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Wysyłka w ciągu: 45 dni
Wydawca: HELION

‘You have to die in Piedmont!’ An old folk song, still played in the western Alps, tells of the French regiments that were coming from the Mongeneve Pass in order to attack a combined Austro-Sardinian force entrenched on the Assietta Plateau, 2,500 metres up in the Cottian Alps. This crucial position controlled two main roads from France to the Kingdom of Sardinia’s capital, Turin. The battle occurred on 19 June 1747, and was the bloodiest single day action not only of the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) in Italy, but in the whole military history of the Alps.

The strategic goal of the French offensive was the siege and the capture of the Fort of Exilles, in the Susa Valley on the road from Briançon to Turin. An army of about 20,000 soldiers under the command of the Chevalier de Belle-Isle was divided into two corps: one went down the Moncenisio towards Exilles, while the other advanced towards the Val Chisone to attack the Assietta ridge from the south. Having predicted that the French would move through the area, Carlo Emanuele III of Savoy had fortified the area with an entrenched camp garrisoned with 7,000 men. French intelligence discovered that the allied forces were fortifying the pass, while the main Austrian army had left the siege of Genoa to reach the Alps. So, the decision was taken to attack immediately. The forces involved amounted to 32 French battalions against nine Sardinian and four Austrian battalions. Despite the desperate effort of the soldiers and the personal valour of the French officers, all the attacks were repulsed with heavy losses. In a matter of three hours of murderous combat, some 5,000 soldiers, out of 27,000 men engaged, became casualties: even the French commander, Belle-Isle, was killed in the struggle. From that day, the Battle of Assietta became a sort of military legend for the Sardinian forces, and subsequently for the Italian Army, but no serious attempt to reconstruct the event was ever made. Only at the end of the nineteenth century did the French try to develop a more detailed study of the struggle by publishing the manuscript written by Lieutenant-Général de Vault in the second half of eighteenth century. This is therefore the first full work to address the history of this battle, based firmly on extensive archival and printed sources, and fully supported by maps and illustrations as well as a comprehensive index.