Battle of Frauenfeld

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The Battle of Frauenfeld was a military encounter during the War of the Second Coalition (1799-1802). It took place on 25 May 1799 between Austrian and French troops. The battle ended in the evening with the retreat of the Austrians, but on the following day the French withdrew.

War of the Second Coalition attempt to contain or eliminate Revolutionary France

The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) was the second war on revolutionary France by the European monarchies, led by Britain, Austria and Russia, and including the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, various German monarchies and Sweden. Their goal was to contain the expansion of the French Republic and to restore the monarchy in France. They failed to overthrow the revolutionary regime and French territorial gains since 1793 were confirmed. In the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, France held all of its previous gains and obtained new lands in Tuscany, Italy, while Austria was granted Venetia and the Dalmatian coast. Britain and France signed the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802, bringing an interval of peace in Europe that lasted for 14 months. By May 1803 Britain and France were again at war and in 1805 Britain assembled the Third Coalition to resume the war against France.

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Background

General Friedrich von Hotze Friedrich von Hotze.jpg
General Friedrich von Hotze

The Swiss Old Confederacy was occupied by the French Empire in 1798 and the French-supported Helvetic Republic was established on its territory. Thus, at the beginning of the War of the Second Coalition, French troops under General André Masséna (1758–1817) were operating on Swiss soil. After defeats in the Battle of Feldkirch und der Battle of Stockach, the French had to pull back and abandon eastern Switzerland. Two Austrian armies under General Friedrich von Hotze (1739–1799) and Archduke Charles (1771–1847) pursued them. They sought to unite these two armies as quickly as possible. On 22 May 1799, the vanguard of the Archduke's army reached Frauenfeld, where they stopped in order to meet up with the vanguard of General Hotze's army, which occurred on 24 May.

First French Empire Empire of Napoleon I of France between 1804–1815

The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.

Helvetic Republic former Swiss polity under Napoleonic domination

In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then had consisted of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance.

André Masséna French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

André Masséna, 1st Duc de Rivoli, 1st Prince d'Essling was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon, with the nickname l'Enfant chéri de la Victoire.

After the advance troops of the Austrians had already linked up, General Massena who was stationed at Winterthur decided to make an attempt to prevent the enemy's main forces from linking together. At this point he posted four French and two Helvetian Battalions, a company of Helvetian sharpshooters, five squadrons of Hussars and eight cannons under General Charles Nicolas Oudinot (1767–1847) and General Augustin Keller  (de ) (1754–1799) to meet the enemy at Frauenfeld. General Nicolas Soult (1769–1851) followed in reserve with three more French and three Helvetian battalions.

Winterthur Place in Zürich, Switzerland

Winterthur is a city in the canton of Zürich in northern Switzerland. It has the country's sixth-largest population, estimated at over 108,000 people, and is the ninth largest agglomeration with about 138,000 inhabitants. Today Winterthur is a service and high-tech industrial satellite city within Greater Zürich, located about 20 kilometres (12 mi) northeast of downtown Zürich, and only 20 minutes by train.

Battalion military unit size

A battalion is a military unit. The use of the term "battalion" varies by nationality and branch of service. Typically a battalion consists of 300 to 800 soldiers and is divided into a number of companies. A battalion is typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel. In some countries, the word "battalion" is associated with the infantry.

Company (military unit) military unit size

A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–150 soldiers and usually commanded by a major or a captain. Most companies are formed of three to six platoons, although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure.

Battle

Death of General Weber Tod General Webers 1799.jpg
Death of General Weber

On the morning of 25 May 1799, around 5 o'clock, General Oudinot encountered the weak Austrian garrison at Frauenfeld. These troops slowly withdrew over the Thur. Around 9 o'clock however more troops from Hotze's army arrived (six battalions and six squadrons) under General Petrasch of Wyl, on the left flank and in the rear of the French. The French were forced to bring their main force up against this new enemy. About 22,000 Austrians were now arrayed against about 14,000 French and Swiss troops. [1] This clash continued without a clear victor until evening. As a result, there were very heavy losses. The Adjutant General of the Helvetian troops himself, General Johann Weber (1752–1799) fell victim to a sharpshooter. Since the outcome of the battle was so unclear, General Petrasch decided to retreat at 7 o'clock in the evening. The Austrians lost about 2,000 men in the battle (mostly captured) and two cannons. [2]

Thur (Rhine) river in Switzerland

Thur is a 131-kilometre-long (81 mi) river in north-eastern Switzerland. Its source is near the mountain Säntis in the south-east of the canton of St. Gallen. In this canton it flows through the Toggenburg region and the town Wil. After Wil it flows through the canton of Thurgau and its capital Frauenfeld. The final 19 kilometres (12 mi) of the Thur are in the canton of Zürich. It flows into the river Rhine on the border with Germany, south of Schaffhausen.

During the battle, two further columns of Massena's army attacked the Austrian archduke's main forces near Rorbas and Andelfingen in order to push them back over the Thur. After some initial success, however, the French were themselves pushed back. Despite the tactical success at Frauenfeld, Massena's position thus remained untenable and he led a withdrawal in the direction of Zurich on 26 May. Contemporaries, like Carl von Clausewitz, criticised Massena for having three columns (and the reserve under Soult) operate separately from one another instead of concentrating his whole force against Hotze's army. Only in this way, they said, could he have defeated the Austrians. [3]

Rorbas Place in Zurich, Switzerland

Rorbas is a municipality in the district of Bülach in the canton of Zürich in Switzerland.

Carl von Clausewitz German-Prussian soldier and military theorist

Carl Philipp Gottfriedvon Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege, was unfinished at his death. Clausewitz was a realist in many different senses and, while in some respects a romantic, also drew heavily on the rationalist ideas of the European Enlightenment.

Aftermath

Because of the failure of the French attack on the Archduke's army and the subsequent French retreat, there was no further obstacle to the union of the two Austrian armies. After further defeats, the French army scored a victory at the end of September in the Second Battle of Zurich. After this, the French regained the city of Frauenfeld and other territory.

Second Battle of Zurich battle

The Second Battle of Zurich was a key victory by the Republican French army in Switzerland led by André Masséna over an Austrian and Russian force commanded by Alexander Korsakov near Zürich. It broke the stalemate that had resulted from the First Battle of Zurich three months earlier and led to the withdrawal of Russia from the Second Coalition. Most of the fighting took place on both banks of the river Limmat up to the gates of Zürich, and within the city itself.

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References

  1. Johann Georg Heinzmann: Kleine Schweizer Chronik, Part 2, Bern (1801), p. 637
  2. Carl von Clausewitz: Die Feldzüge von 1796 und 1799 in Italien und in der Schweiz, Leipzig 1999, p. 435
  3. In this sense: Carl von Clausewitz: Die Feldzüge von 1796 und 1799 in Italien und in der Schweiz, Leipzig 1999, pp. 432–435