14 January 1797

Battlefield Guides for Northern Italy

The battle of Rivoli occurred as Austria's General Alvintzy made his fourth and final attempt to relieve the siege of Mantua, which had trapped his colleague General Wurmser and 30,000 of his men.

Advancing with 28,000 men, Alvintzy tried to weaken General Napoleon Bonaparte's force of 10,000 men by launching diversionary attacks, but they did not achieve their desired response.

Bonaparte had a feeling they were only feints and was waiting to hear from General Joubert, who was more likely to receive the main attack. His refusal to be distracted proved correct and when Alvintzy pushed Joubert back, Bonaparte was ready for him.

Early-morning attacks by the Austrians were turned back, but the outnumbered French had to plug gaps to stop being out flanked.

Reinforcements brought Bonaparte's strength to 17,000, but still his army was stretched to the limit beating off simultaneous flank attacks.

Switching men and artillery from one crucial spot to the next, Bonaparte was able to defeat the assaults in turn before unleashing a charge that swept away the tired Austrians.

The next day the pursuit routed Alvintzy who, in two days of fighting, had lost 14,000 men killed, wounded or captured.

Bonaparte had lost 5000, but ensured the surrender of Mantua and the conquest of the important Po valley.




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