We are getting the worst of it in Italy; we've evacuated Mantua after a series of disasters on the Trebia, and Joubert has just lost a battle at Novi. I only hope Massena may be able to hold the Swiss passes against Suwarow. We're done for on the Rhine. The Directory have sent Moreau. The question is, Can he defend the frontier?
His election as grand-master of the Maltese order dispersed by Napoleon had furnished him with a sort of right of interference in the affairs of the Levant and of Italy. On the 1st of March, 1799, the Ionian Islands, Corfu, etc., were occupied by Russian troops, and a Russian army, under the terrible Suwarow, moved, in conjunction with the troops of Austria, upon Italy.
In the next year, 1799, the conditions of things changed; and while Milan was recovered by Austria, and the Russian army, led by Suwarow, completed the expulsion of the French from Northern and Southern Italy, the Parthenopean Republic expired, and the Bourbon flag waved once more over the walls of Naples.
These disasters were counterbalanced by the splendid victory gained by Melas in Italy, at Savigliano, over Championnet, who attempted to save Genoa. Austria was no sooner deprived in Suwarow of the most efficient of her allies than she was attacked by her most dangerous foe. Bonaparte returned from Egypt.
The government had asked for a hundred million of francs and a hundred thousand men as immediate reinforcements for the armies then fighting the Austrians in Italy, the Prussians in Germany, and menaced in Switzerland by the Russians, in whom Suwarow had inspired hopes of the conquest of France. In presence of such aggressions the Republic recovered its pristine energy.
The king of Sardinia, whom Suwarow desired to restore to his throne, was forbidden to enter his states by the Austrians, who intended to retain possession of them for some time longer.
He was opposed on the lake of Klonthal by Molitor, who was, however, forced to retire by Auffenberg, who had joined Suwarow at Altorf and formed his advanced guard, Rosen, at the same time, beating off Massena with the rear-guard, taking five cannons and one thousand of his men prisoners.
He told me a number of anecdotes of Suwarow, which prove that that warrior studied a great deal, although he preserved the original instinct which is connected with the immediate knowledge of men and things. He carefully concealed his studies to strike with greater force the imagination of his troops, by assuming in all things an air of inspiration.
On looking at him, I was afraid that he had not sufficient strength to struggle with the rough young men who were pouncing upon Russia from all corners of Europe: but the Russian courtiers at Petersburg become Tartars at the army: and we have seen by Suwarow that neither age nor honors can enervate their physical and moral energy.
Shortly afterwards, under pretence of having discovered a conspiracy, in which the Baron was implicated, he was outlawed. He then took refuge in Russia, where he was made a general, and as such distinguished him self under Suwarow during the campaign of 1799.