Battle of Romano-Chiusella, 26 May 1800

The battle of Romano-Chiusella (26 May 1800) was a French victory that saw their advance guard under Lannes force the Austrians to retreat from the Chiusella River back towards Turin, and that helped convince the Austrian commanders that Napoleon was heading south towards Genoa.

Portrait of Marshal Jean Lannes, 10 April 1769-1809
Portrait of
Marshal Jean Lannes,
10 April 1769-1809

Having pushed the Austrians out of Ivrea (24 May), Lannes followed them south towards the Chiusella River. His force now contained Watrin's and Boudet's divisions, but he lacked artillery - most of the French guns were still waiting for Fort Bard to fall.

Two Austrian forces combined on the Chiusella. De Briey's brigade, retreating from Ivrea, was joined by a force under Karl Graf Hadik von Futak, moving north from Turin. This gave the Austrians eight infantry battalions and thirty cavalry squadrons. 

Twelve squadrons of cavalry were posted on the Austrian right, covering the area from Vische, on the Dora, south to Chivasso. In the centre General Palfy, with three battalions and eight squadrons, held the heights of Romano, while two more battalions defended the stone bridge over the Chiusella north of that village. On the left there were three battalions at San-Martino, just to the west of Romano. Finally General Festenberg had ten squadrons of cavalry at Verceil (I have been unable to securely identify this location).

Lannes began with a simple frontal assault, led by Colonel Macon's 6th Légère. This attack was fought off by the Austrians, who even launched a counterattack across the bridge.

Lannes then ordered a three pronged assault. The 22nd and 40th demi-brigades were to cross the river to the west (upstream), the 6th Légère to the east and the 28th demi-brigade was to attack the bridge. This time the Austrian infantry faltered. Palfy led his cavalry in a counterattack on the French south of the bridge, but was killed. This causes some disruption in the Austrian line. Hadik decided to regroup at Montaleghe, to the south of Romano, on ground better suited to cavalry. There he gathered 2,000 cavalry, made up of Palfy's men along with the squadrons from Vische and Chivasso. This forced charged the 6th Légère and 28th demi-brigade, and broke them, but the Austrians then ran into Watrin's other demi-brigades, coming from the west, and into Boudet's division, which had now advanced across the bridge.

The Austrians were forced to retreat all the way back to Chivasso, where the Orca flows into the Po. Lannes followed with Watrin's division, but at a distance, while Boudet turned north to rejoin Napoleon, who by now was ready to turn east to attack Milan, leaving Massena at Genoa to his fate.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 January 2010), Battle of Romano-Chiusella, 26 May 1800 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battle_romano_chiusella.html

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