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SUE 41 i 







IN EUROPE FROM 1796 TO 1870 










A II High '■■• rem rved 




P E E F A C E. 

The subject-matter of the following pages has been 
compiled from a long series of printed and manuscript 
notes left by the late Major Charles Adams. 
c\ I have endeavoured to preserve in as unaltered a 

\)5 form as possible those abstracts of the great campaigns 
of history, on which his lectures, delivered at the Royal 
Military and Staff Colleges, during a period of many 
years, were mainly based. As far as it lay in my 
power, I have retained most of the lectures in their 
entirety, only making additions to them in places where 
distinct gaps occurred in the narrative, owing to the 
<C loss or obliteration of the original notes. But in some 
cases I have been compelled to extend those memo- 
randa which were so brief as merely to indicate the 
points on which the author purposed dwelling, and in 
other instances I have compiled from several accounts 
a history which should contain the most important 
points of each. 

In doing this I have been actuated by the sole desire 
of preserving intact Major Adams's style, expressions, 
and opinions ; and I have attempted, from a large 



quantity of material, to select the most useful of his 
"writings. The different campaigns have been con- 
nected together by a short summary of the principal 
events which occurred between them, so as to make 
the military history of the last eighty years somewhat 
continuous ; for it seemed to me that the necessarily 
brief accounts of the events recorded would possess 
more vital interest, and be less disconnected or isolated, 
if linked together by even so slight a chain. In this 
case, as in all others, when I have been compelled to 
introduce new matter necessary for continuity, smaller 
print has been employed. 

It will be observed, from the Table of Contents, that 
the operations examined are, with one exception, those 
in which the great Continental Powers only were en- 
gaged. But the author very strongly held that sub- 
jects for illustrative teaching should be selected on 
their own merits as examples of military art, and 
protested against the doctrine that " the school which 
advocates such a selection should be termed ' Continen- 
tal ' because the wars which they have examined and 
studied happen to have been fought out by the natives 
of France or Germany. Earnest students of war are 
as indifferent to the locality which favours their ex- 
amination as the surgeon is to the nationality of the 
body presented for dissection ; and the modest reply 
of King William of Prussia to Napoleon's compliments 
on the extraordinary efficiency of the German army on 
the day after Sedan shares the same view : ' Sire, my 
endeavour has been; during our long period of peace, 
to assimilate the experience of other more fortunate 


Major Adams strongly held the opinion that theo- 
retical training is of especial value to all soldiers, from 
the subaltern to the leader, as imparting additional 
interest and value to the share each must have in con- 
ducting the great operations of war to a successful 

In an article on the necessity in modern times for 
professional training, he said : — 

" I fully share the views held by the Marquis cle Feuquieres 
on this question, as long ago as 1736. These were, that ' a 
young man, during his first, two or three campaigns, either 
from want of application or deficiency in penetration, is at a 
loss to understand the motive by which the movements of the 
generals under whom he serves are dictated. For this reason 
it has always been my opinion that he who understands the 
theory of war would be better qualified for reducing the 
theory to practice than he who is deficient in such prelimi- 
nary knowledge.' I can, from my own experience, fully sup- 
port this. I have been myself, for weeks together, in face of 
the enemy, on ground the topography of which I was utterly 
ignorant of, and, what is worse, unqualified, for want of pre- 
liminary training, to select the best means of mastering it. I 
have been for weeks employed with a single regiment, as a 
junior subaltern, in guarding the sole communications of an 
army, without recognising in the slightest degree the purpose 
of the employment. How much more zeal would have been 
enlisted in my own individual action had the military posi- 
tion been intelligible to me ; and, presuming my own case to 
belong to the rule, and by no means exceptional, how much 
more would the public service have benefited by accumulation 
of individual intelligence as opposed to that of individual 
ignorance ? " 

Occupying, as the late Major Adams did, the re- 
sponsible and important position of Professor of Mili- 


tary History at the Staff College, it is hoped that his 
analysis of the great campaigns of the century will be 
of value to those who care to study, in the history of 
former wars, those great principles on which a true 
appreciation of the requirements of military art can 
alone be securely founded. 


Royal Military College, 
June 1877. 


179G. Campaign in Italy — Montenotte. 
France v. Austria and Sardinia. 

1800. Campaign in Italy — Marengo. 
France v. Austria. 

1805. Campaign in S. Germany — TJlm. 
France v. Austria. 

1805. Campaign in S. Germany — Austerlitz. 
France v. Austria. 

180G. Campaign in N. Germany — Jena. 
France v. Prussia. 

1807. Campaign in Poland — Friedland. 
France v. Prussia and Russia. 

1813. Campaign in Saxony — Dresden. 

France v. Allies. 

1814. Campaign in France — Montmirail. 

France v. Allies. 

1815. Campaign in Belgium — Waterloo. 

France v. Allies. 

1849. Campaign in Italy — No vara. 

Austria v. Sardinia. 

1859. Campaign in Italy — Magenta. 
Austria v. France and Sardinia. 














Valley of the Po. 
Valley of the Danube. 
Northern Europe. 
Northern France and Belgium. 
Central France. 

. 341 


18GG. Campaign in Bohemia — Koniggratz. 
Austria v. Prussia. 

18GG. Campaign in Italy — Custozza. ) ^ 

Austria v. Italy. > 

1870. Campaign in France — Gravelotte. [ 5 Qg 

Germany v. France. 



Introduction. — On the 7th March 1792, Leopold II., Emperor ot' 
Germany, died. He was succeeded by his son Francis II., who, on 
assuming the reins of government, expressed his determination to carry 
out his father's policy against France ; and the French Government, 
equally determined on hostilities, forced the King, Louis XVI., to 
declare war against the German empire. 

From this declaration sprang the long series of campaigns and battles 
which this book illustrates. The bitter feelings engendered by the 
desperate struggles of the period under review have borne fruit even 
to the last great war. It will be necessary, therefore, to summarise in 
the briefest possible way the events that led up to the first campaign 
examined, that of 1796. 

In the spring of the year 1792, the French armies of the North, the 
Lauter, the Rhine, and the Alps, took the initiative, and the first men- 
tioned invaded Belgium, then an appanage of the Imperial power. 
Prussia, a member of the German Confederation, united with Austria 
in publishing a haughty declaration espousing the cause, of the French 
King against his people ; and the Duke of Brunswick crossed the Rhine 
as generalissimo of the united armies. The advance into the Nether- 
lands was therefore checked ; but the 20th September saw the dawn of 
the great successes that were henceforth to shed a lustre on the French 
arms, in the victory of Valmy, on the Verdun-Chalons road, which, 
insignificant in itself, produced a wonderful effect on the minds of the 
French people, and the immediate result of which was the withdrawal ot 
the Allied armies behind the Meuse. 

At the same time some minor operations took place between a Sar- 
dinian force occupying Savoy, and the Army of the Alps, under Montes- 



quieu, further assisted by the " Army of Italy," which was despatched 
to Nice in the French fleet. 

The victory of Jemappes, near Mons, on the 6th November 1792, was 
followed by a further retreat of the Allies, a reoccupation of the Austrian 
Netherlands, and the advance of the southern theatre of war into the 
Rhine provinces. 

The first event of the year 1793 — an event, too, pregnant with important 
consequences, inasmuch as it brought England on the scene — was the death 
of Louis XVI. ; and this was followed by a declaration of war against 
Holland and Great Britain on the part of the new French Eepublic. 

The action taken by Charles VI. of Spain in protesting against the 
trial and condemnation of the King, was followed by the open assertion 
that the policy of France was " pour exterminer tous les rois de l'Europe," 
and finally by a declaration of war against Spain on the 7th March. 

Thus through the whole of this and the following year the armies of 
the Republic had to contend with enemies on every side. Every avenue of 
approach to France was guarded by a hostile army, but the tide of battle 
surged most violently on the plains of the Low Countries and in the 
valley of the Rhine, with, on the whole, indecisive results. Still the 
general imjirovement in the character of the French armies, the per- 
sistency with which they contended against enormous odds and not 
unfrequent reverses, the tenacity of purpose with which they unitedly 
followed out their aim as compared with the indecision, want of unity, 
and lack of energy of the Coalition, led to striking results. The 
British troops were withdrawn to England on the 12th March 1795. 
Prussia in the same month was the first to recognise the growing power 
of France by signing with her a treaty of peace ; and the Imperialists 
fell back on the defensive to Luxemburg and the Rhine. 

The French Republic had taken its place among the nations. 

The year 1795 closed with an offensive campaign on the part of the 
French leaders, which was so far ineffective that though the Austrians 
were somewhat successful, they proposed an armistice, which was gladly 
accepted by Generals Jourdain and Pichegru ; and the belligerents came 
to terms on the 1st January 1796, remaining inactive till the 1st June 
of the same year. 

During the autumn of 1795 the Army of Italy had also gained its 
slight successes. In November it had won after a hard contest the 
1 tattle of Loano, and with it the possession of the valleys leading on 
Turin marked by the Orba, Bormida, and Tanaro ; while the Alpine 
ridges and the Corniche Pass were also in the possession of the armies 
of the Republic. 

The year 1796 opened with a display of renewed activity on the part 
of the French Directory. To General Moreau was intrusted the Army 
of the Rhine, destined to invade Germany. Jourdain was still left in 
command of that of the Sambre and Meuse ; Kellerman commanded the 
Army of the Alps ; while to the Army of Italy was appointed the young 
general Buonaparte. 

The Allied forces there were composed of Sardinians and Austrians, 


under the supreme direction of General Beaulieu. Under him when the 
campaign opened were Colli, covering Ceva and Coni, and the Prince 
de Carignano the approaches from Savoy. 

Opposed to them was an army deficient of the commonest necessaries. 
The French troops were miserably provided with food and clothes, and 
the military chest was empty. In tents and camp equipage, magazines 
and hospitals, it was notoriously deficient. The cavalry were weak in 
numbers, and badly equipped and mounted. And yet it was this force 
that was, from its brilliant successes, to be the means of raising its young 
leader to imperial power, and by the spirit it infused into the French 
people, enable him to form those mightier armies which, for a time at 
least, changed politically the very face of Europe. 

The campaign of 1795 left the French in possession of the 
Riviera di Genoa, and of the Apennine crests. 
The French army consisted of seven divisions. 

La Harpe . 




Augereau . 



7000 \ = 43,000 men, with 60 guns. 

Macquard . 






The three first divisions at the commencement of the opera- 
tions to be described were in the Riviera di Savona, extending 
as far as Loano, the 1st brigade being at Voltri. 

The mountain-crests between the sources of the Bormida 
were occupied, and the most important points were in- 

Serrurier guarded the sources of the Tanaro with the cavalry 
in the Riviera, while Macquard and Gamier were posted in 
the valleys leading to the Cols di Tenda and Cerise to keep 
up communication with the Army of the Alps, which num- 
bered about 20,000 men under the command of Kellerman. 

A further detachment of 20,000 men occupied Provence and 
guarded the coasts. 

The Allied forces consisted of the main army under Beaulieu, 
32,000 strong, and that of Colli, composed of the Sardinian 
and Austrian contingents, 20,000 and 35,000 strong respec- 
tively, numbering therefore 87,000 men with 84 guns. The 
Austrians were further subdivided into a right and left wing 
under Artrenteau and Sebottendorf. 


Owing to sickness, however, the Allied strength was really 
reduced to 46,000— viz.: Colli, 20,000; Argenteau, 12,000; 
Sebottendorf, 14,000 

In the beginning of the year Colli formed the advanced- 
guard on the northern Apennine spurs, the Austrians being in 
cantonments along the Po and Adda until March. But early 
in April Argenteau was pushed forward into the valleys, thus 
replacing Colli, who contracted his line to the right, taking 
up a position at Ceva, Millesimo, and Maria! dio, with out- 
posts towards Garesio and flanking detachments towards Mon- 
dovi. Argenteau, in the valley of the Orba from Ovada to 
Cairo, occupied a line in which he could not concentrate to 
either flank in less than ten to fifteen hours, half of his com- 
mand only being with him when hostilities began, the rest 
still remaining on the Po. He stood across the ridges and 
valleys with his headquarters and three battalions at Tassello, 
the other fractions of his force being broken up into com- 
panies and detachments. 

Of the left wing at Pozzolo Formigaro, four battalions were 
pushed forward to Bochetta and tw r o to Campo Freddo, and 
a larger portion of the corps was still moving up from 

The relative position of the belligerents may be summed up 
as follows : — 

The French in the Riviera held the crests of the hill-range, 
in itself a bad position. Beaulieu, desirous of preventing 
undue extension of his force northward, watched the moun- 
tain line, with Colli supporting him by half Argenteau's 
division, the rest of the army remaining in Lombardy. 

Thus one half of his entire forces was posted in an extended 
line, the other half marching for concentration. 

Beaulieu had himself remained since the 27th March in 
Alessandria. The position he had selected was not in itself 
faulty if proper means of concentration were provided, or if 
arrangements had been made in case of attack for the advanced 
line to fall back on a selected position in rear. But this 
design was never contemplated, and, on the contrary, a deter- 
mination was evidenced to defend each locality that had been 
thus weakly occupied. 


Such was the state of affairs when hostilities opened. The 
offensive was taken by both armies. By the French, because 
they were unable to remain in the desperate position in which 
they were placed. Closed in between the mountains and the 
sea, their rear resting on the Mediterranean which was com- 
manded by the British fleet, with a single road for advance 
and thus a single line of communication, while their con- 
nection with their only base of supply lay on the left flank of 
the position held, immediate offensive action was imperative. 
Nor were the Allies much better off, for they occupied a line 
of seventy miles in length, with a series of detached posts 
along it, all equally endangered in case of brusque attack. 

But Buonaparte was thoroughly acquainted with the Apen- 
nines ; his experience in 1794 — experience most valuable in 
mountain warfare of so difficult a character — was of the 
highest importance; while Beaulieu, whose previous cam- 
paigns had been in vastly different regions, was totally un- 
acquainted with this form of war. 

The danger that menaced the new Army of Italy was evi- 
dent, and Napoleon left no stone unturned to enlist on his 
side every element of success. "Soldiers," said he, "voici les 
champs de la fertile Italie ; l'abondance est devant vous, 
sachez la conquerir : sachez vaincre et la victoire vous four- 
nira demain tout ce qui vous manque aujourdhui." 

It will be well to compare the plans of operations of the 
respective leaders before entering into the details of the suc- 
cess that followed the combinations of the French general. 
Beaulieu's intention was — 

To drive the French out of the Kiviera, to seize the 

Maritime Alps, to shorten his line of defence, and by 

gaining the sea-coast to communicate with the British, 

and eventually to harass the French in Provence. 

It is evident from this that the principles of sound strategy 

were not understood by Napoleon's adversary. He followed 

the sensuous view of affairs, and endeavoured to expel the 

enemy by the road by which he had arrived, for he recollected 

that, at this period especially, the Austrian generals were 

reatly dependent on the Aulic Council. 


Buonaparte had been ordered by the Directory, and felt 
himself equally inclined, to take the initiative and attack the 
enemy in order to relieve himself from his difficulty. View- 
ing the Allied army as stronger by one-third (which it was 
not), he saw that it could not be so quickly concentrated in 
the mountain district as to resist a sudden attack, owing to 
the absence of good lateral communication. Such would 
always be the case when the absolute passive defence of a 
mountain line is undertaken. Moreover, an allied army with 
divergent lines of communication has equally divergent lines 
of retreat. To his prescience early success promised repeated 

The political purpose of the Directory went hand in hand 
with the military objective. Their aims were — 
The separation of Sardinia from Austria, and 
An alliance with the former as a stepping-stone to future 
action in Italy. 

The military instructions to Buonaparte, therefore, were to 
fall on the Austrians and merely observe Colli at Ceva. 
Their theory was, after separation, to strike still at the largest 
fraction of the enemy. But it had to be modified by geo- 
graphical considerations ; and as Clausewitz clearly points 
out, a truer appreciation of the military situation was due to 
the genius of Napoleon when he elected to follow out his 
own more brilliant scheme rather than that of the Directory. 

On the 9th April, Buonaparte with the headquarters 
reached Savona from Nice by the Corniche road, and deter- 
mined at once to assume the offensive. He determined with 
the 3d division (between Savona and Loano) to cross the 
mountains lying between the sources of the Bormida. 

Here the Apennines join the Alps, the form or rather shapes 
of the mountains determining the limits of each range. He 
proposed with 25,000 men to strike at the joint which united 
the Allies, whilst the two detachments of Serrurier and 
Cervoni carried out flanking ©r containing duties at Voltri 
and Garessio in the valley of the Tanaro. 

At the very moment when this manoeuvre was about to 
commence, Beaulieu anticipated it, before even he had con- 
centrated his forces. 


Though Colli's experience of warfare in this part of Italy 
lent weight to his opinion— for he had been fighting there 
for two or three years — his plan of combined operation was 
rejected as too dangerous. He proposed with the main 
body of the Allied army, 38,000 men, to start in two col- 
umns from Ceva and Cairo against Loano, the centre of 
the French line, and break it there. The plan was good 
and safe ; but paltry considerations for Genoa, the desire 
to effect a union with Admiral Jarvis, and a reluctance to 
commence so decisive a manoeuvre, weighed more with the 
Austrian general than the correct opinion of his lieutenant. 
He feared to boldly assume the initiative before holding- 
all his forces well in hand; and this weakness was appa- 
rently due partly to the faulty information received from 
Genoa as to the condition of his opponents, and partly to 
the careless system of strategy then pursued by the Aus- 
trian leaders. 

On the 10th April, Beaulieu fought his first action at 
Voltri, and on the 15th and 16th his troops were still arriving 
at Acqui from Lombardy. His object was to attack Cervoni, 
while isolated, with ten battalions and four squadrons, and 
to roll up the French right with 8000 men. 

One column, Petton's, marching through Bochetta with 
some cavalry, advanced to Cornegliano ; the other, that of 
Sebottendorf, was detached against Cervoni's left by Campo 
Freddo, forcing him to retire during the night with some loss 
to the vicinity of Savona, where he joined La Harpe. 

Beaulieu in Voltri established communication with the 

On the 9th, Argenteau received orders to advance to Mon- 
tenotte and drive in the French pickets, with a view to 
bring the Austrian centre into more intimate connection 
with the left. He therefore concentrated six battalions or 
about 3400 men on the 10th, and moved at 3 a.m. the 
following day on Montenotte. The French outposts were 
driven in and they retired to Monte Legino, where they had 
thrown up some slight works ; and these, occupied by Bampon 
with two battalions, successfully opposed the Austrian advance 
during the day. 


But between 11 and 12 o'clock at night, 

Buonaparte advanced on Montenotte ; 

La Harpe on Monte Legino ; 

Massena up the Altare ; 

Augereau on Cairo (as a flanking detachment). 
La Harpe in front, assisted by Massena, who gained the 
Austrian flank unperceived, successfully attacked Argenteau, 
who, with a loss of 2000 men, with difficulty saving even 
700, retreated by Acqui on Spigno, thus separating himself 
from the reserves at Sassello and Dego. Augereau took no 
part in the action, and thus Massena and La Harpe alone 
brought 14,000 men to bear on the 3000 Austrians opposed 
to them. Beaulieu had meanwhile detached Wukassowich to 
the Monte Pajoli on the 11th, so as to reinforce Argenteau 
while he returned to Acqui ; but the force did not even reach 
Sassello until the 13th. 

On this date the position of the Austrian army was as 
follows : — 

7 battalions at Sassello. \ 

4 „ Dego. 

2 „ Moglia. > =15 battalions. 

1 „ Paretto. 

1 „ Molvigino. / 

The other seven battalions of the left wing were either in 
the Riviera or retreating to Acqui; three battalions were 
moving from Acqui on Spigno, and at the former place ten 
battalions were still concentrating. On the evening of the 
combat at Montenotte, the French were occupying the fol- 
lowing positions : — 

La Harpe towards Sassello. 

Massena „ Cairo. 

Buonaparte ,, Carcare. 

Augereau „ Millesimo. 

Serrurier in the valley of the Tanaro. 
Colli had taken no part in the actions of the 11th and 12th, 
and had been merely ordered to demonstrate. Provera had 
therefore, on the 12th, started from Salicetto to Cossaria, an 
old castle situated on the ridge which separates the arms of 
the Bormida, and had taken up a position there with 1800 


men. Buonaparte decided on attacking Dego with the united 
forces of Massena and La Harpe on the 13th, while he him- 
self turned towards Millesimo. But La Harpe was not yet 
sufficiently near Massena for combined action, and the latter 
merely reconnoitred the enemy on that day. On the other 
hand, Buonaparte dislodged Colli's left wing at Cencio, but 
Augereau's attack on Provera failed. 

Argenteau had retreated after his defeat to Paretto, where 
he received an earnest appeal for assistance from Boccavino 
at Dego ; but, feeling his own inability to render the required 
aid, he reported the matter to Acqui, whence he received 
orders from Beaulieu to strain every nerve to hold Dego some 
days longer, the detachment there having been reinforced 
by three battalions in order to cover the roads leading to 
Acqui. Colli at the same time was directed to operate 
against the enemy's left flank. 

Argenteau therefore ordered Wukassowich to march during 
the night of the 13th-14th from Sassello on Dego with 
five battalions. Such was the state of affairs at Dego on 
the 14th when Buonaparte turned against it. He had left 
Augereau at Cossaria, where he had, on the 14th, repulsed 
another attempt of Colli's to relieve Provera, who accordingly 
surrendered owing to want of provisions. 

This was the last result of the action at Millesimo, which 
had now cost the Allies nearly 3000 men. 

On the same day, the 14th, Buonaparte assaulted Dego. 
The defence was weak owing to the late arrival of the Austrian 
reinforcements; and the intrenchments were carried, many 
guns captured, and the garrison made prisoners of war. 

Argenteau, with the reinforcements, retired by Spigno to 

Wukassowich, owing to his having mistaken the date, did 
not start for Dego until late on the 14th, when receiving a 
second order he marched, reaching Dego early on the 15th. 
Though hearing that he was opposed by 20,000 French, he 
attacked them, taking the intrenchments and capturing 
nineteen guns. But in his estimate of the numbers in his 
front he had made an error. Not 20,000 but G000 soldiers 
were opposed to him, for Napoleon had already directed La 


Harpe and Augereau with Victor's reserve brigade to march 
against Colli. 

Massena reported his defeat, and made a vain effort to re- 
gain his position, so that Buonaparte, who was then in Carcare, 
recalled La Harpe and Victor to his assistance, and retook 
Dego late on the 15th. 

During these battles of the 14th and 15th at Dego, 20,000 
French were, in all, brought to bear against 4000 Austrians. 

Having secured this part of the field of operations, the 
Commander-in-Chief turned again against Colli. Wukasso- 
wich retreated to Spigno and Acqui. 

The Austrian loss in the above encounters had, according 
to Jomini and Clausewitz, amounted to nearly 10,000 men. 
This was doubtless an important result to gain ; but the latter 
author views it, on the whole, as but partially satisfactory, 
and by no means so decisive as one great victory, owing to the 
small effect these isolated defeats had on the morale of the 
Austrian army. 

On the other hand, the successes which the French had 
attained had been more easily gained than would have been 
the case had one great action been fought; for whenever they 
assailed the Austrians, the latter had from the beginning but 
little chance of victory, owing to their numerical inferiority. 

This had simply been the result of superior strategy. Beau- 
lieu commenced hostilities with 33,000 men, disposed in the 
following manner : — 

8000 against the French right. 
4000 „ „ centre. 

6000 in detached parts on the Apennine ridges. 
15,000 concentrating at Acqui. 

It is clear that such a disposition was only safe if the enemy 
remained passive. Determined offence on his part had not 
been considered in the Austrian plan of operations, and this 
miscalculation was consequently fatal. 

When disasters, the natural consequence of the false appre- 
ciation of the military situation, rapidly and speedily followed 
in the early days of the campaign, Beaulieu's first necessity 
was immediate concentration; and this could only be effected 
at Acqui. He should have started for Dego rather than Acqui 


on the 11 tli, in order to initiate the retreat of his front line, 
and at the same time sent similar orders to Colli, to concen- 
trate at Ceva and retire upon Mondovi, with a view to a general 
junction of the Allied forces in Piedmont. 

Buonaparte now turned to personally superintend the oper- 
ations against Colli. Massena was ordered with the three divi- 
sions of Serrurier, Augereau, and his own, to move on Ceva, 
while La Harpe covered the movement on the side of Acqui. 

Augereau had continued to press Colli's left after Provera's 
surrender, and thus arrived on the 16th before Ceva, where he 
was joined by Serrurier, who had advanced to meet him from 
the sources of the Tanaro. 

Colli stood with 15,000 men along the line Ceva-Mondovi, 
the Trench headquarters being on the 18th at Salicetto, with 
Victor at Cairo. 

On the 19th, Ceva was attacked and Colli's position turned ; 
but he retreated in time and in good order behind the Cassag- 
lia, where Buonaparte advanced against him on the following 
day, but in a somewhat hasty manner, and was accordingly 
repulsed with great loss. 

Five days had now elapsed since the last attack on Dego. 
Some decisive action on Beaulieu's part was naturally to be 
expected, and the French forces were somewhat dispirited both 
from exhaustion and repulse. 

The crisis in Buonaparte's scheme had arrived. Retreat was 
even more dangerous than advance, and a council of war held at 
Lesegno on the 21st determined on a renewed attack of the 
enemy's position on the 2 2d. 

But Colli feared to await the blow. Though he still had 
about 12,000 men in line, he probably considered his enemy 
to be twice or thrice his strength, and he could hardly hope, if 
his estimate were true, to renew his success against such great 
superiority. Neither did he wish in his present position to 
fight an action decisive of the campaign. His purpose, rather, 
was to gain time until concentration with Beaulieu could be 
effected. He determined, therefore, not to await attack, but 
to fall back on Mondovi, where he hoped to gain a few days 
for reorganisation, and, united afterwards with the Austrians, 
meet the enemy with greater chances of success. 


But he had mistaken the energy of his opponent. The 
French, overjoyed at finding no resistance, crossed the Cas- 
saglia and descended into the plains of the Ellero. 

Colli's rear-guard was overtaken and routed at Viro, and 
the French, pushing vigorously on, forced the position he had 
intended taking up, but which was not yet fully occupied, at 
all points, and the Sardinian general retired upon Fossano with 
a loss of 1000 men and 8 guns. The main object of Buona- 
parte's operations had been fully gained. The Allies had been 
decisively separated, and Colli's line of retreat was divergent 
from that of Beaulieu. Overtures of peace from the Sar- 
dinian Government ensued, and, while Napoleon still con- 
tinued to advance, the negotiations from Turin resulted in the 
withdrawal of Sardinia from the alliance; and a separate peace 
was concluded with her, by which the three fortresses of 
Coni, Tortona, and Alexandria were given up to the French 
as a material guarantee. 

The armistice terminated on the 28th ; and the result so 
far of the campaign had been to detach 40,000 men from the 
Coalition, and release Kellerman and the Army of the Alps 
from all immediate danger of attack. 

The Austrians under these circumstances retired behind the 



MARENGO, 1800. 

Introduction. — The early part of the Italian campaign of 1796 has heen 
described in the previous chapter, where the narrative terminates with 
the conclusion of the negotiations resulting in the separation of Sardinia 
from the alliance, and the retreat of the Austrians across the Po. The 
sequence of events in the Italian theatre of war up to the campaign of 
1800 is briefly as follows : 

1796. May 7th. — Beaulieu in position along the Sesia and Ticino. 

8th. — Napoleon, having echeloned his forces along the Po, passed the 
river at Valenza and Piacenza. Skirmishes followed at Fombio and 

10th. — The passage of the Adda at Lodi forced, and the Austrians retired 
behind the Mincio. 

30th. — The river crossed despite opposition. Beaulieu retreated into 
the Tyrol, and Mantua was besieged. 

June. — The early part occupied in securing the neutrality of Naples, 
Tuscany, and Papal States, and on the 29th the citadel of Milan sur- 

July. — Beaulieu superseded by Wurmser, who put the reinforced 
Austrian army in movement on the 29th, and divided it into two frac- 
tions under Quasdanovitch and himself, separated by Lake Garda. 
Napoleon recognised the opportunity afforded by the subdivision, raised 
the siege of Mantua, and defeated Quasdanovitch at Lonato on the 31st. 
Wurmser entered Mantua the same day. 

Aug. 2d. — Wurmser advanced to Castiglione. 

4th and 5th. — French victories at Lonato and Castiglione followed by 
retreat of the Austrians into the Tyrol. The Aulic Council sent General 
Lauer as chief of staff to the Austrian army, and by his advice a strong 
force was left in the mountains at the head of Lake Garda, and the main 
army was moved by the valley of the Brenta on Bassano for Legnago 
and Mantua. 

Sept. 2d. — Napoleon defeated the covering force at Rovaredo and 

5th. — Occupied Trento, and thence followed Wurmser down the valley 


of the Brenta, defeated him in a series of combats, drove him into Mantua, 
and re-established the blockade. 

The Austrian army, again reinforced, was now placed under General 
Alvinzi. The force in the mountain-passes of the Avisio and Upper 
Adige under Davidovitch was confronted by Vaubois ; the main army 
advancing from Gorizzia in Friuli, by Napoleon. The Austrians advanced 
on 29th October. 

Nov. 4th. — Alvinzi on the Brenta. Meanwhile Vaubois was checked 
at San Michele and Calliano, and retired finally on 8th and 9th to La 
Corona and Rivoli. 

6th. — Severe fighting on the Brenta. French retreated to Verona, but 
advanced again on the 11th. 

12th. — Indecisive battle at Caldiero, and retreat again to Verona. 

Position of the French was now very critical, and the army on the 
Adige was reinforced at the expense of that before Mantua. Napo- 
leon determined to cut the communication of Alvinzi with the Taglia- 

14th. — Divisions of Augereau and Massena crossed the Adige. 

15th. — Recrossed the river at Ronco. 

Then ensued the three days' battle at Porcil and Areola, when, after each 
battle on the 15th and 16th, Napoleon retired behind the Adige. But on 
the 17th — Alvinzi defeated, fell back, reaching Montebello on 18th, and 
thence retired behind the Brenta. 

Meanwhile Vaubois had been forced back to Peschiera, but Napoleon, 
leaving cavalry to pursue Alvinzi, drove the Austrian force into the 

1797. — The siege of Mantua was vigorously pressed until the end of the 
preceding year. The reorganised Austrian army advanced on the 7th 
January, sending a force under Provera to Padua and Legnago, while the 
remainder moved from Bassano and the valleys between Lake Garda and 
the mountains. 

Jan. 14th. — Battle of Bivoli, defeat of the Austrians, and retreat 
beyond the Drave. 

16th. — Provera defeated near Mantua, and a sortie from the garrison 

Feb. 2d. — Mantua capitulated. 

During the early part of this month the Archduke Charles of Austria 
took command of the disorganised Army of Italy. The Tyrolese popula- 
tion was roused to action, and the advanced posts of the army advanced 
to the Piave. On the French side, Joubert watched the Tyrol, and was 
directed to clear it of hostile forces, and join Napoleon by the valley of 
the Drave. 

March 10th. — The French advanced, and after a series of combats, a 
decisive result was gained on the 16th -21st, in the battles near the 

28th. — French army (except Joubert, &c.) concentrated on the Drave. 

April 9th. — The preliminaries of the treaty of Campo Formio agreed 
on at Leoben. 

MARENGO, 1800. 15 

During the remainder of this year, and during the whole of 1798, no 
military events of importance took place in Italy, except an unimpor- 
tant war between the Neapolitan troops under Mack and the French 
general Championnet, which resulted in the capture of Naples early in 
the following year ; but the close of 1798 saw the formation of the second 
Coalition, when Russia and Turkey made common cause with England 
and the German Empire against France. 

1799. — The Republic making the passage of Russian troops into the 
empire a casus belli, declared war on the 12th March. 

Melas, commanding the Austrians, was between the Tagliamento and 
Adige ; opposed by the French general Scherer. 

March 26th.— Fighting along the Adige resulting in French defeat. 
April 4th. — Battle at Magnano, followed by retreat behind the Mincio 
and Adda. 

15th. — Suwarrow arrived with a large Russian reinforcement, and 
assumed command. 

26th.— Battle of Cassano, French retreated, and Moreau appointed 
general of the army. 

May 11th and 16th. — Skirmishes at Mugarone and Marengo. The 
army of Naples, now under Macdonald, moved by Bologna and Piacenza, to 
unite with Moreau, which it did on the 14th June. 

June 18th. — Macdonald uniting with Victor's division (of Moreau' s 
force) checked on the Trebbia, was defeated on the 19th, and retreated 
into Tuscany, Victor's division moving up the valley of the Taro. 

20th. — Moreau attacked a detachment at San Giuliano under Belle- 
garde, but was finally obliged to retreat to the Genoa coast near Loano, 
where he was joined by the relics of Macdonald's army on the 17th July. 
18th. — Moreau appointed to the command of the Army of the Rhine, 
and Joubert to the Army of Italy. 

Aug. 9th. — The battle of Novi was fought and Joubert killed. Moreau 
reconducted the army to the mountain-passes over Genoa, and then departed 
for the Rhine. Championnet was finally appointed to the command of , 
the Armies of the Alps and Italy. 

On Nov. 4th was fought the action of Genola in which he was defeated. 
Some unimportant skirmishes occurred in addition, and Corri was captured 
on the 4th December, thus leaving Italy and the French armies there in 
much the same position as when Napoleon was first appointed to their 

The history of the other campaigns in this important era of military 
history need be but briefly told, inasmuch as they do not materially affect 
the campaigns in Italy of 1796-1800, which the preceding notes are 
designed to link together ; but they will be briefly summarised. 

1796 _The armistice between the French and Imperialists on the 
Rhine terminated on the 30th May. On this date hostilities recommenced. 
The battles of Altenkirchen, Wetzlar, and Ukerath in June, resulted in 
the withdrawal of Jourdain's and Kleber's armies, for Piehegru had been 
dismissed across the river. 


The army of the Upper Rhine under Moreau, to counteract the effect 
of this retreat, crossed on the 23d June. The affairs of Reuchen, Rastadt, 
Etlingen, Haslach, and Neresheim were, on the whole, favourable to the 
French, as the Archduke withdrew behind the Danube. 

In July Jourdain and Kleber resumed the offensive. Frankfort was 
captured, and the combat of Forcheim induced the Austrian to retreat 
behind the Naab on the 20th August. 

The Archduke Charles thereupon took command of this northern force 
at Amberg and Wurzburg in August and September, inflicted defeats 
which obliged Jourdain to recross the frontier. 

Meanwhile, Moreau won a battle at Friedberg on 24th August, but 
then retreated, fighting the battles of Biberach, Emmendingen, and 
Sliezen, recrossing the Rhine on 26th October ; and the Archduke laid 
siege to Kehl and Hunningen. 

1797. — The month of January saw the capture of these fortresses. 
Hoche (having superseded Jourdain) and Moreau crossed the Rhine on 
April, but the preliminaries of the treaty of Campo Formio, which had 
been signed at Leoben, put a stop to hostilities. 

1798 witnessed the French occupation of Egypt, and in 1799 war was 
again declared by France against the Empire ; the armies on the Swiss 
boundaries, Upper, Middle, and Lower Rhine being respectively com- 
manded by Massena, Jourdain, Bernadotte, and Brune. Jourdain 
advanced on the 1st March, and after the battles of Ostrach and Stockach 
(21st and 25th) retired behind the Rhine on 6th April, followed in turn 
by Bernadotte, who had invaded Germany at the same time. 

In the same month Massena entered Switzerland, where many minor 
skirmishes occurred, and on Jourdain's failure, obtained command of his 
force also. The actions at Frauenfeld, Winterthur, Zurichberg, were 
without much result, and the armies remained stationary until the 14th 
August, when the French took the offensive successfully ; and the left 
wing of the army under Massena crossed the Rhine at Mannheim on the 
25th, but retired again on the 14th September. 

By this time the successes of the Allies in Italy had apparently secured 
their occupation of the country. Suwarrow, with the Russian contingent 
of the army there, entered Switzerland by the St Gothard Pass on the 
23d August. But on the 25th September, Massena crossed the Limat 
and defeated Hotze and Korsakow at Zurich, forcing them to retire behind 
the Rhine. Turning on Suwarrow on the 26th September a series of 
combats occurred, after which the Russians retreated ; and on the 30th 
October Suwarrow withdrew the armies under Korsakow and himself 
from Switzerland and returned to Russia. 

While Massena thus held Switzerland, Lecourbe, appointed to the 
Lower Rhine Army, crossed the river on the 11th October ; but his opera- 
tions were without value, and he recrossed at Mannheim. 

Thus at the end of 1799 the position of the belligerents was, generally, 
as follows : — 

The Army of the Rhine and Danube (Switzerland) under Moreau, 
recalled from Italy, confronted by the Austrian general Kray. 

MARENGO, 1800. 17 

Army of the Alps and Italy under Massena, thus replacing Cham- 
pionnet, opposed by the Austrian general Melas. 

Peace reigned between Russia, Prussia, and France ; but Napoleon, 
.who had returned from Italy and been appointed First Consul, had failed 
in his negotiations for peace with the British Government, which had by 
liberal subsidies to the Austrian Government induced that power to con- 
tinue hostilities against the Republic. The British Envoy at Munich had 
further obtained the adherence of Bavaria and Wurtemberg to the new 
Confederation, and these powers had furnished contingents to the German 
army under Kray, while the army under Melas threatened Genoa, the 
sea-approaches to which were watched by a British fleet. 

Although the first campaigns of the war of the second 
Coalition had terminated decidedly in favour of the Allies, 
this success was considerably qualified by the results of the 
battle of Zurich, which secured to the French uncontested 
possession of Switzerland, and by the withdrawal of the 
Russian army from further share in the war. Buonaparte's 
unexpected return from Egypt, and the successful daring 
with which he had seized the reins of government at Paris ; 
were also circumstances well deserving serious consideration, 
for the military resources of France, though much exhausted 
by the long-continued wars, were by no means as yet in a 
desperate state. Indeed, to a man of administrative ability, 
uniting in himself the genius of strategic combinations and 
a rare spirit of enterprise, the military situation of France at 
the commencement of the year 1800 could not have appeared 
devoid of promise. That such qualities were peculiar to the 
First Consul, was already known to politicians who had 
scrutinised the occurrences of the last four years, though the 
ominous warnings of the Archduke Charles were resented 
with asperity by the Austrian Court. 

Nevertheless there was much in appearances to justify the 
sanguine views which the leaders of the Coalition entertained. 
Upon the internal state of France, much of her future military 
efforts must naturally depend ; it was no secret that in many 
districts discontent was deep and general — that, in the Vendee 
especially, armed resistance to Republican authority was still 
maintained with some success — that the recently - created 
Triumvirate was exposed to the attack of hostile factions and 
rival aspirants for power — that the finances were in utter 



confusion— that the armies of the Republic, partially de- 
moralised by defeat, unpaid, miserably subsisted and clothed, 
were in a chronic state of insubordination, and daily wasting 
from desertion — that her veteran battalions and most pro- 
mising officers were still in Egypt without prospect of return 
— that her vessels of war had been swept from the ocean, 
that her ports were closed, her coasts blockaded, by reason of 
our own maritime supremacy. Doubtless, such considerations 
influenced the policy of the Coalition Cabinets in declining 
the overtures of peace proffered with questionable sincerity 
by the First Consul on his assumption of office. It appeared 
dangerous, indeed, to allow the Eepublic sufficient breathing- 
time for the further development, at a later period, of her 
discordant principles. The recovery of territory was not 
the sole object of past sacrifices ; restoration of the Bourbon 
dynasty, and entire discomfiture of the revolutionary party in 
France, were the only means of definitely concluding a war of 
political principle. 

A ready weapon was thus furnished to the warrior Consul. 
In a stirring proclamation he published to Frenchmen the 
aims of the Coalition, the menacing attitude of its armies, 
and the rejection of its own pacific propositions. His course 
once chosen, the whole of his prodigious energy was centred 
upon the creation and organisation of military resources. 
Uniting the Helvetian army with that of the Rhine, he in- 
trusted its command to Moreau, who had already displayed 
marked abilities in this self-same theatre, where his qualities 
were now again to be severely tested. Massena, victorious 
recently in the midst of disaster, was ordered from Switzer- 
land to replace, as chief of the Army of Italy, Championnet, 
who had succumbed to the fatigues of the recent campaigns. 
All the example and influence of this stern soldier were re- 
quired to restore order and discipline to the ranks of these 
suffering men. To Moreau the available reinforcements 
and material were at once despatched, with a view to en- 
able that general to take the field as early as possible. 
Massena received nothing but money with which to pay 
up the arrears of his troops, and good advice — sufficient 
evidence that Buonaparte had early determined in his own 

MARENGO, 1800. 1U 

mind that the war must be decided in the valley of the 

Before serious steps could be taken for the commencement 
of hostilities, it was indispensably necessary that the Vendee 
should be pacified. Not only did the civil strife there raging 
absorb a large portion of the army, but a tempting oppor- 
tunity was thus offered for English invasion from the west. 
A very important military diversion might so be effected by 
the Allies, calculated seriously to embarrass operations on the 
eastern frontier. This old sore, which had defied the healing 
efforts of previous governments, was now treated with admi- 
rable skill and success by the First Consul. Towards the 
end of February, the last insurrectionary sparks were ex- 
tinguished by a mixture of firmness and conciliation well 
suited to the occasion. The troops thus released were marched 
at once to the French capital, and thence distributed to the 
Rhine, and to Dijon, where they formed the nucleus of the 
future Army of Reserve. 

The idea of organising this third army had early cul- 
minated in the mind of the First Consul. The strategic ad- 
vantages to be derived from the possession of Switzerland, 
provided a sufficient force could be improvised for the pur- 
pose, were too obvious to be overlooked. With this object 
in view he had appealed to the legislative body for 100,000 
conscripts, which were readily sanctioned. Though some 
months must elapse before these were ready for service, 
older soldiers were thus released from the depots and placed 
at his disposal. 

Whilst these measures were in course of execution the 
Allies had not been idle. The Coalition — now represented 
by Great Britain and Austria — had two armies in the field. 

On the departure of Suwarrow for Switzerland in the pre- 
ceding campaign, Baron Melas had assumed the conduct of 
operations in Italy. Having completed the successes obtained 
at Novi and the Trebbia, he had placed his army in winter 
quarters in the plains of Piedmont and Lombardy, at the foot 
of the northern slopes of the Apennines — his advanced posts 
pushed forward into the mountain valleys. Here he con- 
fronted Massena, who, with the wasted remains of the once 


formidable Army of Italy, held the mountain crests and passes, 
based upon Genoa and Nice. 

In Germany, Kray had succeeded the Archduke Charles in 
command of the army of the Danube. With a view to guard 
the passages of the Rhine, he had posted himself obliquely 
across the Black Forest, his right stretching towards Stras- 
bourg and Alsace, his left appuyed upon the Lake of Con- 
stance and the Vorarlberg. Here he occupied the base of a 
triangle, of which Moreau held the two sides formed by the 
course of the Rhine, which river separated the two armies. 
In order to fill the chasm caused by the secession of Russia, 
endeavours had been successfully made to swell Kray's 
numbers by enlisting the services of contingents, supplied by 
the minor States of Germany, subsidised by England. In 
the Mediterranean a British expedition was also in course of 
organisation, destined with a body of French emigrants, by 
aid of the fleet, to co-operate with Melas in Liguria. No 
doubt the absence of the Archduke Charles was keenly felt 
by those who had appreciated his unusual military abilities. 
Nevertheless, it was impossible to take exception to the ap- 
pointed commanders of the Austrian forces. Both were men 
of decided ability, possessed of great experience in war. 
Thanks to the gold of England, and the splendidly fertile 
districts they occupied, their soldiers were rapidly recovering 
from recent fatigues. The Armyof Italy especially, elated by 
victory, and trained to the system of close fighting practised by 
Suwarrow, eagerly anticipated the forward movement which was 
to complete its triumph over a hated and inferior adversary. 

By consulting the map of Central Europe, however, the de- 
fective character of the Austrian positions may easily be 

The upper valley of the Danube (which river rises in the 
Black Forest) is separated from the sources of the Po by the 
intervening mountainous territory of Switzerland — ordinarily 
neutral, but now occupied by the French. This interrup- 
tion entirely destroyed direct communication between Melas 
and Kray. That, under ordinary circumstances, such com- 
munication is indispensable, will be obvious to all who 
consider that an enemy holding the mountains would, by 

MAEENGO, 1800. 21 

means of the various passes, be able to act upon the flank, 
and ultimately upon the communications of armies moving 
in the external valleys. Sound operations would there- 
fore have required that a frontal attack should have been 
made upon Switzerland from the side of Tyrol, with a view 
to wrest that country from the enemy's grasp before other 
offensive operations were attempted. The Aulic Council 
at Vienna was fully alive to this necessity, but the circum- 
stances were altogether exceptional. The attempt upon 
Switzerland in the preceding year had miserably failed ; bitter 
experience had sufficiently illustrated the arduous and inde- 
cisive nature of mountain warfare, as well as the extreme 
difficulty of subsisting large armies where no supplies were 
to be found. It was quite possible to turn this formidable 
position, unassailable in front — a course which appeared the 
more advisable, inasmuch as it was all important to avoid 
delay. The forces of the Republic available for instant war- 
fare had been estimated with tolerable accuracy by the 
Austrian staff; and it was well known that Kray's menacing 
attitude would force Moreau to concentrate upon the Rhine, 
freeing Melas from all danger of interruption in Piedmont. 
It was further intended to commence operations on the 
southern theatre, favoured by the milder climate, at the 
earliest possible date, when the Alpine passes were altogether 
impracticable for the passage of troops with artillery. 

This neglect of Switzerland in the Allied plan of operations 
has been severely censured by competent critics. We must, 
however, bear in mind that it was not accidental, or the 
result of ignorance ; it was really considered less dangerous 
to neglect Switzerland under existing circumstances than to 
attack it. 

It is evident that, in refusing to listen to negotiations for 
peace, the Coalition Cabinets considered their position such as 
to offer fair promise of continued success. With these, there- 
fore, rested the initiative in the approaching campaign — that 
is to say, their plan of operations should be offensive in its 
general tendency. In a war of such extreme character, true 
interests would have led them to strike at the heart of the 
Republic — to march by the shortest line upon the French 


capital; but Kray, to whom this operation must have been 
intrusted, was already pushed too far forward for his own 
safety, considering the French occupation of Switzerland ; one 
more step in advance would have placed his communications 
at the mercy of an adversary almost his equal in numbers 
and superior in every other respect. If we consider that in 
all these wars the valley of the Danube, as the direct line to 
the Austrian capital, has necessarily formed the decisive 
theatre, it will be easily understood that, in the earliest stage 
of the campaign, at any rate, invasion of French territory 
from that quarter was entirely out of the question. So long 
as the French remained in Switzerland, it is clear that Kray's 
attitude must be essentially defensive ; to arrest Moreau's 
possible advance, and to bar the road to Vienna, his first 

Various circumstances pointed at this period to the valley of 
the Po as the readiest base for offensive operations. There the 
Austrian position was one of undisputed superiority. To all 
appearances no task could be more desperate than that as- 
signed to Massena, of successfully defending Genoa and the 
Riviera stretching westwards to the Var. One vigorous effort 
with vastly superior forces must sever his extended line, destroy 
his communication with the French frontier, and force him to 
seek refuge behind the works of Genoa, where his speedy sur- 
render might be anticipated. Here, too, direct communication 
would be established with the British fleet — since the battle 
of the Nile, proud mistress of the Mediterranean. The im- 
portance of this co-operation could not be over-estimated. 
Upon it hinged the entire success of the plan of campaign. 
An admirable proposition, emanating from Sir Charles Stuart, 
for landing a British force on the coast of Provence, between 
Toulon and the mouth of the Var, had been approved by the 
English Minister of War. By this means the line of that 
river — sufficiently formidable in itself — would be taken in 
reverse, the standard of insurrection would be raised, and the 
scene of war transferred to French territory. It w T as calcu- 
lated that this diversion would force the First Consul to con- 
centrate his attention towards the south. Not only would 
the reinforcements assembling at Dijon be necessarily turned 

MARENGO, 1800. 23 

to stem this tide of invasion, but Moreau's action on the 
Rhine would thus be paralysed, and Kray, emerging from his 
defensive attitude, would cross that river, entering Switzerland 
or Prance as circumstances might direct. 

Such was the plan of the Coalition : calculated neglect of 
Switzerland, strictly defensive operations in Germany, early 
and vigorous offensive in Liguria with a view to the ultimate 
invasion of south-eastern France, thus to effect the favourable 
reaction upon Switzerland and the Ehine already alluded to. 

No one will deny to this scheme certain merits of combina- 
tion ; it remains to be seen in how far it was calculated to 
bear the test of execution, without which all military plans 
must naturally be valueless. What account had it taken of 
time and distance, upon a just calculation of which the whole 
secret of successful strategy rests ? When could operations 
with certainty be commenced? What period would suffice 
for Massena's destruction in Liguria ? In how far could de- 
pendence be placed upon British punctuality and co-opera- 
tion? Lastly, how might the time which must necessarily 
elapse before France could be invaded, be turned to account 
by an active enemy ? Leaving subsequent events to answer 
these pertinent questions, let us return to the First Consul. 

I have already noticed the pacification of the western de- 
partments, the union of the Rhine and Helvetian armies— a 
most important measure — the appeal to national patriotism, 
and the early concentration of the principal military forces 
of the Republic, under Moreau's command, upon the Rhine. 
Far from intending to remain upon the defensive, there is 
ample evidence to show that Buonaparte's first thoughts were 
directed upon offensive action. With possession of Switzer- 
land this might be carried out either in Germany or Italy. 
There is reason to believe that the original destination of the 
army of reserve was for the former theatre, as that of 
primary importance. Operations in the valley of the Danube 
necessarily react upon the Italian theatre, but the converse is 
not the case from the side of the Po. Moreau's advance upon 
the Inn — supposing Kray defeated — would have compelled 
Melas to retire upon the corresponding line of the Adige if he 
wished to consult his own safety ; but no success of Melas in 


Liguria would have equally affected the French operations in 
the valley of the Danube. It is simply a matter of distance, 
the Danube forming the inner, the Po the exterior line 
between Paris and Vienna as objective points. For this 
reason the Italian theatre must ever be of secondary import- 
ance, and one great defect in the Austrian plan was, that it 
was there selected for primary operations. In addition to 
this, Kray had taken up his position in Suabia, as though 
Switzerland were neutral territory ; his left flank was danger- 
ously exposed, so that bold action on the part of his adversary 
would probably envelop him in signal disaster. Instructions 
had been forwarded to Moreau to act in this sense. By con- 
centrating secretly behind the Ehine, opposite to Schaff- 
hausen, he might throw his army across that river upon Kray's 
flank and rear, and then, by rapid movement, sever him from 
his base. This manoeuvre would have been supported upon 
the right, through Switzerland, by the army of reserve. But 
Moreau, able general as he was, shrank from the risk of un- 
certain execution, or, what is more probable, made this his 
excuse for declining to be tutored by a man whom he person- 
ally disliked. Circumstances forced the First Consul to give 
way, and Moreau w r as left to operate in the general sense of the 
campaign after his own inclination, provided he assumed the 
offensive without delay. Disappointed thus in finding an 
early solution of his difficulties in Germany, the keen eye of 
Buonaparte glanced to the southern theatre, which his genius 
had hitherto rejected as of inferior value. The result was a 
plan of campaign by which the three armies of the Eepublic 
were to act more or less in concert with each other. It is 
evident that the leading thought throughout in Buonaparte's 
mind was to utilise his interior position in Switzerland. 
Frustrated in his wishes on the side of the Danube, alive 
to the extreme value of time, he boldly determined to brave 
the dangers of the Alps, to carry the army of reserve in 
person into the plains of Northern Italy, and to inflict upon 
Melas, by a similar manoeuvre, the punishment originally 
designed for Kray. In order to do this, three things were 
necessary : time, impenetrable secrecy of design, and abso- 
lute freedom of action in Switzerland. Towards this end 

MARENGO, 1800. 25 

Massena and Moreau were called upon to co-operate by very 
different action. The former was required to defend the 
Apennines with desperate tenacity, to engage fully the atten- 
tion of the Austrian commander, to demand the utmost devo- 
tion from his troops, and, if need be, to shut himself up in 
Genoa, and there hold out to the last extremity. The latter 
was to cross the Rhine and assail Kray's position in such 
manner as to drive him back upon Ulm, on the Danube, 
away from all communication with Switzerland; having 
effected this, to detach to the army of reserve a sufficient 
number of men to render the action of the First Consul in 
Italy decisive. To sum up — offensive action in Southern 
Germany, defensive in Liguria, with a view to decisive inter- 
vention, by means of the army of reserve from the side of 
Switzerland, in the valley of the Po. 

These preliminary remarks are necessary in order to offer a 
tolerable insight of one of the most remarkable combinations 
in modern warfare. This could not be obtained if the move- 
ments of the Army of Eeserve, which formed but one item in 
the general conception, were alone considered. Again, the 
action of the Allies would have been incomprehensible, had 
it not been based upon the conviction of the utter exhaustion 
of the resources of the Republic after seven years of warfare. 
This was no hasty conclusion on their part ; and though in 
this instance it involved the crushing disasters of Marengo 
and Hohenlinden, such results were attributable to the excep- 
tional impulse imparted by extraordinary genius, which defied 
calculations based upon the ordinary standard. 

All military manoeuvres must depend, more or less, upon 
the character of the ground upon which they are to be exe- 
cuted. It will therefore be necessary to make the theatre 
of the operations about to be studied a subject of careful 
consideration. The upper valley of the Po, semicircular in 
form, is enclosed on three sides by some of the highest moun- 
tains in Europe : in the north by the southern slopes of the 
Pennine Alps, in the west by the eastern slopes of the Graian 
and Cottian Alps, in the south by the northern slopes of the 
Maritime Alps and of the northern Apennines. These moun- 
tain-ranges separate Lombardy and Piedmont respectively from 


Switzerland, France, and the territory then belonging to the 
Genoese Republic, known by the ancient name of Liguria. 
Eastwards, the valley, which varies from 30 to 70 miles in 
breadth, is open, stretching away to the Adriatic. The con- 
terminous heights are drained by numerous streams, which 
flow more or less in a rectangular direction from the north 
and south into the main river, which conducts their waters to 
the above-named sea. The principal of these are : the Dora 
Baltea, Sesia, Ticinus, Lambro, Adda, Oglio, and Mincio from 
the north ; the Tanaro with its affluent the Bormida, Scrivia, 
Staffora, and Trebbia from the south. The beds of some of 
these short rivers, wide and gravelly, are frequently dry in 
summer ; but when sudden thaws in the mountains, or heavy 
rains set in, the accumulated waters rush with great violence 
into the plains below, and render military operations connect- 
ed with the main river and its tributaries somewhat precarious. 
The plain itself is nearly flat, resembling a vast garden. Owing 
to its exceeding fertility, it has, from the earliest times, been 
very closely cultivated ; there are no forests, neither are the 
fields enclosed, but numberless parallel rows of mulberry -trees, 
often interlaced with vines, impede the view, and restrict the 
movements of ordered bodies of men to the many excellent 
roads. Soil so much exposed to the reflected influence of a 
powerful sun naturally requires constant irrigation, which is 
readily procured from the principal mountain rivers by means 
of artificial canals and water-courses. This system, connected 
with the peculiar cultivation alluded to, renders Northern Italy 
one of the most intersected countries in Europe. There, chief 
command in the field is no sinecure ; incessant vigilance, ac- 
curate knowledge of country, and constant employment of 
light troops for reconnoitring purposes is indispensable in 
order to retain the touch of an adversary. The spots where 
cavalry can be employed in large bodies for purposes of battle 
are few, and the action of artillery is frequently confined to 
the main communications. The qualities of light infantry, on 
the other hand, are here displayed to great advantage — the 
judicious employment of this arm having often decided the 
issue of a war. 

The special value of the territory thus briefly sketched, 

MARENGO, 1800. 27 

its Mediterranean aspect, and early historic associations, have 
constantly subjected it to hostile invasion. For many past 
centuries it has formed the battle-field of Europe. The ex- 
perience of each succeeding war has determined certain points 
which, under given circumstances, may prove of decisive 
strategic importance. To many of such the aid of science 
had already in 1800 been invoked, and numerous fortified 
cities had thus been called into existence. Some of these 
considerably influenced the operations of this campaign, and 
deserve attention. 

Genoa, at the head of the gulf to which it gives its name, 
was the last stronghold by which the French still clung to 
Italian soil. Its vast fortifications constituted an intrenched 
camp, into which an army might retire and defy attack so 
long as its provisions lasted. Its defence by Massena during 
this campaign may be justly considered one of the finest 
exploits of that eventful period. 

Alessandria — situated in the angle of confluence of the 
Bormida-Tanaro, formed the immediate base of the Austrian 
forces about to operate in Liguria. Under its shelter they 
subsequently rallied, in order to fight the action which de- 
termined their fate. Its importance in opposite interests, 
whether to cover the concentration of an army of invasion 
from the west, or to protect its retreat in case of disaster, had 
early attracted the penetrating observation of Buonaparte. 

Casale and Valenza— both on the Po, on either side of the 
mouth of the Sesia — secure the passage of the main river 
at convenient points, within easy reach of the last-named 

Pavia, on the Ticinus, commands the lower course of that 
river, adding to its general defensive strength. In the present 
campaign it was admirably adapted for an intermediate 
Austrian base between the Mincio and Alessandria. Its in- 
fluence has been asserted in almost every war conducted upon 
this theatre. 

Piacenza, on the Po, at the foot of the valley of the Trebbia, 
equally commands that and the important defile of Stradella. 
The larger towns of Northern Italy which were not fortified 
possessed citadels, where an isolated garrison could find 


shelter and security ; and the principal passes leading across 
the mountains from the north, west, and south were closed at 
the period of which I am speaking by forts. Such were Novi, 
Gavi, Ceva, Coni, Exilles, Finistrelles, Susa, Bard, Arona, 
which, it is sufficient to say, have never proved efficacious in 
preventing invasion. 

Now, a French army wishing to invade Lombardy or Pied- 
mont from the north or west— i.e., from Switzerland or France 
■ — has various roads at its disposal. It may cross the St Goth- 
ard from Hospital to Airolo debouching upon Milan, or the 
Simplon from Brieg to Domo d'Ossola, or the Great St Ber- 
nard from Martigny to Aosta, or the little St Bernard from 
Moutiers to Aosta, or Mont Cenis from St Jean de Mauri- 
enne to Susa, or lastly, Mont Genevre from Besancon to 
Susa, the four last debouching upon Turin. In 1800, however, 
the magnificent roads since constructed by Napoleon I. did 
not exist ; and though at earlier periods of history armies had 
crossed the Alps by one or other of these passes on several 
occasions, the difficulty of transporting artillery, with its at- 
tendant encumbrances, had hitherto been generally considered 
insuperable. Suwarrow's marvellous passage of the St Goth- 
ard in the preceding year tended rather to confirm the rash- 
ness of such an operation than to encourage imitation. 

Again, an Austrian army posted at Alessandria-Turin, 
about to enter Liguria with a view subsequently to invade 
France by crossing the Var, has four principal passages by 
which it may cross the Apennines and Maritime Alps. These 
are the Monte Bruno pass, at the head of the Trebbia valley, 
and the Bochetta, both debouching upon Genoa from Piacenza 
and Alessandria respectively ; the Col di Cadibona, leading 
from Acqui to Savona ; and the Col di Tenda, issuing from 
Turin and Coni upon Nice. Genoa again communicates with 
Savona, Nice, and, west of the Var, with the Provence by the 
Corniche road, which skirts • the Mediterranean coast and 
receives on its course the before-mentioned tributaries. The 
country here is exceedingly difficult; from the character of 
the mountains, which trend perpendicularly to the sea, no 
communication can exist between columns advancing into the 
Riviera by the above-named passes. Thus it was that Buona- 

MARENGO, 1800. 29 

parte, with very inferior forces, defeated Beaulieu on this 
same ground in 1796. Though similar success could hardly 
now be expected from Massena under circumstances of in- 
creased disadvantage, the First Consul had not failed to im- 
press upon his lieutenant the secret of his earlier victories : 
" Keep your forces concentrated in hand in the vicinity of 
Genoa, and fall upon the enemy's columns as they issue 
singly from the mountains." 

Further, an Austrian commander operating from Ales- 
sandria, in the sense of the plan of campaign, might commu- 
nicate with his proper base upon the Mincio by two great 
thoroughfares on either bank of the Po. The shortest, on the 
southern bank, touching Tortona, Voghera, and Montebello, 
enters the defile of Stradella, at the end of which it finds 
Piacenza ; thence, two main roads conduct to Mantua — north 
of the Po by Pizzighitone and Cremona, or by Parma and 
Borgoforte on its southern bank. 

The longer line would cross the main river at Casale or 
Valenza, proceeding by Novara or Mortara, Milan, and Brescia 
to Peschiera. Upon these communications much of the in- 
terest of the subsequent operations of the campaign hinges, 
so that it will be well to bear them in mind. 

The French army of Liguria, already alluded to, numbered 
about 36,000 men, of which 30,000 were available for the 
defence of Genoa, and of the Riviera generally. 

Strength and Organisation of the French Army of Liguria, in April 1800. 
Corps. Divisions. Strength. 

Right— ( Miollis ) 

Soult . . . . < Gazan . . 18,000 

( Gardanne J 
Centre — ( Clausel \ 

Suchet < Pouget V . . 12,000 

( Gamier ) 

„,, •> ' ( Lieband ) 

Thurreaud . . \ Vflleite ) • . 6,C0O 

(not engaged) 

Total, . . 36,000 

Massena commanding in chief. 

On leaving Switzerland for Italy, Massena, in anticipation 


of much future difficulty, had invited some of Lis Lest officers 
to accompany him. With these lie proceeded to reorganise 
Lis command. To Sonlt he committed the charge of his 
right wing, formed in three divisions, under Miollis, Gazan, 
and Gardanne, in all 18,000 strong. In the ahove order 
these divisions guarded the Monte Bruno, Bochetta, and Cadi- 
Lona passes, garrisoning Gavi, Genoa, and Savona. Suchet 
commanded the centre, composed of three weak divisions 
led by Clausel, Pouget, and Gamier, amounting altogether to 
little more than 11,000 men. With them he occupied the 
line of coast from Savona to Oniglia, as well as the mountain- 
crests from Cadibona to the Tenda road. 

The left wing in two divisions, containing barely 6000 men, 
under Liebaud and Valette, held the Alpine passes from the 
sources of the Var to the Swiss frontier. Thurreaud who 
commanded it had fixed his headquarters at Embrun, and 
took no part in the early engagements of the campaign. 

One glance at these positions will point out their ex- 
treme danger. With 30,000 men, the French general occu- 
pied a line nearly 80 miles in extent from Tenda to Genoa. 
This line runs parallel to the sea, which is immediately in its 
rear, and was then closely watched by the British squadron 
under Lord Keith. Communication with France must either 
be effected from the extreme left of the position, or be alto- 
gether abandoned. The whole district, sterile and sparsely 
populated, offered absolutely no means of subsistence ; and 
Genoa, with a large population, was provisioned for a few 
weeks only. When, in addition, Massena was confronted on 
the northern slopes of the Apennines by an adversary who 
might at any moment assume the offensive with forces trebly 
superior, it will be conceded that his prospects were gloomy 
indeed. Two distinct and conflicting interests necessitated, 
to a certain extent, this false position. The First Consul, in 
his instructions to his lieutenant, laid the greatest stress 
upon the preservation of Genoa, where alone on Italian 
soil the Republican principles of France were still repre- 
sented. It so happened that military as well as political 
considerations advocated its extreme importance. Massed at 
Genoa, the army of Liguria effectually protected the French 

MAUENGO, 1800. 31 

frontiers, besides being there in a position, under able com- 
mand, to operate generally at considerable advantage. Here, 
if anywhere, Massena's difficult problem could be solved. 
For these reasons Buonaparte, in the French capital, eager at 
any expense to gain the time indispensable for his ultimate 
ends, urged his general to concentrate upon that fortress, and, 
if need be, to neglect his communications altogether. 

On the other hand, though anxious to obey to the utmost 
the First Consul's instructions, Massena, more subject to 
local influences, yet felt the whole responsibility of his 
position. Dependent for everything upon France, the loss 
of his communications — in the absence of sufficient stores 
in Genoa — must sooner or later assuredly entail surrender 
or destruction. Against the former alternative his military 
pride, against the latter his sense of duty to his soldiers, 
revolted. On the horns of this dilemma, in the vain hope 
of meeting both demands at opposite extremities, he ex- 
tended his feeble line, and was soon called upon to pay 
the penalty which usually attends half measures. And yet, 
so strange and unaccountable is the influence of chance in 
war, that these very dispositions in their results served the 
First Consul's purposes probably beyond any others that 
might have been adopted ! 

The Austrian Army of Italy presented a much more for- 
midable array. At the close of the preceding campaign, 
Melas, having reduced the important fortress of Coni, had 
distributed his soldiers far and wide across the fertile plains 
of Northern Italy, with a view to their rest, reorganisation, 
and easier subsistence. Being accurately informed as to the 
condition of the French forces during the winter, which was 
unusually severe in the Apennine districts, and therefore 
free from all apprehension of attack, he foresaw that such 
a step was further calculated to mask his future designs, and 
to lull his adversaries into a sense of false security. Kapid 
and secret concentration in the early spring would enable 
him to strike where his blow was least expected, and thus 
to secure the full advantage of a vigorous initiative. Kein- 
forcements which he received during the winter months, had 
amply compensated for the losses sustained in the late arduous 


campaign, so that in January the Austrian army in Northern 
Italy already amounted to 110,000 men of all arms. Still 
the whole of this force was not available for active operations. 

Strength and Organisation of the Austrian Army of Italy, in April 1800. 
Corps. Divisions. Strength. 

Right — ( Wukassowich \ 

Kaim -! Haddick V . . 27,000 

( Kaim j 

Knesewich . . . 8,000 

„ , /Elsnitz ^ 

Centre — 1 ,, • / 

Melas . . . ) I 1 *?™ > ■ ■ 43 > 000 

\ Pally I 

(Commanding in chief) { Hohenzollern ) 
{GoSSml } 

* je ft [ Vogelsang 

Total, . . 93,000 

20,000 men in Lombardy, Venetia, and Tuscany, not included. 
The Italians, though now cowed by the extreme severity 
with which their French sympathies had recently been sup- 
pressed, still clung fondly to the institutions which they had 
received at the hands of the great Republic. It was neces- 
sary to maintain considerable garrisons in Lombardy and in 
Venetia, both to repress insurrection and to insure com- 
munication with the empire. For this purpose some 20,000 
men were required, so that in the month of February, when 
the reopening of hostilities was contemplated in the Allied 
plan, Melas could count upon the services of about 90,000 
men. This force was divided into three corps, forming the 
right, centre, and left, commanded by Kaim, Melas, and Ott 
respectively. Owing, however, to an unexpected fall of snow 
in the Apennines, which partially suspended communication, 
and still more to the absence of information as to the arrival 
of transports with stores from Livorno, upon which the army 
would depend for subsistence in the Riviera, operations were 
actually postponed until the beginning of April. This delay, 
hardly sufficiently accounted for by the motives alleged, 
proved fatal to the Allies. In it may be recognised a sense 
of overweening confidence in future success, barely warranted 
by circumstances. Their plan, open to severe criticism as 

MARENGO, 1800. 33 

it was, rested entirely upon early action for its results. To 
neglect this was to cut away the ground from under their 
own feet. 

Towards the end of March the Austrian commander drew 
in his detachments with great caution upon Acqui, concen- 
trating against the centre of his adversary's line. It has 
already been argued that the contemplated invasion of French 
territory could not safely be attempted until Massena's army 
had been effectually disposed of. The question, therefore, 
was, how to attain this object in the most speedy and decisive 
manner. We have seen that Melas might cross the moun- 
tains, in order to enter the Riviera, by four different roads — 
through the Trebbia valley, by the Bochetta Pass, by Cadi- 
bona, and the Col di Tenda. This last, debouching upon 
Nice, was too far away for present purposes, and could hardly 
have been adopted by Melas, as the main line of operations, 
without risk to his own communications. The extended 
position of the French army was accurately known at the 
Austrian headquarters, and, taken in connection with the 
character of the ground, pointed to the centre as its weaker 
part. Now the centre of Massena's line — that is to say, Soult's 
left and Suchet's right — rested upon Savona, to which town 
the Cadibona road directly conducted. Overwhelming attack 
directed here would probably sever the two French divisions, 
forcing Suchet back upon the Var and Soult upon Genoa. 
Either fraction would thus be subjected to defeat in detail, 
and the first object of the campaign attained. This, then, 
was selected by Melas as his first line of operations. In order, 
however, to anticipate concentration by Massena, with a view 
to meet this danger, it was necessary to claim his attention 
simultaneously at other important points. Of all these, Genoa 
would naturally be most cherished by the French commander, 
and upon that fortress both of the other roads, as has been 
already shown, debouched. In this sense the following dis- 
positions were made : — 

Ott, with the Austrian left, 15,000 strong, was ordered to 
ascend the Trebbia valley, and crossing Monte Bruno to threat- 
en Genoa from the north-east. 

Hohenzollern, detached from the centre with 10,000 



men, was to force the Bochetta, and subsequently unite with 

The centre, 25,000 strong, under Melas in person, would 
march by the Cadibona Pass upon Savona, whilst Knesewich, 
with 4,000 men, was pushed forward to Coni and the Col di 
Tenda, in order subsequently to menace Suchet's communi- 
cations with the Yar. 

Lastly, the right, under Kaim, was to remain in Piedmont, 
with the double object of forming the reserve and of guarding 
the issues from the Alpine passes. With this wing the splendid 
cavalry attached to Melas' s army — useless in the Apennine 
gorges — and the greater portion of the artillery remained. 

On the 5th of April, this plan very ably conceived by Zach, 
chief of the Austrian staff, was carried into execution. Mas- 
sena, ignorant of the combinations by which he was threatened, 
and consequently ill prepared to meet it, soon found himself 
out-man<euvred. Before he could fully realise his adversary's 
intention the French centre was broken and the purposed sep- 
aration effected. Of the many officers, however, who during this 
and subsequent wars so faithfully served the First Consul, 
few equalled Massena in presence of mind under emergency, 
or in resolute action. Instantly recovering from the surprise 
which had caused his reverse, he prepared the necessary mea- 
sures for re-establishing communication with Suchet. In a 
series of engagements on successive days, both these generals 
struggled desperately to re-unite their forces. But the wedge 
which Melas had firmly inserted at Savona defied their isolated 
efforts, and further development of force upon his rear forced 
Massena to retire definitely behind the works of Genoa. Here, 
with energy unimpaired by disaster, almost indeed unexampled 
in history, he commenced on the 20th of April that glorious 
defence which for ever established his military reputation. 

The investment of Genoa by Ott, with 30,000 men, enabled 
the Austrian commander-in-chief thenceforward to concen- 
trate his attention upon Suchet, who still held his ground in 
the neighbourhood of Loano. But that officer avoided the 
fate intended for him by timely retreat, first upon Nice, and 
ultimately behind the Var, which river he crossed on the 
1 1th of May. Here he established himself in an intrenched 

MARENGO, 1800. 35 

position of commanding strength, and, aided by the happy ar- 
rival of reinforcements from the interior, easily repulsed the 
assaults which Elsnitz had been ordered to deliver. 

Thus, at the expiration of one month from the commence- 
ment of hostilities, it will be well to pause, in order to realise 
the military situation and future prospects of the belligerents. 

Massena, though shut up in Genoa by sea and land, still 
commanded 12,000 men, who, under his active command, gave 
full employment to Ott's blockading force. His troops, how- 
ever, were suffering from sickness and extreme exertion, and 
his provisions were rapidly diminishing. Suchet, with 11,000 
men in an impregnable position upon the Var, effectually pro- 
tected the French frontier, with a prospect, indeed, of shortly 
finding himself in a position to assume the offensive. Moreau, 
having crossed the Ehine at different points on the 25th of 
April, had defeated Kray in several important actions, and 
was now successfully completing the operation which would 
throw his adversary back upon Ulm. On the 12th of May he 
despatched the detachment — 16,000 men — for which Buona- 
parte had stipulated, to the Army of Eeserve. This last force, 
nominally under Berthier, already organised and concentrat- 
ing secretly from all sides upon the Lake of Geneva, 40,000 
strong, was about to be joined by the First Consul in person, 
who had left Paris for that purpose some days before Suchet 
crossed the Var. 

On the other hand, Melas's successes — equally creditable to 
himself and his army — had not proved sufficiently decisive for 
the exigencies of the Allied plan. The capitulation of Genoa, 
upon which his future action depended, was still a matter of 
uncertain speculation, and did not actually ensue until another 
month had expired. Ten thousand of his best soldiers had 
already found their graves on the Apennine slopes, or had been 
carried prisoners into his adversary's stronghold. The British 
expedition, from the co-operation of which so much had been 
expected, still remained in abeyance, and vain were the entrea- 
ties from Austrian headquarters for its instant furtherance 
from Minorca to the scene of action. The news of Moreau's 
advance had already penetrated into Italy, accompanied by 
the discredited announcement of the concentration of fresh 


French troops in Switzerland. In a word, the Allies were 
now virtually deprived of the initiative, soon to be thrust 
hack altogether upon the defensive. Melas in reality had 
been fighting against time, genius, and position; it was in 
the nature of things that he should ultimately succumb to 
their united influence. 

The unwelcome tidings of Melas's successful advance upon 
Savona reached the First Consul at Paris on the 22d of April. 
During the earlier portion of the month his attention had been 
engrossed with the many details which the formation of the 
Army of Reserve entailed. Originally no secret was made 
of the preparation of this force, at Dijon, for active service. 
Berthier had been publicly appointed to its command, and 
Marmont, with Gassencli, were there busily employed in 
furnishing the necessary complement of artillery and ammuni- 
tion. In addition to men, horses, and material, all of which 
must be collected with extreme difficulty from distant depart- 
ments, a vast amount of supplies for the subsistence of the 
army, whilst marching to its destination in Italy, was indis- 
pensable. For the completion of these several objects time 
was still required, so that the news from Liguria was calculated 
to cause some anxiety. An ordinary general would perhaps 
have hurried with the few battalions already assembled at 
Dijon to the Var, in aid of Suchet, whose retreat in that 
direction was now inevitable. Such a course — presupposed 
by the Allied plan — appears never to have suggested itself 
to the mind of the First Consul. From it no decisive result 
could accrue, and the inestimable value of a central position in 
Switzerland would thus have been sacrificed. On the other 
hand, the well-known tenacity of Massena's character responded 
for the safety of Genoa during another month, for which period 
the scanty stores at his disposal would suffice to subsist his 
men. Three weeks, however, were still required by Berthier 
to complete his preparations, so that not more than ten days 
would then remain for the concentration of the Army of Reserve 
on Italian soil. Even under favouring circumstances, so close a 
calculation of time and distance — allowing but little scope for 
accident — would seem to render any similar operation pre- 
carious in the extreme. When, however, it is remembered that 

MARENGO, 1800. 37 

Moreau as yet had not stirred, that instant success on the part 
of that general was necessary to insure the detachment from 
his force which Buonaparte considered indispensable to decisive 
intervention in the south, that the passage of the Alps might 
possibly present difficulties beyond the range of human fore- 
sight, that the slightest intimation of his project revealed to 
the enemy would infallibly render it abortive, and that failure 
was ruin, it is difficult indeed to realise the vast daring 
of a conception which depended upon elements apparently 
so uncertain for success. 

And yet not a trace of hesitation is perceptible in the action 
of the First Consul. A formal order was immediately de- 
spatched to Moreau to cross the Rhine and commence opera- 
tions. Marescot, an engineer officer of experience and ability, 
was sent to explore and report upon the character of the 
several passes by which an entry into Italy across the Alps 
might be effected. Orders were forwarded to Massena to hold 
out to the last extremity, and to Suchet to aid his commander 
by every means in his power ; and lastly, a bold and very 
successful course was adopted, with a view henceforward to 
deceive the hostile Cabinets as to the actual existence of the 
Army of Reserve. 

The early decree for military preparations on a large scale 
at Dijon had naturally attracted a certain amount of attention. 
But that town, from its situation, seemed so reasonably selected 
for the concentration of reinforcements intended for Moreau, 
and the few ill-clad battalions there assembled so poorly 
responded to the loud announcements made from Paris, that 
the agents of the Coalition characterised the measure to their 
respective Governments as a ruse of Buonaparte's to deter Melas 
from following up his success. This fact, soon ascertained 
through the English press, admirably served the First Consul's 
purpose. Whilst the ' Moniteur ' and other publications con- 
tinued to insist, in exaggerated terms, upon the efficiency of 
the large force already organised and present at Dijon, the 
battalions and levies really marching upon that town from 
all sides were secretly directed to concentrate at Geneva 
and Lausanne, carefully avoiding their previous destination. 
Similar precautions being observed in furthering all the stores 


and material, the artifice proved fully successful, and un- 
questionably conduced in a very considerable degree to the 
ultimate results of the campaigu. 

Moreau started on the 25th of April, and had soon com- 
pleted the manoeuvre by which Kray's position was turned. 
In two severe engagements, at Eugen and Stockach, he 
defeated the Austrian general on the 3d of May. This 
intelligence, awaited with intense anxiety, reached Buonaparte 
on the 5th. In the same night he left Paris for Dijon, where 
he reviewed the conscript and volunteer battalions, still pur- 
posely left to represent the Army of Eeserve. On the 8th 
of May he reached Geneva, and announced his intention of 
remaining in that town, in order to watch the events of the 
war on either theatre. Here he received the report from 
Marescot which enabled him to make the necessary disposi- 
tions for crossing the Alps. The considerations which deter- 
mined these are very interesting. 

Of the four available passes, the Simplon alone was alto- 
gether impracticable for the transport of material, so that 
selection had to be made from the other three. 

The St Gothard debouched into Italy precisely where the 
First Consul wished to arrive, but in order to reach it, the 
Valais, destitute of all resources, must be traversed to the 
sources of the Rhone — an operation requiring too much time, 
and likely to attract notice. Besides, this was the only pass 
adapted for the use of the detachment expected from Moreau. 

Mont Cenis offered, perhaps, fewer difficulties than any of 
the other roads, but the reasons which militated against its 
selection are sufficiently obvious. In the first place, it de- 
bouched upon the right front, and not upon the rear of the 
Austrian position, Susa being occupied by a strong detach- 
ment from Kaim's wing, which was posted in considerable 
force at Turin. The intelligence of the French march in the 
supposed direction could not long remain a secret, and would 
probably reach Melas sufficiently early to enable that general 
to send timely reinforcements into Piedmont. To be executed 
successfully, this movement should be impenetrably veiled at 
greater distance from the Austrian headquarters on the Var. 
From this passage, too, no great strategic advantage could be 

MARENGO, 1800. 39 

derived ; the Austrian communications with the Mincio were 
perfectly guarded, the moral effect of surprise would be for- 
feited, and Moncey, debouching by the St Gothard with 
Moreau's soldiers, might find himself dangerously isolated and 
exposed to defeat. In a word, it would seem almost prefer- 
able for the First Consul to have marched with all his forces 
to join Suchet, in order resolutely to fight his way along the 
Eiviera to Genoa. 

The two St Bernard passes, both of which conducted through 
the long and narrow valley of Aosta to Ivrea, remained for 
consideration. Of these the road leading across the Great St 
Bernard was the shortest from the point of concentration — a 
consideration, under the circumstances, of almost conclusive 
weight. From Villeneuve, at the eastern extremity of the Lake 
of Geneva, two ordinary marches along an excellent road 
would carry the army to St Pierre, where the direct ascent of 
the mountain commences. From this village the hospice at 
its summit might be "reached in eight hours, by a footpath 
practicable for men and horses, but not for carriages. The 
descent thence to St Kemy, where the carriage-road begins 
again, might be completed in three hours more, so that the 
actual passage of the mountain could be effected by an ordi- 
nary individual in about twelve hours. From the last-named 
village the valley leads by Etroubles to the town of Aosta, to 
which the pass of the Little St Bernard likewise conducts. 
Here, too, the Dora Baltea joins the road, which reaches in 
succession Chatillon, the little fort of Bard, and Ivrea, where 
the country opens, and the eye at last rests on the stretching 
plains of the Po. From this last town the road divides, east- 
wards to Milan, and in a south-westerly direction to Turin, 
some thirty miles distant. Thus, an army successfully concen- 
trated at Ivrea — which was open to assault — would already 
have gained the right rear of the Austrian position, and might 
operate at discretion upon Turin, Milan, or even upon Genoa, 
by crossing the Po near the mouth of the Sesia. This point 
was, moreover, eminently central, considering that Moncey 
must of necessity descend by the St Gothard, and that 
Thurreaud already occupied the summits of Mont Cenis, 
whence he would soon be called upon to force his way into 


the plains. To either of these detachments the main column 
would so be enabled to stretch a helping hand in case of 
emergency and peril. Nor was there much reason for the 
First Consul to suppose that this concentration, pregnant with 
positive advantage, would meet with resistance on the part of 
the enemy. It was known that the Alpine gorges were some- 
what heedlessly watched by several detachments from Kaim's 
reserve, and that the little fortress of Bard might prove a 
slight impediment ; but in truth little opposition to such 
superior forces could be expected from either obstacle. 

These various considerations of time, distance, and direction 
prompted the First Consul to question Marescot as to the pos- 
sibility of using the pathway across the Great St Bernard for 
the main passage of his men, horses, and material. To that 
general's reply, that the operation was possible but extremely 
dangerous and difficult at the time of year, the only answer 
vouchsafed was the order for immediate preparation and de- 

It is clear that at this period the principal object of Buona- 
parte's concern was the safe issue of the army from the moun- 
tains into the Italian plains after the passage had been effected. 
Under all circumstances, to debouch from a defile, and to 
develop force in the presence of an expectant adversary, is 
an operation of exceeding difficulty. In order to surmount 
this, it is necessary either to conceal the purpose altogether, 
or, where such a possibility exists, to demonstrate from several 
quarters simultaneously, with a view to mask the main opera- 
tion. Both means were adopted in this instance with singular 
care. Not only, as has been seen, was the Great St Bernard 
selected for principal passage, the St Gothard left for Moncey, 
and Mont Cenis in possession of Thurreaud, but detachments 
were besides directed from the main army by the Simplon 
and Little St Bernard, under Bethencourt and Chabran respec- 
tively. This served the double purpose of insuring communi- 
cation between the several columns as they entered Italy, and 
of compelling the enemy to divide his forces in order to meet 
each point of invasion. 

The plan of operation being determined, the First Consul 

MAKENGO, 1800. 41 

descended from the higher considerations of strategy to the 
minute direction of all details necessary to its execution. 
In order to transport the artillery from St Pierre to the 
opposite side of the mountain various ingenious devices were 
employed. The guns, dismounted and placed on sledges, or 
encased in the trunks of trees hollowed out for the purpose, 
were to be dragged by Swiss peasants hired for the occasion. 
The carriages taken to pieces, numbered, and loaded upon 
mules, were afterwards to be put together again at St Eemy. 
Thus it became necessary to collect a great number of arti- 
ficers — blacksmiths, carpenters, and saddlers — at St Pierre. 
Thither, top, biscuit, grain, and stores of all kind were for- 
warded, transport being greatly facilitated by the presence of 
the lake. 

From the 8th to the 12th of May Buonaparte remained at 
Geneva, fully occupied with these duties. On the 13th, he, 
though occupying the high office of Minister of War, had 
been sent from Paris to Moreau's headquarters personally 
to superintend the departure of Moncey with 16,000 men for 
Italy. The welcome announcement by him that this move- 
ment had commenced, completed the last link in the chain of 
Buonaparte's combinations. After personal inspection of each 
division he immediately placed his army in motion for the 
foot of the St Bernard. 

The Army of Eeserve at this moment numbered about 
35,000 infantry and artillery, and 5000 cavalry, independent 
of the several detachments commanded by Moncey, Thurreaud, 
and Bethencourt. The four corps of which it was composed 
were severally led by Lannes, Duhesme, Victor, and Murat. 

Army of Reserve — Organisation. 

Lannes . . ) Brigade 

( do. 

Division. . . . Watrin. 
. Mahler. 
. Kiveaud. 

i Division 
Duliesnie . \ , 

, r . , ( Division 

Victor . \ , 

( do. 





{Reserve.) ( Division . . . Monnier. 

Murat . \ Brigade . . . Kellerman. 

( do. . • • Champeau. 

Total, 35,000 men. 

These do not include Chabran 6000, Moncey 15,000, Thurreaud 5000, 
detached by the Little St Bernard, St Gothard, and Mont Cenis, 
which would raise the above number to about 61,000. 

Echeloned in this order, they moved in succession from 
Villeneuve to St Pierre, which was reached by Lannes, with 
the advance-guard, on the 15th of May. Before daybreak, on 
the following morning, the ascent commenced, so calculated 
that one corps should cross the mountain with ammunition 
and provisions every twelve hours. Berthier preceded the 
march of the army to St Eemy, in order to superintend 
the arrangements necessary for the reception of the troops. 
The First Consul remained at Martigny, actively engaged in 
forwarding the material of the army — a work of great diffi- 
culty and labour — and in corresponding with his colleagues at 
Paris, as well as with Suchet, and with Moncey, who had 
already entered Switzerland. During four successive days 
the army filed across the mountain, cheerfully bearing up 
against fatigues of no ordinary character. Lannes in the 
meantime had pushed forward with some light guns to 
Etroubles, and dispersing the Austrian outposts, occupied 
Aosta on the 17th of May. At Chatillon, on the 18th, he 
drove in a small body of Croats who opposed his march, and 
then pushed on to Ivrea, with a view there to secure the 
mouth of the defile for the debouch of the army. 

Some ten miles below Chatillon, the valley, which hitherto 
gradually increases in development, suddenly contracts again, 
until it is almost closed by the convergence of the mountains 
at the little town of Bard. In the narrow space left open 
between them stands a large, detached, conical rock, which 
frowns gloomily upon the river and road, for the passage of 
which on different sides, just sufficient room remains. On its 
summit a small casemated fort had been constructed, which 
at this time was well furnished with artillery, and held a 

MARENGO, 1800. 43 

small garrison. From it both road and river were completely 
enfiladed, so that Lannes's onward march was at once arrested 
by an obstacle of no ordinary character. Berthier and 
Marescot hurrying up on receipt of the report, soon appreci- 
ated the extreme danger of the emergency. So long as Fort 
Bard remained in the enemy's possession entry into Piedmont 
appeared, at the moment, really impossible. For escalade or 
assault the rock was too steep, and there was no means of 
establishing batteries in such a position as to render it un- 
tenable by its garrison. In the meantime the narrow valley 
would be choked by the arrival of the rear divisions, whilst 
the provisions, nicely calculated for the operation, would not 
admit of any delay. Couriers were at once despatched to 
Buonaparte, at Martigny, to inform him of the danger by which 
his army was threatened. The startling intelligence reached 
him in the night of the 19th May, on which same day he had 
already received most reassuring news from Suchet. From 
this it appeared that, on the 14th of May, Melas was still at 
Nice, quite unconscious of his imminent danger, and that 
Genoa still held out in defiance of Ott. Kaim, therefore, 
alone remained in Piedmont, probably guarding the numerous 
roads by weak and isolated detachments. The only real peril, 
that of finding an enemy drawn up at Ivrea in position in 
order to oppose the head of the French column as it en- 
deavoured to emerge from the defile of Aosta, had thus 
vanished altogether. The difficulty presented at Bard could 
not impair the joyful impression which these tidings from the 
Var had created in the mind of the Eepublican general. True, 
it was an inconvenience, but one which must be surmounted 
by some means or other. Berthier's messengers were there- 
fore sent back with instructions for that officer to reconnoitre 
carefully the neighbouring mountains. Where sheep, goats, 
and shepherds were present, paths for communication must 
also exist, by which the infantry, at any rate, could turn the 
impediment to its progress. With forced labour from the 
peasantry such paths might even become practicable for the 
cavalry, so that, under any circumstances, the army might 
reach Ivrea, though possibly deprived, for a time, of the 
services of its artillery. The occasion, however, was suffici- 


ently serious to demand the First Consul's presence in person ; 
accordingly, he crossed the St Bernard on a mule led by a 
peasant, on the 20th of May, and joined Berthier before Bard 
early on the day following. In the meantime Lannes had 
thrown a few companies of grenadiers into the houses of the 
town, and summoned the commandant of the fort. Captain 
Bemkopf, who occupied it, fully alive to the importance of 
the post committed to his care, expressed his intention of 
defending it to extremity, and at once reported to Turin the 
magnitude of the operation in course of execution. A path 
had, however, been discovered which led along the scarped 
sides of Mount Albaredo to St Donaz, where it rejoined the 
highroad below the fort. With great exertion this was made 
practicable for the cavalry, so that Lannes succeeded in pass- 
ing his division by moving in single file in the evening and 
during the night of the 21st May. 

Although an army, composed of infantry and cavalry only, 
might operate with possible success against a very inferior 
adversary in the close and intersected country about Ivrea, 
manoeuvres on a large scale without artillery in the open 
country were entirely out of the question. It was determined, 
therefore, with a view to test the staunchness of the Austrian 
garrison, to attempt the escalade of the outer enclosure of the 
fort. The effort was made with desperate gallantry under the 
eyes of the First Consul by Dufour, with 300 grenadiers. It 
resulted, as Marescot had predicted, in the loss of nearly all 
concerned, without the slightest impression having been made. 
There can be no doubt but that Buonaparte was equally aware 
of the hopelessness of the enterprise, supposing the garrison 
to do its duty. It is not always, however, that officers in 
similar emergency are as equal to the occasion as Captain 
Bemkopf proved himself to be ; the test, expensive in human 
life as it was, seems justified by circumstances ; its failure 
redounds to the honour of the Austrian, rather than to the 
discredit of the French commander. 

Force having thus failed, stratagem was resorted to — this 
time successfully. During the night the road leading through 
the town was covered with straw, dung, and other soft 
material; the wheels of the gun -carnages and ammunition- 

MARENGO, 1800. 45 

waggons were muffled, and the pieces themselves encased in 
tow, so as to avoid all noise. They were then dragged by 
volunteer artillerymen through the street under the guns of 
the fort, which, occasionally fired by the garrison by way of 
precaution, caused some little loss. The artifice, however, 
proved fully successful, and the whole of the heavy artillery 
was thus removed beyond the defile, whilst the horses were 
led round by Mount Albaredo. 

On the 2 2d of May Lannes carried Ivrea, occupied by Briey's 
brigade, by a daring coup de main, and then took position at 
the mouth of the valley to cover the advance of the other 
divisions. Slowly, but without further impediment, they 
successively arrived during the following days, concentration 
being fully effected by the 27th of May. 

Whilst the main operation was thus successfully com- 
pleted, the several detachments were struggling towards their 

Chabran, issuing from the Great St Bernard, had reached 
Aosta, and was immediately charged with the investment of 
Bard, which could not safely be left in the enemy's hands 
upon the French line of communications. 

Thurreaud, descending from Mont Cenis, had carried Susa 
after severe fighting, and, covering his front with intrench- 
ments, felt anxiously with his left for communication with 

Bethencourt debouching from the Simplon, after a terrible 
march, had repulsed De Kohan with the aid of Lecci's Italians, 
and would soon reach Arona, at the southern extremity of the 
Lago Maggiore. 

Moncey, lastly, a little behind time, was now ascending 
the northern slopes of the St Gothard, and could hardly be 
counted upon for co-operation for another ten days. 

Such is a brief outline of this great operation, the execution 
of which fixed with startled admiration the public gaze of 
Europe, and at once raised Buonaparte in general estimation 
to a level with the greatest captains of past generations. To 
us, who have carefully studied the means by which such 
effect was produced, a source of instructive reflection is 
opened. Breadth and power of comprehension, industry in 


detail, enterprise with perseverance, natural resource, and 
undeviating firmness of purpose, are the qualities required 
from all who aspire to high military distinction. In them 
we find the key to the grandest results which are chronicled 
in the pages of history ; we may rest assured that the same 
rule will hold good for all future times. 

Melas was at Nice, vainly endeavouring to force the pas- 
sage of the Var, which Suchet defended. As time wore on 
— for six weeks had now elapsed since the opening of the 
campaign — he naturally felt anxious concerning the possible 
use to which any fresh troops the First Consul might now 
have at his disposal could be turned. Although the notion 
of a completely organised army, prepared expressly for inter- 
vention in Italy, had been ridiculed in London and Vienna, 
common-sense suggested that Buonaparte was not the man 
to remain idle whilst the Army of Liguria was exposed to 
such unequal contest. The rumours which reached Austrian 
headquarters were, however, exceedingly vague, and it was 
not before the 19th of May that Melas received reliable 
information that a French diversion from the side of the Alps 
was in course of execution. The intelligence could not have 
been altogether unexpected; nothing would appear more 
natural than that an attempt should be made from this quarter, 
by indirect effort, to relieve Massena. But Kaim having 
been left with a comparatively small force of infantry in 
Piedmont, it seemed desirable to reinforce him in this par- 
ticular arm. Leaving Elsnitz with 18,000 men before Suchet, 
Melas therefore determined to hurry in person with two 
strong brigades to the Sardinian capital, with a view to pro- 
tect the operations pending in the Riviera from that point. 
On the 22d of May he reached Coni, and on the 27th — the 
same day that had witnessed the concentration of the Army 
of Reserve at Ivrea — he arrived at Turin. On his march, 
Melas had heard of Thurreaud's advance upon Susa, and had 
received the report from the commandant of Fort Bard. He 
was inclined to attach greater importance to the former move- 
ment, as proceeding from that side where entry into Italy 
might be most readily effected. It seemed so natural for an 
officer situated as Bernkopf was at Bard, to over-estimate the 

MARENGO, 1800. 47 

number of his foes. The Austrian general felt assured that, 
under any circumstances, the 10,000 soldiers he had brought 
with him, and who would raise Kaim's force to about 35,000 
well-appointed troops, would amply suffice to keep Berthier 
at a distance, from whichever side he might appear. So easy 
is it in war to accept conclusions harmonising with our 
wishes, rather than those which the voice of prudence but 
timidly suggests. 

Of the three divisions which composed Kaim's wing, 
Wukassowich had been guarding the Simplon and St Gothard, 
Haddick the valley of Aosta, and Lamarsaille the defile of 
Susa. With the exception of the brigade watching the St 
Gothard, each of these detachments had been driven in from 
the posts which they had occupied by the advance of the 
French. On Melas's arrival, the official reports announcing 
these events had reached Turin, accompanied with the dis- 
credited statement that Buonaparte himself had already been 
seen at Ivrea. The confirmation of this report by an officer 
who had known the Kepublican general during the campaigns 
of 1796-97, first impressed Melas with a gloomy presentiment 
of the trials in store for him. Of Moncey's advance by the 
St Gothard, however, he was still profoundly ignorant; so 
that, himself intent upon gaining possession of Genoa, it was 
natural he should presume that the relief of that fortress, now- 
reduced to extremity, must necessarily form the First Consul's 
primary object. In this conjecture he was strengthened by 
later intelligence, which announced that Lannes, advancing 
from Ivrea on the 26th of May, had beaten Haddick the day 
following on the Chinsella, and was now making for Chivasso, 
on the Po. Without a moment's delay he therefore collected 
the battalions within reach, and placing them in position 
opposite to Chivasso, determined to dispute the passage of the 
main river. Simultaneously he forwarded instructions to 
Wukassowich to retire to the left bank of the Ticinus, in order 
to defend the line of that river, and thus to cover the Austrian 
communications in Lombardy. These dispositions have been 
much criticised, and yet, impartially considered by the light 
of the information which the veteran commander at that 
time possessed, they seem perfectly reasonable and sound. It 


appeared very improbable that Buonaparte, abandoning Mas- 
seua, leaving Thurreaud dangerously isolated at Susa, and, 
above all, neglecting his only communication through the Val 
d'Aosta with his base, would march from Ivrea by his left 
upon Milan. Assuredly his purpose must be to seize Turin, 
and, calling in Thurreaud, to force the line of the Po, in order 
to redeem the promises so confidently relied upon by Massena 
in his extreme adversity. Posted as Melas was, he certainly 
had every prospect of defeating such a design. In case of 
reverse on the Po, he would fall back upon the Apennines, lean- 
ing on his fortresses, and there defend the passages leading to 
the Riviera. The surrender of Genoa, from Ott's reports daily 
expected, would then place the investing army at his disposal, 
and soon enable him to regain the initiative from his formid- 
able adversary. Moncey's march by the St Gothard stultified 
these conjectures, and rendered futile the consequent disposi- 
tions. Merit, as it ever must, paled before genius ; for genius 
alone could have thus justly measured the true value of the 
detachment which was wrung with so much difficulty from 

Meanwhile, the task of investing Genoa had proved no 
sinecure to Ott. 

A well -designed attack upon the forts which crown the 
heights surrounding the town having failed on the 30th of 
April, the Austrian general thenceforward restricted his efforts 
to the reduction of the fortress by famine. Quiet submission 
to a slow process of starvation was not in Massena's character. 
In several sorties he worsted his antagonist, and on the 11th 
of May inflicted upon him severe defeat. Two days later, 
in the hopes of following up his success, he again assaulted 
Ott's position ; but the exertion demanded from his wearied 
soldiers proved too great for their powers of endurance. Re- 
pulsed on all points, they returned dispirited to Genoa, having 
left Soult, dangerously wounded, a prisoner to the enemy. 
From this time all thoughts of offence were abandoned, the 
attention of the French general being now turned to economis- 
ing the means of subsistence which were left to him. 

The account of the straits and suffering to which the inhabi- 
tants, as well as the garrison, were exposed during the ensuing 

MARENGO, 1800. 49 

days of trial is heart-rending. In spite of famine, insurrection, 
and all the miseries attending constant bombardment, Massena 
throughout successfully asserted the influence which enabled 
him to fulfil his terrible task. As the last long days of May 
passed away, he still maintained the heroic bearing which 
alone constrained the murmurs of his soldiers, and the despair 
of the populace. It was known to him that the Army of Be- 
serve had already entered Italy ; and whilst he daily awaited 
relief which would terminate his exertions, he fully realised 
the importance to the First Consul of every hour gained by 
Ott's detention. To those who, in future days, may find them- 
selves similarly situated, no happier example of intelligence, 
firmness, and military spirit can be offered than that displayed 
by Massena during the defence of Genoa. But human endur- 
ance has its necessary limits, and the first day of June, if no 
assistance arrived, must assuredly witness the surrender of the 
Ligurian stronghold. 

Elsnitz in the meantime, repeatedly repulsed by Suchet, 
had, since Melas' s departure, gradually relapsed to a defen- 
sive attitude. Thus, during the last days of May, both 
he and Melas were simply covering Ott's operations at 

Thanks, therefore, to the prolonged defence of that fortress, 
Buonaparte, upon entering Italy, soon found himself fully mas- 
ter of the situation, free to act in whichever direction he might 
select. The relief of Genoa being his announced object, it 
certainly appeared natural that he should march upon Turin 
in order firmly to establish himself, based upon Susa and Sa- 
voy, before he moved directly to Massena's aid. Such, as we 
have seen, was the opinion entertained at Austrian headquar- 
ters : it was a just and reasonable surmise, considering that no 
report of Moncey's movements had as yet reached Melas. We 
may be equally assured that, with the knowledge of the French 
dispositions which we now possess, the Austrian general would 
not long have doubted the object of the First Consul's march. 
In good truth, Buonaparte's plan had long been matured ; the 
relief of Genoa, to him, was but a secondary object ; he played 
for higher stakes— the highest, always, of which circumstances 
would admit. His earliest fixed resolve, from the first, had 



been, if opportunity allowed, to throw himself, with 60,000 
soldiers, across Melas' s communications, then to force him to do 
battle where defeat was destruction. It was quite possible 
that this manoeuvre might serve Massena better than any more 
direct operation ; for Melas, once alive to his danger, would 
surely raise the siege of Genoa in order to hurry back to his 
base. Otherwise, Genoa must meet her fate, consoled by the 
reflection that, without her devoted aid, the ends of the cam- 
paign could never have been attained. 

On the 28th of May Buonaparte joined Lannes at Chivasso, 
where he witnessed his adversary's preparations for defending 
the line of the Po. Leaving Lannes here to sustain the delu- 
sion, he started with the remaining divisions for the Ticinus, 
which river he reached without opposition. On the 31st of 
May, after a sharp engagement with Wukassowich, whose posi- 
tion, owing to Moncey's advance, was already compromised, 
the passage of that river was forced at Turbigo, and subse- 
quently at Buffalora. Wukassowich then withdrew behind 
the Adda, and the French were once more led in triumph by 
the victor of Lodi, on the 2d of June, into the Lombard capi- 
tal. Lannes, meanwhile, had remained at Chivasso until the 
29th of May, demonstrating towards Turin ; then slipping dex- 
terously from his enemy he crossed the Sesia near its mouth, 
and gaining the lower Ticinus seized Pavia, which fortress, 
full of stores, ammunition, and artillery, had been left by Melas 
altogether powerless for defence. 

No sooner was the direction of this flank march revealed to 
Melas, than, trusting that Wukassowich would check the French 
advance upon the Ticinus, he resolved to cross to the north 
bank of the Po, in order by way of Vercelli to fall upon the 
rear of the French columns. About to execute this intention 
on the evening of the 31st of May, he was informed of the cir- 
cumstances which had rendered the retreat of Wukassowich 
imperatively necessary. Then, and not till then, did he fully 
realise the extent of the combination of which he was soon to 
be the victim. With calm energy the old man resolved at 
last to abandon the blood-stained prize in the Riviera which 
had already cost him so dear. Ordering Elsnitz to retire from 
Nice by way of Coni, Cherasco, and Asti, and directing Ott to 

MAEENGO, 1800. 51 

raise the siege of Genoa, he determined to concentrate the 
whole of his forces about Alessandria. Had this order been 
punctually executed, Melas might still have avoided the fate 
which was in store for him ; but the evil genius which of 
late had thwarted his every resolve, was not yet fully ap- 
peased. Before Elsnitz could receive the order, Suchet 
had attacked him with such vehemence and ability that the 
Austrian general was forced to retreat. Anxious to cover 
Genoa at any price, he halted on the Eoya, and there received 
his commander's latest instructions. But Suchet had already 
seized the Tenda road, and manoeuvring boldly by his left, 
sought to involve Elsnitz in signal disaster. In this he fully 
succeeded ; for when the Austrians at last reached Ceva, at the 
head of the Bormida valley, on the 7th of June, but 8000 of 
his men remained with their colours. Ten thousand veteran 
soldiers had been sacrificed during this short but fatal retreat. 
Ott, on the other hand, had received Melas's despatch, which, 
unfortunately, did not explain the events which had occurred 
in Piedmont on the 1st June, twenty-four hours after the first 
negotiations with Massena for the surrender of the fortress 
had been opened. How was he, under these circumstances, 
to act ? Should he literally obey his superior's orders, issued 
in ignorance of the state of affairs at Genoa ? Was it not 
rather advisable, considering the value of Genoa for subse- 
quent operations, to await further instructions after his own 
report which had crossed Melas's courier had reached head- 
quarters ? In his difficulty he consulted the British admiral, 
with whom he had hitherto co-operated. Lord Keith's opinion 
coincided with his own in deciding upon the latter alternative ; 
a resolve which was subsequently approved by Melas, pro- 
vided Ott prepared to march in the given direction the moment 
Massena had evacuated the fortress. On the 4th of June, the 
French general affixed his signature to the terms which allowed 
him, unrestricted as to future action, to rejoin Suchet, who, 
unknown to his chief, had already reached the neighbourhood 
of Savona, The day following, the garrison of Genoa, reduced 
to 8000 half-starved soldiers, marched through the Austrian 
posts accompanied with all the honours of war, and was im- 
mediately replaced by sixteen battalions under Hohenzollern. 


Then Ott, whose destination had meanwhile been altered to 
Piacenza, commenced his march by the Bochetta, having pre- 
viously detached Gottesheim, with some infantry battalions, by 
the shorter Trebbia valley, to the same point. 

It is evident that Melas could regain the Mincio— now his 
sole object — from Alessandria by either bank of the Po. The 
northern bank of that river was occupied, as he knew, by the 
whole of the Army of Reserve ; whilst the road by Tortona 
and Piacenza, the shortest and most direct, was still open. 
But this road, which was naturally selected for the above 
reasons, traversed the narrow defile of Stradella, which it 
was all important to secure, and which was commanded by 
Piacenza, From a careless sense of security, that fortress, 
like Pavia, had been left almost unguarded, and was now 
actually within easier reach of the French than of the Aus- 
trians. The town and citadel, however, were on the southern 
bank of the river, and contained some two or three hundred 
soldiers, who watched the magazines. With a view to be 
first up at this decisive point, O'Reilly was instructed to 
start with some cavalry squadrons to the support of the gar- 
rison, and to endeavour to hold out until Gottesheim and Ott, 
arriving in succession, could then firmly establish themselves. 

While Elsnitz and Kaim were thus marching upon Ales- 
sandria, and O'Reilly, Gottesheim, and Ott were straining for 
Piacenza, the First Consul was at Milan. 

Before the decisive operation of the campaign could be com- 
menced, it was necessary to await Moncey's arrival, and to 
order a system of administration in the capital, by which the 
army could be regularly provided with supplies. Some days, 
too, must necessarily elapse before the military dispositions 
could be completed ; so that there is little doubt that Buona- 
parte, at this time, had already reconciled himself to the 
temporary loss of Genoa. A decisive victory on the banks of 
the Po would, however, restore that stronghold, as well as all 
her old possessions in Italy, to the Republic. To this end, 
therefore, the whole of his energies were now applied. 

Duhesme and Loison were first directed upon Lodi, where 
they crossed the Adda in pursuit of Wukassowich, who, falling 
back upon Crema and Brescia, ultimately retreated to Mantua. 

MARENGO, 1800. 53 

Pizzighitone was then invested by Buhesme, who, calling in 
Loison from Brescia, where Lecchi replaced him, subsequently 
made himself master of the important post of Cremona. Here 
Loison at once crossed to the southern bank of the Po, march- 
ing for Piacenza, upon which fortress Murat had been simul- 
taneously directed by way of Lodi, from Milan. Lannes, too, from 
Pavia, was already constructing a bridge across the main river 
at Belgiojoso, below the mouth of the Ticinus, with a view to 
cross to the southern bank, and, supported by Victor, to secure 
the defile, which takes its name from the village of Stradella. 
Moncey, who had meanwhile brought his three divisions under 
Lapoype, Lorges, and Gilly into line, was ordered with the 
first to replace Lannes, at Pavia, whilst the others garrisoned 
Milan and the adjacent towns. Fort Bard having capitulated 
on the 1st of June, Chabran was instructed to occupy the line 
of the Po, carefully watching the progress of that river from 
Chivasso to the Ticinus, where he would communicate with 
Lapoype. A garrison was to be left at Bard and Ivrea, which 
had been hastily fortified, with a view to maintain communi- 
cation by that line with Switzerland. For the same reason 
Bethencourt remained at Arona, and Moncey's rear -guard 
occupied Bellinzona in the Simplon and St Gothard valleys. 

The object of these dispositions is sufficiently apparent. 
Before any important step could be undertaken upon the 
central Po, it was necessary to guard the French left from in- 
terruption on the side of the Mincio ; hence the occupation of 
the line Brescia-Cremona. The avowed purpose of the First 
Consul being to obstruct Melas's retreat, and bring him to 
decisive battle, it was necessary to determine that road by 
which the Austrian general would endeavour to retire. The 
same reasons which influenced Melas's choice decided the dis- 
positions of the French general ; at the same time it would 
not be prudent to leave the longer road, which cut the French 
communications on the north bank of the Po, weakly occupied. 
Thus, whilst Lannes, Victor, Murat, and Loison were moving 
upon Piacenza, with a view to block the Stradella defile en 
masse, Chabran watched the higher passage of the Po, and 
Lapoype, appuyed upon Pavia, was prepared to defend the 
line of the Ticinus. The difficult object was, so to echelon 


the French divisions, on both banks of the Po, that in which- 
ever direction Melas might appear, a sufficiency of force could 
be concentrated to insure his defeat. Lastly, in case of dis- 
aster, the Army of Eeserve would retire, as it had advanced, 
by the various passes which conducted to Switzerland, all of 
which it still held in possession. 

The execution of these movements soon brought the two 
armies into hostile conflict. Lannes, crossing the main river 
at Belgiojoso on the 6th of June, had barely effected a lodg- 
ment with a small portion of his men on the southern bank, 
before these were vigorously attacked by a detachment under 
Prince Taxis, marching from Alessandria to Piacenza. The 
French were favoured by the ground, and fighting well, under 
Watrin, repulsed Taxis with severe loss. 

On the evening of the same day, Murat, accompanied by 
his cavalry and Boudet's division, appeared suddenly before 
the tete de pont of Piacenza. Into this the commandant 
had thrown his small garrison, and arming the works with 
what guns he could muster, beat back the French assault with 
such hardy courage, that Murat decided to defer further effort 
until the following morning. In the night the garrison retired 
by the bridge, which they partially destroyed, into the citadel, 
and during the day O'Reilly with his cavalry arrived. But 
Murat, correctly estimating the value of the place, soon found 
means to throw the French infantry across the river at Nocello, 
and then entering the streets of the town, engaged the Austrian 
cavalry with great advantage. To add to his embarrassment, 
O'Reilly received intelligence of the defeat of Taxis, whom he 
had expected, and of the near approach of a large train of 
Austrian artillery. To rescue this, which was in imminent 
danger of falling into the hands of the French, he extricated 
himself from the hopeless contest, and, galloping back upon 
the Stradella road, succeeded, with daring gallantry, in escort- 
ing the artillery, through Lannes's posts, back to Tortona. 
Hardly had O'Reilly departed when the head of Gottesheim's 
column appeared before the town from the side of the Trebbia. 
But the French were already in great force on the southern 
bank, and charging vigorously, drove the Austrian brigade, 
utterly routed, back into the mountains. The same fate was 

MABENGO, 1800. 55 

experienced by another regiment which came up from Tuscany 
by the Parma road; so that, on the 8th of June, Murat remained 
in undisputed possession of this important point. Twelve 
additional hours would seem to have been sufficient for the 
concentration of these several detachments, under O'Keilly's 
command, an event which might seriously have interfered with 
the after operations of the French ; so great is the value of 
time in war. 

Meanwhile Ott, marching from Genoa, had reached Novi on 
the 7th of June, and then pushed on to Tortona. But the 
swollen state of the Scrivia delayed his passage of that river 
until the following day, on the evening of which he bivouacked 
with about 16,000 men at Voghera and Casteggio. Here, if he 
continued his march, he must inevitably come into collision 
with Lannes, whose light troops, advanced from Broni, had 
already skirmished with the Austrian riflemen. Intent upon 
gaining Piacenza, and ignorant of the French masses which 
interposed between him and his destination, Ott determined 
to engage. 

On the following day, the 9th of June, he fought the battle 
of Montebello with Lannes and Victor. The probability of such 
an action had been foreseen by Buonaparte, who had reached 
Pavia on the 7th, and was closely watching the turn of events. 
The precautions which he had wisely taken rendered success 
on Ott's part hopeless ; so that, with the loss of 4000, that 
general retired somewhat discouraged behind the Scrivia. 
The First Consul had not received the intelligemce of the 
surrender of Genoa until the 8th of June, and was still 
entirely ignorant of the terms of evacuation. He conse- 
quently deemed it prudent, considering the great dissemina- 
tion of his forces, to remain in position at Straclella after the 
battle of Montebello. But during three days no signs of 
hostile approach presented themselves; and then, terribly 
anxious lest his adversary should escape him, he moved for- 
wards into the plains of the Scrivia. 

Melas was, in fact, now concentrated under the walls of 
Alessandria, and, weary of the constant ill-fortune which 
attended his dispositions, was preparing to try the last stern 
issue of the sword. 


It has been stated that the First Consul, tired of waiting in 
his formidable position at Stradella for the appearance of the 
Austrian columns — fearful, moreover, lest his adversary should 
have decided upon some other course than that which he had 
confidently attributed to him — advanced on the afternoon of 
the 12th of June, with the whole of the force which had held 
the defile, towards the Scrivia. 

On the 13th he crossed that river, debouching into the 
broad plain which extends to the Bormida. Towards evening, 
in the absence of any indication of the enemy's presence, 
Victor's corps was pushed forward in the direction of Alessan- 
dria. In the village of Marengo these troops came into col- 
lision with an Austrian detachment belonging to O'Reilly's 
command, which, with some slight show of resistance, fell 
back upon the intrenchments which covered the bridges span- 
ning the Bormida. A futile effort was made by Victor to 
carry these, and eventually his most advanced posts were con- 
tented with occupying the little hamlet of Pedrabuona. 

Victor's report was little calculated to allay the First 
Consul's anxiety. Were Melas really concentrated at Ales- 
sandria with a view to force his passage to the Mincio through 
the French lines, he must obviously first lead his soldiers 
across the Bormida in order to gain the road which conducts 
by Tortona and Voghera to Piacenza. To secure this opera- 
tion from dangerous interruption, the most ordinary fore- 
thought would seem to have suggested that the village of 
Marengo, with the line of the Fontanone, should have been 
obstinately defended against Victor's advance. As no serious 
effort had been made to this end, the doubts which already 
harassed the French general received additional substance. 
He feared, indeed, that his adversary was about to elude his 
grasp, thus to rob him of the precious fruits expected from a 
combination so daring and genial. Intent upon regaining the 
touch of his enemy which he felt momentarily lost, he hurried 
back to his headquarters at Voghera, leaving Victor with his 
two divisions at Marengo, and placing Lannes, by way of pre- 
caution, echeloned in support of the former general on the 
plain. But the Scrivia, owing to sudden rain in the moun- 
tains, had overflowed its banks, and thus Buonaparte, much to 

MARENGO, 1800. 57 

his aunoyaiice, was forced to spend the night at Torre di 
Garofoldo. To this circumstance, which admitted of his early 
presence on the battle-field the following morning, he probably 
owed his victory. The advices which reached him here from 
the Ticinus and the Lower Po reported that all was quiet in 
those parts; and so the unwelcome conjecture forced itself upon 
him that Melas, wisely avoiding a conflict in which so many 
chances were enlisted against him, had retired upon Genoa, 
now open for his reception. 

Judging after the event, every dictate of prudence would 
seem to have counselled this step on the part of the Austrian 
commander. It would appear, indeed, as though 40,000 
soldiers posted in the Mediterranean fortress, supported and 
supplied with every want by the British fleet, might have 
defied attack, and have prolonged the war to an indefinite 
extent. From Genoa, too, the possibility existed of gaining 
Tuscany, either by sea or land, there to recommence operations 
from a fresh base in allied territory, or thence to regain the 
Adige and the Mincio. The advisability of such a course had 
presented itself with great force to the mind of the old general, 
but the sense of his soldiers was against it. The veterans who 
had conquered on so many fields were reluctant now to turn 
their backs upon the foe who challenged them so roughly. 
Besides, experience had shown that not much reliance could 
be placed on British co-operation, and at Genoa the army 
must be dependent for its every movement upon the fleet 
of a closely-allied but foreign Power. For these reasons the 
idea had already been discarded in the Austrian camp. But 
Buonaparte, to whom this was of course unknown, deter- 
mined at any risk to ascertain the truth. During the last few 
days he had been joined by Desaix, who had recently returned 
from Egypt — an officer of marked ability, in whom he placed 
implicit reliance. On arrival, this general had at once been 
intrusted with the command of the reserve divisions, Monnier 
and Boudet. With the last of these he was now directed to 
march for Rivalta and Novi, with a view to learn whether the 
much-dreaded retrograde movement had really been com- 
menced by the Austrians. Thus the French forces, already 
scattered over a vast extent of territory on either bank of the 


Po, were still further disseminated on the eve of the impend- 
ing battle. 

It will be interesting here to recall to recollection the posi- 
tions occupied on the night of the 13th of June by the several 
French divisions. 

On the north bank of the Po, Thurreaud was still intrenched 
at Susa, held in check by the garrison left by the Austrians in 
the citadel of Turin. Chabran guarded the line of the Po 
between the Sesia and the Ticinus, and garrisoned Ivrea. 
Bethencourt remained at Arona. Lapoype held Pavia and 
the line of the Ticinus ; and the other divisions belonging to 
Moncey's command, under Gilly and Lorges, supported him 
at Milan and on the Adda. The Italian brigade occupied 
Brescia ; whilst Duhesme, striding across the Po at Cremona, 
carefully watched the avenues of approach from the Mincio 
and the Apennines. Not less than 30,000 soldiers were thus 
absent from the spot where the fate of the campaign was 
about to be decided. 

South of the Po, Victor was at Marengo ; Lannes supported 
him a short distance in rear on the plain ; Murat, with the 
cavalry and Monnier's division, took post on the Scrivia at 
Ponte Curone and Castel Nuovo; and Desaix bivouacked with 
Boudet's division in the vicinity of Pdvalta. Finally, Suchet 
had already made his appearance on the northern slopes of 
the Apennines, in the direction of Acqui, having left Massena 
with some strong detachments in the vicinity of Savona. 

On the other hand, the pressing demands made upon Melas, 
together with the terrible losses he had experienced, had re- 
duced his fighting force to 31,000 combatants now assembled 
at Alessandria. Garrisons at Genoa, Savona, Alessandria, 
Tonarto, Casale, Turin, Milan, and in numerous other citadels, 
absorbed fully 25,000 men, whilst Wukassowich, who had 
retreated behind the Mincio, and the garrisons in Venetia, 
were paralysed for present purposes of the campaign. 

MARENGO, 1800. 


Strength and Organisation of the French Army at the 
Battle of Marengo. 
Lieutenant-General Victor. 

Gardanne .... 3691 

Chambarlhac .... 5287 

Lieutenant-General Lannes. 

Watrin 5083 

Lieutenant- General Desaix. 


Monnier .... 
Boudet .... 
Consular Garde 




Lieutenant-General Murat. 
Champeaux . 
Rivaud .... 
Consular Garde 




Grand total 



Strength and Organisation of the Austrian Army at the 
Battle of Marengo. 





Riglit Column 

O'Reilly . . . 



800 Cavalry. 


Advance-guard . 



450 Cavalry. 


Pilati . 



Haddick . . . < 

St Julien 
De Briey 


Main Body . / 

Kaim . . . < 








Morzin (Grena- \ 
diers) ) 






Elsnitz (Cavalry) j 

Nobili . 







250 Cavalry. 

Left Column < 

Schellenberg 1 
Vogelsang ) 

Eetz . . 
Sticker . 


550 Cavalry. 



Ulm. . 




Total . 

. 30,850 j 

7450 Cavalry. 


Nevertheless, actual circumstances singularly favoured the 
hardy resolution of the Austrian chief. To oppose his march 
to the Scrivia, Lannes and Victor together could barely muster 
18,000 soldiers, nor could these be supported, in case they 
accepted action, for several hours to come. During the night, 
however, reports reached the First Consul from his advance 
posts, which convinced him that his fears had been groundless ; 
and messengers were despatched in hot haste to recall Desaix, 
as well as to order up Murat and Monnier from the Lower 

The plain, which since the battle has borne the name of 
Marengo, offered further advantages to the Austrians, inasmuch 
as it favoured the development of their cavalry and artillery, 
in which arms they were much superior to the French. 

The Po here flows at some distance from the Apennines, 
and the broad open space cultivated throughout, which separ- 
ated the main river from the mountains, is intersected by the 
Tanaro, Bormida, Scrivia, and Staffora. The actual battle- 
field is enclosed between the Scrivia and Bormida, the object 
of contest being the highroad which leads from Alessandria 
through Marengo and San Giuliano to Tortona and Piacenza. 
A second road conducts from the same fortress, through 
Castel Ceriolo, either to Sale and further to Cambio on the 
Po, or to Castel Nuovo on the Scrivia, and thence to Voghera, 
where it rejoins the main thoroughfare. 

Two bridges spanned the Bormida close to the fortress, pro- 
tected by a tete de pont ; and parallel to this river streamed 
the deep and marshy Fontanone brook, on the eastern bank of 
which stood the village of Marengo. The plain is studded with 
farms and hamlets ; and the action of cavalry, though practi- 
cable in most parts, was somewhat impeded by the cultivation. 

In a stirring order of the day, the Austrian general an- 
nounced his intention of fighting to his army, reminded it of 
earlier triumphs, and called upon his soldiers to do their duty 
in the coming struggle. His plan was, to debouch with the 
whole of his army by the bridges on the Bormida, at daybreak 
on the 14th of June, into the plain of Marengo, and then 
detaching Ott with 8000 men to Castel Ceriolo in order to 
meet a strong hostile column reported from that direction, to 

MARENGO, 1800. Gl 

march himself with the divisions commanded by Haddick, 
Kaim, Morzin, and Elsnitz, 20,000 strong, by way of Marengo 
to San Giuliano, regulating his subsequent movements by the 
amount of resistance encountered. O'Eeilly, with 3000 men, 
would ascend the Bormida towards La Stortigliona, and thus 
cover the right flank of the army. 

This last general, who had bivouacked during the night 
outside the intrenchments, headed the line of march. He 
soon found himself engaged with the troops belonging to 
Gardanne at Pedrabuona, and drove them back in considerable 
confusion upon Marengo. Had he followed up his success 
and entered the village with the fugitives, the events of the 
day might have turned out very differently ; but his orders 
directed him to march upon La Stortigliona, nor could he 
depend upon the immediate support which he would certainly 
require. The difficulty of debouching by the single issue from 
the tete de pont was in fact already making itself felt. Before 
Haddick, who followed O'Reilly, could fully deploy his divi- 
sion, two hours had elapsed, and a third was lost ere Kaim 
took post in second line according to the order of battle. 
Then Haddick, covered by his batteries, as O'Reilly moved off 
by his right, advanced to assault Marengo. It will be recol- 
lected that between him and the village was the deep and 
difficult bed of the Fontanone, offering an admirable line of 
defence to the French. The configuration of the rivulet at 
this point is such that troops advancing by the road from 
Alessandria towards the village must inevitably be exposed to 
a crushing fire in front and flank, and Victor had made good 
use of the early hours lost bj r the Austrians to complete his 
dispositions for receiving them. Haddick, consequently, 
found all his efforts to surmount this obstacle vain, and, on 
the point of abandoning his object, fell mortally wounded. 
His soldiers giving way were immediately replaced by Kaim, 
who, after suffering cruel loss, was in turn compelled to retire. 
Meanwhile Pilati had succeeded in throwing a few squadrons 
across the brook a short distance above Marengo. He was 
about to roll up Chambarlhac's infantry, which lined the bank 
of the stream, when Kellerman, who had been watching his 
opportunity, charged violently before the Austrian horsemen 


had gained sufficient footing, hurling men and horses back 
into the muddy brook. In the interim, too, Lannes, moving 
up from Li Poggi, had brought his men into line on Victor's 
right towards La Barbotta. Making free use of his troops, he 
prepared here to take Kaim, who was still struggling along 
the stream, in flank, and was with difficulty contained by the 
rallied battalions belonging to Haddick. Everywhere, as yet, 
victory inclined to the French, but Ott had not yet made his 
appearance at Castel Ceriolo, and M^las still held the divisions 
belonging to Elsnitz and Morzin in reserve. The French, on 
the other hand, had developed the whole of their available 
force — the line along the Fontanone assuming the following 
formation : on the left, Kellerman, with his cavalry, covered 
that flank of the position which was then occupied in the 
order named by the divisions of Chambarlhac, Gardanne, and 
Watrin, under Victor and Lannes respectively ; the extreme 
right towards Castel Ceriolo being feebly protected by the 
remainder of the cavalry under Champeaux. 

Bitterly the Austrian general now regretted the oversight 
which had permitted him to abandon so easily on the pre- 
ceding evening the key to the plain he was so anxious to gain. 
To add to his troubles, he at this moment — about 9 a.m. — 
received intelligence of Suchet's approach from the side of 
Acqui. In this emergency, the exceeding difficulty of his 
position appears somewhat to have clouded the otherwise 
clear judgment of the veteran officer. Under any circum- 
stances, the battle which he was now fighting must be termi- 
nated before Suchet could possibly make his appearance. To 
detach, therefore, from the actual battle-field, was uselessly to 
deprive himself of the aid of soldiers whose assistance might 
turn the scale in his favour. But Melas thought otherwise, 
and, in a fatal moment, ordered Nimptsch to recross the Bor- 
mida with 2000 cavalry, taken from the reserve, in order to 
observe, and if necessary confront, this new danger.* 

Ott's column had closed the line of march from the left bank 
of the Bormida, and was first able to proceed to its destination, 
when the other troops had successively filed out of the in- 

* Suchet appears only to have reached Acqui, after a forced march, on the 
night of the 14th of June. 

MARENGO, 1800. C3 

trenchments ; his action, consequently, had been much re- 
tarded. Having occupied Castel Ceriolo at last without 
impediment, and finding no enemy on his front, he turned 
to his right and bore down heavily upon Lannes's flank. This 
attack, apparently unexpected, forced Lannes to effect a partial 
change of front, and Melas, thus relieved on his left, made 
his last effort against Victor at Marengo. Preparing his 
assault with an overwhelming artillery-fire, he brought up 
Lattermann's grenadiers from the reserve, and, supporting 
these crack troops with the remnants of Kaim's force, he suc- 
ceeded at last in lodging one battalion on the opposite bank. 
A light bridge on trestles was immediately thrown across 
the fatal ditch, and the supports streaming over, whilst the 
Austrian guns crossed their fire upon the village, Victor at 
last gave way, falling back, with both his divisions in con- 
siderable disorder, upon Spinetta, as well as on the road lead- 
ing to San Giuliano. Simultaneously O'Reilly had carried La 
Stortigliona, and was now marching by way of La Bolla for 

By the retreat of Victor, Lannes, already severely pressed 
by Ott on his opposite flank, found his left uncovered. With 
admirable presence of mind and great dexterity, he withdrew 
Watrin's division from its critical position, defending every 
inch of ground as he retired. Matters, however, were rapidly 
approaching to a crisis, and unless support arrived, the ulti- 
mate rout of both French divisions seemed inevitable. 

At this decisive moment — about 11 a.m. — Buonaparte made 
his first appearance on the field. With him were two bat- 
talions of the Consular Garde, about 900 strong, and a short 
distance in rear, Monnier's division was hurrying up by the 
road from Castel Nuova del la Scrivia. Desaix had announced 
his presence with Boudet's division on the battle-field for four 
o'clock in the afternoon and beyond these named no further 
reinforcements were available for this day's fighting. 

A rapid survey of the battle-field showed the First Consul 
that little further effort could be expected from Victor's divi- 
sions, and that, consequently, the road leading to Tortona 
must be regarded for the moment as lost. Lannes, on the 
other hand, in spite of severe losses, had retained more order ; 


Monnier, too, was approaching on his right rear ; moreover, it 
will be remembered that a second road, starting from Castel 
Ceriolo, was available for the retreat of the French either to- 
wards the Po, or by a more circuitous route to Voghera. It 
seemed important, therefore, to secure this communication 
without delay; so, leaving Victor to shift for himself, Buonaparte 
launched the Consular Garde into the thick of the fray on 
Lannes's right front, with a view to afford that general relief 
from Ott's extremely dangerous attacks until Monnier could 
arrive. The Garde did its duty nobly, sustaining au unequal 
combat during anxious minutes, which were invaluable to the 
French general ; but charged at the same time by infantry in 
front and cavalry in rear, after suffering terribly in square from 
the enemy's guns, it succumbed at last, and fled in disorder for 
shelter to Li Poggi. 

Flushed with victory, Ott's soldiers pressed on to complete 
their triumph over Lannes's exhausted troops, when, fortunately 
for this last officer, Monnier brought his men into action at the 
very moment when utter rout appeared imminent. 

An order from Buonaparte directed Monnier to seize Castel 
Ceriolo ; so detaching Carra St Cyr, who commanded his right 
brigade, for that purpose, he held on with his left towards Li 
Poggi, whither the Consular Garde, as we have already seen, 
and Lannes, thanks to the efforts made on his behalf, had 
retired. Victor, too, had formed up in something like order 
at Spinetta ; so that the French line, shattered indeed, but still 
retaining formation, extended now from this village on the 
left by way of Li Poggi towards Villa Nuova. St Cyr had 
taken and settled in Castel Ceriolo ; and the remainder of the 
French line, pivoting upon Monnier, who formed its right, 
continued to fall back slowly upon San Giuliano. 

The battle was won by the Austrians, but their general, 
wounded and faint in his old age from exhaustion, returned to 
Alessandria, directing Zach and Kaim to complete his victory. 

So great was the disorder amongst the French, that a com- 
pact body of cavalry thrown into the scale at this moment 
must inevitably have secured to the Austrians the fruits of 
their hardly-earned triumph. But no such force remained. 
Nimptsch had departed for Cantaluppo. Pilati and Frimont's 

MARENGO, 1800. G5 

squadrons had been almost destroyed. What horsemen 
remained were galloping about the plain in small detachments, 
harassing the retreating French, but quite insufficient in force 
to strike the decisive blow. Nobili appears still to have been 
held in reserve. Certain it is that the golden opportunity 
was lost; and during the period in which Zach was forming 
the scattered Austrian divisions in order to pursue his march 
towards the Scrivia, Desaix arrived at San Giuliano from 

His appearance inspired the First Consul with fresh hope. 
Desaix was eagerly surrounded by the French generals and 
informed of the occurrences of the day. Although these were 
unanimous in counselling retreat, considering the state of 
Lannes's and Victor's divisions, Desaix, it is stated, inclined to 
opposite views. He held that the action could be renewed, 
not only without additional risk, but with considerable pros- 
pect of success, inasmuch as the French were now firm masters 
of the road to Tortona, and moreover possessed a reserve of 
6000 fresh troops, whilst the Austrian reserves had already 
been engaged. The very slackness of the enemy's pursuit 
showed his exhaustion. 

If we consider the stake for which Buonaparte was playing, 
and to how great an extent his future prospects might have 
been damaged by a retreat, tantamount to the acknowledgment 
of defeat, we shall readily understand how strenuously he in- 
sisted upon the force of Desaix's arguments. With the energy 
which characterised him, he succeeded in imparting his own 
ardour to his subordinates, and, halting his divisions on the 
ground which they occupied, he rode down their front address- 
ing his men in the inspiriting language of which he was so 
great a master. Then he made his dispositions for receiving 
the Austrians as they advanced. 

In advance of San Giuliano, on the right of the road, De- 
saix's soldiers were formed up in two lines, concealed from the 
enemy's view by a slight undulation of the ground. A bat- 
tery of twelve guns — all that remained to the French — under 
Marmont, covered Desaix's front. On his right stood Lannes, 
and to Lannes's right, slightly advanced, the Consular Garde 
and Monnier. St Cyr remained, cut off from the rest of the 



army, in Gastel Ceriolo. The remnant of Victor's divisions 
took post on the left of the road in rear of Desaix, in sup- 
port of whose either flank were ranged, under Kellerman and 
Champeaux, the few cavalry squadrons of which the First 
Consul could still dispose. 

Meanwhile Zach, little anticipating further resistance, had 
formed his divisions in order of march along the highroad. 
His advance-guard, deployed in two lines after passing Cas- 
sina Grossa, consisted of the Brigade St Julien, and of Latter- 
raann's Grenadiers, the left flank being covered by the Liech- 
stenstein Dragoons. Half a mile in rear, in column of march 
on the road, followed in succession the troops commanded by 
Bellegarde, Knesewieh, and Lamarsaille, composing the main 
body, whilst Weidenfeld's Grenadiers formed the rear-guard. 
Pilati flanked the infantry on the left of the road ; and Frimont 
extended on the right, in order to seek communication with 
O'Eeilly, marching for Frugarolo. 

Ott, finally, had abandoned the Sale road for that leading to 
La Ghilina, and was now moving, separated by a space of two 
miles, parallel to the main column. 

In this order the Austrians advanced with bands playing 
upon San Giuliano. As St Julien approached the village, with 
singular want of care, Marmont's batteries opened upon him, 
decimating the ranks of his brigade with grape. Before the 
soldiers had recovered from the effects of this surprise, they 
were charged by Desaix at the head of his infantry. Then 
they turned, damaging in their flight the formation of Latter- 
mann's battalions. But the grenadiers stood firm, and, firing 
a volley in return, Desaix fell. The steadiness of these troops 
had already checked the eagerness of the French infantry, 
when Kellerman, who had filed through Desaix's lines, by 
Buonaparte's order, to support his charge, attacked the squad- 
rons which covered the flank of the Austrian infantry. These 
broke and fled, and Kellerman, seizing the opportunity be- 
fore the grenadiers could change their formation, dashed 
through the ranks, when in a moment all was confusion. Kel- 
lermann's action, vigorously supported by Boudet now at the 
head of Desaix's division, was decisive. Two thousand veteran 
soldiers, with Zach at their head, surrendered; and the French, 

MARENGO, 1800. G7 

electrified by success so unexpected, appreciating, too, with 
characteristic sagacity the value of the surprise, pushed on to 
clench their victory. Again the Austrian cavalry gave way 
before Kellerman's troopers, in their terror riding down their 
own battalions, and rendering all attempts at ordered forma- 
tion hopeless. The rout of Kaim and Haddick was soon com- 
pleted, the troops rushing blindly for the Bormida bridges ; 
fortunately for them Weidenfeld had found time to deploy at 
Spinetta, where, soon joined by O'Reilly, who had hurried back 
from the Frugarolo road, he covered with great firmness the 
wreck of the main column, giving way towards Marengo. But 
more time was necessary to save the panic-stricken fugitives 
of all arms, who choked the bridges on the Bormida ; Weiden- 
feld and O'Reilly therefore redoubled their efforts, with noble 
devotion, to defend the Fontanone line. The position, how- 
ever, did not now offer the same advantages which the French 
had secured in the morning, as the village stood on the eastern 
bank of the stream. Marengo was carried by assault at seven 
in the evening, by Lannes and Boudet, the Austrians retiring 
in tolerable order upon Pedrabuona. Here Weidenfeld, most 
opportunely, was reinforced by Ott. 

When the general advance commenced along the whole 
Austrian line, Ott, as elsewhere described, turned from the 
Sale road, where no enemy had shown himself, into that lead- 
ing to La Ghilina and the Scrivia, ignorant, apparently, that 
in rear of his line of march St Cyr was still in possession of 
Castel Ceriolo. Firing in the direction of San Giuliano had 
already attracted his attention ; but the peculiar cultivation of 
the plain impeded his view, so that he was ignorant alike of 
Desaix's arrival, and of the fresh position assumed by the 
French. Some of the troopers, however, whom Kellerman 
had dispersed, rallied to his column, and informed him of 
Zach's disaster on the Marengo road. He immediately bore 
to his right with a view to assist the main body of the army, 
by taking the French in flank. But the extraordinary rapidity 
with which the French divisions had followed up Kellerman's 
first success, soon convinced him of the utter hopelessness of 
providing a remedy for the general disorder which had en- 
sued. At the same time, the appearance of Bivaud, with a 


heavy detachment of French cavalry from the direction of 
Sale,' alarmed him for his own security. He judged it prudent, 
therefore, in the absence of all directions from his chief, to 
effect his retreat upon Alessandria. His astonishment was great, 
after having reversed the direction of his line of march, to find 
Castel Ceriolo occupied by the enemy. No time was to be 
lost ; so he assaulted the village, clearing himself a passage at 
the point of the bayonet, arriving ultimately at Pedrabuona 
in sufficient time to afford Weidenfeld the support of which 
he now was so much in need. With Ott's assistance, further 
disasters were avoided, and the last Austrian soldier filed into 
the Bormida intrenchments at ten o'clock, long after dusk. 

The losses sustained by both armies in the battle were un- 
usually severe. One-fourth of the combatants in each army 
was placed hors de combat. On the Austrian side, in addi- 
tion to 3000 prisoners, 7000 soldiers were killed or wounded ; 
amongst them 300 officers, including many generals. The 
same loss, exclusive of the prisoners, was experienced by the 
French, and Desaix (after the First Consul the most promising 
officer of the Eepublic) was amongst the dead. 

During the night succeeding the battle, efforts were made 
in the Austrian camp to restore order, but great irresolution 
on the part of the commander and superior officers prevailed. 
Zach, upon whose ability Melas greatly leant, was a prisoner 
to the French, and no other officer was now found willing to 
undertake the great responsibility he shared. The usual resort 
under such circumstances is a council of war, generally a 
poor substitute for energetic action. 

With 20,000 soldiers at his command, superior too in artil- 
lery and cavalry, it was, doubtless, still in Melas's power to 
make a second effort to burst the bonds with which his adver- 
sary had surrounded him. Such, however, could barely tend 
to the true interests of the State he served. Whether the 
attempt were renewed on the south or north bank of the Po, 
success would only carry a sorry remnant of the fine army he 
had so lately commanded to the banks of the Mincio. The 
isolated garrisons in the numerous strong places they occu- 
pied in Piedmont must inevitably be sacrificed in successive 
capitulations. Defeat, moreover, must entail, sooner or 

MARENGO, 1800. 69 

later, the loss to the Austrian Empire of the entire army 
of Italy. 

Further hesitation was suspended by the intelligence that 
Buonaparte, always intent upon gathering the fruits of victory, 
was preparing at daybreak to assault the intrenchments, and 
to carry his army accross the Bormida. Negotiations there- 
fore, commenced ; and Zach, accompanied by Berthier, proceeded 
on the part of the First Consul to Alessandria, to frame the 
clauses which subsequently constituted the celebrated Con- 
vention of Alessandria. On the 15th of June the following 
terms were acceded to by both contending parties, and the 
document containing them accordingly executed : — 

Suspension of hostilities until the terms of convention were 
ratified at Vienna. 

The Austrian s to occupy the line extending from Peschiera, 
on the Mincio, to the mouth of the Po. Their garrisons in 
Tuscany would remain there as well as in Ancona. 

The French would hold the territory west of the Chiese ; 
the ground between the Chiese and Mincio remaining 

On retiring, the Austrians engaged to evacuate all the 
fortresses which they occupied within these bounds. The 
citadels of Tortona, Alessandria, Milan, Arona, and Piacenza, 
were to be delivered up between the 16th and 20th of June ; 
those of Ceva, Savona, and the fortresses of Coni and Genoa, 
between the 16th and 24th of the same month. 

The Austrian army would retire to the Mincio in three 
columns by way of Piacenza, as the fortresses were evacuated. 

The artillery in the fortresses belonging to the Sardinian 
foundries was assigned to the French, the Austrian guns 
restored to the Imperial army. The stores to be divided 
equally between both armies. 

Severe and humiliating as these terms were to an army 
which for two preceding years had been constantly victorious, 
they were still the best of which circumstances would admit. 
Sixty thousand soldiers would thus be preserved to the 
Empire, and, ranged on the Mincio, might possibly soon be in 
a position to renew the war. Buonaparte was fully alive to 
this fact; but his political position, not as yet fully secured in 


France, required the instant prestige of victory which he was 
reluctant further to endanger. 


The strategical manoeuvre which commands our attention 
in the study of this campaign, is that of throwing an army 
across an enemy's communications. The circumstances in 
war where such an operation is feasible, are necessarily few. 
It would seem that, to enlist the chances of successful execu- 
tion, a commander must start with considerable advantages 
in his favour. These may consist in numerical superiority, 
interior position, fighting and manoeuvring power, or in the 
sympathising spirit of the inhabitants of the country about to 
form the theatre of action. Decisive in case of success, the 
risk in execution is proportionately hazardous, for the obvious 
reason, that an army manoeuvring with such purpose lays 
itself open to the possibility of coimterstroke on the part of 
an enterprising adversary. Much, therefore, would also appear 
to depend upon the character of the enemy with which one 
has to deal. 

In the present instance, the justification of the combination 
lies in the due appreciation of surrounding circumstances. 
The secrecy with which the First Consul was able to cloak 
his preparations, the impenetrable veil to his movements pre- 
sented by the Alpine frontiers, the difficulties of passage, the 
occupation of the Austrian army in Liguria, and the restricted 
powers of its commander, were all considerations containing 
in the aggregate the elements for successful issue. 

Nevertheless, the extreme nicety of the operation is trans- 
parent throughout every phase of the campaign, dependent as 
it principally was upon a just calculation of numbers, time, 
and distance. 

Without the co-operation of Moreau's detachment, Buona- 
parte justly deemed the Army of Eeserve insufficient for the 
purpose. Therefore it was that he despatched Carnot to that 
general's headquarters, to urge him to instant action, and to 
superintend the departure of the reinforcement, without which 
he felt himself powerless. This once effected, he set his col- 

MARENGO, 1800. 71 

umns in motion ; and the actual passage of the mountains 
constituted, perhaps, the least of the difficulties he would have 
to encounter. The preoccupation of his adversary at Genoa 
and on the Var diminished the danger of debouching from 
the mountain defiles, and the concentration at Ivrea was, 
consequently, seemed almost without opposition. Now, how- 
ever, his adversary was on the alert, and the flank march from 
this last town to the Lombard capital was fraught with peril. 
This, again, was lessened by the fact of Moncey's approach by 
the St Gothard, which would not only establish his full fight- 
ing force, but would enable him to reopen communications 
with Switzerland by that line were those by St Bernard lost 
in the interim. 

Such communications, however, as these mountain passes 
presented, would barely suffice for an army dependent upon 
its base for supplies, though they might well serve for the 
safe retreat of an army, defeated in the plains, without its 
material. It was upon the sympathy of the inhabitants, the 
resources of the country, and the magazines belonging to the 
Anstrians, that the First Consul was enabled to rely for the 
subsistence of his troops. 

Had the acquirement of territory alone constituted the 
purpose of Buonaparte, that object was gained by his con- 
centration at Milan. The Austrian commander was in no 
position to encounter him here with anything approaching to 
equality of force, let alone the embarrassments which must 
inevitably result from hurried concentration and damaged 
communications. Had he been permitted, Melas must conse- 
quently at once have fallen back upon the Mincio. Vast as 
such a result— the possession of Piedmont and Lombardy 
without firing a shot — would seem, it by no means sufficed 
for the necessities of the First Consul's position. From the 
Mincio, again in solid communication with the interior of the 
empire, the Austrians would inevitably renew the war, and 
the fruits of a brilliant strategical combination must still be 
contested on a final battle-field. Better, then, if such must 
be the case, to force his adversary to action where a false 
position was certain to entail moral detriment, than to allow 
him to recover from the effects of surprise and uncertainty. 


Furthermore, the opportunity of rapidly terminating the war 
in one decisive engagement was too tempting to be missed, 
and the First Consul's confidence in his own powers was 

Here, then, arose the necessity of intercepting the Austrian 
army on its retreat. Considering that Moncey had only 
effected his junction with Buonaparte on the 6th of June, 
some days later than expected, no time was to be lost. 
Communications from Alessandria, where Melas was con- 
centrated, to the Mincio, existed on either bank of the Po. 
The shortest line carried along the southern bank of the river, 
through the defile of Stradella, and was restricted to one 
road. The other, north of the river, commanded several roads 
on a much larger expanse of territory. Either line was 
available for the Austrian march ; both, therefore, must be 
guarded in sufficient force to fight with advantage at the 
point of future collision. Here lies the real difficulty of the 
problem, and the more extensive the sphere of action, the 
greater that difficulty becomes. It would seem, therefore, 
that where communications are similarly intercepted, the 
offensive army should close at once towards the enemy it 
wishes to grasp, in order to diminish the chances of dis- 
advantageous action. If this be so, the delay of the First 
Consul for three days in the position selected at Stradella 
was an error which nearly cost him dear. It seems the more 
reprehensible, since Buonaparte was aware of the fall of 
Genoa on the 8th of June, so that he must have known, after 
Ott's defeat at Montebello, that a fresh line of retreat was 
open to the Austrians which they might thus have pursued 
unmolested. Otherwise, bearing the object of his dispositions 
in mind, they appeared to have been effected up to this point 
with masterly care. 

Turning to the intercepted army, the first step under such 
circumstances is necessarily concentration. The promptness 
with which Melas issued his orders to this end is laudable, if 
we consider the sacrifice it entailed. Nevertheless, the measure 
was not sufficiently thorough for the pressing demands of the 
moment. The tendency to guard tenaciously numerous posts 
of passing value, was strong amongst the Austrian com- 

MARENGO, 1800. 73 

manders of that day. The fact that the fate of such posts 
must in any case depend upon the issue of a decisive general 
action, was frequently ignored. Ten thousand soldiers, frittered 
away in citadels and isolated forts in the present instance, 
would certainly by their presence at Marengo have changed 
the results of the day. The inopportune surrender of Genoa 
by Massena, and Ott's consequently motified disobedience of 
orders, was simply a misfortune. Had that general marched 
on the 2d of June instead of on the 5th, he would have 
reached the head of the defile of Stradella on the 6th at 
latest, and, recollecting that Lannes crossed first at Belgiojoso, 
on that day, would in all human probability have succeeded 
in securing the object which both armies were struggling 
to gain. The surrender of Genoa, by a singular anomaly, 
was thus actually more conducive to the success of Buona- 
parte's dispositions, than if its defence had been further pro- 
tracted. When Ott at last reached the plain of the Scrivia, 
his effective force was reduced by sixteen battalions, left 
behind in Liguria, consequently he was defeated at Montebello. 
Accepting the orders of his chief, and his ignorance of the 
French numbers on his front, as a sufficient justification for 
Ott's determination of fighting here, it is difficult to under- 
stand the subsequent resolve of the Austrian commander-in- 
chief to force his way on that bank of the Po, where he now 
had certain proof that the French were massed in force. The 
idea of retreating upon Genoa, without fighting, having been 
abandoned, the possibility of slipping from his adversary by 
the northern bank of the Po still remained. Holding the 
passages of the main river at Casale and Valenza, such an 
operation was perfectly feasible, and presented the further 
prospect of preparing some embarrassment for his adversary, 
since the Austrian march must cut the French communi- 

Probably the Austrian commander sought on the field of 
Marengo the advantageous employment of those arms in 
which he recognised his decided superiority to his adversary. 
Certain it is that he entered upon his chosen field with every 
prospect of success, thanks to Buonaparte's latest dispositions. 
The culpable oversight of the tactical importance of the line 


of the Fontanone contributed indirectly to his advantage, by 
misleading his adversary as to his intentions. The neglect of 
the previous evening, moreover, might have been repaired on 
the early morning of the 14th of June, had O'Reilly's first 
success been vigorously supported by crossing the Fontanone 
simultaneously with Gardanne's defeated battalions. Instead 
of this, Haddick's line was slowly and pedantically deployed 
in strict accordance with the plan drawn up on paper, and 
the golden opportunity was thus missed. The successive 
efforts subsequently made to force this obstacle entailed such 
serious loss that the troops were exhausted when the village 
of Marengo was at last carried. The inability of the Aus- 
trians to complete their early victory must doubtless be attri- 
buted to this circumstance. The detachment of a large body 
of cavalry from the actual field of battle to face Suchet, whose 
intervention on that day was simply impossible, was a grave 
error of judgment, which entailed the most serious conse- 
quences. When the moment of victory arrived, as it really 
did, Melas was powerless to reap its fruits, from the absence 
of a sufficiency of that very arm upon which he had relied. 
Probably it was owing to the extreme fatigue of his troops, 
who had undergone much exertion in the preceding days, that 
Melas was unable to follow up his success. His own weari- 
ness doubtless deprived him of that energy which is required 
at a general's hands in moments of emergency. He therefore 
not only halted his army with a view to restore order, and 
give it a little breathing-time, but himself returned to Ales- 
sandria, leaving Zach to complete what further dispositions 
were deemed necessary. All military writers are unanimous 
in condemning this fatal inaction. Irrespective of pedantic 
formations, the battalions should have been urged forward in 
the direction of the retreating foe, without allowing him the 
opportunity of recovering from the shock which had all but 
shattered his system. " Victory," says Clausewitz, " is useless 
indeed, unless her fruits are at once carefully gathered into 
the storeroom." So contented, however, was the Austrian gen- 
eral with the results of the morning, that the army was quietly 
formed in columns of march on the Tortona road, as though no 
further possible danger could cross its path. The time lost in 

MARENGO, 1800. 75 

effecting this pedantic order, with battalions scattered over 
the plain, may be readily imagined, and sufficiently accounts 
for the recovery of their firmness by the self-same infantry 
that one more timely blow would have routed. Having com- 
menced his march, Zach would appear to have taken every 
precaution for the safety of his flanks, none for the security of 
his front. A few squadrons pushed well in advance of his 
column of march, would soon have touched Desaix's formation 
at San Giuliano, and so have saved the advance-guard from 
the subsequent surprise which terminated in a general panic. 
Never, perhaps, was an army abandoned by its commander at 
a moment so singularly inopportune. Not all the vigour of 
his earlier operations, his constancy under misfortune, or his 
courage on the battle-field — he was wounded, and had two 
horses killed under him — have consequently preserved for 
Melas, amongst posterity, one shred of that reputation which 
every soldier holds so dear. The military virtues which lie 
undoubtedly possessed are swamped in his last great failure ; 
for the exigencies of the public service at the hands of its 
commanders, in all countries, must ever remain relentlessly 
severe. History has, however, decided that much of the dis- 
aster encountered by Melas may safely be laid at the door of 
that Aulic Council which sinned so heavily in Austria's earlier 

Jomini says, witli reference to Buonaparte's conduct of this 
battle, that he has little to be proud of. Unexpectedly assailed 
by his adversary, he was saved in this instance, as on a later 
occasion at Eylau, by the timely arrival of a force detached 
several leagues from the field of battle. 

The justice of this criticism has not been disturbed by sub- 
sequent writers. Had the First Consul met his equal in youth 
and ability on the plain of the Scrivia, he would probably 
have suffered crushing defeat at his hands. It is the difficulty 
of first finding, and then closing upon, an intercepted foe, 
which constitutes the risk of the manoeuvre which has been 
explained. The same difficulty presented itself, in a less 
degree, five years later at Ulm. From a precisely similar 
manoeuvre, too, Fiadetzky found himself prematurely engaged 
at Novara in 1849. Tt must therefore be considered rash in 


the First Consul to have posted Lannes aud Victor as he did, 
on the evening of the 13th of June, unsupported, on ground 
where he might suddenly be called upon to meet a superior 
adversary on terms of great disadvantage. Probably his recol- 
lections of Austrian generals and Austrian armies in 1796 led 
him to under-estimate the qualities of his foe. From first to 
last, in the strategy and tactics he employed, a contemptuous 
sense of his own and his army's superiority is apparent. His 
eagerness for action in this instance was consequently carried 
too far, barely escaping punishment. 

Some writers have considered that the echeloned forma- 
tion of his divisions, in which Buonaparte found himself called 
upon to accept battle on the ground he held, was the best for 
the purpose. Jomini disposes of such views in a few words. 
Echelon, he says in substance, is the best formation for 
attack, where troops must constantly be fed from the rear, or 
in retreat where never-failing support will thus be found ; but 
for holding ground occupied with a view to maintain its 
possession, no worse formation can be conceived, as each divi- 
sion is liable to be separately defeated as it arrives. " Never," 
he justly adds, "was the proof of this better demonstrated 
than at Marengo." It was principally to the ability of his 
subordinates, and to the tenacity of his soldiers, that the 
First Consul owed this important victory. Had the Emperor, 
writes Thiers, been served by his subordinates at Waterloo 
with the same zeal displayed at Marengo, he would have pre- 
served the Empire, and France her preponderant position 
amongst the nations of Europe. With less justice the same 
writer attributes to Buonaparte's skill the calculated oblique 
formation of his line of battle on Desaix's arrival. When 
a renewal of the battle was then, amidst very conflicting 
opinions, at last determined upon, the divisions were ordered 
to halt in the positions they occupied. It was the circum- 
stances of action which had determined these positions. 
Victor, in utter disorder, was farthest in rear ; Lannes, twice 
rescued from disaster by happy reinforcements, had retreated 
more deliberately ; and Monnier, the last to reach the field in 
the morning, was still more or less engaged with Ott. That 
St Cyr was in Castel Ceriolo could scarcely have been known 

MAEENGO, 1800. 77 

to the First Consul, for Ott's battalions interposed between 
that general and Monnier. 

That, after Desaix's arrival, and the renewal of the action, 
positive advantage was derived from the formation is undoubt- 
ed, but the idea of preconceived purpose has been properly 
scouted by Jomini, who terms it a romance " cvprte coup." " No 
amount of tactical resource could have saved Buonaparte," he 
adds, " in his present emergency. Fresh troops, and not man- 
oeuvres, could alone re-establish the balance of affairs." 

Where the merit of the French commander first really 
shines, is in the readiness with which he appreciated the 
altered situation when Desaix reached the field. The natural 
energy and determination of his character at once exercised its 
extraordinary influence upon all around him. The kind of 
ambush which he designed for his careless foe was admirably 
suited to the moment, and the promptitude with which he 
availed himself of the first turn in his favour has never been 
excelled in war. " A few squadrons of cavalry, with half-a- 
dozen battalions of infantry," says Jomini again, "decided 
the fate of the Peninsula and changed the face of Europe." 
Never, perhaps, was cavalry charge more brilliantly executed ; 
and the sagacity with which Kellerman changed his original 
object, by turning upon infantry unprepared to receive him, 
stamps him as a cavalry leader of no mean order. Still more 
credit is due to him, if we consider the severe service which 
he had already rendered in the morning, and the recognised 
numerical inferiority of the arm to which he belonged, as com- 
pared with that of the enemy. 

It has been urged, more especially by M. Thiers, that, had 
the Austrians conquered at Marengo, they must nevertheless 
have succumbed still more ingloriously, a day or two later, in 
the defile of Stradella; that the fresh troops — Desaix and 
Lapoype — hurrying up from Eivalta and Pavia, would have 
enabled the First Consul to have re-formed on their rear; 
whilst Duhesme, with 10,000 soldiers, and in possession of 
Piacenza, would have barred their egress from the defile. 
Probably this would in great part depend upon the character 
of the defeat which the French might have experienced. 

Had he routed his foe, there was no necessity for Melas to 


enter the defile of Stradella, or to continue his retreat. His 
object mnst have been to crush in detail the isolated fractions 
of the Army of Beserve, which the First Consul would then 
have been unable to concentrate. Contented, however, as he 
appeared to be, with the partial success which secured, as he 
thought, the Tortona road for the further march of his army, 
it seems not improbable that Buonaparte might have found 
the opportunity of retrieving his first disaster. A similar blow 
to that which struck Wurmser in the valley of the Brenta, 
in 1796, might certainly have realised the conjectures of M. 

The value of this victory to the First Consul was incalcu- 
lable. Independent of the territory and influence restored to 
France in the Italian peninsula, it established permanently 
Buonaparte's influence with his countrymen. Eegarded hither- 
to as a successful general and a man of enterprising talent, he 
henceforth took his place in men's minds amongst the most 
prominent characters in history. With one blow the Eepublic 
had freed herself from the dangers of the Coalition, and was 
able to assume a position recognised and respected by her 
neighbours. Simultaneously the intrigues for political power 
and factious agitation in the French capital ceased of them- 
selves. All willingly recognised the ascendancy of the man 
who had conceived and executed a design of such startling 
magnitude. Thus it came to pass that Frenchmen soon be- 
came reconciled to the idea of the Empire ; and four short 
years sufficed to place the imperial mantle on the shoulders 
of Melas's victorious antagonist. 



First Period : Ulm. 

Introduction. — Napoleon, after Marengo, returned to Paris, leaving 
Massena in command ; but he was soon superseded, at his own request, 
by Brune. During the operations detailed in the previous pages, the 
Army of the Rhine had not been idle. On the 25th April Moreau 
crossed the river, and after gaining the indecisive actions of Engen, 
Moskirch, and Biberach, obliged his adversary to intrench himself at 
Ulm. In June, sorties at Kirchberg and Guttenzell were checked, and 
Kray finally abandoned Ulm ; and, after a series of skirmishes in his 
retreat, an armistice was signed on the 15th July on the receipt of the 
news of the conclusion of the Convention of Alessandria. Fruitless nego- 
tiations for peace ensued ; but a military convention was agreed on in 
September at Hoh.enlin.den and Castiglione between the several antago- 
nists, whereby the armistice was prolonged for forty-five days, and Kray 
and De Melas were disgraced and withdrawn from their commands, their 
places being taken by the Archduke John and General Bellegarde. 

In September the armistice terminated, and in December Hohenlinden 
witnessed another French victory, the lines of the Inn and Saltzach being 
successively surrendered. The Archduke Charles next assumed com- 
mand of the disorganised columns ; and finally, on the 25th December, by 
the armistice of Steyer, it was agreed that no reinforcements should be 
sent by the Austrians to Italy until their armies there should also have 
concluded an agreement with the forces opposed to them. Hostilities 
had also broken out in Italy. Macdonald crossing the Spliigen from 
the Orisons united with Brune in November, and the battles of Pozzolo 
and Monzambano were followed by the retreat of the Austrians to 

1801.— The French pursued their advantage by crossing the Adige in 
January, and, pushing on with unvarying success, finally brought about 
an armistice, which was followed by the peace of Luneville on the 9th 
February. War still continued between Great Britain and France in 
Egypt and on the seas, and the "armed neutrality of the North," 


arranged by the Czar between Russia, Prussia, Denmark, and Sweden, in 
a spirit hostile to Great Britain, resulted in the bombardment of Copen- 
hagen by Nelson and the British fleet. But the nations were tired of war, 
and the peace of Amiens in 1802 was hailed with satisfaction by all the 
Powers. It was, however, of but short duration. The rupture with Eng- 
land began in 1803 ; and Napoleon, now declared First Consul for life, 
invaded and conquered Hanover, while St Cyr occupied Southern Italy. 
No further steps were taken till 1804, when General Buonaparte, declared 
Emperor, was crowned by the Pope, and signified his intention of invad- 
ing England. 

For this purpose a vast flotilla was organised in the Channel ports. A 
powerful army was formed at Boulogne, and extreme care taken in its 
organisation, discipline, and equipment. But the war of the third 
Coalition was ready to burst forth. The invasion of England was, thanks 
to the activity of the British fleet, rendered impossible ; and when, in 
April 1805, a treaty, having for its object the overthrow of the new 
Empire, was signed between England, Russia, and Austria, Napoleon 
formed the determination of suddenly and secretly transferring the army 
at Boulogne to the Rhine, and thence to Germany. 

The French army at Boulogne had been actively and in- 
telligently organised for a period of many months. The 
formation of the corps and staff had been carefully studied, 
and they were complete in all details, having, further, the 
advantage of being formed with deliberation and exercised in 
unison at the great Camp of Exercise, under the supreme com- 
mand and direction of one general, and that the greatest of 
his day. 

The Austrian army, on the other hand, suffered from divided 
interests. The real head was the Aulic Council, which drew 
up the plans of operation and influenced the movements even 
of the armies in the field. The nominal heads, the com- 
manders of the forces, had their hands tied and schemes 
fettered by want of independent authority and freedom of 
action. As if to add to these disadvantages, the reorganisa- 
tion of the army had only taken place a month before the 
outbreak of hostilities. 

The French army, which, before its final concentration, was 
on the Channel coast, in Holland, and in Hanover, had been 
divided into six corps, under Bernadotte, Marmont, Davoust, 
Soult, Lannes, and Ney, with the Imperial Guard under 
Bessieres, and reserve cavalry under Murat, and the usual 
proportion of artillery, staff, &c. It numbered 180,000 men, 


with 340 guns, to which may be added a German contingent 
of 30,000 soldiers. Massena commanded an army in Italy 
of some 50,000 more. Of the former, the 1st and 2d corps 
and Bavarians — in all, 00,000 men — were to advance from the 
Maine, while the remainder crossed the Rhine. 

The Austrian field -armies were three in number: 84,000 
men, under the Archduke Ferdinand and General Mack, 
operated in the valley of the Danube ; 100,000, under the 
Archduke Charles, formed the Army of Italy on the Adige ; 
40,000, under the Archduke John, were assembled in the 
Tyrol ; and a reserve, under the Emperor himself, remained at 
Vienna. The initiative was taken by the Austrians, who, by 
the premature invasion of Bavaria, offered at once a casus belli. 
English diplomacy and the promise of exclusive subsidies had 
forced Austria, the advanced post of the Coalition, to make the 
first move. It was eminently desirable to master the territory 
and resources of the Elector of Bavaria, though it was equally 
necessary for the success of the general plan of operations to 
effect a junction with the Russians, who were some sixty-four 
marches in rear. Their first intention had been to remain on 
the Leek ; but they were ultimately to be pushed forward to 
the Iller, where, watching the Black Forest defiles and covered 
on their right by Ulm and the -Danube, they might await 
the arrival of their Russian allies. It had been assumed 
that the French Emperor would require at least sixty-eight 
days to reach the Leek from Boulogne, but they had miscal- 
culated the skill and prescience of their formidable adversary. 

The successful issue of all offensive operations depends on 
the following considerations : — 

1. Secrecy. — The means to this end were carefully considered 
by Napoleon. All communication had been suspended along 
the Rhine ; even the post-offices had been seized. Demonstra- 
tions on the Channel coast were still maintained, and diplomatic 
representations were officially made in Paris to direct public 
attention away from the real theatre of war ; and lastly, Berna- 
dotte's movement on Mayence was reported to be merely for the 
purpose of relieving the garrison and troops in that district, 

2, Upon celerity of execution. — The army was to concen- 
trate on the Rhine frontier at Strasbourg, Mannheim. 'Wurz- 



burg (by Gottingen), and at Mayence (by Nyrnwegen.) The 
march from Boulogne commenced on the 25th August, and 
the distance to be traversed, about 350 miles, gave about 
twenty-four days' march at the rate of 15 miles a-day. Great 
regularity attended this movement, and stragglers were few. 
An excellent staff, working as one man under the supreme 
command of a leader whose mastery of technical details was 
as great as his grasp of the higher branches of the warlike art, 
rendered the regular even advance of the several corps possible 
and complete ; and on the 24th September the " Army of Ger- 
many " was present near the Ehine. 

3. Upon due exercise of diplomacy. — For Duroc had been 
sent to Berlin to insure the neutrality, if not the active co-oper- 
ation, of Prussia. The line of march of the French left might 
lead them to violate the territory of this Power, and the pre- 
vention of armed opposition, to say the least, was of grave 
importance. Even Hanover, the Emperor's latest annexation, 
was offered as a bait to secure the end in view ; and though 
Prussia professed to persist in her complete neutrality, the 
result of the negotiations tended somewhat to compromise her 
position with regard to France. 

4. Mastery of the theatre of war. — And in this few excelled 
Napoleon in his rapid appreciation of its features, and in the 
consequent formation of his plans of operation. Murat, as 
leader of the advanced-guard, was sent into Bavaria, with 
directions to examine and reconnoitre the country and get 

5. TJie possession of good reserves ; and of these at least 
30,000 old soldiers were at the general's disposal. 

The country in which the operations took place deserves care- 
ful consideration, and the following points should be studied : — 

1. The valleys of the Pdiine and Danube, with the tribu- 
taries of the latter which cross the line of advance — viz., the 
Iller, Leek, Isar, and Inn on the south ; AVernitz and Altmiihl 
on the northern bank. 

2. The defiles of the Black Forest by which access to the 
valley of the Danube is obtained. 

3. The nature of the roads which, on the north bank of 
the river and west of Donauwerth, lead rather in a direc- 



tion from north to south than towards Vienna, while on 
the south bank the roads leading to the capital are more 

4. The importance of Ulm, Donauwerth, Neuburg, and 
Ingolstadt as points of passage of the stream. 

The Austrian commander-in-chief, anxious to anticipate the 
enemy's movement, crossed the Bavarian frontier on the 8th 
September. The ultimatum sent to the Elector Maximilian 
of Bavaria had been refused ; and his army, smarting under the 
irritation consequent on this unceremonious violation of his 
territory, withdrew to join the corps commanded by Berna- 
dotte. The precipitate action of the Aulic Council had but 
strengthened its adversary's hand by about 30,000 men. 
General Mack moved on Neuburg to cut off this retreating 
force, crossed the Iller on the 16th to 18th September with 
the light troops and advanced-guard, and pushing across the 
remainder five or six days later, reached Ulm on the 18th. 

He wished to play a defensive role until the Russians had 
arrived ; and meanwhile detachments were pushed forward 
north of the Danube and towards the Rhine for the purpose 
of observation. The Aulic Council, with the Emperor, re- 
mained at Landsberg. But the means now at the disposal 
of Austria for the execution of her plan were insufficient. 
War had commenced six months too early for her, inas- 
much as the forces of the Coalition were still far apart, and 
the fractions, unconcentrated, were but weakly offering their 
divided units to be broken by the concentrated power of the 

Thus, on the 24th September the positions of the armies 
were — 


5th corps 
Guard . 
6th corps 
4th corps 
3d corps 
2d corps 
1st corps 

Murat \ 

Lannes \ 


Bezieres ) 

Ney . 






Marmont . 








Advanced-guard Schwarzenberg . Biberach. 
(With cavalry in Black Forest denies.) 

Kollowrat . . Ulm to Deitmannsreid. 

Right wing 
Left . 


Kempten and Kautheuren. 
Lindau, Mursberg. 
Eichstadt, Ingolstadt, Neu- 

The Austrian reinforcements were not expected till the 
second week in October, the Russians not till the third week ; 
but still the army, lacking both the careful organisation and 
discipline of that which had been trained for long months at 
Boulogne, and with divided councils and a leader who was far 
less known and trusted than Napoleon, had pushed itself for- 
ward towards an enemy stronger, more able, and more mobile 
than itself. 

The passage of the Rhine by the French armies was fixed 
for the 24th September. Issues of ammunition, clothing and 
shoes, bread, and other supplies, were furnished to the various 
corps. There were to be no magazines and no camp, for the 
troops were to be cantoned or bivouacked, and districts were 
definitely assigned to each corps leader for foraging. Four 
days' supply was to be carried in waggons, and four days by the 
men themselves ; for rapidity was essential to success, and the 
campaign was to be one in which outmarching was one of the 
great adjuncts to victory. Murat commanded the reconnais- 
sance department of the staff, and all marshals were directed 
to him for what they wished to know. The French objective 
was of a twofold nature : to destroy Mack the first — to keep 
the Russians at bay till this was effected, the second. The 
Rhine army was to deal with the one, the Maine army with 
the other ; and demonstrations in the Black Forest were still 
further to confuse the enemy as to where the blow would fall. 
The direction of Bernadotte's march, therefore, was to be con- 
cealed ; the demonstrations towards the Black Forest and the 
cavalry force, formed the screen behind which Napoleon de- 
signed to make a flank march with his columns through 
Swabia on Donauwerth, where, crossing the Danube, he would 

CAMPAIGNS OF 1805 : ULM. 85 

interpose his army between Mack and the Russians, and find 
time to deal with each singly. 

On the 25th, Murat, crossing the Rhine, occupied the sur- 
rounding villages, drove in the Austrian cavalry, and pushed 
up the defiles of the Black Forest. Lannes, by Kehl, fol- 
lowed to Rendsheim. 

On the 26th, Key, at Knielingen, to Diirlach ; Soult, at 
Spire, to Heilbronn ; Davoust, at Mannheim, towards Neckar- 
elz. On the 27th, Ney crossed at Lauterburg; 28th, marched 
on Stuttgart, reaching that place on the 30th, where he was 
to take up a position on the Neckar, three marches from Ulm : 
on the same day a general advance was made up the defiles 
of the Black Forest. 29th, Lannes, who had neared Rastadt, 
followed Ney along the Enz to Ludwigsburg. On the 1st 
October, Murat followed Lannes to the Ems with the bulk of 
his force, leaving Bourcier to cover and mask his march. 

On this date, therefore, the movement of the right wing was 
completed, and detachments were pushed down all the roads 
leading to the Danube. Soult had been kept back in order 
not to betray the strategical plan, but, crossing on the 25th, 
he had now reached Heilbronn. Davoust was at Ingelfingen, 
his march having been retarded to allow the left to come 
round. Bernadotte and Marmont crossed the Maine, while 
the artillery reserve moved in safety three marches in rear 
of the centre of the army. 

Ney's movement had been the most important up to this 
time. He had been pushed forward as a screen to the other 
corps, and to induce Mack to believe he was the extreme 
left of the French army ; for, to carry out the plan of con- 
centrating the Maine and Rhine armies against Mack's right, 
it was essential that the nature of the operation should not 
be divined. How to effect it unperceived was the difficult 
part of the problem ; for if it were understood, it was evident 
that Mack would retreat and avoid the blow, in order to con- 
centrate with the Russians on the Inn. As we have seen, all 
the measures that prudence could suggest to insure secrecy 
had been carefully attended to. Next in crossing the Rhine 
Lannes and Murat had been turned towards the south, had 
entered the Black Forest defiles, and had pushed in the out- 


posts of the enemy all along the line in advancing on Fre- 
dericstadt, Eothweil, and Neustadt, in order by this demon- 
stration to lead the Austrians to expect an attack in front. 
So far it had quite succeeded. Mack hoped and expected it, 
and the outpost reports from Neustadt to Pforzheim con- 
firmed him in his view. Up to this time, the French sup- 
plies had, to avoid danger, been carried down the left bank of 
the Ehine. 

The routes taken by the armies were as follows : — 

Rhine Arnvy. 
Soult, .... Oettmgen, Halle, Ellwangen, Nordlingen. 
Murat, Lannes, and Guard, Geraiind, Aalen, Xordlingen. 
Davoust, .... Crailsheim, Dinkelsbuhl, Oettingen. 
Ney, .... Carlsruhe, Stuttgart, Heidenheirn. 

Maine Army. 
Marmont, .... Gelichsheim, Rotenburg, Monheim. 
Bemadotte, . . . Uffenheim, Anspach, Eichstadt. 
Bavarians, . . . Niirnberg, Ingolstadt. 

Donauwerth had been the point aimed at, as its possession 
was strategically decisive. 

Ee vie wing the events of the campaign up to this point, the 
following particulars must be noticed. There are three kinds 
of offensive operations which can be undertaken against a hos- 
tile force — viz., against one flank, both flanks, or the centre 
of the enemy's strategic front : all others can be deduced from 
one of these ; and of all of them, that of striking at one flank 
is preferable, for reasons not now to be argued. 

The Austrian front extended from Ulm to Legnago. There 
was every motive for attacking their right flank in the valley of 
the Danube, and remaining on the defensive in Italy, for 
Switzerland was neutral, and the Iller front strong, besides 
offering in case of success no decisive result. Considering 
the great superiority of force on the French side, defeat alone 
was not sufficient — destruction was to be aimed at ; and in 
order to effect this, it was essential not to disturb Mack in his 
sense of security whilst the necessary movements were being 
carried out. The army of the Maine, therefore, was retained 
in position until the last moment, whilst Ney screened the 

CAMPAIGNS OF 1805 : ULM. 87 

march of the other columns, already much favoured by the 
nature of the country. 

There were four courses of action still open to the Aus- 
trian general : — 

1. To direct a retreat towards his own frontier by Munich 
and Augsburg. 

2. To march by his left into the Tyrol. 

3. To move down the right bank of the Danube, cross the 
river and fight a battle at Nordlingen, securing passages for 

4 To cross at Ulm, fall upon the Emperor's communica- 
tions with the mass of his army, and either endeavour to 
defeat the enemy's corps singly, or, by some means, effect his 
retreat into Bohemia. 

To meet all these eventualities was for Napoleon difficult 
and even dangerous. The best thing that could happen was 
for Mack to remain as long as possible where he was. In 
order not to disturb him, the right wing was to be used as a 
pivot until the left reached Ingolstadt. Here it would be 
available either to intercept the retreat or assist in a battle at 
Nordlingen. It was necessary to effect the passage with the 
left wing sufficiently in rear of the Austrians in order to be 
sure of intercepting them. In the case of Mack's assuming 
the offensive, he would first strike Ney's corps, which in the 
mountainous country would hold its own while the others 
rallied. If he purposed to escape on this side, he would not 
be able to commence his movement till the Emperor was on 
the south bank of the Danube. Hence the necessity for 
leaving a portion of his troops on the north bank.* The 
French continued their advance, and, on the evening of the 
5th October, had reached the following points, with a view 
of concentrating at Nordlingen on the 6th, to be prepared for 
a possible battle the following day. 

Headquarters and Guard, . . Gemiind. 

Lannes, ..... Aalen. 

Key, ..... Heidenheim. 

Murat, towards the Danube. 

* Compare Hamley's Operations of "War. Chap. VII. 


Soult, Ellwangen. 

Davoust, Oettingen. 

Marmo,lt ' I . . . . Gungeiihausen. 
Bernadottu, J 

Bavarian, Weisseuberg. 

Bourcier, also rejoined the Maine army. 

The line of communication lay through Nordlingen, Ell- 
wangen, Halle, Oettingen, Heilbronn, and Spire ; but a single 
line has disadvantages in an extended operation like that 
under consideration, as stores and supplies may arrive at the 
left wing which are really recpuired by the right. The army 
hitherto had subsisted on requisitions made on the way, but 
henceforth different means of supply were advisable. The 
marshals were directed to complete the full allowance of 
bread and biscuit which the troops could carry, and, further, 
to transport other provisions in country carts with them. 

Meanwhile Mack, feeling the pressure of Ney's advance, 
had considered an attack on his right impending, still never 
anticipating the true nature of the danger to which he was 
exposed. On 3d October, therefore, he concentrated near 
Ulm, occupying about 18 miles of front, along the line Ulm- 
Iller - Archeim. No real intelligence had been furnished 
him, for he had taken no measures to insure his obtaining it. 
Keinmayer's force had been forgotten, and no communication 
had been effected with the Eussians. The skirmish on the 
previous day at Goppingen might have indicated clearly 
enough that the French were moving eastward, and this was 
recognised by the Archduke Ferdinand, but the Austrian 
commander-in-chief failed to see its import. Even then two 
courses were open to him — either to move offensively to the 
left bank of the Danube, or to abandon the Iller line for that 
of Donauwerth and Ingolstadt; but Mack, like Gyulaiin 1859, 
treated the appearance of the hostile forces as mere demon- 
strations. On the 5th, the views of the Archduke at 
length prevailed, and a change of front was ordered to the 
Gtinzburg and Danube line, Eeidhausen being occupied to 
secure the Leipheim and Gtinzburg passages. On the 6th, 
Keinmayer, retreating as Bernadotte advanced, crossed the 

CAMPAIGNS OF 1805 : ULM. 89 

Danube at Neuburg ; and leaviDg a few battalions to guard 
the passage at Donauwerth, Ingolstadt, and Rain (on the Leek), 
retired upon Aichach, which he reached on the 7th. 

Thus, while the Austrians were contemplating and slowly 
carrying out a change of front, Napoleon was ready to cross 
the Danube, and effect the prolongation of the original turning 
movement against the enemy's right, so as to effect a complete 
interception of his forces at all points on the 7th October. 
Before daybreak, Murat at Donauwerth seized the bridge and 
commenced a bridge-head. Soult's first division under Van- 
damme reached him first — and this, on being relieved by 
Legrand, followed Murat to Eain; Lannes moved on Munster ; 
Ney sent detachments to Albeck ; Davoust on Neuburg, 
seizing the bridge there ; and Marmont followed him. The 
Bavarians and Bernadotte were at Eichstadt. 

The object of Murat's and Vandamme's movement on the 
Leek was to separate the Austrian right from the centre, cut- 
ting off Mack from Keinmayer ; the passages, therefore, on the 
river were secured, and communication opened with Marmont 
at Neuburg. The news of the occupation of Donauwerth 
reached Mack on the afternoon of the 7th, when the Arch- 
duke was absent ; and he then, mistaking the importance of 
the movement, issued orders for crushing what he conceived 
to be but a weak detachment. No accurate reports had been 
received from Keinmayer, who, directed to Eain, was now re- 
treating upon Munich without the commander-in-chief's know- 
ledge ; and Auffenberg was sent to Wertingen to connect the 
centre with Keinmayer, while the other corps were to follow 
this movement down the stream. On the Archduke's return 
on the night of the 7th, he recommended a retreat to the Inn 
by Augsburg and Munich, and orders were issued accordingly. 
Keinmayer was to move on Munich, Auffenberg on Zumars- 
hausen, the remainder on Giinzburg, where they were to await 
the calling in of the detachments. But these efforts to oppose 
the passage of the Danube were made too late. Delay at this 
juncture was fatal ; all available forces should have moved at 
once for the Upper Leek, sacrificing, if necessary, both Auffen- 
berg and Keinmayer. The actual position of the belligerents 
on the 8th was : — 


A ustrians. 

Auffenberg, . . Wertingen. 

AVerneck, . . Gunzburg. 

Reisch, . . . Ulm and Gunzburg. 

Schwarzenberg, . Ulm. 

Jellachich, . . Marching on Ulm. 

Spaugen, . . Mundelsheim, on Gunzburg. 

Keinmayer, . . Scbwabbausen. 

In all, numbering 66,000 men and 9000 horses. 


Bernadotte, . . Ingolstadt. 

Davoust, . . Neuburg to Aichach. 

Marmont, . . Supporting him. 

Murat, . . . Rain to Zumarshausen 
(covering the angle of the Leek and Danube to veil the subse- 
quent movements). 

Soult, . . . On Augsburg. 

Lannes, . . . Crossed at Miinster 
(and henceforth, with Murat, formed the advanced-guard to- 
wards Ulm). 

Both the latter, thus marching for Wertingen, would neces-' 
sarily come into collision with Auffenberg, who was resting 
there. In the action that took place he was routed, and 
Murat continued to advance on Zumarshausen. The Austrians 
still delayed with their main force, and did not start from 
Gunzburg till the 9th — though, as only Lannes and Murat were 
across their line of communication, retreat on this day was 
still practicable. Ney again received special orders, by which 
he was to take up a position on the left bank of the Danube 
at Giengen, and be prepared — 

1. To close the retreat into Bohemia. 

2. To intercept any movement from Ulm on Gundelfingen, 
or Ulm on Heidenheim. 

3. To invest Ulm on the left bank. 

4. To seize the passages on the Danube. 

To this end he was reinforced by Gazan's dragoons (5th 
corps) and Bourcier ; and now commanding, therefore, 36,000 


men, was ordered to attack wherever possible, in order to 
appear stronger than he really was. These dispositions were 
somewhat modified in the evening, owing to information that 
Napoleon had received to the effect that Mack would move on 
Augsburg ; and Ney was directed to seize the Gunzburg bridge, 
in order the more readily to communicate with the troops on 
the south bank in case of a general action. 9th October — all 
the French corps, with the exception of Ney, gained the south 
bank of the Danube. 

East of the Leek, fronting towards the Inn, were Bernadotte 
and the Bavarians, with Davoust posted centrally on the Leek : 
west of it were, — Lannes, reinforced by two of Soult's divisions, 
at Zumarshausen ; Murat on the Glinz, commanding all the 
troops on the left bank of the Leek and Danube; head- 
quarters and Guard at Donauwerth ; Marmont at Pottmes ; 
and Soult at Augsburg-Landsberg. 

The Russians were now about 180 miles off on the Linz. 
The Austrians commenced their march on Augsburg, but 
only got as far as Burgau ; for Mack, alarmed at the aspect of 
affairs, resolved on retreating by the north bank, and directed 
the bridge at Gunzburg to be restored for this purpose. The 
first plan of retreat had therefore been already abandoned ; 
and Ney, following out his previous instructions, had started 
from the Brenz in the morning and gained possession of the 
bridge by which he intended crossing, inflicting a loss on the 
Austrians of some 2000 men. In consequence of this fresh 
disaster, the Austrian retreat was directed upon Ulm, which 
was reached on the 10th ; but the disorder and disorganisation 
consequent on these repeated alterations in orders, and the re- 
sultant countermarches rendered further operations impossible 
without at least a day's rest. Orders were sent to Spangen to 
march on Memmingen. 

On the 10th, Lannes and Ney communicated at Burgau. 
The further development of the French towards the Iller 
was completed. Napoleon, on the 11th, fronted that river, 
with a central reserve, under Marmont, at Augsburg on the 
Leek ; and now he began to turn his attention towards the last 
line of retreat, that by the Tyrol— so that the possession of 
Memmingen became a matter of importance. Murat's patrols 


reached Lannes, stretching from Burgau to "Weissenhorn ; 
Ney strode across the Danube at Gtinzburg; Soult wheeled 
round from Landsberg towards Mindelheim and Memmingen ; 
Marmont, passing Augsburg, fronted towards the Gtinz ; the 
headquarters and Guard were at Augsburg ; Eernadotte and 
the Bavarians at Munich ; while, as an intermediate link in 
the chain, Davoust extended between Munich and Au^sburs?. 
The head of Kutusoff's columns only reached the Inn on this 
day, and were even then in weak force. 

The events of the 9th led Napoleon to fear that Mack 
wished to throw himself into the Tyrol. If this were the case, 
but a small force would be left behind, and Ulm might be 
captured. Ney was therefore ordered to investigate, from his 
position on the left bank, what was going on in the fortress, 
and Dupont was hence directed to advance from Albeck 
in that direction. This led to the affair of Haslach, where 
Dupont, though he made a most courageous attack against 
superior forces, was defeated, and retreated again on Albeck 
and Langenau. Mack had commenced to retreat to Heiden- 
heim for Bohemia on the 11th, after detaching Jellachich to 
Memmingen ; but the result of the action, in which he claimed 
an important victory, only confirmed him in his obstinate de- 
termination of delaying at Ulm, in spite of loud remonstrances 
on the part of his subordinate generals — and the orders for 
retreat were once more countermanded. At the same time, he 
effected a reorganisation of his army, giving command of the 
left to Schwarzenberg, the centre to lleisch, and the right 
to Werneck, Jellachich still remaining detached. 

On the 12th, the French were closing around Ulm, and 
Mack, at length giving way, issued fresh orders for a move, 
with, however, doubtful sincerity, until the nature of the 
French turning movement becoming unmistakable, he was 
obliged to decide on making preparations in earnest for re- 
treat on the 13th, and the instructions to the generals were as 
follows : — 

"Werneck, 16,000 strong, to march at daybreak. 

Reisch, with 18,000 and the reserve artillery, to follow some 
hours later. 

Schwarzenberg, 18,000, to demonstrate on the right bank 


between the Iller and Danube, following to Heidenheim on 
the 14th. 

Jellachich to move up the left bank of the Iller, destroying 
the bridges, and eventually retreating into the Tyrol. 

But even this disposition was destined to be disturbed ; for 
the Emperor, very indistinctly informed of the Austrian move- 
ments, considered that he would retreat entirely into the 
Tyrol, and therefore proposed to receive him on the right 
bank of the Danube. Preparing for action either on the 13th 
or 14th, he concentrated on the Both, six miles east of Ulm. 
Ney was ordered to draw in Dupont from Albeck, and, hold- 
ing Gunzburg, to advance to Leipheim ; Lannes and Murat 
to advance on the right bank of the river ; Marmont on Nat- 
tenhausen from Augsburg ; Soult on Mindelheim ; Guard to 

According to some authorities, Dupont's movement was 
ordered by Murat, who commanded the troops in the angle 
of the Danube and Leek, and this was resented by Ney ; but 
in the end Dupont retired upon Albeck by Brenz, where he 
arrives on the 13th. 

On the 13th, Marmont to Weissenhorn. 

Soult to Memmingen, which he invested; Ney to seize 

But Napoleon now obtained accurate information of the 
Austrian plan ; and it was important to detain Mack still 
longer at Ulm. A spy was therefore employed, and Mack, 
believing the false intelligence conveyed by him, again ar- 
rested the forward movement, though on this day the road 
was in reality open, seeing that Dupont did not leave Brenz 
until the 14th. 

Austrian movements : — 

Jellachich marched by Gazelingen on Ochsenhausen. 
Werneck, on Heidenheim, reached Herbrectingen the 
same night, beyond the rayon of French investment, 
with artillery and baggage. 
Schwarzenberg demonstrated in Ulm. 
Beisch was ordered not to take the road to Heidenheim, 
but that to Elchingen and Gundelfingen. This further 


counter-order was carried out, and he reached Elchin- 
gen, but his second division was impeded by the state 
of the roads. 
l-ith October. — French movements : — 
Dupont reached Albeck — (right.) 

Ney, moving by both banks, forced the bridge at Elchin- 

gen, attacked Eeisch, routing him with the loss of his 

artillery, driving him in disorganised flight to Ulm, 

and gained Thalfingen — (centre.) 

Marmont to Oberkirchberg — (left.) 

Lannes pushing on till in sight of the tete de pont at 

Ulm, advanced one division to Capellenberg. 
Soult at Memmingen. 
Guard and Davoust in support. 
Austrian movements : — 

Jellachich continuing his previous march nearly reached 

Memmingen on the 14th, and sent orders to Spangen, 

who occupied it, to march on Wurzach ; but the town 

was already invested by Soult, and so the general 

could not comply with the order, and surrendered on 

ihe following day. 

The Emperor established his headquarters at Abbey El- 

chingen after the battle which had destroyed Eeisch, and 

thence issued his final orders for the complete investment of 

Ulm. Lannes was therefore called to the left bank to take 

position at Unterthalfmgen, the bridges used being those of 

Leihe and Unterthalfingen, which were repaired ; Ney, when 

relieved by him, was to move on Mohringen ; Marmont to 

Capellenberg from Wiblingen ; the Guard in second line on 

the left bank, crossing at Leihe ; Soult to cross the Iller, and 

gain the road to Biberach as rapidly as possible. 

Thus on the 14th -15th the French army was rapidly 
closing in. It was unknown to the Emperor that "Wemeck's 
corps was outside his investing force and in rear of his right, 
but still instructions were given to Eivand to guard the 
line of communication, and to move the artillery park to the 
south bank of the Danube. On the morning of the 14th, 
there were yet some hopes of escape for the Austrian army. 
Mack might still have struck out for Bohemia by Geislingen 

CAMPAIGNS OF 1805 : ULM. 95 

and Aalen, or, crossing the Danube above Ulm at Etingen, 
seek to gain the Tyrol by Biberach. The opposition to be 
anticipated from Soult was not fatal to such a measure. He 
was already engaged at Memmingen, and the force opposed 
to him had not then surrendered. But Mack obstinately 
adhered to the extraordinary views he had formed ; and then, 
at last, the Archduke Ferdinand declared his intention of 
leaving Ulm in order to join Werneck. A violent scene 
ensued. Amidst bitter altercation Mack produced the Em- 
peror of Austria's secret instructions, and threatened to take 
the Archduke's life in case of disobedience. But the threat 
availed him little. His army was demoralised, his generals 
insubordinate ; and Ferdinand, accompanied by Schwarzen- 
berg and 12 squadrons of cavalry, vacated the fortress, march- 
ing for Geislingen, which he reached during the night of 
the 14th- 15th October. The campaign of Ulm was practi- 
cally finished : whatever had been Mack's position early on 
the day of the 14th, its close saw him in a desperate plight. 
Deserted by his principal lieutenants, Werneck isolated, 
Reisch routed, with a diminished force of artillery and all 
discipline lost, the chances of success were altogether gone. 
The loth saw the beginning of the end. At 7 a.m., the 
dispositions for attacking Ulm were made, and the final 
positions were taken up in pouring rain. 

Ney from Mohringen to Jungingen, with Bourcier on the 
extreme flank. 

Lannes on Ney's left. 

Guard at Thalfingen. 

Marmont on the right bank, with one division at the 
bridge-head and one at Capellenberg ; the bridges being held 
by dismounted dragoons. Light cavalry were employed in 
all directions. On the Austrian side reigned much confusion. 
The troops which had escaped from Elchingen were too de- 
moralised to take part in the impending action. Mack could 
only dispose of 30 weak battalions, and 14 squadrons of 
cavalry. The works on the Michaelsberg were rendered use- 
less by rain. And lastly, since most of the troops belonging 
to the corps of Schwarzenberg had escaped with the Arch- 
duke, there was a want of that unity of command on which 


the successful issue of a battle to be fought against such 
desperate odds could alone be based. 

The assault commenced at mid-day : all the heights were 
carried and the Austrians driven into the fortress, which 
might have been taken by storm ; but the Emperor, now sure 
of his prey, and unwilling to encounter useless loss of life, 
broke off the action. 

During the clay, lie heard of a skirmish between a French 
detachment and superior Austrian forces at Albeck, and thus 
the French line of communication appeared to be endangered. 
Murat was therefore detached with a large body of cavalry 
together with Dupont's division to Nordlingen. 

The close of the loth saw the commencement of negotia- 
tions with the Austrians, and the Comte de Segur was sent 
to explain the true state of affairs. Notwithstanding the 
hopelessness of his position, Mack demanded a truce of eight 
days ; but to this Napoleon would not consent, offering, how- 
ever, a six days' armistice, to which his opponent would not 
agree. His garrison now numbered 23,000 infantry and 
cavalry, with 59 guns. 

On the 16th, the fortress was bombarded and negotiations 
were resumed. 

On the 17th, a personal interview took place between the 
Austrian and French generals-in-chief ; and, finally, the former 
signed the terms of capitulation, by which the army became 
prisoners of war, the officers only being allowed to depart on 
parole. He made but one stipulation, that a clause should 
be inserted to the effect that if, by midnight on the 25th, 
the blockade of Ulm should be raised either by Austrian or 
Russian troops, the garrison was to be permitted to march out 
unimpeded and unite with the relieving force. To this the 
Emperor agreed. He required rest for his soldiers after their 
extraordinary exertions, and time to regulate the system of 
subsistence for them, while the pursuit of what Austrian troops 
were not in Ulm had still to be carried out. 

Jellachich had remained during the 15th at Lentkirch with- 
out attempting anything for Spangen's relief; but hearing of that 
general's capitulation, he marched on the 16th towards Wan- 
gen with a view to draw in his other detachments at Lindau. 


Soult had marched on the 16th from Memmingen to 
Ochsenhausen, and on the 17th to Biberach, maintaining 
communication with Marmont on the right bank of the Iller 
with one division. 

Meanwhile Werneck and Ferdinand were in full retreat. 

The former halted at Herbrectingen on the 14th, to give 
his train a further start, and expected to be joined by Eeisch, 
but his defeat had rendered this impossible. Information 
was soon, however, obtained from stragglers of the disasters 
that were beginning to be suffered by the rest of the forces ; 
and Werneck thereupon determined to retrace his steps, with 
a view to their assistance. The movement was planned for 
the 15th, and the skirmish that ensued with Dupont was that 
of which the Emperor had received intelligence. As with 
Mack, there was evidence of bad dispositions and want of 
resolution. He retired in the evening of the day, but, urged 
by his generals, prepared to advance again on the 16th. 
Ferdinand with ScliAvarzenberg had marched first to Geis- 
lingen, and then on Gmiind and Aalen, which they reached on 
the morning of the 16th, to find there a detachment of Wer- 
neck's force. The Archduke sent orders at once to the 
former to abandon his object and to continue his retreat. 
But Murat was already on the heels of Werneck's infantry, 
and harassing the rear of the tired and weary column, obliged 
a large body of them to lay down their arms at Langenau. 
The retreat was again continued by the line Herbrectingen- 
Unterkochen-Bop fingen - Neresheim - Trochtelfingen-Oetti ngen, 
&c, the Archduke moving on Nordlingen; but learning on 
the march that it was occupied by a strong body of French 
troops, he turned north to Wallenstein, and cutting his way 
through the depots reached Oettingen in safety. Werneck 
was again overtaken by Murat at Neresheim, where he suf- 
fered further losses in prisoners, and at midnight reached 
Trochtelfingen, sending the cavalry to Oettingen. Here, 
exhausted by retreat and with his train captured on the 
17th and 18th, he capitulated to Murat. 

The Archduke, joined by the wreck of Werneck's corps, 
left Oettingen on the 18th, and reached the Altmiihl on the 
19th, where, again overtaken by Murat, his exhausted infantry 



were compelled to surrender. The cavalry continued to retire 
by Eschenbach, where Murat abandoned the pursuit ; and on 
the 23d, Ferdinand reached the Eger with 1700 horsemen and 
560 artillerymen, having retreated, in constant collision with 
the enemy, 200 miles in eight days. 

The last act of the drama had still to be accomplished, the 
surrender of Ulm into French hands. Mack, seeing at last 
the hopelessness of his position, hastened the result. He 
declared himself ready to hand over the fortress on the 20th, 
instead of the 26th, provided a French corps of equal strength 
with the garrison were left in the neighbourhood. 

The bulk of his army was killed, wounded, or prisoners. 
Of the latter 2000 were captured at Wertingen, 2000 at 
Gunzburg, 4000 at Halslach, 3000 at Elchingen, 5000 at 
Memmingen, 13,000 at Trochtelfingen and in pursuit by 
Murat, and at Ulm 25,000 ; while the losses in the different 
actions amounted to 16,000 men. 

Only 19,200 out of a total of more than 89,000 men had 
escaped. There were the troops under Jellachich 6000, 
Keinmayer 11,000, and the Archduke 2200. This magni- 
ficent result had been obtained by Napoleon with a loss of 
6000 men. 54,000 prisoners, 200 guns, 80 standards, and 
5000 horses were the trophies of the campaign. The first 
part of the war against the third Coalition had been entirely 


The line of the Maine with the Rhine offered a rectangular 
base, the value of which was fully utilised. The direction of 
the French march was well calculated for Mack's direct 
retreat to be entirely intercepted by the time he had changed 

But another avenue was still open, and hence the necessity 
of a continuation of the turning movement, entailing more 
danger. The roads leading from the Austrian position to the 
base were so numerous, that any attempt to cover them all 
must necessarily attenuate the French line and offer many 
opportunities to the intercepted. A determined effort in any 


direction, except towards the centre of the French line, would 
probably have been successful. 

For this reason, to aim at the rear of an enemy is seldom 
originally purposed, but is determined by circumstances and 
the situation. Hamley says the operation of throwing an 
army across an enemy's lines of retreat is in appearance 
much more decisive and effectual than that of operating 
parallel to these lines, but in appearance only. Troops spread 
over a great space cannot be strong enough at all points to 
resist a march of the enemy in mass. The front being parallel 
to the line of communication, a lost battle is as disastrous to 
them as to the adversary. On the other hand, by retaining 
a front parallel to the enemy's communications, the assailant 
covers his own, and therefore preserves a relative advantage 
in case of battle. 

In general, the better course for the assailant, on attaining 
the point of the enemy's communications aimed at, is to move 
rapidly along them until close to the opposing army, and 
then to manoeuvre so as to force that army to form front to 
a flank. 

It will thus be compelled to engage at the greatest relative 
disadvantage ; and if it determines to fight, and if it escapes by 
a line still open, the territory it had occupied will be gained 
without a blow. 

Second Period: Austerlitz. 

Introduction. — As before stated, the left of the Austrian strategic front 
was Italy. Here the Archduke Charles was confronted by Massena. 
Great expectations had been formed by the Aulic Council that success to 
the armies of the Coalition would have led to the restitution of the 
Milanese to Austrian rule. But the rapidity of the French successes on 
the Danube had rendered these hopes for the time fruitless. On the 
15th October, 30 battalions had by order of the Imperial Cabinet been 
hastened into the Tyrol, to assist the army at Ulm. This unexpected 
weakening of his force deprived the Archduke of any opportunity of 
offensive action. He remained, therefore, strengthening the position at 
Caldiero, near Verona, and, while awaiting events in the more import- 
ant portion of the theatre of war, concluded an armistice with Massena 


until the 28th. St Cyr was stationed in the kingdom of Naples, where 
the Viceroy, Eugene Beauharnais, exerted all his energies in furnishing 
supplies for the Italian campaign. On the 28th, Massena received news 
of the capitulation of Ulm, and on the 29th, advanced against his 
adversary. This led to the hotly-contested but indecisive battles of 
Caldiero, after which the Archduke, on the 1st November, decided on 
falling back, feeling that his presence might be recpuired nearer the 
capital ; and sending a strong detachment to Venice, he crossed the Isonzo 
on the 17th, and reached Laybach without opposition. The pursuit 
was continued without any events worthy of especial notice, inasmuch as 
the campaign in Germany was still going in the favour of the French ; and 
by the end of November Massena was in communication with Marmont 
at Brugg, and thus the French line extended from the Adriatic to the 
frontiers of Moravia, and the operations of the Army of Italy terminated. 

In Germany, Napoleon received news of the advance of Kutusow in 
force on the Inn, and issued a stirring address to his troops. He had 
now to separate the Russians from the Archduke Charles in Italy, and 
also prevent their junction with the Archduke John in the Tyrol. 
Bernadotte, hitherto the left wing, became the extreme right at Salz- 
burg, and the Emperor advanced to Munich. Ney pushed into the Tyrol 
against the Archduke John ; and the Leek, with Augsburg as a grand 
depot, was made the intermediate base of operations. The other corps 
advanced in the valley of the Danube, preceded by Murat with the 
cavalry and pontoon train and followed by Soult ; and Ney was rein- 
forced by Augereau's corps which had arrived from France, Marmont fol- 
lowing Bernadotte and strengthening the right wing. 

The Inn was passed in three columns on the 28th. Murat came up 
with Keinmayer's rear-guard and engaged it at Ried on the 29th, and 
again near Lambach on the 31st October, where the Austrians destroyed 
the bridge over the Traun. Linz was reached on the 2d November by 
Lannes, the Bavarians moving by Innspruck ; the Enns passed on the 
5th. On the 7th, the French were concentrated for battle opposite the 
heights from Krems on the Danube to Loeben, by which latter route the 
Archduke Charles might have advanced from Italy ; Bernadotte, Davoust, 
and Marmont on the right, Soult the centre, Murat and Lannes the left, 
resting on the Danube, while a new corps was formed and placed under 
Mortier to act on the left bank of the river, where advance was much 
impeded by bad roads. An action was fought on this bank at Diirren- 
stein on the 11th, with a Russian division, which obliged the French 
marshal to fall back to Spitz, where, however, he was not pursued. On 
the same date Murat reached Bunkersdorf, and Vienna was entered on 
the 13th and 14th November. Ney's advance, though opposed, had 
meanwhile been successful, and on the 15th November he had obliged 
Jellachich to capitulate at Scharnitz. The Archduke John, however, 
still retreated in good order before him, and Ney could not prevent his 
communication with the Archduke Charles on the 20th, when the two 
generals were at Klagenfurth and Laybach respectively, ami they finally 
retired into Hungary on the capture of Vienna. 


But a thunder-cloud was threatening in the north of Germany that 
occasioned some anxiety to the French Emperor. The violation of 
Prussian territory at Anspach had begun to bear fruit. On the 3d 
November, a treaty of friendship was signed between Prussia and Russia, 
and the King of Sweden had taken the field in Pomerania. But 
Napoleon confined himself to proclamations, and to the despatch of a 
small Spanish auxiliary force to the north of Europe. Success against 
the main armies of the Coalition would inevitably cause the break-up of 
the forces of the smaller Powers. At Vienna he felt comparatively safe, 
for he saw that if hostilities were attempted in Hungary, he had Davoust 
and Marmont to dispose of, while in Moravia he could meet the blow 
with the corps of Soult, Lannes, Murat, and Bernadotte. 

Kutusow, crossing the Danube at Krems, had fallen back towards Briinn 
and Olmutz on the occupation of Vienna, with a view of uniting with 
the Austrians from the capital and the Russian reinforcements ; and 
a skirmish occurred between Bagration, one of his lieutenants, and the 
forces of Murat and Soult. 

On the 20th, the French headquarters were at Briinn, and Kutusow 
had effected a junction with the allied armies, and fallen back on Olmutz. 
Negotiations ensued without effect on the 25th ; and on the 28th, when 
the Emperors of Austria and Russia met there, all hopes of peace had 
vanished, and both sides prepared for battle. Skirmishes ensued, result- 
ing in the retreat of the advanced French forces in rear of Austerlitz ; 
and this on the 1st December brought the armies into position for 
decisive battle. 

The following sketch illustrates the main features of the strategy of the 
" Campaign of Vienna " up to this date : — 

1. Deterrent effect of military success upon neutral Powers. (Prussia.) 

2. Preparations of the Emperor Napoleon for continuing his opera- 

3. Arrival of Kutusow on the Inn, which river he declines to cross. 

4. Present objective of Napoleon, to crush Kutusow before the arrival 
of Buxhowden with 2d Russian army. 

5. Character of the valley of the Danube between Munich and Vienna. 
Military operations cramped in consequence. 

6. Sagacity of Kutusow in rejecting the influence of the Court and 
Aulic Council at Vienna. 

7. He commences his retreat from the Inn, October 26th ; refuses to 
defend the river-lines in Upper Austria, or to cover, directly, the Austrian 

8. The Emperor, convinced that Kutusow will stand on the Traseu, 
effects dispositions for a general action. 

9. Kutusow, meanwhile, cleverly shrouding his purpose, carries his 
army, without impediment, to the north bank of the Danube, at Krems. 

10. Peculiar configuration of the river utilised for this purpose. 

11. The detached forces of the French army : Ney's advance in Tyrol ; 
Murder's check at Diirrenstein. 

12. Occupation of Vienna by Murat, and seizure of the Tabor bridge. 


13. Kutusow's position thus dangerously compromised ; his successful 
dispositions for regaining his line of retreat. 

14. Junction of the Russian armies in the the vicinity of Olnnitz. 
This brings the narrative up to the period immediately preceding the 

battle of Austerlitz. 

The success of Kutusow in parrying the blows aimed at him 
by Napoleon, and the subsequent junction of the Russian 
armies, soon changed the complexion of the military situation. 
The waste and difficulty attending prolonged offensive opera- 
tions are seldom better illustrated than in the present campaign. 
The French Emperor had no sooner occupied Briinn without 
opposition, than he found it necessary to take a calm survey 
of his general position. Though he had succeeded, in a mar- 
vellously short space of time, in destroying an entire army and 
in seizing his enemy's capital, the general action upon which 
the ultimate issue of the campaign must depend had yet to be 
fought, his actual prospects being by no means reassuring. 
In Prussia, whilst the startling development of the campaign 
had increased the weight of arguments adduced in favour of 
peace by the king's timid councillors, the vehemence of the 
popular voice had at last roused that monarch to resent the 
insult offered to the nation by the violation of his territory 
Posted in Silesia, as well as in the valley of the Saale, the 
Prussian armies were in a position to exercise decisive in- 
fluence upon Napoleon's operations by joining actively the 

The Archduke Charles, recalled from the Italian theatre 
where he had hitherto successfully opposed Massena, had 
already crossed the Julian Alps, and probably, by the middle 
of December, would join the Eussian army in Moravia, with 
50,000 additional soldiers. 

In Hungary, the reserve forces of the empire, largely in- 
creased by patriotic levies, would soon be in a position to take 
the field. 

In Bohemia, the Archduke Ferdinand had succeeded in 
organising a force of 12,000 men ready to co-operate in the 
general interests of the campaign. 

Finally, the occupation of Vienna, heavy detachments to 
the Tyrol and Hungarian frontier, then the care of a line of 


communications extending 400 miles westwards to the Rhine, 
had drawn heavily upon the effective resources of the Em- 
peror. The numerical superiority which had enabled him so 
decisively to crush Mack at Ulm had now altogether vanished. 
In point of fact, in the impending general action Napoleon 
would certainly find himself inferior in fighting numbers to 
his adversary. For this reason it is evident that the limits 
of his invasive power had already been reached, and deeper 
advance into his enemy's territory would only serve to weaken 
further his relative military position. Whilst certain con- 
siderations, therefore, urged him with almost irresistible force 
to hurry on the final crisis of the campaign, his own good 
judgment rejected the alternative in which every chance of 
success appeared against him. Nothing seemingly could re- 
lease the Emperor, at so late a season of the year, from the 
false position he held at Briinn, but radical error on the part 
of his antagonist. Although, from his experience of Ku- 
tusow's patient sagacity this could barely be assumed or 
expected, Napoleon recognised that other influences would 
henceforth direct the movements of the allied army. The 
Emperor Alexander of Russia was present in the camp of 
his soldiers ; and though Kutusow, as senior general, nominally 
held the chief command over the now united armies, his 
future action must necessarily be much embarrassed by the 
presence of his sovereign. It was more than probable that 
Alexander, inexperienced, haughty, and eager for military 
renown, would reject as ignominious for his army the further 
pursuit of a system of strategy which eventually would 
surely have brought success. The Czar might consider that 
the moment for avenging the humiliating retreat of his 
soldiers from the Inn had at last arrived, and, carried away 
by impulse and a false sense of chivalry, might himself seek 
the general action which Napoleon's interests so pressingly 
demanded. In this case the French Emperor had little fear 
for the result on a defensive battle-field selected by himself; 
he well knew that the advantage of numbers would thus be 
neutralised, and the victory he confidently anticipated would 
at once terminate his embarrassment, and break up the Coali- 
tion. Napoleun therefore halted at Briinn, placing his in- 


fantry, about 50,000 strong, in cantonments as far east as 
Austeiiitz ; whilst Murat, with the cavalry, received strict 
directions to watch with unceasing vigilance the enemy's 
movements. With a view to select the ground for the battle 
he hoped soon to be called upon to fight, he then carefully 
studied, in concert with his superior officers, the topography 
of the country between Austerlitz and Brtinn. 

The Russians, meanwhile, after effecting their junction, 
continued their retreat, halting eventually in the strong de- 
fensive position of Oltschan, in the vicinity of Olmiitz. 
Altogether Kutusow's army numbered about 85,000 men, 
including the small Austrian contingent which had retreated 
with the 1st Kussian army from the Danube. With numbers 
so much superior to any that ISTapoleon could oppose to them, 
it is clear that, on the ground they now held, the Russians 
might accept battle with every chance in their favour. What 
delay might occur would be profitably utilised in further 
strengthening this position by artificial means. Owing to 
considerations which have been already adduced, every day 
gained here increased the mastery of the military situation 
which the allies already possessed. The only possible means 
of forfeiting this, was by relincpuishing the defensive attitude 
which was now beginning to bear its inevitable fruits. Had 
the advice of Kutusow, and some few other experienced 
officers present, been followed, the battle of Austerlitz would 
not have been fought. Unfortunately more powerful in- 
fluences interfered with the old general's authority. The 
Court party, which surrounded the Czar, profoundly ignorant 
of military science, filled his ear with plausible but unsound 
arguments for offensive action, well knowing that this was in 
accordance with his inmost wishes. It was urged that at 
Amstetten, Diirrenstein, and Hollabrunn, the Eussian soldier 
had successfully asserted his claim to be considered equal to 
the enemy. Viewing the considerable superiority of force 
available for the allies, victory must therefore be considered 
certain. The only fear was lest the enemy should recognise 
this fact and decamp in time. To remain inactive was vir- 
tually to tarnish the fame of the Eussian army. In support 
of these views other circumstances of more practical urgency 


were adduced, which ultimately served to carry the day. It 
had not been anticipated by the Austrian Government that so 
large an army would be placed in position at Olmiitz. The 
magazines required for its prolonged subsistence had not been 
provided, whilst the resources of the neighbouring district 
would soon be exhausted. The Russians, moreover, bivou- 
acked in the open air, without any shelter from the inclemency 
of November nights. The diseases which invariably accom- 
pany exposure and want, soon, consequently, made their 
appearance in the camp. At this juncture, too, General 
"Weirother, Kutusow's chief of the staff, produced an elaborate 
plan of offensive battle. Plausible enough in appearance, it 
contained many essential defects. It sufficed, however, to 
elicit Alexander's approval, whilst Kutusow, from deference 
bordering on servility, failed to raise his voice against a 
course he in his own mind utterly condemned. It was 
agreed that the execution of the manoeuvre proposed by 
Weirother should be commenced on the 27th of November, 
on which day the allies vacated their camp at Oltschan, 
marching by the imperial road leading to Brtinn. This move- 
ment was at once reported to Napoleon by Murat. Now the 
distance from Oltschan to Briinn was about forty-five miles, 
or three ordinary days' march. Napoleon therefore would 
have fully forty-eight hours at his disposal to complete his 
preparations for battle. This brings us to the consideration 
of the battle-field. 

About eleven miles to the east of Briinn, the capital of 
Moravia, the Posoritzer Post-house marks the point where 
the highroad forks, leading by Olmiitz to Poland, and by 
Goding to Hungary. That portion of the road between Briinn 
and the Post-house is divided into equal parts by the course 
of the river Goldbach, which intersects it at Bellowitz. This 
stream flows for a distance of six miles in a due southerly 
direction to the village of Tellnitz, which, with the adjacent 
lakes, Satschan and Menitz, formed the southern boundary of 
the battle-field. The banks of the Goldbach were covered 
with brushwood and marshy, so that the stream could only be 
crossed by troops at the regular passages — at Schlappanitz, 
Puntowitz, Kobelnitz, and the castle and village of Sokolnitz, 


all lying between Bellowitz and Tellnitz. About a mile and 
a half to the east of the Goldbach, a second stream, which takes 
its name from the village of Bosonitz, cuts the Olmutz road, 
and then, turning gradually towards the south-west, joins the 
Goldbach at Puntowitz. On its left bank stands the village 
of Girzikowitz, and in the angle it forms with the Goldbach 
a ridge of dominant heights overlook the surrounding country. 
The line of the Bosonitz brook and the lower course of the 
Goldbach, below Puntowitz, form the western boundary of the 
actual battle-field. The eastern limit is formed by the river 
Littawa, which flows from north-east to south-west towards 
the lake of Satschan, into which it empties itself. Between 
the Littawa, the Goldbach, the Olmutz road and the lake, is an 
elevated plateau tolerably defined by the course of the above- 
named waters. Westward, the face, broken by several ravines 
— all practicable for the movement of troops — slopes gently 
down to the Goldbach ; eastward and to the south more 
steeply towards the Littawa and Satschan lake. Towards 
the Olmutz road the plateau subsides very gradually, pre- 
senting a surface highly favourable to the action of cavalry. 
It is marked by two hills, Stari Winibradi and Pratzen, 
between which, in the riven flank of the plateau, stands the 
village of Pratzen. The value of the lower line of the Gold- 
bach, as a defensive obstacle, is considerably enhanced by the 
lake of Kobelnitz, through which it flows, as also by further 
considerable deposits of water on its right bank at Ottmarau. 
Five miles away to the w T est, washing the walls of the capital, 
flows the river Schwarza, enclosing with the Goldbach the 
wooded heights of Turas. Parallel with its course runs the 
highroad by which Napoleon communicated with Vienna. 
Although most of his supplies, and all his expected rein- 
forcements, would be forwarded from the Austrian capital, 
Napoleon was by no means entirely dependent upon this line. 
With the foresight which characterised his military operations, 
the Emperor had already detached Bernadotte towards Bohemia, 
both with a view to observe the Archduke Ferdinand, and to 
prepare supplies and open up a line of communication through 
that kingdom to the Danube, in case of disaster. The country 
north of the Brunn-Olmutz road is rough, mountainous, and 


woody. Adjacent to the road, where this is crossed by the 
Bosonitz brook, close to Dwaroschna, stands an isolated coni- 
cal hill ordinarily called by the name of the village. This 
hill — which very much resembled in shape a height used for 
a. similar purpose in Egypt — was fortified, and armed with 
heavy guns by Napoleon, to protect and secure the left flank 
of his position, which was somewhat exposed. The French 
soldiers christened it after its prototype, Santon — (friar, 

It was late on the evening of the 1st December when the 
allies reached the position from which they purposed to com- 
mence their attack upon the French army on the day follow- 
ing. For marching and manoeuvring convenience, the Russian 
army had been divided into five separate columns, each of 
which on the day stated bivouacked on the ground assigned 
to it by Weirother's order of battle. 

The left wing of the army, in position, consisted of the three 
first columns and an advanced-guard, the whole commanded 
by Buxhowden. 

Keinmayer, with the advanced-guard, 6300,* stood slightly 
to the north of the village of Aujesd. 

The 1st column under Doctorow, 15,200, and the 2d under 
Langeron, 11,100, occupied the southern portion of the 
plateau of Pratzen, from Aujesd to the village from which it 
takes its name. They formed line parallel to the Goldbach, 
about a mile and a half away from its left bank. 

The 3d column, led by Przybyszewski, 10,300, rested with 
its left upon the village of Pratzen, the centre and right being 
thrown back considerably from the original line. 

The centre consisted of the 4th and strongest column under 
Kollowrat, 16,750 ; it was formed up behind Pratzen, and in 
rear of the left of the 3d column. 

The right wing comprised the 5th column under Liechsten- 
stein, made up exclusively of cavalry, 6000, and a strong 
advanced-guard led by Bagration, 11,500— the whole com- 
manded by the former officer. Liechstenstein took ground 
with the cavalry in rear of the right of the 3d column, some- 

* TIip numbers, which arc variously given by different authors, arc taken 
from Rtistow. 


what further back than the 4th. Bagration, striding across 
the chaussee, at Holubitz, covered the roads leading to Olmiitz 
and Gbding. 

Between the right of the 3d column and Bagration's left, a 
space of over two miles remained unoccupied. To cover this 
gap, and to act at the same time as a general reserve, the 
Kussian guard, 7400,* under Grand Duke Constantine, was 
posted on the left bank of the Littawa, between the Post-house 
and Krzenowitz. During the battle, Kutusow, as commander- 
in-chief, then the two emperors, Alexander of Russia and 
Francis of Austria, would be present with the central column. 

When the army had settled into the above positions, the 
commanders of columns were called to Kutusow's headquarters 
at Krzenowitz in order to be made acquainted with the plan 
of battle. 

The assumption was, that the bulk of the French army 
stood behind Schlappanitz and Sokolnitz, the left resting on 
the wooded heights of Lischna, the right being covered by the 
lakes of Kobelnitz and Ottmarau. In their present position, 
the allies, therefore, already overlapped with their left the 
French right. Moreover, the communications of the French 
with Vienna were maintained by roads parallel to their present 
front, and in the prolongation of this exposed flank. Weir- 
other's purpose was to force the lower passages of the Goldbach 
and to attack this flank with overwhelming force, severing 
Napoleon's communication with the Danube and Bohemia, 
and forcing him to fight the action with inverted front. In 
case of success, the French would be driven across the Ol- 
miitz road into the wild Moravian mountains, where retreat 
would be difficult. Obviously, in order to complete this man- 
ceuvre, the Russian left wing would have to effect a change 
of front during the battle. Pivoting upon Kobelnitz, the col- 
umns, as they successively forced the passages of the Gold- 
bach, must wheel to their right in order to gain the contem- 
plated line parallel to the Olmiitz road. With a view to gain 
the necessary time for the completion of this difficult move- 
ment, the right wing was expected to demonstrate against the 
French front in order to divert attention from the true point 
* The entire army thus amounted to 84,550 men. 


of attack. So soon as the left wing had effected its change 
of front on the right bank of the Goldbach, Bagration was to 
attack earnestly, to carry the upper passages of the Goldbach, 
and assist in completing the anticipated triumph. 

The detailed orders directed the four columns of the left 
wing to march off by their left punctually at seven o'clock on 
the morning of the 2d December, each column selecting a 
separate point of passage across the Goldbach : — 
The 1st at Tellnitz. 
„ 2d „ Sokolnitz (village). 
„ 3d „ do. (castle). 
„ 4th „ between Sokolnitz and Kobelnitz. 
Little difficulty was anticipated at these points, it being cor- 
rectly assumed that the mass of the French army stood be- 
between Schlappanitz and Bellowitz. 

The right wing, Liechstenstein with the cavalry leading, fol- 
lowed by Bagration, would form up at break of day on both 
sides of the Olmiitz road, between Blasowitz and Kruch, and 
then advance upon Bellowitz, in order to effect the demonstra- 
tion alluded to above. 

During this advance, the right wing would be supported, 
and covered on its left flank — greatly exposed by the con- 
templated movement of the other columns — by the Russian 
Guard, which would move up from the Littawa for that purpose. 
Should victory crown the combination, the army would 
concentrate at Latein, in order to cross the Schwarza without 
delay. In case of reverse the columns would retreat upon 
Herspitz and Niemtschan. 

The intelligence of the forward movement of the Russians 
from Oltschan reached the French Emperor at Briinn on the 
28th of November. Orders were at once issued to call in 
the various detachments echeloned on the roads leading to 
Bohemia and the Austrian capital. Soult, meanwhile, was 
directed to fall back from Austerlitz, in order to concentrate 
with the remainder of the army in rear of the Goldbach and 
the Bosonitz rivulet. By this means the Emperor hoped to 
gain sufficient time for the arrival of his detached brigades, 
whilst he enlisted in his favour the advantages of defensive 


The troops upon the presence of which he could calculate 
with certainty were, of infantry — 

1st Corps, Bernadotte, 10,300 
3d „ Davoust, 12,400 

4th „ Soult, 29,100 

5th „ Lannes, 5,800 

Imperial Guard, 3,300 

— in all, about 60,000 soldiers. Bernadotte, coming from Iglau, 
traversed Brtinn on the evening of the 1st December; and 
during the night, Friant, commanding one of Davoust' s brigades, 
reached the Abbey of Kaigern. .Including the cavalry, the 
effective strength of the French army, for the 2d of December, 
may be estimated at about 73,000 men ; a very much larger 
force than was credited to Napoleon by his adversary. On the 
morning of the 29th of November, the Emperor joined the 
bivouac of his army, selecting his post on the high ground be- 
tween the Goldbach and Bosonitz river, whence he could over- 
look the surrounding country. The movement of the allies, 
on the 1st of December, confirmed the anticipations he had 
formed as to their probable intentions, enabling him at once to 
effect his counter-dispositions. It was evident that in order 
to effect the turning movement which was clearly their object, 
the allies must descend from the Pratzen heights to the Gold- 
bach. In doing this they would offer their right flank to troops 
massed on the line of the Bosonitz stream, between Puntowitz 
and Girzikowitz. By pushing a sufficient force across the river 
so soon as the heights were vacated by the enemy, it would 
be easy to master these ; thereby effecting the double object of 
inserting a wedge between the hostile wings, and of gaining 
commanding ground from which to assail with decisive effect 
the Russian columns, crowded on the low ground of the Gold- 
bach. The nicety of the manoeuvre consisted in selecting the 
true moment for the counter-attack ; but so confident was the 
Emperor of the result of his combination, that, in a stirring 
order of the day, he explained to his soldiers the manner in 
which the fault of their enemy would be turned to account. 

It was, however, indispensable that the Russian left wing 
should be checked on the line of the Goldbach, until the French 
had fully established themselves upon the Pratzen plateau. 


Otherwise, Buxhowden would not only escape the punishment 
intended for him in the valley, but his forward movement 
might make itself unpleasantly felt upon the French rear. To 
counteract this, it was necessary to employ a retarding force on 
the Lower Goldbach. The character of the river and of the 
ground adjacent singularly favoured this purpose. Properly 
distributed, a small force would effectually defend the passages 
across the stream, and when forced from the river, would find 
further protection in rear of the Ottmarau and Kobelnitz lakes. 
The time thus gained would assuredly be turned to profitable 
account by the offensive centre, the influence of which could 
scarcely prove otherwise than decisive. 

On the other hand, the advance of a heavy central column 
from the Bosonitz river upon Pratzen would somewhat expose 
its left flank to the Eussian right. It was desirable, therefore, 
that sufficient troops should be echeloned in rear of this to 
accompany the forward movement, and as the ground opened, 
to spread out, fan-like, for its protection — the more so as the 
northern portion of the plateau was well suited for cavalry 

In this sense the Emperor made the following dispositions 
on the evening of the 1 st of December : — 

Soult received orders to place his corps in position on the 
left bank of the Bosonitz river, between Puntowitz and Girzi- 
kowitz, by 7 a.m. on the 2d of December, ready to execute the 
manoeuvre of the day — an advance in echelon from his right. 

Davoust was to relieve the detachments left by Soult to 
guard the passage on the Lower Goldbach, early on the morn- 
ing of the 2d, by moving up from the Abbey of Eaigern, which 
he had only reached during the night. He would then under- 
take the defence of the river-line. 

Lannes would form with his two divisions the extreme left 
of the French line, striding across the Olmiitz road, and leaning 
with his left upon the fortified Santon. 

Murat, taking post with the cavalry on the right bank of the 
Bosonitz river, in rear of Lannes's right, and of Soult's left — 
near the village of Girzikowitz — would be prepared to support 
Soult's advance, and co-operate in effecting the complete separ- 
ation of the enemy's wings. 


Bernadotte would place his corps, formed in contiguous 
columns of battalions, half- way between the Goldbach and the 
Bosonitz river, south of the road. Here he was well posted 
to follow the contemplated forward movement of the French 
centre and left, and, if necessary, to take his place in first line, 
between them. 

As a general reserve, Napoleon placed Oudinot's division, 
and six battalions of the Guard under Bessieres, on the 
eminence where he had taken his own stand. At this point, 
too, the attendance of all the French marshals was requested 
at half-past 7 a.m. on the 2d, to receive their final in- 
structions. It was the Emperor's object to await here the 
development of the plan which he credited to his enemy. 
Should his conjecture be realised, dispositions were already 
effected for the contingency. In case unforeseen circumstances 
should force him to alter these, with his subalterns around 
him, and his army concentrated on the smallest possible space, 
he would be ready to face any difficulty which might present 

In rear of the French position, Brlinn was armed and oc- 
cupied, and passages were prepared across the Schwarza, should 
the army be forced to retreat. 

The morning of the battle was characterised by a thick fog, 
which shrouded the hills as well as the low grounds in impene- 
trable mist. The movement of the Eussian left commenced 
with Keiumayer's advance upon Tellnitz. Eeinforced by Doc- 
torow, after severe fighting, the passage remained at 9 A.M. 
in the hands of the Russians. Here Buxhowden, who was 
present, instead of following up his advantage, halted, waiting 
for the result of the attack of the 2d column upon the village 
of Sokolnitz. 

At half-past nine this village was carried by Langeron, which 
forced Davoust to withdraw his right and centre behind the 
Ottmarau lake, still clinging tenaciously with his left to the 
river-line at the castle of Sokolnitz, where the passage was, 
however, soon forced by the 3d Russian column. 

Then Przybyszewski, uniting with Langeron on the right 
bank, attacked Davoust's left with great vigour. It was of 
the highest moment that Davoust should retain his hold of 


the river, in order to maintain his communication with the 
remainder of his army, and also to bar the entry of the Rus- 
sians too soon into the heart of the French position. With 
the aid of his artillery, well posted on the heights adjacent to 
the river, he succeeded in regaining possession both of the 
village and castle of Sokolnitz ; but in the face of numbers so 
superior, was unable to hold them after eleven o'clock, when 
he definitely retired from the river-line. The result of his 
efforts, favoured by the ground, was, that with 10,000 men, he 
had fully employed upwards of 40,000 Eussian soldiers for a 
period of nearly four hours. During this time the decisive 
manoeuvre of the day had been so far and so successfully de- 
veloped on another part of the field, that little more remained 
to be done. 

The sound of the Russian artillery from the direction of 
Tellnitz had already confirmed Napoleon's conjecture as to 
his enemy's purpose, when his marshals joined him on the 
"Emperor's hill" — as it has since been termed. The fog, 
however, was still so thick that it was impossible to examine 
the Russian movements on the plateau so closely as he had 
desired. About eight o'clock the rising sun dispelled the 
dense atmosphere from the surrounding hills, laying bare the 
Pratzen plateau, and disclosing the winding march of the Rus- 
sian columns. Presently through the mist the church steeple 
of the village of Pratzen became visible, and it was half-past 
nine o'clock when Soult's divisions were launched against the 
heights, which the Emperor had every reason to believe were 
now unoccupied. 

It will have been noticed, however, that in the preceding 
narrative, whilst the movements of the 1st, 2d, and 3d Rus- 
sian columns have been accounted for, the 4th or central 
column has not been named. Owing to the original position 
of the 3d column, the flank march executed by Przybyszewski, 
in order to reach the castle of Sokolnitz, had impeded the 
advance of Kollowrat. But after his front was clear, Kutusow 
still retained him behind the crest of the Tratzen heights. 
The truth is that the Russian commander had openly ex- 
pressed his disapproval of Weirother's plan. He had urged 
that the Russian army should be held together, trusting 



rather to its Lard fighting, than to its manoeuvring, qualities. 
He mistrusted the wide turning movement, in the face of so 
able and enterprising an adversary, and a categorical order 
from his Emperor was necessary to induce him to vacate what 
he recognised as, possibly, the decisive ground of the battle- 
field. About nine o'clock he set Kollowrat's column in motion 
for the village of Pratzen, which he must traverse in order to 
gain his objective point on the Goldbach. The three leading 
regiments had barely issued from the village when they came 
into collision with Soult's advance. The French spreading 
right and left soon seized the hills on either side of the 
village, whilst Kutusow found difficulty in extricating his 
battalions, in order to form his fighting line. When this was 
at last effected, the French had already established themselves 
in superior numbers upon the commanding ground of the 
position, and all Kutusow's efforts to dislodge them were 
futile. Shortly before eleven o'clock he withdrew his shat- 
tered regiments behind the Littawa, so disorganised that any 
further share in the combat was hopeless. 

From this time Soult remained in full possession of that 
portion of the plateau south of the village of Pratzen. His 
success, however, had cost him dearly, and some short time 
was spent in reorganising his command. 

Meanwhile Lannes and Murat had followed Soult's forward 
movement, extending as they gained space over the more open 
and level ground of the plateau. Here they soon came to 
blows with Bagration, Liechtenstein, and the Grand Duke 
Constantine, who had found it necessary to enter the general 
order of battle, in order to cover the flanks of the more for- 
ward columns, exposed by the interval previously alluded to. 
As neither army sought decisive results on this portion of the 
battle-field the fighting which ensued was more or less of a 
desultory character, in which the cavalry played a leading- 
part. The defeat of the Russian centre, then the want of 
connection in the line of battle, and the consequent necessity 
of using the reserve in the earliest hours of the day, were all 
causes which told in favour of the French. In spite of 
Pagination's obstinacy and the gallantry of their Guard, the 
Russians constantly lost ground, and by half-past eleven 


o'clock were in full retreat, first upon Posoritz, and event- 
ually upon Austerlitz, leaving the Olmlitz road on which 
their baggage-waggons were crowded entirely at the mercy of 
the French cavalry. 

By noon the result of the battle was no longer doubtful. 
Eecognising this, Kutusow sent orders to Buxhowden, at 
Tellnitz, to retire the Russian left as speedily as possible. 
But that general fancied himself victorious, and though he 
had done absolutely nothing to improve his success, hesitated 
in obeying. 

The phases of battle had by this time altogether changed 
the relative position of the two armies. Owing to the defeat 
of the Russian right and centre, and the partial refusal of 
Davoust's corps, the French army had virtually executed a 
wheeling movement on its centre, pivoting upon Puntowitz. 
That is to say, whilst Davoust on the extreme French right 
had been slowly pressed back by the weight of the Russian 
left, Soult and Launes, victorious on the French centre and 
left, had gained ground considerably to their front. The 
position of the French army may therefore now be assumed, 
as with the extreme left at Posoritz, the centre at Pratzen, 
and the right at Ottmarau. 

On the other hand the Russian army was hopelessly sep- 
arated — the one half, shattered and defeated, in rear of the 
Littawa, the other still engaged on the low grounds of the 
Goldbach, whilst the commanding heights between the two 
rivers were entirely in the hands of the enemy. 

Under these circumstances it only remained for the French 
Emperor to deliver his final blow against Buxhowden' s wing, 
and in this he was much assisted by that general's want of 
perception. On the French side the reserve, as well as the 
greater portion of Bernadotte's corps, had not as yet been 
under fire. These troops, together with Soult and Davoust 
on either bank of the Goldbach, were now directed against 
Przybyszewski, Langeron, and Doctorow. The commanding 
ground which enabled the French artillery to play with 
terrible effect upon the Russian columns in the valley, then 
the numerical superiority, now altogether on the side of the 
French, soon told with decisive effect. Przybyszewski's 


column was almost destroyed, whilst Langeron with great 
difficulty succeeded in extricating a portion of his command, 
retiring with a view to unite with Doctorow upon Tellnitz. 
Meanwhile Buxhowden had at last commenced his retreat 
upon Aujesd, purposing to cross the Littawa at Eeichmansdorf. 
But the bridge broke under the weight of his soldiers, strug- 
gling in disorderly masses to gain the opposite bank. The 
only possibility of escape now remaining was, by doubling 
back towards Tellnitz, to endeavour to carry the broken 
remnants of his force across the narrow neck of land which 
separates the Satschan from the Menitz lake. To this eud 
a couple of battalions were thrown into Tellnitz to cover the 
movement, which was at first conducted in tolerable order. 
But the road was crowded with ammunition-carriages belong- 
ing to the Eussian artillery, one of which exploded, creating 
terrible confusion in the retreating column. Henceforth all 
order was at an end ; the regiments, shelled from the neigh- 
bouring heights, broke, endeavouring to escape across the lake, 
which was covered with a thin skin of ice. Here many found 
their graves, and when darkness put an end to the struggle, 
but 8000 soldiers were rallied at Neudorf by Buxhowden, 
who during the night joined the main army in retreat on the 
road leading to Hungary. 

The total loss of the allied army in killed, wounded, and 
prisoners has been estimated at 33,000 men, with 186 guns, 
and the whole of the heavy baggage. 

French authors return their own losses at about 7000 killed 
and wounded, out of 5G,000 men actually under fire during 
the battle. 


The battle of Austerlitz offers an admirable illustration of 
the futility of theoretical combination where the faculty of 
practical execution is wanting. 

Apparently, the fundamental idea of Weirother's plan was 
sound. Assuming the French army to be little more than 
40,000 strong, formed up on a narrow front, parallel to its line 


of communications, lie proposed to turn the flank connected 
with these. Independent of the fact that the premises upon 
which he based his disposition were altogether faulty, the 
operation selected, as best calculated to lead to decisive 
success, leaves nothing to be desired. To assail an army in 
flank is to attack its most sensitive part under all circum- 
stances ; but when the flank attacked represents the line from 
which supplies are drawn, and along which, in case of disas- 
ter, retreat must be effected, the danger and embarrassment 
accruing to the defensive force is largely increased. Never- 
theless, provided a commander have confidence in his own 
skill, as well as in the fighting qualities of his soldiers, tac- 
tical success is not thus rendered less probable. On the 
contrary, the very character of the offensive movement im- 
plies a separation of force favourable to a well - aimed 
counter-stroke. The success of the operation would there- 
fore depend upon nice calculations of time and distance, 
providing timely support on all portions of the battle-field. 
It would further depend, in great degree, upon the character 
of the ground upon which the manoeuvre would be executed. 
These essential considerations were entirely overlooked by 

According to the proposed plan, hard fighting was not an- 
ticipated until the Russian left had fully effected its change 
of front on the right bank of the Goldbach. In other words, 
the successful development of Buxhowden's wing on the line 
Turas-Kobelnitz was assumed as an accomplished fact ; the 
enemy being credited, during the period necessary for the 
execution of this, with an attitude purely and passively 

Now the movements of the several columns composing the 
Russian left were necessarily dependent upon the wheeling 
flank, represented by Doctorow's 1st column. The distance 
from Aujesd to Turas — the objective point — was over seven 
miles, which, taken into account with the character of the 
roads, and the amount of opposition to be expected on the 
Goldbach, would consume, under favourable circumstances, 
fully four hours. The character of the river, moreover, was 


such as to offer every opportunity for successful defence by a 
greatly inferior force. Thus the distance to be traversed, 
together with the delay easily encountered on the Goldbach, 
would offer to a skilful adversary, holding his forces well in 
hand, precisely the opportunity required for effective counter- 
stroke. For it will be recollected that every step taken by 
the Russian left and centre towards the Goldbach, increased 
the interval between these and the Russian right. If, again, 
we consider the character of the ground— commanding on all 
s ia es _exposed by this interval, the effect of its occupation, 
in sufficient force, upon the separated fractions of the allied 
army, could not prove otherwise than decisive. 

It was not probable that the victor of Lonato and Castig- 
lione, would fail to seize the advantages which central posi- 
tion must here offer. But beyond the genial appreciation of 
instant opportunity, it is impossible to overlook, in the study 
of this campaign, the forecaste and sagacity which conduced 
to its successful termination. The instinctive recognition of 
the true measure of his offensive means, the distribution of 
his soldiers on the theatre of war, the careful study of ground 
where he was prepared to tight, then the vigilance with which 
his enemy's movements were watched, or his intentions 
sounded, are striking proofs of the consummate skill which 
characterised the military operations of Napoleon. 

The day had scarcely closed before Prince John of Liechtenstein, the 
envoy of the Emperor of Austria, arrived to propose a cessation of anus. 
It was speedily followed by a treaty resulting in the Peace of Presbuxg. 
The Emperor of Kussia withdrew from the confederation with that 
Power without compromising his alliance with Prussia. But the victory 
of Austerlitz carried weight even in the north of Germany. The King 
of Prussia engaged by treaty on the 15th December to abandon his alli- 
ance with the other States, receiving Hanover as the price of his perfidy. 
Nor was this all. His defection caused the withdrawal of the combined 
force of British, Swedes, and Russians which, under the command of 
the King of Sweden, was besieging Hameln, and the return of the allied 
troops to England, Stralsund, and Mecklenburg ; while another expedition 
of Bussians and English under General Stuart, landed in the bay of 
Naples to assist the Neapolitan Court, which had declared war against 
France, was therefore withdrawn, the Bussians re-embarking and the 
English retiring to Sicilv. 


Thus the year closed with complete success to the French armies. 
The German Empire had ceased to exist. The Emperor of Germany 
assumed the title of that of Austria, only, in July of the following year ; 
and Napoleon, constituting himself protector of the minor German States, 
converted the Electorates of Bavaria and Wurtemberg into kingdoms, 
increasing their territories as a reward for the assistance they had ren- 
dered him in the campaign. 



CAMPAIGN OF 1806-1807. 
Fikst Phase: Jena and Auerstadt. 

Introduction. — The first days of January were passed by Napoleon 
at Munich, and as soon as the Peace of Presburg was carried into effect 
he returned to Paris on the 26th. The decree issued at Schonbrunn, by 
which the Neapolitan dynasty was declared to have ceased to reign, fol- 
lowed by the appointment of Joseph Buonaparte to the throne, resulted 
in the entry of the new King into his kingdom, with an army under 
St Cyr, Reynier, and Massena. Though the deposed King and Queen had 
retired to Sicily, an effort was yet made by the Neapolitan Prince Royal 
to oppose the French forces, but he was defeated and his army dispersed. 
A descent was also made upon the coast by Admiral Sir Sidney Smith 
and Sir John Stuart with a force of 4800 men, in the hopes of encourag- 
ing the besieged garrison of Gaeta, still held by the Neapolitan troops. 
This led to the small action of Maida, in which the French under 
Reynier were defeated ; but, notwithstanding this success, Gaeta finally 
fell, the British troops were withdrawn, and the French remained 
masters of the peninsula. Disturbances also occurred in Dalmatia, 
where the Russians had sent an expedition from Corfu ; but it was 
disposed of by Molitor and Lauriston, assisted by Marmont, in Septem- 
ber, and Berthier was directed not to withdraw his army beyond the 
Inn. During the operations Ragusa had been seized ; and this being 
displeasing to the Sultan, Sebastiani was sent to pacify him, and, if 
possible, destroy the influence that Russia and Great Britain possessed 
over the Ottoman Porte. July witnessed the formation of the Con- 
federation of the Rhine under French direction, and fruitless nego- 
tiations for peace were entered into between the Emperor and England, 
during which it transpired that he had offered to yield up to the latter 
the kingdom of Hanover, though he had not long before added it to the 
Prussian dominions. 

The crooked policy of Prussia in the previous year had 
borne fruit at last. She had acquired Hanover by her 


diplomatic non-intervention, but this had involved her in a 
naval war with Great Britain, and her commerce had been 
swept from the seas. The national feeling against France 
was so strong that the Government was obliged to contem- 
plate the resumption of hostilities. Many things had led to 
this general feeling of irritation. The violation of Prussian 
territory in 1805, the insolent bearing of the Emperor towards 
the German States that did not belong to the new Confedera- 
tion of the Rhine, the very formation of that Confederation, 
had stung the pride of Prussia to the quick. Still she might 
even then have refrained from a warlike declaration had it 
not been for a rumour that France was contemplating the 
restoration of Hanover to England as the basis of future 
peace. To preserve Hanover she drew the sword, and 
Napoleon wrote on the occasion, " Prussia is at this day what 
she was in 1740, and what she has been at all times, without 
consistency and without honour." 

The time had been ill chosen by her. France was never 
more powerful, never better prepared. Her officers were 
experienced and skilful, her soldiers inured to warfare, her 
organisation and tactics the best in Europe. Prussia, on the 
other hand, possessed good but untried troops, antiquated 
generals whose experience was that of former times, finances 
impoverished, fortresses unprepared and ill provisioned, while 
divided councils reigned among her leaders. 

She contracted alliances, however, with England and Russia 
—an insufficient measure, seeing that the Emperor was almost 
at her gates with 200,000 men— and thus was formed the 
fourth coalition against France, the first campaign of the new 
war commencing on October 8, 1806. 

In a war between France and Germany the theatre is not 
easily determined. A French army might at that time invade 
Prussia either from the lower Rhine or from the Maine. The 
case is different now, owing to the existence of the. neutral 
kingdom of Belgium, and the Prussian territories on the left 
bank of the Rhine, while the extensive fortifications at the 
important points of passage are all obstacles to cross ; and 
though the sea remains open, the difficulties of a maritime 
expedition in sufficient force are simply enormous. 

In the centre of Germany is the Forest of Thuringia, form- 


ing a watershed between the Elbe and the Rhine. The 
rivers which flow from it into the lilrine are the Maine and 
the Lahn. Into the Elbe run the Mulda, Elster, Saale, Ilm, 
and Unstruth ; the Werra and Sulda uniting form the Weser, 
and flow into the German Ocean. The Elbe, the north-east 
boundary of the Forest of Thuringia, rises in Bohemia, and, 
cutting through the Erzegebirge, traverses the country extend- 
ing from Dresden to Hamburg. On the Elbe are Dresden, 
Torgau, Wittenburg, and Magdeburg, forming the principal 
line of defence for Prussia in 1806. 

From the Rhine three roads would cany an army to the 
Elbe above Magdeburg : — 

1. The main post-road via Frankfurt, Fulda, Eisenach, 
Gotha, and Erfurt. 

2. Frankfurt, Schweinfurt, Meiningen, Gotha — but the 
communications are indifferent. 

o. A system of roads which traverse the eastern portion of 
the Forest of Thuringia near its junction with the Erzege- 
birge, and which, uniting in the valley of the Saxon Saale, 
lead to Leipzig. 

After 1805, the Grand Army had remained in Southern 
Germany to watch Austria and the fulfilment of the treaty oi 
Fresburg, as well as to await the result of the impending Prus- 
sian complications. In its return it had been halted along the 
line of the Maine, where it subsisted by forced contributions. 

In addition to the Grand Army, numbering 140,000 in- 
fantry, 45,000 cavalry, and 15,000 artillery, were 26,000 
German allies under Lefebvre at Augsburg; Mayence vas 
held by Mortier with 20,000. Several corps were now called 
into the line of the Maine, and the general position on the 
3d October was as follows : — 


Bernadotte, . 

. 23,000 




. 33,000 . 



Soult, . 

. 41,000 



Larmes, . 




Ney, . . 







Murat (cavalry). 


Both banks of Maine. 

Guard, . 

9,( io( » . 


2i m LI H H I 


In 2d Line the German Allies, . . . . 26,000 

Mortier, 20,000 

Army of Holland, . . . 30,000 

Bavarian garrisons, . . . 15,000 


The line of the Maine was to be the point of concentration 
and immediate base of future operations, so that fortified 
posts were established at Mayence, Wiirzburg, and Kronach. 
A second line of communications existed by Forchheim and 
Strassburg. The Maine was selected as a starting-point for 
the following reasons. 

Three districts presented themselves for concentration and 
as a base of supply : — 

1. River Rhine, .... Coblenz to WeseL 

2. Maine-Rhine. . . . Wiirzburg to Lahn. 

3. Upper Maine, . . . Wiirzburg to Bayreuth. 

In the first case the country was open ; the Elbe reached 
between Magdeburg and Hamburg en route to Berlin ; but 
the objections to it were the long march the army must 
make to get there, and the formidable character of the rivers 
to be crossed in face of an enemy. The Weser, Aller, and 
Elbe might cause unnecessary delay. 

In the second case there was a good road, the most direct to 
Berlin ; but it was rejected as being a single line of com- 
munication, and because, being most direct, the principal 
resistance might reasonably be expected to be concentrated 

on it. 

The third case seemed more favourable. The Prussian 
Hank might be turned, and the communications were three 
in number, namely — 

1. Bayreuth to Hof. 

2. Kronach to Schleitx. 

3. Coburg to Saalfeld. 

There were further advantages too. The material obstacles 
were inconsiderable; direct collision might be avoided if the 
enemy's flank were turned ; and fresh Prussian dispositions 
would be necessitated. Saxony was ill disposed towards 
Prussia, and' might be .separated from her. 


The passage of Saale would be avoided, and lastly the Elbe 
would be reached at a favourable point, where its breadth 
was less, and the communications of the enemy would be at 
once endangered. 

The Prussian army was of doubtful quality. It had not 
been at war for eleven years, and had, with young inexperi- 
enced soldiers, old officers. Its entire strength was 180,000 
men, but of these 58,000 remained in garrison, reducing the 
field effective to 122,000. 

The supreme command was vested in the Duke of Bruns- 
wick, seventy-two years old. The first army consisted of five 
divisions. The first three, those of the Prince of Orange, War- 
tensleben, and Schmettau (with Eiichel commanding 18,000 
Westphalians detached), were under Mollendorf, an octogen- 
arian; the remaining two, those of Kunheim and Von Armin, 
under Kalkreuth : in all, numbering 58,000 men. 

Prince Hohenlohe commanded the second army, of 40,000, 
principally Saxons. 

The advanced-guard, 10,000 strong, at Erfurt and Weimar 
Gotha, had been given to the Duke of Weimar. 

The reserve under Eugene of Wtirtemberg amounted to 
14,000 combatants ; thus giving as a grand total, 28,500 
cavalry, 90,000 infantry, and 3500 artillery, of which 
Buchel's Westphalians formed the right, the first army the 
centre, and the second the left. 

Viewing this numerical inferiority of Prussia, the circum- 
stances were such as to impose a defensive attitude on her 
armies behind the Elbe. Her general line, and the river 
itself, could only be completely turned through Bohemia. 
■ Her Prussian allies were yet far distant, and possibly the 
safest course to pursue would have been to withdraw the 
armies behind the Oder, leaving strong garrisons in all the 
fortresses, and thus approaching the advancing columns of the 
Eussians. But the Prussians did not see it in this light, 
considering themselves superior to the French, and hence 
offensive operations were determined on, and undertaken. 
The armies were thus posted : — 

Eiichel, at Miihlhausen ; Brunswick, at Magdeburg to Wit- 
teuburg ; Weimar, on the Saale ; Hohenlohe, from Torgau to 


Dresden, with his advanced - guard at Hof ; Wiirtemberg 
behind Magdeburg ; Blucher in Westphalia. In this position 
a council of war was held at Erfurt. Meanwhile the 
Emperor had decided on taking the initiative, and made the 
following dispositions. 

Eight. — Soult, with 4th corps from Bayreuth to Hof, 
followed by Ney with 6th corps at half-a-day's inarch 

Centre. — Murat, with cavalry, from Kronach to Saalburg, 
and, on emerging from the forest, to extend reconnoitring to 
the right and left and procuring supplies ; Bernadotte, with 
1st corps to support Murat, followed by Davoust with 3d' 
corps from Bamburg at the same interval. 

In rear of this column marched Napoleon with the Guard. 

Left. — Lannes, with 5th corps from Coburg to Saalfeld, 
followed by Augereau with the 7th corps. The former was 
ordered to diverge towards Meiningen, and then to counter- 
march in the original direction. 

Napoleon left Paris, 24th September, reaching Wurzburg, 
October 3d. 

On the Prussian side there was much diversity of opinion 
as to the plan to be adopted. Hohenlohe preferred falling on 
the right of the French at Bayreuth, and rolling them up 
from right to left; Brunswick reinforcing him through the 
defiles. Brunswick suggested marching via Fulda on the 
Maine, to sever the line and defeat the fractions of Napoleon's 
army, similar to the plan of the campaign of 1796 and 1800. 
A compromise was therefore effected, and a double line 
agreed to; but this false strategy was disturbed by Napoleon's 
arrival at Wurzburg, and in farther council on the 5th and 
6th October, it was agreed to concentrate at the sources of the 
Ilm, and if advisable to march on Wurzburg by Meiningen, 
the right under Biichel, the left under Tauenzein. The day 
fixed for concentration at Meiningen was the 12th October. 

Hohenlohe's army was already on the march according to 
the previous dispositions, and countermarching and confusion 
followed this change of plan, which was further anticipated 
by Napoleon's forward movement. 

The Prussians received intimation of the French concen- 


tration at Bamberg on the 7th, and Weimar reconnoitred to- 
wards Neustadt. 

On the 1st October, the King's ultimatum had been re- 
mitted to the Emperor. By it he was to evacuate Germany, 
restore Wesel to Prussia, and return an answer to these de- 
mands before the 8th, at the royal headquarters. 

Napoleon's proclamation quickly followed; a stirring address 
to his army preceded his advance on the 8th October, before 
which Brunswick retreated. 

Hohenlohe was called to the left bank of the Saale; the 
centre to Hochdorff ; the right to Gotha ; the reserve to 
Halle; and Weimar was directed to cross the Maine as a 

The French advance continued. Soult, on the 9th, reached 
Hof, which was evacuated by Tauenzein, who had retired to 
Schleitz and Plauen on the 10th, where, finding his right 
clear, he bent off to Gera, reachiug it on the 12th, by the right 
bank of the Elster. Ney had previously left Soult's track, 
marching for Auma, where he arrived on the 12th. The left 
of the Prussians was thus already turned, and the communi- 
cations with Berlin interrupted, except by Naumburg. 

Murat and Bernadotte left Kronach on the 8th, and pass- 
ing the forest, reached the Saale at Saalburg, which was found 
to be occupied by Tauenzein's advanced-guard, which with- 
drew to Schleitz by night. On the 9th, Bernadotte attacked 
him, and Tauenzien, outflanked, retired upon Auma with the 
sacrifice of his rear-guard. The loss of the Prussians was 
500 killed and wounded, 30 prisoners, and 2 guns. Marching 
continuously he rejoined Hohenlohe at Triplitz, on the 10th, 
still delaying to comply with the Duke of Brunswick's orders. 

Bernadotte gained Auma on the 10th ; Murat reached Gera 
on the 11th, capturing 500 carriages, and the pontoon train 
of Hohenlohe's army, which was marching across his front ; 
Bernadotte followed upon Gera ; Davoust obliqued left to 
Mittal Polnitz ; Napoleon with the Guard was at Auma on 
the 11th. He recognised the character of the enemy's march, 
and, presuming he purposed cencentrating at Gera, made his 
dispositions accordingly, feeling his way carefully. 

Lannes marched on the 8th for Hildburghausen, his object 


being to divert the Prussians' attention to their right, but 
countermarched after some hours by Coburg and Grafenthal, 
being thus echeloned behind the centre and right. On the 
loth, Lannes emerged from the forest at Saalfeld, at the 
junction of the Schwarza and Saale, and of the roads from Gera 
and Jena to Coburg. This point was held by Prince Louis 
of Prussia with 8000 men, forming the right of Hohenlohe's 

Hohenlohe orderd him to stand fast so as to gain time, but 
the Prince, thus exposed, was defeated and killed, the Prussian 
loss being 1200 killed and wounded, 1800 prisoners, 4 colours, 
33 guns, and a quantity of baggage. 

Lannes pushed on to Neustadt, reaching it on the 11th. 
Augereau following Lannes to Saalfeld, then obliqued to 
his left along the Saale. 

The French had thus in three days concentrated north of 
the forest between the Saale and Elster, having gained two 
important actions. 

Brunswick had summoned Hohenlohe peremptorily to the 
left bank of the Saale, and he obeyed, reaching Jena by Kahla 
and Roda on the 11th October ; Weimar was recalled ; Riichel 
directed to Erfurt ; while Hohenlohe, facing south, was left at 

Anxious lest the fate which had befallen Mack in the 
previous year might be his also, he waited, however, for 
Weimar, thus losing an important hour. Riichel had been 
left behind to hold out a hand to him, and the retreat com- 
menced, the Prussian line now extending to Halle. 

Hohenlohe arrived in great disorder, carrying demoralisation 
with him; but order was at length restored, and the camp 
formed at Capellendorff on the 12th October. 

Napoleon found to his surprise the road open. He had 
lost touch of the enemy,* and knowing the Prussians to be 
westward, he effected a change of front, pivoting on the centre. 
In order to do this rapidly, he transposed the original order. 
Bernadotte and Davoust had become the right (being in 
advance of Gera), Soult and Ney the centre, halting for the 

Compare 1800 and 1849. 


The orders for the alteration were issued on the 12th. 
Murat pushed on to Naumburg towards the Leipzig road; 
Davoust to Naumburg ; Bernadotte to Zeitz, on the Leipzig 
road; Lannes from Neustadt to Jena, to cross and patrol 
towards Weimar ; Augereau to cross the Saale at Kohlen, to 
patrol on the left bank and communicate with Lannes ; head- 
quarters at Gera, where Napoleon was joined by Lefebvre, 
who having organised the German contingent, now took 
command of the Guard. 

Murat meanwhile reached the gates of Leipzig, and Davoust 
and Bernadotte Naumburg and Zeitz, without, however, gain- 
ing important information ; but Lannes, crossing the Saale at 
Winzerlee and marching down the left bank for Jena, reached 
Landgrafenburg on the 13th, seized the heights, and from its 
eminence discovered Hohenlohe's army drawn up in three 
lines, as well as other forces on the line of march. Recognis- 
ing the importance of this fact, he sent information, which 
reached the Emperor at Gera about noon on the 13th, who there- 
upon started for Jena with Soult and part of the 4th corps, 
Ney being ordered to Eoda, and the Guard to follow to Jena. 
Davoust and Bernadotte were to concentrate at Naumburg to 
hold that passage, and possibly to co-operate against the left 
of the enemy should he line the Saale. 

The Emperor reached Landgrafenburg at 4 p.m., and, con- 
cluding that the entire Prussian forces were before him, deter- 
mined to give battle. 

The Saale, though fordable in places, runs in a deep gorge 
below Jena. On the left bank are steep wooded heights, 
while between Jena and Naumburg are only three bridges 
— viz., Lobstadt, Dornburg, and Camburg. The Prussians 
might have held the line of the Saale advantageously. It 
would have been true strategy to do so, but it was already 
turned by Lannes and Augereau, and the tactical points were 
not occupied. 

Napoleon utilised his adversary's error. Lannes's position 
was strengthened during the night of the 13th by all means 
at his disposal ; communications were improved, sappers were 
at work all night, preparing for the transport of the artillery, 
and Napoleon bivouacked in the square formed by the Guard. 


Separated only from Tauenzein by a slight ridge of ground, 
in position on a very contracted space, and numbering only 
20,000 men, the French on the 13th were in a very pre- 
carious position. 

On the evening of that day, all the troops had been directed 
on Jena; Murat was also recalled; Augereau reached the 
Galgenberg, which commanded the road to Weimar ; Lannes 
and the Guard were at Landgrafenburg ; Soult and Ney at 
Jena and Koda and on the roads to Dornburg ; Davoust and 
Bernadotte near Naumburg ; Murat was moving by Zeitz on 
Dornburg when recalled. 

Hohenlohe had been quite unable to fathom the meaning 
and intention of Napoleon's movements. He still laboured 
under the impression that he was confronted solely by the 
corps of Lannes and Augereau, instead of the bulk of the 
French army. He did not think it necessary to dispossess the 
French of their commanding position on the Landgrafenburg, 
and had but slightly reinforced his left, while his main body 
still faced the point from which he thought the blow would 
come — that is, along the left bank of the river from Saalfeld. 

At Jena, therefore, the Prussians were outnumbered in the 
proportion of two to one; but on the other hand Davoust, who 
had been directed both to bar the way to Kosen, and, crossing 
the Saale there, to move by Apolda on the Prussian rear, was, 
owing to the false impression of the Emperor that in front of 
him lay the entire Prussian army, exposed to not inconsider- 
able danger, for barring his way was the army under Bruns- 
wick, which in its turn outnumbered the single corps that was 
moving towards the field of Jena on this side. It is true that 
Bernadotte had been directed to march with him if the de- 
spatch sent by Napoleon to Davoust ordering the movement 
reached the two marshals when in communication ; but the 
Prince of Ponte Corvo, obeying the previous order to move on 
Dornburg, marched thither on the 14th. 

The 14th saw the two victories of Jena and Auerstadt won. 
At the latter, Davoust, in a most brilliant action, defeated 
Brunswick, who, in retiring on Weimar to effect a junction 
with Hohenlohe, ignorant of what had occurred at Jena, was 
met by the corps of Bernadotte at Apolda, and his retreat con- 



verted into headlong rout. At Jena, also, the Emperor had 
gained a complete success ; and the night after the battle was 
spent in directing a vigorous pursuit, which might prevent 
the shattered columns from rallying, and also result in the 
possession of the line of the Elbe before such a defence could 
be organised as might render the passage of that river difficult. 

The movements on the 14th and following days were as follows : — 

Bernadotte by Halle (where the Prussian reserve under Wurtemberg 
was attacked and then retreated on Dessau), towards Magdeburg, crossing 
the Elbe at Barby on the 20th ; Davoust on Naumburg where he rested till 
the 17th, as also did the corps of Lannes,the Guard, Augereau, and Ney, 
near Weimar. Up to this date the pursuit had been conducted by Murat 
on Erfurt and Weisensee, Soult on Buttelstedt with Bernadotte ; but on 
this day, Ney, following Murat, joined Soult at Magdeburg, which was 
besieged. Lannes and Augereau moved on Merseburg by Naumburg, 
Davoust by Leipzig on Wittenburg, the bridge at which place was seized 
on the 20th. Lannes and Augereau crossed the Elbe at Dessau, and thus 
the line of that river was now in French hands. During these operations 
the Duke of Weimar's corps had on the 15th, at Erfurt, hearing of the 
defeat of the main army, retreated by the Brunswick road, crossing the 
Elbe at Landau on the 20th, when General Winning took over the com- 
mand, and retiring thence by Kyritz on Mecklenburg, reached Waren on 
the 30th, where it was joined by Blucher with the relics of Hohenlohe's 
cavalry. The tatter's force, to which Blucher had at first acted as rear- 
guard, had retreated from Magdeburg on the 21st, making for the Oder, 
as Hohenlohe despaired of forming a junction with Weimar ; and mov- 
ing by Batenow, Bupin, Fiirstenburg to Prentzlow, he was finally com- 
pelled to capitulate to Murat on the 28th. Blucher, who had assumed 
the command of the force under General Winning, was hotly pursued 
from Waren to Schwerin, Gadebusch, and Liibeck, where he was again 
attacked, and then, hemmed hi against the Danish frontier at Batkau, 
he surrendered to Murat on the 7th November. 

The entire Prussian army had been slain or taken prisoners. 

The corps of Murat and Lannes had been pursuing Hohenlohe, Soult 
had followed Weimar, and Bernadotte had followed Blucher ; thus the 
latter had in the end been pressed in rear by Bernadotte, whilst his flanks 
were constantly threatened by Murat and Soult. 

The fortresses were also one by one surrendering. Berlin was entered 
and Spandau surprised on the 25th October : Stettin capitulated on the 
29th ; Custrin on the 31st. On the 8th November Magdeburg fell to 
Ney ; Hameln to King Louis of Holland, on the 27th ; Nieuburg on the 
25th ; and the minor places on the Weser soon followed. 

The whole of the Prussian fortresses had capitulated to the French. 

This campaign is but the prelude to that of 1807, which is next ex- 
amined. It will be unnecessary further to criticise in detail the general 
plan of operations and its execution. The comments made by Colonel 

CAMPAIGN OF 1806-1807: PULTUSK, ETC. 131 

Hamley in the 'Operations of War' are of the greatest value, and an 
examination of the opinions so clearly expressed there will fully explain 
the salient strategical features of the campaign up to this time. 

The first phase, the destruction of the Prussian portion of the allied 
armies, is complete ; but it yet remains to investigate the continuation 
of this campaign, which involved the defeat of the other and equally 
important fraction. 

Second Phase : Pultusk, etc. 

Napoleon's successes in Prussia enabled him to extend his 
operations to the Vistula, and thus deprive the King of 
Prussia of those resources which, during the winter, he would 
have drawn from the country between the Oder and that 
river, and also from Silesia. 

The political alliances of Prussia were far from satisfac- 
tory. Sweden was insufficient in force to be of much value 
in the forthcoming operations. Any forces that might be 
sent by England were not to be expected before the spring. 
Austria was at present inactive after her recent reverses. 
Kussia's purpose was solely to obtain for Prussia a tolerable 
peace, she having in the interim engaged in war with Turkey, 
and entered the Principalities with 80,000 men. Meanwhile 
Napoleon had entered Berlin in triumph. His occupation of 
the Prussian capital had been followed by an increased expres- 
sion of hostility to England. Unable to meet her on the sea, 
he endeavoured to cripple her commerce on the Continent; and 
when, by an order in council, the entire coast of France was 
declared to be in a state of blockade, the conqueror of Jena 
issued a decree by which all English goods were prohibited 
to be sold in the countries over which he held sway, and other 
arbitrary measures were taken with a view of checking the 
rising prosperity and success of the British nation. He had 
replied to the paper blockade of England by a Continental 
blockade, laying an embargo on everything that appertained 
to her. But the scheme was ineffective. Smuggling prevailed 
to an enormous extent. And his effort to check the develop- 
ment of her commerce by land was as ineffectual as her 
attempts to destroy French trade by sea were successful. 


In his new war with Eussia the political element largely 
entered. An advance through North Germany into her terri- 
tories would leave his right flank exposed to the action of 
enemies only too anxious to turn against him. Thus he con- 
templated utilising Poland against Eussia, making overtures 
to Kosciusko regarding the re-establishment of the Polish 
kingdom ; but in this he failed. Next, turning to Saxony, he 
admitted her Elector to the new Ehenish Confederation, con- 
verting his electorate into a kingdom. This was at least one 
obstacle interposed between his late enemy Austria, even now 
engaged in busily remodelling her army, and his proposed line 
of advance. But it was not enough. Fruitless efforts were 
made to gain the Austrian alliance by the offer of the Silesian 
province in exchange for Galicia; and then, as a last re- 
source, he endeavoured to cultivate the assistance of Turkey 
by embroiling her with Eussia, and was so far successful that, 
thanks to the injudicious action taken by the latter in inter- 
fering with regard to the banished Hospodars of Moldavia 
and Wallachia, the Sultan, irritated at the arbitrary conduct 
of his ancient adversary, threw his weight into the French 
balance. Thus the Emperor Alexander was compelled to 
weaken his main army by 80,000 men, which, under General 
Michelson, had crossed the Dniester into Moldavia. 

The King of Prussia had retreated to Konigsberg after the 
occupation of his kingdom and the entry of Napoleon into 
Berlin on the 25th October, and the Emperor demanded as a 
preliminary to peace the possession of the line of the Vistula 
and of the Silesian fortresses. The defeat of Eussia was 
essential to his supremacy in Europe, and feeling this, his 
natural anxiety to secure his lines of communication by 
Mayence, Wiirzburg, Erfurt, Wittenburg, and Spandau with 
France, led him to take the measures before referred to, so 
as to prevent the danger of interruption to them by a blow 
from the States that, secretly or openly hostile to him, lay on 
the right flank of an advance into Eussia — that is, towards 
the south of Europe. There was still Sweden at war with 
him on his other flank, though her action would be ineffective 
until the naval powers were fully prepared to co-operate. 
But continued success had increased his daring, and he 

CAMPAIGN OF 1806-1807: HJLTUSK, ETC. 133 

prepared, therefore, once more to take the initiative, and carry 
the war into the enemy's territory. Large armies would there- 
fore be required, and the conscription of 1807 was levied. 
The reserves were assembled on the Khine, and at Boulogne. 
The 8th corps, under Mortier, which had been employed in 
Hanover, was to secure his left flank, and operate against 
the Swedes on the shores of the Baltic. Detachments were 
organised and forwarded from the Bhine to the Oder to fill 
up the gaps occasioned by his previous campaign, and the 
depots were stocked with material, the great cavalry depot at 
Potsdam being placed under Bourcier. The great necessity 
for cavalry on the plains of Poland was evident, and while 
men were forwarded from Italy, horses to mount them were 
largely purchased in Germany. 

Thus the Grand Army, including reinforcements and aux- 
iliaries, now numbered 300,000 men. Turning to his adver- 
saries, we find that the 1st corps of Russians, 60,000 strong, 
under Beningsen, crossed the Niemen, advancing to the Vis- 
tula on November 1st; the 2d, under Buxhowden, 38,000 
strong, followed ; while the reserve remained with General 
Essen, organising. The Prussian Court was still at Konigs- 
berg, and the wreck of the army under L'Estocq, numbering 
25,000 men, was on the Vistula, based on Graudenz and 
Dantzig. The total available forces, therefore, were 120,000 
men, under the supreme command of the Paissian octogen- 
arian, General Kamenski. 

The early French movements were as follows : Davoust, to 
Custrin and Posen; Augereau,to Custrin and Landsberg on the 
Netze ; Lannes, from Stettin to Stargard and Schneidmiihl ; 
Murat returned from Liibeck to Posen; Jerome, with the 
German auxiliaries, was to reduce the Silesian fortresses, 
and to occupy Kalisch. 

Thus the first line under Murat consisted of 80,000 men. 
In addition to this, Soult and Bernadotte from Liibeck, Ney 
from Magdeburg, the Imperial Guard and the reserve 
cavalry — in all, 80,000 men — were to concentrate at Berlin, 
and to follow the 1st division to the Vistula. 

The character of the country between the Oder and Vistula 
requires careful examination. Taking its rise in the Sudetes 


Alps, the former river has generally a north-westerly direc- 
tion, running by a wide estuary into the Baltic. The principal 
points of passage, occupied usually by fortified towns, are 
Eatisbon, Breslau, Glogau, Frankfurt, Custrin, and Stettin. At 
Custrin it receives the Wartha, which takes its rise in the 
northern slopes of the Carpathians, runs north through Kolo, 
passing near Kalisch, west to Szrem, north again through Posen, 
beyond which, bending west, it unites with the Netze to join 
the Oder at Custrin. The Vistula also has its sources in the 
Carpathians, running generally north through Cracow, Warsaw, 
Modlin, Plock, Thorn, and Graudenz, entering the Baltic at 
Dantzig, which is a fortress of the first class. A short dis- 
tance above Warsaw it receives on its left bank the Pilica, 
which rises near the sources of the Wartha, and at Modlin is 
joined on the right bank by the Bug, forming the eastern 
boundary of Poland, an affluent of which is the Narew, which, 
rising near the sources of the Pregel, runs south into the Bug 
through Pultusk. The northern district between the Vistula 
and Oder is Pomerania, bordering on the sea ; the central that 
of Posen ; and the southern, Silesia and part of Poland, touch- 
ing therefore the Austrian frontier. 

The area between these river -basins was in its northern 
part sterile and unfertile, with few good roads except the 
main arteries of communication between Kussia, Poland, and 
the west. The temper of the Poles was, as might be imagined 
after the violent and unjustifiable partition of their country 
by two of the Powers engaging in hostilities on their frontier, 
far more favourable to the French than to their adversaries. 
The entry of Murat into Moscow partook of the nature of a 
triumph, and hopes were even entertained that the indepen- 
dence of the kingdom might be restored, with the Grand Duke 
of Berg as king. Though this was refused, the ancient nobility 
of Warsaw received from the Emperor marked attention. 

On the 16th Lannes and Augereau were directed to march 
on Nackel and Bromberg ; Davoust on Warsaw by Sempolno, 
Kutno, Blonie. The Russians occupied Warsaw only with 
their advance, and had during their occupation destroyed all 
stores and shipping that might be useful to the enemy. Lannes, 
leaving Bromberg, filing before Thorn, moved by Inowraclaw, 

CAMPAIGN OF 1806-1807: PULTUSK, ETC. 135 

Bresesc, and Kowal on Warsaw, followed by Augereau, 
having vainly endeavoured to obtain possession of Thorn. 

Napoleon remained in Berlin until the last days of Novem- 
ber, and then started for Posen. 

The advance of the second French division at once ensued, 
and Ney was ordered to Thorn, when, after a skirmish, the 
passage of the Vistula was effected, notwithstanding the 
difficulties presented by the volume of water and the bad 
weather, the river being covered with floating ice. The Rus- 
sians thereupon abandoned Praga, retiring upon the Narew. 

Davoust, crossing the Vistula, pushed on to Jablona, and 
Lannes replaced him at Warsaw. Augereau established 
himself opposite Modlin, while Thorn was seized by Ney ; but 
there is some difference as to these operations between the 
French and Prussian accounts. Napoleon was now master of 
the Vistula, and of the fortifications on the river, which lay 
in the line of his advance between the Vistula and Pregel. 
The latter river rises in the lakes and swamps of east Prussia, 
running west into the sea at Konigsberg, a badly-fortified 
town ; and receiving at Gumbinnen a small tributary, the Alle, 
draining the wide swampy lakes of Lowentin and Spirding. 
Between it and the Vistula is a small stream, the Passarge, 
running into the Frische Haff, a vast lagoon extending from 
the Vistula to the Pregel parallel to the Baltic coast. 

Between these four rivers, the Vistula, Narew, Alle, and 
Pregel, lies the theatre of war, which, despite the lakes and 
the tributary streamlets of the Passarge, is sandy, sterile, and 
infertile. The basin of the latter river is occupied by an 
industrious population, and is well cultivated by a race of 
German descent; but the southern area is poor, densely wooded, 
and thinly populated by people of the Sclavic race. The 
roads were infamously bad, the climate intensely severe ; and 
thus, while the Russo-Prussian armies abounded with supplies 
based on Dantzig, Konigsberg, and the sea, the French forces 
were in want, privation, and distress. 

In the Russian army at this period, the time of service was 
twenty-five years for conscripts, and for volunteers fifteen. 
The men were small and thickset, but a brave and hardy race. 
The officers inactive, uneducated, and ignorant, were obliged 


to avail themselves of the service of foreigners, who were the 
cream of the service. Thus the staff, engineers, &c, were on 
bad terms with the native officers. Severe discipline was en- 
forced when on duty ; but, off duty, excesses of every kind were 
common, owing to the indifferent commissariat arrangements 
of the army. 

One of the principal evils was the enormous mass of servants 
and retainers, 200 per regiment, who accompanied the force. 
Hospitals were equally bad. The Cossacks, the principal 
light cavalry of Eussia, had little manoeuvring power. The 
tactics of the infantry were exclusively confined to bayonet 
attacks, and the use of ground was unknown, as also the art of 
posting troops properly. The organisation was absolutely 
bad, and the proper proportion of the arms, the one to the 
other, neglected ; and this or that arm was constantly borrowed 
from several divisions, never to return to them. Seldom, conse- 
quently, were the leaders able to avail themselves of the advan- 
tages gained by the bravery of their troops. With the French 
the condition of affairs was very different. There, skill and 
regularity reigned. Posen was made a grand depot, together 
with Kalisch, Kowal, and Bromberg. A topographical staff 
was attached to each corps, to sketch roughly the country and 
roads on both' sides of the line of march, the plans furnished 
by which were sent in daily to headquarters. Jerome was 
detached on December 3d with the Bavarians (under Wrede), 
to Breslau, and Devay to Kalisch. 

Beningsen meanwhile ordered L'Estocq to fall back from 
the Vistula, removing his own headquarters to Pultusk, where 
the King soon repaired and placed Beningsen definitely in 
command of the Prussians, L'Estocq having demurred to aban- 
doning the line of Vistula. 

Davoust occupied Praga December 2, the passage of his 
corps being completed on the 8th, while Ney had finished his 
at Thorn by the 11th. 

The Ptussians were concentrating at the same date at Ostro- 
lenka and Nowogrod. Napoleon being now in complete 
possession of the line of the Vistula determined to strengthen 
his left — with the view of separating the Prussians from their 
allies — and to open up the country as far as Wittenburg and 

CAMPAIGN OF 1806-1807: PULTUSK, ETC. 137 

Pultusk. He despatched Bernadotte and Bessieres (in com- 
mand of the cavalry) to Thorn, to support Ney ; Bernadotte, 
in command of the left wing, concentrating at Thorn by 
December 20. 

But Beningsen had formed the determination to regain the 
line of the Vistula, and the Prussians in Strassburg were con- 
sequently ordered to retake Thorn ; but Ney was already too 
strong there, and the attempt was abandoned. 

At this juncture the Prussian position was — 

Right— Eylau, Bischofswerder, Neumark, Kauernich ; 

Centre — Strassburg, Gurzno ; 

Left — Lipno, Sierps, Diericke, Soldau ; 

their object being to cover Konigsberg, and maintain com- 
munication with Graudenz and Dantzig on one side, and the 
Eussians on the other. But the line was too extended — the 
attempt to effect, too much apparent. L'Estocq, with the 
centre and left, retired to Biezun, expecting to be attacked with 
superior forces, a flying column being left at Bischofswerder 
on December 13-14 The Eussians reached Pultusk again, 
December 8, and halted till the 10th in position on the Ukra 
and Narew, covered by these rivers. 

The reasons for the readvauce of the Eussians assigned by 
Beningsen were, the importance of his union with Buxhow- 
den, and the non- pursuit of the French after gaining the 
Vistula ; but the union was not effected. 

The reasons presumed by the Prussians, however, were, 
that the Eussian marshal had not yet arrived, and Bening- 
sen, unwilling to place himself under his senior, Buxhowden, 
had advanced in order still to retain command. Buxhowden 
crossed the Prussian frontier, December 6, and reached Masia- 
wieckz, on the 9th, 70 miles from Pultusk. 

Davoust crossed the Narew at Okwein, December 10, occupy- 
ing the right bank of the Ukra as far as Pomiechowo, and 
eventually Modlin. A tete de pont was constructed by the 
12th, and the bridge by the 22d December. 

The opportunity of attacking the French on the 12th was 
missed by Beningsen owing to the vacillation and inactivity 
of the Eussians. Thus the fortifications were continued on 


the Vistula and Narew by the French unopposed, and Soult 
was pushed up to the former stream at "Wroklawek, crossing 
at Plock and Dobrzyskow on the 23d. Augereau crossed at 
Lakroczyou by the 20th December, the bridge being finished 
on the 23d. Napoleon and the Guard left Posen on December 
16, and reached Warsaw, the former the 19th, and the latter 
the 23d December. 

Beningsen had again abandoned offensive movements and 
decided upon assuming a central position at Pultusk, with a 
view to defend the line of the Ukra. On the 18th December 
his troops were disposed along this line from Kolozomb to the 
confluence of the Ukra with the Narew. Noveniiasto and 
Nasielsk were occupied in second line, and Pultusk in third 
line, which was to be the general point of assembly for retreat. 

Buxhowden, on the 18th, reached Ostrolenka with three 
divisions, one being left on the Bug, too far back for sup- 
port. Kamenski, joining on December 21st, drove Bening- 
sen forward to Novemiasto, ordered up Buxhowden, and was 
about to attack the French when they anticipated him. Na- 
poleon's object was simply to obtain undisturbed winter quar- 
ters. The Piussians were too near for safety, and it was neces- 
sary to drive them behind the Omuleff. 

The Ukra was therefore reconnoitred; an island at the 
mouth seized by Davoust, and connected with the right bank 
by a bridge. Batteries were then established, and preparations 
for further passage commenced. 

Napoleon reached Okunin on December 23, and Osterman 
prepared to dispute the passage ; but it was forced at Czar- 
nowo, Kolozomb, and Sochozyn, and the Russians retired on 
Nasielsk and Pultusk. 

The further advance of the French brought on the battles 
of Pultusk and Golymin on the 26th : the former between 
Lannes with one division (Gudin's) of Davoust, and Bening- 
sen, resulting in the defeat of the Prussians; and the latter 
between Davoust and Augereau, and detachments from the 
corps of Sacken, Gallitzin, and Doctorow. 

Thus the extreme right of the general French line met with 
some opposition in mastering the line of the Ukra and Narew ; 


but, in the centre, Soult had reached Ciechanow, and Berna- 
dotte Biezun unopposed — though Bessieres, covering the ad- 
vance with the second cavalry reserve, had captured some 
Prussian prisoners near the latter place. 

On the extreme left Ney had advanced from Strassburg on 
Soldau (26th), and Mlawa, pushing back the Prussian corps 
under L'Estocq ; and engaging them at Soldau on the 26th, 
fought an obstinate battle. 

Thus Napoleon's plan to drive the enemy back from the 
Ukra on the Narew, and separate them from the rich countries 
on the seaboard of Old Prussia, had been successful. 

The Eussian armies had been commanded by Beningsen, 
with Osterman, Sacken, Gallitzin, and Sedmaratski as subor- 
dinates; and Buxhowden, with Totschakow, Doctorow, Sac- 
ken, and Aurepp. 

Meanwhile the Prussians had been at Biezun on the 23d, 
and Soldau on the 26th, retreating, after the action there, 
to Neidenberg, reaching Ortelsberg 28th and 29th, Bhems- 
wein 30th, Landsberg 31st, Eastenberg on the 2d January 
1807, and Augenberg on the 3d, where they came into com- 
munication with the Eussians, having succeeded in carrying 
out their own retreat without becoming entangled in theirs. 

After these actions Buxhowden retired from his command, 
the Eussians withdrew behind the Pregel, and the French 
went into winter quarters. 

Note. — The distances from Warsaw to the most important 
points in the theatre up to this point are : to Pultusk, 30 
miles ; Thorn, 80 ; Ostrolenka, 55 ; Plock, 40 ; Dantzig, 120 ; 
and Konigsberg, 130 miles. 

Third Phase: Fiuedland, etc. 

The close of 1806 had seen the commencement of a winter of extreme 
severity. Sudden thaws, in which the wretched roads speedily hecame 
so impassable as to render it almost impossible to move the guns except 
with double and even triple teams, and with mud so deep that the soldiers 


sank to their knees in it, had alternated with severe frosts, and had 
increased the difficulties of campaigning to the utmost. Eepose was 
absolutely necessary for both armies : the French were accordingly 
placed in cantonments, between the Narew and Ukra ; and Napoleon, re- 
turning to "Warsaw, kept a brilliant court in the ancient Polish capital. 

In the Mediterranean the Russian fleet had harassed the French under 
Marmont by landing on the coast they held, and Ragusa had been also 
blockaded ; but these events exercised no influence on the great cam- 
paign that was preparing in the north. 

The French, in January 1807, occupied the following posi- 
tions : — 

4th corps (Soult) : the country about the Orezye and Sonna 
to the Ukra, the front covered by Lasalles's and Milhaud's 
cavalry, with Golymin as a rallying-point. The grand depots 
were at Plock; the minor ones at Sochozyn, Prznoni, and 

3d corps (Davoust) : on both sides of the Narew to the Bug ; 
headquarters and depots, Pultusk, covered by cavalry under 
Pecker, from Ostrolenka to Ostrow. 

5th corps (Lannes) : suburbs of Warsaw and Praga, and in 
the triangle between the Austrian frontier, ISTarew, Bug, and 
Vistula, at Sierock, Wyszkow, and Brock ; headquarters, War- 
saw; rallying-point, Sierock, where there was an intrenched 
camp ; depots at Warsaw and Sierock. 

7th corps (Augereau) : the district from Wyszogrod to the 
Ukra, and on the left bank of the Vistula along the Bzurra to 
Lowicz ; communication by Modlin ; rallying-point, Plonsk ; 
depots, Wyszogrod and Lowicz. 

1st corps (Bernadotte) : the country between Elbing and 
Osterode, thus threatening Konigsberg, attracting the atten- 
tion of the Russians, separating Konigsberg from Dantzig, and 
collecting stores for the benefit of the army in the richer pro- 
vinces of the north ; rallying-point, Osterode ; depots, Marien- 
werder; communications by the bridge at Graudenz : covered 
by his own light cavalry and the Division Lahne. 

6th corps (Ney, under Bernadotte) : the country about 
Neidenburg, Soldau, and Wittenburg; covered by Grouchy 's 
cavalry : rallying-point, Mlawa ; depots, Bromburg and Thorn ; 
heavy cavalry in rear of the infantry corps. 

Guard at Warsaw. 


Grenadiers (Oudinot), at Kalisch. 

All unnecessary provocation of the inhabitants of the occu- 
pied districts was strictly prohibited. 

The line so occupied extended from the Frische Haff along 
the Passarge and Omuleff, and from Ostrolenka by Ostrow 
to Brock on the Bug. Mortier blockaded Stralsund. The 
Bavarian contingent remained in Silesia ; and a 10th corps 
formed under Lefebvre, composed of Germans, Poles, and 
French, carried out the investment of Colberg and the siege 
of Dantzig. 

The objects to be attained by taking up these positions 
were — 

1. Pest and reorganisation of the army. 

2. Covering the blockade and sieges of the Vistula fort- 


3. Construction of a strong base of operation for the next 


4. Security of territory occupied should the enemy attack. 

5. Organisation of the military resources of Poland. 
During the whole winter these requirements were kept 

steadily in view. Tetes cle 2>ont were formed at every point 
of passage on the Vistula ; convoys of the most extensive kind 
were organised, and transported stores of all kinds from the 
Danube and the Pihine. Special attention was also directed 
to the formation of hospitals and ambulance trains. 

Stettin and Custrin, Glogau and Breslau, Brieg and Kosel, 
successively surrendered, and soon only Schweidnitz, Neisse, 
and Glatz in Silesia remained in Prussian hands. Vandamme 
was therefore sent to besiege these fortresses, and Brune 
watched the mouths of the Elbe and Weser to prevent a de- 
scent of the British troops. 

Meanwhile Ney had unadvisedly made an attempt on Kon- 
igsberg. He had without direct orders advanced his head- 
quarters from Neidenberg to Altenstein, and came into colli- 
sion with the Russian cavalry under Gallitzin. Receiving 
peremptory orders from the Emperor to withdraw, he fell back 
to his former position. 

The strength of the Russians united at Bialla on the 18th 
January was — 


7 divisions, 66,000 

1 division, (Goliorz), . . . 8,000 

1 „ (Essen), .... 18,000 

L'Estocq (Prussians), .... 13,000 


The French field force in Poland and Eussia amounted to 
140,000 men. The force that had checked Ney's advance was 
the advanced-guard of the Eussian army, which had resumed 
the offensive. Beningsen's plan was this : to march unper- 
ceived behind the lakes and surprise the French left, to make 
himself master of the Lower Vistula, communicate with Dant- 
zig, relieve Graudenz, take up winter quarters in East Prussia, 
await reinforcements from Eussia, then throw L'Estocq into 
Dantzig, and undertake a diversion on the left bank of the 
Vistula. The plan was good, provided the surprise and dis- 
traction of the left French wing were purposed; while the 
country was well adapted to conceal such a march. The con- 
dition of the army, however, had deteriorated, and was barely 
fit then for active exertion. 

The Eussian march was continued from Bialla on the 16th 
January to Ariss ; 17th and 18th to Ehein ; and on the 19th, 
76,000 Eussians and Prussians were concentrated opposite to 
Ney's scattered forces. 

Ney was therefore peremptorily recalled by Napoleon on 
the 18th ; but his imprudence had been in one sense fortunate, 
for Napoleon was ignorant of the Eussian movements, and 
the undesigned advance of Ney's corps had given him timely 
information of the march of the Eussians, who, on the 21st, 
occupied the line Bischofsheim-Heilsberg. An action occurred 
at Heilsberg on the 24th January, and the French retreated 
on the 25th to Mohrungen. 

January 20th. — Eussian headquarters at Eossel, and the 
Prussian at Drengfurth. 

22d. — Preparations were made to attack Heilsberg, Baden- 
stein, Schippenbeil. 

The direction of Thorn had been abandoned, owing to Ney's 
accidental but timely retreat. Ney retired in perfect order 
upon Neidenburg, warning Bernadotte and pointing out the 


value of the position of Osterode, and also reporting to the 

Beningsen halted on the 22d and 23d, and the Prussians 
reached Landsberg, the 23d ; Mehlsack, the 24th, on which 
day the Russians were at Heilsberg. Bernadotte's retreat 
terminated in concentration on the 24th at Osterode, Saalfeld, 
and Preussisch-Holland. 

The Russians were at Arensdorff on the 25th. The irre- 
sponsible action of the Prussian corps at this time is very 

Actions occurred at Liebstadt, on the Passarge, on the 24th ; 
and again at Mohrungen on the 25th. Bernadotte retreated 
to Liebemuhl. The Prussians advanced to Saalfeld, and the 
Russians to Liebemuhl and Allenstein on the 27th. The con- 
jectures of Beningsen as to the presence of the whole French 
army had been incorrect. He had failed to surprise Berna- 
dotte ; and after marching 70 miles in ten days, he halted for 
three more on the 28th, nominally on account of fatigue and 
want of food. 

The result of the manoeuvre so far was that the French left 
had effected a retreat with little loss at a time when the bridge 
at Thorn had been swept away by ice. The Prussians were 
now at Freystadt. The Russian right was at Eylau, the 
left at Allenstein, the centre at Mohrungen, and reserve at 

Bernadotte, ordered to cover Thorn, reached Strassburg on 
the 1st February. 

Napoleon received the first intelligence of the advance of 
the Russians in East Prussia on the 24th of January, by which 
time they might have gained great advantages over the French 
leit. Napoleon fancied it was only a response to Ney's 
raids, but still took wise precautions, and ordered Lefebvre to 
move on Thorn and occupy the left bank of the Lower Vis- 
tula, while at the same time he supplied Sierock and Pultusk, 
completing the works against Essen, and ordering up rein- 
forcements from Posen and Kalisch. On the 27th, Napoleon 
saw clearly the enemy's plan, and his cantonments were 
accordingly raised. The troops were supplied with four 
days' bread and as much biscuit as could be transported 



on carts, while the following dispositions were at once 

Soult to concentrate at Wittenburg ; Ney at Neidenburg 
and Hohenstein ; Augereau at Mlawa ; Davoust at Myszyniec ; 
Lannes (Savary) at Brock, on the Bug ; Murat's cavalry at 
Ortelsburg ; and Bernadotte was left behind to cover Thorn. 

The Emperor quitted Warsaw, January 30th. Thus on the 
31st of January French positions were as follows : — 

On the extreme left, 

Lefehvre, .... 


On his right, 



In the centre, 

Bernadotte (at Strasshurg), 


Ney, . 




Neidenburg, . 


Guard, . 



Cavalry reserve, 





Total, 135,000 

In four days the army had been thus concentrated towards 
Wittenburg, with a combatant superiority of 40,000 men for 
the offensive. Compare this with the indecision of the Eus- 
sian movements, during which some troops had marched 75 
miles. The French dispositions were admirably adapted to 
the events that had been reported. The rapid march on 
Wittenburg in superior force would, if concealed, oblige Ben- 
ingsen to retreat on Konigsberg or accept battle, and thus 
separate him from the Prussians, who would be left to retire 
on Dantzig. The communication with Warsaw was circu- 
itous and precarious ; Thorn, therefore, had to be specially 

The despatch to Bernadotte explaining the nature of the 
movement was intercepted by the Eussians, and importance 
was unduly attached to it by the French. The Eussians con- 
centrated at Jonkowo, and the French line advanced on Feb- 
ruary 1 st and 2d to Passenheim - Allenstein - Guttstadt. 
Napoleon made dispositions for battle on February 3d, and 
an action occurred at Bergfried on that date, his advance 
pushing forward on Jonkowo, February 4th. But the Eus- 
sians had retreated, ordering L'Estocq to join them at Arena- 


dorff ; and Napoleon, disappointed in not bringing matters to 
a crisis, pressed the rear-guard under Bagration on Wolfsdorff 
and Landsberg. 

Ney was detached, February 5th, to intercept the Rus- 
sians, and, should they stand, to operate towards their right. 
Davoust was pushed forward on the Alle, and Bernadotte was 
ordered to join him. The Prussians had left Freystadt for 
Deutsch-Eylau on the 2d of February, moving on the 3d for 
Osterode — 4th, Mohrungen — and 5th, Passarge. An action 
followed at Waltersdorf on the 5th. The Russians reached 
Landsberg on the 6th, fighting rear-guard actions at Hoff 
and Heilsberg, and arriving at Eylau on the 7th, on which 
date the battle of Preussisch-Eylau was begun by the stout 
rear-guard action fought by Bagration on the plateau of the 
Ziegelhof before the town, and which resulted in his falling 
back behind it. Meanwhile Ney had been marching on 
Kreuzburg to keep back the Prussians, and eventually, if 
necessary, to threaten Konigsberg ; and Davoust was at Barten- 
stein on this date: both were therefore urgently pressed to 
hasten towards the battle-field, in order that on the left and 
right flank respectively they might strengthen Napoleon's force 
at Eylau, at that moment numerically weaker than his adver- 
sary, and operate against both his flanks. 

If Beningsen failed in the amount of success to be expected 
from his rash measure, he at least derived the negative advan- 
tage of avoiding entire defeat ; but at Eylau he was brought 
to bay, and other reasons combined to make battle there a 
matter of necessity. It was the last point where he could 
stand to cover Konigsberg. The ground was well suited to 
the Russian troops ; and his object was to inflict such a blow 
on Napoleon as would check his further advance. Eylau was 
reached, February 7th, in the morning, and the army was 
formed in three lines between Schladitten and Serpallen. 

The terrible combat with Bagration's rear-guard was followed 
by the occupation of Eylau by the French ; but it was retaken 
by the Russians early on the morning of the 8th, and a half 
an hour later abandoned— when, according to 'Beningsen's 
Memoirs,' it was reoccupied by the French. The reasons 
assigned for thus abandoning the town are,— that retreat was 



a decoy to the French, inducing them to push into the more 
open ground beyond ; and the selection of a position in rear 
offered greater impediments to a correct appreciation of the 
Eussian dispositions than would have been the case had the 
village been retained. 

The Eussian army, according to Hoffner, numbered 58,000 ; 
but Thiers places them at 72,000, exclusive of the Prussians. 
The accounts as to the strength of the French army are equally 
confusing. Dumas says 68,000, including Davoust and Ney ; 
Thiers 54,000, exclusive of Ney ; and Hoffner 80,000, includ- 
ing him ; but apparently the chances before Davoust's arrival 
were equal. The Prussians, meanwhile, had reached Eossitten 
late on the 7th February, and received orders to move on to 
Preussisch-Eylau and Althoff, thus bringing about a rencontre 
with Ney, who was marching for Kreuzburg at Wackern. 
They reached Althoff at 1 p.m. on the 8th of February, 5500 
strong — thus making the allied total 63,500 men — and were 
at once directed on Kutschutten. 

The battle had commenced at daybreak, and Napoleon 
awaited the arrival of his detached corps. Davoust, march- 
ing by Molwitten, reached the battle at noon. At half-past 
7 he at once seized Althoff and Schladitten, but was ulti- 
mately expelled, and at 10 p.m the battle terminated without 
decisive result. 

But six days' fighting, frequent night - marches in a cold 
climate, fatigue, and want, had strained the Eussian army. 
On the night of the 9th February the disorder was general. 
Nevertheless offensive action was contemplated, particularly 
by Kamenski; but from Beningsens reports the army now 
only consisted of 30,000 men under arms. 

Under these circumstances, the arrival of Ney, and the 
fact that Napoleon had not employed his Guard, whilst 
there was not a Eussian battalion but what had been en- 
o-acred, was decisive ; and at midnight the retreat on Konigs- 
berg, covered by L'Estocq marching by Domnau and Friedland, 
was decided on. 

The French were not in a much better plight than the 
Eussians, but nevertheless Murat moved in pursuit on the 9th; 
and on the 10th of February the Eussians took up an in- 


trenched position before Konigsberg, their left resting on the 
Pregel ; while the Prussians were at Altenburg with a detach- 
ment in Friedland. The loss at Eylau had been greater in 
proportion than in any battle of modern times. According to 
Hoffner, the Eussians had 18,000 killed and wounded ; and 
the French somewhat more : — 

Dumas puts the French loss at 2000 killed, and 15,000 to 16,000 wounded. 
Pelet, „ 1800 „ 5000 „ 

Others, „ 1900 „ 5700 „ 

Thiers, „ 3000 „ 7000 

And the Prussians, according to some French accounts, had 
30,000 killed and wounded, though Thiers fixes the loss at 
26,000 only. 

Certainly some of the objects sought by Beningsen in ac- 
cepting battle had been attained in that of Eylau. The 
French were unable to pursue with any vigour ; and the state 
of the French army imposed a decided veto on further advance 
for a while. The extreme severity of the climate, the difficulty 
of subsistence, and Eussian obstinacy, were elements of opposi- 
tion too strong to be readily overcome. The balance of power, 
hitherto on Napoleon's side, was beginning to turn in another 

The French cavalry were in a bad state ; and, under these 
circumstances, the Emperor remained eight days in the neigh- 
bourhood of Eylau, to impress his victory on Europe — and 
then prepared to re-enter winter quarters. The retrograde 
march commenced on the 17th February: Murat and Ney, 
rear-guard ; Davoust, right ; Soult, centre ; Augereau, left ; and 
Bernadotte still on the Frische Haff. The army ascended the 
Alle, and then changed direction to Thorn, Marienwerder, and 
Elbing, thus abandoning Warsaw — for the Emperor recognised 
the difficulty of holding a line so extended with Dantzig in 
his rear. The care of Warsaw was committed to the 3d corps, 
comprising the Bavarians and Poles ; and the new quarters 
occupied extended, right to Thorn, centre to Osterode, and left 
to Elburg. 

There was a possibility of fresh strategic combinations from 
this fresh base, and the troops wore thus disposed: Bernadotte, 



Braunsberg and Spandau ; Soult, Liebstadt and Molwingen ; 
Davoust, Allenstein and Hohenstein ; N"ey, Guttstadt ; Guard, 
Oudinot, and headquarters, Osterode ; cavahy in rear from 
Thorn to Elburg, and Augereau's corps was disembodied. The 
5th corps on the Omuleff, and Massena, were also sent for. 
The general distribution of French forces at this period was 
as follows : — 

Field forces on the Vistula and the Passarge, 80,000 to 90,000 


„ at Dantzig 

and Colberg, 


,, at Bremen 

and Stralsund, 


„ in Silesia, 


In the fortresses, 


With parks, 


Wounded, . 


Sick and marauding, 


Recruits on the march, 


Making a total of 270,000 French, and 60,000 auxiliaries. 

Efforts were made almost immediately after the battle of 
Eylau to effect a separate peace with Prussia, but the negotia- 
tions failed ; and Beningsen, falling back, re-established his 
army near Konigsberg, where he found abundant supplies, and 
chiefly hospital accommodation, especially necessary in the 
disorganised and dispirited state of his army after the severi- 
ties that had attended their retreat. His extreme left was 
meanwhile again defeated — for Essen, who commanded it, ad- 
vanced on the loth of February against Lannes's corps, and 
collision occurred at Ostrolenka ; followed, on the 16th Feb- 
ruary, by the defeat of the Russians, with a loss of 1200 men 
and 7 guns. This secured, for the time, the right of the French 
army. Beningsen, mortified by his want of success, had re- 
quested to be relieved from his command ; but he was urged 
by the Emperor to remain and act with energy, the army 
having been reinforced by Sedmaratski and Cossacks, bring- 
ing up its strength, counting the Prussians, to 70,000 soldiers. 

Beningsen advanced on the 16th February to Friedland 
and Schippenbeil ; on the 20th to Bartenstein ; his advanced- 
guard on the 21st to Landsberg, where he halted till the 26th. 

At this time the Piussian headquarters, according to Ben- 
ingsen's order to L'Estocq, were on the 23d February at 


Kreutzberg; 24th, Lanclsberg; 25th, Heilsberg; 27th, Gutt- 
stadt ; 28th, Allenstein. 

Beningsen had come to the conclusion that the French 
would retreat behind the Vistula, but he found Napoleon on 
the Passarge; and after experiencing some loss, went into winter 
quarters on both banks of the Alle, where the wretched 
method of supply of the Eussians, removed further from their 
base at Konigsberg, was sensibly felt. 

While both armies thus rested in winter quarters, the siege 
of the fortresses were not forgotten. Schweidnitz had fallen ; 
Neisse was invested and surrendered in June ; and on the 1st 
April Dantzig was finally and effectually invested. 

A great impression was made upon the European public by 
the battle of Eylau and its consequences. 

The smallest amount of administrative activity on the part 
of Prussia would have turned the scale by calling others into 
the fray ; but Talleyrand at Warsaw exercised his diplomatic 
ability to stave off this possibility. Napoleon, too, exerted 
all his energies to repair the gaps in his army. The means of 
subsistence were matters requiring the most anxious thought ; 
the difficulty of transport was immense ; the weather execrable. 
But one by one these difficulties were overcome : the arrival 
of provisional regiments enabled him to fill up the cadres to 
their proper strength ; and with rest, care, and administrative 
attention, the French morale sensibly improved. 

Two bridges only were left on the Passarge, those at Brauns- 
berg and Spandau, and these were covered by tetes de pont : 
two others remained over the Vistula at Marienburg and 

But the French were not alone in enduring hardships and 
privations. The sufferings of the Russians were dreadful, 
and for military purposes their army was practically impotent. 

Early in March, therefore, the military organisation of the 
transport was undertaken, and the removal of headquarters 
to Finkenstein carried out. Everywhere was displayed pro- 
digious energy, which in itself was productive of glory— and 
glory sometimes brings back power. 

During March pacific negotiations were carried on with 
Prussia, but they were fruitless. Viewing the difficulty and 


uncertainty of his position, the anxiety of the Emperor re- 
garding Austria was naturally great, and intrigues were carried 
on on both sides. 

Moreover, he weaned of this distant and long-continuing 
campaign, and to bring matters to a conclusion more men 
were wanted, so that the conscription of 1808 was enforced, 
and the cavalry increased to 80,000. He purposed, after the 
termination of the sieges in which he was still engaged, to 
increase the active army by two corps under Mortier and 
Lannes, and to place them between the Vistula and Oder, 
connecting the field army with the second army, 100,000 
strong (60,000 auxiliaries, 40,000 French), which was to remain 
on the Elbe. 

Disturbances occurred in Hesse, and an irruption was 
attempted by the Swedes at Stralsund in April ; but they were 
settled by Mortier on the 18th, who effected an armistice with 
the forces opposed to him. 

The siege of Dantzig by Marshal Lefebvre continued, the 
trenches having been opened on the 18th of April, and a feeble 
attempt to relieve it was made by the allies on the 12th May ; 
but on the 26th of May it capitulated, and thus the enormous 
resources found in Dantzig were at the disposal of the French. 
Dispositions were soon made, therefore, for resuming the offen- 
sive, and operations commenced on the first days of June. 
The allied sovereigns were at Bartenstein. The Eussian army 
had been reinforced by 30,000 men, and renewed promises of 
support had been received from England, so that Beningsen 
was ordered to advance, and an intrenched camp was formed 
at Heilsberg. The estimates formed by Thiers of the force 
at the disposal of the allies is 100,000 combatants, besides 
18,000 on the Narew under Tolstoi. L'Estocq and Kamenski 
were on the right, 20,000 strong. But the resources of the 
French were vastly superior to those of their adversaries. 
Brune, with 80,000, was on the Elbe; Lannes and Moitier 
on the Lower Vistula ; in the field were five corps, as well as 
the Guard and cavalry reserve. 

Massena was on the Narew, and was connected by the Poles 
with the Passarge. Excluding Massena and including Mortier, 
the Emperor could dispose of 160,000 combatants — (Thiers). 


The French positions had been intrenched, and the canton- 
ments were raised in May, as a precautionary measure, the 
troops being encamped by divisions in well-selected positions 
as follows : — 

Ney, Guttstadt and Deppen ; Davoust, Hohenstein ; Soult, 
Lieberstadt ; Bernadotte, Braunsberg ; headquarters, Finken- 
stein ; in rear. Murat. 

Napoleon intended to move on June 10th, his plan being 
to descend the Alle, separate the Prussians from Konigsberg, 
capture that city, and throw the enemy back upon the Niemen. 

But the Russians anticipated him. Their doing so was a 
false step on all accounts now ; the positions of the French 
were too strong, their own numbers too inferior, while all the 
fortresses were in Napoleon's possession. Their true course 
was to await action on the Pregel, their right resting on Kon- 
igsberg, and then defend that line, retiring, if necessary, upon 
the Niemen, and thus drawing the French further from their 
resources. But they elected otherwise, and Ney was attacked 
earnestly, while demonstrations were made against the other 
marshals. The real attack was on Altkirch, Wolfsdorff, and 
Guttstadt, by three columns and the Guard. The Hetman Plato ff 
occupying Davoust ; Doctorow, Soult at Lomitten ; Kamenski, 
Bernadotte at Spandau ; L'Estocq being at Braunsberg. 

The attack commenced June 5th, and was unexpected by the 
French ; but there was want of unity among the Russians, and 
after a splendid action Ney retired upon Deppen. The de- 
monstrations along the Passarge were repulsed, and Napoleon 
ordered a general concentration upon Saalfeld. 

The attack on Ney was renewed on the 6th, and he again 
retreated uninjured behind the Passarge. On the 7th, Napo- 
leon moved to Deppen. Beningsen remained on this date 
at Guttstadt in a state of indecision, resulting in a general 
retreat to Heilsberg. L'Estocq had been detached to cover 

The French pushed forward offensively with 130,000 men, 
Victor, replacing Bernadotte on the Lower Passarge, remaining 

The battle of Heilsberg followed, and the French advance 
was repulsed with loss. Beningsen retreated on the right 


bank of the Alle on the 11th, making for Bartenstein. Napo- 
leon hesitated to renew the attack, preferring to turn the 
strong position by pushing forward Davoust. Leaning towards 
Konigsberg he marched for Domnau, two marches from 
Konigsberg and one from Friedland: thus both objectives were 
now within reach. Victor was called in by Mehlsack and Eylau, 
while the Eussian army was observed by the light cavalry on 
the Alle. Indications of their march for Konigsberg were re- 
ported, so that Soult and Murat were detached to Kreuzburg ; 
Lannes and Mortier to Domnau and Friedland ; Ney and 
Victor, at Eylau, were to follow in either direction. 

On the evening of the 13th, Beningsen's march for Friedland 
was declared. All the corps were therefore pushed forward in 
that direction. Lannes and Mortier were ordered to seize the 
bridges at Friedland, but the light troops were repulsed by 
the enemy. 

The army reached Posthenen at 1 A.M. on 14th, and halted. 
The entire Eussian army was now approaching Friedland from 
Bartenstein and Schippenbeil, and the battle of Friedland 
accordingly took place on the 14th. 

It was again a rash resolve of Beningsen to fight a general 
action, and it would have been better for him to have continued 
on the right bank of the Alle to Wehlau. But he had decided 
on crossing at Friedland and giving battle, so three bridges 
were consequently thrown over the Alle, one above and two 
below the town. Opposed to him was simply the corps of 
Lannes, which was shortly reinforced first by Nansouty, and 
afterwards by one division of Mortier ; but even then it num- 
bered in all only 27,000 men, while the Eussians were 75,000 

The combat was prolonged until noon by Lannes and 
Mortier, when Ney arrived with other reinforcements, and 
Napoleon himself making the dispositions for continuing the 
battle, directed him on Friedland. The French force was now 
computed at 80,000. 

Beningsen soon discovered his mistake. Though the attack 
of the French right wing was checked by the Eussian artillery, 
the latter was soon more or less silenced by the batteries of 


Senermont, and under their protection Friedland was carried ; 
and with it the possession of the bridges, constructed to facili- 
tate the passage of the stream, was obtained. The advance of 
the left wing completed the defeat — 80 cannon, and 25,000 
men hors de combat, being the Russian loss, as compared with 
8000 on the French side. 

The Russian army cut in two, retired to Wehlau, destroying 
the bridges on the Pregel. On the 16th it reached Petersdorff, 
waiting for Kamenski and L'Estocq, thus abandoning Konigs- 
berg, to which place Soult accordingly proceeded. Davoust 
and Murat had been called to Friedland ; but hearing of the 
victory, crossed the Pregel at Tapiau. 

The Russians retired behind the Niemen on the 19th, 
and an armistice proposed on that clay was signed on 
the 22d. 


The campaign has three distinct epochs — viz., Pultusk, 
Eylau, and Friedland. Hoffner considers that in these opera- 
tions Napoleon displayed more systematic action than in 
any he had hitherto conducted. His care for communica- 
tions, the construction of depots, provision of reinforce- 
ments, the special attention devoted to the mastery of the 
lines in rear of his operation, all denote the caution with 
which he proceeded. Special attention again was paid to 
Thorn, owing to the configuration of the Vistula, there form- 
ing, as it does, a great re-entrant bend. Were this point not 
gained and guarded, the line of operations from Posen to 
Warsaw would be evidently unsafe, because exposed to flank 

The Prussians in possession of Thorn, and operating from 
Dantzig and Graudenz on his flank, would be a constant source 
of anxiety to him. 

It is difficult to see, moreover, the object the allies had in 
assigning a detached sphere of action to the Prussian contin- 
gents. The German authors agree that, in spite of constant 


defeat, the individual German soldier retained the confident 
feeling of physical superiority ; but the cause may probably 
be found in a superannuated system, by which the Prussian 
leaders were first of all punctiliously unwilling to serve other 
than independently, fearful lest such a course would imply 
inferiority — and next, showed a reluctance to adopt anything 
new after a long period of peace. 

The Emperor's method of manucevring with superior force 
is extremely instructive, the general plan being that of 
advancing the two wings with a strong centre refused. 
The same system was applied both strategically and tac- 

The skill with which the Emperor recovered the initiative 
in the first days of June is again remarkable. 

His object w T as constantly directed to the separation of the 
Prussians from their allies, with a view to drive Prussia out 
of the field politically. 

Hoffner blames him for not continuing the battle of Heils- 
berg on June the 11th, instead of manoeuvring ; but his absten- 
tion is a proof of his sense of the precarious nature of his 
position, and he was, moreover, anxious to economise force. 
Without Beningsen's blunder the Piussians would have 
arrived safe on the Pregel, whilst Napoleon's line, already 
extended, would have been still further stretched. The point 
had been reached where the occupation of territory was of no 
further value, but in this poor district rather the contrary, 
and a general action was the sole object worth striving for. 
This object was obtained at Friedland by good fortune, which, 
according to Beningsen, was owing to his misinformation as 
to Napoleon's movements on Konigsberg. In this case he 
cannot escape the charge of neglecting to crush Lannes as he 
had previously failed in beating Ney at Guttstadt, and Soult 
at Heilsberg. Throughout the campaign there was a want 
of resolution and enterprise on his part, and the essential 
element of active defence was distinctly wanting. But there 
was no lack of resolution on the other side, and Lannes's wait- 
ing action at Friedland is presented as a model for similar 
circumstances. His dispositions were excellent, and were 


such as to completely check Beningsen until reinforcements 
could be brought up. 

Napoleon's tactics were equally remarkable, and his rapid 
coup d'oeil at the battle, whereby he recognised the value 
of the narrow peninsula on which Friedland stood and the 
importance of its possession, is as striking as the result was 


DRESDEN, 1813. 

Introductory. — The events of the period intervening between the last 
campaign studied and that of which one of the concluding battles is 
alone critically examined, are so numerous that they can be but briefly 
referred to. 

The Peace of Tilsit followed the victorious campaign of 1807, one 
treaty between France and Kussia being signed on the 7th July 1807, 
the other between the same Power and Prussia on the 9th. Russia re- 
mained untouched; Prussia resumed her own kingdom; North Germany 
became the kingdom of Westphalia under Jerome ; and Poland, though 
not independent, was converted into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, and 
Napoleon became the Protector of a new European confederation. 
Sweden and England alone remained at war with him, and on 17th June 
a new treaty was concluded between them ; but on the 15th July the 
Swedes, covering Stralsund, were defeated by Brune (commanding the 
divisions of Boudet, Molitor, and a Spanish force under Romagna), and 
the town capitulated on the 20th. The enemy, who had only retreated 
to the islands of Rugen and Danholin, were again attacked ; the latter 
taken on the 24th July, and the former given up by a convention made 
with the King of Sweden on the 9th September. 

To deprive Napoleon of the stores and war-vessels in Denmark, a 
British expedition was organised in August 1807 against that state, 
which was completely successful, and Copenhagen was bombarded. The 
year 1807 closed with the despatch of a French army under Junot into 
Portugal, when the Queen fled to America ; and disturbances of no 
moment also occurred between Reynier and the Calabrians assisted by the 
British, in continuation of the Neapolitan insurrection against the French 
occupation of that kingdom. 

1808 saw the seizure of the Spanish fortresses and the commencement of 
the struggle in the Peninsula, with which this book does not deal, though 
Napoleon himself took part in this war against the last nation that had 
not succumbed to his sword. 

In February Russia invaded Finland, and a British force was despatched 
to assist Gustavus IV., but it was withdrawn. 

DRESDEN, 1813. 157 

In 1809 hostilities again broke out in Germany. The attitude of 
Austria had been long unmistakable, and on the 10th April the Arch- 
duke Charles, supreme generalissimo of the forces— for the Aulic Council 
had been abolished— directed the armies to cross the Bavarian, Bohemian, 
and Italian frontiers, the Army of Italy being under the command of the 
Archduke John. The battle of Abensberg on the 20th April, followed by 
the capture of Landshut ; the battle of Eckmiihl on the 22d, followed by 
the capture of Ratisbon after a severe combat and the retreat of the Arch- 
duke to the left bank of the Danube, leaving Hiller only to cover the 
capital ; the advance on Vienna, interrupted by the bloody fight at Ebers- 
burg on the 3d May, and then the occupation of the capital,— closed the 
first act of the new drama. In Italy, the battles of Sacile and Priuli 
had been fought with varying success ; and then, as in 1805, the Arch- 
duke John fell back (by Innspruck) towards the greater theatre. In the 
meantime the Austrians there had crossed the Danube and destroyed the 
bridges. Napoleon attempted on the 20th to force the passage by the 
island of Lobau below Vienna, and this brought on the battle of Aspern 
or Essling, after which the French retired to Lobau and spent a month 
in preparing for further operations. 

The Austrian forces of Chastelar and Jellachich had occupied the 
Tyrol, but both being defeated by Lefebvre, retreated to join the Arch- 
duke John, who, failing in his effort to reach Bohemia, was retiring into 
Hungary pursued by the Viceroy of Italy, whose orders were to push him 
as far down the Danube as possible, and prevent his uniting with his 
brother. His defeat at Raab on the Lower Danube, on the 13th June, 
fully effected this object. 

The second attempt to cross to the north bank of the Danube was made 
on the night of the 5th and 6th of July, and the victory of Wagram was 
won on the following day. On the 10th the armistice of Znaim was 
signed, and the Peace of Vienna ensued on the 14th October. The Arch- 
duke Ferdinand had been detached to watch a force of Poles and French 
under Poniatowski, on the Vistula, to which was afterwards added a 
Russian corps ; but the Austrians were routed at Gora, and he finally 
arrived at Znaim during the armistice. The only other event of note 
was the British expedition to the island of Walcheren, which, designed to 
distract Napoleon's attention to Antwerp, was withdrawn, having effected 

The years 1810 and 1811 passed without any grave disturbance of the 
European peace, if the war in the Peninsula — which, though small in 
itself, exercised far greater influence over Napoleon's career than at first 
appeared probable — be disregarded. 

But 1812 saw the beginning of the end. In April the Czar's ultimatum 
was forwarded to Napoleon, and was of course refused. At Wilna on the 
29th, the plan of forming two armies of Dwina and Dnieper, which, with 
outposts on the Niemen, should retire on the capital and weary the 
French out, was decided on. On the 9th May the Emperor reached 
Dresden, leaving it on the 29th, and on the 2d June established his 
headquarters at Thorn. All the Powers of Europe, except England, 
Spain, Russia, and Sweden, were allies of Napoleon. 


On the 24th June the French armies crossed the Russian frontier. 
Left. Macdonald and De York passed the Niemen at Tilsit. 
Centre. Napoleon with the 1st 2d and 3d corps, reserve cavalry, and 

Guard, at Kovno. 
Eugene with the 4th and 5th corps, at Roumcheld. 
Jerome with the 5th and 8th corps, at Grodno ; but he was soon 

superseded by Davoust. 
Left. Schwarzenberg with the Austrian 7th corps (Reynier) passed the 

Bug at Bresesc-Litovsky. 
Reserve. Victor with 9th corps, on the Vistula. 

The main road from the frontier to Napoleon's objective, Moscow, ran 
from Kovno to Wilna, where it bifurcates, the northern branch by Polotsk 
and Vitepsk (on the Dwina) to Smolensko on the Dnieper, where it re- 
unites with the southern branch passing by Borissov (on the Beresina), 
Orcha, and Krasnoi. Thence it continues by Borodino to Mojaisk, where 
it again divides — one branch direct to Moscow, the other by Borowsk, 
near Taroutino and Malo Jaroslavitz, to the same point. That portion 
of this main artery lying between Vitepsk and Smolensko, crosses the 
watershed lying between the Dwina, running north-west by Drissa to 
Riga, and the Dnieper, which has a southerly course, receiving on its right 
bank, near Bobrinsk, the Beresina ; and this, running north and south, 
cuts the above main road and also the subsidiary one from Grodno 
by Minsk, Mohilev, Krasnoi, Kalouga, and Toula, due south of Moscow. 
To oppose the enemy the Czar Alexander had three armies ; under 
Barclay, watching the country north of the Wilna road — Bagration that 
south of it to Bresesc-Litovsky on the Bug — and Tormassof, who having 
concluded a treaty of peace with Turkey, was advancing from Moldavia. 
On the 23d of July skirmishes occured at Mohilev on the Dnieper, and 
Ostronov near Polotsk on the Dwina ; on the 28th, Vitepsk was abandoned 
by the Russians, and their two armies formed a junction at Smolensko 
on the 3d August. At Vitepsk, the Emperor halted to reorganise his 
forces, and during this delay Oudinot on the left was checked at Kliastit- 
sky near Polotsk, and Reynier on the extreme right at Kobrin by 
Tormassof, when Schwarzenberg moved up in support. Bernadotte, now 
King of Sweden, meanwhile had made a secret treaty with the Czar, and 
thus threatened the left flank of the French, while the right was endan- 
gered by the Moldavian army. On the 7th August the Russians ad- 
vanced from Smolensko, but again retired ; on the 10th the French also 
moved, fights occurring at Krasnoi on the 15th. On the 16th, Smolensko 
was attacked and evacuated by Barclay ; Victor's corps joined the main 
army here, and was rejdaced by one under Augereau from the Elbe. 
Actions occurred in the centre, 19th August, at Valoutina on the Moscow 
road ; on the right, 12th August, at Gorodeczna (Reynier and Schwarzen- 
berg) ; on the left, on the 18th, at Polotsk (Oudinot) ; and on the extreme 
left, at Riga (Macdonald), with varying success ; and on the 7th September — 
the Russians having halted at Borodino — occurred a battle, in which, after a 
determined struggle, they withdrew in such good order, that their rear- 
guard was able to hold Mojaisk on the 9th till the whole of the artillery 

DKESDEN, 1813. 159 

and baggage had passed. Moscow was abandoned by the Russians on the 
14th September, and they retired towards Taroutino on the Nara, south- 
west of Moscow on the Kalouga road, tbus threatening the French retreat, 
and the capital was entered by the French on the 15th. From that 
date until the 20th, constant conflagrations at last led to the conclusion 
that the attempt to burn Moscow was premeditated. 

A long period of rest followed the capture. On the 24th September 
negotiations were attempted with the Czar, but on the 9th October a 
distinct refusal was returned to all proposals for peace. The Russians 
advanced from Taroutino to Winkovo on the 1 7th October, and attacked 
Murat, who was defeated. On the 19th Napoleon left Moscow for 
Kalouga, and decided on retreat. Ney was directed towards Winkovo, 
but the main army turned towards Borowsk near Malo Jaroslavitz, 
the other corps on the Smolensko road being also withdrawn. At the 
latter place a battle was fought on 24th October with no results, the 
Russians retiring south towards Kalouga. The retreat was continued by 
Wereia to Wiazma on to the main Smolensko road, Davoust, Grouchy, and 
finally Ney, forming the rear-guard. The Russians marched by a parallel 
road by Jelnia on Krasnoi. Continued attacks were made on the French 
left flank at Federouskoe, Wiazma, and Krapivna, while Cossacks continu- 
ally harassed the line of march, until Smolensko was reached on the 13th 
November, when it was learnt that St Cyr at Polotsk and Vitepsk had also 
been pressed back on the present French right, while Scbwarzenberg on 
the left had been forced across the Bug, and ceased to take part in the 

The relics of the corps again moved on the 14th, headquarters 
reaching Krasnoi on the 15th, where the Russians again attacked, and the 
battle of Krasnoi was fought on the 17th, the French retreating to 
Liadi. Ney had been cut off from the main body by this irruption of 
the Russian army on the main road, but crossing the Dnieper to the 
north bank, moved by Gussinoe and rejoined the Emperor at Orcha on 
the 20th. But the further retreat was barred by the presence of the 
enemy at Borissov on the Beresina. 

Meanwhile on the left Minsk had been occupied, and on the right Victor 
and St Cyr had been driven from Zenibin on the Vitepsk road by the 
Russian corps of Tschitchagov from the army of Moldavia, and that of 
Wittgenstein from the army of the north, which had now united on 
the Beresina. The passage was, however, forced, and Napoleon on the 
27th continued his retreat by the southern of the two main roads, on 

On the 5th December Napoleon left for Paris, placing the army under 
Murat's command, and directed it to fall back behind the Niemen. It 
gained Wilna on the 9th, followed by Kutusow's advanced-guard, and 
amidst continual fighting reached Kovno, where the last of Ney's rear- 
guard was destroyed, and the relics of the army fell back behind the river 
into Prussian territory. 

Macdonald, with the Prussian contingent, who had hitherto been 
protecting the left of the invading army towards Riga, retired upon the 


Niemen, reaching Tilsit on the 29th December, when he received orders 
to retreat behind the Pregel. Hearing of the defeat of the Grand Army, 
the Prussians under De York joined the Eussian forces on the 1st 
January 1813. 

The Austrian corps under Schwarzenberg did not so openly show- 
disaffection, but concluded an armistice on the 21st December, and leav- 
ing Reynier retired to Nur, on the Bug. 

Thus the year 1813 opened with grave disaster at last staring Napoleon 
in the face. 

Macdonald had retreated behind the Vistula ; and Dantzig, Thorn, 
Marienwerder, Elburg, and Plockzo were designated as the rallying-points 
for stragglers ; but even this was too advanced, and while Rapp remained 
at Dantzig, and Reynier at Warsaw, Murat withdrew the remnants of the 
other corps to Posen, and then handed over the command to Eugene. 
Auwereau was then at Berlin with a strong force. But these places were 
successively blockaded. Wittgenstein pushed by Custrin on Berlin ; 
Tschitchagov watched Thorn; Milaradovitch, Doctorow, and Sacken moved 
on Warsaw. Before this Reynier fell back and. was defeated, the Saxon 
corps being dispersed at Kalisch on 13th February, when he finally took 
post at Dresden. 

The Poles of Poniatowski had to retire on Cracow, and thence to 
Czentoschau, wherefore the Viceroy retreated to the line of the Oder, 
and in March the forces withdrew behind the Elbe, and Berlin was 

The King of Prussia signed on the 1st March an offensive alliance 
with the Czar, who from his headquarters at Kalisch, declaring the Con- 
federation of the Rhine abolished, called on all the European States to 
take up arms against France. 

Thus the position of the Allies in the beginning of the campaign of 
1813 was as follows : — 

SWoronzow ) , -n v 
Bulow | atMin - 
Tettenborne and Czernichef at Hamburg and Liibeck. 
!De York and Wittgenstein near Magdeburg. 
Kutusow on the Oder. 
Blucher and Winzingerode on the Dresden road, in Silesia. 
Left. Sacken and Doctorow near Cracow. 
The Austrians, who had not yet joined the aUiance, were withdrawing 
Schwarzenberg in Galicia. The Saxon general Thielmann was in treaty 
with the Czar, and Bernadotte, with the Swedes, had joined the Con- 

The Allies had further to watch — 

1. Dantzig, Thorn, and Modlin, on the Vistula. 

2. Czentoschau and Zamoszth, in South Poland. 

3. Stettin, Custrin, and Glogau, on the Oder. 

4. Hamburg, Magdeburg, and Wittenburg, on the Elbe. 

5. Spandau, near Berlin. 

On the side of the French, the Viceroy had been obliged, by the capture 

DRESDEN, 1813. 


of Hamburg and Dresden, to withdraw behind the Saale ; and in April 
the corps, chiefly new levies, were thus distributed : — 




< Mortier, 
' Marmont, 
i Macdonald, 
•j Victor, 
( Lauriston, 

50,000, from Bamberg to Saalfeld. 
20,000, Coburg. 
48,000, Wiirzburg to Weimar. 
15,000, Frankfrut to Erfurt. 
25,000, Hanau to Gotba. 

62,000, near Dessau. 

The latter force was under Eugene, and all were intended to con- 
centrate on the Saale. 

Both sides moved on the 28th April. 

On the 2d May, the Allies, attempting to turn the French left, were 
repulsed at Lutzen. On the 9th May Napoleon entered Dresden ; and as 
Ney had taken Torgau, and Davoust Hamburg, the line of the Elbe 
was again in French hands. 

The Allies retired to Bautzen, Ney and Victor observed Bulow 
towards Berlin, Lauriston with Reynier at Weissig were to keep up 
connection, and the remainder moved in pursuit. 

On 19th, Lauriston defeated York, who had been sent to intercept him. 

On 20th, the battle of Bautzen was fought. Ney, Lauriston, and 
Reynier being recalled to operate on the right of the Allies— who were 
defeated, and retreated in good order— Oudinot was sent towards Bulow ; 
the rest followed the defeated army, and on the 1st June the left was at 
Glogau, centre at Breslau, and right at Schweidnitz, while Davoust had 
cleared Hanover and the extreme left. 

Then followed the ill-advised armistice of Pleiswitz, during which 
the Austrians joined the Russians ; and when hostilities broke out, the 
belligerents were thus disposed : — 

' Austrians, 


Schwarzenberg, in 

Barclay and Wittgenstein, . 



! Kleist (Prussian), 


[ Langeron and St Priest, 


Blucher, in Silesia, 

< De York, .... 


' Sacken, . 


r Swedes, .... 


Bemadotte in the 

< Woronzow and Winzingerode, 


north, at Berlin, 

' Bulow, .... 


At Dantzig, 



At Hamburg, 



In addition, an Austrian army of Italy, in Carinthia, 50,000 ; another at 
Braunau, watching Bavaria, 25,000 ; and a third at Presburg ; with 
Beningsen's Russians, 50,000, in reserve at Kalisch,— completed the war 
strength of the Coalition. 




Oudinot, in the 


Macdonald, in 


( St Cyr, 

Watching \ Vandamme, 

Bohemia, ) Poniatowski and 

' Victor, 

Corps of Oudinot, Bertrand, and 

Reynier, . 

Corps of Macdonald, Lauriston, 
Ney, and Marmont, 

30,000 Konigstein. 

30,000 Stolpen. 

36,000 Zittau. 


Eugene, in 

Guard and Murat, 


48,000, &c, between Dresden and Bautzen. 

25,000 on the Inn. 

20,000 Wiirzburg. 


The general plan of the Allied operations was, that, while Bernadotte 
covered Berlin and drove Davonst from Hamburg, Blucher should engage 
the enemy in front, and Schwarzenberg should operate against his com- 
munications at Dresden. For this the mountains forming the northern 
frontier of Bohemia offered considerable advantages, both as a means of 
screening the flank march of the army there, and also reducing the 
chances of being attacked en route owing to the rarity of passes practicable 
for extended military operations. On the 15th August Blucher advanced 
to the Bober, but falling back on the 21st, fought an action at Goldberg 
on the 22d, and retreated. On this date Napoleon heard of the advance 
of Schwarzenberg's force and withdrew the Guard, cavalry, and Mar- 
mont's corps. Leaving Macdonald with his corps, Lauriston's, and Ney's 
(under Souham) and Sebastian's cavalry, to contain Blucher, he pushed 
with all haste to Dresden. 

Battle of Dresden, 26th and 27th August. 

The Allied Grand Army, 180,000 strong, debouched into 
Saxony from Bohemia on the 22d August in four columns. 

Wittgenstein and Kleist by the Peterswalde defile on the 
Toplitz-Dresden road ; Barclay cle Tolly by the defile of Alten- 
burg and Barenstein; Schwarzenberg by Kommotau and 
Marienberg ; Klenau by Annaberg and Freiburg. 

As soon as the defiles were penetrated and the mountain 
barrier passed, the Austrian columns wheeled to the right by 
Toplitz and Sayda. 

On the 22d, Wittgenstein carried Pirna ; on the 25th, the 
Allied army, Klenau excepted, reached the heights which en- 
close Dresden semicircularly on the left bank of the Elbe, 

DRESDEN, 1813. 163 

and St Cyr's outposts were driven in. The marshal, who was 
alone in Dresden at the time, held the Stadsgraben and the 
barriers, and prepared to defend the tetes de pont across the 
Elbe. The Allies discussed the feasibility of attack on the 
evening of this day, but finally abandoned the idea, and the 
troops bivouacked for the night. 

Napoleon, before starting for Silesia, had employed many 
thousand peasants in strengthening the old works of Dresden. 
The town is divided into two parts by the Elbe — namely, the 
Altstadt and Neustadt. Three bridges unite these sections and 
supply means of communication, each being covered on the 
left bank by a tete de pont. The enceinte of the town had 
been restored, and its defensive capacity strengthened by 
advanced works of a temporary character ; of these latter 
there were eight on the right, and five on the left bank of the 
stream: and both palisades and abattis had been constructed to 
complete the system of defence and obstruct a hostile advance. 

The principal approaches to Dresden from the west are 
eight in number, and at the city bore the names Lobda, 
Freiburg, Falk, Dippoldiswalde, Dohna, Pirna, Ziegel, and 
Ramsche gates. 

About two miles off are the heights of Reichnitz and Leub- 
nitz arching towards the city. On the left of the field the 
little river Weisseritz finds its way through a deep ravine, 
more or less impracticable for the lateral communication of 
troops, towards the Elbe, which it enters between the city and 
its suburb Frederichstadt. Thus troops posted between the 
Weisseritz and Elbe could only communicate by the Lobda 
and Plauen bridges with the right bank of the rivulet. The 
space between the heights and the suburbs of the town is 
studded with villages, the principal of which are Striesen, 
Gruna, Grunaweise, Lobda, Plauen, Cotta, Schusterhauser, 
Toltschen, and Eosthal ; with Strehlen, Tescheritz, and Reich- 
nitz on the slopes towards the city. 

The leading physical obstacles on the side of the town fac- 
ing the enemy are the great garden, the Lazareth, Feldschlos- 
chen, and the " Plauensche Grand," the extent of the field from 
right to left being about seven miles. 

Early on the 26th fighting commenced at the Gross Garten ; 


and later in the day the Austrians, getting under arms, ad- 
vanced against the city in heavy columns, called by Schwar- 
zenberg " reconnoitring columns." 

Colloredo stormed the Dippoldiswalde redoubts, and Kleist 
entered the Gross Garten. 

Wittgenstein pushed on over open ground to the right, and 
was annoyed by the fire of the guns from the right bank of 
the Elbe. One division only of Klenau had arrived, that of 
Mesko— and this, with Gyulai's, stormed the village of Lobda 
with its redoubts, and held them. 

Meantime St Cyr's, and finally Napoleon's, dispositions were 
as follows : The troops were held behind the town wall and in 
the redoubts, the reserves being at each barrier. At 9 a.m. 
Napoleon arrived in advance of the Guard, and riding round 
the town, arranged his plans, by which Mortier and two 
divisions of the Young Guard moved on Pirna and Ziegel- 
schlage, and Ney on Dippoldiswalde and Falkenschlage ; while 
Murat, with the cavalry and eight battalions under Teste, was 
on the left bank of the Weisseritz. The Old Guard remained 
principally in the town. 

The Allies noticed the approach of the enemy, but this did 
not deter Schwarzenberg from attacking, and the fight com- 
menced at 4 p.m. by the advance of the artillery and the 
columns, three guns being fired as a signal for the assault. 
It was met by a counter-advance of the French from every 
gate, and the enemy was driven back by nightfall, when the 
line of heights generally were taken up by the Austrians and 

During the night Marmont and Victor arrived. Victor and 
Latour Maubourg's cavalry were placed under Murat, with 
orders to turn and destroy the Austrian left. Mortier was to 
attack Wittgenstein, and seek to establish communications with 
Vandamme, who was near Pirna. The remainder were formed 
in mass to occupy the centre. One division of both Young 
and Old Guards were held in reserve. Klenau announced 
his approach on the 27th, and forwarded more regiments ; 
but Schwarzenberg, uneasy concerning Vandamme's passage of 
the Elbe at Konigstein, drew in his right to Leubnitz, Gyulai 
being posted a clicval on the Weisseritz. 

DKESDEN, 1813. 165 

All these measures were taken during pouring rain. The 
battle was renewed by a successful advance of the French 
left, which was checked at Beick, where the action languished, 
affording an opportunity to Barclay to use his cavalry, but he 
declined. In the centre the battle was maintained by a can- 
nonade only. On the right, Murat first carried Lobda, and 
occupying the enemy's front, detached a heavy column of all 
arms upon Schusterhaiiser. As it debouched through the 
Schonen-griind, he threw himself violently on the Austrians 
with the 12,000 cavalry of Latour Maubourg, and utterly 
routed them, taking 10,000 prisoners and many guns. 
Schwarzenberg, already bent upon retreat, determined to 
recross the Erzegebirge, moving in three columns on the 
Dippoldiswalde road. 


The evil of divided commands, and the want of complete 
unity of action, are most noticeable in this enterprise against 
the French communications. Schwarzenberg's operation was 
trammelled throughout by the presence of the independent 
sovereigns, and his opinion borne down in the council of war, 
in which Moreau, who had joined the Allies during this cam- 
paign, and Jomini assisted. 

The first intention of the Allies had been to operate upon 
Leipzig, in which they were to be joined by a portion of Berna- 
dotte's force, which was to advance by Dessau on that city ; 
but this plan was suddenly changed on the receipt of the 
information that Dresden was but weakly held. At first St 
Cyr's corps was certainly not in a position to hold Dresden for 
even two days against a force so numerically strong as that 
Schwarzenberg commanded. 

According to St Cyr's account, he had little more than 
20,000 men in his command, and of these not more than one- 
half were French. 

The Austrians, on the other hand, had, on the 26th, 100,000 
men and 250 guns ready for action, while an equal number 
might be expected during the day. 


The delay was caused in waiting for Klenau's arrival from 
the extreme left ; and hurry was not deemed necessary, as, on 
the 25th, a despatch from Blucher had stated that the Em- 
peror had pushed him back upon Goldberg for five miles, and 
it was calculated that at the earliest Napoleon could not ar- 
rive before the 28th. In this the intelligence department of 
the army was at fault ; for it was possible for the Allies to have 
arrived at Dresden on the 24th with 200,000 men and 600 
guns, and an immediate attack was certainly dictated under 
such circumstances. 

A small garrison called upon to defend a large town is at a 
great disadvantage. It must occupy outlying posts of impor- 
tance, and thus disseminate its strength at the expense of 
secrecy, while the attack can select any point it chooses, and 
where it effects an entrance can, with a free use of its reserves, 
paralyse the defence. If St Cyr had had to give way at any 
point of the circumference, he must at once have retired to the 
interior of the town. 

But these conditions are changed at once as soon as an army, 
in the hands of an intelligent leader ; is present on the theatre, 
and free for offensive action. 

If the attack acted as Schwarzenberg did, it runs the risk of 
being broken at some point of its line, and advantages gained 
at other points would but increase the danger. If he concen- 
trated for any particular point, the reserves would find but 
little difficulty in issuing from the defences and taking him 
in flank. 

In round terms, a large fortified city, occupied only with 
sufficient troops to fulfil the obligations of local defence, can 
be stormed by superior force. It cannot . be stormed if, in ad- 
dition, it possessed an active army, proportionately strong and 
well led. This is the true secret of the difference between the 
two situations on the 25th and 26th. 

Still this conclusion may be modified by a consideration of 
the nature and value of the opposing artillery. That of the 
defence may be so strong in guns, that every assault should 
be repulsed ; that of the attack so powerful, that it would be 
difficult for the defending army to debouch. 

Schwarzenberg, sufficiently strong in artillery, did not use 

DKESDEN, 1813. 167 

it well for this purpose, and his dispositions were faulty in 
the beginning. The so-called reconnoitring column or re- 
connaissance in force of the Austrian general, was but a piece 
of pedantic caution. He had his information, and should have 
acted on it. There is always a risk in war — no plan can be 
deemed absolutely safe ; and to reconnoitre the defence and 
strength of the garrison first, and then to draw up a scheme of 
attack, was but a loss of valuable time. 

The sovereigns were against attack on the 26th, on hearing 

Napoleon's arrival ; but the orders issued then were too late, 
for Schwarzenberg, having gone so far, was reluctant to with- 
draw without giving battle. 

Napoleon's earliest intention was to have crossed at Konigs- 
tein, and fallen upon the enemy's flank and rear; but on 
Gourgaud's reporting that Dresden was in actual danger, the 
plan was modified ; and while Vandamme was sent with 
35,000 men on Konigstein and Pirna on the 26th, the re- 
mainder were hurried to the city. 

It was the first and last instance in the Emperor's career of 
attacking a superior enemy on both wings ; but by it the Allies 
were cut off from some of their roads of retreat. 

The pursuit was indifferent. Napoleon's own indisposition, 
and the astounding intelligence of Macdonald's defeat on the 
Katzbach, led to a feeling of irresolution and indecision ; 
and thus Vandamme, advancing from Pirna, was left without 

Meanwhile other blows were struck by the Allies, which 
tended to neutralise the value of the victory. 

Napoleon's original plan had been to concentrate the 1st, 
2d, 3d, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 11th corps, with the Guards and 
cavalry, for a general action in Silesia ; while the 4th, 7th, and 
12th corps advanced on Berlin. 

The advance of the Allies from Bohemia had necessitated 
an alteration in this first plan ; but, while a portion of the 
Silesian army was withdrawn to Dresden, Blucher had ad- 
vanced against Macdonald, and defeated him on the Katzbach 
on the 26th August ; and on the 29th and 30th, Vandamme, in 
pursuit of Schwarzenberg, from Pirna, was routed at Kulm on 
the Toplitz road. On the 23d August, Oudinot, advancing 


from Wittenburg on Berlin, was also defeated by Bernadotte 
at Gross Beeren, and driven back. After the battle of Dresden, 
Ney took command of this Army of the North; and while mov- 
ing to Baruth, where he was to be joined by Napoleon, either 
with a view of moving on Berlin or operating against Blucher's 
flank if he pursued Macdonald, he was defeated by Bernadotte 
at Dennewitz, and retreated to Torgau. 

In September both Blucber and Schwarzenberg again advanced, but 
retreated when Napoleon took the offensive against each successively. 
Key was behind Wittenburg and Torgau, with the corps of Bertrand, 
Beynier, and Sebastiani's cavalry ; Marmont, with the cavalry of Latour 
at Meissen ; the rest of the army at Dresden. The Allies intended now 
to unite the armies of Blucher and Bernadotte ; and, crossing the Elbe, 
to advance on Leipzig, while Schwarzenberg advanced by the Chemnitz 
road on the same point. On the 23d, Beningsen, with 50,000 reserves, 
arrived from Poland, and the armies marched. 

Blucher moved on the junction of the Elster and Elbe, crossing at 
"Wartenberg on the 3d, though Bertrand tried to arrest him. Bernadotte 
passed the Elbe at Rosslau. Victor and Poniatowski, observing Bohemia, 
also reported the advance of strong columns from Zwickau and Chemnitz. 

Marmont and Latour were sent to Ney ; St Cyr remained at Dresden ; 
Lobau at Pima ; Victor and Poniatowski, with the cavalry of Pajol 
and Kellerman, were placed under Murat to check the Austrians, and 
fell back on Leipzig, where Augereau, from Wiirzburg, was ordered to 
join him ; Macdonald, Souham, and the Guard under Napoleon marched 
for Eilenberg on the Miilde to attack Blucher. 

He failed to check the enemy's advance ; and partly, perhaps, because 
of the defection of the Bavarians, on the 12th October, whereby their 
army, as well as that of the Austrians which watched them, woidd be free 
to operate against him, and partly because of the pressure of Schwarzen- 
berg's advance, he countermarched to Leipzig. 

Thus, early on the 16th October, the 2d, 5th, and 8th corps (Augereau), 
with the 3d corps of cavalry, were at Leipzig; 4th corps (Bertrand), 
Lindenau, on the left bank of the Elster ; 6th corps (Marmont), Lin- 
denthal, on the north of the city ; 3d and 7th corps on the march from 
Eilenberg ; the Guards, as reserve, were in rear of the centre. 

The Allies were also concentrating on the city. 

Schwarzenberg was before it with 160,000 men ; Blucher, with 60,000, 
was on the march from Halle ; Bernadotte, with 6000, advancing from 
Cothen ; Beningsen and Colloredo, with 60,000, were called up from 

Then ensued the battles round Leipzig — at AVachau on the south, and 
at Lindenthal on the north. The Austrian main army and Blucher's 
Prussians engaged the French on the 16th. On the 17th the armies of 
the Allies being reinforced by Colloredo, Beningsen, and Bernadotte, and 

DRESDEN, 1813. 169 

Napoleon by Beynier, rested in presence ; and the general battle round 
Leipzig on the 18th, resulted in the decision on the part of Napoleon to 
retreat. During the night this was carried out in the greatest confusion. 
The following day the victorious armies pushed on, and in a panic the 
bridges were blown up, so that the corps of Poniatowski, Lauriston, and 
Macdonald were cut off from the main army. Of the three generals only 
the latter escaped. 

The French army, reduced to 80,000 men, retreated by Erfurt on 
Mayence, Bertrand being with about 10,000 men at Weissenfels, whence 
he moved on the defile of Kosen, near Naumburg, to hold the bridge there. 
De York and Gyulai were sent in pursuit — the former, going round by 
Halle, came up with the rear of the main army, which had crossed at 
Weissenfels, near Freiburg, and with Bertrand at Kosen, where skirmishes 

The forces at Leipzig, after a rest of two days, again advanced, — 
Schwarzenberg, by Zeitz and Jena on Weimar ; Blucher and Langeron 
followed De York, and then by Freiburg on Langensalza ; Bernadotte 
and Beningsen by Liitzen and Merseburg ; Klenau returned to Dresden. 

In the meantime, the newly-allied forces of Bavarians and Austrians 
had crossed the Danube at Donauwerth on the 19th, and moving to bom- 
bard Wiirzburg on the 22d, had pushed their advanced-guard to Hanau, 
where they were defeated by Napoleon on the 30th October ; and on 
the 2d November, the French army, reduced to 60,000, was at Mayence. 

Bertrand, left to defend the position at Hockheim, on the right bank 
of the Bhine, was attacked by the Austrians on the 9th November, and 
the place stormed. 

This was the last act in the campaign of 1813. 

Napoleon left Macdonald at Cologne to organise the defence of the 
Lower Bhine ; Marmont at Mayence ; Victor at Strassburg, for the 
upper course of the stream ; and Kellerman at Metz, forming a reserve : 
he himself proceeding to Paris, arrived there on the 9th November. 

Bernadotte, after a short rest, moved against Davoust and the Danes on 
4th December ; but the former escaped to Hamburg, leaving his allies to 
their fate, and they were obliged to sue for peace and join the Confed- 
eration. Holland was freed from her foreign yoke in December, with 
the exception of Hamburg, which remained in Davoust's possession till 
the restoration, during which time he was blockaded by Beningsen. 
Dantzig (Rapp) fell on the 30th November ; Stettin on the 21st De- 
cember ; Torgau on the 26th ; Erfurt on the 20th (though the garrison 
retired to the fortress of St Petersburg) ; Zamoszth on the 22d ; Modlin 
a little latter. Only Wittenburg and Magdeburg remained in French 
hands, and were blockaded by Tauenzein. Custrin surrendered on 7th 
March, and Glogau was not given over till the occupation of Paris. At 
the end of the year Dresden (St Cyr) surrendered to Klenau and 
Tolstoi ; and on the 19th December, the Duke of Cambridge took posses- 
sion of Hanover. 

Thus, practically, the year closed with the restoration to their origi- 
nal possessors of the results of the French victories in the previous 


campaigns, and the famous Confederation of the Rhine was formally 

In Italy, the army of the Viceroy had engaged the enemy indecisively, 
and his left flank being threatened by the Austrian reoccupation of the 
Tyrol, he withdrew behind the Adige, to Verona. 

In the south of France the British force had gained French soil, and 
after the battles of the Xive, were resting in cantonments in the country 
south of the Adour. 

Along the Rhine, the Austrians watched the upper sources, the Prus- 
sians the lower stream, and Bernadotte the Netherlands. 



MONTMIRAIL, &c. 1814. 

Introduction.— The Allied armies were watching the right bank of the 
Rhine from the Alps to the sea. The army of Schwarzenberg, extending 
from Basle to Frankfurt, numbered 160,000, and consisted of Austrians, 
Russians, Prussians, and Bavarians. That of Blucher, 60,000, carried on 
the chain to the Netherlands, and was composed of Prussians, Russians, 
Hessians, and Badeners. The continuation of the war was decreed until 
France was circumscribed within the limits of 1790. 

Napoleon had delayed to accept the Frankfurt propositions of peace 
offered him on November 9th, and had given Europe time to reflect 
till December 1813. England turned the balance, thanks to the influ- 
ence obtained by Spanish victories and her maritime power. 

The general plan adopted, after dangerous discussions, was that Blucher, 
with the corps of York, Sacken, and Langeron, the Wurtembergers and 
Badeners, 60,000 strong, should cross the Rhine between Coblenz and 
Mayence, and should advance among the French fortresses. In the first 
line were Coblenz, Mayence, Landau, Strassburg ; and in the second 
line, Mezieres, Montmedy, Thionville, Metz. At the same time, the 
Grand Army, 160,000 in number, should move to Basle, and cross the 
Rhine there, turning the French defences by penetrating through Befort 
and Langres. The Bavarians were therefore directed on Befort, the 
Austrians on Besancon, and Blucher waited near Mayence until the 
detours were completed. French territory was entered in December 

Napoleon was taken unawares, and did not expect a winter campaign. 
He now perceived that war to extremity was intended, and prepared to 
defend the country with the remnants of the Leipzig army. 

The invasion of France was hence effected at three points. 

On the 20th December 1813, Schwarzenberg with six Aus- 
trian columns had crossed the frontier between Basle and 
Schaff hausen through the Jura ; Blucher crossed the Bhine in 


three columns on the 31st December at Mannheim, Caub, and 
Coblenz; Bernadotte, with the corps of Bulow and Winzin- 
gerode (Prussian and Eussian), which had been expelling the 
French from Holland, was moving via Belgium ; but his attack 
was not immediately dangerous, and his forces are not in- 
cluded in the following estimate of strength. 

Though the Allies numbered 260,000 combatants, only 
150,000 were available for these operations, for large deduc- 
tions had to be made for the blockade of the fortresses still 
held by the French in Germany, and 50,000 were in reserve at 
Basle under Barclay de Tolly. A proclamation was issued as 
the armies passed the frontier, and in it was declared the 
desire of the Allies not to make war on the French nation, but 
that "their only conquest shall be that of peace — a peace that 
shall give permanent repose to France and the whole of Europe." 

The French force, in order to conceal their actual weakness 
from the Allies, had been disposed along the course of the 
Ehine from Basle to Diisseldorf. It was necessary to concen- 
trate them for action ; and, as the line of the Ehine could not 
possibly be held, the several corps under Ney, Victor, and 
Marmont were ordered to fall back on the line of the Vosges 
mountains, whilst the divisions further north were directed 
upon Chalons. 

But the marshals constantly found their positions outflanked 
by Blucher's and Schwarzenberg's vigorous advance, and were 
consequently obliged to fall back eventually upon Bar-sur- 
Aube, Verdun, and Chalons. 

Here, by order of the Emperor, the armies were to stand 
firm, and on the 22d the Prince de Neufchatel arrived. Thus 
the provinces of Alsace, Lorraine, and Franche Comte had 
been occupied almost without firing a shot. Napoleon arrived 
at Chalons on the 24th January. 

The public feeling in France was similar in many respects 
to what it is now — that is to say, it was not altogether in his fa- 
vour, but the invasion sufficed to call forth patriotic resistance. 

Of all his enemies, Prussia was now the most inveterate, 
recollecting the humiliation of 1806 and subsequent years. 

The French armies were composed of some old soldiers and 
veterans from the south, but by far the greater part were new 

MONTMIUAIL, ETC., 1814. 173 

levies or men of the National Garde. Their confidence in the 
Emperor was, however, unbounded, and this confidence ren- 
dered his troops much more formidable than they otherwise 
would have been. The material of the army had been greatly 
impaired by recent defeats, requiring all the Emperor's mar- 
vellous activity to repair it. 

The Eussians were the best of the Allied troops, after them 
the Prussians, and then the other Germans and Austrians. 

Schwarzenberg had general command of the armies, con- 
trolled by the sovereigns present — viz., the Emperors of Eussia 
and Austria, and the King of Prussia. 

Under his immediate orders were the Army of Bohemia, 
composed of Eussian and Prussian Guards, one Eussian and 
four German corps, partly Bavarians and Wurtembergers, but 
mostly Austrian soldiers. 

Blucher commanded the Army of Silesia, made up of 
Eussian and Prussian troops ; he was subordinate to Schwar- 
zenberg and the sovereigns. 

The command was thus exposed to the weakness of all 
allied operations, that of division. 

It is unnecessary to comment upon the military character 
of Napoleon — it was, as is well known, infinitely superior to 
that of the Allied leaders. 

Schwarzenberg was naturally hesitating, more methodical 
than energetic, and keenly alive to responsibility; as a strate- 
gist, incapable, and, while prone to dissemination of force, was 
slow in the execution of his plans. 

Blucher was of a different character. His influence on the 
Prussian soldiers was already great. Though old, he was 
possessed of marvellous energy. Though uneducated profes- 
sionally, he was a thorough soldier, full of energy and daring. 
Though ignorant of the higher principles of military science, 
he was fully aware of their importance ; and in such matters 
alone, placed himself entirely in the hands of his staff, repre- 
sented by Gneisenau and Muffling. 

The territory which formed -the theatre of these operations 
extends from Paris, as the western extremity, to the Vosges 
mountains in the east, and is of a very varied character, inter- 
sected by considerable rivers which play a principal part in 


these operations. Immediately west of the Vosges is the 
Moselle, arching round the mountains, and eventually flowing 
into the Ehine. On its banks are Epinal, Toul, Metz, Thion- 
ville, and Treves. The line of this river was turned by the 
sweeping operations of Schwarzenberg, and therefore not de- 
fensible ; but the fortresses on its banks, as also Strasbourg and 
Mayence, remained in French hands. 

Proceeding westwards is the river Meuse, which forms the 
next hue of defence to an invading army. Rising on the pla- 
teau of Langres, it flows north in a narrow valley through the 
forests of Argonnes and the Ardennes, and so through Belgium 
into the Ehine near its main estuary. On or near its banks 
were the important places of Neufchateau, Verdun, Mezieres, 
Namur, and Liege. 

Westward from this river the nature of the country changes. 
Hitherto the rivers have run generally north and south ; now, 
as far as Paris, their course is rather from east to west. They 
are six in number, all important tributaries of the Seine, and 
all formidable military obstacles. Commencing from the 
north, the Oise, running south-west into the Seine below 
Paris, is joined, about thirty miles north-east of the capital, by 
the Aisne, which, rising in the Argonnes, flows about north- 
west. On its banks are St Menehould, Grandpre, Eethel, 
Soissons, Bery-au-bac, the main roads crossing at the last 
two places, and it enters the Oise near Compiegne. 

Parallel to this, and twenty miles south of it, is the Marne, 
rising in the mountains of the Meuse, which separate the basins 
of the Meuse and Seine, and running in a wide curve to unite 
with the latter above Paris. On it, or near it, are Langres, 
Chaumont, Joinville, St Dizier, Vitry, Chalons, Epernay, Cha- 
teau-Thierry, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, Trilport, and Meaux. 
Thirty miles south of this again runs the Aube, uniting with 
the Seine at Pont-sur-Seine, and receiving, thirty miles further 
down, the Yonne, which, like the Seine up to this point, runs 
north-west: from Montereau, where the Yonne enters the main 
stream, the Seine flows north-west through Paris. 

On the Aube are Bar, Brienne, Arcis ; on the Seine, Troyes, 
Mery, Nogent, Bray, Montereau, Melun, and Paris; on the 
Yonne, Sens and Pont-sur- Yonne. 

MONTMIEAIL, ETC., 1814. 175 

This area is well intersected by roads— both lateral, converg- 
ing on Paris, and transverse. 

Of the former there are three of primary importance : — 

1. From Basle to Paris through Befort, Langres, and Chau- 
mont, crossing the Aube at Dolancourt, the Seine at Troyes 
and Nogent, and so through Provins, Nangis, Guignes to the 

2. From Strassburg by St Dizier, across the Marne at Vitry, 
through Sommesous, Fere Champenoise, Sezanne, La Ferte- 
Gaucher, and, crossing the Marne above Paris, enters it by 
the right bank. 

3. From Mayence and Mannheim through Metz (Moselle), 
Verdun (Meuse), Chalons (Marne), then by the south bank 
through Epernay to Chateau-Thierry, where it crosses the 
river : then by La Ferte-sous-Jouarre to its south bank ; then 
by Trilport to the right bank; and then twice across the 
Ourcq Canal to the north of Paris. On this road, therefore, 
there were many obstacles to cross. 

There was yet another main road leading from Brussels or 
Namur through Laon to Paris or Chalons, thus running about 

Of these the most important were those from Basle to Paris, 
and from Metz-Chalons to Paris, and these would not be 
available for combined operation, unseparated by the promi- 
nent obstacles offered by the river line, until they reached, the 
one, Ferte'-sous-Jouarre, the other Provins, offering thus facil- 
ities for excellent combinations to the defensive commanders. 
The transverse roads were : 1st, from Chalons through Vitry 
to St Dizier, Joinville, Chaumont ; 2d, from Vitry by Brienne 
to Bar-sur-Aube ; 3d, from Chalons by Sommesous and Arcis 
to Troyes ; 4th, from Nogent by Se'zanne, to Chateau-Thierry 
by Montmirail, and Champaubert to Epernay ; 5th, from Ferte- 
sous-Jouarre through Ferte -Gaucher to Provins; 6th, from 
Guignes to Meaux and Ligny. All these run north and south, 
and are generally fair roads, available for all arms at all sea- 
sons, with the exception of four or five in bad weather. There 
are country roads, of course, in addition ; but at that time of 
year they were only available for light troops, the large masses 
of artillery and train being confined to the made roads. 


To oppose the invasion Napoleon had for active operations 
the four corps of Ney, Marmont, Victor, and Macdonald, with 
the Guard under Mortier and Oudinot, numbering about 
70,000 infantry, 17,000 cavalry, and many guns. His reserves 
came from Paris and the Pyrenees. 

His first general disposition was that Mortier was to bar 
the Langres road, Ney that from Nancy, Victor to hold the 
Vosges against the Austrians, Marmont to check Blucher, 
Macdonald to watch Belgium, and Augereau at Lyons to 
unite with the army in the Pyrenees, now confronted by the 

Thus, on the 25th January, the Austrian line extended from 
Bar to Joinville, where it was joined by Sacken, the left of 
Blucher's army. 

The French had retreated before them, Victor having joined 
Ney and Marmont at Nancy, whence they had fallen back by 
St Dizier on Vitry. Macdonald retired before Winzingerode, 
who was advancing by Diisseldorf, Namur, and Avesnes on 
Laon, to Chalons. 

The operations may be well divided into periods, the first 
of which relates to those about Brienne, extending from the 
27th January to 5th February. Leading the troops from 
Chalons and Vitry, Napoleon first moved to St Dizier, where 
he arrived early on the 27th. 

His force under Ney, Victor, and Marmont amounted to 
45,000; Mortier was at Troyes with 30,000; Macdonald was 
on the march from Liege and Namur on Chalons with 10,000 ; 
but these last are not concerned in the present operation. 

The Allied corps about to be involved were strewed over a 
large tract of country — from Chatillon-sur-Seine to Nancy, on 
the Meurthe and the Moselle. 

Blucher, with Sacken and Olsuvief, . . 30,000 at Brienne. 

3d Austrian Corps, . Gyulai, . . . 11,000 „ Bar-sur-Aube. 

4thdo.andWurtem-) princeofWiirtemberg> 11?000 >? 

bergers, ) 

5th Corps, . . Wrede, . . . 27,500 „ Neufchateau. 

6th Corps, . . . Wittgenstein, . . 18,500 „ Nancy. 

Reserve, 25,000 „ Langres. 

1st Corps, . . Colloredo, . . 25,000 { ^j^** 

MONTMIEAIL, ETC., 1814. 177 

These corps (with the exception of Blucher) numbered 
117,000 men, and formed the Grand Army under Sehwar- 
zenberg moving for Troyes, the fortresses in rear being 
blockaded by other troops. 

The general objective of the Allies was Paris. Napoleon's 
plan was to march from St Dizier, to fall upon the head of 
Blucher's columns moving from Toul independently of Schwar- 
zenberg (who was supposed to be sixty miles off at Langres) ; 
to defeat and throw back Blucher towards the Moselle ; and 
then, moving rapidly up the valley of the Marne or Aube, to 
surprise S ch war zenb erg's corps in their cantonments and defeat 
them separately, aided by Mortier from Troyes. 

The plan was able and well conceived, but it was essential 
to reach St Dizier in time to interpose between the two armies 
— i.e., to strike the leading corps of Blucher ; otherwise that 
corps, which was beyond interception, would alarm the Grand 
Army by falling back upon it, giving it thus time to concen- 
trate in rear. 

Napoleon was too late. Blucher was already at Brienne, 
having crossed two days before, York following two days in 

What was to be done? To turn against York eastwards 
was to go out of his way. It were better to follow Blucher to 
Brienne, in hopes of striking before Schwarzenberg could sup- 
port him, and, securing the passage of the Aube at Lesmont, 
to place himself centrally between Chalons and Troyes. 

This course was decided on. Marmont was left at St Dizier 
to meet York, with orders not to move until the afternoon of 
the next day. 

Napoleon reached Montierender on the 28th, and on the 
29th, Brienne, by a wretched road. Mortier should have been 
informed on the 28th, and ordered to support the Emperor ; 
but the officer was taken by the Cossacks, and Blucher thus 

He called in his detachments and formed at Maizieres, 
determined not to attack, but to retreat upon Bar-sur-Aube. 
The head of Napoleon's column reached Maizieres at 8 a.m., 
the tail at 4 p.m., and formed three columns of attack. The 
right column was successful, and the castle was seized. 



Blucher retired the morning of the 30th to the heights of 
Trannes, seven or eight miles south of Brienne. 

Napoleon followed, and camped before the enemy, repairing 
the bridge at Lesmont which Blucher had destroyed. 

They remained thus until February 1st, both receiving rein- 

Schwarzenberg, hearing of the movements, suspended his 
advance to Troyes, and drew his corps together about Bar- 
sur-Aube. Colloredo and Wittgenstein were too far off to 
join in this concentration. 

Napoleon was not strong enough to attack Blucher, had 
nothing to gain by staying in front of him inactive while his 
opponents were concentrating, and it was difficult then to 
retire without loss. The delay is accounted for by some by 
the repair of the bridge at Lesmont, which might have been 
completed by the 30th ; but he was probably waiting for some 
chance to turn up in his favour. 

Marmont arrived on the 31st, and formed on the French 
left at right angles. 

He numbered 42,000 men, but the position was bad ; and 
Napoleon had made up his mind to retire on the 1st Februaiy, 
the Allies preparing to attack him on that day. 

The execution of this was put off till mid-day, partly owing 
to the hope that Napoleon would attack, partly to weather, 
partly to awaiting Wrede. 

The weather was severe, and the rain and snow added to the 
difficulty of the attack. 

At noon Blucher advanced, the distance to the French 
front being four miles, and at 3 P.M. was before the French out- 
posts, which were pushed in; but in consequence of the state 
of the roads it was very difficult to bring up the guns. 

The French were posted in Dienville, La Rothiere, Petit 
Mesnil, and La Giberie, and hard fighting ensued, resulting in 
the retention of Dienville, which was strongly occupied, and 
held ; but the others were carried by the Allies, and Marmont 
was beaten on the left. 

The position of the French was desperate, but Napoleon 
effected his retreat, covered by the cavalry and the Guard, be- 
tween Aube and the forest of Ajou — which, under the circum- 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 179 

stances, were very favourable to the French. The Allies did 
not pursue, owing to the darkness, and the difficulty of moving 
troops of different nations. 

Their loss amounted to about 5000 men, and that of Napo- 
leon to 6000 and 70 guns. 

The moral effect of the defeat was not serious, as the sol- 
diers were proud of having fought against such odds as 
110,000 men to their small force. 

Such was the battle of La Eothiere, in which was displayed 
bad generalship on both sides. 

It ought not to have been fought by Napoleon, whose dis- 
positions were so indifferent that he was fortunate to retreat 
as he did. 

The Allies attacked too late, waiting for the development of 
the flank attack ; they should, on the contrary, have attacked 
at once. 

Blucher's dispositions were bad ; and the absence of all pur- 
suit, when the French had two rivers to cross in retreat, the 
Aube and the Voire, at Eosnay, rendered the victory of little 

The retreat was continued through the night by the French, 
and the Allies followed at 8 a.m. on the 2d February, when 
Marmont was retiring by Eosnay, and Napoleon by Lesmont ; 
the forces under Wrede moved on Eosnay, and Gyulai, with 
Wiirtemberg, on Lesmont in pursuit. 

The Allies reached Lesmont in the afternoon, and Ney, who 
was halting there, on their approach retired to the left bank 
of the Aube, destroying the bridge, and occupying the houses 
with sharpshooters, whose fire rendered its re-establishment 
difficult. At night Ney followed Napoleon to Troyes. 

Marmont was equally successful at Eosnay, falling back by 
Dommartin to Arcis, destroying the bridge over the Aube, and 
making for Mery-sur- Seine, where he would be in communi- 
cation with Napoleon. 

At a council of war, held on February 2d, it was resolved 
that the pursuit of the defeated enemy should be carried on 
by the Grand Army ; while Blucher should lead the forces he 
commanded at La Eothiere to the Marne, where he would be 
joined by York, Kleist, and Kapzewitz. 


Of these York had been detached to surprise Metz, but 
had failed; while the last two generals had been relieved 
from blockading fortresses, and pushed on to the front. 

Blucher moved away on the 2d February by Kosnay to 
Chalons, where he was joined by York, who had driven off 
Macdonald on the 5th. 

On the other side there was delay in crossing the Aube 
owing to the destruction of the bridge at Lesmont. 

The 3d and 4th corps moved back to Dienville, reserve 
corps to Dolancourt, moving thence by Vaudceuvres on Troyes 
following Colloredo, who had never passed the Aube at all, 
and now formed the advance of the Grand Army. 

On the 5th, Schwarzenberg ordered a general movement to 
the left, to threaten Napoleon's retreat. 

This affected Wittgenstein, who was to have maintained 
communication between Blucher and the Grand Army. 

The information of Napoleon's movement on St Dizier 
reached Blucher, at Brienne, on the 27th January ; Schwar- 
zenberg being at Chaumont on the 28th. Schwarzenberg's 
orders tended to a concentration at Bar-le-Duc, and at Join- 
ville : at Bar-le-Duc, in case the purpose of the Emperor 
should be to fall upon the Grand Army ; at Joinville, in order 
to protect York at Nancy. 

In each instance the dispositions evince that the earliest 
thought of the Austrian general was essentially turned to- 
wards defensive measures, superior though he was in force. 

Nothing could illustrate in better light the extraordinary 
ascendancy which Napoleon exercised over his adversaries in 
the field. 

"With a keener insight into the situation, Schwarzenberg 
would have supported Blucher at once at Brienne, recognising 
the importance of that post. Indeed the possession of Brienne 
was essential to the Emperor's safety in these operations. 

It will be recollected that Mortier was at Troyes, Macdonald 
at Chalons. The road connecting these two towns on the 
Marne and the Seine passes through Arcis-sur-Aube ; and in 
order to gain this road in case of reverse or retreat, it was 
essential that Napoleon should keep the passage of the Aube 
open at Lesmont, which he could only do by holding Brienne ; 

MONTMIKAIL, ETC., 1814. 181 

otherwise he would necessarily fall back by inferior roads 
across the Voire, leaving the shorter march to Arcis to his 
adversaries moving by Lesmont, who would thus sever his 
communication with Mortier, for the time at least, and gain 
ground. Blucher might probably have held Brienne had he 
earnestly so proposed ; but he was reluctant to risk defeat 
with ample reinforcements close at hand ; and the action was 
fought by him principally to cover Sacken's retreat, as well 
as to give time for Schwarzenberg to concentrate. 

On the whole, it would seem that the strategic importance 
of Brienne was barely recognised by either of the Allied com- 
manders. However, it was due in great measure to his pos- 
session of the passages of the Aube and the Voire that 
Napoleon remained so long in position before the heights of 
Trannes — long enough to become involved in a very disadvan- 
tageous action. 

In this battle may be remarked the extreme influence of 
flanking attack, and the corresponding disadvantage of a rect- 
angular line of battle. Nothing but the early close of the 
day saved Napoleon from signal defeat. Under these circum- 
stances the value of night marches for purposes of retreat will be 
borne in mind ; and that in order to master the purpose, Napo- 
leon deemed it advisable to organise a general attack with his 
cavalry and reserves. It will be seen further that, provided 
passages suffice for the troops, rivers are far from disadvan- 
tageous, presuming that order is maintained in retreat, for 
they check the enemy's pursuit and afford time to the retir- 
ing force. 

It will be noticed that Wrede, who was ordered, after 
Brienne, to Vassy and Montierender, did not act upon these 
instructions, but marched to the battle-field when his action 
proved of essential service, and credit is probably due to him. 

Throughout these first operations the purpose of the Allies 
was apparently simply to march on Paris, warding off such 
blows as might be aimed at them during this march. The 
principle seems not to have been sufficiently appreciated, that 
the shortest road to the capital of any enemy is by the de- 
struction of his military forces. Determined offensive action 
here might have brought matters to a much earlier conclusion. 


The second phase of the campaign begins on the 6th of 
February, after an interval of four days. 

Napoleon left Troyes by Nogent for Sezanne, which he 
reached on the 7th ; and the Grand Army entered Troyes on 
the 7th, but did not advance at once. 

Blucher, joining York at Chalons, marched thence for. Paris 
on the 8th. 

During this march he was attacked and repeatedly defeated 
in brilliant actions, and eventually forced back to Chalons. 

Then the Emperor turned against the Grand Army, which 
had crossed the Seine and advanced as far as Nangis ; but 
hearing of Blucher's disasters, was about to retire on Troyes. 

No great victory was gained against it by the Emperor, 
and the period closes with the action at Montereau, 18th 

It had been arranged at Brienne on February 2d, that the 
armies should move by different routes, as difficulty of subsist- 
ence was apprehended. 

Each army was strong enough to defend itself; Blucher with 
York, Kleist, and Kapzewitz, amounting to 50,000, was at 

The Grand Army, six corps, including "Wittgenstein, was to 
move upon Troyes. 

It had been arranged that Wittgenstein should march with 
a large force of Cossacks on the right of the Aube ; but 
Schwarzenberg's manoeuvre to turn Troyes altered this, and 
he and Leslawin were consequently withdrawn to the left 
bank on the 5th February, no intimation being given to 
Blucher, whose left flank was thus uncovered without his 

As communication between Blucher and the Grand Army 
was to be maintained by troops belonging to the latter, this 
accounts for Wittgenstein's want of responsibility to Blucher. 
The French retreating to Troyes had destroyed the bridge at 
Arcis, indicating that the line from Chalons to Troyes was 
about to be abandoned, as it was too extensive, and a better 
one existed in rear on the line Nogent-Champaubert. The 
news of Blucher's separation and advance had induced him to 
leave Troyes on the 5th. 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 183 

The main passages of Seine were at Nogent and Montereau, 
between the confluence of the Aube and Yonne, the inter- 
mediate passage at Bray being destroyed, and field-works 
erected for the defence of the river. The troops on the right 
bank of the Seine, and on the Yonne, numbering altogether 
from 30,000 to 35,000 men, were under Victor and Marmont ; 
Oudinot was at Provins ; and all were independent of each 
other, but instructed to support each other in case of need. 
With 35,000 to 40,000 troops, Napoleon* proposed to 
march to the Marne and unite with Macdonald, retiring from 
Chalons upon Paris. He reached Sezanne on the evening of 
the 9th, the roads being exceedingly bad, and the march 

Turning to Blucher, we find that the passage of the Marne 
was re-established on the 7th, and he moved on the 8th, 
Sacken and Olsuvief being between Chalons and Bergeres. 

Macdonald w T as retreating along the main road with a large 
convoy of stores. 

Kleist and Kapzewitz, two marches off, could reach Bergeres 
on the 7 th. 

It was thought that by using the by-road it would be pos- 
sible to anticipate Macdonald at Ferte-sous-Jouarre. 

York was to remain in Macdonald's rear, on the main road; 
Sacken to move direct on La Ferte ; — Blucher with Olsuvief 
between Sacken, and Kleist, and Kapzewitz, altogether amount- 
ing to 53,000 men. 

On the evening of the 9th, Sacken reached Montmirail, and 
York, Dormans (nine miles from Chateau-Thierry). 

Headquarters were at Etages, Olsuvief at Champaubert, 
the others at Bergeres. 

The order of march was straggling, and the flank uncovered, 
the troops moving under an evident sense of security, intent 
only upon Macdonald's corps. He was on the 6th at Epernay ; 
7th, at Dormans and Crezancy. 

From these points he detached Molitor and Excelmans to 
cross the Marne at La Ferte and take post on the Montmirail 
road, in order to guard against the Prussian purpose. 

* Guard under Ney ; 1st and 2d corps ; the troops of Marmont and 
Mortier, cavalry of the Guard, Bonlesoullc and St German. 


During the 8th the retreat continued with some fighting, 
and the bridge was destroyed at Chateau-Thierry. 

On the 9th he reached La Ferte, and being reinforced, crossed 
the Marne, and beat off an attack of Sacken's advanced-guard. 

On the 10th Macdonald continued to retreat upon Trilport, 
blowing up the bridge at La Ferte while in action with 
Sacken ; and recrossing the Marne at Trilport, he broke the 
bridge and reached Meaux in safety, where there were 8000 
National Guards. 

The Prussian plan had been altogether a failure ; the only 
result was that their line stretched from La Ferte to Chalons, 
sixty miles, and in no one place were 20,000 men. 

Sacken's Cossacks, by way of precaution, had been pushed 
to Sezanne, where on the 9th they were forced back, but not 
much importance was attached to their report. 

At the same time Blucher was ordered to detach Kleist to 
support Wittgenstein, between the Aube and the Seine, and 
was informed that the Grand Army was about to move by 
Sens on Fontainebleau. 

The first intimation of the character of the French advance 
was received by Blucher late on the 9th ; Sacken was ordered 
to halt at Montmirail, York at Chateau-Thierry — the former 
was verbally instructed to watch the importance of the move- 
ment on the left flank. 

On the 10th, the French, coming from Sezanne, marched on 
Champaubert, engaged the Eussians at Baye and Banny. In 
the action that ensued, Olsuvief's force was dispersed and 
himself taken prisoner ; the remnants of his corps joining 
Blucher at Bergeres. Macdonald was informed of the move- 
ment, and ordered to endeavour to co-operate, and Napoleon 
was thus established in the middle of Blucher's line. 

No further French movements were made that day, but, 
leaving Marmont with 16,000 at Etages, on the 11th Napoleon 
turned towards Montmirail, his object being to defeat Sacken 
and unite with Macdonald. 

York's orders were to use his own discretion in details, and 
at the same time to endeavour with Sacken to reach Bergeres ; 
but he and Sacken were not agreed as to the best course. 
Sacken was for breaking through, York for retreating; and 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 185 

thus, at a critical moment, want of concert existed between 
the commanders. Both moved on the 11th towards Mont- 
mirail, four miles from which the roads meet at Marchais. 
Thus Napoleon, Sacken, and York were marching at the same 
time on the same point, but the latter had bad roads to tra- 
verse ; the French arrived first and took position at Marchais. 
About 10 A.M. Sacken arrived and made dispositions to 
attack, though York had informed him that he could not 
arrive early. Napoleon temporised, waiting for Mortier, and 
then turned against Sacken, beat him badly, and interposed 
between him and York, who arrived, however, in time to save 
him, and Sacken eventually gained the Chateau-Thierry road. 
The Prussians were not engaged to any extent ; for while 
Sacken was too rash, York, on the other hand, was far too 

During the night, York and Sacken were ordered to cross 
the Marne and retreat by Eheims on Chalons, which was 
appointed as a general rendezvous ; and they retired accord- 
ingly on the 12th, pursued by the French, their loss in the 
battle having been 6000 men. 

On February 11th Blucher was motionless at Bergeres 
expecting attack, and during the day became aware that 
Napoleon had turned against Sacken. He had heard that 
Sacken purposed attack, and York retreat— thus holding dif- 
ferent views ; and he should therefore have moved, in order 
possibly to assist his lieutenants ; but he remained still on 
the 12th waiting for cavalry. On the 13th these regiments 
came up. 

Meanwhile Napoleon had beaten York and Sacken on the 
11th and 12th, and was free to meet Blucher. 

On the 1 2th, Marmont fell back before the Allies, west of 
Champaubert, where Blucher halted. 

The advance was continued on the 14th. Vauchamps was 
held with obstinacy, but was at length carried. Beyond it 
the French were now in force, and it was soon evident that 
Napoleon was himself in the field. At mid-day he assumed 
the offensive, and Vauchamps was retaken, after which the 
Allies retreated, Napoleon's attempt to envelop them with 
cavalry failing through their steady bearing. Champaubert 


was reached, and the headquarters halted at Bergeres. A 
night attack was carried out at Etages ; the loss of the Allies 
being 6000 men and 14 guns. Thus in five days the army 
of Silesia suffered the loss of at least 12,000, and some say 
28,000 men, inflicted by an army of 35,000 strong. 

Napoleon's generalship in this operation must be counted 
among his first feats. As usual, no doubt it has been 
frequently exaggerated, by some writers, who give him credit 
for power of divination. 

He was compelled to move on the Marne in order to pro- 
tect Paris, though where he would find Blucher he hardly 
knew. The operation was decided on when leaving Troyes, 
Blucher being still at Chalons. 

Blucher resumed operations on the 8th, and Napoleon 
reached Sezanne on the 9th; but Blucher might have com- 
menced earlier, and had he communicated properly with 
York, he need not have gone to Chalons at all. Napoleon, 
moving for Sezanne, took the best chance of surprising 
and checking his enemy. It was the shortest road to the 
Marne, where he was likely to find him. 

When he had done so, he appreciated his position with 
wonderful readiness, and herein lies the real merit of his plan. 

From Sezanne he had the choice of advancing upon Mont- 
mirail or Champaubert, but he could know nothing about his 
enemy until collision had occurred, and this necessarily 
carried him to the latter place. 

His disposition for attacking Sacken and York and contain- 
ing Blucher were sound. These two were between him and 
Macdonald, and already moving on Paris, but the latter had 
destroyed the bridge at Trilport. The difficulty was to apportion 
Marmont's force, and this delay against Sacken does not seem 
sufficiently notified ; for in waiting for Mortier, before attack- 
ing, he but lost time, inasmuch as that general was sure to 
arrive during the action, and York might meanwhile have 
reinforced Sacken in a very disagreeable manner. His pursuit 
to Chateau-Thierry and no further was right. To have crossed 
the Marne would have led him too far, and it was essential to 
strike Blucher himself before returning to the Seine, whither 
he knew he must go. 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 187 

The weather and the fatigue of his troops seems to have 
prevented the Emperor from making his action decisive, and 
it is also stated that he himself did not conduct these opera- 
tions. Blucher has also been unduly blamed. Two faults 
may, how T ever, be laid to his charge with some justice — delay in 
commencing operations against Macdonald, and neglect of 
communicating with Wittgenstein and Leslawin. There can 
be little doubt that Blucher was glad to get away from the 
Grand Army ; he disliked Schwarzeub erg's caution, and wanted 
to act independently. This led him to neglect obvious mea- 
sures of prudence. 

Had he been with Sacken at the head of the column, the 
unity of purpose necessary for success would not have been 
wanting, and with more than equal force he might calmly 
have met and repulsed Napoleon at Montmirail, though the 
attack would have been dangerous in character. He had 
remained in order to place himself in the centre of his line, 
waiting for Kleist and Kapzewitz, who were behind. In 
detaching these corps to Fere on the 10th, Blucher disobeyed 
orders. His inaction on the 11th and 12th February seems 
open to censure. Want of sufficient cavalry was not quite 
enough. Success against Marmont would have hampered 
Napoleon ; and when he did advance it was too late, and being 
too late, he should not have exposed himself on the 14th. 

The want of proper communication between the corps is 
here again apparent. 

The foundation of Blucher's misfortunes is laid at the head- 
quarters of the Grand Army. Had Wittgenstein not been with- 
drawn, Napoleon could not have marched as he did through 
Sezanne. He must have marched on Meaux, w r here he would 
have met Blucher. Muffling says the first intimation of the 
change reached the army of Silesia on the 9th, the despatch 
being dated the 6th. 

Napoleon did not pursue Blucher beyond Etages. Leaving 
Marmont there with one corps of infantry and one of cavalry, 
and Mortier similarly at Chateau -Thierry, he returned to 
confront Schwarzenberg. This last general was at Troyes on 
the 7th, the French being behind the Seine; Victor, with 
17,000, at Nogent ; Oudinot, at Provins, with G000 ; Pajol 


and Alix, at Montereau and Sens, with 7000. This position of 
the French was prescribed by the character of the operations. 

The two main roads from Troyes to Paris lay through 
Nogent and Sens. The first was the most direct, and nearest 
to Napoleon on the Maine, and it was essential to make this 
strong for resistance. Sens, on the other hand, was occupied 
sufficiently strongly to offer resistance, and retard and detach 
from the enemy's force at Nogent. The Allies first intended 
to make use principally of this road through Sens for equally 
intelligible reasons. "Wrede and "Wittgenstein were directed 
on Nogent, whilst the rest marched on the Yonne and Fon- 
tainebleau. Sharp fighting occurred on the Seine on the 11th 
and 12th February, and Sens was taken on the 11th by Wlirteni- 
berg. Wrede forced the passage of the Seine at Bray, and 
Wittgenstein at Pont -sur- Seine on the 13th; and Schwarz- 
enberg, having heard of Napoleon's success on the Marne, 
strengthened this force on the right bank of the river. 

On the 16th February, Wittgenstein, Wrede, and Wiirtem- 
berg, having crossed the Seine, were at Nangis, Donnemarie, 
and Montereau ; the remaining corps on the left back ; reserve 
at Nogent ; 3d corps (Gyulai) at Montereau ; Colloredo at 
Troyes ; Liechtenstein on the Loing. The French had retired 
from the Seine, and occupied on the loth the following posi- 
tion : — 

Victor, .... Chaulme and Fontenay. J 

Oudinot, .... at Guignes. f On the 

Macdonald, . . . from Meaux, on Solers. i Yeres. 

Pajol, .... at CramayeL ' 

Owing to the reverses of Blucher, and the. news from Bubna 
at Lyons, the intention of advancing upon Paris was now 
abandoned by Schwarzenberg. 

Napoleon, having 25,000 on the Marne, had started for his 
Seine army, and reached the Yeres on the 16th, to find himself 
at the head of 60,000 men. 

The Allied plan was now to withdraw the troops from 
the north bank of the Seine with as little loss as possible, in 
order to take position for battle at Troyes, and also to recross 
the Loing and Yonne, south of the Seine. For this purpose 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 189 

they held all the passages of the rivers ; and the one thing 
necessary was without loss of time to draw their men across 
at these points. 

Napoleon had only very general information of Schwarzen- 
berg's position and intentions. He would judge that his pur- 
pose, on hearing of Blucher's retreat, would . be to recross the 
Seine, and would wish to anticipate him and find him scat- 
tered as was Blucher. The direction of the march was on 
Nangis, as leading to Montereau, Bray, and Nogent. 

The advance was made on the 17th on Nangis. 

Actions occurred on the 17th ; Pajol was marching on Le 
Clmtelet, but was attacked and beaten. One half afterwards 
moved on Fontainebleau, the other on Montereau. The orders 
issued for the Allies on the 18th decided Wittgenstein to cross 
the Seine at Nogent; Wrede, at Bray; Wurtemberg, at 
Montereau; 1st and 3d corps, Pont-sur-Yonne. On the 18th, 
the battle of Montereau took place — an important action, in 
which the character of the ground, and the fact that the town 
was commanded from Surville, rendered it imperative to hold 
the passage on the left bank for the troops to get back. The 
danger of the position was extreme with an inferior force, and 
a defile in rear. Montereau was on the left bank of the 
Yonne at its junction with the Seine ; and, since a force was 
on the right bank of the river at St Nicholas, its defender 
could not possibly remain in Montereau if Surville was in 
the enemy's possession. The only way of guarding the bridge 
was to occupy Surville. The Allied corps, consisting of about 
12,000, made good dispositions ; and, on the morning of the 
18th, the French dribbled into action, and were severely 
beaten by artillery, their attacks being constantly repulsed, 
while Victor was displaced ; but Napoleon arrived at 2 p.m. 
with the Guard — and the necessary preponderance thus gained, 
the French attained their object with a loss on each side of 
about 3000 men. 

Two lines of march were open to Napoleon on starting for 
the Seine — by the one he came, and by Meaux and Guignes. 
He knew the whereabouts of the Allies, so that he might ex- 
pect that the former would carry him to their lines of retreat, 
and the latter would simply meet their frontal attack. 


It was a question, therefore, which he should select — the 
chief considerations being his inferior force, the doubtful 
seizure of the bridge at Nogent, and the possibility in one case 
of surprising, as he had surprised Blucher at the same time 
that he remained in proximity of Paris ; in the other, he was 
removed from Paris, and might sacrifice his communications 
with that city. Operations against communications are not 
always desirable. 

The celerity of his march upon Guignes is remarkable. 

Arrived there, things were much in the state he desired. 
His own force was 60,000, that of the Allies 100,000, the 
separate corps being from 10,000 to 20,000 strong. His 
decision at Nangis was not so rapid as usual. It was only 
after delay that he decided moving on Montereau, the con- 
siderations being easy passage and interception of the troops 
on the left bank of the Yonne. Had he concentrated 30,000 
or 40,000 men at Montereau by 8 or 9 a.m. on the 18th, he 
might have destroyed Wurtemberg, and have had the choice 
of subsequently beating Wrede at Bray, or Wittgenstein at 
Nogent, or the troops beyond the Yonne. 

The battle of Montereau was fought badly by Napoleon. 
Schwarzenberg, in these operations, showed his usual indeci- 
sion. He left a clear ten days to Napoleon for attacking 

The rule in such a case, when two distinct armies are oper- 
ating against a single one on the same theatre of war, is that 
each of them shall be in the closest possible contact with the 
enemy opposed ; the reason being, that, otherwise, the com- 
mander of the single force can throw his weight first on one 
and then on the other, masking his purpose in each instance 
with a weak detachment. 

Schwarzenberg might have been on the Yeres on the 12th 
February, and have overpowered Victor and Oudinot, which, 
by forcing Napoleon to return, would have relieved Blucher 
of the pressure. 

In Schwarzenberg's determination to fight, up to the 21st, 
he overestimated, however, Napoleon's forces, and was no 
doubt afraid of his antagonist. 

He wrote to Blucher, expressing his doubt as to the advisa- 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 191 

bility of fighting with a defile in rear, and determined on re- 
treating through Troyes. On the 22d the Allies were about 
that town, and Blucher at Mery with 58,000, while Napoleon 
was advancing and concentrating for battle about Troyes. 

At Mery he came into collision with the Russians, and drove 
them in, the town of Mery being burnt. 

On the 23d, Schwarzenberg had determined to continue his 
retreat behind the Seine and Aube upon Langres. Bianchi 
with 17,000 was sent to support Bubna at Lyons. Still 
Schwarzenberg had 70,000, and Blucher 53,000 men, and 
there was a favourable opportunity for striking decisively. 

Schwarzenberg's retreat exposed Blucher. It was proposed 
that he should form the right of the Grand Army on the 
Aube. The position of Mortier and Marmont furnished him 
with an excuse to disobey, and eventually to obtain sanction 
for a plan of his own, which was genial in conception, and 
eventually decisive of the campaign. 

By falling on the marshals, who alone stood between him 
and Paris, he would again recall Napoleon, and relieve Schwar- 
zenberg, enabling the latter to move also on Paris. More- 
over, he was no longer dependent on the Grand Army. Bu- 
low, "Winzingerode, and St Priest were approaching, so that he 
would have eventually 100,000 men for independent action if 
they were placed under his command. 

On the 24th, Schwarzenberg retreated to Lesmont, Bar-sur- 
Aube, and Chatillon ; and the French pursued with Oudinot 
and Macdonald to Bar-sur-Aube, the remainder being at Troyes 

Napoleon had but inaccurate information regarding Blucher 
up to the 26th, and consequently did nothing ; but on that 
evening, roused by hearing that Blucher had crossed the Aube 
at Anglure, he started on the 27th February with 30,000 men. 

Simultaneously, Schwarzenberg turned, attacked Oudinot at 
Bar-sur-Aube on the 28th, 29th, 30th ; the two marshals re- 
tired on Troyes, where Macdonald took command. 

On March the 3d, the Allies appeared in force, and Macdonald 
retreated on Nogent on the 5th, and occupied the line Monte- 
reau-Nogent. The retreat was unmolested, and Schwarzen- 
berg went into quarters between the Seine and Yonne. 


Blucher had destroyed the bridge at Arcis, and, establishing 
pontoons at Anglure, marched on the night of the 23d, cross- 
ing the Aube on the 24th, making for Sezanne, where Marmont 
was about to join Napoleon by Arcis. Blucher made disposi- 
tions to cut him off, but the marshal retired on Esternay. 

Blucher had ordered St Priest to take post at Vitry, to pro- 
tect his rear, watch the Aube, and communicate with the 
Grand Army on his left, and Winzingerode on his right. 

Blucher's object was to defeat the marshals, draw off Napo- 
leon, and to unite his command. An officer was sent to Win- 
zingerode to invite him to join Blucher at Meaux. 

On the 25th, Marmont retreated upon La Ferte-sous-Jou- 
arre, Mortier being at Chateau-Thierry. 

Blucher divided Kleist and York at La Ferte, Sacken at 
Meaux, which he reached on the 27th, as Marmont and Mor- 
tier, having made a night-march, entered on the other side, 
when the Russians were thrown out, and the retreat of their 
adversaries on Paris was now safe. 

Blucher threw a bridge at Sommesous, and Kleist crossed, 
marching to Lizy, and pushed advanced posts across the 
Ourcq ; on the 28th he himself followed, before York or 
Sacken had effected the passage. 

The French took advantage of the opportunity, attacked 
Kleist, defeated him with the loss of 1000, and drove him 
back on Ferte Milon. 

At noon Blucher was authorised to take command of Bulow's 
and Winzingerode's corps, and in the evening intelligence was 
received from Tettenborn that Napoleon was advancing at Sez- 
anne ; whereupon Blucher crossed the Marne, and destroyed 
the bridges by the morning of the 1st of March. 

The fresh attempt against the marshals had been unsuc- 

A night-march to Oulchy, in great disorder, followed, but 
concentration at that place was effected on the 30th of March. 
Winzingerode from Ptheims, and Bulow from Laon, met on 
the 2d at Soissons, which place was garrisoned by Moreau with 
2000 men. Moreau agreed to evacuate the town on condition 
that the garrison should withdraw, and it was handed over on 
the 3d ; the same morning Napoleon crossed the Marne at La 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 193 

Ferte, which he had reached on the 1st, but it had taken 
twenty-four hours to finish the bridge. He was now in full 
communication with the marshals, whose independent action 
ceased. They had operated well to avoid Blucher's embrace, 
and there are many points of interest in the manner in which 
that result had been obtained. 

1. Their junction was recognised as essential, and when 
Blucher reached Esternay, Mortier was at Thierry ; so that 
Marmont, while seeing the danger of the movement, arranged 
to concentrate with the other marshal at La Ferte\ 

2. The danger that lay in the way of effecting this desired 
j unction was met by the rapidity of movement of the troops, 
and by enlisting night to cover the march. 

3. Their energy and decision, their clearness of vision in 
seeing the isolation of Kleist, which enabled them to make 
a brilliant counterstroke on the Ourcq, is doubly creditable 
under the circumstances. 

4. And lastly, they obtained security by breaking down the 
bridges on that river, whereby they also gained, what was 
equally serviceable, time. Any attempt to add to the advan- 
tage they had gained by crossing the Ourcq, or pushing too 
far in pursuit of Kleist, would but have exposed them to 
unnecessary danger. 

It has been well put by Captain Jones, in his ' Campaign of 
1814,' that the two principal objectives of Blucher were incom- 
patible with each other — viz., to effect a junction, and to de- 
feat the marshals ; and that this led to faulty dispositions and 
eventual failure. 

On the 2d of March Napoleon had crossed the Marne. Bulow 
moved by Oulchy on Soissons. Napoleon still had 60,000 and 
Blucher 100,000 at their disposal respectively. Certain con- 
siderations induced Blucher not to stand at Oulchy. He was 
not altogether concentrated, and was much hampered by his 
baggage, with the Aisne in rear. His object was to draw 
Napoleon on, and fight under the most favourable conditions, 
thus releasing Schwarzenberg. 

On the 4th Blucher retreated, and Soissons capitulated. 
Soissons was the right, Berry-au-bac the left of the Prussians. 
Napoleon followed to Fismes and Soissons. It was necessary 



to deprive Blucher of these passages of the Aisne, as he had 
contrived to escape Napoleon's blow, in order to hold the river- 
line and return to the Grand Allied Army. 

The attack on Soissons failed, but Kheinis was occupied, and 
Berry-au-bac was carried by surprise on the 6th. 

The Silesian army, consisting of the corps of Bulow, York, 
Langeron, Sacken, and Winzingerode, reached the plateau of 
Craonne, a strong defensive position, but with indifferent 
lateral communication. Napoleon occupied Craonne and 
Corbeny — thanks to Winzingerode's neglect. 

Blucher purposed attacking the French as they emerged 
from Berry, but was obliged now to abandon his purpose and 
effect other dispositions. 

Winzingerode's infantry was to hold the plateau and fall 
back fighting; Bulow to march to Laon; York, Kleist, and 
Langeron, to hold themselves in readiness to march ; and the 
cavalry, intrusted to Winzingerode, with the horse artillery, 
were to concentrate in the valley of the Lette, and fall on Na- 
poleon's right flank and rear when engaged on the plateau 
with the infantry. Winzingerode delayed in getting his force 
together, and then took the wrong road ; but the Russians 
showed great steadiness in the battle, and Blucher, finding the 
cavalry attack could not come off, fell back on Laon. The 
Russian loss was 5000, the French 8000 men. 

On the 8th March the various corps were collected about 
Laon, and the Soissons garrison, having vacated the town for 
want of provisions, joined at Laon on the 9th. 

The Russian front was thus arranged : right, Winzingerode 
at Clacy ; centre, Bulow at Laon and the suburbs ; York and 
Kleist at Chambry ; the reserve being in rear of the town, and 
the advanced - guards towards Soissons and Berry. These 
roads were separated by the swampy meadows of the Ardon, 
and were eleven miles apart. 

On the 9th, at dawn, the action commenced, and the Allied 
outposts were driven in from Etouvelle by 11 a.m. At noon 
a heavy French column was announced on the Festieux road. 
Blucher demonstrated against the French left, while Bulow 
attacked in front. Marmont debouched at Athies and car- 
ried the village ; Sacken and Langeron moved up to sup- 

MONTMERML, ETC., 1814. 195 

port Kleist ; Langeron being directed to surprise Marmont 
at Athies. 

The young troops, of which the latter's corps were composed, 
neglecting outpost duty, were assailed at dusk, and com- 
pletely routed, the Marshal being obliged to rally behind the 

Napoleon, with his right wing gone, and isolated, therefore, 
with 35,000 men, was in a precarious position, and his retreat 
to Soissons was, with ordinary activity on the part of the 
Allies, much endangered. 

Orders for pursuit were given but countermanded, and Na- 
poleon, left undisturbed, retreated on the 11th to Soissons, 
where he strengthened the fortress and occupied Compiegne. 

While there he heard that St Priest had reached Eheims 
with 12,000 men on the 12th of March; so moving against 
him, he surprised the division on the 13th, Eheims being 
occupied by the Emperor until the 17th. 

During the action of the 13th, St Priest was killed. 


These operations of Napoleon carry with them the stamp of 
recklessness and despair. His delay at Troyes originated the 
difficulties with which he afterwards had to contend. Blucher 
had too long a start, and after having failed in his immediate 
object, at once and wisely appreciated the situation. Napoleon 
evidently considered the defeat of Blucher essential to the 
success of the campaign, and to be attained at all hazard. 
Failing to catch him on the south bank of the Aisne, he still 
persevered when every chance was against him. 

In his passage at Berry, his attack at Craonne, and subse- 
quently at Laon, he everywhere exposed himself to imminent 
danger, relying probably on his prestige to escape its results. 

Napoleon himself attributed the failure of his operations 
to Moreau's capitulation ; and this was evidently unjust, for 
Blucher had provided the means of crossing the Aisne had 
Soissons not surrendered. 

Turning to the Austrian army, Schwarzcnberg, finding that 


the Emperor was not in front of him, had advanced on the 
27th February, driving Mortier and Macdonald through 
Troyes to Nogent, Bray, and Montereau, and by the 17th 
March had passed the Seine and reached Provins. On this 
date Napoleon moved towards him, Ney marching on Chalons 
and the remainder on Epernay, while Mortier was left at 
Itheims, and Marmont at Berry. On the 18th the French 
advanced from Epernay, and reached Fere Champenoise and 

Macdonald, with reinforcements, was to move on Plancy. 
Schwarzenberg purposed to concentrate at Frannes. Napoleon 
crossed the Aube at Plancy on the 19th. Ney, from Chalons, 
was between Arcis and Plancy, and reinforcements were on 
the march from the latter, while Macdonald was two marches 
from the same place. Napoleon, feeling on both sides towards 
Arcis and Thierry, discovered the enemy in force on his left, 
at and in rear of Arcis ; and this led Schwarzenberg, finding 
his adversary so weak, to alter his dispositions and concentrate 
before Arcis ; but neglecting to hold the passage in force, it 
was occupied by Ney, thus securing to Napoleon the roads on 
the north bank. 

Schwarzenberg concentrated near Pougy ; but Napoleon 
had only 20,000 men with him on the 20th, on which day 
Schwarzenberg might have attacked with great advantage, as 
Napoleon's position was very precarious. 

Napoleon was now under the impression that the Allies 
were fully in retreat, and pushed on to Lesmont and 
Troyes ; but this produced collision, and he was checked at 

On the 21st he was reinforced to 40,000 strong, though 
Macdonald and the 11th corps under Pacthod were still 
absent, and he advanced again under the same impression ; 
but seeing Schwarzenberg in position at Mesnil-la-Comtesse, 
in such superior force that he was unassailable, he retreated, 
masking his movement with cavalry, and occupied Arcis. 

Schwarzenberg delayed several hours, and attacked at 3 
p.m. ; but the French withdrew successfully, and destroyed the 
bridges, their losses being estimated at 4000. 

On the 2 2d Napoleon arrived at Vitry, which was sum- 

MONTMIKAIL, ETC., 1814. 197 

moned unsuccessfully, and the Marne was crossed at Frigni- 
court, Macdonald and Oudinot acting as rear-guard. 

On the 23d the Emperor reached St Dizier ; and Schwar- 
zenberg, crossing the Aube, followed to Vitry by the 24th, 
where Blucher's advance had already arrived. 

Blucher had remained at Laon until the 17th, then moving 
he attacked Marmont and Mortier, drove them back to 
Chateau-Thierry, and pursued his own march to the Marne, 
which he reached on the 22d-23d. 

York and Kleist followed the French marshals to Chateau- 
Thierry on the 23d, and delayed in crossing, but reached Mont- 
mirail on the 24th, the Russians arriving at Chalons by 
Eheims on the same day. 

Napoleon, in retreating, sent orders to the marshals to join 
him by St Dizier, as well as to Pacthod, who on that day had 
reached Bergeres, while Marmont was at Soude St Croix. 

These troops were thus between the two Allied armies, and 
in perfect ignorance of their presence, and of their own 
danger, while Napoleon was further from Paris than each 
Allied army. 

His plan was to throw himself on the Allied communica- 
tions, trusting to precedent and the moral attraction of the 
movement to separate the Allies again, and draw them off 
from Paris. 

On the 24th the Allies were at last informed of his plan by 
captured despatches, and the state of Paris exposed. 

Napoleon had too great a start to be overtaken : on the other 
hand, he opened the door to Paris, so important as it was, 
since there were only some 30,000 French to defend the 
capital against the enemy's approach. 

It was decided, therefore, to march on Paris, leaving a force 
of cavalry principally to screen the movement, and Winzinge- 
rode and Tettenborn with 8000 men were accordingly detached 
for this purpose. The army of Silesia was to march by Cham- 
paubert and Montmirail on Meaux, arriving on the 28th ; the 
Grand Army by Fere Champenoise and Sezanne on Coulom- 

The Crown Prince of Wiirtemberg with his cavalry arrived 
at Soude St Croix early on the 25th, and there found Mar- 


raont and Mortier marching for Vitiy, 25,000 strong, includ- 
ing 7000 cavalry, though some accounts state less. 

The marshals retired upon Sommesous and on Fere Cham- 
penoise, and at the former place they took up a position, 
not seeing anything in front of them but the enemy's cav- 
alry. Though Wiirtemberg knew what he had before him, 
he thought it advisable not to wait for the infantry, and 

The French were engaged first on the Cosle, then on the 
Soude rivulet ; and having united their entire force they fell 
back through Connontrey with a view to gain the heights of Fere 
Champenoise. Meanwhile, fresh enemies were announced on 
their right, and they retreated in good and skilful order, 
during a violent thunderstorm, on Sezanne. 

During the action, a detachment under Pacthod, which was 
marching from Sezanne, was utterly routed ; but it was rein- 
forced by Compan's division. 

At Sezanne, they had to cut their way through Ziethen's 
Prussians, and then retreating by La Ferte-Gaucher were 
again headed, and taking the Provins road, on whieh they 
were joined by Souham's division, proceeded to Nangis, where 
Mortier moved by the Guignes road, and Marmont by Melun, 
on Paris ; and, uniting near the capital, they crossed the Seine 
at Charenton, and took up a position on the heights of Mont- 
martre and Piomainville. 

Compan's division had escaped at La Ferte-Gaucher and 
crossed the Seine at Meaux, whence it retreated, fighting, by 
Dondy on Paris. 

Thus on the 29th, Blucher, with Kleist, De York, Woronzow, 
and Langeron, were near St Denis ; Schwarzenberg at Pantin 
and La Villette; and the Prince Koyal of Wiirtemberg near 
Yincennes and MontreuiL 

On the following day, after a brief contest, the city capitu- 

Meanwhile Napoleon heard of the advance of the Allies, 
and after a skirmish near Yitry with Winzingerode he turned 
back towards Paris on the 28th, and, pushing on rapidly before 
his army, received at Fromenteau on the 30th the news of the 
fall of his capital. 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 199 


Schwarzenberg's inactivity during the operations on the 
Aisne have been already considered. 

That intelligence from Blucher was necessary with a view 
to ultimate union, was but an excuse. If this was more im- 
portant than to march on Paris, it is evident that Schwarzen- 
berg, leaving 30,000 men to face Macdonald, should have 
marched for the Marne with 70,000 men. 

Communication— with the passage of the Marne in hand 
— mieht have been effected about the time of the battle of 
Craonne. But if he arrived only after Laon, he might, with 
St Priest and his cavalry masses, have dispersed the French 
reinforcements, and hemmed Napoleon in against the Marne. 
A fortnight later it was determined to start for the Marne ; 
but at the same time Napoleon, returning, was in a position to 
beat the Allied corps in detail. 

Schwarzenberg avoided the danger cleverly by recalling his 
corps, scattered from Provins to Brienne, behind the Seine and 
Aube, for concentration. 

Equally in accordance with circumstances was his alteration 
as he discovered his enemy's faults and concentration against 
his left flank between the Aube and Voire. 

His purpose of attacking on the 20th was equally good, 
but bad enough in execution. On the other hand, Napoleon's 
plan of operations, conceived at Ptheims, was to concentrate 
very secretly against Schwarzenberg, to throw himself on that 
general's scattered line, and master his line of retreat to the 

But his concentration was badly combined. Macdonald was 
called in too late, as were the two marshals — or rather, the 
operations commenced too soon. 

He has been justly accused of want of coolness in execu- 
tion here, and of leaving much to chance. 

When Napoleon arrived on the Aube, his march to 
Plancy instead of to Arcis gave his adversary time to 
effect his concentration. He should have turned at once 
against Arcis, where Wrede stood alone, and his signal 


defeat might have changed the intentions of the Allied 

As it was, Napoleon was in imminent danger at Arcis, and 
had only to thank Schwarzenberg's want of resolution for his 
salvation. But when his error was discovered, the movement 
in retreat of his troops was skilfully conducted. 

Keviewing the general situation now, we see that Napoleon's 
failures had cost him 25,000 men. He could only fill up this 
gap by availing himself of resources, which, taken away, would 
leave Paris defenceless. 

The question was, Should he concentrate these and fall back 
towards the capital, and thus with 100,000 make a stand 
against 200,000 ; or, trusting to his adversary's faults and to 
the chapter of accidents, throw himself with them against his 
communications ? 

He decided in favour of the latter, trusting to the moral 
effect of the combination, and hoping to increase his force by 
the garrisons of Alsace and Lorraine, and by calling on the 
population to rise en masse. 

How faulty this plan was, and how warped his judgment, 
was now evinced by the results that necessarily followed. 

The first step of the Allies was to unite at last, and then, 
learning the direction of Napoleon's march, to combine. 

The first idea of marching on Paris is attributed to Wol- 
kousky ; but Schwarzenberg sums up his reasons for the step as 
follows : — 

1. The state of Paris. 

2. That it was not possible to concentrate both armies, in 

order to beat Napoleon, before he was reinforced. 

3. Concentration could be easier effected towards Paris. 
•i. The defeat of the marshals was certain. 

5. Having thus deprived Napoleon of his resources, he hoped 
to use them for himself, and to trust to circumstances 
for further guidance. 

The result of this decision has been already told. Paris, that had never 
been entered by a foreign foe since the fifteenth century, witnessed the tri- 
umphal entrance of the Allied forces and their sovereigns. Napoleon, at 
Fontainebleau, assembled yet another army ; but the decree of the Senate 
deposing him, the firm decision of the conquerors to admit of no negotia- 

MONTMIRAIL, ETC., 1814. 201 

tions with him, the proposed restoration of the Bourbons, had all their 
influence on the people of France, and even on his followers. 

Deserted by every one of those who owed their elevation to him, save 
Drouot, Bertram! , and Davoust, he signed his abdication on the 12th of 
April ; and on the 24th, taking leave of his Old Guard, retired to Elba. 

Meanwhile, in the south, Soult, attacked by Wellington, had been 
beaten at Toulouse, and a convention was agreed to on the 18th. At 
Bayonne, which had been invested by Sir John Hope, a sally involving 
much bloodshed had occurred on the 14th, so that two needless actions 
terminated the last days of the Peninsular war, in which Great Britain 
had taken so prominent a part. 

Suchet's force in the east of Spain was too weak and isolated to be of 
further value ; and it was finally withdrawn from the Peninsula, the 
fortresses then in French hands being also surrendered. 

In Italy, the Viceroy at Verona had been confronted by the Austrians 
under Bellegarde ; and finally, by Murat's defection, which residted in 
his marching 20,000 troops on Kome, he was threatened on his right 
flank by this army. Crossing the Mincio, a severe combat occurred near 
Vallegio ; and again turning on the Neapolitans he drove them out of Par- 
ma; but these operations produced little result ; and finally, after the fall 
of Genoa to the British, and another stubborn struggle in front of Piacenza, 
the French army retired under the walls of that fortress on the 14th April, 
when the news of the important events that had occurred in Paris was 
received, and by May the French armies had recrossed the Alps. 

France, shorn of her concpiests, had been limited provisionally to her 
ancient frontiers, pending the decision of the Congress of the Great 
Powers that assembled in Vienna in September 1814. 

The division of the recaptured spoil was no easy matter. Great 
Britain insisted that Hanover should be restored to Brunswick ; and that 
Belgium and Holland should be formed into a kingdom of the Nether- 
lands ; Prussia wanted Saxony ; Austria, Lombardy and the Milanese ; 
and Russia, Poland : but these negotiations only aroused mutual discon- 
tent ; and the close of the year saw the withdrawal of the Russian troops 
arrested, the Austrian army again placed on a war footing, and the dis- 
armament of that of France checked. But the storm-laden atmosphere 
was not to burst then. Napoleon, apparently oblivious of his fall, and 
giving himself up to the pursuit of art, literature, and study, had not 
ceased to hope for restoration, or to plot with his numerous adherents 
in France. The last act of the great drama in which he had played the 
chiefest part w T as yet to be unfolded, and with it draw to a close the 
long and almost continuous series of wars which had resulted from the 



WATERLOO, 1815. 

Introduction. — ""With the violets "in the spring came the Emperor 
hack to France. Attended by Bertrand, Cambronne, Drouot, and 400 
grenadiers, the remainder of the 1000 men which formed his garrison at 
Elba following in two other vessels, he embarked on the 27th February 
on board the brig Inconstant. Landing on the 1st March in the Gulf of 
Juan, near Cannes, he advanced with 4 pieces of artillery on Grenoble, 
having also purchased horses to mount the Poles of the Guard, who had, 
since landing, carried the saddles and accoutrements on their backs, and 
with this small force seized the bridge of Ponthaut, beyond which was 
drawn up the 5th regiment of the line. Though ordered to fire they 
refused, and fraternising with the Old Guard the united forces moved to 
Grenoble, where the remainder of the soldiers declared for the Empire. 
On the 8th March he advanced on Lyons, which he entered on the 10th 
in triumph, Marshal Macdonald being powerless to oppose him, for 
everywhere the magic of Ms name was calling to his gradually increasing 
army the soldiers he had so often led to victory. On the 17th Ney 
joined him at Auxerre, on the 20th he reached Fontainebleau, and push- 
ing on to Paris entered it on the same night amidst the greatest en- 
thusiasm of the people. The king had fled from the capital the evening 
before. But the Great Powers refused all negotiations with him, and 
both sides prepared for hostilities. The first blow was struck by Murat, 
who declared war on the 15th March, and after some slight successes 
was-defeated at Tolentino and fled to France. 

The campaign about to be examined Las for Englishmen a 
peculiar interest. It is one that is essentially national, and, 
short as its duration was, it offers for study the very essence 
of the offensive and defensive strategy of which Xapoleon was 
the originator, which for twenty years he more or less success- 
fully practised, and which still holds good in all its principal 

WATERLOO, 1815. 203 

It would be superfluous to touch upon the political cir- 
cumstances of the time. They are so well known as to make 
such a course tedious. It will be sufficient to know that, find- 
ing all ears shut to his peaceful overtures, war was for the 
Emperor the only alternative. Broadly on the defensive, the 
immediate character of the war was at his option. He might 
await his enemy's attack, remaining purely on the defensive, 
based on Paris and Lyons ; or he might, by rapid prepara- 
tions, anticipate his antagonists and assume the offensive. It 
was well known that from various causes the preparations of 
the Allies, including Austria and Eussia, would not be com- 
pleted until August. Nearest to the French frontier, and in 
the most advanced state of preparation, stood the forces com- 
manded by Wellington and Blucher. Experience had de- 
monstrated to the Emperor that, however good the under- 
standing between the Allied commanders, complete harmony 
of action never could be expected. The vital considerations 
attending supplies drawn from different bases would probably 
make themselves felt at the very commencement of operations. 
It was well known that Wellington drew his supplies from the 
coast ; Blucher from Liege and the Rhine. Considering the 
extended cantonments of the Allied generals, accurately known 
in Paris, it was reasonable to suppose that a rapid blow struck 
at the joint connecting the two armies would render general 
concentration difficult or impossible, and offer opportunity of 
detailed engagements. 

Superior to each singly, the Emperor could count in this 
case upon success ; and their own special interests — almost 
necessities— must determine the diverging lines of retreat 
which each commander, in the very nature of things, must 

Such considerations were peculiarly attractive for the Em- 
peror, who had never yet failed to derive advantage from 
them ; and this, together with the certainty that, if he remained 
purely on the defensive, he must abandon territory, and thus 
increase the discontent now general in most parts of France, 
with the conviction, too, that to be successful all defence must 
be largely leavened with offence, decided the matter. 

The Emperor determined to operate offensively against the 


Anglo-Prussian armies occupying the line of the Sambre and 

Even then there were three courses open to him : — 

1. To attack the Prussians on the Meuse, and cut them 
from their base. 

2. Enter Belgium by Mons to threaten Wellington's com- 
munications with Antwerp. 

3. Advance by the Sambre against the point of union of 
the Anglo-Prussian force. 

The western frontier of Belgium is open to invasion by 
nature, though this is to some extent remedied by art. Ostend, 
Nieuport, Ypres, Courtrai, Tournai, and Mons are so many 
fortresses on the several roads between the Lis, the Scheldt, 
the Dendre, and the Sambre, and the country was inundated 
where practicable; the object here being rather to impede than 
to defend. This territory, with Brussels, the capital, was in- 
trusted to the English general, while the Prussians occupied 
the line of the Meuse or eastern half of the Netherlands. 
One fortress, Namur, only was in their hands, but it was 
covered from France by the Ardennes. 

Attack was not contemplated here ; if purposed at all, it 
was probably to be expected on the right or by the central 

The strength of the armies was — 



196 guns 

(Siborne) . 



300 „ 




344 „ 


Their organisation was, English — into 2 corps d'armee 
and a reserve. 

r 1st Corps. — Cooke, Alten, and the greater part of the Dutch 

\ Belgians under Chasse, Perponcher, and Collaert. The 
Orange, < C0J ^ S wag at Braine-le-Comte, on each side of the high- 

' way from Mons to Brussels. 

( 2d Corps.— Colville,Clinton, and the remainder of the Dutch 
Hill, < Belgians under Prince Frederick of Orange. This was at 

v Ath, extending right as far as the Lys, left as far as Mons. 

SKeserve. — Picton, Cole, Nassauers and Brunswickers, at 
Cavalry. — Lord Uxbridge at Enghien. 

WATERLOO, 1815. 205 

Prussians — into 4 corps. 

1st Corps, 




2d „ 




3d „ 




4th „ 




French — into 6 corps, the Guard, and reserve cavalry 
1st Corps, (D'Erlon) at Lille, 20,000 

2d „ 


at Valenciennes, 


3d „ 


at Mezieres, 


4th „ 


at Metz, 


6th „ 

(Lobau) •* 



In the rear 



cavalry, ) 

towards Paris, 


Total, 124,500 

One of the first tests of a general's capacity and skill, is 
his method of concentration for offence. To select the right 
point ; to conceal by demonstrations the contemplated pur- 
pose ; to execute it rapidly and without confusion ; to organise 
the important question of supply, — are all considerations ren- 
dering the task difficult. 

In the present instance Napoleon's 125,000 men extended 
in a long line of cantonments from Lille to Metz, with the 
rear-guard at Paris. The problem was to concentrate these on 
a small space of ground, close to the frontier, without attract- 
ing the attention of the enemy too much. For safety this 
could not be too close to it ; and to cover the movement demon- 
strations were necessary, the distance from flank to flank being 
250 miles, and from front to rear 150 miles. There was little 
fear of attention being attracted by a march from Paris by 
Soissons, Laon, and Maubeuge ; it was natural that an army 
should be opposed to the masses concentrating in Belgium. 
What would attract more attention would be closing in from 
right to left towards the centre at Maubeuge, thus revealing 
the purpose of marching upon Charleroi. 

Gerard was farthest off, and therefore started first on the 7th 
June very quietly, the gates of Metz being guarded and no- 
body allowed to leave. Even his own officers were kept in 
ignorance of the true destination, which was Philippeville. 


The Guard quitted Compiegne on the 8th, en route for Beau- 
mont; D'Erlon's reserve started on the 9th from Lille to 
Valenciennes; Eeille left that town on the 11th, as D'Erlon 
approached, marching for Maubeuge, whither Vandamme, 
who was at Mezieres, was also directed : thus, while Van- 
damme moved to his left, D'Erlon and Eeille were closing to 
the right. 

Demonstrations were meanwhile made from Lille and Dun- 
kirk to alarm Wellington for his communications with the sea, 
and to announce a French movement towards Lille, Ghent, 
and Antwerp. 

All the corps were in movement when Napoleon quitted 
Paris on June 12th. On the 14th he arrived at Beaumont and 
found his army assembled on the line Beaumont - Philippe- 
ville, with the enemy apparently not yet alarmed. 

The exact position of the French troops on this night was : — 

D'Erlon, 1st Corps, Solre-sur-Sambre, ) ■ Left 44 0Q() 
EeiUe, 2d „ Leers, ) 

Gerard, 4tli „ Philippeville, Eight, 16,000 

Lobau, 6th „ Beaumont, Centre, 10,000 

Vandamme, 3d „ „ „ 17,000 

Guard, „ „ 20,000 
Cavalry under Grouchy, Pajol, Excelmans, Kellerman, 

and Milhaud, in front and rear of Beaumont, . 13,000 

The morale of this force was perfect, and it had but one 
defect — that of having new officers to old soldiers. 

The headquarters of the Allies were — Wellington at Brussels, 
and Blucher at Xamur. 

Early on the 14th, a report came to Blucher from Ziethen, 
who was fully alive to the French concentration, of the as- 
semblage of troops in his front ; further information arrived 

Wellington also learned from the Prussians, according to 
Hooper, that the French troops had been increased ; but did 
not deem it expedient to make any movement, except for the 
assembly of the alarm posts, until the intentions of the enemy 
were declared. He was under the impression that he would 
not be really attacked by the Sambre and Meuse ; but Blucher 

WATERLOO, 1815. 207 

moved at once : and on the night of the 14th, Bulow was 
ordered to Hannut, Pirch to Sombref, Thielemann to Namur, 
while Ziethen retreated fighting to Fleurus. 

The question has been raised by Chesney whether the Allied 
cantonments were not unnecessarily and dangerously scattered. 
Muffling points out that it was impossible for the Allies to 
concentrate in time to oppose Napoleon's attack if made by 
Lille and Ath, or by Mons and Hal, or by Charleroi and Gen- 
appe ; for each of the distances from Liege and Ciney to the 
nearest points of the nearest of the three lines is greater than 
Napoleon's whole march to Brussels would be. Kennedy 
asserts, therefore, that the dispositions must be faulty, reject- 
ing as puerile the necessity of spreading out for subsistence ; 
and, admitting the substance of the Duke's assertion that it 
was necessary for him to observe the first-named routes, he 
has indicated how the troops might have been disposed so 
as on the first alarm to have assembled, the Prussians at 
Genappe, and Wellington at Hal. On correct principles it 
has been advocated by Willisen that when time is insufficient 
to concentrate forward, it must be effected rearwards, at any 
sacrifice of territory — for concentration is the first and para- 
mount object to be aimed at. 

The truth is, that although most cases, whether of offence 
or defence, had been foreseen and talked over by the Allies, 
the conviction obtained that it was not probable Napoleon 
would take the offensive ; and further, his concentration was 
a splendid military operation, which found them more or less 
unready. Blucher was well acquainted with Napoleon, and 
was the first to act, while Wellington delayed. 

Hooper's defence of the Duke is that of an advocate rather 
than of an historian. 

But these very circumstances disprove the assertion made 
earlier by Chesney (page 37), " That the attempts to restore his 
throne by arms was the greatest of conceivable blunders." 
The Emperor's plan was based upon the imperfect preparations 
of the Allies ; and he presumed to engage an army, originally 
inferior, on equal terms by skill and surprise, which is the 
great object of all true strategy. 


The theatre of war has five natural divisions : — 

(1) Between the Sea and the Lys. 

(2) „ Lys and Scheldt. 

(3) „ Scheldt and Sambre. 

(4) „ Sambre and Meuse. 

(5) „ Meuse and Moselle. 

In this area the fortresses closing or defending the three 
gaps towards the west were (1) Dunkirk and Ypres, (2) Cour- 
trai and Oudenarde, (3) Tournai and Mons. 

The country in the neighbourhood of the Sambre is undu- 
lating and partially wooded, with no fortresses, and good roads 
leading direct to Brussels. This area therefore offered other 
great advantages besides that of containing the point of junc- 
tion of the Allies ; and viewing all these considerations, the 
Emperor decided on selecting it, striking at the point of union 
of both armies, engaging each separately, and, after defeat- 
ing them, to occupy the capital and enlist the resources of 

The orders for march were therefore issued ; the corps were 
to move at 3 A.M., so as to arrive on the Sambre by 9 or 
10 A.M. 

Eeille, on Marchiennes, seized the bridge there, pressing 
Ziethen back. 

D'Erlon followed him slowly. 

Vandamme was to appear before Charleroi by 10 a.m. with 
Rogniat and the engineers, escorted by Pajol ; Lobau was to 
start one hour after Vandamme ; the Guard an hour after 
Lobau ; the baggage was not to follow the corps ; and lastly, 
Gerard was to move from Philippeville at 3 for Le Chatelet, 
to seize the bridge and cross the river there. 

Thus the first operation was the passage of the Sambre and 
concentration on the left bank ; but already unforeseen diffi- 
culties occurred, and while. Vandamme was delayed by the 
non-arrival of his orders till 6 a.m., Gerard was not ready to 
start till 5, and reaching Chatelet late that day, at 3 p.m., 
owing to bad roads, only crossed with part of his troops. Still 
the bridge of Charleroi was in French hands by noon, though 
Pajol had previously been repulsed. The roads followed by 
Keille had been bad, and his flanking parties had crossed at 

WATERLOO, 1815. 209 

Lobbes, patrolling towards Mons and Binclie. Thus by 12 
o'clock the heads of the left and centre column were over the 
Sambre, though the rear of the former was still struggling in 
the valley of the river, the rear of the centre was yet 2 hours 
distant from Charleroi, and the right was 3 hours from Chatelet. 

The first part of the programme had been imperfectly exe- 
cuted, only Eeille's corps, part of the Guard, and two other 
divisions, were on the left bank. Bourmont's desertion the 
previous evening had possibly rendered slight alterations 
necessary, and had caused further delay. Ziethen, pressed 
by Keille and endangered by the loss of Charleroi, succeeded 
by skilful handling and hard fighting in extricating his bri- 
gade and retreating on Gilly for Fleurus and Bry. Ney 
arrived at 4 p.m. at the fork of the Narnur and Brussels 
roads, and was directed to take command of the 1st and 2d 
corps, Pire's cavalry, and the light horse of the Guard, 
forming the left column, and advance on Brussels, as the 
Prussians, by retreating towards the north-east, had left the 
road open. Grouchy, hesitating to attack the Prussians at 
Gilly, rode back for instructions ; but the position was eventu- 
ally carried at 6 p.m., the Prussians halting at Fleurus, the 
French at Lambusart. 

On the left, Bachelu encountered Perponcher at Frasne, 
when Prince Bernard of Saxe Weimar directed a retreat 
on Quatre Bras, where, the ground concealing his weakness, 
he proposed to stand ; and Ney reconnoitring the position at 
8 p.m. decided that, with his men fatigued by 17 hours' 
marching, he would not attack. He therefore halted the 
troops at Frasne and returned to Charleroi. Thus, on the 
evening of the 15th, the positions were as follows : — 

( Ney's cavalry and 1 division, Reille, Frasne. 

J 2 ii ' ii Gosselies. 

•> ' \ 1 „ Gerard, Wangenies. 

( D'Erlon between Marchiennes and Gosselies. 

I Infantry of the Guard, at Charleroi. 

Centre. I Its heavy cavalry and two of Grouchy's 

v reserve cavalry divisions with Lobau, South of Sambre. 

„. , ( Vandamme, before Fleurus and Gilly. 
19 \ Gerard, half north half south of the 


Thus 35,000 men at least were not over, though the order 
of the day designed that they should be across by noon. 


Ziethen at Fleurus and Bry, after fighting on both roads. 

Pirch at Mazy, 4 miles from Sombref. 

Thielemann at Naniur. 

Bulow marching for Hannnt, delayed by contradictory orders, re- 

ceiving one order at 5 a.m. on the 15th, to concentrate, and 
then another to march at once on Hannut, which was 25 
miles from Ligny. 

Headquarters and reserve at Brussels. 

Prince of Orange to collect at Ath, Braine-le-Comte, and Nivelles. 
Perponcher spontaneously occupied Quatre Bras, instead of Nivelles, as 

Lord Hill at Enghien with also the cavalry. 
Prince Frederick's Belgians at Sotteghem. 


From Charleroi the main road diverges a short dis- 
tance north of the town, sending one branch through Gos- 
selies, Quatre Bras, Mont St Jean, and Brussels — the other 
by Gilly, Fleurus, Ligny, and Sombref, to Liege. The great 
highway from Namur to Nivelles passes through Sombref and 
Quatre Bras, and thus the three points Charleroi, Sombref, 
Quatre Bras, form what is called the Fleurus triangle, the 
sides of which are respectively — 

Quatre Bras 


13 miles ; 


Quatre Bras, 

8 miles ; 



13 miles ; 

while Brussels is 21 miles from Quatre Bras. 

It was on the northern face of this triangle that the junc- 
tion of the Allied forces was to take place. The Prussians 
were to assemble between Sombref and Charleroi, the English 
between Marchiennes and Gosselies. As Muffling asserts, 
" had these positions been attained, the Allied armies would 
have guarded the approaches to the Brussels and Namur roads, 
and the one attacked would be aided by a flank attack from 
the other." 

At 3 p.m. on the loth, but one Prussian corps was on the 

WATERLOO, 1815. 211 

ground — and, save Perponcher, not one man of Wellington's 
army was within reach of it; while 40,000 French had crossed 
at Marchiennes, and 70,000 were crossing at Charleroi. 

If this be so, not only is the dislocation of the troops open 
to criticism, but dispositions based on such a possible disloca- 
tion are open to censure as marking a miscalculation of time 
and distance. 

Bernard of Saxe Weimar had concentrated his brigade 
at Quatre Bras, with one battalion and a light battery at 
Frasne, and was prepared to check Ney. But the rising 
ground and woods obscuring his position, and the fatigued 
state of the French left wing, which, marching since 3 A.M., 
was considerably in advance of the right, justified Ney in 
not advancing unless his orders were peremptory. His own 
division stretched far back, and Napoleon himself could not 
know what force confronted him at Quatre Bras. 

The first intelligence of the advance was received by 
Muffling from Ziethen about 3 p.m. on the 15th, but none 
had arrived from the other Allied outposts ; orders for divi- 
sional concentration were therefore transmitted about 6 p.m. 
Ziethen has stated that at 4 a.m. he despatched the news that 
he was attacked to Wellington also ; but it was late in the 
afternoon when, receiving a brief account from the Prince of 
Orange, the first order directing the troops to be in readiness 
was issued ; the Prince of Orange was to collect at Ath and 
Braine-le-Comte with the Dutch Belgians at Nivelles, where 
the 3d division was also to march if necessary. 

The Prince of Orange had remained at Brussels and gone to 
a ball, but reached Braine at 3 a.m. on the 16th, after having 
been treated with some petulance by Wellington, on account 
of his anxiety regarding the French advance. Nevertheless 
the second order for actual movement was at length issued. 

As we have seen, at this time Prince Bernard had concen- 
trated his brigade at Quatre Bras, and Constant Piebecque 
(Orange's chief of staff) had at 10 p.m. received orders to 
support him. 

The second order directed a concentration at Nivelles , 
which, if carried out, would have left the Quatre Bras and 
Brussels road open to Ney as far as Waterloo. 


The night passed, therefore, without a man of Wellington's 
force having moved towards the enemy, save those Dutch 
Belgians who had concentrated without orders from head- 
quarters, and who recognised the danger of the situation. 

Hooper asserts that Wellington would have done what Per- 
poncher did had he been at Nivelles or Braine ; but that brings 
the question to the real issue, — Was Wellington in his right 
place at Brussels on the 1 5th ? The best answer is to refer to 
Muffling's own opinion. 

On the French side the concentration had been far from 
perfect. Vanclamme's delay in receiving his order, probably 
due to the despatch of only one messenger, who was pre- 
vented by a fall from conveying it until Lobau had closed 
with the 3d corps, has been described by Napoleon "un 
funeste contretemps ; " the vital position, the line Quatre Bras- 
Sombref, had not been gained, for neither Ney nor Grouchy 
had, thanks to Ziethen's fine bearing, been able to advance 
as far that day. 

Much discussion has taken place with regard to Ney's 
orders. Undoubtedly verbally given, their character has been 
generally a subject for dispute. There were evident reasons 
why he did not reach the necessary point, in the fatigue and 
want of concentration of his own force ; and at any rate, 
the orders issued to move at break of day on the 16th beyond 
Quatre Bras, occupying then the Brussels-Nivelles-Namur road, 
made no reference to any previous neglect, nor does it appear 
that Grouchy was expressly directed to occupy Sombref. 

Still the balance of strategical success was assuredly with 
Napoleon. He had nearly 100,000 men north of the Sambre 
on the very ground on which the Allies were to have met 
him. Blucher had but one corps there, two were near, and 
the fourth not available at all. Wellington had moved not 
a man, but had ordered a concentration which would have 
kept Ney at liberty to push on to within 15 miles of Brussels. 

lQth June. — Ney spent many hours of the night with the 
Emperor, and left him at 2 a.m. without positive orders. 

WATERLOO, 1815. 213 

Grouchy reported at 6 a.m. that the Prussians (Pirch only) 
were deploying before Fleurus ; but it was not till 8 A.M. that 
the dispositions for the day were conceived. The general 
plan was to form the army into two wings, each to act on one 
side of the Fleurus triangle. 

Grouchy with Gerard, Vandamme, and three out of the four 
corps of reserve cavalry, was to march on Sombref, take up a 
position there, push on an advanced-guard towards Gembloux, 
reconnoitre well to the front, and establish communication 
with Ney. 

Ney with Pteille, D'Erlon, one corps of reserve cavalry, and 
the cavalry of the Guard, was directed to put himself in 
motion for Quatre Bras, reconnoitring the Brussels and Nivelles 
roads ; and, if not inconvenient, to push a division and some 
cavalry to Genappe, and another to Marbais, connecting these 
with the cavalry of the Guard. 

The Emperor went to Sombref. 

Simultaneously with these orders a separate letter was dic- 
tated to Ney, concluding, — " At 3 p.m. or perhaps in the even- 
ing at Gembloux, will decide on my course according to 
circumstances. I wish you to arrive at Brussels to-morrow 

Evidently the Emperor concluded at this period that the 
Allies, surprised, would endeavour to unite by retreating, if 
they had any intention of uniting at all. 

The orders were transmitted to Ney at 11 a.m. He had 
reported that the enemy was concentrating at Quatre Bras ; 
and in reply received a third despatch, directing him to con- 
centrate D'Erlon, Pieille, and Kellerman, and drive the British 
out, afterwards detaching D'Erlon to operate on the Prussian 

This answer to the evident importance of Ney's report, 
evinces some previous uncertainty of action on this side. 

Ney then issued his instructions to his lieutenants. D'Erlon 
was to send three divisions to Frasne and one to Marbais, the 
cavalry under Kellerman to remain at Frasne for the time. 
Reille, who had waited for distinct orders, owing to Gerard's 
report of the concentration of the Prussians on the Ligny 
heights, moved off at 11 to Frasne (about six miles), and at 


2 p.m. the French advance in force brought on the battle of 
Quatre Bras. 

Meanwhile Vandamme had advanced through Fleurus, and 
the rest of the French had crossed the Sambre. Grouchy's 
advance had come into contact with the Prussians, and at 

3 p.m. commenced the battle of Ligny. 


/With Ney, .... 45,000 

J With Napoleon, . . . 64,000 

\ In support, Lobau, . . . 10,000 

(in rear, .... 5,000 

Prussian. Blucher, 3 corps, . . . 87,000 

„ ... , j Perponclier's division only at first, 
T \ but finally in all, . . . 30,000 

At 11 a.m., Wellington had arrived from Brussels, and had 
an interview with Blucher at Bry, where it was decided that if 
Wellington were not attacked he should support Blucher, but 
if assailed, he should endeavour to drive back to Frasne the 
force opposed to him at Quatre Bras, though he was ignorant 
of its strength. On his return to Quatre Bras, the position of 
the force there was extremely dangerous, and the Prince of 
Orange was hard pressed ; but Picton and Van Merlen's arrival 
at 3 p.m., the former after a delay at Waterloo, the latter from 
Nivelles, somewhat restored the battle. 

At 6 p.m. came the last order from Napoleon to Ney. The 
severe nature of the fight at Ligny was commented on, and 
the Marshal was directed to manoeuvre so as to fall on the 
right rear of the Prussians, for " the fate of France is in your 

But the force confronting him was too strong to be ne- 
glected, and the battle was far too pronounced. Another attack, 
aided by Kellerman, was defeated by the English Guards, and 
Ney was driven back to Frasne, while his opponent bivou- 
acked on the ground. At this time the force at Wellington's 
disposal amounted to 30,000 men. 

The failure of the French plan on this side was chiefly 
due to the eccentric movements of D'Erlon's corps : first, 
when advancing towards Ney, it had diverged towards the 

WATERLOO, 1815. 215 

field of Ligny, where it was mistaken for an enemy's column ; 
then countermarching towards Frasne, it reached there after 
Ney's defeat, so that the 1st corps, which would have been 
valuable in either battle, was lost to both. 

Napoleon had fought the Allies in two battles, in which the 
English leader had 62,000 men absent, and the Prussian 
30,000, with nevertheless inferior numbers at both points. 
D'Erlon had not assisted Ney ; Lobau had not been used at 


No orders were issued till six hours of daylight had passed 
away, and the French remained inactive while Blucher con- 
centrated at Ligny three-fourths of his army. This was 
because clearly Napoleon expected no serious opposition from 
either the English or Prussians at present, and he had exag- 
gerated the value of his own success so far. He hesitated too, 
in indecision whether to press on between the Allies to Brus- 
sels, or to strike heavily the Prussian right. This delay was 
in fact due to false impressions of the enemy, and to waiting 
for information before acting. Blame has here again been 
unjustly thrown on Ney ; but there was evidently no delay on 
Ney's part when the orders were really issued, for the Marshal 
actually exceeded his instructions in not waiting for D'Erlon, 
who, left till 11 a.m. in rear of Gosselies, was consequently late 
in coming up, and then turned off the road to Frasne, owing 
to the mistaken zeal of an aide-de-camp, when he should 
rather have marched on Quatre Bras. When he did so in 
obedience to Ney's imperative order, the Emperor tacitly con- 
senting, he arrived too late to influence the action, and Ney 
was consequently outnumbered, defeated, and driven back. 

Nevertheless Ney had fully employed Wellington, and had 
prevented his active co - operation with Blucher, who was 
beaten by the Emperor's superior tactics. 

It is important to bear in mind the original problem Napo- 
leon had to solve — viz., being inferior in force, to prevent the 
general concentration of his two adversaries, and to engage 
each singly on terms of equality at least. Having crossed the 
Sambre, no time was to be lost. Strategic success is of no 


value unless followed up immediately by the tactical blow, for 
the enemy recovers and has time to meet the emergency. 

One danger was attached to the enterprise — that in dealing 
with two armies, each equal to him, in the manner proposed, 
he would be jammed in between them, as was subsequently 
the case at Waterloo. Here was an additional reason for 
rapid action. 

Probably he was of the opinion, judging from the precedent 
mentioned by Chesney, that, if they were unable to effect con- 
centration, each Allied army would retire along diverging lines 
to their respective bases, thus exposing Brussels. 

In this case there is a strange alteration in the personal 
character of the man, and the true cause of the lost oppor- 
tunity must be sought in the Emperor's own shortcomings. 
To shift these on the shoulders of subordinates, to retain un- 
tarnished the most splendid military reputation ever gained 
by man, was his own object and that of his advocates, causing 
endless controversies, now cleared up by the efforts of Charras, 
Quinet, Kennedy, Chesney, and Clausewitz. 

The effect of these shortcomings was the indecisive result 
of the 16th — that is to say, the opportunity of effecting con- 
centration was still left to the Allies if they knew how to avail 
themselves of it. This question of reunion is all-important 
to a clear understanding of the campaign. It could be 
answered only by the Prussians, who were defeated at Ligny. 
Wellington victorious t at Quatre Bras, could not unite with 
Blucher retiring on Namur and Liege ; nor could he dictate 
his line of retreat to Blucher when his communications were 
concerned, for subsistence must come before all. His deter- 
mination would therefore be dependent on the resolution of 
the Prussian commander in his hour of defeat. 

Blucher, unhorsed at Ligny, was absent, so Gneisenau 
assumed command and issued orders for retreat upon Wavre. 

From the readiness of the order, the point had "probably 
been talked over during the progress of the action, the result 
had been foreseen, and the all-importance of seeking commu- 
nication in rear was at once recognised. The real merit and 
value of the step is to be sought in the sinking of individual 
considerations for the general purpose of the campaign. 

WATEELOO, 1815. 217 

Betreat on Wavre signified unassured subsistence in 24 
hours, and the risk was encountered for the purpose of advan- 
tageous battle. This was precisely what Napoleon did not 
expect. He wrote on the early morning of the 17th to Ney, 
" The Prussian army has been put to rout ; Pajol is pursuing 
it on the road to Namur and Liege." By deciding to retire 
on Wavre, therefore, the Prussians not only deprived Napo- 
leon of any strategic results at Ligny, but they repaired their 
own early faults, and by deceiving the anticipations of the 
Emperor, induced him to commit a series of mistakes. 

We have seen Wellington remaining in possession ot 
Quatre Bras, having narrowly escaped losing the position by 
withholding so long the advance of the reserve. 

The question of the absolute value of Quatre Bras has been 
contested. Olausewitz urges that Ney could not have pushed 
on towards Brussels without risk; that his advancing could 
not have prevented Wellington's concentration at some point 
beyond; that in occupying Wellington, Ney's task was fulfilled; 
and that intervention at Ligny was an afterthought. It is 
evident, however, that if the Prussians purposed to fight at 
Ligny, Quatre Bras was all-important. Wellington's concen- 
tration would be impeded by its loss, his subsequent commu- 
nication with Blucher would be rendered difficult, and co- 
operation at Waterloo improbable. 

Favoured by fortune in not having lost that point, where 
he had only three-eighths of his infantry, one-third of his guns, 
and one-seventh of his cavalry, henceforth Wellington shines 
with singular brilliancy. 

17th June. — The Prussians started for Wavre at the earliest 
daybreak, Bulow being at Sauviniere ; Ziethen by Tilly, Gen- 
tinnes, Mont St Guibert to Wavre, where he crossed the Dyle ; 
Pirch followed, halting on the south side ; Thielemann with the 
reserve parks moved by Gembloux (2 p.m.), reaching Wavre 
so late that the whole corps was not carried to the north 
bank ; Bulow by Walhain and Corbaix to Dion-le-Mont, 
relieving Pirch and covering the rear of the army. More 
direct movement across the Dyle was not feasible, owing to 


the nature of the country and the necessity for uniting with 
Bulow, whose reinforcements were valuable. Wavre there- 
fore united the requisite demands both for junction and 

Wellington slept at Genappe, ignorant, it is said, of the 
Prussian intention and the events of the day at Ligny. During 
the night his force had been increased to 45,000 ; but Hill 
was still at Nivelles, Braine-le-Comte, and Enghien — and 
Chasse" still at Nivelles. He rode early to Quatre Bras, where 
he communicated with Ziethen, and received messages from 
Blucher, when retreat became of course necessary. The 
French were inactive under his eyes ; and this, coupled with 
the Prussian retreat, influenced his resolve to halt and fight 
in front of Brussels on the previously-reconnoitred position of 
Waterloo, which, from its situation and proximity to Blucher, 
seemed appropriate, provided that the Prussian general would 
assist him with a part of his army. The retreat was therefore 
conducted in good order. Hill moved direct from Nivelles 
on Waterloo, Prince Frederick and Colville from Enghien to 
Hal, where they remained to cover Brussels on that side ; and 
during the day, Blucher, who had recovered from his fall and 
resumed command, sent the cheering message that he would 
march with his whole army to join Wellington on the heights of 
Mont St Jean. Such a resolution of a commander of a defeated 
army without supplies requires no comment. Napoleon, who 
had slept at Fleurus, visited the battle-field at 8 a.m. There 
were three courses open to him : 1. To follow the retreating 
Prussians with all the force in hand ; 2. To march away from 
them, and, uniting with Ney, crush Wellington; 3. Pursue 
the beaten army, and advance against the other. He selected 
the latter ; and a first despatch was sent to Ney containing 
the provisional order that if only an English rear-guard was 
at Quatre Bras, he was to " beat it off," as the day was re 
quired for reorganisation. Lobau (minus Teste) therefore 
advanced to that point at 10 a.m., and was followed by the 
Guard an hour later. A second letter was forwarded to Key 
at noon, directing him to attack the enemy in his front, in 
which he would be supported from Marbais. After this he 
sent for Grouchy, and, giving him verbal instructions, intrusted 

WATERLOO, 1815. 219 

him with a detached command to pursue the Prussians. His 
force was composed of — 

Vandamme, .... 


Gerard, .... 




Excelmans, .... 




Total, . . . 33,000, with 96 guns. 

Grouchy's remonstrances on the ground of the start obtained 
by the Prussians, were made in vain. Positive written orders 
from Marbais followed, directing him to march on Gembloux, 
pursue vigorously to complete Blucher's defeat, find out what 
the enemy was doing, and communicate with Napoleon by 
the Namur road. 

Already doubts began to rise in Napoleon's mind relative 
to the course the Prussians had adopted. But Grouchy's 
cavalry had started, though the infantry were delayed ; and 
finally, heavy rain having rendered the march on bad roads 
inconceivably slow and tedious, the tail of the column reached 
Gembloux at 10 p.m. Here he reported on Thielemann's march, 
and inferred from it that the Prussians had divided — the right 
to join Wellington, the centre with Blucher on Liege, the left 
to Namur; but he did not, until 2 a.m. on the following 
morning, decide on marching to Wavre rather than to Perwez. 
Excluding the Guard, which was left at Ligny, the French 
force at Quatre Bras on this day numbered 72,000 men and 
240 guns. The pursuit of the British was continued through 
a day of rain, without any great delay except that caused by 
a cavalry action at Genappe ; and at dusk the army halted 
in presence of the enemy, and bivouacked at La Belle Alliance. 

The inaccuracy of Thiers's account of this day is singularly 
noticeable, as, indeed, is that of many other historians ; and 
the blame thrown on Ney seems to be without foundation. 
Bulow's position at Dion -le- Mont was ill chosen, as the 
crossing of the columns became unavoidable. The lack of 
information from the Prussians exposed Wellington to grave 
danger on the 17th, had the French been disposed to push 
their advantage. 


The delay of the French, the misappreciation displayed by 
Napoleon of the Prussian line of retreat and the nature of the 
hostile combination, coupled with the lateness of his departure 
for the Quatre Bras road, were errors pregnant with the 
gravest results. When the Emperor started at noon, Welling- 
ton was already retreating, and the Prussians were assem- 
bling at Wavre,, while Grouchy was outside the Prussians. 
He has been unjustly blamed for not reconnoitring the Tilly 
road, for his last instructions were not verbal, but written 
and explicit. 

18th June.— At Mont St Jean. The night of the 17th had 
passed with heavy rain until 4 A.M., and the troops suffered 
much. The Emperor was calmly confident of victory; and, 
enjoying the sight of the enemy in position, did not hurry 
his preparations for battle. No allusion was made to his 
expecting any active support from Grouchy; and this fact, 
coupled with his inactivity, serves to show how completely 
he was deceived as to the nature of the purposed Prussian 
co-operation. At 8 a.m. he learned that Wellington was 
not intrenched, and deployed his army in three lines. The 
deliberation of this parade of his strength was designed to 
exercise a moral influence on the enemy. 

Wellington was equally prepared at 8 A.M., and rode down 
the front of his line of battle. 

Numbers. — Wellington, 69,000 (of which 12,000 were 
cavalry), and 156 guns. Napoleon, 72,000 (of which 15,000 
were cavalry), and 240 guns. 

Muffling meanwhile was engaged in making arrangements 
for the Prussian co-operation. There were three lines by which 
their assistance could be rendered : — 

1. Should Wellington's right be attacked, the Prussians 
could march to Ohain. 

2. If the centre or left, one corps should move on St 
Lambert, and the rest on Ohain. 

3. Should the French advance on St Lambert, the Prussians 
should receive the attack while Wellington operated on the 
French flank and rear. 

Of these the second was finally seen to be probable ; and 
at 11.30 word to that effect was sent to Blucher. 

WATERLOO, 1815. 221 

There were two roads from Wavre to the battle-field : — 

1. By St Lambert and the Lasne valley to Plancenoit and 
the Caillou farm on the Brussels road. 

2. By Froidmont and Ohain to Mont St Jean. 

Both therefore were to be used by the Prussians on the 
18th— the first by Bulow and Pirch, the second by Ziethen ; 
while Thielemann, covering the march if no enemy pursued, 
was to follow to Plancenoit. The country between Wavre 
and Waterloo is broken into wooded hills with country lanes 
in the hollows between them, which had been rendered un- 
usually bad by the heavy rain. Thus there were many things 
which delayed Bluchers advance. Bulow's position on the 
wrong side of the Dyle on the 17th, necessitated, in order to 
get him into his position in retreat, his crossing Ziethen's 
line of march ; a fire broke out in the town while the corps of 
Bulow was passing through ; and lastly, the late muster of the 
troops, for they did not start till 7, all tended to render their 
advance slow, so that it was noon before Bulow's leading- 
brigade reached St Lambert, and 3 o'clock before the troops 
had closed up. Still, at 4.30 Blucher advanced with what 
troops he had in hand against the French right. 

Napoleon was aware before going into battle of the line 
taken by Ziethen from Ligny, but he was still under the 
impression that the mass of Blucher's force had gone eastward 
from that battle-field. He did not know that round Wavre 
were then assembled, and even moving towards him, 100,000 

At 10 a.m. a letter was sent to Grouchy to inform him of 
the impending battle, and directing him to march on Wavre, 
thus implying the conviction that he was between Blucher 
and Wellington. 

It is not intended to go into the details of the battle. The 
position was strong and well chosen. The tenacity of Welling- 
ton's soldiery enabled him to hold out against, on the whole, 
better troops ; but there were still two striking defects in the 
Allied dispositions — the retention of the detachment at Hal, 
and the tardiness, unavoidable in some respects as it was, of 
the Prussian march. The leading events of the action may 
be summarised as follows : — 


11.30. Artillery-fire. 

12. Attack on Hougomont (a demonstration). 

1.30. Ney's attack with D'Erlon on the left centre. About 
this time columns of troops were seen towards St Lambert, 
and 3000 cavalry were detached, while a second letter was 
despatched to Grouchy directing him to " crush Bulow." A 
Prussian hussar was also captured ; and Napoleon at length 
began to see clearly the danger that threatened him. 

2 p.m. Lobau was detached to the right with 10,000 men. 

4. Cavalry attack on the British centre. 

6. Infantry assault renewed and La Haye Sainte carried. 
This endangered the British centre, but the attack was un- 
supported. About this time the full pressure of Bulow's 
column was felt by Lobau ; and at 

6.30. The Guard, 4000 strong, reinforced him. 

7.30. Ziethen appeared on Wellington's left, thus relieving 
the pressure on his centre by releasing the cavalry divisions 
there ; and Lobau was again reinforced, having received 
altogether 16,000 men. The assault of the Imperial Guard 
took place about this time, and was repulsed ; and at the same 
time the capture of Plancenoit terminated the action. 

Thus there were five distinct attacks — viz., Hougomont, 
D'Erlon, Cavalry, La Haye Sainte, and the Guard ; and of 
these the first four were received by Wellington without 
direct help, against an army which Kennedy estimates as 
superior to him in the ratio of 7 to 4. 

Turning to Grouchy, the delays that had attended the 
operations of the belligerents had been equally shared by him. 
He had not left his bivouacks till 9 o'clock, and moving by 
one road reached Sart-les-Walhain, where he heard the 
cannon of Waterloo. This caused a halt, and a discussion as 
to the course to be pursued — whether to continue the march 
according to Napoleon's existing orders, or move on Mousty 
and Ottignies, and so to Plancenoit, distant ] 4 miles. Gerard 
was of the last opinion, Grouchy of the former ; and finally the 
march was resumed on Wavre, an engagement with Pirch's 
rear-guard occurring at Baraque. 

At 2 o'clock the Prussians had crossed the Dyle at Bierges, 
by which time Ziethen was approaching Ohain, and Bulow St 

WATERLOO, 1815. 223 

Lambert, leaving only Thielemann at Wavre, where he was 
preparing to follow when Vandamme's column appeared. At 
4 p.m., when the column had closed up, and Grouchy was 
making dispositions for attack, the Emperor's first letter 
reached him ; and, congratulating himself on having followed 
out his superior's express wish, he proceeded to attack. A 
sharp encounter, lasting until dusk, obtained for him the 
passage of the Dyle at Limal, two miles higher up than 
Wavre, though he only succeeded in crossing with one wing 
of his army ; and repulsing there a night attack, the action 
ceased with both of the contesting parties in ignorance of the 
greater events that had taken place at Waterloo. 

The pursuit from Mont St Jean was conducted in the most 
perfect manner by the Prussian troops. Gneisenau, with 
untiring energy, conducted it in person ; and some of Bulow's 
cavalry even reached Gosselies before daybreak on the follow- 
ing day. 


There are three supposititious reasons for Napoleon's delay 
in attacking : — 

1. To give Grouchy time to arrive ; but this is untenable. 

2. To let the ground harden after the heavy rain, as it was 
unfavourable for offensive action. 

3. To display his strength, and intimidate his adversary. 
All the evidence known shows that he was totally ignorant 

of Blucher's approach. Even if he had known, under the 
existing circumstances it would be hopeless to expect any 
assistance from Grouchy. What with the inclemency of the 
weather and the state of the roads, he had taken twenty-four 
hours to traverse the 20 miles between Ligny and Wavre. 
Had he changed direction, it would have been too late, for, 
according to Quinet, he could not have reached the battle- 
field for nine hours. 

Blucher's dispositions to support Wellington with 20,000 
men, while he threw 70,000 on Napoleon's flank, were ex- 
cellent ; and his errors of detail were due to circumstances 
which it would have been difficult, though not impossible, to 


The influence of personal character upon soldiers under an 
emergency is well illustrated by the energy his bearing threw 
into those he commanded. 

Grouchy has been charged with committing an error in not 
crossing the Dyle at Limal ; but while this is refuted by what 
is known of the opposition he encountered at Wavre, it is 
Jomini's opinion that two corps at most would have been 
detained. A minor risk was no doubt incurred by Blucher 
but it was for the major advantage. 

Charras argues that Grouchy 's great inferiority to the 
Prussians prevented his forming an element of importance 
in the day's operations. This is true enough. The original 
numerical inferiority was so telling that Grouchy would have 
.been insufficient to counteract it. The flank march of 
Blucher was equally unsuspected by both Napoleon and 
Grouchy ; and owing to the detachment of Lobau, the 
French troops engaged with Wellington were reduced to 

The tactical errors of Napoleon were in themselves serious 
enough, and were partly due to his altered individuality. 
Brialmont sums up his criticism by pointing out that the 
over-deep masses in which the attacks were made, the too 
early employment of cavalry, his hesitation in pushing his 
local successes, and the want of support afforded to all his 
attacks, were distinct errors. For one of these, that of want 
of support, there is, however, one powerful excuse. Through 
not recognising the strategic possibility, no arrangements were 
specially made for the protection of the right wing ; and when 
his attention was drawn to it, his original order was discon- 
nected, and support of other parts of the field became most 

Though Wellington's subdivision of his force by leaving 
the detachment at Hal is not to be defended, his bearing on 
the battle-field was perfect ; and such a combination of skill 
and mutual support as was evidenced by the co-operation of 
Blucher and Wellington at Waterloo, has never before been 
witnessed in Allied armies led by independent generals. But 
the victory had been dearly purchased. The Prussian loss 
was 7000 ; the British 15,000 ; and though the French loss 

WATERLOO, 1815. 225 

is difficult to estimate, it can scarcely have been less than 
30,000 men. 

Throughout the whole of the operations of the 17th- 
18th, Grouchy 's conduct is characterised by want of real 
resolution. He was in possession of 5000 cavalry ; and with 
this force, which was capable at any rate of more speedy 
movement than the other arms, even under the circumstances 
of bad roads, &c, the delay in marching off, and the slow 
progress of the extreme head of his advance, is unaccountable. 
Above all things, information was required ; and for such a 
purpose ample means were given. A marshal of France, 
intrusted with 35,000 men for a distinct purpose, is supposed 
to know his duty without instructions required for a sub- 
altern. No doubt the Emperor was under a false impression, 
but it was Grouchy's duty to have corrected this. Again, at 
Sart-les-Walhain there could be no mistake regarding the 
tenor of the instructions received ; but the fact was becoming 
every moment more palpable that these instructions were 
issued under false premises. 

Before his troops had closed up, he was aware that the bulk 
of the Prussians were at Wavre, and at the same time there 
was no doubt on bis mind but what Napoleon was engaged 
with the British at Waterloo. He simply had to examine the 
possibility of the Prussians manoeuvring towards Wellington. 
The probability was they would ; what, otherwise, would have 
been their object in abandoning their proper line, or in Wel- 
lington's standing to fight ? If this were so, a further advance 
on Wavre would be directly opposed to the spirit of his instruc- 
tions. If all this be taken into account, it will probably be 
considered that Grouchy evinced a lack of those qualities 
required in an independent commander, and that Soult's and 
Thiers's strictures in this respect are just, 

19£/t June. — Thielemann attacked Grouchy on the morning 
of the 19th and was repulsed by the French, who, driving him 
from point to point, then prepared to march on Brussels. But 
at 11 A.M. the marshal learnt the events at Waterloo, which 
news Thielemann had received at 8 or 9. 

Pirch halted at the close of the battle, and was ordered to 
face about so as to march on Sombref ; and crossing the Dyle 


at Bousval, he, at 11 A.M. on the 19th, reached Mellercy (five 
miles from Sombref), where, 16,000 strong, he halted for the 
rest of the day waiting for communication with Thielemann. 

Grouchy after Wavre had still 30,000 troops ; but on his 
right was Thielemann with 13,000, and on his left Borcke* 
with 5000 men. 

Chesney's view of the situation — viz., that Grouchy's position 
was desperate — is, however, not apparent. The retreat to 
Charleroi was doubtless closed, and the Ardennes offered no 
means of subsistence ; but Namur was still open, as the fortress 
had been abandoned by the Prussians, and if it were seized, 
the probability of escape was great. Excelmans was therefore 
despatched with seven regiments of cavalry, and the marshal 
followed with Gerard, leaving Vandainnie at Wavre to mask 
the retreat. Grouchy reached Sombref the same evening, and 
Vandamme Gembloux, in seven hours, from AVavre, while 
Thielemann took up the pursuit at daybreak. Both French 
corps started for Namur at 7, and both were attacked fruit- 
lessly. At 6 p.m. the whole of the French were in Namur, 
which Pirch assaulted, and was bloodily repulsed. The next 
day they moved to Dinant, Givet, and Soissons. 

The action of the Prussian commander in this pursuit has 
been severely criticised, but his best defence is in his inferi- 
ority in numbers, and in the wearied condition of his soldiers. 

The later events of the campaign are unimportant. On the 21st and 
22d of June Ziethen stormed Avesnes, and the Allied armies moved on 
Paris, the British by the right bank of the Oise, the Prussians by the left, 
curl i army further turning its attention to the frontier fortresses on its 
respective side. Thus Kleist moved on Mezieres, Pirch to besiege Mau- 
berge, Landrecies, Phillipeville, Rocroy, and Givet, and the 2d Nether- 
lands corps blockaded Quesney and Valenciennes. On the other side, 
Cambray was carried on the 25th by Colville, and Peronne on the 26th 
by Maitland. On the 28th the Prussians came up with Grouchy's rear- 
guard on the Soissons road and near Meaux. 

On the 29th and 30th, the Allies had crossed the Oise and Seine near 
Bondy and St Germain respectively, and after some slight skirmisher 
the capital surrendered, and the Allied armies entered it in triumph on 
the 7th July. 

Meanwhile Napoleon had abdicated and retired to Mahnaison, leaving 
it finally for Rambouillet, and thence for Rochefort, where on the 15th 

* Of Thielemann's division. 

WATETILOO, 1815. 227 

July he surrendered to Captain Maitland of the Bellerophon, and was 
conveyed to St Helena. But the return of the Bourbons was not like 
that of Napoleon at the beginning of the ninety days. To his credit be it 
said, " not a drop of blood for or against him had stained his restoration 
to the Imperial throne." But out of a long list of proscriptions delivered to 
the new conquerors, fifty-eight were sentenced to banishment. Colonel 
Labedoyere and Ney were sentenced to death and shot. Monsieur de 
Lavalette was also condemned, but effected his escape. Murat, reaching 
Corsica, made another effort to regain his throne of Naples, but met 
with no assistance from the populace, was taken prisoner, and after going 
through the form of trial, was led at once from the court-martial and 
shot. And so the last days of the First Empire ended in the death of 
two of the bravest marshals who ever fought for France. 

The final conditions of peace imposed on the French king were suffi- 
ciently onerous. The frontiers of the kingdom were to be limited to 
those occupied in 1790 ; the expenses of the war and the indemnity 
for the spoliation committed by Napoleon on the confederated states 
amounted to ,£61,500,000 ; and finally, an army of occupation was to hold 
seventeen of her fortresses for five years, and to be supported by the 
French Government. 

This was finally reduced to three years ; and on the 30th September 
1818, a general parade of the army of occupation was held on the plains 
of Famars near Valenciennes, and the Allies withdrew from French 

Thus terminated the wars of the Republic and the First Empire which 
followed the great Revolution, and which were in part, if not chiefly, 
caused by the assistance the sovereigns of Europe had rendered to the 
deposed and banished Bourbons, as well as by the hostility they had shown 
to the form of government first adopted by the French people. 


NOVARA, 1849. 

Introductory. — The peace of Europe remained unbroken for many years 
after the treaty of Paris. An alliance between England, France, and 
Eussia against the Turks, in support of the independence of Greece, led 
to the naval battle of Navarino in 1827, and in the following year a war 
broke out between Russia and Turkey, which was the result in some 
degree of this intervention. France and England again became allies in 
1830, when the Belgians revolted against the Dutch rule ; and in 1831 
Leopold of Saxe-Coburg was proclaimed king, the neutrality of Belgium 
being guaranteed by the great Powers. The five great European States 
again acted in concert in 1840 against the Pacha of Egypt, and despite 
the withdrawal of France from the coalition, enforced the abandonment 
of Syria by the Egyptian troops under Ibrahim Pasha, when Acre, 
Sidon, and Beyrout were bombarded by Stopford and Napier, and the 
integrity of Turkey was once more preserved. But in 1848 the elements 
of discord again appeared in two quarters, and led indirectly to the 
greater campaigns that have occurred since that date. 

Denmark had in 1846 incorporated Schleswig and Holstein into its 
kingdom ; but in 1848 these Duchies, during the continued disturbances 
and revolutions that were then shaking almost every throne in Europe, 
proclaimed their independence, and were supported in their demands by 
Prussia. On the other hand, Sweden and Russia supported Denmark ; 
and while the German ports were blockaded, some fruitless fighting 
occurred at Duppel and Gravenstein — after which, owing to the media- 
tion of Great Britain, an armistice was concluded at Malmo. 

In Italy, Venice and Milan attempted to throw off the Austrian yoke, 
and Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, marched to the assistance of the 
insurgents ; but he was finally defeated at Somma Riviera and Milan, 
and falling back on Turin, concluded an armistice with Austria. 

Throughout the whole of this year and part of the following, nearly 
every Continental State was torn by intestine revolutions. France had 
declared a republic, and Louis Philippe had fled to England. Disturb- 
ances occurred in Prussia, and Berlin was at one time in a state of siege. 

NOVARA, 1849. 229 

Revolts occurred at Naples, Sicily, and Rome, and at the latter place an 
attempt at French intervention by Oudinot eventually succeeded. In 
Vienna and Frankfurt the insurgents had to be reduced to submission by 
force of arms ; and when the Emperor of Austria resigned his crown to his 
nephew Francis Joseph, the Hungarians refused to accept his sovereignty, 
and a fiercely-contested struggle began in Hungary, which was only 
crushed by the active intervention of Russia (1849). 

Thus the troubles of this stormy period shattered the long peace which 
had followed the mighty wars of the Napoleonic Empire, and from Den- 
mark arose directly or indirectly the campaigns of 1864 in Schleswig, 
1866 in Germany and Italy, and 1870 in France; while the Italian revolt 
resulted in those of 1849, 1859, and 1866, by which, chiefly, Italy became 
a united kingdom, and ceased to be merely a geographical expression. 

The political frame of Europe rests upon certain treaties 
usually executed on the termination of long wars. It is in 
the nature of things that that power which has been defeated 
in war should find many of its best interests disregarded, or 
damaged, on such occasions. The first fitting opportunity is 
consequently seized by the sufferer to remedy those national 
grievances which he may have been compelled to put up with 
on the morrow of military disaster. Thus it comes to pass 
that these very documents, upon which, as a basis, the peace 
of Europe rests, themselves necessarily contain the seeds of 
future wars. Such eventualities may be deferred, or precipi- 
tated, according to the moderation, or greed, displayed by the 
victorious combatant ; but until a tribunal for the periodical 
revision of settlements, which after-events have rendered no 
longer necessary or absolutely unjust, be constituted by the 
common consent of the European community, it is difficult to 
discern by what means the evil, which all concur in deploring, 
may be avoided. 

It was but natural that the Powers which had contributed 
so much blood and treasure towards the purpose of the long 
wars which characterised the commencement of the present 
century, should be eager to consolidate their own interests, 
when the common object was effected by the downfall 
of Napoleon. The treaties of 1815, therefore, calculated to 
satisfy the demands of Great Britain, Eussia, Austria, and 
Prussia, must inevitably contain the elements of future poli- 
tical discontent for France, Poland, and Italy. As a conse- 


quence, each of these countries became, in turn, the scene of 
revolution or insurrection ; and the second campaign of the 
first war of Italian independence merits careful attention. 

The war originated in 1848, in the endeavour of the inhabi- 
tants to make a first step towards national unity, by expelling 
Austrian influence from Italian soil. By right of treaty, 
Austria was in actual possession of the Lombardo-Venetian 
kingdom, and, by virtue of dynastic relationship with the 
other reigning houses, she asserted her supremacy in the 
peninsula. Her rule throughout the territory which belonged 
to her had at first been mild and beneficent; but the form 
of government she employed was despotic, and as such, pecu- 
liarly odious to the Italians. Twice already, since the peace, 
military power had been effectually employed to quell violent 
outbursts of popular disaffection ; but the fire still smouldered, 
and, on the elevation of the present Pope — then known for 
his liberal tendencies — to the Chair, in 1846, threatened to 
break out once more into open flame. The revolution in 
Paris, which deprived Louis Philippe of his throne, in 
February 1848, sufficed to produce the catastrophe which 
all were daily expecting. On a signal, given by those who 
had organised the movement, Italy rose in insurrection against 
her rulers. Some of these sought safety in flight ; others, 
with more or less sincerity, joined the popular movement, 
which Austria now found herself called upon to confront. 

Strange as it appears, in spite of the indications of coming 
storm which had been faithfully reported from Milan to 
Vienna, no preparations had been made to provide for it. 
Forty years of peaceful slumber had blinded the imperial 
statesmen to impending commotion, and when the tempest 
really arrived they found themselves powerless to resist its 
influence. The military force maintained in Italy was small, 
and scattered, in order to garrison the many populous towns, 
from the Ticinus to the Isonzo. The viceregal court and the 
headquarters of the army were both seated in the Lombard 
capital, and now formed the object of attack of the revolu- 
tionary leaders. 

Fortunately for the Empire, the fate of her soldiers in 
Italy since 1831 had been intrusted to an officer whose 

NOVARA, 1849. 231 

experience of actual warfare has seldom been surpassed. 
Field-Marshal Count Eadetzky had held responsible position 
in the Austrian army since the days of Montenotte and 
Millesimo, having first earned his spurs in earlier campaigns 
against the Turks. As a colonel on Melas's Staff he witnessed 
the slaughter on the banks of the Fontanone, and, in com- 
mand of a regiment of cuirassiers, shared the subsequent dis- 
aster at Hohenlinden. In 1805 he fought under the Arch- 
duke Charles at Caldie>o ; and four years later, as Lieutenant 
Field-Marshal, commanded a division at Eckmtihl,Aspern, Wag- 
ram, and Znaim. Throughout the subsequent war of German 
liberation he was chief of the Austrian Staff, witnessed in 
that capacity Vandamme's destruction at Kulm, was wounded 
at the battle of Leipzig, which he personally planned, and 
again in the year following at La Eothiere. Foreseeing, from 
his intimate knowledge of the temper of the Italian people, 
the certainty of eventual collision, he had carefully prepared 
the instrument with which he might be called upon to act. 
For years past he had superintended the progress of the forti- 
fications on the banks of the Adige and Mincio ; and every 
autumn his soldiers were gathered from distant garrisons, to 
practise evolutions adapted to the country. Long and inti- 
mate acquaintance with the officers belonging to his command 
had enabled him to select men eminently suited to the respon- 
sible posts to which he appointed them. Few generals have 
made the physical wants of their soldiers the subject of such 
careful study ; none have better understood how, by amiable 
condescension, to gain the affections of subordinates in every 
degree. Though eighty-two years of age when called upon 
again to draw his sword, Eadetzky was still tolerably active, 
and in perfect possession of his intellectual faculties. The 
apathy of the Government, however, whose servant he was, 
had not permitted Eadetzky to take the precautions which 
his own sagacity suggested. The outbreak of the insurrec- 
tion, admirably planned throughout the northern portion of 
the peninsula — then the unexpected intervention of Charles 
Albert, King of Sardinia, with his regular army, in favour of 
the national movement — forced the Field-Marshal to aban- 
don the capital, in order to concentrate by converging retreat 


behind the Mincio in the strongholds prepared at Peschiera, 
Verona, and Mantua. 

This defensive action was determined by the inequality of 
the Austrian field-force. Concentration was the one thing 
necessary ; and Eadetzky showed an intelligent appreciation 
of his position in his determination to evacuate Milan. His 
difficulties were singularly great. Insurrection, open or sup- 
pressed, reigned in all the occupied provinces ; armed inter- 
vention by Sardinia was to be feared ; the garrisons he com- 
manded were small and scattered ; grave disaffection was 
prevalent in his army ; and, lastly, the revolution in the 
capital rendered all assistance from Vienna for some time 

The recovery of the balance of power was sought in posi- 
tions aided by fortifications, where the army might be enabled 
to stand, both in order to cover territory and to gain time for 
complete concentration. 

The positions found on river-lines are of two principal 
kinds in direction — that is, either perpendicular to, or 
parallel to, the frontier or base ; and both offer peculiar 

When united, they permit of the finest military combina- 
tions with the command of each ; but the value of such posi- 
tions had been overlooked by Austria in 1815, and what she 
actually possessed — viz., the Adda and the Po — was not fully 
utilised ; but, on the other hand, her entire attention had been 
concentrated on the Mincio and Adige, the configuration of 
the ground in that area having attracted the eye of the 
engineer at a time when the military value of intrenched 
camps on a large scale was not sufficiently appreciated. 

Without artificial aid, river-lines are defence] ess, as the 
first retreat of the Austrians, and subsequently that of the 
Piedmontese, shows ; but when fortified, they are of the 
highest value. Thus, the Quadrilateral (Peschiera, Verona, 
Mantua, and Legnago) fulfils all the requirements of a good 
defensive position, which are to cover rearward territory, to 
offer absolute shelter to a defending army whenever required, 
and to permit of ready offensive : first, by the parallel course 
of the Mincio and Adige ; secondly, by the fortresses on these 

NOVAKA, 1849. 233 

rivers ; thirdly, by passages offered at fortified points which 
insure the command of the rivers. 

But Eadetzky's position in the theatre was soon recovered. 
Though the Italians were four months in full possession of the 
Po, they failed to utilise it, evincing utter ignorance of military 
science. Cremona, Piacenza, Pavia, were all unheeded, though 
the effect of fortifying the first-mentioned place covering the 
main road to Pavia, and also an important point of passage on 
the Po, is evident. 

Eadetzky, under cover of the Quadrilateral, maintained at 
first a strictly defensive attitude, and parrying easily the first 
assault delivered by his adversary, awaited the reinforcements 
which would enable him to retake the field. Eepulsed at 
Goito on the 27th of May 1848, in his first attempt to resume 
the offensive, the incaution of his adversary presented him with 
a more favourable opportunity two months later. At the battle 
of Custozza, 22d to 26th of July, Charles Albert was signally 
defeated, and forced to retreat in great disorder upon Milan. 
This town he again evacuated on the 6th of August, and 
having recrossed the Ticinus into his own territory, concluded 
on the 9th of that month an armistice with the Austrian 
general, with a view to permanent peace. 

Venice, however, still remained in the hands of the national 
party, and whilst the Austrian commander was conduct- 
ing the siege of that town, political factions at Turin were 
arguing the advisability of continuing the war. Ultimately 
the war party gained the upper hand, and as Austria refused 
to negotiate on any other terms than the status quo ante helium, 
insisted upon the resumption of hostilities. Although Charles 
Albert may have recognised the hopelessness of a second 
struggle, the current of public opinion was now too strong for 
him to resist. The same extreme democratic faction which 
was all-powerful in the Sardinian capital, had simultaneously 
established its influence at Florence and Pome, forcing the 
Grand Duke of Tuscany, as well as the Pope, to seek safety 
in flight. 

Thus it was that the seven days' notice for resumption of 
hostilities, agreed to in the armistice of the preceding August, 
was now issued from Turin on the 12th of March 184'J. 


There can be no doubt but that the renewal of the war was 
singularly distasteful to both officers and men of the regular 
Sardinian army. If the object of the struggle had not been 
effected under circumstances the most favourable, how could it 
now be hoped to humble an adversary, who had enlisted on 
his behalf the prestige of recent victory? The troops, too, 
which had served to swell the numbers of the Sardinian army 
on the Mincio, had all returned to their native States at the 
termination of the first campaign, so that the conscription 
which was now introduced with a view to obtain the numbers 
necessary to wage offensive war, weighed most heavily upon 
the subjects of. Charles Albert. The hopeless task of disci- 
plining unwilling recruits, forced from their homes to serve 
a cause which the most ignorant recognised as desperate, 
increased the general want of confidence which notoriously 
existed. Popular clamour, too, attributed the recent failure 
to the military incapacity of the king and his superior officers. 
Upon whom, then, was the responsibility of the difficult opera- 
tions in prospect to devolve ? In his embarrassment the king- 
turned in vain to those officers of the French army who had 
gained reputation in the service of their own country. But 
his offers were respectfully declined, and ultimately his choice 
fell upon a Pole, Chrzanowsky, who had given proofs of ability 
in the war of independence which his country had waged 
against Russia in 1831. 

The task of this officer, as might be expected, proved no 
sinecure. Ignorant of the language, and a stranger to the 
habits of the people in whose service he was enlisted, little 
sympathy could exist between him and his subordinates. 
Moreover, the general officers superseded by his appointment 
were grievously hurt by the slur thus cast upon themselves, 
and criticised in no friendly spirit the orders issued from 

The effective force which Chrzanowsky found at his disposal 
consisted of about 85,000 men, with 150 guns, organised into 
seven divisions and two detached brigades. These divisions, 
varying in strength from 8000 to 13,000 men, were com- 
manded by the two sons of the king (the Dukes of Savoy and 
Genoa), Perrone, Bes, La Marmora, Durando, and Eamorino. 

NOVAKA, 184!). 235 

That commanded by La Marmora was posted, at the period of 
the suspension of the armistice, on the frontiers of Tuscany, 
and one of the detached brigades observed Piacenza at Castel 
St Giovanni, on the right bank of the Po. The determination 
of the Sardinian Cabinet to renew the war had been carefully 
concealed, with a view to secure the full advantage of the 
initiative in a war of invasion ; and owing principally to this 
circumstance, as well as to the rapidity with which the issue 
of the campaign was decided, these troops took no part in the 
active operations, and may therefore at once be dismissed from 
further consideration. 

The first object of the aggressive war now undertaken by 
the Sardinians, was necessarily the reconquest of Lombardy 
and the Duchies watered by the Po. The only two defensive 
lines of which the Austrians might avail themselves, without 
retiring at once to the Mincio, were those of the Ticinus and 
Adda, both tributaries of the Po. In the level and highly- 
cultivated lands of Lombardy, no military positions were else- 
where offered by incidents of ground, or by any system of per- 
manent fortifications. The purpose of the invading army 
must therefore be to force the enemy to abandon successively 
the above-mentioned lines, and with them the much-coveted 
Lombard territory. It has been considered that the soundest 
course of operating, with this object in view, would have been 
for the Sardinian army to have advanced on both or even on 
one bank of the Po, preserving sufficient means of communi- 
cation with both sides of the river to insure rapid concentra- 
tion, or ordered retreat, according to circumstances. The 
reasons which induced Chrzanowsky to reject this plan were 
probably of a political nature. Much stress was laid upon 
a renewal of the insurrection in Lombardy and the Venetian 
States, which in the previous year had proved so signally suc- 
cessful. Under these circumstances the occupation of Milan 
would be of primary significance, more especially as it was 
held, with considerable show of reason, that the Austrian 
general would not commit himself to the defence of the 
Ticinus, with the disaffected population of Milan, ripe for 
enterprise, immediately on his rear. The Sardinian com- 
mander determined, therefore, to make the Lombard capital his 


first objective point, selecting the line from Novara to Milan, 
by the bridge of Buffalora, as that presenting the most advan- 
tages. To this end he massed five of his divisions and the 
brigade Solaroli, between Novara and the Ticinus, and placed 
the sixth, commanded by Eamorino, in observation of Pavia. 
The conclusion that Eadetzky would not defend the line of 
the Ticinus, in a passive sense, was certainly sound, but it by 
no means followed that the Austrian general must consequently 
fall back upon the Adda. It was evidently on the cards that 
the Austrians would themselves enter Piedmont, in order thus 
to confront and deter invasion of their own territory. The 
Ticinus is bridged at several points on its short course from 
the Lago Maggiore to the Po. The principal of these passages 
are found at Sesto-Calencle, Turbigo, Buffalora, Vigevano, Bere- 
guardo, and Pavia. Close to the last-named fortress the river 
throws off a narrow arm which shortly rejoins the parent 
stream, enclosing by its deviating course a small strip of land, 
called the Gravelone Island, which belonged to Austria. The 
position of the fortress, as well as the favouring character of 
the stream alluded to, certainly pointed to Pavia as that spot 
which the Austrians would select for passage in case they in- 
tended to enter Piedmont. This was the risk which Chrzan- 
owsky felt he incurred by selecting the northern line of opera- 
tions. In order to meet it, he placed P v amorino in the angle 
formed by the confluence of the Ticinus with the Po, with 
a view to meet any danger proceeding from that quarter. La 
Marmora was ordered up from the Tuscan frontier towards 
Parma, in order subsequently to co-operate with the main 
army on its victorious march to the Mincio. 

The notice of the suspension of the armistice could not take 
the veteran Austrian general so much by surprise as was gen- 
erally anticipated in Piedmont. It is true that he had con- 
sented to forego the instant advantages which must have 
accrued from the invasion of Sardinian territory, in August 
1848, on the full understanding that peace should now be the 
future aim of both Powers. But he soon became aware of 
the powerlessness of the king to fulfil his engagements, when 
the extreme national party had established its ascendancy at 
Turin. Well informed as to all that was passing in the Sar- 

NOVAKA, 1849. 237 

dinian capital, and aided by his own vast experience, he easily 
foresaw the turn events were about to take, preparing accord- 
ingly. Nevertheless, his position in Lombardy was far from 
secure. The war of Hungarian independence which was now 
raging, absorbed the full attention and all the resources which 
the home Government, but recently re-established at Vienna, 
could command. The defensive attitude which circumstances 
seemed to impose upon him was replete with difficulty. The 
configuration of the valley of the Po is such that the defence 
of Lombardy has ever proved a very arduous undertaking. In 
all the large towns of Northern Italy disaffection to Austrian 
rule still prevailed, and Eadetzky well knew that the oppor- 
tunity for renewed insurrection was eagerly awaited by the 
populations. Concentration of force was thus rendered diffi- 
cult, and communications with the Mincio whilst engaged in 
operations on the Ticinus, would in any case be exposed to 
dangerous interruption. Those who can appreciate justly the 
immense responsibility attaching to the security of the line 
which conducts from its base to the operating army, will 
understand the extent to which the nerve of a commander is 
thus tested. Proverbially, victory often remains to the bold, 
the reason of this being, that, under certain circumstances, cal- 
culated boldness is the most rational method of confronting 
peril. In the present instance, retreat to the Mincio involved 
the loss of the fruits of the late campaign, the abandonment 
of valuable territory, and the proportionate increase of mili- 
tary resources to the enemy. The passive defence of the 
Ticinus was both difficult and dangerous, inasmuch as suffi- 
cient time might thus be obtained by the agents of the revo- 
lution to raise insurrection on the rear of the defensive army. 
Partial retreat to the Adda would seem pre-eminently one of 
those half-measures which are the plainest symptoms of mili- 
tary mediocrity. The reoccupation of Milan would then 
assuredly raise the impaired morale of the Sardinian army, 
increase enthusiasm for the national cause, and seriously affect 
the confident spirit which now existed amongst the Austrian 
soldiers. From a military point of view, too, the position on 
the Adda was by no means secure. Considering the direction 
of La Marmora's march, it was liable to be turned from the 


southern bank of the To ; and this doubtless was the reason 
why Chrzanowsky had instructed that officer to march upon 
Parma, instead of recalling him to the common point of con- 
centration. If each and all of the courses indicated were thus 
insufficient for the occasion, one other remained. It has 
already been remarked that the Sardinian commander recog- 
nised the possibility of an offensive movement on the part of 
his adversary, but he certainly did not expect its actual 
execution. Strategic enterprise had seldom characterised 
the operations of Austrian armies in earlier wars under 
circumstances of much greater promise. It was the less to be 
expected from the aged commander whose well-timed caution 
in the previous year had borne such excellent fruits. Never- 
theless, Eadetzky had instantly expressed his determination 
of marching upon Turin. At times, the best method of con- 
cealing one's intentions is openly to avow them. It was as 
little believed by the inhabitants of Lombardy and Piedmont 
that the Austrian general really purposed the invasion of the 
principality, as the existence of the Army of Preserve was 
credited by the Coalition Governments in 1800. The study 
of military science had not been cultivated to any great extent 
in Italy twenty years ago. Civilians were profoundly ignorant 
of its truths. All failed to perceive that the strongest reasons 
must prevail for the assumption of the initiative by Radetzky. 
The old general himself had correctly appreciated his position. 
To be relieved of his difficulties, he felt that his stroke must 
be sharp, short, and decisive ; that his safest course was to 
confront at once his principal danger ; and that the early and 
signal defeat of the Sardinian army must necessarily entail the 
total failure of the national cause. 

It will generally be found that where similar resolutions 
are framed, confidence must exist .between the chief and his 
soldiers. The ability of the leader is responded to by the 
devotion of his subordinates. It is not too much to say that 
the spirit of every army is dependent upon the qualities of its 
responsible general. In no army is this more the case than in 
that of Austria. Wanting in the strong tie of patriotism which 
binds together the soldiers of more homogeneous empires, the 
peculiar military qualities which unquestionably characterise 

NO VARA, 1849. 239 

the subjects of the Emperor are only elicited by personal at- 
tachment to their superior officers. For once in the history of 
Austria her general stood unfettered in the field. The baneful 
control which before, and since, has ever been exercised from 
some source or other at the capital, was now necessarily and 
fortunately absent. No Aulic Council stood between Eadetzky 
and his well-judged aims, no dynastic hesitation hampered his 
authority. Were further proof required of the all-important 
truth that independent action is indispensable for the success 
of a commander in the field, it surely may be found in the 
history of the two brilliant campaigns conducted by the veteran 

The Austrian army in Italy at the commencement of hostili- 
ties was estimated at 90,000 combatants, with 200 guns. This 
force was organised into six corps d'armee, commanded by 
Wratislaw, D'Aspre, Appel, Thurn, Wocher, and Haynau, each 
about 15,000 strong. Five of these were available for field 
operations, the sixth being necessarily employed in continu- 
ing the blockade of Venice, and in securing the Austrian base 
on the Mincio, as well as the communications of the operating 
army. During the autumn and winter these troops had gar- 
risoned the towns of Lombardy as well as those belonging to 
the duchies of Parma and Modena. The discipline and condi- 
tion of the several regiments were excellent ; if some disaffec- 
tion existed in the Hungarian battalions, their contact with 
the remainder of the army sufficed to repress it, and no sol- 
diers did better service during the war. From the fact that 
no reinforcements had been received from the recruiting dis- 
tricts in the interior of the empire, the waste of the previous 
campaign had not been repaired, and probably the actual 
..fighting force was much inferior to that given above. 

The skill of a commander is seldom better evinced than by 
his power of concentrating widely-scattered bodies of men for 
offensive action. The notice for renewal of hostilities had no 
sooner been served at Milan than orders emanated from head- 
quarters for the converging march of every available battalion 
towards Pavia. The excellent and numerous communications 
in Lombardy assisted the movement, which was so quietly and 
secretly effected that it altogether escaped notice. On the 


18th of March, Eadetzky moved his headquarters from Milan 
to San Angelo. He left the city by its eastern gate, the Porta 
Eomana, as though marching for Lodi on the Adda, but soon 
changed his direction for the south-west. The report of this 
circumstance, promptly carried to the Sardinian camp, served 
to confirm Chrzanowsky's erroneous view of his adversary's 
intentions. On the morning of the 20th of March two bridges 
were thrown across the Ticinus at Pavia, which, with the per- 
manent passage, permitted the simultaneous march of three 
columns of troops. At noon of the same day the armistice 
expired, and with the last stroke of the clock, D'Aspre set his 
soldiers in motion and crossed to the Gravelone Island, which 
for the most part is covered with high poplars, serving to con- 
ceal the operation. 

The eastern frontier of Piedmont, touching Tuscany, the 
duchies, and Lombardy, extended at this time from the 
Mediterranean to Switzerland. The river Po divides the en- 
closed territory into two parts. That between the river and 
the sea is exceedingly strong, its natural defensive properties 
being still further increased by artificial aid. Genoa, Ales- 
sandria, and Valenza, form a solid line of defence towards the 
east, protected on that front by the Apennine spurs, and the 
rivers and torrents which stream from those mountains into 
the main river. With France as an ally, it is impossible to 
overrate the value of this position to Sardinia, as recently 
demonstrated in 1859. Under present circumstances, its im- 
portance was of a secondary character. The fortresses on the 
southern bank could exercise but little influence on operations 
conducted on the level plains between the Po and the northern 
Alps. Here the country, to all military intents and purposes, 
is open and unprotected. The Ticinus presents but a feeble 
barrier towards the east, the Sesia is indefensible, and the 
Dora Baltea too long in its course for prudent occupation. 
On this bank of the river, too, is the Sardinian capital, safe 
only from hostile seizure so long as the army in the field 
remains undefeated. That Turin, under such circumstances, 
could offer but a very insecure base for military operations is 
self-evident, affording further proofs of the incapacity of those 
who entered so recklessly upon this second aggressive war. 

NOVARA, 1849. 241 

During the months which intervened between the conclusion 
of the armistice and the resumption of hostilities, ample time 
was afforded for the construction of temporary fortifications 
at points of strategic value. An intrenched camp at Novara 
would have rendered the position subsequently assumed by 
the Sardinians more or less unassailable.* A few redoubts 
thrown up on the heights of La Cava, which command the 
passage of the Ticinus and Po, at Pavia and Mezzana Corte, 
would seriously have interfered with the Austrian plan of 
operations. The value of a secure base, of fortified positions, 
of places of refuge and security in case of disaster, was equally 
neglected and despised, in spite of the experience which an 
intelligent study of the late campaign was well calculated to 

All these considerations could not fail to attract the notice 
of Ptadetzky. He was well informed as to the positions which 
the Sardinian divisions occupied, and this known, their plans 
could be no secret to him. Starting from Pavia, two rapid 
marches would carry his army across the Ticinus to Mortara, 
where the numerous roads in the Lomelina centre. A glance 
at the map is sufficient to show that, from this point, the com- 
munications of his adversary were at his mercy, whereas his 
own, carried from Pavia by Pizzighetone and Cremona to the 
Mincio, could not, under any circumstances, be touched in the 
same space of time. In this operation the forward movement 
of the Sardinian army upon the Lombard capital, anticipated 
with confidence, would singularly serve Eadetzky's plan. The 
time would thus be gained to grasp his enemy before he could 
sufficiently recover from his surprise. In order to carry 
similar operations to a successful conclusion, one condition 
seems indispensably necessary, — that is, the fixed resolution 
to force an adversary to decisive action on the earliest pos- 
sible opportunity. Where this determination exists, it argues 
unbounded confidence in the fighting superiority of his sol- 
diers on the part of their commander. As this sense can 
hardly prevail in both armies to an equal extent, the initiative 
in war is mostly determined by its predominating influence. 
The preponderance of morale in this instance was unquestion- 
ably to be found on the side of that army which could boast 


of recent victory, which rested on institutions based on the 
experience of past centuries, which belonged to one of the 
great Powers of Europe, and which blindly trusted to its own 
discipline and the guidance of its commander. The duty of 
Eadetzky consisted simply in bringing his army into action 
under the most favourable terms of which circumstances would 
admit. Such is the object of all strategy ; when actual colli- 
sion ensues, the result is often determined by influences beyond 
the control of a commander-in-chief. 

About two miles away from the right bank of the Ticinus, 
opposite Pavia, stands the village of La Cava, situated on a 
line of heights overlooking the Po as well as the river named 
above. The road from Pavia, after crossing the Gravelone 
Island, divides, conducting in a north-westerly direction to 
Mortara, or by the left to La Cava, and further to the south 
bank of the Po, which is crossed at Mezzana Corte. The posi- 
tion offered by the high ground alluded to was capable of 
being rendered very formidable for defence, and directly ob- 
structed the march of the invading columns. Here, according 
to Austrian expectations, the struggle would commence, and 
great was D'Aspre's relief on finding his progress compara- 
tively unopposed. 

It has been already stated that the defence of this ground 
was intrusted to the division commanded by Eamorino — com- 
posed exclusively of Lombards. The selection of this officer,* 

* Some interest attaches to the personal history of Eamorino, owing to the 
responsibility incurred by him during these operations, as well as on account 
of his subsequent tragic end. 

He was born in 1792 at Genoa, the illegitimate son of the subsequent 
French Marshal Lannes. Pursuing his father's profession, he served with 
the French against Austria in 1809, and in Eussia in 1812. Declining to 
serve the Bourbons on their restoration, he soon became mixed up with the 
several insurrections which agitated different parts of Europe subsequent to 
the peace. 

Ultimately he obtained independent command, as a partisan, in the Polish 
war of 1831. Here he was equally known for successful enterprise and 
insubordinate conduct. Hence, too, his acquaintance with Chrzanowsky, 
whose present position in the Sardinian army appears to have excited his 

In 1848, on the outbreak of hostilities, he hurried to Italy and offered his 
services, which were declined. He owed his appointment to the command of 
the Lombard division to the interest of the democratic party then in power. 

NOVAKA, 1849. 243 

with troops notoriously the least reliable in the Sardinian 
army, for the duty, would seem to indicate the small amount 
of probability originally attached by Chrzanowsky to offensive 
intentions on the part of the enemy. His instructions to his 
subordinate, however, were precise and clear. The Lombard 
division was ordered to take post at La Cava, thence to 
observe the Gravelone Island. Should no hostile movement 
be perceptible from that quarter, Eamorino was directed to 
occupy the island, and to endeavour to gain possession of 
Pavia. In case of success he would continue his forward 
march, without delay, in the direction of Lodi, with a view to 
rejoin the main army on the river Adda. Should the enemy 
endeavour to debouch in force from Pavia upon Sardinian 
territory, Eamorino was instructed to oppose his march by all 
the means in his power. If pressed by superior numbers, he 
would either fall back upon Mortara, or on the road leading to 
San Nazzaro, whence he would readily regain communication 
with the other divisions, recalled from their first direction by 
the sound of his cannon. 

These orders, for reasons never altogether explained, were 
entirely disregarded. Eamorino remained, with the mass of 
his command, in the neighbourhood of Casatisma, on the south 
bank of the Po. Four battalions only were detached by him 
to the north bank. One he stationed at Zerbolo, which, cut 
from Mezzana Corte by D'Aspre's rapid advance, retired in 
disorder to Mortara. The second, posted at La Cava, ex- 
changed a few shots with the Austrian riflemen and then fell 
back towards the Po, where the remainder of the detachment 
guarded the bridge over that river. 

At the termination of the war, Ramorino was arrested, placed before a court- 
martial on the charge of disobedience of orders, condemned, and shot at Turin, 
22d May 1849. 

In extenuation of his conduct, he urged that he was misinformed as to the 
point of passage of the Austrians ; also, that he was in no position to resist 
their advance at La Cava with 8000 men. He died with great firmness, 
loudly protesting his innocence. 

Some writers have supposed that, owing to his jealousy of Chrzanowsky, 
he was eager to manoeuvre independently. Others, that he had ulterior 
republican designs, for which he wished to preserve his command. The 
probability is that he failed to recognise the full importance of the post 
intrusted to his care until it was too late to repair his omission. 


Meanwhile D'Aspre, finding his path clear, and followed by 
Appel, pushed briskly forward on the Mortara road, halting at 
Gropello for the night. 

Wratislaw, marching by his right, occupied Zerbolo. Thurn 
moved upon La Cava, detaching one brigade to Mezzana Corte 
to cover the left flank of the army. Wocher halted with the 
reserve opposite Pavia, having left a garrison in the fortress 
to guard the Austrian communications on that bank of the 

Thus, on the night of the 20th March, Eadetzky's army, 
68,000 strong, had completed the passage of the frontier river 
without impediment, and now, with either Hank on the Ticinus 
and Po, bivouacked on Sardinian soil. One brigade, belonging 
to Wratislaw, left at Magenta to mask the Austrian concen- 
tration, was moving upon Bereguardo, with a view to cross 
the river at that point and rejoin the 1st corps on the day 

Whilst the Austrian forces were thus quietly entering Pied- 
mont from the south-east, the Sardinians prepared to meet 
them at San Martino, should they not already have retired to 
the Adda. Since break of day the five divisions destined by 
Chrzanowsky either to cross or to defend the Ticinus, had 
been at their posts. The Duke of Genoa stood in advance of 
Trecate with his outlying pickets on the river. Perrone held 
Eomentino and Galliate on the left. Bes, Cerano and Cassel- 
Nuovo on the right. Durando occupied the ground about 
Vespolate, on the right rear of the last-named division; and 
the Duke of Savoy, commanding the reserve, camped on the 
Mortara road, close to Novara. Solaroli's brigade, posted on 
the extreme left of the army, was intended to manoeuvre in 
the hilly districts about Como and Bergamo in Lombardy, on 
the flank and rear of the position likely to be occupied by 
the enemy. 

At noon on the 20th of March, the Duke of Genoa's divi- 
sion, accompanied by the king and the commander-in-chief, 
stood massed on the road at San Martino, ready to cross the 
river. Nothing on the opposite bank indicated the presence 
of the enemy, nor was any firing heard from the direction of 
Pavia. Indeed the Austrian concentration was still unknown 

NOVAKA, 1849. 24.") 

in the Sardinian camp. At 1 p.m., a reconnoitring party 
crossed to the left bank of the stream and occupied Magenta. 
With the exception of a solitary vedette in the distance, still 
no signs of hostile presence were perceptible. Moreover, the 
Lombard peasantry, from the first averse to the war, refused 
any information it was in their power to give. The king, 
who had been one of the first to enter Lombardy, appears to 
have been much disappointed by the freezing reception pre- 
pared for him at Magenta. Was it to be interpreted as indi- 
cating similar absence of enthusiasm for the national cause at 
Milan ? If so, it was obviously better that he should look to 
the defence of his own territory, compromised afresh by the 
renewal of the war, which the nation had demanded so per- 
emptorily at his hands. Leaving the Duke of Genoa at 
Magenta, he returned with Chrzanowsky to Trecate, very 
uneasy at not having ascertained the true position of the 
Austrian forces. The reports which had been sent in to 
headquarters from the several divisions offered no explanation 
of the mystery ; it was resolved, therefore, to await further 
information before the rear divisions were pushed into 

The hesitation thus displayed at the very commencement of 
hostilities by the offensive Power, indicates the false position 
assumed by the Sardinian king. To have declared war, and 
not to have been prepared to invade Lombardy, would have 
exposed him to general ridicule. Yet the invasion of Lom- 
bardy by the direct road, which it was considered offered more 
advantages than any other, was inevitably attended by the 
possibility of a counter-stroke on the part of the enemy, 
aimed at the vital parts of his territory. This danger had 
been thoroughly appreciated by Chrzanowsky, who was fully 
alive to the exigencies of military science. The order intrust- 
ing the position of La Cava to Eamorino's keeping, was not 
the only precaution taken to meet this emergency. In reality 
it formed a leading item in the Sardinian plan; and, from 
Chrzanowsky's reluctance to commit his army to Lombard 
soil, it seems that his own- conviction now inclined towards 
the course which facts really assumed. At eight in the 
evening, Bes reported the passage of the enemy at Pavia, and 


the absence of Eanioriiio from his post. A little later full 
intelligence of the Austrian concentration, numbers, and 
movements, was conveyed to headquarters from other private 

The country about to form the theatre of the short but 
interesting and decisive operations which ensued, is enclosed 
laterally between the Sesia and Ticinus rivers — the highroad 
from Vercelli to Buffalora, and the course of the Po from 
Valenza to the mouth of the Ticinus, completing the paral- 
lelogram, of which Mortara may be considered the central 
point. From this town communications radiate to Pavia, 
Vigevano, Abbiate Grasso, Novara, Vercelli, Casale, Valenza, 
and Cambio, all points of military value, within reach of one 
forced march. The district itself, highly cultivated and but 
slightly undulated, presents few other features of interest. 
The ground is watered by numerous minor tributaries of the 
main river, the principal of which are the Terdoppio and 
Agogna, more or less parallel in their course to the Sesia and 
Ticinus. Numerous canals, cut transversely, and supplied by 
them with water, connect these streams, and serve to irrigate 
the cultivated land. 

One of these, the Eoggia Biraga by name, passes about 
three miles to the east of Mortara, intersecting by its course 
the two roads which conduct from this town to Vigevano and 

It was behind this canal, between Trumello and Mortara, 
fronting to the south-east, that Chrzanowsky purposed to con- 
centrate his divisions. Considering the present position of 
these, such a manoeuvre was still perfectly feasible, provided 
no time was lost in issuing marching instructions. But, for 
some reason or other, the orders transmitted during the night 
from headquarters were quite insufficient for the occasion. 
They affected Bes and Durando only. The former was ordered 
to take post in advance of Vigevano, the latter to take ground 
to his right with a view to cover Mortara. The remaining 
divisions, as well as Solaroli's brigade, only received marching 
orders on the following morning ; whilst Fanti, appointed to 
replace Eamorino, cited to headquarters, was left for the pre- 
sent to follow his own inspirations. Probably it was con- 

NOVARA, 1849. 247 

sidered that these dispositions would suffice to check the 
Austrian advance on the 21st March in both directions, until 
their intentions were more fully developed. By retaining full 
command of the road connecting Vigevano with Mortara (ten 
miles distant), concentration might still be easily effected, at 
either extremity, on the 22d. The expediency of adopting 
offensive or defensive measures would in the interim be deter- 
mined by the character of the Austrian movements. In 
abandoning the Ticinus, it was very possible that the enemy 
might expose the line connecting him with Pavia to advan- 
tageous attack. This eventuality could only be turned to 
good account by concentrating in sufficient force at Vigevano. 
On the other hand, the position in advance of Mortara was 
essentially defensive in its character. To adopt it entailed 
the tacit admission of forfeited initiative, humiliating to the 
general and discouraging to an army bent upon offensive action. 
The risk incurred by Chrzanowsky, in what must certainly be 
considered a half- measure, was the imminent danger which 
the possible loss of Mortara would entail. 

Durando reached his destination early in the morning of 
the 21st ; on the afternoon of the same day he was joined by 
the Duke of Savoy with the reserve. According to the calcu- 
lation of the Sardinian general, these two divisions, posted on 
the strong ground assigned to them, would suffice to check any 
force which Radetzky could adventure in that direction. Bes 
marched through Vigevano at break of day, and finding, at La 
Sforzesca, the position he was in search of, halted there, his 
vanguard pushing forward to Borgo St Siro to watch the pas- 
sage of the river at Bereguarclo. Here he awaited the arrival 
of Perrone and the Duke of Genoa, both of whose divisions 
had subsequently been directed upon Vigevano. These troops 
reached their destination by five o'clock in the afternoon of 
the same day, having lost some hours by faulty commissariat 

Meanwhile, on the 21st of March, the Austrians were in 
full movement upon Mortara. D'Aspre, Appel, and the 
reserve followed the road to Garlasco ; Thurn marched to the 
left for St Giorgio ; Wratislaw on the right, in the direction 
of Gambolo, detaching one brigade towards Vigevano. 


This last detachment drove in the Sardinian advance at 
Borgo St Siro, and then attacked Bes in his position at La 
Sforzesca. Simultaneously AVratislaw, with a second column, 
found himself enraged at Gambolo. In each encounter the 
Austrians were repulsed with loss, but no further effort was 
made by the Sardinian commander to improve his advantage 
in this direction. Obviously it was of the last importance 
for Eadetzky to hold his ground here. To succeed at Mortara 
with the 2d and 4th corps, it was imperatively necessary to 
hold the roads leading from Vigevano to Trumello and Gar- 
lasco. For this reason, when Wratislaw's report reached head- 
quarters, Appel was halted at Trumello, and Wocher, with the 
headquarters of the army, remained at Gropello. 

D'Aspre, whose orders directed him to occupy Mortara, 
approached that town towards five o'clock in the after- 
noon. Finding it occupied, he at once prepared to attack 
in spite of the advanced hour of the day. His force con- 
sisted of about 14,000 men in two divisions, commanded by 
the Archduke Albert and Count Schaaffgotsche, with forty- 
eight guns. 

It appears that no detailed instructions accompanied the 
first order, which directed Durando and the Duke of Sa- 
voy upon Mortara. Chrzanowsky preferred despatching La 
Marmora, chief of his staff, and brother of the divisional 
commander, with these, in order that he might personally 
superintend their execution. La Marmora left Trecate at 
9 A.M., and reached Durando at Mortara at 1 p.m. The Duke 
of Savoy had not yet arrived, and Durando's soldiers were 
busy cooking. It was fully three o'clock when the troops 
were ready to take up the line pointed out in Chrzanowsky 's 
instructions. It has been urged that these orders were con- 
veyed in language either too curt or obscure. Certain it is 
that they were not carried out. Instead of occupying the 
Eoggia Biraga, Durando posted his own division across the 
Garlasco road, a mile only in advance of the town. The Duke 
of Savoy watched the road to St Giorgio with a portion of his 
command, placing the remainder in reserve in rear of the 
town. Both generals were independent of each other, but 
concurred in the opinion that, as the presence of the enemy 

NUVAKA, 1849. 249 

in the neighbourhood of St Giorgio, Trumello, and Gambolo 
had been ascertained by the patrols, the position indicated for 
occupation in the orders brought by La Marmora was too 
advanced for safety. Notwithstanding this, the Sardinian 
generals by no means expected to be seriously attacked that 
evening. Continued firing in the direction of Vigevano indi- 
cated that the enemy was hotly engaged on that ground, which 
fact, taken with the lateness of the hour, diminished what 
probability existed of collision. For this reason many neces- 
sary precautions were omitted, whilst both commanders were 
unacquainted with the locality. At half-past four, D'Aspre's 
approach was announced ; at five o'clock that general's cannon 
was already dealing destruction in the Sardinian ranks. The 
visible impression produced by his artillery - fire caused 
D'Aspre to press his attack. Forming his leading division on 
both sides of the road, he charged the centre of Durando's 
line, which, routed, at once gave way. If anything could 
have added to the injudicious dispositions effected by Du- 
rando, it was the fact that whilst for him the direct line of 
retreat passed through the streets of Mortara, the reserve 
could only advance to his support by the same avenues of 
approach through that town. The fugitive battalions that 
hurried wildly through the streets barred the entry of the 
Duke of Savoy. In vain that Prince endeavoured to restore 
order. The darkness which had meanwhile supervened ren- 
dered all his efforts fruitless ; whilst the thoroughfares, choked 
with waggons belonging to the artillery and train, were simply 
impassable. He therefore considered it prudent to withdraw 
the reserve, retreating first upon Castel d'Agogna, and ulti- 
mately in the direction of Eobbio. 

Meanwhile the Austrians pushed vigorously on to the gates 
of the town, but hesitated, in the darkness, to enter. The 
leading battalions belonged to a Hungarian regiment, com- 
manded by Colonel Benedek,* an officer who had already 
distinguished himself for resolute action in the preceding 
campaign. Confident in the discipline of his men, and form- 
ing a correct estimate of the state of things in the town, 
Benedek entered alone with two battalions, cleared it of what 

* Afterwards commander-in-chief of the Austrian army in Bohemia. 


troops remained there, and captured the equipages of the 
Duke of Savoy with a large quantity of baggage. Then, 
imagining his work completed, he halted for the night on the 
open space in the centre of the town, through which the 
principal street, continuing the road from Pavia to Vercelli, 
passes. It has been seen that the centre of Durando's line 
was broken by D'Aspre's first charge. The subsequent rapid 
advance of the Austrians naturally severed the defeated frac- 
tions. The left wing could, and did, retreat by the Novara 
road. The right wing, which had fought with much obsti- 
nacy, ultimately fell back towards the road leading from 
Mortara to St Giorgio. Here it will be recollected that a por- 
tion of the reserve had been posted prior to the action. By 
Beuedek's occupation of Mortara, the retreat of these troops 
through the town was now cut off. La Marmora, perceiving 
their isolation, and ignorant of the fact that, a little further 
on towards St Giorgio, a cross-road would have conducted 
him to Castel d'Agogna, where the Duke of Savoy stood, 
placed himself at their head. Concealing from the soldiers 
that Mortara was in the hands of the enemy, he formed them 
in order of march along the road, placing the artillery in the 
centre of the column. Then -he marched for Mortara, resolved 
to force his passage at the point of the bayonet. Entering by 
the gate from St Giorgio, to encourage his soldiers, La Mar- 
mora sounded the charge, and soon gained the centre of the 
town. Benedek, quite unsuspecting of attack from that side, 
had bivouacked in the square. As La Marmora debouched with 
the head of his column from the street into the open space, 
the Austrian soldiers hurried to their arms, and both parties 
commenced firing. A courageous effort on the part of the 
Sardinian infantry would unquestionably have effected their 
leader's gallant purpose. But his troops, for the most part, 
were young, and not yet inured to the circumstances of war. 
The darkness and confusion, added to the suddenness of the 
rencontre, caused them to hesitate. Benedek, still without 
support, recognised his danger, but very soon appreciated the 
facts to which the presence of the Sardinians could be attri- 
buted. Assuming that they were intercepted in retreat, he 
boldly summoned the column to surrender, if it wished to 

NOVAK A, 1849. 251 

escape destruction. Conceiving themselves surrounded, and 
much shaken in their firmness by the previous events of the 
day, La Marmora's men wavered, and ultimately laid down 
their arms. The general himself, with some fifty of his sol- 
diers, succeeded in rejoining the Duke of Savoy at Castel 
d'Agogna, where he also found Durando. 

On this disastrous day the Sardinians lost 2000 prisoners, 
500 killed and wounded, and 5 guns. They also lost, with 
the town of Mortara, the strategical key to their line of com- 
munications with Turin, a circumstance calculated greatly to 
embarrass the further operations of the Sardinian commander- 
in-chief. These signal advantages, moreover, were attained 
by the Austrians at the small expense of 300 soldiers placed 
hors de combat. The decisive character of the action, which 
greatly affected the morale of the Sardinians two days later at 
Novara, was chiefly owing to Benedek's resolute conduct. It 
earned for him the Cross of Maria Theresa. 

Many points of interest present themselves to the student 
of military operations in the foregoing narrative. 

On the expiration of the armistice, both armies were concen- 
trated on the Ticinus— Radetzky at Pavia, Chrzanowbky at 
San Martino. The Sardinian concentration was known to the 
former, whilst the Austrian intentions had been successfully 
concealed from the latter general. Each army was about to 
assume the offensive, with its first objective point plainly 
delineated. Chrzanowsky purposed the occupation of Milan 
— Radetzky, the seizure of Mortara ; both towns equidistant 
from the several starting-points. Now the Austrian base was 
behind the Mincio, and the principal line of communication 
upon which Radetzky depended conducted from Mantua, by 
Cremona and Pizzighetone, to Pavia, which now formed his 
immediate depot. The Sardinians derived their supplies prin- 
cipally from Turin, in part from Alessandria. From Novara, 
therefore — the intermediate base — communications with 
either town would be maintained through Vercelli, or even by 
Mortara. It follows that Radetzky, at this last town, was 
already nearer to the Sardinian communications than Chrzan- 
owsky, at Milan, would be to the Austrian. No doubt this 
was a great advantage, but in the present instance not neces- 


sarily conclusive. The essence of the Sardinian plan con- 
sisted in the fact that the invasion of Lombardy would carry 
the army amongst friends ready to receive it with open arms. 
In point of fact, it entertained the practicability of effecting 
a temporary change of base. Based upon Milan, Chrzanowsky 
was in a position to repeat the manoeuvre executed by Buon- 
aparte in 1800, with this difference, that his adversary, 
instead of endeavouring to escape, was now actually playing 
into his hand. Why, then, did the Sardinian commander 
hesitate to follow an example from which such decisive results 
might be anticipated ? The answer will be found in the small 
amount of confidence existing between Chrzanowsky and his 
army. All manoeuvres conduct, sooner or later, to the issue 
of the sword ; according to the eagerness for battle will be the 
character of the manoeuvre. Where confidence and extreme 
moral superiority prevails, the shortest road to decisive colli- 
sion will generally be selected. Where doubt, anxiety, and, 
above all, a sense of inferiority, whether individual in the 
commander or general in the army, exists, the manoeuvres 
adopted will surely be stamped by the prevailing spirit. 
Chrzanowsky felt that, if he marched into Lombardy, his 
adversary would follow on his footsteps, seize his trains, and 
fall upon his columns before their position was sufficiently 
secured. The circumstances were found to be widely different 
from those which ushered in the campaign of 1848. Then, 
the insurrection was ripe and the Austrians unprepared ; now, 
Eadetzky was armed to the teeth, whilst the Lombards had 
been stripped of weapons of all descriptions. There was an 
alternative, too, which admitted still of offensive action, with- 
out necessarily entailing, in case of failure, the absolute ruin 
to be anticipated from a battle lost in Lombardy. This was, 
to check the Austrian advance at Mortara, and simultaneously 
to fall upon Radetzky's flank from Yigevano. In case this 
attack should fail, the beaten columns would find safe retreat 
by the highroad leading from the above-named town to Mor- 
tara. The danger of this course consisted in the possibility 
of Mortara being carried by the enemy, whilst the left of the 
army was engaged at Vigevano. The communications of the 
army would then be intercepted, and the army itself severed 

NOVAEA, 1849. 


from its base. This is what actually occurred through a com- 
bination of circumstances for which it would be unjust to 
make the Sardinian general entirely responsible. 

Again, there are other lessons to be drawn from the battle 
itself, and these may be summarised as follows : — 

That where earnest offence is contemplated, not a moment 
should be lost before seeking a collision, as in nine cases out 
of ten unforeseen advantages accrue. 

Where armies are divided into corps or independent units, 
it is indispensable, before commencing operations, to initiate 
the commanders into the general spirit of the operations, 
whether offensive or defensive. 

That when a flank is turned or threatened, to meet which 
emergency dispositions have been made, not a moment is to 
be lost in carrying the dispositions projected into execution, 
as all delay is vain. That where the possibility of an offensive 
flank movement on the part of the enemy exists and is recog- 
nised, especially where the flank in question immediately 
covers the army's communications, it is indispensable to pro- 
tect it by every available artificial aid. 

Lastly, there is considerable danger in taking up an ex- 
tended position with a large town immediately in rear. 

In consequence of the events of the 21st of March, the 
position of both armies during the succeeding night may be 
thus described : — 

Three divisions. 

Two divisions. 

Sardinian Army. 



Duke of Genoa. 

Duke of Savoy. 


At Vigevano. 

In retreat upon 
Novara and Robbie. 

At the Buffalora 

Appel, . 

Thurn, . 
Wocher (reserve), 

Austrian A runt. 

( rambolo. 
St Giorgio. 


The result of this state of things was, that direct retreat upon 
Vercelli was no longer open to the Sardinians ; and further, 
that in case the enemy made good use of his time, the recon- 
centration of his army would prove a matter of some difficulty 
to Chrzanowsky. 

With the same improvidence which had characterised their 
previous dispositions, the generals who had suffered such 
severe defeat at D'Aspre's hands, neglected now to report 
with sufficient promptitude the result of the day to head- 
quarters. It was by accident,* at one o'clock on the morning 
of the 22d of March, that Chrzanowsky ascertained what had 
really occurred at Mortara. The situation which now pre- 
sented itself was, perhaps, the only one for which no provision 
had been made. With regard to the safety of Mortara no 
concern had been felt at Sardinian headquarters. Two divi- 
sions of the army, well furnished with artillery, in a strong 
position, seemed amply sufficient to check any troops which 
it was possible for the Austrians to push beyond Trumello on 
the 21st of March. It was beyond the power of ordinary 
foresight to provide for the thoughtless disobedience of 
Durando, with the grave consequences it entailed. How- 
ever, no time was to be lost, for the peril of the army was 

Three courses presented themselves to the Sardinian 
general. The readiest and most simple was, at the head of 
the divisions assembled at Vigevano — elated by recent suc- 
cess — to march boldly for Mortara, Then, inviting co-opera- 
tion from the beaten divisions, to open a path through the 
enemy's lines, which would at once re-establish and recon- 
^entrate the army. Ignorance of the direction pursued by 
Durando and the reserve in retreat, with the consequent 
uncertainty of communication, was, perhaps, the motive which 
induced Chrzanowsky to abandon what is believed to have 
been his earliest intention. Considering the admirable order 
of the Austrian corps, the result of the operation, had it been 
attempted, seems very uncertain. Wratislaw, Appel, and 

* The report was delivered by two officers belonging to Durando's division, 
who, during the action, had been separated from their corps, and had spon- 
taneous!}' taken the direction of Vigevano. 

NO VARA, 1849. 255 

Tliurn were all nearer to Mortara than was Chrzanowsky 
himself. Nevertheless, resolutions similarly bold are fre- 
quently crowned with success in war. 

Another alternative, peculiarly attractive under the circum- 
stances, was to cross the Ticinus into Lombardy, to join La 
Marmora on the north bank of the Po, and finally to select a 
favourable battle-field on the Austrian communications, where 
the issue of the war should be determined. In each case, no 
doubt, defeat would have been fatal to the army, a considera- 
tion which prompted Chrzanowsky to select a less enter- 
prising and apparently more prudent course. 

On the road leading from Yercelli to the Ticinus, on high, 
commanding ground, stands the city of Novara, capital of the 
province of that name. In earlier centuries the town was 
fortified, and in former wars had constantly asserted its mili- 
tary importance. Now, it constituted the first depot of the 
Sardinian army, and, since the loss of Mortara, formed its 
readiest rallying - point. The position, moreover, offered 
certain strategical as well as tactical advantages. Before 
Eadetzky could pursue his original object, he must needs 
turn aside to face his adversary posted at Novara. His march 
upon Turin could only be continued at the peril of his com- 
munications with Pavia. As a battle-field, too, the ground 
south of Novara is exceedingly favourable, so that a double 
object would be served by forcing the Austrians here to 
general action. Plausible as these arguments might seem, 
it is very doubtful whether in reality they were the most 
sound. To fight a decisive action with front formed to a 
flank, as must perforce here be the case, and consequently, 
with the true line of retreat parallel to, and in continuation 
of, the one flank is a very hazardous experiment. More- 
over, in the present instance, if beaten off the roads leading 
to Turin, the Sardinian army must necessarily retreat north- 
wards — as it subsequently did — towards the Alps, where its 
fate would be sealed. Such, however, was Chrzanowsky's re- 
solve. With dawn of day he set his divisions in motion ; at 
noon he reached Trecate, where he left the Duke of Genoa in 
position, and the same afternoon gained Novara. Here he 
found Durando, and received information that the reserve 


would arrive in the course of the night. Solaroli, further, 
had reached Romentino ; so that, on the night of the 22d 
of March, the Sardinian concentration at No vara was effected 
without further mishap. 

The fact that the concentration of the Sardinian divisions 
was not seriously opposed by Radetzky has subjected that 
general to much criticism. There can be no doubt that, had 
he wished so to do, the Austrian commander might, equally 
have arrived at Novara with three of his corps d'armee on 
the afternoon of the 22d of March. By this means he would 
probably have prevented the Duke of Savoy from uniting with 
Chrzanowsky ; he would also have anticipated the prepara- 
tions for action which his adversary subsequently found time 
to complete : important advantages, it is true, provided their 
attainment be not secured at too great expense or danger. 
The three corps alluded to were the 2d (D'Aspre), the 4th 
(Thurn), and the 1st (Wratislaw). The 3d (Appel) and the 
reserve (Woeher) might also have reached Vespolate, on the 
Mortara-Novara road, the same evening. The army would 
thus have been in a position to continue its well-ordered 
march upon Novara with break of day on the 23d of March, and 
would probably have engaged Chrzanowsky's forces on very 
advantageous terms. It has been seen, however, that concen- 
tration at Novara was not the only alternative which Chzra- 
nowsky, under the circumstances, might select. Until the 
Sardinian retrograde movement was clearly pronounced, it 
would have been rash for Radetzky to have jumped to any 
conclusion. What if, whilst the Austrian corps were pressing 
on the heels of Durando's men, to Novara, Chrzanowsky had 
turned the direction of his columns on Mortara ? What, 
again, if he had crossed into Lombardy, leaving his victorious 
opponent toiling northwards in search of him ? But little 
skill was demanded at the hands of the Sardinian chief to 
mask his purpose sufficiently long to secure the few hours 
which he required to effect his object, and these hours were 
unwillingly conceded by the field-marshal. It was noon, 
therefore, on the 22d, before the Austrian corps continued 
their march for Novara. Wratislaw moved from Gambolo to 
Civalegna; Thurn marched from St Giorgio, through Mortara, 

NOVARA, 1849. 2.j7 

towards Torre di Eobbio ; the three remaining corps, in the 
same order as before, were echeloned on the main road lead- 
ing to Novara. D'Aspre, with his advanced-guard, reached 
Garbagna, five miles south of Novara ; Appel halted on the 
northern side of Vespolate ; the reserve bivouacked at Lav ex - 
zaro. By this means the same serried order was maintained, 
whilst a partial change of front had been effected. One incon- 
venience, however, resulted from the delay at Mortara, short 
as it was — Kadetzky lost the touch of his adversary. Up to 
the evening of the 22d of March he could account fur his 
enemy's movements with tolerable accuracy ; on the morning 
of the 23d all had become conjecture. Chrzanowsky could 
either continue his march upon Vercelli, or might stand to 
fight. In the former case, it was necessary to intercept his 
march in the direction of the last-named town ; in the latter, 
it was desirable to appear in full force at Novara. To recon- 
cile these conflicting demands was a matter of great difficulty. 
Had Radetzky continued the march of his army towards Ver- 
celli, he would doubtless have directly intercepted the Sar- 
dinian communications with Turin. But in doing this, he 
might have opened another door of escape for his foe. A rapid 
march along the Austrian rear would have carried Chiza- 
nowsky from Novara, through Mortara, to the Po. By cross- 
in" at Valenza or Cambio, he would then unite, on the south 
bank of that river, with his other divisions, and also gain the 
important shelter of his fortresses. On the other hand, by 
changing his direction northwards, in case the Sardinians 
should decide for battle, Eadetzky had already enlisted one 
favourable circumstance on his side. His army would fight 
with its front perpendicular to its proper line of retreat, cover- 
ing its communications. The Sardinians, on the contrary, if 
called upon to retreat after battle, must necessarily sacrifice 
their communications. These, doubtless, were the motives 
which swayed the Austrian commander in determining his 
second objective. Nevertheless, he was harassed by fears 
similar to those which so nearly lost for the First Consul the 
battle of Marengo. Behind the Sesia, in case he could suc- 
ceed in arriving there, Chrzanowsky would re-establish bis 
military position, and necessarily prolong the war. It was 



this which Eadetzky so earnestly desired to prevent, his 
anxiety inducing him to depart from the simple order of 
march hitherto maintained. His dispositions for the 23d of 
March directed D'Aspre, Appel, and Wocher to continue their 
advance along the single road conducting to Novara. Thurn 
was ordered from Robbio to Confienza, where he would be 
guided by circumstances in taking the direction of Vercelli, or 
that of Novara. Wratislaw received instructions to march 
from right to left, along the rear of the army — from Civalegna, 
through Eobbio, to Vercelli. He would support Thurn in 
intercepting the enemy in case he should be making for the 
Sesia, or return with that general to Novara, should the Sar- 
dinians there make a stand. Further, the field - marshal 
ordered the brigades left at Pavia and Mezzana Corte to move 
forward to Casale, in order to close the passage of Sardinian 
troops from the south bank of the Po at that point. 

There can be no doubt but that this dissemination of his 
army exposed Eadetzky to considerable danger. The Sar- 
dinian leaders had resolved upon accepting battle in the strong- 
position of Novara. Standing on the defensive here, with 
G0,000 men, they would seriously outnumber the force with 
which the field-marshal was now about to attack. This force, 
moreover, could only be developed in the course of hours ; it 
advanced by a single road through a country where lateral 
movements were not practicable. It would seem, then, that a 
little ability on the part of Chrzanowsky, supported by a fair 
amount of devotion from his soldiers, would now suffice to 
reverse on the present occasion the issue of Mortara. Com- 
paring the actual state of affairs with what might have ensued 
had Eadetzky followed up his success, there certainly appears 
room for criticism. A few hours' respite conceded to Chrza- 
nowsky sufficed not only in great part to relieve that general 
from a most perilous position, but to enlist on his side decided 
advantages which it remained with himself to utilise. The 
truth is, that the execution of manoeuvres similar to that now 
practised by Eadetzky is so precarious, that the one object of 
the assailant must be to bring it to the earliest possible issue. 
Presuming that Eadetzky had avoided serious conflict at Vige- 
vano on the 21st, with a view to profit more decisively from 

NOVAEA, 1840. 259 

the character of his operation a day or two later, the posses- 
sion of Mortara must at once have released him from his semi- 
defensive attitude on the Pavia-Garlasco road. Obviously, 
any offensive purpose harboured by the Sardinian commander 
in that direction, was necessarily thwarted by the results of 
Durando's defeat. D'Aspre's report, moreover, offered suffi- 
cient evidence of the force at Chrzanowsky's disposal at Vige- 
vano. This we are aware was considerably inferior to the 
three corps which Radetzky held in hand to cover his com- 
munications. A well-supported forward movement during the 
night of the 21st and 22d upon Vigevano, with Wratislaw, Appel, 
and the reserve, would now seem to have been the operation 
best adapted to all aims. It would have diminished the risk 
incurred by D'Aspre in his advanced position at Mortara, and 
have left that general available, in case the enemy accepted 
battle, to operate by the Mortara- Vigevano road against his 
right flank. In the alternative of the retreat of the Sardinians 
upon Novara, D'Aspre, supported by Thurn, who arrived at 
Mortara at seven o'clock on the morning of the 22d, would 
have continued his march — about eighteen miles — upon the 
former city. The presence of these two corps before Novara 
on the afternoon of the 22d, would probably have sufficed to 
complete the disorganisation which was already spreading in 
the Sardinian ranks. Under any circumstances, it would have 
impeded the Sardinian concentration, and have marred the 
preparations for general action, which Chrzanowsky subse- 
quently found time to complete. Nor would any greater risk 
have been incurred by these two corps in their work of inter- 
ception, than afterwards attached to Thurn and Wratislaw in 
the actual dispositions. 

During the night of the 22d and 23d, Chrzanowsky was 
engaged in preparing for action. Between the Terdoppio and 
Agogna, a large elevated plateau slopes gently from Novara 
southwards in the direction of Mortara. On it, about a mile 
and a half from the town, the village of La Bicocca, traversed 
by the Mortara road, is the most conspicuous point. To the left 
(facing south), towards the Terdoppio, the ground falls rapidly, 
and is intersected by two small canals ; on the right, towards 
the Agogna rivulet, it is less commanding, but covered with 


vines and rows of mulberry-trees, whilst many single houses 
or villas, belonging to the Novarese, dot its surface. A third 
canal runs parallel to the Agogna on this side of the plateau. 
From the canal D'Olengo on the left to the canal Dussi on the 
right, the entire position extends for a distance of about two 
miles. With the exception of the dangerous proximity of the 
town, it seems to comply with most of the demands required 
from a defensive battle-field. The enemy must approach by 
a single road, greatly exposed to the Sardinian artillery. The 
front was strengthened by the presence of La Bicocca — the key 
to the position — and of the many detached cascines scattered 
along the slope. Both flanks were doubly secured by the 
rivers and canals alluded to above, and could only be turned 
by a wide circuit from Trecate on the left, or by the Vercelli 
road on the right. No attempt, probably for want of time, 
was made to increase the natural strength of the position ; La 
Bicocca was not intrenched, nor were any of the villas artifi- 
cially prepared for defence. To occupy the ground where he 
had selected to make his stand, the Sardinian commander 
could dispose of about 55,000 men and 111 guns: 20,000 
soldiers under La Marmora, Fanti, and Belvidere, stood para- 
lysed on the south bank of the Po. The combats at La Sfor- 
zesca and Mortara, then the marches and counter - marches 
of the preceding days, had thinned the ranks of the five divi- 
sions present, which were further weakened by desertion, 
now very prevalent. The Sardinian soldiers, far from eager 
for battle, suffered considerably from fatigue, depression, and 
hunger. In the absence of sufficient provisions, grave ex- 
cesses were committed by the men on the night of their 
arrival in the town. Even the presence of the king failed to 
elicit any expression of devotion or enthusiasm in the ranks 
of the several regiments mustered before him on the eve of 
the battle. 

Early on the morning of the 23d of March, Chrzanowsky 
formed his line of battle. 

Perrone, posted at La Bicocca, occupied the left, Bes the 
centre, Durando the right of the position. These three divi- 
sions were deployed in two distinct lines, extending from left 
to right for nearly two miles. Their front was covered by 

NOVAKA, 1849. 261 

three battalions of skirmishers, and wherever the ground 
favoured its action the Sardinian artillery had taken post. 
The two remaining divisions, commanded by the Royal 
Princes, were stationed in close column, in reserve. The Duke 
of Genoa stood in rear of Perrone, near the cemetery of San 
Nazzaro. The Duke of Savoy, somewhat nearer to the town, 
touched with his right the Vercelli road. On the extreme left, 
outside of the actual position, Solaroli, behind the Terdoppio, 
watched the roads leading from the Ticinus through Trecate 
and Galliate. 

With troops thus well in hand, on a strong front, with 
secure flanks, the Sardinian commander might well court the 
assault of his adversary, hoping by a tactical success to recover 
his lost ground. All dispositions were completed by nine 
o'clock in the morning, the army awaiting in defensive atti- 
tude the onset of the enemy. 

It was nine o'clock on the morning of the 23d of March 
when D'Aspre's soldiers first moved from their bivouac at 
Garbagna. Probably the field-marshal was expecting more 
certain intelligence as to the enemy's intentions before he set 
his columns in motion. In this, however, he was disap- 
pointed, for both Thurn and Wratislaw moved off in the 
direction of Vercelli, according to the first dispositions. At 
ten, D'Aspre's light troops first touched the Sardinian out- 
posts at Olengo, and drove them back upon Castellazzo. 
With the same impetuosity which had been accompanied 
with such happy results at Mortara, D'Aspre, though warned 
to be cautious, at once prepared his attack. Ordering up the 
Archduke Albert, he formed that general's columns on both 
sides of the road, and prolonging his left with part of Schaaf- 
gotsche's division and the cavalry, retained the remainder in 
reserve. The action had hardly been opened by skirmishers 
and artillery, when D'Aspre learnt that the entire Sardinian 
army was in position before him. Reporting the fact at once 
back to headquarters, he assumed the responsibility of order- 
ing Appel to advance, and Thurn to retrace his steps from 
Confienza. A more prudent general, under the circumstances, 
would probably have been satisfied with engaging the enemy's 
attention until the supporting divisions could have arrived. 


Not so'D'Aspre. Eager, ambitious, and brave to a fault, he 
aspired to monopolise the glory of completing the enemy's 
defeat with a single Austrian corps. Covering their advance 
with a cloud of skirmishers and a quick fire of artillery, he 
launched the Archduke's battalions without any hesitation 
against La Bicocca, occupied, it will be remembered, by 
Perrone. The vigour of his charge drove the brigade Savona 
headlong out of the village in great disorder. But Perrone 
brought up the Savoy brigade from his second line, recovered 
his lost ground, and made many prisoners in the detached 
houses in which the Austrians had endeavoured to settle. 
Then D'Aspre ordered up his reserve, from which, fearing to 
be outflanked, he had already detached to Torrione on the 
left to occupy Bes, and again to the extreme right to contain 
Solaroli. These fresh troops carried everything before them, 
completing the utter rout of Perrone's division. 

It was now noon ; and the Austrians, for the second time, 
were in full possession of the village of La Bicocca. No 
doubt, in engaging so earnestly, D'Aspre had relied in great 
extent upon Appel's timely appearance upon the battle-field. 
But no support arrived ; and Chrzanowsky now ordered the 
Duke of Genoa to advance and to retake, with his two 
brigades, Piedmont and Pignerol, the important position which 
Perrone had lost. This duty was admirably executed by the 
Prince. Supporting his battalions very skilfully in their for- 
ward movement, and making destructive play with his artil- 
lery, he carried La Bicocca, Castellazzo, and even Olengo, in 
succession. At the same time the left Austrian column fell 
back from Torrione, and the troops detached to the right had 
been easily repulsed by Solaroli. 

It was two o'clock in the afternoon, and D'Aspre's position 
had now become critical in the extreme. His losses had been 
exceedingly severe ; and, in spite of the constancy displayed 
by his troops, it was evident that one more vigorous effort on 
the part of the enemy was all that was required to involve 
him in defeat. To avert this, and to gain the additional hour 
upon which so much depended, the Austrian commanders 
applied themselves with the utmost devotion. 

It would seem that to make this effort formed no part of 

NOVAKA, 1849. 263 

the plan which Chrzanowsky had framed for his guidance. 
He had proposed during a great portion of the day to remain 
strictly on the defensive. His calculation was, that the 
Austrians arriving by the Mortara road would in vain assault 
the front of the strong position he held, and that, frustrated 
in this object, they would then endeavour to turn the right of 
his line. This moment he purposed to seize, in order to quit 
his defensive attitude, and, with the troops which he held in 
reserve, and with Solaroli, to execute a formidable offensive 
manoeuvre. Nothing would appear more indicative of medi- 
ocrity in a general than obstinately to adhere to a proposed 
course of action, which may be excellent under given, but 
absolutely worthless under actual, circumstances. Never- 
theless, this was the error now committed by Chrzanowsky. 
Blind to the fact of D'Aspre's isolation — unable, apparently, 
to take intelligent account of the real state of affairs — he failed 
to utilise the proffered advantage. His mind was solely intent 
upon maintaining himself successfully for the present at La 
Bicocca. To this one end he had successively engaged the 
brigades belonging to Perrone and the Duke of Genoa ; and 
far from purposing to continue the offensive, which the Duke 
had so brilliantly initiated, he now proceeded to recall that 
general, deeming his position too advanced for safety. The 
consequences of this blunder were serious, and ultimately 
fatal. It was quite possible for Chrzanowsky, with a genial 
appreciation of Eadetzky's true movements, to crush D'Aspre 
before the arrival of Appel, and to defeat Appel before the 
reserve could form up to support him. The true moment, in 
fact, for the execution of the purposed offensive movement, 
had prematurely arrived, owing to D'Aspre's rash generalship. 
To detect and to punish this fault was here the golden chance 
which, once missed, so seldom recurs in war. Seized, with 
resolute conviction, it would have entailed Eadetzky's defeat 
under circumstances which might probably have forced him 
to recross the Ticinus. 

With the relief thus opportunely accorded to him by his 
antagonist, D'Aspre's audacity returned. Once more he 
moved his men forward upon Castellazzo, where he constantly 
gained ground from the very superior numbers opposed to 


him. Ultimately he prepared for the third time to storm La 
Bicocca. Then at last Chrzanowsky drew sparingly three 
regiments from Bes and the reserve, which sufficed to render 
further efforts on the part of the shattered and exhausted 
Austrian* altogether abortive. 

Kadetzky had received D'Aspre's report about noon at 
Lavezzaro. Orders were immediately transmitted to Appel 
and Wocher to advance, and to Thurn and Wratislaw to 
change their direction for No vara. At Vespolate, where 
Appel had camped for the night, that general was distant 
little more than two hours' ordinary march from Olengo. 
But the several corps marched with their entire baggage ; and 
in rear of D'Aspre a cumbersome bridge equipage almost 
closed the road. It was with the greatest exertion that 
Appel at last succeeded in reaching the scene of action at 
four o'clock. Then he carried his two divisions, Lichnowsky 
and Taxis, to the front, relieving D'Aspre from the unequal 
struggle which for five hours he had maintained unaided. But 
little change was effected by the arrival of these fresh troops. 
Chrzanowsky still adhered to his passively defensive attitude ; 
whilst Badetzky, who was now present, purposely temporised 
until his other corps could arrive. Thurn had arrived at 
Confienza before noon. For some short time previously 
heavy firing had been heard in the direction of Novara, which 
induced him to halt his column, and take counsel with his 
superior officers. It was determined to march for Pettrengo, 
where the country road, upon which the corps was now 
marching, debouched into the chmtssic leading to Novara, 
close to the Atroa;na bridge. At five o'clock his advanced- 
guard reached and seized this bridge, which was watched by 
a picket of Sardinian cavalry. At the same hour Wocher 
reached the field of battle with the reserve, and then Ba- 
detzky, thus reinforced, at once prepared the final blow. 

The four divisions of D'Aspre and Appel, supported by a 
brigade of grenadiers from the reserve, were formed up in 
front of Castellazzo. The remainder of Wocher's corps de- 
ployed to the left in order to contain Bes and Durando, and 
to seek communication with Thurn. At the same moment 
Chrzanowsky, with a view to effect a diversion in favour of 

NOVAEA, 1849. 265 

the defenders of La Bicocca, perhaps also in the hopes of 
maintaining the battle-field, ordered Bes and Durando to 
advance. These two generals found little resistance from the 
thin line which opposed their front ; and Chrzanowsky, who 
had been present with the king to direct the movement, now 
hurried back to La Bicocca. He arrived just as the Austrians 
entered the village. The combined movement initiated by 
the field-marshal had proved irresistible. Castellazzo and 
La Bicocca were both carried in the forward rush ; and hence- 
forth this last post remained finally in Austrian possession. 
One more desperate effort was made by the Duke of Genoa 
to regain the village, which had already cost so many victims. 
But the few soldiers that he could now rally for the purpose 
fought in vain ; and all soon hurried in a confused mass 
towards the town. Tiadetzky's victorious advance upon No- 
vara naturally compromised Bes and Durando, who now 
hastened to retrace their steps. At first their retreat was 
conducted in good order, but Durando was taken in flank by 
Thurn ; and Bes, mistaken for the enemy, was fired upon 
from the ramparts of the town. Then the rout became 
general ; and the scenes enacted in the town defy description. 
The Austrian cavalry pursued the fugitives to the gates ; but 
no further attempt (probably from motives of humanity) was 
made by Badetzky against the place itself. The corps belong- 
ing to DAspre, Appel, and Thurn bivouacked under torrents 
of rain on the field. The reserve returned to Olengo ; and 
Wratislaw halted for the night at Monticello. 

The loss of the Sardinians in this battle amounted to 4000 
killed and wounded, 2000 prisoners, and 12 guns. The Aus- 
trians lost 3000 killed and wounded, and 1000 prisoners. 
The king had been present throughout the several struggles 
for the possession of La Bicocca during the day. He wit- 
nessed, entirely oblivious of his own fate, the feeble disposi- 
tions of his general, and the indifferent bearing of his soldiers. 
Returning to Novara with the rear-guard, when all was over, 
he sent to the Austrian field-marshal to demand an armistice. 
Badetzky expressed his willingness to enter into negotiations, 
with sufficient security for future good faith. He insisted 
upon occupying the territory between the Sesia and Ticinus, 


and garrisoning Alessandria ; he also demanded the Duke of 
Savoy as a personal guarantee. Charles Albert then assembled 
his generals in council, eagerly inquiring whether retreat to 
Alessandria was impracticable. On being assured by all 
present that the army was utterly unfit for further service in 
the field, he abdicated, proclaiming the Duke of Savoy king. 

After the abdication of Charles Albert, further steps were 
taken to secure an armistice ; and Chrzanowsky ordered the 
general retreat of the army northwards towards Momo and 
Borgo-Manero, where the several divisions, in extreme dis- 
order, were ultimately placed in position. The king left the 
camp immediately, and returned to Turin, upon learning 
which, Eadetzky showed more inclination to treat. He ex- 
pressed, however, the desire to meet Victor Emmanuel per- 
sonally, a request which was reluctantly accorded by the 
young king. The interview took place at a farmhouse near 
to Vignale, and the negotiations were eventually terminated 
on the following mutual agreement : — 

1. Occupation of the territory between the Sesia and 

Ticinus by 20,000 Austrian troops at the expense of 

2. The citadel of Alessandria to be garrisoned by a mixed 

force of Austrians and Sardinians. 

3. Disbandment of the Lombard division and all other 

troops of foreign origin ; then the general reduction of 
the army to a footing of peace. 

4. The negotiations for a permanent treaty of peace to be 

commenced at once upon the basis of the territorial 
settlement effected in Italy by the treaties of 1815. 

The armistice was signed by the contracting parties on the 
evening of the 24th of March. 

Wimpffen, who commanded the Austrian detachments, 
amounting to nearly 10,000 men, on the Po, appeared before 
the tete de pont of Casale on the 24th March. He was still 
endeavouring to obtain possession of the bridge when the news 
of the termination of the war, and the order to retire behind 
the Sesia, reached him. 

Fanti, who had replaced Eamorino in command of the Lom- 
bard division, had attempted, during the 21st and 22d of 

NOVARA, 1840. 267 

March, to cross to the north bank of the Po at Mezzana Corte. 
On ascertaining that the Anstrians had left the vicinity of 
that village during the night of the 22d-23d, he completed 
the repair of the bridge. On the point of crossing, he heard 
of Durando's disaster at Mortara, and then at once abandoned 
his project, doubling back to Alessandria in order to assist in 
the defence of that important stronghold. 

La Marmora crossed the frontier of Parma on the 20th of 
March, and reached the capital on the 22d, where he held 
himself in readiness to execute any further orders he might 
receive. After the cessation of hostilities he at once returned 
to Piedmont, and subsequently rendered good service to his 
new sovereign by promptly suppressing the republican move- 
ment in Genoa, called into life by the disastrous issue of 
the war. 

In Lombardy the inhabitants of towns left without gar- 
risons, incited by Italian refugees who had crossed from 
Switzerland, prepared to raise the standard of insurrection. 
Most of these movements collapsed at once when the issue of 
the first serious encounter was promulgated. But at Brescia, 
a town of 40,000 inhabitants, which had evinced the liveliest 
interest and devotion in the preceding campaign, the popu- 
lation rose on the day of the battle of Novara, and, unfor- 
tunately for themselves, committed isolated acts of cruelty 
towards a few straggling Austrian soldiers. Haynau, who 
had been left in command of the 6th corps at Verona, hurried 
with a few battalions to the spot. A most sanguinary struggle 
ensued, in which many valuable lives were uselessly sacri- 
ficed ; and the reprisals eventually enforced by the Austrian 
general contrast strangely with the humane consideration 
evinced by Piadetzky. 

Prom the commencement of hostilities, four days thus 
sufficed for the collapse of this second effort on the part of 
Piedmont in the cause of Italian independence. The char- 
acter of the military operations offers ample evidence of the 
rashness of those statesmen who plunged their country into 
this ill-advised war. The Piedmontese army was in no con- 
dition to undertake it. It entered the field full of sinister 
presentiments, and with a keen sense of its own inferiority. 


Iii the hands of a man of genius such a state of things might 
possibly have been speedily and effectually remedied. A few- 
telling words sufficed to secure to Buonaparte the confidence of 
the ragged soldiers who followed him across the Apennines. 
To expect the same results from a foreigner, equally ignorant 
of the habits and language of the troops he came to lead, was 
a strange infatuation on the part of the king and his ministers. 
Chrzanowsky soon became aware of the true spirit of the Sar- 
dinian army. In his correspondence he more than once 
alluded to the reluctance with which his soldiers anticipated 
a renewal of the war. From the first his position was more 
or less untenable. It required all the authority the king still 
exercised to maintain him at his post. It would have been 
wiser, therefore, for him to have resigned an office which he 
naturally must have felt could bring him no credit. That he 
did not do so was an error in judgment, but certainly did not 
proceed from interested motives. Chrzanowsky served Italy 
without emoluments of any sort or kind. As a soldier of the 
revolution, he considered his sword equally at home in Poland 
or in Italy. In his conduct of the operations he certainly 
displayed but little ability, his dispositions throughout being- 
characterised by want of vigour and resolution. If it be 
harsh to make him responsible for the indiscipline of his 
battalions, and the disobedience of his generals, it must be 
acknowledged that little had been effected by him to establish 
the confidence which alone could dispel the existing defects. 
Personally he seldom showed himself to his troops. His 
character was cold and retiring, ill calculated to rouse feeling 
or awaken sympathy. The orders which he issued were short 
and to the point, but not sufficiently explicit and far-sighted 
for the officers who held independent commands under him. 
Finally, he appears to have admitted no one but the king to 
his confidence. None of his divisional commanders were 
initiated in the spirit of his operations. Eamorino was not 
informed of the real value of La Cava with regard to the 
Sardinian plan. Durando was kept equally ignorant of the 
purpose which dictated the position assigned to him at Tru- 
mello. Pieticence similarly ill-judged will always entail the 
merited punishment. Where armies are organised as they 

NO VARA, 1849. 269 

then were and still are, there can be no excuse, on the plea 
of secrecy, for keeping those in the dark who must necessarily 
be the chief instruments of success. It may be argued that 
such a state of things may be fully compensated for by 
extraordinary activity on the part of the commander-in-chief. 
And so, no doubt, it may ; but no such quality was dis- 
played by Chrzanowsky. No effort was made on his part 
to ascertain that the orders issued had been duly executed. 
It is even urged by his enemies that his apathy was such that, 
on the first evening of the campaign, where all was doubt and 
anxiety, he retired at eight o'clock in the evening quietly 
to his room. Certain it is, that although sufficient reasons 
existed for mistrusting Kamorino's intentions, that officer 
was instructed to occupy La Cava on the morning of the 
20th of March (not before), and no precaution was taken to 
insure his action. 

The dispositions for opposing the possible entry of the 
Austrians into Piedmont were certainly faulty. It was not 
without great show of reason that Ramorino, on his trial, 
urged the folly of the order which committed his division at 
the last moment to the post of La Cava. To oppose seriously 
the passage of the entire Austrian army, his force was cer- 
tainly disproportioned ; as a post of observation only, a couple 
of battalions would have answered the required purpose, with- 
out endangering the entire command. In the absence of 
all certain intelligence as to the enemy's intentions, it would 
have been better to have placed two divisions at Buffalora 
and two at La Cava, with the reserve echeloned so as to 
offer timely support in either direction. The forward move- 
ment into Lombardy would have been furthered rather than 
prejudiced by this disposition, supposing Eadetzky to have 
retired behind the Adda. The total absence of any indica- 
tion of the Austrian plan must not be attributed solely to the 
skill of Eadetzky. It is gravely stated that, in their anxiety 
to reap the full advantage expected from surprise, the Sardinian 
ministers gave earlier notice to the Austrian field-marshal of 
the suspension of the armistice than to their own general, who 
had eagerly and repeatedly demanded more time at their 
hands. This would certainly relieve the Polish general of 


much of the responsibility which Italian critics have heaped 
upon his memory. But whether the fault lies with the 
Sardinian ministry, or with its general, the cause of military 
science is equally served by the results of the campaign. 

It has been demonstrated in this chapter, that before an 
army enters upon its operations it should be well and securely 
based ; that the selection of its line of operations should be 
such as to cover its line of communications with its base ; 
that its objective should be clearly understood, and, in most 
instances, firmly sustained; and that, finally, no creditable 
action can be expected, either from the officers or soldiers of 
an army who obstinately close their eyes to the terrible danger 
of disobedience and insubordination. 

In the concluding, battle of the campaign there are some 
points of special interest. From it we see, that having turned 
a flank when the first tactical success has been achieved, it 
should be pursued relentlessly ; if you tax the energies of 
your troops, you may lead them to easy victory. If you lose 
time, you forfeit all the advantages already gained, by giving 
the enemy an opportunity of discovery. 

The occupation of Novara by the morning of the 22d with 
three corps, would have disturbed the Sardinian communica- 
tions, and completed the victory, without the risk subsequently 

Under similar circumstances, it is indispensable that corps 
should be kept close together to avoid being defeated in 

The defender must seek to concentrate, sword in hand ; if 
this is effected without opposition, it is evident that the 
adversary is in doubt. It is also probable that with different 
alternatives he has separated, therefore it is essential to seize 
the first opportunity of asserting the advantage of numbers. 



MAGENTA, 1859. 

Introduction.— The first decided attempt to drive the Austrians from 
the Italian peninsula in 1848 and 1849 had failed. Venice held out for 
a brief time after the defeat at Novara, but on the 22d August of the 
latter year it capitulated after a five months' siege. 

In 1850 hostilities again broke out between Denmark and Holstein in 
Schleswig, the Duchy being again supported by Prussia ; but the latter 
Power finally concluded a separate peace, and then united with Austria 
in compelling the submission of the insurgent state. 

In 1854 occurred the Crimean war. Russia in 1853 had claimed the 
protectorate of the Christians in Turkey, and seized Moldavia and 
Wallachia as a material guarantee, whereupon the Porte declared war 
against the Czar Nicholas, and entered into an offensive alliance with 
Prance and England ; while Austria and Prussia made a separate engage- 
ment, the former placing a strong corps of observation on her eastern 
frontier, and in September 1854 occupying the Principalities. Single- 
handed the Turks had defeated the Russians at Oltenitza, but her fleet 
had been destroyed at Sinope. The Allies, after bombarding Odessa, 
landed at Old Fort in the Crimea, and the battles of the Alma, Inker- 
man, Balaklava, and the Tchernaya, were followed in September 1855 by 
the assault and capture of the southern side of Sebastopol. A treaty of 
peace was agreed to in 1856, and signed at Paris on 15th April, by which 
the integrity of Turkey was guaranteed, and Russia excluded from the 
Black Sea. Sardinia had joined the alliance in January of the previous 
year, and the conferences at Paris placed the kingdom among the great 
European Powers. But the prominent position she had thus taken was 
to become still more pronounced. Her king, Victor Emmanuel, was 
looked on hopefully and favourably by all those minor States which under 
Bourbon dynasties or Austrian rule dotted the map of Italy. The secret 
combination of these States looking on Piedmont as their possible leader, 
together with the skilful diplomacy of Count Cavour, by which France 
was led to interest herself in the cause of Italian freedom, resulted in a 
declaration of war by Austria, and her armies crossed the Tieiiras to 
oppose the allied forces of France and Piedmont. 


On the 1st of January 1859, at the reception in the Palace 
of the Tuileries, the Emperor Napoleon III. said to M. de 
Hubner, the Austrian ambassador in Paris, "I regret that 
our relations with your Government are no longer so cordial 
as they were, but I request you to tell the Emperor that my 
personal feelings towards him have undergone no alteration." 

The words, "passing through Europe with the rapidity of 
lightning, were understood to imply a threat, if not an actual 
declaration of war; indeed they led people to expect a great 
European conflict. But even these expressive words could not 
possibly convey all that was concealed in them. Let us con- 
sider, then, what had taken place that they should indicate so 
startling and menacing a state of affairs. 

The relations of the principal European Powers towards 
each other had undergone great alterations since the conclu- 
sion of the Treaty of Paris in 1856, The Eastern war had 
not attained the object for which it had been undertaken. 
Peace and its attendant negotiations scattered the seeds of 
fresh disagreements, and caused the Powers composing the 
European pentarchy to form intimacies entirely differing from 
those which had existed during the still recent struggle. 

As the most distinguishing feature of these negotiations, we 
must notice the friendly advances of France towards Prussia, 
with whom she- had so recently been at variance. 

With regard to the question of the organisation of the two 
Principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia, Prussia and France 
stood on one side, Austria and Turkey on the other; Eng- 
land, and still more Prussia, pursued a middle course. 
Ptussia and France wished for the union of the States, which 
would naturally make them more independent of the Porte. 
For this very reason the Sublime Porte opposed it, and Aus- 
tria joined her. She would perhaps have lent her influ- 
ence to the other Powers had these provinces been annexed 
to her ; such not being the case, she wished Turkey to keep 
them, and consequently advocated their continued separa- 
tion. The Convention of 19th August 1858, completed with 
so much difficulty, was a compromise. To all appearance 
Austria had gained her point; the Principalities received a 
divided government; but several branches of administration 

MAGENTA, 1859. 273 

were common to both, which was in accordance with the 
wishes of Russia and France. A further development of 
events was necessary in order to determine which side had 
in reality been successful. 

In Servia, the same parties pursued like tendencies. 

Montenegro, always in close alliance with Russia, was 
openly taken under the protection of France, when the Turks 
prepared to assert their unconditional sovereignty with armed 
hand in 1858. 

Greece, Russia's old protegee, entered into the warmest 
relations with that same France which in 1854 had occupied 
the Piraeus, in order to prevent her from taking part in the 
war against the Ottoman Empire. 

The noiseless coalition of France and Russia was evident in 
all these cases, and was directed principally against Turkey. 
But how is it that France, which had just concluded a 
three years' war, undertaken for the purpose of defending the 
integrity of Turkey against Russia, was found suddenly form- 
ing a close alliance with Russia, and against that integrity ? 
thus endeavouring to carry out her " civilising mission " by 
totally different means. 

Answer : because Austria stands behind Turkey. Austria 
equally in opposition to Russia and France, is the link which 
connects these two Powers. 

When, in the last days of the year 1858, a quickly-assembled 
political meeting in Servia deposed Prince Alexander Kara- 
georgiwitch, in order to substitute Michael Oberanowitch, 
Austria despatched a small corps of observation to the Servian 
frontier, and was inclined to place it at the disposal of the 
deposed Prince and the Porte. This called forth most bitter 
reclamations on the part of France ; and without the slight- 
est urgent cause she threatened to consider any interference 
on the part of Austria as a casus belli, inasmuch as it was 
opposed to Article 29 of the Treaty of Paris. 

Austria did not supply her with this pretext; she gave 
explanations which were necessarily satisfactory. 

But Austria, with one foot on the Danube, rested her other 
on the Po. Other causes of difference might easily be found 
in her Italian provinces, where she was in closer approxi- 



niation to France, and where a French army would find a 
more favourable point of attack, should such an eventuality 

Sardinia, humbled by her short campaign of Novara in 1849, 
had never relinquished the hope of gaining her revenge, and of 
ultimately obtaining that increase of territory to which she 
had already aspired. But Victor Emmanuel, the successor of 
Charles Albert, had promptly recognised that this end would 
prove to be as unattainable to him as it had to his father, 
without foreign assistance. In 1854 he sent a contingent to 
the Crimea to join England and France in the war against 
Eussia, without in reality having any just pretext for so doing. 
On the contrary, he had every reason to endeavour to guard 
his small and already heavily-taxed kingdom from the expense 
attendant upon war. Nothing but an ulterior design could 
have induced him to diverge from this policy. What this was 
is evident enough, — viz., to gain the assistance of France, and 
perhaps England, against Austria — to slip into the council of 
the great Powers, and then to advocate to all appearance the 
interests of Italy, but in reality only those of the Piedmont 
dynasty, and thus to strengthen its claims on the Italians 
(which had met with great opposition in 1848 and 1849) for 
the sceptre of Italy. 

To say the truth, considerable progress in this course had 
already been effected. Sardinia had taken her place by the 
side of the great Powers in concluding the Treaty of Paris in 
1856, and in the after-conferences found an opportunity of 
calling the attention of those Powers to the state of Italy, — 
a question which was entirely new, and which in reality had 
nothing to do with the Eastern war, or its termination. The 
French Minister for Foreign Affairs, it is true, avoided any 
direct allusion in these after-conferences to the position of 
Austria in Italy. He confined himself to the expression of 
the wish that reforms calculated to promote a more liberal 
development of their peoples might be introduced in the Papal 
States and Neapolitan dominions. Count Cavour, the Foreign 
Minister of Sardinia, was not so cautious. His language was 
directed entirely against the Austrian occupation : he enlarged 
particularly upon the endeavours of Austria to extend her 

MAGENTA, 1859. 275 

influence throughout the Italian peninsula, and the conse- 
quent danger and injury to Sardinia. 

The commencement was thus made, although the discussion 
introduced by the Sardinian Minister was not further entered 
into. At that moment neither France nor England showed 
great inclination to commence a new war for Sardinia, — the 
less so, as the old one had proved barren of results to all par- 
ties except the Emperor Napoleon. Thus Piedmont remained 
in the first instance alone. But by degrees she took up an 
openly hostile position towards Austria. The Piedmontese 
press systematically questioned her right of occupation of her 
Italian provinces. Similar attacks were made in the Houses 
of Assembly ; the Ministers themselves were not the least pro- 
minent in these discussions. Sardinia was continually violat- 
ing the cartel treaties. She encouraged desertion from the 
Austrian provinces, and refused to give up the deserters. 
Austria, warned by Cavour's language at the conferences of 
Paris, proceeded with double energy to maintain her position 
in Italy; she made the broadest possible use of her rights 
of occupation and fortification in the Duchies and Lega- 
tions ; she formed new, and renewed old treaties with other 
Italian States, and so certainly gave great ground for fresh 
and angry reclamations on the part of Piedmont, which ulti- 
mately induced her to recall her ambassador from Turin, 
without, however, breaking off all diplomatic communication 
with Sardinia. 

In the course of the year 1858, it was observed that the 
language of Piedmont gradually became more and more con- 
fident. It seemed tolerably certain that she had gained an 
ally ;_this was no other than the Emperor Napoleon. 

Orsini's conspiracy to assassinate him on the 14th January 
1858 had made a great impression on the mind of this mon- 
arch ; it had caused him a severe shock. Under its effects 
he had hastened to plunge France into the deepest abyss 
of despotism by introducing the " Loi des Suspects," — thus 
destroying all confidence in right and justice. 

No nation will continue to bend its neck to such a yoke 
for any length of time, unless its thoughts are diverted from 
its contemplation by intense interest in foreign events. The 


absolute lord of France found war a necessity,— doubly so 
because the army was his chief support, and naturally desir- 
ous of it. He also found it necessary to place himself at the 
head of that army. Circumstances had prevented his doing 
this in the Crimea; but his family traditions demanded it. 
A war in Italy was particularly welcome to him: such a 
one could be waged against Austria ; and he found a natural 
ally in Russia. With regard to England, he could reckon 
with certainty upon finding her in a neutral position ; for 
although her interests might lead her to oppose him, she 
could not possibly enter the lists against Italy struggling 
for that freedom for which she had so often expressed her 

Besides this, the war in Italy would be carried on in close 
approximation to the French frontier ; and the distance from 
the French capital, which prevented Napoleon from taking 
the command of the Crimean army, no longer presented any 
obstacle. His uncle had gained his first laurels in Italy, and 
the well-known tendency of his mind to imitate him was thus 

Weighty reasons thus speak for the fact that Napoleon 
wished for war — war in Italy, and against Austria. Are more 
required ? Shall his well-known superstition and old obliga- 
tions be urged ? 

It may not be superfluous to consider the individuality 
of the Emperor. Faith in the connection of certain pheno- 
mena of nature with personal destiny, belief in prophecies and 
suchlike — in short, what is generally termed superstition, is 
more or less shared by all who have passed a life of adventure, 
and recognised the wonderful dispensations in this world. An 
old gipsy woman is said to have prophesied to the Emperor 
Napoleon that he would gain a great victory in Italy. Keport 
says he believed it. 

The attempt of Orsini is said to have urgently called to the 
Emperor's mind the solemn oaths he had taken on joining the 
party of " Young Italy" in 1830, and the engagements towards 
Italy which these oaths imposed upon him. 

Whatever such suggestions are worth, this is certain, that 
in the course of the year 1858 the intimacy of Napoleon the 

MAGENTA, 1859. 277 

Third with Sardinia increased in the same proportion as his 
coolness with Austria. 

He first intimated his intention of interfering in Italian 
affairs for the furtherance of Piedmontese interests, to the 
detriment of Austria, by vague remarks either in the papers 
or in diplomatic communications. The mutual occupation of 
Papal territory by French and Austrian troops gave the first 
occasion for such remarks. 

This subject had been mooted at the conferences of Paris, 
and it was generally agreed upon that this occupation could 
not last for ever. As, however, there was no probability of 
its termination until the Papal States were thoroughly quiet- 
ed, it was a good opportunity for France and Austria to come 
to an understanding for the purpose of introducing reforms 
calculated to produce such desirable effects. During the dif- 
ferent discussions on this point, France continually hinted 
at Austria's disinclination to promote such reforms, and 
indirectly accused her of wishing to make her influence pre- 
ponderant. The same remarks were made to her with regard 
to her Neapolitan policy. 

Piedmont alone spoke out with increased decision against 
Austria. This was done, however, through the press, and not 
by means of diplomatic correspondence. 

Again, as France had sided with Russia in the East, so now 
Russia joined France in the West. Russia's negotiations with 
Sardinia for the purpose of securing the harbour of Villa- 
franca, here call for particular attention. 

Different measures of reform introduced by Austria in 1858, 
in pursuance of her idea of centralising the empire, were very 
unpopular in her Italian provinces, and were used by Pied- 
mont to stir up the flame of discontent. Prominent amongst 
these were the New Currency and Recruiting laws. The 
movement going on, more especially in the towns of Austrian 
Italy, could not long remain a secret ; and this, added to what 
she already knew of Piedmont's plans, in concert with France, 
to encourage the insurrection against her rule in Italy, 
naturally excited her full attention. It could no longer be 
doubted, from all that was taking place, that she was the 
object of a double attack— which was the more dangerous, as 


the mask which was still worn might at any moment be 
thrown aside. She found herself consequently compelled to 
take precautionary measures ; and with this object in view, 
her policy may be thus defined : To endeavour to avoid giving 
the slightest plausible pretext for the outbreak of the pre- 
meditated attack, and at the same time to improve her military 
position in Italy by reinforcing her army there. 

It is now plain enough for what reasons the New Year's 
o-reeting of Napoleon III. made so deep an impression, and 
was considered of so much importance. 

Up to this moment, then, were on the one side Austria, 
allied, so to say, with the Porte and the majority of the 
governments of the Italian States ; on the other, France, Pied- 
mont, and Eussia in concert with the insurrection in Italy, as 
well as in the Sclavo-Rounianian countries — or, in other words, 
the countries professing the religion of the Greek Church. 
England and Prussia have still to be dealt with. 

The outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in May 1857 had drawn 
largely upon the resources of England. She was nevertheless 
forced to continue to keep a watchful eye upon the Continent. 
One subject in particular was of the greatest importance to 
her. The plan which had been so long entertained, of cutting 
through the Isthmus of Suez, was looked upon very favourably 
by France. It offered to the Mediterranean States, if carried 
out, an easy and very advantageous connection with India. 
Under all circumstances, it was probable that it would effect a 
great change in the commercial relations of the world — at any 
rate, England would find an opposition to which she could 
not afford to be indifferent. It might prove to be of still 
greater ultimate importance to her if the Napoleonic idea of 
converting the Mediterranean into a French lake were carried 
out, and England excluded from it. France in particular 
would then be possessed of the shortest road to India, and in 
the course of time might seriously menace her rule in that 
country. As a matter of course, therefore, England opposed 
the project with all her influence, and besides this, com- 
menced taking precautions for the protection of her Indian 

After France, Austria, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Russia 

MAGENTA, 1859. 279 

would derive the greatest benefit from this new road of com- 
munication, consequently none of these Powers had any 
interest in opposing the French undertaking, not even Austria. 

Further complications in European politics altered this. 
It was evident enough, that whatever other Mediterranean 
States there might be, France was then the real mistress of that 
sea, as well as of the road to Suez. This was owing to the 
great superiority of her naval resources, for the increase and 
improvement of which Napoleon III. had made incredibly 
successful exertions within the previous years. Austria could 
offer no objection to her preponderance there. 

But to all appearance it was the purpose of her enemies 
to expel her from Italy, and even from Istria and Dalmatia 
— or in other words, from the entire Adriatic coast — should 
they be successful. This clearly changed her position alto- 
gether. Austria and England, by force of their respective 
interests, became natural allies, and found themselves com- 
pelled to lose sight of any matters of smaller importance, for 
the purpose of mutually assisting each other. 

The idea of the exclusion of England from the Mediter- 
ranean, furthered by the project of the Suez Canal, in connec- 
tion with the expulsion of Austria from the Adriatic, now 
increased in dimensions, and drew other countries and nations 
into its vortex. 

Once successfully completed, Eoman and Sclavo-Grecian 
States would rule alone on the shores of the Adriatic. The 
Eoman race, headed by France, would soon assert her superior- 
ity on the ocean. England, however, would not be the only 
country excluded from the Mediterranean— it would be equally 
closed to the Germans. The struggle by means of which this 
end was to be attained would be a war of races, the Roman 
and Sclavonic against the German. To conceal and disguise 
the real character of this war as long as possible, was the great 
and necessary object of the "Imperator" of the Roman race, 
in order to attain by degrees entire success. But it would 
prove difficult to keep England off if Austria were to be 
first attacked ; much more probable would it be that Austria 
would hold aloof were England to be attacked first. The 
impatience of the Italians, however, and the prospect of 


winning other allies to be gradually brought into play, pre- 
vented the execution of this part of the plan. 

Development of the War in Lombardy. 

Political outbreaks in Lombardy, the language used by the 
Piedmontese press, the warlike preparations of France ex- 
plained by the New Year's greeting of the Emperor of the 
French, led the Austrian Government to strengthen her army 
in Italy in the last days of January. For this purpose the 
3d army corps was ordered off from the neighbourhood of 
Vienna, together with several border regiments. These troops 
were forwarded by rail from Vienna to Trieste ; and in a 
few days the whole movement was completed. But the army 
remained on the peace establishment ; and fresh regiments 
were drawn in from Galicia and Transylvania to replace those 
taken from Vienna. 

While these military movements were taking place, King 
Victor Emmanuel opened the Piedmontese Chambers. His 
speech described the position and expressed the purposes of 
Piedmont, more particularly where he stated that the country 
could not remain indifferent to the cry of anguish in Italy. 

Immediately after, the Sardinian troops were drawn in from 
the more distant parts of the country, such as Savoy and the 
isle of Sardinia, and concentrated towards the Austrian fron- 
tier on the Ticinus and about Alessandria. 

The Piedmontese formed recruiting offices on the frontier 
for the purpose of enrolling youths from the other Italian 
States and forming them into organised bodies. 

A report which had gained ground since the commence- 
ment of the year was now confirmed. On the 15th January, 
Prince Napoleon, the Emperor's cousin, landed at Villafranca, 
and was married on the 30th January to the Princess Clo- 
thilde, eldest daughter of King Victor Emmanuel, then in her 
sixteenth year. 

The preparations of France, which had hitherto been con- 
fined to the artillery and fleet, now took another direction. 
Extensive purchases of horses were made, more especially in 

MAGENTA, 1859. 281 

Germany. An Army of the Alps, the formation of which had 
long been rumoured, now took up its position, the Army of 
Lyons forming its nucleus. Transport vessels were sent from 
Toulon to Algiers for the purpose of bringing over veteran 
and seasoned battalions. The commencement was made with 
the division Eenault, the advanced-guard of which landed at 
Marseilles on the 12th February. 

All these circumstances could no longer admit a doubt but 
that the closest alliance existed between France and Sardinia, 
and that, in fact, an offensive and defensive alliance had been 
concluded between them against Austria. Uneasy glances 
were also directed towards Russia, in consequence of the 
report that preparations menacing to Austria were being 
carried on there. 

Napoleon III., in his speech on opening the Chambers on 
the 7th February, acknowledged that the state of Italy was 
such as to cause just ground of apprehension to diplomacy in 
general ; but he expressed the hope that peace would be main- 
tained. Public opinion here took different directions : while 
some were of opinion after this speech that peace would not 
be disturbed, others openly affirmed that the Emperor only 
desired time to complete his preparations, and showed his 
determination not to allow Piedmont to hurry him into the 
war, but to choose his own time for striking the blow. 

A congress before the war would doubtless have been 
welcome to him, in order to isolate Austria from her natural 
allies. The Emperor's real speech was contained in a pam- 
phlet inspired by him, entitled 'Napoleon III. and Italy.' 

The public press of France advocated more or less the same 
views, only interrupted by an occasional quieting article in 
the ' Moniteur/ or some other paper. 

During this time Austria was not idle. Indeed, how could 
she be, when matters in the East were taking an ecp:ially 
hostile turn? 

On the 12th January Colonel Couzar was elected Hospadar 
of Moldavia, and on the 5th February to the same office in 
Wallachia. The union of the Principalities, which should 
have been prevented by the Convention of 19th August 1858, 
was in reality effected by this. 


Russia and France immediately recognised this double 
election, while Austria and the Porte entered their protest 
against it. The latter Power sent troops to the Danube. 

This double election was of importance to the progress of 
events in Italy, inasmuch as it afforded an excuse for the 
assembly of a congress where the " Italian question " could 
be dealt with more decidedly and distinctly than had yet 
been the case. Austria naturally opposed this course, as she 
could not admit that an Italian question, as viewed by France 
and Sardinia, existed. 

At this critical moment England, with Prussia at her side, 
appeared on the stage. 

The English ambassador in Paris, Lord Cowley, on terms 
of intimacy with both the Emperor Napoleon and the 
Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count Buol, was 
selected to commence the work of mediation, and was to 
be assisted at Vienna by Baron Werther, the Prussian 
ambassador in that capital. 

After conferring with Napoleon and Count "Walewski, Lord 
Cowley came over to London to make himself acquainted with 
the views of the Derby Cabinet ; on the 24th of February he 
left Vienna. At the same time the English Government 
called upon the Piedmontese Minister to specify the causes of 
complaint against Austria. Count Cavour replied in a memo- 
randum on the 1st of March, in which he attacked the treaties 
of Austria with the States of Central Italy, by means of which 
Piedmontese influence in the peninsula was improperly inter- 
fered with. These treaties were thus made the open cause 
of dispute. Count Buol and Lord Cowley talked the matter 
over. The former denied that any Power was justified in dis- 
puting or questioning the right of Austria to conclude these 
treaties ; any sovereign State possessed that right. He laid 
the matter before Lord Cowley, and ultimately stated that 
Austria would not object to having this point discussed in 
a Congress under certain conditions. Amongst these were : 
that other means of preserving the peace in Italy must be 
devised ; that Sardinia must not be allowed to extend her pre- 
tensions as the great Italian Power ; that the other Powers 
present at the Congress should likewise lay their treaties with 

MAGENTA, 1859. 283 

the Italian States on the table ; and lastly, that all negotiations 
should be based on the final treaties of 1815, which must in 
no way be encroached upon. 

Whilst this was going on at Vienna, the friends of peace 
became more sanguine in their hopes that it would be pre- 
served. The Emperor Napoleon did his utmost to encourage 
these hopes. On the 5th of March his Note appeared in the 
1 Moniteur ' denying that any warlike preparations w T ere being 
made by France. He acknowledged, it is true, that an alliance 
existed between France and Sardinia for the protection of 
the latter in case she should be attacked, but attributed the 
general feeling of insecurity that existed to the exaggerations 
of the press ; whereas there was in reality no ground for 
apprehension. Three days afterwards the recently-married 
Prince Napoleon was relieved from his office of Minister of 
the Colonies. This was intended as a sure sign of peace. It 
was generally asserted that Napoleon III. was unconditionally 
in favour of peace— he was the essence of moderation ; the 
real disturber was the Prince— he it was who urged Piedmont 
on to such reckless daring ! Unmistakably convinced of the 
peaceful intentions of the Emperor, he had retired from the 
Ministry of a Power which could desert the cause of his 
father-in-law ! 

The incredulous shook their heads. All this, they said, was 
but jugglery : Napoleon III. was sufficiently prepared to assist 
Piedmont against an attack of Austria, if that were all ; but 
he had gained the conviction from different manifestations of 
public feeling, particularly in Germany, that Austria was by 
no means so isolated as he thought. He was not prepared for a 
war in which Germany and perhaps England would take part 
with Austria. He required time to complete his preparations, 
and a Congress in order to isolate Austria. By gaining time 
he gained the advantage of ruining Austria, already so deeply 
involved, in a financial point of view, and might perhaps force 
her under the strain of this difficulty to attack. By this 
means he desired to throw the whole unpopularity of the war 
on Austria, and gain public opinion for himself. 

The incredulous were right. It is only to be wondered at 
that they never doubted as to whether Napoleon would sue- 


ceed in securing his double object of getting a Congress if he 
found it advisable, and of commencing the war at his own 

This is either strong testimony to the power of intellect of 
the man, or to the want of it in his adversaries. 

That the Emperor of the French was not very well con- 
tented with the mediation of England, of which he of course 
received instant and accurate information, is natural enough. 
Was he to expose his treaty with Piedmont ? The demand 
was reasonable enough on the part of Austria, but reasonable 
demands may be very inconvenient to those who should 
comply with them. Besides which, to all appearance England's 
mediation did not seem to tend directly to a Congress. In 
concert with Eussia she was desirous of settling the question 
quietly and alone. That scheme must be thwarted, and 
nothing could be easier. 

When Lord Cowley returned from Vienna to Paris on 
the 16th of March, he learnt that a lively interchange of 
communication had been going on between the French and 
Russian Courts during his absence, and that the Court of 
St Petersburg had proposed a Congress of the five great 
Powers for the purpose of settling the Italian question. At 
the same time Lord Malmesbury, the English Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, was informed of Bussia's proposition by the 
French ambassador in London, and acquainted with the fact 
— it was in accordance, also, with the views of France. 

These communications perplexed him. He did not feel 
justified in declining Eussia's proposition of a Congress with 
regard to Lord Cowley's mission. On the other hand, he did 
not wish to allow Eussia to have entirely her own way in the 
matter. He consequently took a middle course. 

He accepted the proposition, but laid down four points 
which were to serve as the basis on which the Congress 
should work. 

The Eussian ambassador in London, Baron Brunow, gave 
his consent to these points on the 22d March. They were as 
follows : — 

1. To devise means for the maintenance of peace between 
Austria and Sardinia. 

MAGENTA, 1859. 285 

2. Evacuation of the Papal States by the foreign troops 
of occupation, and deliberation on reform in the Italian 

3. Consideration of a substitute for the special treaties of 
Austria with the Italian States. 

4. The territorial distribution and treaties of 1815 were not 
to be disturbed. 

On the 21st of March, Balahine, the Eussian ambassador 
at Vienna, communicated to Count Buol the proposition in 
favour of a Congress. On the 28th March, Lord Loftus, the 
English ambassador, handed in the basis determined by Lord 

Austria felt that she must be very careful here, as the pro- 
position proceeded from Eussia evidently in concert with 
France, in order to thwart the English mediation which was 
becoming inconvenient. Count Buol answered Balahine's 
Note on the 23d March, before the points insisted on by Eng- 
land were officially communicated to him. 

He declared that Austria was prepared to entertain Eussia's 
proposition equally with France, England, and Eussia. In 
his opinion the position taken up by Sardinia in her foreign 
relations was the only difficulty — and that must be satisfac- 
torily settled at once. In case other questions were to be 
brought before the Congress, they must be previously clearly 
defined ; and if the affairs of any other sovereign State were 
to be talked over, according to the principles laid down by 
the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, those States must 
be duly represented in the Congress. 

Consultations carried on simultaneously with the " clash 
of arms " were not only dangerous in a material point of 
view, but morally absolutely impossible. According to Aus- 
tria's views, Piedmont must disarm before a Congress could 

Count Buol replied to the Note of Lord Loftus on the 31st 
of March. He again laid the greatest stress upon the neces- 
sity of Sardinia's disarming before the Congress could meet, 
and declared most positively that Austria would not accept the 
Congress before this had taken place. England had promised 
to use her influence with France in order to promote this end, 


a point much dwelt upon by Count Buol ; who in his turn 
engaged that Austria would not attack Sardinia during the 

In an appendix to this communication he made special 
remarks on the " Four points " from an Austrian point of 

With regard to the first point— the Congress should devise 
means of compelling Sardinia to perform her international 
duties, and to prevent the renewal of similar complicities in 

He consented to the discussion proposed in the second point, 
but demanded that the settlement of the detail should be left 
to the Powers immediately concerned — France, Austria, and 
the Papal States. 

He declined a discussion concerning the legality of the 
Austrian treaties ; at the same time, if all the Powers repre- 
sented at the Congress agreed to make knowm their treaties 
with the Italian States, Austria would do the same, and come 
to an understanding with the other States interested in it, as 
to the necessity of a revision of them. 

Count Buol expressed his entire concurrence with the fourth 
point ; and then added a fifth — That the great Powers should 
come to an understanding about a general and simultaneous 

People in Turin began to doubt the Emperor Napoleon — 
without much reason, it is true : they strongly objected to a 
Congress, more especially a Congress where Sardinia was not 
to be represented. At the latter end of March the Emperor 
sent for Count Cavour to Paris, and he returned from thence 
on the 30th with his mind fully at ease. It was about this 
time that the saying originated that "a Congress was a 
necessary implement of war." The preliminary negotiations 
were necessary for the completion of military preparations, 
and it would prove easy in the meantime, or actually during 
the Congress, to irritate and thus isolate Austria, and throw 
the whole blame of the war on her. 

It was necessary to continue to appear to give way, taking 
care not to go too far; and where France gave way, thus 

MAGENTA, 1859. 267 

evincing her love of peace, it was Piedmont's business to 
raise fresh difficulties, which France in her position of media- 
trix would not altogether ignore. 

To judge by after-events, such may have been the purport 
of the conferences between Napoleon III. and the Piedmontese 

Sardinia declared that she could not begin to disarm unless 
she be admitted to the Congress on an equal footing with the 
other Powers. The English Government made the proposition 
to France that they united should guarantee Sardinia from an 
Austrian attack if she would disarm. This was unsuccessful, 
for France declined to give this joint guarantee. Then Austria 
proposed a general disarmament before the meeting of the 

France accepted the proposition of the general disarmament, 
in such form that the principle should be recognised before 
the meeting of the Congress, but its actual execution should 
be deferred, and settled at the Congress. 

By the introduction of the question of general disarma- 
ment, and more especially by the counter - proposition of 
France, the matter became complicated to the utmost. 

The deliberations had arrived at this phase on the 9th 

It may be well here to examine this question of disarma- 
ment. In order to form an estimate of the meaning of the 
term, we should know what the three Powers had already 
effected in the way of arming. 

At the commencement of January, as we have already seen, 
Austria had pushed forward a fresh army corps, though not 
on the war establishment, for the reinforcement of her Italian 
army. She had increased and armed her fortifications in 
Italy, and, more particularly, erected new works on the coast 
of the Adriatic. She had concentrated fresh troops from the 
eastern to the central provinces of the empire, for the purpose 
of sending them with greater despatch to Italy. Towards the 
end of February she began to increase the strength of many 
regiments by calling in the furlough men. The army in 
Italy was composed entirely of regiments not recruited in 


Italy. The recruiting districts of many of these regiments in 
Italy were far distant in the eastern Crownlands — the fur- 
lough men were being called in here in order to be forwarded 
to their regiments in Italy. Those regiments which had their 
recruiting districts in Italy were quartered with three bat- 
talions in other provinces of the empire, leaving only the 
fourth battalion in these districts. They also called in their 
furlough men, and the four battalions marched out of Italy 
with them, leaving only the so-called depot division, consist- 
ing of two companies, as a nucleus for the fifth battalion 
(which was to be newly formed) behind. By the 9th March 
it was calculated that about 65,000 furlough men had been 
called in. This measure was gradually extended. In the 
beginning of April it was determined to reinforce the army 
in Italy with another army corps drawn in from the neigh- 
bourhood of Cracow to Vienna, and to place the whole of 
the Italian army on the war establishment, by calling in the 
reserves, forming fifth battalions of the depot divisions, and 
erecting the grenadier battalions. This last measure was 
counter-ordered, owing to the short prospect of maintaining 
peace which appeared about this time, but was renewed shortly 

The disarmament of Austria would thus mean the with- 
drawal of all reinforcements, including the furlough men who 
had been called in from Italy, and the dismissal of them to 
their homes. 

France had made enormous purchases of horses, had 
increased her fleet, had drawn in different divisions from 
Algiers, and collected immense stores in the magazines of her 
southern ports ; she had further strengthened the troops along 
the Alpine frontier by large reinforcements, had added a fourth 
battalion to each of her hundred infantry regiments, and 
marked out fresh camps at the foot of the Alps, and was pre- 
pared to reorganise the national code. 

Nevertheless France declared that she was not arming ; and, 
to speak the truth, her measures w r ere of such a nature that 
she was able to affirm this with some appearance of truth- 

To the insinuation that she was heaping up stores of war, 

MAGENTA, 1859. 2-9 

she replied, — " Quite right ; but that is continually taking 
place in all well organised States. If we have done more than 
usual in this way, it is because we have recently entirely 
altered our naval and military system. We are busily 
engaged in manufacturing rifled and other newly-invented 
cannon ; our navy is undergoing a period of transition, owing 
to the general improvement in artillery and the introduction 
of steam." 

" But is it necessary on that account to detach a party from 
each infantry and lancer regiment to the artillery ? " 

''Certainly; they are to be instructed in the use of the 
new guns, and form a kind of regimental artillery, so to 

"What is your object in purchasing such large supplies of 
biscuit at Toulon and Marseilles ? " 

" For the use of the naval squadron assembled there for 
manoeuvring purposes." 

" Why are you working day and night in your laboratories 
for the construction of ammunition ? " 

" Every State should take care to have ample supplies of 
ammunition in store. We are entirely deficient of the am- 
munition required for our recently-improved artillery, and are 
now constructing it." 

"But you have formed 100 new infantry battalions ? " 

"So we have. Previously each regiment contained three 
battalions, eight companies to the battalion. We have altered 
this, and instead of three battalions of eight companies each, 
have now four battalions per regiment of six companies each. 
The measure is easily explained. We now manoeuvre in two 
ranks instead of three, as formerly. Owing to this change, 
the large battalions have proved to be unwieldy, and smaller 
ones handier and preferable. It is simply a matter of im- 
proved reorganisation. The army is on the peace establish- 
ment. We have not called in our reserves." (This was per- 
fectly correct. No other measure in this respect had been 
taken in the French army, besides curtailing the furloughs 
and keeping men still in their regiments who were entitled to 
their discharge. But nothing is easier than to increase the 
infantry from the peace to the war footing, more especially 



now that railways are used for such purposes, if everything 
else is prepared.) 

" Surely you have brought over troops from Algiers ? " 

" We have, but we have despatched others in their places." 

"And you intend bringing over more, especially troops 
which only quit that province in time of war — for instance, 
the Foreign Legion, the Zouaves, and the Chasseurs d'Afrique." 

" True ; but they have not yet arrived in Europe. They 
will only be brought over if war is not to be avoided. The 
fact that they are still in Algiers speaks strongly for France's 
love of peace, and for her hopes of its preservation. At the 
same time, we do not wish to deny that we also share the 
general apprehension. How could it be otherwise? How 
could we be blind to the probability of war, which everybody 
else considers imminent? Of course it is our duty to be 
prepared for this eventuality. For this very reason we, like 
others, have been purchasing horses ; but nobody can say 
with truth that we are making extraordinary preparations." 

Such may have been the language of the French. They 
might have added that their troops were not in Italy, but 
where they had full right to be — on French ground ; and if 
the question of disarmament was left for a Congress to deal 
with, it might be thus placed before it : — By a general dis- 
armament are all States meant, or only those which are now 
standing opposed to each other in Italy ? Take for granted 
that this question were answered according to the wish and 
in favour of France, and that Piedmont and Austria had 
disarmed within reasonable limits — that the Congress, how- 
ever, had proved barren of results — that outbreaks had taken 
place in Italy beyond the boundaries of the Austrian provinces, 
where Austria found it necessary to interfere with her police, 
and Piedmont had opposed her with the troops at her disposal, 
— how much free scope would then be left to France, bound 
as she was by treaty to defend Piedmont ? 

Now to Piedmont. 

She had pushed forward the troops garrisoning Savoy and 
the island of Sardinia towards the frontier of Lombardy. 
\Vhen Austria began to call in her furlough men, she also 
ordered out the whole of the reserve of the 1st class, and 

MAGENTA, 1859. 201 

part of the reserve of the 2d class. She armed her fortresses, 
and erected new lines of fortification, principally for the pro- 
tection of her railways. Her last and most important act was 
to recruit and enlist volunteers from all the Italian States, 
some of whom were drafted into the regular army, and the 
remainder organised under Garibaldi's command. By this 
means she encouraged desertion from the armies of other 
States, particularly from Austrian Italy. She stirred up the 
flame in the whole peninsula, and awakened hopes which it 
would prove difficult to disappoint. 

It will be easily understood that it was difficult for Sar- 
dinia, without undergoing an amount of moral degradation 
which would make it impossible for her ever again to raise 
the Italian standard, to dismiss these volunteers after she had 
once commenced their enrolment. Austria was very well 
aware of this, and for this reason insisted upon her disarm- 
ing first. By this step Piedmont would lose all influence 
in Italy. Besides, there would still remain well - matched 
enemies on both frontiers of Sardinia — France on the one 
side, and Austria on the other. Their turn was to come 
next. She afterwards consented to the proposition of a 
general disarmament, in order to make it less humbling to 
Sardinia ; but the effect of that measure would not be mate- 
rially altered by this. 

Austria could not consent to the counter-proposition of 
France — viz., to accept the principle of a general disarmament, 
but to leave its execution to a Congress — because she saw 
through the object of this French manoeuvre, which was to 
place Austria in the same position as Piedmont, and to lay 
equal obligations on both ; whilst France herself, evading the 
restriction, remained as free in her actions as the other great 
Powers who were not immediately concerned in the matter. 

At the same time, Austria saw clearly enough that the very 
difficulty of Sardinia's position, and the impossibility of any 
alteration in her own propositions, would hardly allow of a 
peaceful solution of the question. 

To avoid being duped, she therefore determined, in case 
the mediating Powers should not succeed within ten days 
in satisfactorily settling the matter, to make a direct demand 


on Sardinia to disarm, and, in case of non-compliance, to 
intrust the issue of the question to the sword. 

The determination was confirmed by the conviction that it 
would be impossible for her to avoid the war which Napoleon 
III. had willed ; and that it was her true policy to commence 
it as soon as possible, on account of the enormous expense the 
continued maintenance of her increased army for the sake of 
a rotten peace entailed upon her. 

She was naturally desirous of securing allies which circum- 
stances might offer to her. The prospect of these was very 
uncertain, to say the least. Austria had found mediators, 
but not one ally. She turned her thoughts first to Germany, 
with which she was most nearly connected through the Con- 
federation. It will here be well to say a few words with 
regard to the feelings and expressions of opinion evinced 
there from the 1st January to the commencement of April. 

In Southern Germany public opinion declared itself for 
Austria; whereas in Northern Germany, more especially in 
Prussia, some few voices only were raised in her favour. 

At the same time, the sympathy expressed was of a very 
divided character, not only with regard to its sources, but as 
to the manner and amount of assistance offered. 

Some said — Austria is a German State, and we must con- 
sequently hold with her for good or bad ; others were of 
opinion that the same danger with which Austria was im- 
mediately threatened was ultimately in store for them if, 
said they, we allow Austria to fall alone. The same calamity 
will befall us in our turn, if we allow Napoleon "to localise " 
the war with Austria. She in her turn will be obliged, 
if defeated in this first act, to look on while we are being 
annihilated in the second. 

In these German sentiments we see the one party speaking 
directly in favour of Austria, the other more opposedly to 
Napoleon than sympathising with her. 

These latter took nearly the same view as that previously ex- 
pressed. Observe this great man, they said, who now appears 
as the liberator of Italy. Do his antecedents pronounce him 
capable of playing this rdle ? Was France ever so enslaved as 
she now is ? The liberator should commence at home. For 

MAGENTA, 1839. 293 

the present we can only divine that he wishes to substitute 
French for Austrian influence in Italy, and that he is anxious 
to extend the blessings of the "loi des suspects" and the 
parched guillotine at Cayenne to Italy. Do you flatter your- 
selves that the man who wishes to divert the eyes of France 
from her own misery to the glory he is winning abroad — who, 
hurried on by the army which supports him in France, is 
burning with ambition and the desire to avenge the memory 
of his uncle — will stop short in his career when he has " freed 
Italy"? Is it not on all Germany, more particularly on 
Northern Germany, that he must avenge his uncle ? Let us, 
then, make a stand together against him ; let us defend the 
rights of Germany ; let us return from this mistaken enthu- 
siasm for all that is foreign, in order to give a thought to 

If the question be, whether France or Germany, represented 
by Austria, rule in Italy, let us quickly and plainly declare 
for Germany. In reality there is no other question imme- 
diately before us. Again, if the question be whether we 
allow ourselves to be attacked and defeated by the man of 
the 2d of December, or whether united we turn the tables, 
who will then for an instant hesitate ? 

Opinion was equally divided in the opposite party, which 
advocated the neutrality of Germany during the war between 
France and Austria in Italy. The one side was directly for 
Napoleon, the other more or less opposed to Austria, 

What ! said they, — has Austria suddenly become a German 
State because she requires our assistance ? Austria, who can 
only count 8,000,000 Germans in a population of 38,000,000 ! 
When did Austria ever stand up for German interests ? Was 
she not always ready to sacrifice German territory when she 
had an opportunity of increasing her own? What did she do 
for Germany in 1848? Did she not in 1850 exert herself 
to the utmost to humble Germany by helping to clench the 
grasp of Denmark on Schleswig and Holstein ? Can any one 
expect enthusiasm from us for Austria, who has introduced 
the Concordat, for the purpose of converting her subjects, on 
the leading-string of priestcraft, and with the bait of sensual 
enjoyment, into a blind and senseless instrument of the great 


central despotism ? Suppose that Austria, with the assistance 
of German armies under the auspices of German princes, 
should prove victorious, would not then the whole of Germany 
be subjected to the yoke of the Metternich system, well sea- 
soned with Popery ? Is it for this we are to send our sons 
and brothers to the slaughter-house ? Admit that Austria is 
somewhat preferable to Napoleon III., but do not forget that 
Austria represents a principle. Napoleon is but an individual. 
In case of victory, Austria will remain stationary, whoever 
may take the palm. If Napoleon is defeated, he becomes a 
nonentity. Should he be victorious, his policy will disappear 
sooner or later with him : and a natural end is by no means 
insured to him. 

The answer to all this w T as : The approaching struggle will 
not be confined to a war between Napoleon III. and Austria ; 
in reality it is the commencement of the attacks of Koman- 
Sclavonic races upon the German. So that Napoleon is not 
merely an individual, he also represents a principle ; if he 
should fall, his idea will be perpetuated. It was not Napoleon 
I. who exhausted and enslaved Germany, it was the race to 
which he belonged ; and for this reason Germany should be 
united. As regards the 8,000,000 Germans in Austria, they 
are the reigning class there. Nations possessing a higher 
degree of civilisation maintain their position by ruling others. 
Are all the French departments populated by Frenchmen? 
If this is the case, it is because France has always remorse- 
lessly enforced her nationality wherever she rules, a principle 
which the Germans have never adopted; if they had, the 
national language would long since have disappeared in 
Hungary, Bohemia, and Austrian Italy, as it has in Elsass 
and Lothringen. 

If we are always to look on and applaud when we see a 
province which can lay a claim, however slight, to separate 
nationality torn away from Germany, there will soon be no 
Germany left. 

The Poles will prove that their ancestors were domiciled 
on the "Weser ; the French will fish up the possessions held 
by Charles the Great, and demonstrate that Berlin is, pro- 
perly speaking, a French town, because it contains a French 

MAGENTA, 1859. 295 

Protestant community; the Bohemians will establish their 
kingdom in the middle of Germany; the Danes will have 
their claim to make ; and we shall resemble a class of Jews, 
who, however badly they may be off, possess sufficient philo- 
sophy to regard it as a just and proper dispensation. If we 
are to avoid this, and prevent a stranger ruling and living 
where we now rule and live, we cannot continue to play our 
role of good philosophers, nor give our ready consent to every 
enterprise and undertaking of our neighbours. Let us keep 
what we possess, and help any member of our body to keep 
what belongs to him ; for however bad our claim may be, it is 
certainly better than that of him who gets possession after us. 
Let us renounce the glory of being a nation of " thinkers," and 
strive to be a nation. Let us forget the sins of Austria for 
our own sakes, for the sake of Germany. Recollect that it is 
a thousand times better to be subjected to a despotism of our 
own than a foreign one. Our ancestors would soon tell us 
how they relished the French visit, and whether a repetition 
of it would prove desirable. 

These and many other sentiments were generally expressed. 
Some inspired individuals saw in Napoleon III. the " man 
of destiny," the " instrument of God," the " scourge of God." 
"Whether he wished it or not, he was destined to regenerate 
and reform the state of Europe ; for this reason he ought not 
to be opposed or interfered with in his designs. 

It was intelligible enough to the other European Powers, 
that Austria should insist on the preservation of the treaties 
of 1815. It was also natural that Napoleon should advocate 
their revision, inasmuch as he occupied the throne of Prance 
in direct contradiction to them ; but had Austria always been 
the champion of their integrity ? 

How was it Cracow had become part of the Austrian 
dominions ? and how did Belgium become a kingdom ? 

Again, what is to become of History, of Progress, if treaties 
a hundred or a thousand years old are to exist for ever? 
There would be an end to all history ! It is positively neces- 
sary to revise them from time to time. All who believe in 
progress and civilisation must join issue with the Emperor of 
the French in this broad question. The only doubt was whether 


he was the proper man to effect this, in the interest of progress 
and civilisation ; and the only question whether he had the 
intention and wish to do it. There is plenty of room for 
both doubt and question. 

Many of the German Cabinets — Nassau, Bavaria, Hanover 
— declared for Austria. They urged the necessity of prohib- 
iting the export of horses, calling attention to the large pur- 
chases already made by France. This measure was ordered 
by the Zollverein on the 5th of March, and enforced on all its 
frontiers, so that it extended to Austria — a fact which charac- 
terises Prussia's position, particularly with regard to her rela- 
tions with Austria. 

Prussia and Austria at that time were rivals in, but not 
for, Germany. Whenever the question of mutual assistance 
arose, little inclination was shown for it by either side. 
Eecriminations were never wanting, and instances were re- 
counted by both where the one had deserted the other in 
time of need. Truly, enough of these may be found if we 
chance to dive into the depths of history for them. 

At a time when war was overhanging the whole of the 
Fatherland, Prussia might easily have put aside old injuries 
received at the hands of Austria, and have induced England 
to join in assisting her. 

It is more than probable that if this coalition had firmly 
opposed the demands made by France, Napoleon would have 
found himself compelled to put off his attack, to say the 
least. The Prussian Government did not take this course — 
the danger did not appear to her either sufficiently near or 
pressing to demand it. She therefore joined England in 
the work of mediation, and once on this course, considered 
it her duty to act according to the strictest notions of neu- 
trality, and avoid giving the slightest expression of opinion 
either for the one side or against the other. One can hardly 
reproach her for this, and this position explains many of her 
actions. A necessary consequence of it was, that Prussia 
regarded the question at issue as being strictly an Italian 
one ; and whenever opportunity allowed, she laid great 
stress upon her position as a member of the German Con- 
federation, the duties of which by no means necessitated an 

MAGENTA, lb59. 297 

interference on her part in a quarrel between France and 
Austria concerning the Italian possessions of the latter. 

These, then, were the views taken by the Prussian Govern- 
ment : though we may not agree with them, we can perfectly 
understand them. 

But though it was very right and proper for the Govern- 
ment, under such circumstances, to avoid any open expression 
of sympathy for Austria, no such obligation existed either for 
the Chambers or the press. Indeed, the Chambers were gen- 
erally reproached for not speaking out plainly for Austria as 
the other German assemblies had done. Their singular answer 
to this was, that an expression of public opinion in the polit- 
ical assembly of a great country like Prussia, was of much 
more importance than it could possibly be in the smaller 
German kingdoms or duchies, and that consequently it was 
necessary to be more cautious. 

This caution, however, proceeded in reality from other 
causes. Fresh hopes in the future are always coupled with a 
fresh accession to power. This was the case with the acces- 
sion of the Prince Eegent ; and to speak the truth, the politi- 
cal atmosphere in Prussia was greatly improved by this event, 
and the subsequent change of ministry. The party leaders 
were of opinion that if they supported the views of Govern- 
ment in the present crisis, instead of opposing them, that it 
would greatly promote their chances of progress in the devel- 
opment of constitutional liberty. This accounts for their 
anxiety on all occasions to avoid causing the slightest embar- 
rassment to the Government. 

The greater portion of the Prussian press opposed the idea 
of assisting Austria at the commencement, unless Austria in 
return agreed to alter her system of government altogether. 
Of course the Concordat met with its share of abuse here. 
Gradually, however, the press appeared to become alive to 
the greater depth of the question, and, with few exceptions, 
changed its ground. This was at the beginning of April. 

On the 11th of April the Emperor of Austria sent the 
Archduke Albrecht, governor-general of Hungary, to Berlin, 
for the purpose of informing the Prussian Government of his 
intention, and of seeing up to what point he might reckon on 


its co-operation. The choice was a proper one. The Arch- 
duke had commanded the leading division of the Austrian 
army at Mortara and No vara in 1849 ; and particularly distin- 
guished himself in the latter action by holding his ground for 
many hours, until Eadetzky had concentrated his whole force. 

The Archduke was received in Berlin with due distinction ; 
but although every politeness was shown to him, it was soon 
evident that any hopes formed on the co-operation of Prussia 
were doomed to disappointment. When the determination to 
which Austria had arrived was communicated to the Govern- 
ment, it expressed its strong disapprobation of such a measure. 
It vaguely admitted the probability of assistance at a later 
period, but only on condition that Austria allowed the work 
of mediation to proceed quietly, without impeding its action 
by " ultimata " and suchlike. It was comprehended in Berlin 
that Austria had become naturally impatient ; but it was 
not considered politic to place the odium of the initiative, 
which in common justice belonged to her adversaries, on her 
own shoulders. 

The general opinion had become prevalent in Austria that 
any procrastination of the decisive step was wrong, that it 
only allowed her enemies further time to complete their pre- 
parations, and that it was expedient, in a military point of view, 
to anticipate them. The Prussian Government did not coincide 
with this view, and was right in not doing so. There could be 
no possible advantage politically in an early invasion of Pied- 
mont. Such was, however, the general opinion at Vienna as 
early as February. The general impatience for action remained 
even now unaltered, although the Archduke Albrecht returned 
from Berlin with the simple promise that Prussia would 
provide for the safety of the Pihenish frontiers. Sanguine of 
the success of his mission, on his arrival it is possible that 
the Archduke attached too much value and importance to 
this promise. 

Meanwhile, days elapsed without any gleam of hope for the 
success of the mediating Powers in the arrangement of the 
differences between the Cabinets of Vienna, Turin, and Paris. 
On the 17th, England, in concert with Prussia, made a fresh 

MAGENTA, 1859. 299 

A general disarmament should take place previous to the 
Congress. This was to be effected by a commission indepen- 
dent of the Congress. The commission was to be confined to 
six members — one from each of the five great Powers, and the 
other from Sardinia. As soon as the commission had com- 
menced its task, the Congress was to meet for the considera- 
tion of the political question. The representatives of the 
Italian States immediately interested were to be admitted to 
the Congress according to the precedent of Laybach. 

Eussia and France agreed to this ; Austria refused, and 
abided by her resolve. 

On the 19th of April, the following communication from 
Count Buol to Count Cavour was despatched from Vienna: — 
" As your Excellency is aware, the Imperial Government 
has willingly consented to the proposition of the Cabinet of 
St Petersburg, according to which a Congress should assemble 
for the purpose of unravelling the complications which have 
ensued in Italy. Convinced of the impossibility of succeeding 
in this object in face of the warlike preparations carried on 
in the adjoining country, we have demanded that the Sar- 
dinian army should be replaced on the peace establishment, 
and the free corps disbanded before it meets. 

" The Government of her Britannic Majesty found this de- 
mand so reasonable and necessary, that it at once coincided 
with it, and agreed, in concert with France, to urge the neces- 
sity of Sardinia's disarming, giving in return a joint guarantee 
against any attack from our side. We need not say that we 
should have respected this guarantee. The Cabinet of Turin 
appears to have resolutely refused to disarm and accept this 
joint guarantee. "We regret this deeply," &c. 

The result of this despatch was at once to destroy all hopes 
of peace. The intervention of England became futile under 
the circumstances, for political questions became henceforth 
secondary, the more important strategic considerations be- 
coming of primary importance. The sword only could now 
decide the question. 

From a purely military point of view, this step on the part 
of Austria was distinctly justifiable. 

At this period the French preparations were by no means 



completed ; only the Algerian troops were ready ; the bat- 
teries were not completed to war strength ; and troops and 
material had to be carried across the ocean and the Alps to 
the theatre of war. 

In point of distance alone, the Austrians had greatly the 
start ; and there was every prospect of destroying the Sar- 
dinian army and occupying Turin before the French could 

The ultimatum, dated Vienna, 19th April, was handed in on 
April 23d, at 5.30 p.m., to Cavour; and the answer, declining 
to comply with the terms, returned to Milan on the 27th. 

Owing to further negotiations, military movement was, 
however, delayed for two days longer, until the 29th — an 
important fact, when every hour was of consequence. 

The imperative demand of Austria should have been fol- 
lowed by immediate action ; and it remains, therefore, to see 
what forces she had at her disposal at this juncture. 

By the end of April five corps had assembled in Italy ; and 
supposing these to have been on a war footing, they should 
have numbered 200,000 men ; but deductions must be made 
for the garrisons in Lombardy, Venetia, the Papal States, and 
a flying column under Urban— in all, 50,000 to 60,000 men. 

The detachments were an evil, and an unnecessary one. 
There was an evident endeavour to maintain political influ- 
ence by the presence of troops in the above localities. Every- 
thing should rather have been subordinated to the success of 
the principal operations; and at least 135,000 men should 
have been ready to enter Piedmont. 

As it was, the so-called 2d Army under Gyulai numbered 
but 99,000 men. Thus, in reality the army was — 

2d Corps 
3d „ 
5th „ 
7th „ 
8th „ 

Sehwarzenberg, . 



reserve, and extra 




In this force the battalions were 800 strong, the brigades 

MAGENTA, 1859. 301 

4000, the squadrons 110 horses each ; and of the whole, 
80,000 were infantry, 5000 cavalry, 6000 artillery and 
engineers, with 264 guns* 

The 9th corps, which was to be available in May on the 
Ticinus, was to be the nucleus of the " 1st Army," and, number- 
ing 21,000 men, was pushed forward to support the 2d Army, 
while the 1st corps moved from Prague on the 22d May. 
These reinforcements would in the course of the operations 
raise the Austrian effective to 140,000 men. 

In the Sardinian force under King Victor Emmanuel, the 
battalions were 600 strong, and the division 10,000 to 11,000 : 
so that, deducting detachments, it numbered 55,648 infantry, 
3984 cavalry, and 2700 artillery, with 90 guns ; in all, 62,232 
men, divided into five divisions — exclusive of artillery, re- 
serve, and cavalry — under Castelborgo, Fanti, Durando, Cial- 
dini, and Cucchiari, Sambuy commanding the cavalry reserves. 
Garibaldi had organised three regiments of volunteers for 
independent partisan movement; and the national guard, 
26,000 strong, defended Turin. 

The French battalions were 550 strong ; the cavalry regi- 
ments had 500 horses; and the divisions varied between 
6000 and 9000. The army, under the supreme command of 
the Emperor Napoleon III., was organised as follows : — ■ 

Guard, . 

Kegnand de St Jean d'Angely 

1st Corps, 

Baraguay d'Hilliers. 

2d „ 


3d „ 


4th „ 


5th „ 

Prince Napoleon. 

The whole numbered 107,656 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, 10,000 
artillery, engineers, &c, with 312 guns. 

Thus, when united, about 187,000 allies could face the 
Austrians, with a marked numerical superiority ; but, on the 
other hand, the Austrians, at first only two marches distant 
from the Sardinians, had a superiority over them singly of 
35,000 soldiers. 

It must have been known to Gyulai that the French could 

* It is elsewhere stated that the Austrians had 350, the Sardinians 108, and 
the French 426 guns. — Ed. 


not interpose with weight for fourteen days, for their army 
was then concentrated at the foot of the Alps at Grenoble, in 
the valley of the Durance, and towards the Mediterranean 

From Lyons to St Jean de Maurienne there was only a 
branch -line, with but scanty means of transport, which 
terminated at the latter place ; and the railway communica- 
tion ceased until Susa, sixty miles distant on the other side 
of the Alps, was reached, and from this point a single line 
led to Turin. Moreover, there were but two roads — by Mont 
Cenis and Mont Genevre — across the mountain barrier ; so 
that the calculation is not difficult to prove that to move from 
the frontier to Casale or Alessandria at least fourteen days 
would be required. 

The same calculation is applicable to the transport of troops 
from Marseilles and Toulon to Genoa, taking the embarkation 
and disembarkation into consideration. Safety and proba- 
bility of success for the Austrian arms could therefore only 
be sought in expedition. 

It had been reported in Milan that the Sardinian forces 
were still not concentrated ; and on the 26th, the day when 
operations should have commenced according to the ulti- 
matum, 12,000 men were in the defiles of the Scrivia, 32,000 
at Casale and Alessandria, thirty miles apart, and 20,000 on 
the Dora Baltea, the latter being further from the head- 
quarters of the army than the Austrians themselves. But by 
the 10th May the 1st division was at San Salvatore — 2d at 
Alessandria — 3d, 4th, and 5th near Casale. 

The French army was still mostly on French soil. It 
had been ordered to start on the 23d April, Susa and Genoa 
being selected as the points for concentration, the cavalry 
marching by Nice and the Col di Tenda. 

The first French troops, the head of the 3d corps, reached 
Chambery on the 25th, Susa on the 29th, and Turin on the 
30th, where the entire corps was concentrated on the 2d May. 
Neil's last columns passed through Susa on the 7th May, and 
moving thence on Alessandria, had pushed forward, by the 
10th, along the Po on each side of Valenza. 

The first arrivals at Genoa by sea landed on the 20th ; and 

MAGENTA, 1859. 303 

by the 29th the whole of the 1st corps was disembarked, and 
was speedily followed by the 2d, Imperial Guard, and 5th 

Communication was opened with the Sardinians by way of 
Novi. On the 10th, the 1st corps occupied Cassano Spinola, 
in the Scrivia valley, with its advanced troops, and the 2d 
corps Gavi, the remainder being echeloned in rear ; while the 
Guard lay between Genoa, Bochetta, and Buzalla, and the 
5th corps at Genoa. On this date, therefore, the Allied 
armies had fairly taken up their ground, and were collected 
in two strong masses near Alessandria and Genoa. 

Meanwhile the Austrian army had at length advanced. 
They had been for some time ready to do so, but had been 
checked by orders from Vienna ; so it was not until the 
afternoon of the 29th, three days after that fixed by the 
ultimatum, that the columns crossed the Ticinus. 

This river, the frontier boundary of Lombardy, had been 
but weakly fortified. Field-works only covered the points of 
passage of the river at Pavia and elsewhere. It was rather 
a source of weakness than of strength to her, for she had con- 
centrated all her energies on the defence of the Mincio and 
Adige ; and thus, leaving her frontier unprotected by fort- 
resses, it became almost a political necessity that she should 
defend it by her armies, even if at a disadvantage, rather than 
surrender it without a blow. 

The theatre of war is practically a vast plain rising grad- 
ually north and south to the Alps and Apennines. In the 
southern half of this runs the Po, a wide and deep river, pass- 
able only at the permanent points of passage, and difficult to 
bridge, owing to the liability of its tributaries to sudden and 
not inconsiderable risings, from the occasionally rapid melting 
of the snow on the lofty mountain-ranges in which they take 
their rise. South of this stream the Apennines close on the 
river near the mouth of the Ticinus, and form the somewhat 
difficult defile of Stradella; and this, the right bank of the Po, 
is drained by the Scrivia, the Tanaro, and Bormida (which 
unite and form one river at Alessandria), tributaries of the 
greater stream. 

The northern plains are drained by the Ticinus, the Sesia, 


and the Dora Baltea, which, taking their rise in the Alps, and 
running, roughly speaking, north and south, are so many bar- 
riers in the way of an advance on the capital of Piedmont 
on this side. 

The country between the Sesia, near the mouth of which is 
the strong fortress and bridge-head of Casale, and the Ticinus, 
is, like the rest of this part of Italy, much intersected by 
rivulets and canals, is densely populated and closely culti- 
vated, has many villages and numerous substantially-built 
farm-buildings, and is well provided with good roads. The 
southern half of this area is called the Lomellina, the northern 
the Novarese ; and it was into this part of Piedmont that the 
first phase of the campaign, that commonly known as " the 
Austrian offensive operations," which terminated on the 1 Oth 
May, took place. 

On the 30th April the army crossed the Terdoppio, and on 
the 1st May the Agogna, small rivulets running into the Po 
between the Ticinus and Sesia. On the 2d May it was 
thus distributed along the Sesia : — 

Headquarters, . 


7th Corps, 

Eobhio and San Angelo. 

5th „ 

Candia and Terrasa. 

2d „ 

Mede and Sartirana. 

3d „ 

Torre di Beretti. 

8th „ 

Pieve del Cairo and Gambarana 

Reserve cavalry, 


The army had marched twenty miles in four days. 

On May 3d, thanks to Canrobert's advice, the Sardinian 
army was concentrated between Casale and Novi. The 
French were advancing from different directions towards both 
flanks, but few had arrived by the 6th of May even, so that 
a well-directed blow by the Austrians against the centre might 
still have been struck, with every hope of its being fatal to the 
enemy's concentration. 

Crossing into the Lomellina was not, however, the only 
line of advance open to the Austrian leader ; for it was at his 
discretion to march either by the north or the south bank of 
the Po. In this instance the courses at his disposal did not 
lead to the same objective. The northern led to the capital 

MAGENTA, 1859. 305 

— the southern, to the military forces and lines of com- 

It will be interesting, therefore, to study the memorandum 
dated 20th April 1859, which examines into the strategical 
situation, and which is entitled the " Scheme of offensive 
operations for the Austrian army, consisting of five corps 
100,000 strong, concentrated on the frontier river Ticinus, 
under command of Count Gyulai, and prepared to move on 
the 26th inst." It is to the following effect : — 

The military situation may shortly be summed up as fol- 
lows : Our enemies in the first line are the Sardinians, in the 
second the French. The Sardinians, 60,000 strong, having been 
somewhat abruptly disturbed in their military preparations 
and plans, have a double object in view ; 1st, to preserve 
intact their capital — 2d, to secure their army from defeat until 
the arrival of the French. 

Probably they will consider that both of these objects are 
not to be attained, and having to select, will possibly prefer 
to sacrifice Turin for a time in the general interests of the war, 
to exposing their army to an unequal contest in its defence, 
which may entail its destruction. 

It is to be expected, therefore, that the Sardinian forces 
will be found concentrating under shelter of their fortresses 
on the strong ground south of the Ticinus, with the further 
purpose of covering the defiles and communications between 
Genoa and Alessandria. 

Should this anticipation not be realised— should the Sar- 
dinians have divided their forces in pursuit of a double objec- 
tive, or should they have preferred to concentrate on the Dora 
Baltea, which river has been recently prepared for defence, 
with a view to cover Turin directly — the problem to be solved 
by the Imperial army will be considerably simplified. 

In either of these cases, assuming the Sardinian army to be 
inferior in numbers as well as in quality, the decisive result 
of early collision would seem still more certain than if the 
remedy for inferiority were sought by enlisting such artificial 
aid as is presented by the permanent fortifications south of 
the Po. 

On the other hand, it may be safely assumed that every 



nerve will be strained by the French to arrive sufficiently early 
on Sardinian soil to support their allies in the impending 
struggle. From information in our hands, the Emperor is 
concentrating his troops in two distinct masses, the smaller of 
which, consisting of two army corps, is preparing to cross 
the Alpine frontier from Grenoble by way of Chambery and 
St Jean de Maurienne, with a view to debouch at Susa, thirty- 
five miles west of Turin. 

The larger portion, consisting of three corps and the Impe- 
rial Guard, is held in readiness to embark from the harbours 
of Toulon and Marseilles in steam transports, destined for 
Genoa. Assuming that our ultimatum will on delivery be 
immediately telegraphed to Paris, it may be calculated that 
the French will move within twenty-four hours from that time ; 
and considering further the character of the communications 
across the Alps on the one hand, and the difficulties attending 
the maritime transport of so large a body of men on the other, 
though the distance does not exceed 300 miles, we may safely 
calculate that the Sardinians, unless they retire upon Genoa 
or Susa, will, during the first six days, be entirely unsup- 
ported, and that in no probable case will our operations be 
exposed to serious danger from the arrival of the French — 
under proper precautions — for a fortnight at least. Assuming, 
therefore, that our correct objective must be sought in the 
Sardinian army and not in the Sardinian capital in the first 
instance, from considerations precisely similar to those which 
influence our adversary, the question is how best to utilise 
the time at our disposal for the purpose in view — the destruc- 
tion of the Sardinian army. 

The choice of objective is not further discussed in this 
memorandum, inasmuch as it is clear that the temporary 
occupation of Turin can present no permanent military advan- 
tage to the Imperial army ; and equally intelligible that, from 
the direction of the principal line of operations of the French, 
from the expected concentration of the Sardinians between 
Alessandria and Casale, and the fact that this last fortress 
secures to them free passage to the north bank of the Po, any 
such operation can only be undertaken at serious risk — a risk 
which is not diminished if we consider the distance which 

MAGENTA, 1859. 3tf? 

already separates our army from its base, and the state of the 
province through which our communications are carried. 

It would seem advisable, therefore, that the advance upon 
the position presumed to be occupied by the enemy, should 
be made by both banks of the Po ; the army operating thus 
a cheval along the river, with a view to secure the passages as 
we proceed, and to enlist the largest possible number of com- 
munications for the rapid transit of our forces towards the 
objective. Thus the 2d corps would cross the Ticinus at 
Vigevano, marching for Mantua and Valenza ; the 3d corps at 
Bereguardo moving by way of Trumello and S. Nazzaro upon 
the same point. The 5th corps crossing at Pavia would 
seize the passage of the Po at Mezzana Corte, marching by 
way of Sale for the same point, but on the south bank of 
the river. 

The 7th and 8th corps echeloned accordingly, would cross 
the Po at Vaccarizza by bridges rapidly thrown in the morn- 
ing for the purpose. Both here and at Mezzana Corte tetcs-de- 
pont of sufficient dimensions would be constructed at once. 

The 7th corps would take the road leading by Broni, 
Casteggio, Voghera, to Tortona. The 8th corps would follow 
the 5th corps in reserve. 

The march of the army on both banks of the river would 
be covered by the light cavalry, pushed well in advance of 
the several lines of march, and maintaining constant communi- 
cation between the columns. The cavalry reserve crossing 
the Ticinus at Boffalora, would occupy Novara and Vercelli, 
covering thus the right flank of the army, and patrolling 
towards the Dora Baltea. Pavia and Piacenza would be 
sufficiently garrisoned, and a detachment from the latter 
fortress would be pushed to the head of the Trebbia valley, 
where it should intrench at once. 

The 2d and 3d corps, as well as the 7th and 8th, should be 
furnished with bridge equipages calculated for the several 
obstacles on their line of march. On the main river, and 
from its tributaries, all boats should be seized, and col- 
lected at such points as the commander of corps may deem 

At Piacenza a siege-train should be held in readiness for 


march, in case it should be required in the course of opera- 

It will be observed that the first objective points, marking 
the earliest phase of operations, are Valenza and Tortona. It 
is deemed essential that the permanent passage at the former 
town should be seized at once, and if the bridge be destroyed 
or impaired, steps taken to restore immediate communication 
with the north bank of the Po. The construction of works 
on the south bank of the river will be commenced at once. 

If the enemy stands here, dispositions for attack should be 
issued to the army. If he prefers to cling to the high grounds 
about Occimiano, the passage of the Ticinus will be effected, 
and the 2d and 3d corps would cross at Valenza to the 
south bank of the Po, the latter leaving one brigade on the 
north bank. Equally important is the possession of Tortona, 
bearing in mind the direction from which our principal 
adversary is approaching. It will be necessary for the 7th 
corps to detach from Tortona one division, in order to occupy 
in strength the defiles leading from Genoa. If possible, Mori 
should be seized and held, and every preparation for obstinate 
defence, in such localities as may seem favourable, be made by 
the engineer officers attached. The commander of this divi- 
sion will be instructed that upon his activity and intelligent 
resolution may depend, in considerable measure, the safety of 
the army. The remainder of the 7th corps will be employed 
to mask the garrison of Alessandria, and to maintain com- 
munication between its other division and the main army. 

It may be expected that Valenza will pass into the hands 
of the Imperial army on the 28th, and Tortona on the 29th. 
On the 30th, or 31st at latest, the army should be concen- 
trated for attack on the Sardinians in a probably intrenched 

If victory be gained, the pursuit of the Sardinian army 
will be undertaken by the 5th and 8th corps, with all avail- 
able cavalry. The 2d and 3d corps would proceed at once 
with the heaviest batteries, furnished from the artillery 
reserve, to assault Casale. 

Unless checked here, the Imperial army will then continue 
its march upon Turin, concentrating, as it approaches the 

MAGENTA, 1859. 309 

capital, upon the north bank of the river, which will now 
protect its entire line of operations. It may be estimated 
that the Imperial army may reach the Sardinian capital about 
May 3d, and further operations would then be dictated by 
circumstances which cannot now be foreseen. 

In case of repulse at Occimiano, the army would retire 
upon Valenza, where the necessary preparations for its retreat 
to the north bank will have been made. The 7th corps would 
fall back along the road by which it advanced, and the army 
generally would take up a defensive position in the Lomellina, 
holding the passages of the Po and Sesia, leaning with its right 
upon Vercelli, which should be strengthened for that purpose. 
The army will draw its supplies during the operation in 
part from Pavia, in part from Piacenza, where large magazines 
will be formed. The principal line of communication will be 
carried along the north bank of the Po to Valenza, where it 
will be protected by the brigade left for that purpose, and by 
the cavalry patrolling from the Sesia. 

It will be perceived that the Imperial army will have to 
rely for success in the event of collision, rather upon its 
superior military qualities than upon any great numerical 

The imperative demands made by considerations for the 
safety of the army necessitate detachments, which will pro- 
bably reduce our fighting means to an equality with those 
which the Sardinians may concentrate in a defensive position, 
provided they operate correctly. At the same time, it is 
considered that in this manner the operation may be conducted 
without risk to the safety of the army ; and recognising the 
extreme importance of such advantages as may possibly be 
gained from the character of the military situation, and from 
the present division of our adversary's forces, the occasion 
seems well deserving of a vigorously sustained effort ; at the 
same time, the extreme necessity of early reinforcements will 
be evident. 

It will be seen from this memorandum that the subject had 
been fully and carefully examined by the Austrian staff, and 
it is difficult to see how they could have finally selected the 
very line the weakness of which they clearly recognised. 


The seizure of Turin, and the repulse of the French arriv- 
ing in detail and disorder from Susa, was the utmost success 
that could be expected from a march along the left bank of 
the Po only. 

But it must be recollected that during its execution the 
French were constantly arriving from Genoa to swell the 
Sardinian ranks at Casale, that therefore each day increased 
the danger which might accrue from that quarter on vital 
posts ; and considering further that France and not Sardinia 
was the principal foe, the entire operation seems faulty in the 
extreme. Clearly the object of the hurried invasion should 
have been the defeat of the Sardinian army. This, as we have 
seen, stood mainly behind the Po and Tanaro. 

The passage at Pavia was in possession of the Austrians, 
but led towards the strongest part of the Sardinian front 
(Pavia-Casale) on the left bank of the Po. 

In order to move by the right bank upon the Tanaro, a 
bridge was necessary at Vaccarizza for passage, and this was 
actually constructed later. No interruption was to be antici- 
pated ; and Piacenza, also at their disposal, was important for 
protecting a possible retreat. 

One corps of 20,000 men would have to be directed via 
Tortona to Novi, to occupy the defiles of the Scrivia and observe 
Alessandria, also checking the French arrival ; while 80,000 
remained to force a passage of the Tanaro, and attack the 
Sardinian army. Doubtless this was no easy undertaking, but 
very far from impossible, and the only one leading to ultimate 
success. In case of victory, the Austrian army stood between 
the divided French to follow up the advantages it had won. 

But the Austrians elected to operate by the left bank, and 
their march was unopposed, the Sardinian headquarters being 
in San Salvatore, and the troops were concentrated in great 
anxiety, utterly unable to comprehend the enemy's delay. 

On the 2d May the Austrians reconnoitred only. First 
shots w r ere exchanged at Candia. The strength and prepara- 
tions of the enemy at Valenza, where the wooden bridge had 
been destroyed, was recognised. 

On May 3d rain commenced, and continued several days, 
causing further delay in movement. Then followed a series 

MAGENTA, 1859. 311 

of half-measures, which terminated eventually in entire in- 

On the 4th May the Po was crossed at Cornale by Bene- 
dek, and the 2d corps also advanced in support, indicating 
that the true point of attack had been discovered, and showing 
an intention of correcting the first error. 

The movements of the other troops were, however, quite 

The 7th corps halted while the 3d demonstrated again to- 
wards Valenza and commenced mining the railway bridge, a 
sure sign that no attack was purposed here ; and the 5th corps 
demonstrated towards Frassinetto, but retired at night. 

Meanwhile objections were raised in the Austrian head- 
quarters as to the prudence of pushing more troops to the 
south bank of the Po, and the difficulties of subsistence and 
transport were urged. 

Prom Cornale to Alessandria or ISTovi was only 20 miles. 
Six days had been frittered away already, but it was yet 
improbable that the French had arrived in force, and re- 
treat upon Piacenza was still perfectly secure. Benedek on 
the 5th pushed one brigade to Voghera and a second to Tor- 
tona, meeting with no opposition. It was clear that the Sar- 
dinians would not leave their position, and that the French 
were not ready. If the Austrians had pushed on to Novi, 10 
miles distant, they would have found it unoccupied. It is 
true that the French had arrived at Genoa on the 4th, but, 
owing to the intelligence received of the Austrian advance 
from Cornale, Baraguay d'Hilliers had halted on the 5th and 
fortified the defiles he held so as to secure the Bochetta road. 
To destroy the rail from Genoa was of great importance ; but 
instead of doing this, the Austrians only destroyed the bridges 
at Tortona and Voghera, and after raising contributions de- 
parted again quite undisturbed by cavalry. Meanwhile the 
Po had risen thirteen feet and carried away the pontoons. 

The expedition only served, by the destruction of the rail- 
way bridge at Tortona, to prove to the Sardinians that no 
attack was purposed against the Tanaro. 

Turin then alone could be the object, and now, indeed, 
movements were commenced in that direction. The army 


was to be carried up the Sesia to Vercelli, while part of the 
8th corps remained in the Lomellina to observe the Po. 

On the evening of the 6th, the bridge at Cornale was re- 
stored and the 8th corps returned. On the 7th, general 
movements were made on Vercelli and Palestro, and were con- 
tinued on the 8th, when Gablenz's brigade of the 7th corps, 
detached to mask Casale, skirmished with the enemy and 
found the works there incomplete. The railway bridge at 
Valenza was blown up the same day. 

Urban was ordered by telegram from Brescia to Piacenza 
and Stradella, to demonstrate between Stradella and Pavia and 
cover the left of the army. He reached Piacenza on the 10th 
May with a weak brigade, and Stradella on the 12th, his out- 
posts being at Broni. 

Meanwhile the Austrian advanced-guard was within two 
marches of Turin and still no enemy was to be found. He 
had made up his mind to the Austrian occupation of the 
capital. But suddenly the movement was suspended on the 
morning of the 9th, for reports had reached headquarters that 
40,000 French had marched from Turin to Alessandria in order 
to move on Piacenza. It was true that the French were now 
arriving, but they were by no means ready for offence ; never- 
theless on the 10th the entire Austrian army returned by 
forced marches to the Lomellina. Two days' rest were given to 
the tired troops, and then the following cantonments were 
occupied : the 7th corps at Palestro, Robbio, and Vercelli ; the 
2d at Albonese ; the 3d at Mortara ; the 5th at Trumello and 
Garlasco, and the 8th at Lomello ; the reserve cavalry and 
artillery at Vespolate and Vigevano, Boer at Vaccarizza, and 
Urban at Casteggio. 

The Austrians here occupied ground between the Sesia and 
Ticinus ; the 7th and 3d corps were on the Sesia, and the 8th 
on the Po ; in rear, the 2d and 5th. Piacenza was left to its 
own garrison and to the 9th corps, which was marching to- 
wards it ; but Urban, alone, was at this time on the south bank, 
and received intelligence of the Emperor's arrival on the 12th 
at Genoa, which was reported immediately to headquarters. 
On the 14th Napoleon reached Alessandria. 

The result of the first phase of the campaign may be thus 

MAGENTA, 1859. 313 

summarised. A hurried invasion was only justified by a rapid 
victory over the Sardinians ; but whilst they were still iso- 
lated, there was no apparent inclination to attack, either in 
front or on the strategic flank, for merely a feigned effort was 
made in each direction, and then the army was hurried off 
to the left. No partial advantages had been gained, and the 
physique and morale of the army had decidedly suffered. 
The result would certainly have been more satisfactory if 
the Austrians had remained on their own territory between 
Piacenza and Pavia, completing their battalions and awaiting 
the arrival of the 1st and 9th corps ; but by invading Pied- 
mont they had gained solely the minor advantage of sub- 
sisting in the enemy's country. 

Doubtless the position so occupied was strong, and so long 
as they held their ground Lombardy was protected from in- 
vasion ; but though it was liable to be attacked, as all posi- 
tions are, on either flank, or to be centrally forced, still two out 
of the three contingencies were here so provided for that these 
operations could only be undertaken at signal risk and dis- 
advantage. Ketreat was secure, for the communications were 
covered, the ground was prepared and favourable, a second line 
of defence was found in the Ticinus, and lastly, subsistence 
was obtained on the enemy's soil, thus husbanding their own 
resources and depriving the enemy of the same. The third 
contingency could only ensue if the invader was willing to 
execute a complicated flank march and to forego every stra- 
tegic advantage. But it was a sine qua non of such a position 
to secure the left flank ; for, if not, the fate of Beaulieu might 
be impending, and, moreover, the communications were on 
that side. 

To do this the line must be stretched, and the right espe- 
cially thinned, with this result, that the front would be too 
extended for timely concentration on the right, which was 
thus liable to be turned, and the more so as Vercelli had been 

Moveover, rivers are admirably adapted to a system of active, 
not passive, defence— though, in order to adopt this, means of 
movement are essentially necessary, and passages across these 
rivers must be secured and held for the purpose; but the 


Austrians held no passages over the Sesia, and but one prin- 
cipal one over the Po. 

If a line of river occupied thus screens the defender, it 
also effectually screens the assailant, and outlets on the 
enemy's bank are imperative. 

One other radical defect of the Lomellina was that it was 
too far from the base of supply, considering the political 
feeling in Lombardy and the consequent constant sense of 

During the period of inaction that followed the retreat, the 
important points in the Lomellina (Mortara, Lomello, Pieve 
del Cairo, S. Nazzaro, Vercelli, Palestro, and Candia) were for- 
tified. The bridges over the Ticinus at Vigevano, Bereguardo, 
Boffalora, and Pavia, were covered by field-works. At Vacca- 
rizza, just below the confluence of the Ticinus with the Po, 
a bridge was thrown across the river ; but it would have been 
well if, in addition to this, passages at Cornale and Mezzana 
Corte had been made. 

Meanwhile the Allies were concentrated in two strong 
masses on each bank of the Tanaro ; the 1st, 2d, and 3d corps 
in Sale, Voghera, and Tortona — the 4th and Sardinians at 
Casale and Valenza, and the Guard at Alessandria — bridges 
being constructed across the Scrivia and Tanaro to facilitate 

On the 1 3th May the Austrians were thus distributed in 
their cantonments : — 

7th Corps, 

, , 

Palestro, Robbio, Vercelli. 

2.1 „ 

Nicorvo, Albonese. 

3.1 „ 

Mortara, Castel d'Agogna. 

6th „ 

, , 

Trumello, Garlasco. 

8th „ 

% , 

Lomello, Torre Beretti, Zinaseo 

Reserve cav 

airy, . 

Vespolate, Gravellona. 

9th Corps, 


Nearing Piacenza, 

On the 18th Vercelli was abandoned, and the railway bridge 
destroyed, the army moving somewhat to its left. 

On the 20th, Gyulai, in order to discover the position of the 
enemy, directed a reconnaissance in force to be made by 
Stadion with one division of the 5th corps, a brigade of the 

MAGENTA, 1859. 315 

8th corps, Urban's brigade, and a brigade of the 9th corps, 
from the bridge of Vaccarizza against the enemy's right. 

This led to the affair of Montebello, after which the Aus- 
trians, 18,000 strong and forty or fifty guns, retired with a 
loss of 1293 men, the French only losing 723 out of the 
8500 men that Eorey brought into action. The action was 
singularly resultless to Gyulai if its object were to oblige the 
enemy to display his force. As a matter of fact, the limit of 
the Austrian advance was the Fossagazzo, on which only the 
outlying pickets were stationed, and therefore they never got 
within four miles of the extremity of the actual position occu- 
pied by the Allies at Voghera. The purpose of the reconnais- 
sance was not in the least answered ; and only mistakes and 
false impressions resulted from an attempt made with far too 
weak a force, and carried out in so hopeless and dispiriting 
a manner. 

His adversary was not slow to take advantage of the erro- 
neous conclusion at which Gyulai was arriving. Further to 
strengthen it, a forward movement of the French was made 
towards Voghera, and even Casteggio, directly after the action ; 
but in order to secure the line of the Sesia for future use, 
Cialdini was directed on Vercelli, where he crossed the river, 
Castelborgo moving on Candia and Durando on Prarolo, so as 
to demonstrate and withdraw the attention of the Austrians 
from Vercelli. On the 23d, owing to a rising of the river and 
the consequent fear of isolation, Cialdini withdrew again to 
the right bank. 

On this date the French forces were stationed as follows : — 

5th Corps (1st Division), 

1st Corps, 

2d „ . 

3d „ . . . 

4th Corps and Guard, . 


Montebello and Casteggio. 


Ponte Curone. 

San Salvatore, Alessandria, &c. 

Garibaldi had also been employed to still further distract 
the attention of Gyulai, and moving from Biella on the 17th, 
crossed the Sesia at Eomagnano on the 2 2d, and the Ticinus 
at Sesto Calende on the 23d. At Varese, on the 26th, which 
he reached in two days, he defeated the small force Urban had 
sent against him, and again at Como on the 27th ; but Urban 


Laving turned towards him with all his force, he retreated in 
the direction of Laveno on the Lago Maggiore. An attempt to 
assault this failed, but he was only released from his dan- 
gerous situation by the unexpected retreat of Urban's column. 

The bulk of the Austrian army had remained inactive in 
the Lomellina, but the constant countermarching and pur- 
poseless movement of the troops had given them no rest. 
Notwithstanding all this, there was no information whatever 
as to the true position and plans of the enemy. Spies were 
not procurable, the river barriers were difficult to pass, and 
armed reconnaissance had failed. But the concentration on 
the French right and the demonstrations along the entire line, 
had done their work. All that he had seen or could discover 
confirmed Gyulai in his impression that the coming blow 
would be aimed at his left flank. 

Having produced this impression, the Emperor proceeded 
to put into execution the plan for which he had been long 
preparing, — that of making a flank march from right to left 
under cover of the Po and Sesia, and turning the Austrian 
right on the Novara-Milan road. 

The reasons that led to this conclusion require careful 
study. The left flank was, from a strategical point of view, 
that which, if turned, would place the Allies in the best posi- 
tion for threatening and securing the Austrian main line of 
communication, and flank marches in the presence of the 
enemy are always viewed with suspicion ; but the question 
still remains, whether in war, as in whist, the true master may 
not under given circumstances violate the ordinary rules, not 
only with impunity, but with the greatest possible results to 
the successful issue of his operations. 

It will be universally admitted that, after having completed 
his concentration at Alessandria comparatively undisturbed, 
the French Emperor stood committed to offensive operations. 
In criticising these operations, everything then becomes rela- 
tive to the nature and advantages of the position selected by 
the defence. 

Assuming the peculiarities of that position to be known, 
it is evident that three distinct lines were available for the 
invading army : — 

MAGENTA, 1859. 317 

1. To turn the Austrian left, and at the same time the line 
of the Ticinus, by bridging the Po below the mouth of the 
former river, thus entering Lombardy, the objective, directly 
at or near that point. 

2. To force the passage of the Po between the Sesia and the 
Ticinus (or that of the Lower Sesia only by making use of 
Casale) in the very teeth of the defending army, thus attack- 
ing the centre of the position, with a view then to operate 
along the northern bank of that river. 

3. To turn the extreme right of the Austrian position by 
crossing the Po at Casale and the Sesia at Vercelli, necessi- 
tating the execution of a flank march in the continuation of 
the Allied left. 

The strategical merits of the defensive position adopted by 
the Austrians is sufficiently attested by the obvious difficulties 
attending the execution of each of these courses of action — the 
problem therefore to be solved was, the selection of that which 
involved the smallest danger of failure, and which in case of 
success gave promise of the most decisive results. 

It will be well to consider in a few words each in its turn. 

1. The Austrian left rested on the first-class fortress of 
Piacenza, which of course commands the passage of the Po, 
and the defile of Stradella on the southern bank of that river. 
It was strongly garrisoned and prepared for defence : from it 
a capital road leads to Pavia, distant one good day's march, 
which in its turn commands the passage and mouth of the 
Ticinus. An invading army, therefore, adopting this line, 
would have first to carry the defile of Stradella, strongly in- 
trenched and possessing great capabilities of defence, in order 
to invest Piacenza from the south ; then to select a point in 
the narrow limits between Pavia and Piacenza, every yard of 
which was closely watched, for the construction of its bridge 
across the Po ; and this effected, it would debouch into the 
plains of Lombardy between the two strongholds already 

But this point, leading directly, as it does, from the French 
position into Lombardy, was most narrowly guarded by the 
Austrian commander, who had not hesitated to weaken Ins 
right for that purpose. Is it then surprising that the French 


Emperor should have declined the attempt to crack a nut to 
all appearance so hard ? 

2. With regard to the passage of first-class rivers imme- 
diately in face of a powerful army drawn up for their defence, 
and that within a limited area (here marked by the Sesia and 
Ticinus), that subject has been so fully dealt with by General 
Clausewitz* that the reader cannot do better than refer to 
his remarks on the subject, bearing in mind, however, that the 
general character of the Lomellina is extremely unfavourable 
to rapid offensive operations, that the ground had been pre- 
pared for defence by all imaginable means, and that not less 
than four Austrian army corps were so echeloned upon the Po 
between the two above-mentioned tributaries, that they could 
be easily concentrated at any one point within a few hours, 
in far superior numbers to that of any French force it was 
possible to throw across within the same time. 

If, then, the argument adduced carries with it sufficient 
weight, it appears self-evident that the Emperor was compelled, 
by the very nature of the circumstances by which he was sur- 
rounded, to rivet his attention upon Casale as the one point by 
which to effect the passage of the main river : that point, we 
need not say, he already held in his hands. This admitted, the 
question then arose, " Should the passage of the Lower Sesia 
be forced, and the operation parallel to and supported by the 
Po, already alluded to, be attempted ? or should he (the Em- 
peror), adopting a bolder strategy, utilise the various circum- 
stances and chances which all seemed to point in the same 
direction — circumstances which rendered risks theoretically 
great practically small, promising results in a ratio precisely 
proportionate to the theoretical risk, and calculated to stamp 
the character of his operations with the brand of military 
genius peculiar to his family ? " 

It appears that, in the first instance, there was some inclina- 
tion on the part of the Erench to adopt the safer and more 
ordinary of the two courses above named. The King of Sar- 
dinia received orders to attempt the passage of the Sesia near 
its mouth. The character of that portion of the river, however, 
and of its left bank especially (the attempt had been foreseen 

* Clausowitz, Camp. 1796 (Italy), pp. 69-72. 

MAGENTA, 1859. 319 

by the Austrians), rendered the operation so difficult that after 
the first failure it was abandoned ; — this the more readily, as, 
in point of fact, the line along the northern bank of the Po 
was not calculated, even with success, to offer decisive results. 
The Austrians might fight on ground of their own choosing, 
or retire ; in either case their retreat (in case of defeat) was 
perfectly secure to the Ticinus — which river, from the first 
regarded as the principal line for the defence of Lombardy, 
had been prepared accordingly. The evacuation, then, of the 
Lomellina by the Austrians, would have formed the sole result 
of the course alluded to, if successful, and would have termin- 
ated the first phase of the operations of the campaign. Here, 
then, we arrive at the operation selected and executed by the 
French, which has afforded ground for so much criticism, and 
which contains the real point at issue. 

3. The Austrian right, after the evacuation of Vercelli 
(where the bridge connecting both banks of the Sesia had 
been destroyed), rested upon Palestro and the high ground 
contiguous to that viliage. 

In order to turn it with effect, it would be necessary to 
move the whole of the French army * unknown to the enemy 
from right (Voghera) to left (Vercelli), with a view then to 
concentrate at Xovara in rear of the Austrian position. This 
implies, as stated above, the execution of a flank march. 

Before proceeding to consider the peculiarities of this much- 
dreaded operation, the probable advantages accruing to the 
French, when once safely massed upon the heights of Novara, 
must be clearly defined. 

It has been already stated that after Gyulai had lost the initi- 
ative, Napoleon was necessarily committed to offensive opera- 
tions — a general engagement the primary, the occupation of 
Milan his secondary, objective. Indeed, superior in numbers as 
in the marchmg and manoeuvring powers of his veteran troops, 
under experienced leaders, on ground every step of which 
recorded the victorious exploits of a preceding generation, the 
Emperor found every reason to seek a general action, none to 
avoid one, provided he could find a fair field and sufficient 
time and space to develop his forces. 

* Tin' Sardinia]] army was already north of the 1'". 


Such a field, denied elsewhere, the position of Novara pre- 

With the material advantages of ground admirably adapted 
for a defensive-offensive action, it united the moral effects of 
strategical victory ; — within one easy march, too, of the Ticinus, 
supposed to be entirely undefended on its upper course, it 
offered prospects, almost amounting to certainty, of the unop- 
posed passage of that river — always a dangerous obstacle to a 
French advance into Lombardy. 

It was hardly, however, to be expected that the Austrians 
would have left the door to such advantages open and un- 
guarded, had not the danger of passing through it appeared lo 
them so extravagantly great that no general in his senses 
would make the attempt. This danger consisted in the exe- 
cution of the flank march already mentioned, which, if safely 
effected, would land the French in a position where they ex- 
posed themselves to the chances of a general action, backed 
upon the Swiss Alps, with no line of retreat in case of defeat, 
and, as a natural consequence, with exposed communications. 

Well can it be understood how " Theory " would stand aghast 
at such a conception ! — how the Austrian staff at once dis- 
missed such an eventuality from their calculations ! And yet, 
examined in detail, the grave objections justly urged against 
similar risks in war, fall in this instance harmlessly to the 
ground. For, with proper dispositions, the march from Voghera 
to Novara presented no extraordinary dangers, and the selec- 
tion of Novara as a battle-field was a bold and genial com- 
bination which enlisted every advantage on the side of the 
French, and virtually necessitated the Austrian retreat behind 
the Ticinus. 

Now, in order to understand the real state of affairs immedi- 
ately subsequent to the battle of Montebello, it must be borne 
in mind that the French were possessed of certain substantial 
advantages, well calculated to counterbalance the difficulties 
attending offensive operations in the face of a strong and in 
many respects well-selected defensive position. 

As usual in wars of independence, they obtained constant 
and reliable intelligence of all that was passing in the Austrian 
camp ; they possessed a numerical superiority — 50,000 men, 

MAGENTA, 1859. 321 

at least ; and, from the very nature of their own position and 
of that selected by the Austrians, were freed from the slightest 
apprehension of counter-attack. 

A glance at the map, too, will convince the reader that, 
posted within the rayon of the group of fortresses centring 
at Alessandria, — veiled by the broad barrier of the Po and its 
principal southern tributaries, as well as by the intersected 
character of the country — the most ordinary precautions were 
all that the French required, with the ample means of com- 
munication at their disposal, in order to mass their divisions 
rapidly and unobserved at Casale and its vicinity. The dif- 
ficulty and danger of the flank march was thus virtually 
reduced to the thirty miles of road which intervene between 
Casale and Novara. 

Riistow says, and with great truth, that the proverbial 
danger of these marches vanishes before good disposi- 
tions and proper precautions — any danger attending them 
can only exist pending their execution, and is therefore 
diminished or increased according to the distance to be ac- 
complished. Once completed, it stands to reason the advan- 
tages to be gained from them should be great ; why else 
incur risk for negative results ? Executed from a more or 
less parallel position to that of the enemy, the very name 
implies the direction to which they lead — the flank, perhaps 
rear, of the enemy's line. 

In the present case it is obvious that on the north bank 
of the Po the whole movement assumed a more difficult and 
delicate character. The Sesia, indeed, partially covered the 
early portion of the march, but the latter half would be en- 
tirely unprotected without special dispositions. 

Here then lies the key to the operations of the Sardinians, 
supported by the 3d Zouaves, and by Canrobert's army corps. 
Upon the importance attached to the strength, position, and 
use of this army by the French commander, the whole question 
of the safety, success, and soundness of his manoeuvre hinged. 

Notoriously on the 31st of May the King of Sardinia 
established himself firmly at Palestro, Confienza, &c, pushing 
his van well forward on the road to Robbio and Mortara, and 
feeling with his left for the French, who, on the following 



clay (June 1st) were drawn up in order of battle, 90,000 
strong, facing south, in the formidable position of No vara, 
This concentration completed the flank march, the latter por- 
tion of which had been executed, as will be seen, without the 
slightest interruption, during the two days on which the Sar- 
dinians were engaged in carrying and defending the heights 
of Palestro, with the double object of covering and concealing 
the French march, and of afterwards flanking any possible 
attack on the part of the Austrians upon Novara. 

It may well be asserted then, that, for clearness of design, 
forethought of detail, and well-ordered accuracy of execution, 
this operation may justly be classed with the strategy initiated 
by the first Napoleon. Less complete in its results, because 
commenced under different auspices, it still breathes the spirit 
of the manoeuvre which entailed Mack's disaster at Ulm. It 
has always appeared that here, as then, retreat was the one 
course dictated to the Austrian general by every consideration 
proceeding from an intelligent appreciation of his altered 
position. It may be added too, as a humble and valueless 
tribute to his unfortunate career, that nothing could surpass 
the brilliant conception which directed the oblique converging 
movement on Magenta, by which the advantages of numbers 
and position, lost in the Lomellina to the hardy ability of his 
adversary, might, with ordinary execution, so speedily have 
been re-enlisted in his favour. 

To these opinions, expressed with the force of conviction, 
but presented with great deference to superior authority, 
strong objections will be raised. It is affirmed by more than 
one historian of the campaign, and by men of experience 
and marked ability, that in rashly posting himself at Novara, 
Napoleon exposed his communication with his base, and his 
army to entire ruin in defeat. 

This naturally implies that the course acted upon by Gyulai 
was false ; that, giving him credit for the smallest amount of 
military talent, he should at once have availed himself of the 
faults of his adversary, either by fighting at Novara in order 
to repeat the decisive victory of 1849, or by operating on the 
exposed communications of the French between Vercelli and 
Casale, in order to force the Emperor to retrace his steps. 

MAGENTA, 1859. 323 

Study each of these proposed alternatives. Gyulai first 
received intimation of the French advance upon Novara 
on the night from May 31 to June 1. At that time he held 
21 brigades, in round numbers, 100,000 men, at his disposal 
between the Sesia and the Ticinus ; the whole of this force 
might be concentrated at Mortara by the following evening — 
June 1. The other Austrian army corps at Piacenza, Pavia, 
and Magenta could not be made available, for well-known 

On the evening of the same day (June 1), Niel (4th corps), 
Macmahon (2d), and the Imperial Guard were already massed 
at Novara, 90,000 strong ; the 1st corps was at Vercelli and 
Lomelungo ; the 3d (Canrobert), with the whole Sardinian 
army, except the 5th division left on the south bank of the 
Po, at and in advance of Palestro. 

Glancing at the map it will be perceived that from Mor- 
tara an excellent road leads due north to Novara ; parallel 
to it and immediately adjacent is the railway ; in an opposite 
direction the continuation of the same road leads to Pavia, 
and formed the natural line of retreat to an Austrian army 
concentrated at Mortara, with its line of communications to 
the Quadrilateral organised along the north bank of the Po. 

In the north-west the chaitsde, runs through Robbio and 
Palestro to Vercelli, and a highroad crossing obliquely con- 
nects Vigevano on the Ticinus with Candia and Casale. 

Gyulai, then, having concentrated 100,000 men at Mortara 
on the evening of June 1, might advance on the following 
morning at daybreak to attack the French at Novara. Leav- 
ing Zobel with 20,000 men at Eobbio to observe the Sar- 
dinians, he could march 80,000 strong in two heavy columns 
to Bicocca, where, in about four or five hours, he would touch 
the French outposts. 

Considering, as has been already stated, that 90,000 French 
were at this time already drawn up here in order of battle, 
that the position of Novara is by no means to be despised 
(attested by the recurrence of battles there), and that Baraguay 
d'Hilliers was moving up from Vercelli and Lomelungo in 
support, it must be admitted that no small amouut of con- 
fidence in himsolf and his army would have boon required 


for any general to have risked the chances of a general action 
under circumstances so unfavourable. 

If, then, the first step northwards on the part of the Aus- 
trians from Mortara would infallibly have entailed a corre- 
sponding movement upon that town by Victor Emmanuel 
and Canrobert ; if the disparity of force necessarily left for 
its defence, and the parity of space on both advances be 
borne in mind ; if, lastly, it be remembered that this same 
town lies immediately on the sole line of retreat open to the 
Austrians fighting unequally at Novara, — it will be readily 
conceded that nothing could justify an attempt so hazardous 
for the sake of any results, however great, which might ac- 
crue from a most improbable victory. 

It has always seemed that critics, in denouncing the flank 
march, have more or less lost sight of the obvious importance 
of the occupation of Palestro in such formidable strength. 
Thus it is difficult to understand the extent to which it is 
stated that the French communications were exposed. Is it 
for one moment supposed that, during the eight days ending 
June 1, no forethought had been expended upon the provi- 
sion of ammunition and supplies for the utmost requirements 
of 150,000 men during a possible succession of engagements ? 
With two lines of railway converging from Genoa by Ales- 
sandria and Casale, and from Alessandria by Asti and Turin 
upon Vercelli, the one direct, the other circuitous, is it pos- 
sible for an instant to admit that the advantage of that town 
as a place d'armes had been lost sight of? There need be 
no hesitation in expressing the conviction that from the com- 
pletion of the flank march all future operations were to be 
based upon Vercelli, and that any blow aimed south of that 
point by the Austrians would have struck nothing but air. 
At the same time, a direct advance upon that town would 
have exposed Gyulai to eventualities precisely similar to those 
described above. 

But there are still other objections to such a course based 
upon broader grounds. 

It must be recollected that in this war, the object of which 
was to free Italy from the Alps to the Adriatic, Lombardy 
could only be considered by Austria as an outlying province, 

MAGENTA, 1859. 325 

to be retained if possible — if not, to be abandoned, in order to 
fall back upon the Mincio, there to defend the Quadrilateral 
and her Venetian territories (to which she attached so much 
importance) a outrance. How, then, could Gyulai operate 
in a direction which would increase the distance from his 
base, and which would allow his adversary to interpose his 
army between him and the Ticinus, thus forcing him to fight 
a second Marengo for existence ? 

It is this consideration which doubtless explains the nervous 
anxiety for his communications displayed by the Austrian 
commander at an earlier stage of the campaign — a timidity 
well calculated to enlighten his adversary as to his resources 
and instructions, and to add vigour and boldness to his offen- 
sive operations. 

Again, the pages of military history teem with parallel 
cases. Everywhere can be found (the crisis once attained) the 
one army dictating imperiously to the other ; not unfrequently, 
indeed, with its own communications exposed. 

Could the connection of an army with its base be more 
neglected than that of Buonaparte in 1796 on this very theatre 
— notably in his dashing march through the defile of Stra- 
della, in order to seize Piacenza, and there gain the passage of 
the Po? Why then did Beaulieu, instead of crossing from 
Pavia in order to seize the much-coveted prize, and indem- 
nify himself for previous defeats, retire breathless to Lodi ? 
Why — to illustrate the proposition still more appropriately— 
why did Chrzanowsky, marching upon Milan in 1849, sud- 
denly halt and retrace his steps on hearing that Kadetzky had 
entered Piedmont ? 

Well may Clausewitz remark upon this subject, "Where 
will argument find an end, if it be unfairly allowed always to 
fall back upon a similarity of circumstances, without taking 
the trouble to inquire where the deciding inlluence really 
exists ? " That influence, asserting itself with unerring accu- 
racy, is sometimes contained in superior numbers, sometimes 
in superior morale, occasionally in the individuality of a 
commander ; everywhere the instinct of inferiority may be 
trusted, and it seldom occurs that a general following it can 
be justly blamed for pusillanimity or excess of caution. 



Whatever view may be taken of the plan, it was finally 
decided on, and the Emperor visited Vercelli on the 26th 
May, orders for the march being issued on the 27th. 

It was his intention to mask it by posting the Sardinians 
and 3d French corps at Robbio. 

Canrobert led the advance on the 27th by rail to Casale, 
and demonstrations were made along the Po and Sesia, which 
were carefully patrolled. 

Small reconnoitring parties pushed forward towards Strad- 
ella and Vaccarizza found the enen^ still motionless, and 
Macmahon made a feint of throwing a bridge over the Po at 
Cervesina. The passages at Vercelli were improved by the 
construction of three bridges. 

On the 28th the general movement was continued. 

Sardinians (less Cucchiari), 

at Vercelli. 

3d corps, .... 


Guard, .... 


4th corps, 


2d „ ... 


1st „ ... 

Ponte Curone, with outposts 

along the Po. 

D'Autemarre and Sardinian cavalry, 

Voghera, Casteggio, Monte- 


On the 29th- 

3d and 4th corps and Guard, 


2d corps, . 


1st „ . 


D'Autemarre, &c, 


The Sardinians were directed to cross the Sesia at Vercelli, 
the Guard moving on Trino. These movements brought on 
actions at Palestro on the 30th and 31st. 

On the 30th, the 1st, 2d, and 3d Sardinian divisions 
crossed at Vercelli, and moved on Palestro, Vinzaglio, and 
Confienza. The 3d French corps from Casale marched on 
Prarolo to support their allies, and threw bridges across the 
Sesia. The 4th corps, followed by the 2d corps and Guard, 
reached Vercelli with their advance. The result of this day's 
fighting was to drive back the Austrian outposts of the 7th 

MAGENTA, 1859. 327 

On the 31st, Canrobert commenced crossing, and joined in 
the small affair produced by an attempt on the part of Zobel 
to retake Palestro. The 3d corps reached Palestro, the 4th 
was between Borgo, Vercelli, and Novara ; the 2d at Borgo, Ver- 
celli, and Cameriano ; the Guard at Vercelli, and the 1st corps 
at Casale by the close of the day, during which, moreover, 
demonstrations had been made by the 1 st corps at Valenza. 

On the 1st June the positions were as follows : — 

4th corps in front of Novara. 
2d corps on its left. 
Imperial Guard in Novara. 

1st corps, D'Autemarre and Sardinian cavalry at Vercelli, cavalry de- 
tachments being pushed forward to Trecate, Galliate, and Vespolate. 

On the 2d June, the 4th, 2d, and Guard corps were still 
near Novara, Espiuasse's division being at Trecate, and 
Camou's at Turbigo. The 1st corps reached Lumellogno. 

The concentration towards the left was now virtually con- 
cluded, and, as may be seen, consists of two distinct move- 
ments : — 

1. The transfer from the Po to the Sesia ; 

2. The march on Novara. 

The advance from the latter place was dependent on subse- 
quent circumstances ; but the success of the plan so far was 
due to wise arrangement of the original dispositions. 

The 3d corps being on the railway between Voghera and 
Casale, was in a position to be moved secretly and rapidly 
behind the screen offered by the 1st and 2d ; and on the 29th, 
the entire corps was at Casale with the four Sardinian divi- 
sions at Vercelli, with bridges constructed. 

Gyulai had not moved a man, and it was practically im- 
possible for the Austrians now to contest the passage of the 

The problem had all along been how to invade Lombardy 
with the least possible risk. Of the three doors by which such 
an invasion could be attempted, two were closed, and one, 
that which led circuitously into Lombardy, but direct upon 
the capital, was alone open. Doubtless to enter by this placed 
the French army relatively in a worse strategic position, inas- 
much as, if victorious, the enemy would be defeated, not 


ruined ; while if they themselves were repulsed, they would be 
in a position of grave danger. 

But what were the relative chances of defeat or victory ? 
These were but dependent on certain easily understood data : — 

1. Numerical force of the assailant. 

2. The character and marching-power of the force. 

3. The complete development of the force. 

4. The position it would eventually occupy. 

5. The secrecy of the combination. 

6. Rapidity and skill in execution. 

The closed doors, on the other hand, were certainly capable 
of being forced, though at great sacrifice and tactical risk ; but 
if merely defeated, the results to the beaten army would be 
less disastrous than if the only open passage were chosen. 

Hence it is that most critics, starting from the danger of 
the flank march, unhesitatingly condemn it ; but the operation 
should not, as has been argued, always be viewed from results. 
It would be dangerous from beginning to end in face of a 
competent adversary, and while the communications would 
be exposed, there was no other secure line of retreat. 

Better, say they, to fight at a disadvantage where defeat is 
not ruin, than to fight at advantage, even with every chance 
of success, where decisive defeat would entail ruin. 

The question must always be an open one, for it is depen- 
dent on the character of the commander and commanded. 

The move from Vercelli on Novara has been much criticised, 
and it has been suggested that Mortara should have been the 
true point of further concentration, as leading to the heart of 
the Austrian position, and further covering both lines to 
Turin by Casale and Vercelli (' Operations of War/ p. 242). 

Such a movement would have brought them into contact 
with the bulk of the Austrian force ; for, according to the 
Prussian account, Gyulai, on the 1st June, had 26,000 men 
at Robbio, 38,000 at Mortara, 32,000 at Lomello, and 10,000 at 
Vaccarizza — so that it would have been possible to concentrate 
90,000 men at Mortara, either to meet this attack, or make a 
counter-stroke against Palestro. 

But viewing matters as they stood on this date, the 2d 
June, both skill and rapidity in execution had been displayed 

MAGENTA, 1859. 329 

by the Allies, and great judgment had been shown at the 
headquarters in organising the movement, whereby no opening 
for a dangerous counter-stroke had as yet been afforded to the 
Austrian generals. The question, however, arises, What had 
been gained by the combination with reference either to tac- 
tical or strategic advantage ? 

It may be answered thus : 1st, That the enemy's prepara- 
tions and expectations had been thwarted. He was called 
upon to act without being able to deliberate. A battle, if 
fought, would be engaged under circumstances which enlisted 
every chance in favour of the French, on the highroad to 
and close to Lombardy, where the attitude of the people was 
such as to render Gyulai already anxious for his commu- 

Meanwhile, what had Gyulai done? Declining to comply 
with Zobel's rash proposition to attack Novara with three 
corps, he prepared to concentrate in retreat at Abbiate Grasso, 
proposing to take his adversary in flank should he march on 
Milan, at a moment when he would be involved in crossing 
the Ticinus and canal. 

The movement was commenced on June 2d, under cover 
of the reserve cavalry and 3d corps ; the 2d and 7th corps 
marched from Eobbio to Vigevano, the 5th from S. Nazzaro 
to Garlasco, and the 8th from Lomello to Trumello. These 
marches were very severe, for the detachments now marched 
in twent}'-four hours the distance accomplished before in four 
days, while the transport of train and wounded increased the 

A part of the 9th corps was moving on Pavia. The 1st 
corps had been directed on Piacenza, owing to Garibaldi ; but 
this was afterwards altered, and on the 1st June Gordon's 
subdivison was at Magenta, with the other still at Milan. 

The Emperor reconnoitred in person on the 2d June ; and 
then, as soon as the 1st corps had reached Lumellogno, or- 
dered a division of the 2d corps to Trecate and San Mar- 
tino, while Camou marched to Turbigo with the artillery 
and bridge equipments. He proposed to effect the passage 
of the Ticinus before the enemy was in sufficient force 
to defend it. 


Camou arrived at 4 p.m., and effected a lodgment ; and by 
7.30 the bridge was finished, and covered by twenty-four 
guns, works being thrown up at once on the left bank. At 
2 a.m. Turbigo was seized, and a passage over the canal 

The bulk of the French were still in position at Olengo 
with the Sardinians at Palestro. The retreat of the Austrians 
was not molested, or even closely observed. 

On the 3d June, Espinasse, on the point of attacking the 
tete-de-jJont at San Martino, found it abandoned, and occu- 
pied it, to find the bridge only in part destroyed ; whereupon, 
being relieved by the Guard, he marched to join La Motterouge 
at Turbigo. 

Gordon retired to Magenta. 

The French were uncertain concerning the Austrian inten- 
tions, and Mel was therefore ordered to reconnoitre towards 
Mortara ; but he discovered at Vespolate that the Austrian 
3d corps had left for Vigevano. This movement indicated 
a concentration of the enemy on the left bank ; but the posi- 
tion at Novara was maintained on the 3d to cover the passage 
at Turbigo, for which purpose, therefore, the Sardinians and 
Canrobert were now called in. 

The 3d corps arrived at 8 p.m. at Novara, and the two 
Sardinian divisions joined the 1st corps at Lumellogno, two 
other Sardinian divisions being pushed on towards Turbigo, 
where they arrived the following morning. On the night of 
the 3d the mass of the Allied army was assembled between the 
Agogna and the Ticinus in a depth of about four miles ; but 
three divisions only had crossed the river. 

If the Austrians attacked on the right bank, the French 
would be called upon to fight with a half-inverted front, and 
all their communications on their flauk. All strategic cir- 
cumstances were in favour of the Austrians, but tactical suc- 
cess was hopeless under the circumstances ; and this con- 
sideration was final. They could not fight until the enemy 
had lost his superiority by division of force ; and this only 
was to be expected in the passage of the existing obstacles, 
particularly the rivers, which for this reason were their true 
lines of defence. 

M AGENT A, 1859. 3;>1 

The fact, therefore, that the Austrians retired from an 
tmequal contest is the best justification of the French opera- 
tions. In thus retiring, the Austrians resumed the ground 
they held prior to the declaration of war, only in a much less 
advantageous position. In the first instance, they might have 
completed their preparations, and been concentrated on two 
rivers ; but now they were scattered from Piacenza to Varese, 
and the morale of the army had been sensibly impaired. 

General Hess arrived at Gyulai's headquarters at Bereguardo 
on the 3d ; and six hours' delay insured orders being sent to 
the troops at Vigevano and Garlasco to halt. 

The possibility of concentration on the right bank was 
reconsidered, but abandoned on the arrival of Clam's report. 
He was now at Magenta with 13,000 men, having evacuated 
San Martino on the 2d and 3d, but failed to destroy the 
bridge owing to insufficiency of powder. The position of 
the 1st corps was consequently endangered with the French 
in possession of the passage at Turbigo, and continued retreat, 
therefore, became indispensable. 

The original plan to place three corps in front line, and two 
in second parallel to Milan road, was disturbed by Clam's 
danger, and support was instantly necessary. 

The 2d corps and 1st division of the 7th were hence 
ordered to Magenta, together with reserve cavalry, the head- 
quarters being moved to Eosate and Bereguardo. 

The 2d, 7th, and 3d corps moved on Vigevano, the 5th and 
8th on Bereguardo. On the night from the 3d to the 4th 
June, therefore, the Austrian position was as follows : — 
Round Magenta, 41,000 men, consisting of 2d corps, Gordon, 
Reischach, and reserve cavalry ; at Abbiate Grasso, 27,000, 
consisting of 3d corps and Lilia ; below Falla Yecchia, 5th 
and 8th corps, 47,000 ; below Pavia, 9th corps, 21,000 ; at 
Varese, Urban with 11,000 ; and at Milan, Montennovo with 
13,000 men. 

Disregarding detachments, there were 115,000 troops be- 
tween Magenta and Bereguardo, a good march of eighteen 
miles in extent, so that concentration was only feasible 
towards the centre by mid-day, and nowhere else. No cook- 
ing had been permitted during the halt ; and the only result 


of this was, that more time had been lost, with additional 
distress to the men. The six hours of delay on the 3d were 
of evident importance. 

A day of rest was hence deemed necessary, considering the 
long marches the troops had undergone, and orders were 
issued for such to be observed on the 4th June. In reality, 
not much was lost by this, as the French could not well 
march on Milan without first attacking the Austrians, who 
would meanwhile have time to concentrate. 

But one thing was indispensable, not to allow Clam then 
to accept action. The position of Magenta must be vacated. 
If this were not desirable, then the rest day was impossible 
and unwise. 

If in spite of this the battle of Magenta was fought on the 
4th, it was because the situation was not clearly appreciated 
by Gyulai, and because he allowed himself to be drawn into 
a general action in consequence of his first error in supporting 
Clam with insufficient resources at hand. 

The Emperor, however, expected it as little as the Austrians 
on this day. After the evacuation of San Martino, he did not 
expect to find 40,000 Austrians behind the canal ; nor was 
he aware of Clam's timely arrival. The following dispositions 
for the 4th were hence made : Mellinet to Boffalora, to unite 
with Camou ; 2d corps on Magenta (left of the army) ; 3d 
corps on San Martino ; 4th on Trecate (facing south) ; 1st at 
Olengo ; and the Sardinians in reserve at Galliate. 

Bridges were thrown across the Ticinus ; and thus the posi- 
tion now held was a clieval the river, with three-fourths of the 
army on the right bank, but concentrated for a passage on the 
5th. The gravest inconvenience of the position was the 
crowding of troops on one road ; and while they were exe- 
cuting these orders, the clearest information was given that 
Gyulai had definitely abandoned the right bank, and was 
marching for Magenta. 

The Emperor then decided to push forward at the points of 
passage, and the alteration explains the subsequent confusion 
of troops. Meanwhile the Sardinians were ordered to Tur- 
bigo. The terrain over which the operations were to take place 
is of a very difficult character. The advance was to be made 

MAGENTA, 1859. 333 

in two directions converging on Magenta. The front attack 
proceeded from the bridge of San Martino — or, as it is also 
called, Ponte Nuovo di Boffalora — in an easterly direction, 
the second or flank attack from Turbigo in a south-easterly 
direction. The flank attack led over nearly level ground, 
studded with villages and isolated farmhouses, and closely 
cultivated. The fields are large, and enclosed by hedges of the 
common thorny acacia ; the crops are mostly maize and grass, 
but these are divided at about every fifteen yards by rows of 
mulberry-trees, with vines trained over them and from one to 
another. No commanding view is therefore to be had, even on 
horseback ; but a wide extent of country can be overlooked 
from the church towers, which exist in almost every village. 
The front attack led directly on the canal, and had there a very 
serious obstacle to overcome. As already noticed, it is quite 
impassable except over the bridges. Of these, five must be 
noticed. 1st, That of Boffalora. The only approach to it is 
by an indifferent road branching off from the great Novara- 
Milan cliaussfa, about a quarter of a mile beyond the Ticinus 
bridge ; it is completely commanded by the houses of Boffalora, 
and may be swept by artillery-fire from the high ground about 
the village. 2d, That of Ponte Nuovo di Magenta, by which the 
great chaussde crosses the canal. This road starting from the 
Ticinus bridge, slopes gradually down to nearly the level of the 
high ground which forms the sides of the valley, and through 
which the canal is led. At the canal bridge there are four 
buildings— one in each angle between the road and canal; 
those on the left, or eastern bank of the canal, are particularly 
strongly built, and were in 1859 the Austrian custom-house. 
3d, The railway bridge about 500 yards below Ponte Nuovo. 
This crosses the canal at a lower level than the last. The 
railway, which crosses the Ticinus by the same bridge as 
the chatisste, instead of sinking to the valley, as that does, 
runs on an embankment across it, rising with a uniform but 
very easy gradient to the point where, through a cutting, it 
enters the high banks which frame the valley in. This long 
and uniform slope is seen in its whole length from the high 
ground, and lies completely exposed to the fire of guns. 4th, 
Ponte Vecchio di Magenta. A tolerably large village, on both 


banks of the canal ; the part on the right bank consists of 
older and less substantial buildings than that on the left. 
There is no direct road to Ponte Vecchio from the Ticinus 
bridge, but roads run along both sides of the canal at the top 
of the cutting through which it flows from Ponte Nuovo. 5th, 
Eobecco. A large and important village built on both sides of 
the canal. From Ponte Vecchio downwards, the canal be- 
comes shallower and more rapid, and its banks are less high 
and steep. As it gradually diverges from the river, the breadth 
of the high ground enclosed between it and the low river-val- 
ley widens gradually from near Boffalora, where it begins to 
have a breadth of two miles between Eobecco and Casterno. In 
cultivation and character, the plateau, often called the plateau 
of Carpenzago, resembles the ground between Turbigo and 
Magenta. The low ground or valley bed of the Ticinus, 
though not absolutely impassable, is practically unfit for the 
movements of troops. The advance of the French from the 
bridge of San Martino was virtually restricted to three roads, 
— that leading to Boffalora, the chaussee, and the railway em- 
bankment ; at the edge of the high ground to the north of the 
latter, the Austrians had thrown up a field-work. With the 
exception of those at Boffalora and Ponte Vecchio, which had 
been broken clown, the bridges on the canal had been left 
standing, ready mined, but the chambers not charged. 

It is very noticeable, in examining Clam's disposition for 
the defence of the position, that he evidently regarded the 
attack from the west as the most dangerous, and therefore 
fronted in this direction. His knowledge of the strategic 
situation was evidently imperfect, for the French at Turbigo 
had the passages of both the canal and river in their hands ; 
and by acting as he did, he exposed his flank to a certain blow. 
Had the bridge on the canal been destroyed, an advance on 
this side in face of even a small containing force would have 
been dangerous, slow, and difficult, if not impossible, and he 
would then have been able to confront the northern attack 
unhindered, because his left, resting on the canal, would have 
been comparatively safe. 

But he judged otherwise, and his dispositions for battle 
were therefore as follows : His command consisted of 30,000 

MAGENTA, 1859. 335 

men of the 1st and 2d corps, and of these Burdina's division 
was placed behind the canal between Boffalora and Ponte 
Nuovo, four brigades at Magenta, one at Bobecco, the outposts 
extending from Bobecco to Inverimo. The advance of the 
French was reported from San Martino, and Burdina was 
thereupon ordered to defend the bridges and to occupy the 
redoubt near the railway on which the guns were stationed. 

One brigade was held in reserve at Casa Girola, one brigade 
directed on Boffalora, another to Cascina Nuova in support, 
and a fourth remained in reserve at Magenta. These disposi- 
tions were completed undisturbed, thanks only to the delayed 
attack of the French. 

Mellinet reached San Martino at 9 a.m., and repaired the 
bridge, a pontoon-bridge being also added, so that one brigade 
of the Guard and two guns crossed. At 10.30 a partial ad- 
vance was effected, producing collision with the Austrian out- 
posts ; but it was discontinued, as the Emperor was desirous 
of waiting till the pressure of the turning movement from 
Turbigo was felt. Still it was not time lost, for it gave an 
opportunity for an examination of the ground, during which 
the presence of guns on the canal proved that the bridges had 
not been destroyed ; and while Macmahon pressed on, the 
Sardinians were directed on Turbigo. No orders, however, 
were sent to Niel or Canrobert, 

Clam did not apparently expect an attack from the north, 
and while reporting an advance from the west, he did not 
demand support. Still Gyulai, abandoning the idea of a rest 
day, ordered the 5th and 8th corps to march towards the 

Macmahon had moved at 9 a.m., La Motterouge on Cuggiono, 
and Espinasse on Marcallo, to which place the Sardinians were 
also to proceed as soon as they had crossed. 

About 12.30 the Turcos of the right column, supported by 
two batteries, attacked Boffalora, but were repulsed ; where- 
upon Macmahon, perceiving considerable forces before him, 
and fearful of being separated from Espinasse and Camou, 
broke off the engagement. Espinasse reached Marcallo at 
2.30, and Camou soon after arrived at Cuggiono. 

But the sound of the cannon had reached the Emperor's 


ears, and, desirous of supporting the marshal, he gave orders 
for the advance to be made in two columns, one the 3d 
Grenadiers, 2000 strong, along the railway embankment, 
covered by three companies of Zouaves along the railway, 
and flanked by the 1st Grenadiers on the right, the remainder 
of the Zouaves being held in reserve. 

The other column, the 2d Grenadiers, settled in Boffalora, 
but on the right bank only ; but the 1st carried the redoubt 
and railway bridge, whereupon the rest of the Zouaves ad- 
vanced by the chaussde and carried Ponte Nuovo, assisted by 
the Grenadiers from the railway. At 2 p.m. the passages were 
in the possession of the French — a remarkable feat, consider- 
ing the disproportion existing between the numbers. 

Clam now first reported his danger, and Eeischach was 
called up from Castellazzo di Barzy. The 3d corps was 
directed on Eobecco, and Lilia to Corbelta. 

There is no truth, therefore, in the report that Gyulai 
delayed to support his lieutenant ; but half the day was 
already gone, the 5th corps was eleven miles off, and the 8th 
seventeen miles, so that the 3d and 7th only were available, and 
one division had been most unaccountably detached towards 
Milan. The Guards continued pushing back the Austrians 
from Ponte Nuovo until the arrival of Eeischach's division of 
the 7th corps, when they were driven back to the canal, 
though they still retained possession of the right bank. 

Gyulai reached Magenta at 2 p.m. The canal was lost, but 
the enemy was unable to debouch, and all was quiet on 
Macmahon's side. 

Espinasse's arrival was, however, soon signalled, and Bez- 
nischek's brigade was sent there, while Benedek hastened back 
to Eobecco to direct the 3d corps. 

About 3.30 the first French reinforcement, Picard's brigade 
of the 3d corps, appeared, and the Austrians were again 
driven out of Ponte Nuovo ; but Schwarzenberg, recognising 
the danger of the situation, placed himself at the head of 
Kintzil's brigade (2d corps) to make a counter-attack. An 
Italian regiment bore the brunt of the fight, and was defeated, 
when Picard extended his right to Ponte Vecchio. 

The situation was still precarious, as Macmahon remained 

MAGENTA, 1859. 337 

inactive on the left, while danger was approaching on the 
right. Niel and Canrobert were only just alive to the fact 
that a general action was being fought, and the former had 
already entered on his bivouack at Trecate, while Canrobert 
could not pass, as the roads were blocked by the train. The 
Austrian 3d corps was ready to enter into action at 4, and 
advanced on both sides of the canal, Hartung west, and 
Bamming east of that obstacle, with Durfeld in rear of the 
former, and Wetzlar along the river. Though at first suc- 
cessful, the corps was at length everywhere repulsed. 

Vinoy (4th corps) reached San Martino at 4.45, and was 
shortly followed by a brigade of Canrobert's. 

The French had not as yet moved from Boffalora, where 
two bridges had been thrown, but Macmahon was ready to 
move at 4 p.m., and the Austrians formed front to their right 
(all reserves being hurried north by Gyulai, who had, returned 
to Magenta), lleznischek and Baltin being in first line, and 
Kudelka and Lebzeltern in second. 

Baltin had abandoned Boffalora, and thus the li^e^of, the 
Naviglio Canal was practically lost, for the French, advancing 
from Boffalora, formed a junction with Macmahon. 

The two first brigades attacked Marcallo unsuccessfully; 
but Cascina Nuova was occupied at 5j3J). 

This was assaulted by Macmahon, assisted by a part of 
Niel's corps, and carried, and Magenta was gained possession 
of by 7.30. 

Macmahon had now all his force in line, and was supported 
by a Sardinian division and detachments from the canal, the 
brigades Bataille and Collineau reaching the ground when 
the victory which gave the Emperor the passage of the Ticinus 
and canal was fully assured. 

The Allied loss amounted to 24G officers and 4289 men, 
against 281 officers and 9432 men on the Austrian side. 

Of the troops present in the theatre, only 60,000 French 
and 58,000 Austrians were actually engaged— a clear proof 
that battle was not expected by either party. The Austrians 
were from their dispositions evidently surprised by Macmahon; 
and Reischach, originally intended to face this northern dan- 
ger, was recalled westwards, owing to the brilliant attack of 



the grenadiers, by which an almost impregnable position was 
carried by 6000 men. All through the action the superior 
fighting power of the French was most noticeable, and even 
Schwarzenberg's advance would have been most dangerous 
to the French, with Kintzil and Lilia numbering 30,000 men ; 
but Kintzil's troops, of whom many were Italians, were very 
unreliable, and Lilia was too far detached, so that Picard's 
weak force of 10,000 men was sufficient to check the counter- 
stroke. The 3d corps was then too far away to be of service. 

From all this it appears that when Clam's report reached 
Abbiate Grasso, it was evident that sufficient strength was not 
present to support him, and the only course was to withdraw 
his force and not oppose the passage. As it was, the Austrian 
troops were brought into play in a most partial manner, and 
there seemed to be almost a reluctance to engage. 

The battle-field gave few opportunities for the employment 
of artillery. 

The desire to keep reserves in hand is very apparent, and 
was pushed too far. What would have happened in 1815 if 
the Prussian corps had dribbled into a general battle-field in 
support of Ziethen at Marchiennes ? 

Macmahon's force was too weak for the purpose, and was 
not well backed up. But even with the small force he had, 
the use of both roads was indispensable, and his early caution 
to afford time for a better distribution of his columns is com- 
mendable. The entire absence of communication with the Em- 
peror throughout the early part of the day, seems inexplicable ; 
and knowing this, and that the general-in-chief might possibly 
be misled by the firing which occurred in the first attack on 
Boffalora, his after-delay was indiscreet, and might have 
resulted in disaster to the French. An advance in echelon 
from his right as soon as possible would have been the safest 
and best course for the marshal, under the circumstances of 
the case. 

The operations as conducted up to this point, are particu- 
larly instructive when compared with the movements in the 
preceding campaign of 1849. 

The operations conducted in 1849 and 1859 are peculiarly 
instructive in connection with each other. 

MAGENTA, 185&. 339 

In 1849, an Italian, wishing to invade Lombardy, selected 
the northern line in defiance of strategic rules, which point to 
that south of the Po, and the enemy stood behind the Ticinus. 
In 1859, he was already concentrated between that river and 
the Sesia — that is to say, the Italians operated in 1849 under 
circumstances infinitely more favourable than did the French 
in 1859. Nevertheless, the Italian army was ruined in four 
days, whilst the French completed the same manoeuvre in the 
teeth of a position selected to prevent it, and thus initiated a 
brilliant campaign. How, then, is the difference in results to 
be accounted for ? Why did Eadetzky, under circumstances 
less favourable, succeed, whilst Gyulai succumbed on the same 
ground without an effort ? Evidently a military truth of 
importance is concealed here. 

If by operations in utter neglect of strategic principles, the 
enemy can be forced to abandon territory without an effort, it 
is clear that in war a principle is latent, other than strategy, 
which is dominating ; briefly, that tactical considerations are 
primary, strategic secondary only — that is to say, it is safer 
for a superior army in offensive warfare comparatively to 
expose communications by turning a practically strong posi- 
tion, than to take the bull by the horns by assailing it. This 
explains the French manoeuvre in 1859 and its results. The 
sine qua non of course is, that the operations must be effected 
with the necessary precautions for success. Secrecy and 
rapidity are essential so as to bring the entire force, superior 
of course to the enemy who is on the defensive, to the right 
point at the right time. 

The remainder of the campaign does not offer much attraction to the 
military student. No pursuit was attempted by the French either after 
the battle or on the 5th, the time being employed in bringing up the 
troops beyond the Ticinus. 

The Austrians neglecting to defend the strong position behind the 
canal running from Milan to Abbiate Grasso fell back on the Mincio, 
abandoning Pavia, Milan, and Piacenza, and the Allies occupied the 
Lombard capital on the 7th June ; but on the 8th a small action occurred 
at Melegnano, a village on the river Lambro, where the Milan-Lodi road 
crosses it — after which the Austrians retreated without interruption. 
Urban joined the main army on the 12th, and the Chiese was crossed on 
the 15th, on which day an attack by Garibaldi on Urban's rear-guard 
was repulsed. 


By the 21st the Austrians had evacuated the whole of Lombardy 
and the district south of the Po, and retreated into the Quadrilateral 
to reorganise their army. 

The French advanced very slowly, only completing the passage of the 
Chiese on the 23d June, the Sardinians and Garibaldi being on the 
extreme left towards Lake Garda. On this date the Austrians recrossed 
the Mincio, formed into two armies : the first consisting of the 3d, 9th, 
11th corps, and 1st reserve cavalry division; and the second, of the 1st, 
5th, 7th, 8th, 6th corps, and 2d reserve cavalry division. 

This advance brought about the battle of Solferino on the 24th, when 
the Austrians were again defeated, and once more retired unmolested 
into the Quadrilateral. 

The Mincio was crossed by the Allies on the 1st July, and preparations 
made for the investment of Peschiera ; while on the 3d the French 5th corps 
(Prince Napoleon) joined the main army. The fleet, with a force for the 
attack of Venice, had meanwhile arrived in the Adriatic, while the Aus- 
trian army was collected round Verona. 

But neither of the emperors cared for a continuance of the war: 
Napoleon, because he had done enough for Italy, and gained, what were 
probably his private ends, the promise of the cession of Savoy and Nice ; 
Francis Joseph, because Prussia was anxious to appear upon the scene, 
and this might possibly endanger his existing supremacy in the German 

The treaty of Villafranca was therefore cordially agreed to, and by it 
Austria surrendered to Italy all her possessions west of the Mincio. 

This was far from satisfying the Italians. Freedom for all their 
States from the Alps to the Adriatic was their constant aim ; and from 
the termination of this war, until their desires were fulfilled, they left no 
stone unturned to promote the objects they had in view. 




One of the chief results of the campaign of 1859 was to produce the 
first great disturbance in the political equilibrium of Europe since the 
wars of the Empire. But it was to be the precursor of greater and more 
important alterations in the balance of power. Italy consisted, even 
then, of but the Lombardo-Piedmontese kingdom, &c— the southern por- 
tion of the peninsula remaining under Bourbon sway, while Venetia was 
still governed by Austrian generals. 

The year 1860 saw the beginning of the end. Garibaldi aided the 
Sicilian insurrection by his presence, and, owing to the patriotic enthusi- 
asm that presence evoked, gained the battle of Calatafimi, compelling the 
abandonment of the island of Sicily by the Neapolitan troops. Crossing 
to the mainland, his advance on Naples was followed by the evacuation 
of the capital by Francis II., King of the Two Sicilies. 

But the insurrection spread, and the Sardinian king joining in it, 
became again the recognised leader of the cause of Italian unity ; and, as 
the supporter of their efforts, gained once more the sympathy and confi- 
dence of the people. Battles at Castelfidardo, Ancona, Isernia, and Vol- 
turno by the Piedmontese and Garibaldians, led to the latter hailing 
Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy, a title afterwards confirmed by the 
European Powers. But the prime mover in this nearly realised dream, 
Cavour, lived to see his great idea but partly fulfilled ; for the successes 
of this year were dimmed not only in Italian eyes, but in those of every 
dispassionate politician of Europe, by his death, which occurred on the 
1st June 1860. 

Still the Papal States and Venetia yet remained in the hands of strangers, 
or did not share in the union that had linked together the hitherto discon- 
nected States of Italy. The attempt made by Garibaldi, who, landing in 
Sicily in 1862, raised the cry of " Rome or Death," was deemed prema- 
ture both by the king and by all those who felt an interest in Italian 
politics^ or shared their aspirations. The action of Victor Emmanuel 
in taking the field against the rash patriot, whose ill-considered attempt 
might have led to unfortunately-timed complications, was, in one sense 


regretfully, recognised as just and right by the general feeling of the 
great Powers. It led to the battle of Aspronionte, between the volunteers 
and the Italian army, in which Garibaldi was wounded, and the move- 
ment checked. 

A bloodless revolution in Greece in 1862 led to the placing on the 
throne of Prince George of Denmark, and the cession of the Ionian 
Islands, by the British, to the new king. 

But already the war-clouds that were soon to be so heavily charged 
with disaster to more than one of the European Powers, were rising on 
the political horizon. The Emperor Napoleon himself recognised their 
danger, but his attempt at procuring a European conference on the 
Polish, German, and Eastern questions in 1863 failed. And the follow- 
ing year, as if to justify his prescience, saw one of them, that of Schleswig 
Holstein, assuming serious importance. 

The death of Frederick VII. of Denmark led to the refusal of many of 
the Holstein officials to recognise the new sovereign, Christian IX., and to 
the advancement of a claim on the part of the son of the Duke of Augus- 
tenberg to the sovereignty of the duchies. He was supported by the 
Diet at Frankfurt, which decreed federal execution, and the union of the 
States with Germany. After the occupation of Altona by the Saxons and 
Hanoverians, and the abandonment of Rendsberg by the Danes, Austria 
and Prussia declared war against Denmark, and the capture of Dybbol 
and Alsen was followed by the peace of Vienna, 13th October 1864. By 
it the duchies were given over to Austria and Prussia ; and, in the con- 
vention of Gastein, a temporary arrangement was entered into between 
them by which a joint occupation was agreed to, and Lauenberg was sold 
to Prussia. But these latter arrangements were not in accordance with 
the wishes of the Frankfurt Diet. In 1865 it condemned the treaty, and 
Prussia, seizing the opportunity of striking for the great aim of her 
ambition, supremacy in the councils of Germany, formed an alliance 
with Italy in the spring of 1866, and prepared for war. 

Part I.— Campaign in Bohemia, 1866: Koniggratz. 

The causes of the collision of the two great States, which 
for many years past have alternately asserted their supremacy 
in the German Confederation, must be sought in the constant 
rivalry occasioned by their coexistent history within this 
body politic. The rapid rise of the Hohenzollern dynasty to 
influence and power, its just aspiration to represent the ten- 
dency of the German peoples towards unity and political pro- 
gress ; then the adverse, reactionary policy of Austria, and 


the utter incompetence of the Diet, her offspring, for national 
purposes, — had served to bring long-standing jealousies to a 
crisis which, when finally settled, bids fair to initiate a fresh 
period of national vigour for the ancient German race. In 
order to understand this, it will be well to trace the antecedent 
parts which Austria and Prussia have played in the history of 
their common fatherland. 

The Confederation of States known to us as Germany, 
existed from the ninth to the commencement of the present 
century in the form of an empire. The empire, however, by 
no means represented a compact political mass. On the con- 
trary, it was composed of a great number of lay and ecclesi- 
astical sovereignties, more or less powerful and independent, 
the rulers of which owned allegiance to the emperor, whom 
some few of their number elected. It was in fact a feudal 
institution, which united, as far as possible, in medieval times, 
the scattered fractions of the Germanic race. 

Amongst the sovereign States alluded to, we find in the 
early history of the Reich* the Margravate of Austria, an 
outlying territory on the banks of the central Danube, and 
the Marquisate of Brandenburg, a sandy, sterile district, 
enclosed between the Oder and the central Elbe. Here 
were the cradles of the two great monarchies to whose 
history some passing reference is necessary. In the race for 
power which has since ensued between them, the start is 
singularly unequal. The house of Hapsburg, Dukes of Aus- 
tria, had, early in the fifteenth century, already attained such 
preponderant influence in Germany — thanks principally to their 
external possessions, acquired by marriage — that the imperial 
crown of Germany was thenceforth regularly vested in the 
chiefs of that family. The first of the Hohenzollern dynasty, 
on the other hand, had but some twenty years previously 
(1415) been raised from comparative obscurity to the rank of 
Elector of Brandenburg. Two things are therefore evident ; 
first, the original inferiority of the house of Hohenzollern to 
that of Hapsburg in point of rank and influence— and secondly, 
the connection between the external territories of the latter 
family and the German empire. It was, in fact, what is 

* The German name for the Empire. 


generally termed a personal union — that is to say, the Dukes 
of Austria, successively elected German Emperors by their 
compeers in the empire, were, by other rights, simultaneously 
Kings of Hungary, Bohemia, &c. Indeed it was to these 
external possessions, as has been already remarked, that their 
influence within the Reich, where their territory was compara- 
tively small, was due. 

During the two succeeding centuries which preceded the 
Thirty Years' War, the disparity of relative rank is still more 
remarkable. Whilst the Electors of Brandenburg were strug- 
gling against various difficulties, to establish the foundations 
of permanent rule, the house of Hapsburg had attained the 
summit of dynastic ambition in the person of Charles V., in 
whom the sceptres of Germany, Spain, Italy, and Austria, 
were simultaneously united. But, as though to illustrate the 
transient character of human combinations, together with 
the inheritance of such vast possessions by this prince, an 
event occurred, which was destined not only to revolutionise 
the social condition of Germany, but to sap the base upon 
which the power of the Austrian dynasty rested. This was 
the Lutheran Eeformation. It is probable that, but for the 
external connections of the house of Hapsburg, this event 
would at once have proved of unmixed benefit to the peoples 
of Germany. As it was, it created a religious schism, which, 
culminating in the Thirty Years' War, destroyed all hopes, for 
many years to come, of closer national unity. Nevertheless, 
from this moment the death-blow was dealt to feudalism, and 
to all the institutions based upon it. Henceforth the doom of 
the empire was sealed. Henceforth the rise of the Hohen- 
zollerns, who with characteristic prescience soon embraced the 
Protestant cause, and conversely the decline of Hapsburg in- 
fluence, constantly exerted against it, may be clearly traced. 

The year 1618, which ushered in the Thirty Years' War, 
also witnessed the annexation of the non-German Duchy of 
Prussia to Brandenburg, and the acquisition of the Cleve 
territories on the Rhine, by the Elector John Sigismund. 

At the peace of Westphalia (1648), in spite of the un- 
dignified role his father had played during the war, Frederick 
William, justly styled the "Great Elector," increased these 


possessions by some valuable additions. He quickly recog- 
nised that the vitality of the empire was wasting, and that 
a brilliant political future was now dawning for his own 
favoured race. To heal the wounds inflicted by the war ; to 
establish an independent position towards external Powers, 
and as far as possible towards the empire itself; to organise 
an efficient military force, and introduce, with a view to State 
unity, a form of mild despotic rule which has lasted, more or 
less, to the present clay; to initiate a system of strict financial 
economy, whilst he repopulated his dominions by encouraging 
immigration of his persecuted co-religionists from France and 
Holland, — were some of the far-sighted measures adopted by 
the prince whom the Great Frederick has since delighted to 
call the founder of his dynasty. 

During a long reign, the Elector so fully succeeded in in- 
creasing the resources and consequent influence of his house, 
that in 1701 his successor, elevated to royal rank, was 
crowned King of Prussia as Frederick I. This important 
step, however, had not been attained without considerable 
difficulty. The terms under which it was at last conceded by 
the Hapsburg Emperor, in stipulating for the continued 
loyalty of the Hohenzollerns towards Pieich and Kaiser, are 
sufficiently suggestive. The second King of Prussia, frugal to 
eccentricity, and devoted to the military profession, prepared 
the means and the instrument, which the genius of his son, 
the Great Frederick, turned to such good account. 

Simultaneously with the accession of Frederick, in 1740, 
the male line of the imperial house had come to an end by 
the decease of the Emperor Charles VI. With a view to secure 
the inheritance of his various possessions to his daughter, 
this monarch had long been engaged in obtaining the consent 
of all parties concerned to the celebrated Pragmatic Sanction. 
But Frederick, with an army burning for service, and with a 
well-filled exchequer, was not the man to allow so favourable 
an opportunity to slip, or, where the engagements of his fore- 
fathers stood in the way of the interests of his dynasty, to 
hold himself bound by them. He invaded Silesia, claimed by 
ancient but doubtful right, defeated the imperial troops, and 
ultimately annexed the greater portion of that duchy to his 


own dominions. At the same time lie eagerly espoused the 
cause of Charles, Elector of Bavaria, a candidate for the 
imperial dignity, in opposition to the husband of Maria 
Theresa. It is perfectly clear that his fixed purpose was 
already directed towards the exclusion of the Austrian dynasty 
from further exercise of power in Germany. The result of 
such bold policy was the Seven Years' War, characterised by 
his own great genius, and sufficiently illustrating the military 
virtues of his subjects. From it Prussia, exhausted though 
she was, issued as a great European Power. If the crown of 
Germany remained with the Hapsburgs, it was an emblem of 
past, not of present power. Henceforth the younger dynasty 
asserted its claim rightfully to represent German interests, 
German progress, and German intellect. To guard this claim 
Frederick once more, before he died, unsheathed his sword 
against Maria Theresa's son, and the last act of his political 
life was to organise against Austrian aggrandisement a league 
of German princes. 

From this short historical sketch it may be observed 
that, during the three centuries which closed with the 
death of Frederick II., the fate of the German peoples was 
entirely deposited in the hands of the two ruling dynas- 
ties. One of these represented youth, thrift, nationality, in a 
restricted sense, religious tolerance and comparative enlight- 
enment, promoted education, and furthered the dissemina- 
tion of knowledge. If the executive power was exclusively 
reserved for the use of the dynasty, that power was certainly 
exercised for the public weal, for the benefit of those whom it 
protected. The other was already old in years before the first 
had started into life. Its influence had grown with the power 
and influence of the medieval Church of Piome, of which it 
formed the strongest pillar. It was the representative of 
priestcraft 'and feudalism, the opponent of progress, liberty, 
and learning. The absolute rule which it maintained had not 
been turned to the advantage of the subject, but to the ex- 
clusive benefit of the dynasty. Both dynasties had this in 
common, that they reserved to themselves the absolute right 
of ruling their peoples according to their own views. The 
difference lies in the consistent direction of those views, 


whether turned with prescient intelligence towards the dawn- 
inc future, or clinging with obstinate infatuation towards the 
dark, irrevocable past. 

In truth, with the close of the eighteenth century, the time 
had arrived when a fresh element in national existence burst 
suddenly into life. Its power startled those whose rule had 
hitherto rested, unassailed, upon divine right. Instinctively 
they coalesced, forgetful of earlier personal jealousies, against 
a common foe. The war of American Independence, and sub- 
sequently the great French Eevolution, offered unmistakable 
signs that the populations of the civilised world were about 
to emancipate themselves from dynastic tutelage, and to assert 
their right to some kind of self-government. But revolution- 
ary France had soiled the first page of her recent history by 
needless excesses, and by vindictive violence on the person of 
her sovereign. Worse still, the blood of innocent victims, 
crying for vengeance, had blinded kindred peoples to the value 
of her cause. Thus the monarchs of Austria and Prussia, 
united now by a common tie, led willing subjects against her. 
Throughout the years of blood and war which followed, the 
political bearing of the two German Powers, nevertheless, 
was widely different. Three years of alternate victory and 
defeat appear to have enlightened Prussian statesmen as to 
the tendency of the times and their own interests. In 1795 
Prussia receded from the coalition which she had joined 
against France, and with the treaty of Basle at once entered 
into friendly relations with the Kepublic. Austria, on the 
other hand, had recognised in the Eevolution a mortal foe, 
whom she determined to vanquish, or die in the attempt. 
The individuality of Napoleon Buonaparte, however, soon 
changed the character of the conflict. His views of conquest, 
and extension of empire, alarmed but failed to draw Prussia 
from her neutral attitude. For ten long years she witnessed 
with calm satisfaction the series of disasters which laid her 
former rival prostrate and powerless at the foot of her con- 
queror. Then she opened her hand for the territorial reward 
which had purchased her base neutrality. But retribution, 
equally to be expected in national as in individual life, was 
at hand. The same arm that struck down Austria at Auster- 


litz, in 1805, crushed Prussia at Jena in the following autumn. 
Half the territory she had accumulated by years of sacrifice 
and unremitting toil was rudely torn from her on that fatal 
field, and for six subsequent years her voice was unheard in 
the councils of Europe. 

With the mutual disasters of the two German Powers, the 
old spirit of rivalry naturally disappeared. The question was 
no longer whether Austria or Prussia should preponderate in 
Germany, but whether Germany herself would be able to pre- 
serve her independence. In the struggle which ensued for 
this purpose, on Napoleon's return from Eussia, Prussia 
memorably retrieved her position in Europe. The patriotism 
of her peoples, the ability of her statesmen, and the valour of 
her commanders, all contributed to place her in the foremost 
rank of European Powers in 1815, when she assumed the 
geographical proportions she continued to occupy until the 
commencement of this war. 

The external danger from which the Crowns of Germany 
had escaped, had been too imminent that these should soon 
recur to ancient causes of domestic difference. Indeed, 
Francis II. had formally exchanged, on the morrow of Auster- 
litz, and in presence of the Confederation of the Kbine, the 
imperial crown of Germany for that of Austria. Thus in 
1815, the empire having ceased to exist both in substance 
and name, it became necessary to initiate for Germany a fresh 
form of political cohesion. The endeavour was, with due re- 
gard for the conservation of dynastic rights, to frame a struc- 
ture more in consonance with modern ideas. Hence the origin 
of what has hitherto been styled the German Confederation. 
It formed a mass of thirty-three sovereign States and four free 
cities, all of which, with many others, had previously existed 
under the empire. The evil of all confederations of independ- 
ent States is believed to consist in the difficulty of defining 
the limits, and insuring the action, of the central authority. 
But where, as in this case, two of the States were great Euro- 
pean Powers, whilst many of the others were almost unknown 
to the world at large, the disproportion and unwieldiness of the 
body must have been at once apparent to all who assisted in its 
creation. But the ancient jealousies of the two great States 


had, for the time at least, been quenched in blood, and Europe 
sighed at that period for speedy and permanent peace. 

During the years of war which had followed the French 
Revolution, a great advance was made by the peoples of Europe 
in general political knowledge. The conquering legions of 
Napoleon had carried the doctrines of liberty and equality 
into the farthermost corners of the Continent. The more 
prudent sovereigns of Germany, therefore, on the restoration 
of peace, wisely anticipated the demand* of their subjects by 
granting constitutions more or less liberally based upon the 
recognised principles of the time. In his days of distress the 
Prussian monarch had promised, if his power were restored, 
to admit his people to a larger share in the government, so 
that the eyes of all were confidently turned in this direction. 
But Frederick William III. was unable to rise to the occasion : 
misguided probably by Metternich's policy in Austria, which 
zealously excluded the pernicious seeds of liberty drifting 
from the West, he declined to part with one atom of the royal 
prerogative, and joined the Holy Alliance. 

One great result, then, of the French Revolution, and of 
Napoleon's era of conquest and disaster, to Germany, was the 
intimate political union of the two dynasties for the main- 
tenance of a system of paternal or absolute rule, with a view 
to repress the spread or growth of the modern doctrines of 
the Revolution. 

The discontent caused by this reactionary attitude of the 
leading German Powers was great. For thirty years it slum- 
bered in the bosom of the nation ; but when France, expelling 
her king in 1848, again restored the Republic, the blaze of 
revolution spread with startling rapidity across the whole of 
central Europe. The baseless structure which Metternich had 
erected in Austria collapsed in an instant, whilst the whole 
military effort of the empire was required to preserve its 
political existence. 

There can be no doubt that the eyes of all intelligent men in 
Germany were now once more turned wistfully to Prussia. It 
was not only that the Prussian dynasty had hitherto, on the 
whole, conducted its peoples steadily on the ordered path of 
political progress, but that Austria, whose past history was the 


embodiment of reactionary principles, was altogether engrossed 
with her own intestine struggle. The constitutional deputies 
assembled in Frankfurt from all parts of Germany to replace 
the Diet, resolved therefore to tender the imperial crown to the 
Prussian monarch, with the assurance that a free and united 
people was prepared to rally under the banner of the Hohen- 
zollerns. But the dread phantom of democracy appears to 
have frightened the Prussian king. He rejected the bloodless 
prize, offered as a tribute to the virtues of his ancestors, unless 
the free consent of sovereigns, as well as the people, accom- 
panied the gift. The inviolability of dynastic right must be 
asserted in spite of the expressed will of a great people. At 
the same time, it must not be supposed that the king was 
unwilling to initiate such change as accorded with his own 
views and special interests. The headship of Germany, as we 
have seen, had long been the aim of his race, and present cir- 
cumstances made it more than ever the object of ambition. 
The States, therefore, were invited to meet in conference at 
Berlin, with a view to form a closer " union " than had 
hitherto existed under Prussia's presidency. A general Par- 
liament, in which those States which had joined this Union 
were to be represented, was then to meet at Erfurt. Of course, 
the double object of this subtly-conceived project was to ex- 
clude Austria from further influence in Germany, and, at the 
same time, to effect a compromise with the revolution. But 
Austria was now rapidly emerging from her troubles. Eadetz- 
ky's victory at Novara had forced Italy to her knees, whilst, 
with the aid of Prussia, the Hungarian insurrection was shortly 
afterwards bloodily repressed. An indignant protest against 
the subordination of the Austrian Emperor to any central 
authority exercised by any other German prince, had already 
reached Berlin. It was shortly followed by the peremptory 
demand for the suspension of the Union, and the reconstruc- 
tion of the old Diet, which had ceased to sit since July 1848. 
At first Prussia seemed inclined to stand her ground, in 
which case the contest, which has but now terminated, would 
probably have been fought out sixteen years ago ; but the 
irresolute character of the King, the want of military prepara- 
tion as compared with that of Austria's well-seasoned battal- 


ions, the readiness with which the secondary States receded 
from her influence, were so many causes which induced 
Prussia, with a bitter feeling of humiliation, to eat the leek 
of necessity and bide her time. 

The victory thus gained for Austria by the vigorous hand 
of Prince Felix Schwarzenberg, was one of very doubtful value. 
The reactionary period, now introduced, diminished the sym- 
pathies which were still claimed for her by the traditions of 
the past in many parts of the old empire. The restoration 
of the Diet, which had never commanded the respect of the 
nation at large, increased the universal feeling of dissatis- 
faction. In general the peoples of Germany relapsed, with 
a feeling of keen disappointment, to their former political 
insignificance ; at the same time the old dynastic feud was 
reawakened in all its bitterness, and a smarting sense of the 
indignity they had suffered was retained by the Prussians 
themselves. Lastly, the easy success of Austria's military 
demonstration was calculated to lead her into fatal error 
regarding the military power and national spirit of her now 
despised antagonist. 

The weak reign of Frederick William IV. was coming to a 
close. In 1857, incapacitated by what soon proved to be fatal 
illness, he handed the reins of government to his brother. 
The change was joyfully hailed by all those who anticipated 
more energetic action on the part of the prince regent. But 
the first acts of the present king disappointed the national 
party, as well as his own subjects. In his address to his 
ministry in 1858, he sketched out the programme of his future 
policy. It indicated little sympathy with the national aspira- 
tions of the day, whilst the stress laid upon the necessity for 
further expenditure for the reorganisation of the army soon 
brought him to an open conflict with the Prussian Chambers. 
At first his relations with Austria were of a most friendly 
character; but in 1859, so little inclination was shown actively 
to aid that Power in her struggle against France and Italy, 
that Francis Joseph cited the apathetic attitude of his expected 
ally as one of the principal reasons for concluding the early 
peace of Villafranca. It is indeed evident that, from this 
moment, the influence of a man who had already obtained 


some note in the political and diplomatic world was making 
itself felt in the councils of Prussia. 

Count Bismarck had raised himself to public notice in 
Germany by his fearless advocacy, during the revolutionary 
period, of all those principles which had so long retarded the 
political progress of Germany. Originally, he was the stren- 
uous supporter of the Austrian alliance, with a view of co- 
operating with her in restraining the democratic tendencies 
of the time. But the humiliating collapse of Prussia in 1850 
seems to have turned the current of his vindictive energy into 
a totally different channel. The conviction appears to have 
then settled in his mind, that before Prussia could recover her 
position in Europe, it was indispensably necessary that Aus- 
tria's influence in Germany should be for ever destroyed. 
As minister to the Diet at Frankfurt, and subsequently at the 
Courts of Paris and St Petersburg, he gained the practical 
experience, and established the connections, which might 
some day serve him in effecting his ambitious aims. He 
studied attentively the boldness of conception, secrecy of 
design, the forecast, and exceeding vigour of execution which 
have characterised the successful epochs of the reign of 
Napoleon III. There is reason, too, to believe that on more 
than one occasion his enterprising projects reached the ears 
of the monarch to whom he was accredited. But the timid 
nature of Frederick William IV., so long as he lived, proved 
an insurmountable obstacle to the practical execution of de- 
signs considered by him so dangerous and subversive. The 
last thought, however, in Bismarck's mind was to play into 
the hands of the popular German party. His bold and ori- 
ginal intellect had embraced the possibility of reviving the 
influence and power of the dynasty he served, by a brilliant 
and daring course of foreign policy, which for a time, at any 
rate, would divert the attention of the nation from internal 
affairs. Prussian aggrandisement in Europe, Prussian ascen- 
dancy undisputed in Germany, the maintenance of dynastic 
privilege, and the suppression of constitutional freedom, such 
appear to have formed the leading and well-digested objects 
of this original and enterprising mind. 

The present monarch, at first, like his predecessor, rejected 


the suggestions which speedily reached him. But King 
William, a soldier by habit and early education, had already 
expressed his conviction to his ministers, that Prussia's future, 
equally with her past, depended exclusively upon her mili- 
tary power. The mobilisation of 1850 and 1859 had exposed 
the defects of the Prussian system, and the one unalterable 
purpose of the sovereign was, that these faults should be 
remedied. So soon, therefore, as he found that the recent 
growth of Prussian constitutionalism was sufficiently vigorous 
to infringe on the royal prerogative, by opposing his darling 
project of army reform, his eyes turned eagerly towards the 
resolute and unscrupulous nobleman from whose agency he 
could alone expect success. 

The advent of Bismarck to power in 1862, was received, 
both in Prussia and throughout Germany, as a lamentable 
indication of the reactionary tendencies of the Prussian 
Court. The overbearing hauteur (indeed, positive contempt) 
with which the deputies, individually and collectively, were 
so frequently met by the Prussian Premier during the parlia- 
mentary debates, seemed calculated at any moment to produce 
revolution. But Bismarck, aided by other able men in the 
king's confidence, succeeded in retaining full command of the 
executive power, so that the military reorganisation was per- 
fected in spite of all opposition. Meanwhile Austria had also 
been busily employed in removing the causes to which she 
attributed her reverses in 1859. But the sincerity with 
which her monarch at last consented to enter upon the path of 
constitutional government, the general desire for peace, and 
the necessity for financial retrenchment, were causes which 
tended rather to the reduction, than increase, of her military 
establishment. At the same time, the proceedings at Berlin, 
coupled with the many evidences of Bismarck's ill-concealed 
hostility, created some uneasiness in the highest circles. 

With Lombardy lost, Venetia slipping from his grasp, at- 
tention to his dynastic interests in Germany appeared all the 
more necessary to the Emperor Francis Joseph. Fully alive 
to the fact, that the German Diet, as at present constituted, 
was viewed with great aversion by the nation at large, he 
prepared a project for its reform in 1863, and then convoked 



his fellow-sovereigns for its consideration, to Frankfurt. But 
Prussia ominously declined to accede to the summons, de- 
clared that the true interests of Germany and Prussia would 
not be forwarded by the plan in question, and loudly asserted 
her own right to coequal rank with Austria within the Con- 
federation. The Convocation consequently passed without 
results, and whilst the question was still pending, the King 
of Denmark died. No other event could possibly have better 
served the designs of the Prussian minister. How eagerly 
he grasped at the revival of the Schleswig-Holstein question 
is within the recollection of all ; but what is not so clearly 
understood is the fact, that a much more serious political 
problem was in connection with it, and that Bismarck was 
preparing, through the Elbe Duchies, to strike the death- 
blow to the German Confederation. 

Before embarking in the Dano-German war he found it, 
however, necessary to invite the co - operation of Austria. 
This was advisable, in order to remain fully master of the 
situation, inasmuch as a coalition of the minor German States, 
supported by various democratic elements, at one time 
threatened to take the initiative in carrying out the great 
object of national enthusiasm. Thus Austria, unwilling to 
abandon to her rival the sole prestige which the successful 
expulsion of the Danish element from Germany would inev- 
itably secure, soon found herself dragged into an unsought, 
inglorious war, which, in its consequences, was quickly to 
illustrate, for Prussia's benefit, her own false position in the 

No sooner had the purpose of the unequal contest — the 
severance of the Elbe Duchies from Denmark — been effected, 
than the different objects of the two Powers concerned became 
sufficiently apparent. Austria, in obedience to the force of 
circumstances which she had done nothing to create, and was 
powerless to control, had fought for the annexation of the 
provinces in question, under the rule of a legitimate German 
prince, to the existing Confederation. It was for her un- 
doubtedly the readiest and fairest manner of disposing of the 
difficulty. But Prussia had entered the lists with very differ- 
ent designs. Her first object was to annex for her own use 


territory which she had long coveted — by fair means if she 
could, by open rupture with Austria and the Confederation 
should her will be opposed. The general apathy with which 
the spoliation of Denmark had been viewed by the great 
Powers of Europe was therefore soon turned to account by the 
Prussian minister. Negotiations were at once opened with 
Austria for the surrender of Holstein, to which she held the 
common claim of conquest, in return for pecuniary indem- 
nification. But that Government had recently obtained too 
convincing evidence of Prussia's menacing ascendancy to 
consent willingly to an acquisition of territory, without equi- 
valent, which would soon establish her preponderance in the 
Confederation. She proposed an exchange which would 
restore to her some of her old Silesian possessions. This 
again was rejected by Prussia,, and so the relations of the two 
Courts soon became more and more difficult. In the mean- 
time it was necessary to adopt some provisional system of 
government in the Duchies themselves, which had remained 
after the war in a very unsettled condition. For this purpose, 
and with a view generally to arrange the matters in dispute, 
the two monarchs concerned met at Salzburg, in August 1865, 
and there concluded the treaty so well known as the Gastein 
Convention. It is probable that Count Bismarck was already 
convinced, in his own mind, that % peaceful solution of the 
question was not to be looked for; but he saw no objection to 
a gain of time which would enable him fully and quietly to 
complete his military preparations. It was a concession, too, 
to the royal mind, which regarded with natural reluctance the 
rupture with a dynasty so closely related. The advantages of 
geographical position were all equally in favour of Prussia, 
should the crisis culminate in war, so that the minister could 
well afford to allow matters to take their natural course. But 
the tension of the Courts increased, in spite of the Convention, 
which was soon violated by both parties in turn. Then 
followed the mutual recriminations which were published 
to Europe, and offered sufficient evidence of the aggressive 
designs which Bismarck, in full accord with Italy, still en- 
deavoured to conceal from the world. Ultimately Austria 
referred the entire question of the Elbe Duchies to the de- 


cision of the Diet, the authority of which body both Powers 
had recently set at nought. By this step Prussia declared 
herself released from the stipulations of the Gastein treaty,* 
and at once marched her troops into Holstein. The vote of 
the Diet was in favour of Austria ; but Prussia rejected its 
competency to decide the question, and immediately seceded 
from the Confederation. In the meantime, the Austrian 
troops which occupied Holstein, outnumbered, and separated 
entirely from their communications with the empire, were 
forced to abandon their ground, whilst a second vote for 
Federal execution against Prussia was carried by Austria at 
Frankfurt. The challenge thus offered was eagerly accepted 
by Prussia, and the war commenced. 

From an impartial consideration of the foregoing, the fol- 
lowing conclusions may therefore be arrived at : — 

That the house of Hapsburg, perpetuated in the present 
Austrian dynasty, maintained its leading position in Germany 
from the fifteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century, 
when it was first disputed by Frederick the Great : 

That the foreign possessions of that house prejudicially 
influenced its rule in Germany : 

That its tendency to sanction ecclesiastical intolerance, and 
to suppress freedom of thought, in great measure originated 
the Thirty Years' War : 

That the religious and political elements engendered dur- 
ing this protracted struggle, and subsequently utilised with 
marked ability by a succession of Hohenzollern princes, event- 
ually raised them to influence and power, as kings of Prussia : 

That henceforth the antagonism of the two dynasties, fed 
by jealousy and divergence of policy, commenced : 

That the collision which ensued, whilst it raised Prussia's 
position in Europe, did not effect Frederick's purpose of ex- 
pelling the Austrian dynasty from Germany : 

That during the French Eevolution, and Napoleon's era of 
victory and conquest, dynastic jealousies slumbered for the 
time under pressure of common interests : 

* By the terms of this treaty, Schleswig was occupied by Prussian, Holstein 
by Austrian troops, each of the Duchies being severally governed by the re- 
spective powers. 


That on the restoration of peace in 1815, in the place of 
the Empire, which had lost its political value, a Confederation 
of States was framed, with a Central Diet at Frankfurt : 

That by this means Austria recovered her old precedence ; 
for, where questions of importance arose, she was enabled to 
command a majority of votes by appealing, as the advocate 
of Conservatism, to separate dynastic interests : 

That, consequently, the Confederation was equally distaste- 
ful to Prussian ambition, thus legally held in check, and to 
the national party, whose aspirations for unity and constitu- 
tional freedom were systematically ignored : 

That the attempt to dissolve it in 1848 failed, in con- 
sequence of the pusillanimity of the Prussian King, and 
of want of unity of purpose on the part of the German 
peoples : 

That the recent difficulties of Austria in Italy, and her 
great financial distress, coupled with her present state of 
political transition — all transparent causes of internal weak- 
ness — presented a favourable opportunity for decisive action 
on the part of an enterprising rival : and, lastly — 

That this was turned to account by an able minister, in the 
interests of the Hohenzollern dynasty and for the aggrandise- 
ment of Prussia. 

The Act containing the Constitution of the German Con- 
federation, as signed by all parties concerned at the Congress 
of Vienna, professed " the preservation of the internal and 
external security of Germany, and the independence and in- 
violability of the various German States." So long, then, as 
this remained in force, it is clear that unity, in the national 
sense, and Prussian aggrandisement, were equally impossible. 
The overthrow of the Diet was indispensable to the realisation 
of either object. In counting his enemies, therefore, the 
Prussian minister must include all those German States 
which were interested in maintaining the existing state of 
things. Foremost amongst these were the four kingdoms — 
Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, and Wiirtemberg. Indeed the 
authority of the Diet was supposed to be supported by an 
army belonging to the Confederation, composed of contingents 
supplied by each State, according to its size and population. 


It numbered altogether, under ordinary circumstances, 500,000 
soldiers constantly kept under arms. 

Nearly three-fifths of this large force were contributed by 
the two leading States, and some 30,000 or 40,000 men might 
further be counted upon either as neutral or favourable to the 
Prussian cause. Still a formidable force of at least 150,000 
men would be ready to side with Austria, and to fight for 
the maintenance of the existing constitution. Further, if 
sufficient time were allowed for development, the private 
resources of the minor States, over and beyond the contingents 
supplied to the Federal army, would soon be thrown into the 
struggle, for the cause of the Diet was, in reality, that of their 
own independence. 

Such means, in addition to the whole military power of 
Austria, were decidedly superior to any which Prussia could 
command, however excellent her new system of organisation 
might prove in the result to be. Nor could Prussia expect, 
on the present occasion, to claim much popular sympathy. 
The national party would hardly desire to support the aims 
of a minister who had done his best to strangle liberty in the 
Prussian Parliament. In order to equalise the contest, it 
would therefore be necessary for Prussia to seek an ally. 
Probably the idea of a Prusso- Italian alliance had long 
presented itself to the acute mind of the Prussian minister. 
It offered political as well as military advantages of no mean 
order. It seemed likely to enlist the sympathies of the 
powerful sovereign who had already fought for the indepen- 
dence of Italy in 1859, at the same time that it would force 
Austria to divide her armies in the field, in order to defend 
opposite extremities of her empire. 

Since the peace of Villafranca, indeed, Italy had never 
ceased to proclaim her intention of seizing the first oppor- 
tunity of completing her emancipation from the hated Aus- 
trian dominion. When, therefore, the friendly hand of Prus- 
sia was stretched across the Alps, it was eagerly seized by the 
royal warrior, who so earnestly desired to complete his father's 
mission. The result was, the early conclusion of an offensive 
and defensive alliance, which bound each of the Powers con- 
cerned to remain in the field until the aims of both were 


accomplished. Thus Prussia aud Italy entered the lists 
against Austria supported by those States which had voted 
with her at Frankfurt. At first sight the combatants appeared 
evenly matched, and the result of the collision was awaited 
with intense anxiety throughout Europe. It remains then to 
consider, — 1st, the military forces of Austria ; 2dly, those of 
Prussia ; and lastly, those of the minor German States. 

The Austrian empire, as is well known, is situated nearly 
in the centre of Europe, and comprises a great diversity of 
nationalities, differing from each other in language, habits, and 
comparative civilisation. Amongst these, the German element 
had, from the earliest times, asserted its right to priority. The 
language of the Court, army (as represented by its officers), 
and administration was German. From Germany, too, may 
be traced the varying degrees of civilisation which characterise 
the several provinces. The number of inhabitants may be 
roughly estimated at 37,000,000, and the superficial area of 
the empire is considerably greater than that of France. Since 
the peace of Westphalia, Austria, or rather the dynasty, had 
constantly maintained a standing army. From that time to 
the present, no country in Europe has been called upon to 
engage so frequently in war, none has experienced, much less 
survived, similar military disaster. Considering the great at- 
tention which has always been paid to the army by the Aus- 
trian sovereigns, whose difficult, absolute rule was mainly 
reliant upon it, this last fact is somewhat remarkable. It 
may be traced to various causes : to the heterogeneous char- 
acter of the material which fills the ranks ; to the absence of 
national spirit, and the usual indifference of the soldier to the 
cause for which he is fighting ; to the want of that individual 
independence which can only be derived from free institu- 
tions ; to the crushing system of discipline, which sacrifices 
individuality to collective value ; and, lastly, to the difficulties 
of language which separate the soldier from his officers, to 
whom alone he looks for protection. 

For these reasons the Austrian infantry has always proved 
inferior to that of other powers with which it has recently 
been matched. The excellence of the other branches of the 
army has never been able to atone for this one fatal defect. 


The infantry of an army is its mainstay. A battle, it is true, 
may occasionally be decided by the vigorous action of cavalry, 
as was the case at Marengo ; sometimes be influenced by the 
happy concentration of artillery, as was seen at Wagram and 
Solferino ; but success can never be confidently relied upon in 
war, unless the fighting powers of the infantry may be fully 
trusted. The elements from which this power is extracted, 
are patriotism, national pride, intelligence, political content, 
military ardour, and general confidence in his superiors oh 
the part of the individual soldier ; in a secondary degree, it 
is due to careful training, manoeuvring power, excellence of 
arms, and appointments generally. If the professional ob- 
server may bear impartial testimony to the minute attention 
paid to tactical details, to the admirable physique and general 
powers of endurance displayed by the Austrian soldiers, he 
looks in vain for those higher qualities which in the long- 
run must ever prove decisive. The patriotism of the Austrian 
is restricted to the nationality to which he specially belongs ; 
his intelligence has been cramped by the feudal incubus 
which has so long denied to him the advantages of education ; 
military ardour is the offspring of a long course of national 
victories, as is political content that of internal wellbeing 
and municipal freedom, neither of which can he claim as his 
own ; — and if at last he refuses his confidence to the system 
which has so seldom rewarded his exertions with the sweets 
of victory, how can this form matter of surprise ? Neverthe- 
less, the Austrian army has always proved a most formidable 
engine of war, more especially from the obstinacy with which 
it has sustained continued defeat, and from the tenacity with 
which, in spite of this, its discipline and organisation have 
been preserved. The Thirty Years' War, the War of Spanish 
Succession, the Seven Years' War, the campaigns which ter- 
minated with the downfall of Napoleon, all bear witness 
to the staying powers which have formed its principal 
characteristic. The reason of this is not difficult to find. 
Austria, essentially an agricultural nation, with vast re- 
sources poorly developed, but without moneyed capital, is 
incapable of a rapid offensive effort; on the other hand, 
the amount of her population enables her to repair period- 


ical losses, and so to remain in the field with little com- 
parative effort. 

In spite of recent innovations, a strong medieval taint still 
adheres to the system of interior administration which char- 
acterises the Austrian army. The military jurisprudence is 
essentially feudal, both in spirit and practice; for the sub- 
ordinate, whether officer or private, practically there is no 
appeal against the arbitrary exercise of a superior's power. 
The judicial authority vested in the Inhalers, or full colonels 
of regiments, who also regulate all promotion up to the rank 
of field-officer, is, according to our ideas, excessive. No doubt 
the difficulty of introducing one uniform system of discipline 
into a military body composed of such various elements has 
impeded any reforming attempt to mitigate the evils which 
unquestionably exist. But the effect on the morale of the 
infantry, in particular, remains, and is easily noticed by the 
careful observer of its conduct in action. It is wanting in the 
intelligent elasticity which so peculiarly distinguishes the 
French soldier, for instance. The links of authority are pre- 
served with a pedantry so remarkable, throughout all grades, 
both in peace and war, that all responsibility of action, even 
under circumstances of decisive emergency, devolves upon the 
head of the army, producing that cumbrousness of movement 
which invariably offers the advantage of the initiative to an 
enemy. The regiments themselves vary greatly in quality, 
according to the race to which the soldiers belong. The best 
infantry regiments are unquestionably those recruited in the 
German provinces. In every struggle of recent date they 
have exhibited the highest military qualities, which have only 
served to render the deficiencies of Italian, Wallachian, and 
even Hungarian battalions still more prominent. It must 
doubtless be conceded, that the fidelity of troops, drawn from 
districts which for some time past have notoriously been 
politically disaffected, is of a very questionable character ; 
and if the terrible consequences of the too early surrender 
of a post like Chlum, or the Cascina Nuova at Magenta, be 
considered, a further element of the military weakness which 
has astonished Europe will be realised. The prestige which 
the Austrian army has hitherto retained, in spite of disaster, 


is probably due to the high spirit, the devotion, and esprit de 
corps of its regimental officers. Owing to the absence of a 
middle class in Austria, these are drawn principally from the 
territorial aristocracy, and from foreign countries ; to a limited 
extent they are promoted from the ranks. The differences of 
social rank, however, are not carried into the army ; a system 
of camaraderie, altogether unique in its character, originating, 
probably, in the isolated position, claimed for centuries past 
for the emperor's soldiers, distinguishes it from most other 
similar establishments. 

The staff of the Austrian army, forming a special corps, 
is composed, for the most part, of a highly-educated class of 
men. The plans of campaign, drawn up by its ablest mem- 
bers, though seldom successfully executed, are rarely deficient 
in strategical merit. It may, however, be earnestly ques- 
tioned whether the system of appointing competent officers 
for the inspiration of incompetent generals, who owe their 
positions to hereditary influence, can ever tend to the true 
interests of any army. No better illustration can be adduced 
of the feudal propensities of the service, than the list of 
Liechtensteins, Sehwarzenbergs, Gyulais, Stadions, &c, who, 
throughout successive generations, have held superior and 
highly responsible commands. Where military rank can be 
"inherited, of course the stimulus to that exertion which alone 
can lead to distinction and success is absent ; and conversely, 
where the road to well-earned position is effectually barred, 
individual energy is stunted, and turned into other, less profit- 
able, channels. 

The flower of the Austrian peoples congregates in the 
cavalry regiments, which are considered by competent judges 
some of the most perfect in Europe. The men are very care- 
fully picked from the better class of peasantry, and hard as 
their duties are, serve without reluctance. The officers all 
belong to the higher strata of society, as a rule are excellent 
horsemen, and have preserved much of the chivalric tone 
which characterised their arm in earlier centuries. Though 
present on almost all her battle-fields in sufficient force to 
make their decisive action felt, the mounted soldiers of Aus- 
tria have seldom found the leader who was willing or able to 


turn their splendid military qualities to account. The prin- 
cipal purpose which they have served has been to cover the 
retreat of defeated infantry — a thankless duty, always admir- 
ably performed. 

On a war footing, including her reserves, Austria could at 
this time place about 700,000 soldiers in the field, of which 
nearly 600,000 were infantry, 57,000 cavalry, and 60,000 
artillery, engineers, and pioneers. This force was organised 
into four distinct armies, each army consisting of two or more 
army corps. The heterogeneous character of the empire has 
greatly interfered with the organisation of the Austrian mili- 
tary forces ; the instances are rare where regiments remain in 
the districts where they are recruited, and any such system as 
that of Prussia would for this reason alone be impossible in 
the Austrian dominions. In 1848-49, for instance, the depot 
battalions of the Huugarian and Italian regiments deserted in 
a body, and subsequently formed the principal nucleus of the 
revolutionary forces. The Landwehr system had for some 
time past been abolished in Austria, but every man who had 
reached his twentieth year was liable to military service for a 
period of eight years in his regiment, and two more in the 
reserve, after which he was free. In times of peace this ser- 
vice was greatly curtailed by the furlough system, according 
to which those men whose services were not required were 
sent temporarily to their homes. The re-enlistment of old 
soldiers was encouraged by the Government, which for a stip- 
ulated sum undertook to procure substitutes for those who 
desired to be freed from service. 

The mobilisation of the army for active service requires 
time in Austria. In the eastern provinces of the empire, 
where population is scarce, distances are great, and means of 
communication very indifferent, the furloughcd men are not 
always available at a moment's notice. When mustered, the 
soldier first joins his depot, where his arms, appointments, and 
clothes are stored, thence he is gradually drafted to his regi- 
ment, probably on some distant frontier. Railway communi- 
cation is scanty in the Austrian dominions ; for the purposes 
of such armies as are now required in the field, for the rapid 
passage of troops, materials, and the enormous amount of sub- 


sisting stores required, altogether insufficient. If it be added, 
that for very many years past the national expenditure of the 
empire — virtually uncontrolled — has far exceeded its revenue, 
— that constant military requirements have drained its avail- 
able resources, whilst its credit abroad has been exhausted in 
a succession of loans,— the terrible disadvantages under which 
Austria entered upon the present war may, to a certain extent, 
be realised. 

The troops which Austria had succeeded in equipping, after 
preparations which had been commenced early in 1866, may 
be estimated at about 500,000 men. Of these, at least 
280,000 were employed in Italy, Hungary, and other parts 
of the empire, so that the force about to assemble in Bohemia 
never exceeded 220,000 men of all arms. These formed 
seven army corps, which were commanded as follows : — 

The 1st by Count Clam-Gallas. 
2d „ Count Charles Thun. 
3d „ Archduke Ernest. 
4th ,, Count Festitits. 
6th „ Baron Hamming. 
8th „ Archduke Leopold. 
10th „ Baron Gablenz. 

To these must be added five cavalry divisions under Baron 
J^delsheiru, Prince Thurn and Taxis, Prince Gliicksburg, Count 
Coudenhore, Major-General Zaitschek. 

It is confidently stated, that when Prussia commenced the 
war, but half of the regiments composing the above commands 
had reached the positions designed for them — that portion of 
the army which was most ready for service having been sent 
to Italy, where the outbreak of hostilities was considered most 
imminent. The whole force was placed under the supreme 
command of Feldzeugmeister Benedek, in whom army and 
nation alike placed unbounded confidence. With him was 
Baron Henickstein, an officer of some repute, as chief of the 
staff. The concentration of the army had been carefully 
shrouded from observation, and there is reason to believe that 
the confident tone assumed by Austria was intended either to 
avert war altogether,, or to gain the time which was indis- 
pensable to the full development of her power. 


The infantry were armed with the Lorenz rifle, and the 
artillery with muzzle-loaders. 

Of all armies in Europe, none probably has been made the 
subject of more scientific study than that of Prussia. King- 
William was not in error when he attributed the European 
prominence which Prussia has so rapidly and successfully 
asserted in great measure to the splendid development of her 
military resources. 

The Brandenburg infantry first made itself a name under 
the Great Elector, and later again whilst serving the German 
Emperor in the War of Spanish Succession. 

So admirable, too, was the system of economy introduced 
in all branches of military administration by Frederick, that, 
at his death, although Prussia numbered little more than 
6,000,000 of inhabitants, an army of 200,000 men, including 
40,000 cavalry, was kept on a war footing at an annual cost 
of about one million and a half sterling. 

But many of the characteristics still retained by the Prus- 
sian army are due to the agency of Prince Maurice of Dessau, 
during the reign of Frederick William I. Extreme discipline, 
and great perfection in drill, insured an amount of flexibility, 
and manoeuvring power on the field of battle, which Frede- 
rick's genius quickly turned to account in his Silesian cam- 
paigns, and during the Seven Years' War. 

A long course of victory is apt, however, to induce a nation 
to pin its faith too rigidly to the system under which its suc- 
cesses have been earned. Since the introduction of firearms 
the military art has constantly progressed ; and no army can 
afford to rest long upon its laurels. In 1806, the tactics 
which had carried Frederick to victory collapsed before the 
genius of Napoleon, to an extent that endangered the national 
existence. The lesson sank deeply into the minds of the 
younger generation of Prussian leaders; and during the 
sorrowful years of French occupation Scharnhorst devised the 
system which bore such glorious fruits in the War of Libera- 
tion. In 1814, when Prussia had regained the position she 
lost at Jena, she suddenly found herself called upon to main- 
tain a military establishment considerably beyond her means. 
Her one aim, however, was to preserve, at any sacrifice, her 


claim to coequal rank with the other great Powers. With less 
territory, inferior population, and poorer pecuniary resources, 
this was no easy matter. But the spirit of the Great Frede- 
rick had remained with his people. They accepted the Land- 
wehr system, tantamount to universal conscription, which, 
subject to occasional alterations, has remained in force to the 
present day. Since this war, all the leading States of Europe 
have studied the method by which Prussia has succeeded in 
solving the difficult problem of producing a maximum of 
military power with a minimum of expenditure. 

In Prussia, every able-bodied man, without distinction of 
rank, must personally perform his military duty. The mate- 
rial thus gained by universal conscription was at this time 
divided into — 

1. The standing army. 

2. Its reserves. 

3. 1st levy of Landwehr. 

4. 2d do. do. 

5. Landsturm. 

Each recruit on joining served for three years — from twenty 
to twenty-three — with his regiment ; and then for four more 
y ears — f r0 m twenty-three to twenty-seven — on furlough in 
^.the reserve. So far the system was analogous to that of 
Austria, except that the period of service was shorter by three 
years, and that the furloughs were better regulated. Assuming 
the number of recruits annually called up at that time to be 
about 60,000,* the men paid, and actually present with their 
regiments in time of peace, would muster 180,000 strong, 
without the reserves ; with these, when the army was mobil- 
ised, it would step into the field with 420,000 soldiers, in- 
cluding depots, before any appeal to the Landwehr was made. 
This was the first important result of the reorganisation 
of 1859. Previously, under a similar system, but with a 
muster of 40,000 recruits only annually, with three years' 
service with their regiments, but with two only in the 
reserve, the standing army formed but 120,000 men without, 
200,000 with, the reserves. The consequence was, that the 
first levy of the Landwehr invariably accompanied the regular 

* These numbers are approximate only. 


army into the field, the Lanclwehr being then divided into two 
levies, composed of men from twenty-five to thirty-two, and 
from thirty-two to thirty-five years of age respectively. Now 
the Prussian Landwehr tallies in many respects with our own 
militia, but with this important difference, that whereas our 
regiments, when first embodied, are composed of raw recruits 
without training or discipline, the Prussian Landwehr consists 
of men who have certainly served three years with their reg- 
ular regiments, perhaps more, and who are consequently both 
trained and disciplined. Still, on retiring to the Landwehr, 
the Prussian soldier considers his services as practically dis- 
pensed with ; he marries, takes to trade, and often acquires 
habits which interfere with his military efficiency. Thus the 
summons to the regimental standards in 1848, 1850, was very 
reluctantly obeyed by this class of men, and seriously com- 
promised the State policy. It was found, too, that the officers 
and non-commissioned officers of the Landwehr were often 
barely up to their duties, and were, consequently, frequently 
exchanged at the last moment to the line, by which grave 
detriment to the service was occasioned. The new system, by 
increasing the strength of the annual levies, as well as the 
period of reserve service, removed those defects ; for the 
regular army alone was quite equal in strength to the regular 
army, plus the first Landwehr levy under the old regulation, 
and this without material increase of expense. Indeed, the 
first Landwehr levy, producing quite 190,000 men, was called 
upon for garrison duties only, and not necessarily to take its 
place with the standing army in the field as before. The 
second levy, equal to 110,000 men, was also liable, if needed, 
to be called out for similar purposes. Thus the total force 
which Prussia could wield in case of war, exclusive of the 
Landsturm, which enlisted the services of all between the ages 
of seventeen and forty-nine who were not serving in either 
line or Landwehr, amounted approximately to — 

Standing army, 
Reserves, . 
1st Landwehr levy, 
2d do. 





— a prodigious power if Prussia's population be then estimated 
at twenty-two millions of souls. 

By this arrangement two great points were already gained ; 
the whole of the material obtained by universal conscription 
was gradually trained throughout a course of years to military 
duties, whilst the force actually under arms, paid and main- 
tained by the State, was comparatively small, and sat lightly 
upon the national purse. But this is not all that is demanded 
from a military system by the exigencies of the present day. 
It is not enough to possess the material, and to hold it at a 
small expense, organisation is required, which will enable it 
to take the field at the shortest possible notice. The political 
power of a great State, possessing vast latent resources, may 
unquestionably now be destroyed for a long period, if these 
cannot be developed. Thus it is necessary that every system 
should possess that amount of elasticity which will enable it 
to augment rapidly, or to reduce according to circumstances. 

No State has hitherto devised the means to this end with 
such ingenuity as Prussia. Her army, both in peace and war, 
was divided into eight army corps, and the Guard, which 
formed the ninth. These corresponded with the number of 
provinces into which the kingdom was divided: 1, Prussia; 
2, Pomerania ; 3, Brandenburg ; 4, Saxony ; 5, Posen ; 6, 
Silesia; 7, Westphalia; 8, Khenish Provinces. Each garri- 
soned its own province, and each regiment its own garrison 
town, from which, in time of peace, it was never removed. 
In most instances, the officers also served in their own pro- 
vincial regiments, and, like the men, were all more or less 
known to each other. The corps consisted of two divisions 
of infantry equal to twenty-four battalions, each 1002 strong 
on a war footing ; six regiments of cavalry ; and two regi- 
ments of artillery, with ninety-six guns. The same general 
who commanded it during time of peace, was also intrusted 
with its mobilisation, and led it in the field. It was. an 
admirable unit of organisation for administrative purposes, as 
the number of men composing it corresponded exactly with 
that raised for the standing army from the province to which 
it belonged. Each district, and consequently each army 
corps, possessed its own general staff, commissariat, auditorial 


its own chaplains and medical staff, and its own arsenal. In 
this was stored all that applied to instant preparation for the 
field — clothing, arms, transport, ambulances, hospital stores, 
&c. The elasticity of this army unit depended upon the 
strength of companies. Every battalion in the army contained 
but four companies, numbering, in time of peace, 518 men. 
This number was increased in time of war to 1002, by calling 
in the reserves, and the important augmentation of a mobilised 
army thus principally effected. 

An army may be mobilised in part or altogether, according 
to emergency. The process of mobilisation includes, — 1. The 
tilling up of the line regiments to their war strength ; 2. The 
formation of depot battalions, composed of reserves and re- 
cruits, which are drafted to the battalions in the field, to 
supply the waste of war ; 3. The formation of the Landwehr 
regiments for garrison duties, by calling in the men, and ap- 
pointing the necessary staff; 4. The increase of the administra- 
tive departments ; 5. The formation of headquarter staffs for each 
district, to supply the place of those about to take the field. 

The important peculiarity of these measures in Prussia is, 
that in peace everything is, or should be, kept ready for 
instant mobilisation. Every officer and official knows during 
peace the post and duties which will devolve on him in case 
of war, and is ready to commence these without special 
instructions, or time-wasting explanations. 

The demand for officers occasioned by mobilisation was sup- 
plied by promoting cadets from the military colleges, as well 
as deserving non-commissioned officers. A strong infusion of 
line officers was also drafted to the Landwehr, the officers of 
which, as a rule, were country gentlemen in the districts to 
which the regiments belonged. This step was rendered easy, 
from the intimate connection which existed between line and 
Landwehr regiments in their own districts. 

The time then required by Prussia for the successive 
development of her forces for active service may be reckoned 
as follows : — 

Line regiments, 14 days. 

Depot battalions, and 1st Landwehr levy, . 4 weeks. 

2d Landwehr levy, „ 

2 A 


So that, in the course of two months, the whole of her vast 
military power could be gradually unfolded. 

Lastly, the entire Prussian army was armed with the needle 
rifle, a breech-loading firearm, which Prussia alone, of all the 
great Powers of Europe, had thought fit to introduce. Its 
properties were amply tested in the Danish war, and fully 
satisfied Prussian officers as to its extraordinary merits in 
action when opposed to the ordinary rifle. The artillery were 
provided with breech-loading field-guns. 

It is desirable to observe, that the reformed system of 1859, 
of which the above is necessarily a very imperfect outline, 
had not yet had sufficient time to get into full working order. 
Seven years were requisite to effect this, a portion of which 
only had lapsed at the commencement of the war ; so that, in 
many instances, measures were extemporised in the spirit of 
the new system. 

A comparison between the Austrian and Prussian armies 
offers many points of essential difference. Indeed it would 
be difficult to find two bodies in which the most important 
features are so entirely antagonistic. The Prussian army, 
with the exception of the Polish element, was homogeneous 
throughout, one language existing for officers and men. In 
Austria, five distinct races supplied the material for her regi- 
ments — Germans, Hungarians, Sclavonians, Italians, and 
\Vallachians — each containing internal elements of difference 
and discord. Prussia claimed nineteen years of liability to 
military service from every citizen, whilst Austria demanded 
but ten. In Prussia, the perfection of a great military system, 
initiated at the commencement of the eighteenth century, 
reformed in 1814, and adapted in 1859 — based, too, on the solid 
foundation of national interest — had been consistently followed 
up, and ultimately worked out. On the other hand, each suc- 
cessive defeat had led, in Austria, to constant change, based 
more upon the expediency of the hour, than on sound and 
permanent principle. In Prussia, again, an element of great 
moral strength was gained from the earlier local associations, 
which knitted the officers and men of each military district in 
one firm bond of union. In Austria, many of the recruiting 
districts furnished men of distinct, and sometimes antagonistic 


race, to one and the same regiment — disunion characterising 
the source itself from which the supply was obtained. Further, 
the education of all classes in Prussia compared most favour- 
ably with the standard existing in countries possessing even a 
higher grade of civilisation, and more fully developed political 
institutions. As a consequence, the Prussian army might justly 
be considered the most intelligent in Europe, as it certainly was 
the most respectable in its bearing in the field. Murder and 
plunder rarely accompanied its march ; a general was seldom 
called upon to add vigour to the soldier's action by the promise 
of loot. The object of a war was clearly comprehended, and the 
soldier fought his way to the end of it. In Austria, but little 
had been done to civilise or educate a large proportion of the 
populations belonging to the empire. The ignorance prevalent 
amongst the peasantry in the Tyrol, Styria, many parts of 
Hungary, Galicia, and Transylvania, was notorious, and 
formed one of the chief difficulties with which the army has 
had to contend in late wars. The day is past when power 
can be based upon general ignorance of existing conditions, 
and that State which rests its faith upon it will never again 
be placed in the international race. If it be urged that an 
army recruited and disciplined on the Austrian principle is, 
as a rule, more handy for State purposes, and less likely to 
question its policy ; it must be conceded, on the other, that 
the Prussian system is admirable for national defence, as well 
as in any cause which is intelligible to the nation, and in 
accordance with its aspirations. There is no doubt that the 
system produces great inconveniences, and is a heavy bur- 
den to the peoples. It is no small thing that these should be 
asked for twenty years of their life to leave their homes and 
shoulder their rifles at a moment's notice. But this very fact 
would seem eventually to act as a security against unjust 
aggression, as the check-string of the nation against the pos- 
sible propensities of its ruler, in all future times. 

Considering the Prussian army, in point of force, organisa- 
tion, manoeuvring power, discipline, and arms, as it is now 
known, it certainly appears remarkable that it should not 
have attracted earlier observation. The fact is, that Prussia 
had been viewed by the other great European Powers rather 


iu the light of a political parvenu. The crushing defeat she 
sustained at Jena has been more prominently placed before the 
world than her admirable action in 1813-14-15, for which 
sufficient merit has as yet, perhaps, been barely claimed for 
her. The political discontent, too, which has agitated the 
intelligent peoples of Germany since 1815, has impaired, in 
the public eye, the value of a system which is based upon 
an entire population. The long period of peace, which 
enabled Prussia so happily to improve and consolidate her 
resources, had this disadvantage, that it prevented her from 
ascertaining the weak points of the valuable legacy which 
Scharnhorst bequeathed to his country. But officers who 
have mastered the experience, and share the intelligence, of 
such men as Bulow, Clausewitz, Gneisenau, and Muffling, 
have not been slow to remedy defects so soon as opportunity 
had laid them bare. The masterly action of the Prussian 
staff has of late been everywhere visible. Whether in tactics, 
strategy, organisation, or arms, their intelligent application of 
all that has hitherto been known in war, has certainly entitled 
them to the respect and admiration of all soldiers whose pro- 
fession is dear to them. Still more remarkable is it, that the 
one Power which was most interested in all that pertained to 
military progress in Prussia, should have remained so utterly 
ignorant of the importance of the recent changes introduced. 
It can only be explained by the conviction, on Austria's part, 
that the system which collapsed in 1850 must again prove 
valueless in 1866 — a conclusion which certainly indicates want 
of perception on the part of those whose duty it was to report 
on the subject. 

The nine army corps of the Prussian field-army were com- 
manded as follows : — 

The Guard, headquarters Berlin, recruited from all provinces of 

the kingdom, Prince August of Wiirtemberg. 
The 1st corps, Konigsberg, General Bonin. 
The 2d, Berlin, the Crown Prince of Prussia. 
* The 3d, Berlin, Prince Frederick Charles. 
The 4th, Magdeburg, General Schach. 

The 3d and 4th army corps were broken up by Prince Frederick 
Charles at the commencement of war, and manoeuvred by divisions. 


The 5th, Posen, General Steinmetz. 

The 6th, Breslau, General Mutiu.s. 

The 7th, Miinster, General Vogel von Falkenstein. 

The 8th, Coblenz, General Herwarth von Bittenfeld. 

The proper headquarters of the 2d corps was Stettin ; of the 
3d, Frankfurt on the Oder. They were removed to Berlin for 
the convenience of the royal princes who commanded them. 

For purposes of war, the whole force was divided into 
three armies, over which the King in person assumed the 
chief command. In this he was assisted by General Von 
Roon, as Minister of War, and by General Moltke, who acted 
as Chief of the Staff. 

The 1st Army, consisting of the 2d, 3d, and 4th army 
corps and the cavalry of the Guard, was commanded by 
Prince Frederick Charles. 

The 2d Army, composed of the Guard, 1st, 5th, and 6th 
corps, by the Crown Prince. 

The Elbe Army, with the 8th and one division of the 7th 
corps, was placed under General Herwarth of Bittenfeld. 

General Manteuffel commanded a mixed force in the Elbe 
Duchies; and some of the regiments belonging to the 8th 
corps, which had formed the garrisons of the Federal fortresses 
Rastadt and Mayence, had been withdrawn from there, but 
left at Wetzlar, at the head of the valley of the Lahn. 

Further, a reserve corps of Landwehr regiments was formed 
at once at Berlin, and placed under command of General von 
der Mulbe. Indeed the whole of the field-army, as well as the 
first levy of Landwehr, was mobilised by the end of May, and 
a part of the second levy with the commencement of hostili- 
ties. Altogether, the field-army which Prussia was about to 
oppose to Austria, on her Bohemian frontiers, amounted to 
fully 290,000 effective soldiers. This large force was con- 
stantly fed from the depot battalions in each district, and 
was supported in second line by the first levy of the Land- 
wehr, which, assisted by the second levy, also garrisoned 
the fortresses. It is confidently stated that by the 1st July 
Prussia had 600,000 soldiers under arms; the best eulogy 
which can be paid to a system which requires to be care- 
fully studied in order to be understood, and which certainly 


surpasses, both in conception and execution, all which have 
ever preceded it. 

The allies of Austria in Germany were — 

Bavaria, Baden, Saxe-Meiningen, 

Saxony, Hesse-Cassel, Reuss-Greitz, 

Hanover, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Homburg. 

Wiirtemberg, Nassau, 

The military contingents supplied to the Confederation by 
these several States amounted in round numbers to about 
160,000 men. But this by no means represented the total of 
their joint military resources. With a collective population 
of fourteen millions, if sufficient time were accorded to them 
for development, a very considerable force might be placed by 
the side of Austria in the field. In point of political influ- 
ence, as well as of military power, Bavaria took the leading- 
position. With an old history of her own, and with certain 
more recent aspirations to the leadership of Southern Ger- 
many, she was likely to prove at once a formidable enemy 
and a most valuable ally. But the self-interest which natu- 
rally characterised her State policy, would barely admit of any 
decided course of action on her part at the commencement of 
the war. Once quieted on the score of Prussian aggrandising 
tendencies, she might reap more benefit from a Prussian than 
from an Austrian alliance, though by religion and dynastic ties 
she was more closely related to this last Power. On the other 
hand, if Prussia could not be trusted, the preservation of her 
independence as a State forced her into the arms of Austria. 
This last motive had proved predominant, and decided, ulti- 
mately, her espousal of the Austrian cause. The minister 
who led her foreign policy, whether from closer knowledge of 
the internal causes of weakness at work in the Austrian em- 
pire, or from other causes at present not clearly defined, was 
not altogether in accord with the sentiments of the people and 
army, who were cordially anti-Prussian in their sympathies. 
This influence, as we shall presently see, was reflected in the 
subsequent conduct of military operations. Nor were the 
reasons for a vacillating course of action by any means con- 
fined to this kingdom alone. They prevailed in Hanover, 
Nassau, and especially in Baden, the ruler of which last duchy 


was son-in-law to the King of Prussia. Thus, geographical 
position, popular feeling, and dynastic relationship, all com- 
bined to produce an amount of uncertainty, which depended 
in great measure upon the development of events for ultimate 
decision. If we consider that none of these minor States 
had been engaged in active war since 1815, that their pecuni- 
ary resources were limited, and their military organisation 
defective ; if we bear in mind that each State had its own 
special interests, whether dynastic or territorial, to defend, 
that each varied from the other in military system, drill, and 
armaments, and that all were totally unprepared for instant 
action, — it is evident that in case of energetic assumption of the 
initiative by Prussia, the co-operation from this side, which 
was so indispensable to Austria in her double struggle, could 
hardly be relied upon with just confidence. 

The army of the Confederation was organised in ten separ- 
ate corps. Of these, the 7th, supplied entirely by Bavaria, 
and the 8th, composed of the Wiirtemberg, Baden, and Hesse- 
Darmstadt contingents, had alone remained unimpaired owing 
to the secession of other States. Both now prepared for hos- 
tilities : the former under the command of Prince Charles of 
Bavaria ; the latter, augmented by the other allied contingents 
— exclusive of Hanover and Saxony, which would probably 
be called upon for separate action — under the leadership of 
Prince Alexander of Hesse, an officer who had earned distinc- 
tion both in the service of Russia and on the fields of Monte- 
bello and Solferino. 

The Prussian monarchy, before the war, was composed of 
three distinct territories, very different from each other in 
size. The first, or eastern portion, extended from nearly the 
centre of Germany to the frontiers of Russia and the Baltic. 
The second, or western portion, smaller in extent, and divided 
altogether from the former by a strip of land between thirty 
and forty miles in width, began on the frontier of Holland, 
Belgium, and France, and reached the river Weser. The 
third portion consisted of the small Principalities of Hohen- 
zollern, enclosed within the States of Baden and Wiirtem- 
berg. The land frontiers of Prussia were : 1st, of the eastern 
portion, — Russia and Poland on the east ; Austria, Saxony, and 


Thuringia on the south; Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Brunswick, 
Mecklenburg, on the west. 2d, of the western portion, — Hol- 
land and Hanover on the north ; Lippe, Brunswick, Hanover, 
Hesse-Cassel, Waldeck, Hesse-Darmstadt, Nassau, and Bhen- 
ish Bavaria on the east; France on the south; Luxembourg, 
Holland, and Belgium on the west. 

Now, the division of her territory by the smaller interven- 
ing States had always been an eyesore to Prussia. It was 
also a source of military weakness, as increasing the extent 
of frontier she would have to defend. This was one great 
reason why the acquisition of Hanover had formed the prin- 
cipal object of her foreign policy in former years. Free and 
unimpeded communication with her rich western provinces 
was now more than ever necessary, in order to enable Prussia 
to engage her powerful adversary on the Silesian frontier on 
sufficiently favourable terms. Nor would it be prudent, at 
the commencement of what might prove a desperate struggle, 
to leave a State like Hanover, with a small but compact 
military force, in a position of doubtful neutrality, immedi- 
ately in her rear. The first necessary step would therefore 
appear to be the occupation of Hanover and Hesse-Cassel, 
with the double object of mastering the communications 
which traversed those States from east to west, and of neutral- 
ising contingents which otherwise would soon find their way 
into the enemy's camp. 

Still more pressing considerations prompted the simultane- 
ous seizure of Saxony. The attitude of this last kingdom had 
been openly hostile throughout the recent complications. 
Moreover, the strategic value of Saxon territory to either 
belligerent could not be over-estimated ; to Prussia, whether 
for offence or defence, it was paramount. An Austrian army, 
settled in Saxony in sufficient force, would directly menace 
the Prussian capital, which no obstacle, natural or artificial, 
protects. In case of its advance upon Berlin — the objective 
loudly proclaimed from Vienna — the Prussian troops occupy- 
ing Silesia must necessarily be withdrawn for the defence of 
that city, and the much-cherished province thus be subjected 
to invasion. At Dresden, too, the lines of railway meet by 
which Austria would soon effect the all-important communi- 


cation with her western German allies. Conversely, by the 
early occupation of Saxony, the northern issues of the moun- 
tain denies which connect Bohemia with that kingdom, would 
be gained for Prussia. These she might either hold defen- 
sively, or use for the invasion of Austrian soil ; whilst by the 
lateral railway, stretching from Cassel through Leipzig, Dres- 
den, and Breslau, she would possess unbroken communication 
along her whole extent of front. Vigorous assumption of the 
initiative, therefore, was indispensable to the successful com- 
mencement of the great struggle which Prussia had under- 
taken. But in admitting the commanding weight of military 
considerations, it is difficult to sanction the measures by 
which the Prussian minister advanced towards his ends. The 
crooked course he thought fit to pursue, towards Hanover 
especially, will probably entail the censure of later historians. 
The ministers of that kingdom had soon recoguised the dangers 
which loomed for it in the future. To avert these, which 
threatened its independence, had been their sole, and honest, 
object. Safety was sought in a course of absolute, rigid 
neutrality. Thus the Austrian troops retiring from Holstein 
were not permitted to remain on Hanoverian territory, valu- 
able as their co-operation must have proved in the war which 
was so soon to commence. Nor was the slightest preparation 
made for future military action. As complications increased, the 
Government based its course on the sole existing legal ground 
— the Act of the Federal Constitution, from which Prussia 
released herself by seceding. When, therefore, Count Bis- 
marck's summons — demanding from King George the virtual 
surrender of his own sovereign rights and of the independence 
of his kingdom in favour of Prussia, under penalty of incur- 
ring hostile action at the expiration of twenty-four hours in 
case of refusal — arrived on the 15th June, the indignation 
caused by a measure at once so harsh and so violent may be 
readily conceived. The protest which the King has since pub- 
lished to Europe exposes the hardship of his case, as well as 
the duplicity of which he was the victim. But there are 
moments in the history of nations where individual right, 
however exalted, cedes to the pressure of a higher necessity. 
To the separate sovereign rights of her princes, Germany truly 


traced the causes of her political impotence. Against the 
unnatural division which so long had kept her giant strength 
in chains, she had loudly, and yet so uselessly, protested. 
The justification of the means employed must be sought in 
the grandeur of the cause, which each successive month may 
tend to realise. 

However unscrupulous the conduct of the Prussian minister 
may be considered, there can be no question as to the ability 
with which his plans had been thought out. The test of this 
is found in the accuracy with which events were forestalled, 
and in rapidity of action under emergency. Count Bismarck 
was well aware that the summons which he despatched 
simultaneously to Hanover, Saxony, and Hesse-Cassel, must 
be rejected, and his military measures were prepared accord- 

The Prussian army, organised as we have already seen, had 
quietly settled down, during the first days of June, into the 
following positions. The headquarters of Prince Frederick 
Charles, who commanded the 1st army, were placed at Gor- 
litz, in Silesia, on the extreme eastern Saxon frontier. One 
day's march would carry him across to Lobau, and place 
in his possession the line of railway leading from Dres- 
den, through Eeichenberg, to Koniggratz and Pardubitz in 

General Herwarth, commanding the Elbe army, was 
waiting near Strehla to seize the important junction of Eiesa, 
where the railway lines from Leipzig in the west, and from 
Berlin in the north, united on their common course to 

The Crown Prince, whose army had been pushed down 
towards the southern extremities of Silesia, was posted with 
his headquarters at the little fortress of Neisse, whence, cen- 
trally situated, he could either cross into Austrian territory 
or unite with the 1st army, according to circumstances. 

On the Hanoverian frontiers two Prussian divisions had 
been concentrated, prepared to march from opposite quarters 
upon the capital. One of these, under General Manteuffel, 
consisting of the regiments which had recently marched down 
from Schleswig, was massed at Harburg, ready to cross the 


Elbe at that point. The other, belonging to the 7th army- 
corps, commanded by General Vogel von Falkenstein, occupied 
Minden, on the Weser, whence two short marches across the 
little territory of Lippe would carry it into the immediate 
neighbourhood of the Hanoverian capital. 

Farther to the south, on the frontiers of Hesse-Cassel and 
Nassau, close to the Wetzlar railway junction, General Beyer 
was encamped with the troops which had been withdrawn 
from Eastadt and Mayence, augmented by a few battalions 
from the Rhine depots. His duty would be to seize the line 
of railway which connects Frankfurt and the towns south of 
the Maine with the north of Germany, then to march upon 
Cassel, the capital of the Electorate. 

These several detachments, under Manteuffel, Falkenstein, 
and Beyer, on the 15th of June numbered altogether about 
45,000 men ; by a converging movement from the north, 
west, and south they purposed to unite, in order to frustrate 
any attempt on the part of the King of Hanover to concen- 
trate his army. They were shortly to be reinforced by regi- 
ments of the second Landwehr levy, which were now being 
rapidly completed. 

The refusal of the three States concerned to comply with 
Prussia's demands, was responded to by the immediate in- 
vasion of their territory during the night of the 15th and 
16th of June. This their sovereigns had of course anticipated, 
and though their time was short, had issued their instructions 
accordingly. The Hanoverian forces were ordered to concen- 
trate, from different parts, at the little town of Gottingen, 
situated at the southern extremity of the kingdom. The 
King's object evidently was, to gain a position which he 
might hold successfully, if supported by the Federal troops 
assembling on the Maine, or from which he could retire to 
unite with them in the neighbourhood of Frankfurt, should 
circumstances so compel him. The assembly of his troops 
was successfully and very rapidly effected, but in the extreme 
hurry of departure it had been found impossible to provide 
the army with all that was necessary to maintain its efficiency 
in the field. The troops present in Gottingen consisted of 
eighteen regiments of infantry, six weak cavalry regiments, 


and fifty-six guns. The men were already much fatigued by 
the forced marches which their concentration had entailed ; 
their ammunition, too, was deficient ; and the difficulties of 
subsistence soon made themselves felt. Under these cir- 
cumstances it was deemed advisable to halt for three days 
at Gottingen, with a view to introduce the order and organi- 
sation necessary for field purposes, as well as to obtain the 
necessary information regarding hostile movements, and to 
communicate with the southern allies. The King had left 
his capital on the 16th of June, and joined the army at 
Gottingen on the day following. Meanwhile the Prussians 
had entered Hanover, and soon took up the pursuit. The 
pressure of the advance of Generals Manteuffel and Falken- 
stein, now united, from the north, and the report of Beyer's 
march through Giessen and Marburg, from the south, upon 
Cassel, by which the direct retreat of the Hanoverians upon 
Frankfurt was intercepted, forced these at last to move. 
The Federals on the Maine, distant but three good marches, 
had not yet stirred, and the only outlet for escape led through 
territory belonging to the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who 
had already declared himself the ally of Prussia. On the 
21st of June, the Hanoverians commenced their march 
upon Gotha, by way of Muhlhausen, which last town they 
occupied on the 23d. The Prussians, principally intent 
upon the impending invasion of Bohemia, had only left a 
few battalions in Thuringia to maintain communication with 
the west, and to hold the Cassel -Leipzig -Dresden line of 
railway. Seven battalions of infantry, including the Saxe- 
Coburg regiment, a squadron of cavalry, and four guns, were, 
however, hastily called together, so soon as the direction of 
the Hanoverian march was ascertained, and posted strongly 
across the Coburg road in the vicinity of Gotha, prepared 
to dispute the further retreat of the King. This force was 
manifestly insufficient for the purpose, and had the King at 
once attacked with vigour, his object of joining the Bava- 
rians, who were now feebly demonstrating from the south, 
would probably have been effected without much difficulty. 
Unfortunately for himself he over-estimated the Prussian 
numbers, and, under the influence of depression, enlisted the 


services of the Duke of Coburg, with a view to negotiate with 
the Court at Berlin. The delay thus occasioned proved fatal 
to the king's interests. Falkenstein and Beyer having united 
at Cassel, pushed their battalions rapidly forward by rail to 
Eisenach, whilst Manteuffel was approaching from the north 
by the Miihlhausen road. Their object had been to gain 
sufficient time to surround the Hanoverians, who, from all 
accounts, were suffering severe privations, in order to force 
them to a speedy capitulation. There can be little doubt that 
at this early period of the war, when Prussia was on the 
point of closing with her principal adversary, great import- 
ance was attached to the surrender of the Hanoverian army. 
It was not only that the troops themselves were stanch and 
good, but their junction with the Federals at Frankfurt was 
regarded with some little anxiety, from the fact that Prussia 
had stripped her western districts, with a view to overwhelm 
Benedek by a great offensive effort. So soon, therefore, as 
the concentric manoeuvre which was to decide the fate of 
King George's brave little army was completed, the tone of 
the negotiations was altogether changed. Too late the King 
perceived the ruse of which he had been made the dupe ; 
but, though his cause was lost, the spirit of his race is glori- 
ously reflected in his subsequent action. Spurning to tarnish 
the last days of the bright history of his soldiers with dis- 
grace, he fell back from before Gotha, and recrossed into 
Prussian territory at Langensalza, in order to place his army 
in the strong defensive position of Merxleben. 

Here he was somewhat prematurely attacked by the 
Prussian General Flies on the 27th of June, who was con- 
sequently repulsed with very considerable loss ; but on the 
following day Falkenstein closed in from all sides, and on 
the 29th of June, to save further useless effusion of blood, 
King George capitulated, with the whole of his army. The 
officers retained their arms, horses, and baggage; but the 
men were disarmed, and, on condition of not serving during 
the war against Prussia, dismissed to their homes. 

The King of Hanover has since complained of the want 
of good faith displayed by Prussia on this occasion. It is 
almost useless to say that such complaints are, for the most 


part, unfounded. It is not by hard righting alone that 
success in war is attained. Under circumstances of emer- 
gency, wit and readiness of resource are always turned to 
profitable account, the advantage remaining with the more 
skilful antagonist. By similar means Blucher effected his 
retreat on the same ground, after the double catastrophe at 
Jena and Auerstadt. Six-and-thirty hours gained by Bagra- 
tion's ready wit at Hollabrunn, in 1805, saved Kutusow's army, 
already gravely compromised in retreat. So stern, so terribly 
important, are the results of war to those concerned, that 
every faculty of the human mind by which the path to vic- 
tory may be traced, is necessarily, and rightly, brought into 

The loyalty and valour displayed by the Hanoverian troops 
during these trying days, were worthy of their old reputation. 
Though fighting under signal disadvantages, by which the 
morale of the army must certainly have been impaired, their 
gallant bearing in action has been warmly recognised by the 
adversaries they succeeded in worsting. The cavalry especi- 
ally behaved with the utmost self-devotion, charging home at 
a terrible sacrifice of life, again and again, upon the Prussian 
infantry formations. How changed the duties of cavalry in 
the field will henceforth prove to be, how futile their attack, 
however determined, upon foot-soldiers armed with breech- 
loading rifles, was amply demonstrated at Langensalza. 

The surrender of the Hanoverians was keenly felt by all 
adherents to the Federal cause in the south of Germany. 
Coupled with the events which, in the meantime, had ensued 
in Saxony and Bohemia, it staggered the confidence of the 
warmest partisans of Austria. Grief and indignation united 
in condemning the apparent apathy displayed by the Federal 
commanders. The conduct of Bavaria, especially, was already 
sadly incomprehensible to her own soldiers, as well as to the 
public at large, and the ominous cry of treachery was daily 
gaining strength. 

We have already noticed, from his arrival at Cassel, that 
the mission of General Beyer had been fulfilled in the Elec- 
torate. Leaving his camp at Wetzlar on the 16th of June, 
with about 15,000 troops of all arms, he marched across the 


Darmstadt territory at Giessen, into Hesse-Cassel, making for 
Marburg. He found the Maine-Weser railway broken up to 
impede his march, which he continued with extraordinary 
rapidity, by road, to Cassel. But though his division had 
traversed the ninety miles in three successive days, the Elec- 
tor had already succeeded in despatching the few thousand 
soldiers who constituted his army to Hanau, on the Maine, 
where they rallied to the Federal standards. The Elector 
himself, refusing to leave the capital, was soon arrested by 
order from Berlin, and conveyed to Stettin, where a befitting 
residence was placed at his disposal. 

But there were still the forces of Bavaria, and those of 
Wiirtemberg, Baden, Hesse, and Nassau, combined with an 
Austrian brigade, forming the 8th Federal corps, in the field ; 
aud these had yet to be dealt with by the army of the Maine 
under General Vogel von Falkenstein. The former had been 
moving north by forced marches, but failed to reach their 
Hanoverian allies to avert the disaster of Langensalza. But 
the evil of divided commands was very apparent. Prince 
Charles of Bavaria was but feebly seconded by Prince Alex- 
ander of Hesse, who commanded the 8th corps; and this 
want of unity of action enabled the Prussian commander to 
take advantage of the errors of his adversaries, and, while 
preventing their early junction, defeat the opposing bodies 
in detail. 

He concentrated his three divisions at Eisenach, and 
moved on Fulda, the 8th corps being then in movement 
eastward from Giessen, and the Bavarians on the march to 
Meiningen — their final object being, after many counter-orders, 
to unite at Fulda. 

On the 3d July, Falkenstein drove back the Bavarians 
at Wiesenthal (north of Meiningen) with his left wing and 
centre, whereupon the 8th Corps also retreated on Frank- 
furt. On the 10th, Prince Charles was again defeated at Kis- 
singen, and retreated in hot haste towards the Maine, cross- 
ing it at Schweinfurt. The Bavarians had for the time been 
disposed of. 

Moving then towards Frankfurt, the Prussian general suc- 
cessfully engaged those fractions of the 8th corps which had 


been pushed forward thence to the eastward, at Laufach and 
Aschaffenburg, on the 13th and 14th of July, and moved on 
the town, on which point his right division (Beyer), advancing 
by Gelnhausen on the right flank towards the same objective, 
was also concentrating. 

The town was occupied on the 16th and 17th, by which 
date the 8th corps concentrated on the Odenwald, and 
opened communication with the Bavarians at Wiirzburg. 

General von Manteuffel assumed command of the army on 
the appointment of Falkeustein as Governor of Bohemia, and 
moved on the 21st against the now united corps. 

On the 24th two actions took place, and, on the 25th, a 
battle at Wiirzburg terminated again in favour of the Prus- 
sians, and the allied forces retreated across the Maine under 
cover of the fortress. 

By this date the events in Bohemia had altered the situa- 
tion of the belligerents ; and the armistice concluded between 
the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria included also 
a cessation of hostilities in the western theatre. 

Meanwhile in Saxony, whither, as forming the principal 
theatre of war, all attention was directed, unexpected and very 
important events had occurred. Owing to the strategic advan- 
tages the possession of the little kingdom offered to either 
of the chief belligerents, it was generally expected that the 
issue of the war would, in great measure, be determined on 
Saxon soil. The uninitiated — those who could not estimate 
the numbers or the relative state of preparation of the Prus- 
sian and Austrian armies, but whose judgment was based upon 
topographical considerations, as well as on the well-known 
character of the Austrian commander, and the interests he 
was called upon to defend — were fully prepared for the advance 
of the Austrians through the Bohemian defiles into that king- 
dom, on the commencement of hostilities. From the know- 
ledge which is now possessed of the positions and strength of 
the Prussian armies, any such operation, as will be seen later, 
was clearly impracticable. 

In expectation of coming events, the Saxon army, well 
appointed, and numbering 25,000 excellent soldiers, had been 
posted with its flanks resting respectively upon Riesa on the 


Elbe, and on Pirna and Konigstein, while the centre occupied 
the capital, fronting towards the north-east. 

It may not be out of place here to refer to the Austrian plan 
of the campaign, as suggested by the Memoir on the " Plan of 
Operations of the Army of the North," prepared by Major-Gen- 
eral von Krismanic, who was at that time chief of the " Opera- 
zion Bureau " at Vienna. Though Baron Henikstein was the 
chief of staff of the army commanded by Benedek, the general 
idea, so to speak, was drawn up at headquarters, and this has 
been well criticised by the Austrian staff in the official 
account of the war, since published, and to which detailed 
reference is here impossible. 

Krismanic argues that the defensive attitude assumed by 
Austria was, though an unfortunate fact inasmuch as it re- 
signed at once the value to be obtained from quickly taking 
an energetic initiative, enforced on the empire in deference 
to European opinion, with a view of throwing the onus of an 
actual declaration of war on Prussia. Concentration at Olmutz, 
in Moravia, was therefore first suggested, both because such a 
position protected the direct road from the Prussian province 
of Silesia, the nearest frontier, to the capital, and covered the 
line of retreat on the Danube ; and also because when, by stand- 
ing on the defensive, the temporary inferiority of the Austrian 
army was acknowledged, the project of basing it on a strongly- 
intrenched camp, well armed, is founded on true strategical 

A minute attention to detail characterises this Memoir. 
The exact disposition of each corps is referred to ; and, owing 
to difficulties of supply, the army took up an extended 
strategic front of 50 to 55 miles, so that concentration on 
one flank would occupy 5, and on the centre, at least 
2 1 days. This early disposition was based chiefly on the 
possibility of a Prussian invasion of Moravia ; but if the 
initiative could be recovered owing to Prussian tardiness, the 
army would move to the Upper Elbe, utilising the railway for 
provisions and baggage, while cavalry protected the exposed 
flank on the Silesian frontier. If undisturbed, a union with 
the other forces of those States which sided with Austria in 
the contest might then take place. 

2 B 


It had been assumed that at the commencement of June the 
Prussians were not acquainted with the Austrian dispositions, 
and this has been confirmed by them in their own official 
account, in which they assert that on the 11th of the month 
they had no reliable information regarding the enemy, and 
imagined that the mass of Benedek's army was advancing in 

The Prussians also affirm that at this period the Austrian 
effective force with the Saxons quite equalled their own, and, 
like everybody else, they expected to come into collision first 
on Saxon soil. 

But the selection of Olmiitz as the point of concentration 
of the army soon destroyed this expectation. Though the 
Militar Zeitschrift at the time pointed out that the position 
there was well calculated to keep the enemy in doubt and 
force them to divide their army, the Prussians reply, on the 
other hand, that, when the fact was known to them, all 
anxiety as to the possible direction of an offensive movement 
on the part of Austria, which might threaten Berlin, ceased, and 
every doubt as to their own plan of action at once vanished. 

Exaggerated ideas of Prussia's preparations were enter- 
tained at Vienna. The Emperor feared lest his concentration 
might be disturbed ; and considerable anxiety, and even 
alarm, was felt on account of the precarious character of their 
railway communication with the capital from which they 
derived their chief supplies. 

Delay was advisable for other reasons. Neither Saxony 
nor the other allied States of the Confederation were com- 
pletely ready, and thus time for the completion of the neces- 
sary preparations was all-important. 

On the 10th June the Austrian army was almost entirely 
concentrated in Moravia, the 1st corps only (Clam-Gallas) be- 
ing on the Upper Elbe; and the critics of the original plan 
forcibly point out that with very slightly altered dispositions 
it might have been all massed in Bohemia, ready for offensive 
action rather than defence. At this date the Prussian strategic 
front extended for 150 miles through a difficult country, in 
which the lateral communications were bad; and then, at 
least, their entire tendency was to rest on the defensive. 


From this there is but one conclusion to be drawn, that the 
Prussian army was not completely ready before the Austrian, 
and that hence Krismanic's premises were false, and the re- 
sulting concentration at Olmiitz equally open to censure. 

The only means that now remained of remedying the error 
was, in the view of the Austrian critic, for Benedek to move 
at once and attack the Crown Prince. That the latter felt the 
possibility of this danger is evident by his obtaining permis- 
sion to occupy the strong position of Neisse on the 10th of 
June for the protection of the province of Silesia. Here he 
was reinforced by the Guard ; and, though he still remained 
on the defensive, he was now strong enough to resist attack, 
and give freedom of action to the other armies. 

But it is certain that there was no real intention on 
Austria's part, for political as well as military reasons, to 
enter Prussia. The initiative was voluntarily abandoned at a 
time when taking it offered the best prospects of success. 

At the same time that the Crown Prince was ordered to 
take post at Neisse, Frederick Charles was directed to concen- 
trate at Gorlitz, ready to enter Saxon Lusatia, or to support 
the Crown Prince, as circumstances might require. The 
marches of both armies terminated by June 18. 

The Elbe army could not take part in this movement until 
Saxony was cleared. It was possible that the Saxons would 
bend off by Plauen and join the Bavarians, in which case 
Herwarth would have been placed in observation to protect 
the Prussian communications thus greatly endangered if 
operating offensively. It was hoped that Bavaria, lukewarm 
in the alliance, would be actuated by selfish motives, or not 
be ready. In this case nothing would be left for the Saxon 
army but to fight against long odds, or retire into Bohemia. 
It was to be expected that the Austrians would reinforce their 
allies in Saxony by one corps at any rate, in which case it 
would be essential for Herwarth to remain where he was in 
order to operate by either bank of the Elbe. 

If this were not the case, and the Saxons retired into 
Bohemia, Herwarth would be available for subsequent con- 
centration elsewhere. The reserve corps was now ordered to 
join him. The aspect of affairs at Frankfurt released Prussia 


from further diplomatic considerations, and those of a purely 
military character became dominant, 

From June 14 the King of Prussia decided definitely on 
an offensive campaign. The first steps to this end were the 
occupation of Hanover and Hesse, then that of Saxony. 

Herwarth was informed that his forward movement would 
commence on the 16th June, and he made his dispositions 
accordingly. The Austrians claim to have been well informed 
as to the Prussian movements ; so long as they could depend 
upon the presence of the mass of the Prussian forces between 
Torgau and Waldenburg, there was no reason why they should 
not move into Bohemia— in fact there was every reason for 
so doing. Preparations for this movement were commenced 
June 9, but the Prussians had begun hostilities before the 
army actually moved. Instructions were given to Clam to 
look out for the Saxons in the neighbourhood of Jung Bunz- 
lau, and then to join the main army. 

The Prussians entered Saxony on the morning of the 16th, 
and on the same day Horn's division (1st Army) reached 
Lobau from Gorlitz. 

When Prince Frederick Charles and Herwarth crossed the 
eastern and northern frontiers in the early morning of the 
16th June, the Saxon advanced-posts at once fell back upon 
the main line, destroying the bridges across the Elbe at 
Piiesa and Meissen, and rendering impracticable the railway 
lines leading from both extremities to the capital. The Prus- 
sians, whose preparations for the invasion had been admirably 
completed, moved rapidly forward, and, whilst Herwarth 
marched upon Dresden, Lobau, Bautzen, Zittau, and Bischof- 
swerda, were successively occupied by the Prince. No opposi- 
tion was offered to this advance by the Saxons, who fell back in 
perfect order on Pima ; and, after evacuating Dresden, entered 
the defiles of the Erz-Gebirge and Lusatian mountains by the 
roads which converge by way of Toplitz and Telschen upon 
Leitmeritz in Bohemia. On the 18th of June, the memorable 
anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, Herwarth occupied 
Dresden — on the 19th, his troops, spreading to secure their 
communications, entered Leipzig and Chemnitz — on the 20th, 
Plauen was occupied ; and thus, in four days, this classical 


ground, which would have been cheaply purchased at the 
expense of thousands of lives, passed into Prussian possession 
with barely an exchange of shots. Nor did the Prussians rest 
long upon their bloodless laurels. With surprising activity 
the passes leading into Bohemia were successively seized; 
whilst Herwarth, replaced at Dresden by the 1st reserve 
corps (25,000 strong), composed exclusively of Landwehr 
regiments, under General von der Mulbe, moved up to the 
frontier in the direction of Schluckenau and Kumburg : com- 
munication with the 1st Army had been effected by cavalry 
patrols through Bischofswerda. 

The Saxons did not, owing to some mismanagement, utilise 
the railway in their retreat on the afternoon of the 15th, and 
their junction with Clam in Bohemia was thus delayed by 
some clays. On the 18th the headquarters reached Toplitz, and 
after using rail from Lobositz, reached Pardubitz by the 23d. 

Meanwhile Clam concentrated the 1st corps at Jung Bunz- 
lau to cover the safety of the Saxons ; but here, again, no de- 
fence was intended, and his orders, to the effect that the first 
object of the scattered corps should be to regain the main 
army intact, so that the roads to Gitschin were to be carefully 
guarded, are of significant importance. 

Probably the first corps might have effected this object 
without collision; but on the evening of the 21st a despatch 
arrived from headquarters ordering Clam and the Crown 
Prince to remain for the present at Jung Bunzlau and Miin- 

The Saxons marched from Prelau by Chlunic and Limburg 
to Jung Bunzlau, arriving on the 24th and 25th. 

On the 16th of June, the Emperor telegraphed to Benedek 
that events in Germany rendered the commencement of active 
operations desirable, but that military considerations were, 
however, paramount, and that it must be left to the com- 
mander in the field to decide. He answered the despatch the 
same day. He informed his imperial master that dispositions 
had been already made to concentrate at Josephstadt if the 
enemy remained at Gorlitz and Landshut; or to collect, in four 
days, at Olmutz if the Prussians assembled in Upper Silesia, 
as his latest intelligence seemed to indicate. 


The dispositions for this march were not in accord with the 
actual emergency. It was possible to have gained two or 
three important clays here, and to have blocked the Silesian 
denies by making use of the railway. It is evident that the 
information at the Austrian headquarters was very deficient. 
The enemy was much nearer the position aimed at if at 
Gorlitz-Landshut than Benedek, who could not reach it 
without collision unless the Prussians lost valuable time. No 
declaration of war had as yet been presented at headquarters, 
but it was hourly to be expected ; and on the 23d the Prus- 
sians actually notified it. 

The readiness with which the Prussians now prepared to 
enter Bohemia, indicates that the evacuation of Saxony by 
the King and his army was not altogether unexpected by 
them. Supplied as they were with excellent information, it 
is probable that the causes which interfered with Benedek's 
action were thoroughly known to them. The character of 
this gallant soldier, equally with the configuration of the 
country which formed the theatre of his operations, was too 
well known to the Prussian staff to lead them into false con- 
clusions concerning his passive, defensive attitude. 

The moral effect of this first phase of the war upon the 
people of Germany is scarcely to be exaggerated. The vigour 
and harmony of action, coupled with the marvellous develop- 
ment of military force already displayed by Prussia, offered 
cause for serious reflection to those best versed in European 
polity. To have already detached from the Austrian league 
the resources of the three largest States in North Germany, 
represented by five millions of inhabitants, was no small 
result, considered solely from a military point of view. Po- 
litically, the easy triumphs of Prussia bore still more valuable 
fruits. The national party, which had hitherto stood aloof, 
recognising the true value of the hour, now eagerly espcused 
the Prussian cause, as tending towards the eventual unity at 
which they aimed. The petty States in the north, which had 
hitherto remained neutral, prepared to evacuate the political fab- 
ric, at Frankfurt, which was evidently soon destined to collapse. 
The more powerful States in the south found one more motive 
for irresolute action, and for doubting the ability of Austria 


to stand her ground. Finally, the effect upon the people and 
all classes of the army in Prussia was marked and decisive. 
The clearly-defined object of the King and his ministers to 
settle once for all the question of German dualism, and the 
ability with which circumstances had been bent towards this 
end, were clearly recognised. The discontent, which certainly 
prevailed to a great extent, on the embodiment of the reserves 
and Landwehr levies, vanished, soon to be replaced by the 
military ardour which is the sure forerunner of victory. 

Several considerations united in rendering the invasion 
desirable. In the first instance, it will be recollected that 
Prussia did not stand alone in this campaign. She was 
waging a joint war with Italy as an ally. Any present in- 
action on her part must necessarily react upon the Italian 
theatre, and offer to Austria the opportunity of dealing singly 
with her adversaries. Moreover, time was all that was re- 
quired by the South German States to enable them to develop 
and mobilise the military resources which might be directed 
against the most vulnerable points of the Prussian line. The 
advantages of superior organisation would be lost, the moral 
effect of recent success be diminished as weeks rolled on, and 
the opportunity of closing a short and brilliant campaign 
by sharp decisive action would be forfeited. There appears 
reason to believe that in the first instance it was the intention 
of Prussia, after occupying Saxony, to await her adversary's 
attack, or to meet it in that kingdom. The position of the 
Crown Prince's army at Neisse, in Silesia, was calculated to 
answer defensive equally with offensive aims ; and so soon as 
Benedek's concentration at Olmiitz became fully ascertained, 
the first impression of the Prussian staff was that the invasion 
of Silesia must be his true object. Consequently, the army 
of the Crown Prince, which before operations commenced was 
composed solely of the 5th and 6th corps, was rapidly rein- 
forced by the 1st corps, and subsequently by the Guard, from 
Berlin. Whatever other disadvantages accrued from the 
defensive role which was doubtless forced upon the Austrian 
general, one great object was thus attained by his concentra- 
tion at Olmiitz. The military forces of the enemy were 
necessarily divided; first, in order to occupy Saxony and 


cover Berlin— and secondly, for the defence of Silesia. Con- 
sidering that the force of circumstances adduced above must 
necessarily involve Prussia, sooner or later, in further offen- 
sive movements, the result was important, inasmuch as it 
would compel her to enter Bohemia from divergent bases. 
That is to say, the danger of invasion would be greatly in- 
creased by offering to the defensive army the possibility of 
opposing, from a central position, superior numbers to one or 
other of the lines of invasion. 

There is no reason to doubt that both these circumstances 
were fully appreciated at Austrian headquarters, but it was 
hardly anticipated that the Prussian armies would so readily 
incur the danger alluded to, still less that they would find 
themselves in a position, at such short notice, to commence 
the execution of what must necessarily prove the decisive 
operation of the campaign. 

On the other hand, the disadvantages and danger accom- 
panying the use of a double line of invasion, presented them- 
selves with much force to the Prussian leaders. It is stated 
on excellent authority, that " the plan of a great aggressive 
movement was altogether foreign to the mind of the King." 
It may therefore be safely concluded, that in committing his 
armies to the invasion of Bohemia, with the certainty of offer- 
ing a great opportunity to the enemy, he was simply obeying 
the necessities of the military situation. The merit of the 
course consists in the prompt acceptation of the unavoidable 
danger entailed, and in the happy combination which reduced 
it to a minimum. 

The gradual unfolding of events since June 16 had, how- 
ever, peculiarly affected the relative duties of the royal com- 
manders of the Prussian armies. In the exp3ctation that 
collision would ensue in Saxony, the mass of the Prussian 
forces had first been directed towards that kingdom, intrusted 
to the leadership of the Prince who had acquired some recent 
experience in the Danish campaign. The role originally 
assigned to the Crown Prince, in Silesia, was of a secondary 
character ; but from the instant Saxony was occupied without 
opposition, it soon became evident that the burden of respon- 
sibility resting on the Crown Prince's shoulders would be 


largely increased. The reason of this is plain. The character 
of the country immediately east of the Giant Mountains, is 
not only more broken and difficult than that through which 
the advance of the Prussian armies from Saxony into 
Bohemia would be conducted, but it was correctly anticipated 
that the mass of the Austrian army would be in a position 
to act with very superior forces against the several Prus- 
sian columns issuing from the Silesian passes. On the other 
hand, it was well known at Prussian headquarters that the 
Iser would be defended by retarding forces only, very inferior 
to the massive divisions led by Prince Frederick Charles and 
Herwarth von Bittenfeld. The 50,000 soldiers commanded 
by Clam-Gallas and the Crown Prince of Saxony, skilfully 
handled, might certainly impede, but never could imperil, the 
actual safety of these troops. Under such circumstances, the 
safety of the Crown Prince on Bohemian territory became the 
first and most pressing consideration, and this would very 
much depend upon the rapid action of Prince Frederick 
Charles. The instructions handed to this last officer were 
therefore conceived entirely in this sense. It was for this 
reason that he was ordered to cross the Lusatian frontier three 
days in advance of the Crown Prince, to carry the line of the 
Iser, to press on to Gitschin and the Upper Elbe, in order 
that his presence might soon make itself felt upon the flank 
and communications of the main Austrian army, probably 
concentrated in the neighbourhood of Koniginhof. 

To recapitulate in a few words the gist of the observations 
offered above : The unopposed occupation of Saxony by the 
Prussians, and the continued inaction of the Austrian army, 
entailed further offensive operations upon the former ; in order 
to enlist every possible chance in the execution of these, the 
extreme value of instant action became apparent; but the 
relative positions of the two armies, one in Saxony, the other 
in Silesia, necessitated, if time were to be enlisted as an ally, 
the use of double lines of operation for the invasion of 
Bohemia ; this again entailed the ordinary peril of such move- 
ments—viz., that before union could be effected in Bohemia, 
one or other of the separated armies might be exposed to dis- 
astrous defeat. From the ascertained position of the main 


Austrian army it was the Crown Prince who, in all proba- 
bility, would be called upon to sustain the unequal attack 
of the enemy. But little forward movement towards the com- 
mon points of concentration could therefore be expected from 
the 2d army ; it was upon the 1st army that the duty de- 
volved of pushing aside all obstacles to progress, and of hurry- 
ing up to relieve the endangered fractions. 

What, then, was Austria doing, that in the hour of emer- 
gency she should have proved so little equal to its demands ? 
Hitherto all that was known of her military movements was 
that Benedek had placed his headquarters at Olmtitz, where 
he was concerting a joint plan of operations with his Bavarian 
and Federal allies, who were now (in the second week in 
June) assembling in considerable force, the former in Bey- 
reuth and Hof, near the sources of the Maine, the latter at 
Frankfurt near its confluence with the Ehine. The positions, 
as well as all other particulars relating to the Austrian army, 
had been most carefully concealed from observation ; but it 
was known that the extreme right stretched away to Cracow, 
where works of considerable extent had been erected — and 
that the left flank of the army rested upon Josephstadt and 
Koniggratz, both fortresses on the Upper Elbe. 

The selection of this position clearly indicates that offensive 
action could not have been intended by Austria at this period, 
whatever later intentions she may have entertained. It was 
manifestly chosen for the defence of the frontier — which 
in its western continuation was covered by Saxony — and of 
the railway line which communicated thence through Mo- 
ravia with Vienna. Nor was this position changed until 
the Prussians entered Saxony and menaced Bohemia with 
invasion from the north. It is most probable that the Aus- 
trian emperor, strongly impressed with the sense of his own 
conservative right, underrating, too, the military power, and 
perhaps the resolution, of his adversary, had placed himself 
in a false position by hurrying on with passionate impulse 
the fatal vote of the Frankfurt Diet. 

Certain it is that when Prussia stepped in full armour into the 
arena of war, her adversaries, ill prepared to meet her, receded 
from the iron grasp in which she threatened to enclose them. 


Silesia is the only Prussian province which borders upon 
Austria, being surrounded at its southern and western ex- 
tremities by Galicia, Austrian Silesia, Moravia, and Bohemia. 
The loss of this province to Austria — confirmed by the issue 
of the Seven Years' War — was not merely one of territory. 
The new border-line was likely to entail grave military disad- 
vantages upon the empire in some future war, a fact which was 
probably recognised by the advisers of the Empress-Queen. 

From the nearest frontier point, the distance traversed by 
the Breslau- Vienna railway through Moravia to the Austrian 
capital was about 150 miles. 

The powerful influence exercised by railways upon military 
operations is here demonstrated in a very interesting manner. 
The engineers who designed the North Austrian railway 
system, whether from motives of economy or other causes, 
have carried the Bohemian traffic into the Silesian line, 
Moravia serving as the main channel of communication from 
the north and north-west with the central Danube. The 
only railway which connects Prague, the Bohemian capital, 
with Vienna, runs laterally for a distance of eighty miles 
from west to east, receiving the Zittau - Eeichenberg - Turnau 
line at Pardubitz. The direction is more or less parallel to 
the Silesian frontier, which it nearly touches at Bohmisch- 
Triibau. Here the line divides, in order to unite with the 
Breslau-Vienna railway, at the two junction stations, Prerau 
and Lundenburg. 

Assuming that railway communication is indispensable to 
support the operations of large armies in present warfare, it is 
evident that an Austrian force about to advance offensively 
upon the Prussian capital, through Saxony, from the north of 
Bohemia, would depend chiefly upon this line of communica- 
tion with the interior of the empire for its supplies. It is 
equally certain that this communication, from its dangerous 
proximity to the Prussian frontier, would be seriously com- 
promised by the presence of a Prussian army posted in suffi- 
cient strength on the line Glatz-Neisse-Katibor. It follows 
that, once bent seriously upon aggressive warfare, it was of the 
highest import to Prussia to gain an excuse for the concen- 
tration of a menacing force at this point ; for by so doing she 


would force her adversary, whose strength and preparations 
she had nicely calculated, to abandon all thoughts of imme- 
diate offence, in order to guard his own vital interests. This 
object was gained by attributing projects to Austria, with the 
hardy unscrupulousness which has characterised Count Bis- 
marck's action throughout, which that Power indignantly, and 
it may safely be stated, truthfully, denied. Offensive action, 
consequently, was only practicable for Austria in the case 
of her being able to take the field in sufficient force to operate 
at once upon double lines — to invade Silesia, covering her 
communications, and to enter Saxony, simultaneously, with 
reasonable promises of success. With her ponderous organi- 
sation, her financial difficulties, and divided forces, any such 
prospect must have appeared remote indeed ; and the key to 
Benedek's early inaction is thus found without much diffi- 
culty. So soon as Baron Moltke could read that the Austrian 
commander had concentrated at Olmfitz, without appearing 
in equal force at Theresienstadt, he saw his opportunity ; and 
seldom indeed in the history of war has the golden moment 
been seized with more startling effect. 

The disadvantage of thus early exposing her cards might 
possibly have been avoided by Austria, had more forethought 
been shown with regard to the military demands of the 
northern Bohemian frontier. Viewing the configuration of 
the Prussian borders, it certainly appears that an army 
assembled between the Elbe and the Iser would communi- 
cate more safely by way of Prague, Budweis, and Linz, with 
the Danube and Vienna. Owing probably to the financial 
exhaustion of the empire, the railway which has been carried 
along the southern bank of the Danube from the capital to 
Linz, has not been completed in its extension northwards 
from that city to Prague. Had this been the case, it is 
probable that the attitude assumed by Austria before hostili- 
ties commenced would have been altogether different. By 
hurrying on defensive preparations in Moravia for the secu- 
rity of Vienna — which city is not exposed as Berlin is — she 
might have massed the bulk of her forces in the valley of the 
Upper Elbe — her true position — without danger, and with 
perfect freedom of action. 


Posted here, an Austrian army, about to assume the 
initiative, would find itself on the shortest road to the heart 
of the Prussian kingdom, and once through the mountains, in 
friendly Saxon territory, would seriously threaten the com- 
munications of an enemy concentrated in Southern Silesia. 
Or, if called upon to repel invasion, preferring defensive 
action, it would be centrally situated between the separated 
roads which a Prussian army must use in order to enter 
Bohemia ; on the self-same ground which, skilfully turned to 
account, in 1788, had thwarted the best efforts of Frederick the 
Great for a similar object. 

In this campaign, it seems more than ever desirable that 
the earliest concentration should have been effected in the 
northern angle of Bohemia, if the necessity of joint action 
on the part of Austria, with her two most valuable allies, 
Bavaria and Saxony, be taken into account. The tardiness 
displayed by the former Power may doubtless, in some mea- 
sure, be attributed to the distant position of the Austrian 
forces at Olmiitz. By operating from a common base — 
Ptatisbon - Linz — on the Danube, more harmony of action 
might certainly have been attained, and the timely occupa- 
tion of Saxony have been effected without much difficulty. 

As matters actually stood, Benedek found himself chained 
to his post in Moravia by the presence of the 2d Prussian 
army at Neisse, so that the Saxon corps, quite unequal to a 
collision with Herwarth and Prince Frederick Charles, was 
withdrawn from its own territory into Bohemia, whilst the 
Bavarians showed no signs of life. 

No sooner were the Prussians in full possession of Saxony, 
and of the roads which lead from that country into Bohemia, 
than they prepared to carry the war into that kingdom. Now, 
the passage of a large army, with all its material and supplies, 
through mountain defiles into an open country, in the face of 
an expectant adversary, is an operation of no little difficulty, 
requiring great forethought and care. In order to understand 
how this movement was successfully effected by the Prussians, 
it will first be necessary to pay some little attention to the 
peculiarities of the country in which it was executed. 

Bohemia is a vast undulating plain, surrounded on its four 


quadrangular sides by mountains varying in altitude from 
2000 to 4000 feet. The Saxon, or north-western frontier, is 
formed by the Erz-Gebirge, the districts on either side of the 
hills being connected by several good roads, and by the 
Prague-Dresden railway, which accompanies the Elbe and the 
road through the principal defile. These roads were hardly 
likely to be selected by the Prussian armies in Saxony, inas- 
much as, considering the position of the Crown Prince in 
Silesia, their use would have entailed dangerous separation, 
and would, moreover, have uncovered the capital, Berlin. 
The Elbe valley, with its valuable communications was, 
moreover, closed to them by the little fortress, Konigstein, 
which held a Saxon garrison, and which it would have re- 
quired some time and trouble to reduce. 

In the north, Bohemia is bounded by the Lusatian hills, which 
connect the Erz-Gebirge with the Giant Mountains. These 
hills are pierced by excellent roads, and by the railway which 
leads from Lobau, in Saxony, through Zittau and Keichenberg, 
by way of Turnau, to Josephstadt, Koniggratz, and Pardubitz. 
The roads are three in number: 1. From Gorlitz through 
Seidenberg and Friedland to Eeichenberg and Turnau ; 2. 
From Zittau to Reichenberg, and again to Niemes ; 3. From 
Neustadt by Schluckenau, Ptumburg, and Niemes to Miin- 
chengratz and Jung Bunzlau. These two last towns, with 
Turnau, are all on the Iser, connected by the road upon which 
the several passes converge. Columns, therefore, separating 
in Saxony, in order to enter the mountains, would reunite 
upon this short line in tolerably open country in Bohemia. 
Now every military consideration would point to the use of 
this system of roads by the Prussians marching from Saxony 
and north-western Silesia. In the first place, they were the 
nearest to those which the Crown Prince might use, operating 
with a similar object from Lower Silesia. Then, the army 
moving by these would, during its advance, cover its own 
territory and capital. Lastly, the divisions might fearlessly 
separate, with a prospect of speedily uniting on the common 
point of convergence, and thus avoid the crowding and delay 
which the use of a single road by a large army must inevit- 
ably entail. 


The north-eastern boundary of Bohemia is formed by the 
Sudetian Mountains, stretching in a south-easterly direction 
past the sources of the Oder, through Austrian Silesia and 
Moravia, away to the Carpathians. The portion of these 
mountains with which we are concerned is divided into three 
distinct ranges: 1. The Giant Mountains, singularly bold 
and picturesque in appearance, extending from Friedland in 
the west, for a distance of forty miles, to Trautenau in the 
east ; they are quite inaccessible, possess no passes whatever, 
and effectually bar all communication for the distance stated : 
2. The Owl Mountains : and 3. The Heuscheuer Hills, which 
surround the little county of Glatz. Immediately to the east 
of the Giant Mountains we find the first of the second set of 
roads which were available for the march of an army about 
to enter Bohemia from Silesia. This leads from Schweidnitz, 
by way of Landshut, to Trautenau, Arnau, on the Elbe, and 
Gitschin. A second excellent road leads through the well- 
known pass of Nachod from Glatz by Skalitz and Jaromir to 
Josephstadt and Koniggratz, sister fortresses on the Upper 
Elbe. Both roads communicate with each other, laterally, by 
a third, which, starting northwards from the western vicinity 
of Glatz, bends round through Braunau and Starkstadt to 
Trautenau. Country lanes, practicable for the march of in- 
fantry and cavalry, also connect these principal channels 
transversely with each other, or lead from them to Koniginhof 
and other villages on the Elbe. So that the common point 
of convergence of this system of roads is the line of the Elbe 
marked by the three towns Arnau, Koniginhof, and Jaromir. 
By crossing that river at the two first points, the little town 
of Gitschin is soon reached, whence three separate roads again 
lead respectively to Turnau, Miinchengratz, and Jung Bunzlau, 
or to that line which has already been alluded to as forming 
the objective of invading columns marching from Saxony. 
Upon the intermediate space — about twenty miles, or one good 
day's march in extent — from Gitschin to Turnau, two armies 
separating on the Saxon-Silesian frontier for the invasion of 
Bohemia would therefore most speedily regain the communica- 
tion which, during the passage through the frontier defiles, would 
have been altogether interrupted by the Giant Mountains. 


But, in addition to the two systems of roads which have 
been already described, numerous and excellent channels of 
communication lead from Glatz, Niesse, and Ratibor south- 
wards upon Landskron and Bohmisch-Triibau, or by Jagern- 
dorff and Troppau upon Olmlitz, and the country through 
which the Austrian communications with the capital were 
carried. By demonstrating, therefore, in this direction, great 
uneasiness might be occasioned to an Austrian commander 
standing on the defensive in Moravia ; so much so, that it 
was very possible to impede and delay his concentration 
round the Elbe fortresses in sufficient strength to avail him- 
self of the advantage of the interior action offered to him by 
the temporary separation of the Prussian armies. Under any 
circumstances, he would find himself compelled to detach for 
the purpose of covering his communications, so soon as the 
intentions of his enemy were exposed to him, and thus lose 
in fighting power where the final issue was to be determined. 
Such, in a few words, was the Prussian plan of operations 
for the invasion of Bohemia : — 

Division of force for purposes of movement, celerity of 
execution during separation, and earliest possible reunion on 
Bohemian soil before closing for the decisive struggle. The 
Zittau roads to be used by Herwarth and Prince Frederick 
Charles, the Glatz group by the army of the Crown Prince, 
both to march concentrically upon the line Gitschin-Turnau. 
In support of this main operation, vigorous demonstrations 
along the remaining line of frontier — Ereiwaldau, Jagerndorff, 
Troppau, Oswiecin. 

The rapidity with which Prussia had seized the initiative 
on the 16th of June prevented the development of the earlier 
designs attributed to the Austrian commander. The offensive 
plan drawn up by his staff projected the union of the Saxon, 
Bavarian, and Austrian forces in Bohemia ; then, like the 
Prussians, to be divided into three distinct armies. The 
West Army, composed of Bavarians, Saxons, and one Aus- 
trian army corps, about 90,000 strong, operating from 
Leitmeritz and Theresienstadt, would enter Saxony by the 
valley of the Elbe and by the Altenberg road, moving for 
Torgau, on the Elbe, as objective point. The Chief Army, 


echeloned from Olmiitz to Pardubitz, numbering 140,000 
soldiers, was destined to march upon Reichenberg and Gorlitz 
in order to engage the forces of Prince Frederick Charles. 
The East Army, based upon Cracow, was intended for the 
invasion of Silesia, with a view to occupy the army of 
the Crown Prince, whilst the 1st and Elbe armies were de- 
feated by superior forces in Saxony. The Bavarian reserves, 
and the Federal contingents, assembling at Frankfurt on the 
Maine, would effect an important diversion in the west, 
forcing Prussia to detach considerably from her chief armies, 
for the defence of her western provinces. 

If offensive action really was contemplated by Austria, it 
is probable that, with some modifications, this plan would 
have truly represented her course of action. But its execution 
was rendered altogether impossible, first by the absence of 
the Bavarians, who never made their appearance in Bohemia 
at all ; and secondly, by the astonishing celerity with which 
the Prussians, after occupying Saxony, prepared to carry the 
war into Austrian territory. The boldness of this conception 
unquestionably disconcerted the Austrian commanders. It 
had been the custom in Austria to despise an army which, 
for fifty years, had never seen a battle-field, and which, 
notoriously, represented a well-trained militia rather than a 
regular force. The thought was never entertained that the 
young soldiers to be found in the Prussian fighting line would 
prove to be a match for veterans who had bled on the banks 
of the Ticinus, and on the hills bathed by the Mincio. Nor 
could it be expected, if experience in war were really valuable, 
that officers, grey already in the subaltern ranks, who had 
never left their gloomy garrison towns, could lead recruits to 
victory against the warriors of Custozza, Novara, Komorn, 
Temesvar, Montebello, Magenta, and Solferino. If certain 
advantages had been obtained by the occupation of allied 
States, thanks to successful diplomatic trickery, honest right 
would soon be restored at the point of the terrible bayonet, 
which the married soldiers of Prussia would barely have the 
hardy courage or the will to face. Nor, indeed, were these 
and other similar reflections to be altogether condemned. 
The sense of superiority so strongly felt by Austrian officers, 



was endorsed by the public opinion of Europe. The novel 
organisation, the breech-loading arms, the military spirit 
latent in the Prussian Landwehrmann, had all been shrouded 
from observation by the happy years of peace during which 
this northern people had laboured and prospered. 

The task of carrying a large army across a mountain fron- 
tier into hostile territory, presents serious difficulties. The 
amount of danger incurred is doubtless very considerably 
determined by the extent of frontier. It will also be recog- 
nised that the mountain screen is of great advantage to the 
invading army. Under no circumstances of war, perhaps, is 
the value of correct intelligence so greatly enhanced for the 
defensive army. In the present instance, the Prussians were 
unquestionably favoured by surrounding circumstances. The 
invasion of Bohemia could have been effected along the entire 
extent of Saxon-Silesian frontier, thanks to the several groups 
of roads available for the purpose. It was manifestly impos- 
sible for the Austrian general to guard each of these avenues 
without detriment to his fighting means, when the decisive 
moment arrived. He was therefore dependent upon early intelli- 
gence of the Prussian movements, both in Saxony and Silesia, 
for his own dispositions. The defensive role which he was 
forced to undertake, together with the special character of his 
communications, had necessitated the early concentration of 
his army at Olmutz. His army corps were, however, so 
echeloned as to move by parallel roads in the direction of 
the Elbe and Iser so soon as his adversary's intentions were 
sufficiently pronounced. The intelligence of the projected for- 
ward movement of the Prussian 1st army and the army of the 
Elbe from the Saxon frontier, appears to have reached the 
Austrian headquarters at a sufficiently early date. On the 
19th of June, in spite of sundry demonstrations executed by 
the army of the Crown Prince of Prussia along the Silesian 
frontier, extending as far as the vicinity of Cracow, Bene- 
dek commenced his westerly march into Bohemia. The 
1st reserve cavalry division, then the 4th and 6th army 
corps, moved by Landskron, Geiersberg, Slatina, and Sol- 
nitz ; the 10th corps by Bohmisch - Trlibau and Solnitz ; 
the 3d and 8th corps and the 3d reserve cavalry divi- 


sion by Abtsdorf, Wildenschwerdt, Wamberg, and Tinist ; 
lastly, the 2d reserve cavalry division and the reserve 
artillery by Policka, Hohenmauth, and Koniggratz, all in 
the direction of Josephstadt on the Elbe. The ammuni- 
tion park marched in two columns by way of Saar to Par- 
dubitz, and the entire flank march was covered by the 2d 
army corps, extended along the borders of the county of 
Glatz. This last corps was directed, with the 2d light cavalry 
division, to follow the remainder of the army on the 26th of 
June, in such manner as to reach Neuschloss and Jasena, on 
the Elbe, by the 29th. 

At the same time the Saxon army was withdrawn from the 
vicinity of Theresienstadt, and in conjunction with the 1st 
corps and the Kalik brigade, numbering altogether 55,000 
men, was ordered to occupy the line of the Iser, from Turnau 
to Miinchengratz. 

These several columns, none of which were forwarded by 
rail, appear to have reached their several destinations on the 
25th and 26th of June, with the exception of the detached 
force under the Crown Prince of Saxony, which probably took 
ground on the Iser a day or two earlier. 

On the night of the 26th of June, the 10th army corps 
was at Pilnikau, the 6th at Opocno, the 4th at Jaromir and 
Koniginhof, the 3d at Miletin, and the 8th in the vicinity of 
Josephstadt ; whilst the 2d having fulfilled its purpose, pre- 
pared to follow the same direction from Senftenberg. 

It is of importance to master the movements of the several 
units composing Benedek's army, in order to form a correct 
estimate hereafter of the use he made of them. 

On the 2 2d of June the Prussian armies in Saxony concen- 
trated towards the Bohemian frontier. On the same day the 
Crown Prince, with a view to embarrass Benedek, directed 
the 6th Prussian corps to cross the Austrian frontier, demon- 
strating from Zuchmantel in the direction of Freiwaldau. 
Eeports were circulated that this corps represented the 
advanced-guard of the Silesian army, and under cover of the 
movement the Crown Prince withdrew the remainder of his 
army from the vicinity of Neisse to the entrances of the several 
passes really intended for use. The 1st Prussian corps moved 


as early as the 19th for Landshut, the Guard followed to 
Braunau, and the 5th corps, starting from Neisse, advanced 
through Glatz upon Nachod and Keinertz. By the 26th of 
June these several corps had reached their respective posts, 
prepared to cross the frontier. 

From the positions assigned to the Austrian corps on this 
same day, it is evident that their general did not anticipate 
serious irruption from this quarter. Thus the majority of the 
corps now concentrated about Josephstadt had already received 
further marching orders, directing them towards Horitz and 
Gitschin. The difficult passes through the Heuscheuer Hills 
were left entirely open, watched only by a few cavalry 
vedettes. The inference is, that Benedek had received false 
information, upon which he was acting ; that the counter- 
march of the Prussian corps from Neisse westwards, duly 
reported, had been accepted as representing the movement of 
the Silesian army into Saxony, to follow the line selected by 
Prince Frederick Charles. Having successfully detected, and, 
we may add, disregarded the object of the various Prussian 
columns demonstrating towards Moravia, Benedek seems to 
have persisted in his theory that further movements from the 
same frontier would prove equally unreal. Not until the 
evening of the 26th of June was the presence of the enemy 
at Liebau and Nachod reported to him. Then he ordered 
Hamming with the 6th, and Gablenz with the 10th corps, to 
move up to the frontier, and to close with the enemy wherever 
he might show himself. A postscript to this order states that 
the " commander-in-chief is hourly expecting information as 
to the strength of the columns " to which his lieutenants were 

The absence of this intelligence was compensated for by the 
loss of 40,000 soldiers, and ultimately of the campaign. 

His only hopes of victory were centred in the prospect of 
overwhelming the Crown Prince as his columns debouched 
from the mountains. This 2d Prussian army necessarily 
formed the objective of his offensive measures, inasmuch as 
concentration on the Iser against Prince Frederick Charles 
would have exposed his communications and himself to attack 
from Silesia, in flank and rear. It was all-important, there- 


fore, that he should quickly discern by what passes the Crown 
Prince intended to debouch, in order there to oppose him in 
superior force. The ground being perfectly well known to 
the Austrian staff, it was fully comprehended that the Nachod 
and Trautenau roads were those which would offer the Crown 
Prince the greatest advantages. The demands of the situa- 
tion which forced themselves upon the Austrian general 
were therefore threefold. 

First, In order to assert his superiority over the Crown 
Prince, it was indispensable that the march of the 1st army 
should be retarded whilst this object was effected ; secondly, 
it was necessary to occupy the Trautenau and Nachod roads 
with a view to oppose the probable advance of the 2d army 
in that direction, until the necessary concentration could be 
effected ; lastly, anxiety for his communications imperatively 
demanded that a sufficient force should be detained before 
Olmiitz, to guard these until the purposes of the Crown 
Prince's movement should be fully declared. 

In this sense the dispositions were accordingly made. The 
Saxon army, under command of Prince Albert, was withdrawn 
from the left bank of the Elbe and united with the 1st 
Austrian corps, commanded by Clam-Gallas, and with the 
Kalik brigade, which had recently returned from Holstein. 
These troops, forming a mass of 55,000 men, were ordered to 
defend the line of the Iser, upon which, as already seen, the 
Prussian armies marching from Saxony were about to effect 
their union. Gablenz with the 10th corps was directed to 
defend the pass leading from Liebau to Trautenau ; Ramming, 
with the 6th corps, that conducting through Nachod to 
Skalitz. The 4th and 8th corps under Festitits and the 
Archduke Leopold, were posted in the vicinity of Josephstadt, 
in support of those pushed forward into the mountains. The 
2d and 3d corps, under Thun and the Archduke Ernest, were 
echeloned along the Olmiitz -Pardubitz railway, which was 
to carry them northwards, should their co-operation be there 

On the 22d June, orders for the invasion of Bohemia were 
telegraphed from Berlin. Both the 1st and 2d armies, with 
the army of the Elbe, were to enter the enemy's territory, 


and unite at Gitschin. The movement was based on the 
intelligence received of the possible movements of the 
Austrian®, and the probability of finding their corps separated, 
and affording, therefore, the opportunity of beating them in 
detail. Still reunion was the first objective. Independent 
action was countenanced; freedom of movement was not 
cramped by unnecessary orders from Berlin, though such 
freedom was not to be exclusive, nor forgetful that communi- 
cation with the army of the Crown Prince was one of its 
chiefest duties. On the other hand, the work apportioned to 
the 1st army was to assist the 2d. 

It was necessary for Frederick Charles to wait for Her- 
warth, who, followed by the Landwehr division of the Guard, 
moved, on the 20th, by Stolken to Schluckenau and Eum- 
burg, which he reached on the 22d and 23d; and, after march- 
ing 60 miles in six days in hot weather, with great difficulties 
to contend with in the way of subsistence, he arrived at Gabel 
on the 25th. 

The 1st army concentrated on the 22d. 

7th and 8th divisions, Zittau ; 3d and 4th, Herrenhut and 
Hirschfeld; 5th, Seidenberg ; 6th, Markissa. On the 23d, 
the army again moved, and, on the 25th, was collected at 
Eeichenberg, the Guard Landwehr being at Eumburg. 

Meanwhile, Benedek, on the 20th, wrote to Crenneville, to 
the effect that, having gained the position of Josephstadt, he 
purposed to halt for a few days and then to take the offen- 
sive, but in which direction was not known. The Crown Prince 
of Saxony wrote for instructions on the following day, and 
received a despatch in answer, on the 24th, by which he was 
directed, with Clam, to oppose any hostile movement from 
Gabel or Eeichenberg, in which effort they would be either 
supported by the main army, or receive further instructions to 
retreat on it. It was evident, therefore, that Benedek was 
moving on the Iser, and hoped to reach it before the Crown 
Prince ; while Clam, facing northward at Jung Bunzlau, was 
to stretch out a hand to the Saxons and favour their junction 
with the main body. He considered, therefore, that he would 
be fulfilling his instructions if he held the Iser line only till 
the Crown Prince joined him, and then fell back, if possible 


without a check, to effect a concentration with the general- 

On this date, the 25 th June, the Prussian 1st army was 
closely concentrated round Reichenberg, the Elbe army 
about Gabel, and the 2d army distributed from Liebau to 

Only some insignificant cavalry skirmishes, and no serious 
opposition, had as yet been experienced by the Prussians, 
though the ground was eminently favourable for it ; and the 
unchecked rapidity of the advance is therefore due solely to 
the dispositions made by the Austrian leaders. 

The " interior " position now occupied by Benedek was of 
doubtful advantage, considering the distance he had to tra- 
verse. There was a danger now of his wedging himself in 
between the two hostile armies, without sufficient elbow-room. 
And, finally, the ignorance of the Austrian general as to the 
strength, movement, and purpose of the 2d Prussian army 
still further increased the difficulty of concentration on the 
Upper Elbe, which could hardly under any circumstances be 
effected before the 2d July. 

On the 26th, the advance continued ; the Elbe army from 
Niemes engaged the Austrian outposts at Hlihnerwasser, driv- 
ing them in with loss. The 1st army intended to halt, but, 
detaching Horn's division to reconnoitre towards Liebenau, 
a skirmish occurred both there and at Sichrow. Finding but 
a feeble resistance at those points, the Prince decided on 
attempting to master the passage of the Iser at Turnau. Fran- 
secky, finding it was not held, therefore occupied it without 
opposition, as the Austrian cavalry under Edelsheim had left 
it early that morning, and, throwing a pontoon-bridge across, 
repaired the broken arch of the masonry bridge. 

There seems to have been a want of union here between the 
Austrian and Saxon generals ; their command was not well 
defined. The latter proposed to occupy Turnau on the 27th, 
but Clam, preferring to hold Miinchengratz, declined. His dis- 
positions were in many respects faulty, and the troops on the 
right bank of the Iser were badly proportioned. Thus cavalry 
were ordered practically to do infantry work, and the artil- 
lery was consequently driven from the field by Prussian 


infantry. It is indispensable in such a country to support 
them with that arm, as the event proved ; but, as it was, the 
troops retired to the left bank, leaving a few companies to 
guard the principal passages, and Turnau was evacuated. 
At 2 P.M. on this day, however, the Crown Prince of 
Saxony received an order to hold Miinchengratz at all cost ; 
and, in order to comply with it, made dispositions for a 
general attack, from the latter place, on Sichrow the following 
day, while the Elbe army was to be retarded by two brigades 
left for that purpose. The bridges were on no account to be 
destroyed, and those injured, including the Podol railway, were 
to be repaired, while Turnau was to be regained by a night 

But the Prussians were fully alive to the necessity of gain- 
ing these Iser passages, and after dining at 6 p.m., Horn was 
pushed forward to Preper. The necessity for the Austrians to 
maintain this point, in view of their contemplated march next 
day, brought on the action of Podol, which was attacked un- 
expectedly, and the leading troops seized and settled in a 
house on the left bank, out of which, however, they were 
soon driven, and obliged to evacuate the village. But the 
attack was again renewed, and the action terminated at 1 
a.m. in the defeat, with heavy loss, of the Austrians. Two 
passages of the stream were now in Prussian hands. . The 
importance of the point had been fully recognised by Bosc, 
whose personal gallantry and independent action as com- 
mander of the advanced-guard led to results that only true 
military knowledge aided by the exercise of a judiciously- 
intrusted independence would have fully recognised. 

The strategic importance of the victory, small in itself, was 
great. Clam was obliged to abandon his projected attack, 
and to think of his own safety towards Gitschin. Already 
the purpose of the commander-in-chief had been thwarted, 
and the troops engaged severely dispirited. He took up a 
position on the Muskey Berg, between Podol and Miinchen- 
gratz, uncertain what to do, as no definite intimation of the 
general plan had arrived from headquarters ; but on the 27th, 
the Crown Prince of Saxony received a telegram, stating that 
large bodies of troops were before Trautenau and Nachod, 


and that the deployment of the troops at Josephstadt must be 
hastened on. It was left to his discretion as to the course 
he should pursue, and he therefore, with Clam, decided on 
retreating on Gitschin the following day. 

On the morning of the 28th of June, Herwarth moved 
down towards the river, and throwing his bridge, very skil- 
fully, under cover of a severe artillery-fire, passed his corps to 
the left bank. Simultaneously the Prince crossed at Podol, 
where, detaching the 7th division in the direction of Gitschin, 
he moved with the remainder of his force, parallel to the river, 
upon Miinchengratz ; his intention being, by availing himself 
of his very superior numbers, to outflank and destroy Clam, 
cutting off his line of retreat, which led through Gitschin on 
to Koniggratz. The Austrian commander seems, very late, to 
have perceived his danger, and barely extricated himself, with 
loss and difficulty, from a position that was really untenable. 
Collecting his harassed troops, he fortunately succeeded in 
retaining possession of his communications, and calling upon 
the Crown Prince to unite with him, prepared to defend the 
excellent position and important strategic point of Gitschin. 
In this intention he was confirmed by a despatch from head- 
quarters, informing him that the 3d Austrian corps would reach 
the place on the 29 th of June, and that three others from the 
main army would march for the Upper Iser on the 30th. 

The position of Gitschin, or Jicin, is characterised by a 
semicircular range of heights, about three English miles west 
of the town, through which the roads from Miinchengratz and 
Turnau converge towards it ; but in rear of the hills, the 
country is open and flat. The line occupied by the Saxon- 
Austrian force faced to the west, extending from Eisenstadt 
on the right, to the Anna Berg on the left, commanding the 
approaches from the Iser ; and by noon on the 29th June, the 
defensive preparations were completed, but no attack seems 
to have been anticipated on that day. 

The Prussians, after the action at Miinchengratz, pushed 
forward with their 5th and 6th divisions from Turnau to 
Ptowensko, and with the 3d and 4th from Podol to Zehrow, 
in the direction of Lobotka ; the 7th and 8th divisions halting 
at Miinchengratz, and henceforth forming the reserve. Her- 


worth prepared to advance on the right, after detaching to 
Jung Bunzlau, by Unter Bautzen and Liebau. In these posi- 
tions the armies remained during the night of the 28th and 
forenoon of the 29 th of June. 

The distance from Turnau to Gitschin is fifteen, and from 
Miinchengratz to the same town, twenty English miles. 

At noon on the 29th of June, the Prussians advanced 
against the enemy's position, which they touched towards 
four o'clock in the afternoon, immediately engaging on both 
approaches. The struggle seems to have been conducted with 
varying success — the Austrians being now more favoured by 
cover — until seven in the evening, when an order from Bene- 
dek directed the two commanders on no account to engage 
with superior forces, but to fall back towards Horitz, in 
order to effect concentration with the main army, as all 
further offensive action against the 1st Prussian army had 
been abandoned. There appears little reason to doubt that, 
but for this order, Clam would have maintained his posi- 
tion before Gitschin successfully on the 29th June ; but his 
instructions admitted of no reply, and the difficult task re- 
mained of extricating troops so deeply engaged on ground 
so singularly unfavourable for the purpose. Ultimately this 
was effected, at a terrible sacrifice — when crossing the open 
ground before the town — in killed, wounded, and prisoners ; 
and at midnight the Prussians occupied it, since it was not 
earnestly defended, and then halted for the night. On the 
following day the Prince touched the extreme right of the 2d 
army, towards Miletin and Arnau, with his patrols, so that 
on the 30th of June communication was opened between 
the two armies. 

The uniform success which attended the operations of 
Prince Charles during his advance from the Saxon-Bohemian 
frontier, has not prevented the character of his generalship 
being called into question. The sense of the instructions 
which he was called upon to execute has been sufficiently 
explained. Though the force at his disposal was superior to 
that commanded by the Crown Prince, it did not, for strategic 
reasons, represent the principal line of invasion. Its purpose 
and object was to aid and assist the forward movement of the 


2d army from Silesia. This end could only be answered by 
extreme rapidity of movement, and by the cordial acceptation 
of the secondary role required. Neither of these considera- 
tions would seem to have been sufficiently digested by the 
Prussian Prince, inasmuch as his movements are strongly 
coloured by independent action. The case was essentially one 
where six or twelve hours gained or lost might influence the 
results of the operation. Nevertheless, the Prince had hardly 
crossed the frontier before he halted for twenty-four hours, 
apparently with no sufficient purpose. The reason assigned 
for the first halt at Keichenberg, if we bear the principal 
objective of all concerned in view, seems simply puerile. The 
probable cause was, the anxiety of the Prince, that Herwarth, 
who had somewhat further to march, should remain on the 
same level with himself; a precaution, under the circum- 
stances, which would indicate that the Prince had not cor- 
rectly estimated his own position of vantage. Similarly, after 
the affair at Podol, another delay ensued, when a brilliant 
opportunity of completing the Prussian combination was 
missed. The delay, moreover, might easily have reacted with 
fatal effect upon the operations of the Silesian army. It will be 
recollected that Turnau was occupied by Horn, on the after- 
noon of the 26th of June, and that this town is fifteen miles, 
or one ordinary march, distant from Gitschin — the important 
point to be gained. The unopposed possession of Turnau was 
a circumstance which could never have been expected by the 
Prince — favourable, beyond any possible hopes, to his object- 
ive aims. A short rapid movement to his front would have 
severed Clam's communications with the headquarters of his 
army,* preventing subsequent concentration ; and the reaction 
demanded from the western advance upon the Austrian opera- 
tions towards the Silesian frontier, would, on the evening of 
the 27th of June, already have made itself triumphantly felt. 
With proper dispositions on the part of the Austrian gen- 
eral, the Crown Prince incurred imminent risk of decisive 
defeat on the 28th of June, on which day the 1st army was 

* Clam, at Munchengratz, was five miles further from Gitschin than the 
Prussian Prince. He remained there during the entire 27th and part of the 
28th of June. 


fighting at Miinchengratz, instead of being far on its road to 
the Upper Elbe. On this occasion Frederick Charles has not 
only exposed himself to the criticism of having formed too 
narrow an estimate of his peculiar duties, but his return from 
Turnau to fight at Podol, would indicate that he did not cor- 
rectly estimate the strategic value of the former locality. 
From the instant Turnau was in Prussian hands, the line of 
the Iser was in reality no longer to be defended by Clam. 
The position assumed by the Austrian general, on the left 
bank of the river, indicates, indeed, that the Prussian objective 
must have been altogether misinterpreted by Clam. His pur- 
pose seems to have been to defend the approaches leading to 
Prague, rather than those leading to Gitschin, otherwise the 
defence of Podol and the neglect of Turnau, are simply inex- 
plicable. However this may have been, it is certain that the 
Prussian commander failed signally to turn his adversary's 
mistake to his own advantage. Not only this, but he actually 
endorsed his adversary's error by turning eastwards to clear 
the line of the Iser, the key to which he already held in his 
hands. The destruction of Clam and the Saxons, if accom- 
plished, which it was not, would little influence the Prussian 
manoeuvre, were the Crown Prince meanwhile defeated by 
Benedek ; on the other hand, disaster incurred by the Silesian 
army would seriously injure the Prussian prospects of a suc- 
cessful campaign. The fault attributable to the Prince is, that 
with a superiority of force at his command, which gave him 
unbounded advantage over his enemy, he refused to incur 
risks which that fact reduced to a minimum, in the general 
interests of the campaign. 

Turning to the Austrian general, but little evidence of 
military skill is offered by his dispositions. His determina- 
tion of defending the Iser line, instead of impeding with his 
command the advance of the hostile columns through the 
mountain defiles, may possibly have been dependent upon the 
tardy receipt of the order which consigned him to his post. 
The arrangements made for the defensive purpose are cer- 
tainly open to criticism. The value of a river, as a defensive 
line, depends in great measure upon the character of its 
course. Thus in Lombardy, where numerous streams pour 


from the Alps into the Po, not all are of equal military value. 
The Oglio, for instance, adopted as a defensive line, would 
entail more embarrassment upon the defending than the attack- 
ing army. So, in the present case, the task of defending the 
tortuous Iser against forces so much superior was hopeless 
from the first. Nevertheless, by proper dispositions, time 
might well be gained from the invader, without incurring 
serious loss, and this was the principal object. To attain this 
end it was necessary to withdraw entirely the troops adven- 
tured on the right bank, to destroy all bridges, and to devote 
every energy towards obstructing the passage of the enemy at 
other points. Probably Clam had been kept in entire ignor- 
ance of the possible advance of the Crown Prince from Silesia. 
That movement commenced only on the 27th of June, after the 
first collisions had ensued on the Iser — an additional reason, 
perhaps, for his misinterpretation of the Prussian designs. 
The abandonment of his position on the Muskey Berg, on 
the 28th of June, was in all probability attributable as much 
to the announcement from headquarters of the engagements 
at Nachod and Trautenau on the preceding day, as to the 
Hanking movement executed by Fransecky. Fully as the 
tactical situation had been entered upon by the Austrian 
commander-in-chief, there is reason to believe that he had 
not sufficiently mastered the strategical aspects of the cam- 
paign, and that those were consequently withheld from his 
lieutenants. Clam extricated himself from imminent peril 
on the Iser only to become the victim of contradictory orders 
at Gitschin. 

One circumstance had become sufficiently clear, during the 
engagements on the Iser, to all concerned. The superiority 
of the Prussian needle-rifle to the Austrian muzzle-loading 
small-arm, was such that these last, henceforward had no 
hopes of fighting on terms approaching to equality. The 
general depression consequent upon this conviction spread 
with alarming rapidity throughout the ranks. The founda- 
tion for this assumption was, unhappily for the Austrians, 
but too well borne out by facts. Whereas the Prussian 
successes had been effected with comparatively trifling loss, 
the army of the Iser, after the action of the 29th of June, 


was diminished in effective force by 10,000 soldiers killed, 
wounded, and missing. 

Meanwhile the headquarters of Benedek's army had reached 
Bohmisch-Trubau by noon on the 26th; and reports from all 
sides reached it that strong Prussian columns were closing on 
the frontier. It was this information that had reached the 
Crown Prince of Saxony. 

The Austrians still consider that the imperial army was in 
a position to meet the half of the Prussian forces on terms 
of superiority; and their positions on the 27th were as fol- 
lows : — 

4th Corps, 

Lanzow towards Trautenau. 

10th „ 

Jaromir „ 


Cth „ 

Opocno „ 


3d „ 

Koniggratz ) „ 
Tynist } „ 

Neustadt and 

8th „ 


2d „ 

Senftenberg „ 


Of these the 3d and 8th corps would be available in any 
direction on the 28th, and the 2d on the 29th ; but it was not 
the purpose of the commander-in-chief to prepare for an 
attack from the Silesian defiles. He adhered still to his 
resolution of deploying on the position Jaromir - Miletin, 
covering the movement by pushing forward the 6th corps 
to Nachod, and the 10th to Trautenau. 

The Prussians in their official account of the war take a 
different view of the line of action he should have chosen. 
They say that now that the circumstances are well known, 
every one will urge that the simplest and best course to 
pursue was to advance with every available man against the 
debouching 2d army. But the character of the march of the 
Crown Prince in rear of the county of Glatz was not known, 
and could not be known, until the columns approached the 
mouths of the defiles. The announcement of quarters for 
100,000 men in Upper Silesia, and the affair at Zuchmantel, 
may have contributed to conceal the real purpose from view. 

Benedek's purpose was simply to cover the deployment of 
his army, and the covering corps were ordered to attack the 
enemy wherever they came into collision. These dispositions 
were explained to Crenneville as a temporary cessation of 


hostilities in order to get the army well in hand, and to 
ascertain with certainty the whereabouts of the enemy. 

Nothing could confirm better the Prussian view. At this 
moment no certain intelligence regarding the Prussian plan 
had reached headquarters, and the staff had failed to read it 
according to the indications which had presented themselves. 

Had Benedek known what the Crown Prince was about to 
undertake, he might have punished him. 

Similarly, had Gyulai known in 1859 what the Emperor 
purposed, he might have done him serious injury. 

Sound and speedy information is the basis of successful 
action, but both purposes were carefully concealed from view 
by every imaginable artifice. It is the invariable advan- 
tage of the offence that it can select its point of attack ; and, 
vice versa, the difficult problem of the defence is, to detect or 
anticipate in time each and every possible design. This is 
especially the case behind a mountain frontier, which forms 
a more or less impenetrable screen; and critics should be 
careful in ascertaining the exact amount of information which 
could under favourable circumstances have reached Austrian 
headquarters, before they criticise either Benedek's disposi- 
tions or the Prussian plan of operations. It is evidently 
necessary, therefore, to do so not by the light which we pos- 
sess, but by the amount of information which was at his 
disposal. The real question is, whether, in the absence of 
specific information as to the enemy's plan, the indications 
were such that the Austrian commanders should have read 
them correctly. 

It must be recollected that the character of the frontier 
was such as to screen movement and to favour demonstration, 
that there was no public press to assist his judgment, and 
that the headquarters of the Prussian army had remained at 
Berlin. On the other hand, the Austrians assert that their 
headquarters were inundated with reports on the 26th and 
27th as to the presence of the Crown Prince's army before 
the Silesian defiles. Nevertheless, at 10 p.m. on the 26th, 
Benedek does not see it in this light : both in his despatch 
to Crenneville, and in his dispositions, doubt as to the strength 
of the enemy is expressed. 


Evidently his difficulties commenced with the loss of the 
Iser line by the evacuation of Turnau; and this was 
due to the tardy instructions issued to the Crown Prince 
and Clam as to the value of that line, from the tardiness of 
which the Prussians speedily reaped the fruits. Presuming 
the river crossed and Clam defeated, the position Miletin- 
Jaromir was no longer tenable. 

On the other hand, with the army of the Crown Prince 
debouching from the defiles, an offensive march against 
Frederick Charles was no longer possible. 

He was evidently on the horns of a dilemma from which 
nothing could release him but a tactical success — the decided 
repulse of one or other of the advancing armies. 

This was barely to be expected under equal conditions of 
arms, considering the dispositions of both armies for the 26th 
and 27th. In the face of the needle -rifle matters were 
desperate. Clearly the position of Olmiitz was false from 
the commencement, considering the occupation of Saxony by 
Prussia was inevitable before she could undertake to invade 
Bohemia, much less Moravia. It was essentially a half- 
measure, wanting in genial appreciation of the circumstances, 
and based upon timidity. It involved Benedek, who was not 
its author, at once in difficulties with which he was unable to 
cope. Had he been able so to do, he would probably not 
have accepted strategic instruction from others ; and the evil 
of a commander-in-chief who is simply a tactician could not 
be better demonstrated. 

To turn now to the army of the Crown Prince. 

On the 19th of June, he had received orders from the 
King to leave one corps on the river Neisse, to direct 
Benin's 1st corps westward to Landshut, and to echelon the 
two remaining corps in such wise towards the Bohemian 
frontier, that they might either act in concert with the first 
for purposes of invasion of the enemy's territory, or reinforce 
the corps left on the Neisse, should the Austrian general 
assume the offensive, before the Prussian aggressive prepara- 
tions had matured. On the 22d of June further instructions 
directed the Crown Prince to cross into Bohemia, making 
Gitschiu his objective point ; and on the day following, the 


23d, a last despatch directed him to use all his available forces 
for that purpose, indicating that Benedek's westward march 
had already been reported to Berlin. Before, however, the 
6th corps, under Mutius, proceeded to follow the remainder 
of the army, it executed a feint or false movement, from 
Neisse, in the direction of Freiwaldau, in order to embarrass, 
and, if possible, delay Benedek's movements towards the 
Upper Elbe. This demonstration was quickly abandoned by 
Mutius, who rapidly retraced his steps towards Glatz, whither 
Steinmetz had preceded him. 

On the 26th of June, the dispositions of the Crown Prince 
were completed. Bonin prepared to march upon Trautenau ; 
the Guard, under Prince Wiirtemberg, from Braunau by dif- 
ferent country roads upon Eipel and Kosteletz, on the Aupa ; 
and Steinmetz, towards Nachod and Skalitz. On the evening 
of the same day, the frontier was crossed by each of these 
columns, which were intended in the first instance to converge 
towards the line of the Upper Elbe, in the direction of Koni- 
ginhof. These were the movements, the report of which 
reached Benedek at Josephstadt late on that day, and which 
Bamming and Gablenz were ordered up to probe. With the 
exception of trifling skirmishes at Politz, and at Kleny, 
near Nachod, with the Austrian cavalry outposts, no serious 
collision ensued on the 26th ; and Steinmetz found no diffi- 
culty in establishing his advanced -guard on the important 
heights of Wysokow and Wenzelsberg, where he at once pre- 
pared to intrench himself. 

Inasmuch as the Austrian 6th and 10th corps had received 
instructions to fall upon the enemy wherever he showed him- 
self, collision was thus inevitable. Nevertheless, says the 
Austrian official account, it could hardly have been the in- 
tention of the commander-in-chief to use up four army corps 
at different points — the Saxons and Clam on the Iser, Gablenz 
at Trautenau, and Ramming at Nachod — for the purpose of 
covering the deployment of the remainder of the army against 
the overpowering armies of the enemy. If this was the actual 
result, however, it must be traced to the confused dispositions 
proceeding from headquarters. 

According to the Prussian statements, on the evening of the 

2 P 


26th the two Prussian armies were only fifty miles apart, but 
each was well concentrated ; while the Austrian corps, on the 
other hand, extended over a similar space of ground from 
Lanzau to Leitomischel. 

This defile of Nachod-Altstadt- Wysokow, was the southern 
of the three passages which the Crown Prince desired to 
utilise, that of Trautenau being the northern. The road from 
Nachod is a steep, single mountain-road, passing along the 
gorge through which runs the little river Mettau, and crossing 
it at Altstadt. There it ascends the western face of the valley, 
and debouches on to some undulating land bordered on the 
west and north by forest-clad hills, but more open towards 
the south and west. The village of Wysokow is situated on 
the main road to Skalitz, just beyond the point where the 
road rises to the entrance of the defile, and bifurcating, sends 
one branch towards that town and Josephstadt, and the other 
south by Wrchowin to Neustadt. In front of the angle so 
formed, the plateau sinks by a gentle slope— on which are 
situated the houses and church of the little village of Wenzels- 
berg, and several isolated copses of considerable size — to the 
road from Wrchowin to Kleny and Skalitz, which passes 
through the villages of Sonow and Prowodow. 

The 6th corps (Ramming) was at Opocno, with a small 
force of two squadrons, a weak detachment of infantry, and 
two guns (under Count Thun) advanced to watch the defile ; 
but they appear not to have reported the occupation of Nachod 
by the Prussian troops, which was effected on the 26th. 

At 1.30 a.m. on the 27th, Ramming received an order to 
occupy Skalitz and push an advance towards Nachod. Tn 
consequence of this, his corps, consisting of 4 brigades, re- 
ceived the following orders : — 

1. (Hertweck) to move by Neustadt on Wrchowin and 


2. (Jonak) Prowodow, Kleny. 

3. (Rosenzweig) by Lhota Spita on Skalitz. 

4. (Waldstatten, with the artillery reserve) by Jessenitz on 


They were to move at 3 and 3.30 a.m., and numbered 28 


battalions, 4 squadrons, 72 guns, and 1 company of pioneers, 
in addition to the 1st cavalry division, which counted 26 
squadrons and 16 guns. 

The 5th corps under Steinmetz was also ordered to occupy 
Nachod. His advance had crossed the Mettau the evening 
before, and occupied the town with 3 battalions. He 
rnanceuvred his infantry throughout in half - battalions — a 
compromise between the company and battalion column. 
His corps moved at 5, his vanguard at 6, a.m., and the 
whole body was divided into three parts — viz., advance, 
gros, and reserve, the first of which was placed under the 
command of Lowenfeld, general of the 9th division. It con- 
sisted of the brigade Ollech, composed of 5£ battalions of in- 
fantry, 1 of rifles, 5 squadrons, 12 guns, and 1 company of 
pioneers. The rest of the corps contained 15 battalions, 
Wnuck's brigade of 8 squadrons, and 78 guns, of which the 
cavalry and some reserve batteries came into action. The 
advance reported that it had reached the point where the 
road bifurcates without opposition. It was ordered to bivouac 
on the plateau, and to throw forward posts towards Skalitz 
and Neustadt, Wysokow being also occupied. The two other 
features of importance on the plateau were the wood between 
Wysokow and Wenzelsberg, and that village with its church 
and chapel. 

At 8.30 Lowenfeld was informed of the approach of a 
column of all arms from Neustadt by Prowodow. It was 
Hertweck and Jonak. The former deployed and marched 
for the plateau north of Wenzelsberg, accompanied by his 
battery east of the village, and seven companies on the 
Neustadt road. 

Lowenfeld ordered the vanguard to gain the plateau, and 
called upon the gros of the advanced-guard to hurry up from 
Altstadt while he brought his first battery into action. Wy- 
sokow was further occupied with a half-company of rifles and 
a half-battalion of infantry ; and Colonel von Below at length 
gained the plateau with 4^ companies, 3 squadrons, 1 bat- 
tery, at once occupying the wood north of Wenzelsberg before 
the Austrians gained it. The Austrians were checked by the 
deployed line of four companies firing volleys ; and the gros 


of the advance then coming in on the left, drove in the 
Austrian right. Thus this first attack was repulsed at 
10 A.M. 

At nine Jonak had reached Dorukow, and deployed his 
battery and cavalry on the left. Moving by Prowodow on 
Wenzelsberg, he had supported Hertweck, without much 
result, in his attacks on the woods. 

In the rear of Jonak Eosenzweig deployed. Eamming 
reached the ground about nine, with the leading troops of 
Waldstatten and Solm's cavalry; and from eleven until noon 
the reserve artillery and Schindlocker's cavalry were arriving. 

For an hour little was clone. Steinmetz was on the field, 
and ordered up the gros of the corps, particularly cavalry and 

At length the general attack took place with Eosenzweig's 
and Jonak's brigades, and succeeded in wresting the woods 
from the Prussians, forcing them back to the Neustadt road, 
when the Prussian half-battalions formed. 

Then Solm's cavalry appeared on the plateau, and Wnuck's 
brigade, which was the first to arrive, advanced to meet it, 
the charge resulting in the defeat of the Austrians. Simul- 
taneously Eamming renewed the attack, which the Prussians 
repulsed with great deliberation, inflicting terrible loss. 

At this moment the head of the Prussian main body made 
its appearance, and occupied Wysokow, the wood, and Wen- 
zelsberg in force, whilst the Austrians retired discomfited on 

The last effort made with Waldstatten's brigade on Wyso- 
kow was easily defeated. 

The Austrian loss amounted to 232 officers, 5487 men, 
8 guns, 1 stand of colours, and 2 standards; that of the 
Prussians to 62 officers, 1160 men, 222 horses. 

Comments on the Action of Nachod. 

The criticism hereafter applied to Bonin's dispositions at 
Trautenau is not applicable in the present instance. The post 
of Xachod was surprised, and the surprise turned to account. 


Had Steinmetz neglected to secure the passage of the Mettau 
on the 26th, he most certainly would not have succeeded in 
carrying his army corps through the defile on the 27th, for 
Eamming would have stood with two brigades at least in 
position at Wysokow by 10 a.m., and by noon his reserve 
artillery would have been on the ground ; so that Steinmetz's 
dAbouche" from that defile would have been hopeless, unless 
the 2d division of the Guard from Eipel could extricate 
him. It is probable, indeed, that the detachment at Nachod 
in that case would have been reinforced, and the endeavour 
made to hold the post. Had this been successfully effected, 
considering also Gablenz's victory at Trautenau, it is evi- 
dent that the position of the Guard would have been highly 
precarious, and the entire operation might possibly have 

Attention is drawn to the point, as illustrating how depen- 
dent the success of every offensive plan is upon surprise, and 
of what enormous ultimate value the turning of a few hours 
to account may prove, or vice versa. 

It was assumed, no doubt, by the Prussian commander, 
from the fact of the Austrian detachment at Nachod vacating 
its stronghold, that it had no support upon which to rety. 
Whoever the commander of that detachment may have been, 
great responsibility devolved upon him. A show of resist- 
ance on his part, the preparation of his post for defence, a 
desperate, if even a forlorn struggle, might prove under the 
circumstances of infinite importance to his commander-in- 
chief. Had he been versed in the history of earlier operations, 
he would have recollected the little fort of Bard, and the 
incident which, in 1800, so nearly proved fatal to the passage 
of the Alps. 

The reflection serves to indicate how utterly the Austrians 
had neglected the most ordinary defensive precautions on 
their northern frontier. Since the preceding winter, hostili- 
ties had been anticipated. Since the spring, Krismanic's plan, 
insisting upon the necessity of a defensive attitude for Aus- 
tria, had lain before the Emperor, that necessity being based 
upon the superior Prussian organisation, with which the 
author was fully cognisant. 


The practicability of the defiles was well known, for 
Frederick had passed through them repeatedly a century 
before. The general difficulty of defending such a frontier 
as that of Bohemia and Moravia was clearly apparent ; and, 
in case of invasion, the value of a couple of days to the 
defence, procured by artificial means, must have been clear 
to all. Yet no attempt was made to erect hasty works 
which would have answered this purpose, the creed for the 
time in Austria being, that victory would be gained by sword 
and bayonet. Belying probably on the want of intention of 
the Austrian commander to oppose his entry into Bohemia, 
Steinmetz allowed his advanced-guard to precede his chief 
column to the extent of seven or eight miles, although he 
left Eeinertz at 5 a.m. with the main body. Lowenfeld spent 
the night at Nachod, Ollech at Schlaney. Evidently the 
commander of the advance was anxious to secure the mouth 
of the defile before opposition could be seriously contemplated. 
He effected this successfully ; but the result proved that the 
main body was not sufficiently near to the advanced-guard to 
support and secure its lodgment at the outer mouth of the 
defile. The official account points with pride to the fact that 
General Lowenfeld successfully held the plateau with 5^ 
battalions and 2 companies of rifles for three hours, against 
21 battalions which the enemy brought up. What would 
have been the fate of the Prussian advance, if the weapons 
had been equal, and if Ramming and Hertweck had shown 
ordinary professional skill? 

At Trautenau, as will be seen, want of forethought and 
enterprise is apparent. At Nachod, an opposite error, if so 
to be called, was committed — the safety of the advance was 
endangered, from the fact of the main body having been kept 
too far in rear. The operation would have been perfect, as to 
time, had Steinmetz left his quarters at 3 instead of 5 a.m., 
for he could not expect Lowenfeld, with the responsibility 
attaching to his action, to lose a single hour of the morning. 
Moreover, the entire advance had but two batteries attached 
to it, a force of artillery quite disproportioned to the character 
of the enterprise which should here have regulated the dis- 
tribution of arms. 


It will be noticed that cavalry here, as elsewhere, pre- 
ceded the Prussian march; and through its agency General 
Lowenfeld ascertained the approach of the enemy in time to 
make such dispositions as his force allowed. 

The first step taken by him was to occupy such localities 
as were of defensive value — viz., Wysokow, and the patches 
of wood on the plateau ; the second, was to call for the assist- 
ance of his nearest support, which took the shortest unen- 
cumbered route to the field; while the corps commander 
was soon on the field, giving further orders for Lowenfeld to 

Eamming's orders directed him to Skalitz with an advanced- 
guard pushed forward to Nachod. 

He was ordered to execute this disposition for the purpose 
of covering the deployment of the army at Josephstadt ; but 
this duty was not to prevent him from attacking the enemy, 
wherever he might show himself, with all energy. 

He reached Skalitz at 8.30, and there first became ac- 
quainted with the actual circumstances of the case as reported 
by Prince Holstein. 

Then he changed the original dispositions, purposing to 
take up a defensive position with one brigade at Wysokow, 
two brigades and reserve artillery and the cavalry division at 
Kleny, and one infantry brigade at Skalitz. No orders were 
sent to Hertweck, as he had been originally instructed to 
move on Wysokow. 

It must, however, have been clear to Piamming that, as 
Hertweck was ordered on Wysokow along the Neustadt- 
Wrchowin road, he must come into collision with the troops 
which were already debouching from the defile. Either, 
therefore, preparations should have been made to support 
his action, or he should have been directed to avoid en- 

As it was, he was left to act upon his own responsibility, 
and that action disturbed Eamming's otherwise prudent dis- 
positions, inasmuch as Hertweck was repulsed in the first 
attack he made, and the other brigades successively drawn 
into action, were in turn repulsed with a loss which was for 
the time paralysing. 


It is impossible not to see that this might have been 
avoided had Hamming marched with his advanced brigades 
instead of with Waldstatten. If collision ensued, Hertweck 
was certain to come first into action ; and, under the existing 
circumstances, that was Hamming's plan. As it was, he rode 
to Skalitz, and, receiving Holstein's report, changed the direc- 
tion of Rosenzweig without communicating with Hertweck. 

The latter, on the other hand, fearing, as soon as he saw 
that collision must ensue, lest the enemy on the plateau 
should separate him from the three other brigades of his 
corps, himself inclined to the left, and then proceeded to take 
in front a position upon the flank of which he had been 
brought by the very character of his march. 

Thus he reversed the ordinary course of things ; from a 
flank he moved round to the front, which his adversary must 
inevitably defend ; for had he, as the Austrian account pro- 
poses, taken up a position across the plateau fronting south, 
his right would have been exposed from the Skalitz road, and 
subject to enfilade from the Kleny heights along the entire 
extent of his line. 

It was a grievous error of Hertweck to diverge from his 
original direction, indicating that he neither mastered his 
problem nor paid the slightest attention to the ground, excel- 
lent as the Austrian plans are. 

The fighting tactics of the Austrians are only excusable on 
the plea that the earliest experiments with the breech-loader, 
excepting the Danes, in whose discomfiture they took part, were 
made upon them. To change their tactical formations during 
the campaign was quite out of the question. The result was, 
that after these first actions they were compelled to fall back 
upon the defensive, with no hope of emerging from it. There- 
fore it was, doubtless, that Benedek telegraphed the hopeless- 
ness of the struggle to the Emperor. 

The artillery was used with little hardihood by either 
general. The positions assigned to it were in accordance 
with the then existing rules. The Austrians, however, were 
the first to discover and utilise its latent power, not so much 
through merit as necessity, exposed as they were to the 
extreme severity of the smaller arm. Thus Ramming massed, 


the Prussians state, 80 guns against the plateau on which 
they stood ; and Benedek at Sadowa relied on the same 

It was the study of the Austrian artillery tactics by the 
intelligent officers of the Prussian army which led them to 
perceive how vastly they would increase their offensive power 
by developing that arm in their own forces, as the advantage 
secured by the breech-loader must soon disappear. In con- 
sequence, they surprised the French, in 1870, as much with 
their artillery as they did the Austrians with the breech- 

The thoroughness of the defeat at Nachod may be traced 
to the tactical instructions which Benedek had thought proper 
to issue. Considering the character of his task, and the pro- 
hibition accompanying his instructions, Ramming would have 
shown more prudence in not allowing himself to be entangled 
so deeply by continued and hopeless assaults. He must have 
felt that his operation was isolated in character, and that he 
was not contributing to the general issue of the campaign by 
incurring signal defeat. 

The battle in the northern defile, Trautenau, had been 
attended with different results. On the 26th, the 1st corps 
(Bonin) assembled at Liebau and Schomberg, ready to cross 
the frontier ; and in order to effect this, it was necessary to 
pass through the mountain-gorges, for which purpose three 
roads were available : one to the right by Schatzlar to Ober 
Altstadt ; the second from Liebau by Parschnitz ; and the 
third from Schomberg by Parschnitz, where both united, to 

Columns making use of these last two roads would, on 
reaching Parschnitz, find themselves in the tolerably open 
valley of the Aupa, a stream which, fordable at many points 
at this time of year, pursues a tortuous course to the Elbe. 
Following the stream, the one road leads to Eipel. Up the 
stream a little more than a mile away is Trautenau, a town 
situated principally on the south bank of the river, with a 
suburb called Kriblitz running up a ravine formed by the 
adjacent heights. 

From Trautenau two good roads lead, — the one away to the 


right, to the sources of the Elbe and Gitschin— the other by 
Hohenbruck, New Eognitz, Weiberkranke, to Schurz and 
Jaromir on the same river. The latter leaving Trautenau cuts 
through the commanding Galgenberg ; and another road winds 
up the Hopfenberg, which at the point where it unites with 
the Katzauer Berg leaves room for the little village of Kriblitz 
to nestle in its flank. 

Now these three commanding hills have naturally deter- 
mined the course of the river which winds round their base. 
They, particularly on the right, are wooded and difficult to 
traverse, with a few country paths only ; and the northern 
slopes are steep, and scarped towards the stream. 

For these reasons it is highly important for an army corps 
marching through the mountains, and expecting opposition, 
to reach Trautenau as rapidly as possible, with a view to 
obtain possession of the southern heights, in order to cover 
what would then form excellent debouching-ground. 

The only information possessed by Bonin was, that his pickets 
had come into collision with the cavalry of the 1st light 
division, which he must conclude would be reported to 
Austrian headquarters, and lead to corresponding disposi- 
tions. Moreover, the Guard had already crossed the frontier 
at adjacent points. 

To conform with these premises, a special ordre de bataillc 
was drawn up. 

The force was divided into a right column (1st division), 
General Grossmann. 

Left column (2d division), General Clausewitz, to start at 
4 A.M., and, uniting at Parschnitz, to halt whilst the advanced- 
guard (Pape), with the right column, occupied Trautenau. 

The right column was unaccountably two hours late, so 
that the left column, reaching Parschnitz at the appointed 
time, 8 a.m., and conceiving that it must halt, according to 
the letter of the orders, piled arms without detaching to 

At 10 the advance arrived, and found the bridge over the 
Aupa barricaded, and occupied by dismounted dragoons. 

On the Austrian side, Gablenz, called into headquarters at 
Josephstadt on the 26th, was ordered to move up to Trautenau, 
at 8 a.m. on the following day, with his corps from Schurz, 


Informed of the exposure of his flanks from Politz and 
Starkstadt, he reported this danger, but, to obviate it, was 
only allowed to communicate with the 4th corps, which 
detached one brigade from Lanzau to Aruau and Prausnitz. 
A report from Windischgratz to Gablenz at 10 p.m., 26th, 
was forwarded to headquarters, pointing out the increased 
danger for the right flank ; but Benedek considered it suffi- 
ciently guarded, and ordered the 6th corps to Skalitz and 
Nachod. This was a grave error, considering the character 
of the intervening country and the direction of his commu- 

Gablenz had under his command four brigades under 
Mondel, Grivicic, Wimpffen, and Knebel, giving a total of 
28 battalions of infantry, 8 squadrons of cavalry, 72 guns, 
with 1 company of pioneers and a bridge train. 

Mondel, on outpost duty at Prausnitz Kaile, was to start at 
6.30 A.M. ; Grivicic, from Jaromir, at 8.30; Wimpffen, from 
Schurz, at 10 ; Knebel, from Dubenetz, at 10.30 ; and the 
reserve artillery, from Welchow, at 11.30. 

All the brigades moved by one and the same road. 

The corps commandant hurried on and reached Trautenau 
about 11 A.M., where he found Mondel already engaged. 

Windischgratz had retired before the advancing Prussians, 
and evacuating Trautenau, drew up his squadrons on the 
slopes facing the town. 

Mondel arriving at 7.45 at Hohenbruck, had formed up for 
action in two lines. He then moved forward in that order to 
occupy the heights, taking St Johanns Capelle as the left of 
his line. 

Windischgratz was on the extreme left at 10, when the 
cavalry of the Prussians' advance united with that of Ko- 
blinzsky, which arrived simultaneously, and debouched south 
of Trautenau. 

Windischgratz flung his squadrons against them and drove 
them in, but the Prussian cavalry was immediately sup- 
ported by infantry, which caused great loss to the Austrian 

The advanced-guard battery was brought into action on the 
right bank of the river, and Koblinzsky ranging his guns with 
it, pushed his infantry into action from that side. 


The commanding batteries of the Austrians forced eight 
Prussian guns to withdraw, and the infantry made futile 
attempts to debouch when deprived of their assistance. Then 
Bonin, at 11 a.m., turned his attention to Mondel's right, 
and two regiments were ordered from Clausewitz's column 
at Parschnitz to scale the heights and operate against the 
Austrian flank. 

Gablenz, who had arrived, perceiving this, withdrew his 
brigade in perfect order out of fire to the north of New 
Eognitz, effecting the movement by 12 noon. 

The enemy had not pushed with vigour the 11 or 12 bat- 
talions on the south bank of the Aupa, and had lost tactical 
connection in a difficult country. Bonin was careless, and 
thought only one brigade was before him. At 2.30 only two 
batteries were further brought into action on the Galgen and 
Hopfen bergs, a third being in reserve below, and the remainder 
on the north bank. 

At 3 p.m. the reserve infantry were directed to Kriblitz ; 
but three battalions of infantry, all the cavalry, and many 
guns remained still on the north bank. 

At 1 p.m. the Guard had arrived at Parschnitz ; but its 
assistance was refused, and after resting two hours, it had 
pushed on towards Eipel. 

Grivicic's artillery reached New Eognitz at 1 2, thus pre- 
ceding him ; and at 2.30 he himself arrived, and deployed for 
action towards Old Rognitz, which at 3 p.m. he attacked with 
his first line, and was repulsed ; but making a second effort, 
and detaching to his right, he was successful, and the Prussians 

At 4 p.m. Wimpffen arrived, and, ordered to the front, at- 
tacked and surprised the Prussians by bringing five batteries 
into action. 

Bonin made frantic efforts to retrieve the situation, but the 
Austrian artillery was too powerful, and at 4.30 all the 
Prussian troops were in full retreat, with the exception of 
Barnekow at Johanns Capelle. 

Knebel arrived about 5 p.m. 

The Austrian loss was 191 officers and 4596 men ; that of 
the Prussians, 56 officers and 1282 men. 


Comments on the Action of Teautenau. 

The first question that arises is, Should Clausewitz have 
occupied Trautenau ? Mondel was up in all probability, and 
he would have been deeply engaged, before Grossmann came up, 
against orders. He could not have been acquainted with the 
situation, for Bonin himself was not, and it is difficult, there- 
fore, to attach blame to him. The cause of Grossmann's delay 
is stated to have been the hilly character of the road. Mondel, 
on the other hand, reaching Hohenbruck about 7.30, seems 
to have halted there to form. The Austrian official account 
states that he had occupied the heights since 9.15, and before 
this that he had reached Hohenbruck at 7.45. When he 
had formed — that is to say, waited to mass his brigade be- 
fore deploying — the position must have been taken up by 
him between 8.30 and 9.15. Had Clausewitz advanced, it 
would have taken three-quarters of an hour to debouch in 
force south of Trautenau, so that he would have had to 
continue his march without halting to cross the Aupa, and 
push forward from Trautenau, contrary to orders, in order to 
engage Mondel on the very strong ground he by that time 
had fully occupied. 

Probably the latter was informed by Windischgratz that 
no immediate danger was impending, or he would not have 
waited leisurely to form. The first duty of the advance, on 
coming into collision with the enemy, is to occupy rapidly 
such localities as may prove of use in the impending action. 
In this instance it was evidently of the highest importance 
that Mondel should occupy the Capellenberg, in order to fulfil 
his orders. His dispositions seem to have been good, for his 
adversary was unable to debouch in force from the town. 

Then the Prussians resorted to their usual flanking attacks. 
Instantly impression was made ; and Gablenz, acting wisely, as 
his supports were far behind, ceded the position, valuable as it 
was, rather than subject himself to defeat isolated. It is dif- 
ficult to understand why Grivicic did not arrive before 2.30, 
or why he did not leave his headquarters earlier. On arrival, 
he was at once pushed into action in two lines, a direct attack 


upon eight Prussian infantry battalions, well posted, supported 
by one battery. He was repulsed, as a matter of course ; for 
though the Austrians got within fifty yards of their assailants, 
they were literally mowed down, and, endeavouring to fire, 
failed, broke, and turned. The second attempt was supported 
by a flanking detachment of one battalion, a half-squadron of 
cavalry, and two guns, and was instantly effective. 

In the proposed passage of a defile, the first consideration 
is, the constitution of the advanced-guard. When three roads 
converge, as in the present instance, the general advance may 
well be furnished by one division as disposed by Bonin. The 
other columns would only provide for their own security. 

Now it is clearly advisable that the general advance should 
be strong enough to clear the further end of the defile, and to 
effect a covering lodgment without delaying the march of the 

At the same time, the distance between this advance and 
the main body should not be so great as to subject the former 
to possible defeat before it can be reinforced. 

Clearly, therefore, very precise instructions should be given 
to the commander of the advance. All information which has 
reached headquarters with regard to the enemy should be 
placed at his disposal, and when the cUlouclid, as in the pre- 
sent instance, is complicated by the necessary passage of a 
river and town, the ground should be very carefully studied, 
by plan, in advance. 

But as all study by plan is necessarily incomplete, the 
excellent practice has been introduced in the Prussian staff, 
of examining personally, territory which is liable to become 
a future theatre of war. 

The information which Bonin possessed was to the effect 
that cavalry only watched the passes leading into Bohemia, 
and that no preparations whatever had been made to obstruct 
the roads. 

Further, he was distinctly ordered to occupy Trautenau, as 
a preliminary step to debouching with his corps from the 
Aupa bridge into the roads leading to the Upper Elbe, which 
formed his ultimate destination. 

The character of the ground south of the Aupa about Trau- 


tenau is sufficiently visible on an ordinary map for purposes 
of operation. In the Prussian staff maps it was most clearly 
and exactly shown. 

It was thus of the last importance to secure the Capellen- 
berg before it could be occupied in force. Assuming that the 
general character of the manoeuvre had not been as yet pene- 
trated by the Austrian commander, it was not probable that, 
in the first instance, Trautenau would be occupied by more 
than a standing post, such as that at Nachod. 

As a matter of fact, it was not occupied either by infantry 
or artillery. 

The effort, therefore, should have been made to surprise the 
post ; and this would have been best effected by pushing the 
advanced-guard down the principal defile on the preceding- 
evening,— a step taken by Steinmetz on the other road. 

This was the more necessary, as the massing of troops at 
Liebau must necessarily have been observed by the Austrian 
vedettes on the 26th, and their reports would certainly sum- 
mon reinforcements of infantry and artillery, if any such were 
within reach. 

Considering the character of the enterprise, and the import- 
ance of the lodgment on the south bank of the Aupa, it would 
perhaps have been well not to have weakened the advanced- 
guard by detaching from it to the Altstadt valley, but rather to 
have added to its power by attaching a third battery. The 
detachment might have been furnished from the main body of 
the 1st division, and the greater portion of the corps artillery 
have been distributed well forward towards the head of the 
main column. 

This precaution is necessary, inasmuch as, if resistance is 
found, it is certain that, without artillery, the necessary pro- 
gress cannot be made ; and if the artillery is in the rear of the 
infantry column in the defile, difficulty and delay will ensue 
in drawing it to the front. 

Few of these precautions were taken by Bonin. He did not 
attempt to gain possession of Trautenau by surprise. He left 
ample time for his adversary to report his presence at head- 
quarters, and for dispositions to be effected from Josephstadt 
which might seriously interfere with the success of his enter- 


prise. He did not push his advanced-guard sufficiently forward 
even on the 27th, and dividing properly his command for the 
purpose of movement, he strangely miscalculated the duration 
of the march of the respective columns, so that the gros of the 
2d division reached Parschnitz before the advance, entirely 
exposed, during its halt, on its left flank, if the Katzauer Berg 
had been occupied. 

During the earliest phase of the action, it was exceedingly 
difficult for Bonin to bring either cavalry or artillery into 
play, owing to the command possessed by the Austrian fire on 
the Capellenberg. He properly, therefore, turned his attention 
to other means, and directed Clausewitz to cross the Aupa at 

The movement soon produced its effect, and the Austrians 
fell back. 

Gablenz arrived at 11, and immediately after, the retreat, by 
his direction, commenced. From that moment until 3 p.m. 
Bonin was master of the situation. 

It seems natural that, as his leading battalions pressed the 
Austrian rear, he should have seized the opportunity to push out 
his cavalry and artillery from the defiles. He did nothing of 
the kind ; his cavalry (21 squadrons) were not of the slightest 
service in furnishing information as to the retreat of the ene- 
my, or arrival of reinforcements. Of 96 guns, 24 only were 
brought into action on the south bank of the Aupa. 

Such generalship is entirely in accord with the refusal of 
Killer's (Guard corps) assistance. It is not sufficient to take 
anything for granted in war. Truth must be searched for 
by every possible means ; and ample means were in Bonin's 

It is specially noted that the tactical order of the Prussian 
companies was lost during the advance from the Aupa. 

This was owing partly to the convergence of the three roads 
at Trautenau, partly to Clausewitz's difficult march across the 
Katzauer Berg, and principally to the character of the ground 
on which the action was fought. 

The Prussians urge that it influenced the leadership of the 
subsequent engagement, as may well be conceived. But dur- 
ing the four hours' interval there seems to have been an oppor- 


tunity for correcting this to a far greater extent than occurred. 
The want of a guiding hand is visible in the bearing of the 
Prussian troops when Gablenz returned to the charge, with 
every advantage of ground and weapons, but inferior in artil- 
lery, and caused 15 battalions in all to vacate their ground. 
Their loss, compared to the Austrian casualties, was trifling ; 
but excuse is found in the heat, marching, outpost duty, &c. 

Turning to the Austrians, we see that, from his advanced 
position at Prausnitz, Mondel's brigade constituted the nat- 
ural advance of Gablenz's corps. 

Probably, as the latter was called in late to Josephstadt, his 
orders did not reach Mondel till early on the morning of the 
27th, so that that general could not well move off earlier than 
he did — i.e., at 6. His object evidently was to reach Trau- 
tenau as rapidly as possible, or rather, the heights which com- 
mand it. 

His halt at Hohenbruck is the first point which attracts 

The duty of the commander of an advance is, at once with- 
out any delay, to occupy such points of ground as may pos- 
sibly prove of value during an ensuing action, on coming into 

He reached Hohenbruck exactly as Clausewitz reached 
Parschnitz, and had that general's instructions entitled him to 
move, he would probably have succeeded in anticipating Mon- 
del on the Capellenberg. 

It is of instant importance — now more than ever — that, on 
such occasions, no time should be lost. The defensive power 
of the breech-loader is such, that it is exceedingly difficult to 
drive troops once in possession of a decisive tactical point 
from their vantage-ground. Moreover, the day for forming- 
exact and regular order of battle is past. The order of a fight- 
ing line is determined in very great extent by the ground. 
Cover and concealment is the object both in attack and 
defence, and formations and distances must give way to the 
primary consideration of the destructiveness of fire. 

The tendency is still, in armies which have not experienced 
this, to underrate it ; and it is impossible not to recognise that 
the excessive losses incurred by the Austrians in this cam- 

2 E 


paign on every field were due, first, to the tactical instructions 
issued from headquarters, and secondly,* to the want of flexi- 
bility in the formations adopted. 

It was a piece of good generalship on the part of Gablenz 
to withdraw Mondel, and to abandon ground of such important 
tactical value, reckoning upon reinforcement and counter- 
stroke, — illustrating that in many cases the same principles 
pervade strategy and tactics. 

The brigades as they came up were brought quickly and 
well into action, considering that one and all had executed a 
considerable march before fighting. There is no doubt that 
the march of these brigades might have been better conceived. 
Probably the time at disposal for issuing orders was short, 
and perhaps material wanting. 

An error appears to have prevailed in Grivicic's movement 
from Jaromir, and, as he was to head the column, to have 
reacted on the other brigades. His tardy march at 10 o'clock, 
under the circumstances, must attract every one's attention. 

Before, during, and after the engagement, Gablenz called 
the attention of the headquarter staff to the exposure of his 
right flank. The orders issued on the 26th protected his left, 
which was threatened by no clanger. Gablenz's hardly-earned 
victory increased the precarious character of the position of 
his corps ; and, on the following day, he had to pay the penalty 
of the blindness and obstinacy of his superiors. 

The central of the three passages through the mountains 
had been used by the Prussian Guard corps, which, after 
crossing the frontier, divided, — the 1st division marching 
by way of Starkstadt upon Eipel, the 2d through Politz 
upon Kosteletz. A glance at the map suffices to explain 
the extreme value of this well - timed movement. As a 
matter of fact, both Hiller and Plonsky, the divisional com- 
manders, were each in a position to co-operate either at 
Nachod or Trautenau on the 27th of June. Hiller's ser- 
vices were offered to Bonin at a period of the day when that 
general saw no reason to expect a reverse, and were conse- 
quently declined. Prince Wlirtemberg, who accompanied 
Plonsky's division, was unable to penetrate the veil presented 
by the retreating Austrian cavalry ; and, anxious for the safety 


of his own advance, lie neglected to make similar overtures to 
Steinmetz, or Hamming's defeat must have been still more dis- 
astrous. On the evening of the 27th of June, both divisions 
encamped on the banks of the Aupa, without having been 
anywhere engaged during that day. 

On the 28th of June, at half-past seven in the morning, 
Eamming was relieved by the 8th corps, commanded by Arch- 
duke Leopold, and fell back towards Trebesow. Two brigades 
of Festitits' 4th corps were at the same time pushed forward 
to Dolan in rear of Ramming. The Archduke's instructions 
directed him to remain in position until two o'clock in the 
afternoon, " in case the enemy should attack," and after that 
hour to fall back towards Josephstadt, According to Austrian 
accounts, the Archduke had already commenced his retrograde 
movement when Steinmetz attacked him, whilst Ramming 
had carried his shattered corps too far to the rear to share in 
the action which ensued. Certain it is that the Archduke 
suffered a very severe defeat. Forced from his original posi- 
tion, he fell back upon Skalitz endeavouring to defend the 
town, which Steinmetz, reinforced by one brigade of the 6th 
corps, and a detachment of the Guard from Kosteletz, tri- 
umphantly carried by four o'clock in the afternoon. 

The Austrians, utterly routed, retired upon Josephstadt with 
a loss of 11,000 men, killed, wounded, and missing. The loss 
inflicted on the Prussians — the attacking force — does not ap- 
pear to have exceeded 1300 men. After his victory, Steinmetz 
bivouacked upon the battle-field. 

Benedek had left Skalitz about noon, before the action had 
commenced, and was still under the impression that only small 
bodies of the enemy were before him. He reached Joseph- 
stadt at 1.30, and received reports from Skalitz and Miletin of 
the turn of events ; but, being still intent upon marching on 
the Iser, his dispositions were issued accordingly. 

But the report received at 8 p.m. on the 28th, from the 10th 
corps, caused doubts as to the practicability of the march on 
the Iser to arise at length at the Austrian headquarters. 

The troops were too exhausted for the exertion required of 
them, and the march was abandoned, the old concentration on 
Miletin being reordered ; so that the Crown Prince of Saxony 


was finally directed by telegram to fall back, and form a junc- 
tion with the main army. 

On the same 28th June, Gablenz sustained a reverse, which 
proved as decisive as that of Leopold. On the previous even- 
ing he had left General Grivicic with 7000 men in possession 
of Trautenau, and proceeded himself to effect a change of 
front to his right in accordance with Benedek's order received 
during the night, to engage what Prussian troops he might 
find between Bonin and Steinmetz, and thus effect a diversion 
in favour of Archduke Leopold at Skalitz. He was to be rein- 
forced by the Fleischhacker brigade of the 4th corps, which, 
marching from Koniginhof, moved by mistake to Ober-Praus- 
nitz, west of that town. The defeat of Bonin had been re- 
ported to the Crown Prince at Kosteletz on the night of the 
27th. He instantly made his dispositions for falling upon 
Gablenz's right flank with both divisions of the Guard. At 
daybreak on the 28th they moved, one upon Staudenz, the 
other upon Prausnitz, and fell upon Gablenz, whose columns 
were not yet ordered, with great vigour. A series of actions 
ensued, along a very extended line, at Alt Kognitz, Staudenz, 
and Soor, in all of which the Austrians, continually out- 
flanked, were worsted, and ultimately driven back upon Kon- 

On this day Gablenz lost upwards of 4000 men killed and 
wounded, and an equal number of prisoners, — these last prin- 
cipally belonging to Grivicic's brigade, the retreat of which 
from Trautenau was necessarily intercepted. The Prussians, 
on the other hand, effected this important success at the com- 
paratively trifling cost of 25 officers and 800 privates. That 
same evening, Bonin, who had taken no part in the action, 
was ordered up through Trautenau to Arnau, in order to gain 
possession of the passage of the Elbe at that important point. 

The retreat of Gablenz upon Koniginhof, as also that of 
the Archduke Leopold upon Josephstadt, was covered by the 
brigades detached for that purpose from the 4th Austrian 
corps. These were rapidly pushed aside, on the 29th June, 
by Steinmetz at Schweinschadel, and by the Guard at Kon- 
iginhof, in both of which actions the Austrians sustained 
further severe loss. Late on the 29th, Steinmetz halted at 


Gradlitz, the Guard at Koniginhof, and Bonin at Arnau, whilst 
Mutius was coming up by the same road which had been 
used by Steinmetz. The result of the three days' fighting 
was, that the Crown Prince successfully carried his army from 
the frontier to the Elbe, in such manner that his extreme 
right was now within one day's march of Gitschin, his objective 
point. In effecting this, moreover, he had inflicted signal 
defeat upon four of the six army corps which his adversary 
could dispose of to oppose him — an important service towards 
the general objects of the campaign. 

The Crown Prince of Prussia has been credited by com- 
petent judges with considerable military talent for the intelli- 
gence and vigour displayed in the execution of these opera- 
tions. His concentration towards the frontier must have been 
very skilfully conducted, in order to escape the vigilance of 
his adversary. The various devices by which it was success- 
fully concealed, no doubt contributed largely towards the 
ultimate issue of the campaign. The dispositions for the 
passage of his columns through the difficult mountain passes 
evince much judgment, being admirably adapted to the seve- 
ral contingencies he might be called upon to meet. Nor can 
it be denied that, once through the mountains, the forward 
movement of his entire line was pressed with great resolution, 
and with perfect appreciation of the value of time. In the 
face of the great numerical superiority he might be called 
upon to encounter — a probability recognised at the headquar- 
ters of the Silesian army — the value of his dispositions for the 
action of the 5th corps and the Guard, on the 28th June, in 
the general interests of the campaign, cannot be overestimated. 
They were simply decisive. With the exception of Bonin, he 
was admirably supported by his subordinates, more especially 
by Steinmetz, upon whom the brunt of the movement devolved. 
The capacity of a commander, again, is often tested by his 
personal conduct under circumstances of emergency. On 
the 27th of June, the Crown Prince was at Nachod directing 
the advance of his heaviest column. On the 28th, he super- 
intended the movements of the Guard, which reversed the 
success achieved by Gablenz on the preceding day. On the 
29th, he met Bonin at Trautenau in order to regulate the 


retarded action of the 1st corps, and on the same evening 
established his headquarters in the centre of his reconcen- 
trated army. 

Nevertheless, it will be held that the Prince was singularly 
favoured by circumstances. To find the defiles, through 
which his long trains had to wend their way, undefended, 
was in itself a great alleviation of the task intrusted to him. 
This point gained, the configuration of the frontier — jutting 
up in the direction of Braunau — singularly assisted the unop- 
posed advance of his central columns, the flanking action of 
these contributing most opportunely to the security of his 
march along the principal avenues. By this means the soli- 
tary triumph resulting to the Austrians was turned to their 
signal disadvantage. Above all, the confidence shown by the 
Prussian commander must have rested on the just appreci- 
ation of the immeasurable superiority which his infantry 
soldiers derived from their possession of the needle-rifle. To 
have marred, or equalised, the effect of this weapon, the devel- 
opment of superior force was indeed necessary on the part of 
his adversary. 

The dispositions effected by Benedek to meet this move- 
ment of the Crown Prince indicate, as has been already 
remarked, that he was utterly unaware of its character. It 
has been argued that, standing on the defensive for the pur- 
pose of solving the strategical problem which presented itself, 
the one thing indispensable to the Austrian commander was, 
early and correct intelligence of his enemy's operations. To 
obtain this, every nerve should have been strained. This end 
is ordinarily effected in war by the free expenditure of money, 
and by the constant use of light troops led by intelligent and 
thoroughly trained officers. Probably neither of these agencies 
had in the present instance been sufficiently employed. The 
secrecy in which the Prussian plans were shrouded, and the 
rapidity with which they were executed, may have rendered 
the first of these sources useless. But it is impossible not to 
perceive that the outpost duties of the Austrian army must 
have been very inefficiently performed. The truth is, that the 
cavalry officers upon whom this trust devolved were deficient in 
the special scientific training which could alone qualify them 


to estimate and report fully upon the circumstances which 
presented themselves. The reports forwarded to Josephstadt 
from Nachod and Braunau on the 26th of June, were evi- 
dently altogether inadequate to convince the Austrian general 
of his danger. As a consequence, the first dispositions of the 
Austrian general were faulty, admitting, as the events proved, 
of no subsequent remedy. The orders which despatched 
Eamming and Gablenz unsupported to the frontiers cannot be 
justified. To probe the presumed demonstration, the force 
diverted was unnecessarily large; to meet serious invasion, 
altogether inadequate, and dangerously exposed on the inward 
flanks. The measure would seem to indicate a conflict of 
opinion at Austrian headquarters — a surmise strengthened by 
the subsequent removal of the chief of the staff from his post. 
The result was proportionably disastrous. By the time the 
true character of the Crown Prince's movements was correctly 
appreciated at Austrian headquarters, both Eamming and 
Gablenz had sustained losses which paralysed their action for 
several days to come. The reports of Ramming' s defeat and 
of Gablenz's victory on the 27th of June, do not appear to 
have enlightened the Austrian general, inasmuch as a despatch, 
which must have been subsequently written, was addressed 
to and received by the Crown Prince of Saxony at noon on 
the 29th of June, at first directing him to hold his ground at 
Gitschin, and promising reinforcements by the 3d corps for 
that day. Evidently the advance of the Prussian Guard by 
Politz and Starkstadt was still unexplained at Austrian head- 
quarters; otherwise it was impossible to have left Gablenz 
exposed to the attack to which he necessarily succumbed. 

It has been argued that it was still in the Austrian general's 
power, on the night of the 27th of June, to have assembled a 
force at Skalitz on the morning of the 28th, which must have 
sufficed to have crushed Steinmetz. A close consideration of 
circumstances would barely endorse this view. The engage- 
ment of the previous day had completely crippled Ramming's 
corps for further action on the 28th ; his soldiers were not 
only beaten but demoralised by their very severe loss. The 
other troops available for that day were the 8th corps which 
relieved Ramming, and the 4th corps, from which at least two 


brigades had been detached to support Gablenz on the 
Trautenau road, and to guard the passages of the Elbe. The 
2d corps only reached Opocno, twelve miles from Skalitz, on 
the afternoon of the 28th ; and the 3d corps was still held at 
Miletin, for the purpose which has already been mentioned. 
Considering the experience obtained on the 27th, together 
with the want of connection between his several corps, it 
would therefore