Michael von Melas

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Michael von Melas
Grave of Melas and his wife Josefa in Týnec nad Labem

Michael Friedrich Benedikt Baron von Melas (12 May 1729 – 31 May 1806) was a Transylvanian-born field marshal of Saxon descent for the Austrian Empire during the Napoleonic Wars.

He was born in Radeln, Transylvania (nowadays Roadeş, part of Buneşti commune, Romania) in 1729 and joined the Austrian army at age 17. He served in the Seven Years' War as aide de camp for Leopold Josef Graf Daun. He was promoted to colonel in 1781. He fought on the lower Rhine in 1794 and the middle Rhine in 1795.

He later led the Austrian army in Italy during Napoleon Bonaparte's campaigns in Italy, part of the War of the Second Coalition. Serving under Russian field marshal Alexander Suvorov, who commanded Second Coalition forces, he commanded Austrian forces in victories at the battles of Cassano, Trebbia, Novi, Genola and the Siege of Genoa, and came near to another victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Marengo before making the mistake of handing over command to a subordinate for what he thought was the pursuit from the field of a beaten foe. A stand made by the French forces further down the road, and a subsequent counter-attack by the French General Louis Desaix led to a defeat for von Melas' forces. The day after the battle he was compelled to sign the Convention of Alexandria, which gave the rule of Italy up to the Mincio River to Napoleon, the Habsburg Crown's authority being in consequence forced out of Italy.

Von Melas was later a Habsburg commander in Bohemia.

Later life[edit]

Melas retired in 1803, he died in 1806 at Týnec nad Labem, in Bohemia.

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