Ok, so I'm back to revise or update my review, having now finished this extremely impressive book.
When I posted the first part, I'd read as far as, guestimating somewhat, the point where the French were beginning to have to consider withdrawing. They'd given the Austrians a bloody nose, at the crossing of the Fontenone. But Austrian weight of numbers, and in particular artillery superiority, were beginning to tell.
As the French pull back, the further they retreat, the greater their predicament. Even an attack by the then Consular (as opposed to Imperial) Guard fails to stem the Austrian tide. The French are almost in rout, and the jubilant Austrians start relaxing their guard prematurely (elderly and reluctant C-in-C Melas declaring it's all over and he's off to bed!), when Desaix's troops arrive, and quite suddenly the fortunes of war are dramatically reversed.
The timely arrival of the French reinforcements galvanises the whole armies' resolve, disintegrating units reforming and returning to the attack. Having relaxed too soon, the Austrian centre collapses and gives way, and by late evening the French are back in possession of Merngo, athwart their enemies line of supply, with the cavalry of Kellerman and Murat harrying the Austrian rout as it flees
back towards the 'awful ditch' of the Fontenone, and beyond that the Bormida.
One of the chief factors in this sudden and disastrous turnaround, aside from the intrigues of Gioelli, was the lack of team spirit in the Austrian command. Whereas the French united behind Napoleon, and were quick to bounce back from setbacks, the Austrians bickered, failing to cooperate or support each other effectively, giving up quickly and looking to blame others.
All in all, a terrifically exciting and informative read. And a useful addition to the enormous ever expanding literature on this colourful and endlessly fascinating era. Highly recommended.
Crowdy has a blog of his own, where you can read about his various activities, including the publication of this book (here).