Battle of Piave River
L'armée française franchissant la Piave en 1809.
1809 May 8

Battle of Piave River

Nervesa della Battaglia, Italy
The initial Austrian invasion of Venetia succeeded in driving the Franco-Italian defenders back to Verona. At the beginning of May, news of Austrian defeats in Bavaria and inferiority in numbers caused Archduke John to begin retreating to the northeast. When he heard that his enemies were crossing the Piave, the Austrian commander turned back to give battle, intending to slow Eugène's pursuit of his army. Eugène ordered his vanguard across the river early in the morning. It soon ran into vigorous Austrian resistance, but the arrival of French cavalry stabilized the situation by mid-morning. Rapidly rising waters hampered the buildup of French infantry reinforcements and prevented a significant portion of Eugène's army from crossing at all. In the late afternoon, Eugène launched his main attack which turned John's left flank and finally overran his main line of defense. Damaged but not destroyed, the Austrians continued their withdrawal into Carinthia (in modern-day Austria) and Carniola (in modern-day Slovenia).