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The Campaign in Italy, 1796-97: Mantova (Mantua)

Virtual Battlefield Tour

By Bill Peterson

Mantua, the greatest of the four fortresses of the "Quadrilateral" (the others being Peschiera, Verona, and Legnano) that dominated the area between the Alps and the Po, was the key to control of northeastern Italy and was bitterly disputed by the French and Austrians between 4 June 1796 and 2 February 1797. Each of the four successive Austrian offensives in July-August 1796, September 1796, November 1796, and January 1797 had the goal of relieving Mantua and reestablishing its communications with the Austrian heartland. The first French siege had to be lifted 31 July to permit the concentration of forces that won the battles at Lonato and Castiglione. The siege was resumed on 24 August. On 13 September Field Marshal W�rmser brought in a reinforcing column of 12,000 men, permitting a major Austrian sortie against the besiegers on 14-15 September, the Battle of San Giorgio. Another reinforcing column under Provera reached the northern suburb of La Favorita on 16 January 1797, where it was encircled and crushed. With no more hope of relief and provisions desperately low, the fortress capitulated on 2 February 1797, yielding over 13,000 prisoners and 500 guns. The map is a French map of the Siege of Mantua in June-July 1796, showing the major batteries and their fields of fire. Reproduced with the author's permission from page 15 of Castiglione 1796 by Bernhard Voykowitsch. This detailed and beautifully-illustrated volume is a must for anyone interested in the Italian Campaign of 1796-97. It can be ordered through the author's website: Helmet Publishing.

Click on any thumbnail image for a larger view.

    1. Palazzo della Ragione, Mantova.
    2. Palazzo Sordi (1680), Mantova.
    3. Porta Caddena, the water entrance to Mantova from Lago Inferiore, still used as a harbor for excursion and pleasure boats. Remains of the fortifications are visible.
    4. Porta Caddena.
    5. Looking east from Mantova over Lago Inferiore towrd the site of the Zipata batteries.


    6. Looking northeast from Mantova at the northern end of Lago Inferiore and the modern San Giorgio bridge.
    7. Palazzo Ducale, Mantova, looking northwest from the shore of Lago Inferiore.
    8. Palazzo Ducale (left), Castello San Giorgio (right), looking west from the shore of Lago Inferiore.
    9. The northeast corner of Castello San Giorgio, looking southwest from the foot of the San Giorgio bridge.
    10. Lago di Mezzo, looking north from Mantova.


    11. Castello San Giorgio, moat.
    12.West facade of Palazzo Ducale, on Piazza Sordello, the main square of Mantova.
    13. Mantova Citadella, main gate (built 1548), seen from outside.
    14. Mantova Citadella, main gate, seen from inside.
    15. Monument commemorating the execution of Andreas Hofer, Tyrolean insurrection leader, in the dry moat of the Mantova Citadella, 20 February 1810.


    16. View from the north shore of Lago di Mezzo, looking south toward Mantova. Castello San Giorgio is at center, San Giorgio bridge at left.
    17. View from Zipata (modern Cipata) looking west over Lago Inferiore toward Mantova. Porta Caddena is at far left.
    18. Map of the Siege of Mantua in June-July 1796.




Placed on the Napoleon Series: March 2001