Battle of Calcinato

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Battle of Calcinato
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
Jean Baptiste Martin Schlacht bei Calcinato 1706.jpg
The Battle of Calcinato by Jean-Baptiste Martin.
Date 19 April 1706
Location near Calcinato, present-day Italy
Result Two Crowns victory
Belligerents
 Kingdom of France
Spain Bourbon Spain
 Habsburg Austria
Commanders and leaders
Duke of Vendôme Christian Detlev Reventlow
Strength
41,000[1] 19,000[1]
Casualties and losses
500 dead or wounded 6,000 dead or wounded[1]

The Battle of Calcinato was fought on 19 April 1706 near Calcinato, Italy, during the War of the Spanish Succession, between the forces of Bourbon France and Spain and those of the Austrian Habsburgs. It ended in a victory for Marshal Vendôme's French and Spanish army.

Prelude[edit]

In Italy the 1706 campaign had, as before, two branches: the contest for Piedmont and the contest between the French forces in Lombardy and the Austrian second army that sought to join Victor Amadeus and Starhemberg in Piedmont. The latter, repulsed by Vendôme at Cassano, had retired to Brescia and Lake Garda, Vendôme following up and wintering about Castiglione and Mantua.

The battle[edit]

On 19 April 1706, Marshal Vendome marched on the Imperial positions at Montichiari and Calcinato, which had posted themselves in well defended but distant positions, with the latter segment of the Prussian-Imperial army separated from the forces near Montichiari by a distance of 3 leagues (a distance which was at that time equivalent, roughly, to 11 km).[2] With the intention of taking the enemy forces by surprise, and with Prince Eugene nicely separated from his men—Reventlow left in temporary command—Vendome had in the days prior feigned sickness to delay Eugene's return[3] , and preceding the battle marched by the cover of night to surprise the enemy. Arriving at the Canal De Lonato, Vandome at day break pushed the advance-guard of the Imperialists beyond the canal, and in doing so captured a Dragoon who reported upon the weak left flank of the Imperialist forces.[4]

Vandome was now in a position to move his forces to isolate and overwhelm the enemy, allowing him to breach the nearly impenetrable posts the Imperialists had constructed for themselves. Thus, having secured in the early morning the bulk of his infantry on the Calcinato-side of the canal, employing a number of hastily constructed bridges to do so, he posted 200 cavalry to possess a hill just beyond the village. However, the Imperialists, noticing this at sunrise, dispatched the entirety of their horsemen to the same spot, and having driven the French cavalry from the position secured it as their own, allowing eight battalions of Imperialist infantry to reach and reinforce the hill before the Marshal could mount his attack.[5]

The French assault finally began, that day, with the march of Vandome's infantry upon the enemy positions. Passing ditches in the presence of enemy fire, the French pushed into a melee on the Imperialist right wing, throwing it into disorder. Similarly, the French bore the charge of the Imperialist left wing without firing a single piece, and fell upon it in turn. The latter charge, supported by Count Reventlow and the Imperial cavalry, in which he instilled the due vigour with which to do battle[6] , inflicted some damage upon the French right, but the continual refreshment of troops to Vandome's army, and the artillery support he had provided himself brought the entirety of the Imperial army to eventually rout, allowing the capture of Calcinato.[7]

Having taken the Imperialist positions, Marshal Vendome acted quickly to take advantage of the disarray into which he had forced his enemy, and skirmished with them past the river Chiese[8] , sending many of the Imperialist forces routing to Rezzato. Similarly, he deployed components of his army to Salò and Gavardo, resulting in an Imperialist rout to the mountains beyond. Many of the retreating Imperial components were not recovered for quite some time, with Prince Eugene's arrival at the scene of the battle offering him a reasonable level of difficulty in the task of reorganizing the remnants of Reventlow's forces.[9]

Casualties[edit]

Numbers concerning French casualties vary, but it's generally agreed that the Imperialists lost 6,000 infantry, with at least 3,000 of those as prisoners to the French, 1,000 horses or more, 6 pieces of cannon, 25 colours, and 12 standards.

Due to the triumphant nature of the victory, the battle was suitably revered by King Louis XIV who wrote, in a letter to Cardinal De Noailles that he “could not hope for a more happy and glorious advantage at the beginning of this campaign than that which my cousin the Duke of Vendome has signally obtained in Italy.”[10]

Aftermath[edit]

Vendôme was sent to Flanders after the crushing defeat there in the Battle of Ramillies. As a result of the disastrous Siege of Turin the French position in Italy deteriorated drastically, and by the end of the year, all French forces had been chased from Italy.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Lynn, p. 309
  2. ^ De Bonneval, Claude (1734). A complete history of the wars in Italy [spurious Mémoires] tr. by J. Sparrow. Oxford University. p. 305. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Banks, John (1742). The History of Francis-Eugene Prince of Savoy ... By an English Officer, who Served Under His Highness in the Last War with France [i.e. John Banks]. The Second Edition, Corrected by the Author. James Hodge 1742. p. 202. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  4. ^ De Bonneval, Claude (1734). A complete history of the wars in Italy [spurious Mémoires] tr. by J. Sparrow. Oxford University. p. 304. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  5. ^ De Bonneval, Claude (1734). A complete history of the wars in Italy [spurious Mémoires] tr. by J. Sparrow. Oxford University. p. 305. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Banks, John (1742). The History of Francis-Eugene Prince of Savoy ... By an English Officer, who Served Under His Highness in the Last War with France [i.e. John Banks]. The Second Edition, Corrected by the Author. James Hodge 1742. p. 202. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Banks, John (1742). The History of Francis-Eugene Prince of Savoy ... By an English Officer, who Served Under His Highness in the Last War with France [i.e. John Banks]. The Second Edition, Corrected by the Author. James Hodge 1742. p. 203. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  8. ^ De Bonneval, Claude (1734). A complete history of the wars in Italy [spurious Mémoires] tr. by J. Sparrow. Oxford University. p. 306. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  9. ^ De Courtilz, Gatien; De Sassenage, Gabriel; De Faget, Gautier (1710). The Memoirs of the Marq. de Langallerier. J. Round, N. Cliff. p. 293. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  10. ^ De Courtilz, Gatien; De Sassenage, Gabriel; De Faget, Gautier (1710). The Memoirs of the Marq. de Langallerier. J. Round, N. Cliff. p. 292. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 

References[edit]

Coordinates: 45°27′00″N 10°25′00″E / 45.4500°N 10.4167°E / 45.4500; 10.4167