Italian and Swiss campaigns of Suvorov (1799): causes and results

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Italian and Swiss campaigns of Suvorov (1799): causes and results
Italian and Swiss campaigns of Suvorov (1799): causes and results

Suvorov's campaign in Italy, as part of the military operations of the troops of the Second Coalition against the French armies of Napoleon Bonaparte, like many of his battles, was brilliant. Endowed with unlimited powers, which he received from the emperor, Suvorov won a number of brilliant victories in Italy. This dismayed Russia's allies, in particular Austria. They insisted on transferring hostilities to Switzerland.

Suvorov's campaign


There were several reasons for Suvorov's campaigns. The military-political situation that developed in the last years of the 18th century was extremely difficult. These years were marked by the decentralization of the power of the Holy Roman Empire, revolutionary events in France. Italian campaign of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796-1797. led to the fact that Northern Italy for Austria was lost.

In 1798, Napoleon convinced the Directory of the need to go to Egypt in order to have a colony on the Red Sea andthe shortest route to India. This caused discontent and anxiety in Britain, which controlled all the routes to its colony.

To restrain the expansion of France, in 1799 a military coalition is created, which includes Austria, Great Britain, the Kingdom of Naples, several German principalities, Sweden and Russia, whose interests were to return to Austria all the lost lands in Italy, to restore the French monarchy and the suppression of the revolutionary movement in Europe. This preceded the military campaigns of Suvorov.

Suvorov's hike through the Alps

The alignment of forces

Austria had a 210,000-strong army at the start of the 1799 military campaign against France.

  • In the south of Germany there was an 80,000-strong army commanded by Archduke Karl.
  • The 48,000th army of Count Bellegarde is in Tyrol.
  • In Italy, the 86,000-strong army of General Melas.

Russia has provided 65,000 soldiers for combat operations and quartered another 85,000 soldiers on the border.

The French Directory had slightly fewer soldiers stationed:

  • In the borderlands of Mainz and Alsace, the 45,000-strong armies of Jourdan and Berandot.
  • In Switzerland, a 48,000-strong army, which included citizens of the Helvetic Republic, under the command of General Massena.
  • Scherer's army of 58,000 was stationed in Northern Italy.
  • The 34,000-strong Neapolitan army of MacDonald stood in Central and Southern Italy.

The Austrian government insisted thatthe consolidated troops in Italy were commanded by Field Marshal A. V. Suvorov, who arrived on March 25 in Vienna. In addition, the Russian squadron of F.F. Ushakov entered the Mediterranean Sea.

reasons for Suvorov's campaigns

The start of the Italian campaign

In April, Suvorov arrived in Valeggio, where Russian troops began to approach. He was waiting for Rosenberg's corps, teaching the Austrian soldiers his "Science of Victory". After the corps of Povalo-Shveikovsky arrived here, the army set out on a campaign. Suvorov demanded passage of at least 28 versts a day, which made his troops mobile and light in any maneuvers.

Having under his command 66 thousand people, Suvorov and his troops advanced towards the fortresses of Mantua and Peschiera, crossing the Chiese River. Leaving 14,5 thousand soldiers for their siege, Suvorov's army moved on. At the Battle of Casano, 5,000 Frenchmen were taken prisoner.

Italian campaign and its results

The Italian campaign of Suvorov, which began in early April, was completed on August 11, 1799. Almost all of Italy was liberated from the French. Surprise and maneuverability did their job. They gave the field marshal the opportunity, anticipating the plans of the French generals, to skillfully prevent them, taking the initiative in his own hands.

During the four months of the campaign, battles took place in which the allies managed to win. Capture of the fortresses of Brescia, Lecca. Battle of the Adda River, liberation of Milan, capture of the fortresses of Mantua and Alessandria. The successes were stunning, the population treated the Russian troops favorably. All this caused fear andenvy of the allies, who tried in every possible way to impede Suvorov's plans.

results of Suvorov's campaigns

Allied differences

The tone in the campaign was set by the Vienna Supreme War Council, pursuing, above all, its own interests. They did not correspond to the strategy and tactics of the great commander. The constant interference of the Vienna Military Council has led to irreconcilable differences.

It got to the point that all orders to Suvorov were sent through the Russian emperor. The Italian and Swiss campaigns of Suvorov in 1799 were only needed to return the previously lost lands to the Austrians. Intrigues began against the famous commander, which resulted in a delay in the supply of food and fodder.

In August, the commander receives a new order, according to which all Russian troops were to leave Italy and concentrate in Switzerland to attack France. Thus ended the Italian campaign of Suvorov.

Italian and Swiss campaigns of Suvorov 1799

Reasons for the transfer of Russian troops to Switzerland

There was a hundred thousand French army in this country. It was commanded by General Massena. He was opposed by the Russian-Austrian units, commanded by Lieutenant General A. M. Rimsky-Korsakov and Field Marshal F. von Gotze. Each member of the coalition pursued its own goals, trying to take the maximum possible from Russia and squeeze it out under a favorable pretext. In principle, Russia had one goal in this campaign - the restoration of the French monarchy.

All of Italywas practically liberated from the French, only Genoa remained, in which the remnants of Moreau's army were concentrated. The logical step was to complete the operation and liberate Italy completely. But the Austrian government is sending Russian troops to Switzerland. Suvorov's campaign through the Alps was coming.

Suvorov's military campaigns

Move to Switzerland

Field Marshal was ordered to make a dangerous crossing through the Alps to join the army of Rimsky-Korsakov and the troops of von Gozzi. The start of the campaign was delayed for ten days. Russians ceased to interest the Austrians. There was no food, no fodder, and there was no need to talk about clothes and shoes at all.

Suvorov chose the shortest and most difficult route, intending to pass through Reims to join the Russian troops. The Russians passed through the pass and overcame the "devil's bridge", which the French did not mine, assuming that it was impossible for the army to pass through it. Alexander Vasilyevich planned to strike at the rear of the French, but there was no limit to the cunning of the Austrians, they withdrew their units and sent them to Holland, where the British landed troops. The army of Rimsky-Korsakov, many times inferior in number, was defeated and retreated.

Suvorov was surrounded by the French, from which the exhausted passage through the Alps, the units of the Russian army managed to get out only thanks to the great talent of the commander. This was another betrayal of the Austrians, who, with the help of the Russians, defeated the French in Italy, then sent them without provisions and clothes to certain death to an outnumbered enemy.

ResultsSuvorov's campaigns

This is a real mystery for military historians, how the army of the commander in 16 days was able to pass 300 kilometers of mountainous terrain, cross 7 passes with battles, without suffering a single defeat, save the army and get out of the encirclement, capturing 1500 French soldiers.

There are no analogues in world military history. Suvorov received the title of Generalissimo for these campaigns. The set goal - to defeat the French troops - was not achieved. But not because of the Russians, but because of the betrayal of the Austrian elite. Most historians agree on this.

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