Eagles over the Alps: Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland, 1799

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Instead of advancing to help Allied forces, Suvorov's army was marching into a mountainous country controlled by French troops. He blamed the Austrians for not providing enough wagons and food, but in fact the Allied army had suffered serious losses at Novi.


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Suvorov sent some troops in that direction, but they returned after it was determined that the French did not intend to follow up their success. In mid, Allied strategists made a monumental strategic miscalculation. Grenville authored a scheme in which Korsakov with 45, Russians would be joined in Switzerland by Suvorov and 20, Russians advancing north from Italy. Once Korsakov was securely in position in central Switzerland, Feldzeugmeister Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen would march his 60, troops north into Germany, leaving 18, Austrians under Hotze to cooperate with the Russians.

Emperor Francis and his foreign minister Johann Amadeus von Thugut accepted the plan because it came to them from Emperor Paul and it was a convenient reason to get Suvorov out of Italy. Anxious about Korsakov's Russians, Charles stated, "I don't know how they will manage, especially if we take ourselves off any distance". Korsakov was alarmed when the plan was disclosed to him on 12 August.

The Russian general remarked that he had 28, fit troops rather than the 45, presumed by the strategists. The Russian commander requested a two-month delay, but Francis demanded that Suvorov move immediately. Thugut also insisted that Charles take his army out of Switzerland at once. Hotze underestimated Massena's numbers at 60, French and Swiss troops; in fact, there were 76, Historian Christopher Duffy judged that the "strategy foundered on crucial issues of numbers, geography, direction and timing". Bad timing proved fatal to the enterprise.

Charles left Switzerland too early and Suvorov arrived in Switzerland too late. In early September, the Allied generals began planning to implement their governments' strategy. Hotze's command was split into two divisions. He personally accompanied 8, troops along the lower Linth between Lake Zurich and the Walensee. The second 10,man division under Feldmarschall-Leutnant Friedrich von Linkin was farther south and east.

Jellacic with 4, soldiers held Sargans , Simbschen with 3, troops was along the Vorderrhein valley, and Auffenburg with 2, was at Disentis.

Battle of Gotthard Pass

Linkin accompanied Simbschen's brigade and Auffenburg was detailed to help Suvorov. Colonel Gottfried von Strauch led a 4,man Austrian brigade that was at the foot of the Gotthard Pass.


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There were several routes that Suvorov's army could take to intervene in Switzerland. Farthest east was the route past Lake Como and over the Maloja Pass , though it involved a large detour. Both of these routes could accommodate wagons and cannons. The route farthest to the west was across the Simplon Pass. The good road over it was not built until The pass had a pack road which could be used by a mule train, but wagons and medium cannons were out of the question. The Gotthard Pass was known to be occupied by the French and it appealed to "Suvorov's instinct for direct action".

The Allies hoped to assault the Gotthard Pass as early as 19 September. The Allied plan included the accumulation of ten days of food and 1, mules at Bellinzona by the Austrians. But even these would only provide Suvorov's army a few days of supplies. Suvorov counted on Korsakov and Hotze amassing supplies for his troops in Switzerland.

On 7 September, the Russians prepared for their march to the Gotthard Pass.

EPIC Alps in 4 Seasons 4k from Above - Switzerland, Germany, and Italy

A French sortie delayed the Russians for a few days, but they soon began a force march that took them as far as Taverne on 15 September. Without pay, the muleteers deserted with their animals so that there were only mules collected at Bellinzona.

Eagles Over The Alps, Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland - Military History Press

After days of enforced idleness, Suvorov accepted Grand Duke Constantine's idea to dismount 1, of his Cossacks and use their horses as pack animals. This was a difficult choice because the Cossacks' mounts were their own property, not army issue. The artillery was armed with 25 Piedmontese light 2-pounder cannons.

On 19 September, Rosenberg's corps left Taverne for Bellinzona. Rosenberg's troops crossed the Lukmanier Pass on 23 September and reached Disentis in the Vorderrhein valley. The troops marched in heavy rain and a number of both men and horses were killed in falls when crossing the pass. At Biasca, the column continued up the Ticino valley and by the evening of 23 September reached the town of Faido.

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Strauch's Austrians joined Derfelden's column along the way. Gudin's brigade numbered 3, men and consisted of the 67th and th Line Infantry Demi-brigades and three grenadier companies. Loison's brigade was 2,strong and was made up of the 38th and 76th Line Infantry Demi-brigades. Lecourbe was in Altdorf at the northern end of the upper Reuss valley with the man divisional reserve of nine grenadier companies. Molitor's brigade was far to the east near Glarus on the upper Linth River. The 67th Line defended the Gotthard Pass, the th Line held the Oberalp Pass and the village of Andermatt , and Loison's brigade was posted near Amsteg in the center of the upper Reuss valley.

Massena ordered Lecourbe to advance east on 25 September as part of a general offensive against the Allies.

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Suvorov was about to assault Lecourbe from the south, catching his opponent off-balance. As early as 5 September, rumors reached the French that Suvorov was coming north with 25, troops, but Lecourbe discounted the stories.

modernpsychtraining.com/cache/apps/wi-smartphone-locate.php His patrols detected Strauch's Austrians in the Ticino valley and from 20 September there were even reports of Russian soldiers nearby. Lecourbe put Gudin's brigade on alert, but did not budge from his headquarters in Altdorf. Suvorov's plan of attack for 24 September called for the main effort by Derfelden's Russians and Strauch's Austrians against the Gotthard Pass. This thrust would be assisted by a right-hook by Rosenberg's Russians across the Oberalp Pass that would seize Andermatt north of the Gotthard.

Auffenberg's Austrians would make a deeper right hook and block the upper Reuss valley at Amsteg. This hike might take an unencumbered person two and a half hours, but the Russians and Austrians would have to carry a musket, ammunition, battle gear, and full haversack with French firearms blazing in their faces. The advance to the foot of the Gotthard Pass fell badly behind schedule so that the attack did not start until pm. The French quickly abandoned Airolo and established themselves in improvised defenses on the slopes above. The right column consisted of Bagration's advance guard followed by Schveikovsky's division.

It climbed the right side of the valley, aiming for Cima del Bosco. Bagration's orders called for detaching four battalions over the mountain to gain the pass by a flanking move. The center column was made up of Forster's division and two battalions of the Austrian Wallis Infantry Regiment. It advanced directly up the Val Tremola. The left column was formed from the Russian Veletsky Infantry Regiment and the remainder of Strauch's Austrian brigade.

Its assignment was to block the valley leading west to prevent any interference from French troops under General of Division Louis Marie Turreau.

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The assault ran into fierce French resistance at once. Schveikovsky's division inexplicably veered downhill into the valley and the Russian attack stalled. Seeing his soldiers falter, Suvorov lay down in a ditch and asked to be buried. He announced, "You are no longer my children, and I am no longer your father. There is nothing left to me but to die. The story was denied by some, but it was just the sort of theatrics that Suvorov often used to inspire his troops.