Battle of Lonato
Battle of Lonato was fought on 3 and 4 August 1796 between the
French Army of
Italy under General
Napoleon Bonaparte and a
corps-sized Austrian column led by
Lieutenant General Peter
Quasdanovich. A week of hard-fought actions that began on 29 July and
ended on 4 August resulted in the retreat of Quasdanovich's badly
mauled force. The elimination of Quasdanovich's threat allowed
Bonaparte to concentrate against and defeat the main Austrian army at
Battle of Castiglione
Battle of Castiglione on 5 August.
Lonato del Garda
Lonato del Garda is located
near the SP 668 highway and the Brescia-Padua section of Autostrada A4
to the southwest of Lake Garda.
On 29 July, the Austrians advanced out of the
Alps to capture the
Salò on the west side of Lake Garda. The
Austrians followed up this success by surprising and seizing the
French base at
Brescia on 30 July. An Austrian brigade captured Lonato
del Garda on the 31st but was ejected from the town by a French
counterattack after tough fighting. Also on the 31st, a French
division briefly recaptured Salò, rescued a small band of
compatriots, and fell back. This series of combats and other battles
Lake Garda compelled Bonaparte to raise the Siege of Mantua.
Leaving only one division to observe the main Austrian army to the
east, Bonaparte assembled overwhelming force and recaptured
1 August. Quasdanovich regrouped around
Gavardo on 2 August, while
ordering an attack by several columns for the next day. On 3 August,
one of the Austrian columns defeated a French brigade and captured
Lonato for the second time. However, the French also attacked that
Salò and nearly taking Gavardo. With most of the
Austrian forces placed on the defensive, Bonaparte massed against the
solitary brigade in Lonato and crushed it. This disaster caused
Quasdanovich to order a retreat on 4 August. In a final calamity, one
withdrawing Austrian column was cut off and captured.
2.1 West of Lake Garda
2.2 "First" Battle of Lonato
2.3 1 and 2 August
3 Battle: 3 August
4 Battle: 4 August
6 See also
8 External links
At the end of July an Austrian army set out from
Trento with the
purpose of relieving the besieged fortress of Mantua. While the main
Field Marshal Dagobert von Wurmser drove south down the
Adige River valley to the east of Lake Garda, the Right Column
under Quasdanovich struck on the west side of Lake Garda. This
18,000-strong corps consisted of four mixed (cavalry and infantry)
brigades led by General-Majors Peter Karl Ott von Bátorkéz, Heinrich
XV, Prince of Reuss-Plauen, Joseph Ocskay von Ocsko, and Johann
Rudolph Sporck. The Right Column also included two advanced guards,
led by Obersts (colonels)
Franz Joseph, Marquis de Lusignan
Franz Joseph, Marquis de Lusignan and Johann
Bonaparte did not believe that major Austrian forces were capable of
operating in the mountains west of Lake Garda. Consequently, only
General of Division Pierre Francois Sauret's 4,500-man division
defended the area, with garrisons in
Salò on the western shore of the
Gavardo on the
Chiese River west of Salò, and Desenzano del
Garda at the southwestern corner of the lake. The French held Brescia
with only three companies of infantry.
Castiglione 1796 Campaign Order of Battle
Castiglione 1796 Campaign Order of Battle for a detailed list of
French and Austrian units.
West of Lake Garda
Salò and Lake Garda
On 29 July, Ott's brigade attacked
Salò while Ocskay's brigade moved
General of Brigade
General of Brigade
Jean-Baptiste Dominique Rusca
Jean-Baptiste Dominique Rusca was
warned by a village curate of Austrian descent, but chose to disregard
the information. Consequently, the Austrians took Sauret's division by
surprise. The French general withdrew to Desenzano after a stiff fight
in which 500 Frenchmen and two cannons were captured. At Salò,
General of Brigade
General of Brigade
Jean Joseph Guieu
Jean Joseph Guieu and 400 men took refuge in the
Palazzo Martinengo where they were blockaded by Ocskay's soldiers.
Receiving a report that
Brescia lay open to attack, Klenau advanced in
the night with two squadrons of the Wurmser Hussar Regiment # 30, one
battalion of DeVins Infantry Regiment (IR) # 37, and one company of
the Mahony Jägers. The next morning, under cover of fog, he seized
the city in a coup de main. The Austrians captured 600–700
able-bodied soldiers plus 2,000 more in the hospital. Among the
Colonels Jean Lannes,
Joachim Murat and François
Étienne de Kellermann. Quasdanovich soon arrived at
Brescia with the
brigades of Reuss and Sporck. At the same time, Ott's brigade
advanced south from
Gavardo to reach Ponte San Marco, where
the Brescia-Verona highway crosses the
Chiese just west of Lonato.
Ocskay's troops besieged the French soldiers trapped in Salò. That
night, Bonaparte determined to give up the Siege of
concentrate his main strength against Quasdanovich while subsidiary
forces held Wurmser at bay.
"First" Battle of Lonato
On 31 July Ott's brigade at San Marco advanced to the east on Lonato.
The Austrian general led two battalions of the Kheul Infantry Regiment
Nr. 10, four companies of the Johann Jellacic Infantry Regiment Nr.
53, two companies of the Liccaner
Grenz Infantry Regiment Nr. 60, and
one squadron of the Erdödy Hussar Regiment Nr. 11. The initial attack
flushed part of
General of Division Hyacinthe Francois Joseph
Despinoy's division out of Lonato. As the Hussars chased the fugitives
to the east, they were repulsed by two waiting French artillery
General of Division
André Masséna with General of Brigade
Claude Dallemagne's brigade and Despinoy with Generals of Brigade
Nicolas Bertin's and Jean Cervoni's brigades then counterattacked the
town. In a tough four-hour fight, the French drove Ott's outnumbered
soldiers out of Lonato and pushed them back to San Marco.
Leaving Oberst-Leutnant Anton Vogel and two battalions to hold
Brescia, Quasdanovich advanced with Reuss, Sporck, Klenau, and
Brescia to the southeast. He reached Montichiari, south
of Lonato, in mid-morning and spent most of the day there. That
evening, he returned to San Marco to join Ott, leaving Klenau in
Montichiari. Also on 31 July, Sauret marched to
Salò and defeated
Ocskay in a pitched battle. The Austrians retreated to Gavardo. Having
rescued Guieu and his men, Sauret returned to Desenzano, where he
rendezvoused with Masséna and Despinoy.
1 and 2 August
On 1 August, Bonaparte assembled 12,000 men under Generals of Division
Pierre Augereau and
Charles Edward Jennings de Kilmaine
Charles Edward Jennings de Kilmaine and moved
Goito toward Brescia, pushing Klenau's weak force
before him. Shaken by his setbacks at Lonato and Salò, Quasdanovich
ordered all of his troops north to Gavardo. Bonaparte recaptured
Brescia without opposition, and was soon joined there by Masséna and
Despinoy. Klenau moved northeast toward
Gavardo to join
Quasdanovich. Vogel retreated to
Caino in the mountains.
On 2 August, Quasdanovich regrouped at
Gavardo and sent Ocskay's
brigade to reoccupy Salò. With
Brescia now secure, Bonaparte ordered
Masséna to San Marco, while Augereau and Kilmaine marched back to
Montichiari. Despinoy held
Brescia where he was joined by
a demi-brigade from Milan. Bonaparte directed Guieu, who replaced the
injured Sauret, to march from Lonato to retake
Salò the next day.
Forces under Despinoy from
Brescia and Dallemagne from Lonato were
sent to attack Gavardo.
Battle: 3 August
During the night, Ocskay at
Salò started south along the lake road.
Guieu marched north on an obscure lane, completely missing Ocskay, who
reached Lonato's outskirts via Desenzano. Keeping Sporck's brigade to
hold Gavardo, Quasdanovich sent Ott and Reuss south on 3 August.
Ocskay's brigade attacked Lonato at dawn, defeated BG Jean Pijon's
brigade, and captured its commander. Masséna, whose division lay
between San Marco and Lonato, counterattacked the Austrians from the
west at mid-day. Bonaparte directed the battle. Assaulted by the
brigades of Pijon (now led by
Colonel Jean-Andoche Junot) on the
north, BG Claude Victor and BG Antoine Rampon in the center, and BG
Jean Lorcet on the south, Ocskay's outnumbered men were driven from
Lonato and pursued toward Desenzano. But Junot's men, plus the Guides
and the 15th Dragoons, captured Desenzano first, freeing 150 French
prisoners from Pijon's morning fight. Hemmed in by his enemies, Ocskay
surrendered with the rump of his brigade. The rest scattered across
the countryside. During the fighting in Desenzano, Junot suffered
severe saber cuts on his head from Austrian cavalrymen.
Moving from Rezzato, Despinoy attacked Ott piecemeal and was repulsed.
After some fighting, the French general withdrew toward Brescia.
Doggedly, Dallemagne moved around Ott's east flank and even reached
Gavardo twice, but each time the Austrians drove him back. Dallemagne
retreated to Brescia, where he reported sick. Casualties and other
details of these fights are unknown. Because of the French attacks,
Ott did not advance farther south than Paitone, south of Gavardo. At
some time during the day, Klenau reinforced Ott. Reuss was sent
cross-country to establish contact with Ocskay.
With his brigade of 1,800 men, Reuss soon appeared at Desenzano,
recaptured the town, and rescued a number of prisoners from Ocskay's
command. After learning the fate of Ocskay's brigade and finding that
Massena's victorious division was closing in on him, Reuss beat a
hasty retreat back to Gavardo, harassed by the French. He lost a
number of prisoners on his retreat. Others were rescued by Major
Gustave Maelcamp's small Austrian flotilla on the lake.
Meanwhile, Guieu reached Salò, found it unoccupied, and turned west
to menace Gavardo. The French soon came upon and captured
Quasdanovich's artillery park. But Sporck counterattacked and
recaptured the guns. The day ended with Sporck holding the heights
Salò while the French controlled the town. That evening,
Quasdanovich ordered Ott to join him on the heights. Reuss turned up
with his brigade during the night with the tidings of Ocskay's
disaster. A council of war determined to retreat. Having heard nothing
from Wurmser, Quasdanovich hoped to rejoin his colleague by marching
around the north end of Lake Garda.
On the morning of 3 August, Wurmser's 4,000-man advance guard under GM
Anton Lipthay lay eight kilometers to the south of Lonato near
Castiglione delle Stiviere. The Austrian commander planned to move to
Quasdanovich's help, but the French pre-empted him. Augereau launched
an enveloping attack on Lipthay with 11,000 soldiers. Despite being
greatly outnumbered, Lipthay put up a terrific fight, giving ground
only grudgingly. He was, however, forced to abandon Castiglione and
fall back southeast toward Solferino. Lipthay's stubborn defense
allowed Wurmser time to concentrate his forces. GM Anton Schübirz
marched to the sound of the guns and counterattacked Augereau's left
flank near Solferino. FML
Paul Davidovich formed his division in
support. By the end of the day, Wurmser had the bulk of his 20,000
soldiers on hand. French losses are not known, but BG Martial Beyrand
was killed, BG Jean Robert was wounded, and "great losses had been
suffered by both sides." The Austrians lost about 1,000 casualties,
including GM Franz Nicoletti wounded.
Battle: 4 August
Quasdanovich issued orders to retreat north toward Lake Idro at 2:00
am. In the confusion, one Austrian column found itself cut off from
the rest of the corps and made a desperate march to the southeast to
reach Wurmser. The Austrians marched into Lonato early in the morning,
nearly capturing Bonaparte. The French army commander, with only 1,200
soldiers on hand, bluffed his enemies into giving up.
surrendered one battalion each of De Vins IR # 37 and Erbach IR # 42,
a total of 2,000 men and 3 cannons. Bonaparte sent Guieu to
observe the Austrian withdrawal.
In the battles on 3 and 4 August, the Austrians lost 23 cannons and at
least 5,000 killed, wounded and captured. French losses were at least
2,000. More importantly, Quasdanovich's defeat allowed Bonaparte
to mass over 30,000 men against Wurmser's 25,000, resulting in a
French victory in the
Battle of Castiglione
Battle of Castiglione on 5 August. This defeat
forced Wurmser to withdraw to
Trento and abandon the campaign.
Battle of Castiglione
Battle of Castiglione 5 August 1796
^ Fiebeger, p 13
^ a b Fiebeger, p 10
^ Boycott-Brown, p 380
^ Boycott-Brown, p 382
^ Fiebeger, p 10.
^ Voykowitsch, First Battle of Lonato
^ Boycott-Brown, p 385-386
^ Boycott-Brown, p 388
^ Boycott-Brown, p 389-391
^ Boycott-Brown, p 393-394
^ a b Boycott-Brown, p 392
^ Boycott-Brown, p 394
^ Boycott-Brown, pp 394–395
^ Boycott-Brown, pp 396–397
^ Boycott-Brown, p 397-398
^ Smith, p 119
^ Smith, p 119. These losses do not include the fighting at
Boycott-Brown, Martin. The Road to Rivoli. London: Cassell & Co.,
2001. ISBN 0-304-35305-1.
Chandler, David. Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars. New York:
Macmillan, 1979. ISBN 0-02-523670-9.
Chandler, David. The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York: Macmillan, 1966.
Fiebeger, G. J. (1911). The Campaigns of
Napoleon Bonaparte of
1796–1797. West Point, New York: US Military Academy Printing
Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998.
The Battles of Lonato by Bernhard Voykowitsch contains some remarka