« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Address of the Directory to the French Armies.-Determination to carry the War into Italy. Difficulties to be encountered in carrying this Plan into Execution.-Buonaparte.-The French Army, under his Command, makes rapid Progress in Italy.-The Austrians, under General Beaulieu, constantly repulsed, yet not dispirited.-Various Actions.-Suspension of Arms agreed on between the French and Piedmontese Armies.-General Beaulieu re-crosses the Po, for covering the Countries to the North of that River.-At Paris, Negociation for Peace between the King of Sardinia and the French Republic.-Treaty of Peace between France and Sardinia ratified by the Legislative Bodies of France.-Exultation and Confidence of the French.-Improved by Buonaparte, for the Purpose of leading on the Army to farther Exploits.-Address to the Army.-General Object and Tendency of Buonaparte's private Conversation.-Homage paid to the Merit of Buonaparte, and the Army, by the Directory.-Buonaparte puts his Army in Motion.-Crosses the Po, and leaves General Beaulieu to break up his Camp.-Armistice between the French Army and the Duke of Parma. -The French advance toward the Capital of Lombardy.-Battle of Lodi. -The Austrians retreat to Mantua.-The French proceed to Milan, where the French General allows his People some Days of Repose.
HILE the armies of the reWHI public were successfully employed in suppressing those internal commotions, the directory was anxiously taken up with the plans that were to be prosecuted, as soon as domestic difficulties were overcome. In the end of April, they thought themselves so completely delivered from all apprehensions at home, that they began immediately to turn their attention to those two undertakings, on the fortunate termination of which the future security of the republic would be established beyond the possibility of being shaken by any external force.
The events of the last campaign had been so different from those of
the various exploits they had performed in the two foregoing years, the patience with which they had borne not only the hardships of the field, but the pressures of want, and the privation of every convenience and comfort, and the invincible for titude with which they had persisted, amidst all these difficulties, to discharge the duties of brave soldiers. It exhorted them to persevere as they had done: fresh toils and victories were expected from them by their country, before its enemies would consent to reasonable terms of peace. It held out the most flattering hopes of success; and that they were at the eve of terminating their patriotic labours, the issue of which would procure safety to their country, and glory to themselves; who then would return to its bosom, to enjoy the love and gratitude so justly due to them from their fellowcitizens, and so nobly earned by their services.
This address was sent to all the military bodies of the republic, and read to them with great solemnity. It was received with much respect and satisfaction. The officers and soldiers formally renewed their assurances of fidelity to the republic, and their readiness to lay down their lives in its defence.
The object which the directory had now chiefly in contemplation was to carry the war into Italy. The Austrians were prepared to pass the Rhine in great force: the attachment of the Belgians to their French conquerors might waver; the fate of another campaign was uncertain; much was to be lost, nothing gained, in the Netherlands, by an appeal to arms, on a question, which, if the authority of the republic should be confirmed by the
lapse of even a few years, they might
Among these multitudes there were some individuals resolute enough to declare their dissatisfaction at their respective governments, notwithstanding the personal dangers to which they exposed themselves by so daring a conduct. But what was more, some had the courage to entertain a pri vate correspondence with France, and explicitly to solicit some of the principal persons in the republic to invade Italy, where, they assured them, they would find more friends than foes among the natives, and meet with no opposition but from the Austrians, and their few adherents, among the possessors of
places and employments in their
Induced by these various motives, the directory resolved to begin military operations abroad, with the attack of a country, where the princes, one excepted, the king of Sardinia, could place little reliance on the loyalty of their subjects; and where this prince had already lost such a portion of his territories, as greatly endangered the remainder.
Nevertheless, obstacles of a serious nature presented themselves. The undertaking was, indeed, arduous; Italy,proverbially the grave of the French, was viewed by the generality of people as unconquerable on the side of France. Environed by mountains, the passes of which were fortified with the utmostart, and guarded with numerous well-disciplined troops, it seemed calculated for an invincible resistance. The French, after reducing many forts and fortresses in the heart of the Alps, had not been able to make an effectual impression on Piedmont, without which an entrance into Italy appeared impracti. cable. The powers interested in the preservation of Italy,aware of the hostile intentions of France, had made ample preparations for defence. The emperor's forces amounted to eighty thousand well-disciplined men, commanded by excellent officers and generals, and provided with every species of warlike necessaries. The king of Sardinia's army was sixty thousand strong, exclusive of militia. The pope and the king of Naples were occupied in embodying as many troops as their circumstances would permit; and the latter had dispatched two or three
thousand horse to serve in the Imperial army.
Though the strength with which the French proposed to attack their enemies in Italy was much inferior in number to theirs, and far from being so well supplied, it was com posed of hardy and resolute soldiers, filled with enthusiasm, and impa tient to enter into action, and to indemnify themselves for the sufferings they had undergone upon the rocky and barren coast, to which they had long been confined, through want of reinforcements to enable them to move forward against the enemy.
The supplies of men and ammunition did not arrive till the begin ning of April, when the French determined immediately to commence their operations. They were cantoned along the coast of that sea, called the river of Genoa, within three leagues of that city; and the Austrians and Piedmontese were posted on the mountains opposite to them.
The French were commanded by general Buonaparte, already noticed in the action between the conventional troops and the sections of Paris,* in October, 1795, a native of Corsica, born, as it were, a com mander, and uniting the intrepidity of an ancient Roman, with the subtilty and contrivance of a modern Italian; and both these fortified and improved by a liberal, as well as military education. Hardly thirty years of age, he had signalized his military abilities, not only on that but some other very decisive occasions, and acquired a reputation that had raised him to the highest degree of esteem in his profession,
See Vol. XXXVII, Page 106.
The troops under his command were little more than fifty thousand men but he possessed their entire confidence, and was reputed equal to the arduous task he had ventured to undertake.
The Austrians were under general Beaulieu, an officer of great experience and talents, though he had been unfortunate in several actions with the French in the Ne therlands. On the ninth of April heattacked a French post and forced it on the tenth he advanced upon them, and carried all their entrenchments but onc. Here he was arrested by the obstinate bravery of the officer who commanded it. Rampon, chief of brigade, who conceived that the fate of the day depended on the preservation of this post, made his officers and soldiers swear never to abandon it. They defended it accordingly during the whole night with such invincible firmness, that the Austrians were constantly repulsed. In the morning of the eleventh, Buona parte, by a circuitous movement, fell upon the rear and flank of the enemy, who were completely routed, with the loss of fifteen hundred killed, and more than two thousand taken. This battle was fought at a place called Montenotta.
Eager to improve this victory, Buonaparte pursued the Austrians, who had retreated to a strong position at a place called Millesimo: but general Augereau forcing the passages leading to it, the Austrians retired to the ruins of an old castle, which general Provara, who commanded them, hastened to surround with an intrenchment, where be stood several attacks, and defended himself resolutely for five days. This afforded time to the Austrians to
rally from the disorder into which they had been thrown. They advanced in considerable force, and charged the French with great vigour. The dispute was long and bloody the Austrians and Piedmontese made repeated efforts to liberate the troops in the castle, and directed their attacks on the centre of the French: but these stood their ground immoveably, while their two wings turned the right and left of the adverse army, the rear of which was assailed at the same time by another division. Surrounded in this unexpected manner, they sustained a dreadful defeat; two thousand were slain in the action, and upwards of eight thousand made prisoners, including the corps under general Provara, which had so much distinguished itself by the defence of the castle. This great victory was obtained on the fourteenth of April. Among the killed were some officers of high distinction; and of the taken one was a general, and near thirty colonels, beside inferior officers. Between twenty and thirty cannon fell into the bands of the French, with fifteen standards, and an immense quantity of stores and field-equipage. Two French generals, Banal and Quanin, fell in this battle, which cost the victors a number of their bravest men.
Though twice defeated in so decisive a manner, general Beaulieu was by no means dispirited: collecting as many of his scattered troops, as formed a body of seven thousand men, he again attacked the French with great impetuosity, the next morning, and drove them from their incampment at a village called Dego, where they had expected to repose themselves after the fatigues of the preceding day. This
unexpected attack, so far discomposed them, that they were thrown into disorder, and compelled to abandon their post, after having thrice endeavoured to retake it. More than half of the day had been spent in these fruitless attempts, when Buonaparte, anxious to recover a post, without which, the advantages gained by his two victories would have been frustrated, immediately gave orders for a large body to form in front of the enemy, and occupy their attention, while another charged them on their left, posted at Dego. The intrepidity with which the French generals and officers headed their men, decided the fate of the day. After a vigorous defence, the Austrians were in their turn obliged to give ground, and leave the field to the French, with the loss of near two thousand men, of whom, about fifteen hundred were made prisoners on the side of the French, numbers also fell, and among these general Caussa, one of their best officers.
Thus, in the space of five days, no less than three battles were fought, in every one of which the French were victorious. The Austrian and Piedmontese armies had,in the course of these engagements, been separated from each other: which enabled Buonaparte to effect a junction with a considerable body of his army, before which the Piedmontese division had retired, not daring to oppose it in combination with the corps under general Augereau who had joined it. After dislodging the Piedmontese from their redoubts, at Montezimo, this officer followed them to their camp before the town of Cava. It was strongly fortified, but Augereau attacked it with such vigour, that, after defending it the whole day
with great courage,the Piedmontese withdrew in the night of the sixteenth, abandoning Cava, which surrendered to the French. After some retrograde motions, wherein they were closely pressed by the French, who met however with some checks, a general engagement took place near Mondovi on the twenty-second. General Colli, who commanded the Piedmontese, had drawn up his army to great advantage; his centre being covered by a strong redoubt, which was resolutely defended for a long time against all the efforts of the French, who lost numbers in its attack. It was carried at length after repeated assaults: upon which general Colli thought it prudent to retreat. His loss amounted to about twelve hundred men, of whom a thousand were taken. Of these, three were generals, and four colonels. One general was slain, and eleven standards fell into the hands of the French, who lost also one of their generals, and a considerable number of men.
The Piedmontese army, after its defeat, crossed the river Stura, and took a strong position between Coni and Cherasco. Here it was attacked, on the 25th, by the French, who compelled general Colli to retire from the post he occupied at Fossano. They made themselves masters of Cherasco, where they took a quantity of cannon and large magazines, and the Piedmontese withdrew to Carignano, in order to be nearer to Turin, for its protection against the French army, which was now advanced to within nine leagues of that city.
The defeat of his army, at Mondovi, had already determined the king of Sardinia to make overtures of peace to Buonaparte. General