Saturday, 7 March 2015

war diaries part 9

We last heard of Francais and the 20th marching down into the valley to assault the Austrians, his adventure continues.

20th April 1800
We have been split into three assault columns,we are attached to the centre column Commanded by a Polish General called Joboniosky. It will be a hard battle. The Austrians hold a position in the mountains of Burmida the approach is very difficult with lots of cover for the enemy. We the 20th are to from the skirmish line and to cover the approach of the column.
The first French columns advance on the Austrian skirmish line.

We advance quickly ahead of the lead column the area below the mountains and village of Mallare
The view from the other side of the valley Austrian infantry watch as The French infantry columns advance.

 This area was thick with Austrian light infantry in there grey uniforms these men must have been sharp shooters, there fire was very deadly. They hit many officers, I myself had a lucky escape a ball took the hat clean off my head, as we moved from cover to cover. It was a hot fire fight but we slowly man the enemy wall back, and we made head way towards the village above us. Then the enemy skirmish line vanished as the head of our lead column arrived.
We could see white coated line infantry moving into position to take on our column, we had lost 36 men killed or wounded in the skirmishes we moved to the flanks as the enemy light infantry had returned and we're starting to pick off officers as they advanced with the column.
The fire from the enemy was extremely heavy our lead column was being shot down, dispirited they could not advance into such fire. Men were falling all around us, we're are the other columns we have no support. We try to hold but we are forced to withdraw, the enemy firing volleys all the time.
We have lost heavily 47 men dead over 80 wounded or missing. 2 Captains both our Sous - lieutenants 1 Sargent were killed by their sharp shooters, our drummer was killed as we withdraw.
We fell back to Bormida were we quickly regrouped.
The second column had meet the same fate as us, and a short while later the third column was forced to withdraw to Bormida.
We deployed quickly expecting the Austrians to arrive at any moment, the their light infantry moved on our position and started to fire on us we fired volley fire back, but the Austrian regulars never approached.
 We must withdraw As we are out numbered by the enemy. This will bring us further away from Massena, and the re at of the army, but we can not stay here as we will be compelled to surrender.
More adventure is part 10