par Jean Cerino Badone
19 juillet 1747
On 15 and 16 July all the enemy force crossed the Montgeneve. A part of the army under De Villemur camped at Duc, the other one, passed through Cesana, and camped on 17 at Sauze d'Oulx, then the French assembled on the 18th around the Col de Costapiana. Count of Bricherasio was informed very well about all these movements from reliable emissaries and so he was able to take all the necessary measures to prepare a strong defence.
On the 18th in the morning two austrian battalions Traun and Hagembach arrived to enforce our positions. During the night Count of Colloredo and Count of Martinengo, who since then were camping at Balboutet with Sovoye, Forgatsh and Colloredo battalions, were ordered to climb at the Assiette's positions. Only Savoye battalion stayed at Balboutet ready to join, if necessary, the Col de Fenetre or Col de Fattieres; an action that took place after that day. During the evening the right collocation of the troops was controlled and every single battalion recognised the sector in the battlefield and in the entrenchment it had to hold.
On 19th, two hours before the dawn, all our soldiers took up their arms and took their own position, but there were no signs of the enemy. We awaited ready to fight until 7 o 'clock, then our general gave order to the battalions to return to their camps, while the necessary group of sentries were left at every position with detached observation posts to avoid everything surprise.
By ten o'clock we were informed that the enemy was approaching. Crack troops occupied the hilltops at a quarter of a league from ours entrenchments. Later we saw a group of mounted people and we believed them their officers generals. By 11 o'clock many troops went down from the hilltops and they repelled our advanced force of volunteers, who were able to withdraw in good order to the hilltops close to our entrenchments. Other troops, as much considerable, advanced across the mountainside to the Seu, a group of houses on the road from Salbertrand to l'Assiette. All the enemy brigades stopped in front of our eyes nearly at the range of a gun. As soon as they recognised we had no artillery, they with ease began to make their arrangements to attack our positions. They divided their army, of about 40 battalions , in three columns. The first one took the right wing and went down the deep valley situated between l'Assiette and the Petit Ceran, o Pourrieres mountain, in order to prepare the attack against Col de Ceran . The second one went down in the woods under the right wing of our entrenchments. The third one marched on the ridge under our redoubt hold by the grenadier of the regiments Gardes and Casale.
As soon as the two last columns, the track they had to do was very short, were near the range of our carabines ready at the head of our entrenchments, they stopped their march and seated safely near their arms waiting for the left column's long approach to Gran Serin since they had to go around the Plan de l'Assiette. They kept this behaviour until 4.30 in the afternoon. However they began to fire a salute with they artillery placed on a hill on the left of our entrenchments. At the begin they had only 4 cannons, then they put in battery 7 cannons.
At 4.30 the left column began to approach and divided in two corps they moved very fast against the entrenchments hold by battalions Forgatsh and Meyer without looking out they were exposing to double line of fire formed by the attacked front and by the right flank of the great communication hold by Traun regiment. We allowed them to arrive at the short range of our arms then we gave them a volley-fire from both flanks so violent that they were no able to advance further in spite of the precautions taken by the officers generals and by who commanded these troops; they led them again to charge our positions with a bravery and a surprising presence of mind. While the officers were no disconcerted their soldiers didn't lose heart and they made without rest every kind of effort to advance and only the death or wounds stopped them. At the end they recognised that this side was impassable and they went out the range of our fire to assemble. They seconded a force that went down again in the wood and it advanced and it passed on our right through a gap between our entrenchment and the Rio Bacon's ones. Since this terrain was no fortified there were no difficulties for them to got to and so our piquets, that were cut away by this movement, wisely withdrew to Alp d'Arguel, where the Chiablais battalion, that arrived there that day, replaced the Roy's one that Conte Bricherasio opportunely ordered to climb to Col de Serin to enforce the two battalion of Kalbermatten regiment that alone hold these very important entrenchments those position controlled all our fortifications and our way of retreat.
The central column arrived near the redoubt or tenaille of the grenadiers covered by the ridge and, under this sort of repair, it was divided into two corps and when they were at the range of a pistol running they attacked the two salient of the inferior tenaille. Never we could see everything of similar the valour of the officers and the courage of the soldiers during this attack. In spite of the fire from the main front and from the flanks of the redoubt and from volunteers' milice posted on a ridge parallel to the redoubt where general Alciati posted the Meyer's grenadier company to enforce the position and in spite of the fall of an endless number of dead and wounded, the French didn't stop their will to fight. They brave advanced from two sides to the base of the redoubt, and soon some of them began with their hands to wrench out the parapet the fascines's saucissons, while others with their tools began to demolish the walls' foundations. Our grenadiers performed wonders and encouraged by the presence of Chevalier Alciati and Comtes Colloredo and Martinengo, as by the bravery of their skilful officers, they never held their fire and they wanted from the enemy their blood and their life for every inch of terrain they won against us. Our officers of the grenadiers were, from Gardes regiment, M. Caldora, Marquise Balbis and Compte de Briancon; from Casale regiment, Chevalier Scozia, Compte Tibaldi and M. Brun; Compte de San Sebastiano, lieutenant-colonel, commanded all of them.
Jean Cerino Badone