The combat of Pignerolo (15 September 1799) was one of a series of minor actions fought as the French Armies of the Alps and of Italy attempted to unite in the aftermath of the French defeat at Novi on 15 August.
After that defeat General Championnet, commander of the Army of the Alps, had been given command of the Army of Italy. His two armies were separated by quite some distance, with the Army of Italy concentrated around Genoa, while the Army of the Alps was on the Franco-Italian border. Duhesme's division was based in the mountains west of Turin, while Grenier's division was further south, in the Stura valley.
Championnet decided to move the two divisions closer together. Duhesme was to move first, advancing east in two columns, before turning south to head towards Grenier. Championnet hoped this would distract General Melas, the new commander of the Austro-Russian Army, and allow Grenier to advance down the Stura River to Fossano and the Maira River to Savigliano.
Duhesme made his move on the morning of 15 September. The right-hand column began the day at Pinerolo, to the south-west of Turin. The French pushed the Allies back to Airasca, five miles to the east of Pinerolo, but they were then stopped by a strong force of cavalry, and were forced to retreat back to their starting point.
The left-hand column was no more successful, starting and ending the day at Avigliano (combat of Rivoli). On the following day Grenier captured Fossano and Savigliano, forcing their Austrian garrisons back to Bra, at the junction of the Stura and Tanaro Rivers. Melas quickly realised what Championnet was attempting to do, and on 17 September the French were forced back out of both places (combats of Fossano and Savigliano).
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