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Napoleon's Campaign in Italy
The first campaign Napoleon undertook in Italy in 1796 is the focus of this chapter of Napoleon: Total War. Having been awarded the command of the Army of Italy this was an important step on his rise to power. By the time Napoleon returned to Paris at the end of 1797 he had become a French hero and humbled the once mighty nation of Austria. His clever tactics, and in particular his use of artillery, earned him several victories during this campaign.
With the ultimate target of Klagenfurt in the far distance under comfortable Austrian rule the campaign begins with Northern Italy. Your first task is to take the city of Coni and thereby secure the region of Cunco which is held by Piedmont-Sardinia. This campaign is relatively short (40 turns) and so there is no time to waste.
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Battle of Coni and General Tactics
You’ll begin with Napoleon on the right and it is a good idea to immediately advance and deal with the Austrian army lurking just over the border ahead of you. In the same turn take the army on the left and advance on Coni to siege it. It is always easier to defend than attack so just siege the city and let them attack you when you end the turn.
When the battle for Coni begins there is a hill on your left which makes a great place to set up. Find good vantage spots for your artillery and set them free from the horses immediately so that they can begin firing. Line your infantry up two men deep and try to create wedges so that at least two units are covering the same area of ground in front of them. Now let the enemy advance.
Once the enemy are in range of your infantry switch your artillery to use grapeshot and you’ll have them routing in no time. These basic tactics should serve you well for most battles. When the enemy has artillery you should try to use your cavalry to take them out, especially when they have been left unprotected. If you have to then it is well worth sacrificing your cavalry to silence their cannons. Always keep your General in a safe position, preferably behind the crest of a hill, because a lucky cannonball for the enemy can prove to be a real disaster for you.
It is best to peacefully occupy captured cities to safeguard future income and avoid too much unrest. Once you have Cunco build the Supply Post in the town of Mondovi immediately. This will help your men replenish their units after battle. There are very few building options so it is worth ordering every construction you can as soon as you have the money, for example the Merchant House in the town of Antibes. Developing buildings and roads will increase your income in the longer term.
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Battle of Turin and the end of Piedmont-Sardinia
Merge any healthy units from the battle of Coni with Napoleon’s force and advance to take Turin next. Once again it is best to lay siege and try to tempt the enemy into attacking you. The Turin map features an even better hill you can set up on. Dividing your force into a left and right flank you should be able to defend against attacks on both sides and rout the enemy easily.
Remember to give your troops some recuperation time, construct any buildings you can and send a few reinforcements to boost the army. There is a good chance the Piedmont-Sardinia faction will sue for peace now and become a Protectorate which means they pose no further risk to you. If they don’t then you can advance on Nuara. If they do then build your army for a couple of turns and then set up a trade agreement with them and see if you can get them to join the war against Austria.
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Taking Milan and Lodi and Dividing your Army
Milan is your next target and you can expect heavy Austrian resistance. When you are ready to advance, march through the Piedmont-Sardinia held lands and head straight for Milan. The battlefield is flat this time and with lots of Austrian reinforcements in the area a siege is a bad idea. Remember that even if the enemy is willing to surrender if you allow them to then you may end up fighting the same troops again in the future.
You should be able to take Lodi next. The Austrians don’t seem to put up much of a fight for it. At this stage you’ve probably been asked to take Mantua. Just wait for a moment and divide your forces into two armies. Bring new troops from Nice and Turin and make sure you have two decent forces with a mixture of infantry, artillery and cavalry.
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Take Parma and Mantua
The next two targets are Mantua and Modena but things are going to get a lot tougher when you advance because Venice and the Papal States are going to join the war and they aren’t on your side. Take Parma first simply because it lies in the way and it would be dangerous to leave it in Austrian hands.
Now you want to take the stronger army under Napoleon to the north and hit Mantua. You can expect a tough battle followed up by further Austrian attacks and the Venetians will get in on the act too. Consolidate your position and try to build some reinforcements.
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Capture Modena and Defend Against the Papal States
Meanwhile your second army should strike Modena. With Mantua it is best to wade straight in to battle, at Modena you can afford to siege. If the Papal States join the war then attack immediately. There is a good chance they’ll wait until you actually take Modena but you can expect an attack very soon after, so take the city with as few casualties as possible and replenish your army quickly.
This is the trickiest moment in the whole campaign because you are facing off against Venice, the Papal States and Austria all at once. Venice is the greatest immediate threat so target them first. You should be able to hold Modena from the Papal States without too much difficulty as long as you defend sensibly. Use trenches for your infantry to hide in and you’ll be able to beat far superior numbers. Remember not to hole up in buildings unless the enemy has no artillery. If they bombard a building to destruction you’ll lose the entire unit inside.
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Finish the Venetians
Use Napoleon and his army to take Verona and then press on quickly for Padua and Venice. You can expect Verona to be attacked as soon as you push on so don’t leave it defenceless. Taking Venice will end the Venetian threat and it’s a good idea now to swing back with Napoleon’s army, boost the ranks and press on for Trient.
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Dealing with the Pope
The focus should now move towards the south and the Papal States. Go for Bologna and then as quickly as possible push further to take Ancona. You can afford to leave the cities behind you with two units apiece now because they aren’t likely to be attacked. When you have Ancona the Pope is dealt with and you should immediately filter spare armies north to meet up with Napoleon on the path to Klagenfurt.
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Final March on Klagenfurt
As you move north of Trient you can expect to meet multiple Austrian armies in the mountains and some of these battles can be very tricky. It is vital to use the terrain to your advantage whenever possible. The remnants of your army from Ancona can go north via Venice and meet you on the road that approaches Klagenfurt. This should give you enough firepower for the final push. If you have the time and resources then siege Klagenfurt and leave a smaller force a little way back on the road to prevent any Austrian reinforcements breaking through.
Once you have taken the city the Italy Campaign is won. The next chapter will take you to the magnificent ancient wonders and harsh deserts of Egypt to try and weaken British links to India.