1703 – Beginning of Rákóczi Uprising in Hungary

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1703 – Beginning of Rákóczi Uprising in Hungary

The campaign lasted from April to December 1703


In the Spring of 1703, the Imperialists had 7 infantry rgts (9,946 men) and 6 cavalry rgts (8,368 men among which 50% had no horse) stationed in Hungary and Transylvania. More precisely:

  • in Hungary
    • Deutschmeister Infantry had recently given 8 coys for the creation of Virmond Infantry and was awaiting recruits from Lower Austria
    • Molnár Infantry unidentified unit
    • Montecuccoli Cuirassiers (6 sqns)
    • Free Companies (37 coys varying from 40 to 120 men each, armed with old muskets) garrisoning various places
      • in Ofen (present-day Buda/HU) (4 coys)
      • in Eperies (present-day Prešov/SK) and Makovicza (unidentified location) (2 coys)
      • in Kanizsa (present-day Nagykanizsa) (2 coys)
      • in Sziget (unidentified location) (2 coys)
      • in Grosswardein (present-day Oradea/RO) (2 coys)
      • in Leopoldstadt (present-day Leopoldov) (2 coys)
      • in Tokey (present-day Tokaj/HU) (2 coys)
      • in Munkács (present-day Mukachevo/UKR) (2 coys)
      • in Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK) (5 coys)
      • in Szendrő (1 coy)
      • in Leutschau (present-day Levoča/SK) (1 coy)
      • in Pressburg (present-day Bratislava/SK) (1 coy)
      • in Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK) (1 coy)
      • in Trentschin (present-day Trenčín/SK) (1 coy)
      • in Arwa and Likova (unidentified location) (1 coy)
      • in Komorn (present-day Komárom/HU) (3 coys)
      • in Raab (present-day Győr/HU) (5 coys)
  • in Transylvania

In April, Albert Kiss, Thomas Ezse, Michael Papp and some others assembled a small group of rebels in the mountains and sent a delegation to Ferenc II Rákoczy in Poland.

At the end of May, Rákoczy left Princess Bely's castle in Haliez (present-day Halych/UKR).

On 1 June in the evening, Rákoczy, who had ridden by way of Skole, reached the village of Klimiec (present-day Klimiecz) in the Carpathian Mountains, close to the border with Hungary.

On ?? June, the delegation sent by the rebels met Rákoczy in the village of Klimiec in Poland. After some discussions, Rákoczy sent flags with the inscription “Cum deo pro patria et libertate” to the rebels and promised his assistance. Rákoczy also asked to wait for his arrival before undertaking any action.

Rákoczy then waited for the arrival of armed parties from the nearby counties of Semplin (present-day Zemplín/SK), Beregh (probably Bereg/HU) and Ungvar (present-day Uzhhorod/UKR).

At the beginning, the rebels could count only on a small force of 2,000 poorly equipped men. Most of them had been poor farmers or brigands. They did not wait for Rákoczy's arrival and attacked some governmental magazines in the region of Munkács (present-day Mukachevo/UKR) and Dolha (present-day Dovhe/UKR).

The governor of the County of Szatmar and Marmáros (present-day Maramureș/RO), Count Károlyi assisted by Count Stephan Csáky concentrated some Insurrection troops (levy militia) from the Counties of Szatmar, Ugocsa, Beregh and Marmáros and sought engagement with the rebels.

On 7 June, Count Károlyi defeated the rebels at Dolha. He then went to Vienna to present the captured flags and to describe the dangerous situation.

Meanwhile, Kiss and Ezse had brought a party of 200 foot and 50 horse to Klimiec. Some 100 men were brigands from Bernf (unidentified location), 10 men were deserters and the rest were peasants from Rákoczy’s confiscated estates, armed with scythes, pitchforks and shovels. Nevertheless, Rákoczy did not want to cross the border with such a small force, especially after the defeat suffered by the rebels at Dolha.

By 15 June, reinforcements were gradually arrived at Klimiec, led by Papp and Horváth.

On 16 June, Rákoczy finally decided to cross the border of Hungary with his small force, crossing the Vereczke Pass.

On 19 June, Rákoczy’s force, which had been reinforced along the way and now counted 300 horse and 3,000 foot, reached Munkács. Rákoczy then reviewed the rebel force but was not very pleased by what he saw. These farmers hated all aristocrats, had no discipline and were mainly interested by plunder.

The first military action that Rákoczy decided to undertake was the recapture of the Castle of Munkács which had belonged to his family. The castle was defended by a garrison of 2 free coys totalling some 240 men.

On 20 June

  • Kuruc
    • A rebel party of a few hundreds men tried to surround and attack the Castle of Munkács but they routed at the first shots fired from the walls of the castle.
    • Rákoczy was informed that an ammunition-convoy had just left Kaschau, escorted by Austrian cavalry and that, on hearing of the presence of the rebels at Munkács, the officer commanding the convoy had halted at Szerednye (present-day Serednje/UKR), 17 km to the northwest of Munkács, and put the wagons in security in the castle. Rákoczy detached a few hundreds men to attack Szerednye.

On 21 June, the rebels attacked Szerednye, burning the houses and huts near the castle. In town, they found a larger number of wine barrels and got drunk.

On 22 June, with the rebels in no fighting condition, the Austrian ammunition convoy came out unhindered from the Castle of Szerednye and retired towards Kaschau.

When FZM Count Ottavio Nigrelli, who commanded the Austrian forces in Upper Hungary (mostly present-day Slovakia), learned that Rákoczy had advanced from Galicia and entered into Hungary, he had in Kaschau only 3 ill-equipped free companies fit only for garrison duty and 2 sqns (4 coys for a total of 320 men) of the Montecuccoli Cuirassiers. The remaining 4 sqns had already left for Vienna to rejoin the army assembling at Passau in Bavaria. The 2 sqns in Kaschau were supposed to follow in the next days.

On 25 or 26 June

  • Relief of Munkács
    • The 2 sqns of Montecuccoli Cuirassiers arrived near Munkács. Before crossing the Latoreza River (present-day Latorica River) the 2 sqns separated in two detachments to irrupt in Munkács from north and west and to push the rebels under the guns of the castle.
    • Rákoczy was informed of the approach of these Austrian cuirassiers. However, the number of cuirassiers was so exaggerated that the rebels gave any thought pf opposing resistance and planned to retire.
    • The approach of the Austrian cuirassiers from two sides just increased the general panic and confusion. Part of the rebels dispersed towards the mountains while Rákoczy and his followers crossed the Latoreza near the village of Arosvég (unidentified location) with the other part of their forces, abandoning most of their baggage on the left bank of the river.
    • One of the Austrian sqns reached the baggage of the rebels, approached the ford and fired on the rebels, killing a page who was standing near Rákoczy.
    • Some rebel troops who were still on the left bank fired on the cuirassiers, killing a few men and a major.

Rákoczy then learned that the nobility of the County of Marmaros had remained loyal to the Habsburg and turned against him. He had no choice but to retire towards the Galician border with the few hundreds men (mostly mounted men) who had remained with him.

The easy victory against the rebels near Dolha and Rákoczy’s precipitous retreat towards the Galician frontier, gave the Austrian Court the false impression that the upheaval was not as serious as first estimated. However, some Hungarian magnates thought otherwise. This was the case of Count Sándor Károlyi, Count Stefan Csáky and Count Simon Forgách, who knew the conditions in Hungary and the state of mind of its people and who feared a general rebellion. However, FZM Nigrelli lacked the necessary insight and goodwill to convince Vienna.

Prince Eugène warned the Court of the danger of postponing serious measures to prepare for a possible insurrection on Hungary and proposed a list of measures that he considered as absolutely necessary and urgent. The following measures were approved by the emperor:

  1. to bring field militia and free companies to their full complement
  2. to replace the companies that Deutschmeister Infantry had recently given for the creation of Virmond Infantry
  3. to add 200 men to the free companies under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Grumbach at Leutschau
  4. to keep the Montecuccoli Cuirassiers in Hungary and to send an additional 1,500 horse there
  5. to supply a horse to each of the 6 Fourierschützen of each company of foot and to use them as dragoons
  6. to establish a Hungarian national militia in the loyal counties and to assemble some 550 hussars and 250 hayducks in Upper Hungary under Major-General Gombos, and 500 hussars and 300 hayducks in Lower Hungary on both sides of the Danube under Colonel Count Stefan Koháry
  • to transfer 700 horse from Transylvania to Upper Hungary

However, the implementation of these recommendations was extremely slow.

Agents of the Marquis Bonac, the French envoy at Warsaw, met with Rákoczy at Zavadka, near the the Vereczke Pass, and convinced him to stop his retreat towards Galicia and to wait in Hungarian territory for the arrival of Polish troops sent to his support. Meanwhile, French and Polish emissaries tried to gain the Calvinist County of Theiss and the districts of Jazygier and Kumanier to Rákoczy’s cause.

By July, the Austrians had transferred Nehem Infantry, Heister Infantry, Jung-Hannover Cuirassiers and Schlik Dragoons from Transylvania to Hungary where they could now field approx. 4,000 foot and 1,200 horse. After these transfers, their troops in Transylvania still counted 5,446 foot and 2,984 horse.

Rákoczy concentrated the remains of the rebel force near Závadka (in present-day Ukraine) and waited for the reaction of the Hungarian nobility to his proclamation. A few Iazyges and Kumans volunteers soon joined him. A few days later, 400 well equipped hussars arrived at his camp. They were soon followed by Miklós Count Bercsényi with 4 regular Polish infantry rgts and 2 dragoon coys (a total of 800 Wallachians and Poles). Bercsényi had also brought with him the necessary money to pay these troops.

On Sunday 29 July, Ferenc II Rákoczy set off from his camp near Závadka and marched by way of Szolyva (present-day Svalyava/UKR) on difficult mountain paths towards the Theiss River (aka Tisa River) at the head of his little army of 2,800 men. Rákoczy stayed clear from the fortified castles in the Carpathian Mountains and to penetrate into the heart of the Hungarian County of Theiss to foment revolt in the neighbouring Counties of Szatmar, Szabolcs, Bihar and Békés.

By that time, the Austrians had 3 infantry rgts (some 4,000 men) in the region of Kaschau, while a few coys of Heister Infantry occupied Kaschau. Count Stefan Csáky had also assembled the ban (these levies are designated as “Insurrection troops” in the present article) of the County of Bereg and Ugocsa near Tisza-Ujlak (present-day Vylok/UKR). 1 sqn of the Montecuccoli Cuirassiers and 1 coy of Heister Infantry were sent from Kaschau to Bereghszász (present-day Berehove/UKR) to support Csáky’s force.

In the first days of August, the Austrians were then informed that the rebels were advancing towards Tisza-Ujlak to cross the Theiss River. The Austrian detachment posted at Bereghszász remained there while Csáky left Tisza-Ujlak and crossed to Tisza-Beese (probably Tiszabecs/HU), leaving only an outpost at Tisza-Ujlak.

On 4 August

  • Kurucs
    • A few hundreds cavalrymen belonging to Rákoczy’s vanguard advanced from Nagy-Szöllös (present-day Vynohradiv/UKR) towards Tisza-Ujlak where they drove back the small Austrian outpost and captured several boats. A few hours later, Rákoczy and Bercsényi arrived with the rest of the army and encamped east of Vári (present-day Vary/UKR).
  • Austrians
    • Count Csáky intended to oppose any attempt by the rebels to cross the Theiss, or to attack the rear of the rebel army with the Austrian detachment posted at Bereghszász while he would cross the river from Tisza-Beese with the Insurrection troops and attack frontally.

On the night of 4 to 5 August, scouts returned to the camp of the Insurrection troops near Geese and reported that Rákoczy’s Army, counting no less than 40,000 Poles and Swedes, was advancing on Vári. This false information caused quite a stir in the camp.

On 5 August

  • Austrians
    • The Insurrection troops, fearing Rákoczy’s overwhelming forces, dispersed.
    • The Austrian detachment posted at Bereghszász, reconnoitred Rákoczy’s camp and, considering that his force was much larger, retired towards Munkács.

Rákoczy was now free to cross the Theiss River unopposed.

On 9 August, Rákoczy’s small army reached Szélelyhid in the County of Bihar.

On its way, Rákoczy’s little army continued to increase day after day. Soon, it reached 6,000. The Kuman and Iazyges Hajducks too promised to join the Uprising as soon as Nagy-Kalló would be captured.

On 17 August, the garrison of Huszth (present-day Chust/UKR), which had not received any pay since a long time, killed its commander, Captain Baron Eidner, and surrendered to Rákoczy. Huszt being the key to Transylvania, all aristocrats of Marmaros joined Rákoczy's Army.

On 19 August when Rákoczy's army presented itself in front of Nagy-Kalló. It encircled the place and set fire to a house with incendiary arrows. The small garrison (40 German foot) of the town capitulated and joined the rebels who thus obtained their first 4 guns. Rákoczy had now managed to occupy Debreczen, Nagy-Kalló and Ecsed.

After this success, mounted bands from the County of Szabolcs joined Rákoczy's army which soon counted 8,000 men. Other rebel detachments occupied smaller castles.

On 28 August, Rákoczy issued his famous proclamation which declared the rebels and their families free of all duties to the aristocrats while serving in the rebel army.

On 29 August, the Castle of Nagy-Kalló finally capitulated. Part of the garrison joined the rebels while the rest was authorised to march to Szatmar.

At the end of August, Franz Deák joined the rebels, assembled 1,000 cavalrymen and encircled the town of Szolnok. Colonel Kyba tried to relieve the town but was defeated.

By the Autumn, the Counties of Bihar and Marmáros were in the hands of the rebels who occupied Satu Mare, Munkács, Užgorod and Tokaj. This was the real beginning of the so-called Rákóczi Uprising.

However, the Romanians of the County of Bihar and Satzmar, as well as the Serbs along the Ottoman border did not follow the uprising but decided to pacify these rebellions counties, thus adding to the general confusion.

At the beginning of September, one of the most influential Hungarian noble family, the Illosvay, declared for Rákoczy and sent 3,000 cavalrymen under Count Bercsényi from the County of Ugocss to join the rebels. Through their mediation, the Fortress of Huszth opened its gates to the rebels.

At the beginning of September, the Wallachians began to plunder and burn the estates of the nobles.

Andreas Boné had assembled a force of 4,000 cavalrymen and 3,000 foot in the County of Bihar near Bihardiószeg (present-day Diosig/RO) to join Rákoczy.

Soon the Wallachians attacked Boné’s Hungarians between Grosswardein and Debreczin (present-day Debrecen/HU) and defeated them.

During this time, Rákoczy had marched from Nagy-Kalló back to Székelyid (present-day Săcueni/RO), acclaimed by the population on his way. There he learned that several thousands Wallachians had established a fortified camp at Olaszi (unidentified location) near Grosswardein. Despite their defeat, the largest part of Boné’s forces managed to join Rákoczy’s Army.

On September 8, Rákoczy’s Army marched from Székelyid to Bihardiószeg.

On the night of September 8 to 9, Rákoczy detached Count Bercsényi at the head of a strong detachment of 3,000 horse and many foot, the latter being transported aboard wagons voluntarily supplied by inhabitants of Debreczin, towards Olaszi.

On September 9 before daybreak, Bercsényi attacked the Wallachians in their camp at Olaszi, routing them and burning their camp. He took many prisoners, including the Wallachian leader Balthasar Kis.

Rákoczy advanced against the Fortress of Somlό which was defended by a strong garrison under Major-General Glöckelsperg. However, the latter evacuated the fortress without opposing any resistance and retired to the Fortress of Szatmar.

On 19 September, the rebels occupied Schemnitz (present-day Banská Šťiavnica/SK). This compelled the smaller towns in Middle Slovakia to surrender and to open their doors to the rebels.

On 20 September, Rákoczy divided his army (approx. 10,000 men) in two corps. He himself took command of one of these corps and advanced from Somlό towards Szatmar. Meanwhile, Count Bercsényi marched on Tokey (present-day Tokaj/HU) with the other.

Major-General Glöckelsperg was at the head of a force of 1,000 Austrian troops (1 bn of Heister Infantry, 1 coy of Nehem Infantry, 1 sqn of Jung-Hannover Cuirassiers) in Szatmar. Tokey, located at the confluence of the Bodrog and Theiss rivers, was also an important place for the control of the Upper Theiss. It was defended by 2 free coys and by the Montecuccoli Cuirassiers.

When Bercsényi arrived at Tokey, the Montecuccoli Cuirassiers had already been recalled to Kaschau, the capital of Upper Hungary, by FZM Nigrelli.

On 21 September, Deák’s small rebel force stormed Szolnok.

On 23 September, FZM Nigrelli died at Kachau. Major-General Glöckelsperg replaced him at the head of all Austrian troops stationed in Eastern and Northern Hungary.

By 26 September, Rákoczy was master of Nagy-Kalló, Kárόly (unidentified location), Nagy-Bánya, Schomlau (present-day Burg Somló/HU) and Huszth; and had established blockades around Szatmar, Munkács, Ungvar, Tokey and Grosswardein.

In the second half of September, rebels, under the command of Ladislas Ocskay, had marched through by the County of Gemer to Upper Hungary (Slovakia). The garrisons of the smaller castles capitulated without opposing any resistance and the rebels were soon masters of the castles of Oždany, Hajnáčka, Krásná Hôrka, Fiľakovo and of the towns of Lučenec and Rimavská Sobota (all in present-day Slovakia).

On 2 October, Rákoczy marched with 3,000 men from the vicinity of Szatmar to join Count Bercsényi near Tokey, leaving 2,000 men under Baron Senyey to observe the Fortress of Szatmar.

More and more of Hungarian aristocrats joined the rebels, including Sándor Károlyi, the victor of Dolha.

On 9 October

  • Kurucs
    • Rákoczy and Károlyi had their first meeting at Rákoczy’s camp of Tarczal (probably Tarcal/HU) not far from Tokey.
  • Austrians
    • The worsening situation persuaded the authorities in Vienna to support their troops in Hungary and Transylvania. The sqns of Schlik Dragoons and La Tour Cuirassiers still posted in Passau were ordered to march towards Hungary. Vienna also asked the Margrave of Baden, who commanded on the Danube, to spare some troops for Hungary.

Until the arrival of these reinforcements, the Austrians had no choice but to remain on the defensive while calling the Insurrection troops of the loyal Western Hungary counties to arms under Count Simon Forgách and Count Koháry. The Insurrection troops of the seven counties on right bank of the Danube, under Count Koháry were charged to guard the river between Ofen and Pressburg. Other troops, mostly Serbians under Colonel Kyba guarded the region between Ofen and Esseg (present-day Osijek/HR). Count Forgách for his part had to defend the valley of the Waag River (present-day Váh)

Glöckelsperg concentrated his Imperial troops to defend Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK), leaving other towns undefended. The rebels thus easily occupied the Counties of Abov, Sáros, Szepes, Liptau and Trencsén (all in present-day Slovakia).

In mid-October, several Austrian garrisons (Rosenau (present-day Rožňava/SK), Käsmark (present-day Kežmarok/SK), Klein-Szeben (unidentified location)) in Northern Hungary surrendered to Ocskay. Count Michael Csáky was also forced to capitulate in the fortress of Zipser Burg (present-day Spišský hrad/SK). However, the rebels were driven back by the Montecuccoli Cuirassiers at Kaschau and a party of several hundreds rebels under Georg Loby was defeated by the garrison of Eperies (710 men under Colonel Vilson).

Around mid-October, G.d.C. Leopold Count Schlik concentrated 5,200 regulars and around 2,000 Insurrection troops with 12 guns under Simon Count Forgách near Pressburg. His little army consisted of:

By mid-October, a contingent of several thousand Serbians reached Stuhlweissenburg (present-day Székesfehérvár/HU), on its way to join Schlik’s little army. Furthermore, contingents from Styria and Croatia formed a cordon along the Hungarian border.

On 25 October, Schlik marched from Pressburg with his little army.

On 27 October, Schlik’s Army crossed the Waag near Szered (present-day Sereď/SK).

On 28 October, Schlik’s Army sojourned near Szered where it was joined by Insurrection troops under Count Forgách.

On 29 October, Schlik’s Army marched in three columns to Neutra (present-day Nitra/SK) with the Hungarian irregulars forming the vanguard and the flank guard.

On 30 October

  • Austrians
    • Schlik’s Army marched to St. Benedict (unidentified location).
    • Major-General Baron Ritschan arrived from Passau at Pressburg and formed a corps of 2,000 men to come to the support of Schlik’s Army. He planned to reach Lewenz around 8 November.

On 31 October, Schlik’s Army crossed the Gran River and marched towards Lewenz (present-day Levice/SK) where it defeated Ocskay’s Corps in the Combat of Lewenz. Schlik then surrounded the part of the Kuruc forces which had taken refuge in the Castle of Lewenz. When they surrendered, he ordered to execute them.

On 3 November, Schlik’s Army set off from Lewenz and advanced against the town in the neighbouring hills of Middle Slovakia. After a skirmish with Ocskay’s rearguard, Schlik’s troops made themselves masters of the town of Schemnitz where they were welcome by the population.

At Schemnitz, Schlik divided his army in two columns: Major-General Count Forgách marched by way of Altsohl (present-day Zvolen/SK) towards Neusohl (present-day Banská Bystrica/SK), while Schlik occupied Kremnitz (present-day Kremnica/SK).

On 6 November, Bercsényi, who had assumed command of the Kurucs operating in Upper Hungary, and Károlyi left Eger and marched in two columns. Each of these columns was larger than the opposing Imperialist column. One of the rebel column was advancing by way of Rosenau and Breznobánya (present-day Brezno/SK) on Neusohl while the other was marching by way of Rima-Szombat (present-day Rimavská Sobota/SK), Nagydaróc (present-day Velké Dravce/SK), Lizenz (present-day Lučenec/SK), Gyeta (present-day Detva/SK) to Altsohl (present-day Zvolen/SK).

Shortly afterwards, Schlik was informed that the main body of the rebels was approaching in two columns. A third rebel detachment of a few thousand men was also approaching Lewenz. Ritschan’s isolated Imperialist reinforcements was compelled to retire to the Waag Valley.

On 12 November, Bercsényi’s column effected a junction with Károlyi’s at Lizenz. Together, they marched against the towns of Middle Slovakia.

Schlik had marched from Altsohl with 6,000 men to Kremnitz. He had delegated command of the small force left at Altsohl to Simon Forgách, who was assisted by Antal Esterházy and János Bottyán.

On 15 November, Bercsényi at the head of some 17,000 rebels reached Altsohl. There, he was joined by Ocskay’s Corps. The Kuruc forces now numbered some 20,000 men. After initial skirmishes, Bottyán, the 60 years old hero of the Turkish Wars, challenged the 23 years old Ocskay, according to an old tradition, to a duel in front of their troops. Both were wounded during this duel.

In the night of 18 to 19 November, Forgách managed to escape unnoticed from Altsohl with most of his troops. However, he was intercepted in the defile of Osztroluka (present-day Ostrá Lúka/SK) and his troops fled westwards into the neighbouring mountains, pursued by 5,000 hussars belonging to Károlyi’s Corps. These hussars caught up with them once more at the crossroads of the Sankt Benedikt (present-day Hronský Beňadik/SK) cross and scattered their rearguard.

On 23 November, Bercsényi’s Kuruc entered Altsohl and the small Imperial garrison took refuge in the castle. Bercsényi undertook negotiations with János Bottyán, the commander of the castle and concluded a temporary truce.

The remnants of Forgách’s forces finally made a junction with Schlik at Kremnitz. After the junction of the two columns, Schlik retired towards Bajmócska (present-day Bojničky/SK).

During their retreat towards the Neutra Valley (present-day Nitra Valley), the Imperialists were constantly harassed by the rebels and suffered significant casualties and lost part of their baggage.

On 27 November, Bercsényi entrusted the siege of the Castle of Altsohl to the insurgents of the districts of Zólyom and Nógrád under the command of János Radvánszky, Tamás Ebeczky, Gábor Bezegh and Ferenc Tolvay. With the rest of his troops, Bercsényi marched to Weinitz (present-day Bojnice/SK). The siege of the place was entrusted to Colonel Orbán Czelder with his 1,600 soldiers and some insurgents under the command of Count Kristóf Okolicsányi.

On 28 November, Lewenz surrendered to Ocskay. Leutschau surrendered at about the same time.

Bercsényi then continued his march by way of Oszlány (present-day Oslany/SK) and Topoltschan (present-day Topoľčany/SK).

At the end of November, Schlik reached the Waag Valley with the remnants of his army (some 3,000 men). At Leopoldstadt, he gave a few days of rest to his exhausted troops. He then marched by way of Tyrnau (present-day Trnava/SK) to Pressburg where 1 bn of Virmond Infantry and recruits joined his depleted forces. With Ritschan’s detachment, Schlik considered that he was now able to stop the advance of the rebels.

In Pressburg, the inhabitants feared that Schlik would evacuate the city and withdraw to Vienna, which had been stripped of all troops.

By December, the rebels had reoccupied the towns of Middle Slovakia and were also masters of the whole Western Slovakia. Eperies, Erlau (probably Eger/HU) and Szendrő were also surrounded by rebel troops. Schlik retired to Pressburg.

At the beginning of December, FML Count Johann Pálffy, who had just been appointed “Banus of Croatia,” arrived at Agram (present-day Zagreb/HR) and immediately began to assemble Croatian troops near Csakathurn (present-day Čakovec/HR) near the border between Croatia and Hungary.

On 1 December, Count Károlyi set out of Topoltschan with the second column (2,000 Kumans and Iazyges) and advanced towards the Castle of Freistadt an der Waag (present-day Hlohovec/SK). The place surrendered after a brief resistance and Károlyi continued his march towards Schintau (present-day Šintava/SK). As Károlyi approached, Antal Esterházy evacuated the place with his troops, but more than 500 of them were captured.

Bercsényi occupied Tyrnau and sent detachments towards Lanschütz (present-day Bernolákovo/SK) and St. Georgen (present-day Svätý Jur/SK).

On 3 December, Károlyi marched from Schintau to a camp at Dudwaag (present-day Dudváh/SK) near Diosek (present-day Sládkovičovo/SK).

On 4 December, Bercsényi reached Pusztakürt (present-day Pusté Sady/SK) with the rest of his army (now approx. 13,000 men). There he waited for four days.

On 5 December, the Castle of Arwa (present-day Orava/SK) surrendered to the Kurucs.

On 7 December, the Castle of Altsohl surrendered to the Kurucs. In addition to the cannon of the castle, many tents and ammunition fell into the hands of the rebels. Radvánszky granted free withdrawal to the garrison but only 250 men took advantage of this offer, including Bottyán, Guethem and 30 soldiers, while the rest of them went over to the Kurucs. However, Bottyán was suspected to have sympathies with the rebels and, fearing to be prosecuted, secretly joined them (his allegiance would only be known in October 1704). To heal his wound, Bottyán wanted to return to Esztergom and take advantage of his stay there to bring the area around the city under Rákóczi's banner.

On 8 December, Bercsényi advanced from Pusztakürt to Schintau, where he learned of the capture of the castles of Arwa and Altsohl.

On 10 December, Bercsényi moved his camp to the right bank of the Waag River. Károlyi marched with his army to Waagkönigsdorf (present-day Králová nad Váhom/SK) southeast of Wartberg (present-day Senec), while his lieutenants László Ocskay and Pál Bokros, crossed the White Carpathians to spread devastation in the villages on the Moravian border.

Károlyi then sent Gáspar Pongrácz with 5,000 insurgents against Pressburg, but these inexperienced fighters were defeated by General Viard's 1,200 horse, in the “Henkerfeld” near Pressburg, 300 of them were killed and 50 captured. Meanwhile, Bercsényi remained idle near Schintau and Sereth (present-day Seredˇ/SK) with the largest part of his army.

The Kurucs were in a very favourable military situation. Furthermore, a growing number of nobles and serfs joined them as they advanced. Bercsényi was now at the head of 20 to 25,000 men in the small area between Pressburg, Tyrnau and the White Carpathians. Nevertheless, he did not concentrate these troops for an attack on Pressburg or an invasion of Austria. He considered that his army was not experienced and disciplined enough to take the initiative against the Imperialists and he let the opportunity pass.

On 13 December, Vienna, fearing that the rebels would besiege Pressburg, sent Prince Eugène de Savoie to the city where he replaced Schlik by the newly promoted Field Marshal Siegbert Count Heister.

Around mid-December, 2,000 Serbian light troops arrived at Kittsee on the Danube, in front of Pressburg to support the Austrians.

On 17 December, Bercsényi detached Baron György Andrássy to the Moravian border. However, the rebels did not cross the March River (present-day Morava River) because the local militias had erected entrenchments at each crossing place. Andrássy returned without having achieved anything.

On 20 December, Count Sándor Károlyi proposed Bercsényi to make a new expedition on the Moravian border.

On 22 December at noon, Count Sándor Károlyi set off from Schintau with 3,000 horse for his expedition on the Moravian border, marching by way of Bösing (present-day Pezinok/SK) and Limbach, and then across the steep slopes of the Little Carpathians. The same day, Rákoczy, who had just joined the detachment blockading Tokey with reinforcements, issued a proclamation to the estates and inhabitants of Moravia and Silesia, in which he asked them to revolt to regain their religious and political freedoms and invited them, to join his army; those opposed to the latter were threatened with fire and sword.

On the night of 22 to 23 December, Károlyi’s Corps passed under the walls of the Castle of Bibersburg (present-day Červený Kameň Castle/SK).

On 23 December in the evening, Károlyi’s Corps reached the village of Stampfen (present-day Stupava/SK), near the Moravian border.

On 24 December at 2:00 a.m., Károlyi set off from Stampfen. His infantry used the horses and wagons requisitioned in the village. His corps crossed the frozen March River near Theben-Neudorf (present-day Devínská Nová Ves/SK). At 7:00 a.m. it attacked the Moravian militias guarding the opposite bank and the 2 Imperial bns, which had been sent from Schloßhof to their support. In this affair, the Imperialists lost 70 men and the Kurucs tore down four of the newly erected entrenchments. Károlyi’s troops surrounded the troops who had made a sortie out of Schloßhof, under the command of Captain Count Oppersdorf. The rebels took 40 soldiers including Captain Oppersdorf, Baron Furtenbach and Captain Pösinger. However, Károlyi did not exploit his victory. He pursued the Imperialists only a few kilometers as they retired towards Vienna and then turned back. He disarmed the Moravian militia and sent them home. Afterwards, Károlyi retired from Schloßhof and Stampfen and went to Mariatal (present-day Marianka/SK), southeast of Stampfen. He briefly rested in the Pálos Monastery (unidentified location).

On the night of 24 to 25 December, Károlyi’s Corps the Little Carpathians.

On 25 December, Károlyi’s Corps reached Ratzersdorf (present-day Rača/SK). In the morning, it marched to Wartberg, where Károlyi was greeted by Bercsényi. The same day, a Kuruc party under János Sréter surrounded the town of Trentschin, which was defended by only 20 regulars and 80 men of a free company under György Ottlik. The garrison, the local nobility and the commander of the place, Count Miklós Illesházy, all took refuge in the castle. Colonel Vilmós Winkler was left in Trentschin with a small Kuruc garrison.

On 26 December, Ottlik opened a gate to the rebels and Sréter’s troops occupied the town of Trentschin.

At the end of December, Count Károlyi retired with 5,000 men from the plains of the March to the Carpathian Mountains. He then marched to the Schütt Island (present-day Žitný ostrov/SK).

On 31 December, Károlyi encamped at Sommerein (Šamorín/SK).

Shortly after wards, Károlyi crossed the frozen Danube. His forces took their winter-quarters around Lake Neusiedl. Károlyi established his headquarters at Eisenstadt, 52 km south of Vienna…

Ferenc II Rákoczy established his headquarters at Miskolez (maybe Miskolc/HU). The Kuruc army took up its winter-quarters between the Theiss River, the Mátra Mountains and the Danube.

On 1 January 1704, the city of Tokey capitulated to the rebels. The garrison was allowed free withdrawal to Pest.

By the end of 1703, Imperial troops were still in control of the following places in Upper Hungary (Slovakia): Pressburg, Trentschin (only the castle), Neutra, Eperies and Kaschau and a few castles.


Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 5, Vienna 1878, pp. 23, 88-89, 110-111, 598-621

Bánlaky József: A Magyar Nemzet Hadtörténelme

Fessler, Dr. I. A.: Die Geschichte der Ungern, part IX. File 19. Leipzig 1825

Pizzighelli, C.: Geschichte des k. u. k. Ulanen-Regiments Kaiser Joseph II. No. 6, Vienna 1908

Rabenhorst: Geschichte des K.u.K Infanterie-Regiments Prinz Friedrich August Herzog zu Sachsen Nr. 45, p. 41, Brünn 1897

Vojenské dejiny Slovenska, file II, Bratislava 1995


Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht, file I. and II, Vienna 1898


Harald Skala for the initial version of this article