A. Kotzebue. "Battle of Trebbia"
Plans of the parties. Disagreements between Suvorov and the Corvetteur
In a three-day battle by the Adda River, Suvorov’s army defeated Moreau’s French army. Remains of French troops fled to Genoa. 18 (29) April 1799, the year Suvorov solemnly entered Milan. Here he planned an offensive to the west, to invade France. But first it was necessary to defeat the army of MacDonald, and then finish off Moreau's troops.
Thus, the Russian commander decided not to pursue the defeated Moreau troops, believing that they now do not pose a threat. Most danger came from the Neapolitan MacDonald Army, located in Central and Southern Italy, which could strike the flank and rear of the Allied forces. The directory ordered Macdonald to assist Moreau, and at the end of April, French troops advanced from Naples and headed north.
Meanwhile, the plans of Alexander Suvorov increasingly diverged from the plans of the Austrian Gofkrygsrat (court military council). The Russian commander wanted first of all to destroy the French army in the field, thus freeing his hands for further operations. Therefore, I did not want to waste time and energy on the siege of strong fortresses. The allied army in Italy numbered about 100 thousand people. Suvorov had only 36 thousand soldiers under the command (18 thousand Russians and the same number of Austrians). The rest of the troops on the instructions of the Austrian high command were occupied by the siege of fortresses or were garrisons in the already captured cities, inactive. In particular, the General Edge with 20 thousand soldiers blocked Mantua, Peschiera and Ferrara. 4,5 thousand Latterman detachment (later reinforced by the Hohenzollern troops) was left for taxation of the Milan citadel; 4,5 thousand detachment Ott sent to occupy Pavia; Vukasovic with 8 thousand soldiers sent in the direction of Novara, behind the retreating French division Grenier; 3-thousand Prince Rogan's detachment moved along the shores of Komsky Lake, to the Tavern, etc.
Alexander Vasilyevich repeatedly tried to assemble the main forces of the allied army for a decisive offensive. However, the Vienna Council interfered with it. 1 (12) and 2 (13) May 1799, the Russian commander-in-chief received two emperor Franz rescripts, in which he was ordered to limit himself to hostilities on the left bank of the river Po and to take over the fortresses, first of all Mantua. The Austrian high command was particularly sharply opposed to Suvorov’s plan for the Allied forces march into France. Austrian generals had to report their actions to Vienna and receive orders from there, through the head of the Russian commander-in-chief. The Austrians shackled the initiative of the Russian commander, condemned to marking time and passivity. The allies lost time, allowed the enemy to come to his senses, go on the counteroffensive and intercept the strategic initiative. As a result, the war became protracted. Suvorov offered to end the war with one strategic operation, but he was not allowed to do that. In addition, the Austrians were irritated by the actions of Suvorov in the formation of the Piedmont national troops. The Austrian government planned to return Northern Italy under its authority, so the Italian national troops were potentially dangerous.
Commander of the French Neapolitan Army Etienne MacDonald
Continuation of the Allied offensive. Liberation of Piedmont
The instructions of Vienna were late, it was impossible to control an army in Italy from Austria, the corrugated fenisler only interfered with Suvorov. 20 April Allies marched from Milan to the River Po. The troops marched in two columns along the right bank of the Adda River: Russian units commanded by Rosenberg marched in the right, Austrians led by Melas (Ott, Zopf and Fröhlich divisions) in the left. A day later, the Allies approached the Po River. Thus, the Russian commander could act against the enemy troops in Piedmont and against the advancing Macdonald forces from the south.
Meanwhile, MacDonald's army (about 30 thousand people) very slowly moved north. In early May, the French were in Rome and reached Florence only 13 (25) in May. Moreau's army at that time recovered in the area of Genoa, expanded its ranks to 25 thousand soldiers. Moro's main forces were located between Valenza and Allessandria. This area is located at the confluence of the Po, Tanaro and Bormida, and the position of the French was very strong. The flanks were covered by the river Po, the fortresses of Valenza and Alessandria. From the front of the French closed the river Tanaro. Thus, the French troops closed the way to Piedmont from the east and into the Riviera through the Apennines.
Since the MacDonald army at this time did not cause concern, Suvorov decided to strike at Moreau and free Piedmont. From this area, there were roads to Switzerland and to France. On April 24 (May 5), the Russian commander directed Rosenberg’s corps along the left bank of the Po River to the Pavia region. The forward detachment under the leadership of Bagration, having crossed the right bank, was to occupy Voghera and conduct reconnaissance in the direction of Tortona. On the same right bank were the Austrians, who crossed the river at Piacenza. Ott's division was sent to Parma, to observe the enemy standing at Modena. On April 27 (May 8), the vanguards of Bagration and Karachai launched a siege on Tortona, which Suvorov considered "the key of Piedmont." April 29 (May 10) after the approach of the Zopf and Fröhlh divisions Torton with the help of local residents was able to take. A French squad (about 700 people) locked up in a citadel.
After that, Suvorov decided to go to Turin - the capital of Piedmont. Rosenberg was supposed to move to Borgo-Franco on r. By sending a detachment of Major General Chubarov with three battalions and one Cossack regiment to occupy Valenza. The avant-garde of Chubarov (1 thousand people) that crossed the 12 (3) in May was met by the divisions of Grenier and Victor. In the battle of Bassignano, advanced Russian forces were defeated. The losses of the Chubarov brigade in this battle reached 1,5 thousand people (Chubarov himself was among the wounded), French losses were about 600 people.
The French have not used this success. Moreau decided to leave Piedmont. He feared the strike of superior enemy forces, and did not expect reinforcements. 2 (13) May avant-garde under the leadership of Bagration took Novi. 5 (16) May allies defeated the French from Marengo. Here the division of Vktor collided with the Austrian division of Lusignan. The Austrians would have had a hard time, but Bagration came to their aid. After a stubborn battle, the French retreated, losing about 500 people. Our losses are about 350 people.
Moreau retreated over the r. Bormida Casale and Valencia were occupied by the troops of Miloradovich and Schweikovsky. Soon the Allies captured Alessandria, the French were blocked in the citadel. 14 (25) May columns under the command of Rosenberg and Melas approached Turin. The city was defended by the French Garrison of General Fiorella (3,5 thousand soldiers). The French offered to capitulate, but they refused. Artillery duel began. 15 (26) May allies again offered Fiorelle to fold weapon, he refused. The bombardment of the fortress was continued. At this time, the inhabitants of the city revolted, which local national troops. They let Russian-Austrian troops into the city. About a hundred Frenchmen were killed, two hundred were captured. The rest locked in the citadel. In Turin, large trophies were captured: around 300 guns, 20 thousand guns and a huge amount of ammunition.
Thus, the Allies captured Northern Italy. Without major battles, with minimal losses, the Allies occupied Piedmont. Great help Austro-Russian troops had the locals. The French kept only in Mantua, in the citadels of Tortona, Turin and Alessandria. Moreau's army, without engaging in combat, retreated to the Riviera, in the area of Genoa. However, the position of 120-th. the allied army was still complicated by the fragmentation of its forces. Edge Corps, reinforced to 24 thousand soldiers, continued the siege of Mantua. The Hohenzollern and Klenau detachments (about 6 thousand people), directed towards Modena and Bologna, were separated from the corps of the region. Ott with 6 thousand people was sent by Suvorov to Parma; 6-thousand the division of Povalo-Shveikovsky to Alessandria; Vukasovich with 6 thousandth avant-garde of the main forces located at Turin, located at Monkheieri and Orbassano; the units of Fröhlich, Sekendorf, and Lusignan had their tasks; the corps of Belgard went to Milan and Alessandria, etc. The Russian field marshal himself with the corps of Melas and the Russian division of Foerster (about 28 thousand people) remained in the region of Turin.
By his initiative, Suvorov caused yet another discontent of the Vienna court. In particular, the Austrian government was irritated by the restoration of the local Italian government - the Sardinian kingdom. The Austrians argued that in the territories occupied by the allied army there could be no other authority than the Austrian emperor. Gofkrihsrat handed over the supply of the Allied army passed to Melas, which narrowed the possibilities of the Russian commander in chief. All the proclamations and announcements after 16 May were issued not on behalf of Suvorov, but on Melas. The Austrian high command demanded that Suvorov concentrate all his attention on the siege of Mantua and other fortresses, the protection of already occupied territories.
MacDonald Army Offensive
After the capture of Turin, the main forces of Suvorov’s army were located in Piedmont. Suvorov developed a new strategic plan, which consisted of three simultaneous strikes against the enemy, Massena’s army in Switzerland, Moreau and Macdonald - in Italy. The army of Austrian Archduke Charles was to act against the French of Massena. Suvorov himself was aiming to defeat Moreau’s army in the Riviera. The troops were to launch an offensive from Turin and cut off the possibility of the French withdrawing to France along the coast. Against the troops of MacDonald, the commander-in-chief exhibited the Edge Corps, the detachments of Ott and Clenau. The total number of this group was to be 36 thousand soldiers.
However, the French also did not sleep and developed their plan of attack. Given the impossibility of transporting artillery along a bad coastal road and the lack of local funds to supply the army, the French abandoned the idea of joining forces in the coastal region. It was decided to combine the troops of McDonald and Moreau at Tortona. The main blow was delivered by the MacDonald army, advancing in the direction of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Tortona. Moreau's troops were to deliver an auxiliary strike from the south, diverting the main forces of the allies to themselves. In the event that Suvorov was heading with his army to MacDonald, Moreau should have attacked his rear. In order to distract the enemy, mislead him and ensure secrecy, false rumors were spread about the arrival of strong reinforcements by sea from France to Genoa, about the connection and joint performance of Moreau and Macdonald on Turin. Small French troops created the appearance of having serious forces west of Turin.
May 29 (June 9) MacDonald's 1799 of the year launched an offensive. French troops moved in three columns. The right column was advancing on Bologna, in its composition were the divisions of Montrishar and Ryuska. The middle column was on Modena, in its composition were the divisions of Olivier, Vatren and the brigade Salma. The left column attacked in the direction of Reggio, it was the division of Dombrowski. In total, MacDonald had about 36 thousand soldiers. By the end of the day 31 May (11 June), the French took the line Bologna - Formigine - Sassuolo - Vetsano. There they met the Austrian detachments of Ott, Clenau and Hohenzollern. The French had 14 thousand people, the Austrians 9 thousand 1 (12) June, the French attacked Modena against the Hohenzollern detachment, who, having lost to 1600 people, 3 banner and 8 guns, only thanks to the support of Klenau, was able to retreat from Po to Mantua. As a result, MacDonald discovered his way to Parma, where he moved in the morning on June 9, leaving Olivier and Montrishar's divisions to Modena, in order to observe Edge’s corps at Mantua.
Battle by the Tidone River
Meanwhile, the Russian commander-in-chief, having learned about the training of Moreau’s troops from Genoa, on May 29 (June 9) decided to concentrate the army on Alessandria. Leaving for the blockade of the citadel of Turin and securing the rear from the Savoy and the Dauphiné 8-th. Keim's detachment, Alexander Suvorov himself, after making 2,5 kilometers in 90 days, arrived on June 1 from near Turin to Alessandria. On this day, Suvorov had 34 thousand soldiers on hand. Soon the Belgard detachment arrived, which strengthened the Allied army to 38,5 thousand people.
After receiving news of the attack of the army of MacDonald, Suvorov decided to go forward and attack the most powerful enemy. Ott's detachment was supposed to detain the enemy, the Edge was instructed to strengthen Hohenzollern and Clenn to act in the rear of the French army. Bellegarde with 14 thousand corps remained with Alessandria to continue the siege of the citadel and fend off a possible attack by Moreau's troops. The Russian Field Marshal took 24 thousand people with him.
4 (15) June 1799, in 10 hours of the evening, after building a bridge over Bormida, Alexander Vasilyevich with 24 thousand soldiers quickly marched towards Macdonald. 5 (16) allies came out to Casteggio. Here the Russian field marshal issued an order: "Take the enemy army in full." On the night of June 6 (17), news was received that the detachment of Ott attacked the enemy from Piacenza and retreated beyond the Tidone River. Suvorov immediately came to the rescue and by 10 hours of the morning his troops reached Stradella. The French, trying to destroy the detachment of Ott, 6 (17) Jun attacked him at Tidone. MacDonald ordered the divisions of Montrichard and Olivier to join up with the main forces. The news of the battle forced Suvorov to continue the forced march, despite the exhaustion of the soldiers and the summer heat. The detachment of Ott at the decisive moment had time to reinforce the vanguard of Melas. Then Suvorov himself arrived with a part of the Russian troops and threw the enemy behind Tidone. In this battle, Suvorov had 14 - 15 thousand people, extremely tired by accelerated marches (troops passed 80 kilometers in 36 hours), against 19 thousand French. On the march of Suvorov to Trebbia, Moreau later said: "This is the pinnacle of military art." The French retreated to Trebbia, intending after the arrival of the two divisions, to attack the enemy again.
To be continued ...