Battle Name : Custozza
Date(s) : 24 June 1866
Part of : Austro-Prussian "Seven Week" war ,
Outcome : A victory for Austrian Army over Italian army
Type of battle : Land
The forces of La Marmora advanced across the Mincio river into Venetia aiming to attack the Austrians under Archduke Albert in the Quadrilateral fortresses of north Italy. Albert however had prepared his troops well in advance and had the upper hand in intelligence. The overconfident Italians advanced without sending out a cavalry screen and the brigades became mixed, then ran straight into the leading brigades of the prepared Austrians. Brigades were thrown in piecemeal and badly coordinated with the Austrians being hard-pressed, but repelling and counter-attacking. A gallant cavalry charge against a reserve column began the rout, which became general. The Italians were driven back across the river and out of Venetia.
The hills around the village of Custozza between Villafranca and Lake Garda in the province of Venetia, northern Italy. (Italy)
In preparation for the expected attack, Archduke Albert sealed the borders of Venetia with cavalry pickets, making sure that he knew exactly which of the large Italian armies arrayed against were approaching and when. They in their turn were completely deprived of intelligence as to the Austrians whereabouts. Albert decided that as he was hopelessly outnumbered, his best form of defence was attack, to crush one of the Italian armies before they could operate in concert.
Eventually it was the forces of La Marmora that advanced across the Mincio river from Lombardy into Venetia first aiming to attack the Austrians in the Quadrilateral fortresses of north Italy. Albert however had prepared his troops well in advance and had the upper hand in intelligence. The overconfident Italians advanced without sending out a cavalry screen and the brigades became mixed, then ran straight into the leading brigades of the prepared Austrians.
In separate engagements around the hills of Monte Cricol the Italians attempted to dislodge the Austrian Jagers from their hilltop positions but the attacks were disorganised and confused. All were thrown back but at one point an Italian brigade of 8 battalions amounting to 5,000 men was advancing on the hill in column to reinforce the attack. 3 troops of Uhlan cavalry, 103 lancers in total, was sent against this column and managed to approach without being seen. Their charge was devastating, scattering almost the entire column sending it running back to the Mincio. One battalion held position, and cut the Uhlans down, but the tide had turned.
All alond the line the news was the same. Brigades were sent in piecemeal, or remained in locations un-engaged since La Marmora was sure the main Austrian force was not in the hills but on the plain to his right. Many Italian units stood firm, and rescued some of the Italian pride but by the time La Marmora realised the true picture, the Austrians had taken the high ground of Monte Vento commanding the plain to the river and almost spliting the Italians in two.
La Marmora ordered the retreat, which in practice was happening already, and only the exhaustion and battle fatigue of the Austrians prevented thousands being captured on the east bank of the Mincio waiting to cross.
Archduke Albert and the Austrians withdrew to the River Adige to protect the fortresses against a second Italian army under Cialdini advancing into Venetia from Romagna, but news reached them of the result at Custozza and they retired back into Romagna.
- Number engaged :
- Casualties :
- 5,650 (9.42%)
- Number engaged :
- Casualties :
- 8,147 (6.79%)