French victory, Treaty of Schönbrunn
Hostilities in the
Peninsular War maintained
General hostilities across Europe suspended until 1812 with the French
Invasion of Russia
French Empire annexes the Illyrian Provinces
Bavaria annexes Tyrol and Salzburg
West Galicia absorbed into the Duchy of Warsaw
Russian Empire annexes Ternopil
^ (in rebellion against Bavaria)
Confederation of the Rhine
Commanders and leaders
Duke Frederick William
Duke of Portland
Frederick Augustus I
Casualties and losses
90,000 killed and wounded
War of the Fifth Coalition
Armistice of Znaim
1809 Gottscheer Rebellion
French invasion of Russia
Campaign in north-east France
Campaign in south-west France
Minor campaigns of 1815
West Indies Campaign
War of the Fifth Coalition
War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of
Austrian Empire and the
United Kingdom against Napoleon's French
Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between
France and Austria, the
main participants, unfolded over much of
Central Europe from April to
July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already
involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent
another expedition, the Walcheren Campaign, to the
order to relieve the Austrians, although this effort had little impact
on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in
across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French
after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July.
Treaty of Schönbrunn
Treaty of Schönbrunn was the harshest that
imposed on Austria in recent memory. Metternich and Archduke Charles
had the preservation of the
Habsburg Empire as their fundamental goal,
and to this end the former succeeded in making
Napoleon seek more
modest goals in return for promises of Franco-Austrian peace and
friendship. Nevertheless, while most of the hereditary lands
remained part of Habsburg territories,
France received Carinthia,
Carniola, and the Adriatic ports, while Galicia was given to the Poles
Salzburg area of the Tyrol went to the Bavarians. Austria
lost over three million subjects, about one-fifth of her total
population, as a result of these territorial changes.
Although the Fifth Coalition ended, Britain,
Spain and Portugal
remained at war with
France in the ongoing Peninsular War. There was
peace in central and eastern Europe until Napoleon's invasion of
Russia in 1812, which led to the formation of the Sixth Coalition in
Third Coalition (1804–1805)
Fourth Coalition (1806–1807)
1.3 Iberian Peninsula (1807–1809)
1.4 Austria stands alone
1.5 Austrian reforms
1.6 Austrian preparations
Congress of Erfurt
Congress of Erfurt (1808)
1.8 French preparations
2 Course of War
2.1 Austria strikes first
2.5 Other theatres
2.5.1 Italy and Dalmatia
4 See also
7 Further reading
Europe had been embroiled in warfare, pitting revolutionary France
against a series of coalitions, nearly continuously since 1792. After
five years of war, the French Republic subdued the
First Coalition in
Second Coalition was formed in 1798, only to be defeated. In
France (now under Napoleon, as First Consul) and Great
Britain, its one remaining enemy, agreed to end hostilities under the
Treaty of Amiens. For the first time in ten years, all of Europe was
at peace. However, many disagreements between the two sides remained
unresolved, and implementing the agreements they had reached at Amiens
seemed to be a growing challenge. Britain resented having to turn over
all of its colonial conquests since 1793 when
France was permitted to
retain most of its conquered territory in Europe. France, meanwhile,
was upset that British troops had not evacuated the island of
Malta. In May 1803, Britain declared war on France.
Third Coalition (1804–1805)
Main article: War of the Third Coalition
With the resumption of hostilities,
Napoleon (proclaimed Emperor in
1804) planned an invasion of England, spending the better part of the
next two years (1803–05) on this objective. In December 1804, an
Anglo-Swedish agreement led to the creation of the Third Coalition.
British Prime Minister William Pitt spent 1804 and 1805 in a flurry of
diplomatic activity geared towards forming a new coalition against
France and neutralising the threat of invasion. Mutual suspicion
between the British and the Russians eased in the face of several
French political mistakes, and by April 1805, the two had signed a
treaty of alliance. Alarmed by Napoleon's consolidation of northern
Italy into a kingdom under his rule, and keen on revenge for having
been defeated twice in recent memory by France, Austria would join the
coalition a few months later.
In August 1805, the French
Grande Armée invaded the German states in
hopes of knocking Austria out of the war before Russian forces could
intervene. On 25 September, after great secrecy and feverish marching,
200,000 French troops began to cross the Rhine on a front of 160
miles (260 km). Mack had gathered the greater part of the
Austrian army at the fortress of
Ulm in Bavaria.
Napoleon hoped to
swing his forces northward and perform a wheeling movement that would
find the French at the Austrian rear. The
Ulm Maneuver was well
executed, and on 20 October Mack and 23,000 Austrian troops
surrendered at Ulm, bringing the total number of Austrian prisoners in
the campaign to 60,000. The French captured
Vienna in November and
went on to inflict a decisive defeat on a Russo-Austrian army at
Austerlitz in early December. Austerlitz led to the expulsion of
Russian troops from
Central Europe and the humiliation of Austria,
which signed the Treaty of Pressburg on 26 December.
Fourth Coalition (1806–1807)
Main article: War of the Fourth Coalition
Austerlitz incited a major shift in the European balance of power.
Prussia felt threatened about her security in the region and,
alongside Russia, went to war against
France as part of the Fourth
Coalition in 1806. One hundred and eighty thousand French troops
invaded Prussia in the fall of 1806 through the Thuringian Forest,
unaware of where the Prussians were, and hugged the right bank of the
Saale river and the left of the Elster. The decisive actions took
place on 14 October: with an army of 90,000,
Hohenlohe at Jena, but Davout, commander of the III Corps, outdid
everyone when his 27,000 troops held off and defeated the 63,000
Prussians under Brunswick and King Frederick William III at the Battle
of Auerstadt. A vigorous French pursuit through Northern Germany
finished off the remnants of the Prussian army. The French then
invaded Poland, which had been partitioned among Prussia, Austria, and
Russia in 1795, to meet the Russian forces that had not been able to
The Russian and French armies met in February 1807 at the savage and
indecisive Battle of Eylau, which left behind between 30,000–50,000
Napoleon regrouped his forces after the battle and
continued to pursue the Russians in upcoming months. The action in
Poland finally culminated on 14 June 1807, when the French mauled
their Russian opponents at the Battle of Friedland. The resulting
Treaty of Tilsit
Treaty of Tilsit in July ended two years of bloodshed and left France
as the dominant power on the European continent. It also severely
weakened Prussia and formed a Franco-Russian axis designed to resolve
disputes among European nations.
Iberian Peninsula (1807–1809)
Main article: Peninsular War
After the War of the Oranges, Portugal adopted a double policy. On the
one hand John, Prince of Brazil, as regent of Portugal, signed the
Treaty of Badajoz with
Spain by which he assumed the duty
to close the ports to British trade. On the other hand, not wanting to
Treaty of Windsor (1386)
Treaty of Windsor (1386) with Portugal's oldest ally,
Britain, he allowed for such trade to continue and maintained secret
diplomatic relations with them. However, after the Franco-Spanish
defeat in the Battle of Trafalgar, John grew bold and officially
resumed diplomatic and trade relations with Britain.
Unhappy with this change of policy of the Portuguese government,
Napoleon sent an army to invade Portugal. On 17 October 1807,
24,000 French troops under General Junot crossed the
Spanish cooperation and headed towards Portugal to enforce Napoleon's
Continental System. This was the first step in what would become the
six-year-long Peninsular War, a struggle that sapped much of the
French Empire's strength. Throughout the winter of 1808, French agents
became increasingly involved in Spanish internal affairs, attempting
to incite discord between members of the Spanish royal family. On 16
February 1808, secret French machinations finally materialised when
Napoleon announced that he would intervene to mediate between the
rival political factions in the Spanish royal family. Marshal
Murat led 120,000 troops into
Spain and the French arrived in Madrid
on 24 March, where wild riots against the occupation erupted a few
weeks later. The resistance to French aggression soon spread
throughout the country. The shocking French defeat at the Battle of
Bailén in July gave hope to Napoleon's enemies and partly persuaded
the French emperor to intervene in person. A new French army commanded
Napoleon crossed the
Ebro in autumn and dealt blow after blow to
the opposing Spanish forces.
Madrid on 4 December
with 80,000 troops. He then unleashed his troops against Moore's
British forces. The British were swiftly driven to the coast, and,
after a last stand at the
Battle of Corunna
Battle of Corunna in January 1809, withdrew
Austria stands alone
Austria sought another confrontation with
France to avenge the recent
defeats, and the developments in
Spain only encouraged its attitudes.
Austria could not count on Russian support because the latter was at
war with Britain, Sweden (which meant Austria could not count on
Swedish support either), and the
Ottoman Empire in 1809. Some in the
Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III of Prussia initially wanted to
help Austria, but their hopes were dashed when Stein's correspondence
with Austria, planning such a move, was intercepted by the French and
resulted in Prussia being compelled to sign the crushing Convention of
September 1808. The British had been at war with the French Empire
for six years. A report from the Austrian finance minister suggested
that the treasury would run out of money by mid-1809 if the large army
that the Austrians had formed since the
Third Coalition remained
mobilised. Although Charles warned that the Austrians were not ready
for another showdown with Napoleon, a stance that landed him amidst
the so-called "peace party", he did not want to see the army
demobilised. On 8 February 1809, the advocates for war finally
succeeded when the Imperial Government secretly decided to make war
Austerlitz and the subsequent Treaty of Pressburg in 1805 indicated
that the Austrian army needed reform.
Napoleon had offered Charles the
Austrian throne after Austerlitz, an act that aroused deep suspicion
from Charles' brother, Austrian emperor Francis II. Even though
Charles was allowed to spearhead the reforms of the Austrian army,
Francis kept the Hofkriegsrat (Aulic Council), a military advisory
board, to oversee the activities of Charles as supreme commander.
In 1806, Charles issued a new guide for army and unit tactics. The
main tactical innovation was the concept of the "mass", an
anti-cavalry formation created by closing up the spacing between
ranks. However, Austrian commanders disliked the innovation and
rarely used it unless directly supervised by Charles. Following
the failures at
Ulm and Austerlitz, the Austrians went back to using
the six-companies-per-battalion model, abandoning the
four-company-per-battalion that had been introduced by Mack on the eve
of war in 1805. Problems persisted despite the reforms. The
Austrians lacked sufficient skirmishers to successfully contend with
their French counterparts, the cavalry was often sprinkled into
individual units throughout the army, preventing the shock and hitting
power evident in the French system, and even though Charles imitated
the French corps command structure, leaders in the Austrian military
establishment were often wary of taking the initiative, relying
heavily on written orders and drawn-out planning before they came to a
Another reform was that Austria, having lost many officers, veteran
and elite troops, and regulars, and unable to call on allies, embraced
Levée en masse
Levée en masse used earlier by the French. By this time, the
French were moving from the
Levée en masse
Levée en masse in favour of forming a
regular army based on a core of battle-hardened and elite veterans. In
a strange reversal of the earlier Napoleonic Wars, where Frenchmen
with little experience and often pressed into service fought against
the professional Austrian army, a massive amount of Austrian
conscripts, with no experience and only basic training and equipment
would be sent into the field against a highly trained,
campaign-hardened, and well-equipped French Grande Armée.
Charles and the Aulic Council were divided about the strategy with
which to attack the French. Charles wanted a major thrust from Bohemia
designed to isolate the French forces in northern Germany and lead to
a rapid decision. The greater part of the Austrian army was
already concentrated there, so it seemed like a natural operation.
The Aulic Council disagreed on account of the
Danube River splitting
the forces of Charles and his brother John. They instead suggested
that the main attack should be launched south of the Danube so as to
maintain safer communications with Vienna. In the end, they had
their way, but not before precious time had been lost. The Austrian
plan called for the Bohemian corps, the I under Bellegarde, consisting
of 38,000 troops, and the II of 20,000 troops under Kollowrat, to
Regensburg (Ratisbon) from the Bohemian mountains by way of
Cham, the Austrian center and reserve, comprising 66,000 men of
Hohenzollern's III, Rosenberg's IV, and Lichtenstein's I Reserve
Corps, to advance on the same objective through Scharding, and the
left wing, made up of the V of Archduke Louis, Hiller's VI, and
Kienmayer's II Reserve Corps, a total of 61,000 men, to move forward
Landshut and guard the flank.
Congress of Erfurt
Congress of Erfurt (1808)
Napoleon had made Tsar Alexander of Russia an admirer, but
by the time of the Erfurt Congress from September to October 1808
anti-French sentiment at the Russian court was beginning to threaten
the newly forged alliance.
Napoleon and his foreign minister
Jean-Baptiste Nompère de Champagny
Jean-Baptiste Nompère de Champagny sought to reaffirm the alliance
once more in order to allow
Napoleon to settle affairs in Spain, as
well as prepare for the looming war with Austria. Working at
Napoleon was his former foreign minister Charles
Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord who had by this time come to the
Napoleon and his war policies were leading
destruction, and who secretly advised Alexander to resist Napoleon's
Out of the meetings came an agreement, the Erfurt Convention (in 14
articles,) calling upon Britain to cease its war against France,
recognizing the Russian conquest of Finland from Sweden, and stating
that in case of war with Austria, Russia should aid
France "to the
best of its ability." The two emperors departed for their
homelands on 14 October. Six months later, the expected war with
Austria began, and Alexander barely lived up to his agreement, aiding
France as little as possible (though in the resulting Treaty of
Schönbrunn Russia did receive a portion of Austrian Polish territory,
namely the district of Tarnopol, for at least maintaining neutrality).
By 1810, due mainly to the economic pressures of enforcing the
Continental System, both emperors were considering war with one
another. Erfurt was the last meeting between the two leaders.
Napoleon was not entirely certain about Austrian planning and
intentions. He had just returned to Paris at the time (from his
Spain in winter 1808–09) and was instructing the main
French field commander in southern Germany, Berthier, on planned
deployments and concentrations for this likely new second front. His
rough ideas about the possible upcoming campaign included the decision
to make the Danube valley the main theatre of operations, as he had
done in 1805, and to tie down any Austrian forces that might invade
northern Italy by positioning some of his own forces that would be
commanded by Eugène and Marmont. Faulty intelligence gave
Napoleon the impression that the main Austrian attack would come north
of the Danube. On 30 March, he wrote a letter to Berthier
explaining his intention to mass around 140,000 troops in the vicinity
Regensburg (Ratisbon), far to the north of where the Austrians were
planning to make their attack.
Napoleon also expected the Austrian
offensive to commence no earlier than 15 April (it would in fact begin
on 9 April) and his two contingency orders relayed to Berthier were
based heavily on this supposition. These misconceptions about Austrian
thinking left the French army poorly deployed when hostilities
Course of War
European strategic situation in February 1809.
The war pitted a reformed Austrian army against a collection of French
veterans and conscripts. With major engagements of the war lasting
from April to July 1809,
Napoleon achieved the quick victory that
characterised his previous campaigns. However, the War of the Fifth
Coalition would also mark the last time in which
Napoleon and the
French Empire would emerge as decisive victors.
Austria strikes first
The general situation from 17 to 19 April involved the Austrians
moving towards the strategic city of
Regensburg in hopes of attacking
the isolated French III Corps.
In the early morning of 10 April, leading elements of the Austrian
army crossed the
Inn River and invaded Bavaria. Bad roads and freezing
rain slowed the Austrian advance in the first week, but the opposing
Bavarian forces gradually retreated. The Austrian attack occurred
about a week before Napoleon's anticipations, and in his absence
Berthier's role became all the more critical. Berthier (whose fortè
was staff work) proved to be an insufficient field commander, a
characteristic made worse by the fact that several messages from Paris
were being delayed and misinterpreted when they finally arrived at
Napoleon had written to Berthier that an
Austrian attack before 15 April should be met by a general French
Donauwörth and Augsburg, Berthier focused on a
sentence that called for Davout to station his III Corps around
Regensburg and ordered the Iron Marshal to move back to the city
despite massive Austrian pressure.
Grande Armée d'Allemagne was now in a perilous position of two
wings separated by 75 miles (121 km) and joined together by a
thin cordon of Bavarian troops. Berthier, the French marshals, and the
rank-and-file were all evidently frustrated at the seemingly pointless
marches and counter marches. On the 16th, the Austrian advance
guard had beaten back the Bavarians near
Landshut and had secured a
good crossing place over the
Isar by evening.
Napoleon finally arrived
Donauwörth on the 17th after a furious trip from Paris. Charles
congratulated himself on a successful opening to the campaign and
planned to destroy Davout's and Lefebvre's isolated corps in a
double-pincer manoeuvre. When
Napoleon realised that significant
Austrian forces were already over the
Isar and were marching towards
the Danube, he insisted that the entire French army deploy behind the
Ilm River in a bataillon carré within 48 hours, all in hopes of
undoing Berthier's mistakes and achieving a successful
concentration. His orders were unrealistic because he
underestimated the number of Austrian troops that were heading for
Napoleon believed Charles only had a single corps over the
Isar, but in fact, the Austrians had five corps lumbering towards
Regensburg, a grand total of 80,000 men.
Napoleon needed to do
something quickly to save his left flank from collapsing.
Landshut Maneuver and the expulsion of Austrian forces from
Davout anticipated the problems and withdrew his corps from
Regensburg, leaving a garrison of only 2,000 for defence. The
northbound Austrian columns in the Kelheim–Abbach zone ran into the
four French columns heading west towards Neustadt in the early hours
of the 19th. The Austrian attacks were slow, uncoordinated, and easily
repulsed by the experienced French III Corps.
Napoleon knew there was
fighting in Davout's sector and had already devised a new strategy
that he hoped would beat the Austrians: while the Austrians attacked
to the north, Masséna's corps, later augmented by Oudinot's forces,
would strike southeast towards
Landshut in hopes of
rolling up the entire Austrian line and relieving the pressure on
Napoleon was reasonably confident that the joint corps of
Davout and Lefebvre could pin the Austrians while his other forces
swept the Austrian rear.
The attack began well as the central Austrian V Corps guarding
Abensberg gave way to the French advance. Napoleon, however, was
working under false assumptions that made his goals difficult to
achieve. Massena's advance towards
Landshut required too much
time, permitting Hiller to escape south over the Isar. The Danube
bridge that provided easy access to
Regensburg and the east bank had
not been demolished, allowing the Austrians to transfer themselves
across the river and rendering futile French hopes for the complete
destruction of the enemy. On the 20th, the Austrians had suffered
10,000 casualties, lost 30 guns, 600 caissons, and 7,000 other
vehicles, but were still a potent fighting force. Later in the
Napoleon realised that the day's fighting had only involved
two Austrian corps. Charles still had a good chance of escaping east
Straubing if he wished.
On the 21st,
Napoleon received a dispatch from Davout that spoke of
major engagements near Teugen-Hausen. Davout held his ground, and
Napoleon sent reinforcements, about 36,000 French troops had
to face off against 75,000 Austrians. When
learned that Charles was not withdrawing to the east, he realigned the
Grande Armée's axis in an operation that became known as the Landshut
Maneuver. All available French forces, except 20,000 troops under
Bessieres that were chasing Hiller, now hurled themselves against
Eckmühl in another bid to trap the Austrians and relieve their
beleaguered comrades. For 22 April, Charles left 40,000 troops
under Rosenburg and Hohenzollern to attack Davout and Lefebvre while
detaching two corps under Kollowrat and Lichtenstein to march for
Abbach and gain undisputed control of the river bank. At
1:30 pm, however, the sound of gunfire from the south could be
Napoleon had arrived. Davout immediately ordered an attack
along the entire line despite numerical inferiority; the 10th Light
Infantry Regiment successfully stormed the village of Leuchling and
went on to capture the woods of Unter-Leuchling with horrific
casualties. Napoleon's reinforcements were soon crippling the
Austrian left. The
Battle of Eckmühl
Battle of Eckmühl ended in a convincing French
victory, and Charles decided to withdraw over the Danube towards
Napoleon then launched Massena to capture
Straubing to the
east while the rest of the army pursued the escaping Austrians. The
French managed to capture
Regensburg after a heroic charge led by
Marshal Lannes, but the vast majority of the Austrian army fled
successfully to Bohemia.
Napoleon then turned his attention south
towards Vienna, fighting a series of actions against Hiller's forces,
most famously, at the
Battle of Ebersberg
Battle of Ebersberg on 3 May. Ten days later,
the Austrian capital fell for the second time in four years.
Further information: Battle of Aspern-Essling
The strategic situation and the
Battle of Aspern-Essling
Battle of Aspern-Essling on 22 May
On 16 May and 17, the main Austrian army under Charles arrived in the
Marchfeld, a plain northeast of
Vienna just across the Danube that
often served as a training ground for Austrian military forces.
Charles kept the bulk of his forces several miles away from the river
bank in hopes of concentrating them at the point where Napoleon
decided to cross. On the 20th, Charles learned from his observers on
the Bissam hill that the French were building a bridge at
Kaiser-Ebersdorf, just southwest of the
Lobau island, that led to
the Marchfeld. On the 21st, Charles concluded that the French were
crossing at Kaiser-Ebersdorf in strength and ordered a general advance
for 98,000 troops and the accompanying 292 guns, which were organised
into five columns. The French bridgehead rested on two villages:
Aspern to the west and Essling to the east.
Napoleon had not expected
to encounter opposition, and the bridges linking the French troops at
Lobau were not protected with palisades, making them
highly vulnerable to Austrian barges that had been lighted on
Battle of Aspern-Essling
Battle of Aspern-Essling started at 2:30 pm on 21 May. The
initial and poorly coordinated Austrian attacks against Aspern and the
Gemeinde Au woods to the south failed completely, but Charles
persisted. Eventually, the Austrians managed to capture the whole
village but lost the eastern half. The Austrians did not attack
Essling until 6 pm because the fourth and fifth columns had
longer marching routes. The French successfully repulsed the
attacks against Essling throughout the 21st. Fighting commenced by
3 am on the 22nd, and four hours later the French had captured
Napoleon now had 71,000 men and 152 guns on the other
side of the river, but the French were still dangerously
Napoleon then launched a massive assault against the
Austrian center designed to give enough time for the III Corps to
cross and clinch the victory. Lannes advanced with three infantry
divisions and travelled for a mile before the Austrians, inspired by
the personal heroics of Charles with his rally of the Zach Infantry
Regiment (No. 15), unleashed a hail of fire on the French that caused
the latter to fall back. At 9 am, the French bridge broke
again. Charles launched another massive assault an hour later and
captured Aspern for good, but still could not lay claim to Essling. A
few hours later, however, the Austrians returned and took all of
Essling except the staunchly defended granary.
Napoleon replied by
sending a part of the Imperial Guard under Jean Rapp, who audaciously
disobeyed Napoleon's orders by attacking Essling and expelling all
Austrian forces. Charles then kept up a relentless artillery
bombardment that counted Marshal Lannes as one of its many victims.
Fighting diminished shortly afterwards, and the French pulled back all
of their forces to Lobau. Charles had inflicted the first major defeat
in Napoleon's military career.
Further information: Battle of Wagram
The strategic situation and the
Battle of Wagram
Battle of Wagram in early July 1809.
After the defeat at Aspern-Essling,
Napoleon took more than six weeks
in planning and preparing for contingencies before he made another
attempt at crossing the Danube. The French brought in more troops,
more guns, and instituted better defensive measures to ensure the
success of the next crossing. From 30 June to the early days of July,
the French recrossed the Danube in strength, no less than 188,000
troops marching across the Marchfeld towards the Austrians.
Immediate resistance to the French advance was restricted to the
outpost divisions of Nordmann and Johann von Klenau; the main Habsburg
army was stationed five miles (8 km) away, centred on the village
of Wagram. After a successful crossing,
Napoleon ordered an attack
along the entire line so as to prevent the Austrians from escaping
during the night. Furious assaults by the "Terrible 57th" Infantry
Regiment and the elite 10th Light Infantry Regiment against the
village of Baumersdorf led to an almost immediate French victory, but
ultimately, the Austrians did not budge and kept the French from
pressing further. Incessant attacks by the heroic Austrian Vincent
Chevaulegers' cavalry forced the 10th and the 57th to retreat, leaving
the French with no gains. Further attacks to the left of the line by
Eugène and MacDonald also produced nothing. Bernadotte's troops
attacked later with equally disappointing results, and on the right
Davout decided to disengage in the darkness of the night. The first
day ended with the French on the Marchfeld but with little results to
show for their efforts.
For 6 July, Charles planned a double-envelopment that would require a
quick march from the forces of his brother John, then a few kilometres
to the east of the battlefield. Napoleon's plan envisaged an
envelopment of the Austrian left with Davout's III Corps while the
rest of the army pinned the Austrian forces. Klenau's VI Corps,
supported by Kollowrat's III, opened the fighting in the second day at
4 am with a crushing assault against the French left, forcing the
latter to abandon both Aspern and Essling. Meanwhile, a shocking
development had occurred overnight. Bernadotte had unilaterally
ordered his troops out of the key and central village of Aderklaa,
citing heavy artillery shelling, an act that seriously compromised the
entire French position.
Napoleon was livid and sent two divisions
of Massena's corps supported by some cavalry to regain the critical
village. After difficult fighting in the first phase, Massena sent in
Molitor's reserve division, which slowly but surely grabbed all of
Aderklaa back for the French, only to lose it again following fierce
Austrian bombardments and counterattacks. To buy time for Davout's
Napoleon sent 4,000 cuirassiers under Nansouty
against the Austrian lines, but their efforts led to nothing. To
secure his center and his left,
Napoleon formed a massive artillery
battery of 112 guns that began pounding at the Austrians and tearing
gaping holes through their lines. As Davout's men were progressing
against the Austrian left,
Napoleon formed the three small divisions
of MacDonald into a hollow, oblong shape that marched against the
Austrian center. The lumbering phalanx was devastated by Austrian
artillery but managed to break through the center, although the
victory could not be exploited because there was no cavalry in the
immediate area. Nevertheless, when Charles sized up the situation, he
realised it was only a matter of time before the Austrian position
broke completely and ordered a retreat toward
Bohemia a few hours
after noon. His brother John arrived on the battlefield at 4 pm,
too late to have any impact, and accordingly ordered a retreat to
Bohemia as well.
The French did not pursue the Austrians immediately because they were
exhausted from two straight days of vicious fighting. After
recuperating, they chased the Austrians and caught up with them at
Znaim in mid-July. Here Charles signed an armistice with
agreed to end the fighting. Military conflict between
Austria was effectively ended, although a few more months of
diplomatic wrangling were required to make the result official.
Italy and Dalmatia
Main article: Dalmatian Campaign (1809)
In Italy, Archduke John went up against Napoleon's stepson Eugène.
The Austrians beat back several bungled French assaults at the Battle
of Sacile in April, causing Eugène to fall back on
Verona and the
Adige River, but Eugène regrouped and launched a more mature
offensive that expelled the Austrians from
Northern Italy again. By
the time of Wagram, Eugène's forces had joined Napoleon's main
army. In Dalmatia, Marmont, under the nominal command of Eugène,
was fighting against General Stoichewich. Marmont launched a mountain
offensive on 30 April, but this was repulsed by the Grenzer
troops. Like Eugène, however, Marmont did not let an initial
setback dictate the tempo of the conflict. He went back on the
offensive and joined
Napoleon at Wagram.
Main article: Polish–Austrian War
In the Duchy of Warsaw, Poniatowski defeated the Austrians at Raszyn
on 19 April, prevented Austrian forces from crossing the Vistula
river, and forced the Austrians to retreat from occupied Warsaw.
Afterward, the Poles went on to invade Galicia, with some success, but
the offensive quickly stalled with heavy casualties. The Austrians
also won a few battles but were hampered by the presence of Russian
troops whose intentions were unclear and that did not allow them to
advance. Eventually, the defeat of the main Austrian army at
Wagram decided of the fate of the war.
After the Austrian invasion of the Duchy of Warsaw, Russia, bound by
the treaty of alliance with France, reluctantly entered the war
against Austria. The Russian army under the command of General Sergei
Golitsyn crossed into Galicia on 3 June 1809. Golitsyin advanced as
slowly as possible, with instructions to avoid any major confrontation
with the Austrians. There were only minor skirmishes between the
Russian and Austrian troops, with minimal losses. The Austrian and
Russian commanders were in frequent correspondence and, in fact,
shared some operational intelligence. A courteous letter sent by a
Russian divisional commander, General Andrey Gorchakov, to Archduke
Ferdinand was intercepted by the Poles, who sent an original to
Napoleon and a copy to Tsar Alexander. As a result, Alexander
had to remove Gorchakov from command. Furthermore, there were constant
disagreements between Golitsyn and Poniatowski, with whom the Russians
were supposed to cooperate in Galicia. As a result of the Treaty of
Schönbrunn, Russia received the Galician district of Tarnopol.
Encouraged by the Austrians to throw off the yoke of Napoleon's
Bavarian allies, the people of the alpine region of Tyrol took up arms
in 1809 in an act of resistance that ultimately failed.
Andreas Hofer led a rebellion against Bavarian rule and
French domination that resulted in early isolated victories, but the
uprising was suppressed after the French won at Wagram. Hofer was
executed in 1810 by a firing squad.
In Saxony, a joint force of Austrians and Brunswickers under the
command of General
Kienmayer was far more successful, defeating a
corps under the command of General Junot at the Battle of Gefrees.
After taking the capital, Dresden, and pushing back an army under the
command of Napoleon's brother, Jérôme Bonaparte, the Austrians were
effectively in control of all of Saxony. But by this time, the main
Austrian force had already been defeated at Wagram and the armistice
of Znaim had been agreed. The Duke of Brunswick however, refused
to be bound by the armistice and led his corps on a fighting march
right across Germany to the mouth of the River Weser, from where they
sailed to England and entered British service.
In the Kingdom of Holland, the British launched the Walcheren Campaign
to relieve the pressure on the Austrians. The British force of over
39,000, a larger army than that serving in the Iberian Peninsula,
landed at Walcheren on 30 July. However, by this time the Austrians
had already lost the war. The
Walcheren Campaign was characterised by
little fighting but many casualties nevertheless, thanks to the
popularly dubbed "Walcheren Fever". Over 4,000 British troops were
lost, and the rest withdrew in December 1809.
All the participants of the War of the Fifth Coalition. Blue: The
Coalition and their colonies and allies. Green: The First French
Empire, its protectorates, colonies and allies.
France had not completely defeated Austria, the Treaty of
Schönbrunn, signed on 14 October 1809, nevertheless imposed a heavy
political toll on the Austrians. As a result of the treaty, France
received Carinthia, Carniola, and the Adriatic ports, while Galicia
was given to the Poles, the
Salzburg area of the Tyrol went to the
Bavarians, and Russia was ceded the district of Tarnopol. Austria lost
over three million subjects, about 20% of her total population.
Emperor Francis also agreed to pay an indemnity equivalent to almost
85 million francs, gave recognition to Napoleon's brother Joseph as
the King of Spain, and reaffirmed the exclusion of British trade from
his remaining dominions. The Austrian defeat paved the way for the
Napoleon to the daughter of Emperor Francis, Marie Louise.
Napoleon assumed that his marriage to Marie Louise would
eliminate Austria as a future threat, but the Habsburgs were not as
driven by familial ties as
The impact of the conflict was not all positive from the French
perspective. The revolts in Tyrol and the
Kingdom of Westphalia
Kingdom of Westphalia during
the conflict were an indication that there was much discontent over
French rule among the German population. Just a few days before the
conclusion of the Treaty of Schönbrunn, an 18-year-old German named
Friedrich Staps approached
Napoleon during an army review and
attempted to stab the emperor, but he was intercepted in the nick of
time by General Rapp. The emerging forces of German nationalism
were too strongly rooted by this time, and the War of the Fifth
Coalition played an important role in nurturing their development.
By 1813, when the Sixth Coalition was fighting the French for control
of Central Europe, the German population was fiercely opposed to
French rule and largely supported the Allies.
The war also undermined French military superiority and the Napoleonic
Battle of Aspern-Essling
Battle of Aspern-Essling was the first major defeat in
Napoleon's career and was warmly greeted by much of Europe. The
Austrians had also shown that strategic insight and tactical ability
were no longer a French monopoly. The French themselves were
actually suffering from tactical shortcomings; the decline in tactical
skill of the French infantry led to increasingly heavy columns of foot
soldiers eschewing all manoeuvre and relying on sheer weight of
numbers to break through, a development best emphasised by MacDonald's
attack at Wagram. The
Grande Armée lost its qualitative edge
partly because raw conscripts replaced many of the veterans of
Austerlitz and Jena, eroding tactical flexibility. Additionally,
Napoleon's armies were more and more composed of non-French
contingents, undermining morale. Although
Napoleon manoeuvred with
customary brilliance, as evidenced by overturning the awful initial
French position, the growing size of his armies stretched even his
impressive mental faculties. The scale of warfare grew too large
Napoleon to fully cope with, a lesson that would be brutally
repeated during the invasion of Russia in 1812.
War of the Sixth Coalition
^ Chandler p. 673. Austria sent about 100,000 troops to attack Italy,
40,000 to protect Galicia, and held 200,000 men and 500 guns,
organized into six line and two reserve corps, around the Danube
valley for the main operations.
^ a b The British Expeditionary Force to Walcheren: 1809 The Napoleon
Series, Retrieved 5 September 2006.
^ David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon. p. 670.
^ a b Bodart 1916, pp. 44.
^ Bodart 1916, pp. 129.
^ a b Todd Fisher & Gregory Fremont-Barnes, The Napoleonic Wars:
The Rise and Fall of an Empire. p. 144.
^ a b David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon. p. 732.
^ Chandler p. 304.
^ Chandler p. 328. The Baltic was dominated by Russia, a situation
with which Britain was uncomfortable as the region provided valuable
commodities like timber, tar, and hemp, crucial supplies to Britain's
Empire. Additionally, Britain supported the
Ottoman Empire against
Russian incursions towards the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, French
territorial rearrangements in Germany occurred without Russian
consultation and Napoleon's annexations in the Po valley increasingly
strained relations between the two.
^ Chandler p. 331.
^ Richard Brooks (editor), Atlas of World Military History. p. 108.
^ a b Andrew Uffindell, Great Generals of the Napoleonic Wars. p. 15.
^ David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon. p. 469.
^ Chandler pp. 479–502.
^ Todd Fisher & Gregory Fremont-Barnes, The Napoleonic Wars: The
Rise and Fall of an Empire. p. 197.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes pp. 198–99.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 199.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 205.
Napoleon – Felix Markham, p. 179
^ a b c d Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 108.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes pp. 108–9.
^ a b c d David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon. p. 676.
^ Chandler pp. 676–77.
^ "The Erfurt Convention 1808". Napoleon-series.org. Retrieved
^ Chandler p. 671.
^ Chandler p. 672.
^ Chandler p. 673.
^ a b Chandler pp. 678–79.
^ Chandler p. 679. At midnight on 16 April, Berthier wrote the
following to Napoleon: "In this position of affairs, I greatly desire
the arrival of your Majesty, in order to avoid the orders and
countermands which circumstances as well as the directives and
instructions of your Majesty necessary entail."
^ a b Chandler p. 681.
^ Chandler p. 682.
^ Chandler p. 683.
^ Chandler p. 686.
^ Chandler p. 687.
^ Chandler p. 689.
^ a b Chandler p. 690.
^ Chandler p. 691.
^ Andrew Uffindell, Great Generals of the Napoleonic Wars. p. 174.
^ Uffindell, p. 175.
^ a b Uffindell, p. 177.
^ Uffindell, p. 178.
^ Uffindell, pp. 178–79.
^ Uffindell, p. 179.
^ a b David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon. p. 708.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 134.
^ a b Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 139.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 141.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 142.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 122.
^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes p. 123.
^ 1809: thunder on the Danube, Jack Gill
^ Mikaberidze pp. 4–22.
^ F. Loraine Petre,
Napoleon and the Archduke Charles. p. 318.
^ Haythornthwaite p.147
^ a b Chandler p. 736.
^ a b Richard Brooks (editor), Atlas of World Military History. p.
^ a b c d Brooks (editor) p. 114.
Bodart, G. (1916). Losses of Life in Modern Wars, Austria-Hungary;
France. ISBN 978-1371465520.
Brooks, Richard, ed. (2000). Atlas of World Military History. London:
HarperCollins. ISBN 0-7607-2025-8.
Chandler, David G. (1995). The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York: Simon
& Schuster. ISBN 0-02-523660-1.
Fisher, Todd; Fremont-Barnes, Gregory (2004). The Napoleonic Wars: The
Rise and Fall of an Empire. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.
Haythornthwaite, Philip J (1990). The Napoleonic Source Book. London:
Guild Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85409-287-8.
Mikaberidze, Alexander (2011). "Non-Belligerent Belligerent Russia and
the Franco-Austrian War of 1809". Napoleonica. La Revue. 1 (10):
4–22. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
Petre, F. Loraine (2003).
Napoleon and the Archduke Charles.
Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-7385-2.
Uffindell, Andrew (2003). Great Generals of the Napoleonic Wars.
Staplehurst: Spellmount. ISBN 1-86227-177-1.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to War of the Fifth Coalition.
Maude, Frederic Natusch (1911). "Napoleonic Campaigns". In
Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge
University Press. pp. 212–236.
"Napoleonic Wars: Fifth Coalition Against
Aspern-Essling, Wagram, Eckmuhl, Landshut, Abensberg". Napoleon
Bonaparte. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 20
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