Battle of Wertingen


Battle of Wertingen

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Wertingen
partof=the War of the Third Coalition
date=October 8, 1805
place=Wertingen, present-day Germany
result=French victory
combatant1=flagicon|France First French Empire
combatant2=flag|Austrian Empire
commander1=Marshal Joachim Murat
Marshal Jean Lannes
commander2=FML Franz Xavier Auffenberg
strength1=12,000
strength2=5,500
casualties1=200+ killed or wounded
casualties2=400 killed or wounded, 2,900 captured
notes=

In the Battle of Wertingen on October 8, 1805, French forces led by Marshals Joachim Murat and Jean Lannes mauled a small Austrian corps commanded by Feldmarschall-Leutenant (Major-General) Franz Auffenberg. This was the opening battle of the Ulm Campaign.

Background

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had launched his 200,000-man Grand Army across the Rhine. This huge mass of maneuver wheeled to the south and crossed the Danube River to the east of (i.e., behind) General Karl von Mack's concentration at Ulm. Unaware of the force bearing down on him, Mack stayed in place as Napoleon's corps spread south across the Danube, slicing across his lines of communication with Vienna.

Forces

Murat's advance guard included the heavy cavalry divisions of Klein (16 squadrons of the 1st, 14th, 20th and 26th Dragoon Regiments) and Beaumont (18 sqdns. of the 5th, 8th, 9th, 12th and 16th Dragoons), plus Antoine Lasalle's light cavalry brigade (8 sqdns. of 9th and 10th Hussars), a total of 42 squadrons. These were supported by eight battalions of Nicolas Oudinot's Grenadier division and three battalions of the 28th Light Infantry Regiment.

Auffenberg's command included 26 battalions, 20 cavalry squadrons and 24 guns. FML Maximilien de Baillet's division included Infantry Regiments Kaunitz #20, Archduke Ludwig #8, Jellacic #62, a brigade of four grenadier battalions, Cuirassier Regt. Albert #3 and Light Horse Regt. Rosenberg #6. FML Friedrich Hohenzollern-Hechingen's division was made up of Infantry Regts. Spork #25, Wurttemberg #38, Reuss-Greitz #55, Stuart #18, Hussar Regt. Palatine #12 and Light Horse Regt. Latour #4. [Smith, p 203]

Battle

Apparently because his troops were surprised, Auffenberg seems to have only brought nine battalions and one squadron, [Chandler, p 489] about 5,500 men, into action. There are conflicting accounts. One historian talks about individual battalions being broken by cavalry or surrounded and forced to surrender. [Smith, p 203] Another writer says that Austrian grenadiers formed in a massive square which resisted cavalry charges until the French brought up Oudinot's grenadiers. [Emmert, p 14]

French losses are stated as 174 killed and wounded. The Austrian suffered 400 killed and wounded, plus 2,900 men and 6 cannons captured. [Smith, p 203] One historian says 2,000 Austrian were captured. [Chandler, p 489] Cut off from Vienna, the Austrians retreated westward toward their base at Ulm.

Commentary

One historian remarks, "It is not clear why ... Mack had sent this small force to such an isolated position." He added, "His continual reorganization of the troops on the battlefield sowed confusion and demoralization." [Smith, p 203]

References

* Chandler, David. "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars." New York: Macmillan, 1979. ISBN 0-02-523670-9
* Emmert, H. D. "Wargamers Digest Magazine." "A History of Broken Squares 1798-1915," January 1979.
* Smith, Digby. "The Napoleonic Wars Data Book." London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-276-9

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.napoleonguide.com/battle_wertingen.htm Napoleon guide]
* [http://www.napoleonicminiatureswargame.com/wertingenob.html Napoleon Miniatures Wargame Society of Toronto]


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