1701 – Imperialist invasion of Northern Italy
The campaign lasted from May to December 1701
On 1 November 1700, at the death of King Charles II of Spain, his will designated Philippe Duc d'Anjou, Louis XIV's grandson, as his successor on the throne of Spain. Philippe was proclaimed King of Spain in Madrid on 24 November under the name of Philip V. At the end of December, the new king left Versailles for Spain.
Emperor Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire (also Archduke of Austria) contested Charles II's testament and prepared for war. He despatched couriers to governors of the states depending from the Spanish monarchy to invite them to rally his cause but all of them remained loyal to Spain. The Emperor stated that the Duchy of Milan in particular belonged to the Holy Roman Empire. The Prince of Vaudémont, governor of the duchy was invited to receive Imperial troops, an offer that he declined. The viceroys of Naples and Sicily also turned down the emperor's offers. However, the population of these principalities was generally in favour of the Empire.
As early as 1 December 1700, Emperor Leopold I took the initiative and ordered to FZM Guido Starhemberg to assemble an army of 19,000 foot and 10,000 horse between Trento and Rovereto in South-Tyrol. The Emperor then appointed Prince Eugène de Savoie (not to be confused with the Duke of Savoy) to command this army.
Louis XIV, informed of the assembly of this Imperial army and knowing that the Prince of Vaudémont had not enough troops to defend the Duchy of Milan, decided to send him 40 bns and 56 sqns under Lieutenant-General Comte de Tessé. These troops were instructed to assemble in Franche-Comté, in Dauphiné and in Provence. The king was confident that he could obtain authorisations to pass through Switzerland and the Duchy of Savoy. Nevertheless, he had vessels prepared at Toulon, Marseille and Antibes to transport his troops by sea if his negotiations failed.
Hoping to keep war away from Italy, the Pope tried to form a league with the republics of Venice and Genoa, and the duchies of Savoy, Mantua, Tuscany, Parma, Guastalla and Modena. His goal was to declare the neutrality of all Spanish possessions in Italy. His attempt failed.
The Republic of Venice declared itself neutral. The Republic of Genoa authorised the passage of French troops. Tuscany, Parma, Guastalla, Modena and Mirandola declared themselves neutral despite their known sympathies to the cause of the emperor. The Duke of Mantua was the sole to declare himself for the Bourbon.
On 18 December 1700, the Comte de Tessé set off from Versailles for Italy. Simultaneously, an envoy of the Duke of Milan arrived at Versailles to ask for assistance. The Duchy could field only 6,340 foot, 3,140 horse and 50 field pieces.
At the end of December 1700, Louis XIV resolved to immediately assemble 17 bns and 2 cavalry rgts (Uzès and Bordage), a total of 9,900 foot and 480 horse, at Toulon and to send them by sea to Milan as soon as possible.
On 3 January 1701, Tessé arrived in Milan. The Prince de Vaudémont told him that 24 bns, 3 cavalry rgts and 2 dragoon rgts would be sufficient to secure Italy for the cause of the House of Bourbon. French troops would receive lodging and forage.
From 26 to 29 January, 17 bns and 2 cavalry rgts were transported from Monaco, Antibes and Toulon. Infantry embarked aboard warships and cavalry on transport vessels. They landed at Finale, Vado and Alassio on the coast of Liguria.
On 31 January, the first French units arrived in Alessandria.
On 11 February, the 2 French cavalry rgts disembarked at Finale.
The Comte de Tessé considered that the Imperialists could use four itineraries to invade Northern Italy:
- from Trento along the Adige, the easiest road for artillery
- through the Grisons, debouching on Fort Fuentès and Lake Como
- from Trento to Tirano by Mount San Marco, an unpracticable road as long as there were snow in the mountains
- through Friuli debouching in Vincenza country just three marched from Verona, overall the easiest way
The three first itineraries traversed territories belonging to the Republic of Venice. After reconnoitring the country, Tessé was of the advice that the Imperialists would choose the first itinerary, from Trento along the Adige.
Tessé, considering that the 24 bns, 3 cavalry rgts and 2 dragoon rgts initially required by the Prince de Vaudémont would not be sufficient to effectively defend the Duchy of Milan, also asked Louis XIV to send all the troops that he had initially planned to transfer to Italy. Vaudémont could for his part provide 30 field guns.
From 12 to 20 February, 2 dragoons rgts and 4 cavalry rgts assembled at Briançon and Embrun to form the head of a column of 48 French sqns (approx. 5,100 horse) who would march through Piedmont, a possession of Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy. Furthermore, 1,500 Spanish horse were also on their way from Catalonia, planning to march through Piedmont.
From 13 February to 1 March, a second French contingent of 23 bns was transported from Toulon to the coast of Liguria.
In mid-February, Nigrelli Infantry set off from Inner-Austria for Tyrol.
By the end of February, only two Imperial rgts had reached Tyrol on their way to their assembly place at Trento. All other units were barely moving out of their quarters in Austria and Silesia.
The French cavalry was gradually approaching the frontier of Dauphiné in preparation for the crossing of Piedmont. An artillery train was assembled in Dauphiné for which 150 horses were bought in Switzerland.
France finally signed an accord with Duke Victor Amedeus II of Savoy allowing French troops to cross his duchy and obtaining the support of 16 bns (approx. 8,000 foot) and 2,500 horse from this duchy. For his part, Louis XIV consented to the marriage of the Princess of Savoy with King Philip V of Spain.
The French received intelligence that 2,000 Imperialists had arrived at Bolzano on the frontier of Tyrol, sending detachments as far as Borghetto.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the Imperial army assembling in Trentino in March 1701|
On 11 March, the Prince de Vaudémont and the Comte de Tessé sent a courier to Venice to receive guarantees that the republic would remain neutral and would defend the passages through its territory.
On 12 March, Nigrelli Infantry finally reached the border between Tyrol and Venetia, a detachment taking position at Ala on the Adige.
On 16 March, Vaudémont and Tessé sent 1,500 foot and 200 horse from Cremona towards Castiglione which was already occupied by 700 men of Vaudémont's forces. Meanwhile, M. de Saint-Frémont was sent to Fort Fuentès to guard the area of Lake Como. Finally, the Princess of Mirandola accepted, in exchange of a sum of 500 pistoles, to receive a garrison. Immediately, Don Ferdinand Toralba entered in the place with 250 Spaniards, soon followed by other Spanish troops and by a French battalion.
Furthermore, 20 bns were sent to the border of the duchies of Milan and Mantua. These battalions were soon authorised by the Duke of Mantua, in exchange of a sum of 2,000 pistoles, to occupy a few villages and castles along the Mincio. The 20 bns took position with their right near Mantua and their left near Castiglione.
On his way to inspect the new positions in the Duchy of Mantua, the Comte de Tessé visited the Senate of the Republic of Venice who assured him of the neutrality of their republic; of their willingness to prevent the passage of any foreign troops through its territory; and of their acceptance that French and Spanish troops could take dispositions to defend the entry in its territory. The Adige Valley was occupied by only 400 Venetian troops.
On March 27, Tessé wrote a letter to Louis XIV to expose him the position of the Republic of Venice.
On his return to Desenzano, Tessé received instructions from Louis XIV authorising him to make himself master of Chiusa and of the boats of Lake Garda.
At the end of March, most of the Imperial infantry (Nigrelli, Alt-Starhemberg, Jung-Daun, Bagni, Guido Strahemberg, Herberstein and Guttenstein) destined to the invasion of Northern Italy was assembled in South Tyrol. Their artillery was still at Passau. Some officers serving with the Spanish army (Colonel Count Leiningen, Lieutenant-Colonel Baron Wetzel, 3 captains and a few lieutenants), who did not agree with the succession of the House of Bourbon to the Spanish throne, joined the Imperialists.
Defence of the Adige River
Vaudémont and Tessé, with the authorisation of the Republic of Venice, inspected the course of the Adige up to Fort Croara and reconnoitred all passages between the Adige and Lake Garda. After their reconnaissance, they deployed their troops on the Mincio and then returned to Milan where they arrived on 30 March.
On 1 April, Maréchal Nicolas de Catinat left Paris.
On 4 April, Catinat arrived in Turin to act as second-in-command to Duke Victor Amedeus II of Savoy who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the French, Spanish and Savoyard troops for the coming campaign in Northern Italy.
In the night of 4 to 5 April, the Comte de Tessé advanced troops in front of Mantua, as if he intended to invest the place. This gave to the Duke of Mantua a good pretext to open the doors of the city. Tessé entered into Mantua with 7 bns and 6 guns. Another French battalion was sent to reinforce the garrison of Mirandola.
On 7 April, Catinat arrived in Milan where he assumed command till the Duke of Savoy would join the army.
On 10 April, Catinat resolved to occupy the passages between the Adige and Lake Garda and to throw a bridge of boat on the Adige to ease manoeuvres on both banks. Accordingly, 28 French bns occupied these passages, 7 bns remained in Mantua, 4 bns at the head of Lake Como and at Fort Fuentès and 1 bn in Mirandola. The Prince of Vaudémont promised to reinforce the French army with 7 Spanish bns at the end of the month. Furthermore, Savoyard troops were required from the Duke of Savoy.
On 13 April, Catinat and Tessé left Milan to inspect their future positions.
On 15 April, the French cavalry corps who had been stationed in Dauphiné started their march towards the Duchy of Milan where it was expected between 10 May and 2 June.
On 16 April, Catinat established his headquarters at Castiglione. He did not change the general disposition of troops, sending 2 bns from Alessandria to the Duchy of Mantua. Thus, 21 bns were in the Duchy of Mantua; 14 bns, in Lodi, Cremona and Pizzighettone; 4 bns at Lake Como and Fort Fuentès; and 1 bn in Mirandola. Catinat also asked the king for the 3 militia bns that he intended to send to Italy to garrison places. Overall, France had some 23,400 foot and 1,500 horse in Northern Italy.
On 18 April, Catinat inspected Mantua and asked the king for engineers to repair fortifications.
On 23 April, Catinat returned to Castiglione and reconnoitred the left bank of the Mincio. The Duke of Savoy informed him that he had 7 bns ready to march. Catinat immediately asked him to send them to the Duchy of Milan.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the Imperial army at the beginning of May 1701|
The Imperial army had established a field bakery with three ovens in Ala and Sacco; and a forage magazine in Ala.
On 1 May, Catinat resolved to assemble 25 bns with 6 guns at Goito.
On 5 May, Catinat's first 13 bns (3 Spanish, 10 French) arrived at Goito, including:
- Sault Infanterie (2 bns)
- Vendôme Infanterie (1 bn)
- Royal Comtois Infanterie (2 bns)
- Médoc Infanterie (1 bn)
- Mirabeau Infanterie (1 bn)
- Périgord Infanterie (1 bn)
- Bresse Infanterie (1 bn)
- Quercy Infanterie (1 bn)
- unidentified Spanish units (3 bns)
On 6 May, Catinat marched with 13 bns from Goito to the outpost of Incanal (unidentified location), establishing his headquarters at Rivoli.
On 7 and 9 May, 12 additional bns arrived at Goito, including La Marine (3 bns), Bretagne (1 bn), Morangiès (1 bn) and Croi-Solre (1 bn). Meanwhile, other battalions previously stationed in places of the Duchy of Milan replaced these troops on the Mincio. For his part, the Duke of Savoy found pretexts to delay the departure of the 7 bns that he had previously offered to Catinat.
On 15 May, Catinat was informed that the Imperialists were building a large number of boats and rafts at Rovereto; that 20 guns and the first cavalry units had just arrived in Trento. Catinat immediately gave orders to concentrate his Franco-Spanish army at Goito. He also recalled the 20 French squadrons cantoned in the Duchy of Milan and ordered them to take position on the Oglio. For his part, the Prince de Vaudémont prepared a train of 24 Spanish field pieces at Cremona.
Entry of the Imperialists into Northern Italy
On 20 May, Prince Eugène de Savoie arrived at Rovereto to assume command of the Imperial army, thus replacing FZM Starhemberg. Eugène was seconded by Charles de Lorraine Prince de Commercy, FZM Starhemberg (commanding the infantry) and FZM Börner (commanding the artillery) and General of Cavalry Prince Charles Thomas de Vaudémont (the son of Prince Charles Henri de Vaudémont, the Spanish Governor of Milan). In the evening, Prince Eugène called a war council. By this date, Corbelli Cuirassiers had reached Trento. On the same day, Catinat confided a strong outpost at Mount Ferrara to M. de Vaubécourt at the head of 7 bns. Catinat was informed that the Imperialists had thrown a bridge at Mori downstream from Rovereto and that an Imperial dragoon rgt (Serényi Dragoons) had joined their 5 infantry rgts at Trento.
On 21 May, Prince Eugène resumed his war council in Rovereto. It was decided to advance through the Alps near Trento, a very difficult road but one considered as more secure for the army. On the same day, Catinat started to have doubt that the Imperialists would try to enter into Northern Italy by the Adige, believing instead that they would march from Trento to Lodrone to the west of Lake Garda. Catinat was convinced that the Venetian commander of the Fortress of Rocca-d'Anfo on the road to Lodrone would refuse passage to the Imperialists. Catinat ordered his cavalry to move closer at Canneto and Scandolara where it would arrive between 28 and 31 May. For his part, the Duke of Savoy had found new pretexts to delay the departure of his regiments.
Supply difficulties hampered Eugène's preparations. In his strong positions of the Rivoli defile above Verona, Catinat thought himself secure, as all the country to the east was Venetian and neutral. But Eugène, while making ostentatious preparations to enter Italy by the Adige or Lake Garda or the Biescia road, secretly reconnoitred passages over the mountains between Rovereto and the Vicenza district.
On 23 May, Eugène reconnoitred the Franco-Spanish positions on the Adige. In the evening, he received confirmation that the Republic of Venice authorised his army to march through its territory without opposition so long as his troops behaved well.
On 24 May, GFWM Count Guttenstein returned from his reconnaissance of the Franco-Spanish positions at Montebaldo.
On 25 May, the entire Imperial infantry along with Serényi Dragoons moved from Rovereto and Trento closer to the border. The infantry assembled near Ala where a bridge on the Adige had been prepared.
On May 26 in the morning, FML Pálffy at the head of Corbelli Cuirassiers, Serényi Dragoons and Dietrichstein Dragoons, with 6 guns marched through the mountains by Terragnolo and Val Arsa and then south towards Legnano (upon his arrival there, Pálffy was charged to assemble enough boats to throw a bridge on the Adige). Meanwhile, Prince Eugène tried to draw Catinat's attention towards Monte Baldo, sending General Guttenstein with 4 bns (2 bns of Nigrelli, 1 bn of Alt-Starhemberg, 1 bn of Guttenstein) and 100 men from Dietrichstein Dragoons to take position opposite this town to observe the enemy. Eugène also called the militia of Mori, Brentonico, Ala and Avio to arms. Prince Eugène urged his troops to behave correctly while marching through the territory of the Republic of Venice. In the evening (26 May), he sent Major Count Wallenstein to Verona to ask the Proveditore Molino representing the republic to name a commissar to accompany his army. Furthermore, Eugène's secret envoy to Venice, Count Bercka, returned to his camp with the authorisation to proceed.
On the morning of 27 May, everything being ready, Eugène went from Rovereto to Ala and, taking infinite precautions as to secrecy, then gave the order to march by paths that no army had used since Charles V's time. The army marched in several divisions:
- an infantry corps (Alt-Starhemberg (3 bns) and Bagni (3 bns)) with 20 regimental guns accompanied 400 picked cavalry (from Corbelli Cuirassiers and Serényi Dragoons) from Ala along the left bank of the Adige towards Fredda, reaching Sega in the evening
- an infantry corps (Guido Starhemberg (3 bns) and Herberstein (3 bns)) from Ala to Peri
- another infantry corps under Colonel Count Daun (Guttenstein (2 bns), Jung-Daun (4 bns)) from Ala to Borghetto where it had to wait for further instructions
- FML Pálffy continued his march through Val Arsa, cuirassiers and dragoons had to dismount
- the greatest part of the heavy artillery and of the baggage were left behind at Rovereto along their escort (1 bn of Guido Starhemberg Infantry) until the roads could be secured
- General Guttenstein was instructed to occupy Monte Baldo with his detachment if the enemy retired from this post
In the night of 27 to 28 May, Starhemberg reached Schio, only 25 km to the north-west of Vincenza and immediately put his men at work to prepare the road.
On 28 May
- Prince Eugène personally went from Ala towards Sega. Meanwhile, the Imperial corps who had reached Peri the previous day marched through the mountains to Fosse. The 16 regimental guns had to be hoisted to the heights with ropes; wagons had to be disassembled and carried. The Imperial infantry gathered at Breonio where it was joined by Prince Eugène in the evening. Upon arrival, Eugène sent a detachment of 60 dragoons forward along the Adige.
- In the morning, Catinat and Vaudémont, informed of the movements of Eugène's army which was now on the plains, took new dispositions for their army of 54 bns (40 French and 14 Spanish for a total of 23,400 French foot and 8,190 Spanish foot) and 74 sqns (60 French and 14 Spanish for a total of 7,200 French horse and 1,680 Spanish horse). All infantry units previously encamped at Goito were instructed to advance in the Adige Valley and all the cavalry to assemble at Villafranca. They had been completely surprised, for they had counted upon Venetian neutrality.
On 29 May
- Pálffy cavalry corps (18 sqns) marched from Schio to Montebello. The Imperial infantry encamped at Breonio.
- Catinat personally went to Villafranca to redeploy his cavalry along the Adige from Verona to Legnago to prevent Starhemberg's cavalry corps, posted at Schio, to throw bridges on the Lower Adige. However, when Catinat saw that the river was still too swollen to allow passage, he distributed his cavalry differently: 26 sqns in Goito, 20 sqns in Canneto, 8 sqns at Aqua-Negra near Cremona. He sent only 2 French dragoon rgts and 7 Spanish sqns to Oppeano near Isola-Rizza on the Adige between Verona and Legnago. He also deployed his infantry as follows: 31 French bns and 7 Spanish bns at Rivoli and La Ferrara, 9 bns at Bussolengo, and 7 French bns and 7 Spanish bns between Bussolengo and Rivoli.
On 30 May
- Prince Eugène had finally received the entire artillery train for his 20 regimental guns at Breonio.
- Pálffy's Cavalry Corps marched towards the Lower Adige.
- Catinat established his headquarters at Bussolengo. The Duke of Savoy finally sent 1 bn from Vercelli with promises of additional battalions in the near future.
On 31 May
- Lothringen Cuirassiers, arriving from Austria, joined the Imperial army at Breonio
- The French threw a bridge on the Adige at Bussolengo. Vaudémont and Catinat feared that the Imperialists would march against the Kingdom of Naples. They redirected the galleys, who had escorted the French transports up to Finale, to Naples.
- Louis XIV decided to send 6 new battalions to the Duchy of Milan in addition to the 5 militia battalions already on their way. He also sent 9 bns and 20 sqns to Franche-Comté.
Passage of the Adige by the Imperialists
On the night of 31 May to June 1, the Prince of Commercy was sent to supervise the establishment of a bridge on the Adige at Legnano.
On June 1
- A corps (Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers, the heavy artillery, 1 bn of Alt-Starhemberg Infantry, the supply train and 4 coys of Deák Hussars) marched eastwards from Rovereto towards Posina, Arsiero, Piovene Rocchette and Schio on a road prepared in the preceding days
- Vaudémont's Corps (Savoyen Dragoons, Vaudémont Cuirassiers, Pálffy Cuirassiers, 1 bn of Guido Starhemberg Infantry, Taaffe Cuirassiers, Commercy Cuirassiers, Pfalz-Neuburg Cuirassiers) marched from Ala towards Fredda, Sega, Breonio and Fosse
- Guttenstein's Corps (Visconti Cuirassiers, 4 bns of Mansfeld Infantry, 4 bns of Nigrelli Infantry, 1 bn of Herberstein Infantry, 1 bn of Bagni Infantry, 1 bn of Guttenstein Infantry, 100 men of Dietrichstein Dragoons) marched on Monte Baldo
- Catinat sent the cavalry corps assembled at Goito to make a junction with the cavalry detachment posted at Oppeano. Together these cavalry units totalled 26 sqns under the Chevalier de Tessé and M. de Marsin.
Each day, new units joined the army of Prince Eugène who had extended its positions along the Adige. Eugène's first object was to cross the Adige without fighting. His army now consisted of 32 bns (in 8 rgts) and some 70 sqns.
From 2 to 4 June, the 28 sqns previously posted at Canneto and Aqua-Negra took position at Goito, thus replacing the squadrons who had been sent to Oppeano.
On 3 June, a small detachment of 25 men of Pálffy's Corps passed the Adige by boat and attacked a French outpost at Albaredo, taking 1 ensign and 9 men prisoners.
On 4 June, the Imperial infantry encamped at Breonio and Borghetto marched towards Legnago, encamping at Sant'Antonio (more probably Sant'Ambrogio). Pálffy's Cavalry Corps, encamped at Cologna, pushed detachment up to Albaredo on the Lower Adige.
On 5 June
- Eugène at the head of a strong corps of infantry and 4,000 horse marched by Verona along the Adige and encamped near San Martino.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the Imperial army on 6 June 1701|
On 6 June
- Informed that most of the Imperial infantry formerly posted on the Upper Adige had now joined Prince Eugène at San Martino, Catinat recalled most of his troops stationed on the Upper Adige, leaving only 14 bns at Rivoli, 500 men at La Ferrara and 4 bns at Bussolengo. Catinat reinforced the post of Oppeano with 5 bns and disposed the rest of his new units in three divisions from Oppeano to Cadidavid in front of Verona. Catinat and Vaudémont then established their headquarters at Cadidavid.
On 10 June
- Prince Eugène sent GFWM Serény at the head of Pálffy Cuirassiers to reinforce Pálffy's Corps near Legnano
- A few Imperial bns and some cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel Horn tried to force the French position at La Ferrara on the Upper Adige. Lieutenant-General de Crenan came to the relief of this outpost with the grenadiers and piquets of the 14 bns stationed at Rivoli, along with 1,000 men detached from these same battalions, forcing the Imperialists to retire.
On the night of 13 to 14 June, Pálffy threw a bridge over the Lower Adige at Castelbaldo.
On 14 June
- Prince Eugène decided to accelerate his movements towards the Lower Adige. In the morning, GFWM Count Bagni was sent with Alt-Starhemberg Infantry and Bagni Infantry and 10 pieces towards Pálffy's camp.
- In the afternoon, Eugène held a council of war. In the evening, accompanied by Commercy and Guido Starhemberg, Eugène hurried to Pálffy's camp, sending instructions to GFWM Bagni to make a night march to reach Pálffy's camp as soon as possible and to send entrenching tools and artillery ahead.
- For his part, Pálffy ordered his troops to entrench solidly on the right bank of the Adige
On 15 June
- The French learned about Pálffy's bridge at Castelbaldo.
- The Duke of Savoy finally sent 3 additional bns along with 1 cavalry rgt and 1 dragoon rgt to join the Franco-Spanish army.
- Already, 6 cavalry and dragoon rgts and 4 infantry rgts were marching towards the bridge at Castelbaldo.
- FML Count Herberstein and GFWM Count Dietrichstein marched from San Martino towards Caltelbaldo with Herberstein Infantry, Guido Starhemberg Infantry, Taaffe Cuirassiers, Lothringen Cuirassiers and the 10 remaining pieces.
- By then, the Imperialists had only 2 infantry rgts 2 cavalry rgts and 1 dragoon rgt left on the Upper Adige between Legnago and Verona and 1 dragoon rgt and 2 infantry rgts on the Adige.
- In the evening, Prince Thomas de Vaudémont, who had been left in command of the camp at San Martino was informed that the French were trying to establish a bridge at Bussolengo. If such an operation succeeded, the Imperialists line of communication would be seriously compromised. Accordingly, Prince Thomas immediately marched from San Martino at the head of the Savoyen Dragoons, Commercy Cuirassiers and Vaudémont Cuirassiers towards Pescantina, leaving only 400 men of Commercy Cuirassiers, Guttenstein Infantry and Jung-Daun Infantry behind in his camp.
- During the night, the part of Commercy Cuirassiers accompanying Prince Thomas was sent back to San Martino. Indeed, he had just been joined by Visconti Cuirassiers arriving from Peri. However, it seems that Prince Thomas had received bad intelligence and that the French never undertook such an endeavour.
When the Imperialists got near to the Po River, the troops of the Pope retired from the region of Ferrare.
On 16 June
- Eugène ordered Prince Thomas de Vaudémont to return to the camp of San Martino and established his headquarters at Arcole, north of Albaredo
- Eugène intended to ravage the Duke of Mantua's private estates (sparing the possessions of the common people) to induce that prince to change sides. However, even with a bridge on the Lower Adige, Eugène still had to pass the Canalbianco before entering in the Duchy of Mantua.
- Catinat resolved to extend his right up to the Po River, sending 3 bns to Ostiglia and Ponte-Molino. Tessé was still at Oppeano with 10 bns and 38 sqns, 3 infantry brigades were posted between Oppeano and Bussolengo; 3 bns had been left near Lake Como; finally 14 bns were still posted in the area of Rivoli. Supposing that the Imperialists intended to invade the Spanish possessions south of the Po, Catinat had thinned out his line until it reached to the Po.
On 17 June
- Prince Eugène reconnoitred the Po and the Tartaro (part of the Canalbianco) where he saw very few French patrols.
- After this reconnaissance, FML Pálffy started preparation to pass the Canalbianco and Eugène to concentrate his army. He sent orders to Guttenstein to send Mansfeld Infantry (3 bns), Nigrelli Infantry (1 bn), Alt-Starhemberg Infantry (1 bn) and 50 men of Dietrichstein Dragoons to the main army.
- Prince Thomas de Vaudémont was instructed to join the army with Commercy Cuirassiers, Jung-Daun Infantry and Guttenstein Infantry, previously encamped at San Martino. However, FML Count Herberstein was ordered to remain at Bevilacqua with Herberstein Infantry and Bagni Infantry.
- Count Guido Starhemberg, who had just replaced Pálffy as commander at Castelbaldo, was informed that the French had abandoned their outpost at Carpi. He immediately sent a patrol (21 horse) to verify this assertion. This patrol reached Carpi without encountering enemies. However, it was soon driven out of the outpost by a stronger French horse detachment, which was just arriving.
- Catinat personally went to Oppeano.
On 18 June
- Prince Thomas de Vaudémont arrived at the Imperial camp of Arcole with his corps
- Catinat, at the head of the 10 bns and 38 sqns posted at Oppeano, marched to Legnago, leaving 1 bn at Ronco. Catinat also sent M. de Saint-Fremont and M. de Cambout to Carpi with 4 dragoon rgts and Leuville Infanterie (2 bns).
- The Prince of Vaudémont still feared an offensive of the Imperialists on the Upper Adige and Catinat had to leave troops in these quarters, troops who were badly needed on the Lower Adige.
In the night of 18 to 19 June, Saint-Fremont and Cambout at the head of 2 grenadier coys and 100 fusiliers seized the post of Baruchella on the Canalbianco. There were still very few Imperial troops who had passed the Adige at Castelbaldo.
On 19 June
- Prince Eugène sent Guttenstein Infantry, Jung-Daun Infantry and Commercy Cuirassiers to reinforce Herberstein at Bevilacqua. He also recalled GFWM Vaubonne from the camp of San Martino with Savoyen Dragoons and Vaudémont Cuirassiers, leaving Visconti Cuirassiers behind.
- Count Guido Starhemberg had prepared the boats for the bridge destined to pass the Canalbianco at Canda. He then reconnoitred the area of Carpi, Spinimbecco and Villa Bartolomea.
- Informed that the Imperialists planned to transfer boats from the Lower Adige to the Canalbianco, Catinat sent 5 guns to reinforce his post at Carpi.
On 20 June, Prince Eugène personally came to Castelbaldo.
On the night of 20 to 21 June, Imperial detachments passed the Canalbianco and advanced up to Castelguglielmo.
On 21 June
- A large number of Imperial troops converged towards the bridge at Castelbaldo.
On 22 June, Catinat, still convinced that the Imperialists intended to pass the Po, personally went to the outpost of Ostiglia on the Po. Already, 7 bns were working at entrenchments at Ostiglia and Ponte-Molino.
On 23 June, Catinat returned to Legnago.
By 25 June
- The main body of Eugène's army was encamped near the bridge at Castelbaldo.
- Catinat and Vaudémont were still requiring reinforcements, arguing that Eugène had already received 2 additional cavalry rgts and 1 infantry rgt and that another 10,000 men were on their way to join him.
On 26 June, FML Pálffy passed the Adige with 4,000 horse. Meanwhile, the first half of Pfalz-Neuburg Cuirassiers arrived at Rovereto.
On 27 June, the Imperial field artillery finally left Rovereto and marched by Tiene (unidentified location). It was to be followed by the Pfalz-Neuburg Cuirassiers while Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers took the road towards Fredda.
On the night of 27 to 28 June, Alt-Starhemberg Infantry and Bagni Infantry along with 100 horse passed the Adige at Castelbaldo and marched towards Canda and Castelguglielmo on the Canalbianco. A bridge was established at Castelguglielmo and its bridgehead protected by entrenchments occupied by 200 men.
On 28 June
- Catinat was informed that the Imperialists had thrown a bridge on the Canalbianco near Canda in front of Castelguglielmo and that all their troops previously posted on the Upper Adige were now at Castelbaldo.
On 29 June
- A cavalry brigade (Serényi Dragoons, Dietrichstein Dragoons, Pálffy Cuirassiers) previously posted at Castelbaldo passed the Adige.
- Savoyen Dragoons, Lothringen Cuirassiers, Taaffe Cuirassiers, Herberstein Infantry and Guido Starhemberg Infantry passed the Canalbianco (more probably the Adige).
- All Imperial troops stationed to the south of Verona were ordered to march towards Castelguglielmo. Furthermore, Eugène had sent GFWM Marquis de Vaubonne at the head of 1,000 commandeered horse to Pontelagoscuro where in the morning it passed the Po and took position on the Panaro.
- Vaudémont Cuirassiers were left behind at Castelbaldo and Visconti Cuirassiers at Bevilacqua.
- Catinat, Vaudémont and Tessé held a council of war at Oppeano where they concluded that they should remain in their current positions until Eugène's intentions become clearer. Vaudémont then left for Milan. Catinat for his part made another inspection of his post at Ostiglia on the Po and moved one of his cavalry corps from Isola-della-Scala to Asparetto.
- On his arrival at Ostiglia, Catinat was informed by M. d'Espinchal that 200 Imperial foot and 500 horse had passed the Po on a flying bridge at Pontelagoscuro not far from Stellata. Espinchal already had a detachment of 180 horse on the right bank of the Po.
On 30 June, Catinat reinforced Espinchal's detachment with 300 horse. He also sent Soissonnais Infanterie (1 bn) from Ostiglia to reinforce the garrison of Mirandola (Ponthieu Infanterie (1 bn) and 3 weak Neapolitan bns).
At the end of June, a French force 12 sqns and 20 bns finally started its march by Exilles to reinforce the Duchy of Milan.
On 1 July, reports indicated that Eugène was assembling boats to form a bridge on the Po at Occhiobello. Catinat immediately resolved to throw a bridge on the Po at Sacchetta. Finally his bridge could not be established at Sacchetta and had to be moved downstream to Ostiglia.
On 3 July, 7 Savoyard bns arrived at Cerea. Furthermore, the Duke's Guardie (2 bns) as well as 1 cavalry rgt and 1 dragoon of his army arrived in the Duchy of Milan where they were cantoned on the Oglio waiting for the duke's arrival.
Louis XIV advised Catinat that he did not share his opinion on the plans of the Imperialists and that he still believed that they intended to penetrate into the Duchy of Milan instead of marching southwards against the Kingdom of Naples. The king also reminded Catinat that his forces were superior to those of Eugène and that he expected Catinat to drive the Imperialists out of Italy.
On 5 July
- Prince Thomas de Vaudémont encamped near Castelguglielmo with Savoyen Dragoons, Corbelli Cuirassiers and Vaudémont Cuirassiers.
- Visconti Cuirassiers and Pfalz-Neuburg Cuirassiers assembled at Castelbaldo where Jung-Daun Infantry and Guttenstein Infantry were already posted.
- Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers arrived at Bevilacqua and the field artillery reached Lonigo.
- Vaubonne, posted on the right bank of the Po, launched a raid against a French outpost.
On 6 July
- Catinat sent M. de Pracontal at the head of the Fimarcon Dragons, 4 bns and 300 horse from Ostiglia to Stellata on the right bank of the Po to cover the Duchy of Mantua.
- In the evening, Baron Riedt completed the bridge at Occhiobello
On 7 July
- Catinat finally ordered the troops posted at Rivoli and La Ferrara to fall back on Oppeano in three marches (Piovessan, Bussolengo and Cadidavid).
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the Imperial army on 8 July 1701|
On 8 July
- Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers marched from Castelbaldo to Castelguglielmo.
- Catinat left Legnago and went to Ostiglia to get better information on the manoeuvres of the Imperialists. He sent 4 additional bns to reinforce Pracontal's detachment at Stellata. Besides the 13 bns on the march from Rivoli, the French main body of infantry was at Casa-di-Davide; Tessé at Legnago with 8 bns, and 20 sqns; Saint-Fremont at Carpi with 300 foot and 16 sqns (Mauroy Cavalerie (2 sqns), Ruffey Cavalerie (2 sqns), Estrades Dragons (3 sqns), Albert Dragons (3 sqns), Vérac Dragons (3 sqns)); Villepeon at Asparedo with 20 sqns; 7 Savoyard bns at Cerea; Pracontal at Stellata with 8 bns, the Fimarcon Dragons and 300 horse; and Catinat at Ostiglia with the rest of his force.
In the dark and rainy night of 8 to 9 July, with the usual precautions of secrecy (deceiving even his own army), Eugène marched from his camp at Castelguglielmo towards Castagnaro at the head of 11,000 men.
On 9 July
- At daybreak, Eugène's forces stormed a French outpost at Castagnaro and then, in the ensuing Combat of Carpi, Eugène's army overpowered Saint-Fremont's small cavalry corps.
- In the evening, realising that Eugène did not intend to pass the Po, Catinat recalled Pracontal (8 bns and Firmacon Dragons) who repassed the Po at Ostiglia.
French retreat to the Mincio River
In the night of 9 to 10 July, Catinat assembled the 20 sqns of Villepeon previously posted at Asparedo and made a junction with the 7 Savoyard bns at Cerea. He had already decided to evacuate the valley of the Adige and to seek refuge behind the Mincio.
On 10 July
- At 7:00 a.m., Tessé evacuated his camp at San-Pietro di Legnago and marched west in the direction of Nogara.
- Prince Eugène advanced on San-Pietro di Legnago in two columns intending to attack Tessé's camp which he found abandoned.
On 11 July
- Prince Eugène sojourned at San-Pietro di Legnago while he waited for his artillery to arrive from Castelbaldo, his baggage to arrive from Castelguglielmo and a much needed bread convoy.
- At 7:00 a.m., Tessé, who had broken all the bridges on his way, made a junction with Catinat at Cerea. Their combined corps (60 French sqns, 18 French bns and 7 Savoyard bns) then retired westwards to Nogara, 15 km north of Ostiglia.
Around this date, Prince Eugène recalled Vaubonne's detachment from the Po and ordered Baron Riedt to dismantle the bridge across that river.
On 12 July
- At noon, Eugène marched to Oppeano in the direction of Verona, leaving Dietrichstein Dragoons behind at San-Pietro di Legnago to wait for artillery and baggage. During the march, FML Pálffy covered the left flank with 1,000 commandeered horse, marching by Cerea and Bovolone where he defeated a small French detachment.
- In the afternoon, with the bridge finally completed, the Imperial artillery was able to cross the Canalbianco at Castelbaldo, closely followed by baggage
- Guttenstein, still posted in front of Monte Baldo, received orders to march to Bussolengo
- Catinat's army crossed the Canalbianco on several bridges at Nogara and marched all night.
On 13 July
- Guttenstein sent his detachment of Dietrichstein Dragoons (50 men) forward to Villafranca
- Catinat's army reached Erbé.
On 14 July
- Catinat's army reached Tormine.
- Eugène's army marched to Buttapietra in the direction of Villafranca, just 9 km north of Tormine. Eugène had regained contact with his old line of supply, Rovereto-Rivoli. For some time, Eugene was in great difficulties for supplies, as the Venetians would not allow his barges to descend the Adige.
- GFWM Vaubonne's 1,000 commandeered horse and General-Adjutant Baron Riedt with his 200 commandeered troops rejoined Dietrichstein Dragoons at San-Pietro di Legnago.
On July 15
- Guttenstein's small corps joined Eugène's main army marching to Villafranca. Guttenstein had left IV./Mansfeld Infantry behind at Bussolengo to protect the bridging equipment. Eugène was now at the head of 29 bns, 84 sqns and 70 guns. His field artillery was still on its way.
- Vaubonne and Dietrichstein Dragoons marched with all speed from San-Pietro di Legnago to join the main army.
- Catinat deployed his army in order of battle with his right at Mozzecane and his left on the plain towards the Mincio. However, he did not dare to attack the Imperialists.
On 16 July around 3:00 p.m., Catinat set off in three columns south-westwards in the direction of the defiles leading to the Mincio.
On 17 July
- Catinat's army, after passing the defiles, arrived in the plain between the Mincio and Marmirolo where it encamped in a position allowing Catinat to guard the Mincio and to cover the Duchy of Mantua. The first 3 bns sent from France as reinforcements, which had transited by Turin, arrived by boat at Mantua.
- Eugène sent Baron Riedt to reconnoitre the Mincio.
- Eugène was now master of the country between the Adige and the Mincio.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the Imperial army on 18 July 1701|
On 18 July, Catinat then took position in front of Goito along the Mincio and threw three bridges on the river. He deployed his army as follows:
- MM. De Bachivilliers and de Greder near Monte Borghetto on the right bank of the Mincio
- Duc de Sesto upstream of Borghetto
- French infantry (4 bns)
- Spanish cavalry (14 sqns)
- Main body under Marshal Catinat with its right at Marmirolo and its left anchored on the Mincio
On the same day
- 3 additional French bns arrived at Mantua.
- Prince Eugène personally reconnoitred the region of Peschiera on Lake Garda.
On 19 July
- Eugène and Riedt reconnoitred the French camp at Goito.
- GFWM Serény with 500 horse made an incursion in the direction of Mantua. At Castiglione Mantovano, he engaged and captured a Spanish detachment (2 officers and 42 men, 8 men managing to escape).
Passage of the Mincio by the Imperialists
On 20 July, Prince Eugène held a council of war, with Commercy, Vaudémont (Charles Thomas, the governor's son), Börner and Starhemberg to decide if they should direct their next offensive across the Mincio or on the right bank of the Po. They finally resolved to pass the Mincio.
On 22 July
- The Imperialists conducted a large forage in the neighbourhood of Mantua.
- The French destroyed part of the stone bridge at Valeggio.
By 25 July
- Prince Eugène was making his preparations to cross the Mincio close to Peschiera and well beyond Catinat's left, with the intention of finding a new supply area about Brescia. He sent out 2,000 horse and occupied Castiglione Mantovano and neighbouring villages with infantry.
- Catinat and Vaudémont had already received 12 bns of the reinforcements sent from France. Furthermore, the Savoyard contingent now totalled 9 bns and 2,500 horse. Despite Louis XIV's instructions to offer battle, Catinat continued to find excuses to postpone any engagement. Catinat and Vaudémont were informed that Prince Eugène had ordered to build portable boats at Bussolengo on the Adige.
- The Duke of Savoy, escorted by his Gardes, arrived at Goito to assume command of the army.
On 26 July
- Eugène's army received provisions, forages and ammunition for several day. Wagons were assembled at Bussolengo.
- The Duke of Savoy reviewed his army (58 French bns, 60 French sqns, 14 Spanish bns, 14 Spanish sqns, 6 sqns still on their way to the army, 9 Savoyard bns, 6 Savoyard sqns) formed of French, Spanish and Savoyard contingents.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of march of the Imperial army on 27 July 1701|
On 27 July
- The Duke of Savoy inspected the posts along the Mincio.
- Around 10:00 p.m., Prince Eugène had work started on a bridge across the Mincio at Salionze downstream from Peschiera.
- At 11:00 p.m., Prince Eugène marched from Villafranca in three columns towards that bridge. FML Pálffy was instructed to cover this march from any threat coming from Goito. He took with him 1,200 commandeered horse (1 sqn from each of the 12 mounted regiments present) from the second line
On 28 July
- At daybreak, the avant-gardes of the two Imperial columns arrived at Salionze.
- Between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., the main body joined them.
- Eugène had to wait till noon before the bridge was completed at Salionze. His army then crossed the Mincio.
- Bachivilliers' and Sesto's corps, though coming within sight of Eugène's bridge, offered no opposition. The first Imperial troops to pass the Mincio took position and Monzambano and Ponti to cover the passage of the main body. Pálffy had a minor engagement with French detachments.
- At nightfall, most of Eugène's army was on the right bank of the Mincio. It encamped between Ponti and Peschiera.
- The Duke of Savoy had been informed during the night of the establishment of a bridge at Salionze. They held a council of war where it was resolved not to oppose the crossing. They simply ordered to the cavalry of their left wing and to 4 bns to reinforce Bachivilliers.
On 29 July
- The Imperialists continued to pass the Mincio. GFWM Vaubonne with 500 horse captured a Savoyard detachment when he seized the Castle of Monzambano.
- The Duke of Savoy and Catinat remained idle in their positions at Goito and Marmirolo. Bachivilliers and Sesto established their corps (15 bns, 30 sqns) on the heights north of Valeggio.
On 30 July
- Catinat's main body finally passed to the right bank of the Mincio and advanced to Volta.
French retreat to the Oglio River
On 31 July
- At 4:00 p.m., the Duke of Savoy and Catinat set off from Volta and marched north-westwards all night.
On 1 August
- The Imperialists marched in two columns to Lonato.
- The army of the Duke of Savoy reached Solferino and marched to Medole, leaving 11 French bns (1 bn Sourches, 1 bn Beauce, 2 bns Gâtinais, 1 bn Labour, 2 bns Bragelone and 1 bn Bugey, II./Thiérache, II./Blaisois, II./Albigeois), 5 militia bns and 2 Spanish bns in Mantua.
- Vaudémont and Tessé were sent to Cremona and Milan to quell any uprising and to assemble the last troops arriving from France on the Adda.
- M. de Chassaigne was sent to Cremona with 4 weak bns.
- Catinat was falling back to the Oglio. He ordered to send 30 pontoons from Goito to Asola in preparation for the passage of the Oglio. His army resented his retreat before the much smaller force of the Imperialists.
On 2 August, Catinat's army sojourned at Medole. He did not abandon his plan to retreat behind the Oglio despite the representations of Vaudémont and Tessé.
On 3 August
- Catinat marched to Acquafredda on the Chiese, leaving a small detachment of 180 Spaniards at Castiglione.
- Vaudémont, fearing an invasion of the Duchy of Milan, distributed his meagre forces: 6 bns in Lodi, 1 bn in Cremona, 1 bn at Pizzighettone. He also sent the Savoyard Artillery to Lodi. Vaudémont could also count on a 6,000 men strong militia in Milan.
- Catinat received intelligence that the Imperialists were marching to Pontevico to pass the Oglio before the Franco-Spanish army.
- As soon as Catinat had evacuated Acquafredda, Serény advanced with 500 horse, harassing the French rearguard. A small engagement took place in Carpenedolo with 150 French horse where the French lost 20 men dead or wounded and 1 officer and 13 men taken prisoners.
- A major from Mansfeld Infantry advanced on Castiglione delle Stiviere with 500 men and a few guns. He took position on the height east of Castiglione.
On 4 August
- In the morning Serény's detachment arrived in front of Castel Goffredo, which immediately opened its gates.
- Eugène had also sent General-Adjutant Count Brenner to summon the garrison of Castiglione who refused to capitulate. The Imperial artillery then opened on the place. In the evening miners started to dig tunnels in front of the Castle of Castiglione.
- Catinat sojourned at Acquafredda but sent M. de Pracontal at the head of 6 cavalry sqns and 1 dragoon rgt to deny the passage of the Oglio at Pontevico.
On 5 August
- Catinat's Army had begun to cross the Oglio on three bridges when he countermanded the operations and encamped between Acquafredda and Canetto.
- The Spanish garrison of Castiglione delle Stiviere finally capitulated obtaining free withdrawal. The Imperialists seized 2 x 8-pdr guns, 5 x 1-prd falconet, 1 x 14-pdr mortar, 2 x 6-pdr mortars, 2 x 3-pdr mortar and 1 x 1-pdr mortar; along with ammunition.
- Eugène sent FML Pálffy with 1,000 horse towards Chiari and Palazzolo on the Oglio to alarm the Milaneses.
On 6 August
- Eugène forced the inhabitants of Castiglione to swear allegiance to Archduke Charles of Austria.
- An Imperial party (150 horse) clashed with a French detachment (60 horse) near Medole, capturing 1 lieutenant and 18 men.
On 7 August
- A major of Guido Starhemberg Infantry occupied Castel Goffredo with 300 foot and 100 horse.
- GFWM Serény with 500 horse abandoned his former post and joined the main body.
- FML Pálffy continued his march on Palazzolo on the Upper Oglio.
- Catinat finally crossed the Oglio at Canetto and marched to Castelfranco while 6 additional guns were sent to Castiglione. He had not yet realised that Imperial cavalry had already passed the Chiese River.
In the night of 7 to 8 August, informed that the French had crossed the Oglio, Eugène detached GFWM Vaubonne at the head of 500 horse against the French outposts on the Chiese River.
On 8 August
- Catinat sojourned in Castelfranco despite Vaudémont call for help. The latter assembled troops recently arrived from France near Canonica on the Adda.
On 9 August
- Eugène a decamped from Lonato, passed the Chiese at Montichiari and encamped at Vighizzolo, apparently on his way to Brescia. Meanwhile, Pálffy at the head of 1,000 horse reached Palazzolo on the Upper Oglio.
- Catinat sojourned once more in Castelfranco. He informed Vaudémont that he intended to march to Soncino on the Upper Oglio where he would make a junction with Vaudémont's Corps before recrossing the river to offer battle near Medole. With his countless hesitations, Catinat had now lost the confidence of the Prince de Vaudémont, the Duke of Savoy and the Comte de Tessé as well as the esteem of his own army.
In August, exasperated by Catinat's continual temporizing, Louis XIV sent the Maréchal de Villeroy to supersede him with strict orders to attack and defeat the numerically inferior Imperial army on the first occasion.
On 10 August
- Eugène sojourned at Vighizzolo. GFWM Vaubonne joined the main body.
- Catinat marched to Villarocca.
On 11 August, Catinat marched to Scandolera (unidentified location) where the Prince de Vaudémont personally joined him.
On 12 August, the Imperialists marched from Vighizzolo to Bagnolo Mella. Eugène reconnoitred the neighbourhood of Pontevico on the Oglio.
On 13 August
- The Imperialists marched to Torbole Casaglia and Roncadelle on the highway from Brescia to Palazzolo on the Oglio. It now became clear that Prince Eugène intended to cross the Upper Oglio and to march to the Adda.
- Catinat marched to Robecco.
On 14 August
- Catinat marched to Bordolano.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the Franco-Spanish army in Northern Italy on 17 August 1701|
On 15 August, abandoning his plan to offer battle at Medole, Catinat decamped from Bordolano and marched in three columns to Campagna near Soncino.
On 16 August
- Eugène marched with his cavalry and artillery and encamped between Rovato and Coccaglio.
- Catinat's Army (now 51 bns and 71 sqns) retired towards the Adda River and encamped at Romanengo.
- Catinat received a letter from Louis XIV ordering him to actively seek battle with the Imperialists.
- The Spaniards had 2 bns in Mantua; 6 bns in Milan; 3 bns in Mirandola; 6 bns in Lodi; 1 bn in Cremona; and 1 bn in Pizzighettone.
On 17 August, to obey the king's order, Catinat designated Soncino as his main magazine; he recalled Tessé from the Adda, leaving only 18 Spanish sqns, 1 dragoon rgt and 3 French bns in the area of Canonica.
On 18 August
- Eugène marched with his cavalry and artillery and encamped between Pontoglio and Urago on the Oglio. His infantry was still at Roncadelle awaiting a bread convoy.
- Eugène sent Lieutenant-Colonel Count Arberg of Dramstadt Cuirassiers across the Oglio at Urago with a detachment of 150 horse to reconnoitre its right bank.
- Catinat inexplicably sojourned at Romanengo.
- Tessé crossed the Adda at Cassano.
On 19 August
- Catinat marched to Camisano.
- Tessé marched to Mirabella, a castle to the southeast of Agnadello.
In the night of 19 to 20 August, the Imperial infantry marched from Roncadelle to Eugène's camp near Urago.
On 20 August
- Catinat sojourned at Camisano. He sent Fimarcon Dragons (3 sqns) and Larrare Cavalerie (2 sqns) to the support of the Duke of Mantua. Catinat's main army still counted 51 bns and 66 sqns.
- Tessé crossed the Serio and marched to Ricengo, only 5 km south of Catinat's encampment.
On 21 August
- Eugène detached GFWM Vaubonne at the head of 600 horse (including 200 men of Vaudémont Cuirassiers) and 100 foot (Free-Company Guethem) to make a raid against the neighbourhood of Cremona in the rear of enemy positions.
- Villeroy arrived at Milan. He was accompanied by the lieutenant-generals Marquis de Villars, Marquis de Barbezières, Comte Revel, Marquis de Créqui
On 22 August
- Eugène sent Lieutenant-Colonel Freiberg of Taaffe Cuirassiers with 200 horse from Urago in a raid on French outposts across the Oglio.
- Pálffy sent a party of 200 horse from Palazzolo in a similar raid.
- 2 bns of Longueval-Buquoy Infantry, arriving from Tyrol, reached Eugène's camp.
- The Imperialists were posted in separated camps with their right at Palazzolo, their centre at Pontoglio and their left at Urago.
- Catinat marched to Fontanella where Tessé's Corps effected a junction. The army encamped with its right at Fontanella, its left at the village of Covo, its headquarters at Antegnate, facing the Oglio.
- Informed that Marshal Villeroy was on his way to replace him as commander-in-chief of the French army, Catinat resolved to wait for him before undertaking any action. Villeroy arrived in the evening, at the headquarters to assume command. Catinat remained at the army to second Villeroy. The new commander was perhaps the least competent of all French senior officers.
French advance on Chiari
On 23 August
- After a council of war, Villeroy decided to attack the Imperialists with superior forces (69 bns and 90 sqns (including 6 Spanish sqns), 44 guns).
- Prince Eugène, escorted by 50 men of Corbelli Cuirassiers, passed the Oglio to reconnoitre the French positions near Fontanella, On his return to his camp, Eugène decided to assemble his army in an entrenched camp under the walls of Chiari.
On 24 August
- Villeroy reviewed his new army. On average, units serving in Italy since a while were down to approx. 85 men per sqn and 380 men per bn, with the exception of the Irish rgts, who were more numerous. The 25 bns and 20 sqns recently arrived were considerably stronger. The Savoyard units were considered very good and served as an example for the entire army.
- Villeroy sent the regiments of Thiérache and Soissonnais along with Albert Dragons and a couple of Spanish sqns to Lecco on Lake Como.
On 27 August towards 2:00 a.m., Vaubonne returned from his raid in the region of Cremona. Eugène was informed that Gschwind Infantry and Lothringen Infantry, marching from Germany to reinforce him could not reach Rovato before the end of August.
On 28 August
- At 6:00 p.m., Villeroy sent M. de Pracontal with 10 sqns and 4 bns to make a demonstration in front of Palazzolo and Pontoglio.
- In the evening, Eugène recalled Vaubonne's detachment to the main army.
In the night of 28 to 29 August, Villeroy's Army set off from its camp in four columns along the Colombare Canal.
On 29 August
- Villeroy's army passed the Oglio unopposed at Pumenengo and encamped on the opposite bank at Rudiano.
- Eugène was unable to prevent the passage of the Oglio by the Franco-Spanish army because the river was passable in too many places. He immediately sent messages to Gschwind Infantry and Lothringen Infantry, which were on their way to reinforce his army, to hasten and to march all night if necessary.
On 30 August
- Eugène rearranged his positions between Chiari and Urago. Initially, his army was facing the Oglio and, after Villeroy's crossing, exposed its left flank. He redeployed it facing south. Eugène also recalled Pálffy (1,000 commandeered horse, Savoyen Dragoons, Serényi Dragoons and Dietrichstein Dragoons) from Palazzolo.
- After Pálffy's arrival, his 12 troops of commandeered horse along with Taaffe Cuirassiers were redeployed on the left wing.
- The town of Chiari was occupied by 1 Venetian officer and a few armed peasants. However, it was not considered as a fortified town by the Republic of Venice and, for this reason, open to the Imperial army. Eugène threw Guttenstein Infantry and 2 grenadier coys into the place. He also gave orders to detachments of miners to redeploy a series of small bridge across the surrounding canals and moats.
On 31 August
- The Franco-Spanish army marched by its right from Rudiano to Castrezzato extending its right wing to Bargnana. Passages and bridges were prepared to cross the Trazano Canal.
- Lieutenant-Colonel Baron Selb of Serényi Dragoons advanced with 180 troopers between the Oglio and the left flank of the Franco-Spanish army. He came across an isolated enemy outpost at the extremity of their left wing occupied by the Monastérol cavalry brigade (3 sqns of Lautrec Dragons, 3 sqns of the Savoyard Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale), killing 1 officer and 7 men and bringing back 1 prisoner and 6 horses.
On 1 September
- Battle of Chiari
- At 1:00 a.m., the French army set itself in movement, crossing canals and moats separating it from the entrenchments of the Imperialists at Chiari and easily driving back Eugène's outpost.
- Around 3:00 p.m., a detachment of Villeroy's army attacked Eugène in the Battle of Chiari. Eugène's troops were deployed in well entrenched positions and Villeroy was thoroughly defeated, with a loss of some 3,000 men to Eugène's 150.
- Despite this initial success, considering the vast numerical superiority of the French, Prince Eugène expected new attacks in the following days.
Standstill at Chiari
In the night of 1 to 2 September, both armies remained under arms, each expecting an attack.
On 2 September
- Villeroy received intelligence that the Imperialists planned to intercept a convoy of bread sent from Soncino. He changed his plan, postponed the convoy to 4 September and replaced it by a detachment (1,000 horse, 300 dragoons and 1,000 foot) under M. de Pracontal, supported by another detachment (1,000 horse) under M. de Bissy.
On 3 September
- An Imperial detachment (1,000 horse) led by Pálffy attacked the head of the French column. However, Pracontal had no convoy to protect and could concentrate his force against the Imperialists, driving them back to their camp.
- Gschwind Infantry and Lothringen Infantry finally arrived at Eugène's camp. They were not at full strength and each was organized in only 3 bns.
On 4 September
- The Duke of Savoy and Villeroy reconnoitred the neighbourhood of Rovato from where they thought that the Imperialists were receiving their supplies. They then abandoned their project of turning the left of the Imperialists by Rovato.
On 5 September
- Villeroy's Army rearranged its positions with its left at Urago on the Oglio and its right at Castrezzato near Chiari, facing the positions of the Imperialists. This new deployment made it easier to receive supply by the Oglio. The two armies were very close from each other but separated by very difficult terrain.
- Villeroy threw a bridge on the Oglio for his infantry and prepared fords for his cavalry.
On 7 September, Prince Eugène rearranged his camp, shifting more troops to his right wing deployed behind the Trenzano Canal.
The Prince de Vaudémont was concerned by the possibility that the Imperialists could launch incursions into the Duchy of Milan from Palazzolo and by the unrest of its population mostly favourable to the Habsburg.
On 10 September, Villeroy thus resolved to reinforce the camp on the Adda by sending there 18 Spanish sqns, 2 French sqns, 3 bns from the 4 (La Fère, Quercy, Soissonnais and Thiérache) already posted at Lecco and 1 Spanish bn. Additional battalions were transferred from Mantua to Goito which was fortified.
Informed of the engagement at Chiari, Louis XIV instructed Villeroy to stop seeking battle unless he was in an advantageous position.
With the two opposing armies facing each other, there were many skirmishes and coups de main during forages.
In the night of 14 to 15 September, Villeroy sent 2,000 foot, 18 grenadier coys and 600 horse across the canal in front of his camp for a reconnaissance in force.
On 15 September
- Villeroy, Catinat and the Duke of Savoy joined the reconnaissance party sent across the canal. They realised that Prince Eugène was well entrenched all along the line and that it would be hazardous to attack such strong positions.
- Villeroy then resolved to recapture Castiglione, defended by 1 bn and 300 horse, and Castel Goffredo, defended by 100 horse and 200 foot. He confided the operation to the Comte de Tessé at the head of 10 bns and 12 sqns (including 3 bns and 5 sqns of the garrison of Mantua, 5 bns and 2 sqns of the army, and 2 bns and 5 sqns of the troops posted at Lecco and Vaprio). The Duke of Savoy refused to supply troops for this expedition.
- GFWM Marquis de Vaubonne intercepted a large supply convoy near Orzinuovi, capturing several wagons.
On 16 September, the 3 bns of the garrison of Mantua marched to Goito.
On 17 September, Tessé left the camp near Chiari for Mantua.
On 18 September, Villeroy sent 4 bns and 5 sqns on the opposite bank of the Oglio.
On 19 September, the French detachment sent across the Oglio on the previous day took position at Calcio.
Tessé was soon informed that the positions of the Imperialists at Castiglione and Castel Goffredo had been reinforced by 1 dragoon rgt and 400 hussars, indicating that Prince Eugène had been informed of his manoeuvre. He abandoned his project. Instead, he occupied the posts of Marcaria, Borgoforte and Viadana.
Tessé received intelligence that the Imperialists intended to attack Canneto on the Oglio. He sent a few French grenadiers and 500 militia belonging to the Duke of Mantua to reinforce the place.
In the night of 22 to 23 September, an Imperial detachment (200 men of Vaubonne Dragoons and 30 men of the Deák Hussars all under Lieutenant-Colonel von Chamaré) marched on Canneto but it was spotted on the march. Alarm was given in Canneto and Chamaré's attack was driven back. Chamaré then retired on Castel Goffredo.
Tessé also launched a raid with 80 grenadiers on the distant magazines of Cavarzerre in the Republic of Venice, destroying some 6,000 bags of supply. Another detachment of 70 men destroyed a magazine at Cisano on Lake Garda.
Villeroy fortified the village of Castrezzato where his right wing was anchored. There were several exchanges of letters with the court at Versailles about the winter-quarters. The court planning to repatriate the troops who had the most suffered, Villeroy insisting to take winter-quarters in Northern Italy.
On 24 September, the Prince di Macchia, who had been promised assistance by the Imperialists attempted a coup in Naples. However, the rebellion was soon quenched and its leaders imprisoned. The Viceroy of Naples, seeing the poor state of his troops (35 coys of Fijo de Napoles Infantry and 30 cavalry coys) asked for reinforcements from the Duchy of Milan, Catalonia and France.
On 25 September, a Spanish courier, carrying messages related to French plans to capture Castiglione and Castelgoffredo, was intercepted by an Imperial detachment.
Castel Goffredo was garrisoned by 300 men of Guido Starhemberg Infantry, 300 men of Mansfeld Infantry, 6 guns and 100 horse; Castiglione by IV./Mansfeld Infantry (including 100 men detached to Desenzano), 100 men for the other 3 bns of Mansfeld Infantry, 50 horse and 6 field guns. Vaubonne covered these positions with 1,850 horse (400 cuirassiers, 1,000 men of Vaubonne Dragoons, 350 men of Deák Hussars and 100 other horse).
On 3 October, the Prince de Vaudémont departed from Mantua for Milan by Pizzighettone where he met Villars, the French envoy to the court of Vienna.
On 4 October, Vaudémont and Villars rode together under the escort of 500 foot and 800 horse commanded by Villiers, Vaudeuil and Imécourt. An Imperial party under de Guethem and Mercy was posted near Pizzighettone. Being inferior in number to the French escort, this party did not intend to attack it. However, the French spotted it and managed to attack the rear of its cavalry, which held its ground with difficulty. The Imperial infantry timely came to the rescue of its cavalry, which managed to retire.
On 5 October:
- The Prince de Vaudémont arrived in Milan where he received a request for assistance from the Viceroy of Naples to contain an uprising. He sent him 10 Spanish cavalry coys (8 coys of Coppola Cavalry and 2 coys of Monroy Dragoons), soon followed by 1 Spanish bn. This reduced the detachment of the Duc de Sesto on the Adda to only 1 infantry rgt and 1,300 horse.
- De Guethem and Mercy arrived at the main camp.
On 6 October, the Marquis de Vaubonne sent 1 officer and 30 horse to reconnoitre Tessé's camp near Goito.
On October 7, Vaubonne's Corps appeared on the rear of the Franco-Spanish main army. In the evening, it fought an action against a French detachment near Orzinovi.
Vaudémont vainly tried to convince the Duke of Savoy to send on the Adda 3 additional Savoyard cavalry rgts which were still stationed in Piedmont.
By mid October, Villeroy was still in his entrenched positions at Urago. He had sent M. de Pracontal to Soncino with 1,000 foot and 1,000 horse to cover his foraging parties.
On 16 October, informed that a French convoy was expected from Lodi and Pizzighettone, Prince Thomas de Vaudémont and FML Count Pálffy passed the Oglio with 1,300 horse and 200 grenadiers and marched towards the Adda to intercept this convoy.
In the night of 18 to 19 October, Prince Thomas, having realised that he was arrived too late to intercept the French convoy, returned to the camp of the Imperialists.
On 19 October, Villeroy sent orders to the Comte de Tessé to send back the 10 bns and part of the 12 sqns of his detachment to the Duchy of Milan.
On 26 October, following representations made by the Duke of Mantua, only 4 of the 10 bns of the Comte de Tessé were sent back to Pizzighettone and 1 cavalry rgt to Cremona in the Duchy of Milan. Tessé left 3 bns at Goito, 1 dragoon rgt at Revere near Ostiglia, and 2 cavalry rgts and 3 bns under the walls of Mantua.
Tessé seized Bozzolo on the Oglio.
On 30 October, an Imperial detachment (1,000 foot and 1,000 horse) under the Prince de Commercy marched towards Cassano on the Adda.
On 31 October, the Imperial detachment passed the Adda near Cassano and, around 10:00 p.m., attacked the Spanish camp by surprise. Valdefuentes Cavalry and Monroy Dragoons lost 300 men killed, 55 taken prisoners, 11 standards, a pair of kettle drums and 400 horses. The Duc de Sesto, who commanded on the Adda, had several Spanish cavalry rgts and 1 Spanish bn at Cassano. Instead of bringing support to his compatriots, he ordered his units to abandon their positions and to take refuge behind the canal of the Canonica. He then retreated towards Milan, spreading panic in the neighbourhood. The Imperialists tried to recross the Adda but were stopped by two Spanish outposts, which had not been evacuated.
On 2 November
- Commercy’s detachment returned to Palazzolo.
- Sesto returned to Cassano but soon retreated again when false reports indicated that the Imperialists were throwing bridges on the Adda. The Prince de Vaudémont sent 4 additional bns to the Duke of Sesto at Cassano.
In the night of 3 to 4 November, another Imperial detachment under General Bagni crossed the Oglio at Pontoglio, intending to attack the Castle of Trezzo on the Adda. However, Bagni returned to his camp when he heard of the reinforcements heading for the Adda.
Another Imperial detachment under M. de Vaubone made an unsuccessful attempt against the French posted at Soncino.
On 7 November, the 4 bns sent by the governor of Milan arrived at Cassano.
French retreat from Chiari
In his camp of Urago, Villeroy was running out of supply. The sympathy of the population went to the Imperialists, who received ample supply from the Duchy of Milan but almost nothing reached the Franco-Spanish camp.
On 10 November, Prince Eugène sent 40 guns to Castiglione.
On 12 November at 2:00 p.m., Villeroy gave orders to his army to prepare its baggage and to pass the Oglio near Urago.
On 13 November:
- By 4:00 a.m., the Franco-Spanish army had completed the passage of the Oglio in three columns. It later encamped between Calcio and Pumenengo.
- Prince Eugène followed the enemy, leaving 12 guns on the left bank of the Oglio, he crossed the river with the largest part of his grenadiers and 100 horse, using a bridge that the enemy had neglected to demolish.
On 14 November, the Franco-Spanish army marched southwards to Ticengo and Cumignano under continuous snowfalls.
The Franco-Spanish army took its quarters in Castelleone, Soresina, Casalmorano and Casalbuttano.
On 16 November, the Imperialists sent additional artillery to Castiglione.
On 17 November, the Duke of Savoy quit the Franco-Spanish army with his entire contingent, marching back to his duchy before the end of the campaign.
On 18 November:
- A detachment (13 bns, 15 sqns) under Villars marched to Lodi. Meanwhile Zurlauben was still behind the Adda with 7 bns and the Albert Dragons. From these positions, Villeroy thought that he could rapidly intervene in the duchies of Milan or Mantua, depending on the movements of the Imperialists.
- Some Imperial troops marched towards Brescia.
- Reinforcements (Liechtenstein Infantry (2 bns), Longueval-Buquoy Infantry (2 bns)) had also reached Rovereto on the Adige.
- The Danish contingent of 4,000 foot and 1,000 horse in Austrian pay was at Bolzano in Tyrol. More precisely, it consisted of:
- Dronningens Livregiment (7 coys including a grenadier company)
- Prins Christian Infantry (7 coys including a grenadier company)
- Prins Carl Infantry (6 coys)
- Prins Georg Infantry (6 coys)
- Sjællandske Infantry (6 coys)
- Jyske Infantry (7 coys including a grenadier company)
- Marine Regiment (5 coys)
- Rodstens Dragoons (6 coys in 2 sqns)
- Juels Dragoons (6 coys in 2 sqns)).
- Ebergényi Hussars were also underway.
Imperialist offensive on the Lower Oglio
On 19 November:
- Villeroy extended his quarters along the Oglio:
- M. de Revel (3 cavalry brigades and 1 infantry brigade) at Ossolaro
- M. de Créqui (13 bns, 11 sqns) at San Maurizio (unidentified location) near Bozzolo
- Villeroy (all artillery, all dragoons, 2 cavalry rgts, 2 infantry brigades) at Louvignano (unidentified location)
- Pracontal (6 bns, 11 sqns) at Santa Maria de Sabione (unidentified location).
- Villeroy extended his quarters along the Oglio:
- Prince Eugène's Army marched: his artillery, under FZM Börner, to Torbole Casaglia; his infantry, under FML Count Guido Starhemberg, to Travagliato; and his cavalry, under GdC Thomas Vaudémont, to Pompiano.
On 20 November, Prince Eugène's Army marched: his artillery to San Zeno, his infantry to Longhena and his cavalry to Oriano (unidentified location).
On 21 November, Prince Eugène's Army marched: his artillery to Ghedi, his infantry to Manerbio and his cavalry to Verolavecchia.
On 22 November, Prince Eugène's Army marched: his artillery to Isorella, his infantry to Pavone and his cavalry to San Gervasio.
On 23 November
- Prince Eugène assembled his army at Ostiano.
- When Prince Charles de Vaudémont received confirmation that the Imperialists had abandoned their positions at Chiari, he authorised the Marquis de Villars (14 bns, 15 sqns) to march from the Adda to Pizzighettone to reinforce Villeroy.
On 24 November
- Pracontal (6 bns, 11 sqns) marched to Cremona.
- Villeroy moved his headquarters to Sospiro.
- GFWM Vaubonne, Colonel Paul Deák and Captain Colomba attacked the French rearguard, killing 200 men and capturing 76 men, 80 horses and 60 oxen.
On 25 November
- Villars reached Pizzighettone.
- Villeroy transferred 8 bns and 8 sqns from Créqui's Corps to Tessé's to establish a bridge on the Oglio near Gazzuolo.
- Villeroy also recalled another detachment (6 bns and the Albert Dragons) from Lodi. The Mantuan militia whose loyalty was doubtful were removed from Canneto. Tessé threw 2 bns in Ostiglia.
- The Duchy of Milan was now defended by only 5 bns (1 bn at Lecco, 2 bns in Soncino, 1 in Lodi and 1 in Pizzighettone.
On 26 November
- The 8 bns and 8 sqns detached from Créqui's Corps arrived at Bozzolo.
- Prince Eugène's staff and the cavalry right wing encamped at Pralboino, the cavalry left wing at Verolavecchia and Verolanuova, the infantry at Manerbio, and the artillery at Ghedi and Isorella.
On 27 November
- The 8 bns and 8 sqns detached from Créqui's Corps reached Gazzuolo.
- Villeroy recalled his artillery (only 15 pieces) to his headquarters at Sospiro. He also rearranged his positions: Créqui at Bonvoyo (unidentified location); Pracontal at San Giacomo; Villars at San Savino.
On 28 November
- Tessé detached 3 bns to occupy Ostiglia and Ponte Molino (unidentified location); 1 bn was left at Gazzuolo to guard the bridge; and 4 bns were sent to encamp at Marmirolo.
- Zurlauben arrived at Cremona with 4 bns from the Upper Adda.
On 29 November
- An Imperial corps under the Prince de Commercy passed the Mincio at Borghetto and encamped at Villafranca.
- M. de Colmenero arrived at Cremona with the 2 other bns from the Upper Adda and the Albert Dragons.
- Tessé evacuated Marmirolo and retired to Mantua, throwing 2 bns and 2 sqns into Goito to reinforce the current garrison (3 bns). Marmirolo was soon occupied by Imperial troops.
Around midnight, in the night of 30 November to 1 December, Savoyen Dragoons marched from Pralboino to Fontanella Grazioli, close to the left bank of the Oglio, where it had been ordered to take positions south of the town.
On 1 December at daybreak, Prince Eugène marched with all his army. Before Eugène's arrival at Fontanella Grazioli, the French commander at Canneto, Colonel Maulevrier, had realised that his post was threatened and recalled 100 grenadiers posted upstream. Additional reinforcements were also sent towards the town but they arrived when the Imperialists had already taken positions in front of the town and were forced to retire. Overall, Maulevrier only had 300 French soldiers and some 300 Mantuan militia to defend Canneto. Prince Eugène at the head of Savoyen Dragoons reconnoitred the French positions at Canneto. The garrison immediately opened a lively fire. Eugène then vainly summoned the commander of the place to surrender. He then asked Mansfeld Infantry, Guido Starhemberg Infantry, Gschwind Infantry and Guttenstein Infantry to join him in front of Canneto while the rest of his army encamped at Fontanelle Grazioli. The 4 aforementioned regiments marched in four columns to Canneto and took position as follows:
- Mansfeld Infantry under GFWM Count Daun between the Oglio and the “Rocca” of Canneto
- Guido Starhemberg Infantry to the west of the “Naviglio” (small canal)
- Gschwind Infantry and 2 cavalry rgts under FML Count Herberstein to the east of the “Naviglio”
- Guttenstein Infantry kept in reserve
On 2 December:
- Villeroy advanced Créqui's Corps to Voltido near Canneto.
- Colonel Déak arrived at Eugène's camp with a few prisoners.
- A few guns arrived from the camp of Fontanella at Canneto.
In the night of 2 to 3 December. Eugène opened an approach against the Castle of Canneto. Fire broke out in the castle, adding to the apprehensions of the garrison. Eugène also ordered Mansfeld Infantry to erect entrenchments along the Oglio to prevent reinforcements from reaching the town.
On 3 December
- Villeroy sent Créqui's Corps to the Torre-d'Oglio to build a bridge there. He also ordered to move the bridge established on the Po at Cremona to Casalmaggiore. and instructed Tessé to evacuate his outposts at Ponte Molino, Ostiglia, Governolo and Borgoforte and to concentrate his troops in Mantua and Goito.
- Tessé had 19 bns and 12 sqns in the Duchy of Mantua:
- in Mantua (11 bns)
- Spanish Tercio de Saboya (1 bn)
- Leuville Infanterie (2 bns)
- Beauce Infanterie (1 bn)
- Gâtinais Infanterie (1 bn)
- Bugey Infanterie (1 bn)
- Sourches (1 bn)
- Clermont Cavalerie (2 sqns)
- Rennepont Cavalerie (2 sqns)
- Courtandon Cavalerie (2 sqns)
- Bordage Cavalerie (2 sqns)
- Vienne Cavalerie (2 sqns)
- Sheldon Cavalerie (2 sqns)
- unidentified militia units (4 bns)
- in Goito (3 bns)
- La Sarre Infanterie (1 bn)
- Bragelone (1 bn)
- La Tour Infanterie (1 bn)
- in Mirandola (1 bn)
- II./Blaisois Infanterie (1 bn)
- in Governolo (1 bn)
- Mirabeau Infanterie (1 bn)
- in Ostiglia (3 bns)
- in Mantua (11 bns)
- At daybreak, the defenders of Canneto managed to extinguish the fire but Maulevrier and the garrison (5 captains, 5 lieutenants, 300 French soldiers, mostly grenadiers, and Count Spolverino with 249 Mantuan militiamen) were forced to capitulate.
- Eugène's army established a bridge on the Oglio at Ostiano.
On 5 December
- Prince Eugène, accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel Baron Selb and 500 horse, reconnoitred Marcaria and summoned the garrison, which refused to surrender.
- In the evening, Prince Eugène returned to his headquarters at Mosio and sent Lieutenant-Colonel Reichard from Pálffy Cuirassiers with 300 horse against Gazzuolo and Torre-d'Oglio
On 6 December
- Another French garrison (1 Mantuan captain, 1 French lieutenant and 47 men) surrendered at Redondesco.
Eugène's troops rapidly made themselves masters of several posts near Mantua and the Oglio: Piubega, Canicossa, Cesole, Campitello and San Michele in Bosco. The Lower Oglio was now in the hands of Prince Eugène, who occupied a central positions between Tessé's Corps and Villeroy's army, preventing their junction.
Meanwhile, the Prince von Commercy had taken position at Borghetto on the Mincio, where the reinforcements arriving from Tyrol joined him. Commercy immediately sent the heavy guns, mortars and artillery materials recently arrived at Desenzano to Castiglione delle Stiviere.
On 8 December
- Eugène established a post in front of Gazzuolo. In the evening, he sent GFWM Count Daun with 1 bn of Mansfeld Infantry (including its grenadier coy), 4 guns and a few horse against the French redoubt at Torre-d'Oglio.
- Commercy's Corps, consisting of 6,400 foot and 5,000 horse (4 Austrian cavalry rgts, 4 Austrian bns, 7 Danish bns totalling 4,000 men and 2 Danish dragoon rgts totalling 1,000 men), took position at Povegliano and captured Marmirolo, where it took 1 captain and 50 prisoners.
- Major Heissler of the Serényi Dragoons occupied Castellucchio.
On 9 December
- The Imperialists planted a few guns in front of Torre-d'Oglio and captured the redoubt after a brief resistance of the defenders. Count Daun then vainly tried to prevent the French from dismantling their bridge of boats but darkness put an end to his attempt.
- The French immediately erected new entrenchments.
On 10 December:
- The Fimarcon Dragons were at San Benedetto. They were ordered to repass the Po at Casalmaggiore.
- The Comte de Tessé won a small engagement near Borgoforte against 300 Imperial horse led by the Lieutenant-Colonel Count Mercy, taking 50 men prisoners including Mercy. Tessé then evacuated his outposts as instructed and retired to Mantua.
- Prince Eugène advanced Mansfeld Infantry and Guido Starhemberg Infantry to Scorzarolo while Jung-Daun Infantry and Lothringen Infantry remained in their quarters.
- FML Pálffy at the head of Commercy Cuirassiers, Pálffy Cuirassiers and Vaubonne Dragoons advanced on Borgoforte. He was then sent towards Mantua with Commercy Cuirassiers and Pálffy Cuirassiers, and took position at Romanore.Vaubonne Dragoons reached San Nicolò on the Po.
- Herberstein Infantry and Guttenstein Infantry marched to Campitello.
- Bagni Infantry remained in San Michele
- Pfalz-Neuburg Cuirassiers and Serényi Dragoons remained in Canneto.
- Lothringen Cuirassierswere posted at Cesole; Vaudémont Cuirassiers and Savoyen Dragoons, in Canicossa.
- Gschwind Infantry, Nigrelli Infantry, Kriechbaum Infantry and Longueval-Buquoy Infantry (only 2 bns) were posted in the rear.
- The Imperialists captured 26 boats on the Po.
On 11 December:
- The Imperialists occupied Borgoforte, Governolo, Ostiglia and Ponte Molino, which had just been evacuated by Tessé.
- The French completed their bridge at Casalmaggiore.
- A French envoy obtained the authorisation of the Duke of Parma to send French troops into his duchy.
Operations extend to the right bank of the Po
On 12 December, Villeroy passed the Po at Casalmaggiore with 1,200 horse and marched to Mezzano. He then confided these troops to M. d'Albergotti and returned to Casalmaggiore. Albergotti took position at Mezzano.
On 13 December, the Imperialists threw a bridge on the Po at San Nicolò near Borgoforte where Prince Eugène established his headquarters.
On the night of 13 to 14 December, Imperial regiments (Guido Starhemberg Infantry, Jung-Daun Infantry, Vaudémont Cuirassiers and Savoyen Dragoons) passed to the right bank of the Po. They had been instructed to occupy Guastalla.
On 14 December
- Albergotti advanced with his 1,200 horse to seize Brescello by surprise but he failed. The duke of Modena declared that he would not cede the place to the French nor to the Imperialists. Albergotti cantoned his troops in the Duchy of Parma where they were joined by Fimarcon Dragons.
- Prince Eugène met with Commercy at Governolo to discuss of the winter-quarters of the army. During this meeting, Eugène was informed of the advance of Albergotti's Corps on Brescello. He immediately ordered Dietrichstein Dragoons and Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers to cross the Po at San Nicolò. He also sent 2 bns of Kriechbaum Infantry at San Nicolò to cover the bridge.
- Guido Starhemberg Infantry reached Guastalla; 2 bns of Jung-Daun Infantry reached Luzzara; Savoyen Dragoons marched on Gonzaga; Vaudémont Cuirassiers and 2 bns of Jung-Daun Infantry guarded the bridge on the Po. Guttenstein Infantry marched to Borgoforte.
Louis XIV informed Villeroy that, at the beginning of January, he intended to send 19 new bns and 30 sqns along with militia to bring his old bns to 260 men each.
On 15 December
- By the evening, the Imperialists already had Guido Starhemberg Infantry, Jung-Daun Infantry, Savoyen Dragoons, Dietrichstein Dragoons, Vaudémont Cuirassiers and Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers on the right bank of the Po under the command of GdI Count Guido Starhemberg.
- Guastalla had no walls, the former fortifications having been demolished in the past. The Duke of Guastalla offered to Eugène to build new walls. Pending the approval of the emperor, Eugène authorised the construction of defensive works to allow the garrison to defend itself. He charged Ingenieur-Lieutenant-Colonel Peroni to supervise these works.
On 16 December, Prince Eugène joined his troops at Guastalla, sending Jung-Daun Infantry to Luzzara.
On 17 December
- Eugène returned to Borgoforte where he held a council of war with Commercy to organise winter-quarters.
- Captains Gerardin and Legnasco of Nigrelli Infantry conducted a raid on the road to Pizzighettone, capturing two wagons transporting 500 blankets and a few bales of cloth to the French hospotal at Cremona; as well as 8 oxen, a few horses and 150 sheep.
|Order of Battle|
|Winter-quarters of the Imperial army|
On 18 December, Imperial troops began to march to their winter-quarters in positions along the Oglio from Ostiano to the Po; on both banks of the Mincio in front of Goito and Mantua; and finally on the right bank of the Po along the Crosotol up to Mirandola.
The bridge of boats that the Imperialists had established at San Nicolò was moved to Borgoforte.
On 21 December
- Prince Eugène personally passed to the right bank of the Po and went to his headquarters at San Benedetto while FM Prince Commercy assumed command on the left bank.
- The Princess Brigitta Pico of Mirandola disarmed the Franco-Spanish garrison (280 men of II./Blaisois Infanterie under Colonel La Chétardie) and handed them over to the Imperialists, accepting Guttenstein Infantry as garrison. The Spanish (35 men of Aguilar Infantry, probably Tercio de Lombardia) and Neapolitan troops (2 coys) formerly part of the garrison entered in the Imperial service.
From 24 December, heavy rains filled the Po as well as the ditches of Mantua. The terrain became almost impossible for artillery.
In the night of 26 to 27 December, the bridge of the Imperialists at Borgoforte and the bridge of the French at Casalmaggiore suffered heavy damages due to continuous rain and high water.
On 27 December, Baron Riedt repaired the bridge at Borgoforte.
On 28 December, Villeroy retired Albergotti's Corps from the right bank of the Po and removed his bridge from Casalmaggiore, bringing it back to Cremona. Villeroy established his headquarters at San Daniele between Cremona and Casalmaggiore.
Eugène took up his winter-quarters in such a way as to play upon Villeroy's fears of an invasion of Naples. He established his headquarters in Luzzara.
As yet there was no declaration of war by either party. Preparations were made by both sides during the year, most vigorously of all by Louis XIV, who set on foot no less than 450,000 regulars and embodied militia, and had always prided himself on being first in the field. However, the debut of the war had been disheartening.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Vault, François Eugène de, and G. Pelet: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 1, Paris 1835, pp. 189-385, 583, 613, 617
- Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 3, Vienna 1876, pp. 131-320
- Arneth, Alfred Ritter von: Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, Vol. 1, Vienna, 1864, pp. 135-155
- Dedekind, F.: Geschichte des k. k. Kaiser Franz Joseph I. Dragoner-Regimentes Nr. 11, Vienna 1879
- Spanish Succession, War of the, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (c1910-1922), Vol. 25, pp. 599-600
- Wengen. F.: Geschichte des k. u. k. 12. Dragoner-Regiments Prinz Eugen v. Savoyen, Brandeis, 1879
Arre Caballo - Guerra de Sucesión Española. Campañas en 1.701
Dan Schorr for additional information concerning the Danish Contingent