Saturday, March 6, 2010

Campaign Background

Start of Danube Campaign

Austrian Army

The Austrians had been reluctant allies of the French during the Russian campaign of 1812. The destruction of the French army allowed them to enter into a new alliance with Prussia to invade France before Napoleon could recover. By1 May 1813 they had gathered four new corps around Vienna and were ready to advance down the Danube valley against Munich

The news from northern Germany of allied victories decided Vienna to order an advance down the Danube valley to destroy the Bavarian army and take Munich.

The first stage would be to take Passau, to secure their communications with the Russian army at Dresden. Linz would be the staging area and also their main supply depot. First and Second corps were concentrated at Linz, Third at Krems and Fourth at Vienna.

On 11 June 1813 Archduke Charles arrived at Linz to take command of the field army.

Third French Army

Napoleon was not expecting any trouble in southern Germany. The Austrians had fought alongside the French in the Russian campaign. Despite this Marshal Oudinot was sent to Munich to take command of the Bavarian and Baden armies, and tasked to observe the Austrians and prevent them from marching north to join the Prussians and Russians.

The Bavarian army had suffered badly during the Russian campaign, and was reduced to two corps. 9th Bavarian corps held Passau and the communications with Napoleon to the north. 11th Bavarian corps held Salzburg which required firm control to prevent any outbreak of Tyrolean disorder. 12th Baden corps was forming at Ratisbon and 10th Bavarian corps at Munich.

At Munich Oudinot dismissed reports of the Austrian army concentration around Linz as saber rattling. He was aware of Austrian designs on Bavaria, but felt confident that they would not dare to challenge Napoleon now that the reorganized Grande Armee was fighting to the north on the rivers Saale and Elbe.

It was therefore a complete shock when news reached him at Munich on the night of 12 June 1813 of the Austrian army advance towards Passau along the south bank of the Danube.

The Danube campaign has started.

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