Bonaparte in Italy
The Defense of Mantua & the Quadrilateral, July 29, 1796 - January 30, 1797
Like a thunderstorm from out of the Alpine foothills, Marshal Wurmser's Austrian army jolted the French advanced guard of General Massena from their entrenched heights on Monte Baldo. Bonaparte summarized the bleak situation: "The enemy have broken through our line in three places; they are masters of La Corona and Rivoli. Massena has been compelled to yield to superior forces; Sauret has begun his retreat to Desenzano, and the enemy has captured Brescia and the bridge of Ponte San Marco. You see that our communications with Milian are cut off."
Ordering Augereau to join him at Roverbella, Bonaparte directed Serurier to raise the siege of Mantova and fall back, to cover the alternate line of communication via Cremona. Although this meant abandoning the precious siege guns, it gave the French the freedom to unite their forces and engage on their own terms, massing against each Austrian wing in turn.