1704 – Campaign in Piedmont
The campaign lasted from May to December 1704
In the last months of 1703, Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy had openly abandoned his alliance with France and Spain and joined the Allies. A Franco-Spanish army under the command of the Duc de Vendôme then invaded Piedmont while the duke's brother, the “Grand-Prieur de Vendôme” assumed command of the army left behind in Lombardy. At the end of December, an Imperialist corps under the command of FZM Guido Starhemberg had managed to march from Lombardy and to effect a junction with the Savoyard Army in Piedmont. Both armies had then continued operation till late January 1704 before taking their winter-quarters. The Allies took up their winter-quarters on the left bank of the Po River. Meanwhile, another French army had been assembling in Dauphiné and in Provence to invade Savoy proper.
For the coming campaign, Louis XIV decided to confide command of his Army of Dauphiné to the Maréchal de Tessé seconded by the Duc de la Feuillade; of his Army of Lombardy to the Grand-Prieur de Vendôme; and of his Army of Piedmont to the Duc de Vendôme.
On 2 February 1704
- The Emperor promoted Starhemberg to field marshal.
On 10 February, the emperor announced to Starhemberg that the Duke of Savoy would assume global command in Italy: Starhemberg in Piedmont and Trautmannsdorf in Lombardy would be subordinated to him. Despite the arrival of the Imperial corps, which had reinforced his army at the end of 1703, the Duke of Savoy was not strong enough to openly oppose Vendôme’s initiatives in Piedmont. Similarly Trautmannsdorf’s Army in Lombardy was to weak to launch offensive operations.
On 17 February, the Grand-Prieur de Vendôme went to Modena. Meanwhile, Tessé set off from Milan to go to Grenoble where he would join M. de la Feuillade. Finally, the Maréchal de Montrevel continued to assume command of the troops fighting the Camisards in the Cévennes.
The campaign of 1704 in Northern Italy will be covered in three distinct articles;
- the article 1704 – Campaign in Dauphiné, Provence and Savoy
- the present article, describing the operations in Piedmont
- the article 1704 – Campaign in Lombardy
As soon as he had established his winter-quarters, the Duc de Vendôme started his preparations for the siege of Turin. He established depots at Alessandria, Casale and Pavia. He also entrenched his lines of defence. The king had promised him 15,000 armed and equipped recruits. These recruits were sent to Provence where they would embark and sail to Genoa.
The army of the Duke of Savoy could field only 15 bns and 14 sqns of experienced troops; 15 newly raised bns and 6,000 militiamen; while Starhemberg's Imperial Corps counted some 15,000 men. The main body of these combined armies was deployed on the left bank of the Po, between the Sesia and the Dora Baltea and occupied Vercelli, Trino, Verrua and Ivrea. The rest of this army extended behind the Po up to Coni and in the County of Nice which was still hold by the Duke of Savoy.
The Franco-Spanish army had its right at the gates of Verrua and occupied, on the right bank of the Po, the region of Monferrato, Casale, Asti, Acqui , Alessandria and Tortona form where it communicated with the coast of Genoa. On the left bank of the Po, it had quarters along the Sesia and Agogna, in the Lumeline and the region of Novara. The Duchy of Milan was occupied by a few Spanish units.
On 20 January, the Duc de Vendôme wrote a report to the king to explain that the junction of an Imperial corps with the Savoyard Army should not bring changes to his initial plan, nor eliminate the project of laying siege to Turin which for him was the only way to rapidly put an end to the war in Italy. He even exposed that all other sieges, for example at Vercelli or Verrua, would not lead to any decisive outcome. He also mentioned that, if the king was unwilling to lay siege to Turin, it would be better to remain on the defensive in Piedmont and to transfer troops to Lombardy to attack Revere and Ostiglia.
Seeing that, despite his report, Louis XIV was not convinced of the feasibility of the siege of Turin, Vendôme asked for the Maréchal de Tessé to effect a junction with his own army. Tessé would then besiege Susa while Vendôme would lay siege to Vercelli. Vendôme also decoded to build a defensive line along the Sesia and the Agogna to allow him to transfer troops to Lombardy.
On 7 February, Louis XIV sent a letter to the Duc de Vendôme to inform him that he judged the siege of Turin too risky and an offensive against Revere and Ostiglia too cumbersome and indecisive. He mentioned that 12,000 recruits were on their way to reinforce Vendôme and that they should arrive by Genoa towards the end of April. The king's primary objective in Piedmont was to cut the lines of communication of the Duke of Savoy with the see and thus deprive him of any reinforcement that the Allies could send. With this objective in mind, Louis XIV wanted to conquer the County of Nice. He also instructed Vendôme to capture Vercelli and Ivrea.
On February ?, the Duke of Savoy sent the main body of the Savoyard army to occupy Vercelli. Part of the army also crossed the Sesia and captured the town of Rosasco on its left bank.
In mid-February, a party of 500 Spanish horse attacked the Vaubonne Dragoons, which were posted at Caresana. A sqn of Savoyen Dragoon came to the rescue and drove back the Spaniards, who retired behind the Sesia.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the Franco-Spanish Army on the Sesia and Agogna in mid-February|
On 18 February, 4,000 pioneers began work on Vendôme's defensive line along the Sesia. They were protected by 12 bns and 24 sqns. They fortified fortify the towns of Candia (Candia Lomellina), Cozzo, Bordignana, Marza, Sant'Alessandro, Castello d’Agnona, Monticello, Camiano (probably Cameriano) and Cesto. The first segment was located near the Po, from Sartinara up to Nicorvo on the Agogna.
On 26 February, the Duc de Vendôme detached 20 grenadiers coys from his Army of Piedmont to reinforce the Grand Prieur in Lombardy. They embarked at Breme and Pavia and sailed on the Po to San Benedetto with the design of capturing Revere.
By 27 February, the first segment of the Lines of the Sesia was ready.
At about this time, General Vaubonne passed the Sesia at Villanova Monferrato with an Imperial detachment of 1,000 horse, sending parties towards Mortara. D'Estaing assembled troops to confront him and Vaubonne retired. Another Imperial detachment passed the Sesia at Recetto and made raids on Castellazzo and San Bernardino, taking a few hostages. A Franco-Spanish detachment (200 men and a few Spanish horse) was sent from Mortara and forced the Imperialists to retire. On the Po, an Imperial detachment (400 men with 4 guns) tried to destroy mills near Casale but was repulsed by a detachment sent from the Castle of Coniolo. Finally, 3 Savoyard bns passed the Po on the bridge of Verrua and advanced towards Cocconato, they were followed by an Imperial detachment (400 foot, 300 horse) who passed the Po at a ford between Pontestura and Camino. However, they only distributed requests for contributions. M. Destouches with 1 bn marched against them from his quarters at Odalengo and forced them to retire.
M. d'Estaing redeployed his corps along the Agogna from Nicorvo to Romagnano. Vendôme also ordered d'Estaing to make himself master of the castles of Robbio and Rosasco, occupied by the Allies.
On 10 March, taking advantage from the fact that the Sesia was too high to be passed and that the small garrisons of these castles were isolated, d'Estaing went from Novara to Ceretto where he assembled 900 foot and 200 horse.
On 11 March, d'Estaing attacked and captured the castles of Robbio and Rosasco, taking 63 foot and 40 dragoons prisoners. He then let 1 bn at Robbio and 2 bns at Rosasco and returned to Novara. The left bank of the Sesia River was now entirely under Vendôme’s control.
On 18 March, a first convoy of recruits destined to the army of the Duc de Vendôme arrived at Genoa.
By the end of March, the lines of the Sesia and Agogna were completed.
The Duc de Vendôme established fodder magazine in Casale, accumulated supplies for his artillery and ammunition for his soldiers at Casale, Pavia and Alessandria. With the new recruits, his units were almost entirely rebuilt and ready for the campaign.
On 12 April, Louis XIV accepted that the Duc de Vendôme started the campaign with the siege of Verrua, considering that would be a good diversion while another French army would conquer the County of Nice. The king also accepted that the Grand Prieur de Vendôme launched an attack against Revere in Lombardy.
In preparation for the coming campaign, the Duke of Savoy recruited Swiss and Waldensians for his regiments.
For the coming campaign, the Duc de Vendôme assembled a field army of 54 French bns, 73 French sqns, 7 out of the 16 Spanish bns and 15 out of the 23 Spanish sqns. He had also 36 field pieces and the Prince de Vaudémont supplied 10 additional field pieces and 62 siege pieces.
The Duc de Vendôme and the Prince de Vaudémont met in Milan to finalize plans for the incoming campaign. Vaudémont was still at the head of 9 bns and 8 sqns to guard the places of the Duchy of Milan. Finally, Vaudémont supplied 10 additional field pieces to the army operating in Lombardy under the command of the Grand Prieur de Vendôme.
The unexpected offensive of the Duke of Savoy in Savoy had no influence on Vendôme's plans.
On 26 April, informed of movements in the French quarters, the Duke of Savoy and Field Marshal Starhemberg went from Turin to Verrua to inspect the fortifications. They were also informed that the French were assembling bridging material at Casale and that Spanish troops were concentrating between Vercelli and Novara.
On 27 April, the Duke of Savoy assembled all his generals at Trino to prepare for the opening of the campaign. It was decided to assemble the field army near Villanova (more precisely Villanova Monferrato) where a camp would be established.
On 28 April, the Duc de Vendôme received intelligence that an Allied corps was encamped under the walls of Crescentino and another near Trino; and that the Duke of Savoy had recalled troops from the County of Nice and was now at Trino.
Opening of the campaign
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the Allied Army in Piedmont at the end of April|
On 30 April, all French troops came out of their winter-quarters and marched towards Casale, where they should be assembled by 5 May. The Spanish corps under General de las Torres replaced d’Estaing’s Corps on the Sesia River.
On 3 May, Vendôme advanced with 20 bns and 12 sqns to destroy the entrenchments near Carbignano. However, he abandoned his design when he was informed that these entrenchments were defended by 6 Savoyard bns and 2 dragoon rgts. He returned to Casale.
On 4 May, the Allies started to move towards Villanova, and the Duke of Savoy established his headquarters at Rive. Starhemberg’s Corps took position between Villanova and Balzola. The Duke of Savoy had left a Savoyard force of 6 bns and 2 dragoon rgts under FZM des Hayes in the entrenchments near Verrua. The Deák Hussars were sent to Motta dé Conti to observe movements in the vicinity of the Sesia River.
On 5 May
- Vendôme's Army (42 bns, 66 sqns) was assembled at Casale. In addition, M. d'Albergotti was at the head of corps (6 bns, 7 sqns) posted between Moncestino and Villadeati in the region of Monferrato to cover the right bank of the Po; another 6 bns garrisoned Casale, Asti and Acqui; and 6 Spanish bns and 15 Spanish sqns were posted in the lines of the Sesia under the command of M. de Las Torres.
- 600 Imperial soldiers and 45 Savoyard officers were exchanged.
On 6 May
- One hour before daybreak, Vendôme's Army began to cross the Po on the three bridges which had been thrown across the river. In less than three hours, the army was deployed in order of battle in front of the entrenchments protecting the bridges.
- Vendôme's Army then advanced towards the Stura and encamped with its right at Villanova and its left at Balzola, its front covered by the Stura on which bridges were thrown.
- One hour after daybreak, the Duke of Savoy retired to Trino, where he encamped and immediately started to build entrenchments between Trino and the Po River.
- The Duke of Savoy held a council of war where it was decided to retire to Crescentino to maintain communication with Verrua and to send a small force to defend Vercelli.
- FZM des Hayes was appointed governor of Vercelli
On the night of 6 to 7 May, the Duke of Savoy sent des Hayes to Vercelli with 7 Savoyard bns, Harrach Infantry, 200 picked horse and 100 hussars. The Allies also sent their baggage forward from Trino to Crescentino.
On 7 May
- The Allied army retired from Trino and marched in two columns. The right column consisted of infantry with the Savoyen Dragoons as rearguard, it marched by way of Ramezzana. The left wing consisted of the cavalry with the camp guard, under Major-General Vaubonne, acting as rearguard. It marched by way of Lucedio.
- In the morning, Vendôme's Army crossed the Stura River in three columns and marched on Trino.
- Vendôme detached the Brigadier de la Bretonnière with 500 horse to follow the Allies.
- Combat of Trino
- De la Bretonnière’s vanguard caught up with the Allied flank guards, which were retreating from Torrione to Trino, and harassed them.
- Major-General Vaubonne, who had not yet retired with his rearguard (20 grenadier coys, 1,500 horse), advanced against the enemy with 2 sqns. The French cavalry gave way and Vaubonne covered the retreat towards Trino until Vendôme arrived with his entire cavalry to support his vanguard. In face of such a superior force, the detachment of Vaubonne Dragoons broke and fled, closely followed by the French.
- The Duke of Savoy, who had remained in Trino after the departure of the main body, tried to rally the Vaubonne Dragoons and sent orders to the rearguard of the right wing to advance against the enemy.
- The Savoyen Dragoons threw themselves against the pursuing French, while Field Marshal Starhemberg occupied the village of Ramezzana with the grenadiers of Kriechbaum Infantry and Schulembourg Infantry.
- The Savoyen Dragoons, although not supported by the Vaubonne Dragoons, managed to momentarily contain the French cavalry and then retired towards Ramezzana. The Allied grenadiers received the pursuing French cavalry with a volley. Then 2 sqns of the Savoyen Dragoons drove them back.
- The combat continued until the French came to contact with the right wing of the Allies near Palazzolo and Vendôme ceased pursuit. The Allies then resumed their retreat towards Palazzolo unhindered.
- In these engagements, General Vaubonne had been taken prisoner along with 1 officer and 25 troopers of his own regiment. The Allies also lost 1 captain and 20 troopers killed, and 1 captain and several troopers wounded, and 2 standards. For his part, Vendôme lost 4 officers and 50 men killed or wounded.
- Vendôme's Army encamped near Trino and 400 men were thrown into the town.
On 8 May
- Vendôme's Army marched to Santa-Maria, less than 2 km from Crescentino, encamping with its right at San Silvestro, its left on the Po at the height of Moncestino and its front covered by a small canal linking Trino to the Dora Baltea.
- Lieutenant-General d'Albergotti was posted near Moncestino on the right bank of the Po, opposite Vendôme’s camp, with 6 bns and 7 sqns.
- Vendôme personally reconnoitred the neighbouring of Gabiano on the right bank of the Po and the Allied positions.
- The Allied army encamped with its right wing behind Crescentino, its left near Saluggia on the Dora Baltea and the Po River to its rear.
On 9 May
- The Allies began to entrench their camp. Crescentino and its flooding constituted the stronghold of these positions. A wall, extending from Crescentino westwards on 3 km up to the town of Galli at the mouth of the Acquachiara, covered the front of the camp. South of Crescentino, a covert way linked the town with the bridge across the Po. The bridge itself was protected by a bridgehead (a second bridge would be built later) and led to an island on the Po River, where a redoubt was erected. The camp heavily depended on the Fortress of Verrua to complete its defences. A redoubt at Valis (unidentified location) covered the line of communication between Verrua and the camp of Crescentino. Strong entrenchments at Carbignano blocked access to the ridge on which Verrua was located.
- The priority of the Allies was now to secure the vicinity of Crescentino for forage and provisions. However, the French were roaming this area for the same purpose.
- To observe the Allies more closely, Vendôme went to the Castle of Moncestino. He considered their camp inaccessible, due mainly to the swamp along the Roggia della Camera Canal. He finally decided to postpone his attack until Lieutenant-General de La Feuillade would initiate his operations.
The Duc de la Feuillade then informed the Duc de Vendôme that it was impossible for him to launch a diversion against Susa before the beginning of June.
On 11 May
- Vendôme's Army marched from Santa Maria to Fontanetto where it encamped with its left anchored on Fontanetto and its right extending towards the woods of Lucedio.
- Vendôme then reconnoitred the country, intending to attack the left of the Allies near Saluggia. However, he realized that this wing was protected by a large marsh. Vendôme then abandoned this design and concentrated on the preparations for the siege of Verrua.
- Major-General Prince Josef von Lothringen was detached by way of Livorno (more precisely Livorno Ferraris) towards Molina di Boscherino (unidentified location), with 1,000 horse, the Deák Hussars and the Ebergényi Hussars to protect the region from the depredations of the French and to cover the line of communication with Vercelli.
On 12 May
- Vendôme readjusted his positions: his right remained at Fontanetto while his left was moved to the banks of the Po River, opposite Gabiano. He also threw two boat-bridges on the Po south of Trino, and a strong bridgehead which could contain 6 bns was erected.
- After reconnoitring the fortifications of Verrua, Vendôme ordered to send the siege park to Pontestura, on the right bank of the Po.
During the construction of the entrenchments protecting the bridgehead, Vendôme reconnoitred Verrua and the entrenchments that the Allies were erecting at Carbignano to cover Verrua. He then ordered to send the artillery upstream from Casale to Pontestura and then to transport it to Albergotti's camp at Villadeati. He also ordered to work at a new entrenched camp for 6 bns between Trino and the Po.
On 14 May
- A detachment of Lothringen’s Corps under Colonel Ebergényi and Colonel Pfefferkorn crossed the Sesia near Vercelli and plundered the village of Rivoltella. However, M. de Las Torres sent grenadiers and cavalry to the relief of the village, and the Allied detachment was forced to retire before superior forces.
By 15 May
- Vendôme's bridges on the Po were completed while the entrenchments between Trino and the Po were well underway.
- As he was retiring towards the Sesia River, Colonel Ebergényi engaged a cavalry detachment, driving it back towards Palazzolo (more probably Palestro). He then recrossed the Sesia.
By 22 May
- Vendôme's siege park reached Pontestura. However, persistent downpours and the melting of snow in the mountains had caused the Po River to flood, delaying his advance upon Verrua.
- Picked troops from Regal Infantry under Colonel Max Count Starhemberg occupied the “Fort Royal” crowning the height of Carbignano to the northwest of the Fortress of Verrua.
On 24 May, heavy rains flooded the Po and a ship-mill, located upstream from Verrua, was carried away. It broke the bridge of the Allies but also broke Vendôme's bridges. The remnants of the bridges were intercepted at Pontestura and brought back upstream to rebuild them.
Siege of Vercelli
On 25 May
- While Vendôme's troops were working to re-establish the boat-bridges, he received a letter from the king, disapproving his project against Verrua. Louis XIV ordered to Vendôme to concentrate his attention on the blockade of the Allied army entrenched at Crescentino and to let M. de Las Torres, with some reinforcements, lay siege to Vercelli. According to these orders, Vendôme countermanded the artillery. He also decided to place his army with its right at Montonero, near the canal leading from Ivrea to Vercelli; and its left at Trino. He also intended to send 12 bns and 15 sqns to M. de las Torres to reinforce his Spanish troops for the siege of Vercelli, keeping only 30 bns and 40 sqns to cover the siege. Finally, Albergotti's Corps (6 bns, 7 sqns) would remain in his positions between Montalero and Gabiano, and 5 dragoon rgts would occupied the entrenched camp between Trino and the Po. To hide his design, he also ordered to reconstruct a bridge at Trino.
The Duke of Savoy managed to introduce 1 Savoyard bn into the Fortress of Vercelli.
On 29 May
- Vendôme sent 4 bns as reinforcements to M. d'Albergotti, who was encamped at Montalero between Moncestino and Villadeati. He also ordered Albergotti to build entrenchments between Villadeati and Gabiano.
- In Savoy, the Duc de la Feuillade arrived in front of Susa.
On 30 May
- Vendôme's Army marched from Fontanetto to Desana, 7 km to the south-west of Vercelli. However, the Sesia was not navigable and artillery had to be transported by land, thus causing delays.
- Vendôme entrenched the village of Tricerro to protect his line of communication with Trino. The village was occupied by 2 dragoon rgts. Entrenchments were also built at Desana for a corps of 5 bns and 9 sqns under the command of M. de Langallerie.
- The Duke of Savoy was informed of the advance of the army of Lieutenant-General de La Feuillade on Susa. Colonel Martigny was sent with 1 bn of Monferrato Infantry, 1 bn of Schulembourg Infantry and 1,000 picked horse to reinforce this fortified place.
On 1 June in Savoy, the city of Susa surrendered to the Duc de la Feuillade and the Allies retired in the citadel.
By 4 June
- The French entrenchments at Tricerro and Desana were ready.
- The Duke of Savoy ordered Major-General Lothringen was ordered to advance to Santhià with his detachment and to harass the siege corps along the Canal of Ivrea. The duke also sent large detachments from Crescentino for the same purpose.
On 5 June
- At daybreak, Vendôme's Army marched from Desana to Vercelli. At 7:00 a.m., it started to encamp in front of Vercelli with the right of its first line anchored on the canal of Ivrea at San Benedetto (unidentified location); and its left at the Castle of Larizzate, where the headquarters were established. The second line, facing Vercelli, had its left at Larizzate and its right on the Lower-Sesia, near the bridge which had been built there.
- Meanwhile, the corps under the command of M. de Las Torres passed the Upper-Sesia on a bridge recently thrown across the river. De la Torres placed his right at Caresana and his left at San Benedetto.
- Altogether, the Franco-Spanish army destined for the siege of Vercelli counted 39 bns and 58 sqns.
- M. d'Albergotti remained in the Province of Monferrato with 10 bns and 7 sqns, occupying the castles of Moncestino, Gabiano, and Camino, and the towns of Villadeati and Odalengo.
- To maintain communication with Albergotti, 9 sqns were posted in the entrenchments of Trino; 6 sqns in the entrenchments of Tricerro; and 5 bns and 9 sqns at Desana.
- The town of Vercelli was defended by FZM Des Hayes assisted by Lieutenant-General Count de Prèla. They were at the head of 13 bns (I./Guardie, I./Guardie, 2 bns of Savoia Infantry, 1 bn of d'Este Milizia, 1 bn of San Damiano Milizia, 1 bn of Trivier Milizia, 1 bn of Du Villar Milizia, 1 bn of Fridt Infantry, 1 bn of La Regina Infantry, 1 bn of Nizza Provincial Militia and 2 bns of the Austrian Harrach Infantry) and about 600 dragoons (1 sqns of the Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale, 2 sqns of the Dragoni di Genevois and 1 sqn of the Dragoni di Piemonte).
- The Fortress of Vercelli counted 14 bastions connected by courtines. The outer works consisted of 14 ravelins and the covert way was protected by palisades. The northwest front could be flooded with water brought from the Ivrea Canal. The small castle was located on the northeast front. A temporary bridge had been thrown over the Sesia River. On the south front, trees, bushes and gardens allowed to approach within 180 paces of the covert way.. On the north, extended numerous sand hills and depressions. The place was well supplied with ammunition and provisions and could sustain a long siege.
Albergotti started to work at a line of entrenchments between the Castle of Gabiano and Odalengo, where he could assemble his entire corps.
On 7 June
- Lieutenant-Colonel Pfefferkorn with 190 horse attacked a Spanish foraging party near Collobiano and Quinto, capturing 3 officers and 64 men.
On 9 June
- Imperial hussars crossed the Sesia River and advanced up to Milan, bringing back 5 prisoners and 13 horses.
On 10 June
- Vendôme wanted to open the trenches in front of Vercelli but his artillery had been delayed, the Po and the Sesia not being navigable.
- Using the waters of the Canal of Ivrea, the governor of Vercelli flooded the right and left of the Turin Gate. Vendôme put men to work to divert the canal in the Elvo stream.
- Major-General Lothringen sent Colonel Ebergényi with 120 hussars towards Vercelli. They captured 14 horses.
On the night of 11 to 12 June in Savoy, the Citadel of Susa surrendered to the Duc de la Feuillade.
On the night of 14 to 15 June
- Vendôme opened the trench before Vercelli. The main attack would be conducted from the south against the Santa Clara Bastion and the Sant Sebastian Bastion, between the monasteries of the Capuchins and Récollets by French troops. The first parallel (about 1 km long) was established by 1,000 workers at 185 m. of the palisade of the covert way.
- Meanwhile, the Spaniards led a diversionary attack on the left wing, near the San Benedetto Abbey.
On 15 June at daybreak, the garrison of Vercelli opened a lively fire against the newly established parallel. It would maintain this fire until 19 June.
On 19 June, Vendôme having received his artillery, was finally able to establish batteries with 40 guns and 16 mortars, which soon silenced the artillery of Vercelli.
On June 26, when the Duke of Savoy learned that the Marquis de La Feuillade had penetrated into the Chisone Valley, he ordered Colonel Martigny to march from Avigliana to Pinorelo with 800 horse to put a stop to the advance of the French.
On the night of 27 to 28 June, a second parallel and a breaching battery were established at the foot of the glacis of Vercelli.
When the Duc de Vendôme heard of the success of his brother, the Grand Prieur de Vendôme, in Lombardy; he asked to Louis XIV to redirect part of the Army of Lombardy to reinforce his own army. He also asked for reinforcements from Languedoc.
On 29 June, Major-General Lothringen with 500 horse advanced on Casanova.
On 30 June
- a breaching battery (15 guns) established in the second parallel at the foot of the glacis opened against the walls of Vercelli.
- Engagement near Casanova
- The French foraged near Casanova. The grenadiers and cavalry, which protected the forage were hidden, so that Lothringen’s detachment did not notice them when it advanced against the foragers.
- Part of the French grenadiers were advancing to seize a bridge in the rear of the Allies, when they bumped into Lothringen’s detachment, which captured part of them and cut down the rest.
- The Ebergényi Hussars wanted to advance against the rest of the covering forces but were recalled by Major-General Lothringen, who had been informed by a resident of the strength of the French party. His own detachment managed to escape and recross the bridge.
- In this affair, the French lost 2 officers and 30 soldiers killed or wounded, and 1 officer taken prisoner.
On 1 July
- The French destroyed a mine directed against their main attack, and established a lodgment within 10 m of the palisades of Vercelli.
- The Duke of Savoy and the Count von Starhemberg encamped at Lucedio Abbey with most of their cavalry, their grenadiers, a few detachments of infantry and a few guns.
On 5 July, the Duke of Savoy decided to make an attempt in the direction of Desana. Major-General Lothringen was ordered to stand ready on the next morning with all his cavalry in Lucedio.
Illness had spread to a large part of the garrison of Vercelli, including Governor des Hayes. Lieutenant-General de Prèla, who commanded the defenders, could count on only 1,000 men fit for duty. Vendôme hoped that the Allies would try to relieve the place so that he could engaged them in an open battle.
In the night of 5 to 6 July
- Vendôme established lodgments in two angles of the covert way. After exploding a few mines, the French established breaching batteries near the palisades.
- Major-General Count Fels set off from the camp of Crescentino with 500 horse to observe the enemy in the area of Trino and Tricerro. Around midnight, the duke and FM Starhemberg followed with the rest of the cavalry, a few grenadier coys and 2 field pieces.
On 6 July
- In the morning, as instructed, Major-General Lothringen had assembled his detachment in Lucedio. His grenadiers occupied the village and his cavalry encamped nearby.
- The duke wanted to recall Count Fels, who would have to retreat through many defiles. Accordingly, the duke sent the Savoyen Dragoons, the Vaubonne Dragoons, the Deák Hussars and the Ebergényi Hussars to cover his retreat.
- In the evening, Major-General Fels returned, reporting that he had spotted a small enemy cavalry detachment in Tricerro but that he had not encountered any enemy in the area of Balzola and Villanova (Villanova Monferrato). The duke sent two other reconnaissance parties on the road between Vercelli and Trino.
- Vendôme detached some cavalry to observe the Allied corps and sent a few additional guns to Tricerro.
On 7 July
- The two reconnaissance parties sent towards Vercelli reported that they had not spotted any enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Count Brenner and Lieutenant-Colonel Count Pistorius were then sent forward with 300 horse, and Colonel Ebergényi with his own hussars and Deák Hussars to locate and engage enemy detachments. Brenner advanced by way of Stroppiana up to Prarolo; Pistorius marched by way of Villanova on Casale. Both attacked isolated French detachments and brought back 50 horses and mules.
On 8 July
- A cavalry detachment of 400 horse with 3 grenadier coys and 2 artillery pieces took position near Tricerro to secure the retreat of Brenner’s and Pistorius’ detachments. This detachment took 1 officer and 42 men, who were occupying a chapel near Tricerro, prisoners.
- In the evening all reconnaissance parties assembled near Lucedio.
- Vendôme assembled Langallerie’s Corps (15 bns and 20 sqns) from the camps of Tricerro, Desana and Vercelli but arrived too late, the Allies having precipitously retired. Before returning to Vercelli, Vendôme ordered to build entrenchments around the chapel.
On 9 July
- Strong French detachments took position near Trino. Vendôme also sent a few sqns to reconnoitre the Allied positions.
- Langallerie’s Corps repaired the defence of the chapel near Tricerro.
On 13 July
- Important breaches were made in a redoubt of Vercelli.
- The Duke of Savoy decamped from Lucedio and marched to Carpeneto, sending a cavalry corps to Livorno.
On 14 July, Vendôme established a second breaching battery of 22 pieces in front of Vercelli.
On 15 July
- Vendôme returned to Vercelli with his troops.
- The troops posted near Carpeneto encamped near Isana (present-day Chiesetta Santa Maria di Isana).
On 16 July, Vendôme made himself master of a demi-lune, which opposed only a feeble resistance.
In the night of 16 to 17 July, Vendôme’s troops stormed the breach, driving back the volunteers (20 men) and the reserve supporting them. Lieutenant-General de Prèla arrived with a detachment and opened fire on the advancing French troops but he was finally driven back and the French occupied the breach.
On 20 July, the breaches in two bastions of Vercelli were so large as to be practicable. At 11:00 a.m., the garrison offered to capitulate.
On 21 July, the garrison of Vercelli surrendered as prisoners of war. This garrison consisted of:
- Guardie (first and second battalions for a total of 380 men)
- Savoia Infantry (first and second battalions for a total of 555 men)
- Militia (997 men)
- Fridt German Infantry (73 men)
- Swiss La Regina Infantry (1 bn reduced to only 265 men at the end of the siege)
- Imperial Harrach Infantry (420 men)
- Dragoni di Genevois (2 sqns of approx. 200 men)
- Dragoni di Piemonte (1 sqn of approx. 80 men)
- Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale (1 sqn of approx. 80 men)
French and Spanish troops immediately took possession of one of the gates of Vercelli.
On 22 July, when the Duke of Savoy heard of the capitulation of Vercelli, he recalled the cavalry posted at Isana to Crescentino. The duke left Major-General Count Monasterol in Livorno with 500 horse to maintain communication with Ivrea. The duke also recalled the detachments which had been sent in the region of the Dora Riparia and Chisone.
On 23 July, according to the orders of the Duke of Savoy, General Castellamonte marched from Avigliana to Rivoli.
On 24 July
- The men of the garrison who were fit for duty (3,600 foot and 500 dragoons and horse) marched out of Vercelli and deposited its arms and colours on the glacis. They were then escorted to Milan, Alessandria, Valencia, Tortona and Serravalle, from where they would march to Genoa to be transported to France. In addition, some 2,000 untransportable sick and wounded remained in Vercelli.
- Vendôme sent 2 bns to reinforce his entrenched camp at Trino.
- M. de Vaubecourt occupied Vercelli with 3 bns. He captured 72 artillery pieces and a large quantity of weapons and provisions. This garrison immediately started to fill the trenches and to repair breaches.
- The reinforcements (5 bns, 7 sqns) sent from Lombardy by the Grand Prieur de Vendôme, reached Cremona.
During this siege, the Franco-Spanish army lost 200 men killed and 830 wounded. The Duke of Savoy lost 13 bns and the largest fortress of his duchy after Turin.
Louis XIV having given his authorisation to raze the fortifications of Vercelli, they were mined.
On 25 July
- Castellamonte marched to Moncalieri, behind the Po River. The Duke of Savoy asked him to send back the bn of Monferrato Infantry to Crescentino. Castellamonte had now only 1 bn of Schulembourg Infantry and a few hundred horse at Moncalieri, in addition of the detachment of Colonel Martigny, which was posted near Vigone.
Siege of Ivrea
Vendôme then took dispositions to march towards the Dora Baltea to lay siege to Ivrea. And to be in a position to effect a junction with the army of the Duc de la Feuillade, operating in Savoy. However, it took some time to assemble the necessary provisions and ammunition at Vercelli. De la Feuillade soon informed him that he considered a junction as impossible.
On 26 July, Monasterol’s detachment in Livorno (Livorno Ferraris) was replaced by a smaller detachment (150 Imperial horse) under Lieutenant-Colonel Heusler.
The Duke of Savoy sent 18 guns and some infantry to reinforce the garrison of Ivrea (5 bns).
On 28 July, the situation having improved in Savoy, the Duc de la Feuillade informed Vendôme that, from the 29 bns in Provence and Savoy, he would leave 5 bns in Provence; 6 bns in Savoy with 2 dragoon sqns for the blockade of Montmélian; 5 bns in the Saint-Martin Valley; 3 bns and 1 dragoon sqn in the entrenchments of Perosa; free coys and some local militia in the Castle of Susa; and 1 dragoon rgt in Susa; and that he would march with 10 bns and 3 dragoon rgts to effect a junction with Vendôme's Army.
Vendôme took dispositions to ease this junction and fixed the rendezvous for 25 August on the Little Dora (probably the Dora Riparia). His army was now occupying the same camp since two months and diseases had begun to spread among troops. To accelerate the destruction of the outworks around Vercelli, Vendôme requisitioned 2,000 local workmen.
On 1 August near Novara, a party of Ebergényi Hussars attacked a convoy destined for the siege of Ivrea, but they were unable to bring it back to Crescentino.
On 6 August
- 5 bns and 7 sqns finally arrived from Lombardy. They were immediately redirected, with additional bns from Vendôme's Army, to reinforce Albergotti's Corps in the Province of Monferrato.
On 10 August, 300 Allied foot made themselves masters of a castle in the Duchy of Monferrato.
On 12 August
- Before daybreak, Vendôme's Army (36 bns, 79 sqns) marched in three columns from Vercelli to San Germano where it arrived at 10:00 a.m. and encamped with its right at San Germano and its left at Salasco, the reserve covering the headquarters.
- During his march, Vendôme received a letter from Louis XIV, informing him that the king would prefer to give priority to the siege of Ivrea before undertaking the siege of Verrua.
- M. de Toralba was left in Vercelli with 4 bns and 6 sqns.
- Albergotti's Corps consisted of 20 bns and 14 sqns.
On 13 August
- Vendôme detached the Chevalier de Broglie with 12 grenadier coys and 1,000 horse to Santhià. Vendôme personally reconnoitred this post and then sent 2 infantry brigades there.
- The construction of ovens started at Santhià.
On 14 August
- A large convoy, escorted by 2 bns and 8 sqns and arriving from Vercelli, reached the camp of San Germano.
The Duc de Vendôme then informed the Duc de la Feuillade of his new project and told him to postpone the planned junction until Ivrea would have surrendered.
On 18 August
- A first convoy arrived from the Duchy of Milan at Santhià.
On 20 August
- A second convoy arrived from the Duchy of Milan at Santhià.
On 21 August
- The Duke of Savoy and Field Marshal Starhemberg went to Ivrea to inspect the fortifications in preparation for the expected siege. Major-General Baron Kriechbaum was appointed commander of the place.
On 22 August
- A third convoy arrived from the Duchy of Milan at Santhià along with 6 bns sent forward from San Germano.
On 23 August
- Vendôme detached M. de Chemerault with the 16 sqns of his reserve to Santhià. From there, this detachment escorted a convoy to Azeglio, on the Lake of Viverone and half-way between Santhià and Ivrea.
- Major-General Baron Kriechbaum, accompanied by Imperialist officers, left Crescentino and went to Ivrea.
De Chemerault met many difficulties on his way to Azeglio. The Allies had blocked the mountain road with rocks and abatis. M. de Chemerault lost time clearing these obstacles away. The mountain road proved to be very difficult and many wagons broke down.
On 24 August
- Vendôme's Army marched from San Germano to Cavaglià. Vendôme himself remained at Santhià with 20 sqns, 9 bns and all hussars.
On 26 August
- M. de Chemerault finally reached Azeglio.
- A second convoy set off from Santhià for Azeglio.
On 28 August
- A third convoy set off from Santhià for Azeglio.
- Vendôme marched to Viverone with the troops, which he had kept with him at Santhià while the main body of the army remained at Cavaglià.
On 29 August
- Everything was assembled at Azeglio for the projected siege of Ivrea.
- Bagosy Hayducks reinforced Major-General Fels, 1,000 horse near Candia. From this position, Fels was threatening Vendôme’s line of communication with Milan.
On 30 August
- Vendôme marched from Viverone with his corps and with the reserve, arriving the same day in front of Ivrea which was defended by 11 bns.
- A skirmish took place between the head of Vendôme's Corps and an Allied reconnoitring party consisting of hussars and cavalry under Major-General Kriechbaum near the Convent of the Capuchins. In this encounter, the Savoyard Colonel Blaviol was mortally wounded.
- Vendôme's troops made themselves masters of the Convent of the Capuchins.
- A first convoy of artillery arrived soon afterwards.
- The main body of Vendôme’s Army decamped from Cavaglià and advanced between Azeglio and Viverone. The depot for the hospital was established at Albiano. All castles to the right of the mountains were also occupied.
- Vendôme's troops encamped in two lines on a small meadow. The place was not invested on the right bank of the Dora Baltea where the Allies had some troops encamped near a bridgehead and a cavalry corps near Strambino 11 km downstream from Ivrea.
- The garrison of Ivrea (9 bns for a total of approx. 2,000 men) consisted of:
- Major-General Fels was now posted at Strambino with his detachment, on the road leading to Chivasso.
On 31 August
- A few infantry brigades with the rest of the artillery joined Vendôme in front of Ivrea.
- Two brigades were left at Albiano to protect the depots; and 35 sqns were left at Azeglio under the command of M. de Medavi, to observe the Allied army entrenched at Crescentino and to protect the convoys coming from Vercelli.
Ivrea was located on a height linked to hills extending up to the Alps towards Switzerland. A square castle, flanked by four towers and surrounded by several stone outworks, stood on another height separated from Ivrea by a small valley. This castle communicated with Ivrea by a palisaded entrenchment. An old citadel also stood on a height on the right bank of the Dora Baltea. This citadel had been repaired and protected by a covert way and by entrenchments.
The Duc de Vendôme decided to make a single attack against Ivrea and to open the trenches near the Convent of the Capuchins within a musket-shot from the palisades.
On 1 September
- Vendôme established batteries on various heights overlooking Ivrea.
- In the evening, 6 artillery pieces opened against the place.
By 2 September
- Everything was ready to start the siege.
- Vendôme was informed of the disaster which had occurred in Germany: the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Blenheim, the evacuation of Bavaria and the retreat of the French army to the Rhine. It became obvious that the Emperor would soon be able to send reinforcements to Italy. The Duc Vendôme also received instructions from the king to send a reinforcement of 10 bns and 10 sqns to the Grand Prieur de Vendôme in Lombardy.
- 13 sqns set off from Vendôme's Army for Lombardy.
On the night of 2 to 3 September
- Trenches were opened in front of Ivrea near the Convent of the Capuchins by 600 men detached from their units and 8 grenadier coys under the command of M. de Vaubecourt.
- The Duke of Savoy sent ammunition, fascines, and wine to Ivrea. He also sent the Bagosy Hayducks to join the garrison of Ivrea.
By 5 September
- Vendôme had already completed his second parallel before Ivrea and the contregarde of the covert way had been breached.
On 6 September
- The artillery of Ivrea had been silenced.
- With the siege proceeding better than anticipated, Vendôme decided to extend the investment to the right bank of the Dora Baltea to prevent the garrison from escaping. He threw a bridge on this river, upstream from Ivrea.
On 7 September
- Foot and cavalry piquets occupied the heights on the right bank of the Dora Baltea.
- Vendôme's troops made themselves master of the covert way of Ivrea.
- The breach in the contregarde of the covert way was 3 m. wide. The bastion of the Vercelli Gate and the Diavolo Tower had also heavily suffered from artillery fire.
On 10 September
- The last convoy arrived at Vendôme's camp. The troops posted at Azeglio and Albiano under M. de Medavi, to the exception of 1 infantry brigade and 1 Spanish dragoon rgt, then joined the main army.
By 11 September, there were two large breaches in the bastion which had been the target of Vendôme's attack.
On 12 September
- 25 sqns passed the Dora Baltea and joined the infantry occupying its right bank, thus completing the investment of Ivrea.
- 10 other sqns and 1 infantry brigade took position on the left bank of the Dora Baltea upstream from Ivrea.
On 14 September, Ivrea was submitted to a heavy battering fire and mines exploded.
In the night of 15 to 16 September, Major-General Lothringen at the head of a strong detachment attacked the escort of a French convoy near Azeglio. However a reinforcement of 600 horse was immediately sent from the French camp and Lothringen retired.
On 16 September, the garrison of Ivrea asked to negotiate the terms of the capitulation for the town. Vendôme insisted that these terms should include the castle and the citadel. This clause being rejected the cannonade resumed.
On 18 September
- In the morning, Kriechbaum evacuated the town of Ivrea and demolished the bridge. 32 officers and 600 men took refuge in Fort Castiglio, while Kriechbaum retired to the citadel with 148 officers and 1,630 men.
- M. de Chemerault immediately entered into the town of Ivrea and dispositions were taken to attack the castle.
On the night of 19 to 20 September
- Trenches were opened in front of the Castle of Ivrea. The garrison made a sortie but was driven back by the grenadiers.
- Vendôme directed another attack against the entrenchments defending Fort Castiglio.
On 20 September, Vendôme's batteries opened against the suburb and Fort Castiglio.
On 21 September
- The Duke of Savoy and Count von Starhemberg sent FML Count Daun from their camp at Crescentino with 2,000 foot and 500 horse to attack the weak garrison left by the Franco-Spanish in Vercelli.
- In the evening, FML Daun arrived in front of Vercelli and immediately made dispositions to take one of the gate by surprise. However, 50 disguised grenadiers, who had been sent into the ditch, were spotted and some cannon of the place fired.
On September 22
- The Duke of Savoy followed Daun’s detachment with additional troops. During the march, the duke learned that Vendôme had been informed of this undertaking. He then abandoned his design against Vercelli and recalled Daun’s detachments to Crescentino, because he feared that Vendôme might make an attempt against the place.
On 23 September
- The Duke of Savoy sent a few bns and some cavalry against Montechiaro in the Province of Monferrato to put the town to contribution while another detachment was advancing towards Asti.
- When Albergotti was informed of the advance of Allied troops, he removed the 2 bns defending Asti and left only 200 grenadiers and 200 fusiliers in the castle.
On 25 September, the breach in the entrenchments of the suburb in front of Fort Castiglio was large enough to consider an assault.
On 26 September
- In the morning, MM. de Medavi and de Chartogne stormed the suburb at the head of 8 grenadier coys and 600 picked fusiliers. The defenders took refuge in Fort Castiglio whose garrison (1,400 men, 148 officers and 230 sick and wounded) soon surrendered as prisoners of war.
On 28 September
- The garrison of the castle of Ivrea (600 men and 32 officers) was summoned, being warned that it was Vendôme's last offer and that no quarter would be given if he had to storm the place.
On 29 September
- In the morning, the garrison of the Castle of Ivrea surrendered.
- The Duke of Savoy with 4,000 foot, 1,200 horse and 6 guns marched to Cocconato near Albergotti's positions. From there, he then sent Starhemberg to Montechiaro with part of his forces. Starhemberg immediately entrenched his positions at Montechiaro.
- Ivrea was garrisoned by 4 bns and 1 dragoon rgt under the command of M. d'Arène.
- During the siege of Ivrea, the Franco-Spanish army had lost about 400 men killed or wounded.
- Albergotti, informed that the Allies were entrenching themselves in Montechiaro, marched with 9 bns and 1 dragoon rgt from Sant'Oreglio (unidentified location) to Villadeati, leaving 6 bns at Gabiano and 4 bns at Trino
On 30 September
- The entire garrison of Ivrea was escorted to Vercelli by 1,200 foot and 1,000 horse. This escort brought back provisions and ammunition to Ivrea to supply the place for three months.
- Albergotti occupied Montechiaro where he left 1 cavalry brigade which had been sent by Vendôme when he had heard of the advance of the Duke of Savoy.
- The Imperial General Count Daun marched upon Asti with 4 bns, 7 sqns and 2 guns. He surprised a detachment of 35 men in Asti and vainly summoned the garrison of the castle under the command of M. de Coeur-de-Chêne, who refused to surrender.
- Daun, informed that Albergotti was marching to the relief of Asti, retired to the camp of the Duke of Savoy.
- The Duke of Savoy had, to no avail, summoned the Castle of Montiglio. The duke then returned with all his troops to Crescentino.
Vendôme advances in the Aosta Valley
The capture of Ivrea allowed the Duc de Vendôme to advance into the Aosta Valley and made possible a junction with the army of the Duc de la Feuillade.
On 1 October
- The Duc de Vendôme sent 3 bns to reinforce the Grand Prieur de Vendôme in Lombardy. These bns embarked at Pavia to sail on the Po down to Cremona. This was far from the promised 10 bns but the Duc de Vendôme wanted first to establish communication with the army of the Duc de la Feuillade through the Aosta Valley before sending further troops.
- The Duc de Vendôme detached M. de Mauroy with 10 grenadier coys, 1,000 foot, 200 dragoons and 4 guns to enter into the Aosta Valley and make himself master of the Castle of Bard to ease the junction with the army of the Duc de la Feuillade. Mauroy marched along the left bank of the Dora Baltea. Between the villages of Settimo Vittone and Carema, he was stopped by an entrenchment on a rocky promontory occupied by 100 men (part regulars, part militia) under the command of the Savoyard Colonel de Reding. Mauroy decided to turn the position through the mountains with 6 grenadier coys. Reding, seeing the French appear behind his own position, abandoned his entrenchment and retired into the Castle of Bard.
On 2 October
- Mauroy marched to Douas (unidentified location), only 2 km from the Castle of Bard. At his arrival at Douas, he heard that the Duc de la Feuillade had probably reached Châtillon, about halfway between Aosta and the Castle of Bard.
- The Castle of Bard was located in a very narrow and steep portion of the valley. Mauroy had to make himself master of an entrenchment defending a path through the mountain. He sent 3 grenadier coys against this entrenchment. They drove the defenders back and captured the outpost.
- Shortly afterwards, Mauroy received conformation that the Duc de la Feuillade had reached Châtillon and Verrès.
- Mauroy then established with much difficulties a battery on rocks near the town of Bard. However, his 8-pdrs were not powerful enough to breach the walls of the town and he asked for two heavier guns.
On 5 October
- The Duc de Vendôme personally visited Mauroy's camp and met with the Duc de la Feuillade to organize future operations.
On the night of 6 to 7 October, the Prince Pio with Lieutenant-Colonel Baudouin of Vendôme Infanterie with 4 grenadier coys and 6 detachments of 40 men each managed to storm two houses and to enter into the town of Bard. The garrison took refuge in the castle. Meanwhile, miners destroyed the doors of the three walls. In this action, Mauroy lost 1 captain killed and 3 men wounded.
On 7 October
- Mauroy finally received two 24-pdrs who opened against the castle.
- The Duc de Vendôme then summoned the Colonel de Reding, threatening to hang him if he persisted in the defence of the castle. Reding finally accepted to capitulate under the condition that the fortress would be given to the French only eight days later and that the garrison would receive the honours of war. Vendôme rejected these conditions and, after further discussions, the garrison surrendered as prisoner of war.
After the capitulation of Bard, the Colonel de Reding offered to enter into the French service with his Swiss soldiers. Vendôme was favourable to his request and the king later authorised him to negotiate with Reding.
Still having the capture of Verrua in mind, the Duc de Vendôme had already began to take dispositions for the siege of the place even before the capture of the Castle of Bard. He had given orders for his army to move closer to the Po River.
On 7 October
- Vendôme's Army set off from its camp near Ivrea and marched to Borgomasino.
- M. d'Arène was left at Ivrea with 4 bns and 1 dragoon rgt.
On 8 October
- The French occupied the town and castle of Bard. The Duc de Vendôme was now master of all the Aosta Valley and had a good line of communication to receive supply and troops from France. The occupation of this valley was so important that, from the 9 bns and 1 dragoon rgt brought to him by the Duc de la Feuillade, Vendôme left 5 bns and 1 dragoon rgt in the valley. From the remaining 4 bns, 3 bns were destined to reinforce the Grand Prieur de Vendôme in Lombardy and 1 bn was charged to guard the Castle of Bard and various other castles of the region.
Siege of Verrua
On 9 October, Vendôme's Army marched to Santhià where Vendôme rejoined it.
On 10 October, Vendôme's Army marched to Vercelli.
On 11 October
- Vendôme sent 3 French bns and 1 Spanish dragoon rgt under M. de Châteaumorant to reinforce the Grand Prieur in Lombardy.
- Vendôme's Army marched to Trino while he himself went to Gabiano and reconnoitred the entrenchments of the Allies at Carbignano), which were covering Verrua.
On 12 October, Vendôme's Army sojourned at Trino.
On 13 October, Vendôme's infantry passed the Po on the bridge of Trino and encamped with its right at Moncestino and its left at the height of Poggia (maybe Piagera).
On 14 October
- When the Duke of Savoy was informed of the march of Vendôme’s Army on Verrua, he transferred the 11 Imperial bns from Crescentino to the entrenched camp of Carbignano, where there were already 4 Savoyard bns. The cavalry along with picked Imperial and Savoyard foot, remained in the camp of Crescentino, under the command of Major-General Lothringen.
- FML Daun was appointed commander of the camp of Carbignano and of “Fort Royal.”
- Major-General Max Starhemberg and General Count la Rocca commanded in “Fort Royal.”
- Colonel Regal commanded in the hornwork.
- In the morning, Vendôme's infantry marched in two columns towards Verrua. The Duc de Vendôme personally led the left column while the right column, marching along the Po was placed under the command of M. de Las Torres.
- Albergotti marched with all his troops to Montesollo (unidentified location), a village located within cannon-shot from Verrua.
- At 10:00 a.m., the two columns of infantry effected a junction at Montesollo.
- Around noon, the French reached San Giovanni. Immediately, Vendôme ordered to seize the three heights (Monte di Pietra, Monte di Vigna and Monte Piola) located within half a musket-shot from the entrenchments of the Allies at Carbignano.
- MM. de las Torres, Chartogne and Bonezane advanced at the head of 10 grenadier coys, supported by a few bns. They soon made themselves masters of the first height under the eyes of the Duke of Savoy, who had taken position between this height and his entrenchments.
- The two other heights were captured by MM. de Chamillart and d'Imecourt.
- Entrenched outposts were established on these heights and most of the infantry encamped under their cover.
- Lieutenant-General Albergotti launched 12 grenadier coys under the command of MM. de Guerchy and de Bourck against a few farmsteads on Monte Pisello, south of Carbignano.
- During these attacks, Vendôme's cavalry, which was still encamped at Trino, passed the Po and joined the infantry.
- Vendôme's Army was deployed with 1 dragoon rgt posted at tits extreme right on the Po at the height of Moncestino; its extreme left, composed of 3 cavalry brigades anchored on Brusasco; 3 cavalry brigade were encamped with their right to the Po and their left towards the mountain facing Chivasso; the rest of the cavalry was placed in second line behind the infantry; 2 bns and 13 sqns under the command of M. de Ruffey guarded the bridge at Trino, protected navigation on the Po and prevented any incursion of the Allies in the Duchy of Milan.
During these operations, the Duke of Savoy did not make any attempt to hinder Vendôme's manoeuvres. His army, including the Imperial contingent, remained in their camp at Crescentino.
Vendôme then undertook the very difficult Siege of Verrua which would last until April 1705.
On 15 October
- The Duke of Savoy sent Major-General Fels, who was still on the other side of the Dora Baltea, to Villafranca on the right bank of the Po, with instructions to hinder the French who were putting the vicinity to contribution.
- Vendôme posted cavalry detachments from Moncestino to Brusasco to secure the neighbouring country, and other detachments to cover the crossing of the Po near Chivasso. The rest of his cavalry joined his infantry in his camp near Verrua.
On 30 October, Vendôme attacked the hornwork in front of the entrenched camp at Carbignano. During this attack, his cavalry made a diversion along the Po, above Verrua. Allied outposts were pushed back and the cavalry advanced towards the bridge of the Allies who detached a few bns from their entrenched camp at Carbignano.
In the first days of November, the lodgment of the hornwork of the camp at Carbignano was perfected and mines installed. Vendôme then decided to launch another attack and to make a powerful diversion against a cavalry camp of the Allies on the opposite bank of the Po, between their bridge and their main camp at Crescentino, hoping to defeat the Allied cavalry before any infantry support could arrive from Carbignano. Vendôme assigned 20 bns and 7 sqns to this diversionary attack.
On 5 November in the evening, the 13 sqns left at Trino and 1,000 horse previously detached in the Province of Monferrato, joined Vendôme's main body for the planned attack on the cavalry camp of the Allies. All troops should pass the Po at various fords upstream from Verrua during the following night and march at daybreak upon the cavalry camp of the Allies. At 8:00 p.m., all troops were at the assigned rendezvous.
On 6 November at 3:00 a.m., heavy rains having swelled the Po, Vendôme cancelled the operation and sent troops back to their camps. The 1,000 horse returned to Monferrato. In the morning, Vendôme was informed that the Allies were precipitously evacuating their camp at Carbignano and repassing the Po. In fact, French deserters had informed the Duke of Savoy of Vendôme's design against the cavalry camp and the duke had decided to retreat. Fearing that the Duke of Savoy would soon hear about the cancellation of this attack. Vendôme exploded the mines installed in the hornwork and launched an assault on the entrenchments surrounding Carbignano. His troops were soon masters of the abandoned camp. Ironically, Vendôme's aborted attack against the cavalry camp of the Allies had produced the same results as those expected from a successful attack.
Constant heavy rain seriously delayed siege works and made the subsistence of Vendôme's cavalry difficult.
On 11 November
- Vendôme was forced to send his cavalry to the Province of Monferrato under the command of the Comte d'Estaing. It cantoned in the villages of Cunico, Montiglio, Montechiaro, San Secondo, Cagliano (unidentified location) and Cortanze. Vendôme kept only the hussars and 200 horse with him. Horse were rotated each four days.
- The Savoyard cavalry marched from its camp at Crescentino and took cantonments near Chivasso.
On 14 November
- The Imperial cavalry set off from Crescentino and took cantonments near Chivasso. The Duke of Savoy now had only 600 horse, the Savoyard infantry and the Imperial infantry at his camp at Crescentino.
Vendôme's Army was exhausted by the intensive campaign conducted since the month of May. Trenches were manned by detachments of 36 men per battalion and by only 4 grenadier coys because his units were too depleted.
By 26 November, the trenches were only at 30 m. from the covert way of Verrua.
On the night of 29 to 30 November
- Heavy rain having swelled the Po, the bridge of the Allies was carried away. They also lost their bridge on the Dora Baltea.
- Vendôme's bridges at Trino and Casale were also broken and the trenches in front of Verrua completely flooded. All work was interrupted.
Informed that the Duke of Savoy had boats sailing downstream from Turin to repair his bridge, Vendôme detached M. de Chemerault to intercept them. The latter passed the Po with 150 cavalrymen each a grenadier riding pillion. However, an Allied detachment effectively covered the convoy of boats
On 3 December, the Allies re-established their bridge on the Po.
The Duke of Savoy sent a cavalry detachment in the Province of Biella to induce the peasants to take arms against the French and to prevent them from delivering fodder at the French magazines at Ivrea. The duke also wanted this detachment to bring back 2,500 horses bought in Switzerland to remount his cavalry. Vendôme having been informed of the project of the Duke of Savoy, detached 400 foot and 100 horse from the garrison of Ivrea under the command of M. de Bonneval towards Biella. Bonneval dispersed the Allied detachment, stormed the entrenchments guarded by the peasants, made himself master of the town of Biella and submitted the entire province.
On 4 December, weather improving, siege works resumed around Verrua.
On 7 December, the Allies sent a party (300 cuirassiers, Deák Hussars and Ebergényi Hussars) to attack a large French convoy transporting ammunition and provisions, which was advancing under escort from Trino to Gabiano. This Allied party was supported by a small detachment (300 grenadiers, 1,000 horse) under Major-General Fels posted near Lucedio. However, the Allies were delayed by the flooding of the Po and of various canals and the convoy reached Gabiano unhindered.
On 8 December, the Duc de Vendôme sent 11 sqns to reinforce the Grand Prieur de Vendôme in Lombardy.
The Duc de Vendôme, having been informed that 2 hussar rgts were cantoned in the village of Santa Maria, on the left bank of the Po downstream from Crescentino, detached M. de Filtz with all the hussars which he had kept with his army. M. de Filtz passed the Po at the bridge of Trino, where he was joined by 2 grenadier coys and 250 horse. He then advanced upon Santa Maria to realize that the Allies had been warned and had quickly retired. Nevertheless, he managed to capture 8 hussars, 27 horses and 3 standards.
Meanwhile, an Allied detachment attacked a forage party in the Province of Monferrato, capturing 45 dismounted dragoons.
In the night of 26 to 27 December, the defenders of Verrua made a sortie and destroyed some siege works. Vendôme realised that it had been a mistake to leave a secure line of communication between the Allied camp at Crescentino and the Fortress of Verrua.
FML Daun was sent to Vienna to require immediate support. The Duke of Savoy threatened to abandon the alliance if he did not receive support soon. By this time, the Imperial corps under Filed Marshal Starhemberg counted on 4,606 men fit for service.
Vendôme wanted to intensify the siege of Verrua while Louis XIV was urging him to prepare for the siege of Turin which he wanted to begin in February. Vendôme represented that he could not lay siege to Turin before the end of April.
In fact, Verrua would fall only in April 1705. Its resistance jeopardizing the plans of the King of France.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Vault, François Eugène de: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV
- Vol. 3 pp. 361-369
- Vol. 4 pp. 75, 186-294
- Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 6, Vienna 1879, pp. 209-269
- Spanish Succession, War of the, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (c1910-1922), Vol. 25, p. 601