Battle of Wagram
The battle was fought on the Marchfeld in the plain between the Danube floodplain region Lobau and the Lower Austrian town of Deutsch-Wagram . A maximum of 300,000 soldiers faced each other in what was the largest battle of the Napoleonic Wars to date, in which artillery played a decisive role. Overall, the losses amounted to up to 78,000 soldiers, with the Austrians losing more soldiers than the French and their allies.
After the tactical defeat in the Battle of Aspern on May 22, 1809, Napoleon reinforced his main army with the Bavarian Division under General Wrede . At the same time he prepared his troops on the island of Lobau east of Vienna for a second attack that was to decide the war. While other parts of the Austrian army employed his generals Marmont in Dalmatia and Poniatowski in Galicia , the simultaneous revolt of Andreas Hofer in Tyrol meant that Napoleon could not attract any further Bavarian troops . At the same time England threatened with troop landings on the North Sea coast, which meant that a replacement from France could not be expected either. For these reasons Napoleon had already called his Italian army to the north as a precaution. However, the troops of Viceroy Eugène de Beauharnais had to try to defeat the opposing army from Inner Austria under Archduke Johann . Eugene successfully pursued the enemy through Styria and was able to inflict heavy losses on him on June 14th in the Battle of Raab . In spite of this, Archduke Johann tried, for his part, to follow the orders of his brother Karl and to send his corps, which was still around 13,000 men strong, as reinforcement through detours via Marchegg . Napoleon, informed of these events, made preparations himself in the Lobau to attack the main Austrian army of Archduke Charles again.
Deployment of the opposing troops
At the beginning of July the Lobau was like a huge supply warehouse. After the arrival of the Italian army, Napoleon was superior to the enemy in terms of troop numbers and fully equipped in terms of material in order to successfully venture into a new battle. Delays occurred during the night crossing of Lobau from July 4th to 5th, because Napoleon's chief of staff, Marshal Louis-Alexandre Berthier , had mistakenly assigned two corps to the same bridge to cross the river. The Davout, Masséna and Oudinot corps, using several crossings, were able to take up their deployment positions at Aspern-Eßling in good time. Bernadotte and the Saxon troops joined them, so that by three o'clock in the morning 40,000 men were crossed between Mühlleiten on the Schusterwiese and the Haselgrund. At Wittau the III. Corps the right wing. At noon on July 5, the deployment was completed, and the French had gathered over 150,000 soldiers at the bridgehead across from Groß-Enzersdorf for the first attack.
On July 5th, Napoleon's army consisted of the following units:
- IV Corps commanded from Masséna
- Saxon IX. Corps commanded by Bernadotte
- II Corps commanded by Oudinot
- III. Corps commanded by Davout
- Imperial Guard
- Cavalry reserve ( Bessieres )
- Italian army with the V. and VI. Corps, commanded by Jacques MacDonald and Paul Grenier
On the other side of the battlefield, Archduke Karl led 136,500 soldiers into the field and positioned his corps on the heights behind the Russbach . His V Corps under Prince Reuss was available at any time with a further 13,000 men in the Bisamberg area to secure the connections to the rear and was already drawn closer to the battlefield on Nussdorf . However, on the advice of his Chief of Staff Maximilian von Wimpffen, he had quickly given up his original plan to confront the enemy in the open Marchfeld , as he had already recognized that the number of French squadrons was considerably larger than his own.
On the first day of the battle, the Austrian army consisted of 160 battalions and 148 squadrons:
- Avantgarde ( Nordmann )
- I. Corps ( Bellegarde )
- II Corps ( Hohenzollern-Hechingen )
- III. Corps ( Kolowrat-Krakowsky )
- IV Corps ( Rosenberg )
- VI. Corps ( Klenau )
- Reserve Corps ( Liechtenstein )
- Reserve cavalry ( Hessen-Homburg )
The first day of the fight
During the entire deployment on July 5th, the French troops were fired at by the Austrian artillery under the direction of Colonel Josef von Smola from the Russbach Heights. The Austrian fortifications began at Stadlau, extended via Eßling and Groß-Enzersdorf to Herren-Au. They were secured by the vanguard of the Klenau corps and the avant-garde of the Nordmann division, the main Austrian power lay behind them waiting and preparing to secure the line of defense on the Russbach. Groß-Enzersdorf was set on fire during these fighting, and the Mayer Brigade of the Nordmann Division held the place in a halting battle until 9 a.m. The Austrian Frehlich division was attacked between Rutzendorf via Kimmerleinsdorf and Orth and had to go back to the Wittau - Probstdorf line. Some Austrian outposts in the area of Aspern and Eßling were driven out, and by noon the area around both places was in the hands of the Masséna corps.
In the late afternoon, the French army stood in a semicircle, marching up like a fan, facing the Austrians. On the far left wing stood Masséna and had pushed back the Austrian 6th Corps under Klenau via Essling on Aspern. The French center was already developing between Aderklaa and Parbarsdorf, with Bernadotte's corps on the left, MacDonald's troops in the middle, and Oudinot's corps on the right. The Davout Corps had advanced via Rutzendorf and Glinzendorf and formed the outer right flank in front of Markgrafneusiedl . The Corps Bernadotte and its division Dupas pushed the Austrian 2nd Corps of the Prince of Hohenzollern out of Raasdorf and forced it at Parbasdorf (then Baumersdorf) to retreat behind the Russbach. The heavy fighting during the retreat via Raasdorf to Parbasdorf was carried out almost entirely by the Hohenzollern Corps. Major General Ignaz Graf zu Hardegg rejected all further attacks on Parbasdorf. The divisions under Lieutenant Field Marshal Brady and Siegenthal suffered great losses, but then remained behind the Russbach in a well-protected defensive position; there were no more major attacks here the next day. On the eastern section of the battle, the hussars of Major General Provencheres and Radetzky's division covered the retreat of the 4th Rosenberg Corps on Markgrafneusiedl, while the cavalry under Lieutenant Field Marshal Nostitz covered the right wing on the far side.
At nightfall Napoleon ordered another attack. So he tried to decide the battle that day before the Austrian reserves could take decisive action the next day. The attack, led by MacDonald's troops, was hardly coordinated, and although the troops were able to conquer the heights behind Wagram at short notice, they were pushed back by the Austrian Bellegarde Corps, which was again holding, and strong fire.
Archduke Karl had given orders that evening to destroy Napoleon's great bridge over the main arm of the river at Kaiserebersdorf by burning rafts. Four ships were provided with powder and fuel and brought from the Schwarzen Lacken to the main arm by Captain Magdeburg. On Schierlingsgrund the project faced insurmountable difficulties after all the islands had been occupied by the enemy. The rafts were left to the current, ran aground prematurely and did not reach their destination. The Austrian army went to sleep behind the Russbach and before Wagram, outposts held hostility in Parbasdorf. The Grenadier Corps of Prince Liechtenstein formed between Wagram and Gerasdorf for the next day, one brigade each at Süßenbrunn and Aderklaa. D'Aspres Grenadier Division spent the night at Seyring , the troops of the 6th Corps were now resting at Stammersdorf, the 3rd Corps was behind them at Hagenbrunn.
Napoleon spent the night in the open air in Raasdorf, he wanted to force the decision the next day and, late in the evening, consulted with Marshal Davout about the plan for the next day at Markgrafneusiedl. The Corps Masséna ordered his new dispositions from the left wing back on the Danube, closer to the center via Breitenlee, but left the Boudet division on the extreme left wing to protect the occupied Eßling and the northern Lobau crossings.
The second day of the fight
Napoleon had decided for the second day of the battle, despite heavy losses the day before, by drawing on the Bavarian division and the XI. Corps under Marmont, he now had 159,500 men, including 29,000 horsemen, the number of his field guns now reached 488. The Austrians had lost about 6,000 men the previous day and on the second day had only 113,500 infantry, 14,600 horsemen and 414 Guns. The French achieved an overwhelming superiority in the cavalry in particular; their 250 squadrons were compared to only 148 in the Austrians.
At dawn on July 6th, the Austrians launched their first counterattack on the French right flank. This attack was directed against Glinzendorf and Großhofen and was led by the Radetzky division , but served as a diversion to draw the French reserves to this side. The actual attack was aimed at the French front near the town of Aderklaa . There then two Austrian corps made it - the 1st under Bellegarde and the Grenadier Corps of Liechtenstein, Bernadotte's Saxon IX. Corps to drive out of the place again. The counterattack of Massénas with his division Carra Saint-Cyr , which arrived first, failed, as did the one brought forward by the Saxon division Zezschwitz , the latter division literally got into an alley and was almost completely wiped out in the crossfire. The light-colored uniforms of the Saxons caused additional confusion, because the Legrand and Molitor divisions, which kept arriving from Essling, often mistook them for the Austrians when they intervened.
Then on the right, FZM Johann Karl von Kolowrat had his third corps, still fresh, have been advancing via Süßenbrunn since the morning, and now attacked Raasdorf at a storm, penetrated to the new inn in the village, but could not assert himself there and had to move his right wing , the Vukassovich Division , to withdraw to Breitenlee. The 6th Corps under Klenau had left its positions on the heights near Stammersdorf in the morning and was now advancing with a division under Field Marshal Lieutenant Vincent west of Leopoldau via Kagran to attack the Augrund. The Hohenfeld Division , which wanted to establish a connection with the advancing Corps Kolowrat near Breitenlee on the left wing of Klenau, was unsuccessful. The second division under Lieutenant Field Marshal Kottulinsky attacked the left wing division of the French IV Corps with artillery support between Breitenlee and Hirschstetten . The French Boudet division was thrown out of Aspern by troops of the Vecsey brigade , some of them withdrew to the Mühlau, while others withdrew via Eßling to Groß-Enzersdorf. The French batteries from Lobau then offered the Klenau Corps an iron hold.
Archduke Karl, meanwhile, watched the battle in the center on the heights of Parbasdorf and ordered his grenadier reserve to attack. In order to stop the Austrian attack in the center near Aderklaa, Napoleon pulled together additional reinforcements and 112 cannons, and he also had fresh cavalry formations line up to counterattack. At the same time, the Legrand and Molitor divisions from Masséna's corps had come up to stabilize the front with the Saxon corps , together with the cavalry under General Lasalle . With their superior strength they were able to restore the beleaguered battle line and force Bellegarde to stop. With the Corps Oudinot there was no action on the right adjoining section Parbasdorf before the Russbach, it was enough if he tied the Corps Hohenzollern to himself. The development on the right flank also developed successfully for the French side. The Davout Corps advanced on the burning Markgrafneusiedl. A loss-making infantry battle broke out around the place between Davouts Corps and the Austrian 4th Corps under Rosenberg. The Austrian avant-garde under Feldmarschallleutnant von Nordmann, who formed the left wing of Rosenberg, had been pushed back to the eastern heights of Markgrafneusiedl after bitter resistance. Marshal Davout tried to use his tenacious advantages by regrouping. His Puthod and Gudin divisions advanced again for a major attack on Markgrafneusiedl. The Austrian Infantry Regiment No. 49 suffered heavy losses during the defensive battle of their positions, and the encouraging Field Marshal Lieutenant von Nordmann lost his life. Davout's right wing, the Friant and Morand divisions already effectively encircled the Austrian left wing. The French cuirassier division under Arrighi , Duke of Padua, wrested Ober-Siebenbrunn from the Frehlich cavalry brigade . After Rosenberg withdrew in the direction of Wolkersdorf , Hohenzollern's position behind the Russbach also became untenable.
The decisive attack against the Austrian center was led by General MacDonald, who was later appointed Marshal for it. He divided his troops into formations of around 8,000 soldiers each, opened a heavy artillery fire and disguised the attack with cavalry attacks, with Lasalle on the left and Nansouty on the right. The preceding Karrees were able to push back the shaken center of the Austrians under Count Bellegarde in the following close combat. Although the sacrificial intervention of the Austrian Grenadier Corps under Field Marshal Lieutenant Konstantin d'Aspre gave the wavering front a brief counter-attack, it was torn apart here and ultimately rolled up. During this attack, the hussar general Lassalle fell on the French side and Field Marshal Lieutenant d'Aspre was fatally wounded on the other .
Archduke Karl ordered the immediate retreat to Znojmo around 3 p.m. to rescue his grandfather. The Bellegarde Corps retreated behind the Russbach between Aderklaa and Wagram and evaded its containment by retreating to the heights behind Gerasdorf . The cavalry of the Prince of Liechtenstein covered the orderly retreat behind Aderklaa. The Austrian 3rd Corps under Karl von Kolowrat held out at Süßenbrunn until the withdrawal of the Klenau Corps via Hirschstetten to Leopoldau was complete. The 2nd Corps of the Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen went back from Oudinot via Reuhof and formed anew between Seyring and Pillichsdorf .
Archduke Johann had only arrived in Marchegg from Bratislava on July 6th at noon and had not been able to deliver his brother Karl his 11,200 soldiers in time. At 6 o'clock in the evening he arrived at Leopoldsdorf too late , the fighting strength of the marching soldiers would not have been sufficient to reverse the situation.
Five days after the battle, the French met the retreating Austrians in the Battle of Znaim . As a result, Archduke Charles proposed an armistice , which Napoleon accepted because of his own military inferiority. Archduke Karl was therefore dismissed as Commander-in-Chief by Emperor Franz I. Austria had to conclude the Treaty of Schönbrunn on October 14, 1809 .
Wagram was the first battle in which Napoleon failed, with few losses in one victory. The losses of the French amounted to 34,000, which exceeded those of 24,000 men at the Battle of Aspern-Essling a few weeks earlier. Over time, these high losses led to an increasing loss of quality in the experience and competence of the French army. Among the dead were not only experienced men, NCOs and officers, but also over thirty generals of various ranks, all of which was difficult to compensate for.
Bernadotte was removed from command because of his unsuccessfulness, and he had to temporarily leave the Grande Armée . He became Crown Prince of Sweden in 1809 and subsequently an important ally of the sixth coalition against Napoleon.
After the battle, MacDonald and Oudinot were given marshal's baton. A song with the line “France chose MacDonald, the army chose Oudinot, friendship chose Marmont” was then sung in the army.
In 1959 the battlefield was marked with 22 memorials in 16 locations.
- David G. Chandler: Napoleon's Marshals. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1998, ISBN 0-297-84275-7 , pp. 247-251.
- Anton Pfalz (Hrsg.): Historical yearbook of the war memorial committee in Deutsch-Wagram . Vol. 1 (1907), 2 (1908), 3 (1909).
- Anton Pfalz (ed.): The battle of Deutsch-Wagram on July 5th and 6th, 1809 by Karl August Varnhagen von Ense . Issued on the centenary of this battle . With numerous illustrations and maps of the battlefield. Fromme, Vienna 1909.
- Karl August Varnhagen von Ense : The Battle of Deutsch-Wagram, on July 5th and 6th, 1809 . (From personal memorabilia). In: Friedrich von Raumer (Ed.): Historisches Taschenbuch 7 (1836), FA Brockhaus, Leipzig, pp. 1-77. Appendix (Map: Battlefield of Deutsch = Wagram ).
- Frank Bauer: Wagram 5./6. July 1809. Napoleon's great victory over Austria. Small series History of the Wars of Liberation 1813–1815, no. 29, Potsdam 2010.
- Description of the Battle of Wagram: Written by eyewitnesses according to the official bulletins of both contestants. With two plans. Relation de la bataille de Wagram, rédigée d'après les bulletins officiels des deux parties combattantes et d'après des rapports particuliers de témoins oculaires. Avec deux plans digitized (German and French)
- Manfried Rauchsteiner : The battle near Deutsch Wagram on July 5th and 6th, 1809 (= military historical publication series . H. 36). 4th, unchanged edition, ÖBV, Pädagogischer Verlag, Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-215-02433-0 .
- Military historical publication series No. 36, Manfried Rauchsteiner: The battle near Deutsch-Wagram, Öst. Bundesverlag Vienna 1984, page 17
- Military historical publication series No. 36, Manfried Rauchsteiner: The battle near Deutsch-Wagram, Österreichischer Bundesverlag Wien 1984, page 9
- Note: The number of total casualties can only be approximated because, in particular, the number of prisoners and missing persons as a result of the heavy fighting could no longer be determined at that time
- Wolfgang Gückelhorn: "Pont de Wagram"