Battle of Wertingen

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Battle of Wertingen
Part of the War of the Third Coalition
Colonne de la Grande Armee Bataille de Wertingen bas-relief-15.jpg
Bas-relief of the battle from the Column of the Grande Armée
Date8 October 1805
Location
Wertingen, present-day Germany
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg First French Empire Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg  Holy Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France.svg Joachim Murat
Flag of France.svg Jean Lannes
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Franz von Auffenberg
Units involved
Flag of France.svg Cavalry Reserve
Flag of France.svg V Corps
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Auffenberg's Corps
Strength
12,000 5,500
Casualties and losses
200+ killed or wounded 400 killed or wounded
2,900 captured

In the Battle of Wertingen (8 October 1805) Imperial French forces led by Marshals Joachim Murat and Jean Lannes attacked a small Austrian corps commanded by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Franz Xaver von Auffenberg. This action, the first battle of the Ulm Campaign, resulted in a clear French victory. Wertingen lies 28 kilometres (17 mi) northwest of Augsburg. The combat was fought during the War of the Third Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars.

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.

Joachim Murat Grand Duke of Berg and King of Naples

Joachim-Napoléon Murat was a Marshal of France and Admiral of France under the reign of Napoleon. He was also the 1st Prince Murat, Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808, and King of Naples from 1808 to 1815. Murat received his titles in part by being Napoleon's brother-in-law through marriage to his younger sister, Caroline Bonaparte, as well as personal merit. He was noted as a daring, brave, and charismatic cavalry officer as well as a flamboyant dresser, for which he was known as "the Dandy King".

Jean Lannes Marshal of France

Jean Lannes, 1st Duc de Montebello, Prince de Siewierz, was a Marshal of the Empire. He was one of Napoleon's most daring and talented generals. Napoleon once commented on Lannes: "I found him a pygmy and left him a giant". A personal friend of the emperor, he was allowed to address him with the familiar "tu", as opposed to the formal "vous".

Contents

Background

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had launched his 200,000-man Grand Army across the Rhine. This huge mass of maneuver wheeled to the south and crossed the Danube River to the east of (i.e., behind) General Karl Freiherr Mack von Leiberich's concentration at Ulm. Unaware of the force bearing down on him, Mack stayed in place as Napoleon's corps spread south across the Danube, slicing across his lines of communication with Vienna.

Rhine river in Western Europe

The Rhine is a European river that begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German and then the Franco-German border, then flows through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea.

Danube river in Central Europe

The Danube, known by various names in other languages, is Europe's second longest river, after the Volga. It is located in Central and Eastern Europe.

Forces

Murat's advance guard included the heavy cavalry divisions of General of Division Louis Klein (16 squadrons of the 1st, 14th, 20th and 26th Dragoon Regiments) and General of Division Marc Antoine de Beaumont (18 sqdns. of the 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, 12th and 16th Dragoons), plus General of Brigade Antoine Lasalle's light cavalry brigade (8 sqdns. of 9th and 10th Hussars), a total of 42 squadrons. These were supported by eight battalions of General of Division Nicolas Oudinot's Grenadier division and three battalions of the 28th Light Infantry Regiment.

Louis Klein French general

Dominique Louis Antoine Klein served in the French military during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars as a general of cavalry.

Marc Antoine de Beaumont French general

Marc Antoine Bonnin de la Bonninière de Beaumont a French nobleman, became a page to the king and joined the army of the Old Regime. He stayed in the army during the French Revolution and narrowly escaped being executed. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought in the 1796 Italian campaign under Napoleon Bonaparte, leading the cavalry at Lodi and Castiglione. In 1799 he was wounded in Italy but fought there again in late 1800.

Nicolas Oudinot Marshal of France

Nicolas Charles Oudinot, 1st Comte Oudinot, 1st Duc de Reggio, was a Marshal of France. He is known to have been wounded 34 times in battle. Oudinot is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, Eastern pillar Columns 13, 14.

Auffenberg's command included 26 battalions, 20 cavalry squadrons and 24 guns. Feldmarschall-Leutnant Maximilien de Baillet's division included Infantry Regiments Kaunitz Nr. 20, Archduke Ludwig Nr. 8, Franjo Jelačić Nr. 62, a brigade of four grenadier battalions, Cuirassier Regiment Albert Nr. 3 and Chevau-léger Regiment Rosenberg Nr. 6. Feldmarschall-Leutnant Prince Friedrich Franz Xaver of Hohenzollern-Hechingen's division was made up of Infantry Regiments Spork Nr. 25, Wurttemberg Nr. 38, Reuss-Greitz Nr. 55, Stuart Nr. 18, Hussar Regiment Palatine Nr. 12 and Chevau-léger Regiment Latour Nr. 4. [1]

Franjo Jelačić Austrian general

Baron Franjo Jelačić Bužimski was a Croatian nobleman, a member of the House of Jelačić. He began his service in the Habsburg army as a Grenz infantry officer and fought against the Ottoman Turks. During the French Revolutionary Wars he received promotion to the rank of general officer and won an outstanding victory at Feldkirch. His later career proved that his martial abilities were limited. He twice led independent division-sized forces in the Napoleonic Wars, with unhappy results. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment from 1802 until his death.

Chevau-léger generic French name for several units of light and medium cavalry

The Chevau-légers was a generic French name for several units of light and medium cavalry.

Prince Friedrich Franz Xaver of Hohenzollern-Hechingen Austrian general

Friedrich Franz Xaver Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen was an Austrian general. He joined the Austrian military and fought against the Kingdom of Prussia, Ottoman Turkey, and the First French Republic. He was promoted to the rank of general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. During the Napoleonic Wars, he led a division in 1805 and an army corps in 1809. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian cavalry regiment from 1802 to 1844.

Battle

Apparently because his troops were surprised, Auffenberg seems to have only brought nine battalions and one squadron, [2] about 5,500 men, into action. There are conflicting accounts. One historian talks about individual battalions being broken by cavalry or surrounded and forced to surrender. [1] Another writer says that Austrian grenadiers formed in a massive square which resisted cavalry charges until the French brought up Oudinot's grenadiers. [3]

French losses are stated as 319 killed and wounded. [4] The Austrians suffered 400 killed and wounded, plus 2,900 men and 6 cannons captured. [1] One historian says 2,000 Austrians were captured. [2] Cut off from Vienna, the Austrians retreated westward toward their base at Ulm.

Commentary

One historian remarks, "It is not clear why ... Mack had sent this small force to such an isolated position." He added, "His continual reorganization of the troops on the battlefield sowed confusion and demoralization." [1]

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References

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 3 4 Smith, p 203
  2. 1 2 Chandler, p 489
  3. Emmert, p 14
  4. Bowden, Scott (1997). Napoleon and Austerlitz. Chicago: The Emperor's Press. p. 185. ISBN   0-9626655-7-6.

Coordinates: 48°33′20″N10°40′45″E / 48.5556°N 10.6792°E / 48.5556; 10.6792