Battle of the Bergisel

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Franz von Defregger : Eve of the Bergisel battle

The four battles on Bergisel in 1809 were part of the Tyrolean popular uprising led by Andreas Hofer , which was fought against the Napoleonic French and their allies, the Bavarians , on Bergisel near Innsbruck . In contrast to today, the mountain slopes from the Sill Gorge to the ascent to Natters were also referred to as Bergisel.

initial situation

The cause of the battles on Bergisel was the Bavarian rule in Tyrol, which among other things led to the lifting of the Landlibell of 1511 (disregard of the Tyrolean military constitution) and massive interventions in traditional religious life. The trigger was the forced drafting of recruits in Axams in the course of the introduction of general conscription . At the beginning of April 1809 the " Landsturm " rose up all over Tyrol . The battle for Innsbruck broke out on April 12, 1809.

First Bergisel Battle (April 12, 1809)

In the first Bergisel battle on April 12, 1809, the provincial capital Innsbruck was liberated by Tyrolean armed forces under the leadership of the rifle captain Martin Teimer . The Bavarian troops under General Kinckel had to surrender to the Tyroleans.

On April 13, 1809, a Bavarian and French armed force under General Bisson, who came from the Brenner Pass and wanted to recapture Innsbruck from the hands of the Tyroleans, capitulated .

A ruse by Martin Teimer , who as a Tyrolean rifleman had slipped into the uniform of a retired officer of the Austrian Army General Staff, Major Spaur, prevented a renewed battle for Innsbruck. Teimer had an interpreter named Lener schedule a surrender negotiation with Wilten and fired a cannon shot at a specified time.

Through his energetic appearance as a false general staff member of the Austrian army, he could convincingly claim that the auxiliary troops of the Austrian army were already before Innsbruck. In fact, they were only on the northern border near Kufstein. The 8,000 Bavarians and French capitulated unconditionally and without a fight.

Together with Andreas Hofer, as a confidante of Archduke Johann, he had called in an "open order" to all Tyrolean militia captains on April 9, 1809, for the Tyrolean uprising. On May 15, 1809, he and Hofer were raised to simple nobility by the emperor.

In order to secure the surrender agreement, Teimer was built by Emperor Franz I. subsequently to major in the Army appointed. Later (1810 and 1812) he was awarded the Maria Theresa Order and was accepted into the higher nobility as Baron von Wiltau ( Wilten ).

Second Bergisel Battle (May 29, 1809)

The battles of May 25th and 29th 1809 are counted together as the second Bergisel Battle. In the morning hours of May 25, a peasant army of about 5,000 men arrived in Matrei and began to occupy the mountain slopes south of Innsbruck. Josef Speckbacher advanced from the Lower Inn Valley with around 1,000 riflemen, and the Tyroleans were supported by around 1,200 Austrian infantry with five guns. Fighting soon broke out on a broad front with the almost 5,000 Bavarian soldiers under General Deroy , but the Tyroleans under Andreas Hofer did not have a precise battle plan.

The falling night and a thunderstorm prevented a decision - the Bavarians claimed the valley floor, the Tyroleans the mountain slopes. The rifle leaders Hofer, Haspinger and Speckbacher had difficulties keeping the riflemen on the Bergisel. The farmers wanted to win quickly and go home to the field. But then the news arrived in Tyrol that Napoleon had been defeated in the battle of Aspern near Vienna. This was the reason why the riflemen, confident and victorious, attacked again on the morning of May 29th. The Bavarian troops suffered great losses and had to retreat to the Lower Inn Valley.

On May 30th, Andreas Hofer moved into Innsbruck. There is also an old story:

On the evening of May 25, 1809, the sand landlord Andreas Hofer was sitting in the Schupfen inn , in his headquarters, with his loyal friends. Suddenly an old man came and asked to be admitted to the sand inn. When he finally stood in front of the table at which Hofer was sitting, he said to him: "Hofer Ander, you must attack on the morning of May 29th, then the Tyroleans will win!" The old man disappeared; despite questioning and asking around, it was never possible to determine who this man was. So the opinion was formed that an angel had appeared in the disguise of the old man, who had informed the sand host of the date for the attack.

So much for the legend. After the lost battle near Aspern (May 21/22) Napoleon was able to defeat the Austrians in the battle near Wagram on July 5 and 6 and force them to sign an armistice in Znojmo on July 12 .

Third Bergisel Battle (August 13, 1809)

In the second half of July, an army of 25,000 men marched into Tyrol on all sides on Napoleon's orders, but in battles for the Lienzer Klause , at the Ehrenberger Klause near Reutte , at the Pontlatzer bridge between Landeck and Prutz and in the Eisack Gorge between Sterzing and Brixen suffered great losses.

The decisive battle was fought on August 13 at Bergisel. 15,000 Bavarian , Saxon and French soldiers under the leadership of the French Marshal Lefèbvre faced an equally large Tyrolean rifle contingent under Andreas Hofer. The companies from South and North Tyrol commanded by Peter Mayr formed the center of the Tyrolean contingent. After a day of rest, Lefèbvre had no choice but to retreat through the Lower Inn Valley on August 15th.

Andreas Hofer ruled the country as high commander in the Hofburg .

The Treaty of Schönbrunn , signed in October 1809, included the final abandonment of the Tyrolean territories by the Austrian Emperor.

Fourth Bergisel Battle (November 1, 1809)

Andreas Hofer's tomb in the Hofkirche

On the day of the peace treaty, Napoleon gave the order to subdue Tyrol. In the middle of October, Bavarian troops began to storm Tyrol, and by October 24th they were in front of Innsbruck. Hofer had already left the capital and hesitated to attack again.

After light fighting, the Bavarians took to the Bergisel in the morning on November 1st, and after almost two hours of fighting, the last Bergisel battle was lost for the Tyroleans.

Individual successes in mid-November, for example at Meran or St. Leonhard in Passeier , could not prevent the defeat, and Andreas Hofer was captured after a betrayal on January 28, 1810 and shot on February 20, 1810 in Mantua , Italy .


The southern Italian-speaking areas and the southernmost part of the German-speaking Tyrol (including Bozen ) became the Italian kingdom ; East Tyrol with Lienz , Sillian and Matrei became part of the Illyrian provinces of France .

After the defeat of Napoleon in 1813/1814, Tyrol came back to Austria and was expanded to include the Zillertal , Brixental and Matrei areas of Salzburg until 1805 .


See also: List of Battles , List of Wars , Fifth Coalition War

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