1705-08-11 – Battle of Budmeritz
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Prelude to the Battle
The Engagement of Smolenitz, fought on 27 and 28 May 1704, was the greatest victory of the Kurucs (rebels) since the beginning of the insurrection. However, the tide turned after Christmas 1704 when FML Heister defeated the main Kuruc army led by Rákóczi and Bercsényi at Tyrnau (present-day Trnava/SK) on 26 December and relieved Leopoldstadt (present-day Leopoldov/SK). Despite these defeats, the population of Upper Hungary (present-day Slovakia) still supported the Kurucs.
After the death of Emperor Leopold I, on 5 May 1705, his successor, Emperor Joseph I tried to conclude an armistice with Franz II Rákóczi but without success. In July 1705, the Kurucs blockaded Leopoldstadt once again. At the beginning of August, a huge column of Imperial troops led by General Louis Bannerot Comte d’Herbéviller escorted a convoy with provisions and ammunition from Komárom to Leopoldstadt. Herbéviller planned to return by the same way along the Waag River (present-day Váh/SK). But in the meantime, Rákóczi concentrated his troops around Sered to cut Herbéviller’s line of retreat. The latter turned towards Freistad (present-day Hlohovec/SK) and blew up the castle of Count Forgách, one of Rákóczi’s generals. Herbéviller’s Corps then marched to Tyrnau and, on August 10, camped under the walls of the city.
In the morning of 11 August, Herbéviller’s corps marched to Cífer, intending to proceed to Pressburg (present-day Bratislava/SK). However, Cífer was already occupied by the Kurucs. Herbéviller wanted to avoid a battle in the plains, where the Kuruc cavalry could freely manoeuvre. Therefore, he turned towards Budmeritz (present-day Budmerice/SK). Rákóczi was informed of this change of direction and marched by way of Halmos (present-day Jablonec) to Budmeritz. He placed his troops on a range of hills southwest of Budmeritz, with his left wing under Anton Esterházy, and his right under Nikolaus Bercsényi. Rákóczi’s headquarters were in the centre.
Herbéviller was well informed about Rákóczi’s positions and turned towards Istvánfalva (present-day Štefanová/SK). His troops marched through a defile, unseen by the Kurucs,
Around noon, Herbéviller’s Corps encamped between Istvánfalva and Cseszte (present-day Častá/SK). FML Johann Count Pálffy, who was born at the nearby Bibersburg Castle (present-day Červený Kameň/SK), was very familiar with the terrain around Budmeritz. He recommended Herbéviller to attack the Kurucs immediately. The garrison of the Castle of Bibersburg sent its guns to support the attack and the population from the surrounding villages (which were part of Pálffy’s estates) supported the Imperial troops, too.
Description of Events
Rákóczi had around 40.000 men, most untrained. They were under the command of Rákóczi’s best generals: Nikolaus Bercsényi, Anton Esterházy, Michael Csáky, Juraj Otlik, Lázsló Ocskay and Stephan Ebecký. The artillery (probably 30 guns) was served by French artillerymen and the engineers were under the command of the French Colonel La Motte.
Herbéviller had only 12,000 men (including some Danish battalions) and 30 guns.
In the morning of 11 August, Rákóczi intended to adopt a defensive stance, but Ocskay proposed him to attack Herbéviller’s troops immediately. Rákóczi did not like this proposal, but his other generals (Anton Esterházy, Michael Csáky and Ebeczky) persuaded him to follow Ocskay’s suggestion. The Kurucs marched from their camp towards Budmeritz.
The day was very hot, the Kurucs deployed in a line of battle between the pond near Budmeritz and the road to Báhon. Colonel La Motte placed his guns on a hill near the manor, which was defended by some infantry. Herbéviller had his positions on the opposite side of Budmeritz. The terrain was not suitable for cavalry and the rebels did not properly reconnoitre the Imperial positions.
The Kurucs paused around noon to rest, nobody thought that the battle would soon begin.
Around 6:00 p.m., Rákóczi expected the enemy to advance from north but Herbéviller came from another direction. Pálffy with some squadrons attacked the Kuruc left wing. Rákóczi had not enough time to rearrange his lines The attack caused chaos among the Kurucs. Herbéviller seized the opportunity to cross the Gidra Creek with his infantry and established his guns on a range of hills overlooking Budmeritz. The well aimed fire of his 30 guns increased disorder among the Kurucs and drove back Rákóczi's cavalry, which took flight..
Rákóczi ordered Stephan Csáky’s and Anton Esterházy’s brigades to capture the guns, but Herbéviller reinforced the troops guarding his artillery. Meanwhile, Imperial infantry was fighting the Kuruc infantry led by Georg Andrássy, which was defending Budmeritz. The Kuruc cavalry, which wanted to reinforce its infantry, was stopped by the muddy terrain around the village. There was no coordination between Rákóczi's commanders, and his troops soon began to retire, but there was no chance to organise a well ordered retreat, most of the Kurucs threw away their muskets and fled in panic.
Herbéviller did not pursue the Kurucs who rallied near Sempte (present-day Šintava/SK).
The most important factors in this battle were Pálffy’s successful attack and the well aimed fire of Herbéviller’s artillery.
The Kurucs lost around 400 men (other sources mention 1,000), 30 guns, 4 mortars, 40 colours, lots of weapons, baggage and wagons with gun-powder and ammunition. One of the white silk colours was hidden in the Castle of Bibersburg for long time. The silver kettle-drums (aprons and drums) of Rákóczi’s Life Guard were also captured. In addition, the entire chancellery of Rákóczi with all his important documents was captured.
During the battle, the villages of Vištuk, Blatná, Báhoň (present-day names) and some others in the Pressburg region were burned down. After this battle, there were no more skirmishes between the Kurucs and Imperial troops in the region of Budmeritz, even after the successful siege of Neuhäusel (Nové Zámky/SK) in 1709. The war itself still lasted two years in this country until the signature of the Treaty of Szatmár in April 1711.
Order of Battle
Imperial Order of Battle
Commander-in-Chief: General Louis Bannerot Comte d’Herbéviller
Summary: approx. 12,000 men with 30 artillery pieces
no detailed information found yet
Kuruc Order of Battle
Commanders-in-chief: Ferenc II Rákóczi
Summary: 40,000 men with 30 guns and 4 mortars
no detailed information found yet
Mrva, Ph. Dr. I.: Budmerická bitka
Fessler, Dr. I. A.: Die Geschichte der Ungern, part IX. File 19. Leipzig 1825
Dangl/Kopčan, Vojenské dejiny Slovenska, file II, Bratislava 1995
Harald Skala and Dinos Antoniadis for an initial version of this article and the accompanying map