The Battle of Marengo, 1800, Olivier Lapray

The Battle of Marengo, 1800, Olivier Lapray

The battle of Marengo is one of Napoleon's most famous victories, helping to secure his new position as First Consul of France, but it wasn't one of his better battles. If the Austrians hadn't relaxed, thinking the battle was won, or French reinforcements arrived just in time, then the battle would have been lost, and Napoleon's career might have ended rather more quickly than it did.

This book does rather represent the French point of view. The campaign that restored Austrian control of northern Italy, and in the process undid Napoleon's achievements during his first campaign in Italy, only gets one paragraph. Likewise Moreau's victories in Germany, ending at Hohenlinde, which secured French victory in the war, only gets one paragraph. This is very much Napoleon's story.

The translation is a little rough around the edges. Boudet's division is referred to as 'The Boudet Division' and ranks get an unneeded 'the' (as in 'The General Boudet attacked'),

The impressive section on the two armies devotes equal space to the French and Austrian side, with full colour illustrations of troops for a wide range of units. These include modern illustrations and where available contemporary pictures (many from a guide to uniforms of 1798). The entire book is lavishly illustrated, and the text is well supported with maps.

This is a decent account of the battle of Marengo, but its main strength is the splendid collection of pictures, which cover the entire French expedition from the crossing of the Alps (often in rather over dramatised form) to the aftermath of the battle.

The Second Campaign of Italy
The French Army
The Austrian Army
The Battle of Marengo
The Charge of General Kellermann

Author: Olivier Lapray
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 144
Publisher: Histoire & Collections
Year: 2014

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