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The Campaign in Italy, 1796-97: Mondovi

Virtual Battlefield Tour

By Bill Peterson

Having neutralized Beaulieu's Austrian army, Bonaparte turned to the second phase of his plan: Dealing a swift and crushing blow to the army of the Kingdom of Piedmont, with the goal of driving that nation out of the war. The Piedmontese General Colli executed a series of skillful withdrawals, eluding Bonaparte's traps. On 19 April 1796 S�rurier's division crossed the Corsaglia River and occupied the village of San Michele. Imitating the costly indiscipline of their comrades at Dego, S�rurier's starving men scattered in search of food. Colli organized a strong counterattack on 20 April, sweeping the French out of the village and back across the river with a loss of over 500 men.

On the night of 20-21 April Colli again withdrew, this time to the strong hilltop town of Mondovi. Determined to attack before Colli had time to organize its defense, "S�rurier put himself at the head of the central column, drew his sword, and led his troops at the double into the attack. The troops responded to this daring leadership, and advanced rapidly into the town against ineffective and patchy defences. The momentum was kept up, and the Piedmontese, bluffed into thinking the French were being reinforced, were hustled out of the town." (Rooney, David D., "The Virgin of Italy: S�rurier" in Chandler, David (ed.), Napoleon's Marshals.)!

The Piedmontese lost 1800 men, 4 generals, 11 standards, and 8 guns at Mondovi. Their morale broken, the Piedmontese opened negotiations for an armistice, which was signed on 28 April, 1796.



Click on any thumbnail image for a larger view.

(Left to right)

  • The Corsaglia River and San Michele.
  • View from the walls of Mondovi toward the southeast.
  • View from the walls of Mondovi toward the south. S�rurier's columns advanced from this direction and assaulted the south and southeast entries into the town.
  • Aerial view of Mondovi.
  • Parade in Mondovi commemorating the 21 April, 1796 battle.




    (Left to right)

  • A romantic view of the battle of Mondovi








    Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2001