Calamitas atrocissima (Teutoburg Forest, A. D. 9)
In step with the traditions of the Roman Empire Augustus conducted an expansionist foreign policy. Julius Caesar having started campaigns against the Germans along the northern borders, Augustus wished to continue this expansionism, indeed, he wanted to outdo the military successes of his adopter. This process began with the establishment of trading relations that were advantageous for the Germans as well. Some Germanic aristocrats were also persuaded to cooperate with the Romans. However, the increased military presence of the Romans, the introduction of Roman jurisdiction, which ignored Germanic traditions, and the considerable increase in taxes resulted in discontent among the Germans. In A. D. 9, Arminius, a young, ambitious Germanic chieftain started an uprising against the Romans. He sat a trap for Roman proconsul Varus and his three legions. More than twenty thousand Roman troops fell in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, which was the worst defeat inflicted on Augustus during his long and successful reign.
The article analyses the historical situation before the battle, and the battle itself on the basis of Greek and Roman authors. It descibes the lives of the commanders, Varus and Arminius, and scrutinizes their respective roles in the course of battle. It analyses the effect this serious defeat had on Augustus and on Roman policy, and discusses the effect that the figure of Arminius and the myth surrounding him have had on the cultural and intellectual life of Germany.
Fatal victory (Lützen, November 16, 1632)
The Thirty Years' War was one of the darkest periods in the history of mankind. This long period saw lootings, pillagings, cruelties, murders, massacres that decimated the population of the German states. And all that on a scale that is rarely characteristic of wartime conditions. How could this happen, what were the direct causes? The answer might be given through the examination of the art of war of the age, and the discovery of the contradictions between the quality of the opposing military forces and the political goals envisaged.
Maintaining an army of merceneries for a lengthened period of time was an impossible task for the European states of those days. It caused problems of logistics and supplies in the protracted wars, which, in turn, significantly affected discipline and the solutions of problems. In tactics the simplest possible solutions had to be attempted, first of all to increase the moral cohesion of masses. It was impossible to maintain discipline among hungry and unprovided troops. This caused all the tragedies that characterised that war.
Looking for solutions already started during the hostilities, of course. Various ideas, solutions were put forward to maintain provisions, do develop discipline and more effective warfare. Sweden's Gustavus II Adolphus was certainly the most successful of these innovators. The Swedish army under his command appeared in the theatre of war in a novel organization, and it was also complemented according to partially different principles. The preparedness, discipline and morale of the soldiers made possible strategics and tactics that brought significant successes for the Protestant alliance. Their efficiency appeared most obviously in the battles of Breitenfeld and Lützen.
The essay analyses the Swedish army and its leadership through the battle of Lützen, attempting to sum up the most important strategic innovations that would be formulated into decisive principles a few decades later. Not wishing to introduce new results concerning the course of the battle, the author merely wanted to point out certain aspects that made this battle one of utmost importance in military history even if it did not affect the course of the war in a decisive way.
Hussar armies holding their ground in the birthplace of the Danube Monarchy (Kolín, June 18, 1757)
The Third Silesian War or Seven Years' War (1756-63) stands out among the dynastic wars fought in the eighteeth century for the succession of the Hapsburg House. The most memorable of the many significant battles of that long armed conflict is associated with the name of the town of Kolín in Bohemia. The relatively few battle histories have emphasized the political aspects, celebrating the victory of the Austrian forces over the Prussians as the birth of the Danube Monarchy. At the same time, however, this battle was of utmost significance in the history of warfare since it was the first time that Frederick II, who developed linear tactics and ingenuously used the slanted battle array, and who personally led his forces in battle, was defeated. The general's rule of thumb of his opponent, Field Marshal Count Leopold Daun was the first condition of victory. Recognizing the intention of the enemy to give battle, and himself being ready for it, he arranged his troops in an advantageous defensive position, personally continuously observing the Prussian deployment from a perfect observation post. With the movement of the enemy's movements constantly in view, he redirected the Austrian troops as needed, especially to firmly reinforce his right wing threatened by the slanted battle array, which became obvious after a time. With this he prevented the enemy from breaking through, thwarting its attampt at turning and rolling up his defensive line. Indeed, he managed, after repelling the assault, with forceful counterthrusts to break through Frederick's line, which was suffering increasing losses and attacking with growing desperation. Hungarian units played a significant role in the Hapsburg triumph. Most significant of these was the detached contingent under the command of Cavalry General Count Ferenc Nádasdy, consisting of the 49 squadrons of eleven cavalry regiments of the permanent army and three cavalry regiments from the military frontiers. This unit from the beginning constantly tied down the advance guard of the enemy on the threatened right flank, and then intervening in every critical situation made the execution of the Prussian slanted battle array impossible. In close combat, the thirteen battalions and two grenadier companies from two Hungarian infantry regiments of the permanent army and five regiments of the military frontiers stood their ground as well as the hussars, always deployed by the Hapsburg leadership in the most dangerous sectors. Thus, it was a feat outstanding in Hungarian military history as well, demonstrating the decisive role light troops played in regular battle. It was to commemorate that triumph that Marie Theresie founded the military order named after herself (Der Maria-Theresia-Orden). The first decorated with this order for their outstanding military performance, and for their significant exploits undertaken voluntarily in that battle included a number of Hungarians, such as Cavalry General Count Ferenc Nádasdy, Major General András Hadik, nobleman, Major General Fülöp Beck, gentleman, who received the great cross, and Major General Count Miklós Esterházy, Colonel József Sinkovics, gentleman, and Major Zsigmond Kerekes, nobleman, awarded the small cross.
The Battle of Austerlitz (December 2, 1805)
The peace treaties of Lunéville (February 9, 1801) and of Amiens (March 25, 1802) concluded hostilities that had lasted for nearly a decade. After that there was peace all over Europe. This, however, did not last long because neither the French nor the English observed the provisions of the treaties, and war broke out again on May 16, 1803. In September, 1805, England was joined by Austria, Russia, Sweden, and Naples, and military operations commenced on land.
Napoleon immediately started his forces around the camp at Boulogne, crossed the Rhine and surrounded the Austrian troops of General Mack with an ingenuous manoeuvre. Then the emperor, in pursuit of Kutusov, who had come to the aid of Mack, captured Vienna and Brünn, but the Russians eluded him. These Russians were joined near Olmütz by a Russian army deployed as a reinforcement, and by a hastily gathered. Austrian corps. Since Napoleon had to leave troops behind to secure his lines of communications, the Allies found themselves in superior numbers. Their military leadership decided to drive the French from the territory of the Austrian Empire. Napoleon was ready to give battle, so the opponents met near Brünn, at Austerlitz.
The Allies, following to the plan of Weyrother, attacked the southern (right) wing of the French, intending to turn north and destroy the French army. The assault of the Allies, after minor initial successes, was stopped by the resistance of the French troops firmly defending the line of the Goldbach stream. The attack was also hindered by the fact that the Allies, due to poor staff work, could not deploy their troops under united coordinaton, but part by part only.
Napoleon patiently waited until the opposition had withdrawn its forces from the centre to renew the halted attack in the south, and struck at the moment when there was no allied soldier to oppose them. The allied leadersip tried to stop the French breakthrough by launching a number of counterattacks — without success.
On the northern flank the opposing forces of similar size fought a see-saw battle for a long time, but with the moral and command superiority of the French triumphing, the Russian troops led by Bagration fled from the battlefield.
In the centre the allies were forced to deploy their last reserve, the Russian Imperial Guards against the French breakthrough. The counteroffensive started successfully, the French troops fled, but the cavalry of the French Imperial Guards along with the reserves managed to repulse the desperate Russian assaults. The outcome of the battle decided, the exploitation of victory followed.
Napoleon turned the troops breaking through the centre to the south to outflank the enemy there, while pursuing the fleeing enemy with the reserves. The whole allied offensive wing stood in the south, but the French troops were too tired, and some of the allied troops managed to escape from this difficult position; nevertheless, the French took a considerable number of prisoners.
In the battle the French lost 8300 men, while the allied casualties numbered 25-27.000.
The essay, besides narrating the events, analyses and asseses them. The presentation and assessment of the plans is remarkably novel since, contrary to the analytical methods used so far, the way of thinking that conceived the plans as well as the internal and external effects are also considered besides the examination of the effects of the plans. The tactical presentation in the greatest possible detail of some interesting events is an impotant aspect of the paper.
The present essay is the first detailed account of the battle of Austerlitz in Hungarian.
The Transdanubian campaign of Mór Perczel and the battle of Mór (December 30, 1848)
Of the battles and engagements of 1848-49 mostly the great, decisive battles (Pákozd, Schwechat, Kápolna, Isaszeg) have attracted enough attention for monographs or essays, although recently minor engagements (Hatvan, Csorna, Ihász) have also been discussed more frequently. István Görgey published a separate booklet on Mór already in 1867 with the admitted purpose to clear his brother Artúr Görgey of the charges that blamed him for Perczel's defeat at Mór. The defeat has been the subject of lively debates ever since, and this also justifies another attempt to reconstruct its history on the basis of Hungarian and Austrian documents. With regard to its size, it was a minor battle since the total number of the forces deployed on both sized was less than 12.000; on the Hungarian side the Perczel Corps, on the Austrian side two brigades participated in the combat.
Since it is a well documented battle, the events are easy to reconstruct. The author has used numerous memoires besides the official reports for the Hungarian side; for the Austrian side, official documents plus the diary and the recollections of two Austrian officers have provided information. The battle can be divided into four stages:
1) The Perczel Corps repelled the Grammont Brigade attempting to advance from Kisbér.
2) Most of the infantry of the corps advanced into the forest to develop the advantage, but retreated before the counterthrust of the Grammont Brigade, and disintegrated in the process.
3) The Ottinger Brigade just arriving attacked the Hungarian left flank and centre wavering because of the retreating infantry, forcing both to retreat.
4) During the pursuit the brigade captured hundreds of prisoners and took five cannons.
The primary cause of the defeat was Perczel's carelessness. He had failed to inform of the plan of the attack either Görgei or Colonel Ferdinánd Karger, commander of the nearest brigade of the Army of the Upper Danube. He allowed the enemy to take the advantageous position before Mór, making possible the outflanking of his own left wing. The other cause was the composition of the two parties. The troops deployed by Jellačić did not exceed Percel's in number, but his heavy cavalry outnumbered the Hungarian hussars three to one. In addition, Jellačić used the bulk of his forces to attack the Hungarian left wing, thereby creating a local superiority. With the Hungarian left flank crushed, the centre and the right wing was forced to retreat as well. It should be noted, of course, that in case the battle were protracted, Jellačić could count on the arrival of at least seven hundred troops of the Hartlieb Division. The defeat was, therefore, inevitable.
The consequences of the battle were fatal. The Army of the Upper Danube led by Görgei had to undertake the defence of all the roads leading to the capital. Thereby his defensive line became so long that he had to concentrate his troops near the capital. This resulted in the resolution of the National Defence Committee and the Parliament to evacuate the capital and transfer the seat of government to Debrecen.
It is a different question that there was little chance of defending the capital even if Perczel's army had won or remained intact. The main Hungarian army to be concentrated before the capital would still siginificantly be outnumbered by that of Windisch-Grätz. What did make a difference, however, was whether a part of the Hungarian army executed its retreat relatively intact or thrashed to pieces.
The organization of the Northern Mobile Corps. Problems of organization and military failures at the turn of 1848-1849
The histories of army corps are still an unresearched part of the documents of the Revolution and War of Independence of 1848-49. The archives of the 1st Hungarian Corps, which have almost completely survived and are still unresearched, are especially significant among the archival materials of the Hungarian corps. The present essay attempts to tell the story of the so-called Northern Mobile Corps, which is a phase of the early history of that corps.
On December 6, 1848 Count Franz Schlik, one of the most talented Austrian generals, broke into the territory of the country from Dukly with a column of 8.000, took Sáros County in a few days without meeting any resistance, and, on December 11, crushed with his artillery the untrained and unequipped Hungarian "army" consisting mostly of militiamen hastily gathered to meet him, between Budamér and Kassa. In view of the gravity of the situation, the National Defence Committee (Országos Honvédelmi Bizottmány, OHB) sent one of its members, Bertalan Szemere as government commissioner plenipotentiary to the region, had the commander of the army corps, Colonel Sándor Pulszky replaced by Defence Minister Lázár Mészáros himself as commander of the "northern mobile army", sending significant reinforcements, more infantry (honvéd) and hussar units besides the militia, to the camp at Miskolc. Szemere and Mészáros were expected to solve the deficiencies of the mostly recently recruited and still untrained troops along with whatever problems came along within a few days. They had no time for any substantial outfitting and training since the OHB wanted results as soon as possible. The political and military leadership expected the retaking of Kassa, hoping that Schlik would not only be forced to retreat, but the Imperial and Royal Corps could be captured as well. Thus, along with the outfitting of the units, the drawing up of the plan of an operation against Kassa started, too. The commander of the army corps decidet to start that operation after the battle at Szikszó on December 28. However, the Hungarian hopes previously cherished vanished at Kassa, on January 4, 1849. After their defeat, the Hungarian troops retreated to Miskolc, and the reorganization of the failed corps remained the responsibility of Colonel György Klapka, the new commander-in-chief from January 13.