Battle of the Basque Roads
The Battle of the Basque Roads, Battle of Aix Roads was a naval battle during the Napoleonic Wars off the Island of Aix. On the night of 11 April 1809 Captain Lord Cochrane led a British fireship attack against a powerful French force anchored in the Basque Roads, in the attack all but two of the French ships were driven ashore. The subsequent engagement lasted three days but failed to destroy the entire French fleet, Cochrane accused the British commanding officer, Admiral James Gambier, of being reluctant to press the attack. Gambier demanded a court-martial, and was exonerated, Cochranes career in the Royal Navy ended. The French Navy continued to operate against the British from the Basque Roads until the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Basque Roads are a sheltered bay on the Biscay shore of France, bounded by the Île dOléron to the west and the Île de Ré to the north. The port of La Rochelle stands at the northeast corner of the roads, during the Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal the Duke of Wellington depended on maritime supply.
The French fleet in the Basque Roads operated against the British supply ships, to protect the convoys, the Royal Navy maintained a blockade of the Basque Roads, but this was expensive and never wholly effective. In late October 1808, Napoléon sent Decrès orders for the squadrons at Lorient and Rochefort to deliver reinforcements, the continual presence of large British squadrons, impeded their departure. On 7 February 1809, Napoleon ordered Admiral Willaumez to raise the blockades with the Brest fleet to allow these small squadrons to make their way to Martinique, two weeks later, Willaumez finally set out with eight ships-of-the-line and two frigates towards Lorient. Fearful of being caught by the British, Willaumez continued on his way south to Rochefort, with the subsequent arrival of a large British fleet, Willaumez was trapped in Rochefort. A British squadron arrived on the scene and held the French there until Gambier arrived with the rest of the Channel fleet to impose a blockade, the British Admiralty became concerned about the concentration of such a large segment of the French fleet in one place.
If the ships escaped they could ferry supplies to Napoleon’s Peninsular forces, with these reasons in mind, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Mulgrave, proposed an attack on the French fleet at anchor using fire ships. Cochranes superior officer, Lord Gambier, commanding the Channel Fleet, was opposed to the plan, calling it a horrible and anti-Christian mode of warfare. Cochrane was given twenty-one fireships to command, but he was focusing on his own invention, explosion ships. Gambiers opposition and Mulgraves persuasiveness meant that full responsibility for executing the plan fell to Lord Cochrane, on the evening of April 11,1809 Cochrane led the way into Basque Roads with two explosion ships, followed by 25 other ships. Because of delays resulting from Gambier’s indecision, the French were alert to the British plan, on the night of April 11,1809 Cochrane floated in on the flood-tide aboard the foremost explosion vessel with the other explosion ships following. They managed to escape with their dog just in time, the explosion ships succeeded in breaking the mile-long boom of heavy spars and chains the French had placed to block the British ships from engaging the French.
Unable to see clearly in the smoke, the panicked French gunners fired into the line of protecting frigates, anchor cables were hastily cut to escape the surge of flame, and without sails, the ships piled up on the shoals
Battle of Aspern-Essling
In the Battle of Aspern-Essling, Napoleon attempted a forced crossing of the Danube near Vienna, but the French and their allies were driven back by the Austrians under Archduke Charles. The battle was the first time Napoleon had been defeated in over a decade. However, Archduke Charles failed to secure a victory as Napoleon was able to successfully withdraw most of his forces. The French wanted to cross the Danube, a first crossing attempt on the Schwarze Lackenau on 13 May was repulsed with some 700 French losses. Lobau, one of the islands that divided the river into minor channels, was selected as the next point of crossing. Careful preparations were made, and on the night of 19–20 May the French bridged all the channels on the bank to Lobau. By the evening of the 20th many men had collected there. Massénas corps at once crossed to the bank and dislodged the Austrian outposts. The Archduke did not resist the passage and it was his intention, as soon as a large enough force had crossed, to attack it before the rest of the French army could come to its assistance.
Napoleon had accepted the risk of such an attack, but he sought at the time to minimize it by summoning every available battalion to the scene. His forces on the Marchfeld were drawn up in front of the bridges facing north, with their left in the village of Aspern and their right in Essling. Both places lay close to the Danube and could not therefore be turned, the French had to fill the gap between the villages, and move forward to give room for the supporting units to form up. Prince Johann of Liechtensteins Austrian reserve cavalry was in the center, during the 21st the bridges became more and more unsafe, owing to the violence of the current, but the French crossed without intermission all day and during the night. Kaiserlich-Königliche Hauptarmee, under the command of Charles of Austria, 3rd Column, Vanguard, notitz 3rd Column, Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Advance Guard Div. Brady Div. Dedovich 5th Column, Rosenberg/Hohenlohe, Rohan Div,3, Arrighi II Corps, Lannes †, Div. Saint-Hilaire † Div.
of reserve, Demont IV Corps, Masséna, lasalle Cavalry Reserve Corps, Bessières, Div. The French infantry fought with the old stubborn bravery which it had failed to show in the battles of the year. The three Austrian columns were unable to more than half the village
War of the Fifth Coalition
The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in the year 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleons French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the struggle at Wagram in early July. The resulting Treaty of Schönbrunn was the harshest that France had imposed on Austria in recent memory, 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 and Portugal remained at war with France in the ongoing Peninsular War, there was peace in central and eastern Europe until Napoleons invasion of Russia in 1812, which led to the formation of the Sixth Coalition in 1813. Europe had been embroiled in warfare, pitting revolutionary France against a series of coalitions, after five years of war, the French Republic subdued the First Coalition in 1797.
A Second Coalition was formed in 1798, only to be defeated, in March 1802, France 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, 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 all of its colonial conquests since 1793 when France was permitted to retain most of its conquered territory in Europe. France, was upset that British troops had not evacuated the island of Malta, in May 1803, Britain declared war on France. With the resumption of hostilities, Napoleon planned an invasion of England, 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, 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, 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 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, 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, Austerlitz incited a major shift in the European balance of power.
Prussia felt threatened about her security in the region and, alongside Russia, a vigorous French pursuit through Northern Germany finished off the remnants of the Prussian army
Battle of Halberstadt
The Battle of Halberstadt took place on 29 and 30 July 1809 at Halberstadt in the Kingdom of Westphalia, during the War of the Fifth Coalition. A Westphalian infantry force attempted to halt the Black Brunswickers under Frederick William, the Brunswickers surprised the Westphalians by a rapid advance and defeated them inside the town. In exile in Austrian controlled Bohemia, Duke Frederick raised a force or freikorps to fight the French. The volunteers were equipped by the Austrian Empire, the colour of their uniforms was black. The Duke of Brunswick and his corps began their remarkable fighting march towards the north German coast at Zwickau on 24 July, entering the town of Halle in Westphalia on 26 July, the duke appropriated its civic funds. This prompted Jérôme to order three generals, Jean-Jacques Reubell, Pierre Guillaume Gratien and Claude Ignace François Michaud, to gather their forces, the 5th Infantry, led by Colonel P-S Mayronnet, reached Halberstadt at 11 am on 29 July, still 150 kilometres from Reubel.
At 1 pm, local gendarmes warned Mayronnet that the Brunswickers were in Quedlinburg, sending out his voltigeurs to form a skirmish line, Mayronnet sent the rest of his infantry to defend the gates of the medieval town walls, supported by the troops of the towns garrison. At 7 pm, the duke led one column against the Harsleber Gate while a second attacked the Kuhlinger Gate and a third, despite a spirited defence, all three gates were breached and obstructions, including carts full of manure, were cleared away. The Brunswickers rushed into the town shouting their battle cry of Seig oder todt, when the cavalry reached the main square they found Mayronnets powerful regimental reserve, but believing that they were surrounded by superior forces, they surrendered. Westphalian losses were about 600 dead and wounded, with 2,080 taken prisoner, the Brunswick Corps lost about 400 killed and wounded. The Duke of Brunswick resumed his march on the day,30 July. He headed first to his capital, the city of Brunswick.
Closely pursued by their enemies, they reached the coast at Elsfleth on 6 August. The Brunswick Corps went on to fight with the British Army in the Peninsular War and the Waterloo Campaign
Battle of Sankt Michael
In the Battle of Sankt Michael on 25 May 1809, Paul Greniers French corps crushed Franz Jellacics Austrian division at Sankt Michael in Obersteiermark, Austria. The action occurred after the initial French victories during the War of the Fifth Coalition, Sankt Michael is located approximately 140 kilometers southwest of Vienna. Originally part of the Danube army of Archduke Charles, Jellacics division was detached to the south before the Battle of Eckmühl and ordered to join the army of Archduke John at Graz. As it retreated southeast toward Graz, Jellacics division passed across the front of Eugène de Beauharnais Army of Italy, when he learned of Jellacics presence, Eugène sent Grenier with two divisions to intercept the Austrian column. Greniers lead division duly intercepted Jellacics force and attacked, though the Austrians were able to hold off the French at first, they were unable to get away. The second French divisions arrival secured a numerical superiority over Jellacic. Greniers subsequent French assault broke the Austrian lines and captured thousands of prisoners, when Jellacic joined John it was with only a fraction of his original force.
In the opening encounters of the 1809 war between France and Austria, Emperor Napoleon beat Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann von Hiller at the battles of Abensberg and Landshut on 20 and 21 April. The following day, Napoleon defeated Generalissimo Archduke Charles at the Battle of Eckmühl, when Bavaria was invaded, Archduke Charles detached Jellacic to advance from Salzburg and occupy Munich on the extreme south flank. To better perform this mission, Hoffmeisters brigade was exchanged for General-Major Karl Dollmayer von Provenchères cavalry-infantry brigade from the light division. After the Austrian retreat began, Jellacic was ordered to back on Salzburg. Accordingly, elements of his command began assembling in Salzburg beginning on 29 April, believing cavalry was of little use in the mountains, Jellacic sent Provenchères toward Vienna on 1 May with the OReilly Chevauxlegers #3. Hiller fought the Battle of Ebersberg on 3 May, crossed to the bank of the Danube on 11 May. On 4 and 5 May, Jellacic fought a rearguard action at Lueg Pass,40 km south of Salzburg.
In the clash, a few hundred Hungarian regulars and Grenz infantry repulsed a brigade of pursuing Bavarians under the command of Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre. In Italy, General of Cavalry Archduke John defeated Viceroy Eugène at the Battle of Sacile on 16 April, Eugène fell back to Verona where he gathered reinforcements until he was superior in numbers to his Austrian opponent. After hearing news that Archduke Charles was in retreat, John withdrew from his Adige River defenses on 1 May, on 8 May, Eugène and John fought the Battle of Piave River and the Austrian retreat continued. John split his army, sending Feldmarschall-Leutnant Ignaz Gyulai along a route to Ljubljana
The Brunswick Ducal Corps, commonly known as the Black Brunswickers in English and the Schwarze Schar or Schwarze Legion in German, were a military unit in the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was raised from volunteers by German-born Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, the Duke was a harsh opponent of Napoleon Bonapartes occupation of his native Germany. Most units of the corps wore black uniforms, leading to the nicknames of the unit. The Brunswickers wore a silvered skull badge on their hats, recruiting, the replacement of casualties, and finance had always been problematic, and the corps was disbanded in the early 1820s. The exploits of the Brunswickers caught the British Victorian public imagination, completed in 1860, the painting depicts a Brunswicker in his black uniform bidding goodbye to an unnamed woman. In 1806 the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Charles William Ferdinand, was wounded during the Prussian defeat at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. Following Prussias defeat and the collapse of the Fourth Coalition against Napoleon, two years in 1809 the Fifth Coalition against Napoleon was formed between the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom.
The dispossessed Frederick William, who had been a critic of French domination in Germany. To finance this venture he mortgaged his principality in Oels, despite a successful campaign with their Austrian allies, the defeat of the latter at the Battle of Wagram on 6 July 1809 led to the Armistice of Znaim on 12 July. Frederick William refused to accept this and led his Schwarze Schar into Germany, landing in England, the duke was welcomed by his cousin and brother-in-law, the Prince Regent and the Black Brunswickers entered British service. During the next few years, the Brunswickers earned themselves a reputation through service with the British in the Peninsular Campaign. When organized for British service, the corps was renamed the Brunswick Oels Jäger, Prussians represented a large part of the original officer corps, while the enlisted men were motivated by German patriotism. However, once the Oels entered English service, they were cut off from their recruiting grounds. Compelled to enlist men from the prisoner of war camps to fill up the ranks, the Kings German Legion obtained the best of the German recruits, leaving the Oels with the less desirable ones.
In addition to Germans, the Oels recruited Poles, Danes, Charles Oman, the Peninsular War historian, calls the Oels a motley crew, much given to desertion and records one occasion where ten men were caught deserting in a body. Of these, four were shot and the rest flogged, the Brunswick Oels Jägers gave a good account of themselves during the war. The regiment — really a single battalion—arrived in Portugal in early 1811, the Duke of Wellington distributed one company to the 4th Division and two companies to the 5th Division as skirmishers, while the remaining nine companies served in the newly formed 7th Division. The Oels remained in this organization until the end of the war in April 1814, during this period, the Oels served in most of the major battles including Fuentes de Onoro, Vitoria, the Pyrenees, the Nive, and Orthez
Battle of Abensberg
As the day wore on, Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann von Hiller arrived with reinforcements to take command of the three corps that formed the Austrian left wing. The action ended in a complete Franco-German victory, the battlefield was southeast of Abensberg and included clashes at Offenstetten, Biburg-Siegenburg, Rohr in Niederbayern, and Rottenburg an der Laaber. On the same day, the French garrison of Regensburg capitulated, after Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davouts hard-fought victory at Battle of Teugen-Hausen the previous day, Napoleon determined to break through the Austrian defenses behind the Abens River. The emperor assembled a provisional corps consisting of part of Davouts corps plus cavalry, Napoleon directed his German allies from the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Kingdom of Württemberg to attack across the Abens from the west, while Lannes thrust from the north toward Rohr. While the Austrians initially held the line, Lannes strike force crashed through Louis defenses farther east. On the left, the Austrians managed to conduct a capable rear guard action, the day ended with the Austrians barely holding onto a line behind the Große Laber River.
The next day, Hiller withdrew to Landshut, separating the left wing from the army under Generalissimo Archduke Charles. The French surrender of Regensburg on 20 April allowed Charles army a retreat route to the bank of the Danube. The Battle of Landshut was fought on 21 April, Archduke Charles stole a march on Napoleon when his army invaded the Kingdom of Bavaria on 10 April 1809. Even though the Austrian army took six days to march from the Inn River at the frontier to the Isar River. Napoleons deputy commander, Marshal Louis Alexandre Berthier mismanaged the Grande Armées concentration, the central mass of Archduke Charles 209, 600-man host crossed the Isar at Landshut on 16 April, but the next day Emperor Napoleon arrived at the front from Paris. On 19 April, Charles realized he had an opportunity to destroy Davout and he launched 65,000 troops in three powerful columns northwest as Davout attempted a flank march across his front. Luckily for the French, General of Cavalry Johann I Joseph, both sides fed in reinforcements as the infantry battled over a pair of parallel ridges in the Battle of Teugen-Hausen.
Ultimately, Davout brought superior forces to bear in the late afternoon and that night, Charles ordered Hohenzollern to withdraw a little to the east, closer to his main body. On the morning of 19 April, Archduke Charles requested that Hohenzollern provide a link between the III and V Armeekorps, the III Armeekorps commander detached General-Major Ludwig Thierrys 6, 000-man infantry brigade to his left. While the Battle of Teugen-Hausen raged, Thierry clashed with Bavarian troops near Arnhofen, on 20 April, Archduke Charles main body consisted of the III, IV, and I Reserve Armeekorps. These were arrayed near Dünzling and Eckmühl, feldzeugmeister Johann Kollowrats II Armeekorps spent 19 April attacking Regensburg from north of the Danube. While successfully defending the city, Colonel Louis Coutards 2, 000-man 65th Line Infantry Regiment ran dangerously low on small-arms ammunition, General of Cavalry Count Heinrich von Bellegardes I Armeekorps remained north of the Danube
Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit
The Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit on 24 April 1809 saw a Franco-Bavarian force led by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières face an Austrian Empire army commanded by Johann von Hiller. Hillers numerically superior force won a victory over the Allied troops, Neumarkt-Sankt Veit is located ten kilometers north of Mühldorf and 33 kilometers southeast of Landshut in Bavaria. On 10 April 1809, Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschens surprise invasion of the Kingdom of Bavaria put the Grande Armée of Emperor Napoleon I of France at a disadvantage. On 19 April, Charles failed to take advantage of his opportunities, after battles on 20 and 21 April, Hillers troops were driven into a headlong retreat to the southeast. Having temporarily disposed of Hiller, Napoleon turned north with his army against Archduke Charles. On 22 and 23 April, the Franco-Germans defeated Charles army, Napoleon sent Bessières to pursue the Austrian left wing with minor forces. Not knowing that Charles had been defeated, Hiller turned back upon his pursuer, once he found that he was alone on the south bank facing Napoleons main army, Hiller retreated rapidly to the east in the direction of Vienna.
On 10 April 1809, Archduke Charles invaded the Kingdom of Bavaria with 209,000 Austrian soldiers and 500 artillery pieces, a set of orders from Emperor Napoleon in Paris was transmitted poorly and misunderstood by Marshal Louis Alexandre Berthier. By the time Napoleon arrived at the front on the 17th, on the morning of the 19th, Charles gained a position in which he might have severely punished Marshal Louis Davouts isolated III Corps. Instead, Davout escaped defeat in the hard-fought Battle of Teugen-Hausen, on 20 April, the Austrian left wing was strung-out on a 13 kilometer front behind the Abens River from Mainburg in the south to Biburg in the north. In total, there were about 42,000 Austrians, Napoleon launched 55,000 troops at his enemies in the Battle of Abensberg, inflicting 6,710 casualties, and forcing them to retreat. Napoleon beat Hiller again in the Battle of Landshut on 21 April, seizing a crossing over the Isar River, until 2,30 am on 22 April, Napoleon mistakenly believed that Hillers three corps represented the main Austrian army.
When he realized his error, he sent most of his troops marching north to crush Archduke Charles, on 22 April, the Franco-Germans defeated Charles at the Battle of Eckmühl and forced him to withdraw through Regensburg to the north bank of the Danube the following day. Napoleon instructed Bessières to pursue Hiller and placed him in charge of one reinforced cavalry division, the bulk of Hillers force, numbering 27,000 to 28,000 troops, lay near Mühldorf and Neuötting on the Inn River at noon on 23 April. A10, 000-strong division under Feldmarschall-Leutnant Franz Jellacic held Munich, Feldmarschall-Leutnant Dedovichs brigade from the IV Armeekorps, which had been blockading Passau, was assigned to Hillers command and moved to Braunau am Inn. Hiller noticed that the French pursuit had slackened on the 22nd and 23rd, a letter from Emperor Francis I urging him to help defend Archduke Charles south flank strengthened the left wing commanders resolve. Neither the emperor nor Hiller realized that Charles had withdrawn to the bank of the Danube.
The emperor planned for the pursuit to cross the Inn and capture Braunau am Inn, on the 24th, Napoleon ordered Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre, the commander of VII Corps, to take the division of Lieutenant General the Crown Prince of Bavaria to recapture Munich from Jellacic
Around 40,000 soldiers,15,000 horses together with field artillery and two siege trains crossed the North Sea and landed at Walcheren on 30 July. This was the largest British expedition of that year, larger than the serving in the Peninsular War in Portugal. The Walcheren Campaign involved little fighting, but heavy losses from the popularly dubbed Walcheren Fever. Although more than 4,000 British troops died during the expedition, only 106 died in combat, in July 1809, the British decided to seal the mouth of the Scheldt to prevent the port of Antwerp being used as a base against them. The primary aim of the campaign was to destroy the French fleet thought to be in Flushing whilst providing a diversion for the hard-pressed Austrians, the Battle of Wagram had already occurred before the start of the campaign and the Austrians had effectively already lost the war. John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham commanded the army, whilst Sir Richard Strachan commanded the navy, as a first move, the British seized the swampy island of Walcheren at the mouth of river Scheldt, as well as South Beveland island, both in the present-day Netherlands.
The British troops soon began to suffer from malaria, within a month of seizing the island, the medical provisions for the expedition proved inadequate despite reports that an occupying French force had lost 80% of its numbers a few years earlier, due to disease. Once it had decided to garrison Walcheren Island in September 1809. The French forces were commanded by Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who had just been stripped of his command after disobeying orders at Wagram, dismissed from Napoleons Grande Armée, Bernadotte returned to Paris and was sent to defend the Netherlands by the council of ministers. With the main objective for the British out of reach, the expedition was called off in early September, around 12,000 troops stayed on Walcheren, but by October only 5,500 remained fit for duty. In all, the British government spent almost £8 million on the campaign, along with the 4,000 men that had died during the campaign, almost 12,000 were still ill by February 1810 and many others remained permanently weakened.
Those sent to the Peninsular War to join Wellingtons army caused a permanent doubling of the sick lists there, a number of smaller vessels including customs-house and excise cutters were involved, as was a packet ship. The City of London, Loyal Greenwich, and Royal Harbour River Fencibles contributed men to the expedition, the 1st battalion of the Irish Legion was stationed in Flushing during the assault and received its baptism of fire there. It fought a rear guard action for days but the battalion was almost completely captured. The Legions brass band followed by the Irish battalion led the surrendered French garrison out of the town, however, a small party of Irishmen escaped and went into hiding with the battalions cherished imperial eagle, and after a few days they crossed the Scheldt River and escaped. Commandant Lawless was presented to Napoleon and he together with Captain OReilly received the Légion dhonneur in gratitude, the British Expeditionary Force to Walcheren,1809