Battle of Höchstädt (1800)

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Battle of Höchstädt
date June 19, 1800
place Höchstädt on the Danube
output French victory
Parties to the conflict

France 1804First French Republic France

Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy Austria Bavaria Württemberg
Electorate of BavariaElectorate of Bavaria 
WurttembergKingdom of Württemberg 


France 1804First French Republic Jean-Victor Moreau

Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy Paul Kray from Krajowa

Troop strength
40,000 10,000


1000 killed or wounded, 3000 captured, loss of 20 cannons and 4 flags

The information on troop strength and losses can differ significantly in the literature.

The Battle of Höchstädt (also the Third Battle of Höchstädt , also meeting near Höchstädt ) took place during the Second Coalition War on June 19, 1800 near Höchstädt on the Danube . Austrian troops supported by Bavaria and Württemberg under the command of Feldzeugmeister Paul Kray von Krajowa suffered a defeat against the French troops of the Rhine Army under General Moreau . After the meeting, the Austrian side decided to withdraw via Ingolstadt in the direction of the Inn and at the same time began to ask Moreau for an armistice. Such a ceasefire had been agreed with Napoleon Bonaparte shortly after the battle of Marengo in northern Italy .


After the French Revolution , European powers tried to influence revolutionary France. In the years from 1792 to 1815 there were several armed conflicts which, because of their changing coalitions, are referred to as coalition wars or, from 1799, also as "Napoleonic Wars". The second coalition war broke out in 1799.

France faced an alliance made up of Great Britain , Austria , Russia , the Ottoman Empire , Portugal , Naples, and the Papal States, from which Russia withdrew in 1800. As a great power, Austria was the only serious opponent of France from this alliance on the continent. After the coup d'état of 18th Brumaire VIII , the French consulate was established , in which Napoleon Bonaparte was the first consul to rule. He decided to stand up to this opponent in northern Italy at the head of troops himself. At the same time, the French Rhine Army under General Moreau was supposed to tie up Austrian armed forces in southern Germany.

Development before the battle

General Paul Kray von Krajowa

The army led by the Austrian commander, Feldzeugmeister (FZM) Baron von Kray, had, in addition to the main army, corps in Tyrol and Vorarlberg . It was set up in the spring of 1800 as follows:

General Jean-Victor Moreau

Of the French army under General Moreau, the right wing under General Lecourbe occupied the Rhine from Laufenburg to Maienfeld with 29,000 men and the central part under General Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr with 30,000 men occupied the Upper Rhine from Laufenburg to Alt-Breisach . 19,000 men of the left wing under battalion chief Suzanne covered the left bank of the Rhine from Alt-Breisach to Düsseldorf. The reserve, 26,000 men, was quartered in the Fricktal , in Upper Alsace and in the fortified camp of Klein-Basel . Moreau's headquarters were in Basel .

Not counting the corps in Tyrol, about 66,100 men were deployed on the Austrian side. In contrast, without the units of Suzanne, the French had around 85,000 soldiers. Another source names the strength of the Austrians at 62,000 men, including 20,000 cavalrymen, and that of the French armed forces at 98,686 men.

The Austrian plan of operations was based on a joint attack from Italy and Lake Constance. The bulk of the army in Germany was to cross the Rhine between Basel and the mouth of the Aare and unite with the corps from Tyrol and Vorarlberg near Brügg , which had advanced via Sargans and Zurich . 5,000 men were supposed to penetrate the Valais over the Gotthard Pass , unite with a division of the Italian army advancing over the St. Bernhard , take up positions between Murten and Nidau and then join the bulk of the army on Lake Biel . As soon as the main army had gained a firm foothold in the Vosges , it was to besiege Belfort and Neu-Breisach and advance its left wing to the Saône , in order to join the Italian army, which was brought up through Savoy , probably at Lyons .

The French strategy was based on the wide distribution of Austrians. In order to gain the favorable terrain for the French at the source of the Danube, but at the same time to attract the attention of the Austrians during the dangerous approach of the armed forces through the impassable Black Forest , Moreau wanted to threaten to advance from Strasbourg and Breisach. General Lecourbe was to deliver the decisive blow on the right bank of the Rhine from Switzerland.

According to this plan of operations, on April 25, Moreau attacked the long line of defense of the enemy through his left wing, while Lecourbe remained calmly in his positions. It was not until April 28, after a series of skirmishes by the French left wing, which completely absorbed Kray's attention, that Lecourbe advanced against Rheinklingen , crossed the Rhine here on the morning of May 1st and pushed the widely dispersed troops of the FML Prince Joseph of Lorraine against singing back. On May 2, Moreau had gathered all of his right wing troops here. As a result, in a series of skirmishes near Stockach, Engen and Leipferdingen on May 3rd and in the battle near Meßkirch on May 5th, he forced the Austrian army to retreat to Ulm on May 10th, while the French occupied the Iller line . As a result, Tyrol gained increased importance on the Austrian side. On the night of May 2, FML Fürst Reuss had been ready to cross the Rhine with his army; However, when he learned that the French had pre-empted the Austrian offensive and that the right wing of Lecourbe was threatening Vorarlberg, he now wanted to stab the enemy in the rear. However, the unfavorable outcome of the fighting near Stockach and Engen caused him to limit himself to defending Tyrol.

Moreau's attempts to get the main imperial army to leave the position near Ulm failed. He then tried to achieve this by moving Lecourbe to Augsburg , thereby luring the Austrians out of Ulm and forcing them to a decisive battle. In fact, after Lecourbe had occupied Augsburg at the end of May, Baron von Kray dared to attack the left French wing between Biberach an der Riss and Memmingen . However, he was beaten on June 5th at Erolzheim and Ochsenhausen and backed off to Ulm. A fortnight passed, during which Moreau hesitated as to how to proceed; but then he decided to cross the Danube below Ulm.

Course of the battle

The days before

The Austrians did not remain inactive after the battle of June 5th and had success in various smaller forays and raids. But when Moreau slowly and hesitantly directed his troops eastwards on the 10th and attacked the Austrian outposts all along the line on the 12th , Sztáray withdrew to his position near Günzburg . Although Kray had significantly increased this contingent and ordered him to attack, Sztáray was reserved. He positioned two companies and one squadron in the area between Günzburg and the village of Peterswörth . The Württemberg general Christoph Dionysius von Seeger secured the area around Dillingen with seven companies. Ernst von Hügel near Lauingen commanded three and a half battalions . The area around Donauwörth was held by Major General Baron Thierry de Vaux with four and a half battalions and two squadrons, and with some companies guarded the bridge at Donaumünster near Tapfheim . From here to Höchstädt there were only rider posts.

On June 14th Lecourbe moved from the Lech to the Zusam and in the following days via Zusmarshausen to Wertingen and thus threatening Donauwörth . The unit of Paul Grenier , reinforced by part of Moreau's corps, the rest of which remained between Kammel and Mindel as a reserve, advanced to Burgau with the goal of Günzburg. General Antoine Richepanse stayed in the south-west of the developed fortress to observe Ulm, and was thus again exposed to a possible advance by the Austrian overwhelming power, which did not take place. The support of the Rhine Army against Reuss was entrusted to Generals Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor and Étienne Marie Antoine Champion de Nansouty .

On June 15, 1800, Lieutenant General Lecourbe occupied Burgau with a division as vanguard and expanded his troops to the right against the Strait of Lauingen and Dillingen on the Danube . After a small battle with the French, the Austrians evacuated the cities of Burgau and Wertingen after 4 p.m. Grenier followed the movement of the French division on Burgau with his right hand. Under these circumstances, Sztáray found it sensible to go back across the Danube and line up behind the Brenz near Gundelfingen on the Danube . It is puzzling why Sztáray ordered his avant-garde and all reinforcements received on the 15th partly to Ulm to the army, partly to Leipheim and only kept eight battalions and five squadrons.

On June 16, General Grenier advanced towards Günzburg and, after Sztáray had burned down the bridges of Leipheim and Günzburg behind him while retreating across the Danube, occupied this city at 6 p.m. At the same time the Austrians and the troops of Lieutenant General Lecourbe collided near Binswangen (between Wertingen and Dillingen). The latter, despite the fatal fire of an enemy battery, advanced and used cavalry to get behind them. Then these Austrians withdrew against Dillingen. About 2,000 French soldiers now turned against the village of Kicklingen with the intention of subsequently occupying the Höchstädter Bridge over the Danube. However, the bridge was dismantled and the opponents standing in Höchstädt received their enemies with cannon fire. There was also a reciprocal cannonade at Donauwörth, where the bridge had also broken off . As France's Rhine Army was now in position, it could dare to cross a river either with its left wing at Günzburg or with its right at Dillingen, as its center was ready to support the corps that first succeeded in crossing the Danube.

On June 17th, the banks of the Danube were explored and material was collected, which required the restoration of the wooden bridges. The Austrians had destroyed all wooden bridges from Ulm to Donauwörth at that time. The French had neither boats nor pontoons to cross the river and they could only find a few bridge beams at short notice. By Auskundschafter of Brigadier General Puthod proved that the bridges of Gremheim and Blindheim were still produce perhaps best compared. Lecourbe therefore decided to carry out the transition on these two points on June 19 and used the following day (June 18) to order appropriate measures. The Obergeneral Jean-Victor Moreau ordered the divisions of the center to the right wing and had them march from Ichenhausen and Burgau to Aislingen . Due to the lack of landing boats , a company of swimmers was formed, which two small boats with their weapons and clothes were to follow to the north bank of the Danube.

On June 18, around 5 p.m., Lieutenant General Lecourbe, who had left Augsburg for Wertingen with his headquarters at 8:30 a.m., attacked Dillingen, Lauingen, Höchstädt and Donauwörth to divert Sztáray, which was the Niederdonau with a corps of 11–18. To cover 15,000 men was commissioned to irritate about the real intention. The rest of the Austrian army was still at Ulm. Lieutenant General Grenier received orders to make arrangements for the crossing at Günzburg. This was intended both to prevent the Austrian reinforcement troops from moving towards Dillingen from Ulm and to threaten the position on the Brenz in the rear in the event that Sztáray was occupied. The Austrians, supported by Bavaria and Württemberg, fought back all attempts by the French to force a crossing over the Danube with terrible grappling and cannon fire, which caused a heavy loss of dead and wounded in the French ranks. The cannonade lasted until after 9 p.m. that day. The enemy attacks on Günzburg moved FZM Paul Kray von Krajowa to relocate the Riesch and Klinglin divisions and the infantry of Archduke Ferdinand's brigade to Elchingen .


The bombardment began with the same intensity on June 19 at 3 a.m., when Generals César Charles Étienne Gudin de la Sablonnière and Joseph Hélie Désiré Perruquet de Montrichard moved with their divisions behind the forest opposite the Blindheim. General Jean Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul was ready to march with the reserve army which Moreau had set up on the right wing of the army to support the troops after the passage. At 5 o'clock the preparations were finished. General Gudin, commanded by Brigadier Generals Anne Gilbert de La Val and Puthod, led the first attack. After a short cannonade, the Austrians left their defensive posts at Blindheim and Gremheim. 80 French swimmers crossed the river and, followed by two boats, reached the left bank of the Danube. Without getting dressed, they picked up their muskets , hung their cartridge pouches and otherwise rushed naked at their opponents, from whom they took two cannons. A ladder was placed over the remainder of the bridge on the Danube. Gunner then rushed over to use both captured cannons against the Austrians and their allies. Meanwhile, sappers began hastily with the initially makeshift restoration of the bridge. It was possible to bring two battalions to the north side of the Danube, which moved into the villages of Blindheim and Gremheim to protect the work on the bridge reinforcement.

Because General Thiery de Vaux did not offer the French any strong resistance after the immediate notification of the crossing, three companies with two guns, two battalions of infantry, a squadron of hussars and a wing of cuirassiers with four guns were wiped out by the enemy in the ranks of the Württemberger Riedlingen pursued. In the meantime, Sztáray gathered his army corps, which stood along the Danube on the right to Günzburg, on the left to Gremheim, into a powerful mass. His reserve troops rushed in from Donauwörth as well as from Dillingen to attack the crossing points. In order to forestall any unification between these two corps, Lieutenant General Lecourbe immediately occupied Schwenningen , which was defended by a Württemberg battalion. In this village, which is closer to the slopes of the Danube valley, the French infantry could acquire an advantageous position; it was taken several times and lost again, until the French finally won after a third assault around noon.

As Lieutenant General Lecourbe had suspected, the Austrians were only anxious to re-establish the connection between their units in the left Danube valley, which had now been cut off. They advanced against Schwenningen with 4,000 foot soldiers, 40 horsemen and 6 cannons. The French infantry and the associated peloton of the 8th Hussar Regiment were exposed to a hail of enemy bullets. When the French staggered and tried to leave the village, two squadrons of the first carbine regiment intervened on their side. This was joined by the peloton from the 8th Hussar Regiment and now a fierce battle began. The French destroyed the Austrian battle line and eventually got 2,500 prisoners, ten cannons, four flags and 300 horses. In vain did the two battalions form Württemberger squares; the carbines broke through the whole line and captured the flags of both battalions in the middle of the square. General La Val's brigade pursued those who had fled in disorder and launched an attack on Donauwörth at 12 o'clock in order to persuade Major General Baron de Vaux, who was there with a corps of 1,900 men, to retreat. But he bravely led resistance and let his 36 cannons placed on the Schellenberg shoot at the enemy until around 11 p.m.

The Austrians streaming onto the battlefield from Höchstädt, Dillingen and Lauingen had to be met by the French. Generals Montrichard and Gudin advanced their units with great difficulty and stubborn resistance from Blindheim. When the French managed to line up in battle, the Austrians withdrew to Dillingen in an orderly manner. The infantry marched along the Danube, where their front was covered by a wood, while the left wing was to be protected by cavalry. The 37th Half-Brigade and a squadron from the 9th Cavalry Regiment chased the Austrians on the Danube bank, while Lecourbe and his force threw themselves on the left wing of the enemy and overtook them. Brigade chief Merlin received the order to advance with the cuirassiers at full gallop through the village of Schretzheim and to attack the Austrian troops on their march from Höchstädt to Dillingen. This caused disorder in the opposing cavalry, which now left 3,000 infantry uncovered. This column wanted to seek safety in the trenches of Dillingen; but the cuirassiers surrounded them with their swiftness. 1,800 men were now cut off and surrendered. The remaining soldiers were followed to Gundelfingen on the Brenz. Then Lecourbe moved to a position on the river Egau between Höchstädt and Dillingen. He waited there for the reserve divisions, which were busy restoring the bridges at Dillingen and Lauingen, in order to then cross the Danube as well.

On that day Moreau had concentrated the greater part of his army between Aislingen and Binswangen. He personally led the Decaen and Grandjean divisions to the left bank of the Danube over the incompletely demolished and now repaired bridges at Lauingen and Dillingen, which were abandoned by their opponents . With Lecourbe he started the attack against Gundelfingen.

Immediately after Kray was informed of the transfer of the French, he hurriedly set Major General Klinglin on the march with numerous cavalry corps. When Lieutenant General Lecourbe noticed movement on the front of the Austrian line at around 6 p.m., he had his infantry advance and take a position near Lauingen. General Klinglin had divided his corps into two broad lines. The first attacked the French carbines and some squadrons of hussars from the 9th Regiment and drove them back. French cuirassiers now appeared on the scene, and as the carbines and hussars advanced again and bravely hit the enemy, they soon got into disarray. At that moment the second line of the Austrian cavalry advanced in support of the first and fought the three French regiments, which were immediately turned back. The previously held back 9th Cavalry Regiment fell on the flank of the Austrians, just at the moment when they wanted to pursue the fleeing French and fought so vigorously that the French were victorious and Klinglin's cavalry was defeated.

At sunset the bridges at Dillingen and Lauingen were intact again and part of the French reserve had arrived on the left bank of the Danube. In the meantime Kray's reinforcements had come up. 8,000 Austrians had lined up facing the Brenz and their artillery began firing. Moreau wanted to drive the enemy away from the Brenz and ordered another attack. The 4th Hussar, 6th Chasseur , 11th Dragoons and 13th Cavalry regiments as well as part of the infantry from the Decaen division were ordered to leave together with the corps of Lieutenant General Lecourbe. The large plain from Lauingen to Gundelfingen, where Kray had set up 12 squadrons cuirassiers to rescue the infantry, and the speed with which the movement had to be carried out, required French cavalry deployment. It was arranged in echelons and advanced aided by batteries erected on its flanks.

The Austrians extended their strong line and awaited the attack, which began at about 8 p.m. and was repeated several times with great impetus. Moreau himself was often in the middle of the crowd. For a long time it was doubtful who would win, but in the end the French prevailed, who captured over 400 horses. During the battle the 37th Half-Brigade took Gundelfingen. Only around 11 p.m. did the Austrians retreat across the Brenz and let the winners take their positions. That same evening the rest of the French reserve corps crossed the Danube and took up their positions. Lieutenant General Grenier was ordered to cross the Danube that night with the two divisions of Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers and Legrand near Lauingen in order to take up position on the left wing of the army. General Michel Ney's division remained in its position on the Günz to provide cover .

After the cavalry battle that lasted into the night, Sztáray withdrew his remaining soldiers to the right of the Brenz on Sontheim an der Brenz and Giengen an der Brenz . The remnants of the Riesch, Klinglin and Baillet divisions deployed at Gundelfingen followed him. General de Vaux cleared Donauwörth at midnight and moved to Ingolstadt via Monheim , Pappenheim and Eichstätt .

The Austrians alone recorded 47 dead, 160 wounded and 1,978 prisoners succeeded by the enemy on that day, and they also lost 342 horses, five guns, five ammunition carts and a large number of carts. The losses of the French or the Austrians and their allies were, in relation to the strength of the team, generally limited. But to Augsburg alone, from June 19 in the evening to June 21 in the morning, seriously wounded people were transported away in 103 wagons. The sight of them with limbs partly shattered by grapeshots, partly disfigured by the blows of a saber, was horrific according to contemporary descriptions.

After the battle

The successful Danube crossing by the French forced Kray to leave his fortified location in Ulm and cost him 5 flags, 20 cannons including ammunition wagons and about 5,000 prisoners. A large number of them succeeded in escaping the French either in Swabia or in Switzerland. In Swabia, in order to avoid Austrian patrols , she had to take her escort away, mostly at night and on secret routes.

Kray decided against the risk of a battle with Moreau's troops and began to turn with his weakened army in an arc towards Ingolstadt. He wanted to win the lower Danube and reunite with the corps that had separated from him. He left Ulm on June 20, leaving behind a crew of around 12,000 men under Franz von Petrasch , and moved via Heidenheim an der Brenz and Neresheim to Nördlingen , where the units, weakened because of the softened roads, were camped. On June 23, the Austrians had to defend themselves against French cavalry attacks. On the night of June 24th to 25th, Kray continued the retreat via Wemding to Monheim and finally to Neuburg an der Donau . Bavarian troops covered the right flank of the army, which took such a position on the Danube that it made a front against the Lech. French units remained on the heels of the Austrians.


After Paul Kray von Krajowa had escaped, Moreau decided to return to the right bank of the Danube. The occupation of Augsburg, Munich and the Isar bridges should force Kray to retreat behind the Inn and Moreau secure a bargaining chip in the event of an armistice . Food considerations for the troops also made his decision understandable. Kray tried Moreau for a truce. On July 15, 1800, the armistice was concluded at Parsdorf and extended again on September 20 in Hohenlinden .

As people in Vienna were dissatisfied with Kray's achievements, he was released from his command, and his successor was 18-year-old Johann von Austria . On November 28th that same year, the ceasefire was terminated and the Battle of Hohenlinden was on .


Individual evidence

  1. Here was partially related: Gaston Bodart: Military-historical War Lexicon, (1618-1905). Vienna 1908, p. 356.
  2. ^ Alfred Herrmann: The rise of Napoleon; War and diplomacy from Brumaire to Lunéville , page 305. Berlin 1912 , queried on July 10, 2011
  3. Bürgergemeinde Diessenhofen: General estate
  4. ^ Johann Konrad Friederich: Our Time , Volume 20, Issues 77-80, Page 437. Stuttgart 1829 , accessed on July 10, 2011
  5. ^ Battle on June 19, 1800 , Jaromir Hirtenfeld in: Österreichisches Militär-Konversationslexikon , Volume 2, page 829. Vienna 1852, queried on July 10, 2011
  6. ^ David Eggenberger: An encyclopedia of battles , page 193. ISBN 0-486-24913-1 (English), accessed on July 10, 2011
  7. ^ MJ Römer: History, Geography and Statistics of the Baierland , Volume 1, Page 570. Munich 1827 , queried on July 10, 2011
  8. ^ Archibald Alison: History of Europe , Volume 4, 5th edition, page 288 ff. Edinburgh / London 1843 (English), accessed on July 10, 2011