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impenetrable to troops, except by two causeways, which diverge from it, one to Verona, by the side of the Adige, another to the Austrian rear at Villa Nova, by the s:ide of a rivulet called the Alpone. If the movement of Bonaparte escaped the attention of Alvinzi, the French might fall unexpectedly on the Austrian rear, and rout .it; if it were, on the contrary, perceived, his small army, not exceeding 13,000 men, according to his own account, which at Caldiero had found itself unequal to cope with its enemies in the open field, could here be assailed but by the two causeways, where, as in a defile, courage must prevail over number: moreover, he was between Alvinzi and Mantua. The Austrian, as it proved, was not to be taken by surprise; his hussars swept along the causeways: moreover, it had been overlooked by Bonaparte that the causeway leading to the Austrian rear crossed the Alpone by a bridge at Areola, a village but a short distance from Ronco. The Austrians had possession of this bridge, and guarded it with cannon: to carry it was indispensably requisite to the projects of the French. Augereau led his brigades to the attack; but the Croatian soldiers and their two guns were more formidable than the legions and the parks that defended Lodi. Augereau was beaten back; the Austrians now came up in force, issued from the bridge of Areola, and attacked their enemies on both causeways: but the best grenadiers here carried the day, and the Austrians were beaten back. Augereau made another attempt upon the bridge in vain. Bonaparte himself then came up, threw himself among the soldiers, seized a flag, and bore it at their head upon the little bridge; but the fire was now more dreadful, and more than one gallant officer fell in covering the adventurous general with his body. Every effort was fruitless: the column was driven back by the shower of grape, and Bonaparte himself, borne with the flying throng far back off the causeway, sunk knee-deep in the marsh, and only escaped being taken. The cry of his danger brought back the French like a tide against the bridge, that held like a rock, and dashed back its invaders. The Croats behaved most gallantly. Had Davidowitch and his Tyrolese done as much at Rivoli on the same day, the French would have been driven behind the Mincio.
All hope of surprising Alvinzi was now lost; but that general, instead of directing his efforts against Verona, per sisted imprudently in following Bonaparte into the marshes of Ronco and Areola. The second day was occupied in at tempts of this kind, which the French, secure on the narrow causeway of opposing man to man, and making their cannon P96. ARCOLA. 121
enfilade the long" columns of the advancing enemy, always succeeded in repelling. The second day was, therefore, one of continued failures and losses to Alvinzi; and these \>cre so great, that on the third day Bonaparte found himself strong enough to leave both marsh and causeway, and advance into the firm plain. The bridge of Areola was no longer important, a bridge having been thrown over the Adige below Alpone. On the 17th then, the third day of Areola, was fought the decisive battle in the plain beyond the village. Bonaparte turned and surprised the enemy's left, not only by a strong division from Legnago, but by a small body of his guides, who, with trumpets sounding and arms clashing, menaced a formidable attack. Yet it cannot be said that on this third day manoeuvres did much; the French showed in fact more mettle and obstinacy than the Austrians, and beat them from the field. Alvinzi lost 18,000 men, abandoned the field, and, like his predecessor, regained the Austrian Alps.
Bonaparte had thus decidedly defeated five successive armies, driven Beaulieu from Piedmont, beaten him at Montenotte, Millesimo, and Mondovi; again surprised him at the passage of the Po, and at Lodi decided the fate of the Milanese. Wurmser then took the command, was beaten at Lonato and Castiglione, and left the rest of northern Italy at the mercy of the French: reinforced, he made another invasion; his lieutenant beaten at Roveredo, himself worsted on the Brenta, he took refuge in Mantua. Then came Alvinzi with a fresh army; it perished on the causeways and in the fields of Areola. Will the reader not start with surprise to learn, that Alvinzi rallied another army; that the best born youths of Vienna flocked to fill its ranks, bearing standards worked by the hands of the empress, and uniting all the strength that enthusiasm and activity could furnish 1 This new army was divided, as usual, into two: one, under Alvinzi, was to descend by the old route from the Tyrol, betwixt the Adige and the lake, the other by a circuit down the Brenta to relieve Mantua. The pope had this time promised to take up arms, and to send an army to co-operate with those of the emperor. The only difference betwixt the present plan of Alvinzi and the last was, that then his chief force took the circuit against Verona, whereas now his chief force came from*the Tyrol. Bonaparte only hesitated until he could be certain of this, and then he concentrated the mass of his army on the plains of Rivoli. Here Alvinzi attacked him on the 14th of January, 1797. The lofty plains of Rivoli, high above the Adige, is a kind of intermediate step betwixt the river and the alpine Montebaldo. The Austrian infantry had clambered the latter, and menaced his left; whilst the artillery was obliged to wind up a steep and narrow path from the river ere it could attack. The position was strong; but Alvinzi determined to remedy this by attacking on all sides, even in the rear. His advance from the mountain against the French right was at first successful, and was for a long time menacing; but redoubled efforts repulsed it, whilst the same valor and apt manoeuvres on the right succeeded in overthrowing the division that marched up the narrow path. The Austrians, everywhere beaten, were unable to gain footing -on the heights, and were scattered, routed, and destroyed.
Let us here pause, to observe, that the general opinion regards German courage as phlegmatic, but durable and obstinate; whilst that of the French is considered impetuous in onset, but apt to evaporate. These battles seem to afford contrary conclusions: the Germans began spiritedly and triumphantly, and flagged as the struggle lasted; whilst the French seemed to increase in ardor and obstinacy. The days of Areola and Castiglione, even more than Rivoli, bear witness to this.
The other division of the Austrian army under Provera fought its way to the very walls of Mantua, but was not allowed to penetrate. Wurmser in vain endeavored to join and rescue the important succors by a sortie. He was beaten back, and Provera defeated and obliged to lay down his arms. There was no hope that Austria could hold ground in Italy. The veteran Wurmser, reduced for many weeks to eat horse-flesh, saw the inutility of holding out; and Mantua was accordingly surrendered by him in February, Thus terminated the first campaign of Bonaparte j the most brilliant in modern history, considering the armies and the empire conquered, and the unequal numbers with which this was achieved. Soldiers and general covered .themselves with glory, especially the latter, to whose military genius (skill is no longer the word), indomitable courage, and inexhaustible resources of mind, supplying the want of all others, complete success was due. Nor could it be said that the enemy was despicable; the Austrians could neither be compared to the rude Gauls of Caesar's time, nor to the effeminate Persians of Alexander's. To the last they displayed th« honorable cour age of the soldier, and were, in their late attempts especially, gallantly led and ably commanded. That such a career of victory should have marked out the winner to deserve a crown, is not wonderml.
797 VIEWS OF FRANCE. 123
Not tarrying even to receive the sword of Wurmser, Bonaparte had joined the legions marching to chastise Rome for its late demonstration. At Imola, the papal force, exhorted by priests, made a respectable stand, but was of course routed; when imperial Austria was driven from the field, the pontiff could hope naught, save from submission. Bonaparte proved generous. Despite the exhortations of the directory to crush the high priest of superstition, the French commander granted terms to the pope at Tolentino; deprived him, indeed, of the legations and Ancona; took from him a contribution, and more works of art; but still allowed him an ample political existence. Bonaparte, untainted by the bigotry of Jacobinism, which his high renown had set him far above, refused to gratify the directory at the price of exciting a religious war. He even showed tolerance to the French emigrant priests, and ordered the Italian convents to nourish them.
Although defeated in Italy, where her eagles met the standards of Bonaparte, Austria was still triumphant over the French in Germany, and had driven them back over the Rhine. Some fresh success, a decisive advance, was requisite, in order to humble the imperial court, and reduce it to sue for peace. Neither the directory nor Bonaparte had yet extended their ambition to universal conquest. They had no longer any rancor against the humbled Austria. Their political hatred was now concentrated against England,—a hatred born of national rivalry, and of the inability to strike a blow, or inflict a wound. Already the directory had succeeded in inducing Spain to form an offensive alliance with her. With the fleet of that country, of her own, and of Holland united, France hoped to dispute the empire of the sea. In this she but sacrificed the colonies and mariners of those unfortunate countries. England most dreaded the defection of Austria. Her defeat being foreseen, lord Malmesbury was nevertheless dispatched to Paris to propose a negotiation, by which France was to recover her colonies in return for Flanders being again ceded to Austria. The attempt was vain, except as a manifestation of a wish for peace; for Austria prized Flanders as the most troublesome of its possessions, and most difficult to defend. The directory, aware that another victory would place Austria at its feet, and calculating on this victory from the elation of the Italian army, and the despondency of its foe, would hearken to no overture from Great Britain. Bernadotte was dispatched with 30,000 troops of the army of the Rhine to reinforce Bonaparte; whilst Hoche, returned from his baffled expedition agains* Ireland, superseded Pichegru on the Lower Rhine.
Ere leaving I*aly behind, to pass the Alps of Tyrol and Friuli, it was requisite to be assured of the neutrality of Venice. This neutrality it promised, but found difficult to keep. The principles of the French were even more hostile to aristocracy than to royalty; and though Bonaparte had tempered these in the republics of his institution, still the Cispadane and the embryo one of* Milan teemed, as usual, with Jacobins and preachers of revolution. The Venetian cities of the mainland, ruled by the severe government of the state, from which even their nobles were excluded, adopted these new maxims of liberty. Those, especially, that adjoined the Milanese, meditated an insurrection. • The Venetians raised troops of Sclavonians, and of the peasant population, who were bigots, and as disinclined to the French as the townsmen were favorable to them. Thus two extreme parties were armed against each other. The government, in its defence, employed one whose zeal it was unable to temper, or prevent from confounding the French with their proselytes and admirers.
The French army marched ere the insurrection burst forth. The object of these was to appear spontaneous, and not to trouble their allies with acting either as defenders or police. Bonaparte crossed the Alps early in March. The archduke Charles was now his opponent; but, as usual, the promised reinforcements had not arrived in time. The principal stand made by the Austrians was on the banks of the Tagliamento. The French forced the passage after a sharp action, drove back their enemies, occupied town after town, and, in a little more than a fortnight's space, arrived within four and twenty leagues of Vienna. But to advance upon that capital, without the co-operation of the armies of the Rhine, would not have been wise. Their advance had been promised, and did actually take place in some time; but a dispatch from the directory had informed Bonaparte not to expect their support. Jealousy of his glory, or perhaps the dissensions then breaking forth in the directory itself, occasioned this: and the French general, accordingly, wrote to the archduke Charles, proposing peace. After some delay, the Austrian court replied by sending negotiators, who signed a preliminary treaty, or armistice, at Leoben, on the 18th of April.
Meantime, the insurrection in the Venetian towns of Brescia and Bergamo had broken out. The senate dispatched troons to quell it, and proceeded to arm the peasants of the