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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Jourdan returned a second time


[Sidenote:

1796. BONAPARTE'S CAMPAIGN IN ITALY.]

In January, 1796, an armistice was declared: Spain and Sardinia had already made peace with France, and Austria showed signs of becoming weary of the war. The French Republic, however, found itself greatly strengthened by its military successes: its minister of war, Carnot, and its ambitious young generals, Bonaparte, Moreau, Massena, &c., were winning fame and power by the continuance of hostilities, and the system of making the conquered territory pay all the expenses of the war (in some cases much more), was a great advantage to the French national treasury. Thus the war, undertaken by the Coalition for the destruction of the French Republic, had only strengthened the latter, which was in the best condition for continuing it at a time when the allies (except, perhaps, England) were discouraged, and ready for peace.

The campaign of 1796 was most disastrous to Austria. France had an army under Jourdan on the Lower Rhine, another under Moreau--who had replaced General Pichegru--on the Upper Rhine, and a third under Bonaparte in Italy. The latter began his movement early in April; he promised his unpaid, ragged and badly-fed troops that he would give them Milan in four weeks, and he kept his word. Plunder and victory heightened their faith in his splendid military genius: he advanced with irresistible energy, passing the Po, the Adda at Lodi, subjecting the Venetian Republic,

forming new republican States out of the old Italian Duchies, and driving the Austrians everywhere before him. By the end of the year the latter held only the strong fortress of Mantua.

[Sidenote: 1797.]

The French armies on the Rhine were opposed by an Austrian army of equal strength, commanded by the Archduke Karl, a general of considerable talent, but still governed by the military ideas of a former generation. Instead of attacking, he waited to be attacked; but neither Jourdan nor Moreau allowed him to wait long. The former took possession of the Eastern bank of the Lower Rhine: when the Archduke marched against him, Moreau crossed into Baden and seized the passes of the Black Forest. Then the Archduke, having compelled Jourdan to fall back, met the latter and was defeated. Jourdan returned a second time, Moreau advanced, and all Baden, Wuertemberg, Franconia, and the greater part of Bavaria fell into the hands of the French. These States not only submitted without resistance, but used every exertion to pay enormous contributions to their conquerors. One-fourth of what they gave would have prevented the invasion, and changed the subsequent fate of Germany. Frankfort paid ten millions of florins, Nuremberg three, Bavaria ten, and the other cities and principalities in proportion, besides furnishing enormous quantities of supplies to the French troops. All these countries purchased the neutrality of France, by allowing free passage to the latter, and agreeing further to pay heavy monthly contributions towards the expenses of the war. Even Saxony, which had not been invaded, joined in this agreement.

Towards the end of summer the Archduke twice defeated Jourdan and forced him to retreat across the Rhine. This rendered Moreau's position in Bavaria untenable: closely followed by the Austrians, he accomplished without loss that famous retreat through the Black Forest which is considered a greater achievement than many victories in the annals of war. Thus, at the close of the year 1796, all Germany east of the Rhine, plundered, impoverished and demoralized, was again free from the French. This defeated Bonaparte's plan, which was to advance from Italy through the Tyrol, effect a junction with Moreau in Bavaria, and then march upon Vienna. Nevertheless, he determined to carry out his portion of it, regardless of the fortunes of the other French armies. On the 2d of February, 1797, Mantua surrendered; the Archduke Karl, who had been sent against him, was defeated, and Bonaparte followed with such daring and vigor that by the middle of April he had reached the little town of Leoben, in Styria, only a few days' march from Vienna. Although he had less than 50,000 men, while the Archduke still had about 25,000, and the Austrians, Styrians and Tyrolese, now thoroughly aroused, demanded weapons and leaders, Francis II., instead of encouraging their patriotism and boldly undertaking a movement which might have cut off Bonaparte, began to negotiate for peace. Of course the conqueror dictated his own terms: the preliminaries were settled at once, an armistice followed, and on the 17th of October, 1797, peace was concluded at Campo Formio.


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