Battle of Elchingen


Battle of Elchingen

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Elchingen
partof=the War of the Third Coalition


caption=The battlefield in front of the monastery of Elchingen
date=October 14, 1805
place=Elchingen, present-day Germany
result=French victory
combatant1=flagicon|France French Empire
combatant2=flag|Austrian Empire
commander1=Marshal Michel Ney
commander2=Graf Johann von Riesch
strength1=20,000
strength2=8,000
casualties1=800 killed or wounded
casualties2=2,000 killed or wounded
4,000 prisoners
notes=

The Battle of Elchingen (October 14, 1805) saw French forces under Marshal Michel Ney block Feldmarschall-Leutenant (FML or Major-General) Johann Riesch's Austrian forces, leading to the final encirclement and surrender of Austrian forces in the Ulm Campaign.

Preliminaries

At the Battle of Haslach-Jungingen on October 11, a much smaller French force led by Major-General Pierre Dupont blocked the Austrian army of General Karl Mack von Lieberich from escaping eastward along the north bank of the Danube.

During the next day, several French corps marched west on the south side of the Danube. Napoleon still hoped to encircle Mack's forces south of the river. He seemed unaware of the possibility that the Austrians could get away on the north bank. On October 13, Napoleon heard from Marshal Michel Ney that only Dupont's division and some cavalry occupied the north bank in force. He ordered Ney and Marshal Joachim Murat to shift their forces to the north side of the river the next day.

Plans

An 8,000-man Austrian corps led by Reisch occupied high ground on the north bank near the villages of Ober- and Unter-Elchingen. Deployed on the heights were 14 battalions of the Kaiser Nr. 1, Archduke Ludwig Nr. 8, Riese Nr. 15 and Erbach Nr. 42 Infantry Regiments. In close support were 11 squadrons of cavalry from the Archduke Franz Nr. 2 Cuirassiers, Hohenzollern Nr. 8 Cuirassiers and Rosenberg Nr. 6 Light Horse, plus 12 cannon.

Ney's VI Corps included the infantry divisions of Dupont and Maj-Gens Louis Loison and Mahler. Dupont was already north of the Danube with Brigadier-General Tilly's corps cavalry. Ney planned to have Loison's men attack across a partly dismantled bridge directly south of Riesch's position. As soon as the bridge was secure, Murat would send cavalry across to help. Meanwhile, Mahler would cross further east and then sweep west along the north bank.

Loison commanded the 6th Light, and the 39th, 69th and 76th Line Infantry Regiments under Brig-Gens Eugene-Casimir Villatte and François Roguet. Mahler led three battalions of the 25th Light, and 2 battalions each of the 27th, 50th and 59th Line Infantry Regiments under Brig-Gen Labasse. Brig-Gen Colbert's cavalry brigade included the 3rd Hussar and 10th Chasseur Regiments.

The battle

At 8:00 am, Ney sent the elite companies of Villatte's brigade across the bridge where they overpowered the bridge guard. French engineers quickly repaired the span so that when Riesch sent two battalions to interfere, they were driven back by a growing body of French reinforcements.

Villatte's brigade assaulted the main Austrian position supported by Colbert's cavalry. The 6th Light rapidly captured the Elchingen Abbey and most of Ober-Elchingen. The 39th Line was driven back by Austrian cavalry, but Loison brought up Roguet's brigade to help.

Threatened by Mahler from the east and Dupont from the northeast, Riesch began pulling back. The 69th Line helped roll Riesch's men back into the Grosser Forest. Murat sent more cavalry into the contest. Colonel Charles Lefèbvre-Desnoëttes's 18th Dragoons broke an Austrian square after it was softened up by musketry from the 76th Line. Colonel Auguste Caulaincourt's 19th Dragoons also joined the pursuit. A final cavalry charge by the Austrians was checked by Roguet's brigade, then counter-charged by Colbert's horsemen.

The French admitted losing 56 officers and 737 men killed or wounded. They captured 4,000 Austrians and 4 cannon. Austrian killed and wounded may have been as high as 2,000. In the aftermath, the French pursuit overran a large portion of Mack's artillery park.

trategic consequences

Mack was now trapped in Ulm. Riesch's survivors retreated to Ulm where they surrendered along with the bulk of Mack's forces in the Battle of Ulm on October 20. However, large portions of the Austrian army remained outside Napoleon's net. In several clashes through October 18, Murat's pursuit mopped up Lieut-Gen Werneck's command and other units. Only FMLs Archduke Ferdinand, Friedrich Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Karl Schwarzenberg and some cavalry escaped.

References

* Chandler, David. "The Campaigns of Napoleon" Macmillan, 1979.
* Chandler, David. Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars" Macmillan, 1979.
* Smith, Digby. "The Napoleonic Wars Data Book" Greenhill, 1998.
* Young, Peter, "Ney: The Bravest of the Brave," Chandler, David (ed.). "Napoleon's Marshals" Macmillan, 1987.

External links

* [http://www.napoleonicminiatureswargame.com/elchingen.html Elchingen October 14 1805: Action Report]


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