So far the campaign of 1809 has proven popular with the napoleonic rabbit. With notable exception to the larger battles fought during the main Daube theater of operations… Archduke Charles (Karl) vs. the main French army under Emperor Napoleon, WR has created smaller historical battle scenarios for invasion of Duchy of Warsaw (Poland), the plains of Hungary, rivers and towns in Kingdom of Italy or Inner Austria, and the latest scenario project, the southern Dalmatia campaign. Battles like Sacile, Raab, Klagenfurt, Raszyn, are now joined with the May 21st – 22nd Battle of Gospic (or Bilaj).
When the campaign started April 1809, the main forces outside the Danube river basin were the Franco-Italian army under Eugène de Beauharnais and the Austrian army under General der Kavallerie Archduke Johann of Austria, facing off for control of northern Italy. Southeast of these two combative armies, General of Division Marmont commanded a French corps in Dalmatia ever since the signing of the Treaty of Pressburg, which awarded the former Austrian provinces of Istria and Dalmatia to the French Kingdom of Italy. Marmont had administered the region for the benefit of France and the Kingdom of Italy. Since Marmont’s soldiers have been under arms since the days of the Camp de Boulogne (the old II Corps), had missed the major battles of the War of the Fourth Coalition, the Emperor Napoleon considered the corps largely experienced / veteran and fully capable in their duties controlling Dalmatia and influencing events throughout the region.
Marmont’s Army of Dalmatia, consisted of two active infantry divisions under command of GD Montrichard and GD Clauzel. Montrichand’s 1st Division consisted of GB Soye’s brigade (18th Legere and 5th Line) and GB De Launay’s brigade (79th and 81st Line). GD Clausel’s 2nd Division comprised the brigades of GB Delzons (8th Legere and 23rd Line) and GB Bachelu (11th Line). The 11th Line had three battalions, while the all other regiments only had two battalions each.The divisional artillery included the 3rd and 9th companies of the 8th Foot Artillery Regiment, with six cannon each. The complete French April 1809 order of battle (per Gill’s Thunder on the Danube Vol III p366):
1st Division (GD Montrichard):
Brigade GB Soyes with 5th Ligne (2 btn., 1622 men), 18th Legere (2, 1417)
Brigade GB De Launay with 79th Ligne (2, 1575), 81st Ligne (2, 1366)
2nd division (GD Clauzel):
Brigade GB Delzons with 8th Legere (2 btn., 1495), 23rd Ligne (2, 1424)
Brigade GB Deviau) with 11th Ligne (3, 2094)
Cavalry detachment of 3rd Chasseurs and 24th Chasseurs (292 men)
Artillery of 12 cannon, reported in some notes as 6 pdrs. But for YR1809 would 6 pdrs have made it to distant Dalmatia or the common 8 pdrs still be in use? WR is unsure and if 6 pdr., would they be former Austrian cannon? WR also noted that Marmont’s corps had many other artillery batteries according to the OOB’s found but no mention of them noted at any of the battles or skirmishes (above the two known batteries above). Gil’s book makes no mention of these batteries. Maybe they became fortress crews and the cannon placed into garrison pending future need…. or left in Northern Italy since they couldn’t be shipped over to Dalmatia due to the RN activities offshore.
Corps Artillery Reserve: General of Brigade Louis Tirlet (56 guns).
- 10th company of the 7th Foot Artillery Regiment (six 12-pound cannons)
- 2nd company of the 2nd Foot Artillery Regiment (six 12-pound cannons and two 5½-inch howitzers)
- 7th, 8th, 9th, 14th, and 15th companies of the 1st Italian Artillery Regiment (six 6-pound cannons each)
- 14th and 15th companies of the 2nd Foot Artillery Regiment (six 6-pound cannons each)
Additional garrison forces in Dalmatia in Zara, Cattaro, and Ragusa: 60th Ligne (2, 1700), 4th btn./Dalmatian regiment (330), 1st btn./3rd Italian Legere (512), four battalions of National guards (4, 2000) and two battalions of Dalmatian Pandours (2, 1000).
To oppose Marmont and French military activities and occupation in Dalmatia, Archduke John detached the General-Major Stoichevich’s brigade from its original place in FML Ignaz Gyulai‘s IX Armeekorps. On 15 May, GM Stoichevich commanded about 8,100 troops, including roughly 7,740 infantry, 120 cavalry, and 240 artillerists. With the few exceptions, the Austrian enlarged brigade consisted of most newly raised, lacking in training and equipment, and officered with second-rate officers. Many of the grenzer soldiers under Stoichevich’s command came from the active region of Dalmatian military operations. GM Stoichevich himself commanded grenzer for most of his military life. Their homesteads and families were never far from their collective minds during military operations and accounts for the wide-spread desertion late in the short campaign. Again the Austrian order of battle per Gils excellent Thunder on the Danube book Vol III p365):
Regulars: Licca Grenz Infantry #1 (2 btn.,2550 men), Hohenzollern Chevaulegers #2 (110). Also somewhat under command was the 4th Garrison battalion (480) at times.
Reservist* and landwehr battalions: Licca Reserve Grenz (1270), Ottocac Reserve Grenz (1290), Ogulin Reserve Grenz (1295), Szulin Reserve Grenz (1375), Banal Reserve Grenz arrived May 9th (2, 2500), Composite Land Grenz (landwehr) btns. (3, 3000), Dalmatian Freikorps (?) plus a detachment of mounted Serezaner (200). These “reserve” grenz battalions are the third battalion for the organized grenz regiments. The composite Land grenz battalions are converged company sized “landwehr” detachments from several grenzer border districts, typically the landwehr is the fourth battalion of the grenz regiments.
Artillery: 6 pdr. positional battery (6 cannon) and Grenz 3lb brigade battery (8).
The campaign opened with unconventional assistance for the French. The French consul in Bosnia instigated raids from Ottoman territory to distract and cause alarm in the grenzer ranks. As mentioned the bulk of the Austrian grenzer battalions under GM Stoichevich were raised in the neighboring grenz districts to Bosnia. So having Ottoman bandits raid over the Bosnia border, pillaging and burning with abandon, caused alarm in the Austrian leadership and the common ranks. In peace times, the armed grenzer would have been on hand to prevent these raids, so starting early on in this campaign, GM Stoichevich had to detach several companies to reinforce the border defenses while sapping at the collective morale of the common ranks.
Topography of the region, along with climate, set the pace and direction of military operations. Mountainous land, with valleys, forests, limited river crossings, all constrained the armies and their movement. Other locations had bleak stunned bush rock or craggy outcrops to contend with while marching the stony ground or driving laden wagons. Looking at any map, the terrain dictated where the fighting would occur. The Licca valley where GM Stoichevich concentrated his command at Gracac was separated from French held Dalmatia by the Velebit mountain range. Although there were several passes across this steep rocky range, they were hardly suitable for military marches by large forces. The principal access for either side therefore became the rugged but passable gap formed by the Zrmanja River defile northwest of Krin. With both armies staging their major supply magazines… the French at Krin and Zara, the Austrians their forward magazines at Gospic and Gracac, the curtain rises for the southern 1809 campaign.
Maps are hard to find and come by for this region but are needed to follow the military movements. One of the best located while searching the internet is this Wikipedia 1810 map for the Illyrian Provinces formed after the 1809 campaign. The Illyrian Provinces included the former Austrian coastal territories and the region of Dalmatia. Illyrian Provinces map 1810
Enlarged portion and area of campaign for 1809 from the Illyrian Provinces 1810 map file. Town spelling is different but understandable.