Italian Campaign of Suvorov 1799

Italian Campaign of Suvorov (1799)

 

military operations of the Russo-Austrian troops of Field Marshal A. V. Suvorov against the French troops in northern Italy during the war of 1798–1802 between France and the Second Coalition (Great Britain, Austria, Russia, Turkey, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies). Russia’s contributions to the coalition were the squadron of Vice Admiral F. F. Ushakov, dispatched to the Mediterranean from the Black Sea, two corps (about 33, 000 men) sent to northern Italy, and the corps of General A. M. Rimskii-Korsakov (27, 000) sent to Switzerland.

The French forces included the Army of Italy of General B. Scherer (58, 000) in northern Italy and the Army of Naples of General J. Macdonald (34, 000) in southern and central Italy. Opposing the French troops in northern Italy were the Austrian Army of 86, 000 commanded by Field Marshal M. Melas and a Russian corps of 22, 000 led by General A. G. Rozenberg (joined in June 1799 by another Russian corps, of 11,000). At the request of the Austrian Government, Suvorov was named supreme commander of the allied troops in northern Italy, taking command in Valeggio on April 4 (15). After blockading the fortresses of Peschiera and Mantua with part of his forces, Suvorov and 48, 500 men left Valeggio on April 8 (19). On April 15–17 (26–28) in a battle near the Adda River he defeated a French army which since April 15 (26) had been headed by General J. V. Moreau. On April 17–18 (28–29) allied troops entered Milan. Moreau’s army retreated to Genoa. On May 15 (26) the allied army occupied Turin.

The French command decided to strike Suvorov from two directions: from the south with Moreau’s troops (14, 000) in the Genoa area and from the east with those of Macdonald (36, 000), which began advancing toward northern Italy on May 24 (June 4). Leaving a force at Alessandria to block Moreau, Suvorov with his remaining 22, 000 men on June 4 (15) advanced against Macdonald, defeating him on June 6–8 (17–19) in a meeting engagement on the banks of the Trebbia River. Moreau’s army hurriedly retreated to Genoa, where it was joined by the remainder of Macdonald’s army. At the end of July a French army of 35, 000 under the command of General B. C. Joubert advanced from the Genoa area to Alessandria, where the main allied forces were located. Suvorov, whose army had grown to 50, 000 after the fall of Mantua on July 17 (28), was victorious at Novi on August 4 (15). The success of the Russian troops in northern Italy and of the Russian fleet in Ushakov’s Mediterranean campaign of 1798–1800 led to the almost complete liquidation of French dominance in this area. Great Britain and Austria, fearing an increase in Russia’s influence, decided to remove the Russian troops from Italy. On August 16 (27), Suvorov was ordered by the Austrian Court War Council, to unite his Russian troops with Rimskii-Korsakov’s corps in Switzerland.

The allied victories in northern Italy were mainly the result of the fighting qualities of the Russian troops and of Suvorov’s skill as a military leader, as well as the support of the Italians, who viewed the Russian troops as their liberators from the burdens of French occupation. At the same time the counterrevolution, which liquidated the republican regimes, profited by Suvorov’s campaign.

REFERENCES

A. V. Suvorov: Dokumenty. Vol. 4: Dokumenty, 1799–1800. Moscow, 1953.
Bogdanovich, M. I. Pokhody Suvorova v Italii i Shveitsarii. St. Petersburg, 1846.
Miliutin, D. A. Istoriia voiny 1799 g. mezhdu Rossiei i Frantsiei…, 2nd ed., vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1857.
Clausewitz, K. 1799 g., part 1. Moscow, 1938.
Bogoliubov, A. N. Polkovodcheskoe iskusstvo A. V. Suvorova. Moscow, 1939.

I. I. ROSTUNOV

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