the fact the Austrians spent most of the Napoleonic Wars fighting
against France, there is not a lot around in the way of in-depth
reference material relating to their struggle.
in Castiglione 1796: Napoleon Repulses Wurmser's First Attack,
Bernhard Voykowitsch has gone a long way to righting the balance
with an exhaustive look at the actions of 1796 and the attempted
Austrian relief of the besieged fortress of Mantua.
first of an ambitious series of books, Castiglione 1796
shows Voykowitsch has gone to great lengths to get good prime
source information from Vienna's Kriegsarchiv and Napoleonic buffs
should be very grateful for his attention to detail.
begins by looking at Mantua, its fortifications, supplies, defensive
preparations and the troops garrisoning it, as well as its strategic
importance in the region.
is a day-by-day look at the military actions and there are a host
of interesting details such as the fact the French threw some
4000 bombs, 2000 grenades and 6000 red-hot shot into the city
over a period of 13 days - and that figure does not include the
tonnes of cold roundshot fired at walls.
of the most informative parts of Castiglione 1796 is the examination
of the opposing leaders and while there is a lot known about the
French, Voykowitsch has some terrific biographies of leading Austrian
soldiers such as Dagobert Wurmser, Peter Quasdanovich, Michael
Melas and their staff. These are historical treasure for those
interested in the Austrian army of the period and include some
very hard-to-get images of the men.
1796 looks at the rival armies' orders of battle and organisation
and also the plans and preparations each side made for the campaign.
Another little gem is a letter written by Emperor Francis I to
Wurmser telling him he has been secretly put in charge of Austrian
to form, Voykowitsch's descriptions of the manouvreings and clashes
of arms leading up to Castiglione give you the whole sweep of
the campaign right from the overall strategy down to the number
of cannons in a particular section of the field.
addition, the author has used good photographs to show the terrain
and areas the action was in and also a plethora of very good quality
production quality of the 96-page, A4-sized Castiglione 1796
is high, although with German as his first language, Voykowitsch
has been very brave in writing a book in English. But - occasional
phrasing problems aside - has made it very readable.
1796 is a must-have for people wanting to know more about
Napoleon Bonaparte's lightning campaigns in northern Italy, or
get a wealth of information on the Austrians.