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Action of Podol, 26-27 June 1866

Action of Podol, 26-27 June 1866

Action of Podol, 26-27 June 1866

The action of Podol (26-27 June 1866) saw the Prussians defeat an Austrian counterattack which was designed to expel the Prussians from their footholds across the River Iser. Instead the battle ended as a Prussian victory which saw them gain control of another major river crossing over the Iser.

At the start of 26 June the Prussian 1st Army was centred around Reichenberg, to the north of the Iser, while the Saxon and Austrian forces were based around Münchengrätz. The Austrians had some troops across the river, with a cavalry force at the village of Liebenau, half way between the Iser at Turnau and the Prusisans at Reichenberg. Clam-Gallas had argued against defended Turnau, and so the river crosses there and further south at Podol were unguarded.

On the morning of 26 June the Prussian 8th Division (von Horn) had advanced south towards Turnau and run into the Austrian outposts. The resulting Combat of Liebenau was the first significant combat of the campaign and saw the Austrians forced to retreat by weight of numbers. The Prussian 7th Division then reached Turnau, and established a foothold across the Iser, while von Horn's 8th Division moved south towards Podol.

On the afternoon of 26 June the Crown Prince of Saxony and Clam-Gallas received orders from General Benedek to hold the line of the Iser, and in particular to defend Turnau and Münchengrätz. When these orders were sent Benedek was planning to concentrate his efforts against Prince Frederick Charles, and intended to move his main army west.

Clam-Gallas and the Crown Prince decided to try and restore the situation by launched an immediate counterattack towards Turnau, and to occupy the hills west of the Iser. If this plan had succeeded it would only have placed the Austrians in further danger, for the Prussian Army of the Elbe was advancing from that direction.

Two major bridges crossed the Iser at Podel, carrying the railway and the main road from Türnau to Münchengrätz across the river. The railway crossed on an iron bridge, the road on a much lower wooden bridge linked to a causeway across the low meadows alongside the river. These bridges are about 200 yards apart.

The Prussians sent part of the 8th Division along the north bank of the river to occupy Podol. They reached Preper, a couple of miles to the east, at 6am, and sent patrols west towards the village. At this stage an Austrians had a small garrison in the village, and a fight broke out between them and a company of Jägers from the 4th Battalion. The Austrians were forced out the village, their barricades cleared, and the Prussians captured the river bridges.

The Austrians soon counterattacked. Troops from Poschacher's Brigade pushed the Prussians back across the bridges. More Austrian troops were detected coming from the west, and so the local Prussian commander, Major Flotow, decided to retreat. However General von Bose, commander of the 15th Brigade, could hear the firing from Preper, and advanced towards the sound of the guns with two battalions of infantry.

Bose decided to attack into the village, despite the superior Austrian numbers. The Austrians made a series of attacks in columns, but these were repulsed by volley fire from the Prussian needle guns. The Prussians then attacked the bridges. Their first attack was repulsed, but General Bose led from the front, and a second attack succeeded.

By this point Clam Gallas had arrived at the battlefield. He made a series of uncoordinated attacks using parts of Piret's and Abele's brigades, but these were repulsed with heavily losses. Finally, at about 1am on 27 June, the Austrians withdrew.

The Prussians suffered 130 casualties during the battle - 12 officers and 118 men, with 32 dead, 81 wounded and 17 missing.

The Austrians suffered much more heavily. They lost 6 officers and 537 killed and wounded (11 dead and 432 wounded), and another 509 prisoners (5 officers and 504 men). Many of these prisoners were taken after the fighting in Podol village - the Austrians had made good use of the village buildings as impromptu strongpoints, but many of these troops were then trapped as the Prussians advanced past them.

The victory at Podol left the Austrians and Saxons in a very vulnerable position. The Prussians now controlled the quickest route to Gitschin, and could have cut the communications between the two separated wings of the Austrian army. Instead Prince Frederick Charles wasted 27 June planning for a formal assault on the Austrian position at Müchengrätz, to be carried out by both of his armies on 28 June. This was based on an assumption that his opponents would stay in place, but Crown Prince Albert realised that his army was in grave danger, and ordered a retreat, to begin early on 28 June. When the Prussians did attack the resulting battle of Müchengrätz (28 June 1766) was more of a rearguard action than a major battle, and most of the Austrian and Saxon forces escaped to relative safety.


The Haymarket Square Riot

At Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, a bomb is thrown at a squad of policemen attempting to break up what had begun as a peaceful labor rally. The police responded with wild gunfire, killing several people in the crowd and injuring dozens more.

The demonstration, which drew some 1,500 Chicago workers, was organized by German-born labor radicals in protest of the killing of a striker by the Chicago police the day before. Midway into the rally, which had thinned out because of rain, a force of nearly 200 policemen arrived to disperse the workers. As the police advanced toward the 300 remaining protesters, an individual who was never positively identified threw a bomb at them. After the explosion and subsequent police gunfire, more than a dozen people lay dead or dying, and close to 100 were injured.

The Haymarket Square Riot set off a national wave of xenophobia, as hundreds of foreign-born radicals and labor leaders were rounded up in Chicago and elsewhere. A grand jury eventually indicted 31 suspected labor radicals in connection with the bombing, and eight men were convicted in a sensational and controversial trial. Judge Joseph E. Gary imposed the death sentence on seven of the men, and the eighth was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On November 11, 1887, Samuel Fielden, Adolph Fischer, August Spies and Albert Parson were executed.

Of the three others sentenced to death, one died by suicide on the eve of his execution and the other two had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment by Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby. Governor Oglesby was reacting to widespread public questioning of their guilt, which later led his successor, Governor John P. Altgeld, to pardon fully the three activists still living in 1893.


Contents

The Prussian Second Army, invading Bohemia, had to split up in order to negotiate the passes of the Riesen Mountains. General Karl Friedrich von Steinmetz's 5th Corps was nearly caught as it emerged from a gully by the village of Nachod, Bohemia. The King’s Grenadiers were in the advance guard, and raced forward, first to occupy some woods outside the gully’s opening, and then to take possession of the heights above Wenzelsberg. The Austrian Colonel Hertwegh was supposed to occupy the next village of Wysokow so as to block the road, but instead, when he got to Wenzelsberg he wheeled right to attack the Prussians on the ridge above the King’s Grenadiers simply mowed his men down. It was now that the superiority of Prussian equipment made itself felt. Their new breech-loading needle guns enabled them to fire three shots to the Austrians’ muzzle-loader's one. The Prussian cavalry now rode forward along the road to stop the Austrians reaching Wysokow, and here a cavalry battle developed.

The King’s Grenadiers now came down the slope over the bodies of Herwegh’s men and occupied Wenzelsberg. A new Austrian brigade arrived and a fearful struggle ensued over the churchyard. The grenadiers were driven out of it but held on to most of the village for two hours while the rest of the 9th Division arrived.

Yet another Austrian brigade now appeared, and this time it had unmistakable orders to take Wysokow. As the famous Viennese Hoch-und-Deutschmeister Regiment, the last fighting vestige of the old Teutonic Order, burst into the town, Colonel Louis von Blumenthal arrived at the head of the 52nd Foot on their right flank. Though the fighting continued, the result was not now in doubt. The Prussian firepower goaded the Austrians into courageous but costly bayonet charges their officers lost control, and five and a half thousand men fell to the Prussians’ thousand. The news electrified Berlin. Von Steinmetz was hailed as the “Lion of Nachod,” and Bismarck found for the first time in his life that he was popular.


Contents

The battle occurred as part of the Third War of Italian Independence, in which Italy allied with Prussia in the course of its conflict against Austria. The major Italian objective was to capture Venice and at least part of its surrounds from Austria. The fleets were composed of a mix of unarmoured sailing ships with steam engines, and armoured ironclads also combining sails and steam engines. The Italian fleet of 12 ironclads and 17 unarmoured ships outnumbered the Austrian fleet of 7 and 11 respectively. The Austrians were also severely outmatched in rifled guns (276 to 121) and total weight of metal (53,236 tons to 23,538 tons). [3] A single turret ship took part in the action — the Italian Affondatore. Piedmontese Count Carlo di Persano commanded the Italian fleet, while the Austrian fleet was commanded by Konteradmiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff. The fort on the island of Lissa was under the command of Oberst David Urs de Margina, an ethnic Romanian from Transylvania. The Italian fleet under Persano was divided into three divisions: Persano commanded the main battle force with 9 ironclads his deputy, Albini, commanded a "support" division (engaged mainly in landings) and Admiral Vacca commanded a third "reserve" division with minor wooden ships. The attacking Austrian fleet was also split into three divisions. The 1st Division consisted of the armoured ships, while the 2nd consisted of the powerful but obsolete unarmoured wooden ship of the line Kaiser and 5 frigates. The 3rd Division consisted of the smaller screw gunboats and armed merchantmen. The armed merchant cruiser Stadion was ahead of the fleet acting as a scout.

The three Austrian divisions were formed up into three consecutive arrowhead or "V" formations the armoured 1st division under Tegetthoff was in the vanguard, the weaker gunboats and paddle steamers of the 3rd division to the rear, while the powerful but unarmoured vessels of Kommodor Petz's 2nd division were in the centre. The Austrian plan, due to their weaker firepower, was to close quickly into a melée, and to use close range fire and ramming to sink a small portion of the Italian fleet, thereby breaking the Italian will to fight. The Italians, despite their numerical superiority, were not prepared for battle. They were busy preparing for landings on the island of Vis (Lissa) when the news that the Austrian fleet was at sea and seeking battle reached them. Persano cancelled the landings, ordered the fleet into line abreast but having second thoughts, cancelled that order (creating confusion among the Italian commanders) and ordered the fleet into three divisions in a line ahead formation, the same formation as at battles in the age of sail. The 1st division in the vanguard consisted of Principe di Carignano, Castelfidardo and Ancona under Admiral Vacca, Captain 1st Class Faà di Bruno's 2nd division in the centre consisted of Re d'Italia, Palestro and San Martino, and the 3rd division to the rear had the Re di Portogallo, Regina Maria Pia and, at the extreme rear, Varese under Captain Augusto Riboty. In total, the Italians had 11 ironclads in the battle line. The other (wooden) ships were dispersed into the battleline. The exception was Affondatore, which was on the far side of the 2nd squadron and out of the battleline. Persano may have intended this to be an uncommitted reserve. Before the battle Persano caused more confusion by deciding to transfer his flag to the Affondatore and the 2nd and 3rd Divisions slowed to allow Re d ' Italia to lower her boats. However the signal to slow down never reached the 1st Division and they continued to steam on, allowing a gap to open in the Italian battle line. To compound the error Persano never signaled the change of flag, and throughout the action the Italians continued to look to the old flagship Re d ' Italia for orders rather than Affondatore.

In the Austrian fleet there was enthusiasm but also fear, because the Italian fleet was bigger: 12 ironclads and 19 wooden ships with 641 guns, while the Austrians had only 7 ironclads and 20 wooden ships with 532 guns. When the engagement began, the Italian division Vacca was on a long circuit of the north of Lissa, and so was at first away from the battle. And it is curious that the Albini ships with their 398 guns, though ordered by Persano to do so, did not fire a single shot all through the battle. [4]

Having ignored warnings from his pickets of suspicious ships in sight, Persano had effectively allowed the Austrians to ambush his force while it was still forming. Tegetthoff, seeing a gap opening between the 1st and 2nd Divisions, forced his fleet into it and concentrated on raking the Italians and ramming. This meant that he allowed his T to be crossed. While the Austrians were approaching, Vacca's 1st Italian Division threw a heavy weight of fire at them. The Austrians could only reply with their chase guns. Because Persano was in the process of transferring his flag, no general order was given. The 2nd and 3rd Divisions did not join in and the Austrians crossed the killing area, suffering some serious damage but no ships were lost. Drache on the extreme right (starboard) wing of the Austrian 1st Division was hit 17 times by heavy shells, losing her mainmast and temporarily losing propulsion. Her captain, Heinrich von Moll, [5] was decapitated by a heavy shell, but his subordinate, Karl Weyprecht, brought the ship back into the fight. By 10:43 am the Austrians had brought the Italian vanguard to close action. Habsburg, Salamander and Kaiser Max on the Austrian left wing had engaged the Italian 1st Division, while the right wing of Don Juan d'Austria, Drache and Prinz Eugen engaged the Italian 2nd Division. Persano, now on the most powerful warship in either fleet, Affondatore, stayed clear of the engagement. [6]

With the confusion in the Italian vanguard, Kommodor von Petz took the opportunity to take his 2nd Division to the Italian rear and fall on their 3rd Division. The unarmoured wooden ships of the Austrian 2nd Division were facing modern ironclads armed with heavy guns, yet despite suffering heavy fire they held together. The screw frigate Novara was hit 47 times, and her captain, Erik af Klint, was killed. Erzherzog Friedrich was hit by a heavy shell below the waterline but still remained afloat, while Schwarzenberg was disabled by heavy Italian fire and set adrift. Seeing things going badly, Persano decided to ram the unarmoured screw battleship Kaiser rather than one of the armoured ships engaged with the Italian 2nd Division much nearer him. However, Kaiser managed to dodge Affondatore. Taking heart from his admiral, the captain of Re di Portogallo laid heavy fire on Kaiser with his rifled guns. At the last moment, von Petz turned into the ram, conducting a counter ram. The impact tore off Kaiser ' s stem and bowsprit, leaving her figurehead embedded in Re di Portogallo. The Italian used the opportunity to rake Kaiser with fire, putting her mainmast and funnel into the sea. The smoke was so great that as they backed off for another ram they lost sight of each other and ended the duel. At roughly the same time, Tegetthoff threw his flagship Erzherzog Ferdinand Max (commanded by Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck) at first at the former Italian flagship, Re d'Italia, and then at Palestro. In both cases he scored only glancing blows, but these caused serious damage, especially to Palestro, which was dismasted and set afire.

Palestro ' s captain, Cappellini, pulled his ship out of the line. His crew refused to abandon their captain and Palestro finally blew up and sank at 2.30pm, with only 19 survivors out of a complement of 230. Meanwhile, Erzherzog Ferdinand Max was circling Faà di Bruno's Re d'Italia, pouring on fire before surging forward and achieving a good impact with her ram, aided by the Italian having reversed in a poorly thought-out attempt to avoid crossing the Austrian's bows at the crucial moment. This put an 18 ft (5.5 m) hole below Re d'Italia ' s waterline, and she struck her colours and sank two minutes later. According to legend, her captain shot himself after giving the order to strike the colours. [7] As Erzherzog Ferdinand Max limped away, damaged after conducting three ramming attacks, Ancona closed on her attempting to ram. The Italian gunners got a full broadside off at point blank range, but while they had remembered the gunpowder, in the excitement they had forgotten to load the shot. After his encounter with Re di Portogallo earlier in the battle and having fought his way clear of Maria Pia, Kommodor von Petz's Kaiser found itself at close range with Affondatore.

Despite being a perfect target for a ram, Kaiser survived when Persano ordered Affondatore to turn away. [8] Tegetthoff's victory was saluted by his mariners – mainly Croats and Venetians, from Venetia, Istria and Dalmatia – with the traditional Venetian cry of victory: "Viva San Marco!" ("Hurrah with Saint Mark!"). [9] By 15:00, Tegetthoff had led his fleet into the harbour of Lissa, where the damaged Kaiser had already arrived, undisturbed by the Italian ships despite Persano's orders to engage the Austrian vessels, both Albini and Vacca ignored the orders, as the latter candidly testified at Persano's trial. [10] With his ships low on fuel and ammunition, and his crews spent, Persano led his fleet back towards his home port of Ancona. Kaiser ' s encounter with Affondatore was the last major action of the battle. With two armoured ships sunk, the Italians withdrew, although there would be some exchange of long range fire for several hours.


Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation. Attempting to stitch together a nation mired in a bloody civil war, Abraham Lincoln made a last-ditch, but carefully calculated, decision regarding the institution of slavery in America.

By the end of 1862, things were not looking good for the Union. The Confederate Army had overcome Union troops in significant battles and Britain and France were set to officially recognize the Confederacy as a separate nation. In an August 1862 letter to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln confessed “my paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or to destroy slavery.” Lincoln hoped that declaring a national policy of emancipation would stimulate a rush of the South’s enslaved people into the ranks of the Union army, thus depleting the Confederacy’s labor force, on which the southern states depended to wage war against the North.

Lincoln waited to unveil the proclamation until he could do so on the heels of a Union military success. On September 22, 1862, after the battle at Antietam, he issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation declaring all enslaved people free in the rebellious states as of January 1, 1863. Lincoln and his advisors limited the proclamation’s language to slavery in states outside of federal control as of 1862, failing to address the contentious issue of slavery within the nation’s border states. In his attempt to appease all parties, Lincoln left many loopholes open that civil rights advocates would be forced to tackle in the future.

Republican abolitionists in the North rejoiced that Lincoln had finally thrown his full weight behind the cause for which they had elected him. Though enslaved people in the south failed to rebel en masse with the signing of the proclamation, they slowly began to liberate themselves as Union armies marched into Confederate territory. Toward the end of the war, enslaved people left their former masters in droves. They fought and grew crops for the Union Army, performed other military jobs and worked in the North’s mills. Though the proclamation was not greeted with joy by all northerners, particularly northern white workers and troops fearful of job competition from an influx of freed slaves, it had the distinct benefit of convincing Britain and France to steer clear of official diplomatic relations with the Confederacy.

Though the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation signified Lincoln’s growing resolve to preserve the Union at all costs, he still rejoiced in the ethical correctness of his decision. Lincoln admitted on that New Year’s Day in 1863 that he never �lt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper.” Although he waffled on the subject of slavery in the early years of his presidency, he would thereafter be remembered as “The Great Emancipator.” To Confederate sympathizers, however, Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation reinforced their image of him as a hated despot and ultimately inspired his assassination by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.


Austria.

X Corps. Lieutenant Field Marshal Ludwig von Gablenz.
Assistant. Baron Koller.
Chief of Staff. Colonel Bourgignone.

  • Commander of Brigade. Colonel Mondl
    • 12 th Field Jäger Battalion
    • 10 th Infantry Regiment (Mazuchelli)
    • 24 th Infantry Regiment (Parma)
    • 16 th Field Jäger Battalion
    • 2 nd Infantry regiment (Alexander)
    • 23 rd Infantry Regiment (Airoldi)
    • 28 th Field Jäger Battalion
    • 1 st Infantry Regiment (Emperor Franz Joseph)
    • 3 rd Infantry Regiment (Archduke Charles)
    • 13 th Infantry Regiment (Bamberg)
    • 58 th Infantry Regiment [ 4 battalions] (Archduke Stephen)

    Each brigade had one squadron of the 1 st Uhlan Regiment attached and one 4 – pounder Field Battery.


    The Empire Means Peace

    -The Bohemian Campaign:
    The War in Germany started over the Schleswig-Holstein dispute between Prussia and Austria would be initiated on 24 June 1866, the final legacy that Bismarck started for what he perceived would be Prussian domination over the Germans. The Prussian Army, under the command of the Prussian Crown Prince, Frederick William von Hohenzollern, launched an invasion into the Austrian Kingdom of Bohemia. Two minor engagements occurred between the Prussian First Army and the Austrian I Corps mixed with elements of the Saxon Army on 26 June, near the village of Podol. There the Prussian forces would breach the Austrian line at both points and allow access to the bridges along the Iser River. Their advance would continue into the next day, where despite a tactical setback in Trautenau which led to the deaths of about 2400 men on each side, the Prussians were able to inflict a defeat on the Austrians at Nachod. [1]

    It would be Austria who regained the initiative on 30 June, with a monumental victory over the Prussians at Münchengrätz. The battle saw the rise of leadership in the Duke of Tecshen as an able and capable commander, one not seen since men like Eugene of Savoy over 150 years prior.

    This would be followed up in the Battle of Chlum on 3 July 1866 [2]. An Austro-Saxon force under the joint command of Tecshen and the Saxon Crown Prince Albert von Wettin would meet the two Prussian armies led personally by Crown Prince Frederick William and Helmuth von Moltke respectively. There the Prussian armies (220,000) challenged the Austro-Saxon force (also 220,000) in an attempt to surround and crush them. However the plan was not fully successful, the Prussians gained a victory and saw at least an eighth of the Austro-Prussian Army was defeated, but they lost a tenth of their own, and failed to cut off the retreating Austrian army’s escape. The frustrated Prussian Army instead began turning towards the Bohemian Capital, Prague, where it would be put under siege on 6 July.

    As the events were going on in Bohemia, the French ambassador to Austria, acting on a message from the Emperor, began to ask for an audience with the Austrian Emperor…

    -Hanover-Main River Campaign:
    In West Germany, the battle was focused between the forces of Prussia (in addition to the token Saxo-Gothan force provided by and led by Ernest II von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha himself) and the Kingdoms of Hanover and Bavaria. Hannover‘s decisive victory over the Prussians at Langenslaza on 27 June 1866, and the destruction of the detachment of Prussian troops under General von Flies led to Hannover managing to escape with their forces [3] and link of the Bavarian Army under Kurt von Arentschidt [4].

    While one Prussian army under the command of August Karl von Goeben continued advancing and began to besiege Hanover, another Prussian Army, this one under the command of General Eduard Vogel von Falckenstein began making his way down the River Main, defeating a Bavarian army in Burgkunstadt (29 June), Lichtenfels (1 July) and Schweinfurt (July 3), as well as successfully occupying the German Federal Capital of Frankfurt am Main. Wurzburg would be put under siege by Prussian forces, and it was only then that there advance was halted.

    The Bavarian-Hanoverian Allied Army would soon join up with the Militia of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, a combined force some 24,000 strong, where they would encounter Falckenstein’s 40,000-strong Prussian Army near the town of Seligenstadt. It would be there that the armies would fight to a standstill, despite the superiority of the Prussian forces being evident in more than a few cases. Over half the Bavarian-Hanoverian-Hessian force was wiped out in the battle, but they were able to successfully hold off the Prussian advance, and prevent the Prussians from reinforcing their positions in Wurzburg.

    -French Diplomacy and Intervention:

    Patricie de MacMahon, the newly created Duke of Magenta [5] , and the newly appointed French ambassador to Austria, arrived in Vienna the day before the Battle of Chlum to seek an audience with the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph. MacMahon would meet with Franz Joseph with a message from Napoleon III. When the War was declared, France had begun mobilizing troops and if an alliance would be agreed upon, the French army would strike at Prussia and their allies from behind. In return, the French would be allowed to acquire the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Prussian Rhineland.

    The response was largely negative, not in due to the fact that the Rhineland was part of the German Confederation, but would also empower France to a position not seen since Napoleon I. There were many messages sent back and forth between Paris and Vienna, and much haggling that took place as a part of it. But the final result of it, the Treaty of Vienna, signed 17 July 1866, would cement a Franco-Austrian alliance, the first time of an event since 1763. In return, two promises were made to the French Emperor, the French annexation of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the re-creation of the Kingdom of Westphalia in a part of the Northern Rhineland around the Prussian province of Westphalia, to be ruled by the Emperor’s first cousin and the second son of the former King of Westphalia, Napoleon Joseph Bonaparte. Napoleon Joseph, nicknamed Jerome, would accept the crown for his 2 year old son, Prince Charles.

    Three days later, on 20 July 1866, the French Army of the Rhine, a force some 250,000-strong and led by Mexican War Hero Fran ç ois Achille Bazaine and Pierre Louis Charles de Failly, crossed the Franco-Prussian War, and swept through much of the Rhine, the region being lightly defended by the beleaguered Prussians. By 23 July, the entire Lower Rhine was occupied by the French Imperial Army, and was now in a position to assist the Bavarian and Hanoverian Armies.

    Battle of Brandeis-Altbunzlau and the Push into Saxony and Silesia:
    In Bohemia, the main Prussian army continued to besiege Prague, despite Austrian and Saxon attempts to dislodge them. However as the siege progressed and the French began pouring into the Rhineland, more and more troops were being withdrawn and redeployed to confront the French before their plans were truly ruined. This would prove to be an excellent opportunity for the Austrians to relieve Prague and decisively defeat the Prussians. The chosen field would be near Brandeis-Altbunzlau, where the Prussian army under Crown Prince Frederick tried to intercept an Austrian force, led personally by the Duke of Teschen himself. Despite Prussia’s superior infantry, Austria’s organization and superior artillery gave them a decisive victory, Prussia losing a third of the invasion force, to Austria losing half those numbers. The battle made any further attempts to continue to press the Siege of Prague too difficult to work. As a result, the Prussians began making their retreat back into Prussia, harried by Austrian and Saxon forces along the way. Of the 300,000-strong Army fighting against Austria since the start of the Bohemian Campaign, already two-fifths of that force were killed, wounded or captured by the time the Prussian Army made it to Silesia.

    At the start of August, the Austrians sent two armies northward, the first, led by Eduard Clam-Gallas to link up with the remnants of the Saxon forces in an invasion of the Prussian Province of Saxony, while a second army, led by the Duke of Teschen, would move into Prussian Silesia, with the intent to occupy the entire region before the Prussians could sue for peace. The plan was to occupy the two provinces bordering the Prussian Province of Brandenburg, and with their German allies and France, proceed to move into Brandenburg, and thus, the Prussian capital Berlin.

    The Austrian Army, joined by the Saxon Armies, began deploying into Saxony, where attempts to prevent the Austrians from attacking the Saxon province was met with severe defeats. This was also seen to be the case in Silesia, where Oppelin was taken within a matter of five days. Teschen began moving up to the provincial capital of Breslau while Clam-Gallas slugged his way through the Prussian Armies along the way to Madgeburg.

    Main River Campaign and the French Offensive into Hanover:

    Wurzburg fell on 6 August 1866, causing the Bavarians to retreat inward. However, the victory would be short lived, as the French Army under de Failly began advancing towards Bavaria, managing to wheel around southwards and intercept the Prussians under von Falckenstein, defeating their forces at Mergentheim in Wurttemburg. With Bavarian reinforcements oncoming, plus the introduction of the Badenese and Wurrtemburger Armies into play, caused von Falckenstein to surrender to the Franco-Bavarian Army at Wurzburg.

    Meanwhile, Bazaine and Goeben clashed with each other, the latter able to delay the advance but unable to prevent Bazaine from capturing various cities and industrial centers. The Prussian Army would suffer a serious setback at Coblenz, the Rhenish Provincial Capital and at Cologne, where Prussia’s artillery was captured. It was near Mülheim an der Ruhr, that one of the final battles of the Hanover-Main River Campaign was waged, as Prussia’s now 25,000 force fought against a 35,000-strong French Army.

    The battle would go back and forth, with France shelling the town, and using reinforcements to outflank the Prussians before any reinforcements or supplies could arrive. The Prussian counterattack was repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. It was a successful strike on the Prussians center, led by Colonel Abel Douay that carried them the battle, with the Prussian General Goeben being killed while his army was in retreat.

    By the end of the month, French and Hanoverian troops would finally arrive at Hanover, the Prussians already in full retreat. The war was already beginning to wind down.

    The Battle of Mühlhausen and the End of the War:

    Clam-Gallas would find a challenge in Crown Prince Frederick. Despite Clam-Gallas’ successes thus far, he was unable to force the Crown Prince to surrender, and each battle that he fought against Frederick only ended in severe casualties on both sides. With reinforcements in short supply for the Prussians, Crown Prince Frederick would have to take a chance for a decisive victory. The chosen field of battle was near Muhlhausen, where the two armies would face each other on the field.

    The Siege of Muhlhausen (beginning 2 September 1866) was one of the most climatic and decisive battles in the Austro-Prussian War, which saw Frederick’s forces in Muhlhausen surrounded by the Austrian and Saxon force. Attempts to break the siege ended in defeats with heavy casualties. But hope was thought forthcoming when reinforcements arrived in the form of his cousin, Fredrick Charles von Hohenzollern, arrived to relieve the siege. At first, the Austrians were now on the defensive, surrounded on both sides by the Prussians.

    On 19 September 1866, reinforcements arrived in the form of the Allied forces, Armies from France, Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, and Hanover, which arrived to outflank and put Frederick Charles to flight, and subsequently killed Prince Fredrick whilst he led an attempt of a sally against the allied forces.

    The disastrous defeat at Muhlhausen, and the subsequent death of Crown Prince Frederick shocked and saddened William I, who finally called to negotiate a peace settlement.

    Treaty of Frankfurt:
    The Treaty of Frankfurt would be formalized on 10 November 1866, a month after peace was signed with North Italy in the Treaty of Prague. In the treaty:
    - Prussia will accept sole responsibility for the cause of the war, which led to the deaths of some 150,000 Germans and 30,000 Frenchmen on all sides of the conflict.
    - Prussia will cede Silesia to Austria.
    - The Prussian Province of Saxony will be returned to the Kingdom of Saxony.
    - The Rhineland will become a free state, to be administrated as a governate by the German Confederation. A part of the Northern Rhineland will be ceded to the Kingdom of Westphalia as compensation for the Eastern third of Westphalia, which is to be ceded to the Kingdom of Hanover, while the Saar Basin territories will be given to Bavaria.
    - The Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein will remain under personal union and rule by Frederick VII von Augustenburg. The Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg however, will be returned to the Kingdom of Hanover
    - The Prussian territories of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringnen will be ceded to the Kingdom of Württemberg.
    -The Kreis of Weltzar will be ceded to the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine
    - Prussia, who has formally expelled itself from the German Confederation, will have the option to reapply twenty years after the signing of the treaty (10 November 1886)
    - France will gain the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, at the cost of 30 million francs to be paid to the Kingdom of the Netherlands (the original rulers of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg)
    - All Prisoners will be exchanged to their home countries upon the signing of the treaty
    The Prussians suffered a humiliating blow to national prestige. Much of its armies were wiped out, its economy was in tatters, and the beloved Crown Prince of Prussia was dead, the next in line being his eldest son, the seven-year old Prince William. But many of the Junkers who took power in Parliament after the war, largely due to the conservative nature of the remaining provinces, meant that Prussia would have to return to its roots, to rebuild and reform their armies, on the premise of vengeance against those that have humiliated her.

    The French support not only strengthened his position in French foreign policy, but also silenced his critics and opponents, who used their anti-Prussian stance to strengthen their own position. However, not all were happy. 30,000 Frenchmen died just to gain just over 2500 km2 of land, and they felt cheated out of yet another chance to regain the left bank of the Rhine. Still, the prestige of defeating the Prussians, something his uncle achieved just 60 years prior, made him even more popular with the people and thus added to the legitimacy his government had established.

    For the Austrians, the victory not only recovered prestige they lost in the Austro-Italian War, but also eliminated their hated rivals, the Prussians. Or so they seem to believe. While Prussian power has been severely curtailed, they too suffered severe losses in their ranks to do so. Prussia was still a viable military power, albeit one who wasn’t as threatening to Austria. In addition, by defeating the Prussians, they’ve unwittingly created more rivals for influence in the German Confederation, both within the German Confederation (Bavaria & Hanover) and without (France, Scandinavia & Russia). In the end however, the Austro-Prussian War would be one of the conflicts that would set the stage for German politics for the next 50 years.

    [1]: Unlike OTL’s Austro-Prussian War, Austria’s more efficient army is able to hold their own accordingly with the Prussians, akin to the conflicts between the two during the era of Frederick the Great, and Maria Theresa.
    [2]: TTL’s version of the Battle of Sadowa.
    [3]: IOTL, the Battle still ended in a Hanoverian victory, but because the Hanoverian army was surrounded, George V was forced to surrender two days later, a move that cost him and his successors the Kingdom.
    [4]: Original Character
    [5]: In OTL, MacMahon was at the time serving as Governor General of Algeria since 1864 until recalled to fight the North German Confederation in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Here, he’s recalled earlier to serve as chief diplomat.

    ----
    Author's Notes: Well, this qualifies for being the longest chapter I've ever written in. anything really.

    I have to admit, I've put a lot of research, both within this site, within a book I owned, within Wikipedia (though not as much) and within other Alt-History sites to come up with this one.

    The map was a pain in the butt to make, despite the fact that I found a blank map of the German states to do it with.


    CHAPTER V

    By its success on the 29 th June the Prussian 1 st Army reached its original rendezvous at Gitschin with comparatively slight loss. The opposition encountered had not been formidable, and such delays as had arisen had been due quite as much to the necessity of changing from march to fighting formations as to the resistance offered by the enemy. The absence of the cavalry had also been a serious hindrance to Prince Frederick Charles’ movement, for he had been marching practically blindfold, and wasting his strength in elaborate manoeuvre the opportunity for which had passed away. His task had been rendered more difficult by the clumsy organization of his command, for the corps system had been abolished and the largest unit was the division. This arrangement had made it necessary for Prince Frederick Charles to issue his orders direct to twelve different units and to receive reports from twelve different staffs – six divisions of the 1 st Army, four of the Army of the Elbe, a cavalry corps, and the reserve artillery. Notwithstanding these self – imposed handicaps, the commander of the 1 st Army had achieved all that had been asked of him but it must be acknowledged that his easy success was due, in large measure, to the inactivity of his opponents. Like General Kuropatkin at the beginning of the campaign in Manchuria,* von Benedek used his advanced forces merely to obtain time for the concentration of the main body, upon which they were ultimately to fall back. This idea of an ultimate concentration of the entire force in a defensive position underlay all his orders. Occasionally there was a suggestion of a possible offensive operation, but it was stillborn. It was inevitable that the same spirit should manifest itself among the subordinate commanders. More than once, at Münchengrätz as well as at Gitschin, an effective blow might have been delivered at the heads of the Prussian columns, but both actions took the form of a passive defence followed by retreat.

    March dispositions. – Meanwhile the Crown Prince of Prussia had encountered far more serious difficulties, for the defiles of the Riesen Gebirge had proved to be even more formidable than had been anticipated, and no generalship, however poor, could deprive them of their natural defensive strength. For the passage of the 2 nd Army through the mountains three roads were to be utilized. On the northern or right flank was the 1 st Corps, followed by the cavalry in the centre was the Guard Corps on the southern or left flank was the 5 th Corps, to be followed later by the 6 th Corps. These three bodies were directed upon Trautenau, Braunau, and Nachod respectively. At Braunau the frontier of Bohemia forms a pronounced salient some twenty miles in depth, and to defend or to block the mouth of the pass it would have been necessary for the Austrians to push out a detached force to an exposed position in front of the main army. Such a proceeding must have been attended by considerable risk and, in the opinion of the Prussian commanders, was hardly to be attempted. Hench it followed that the central column would, in all probability, encounter far less opposition than the troops on its right and left and the Guard Corps was, therefore, to be prepared to move to the assistance either of the 1 st or the 5 th Corps should the necessity arise. On the 26 th June, the day upon which the advance guard of the 1 st Army had its first brush with the enemy at Hühnerwasser, the Crown Prince’s troops, eager to cross the frontier, which was only a few miles distant, were disposed as follows: –

    1 st Corps. – 1 st Division, Liebau 2 nd Division, Schomberg.

    Guard Corps. – 1 st Division, Dittersbach 2 nd Division, Pickau.

    6 th Corps. – 11 th Division, Glatz 12 th Division, Landeck.

    Cavalry Division. – Waldenburg.

    Distribution of Austrian troops, 26 th June. – At the moment when the Crown Prince of Prussia was completing his preparations for crossing the mountain passes into Bohemia, the main Austrian army was still straggling out over more than forty miles of country. At the head of this long column one brigade of the 10 th Corps had been pushed out beyond Königinhof towards Trautenau, the remainder of the corps being at Jaromir the 1 st Heavy Cavalry Division was at Skalitz the 4 th Corps at Lancow, about half – way between Josefstadt and Miletin the 6 th Corps was at Opocno the 3 rd Corps at Königgrätz the 8 th Corps at Tynist the 2 nd Corps and the 2 nd Light Cavalry Division were at Senftenberg,((Senftenberg lies a little to the north of a village of the name of Gabel. It is just possible that a confusion of the two Gabels misled the Prussians into the belief that the 2nd Corps had joined the 1st Army. See page 24))and the 2 nd and 3 rd Heavy Cavalry Divisions and the Reserve Artillery were still further to the south. As early as 4.30 p.m. on the 25 th , and all through the 26 th , accurate reports of the Prussian movements kept coming in to von Benedek, whose head – quarters were at Josefstadt. These reports left no doubt either as to the dispositions or the intentions of the enemy. It was clear that he was advancing to the attack by three separate roads, and that for the time being his columns must be isolated in the mountains. This information was not considered by von Benedek to be of sufficient importance to justify him making any real changes in his own plans, and he still clung to his original idea of a concentration of his entire force on the right bank of the Elbe, between Jaromir and Miletin. The whole question was one of time. If the Prussians could be delayed long enough for the straggling rear divisions to close up to the front all might be well but von Benedek, always optimistic and always leisurely, showed no appreciation of the speed with which the crisis of the campaign was approaching.

    Von Benedek’s orders for the 27 th June. – To hold the hostile columns in check the 6 th Corps, strengthened by the addition of the 1 st Light Cavalry Division, was ordered to take up a position near Skalitz on the 27 th , and to push out an advanced guard towards Nachod. Similarly, the 10 th Corps, which was expressly ordered to march at 8 a.m., “after the morning meal,” was to occupy Trautenau, and it likewise was to send forward an advanced guard. Meanwhile the remaining corps were to continue their movement towards the Elbe in the same stately manner as before.(([1] These orders underwent considerable modification on the morning of the 27th. The 8th Corps, which was to have taken the place of the 10th Corps, was then diverted eastward to support the 6th Corps and at the same time the 4th Corps (less one brigade) was ordered to hold itself in readiness to move in the same direction.)) “These dispositions,” wrote the Austrian commander to an officer on the staff of the Austrian Emperor, “mean no more than a momentary postponement of the offensive operations which I propose to undertake so soon as the concentration of my army is complete, and whenever I have reliable information as to the position occupied by my adversary which, I trust, will be the case in a few days.”

    The Austrian point of concentration too far north. – Here, as before, we see the same failure to appreciate the vigour and rapidity of Prussian strategy always there is the same confidence that the enemy will acquiesce in whatever the Austrians may wish to do, the same disregard of the all – important factor of time. In the Austrian official account, von Benedek’s generalship at this juncture has been criticized on the ground that his covering force, the 6 th and 10 th Corps, was too weak, and that it should have been supported by the 2 nd ,3 rd ,4 th , and 8 th Corps. That is to say, that the whole of the principal army would have been drawn into a conflict with the Crown Prince of Prussia, leaving the army of Prince Frederick Charles to be opposed only by the Austrian 1 st Corps and the Saxons. This argument is difficult to follow.

    From the first von Benedek’s proper policy had been to operate against the divided forces of the enemy and to beat them in detail. For this course to be successful, the first requisites were a vigorous offensive spirit coupled with rapidity of movement. Had he acted as the official historians suggest, he must have adopted, at a very early stage, a purely defensive attitude, which could lead to only one result. Von Benedek’s course may have been wrong, but it was at least better than the alternative suggested. His real mistake was not in the actual plan, but in the fact that he did not realize that he would not be allowed the time in which to carry it out. By the evening of the 26 th June he should have recognized that his chosen point of concentration was too far north, that is to say, too near the enemy, and some less distant spot, Königgrätz or Pardubitz, should have been substituted for Josefstadt. His best chance was to strike but until his concentration was completed he was powerless, and everything depended upon his ability to draw together his scattered corps. Until this primary object had been achieved it was useless to think vaguely of offensive action but by his persistence in attempting to reach Josefstadt von Benedek exposed himself unnecessarily to the danger of having a portion of his force severely handled before the remainder could come to his assistance. Even on the morning of the 27 th June, when he heard that Nachod had been occupied by a strong enemy force, the Austrian Commander – in – Chief saw no reason to modify his plans. It required something more than this to convince him of his error.

    The battle of Trautenau. – The Crown Prince of Prussia’s orders for the 27 th June were: 1 st Corps to push beyond Trautenau towards Arnau Guard Corps to reach Eipel and Kosteletz 5 th Corps to Nachod. A serious conflict on the frontier was therefore inevitable. On this day the 1 st Corps marched at first on two roads at 8 a.m. the left column reached Parschnitz, where it awaited the arrival of the right column, which had been directed to provide the advance guard of the united corps. In this way more than an hour was wasted, and it was nearly 10 a.m. when the leading troops discovered that the bridge over the Aupa at Trautenau was barricaded and lightly held by the dragoons of the famous Windischgrätz Regiment. A sharp fight in the streets resulted in favour of the Prussian’s, but the long delay at Parschnitz had given the Austrians time to bring up General Mondel’s brigade from Praussnitz – Kaile. Marching at 6.30 a.m., this brigade was still about a mile and a half short of Trautenau when the Prussian’s debouched from the mountains, and but for a fortunate accident it might never have reached its allotted position. As it was, however, Mondel was able to establish himself on the heights which dominate the valley of the Aupa just as the hostile advance guard issued from the little town below him. The Prussian commander, General von Bonin,((General von Bonin commanded the Prussian 1st Corps, but, seeing that fighting was imminent, had taken his place with the advance guard.)) soon perceived that the position which lay in his front, barring the only road by which he could rejoin the Guard and 5 th Corps, was too formidable to be taken by his advance guard alone, and summoned six battalions from his main body, which was still about Parschnitz, to make a turning movement against the enemy’s right flank. The distance to be covered by the flank attack was barely two miles, but the hills were steep and rugged, and in many places were thickly wooded moreover, the day was hot and the men had been under arms since 4 a.m. In the circumstances it is not surprising that progress was slow, and it was not until 1 p.m. that the battalions of the main body were able to give any material aid to the advance guard. Meanwhile General Gablenz, the commander of the Austrian 10 th Corps, had arrived upon the scene, and finding his advanced brigade hard pressed in front and in danger of being cut off, gave orders for a retreat upon Hohenbruck and Alt – Rognitz. The Prussians followed up, but about 3 p.m., owing partly to the exhaustion of the attacking infantry, but more to General Bonin’s belief that his enemy was thoroughly beaten, the engagement came temporarily to an end. The cessation was not of long duration. The main body of the Austrian 10 th Corps was hastening to the front from Jaromir, and at 2 30 p.m. the leading brigade, Colonel Grivicic, was close to Alt – Rognitz. His first attack met with a heavy repulse, but a second effort, better prepared than the first, won some success. About 4 p.m. General Wimpffen’s brigade joined in the fight, and being well supported by their artillery, the Austrians gradually overpowered and drove back their weaker foe. Soon after 5 p.m. yet another Austrian brigade, General Knebel’s, came up from the south, and the Prussians, fighting with the utmost gallantry, were driven through and beyond Trautenau, and did not halt until they had recrossed the frontier and reached their bivouacs of the previous night near Liebau.

    In this engagement the victorious Austrians lost 196 officers and more than 5,500 men while the defeated Prussians lost only 63 officers and 1,200 men. This great disparity in numbers of killed and wounded on the two sides, which is equally apparent in almost every engagement of the campaign, must be ascribed principally to the vast superiority of the Prussian needle – gun over the Austrian muzzle – loader.((It was not only in the rapidity of the manipulation that the Prussians had the advantage another great point in their favour was that the Austrians were obliged to stand up to reload, thereby offering an easy target.)) It would be difficult to find another case in European warfare where the loss of the victor has been more than four times as great as that of the vanquished.

    Von Bonin’s generalship. – Apart from this question of armament, the battle of Trautenau contains many points of interest. Taking first the Prussians their reverse, which might well have proved more serious than it actually did, was directly due to von Bonin’s failure to realize the strength of the opposition. In the first place, he declined the aid of the Guard Corps, which had been ordered to hold itself in readiness to march, after issuing from the mountains at Braunau, to the assistance of either of the flank columns. If not required by them it was to make for Eipel. No appeal for assistance was received from the right or left. But about midday heavy firing was heard in the direction of Trautenau. Acting in the true spirit of the instructions, the 1 st Guard Division was promptly sent off to the northward, and at 1 p.m. joined the main body of the right column at Parschnitz. At that moment the Prussians appeared to be everywhere successful, and the Guards were informed that their assistance would not be required. After halting for an hour they resumed their march on Eipel, where they arrived in the evening in entire ignorance of the change which had come over the whole situation on their right.

    There is always something admirable in the conduct of a commander who refuses reinforcements in the belief that his own troops are sufficient for the work in hand. By accepting the proffered aid he runs the risk of taking men away from another whose need may be greater than his own. In this case von Bonin knew that the Crown Prince wised the Guards to reach Eipel if possible, and unless obliged to do so he was unwilling to divert them from their objective. Had his decision been based upon a true appreciation of the situation in his immediate front there would have been but little ground for criticism, even though the event had proved him to be wrong. In fact, however, his action was based upon an unwarranted assumption that he would not be called upon to deal with anything more than an outpost and this same over – confidence led him to commit a far graver error. “In was.” said Nelson, “I count nothing well done so long as anything remains to do.” Von Bonin was not Nelson. When the sound of firing died away about 3 p.m. the Prussian commander rashly concluded that his tired troops might safely be allowed to rest, whereas his task was but half accomplished. His duty was to get his main body clear of the Parschnitz defile, and no respite should have been granted until every man had been pushed through Trautenau. Towards evening his error, and the danger of taking anything for granted, was rudely brought home to him, but had he acted with ordinary prudence, one might almost say in accordance with the accepted principles of war, he would have been perfectly able to cope with the Austrian counter – attack.

    Was pursuit possible? – If the Prussian commander brought the reverse upon himself, he was saved from a worse fate by the indirect pressure brought to bear upon his foe by the very troops whose direct aid he had declined. Having hurled the enemy back across the frontier, von Gablenz contented himself with halting for the night on the line of the Aupa. For this he has been freely blamed, but the difficulty of his situation has not always been frankly stated. In summing up the position the Prussian official history says: “He [Gablenz] was unwilling to run the risk of compromising, by a fresh undertaking, the success he had already obtained. This determination had a decisive influence on the subsequent operations, although in other points the fortune of the war had been in favour of the Austrians.”((This passage is quoted by General Bonnal in Sadowa, English translation, p. 92. The author adds: “Even the pursuit of the 1st Corps alone on the night of the 27th – 28th June could, in spite of the reverse of Nachod, have retarded by some days the arrival of the 2nd Army on the Elbe, and enabled Benedek to move, with all his forces united, to meet Prince Frederick Charles, taking as his line Josefstadt – Gitschin – Turnau. “)) But was it really so easy as this passage would seem to imply for von Gablenz to follow up his success? Irrespective of von Benedek’s instructions that the frontier was not to be crossed, there were other difficulties in the way. His leading brigade, Mondel’s, had marched from Praussnitz – Kaile early that morning, and fighting did not cease until 9.30 p.m. at night. The other brigades had worked almost as hard so that there seems to be at least some justification for the Austrian statement that, “owing to the fatigue of the troops and to the darkness of the night there was no pursuit.”((Austrian Official Account, Vol. III, p.80.))But there was more to it than this. During the day preceding the encounter von Gablenz had been summoned to Josefstadt, and had there received verbal orders for the occupation of Trautenau. From the known positions of the enemy at and near the Braunau pass, it was clear to the commander of the 10 th Corps that his right flank would be much exposed. This view of the case he ventured to express to the Commander – in – Chief, who, however, took a more optimistic view of the situation. On the morning of the 27 th von Gablenz again represented the danger in which he must be placed by the withdrawal of the cavalry from Nachod but again his superior was unconvinced. The result showed which of the two had formed the sounder judgment. The Prussian Guard Corps issued unopposed from Braunau and made its way, almost without firing a shot, to Eipel. There it was well placed to threaten the right and rear of the Austrian 10 th Corps, and this danger must have further increased had von Gablenz pushed across the frontier in pursuit. The fact would appear to be that the Braunau pass had to some extent been overlooked by the Austrian Commander – in – Chief. Owing to the conformation of the frontier this pass was difficult to watch at the same time it should not have been neglected but von Benedek seems to have assumed that danger was only to be feared from the direction of Nachod. So long as that was held, he assumed that the 10 th Corps would have nothing to fear except from the enemy in its front, the Prussian right column. The real fault lay, therefore, with the supreme command rather than with von Gablenz, who was pushed forward into an exposed position and has been criticized for not going further. It is always easier to criticize than to act.((It has been suggested that in deciding to push the 10th Corps forward to Trautenau, von Benedek was influenced by news, which had just arrived, of the Austrian victory on the Italian front at Custozza.))

    The action at Soor, 28 th June. – The case can be tested by what actually happened on the following day. In concluding his report to his chief upon the action at Trautenau, von Gablenz wrote: “Since I am threatened in rear and on the right flank, and seeing that my troops, all of whom have been under fire, are thoroughly exhausted, I request most urgently that Praussnitz – Kaile should be occupied by a strong detachment.” He knew, or thought that he knew, that four battalions and four guns were already in that village, and on hearing that in compliance with his demand two more battalions had been sent, he concluded that his retreat upon Josefstadt was more or less secured. In this belief he prepared again to meet the attack of the Prussian 1 st Corps, but at 7.30 a.m. he was ordered to retire upon Praussnitz. Believing the roads to be clear, and that a friendly force was watching in the direction of Eipel, he sent off his baggage trains and ammunition park under a weak escort, followed by the reserve artillery and the main body of his infantry. Colonel Grivicic’s brigade, which had passed the night on the Katzauer Berg, was to march by Alt – Rognitz towards the Eipel road. Should the enemy be found advancing on Kaile, Colonel Grivicic was to fall upon his right flank should no enemy be encountered, this brigade was to take up a position covering Kaile and to act as the advance guard of the 10 th Corps. The whole of the dispositions for the retreat were based upon the understanding that Praussnitz – Kaile was securely held but the fact was that the original four battalions and four guns were in Ober – Praussnitz, a village some ten miles further west, and that the order to the other two battalions had been countermanded. Von Gablenz’s dangerous flank therefore lay entirely open to attack from the direction of Eipel, a state of affairs of which he was first made aware by a report from his baggage escort that detachments of hostile cavalry had been seen close to the line of march.

    The horsemen who appeared thus suddenly upon the flank of the retreating Austrians belonged to the advance guard of the Prussian Guard Corps. At 1 a.m. on the 28 th June the Crown Prince of Prussia heard for the first time of the reverse to the 1 st Corp. Thinking that von Bonin would renew the engagement on the earliest opportunity, he promptly issued the following order: “ As the result of the action of the 1 st Corps at Trautenau is undecided, the Guard Corps will continue its march in the direction already ordered as far as Kaile if the action at Trautenau be still in progress, it will then march on that place and engage the enemy without delay. The Guard Corps will start as soon as possible.” At 5 a.m., the exact hour at which von Benedek issued his orders for the retreat of the 10 th Corps, the 1 st Division of the Prussian Guards, followed by the 2 nd Division, crossed the Aupa at Eipel and threw out mounted patrols. The first reports which were received were to the effect that columns of the enemy were advancing from Königinhof towards Trautenau and Eipel. The Guard Corps, it must be remembered, was completely isolated from the columns to right and left, and this news was considered so serious that the leading division was ordered to halt “in a suitable position” until the situation could be cleared up. The only “suitable position” appeared to be behind the Aupa River, and the troops had actually begun to fall back when it was discovered that the reports were false, and that long lines of Austrian baggage wagons were moving from Trautenau in the direction of Königinhof. The retreat was stopped and the Prussian advance guard was hurried forward, but the delay had enabled von Gablenz to divert his baggage off the main road in the direction of Pilnikau. The only infantry immediately available was von Gablenz’s personal escort and the baggage train guards, but the reserve artillery was coming to hand, and as battery after battery arrived they opened fire against the hostile advance guard. The Prussians promptly advanced to the attack, but were met in the woods north and north – west of Kaile by von Knebel’s Austrian infantry brigade, which came up in the nick of time. The ground favoured the assailants, and the Austrians were soon driven back to a second position near Burkersdorf. For a time von Gablenz hoped that by passing the main body of his infantry, Mondel’s and Wimpffen’s brigades, in rear of von Knebel’s fighting line, he might yet make good his retreat but just as he was about to make the attempt he heard that Praussnitz – Kaile was already in enemy hands. His worst fears were realized, for his communications with Josefstadt were cut.

    At this moment, about 11 a.m., the 2 nd Division of the Prussian Guard Corps was still filing over the Aupa Bridge at Eipel, and it would almost seem as through a vigorous counter – attack by the Austrian infantry, of which three brigades were at hand, might have saved the day. But the men were weary, and the commander, thinking only of retreat, ordered General Wimpffen and Colonel Mondel to follow the baggage across country in the direction of Pilnikau. In this way von Knebel’s brigade was left to bear almost the whole weight of the Prussian attack, and before long it found itself engaged with the entire 1 st Guard Division. The inevitable result followed. In a very short time von Knebel was driven through and beyond Burkersdorf, and was in full retreat towards Pilnikau. Meanwhile one Prussian battalion had lost touch with the troops on the left, and had found a quantity of Austrian baggage and part of Colonel Mondel’s rearguard in the neighbourhood of Neu Rognitz . Here the advantage was with the Austrians, but although they succeeded in covering the withdrawal of the baggage, this minor success in no way affected the general issue. By 1 p.m. the Prussians were in undisputed possession of the battlefield, but they were too much fatigued to press on in pursuit and the Austrians were able to draw off in comparatively good order. The three brigades linked – up at Pilnikau, whence they marched to Neuschloss, where they crossed to the right bank of the Elbe. There they were once more in safety, at all events for a time, but a certain amount of baggage had been lost, and it was not until 9 p.m. that the last detachments rejoined their units.

    A far more serious disaster had overtaken von Gablenz’s remaining brigade. The order to march by the Alt, – Rognitz road did not reach Colonel Grivicic until 9.30 a.m., although it had been dispatched nearly two hours earlier. The second order, telling him to retire on Pilnikau and to join the rest of the corps, was only sent off at 11 a.m., and by that time the head of the brigade was on the high ground above Alt – Rognitz, where it was detected by the Prussian scouts. The commander of the Prussian 2 nd Guard Division immediately detached one battalion to deal with this new enemy which was threatening his right flank, and by midday the two forces were in contact about a mile south – east of Alt – Rognitz. The Prussians attacked with the greatest vigour, but the odds against them were too great, and in a few moments the battalion, together with another sent to its support, were pushed back with heavy losses. Thinking that he was engaged with the head of the Prussian Guard Corps, Colonel Grivicic then threw forward his own right, with the view to interposing between the enemy and the main body of von Gablenz’s corps, which he believed to be marching upon Kaile, for no information to the contrary had yet reached him. His intention was good but in carrying it into effect he exposed his own right flank to attack by the main body of the 2 nd Guard Division, which had already passed across his front. From the woods which lay to the west of the position which he had taken up a heavy fire was opened against his flank, and immediately afterwards another force of the enemy appeared almost in his rear. The surprise was complete and disastrous. The Austrian left wing fought hard, but the right and centre were completely shattered. About 3 p.m. the Colonel Grivicic was wounded, and the defeat then became a rout. Without artillery or cavalry to cover the retreat, or any means of forming an effective rearguard, the infantry soon lost all semblance of cohesion, and of the whole brigade, which had gone into action nearly 6,000 strong, not more than 2,000 rejoined the main body of its parent corps at Pilnikau and Neuschloss.

    Thus ended the action of Soor, in which the Austrians lost all, and more than all, than they had gained at Trautenau on the previous day. Eight guns had fallen into the hands of the enemy, and 123 officers and 3,696 men were killed, wounded, or missing, chiefly from Grivicic’s unfortunate brigade while the Prussian loss amounted to no more than 28 officers and 685 men.

    Seeing what actually occurred on this day, we may again ask whether von Gablenz would have been well advised to follow up his success against the 1 st Prussian Corps at Trautenau, even had his instructions permitted him to do so. Notwithstanding the criticisms of General Bonnal and the Prussian official history, the answer must surely be in the negative. As it was he experienced the greatest difficulty in rejoining the main body, and had he pushed on in pursuit of the Prussian 1 st Corps it is more than possible that he would have found himself entirely cut off.

    Unfortunately for von Gablenz’s reputation as a commander, it is impossible to find any excuse for the final disaster to Grivicic’s brigade, and for that he must bear the entire blame. He knew that there was a strong hostile force in the neighbourhood of Eipel but believing that Praussnitz – Kaile was held by Austrian troops, he attempted to withdraw through that village upon Königinhof, although in doing so he must pass within four miles of the enemy. To protect his main body during this dangerous march he detached a flank guard of one infantry brigade, but failed to provide it either with cavalry or artillery, although it was almost certain to be opposed to a force of all three arms. Worse of all was the failure to ensure proper communication between the two columns. The order for the march took nearly two hours to reach Grivicic, with the result that the main body was well on the road while the flank guard was still in its bivouacs, and the order to retreat never reached its destination at all. It would appear, therefore, that the most ordinary military precautions would have prevented the disaster. In the first place, a route more remote from the enemy should have been selected secondly, the flank guard and the main body should have moved simultaneously, and the closest possible communication should have been maintained between them throughout.

    Before nightfall the head – quarters of the Prussian Guard Corps were established at Trautenau and communication was reopened with the 1 st Corps, whose way into Bohemia was now cleared of all opposition.


    The Battle of Podol.

    The futility of the Austrian infantry tactics was once more made glaringly obvious when at around 8:00 p.m. on 26 th June, Poshacher’s Iron Brigade came trudging down the road towards Podol which was also being fast approached by elements of Horn’s Prussian 8 th Division sent to secure the crossing of the river in the town. Two battalions of Poshacher’s brigade, 1 st and 2 nd Battalions of Infantry Regiment No 34 (ironically titled King of Prussia) and the brigade 4pdr artillery battery, moved over the river lower down from Podol towards Lankow, where for some peculiar reason they remained, while the main body under Colonel Bergou–Poshacher himself being at Clam–Gallas’s headquarters–and consisting of 18 th Jäger battalion and 30 th Infantry Regiment (Martini) heading straight for the two stone bridges over the Iser in Podol. Two companies of Austrian infantry were already in the village when the Magdeburg 4 th Jäger Battalion of Horn’s division, waded across a ford and threatening their retreat, forced them to retire. Colonel Bergou upon arriving on the field endeavoured to retake the village and adopted the same costly formations and tactics that had cost Gondrecourt so dear at Hühnerwasser. For almost two hours his command, lead by the 18 th Jäger Battalion came on with the bayonet men falling on all sides they eventually drove the Prussians back, only to be cut down mercilessly as they attempted to take the high ground beyond the river. At around 10:15 p.m. Poschacher and Clam reached the village. Clam, true to form, threw even more troops into the fray, their massed attacking columns being blown apart as they attempted to get to grips with their foes. Finally, at 2:00 a.m. on the morning of 27 th June, Clam gave the order to retire back to Münchenrätz. The village of Podol and the surrounding countryside was covered in Austrian dead and wounded, one Prussian infantryman stating that his company alone had fired 5,700 rounds in just 33 minutes.46 Total Austrian casualties came to 1,048 officers and men, of whom 600 were taken prisoner. The Prussian losses amounted to 12 officers and 118 men killed and wounded a telling indictment of Austria’s outdated tactics and incompetent command structure.

    Although realising that there was now no chance of retaking Turnau without support arriving from the main army, Crown Prince Albert still harboured the hope that Benedek would indeed soon be on the move to confront the Prussian First Army and The Army of the Elbe. This pipe dream was shattered when the Saxon prince received a telegram from the lack lustre Austrian commander on the 27 th June, informing him that he was still regrouping around Josephstadt, but would be moving out towards Gitschin on the 30 th . Realising that the Iser River line was now compromised Albert ordered his forces to prepare to fall back towards Gitshin on 28 th June. With the two Prussian western armies effectively united Moltke now bent all his efforts on bringing all three of his armies together on the same battlefield.


    Action of Podol, 26-27 June 1866 - History

    Stumbling to War:
    The Battle of Jicin, 1866
    By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
    April 2020

    In most popular histories, if it's mentioned at all, there's only one battle noted for the 1866 Austro-Prussian War: the huge clash at Königgrätz in early July. But before the Austrian, Saxon and Prussian armies could determine Germany's future, they had to maneuver onto the training ground where that battle was fought. And those clashes are the subject of our Battles of 1866: Frontier Battles game.


    Battle is joined west of Jicin.

    Although it was Austria that made the formal moves toward war, Prussia was the aggressor and it was the Prussian army that invaded Saxony and Austrian-ruled Bohemia in June 1866. King Wilhelm I held the titular command, but it was his chief of staff, Helmuth von Moltke, who actually determined strategy. Moltke sent two separate wings into Austrian territory, with the First Army led by Prince Friedrich Carl on the Prussian left and the Second Army of Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm on the right. The much smaller Elbe Army joined up with First Army after an uncontested occupation of Saxony.

    The bulk of Austrian Feldzeugmeister Ludwig von Benedek's North Army had concentrated at Olmütz in southern Moravia: an overly conservative deployment, particularly given the long mobilization period that preceded the war, but at least he enjoyed good rail communication with the rest of the empire and could cover Vienna. One corps and one light cavalry division were stationed forward near Prague, with the other six corps and four cavalry divisions with the main army. When the Prussians showed their hand, Benedek moved his main force between the two Prussian armies.

    For a brief period, the Austrians held a decided strategic advantage. Benedek had the opportunity to fall on either of the Prussian armies with his whole force, but fumbled his chance. As separate Austrian and Prussian corps fought several engagements at the mouths of the passes leading from Prussian Silesia into Bohemia in the last week of June, his intelligence chief urged him to strike. But his chief of staff counseled caution, and a constant stream of telegrams from Kaiser Franz Josef in Vienna apparently fogged his thinking. Unable to choose, Benedek sat in place.

    The Austrian forces left in Bohemia joined up with the Saxon Army as planned, and fell back toward Benedek's position. The I Corps fought several sharp delaying actions, suffering heavy casualties in a bayonet attack at Hühnerwasser. First Light Cavalry Division evened the score by shooting up a Prussian brigade at Podol, and the combined Allied force executed a well-conducted delaying action at Münchengrätz on 28 June.

    Though the combined Austrian forces greatly outnumbered the Saxon contingent, Benedek entrusted command to Saxony's Crown Prince Albert. This allowed him to avoid placing the incompetent Eduard Clam-Gallas of I Corps in command on the field. Albert performed well fighting for his former enemies during the Franco-Prussian War, and he handled the retreat at Münchengrätz deftly. He would be less impressive at Jicin.

    Clam, in contrast, had a troubling tendency to retreat to the bottle when under stress. He had been drunk at least twice during battles of the 1859 war against France, and was widely known as the Army Drum, "because he was always being beaten." But he stood second only to Benedek on the Austrian Army's seniority list &mdash a near-sacred document among the Imperial-Royal officer corps &mdash and as the corps' peacetime commander he could not be easily removed. His ad latus general &mdash an attached officer intended to serve as second-in-command or to lead a wing of the corps in combat &mdash was the very aggressive Leopold Gondrecourt, enjoying nearly untouchable political standing as the former tutor to Crown Prince Rudolf.


    The Army Drum in happier times, as a brigadier in Italy, 1848.

    Clam's I Corps was the largest of the Austrian formations to take part in the 1866 war, with its standard structure reinforced by a fifth brigade when the pre-war garrison of Holstein arrived in Bohemia. It included Ferdinand Poschacher von Poschach's battle-tested "Iron Brigade." It also had North Army's least reliable regiment, the 38th "Haugwitz" Infantry Regiment from Venice. A standard Austrian corps with its four infantry brigades, cavalry regiment and brigade-sized artillery detachment was difficult for the best generals and staffs to control. With an extra brigade added, Clam and his staff &mdash most of them drawn from his peacetime headquarters in Prague &mdash were well out of their depth. With 41,000 men, 4,700 horses and 80 guns the corps was the size of some other nations' field armies.

    The other major Austrian formation in Bohemia, 1st Light Cavalry Division, stood in sharp contrast and was probably the best large Austrian unit at the start of the war. Led by Austria's best-known cavalryman, Leopold von Edelsheim-Gyulai, the division's regiments had practiced scouting, screening and dismounted combat &mdash missions unknown to most European cavalry units. Edelsheim had won the Military Order of Maria Theresa at Solferino in 1859, leading his regiment on a mad charge into a gap in the French lines and personally lopping off the arm of French Marshal Francois Canrobert.

    While he had made his reputation as a fighting soldier, Edelsheim was one of the more forward-looking Austrian generals (and at 40, the youngest commanding a major formation) and had eagerly studied cavalry operations in the American Civil War. Frustrated by the army's immense bureaucracy, he had dipped into his massive personal fortune to buy Werndl repeating rifles for his men. The Cavalry School and its chief, the Prince of Thurn und Taxis (wartime commander of the 2nd Light Cavalry Division) still preached mounted combat as the cavalry's reason for existence. Edelsheim saw the cavalryman using his mobility to frustrate enemy movements and gather intelligence. An oversized division, 1st Light Cavalry had three brigades with 6,700 horsemen, plus 24 guns.

    At Münchengrätz, Albert divided his forces, accepting his chief of staff's adamant suggestion to split the retreating army to avoid clogging the roads. The Saxons therefore headed southwards before turning to re-join the Austrians at Jicin. Albert rode to Jicin alone at dawn on 29 June to find word from Benedek that the North Army would arrive there on the 30th. Here the Austrian staff system showed its worst flaws. Benedek had spent the years prior to the war commanding Austrian forces in Italy, assisted by a brilliant chief of staff, Franz John. John (who would be raised to the service nobility for his actions in the 1866 war) had always translated Benedek's vague intentions into stark, blunt directives. But John had been retained in Italy to prop up the bumbling Archduke Albrecht. North Army's chief of staff, Alfred Ritter von Henikstein, sent out missives almost directly taken from his boss' mutterings. Clam and the crown prince had to translate for themselves, and decided that Benedek had ordered them to hold Jicin and that a firm decision had been reached to concentrate North Army there. It was a reasonable guess: Jicin stood roughly halfway between the two Prussian armies and had in fact been chosen by Moltke as the point where he would concentrate his own forces.

    Gondrecourt, tasked with arranging the defense, had five brigades to hold a very strong position instead of the 13 that should have been available. Edelsheim's scouts reported Prussians advancing on the town from two directions, with what was thought to be the larger force coming from the north. Gondrecourt placed two I Corps brigades on the left, in good hilltop positions. Along the ridgelines running west to north he put another brigade, with one more in reserve. On the hills across the road coming from the north he set up 56 guns from I Corps and 1st Light Cavalry Division, creating a deadly killing ground. The fifth Austrian infantry brigade went to the right of the gun line, with the Austrian cavalry directly behind the batteries in support.

    It was a very strong position, but the gun line desperately needed infantry support that I Corps could not provide. Gondrecourt begged the crown prince to move up one of his divisions, but instead Albert allowed it to bivouac after marching for seven hours. With the Saxons camped well to the south, Clam sent word to the nearest Austrian unit, Archduke Ernst's III Corps. Both Ernst's corps and Karl Maria Coudenhove's 3rd Heavy Cavalry Division were within easy reach of Jicin, but the archduke refused to allow either to move.

    On the Prussian side, Friedrich Carl was finding army command much more difficult in wartime than on maneuvers. The prince had commanded Prussian forces in the 1864 war with Denmark. But as the Austrians and Saxons pulled out of Münchengrätz, the vaunted Prussian staff tried to jam the entire army through the small town &mdash almost 100,000 men concentrated in less than a square mile. Massive traffic jams ensued and the prince was forced to extricate his divisions one at a time. Worse, though the prince had been assigned a cavalry division, they proved inept at scouting and screening and his chief of staff, Konstans Bernard von Voights-Rhetz placed them at the tail end of First Army's march order so that his infantry would not soil their uniforms plodding through piles of horseshit. The Prussians would stumble forward prettily, but blindly.

    While the Prussian supply system broke down, Edelsheim's cavalry torched food supplies, slaughtered livestock and poisoned wells in First Army's path. Hungry and thirsty, the Prussians also suffered from poor staff work. Before the war began, Moltke removed the headquarters of First Army's III and IV Corps to provide staff assets for the two new army headquarters. That left the prince and Voigts-Rhetz struggling to coordinate individual divisions and a large array of support units - formations usually handled by the missing corps commands.

    As First Army dealt with its staff crisis, Moltke began to send panicked telegrams urging him to move quickly westward to prevent the massive attack on Second Army the Prussian commander believed imminent. During pre-war planning exercises the Prussians had intended to execute complex maneuvers, using telegraph wires strung along behind their advancing forces to coordinate their movements. Now the messages came in only intermittently as Edelsheim's cavalrymen cut the wires and encouraged Bohemian peasants to steal them. Later in the war, the Austrian horsemen would realize that the Prussians used no codes and they could tap the lines and send their own contradictory orders.

    Not until noon on the 29th did the prince manage to get two divisions moving towards Gitschin - Moltke's urgency led him to believe that he could not wait to untangle all of his forces. A few hours later he got a third one on the way. To speed their move he sent them all of them along different roads, and remained in Münchengrätz with his headquarters to sort out his troops and barrage Moltke with telegrams demanding more supply convoys.

    From the north, Lt. Gen. Ludwig Karl von Tümpling's Brandenburger 5th Infantry Division came down the road from Kniznitz and made the first contact with the Austrians. Rather than wait for the other divisions, Tümpling reasoned it more likely that the Austrians would be reinforced first and lined up his batteries for a preparatory barrage. After 90 minutes of shelling, in which the Austrian batteries did greater damage than the attackers, the Prussians came forward for an infantry assault.

    At the first sound of the guns, Albert rushed south to get his infantry moving while Clam nervously fretted that perhaps the Austrians should retreat. The Prussians drove back two of the Iron Brigade's battalions, but Poschacher's personal intervention saved the brigade. A Salzburger, Poschacher had risen through the army's elite 10th Feldjäger Battalion and now fell back on his light infantry experience. He ordered his jäger battalion to hold his front alone, while his remaining six battalions stood behind them, loading rifles as quickly as possible and passing them forward to the gray-coated marksmen. The Prussians ran into a wall of fire, and Tümpling's 9th Brigade collapsed. The general then personally led his 10th Brigade in a flanking attack that fell apart when Vincenz Abele's Austrian brigade struck it in its own flank in turn.


    Prussians penetrate into Diletz, but where are the Saxons?

    Things were going the Austrians' way, but Tümpling was not ready to quit just yet. Rallying his 9th Brigade, he now launched it at the break between the Austrian gun line and Ludwig Piret's Austrian brigade, the sector assigned to the Saxons. Piret tried to stop them, but the needle gun mowed down troops of the Venetian 45th "Sigismund" Infantry Regiment and the counter-attack crumbled. The Prussians swiftly entered the town of Diletz, flanking the gun line and imperiling the entire position.

    As the Prussians moved into the town from the north, the Saxons finally arrived from the south and the Venetians resumed their attack, delivering devastating fire into the Saxon flank (the Saxons, like the Prussians, wore spiked pickelhaube helmets). Piret then gathered his brigade and launched a full-scale bayonet attack, only to see his assault columns shot to pieces by the needle gun. Routed, his troops fled in disorder. The Prussians had successfully broken the Austrian position, and repeated attacks by 1st Light Cavalry Division could not restore the situation.

    About the time Tümpling's first attacks were being turned back, Lt. Gen August Leopold Graf von Werder's Pomeranian 3rd Infantry Division came up the west road from Sobotka. In the late afternoon they ran into Maj. Gen Josef Ringelsheim's Austrian brigade, waiting on the hills around Unter-Lochow. Repeated Prussian attacks fell apart the much better-served Austrian guns dominated the battlefield. When the Prussians tried to close, they found that the Austrian muzzle-loading Lorenz rifles might be much slower to load than their own needle guns, but they had a much greater range.

    Ringelsheim's men repelled three attacks with little difficulty, as an Austrian cavalry regiment on the far left flank frustrated Prussian efforts to work their way around the position and Vincenz Abele's brigade made a key counter-attack. But while Abele's attention was turned to Tümpling's advance, the Prussians stormed past without interference from Abele's troops and soon Ringelsheim had to pull back. Massive casualties ensued as the Austrians launched their own attacks to break contact.

    By 1930 hours, the Austrian situation was dangerous but not yet out of hand. The cavalry division was still intact Leiningen's Austrian brigade and three of the four Saxon brigades had seen no action. Fresh Austro-Saxon troops outnumbered the Prussian total, and the Prussians had been hurt badly themselves. The Prussian 4th Division was just beginning to appear to the northwest, but had not yet reached the Austrian lines.


    The streets of Jicin. Leiningen's brigade holds off Pomeranians of the Prussian 3rd Division.

    At that moment, a courier arrived from Benedek's headquarters with written orders telling Albert to join the North Army. Headquarters had a telegraph connection to Jicin, but chief of staff Alfred Ritter von Henikstein had chosen to send the orders on horseback more than seven hours previously. While Clam stood by, Gondrecourt and the crown prince fell into a shouting match, with the Saxon insisting that the orders had to be obeyed and the Austrian equally insistent that they did not reflect the current situation. And in any case, he shouted, flipping the order over to show its blank reverse, Henikstein had not bothered to include a location to which the combined force should march.

    Albert would "brook no argument" from Gondrecourt or any of the Austrian staff officers who supported his case, one of them wrote later. The army would disengage from the Prussians and head to the east along separate roads. The shattered remnants ended up at the Königgrätz army maneuver area, well-known to the Austrian officers from peacetime exercises, and there they and the Saxons sorted out their intermingled commands.

    A chance for a major Austrian victory, Jicin instead resulted in a stunning defeat as the outnumbered Prussians knocked the Austrians out of one of the strongest natural defensive positions in Bohemia. Benedek reacted by firing both Henikstein and Clam, while praising Albert &mdash the crown prince had total job security, and any statement implying incompetence could only weaken the alliance.

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    Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and NASA Journalist in Space finalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.

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