« ZurückWeiter »
had recourse to the Lycées or private schools to obtain well-educated military youths of 16 or 17 years of age, and ordered 300 to be provided by that of St. Cyr. Fouché, as Minister of Police, was desired to search out the young men of the families of emigrés who lived retired at their country seats, “pour soustraire aux efforts que faisait la génération présente pour la gloire et le grandeur de la génération future," and he was directed to intimate, on every hesitation at compliance, “que tel est mon bon plaisir.” Nor was any consideration deemed too trifling, or omitted by this imperial soldier, for the full equipment of his army. He looked himself to the exertions of his engineers, and commanded that they should see to the proper armament of all the strong places in Italy, and to the completion of the most urgent new works. He even condescended to ordering them to supply additional spades, picks, and shovels for field-works. All these vast measures required great financial outlays : now the Customs duties had been seriously diminished by the decrees of Milan and Berlin, and these could not hope to improve, but, on the contrary, to diminish more and more. He could only, therefore, rely for any increase of means on direct taxation. It was at this time that he ferreted out a blot in the habits of the ReceiversGeneral, whom he called upon to pay into the Treasury the amount of the imposts as soon as they were received, and thus he got immediate possession of funds that had been habitually left in their hands for months. He also appears to have instituted a sort of Exchequer bill arrangement, by which he could still further advance for immediate use the anticipation of the direct taxes. By extraordinary exertions of vigilance, inquiry, and genius, he thus collected, without borrowing of the capitalists, money sufficient to carry his vast army forward into the rich valleys of the Danube, the Po, and the Vistula, where his experience told him he should find ample resources to maintain it.
Thus Napoleon took the field against Austria with nearly 360,000 men and 428 guns. Bernadotte, Davoust, Massena, Lannes, and Oudinot commanded in the grand army, with 132,527 infantry and 33,203 horses. While the Confederation of the Rhine sentcontingents to the amountof 100,000 in Germans, 60,000 Italians were under Eugène in Italy, and 34,200 Poles under Poniatowski in Poland. Neither party appeared to precipitate the crisis. Austria still required time to complete her armaments and gather together her forces, while Napoleon had enough to do to concentrate his army, and was desirous not to unsheath the sword till he could be satisfied as to the probable policy of Russia in this crisis. He had long conversations with M. de Romanzoff, the Ambassador at Paris, and through him appealed to the Czar to co-operate' openly with France, by sending an army to act against Galicia; but he was apprised that Prince Schwartzenberg had been despatched by the Emperor Francis to Alexander with adverse propositions, although Caulaincourt, the French Ambassador at St. Petersburg, assured him that they had been rejected. Subsequently, Alexander declared his intention of sending 50,000 men to the support of Poniatowski in Poland; but such a compromise
PROCLAMATION OF THE ARCHDUKE CHARLES.
evinced pretty clearly how little the Czar was disposed to join in the conflict, and Napoleon remarked, “ Aussi je compte plus sur moi que sur eux.”
The preparations for war and complications of diplomacy occupied the whole of February and March. But Napoleon did not relax his energies for an instant; he despatched Bernadotte to Dresden to take the command of the Saxon army, Davoust to Bamberg to take charge of the Würtemberg contingent; Massena assumed the command of the army on the Rhine, and Oudinot that of the force on the Danube, while Bessières was summoned to bring up the Imperial Guard by post from Burgos, in order to be ready to take the field with the Emperor. Towards the end of the month of March, when events had pretty well matured themselves, M. Daru was expedited to Germany to organise what the French happilyterm le matériel (which has no corresponding expression, I believe, in either English or German), the formation of magazines and hospitals, and under the head of transport to establish telegraphs and a service d'estafette between the theatre of war and Paris. Relays of post were also placed ready to convey the Emperor at the shortest notice direct to Augsburg or Würzburg. Marshal Berthier was sent, as MajorGeneral of the army, to the valley of the Danube to be ready for Napoleon's arrival to assume the supreme command, and with directions to concentrate the army immediately behind the Lech on the first symptoms of the enemy's offensive movements.
14. THREE AUSTRIAN ARMIES CROSS THE FRONTIER IN
GERMANY, ITALY, AND THE TYROL. On the 9th of April the Archduke Charles caused an intimation to be made to the General-in-Chief of the French army that, “in consequence of a declaration made by the Emperor Francis to the Emperor Napoleon, the army under his command would commence hostilities.” Accordingly, on the morning of the 10th, the armies in Bohemia, Bavaria, and Italy were all set in motion, and 1,000 beacons were kindled over the rugged surface of the Tyrolean Alps. The Emperor of Austria established his quarters at Linz, and sent an aide-de-camp to apprise the King of Bavaria that he had given orders to his army to enter his kingdom ; but, as the cause was the cause of Germany, His Imperial Majesty trusted that His Majesty would not be inconvenienced. For all answer, King Maximilian set off the same night to place himself behind the French army. The Archduke, at the head of his army, crossed the Inn at Braunau on the morning of the 10th ; the remainder of the troops passed the river at Scharding and Mühlheim, or took the road to Munich by Wasserburg. The division on the extreme right marched straight on Passau, which surrendered at their summons. It was the 15th before the Austrian army were concentrated on the banks of the Iser, without having as yet seen an enemy, except some Bavarian patroles. On the 16th, General Radetzky, commanding the Austrian advanced guard, arrived at Landshut with a view to cross the Iser, and there found the Bavarians, 1809.)
THE FRENCH REAR-GUARD SURPRISED.
under General Deroy, apparently placed to dispute the passage. He found the bridge had been destroyed, and he was received with a heavy fire from the woody heights of Altdorf. The Archduke, however, soon cleared the ground, by opening fire from his guns on the suburb called Seligenthal, and ordered the bridge to be restored, by which his troops at once crossed the river. Other portions of the army crossed at Moorburg and Dingolfing. The Bavarian troops, with the loss of 100 men, retired in perfect order into the forest of Durnbach. The Archduke was now approaching the French outposts, but he thought that by marching on Abensberg he should interpose between the corps-d'armée at Ratisbon and Augsburg. At the same time, the 1st and 2nd Austrian corps, having crossed the Bohemian frontier at Tischenreit and Rosshaupt, had united at Wernberg, and were therefore threatening Ratisbon from that side. The Archduke accordingly continued his march on the 17th from Landshut on Abensberg, and directed General Hiller to move from Moorburg on Mainburg and that Jellalich should march on Freising. The Archduke Louis, who was farther to the left, was ordered to keep watch upon the Bavarians at Diernbach; and the corps of Hohenzollern was to make a reconnoissance on Ratisbon. Bellegarde, with the other corps out of Bohemia, was to march at the same time through the Upper Palatinate. The object of these movements being to tighten the noose round the isolated corps of Davoust, which was thought to be compromised by his position in that city. The Austrians, as usual, moved slowly, and, in addition to this incurable habit of theirs in every war, the weather was execrable, and the new system of supplies which had been introduced, did not work well, at first, for instead of regularly meeting the wants of the troops, it only retarded their march.
15. THE ARCHDUKE JOHN DESCENDS UPON ITALY
BATTLE OF SACILE. On the same day that the Archduke Charles crossed the Inn, the Archduke John sent a flag of truce to General Broussier at Ponteba, to announce his intention to advance his army in the same terms as his brother had done; and early in the morning of the 10th, he set his troops in motion to descend the valley of the Fella. He was resisted for a moment at the outpost, but he succeeded in making them prisoners and moved on. Giving a wide berth to the posts of Osopo and La Chiusa, he directed his steps by way of Cividale and Gradisca, and debouched upon Udine, where the headquarters of the Prince Eugène were established. Surprised by this sudden apparition, and having only two divisions at hand, the Viceroy withdrew them at once across the Tagliamento, to unite his troops with those of Grenier, Barbou, and Grouchy upon the Livenza, where His Highness placed his head-quarters at Sacile on the 14th. The bridges were broken, and the advance was checked by such impediments as were at hand: but, as usual, the Austrians
were slow in their movements, so that they occupied four days in driving back the enemy across the Tagliamento, and it was the 15th, in the morning, before they came up with them near Pordenone, with two battalions of infantry and a regiment of cavalry, under General Sahuc. As soon as the Archduke perceived that the French were disposed to make a stand, the chief of the staff, Nugent, was sent back to hasten up reinforcements, and the French rear-guard was completely surprised and surrounded. An endeavour was also made to push forward by the only road that was thus open to them to Sacile; but a powerful force of French cavalry appeared to encounter them, who made a stout resistance, but in the end were most of them taken prisoners or slain, leaving an eagle and 4 pieces of cannon a prize to the Austrians. The fight, however, was well contested by the French, and lasted five hours. Colonel Breissaud, who was one of the prisoners, was brought before the Archduke John, who remarked that the Colonel had no sword, and said to him : “So brave a man as you have shown yourself should not remain disarmed; I will go and seek your sword on the field of battle, and, if I do not find it there, I will give you mine."
The Viceroy Eugène was as yet but little experienced in war, and, not knowing what he ought to do in this emergency, he assembled his superior officers to ask their advice; but the days of the Empire were not favourable for volunteering opinions, and accordingly, one and all held their peace. The brave young prince, therefore, driven back on his own judgment, resolved to stand and fight, instead of continuing his retreat before the Austrians to the banks of the Piave, where other reinforcements awaited him. He had now with him 36,000 men, but the Archduke had 45,000; nevertheless, he determined to take the offensive. The road from Pordenone passed through the centre of the position he assumed, which was between Vizonuova and Porzia, where was high ground; the right was intersected with stream and water courses, but his left rested on a perfect plain to the feet of the mountains, and was singularly favourable for the operations of cavalry, in which the Archduke John was strong. The 16th happened to be Sunday, and His Imperial Highness was gone to mass, when he was recalled hastily to the field, by the news that the French divisions were in march to attack the Austrian left, while other troops were debouching on the right flank across the plain. The attack indeed had been so sharp that both the villages of Palsi and Porzia were carried before the Archduke arrived, but he instantly sent forward General Colloredo, who, after a frightful carnage, retook them. The Viceroy, however, sent up the divison Barbou to the assistance of the divisions Seras and Severoli, who again recovered them ; but the intersected ground rendered the contest extremely stubborn, and during its continuance both the divisions Grenier on the high road, and Broussier on the plain, remained totally inactive. The Archduke therefore ordered an advance on Fontana Fredda, and the action
REVOLT OF THE TYROLESE.
became continuous along the whole line. The Austrian cavalry came down in great force to the plain, on which Broussier formed his infantry in squares, and received the enemy gallantly. In this way the fight lasted several hours, but numbers at length prevailed, and the Austrians in the rear got possession of the principal bridge over the Livenza, which completely cut off the retreat of the French left wing, upon which the Viceroy ordered a retreat upon Sacile. In retiring, notwithstanding all the exertions of General Broussier, the left of the French fell into disorder in crossing the defile occasioned by the marshes as they approached the river, which was fearfully augmented when it transpired that 7,000 Austrians were already in possession of the town. Accordingly, horse, foot, and cannon got mingled together in frightful disorder; and all fled without attempt at resistance, and apparently without any fixed direction. 4,000 killed, 4,000 prisoners, and 15 pieces of cannon were the trophies of the day, which was a severe blot on the Viceroy's military reputation. His right wing alone was enabled to pass the stream by the bridge of Bruguera without disorder, the centre retiring by the high road; but night saved them from a total overthrow, and they continued their retreat till morning, the weather and the state of the many streams on their march augmenting the disorder. They were at length able to place the Piave between them and their pursuers, and there the Viceroy found the reinforcements he expected, but still fell back to the Adige, which he attained on the 22nd, and took possession of the celebrated position at Caldiero. A good anecdote is told of a Lieutenant Pellegrin in the battle of Sacile. His leg had been carried off by a cannon ball, and some voltigeurs came up to him on the field to carry him off, when he exclaimed : “ Laissez moi, mes amis, dans cette place, et retournez à vos rangs, où votre presence est bien plus nécessaire : il ne faut que le régiment perd sept hommes au lieu qu'un seul. Si l'ennemi est généreux, il prendra soin de moi.” Old campaigners know in what numbers skulkers are ever found ready to perform offices of charity which are not required, and will appreciate the veteran's recommendation.
16. THE TYROL BREAKS INTO INSURRECTION UNDER ANDREAS
HOFER. Coincident with the advance of the Archdukes Charles and John, the Marquis Chastelan gave the signal for revolt to the Tyrolese. The signal agreed upon was simple enough: sawdust was cast upon the waters, which floating down on the stream, announced to the peasants that the time was come on which the emancipation of their country depended; but, besides this and other such signals, the beacon fires blazed on every hill side and summit, on the eventful night of the 8th. The inhabitants were roused into immediate activity by a proclamation of the Archduke John, and were seen in the morning on every side descending the glens of the mountains with their rifies on their