Combat of Novi, 6 November 1799

The combat of Novi (6 November 1799) was a minor French victory that saw them defeat an Austrian attempt to push them out of a position at Novi, on the northern edge of the Apennines.

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

Novi had already been the site of two battles during 1799. The first, the battle of Novi of 15 August 1799, had been a major French defeat that had seen them pinned into the Alps and Apennines. The second, the combat of Bosco of 24 October 1799, saw three divisions under Saint-Cyr push back an Austrian force half their size, and allowed Saint-Cyr to take up a position that threatened Alessandria, and forced the Austrian commander Melas to send Kray east with reinforcements.

In the aftermath of the victory on 24 October Saint-Cyr occupied a line that ran from Acqui on the Bormida River, through Bosco on the Orba to Rivalta on the Scrivia. Kray's reinforcements arrived at Alessandria on 31 October. They rested for one day too long, and were cut off on the wrong side of the Bormida by rising flood waters on 1-2 November, and only on 3 November did the Austrians get a bridge over the river. On the same the French were forced out of Acqui, and on 4 November they were forced out of Bosco and Rivalta as well, taking up a new position on the heights of Novi.

Kray attacked the new French position on 6 November. The attacks on the left and right were successful, and the Austrians established themselves on the flanks of the French centre. They also got a foothold in Novi itself, before being forced back by French troops on the heights behind the town. With Novi securely in French hands the Austrians were forced to pull his wings back off the heights. Austrian casualties were somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000, and the French were able to recapture Acqui, as well as maintain their position in Novi. This small scale success was overshadowed by the defeat of the main French army under Championnet at Genola on 4 November 1799, which undermined what was left of the French position on the Italian plains.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 January 2010), Combat of Novi, 6 November 1799 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_novi.html

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