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1806: Sacking Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik - view from Mount Srd - Copyright © by Alan Grant
Dubrovnik - view from Mount Srd

In 1991 Montenegrin forces, then as part of the Yugoslav Army, besieged Dubrovnik and looted and laid waste to the surrounding areas. [See Page 25, Plunder and the Ecological State] They had been here before. In May 1806 Napoleon's troops had taken Dubrovnik which was promptly besieged by Montenegrins and their Russian allies. The siege was broken by the end of June and the French pushed southwards. General Marmont (later Marshal and Duke of Ragusa [Dubrovnik]) then enforced "the French claim to all the surrounding coastal territory. Marmont's fellow-countryman Colonel Vialla de Sommičres, subsequently commandant of Castelnuovo (Herceg Novi) and for six years governor of the French-ruled province of Cattaro (Kotor), left the following account of the Montenegrins' offensive tactics and eventual defeat:"

When the French force approached Castel Nuovo, it was suddenly attacked by 10,000 Montenegrines, united to Russian troops, who had landed on the banks of the Saturina [Sutorina]. Our army was thus thrown into disorder, and was thus obliged to retreat to Ragusa, which the Montenegrines entered in the confusion of the pursuit. They immediately took possession of the town, levied contributions, laid waste Old Ragusa, and burnt Santa Croce, better known by the name of Gravosa, or the Port of Ragusa. In a second engagement they were, however, completely defeated and dispersed, being unable to sustain the regular attack of our battalions. The Russians, who had placed great reliance on the Montenegrines, were, in consequence, obliged to re-embark precipitately; renouncing, on the one hand, the advantages of an excellent position, and on the other, the aid of a numerous squadron, which, while it intercepted the entrance to the mouths of Cattaro, would have dealt destruction along the plain of the Salterns, Sutorina, which we occupied. Forty-eight hours sufficed for the retreat of the enemy's force. The Vladika, who, two days before, had been animating the courage of his hordes, and leading them on with extraordinary courage and skill, now hastily retired to the convent of Savina, which was covered by the line of Castel Nuovo and the Spanish fort. There he rallied his forces, and, on third day commenced his march towards Montenegro.

[p. 171]

Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro. 2007. [C.Hurst & Co]

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