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Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Wagram

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Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Wagram

Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram, 1809

Photograph Source: Public Domain

Conflict:

The Battle of Wagram was the deciding battle of the War of the Fifth Coalition (1809) during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).

Date:

Fought east of Vienna, near the village of Wagram, the battle occurred on July 5-6, 1809.

Commanders & Armies:

French

  • Napoleon I
  • 180,000 men

Austrians

  • Archduke Charles
  • 155,000 men

Battle Summary:

Following his defeat at Aspern-Essling (May 21-22) after trying to force a crossing of the Danube, Napoleon reinforced his army and built up a large supply base on the isle of Lobau. By early July, he felt ready to make another attempt. Moving out with approximately 190,000 men, the French crossed the river and moved onto a plain known as the Marchfeld. On the opposite side of the field, Archduke Charles and his 140,000 men took positions along the Heights of Russbach.

Deploying near Aspern and Essling, the French drove back the Austrian outposts and captured the villages. By late afternoon the French were fully formed up after encountering some delays crossing the bridges. Hoping to end the battle in one day, Napoleon ordered an attack which failed to achieve any significant results. At dawn, the Austrians launched a diversionary attack against the French right flank, while a major assault was brought against the left. Pushing the French back, the Austrians were succeeding until Napoleon formed a grand battery of 112 guns, which along with reinforcements, stopped the attack.

On the right, the French had turned the tide and were advancing. This coupled with a massive attack on the Austrian center that split Charles' army in two won the day for the French. Five days after the battle, Archduke Charles sued for peace. In the fighting, the French suffered a staggering 34,000 casualties, while the Austrians endured 40,000.

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