|NAPOLEON: First Italian Campaign (1796)|
On March 2, 1796 the Directors of the French Republic appointed Napoleon Bonaparte as the commander-in-chief of the Army of Italy. This was primarily a political manoeuvre, getting the ambitious young artillery commander - recently promoted to general at the age of 26 - out of Paris and relegating him to the most neglected of the French Republic's thirteen principal field armies.
Almost immediately after Napoleon arrived he began a whirlwind campaign in Northern Italy. Within two weeks he defeated the Sardinians in Piedmont. After a brief respite he marched eastward and drove the Austrians out of Lombardy, taking control of Milan.
Napoleon then wanted to pursue the Austrians into Tyrol, but the French Directory in Paris ordered him to swerve south, attacking the Duchy of Parma, the Duchy of Modena, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and the Papal States. In less than a month Napoleon was back in Milan, having successfully achieved the capitulation of the aforementioned territories.
Now more than ever, Napoleon was determined to drive the Austrians out of Italy. His main obstacle, however, was the strongest Austrian base in Italy: the fortress of Mantua. He had begun the siege of Mantua during his southern excursion, and now resumed it with renewed vigor.
Napoleon was able to capture or defeat all armies sent to relieve Mantua, and the city finally surrendured in January, 1797. After a brief southern raid into the Papal States, Napoloen marched north through the Alps towards the gates of Vienna, forcing Austria to sue for peace.
Created by SunTzu. Version 1.0 released May 23, 2010.
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