1704 – Rákóczi Uprising in Transylvania
The campaign lasted from March to December 1704
At the beginning of 1704, G.d.C. Rabutin, military governor of Transylvania was in a very critical situation. His few, ill paid forces had to withstand not only to the rebels commanded by Paul Orosz operating in the north of Transylvania but also the threat from the Turks goaded by Imre Thököly. The inhabitants of Transylvania, to the exception of the Saxon colonists, had not remained loyal to the Empire.
In the Spring, Rabutin planned to assemble the country militia and to place them under the command of Count Lorenz Pekry and Michael Mikes. However, both joined the Rebels. Rabutin's forces (5,570 foot and 1,500 horse with only 1,100 horses) consisted of:
- Neipperg Infantry (2,050 men)
- Nicolaus Pálffy Infantry (2,020 men)
- Thürheim Infantry (500 men)
- Deutschmeister Infantry (approx. 333 men)
- Heister Infantry (approx. 333 men)
- Nehem Infantry (approx. 333 men)
- Uhlefeld Cuirassiers (500 men)
- Steinville Cuirassiers (500 men)
- Rabutin-Bussy Dragoons (500 men)
Castles were mainly garrisoned by Wallachian militia. Finally, a force of 2,500 Wallachian foot and 2,500 horse had been deployed around Hermannstadt (present-day Sibiu/RO).
In the Summer, Bistritz (present-day Bistrița/RO) and the Castle of Hunyad surrendered to the rebels. At Kövár, the garrison killed its commander and joined the rebels.
On 6 July at Karlsburg (present-day Alba Julia/RO), under the vehement protest of the Saxon colonists, the State Parliament elected Rákoczy as sovereign of free Transylvania and dethroned Leopold I. Rákoczy appointed Simon Forgách as his deputy in Transylvania.
By the middle of the year, Rabutin still controlled only the small region around Hermannstadt.
At the beginning of September, Pekri and Thoroczkay appeared with rebel troops near Hermannstadt. Some 500 rebels stole cattle from the suburbs and Rabutin made a sortie with his 3 cavalry regiments. In this action, 800 rebels were killed, 56 taken prisoners and 20 flags and 4 kettle-drums were captured.
In the following days, Rabutin relieved Déva Castle. Michael Teleki, Stephan Toroczkay and some other rebel captains concentrated their troops and laid siege to Klausenburg (present-day Cluj/RO) which contained large magazines. The garrison counted 700 men.
On 4 October, Rabutin took the risk to extend his line of communication and marched with 700 foot, 1,800 horse and 8 guns to the relief of Klausenburg.
To stop Rabutin's advance, the rebels (approx. 14,000 men with 12 guns) took position in a narrow defile at Páta
On 8 October, Rabutin engaged the rebels who initially gained some advantages. However, the attack of Lieutenant-Colonel Tige's cavalry broke the lines of the rebel infantry who fled after a brief resistance. Only the battalion of deserters from Thürheim Infantry fought till the end, most of them being killed. In this action, Rabutin lost 3 officers and 86 men; the rebels some 4,000 men, 4 guns, 40 flags, 2 pairs kettle-drums and 400 horses. Later on, rebel prisoners were beheaded at Hermannstadt.
On 9 October, Rabutin resumed his march towards Klausenburg. With the city walls in poor condition, Rabutin decided to abandon the place, destroying part of the surrounding walls and bringing back the garrison to Hermannstadt.
By the end of the year, Rabutin was only master of Hermannstadt, Déva, Mediasch (present-day Mediaș/RO), Kronstadt (present-day Brașov/RO) and Neuschloss (present-day Gherla/RO).
Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 6, Vienna 1879
Fessler, Dr. I. A.: Die Geschichte der Ungern, part IX. File 19. Leipzig 1825
Vojenské dejiny Slovenska, file II, Bratislava 1995
Harald Skala for the initial version of this article