Napoleon sends Massena to hold Hannibal while he deals with Hanstrubal. Napoleon dictates orders to Berthier, “II Corps and X Corps of Cavalry under Murat will command the left. Place the Mixed Infantry/Cavalry Corps I and III under Duvout on the right. I will form the center with V, VII, and IX Corps of Infantry.”
Berthier scratches notes while Napoleon continues speaking, “Advise Murat to send a detachment north towards the seaport to feign an attack on their ships there. Most likely they are not guarded. Hanstrubal will need to weaken his forces to protect them. We will crush Hanstrubal near the east seaport while he tries to protect his ships and maintain his lines of communication with Hannibal.”
Berthier asks about a practical logistical matter, “What about provisions? The supply trains have not yet reached the camp. The supply train met with difficulties crossing into Hannibal’s territory.”
Napoleon responds, “This land is plentiful. I’m not worried about provisions. Each of our troops has three days of rations on hand. If we switch to half rations, then they can march six days. It’s only five days of marching from here. Therefore, the troops can make it on those calculations. If something delays us more than a day or two of marching, then they can forage for the rest of what they need. Like I said, the land here is plentiful.” Napoleon dismisses Berthier to carry out his orders.
“Napoleon!” Ney exclaims as he approaches. He continues, “Do you expect me to play second fiddle to Massena. I heard you placed him in independent command of the Southern Army to attack Hannibal. My VIII Corps is under his overall command. I don’t want to take orders from him. We are the same rank.”
Napoleon responds, “Hannibal is cunning. I need my most experienced commander, who happens to be Massena, to face him while I crush Hanstrubal. You will obey Massena’s orders.”
Neys face turns red with anger, but he restrains his tongue. “Yes, Emperor. I will obey. I will honor my duty to you.” Ney rides away.
The next morning Napoleon’s forces begin their march, but a spy among them reports to one of Hannibal’s scout who lays in wait. The scout, unhindered by an army covers more ground than Napoleon’s columns. He, therefore, reaches Hannibal long before Napoleon’s units can reach him or his brother, Hanstrubal. Hannibal plans a counter stroke.