Battle of Krasnik, 23-25 August 1914

The battle of Krasnik, 23-25 August 1914, was a minor Austrian victory during the Austrian campaign in Galicia during 1914 (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.

At the western end of the Austrian line was the First Army under General Viktor von Dankl. His orders were to advance north towards Lublin, to disrupt any Russian build-up in the area. The left flank of his advance would lie on the Vistula.

To his north was the Russian Fourth Army (General Salza). The Russians did not believe that any substantial Austrian forces were this far west, and so Salza was ordered to move south, into the area west of Przemysl, in order to block any Austria retreat. Salza’s army had not completed its concentration, and was lacking reserves, but no serious opposition was expected.

The two armies clashed head-on to the south of Krasnik on 23 August. On the first day of the battle the Russian right encountered the Austrian left and was slowly forced back by weight of numbers. On 24 August the fighting spread along the entire front, and once again the Russian right was pushed back.

On 25 August Dankl concentrated on the attack on his left. The Russian right was forced back, and the Russian left came under attack from its flank. It too was forced to fall back. By the end of the day the Russians had been forced back up to seven miles. That night Salza was replaced by General Ewarth.

The Russians were still convinced that they were only facing isolated Austrian units on the left flank of the main army. It was decided to attack these isolated Austrians from three sides. XVIII corps from the Ninth Army was detached to attack the Austrian left, while the entire Fifth Army was ordered to turn to its right and attack the flank and rear of the Austrians. Unfortunately for the Fifth Army, a second Austrian army, the Fourth, was advancing towards them. The resulting battle (Komarow, 26 August-1 September), would see the Russian Fifth Army come close to disaster.

Dankl’s army continued its advance north, but further east things were not going as well. The Russians won victories at Gnila Lipa and Rava Ruska, forcing the entire Austro-Hungarian army to withdraw to the Carpathians. The gains won at Krasnik had to be abandoned.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 August 2007), Battle of Krasnik, 23-25 August 1914, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_krasnik.html

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