Army of the Alps

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Insignia of the Army of the Alps during World War II

The Army of the Alps (Armée des Alpes) was one of the French Revolutionary armies. It existed from 1792–1797 and from July to August 1799, and the name was also used on and off until 1939 for France's army on its border with Italy.

1792–1797[edit]

The Army of the Alps was created by a decree of the French Convention on 1 October 1792 which divided the Army of the Midi into the Army of the Alps and the Army of the Pyrenees. On 1 November 1793 it was itself divided into the Army of Savoy and the Army of Italy by a conseil exécutif decree.

Following the decrees of 27–29 November 1793 which brought Savoy into the First French Republic under the name of Mont-Blanc department the Army of Savoy was renamed the Army of the Alps, before having the Army before Lyon split off from it between 8 August and 29 October 1793. The Army of the Alps was suppressed by a decree of 21 August 1797 (21 Fructidor year V), put into effect on 13 September, with its men and theatre transferred to the Army of Italy.

1799[edit]

Created on 27 July 1799, this incarnation of the Army of the Alps only lasted until 29 August 1799, when it was merged into the Army of Italy.

Generals[edit]

Army of the Alps

Army of Savoy

Army of the Alps

1815[edit]

During the Hundred Days, Napoleon activated the Army of the Alps and placed it under the command of Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet. The force consisted on two regular infantry divisions, one cavalry division, three national guard divisions, and attached artillery. Philibert Jean-Baptiste Curial led the 10-battalion strong 23rd Infantry Division. Jean Mesclop's brigade was made up of three battalions of the 7th Line and two battalions of the 14th Line Infantry Regiment. Jean Louis Eloi Bouvard's brigade comprised three battalions of the 20th Line and two battalions of the 24th Line. Joseph Marie, Count Dessaix commanded the 24th Infantry Division with seven battalions in two brigades. Jean Montfalcon's brigade had three battalions of the 67th Line. Jean Revest's brigade included two battalions each of the 42nd Line and 53rd Line. François Jean Baptiste Quesnel led a cavalry division consisting of only one brigade. Bernard Meyer de Schauensee's brigade consisted of the 10th Chasseurs à Cheval and 18th Dragoon Regiments. The 5th, 6th, and 7th National Guard Divisions were led by Théodore Chabert, Claude Marie Pannetier, and Jean-Pierre Maransin, respectively. The artillery included six foot batteries from the 4th Artillery Regiment and one battery from the 4th Horse Artillery Regiment.[1]

Twentieth century[edit]

In the mid-twentieth century, the Army of the Alps defended France's southeastern frontier with Italy, manning the Alpine Line fortifications of the Maginot Line. The army's commander was General René Olry, headquartered at Valence. Its chief units were the 14th Army Corps in the SF Savoy and SF Dauphiné (Fortified Sectors), and the 15th Army Corps in the SF Maritime Alps.[2]

The army surrendered to German forces at the end of June 1940 in accordance with the terms of the Second Armistice at Compiègne, having repelled Italian forces in the Italian invasion of France.[3]

On 6 June 1944 the Allies invaded Normandy, France; shortly after French Troops under Jean Lattre De Tassigny invaded the coast of Provence in south of France. Paris was liberated on by 25 August and General DeGaulle was reforming the French Military for the invasion of Germany. De Gaulle was very keen on France playing a major role in the war; as a result General Doyen was recalled to service on 1 Feb 1945. General Doyen's first assignment was to be the Inspector General of Mountain Troops along the Franco-Italian border on 21 March 1945; it was under this command that the French 27th Alpine Division was assigned. In general the French divisions on the Franco-Italian border were grouped into the French Alpine Army and invaded northern Italy. Since Italy invaded France in 1940 and since German troops were on the Italian side of the Franco-Italian border De Gaulle order General Doyen to invade Italy. His army advanced attacking border fortification and taking Cuneo; Valle d'Aosta; Tende; several troops swept into the Italian Riviera and advancing as far as Imperia. Other elements of General Doyen's Alpine Army troops marched as far as Turin, Italy where they met up with American and Brazilian troops coming from the southeast.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schneid 2002, pp. 205–206.
  2. ^ Mary, Tome 5, pp. 4-5
  3. ^ Mary, Jean-Yves; Hohnadel, Alain; Sicard, Jacques (2009). Hommes et Ouvrages de la Ligne Maginot, Tome 4 - La fortification alpine (in French). Histoire & Collections. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-2-915239-46-1. 

Sources[edit]

  • C. Clerget : Tableaux des armées françaises pendant les guerres de la Révolution (Librairie militaire 1905)
  • Schneid, Frederick C. (2002). Napoleon's Italian Campaigns: 1805-1815. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-96875-8.