The combat of Schöngrabern (10 July 1809) was a second successful Austrian rearguard action in two days in the aftermath of their defeat at Wagram, and saw a small force from Reuss's V Corps hold up Massena's troops advancing on the main road towards Znaim. In the aftermath of the battle of Wagram most of the Austrian army had retreated along the main road that led from Stockerau on the Danube north to Znaim. Napoleon had temporarily lost contact with the Austrians, and sent a number of columns along their possible lines of retreat. Massena was sent along the Znaim road, capturing Stockerau on 8 July. On the following day he sent Legrand's division and some cavalry towards Znaim, but they ran into the Austrian rear guard, Klenau's VI Corps, at Hollabrunn. At the end of a day-long battle both sides still held part of Hollabrunn, but that night Klenau's corps was replaced as rear-guard by Reuss's fresh V Corps. Reuss took up a new position at Schöngrabern, a strong defensive position a few miles to the north of Hollabrunn. Klenau's men then retreated through the new Austrian lines.
Reuss had around 10,000 men at his disposal at the start of the day. The 3rd Jägers and two squadrons of Blankenstein Hussars were placed in Schöngrabern, with the rest of the corps in two lines on the next two ridges that crossed the road. This meant that the French were outnumbered when they first arrived on the scene. Massena's corps contained four infantry divisions, but two were not involved in the chase, while Carra Saint-Cyr didn’t arrive until the afternoon. This left Legrand's infantry and the cavalry to deal with the Austrian rearguard.
The first clash took place around Schöngrabern. Massena sent his cavalry and Jägers around the western flank of the village, where they defeated the Blankenstein Hussars and forced the Austrian Jägers to retreat. At about the same time the nature of the battle changed. While Massena was fighting his way slowly up the main road, Marmont had been presented with an open road towards Znaim from the south-east. Rosenberg's IV Corp, which had been protected the Austrian left flank, had been ordered to move north-east to protect Brünn, allowing Marmont to reach Znaim from an unexpected direction. On 10 July he attacked the Austrians, believing that he only faced a rearguard. Although Charles massively outnumbered Marmont, he decided to call in most of Reuss's men. Reuss left behind his own rearguard, around 3,500 strong, and then began the march north.
This rearguard, under the command of General Johann Graf Klebelsberg, consisted of one Jäger battalion, one Grenzer regiment (border infantry), a regiment of Uhlans, the Blankenstein Hussars and one artillery battery. It was now the Austrians who were outnumbered, although not by a large margin - Legrand had between 4,000 and 4,500 men, and was supported by some cavalry. Massena was able to outflank the Austrians to the west on several occasions, but each time he did this Klebelsberg managed to withdraw with his command intact. By the end of the day the Austrians had reached Jetzeldorf, and were defending a strong position on the north bank of the Pulkau River, which flows from west-to-east across the road. That night they withdrew to Znaim, where both forces took part in the second and final day of the battle of Znaim (10-11 July 1809).
|1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs, Volume III: Wagram and Znaim, John H. Gill. The third part of a very impressive narrative history of the War of the Fifth Coalition, looking at the final battles at Wagram and Znaim and the subsidiary campaigns in Poland, Hungary, Dalmatia, Styria and the Tyrol. Manages to be both very detailed and readable and coherent, a very impressive achievement. [read full review]|
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