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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

January 14th, 1797 - The Battle of Rivoli

Updated: Jan 15

Conflict: War of the First Coalition

Combatants: Austrians v. French

Location: Italy

Outcome: French victory

In 1792, concerned over the course of the bloody French Revolution and rising anti-monarchial sentiment, Austria and Prussia formed an alliance and mobilized troops on the borders of France. In April, the French General Assembly declared war on Austria. In March of 1796, Brigadier General Napoleon Bonaparte took command of the French army engaged in fighting the Austrians in Italy.

Napoleon Bonaparte at Rivoli by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux

By January of 1797, the French had heavily besieged the Austrian fortress at Mantua, Italy. General Josef Alvinczy, the Baron von Borberek, deployed 28,000 troops from Trent to offer relief. Napoleon detached 10,000 solders to halt Alvinczy's advance at the plateau of Rivoli. In a complicated coordinated attack on the enemy lines, the Austrians initially pushed the French center back. But by late afternoon, the French has surrounded or destroyed the Austrian flanks. The Austrians abandoned the field.

Bataille de Rivoli by an unknown artist

Napoleon, however, pursued his retreating enemy. When Alvinczy attempted to reorganize his troops, he was assaulted by fresh French infantry under the command of Colonel Joachim Murat. The Austrians lost 4,000 killed or wounded and another 8,000 as prisoners. French casualties were around 3,200.

Points of Interest:

  • Despite his failure to overcome Napoleon in Italy, Alvinczy was promoted to field marshal 1797 and later became the governor of Hungary.

  • The Italian campaign would in October of 1797 with the Treaty of Campo Formio. France gained Belgium, a new northern Italian republic was established, and Austria was given control of Venice.

Bataille de Rivoli les 25 et 26 nivose an 5 by Duplessis-Bertaux & Delignon (Note that the dates here use the French Revolutionary Calendar

Napoleon I of France by Andrea Appiani.jpg



Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).

Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.

Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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