melegnanoBetween the 4th and the 24th of June, no engagement of any magnitude was fought in Lombardy except the attack on Benedek at Melegnano, a battle in which the French lost most men, and gained no strategical advantage. It was supposed to have been fought because Napoleon I. had gained a victory in the same neighbourhood.
With two fights organised at Melegnano, Napoleon III was firstly trying to prevent imperial troops to retain a major military stronghold near Milan, as well as to induce the Austrians to believe that the franco-Piedmonts had intention to move to Northern Lombardy, closing the fronts of Como and Lecco (while Napoleon III went directly to Brescia ).
The delicate preparations that had been prepared, but were largely disregarded by both sides because of the many events that they changed the course of the story of this war, this pertained to General Mac Mahon being blocked by muddy countryside that had slowed his columns.
In an attempt to resist a French attack that was of considerable size, the field marshal von Berger, Commander in the field of Austrian armed during the operations, had prepared the fortification of strategic locations at the cemetery of Melegnano,with a long moat dug by the Austrians, who took position in dwellings surrounding it, where they obtained several vantage points; major work was the construction of an emplacement to accommodate heavy guns .
The Austrian Brigade troops of the "Roden" were placed inside the Citadel and around 17.00 the Austrian cavalry, rode until Zivido and signalled the presence of the French troops at the nearby town of San Giuliano Milanese.
bazaine Widowed by the suicide of his wife, in 1865 he remarried a Mexican lady from a rich family close to the deposed president, who encouraged him to plot against Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg. Faced with American intervention, the French expeditionary corps was forced to withdraw; Bazaine would remain with his men until the evacuation to Vera Cruz was complete in 1867.Although on his return to France he was out of favour with Napoleon III, in 1869 his great popularity secured him the command of the Imperial Guard and in 1870 that of the third Army of the Rhine. The superiority in numbers of the German army, which was better equipped and trained, quickly overcame the Imperial Army. Following the defeat at Spicheren, Bazaine decided to maintain a strategic position. His colonial experience was, however, ineffectual. Indecisive and anxious, the Marshal let himself become surrounded in Metz (18th August) by Constantin von Alvensleben, who launched two corps of troops in an attack on the area, lasting two days. The requested reinforcements were slow to arrive. Torn between his duty to obey his hierarchy and constantly at variance with decisions linked to a power in which he no longer believed, and going along with the force that had come to "liberate France from herself", Bazaine decided to wait for Marshal Mac-Mahon's army from Châlons.Learning of the surrender of Napoleon III at Sedan (2nd September), he tried to act as mediator for France, wasting time in pursuit of this goal negotiating with Empress Eugénie, before finally being forced into an unconditional surrender on the 27th October 1870. The Germans took some 140,000 men prisoner from the Army of theRhine
french staff 1859
eat trad dishes here at the osteris del ponente in melegnano. price around 30 pounds.
The French, defeated the first Austrian resistance, under the command of General Achille Bazaine,then proceeded on the road towards Milan until 6 p.m.
when they arrived at about 1 km from the city of Mons. No aid was provided by Mac Mahon (who came from the clashes of Magenta, ) because as mentioned above had remained mired in the mud due to the heavy rains of the previous days, he tried every move to try to bring aid to the French at Melegnano as some artillery pieces pulled across ploughed fields by oxen and horses, but without success. Simultaneously on the opposite side, General Neil waited for Mac Mahon to signal the beginning of the attackAt 18.00 thjere officially began the infantry attack since General Baraguey d'Hilliers had considered it useless to bombard the city in the hope that the enemy surrendered, he focused principally on the strongholds of artillery . After 30 minutes of attack with firing rifles the Bazaine Division began the assault with the bayonet in an attempt to capture the town.
The onslaught of the
Austrian troops were at this point in the battle concentrated essentially on the right bank of river Lambro, while the avant-garde French proceeded towards the village of Melegnano.
The cemetery of Melegnano (that once stood in place but today occupied by the Ossuary erected in memory of the battle of 1859) was located outside the city walls and was a large quadrilateral fenced in by a tall brick wall , along the main road.. So the Austrians (as had happened to Magenta) had barricaded within the wall of the cemetery with the 11th Regiment "Prince of Saxony" and with a company of Hunters of the Emperor they aimed their rifles against the Zouave of the 33th line infantry regiment, commanded by Colonel Bordas. The fury of the attack failed twice but the Austrians were finally forced to surrender after a half-hour fighting because of too many losses . French losses were Also extremely heavy among the ranks and among the officers. At the end of these clashes, the Austrians were forced to retreat to centralise the defenses, while at the same day of the battle of Mons, Napoleon III and Vittorio Emanuele II entered Milan.benedek
The Austrians retreated to the Mincio, destroying the bridges over the Adda, Serio, Oglio and Mella as they went; these rivers the allies had to make repassable, which is the excuse given for the dilatory nature of their pursuit of the enemy. The Emperor Francis Joseph had now assumed the command, with Hess as his principle adviser, and Wimpffen and Schlick, famous as the 'One-eyed,' as heads of the two great corps into which the army was divided. (Schlick right)
On the 22nd of June, the Austrians were ranged along the left bank of the Mincio from Peschiera to Mantua, and the French were massed near Montechiaro, on the Brescia road, which Napoleon had made his headquarters.
In withdrawing all their men from the right bank of the river, the Austrians desired to create the impression that they had finally abandoned it. It was their plan, which did not lack boldness, to throw the whole army back upon the right bank, and to perform a concentric movement on Montechiaro, where they hoped to fall unawares on the French and destroy them.
They were confident of success, for they knew what a good stand they had made at Magenta, and now that Gyulai was got rid of, and the young Emperor had taken the field, they did not doubt that fortune would turn her wheel.
austrian artillery 1848
Even the soberest writers have not resisted making some reference to the magnificent scene of to-morrow's battle. On one side, the mountain bulwarks rising tier on tier, gorgeous with the trancendent beauty of colour and light of the Italian summer; on the other, the vine-clad hillocks which fall gently away from the blue lake of Garda till they are lost in the
The 24th of June was to decide how much longer the Lombard peasant should labour to fill a stranger's treasury.
The calculations of the Austrians were founded on the slowness which had hitherto characterised Napoleon's movements. Hess thought that two days might be safely allowed for the Austrian advance, and that the enemy would remain passive on the west bank of the river Chiese(below)waiting to be attacked on the 25th.
If the operation could have been performed in one day, and it is thought that it could, there would have been more prospect of success. But even then, the original plan of attacking the allies west of the Chiese could not have been carried out, as on the 23rd the whole allied army moved forward, the French occupying Castiglione and Lonato, and the Sardinians Rezzato and Desenzano, on the lake of Garda.
It is not clear how far the allies believed in the Austrian advance; that they had warning of it from several quarters is certain. For instance, a gentleman living at Desenzano heard from the country people, who, for marketing or other purposes, constantly go to and fro between that place and Peschiera, that the Austrians had ordered a quantity of country carts and transport waggons to be in readiness on the 23rd, and he hastened with the intelligence to the Piedmontese General Delia Rocca, who, in a fine spirit of red-tapism, pooh-poohed the information.
The French encountered several Austrian patrols in the course of the day, but they were inclined to think that the Austrians were only executing a reconnaissance. On the whole, it seems that the conflict came as a surprise to both sides