The Campaign in Italy, 1796-97: The Second Battle of Castiglione 5
Virtual Battlefield Tour
By Bill Peterson
Castiglione was the decisive action of Bonaparte�s hard-fought campaign
to turn back W�rmser�s attempt to relieve Mantua. It is also noteworthy,
as illustrated in Chandler�s chapter �The Embryonic System: Castiglione�
in The Campaigns of Napoleon, for the early demonstration of
Napoleon�s battle system, later to be developed with dramatic effect
at Austerlitz, Friedland, and Bautzen.
At Castiglione, the key stages of the battle were:
An early sham attack by Mass�na�s Division and 4e Ligne
of Augereau�s Division, followed by a withdrawal feigning weakness.
This drew Austrian attention and reserves to their right, and lured
the Austrian right wing forward in pursuit.
A flanking move by S�rurier�s Division (temporarily commanded
by Fiorella due to the general�s illness) through Guidizzolo and Cavriana
into the Austrian left rear.
The massing of a grand battery of 18 guns under 22-year-old
Commandant Marmont (a future Marshal) against the Austrian redoubt
of Monte Medolano, keystone of the Austrian left.
The launching of a masse de rupture comprising Verdier�s
grenadier battalions with cavalry support to seize Monte Medolano,
completing the dislocation of the Austrian left.
A general attack by Augereau�s and Mass�na�s Divisions, reinforced
by the 5e Ligne of Despinois� Division, against the outflanked
and demoralized Austrian center and right.
Due to some errors of timing, the high fatigue level of the French
troops, and the intervention of a fresh Austrian brigade under Weidenfeld
which arrived from Peschiera in time to cover the retreat of W�rmser�s
main body, the French victory was less than annihilating. Still, the
Austrians lost 5,000 men and 22 guns compared to French losses of slightly
over 1,000. More importantly, Bonaparte achieved his strategic goal
of forcing W�rmser to retreat north to the Tyrol, allowing the siege
of Mantua to be resumed.
Click on the image to see a larger view.
- Looking N from Guidizzolo toward Cavriana on the ridge, as
seen by S�rurier�s (Fiorella�s) Division.
- Coming over the ridge at Cavriana, Fiorella gained this extensive
view N into the Austrian rear.
- The Austrian and French starting positions, and the attack
of Marmont and Verdier against Monte Medolano. Positions copied
from Voykowitsch�s Castiglione 1796, p. 78. Mapsheet
Castiglione delle Stiviere, 48 III SO of Carta d�Italia
alla scala di 1:25000, Istituto Geografico Militare, 1969.
- The advance of S�rurier�s (Fiorella�s) Division into the Austrian
left rear, and the Austrian retreat. Positions copied from Voykowitsch�s
Castiglione 1796, p. 79. Mapsheet Cavriana, 48
III SE of Carta d�Italia alla scala di 1:25000, Istituto
Geografico Militare, 1969. This map adjoins the eastern edge
of the Castiglione delle Stiviere map.
Chandler, David G. The Campaigns of Napoleon London : Weidenfeld
& Nicolson; 1966.
Trani�, Jean and J.C. Carmigniani. Napol�on Bonaparte: La Premi�re
Campagne d�Italie, 1796-97 Paris : Pygmalion; 1990.
Voykowitsch, Bernhard. Castiglione1796 Maria Enzerdorf : Helmet
Military Publications; 1998.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: July 2001