Combat of Bosco, 24 October 1799

The combat of Bosco (24 October 1799) was a rare French success during the fighting in Italy in 1799, and saw the French push the Austrians back towards Alessandria from their original positions around Novi. On 23 October General Championnet, the commander of the French Army of Italy, ordered Saint-Cyr, the commander of his right wing around Genoa, to gather the 12,000 disposable troops from his three divisions and advance north-west towards Acqui. In order to do this Saint-Cyr had first to deal with the 6,000 Austrian troops of General Karackzay, which were guarding the valleys of the Orba and Scrivia river, and which were holding some of the ground that had been fought over during the battle of Novi (15 August 1799)

Marshal Gouvion-Saint-Cyr
Marshal Gouvion-Saint-Cyr

On 24 October the French advanced in three columns, towards Capriata (on the Orba), Pasturana (west of Novi) and Pozzolo (north of Novi). The first fighting saw Laboissière's division repulsed from Pasturana. To his right Dombrowsky attacked the Austrians in their entrenchments at Novi, and with the help of his Polish troops was able to push the Austrians back. At about the same time Watrin attacked via Pozzolo, turning the left of the Austrian line.

Karackzay was forced now back all along his line, and was forced to retreat in some disorder across the Bormida River, taking shelter under the guns of Alessandria. The French claimed to have taken 1,000 prisoners in the fighting. Saint-Cyr now occupied Karackzay's old headquarters at Bosco, to the north of the battlefield. This was the most important fighting in Italy since the battle of Novi, and the first to see the front line move. The left flank of the entire Austrian line was threatened, and Melas was forced to move Kray and reinforcements to Alessandria.

The French success was short-lived. On 4 November Championnet suffered a major defeat at Genola, and over the next few days Kray forced the French back to Novi. An attack on their defensive position there failed (combat of Novi, 6 November 1799), but most of the French gains made after the combat of Bosco had been lost.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 January 2010), Combat of Bosco, 24 October 1799 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_bosco.html

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