Battle of Aspern-Essling

Sacile - Teugn -Hausen - Vistula campaign - Raszyn - Abensberg - Landshut - Eggmühl - Regensburg - Neumarkt - Ebelsberg - Piave - Aspern - Saint Michael - Stralsund - Bergisel - Raab / Győr - Graz - Wagram - Korneuburg - Stockerau - Gefrees - Hollabrunn - Schöngrabern - Znojmo - Walcheren

The Battle of Aspern found in the Fifth Coalition War of 21-22. May 1809 between French and Austrian troops in the villages of Aspern and Essling east of Vienna. It is considered a first defeat of Napoleon on the battlefield.

Geographical location

Aspern is located on the left bank, then close to a narrow arm of the river. The outskirts of the neighboring Essling March in the western field was about 500 meters from the river. The distance between the two places was measured with a half hour walk. To the east and north Eßlings the March field spreads out, bounded on the west by Bisamberg.

Military starting position

When Bisamberg since May 16, 1809 was the army of the Archduke Charles, who had retired after the unfortunate battle of Regensburg on the Danube by way of Bohemia line. He was determined to defend the strategically important point where the roads into Bohemia, Moravia and Hungary unite against Napoleon's attack. The armed forces of Austria awaited the attack in a position north of the Danube.

The French army was engaged on May 13 in Vienna and was, about 90,000 strong, on the right bank of the Danube. Napoleon was determined to take the river crossing and thus the direct confrontation with the forces of Archduke Charles. Due to the structure of the French army, it was not intended to carry a large entourage, which were seriously affected in view of the need for the construction of bridges over the still heavy waters of the Danube and its tributaries. We therefore had to deal with as a makeshift pontoon bridges consisting of arbitrary commandeered boats and used wood, content from the surrounding buildings. In view of this situation, the decision of Napoleon appeared extremely risky for the immediate advance on the former island of Lobau to the north. The Lobau served as a staging area, which Archduke Charles, despite the dense vegetation on the Danube island could see the aggressive intentions of the French early.

The Austrian Major Johann Freiherr von O'Brien succeeded on the day of the occupation of Vienna by the French, with a few soldiers at Jedlesee to eliminate a first improvised bridge head of the French, and allowed the orderly preparation of the Austrian army north of Vienna. The resistance of the Austrian defenders in Malborgeth and on Predil pass prevented a rapid advance of the troops advancing from the south Viceroy Eugene Beauharnais, which should have a decisive impact on the course of battle.

Course of the battle

As the transition point Napoleon chose that spot where - about a mile below Vienna - the island of Lobau is enclosed by two arms of the Danube. At midday on 20 May, the French began the crossing of the northern branch of the river and occupied the villages of Aspern and Essling; they had made ​​it to the afternoon of 21 about 30,000 men on the left bank of the Danube and in a way that Masséna at Aspern, Lannes at Essling and between both the cavalry was under Napoleon himself, as Archduke Charles with his whole army ( 75,000 men ) the French attack to throw them back across the Danube to destroy the bridges and to occupy the banks of the river with artillery.

Only after hours of fighting in the streets and houses, and after the French rider attack had failed at the Austrian infantry, succeeded Archduke Charles, expel the French from Aspern, which was mainly due to the tenacity of its leader of the right wing, Johann von Hiller who was later promoted to ensure Feldzeugmeister. Nine times changed during the Battle of Aspern its owner, but all attempts of the French to keep the village fell through. In contrast, the attacks of the Austrians failed to Essling, in whose possession were the French.

During the night, Napoleon, after the destroyed by the Austrians main bridge was restored, translating the bulk of his army on the left bank of the Danube and began the morning of May 22, again the fight. He had at least 60,000 men, Archduke Karl, after deducting its losses, at least not more. It went back to the ownership of the two villages; The Austrians tried Eßling to conquer the French Aspern. Napoleon led, while his right wing Essling defended, and his left penetrated in Aspern, its main thrust in the center. The attacking columns of Marshal Lannes ago invaded and threatened to break through the Austrian center. The Archduke turned out, the flag in his hand, even to the top of wavering battalions. He let the grenadiers from their reserve position to advance, and now the French were pushed back, up into the meadows. To conquer Essling, but did not succeed now. Here, the French held with the utmost tenacity. But they were again driven out by a unit of Austrian cavalry, led by the highly decorated and known as bold and callous Major Karl Wilhelm Scheibler from Aspern and its center subjected to a violent artillery fire, which also Marshal Lannes was mortally wounded. Napoleon could no longer hold on the left bank of the Danube and ordered the nightly retreat to the island of Lobau, Marshal André Masséna so directed that the enemy only a few trophies were left behind.


The losses of the Austrians amounted to 24,000, which the French against 30,000 men. In its bulletin Napoleon presented the flow of battle is such that it completely repulsed the enemy, the battle had stopped voluntarily middle of the victory and had ordered the withdrawal until 23. But the truth came through yet, and cried in alarm Paris, in Tyrol and Northern Germany new hopes and faith in Prussia join the alliance against Napoleon forth. Exploit the victory, quickly move to the right bank and destroy the exhausted French before they received reinforcements, did not dare Archduke Charles of exhaustion of the troops and the lack of ammunition. He remained in the field are March and contented himself with the glory of the battle of Aspern to have the aura of invincibility shattered Napoleon's huge.

Napoleon could at least temporarily avert the greatest harm by his victory in the later Battle of Wagram.