The battle of Komarov, 26 August-1 September 1914, was an Austrian victory early in the First World War. It took place during the Austrian advance into Galicia, the initial Austro-Hungarian offensive of the war against Russia (often known as the battles of Lemberg). The two sides fundamentally misjudged each other’s plans. The Russians were planning to attack to the east, around Lemberg. They believed that the Austrians were also gathering in the same area. In contrast the Austrians expected the Russians to concentrate slowly, and further to the west. The main Austrian attack would be made by the two westernmost Austrian armies, on the front facing Lublin and Kholn.
The first clash came at the western end of the line, where the Russian Fourth Army was pushed back by the Austrian First (battle of Krasnik). Part of the Russian response was to order the Fifth Army (General Plehve), to wheel to its right and attack the Austrians in the flank. The Russians were quite convinced that the Austrian forces at Krasnik were an isolated flank guard.
Plehve’s right turn exposed his army to a flank attack from the Austrian Fifth Army (General Auffenberg), the next Austrian army in line. The encounter began in chaos. The Austrians were convinced that they were only facing a few divisions, as were the Russians. Despite this at the end of the day the Austrians were in a very strong position. On both flanks the Austrians had advanced between five and ten miles, and there was a real chance that the entire Russian army would be surrounded.
Three days of confused fighting followed, in which the Austrians continued their attempts to envelope the Russians, while for some time the Russians continued their move to the right. On 31 August the Austrians were in a position to close the trap. In the event poor intelligence doomed the attempt. The commander on each flank received news that Russian troops were threatening their own flanks, and slowed or stopped their advance. The Russians were able to escape to the north.
The battle ended on 1 September. The Russians had escaped from the trap, and while Auffenberg ordered a short pursuit, he was unable to catch them. Further east, the Austrians had suffered a first defeat, at Gnila Lipa, and in early September they would suffer a more serious defeat, at Rava Ruska, that forced them to retreat back to the Carpathian Mountains. The advances made at Krasnik and Komarow had to be abandoned.
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