1704-04-08 – Combat of Stuhlweissenburg

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Battles and Encounters >> 1704-04-08 – Combat of Stuhlweissenburg

Imperialist victory

Introduction

At the beginning of 1704, Northern and Eastern Hungary as well as part of Southwestern Hungary were in the hands of Rákóczi’s Kurucs (Hungarian insurgents). Rákóczi was less popular in several cities, where the burghers feared their compatriots more than the Imperialist soldiers. To the exception of the fortified places of Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK), Sathmar (present-day Satu Mare/RO), Eperies (present-day Prešov/SK), Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK), Pressburg (present-day Bratislava/SK), Skalitz (present-day Skalica/SK), Grosswardein (present-day Oradea/RO), Arad, Szegedin (present-day Szeged/HU), Peterwardein (present-day Novi Sad/RS), Komorn (present-day Komárom/HU, Trentschin (present-day Trenčín/SK), Neutra (present-day Nitra/SK) and Leopoldstadt (present-day Leopoldov/SK), and several small castles, which were occupied by small detachments, the Rebels controlled the left bank of the Danube.

At the end of February, a Kuruc party crossed the Danube and marched on Hainburg, burning down Schwechat.

On 18 March, FM Heister submitted his plan of operation to the president of the Hofkriegsrath (War Council). He intended to attack and pursue Károlyi’s and clear the right bank of the Danube from Kuruc forces. Then to keep these counties under imperial rule, he asked for armed ships to control the Danube on its entire course. The Hofkriegsrath gave instructions to prepare 40 to 50 “Tschaiken” (typical boats of the Danube) in Gmunden. It also instructed FML Pálffy to cross the Mur River (aka Mura River) and to cooperate with Heister.

On 20 March, FM Heister set off from Ebenfurth where he had assembled the Imperialist troops stationed on the Letha and in Lower Austria. He had also been joined by Bagni Infantry and the Danish Endens Infantry and was now at the head of 1,950 foot, 2,355 horse and 17 field artillery pieces. His small corps advanced on Eisenstadt (aka Kis-Márton). Meanwhile, Károlyi with approx. 10,000 Kurucs stood carefree in his camp at St. Niclas near Eisenstadt, while he was conducting negotiations with Count Nádasdy.

On 22 March, FM Heister, attacked Károlyi’s camp near Eisenstadt and dispersed the Rebel army. Heister then submitted the country on his side of the Raab without meeting serious resistance from the population.

On 3 April, Heister went to Raab and sent a detachment to Pápa to submit the vicinity. A garrison occupied Güns (present-day Kőszeg/HU).

On 5 April, Heister concentrated his forces south of Raab, planning to follow Károlyi, who was retiring towards Stuhlweissenburg (present-day Székesfehérvár/HU).

On 6 April, Heister set off towards Kisbér, his infantry being transported in wagons. As his army approached the vicinity of Szt. Márton (St. Martin), it found the north slope of the Martinsberg occupied by Kurucs and put them to flight.

On 7 April at 4:00 p.m., Heister’s Corps set off from Kisbér and reached Moor (present-day Mór/HU) around midnight. Heister learned that the Rebels were assembled near Stuhlweissenburg. After a brief rest, Heister resumed his advance.

Map

Map of the town of Stuhlweissenburg circa 1690 (with the hypothetical location of the combat of 1704) – Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis
 
Key to Map
 
1 Cathedral
2 Retzenstadt or Exterior District
3 City of the Island
4 Gomesstadt or Exterior District
5 Royal Palace
6 Interior Districts
7 River Sarwitz
8 Morass
9 Palote Gate
10 Ofner Gate
11 Sepulchres of the Turks
a...a Hypothetical location of the initial Kuruc defensive line, between a small hill and the river
b Attack of the Imperial forces
c Retreat of the Kurucs

Description of Events

On 8 April 1704 in the morning, FM Heister surprised the vanguard of the Kurucs (approx. 700 men) near Kedresztes. As his cavalry advanced to combat, the Kurucs sent an envoy to negotiate their surrender. Heister received them to allow his infantry, which was still lagging behind, to catch up with his cavalry. However, the Kurucs took advantage of the negotiations to retire to Stuhlweissenburg. With his troops exhausted by the night march, Heister decided to encamp and forage.

During this time, some 5,000 Kurucs assembled at Stuhlweissenburg and deployed in order of battle with their right wing on the height and their left wing resting on the Csurgό River.

Around noon, informed of the dispositions of the Rebels, Heister deployed his troops in order of battle and marched by his left to turn the right flank of the Rebels.

After firing a few cannon shots, the Kurucs retired from the height towards Stuhlweissenburg, taking new positions in front of the town while reinforcements arrived from all sides.

Heister’s little army took position on the height. From this height, the Imperialists were threatening the Kuruc right wing. After deploying their artillery, they opened on the Kurucs.

FM Heister commanded the left wing while Major-General Kratz was on the right wing, which consisted of infantry.

Heister ordered Colonel Viard to attack the Rebel right wing with the Schlick Dragoons and the Bayreuth Dragoons. Major de La Vigne led the first line (300 horse) and Colonel Viard, the second (400 horse). They were followed by the hussars. Simultaneously, Heister ordered the infantry to advance.

The Kurucs did not wait for the shock but rather retired towards the gates of Stuhlweissenburg. Count Daniel Esterházy, who commanded the rebels, feared that the Imperialists would be able to enter into the town at the same time as the stragglers and he ordered to raise the drawbridges. Part of the stragglers, who were blocked outside, tried to escape by moving around the town, but many deposited arms and surrendered to the Imperialists.

The Imperialists then encircled the town, cutting the line of retreat of the Kurucs southward. The latter now had only one option to escape: the bridge across the river, east of Stuhlweissenburg.

A German farmer, who had defected to the Imperialists, informed Major-General Kratz that, if that bridge was blocked, the Kurucs would be caught in Stuhlweissenburg. Kratz immediately transmitted this information to FM Heister who ordered Kratz and the Schlick Dragoons to make themselves master of this bridge. Meanwhile, the Imperialist infantry and artillery moved closer to the town.

When the Rebels realized that the Imperialists were trying to deprive them from their last line of retreat, they tried to cross the bridge when it was still time. Kratz let part of his dragoons dismount and open fire on the Kurucs who continued to advance towards the bridge.

Since the whole mass of the Kurucs was rushing towards the bridge, Heister feared that they would overpower the Schlick Dragoons. He sent Colonel Viard with the 6 sqns of the Bayreuth Dragoons to reinforce them. Major-General Kratz supported them with 2 artillery pieces.

The Kurucs opened fire on the Schlick Dragoons who held their ground until the reinforcements could reach them.

During this time, FM Heister ordered his artillery pieces, which were established in the garden in front of Stuhlweissenburg, to open on the Ofner Gate. Soon afterwards, Colonel Virmond with 2 bns of the Virmond Infantry and 1 Danish bn launched an attack against this gate. The Kurucs replied with a weak musket and artillery fire but soon hoisted the white flag. They then sent an emissary to offer to capitulate.

The capitulation was soon concluded under the conditions that the gates would be open, and the rebels would deposit arms and recognize the suzerainty of the emperor. In the meantime dusk had fallen and the town could no longer be taken over on that day. Major-General Kratz guarded the bridge to prevent the Kurucs from escaping while the rest of the small army surrounded Stuhlweissenburg.

Outcome

In this action, the Rebels had lost more than 300 men killed or wounded, while the losses of the Imperialists were very light.

Part of the Rebels, including Count Daniel Esterházy, had managed to escape and to reach Dunaföldvár. Throughout the insurrection, the Kurucs had a marked advantage in guerilla warfare. Defeats at the hands of the Imperialists did not change the situation of the Rebels much. They simply gathered again elsewhere.

On 9 April in the morning, Imperialist troops entered into Stuhlweissenburg where 1,200 Rebels, several peasants and the burghers deposited arms and swore allegiance to the emperor. Most of the prisoners were sent back home and a few joined the Imperialist troops. The Imperialists captured several colours, 3 pairs of kettle-drums, a few artillery pieces and a large number of horses and weapons.

Order of Battle

Imperialist Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: FM Sigbert Heister

Summary: probably some 2,000 foot, 2,500 horse and 17 field artillery pieces, including:

Kuruc Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: General Sándor Károlyi

Summary: approx. 5,000 men

References

Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 6, Vienna 1879, pp. 143-145

Aussführliche Relation deß unter Heister bei Stuhlweißenburg vorbei gegangenen Treffens und darauff eroberten Stadt Stuhlweißenburg, samt angehängten Schreiben von Regenspurg, die bayr. kriegsrüstung ... betreffend. Den 16. April 1704, 1704, Austrian National Library

Vaupell, Otto: Den danske haers historie til nutiden og den norske haers historie indtil 1814. 2