Austrian War of Liberation of 1809

Austrian War of Liberation of 1809

 

(Russian title, Austro-French War of 1809), a war between Austria and Napoleonic France. It was brought on by the Austrian government’s aspiration to liquidate the burdensome consequences of the Peace of Pressburg of 1805 and to remove the threat to the country’s independence from Napoleon’s expanding rule in 1806–08 in almost all of Europe.

In preparation for war, Austria concluded an alliance with Great Britain (the so-called Fifth Anti-French Coalition), reorganized its army, and in the spring of 1809 gathered 280,000 men and 790 guns. Its main force of about 200,000 men was commanded by Archduke Charles and was concentrated in the Danube area, where by the start of the hostilities Napoleon was able to concentrate about 200,000 French and allied soldiers and 428 guns. Seeking to make the most of the incomplete deployment of the French army, the Austrian command decided to attack and defeat the enemy piecemeal. On April 10, the main body of the Austrian army crossed the Inn River and invaded Bavaria, where it delivered a blow to a French unit in the vicinity of Regensburg. However, acting slowly and irresolutely, the Austrian command was unable to realize its plan. In a skillful maneuver, Napoleon promptly moved large forces into the battle area. The Austrians suffered substantial losses of approximately 45,000 men in the April 19–23 engagements at Teugen, Abensberg, Landshut, Eggmühl, and Regensburg and had to retreat to Vienna. The French followed in pursuit and on May 13 occupied Vienna. The Austrian army set up its final defense along the left bank of the Danube opposite Vienna. Napoleon’s attempt in the bloody Battle of Aspern and Essling (May 21–22) to achieve complete victory over the Austrians ended in a French defeat. After careful preparation, the French resumed the offensive in the summer and, in the decisive Battle of Wagram (July 5–6), defeated the Austrians.

In the secondary theaters of operations—Italy, Dalmatia, and Tirol (where an anti-French uprising broke out led by A. Hofer)—the military operations were going poorly for Austria. The attempt of Major Schill in Prussia and of Colonel Dernburg in Hesse to stir up rebellions against the French also ended in failure. Austria acknowledged defeat and on Oct. 14, 1809, signed the Schönbrunn Peace with France. Having lost a substantial part of its territory, Austria was reduced to a state dependent on Napoleonic France.

REFERENCES

Levitskii, N. A. Polkovodcheskoe iskussivo Napoleona. Moscow, 1938.
Tarle, E. V. Napoleon. Moscow, 1957.
Sukhotin, N. N. Napoleon: Avstro-frantsuzskaia voina 1809 g. St. Petersburg, 1885.

I. I. ROSTUNOV

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