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The “Battles” of Lonato

The “Battles” of Lonato: 31 July and 3 August 1796

By Bernhard Voykowitsch

1. Introduction

1.1 Place of events within the Napoleonic Wars

“Lonato? We all have heard of that – Napoleon, first Italian campaign.” might be the average answer to any question on Lonato. Little is still known about (all) the engagements of the 1796 campaign especially as as regards units involved on both sides. Diving into he vast material of the Vienna Kriegsarchiv I found the according Austrian orders of battle and reports.

Surprisingly the Austrian archive was as informative on the French as on the Austrians: old maps drawn by French officers after 1800 were ‘acquired’ by the Austrians during their 1814 occupation of Paris and have been taken to Vienna. They offer complete French ordres de bataille and what might be more interesting a close view of the French republican divisions’ way to fight in 1796.

The vicinity around the little Italian town of Lonato situated to the South of Lake Garda was the scene of two “battles” during Napoleon’s famous 1796 campaign in Italy or more exactly during the Castiglione campaign in midsummer 1796. Fieldmarshal Wurmser who had replaced FZM Beaulieu at the head of the K.k. Lombardische Armée since July 29 had successfully emerged from the Tirolean Alps to free Mantua besieged by the French Armée d’Italie under Napoleon.

When July 30 the Austrian right wing in the West under FML Quosdanovich took Brescia in the very French rear Napoleon decided to give up the siege of Mantua and concentrate all forces available against Quosdanovich to protect his lines of communication. On his way to Brescia 31 July he found a small Austrian force in his way, one of Quosdanovich’s brigades, commanded by major-general Ott. The ensueing battle was fought around Lonato and ended with Ott’s retreat to Ponte di San Marco.

When 1 August Napoleon reached Brescia he found that the Austrians had already left the town and had retreated to the mountains in the north. Considering his communications secured again he sent his two smaller divisions Despinoy and Sauret in pursuit and himself with the bulk of his forces 2 August remarched to the Chiese determined to next day attack those Austrians who had come by the Adige valley: thus division Augereau was to the South at Montechiaro and next day would encounter Wurmser’s advanceguard under Liptay in the “combat of Castiglione”;

Napoleon with division Massena was more to the North at Ponte San Marco. He would encounter another of Quosdanovich’s brigades: the one commanded by GM Ocskay in the (2nd) battle of Lonato. It ended with Austrian disaster: Ocskay’s force was shut up in Desenzano and all the Austrians including their general were taken prisoner.

There is no place here to retell the doings of all French and Austrian higher formations during 31 July to 3 August 1796: only short briefings will be given. These are supplemented by translated French and Austrian reports to give the sub-unit commander’s view. Style (e.g. length of sentences), abbreviations and orthography were retained to transmit the late 18th century feeling. For those readers who want to backup their knowledge on the Castiglione campaign I suggest to reread John Walsh’s article on the Castiglione campaign in FE 23. The West Point Military Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars and Chandler’s Campaigns of Napoleon would offer good surveys as well.

1.2 The site of the battles

Lonato is a small Italian town situated on a hill rising distinctively above the surrounding ground. The dome of its far to big a church can be seen from far away. Its large Scaliger castle situated immediately north of the town’s old center offers excellent views to all directions: To the East of Lonato the last of the moraine hills surrounding Lake Garda’s southern shore come quite close. (Lake Garda once was a glacier). Over these hills both battles of Lonato raged: July 31 the French started their attack from there; August 3 the Austrians only to be hurled back over them after they had been beaten on the western side of the town. To the South is the endless plain of the Po valley stretching to the West as well, where the Chiese is heading to the South passing Ponte San Marco and Montechiaro. To the North of Lonato the moraine hills are merging with the last foothills of the Alps. Today the land is totally cultivated and the hills are covered with woods or brush. In 1796 this was not the case due to non-mechanized agriculture and the need to cut down any tree available for cooking or heating.

2. First Lonato 31 July 1796

2.1 Outline of events

After the “Surprise de Brescia” (as it is called in the Austrian files) crucial movements and combats would take place July 30 on the Austrian right wing: By 9:00 FML Baron Quosdanovich with brigades Reuss and Sporck and both advanceguards under Klenau and Lusignan arrived at Montechiaro. Obr.-Lt. Vogel was occupying Brescia and GM Ocskay was still blocking Guyeux in the castle of Salo. GM Ott had started the attack of Lonato in the early morning. The French were driven out of the town and the Austrian hussars pursued them across the heights to the east. Yet now the heads of Despinois’ and Massena’s divisions were arriving in the area between Lonato and Desenzano. Napoleon ordered d’Allemagne to immediately retake Lonato. The impetuously Austrian hussars unawarely bumped into the French guns arrayed along the heights and were pushed back by their fire. Immediately d’Allemagne with his own brigade and Rampon’s of Massena’s division attacked Lonato in several columns.

Napoleon himself directed the combat. GM Ott for a time defended the town against these superior numbers. Yet enveloped on both wings he was compelled to leave Lonato and to retreat to Ponte San Marco.

2.2 Original French document:

The report of 5e demi-brigade de bataille

The 11th Thermidor (29 July) the demi-brigade (from Peschiera) set out to the road Pesciera-Verona to stop the enemy. She guarded several passages and the next day (30 July) returning in her tracks, traversed Peschiera and moved along Lake Garda where she received fire from enemy gun-boats. We established two pieces on the road which vigourously answered the fire and forced the enemy ships to sail for the open.

The 13th Thermior (31 July) we went on to Lonato which the enemy seemed to want to take; in fact he entered that town and went on attacking us in a position which we were occupying to the east of the town. We gained the heights to the left and right, maintained a steady musket fire for approximately an hour thus shattering the enemy who retreated into the town. Being on his heels we arrived there almost immediately although we were obliged to break open the gates.

There was fighting in the streets which we traversed under a fire coming from everywhere; from the doors, from the crossings etc. The enemy lying in ambush at the last gate of the town made hell of a fire to stop us and to give his column the time to file away. Yet in turn he left it to the valour of our soldiers who surpassing the danger achieved to dislodge him and pursued him supported by part of the demi-brigade who had filed over the heights to the right to outflank the enemy. The fighting was renewed (to the West of the town) continuing for three or four hours and the beaten enemy abandoned the field of battle. This very day the demi-brigade made more than 400 prisoners, killed 120 enemies and wounded 150. On our side the loss amounted to a dozen prisoners, 90 wounded and 30 killed. Among the latter was citizen Thomas, captain, commanding a battalion en second. This officer was distinguished by his very rare audacity showing himself the first in the street, at the range of pistol, under a fire which left no free space. His death was for sure but it was necessary to give an example which was soon followed by the sentiment of honor and the the desire to avenge him. This esteemed man was regretted by all of us. Citizens Neron, lieutenant, and Le Broc, sous-lieutenant of the grenadiers, were severely injured; Neron died from his wound. This affaire was directed and commanded by generals of division Despinoy and of brigade Bertin

2.3 Original Austrian document:

GM Ott’s report to FML Quosdanovich

I was ordered by the main instruction that as soon as I would have occupied Ponte di San Marco to strive to conquer the post of Lonato too but as my force was exhausted from the July 29 combat (of Salo) and the fatiguing July 30 march to Ponte San Marco the expedition had to be postponed to the next day namely the 31st the expedition which to execute the more I was resolved because FML and corps commander Baron Quosdanovich had told me that during the night he would advance to Montechiaro. My measures for this attack were as follows: The hussar pickets as consisting of the 2nd Major’s squadron of Erdödi made the advanceguard to whose support a division (2 coys, BV) of Jellacic was ordered. The broken terrain didn’t allow an advance in several columns. I therefore proceeded along the high road which leads from Brescia to Venice my whole column consisting of just 4 comps Jellacic, 2 bat Kheul and 2 comp Liccaners, then the 2nd Erdödian squadron. As soon as I had reached San Marco I sent one compage Jellacic to the left to dislodge the enemy outposts positioned on the heights there and by that arrive at the flank of the enemy position proper. When all hahd arrived at the distance ordered, with the advanceguard I attacked the position proper as quick as possible and sent colonel count St. Julien with body battalion from the high way to occupy the heights to the right and thus to support the advanceguard as well as to gain the left flank of the enemy what also due to the skill and the direction by colonel Count St. Julien partly succeeded. The enemy was driven from the fortified post of Lonato and a part of the heights was taken. Also a hussar troop of Erdödy under the command of Mr Lt Sernich pursued the retreating enemy to the crest of of the hills. There they came upon 2 batteries raised by the enemy forces at Desenzano which by several shots of round shot and canister forced the hussars to retreat. Then the enemy who in the meanwhile had drawn considerable forces from the Desenzano camp deployed anew and in his turn now attacked already once occupied Lonato with such impetuosity and superiority that irrespective of all conceivable bravery of all troops I was forced to fall back the more because the enemy had a big column of infantry as well as cavalry march into the plain between Lonato and Montechiaro (Augereau!, BV) and a second one on the road leading to the mountains to Salo. I formed up again in the plain between San Marco and Ponte di San Marco repulsed the pursuing enemy several times and finally in the evening entered the camp at Ponte di San Marco on the left bank of the Chiesa where during the night also the corps of mister FML b.

Quosdanovich arrived and the further retreat into the gorges of the mountains was resumed.

The loss especially of the Kheulian regiment and the Liccaners is considerable as is shown by the enclosed consignation. Because the importance of the post seemed very blatant to me I believed it to be my duty and to the utmost advantage of all the operations of his excel. Mr the fieldmarshall to have to hold it with the utmost effort.

I undertake to emphasize the distinguished bravery of Mr colonel C. St. Julien; as well as that of Mr Major Obrian remaining death; and of the mortally wounded 2nd major of the Kheulian, then the indefatigable employment of my adjutant lieutenant-colonel Lanz of (unreadable) infantry who with restless activity and bravery himself on all spots has guided and commanded the necessary reinforcements and from this has suffered a severe injury; then too of captain of the gral staff Mr Countt of Neuburg indefatigable in all time being on my side transmitting the orders and leading the troops.

3. Second Lonato 3 August 1796

3.1 Outline of events

Upon Wurmser’s letter “that he would cross the Mincio that day and operate against the enemy back” reaching him noon 2 August FML Quosdanovich decided to support the operations of his commander in chief: General Ott was reinforced and ordered from Goglione to advance upon Ponte San Marco in two columns. General Ocskay should march for Desenzano and join Ott at Ponte San Marco next morning. Together they were intended to attack Brescia still in before noon. To support the attack lieutenant-colonel Vogel from Caino was to advance against Brescia. – Colonel count Klenau with his force from Caino had had reached Gavardo. With him and brigades Reuss and Sporck Quosdanovich the next morning wanted to march to Monte Chiaro there to await further orders from the fieldmarshall.Yet only general Ocskay would march to Desenzano because in the night at 22.30 a report of Ott from Goglione reached Gavardo: “At 4 o’clock in the afternoon I have been told that a strong enemy column is advancing through the mountains from Lonato to Salo. Having reconnoitered it I judge its strength at 4.000. Till dusk I expected it to bump into general Ocsky’s position at Sojano. Yet it remained totally silent in that quarter, no combat ensued, no shot was heard. I thereby divine that general Osckay has already changed his position, that thereby Salo has been exposed and my position at Goglione as well as yours (FML Quosdanovich’s) at Gavardo has already been turned.” This report was confirmed by explorers and returning patrols making FML Quosdanovich cancel the advance planned for next day’s morning. By midnight he had general Reuss with 2 bns Klebek and 1 sqn Wurmser hussars leave the camp at Gavardo ordering him to “advance against this French column, attack it wherever met and restore and keep the connection between brigades Ott and Ocskay.. General Ott was ordered to more concentrate his brigade.

This column between the Austrian brigades was division Sauret with which general Guyeux according to his orders had left Lonato to take Salo and attack the Austrians at Gavardo together with d’Allemagne and Despinois. Guyeux had chosen a rarely used and almost forgotten causeway leading over the heights between lake Garda and the Chiesa river. Neither had he noticed general Ocskay’s column moving south to Desenzano to his right nor had this column realised his march. As it happened also general Reuss on his search for Sauret had taken a different route so that these French and two Austrian columns must have passed each other quite close without noticing each other.

At daybreak Wednesday 3 August GM prince Reuss with his column reached a hill over which ran the direct road from Desenzano to Salo. As well as during the night he didn’t encounter any enemies. Only a French army chirurg was taken prisoner. Yet his testimony and and those of the Italian farmers correspondingly said that some French troops had been in the environs the evening before yet had withdrawn again.

Napoleon had Augereau keep the Austrian advance guard under Liptay at Castiglione busy. While division Sauret was heading for Salo, division Despinois and brigade d’Allemagne against Gavardo Napoleon ordered Massena to attack the enemy at Desenzano. GM Ocskay anticipated him by attacking first advancing against Lonato. As already mentioned this town was occupied by Massena’s rearguard brigade Pigeon having retreated from the Mincio thither now forming Massena’s advanceguard. This general was defeated by Ocskay and taken prisoner along with part the 4th légère. 3 guns were taken and Lonato was occupied. The remnants of this demi-brigade fortunately found shelter behind the Fossa Lonata, an irrigation canal, and other obstacles presented by the terrain which prevented Ocskay’s further advance.

Now Napoleon arrived with part of Massena’s division. On the spot he had 18th and 32nd demi-brigades de ligne advance en colonnes serrés par batallions supported by the 15e Dragons.

General Ocskay deployed his few troops in one line to envelop the French columns and get into their flanks. But Napoleon had some battalions deploy on each side (4e légère on the left, 18e légère on the right) of the columns which by their tirailleurs’s fire held the advance of the overlapping Austrian wings. In the meanwhile the two columns continued their advance, 11e demi-brigade de ligne and 25e Chasseurs a Cheval following in support. The shock of this superior force threw back Ocskay’s line abandoning Lonato to the French. 15e Dragons attacked the Ulans and retook the 3 guns lost by Pigeon. Ocskay saw his left flank threatened and fell back to Desenzano with the intention then to retreat North to Salo.To prevent this Austrian brigade from disquieting Sauret in his rear Napoleon ordered adjutant GB Junot with the Guides sqn, 15e Dragons and 4e légère to anticipate Ocskay at Desenzano.

When Ocskay approached this village he in fact found the heights to the north occupied by Junot’s troops while 18e and 32e de ligne were following on his heels. After a useless defence – Junot being severely wounded by an Austrian Ulan – Ocskay had to lay down arms with the greatest part of his command.

In the meantime GM Reuss had continued his march to Desenzano when he suddenly heard intensive yet brief firing from the direction of this village. He forced his march but when he arrived at Rochetta he found the rest of Ocskay’s brigade totally dispersed. To support it as far as possible, he quickly attacked the French (Junot’s force), overwhelmed them, entered Desenzano, took some twenty horses and freed many of the Austrians. For almost an hour he occupied Desenzano. Again Napoleon himself was approaching with Massena’s troops which had beaten Ocskay at Lonato. GM Fürst Reuss with his some 1.800 men was not in the position to engage such an superior enemy and started retreat. He was pursued and lost considerably. – Major Maelcamp at Castel Sirmione by 8 a.m. had heard the firing from Lonato and Desenzano. Immediately he sailed off to the sound of the guns. He was approaching the coast at the moment when Reuss started his retreat. He fired into the right flank of the pursuing French and when the fighting ended he boarded some 120 stragglers taking them to Castel Sermione. – His report to Wurmser was to give the Feldmarschall the first idea of the mishaps the Austrian right wing suffered on 3 August.

3.2 Original French document:

Report of 4e demi-brigade légère
by the chef de brigade Destaing

March to Brescia. – The 14 Thermidor (August 1) the army was put into motion and directed against Brescia of which the enemy had taken possession. She arrived there during the day and the enemy had chosen not to await it. The next day (August 2) she returned in her tracks to take position of the heights of Lonato, Salo and Castiglione.

Battle of Lonato and Castiglione. – The 15 Thermidor the former rearguard and now the advanceguard of division Massena solely composed of the 4e legere and the carabiniers of the 11e legere, as the rest of this brigade had been taken prisoner, went to Lonato, the division stopped at San mArco. Unfortunately we were no longer headed by general Jouvbert; we were commanded by the general Pigeon.

During the night from 15 to 16 our outposts and patrols reconnoitered enemy preparations for an attack. A column filed past our left and two attack columns formed up and bivouaced within cannon range from our front.

I had all these movements detailed to general Pigeon who probably didn’t fail to report to general Massena. Yet in the meanwhile day dawned and the beautiful line of Lonato onto which we were dispersed remained without defence. Finally day broke and the attack began; the enemy developed imposing forces against us; about 15.000 men attacked our front; only four carabinier companies in front of Lonato denied them the road. Their column had artillery advance to drive away that handful of braves from their hill. Yet this artillery achieved nothing.

On the big plateau to the left of Lonato two companies of carabiniers defended with success the road which climbs up between the plateau and the castle and the three battalions of the 4e legere too weak to occupy the extended range of this plateau following the movements of the enemy showed up wherever he tried to mount it and repulsed him with a loss.

The enemy then gave up his frontal attack and fairly distant to our left made file one half of the force he had deployed. I was well aware that he was going to attack our left and that there was no means to resist unless the division did not hasten to arrive; yet in vain I turned my eyes back to the high road: I did not make out any dust. That would have made me believe that there were orders to retreat if I had not seen the terrible fire of Castiglione.

I looked for the most appropriate position to cover our flank: there I placed twelve companies and for no good tried to drive a piece of light artillery there. I dispersed four companies to the front and placed the eight others with the artillery in a second line to support the twelve first ones.

About 6.000 Austrians actually mounted the slope at a certain distance; one half came upon us by the crest; the other one with cavalry descended to the plain to cut our retreat. Soon the fire engaged with tenacity: the column halted to fire instead of further advancing; thus they wanted to have the one enveloping us to attack my second line which as weaker. This column was received with grapeshot and musket fire which threw her into disorder and onto my first line whereto she carried the same disorder. Thus a melee followed which first was to the advantage of of my twelve companies but which made the column halted on the crest decide to fonder upon them. Thus they could not resist any longer and had pains to cut their way through leaving back o good number of prisoners; they went to rally behind my second line and both alternately sustained the retreat always forcing the enemy to try to turn them before being repulsed on the front.

It was now that I began to make out some dust on the high road what made me presume that the division finally had disposed to march after five hours of combat and we undertook new efforts to await her but it was not feasible any more. Having exhausted their cartouches the carabinier companies who defended the road in front of Lonato retreated after having barricaded the gates.

The enemy In the meanwhile I arrived at at forming a column serree with which I hoped to rejoin the division; at a short distance we were charde by cavalry but our fire covered the road with men and horses and routed it. As the 15e dragons didn’t hesitate to arrive and to finish their dispersing we made a halt and awaited the division. We were told that the 32e had refused to march unless having received bread.

Now it was necessary to retake from the enemy that same position instead of defending it. We departed en tirailleurs; the division en colonne: she deployed au pas de charge under the grapeshot of the enemy and did not need more time to topple him than to reach him. I traversed Lonato with a large part of the tirailleurs and took many prisoners in the vicinity. On a hill I saw the men who previously had been taken from me the escort of which was protected by a squadron of cavalry and which was ready to enter Desenzano.

I ran to join some 50 cavalry on the high road, they were the guides of the general in chief, with citizen Junot, aide de champ, at their head. I proposed to him to charge the hussar peleton which blocked the road to us. We put them into flight; Junot injured two of them. We took some 20 tirailleurs.

The 15e regiment de dragons didn’t hesitate to arrive. In addition we entered Desenzano where we made further prisoners. There I heard that the 150 of the 4e legere who had been captured from me were boarding the shore of the lake controlled by 100 foot and 200 Erdödy hussars. We didn’t waver to pursue them and started by taking possession of six guns with their caissons which they abandoned on our approach. A little bit farther away we realized the column of French prisoners and fell on their guard. While Junot attacked the Erdödi Hussars I with a dozen dragoons made lay down their arms the escort of the prisoners who rearmed themselves. Returning I found Junot on the shore, injured by several sabre blows. He urged me to continue the pursuit of the hussars the head of which was blocked by our infantry. This I actually did and in a melee I was injured by four blows from sabres.

Then I withdrew with the sole some 20 remaining dragoons; we rejoined the gros on the high road to Deszenano whereto the enemy had retreated leaving the retreat free to the Erdödi hussars. Several were captured by the prisoners he had freed yet not one of them should have escaped. My 150 ex-prisoners to Lonato brought in 63 horses. This day the demi-brigade had six officers and some hundred men killed or wounded. The general Pijon was not among the freed prisoners having been taken further away from the field of battle. The enemy lost some 2.000 killed or wounded and 3.000 prisoners; he retreated by Salo and very few by Peschiera. The 4e first took position at Desenzano and then returned to Lonato.

The 17 Thermidor (4 August!) the enemy column which the day before had passed our left returned to Lonato by the high road from Brescia (doesn’t combine with what the Austrians actually did!) and summoned the troops under general Victor of which the 4e légère made part of to surrender. The general in chief arriving this very moment sent the enemy parlementaire back to on his behalf summon the commander of the enemy column with that energy and presence of mind which are too well known to repeat the details here.

Yet that what has not appeared in any report and which deserves to rest with history is that Bonaparte just that he had sent back the parlementaire, taking but two men with him, on his own went and being alone in the midst of the enemy column made it lay down arms. There were 1.200 men at Lonato; the enemy column was of 4.000: It was that column which returned general Pijon to us.”

4. Summary

Considering the forces engaged especially on the Austrian side the word battle seems far too overrating for the engagements described here. The term combat would be more appropriate.

Anyway Napoleon called these engagements battles showing how important success at them was to him. His memoires show that he believed that in the 2nd battle of Lonato he had faced part of Wurmser’s forces which had come by the Adige valley: “3 August the battle of Lonato took place; she was given by the two (!?) divisions of Wurmser which had crossed the Mincio by the bridge of Borghetto; that of Liptay was among them, as well as the division of Bayalitsch which he (Wurmser, BV) had left in front of Peschiera, which with the cavalry formed a corps of 30.000 men; the French had 20. to 23.000. Success was never doubtful. Wurmser with the two divisions which of infantry and the cavalry whom he had lead to Mantua as well as Quosdanovich who already was on the retreat could not be there.

At daybreak the enemy went to Lonato which he attacked vividly; by that he tried to make his connection with his right about which by the way he started to feel uneasy. The advanceguard of Massena was thrown back, Lonato taken. The general in chief who was at Ponte di San Marco took the lead of the troops. Always with the intention to gain on his right in order to open his communications with Salo the Austrian general had extended himself too much. Thus his center was broken, Lonato retaken au pas de charge and the the enemy line cut. One part withdrew to the Mincio, the other one threw himself into Salo; yet confronted by general Sauret and taken in its back by the general Saint-Hilaire surrounded from all sides it was compelled to lay down arms.” That Napoleon’s assumptions are not correct was shown by the short descriptions and the reports: 1) FML Quosdanovich that day was not on the retreat but repulsed Sauret and Despinoy in the almost unknown “combat of Gavardo”, 2) only brigade Ocskay made up the Austrian side in the battle of Lonato, which 3) had come by Desenzano from Salo, 4) belonged to the right wing and not the center, 5) thus didn’t try to combine with the right wing…

In fact in both combats the Austrian fielded no more than the equivalent of an infantry regiment.

Due to the flaws in Wurmser’s general plan but also to the bad because dispersed handling of his corps by Quosdanovich in both engagements they had to face four and five times their numbers. The outcome of such inequality of force was clear from the beginning: the Austrians would be forced to withdraw or surrender.

5. A Personal Note

I have been an enthusiast of military history for years. Though many periods have attracted my interest during the last years it has narrowed to the French revolutionary and Napoleonic ones.

In Austria this still is (and probably will always be) a quite lonely affair. Yet during one of my drop-ins into the Kriegsarchiv March 1996 me mentioning “Castiglione” one of the archive staff’s ladies told me that a young Englishman had done research at the archive on that very battle and had just sent in four magazines containing the fruits of his efforts. Englishman was Mr. John Walsh and the magazines were First Empires. I rejoiced that by such an accident I got to know an international Napoleonic forum. Obviously there were many more people in the world sharing my passion.

Mr.Walsh’s articles issues 23, 24, 25 and 26 on the 1796 campaign ended up like this: “Although the battles are fairly well known by name, finding detailed information about them, especially orders of battle, proved almost impossible. It appears that very little has been written compared to the later battles of the Empire, especially when it comes to information about the Austrian army.” (FE 23, page 4). Therefore I started to look for the information lacking. I already knew that it is no use to look for that kind of information in books. Information can only be gathered from the original Austrian files. Thus I started to work though the 25 boxes of the 1796 campaign. Yet orders even orders of battle turned out to have not been executed, units disappeared … . Thus it took longer than I at first had thought and the answer drafted grew and grew in size: then by another accident I found French maps taken(stolen?) from French archives by the Austrians during their 1814 occupation of Paris. They are so beautiful and actually reveal the exact French order of battle that I decided to make a whole book of my findings and to put a scan of the maps into it. Castiglione will be out soon and I hope to be able to do all the battles of the 1796 Italian campaign.

Forces engaged 1st Lonato 13 Thermidor (Sunday 31 July 1796)

Massena’s Division

staff: Monnier, Chabran, Basset

GB Joubert

4e dbl – 1.294

carabiniers 11e dbl – 300

GB Valette

18e dbl – 2.784

GB Victor

IInd 11e db – 907

18e db – 2.616

GB Beaumont

15e rd – 224

GB Rampon

17e dbl – 1.231

22e dbl – 1.038

GB Dallemagne*

32e db – 2.546

Ist 11e db – 907

25e rch – 260

Total: 201/3 bns, 7 sqns. 15.282 (14.479 infantry, 484 cavalry, 321 artillery, 10 pieces)

*only Dallemagne’s brigade was engaged


Despinois’ Division

adjutant: Herbin

GB Bertin

5e db – 2.578

GB Cervoni

39e db – 1.894

Total: 6 bns. 4.772 infantry


Forces engaged 2nd Lonato 16 Thermidor (Wednesday 3 August 1796)

Austrian force at Lonato: Gen.Maj. Ocskay (3 bns, 2 coys, 1 1/4 sqns)Ist & IInd Esterhazy No.34 (2.077), IIIrd Jellacic No.53 (1.008), 2 coys Mahony Jäger (337), 11/4 sqns Ul. No.1 (169) 3 bns, 2 coys, 1 1/4 sqns. Approximate strength: 3.422 infantry, 169 cavalry, ??? artillery, 18 pieces

situation of rest of Austrian 1st columm 3 August FML Quosdanovich at Caino: Obr.-Lt Vogel (2 bns, 2 sqns): IIIrd Jordis No. 59 (647), 1 Lattermann No.45 (789), 2 sqns Wurmser Hus. No.5 (360)

at Paitone: Gen.Maj. Ott (4 bns, 3 coys, 2 sqns):

Ist Devins No.37 (996), Ist & IInd Kheul No.10 (2.099), Ist Jellacic No.53 (1.008), 2 coys 3rd Karlstädter, 2 sqns Erdödy Hus. No.2 (328)

Obr. Graf Klenau reinforcing Ott (2 bns, 2 sqns): Ist & IInd Erbach No.42 (1.935), 2 sqns Wurmser Hus. No.5 (360)

at Gavardo: Gen.Maj. Graf Sporck (3 bns, 2 coys, 5 sqns) grenbns l´Aisne 3/4/46 (551), Gavasini 23/24/49 (492) & Kottulinsky 14/50/59 (642), 3 sqns Wurmser Hus.No.5 (540), 2 sqns Erdödy Hus. No.2 (328)

in search of Ocskay: Gen.Maj. Fürst Reuss (2 bns, 1 sqn) Ist & IInd Klebek No.14 (1.880), 1 sqn Wurmser Hus.No.5 (180)

13 bns, 5 coys, 11 1/4 sqns. Approximate strength: 15.272 infantry, 2.349 cavalry, ??? artillery, 18 pieces


Massena’s Division

staff: Monnier, Chabran, Basset

GB Pigeon*

4e dbl – 1.294

3 coys carabiniers of 11e dbl – 300

GB Victor

18e db – 2.616

GB Beaumont

15e rd – 224

GB Rampon

32e db – 2.546

25e rch – 260

IInd 11e db – 907

GB Lorcet

18e dbl – 2.784

Total: 14 1/3 bns, 7 sqns. 15.282 (10.447 infantry, 484 cavalry, 321 artillery, ? pieces)

* to follow Pigeon’s report note that he had 3 elite carabinier companies of the 11e legere, 3 elite carabinier companies and 24 normal chasseur companies of the 4e legere!



Click on maps for larger picture

The map was based on an old French one found in the Vienna Kriegsarchiv. It shows Massena’s camp during night 2/3 August (1), his march to help his former rear, now advanceguard (2) and his attack on Ocskay (3): the latter was done in the by 1796 standard formation for a rash attack: four demi-brigades in “colonnes serrés par batallions.” The old map suggests that the Austrians after their initial success were following the French in much more dispersed form than could be shown here: only the biggest detachments were shown; probably they were made up of the light troops Ocskay could dispose of.

Scale is 1:25.000 (4 cm is 1km); contour lines are at 25 metres, the dotted ones at 5 metres. The troops symbols have not been coloured. The reader is invited to colour himself by felt-tip pen: a bright Blue for the French and a bright Yellow for the Austrians make a good impression. Have a close look please; you should discover all the units mentioned in the orbats. “4 e leg (1)” shows the 4th French demi-brigade in her first position and so on. If you make three A3 xerox copies you can separately colour the three stages indicated.


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