The fourth volume of a major work on warfare in the Napoleonic age
The author of this substantial multi-volume history, Theodore A Dodge, was not only an historian of stature and note but also a soldier. He wrote several well regarded histories of the campaigns and battles of the Civil War and other works of military history. Perhaps his most outstanding achievement was a series of books, published under the umbrella title ‘the Art of War,’ focusing on different historical periods as typified by their most notable military commanders—including the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal and Caesar in the ancient world and the wars of the 17th and 18th century as fought by great captains including Gustavus Adolphus, Frederick and Marlborough. This volume is part of his in depth study of the Napoleonic period, which in its entirety was comprised of four huge volumes that benefited from the inclusion of almost 800 small scale uniform drawings, portraits of notable personalities and numerous theatre, campaign and battlefield maps. This retitled Leonaur edition has been revised to form volumes of approximately equal size reformatted to enable us to enlarge all the illustrations and maps for the benefit of the reader. This series is an excellent history of the campaigns and battles of the Napoleonic Age but it goes far beyond the historical record. Dodge critically examines the strategies and tactics of all the military commanders in such a clear and authoritative manner that the student of military history can clearly understand the errors of those about to suffer defeat and the expertise—or in the case of Napoleon Bonaparte, the military genius—of the victors. This is an invaluable guide to warfare in the age of Napoleon and is highly recommended.
The War of the Fifth Coalition, covered in this fourth volume, describes the battles fought at Ratisbon, Abensberg, Eckmuhl, Aspern-Essling, Znaim and Wagram. The tide of war in the Iberian peninsula continued to turn against the French in favour of Britain and its Spanish and Portuguese Allies who were mostly victorious at Oporto, Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes d’Onoro, Albuera and Badajoz. In 1812 the Emperor Napoleon would undertake his most ambitious military enterprise and his greatest folly—the invasion of Russia by an enormous Grand Army,very few of whom would survive the ordeal.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
As a first step, to further attract the enemy’s attention, on June 30, in an hour and a half, Massena under cover of his guns threw a bridge at the old Essling location, and putting over Legrand’s division, pushed back the Austrian outposts, and began a trestle bridge. The weak opposition convinced Napoleon that he might now succeed at this place by the manoeuvre which had failed in May. On July 2 an Austrian detachment was driven from the Mill island by Massena and a pontoon bridge thrown. This activity led Charles to look for a new crossing opposite Aspern and Essling, and he hoped, as before, to attack the French when half over. The space between the two villages was strengthened by breastworks and palisades, with a hundred and fifty guns; but only Klenau was watching the island. Had Charles expected a crossing south of Enzersdorf, he would not have strung out his army from the Bisamberg to Glinzendorf; for in his great work on Tactics he selected the Wagram plateau as a typical place to defend a river.<br>
The Army of Germany, preparing for battle, on July 1 lay as follows:<br>
Headquarters and the Guard were in Vienna.<br>
In the north part of Lobau stood Massena with Legrand, St. Cyr, Molitor, Boudet; and Lasalle’s light horse division, then at Raab, was ordered up for the battle. In the south part was Oudinot, with Tharreau, Claparède and Grandjean. On the right bank Davout’s divisions, Morand, Friant, Gudin, Puthod, were all near Vienna. For the battle he was to have Montbrun’s light horse and Pully’s from the Array of Italy. Near Raab were Eugene’s divisions, Macdonald, Grenier and Baraguey d’Hilliers, the last of which was to remain opposite Presburg. Marmont’s divisions, Montrichard and Clausel, were on the way from Grätz.<br>
At Linz was Lefebvre with the crown prince, Deroy and Wrede, of whom only Wrede got up to the battle. Vandamme came on to Vienna so as to relieve the Guard. Bernadotte, with the Saxons and Dupas, was at St, Pölten. Bessières, with the cavalry of Nansouty, St. Sulpice and Arrighi, was near Vienna.<br>
A force of over two hundred thousand men was thus ready to take part in the battle of Wagram.<br>
On July 1 Napoleon left Schönbrunn for headquarters under canvas at the outlet of the bridges in Lobau. Here in the night of July 2-3 he prepared in his most careful manner his Orders for the Passage of the Danube. There was to be no mistake on this occasion. On the 4th Oudinot was to cross through the Hansel Grund to the plain, posting a division at Mühlleuten, with a second in support. As soon as the artillery fire was heard, the five bridges of the Alexander island were to be thrown, and the crossing was to begin, Massena and Davout leading, Bernadotte, Eugene, Marmont and the Guard in second line, Bessières in third. During the crossing the emperor was to remain on the Alexander island.<br>
Early July 3, from the Mill island, Napoleon scanned the terrain out towards Essling, and having suggested some change in the defences, rode back to the south bank and issued the orders for all troops to move over into Lobau: the Guard to start at 8.30 p.m., and Bernadotte three hours later; Bessières to start at 4 p.m. of the 4th, and at 8 p.m. Davout; Eugene was to follow at daybreak of July 5; Marmont and Wrede whenever they arrived. Montbrun’s and Lasalle’s horse, the hospital and commissary train were to use the hours of the night. All troops were to move, and by daylight of the 5th, the Army of Germany was to have debouched upon the plain south of Enzersdorf, ready to advance on the enemy.<br>
The night of July 4-5 was dark and. tempestuous. Some voltigeur battalions having been rowed over into the Hansel Grand to form the van, and the boat bridge having been thrown, Oudinot crossed thither before midnight, and, debouching by his three smaller bridges, deployed on Mühlleuten. So soon as Oudinot was across, the other pontoon bridges were thrown under cover of a continuous artillery fire, mainly directed against Enzersdorf, which was soon set on fire by the shells, and lighted up the scene. Six bridges, thrown in a couple of hours, were next ready. The main boat bridge was so contrived that the hither end was fastened in place, and so soon as the farther end, which was anchored along shore and upstream, was released, the current threw it into position across the river. By 2 a.m. of the 5th the troops began to cross. The emperor was everywhere, as of old, encouraging the pontoniers of this bridge, and hurrying forward the troops on that, until the army was well started, when he snatched a short sleep while the divisions filed into place on the other side. Everything went well except for an unusual error of Berthier’s. Davout was to form the right flank, Oudinot the centre; but Berthier arranged for Davout to cross on the centre bridges, while Oudinot was passing through the Hansel Grund, and Davout had to file across Oudinot’s front. <br>
By 4.30 a.m., Massena stood with the left leaning on the Danube, opposite the northern point of the Alexander island; and Legrand’s division, which, with Reynier in support, had faced the Austrian van under Klenau at the old crossing, here joined him. Having marched over the lower Alexander bridge, Davout drew up with his right on Wittau. Only Nordmann’s light division, sustained by horse, disputed the passage, and this was quickly brushed away. After the all night’s tempest, the day opened fine and clear, and at 8 a.m. Oudinot came up so as to deploy between Massena and Davout. Everything had moved smoothly: the archduke had for some days been misled by Legrand’s appearance on the old battle-ground, and on July 1 had advanced on Aspern and Essling, sending a strong corps out as a flying wing to Wittau; but two days later, as no further French operations were perceived, these latter troops were called in; and while Napoleon was debouching from Lobau, the Austrian army was still in position back of the Russbach, extending out its right to the Bisamberg.