|"The Pursuit" Battle of Dego- 14 April, 1796|
|Second Battle of Dego|
|Part of the French Revolutionary War|
|First French Republic|| Habsburg Austria|
Kingdom of Sardinia
|Commanders and leaders|
|14 April: 12,000|
15 April: 15,000
|14 April: 5,700|
15 April: 3,500
|Casualties and losses|
|14 April: 1,500 casualties|
15 April: 938 casualties
|14 April: 3,000 casualties|
15 April: 1,757 cas
After successfully defeating the Austrian right wing at the Battle of Montenotte, Napoleon Bonaparte continued with his plan to separate the Austrian army of General Johann Beaulieufrom the army of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia led by General Michelangelo Colli. By taking the defences at Dego, the French would control the only road by which the two armies could link with each other. The town's defences comprised both a castle on a bluff and earthworks on rising ground, and were held by a small mixed force, consisting of units of both the Austrian and Piedmont-Sardinian armies.
However, the French troops in Dego then gave themselves over to looting, and during the night they were mostly scattered in the nearby houses. At dawn on 15 April, under cover of fog, the defences were counter-attacked by an Austrian force under Colonel Josef Vukassovich. Beaulieu planned for Vukassovich to reinforce Argenteau the day before, but his orders were poorly written and his subordinate showed up at Dego a day too late. Nevertheless, taken by surprise, the French were rapidly driven out of Dego and back to their starting point of the day before. Allegedly, the surprise attack caught Masséna in bed with a woman and he escaped in his nightshirt.
Masséna took some time to take control of the situation again. He recalled Laharpe and organised a counter-attack, which was supported by other reinforcements brought up by Bonaparte. Vukassovich's force was heavily outnumbered, and was unable to defend for long before it was driven out, leaving Dego definitively in French hands.
The second day's action cost the Austrians a further 670 killed and wounded, plus 1,087 captured. The Preiss Infantry Regiment # 24 took particularly heavy losses. The French lost 621 killed and wounded, and 317 captured. The second day surprise made Bonaparte anxious that Beaulieu might intervene from the east, so the French general reorganized his forces and sent out strong patrols on 16 April. But Argenteau's mauling at Montenotte and Dego shook Beaulieu's nerve and he stayed near Acqui. Satisfied that Beaulieu was out of the picture, Bonaparte turned on Colli with his main strength on 17 April. On 21 April, The French beat Colli at the Battle of Mondovì and soon afterward the Sardinian government sued for peace.