Combats of Fossano and Savigliano, 17 September 1799

The combats of Fossano and Savigliano (17 September 1799) were two Austrian victories that stopped an attempt by General Championnet to combine his newly united Armies of the Alps and of Italy. In the aftermath of the French defeat at Novi Championnet, the commander of the Army of the Alps, had been given command of the Army of Italy. His forces were spread out along the Italian border, and even the two divisions of the Army of the Alps were separated by some distance, with Duhesme's division west of Turin and Grenier's further south, close to the Stura valley.

Grenier began to march on 15 September. On the same day Duhesme attacked with two columns, but suffered two defeats (Combat of Pignerolo and Combat of Rivoli) and was forced back to his starting point. Gernier's march continued, and on 16 September Compans' brigade forced the Austrians under Gottesheim to retreat from Fossano and Savigliano.

Unfortunately for the French General Melas quickly realised what Championnet was trying to do, and concentrated his forces at Bra, close to the confluence of the Stura and Tanaro Rivers, where he was joined by Gottesheim. On 17 September 20,000 Austro-Russian troops, in two columns, attacked Fossano and Savigliano. Grenier was able to hold on for three hours, but the French were badly outnumbered, and were eventually forced to retreat. Grenier's troops retreated down the Maira River from Savigliano and the Stura River from Fossano. Melas decided not to pursue, worried that this would have exposed his left flank to attack by French troops in the Apennines, and so halted around Fossano. The main French concern now became the safety of Cuneo, further up the Stura River.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 January 2010), Combats of Fossano and Savigliano, 17 September 1799 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_fossano_savigliano.html

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