The Second Coalition (2)

1798 to 1801

Attacking the Russians at Zurich, Massena routed General Alexander Korsakov's troops effectively won control of Switzerland from the Allies.

In the Netherlands, the Allied efforts were hampered by poor supply lines and worse co-operation. The Duke of York's forces were halted twice within a fortnight at Bergen and a third poor result at Castricum on 6 October had the commander reassessing the campaign. When the prime target for the invasion - the Dutch fleet - fell into French hands, he abandonned the venture.

Another who was sick of the war was Tsar Paul I, who gave up on being part of the coalition.

However, a more dangerous thing occurred on 9-10 November 1799. The returning General Bonaparte staged the Coup de Brumaire, ending the Directory and setting the stage for his own, new vision, for France.

One of Bonaparte's first aims was to regain the territories lost in Italy. Only Massena remained on Italian soil, and he was locked in an under-siege Genoa.

With the Austrians forcing French forces through Nice on the Cote d'Ázur, Bonaparte decided on a daring campaign that would see his army cross the Alps and, hopefully, surprise the enemy and cut them off from their homeland.

The Austrian commander, General Michael Melas, quickly pulled his men back to face the new threat. The only good news he received was that of the surrender of Massena.

It was, however, the beginning of a dire period for Austria. An Austrian army was beaten at Montebello by General Jean Lannes, but the situation almost worked in Melas' favour as an overconfident Bonaparte stretched his forces too far and walked into the Austrian commander's full force at Marengo.

It was almost a battle of two halves as first the Austrians had the decisive edge, then the arrival of General Louis Desaix and reinforcements swung it entirely in France's favour.

The ensuing rout destroyed Austria's army in Italy and any hopes for the Second Coalition.

In the German theatre, Moreau beat the Austrians at Stockach, Moskirch, Ulm and Hochstadt - a series of defeats that led to the replacement of General Paul Kray with the Archduke John.

The last major battle of the Second Coalition was at Hohenlinden where the Austrians again were decisively beaten.

With French forces advancing on Vienna from several directions the Austrians sued for peace and signed the Treaty of Luneville.

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