The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) was the second war on revolutionary France by the European monarchies, led by Britain, Austria and Russia, and including the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, various German monarchies and Sweden. Their goal was to contain the expansion of the French Republic and to restore the monarchy in France. They failed to overthrow the revolutionary regime and French territorial gains since 1793 were confirmed. In the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, France held all of its previous gains and obtained new lands in Tuscany, Italy, while Austria was granted Venetia and the Dalmatian coast. Britain and France signed the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802, bringing an interval of peace in Europe that lasted for 14 months. By May 1803 Britain and France were again at war and in 1805 Britain assembled the Third Coalition to resume the war against France.
|War of the Second Coalition|
|Part of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Coalition Wars|
Louis-François Lejeune: the Battle of Marengo
(Quasi-War) (until 1800)
|Commanders and leaders|
On 20 April 1792, the French Legislative Assembly declared war on Austria. In the War of the First Coalition (1792–97), France fought against most of the states with which it shared a border, as well as Great Britain, Portugal and the Ottoman Empire. Although the Coalition forces achieved several victories at the outset of the war, they were ultimately repulsed from French territory and then lost significant territories to the French, who began to set up client republics in their occupied territories. The efforts of Napoleon Bonaparte in the northern Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars pushed Austrian forces back and resulted in the negotiation of the Treaty of Leoben (18 April 1797) and the subsequent Treaty of Campo Formio (October 1797).
In the summer of 1798, Bonaparte led an expedition to Egypt, where his army was trapped and which, after he returned to France, surrendered. Meanwhile, during his absence from Europe, the outbreak of violence in Switzerland drew French support against the old Swiss Confederation. When revolutionaries overthrew the cantonal government in Bern, the French Army of the Alps invaded, ostensibly to support the Swiss Republicans. In northern Italy, Russian general Aleksandr Suvorov won a string of victories, driving the French under Moreau out of the Po Valley, forcing them back on the French Alps and the coast around Genoa. However, the Russian armies in the Helvetic Republic were defeated by French commander André Masséna, and Suvorov eventually withdrew. Ultimately the Russians left the Coalition when Great Britain insisted on the right to search all vessels it stopped at sea. In Germany, Archduke Charles of Austria drove the French under Jean-Baptiste Jourdan back across the Rhine and won several victories in Switzerland. Jourdan was replaced by Massena, who then combined the Armies of the Danube and Helvetia.
From October 1797 until March 1799, the signatories of the Treaty of Campo Formio avoided armed conflict. Despite their agreement at Campo Formio, two primary combatants, France and Austria, remained suspicious of each other and several diplomatic incidents undermined the agreement. The French demanded additional territory not mentioned in the Treaty. The Habsburgs were reluctant to hand over designated territories, much less additional ones. The Congress at Rastatt proved inept at orchestrating the transfer of territories to compensate the German princes for their losses. Ferdinand of Naples refused to pay tribute to France, followed by the Neapolitan rebellion and the subsequent establishment of the Parthenopaean Republic. Republicans in the Swiss cantons, supported by the French army, overthrew the central government in Bern and established the Helvetic Republic.
Other factors contributed to the rising tensions. On his way to Egypt, Napoleon had stopped at the heavily fortified port city of Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, who ruled the island, would only allow two ships at a time into the harbour, in accordance with the island's neutrality. Bonaparte immediately ordered the bombardment of Valletta and on 11 June, General Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers directed a landing of several thousand French troops at strategic locations around the island. The French Knights of the order deserted, and the remaining Knights failed to mount a successful resistance. Bonaparte forcibly removed the other Knights from their possessions, angering Paul, Tsar of Russia, who was the honorary head of the Order. The French Directory, furthermore, was convinced that the Austrians were conniving to start another war. Indeed, the weaker the French Republic seemed, the more seriously the Austrians, the Neapolitans, the Russians and the British actually discussed this possibility.
Military planners in Paris understood that the Upper Rhine Valley, the south-western German territories, and Switzerland were strategically important for the defence of the Republic. The Swiss passes commanded access to northern Italy; consequently, the army that held those passes could move troops to and from northern and southern theatres quickly.
Toward this end, in early November 1798, Jourdan arrived in Hüningen to take command of the French forces there, the so-called Army of Observation because its function was to observe the security of the French border on the Rhine. Once there, he assessed the quality and disposition of the forces and identified needed supplies and manpower. He found the army woefully inadequate for its assignment. The Army of the Danube, and its two flanking armies, the Army of Helvetia and the Army of Mayence, or Mainz, were equally short of manpower, supplies, ammunition, and training; most resources were already directed to the Army in Northern Italy, and Army of Britain, and the Egyptian expedition. Jourdan documented assiduously these shortages, pointing out in lengthy correspondence to the Directory the consequences of an under-manned and under-supplied army; his petitions seemed to have little effect on the Directory, which sent neither significant additional manpower nor supplies.
Jourdan's orders were to take the army into Germany and secure strategic positions, particularly on the south-west roads through Stockach and Schaffhausen, at the western-most border of Lake Constance. Similarly, as commander of the Army of Helvetia (Switzerland), Andre Massena would acquire strategic positions in Switzerland, in particular the St. Gotthard Pass, the passes above Feldkirch, particularly Maienfeld (St. Luciensteig), and hold the central plateau in and around Zürich and Winterthur. These positions would prevent the Allies of the Second Coalition from moving troops back and forth between the northern Italian and German theatres, but would allow French access to these strategic passes. Ultimately, this positioning would allow the French to control all western roads leading to and from Vienna. Finally, the army of Mayence would sweep through the north, blocking further access to and from Vienna from any of the northern Provinces, or from Britain.
The coalition first began to come together on 19 May 1798 when Austria and the Kingdom of Naples signed an alliance in Vienna. The first military action under the alliance occurred on November 29 when Austrian General Karl Mack occupied Rome and restored Papal authority with a Neapolitan army. 
By December 1, the Kingdom of Naples had signed alliances with both Russia and Great Britain. And by 2 January 1799, additional alliances were in place between Russia, Great Britain, and the Ottoman Empire. 
In Europe, the allies mounted several invasions, including campaigns in Italy and Switzerland and an Anglo-Russian invasion of the Netherlands. Russian general Aleksandr Suvorov inflicted a series of defeats on the French in Italy, driving them back to the Alps. However, the allies were less successful in the Netherlands, where the British retreated after a defeat at Castricum, and in Switzerland, where after initial victories a Russian army was completely routed at the Second Battle of Zurich. These reverses, as well as British insistence on searching shipping in the Baltic Sea led to Russia withdrawing from the Coalition.
Napoleon himself invaded Syria from Egypt, but after a failed siege of Acre he retreated to Egypt, repelling a British-Turkish invasion. Alerted to the political and military crisis in France, he returned, leaving his army behind, and used his popularity and army support to mount a coup that made him First Consul, the head of the French government.
Napoleon sent Moreau to campaign in Germany, and went himself to raise a new army at Dijon and march through Switzerland to attack the Austrian armies in Italy from behind. Narrowly avoiding defeat, he defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo and reoccupied northern Italy.
Prior to the Acts of Union of July/August 1800, Ireland was a separate kingdom, with its own Parliament, held in a personal union with Great Britain under the Crown. In response to the 1798 United Irishmen revolt, it became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, effective January 1 1800.
The Austrians negotiated the Treaty of Lunéville, basically accepting the terms of the previous Treaty of Campo Formio. In Egypt, the Ottomans and British invaded and finally compelled the French to surrender after the fall of Cairo and Alexandria.
Britain continued the war at sea. A coalition of non-combatants including Prussia, Russia, Denmark, and Sweden joined to protect neutral shipping from Britain's blockade, resulting in Nelson's surprise attack on the Danish fleet in harbour at the Battle of Copenhagen.
In December 1801, France despatched the Saint-Domingue expedition to recapture the island, which had been independent since the 1791 Haitian Revolution. This included over 30,000 troops, many experienced and elite veterans but ended in catastrophic failure; by the end of 1802, an estimated 15,000 - 22,000 had died of disease and yellow fever, among them Napoleon's brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc.
In 1802, Britain and France signed the Treaty of Amiens, ending the war. Thus began the longest period of peace during the period 1792–1815. The treaty is generally considered to be the most appropriate point to mark the transition between the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, although Napoleon was not crowned emperor until 1804.
Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer (18 December 1747 – 19 August 1804), born in Delle, near Belfort, became a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars and on three occasions led armies in battle.Battle of Cassano (1799)
The Battle of Cassano d'Adda was fought on 27 April 1799 near Cassano d'Adda, about 28 km (17 mi) ENE of Milan. It resulted in a victory for the Austrians and Russians under Alexander Suvorov over Jean Moreau's French army. The action took place during the War of the Second Coalition during the larger conflict known as the French Revolutionary Wars.Battle of Hohenlinden
The Battle of Hohenlinden was fought on 3 December 1800, during the French Revolutionary Wars. A French army under Jean Victor Marie Moreau won a decisive victory over the Austrians and Bavarians led by Archduke John of Austria. After being forced into a disastrous retreat, the allies were compelled to request an armistice that effectively ended the War of the Second Coalition. Hohenlinden is 33 km east of Munich in modern Germany.
General of Division (MG) Moreau's 56,000 strong army engaged some 64,000 Austrians and Bavarians. The Austrians, believing they were pursuing a beaten enemy, moved through heavily wooded terrain in four disconnected columns. Instead, Moreau ambushed the Austrians as they emerged from the Ebersberg forest while launching MG Antoine Richepanse's division in a surprise envelopment of the Austrian left flank. Displaying superb individual initiative, Moreau's generals managed to encircle and smash the largest Austrian column.
This crushing victory, coupled with First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte's victory at the Battle of Marengo on 14 June 1800, ended the War of the Second Coalition. In February 1801, the Austrians signed the Treaty of Lunéville, accepting French control up to the Rhine and the French puppet republics in Italy and the Netherlands. The subsequent Treaty of Amiens between France and Britain began the longest break in the wars of the Napoleonic period.Battle of Magnano
In the Battle of Magnano on 5 April 1799, an Austrian army commanded by Pál Kray defeated a French army led by Barthélemy Schérer. In subsequent battles, the Austrians and their Russian allies drove the French out of nearly all of Italy. This action was fought during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.Battle of Messkirch
The Battle of Messkirch was fought on 4 and 5 May 1800 and resulted the victory of French army against the Austrians.Battle of Modena (1799)
The Battle of Modena (12 June 1799) saw a Republican French army commanded by Jacques MacDonald attack a Habsburg Austrian covering force led by Prince Friedrich Franz Xaver of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. The outnumbered Austrians were defeated but in an accidental encounter, MacDonald was painfully wounded by two saber cuts. The action occurred during the War of the Second Coalition, part of a larger conflict known as the French Revolutionary Wars. Modena is a city in northern Italy about 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Bologna.
In the battles of Magnano and Cassano, the Austrians and allied Russian Empire forces swept the French from much of northern Italy in April 1799. MacDonald collected the French occupying forces in south and central Italy into an army and marched north to retrieve the situation. Bursting out of the Apennine Mountains, the French mauled Hohenzollern's division at Modena. MacDonald swung west to fight the Coalition forces. The next action would be the Battle of Trebbia from 17 to 19 June.Battle of Ostrach
The Battle of Ostrach, also called the Battle by Ostrach, occurred on 20–21 March 1799. It was the first non-Italy-based battle of the War of the Second Coalition. The battle resulted in the victory of the Austrian forces, under the command of Archduke Charles, over the French forces, commanded by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan.
The battle occurred during Holy Week, 1799, amid rain and dense fog. Initially, the French were able to take, and hold, Ostrach and the nearby hamlet of Hoßkirch plus several strategic points on the Ostrach marsh. As the engagement began, Habsburg numerical superiority overwhelmed French defenses. By evening, the French left wing was flanked and Jourdan's men retreated from Ostrach to the Pfullendorf heights. On the next morning, as Jourdan considered a counter-attack, the weather broke, and he could look down on the Austrian battle array. The numbers and dispositions of the Austrians convinced him that any attack would be useless, and that he could not hope to maintain his position in the heights. As he withdrew, a portion of his right flank was cut off from the main force.
Although casualties appeared even on both sides, the Austrians had a significantly larger fighting force, both on the field at Ostrach, and stretched along a line between Lake Constance and Ulm. French casualties amounted to eight percent of the force and Austrian, approximately four percent. The French withdrew to Engen and Stockach, where a few days later the armies engaged again, this time with greater losses on both sides, and an Austrian victory.Battle of Pozzolo
The Battle of Pozzolo (also known as the Battle of the Mincio River, and Monzambano) was fought on 25 December 1800 and resulted the difficult victory of French under General Brune against Austrians under General Bellegarde.
Following the armistice agreed after the Battle of Marengo the Austrians had held the line of the Mincio river. The French Army of Reserve was now commanded by Brune after Napoleon's departure for Paris. On Christmas Day 1800, he attacked the Austrian positions and broke their line. The Austrians fell back eastwards over the Adige River. Two days later the armistice was renewed.Battle of Stockach (1799)
The [First] Battle of Stockach occurred on 25 March 1799, when French and Austrian armies fought for control of the geographically strategic Hegau region in present-day Baden-Württemberg. In the broader military context, this battle constitutes a keystone in the first campaign in southwestern Germany during the Wars of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.
It was the second battle between the French Army of the Danube, commanded by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, and the Habsburg Army under Archduke Charles; the armies had met a few days earlier, 20–22 March, on the marshy fields southeast of Ostrach and the Pfullendorf heights. The Austrian Army's superior strength, almost three-to-one, forced the French to withdraw.
At Stockach, the French concentrated their forces into shorter lines, creating intense fighting conditions; initially, Charles's line was more extended, but he quickly pulled additional troops from his reserves to strengthen his front. When a small French force commanded by Dominique Vandamme nearly flanked the Austrian Army, Charles's personal intervention was crucial for the Austrians, buying time for reinforcements to arrive. General Jourdan, while trying to rally his men, was nearly trampled to death. Ultimately, the French were driven back upon the Rhine River.Battle of Stockach (1800)
The [Second] Battle of Stockach and Engen was fought on 3 May 1800 between the army of the First French Republic under Jean Victor Marie Moreau and the army of Habsburg Austria led by Pál Kray. The fighting near Engen resulted in a stalemate with heavy losses on both sides. However, while the two main armies were engaged at Engen, Claude Lecourbe captured Stockach from its Austrian defenders (the latter commanded by Joseph, Prince of Lorraine-Vaudemont). The loss of his main supply base at Stockach compelled Kray to order a retreat. Stockach is located near the northwestern end of Lake Constance while Engen is 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Stockach. The action occurred during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.Battle of Verona (1799)
Battle of Verona on 26 March 1799 saw a Habsburg Austrian army under Pál Kray fight a First French Republic army led by Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer. The battle encompassed three separate combats on the same day. At Verona, the two sides battled to a bloody draw. At Pastrengo to the west of Verona, French forces prevailed over their Austrian opponents. At Legnago to the southeast of Verona, the Austrians defeated their French adversaries. The battle was fought during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Verona is a city on the Adige River in northern Italy.Battle of Wiesloch (1799)
The Battle of Wiesloch (German: Schlacht bei Wiesloch) occurred on 3 December 1799, during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Lieutenant Field Marshal Anton Count Sztáray de Nagy-Mihaly commanded the far right wing protecting the main Austrian army in Swabia, under the command of Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen. With the victory at Wiesloch (on 3 December), Sztáray's force drove the French from the right bank of the Rhine and relieved the fortress at Philippsburg.Battle of Winterthur
For the battle of 919, see Burchard II, Duke of Swabia.
The Battle of Winterthur (27 May 1799) was an important action between elements of the Army of the Danube and elements of the Habsburg army, commanded by Friedrich Freiherr von Hotze, during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The small town of Winterthur lies 18 kilometers (11 mi) northeast of Zürich, in Switzerland. Because of its position at the junction of seven roads, the army that held the town controlled access to most of Switzerland and points crossing the Rhine into southern Germany. Although the forces involved were small, the ability of the Austrians to sustain their 11-hour assault on the French line resulted in the consolidation of three Austrian forces on the plateau north of Zürich, leading to the French defeat a few days later.
By mid-May 1799, the Austrians had wrested control of parts of Switzerland from the French as forces under the command of Hotze and Count Heinrich von Bellegarde pushed them out of the Grisons. After defeating Jean-Baptiste Jourdan's 25,000-man Army of the Danube at the battles of Ostrach and Stockach, the main Austrian army, under command of Archduke Charles, crossed the Rhine at the Swiss town of Schaffhausen and prepared to unite with the armies of Hotze and Friedrich Joseph, Count of Nauendorf, on the plains surrounding Zürich.
The French Army of Helvetia and the Army of the Danube, now both under the command of André Masséna, sought to prevent this merger. Masséna sent Michel Ney and a small mixed cavalry and infantry force from Zürich to stop Hotze's force at Winterthur. Despite a sharp contest, the Austrians succeeded in pushing the French out of the Winterthur highlands, although both sides took high casualties. Once the union of the Habsburg armies took place in early June, Archduke Charles attacked French positions at Zürich and forced the French to withdraw beyond the Limmat.Convention of Alessandria
The Convention of Alessandria (also known as the Armistice of Marengo) was a treaty signed on 15 June 1800 between the French First Republic led by Napoleon and Austria during the War of the Second Coalition. Following the Austrian defeat at the Battle of Marengo, they agreed to evacuate Italy as far as the Mincio and abandon strongholds in Piedmont and Milan. Great Britain and Austria were allies and hoped to negotiate a peace treaty with France, but Napoleon insisted on separate treaties with each nation. The negotiations failed, and fighting resumed on 22 November 1800.First Battle of Zurich
In the First Battle of Zurich on 4 – 7 June 1799, French general André Masséna was forced to yield the city to the Austrians under Archduke Charles and retreat beyond the Limmat, where he managed to fortify his positions, resulting in a stalemate.
The Helvetic Republic in 1798 became a battlefield of the French Revolutionary Wars. During the summer, Russian troops under general Korsakov replaced the Austrian troops, and in the Second Battle of Zurich, the French regained control of the city, along with the rest of Switzerland.Second Battle of Marengo (1799)
The Second Battle of Marengo or Battle of Cascina Grossa (20 June 1799) saw Republican French troops under General of Division Jean Victor Marie Moreau clash with a force of Habsburg Austrian soldiers led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Heinrich von Bellegarde. The early fighting between Emmanuel Grouchy's division and Bellegarde was inconclusive. However, late in the day Moreau committed Paul Grenier's French division to the struggle and the Austrians were driven from the field. This War of the Second Coalition battle occurred near Spinetta Marengo which is just east of Alessandria, Italy.
Moreau was supposed to cooperate with Jacques MacDonald's army which was grappling with Alexander Suvorov's Austro-Russians at the Battle of Trebbia to the east. When Moreau moved north, Bellegarde offered battle because his task was to keep the French from joining MacDonald. Moreau was too late; that day MacDonald's defeated army began to retreat from the Trebbia River. The French victory was barren because Moreau soon had to withdraw to the mountains to avoid being caught by Suvorov's returning soldiers.Second Battle of Novi (1799)
The Second Battle of Novi or Battle of Bosco (24 October 1799) saw a Republican French corps under General of Division Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr face a division of Habsburg Austrian soldiers led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Andreas Karaczay. For several hours the Austrians defended themselves stoutly, relying on their superior cavalry and artillery. By the end of the day the French and allied Poles routed the Austrians from their positions in this War of the Second Coalition action. Novi Ligure is south of Alessandria, Italy.
A string of defeats, culminating with the Battle of Novi on 15 August 1799 left the French Army of Italy clinging to Genoa, Cuneo and the crests of the Ligurian Alps. An Austrian threat to Genoa was met with Saint-Cyr's strong thrust north through Novi against Karaczay's division at Bosco Marengo. Farther west, Jean Étienne Championnet with the main body of the Army of Italy clashed with Michael von Melas's Austrians at Genola on 4 November.Second Battle of Zurich
The Second Battle of Zurich (25–26 September 1799) was a key victory by the Republican French army in Switzerland led by André Masséna over an Austrian and Russian force commanded by Alexander Korsakov near Zürich. It broke the stalemate that had resulted from the First Battle of Zurich three months earlier and led to the withdrawal of Russia from the Second Coalition. Most of the fighting took place on both banks of the river Limmat up to the gates of Zürich, and within the city itself.Siege of Genoa (1800)
During the Siege of Genoa (6 April – 4 June 1800) the Austrians besieged and captured Genoa. However, this was a pyrrhic victory as the smaller French force at Genoa under André Masséna had diverted enough Austrian troops to enable Napoleon to win the Battle of Marengo and defeat the Austrians.
War of the Second Coalition