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917
ITALIAN WARS


which was only partially executed), he called on Gyulai for support sent out detachments to the right against the French troops reported at Turbigo, and prepared to hold his ground at Buffalora. On receipt of Clam-Gallas's report at the Austrian headquarters, Hess ordered the resumption of the retreat that he had countermanded, but it was already late and many of the troops did not halt for the night till midnight, June 3rd/4th. Gyulai promised them the 4th as a rest-day, but fortune ordered it otherwise. This much at least was in favour of the Austrians, that when the troops at last reached their assi ned positions four-fifths of them were within 12 m. of the battlefield. But, as before, the greater part of tne army was destined to be chained to “supporting positions " well back from the battlefield.

When day broke on the 4th, the emperor of the French was still uncertain as to Gyulai's whereabouts, and his intention was there-Bawe of fore no more than to secure the passage of the Ticino and M, , gmt, ,, to place his army on both sides of the river, in sufficient strength to make head against Gyulai, whether the latter advanced from Mortara and Vigevano or from Abbiategrasso. He therefore kept back part of the French army and the whole of the Sardinian, But during the morning it became known that Gyulai had passed the Ticino on the evening of the 3rd; and Napoleon then ordered up all his forces to San Martino and Turbigo. The battlefield of Magenta is easily described. It consists of two level plateaux, wholly covered with vineyards, and between them the broad and low-lying valley of the Ticino. This, sharply defined by the bluffs of the adjoining plateaux, is made up of backwaters, channels, water meadows and swampy woods. At Turbigo the band of low ground is is m. wide, at Buffalora 2%. Along the foot of the eastern or Austrian bluffs between Turbigo and Buffalora runs the Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande); this, however, cuts into the plateau itself at the latter place and trending gradually inwards leaves a tongue of high ground separate from the main plateau. The Novara-Milan road and railway, crossing the Ticino by the bridge of San Martino, pass the second obstacle presented by the canal by the New Bridges of Magenta, the Old Bridge being 1000 yards south of these. The canal is bridged at several points between Turbigo and Buffalora, and also at Robecco, 1% m. to the (Austrian) left of the Old Bridge. Clam-Gallas's main line of defence was the canal between Turbigo and the Old Bridge, skirmishers being posted on the tongue of high ground in front of the New Bridges, which were kept open for their retreat. He had been joined by the II. corps and disposed of 40,000 men, 27,000 more being at Abbiategrasso (25 m. S. of Robecco). Of his immediate command, he disposed about 12,000 for the defence of the New Bridges, 12,000 for that of Buffalora, 8000 at Magenta and 8000 at Robecco; all bridges, except the New Bridges, were broken. Cavali? played no rt whatever, and artillery was only used in small orce to fire afbang roads and paths.

Napoleon, as has been mentioned, spent the morning of the 4th in ascertaining that Gyulai had repassed the Ticino. Being desirous merely of securing the passag/QE and having only a small force available for the moment at San artino, he kept this back in the hope that MacMahon's advance from Turbigo on Magenta and Buffalora would dislodge the Austrians. MacMahon advanced in two columns, 2 divisions through Cuggiono and I through Inveruno. The former drove back the Austrian outposts with ease, but on approaching Buffalora found so serious a resistance that MacMahon broke off the fight in order to close up and deploy his full force. Meantime, however, on hearing the cannonade Napoleon had ordered forward Mellinet's division of the Guard on the New Bridges and Buffalora. The bold advance of this corps d'élile carried both points at once, but the masses of the allies who had been retained to meet a possible attack from Mortara and Vigevano were still far distant and M ellinet was practically unsupported. Thus the French, turning towards the Old Bridge, found themselves (3.30 P.M.) involved in a close fight with some 18,000 Austrians, an meantime Gyulai had begun to bring up his III. and VII. corps towards Robecco and (with Hess) had arrived on the held himself. The VII. corps, on its arrival, drove Mellinet back to and over the New Bridges, but the French, now broken up into dense swarms of individual fighters, held on to the tongue of high ground and prevented the Austrians from destroying the bridges, while, the occupants of Buffalora similarly held their own, and beyond them MacMahon, advancing through orchards and vineyards in a line of battle 2 m. long, slowly gained ground towards Magenta. The III. Austrian corps, meanwhile, arriving at Robecco spread out on both sides of the canal and advanced to take the defenders of the New Bridges in rear, but were checked by fresh French troops which arrived from San Martino (4 P.1.). The struggle for the New and Old Bridges continued till 6 P.M., more and more troops being drawn into the vortex, but at last the Austrians, stubbornly defending each vineyard, fell back on Magenta. Bit while nearly all the Austrian reinforcements from the lower Ticino had successively been directed on the bridges, MacMahon had only had to deal with the 8000 men who had originally formed the garrison of Magenta. The small part of the reinforcing troops that had been directed thither by Gyulai before he was aware of the situation, had in consequence no active r6le defined in their orders and (initiative being then regarded as a vice) they stood fast while their comrades were beaten. But it was not until after sunset that the thronging French troops at last broke into Magenta and the victory was won. The splendid Austrian cavalr (always at a disadvantage in Italy) found no opportunity to redsi-ess the balance, and their slow-moving and over-loaded infantry, in spite of its devotion, was no match in broken country for the swift and eager French. The forces engaged were 54,000 French (one-third of the allied army) to 58,000 Austrians (about half of Gyulai's total force). Thus the fears of Napoleon as regards an Austrian attack from Mortara-Vigevano neutralized the bad distribution of his opponent's force, and Magenta was a fair contest of equal numbers. The victory of the French was palpably the consequence not of luck or generalship but of specific superiority in the soldier. The great result of the battle was therefore a conviction, shared by both sides, that in future encounters nothing but exceptional good fortune or skilful generalship could give the Austrians victory. The respective losses were: French 4000 killed and wounded and 600 missing, Austrians 5700 killed and wounded, 4500 missing. While the fighting was prolonged to nightfall, the various corps of the Austrian army had approached, and it was Gyulai's intention to resume the battle next day with 100,000 men. But Clam-Gallas reported that the I. and II. corps were fought out, and thereupon Gyulai resolved to retreat on Cremona and Mantua, leaving the great road Milan-Brescia unused, for the townsmen's patriotism was sharpened by the remembrance of Haynau, " the Hyena of Brescia.” Milan and Pavia were evacuated on the 5th, Hess departed to meet the emperor Francis Joseph (who was coming to take command of the united I. and II. Armies), and although Kuhn was still in favour of the offensive Gyulai decided that the best service he could render was to deliver up the army intact to his sovereign on the Mincio. On the 8th of June Napoleon and Victor Emmanuel made their triumphal entry into Milan, while their corps followed up rather than pursued the retreating enemy along the Lodi and Cremona roads. On the same day, the 8th of June, the I. and II. French ccrps, under the general command of Marshal Baraguay d'Hilliers, attacked an Austrian rearguard (part of VIII. corps, Benedek) at the village of Melegnano. MacMahon with the I II. corps was to turn the right dank, the IV. the left fin? of the defenders, while Baraguay attacked in front. But MacMahon, as at Magenta, deployed into a formal line of battle before closing on the village, and his progress through the vineyards was correspondingly slow. The IV. corps was similarly involved in intricate country, but Baraguay, whose corps had not been present at Magenta, was burning to attack, and being a man aussi dur d ses soldats qu'd lui-méme, he delivered the frontal attack about 6 P.M. without Waiting for the others. This attack, as straightforward, as brusque, and as destitute of tactical refinements as that of the Swiss on that very ground in 1 515 (Marignan), was carried out, without “ preparation, ” by Bazaine's division d la baionnelte. Benedek was dislodged, but retreated safely, having inflicted a loss of over 1000 men on the French, as against 360 in his own command. After Melegnano, as after Magenta, Contact with the retiring enemy was lost, and for a fortnight the story of the war is simply that of a triumphal advance of the allies anda quiet retirement and reorganization of the Austrians. Up to Magenta Napoleon had a well-defined scheme and executed it with vigour. But the fierceness of the battle itself had not a little effect on his strange dreamy character, and although it was proved beyond doubt that under reasonable conditions the French must win in every encounter, their emperor turned his attention to dislodging rather than to destroying the enemy. War clouds were gathering elsewhere-on the Rhine above all. The simple brave promise to free Italy “from the Alps to the Adriatic ” became complicated by many minor issues, and the emperor was well content to let his enemy retire and to accelerate that retirement by manoeuvre as far as might be necessary. He therefore kept on the left of his adversary's routes as before, and about the zoth of June the whole allied army (less Cialdini's Sardinian division, detached to operate on the fringe of the mountain country) was closely grouped around Montechiaro on the Chiese. It now consisted of 107,000 French and 48,000 Sardinians (combatants only).

The Austrians had disappeared into the Quadrilateral, where