Combat of Salzburg, 29 April 1809

The combat of Salzburg, 29 April 1809, saw a small force of Napoleon's Bavarian allies capture the Austrian city of Salzburg, although they failed to intercept an Austrian column retreating from Munich (Franco-Austrian War of 1809).

The war had begun with an Austrian invasion of Bavaria, but that had ended in defeats at Abensberg, Landshut, Eggmuhl and Regensburg, and by 27 April Napoleon had reached the River Inn on the Austrian border. This French advance forced an Austrian force under Jellacic to abandon Munich and attempt to escape east back into Austria. In order to counter this Napoleon ordered Wrede's 2nd Bavarian Division to move south towards Salzburg and attempt to intercept this column.

Salzburg was defended by a small Austrian force under Oberstleutnant Sardagna. His original force consisted of four squadrons of cavalry, but during the brief struggle for Salzburg he was reinforced with two more squadrons of cavalry and two infantry companies from II/ Esterhazy.

Wrede advanced towards Salzburg from the north west, reaching Trostberg on the River Alz on the night of 27-28 April. During 28 April he advanced east to Tittmoning, from where he sent scouts south-east up the Salzach River towards Fridolfing and Laufen. At Fridolfing they clashed with some of Sardagna's men, gaining some idea of the overall Austrian positions. This encouraged Wrede to continue his advance, and at around 9pm his advance guard reached the Bavarian border town of Laufen. The Austrians had set the bridge on fire, but the townspeople opened the gates to Wrede's men, and between them they were able to save a number of the local salt boats.

By the morning of 29 April Wrede's division was concentrated at Laufen. Leaving one brigade and the artillery at Laufen, Wrede took his remaining troops down the east bank of the river towards Salzburg. The first clash with the Austrians came at Acharting, just over five miles away from the city. Here Sardagna attempted to stop the Bavarian advance with his six cavalry squadrons, but without success. Wrede then continued his advance, before his advance guard ran into the main Austrian defensive position, at Bergheim, two miles from Salzburg. This time the Bavarians were faced with Sardagna's entire command, including the two companies of II/ Esterhazy, while the remaining four companies were close behind. One battalion of the local militia, the 1st Salzburg Landwehr, was also present.

Sardagna was able to hold his ground against the Bavarian advance guard, but when Wrede arrived with his artillery the Austrians were forced to retreat, losing some 350 men. Salzburg itself held out until Wrede fired grapeshot at the ramparts and the Bavarians entered the city at 5pm. The only disappointment was that the bulk of Jellacic's division escaped south to Hallein, seven miles upstream.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 October 2010), Combat of Salzburg, 29 April 1809 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_salzburg.html

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