The battle of Tolentino > Frederick Bianchi

Baron Frederick Bianchi duke of Casalanza, was born in Vienna in 1768; since his childhood, he showed a special disposition towards military life. He was only 11 when his mother died and he was entrusted to the care of a bourgeois from Vienna; this good-natured, thoughtful man followed the advice of an old officer and consented to invest Frederick's mother's modest heritage and pay for his board and tuition at the Military Engineer Corps Academy in Vienna. Frederick's father, Giacomo Bianchi, had been called to teach physics and chemistry at Paris University. He died in Paris around 1785.
Federico Bianchi Thanks to the influence of a few men of learning, who were friends of his father's, young Frederick was able to enter the Military Engineer Corps Academy in Vienna, where he soon made such progress to be appointed lieutenant in the Engineer Corps in Sirmia Slavonian army. In 1788, Laudhon, who commanded the army, opened the campaign laying siege to the strongholds of Dubitza and of Novi . This entreprise had failed several times, but it was successful in Dubitza. Bianchi was mentioned as one of those who had most distinguished themselves and the general appointed him first lieutenant. After peace was made with the Turks, lieutenant Bianchi assumed the command of the garrison of Gradisca fortress, but he was soon called back to the battlefields by the war that broke out in 1792. In 1793, when he was at the sieges of Valenciennes and of Quesnoy, he was made a captain towards the end of the former. He was called back to the Engineer Corps in 1795, joined marshal Wurmser's Army and reached Italy from the Rhine. He was again serving as a staff officer when Brescia was captured; he then took Joachim Murat prisoner, who was only an aide-de-camp at the time. On 14th January 1797, he commanded the count of Lusignano's column, which was composed of six battalions, and took his position at the base of mount Pipoli behind Rivoli. Colonel Lusignano ignored all the warnings he received and didn't take part in the battle. When the French came back to face Lusignano's column, after they had fought against the other troops, they found it hadn't moved; captain Bianchi was caught in the disastrous retreat and was taken to Milan as a prisoner. A few days later, he was given back his freedom thanks to an exchange Napoleon asked general Alvinzy; and was given a safe-conduct to return to Tyrol through the territory of Verona. At the end of 1798 prince Frederick of Orange assumed the command of the army and captain Bianchi was appointed his aide-de-camp. Unfortunately, the prince died before he could start the campaign. Nevertheless, the Emperor, who had been told about Bianchi's merits, entrusted him with the task of taking young archduke Ferdinand to archduke Charles, who was starting the 1799 campaign in Germany and in Switzerland. Even if he had been a lieutenant - colonel for only three months, Bianchi was appointed colonel thanks to archduke Ferdinand's loyalty. When peace was made, in 1804 colonel Bianchi, who had assumed the command of 48th infantry regiment, was entrusted with an expedition to Cattaro, whose inhabitants had been raised by the people of Montenegro.
Federico Bianchi At the end of the short compaign in Germany, adjutant - general Bianchi commanded the 48th regiment until 1807; in that year he was made a brigadier. In 1809 he took part in several battles in front of Ratisbon and in the retreat of Vienna. During the battle of Aspern, general Frederick Bianchi was given the command of the city. After this memorable combat, archduke Charles wanted to pass the Danube near Presburg, where they were trying to build a bridge as well as a trench on the right bank. The prince knew he could count on Bianchi's courage, so he sent him there with ten battalions, six squadrons and seventeen artillery pieces. They had just reached their positions, on 3rd June, when marshal Davoust arrived with his troops and tried to push the Austrians back beyond the Danube. Even if attacks were often repeated and artillery fire and bombing from the city were intense for three days and three nights, Bianchi resisted and managed to finish the bridge head, which he kept until the end of the battle of Wagram. Bianchi was immediately awarded Mary Therese's military cross.
Federico Bianchi In the same year he was promoted lieutenant-general; the following year he commanded the 63rd infantry regiment and was infantry inspector in Ungary. In 1813, Bianchi's division was placed in the reserves of the Great Army; on August 26th they were in front of Dresden and were ordered to attack the trench that was situated in front of Freyberg gate. When the enemies learned that Napoleon was coming back from Silesia, general Bianchi was attacked with such vigour, that he was only able to resist in front of the trenches thanks to a strenuous defence, which cost his division the lives of 200,000 men. Bianchi distinguished himself in the battle of Leipzig, where he maintained his position even if he ran the risk of being attacked from the rear side. In the night between 16th and 17th october, emperor Alexander asked prince Wolkonski for Saint George's cross, which he was wearing on his neck, and sent it to general Bianchi by one of his aides-de-camp as a reward for his behaviour during the sanguinary battle of Leipzig. The battle started again on 18th October; Bianchi's division had three thousand men who were either wounded or dead.
La battaglia di Lipsia On the day after the battle Bianchi was awarded Mary Therese's military commander's order cross. All the brigadiers and the division colonels were awarded the knight's cross of the same order. Such a rapid and distinguished promotion had never been seen in the Austrian army. In 1814 Bianchi commanded the first army corps; the vanguard division had occupied Fontainebleau when the French started their attack against Montereau. On 21st February, the first Austrian army corps was sent to Dijon to contrast general Augereau's advance. On 11th March the French attacked the Austrian troops and pushed them back as far as Macon, where they fought for several hours. In 1815 Murat, king of Naples, decided to fight against the Austrians in Italy; Bianchi was given the command of a large number of troops in order to put down Murat's unespected riot. When Napoleon came back from Elba Island, general Frimont, who commanded the Lombardy army, deprived general Bianchi of a part of his troops. Thus, Bianchi was left with only an army corps of about 20,000 men, who, according to general Frimont's order, were divided into two divisions and were separated by the Apennines.
Stemma del ducato di Casalanza This decision had been taken in order to join them when the Neapolitan army would reach Ancona; nevertheless, it was to have serious consequences. In fact, king Murat saw Bianchi's division coming from Foligno towards Tolentino, so he decided to fight lieutenant-general count of Neipperg's division in front of Senigallia, on the Adriatic coast, even if his troops were inferior in number; after that, he would attack Bianchi's division, which was heading for Macerata, with a larger army. General Frimont, who had foreseen Murat's plans, ordered general Bianchi to withdraw and avoid the combat if it was necessary. King Murat was known to be both courageous and expert in military matters; if he had managed to reach his State with his whole army, he would have continued the war as long as he wanted. Bianchi, who was confident both of his troops and of the strong position of Tolentino, decided to try and resist for two more days, so that count of Neipperg's division could reach him from Jesi. The outcome of the battle of Tolentino is known, as well as the events that followed. General Bianchi's exploits were appreciated as they deserved; several Courts granted him honours; king Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies made him duke of Casalanza and added a remarkable allowance. Emperor Francis granted him an increase in his salary, which baron Bianchi generously and tactfully employed for charity. Field-marshal lieutenant Bianchi was appointed brigadier general; he died in Sauer Brunn in 1855.

Untitled Page