Battle of La Favorita, 16 January 1797

The battle of La Favorita (16 January 1797) was a French victory that ended the fourth and final Austrian attempt to lift the siege of Mantua. That relief effort had involved two main Austrian armies. General Alvinczy advanced down the Adige valley with the main army, while a second force under General Provera advanced towards Mantua from the east.

Both Austrian armies were on the move by 10 January. Provera divided his 17,000 men into two corps. Bajalich was sent towards Verona, while Provera lead 8,000 men towards Legnago. The Austrian plan soon began to unravel. On 12 January Bajalich attacked Verona, and was repulsed at San Michele with the loss of 1,500-2,000 men. Two days later, at Rivoli (14 January), the main force was also defeated, and Alvinczy was forced to retreat with the remains of his army.

Austrian Relief of Mantua, 1796-97
Austrian Relief of Mantua,
1796-97

This only left Provera. On 13 January he threw a bridge across the Adige at Angiaro and on the following day slipped past Augereau. When Augereau realised what had happened, he fell on Provera's rearguard, taking around 2,000 prisoners. Provera, with his remaining 7,000 men, arrived at La Favorita outside Mantua on 15 January, and prepared to attack Sérurier's forces outside the city.

Napoleon was informed of these events on 14 January, and with the battle at Rivoli won turned south and dashed towards Mantua. Despite having made a night march on 13-14 January then fought all day Masséna's division was ordered to follow, and on the morning of 16 January Masséna was north of La Favorita.

On 16 January Provera thus found himself pinned between two French forces. Würmser made a sortie from Mantua, but was unable to break through Serurier's lines, and eventually Provera was forced to surrender with his entire force. The French took at least 5,000 prisoners on the day, completed the virtual destruction of the Austrian armies involved in the fourth attempt to break the siege of Mantua. Two weeks later Würmser was finally forced to surrender, and the siege of Mantua was over. Napoleon was free to cross the Alps into Austria.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 February 2009), Battle of La Favorita, 16 January 1797 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_la_favorita.html

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