Battle of Mount Kitta (also called Kitta Mount) 16th May
By Paul Latham
During the war with
in 1809, Napoleon ordered General Marmont, who commanded in Dalmatia,
to unite his forces with the rest of the Grand Armee in preparation
for a great battle (Wagram).
Hearing of this movement, the Austrian High Command sent a small force
to stop Marmont and recapture Dalmatia for
. The Austrian forces numbered around 8,000 men and were under the
command of General Andreas Von Stoichewich.
On 16 May, Marmont’s march towards the
Danube was blocked by Stoichewich with an advance column of his forces.
Stoichewich had occupied a steep hill called
Kitta and held the adjoining valley with a column of infantry and a
battalion of Bosnian irregular cavalry. The position was very strong
for defence, as the hill was steep with rough terrain and part of it
was defended by a tributary of the Zermangna river. Stoichewich had
chosen a good position; if Marmont moved to attack
Kitta his cavalry would take them in the flank. If he chose to attack
the valley, the infantry would fall on him from the hill and also cut
of his line of retreat towards Zara.
However the French held a significant advantage in artillery and Marmont,
as a former artillery officer, had collected a battery of 78 guns.
He opened this battery and directed its assault on the hill. With the
infantry pinned down for the moment, Marmont sent forward the 11th Legere supported by his own guard of around 300 Chasseurs-a-Cheval into the
valley. The Bosnian irregular cavalry was dispersed and pushed out
of the valley whilst the infantry fell back with them, pressed hard
by the 11th Legere. With Stoichewich focus moved to
watch what was happening in the valley, Marmont ordered the 23d and
the 8th Legere to storm the Mount. The Austrians were surprised
by this movement and were pushed out of their defensive positions and
back into the valley. The 11th Legere had been withdrawn
from the valley and was ordered by Marmont to take position on the
reverse slope of the Mount and conceal itself.
Stoichewich knew that
Kitta was the key to this engagement and promptly ordered a general
advance from all of his forces, some of which had been at the exit
to the valley and had not yet been engaged. A large column of 4,000
Austrians stormed down the valley and began to climb the hill under
heavy fire from the 23d and 8th Legere. As the Austrians
reached the summit, Marmont gave the order for the 11th to
reveal themselves and fire a volley into the oncoming enemies. The
11th then bayonet charged the bewildered Austrians who,
tired after the tough ascent and surprised by the 11th,
were powerless to offer effective resistance. As the Austrians reach
the valley floor, the Chasseurs-a-Cheval of Marmont's guard crash into
them scattering and routing the enemy. In their charge the Chasseurs
captured 800 prisoners, 50 officers and General Stoichewich himself!
In this action, the Austrian losses are 3,000 killed, wounded and
taken prisoner with many of the retreating forces abandoning their
arms to make better their escape through the mountain passes.
The French forces only sustain light casualties and Marmont continued
his push to the
Fisher, Todd. The Napoleonic Wars: Empires Fight Back 1808-1812
Memoires du Marechal Marmont, Duc de Raguse, De 1792 A 1841
Placed on the Napoleon Series: August 2001
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