Joseph Ocskay von Ocsko

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Joseph Ocskay von Ocskó
Born1740 (1740)
Ocskó, Kingdom of Hungary (now Očkov, Slovakia)
Died8 December 1805 (1805-12-09) (aged 65)
Dubovány, Kingdom of Hungary (now Dubovany Slovakia)
Allegiance Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Habsburg Monarchy
Battles/wars French Revolutionary Wars
Awards Military Order of Maria Theresa, KC (1789)

Joseph Ocskay von Ocskó (1740 – 8 December 1805) joined the army of the Habsburg Monarchy and rose to the rank of general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. He fought in numerous actions in the 1796–1797 Italian campaign against the French army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. In particular, he led a combat brigade during the first, third, and fourth Austrian attempts to relieve the Siege of Mantua.

Habsburg Monarchy former Central European country (1526–1804)

Habsburg Monarchy is an umbrella term used by historians for the lands and kingdoms of the House of Habsburg, especially for those of the Austrian branch. Although from 1438 until 1806 the head of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the empire itself is not considered a part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

A general officer is an officer of high rank in the army, and in some nations' air forces or marines.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.


Early career

Born in Ocskó, Kingdom of Hungary (today Očkov, Slovakia) in 1740, Ocskay joined the Habsburg military and earned promotion to Major in 1782. Whether he fought in the Austro-Turkish War (1787-1791) is not known. However, he received the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa on 21 December 1789, and was granted the noble title Freiherr on 28 July 1790. He served in the French Revolutionary Wars and became a General-Major on 1 January 1794. In early 1796, he commanded a brigade in the Army of the Upper Rhine. [1]

Kingdom of Hungary former Central European monarchy (1000–1946)

The Kingdom of Hungary was a monarchy in Central Europe that existed from the Middle Ages into the 20th century. The Principality of Hungary emerged as a Christian kingdom upon the coronation of the first king Stephen I at Esztergom around the year 1000; his family led the monarchy for 300 years. By the 12th century, the kingdom became a European middle power within the Western world.

Očkov Municipality in Slovakia

Očkov is a village and municipality in Nové Mesto nad Váhom District in the Trenčín Region of western Slovakia.

Slovakia Republic in Central Europe

Slovakia, officially the Slovak Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the west, and the Czech Republic to the northwest. Slovakia's territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) and is mostly mountainous. The population is over 5.4 million and consists mostly of Slovaks. The capital and largest city is Bratislava, and the second-largest city is Košice. The official language is Slovak.

Italian campaign

First relief of Mantua

In April 1796, Bonaparte's successes in the Montenotte Campaign forced the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont to quit the First Coalition. In May, the French Army of Italy defeated Johann Peter Beaulieu's Habsburg army and drove it from the Duchy of Milan. Bonaparte's victory in the Battle of Borghetto isolated the key fortress of Mantua. These setbacks prompted the Austrian high command to order substantial reinforcements in soldiers to Italy. [2] Ocskay transferred to Dagobert von Wurmser's Italian army as part of this strategic shift. [1]

Army of Italy (France) field army of the French Revolutionary Army

The Army of Italy was a field army of the French Army stationed on the Italian border and used for operations in Italy itself. Though it existed in some form in the 16th century through to the present, it is best known for its role during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.

Johann Peter Beaulieu Austrian general

Johann Peter de Beaulieu, also Jean Pierre de Beaulieu, was a Walloon military officer. He joined the Habsburg army and fought against the Prussians during the Seven Years' War. A cultured man, he later battled Belgian rebels and earned promotion to general officer. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought against the First French Republic and attained high command. In 1796, a young Napoleon Bonaparte won some of his first victories against an army led by Beaulieu. He retired and was the Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment until his death.

Duchy of Milan Former duchy in Italy (1395–1447; 1450–1535)

The Duchy of Milan was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in northern Italy. It was created in 1395, when it included twenty-six towns and the wide rural area of the middle Padan Plain east of the hills of Montferrat. During much of its existence, it was wedged between Savoy to the west, Venice to the east, the Swiss Confederacy to the north, and separated from the Mediterranean by Genoa to the south. The Duchy eventually fell to Habsburg Austria with the Treaty of Baden (1714), concluding the War of the Spanish Succession. The Duchy remained an Austrian possession until 1796, when a French army under Napoleon Bonaparte conquered it, and it ceased to exist a year later as a result of the Treaty of Campo Formio, when Austria ceded it to the new Cisalpine Republic.

Salo and Lake Garda Golfo di Salo.JPG
Salò and Lake Garda

In late July 1796, Ocskay led a brigade in the Right Column under Peter Quasdanovich in the first attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. [3] On 29 July, the brigades of Ocskay and Peter Ott surprised and defeated Pierre Sauret's French troops at Gavardo and Salò on the west side of Lake Garda. Since 400 Frenchmen led by Jean Guieu barricaded themselves in a palace in Salò, Ocskay's troops besieged the enemy soldiers while Ott pursued operations farther to the south. [4] On the 31st, Sauret's division attacked Ocskay, drove him off after a hard fight, and rescued Guieu's men. Then the French troops abandoned the town and marched back to Lonato del Garda. [5]

Gavardo Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Gavardo is a town and comune in the province of Brescia, in Lombardy. As of 2011 Gavardo had a population of 11,786.

Salò Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Salò is a town and comune in the Province of Brescia in the region of Lombardy on the banks of Lake Garda, on which it has the longest promenade. The city was the seat of government of the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945, with the ISR often being referred to as the "Salò Republic".

Lake Garda lake in Italy

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It is a popular holiday location in northern Italy, about halfway between Brescia and Verona, and between Venice and Milan on the edge of the Dolomites. Glaciers formed this alpine region at the end of the last Ice Age. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the provinces of Verona, Brescia (south-west), and Trento (north). The name Garda, which the lake has been seen referred to in documents dating to the eighth century, comes from the town of the same name. It is the evolution of the Germanic word warda, meaning "place of guard" or "place of observation."

After losing both Salò and Brescia, Quasdanovich ordered his brigades to concentrate on Gavardo on 2 August. Then, in an attempt to break through to Wurmser's main army, the Right Column commander ordered a new advance for the following day. He directed Ocskay to reoccupy Salò, then march south to attack Lonato. Marching in the early morning hours from Salò to Lonato, Ocskay's troops unwittingly marched right past Sauret's division heading for Salò. [6] At dawn on 3 August, he surprised and defeated Jean Pijon's French brigade, capturing its commander. [7] However, the Battle of Lonato ended badly for the Austrians. Quasdanovich's other Austrian brigades had been ordered to converge on Lonato, but instead they were forced to defend themselves against aggressive French attacks. Consequently, Ocskay's troops became isolated. Under Bonaparte's supervision, the André Masséna counterattacked Lonato with four brigades at mid-day. Driven from the town, Ocskay with many of his troops was encircled and forced to surrender. A second Austrian brigade under the Prince of Reuss belatedly appeared and freed some of Ocskay's men, but it was soon forced to retreat. [8] The heavy losses compelled Quasdanovich to retreat north into the mountains. On 5 August, Bonaparte concentrated against Wurmser and defeated him in the Battle of Castiglione.

Battle of Lonato

The Battle of Lonato was fought on 3 and 4 August 1796 between the French Army of Italy under General Napoleon Bonaparte and a corps-sized Austrian column led by Lieutenant General Peter Quasdanovich. A week of hard-fought actions that began on 29 July and ended on 4 August resulted in the retreat of Quasdanovich's badly mauled force. The elimination of Quasdanovich's threat allowed Bonaparte to concentrate against and defeat the main Austrian army at the Battle of Castiglione on 5 August. Lonato del Garda is located near the SP 668 highway and the Brescia-Padua section of Autostrada A4 to the southwest of Lake Garda.

André Masséna French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

André Masséna, 1st Duke of Rivoli, 1st Prince of 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.

Battle of Castiglione battle of 1796 during the French Revolutionay Wars

The Battle of Castiglione saw the French Army of Italy under General Napoleon Bonaparte attack an army of Habsburg Monarchy led by Feldmarschall Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser on 5 August 1796. The outnumbered Austrians were defeated and driven back along a line of hills to the river crossing at Borghetto, where they retired beyond the Mincio River. The town of Castiglione delle Stiviere is located 10 kilometres (6 mi) south of Lake Garda in northern Italy. This battle was one of four famous victories won by Bonaparte during the War of the First Coalition, part of the Wars of the French Revolution. The others were Bassano, Arcole, and Rivoli.

Third relief of Mantua

After being released in a prisoner exchange, Ocskay led a brigade in Paul Davidovich's Tyrol Corps during the third attempt to relieve Mantua. [9] During these operations, he fought in the action at Cembra on 2 November, the Battle of Calliano on 6–7 November, and the combat of Rivoli Veronese on 17 November. Before the latter action, he led his soldiers over snow-covered mountain trails to reach the battlefield. [10] He then launched a successful attack that helped rout the French. [11] These victories proved hollow when the French defeated the main Habsburg army at the Battle of Arcole on 15–17 November. On 22 November, Bonaparte fell on the Tyrol Corps with most of his strength and drove it back toward Trento. [12]

Baron Paul Davidovich or Pavle Davidović became a general of the Austrian Empire and a Knight of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. He played a major role in the 1796 Italian campaign during the French Revolutionary Wars, leading corps-sized commands in the fighting against the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte. He led troops during the Napoleonic Wars and was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment.

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.

Cembra Italian community

Cembra was a comune (municipality) in Trentino in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 15 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Trento. On 1 January 2016 it was merged with Lisignago to form a new municipality, Cembra Lisignago.

Fourth relief of Mantua

Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli by Felix Philippoteaux 1845 Philippoteaux Felix - Bonaparte a la bataille de Rivoli.jpg
Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli by Felix Philippoteaux 1845

During the fourth attempt to relieve Mantua, Ocskay commanded the 4th Column of six columns engaged in the Battle of Rivoli on 14 January 1797. [13] At first, his and Prince Reuss' columns marched with Quasdanovich's division in the Adige River gorge. Shortly before the battle, Ocskay's soldiers were ordered to join the troops massing on the slopes of Monte Baldo to the west. [14] Together with the columns of Anton Lipthay de Kisfalud and Samuel Köblös, his troops attacked the Trombasore Heights. Despite brave and repeated efforts, especially by the 3rd and 4th Columns, the Austrian attack failed and many soldiers became casualties or prisoners. [15]

After the defeat at Rivoli, Mantua surrendered to Bonaparte on 2 February. [16] Under the command of Archduke Charles, the Austrian army made a fighting retreat out of Italy in March 1797. Ocskay was defeated by Masséna at Casa Sola on 20 March. After losing 500 men, he was forced back through the pass at Tarvisio. Later-arriving Austrian units led by Adam Bajalics von Bajahaza were cut off by Masséna and Guieu and forced to surrender. [17]

Later career

Ocskay retired from the army in 1797. He died on 8 December 1805 at Dubovány in the Upper Hungary region of (modern-day Dubovany in Slovakia). [1] His son, Franz Ocskay von Ocskó (1775–1851) became a noted entomologist who wrote several articles describing new species of insects. [18]


  1. 1 2 3 Smith-Kudrna, Ocskay
  2. Chandler, p 88
  3. Fiebeger, p 12
  4. Boycott-Brown, p 380
  5. Boycott-Brown, p 385
  6. Boycott-Brown, p 390
  7. Boycott-Brown, p 393
  8. Boycott-Brown, pp 393–394
  9. Fiebeger, p 20
  10. Boycott-Brown, pp 458–459
  11. Boycott-Brown, p 471
  12. Smith, pp 126–128
  13. Boycott-Brown, p 492
  14. Boycott-Brown, p 504
  15. Boycott-Brown, p 514
  16. Smith, p 132
  17. Smith, p 134
  18. "Franz Ocskay von Ockskö", German wikipedia

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