23 April, 1809

The Napoleonic Guide's Suggested Tours
1809 Danube Campaign Battles Map

Pursuing the Austrians after the victory at Eckmuhl, Napoleon Bonaparte found the garrisoned old city at Ratisbon was a defensive shield for Archduke Charles' escape across the Danube.

Wanting to keep his sword at the backs of the Austrians, Bonaparte had no time for a siege and so gave Marshal Jean Lannes the task of storming the city.

Two well supported attempts were made on the walls, and both were pushed back with heavy casualties.

Lannes' men could not bring themselves to advance into the maelstrom a third time and so, exasperated, Lannes grabbed a scaling ladder and renewed his appeal.

Then, amid an embarrassed silence, he angrily shouted: "I will let you see that I was a grenadier before I was a marshal and still am one."

He took the ladder and moved forwards, but was physically restrained by his aides.

His troops, shamed into action by the despair of their leader, rushed forward. The third assault party carried the walls and within minutes French troops were pouring into the now-doomed Ratisbon.

French casualties, including a wounded-in-the-ankle Bonaparte, were between 1500 and 2000 while the Austrians lost at least 6000 men killed, injured or captured.

Sending Marshal Louis Davout to guard the north bank across the Danube, Bonaparte was now free to move on Vienna.




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