Начало наполеоновских войн и трагедия республики Гельвеция (окончание)

Переход войск Суворова через Альпы (иллюстрация)

Аннотация

События двух последних лет XVIII века могут остаться незамеченными среди более выдающихся военных кампаний и драматических политических событий. Французская Директория боролась с серьезными политическими и финансовыми проблемами в 1799 году. На международном фронте судьба Французской Республики была довольно мрачной, сразу четыре крупные державы состояли в заговоре против нее, враждебные Франции войска простиралась от Фрисландии до Калабрии, военно-морской флот находился в руинах, а лучший полководец застрял в Сирии.

В течение этого периода незаметно для всех прошло несколько важных мероприятий, связанных с появлением нового государства – Швейцарской республики. Три первоначальных участника пакта 1291 решили собраться в единую конфедерацию, и им удалось выйти практически невредимым из катастрофических эпизодов. Объединению способствовали важные исторические события, такие как Реформация, Тридцатилетняя война и становление Франции как доминирующей нации. В Швейцарии тяготели Фландрия, Лотарингия, Бургундия, Франш-Конте и Савоя. Старая Конфедерация фактически сохранила старую традицию, по которой все дела решали крупные олигархи, а простой народ был отстранен от власти. Неудивительно, что Франция воспользовалась этим, чтобы втянуть в революционные события Швейцарскую республику, что и произошло в 1798-1803 гг.

В то же время в годы 2-й коалиции союзных держав были сформированы три большие армии, одна в Голландии под командованием герцога Йоркского, одна в Южной Германии под руководством эрцгерцога Карла и одна в Италии под командованием фельдмаршала графа Суворова. Французскую армию в Италии возглавляли генералы Моро и Шампионне. Эти способные командиры потерпели ряд серьезных поражений от русских казаков, которыми командовал 70-летний полководец Екатерины II. К концу кампании 1799 года Суворов сумел полностью вытеснить французов из Северной Италии и был на грани вторжения на юг Франции. Он был сделан князем Итальянским в свидетельство его успехов. Затем начались перемещения австрийских войск вдоль Альп. Французская армия в Голландии считалась более надежной, потому что здесь предполагалось вторжение англо-русских войск. В сентябре 1799 года Эрцгерцог Карл отправился со своей армией на север, чтобы поддержать союзные войска. Между тем генерал-фельдмаршал Суворов должен был пересечь Теччино к северу от Милана, проскользнуть через Сент-Готардский перевал и добраться до центральной Швейцарии, чтобы сдерживать здесь французов. Однако французский генерал Массена быстро воспользовался уходом Суворова и отправил свою армию в Цюрих 25 сентября. Здесь австро-русские позиции генералов Корсакова и Хоце были взяты врасплох и захвачены. Союзные войска вскоре отступили на восток Австрии.

В течение этого времени Суворов отказался от всякой надежды на получение мулов, которые должны были перевозить оружие, оборудование и провиант через Альпы. У русских казаков было мало выбора, кроме как отказаться от своих лошадей и в марте начать приход через Сент-Готардский перевал (2’108 м) под шквальным огнем французов. Несмотря на это, русским удалось пересечь перевал до 24 сентября, и армия Суворова устремилась дальше на север через Чертов мост в ущелье Шольнен. Два дня спустя оказалось, что нет лодок для пересечения местных озёр и Суворов, двинулся в восточном направлении через Чинсин (2’073 м) и Прагель (1’515 м) в Гларис, в сторону Австрии. Они пришли туда только для того, чтобы понять, что французские войска прочно обосновались в Гларисе, и единственная их возможность – отступить на юг через перевал Паникс (2’407 м) в направлении Рейна. Теперь на русскую армию действовали голод, лютый холод и сильный снег в сочетании с усталостью и отчаянием. 6 октября, старому, но неукротимому фельдмаршалу удалось выйти из Швейцарии с остатками своей, некогда успешной армии. Войска в конечном итоге прошли быстрым маршем обратно в Австрию и Россию. Несчастный Суворов попал в немилость к Павлу I, заболел и вскоре умер. Тем не менее, жители Швейцарии до сих пор помнят удивительную стойкость и упрямство русских солдат, продемонстрированные осенью 1799 года.

Аннотация, ключевые слова и фразы: Швейцария, Суворов, Наполеоновские войны, военная кампания 1799 г. в Европе.

Annotation

Events of the two last years of the XVIIIth century may go unnoticed in the middle of more prominent military campaigns and dramatic political developments alike. The French Directory was struggling with political and financial challenges in 1799. On the international front, the fate of the French Republic did appear rather grim, with four major powers leagued against it, armies stretched from Friesland to Calabria, a navy in shambles, its best general stuck in Syria.

During that period, a corner of the world that is usually very quiet underwent a series of memorable events. The three initial participants in the 1291-Pact had crystallised around them a Confederation that had managed to emerge virtually unscathed from the disastrous episodes attached to the Reformation, the Thirty-year War and the emergence of France as a dominant nation at the expense of Flanders, Lorraine, Burgundy, Franche-Comté and Savoy. The old Confederation had actually preserved a number of antiquated practices that worked to the benefit of oligarchic parties at the expense of ordinary people. Little wonder that France would soon seize the opportunity of replicating itself in the form of the ill-fated Helvetic Republic (1798‑1803).

At the same time, the 2nd Coalition of allied powers had formed three large armies, one in Holland under command of the Duke of York, one in Southern Germany under Archduke Charles and one in Italy directed by Field‑Marshal Count Suvorov. The French Army of Italy was led by Generals Moreau and Championnet. These otherwise capable commanders happened to lose every major engagement with the Russian Cossacks brilliantly conducted by the 70‑year-old once favourite of Catherine II of Russia. By the end of the 1799 campaign, Suvorov had conquered back all of Northern Italy and was on the verge of invading the South of France. He had been made Prince Italskii in testimony to his successes. At this particular moment, the Aulic Council in Vienna came about moving armies along the Alps… General Brune heading the French Army of Holland was considered a threat to the poorly co-ordinated Anglo-Russian forces once intended to overthrow the Batavian Republic. In September of 1799, Archduke Charles was ordered North to support these. Meanwhile, Field-Marshal Suvorov was to march across the Tessin region North of Milan, slip through the SGothard Pass and reach central Switzerland to contain the French. General Masséna was quick to seize the opportunity, and ordered General Oudinot eastwards across the Limatt River at Zurich on 25th September. Austro-Russian positions under Generals Korsakov and Hotze were taken by surprise and overrun. The allied troops soon had to retreat towards the Vorarlberg Province of Austria to the East.

During that time, Suvorov had given up any hope of receiving the mules that had been committed to carry guns, equipment and forage across the Alps. The Cossacks had little choice but to give up their horses and march up to the St Gothard Pass (2’108 m) against heavy fire from the overwhelming French entrenchments. Notwithstanding, they managed to cross the pass on 24th September and rush further North across Devil’s Bridge into the Schöllenen Gorges. Two days later, their chance of boarding boats to cross the Four-Cantons-Lake had vanished and Suvorov was left to head eastbound across the Chinsig (2’073 m) and the Pragel (1’515 m) Passes towards Glaris and Austria. They reached there only to realise that the French troops had settled in Glaris and the only opportunity yet available to them was to retreat Southwards across the Panix Pass (2’407 m) towards the Anterior Rhine River. By now, hunger, bitter cold and heavy snow had combined with tiredness and despair against the unfortunate Russians who had lost up to their shoes… On 6th October, the old yet indomitable Field-Marshal managed to cross that pass with whatever was left of his once-successful army. The troops would eventually reach Chur before marching back to Austria and Russia. The unfortunate Suvorov, upon presenting to the tsar, was to fall in disgrace, get ill and die soon afterwards. Nevertheless, locals in Switzerland and soldiers in Russia still remember the amazing resilience and stubbornness as displayed by the Cossacks during the fall of 1799.

Meanwhile, General Brune had routed the English expeditionary force in Castricum (Holland) on 6th October. Unexpectedly, General Bonaparte had abandoned his army back in Egypt and reached Paris to prepare a coup (18th Brumaire Year VIII – 9th November, 1799). He was to quickly reassert law and order, reach the appropriate compromise with the aristocracy in exile and the Catholic Church alike, hence actually combining the benefits of both worlds, the old and the new. Eventually, the determination of his archenemies – Pitt the Younger and Admiral Nelson – was to force the soon to be emperor into ever-continuing wars with all European powers of the time. Year 1814 was the last time that Switzerland would have to stand foreign soldiers on its soil. The hesitancy of many Swiss citizens of this day to join into either European or other international commitments may well have something to do with the events of that time.

Annotation, key words and phrases: Switzerland, Suvorov, the Napoleonic wars, the military campaign of 1799 in Europe.

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The final part of the publication (Окончание публикации)

The Eye of the Cyclone at the fall of the XVIIIth century: the ill-fated Helvetic Republic (1798-1803)

(Начало наполеоновских войн и трагедия республики Гельвеция)

In Northern Holland, an expeditionary force under the Duke of York combined Russian and English troops. Having landed in summer, it failed to drive towards Belgium where it could threaten Paris within weeks.

French Army of the Rhine had been placed under command of General Jourdan. It suffered a severe blow from Archduke Charles at Stockach on 26th March, 1799, thus having to retreat across the Rhine. General Jourdan then resigned and General Masséna, already in charge of operations in Switzerland, had to take over command of Army of the Rhine then scattered across Northern Switerland.

By early June, Austrian forces mounted a brilliant offensive in front of Zurich and drove the French away (5th-7th June, 1799 – 1st Battle of Zurich). However no provisions had been made to follow suit and Masséna would soon stop retreating. Meanwhile General Lecourbe was reinforcing his positions by occupying Grimsel, Furka, Oberalp and St-Gothard Passes in succession (summer, 1799).

By mid-1799, Masséna had troops settled from Basle to Tessin across Switzerland. General Lecourbe was holding positions over the Alps, facing Austrian forces of Generals Bellegarde and Hotze. The French totalled some 75’000 troops. Combined Austrian and Russian forces of a similar magnitude were positioned to the East of Zurich. They were placed under Archduke Charles and General Rimsky-Korsakov.Towards the end of the summer, Allied forces were thus looking forward to taking the offensive and eventually route the French out of Switzerland. However strategic command was being exercised from a remote headquarter at Vienna, the Aulic Council. For obscure reasons, a complex move was conceived to have Archduke Charles head Northbound to releave the English corps towads the Lower Rhine while Russian forces of Field-Marshal Suvorov were ordered Northbound across the Alps to support General Rimsky-Korsakov in Glaris (N-W Switzerland). These moves were not only of a large magnitude, they also had to take place at a difficult time of the year in a hostile geographical environment. Furthermore, armies for concern had been through a protracted campaign ; shortage of horses, mullets, forage and other supply was ominous.

On 17th September, General Brune defeated the Allied at Bergen (Holland) and went on to route the English to the see. At the same time, Archduke Charles left his positions near Zurich to head North across the Rhine River, thereby exposing the Russians of General Rimsky-Korsakov. On 28th August, Field-Marshal Suvorov engaged in the St-Gothard Pass, having abandoned most of his horses and cannons due to lack of carrying resources…

Суворовский путь через швейцарские Альпы
Suworows Weg durch die Schweizer Alpen

One may refer to the attached map to follow the path of Russian troops across the Alps. Most tracks were actually not accessible to carts, but merely to ground troops and mullets, provided supply could be made available. Furthermore, Russian troops had little experience and no equipment to fight in the mountain.

Suvorov was expecting an easy ride with minimal resistance from the French. On the contrary, General Lecourbe had arranged for settlements all along the approach to the St-Gothard Pass, with a solid retrenchment under the Hospice near the pass (alt. 2’108 m). General Bagration was assigned to conduct a force around the pass and come back behind the French, which he succeeded in doing. French resistance was finally overcome once the corps of Rosenberg arrived at Andermatt from the rear side.

On 25th September, Russian troops continued their advance North through the Schöllenen Gorges, to reach the famous Devil’s Bridge where a French party had retrenched as could be expected. Cossack volunteers were left to slide into the river under heavy fire, prior to eventually capturing the bridge yet relatively unscathed. Suvorov reached Altdorf in the evening of 26th September, to discover that any available embarkation had been taken away. Reaching Näfels by foot was then out of question and the Russians had little choice but pursuing East through the Chinsig Pass (2’073 m.) into the Muotatal.

In the vicinity of Zurich, 100 km North from there, a decisive move was actually taking place at the same time. Having taken notice of the Austrian move away from their positions, General Oudinot threw some light bridges across the Limmat River at Closter-Fahr on 25th September and actually took the Russians by surprise. Weakened settlements in front of Zurich were stormed on 26th September (2nd Battle of Zurich). In a coordinated move, General Soult went across the Linth River further South, overcoming Austrian settlements and causing General Hotze to be killed in action. Some 100 cannons and 5’000 men were captured in a couple of days…

On 27th September, still unaware of these developments, Suvorov was advancing forcefully Eastbound along Muotatal Pass, which Russians actually crossed within 12 hours. Weather was bad and the men exhausted. News of the Zurich disaster reached Filed-Marshal Suvorov on the following day. One may speculate that had he been able to save a week, either by receiving mules to carry his supplies, or through better coordination altogether, his contribution could have turned around the military fortune of the Allies…

Whatever the circumstances, the old Suvorov did not give up and soon realised he had to escape further North-East through the Pragel Pass (1’515 m) towards Vorarlberg across the Upper Rhine in Austria. Arriving on 29th September in Glaris through the Klöntal, he was to realise Austrian troops of General Jellachich had already withdrawn… Instead, French troops had just settled there. Was this a case for the Russians to give up and secure terms for an honourable surrender?

Бивуак русских войск в Альпах
Bivouac of Russian troops in the Lepontian Alps (Sept. 1799)

By early October, Army of Holland under General Brune was conducting a brilliant campaign culminating with the Battle of Castricum (6th October, 1799). The Duke of York had to settle for the Alkmaar Capitulation and the expeditionary corps was allowed to re-embark to England. In the later word of Napoléon:

Brune was righly branded saviour of the Batavian Republic. Romans would have granted him the honour of triumph. By saving Holland, he actually saved France from imminent invasion.

On 1st October, Russian rear-guard under General Rosenberg was still holding the French within Muotatal. Meanwhile, the avant-guard would fail in taking control of the bridge at Glaris, thereby giving up any hope of moving further North. The only contingency then left to surrendering was fleeing … back South towards the Anterior Rhine River, through the Panix Pass (2’407 m). And amazingly, this was the option 70-year old defeated Suvorov was to take after consulting his staff and regrouping his forces on 2nd-4th October!

Progressing on 5th and 6th October along the Panix tracks proved extremely demanding. Snow had been accumulating up to meters high, horses were hungry and tired, men were exhausted and discouraged. Indications were dramatically lacking and troops would slide and fall in numbers to their death in the rocks. Equipment was appallingly inadequate. However the undomitable Field-Marshal was leading the way and marching with his men in the snow. By the evening of 6th October, following a 18 hour-progression, Suvorov actually reached the hamlet of Panix along the Anterior Rhine River!

Переход русских войск Суворова через Альпы

On the following days, remains of the Russian forces were to regroup at Chur prior to driving back to Austria and finally Russia. Some 11’000men were accounted missing, or about half those who had entered Switzerland some 3 weeks before. Vivid rendering of the Russian march in the Panix Pass (note Suvorov on the left).

Once actually reaching St-Petersburg, Prince Suvorov was to be disgraced by Tsar Paul I and banned to his native province. He soon died on 18th May, 1800.

Meanwhile General Masséna had been pursuing his advance and overtaken the Austrians at Andelfingen (7th October). General Lecourbe was to take over and go across the Rhine River to take foot in Bavaria. In November, General Moreau arrived to take command of Army of the Rhine, which he was to lead most successfully throughout the year 1800 towards Vienna…

A new strategic scene by the turn of the century

France:

Following the successful coup of General Bonaparte on 18th Brumaire, VIII (9th November, 1799) prospects remained most unpredictable following ten years of continuous civil unrest and foreign war. The royalist party proved unwilling to compromise with the new master. Eventually Prime-Consul Bonaparte was to get cought in a never ending challenge with the United Kingdom, not being in a position to mount an invasion of the British Islands, and ultimately leading to an additional 2 to 3 million loss of life…

British Islands:

Repeated attempts at driving expeditionary corps into Ireland had failed. Meanwhile Prime-Minister Pitt the Younger proved a most energetic character, mounting coalition after coalition and actually funding war by continental allies. He succeeded in passing the Union Act (1801) following a ferocious repression of nationalist unrest by General Cornwallis in Ireland. However financial crisis was looming, habeas corpus had to be suspended, and Minister Pitt was led to withdrawing. In order to counteract the threat of the Northern League led by Tsar Paul I who was leaning to the French side, a naval squadron was sent to bombard the Danish Navy anchored at Copenhagen (December 1801).

During a short intermezzo when Pitt left the cabinet, a treaty was signed with France (Amiens, 1802) which was to be short-lived. The ultimate upper hand of Allied powers was to insure British supremacy for more than a century and world domination for the English language.

America:

The island of Sto Domingo (to-day Haiti and Dominican Republic) had been handed over by Spain to France in 1795 (Treaty of Basle). It was then the most properous of islands, producing 50 % of world sugar output. Since the French Convention had suppressed slavery in 1791, a former slave by name of Toussaint-Louverture took the lead in a campaign to secure autonomy from the struggling French metropole. Bonaparte would try and rein in such pretentions, mounting a disastrous expedition led by his brother-in-law General Leclerc (1801-1802). In the aftermath of this episode, Paris was to sell the entire Louisiana of the time (some 20 American states) to the American federal government (1803).

As to the United Kingdom, it soon took advantage of the European confusion to snatch colonies from France, Spain, the Netherlands, Danemark and Sweden – both in America and across the world oceans.

Mediterranean Area:

The Spanish Kingdom had been left in shambles following his venturing into the 1st Coalition. The British Royal Navy soon took settlement at Fort-Mahon on the Island of Minorque, where French prisonners were to be kept over the following 15 years.

The French expeditionary force in Egypt had been left over in succession to Generals Kleber and Menou. The latter secured terms of repatriation by the Royal Navy on 31st August, 1801. English interests were to prevail at Malta (occupied in 1801) and also Naples were restoration had taken place by mid-1799. A combined Russian-Turkish squadron took over the Ionian Islands from the French in 1800.

Asia:

French interests in India had not been entirely suppressed yet. In the Deccan (Southern subcontinent), a Moslem sultan by name of Tippu Sahib set up four wars in succession against the East Indian Company (Mysore wars). General Wellesley (once to become Duke of Wellington and Prime Minister) led the 1798-99 campaign which resulted in the catching of the sultan’s capital, Seringapatam, and his ultimate death in action. In China, the British government sent a mission under Minister MacCartney which was to raise considerable expectations in the City of London and ultimately cause the two Opium Wars later in the century…

Italy:

The whole area had been shaken to the roots by the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797), whose provisions made for the suppression of the Dukedom of Savoy and the Republic of Venice, institutions dating back some 800 years… Following the brilliant campaign of Suvorov and Melas in 1799, which had resulted in the restoration of Austrian order, Bonaparte in Italy and Moreau in Germany were to secure a new advance for nationalist interests, at the expense of Austria, royalty and the Papacy, thus paving the way for the ultimate unification of the country over the course of the new century.

Central and Eastern Europe:

Emperor Francis II reluctantly accepted defeat at Treaty of Lunéville (1801) and did not enter a new coalition until 1805. The ancient institution of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was to be then suppressed by Napoleon, which would ultimately result in Germany unification and much World unrest.

The new tsar Paul Ist, having taken lessons from his unfortunate participation in the 2nd Coalition, changed tack by early 1800. He started leaning towards combined French-Russian actions in Asia, set up the League of Neutral Nations with Danemark, Prussia and Sweden to challenge British rule in the Northern Seas… England felt dramatically threatened and the tsar was found strangled on 23rd March, 1801… The next tsar, Alexander Ist, had received a liberal education from La Harpe, a Swiss preceptor, and initially felt inclined towards Enlightening. In the end, he was to lead the Holy Alliance of reactionary powers from 1815 on.

In spite of the equivoqual conclusion of the heroic retreat of Suvorov and his Cossaks across the Alps, Russian regard for such difficult endavour was to remain unabated over the course of time. Both in 1899 and in 1999, military detachments were sent all the way from Russia down to the St-Gothard Pass to commemorate the heroic episode of 1799. The highest military distinction in the Red Army has been to this day the Suvorov Medal…

Switzerland:

In many ways the Helvetic Republic was but the brainchild of foreign influence. In consideration of its premacy, the French Republic had also seized the independent town of Mülhausen in Alsace, in addition to further territories South of Basle in the Jura mountain and to the Republic of Geneva which had actually never been part of Switzerland. Nevertheless Swiss officers and soldiers were to play a significant role along the French during the forthcoming campaigns across Europe, with Generals Jomini and Dufour being the most prominent figures.

Although the Helvetic Republic was to disappear in 1803 to the benefice of a remake of the ancient Swiss Confederation, a seed had been left that would once grow into a modern and truly democratic federation at the occasion of the 1848 uprising. Many features of present Switzerland actually date back to this tumultuous period, e. g. Civil Code, Franc, metric system, administrative organisation in Neuchâtel and Geneva… Jews in Geneva have acquired civil rights among the first in the world, alike those in rhe rest of France. The Museum of Fine Arts in Geneva still displays a number of paintings received as catches from Italy at the time. Last but not least, several Alpine passes were then upgraded for military purposes, most notably the Simplon Pass (2005 m.) which allows crossing around the year.

Two hundred years later, Switzerland is still much hesitant about joining into the European Union, whilst the United Kingdom, albeit having joined in, keeps cold about it altogether. One may observe that Switzerland is actually holding on to its long-standing neutrality, whilst London still long for the time when it used to mastermind coalitions across Europe, hence keeping to its splendid isolation from the time of Queen Victoria.

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