Battle of Eckmühl

The Battle of Eckmühl (also known as "Eggmühl") 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.

Battle of Eckmühl
Part of the War of the Fifth Coalition
Echmühl
Date21–22 April 1809
Location
Result French victory
Belligerents
 Austria France France
 Bavaria
Kingdom of Württemberg Württemberg
Commanders and leaders
Archduke Charles Napoleon I
Marshal Davout
Marshal Lefebvre
Strength
35,000 30,000 – 60,000
Casualties and losses
12,000 killed, wounded or captured[1] 6,000 killed or wounded[1]

Strategic situation

Operating over a fifty-mile front, from Regensburg (Ratisbon to the French) to Pfaffenhofen (district), marked by stretches of rugged, wooded terrain, neither the French nor the Austrians had developed adequate intelligence about their opponent's strength, dispositions or intentions. Assuming that the bulk of the Austrian army was deployed so as to cover their bridgehead at Landshut and the main highway to Vienna, on 20 April 1809, Napoleon launched most of his army in an attack to the Southwest. The resulting Battle of Abensberg was a clear, French victory, following which Napoleon ordered all but Davout's III Corps and Lefebvre's (Bavarian) VII Corps to pursue and destroy what he thought was the remains of the Austrian Army.

The French attack, however, had only split the Austrian Army, separating its Left Wing, composed of the V Armee Korps, VI A.K. and II Reserve A.K., from the balance of the army. Two corps, III A.K. and IV A.K., were withdrawn by Archduke Charles to the North, forming a nine-mile line from Abbach on the Danube to Eckmühl on the Grosse Laber. More importantly, unbeknownst to Napoleon, the Austrians gained a victory of their own on 20 April 1809, by surrounding and capturing the French garrison at Regensburg and its strategic bridge over the Danube. The capture of the bridge at Regensburg allowed Charles to re-establish contact with his Right Wing, General der Kavallerie Bellegarde's I A.K. and FZM Kollowrat's II A.K., hitherto separated from the rest of the Austrian Army by the Danube.

Battle Plans

Eckmuhl April 21
Location of forces as of Midnight, 21–22 April 1809

With the seizure of the bridge at Regensburg, Archduke Charles no longer needed to defend the Landshut bridgehead and instead moved to concentrate his remaining forces so as to envelop and destroy Davout's corps. FML Prince Friedrich of Hohenzollern-Hechingen's III A.K. (15,700 men) and FML Prince Franz Seraph of Rosenberg-Orsini's IV A.K. (21,460 men), were ordered to hold the Austrian left, pinning in place Davout's corps, while FZM Johann Kollowrat's fresh II A.K. (28,168 men) and the elite grenadiers and cuirassiers of G.d.K. Prince Johann of Liechtenstein's I Reserve A.K. advanced south from Regensburg and deployed against Davout's exposed left flank. Inexplicably, no orders were issued to G.d.K. Count Heinrich von Bellegarde, so his powerful I A.K. (27,653 men) remained on the north bank of the Danube and played no role in the subsequent fighting.[2]

For his part, Napoleon was intent on enveloping and destroying the Austrian forces retiring Southwest to Landshut and its bridge across the Isar. The II and IV Corps (App. 57,000 men under the overall command of Marshal Masséna) were directed to cross the Isar upstream from Landshut and block the Austrians from crossing to the South Bank. Meanwhile, under the overall command of Marshal Lannes, Lannes' Provisional Corps, the VII (Württemberg) Corps, a division from VII Corps and two cuirassier divisions (App. 51,000 men) were to closely pursue and destroy the defeated Austrians. The mop-up of what Napoleon thought was a "curtain of three regiments" was left to Davout, even though more than half of the III Corps' original units had been detached to create Lannes' task force.[3] Despite Davout's reports to the contrary, Napoleon ordered him to attack the Austrians on his front in the morning, with the proviso that Lefebvre's equally depleted corps would support him if he needed help (A total of approximately 36,000 men for both corps).[3]

22 April

The leading elements of the Austrian attack ran into Montbrun's determined cavalry, who managed to reduce the impetus of the charge thanks to hilly and wooded terrain. Rosenberg displayed serious concern when he realized that Davout's troops were not moving to account for the ongoing battle, and rightly assumed that more French troops were on the way. These troops had, in fact, arrived and brushed aside Rosenberg's flank guard. Napoleon had set the French army into motion around 2 a.m. on the 22nd and had his men march 18 miles north in just a few short hours, meaning reinforcements for Davout would be arriving faster than promised.

The vanguard of the assault were the German troops under General Vandamme; these soldiers stormed the bridge at Eckmühl and even captured the town's chateau after ferocious Austrian resistance. At this point, Davout launched his men against the Austrian center at the village of Unterlaichling and the woods to the north. The famous 10th Legere Regiment became involved in vicious fighting around the woods, but eventually was strengthened by Bavarians under Deroy and managed to capture the positions. North of Unterlaichling, Davout's troops under Louis Friant and St. Hilaire steadily pushed back the defenders of Oberlaichling and the surrounding woods, overran a redoubt held by Hungarian grenadiers, and prompted Charles to order a general retreat.

The struggle now devolved into a series of major cavalry clashes as the Austrians attempted to extricate their army without losing too many prisoners. Perhaps the best cavalry in the Habsburg army, the Vincent Chevau-légers and the Stipsic Hussars, occupied the Bettelberg ridgeline between Eckmühl and the woods above Unterlaiching. These elite units demolished some German light cavalry before being stopped by Bavarian infantry. Napoleon was insistent on the immediate capture of this position and ordered forward two heavy cavalry divisions under St. Sulpice and Nansouty. These horsemen were pummeled by Austrian artillery but came on nonetheless and managed to saber the gunners after having seen off the enemy cavalry.

The first phase of the retreat ended, but it was not over yet. The Austrians had found a chokepoint in the road and were instructed to stem the French tide. Three French cuirassier divisions supported by additional German light cavalry attacked and a swirling melee developed. The Austrians fought heroically but were heavily outnumbered and had to retreat. During this part of the conflict, more French cavalry struck in their flank and the remaining Austrian horse fled north to Ratisbon with great celerity.

Aftermath

The French had won the battle, but it was not a decisive engagement. Napoleon had hoped that he would be able to catch the Austrian army between Davout and the Danube, but he didn't know that Ratisbon had fallen and thus gave the Austrians a means of escape over the river.

Nevertheless, the French inflicted 12,000 casualties at the cost of just 6,000, and Napoleon's speedy arrival witnessed an entire axial realignment of his army (from a north-south axis to an east-west one) that permitted the defeat of the Austrians. Subsequent campaigning led to the French recapture of Ratisbon, Austrian eviction from Southern Germany, and the fall of Vienna.

Napoleon is alleged to have remarked of the series of manoeuvers that culminated at Eckmühl, it was "the finest" that he ever conducted.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Chandler, D. Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars, MacMillan (1979)
  2. ^ Rothenberg, Gunther E. (1982). Napoleon's Great Adversary. Sarpedon. p. 173.
  3. ^ a b Gallaher, John G.:"The Iron Marshal.", p. 185. Greenhill Books, 2000

Sources

  • Bowden, Scott & Tarbox, Charles (1989). Armies On The Danube 1809. The Emperor's Press. ISBN 0-913037-08-7.
  • Chandler, David G. (1966). The Campaigns of Napoleon. Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-523660-1.
  • Chandler, David G., Ed. (1987). Napoleon's Marshals. Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-905930-5.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Epstein, Robert M. (1994). Napoleon's Last Victory and the Emergence of Modern War. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0664-5.
  • Gallaher, John G. (2000). The Iron Marshall. Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-396-X.
  • Rothenberg, Gunther E. (1995). Napoleon's Great Adversary: Archduke Charles and the Austrian Army 1792-1814. Sarpedon. ISBN 1-885119-21-6.
  • Rothenberg, Gunther E. (2004). The Emperor's Last Victory. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-84672-8.
1809

1809 (MDCCCIX)

was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1809th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 809th year of the 2nd millennium, the 9th year of the 19th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1800s decade. As of the start of 1809, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1809 in France

Events from the year 1809 in France.

Alteglofsheim

Alteglofsheim is a municipality in the district of Regensburg in Bavaria in Germany.

The village was the site of a famous moonlight cavalry action on the evening of the Battle of Eckmühl on 22 April 1809. South of Alteglofsheim, 32 squadrons of Austrian Empire cavalry were defeated by as many as 60 squadrons belonging to the First French Empire, the Kingdom of Bavaria, and the Kingdom of Württemberg.

Battle of Abensberg

The Battle of Abensberg took place on 20 April 1809, between a Franco-German force under the command of Emperor Napoleon I of France and a reinforced Austrian corps led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Archduke Louis of Austria. As the day wore on, Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann von Hiller arrived with reinforcements to take command of the three corps that formed the Austrian left wing. The action ended in a complete Franco-German victory. The battlefield was southeast of Abensberg and included clashes at Offenstetten, Biburg-Siegenburg, Rohr in Niederbayern, and Rottenburg an der Laaber. On the same day, the French garrison of Regensburg capitulated.

After Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout's hard-fought victory at Battle of Teugen-Hausen the previous day, Napoleon determined to break through the Austrian defenses behind the Abens River. The emperor assembled a provisional corps consisting of part of Davout's corps plus cavalry and gave Marshal Jean Lannes command over it. Napoleon directed his German allies from the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Kingdom of Württemberg to attack across the Abens from the west, while Lannes thrust from the north toward Rohr.

While the Austrians initially held the river line, Lannes' strike force crashed through Louis' defenses farther east. On the left, the Austrians managed to conduct a capable rear guard action, but during the day the French smashed their opponents' right flank and captured thousands of soldiers. The day ended with the Austrians barely holding onto a line behind the Große Laber River.

The next day, Hiller withdrew to Landshut, separating the left wing from the main army under Generalissimo Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen near Regensburg (Ratisbon).

The French surrender of Regensburg on 20 April allowed Charles' army a retreat route to the north bank of the Danube. The Battle of Landshut was fought on 21 April.

Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit

The Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit on 24 April 1809 saw a Franco-Bavarian force led by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières face an Austrian Empire army commanded by Johann von Hiller. Hiller's numerically superior force won a victory over the Allied troops, forcing Bessières to retreat to the west. Neumarkt-Sankt Veit is located ten kilometers north of Mühldorf and 33 kilometers southeast of Landshut in Bavaria.

On 10 April 1809, Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen's surprise invasion of the Kingdom of Bavaria put the Grande Armée of Emperor Napoleon I of France at a disadvantage. On 19 April, Charles failed to take advantage of his opportunities and Napoleon struck back with savage force against the Austrian left wing under Hiller. After battles on 20 and 21 April, Hiller's troops were driven into a headlong retreat to the southeast.

Having temporarily disposed of Hiller, Napoleon turned north with his main army against Archduke Charles. On 22 and 23 April, the Franco-Germans defeated Charles' army and forced it to withdraw to the north bank of the Danube. Meanwhile, Napoleon sent Bessières to pursue the Austrian left wing with minor forces. Not knowing that Charles had been defeated, Hiller turned back upon his pursuer, defeating Bessières near Neumarkt-Sankt Veit. Once he found that he was alone on the south bank facing Napoleon's main army, Hiller retreated rapidly to the east in the direction of Vienna.

Battle of Sankt Michael

In the Battle of Sankt Michael (or Sankt Michael-Leoben) on 25 May 1809, Paul Grenier's French corps crushed Franz Jellacic's Austrian division at Sankt Michael in Obersteiermark, Austria. The action occurred after the initial French victories during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Sankt Michael is located approximately 140 kilometers southwest of Vienna.

Originally part of the Danube army of Archduke Charles, Jellacic's division was detached to the south before the Battle of Eckmühl and later ordered to join the army of Archduke John at Graz. As it retreated southeast toward Graz, Jellacic's division passed across the front of

Eugène de Beauharnais' Army of Italy, which was advancing northeast in pursuit of Archduke John. When he learned of Jellacic's presence, Eugène sent Grenier with two divisions to intercept the Austrian column.

Grenier's lead division duly intercepted Jellacic's force and attacked. Though the Austrians were able to hold off the French at first, they were unable to get away. The second French division's arrival secured a clear numerical superiority over Jellacic, who was critically short of cavalry and artillery. Grenier's subsequent French assault broke the Austrian lines and captured thousands of prisoners. When Jellacic joined John it was with only a fraction of his original force.

Battle of Teugen-Hausen

The Battle of Teugen-Hausen or the Battle of Thann was an engagement that occurred during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. The battle was fought on 19 April 1809 between the French III Corps led by Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout and the Austrian III Armeekorps commanded by Prince Friedrich Franz Xaver of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. The French won a hard-fought victory over their opponents when the Austrians withdrew that evening. The site of the battle is a wooded height approximately halfway between the villages of Teugn and Hausen in Lower Bavaria, part of modern-day Germany.

Also on 19 April, clashes occurred at Arnhofen near Abensberg, Dünzling, Regensburg, and Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm. Together with the Battle of Teugen-Hausen, the fighting marked the first day of a four-day campaign which culminated in the French victory at the Battle of Eckmühl.

Austria's invasion of the Kingdom of Bavaria caught Emperor Napoleon I of France's Franco-German army by surprise. Though the advance of Archduke Charles' Austrian army was slow, mistakes by Napoleon's subordinate Marshal Louis-Alexandre Berthier placed Davout's corps in great peril. As Davout withdrew southwest from Regensburg on the south bank of the Danube, Charles tried to intercept the French with three powerful attacking columns.

The first Austrian column missed the French altogether, while Davout's cavalry held off the second column. The third column crashed head-on into one of Davout's infantry divisions in a meeting engagement. Generals of both armies led their troops with courage and skill as the troops fought over two ridges. French reinforcements finally pushed the Austrians off the southern ridge late in the afternoon and Charles ordered a retreat that night. This opened a clear path for Davout to join the main body of the French army on 20 April.

Eckmühl

Eckmühl (formerly known in English as Eggmuhl, in Bavaria officially as Eggmühl) is a village of Germany, in Bavaria, on the Große Laaber, 20 km S.E. of Regensburg. It is famous as the site of a battle fought on the 22 April 1809 during the War of the Fifth Coalition between the French, the Bavarians, the Württembergers under Napoleon, and the Austrians under the Archduke Charles, which resulted in the defeat of the latter. Napoleon, in recognition of Marshal Davout's great share in the victory, conferred on him the title of Prince of Eckmühl.

Flags of the Imperial Austrian Army of the Napoleonic Wars

Three main patterns of flag were carried by Austrian troops through the period 1792–1815.From 1768 until 1805, each infantry regiment carried two flags per battalion: the 1st or Leib Battalion carried the white Leibfahne and one yellow Ordinarfahne, while the others used two Ordinarfahnen. As the new organisation was implemented under Karl Mack von Leiberich, an Imperial Decree of 22 June 1805 reduced the flags to one per battalion, the Grenadier (or Leib Battalion) carrying the white Leibfahne as it was the senior battalion and the others carrying one Ordinarfahne each. When the army reverted to its former organisation on 6 December 1806, so did the flags, i.e.: Leibfahne plus one Ordinarfahne for 1st (Leib) Battalion, two Ordinarfahnen for the others. A further change in 1808 reduced the numbers of flags to one per battalion again.

Aside from 1805, the Grenadier battalions which only formed up in wartime, just picked up one spare Ordinarfahne, usually but not necessarily from the senior parent regiment depot. Only in 1805, when each regiment had its own Grenadier battalion as the senior unit, did the Grenadiers carry a Leibfahne. The "rotating Leibfahne" is a myth, probably down to the flags captured at Ulm in 1805 from the ‘Grenadier’ battalions. The post-1808 Jäger battalions never carried flags. The Grenzers used the usual system, except that after 1807, all battalions appear to have carried one Ordinarfahne. It is not clear whether they carried the flag in war, although one was captured from 9. Peterwardein Grenzer at the Battle of Eckmühl in April 1809.

Jean-Baptiste Cervoni

Jean-Baptiste Cervoni (29 August 1765 – 22 April 1809) became a general officer in the French army during the French Revolutionary Wars and was killed in action in 1809 during the Napoleonic Wars.

Johann von Hiller

Johann Baron von Hiller (13 October 1754 – 5 June 1819) 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.

Landshut

Landshut (Austro-Bavarian: Landsad) is a town in Bavaria in the south-east of Germany. Situated on the banks of the River Isar, Landshut is the capital of Lower Bavaria, one of the seven administrative regions of the Free State of Bavaria. It is also the seat of the surrounding district, and has a population of more than 70,000. Landshut is the largest city in Lower Bavaria, followed by Passau and Straubing, and Eastern Bavaria's second biggest city.

Owing to its characteristic coat of arms, the town is also often called "City of the three Helmets" (German: Dreihelmenstadt). Furthermore, the town is popularly known for the Landshuter Hochzeit (Landshut Wedding), a full-tilt medieval festival.

Due to its proximity and easy access to Munich and the Franz Josef Strauss International Airport, Landshut became a powerful and future-oriented investment area. The town is one of the richest industrialized towns in Bavaria and has East Bavaria's lowest unemployment rate.

List of Napoleonic battles

This list includes all those battles which were fought throughout the Napoleonic era, April 1796 – 3 July 1815.

Louis-Nicolas Davout

Louis-Nicolas d'Avout (10 May 1770 – 1 June 1823), better known as Davout, 1st Duke of Auerstaedt, 1st Prince of Eckmühl, was a French general who was Marshal of the Empire during the Napoleonic era. His talent for war along with his reputation as a stern disciplinarian earned him the title "The Iron Marshal". He is ranked along with Masséna and Lannes as one of Napoleon's finest commanders. His loyalty and obedience to Napoleon were absolute. During his lifetime, Davout's name was commonly spelled Davoust, which is how it appears on the Arc de Triomphe and in much of the correspondence between Napoleon and his generals (see external links below for examples).

Louis-Vincent-Joseph Le Blond de Saint-Hilaire

Louis-Vincent-Joseph Le Blond, comte de Saint-Hilaire (4 September 1766 – 5 June 1809) was a French general during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Louis Aloysius, Prince of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Bartenstein

Louis Aloysius, Prince of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Bartenstein (German: Ludwig Aloysius Prinz zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Bartenstein) (August 18, 1765 – May 30, 1829) was a German prince and Marshal of France. He commanded a division of Austrian soldiers in the 1809 and 1814 campaigns during the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleonic era

The Napoleonic era is a period in the history of France and Europe. It is generally classified as including the fourth and final stage of the French Revolution, the first being the National Assembly, the second being the Legislative Assembly, and the third being the Directory. The Napoleonic era begins roughly with Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état, overthrowing the Directory, establishing the French Consulate, and ends during the Hundred Days and his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo (9 November 1799 – 18 June 1815). The Congress of Vienna soon set out to restore Europe to pre-French Revolution days. Napoleon brought political stability to a land torn by revolution and war. He made peace with the Roman Catholic Church and reversed the most radical religious policies of the Convention. In 1804 Napoleon promulgated the Civil Code, a revised body of civil law, which also helped stabilize French society. The Civil Code affirmed the political and legal equality of all adult men and established a merit-based society in which individuals advanced in education and employment because of talent rather than birth or social standing. The Civil Code confirmed many of the moderate revolutionary policies of the National Assembly but retracted measures passed by the more radical Convention. The code restored patriarchal authority in the family, for example, by making women and children subservient to male heads of households.

Whilst working to stabilise France, Napoleon also sought to extend his authority throughout Europe. Napoleon's armies conquered the Iberian and Italian peninsulas, occupied lands, and he forced Austria, Prussia, and Russia to ally with him and respect French hegemony in Europe. The United Kingdom refused to recognise French hegemony and continued the war throughout.

The First French Empire began to unravel in 1812, when he decided to invade Russia. Napoleon underestimated the difficulties his army would have to face whilst occupying Russia. Convinced that the Tsar was conspiring with his British enemies, Napoleon led an army of 600,000 soldiers to Moscow. He defeated the Russian army at Borodino before capturing Moscow, but the Tsar withdrew and Moscow was set ablaze, leaving Napoleon's vast army without adequate shelter or supplies. Napoleon ordered a retreat, but the bitter Russian winter and repeated Russian attacks whittled down his army, and only a battered remnant of 30,000 soldiers managed to limp back to French territory. The allies then continued a united effort against Napoleon until they had seized Paris forcing his abdication in 1814. His return to power the next year was resisted by all the allies and his army was defeated by an Anglo-Allied force at Waterloo.

Phare d'Eckmühl

The Phare d'Eckmühl, also known as Point Penmarc'h Light or Saint-Pierre Light, is an active lighthouse in Penmarc'h, Finistère department, Brittany, France. At a height of 213 feet (65 m) it is one of the tallest lighthouses in the world. It is located at the port of Saint-Pierre, on Point Penmarc'h, on the southwestern corner of Finistère and the northwestern entrance to the Bay of Biscay.

The tower was built following a decision on April 3, 1882 to modernize the coastal lighthouses and raise the focal height of the Penmarc'h lighthouse, built in 1835, to 60m. However, engineers reported that the old tower could not support such an extension, so in 1890 it was decided to build a new lighthouse, the plans of which were completed on April 3, 1882. Funding came unexpectedly on 9 December 1892 when Adélaïde-Louise Davout, Marquise de Blocqueville, left substantial funds for the new tower in her will, provided the lighthouse was dedicated to the memory of her father, the general Louis Nicolas Davout, who was "Prince d'Eckmühl", a title he won after the Battle of Eckmühl. The tower was inaugurated on October 23, 1897.

The centennial of the lighthouse was celebrated in 1997.The tower is open to the public. Reaching the top takes climbing 307 steps, 227 stone steps followed by an iron staircase.

Pierre Berthezène

Pierre, baron Berthezène (24 March 1775, Vendargues - 9 October 1847, Vendargues) was a French general.

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