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The 1799 Campaign in Italy

The 1799 Campaign in Italy: Austrian Deployment Approaching the Legnago Battle

By Enrico Acerbi


LEFT WING Total – 27,800       

(Clausewitz numbered the Austrians at 29,000, of which 4,500 were inside Porto Legnago’s walls.)

INFANTRY                                                                                                           (29 Btns)              24,063  

Jäger                                                                                                                       (2 Coys)                                   327               

CAVALRY                                                                                                            (16 Sqns)               2,725 

Artillery                                                                                                                                                 1,012  

Division  – GM Freiherr Michael von Fröhlich, under provisional command of

       GM Franz Joseph Marquis de Lusignan

Division  – FML Karl Graf von Mercantin

At Bevilacqua Camp

Kray, whose communications with Verona passed through Albaredo, received news of the French attack and, above all, of the enemy forces engaged, with a degree of nonchalance. He required the troops first had to finish their camp meal in the open fields of Bevilacqua and afterwards were they to move toward the Adige , to counterattack the French along the front-line. In the meantime an artillery duel commenced between the French batteries positioned near the bridge of Saint Peter and those of the Austrians, deployed on the other bank of the Adige . While nobody had reason to think there it could initiate a great battle, it was during just this cannonade that Chasteler de Courcelles organized three attack columns (Angriffskolonnen).

Reserve Brigade – GM Joseph Döller  (div. Fröhlich)                                                                        5,466

Linked defence line: Verona – Albaredo – Legnago (with garrison)

Second Line, or line on the Adige’s left bank:

K.K. IR 13 Freiherr Franz Wenzel Reisky von Dubnitz                                                                 2,428
K.K. 7th Hussar Regiment                                                                                                              1,321
K.K. 10th Light Dragoon Regiment GdC Joseph Fürst Lobkowitz                                                 1,104

Porto Legnago garrison – Cdr. Oberst Skal           

K.K. IR 36 Fürst Carl Fürstenberg                                                                     (3rd Bn)
K.K. IR 32 (Hungarian) Graf Samuel Gyulai                                                   (2nd Bn)
K.K. Grenadier Bn Freiherr Franz von Neny                                                                                      388
K.K. Grenadiers Bn Graf Joseph Fiquelmont                                                                                      754

Brigade – GM Freiherr Anton von Mittrowsky       

East of Legnago

K.K. IR 24 (former Regiment von Preiss)                                                        (1st & 2nd Bns)    2,186

1st Left Attack-Column (Links Angriffskolonne) – GM Freiherr Christoph von Lattermann      6,370

Legnago – San Pietro (di Cerea)

Advance Guard Detachment – Col. Emanuel Freiherr von Schustekh (cdr, 8th Hussars Rgt.)

On March 26, 1799 , 3:00 AM , the French struck at Pastrengo, while Legnago was attacked by infantry later in the afternoon. In that day Oberst Baron von Schustekh had orders to organize a light formation with:

– 2 coys of Jäger d’Aspre
– 6 coys of the K.K. IR 28 (former  Wartensleben)
– 2 squadrons of 8th Hussar Regiment
– 1 Pioneer coy.

These formed the advance guard of Fröhlich’s division. Schustekh arrived at the gates of Porto Legnago, on the Adige ’s left bank, at the 5:00 in the afternoon. He did not stop in the Citadel but passed through and immediately left the town to engage the French. He was frontally cannonaded by the French artillery and attacked in the flank by skirmishers. Otherwise he firmly gathered his troops along the road in a thick column and repulsed the enemy cavalry with bayonets. Schustekh then deployed his own cavalry in assault formation, ordering the infantry to deploy along the two lateral ditches which flanked the road and to deliver a heavy fire against the French. With this musketry support, Schustekh was able to divide the Hussars into small battle-groups, more easily manageable in a so tight road, and launched them against the enemy. With these tactics, Schustekh was able to delay battle, and the French advance, until the arrival of the main column under GM Lusignan (provisionally commanding Fröhlich’s division).

The French were repulsed largely because of the Austrian use ditches as entrenchments, losing also 8 guns, 3 howitzers, 22 powder caissons and 200 prisoners. The Hussar regiment had 2 officers killed and 3 others wounded.

[Main body:]

K.K. 8th Hussar Regiment (the future Rgt. Nauendorff)                                (2 sqns)                     210  
Pioneer Coy                                                                                                                                 100
K.K. IR 28 (future Freiherr Michael von Fröhlich)                                         (1st Bn)                  1,002
Jäger Korps Freiherr Constantin d’Aspre                                                     (2 coys)                     327

Hauptgruppe Freiherr Christoph von Lattermann

K.K. IR 39 Graf Támas Nádasdy                                                                        (1st & 2nd Bns)    2,100
K.K. (Hungarian) Grenadier Bn Major Joseph Korherr                                                                   779
K.K. Grenadier Bn FML Karl Graf von Mercandin                                                                            752
K.K. IR 45 Freiherr Franz von Lattermann                                                       (3rd Bn)                 1,100
K.K. 10th Light Dragoon Regiment GdC Joseph Fürst Lobkowitz                              (2 sqns)                     368

2nd Center Attack Column – Col. Carl Rüdt von Collenberg                                                                           4,000

Gallo village (not more than a farm)

K.K. IR 45 Freiherr Franz von Lattermann                                                       (1st & 2nd Bns)    2,000
K.K. IR 28 (future Freiherr Michael von Fröhlich)                                         (2nd & 3rd Bns)   2,000
K.K. 10th Light Dragoon Regiment GdC Joseph Fürst Lobkowitz                              (2 sqns)                     368

3rd Right Attack-Column (Rechts- Angriffskolonne) –  Marquis Hannibal Sommariva                              2,154


K.K. Grenadier Bn Oblt Franz Xavier Weber von Treuenfeld (or Bn Weber)                                              783
K.K. IR 43 Graf Anton Thurn-Val Sassina                                                (1st, 2nd & 3rd Bns)   2,350
K.K. IR 39 (Hungarian) Graf Támas Nádasdy                                                 (3rd Bn)                                1,141
K.K. 10th Light Dragoon Regiment GdC Joseph Fürst Lobkowitz                              (2 sqns)                     368

Independent Brigade – GM Johann Graf von Klenau und Freiherr von Janowitz                       

Arquà Polesine Camp; did not participate in the battle

K.K. 8th Hussar Regiment (the future Rgt. Nauendorff)                                (6 sqns)                 1,196
K.K. 3rd Light Infantry Bn Am-Ende                                                                                                   766
K.K. 4th Light Infantry Bn Bach                                                                                                           820
4th Grenzregiment Carlstädt – Szluiner                                                                          (1st Bn)                 1,181
10th Banal Grenzregiment of Glina (the old 2nd Banal Bn)                         (1st Bn)                                 1,050


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