Combat of Bracco, 13 October 1799

The combat of Bracco (13 October 1799) was a French attempt to push the Austrians further away from Genoa that achieved some short-term success.

Having failed in his attempts to push the Austrians away from Cunea Championnet decided to make a decisive attack on the Austrians, who were largely inactive in the Stura. To do this he needed to be able to bring some of his right wing from Genoa towards his centre, but an Austrian force under Klenau was based on the Riviera di Levante (the coast east of Genoa). Saint-Cyr and the French right would have to defeat this force before they could take part in the central attack.

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

Saint-Cyr decided to send troops along the coast and through the mountains in an attempt to trap the Austrians, who were posted close to Lavagna. Watrin was ordered to cross the mountains and emerge at Bracco, in the Austrian rear. Gauthrin was to cover Watrin's left, while a battalion was to be landed at Mongelia, on the coast south of Bracco.

The plan might have succeeded if Klenau had not received a warning from a local peasant. Instead he left a strong rear-guard at Chiavari, just to the west of Lavagna, and retreated along the coast. Watrin emerged from the mountains at Bracco, where he took some prisoners. Miollis attacked the Austrian rear-guard, part of which was forced to surrender when it ran into Watrin while attempting to retreat. French sources placed the total number of prisoners taken at 1,200, while the Austrians admitted to no more than 600.

In the aftermath of this victory Miollis was posted at Sestri Levante (half way between Bracco and Lavagna), while Watrin occupied the heads of the Nura, Trebbia and Tidone valleys. Saint-Cyr's main forces were further west, facing towards Alessandria. His right was at Serravalle, his left at Ovada and his centre was across the road to Gavi.

The French gains in the mountains were short-lived. Their advanced positions were soon threatened by Klenau, and Watrin and Miollis concentrated at Chiavari and Sestri.

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

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