1809 Thunder on the Danube
By John Gill
1809 campaign along the Danube is one of my favourite parts of
the Napoleonic Era and so I have been savouring John Gill's wonderful
study of the mighty clash of arms.
begins by looking at the causes of renewed conflict between Habsburg
Austria and Napoleonic France.
1807, many in Austria were seething at the situation their empire
found itself in.
had been beaten three times by revolutionary and Napoleonic France
in 1797, 1800 and 1805. Prussia was crushed, Russia was allied
with the hated Napoleon and Austria was impotent to strike back.
its new Foreign Minister Graf Johann Phillip Stadion was determined
to bide time, build up an army and put together another coalition
to take down Napoleon Bonaparte.
1808 Austrian hopes began to rise as the French difficulties in
the Peninsular War began to grow. Britain proved the French armies
were not invincible and so those of Vienna's war party started
the impetus towards war.
it couldn't take on France by itself Stadion looked to various
powers - Prussia and even Russia - to see if they would ally with
a new Austrian military bankrolled by Britain.
Paris, Napoleon could sees signs of increased preparations coming
from across his borders but he did not think Austria would be
so stupid as to risk war with his veteran armies.
also did not take into account Vienna's growing paranoia that
he would strike first and the ever-increasing momentum as Austria
rushed towards war.
examines the self-delusion that Austrian leaders had about sparking
a great pan-Germanic uprising against Napoleon, particularly in
Bavaria and the Rhine Confederation.
they struck it was slow and ill co-ordinated but they were only
up against the out-of-his depth Marshal
there were enough veteran heads around - including the incomparable
Marshal Davout and Marshal
Massena - and lesser known generals who fought hard to save
the situation until the emperor arrived in person.
book is superbly detailed giving accounts of the many small clashes
that occurred in the early days of the war, the Austrian knack
of shooting themselves in the foot and the French ability to scramble
out of trouble.
thing is clear that for all of the bravery of their troops, the
Austrians could not match the French quality of command, its speed
of operations or attacking abilities.
has lots of good meaty details in his appendices that include
army lists from the initial outbreak of hostilities, through to
Abensberg and the French pursuit to Landshut.
are also more than 120 pages of notes to browse.
Thunder on the Danube is an exceptional piece of work and
I can't wait to open the next volume.