1702 – Campaign in Northern Italy

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1702 – Campaign in Northern Italy

The campaign lasted from January to December 1702

Introduction

At the end of the campaign of 1701, Prince Eugène de Savoie, commanding an Imperialist army, had taken up his winter-quarters in Northern Italy in such a way as to play upon Villeroy's fears of an invasion of Naples. He established his headquarters at San Benedetto on the right bank of the Po but had troops on both banks. His posts encircles Mantua; they extended westwards from the mouth of the Oglio River to Ostiano; then northwards to Castiglione delle Stivere; on the right bank of the Po from the mouth of the Crostolo Stream eastwards to Novellara and Mirandola. Communications between the two parts of the army was insured by a bridge on the Po at Borgoforte. Prince Eugène commanded the army on the right bank of the Po and FM Prince Commercy, the part posted on the left bank.

Villeroy for his part had concentrated his forces (71 French bns, 80 French sqns, 12 Spanish bns, 12 Spanish sqns) between the Oglio and the Po before sending them to winter-quarters:

  • between the Oglio and the Po: 23 bns and 14 sqns
  • in the Duchy of Milan: 34 bns and 4,000 horse
  • in the regions of Monferrato, Alessandria and Tortona: the rest of the army

Spanish troops (12 bns, 12 sqns) were in bad condition and totalled only 8,000 men.

In 1702, the Hungarian insurrection compelled Vienna to keep back the reinforcements of which Eugène stood in need.

Map

Map of the campaign in Northern Italy in 1702
Phase 1 - from January to August
Adapted from a work published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat and released in the public domain
Map of the campaign in Northern Italy in 1702
Phase 2 - from September to December
Adapted from a work published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat and released in the public domain

Description

On 1 January 1702, when the Duke of Modena asked to Prince Eugène for assistance, the latter ordered a small corps (Guido Starhemberg Infantry (3 bns), Jung-Daun Infantry (3 bns), Savoyen Dragoons (6 sqns), Dietrichstein Dragoons (6 sqns), Vaubonne Dragoons (6 sqns), Alt-Darmstadt Cuirassiers (6 sqns) and Vaudémont Cuirassiers (6 sqns)) to stand ready with three days of bread and fodder.

On 3 January, Prince Eugène marched from San Benedetto to Motteggiana with this corps.

On 4 January, Prince Eugène, Thomas Vaudémont and Guido Starhemberg marched to Gualtieri. Eugène's cavalry marched upstream along the right bank of the Po while his infantry marched to Reggio Emilia; Vaubonne Dragoons marched to Luzzara; and Savoyen Dragoons returned to Gonzaga.

On 5 January, Eugène's Corps appeared in front of Brescello. His infantry along with Savoyen Dragoons and Vaubonne Dragoons took position at the two gates of the place. The Duke of Modena, breaking his promise of neutrality, handed over Brescello to the Imperialists. The city opened its gates and Eugène entered into the place with 1 bn of Guido Starhemberg Infantry and 2 grenadier coys and took possession of 15 guns.

On 6 January, Eugène instructed General Vaubonne to conduct 400 horse in a raid against Piacenza and the region of Alessandria.

On 7 January, Eugène remained in Gualtieri but started to deploy troops in the regions of Guastalla, Mirandola and Mantua, and between the Mincio and the Oglio. Eugène then asked the Duke of Parma to join the alliance and announced that he would advance an Imperialist corps towards Parma. The duke asked Villeroy for assistance. The latter sent artillery to Piacenza. The same day, Villeroy established his headquarters in Cremona where he already had a bridge on the Po with a fortified bridgehead on the right bank. He also sent 500 foot and 500 horse to occupy the Castle of Monticelli.

On 8 January, Eugène relocated his headquarters from San Benedetto to Luzzara. By then, Mantua was completely encircled by entrenched Imperialist posts:

  • at Marmirolo: Major-General von Haxthausen and 1 major of cavalry with 150 horse, 150 hussars and 500 foot
  • at Spinosa: Liechtenstein Infantry (600 men), 200 horse, 100 hussars
  • at Garzedole (unidentified location) : 200 foot, 50 hussars
  • at Balisan (unidentified location): 50 foot
  • at Garolda: 250 foot, 50 horse
  • at Ponte Merlane (unidentified location): 100 horse
  • at Marengo, Roverbella and Castiglione Mantovano: the remaining hussar coys

Rainy weather had swelled the Po and the Imperialist bridge at Borgoforte was in danger.

Meanwhile, M. de Vaudémont built a bridge on the Po at Valenza and another one on the Ticino near Pavia. For his part, Villeroy ordered to re-establish the bridge on the Po at Casalmaggiore. While waiting for the authorisation of the Duke of Parma to occupy Piacenza, Villeroy advanced 1,000 foot and 800 in front of this place. All these measures jeopardized Vaubonne's plan for an Imperialist raid on Piacenza.

On 10 January, the Bishop of San-Donino, who had been sent to Parma to negotiate the entry of the Franco-Spanish army into this duchy, came back to Cremona, assuring that the duke was willing to open the gates of Parma and Piacenza to Villeroy's troops provided that a corps of 14,000 men would advance towards Parma and thus secure his own person. Villeroy refused to engage himself to send such a large corps towards Parma in the middle of January and, once more, asked the duke to allow Franco-Spanish troops in Piacenza and Parma.

On 11 January, Vaubonne and his 400 horse returned to Enza.

By 12 January, the garrison of Cremona consisted of 12 bns and 12 sqns. Villeroy sent Blaisois Infanterie, who had previously garrisoned Mirandola, to the rear, the regiment counting only 300 men.

In mid-January, the first sqns of Ebergény Hussars arrived in Italy. They had been denied to march through the territory of Venice and had swum across the Adige to reach Verona.

On 17 January, the Duke of Parma advised Villeroy that he would not open the gates of Piacenza before the arrival of Franco-Spanish troops in Parma to protect him. Villeroy, seeing that he would not obtain the needed authorisation, detached M. de Praslin (800 foot, 500 horse) to Fiorenzuola, midway between Piacenza and Parma. He also ordered the detachment (900 foot, 800 horse) already posted in front of Piacenza to march back to Cremona where it would pass the Po on the newly established bridge. He then asked Vaudémont to send all Spanish cavalry units that he could to San Giovanni. Vaudémont sent him 1,000 horse under M. de Saint-Frémont. Furthermore, Barbessières assembled another 750 horse and some infantry and advanced towards San Giovanni. Finally, Villeroy started the construction of 2 galiots to patrol the Po.

By this time, Villeroy's Army was deployed as follows:

  • in Cremona: 12 bns, 12 sqns
    • Royal des Vaisseaux (3 bns)
    • Royal-Comtois (2 bns)
    • Médoc (1 bn)
    • Cambrésis (1 bn)
    • Croy (1 bn)
    • Beaujolais (1 bn)
    • Dillon (1 bn) Irish
    • Bourk (1 bn) Irish
    • Rouergue (1 bn)
    • Dauphin Cavalerie (3 sqns)
    • Narbonne Cavalerie (2 sqns)
    • Viltz Cavalerie (2 sqns)
    • Montpeyroux Cavalerie (2 sqns)
    • Fimarcon Dragons (3 sqns)
  • between the Oglio and the Po: 25 bns, 10 sqns
  • in Milan: the Spanish contingent of 11 bns and 4 sqns
  • in Monferrato country: 30 sqns
  • in Tortona and Alessandria countries: 5 bns, 14 sqns
  • in Pavia: 3 bns
  • in Pizzighettone: 2 bns
  • in Lodi: 7 bns
  • on the Adda: 3 bns

On 20 January, the first reinforcement destined to the French Army of Italy embarked at Toulon. Louis XIV had ordered to assemble 30,000 men (14 bns, 28 sqns and 18,400 recruits to complete the units already stationed in Italy) to reinforce Villeroy. As they disembarked in Genoa, the troops would march to the Duchy of Milan by Alessandria.

French units destined to Italy
Infantry Cavalry
Piémont (3 bns)

Lyonnais (2 bns)
Grancey (2 bns)
Montferrat (1 bn)
De Berry (1 bn)
Forest (1 bn)
Perche (1 bn)
Clarke (1 bn) Irish
L'Estrade (1 bn)
Des Vosges (1 bn)

Gendarmerie de France (8 sqns)

Carabiniers (2 sqns)
D'Aubeterre (4 sqns)
Villeroy (2 sqns)
Vivans (2 sqns)
La Ferronaye (2 sqns)
Esclainvilliers (2 sqns)
Dauphin Dragons (3 sqns)
Senneterre Dragons (3 sqns)

Louis XIV fearing for Naples, took away 4 bns (Beaujolais (1 bn), Berry (1 bn), Dauphiné (1 bn) and Vivarais (1 bn)) from Villeroy's Army and redirected them to Naples.

For its part, the Court of Vienna had promised Prince Eugène a reinforcement of 21 bns, 4 grenadier coys, 14 sqns and a replacement of 2,000 Danish troops. However the court was insisting to send a corps towards Naples, expecting that it would be needed to support a new uprising. Therefore, the promised reinforcements would barely replace the troops destined to march on Naples. FM Prince Commercy assumed command of this corps which consisted of:

  • Mansfeld Infantry (4 bns)
  • Nigrelli Infantry (4 bns)
  • Guttenstein Infantry (4 bns)
  • Commercy Cuirassiers (6 sqns)
  • Corbelli Cuirassiers (6 sqns)
  • Serény Dragoons (6 sqns)
  • Deák Hussars (a few coys)
  • Artillery (6 regimental guns)

On 24 January, Villeroy personally went to Milan to discuss of the coming operations with the Prince de Vaudémont. Villeroy decided to reinforce Saint-Frémont's detachment on the Trebbia with 1,000 horse and 500 foot presently quartered in Tortona and Montferrat countries. Villeroy also ordered to detach 800 foot and 500 horse from Cremona under M. de Fimarcon to Castelvetro Piacentino on the opposite bank of the Po.

With the gradual arrival of important reinforcements for the Franco-Spanish army, Prince Eugène objected to send the planned expedition against Naples. He also developed the project of launching a coup-de-main on Villeroy's headquarters at Cremona. Only his closest collaborators (Commercy, Thomas Vaudémont and Guido Starhemberg) were informed of his secret design.

On 27 January, Guido Starhemberg received the order to keep Guido Starhemberg Infantry in Guastalla and Jung-Daun Infantry in Luzzara ready to march. Thomas Vaudémont received similar instructions to have Vaudémont Cuirassiers, Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers and Dietrichstein Dragoons ready. Finally, Colonel Kriechbaum, posted at Borgoforte was ordered to send 300 men of Kriechbaum Infantry along with its grenadier coy to Campitello on the Oglio.

On 28 January, Prince Eugène met with Starhemberg and Vaudémont at Luzzara to discuss of the planned attack on Cremona.

On 29 January, Prince Eugène personally went to Motteggiana to take dispositions with the Prince of Commercy.

On 30 January, Thomas Vaudémont marched in the direction of Fiorenzola at the head of Vaudémont Cuirassiers, Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers and Dietrichstein Dragoons; effected a junction with the 2,000 men of Guido Starhemberg Infantry and Jung-Daun Infantry. Meanwhile, Prince Eugène ordered the following force to march to Ostiano (about 20 km from Cremona):

In the evening of 30 January, Prince Eugène went to Redondesco on the Tartaro.

On 31 January, Villeroy returned to his headquarters at Cremona. On his way he was informed that Prince Eugène had assembled some 4,500 men at Canneto and Ostiano on the Oglio. Fearing for his posts on the Lower Oglio, Villeroy ordered M. de Créqui to assemble his troops in these quarters while he made sure that 2,000 men of the garrison of Cremona would be kept ready to intervene.

On the night of 31 January to 1 February, Eugène attempted the Storming of Cremona, and, after a confused fight, drew off, taking with him Villeroy as a prisoner. The brave but incapable marshal was however little loss, and the French troops, many of them surprised in their beds, had yet managed to expel Eugène's men.

On 1 February, Prince Eugène marched back to Ostiano with his 3,000 men, constantly fearing an attack by Créqui's Corps (approx. 8,000 men). In fact, hearing of the Imperialist attack on Cremona, M. de Créqui marched from his position on the Lower Oglio with 1,500 foot and 500 horse to Rivarolo, instructing his other troops to stand ready to march. A few hours later, he ordered all his troops to assemble at Motta Baluffi, leaving only 300 men behind in each quarter.

With Villeroy prisoner, the overall command of the Franco-Spanish army fell to the Prince de Vaudémont at Milan. Eugène resumed his winter-quarters and his blockade of Mantua and Goito, the balance of power remaining unchanged.

At the beginning of February, the French cavalry sent as reinforcement to Italy started to pass the mountains and to march across Piedmont. Furthermore, 30 guns were prepared so that the Franco-Spanish artillery in Italy could be brought up to 60 guns.

By 2 February in the evening, Créqui's troops had joined him at Motta Baluffi as instructed. However, when Créqui was informed that the Imperialists were taking possession of his quarters on the Lower Oglio, he decided to advance to Sabbioneta.

On 3 February, Créqui had barely reached Sabbioneta when he received orders from M. de Revel to abandon all his quarters to the exception of Sabbioneta and to retire with all haste towards Cremona.

After spoiling his provisions and ammunition, Créqui force marched towards San Daniele.

On 4 February, Eugène threw 5 bns into Gazzuolo where they found bridging material, ammunition and 80 sacks of flour.

By 5 February, Vaudémont had tightened up the positions of the Franco-Spanish army to protect the Lower Oglio. He had ordered Normandie Infanterie (3 bns) and Forest Infanterie (1 bn) to march to Cremona to reinforce the garrison; transferred Sault Infanterie (2 bns) and Royal-Artillerie from Pavia to Lodi on the Adda; redeployed 19 sqns from the Montferrat Country to the region between the Po and the Adda. The same day, Créqui arrived at San Daniele where he received new orders from the Prince de Vaudémont instructing him to retake his quarters. However, he was now in no condition to recapture Bozzolo and Torre d'Oglio who were occupied by Imperialist troops under FML Count Herberstein. Créqui then decided to resume his march towards Cremona.

In the evening of 5 February, Prince Eugène returned to his headquarters at Luzzara. Thus, despite his failure at Cremona, he had finally managed to drive the French out of the Lower Oglio and to force them to retire behind the Adda with only Cremona, Soncino and Sabbioneta still in their hands between the Adda and the Oglio. Eugène's troops gradually occupied Bozzolo, Viadana, Torre d'Oglio and Casalmaggiore.

On 6 February, the Prince de Vaudémont, accompanied by M. d'Albergotti, left Milan for Cremona.

On 7 February, Créqui's detachment arrived at Cremona at the same time than the reinforcements sent from Montferrat country and the Duchy of Milan. There were now 30 bns and 24 sqns at Cremona, a much too large corps for this town. Vaudémont decided to redistribute his forces to strengthen his positions along the Adda and the Po with his right at Pizzighettone and his left at Lodi.

Vaudémont re-established his bridge at Cremona and reorganised his positions as follows:

  • between Pizzighettone and Lodi: 28 bns, 37 sqns
  • at Lecco on the Upper Adda: 4 Spanish rgts, Thiérache Infanterie (1 bn)
  • at Cremona: 15 bns, 8 sqns
  • near Pavia: 8 sqns (transferred from Montferrat country)
  • at Stradella near Pavia: 5 bns, 17 sqns under Saint-Fremont (transferred from Montferrat, Tortona and Alessandria countries)
  • at Soncino on the Oglio: 2 French bns
  • at Sabbioneta: 5 bns
  • in Mantua and Goito: 17 bns, 12 sqns

Furthermore, all cavalry arriving from France via Piedmont was directed to Stradella; and all infantry arriving by the sea was directed to Alessandria.

Meanwhile, the corps of the Imperialist General Thomas de Vaudémont were posted at Borgo San Donino (unidentified location) on the right bank of the Po from where he launched a raid on Bussetto.

On 9 February, the Franco-Spanish evacuated Monticelli and Roccabianca which were immediately occupied by Thomas Vaudémont's Imperial Corps.

On 10 February, Vendôme, one the best French generals was sent from France to replace Villeroy in Italy.

On 12 February, Vice-Legate Aldobrandini, sent by the pope, declared at Parma that the Pontifical States were taking the Duchy of Parma under their protection and that the duchy was therefore neutral. Some 1,500 men gradually arrived from the Pontifical States to garrison Parma and Piacenza.

On 13 February, the Imperialists made themselves master of the Abbey of San Lazaro located near the Pradella Gate of the City of Mantua.

On 14 February, a few French infantry regiments, who had disembarked in the Republic of Genoa, arrived at Casale near Alessandria.

On 18 February, Vendôme arrived at Milan where the Prince de Vaudémont had his headquarters. The first squadrons who had crossed Piedmont arrived at Alessandria. Vendôme directed the recruits arriving from France to Pavia, ordering that 25% of them should be destined to the cavalry and dragoons. Finally, he received a letter from the Comte de Tessé informing him that he could hold only 10 more days in Goito and that Mantua should be relieved before the end of March. The same day in the area of Mantua, M. de Zurlauben at the head of a French force of approx. 850 men (10 grenadier coys, 400 foot and a detachment of cavalry) advanced from San Giorgio against an Imperialist outpost at Ponte Merlano defended by 100 horse (detachments from Visconti Cuirassiers, Ebergény Hussars and the Danish Joels Dragoons). Taking advantage of a thick fog and of the carelessness of the Imperial troops, the French managed to reach Ponte Merlano and to encircle the outpost. They totally surprised the Imperialists who lost 8 men killed, 53 men taken prisoners along with 80 horses.

On 22 February, most of the infantry sent from France along with 6,000 recruits disembarked in the Republic of Genoa.

On 23 February, Vendôme left Milan for Cremona.

On 25 February, Vendôme reached Lodi.

On 27 February, Vendôme finally arrived at Cremona. He was informed by M. de Tessé that Goito had been resupplied and was now in condition to hold till the end of March.

By the end of February

  • Prince Eugène had two bridges on the Po and another on the Enza. His headquarters were at Luzzara and his army (22,000 foot and 8,000 horse) was deployed in four main groups:
    • Prince Thomas de Vaudémont in the Duchy of Parma with 7,000 foot and 3,000 horse (4 infantry rgts, 3 cuirassier rgts and 2 dragoon rgts
    • on the right bank of the Po and in the Duchy of Modena with 2,000 foot and 1,000 horse (1 infantry rgt, 2 dragoon rgts)
    • Count Starhemberg between the Po and the Mincio with 9,500 foot and 2,000 horse (6 infantry rgts, 4 cuirassier rgts)
    • Count Trautmannsdorf blockading Mantua with 3,000 foot and 2,000 horse (1 infantry rgt, 2 cuirassier rgts, 2 hussar rgts, 7 Danish infantry rgts and 2 Danish dragoon rgts)
  • Vendôme Franco-Spanish Army counted 39,500 foot, 12,960 horse and 42 heavy pieces of artillery. It was deployed as follows
    • Cremona: 7,500 foot and 960 horse in 15 bns and 8 sqns
    • between the Adda and the Po: 19,500 foot and 5,640 horse in 39 bns and 47 sqns
    • at Pavia: 960 horse in 8 sqns
    • on the Upper-Adda: 6,500 foot in 13 bns
    • on the right bank of the Po: 2,500 foot and 2,040 horse in 5 bns and 17 sqns
    • in Milan: 3,500 foot in 7 bns
    • in the Lomellina: 3,360 horse in 28 sqns

Furthermore, the French had 5,600 foot and 700 horse defending Mantua and Goito.

At the beginning of March the Vienna War Council informed Prince Eugène that orders had been given to send additional troops to Italy. These troops were:

  • Alt-Daun Infantry (1 bn of 5 coys with the grenadiers)
  • Hasslingen Infantry (1 bn of 5 coys with the grenadiers)
  • Liechtenstein Infantry (2 bns)
  • Rheingraf Infantry (4 bns)
  • Reventlau Infantry (4 bns)
  • Hohenzollern Cuirassiers (6 sqns)
  • Castell Dragoons (6 sqns)

Furthermore, recruits should be sent along with the Saxon Mieth Infantry. However, no solution was proposed to supply horses for the cavalry regiments already stationed in Italy. However, the War Council in Vienna still wanted to launch an offensive against the Kingdom of Naples by the end of March, even though Eugène's Army could barely oppose his French opponents in Northern Italy.

On 14 March, M. de Zurlauben sallied from Mantua with 10 grenadier coys and 600 horse and marched to the Castle del Dosso, defended by 400 men of Liechtenstein Infantry under Lieutenant Andlaw. Zurlauben stormed and burnt the castle before retiring to Mantua.

By 18 March

  • Franco-Spanish
    • All units and all recruits sent from France had arrived at destination.
  • Imperialists
    • G.d.C. Prince Vaudemont retreated behind the Taro River.

On 19 March, M. de Zurlauben with 1,000 foot, 600 horse and 3 guns sprang out of Mantua and destroyed an Imperialist outpost at Castel-Mantuano.

Order of Battle
Order of battle of the Imperial army in Northern Italy in March 1702

Order of battle of the Franco-Spanish army in Northern Italy on 21 March 1702

On 21 March, Vendôme held a council of war with the Prince de Vaudémont at Binasco, midway between Pavia and Milan. It was decided to send a large quantity of provisions from Lodi to Soncino to support an offensive on the Oglio in May as well as to supply Mantua. Vendôme sent 4 bns to Lodi to escort the supply convoys destined to Soncino.

On 22 March, M. de Tessé made a sortie out of Mantua, drove back the neighbouring Imperialist units. In this engagement the Imperialists lost 1 officer and 63 men killed, 9 officers and 77 men wounded and 48 men taken prisoners.

On 24 March, Tessé managed to sent a supply to Goito, allowing the place to sustain itself till the end of April.

French diversion in the Duchy of Parma

On 25 March, Vendôme took command of the corps that he had assembled at San Giacomo on the Po. Tessé informed him that Mantua could hold till the end of April.

On 26 March, Vendôme's last units reached San Giacomo. Meanwhile, M. de Pracontal escorted a convoy of 300 wagons transporting 2,400 bags of flour to Soncino.

On 27 March, Vendôme's Corps occupied several posts along the Tidone: Sarmato, Borgonovo, Semino, Fabbiano, Verago, etc. while Vendôme established his headquarters at La Motta (unidentified location). Informed of the advance of Vendôme's Corps, the Prince de Commercy abandoned his outposts at Monticelli and Caorso opposite Cremona.

On 29 March, Vendôme advanced his corps to the Trebbia and a detachment sent from Cremona occupied Monticelli.

On 30 March, Vendôme advanced his corps to the Nure and established his headquarters at Ponte del Nure. The Imperialists (9,000 men) were retiring in front of him. They had evacuated Fiorenzuola, Cortemaggiore and San Donino and repassed the Taro.

On 31 March, the Imperialists retired behind the Enza and entrenched themselves at Reggio Emilia. Seeing that the Imperialists were retiring in front of him, Vendôme, still at the head of 25 bns (now all at full strength) 48 sqns (several of them still waiting for their recruits) and 12 field guns; countermanded the reinforcements planned from Cremona (9 bns, 12 sqns). In that season, the Duchy of Parma still had insufficient forage to sustain a large army. Vendôme then interrupted his operations.

For the coming campaign, Spain planned to provide 11 bns (at 600 men each) and 20 sqns. Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy also announced that he would contribute 6 bns and 9 sqns (3,600 foot and 1,000 horse) who would start their march at the beginning of May. The promised units were:

On 2 April, the bridge of the Imperialists at Brescello was completed, allowing rapid movements of troops between the Oglio and the Enza. A detachment of 100 men was posted at Montecchio to cover the left flank of the positions of the Imperialists. The 300 men strong garrison of Mirandola and a detachment posted at Viadana were instructed to immediately retire towards Brescello if they were attacked. The same day, Vendôme detached 3,000 men against Caorso.

On 4 April, Prince Eugène was informed of the death of King William III of England.

On 6 April, Vendôme moved his corps closer to the Po to allow his cavalry to repass the river for forage. He established his headquarters at San Nazaro (unidentified location) near Monticelli and sent 200 foot and 100 horse to occupy the two castles of Cortemaggiore. The floating bridge at San Giacomo was moved downstream to Castelnuovo.

On 10 April, the floating bridge at Castelnuovo was completed and the cavalry (to the exception of Senneterre, Bourbon, Esclainvilliers, Villeroy and Dauphin Dragons) passed to the left bank of the Po. Vendôme then planned to wait till it became possible to start the next stage of his campaign: the relief of Mantua.

On 12 April, Vendôme held a council of war at Lodi with the Prince de Vaudémont to prepare his offensive in the Duchy of Mantua. It was determined that the army destined to this offensive would count 69 bns and 112 sqns; and that 16 bns and 12 sqns would be left in the various places, not counting the 17 bns and 12 sqns already in Mantua and Goito. The offensive would be launched at the beginning of May.

On 14 April, Vendôme returned to his headquarters at San Nazaro and ordered to build an entrenched camp for some 5,000 men at the bridgehead opposite Cremona, and to form magazines at Sabbioneta.

On 16 April, 8 French warships under Vice-Admiral d'Estrées arrived in Naples from Barcelona, escorting King Philip V.

On 22 April, the War Council in Vienna recalled Count Wirich von Daun, Count Herberstein and Count Pálffy from Italy, to serve in Germany.

On 28 April, Prince Thomas de Vaudémont assembled his Imperial corps at Colorno.

A French squadron under the Chevalier de Forbin was already cruising in the Adriatic Sea to intercept any supply sent by sea to the army of Prince Eugène.

In April, III./Liechtenstein Infantry (1 bn), Alt-Daun Infantry (1 bn of 600 men and 1 grenadier coy), Deák Hussars (3 sqns) and Ebergény Hussars (5 sqns) arrived in Northern Italy to reinforce the Imperial army.

At the end of April, Prince Eugène sent orders to Count Trautmannsdorf to abandon his posts around Mantua and to take position at Brusacagne (unidentified location) to observe the movements of the enemy. Eugène also informed him that he could not send him any reinforcement and asked him to send him the battalion of Alt-Daun, which was soon expected, as soon as it arrived. Thus Trautmannsdorf would be at the head of 4,400 foot and 1,800 horse: 3 bns of Liechtenstein (approx. 1,600 men), 4 bns of Reventlau (approx. 2,000 men still on their way), the Danish Marine Regiment, Corbelli Cuirassiers, Visconti Cuirassiers and the Danish Joels Dragoons. For his part Guido Starhemberg was instructed to occupy Brescello and to prepare for the defence of the place. Finally, Prince Thomas Vaudémont was order to join the main army with his cavalry corps.

French relief of Mantua

Order of Battle
Order of battle of the Imperial army in Northern Italy on 30 April 1702

Order of battle of the Franco-Spanish field army in Northern Italy on 1 May 1702

On 1 May, Vendôme personally went to Cremona to give instructions for the troops expected to arrive in May (Spanish and Savoyard). The same day, Alt-Daun Infantry arrived at Bussolengo.

On 2 May, Reventlau Infantry arrived at Bussolengo and was directed towards Trautmannsdorf”s camp. Rheingraf Infantry and Herbeville Dragoons were still on their way to Bussolengo.

On 3 May, Eugène changed his mind and instructed Trautmannsdorf to maintain the blockade of Mantua. Meanwhile, Alt-Daun Infantry reached Roncoferraro. A battalion (600 men) of Liechtenstein Infantry was posted at Spinosa; 900 men of Reventlau Infantry and 150 horse at Marmirolo.

On 4 May, Vendôme's army passed the Po at Cremona and encamped at San Fiorano del Palazzo. The same day, Alt-Daun Infantry arrived at Borgoforte.

On 5 May, Vendôme marched to San Salvatore. The troops of the Duke of Savoy finally marched from Vercelli. The same day, Starhemberg marched to Gazzuolo with Nigrelli, Guttenstein, Daun and Gehlen infantry rgts. Meanwhile, Count Serény marched towards Campitello with Commercy Cuirassiers and Serény Dragoons. For his part Herberstein was at the head of Gschwind Infantry posted in Canneto and Ostiano; Bagni, Lothringen, Herberstein and Longueval-Buquoy infantry rgts in Castiglione; Pfalz-Neuburg Cuirassiers, Taafe Cuirassiers, Lothringen Cuirassiers and Pálffy Cuirassiers at Boccadiganda on the Po.

On 6 May, Vendôme marched to San Giovanni in Croce. His right was anchored on the Po, his left on the Delmona. The same day, Savoyen Dragoons and Vaubonne Dragoons were sent to Campitello; Longueval-Buquoy Infantry (2 bns and grenadiers) rejoined the main Imperial army.

On 7 May, the Imperialists moved the bridge they had on the Po downstream from Correggioverde to Borgoforte. Their troops posted on the right bank of the Po were recalled, leaving only 1,500 men in Brescello and 200 men in Guastalla. Prince Eugène moved his headquarters from Luzzara to Borgoforte. An Imperialist corps took position on the Lower Oglio from Torre d'Oglio to Marcaria while 4 infantry rgts occupied Canneto and the Prince de Commercy took position behind the Mella with 3,000 horse. The Imperialist troops blockading Mantua did not move.

On 10 May, Eugène inspected the area of Canneto on the Oglio and gave instructions to improve the fortifications of the place.

On 11 May, Reventlau Infantry took position in various posts around Mantua.

On the evening of 12 May, Vendôme counter-marched towards Cremona as if he was retiring to protect this town against an Imperialist threat. In fact, he planned to turn the Imperialist right and to pass the Oglio upstream near Castelvisconti. M. de Créqui would form his vanguard (all the grenadiers, 6 dragoon rgts) and M. de Pracontal (6 bns, 10 sqns) would mask his march in front of Ostiano and Canneto. The same day, Rheingraf Infantry (1,500 men in 3 bns) arrived at Starhemberg's camp at Acquanegra; Longueval-Buquoy (2 bns) and Ebergény Hussars arrived at Canneto.

On the morning of 13 May, Vendôme's army reached Cremona. It continued its march and encamped at Bordolano. Work immediately started on two bridges on the Oglio.

By noon on 14 May, the French bridges on the Oglio were ready. However, Vendôme had to wait for a bread convoy sent from Pizzighettone. The same day, the Danish infantry contingent, to the exception of the Marine Regiment, joined the main Imperial army on the Oglio.

On the night of 14 to 15 May, M. de Montpeyroux passed the Oglio with 500 foot and 500 horse to reconnoitre the other bank.

On 15 May at daybreak, Vendôme's army passed the Oglio. Vendôme marched at the head of a strong vanguard (all the grenadiers, all the dragoons and 20 guns) to the Mella. At noon, this vanguard passed the river at Manerbio. Meanwhile, Montpeyroux marched to Cigole where he surprised an Imperialist detachment (180 horse, 30 hussars) destroying a bridge on the Mella. He drove them back and re-established the bridge. That night, Vendôme's army encamped at Bassano where he established his headquarters. However, part of his second line and his artillery did not arrive at the camp before the next morning. The same day, Prince Eugène finally realised what Vendôme was attempting and rushed to Ostiano. He then advanced towards the bridges of Manerbio and Cigole but arrived too late to prevent their capture.

On 16 May, Vendôme sojourned at Bassano while the last elements of his army took some rest. The same day, Prince Eugène retired from Ostiano, leaving the entrenchments intact and abandoning his ovens and some provisions.

On 17 May, Vendôme's army passed the Mella on the bridges of Manerbio and Cigole and marched to Pralboino. At 7:00 a.m., Vendôme reached Pralboino with his reserve and was informed that the Imperialists had evacuated Ostiano. He immediately threw 400 men in Ostiano and seized the bridge (the Imperialists had retired so precipitously that they had time to remove only one pontoon from this floating bridge). The same day, Eugène's army encamped at Marcaria and Campitello, forming an obstacle between Vendôme's army and Mantua. For his part, Commercy sent 2 bns of Kriechbaum Infantry from Borgoforte to Garolda.

On 18 May, fearing for Cremona, Vendôme sent reinforcements (6 bns) under M. de Pracontal to this town. Vendôme then marched to Isorella with his army. Informed that an Imperialist garrison (90 men) had been left in Canneto, he sent two detachments under MM. de Cavoye and de Bissy against this post. The castle was occupied by 200 men. Once more, the Imperialists had retired without destroying their bridge. Vendôme now had two bridges (Ostiano and Canneto) to maintain his communications with Cremona. The same day, Eugène's main army encamped at Boccadiganda, sending Guido Starhemberg Infantry, Herberstein Infantry, Rheingraf Infantry, Dietrichstein Dragoons and the newly arrived Herbeville Dragoons with 12 cannon to Montanara. Meanwhile, Vaubonne Dragoons protected the baggage; Commercy's Corps moved its camp to Ponte Merlano, leaving 380 horse to guard the bridge at Garolda.

On 19 May, Canneto was invested. The same day, Deák Hussars were posted at Le Grazie near Mantua. Prince Eugène had deployed behind the Fossa-Maestra extending up to Gorvernolo. Then, at the head of 500 grenadiers and 300 dragoons, he personally reconnoitred the Cerese Gate of Mantua. His grenadiers stormed the French outpost near this gate and established themselves in neighbouring houses. From the Cerese Gate a road led to Borgoforte. A stone bridge also linked the gate to Té Island. A causeway on a dam then led to a rectangular tower defending the draw bridge over Lake Pajolo. At the southern end of the dam near the village of Cerese, a defensive earthwork flanked the tower. A small redoubt had also been erected near Pietole some 15 minutes from the causeway. Finally, there was also a narrower dam and a flying bridge. Prince Eugène ordered to transfer four half-cartheunen guns from Borgoforte to these new positions near Cerese. He also transferred there 5 bns and 400 dragoons. Meanwhile, Count Guttenstein marched from Montanara and made himself master of the San Lazaro Abbey.

In the night of 19 to 20 May, the Imperialists completed a battery for their 24-pdrs in front of the Cerese Gate. Eugène's Army, encamped between Boccadiganda and San Nicolò, was ordered to march against Pietole.

On 20 May, Vendôme arrived at Canneto with more infantry and some artillery. The garrison under Scherzer surrendered at the first summon. The French captured 6 guns, 2 swivel guns and a large quantity of ammunition. M. de Tessé informed Vendôme that the Imperialists had evacuated Marmirolo and Campitello and seemed to have repassed the Mincio on the bridge of Governolo. The same day at daybreak, Eugène's artillery opened on the defence tower. After the eighteenth shot from his heavy guns, the drawbridge collapsed down, the fire from the neighbouring entrenchments was soon silenced. After a while, the guns of the defenders located on the other side of nearby hills and in the tower were also silenced. Imperial grenadiers then made themselves master of the entrenchments which had been evacuated by the defenders and then stormed the tower. Eugène had hoped to draw M. de Tessé outside the fortifications. Indeed, Tessé had come to the rescue of the redoubt with all his grenadiers, his cavalry and 6 guns. However, when he realised that Eugène's entire army was at hand, he took refuge in Mantua and Prince Eugène captured the redoubt of Cerese. The entrenchments near Pietole were razed by the Imperialists. Finally, Eugène instructed the garrisons at Marcaria and Gazzuolo to retire to Torre d'Oglio. Still the same day, Commercy's Corps reached the neighbourhood of Goito.

On 21 May, Vendôme marched to Casalmoro. The same day, Eugène started works in front of the Cerese Gate and the Pradella Gate of Mantua to make sure that Tessé could not attack him in the rear while he would fight Vendôme's Army. He also threw two bridges on the Mincio to ease communication with Commercy. Finally, he instructed Lieutenant-Colonel Salzer, commanding at Castiglione delle Stiviere, that in case of an attack, he should preserve the cavalry detachment under his command and send it back to the main army and defend the place with the rest of his garrison.

On 22 May, Vendôme marched to Medole. He detached M. de Villepéon (2 infantry brigades, 600 horse and 4 guns towards Castel Goffredo. M. de Chartogne, the blockade of Goito having been lifted, went to Medole where he reported that the Prince de Commercy was still at Marmirolo with an Imperialist corps. The same day, Eugène made a reconnaissance in the direction of Goito.

On 23 May, Vendôme's army marched to Goito. Two detachments covering the right and left of the army engaged the Imperialists at Castellucchio and Volta and drove them back. In the evening, M. de Villepéon's detachment made itself master of Castel Goffredo after a brief resistance of its garrison (60 regulars and about 100 peasants under Captain Priser of Longueval Infanterie) which were taken prisoners. The French captured 6 guns and ammunition. The same day, the Prince de Commercy precipitously retired from Marmirolo, passed the Mincio and took position at Cerese. Meanwhile, Eugène brought his army behind the lines of the Fossa Maestra. Only 600 foot were left at Cerese.

On 24 May, Vendôme marched towards Mantua. He found the Imperialists entrenched on the heights of Cerese. He resumed his advance up to the Pradella Gate of Mantua. Vendôme then recalled the 4 bns and the 10 sqns left on the Oglio under M. de Pracontal.

During this time, the Prince de Vaudémont was assembling a Spanish corps (5 bns, 12 sqns) near Cremona to threaten the Imperialist positions at Brescello and their bridgehead at Borgoforte.

On 25 May, Lieutenant-Colonel Salzer sent French prisoners previously kept at Castiglione towards Tyrol.

On 26 May, Pracontal's detachment effected a junction with the French main army at Goito. The same day, the first Savoyard reinforcements (3 bns, 1 dragoon rgt) also arrived at Goito. The rest of the recruits and horses expected from France also arrived at the camp. Vendôme was now at the head of 67 bns and 112 sqns and other troops were expected from Savoy and Spain. For his part, Prince Eugène had only 50 bns and 69 sqns.

Siege of Castiglione

Order of Battle
style="padding:5px;"Order of battle of the Franco-Spanish army in Northern Italy at the beginning of June 1702

Order of battle of the Spanish army in the Viceroyalty of Naples at the beginning of June 1702

Order of battle of the Imperial army in Northern Italy at the end of May 1702

Before undertaking another offensive against Prince Eugène, Vendôme resolved to make himself master of Castiglione delle Stiviere which was still occupied by an Imperial force (600 men including 534 men of Longueval-Buquoy Infantry in 5 coys, 27 hussars, 34 dragoons, some 200 armed peasants) under Lieutenant-Colonel Salzer and represented a potential threat against his communications. He entrusted this mission to M. de Revel.

On 27 May, Revel marched from Goito to Castiglione with 6,000 men (4 infantry rgts, 400 grenadiers, 500 horse, 300 dragoons) and four 12-pdr guns. Around 3:00 p.m., he arrived in front of Castiglione. Revel considered that he could not storm the place and decided to undertake a formal siege.. His 400 grenadiers along with 300 foot took position near the gates of Castiglione.

On 28 May, Revel opened the trenches in front of Castiglione. In the evening, General Maulevrier arrived with a reinforcement of 2,000 foot, 300 horse and 8 artillery pieces sent by Vendôme. The same day, Major Werther of Darmstadt Cuirassiers, who had been sent to support Castiglione, returned to Eugène's main camp. On his way, Werther encountered a French supply convoy of 600 pack-mules escorted by Lieutenant-Colonel de Courtade of Melun Cavalerie with 150 horse and 50 dragoons. In this encounter, Werther lost 5 men taken prisoners and 3 killed but captured 3 horses and 9 mules.

On 29 May, the French artillery opened on Castiglione.

On 30 May, Revel received 5 heavy pieces sent from Castel Goffredo.

During the month of May, Reventlau Infantry (4 bns), Rheingraf Infantry (3 bns) and Herbeville Dragoons (6 sqns) arrived in Northern Italy to reinforce the Imperial army.

The French formed a squadron of hussars in Mantua from deserters.

On 1 June at 7:00 a.m., the French artillery having breached the wall of Castiglione, its garrison surrendered as prisoners of war. At 11:00 a.m., Revel took possession of the place. The French took 5 colours, a large quantity of ammunition and provisions; and lost only 30 men dead or wounded. More important, the capture of Castiglione deprived the Imperialists from supply coming from Lake Garda. Their only communication with the empire was now the Adige.

On 2 June, Ebergényi Hussars and 102 cuirassiers were detached on the Mincio with provisions for six days. The same day, Hasslingen Infantry (1 bn and 1 grenadier coy) arrived as reinforcements and joined Commercy's Corps.

French preparation for an offensive on the right bank of the Po

Order of Battle
Order of battle and deployment of the Imperial army in Northern Italy at the beginning of June 1702

On 3 June, Vendôme marched from Goito along the right bank of the Mincio and encamped on the Fossa-Maestra, his right at Montanara, his centre at Grazie and his left at Rivalta where he established his headquarters in a farmhouse near the lake shore. A bridge was thrown on the Mincio at a place designated as “La Papeterie” by the French to communicate with Mantua. Meanwhile, the Prince of Vaudémont marched to Cremona with a Spanish corps (3 bns and 12 sqns). The Imperialists facing them had their left between Borgoforte, Buscoldo and Curtatone, their centre from Curtatone to Cerese and their right from Cerese to Virgiliana on the Mincio. During a skirmish between vanguards, General-Adjutant Colomba of Deák Hussars was killed.

Vendôme began to entrench his army in front of the Imperialists and established outposts at Bozzolo and Gazzuolo to protect his communications with Cremona.

On June 4, Prince Eugène detached FML Margrave von Anspach with Kriechbaum Infantry, Nigrelli Infantry, Taaffe Cuirassiers and Visconti Cuirassiers to take position between Buscoldo and Borgoforte.

On 5 June, the last Savoyard units reached Goito. The Savoyard contingent totalled 6 bns and 11 sqns under General de Prela.

On 6 June, Prince Eugène, fearing for his posts on the right bank of the Po, sent 3 cavalry rgts and 13 infantry coys (3 coys Herberstein Infantry, 3 coys of Bagni Infantry, 4 coys of Reventlau Infantry and 3 coys of Kriechbaum Infantry) to Brescello and Guastalla. Thus bringing the garrison of Brescello to 76 officers and 2,558 men while 1,025 men had been posted in other locations on the right bank of the Po. Meanwhile, Darmstadt Cuirassiers, Vaudémont Cuirassiers and Dietrichstein Dragoons were sent to Borgoforte to reinforce the corps of the Margrave of Anspach.

On June 7, the first 7 coys of Solari Infantry were joined by Venetian troops Borgoforte. The same day, Vendôme sent 5,000 men to reinforce the Spanish corps of the Prince of Vaudémont at Cremona. Furthermore, Colonel du Guast de Belleaffaire received command in Sabbionetta; Colonel Villars, in Castiglione; and Colonel Cabanac with Monferrato Infantry was posted at Bozzolo and Marcaria.

On 8 June, General Pálffy had an audience with Emperor Leopold I in Vienna, explaining the distressful situation in Lombardy. The emperor promised to send a corps of 8,000 Saxons to reinforce Eugène's Army. He also approved the creation of an Irish regiment under Macdonell. The same day on the Po, Eugène brought 15 boats from the Po to the Fossa Montanara, planning a raid on Vendôme's headquarters at Rivalta.

On 9 June, Prince Eugène sent ammunition to Brescello.

On 10 June, Pracontal made a demonstration against Virgiliana. Furthermore, Vendôme detached the General de Chartogne (Vosges Infanterie, Languedoc Infanterie, Lisboa Infantry and de Gy Infantry with 2 dragoon rgts and a few pieces) to make a new attack on Viadana. At 11:00 p.m., Chartogne set off from Casalmaggiore The same day Prince Eugène personally reconnoitred the neighbourhood of Borgoforte. He also sent 2 coys of Solari Infantry, 2 coys of Rheingraf Infantry and 200 grenadiers to reinforce the 13 coys of Solari Infantry posted at Brescello.

On the night of 10 to 11 June, Prince Eugène sent a party (General- Adjutant Davia with 150 volunteers from the infantry and 50 men of Guethem Frei-Compagnie) from Curtatone on several small boats to abduct Marshal Vendôme in his house at Rivalta. A dozen of Imperialist grenadiers managed to enter into the garden surrounding this house but they were spotted by 1 sergeant and 10 guards who gave the alert. The remaining grenadiers had not yet disembarked when Senneterre Dragons and Savoia Infantry, encamped near the headquarters, came to the support of Vendôme's guards. The Imperialists then rowed vigorously to return to Curtatone.

On 11 June, M. de Chartogne made himself master of the Castle of Viadana, which had been evacuated by the Imperialists, and of the neighbouring fort on the Po, taking 150 prisoners. Vendôme then threw another bridge at Marcaria on the Oglio to shorten his line of communication with Cremona. The same day, King Philip V of Spain, disembarked at Savone near Genoa to join the army and take command. He was received by Spanish troops (including Monroy Dragoons and Artiaga Infantry). Still the same day, Trautmannsdorf relieved the Danish Marine Infantry posted in Ostiglia with 1 bn of Liechtenstein Infantry under Major Fresen.

On 12 June, Eugène sent 100 men of Hasslingen Infantry to reinforce Guastalla, and Lieutenant-Colonel Martini of Vaudemont Cuirassiers with his 300 horse to screen the Po between Brescello and Guastalla.

On 13 June, Philip V set off from Finale.

On 14 June, Philip V met with Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy at Alessandria.

On 15 June, as reprisal for the raid on Rivalta, Vendôme advanced 12 heavy artillery pieces within 600 paces of Curtatone, where Prince Eugène had his headquarters, and cannonaded the village for a whole day, forcing Prince Eugène to retire to Montanara. The same day, the Imperialists dismantled their bridges on the Mincio at Governolo and Garalda. However, they still had two bridges on this river at Virgiliana.

On 16 June, Vendôme brought back his artillery from Curtatone.

Vendôme ordered to prepare 32 heavy guns at Cremona for the planned attack on Brescello.

On 17 June, Vendôme reconnoitred the area of San Giorgio, Formigosa and Virgiliana. However, he considered that there were too little forage and that the terrain was to difficult for an offensive there. Accordingly, he attached even more importance to an offensive on the right bank of the Po. The same day, Philip V arrived at Pavia.

On 18 June, Philip V reached Milan where he intended to sojourn until 1 July before joining the army. Vendôme was waiting for his arrival to launch the planned offensive. The same day, the last 6 coys of Solari Infantry finally arrived at Eugène's camp. This regiment thus now counted 1 grenadier coy and 3 bns.

On 19 June, French guns posted at Viadana opened across the Po against the defence of Brescello, where Solari Infantry was stationed, but they were soon silenced by the artillery of the fortress.

On 24 June, the Imperialists made a great forage around Montanara, close to Vendôme's camp.

At Mantua, Eugène had already taken dispositions to prevent a sortie of the Franco-Spanish garrison from the Cerese Gate. He decided to block the Pradella Gate as well.

In the night of 25 to 26 June, Eugène with 300 men reconnoitred the Pradella Gate. French troops posted in a farmhouse attacked a party of grenadiers who was quickly supported by the rest of the Imperialist detachment. The French then evacuated the farmhouse and retreated to Mantua. In this action, the Imperialists lost 2 men killed and 6 wounded; the French 15 men killed or wounded and 2 taken prisoners.

On 26 June, Lieutenant-Colonel Zum Jungen from Jung-Daun Infantry and Major Count Bagni from Bagni Infantry with 100 grenadiers and 300 musketeers occupied the farmhouse previously evacuated by the French. They were only a few hundreds paces from the Pradella Gate to cover a detachment of 100 workers who had been sent to the Franciscan Monastery. Jungen and Bagni were soon reinforced by 300 horse.

On 27 June in the morning, Prince Eugène started to build entrenchments near the Pradella Gate. His workers linked three isolated redoubts with trenches. The French heavy artillery vainly tried to interrupt their work. They also made a sortie which was repulsed. However, FML Guido Starhemberg was lightly wounded in the affair.

On 28 June, informed of Eugène's endeavour, Vendôme marched to Mantua with 17 bns. Eugène immediately sent the Danish General Haxthausen with 4 Imperial bns and 2 Danish bns to the Pradella Gate. He also detached General Count Bagni (5 bns of Kriechbaum Infantry and Nigrelli Infantry) from the Corps of the Margrave von Anspach posted at Chiesa Nuova to the Pradella Gate. After reconnoitring the Imperialist positions, Vendôme considered that they were too strong to attack them and he sent back 11 bns to Rivalta reinforcing Mantua with the remaining 6 bns. The garrison of Mantua now totalled 14 bns. The same day, the Imperialists continued to entrench themselves in front of the Pradella Gate, FML Prince Liechtenstein supervising 1,400 workers and receiving a reinforcement of 350 horse. Bagni returned to Chiesa Nuova with his detachment but Haxthausen encamped at the Franciscan Monastery.

On 30 June, Vendôme detached M. de Créqui (4 sqns, 3 bns of Piémont Infanterie and 1 bn of Berwick Infanterie) to Marcaria on the Oglio with orders to entrench both bridgeheads. He also sent the Savoyard General de Prela to make a general forage under the protection of 3,000 foot and 1,200 horse between Marcaria and Borgoforte. Meanwhile, Prince Eugène had ordered a large forage between Buscoldo and Borgoforte. This forage was covered by Lieutenant-Colonel Arberg of the Darmstadt Cuirassiers with 300 cuirassiers and 150 foot. A clash took place with Imperialist horse who were driven back on the Fossa-Maestra.

On 1 July, Philip V left Milan accompanied by the Prince de Vaudémont and escorted by Caracciolo Infantry. They went to Lodi. Meanwhile, two other minor engagements took place near Borgoforte and on the Oglio, both turning to the advantage of the Franco-Spanish troops. The same day, 4 coys of Solari Infantry were sent to Guastalla under Major Baron Browne.

On 2 July, Philip V reached Pizzighettone. The same day, the Margrave of Anspach was ordered to stand ready to pass the Po with Darmstadt Cuirassiers, Vaudemont Cuirassiers, Trautmannsdorf Dragoons, Kriechbaum Infantry, the rest of Solari Infantry and 4 regimental guns.

On 3 July, Philip V arrived at Cremona. On his way there, he had been joined by an escort of cavalry. All Spanish troops were assembled at Cremona to the exception of those assigned to the guard of the Duchy of Milan.

On 4 July, Philip V sent 300 foot and 400 horse to guard the Adda. Meanwhile, the Prince de Vaudémont went to Bozzolo where he had a conference with Marshal Vendôme. They decided that:

  1. the army remaining in the Duchy of Mantua would count 50 bns, 66 sqns and 35 pieces and be placed under the command of the Prince de Vaudémont who would soon join it at Rivalta
  2. the Army of the Po would consist of 41 bns, 83 sqns and 57 pieces and be placed under the command of King Philip V who would soon be joined at Cremona by Marshal Vendôme as second in command
  3. only 20 bns and 40 sqns of the Army of the Po would initially pass the river at Cremona and take position to cover the construction of a new bridge at Casalmaggiore; the rest of the army would remain in the area between Cremona and Marcaria until the new bridge would be ready
  4. Vaudémont and Vendôme would invite Philip V to remain in Cremona till the completion of the bridge at Casalmaggiore

On the night of 4 to 5 July, Prince Eugène sent a large reinforcement at Guastalla on the right bank of the Po.

By this time the Imperialist garrison of Brescello consisted of 7,000 men and the Imperialists were working on entrenchments on the Enza and on the Crostolo. Furthermore, new entrenchments and batteries were being erected in front of Mantua near the Pradella Gate.

On 8 July, Royal-Marine Infanterie and a few cavalry regiments took position at Marcaria.

On 9 July, Vaudémont went to Rivalta to assume command of the Army of Mantua where he would be assisted by Lieutenants-Generals Zurlauben, Barbesières, Medavi and Saint-Fremont.

On 11 July, Vendôme personally went to Bozzolo. The same day, the Margrave of Anspach transferred command of his corps to General Bagni and left for Germany as instructed. Prince Eugène decided to abandon the blockade of Mantua, to evacuate the Seraglio, to concentrate his army at Borgoforte and to transfer his operations to the right bank of the Po.

On 12 July, Vendôme arrived at Cremona accompanied by the Duke of Mantua who wanted to pay homage to the King of Spain and propose his services as volunteer in the Army of the Po. M. de Tessé was also with them as French representative to the Duke of Mantua. Most of the artillery was loaded aboard five ships in Cremona, it would be escorted by two galiots under M. de Caumattin and M. d'Aubepin. The same day, the Imperial Gehlen Infantry marched to Borgoforte to prepare an entrenched camp for 6,000 men. Meanwhile, General Marquis Visconti took position in the neighbourhood of Brescello with Commercy Cuirassiers, Darmstadt Cuirassiers and Visconti Cuirassiers.

French offensive on the right bank of the Po

Order of Battle
Order of battle of the Franco-Spanish under Vaudémont in mid-July 1702

Order of battle of the Franco-Spanish under Vendôme in mid-July 1702

On 13 July, M. de Créqui passed the Po with 16 sqns at Cremona and encamped at Castelvetro.

On 14 July, 10 bns and 3 dragoon sqns joined M. de Créqui at Castelvetro.

On 14 and 15 July, the last troops destined to the Army of the Po left Rivalta. As planned the Prince de Vaudémont was now at the head of 50 bns and 66 sqns. Vaudémont redeployed his main body (32 bns, 49 sqns) on a narrower front, his right on the Ozon stream and his left at Grazie. The front of his positions was covered by the Fossa-Maestra. His headquarters were transferred from Rivalta, where he left only 2,000 men, to Grazie. Finally, 10 bns formed the garrison of Mantua; 4 bns and 10 sqns were posted at San Antonio on the road to Verona; and 4 bns and 7 sqns were distributed in various outposts on the Oglio and on the Upper Mincio.

On 15 July, Prince Eugène personally reconnoitred the surroundings of Brescello. He then sent Visconti and his 3 cuirassier rgts (Commercy, Darmstadt and Visconti) back to Montanara.

On 16 and 17 July, other Franco-Spanish divisions progressively arrived at Castelvetro where a force of 23 bns, 41 sqns and 15 guns was finally assembled. Meanwhile, another Franco-Spanish corps of 18 bns and 42 sqns assembled at Casalmaggiore.

On 18 July, the corps encamped at Castelvetro marched to Caorso and Cortemaggiore where Marshal Vendôme joined it in the evening.

On 19 July, Vendôme's Corps passed the Ongina and encamped near Soragna.

On 20 July, Vendôme's Corps marched to San Secondo and encamped on the left bank of the Taro. A pontoon bridge was thrown on the river for the passage of the train and artillery. The Imperialists were entrenched behind the Crostolo and had 3,000 horse at Sorbolo. They still had 23 bns and 3 cavalry rgts between Borgoforte and Curtatone near Mantua.

On 21 July, Vendôme's Corps started to pass the Taro and to encamp at Colorno but a sudden flood broke the bridge while 15 bns with the train and artillery were still on the left bank. Meanwhile the bridge sent to Casalmaggiore arrived at destination but the Po having burst its banks, the bridge could not be established. The same day, Jung-Daun Infantry marched to Borgoforte and Visconti with his three cuirassier rgts (Commercy, Darmstadt and Visconti) took position at Santa Vittoria on the Crostolo. General Bagni was still at the head of 14 coys of Kriechbaum Infantry, 7 coys of Solari Infantry, Vaudemont Cuirassiers (300 men) and Trautmannsdorf Dragoons with 4 regimental guns.

On 22 July, the rest of Vendôme's Corps joined him at Colorno. Meanwhile, by 11:00 a.m., the bridge at Casalmaggiore was ready. The Franco-Spanish troops previously assembled at Casalmaggiore immediately passed the Po and made a junction with Vendôme's Corps at Colorno, to the exception of the Gendarmerie (8 sqns), Carabiniers (4 sqns) and a few Spanish cavalry units who staid behind to escort King Philip V who was expected three days later.

The Imperialist corps posted at Sorbolo repassed the Enza and retired behind Brescello which was occupied by 5,000 men. For its part, Guastalla was occupied by 3,000 Imperialists. Prince Eugène planned to leave only 6,000 men in front of Mantua. He had thrown a bridge on the Po at Boccadiganda near Borgoforte to be able to rapidly join his other troops on the right bank of the Po.

On 25 July, Vendôme advanced with his army from Colorno to Sorbolo where he was joined by King Philip V with his escort. The king then assumed nominal command of the army. His retinue arrived during the night. The same day, Prince Eugène retired Starhemberg Infantry from the banks of the Crostolo and ordered Herbeville Dragoons to make a junction with Visconti's Corps at Santa Vittoria and then to retire on Reggio. Finally, Lieutenant-Colonel Martini from Vaudemont Cuirassiers was instructed to march to Montecchio with his 230 horse.

On 26 July at 8:00 a.m., Vendôme left Sorbolo at the head of 14 grenadier coys (600 men) and 16 sqns to cover the march of the main army and to make himself master of a passage on the Crostolo. At 10:00 a.m., Vendôme reached Castelnovo di Sotto where he marked the camp of the main army and rested his troops for an hour. At 11:00 a.m., Philip's army marched from its camp at Sorbolo. Meanwhile Vendôme advanced to the Crostolo and passed it. A priest then informed him that 4 Imperialist cavalry rgts were encamped near Santa Vittoria between the Crostolo and the Tassone. Vendôme immediately advanced against their camp and defeated them in the Combat of Santa Vittoria. Vendôme pursued them beyond the river up to the neighbourhood of Guastalla. In this engagement, the Imperialist lost 600 men dead or wounded and 400 men taken prisoners. During this time, Philip V had passed the Crostolo at the head of 9 sqns but arrived too late to take part in the action. After the engagement, part of the French vanguards encamped near Santa Vittoria while the main body encamped at Castelnovo di Sotto on the left bank of the Crostolo. The same day, Imperial troops, who had evacuated Virgiliana, sent their baggage to Borgoforte. When Eugène was informed of Visconti's defeat, he sent Kriechbaum Infantry, Gehlen Infantry, Taaffe Cuirassiers and Vaudemont Cuirassiers towards Luzzara.

On 27 July, Philip's army sojourned at Castelnovo di Sotto. The same day, FZM Count Starhemberg assumed command at Buscoldo and Prince Eugène rejoined the corps sent forward by Commercy the previous day (Herbeville Dragoons, Savoyen Dragoons, Jung-Daun Infantry and Guido Starhemberg Infantry) at the mouth of the Crostolo. Eugène then returned to Borgoforte where he immediately convened FZM Guido Starhemberg with whom he had a long deliberation. They then sent orders to FZM Börner and G.d.C. Count Trautmannsdorf, as well as to General Vaubonne. The latter was instructed to march with Nigrelli Infantry and Corbelli Cuirassiers from Virgiliana to Borgoforte. The same day, 1,100 men of Sachsen-Weimar Infantry (1 bn) and Sachsen-Eisenach Infantry (1 bn), led by General Bibra, joined Trautmannsdorf's Corps.

On 28 July, Philip's army passed the Crostolo and encamped at Santa Vittoria, leaving a cavalry brigade and 600 foot at Castelnovo di Sotto. The same day, 200 men of Nigrelli Infantry joined the workers erecting entrenchments around Borgoforte.

On 29 July, M. d'Albergotti was detached with 1,000 horse and 4 guns to summon Reggio. Imécourt followed with Marine (3 bns) and Cotentin (1 bn) to support Albergotti. As the latter approached, the garrison (400 Modenese foot and 400 Modenese horse) surrendered as prisoners of war and Reggio was occupied by 2 bns. Albergotti seized 20 guns and ample provisions in Reggio. Imécourt assumed command in Reggio. Albergotti then advanced on Modena with his 1,000 horse, closely followed by a supporting force (1 bn of Vendôme Infanterie and 1 bn of Tournaisis Infanterie) under Brigadier Orgémont. Modena did not offer any resistance and was occupied by 2 bns. It contained 30 guns that fell into the hands of Albergotti. Orgémont assumed command in Modena. The same day, Lieutenant-Colonel Martini (230 horse and some foot) evacuated Montecchio and retreated to Borgoforte. The Imperialists at Borgoforte received intelligence that the Franco-Spanish forces posted upstream on the left bank of the Po were constructing large rafts in preparation for an attack on Borgoforte. Meanwhile, Prince Eugène conducted another reconnaissance on the Crostolo and towards Guastalla.

On 30 July, Philip's army sojourned at Santa Vittoria waiting for a convoy of bread. The same day, Eugène returned to Borgoforte.

On 31 July, Philip's army received bread and started to pass the Tassone. The same day, Commercy evacuated his positions along the Crostolo and retreated on Borgoforte. The Imperial troops posted at Luzzara joined him in this retreat. Meanwhile, Prince Eugène, Starhemberg and Börner went to Buscoldo and ordered to lift the blockade of Mantua.

The number of desertions in the Imperial army dramatically increased.

In the night of 31 July to 1 August, Prince Eugène abandoned the blockade of Mantua. He sent his baggage forward to Borgoforte. Bridges on the Mincio were demolished. Part of his troops marched to Borgoforte, part to Governolo.

On 1 August, Philip's army passed the Tassone and encamped at Novellara, only 11 km from Guastalla. Only 4 bns were left behind to occupy Reggio and Modena. The same day, the Imperialist force (6,000 foot and the remains of the 4 cavalry rgts defeated at Santa Vittoria) posted near Guastalla retired to Borgoforte, leaving only a garrison of 400 men in Guastalla and a strong garrison in Brescello. The same day at Mantua at 6:00 a.m., the troops of the Prince de Vaudémont encamped at Grazie occupied the Imperialist abandoned outposts at Curtatone, Montanara and along the Fossa-Maestra. Furthermore, Vaudémont sent 4 bns of the garrison of Mantua to take possession of the entrenchments in front of the Pradella Gate and at Cerese. Work immediately started to destroy all these siege works. Furthermore, IV./Liechtenstein Infantry (1 bn and 1 grenadier coy) finally arrived at Ostiglia from the Hereditary Lands.

Order of Battle
Order of battle of the Imperial Army on 2 August 1702

On 2 August, Philip's army marched to Testa on the Canal of Parmegiana where it encamped with its right at Fabbrico and its left at Testa and the canal to its front. Work started immediately to build bridges on the canal. News arrived from Mantua about the lifting of the siege. The same day, Prince Eugène assembled his troops behind the Fossa-Ghirarda where he encamped, his right at Governolo and his left at Borgoforte.

On 3 August, Prince Eugène passed the Po and encamped behind the Zerro, leaving only 12 bns and 2 cavalry rgts near Borgoforte. His camp faced south, disposed in two lines, both wings resting on the Zerro.

On 4 August, the Prince de Vaudémont detached M. de Barbesières wit 4 grenadier coys, 3,000 foot and 400 horse to reconnoitre and attack an Imperialist entrenchment on a dyke between Torre d'Oglio and Borgoforte Scorzarolo. On his approach, the few Imperial hussars posted in this entrenchment retired and Barbesières threw 400 men in it.

On 5 August, Philip V wrote to the Prince de Vaudémont to ask for reinforcements. However, it seems that courier were intercepted and there were some delays. Meanwhile, still ignorant of the king's request, Vaudémont sent 10 bns to the captured entrenchment near Scorzarolo. He also sent M. de Saint-Frémont with 40 sqns to the right of the Fossa Maestra. Saint-Frémont encamped at Scorzarolo, leaving part of his cavalry corps at Buscoldo under Villepéon. Saint-Frémont also reconnoitred in the direction of Borgoforte and spotted a location from where it would be possible to cannonade the Imperialist bridge as well as their magazines on Cialdini an island on the Po.

When the Prince of Vaudémont was informed of Saint-Frémont's finding, he ordered to send heavy guns and mortars.

On 7 August, a courier finally managed to bring a message from King Philip V to Vaudémont, ordering him to immediately send 12 bns and 20 sqns to reinforce the king's army and to prepare to advance on Borgoforte. The same day, an Imperial detachment under Davia (200 horse) appeared behind the Franco-Spanish camp near Fabbrico

On 8 August, the 8 bns and 20 sqns requested by the king marched under M. de Medavi. They passed the Po at Casalmaggiore. Meanwhile, preparing the next march, Vendôme sent 300 men to occupy the Castle of Reggiolo.

On 9 August, Vendôme reconnoitred the Luzzara country where he planned to advance the King's Army. Meanwhile, Vaudémont established batteries to cannonade the Imperialist magazines and bridge on the Po.

On 12 August,Vaudémont's batteries opened on the Imperialist bridge and broke the part linking Cialdini Island to the right bank of the Po. The Imperialists re-established their bridge twice and twice it was broken. They finally decided to remove it.

On 13 August, the reinforcements (8 bns, 20 sqns) sent by Vaudémont finally arrived at the king's camp at Testa. Philip was now at the head of an army of 49 bns and 103 sqns with 30 guns. For its part, Vaudémont's army counted 23 bns and 40 sqns, excluding the garrison of Mantua (14 bns). The same day, Prince Eugène was at the head of an Imperialist army of 38 bns and 80 sqns with 57 guns but disease and desertions had reduced its total strength to some 25,000 men. Eugène was still encamped behind the Zerro with his left anchored on this small canal, his right on the Po and his headquarters near Motteggiana. He had left a corps (10 bns, some cavalry) under the command of Neipperg entrenched under Borgoforte on the left bank of the Po. There were also Imperialist garrison in Brescello, Luzzara, Guastalla, Mirandola and Ostiglia. Eugène instructed Solari to march to Brescello with 2,000 foot and his cavalrymen. Furthermore, Major Hüttendorf from Jung-Daun Infanterie was sent from Guastalla to occupy Luzzara with 400 men. Davia was sent to Guastalla with 300 horse.

By 14 August, Eugène stood ready ready with his army from his camp at Sailetto. His cavalry patrolled along the Tagliata (Cavo Tagliata), on the Lower-Crostolo and in the area of Reggiolo, unsure if the King of Spain would march against the small fortress of Guastalla or against the main army.

On the evening of 14 August, a bread convoy reached Philip's camp at Testa. The king ordered to move the bridge at Casalmaggiore downstream to Luzzara.

On 15 August at 1:00 a.m., the King of Spain marched in two columns from Testa to pass the Parmigiana Canal and the Tagliata, planning to encamp at Luzzara upstream from the mouth of the Crostolo. Meanwhile, the king had ordered Vaudémont to advance on Borgoforte on the left bank of the Po. Philip's cavalry was interspersed with his infantry in these two columns. Once more, Vendôme was preceding the main body with a vanguard of grenadiers and dragoons. The very hard-fought and indecisive Battle of Luzzara left both armies facing each other.

On the night of 15 to 16 August, both armies worked feverishly to entrench themselves on the battlefield. The King of Spain despatched a courier to the Prince de Vaudémont to order him to immediately send a reinforcement of 10 bns.

On 16 August at 6:00 a.m., the Prince de Vaudémont arrived in front of Borgoforte on the left bank of the Po and invested it. Meanwhile on the right bank, both armies were so well entrenched that no commander dared to attack first and the day was spent in cannonades. Prince Eugène had recalled Gschwind Infantry (1 bn), Lothringen Infantry (1 bn) and Nigrelli Infantry (3 grenadier coys and 1 bn) from Borgoforte to reinforce Starhemberg on the left wing. Around 4:00 p.m., the Austrian garrison of the Castle of Luzzara (400 foot, 100 dragoons under Hüttendorf) surrendered as prisoners of war. The castle contained 3,000 bags of grain. The same day, Eugène also sent Adjutant-General Charree, escorted by 10 dragoons, to get some news of Solari's Corps. Charrée returned in the evening, reporting about Solari's action against the French train. Finally, Eugène instructed Neipperg, who was defending Borgoforte, to evacuate sick and wounded and to hold as long as possible.

On 17 August, the King of Spain moved his headquarters to Luzzara.

On 18 August, the King of Spain held a council of war where all agreed that Eugène's positions were too strong to be attacked. It was decided to transfer all of Vaudémont's army to the right bank of the Po where it would undertake to turn the left of Eugène's army. The king instructed Vaudémont to leave only 10 bns and 4 sqns in Mantua under the command of M. de Zurlauben; 4 bns and 6 sqns at Marcaria under M. de Bissy to guard the bridge on the Oglio; and to pass the Po with the rest of his army and 30 guns. In the evening, Vaudémont was preparing to pass the Po when he received new orders instructing him to send 17 bns and 26 sqns under M. de Barbesières to lay siege to Borgoforte and to personally join the army at the camp of Luzzara.

On 20 August, Barbesières marched on Borgoforte.

On 21 August, the Prince de Vaudémont along with M. de Saint-Frémont, most of his staff and 34 guns went to the camp of Luzzara. His artillery was added to 8 guns that the king had deployed on an island from which they could bombard Eugène's camp.

On 22 August, Barbesières arrived in front of Borgoforte and deployed with his right on the Fossa-Maestra and his left on the Po. French troops already occupied entrenchments at Chiaviche, blocking communications between Borgoforte and the Oglio. The same day, the Austrian IV./Rheingraf Infantry (1 bn and 1 grenadier coy), recently arrived at Ostiglia, was instructed to join the army as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, Lieutenant-Colonel Wetzel with 1 bn of Hasslingen Infantry was sent to Ostiglia where he would take the newly arrived IV./Solari Infantry (1 bn and 1 grenadier coy) under his command and then replace the 2 bns of Liechtenstein Infantry previously posted in Ostiglia, Mirandola and Ponte del Molino. For their part, the 2 bns of Liechtenstein Infantry were instructed to rejoin the army.

On 23 August, the 2 bns of Liechtenstein Infantry joined the Imperial army still encamped behind entrenchments near Luzzara with its infantry in the first line and its cavalry in the second with a potence to protect the left flank. Serényi Dragoons covered the artillery park.; the commissariat was at Guisato and the headquarters at Riva. Provisions were purchased in Ostiglia and Borgoforte.

On 24 August, Barbesières opened the trenches at two places in front of Borgoforte. The Imperial garrison under Neipperg could field only 8 bns. The Sachsen-Weimar Infantry (1 bn) and Sachsen-Eisenach Infantry (1 bn) had suffered so heavily from sickness and desertion that their remains were distributed among the Danish bns.

On 26 August, a heavy storm dismantled the bridge linking Borgoforte with the positions of the Imperialist army on the opposite bank.

On 27 August, General-Adjutant Baron Riedt of the Imperial army managed to re-establish their bridge under the fire of the Franco-Spanish artillery.

On 28 August, the King of Spain, under Vendôme's insistence, cancelled the siege of Borgoforte and Barbesières joined the main army with 9 bns and 25 sqns, leaving another 8 bns and 12 sqns on the left bank of the Po under the command of MM. de Zurlauben, de Chartogne and de Bissy. Zurlauben sent 3 bns to Mantua thus bringing its garrison to 13 bns and established his headquarters at Buscoldo. With the arrival of Barbesières, the king's main army now counted 68 bns and 131 sqns. It was resolved to lay siege to Guastalla still occupied by an Imperialist garrison of 2,147 foot and 68 horse (94 men of Nigrelli Infantry, 274 men of Starhemberg Infantry, 78 men of Hasslingen Infantry, 8 men of Gschwind Infantry, 10 men of Liechtenstein Infantry, 109 men of Herberstein Infantry, 67 men of Rheingraf Infantry, 139 men of Reventlau Infantry, 11 men of Bagni Infantry, 110 men of Guttenstein Infantry, 338 men of Solari Infantry, 564 men of Daun Infantry, 7 men of Lothringen Infantry, 7 men of Longueval Infantry, 93 men of Kriechbaum Infantry, 100 men of Gehlen Infantry, 2 cavalry officers and 66 horse from various cavalry rgts, 1 engineer and 16 artillerymen) under Count Solari. General-Adjutant Davia was also there with 300 horse

On 29 August, the Prince de Vaudémont, entrusted with the siege of Guastalla, invested the place with 12 bns, 26 sqns, 12 guns and 6 mortars. To support the siege corps, Vendôme extended the dragoons and cavalry of the right wing up to Guastalla. Each day, the main army would supply 4 grenadier coys and 600 workers for the trenches. Davia had time to escape with his cavalry detachment. By this time, the Imperial garrison of Brescello counted 2,500 men under Lieutenant-Colonel de Wendt of Kriechbaum Infantry.

In the night of 30 to 31 August, Eugène sent 500 mounted infantrymen, covered by 500 horse, by Reggiolo and Santa Vittoria to reinforce Brescello. From this detachment of infantrymen, 130 lost their way and returned to Eugène's camp but the other 370 men managed to reach Brescello. The cavalry covering force then returned to Eugène's camp with the horses previously used by the infantrymen.

At the end of August, Colonel Baron Kriechbaum temporarily replaced GFWM Count Neipperg, who was sick, as commander of the Imperial corps (12 bns, 100 horse) defending in Borgoforte.

On the night of 31 August to 1 September, Vaudémont opened the trenches in front of Guastalla and work started to erect 2 batteries of 8 guns and 2 mortars. Guastalla was protected with walls, earthworks and bastions but its ditch did not constitute a serious obstacle.

On 2 September, Vaudémont's two batteries opened on two bastions of Guastalla and the ramparts and the town were bombarded. Vaudémont placed 1 bn of Beaujolais Infanterie and 2 bns of Vivarais Infanterie between Guastalla and the mouth of the Crostolo; while 1 bn of La Marine Infanterie and 3 sqns of Fimarcon Dragons guarded his headquarters and the rest of his force surrounded the place. M. de Solari, the commander of the place, offered to capitulate with the honours of war but Vaudémont informed him that the garrison (2,500 foot, 70 horse) should surrender as prisoners of war. Solari declined this proposal and siege operations resumed.

From 4 to 9 September, prisoners were exchanged. Eugène received 775 men in this exchange.

On 5 September, the King of Spain accompanied by Vendôme visited the siege works in front of Guastalla. On this day, Vaudémont's trenches reached the ditch near the Capuchin Monastery.

On 7 September, Vaudémont started mining operations at Guastalla and established a new battery of 7 guns.

On 8 September, the new battery opened on Guastalla. The Imperialist artillery replied with a lively fire.

On 9 September at 11:00 a.m., Solari asked to capitulate. He obtained the honours of war for the garrison of Guastalla under the condition that it would retire to Trento and would not serve before 1 April 1703. The reason why Vendôme had changed his mind concerning the capitulation was that Prince Eugène had finally agreed on a cartel to exchange prisoners and the garrison would thus have been freed shortly thereafter.

On 11 September, Solari marched out of Guastalla and passed the Po.

While trenches were filled in front of Guastalla, Vendôme ordered to assemble a large quantity of forage to allow him to maintain his position in the camp of Luzzara. He also ordered to build a bridge near Guastalla and to fortify its bridgehead so that it could defend itself.

On 16 September, the Franco-Spanish corps charged with the siege of Guastalla rejoined the main body at Luzzara.

On 18 September in the evening, the King of Spain detach M. d'Estaing with 4 bns and 11 sqns to occupy Carpi in the Duchy of Modena and to establish ovens there.

On 19 September, Solari reached Bussolengo on his way to Tyrol. The same day, Kriechbaum arrived at Mirandola.

On 21 September, General-Adjutant Davia and Lieutenant-Colonel Count Esterházy left the camp of Prince Eugène at the head of 200 hussars (from Deák Hussars and Ebergényi Hussars) and 30 cuirassiers, marching eastwards and crossing the Secchia. There, they were joined by 20 horse sent from the garrison of Mirandola. The detachment then marched by Enzano, Montecchio and Montechiarugolo, alarming the garrison of Parma; it continued its march, passed the Taro, reached Fiorenzuola, passed the Trebbia and the Tidone, leaving Piacenza to its right. Davia then advanced on Arena with part of the detachment and passed the Po at San Zenone where he scuttled a ship loaded with provisions. Meanwhile, Captain Hohenhausen had been sent to Parpanese with 20 cuirassiers where he captured richly laden ships. Colonel Ebergényi had taken post at San Giovanni as support.

The French Court as well as the Spanish Governor of Milan, the Prince de Vaudémont, wanted to lay siege to Governolo but Vendôme convinced Philip V to postpone the operation and to send 1 dragoon rgt to Marmirolo to cover Mantua country where 200 Imperialist hussars were conducting raids. Meanwhile, the Imperialists were establishing a new bridge on the Po at Ostiglia; and fortifying Mirandola and Borgoforte.

In preparation for the next phase of his offensive, Vendôme sent back the heavy artillery to Cremona. Work also continued on the bridge at Guastalla and the Castle of Luzzara was mined. Prisoners exchanged with the Imperialists rejoined the main army.

When the King of Spain was informed that an Anglo-Dutch amphibious force had undertaken the Siege of Cádiz, he decided to return to Spain.

On 25 September, Colonel Ebergényi passed the Po at Arena.

On 26 September, Solari reached Rovereto in Tyrol. The same day on the Po, the Imperialist detachment who had passed the river passed to the west of Milan by Binasco, Olona and Cantalupo, entering into Milan by the Porta Romana and plundered the city till evening. It then retired by Cassano d'Adda and Calcio.

During the month of September, Holstein-Plön Infantry (3 bns) arrived in Northern Italy to reinforce the Imperial army.

In October, Villeroy, recently exchanged, arrived in Milan from where he immediately left for France.

On October 2, King Philip V left the army at Luzzara, accompanied by the Prince de Vaudémont, and went to Casalmaggiore. The same day, the Imperialist detachment, who had conducted the raid on Milan, was back to Ponte Molino.

On October 4, the Franco-Spanish cavalry, having exhausted forage in the region of Luzzara, started to forage between Casalmaggiore and Ostiano. Vendôme also sent M. de Tessé to Mantua with 400 horse. M. de Zurlauben being sick, Tessé assumed command at Mantua.

On October 6, Philip V arrived in Milan. The same day, Count Tessé entered in Mantua with 400 horse to secure the place.

On 14 October, having heard of Prince Eugène's plan to make a coup-de-main on Mantua the next day, Vendôme instructed Tessé to stand ready to defend the city and marched for Mantua with 40 grenadier coys and 3,000 horse. After passing the Oglio at Torre d'Oglio, he was informed that Prince Eugène had passed the Po at Borgoforte at the head of 2,000 grenadiers, 1,200 horse and a few guns. Vendôme continued his march by Buscoldo, Montanara and Curtatone.

On 15 October at 2:00 a.m., Vendôme arrived at the Chartreuse of Mantua where he received intelligence that Prince Eugène had retired. Vendôme then marched back to his camp. In fact, at the time, Eugène's troops were nearby at the Pradella Gate where they received orders to retire. By 11:00 a.m., Eugène's troops had repassed the Po at Borgoforte. Lothringen Infantry returned to Ostiglia while the 4 bns of Reventlau Infantry and Solari Infantry went to Revere.

Prince Eugène also tried to destroy the French bridge at Guastalla. Three boats loaded with bombs sailed downstream on the Po from Brescello. The first boat caught fire before reaching the bridge, the second sank and the third was taken.

In the night of 18 October, Vendôme tried to capture Prince Eugène at his headquarters. For this purpose, he sent 60 grenadiers in disguise but they panicked before reaching the Imperialist camp and turned back.

On 20 October, Vendôme blasted the Castle of Luzzara and dismantled his bridge sending it upstream to Cremona.

On 24 October, Vendôme sent back most of his artillery, keeping only 30 field pieces.

On 25 October, Lieutenant-Colonel Count Harrach marched from Revere to Governolo with IV./Reventlau Infantry and IV./Solari Infantry. Meanwhile, General Count Guttenstein led a detachment of 250 men from Rheingraf Infantry and Guttenstein Infantry to Governolo.

The Imperialists prepared to retire from Luzzara. Furthermore, Prince Eugène was forced to send back regiments to join the Imperial army being formed to act against the Elector of Bavaria who had declared for France.

On 4 November, Vendôme sent the equipages to Guastalla and the sick and wounded to the left bank of the Po.

Order of Battle
Order of battle of the Franco-Spanish army in Northern Italy at the beginning of November 1702

Order of battle of the Imperialist army in Northern Italy in mid-November 1702

On 5 November at 3:00 a.m., Vendôme's army (52 bns and 90 sqns) decamped and deployed in order of battle. His army remained in these positions till 8:00 a.m. and then marched in three columns to Ranaro where Vendôme established his headquarters with his right at Villanova and his left at Reggiolo. Vendôme had left 41 bns and 38 sqns to guards the various places and sent 3 cavalry rgts to Milan (Spanish units based in Milan had escorted the king to Finale). The same day, Prince Eugène only sent two parties to observe Vendôme's manoeuvres.

On 6 November, Vendôme's army sojourned at Ranaro to wait for the equipages. Vendôme was informed that 200 Imperialist horses had marched to Gonzaga. He advanced in this direction with 8 grenadier coys and 400 horse only to find the post abandoned.

On 7 November, Vendôme marched and encamped with his right at Bondanello and his left at Moglia. Heavy rain made it impossible to throw a bridge on the Secchia and all fords were impassable. The same day, Prince Eugène retired from Luzzara to San Benedetto and detached a corps to Concordia on the right bank of the Secchia.

On 9 November, Vendôme's army passed the Parmigiana Canal on three bridges, marched southwards to Novi to get closer to its bakeries at Carpi.

On the night of 9 to 10 November, Prince Eugène decamped from San Benedetto and marched towards the Secchia, part of his army passing the river and joining the detachment previously sent to Concordia.

On 10 November, Prince Eugène assembled his army at Concordia. He also dismantled his bridge at Borgoforte and established a new one on the Po upstream from the mouth of the Secchia. The same day, estimating that he had reached his goal, Vendôme started to send part of his troops to their winter-quarters: Albergotti (12 bns, 5 sqns) at Modena and Vaubécourt (4 bns, 2 sqns) at Carpi. He also sent his artillery to Modena.

On 11 November, King Philip V arrived at Genoa to embark for Spain. The same day, the Imperial rgts Guido Starhemberg Infantry and Herberstein Infantry took their winter-quarters in Finale while Jung-Daun Infantry took its own in San Felice. Still the same day, Prince Eugène sailed from Finale to Carbonara where he established his new headquarters.

To the west, the front of the Imperialists extended up to the Minicio River, midway from Mantua, down to the Po; then from the mouth of the Secchia River up to Motta in the heights of San Felice. In front of their positions, the Imperialists also held the isolated Fortress of Brescello and the weak post of Borgoforte, from where the bridge was dismantled and removed. Borgoforte was occupied by a small detachment of Lothringen Infantry under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Malvezzi who had been instructed to evacuate the place as soon as the artillery park (21 x 3-pdr regimental guns and 2 x Half Carthaune) would have been transported downstream on the Po. The Imperialists had another advanced post at San Benedetto.

Capture of Borgoforte

On 12 November, the Savoyard contingent left Vendôme army to march back to the Duchy of Savoy. Troops destined to take their winter-quarters at Reggio (2 bns) and Coreggio (2 bns) left the camp too. Vendôme now had only 30 bns and 60 sqns at Novi. The same day, Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers, forming the rearguard of the Imperial army, retired behind the Secchia and dismantled the bridge of boats at San Siro.

On 13 November, Vendôme's army marched westwards from Novi to Fabbrico from where he sent the troops destined to take their winter-quarters on the Crostola and the Enza to blockade Brescello. The same day, M. de Tessé attempted a coup-de-main against Borgoforte with the grenadiers of the garrison of Mantua with 4 guns. He stormed the entrenchments and the Imperialist garrison took refuge in the castle. Meanwhile, the Imperialists managed to move the rest of their artillery to Revere under the escort of Frei-Compagnie de Guethem.

On the morning of 14 November, Vendôme marched with all speed to Guastalla. He then embarked 6 grenadiers coys, 300 foot and 4 heavy guns who moved downstream to Borgoforte escorted by 2 galiots. Shortly after, he sent M. de Medavi with 16 bns and 12 sqns to Marcaria to make a junction with Tessé's detachment. Finally, Vendôme made ready to march on Borgoforte with the rest of his army if necessary. To make a diversion, he ordered M. d'Albergotti to march out of Modena towards the Panaro. The same day, Prince Eugène ordered to Count Trautmannsdorf to keep ready all troops quartered on the left bank of the Po. He also sent to Governolo 2 infantry rgts, 2 cavalry regiments and 500 Danish foot. He then instructed Starhemberg to take command of all these troops, to relieve Borgoforte and to protect the evacuation of the artillery (its evacuation to Revere was still unknown at the headquarters) and, if possible, the evacuation of the garrison.

On the night of 14 to 15 November, Medavi's reinforcement made a junction with Tessé's detachment. The same night, Starhemberg's Corps (some 6,500 men) had almost reached Borgoforte when he was informed of the arrival of Medavi.

On 15 November at 11:00 a.m., the boats transporting the grenadiers landed them on the entrenched Cialdini Island which the Imperialists evacuated. Meanwhile, M. de Langallerie started the attack on the castle. The same day, early in the morning, Starhemberg's relief corps passed the Mincio at Governolo and advanced towards Borgoforte. In the afternoon, two grenadiers managed to enter into Borgoforte to inform Lieutenant-Colonel Malvezzi that a relief force was on its way and that he should prepare to evacuate the post under the cover of this relief force. However, it was already too late to consider evacuation. At 5:00 p.m., the garrison (300 men) surrendered as prisoners of war. Starhemberg then retreated and repassed the Mincio in the evening at Governolo.

After the capture of Borgoforte, Vendôme sent away the troops destined to take their winter-quarters in the Cremona country and on the Adda.

On 16 November, King Philip V embarked at Finale for Spain, on board the galley squadron of the Marquis de Folleville.

On 17 November, Vendôme visited Borgoforte and decided to put a garrison of 1,000 men in the place. This garrison would come from the garrison of Mantua and would be relieved every 15 days. Vendôme then went to Mantua to discuss with M. de Tessé of a plan to capture Governolo.

On 20 November, Vendôme reconnoitred Governolo and noticed a dyke on the right bank of the Mincio overlooking the fortifications of Governolo. He instructed M. de Tessé to prepare artillery for the siege.

On 21 November, Vendôme returned to Guastalla.

Siege of Governolo

On 26 November, having been informed that the Imperialists had a large grain magazine at the San Benedetto Abbey guarded by only 50 men (Frei-Compagnie de Guethem), Vendôme detached M. de Barbesières (700 foot, 150 horse) to destroy the magazine.

On 27 November at daybreak, Barbesières arrived at San Benedetto and attacked the abbey. The small garrison resisted but soon the French grenadiers forced a door and entered. They killed or captured the entire garrison and set the magazine afire, burning some 15,000 bags of grain. The abbot, to avoid destruction of the whole abbey, promised to deliver 5,000 bags at Mantua, Modena and Guastalla. He also gave hostages.

Vendôme then fixed the expedition against Governolo to mid-December.

On 5 December, Vendôme personally went from Guastalla to Reggio.

On 7 December, Vendôme reached Modena. He then visited the outposts between the Secchia and the Panaro.

On 10 December, Prince Eugène's Army crossed the Secchia and marched to Concordia, closely followed by the French on the opposite bank.

On 12 December, Vendôme returned to Guastalla. Heavy rains had swollen the Po and the Imperialist bridges were broken.

On 14 December, Vendôme personally went to Mantua.

On 15 December, the Franco-Spanish troops (6,000 foot, 800 horse, 10 heavy pieces) who had been ordered to assembled at Mantua were at the rendez-vous, but Vendôme still had to wait for the oxen who would drag the guns were still on the way.

On 16 December, the oxen finally arrived at Mantua.

On the night of 16 to 17 December, M. de Mongon with 20 grenadier coys and 600 horse invested the Castle of Governolo located on the right bank of the Mincio, opposite the town.

On 17 December, Vendôme marched with the rest of the corps assembled at Mantua and deployed with his right behind the dyke on the Lower Mincio, his centre in front of the Castle of Governolo and his left upstream. Bridges were thrown on the Fossa di Pietolo to establish communications between the two wings of the corps. The same day, informed that Vendôme had laid siege to Governolo, FML Fürst Liechtenstein ordered all Imperialist troops quartered on the left bank of the Po to assemble near Governolo. Meanwhile, several rgts cantoned on the right bank of the Po (Gschwind Infantry, Lothringen Infantry, all 7 Danish bns, Lothringen Cuirassiers and Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers) were ordered to march towards Governolo.

On the night of 17 to 18 December, Vendôme opened the trenches in front of Governolo and ordered to establish batteries.

On 18 December, Vendôme's artillery arrived at Governolo. The same day at dawn, Prince Eugène personally went to the vicinities of Governolo where he arrived at 2:00 p.m. French detachments patrolling the Lower Mincio spotted Eugène's relief corps on the opposite bank and contained it. Meanwhile, on the Secchia, Albergotti made a diversion with the garrison of Modena

On 19 December, Vendôme's first battery (7 heavy pieces) opened on the bridge and the town of Governolo.

On 20 December, the French bombardment broke the bridge on the Mincio.

On the night of 20 to 21 December, a trench was made across the dyke.

On 21 December, Vendôme threw a bridge of fascines on the Fossa di Pietolo to attack the houses neighbouring the castle.

On 22 December, Vendôme launched 4 grenadier coys against theses houses which were successfully stormed. The grenadiers lost 30 men dead or wounded.

On the night of 22 to 23 December, the Imperialist garrison evacuated the castle and retired to entrenched houses on the left bank of the Mincio. However, Vendôme's artillery soon chased them from these strongholds. Gradually, Eugène withdrew his troops from the outposts at Sacchetta, Carzedole (unidentified location), San Gio (unidentified location), etc. He kept only one post at Serravalle between the Mincio and Ostiglia. Vendôme was now master of Governolo. He ordered to strengthen the entrenchments left behind by the Imperialists, the repair the bridge and to erect a redoubt at the mouth of the Mincio. Another redoubt, located at ford between Governolo and Virgiliana was also repaired. Finally the Castle of Carzedole was occupied and repaired.

On 24 December, Vendôme personally left for Mantua, leaving the siege corps at Governolo to complete work.

On 27 December, Prince Eugène, confiding interim command of the Army of Italy to FZM Count Starhemberg, left for Vienna where he had been recalled.

On 29 December, Vendôme sent Lieutenant-General Medavi to Desenzano with 2,000 men. He seized all ships in the harbour and manned them with 1,400 men.

On the night of December 30, the boats captured by Medavi in the harbour of Desenzano sailed on Lake Garda towards Riva and Torbole, hoping to capture the places. However, shipwright Nicolo Cornera managed to escape from his boat which was part of the flotilla sailing towards Riva and to warn the defenders of its approach. When Medavi,s flotilla approached, the defenders fired a volley. Realizing that he could not surprise the place, Medavi sailed back to Desenzano. For his conduct, Corlera was ennobled and received a distinctive shipping privilege on Lake Garda.

On 1 January 1703, the siege corps marched from Governolo, leaving only 4 bns to garrison Governolo while 2 other bns were sent to Borgoforte.

Outcome

Throughout the campaign, Marshal Vendôme had enjoyed a vast numerical superiority over his adversary, Prince Eugène de Savoie. He had seized this opportunity to relieve Mantua and to drive the Imperialists out of the duchy.

References

This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Pelet and François Eugène de Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 2 pp. 131-280, 655, 748
  • Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vienna 1877-1878
    • Vol. 4, pp. 42-50, 55, 67-412
    • Vol. 5, p. 144
  • Dedekind, F.: Geschichte des k. k. Kaiser Franz Joseph I. Dragoner-Regimentes Nr. 11, Vienna 1879
  • Arneth, Alfred Ritter von: Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, Vol. 1, Vienna, 1864, p. 156
  • Wengen. F.: Geschichte des k. u. k. 12. Dragoner-Regiments Prinz Eugen v. Savoyen, Brandeis, 1879
  • Spanish Succession, War of the, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (c1910-1922), Vol. 25, p. 600