Sunday, December 1, 2013

Haslach-Jungingen 1805

War of the Third Coalition

11 October 1805

French 1st Div, 6th Corps, under Pierre Dupont de l'Etang, 5,233 men & 8 guns
Austrians under Karl Mack von Leiberich, approximately 25,000 men & 30 guns

Weather: Cold and intermittent snow
Present Day Location: Just north of Ulm, Bavaria in Germany (48°24′N 9°59′E
For some excellent pictures of what the village of Jungingen looks like, close up, from the ground, go to the Miniatures.de Page, The Strong Point at Jungingen

 

Battle of the Unfortunate Ones

Haslach-Jungingen is one of those little noticed battles taking place, as it did, in the noise and shadow of the Austerlitz campaign. It is part of a set of small battles (military historians call them "combats" or "engagements" since they don't seem to rank up there with the Borodinos or Gettysburgs) that took place at the beginning of Napoleon's 1805 campaign. I have already covered two of them, Wertingen and Durnstein. There were several. But Haslach-Jungingen is nonetheless an interesting study since it starkly contrasts the old, 18th century style of tactics and leadership with the new, 19th century, integrated command doctrine introduced by Napoleon. It is also one of those "what if" battles that might be interesting to refight as a wargame, assuming the Austrian player is not so much a fool and the French one not so shrewd.

In this battle (or "combat" or "tiff") a small, isolated force of French  held their own against five times their number for more than six hours and withdrew in good order with 4,000 Austrian prisoners. In some ways, the performance was a rehearsal of another battle, Durnstein, a few weeks later against the Russians, with some of the same troops.

This initial stage of the War of the Third Coalition was the debut of Napoleon's newly created Grande Armée, which had been in intense training for almost two years at its camp in Boulogne on the Channel Coast, in preparation for what, then, had been the inevitable invasion of England. It' troops, its commanders, its equipment, and its spirit were at their highest level they would ever be again. Nothing like it had been seen in the world since Frederick the Great's army two generations before. So it must have been gratifying to these soldiers, to say the least, to see all that training and theory pay off in the opening rounds of this campaign.

Narrative continues below map


The Unfortunate General Mack

Karl Mack von Leiberich
General Karl Mack von Leiberich seemed born to be a scapegoat. He is known to history by his self-awarded sobriquet, "the Unfortunate General Mack," made as he surrendered his army to Napoleon at Ulm in 1805. While he had risen in his earlier career in the Habsburg service, he had frequently run afoul of the wrong people in the Hofkriegsrat (the Austrian general staff), as well as among key generals, and at the Imperial Court. Yet, mostly because he was considered a useful political foil by the Emperor Francis II and Archduke Charles (the real brains of the Austrians), he kept being given new, ambiguous assignments. At most he was an ingratiating courtier with a modicum of administrative talents, a truckload of unfounded confidence in his own military genius, and no political sense whatever. A patsy.

By 1801 Austria had suffered humiliating defeats in two wars against the terrifying French Revolution. To the ancien regime oligarchic powers, the Revolution was as great an existential threat at the turn of the 19th century as the Communist Revolution was in the 20th. In reaction, Archduke Charles had led a movement to reform and modernize the Austrian army to bring it, kicking and screaming, out of the 18th century to save the world (or at least the oligarchs) from this threat. But Charles did not suffer fools gladly and rubbed too many people the wrong way, so his Imperial brother Francis decided in 1805 to pass on the task of reforming the armed forces to Mack, whom he made Quartermaster General of the Army.

Mack proceeded to order only the most superficial changes in the Habsburg forces, namely the reduction of battalions from six companies to four and the increase of the number of battalions in a regiment from three to five. He didn't, however, implement any new officer training to handle these new formations, or any of the tactical ideas of Charles. Nor did he make arrangements to increase the number of company officers to manage the already under-officered regiments. So the new regiments went to war undermanned, underled, undertrained, confused, and not a little resentful. It seems he completely missed the essence of what Charles had been trying to do and ended by completely messing things up.

Mack Takes "Command"

When the French began to march east from Boulogne to the Danube in their 19th century version of blitzkrieg, Francis made Mack Chief of Staff to Archduke Ferdinand, titular commander-in-chief of the main Austrian field army of 72,000 men. Apparently, somebody at Court secretly confided in Mack that he was to be the de facto C-in-C, but that same somebody also apparently neglected to tell Ferdinand or any of the other, more experienced commanders. A subsequent letter (also vaguely written so as not to offend) had to be sent from Francis to Ferdinand to diplomatically explain the situation. It didn't help.

Archduke Ferdinand
Ferdinand, a 24-year old nobleman, was only actually chosen to be nominal head of the army for political reasons. Emperor Francis and the Austrians just didn't trust the Russians. They were worried that when their arrogant Russian allies showed up, they would simply appropriate the Austrian troops under their own, direct command (as had happened  during the War of the Second Coalition). But Ferdinand was a  nephew of Francis, and as such, would "outrank" the commander of the coming Russian allies, Kutuzov. With a Habsburg prince in command, the Austrians would be able to override Kutuzov's pretensions of authority. This may seem silly to those of us who are privileged to live in an enlightened 21st democracy without any of the pretensions plutocracy (oops, my sarcasm switch was left on) but it was one of the sad hobbles of ancien regime politics.

Though he was merely a Habsburg prince, bright, young Ferdinand, however, didn't see himself as a figurehead. He had some pretty sound strategic concepts of his own, which, as events would show, would turn out to be more prescient than those of the Unfortunate Mack. He would turn out to be a far better leader than his pompous, condescending quartermaster.

In retrospect it seemed as though Mack, the commoner and Protestant, was set up to take the fall for the Catholic Habsburg family should defeat rear its ugly head again. But this ambiguity of his leadership authority was, in the end, a self-defeating ploy. The Emperor had so cleverly insured his family from personal culpability that he also insured, at the same time, another humiliating defeat, losing virtually his entire field army and the Holy Roman Empire.

The Strategic Situation: The Austrians Overreach

Maximilian I Joseph,
Elector of Bavaria
The first, huge mistake that Mack made with his new, unofficial command, was to invade Bavaria. He meant to beat the French to the punch. His commander, Ferdinand, advised against this. The Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian I Joseph, had not yet declared for one side or the other, and was putting off that decision as long as possible. His country was the inevitable battleground between France and Austria, and though he was being pressured by both Napoleon and the Austrians, he was dithering. Whichever side he joined was going to be bad for Bavaria (though Napoleon promised him large swaths of Austrian land). He perhaps wished that the lateness of the year and the early bad weather would put off the inevitable until 1806.

Archduke Ferdinand was all for hanging back on the border and letting the French commit the first violation of Bavarian neutrality, hopefully driving Maximilian into the Coalition camp. He also argued for staying closer to their home bases and their tardy Russian Allies. The Russians were two weeks late in their march east, but this had probably been as a result of a misunderstanding. The Russians were still using the old Julian calendar, which was 10 days earlier than the Gregorian that everyone else (including the Austrians) were using. So when they said they'd be with Mack on the 20th, they actually meant October 30th on the Gregorian calendar. Apparently nobody thought to synchronize their watches.

But Mack didn't want to wait for the Russians. He believed, like his hero, Frederick the Great, in audacity. So he invaded Bavaria and brought the entire army clear across that country to its eastern city of Ulm. Mack had faith that this city near the headwaters of the Danube would be an impregnable fortress against which the invading French would dash themselves to destruction. He described it as the "anvil against which the Russian hammer would destroy the French." His commanders, and his young "boss" all just looked at each other skeptically. By hunkering down in Ulm, they were now very far forward, did not know where the French were, and their lines of communication were dangerously long and exposed. It was what we would call, in this century, leading with your chin.

Mack's clumsy invasion had the unintended consequence of forcing the Elector's hand and making him declare war on Austria, becoming France's ally and adding 25,000 troops to the already overwhelming Grande Armée. Imagine Mack's surprise.

It also didn't help that, as the Austrians tramped into Bavaria, they brought with them wagonloads of obsolete, Imperial paper money with which to "pay" for their supply requisitions from Bavarian farmers. The Bavarians, fully aware that Austria had recently devalued its currency and introduced a new paper currency, were insulted that the Austrians were trying to pull one over on them and rejected the offers of payment with the worthless, old notes. So the Austrians just took what they wanted, something armies had been doing in Central Europe for centuries. It tended not to endear them to their new hosts.

By contrast, Napoleon had been careful that when his army moved, his commissary officers paid with hard currency and set up depots along the line of march to minimize looting and to free his troops from long wagon trains. Even when his corps moved faster than the supply officers, at this stage of the Napoleonic Wars, the French troops were still seen more as liberators than conquerors. That changed, of course, over the years, but in 1805, the moral authority of the French Revolution went a lot farther with the locals, not just because of the French proletarian ideology but because they behaved better than the Coalition troops. Not a high bar, admittedly.

"Inconcievable!"

Losing his argument to stay back on the Austrian border, Ferdinand next advocated sending a sizable force north of the Danube and Ulm to watch for French movement from that direction. But Mack also rolled his eyes at that. He knew the French would have to come straight east, right through the Black Forest west of Ulm. That was the time-honored path to invade Bavaria (see my previous post on Blenheim a hundred years before). And that's where he would meet them, annihilating the creatures as they stumbled, presumably dazed and confused, from the woods. He also argued that in order for Napoleon to swing around the Austrian right, as Ferdinand feared, he would have to violate the territory of a neutral principality, Anspach, which was Prussian property. That would never happen (even though Mack himself had just committed that very act on Bavaria). Ferdinand was just too young and inexperienced to understand these fine points of strategy.

But what Ferdinand feared is exactly what happened. Napoleon correctly gambled (based on his spies in Berlin) that King Frederick William III of Prussia would whine about these kids cutting across his lawn, but would do nothing about it (at least not until 1806). So he had the great mass of the Grande Armée make a vast end run around the Austrians, crashing right through neutral Anspach, and come down like a hurricane on Mack's rear, cutting him off from Austria and the oncoming Russians.

To further fix Mack's attention westward and not north, Napoleon had had his cavalry commander (and brother-in-law), Joachim Murat, make a lot of theatrical racket in the Black Forest, and to screen the actual enveloping movement of the quarter million  men to the north. It worked. The Unfortunate One didn't realize what was happening until it was too late.

Is This Snow? In October?

General Mack was a practitioner of 18th century warfare. That meant that when the weather got bad, gentlemen didn't make war. But the weather in October 1805 had gotten bad. Early. In fact, it had been sleeting and even snowing since the 8th. Of course we forget, in studying military history, that the period roughly between the mid 16th century and the mid 19th century has been known to climate historians as the Little Ice Age. Average global temperatures were, during these three hundred years, a few degrees colder than they are now and winters started earlier and lasted longer (see Mollwitz on this blog). So snow was apparently normal in Central Europe this time of year. Even some contemporary paintings about the campaign reveal the snow (see the Gauterot, below).

Napoleon haranguing his 2nd Corps troops on 12 Oct just 10 miles southeast of Ulm. Note the background landscape, covered in snow.( Painting by Claude Gautherot at la musee de Versailles). Though just a propaganda piece, the detail corroborates many contemporary memoirs that it had been snowing incessantly throughout this stage of the campaign, even though it was early October.

So we can pretty much assume that it was cold and snowing by the second week of October, with intermittent days of slightly warmer weather, in which it would rain and turn the roads to mud.

This, however, did not deter the French. They weren't obeying the rules 18th century warfare. And they were no gentlemen. They were coming on like a fine summer day (which it had probably been not a month before). They also had more and stronger horses than the Austrians, which allowed them to move their guns faster and farther, even in the bad weather.

By 10 October, Napoleon was in Augsburg, 81 km due east of Ulm, and had six corps, plus Murat's cavalry corps and his Imperial Guard all across the Danube and converging on Ulm from the east. Mack, hearing rumors of strong enemy movement from that direction, had sent General Auffenberg eastward toward Donauworth with a reconnaissance in force (about 6,000 men) to check in out. This group ran into a strong force of French cavalry and infantry of Murat's and Lannes' corps at Wertingen, where they were soundly beaten and sent scurrying back to Ulm. Mack was also getting reports from the south and southeast of other large French formations. Ferdinand and the other  officers urged a retreat back down the left bank (northern) of the Danube, to simultaneously avoid being trapped in Ulm and threaten the French lines of communication. Mack alternately authorized such moves and then rescinded his orders. He was like a decapitated chicken.

Mack had his only golden opportunity to break out and, at the same time, inflict a blow on the French on the 11 October. The day before, Murat, who had been given authority by Napoleon over Lannes's and Ney's two corps (V and VI) to block Ulm, had, for some reason, ordered Ney to move all of his forces across to the south bank of the Danube to join Lannes and the Cavalry Corps. Ney's VI Corps had been approaching Ulm from the northeast, both protecting the French lines of communication and blocking any escape from that city (which was itself on the north bank). When he got the order to abandon the north bank and move across the river, Ney, who was far more strategic minded than Murat, was furious and rode down to Murat's headquarters to protest.

Murat was arrogant and stubborn. He also, sycophantically, was acting on his last communication from Napoleon who had speculated that Mack might try to break out and head south. It was just a speculation and Napoleon had been sharing it with Murat, his brother-in-law, in the fantasy that he, too, would grasp the possible strategic options and act flexibly. Instead, Murat took Napoleon's musings as absolute truth and ordered everybody south, opening the door for the Austrian escape along the north bank of the Danube. Ney furiously pointed this out to Murat, but not only failed to persuade but caused the egotistical cavalry commander to dig in his heels and, in turn, insult Ney as not understanding the mind of the Emperor the way he, his brother-in-law, did. Ney put his hand on his sword hilt but was restrained by Lannes, who agreed with him but saw that Murat was not going to be convinced. Murat, who famously said, "I only make plans in the face of the enemy," was proud of his putting action over thinking. It doesn't matter who was right. This was a matter of two overbearing egos butting heads.

Ney stomped out, agreeing sullenly to obey the order, but only under protest, and that night (the 10th) ordered two of his divisions, Loison's and Mahler's, as well as his cavalry division, to cross to the south side of the Danube. This left only Dupont's First Division and Baraguay d'Hillier's dismounted dragoon division on the north. These two were to keeping acting on their standing orders to move down toward Ulm, on the north bank.

Dupont Steps In It: The Battle Begins

Pierre Dupont de l'Etang
This was the situation on the morning of the 11th as Dupont was marching his 5,200 men (his own 1st Division, VI Corps, plus a brigade of dragoons lent him by Murat, and eight guns) toward the northeast suburbs of Ulm through the village of Haslach.

At that same time, Mack, finally persuaded by Ferdinand to make a breakout to the northeast, was marching 25,000 men (including 3,200 cavalry and 30 guns), out of the entrenchments around Ulm toward the northeast...right at Dupont.

About 1300 both generals saw each other from about 2.5 miles apart. It must have been a moment of "yikes!" for each one. Mack had been led to believe that the right bank of the Danube would be devoid of Frenchmen (his intelligence reported Ney's crossing to the south bank the night before). And Dupont was surprised to see what appeared to be the entire Austrian army marching out of Ulm straight toward him.

Dupont realized that his only chance to survive the day was to bluff. If he retreated, then the enemy would immediately know he had nothing behind him and would overtake his small force with their large cavalry force and annihilate him. So his only chance was to deploy and attack as if he was the vanguard of Ney's full corps, and hopefully stall the Austrians long enough for night to fall and him to escape. So he decided to deploy his small, isolated division and act aggressively. At the same time, he sent an urgent message to Baraguey d'Hilliers, commanding the dismounted dragoon division several miles behind him and not yet over the Danube (with another 5,500 men) to hurry forward to join him.

His personal reconnaissance of the field in front of Ulm showed that the key to the position was the village of Jungingen, to the west of Haslach. If the Austrians were to seize this village first, they could use it from which to launch a flanking attack along a corridor between a large wood (the Groschen Gehr) and a stream. So it was vital that he secure this village first and fortify it. He also had all of his infantry detach their elite companies to form a special assault battalion of 456 grenadiers and carabiniers under chef de battalion Decouchy, a trusted officer from his own staff. This special, well-drilled team hustled forward to seize and fortify the village, with the central, stone church as its fort and base. Of course, the village was far away (about 3 km) and Dupont realized he couldn't isolate these elite troops, so he also sent four battalions of the 9e Legere (Light) and 96e Ligne (Line) in columns of attack to support them from the rear. This strong point defense was a tactic the French had practiced in war games repeatedly the previous two years. They knew it by heart.

On his right, between the two woods of the Groschen Gehr and the Kleinen Gehr, Dupont had Gen. Louis Sahuc's brigade of cavalry (600 troopers of the 15e and 17e Dragons) positioned in support of his vulnerable right wing and of the infantry moving forward to Jungingen. Sahuc had been lent from Broucier's 4th Dragoon Division by Murat. And his help would be more than appreciated during the next couple of hours.

Meanwhile, Dupont had what was left of his infantry, the two battalions of the 32nd Ligne, deploy into line on a ridge in front of Haslach, with a battery of six guns on the ridge face to their front. To their left rear he hid the 1st Hussars and a section of horse artillery in dead ground (both to protect them from enemy artillery fire and act as an ambush on the flank of any attack). Of course this deployment was not intended to defend the village of Haslach. French doctrine at the time dictated that to defend a village you put a small force inside it and a strong, counter-attacking force in attack column to its rear (as was being done over at Jungingen). The purpose of the 32nd extended in line in plain view was to act as a bluff, masking the weakness of Dupont's true force.

The Problem From Mack's Point of View

It must have worked. Standing on top of the parapets on the Michelsberg redoubt (the highest point on the battlefield), Mack could not make out what was beyond Haslach. For all he knew, Ney's entire corps, or even Murat's and Lannes', could be stacked up back there. Mack had overwhelming superiority in infantry deploying on the plain; had he known this he could have just marched over the two lone French battalions he could see. But he couldn't see. If he had been playing this as a board wargame, able to see all of of Dupont's puny little markers at once, he would not have hesitated. But that is the problem with board wargames, they don't show what the eyewitnesses could actually see on the ground, even from a high hill. And the French in front of Haslach were so far away from the Michelsberg (over 3,000 meters) that it was hard to make out the size of the force.

Mack, though, also recognized the importance of the village of Jungingen as the key to the position, and that he'd have to take it first before launching an enveloping attack on Dupont's right flank. As a tactician, Mack was more astute than as a strategist. So he had all of his cavalry under Feldmarshcall-Leutnant (Lieutenant General) Schwarzenberg (3,200 cuirassiers and chevaulegers) and eleven battalions of infantry under his erstwhile "commander" Ferdinand deploy opposite Jungingen. He also supported them with a cavalry battery of four guns and two howitzers.

The French way to have taken this village would have been to send in infantry in attack columns, preceded by skirmishers to brush away the enemy skirmishers. These would have been supported by cavalry flanking the village and ready to attack the enemy infantry behind the village and sweep up the retreating defenders. All of this would have been supported by the artillery, which would be used in close fire support to blast into the fortified strong points. That is the way a 19th century commander would have done it.

But Mack was an 18th century commander, as were his subordinates. There was no concept of integrated, combined arms. Infantry regiments did their thing. Cavalry did theirs. And the artillery did its own thing. The idea of working together was as foreign as the French Revolution.

The Austrian Infantry Go In

So, taking about an hour and a half to get all lined up, the Austrian attack began piecemeal at about 14:30 with the advance of the Ludwig #8 and the Kaunitz #20 infantry regiments charging into the town. There was no cavalry or artillery to help them. And they apparently didn't use skirmishers to scout their advance. (See first map at the top of this post.)

At first these six battalions had no trouble pushing back the French skirmishers in the gardens on the edge of the village. But when they got to the center of town, they ran into concentrated fire from the French grenadiers in the stone church. Several times the Austrians assaulted the doors of this church and were mowed down. The French had done too good a job in the hour-and-a-half fortifying the place. When the firing got good and hot inside the village, this was a signal for the two battalions of the 9e Legere waiting just outside to charge in with bayonets and take the disordered Austrians in flank. The white coats either fled or were cut down. But 2,000 of them just threw down their muskets and put up their hands.

Unlike the French, these Austrian infantrymen were largely untrained troops. Most of them had never fired a musket before this battle. They were mostly peasants and laborers, drafted into the oligarchs' army and (at least in 1805) having no patriotic fervor for the war.  In fact, the Kaunitz #20 regiment was composed of reluctant conscripts from Galicia and had disgraced themselves a couple days before at  the Battle of Günzburg. Moreover, in their newly formed battalions and companies, these men had few officers and NCOs to rally or lead them. With the huge number of these soldiers so ready to surrender in this early battle, one has to wonder if, at this stage of the Napoleonic Wars, were they predisposed to give up to these Republicans, these men who were supposedly fighting for the rights of common men just like themselves?  Napoleon was reportedly liberating people all over Europe, setting up democratic republics in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. All the young peasants of the Austrian Army were doing was fighting for a system that continued to oppress them and deny them their rights. So why wouldn't they have "defected" the first chance they got?

But this is just my "lefty" speculation. I am a confessed Bonapartist, after all.

Ferdinand, seeing the annhilation of his first wave in less than 45 minutes, now sent in his second wave about 15:15; the Wallis #11 and Froon #34 regiments. Like the first assault, this one went in without cavalry or artillery support. One wonders what would have happened had they been able to at least take in a couple of the guns sitting idly by the cavalry regiments. They could have blasted the stubborn church doors to splinters and slaughtered the Frenchmen inside. But like the first assault, these infantrymen didn't have any artillery to help them. So they suffered the same fate as the previous attack. And surrendered in droves (another 2,000 bagged by the French).

This phase of the battle was over in a little over an hour after it had begun. All eleven Austrian battalions had been destroyed; either killed, wounded or captured. And the French still held the village.

Second Austrian attack on Jungingen Village, from 15:15-15:45.

Mack Leads a Cavalry Charge
Now Mack, who had been sitting over on the left with Schwarzenberg and presumably watching this fiasco, finally decided to launch a cavalry charge. The 3,200 horsemen lumbered forward, past the village and onto the 1st battalion of the 96e Ligne, who had formed themselves into square to the north of Jungingen. The 9e Legere (those who weren't escorting the thousands of Austrian prisoners to the rear, that is), meanwhile, had arrayed themselves along the north edge of the village and were able to rake the Austrian cavalry in flank from behind the walls and hedges. The Austrians charged the exposed square of the 96th again and again, but each time were decimated by the disciplined fire from the French infantry. Again, the cavalry battery that had been attached to the Austrian horse would have been of invaluable service, blasting apart the densely packed infantry in square. But it didn't. One wonders what on earth it was doing all this time.

During one of these fruitless charges, Mack himself was wounded in the thigh by a bullet and had to be taken from the field. But Schwarzenberg persisted. Honor was at stake. And the French square was starting to waver.

But just then, the cavalry came to the rescue. Literally.

Sahuc, seeing the Austrian cavalry coming on past Jungingen in a huge wave onto the lone infantry square, charged the three thousand Austrians with his six-hundred dragoons. At first the disordered Austrians gave way, but subsequent regiments (Mack #6 Kuirassier and Albert #3 Kuirassier) overwhelmed the six hundred and drove them back, capturing the eagle and guidon of the 15th Dragoons in the process. The outnumbered French horsemen did manage to give cover to their infantry in and around Jungingen to make good their own escape. The dragoons had done their job. And now they, too, fell back toward Haslach.

First Austrian Cavalry Attack: 16:00-16:30, with Sahuc's counterattack


 Austrian Cuirassiers drive Sahuc's dragoons back. French begin to withdraw from Jungingen: 16:30-17:00


The Austrian Cavalry Goes On A Panty Raid


The Austrian cavalry now had a golden opportunity. The village of Jungingen was theirs (by virtue of it having been abandoned by the French). The French were in retreat. All they had to do was press the retreating troops and pitch into the French exposed flank at Haslach. It was the moment of crisis for Dupont. But greed came to his rescue.

It was at this crucial moment that the victorious Austrian horsemen, not seeing their way clear to win the battle but, instead, to the shopping bazaar that beckoned in the form of the French baggage park a couple of miles behind the French lines, now took themselves out of the battle and went on a looting party. They galloped away from the battle and fell on the defenseless drivers, cooks, and sutlers and helped themselves to all the juicy goodies in the French camp. While the men of the 1st Division may have been furious at the murder of their non-combatants and the loss of some bread, their bacon was saved by this act of gross indiscipline.

Like the  infantry, the Austrian cavalry at this stage of the wars, while reputed to be the best in Europe, was still composed primarily of barely trained farm boys, recruited for their ability to ride a horse, not to be soldiers. And like the infantry, the Austrian officer corps in the cavalry was just as amateurish and careless with training and discipline. To be an Austrian cavalry officer was a thing of fashionable prestige, not considered with conscientious professionalism.

This tendency, too, of the cavalry to reward itself with a looting expedition after an initial success had been a time-honored tradition of that arm ever since humans learned to sit on a horse. It continued even into the next century. Remember the notorious AWOL  of J.E.B. Stuart during the Gettysburg campaign when he decided to take his cavalry on a raiding expedition just when Lee needed him to reconnoiter the disposition of Meade's army. This indiscipline of cavalry is probably what saved the Union. And it certainly saved the French in this battle

Night Comes at Last


The fight for Jungingen village was over by 17:00 and both sides lost. Or at least, the French succeeded in neutralizing the threat from that flank by virtually annihilating all the infantry battalions on that flank and seeing the cavalry off to more enticing pursuits.

For the right hand column of the Austrian force, 26 battalions under FMLs Reisch and Werneck, the battle didn't get underway until everything was done over on the left. While they have been also criticized by military historians for their tardiness in joining the battle, the two Austrian generals were merely acting with just prudence. They were undoubtedly waiting to see what the decision around Jungingen would be, and once they saw the French cavalry and infantry retreating from that village, they saw it was safe to launch their own probing attack on Haslach. Reisch got his own attack underway with his 12 battalions of regiments Reise #15, Reusse-Plauen #17, Stuart #18, and Kolowrat #36. Werneck held his 14 battalions back in reserve. Reisch moved cautiously, not sure what was behind the ridge in from of Haslach.

Reisch's battalions were the only Austrian infantry on the field that day supported by artillery. Normally, Austrian practice assigned two six-pounder guns to each battalion as close artillery support. But though Mack had at his disposal over 130 guns in the immediate vicinity, all but 30 of them were left in the fortifications on the Michelsberg and in front of Ulm.

The reason was, according to Mack, that there were not enough horses to move them. This was probably because, though the Austrian artillery had once militarized its transport, as all other powers had during the 18th century, in 1772 the new director of that arm, Franz Kinsky, had demilitarized it and reverted to the old system of employing non-combatant, civilian contractors to pull the guns to the battlefield. I'm sure there was some corruption involved, as there always seemed to be with civilian contractors and government authorities. But by 1805, the re-militarization of artillery transport was one of Archduke Charles' reforms that Mack had neglected to enact. So the likelihood was that once all of Mack's artillery had been pulled to Ulm, the civilian contractors probably went home. Or maybe they went home after they realized they were going to be paid in the old, obsolete currency.

Mack claimed it was because of the poor health of his horses. Hmm.

At any rate, only Reisch's column seemed to have battalion artillery with it. It was something the left hand columns earlier could have used.

While Dupont's six guns pounded the oncoming Austrian columns, he had the 383 men of the 1st Hussars swing east and charge the Austrians, hitting Kolowrat #36 in the right flank. Simultaneously, he unleashed the two battalions of the 32nd Ligne, close supported by the two horse artillery 8 pdrs, who unlimbered on the flank of the struggling columns of Reuss-Plauen #17 and fired canister rounds obliquely into them. Reisch's entire first line crumbled and retreated back through the second line, leaving a couple of guns in their wake.

At about 17:00 Reisch's column begins its attack on Haslach.


Rallying behind the second line regiments (Stuart #18 and Reise #15), Reisch prepared for a second attack, this time fanning out all twelve of his battalions to take advantage of his superior strength by enveloping the two French battalions. At 17:30 he launched his second charge. He had a better idea of the weakness of the French line now and this attack was pressed more vigorously.

Dupont, having had his bluff tipped, had exposed his true weakness. He realized he had to get his division out of there now and began a fighting withdrawal.

To extricate his division safely, he tasked Rouvillois and the 1st Hussars with making harassing flank attacks, forcing the Austrians to form square and slow their advance while the French infantry and artillery made their ordered escape. This slow retrograde movement went on until sunset (about 18:42 hours) when darkness veiled the retreating French. At no time did their ranks break. All guns accounted for, all 4,000 Austrian prisoners secured, and everyone who wasn't killed made it safely back to their morning's camp at Albeck, about 4 km behind Haslach.

Reisch, at this point, stopped his own attack, still not sure what lay beyond in the darkness.

So? Who Won?

The Austrians, according to the rules of 18th century warfare, technically won the battle since they retained possession of the field and forced the enemy to retreat. But the cost to them was high. Over 4,000 prisoners fell into the French hands and they lost over 400 killed and 1,100 wounded. All eleven infantry battalions of the left wing had, in effect, been annihilated. This meant that they had lost, of their original 25,000, 22% of their force. And their cavalry, with their disgraceful behavior in going AWOL at the height of the battle when it could have been won decisively, had lost all confidence from their officers. And besides the casualty disparity, the French should rightly be considered the winners because they, by their lonesome, stopped the whole Austrian army from escaping from Ulm.

The French, for their part, also paid a high price for their heroic stand, losing about 1,000 men killed and wounded, including the defenseless drivers and cooks of their looted camp, or  19% of the total force. But considering the odds against them were almost five to one, the relative losses were far less. The French had accounted for over 106% of their committed forces in enemy casualties, the Austrians, 4%.

Strategically, the battle was a huge defeat for Mack. Already reeling from the lost battles at Wertingen and Gunzburg in the days before, and in the increasingly hopeless situation that the Grande Armée had put him in Ulm, Mack cancelled his attempted breakout along the north bank of the Danube for a day, and, as it would unfold, forever. Resigning himself to hole up in his tower like a damsel in distress, waiting for the Russians to rescue him, Mack (now physically wounded as well) seemed to give up.

Ferdinand and the other commanders, though, were not so easily defeated. On their own they began to take their individual commands and attempted to break out. On the 13th Reisch took his intact division and marched them up to Elchingen, about 12 km downriver from Ulm, with the object of blocking a French recrossing of the Danube and holding the door open for the rest of the Austrian army to escape.

But on the 14th, under direct orders from Napoleon, Ney enthusiastically recrossed to the north bank at Elchingen with the rest of his corps and amazingly routed Reisch's infantry, which was holding the high ground, dominating the river crossing, and ensconced in a fortified monastery. It was the last, humiliating defeat for the Austrians. (See my post on this battle.)

With the French noose tightening (the "impregnable" Michelsberg fort above Ulm having been stormed on the 15th and a bombardment of the city itself begun on the 16th), Mack sued for an armistice until the 25th, with the condition that he would surrender his entire army in the event that Russians didn't show up. Napoleon agreed, knowing from his own cavalry intelligence that the Russians were so far to the east that they could not possibly show up until sometime in November.

Ferdinand would have none of it and escaped with 6,000 cavalry. Abandoned by his titular  "commander-in-chief", a despondent Mack, not waiting any longer for his Russian heroes to save him, signaled his formal surrender five days before the armistice was set to expire, on the 20th. The scene has been painted by several artists; 23,000 surviving Austrians of the original 72,000 that had invaded Bavaria six weeks before marched out of Ulm and laid their arms and flags in heaps before their conquerors on the Michelsberg. A gaggle of parrot-feathered Austrian generals was presented to Napoleon. It was at that point that the Emperor wanted to know which one of them was Mack, whereupon (according to anecdote) the dejected little man raised his hand and said he was the "unfortunate" one. You had to feel sorry for him.

They Were Both "Unfortunate"

After Austerlitz Mack was returned to Austria where he was court-martialed for cowardice by the Hofkreigsrat, stripped of all his titles and medals, and imprisoned for two years, until, he was let out again in 1808. After Waterloo, the victorious Austrians felt magnanimous and under Prince Schwarzenberg's lobbying, he was reinstated as a Field Marshal and all his honors restored, outliving Napoleon by 19 years. So there.

As a kind of karmic counterpost, General Dupont, in spite of an illustrious career, was disgraced himself in 1808 in Spain when he was put in command of a mob of untrained conscripts and forced to surrender at the Battle of Bailen to a superior Spanish army. Napoleon was so disgusted that he had the general court-martialed. stripped of his rank, and imprisoned from 1812-1814. So both Mack and Dupont ended up "unfortunate."

Another curious factoid about General Dupont is that he was involved in a notorious, 19-year duel/feud with another officer, a captain of hussars (and homicidal maniac), Fournier-Sarlovèze, that had started over a slight matter of honor. This famous, long duel became the basis of Joseph Conrad's short story, The Duel in 1908, and Ridley Scott's first feature-length movie, The Duelists in 1977. The final climax of both Conrad's story, and Scott's movie, very much paralleled the narrative of the Battle of Haslach-Jungingen. I don't know about you, but I love obscure links like that.


Wargame Considerations


This would be hard battle to wargame since, unless the dice were stacked against the Austrian player, his overwhelming numbers should easily overrun the few French markers. In reality, it was a near-run thing for Dupont, who wasn't sure he would survive the day. The right hand Austrian forces under Reisch (supported by Wernek) were enjoying some success at the end. And, had they been handled properly, the left wing force under Ferdinand and Schwarzenberg, could have also overwhelmed the French at Jungingen. I personally hate wargame rules that stack the deck with artificial hinderances to the side that historically lost. You learn nothing that way. And no one wants to take the loser's side. Might as well toss a coin and go for a beer.

But I have some suggestions on how to make a wargame of Haslach-Jungingen more interesting:


1. Hidden French Forces
Since Mack and the Austrians were not sure what power lay behind Dupont's division from what they could see through their telescopes, one could provide for as much as Ney's entire corps in the French OOB. Assuming Murat had seen the logic in Ney's argument of keeping all three of his divisions and cavalry on the left bank of the Danube, the French player could keep the markers of each division, including Baraguey d'Hillier's dismounted dragoon division, in little piles of reserve. At designated turns in the game, he would be allowed to roll for the appearance of each division, keeping himself and the Austrian player guessing as to when they'd show up (if ever). I have included the orders of battle for the rest of Ney's corps as well as Barageuy's dragoons below for those who want to use this option.


2. Combat Efficiency and Morale
Since, in reality, the French forces were at their peak proficiency at this stage of the Napoleonic Wars, and the Austrians were going through a painful growth spurt in their reforms, it would be appropriate to rate their combat efficiencies (in whatever way your game system does that) differently. This is not an artificial hindrance, it only reflects reality.

In my own system, I rate all the French at 95%+, regardless of whether they are "elite" or "line." And I rate the Austrians at 75-85%, or what some might call "green" or "militia" since they had had only minimal training to prepare for this war ("You go to war with the army you have," as was glibly said by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld).

Likewise, the morale of each side would be at a different level. The Austrian troops, as well their company and battalion grade officers, were not well practiced in their new formations. And they weren't sure about the judgment of their commanders (who, some-who-shall-remain-nameless, were not sure of their own judgment themselves). This would have taken a marked tax on their own spirit. The French, on the other hand, had been training for this moment for two years and were itching to prove what they could do, so their morale would have been high, in spite of their realization that they were outnumbered.

3. The Weather
It had been snowing for over a week. So we can assume the ground was covered in snow. There would have been days of intermittent rain and sleet, as well, so the ground was probably muddy, or at least slushy. This would have had an effect not just on troop movement, but on the efficacy of artillery, particularly roundshot, which depends on hard ground to extend its range through ricochet. Shells, too, would have had a tendency to bury themselves in the muddy, snowy ground, minimizing their blast radius.

In a wargame, then, I would reduce the artillery power and range by half, except for canister fire. The guns accompanying the troops would have been best used as close-support weapons (gigantic shotguns) for the infantry.


4. Victorious Cavalry Losing Control
We've seen where the Austrian cavalry did pretty well in combat (when they finally got moving). They had been considered the best in Europe at the time. But we also saw how, once they'd won their local battle against Sahuc's dragoons, they turned into a mob and decided to reward themselves with a raid up north to the French baggage train. They were in such disorder, in fact, that when Baraguey showed up with his advanced guard of only 60 mounted dragoons, he was able to disperse and capture hundreds of them.

To reflect this in a simulation, then, I would roll for order at the conclusion of each fight, regardless of whether which side won. If order is lost (whatever test you use; dice, randomizing algorithm, etc.) that marker is either flipped as disordered or taken of the board entirely. Of course, this test should apply fairly on both sides, not just the Austrian. But with the French rated at higher combat efficiency levels, they should be able to pass such a control test.

I apply this post-victory cohesion test in all of my battle games (both cavalry and infantry). Human nature is such that when one side wins in a close combat, there is an overwhelming urge to chase after the fleeing troops and loot his camp. One military historian (it might have been Paddy Griffith) describes the behavior as "flight forward". So the notion in wargames where the side that loses a close combat (vs a fire combat) and is eliminated or forced to retreat while nothing happens to the victorious marker seems unrealistic. Both sides should test their cohesion. Greater discipline is what prevents this from happening.

Cavalry is particularly prone to this "flight forward" since it is already moving forward at great speed, and for the herd instinct of horses. If one of more horses start galloping in a direction, they all do, and it is very difficult to get them under control. The troopers, if they are not trained, will just hang on for the ride.

Orders of Battle


The following orders of battle come primarily from Scott Bowden's excellent study of this campaign, Napoleon and Austerlitz. The French strength numbers are precise, coming from recovered records of parade states either on 11 October (Dupont's forces) or 23 September (for the rest of Ney's corps). The Austrian numbers are less precise and estimated in round numbers.


  Austrians

 

 
Coat Color Facings Notes Strength Guns Zugen Equipment
Mack     24,782 30    
Archduke Ferdinand   Left Column 5,700 0    
#8 Erz. Ludwig / 1st bn 8.1   600   4 Flintlock
#8 Erz. Ludwig / 2nd bn 8.2   600   4 Flintlock
#8 Erz. Ludwig / 3rd bn 8.3   600   4 Flintlock
#11 Wallis / 1st bn 11.1   600   4 Flintlock
#11 Wallis / 2nd bn 11.2   600   4 Flintlock
#20 Kaunitz / 1st bn 20.1 This regiment suffered heavily two days before at Gunzburg 300   4 Flintlock
#20 Kaunitz / 2nd bn 20.2   300   4 Flintlock
#20 Kaunitz / 3rd bn 20.3   300   4 Flintlock
#54 Froon / 1st bn 54.1   600   4 Flintlock
#54 Froon / 2nd bn 54.2   600   4 Flintlock
#54 Froon / Grenadier Bn 54 G   600   4 Flintlock
FML Schwarzenberg   Left Column 3,242 6    
Kuirassiers #3 Erz Albert   Two Sqns mauled at Wertingen 3 days before 570   12 Flintlock
Kuirassiers #6 Mack     900   12 Flintlock
Chevauleger #4 Latour   Two Sqns mauled at Wertingen 3 days before 800   12 Flintlock
Chevauleger #6 Rosenberg     900   2 Flintlock
Cavalry Battery   50 4 2 6 pdrs
      22 2 1 7 Pdr How
FML Riesch   Right Column 7,440 24    
#15 Riese / 1st bn 15.1   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#15 Riese / 2nd bn 15.2   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#15 Riese / 3rd bn 15.3   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#17 Reuss-Plauen / 1st bn 17.1   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#17 Reuss-Plauen / 2nd bn 17.2   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#17 Reuss-Plauen / 3rd bn 17.3   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#18 Stuart / 1st bn 18.1   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#18 Stuart / 2nd bn 18.2   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#18 Stuart / 3rd bn 18.2   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#36 Kolowrat / 1st bn 36.1   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#36 Kolowrat / 2nd bn 36.2   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
#36 Kolowrat / 3rd bn 36.3   600   4 Flintlock
6 pdr     20 2 2 6 pdrs
FML Werneck   Right Column, Second Line, (not engaged) 8,400 0    
#12 Manfredi / 1st bn 12.1   600   4 Flintlock
#12 Manfredi / 2nd bn 12.2   600   4 Flintlock
#12 Manfredi / 3rd bn 12.3   600   4 Flintlock
#12 Manfredi / 4th bn 12.4   600   4 Flintlock
#12 Manfredi / Grenadier Bn 12 G By "Grendier Bn" it was composed of 2 grenadier companies and 2 fusilier companies. 600   4 Flintlock
#24 Auersperg / 1st bn 24.1   600   4 Flintlock
#24 Auersperg / 2nd bn 24.1   600   4 Flintlock
#24 Auersperg / 3rd bn 24.1   600   4 Flintlock
#24 Auersperg / 4th bn 24.1   600   4 Flintlock
#24 Auersperg / Grenadier Bn 24 G see above 600   4 Flintlock
#42 Erbach / 1st bn 42.1   600   4 Flintlock
#42 Erbach / 2nd bn 42.2   600   4 Flintlock
#42 Erbach / 3rd bn 42.3   600   4 Flintlock
#42 Erbach / Grenadier bn 42 G see above 600   4 Flintlock

French

Coat Color Facings Notes Strength Guns Coys Equipment
Dupont, 1e Div

 
  5,233 8    
Rouyer   Behind Jungingen 1,118      
9e Legere / 1 9.1   559   8 Flintlock
9e Legere / 2 9.2   559   8 Flintlock
Decouchy   Fortified in church in Jungingen 456      
Combined Grenadiers G   456   6 Flintlock
Barrois   Behind 9e Legere 1,295      
96e Ligne / 1 96.1   648   8 Flintlock
96e Ligne / 2 96.2   647   8 Flintlock
Marchand   In line in front of Haslach 1,235      
32e Ligne / 1 32.1   618   8 Flintlock
32e Ligne / 2 32.2   617   8 Flintlock
1e Artillerie a Pied / 5



 
In front of Haslach 146 8    
12 Pdr 1.1   16 1 1 12 pdrs
8 pdrs 1.2   57 2 1 8 pdrs
4 pdrs 1.3   16 2 1 4 pdrs
Howitzer 1.4   18 1 1 Howitzers
2e Art a Chv / 1 2.1   39 2 1 8 pdrs
Rouvillois   To right rear of 32e Ligne 383 0    
1e Hussards / 1e sdn 1 H 1   127   2 Flintlock
1e Hussards / 2e sdn 1 H 2   128   2 Flintlock
1e Hussards / 3e sdn 1 H 3   128   2 Flintlock
Sahuc   Between Groscher Gehr and Kleine Gehr, behind 96e Ligne 600      
15e Dragons / 1 15.1   94   2 Flintlock
15e Dragons / 2 15.2   95   2 Flintlock
15e Dragons / 3 15.3   94   2 Flintlock
17e Dragons / 1 17.1   106   2 Flintlock
17e Dragons / 2 17.2   105   2 Flintlock
17e Dragons / 3 17.3   106   2 Flintlock
Baraguey d'Hilliers  A few miles behind Haslach, marching to support Dupont 5,577 12    
Lesuire     2,638      
1e Dragons a Pied / 1 1.1   585   8 Flintlock
1e Dragons a Pied / 2 1.2   585   8 Flintlock
2e Dragons a Pied / 1 2.1   734   8 Flintlock
2e Dragons a Pied / 2 2.2   734   8 Flintlock
Brouard     2,939      
3e Dragons a Pied / 1 3.1   885   8 Flintlock
3e Dragons a Pied / 2 3.2   885   8 Flintlock
4e Dragons a Pied / 1 4.1   584   8 Flintlock
4e Dragons a Pied / 2 4.2   585   8 Flintlock
The rest of Ney's corps was not in the battle. But for those wargamers who want to play a "what if", I've included the OOB for the entire VI Corps.            
Ney / VI Corps   On the right bank of the Danube. Not in the historical battle. 13,930 36    
Loison / 2e Div     6,934 6    
Villatte     3,361      
6e Legere / 1 6.1   864   9 Flintlock
6e Legere / 2 6.2   864   9 Flintlock
39e Ligne / 1 39.1   816   9 Flintlock
39e Ligne / 2 39.2   817   9 Flintlock
Rouget     3,487      
69e Ligne / 1 69.1   849   9 Flintlock
69e Ligne / 1 69.2   849   9 Flintlock
76e Ligne / 1 76.1   894   9 Flintlock
76e Ligne / 2 76.2   895   9 Flintlock
2e Div Art     86 6    
2e Art. a Chv / 2     15 1 1 4 pdrs
Howitzer     15 1 1 Howitzers
1e Artillerie a Pied / 4     42 3 1 8 pdrs
Howitzer     14 1 1 Howitzers
Malher / 3e Div     6,120 6    
Marcognet     2,887      
25e Legere / 1 25.1   770   9 Flintlock
25e Legere / 2 25.2   770   9 Flintlock
27e Ligne / 1 27.1   673   9 Flintlock
27e Ligne / 2 27.2   674   9 Flintlock
Labasse     3,168      
50e Ligne / 1 50.1   774   9 Flintlock
50e Ligne / 1 50.2   773   9 Flintlock
59e Ligne / 1 59.1   810   9 Flintlock
59e Ligne / 2 59.2   811   9 Flintlock
3e Div Art     65 6    
1e Artillerie a Pied / 3     42 4 1 8 pdrs
12 Pdr     13 1 1 12 pdrs
Howitzer     10 1 1 Howitzers
Colbert / Chv Div     696 12    
3e Hussards / 1e sdn 3 H 1   114   2 Flintlock
3e Hussards / 2e sdn 3 H 2   114   2 Flintlock
3e Hussards / 3e sdn 3 H 3   114   2 Flintlock
10e Ch-a-Chv / 1e sdn 10 CC 1   118   2 Flintlock
10e Ch-a-Chv / 2e sdn 10 CC 2   118   2 Flintlock
10e Ch-a-Chv / 3e sdn 10 CC 3   118   2 Flintlock
VI Corps Art. de Res.   180 12    
1e Regt Artillerie a Pied / 1     45 3 1 8 pdrs
12 Pdr     30 2 1 12 pdrs
Howitzer     30 2 1 Howitzers
1e Regt Artillerie a Pied / 2     45 3 1 8 pdrs
12 Pdr     15 1 1 12 pdrs
Howitzer     15 1 1 Howitzers

References

Bowden, Scott, Napoleon and Austerlitz, The Emperor's Press, 1997, ISBN 0962665576

Duffy, Christopher, Austerlitz 1805, Seeley Service, 1977, ISBN 085422128X

Esposito, Vincent & Elting, John, A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars, Greenhill Books, 1999, ISBN 1853673463

Nosworthy, Brent, With Musket, Cannon and Sword: Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies, Sarpedon, NY, 1996, ISBN 1-885119-27-5

Griffith, Paddy, French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics, 1792-1815, Osprey Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84603-278-3

Muir, Rory, Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon, Yale University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-300-07385-2

Online Links:

http://www.miniatures.de/affaire-haslach-jungingen-1805-jungingen.html 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Haslach-Jungingen 




© Copyright 2013, Jeffery P. Berry Trust, all rights reserved. No part of this post may be used for republication or re-posting without documented permission of the Jeffery P. Berry Trust. However, feel free to link to this site as a resource from related sites.

1 comment:

  1. That was frigging excellent.
    thank you.
    I will be enjoying the remainder of your work.

    ReplyDelete