Battle of Raab

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Battle of Raab
Part of War of the Fifth Coalition
Gyori csata Kaiser.JPG
Date14 June 1809
Location
Győr (in German Raab), Kingdom of Hungary (near the village Kismegyer)
Result Franco-Italian victory
Belligerents

Flag of France (1794-1815).svg French Empire

Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg Kingdom of Italy

Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austrian Empire

Commanders and leaders
Eugène de Beauharnais Archduke John
Archduke Joseph
Strength
39,902
42 guns [1]
35,525
30 guns [2]
Casualties and losses
3,000–4,000 killed or wounded [3] [4] 10,300 killed, wounded, captured, or missing [5]

The Battle of Raab or Battle of Győr (Hungarian: Győri csata) was fought on 14 June 1809 during the Napoleonic Wars, between Franco-Italian forces and Habsburg forces. The battle was fought near Győr (Raab), Kingdom of Hungary, and ended in a Franco-Italian victory. The victory prevented Archduke John of Austria from bringing any significant force to the Battle of Wagram, while Prince Eugène de Beauharnais's force was able to link up with Emperor Napoleon at Vienna in time to fight at Wagram. Napoleon referred to the battle as "a granddaughter of Marengo and Friedland", as it fell on the anniversary of those two battles. [6]

Hungarian language language spoken in and around Hungary

Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language spoken in Hungary and several neighbouring countries. It is the official language of Hungary and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Outside Hungary it is also spoken by communities of Hungarians in the countries that today make up Slovakia, western Ukraine (Subcarpathia), central and western Romania (Transylvania), northern Serbia (Vojvodina), northern Croatia, and northern Slovenia. It is also spoken by Hungarian diaspora communities worldwide, especially in North America and in Israel. Like Finnish and Estonian, Hungarian belongs to the Uralic language family. With 13 million speakers, it is its largest member in terms of speakers.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Győr City with county rights

Győr is the most important city of northwest Hungary, the capital of Győr-Moson-Sopron County and Western Transdanubia region, and — halfway between Budapest and Vienna — situated on one of the important roads of Central Europe. The city is the sixth-largest in Hungary, and one of the seven main regional centres of the country.

Contents

Campaign

Early moves

During the 1809 campaign in Italy, Viceroy Eugène de Beauharnais led the Franco-Italian army while General der Kavallerie Archduke John of Austria commanded the Austrian army. At the outbreak of war, John moved rapidly to defeat his opponent at the Battle of Sacile on 16 April. This victory drove Eugène back to the Adige River. The front remained static for a few weeks despite attacks by Eugène in the Battle of Caldiero. Meanwhile, an Austrian force bottled up the corps of General of Division Auguste Marmont in Dalmatia. After the Austrian defeat at the Battle of Eckmühl, John received orders to retreat in order to cover the strategic left flank of the army in southern Germany. [7]

Eugène de Beauharnais French general and adoptive son of Napoleon I

Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg was the first child and only son of Alexandre de Beauharnais and Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, first wife of Napoleon I.

Archduke John of Austria Austrian field marshal and German Imperial regent

Archduke John of Austria, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, was an Austrian field marshal and imperial regent (Reichsverweser) of the short-lived German Empire during the Revolutions of 1848.

Austrian Empire monarchy in Central Europe between 1804 and 1867

The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

Austrian retreat

John fought Eugène in a tough rearguard action at the Battle of Piave River on 8 May. Up to this moment, John and his soldiers had fought well. Now, John probably committed a serious blunder by splitting up his command. With the main army he fell back to the northeast. By the second week of May, John and Feldmarschallleutnant Albert Gyulai stood at Tarvisio with 8,340 troops. Feldmarschallleutnant Johann Maria Philipp Frimont's 13,060-man Mobile Force lay at nearby Villach. Feldmarschallleutnant Ignaz Gyulai with 14,880 men of the IX Armeekorps defended the Ljubljana (Laibach) area to the southeast of Villach. Far to the west-northwest, Feldmarschallleutnant Johann Gabriel Chasteler de Courcelles and 17,460 soldiers of the VIII Armeekorps held the region around Innsbruck. Feldmarschallleutnant Franjo Jelačić and the 10,200-strong Northern Division was stationed at Salzburg to the northwest. Finally, General-major Andreas von Stoichewich's 8,100 men continued to pin Marmont in Dalmatia to the south of Ljubljana. By this time a large proportion of John's forces was made up of hastily raised landwehr infantry. [8]

Battle of Piave River (1809) battle

The Battle of Piave River was fought on 8 May 1809 between the Franco-Italian army under the command of Eugène de Beauharnais and an Austrian army led by Archduke John of Austria. The Austrian commander made a stand behind the Piave River but he suffered a defeat at the hands of his numerically superior foes. The combat took place near Nervesa della Battaglia, Italy during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars.

Tarvisio Comune in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Tarvisio is a comune in the Province of Udine, the northeastern part of the autonomous Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy.

Johann Maria Philipp Frimont Austrian general

Johann Maria Philipp Frimont, Count of Palota, Prince of Antrodoco was an Austrian general.

Battles of Raab (14 June) and Graz (24-26 June) campaign map Battle of Raab Campaign June 1809.JPG
Battles of Raab (14 June) and Graz (24–26 June) campaign map

On 13 May, Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre and a Bavarian army wrecked part of Chasteler's corps at the Battle of Wörgl near Innsbruck. [9] On 17 May, John received orders to cut the communications of Emperor Napoleon's Grand Army by moving north. However, the archduke delayed too long in carrying out this assignment. [10] Though badly isolated, Jelačić remained near Salzburg until 19 May. When he finally got moving it was too late. A French corps under General of Division Paul Grenier cut the Northern Division to pieces at the Battle of Sankt Michael on 25 May. [11] John pulled back to Graz, but when he heard of Jelačić's disaster, he decided to retreat east into Hungary.

François Joseph Lefebvre Marshal of France

François Joseph Lefebvre, Duc de Dantzig, was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon.

Kingdom of Bavaria kingdom in Central Europe between 1806–1918, from January 1871 part of the German Empire

The Kingdom of Bavaria was a German state that succeeded the former Electorate of Bavaria in 1805 and continued to exist until 1918. The Bavarian Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of the House of Wittelsbach became the first King of Bavaria in 1805 as Maximilian I Joseph. The crown would go on being held by the Wittelsbachs until the kingdom came to an end in 1918. Most of Bavaria's present-day borders were established after 1814 with the Treaty of Paris, in which Bavaria ceded Tyrol and Vorarlberg to the Austrian Empire while receiving Aschaffenburg and Würzburg. With the unification of Germany into the German Empire in 1871, the kingdom became a federal state of the new Empire and was second in size, power, and wealth only to the leading state, the Kingdom of Prussia. In 1918, Bavaria became a republic, and the kingdom was thus succeeded by the current Free State of Bavaria.

Battle of Wörgl

In the Battle of Wörgl or Wörgel on 13 May 1809 a Bavarian force under French Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre attacked an Austrian Empire detachment commanded by Johann Gabriel Chasteler de Courcelles. The Bavarians severely defeated Chasteler's soldiers in series of actions in the Austrian towns of Wörgl, Söll, and Rattenberg. Wörgl is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of the modern-day German border on the upper Inn River.

During May, small Grenz infantry forces heroically defended the mountain passes during the Battle of Tarvis. At Malborghetto Valbruna, 400 soldiers held a blockhouse against 15,000 Frenchmen between 15 and 17 May and only 50 men survived. The French admitted only 80 casualties. [12] At the Predil Pass blockhouse, 250 Austrians and 8 cannon held off 8,500 French soldiers for three days. On 18 May, when the position was finally overrun, the Grenzers were killed to a man. The French admitted suffering 450 casualties. [13] At Tarvisio (Tarvis) itself, Eugène inflicted a serious defeat on Albert Gyulai's outnumbered division. [14]

Grenz infantry or Grenzers were light infantry troops who came from the Military Frontier in the Habsburg Monarchy. This borderland formed a buffer zone between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire, and the troops were originally raised to defend Austria against the Ottoman Turks. When there was no danger of war against the Ottomans, the Grenzer regiments were employed by the Habsburgs in other theatres of war, although one battalion of each regiment would always remain guarding the border.

Battle of Tarvis (1809)

The Battle of Tarvis from 16 to 17 May 1809, the Storming of the Malborghetto Blockhouse from 15 to 17 May 1809, and the Storming of the Predil Blockhouse from 15 to 18 May saw the Franco-Italian army of Eugène de Beauharnais attacking Austrian Empire forces under Albert Gyulai. Eugène crushed Gyulai's division in a pitched battle near Tarvisio, then an Austrian town known as Tarvis. At nearby Malborghetto Valbruna and Predil Pass, small garrisons of Grenz infantry heroically defended two forts before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. The Franco-Italian capture of the key mountain passes allowed their forces to invade Austrian Kärnten during the War of the Fifth Coalition. Tarvisio is located in far northeast Italy, near the borders of both Austria and Slovenia.

Malborghetto Valbruna Comune in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Malborghetto Valbruna is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Udine in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

In mid-May, Marmont defeated Stoichewich's forces in the Dalmatian Campaign. He moved north in a fighting advance, arriving at Ljubljana on 3 June. Marmont then combined with General of Division Jean-Baptiste Broussier and fought Ignaz Gyulai's Austrians in the Battle of Graz from 24 to 26 June. His 11,000 XI Corps soldiers, plus Broussier, force-marched to join Napoleon near Vienna and fought at the Battle of Wagram. [15]

The Dalmatian Campaign saw several battles fought between 30 April and 21 May 1809 by Auguste Marmont's First French Empire soldiers and Andreas von Stoichevich's Austrian Empire troops. The Austrians drove the French from their positions on the Zrmanja River at the end of April. But in mid-May, the French counterattack forced back the Austrians. The defenders offered stout resistance, but ultimately Marmont broke out of Dalmatia and joined Emperor Napoleon's army near Vienna with over 10,000 men. The campaign was fought during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Dalmatia is part of the modern-day nation of Croatia.

Jean-Baptiste Broussier French general

Jean-Baptiste Broussier was a French Divisional General of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.

Battle of Graz

The Battle of Graz took place on 24–26 June 1809 between an Austrian corps commanded by Ignaz Gyulai and a French division led by Jean-Baptiste Broussier. The French were soon reinforced by a corps under Auguste Marmont. The battle is considered a French victory though Gyulai was successful in getting supplies to the Austrian garrison of Graz before the two French forces drove him away from the city. Graz, Austria is located 145 kilometers south-southwest of Vienna at the intersection of the modern A2 and A9 highways.

John joined with the Hungarian Insurrection forces (militia) at Győr (Raab). He intended to cross to the north bank of the Danube and move northwest through Bratislava (Pressburg) to unite with the main army, which was commanded by his brother Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen, Generalissimo of the Austrian armies. Napoleon ordered Eugène to pursue and destroy John's army. The Franco-Italian troops caught up with the Austrians in mid-June and forced John to give battle.

Battle

Franco-Italian Army

Eugene de Beauharnais EugeneBeau.jpg
Eugène de Beauharnais

Army of Italy: Prince Eugène de Beauharnais (39,902, 42 guns) [16]

Austro-Hungarian Army

Archduke John Erzherzog Johann (cropped).jpg
Archduke John

Plans

Though John's 35,000-man army was only a little less numerous than Eugène's 40,000 soldiers, the quality of his soldiers was markedly inferior. Many thousands of the Habsburg troops were poorly trained Austrian landwehr (19,000 men) and Hungarian insurrection militia (16,000 men). [21] The archduke knew this and planned to fight a defensive battle in a strong position. Feldmarschall Archduke Joseph, Palatine of Hungary outranked John and was present on the field, but John exercised effective command of the army.

Hieronymus Colloredo held the Austrian center. Hieronymus Colloredo-Mansfeld.jpg
Hieronymus Colloredo held the Austrian center.

John drew up his army behind the Pándzsa stream, facing generally west. The Pándzsa ran roughly from south to north across his front, emptying into the Raab River to the north. In the vicinity of the battlefield, the Raab ran from west to east, protecting John's north flank. The fortress of Győr was on the south side of the river a short distance to the northeast. John hoped the marshy banks of the Páncza to the south would discourage a French envelopment from that direction. The enclosed and stoutly-built Kis-Megyer farm stood on the east bank of the Páncza. Just east of Kis-Megyer farm rose Szabadhegy hill. On the hill's north side lay Szabadhegy hamlet. [22]

John deployed FML Mécsery's 5,947 cavalry to defend his left flank behind the Pándzsa. He turned Kis-Megyer into a major strongpoint by packing FML Colloredo's 7,778 infantry into the farm and its environs. Jelačić's 7,517 soldiers defended the right flank in front of Szabadhegy hamlet. FML Frimont's 7,863-man reserve stood on Szabadhegy hill. Oberst Bésán's 1,546 horsemen held the ground between Jelačić's right and the Raab River. FZM Davidovich held some field works on the north side of the river with about 4,000 Hungarian militia.

Eugène took MG Grouchy from his corps command and reassigned him to command the 5,371 troopers in the cavalry divisions of MG Montbrun, BG Guèrin, and BG Colbert. These were posted on the right (south) flank with the intention of turning John's left flank. Eugène ordered Grenier to assault the Austrian center with the 15,662 men of his two divisions. MG d'Hilliers was instructed to attack the Austrian right with his single division of 8,315 soldiers. Eugène held the troops from Grouchy's corps in reserve, MG Pacthod's 5,166-foot soldiers and MG Sahuc's 1,280 cavalry. He also kept back MG Pully's 1,470 dragoons and MG Lechi's 2,438 Italian Guards. [23]

Fighting

Emmanuel Grouchy's cavalry was key to the French victory. Emmanuelgrouchy1.JPG
Emmanuel Grouchy's cavalry was key to the French victory.

In the first rush, MG Durutte's troops stormed across the Pándzsa and seized Kis-Megyer farm, but the Austrians quickly took it back. In bitter fighting, the farm changed hands five times. Finally, John committed GM Kleinmeyer's powerful brigade. Four grenadier battalions and the soldiers of the Alvinczi Infantry Regiment # 19 pushed back MG Seras' troops, then fell upon Durutte's division near the farm. Meanwhile, MG Severoli's division pushed back Jelačić and took part of Szabadhegy hamlet. John sent GM Gajoli's brigade from the reserve to deal with this threat. The Austrian counterattack succeeded in panicking the soldiers of Grenier and d'Hilliers. They abandoned their gains and ran back to the west side of the Pándzsa and safety. [24]

Deducing that the three Austrian cannon defended the best crossing point over the Pándzsa, Grouchy ordered up his 12 guns. French cannon fire soon silenced the opposing artillery pieces, allowing Grouchy's horsemen to begin fording the stream. When the French cavalry charged, covered by a cannonade, the Insurrections Hussars soon took flight. Only the Ott Hussar Regiment # 7 and the Archduke Joseph Hussar Regiment # 2 put up serious resistance and both units suffered heavy losses. Grouchy wheeled his troopers to the left to roll up John's left flank. [25]

Faced with a crisis, John redeployed his units in an L-shaped line. His right flank still ran along the Pándzsa, but at Kis-Megyer farm, the line bent to face south along the Szabadhegy hill. John sent Bésán's horsemen from the right flank to cover the new left flank on the east side of Szabadhegy hill. For his second assault, Eugène sent in Pacthod's division and Lechi's Italian Guards from his reserve. The second infantry attack slowly made headway. Finally, the Italian Guard cleared Kis-Megyer farm. John, fearing envelopment from Grouchy's cavalry, ordered a retreat northeast into Győr fortress.

Results

The Franco-Italians suffered 3,000–4,000 killed and wounded. [26] [3] The Austrian regulars and Landwehr lost 747 killed, 1,758 wounded, and 2,408 captured for a total of 4,913 casualties. There were also 1,322 soldiers reported missing, giving a total of 6,235 men subtracted from John's army. [27] [5] The insurrection troops lost in excess of 4,100, of which 80% were missing. [5] Total Austrian losses came to 10,300. [5] John's army retreated northeast to Komárno, leaving a garrison in Győr. The fortress surrendered on 22 June with 2,500 soldiers after a weak resistance. [28]

One historian writes,

Archduke John now reaped the dubious fruits of his incredibly ill-advised policy of breaking up his army after the Battle of Piave River. This defeat foiled any hopes that Archduke John would be able to bring any significant forces to help in the epic struggle against Napoleon at Wagram on 5 and 6 July. [29]

Eugène soon joined Napoleon with 23,000 soldiers. [30] While these men fought at the Battle of Wagram, John was only able to bring 12,000 men to that field and he intervened too late to have any effect. [31]

Footnotes

  1. Bowden & Tarbox, p 120
  2. Bowden & Tarbox, p 123
  3. 1 2 Gill 2010, p. 87.
  4. Smith, p 315
  5. 1 2 3 4 Gill 2010, p. 88.
  6. Chandler, p 355
  7. Bowden & Tarbox, p 95
  8. Bowden & Tarbox, p 115-117
  9. Smith, p 303
  10. Bowden & Tarbox, p 96
  11. Smith, p 312
  12. Smith, p 304-305
  13. Smith, p 306
  14. Smith, p 304
  15. Bowden & Tarbox, p 96-98
  16. Bowden & Tarbox, p 118-120
  17. Epstein, 131. Epstein identifies the units in Lauriston's division as the Baden brigade and Colbert's cavalry brigade. Colbert was detached to Grouchy's wing.
  18. Bowden & Tarbox, 59. Bowden lists this brigade in the Eckmuhl order of battle. Its composition and strength may have changed between April and July.
  19. Bowden & Tarbox, p 121-123.
  20. Smith-Kudrna, Colloredo-Mansfeld indicates that Colloredo was promoted to FML only after Raab.
  21. The last Hungarian insurrection in 1809 (oocities.org)
  22. Bowden & Tarbox, p 96-97
  23. Bowden & Tarbox, Raab map
  24. Bowden & Tarbox, p 97
  25. Bowden & Tarbox, p 97-98
  26. Smith, p 315
  27. Smith, p 316
  28. Smith, p 317
  29. Smith, p 316
  30. Bowden & Tarbox, p 154
  31. Bowden & Tarbox, p 168

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References

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See also

Coordinates: 47°41′03″N17°38′06″E / 47.6842°N 17.6350°E / 47.6842; 17.6350