Battle of Castiglione (1706)
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Since May 1706 a French army of 48,000 under Louis d'Aubusson de la Feuillade was besieging the Savoy capital Turin, while another army of 44,000 under Louis Joseph de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme barred the Austrians' path from Lake Garda. However Vendôme was recalled to Flanders to restore order after the lost Battle of Ramillies, leaving command to the inexperienced Duke of Orléans. Eugene of Savoy exploited the situation and dashed to Turin, forcing Orléans to split his forces. He left 23,000 men under the Count of Médavy near the Adige in case allied reinforcements appeared from the other side of the Alps.
In fact, a Hessian army under the Crown-Prince of Hessen-Kassel, the future King Frederick I of Sweden, crossed the Alps and besieged Castiglione. Here Médavy attacked and totally defeated the Hessians, inflicting a loss of 8,000 killed, wounded, and missing.
This defeat was a setback for the Hessians, who had won the Battle of Turin the previous day and forced the French out of Milan and Savoy. Now, however, Médavy remained in control of Cremona and Mantua, blocking communications through the Alpine passes, and other French troops still occupied key towns in central Italy; a link-up with the 8,000 Spanish troops in Naples was not impossible.
The allies were divided over how to proceed. The maritime powers insisted on pursuing the fleeing French over the Alps and taking control of the French naval base of Toulon to force Louis XIV to make peace. Emperor Joseph I of Austria was determined to deal with Médavy first, to clear the way for the completion of his Italian plans, which were the permanent conquest of the Spanish possessions of Naples and Sicily.
Louis XIV came to his aid. The French King was desperately short of troops and opened bilateral negotiations with Joseph for safe passage back to France for his remaining troops in Italy. Despite Anglo-Dutch protests, Joseph concluded the convention of Milan with France on 13 March 1707, which permitted the army of Médavy to march unmolested back to France, opening the way to Southern Italy for the Austrian army of Count Wirich Philipp von Daun. He reached the Neapolitan frontier on 22 June, and two weeks later the Spanish troops there, cut off from reinforcements by sea or land, capitulated.
The attack on Toulon materialized on 29 July but by now the French were prepared and strengthened, and the attack was a failure.
- Heritage History, The Spanish Succession
- German Armies War and German Politics 1648-1789 by Peter H.Wilson p.122