Battle of Wagram (July 6, 1809)

Battle of Wagram (July 6, 1809)

The battle of Wagram, in Austria, is the last great victory of Napoleon I, won over the Austrian armies on July 6, 1809 north-east of Vienna. This battle marked the end of the Austrian campaign and enabled Napoleon to reduce the fifth European coalition against France since 1792. The Grande Armée, which had retaken Vienna on May 12, had been severely tested at Essling, to a few dozen of kilometers, May 21 and 22: it must have retreated, approaching Vienna at Lobau Island.

The battle of Wagram

Withdrawn from the conflict since the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805, Austria resumed hostilities against Napoleon I in April 1809 and reorganized its army. The Emperor of the French retook Vienna on May 13, 1809, but was held in check at the Battle of Essling on the 22nd when he attempted to cross the Danube. Hostilities resumed on May 4: the French had 188,000 men and 488 pieces of artillery; Marshals Oudinot, Davout, Masséna and Bernadotte, among others, constituted the staff.

Facing them, commanded by Archduke Charles, the Austrians lined up 132,000 men and 446 pieces of artillery. On the battlefield, the stake was the control of the Danube and its crossing. On several occasions, the French troops were almost overwhelmed, and the military intelligence of Napoleon, who made massive use of his artillery, found there the opportunity to manifest to its full extent, for example, when he resumed a position where Bernadotte and his Saxons had been foiled by the Austrians.

Napoleon's last great victory

However, at the end of this battle, the relative weakening of the French armies was obvious: too cosmopolitan to be homogeneous, suffering from the delays of certain generals and the uncertainties of the troops of barely trained conscripts, the Grande Armée had not had to this incomplete victory only to the genius of Napoleon. The Austrian army remained threatening enough for the Treaty of Vienna, which ended the war on October 14, 1809, to be relatively moderate: 75 million francs in compensation and the cession of Illyria to France and a part of Galicia to Russia. Napoleon's remarriage with Marie-Louise de Habsbourg was another consequence of this ambiguous victory.

Bibliography

- Wagram, July 5-6, 1809: a dearly acquired victory for Frédéric Naulet. Napoleon I Editions, 2008.

- Wagram (5 and 6 July 1809): The cannon thunders on the banks of the Danube by Frédéric Naulet. Economica 2009.

- Dictionary of the battles of Napoleon: 1796-1815 by Alain Pigeard. Tallandier, 2004.


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