1704 – Campaign in Lombardy

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1704 – Campaign in Lombardy

The campaign lasted from April 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. 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 17 February 1704, 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;

  1. the article 1704 – Campaign in Dauphiné, Provence and Savoy
  2. the article 1704 – Campaign in Piedmont
  3. the present article describing operations in Lombardy


Map of the campaign in Lombardy in 1704
Adapted from a work published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat and released in the public domain



Order of Battle
Order of battle of the Imperialist Army of Lombardy in January 1704

The Imperial General of Cavalry Count Trautmansdorf had 13,858 foot and 960 horse under his command in Lombardy. However, from this total, only 6,123 foot and 960 horse were fit for duty. On the right bank of the Po, he occupied the right bank of the Secchia, Mirandola and Revere; on the left bank of the Po, Ostiglia, Ponte-Molino and the towers of Serravalle.

The Franco-Spanish army consisted of 27 bns and 29 sqns under the command of M. de Saint-Frémont. On the right bank of the Po, it occupied the regions of Guastalla and Modena down to the Secchia; on the left bank of the Po, Mantua and the Mincio from Lake Garda to its mouth. The places of the regions of Milan and Cremona were guarded by a few Spanish units under the command of the Prince de Vaudémont.

On 11 January, Trautmansdorf sent Colonel Battée with 300 men and a few cannon to capture Bomporto. This force made itself master of the town, losing only 1 men killed and 4 wounded; and taking 24 Frenchmen prisoners.

On 12 January, Battée advanced on Bastiglia.

On 15 January, the garrison of Bastiglia (2 officers and 116 men) surrendered as prisoners of war to Battée’s detachment. In this affair, the Imperialists lost 3 men killed and 10 wounded. Colonel Battée then received a reinforcement (50 dismounted cavalrymen and 100 hussars) to advance on Finale di Modena (unidentified location).

On 20 January, Trautmansdorf sent additional reinforcements (1,000 dismounted cavalrymen, 100 Hayducks and 150 horse) from Revere to Colonel Battée, so that he could garrison Bomporto, Bastiglia and Finale.

On 28 January, M. de Saint-Frémont arrived at Reggio where he assembled his army.

Trautmansdorf sent 100 horse under Colonel Count Reising to reinforce Bastiglia. Meanwhile, Colonel Battée assembled a few detachment to cover Bastiglia.

Saint-Frémont’s Corps (5,000 men and 13 artillery pieces) soon stormed Bastiglia and Bomporto, each defended by approx. 500 men; and made itself master of Quistello.

On 2 February, Colonel Battée was forced to retire to Mirandola, constantly harassed by Saint-Frémont’s troops. In this affair, the Imperialists lost 120 men killed, wounded or taken prisoners.

Meanwhile, M. de Praslin launched a diversion on Ostiglia from Mantua.

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.

On 6 March on the Secchia, the Grand-Prieur de Vendôme ordered to assemble 18 bns, 27 sqns, the grenadier coys of 9 of his rgts with 30 artillery pieces and 2,000 peasants from the Duchy of Mantua at San Benedetto for the planned attack on Revere. However, heavy rains delayed his project.

On 10 March, the forces ordered to San Benedetto by the Grand-Prieur finally started to assemble.

On 12 March, the Grand Prieur took command of the troops assembled at San Benedetto and threw three bridges on the Secchia between Quistello and Bondanello. Everything was now ready for the expedition against Revere when heavy rains started again and all roads leading to Revere became impracticable.

In mid-March, FZM Starhemberg sent the young Prince Thomas de Vaudémont, the son of the Spanish Governor of Milan, to assume command in Lombardy.

On 15 March

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur detached M. de Vaudray (2,000 foot, 600 horse) against Concordia which was defended by 200 Hayducks. At 8:00 a.m., Vaudray arrived in front of Concordia which had been evacuated by its garrison. He immediately sent d'Estrades with 50 grenadiers and 100 horse in pursuit of the garrison. They caught up with it near Mirandola, killing 44 men and taking the rest prisoners. **The Grand-Prieur went to Concordia to take dispositions for the defence of this sector. He put 300 men under Colonel Warop in an outpost and set fire to the castle and the town of Concordia in retaliation for the treason of the Princess of Mirandola.

On 16 March

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand-Prieur removed his bridges on the Secchia and went to Mantua. He also sent back his troops to their quarters: 4 bns went to San Benedetto; 4 bns and 1 cavalry rgt to Carpi.
    • M. de Saint-Frémont returned to Modena, leaving 300 men in farmhouses on the left bank of the Secchia and ordering to re-establish the bridge broken by the Imperialists.

On 19 March the young Prince of Mirandola declared that his principality would submit to Philip V.

On 21 March, M. de Bussy at the head of 30 men made himself master of the Castle of Sestola on the Upper-Panaro which was defended by 24 militiamen.

On 27 March, the young Prince Thomas de Vaudémont and Major-General Marquis Visconti arrived at Revere. Count Trautmansdorf was recalled to Vienna and G.d.C. Thomas de Vaudémont assumed command of the Imperialist forces on the Po.

On 4 April, the Grand Prieur de Vendôme personally went from Mantua to Governolo where he assembled a corps to operate on the right bank of the Po.

On 5 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur crossed the Po and marched to San Benedetto.
  • Imperialists
    • G.d.C. Vaudémont held a council of war. His small army numbered 8,130 foot and 4,254 horse (with only 1,186 horses) but only 3,169 foot and 3,467 cavalrymen were fit for duty and among them only 1,189 cavalrymen were properly equipped. Furthermore, his army had only 37 drought-horses for its 48 field artillery pieces.

The Grand Prieur captures Revere

On 6 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur threw bridges on the Secchia at Propositura (unidentified location).
    • The entire corps (18 bns of 300 men each; 37 grenadier coys including those sent by the Duc de Vendôme at the end of February; 1,600 horse; 30 guns) that he intended to use in his expedition against Revere was assembled at San Benedetto.
    • 10 other grenadier coys under M. de Tavagny went to Governolo; they were intended to attack the Chiaviche of Serravalle to mask the towers of Serravalle and to protect a convoy (bread, artillery, fascines, ammunition) which would sail downstream on the Po, escorted by two galiots. By this diversion, the Grand Prieur hoped to pin down Imperialist troops between Serravalle and Ostiglia, and thus weaken the garrison of Revere.

Since the beginning of the campaign, the Imperialists had strengthened the defences of Revere. The ditches surrounding the place were 4.5 m. wide and 2.5 m. deep. The defensive works were in good condition and well palisaded. The two main batteries were located on the two dykes on the Po. The place was linked to Ostiglia by a well entrenched bridge.

On 8 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur crossed the Secchia and encamped near Quingentole, 8 km from Revere. He was then informed that the Imperial cavalry had retired to Ostiglia.
    • The Grand Prieur also received a letter from Louis XIV, asking him to remain on the defensive.
  • Imperialists
    • G.d.C. Vaudémont made preparations for a retreat towards Ostiglia. The baggage were moved to the opposite bank of the Po.

On 9 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur, considering that his enterprise was too advanced to be cancelled, marched to the Pieve, only 3 km from Revere. He then reconnoitred the place and took dispositions for its siege.
    • M. de Tavagny marched from Governolo with his 10 grenadier coys to the Chiaviche of Serravalle.
  • Imperialists
    • G.d.C. Vaudémont hastened his retreat from Revere. His cavalry and artillery reached Ostiglia. His infantry followed during the night. Only 500 men were left behind to defend Revere. The boat=bridge was then dismantled.
    • Vaudémont sent FML Visconti with 600 foot and 600 horse towards Governolo to secure the rear of his new positions, to reconnoitre in the direction of Mantua and to prevent the enemy from crossing the Mincio River. Visconti had been ordered to drive the small French garrison (100 men) out of Governolo, and then to destroy all means of transit across the Mincio.

On 10 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Early in the morning, M. de Tavagny made himself master of the Chiaviche of Serravalle. Visconti’s detachment attacked his new position. It was soon reinforced by Herberstein Infantry (2 bns) but was driven back.
    • The artillery destined to the siege of Revere could now be disembarked.
  • Imperialists
    • After the engagement, Visconti’s detachment occupied the entrenchments around Serravalle.
    • Vaudémont detached Lieutenant-Colonel Davia with 250 horse against Mantua. The detachment drove out the defender of a redoubt, before destroying it.

On 11 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • In the morning, the Grand Prieur detached M. de Saint-Frémont (500 horse, 6 grenadier coys) to reconnoitre Revere from the southeast. As he approached, Saint-Frémont noted that the bridge between Ostiglia and Revere had been folded and its boats placed under the protection of 20 guns on the side of Ostiglia.
    • Saint-Frémont immediately occupied a few farmhouses located near the Gate of Revere with 3 grenadier coys. The defenders of Revere answered with a weak fire and Saint-Frémont informed the Grand Prieur that most of the garrison had probably recrossed the Po.
    • The Grand Prieur then detached the Chevalier de Luxembourg (20 grenadier coys) against the entrenchments of Revere. The garrison opposed a weak resistance and soon evacuated the place and crossed the Po aboard small boats.
    • The French entered into Revere under the fire of the 20 pieces that the Imperialists had established at Ostiglia, on the opposite bank of the Po.
    • In this affair, the Grand Prieur lost only 2 grenadiers killed. For their part, the Imperialists lost 36 men killed, 55 wounded and 3 missing.
    • M. de Percy, who had been posted downstream from Revere with 10 grenadier coys during the attack, to establish batteries, cannonaded boats sailing downstream, forcing them to halt. The Grand Prieur sent 150 dragoons in these quarters.
  • Imperialists
    • With the loss of Revere, the Imperialists now had only 2 rgts (1,500 men) to defend Mirandola.

The Grand Prieur was now master of the right bank of the Po. Imperial troops were still occupying the towers of Serravalle, Ponte Molino and Ostiglia. The Imperialists were confined between the Adige, Tartaro, Canalbianco and Po. Their supplies came mainly from Tyrol through Venetia. Furthermore, the garrison of Mirandola was isolated. The place was under the command of Colonel Lothar Joseph Count Königsegg and consisted of 2,232 foot and 12 horse (only 1,379 foot and 12 horse fit for duty):

The Grand Prieur then sent back the 20 grenadier coys belonging to the Army of Piedmont commanded by his brother, the Duc de Vendôme.

On 12 April

  • Imperialists
    • G.d.C. Vaudémont established his new camp near Ostiglia.

The Grand Prieur de Vendôme then established the blockade of Mirandola with 4 bns and 1 dragoon rgt. He divided his army in two corps:

  • a corps (6 bns, 9 sqns, 6 guns) posted on the right bank of the Po under the command of M. de Saint-Frémont, extending down to the Panaro to cover Modena and the blockade of Mirandola.
  • a corps (12 bns, 18 sqns, 21 guns) posted on the left bank of the Po under his own command

Furthermore, there were an important garrison in Mantua.

On 13 April, the Grand Prieur set off from the Pieve with his own corps and marched to San Benedetto.

On 14 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur marched to Mantua, detaching M. de Vaudrey (8 sqns, 8 grenadier coys) to Goito on the Mincio.
    • M. de Saint-Frémont set off from the Pieve and marched to Borgofranco, 7 km downstream from Revere.

On 15 April, Saint-Frémont encamped at Bonizzo where he considered that he would be better posted to prevent the Imperialists throwing a bridge between Revere and the mouth of the Panaro.

The Imperialist army was then encamped in two lines with its right at Madona delia Comuna and its left extending towards Melara; with Ostiglia to its front. The place was still full of ammunition, provisions and fodder. The were also 40 boats, who had previously been used to establish the bridge, in the harbour of Ostiglia. The Imperialists planted two batteries to ruin the part of Revere adjacent to the Po.

M. de Saint-Frémont entrenched this part of Revere to protect it from the fire of the artillery of the Imperialists. He also established a battery of 3 guns and 2 mortars to destroy their bakery, magazine and boats

On 16 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Saint-Frémont was informed that the Imperialists had extended their positions to Melara, Bergantino, Massa, Ficarolo, Castelli de' Frati (unidentified location) and Lago Scuro (unidentified location) on the Po; and that they were making new defensive works at Ostiglia and at the towers of Serravalle.
    • Saint-Frémont then personally reconnoitred the Po, accompanied by 6 grenadier coys and a few piquets, down to the mouth of the Panaro, establishing outposts at Carbonarola, Sermide and Quatrelle, opposite those of the enemy. He the wrote to Cardinal Ostalli, legate of Ferrara, and to M. Paulini, general of the Papal army, that if they did not oust Imperial troops form Papal States, he would march in these quarters with his own troops.**Saint-Frémont also assembled detachments from the garrisons of Modena, Bastiglia and Bomporto, placed them under the command of M. de Sezanne and sent them to seize Finale Emilia and the stone bridge on the Panaro.
    • Saint-Frémont then sent M. de Warop, commanding at Concordia, with 40 regulars and some militia to occupy Quarantoli. However, Warop had not enough time to establish himself in this village and was attacked by troops from the garrison of Mirandola and his detachment forced to surrender as prisoners of war. Saint-Frémont immediately replaced Warop's detachment at Concordia with 2 grenadier coys from neighbouring garrisons and with 150 militia belonging to the Duke of Mirandola. This prince had already armed some 400 militia to fight alongside the French.

On 19 April

  • Imperialists
    • Part of Davia’s detachment arrived at Edolo after a raid in the Duchy of Milan. In this raid, Davia had lost 25 men and 35 horses.

On 20 April, Saint-Frémont returned to his camp at Bonizzo where Vendôme's orders were waiting for him. He was instructed to go to Modena to receive the oath of fidelity of the deputies of the Province of Garfagnana which the Duke of Modena had finally decided to place under the protection of the Franco-Spanish alliance with the Fortress of Monte-Alfonso and the Castle of Verrucola.

On 22 April, Saint-Frémont concluded an agreement by which the Franco-Spanish army was taking possession of the Province of Garfagnana, of the Fortress of Monte-Alfonso and of the Castle of Verrucola. He sent 200 men under Brigadier Gaffard to occupy these places.

The Grand Prieur de Vendôme was now considering an offensive on the Tartaro but orders from Versailles, instructing him to remain on the defensive, interrupted the execution of his plan.

At the beginning of May, the Grand Prieur received recruits sent from France through Genoa. He was also promised 10 artillery pieces by the Prince de Vaudémont.

On 7 May, as instructed by the Grand Prieur, M. de Saint-Frémont established an entrenched bridge at Bondeno on the Panaro, leaving 600 foot and 200 horse to guard it.

On 12 May, the young Prince Thomas de Vaudémont died from malaria in the camp of Ostiglia. He had been sick for eleven days. FZM Count Herberstein assumed interim command. In mid-May, the Grand Prieur de Vendôme was authorised to resume his operations. M. de Saint-Frémont then initiated negotiations with the Legate of Ferrara to convince him to expel the Imperialist troops who were posted within the borders of the Papal States.

On 21 May, the 10 expected Spanish pieces finally arrived at Mantua

The Grand Prieur assembled 12 bns, 20 sqns and 10 pieces near Mantua. M. de Saint-Frémont, for his part was at the head of 6 bns, 9 sqns and 10 pieces.

The Grand Prieur captures the towers of Serravalle

On 25 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur marched from Mantua and encamped at Roncoferraro, on the left bank of the Lower Mincio.
  • Imperialists
    • The Imperialist outpost retired to Libiola, where they were attacked and driven out of the place by 100 French grenadiers during the night.

On 27 May, the Grand Prieur marched to Libiola, upstream from the culverts of Serravalle

On the night of 27 to 28 May, the Grand Prieur detached M. Serre (100 grenadiers) to attack the culverts of Serravalle. The post was defended by 800 men but the French managed to drive them back and to make themselves master of the post.

The Grand Prieur then reconnoitred the towers of Serravalle and found that they were strongly fortified. He then decided to erect a fort near the culverts

At about this time, the Grand Prieur was informed that the Pope had finally agreed to ask to the Imperialists to evacuate the post which they occupied in the Papal States. Furthermore, the Baron d'Estrick, an engineer formerly in the Imperial service, changed allegiance and informed the Grand Prieur that the Imperialists could count on only 2,100 foot, 1,200 horse and 1,700 dismounted cavalrymen in these quarters; that the young Prince Thomas de Vaudémont had died and that General Herberstein was now in command. D'Estrick also gave information on the fortifications of Serravalle, in which he had participated.

The Grand Prieur then ordered to send siege artillery from Mantua and to move the bridge of San Benedetto downstream to the Island of Mezzana where he intended to establish batteries to fire in the rear of the towers of Serravalle. He also ordered to arm boats to transport 2,000 men to the rear of the enemy positions. Meanwhile, M. de Saint-Frémont would make a diversion from Stellata against the nearby Island of Pepoli.

On 8 June, the requested siege artillery (46 guns and 7 mortars) and boats arrived at the camp of Libiola

On 9 June, the troops of the Grand Prieur started to construct a bridge linking the camp to the Island of Mezzana, out of range of the guns of the towers of Serravalle. They also planted a battery of 20 guns and 7 mortars on this island.

On 10 June, the Grand Prieur de Vendôme laid siege to the towers of Serravalle.

On 13 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The battery on the Island of Mezzana opened against Serravalle.
    • The Grand Prieur detached M. d'Estrades (12 sqns including 9 sqns of his own corps and 3 sqns of Saint-Frémont's Corps) towards Baruchella to threaten the rear of the positions of the Imperialists.
    • D'Estrades reached Castellaro (more probably Castel d'Ario). He then advanced to Sanguinetto in Venetian territory. Venetian troops refused to allow French soldiers to enter into the Castle of Sanguinetto, firing on approaching officers, killing M. de Viltz and wounding two other officers. D'Estrades' troops soon made themselves master of the castle, killing 10 defenders and taking the rest of the garrison prisoners.

On the night of 13 to 14 June, Saint-Frémont retired from Bondeno in the territories which he occupied in the Papal States after receiving promise from the legate that Imperial troops would also evacuate the territory. He then marched to Stellata. Meanwhile, he moved the bridge from Bondeno downstream on the Panaro and then upstream on the Po to Stellata under the protection of a battery of 10 pieces which he had planted on the Island of Pepoli.

On the night of 14 to 15 June, Saint-Frémont lifted his camp at Stellata and, passing a stream separating the Papal States from the Duchy of Mantua, he encamped at Quatrelle, thus evacuating the Papal States. He assembled his 6 bns and 6 sqns at Quatrelle and established a battery in an island belonging to the Duchy of Mantua from which it could fire on Ficarolo to cover the landing of his troops. The Imperialists were still ignoring the legate's request to leave the territory of the Papal States.

On the night of 17 to 18 June, the Grand Prieur open the trench between the dyke and the Po, within musket range from the entrenchments of Serravalle.

On June 18, G.d.C. Leiningen arrived at Ostiglia to assume command of Imperialist troops in Lombardy.

By 20 June, the trench in front of Serravalle had reached the foot of the glacis. The Grand Prieur then resolved to send a corps against Lago Scuro. He visited Saint-Frémont at his camp to organise this attack. On the same occasion, he brought a reinforcement of 1 bn to Saint-Frémont It was determined that Saint-Frémont would pass the Po with 7 bns and make a demonstration against Ficarolo while boats would land other troops at Lago Scuro. Meanwhile, the Grand Prieur would march from his camp at Libiola with 5 bns and 10 sqns and would effect a junction with Saint-Frémont's 6 sqns and pass the Po on a bridge built with the boats. Once all troops (12 bns, 16 sqns) assembled near Ficarolo, on the left bank of the Po, they would advance against the Imperialists. During this time, M. de Praslin would continue the siege of Serravalle with 7 bns and 10 sqns.

On 23 June, before putting his project to execution, the Grand Prieur sent Saint-Frémont to meet with the Legate of Ferrara and convince him to insist on the evacuation of the Papal States by the Imperialists without more success than before.

On the night of 23 to 24 June, Saint-Frémont sent 800 men under brigadiers Solre and Cadrieu from Quatrelle, on board the two galiots commanded by M. de Laubépin and on various boats, to make a demonstration against Ficarolo. However, the Imperial garrison under M. de Visconti had not enough time to prepare defence and the French detachment landed and made itself master of Ficarolo, capturing 22 cavalrymen, 2 artillery pieces, 100 horses, mules and a large quantity of equipment. Visconti retired behind a canal near Ficarolo. Informed of the success of the attack on Ficarolo, the Grand Prieur sent the rest of Saint-Frémont's infantry and 3 cavalry rgts under MM. de Chaumont and d'Hérouville across the Po. He also instructed M. de Praslin to march from the camp of Libiola with 5 bns and 10 sqns.

In the afternoon of 24 June, the Imperialists evacuated the towers and the entrenchments of Serravalle, demolishing the towers before leaving. The garrison of Mirandola was now abandoned to its fate. In the evening, Praslin's Corps arrived at Quatrelle. By that time, the garrison, still under Colonel Lothar Joseph Count Königsegg, consisted of 1,528 foot and 13 horse (from this total, 623 men were sick and unfit for duty):

In the night of 24 to 25 June, Leiningen’s Army continued its retreat by way of Bergantino and Zelo to Baruchella.

The Imperialists retire on Trento

On 25 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Praslin's Corps crossed the Po on two boat bridges and joined the Grand Prieur at Ficarolo. The latter was now at the head of 12 bns and 16 sqns.
    • Saint-Frémont followed the retiring Imperial forces with 600 foot, reaching Sariano.
  • Imperialists
    • Leiningen’s Army encamped between Zelon on the Tartaro River and Baruchella.
    • Visconti’s Corps, which was retiring from Serravalle, made a junction with Leiningen’s Army.
    • Other Imperialist detachment arriving from Ponte Molino and Ostiglia (including 14 heavy artillery pieces, 50 field pieces, 46 wagons) joined the army there.

On 26 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Saint-Frémont advanced to the bank of the Tartaro. He took post at Ceneselli to observe the movements of Leiningen’s Army and cover the army.
  • Imperialists
    • The Imperialists had broken and burned their two bridges at Zelo and were constructing two new ones on the Canalbianco and on the Adige to have a line of retreat towards Venetian territory. Frémont
    • Leiningen’s Army crossed the Canalbianco and encamped near Villabona.
    • Colonel Falkenstein remained on the Canalbianco with a cavalry detachment.

In the night of 26 to 27 June, the Imperialists threw a bridge on the Adige River, while the passages near Zelo and Baruchella were broken or burned down. The train crossed the Adige.

On 27 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur marched to Castelmassa, in Venetian territory, where his vanguard under Saint-Frémont joined the main army.
  • Imperialists
    • Leiningen’s Army crossed the Adige River and marched to Nichesola.

On 28 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur sent part of his army to Melara and another to Ostiglia where it effected a junction with Praslin's siege corps. After the capture of Serravalle, Praslin had built a bridge between Ostiglia and Revere.

When Leiningen was informed that the French planned to march towards Nogara and that some French troops were posted on the Upper Mincio, he sent Colonel Baron von Elz to Innsbruck to assemble 2 or 3 milita bns and to occupy Rivoli with part of this force. He also instructed Colonel Baron Zum Jungen, who covered the Trentino with Jungen Infantry (1,480 men), to guard the passages at Monte Baldo and along Lake Garda.

On 29 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Saint-Frémont repassed the Po on the bridge at Ostiglia with 5 bns and 4 sqns to make the blockade of Mirandola.
    • The Grand Prieur assembled 15 bns, including 2 bns recalled from Mantua, and 25 sqns.
  • Imperialists
    • Leiningen’s Army marched upstream along the Adige to Albaredo, in the direction of Verona.
    • FML Visconti was sent to Rivoli with a strong cavalry detachment to make a junction with Zum Jungen’s detachment and occupy the defile.
    • Leiningen decided to send his baggage and train by way of Vicenza and the Val-Sugana to Trient (present-day Trento).
  • Venetians
    • General Molino, who represented the Republic of Venice at Verona accommodated the Imperialists, supplying 200 oxen for transport up to the frontier.

On 30 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur marched by Ponte Molino and encamped at Nogara.
  • Imperialists
    • Leiningen marched with his infantry, his cavalry, 10 field artillery pieces, 21 requisitioned wagons, and 1 mineur coy to San Martino (more precisely San Martino Buon Albergo), where he would stay until 4 July to cover the retreat of his train and baggage.
    • The rest of the artillery and the train under Major Fichter of the Vaubonne Dragoons by way of Vicenza, Bassano, Primolano and Levico to Trient. This convoy was escorted by 200 hayducks and 100 horse. Baggage, escorted by 30 horse, followed this column.
    • Several small detachments under Lieutenant-Colonel Davia crossed the Adige and reconnoitred towards Isola della Scala.

On 1 July, the Grand Prieur detached M. de Capi with 500 horse towards the Adige.

On 2 July, the Grand Prieur was informed that Leiningen had reached Pescantinato to the north-west of Verona and that he had assembled boats to throw a bridge on the Adige.

On 3 July, the Grand Prieur marched from Nogara to Isola della Scala where he sojourned a few days to make arrangement with the Provveditore of the Republic of Venice to determine how his army would get its subsistence while in the estates of the republic.

On 4 July, Leiningen’s Army marched from San Martino to Pescantina.

On 5 July, Leiningen Army reached the Chiusa (unidentified location).

On 6 July, Leiningen Army encamped near Rivoli. Leiningen established his headquarters at Ala.

On 7 July, the Grand Prieur marched to Cà di David (unidentified location) where he was informed that Leiningen was retiring towards Trient to await reinforcements.

The Grand Prieur, having driven the Imperialists out of Lombardy, decided to send part of his troops to Piedmont to assist his brother, the Duc de Vendôme.

On 13 July, the Grand Prieur returned to Isola della Scala where he established his camp.

By 19 July, the artillery train and baggage of Leiningen’s Army had all reached Trient.

On 21 July

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur sent the promised reinforcements (5 bns and 7 sqns) towards Piedmont. Meanwhile, he stationed 5 bns in Ostiglia, Ponte Molino, Serravalle, Revere and Modena; and 2 bns on the Mincio. He kept 10 bns and 18 sqns with him.
    • Saint-Frémont commanded 5 bns and 4 sqns for the blockade of Mirandola.

As soon as he arrived in front of Mirandola, Saint-Frémont vainly summoned the Count von Königsegg to surrender. Königsegg, who was at the head of 1,400 men, even sent detachments to occupy outposts around Mirandola, mainly at the village of San Martino located on the canal coming from Concordia. Saint-Frémont forced these detachments to take refuge in Mirandola. Saint-Frémont then erected five forts and three redoubts forming a circumvallation around Mirandola from Quarantoli on the Burana to San Martino. To build this circumvallation, he employed 1,500 militiamen from the principalities of Modena and Mirandola under the supervision of the Baron d'Estrick. Saint-Frémont considered to bombard the city but he could not get enough ammunition from the arsenals of Mantua, Milan, Pavia and Modena.

On 24 July, G.d.C. Leiningen called a council of war to determine the necessary measures to reorganise and prepare the army. Despite the advantages of the current positions near Rivoli, it was decided to retire to the region of Borghetto and Ala so that troops could enjoy good quarters and richer pastures. The cavalry would be relocated to the alpine pastures of Monte Baldo, in the Val Sarca, near Torboli and Arco, to spare the hay magazines. The measures were immediately taken. An advance guard was maintained at Rivoli and Lieutenant-Colonel Saint-Amour was sent forwards to Pescantina.

Now master of Lombardy, the Grand Prieur initiated negotiations with the Republic of Venice, hoping to convince its senate to join the French alliance. The senate declared that it would negotiate only directly with the French Court. Furthermore, Louis XIV dissatisfied by the behaviour of the Grand Prieur in these negotiations ordered him to stop meddling in political affairs.

In the first days of August, the Grand Prieur made himself master of all bridges on the Adige down to Legnano and established an entrenched camp, occupied by 60 men, at Zevio on the left bank of the river.

A few days later, Leiningen sent a detachment to attack and capture the entrenchments at Zevio, taking 1 officer and 30 men prisoners.

Soon afterwards, the Grand Prieur reoccupied the entrenched camp at Zevio.

The Grand Prieur then received a letter from Louis XIV ordering him to evacuate Sanguinetto and all other posts which he occupied in Venetian territory, which were not militarily important.

The Grand Prieur evacuated Sanguinetto and abandoned his entrenched outpost at Zevio. Nevertheless, he wrote to the king to represent the importance of maintaining his line of defence on the Adige when he had to defend such a large territory with such a small army.

Confrontation in the region of Brescia

Order of Battle
Order of battle of the Imperialist Army of Lombardy at the end of July

When Louis XIV was informed of the results of the disastrous Battle of Blenheim on the Danube (fought on 13 August), he feared for his armies in Italy. He immediately ordered the Duc de Vendôme to send back 10 bns and 12 sqns to the Grand Prieur.

On 26 August, the Duc de Vendôme sent 13 sqns to join the Grand Prieur in his camp at Isola della Scala. However, he retained the infantry which he badly needed to complete the siege of Ivrea.

On 1 September, the Grand Prieur retired westwards from his camp at Isola della Scala and marched to Castiglione Mantovano.

On 3 September, the Grand Prieur passed the Mincio and encamped at Goito, in a position where he could watch Lake Garda, the Po River and the Mincio River.

On 4 September, the Grand Prieur was informed that the Count von Leiningen had already received reinforcements and was now at the head of an army of 10,000 men near Trient with another detachment of 1,000 horse at Riva and near Verona; that General Guttenstein was on his way from Tyrol with an additional 3,000 men (Gschwind Infantry and Rheingraf Infantry); that 3,000 recruits and 1,500 remounts were on their way from Germany. He also received intelligence that Leiningen intended to re-enter into Italy by the Rocca d'Anfo between Lake Garda and Lake Idro.

On 6 September, Leiningen detached Colonel Zumjungen to reconnoitre the location to establish a camp near Riva,

On 8 September, the Grand Prieur de Vendôme took position at Ceresara between Goito and Castel Goffredo. He had recalled 2 bns from the blockade of Mirandola and been joined by the 13 sqns recently sent to him from Piedmont by his brother, the Duc de Vendôme. The Grand Prieur was now at the head of 12 bns and 31 sqns.

On 13 September, the Count von Leiningen advanced with all his troops into the region of Brescia. He assembled his cavalry at Lodrone at the head of Lake Idro and his artillery embarked at Riva on Lake Garda and was transported to Salò. Lieutenant-Colonel Davia advanced to the Mincio to reconnoitre the enemy positions. Leiningen, who was ill, remained at Riva.

On 17 September, the Grand Prieur was informed of Leiningen's advance in the region of Brescia and of the arrival of Guttenstein and his 3,000 men who had effected a junction with Leiningen's Army (now counting more than 12,000 men). He also received intelligence that Leiningen planned to lay siege to Castiglione delle Stiviere. Accordingly, he sent supply to the place.

On 19 September, the Grand Prieur sent 1 bn and 2 grenadier coys under M. de Chaumont to reinforce Castiglione.

On 20 September, Leiningen’s infantry marched to Torbole from where it would be transported by boats to Salò.

On 21 September, the Grand Prieur decamped from Ceresara and marched forward to Medole to better cover Castiglione delle Stiviere, Goito and Mantua. However, he had not enough troops to guard all débouchés in the plain. He also assembled boats for a bridge at Marcaria on the Oglio and sent a detachment of 50 horse towards Ponte San Marco to reconnoitre Leiningen's positions. This detachment was intercepted by Davia’s detachment and defeated. In this action the Imperialists lost 2 men killed and 7 wounded; the French 5 officers and 22 troopers killed.

On 23 September, Leiningen’s cavalry advanced from Lodrone, crossed the border of the Republic of Venice and entered into the region of Brescia.

On 24 September, Leiningen's cavalry reached Rocca d'Anfo.

On 26 September

  • Imperialists
    • Leiningen's cavalry encamped at Villanuova near Gavardo on the Chiese, at the débouché in the plain, where it was joined by part of his infantry. The rest of his infantry and his artillery were still on the shores of Lake Garda.
    • Leiningen then rejoined his army.
    • Reventlau Infantry joined Leiningen’s Army.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand-Prieur was waiting at Medole for the reinforcements promised by the Duc de Vendôme and by the Prince de Vaudémont. He recalled another bn from the blockade of Mirandola. He also received 4 Spanish cavalry rgts (totalling only 300 horse) from the Prince de Vaudémont.

On 1 October, the Duc de Vendôme sent 3 bns from Ivrea towards Lombardy. They embarked at Pavia and were transported downstream on the Po 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.

While awaiting these reinforcements, the Grand Prieur decided to remain at Medole even if the Duc de Vendôme insisted that he should march forwards to contain Leiningen in the mountains. Meanwhile, Louis XIV decided to sent 6 new bns from France through Genoa and to order to 4 bns stationed in Naples to march to Lombardy. But these reinforcements could not reach the army of the Grand Prieur before many weeks.

On 3 October

  • Imperialists
    • Leiningen marched from Gavardo to Goglione (unidentified location) where he built entrenchments.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Grand Prieur had received intelligence that Leiningen did not consider that he was ready to advance on the Oglio or on the Adda. The Grand Prieur then resolved to march to the enemy as soon as he would have received the 3 bns and the 4 Spanish cavalry rgts sent to him. However, the Court once more urged him to remain on the defensive.

On 15 October, the last battalion of Gschwind Infantry arrived at Leiningen’s camp.

On 17 October, the rest of Leiningen's army joined him at Goglione. He was now at the head of 10,396 men, 1,485 mounted cavalrymen and 1,259 cavalrymen without horses. He sent detachments to Nuvolento and Nuvolera, on the road to Ponte San Marco and Brescia.

On 21 October, Leiningen recalled his detachments posted at Nuvolento and Nuvolera and concentrated his army at Goglione and Paitone. He also dismantled his ovens at Maderno on Lake Garda and had new ones built at Goglione.

On 24 October, FM Starhemberg once more wrote to Leiningen, urging him to act against the army of the Grand Prieur.

Despite his numerical superiority, the Count von Leiningen had been unable to enter into the plain of Lombardy. The Grand Prieur de Vendôme, even if he was at the head of only 13 bns and 31 sqns, reduced by sickness to only 6,000 men, managed to contain Leiningen in his camp near Gavardo.

On 26 October, the Grand Prieur finally received the expected reinforcements at his camp of Medole. He was now at the head of 22 bns and 39 sqns but, because of illness, they counted only 7,000 foot and 3,900 horse.

On 29 October, the Grand Prieur set off from Medole and marched to Montichiari. He then reconnoitred Leiningen's positions with their right anchored on a small canal near Paitone, their left at Goglione on the Chiese River and their front covered by another small canal. He considered these positions unassailable.

On 5 November, a large supply convoy arrived at the camp of the Grand Prieur at Montichiari.

The Grand Prieur then reinforced the blockade of Mirandola with 4 bns and 5 sqns.

On 14 November, the Grand Prieur occupied the Castle of Calcinato, close to Leiningen outposts, with 5 bns and 4 sqns. He then placed this detachment under the command of M. de Langallerie. He also sent M. de Ceberet with 2 bns and 7 sqns to occupy Carpenedolo.

On 15 November, the Grand Prieur sent away troops destined to winter in the duchies of Mantua and Modena and sent reinforcements for the blockade of Mirandola.

In mid-November, the Imperialists took up their winter-quarters. The cavalry, under FML Serényi, was quartered between San Osseto and Brescia. The Hayducks rgts were charged to guard the quarters. The rest of the infantry took up its quarters from Sopraponte, by way of Gavardo and Salò, up to Maderno. The artillery was posted behind the infantry and the headquarters were established in Goglione. There were magazines in Villanova and Gavardo.

On 20 November, the Venetians authorised the Grand Prieur to put troops in the Castle of Montichiari.

On 21 November, Leiningen occupied Salò with 5 bns from Guttenstein Infantry, Jungen Infantry and Guido Starhemberg Infantry under Colonel Zum Jungen. On November 24, the Grand Prieur set off from his camp at Montichiari with the rest of his army and marched to Castiglione delle Stiviere, leaving only 3 bns and 5 sqns at Montichiari under the command of M. de Miroménil.

The Grand Prieur still wanted to make himself master of Desenzano, which was occupied by 300 Venetians, and to arm a few boats on Lake Garda to cut the lines of communications of the Imperialists

On the night of 24 to 25 November, the Grand Prieur detached the Comte d'Estrades (4 bns, 5 sqns) towards Desenzano.

On 25 November at daybreak, the Comte d'Estrades appeared in front of Desenzano and made himself master of the town. At 9:00 a.m., the Grand Prieur arrived with another 5 sqns. The Venetian garrison had retired into the castle but soon asked to capitulate. Since it was a market day, the French captured many boats in the harbour and armed the largest ones (each with 7 guns). These boats were manned by the crews of the galiots of the Po. The Grand Prieur then returned to Castiglione with his troops to the exception of 4 bns and 3 sqns left behind to garrison the town and castle of Desenzano under the command of the Comte d'Estrades.

On 26 November, the Grand Prieur sent 4 grenadier coys and 300 men to reinforce d'Estrades at Desenzano.

On 28 and 29 November, the rest of the army of the Grand Prieur took its winter-quarters:

  • 17 bns and 24 sqns in the region of Brescia, who could be assembled within 24 hours
  • 14 bns and 19 sqns on the Upper Oglio, in the Duchy of Mantua, in the Duchy of Modena and at the blockade of Mirandola
  • headquarters at Castiglione delle Stiviere

On 29 November, Venetian peasants assembled at Desenzano and marched on Salò, in protest of the occupation of this town by the Imperialists. Leiningen sent 200 horse to reinforce the garrison of Salò and occupied the Island of San Francesco on Lake Garda.

The Imperialists extended their quarters on their right up to Lake Iseo, where they sent their cavalry, and anchored their left at Salò to allow arrival of supply from Lake Garda. The French were still arming their boats at Desenzano and could not yet interdict transportation on the lake.

On 2 December, Leiningen represented to the Venetian General Molino his disapproval of the attitude of Venice towards the Imperialists.

On 5 December

  • Imperialists
    • Leiningen sent an additional reinforcement of 2 bns to Salò.
    • Colonel Battée crossed the Tyrolean border with 150 horse and 50 hussars.

On 6 December, the Grand Prieur detached M. de Lautrec with 1,000 horse to Palazzolo on the Upper Oglio to prevent Leiningen's cavalry from foraging in the region of Brescia.

On 8 December

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Lautrec's detachment arrived at Soncino where it forded the Oglio.
    • 11 sqns belonging to the army of the Duc de Vendôme, set off from Verrua to reinforce the Grand Prieur in Lombardy.
  • Imperialists
    • Battée’s detachment reached Pontelagoscuro, where it planned to cross the Po and march towards Mirandola. However, it was not authorised to move through the Papal States and had to retire to Tyrol.

On 11 December, Lautrec's detachment then advanced upstream to Castrezzato near Chiari. Lautrec sent orders to all communities interdicting them to supply any provision to the Imperialists. He then returned to Soncino with his detachment and occupied the Castle of Barco to get a passage on the Oglio.

M de Bissy, commanding at Mantua, was then informed that an Imperialist detachment of 2,000 men was marching from the region of Trento downstream along the Adige, intending to cross the Po and to relieve Mirandola. He detached M. de Tavagny with a few troops and the militia of Mantua to defend the crossing of the Po between Stellata and Revere. The Grand Prieur also instructed M. d'Esclainvilliers, commanding the blockade of Mirandola, to reinforce his corps with a few detachments of his own forces. In fact the Imperialist detachment counted only 500 horse. It was unable to cross the Po and returned to Verona where it was joined by 500 men. It then took position in the villages of Garda, Bardolino and San Viglio (unidentified location), to ease transportation of fodder from the regions of Vicenza and Verona to Leiningen's Army.

On 20 December, M. de Medavi, who had been sent to Lombardy by the Duc de Vendôme to assist the Grand Prieur, went to Soncino where Lautrec's detachment was posted.

On 22 December, the 11 sqns previously sent from Verrua under the command of M. de Broglie arrived at Soncino. A Spanish bn sent by the Prince de Vaudémont also arrived at Soncino.

Medavi then marched upstream along the Oglio towards Palazzolo, threatened by the Imperialists.

On 24 December, the Grand Prieur occupied the Island of Sermione on Lake Garda to serve as depot for the fleet of M. de Laubépin, which had started to harass the communications of the Imperialists on this lake.

On 28 December, Medavi crossed the Oglio on the bridge of Palazzolo and made himself master of the town with 2,000 horse and 1 Spanish bn.


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, 188, 203-205, 232, 272-273, 286, 310-357
  • Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 6, Vienna 1879, pp. 270-308
  • Spanish Succession, War of the, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (c1910-1922), Vol. 25, p. 601