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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 28


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Buonaparte commenced his march on the 15th of May, with thirty thousand - that is, with half the army - for Lausanne, and, betwixt the 15th and the 18th, the other divisions were all in motion. Every means had been employed to keep the plan of the march secret, both because the object was to take the Austrians by surprise, and to prevent the Swiss suddenly rising and cutting them off in the defiles of the mountains. General Thurreau, with a division of five thousand, advanced by Mont Cenis on Exilles and Susa, another, under Chabran, took the route of the Little St. Bernard; but Buonaparte himself, supported by general Lannes, proceeded to cross the Great St. Bernard itself - a track over the loftiest regions of the Alps, hitherto deemed arduous for single individuals, but now to be attempted by a great army, with all its baggage and ammunition, and with forty pieces of cannon. At the village of St. Pierre, all regular track ended; they had to mount into the regions of eternal frost, amid precipices, glaciers, ravines, and depths of treacherous snow concealing gaping crevices, and to drag their cannon, and convey their baggage and ammunition over rocks and heights on which only the foot of the chamois-hunter had before trod. To accomplish this, the cannon were dismounted, and placed in trunks, of trees, hollowed for the purpose, and dragged each by a hundred men at a time. The carriages were taken to pieces and carried on the backs of mules, or by the soldiers slung on poles. The powder and shot were packed in strong deal boxes, and borne by the mules; and the soldiers who were not carrying part of the baggage or dragging at the cannon took the muskets, cartouche-boxes, knapsacks, and provisions of their comrades. Each man was calculated to carry from sixty to seventy pounds, and that up steeps where it had always been deemed difficult enough for a man to ascend unburdened. But, besides the soldiers, all the peasantry that could be collected in the surrounding country were summoned to help. The bands played and the drums beat at different points, to inspirit the soldiers to this unexampled service. The cavalry led their horses, and found it hard enough to get over many a steep and slippery place. Buonaparte followed in the rear, silent and gloomy, only exchanging a hasty word now and then with his guides, and frequently finding his progress stopped by some forced halt of the army, when his commands stimulated it to fresh exertions. At the convent of St. Bernard, the monks came out, and, from their ample stores, distributed bread and cheese and a cup of wine to each weary soldier, who, during the march, had hitherto tasted nothing but a piece of biscuit dipped in the snow. Buonaparte left one hundred thousand francs with the monks, as a testimony of his gratitude for this kindness. The descent of Mont St. Bernard was found as arduous for the infantry as the ascent, and much more so to the cavalry. After a march of fourteen French leagues, the next morning, the 16th of May, the French reached Aosta, a village of Piedmont, situated in a Valley of the same name, and watered by the river Dorea, the scenery presenting a charming contrast to the horrors of the giant hills which they had passed. On the 17th Lannes drove in a post of the Austrians, at Chatillon, who were confounded at the apparition of a French army dropping, as it were, out of the clouds.

But Buonaparte now found his way completely obstructed I by the fort of Bard effectually closing a defile leading down |j into the plains of Piedmont. Lannes made a desperate attempt to carry the fort by assault, but was repulsed with heavy loss But Buonaparte climbed a lofty rock called Albaredo, being a precipice-du the side of one of the mountains forming the pass. He saw there that it was possible to carry most of his troops over the hill by a road known only to goatherds, whilst the rest attacked the walled town under the fort, and pushed through it with the cannon. The commander of the fort had sent messages to warn Melas, then opposed to Suchet on the Var, of the approach of the French by this hitherto undreamed-of way; but lie assured him that he would not allow a gun to pass through the town. Buonaparte deceived him by covering the streets of the town with earth and litter, and dragging the cannon through in silence. He left general Chabran with a body of conscripts to invest the fort, and batter it from the top of Albaredo. Escaped from this pass, which, properly- secured by the Austrians, would have effectually stopped his march, Buonaparte advanced, taking town after town, and making for Milan, where he expected to be joined by the other divisions of the army marching by the Little St. Bernard and Mont Cenis, as well as by twenty thousand troops dispatched over St. Gothard from the army of Moreau.

Melas, who had been besieging Genoa, had left part of his army to reduce that city, defended by a strong French division under Massena and Soult, and advanced to Nice, which he had entered, and was contemplating his descent on Provence, when the news of Buonaparte's entrance of Piedmont reached him. He directed his march now to meet him. In the meantime, Massena and Soult, worn out by famine, the fort being blockaded by admiral lord Keith, had surrendered Genoa to general Ott, whom Melas had left there. Melas summoned his scattered forces to make head against Buonaparte, and was himself pursued from the neighbourhood of Nice by Souchet. Buonaparte deceived Melas by false movements, making him imagine that his object was Turin, and bo entered Milan in triumph on the 2nd of June. After various encounters and manœuvres betwixt Buonaparte and Melas, the French consul crossed the Po at Piacenza, drove back the advanced guard of the Austrians, and took up a position on the plains of Marengo, on the right bank of the little stream, the Bormida, and opposite to Alessandria, where Melas was lying. The next day - the 14th of June - Melas drew out his forces, and attacked the French with great spirit. The Austrians amounted to about forty thousand, including a fine body of cavalry, for which the ground was highly favourable; the French were not more than thirty thousand, posted strongly in and around the village of Marengo, in three divisions, each stationed about a quarter of a mile behind each other. After two or three attempts, the Austrians drove the French out of the village of Marengo, threw the second division, commanded by Lannes, into confusion, and put to rout the left wing of Buonaparte's own division, threw his centre into disorder, and compelled him to retreat as far as St. Julian o. The whole tide of battle was running against Buonaparte, and a short time must have completed his rout, when the strength of the old general, Melas - more than eighty years of age - gave way, for he had been many hours on horseback. He retired from the field quite secure of the victory, and left general Zach to finish it. But, at this moment, general Dessaix, who had lately arrived from Egypt, and had been sent by Buonaparte to make a diversion at Rivolta, came back with his detachment of twenty thousand men. Kellermann, also, who was posted in the rear with a body of reserve, marched up at the same time. A new and desperate charge was made on the fatigued Austrians, and they were broken and put to the route. They retreated across the Bormida, towards Alessandria, in a panic, the horse galloping over the infantry. General Zach was taken prisoner, and the loss of the Austrians, as given by themselves, was nine thousand and sixty- nine men, and nearly fifteen hundred horses. But the French, who far understated their own loss at four thousand, estimated that of the Austrians at twelve thousand. On the side of the French, Dessaix was shot through the head- while leading on his charge.

Melas, dispirited by his defeat, but more by his age, gave up the struggle; and, on the 16th of June, concluded an armistice, giving up, not only Alessandria, where he might have stood a longer siege, but Genoa, which had just surrendered to the Austrians, and all the Genoese territory, agreeing to retire behind the line of Mantua and the Mincio, and leaving to the French all Lombardy as far as the Oglio. The French themselves could scarcely believe the reality of such a surrender. Buonaparte returned to Milan in the highest triumph, where he established a council with legislative powers, and placed a French president over it. At the same time, he professed great regard to the rights and interests of Italy, restored the university of Pavia, and drew around him the aristocratic families of the province, to strengthen his government, under the assurance that he meant to bestow on Italy, ere long, her full and ancient freedom. He now rigorously suppressed all private plunder, but continued the public pillage of money and works of art as unrestrainedly as ever. He established a provisional government, also, at Genoa and at Turin, and then set out for France. Leaving Massena commander-in-chief during his absence, and Jourdan president of the French republic of Piedmont, he quitted Milan on the 24th of June, and entered Paris on the 2nd of July, having achieved the re-conquest of a great part of the north of Italy in less than two months.

During this brilliant campaign in Italy, Moreau, in Germany, had beaten general Kray in several engagements, advanced to Ulm, and there, crossing the Danube, had overrun a great part of Bavaria, had made himself master of Munich, and menaced Vienna. On hearing of the armistice in Italy, the emperor demanded one for Austria, to continue till September; and Buonaparte, seeing that the czar Paul had ceased to support Austria, recommended the emperor to make peace with France. The emperor required that England should be included in it, and Buonaparte readily proposed an armistice by sea, as preliminary to a treaty with England. As the object of Buonaparte, in such an armistice, was clearly to enable him to relieve the garrison of Malta and the army in Egypt, both in imminent jeopardy of being compelled to surrender to England, the British government declined the proposal. No sooner was this answer received in Paris, than Buonaparte gave the word for renewed and vigorous action, both in Italy and Germany. Moreau advanced by Saltsburg towards Vienna, whilst Brune drove the Austrians from the Mincio, and over the Adige and the Brenta to the very vicinity of Venice, whilst Macdonald occupied the passes of the Tyrol, ready to march to the support of the army either in Italy or Germany. The archduke John met Moreau near Haag, and, for a moment, worsted him; but, on the 2nd of December, the two armies came to a general engagement at Hohenlinden, betwixt the rivers Iser and Inn, in which the Austrians were routed, with a loss of ten thousand men. Moreau advanced and occupied Saltsburg, and, trembling for the safety of Vienna itself, the emperor hastened to make peace. An armistice was signed on the 25th of December, and the treaty was concluded on the 9th of February, 1801. By this treaty all the conditions of the treaty of Campo Formio were renewed, and fresh ones, adverse to Austria, were added. The emperor was stripped of all the Italian provinces, except Venice, and a new line betwixt him and the Cisalpine and Ligurian republics was drawn along the Adige, from its issuing from the Tyrol to its debouchure in the Adriatic. Tuscany was taken from the grand duke Ferdinand and given to Louis, the son of the duke of Parma, who had married a Spanish princess; and Buonaparte had now his reasons for seeking the co-operation of Spain. Piedmont was, for the present, permitted a nominal independence; but, in reality, it was completely in the French hands. King Charles Emmanuel lived in Turin, rather as a prisoner than as a prince, all his fortresses being occupied by the French. "Never," says the Italian historian, Carlo Botta, " was any country more cruelly plundered, agitated, and torn to pieces than Piedmont at this moment. Massena demanded from the exhausted treasury one million livres per month, and food and clothing for all the French garrisons. Brune, who succeeded Massena, promised that the troops should be maintained out of the monthly million; but he got the livres, and did not maintain the troops. Piedmont was obliged to make up the deficiency, because, if the French did not get what they wanted, they took it by force. When money became scarce, they demanded the lead which covered the magnificent church of Superga."

Naples, terrified into perfect abjectness by the battle of Marengo, also concluded a most ignominious peace, agreeing to shut its ports against the English, withdraw the troops sent to Rome, surrender Piombino and some other possessions, and pardon all the revolutionists of 1799. All Italy lay at the feet of Buonaparte. The closing of the ports of Sicily against us deprived us of the corn we drew thence for our Mediterranean fleet, and caused much suffering to our forces blockading La Valetta, in Malta. But this fortress, and with it the island of Malta, was surrendered to general Pigott on the 15th of September.

Our fleet this year did nothing worthy of note besides the assistance rendered by admiral lord Keith, at Genoa, and the taking of the small island of Goree, on the coast of Africa, from the French, and the Dutch island of Curaçoa. There were several absurd and imbecile attempts to commit depredations on the French coast, and to burn the Spanish fleet in the harbour of Cadiz, which utterly failed; and, whilst general Pulteney was sent with six battalions of troops to Lisbon, to assist the Portuguese against a threatened Spanish invasion, general Abercrombie was floating about the straits of Gibraltar, and in the Mediterranean, with fifteen thousand troops on board, constantly expecting orders to proceed on some important expedition. This, at last, turned out to be against the French in Egypt; but so much time had been lost, for which no one could conceive the object, that it was the middle of December before the armament reached Malta. All grasp and activity of mind seemed to have deserted ministers, and, whilst their policy abroad was the most imbecile imaginable, at home there were terrible outcries, in consequence of the scarcity of bread. There were rioting and plundering of corn-factors' and bakers' shops, and government passed a number of acts giving premiums on the importation of grain, and forbidding the making of any but mixed and coarse breads. Had not great subscriptions been raised, and private benevolence been called forth to an immense extent for the relief of the distress, the consequences would have been more terrible. In parliament, Sheridan, on the 1st of December, moved for an address to his majesty, imploring him to make peace; and this being rejected by one hundred and fifty-six against thirty-five, Mr. T. Jones moved, on the 4th, that his majesty should be addressed to request him to dismiss the ministers who, by their incapacity and weakness, had conducted the war so disgracefully - had loaded the country with unexampled debt, and reduced it to misery; but this also was negatived by sixty-six to thirteen. Supplies being voted for three months, the king, on the last day of the year, dismissed the parliament, announcing that, in consequence of the union with Ireland, the Imperial Parliament would assemble on the 22nd of January, 1801.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 28

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