It is late, all have gone to bed except myself. Arrayed before me are campaign maps and my figures depicting the forces arrayed in the nearby countryside. My opponent has the numerical advantage here…and I cannot get my forces concentrated until tomorrow afternoon. I will have only two divisions and 1,500 cavalry with which to slow him down. It will be a task for heroes tomorrow, I fear…many brave lads will give their all for France before tomorrow is done. Delay, delay and wear them down until my forces can concentrate; that is what must be done.
The enemy has deployed a large force in the woods to the west of Peterbona. We have destroyed a sizable battalion there, and it is rumored that the opponent's Advanced Guard commander, O'Reilly, has been killed. Our skirmishers are making the Austrians pay for each step. This will go a long way toward creating fatigue in the enemy ranks, for which they will suffer later in the battle.
Elsewhere the Austrians are moving heavily towards our right. Their columns have brushed away our skirmishers and the fight begins in earnest. It appears certain that they will push their cavalry to our extreme right to flank us. Our beleaguered cavalry brigade there will not hold long.
Our troops in the center are beginning to show the strain. I have called a general retreat to Marengo, but not before the brave men of France beat off several attacks staving off over 5,000 Austrians with half their number. There we will hold the River Fontanone for another hour. It is hoped that Lannes will reach us soon afterward. We are sending a brigade to Castel Ceriolo to ward off the flank attempt.
The Austrian is moving the majority of his forces to the NE trying to flank me…I will send Lannes to meet this threat. My left is also being pushed by the troops in white. We have but 500 men on that flank trying to thwart over 3,000…brave souls one and all.
Lannes has stopped the advance of the Austrian on the flank. Apparently, his troops' irruption out of the woods has shaken the Austrian. He does not advance but appears to be content to shoot his guns at our troops. We have but 17 guns upon the field, no match for his mass of artillery. The Austrian appears to be groping for a solution, and the field has grown relatively quiet.
The assault on Marengo begins. I do not have the men to resist this effort. We will parlay time, however; perhaps we can gain another hour. I have called for a slow retreat to consolidate my lines and to pick up better defensive terrain.
Marengo has fallen to the Austrian. We are retreating to the woods to the east of Marengo. The Consular Guard should be entering the battlefield shortly…I will place them on the left flank. I still do not have the troops to reconstitute a reserve.
The Austrian cannon have bled Lannes and Watrin's divisions and I must pull them back further from the gunfire. The Austrian hesitates except for his movement of cavalry around the far right flank…I have precious little cavalry to counter this…I will order the sole cavalry regiment on that flank to move back towards the line of communications and the advancing reinforcements. Perhaps, we can entice them into a foolish move.
The Guard is near the left flank and none to soon; the Austrian appears to have started some movement through the forest near Marengo. The Austrian has set up a large collection of batteries east of Marengo to cause disruption of our positions in the woods. Our batteries stationed there are responding in kind.
The Austrians have started a general advance on four fronts! They are advancing on our left along the main road between La Bolla and Longa Fame and from Spinetta (ah, didn't Sargent Fornei lose his stripes from drinking too much of that wine?). The second probe emanates from the direction of Marengo and has the apparent objective of driving us from the woods. The third thrust is aimed at Lannes and Watrin and comes from the direction of Castel Ceriolo. Lastly, his cavalry is advancing on our far right to the east of Villa Nova. However, the Guard Cavalry is in position with their 6 guns to rebuke them.
It appears to me that the Austrian has made several errors in his advance. There is no concentration of mass here, he is willy-nilly expecting that his total force will be able to overwhelm me in one stroke. The Consular Guard is near enough to strike back in the southwest, where we should be able to gain an upper hand by sending the remnants of Chamberla's division to stop this assault.
The second assault is unsupported through the woods…indeed they have left their left flank open so that I can send my cavalry around it and strike into the rear where they have set up their artillery. The batteries in the woods should be able to turn the tide in the woods along with the remnants of Gardanne's division and the 1st Brigade of Watrin's division.
The third assault is completely unsupported. Marmont should arrive with his cannon to bolster this part of the line and even if the line does fail, it will cause great destruction to this assaulting force and give Monnier the time needed to turn them back.
The last will be the trickiest of all. The Austrian has sent 4 times our number of cavalry to that flanking attempt. However, he has them spread out and again has not massed them. Perhaps the 600 cavalry can hold out long enough. I have sent a battery to help out until Boudet arrives.
I believe the next hour could tell the tale of this battle.
The counter-attacks started very successfully. The Guards along with Chamberla's 2nd brigade, supported by the Guard artillery surrounded a very large regiment of Austrians and when all looked bleak they surrendered in mass. We set up firing lines and utterly destroyed a Grenz battalion. Indeed, a series of attacks by this flank have taken many more prisoners and have sent them retreating into the woods. I have directed Chamberla to leave a flank guard and more the mass of his men and the Guards to fall upon the right flank of the second assault.
Kellermann's cavalry charged into the rear echelon of the unprepared Austrians and took two supply trains and two batteries in the first charge. Regrouping as many men as possible, Kellerman saw the unmistakable entourage of Ott himself. Calling upon his troopers he led a daring charge that surrounded the Austrian commander, a battery and another Grenz battalion. All the Austrians were captured. This advance has been halted and the Austrian seems in disarray as his defense is filled with holes that we shall exploit.
The third advanced was met by a hailstorm of gunfire and close range cannon. Monnier is in position to advance en masse on one flank of this advance. We will bag many Austrians in this brave and daring advance. His grenadier battalions have infiltrated the gaps between our infantry positions…right into our gun positions. It is hard to watch as our cannon mow through the rows of white coats. Monnier's troops are cleaning up the wreckage of these units and are now advancing upon the weakly supported Austrian gun line.
The cavalry battle on our far right is looking bleak…we have fought bravely and have bled many Austrian cavalry regiments, but there are so many of them! If only Boudet arrives in time. What's this? A messenger spurring his horse from that direction…all must be lost. "What news have you from Bessières?" I inquire, with slim hope, as the courier dismounts. "First Consul, I bring great news. Bessières and the Guard cavalry have turned over 3,000 cavalry back! The field is littered with their dead at the cost of under 200 troopers."
Indeed, the tide has turned.
The Austrians are turning back on all fronts and are in disarray. We are capturing flags en masse as we advance all along the line. The day is won!
Return to Index