Thursday, September 8, 2011

Battle of Bassano

‘…As soon as Buonaparte learned this new separation of Wurmser from a large division of his army, he anticipated the possibility of defeating the Field-marshal himself, driving him from his position at Bassano, and of consequence, cutting off at his leisure the division of Mezaros, which had advanced so far to the southward as effectually to compromise its safety.

To execute this plan required the utmost rapidity of movement; for, should Wurmser learn that Buonaparte was advancing towards Bassano, in time to recall Mezaros, he might present a front too numerous to be attached with hope of success. There are twenty leagues' distance betwixt Trent and Bassano, and that ground was to be traversed by means of very difficult roads, in the space of two days at farthest. But it was in such circumstances that the genius of Napoleon triumphed, through the enthusiastic power which he possessed over the soldiery, and by which he could urge them to the most incredible exertions. He left Trent on the 6th September' at break of day, and reached, in the course of the evening, Borgo di Val Lugano, a march of ten French leagues. A similar forced inarch of five leagues and upwards, brought him up with Wurmser's advanced-guard, which was strongly posted at Primolano.

The effect of the surprise, and the impetuosity of the French attack, surmounted all the advantages of position. The Austrian double lines were penetrated by a charge of three French columns—the cavalry occupied the high road, and cut off the enemy's retreat on Bassano — in a word, Wurmser's vanguard was totally destroyed, and more than four thousand men laid down their arms…’

The Battle of Bassano was fought on September 8, 1796.  Napoleon scored a strong victory over Austrian forces, who were under General Dagobert von Wurmser.  The text above is from Sir Walter Scott’s “Life of Napoleon Buonaparte”.

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