1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs, Volume II: Aspern, John H. Gill

1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs, Volume II: Aspern, John H. Gill

This second entry in Gill's classic account of the Franco-Austrian War of 1809 looks at the period that includes Napoleon's second entry into Vienna, and his first serious defeat, at the battle of Aspern-Essling. As a result one of the themes of this volume the possible decline in Napoleon's abilities and the quality of the armies available to him, as well as the clear improvements in the Austrian army in the years since Austerlitz.

As in the previous volume Gill is very good at examining decisions from the point of view of the knowledge available to the participants at the time rather than with the benefit of hindsight. Some of Napoleon's actions make much more sense when examined in this way, in particular the decision to make a quick crossing of the Danube before Aspern-Essling. Gill's immensely impressive research also shows in his accounts of each commander's intentions as they evolved during each battle. Once again this casts an interesting light on Aspern-Essling, this time on the Austrian failure to win a more significant victory.

The only minor irritant in this (and in the first volume in the series) is that the index is somewhat limited, focusing almost entirely on people rather than places or events, thus making it difficult to find the section on a particular action (especially the more minor ones). This flaw isn't present in the third volume.

That apart this is a truly excellent account of this pivotal moment in Napoleon's career - the point at which his aura of invincibility began to slip. Even though the defeat at Aspern-Essling was followed by victory at Wagram, things would never quite be the same again.

Part I: From Victory to Repulse
1 - On to Vienna!
2 - Marauders, Militias and Major Actions
3 - Aspern

Part II: Clearing the Strategic Flanks
4 - Over the Alps: Austria's Southern Offensives
5 - From the Adige to the Danube: Eugene's Counter Offensive

Intermezzo

Appendices
1 - Orders of Battle for the Battle of Neumarkt, 24 April 1809
2 - Additional Austrian Forces under Hiller, 26 April 1809
3 - Landwehr in 1809
4 - Orders of Battle for the Battle of Ebelsberg, 3 May 1809
5 - Austrian Forces in the Danube Valley, 8-9 May 1809
6 - Vienna Garrison, 11 May 1809
7 - Orders of Battle for the Battle of Linz, 17 May 1809
8 - Orders of Battle for the Battle of Aspern-Essling, 21-22 May 1809
9 - Forces in the Vicinity of Vienna/ Marchfield during the battle of Aspern-Essling, 21-22 May 1809
10 - Orders of Battle for the Opening Campaigns in Italy and Dalmatia
11 - Orders of Battle for the Battle of Sacile, 16 April 1809
12 - Forces in the Tyrol, Late April
13 - Orders of Battle for the Battle of the Piave, 8 May 1809
14 - Orders of Battles for the Battles on the Frontier, 14-17 May 1809
15 - French Army of Italy, reorganised, 21 May 1809
16 - Orders of Battle for the Battle of St. Michael, 25 May 1809

Author: John H. Gill
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 448
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2009


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