Ignaz Gyulai, Graf von Maros-Nemth und Nadaska, 1763-1831

Ignaz Gyulai, Graf von Maros-Nemth und Nadaska (1763-1831) was an Austrian general most famous for his role in the campaigns of 1813 and 1814.

Gyulai was both in Hermannstadt (modern Sibiu) in 1763, into a distinguished military family.

He joined the army at the age of 18, enlisting as a cadet in Infantry Regiment 32. By 1788 he had been promoted to major, and he commanded the 2nd Banal Grenz Regiment at the start of the Austro-Turkish War of 1788-1791.

In 1790 he was promoted to lieutenant colonal, and raised the Gyulai Croat Freikorps. He led this unit during the siege of Cetin of 1790, where he led his men as they climbed the walls during the final Habsburg conquest of the fortress.

In 1793 he served under Feldmarschalleutnant Würmser on the Rhine front against Revolutionary France. He took part in the attack on the Lines of Weissenburg in October 1793, and was awarded the Cross of the order of Maria Theresa for his efforts.

In 1794 he served in General Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen's Corps, which was attached to Blücher's army. In this role he fought at the battle of Kaiserlautern (September 1794).

In 1795 he was promoted to Oberst or commanding colonel of Infantry Regiment 31, but in the field he still commanded his own Freikorps.

In 1796 he commanded the advance guard of Feldmarschalleutnant Frolich's army in the Tyrol. On 22 September he managed to hold off the French for eight hours at Menningen. He then took part in the siege of Kehl.

In 1797 he was promoted to Generalmajor, and in April took command of the Austrian contingent in the army in Germany.

At the start of the War of the Second Coalition he was given command of an advance guard brigade in the Archduke Charles's army. During the battle of Ostrach (21 March 1799) he led a successful attack on the Austrian right, crossing the river Ostrach and storming Ettinghosen village.

On 22 April 1799 he raided the bridgehead at Breisach, on the east bank of the Rhine.

He was then used to organise the militia in Breisgau.

In 1800 he commanded a corps that formed the right wing of Kray's army. After Kray was defeated, he retreated to Donaueschingen to protect the retreat of the main army. He then won victories at Gunzburg and Krumbach.

In June 1800 he fought a number of rearguard actions against Moreau's army. He also fought at the battle of Hohenlinden in December.

In 1801 he was appointed as Inhaber (honorary colonel) of Infnatry Regiment 1801.

After the battle of Austerlitz he helped Furst Johannes Liechtenstein during the peace negotiations. After that he was appointed as the ban of Croatia, where he helped to reform the Military Frontier - the borderlands facing the Ottoman Empire.

In 1809 he commanded IX Corps, part of the Austrian army in Italy. He commanded during the Austrian crossing of the Tagliamento, and during the retreat into Croatia. On 26 June he defended Graz against Marmont.

War of Liberation 1813 - Autumn Campaign
War of Liberation 1813 -
Autumn Campaign

In 1813 he was promoted to Feldzeugmeister and commanded the left wing at the battle of Dresden (officially Armee-Abteilung III, but normally known as III Corps). At the key battle of Leipzig his troops formed a link between Schwarzenberg south of the city and Blucher to the north. On 16 October he launched an attack on the 3,200 French defenders of Lindenau, a fortified position to the west of Leipzig, and key to any possible French retreat. Although this attack failed, it did distract the French, who allocated far too many troops to this front, meaning they weren't available for Napoleon's main attack in the south. On 18 October Gyulai attacked Lindenau once again, and once again he was repulsed. He was attacked by Bertrand, who had been ordered to march to the Saale to secure the French escape route, and his corps was scattered. Many of his men were captured, and others had to escape back to the main Allied lines. On 19 October he and Yorck attempted to stop the French retreating west, but his forces were too weak to achieve this. Gyulai then took part in the pursuit, reaching the Saale at Kosen on 21 October, where he was able to push back Bertrand and secure a bridgehead across the river (Combat of Kosen).

In 1814 he fought in the invasion of France. He commanded the 3rd Corps in Schwarzenberg's army, and fought in its first action of the invasion - the engagement of Bar-sur-Aube of 24 January 1814, where two Austrian corps eventually forced Mortier to retreat.

He took part in the battle of Brienne, capturing the village of Lesmont.

His corps was then transferred to Blucher's army, but with orders not to allow Blucher to entirely destroy Napoleon's army. He took part in the battle of La Rothiere (1 February 1814), where his troops were unable to capture the village of Dienville, on the French right, even though it was mainly defended by Gerard's conscripts.

Battles of the French Campaign of 1814
Battles of the
French Campaign
of 1814

After suffering a defeat at Montereau (18 February 1814), Schwarzenberg retreated east along the south bank of the Seine. Frustrated, Napoleon turned north in another attempt to catch Blucher. Oudinot was left behind to watch Schwarzenberg and try and convince him the Emperor was still present. Gyulai's troops were on the fringes of the battle of Bar-sur-Aube (27 February 1814), where Schwarzenberg called Oudinot's bluff and forced him to retreat for several days. 

As Schwarzenberg advanced west, Napoleon moved south to attempt to stop him once again, having failed to defeat Blucher. The two armies clashed at Arcis-sur-Aube (20-21 March 1814), where Napoleon narrowly avoiding being trapped by Schwarzenberg's entire army. Gyulai's corps was one of three sent towards Plancy as part of the advance, and they were thus involved in the first day of the battle, which saw Ney and Sebastiani in danger of being overwhelmed south of the Aube, although the Allies were unable to take advantage of the situation. On 21 March he commanded half of the force that eventually attacked the French at 3pm, after Schwarzenberg wasted most of the day.

In the aftermath of this battle, Napoleon moved east in an attempt to get into the Allied rear areas and force them to retreat. Schwarzenberg didn’t fall for this, and instead decided to join up with Blucher and advance on Paris. 

After the war he returned to his post as ban of Croatia. He also served as General Kommandant of Bohemia, then of Austria, before in 1830 becoming president of the Imperial War Council (Hofkriegsrat).

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 October 2017), Ignaz Gyulai, Graf von Maros-Nemth und Nadaska, 1763-1831 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_gyulai.html

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