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Austrians defeat Napoleon at Aspern-Essling

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Austrians defeat Napoleon at Aspern-Essling

Postby Connaught » September 2nd, 2011, 3:04 pm

In the morning the Austrian troops took up their position facing the French in Essling and Aspern. Unfortunately MdE Masséna failed to have loopholed the houses of these villages. His infantrymen occupied the two strongpoints; the church in Aspern and granary in Essling. Bessières' Reserve Cavalry was formed in the space between Essling and Aspern. The overall command over Massena and Bessiers was given to the French Ajax, Marshal Lannes.
The French position was strong. Both villages contained stout buildings and the elevated road provided shelter. Between Aspern and Danube was marshy, wooded terrain. The area between Essling and Danube was covered by French artillery from Lobau. The only problem were the unstable bridges. The water was high.

The Austrian army had 70,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry and 288 guns. At 2 PM the whitecoats attacked. At once there opened such an artillery combat as the armies had never before seen. It was almost impossible for aids to report or for orders to be given from the center of so much noise and confusion Great volumes of smoke, however, soon obscured the battlefield, and many of the soldiers could not see that there was a foe in front of them until they were within short range of the enemy line.
Marbot writes: "The cannonade was terrible; the enemy's force was so much superior to ours that they might easily have hurled us into the Danube ... and if the Emperor had been in the Archduke's place he would certainly have taken that course. But the Austrian commander-in-chief was too methodical to act in this determined way, therefore instead of boldly massing a strong force in the direction of our tête de pont, he occupied the whole of the first day in attacking Aspern and Essling, which he carried and lost five or six times after murderous combats. As soon as one of these villages was occupied by the enemy, the Emperor sent up reserves to retake it, and if we were again driven from it, he took it again, though both places were on fire.
During this alternation of successes and reverses, the Austrian cavalry several times threatened our centre, but ours repulsed it and returned to its place between the two villages, though terribly cut up by the enemy's artillery. Thus the action continued till ten in the evening, the French remaining masters of Essling and Aspern, while the Austrians, withdrawing their left and centre, did nothing but make some fruitless attacks on Aspern. They brought up, however, strong reinforcements for the morrow's action."
(Marbot - "The Memoirs of Baron de Marbot")

At dawn of the 22nd the battle was resumed. Masséna cleared Aspern of the Austrians, but at the same time Rosenberg stormed Essling. In Aspern, Masséna was driven out by a counter-attack of Hiller and Bellegarde. The whole of the French center, with Lannes on the left and the cavalry in reserve, moved forward.

The Austrian line was broken through and victory was almost won when Archduke Charles brought up his last reserve, leading his soldiers with a colour in his hand (see picture). Lannes was checked, and with his repulse the impetus of the attack died out all along the line. Aspern had been lost, and the bridges had been cut by heavy barges, which had been sent drifting down stream by the Austrian engineers.Napoleon at once suspended the attack. Essling was taken by the Austrians and then lost.

The French lost over 20,000 men including Marshal Lannes, who died after being mortally wounded by an Austrian cannonball. The Austrians had also suffered similar casualties but had secured the first major victory against the French for over a decade.

News of the victory spread in Europe like wildfire. The battle demonstrated how far the Austrian army had progressed since the catastrophic defeats in 1800 and 1805.
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Re: Austrians defeat Napoleon at Aspern-Essling

Postby Laurent » September 15th, 2011, 4:13 pm

The battle of Aspern can be considered (specialy for the Austrian propaganda) as a failure to Napoleon, because he has failed to cross. It is true that this view is echoed by some historians. However, since the losses of the French and the Austrians are comparable, their armies occupy roughly the same positions after and before the battle, and that the strategic situation is unchanged after and before, others describe the confrontation as a tie.
The decision will be almost a week later on the same ground, at the Battles of Wagram (6th july) and Znaïm (11th july) which, this time, are real victories for Napoléon and which will lead to the end of the war of the 5th coalition.
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Re: Austrians defeat Napoleon at Aspern-Essling

Postby Marshal Ney » June 25th, 2012, 10:32 am

More like a strategical withdrawl on account of the bridge getting damaged
by the Austrians floating debri down the Danube river.

Also could not get Davoust III corp and the ammunition across because of this.

Just like Wellington at Quatra Bras...

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Re: Austrians defeat Napoleon at Aspern-Essling

Postby Dominique T. » June 25th, 2012, 3:42 pm

Certainly a failure for Napoleon (due to the reasons given), certainly not a defeat. But this failure was well used by the Austrian propaganda.

Don't forget the Russians claimed Friedland was a great victory for them. :lol:
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