Italian Campaigns 4 May 1796–8 April 1797

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Map Code: Ax01382

‘They’ve sent a young madman who attacks right and left, front and rear. It’s an intolerable way of making war’. The comments of a Piedmontese officer in Italy encapsulate the impact of Napoleon, unleashed on traditional militaries. Outnumbered and ill-provisioned, his genius for misdirection and lightning speed of movement repeatedly bamboozled and eventually demoralized his opponents. The first masterstroke was to split his enemies, then with a battery of attacks drive the Piedmontese out of the war. Now, he was able to concentrate on his primary opponents, the Austrians. Defeating them at Lodi, he entered Milan in triumph, and after repulsing repeated Austrian relief efforts, captured Mantua. Taking a brief, but territorially profitable, diversion into the Papal States, Napoleon pursued the retreating Austrians east. He was within 75 miles (120 km) of Vienna when the Austrian emperor sued for peace, conceding Belgium to France, while northern Italy was parcelled up into French protectorates.

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