Battle of Wörgl

Last updated
Battle of Wörgl
Part of the War of the Fifth Coalition
View of Söll where some fighting occurred
Date13 May 1809
Location Wörgl, modern-day Austria
47°29′N12°4′E / 47.483°N 12.067°E / 47.483; 12.067 Coordinates: 47°29′N12°4′E / 47.483°N 12.067°E / 47.483; 12.067
Result Bavarian victory
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austrian Empire Flag of France.svg First French Empire
Flag of Bavaria (striped).svg Kingdom of Bavaria
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Johann Chasteler Flag of France.svg François Lefebvre
Flag of Bavaria (striped).svg Karl von Wrede
Flag of Bavaria (striped).svg Bernhard Deroy
5,000, 17 guns [1] over 9,450, 18 guns [1]
Casualties and losses
600, 11 guns [2] to 3,000, 9 guns [1] 191 [1]

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.

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.

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.

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.


The County of Tyrol rose in revolt at the start of the War of the Fifth Coalition. The hardy mountaineers rapidly banded together in irregular units and killed, captured, or routed the area's Bavarian and French garrisons. The rebels were soon joined by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Chasteler's regular division sent from the Austrian Army of Inner Austria.

County of Tyrol former county of Austria

The (Princely) County of Tyrol was an estate of the Holy Roman Empire established about 1140. Originally a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of the Counts of Tyrol, it was inherited by the Counts of Gorizia in 1253 and finally fell to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1363. In 1804 the Princely County of Tyrol, unified with the secularised Prince-Bishoprics of Trent and Brixen, became a crown land of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria-Hungary.

War of the Fifth Coalition conflict

The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent another expedition, the Walcheren Campaign, to the Netherlands in order to relieve the Austrians, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July.

In mid-May, Lefebvre advanced on the Tyrol from the north and northeast with the Bavarian VII Corps. After the Bavarians mauled Chasteler's regulars at Wörgl, the Austrian general abandoned the Tyrol and attempted to join with the retreating army in Hungary. The victory allowed the Bavarians to temporarily reoccupy Innsbruck, though not without additional fighting. The Tyrolean Rebellion, however, was far from over. Even after the regular Austrian armies met defeat at the Battle of Wagram in early July, the revolt resisted all efforts to stamp it out. The back of the rebellion was finally broken in November and only fizzed out in February 1810.

Hungary Country in Central Europe

Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Spanning 93,030 square kilometres (35,920 sq mi) in the Carpathian Basin, it borders Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Austria to the northwest, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, and Slovenia to the west. With about 10 million inhabitants, Hungary is a medium-sized member state of the European Union. The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken Uralic language in the world. Hungary's capital and its largest city and metropolis is Budapest. Other major urban areas include Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs and Győr.

Innsbruck Place in Tyrol, Austria

Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria and the fifth-largest city in Austria. It is in the Inn valley, at its junction with the Wipp valley, which provides access to the Brenner Pass some 30 km (18.6 mi) to the south.

Battle of Wagram battle

The Battle of Wagram was a military engagement of the Napoleonic Wars that ended in a costly but decisive victory for Emperor Napoleon I's French and allied army against the Austrian army under the command of Archduke Charles of Austria-Teschen. The battle led to the breakup of the Fifth Coalition, the Austrian and British-led alliance against France.


Handed to Bavaria after Austria's humiliation in the War of the Third Coalition, the County of Tyrol's inhabitants seethed against their new overlords. Not only did the new rulers impose Bavarian law and conscription on the province, but they failed to respect Tyrolean social and religious liberties. [3] These tensions were fully exploited by Austria's agents, who circulated the territory in advance of the War of the Fifth Coalition. When Austria's armies invaded Bavaria and the Kingdom of Italy in April 1809, the Tyrol erupted in revolt against its occupiers. The Tyrolese irregulars quickly captured or routed most of the Bavarian and French garrisons. Not only did the revolt cut off French-Allied communications between Italy and Bavaria, but it connected the Austrian armies operating in the two theaters. [4]

War of the Third Coalition war

The War of the Third Coalition was a European conflict spanning the years 1803 to 1806. During the war, France and its client states under Napoleon I defeated an alliance, the Third Coalition, made up of the Holy Roman Empire, Russia, Britain and others.

Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic) kingdom on the Apennine Peninsula between 1805 and 1814

The Kingdom of Italy was a kingdom in Northern Italy in personal union with France under Napoleon I. It was fully influenced by revolutionary France and ended with his defeat and fall. Its governance was conducted by Napoleon and his step-son and viceroy Eugène de Beauharnais.

Tyrolean irregulars Tiroler Landsturm 1809.jpg
Tyrolean irregulars

Desiring to sustain the rebellion, Generalissimo Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen ordered his brother Archduke John of Austria to detach a regular division to support the revolt. Accordingly, John sent Chasteler from the Army of Inner Austria. [5] Before he arrived, the Tyroleans scored a tremendous early success at Innsbruck. For two days, the Tyrolean leader Major Martin Teimer harassed the local Bavarian garrisons with a large force of irregulars. [6] On 13 May, Bavarian Lieutenant General Baron Kinkel surrendered four battalions, two squadrons, and five cannons, [7] a total of 3,860 troops. Teimer's men also trapped a column of 2,050 French conscripts. [6] After an ineffectual defense by hard-drinking General of Division Baptiste Pierre Bisson, the entire column surrendered along with the eagle of the 3rd Line Infantry Regiment. [8]

Generalissimo is a military rank of the highest degree, superior to field marshal and other five-star ranks in the countries where they are used.

Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen Archduke of Austria

Archduke Charles Louis John Joseph Laurentius of Austria, Duke of Teschen was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of Emperor Leopold II and his wife, Maria Luisa of Spain. He was also the younger brother of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. Despite being epileptic, Charles achieved respect both as a commander and as a reformer of the Austrian army. He was considered one of Napoleon's more formidable opponents.

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.

The main Austrian armies were forced to retreat after Emperor Napoleon I of France defeated Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann von Hiller at the Battle of Landshut on 21 April [9] and Archduke Charles at the Battle of Eckmühl on 22 April. [10] On 27 April Napoleon ordered Lefebvre's VII Corps to seize Salzburg. [11] This was accomplished two days later, as Feldmarschall-Leutnant Franz Jellacic's Austrian division withdrew to the south. [12]

Johann von Hiller Austrian general

Johann Baron von Hiller was an Austrian general during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He held an important command during the 1809 campaign against France, playing a prominent role at the Battle of Aspern-Essling.

Battle of Landshut (1809) battle

The Battle of Landshut took place on 21 April 1809 between the French, Württembergers and Bavarians under Napoleon which numbered about 77,000 strong, and 36,000 Austrians under the General Johann von Hiller. The Austrians, though outnumbered, fought hard until Napoleon arrived, when the battle subsequently became a clear French victory.

Battle of Eckmühl battle

The Battle of Eckmühl fought on 21 April – 22 April 1809, was the turning point of the 1809 Campaign, also known as the War of the Fifth Coalition. Napoleon I had been unprepared for the start of hostilities on 10 April 1809, by the Austrians under the Archduke Charles of Austria and for the first time since assuming the French Imperial Crown had been forced to cede the strategic initiative to an opponent. Thanks to the dogged defense waged by the III Corps, commanded by Marshal Davout, and the Bavarian VII Corps, commanded by Marshal Lefebvre, Napoleon was able to defeat the principal Austrian army and wrest the strategic initiative for the remainder of the war.

Kufstein fortress held out for a month. Kufstein-festung.jpg
Kufstein fortress held out for a month.

On 1 May, General-Major Stengel's brigade of Lieutenant General Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria's division attacked the Lueg Pass near Golling an der Salzach. The 1,850 Bavarians were repelled by Captain Sessich's 420 men of the Warasdin-Kreutzer Grenz infantry Regiment. Stengel lost 200 casualties while the defenders only lost 30. [13] Stengel probed the Leug Pass again on 4 and 5 May, while General-Major Raglovich (with Rechberg's brigade) moved against Abtenau, farther east. Again, the Austrians held their ground under the overall command of Jellacic, suffering 35 killed and wounded, and 70 captured. Bavarian losses were not reported. [14] At about this time, General-Major Vincenti's brigade of Lieutenant General Bernhard Erasmus von Deroy's division suffered a minor defeat at the hands of the Tyrolean rebels. Lefebvre proposed to Napoleon that he send two battalions of reinforcements to aid Vincenti. The emperor criticized this idea and instead directed the marshal to march to the relief of Kufstein Fortress with the better part of his corps. Accordingly, Lefebvre advanced on Kufstein with Deroy and Lieutenant General Karl Philipp von Wrede's divisions, leaving the Crown Prince's division to hold Salzburg. [15]

On 11 May, Deroy relieved Kufstein [2] and its 576-man Bavarian garrison. Major D'Aicher had resisted 3,000 Tyrolean and Austrian besiegers for exactly a month. [16] The same day, Wrede advanced southeast from Salzburg to attack 600 Tyroleans at Lofer. The Bavarians lost 22 dead and 44 wounded, while inflicting about 70 casualties on their opponents. [17] Wrede pressed on with 7,500 soldiers to Waidring where he battled General-Major Franz Fenner on 12 May. Fenner's 9th Jäger battalion, three squadrons of light horse, six guns, and 1,000 irregulars were driven off with about 100 casualties. The Bavarians lost 40 dead and wounded. [18]


The Tyrol 1809 Order of Battle lists the regular units of both armies and their organization.

Wörgl is located about 15 kilometres (9 mi) to the southwest of Kufstein, while Söll is about 10 kilometres (6 mi) east of Wörgl. Advancing through Sankt Johann in Tirol, Wrede approached the village of Söll from the east. Meanwhile, Deroy's division was in the Inn valley in the direction of Kufstein. [note 1]

Battle of Worgl campaign map Battle of Worgl 1809.JPG
Battle of Wörgl campaign map

Chasteler attempted to stop the Bavarians with 5,000 mostly regular troops organized in 11 and one-half battalions, three and one-half squadrons, and 17 guns. This force included a tiny reinforcement from Jellacic's division, four companies of the de Vaux Infantry Regiment Nr. 45 and a half squadron of the O'Reilly Chevau-léger Regiment Nr. 3. [1] The Austrians suffered a severe defeat [19] and retreated southwest up the Inn valley. During the withdrawal, there was more fighting at Rattenberg. [1]

Historian Digby Smith reported that 3,000 Austrians were killed, wounded, and captured. The Bavarians seized nine guns, 27 ammunition wagons, and three colors and "effectively destroyed" Chasteler's command. Smith listed 8,000 infantry, 1,450 cavalry, and 18 guns as engaged in the fighting under Wrede's command. Smith did not list Deroy's troops, though they were nearby. [1] Francis Loraine Petre noted that 600 Austrians and 11 guns were captured, but did not mention killed and wounded. [2]

On 14 and 15 May, Wrede clashed with 3,000 Tyrolean Landwehr and irregulars under Josef Speckbacher at Strass im Zillertal and Schwaz. The Bavarians reported 33 dead and 158 wounded while their adversaries lost 90 dead and wounded, plus 185 captured. [1] Lefebvre occupied Innsbruck by 20 May and optimistically reported that the uprising would soon be suppressed. [20] Deroy's division held its own during the first and second Battles of Bergisel on 25 and 29 May. [21] However, the revolt was only temporarily repressed. [19]

Following orders from Archduke John, Chasteler withdrew the remnant of his division from the Tyrol, moving down the Drava River valley. With 4,000 to 5,000 troops, he attacked General of Division Jean-Baptiste Dominique Rusca's Italian division at Klagenfurt on 9 June. Chasteler was repulsed but slipped away to Maribor (Marburg an der Drau) and safety. For a short time, his march severed communications between Eugène de Beauharnais' army and northeast Italy. [22] Chasteler briefly joined Feldmarschall-Leutnant Ignaz Gyulai's corps, but soon separated in an attempt to reach Archduke John's army. [23] He ended the war trying without success to interfere with the siege of Győr (Raab) in Hungary. [24]

After Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Aspern-Essling and his subsequent concentration of troops for a decisive battle, the Tyrolean revolt flared again and the rebels scored many successes in June and July. [25] Lefebvre reoccupied Innsbruck, but the Tyroleans beat the Bavarians in the third Battle of Bergisel on 13 August, chasing them out of the mountains again. [26] Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon replaced Lefebvre and won a clear cut victory over the rebels in the fourth Battle of Bergisel on 1 November. [27]


  1. Google Earth was used to verify distances and directions between the towns.
  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Smith, p 303
  2. 1 2 3 Petre, p 263
  3. Arnold Conquers, p 20
  4. Arnold Crisis, p 67
  5. Schneid, p 66
  6. 1 2 Arnold Conquers, p 103
  7. Smith, p 285
  8. Arnold Conquers, p 21
  9. Smith, pp 290-291
  10. Smith, pp 291-292
  11. Petre, p 221
  12. Petre, p 224
  13. Smith, pp 296-297
  14. Smith, p 299
  15. Petre, pp 249-250
  16. Smith, p 301
  17. Smith, pp 301-302
  18. Smith, p 302
  19. 1 2 Epstein, p 124
  20. Petre, p 272
  21. Smith, pp 312-313
  22. Epstein, pp 134-135
  23. Petre, p 315
  24. Epstein, p 143
  25. Arnold Conquers, p 180
  26. Smith, p 331
  27. Smith, p 336

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Further reading