalion)
IV Battalion Grenzregiment Banat – Commander Major Jović
II Battalion of 5th Warasdiner-Kreuzer Grenzregiment – Commander Major Maretić
8th Hussar Régiment (later Nauendorff) –8 squadrons
Freiwillige Jägers zu Pferd Generalmajor Anton Graf Mignot de Bussy (Chasseurs)
(4 squadrons) – Cdrs. Major Charles Graf Forceville
Division Generalmajor Friedrich Xavier Fürst Hohenzollern-Hechingen
Coming from operations in Toscana to help Klenau and Karacsaj. He had just obtained, on October 2, the rank of Field Marshal Lieutenant, then reached the Riviera, and, on November 15, had the command of the Karacsaj Corps
K.K. 53rd Croatian Line Regiment. GM Jovan (Johann) Jellacic Graf de Buzim
Battalions I – II Commander: Oberst Johann Szenássy
K.K. 59th Line Regiment. FML Alexander von Jordis
Battalions I – II – Commander: Obst Franz Högl von Hockheim
Central Italy garrisons
Combined Battalion of 3rd Carlstädt-Ogulin Grenzregiment – former I Battalion of 3rd croat Grenzregiment Carlstädt-Ogulin – III Battalion 3rd Grenzregiment Carlstädt-Ogulin former 7th Carlstadt Battalion.- Commander Freiherr Carl von Letzenyi
K.K. 3rd Light Battalion. Am Ende – Commander: Oblt (Lieut. Col.) Carl Freiherr von Am Ende
K.K. 4th Light Infantry Battalion. Bach Commander: Major Johann Nepomuk Freiherr von Bach
K.K. 12th Cuirassiers Regiment FML Moritz Graf Cavanagh (6 Squadrons) Commander: Oberst Heinrich Bersina von Siegenthal
Fortress Ancona Siege
Corps Generalmajor Freiherr Michael von Fröhlich
10000 (including insurgents)
K.K. 17 Infantry Regiment (former Regiment Fürst Friedrich Wilhelm Hohenlohe-Kirchberg) Battalions I – II Commander: Oberst Carl Riera . It came from Dalmatia by the sea.
K.K. 43 Line Infantry Regiment Graf Anton Thurn-Val Sassina – I,II,III Battalions.
[i] Nobili tried the last defence of the Stura bank with only 5 cavalry squadrons and an half artillery battery, moved to support the outposts under attack. He remained isolated for some time, being able to cross back the Stura only on 29 October.
[ii]He was the former 36 (old Franz Ulrich Kinsky and at the time Fürst Carl Fürstenberg regiment) commander. The regiment was then under Oberst Conrad von Thelen.