Battle of Borghetto

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Battle of Borghetto
date May 30, 1796
place on the Mincio
output Victory of France
Parties to the conflict

France 1804First French Republic France

Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy Austria


France 1804First French Republic Napoleon Bonaparte Charles Augereau André Masséna
France 1804First French Republic
France 1804First French Republic

Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy Jean-Pierre de Beaulieu Karl Sebottendorf Michael Melas
Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy
Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy

Troop strength
about 31,000 men available, about 25,000 in combat about 28,000 men available, about 14,000 in combat

about 500 men

572 men

The battle of Borghetto am Mincio was part of the First Coalition War and took place on May 30, 1796 in the northern Italian theater of war . During the Mincio transition at Borghetto, Bonaparte's advancing French avant-garde encountered the center of the Austrian Mincio position, which had holed up in the village of Borghetto and on the heights of Valeggio . A smaller part of Feldzeugmeister Beaulieu's army was attacked by the French with overwhelming strength, divided and forced to retreat behind the Adige . This enabled the French to advance to the siege of the cut off fortress of Mantua , where a strong Austrian garrison was still held.


At the beginning of May 1796, the French Italian army under General Bonaparte entered Lombardy . On May 7, the Po was crossed at Piacenza and an Austrian division opposed to them under FML Lipthay was thrown back to Pizzighettone . The Adda crossing towards troops under FML Sebottendorf was enforced by the French on May 10 at the Battle of Lodi . The French followed the Austrian commander Beaulieu, whose troops went behind the Mincio via Crema and concentrated at Roverbella . In mid-May the French occupied Milan and Brescia . The Austrian commander, Lieutenant Field Marshal Beaulieu, withdrew the bulk of his army behind the Mincio, but left strong outposts on the western bank of the river. He tried to maintain the connection to the fortress of Mantua. With the treaties with Parma on May 7th and Modena on May 19th, Bonaparte had secured the resources of these countries. At the end of May the French decided to advance to the Mincio, to push the bulk of the Austrian army into the mountains of Tyrol and to enclose Mantua.

On May 24th, Bonaparte left Milan for Brescia when the discontent of the people of Milan turned into open riot. A war tax of 20 million Swiss francs and an enormous requisition had made the French hateful within a very short time. To support the rebellion, the garrison of the not yet conquered fort had made a sortie against the French under General Despinoy . Bonaparte returned immediately with his troops and restored order, and the uprising in Pavia that had broken out at the same time was put down on May 26th.

Enemy of the enemy

General Jean-Baptiste Bessières , whose guard cavalry made a decisive contribution to the division of the Austrian front on the Mincio
Johann Peter Beaulieu

In the middle of May 1796 the Austrian army was standing in front of or behind the Mincio section south of Lake Garda , the bulk of the French army was still distributed along the Adda. The river Mincio leaves Lake Garda at Peschiera and winds about 30 kilometers to the south, at the height of Mantua, it turns to the east. The river was less than 40 meters wide, but the snowmelt made it travel and difficult to bridge in spring. Between Lake Garda and Mantua there were only four bridges at Peschiera, Borghetto, Goito, and Rivalta that were useful for the crossing.

Bonaparte had reorganized his army: the Despinoy division (5,200 men) blocked the citadel of Milan, another 5,500 men were garrisoned in northwestern Italy, while the main force with around 30,800 men advanced against the Mincio.

The Austrian troops defending the Mincio numbered around 14,000 men. In addition, there were about 12,800 men under Field Marshal Lieutenant Josef Canto d'Irles as a garrison in the fortress of Mantua, which was richly stocked. FML Beaulieu had determined the brigades under Gerhard Rossel, Mathias Rukavina and Joseph Philipp Vukasović to defend the city, although these associations had suffered heavy losses at Montenotte and Lodi and the garrison had to care for many wounded. Beaulieu defended the Mincio Line with the following divisions:

The battle

On May 29, the left wing of the French was at Desenzano , the center at Montechiaro and the right wing in front of Castiglione . Early on May 30th, the French troops, who had distracted the enemy by various movements, crossed the Mincio at Borghetto and Peschiera. In order to deceive the Austrians, Bonaparte ordered an additional attack in the direction of Peschiera, which should distract from the main blow at Borghetto. A French brigade under General Rusca began to organize boats for a passage on the west bank of Lake Garda. Instead of concentrating his forces on the bridges, Beaulieu tried to set up a cordon position on the river between Peschiera and Goito with around 14,000 men . In the middle, 4,500 men under Major General Peter Gummer and Colonel Ernst Beust covered the river section at Salionze and Oliosi, another 2,600 men under General Franz Nicoletti stopped at Campagnola and Pozzolo while the 3,100-strong division under Major General Philipp Pittoni defended in and around Valeggio .

The French advance guard under General Kilmaine, which advanced via Castiglione and Solferino , reached the bridge on the Mincio at 9.00 am and began the attack until the Massena division arrived. The infantry of General Augereau's division covered the left flank, while the division under Sérurier to the southeast protected the right flank to Guidizzolo. Individual Austrian battalions of the infantry regiments Strassoldo (No. 27) and Jordis (No. 59) of the Pittoni Brigade defended the crossing as rearguard. The bridge at Borghetto was defended by a strassoldo battalion with only two cannons, but Kilmaines' vanguard was still able to hold off for two hours. The brigade under Major General Prince von Hohenzollern-Hechingen , which was scheduled to counterattack, was also able to hold out at Valeggio until the afternoon. Colonel Gardanne led the grenadiers into the village of Borghetto; where the Austrians destroyed the bridge, which was also under enemy artillery fire from the heights at Valeggio. Colonel Gardanne relaxed the deadlock by finding a ford further downstream, advancing against the left wing of the Austrians and pushing towards Valeggio. The Austrians reacted slowly to the threat of attack. Further north at Salionze, additional attempts by the French to cross the river were recognized. The Colli Brigade also moved north from Goito to help the troops in the middle. From Campagnola, FML Sebottendorf sent additional reinforcements to the center of the battle front, while General Bonaparte, who had arrived in Valeggio, only narrowly escaped captivity.

The Melas division, defeated at Borghetto, gathered the defeated troops of the right wing of the center front and returned to Castelnuovo. Troops under Sebottendorf tried again in vain to take Valeggio back and had to retreat to Villafranca, severely pursued. As a result, the Austrian defense was split, further north the position of the division of FML Liptay before Peschiera became untenable, this backed away violently by French units Augereau, and sought the connection to the already withdrawing division under Melas. During the night Beaulieu's army had withdrawn to an intermediate position between Castelnuovo and Villafranca , and the Adige Valley was reached the following day . The Austrians lost 572 men and 4 guns, the French losses were lower.


The Austrian army had concentrated behind the Adige in the Rovereto area until the beginning of June , and from June 4th the French could afford to attack the Mantua fortress. On June 7th, the fortress was enclosed on all sides; General Serrurier initially blocked Mantua with 9,000 men. Between June 1796 and February 1797 the Austrians carried out several unsuccessful relief attacks to lift the siege of Mantua . On June 27, after stubborn resistance, the citadel of Milan , which was still holding, fell into French hands, 152 cannons and many other supplies were the spoils of the victors. Feldzeugmeister Beaulieu was recalled, and General Wurmser was then given supreme command in Italy.


  • Carl von Clausewitz : Campaign of 1796 in Italy , Ferdinand Dümmler Verlag, Berlin 1823, pp. 99–111 f.
  • Charles-Tristan de Montholon : History of France under Napoleon , Volume III., G. Reimer Verlag, Berlin 1823, p. 169 f.
  • Viktor Hortig: Bonaparte von Mantua , dissertation, Rostock 1903

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Spamers Weltgeschichte Volume VIII, Leipzig 1895, p. 364 f.