The Battle of Marengo 14 June 1800

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Map Code: Ax03006

This battle, fought between the Austrians at French, in Piedmont, Italy, was a victory for Napoleon, and the culmination of his Italian campaign in the summer of 1800. In June about 31,000 Austrian forces were gathered in the city of Alessandria. Napoleon, fed false information by a double agent, mistakenly believed they were about to retreat, and dispatched a large part of his force of approximately 28,000 to the north and south to prevent the Austrians evading him. This left the Austrians free to launch a surprise attack against the remaining French forces at the village of Marengo, about 3 miles (5 km) southeast of Alessandria. Dispatches were immediately sent out to re-call the dispersed French troops. Major General Claude Victor’s corps bore the brunt of the attack on the French centre, but by early afternoon the French were forced to withdraw eastwards towards St Juliano. By 5pm, unbeknownst to the Austrians, French reinforcements under Major Generals Louis Desaix and Jean Boudet had arrived and the French position stabilized. The French army was able to re-form, ready to confront the pursuing Austrian army. The surprise attack of the cavalry under General François Kellermann, masked by musketry and artillery fire, sent the Austrians into a disordered retreat back to Alessandria, with 14,000 killed, wounded or captured. Napoleon’s victory succeeded in driving the Austrians out of Lombardy and was a huge propaganda coup, consolidating his political and military authority as First Consul in Paris.

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