Military Review

"Lure!" How Suvorov destroyed MacDonald's army

During the three-day battle of Trebbia, the Suvorov wonder-heroes destroyed the Neapolitan army of Macdonald. After the defeat of the French, Russian-Austrian troops marched against the Italian army of Moreau, but he managed to retreat to the Genoese Riviera.

"Lure!" How Suvorov destroyed MacDonald's army

“Lure!” (Suvorov at the Battle of Trebbia). Artist E. O. Burgunker

The location of the troops of Suvorov and McDonald

On the night of 7 (18) June 1799, the Russian-Austrian troops rested. Those who fell behind on the march approached and joined their units. According to Bagration's report to Suvorov, fewer than 40 people remained in companies, the rest fell behind during an amazing march (80 kilometers per 36 hours). Most of the soldiers pulled up at night.

Russian field marshal thought out a plan of attack. Suvorov, as always, was preparing to attack. In the center and the left wing of the French, the Austrians were bound. On the right wing, the Russians were to overturn the French, to go to the flank and rear. The main attack was delivered by the troops of Rosenberg (15 thousand soldiers) on the front of Casaligio - Gragnano. Austrian troops under the command of Melas struck an auxiliary blow to Piacenza. They attacked in three pillars: the right - the division of Bagration and the division of Povalo-Shveikovsky, the central - the Russian division of Forster, the left - the Austrian division of Ott. The reserve was the Austrian division of Fröhlich.

Thus, the main attack on the front in 3 km was inflicted by the main Russian forces and part of the Austrians (about a total of 21 thousand fighters). An auxiliary strike was inflicted by the Austrian Ott Division (6 Thousands of Soldiers) at the front in 6 km. The Russian commander-in-chief was planning to overturn the main forces of the enemy and press them against the river Po, cutting off the French from the routes of withdrawal to Parma. The balance of power was in favor of the enemy (30 thousand allies against 36 thousand French). But this superiority of the enemy was destroyed by the Russian commander with the help of the concentration of the most combat-ready units (Russians) in a narrow sector of the front. That is, Suvorov sought excellence in a separate direction. Suvorov deeply echeloned troops in the direction of the main attack. The attack was launched by the vanguard of Bagration and the division of the Foerster; behind them, at the distance of 300 steps, the Schweikovsky division and the dragoons advanced, in the third line was the division of Fröhlich. The main forces of the cavalry were located on the right wing.

The French, after an unsuccessful battle on Tidon, decided to wait for the arrival of the Olivier and Montrishar divisions, which were supposed to come in the afternoon of June 7. With their arrival, MacDonald gained an advantage in power - 36 thousand bayonets and sabers. Before the arrival of two divisions, MacDonald decided to limit himself to active defense. In addition, at this time, the Moro army, in the rear of Suvorov, was to go on the offensive in the direction of Torton. This put the Allied army between two fires. Therefore, MacDonald decided to 7 Jun to keep the defenses along the line of the Trebbia River and in the morning of 8 Jun to go on the offensive with all his might. As a result, the French command ceded the initiative to Suvorov, which was very dangerous.

Beginning of the Battle of Trebbia

The offensive of the Russian-Austrian forces began on the 10 7 (18) June 1799 hours. The avant-garde of Bagration attacked the division of Dombrowski near the village of Casalidjo and pressed the enemy. MacDonald threw divisions of Victor and Ryuska into a dangerous direction. A stubborn battle ensued, the advanced forces under the leadership of Bagration were in a dangerous position. They were attacked by superior enemy forces. However, the Russian soldiers survived until the approach of the Schweikovsky division. Fierce lasted for several hours, as a result, the French gave way and began to retreat beyond the river. Trebbia.

In the center was also a fierce battle. Forster's troops overthrew the enemy at Gragnano and occupied this village. However, at this time, the divisions of Olivier and Montricere began arriving to help the French. The first arrivals of Montrishar were immediately thrown into battle at Gragnano. But the Russians fought so fiercely that the French broke and fled for Trebbia. Thus, during the stubborn battle, the right and middle columns overturned the enemy, and the French fled for Trebbia.

The moment was extremely favorable for the development of success. For this, the Russian commander-in-chief planned to throw a reserve into the attack — the Fröhlich division. She was supposed to stand behind the middle column. But she was not there. The commander of the Austrian troops, General Melas, who was instructed to send a division to the right flank on 6 in the evening of June, did not comply. He feared a strong onslaught of the French on his troops and reinforced Ott’s troops on the left wing with the Fröhlich division. On the left flank, the Austrian divisions of Ott and Fröhlich (12 thousand) had complete superiority over the French brigade from the Salma division (3,5 thousand people). The Austrians effortlessly developed the attack on San Nicolo and threw the enemy behind Trebbia.

Thus, 7 Jun did not succeed in completing the turn of the battle in favor of the allies because of the mistake of Melas. The battle dragged on, until late at night the battle on the right wing continued. The French organized a strong defense across the Trebbia River and repulsed all the Allied attacks, preventing the river from crossing. By midnight the battle subsided. The Allies took up, knocked out the enemy for Trebbia. However, the French were not defeated and were ready to continue the battle. Moreover, now their position has strengthened. If the Allies involved almost all the forces in the 7 offensive of June, then the French had whole divisions of Vatren, Olivier and Montrishar.

Both sides were preparing for a decisive offensive.

Suvorov decided 8 June to continue the offensive. The offensive plan remained the same. The main attack was on the right flank by the main Russian forces. The field marshal again ordered Melas to transfer the Frölich division or the Prince Liechtenstein cavalry to the Ferster middle column.

Meanwhile, the French command also decides that the time has come for a decisive offensive. MacDonald formed two shock groups and decided to throw all available forces into the attack. The right-wing group consisted of the troops of Vatren, Olivier and Salma (up to 14 thousand soldiers). They were supposed to surround and defeat the Austrians in the Saint-Niccolo area. The division of Salma was to hold down the enemy from the front, the division of Vatren was to go around the left flank, the Olivier division to attack the right flank of the Austrians. In the left strike group included divisions of Montrishar, Victor, Rusk and Dombrowski (total 22 thousand fighters). They were to encircle and destroy the enemy troops (Bagration and Povalo-Shveikovsky) in the area of ​​Gragnano and Casaligio. The troops of Montrishar, Victor and Ryuska attacked in the center, and the division of Dombrowski was to bypass the right flank of the Russians from the south.

Thus, the MacDonald army had a numerical superiority on both wings, it was especially noticeable on the southern (8 thousand people). At the same time, the enemy did not know where the French were delivering the main blow. And on each flank, part of the French went around the enemy troops. MacDonald planned bilateral flank coverage of the enemy grouping, its environment and destruction. However, the front was long, and the French did not have a strong reserve to back up the first success or to counter the sudden move of the enemy. It is possible that MacDonald hoped that the offensive of Moreo’s army in the rear of Suvorov’s troops would cause disorganization and disintegration of the allied army.

The Battle of Trebbia Picture by an unknown author. 1799 year

8 (19) June 1799 Counter Battle

Around 10 o'clock in the morning 8 June, the Russian commander-in-chief ordered the troops to be built into battle formations. Meanwhile, the French themselves went on the attack along the entire front. The division of Dombrowski forced Trebbia at Rivalta and attacked the right wing of Bagration's detachment. At the same time, the troops of Viktor and Ryuska attacked the Schweikovsky division, and parts of Montrishar — Furster’s division at Graniano. The French advanced in several columns. Between them the cavalry moved in front, the arrows scattered. The attack was supported by artillery, located on the right bank of the Trebbia.

Suvorov, who was in Casalidjo, ordered Bagration to attack Dombrowski. Poles, rebels, and fugitives from Poland who hated Suvorov and the Russians served in his division. They fought desperately, bravely. But this time the Poles were cruelly beaten. From the front, Russian infantrymen hit the bayonets; from the flanks, the dragoons and Cossacks flew at the enemy. The enemy could not withstand the rapid impact and with heavy losses was thrown back for Trebbia, having lost only about 400 prisoners. The division of Dombrowski as a combat unit ceased to exist. For three days of fierce fighting from 3,5 thousand fighters in the ranks left only 300.

At the same time, the brutal battle of the Schweikovsky division with two enemy divisions was in full swing. 5 Thousands of Russian soldiers were attacked by 12 Thousands of French. Ryuska's division struck the Russians on the open right flank and stepped them to the rear. Exhausted by marches, battles and heat, the fighters wavered. A critical moment has come in the battle. The Russian division began to retreat under the onslaught of the superior forces of the enemy. Rosenberg suggested that Suvorov retreat. The Russian commander, exhausted by the heat, lay on the ground, in one shirt, leaning against a huge stone. He told the general: “Try to move this stone. You can not? Well, just can not retreat. Allow me to hold tight and not step back. ”

Suvorov rushed to the battlefield, followed by a detachment of Bagration. Having approached the troops of Shveikovsky, the Russian genius of the war attached himself to one retreating battalion and began shouting: “lure them, guys, lure ... shibcha ... run ...”, and he rode ahead. After making two hundred steps, he turned the battalion and threw it into a bayonet attack. The soldiers cheered up, and Suvorov rode on. The sudden appearance of the Russian commander on the battlefield had a tremendous impact on the Suvorov miracle heroes. About the words of eyewitnesses, as if a fresh Russian army had arrived on the battlefield. The retreating and almost defeated troops cheered up and rushed at the enemy with new forces. The fighters of Bagration hit the flank and rear of the Ryusk division, and so quickly that the enemy was confused and stopped. Joint attacks of the troops of Povalo-Shveikovsky and Bagration led to the defeat of the French. The enemy ran for Trebbia.

The stubborn battle also boiled in the center, here Förster's division attacked Montrishar. The Russians fought off with bayonet attacks, but nevertheless they were oppressed. At a difficult moment from the north came the cavalry of Liechtenstein. It was a reinforcement, which, at the request of the commander-in-chief, Melas finally sent to the center of the position with a delay. With the move, Austrian cavalry struck the enemy’s flank. The French trembled and retreated across the river.

On the left flank, the Austrians broke under the onslaught of the French and began to retreat. However, Liechtenstein's cavalry returned to the left wing and struck a flank attack on the enemy. The case has been rectified. The French were pushed back across the River Trebbia. By evening, the French everywhere were defeated. Attempts by the Allies to force the river were repelled by the French with artillery fire.

Battle of Trebbia

The death of the French Neapolitan army

Thus, in the beginning it seemed that the battle ended as well as 7 June. The French were defeated and retreated across the river, but retained their positions in Trebbia. Suvorov was determined and in the morning of the next day he was going to attack again. However, it quickly became clear that the French army was crushed and no longer able to fight. On the left flank of the French army, Russian with bayonet attacks crushed the main forces of MacDonald's army. The condition of the French troops was deplorable, their morale dropped: more than half of the personnel for three days of fighting were out of action (only 8-th on the battlefield left 5 thousand people), more than 7 thousand people were injured; Dombrowski's division was destroyed; the commanders suffered heavy losses - the commanders of the divisions of Ryusk and Olivier were seriously injured, Salm was wounded; thousands of people were captured; artillery ran out of ammunition. As a result, on the French military council on the night of 9 (20), the generals stated that the army was in terrible condition, it was impossible to accept a new battle. It was decided to retreat. On the same night, the French took off their positions and began to go to the River Nour. They left the wounded, and they were taken prisoner. Several cavalry squadrons were left in positions to support camp fires and to pretend that the French army was in place.

Early in the morning the Cossacks discovered that the enemy had fled. Upon learning of this, Suvorov ordered the immediate prosecution. In his order, he noted: “When crossing the river Trebbia, strongly beat, drive and destroy with cold weapons; but the obedient pardon is confirmed ... "(i.e., spare). The Allies marched in two columns: the troops of Melas Melas on the road to Piacenza, Rosenberg to St. Giorgio. Reaching Piacenza, the Austrian general stopped the army to rest, sending only the Ott division to the pursuit. The Austrians reached the Nura River and stopped there, sending only light cavalry for pursuit. The Russians, led by Suvorov, continued to drive the enemy alone. In Saint-Giorgio, they caught up and defeated a half-brigade from Victor's division, captured more than 1 thousand people, took 4 guns and the whole train. Russian continued to drive the enemy almost all night. In total, the Allies captured several thousand people during the pursuit.

As a result, the Macdonald Neapolitan army was destroyed. During the three days of fighting, the French lost 18 thousand people killed, wounded and captured. Several thousand people were captured during the persecution; others fled. The total losses of the French amounted to 23 - 25 thousand people. The remnants of MacDonald's troops joined the Moreau army. The total losses of the allies in the battle of Trebbia amounted to more than 5 thousand people.

Moro's Italian army 9 June attacked the Belgard corps and pressed it. This Russian field marshal learned 11 June. The next day, the Allied army went to beat Moreau. Soldiers moved at night, as there was a strong heat. By the morning of June 15, the Suvorov troops approached St. Giuliano. However, Moreau, having learned about the defeat of MacDonald’s army and Suvorov’s approach, immediately retreated south to Genoa.

In Vienna and St. Petersburg were jubilant about the decisive victory of the troops of Suvorov, in France there was great sorrow. The sovereign Pavel granted his portrait to Suvorov, set in diamonds, sent a thousand insignia and other awards to the army.
Articles from this series:
Italian campaign of Suvorov

Why was Suvorov in Italy
Italian campaign of Suvorov
Victory of Suvorov on the Adda River
Victories of the Russian army in Italy

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
    Kote Pan Kokhanka 10 June 2019 05: 14
    Small bloopers spoil the article ...
    Thus, the main blow at a front of 3 km was delivered by the main forces of the Russians and part of the Austrians ( only about 21 fighters ).

    Probably still "about 21 thousand."
    And so on in the text ...... hi
    1. Phil77
      Phil77 10 June 2019 06: 31
      Greetings to you, Vladislav! Well, of course, a typo, it happens. But still, it’s damn sorry that Suvorov did not live until 1812! How would everything happen with his participation ?! hi
  2. IGU
    IGU 10 June 2019 09: 21
    I wonder which talent of Suvorov is more important - a commander or "creator" of the miracle of heroes?
    Article plus. I read it in one go.
    1. Eug
      Eug 24 July 2019 17: 05
      I would not oppose the concepts of "commander" and "creator of miraculous heroes." As for me, Suvorov managed to brilliantly unite both.
  3. Hagakure
    Hagakure 10 June 2019 09: 29
    About Alexander Vasilievich, you can read endlessly ...
  4. Theodore
    Theodore 10 June 2019 19: 30
    In three days of fierce fighting, out of 3,5 fighters, only 300 remained in service.

    Of how many in the ranks? 3.5 digger?
  5. viking
    viking 10 June 2019 22: 17
    the funny thing is that the battle completely repeats what happened here between Hannibal and the Romans.