Lesson 19: The Hapsburg Recovery 108 - 133

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Lesson 19: The Hapsburg Recovery 108 - 133

Post  Admin on Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:33 am

Assignment: Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars, 108 - 133

Lesson Objectives:

• Explore the beginnings of the Peninsular War and identify flaws in Napoleon's strategic concept
• Assess the Austrian Army's reaction to Napoleon as well as their battlefield performance
• Evaluate Napoleon's tactical, operational, and strategic performance in the War of the Fifth Coalition.

Terms and Concepts

Battle of Bailen := Napoleon had dispersed his forces across Spain and they were getting repelled everywhere. On 20 July 1808, a force of about 18,000 marching to take CAdiz was defeated and compelled to capitulate at Bailen. News of Bailen stunned Europe and ended the French reputation of invincibility.

Archduke Charles := appointed Generalissimus, command all forces in peace and war for Austria. He first set out to reform the Austrian military. However, he was still a conservative... he tried to implement new things... but he didn't want to get away from traditional methods. Under his guidance, new manuals insisted that commanders always protect communications and magazines and, silent with regard to initiative expected of senior commanders, its emphasis on supply, careful planning, and precise alignments in battle inhibited flexibility and enterprise.

Under the new reforms, The Austrian army introduced what is called the "Corps". The line corps had three divisions: one designated as the advance guard, composed entirely of light troops, the others each with two or three infantry brigades.

Officers were selected by birth and seniority rather than merit. Although the leadership did not effectively manage this system, the system provided greater staying power, and even when defeated, the army managed to extricate itself without total disaster.

Although tactics did not change all to much, what we begin to see is Austrian adjustment to French capabilities. Page 117 details some of these examples.

Battle of Wagram:= he Battle of Wagram (July 5–6, 1809) was one of the most important military engagements of the Napoleonic Wars and ended in a decisive victory for Emperor Napoleon I's French and Allied army against the Austrian army under the command of Archduke Charles of Austria-Teschen. The battle virtually spelled the destruction of the Fifth Coalition, the Austrian and British-led alliance against France.

In 1809, the French military presence in Germany was diminished, as Napoleon transferred a large number of soldiers to fight in the Peninsular War. As a result, the Austrian Empire saw its chance to recover some of its former sphere of influence and invaded the Kingdom of Bavaria, a French ally. Recovering from his initial surprise, Napoleon beat the Austrian forces in a swift campaign and occupied Vienna at the beginning of May 1809. Despite the string of sharp defeats and the loss of the Empire's capital, Archduke Charles salvaged a massive army, with which he retreated north of the Danube. This allowed the Austrians to continue the war but, towards the end of May, Napoleon abruptly resumed the offensive and suffered a tactical defeat at the Battle of Aspern-Essling.

It took Napoleon six weeks to prepare his next offensive, for which he amassed a 165,000-men French, German and Italian army in the vicinity of Vienna. The Battle of Wagram began after Napoleon swiftly took the bulk of these forces across the Danube during the night of 4/5 July and attacked the 145,000-men strong Austrian army. Having successfully crossed the river, Napoleon attempted an early breakthrough and launched a series of violent, though ill-prepared evening attacks against the Austrian army. The latter was thinly-spread on a wide semicircle, but held a naturally strong position. After the attackers enjoyed some initial success, the tenacious defenders regained the upper-hand and the attacks failed. Bolstered by his success, the next day at dawn, Archduke Charles launched a series of attacks along the entire battle line, seeking to take the opposing army in double envelopment. The offensive failed against the mighty French right but nearly shattered Napoleon's overstretched left. However, the Emperor masterfully countered by launching a violent cavalry charge, which temporarily halted the Austrian advance. He then redeployed IV Corps to stabilise his left, while setting up a Grand Battery, which pounded the Austrian right and centre. The tide of battle turned and the Emperor launched an offensive along the entire line, while Maréchal Louis-Nicolas Davout drove a relentless offensive, turning the Austrian left, eventually rendering Charles's position untenable. Towards mid-afternoon on 6 July, Archduke Charles admitted defeat and led a timely and brilliant staged retreat, frustrating all enemy attempts to pursue. After the battle, Archduke Charles remained in command of a significant and still cohesive force and decided to retreat to Bohemia. However, the Grande Armée eventually caught up with him and scored a victory at the Battle of Znaim. With the battle still raging, Charles decided to ask for an armistice, effectively ending the war.

The two-day battle of Wagram was particularly bloody, mainly due to the extensive use of artillery on a flat battlefield packed with some 300,000 men. Despite the fact that Napoleon was the uncontested winner, he failed to secure a complete victory and the Austrian casualties were only slightly greater than those of the French and Allies. Nonetheless, the defeat was serious enough to shatter the morale of the Austrians, who could no longer find the will to continue the struggle. The resulting Peace Treaty of Schönbrunn meant the loss of one sixth of the Austrian Empire's subjects, alongside significant territories. SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA
Raisbon Phase := What other situations were going on in Austria? Diplomats were not sure what Russia's stance and Prussia's stance was on. Russia claimed to remain neutral, Prussia promised 80,000 troops, Britain promised financial assistance. However, there were reports of potential German revolts + French weakness. Charles knew that he had to attack the French as quick as possible to win. However, despite taking the initiative, he did not act decisvely and gave Napoleon enough time to summon his troops. Visual telegraph communications between Napoleon in Paris and Berthier in Bavaria failed, and, in the second week of APril, Davouut's right wint north of Ratisbon was still seaprated by 100 kilometers from Massena, the gap covered by Lefebvre's VII corps - 30k bavarians. Austrian staff officers were poor at their performance. The army came short of their intentions and their initial objective was delayed by 3 weeks. In the Ratisbon campagin, Napoleon, with a hastily assembled army, had wrested the initiative from the Austrians who had revealed grave shortcomings in command and control. Although Austria suffered a defeat, their army still remained in tact. What we see is the emergence of an Army that if it continues to adapt, will be able to counter French ambitions.

Battle of Aspern-Essling:= At the time of the battle Napoleon was in possession of Vienna, the bridges over the Danube had been broken, and the Archduke's army was near the Bisamberg, a hill near Korneuburg, on the left bank of the river. The French wanted to cross the Danube. Lobau, one of the numerous islands which divide the river into minor channels, was selected as the point of crossing. Careful preparations were made, and on the night of the 19th-20 May the French bridged all the channels on the right bank to Lobau and occupied the island. By the evening of the 20th many men had been collected there and the last arm of the Danube, between Lobau and the left bank, bridged. Masséna's corps at once crossed to the left bank and dodged the Austrian outposts. Undeterred by the news of heavy attacks on his rear from Tyrol and from Bohemia, Napoleon ferried all available troops to the bridges, and by daybreak on the 21st, 40,000 men were collected on the Marchfeld, the broad plain of the left bank, which was also to be the scene of the Battle of Wagram.

The Archduke did not resist the passage. It was his intention, as soon as a large enough force had crossed, to attack it before the rest of the French army could come to its assistance. Napoleon had accepted the risk of such an attack, but he sought at the same time to minimize it by summoning every available battalion to the scene. His forces on the Marchfeld were drawn up in front of the bridges facing north, with their left in the village of Aspern (Gross-Aspern) and their right in Essling. Both places lay close to the Danube and could not therefore be turned; Aspern, indeed, is actually on the bank of one of the river channels. The French had to fill the gap between the villages, and also move forward to give room for the supporting units to form up. SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

Study Questions
1. How had the organization and composition of the Grande Armee changed after the Treaty of Tilsit? How did this affect the army - in garrison, while campaginging, in battle?
French manpower was drained from years of warfare. In order to replenish the ranks, Napolean instituted a system of conscription both in Native and satelliete french states. Local conscripts served in a number of French Units; new regiments formed after 1805 were entirely composed of foreigners. Military organizations were also embodied into the French army. After 1805, the satellite states (Italy, Naples, Westphalia, and the Grand Duchy of Poland, provided additional manpower. Conscription quotas were based on population.
• Experienced and capable officers became harder to find, the marshals became overly concerned with rewards adn comforts, and eve the emperor was no longer at the peak of his power
• frenchy infantry was less capable of complex manoeuvres. To compensate, the emperor relied more on heavy formations requiring heavy skirmish screens.
• Emphasis shifted to artillery. Problem, there was a shortage of trained officers. He decreed that officers could be produced in 6 months.... however, their lack of experience would be a problem later.

2. Why did napoleon intervene militarily and politically in the Iberian Peninsula?
• By late 1807, Most European nations had closed their ports to England (except Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Portugal). Napoleon could not defeat the British force at sea, so he decided to wage economic warfare. The secret ports in Spain and Portugal's refusal to listen to French demands hampered French political goals. Napoleon sent a small force to occupy key locations and fortresses in Spain, eventually ousting the royal family and putting his brother on the throne. What ensued was public outrage which spawned into public violence. Provincial councils, or Juntas, emerged as organized forces of resistance and began harassing French troops. (LOOK AT TERM BAILEN). After Bailen, England sought an opportunity to exploit the situation. This eventually gave hope to Austria in renewing its efforts to counter French expansion.

3. What effects did French setbacks in Iberia have on the rest of Europe??
• It started a catalyst of rebellion by former French enemies (i.e. England + Austria).
• Napoleon was disturbed by reports about a conspiracy in Paris and Austrian mobilization. What you see is that Napoleon likes to take command.... now all the enemy has to do is converge at one decisive point. Napoleon can only move from point a to point b in time x. With Napoleon's army suffering from inexperienced officers, the French force is at an all time low. Perfect opportunity to destory them.
• Furthermore, he underestimated the potential of a popular resistance movement supported by regular forces with a secure supply route; he believed that an army could feed itself in Spain; and finally he thought that communications and movement in Spain were easy. He did not establish a clear chain of command and did not hesitate to interfere from afar, ordering movements and operations as if this was the \Lombard Plain.

4. How did the Austrian Army reform after 1807? What were the effects of the reform?
• Look up at the vocab.
5. What accounted for the tactical outcomes of the Battles of Aspern-Essling and Wagram?
• Archduke Charles was not decisive. His organization of the artillery had worked, but his system of command and control had failed. His relations with senior commanders were poor. He did not reveal his overall plan of battle to his subordinates and deprived them of inititiatve. He was too cautious and too concerned with preserving the army.

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