Imágenes de páginas

Colli was directed so apply so him for that purpose, and proposed a suspension osarnis, while the peace was negotiating. But he refused to suspend his operations, unless the king delivered two strong towns Into his hands, as pledges of the sincerity of his intentions, and immediately dispatched commissioners to Paris.

The king's situation was so critical, that he was obliged to comply with this requisition, and the French were put in possession of Cava, Coni, and Tortona. The Austrians, thus deprived of their ally, were obliged to fall back on the Milanese. In their march thev attempted to tieze the town of Alellandria, belonging to the king of Sardinia, hut the commandant prevented the execution of this design, and Bcaulicu hastened to crols the Po, in order to cover himself anc! the country to Hie north os that river.

In the mean time, negociations (or peace were carried on at Paris, between the king of Sardinia and the French republic, which imposed severe conditions on this unfortunate pi we. He was constrained' to yield up Savoy, the patrimony of his ancestors for many ages, together with the city and territory of 'Nice, and a tract of land, which (he •conquerors entitled the Department of the Maritime Alps. A new arrangement was made of the frontiers on each side, highly advantageous to Frsncc. He consented lo sop and put an end to all prosecutions against any of his subjects for their political opinions, to withdraw himself from the coalition, and to apologise forhisconduct towards the republic. . Such were the principal terms of the treaty. ,

In this manner was the prince

completely humbled, who had long been considered as the most secure of any, by his position, against the inroads of the French; his predecessors, though frequently hard pressed by then, had never been reducea to such extremities, and never experienced such disgrace. Bv this treaty he was despoiled of all power and consequence; and though he retained the. title of the king, he remained no more than the nominal sovereign os his dominions.

The reduction of the king of Sardinia was an event that changed at once the whole face of. Italy. That prince was no longer master of the barriers that nuture has fixed between that country and France, and from which he derived his principal importance. They were now in the hands of the French, and .the Italian powers, deprived of this rampart of their dominions, (aw themselves at the mercy ofa people,, who had, for many centuries, endeavoured to obtain a looting araongriieia, with the manifest design of subjecting them to their influence.

Th&se astonishing successes could not fail to inspire the French armies, that had obtained them, with the highest degree ot exultation: nor did their comroandcr forget to improve (lie stitiments of (elf applause andconfidence, manifested by them, into that disposition of .mind which wonldJead them on to tho.'e farther exploits he had in contemplation. He issued an address to them on the .twenty-sixth of April, three days after the application for peace from the Sardinian monarch, wherein he recapitulated, in a truly clastical and energetic style, the glory they had acquire*^ and represented that which' lay still' before them.- - .i.>.ii.:-.. .iij '•■"


-You have precipitated your- Our ships at Toulon: the hour of

vlves like a torrent, from the vengeance and retribution is now

5* of the Appennines. You at hand But let the people remain

fee routed and dispersed all who tranquil; we are friends to all he

hteouposed your progress. Pied- people and more particular!) the

E.Mt 'delivered from Austrian ty- descendant* of Brutus, of Scrpio,

mnf displays its natural sentiments and the great men whom we bavfc

„l peace and friendstiip for France. Milan is ours, and the republican hs, Hies over all Lombard). The Me; of Parma and Modena owe their political existence to yonr generosity. The army, which with to each pride threatened you, has no barrier of protection against your murage; the Po, the Tessin, and lie Adda, have been unable to liop you a tingle day; those boasted bulwarks of Italy have been insufficient to delay your progress; you have surmounted them as ra* pidiy as you passed the Appennines. So much success has carried you to the bosom of your country: your representatives' have ordained a fete, dedicated to your victories,.which will be celebrated in all the communes of the republic. Your fathers, your mothers, your avives, your sisters, your lovers, will enjoy your success, and boast with pride, that they belong to you. Yes, soldiers, you have done much ; but does there remain nothing more to be done? Though we have known hew to

taken fo° our models. Re-establish the capital, and place there vvilli honor the statues of the heroes that rendered it celebrated; awaken tbe Roman people, debased by many centuries of slavery. Such will be the fruit os your' victories; they will form an epoch for posterity j you will have the immortal glory of changing the face of the first country in Europe. The free French people, respected by the whole world, will give to Europe a glorious peace, which will indemnify them lor the sacrifices they have made during six years; you will then return to your homes, and your fellow citizens will fay, shewing yon, this man was of the army us Italy."

Such were the ideas which the French general exerted himself to impress upon the public, as well as or) his own people. His private conversations were of the fame tendency, and he omitted no. opportunity of representing the expedition ot'the Irendi'inta Italy, as j}\

[ocr errors]

lo profit ofour victories. Posterity will reproach us with having terminated our course in Lombardy: but already I fee you run to amis; a slothtul repose &tigues you. Let in depaft! we have yet forced marches to make, enemies to subdue, laurels to gather, injuries to revenge Let those tremble who lane whetted the poignards of civil war in France, who have basely allaffmateJ our ministers; Aiul burned

total deliverance of the inhabitant from the government of strangers, and tin- tyranny of dome'lie tutors. Sentiments 'of tjiis description were not unacceptable to multitude3 in every part os Italy. The ma^oritv of the natives could, nor, hut perceive the humiliation of byij:g subject to princes born;aiid.bred in foreign countries:'they could not, from that, k< 1 that attachment for their) .which

they they might have done for native princes.


To the praises bestowed bv Buonaparte on his army, the directory added its acknowledgments to him* and those, of his officers who had signalized themselves in the late actions. It wrote to them separately, specifying, in the most gracious and satisfactory manner, the particular motives for which the thanks of the public were due to them.

This homage paid to their merit, in the name of the nation, by those who were invested with its supreme authority, was received, by the French officers, as the highest honour that could be conferred upon them, to be considered as deserving, of it was now become the summit of their wishes; so effectually had the republican notions of patriot ism taken posleffion of their minds.

The moment aster the suspension of arms between the. French and the king ofSardinia had been signed, Buonaparte lost no time in availing himfell of it to the utmost. He instantly put his army in motion from all quarters, in order to cross the Po, and to render it doubtful to the enemv, by his various movements, at what place he would attempt the pafiage over that river. The Austrian general did not doubt but the French would endeavour to pass it at the townof Valenza, which they had stipulated with the Sardinian ministry, should be ceded to them for that purpose. For this rr-afon, he made every disposition necessary to obstruct their pafiage at this place: but Buonaparte deceived* him; and, by rapid marches, reached she banks of the Po, opposite to the city of Placenza. A body of horse prepared to oppose him; but a chosen corps of French infantry,

having seized a number of boats, rowed to the other side, protected by so heavy a discharge of musketry, that the enemv was obliged to retire, and leave them to land, which they did in the compacted order. This was effect-sd on the seventh of May. As soon as Beaulieu was apprised of i(, equally astonished at an event he had so little expected, and anxious to repair the mistake, he had committed, he selected the best of his troops; with whom he advauccJ on the French, in hope of coming upon them before a Uifficient number could have crossed to secure the passage of the rest: but thev were not only on his side of the river, but marching towards him. On receiving this intelligence, he intrenched himself at Fombio, a village advantageously situated, expecting the arrival of reinforcements: but he was immediately attacked on every side bv the French, who forced him to break up his camp in the utmost disorder, and with the loss of a large quantity of horses and baggage, as well as of men. ,

Another body of Austrians was, in the mean time, liastening to his aid, and came .up wilh the French early the next, morning: but general Laharpe, an . officer of great merit and intrepidity, charged them with such vigour, that they were instantly defeated, and put to flight. The loss of .this officer, who fell on this occasion, was inore than a counterpoise to the success of the French. He was a Swiss by birth; and, being driven from his country, on account of his republican principles, he took refuge in France, and entered into the service of tin* republic, where his military talent* raised.him to the rank of, a general.



He was high in the esteem of Buonaparte, who had formed the greatest expectations from him, and grievously lamented his fall.

The duke of Parma, in whose fiffct, as it were, the French had erased the Po, and defeated the .■Austrians twice in one day, did not dire to prolong the contest on his [art, with so irrefutable a foe. He requested an armistice from Buonaparte, and obtained it on condition ut paying a large contribution in money, horses, and provisions, of delivering into the possession o/ the French, twenty capital paintings to be chosen by them, and of send\kg without delay commissaries to Paris, to conclude a peace with the republic: on these terms the duke procured a neutrality for his dominions, which was concluded on the ninth of May.

The uninterrupted fuccelles of tie French had now struck their er.eaics with universal consternation. Benulieu himself, though an expert aud intrepid warrior, thought it more prudent to act on the deIcr.five, than to attack them with troops continually deleated The bravery of the Austrians, though undeniable, had not been proof against their impetuous valour and unyielding enthusiasm. They seemed to Live reversed the character formerly attributed to them, os impatience and onsteadiness, and to have asliimed that of firmness and constancy.'

Their exploits had now opened to them the road lo Milan, the captare of which would give them the pufleflion of Lombard)-, arid effect the expulsion bf the Austrians from lialy. This was the project of Bnonapnrte, whose glory would be completedbv' tilth an atchiovernent;

and whose thirst os same would thereby be gratified to the utmost extent of his wisties.

Between him and that capital of Austrian Italy lay the remains of the Imperial forces, determined tct risk another battle for its preservation. They were posted on the other side of the Adda, over which stood a long bridge, which Beaulieu. had intended to break down, but was prevented from doing by the quick approach of the French general. It was protected, however, by so numerous an artillery, that the Austrians did not imagine the French would be able to force a 'passage over it.

On the tenth os May, the French'' army arrived in light os this bridge, before which stood the town of Lodi, silled with the Imperial troops, which were also posted in fever* place around it in the most advantageous order of battle that the situation of the town and its environs would admit. Beaulieu hadj! on this occasion, displayed uncommon skill, conscious that, on the issue os this dav, the fate of Austria in Italy wholelv depended, and that, were he defeated, all suture resistance would be vain.

The-battle began at nine in the morning. The approaches to Lodi were vigourously attacked by t\\k' French, who, alter an obstinate dispute, drove the Austrians into that town; where a resolute sight ensued: but the French had again the advantage, and forced them to retreat'' across the bridge to their main bodv, which was drawn up in order:of battle, with formidable batteries on' their right aud left to' guard the"" passage os the bridge. A battery was planted on the opposite side" by the French, and a violent cannonade


nonade wj» kept up, on both sides, during great part of the day.

But the French general was convinced, that unless he Incceeded in effecting a paflage over the bridge, hi,s failure would be construed into a defeat, and the reputation of" the French anus would luster in the opinion of the public. Full of tliis idea, which was certainly well founded, he determined to try every esib,rt, and to encounter every personal risk, in order to carry a point on which so much appeared at issue. Forming together the selcctest bodies of his army, he led them ill person to the attack of the bridge, in the midst of a most tremendous fire. The intrepidity he displayed was ner.eilarv to confirm the courage of his men, whom the greatness of the danger seemed to staggtpl: but his presence, and thai of al! the chief officers in the French armv, animated the soldiers to such a degree, that they ruihed forward wilh an impetuosity which nothing w:as able to withstand. They croft rd the bridge and assailed the whole line of the Austrian artillery, which ■was instantly broken. They fell with equal lury on the troops that advanced lo charge (hem, who were thrown into dilorder, and put to flight on every fide. The victory was complete. Flad it not been for the excessive fatigue undergone bv the French, a great proportion of whom had marched ten leagues that d.i\ to join flic army, the loss •f the imperialists though great

would have been much greater. Jf was owing to the approach of night that the French desisted from the pursuit. Favoured by darknefi, Bcmtlieu withdrew from the field of battle, after losing upwards of two thousand men, killed, wounded, and taken, and twenty pieces of cannon. The loss of" the French was considerable: the crossing of the bridge alone cost them near a thousand of their boldest men, who were destroyed by the batteries pointed on it from the Austrian side of the river.

This defeat of the Imperial armv appeared so decisive to marshal Beaulieu that he durst not venture to stop the progress of the victor; towards Milan. Collecting the wrecks of his armv, he made a speedy retreat towards Mantua, pursued by a large body of the French who, in their way, seized on Pizzighitona and Cremona, two places of note. The main body under Buonaparte proceeded to Milan, aster faking Pavia, where all the Austrian magazines fell into the hand< of the French.

Buonaparte entered Milan the fifteenth of May, five days after the battle of Lodi, which, conformably lo his opinion and that of his rival, Beaulieu, proved wholly decisive of the fate of Lombard*. Here the French general thought it lieceslary to allow his people some days of repose, after the uncealinr; toils of a whole month, marked by uninterrupted victories.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »