Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns


 


Austrian Order-of-Battle at Wagram: 5 - 6 July 1809

By Stephen Millar



"It was already late [on 5 July]. The troops of the Grand Army, tired with marching and fighting since the morning, formed into columns to let us pass. We thus had the honour of becoming the front rank and of pursuing the enemy, who only turned now and again in order to check our ardour. They eventually regained their positions, and we halted within short cannon-range. I was then in front of the position at Wagram; the village of that name was on the left, and that of Baumersdorf on the right. A violent cannonade continued along the whole line while we were forming.

The Emperor came up to speak to the Viceroy [Eugene of Italy], with whom I was talking; I fell back some yards. He did not speak to me as yet, but I heard him say somewhat carelessly:
'Order General Macdonald to attack and carry the plateau. The enemy are retiring, and we must make some prisoners.'
                                    – Recollections of Marshal Macdonald [Ch. 16]: 1893

The last of Napoleon’s decisive pre-1812 victories, the Battle of Wagram (5-6 July, 1809) was a bloody victory against Austria fought on the Marchfeld – a vast plain north-east of Vienna. It came six weeks after Napoleon’s initial attempt to cross the Danube River had been stopped by Archduke Karl-Ludwig at the Battle of Aspern-Essling (21-22 April). Napoleon subsequently withdrew his Grande Armee to Lobau Island and the south bank of the Danube to prepare plans for a second, more successful, river crossing.

Karl-Ludwig made two critical mistakes during this period: not only did he fail to exploit his success at Aspern-Essling, he was also convinced if  Napoleon attempted a second Danube crossing to secure a deployment area on the Marchfeld, it would again be in the Aspern sector. However, Napoleon planned to achieve tactical surprise on the night of 4-5 July by forcing a crossing further upstream at Gross-Enzerdorf.

The first day of the Battle of Wagram saw the French attack FML Armand von Nordmann’s Advanced Guard, the Austrian Reserve Cavalry and FZM Johann, Graf von Klenau’s VI Corps and force them back from the bridgehead. The French continued to advance over the river and by the early afternoon had completed the crossing. Napoleon then decided to attack the main Austrian position, but the assault failed.

The main phase of the battle began the next day, when the French again attacked the main Austrian position – a vast arc on the Marchfeld from Leopoldau to Markgrafneusiedl. The right wing of Karl-Ludwig’s army – Advanced Guard; part of I Corps; II and IV Corps – had been strengthened with field fortifications.

Composed of nine corps-sized formations, Karl-Ludwig’s Hauptarmee was a mixture of line infantry and cavalry, Grenz units (border infantry) and Landwehr (militia infantry). David Chandler gives the Hauptarmee’s total strength as 130,000 men on 5 July, rising to 146,600 men the following day. A further 12,500 men of the Army of Inner Austria under Archduke Johann was advancing from Pressburg, but failed to arrive in time for the battle.

Hauptarmee

Commander: Karl-Ludwig, FM Erzherzog
Chief-of-Staff: Wimpfen, GM Max, Freiherr von

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2004

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