1709-08-04 – Combat of Vavrisó

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Battles and Encounters >> 1709-08-04 – Combat of Vavrisó

Draw

Prelude to the Combat

Rákóczi’s troops were occupying the region of Liptov since October 1703, Luby György occupied the Castle of Likava; and Pottornay Ferenz occupied Liptó-Újvár (present-day Liptovský Hrádok/SK). After the defeat of Trentschin in August 1708, Rákóczi’s troops withdrew to the regions of Liptov and Orava. In January 1709, Imperial troops led by Field-Marshal Johann Pálffy and Major-General Johann Franz Anton Graf Jörger, Baron Tollet expelled the Kurucs from the area and occupied Rosenberg (present-day Ružomberok/SK) on 7 January. The Kurucs retreated to the region of Zips (present-day Spiš/SK). Major-General Pierre-Joseph de Viard, Baron de Coussances, was entrusted with the defence of the region of Liptov.

In May 1709, Major-General Baron Tollet had already ordered the construction of earthworks against a possible attack by Rákóczi's troops advancing from the region of Zips. They consisted of two parallel lines of defence. The first began at Liptovská Porúbka, proceeded through the Castle of Hrádek and west of Dovalov up to Liptovská Kokava. Five redoubts had been erected on this first line. Behind it, a second line ran from Liptovský Peter up to the west of Pribylina. This line was interrupted by several creeks, which flowed into the Belá River. Four redoubts had been erected on this second line, the villages Vavrišovo and Pribylina were fortified by palisades, and a Sternschanze (star-redoubt) had been built at the western end of Vavrišovo. Artillery was posted in Liptovský Peter and Nový Hrad.

The administration of the Komitat was loyal to the Emperor and financed the provisions necessary for the Imperial troops and provided the workers needed for the construction of the entrenchments.

At the beginning of May, Major-General Jörger von Tollet was at the head of 1 bn of recruits of the Thürheim Infantry, 2 detachments led by Colonel d ́Arnant and Nehem, the Würzburger Wolfskehl Dragoons, the Freihusaren of Baron Pongrác András and Dudás Gáspar as well as a unit of regimental artillery.

In June, Duke Rákóczi decided to reconquer the lost regions of Liptov and Orava. His scouts kept him well informed about the situation of the Imperial forces, most of his generals came from this area. Count Miklós Bercsényi tried a diversion, sending Brigadier Johann Csajághy with 1,200 Kurucs to Neusohl (present-day Zvolen/SK) to weaken the Imperial troops in the Liptov region. The ruse was successful, Major-General Jörger von Tollet sent part of his troops to Neusohl. He now had only some 450 men of the Wolfskehl Dragoons and 900 foot to defend the region of Liptov. From his 900 foot, 400 were posted at Pribylina, 300 in Liptovský Hrádok, and the rest in the camp near Vavrišovo.

The Kuruc had made good preparations for the attack on Liptov. Their total strength was 6,500-7,000 men, two thirds infantry, one third cavalry. They also had 3 cannon and 2 mortars at their disposal.

On 2 August, the main body of the Kurucs reached the Hybe Forest, where it remained undiscovered by Tollet’s troops. The French Colonel Jean de la Riviére marched with 200 horse and 60 volunteers to Dovalov to reconnoitre the Imperial positions. After his units were fired upon by the Imperial troops, he returned to the camp at Hybe.

Map

Combat of Vavrisó
 
Courtesy: Dinos Antoniadis

Description of Events

In the early morning of 3 August, the Kuruc General Michael Count Csáky led his troops against the redoubts of Dovalov. The vanguard of 300 horse was led by Brigadier Franz Pauer. It was followed by the Hayducks, the guns, the hussars of Brigadier Babocsay. And 7,000 foot under General Paul Count Andrássy and Michael Count Csáky.

On 4 August, the Kuruc troops were deployed in a line of battle. Brigadier Johann Csajághy, returning from Neusohl, took positions on the left bank of the Váh River near Liptovská Porúbka.

Eve though Bercsényi had given the express order to start the attack before sunrise, Csáky did not launch his attack against the redoubts of Dovalov before 7:00 a.m.

Major-General Jörger von Tollet led his cavalry in a counter-attack and drove back the Kuruc cavalry near Vavrišovo. However, detachments under Urban Czelder and Ladislaus Nyáryi broke through the weak defence of the redoubts near Dovalov. Surprisingly, Count Csáky did not take advantage of this situation and waited for the troops of Johann Csajághy, who had not been not informed of the situation around Dovalov.

Meanwhile, Csajághy had overcome the defensive lines at Hrádok almost without resistance. His troops now stood in front of Vavrišovo. Czelder and Nyáryi attacked on the left. Major-General Jörger von Tollet concentrated his remaining troops in Vavrišovo.

Around noon, Jörger von Tollet was completely encircled with about 450 dragoons in Vavrišovo. He himself was wounded by two musket shots on the lower jaw, and Captain Friedrich Böckel of the dragoons was killed. Inexplicably, Jörger von Tollet did not get any support from the infantry posted in Pribylina.

Around 3:00 p.m., Major-General Jörger von Tollet ordered to set fire to the village of Vavrišovo and then retreated under cover of smoke to the Sternschanze above the village. Unsettled by these movements, Count Csáky, who also been informed of the advanced of Major-General Viard’s troops, ordered to stop further attacks in spite of the recommendation of Colonel de la Riviére and Johann Csajághy. The unit of Urban Czelder was sent towards Rosenberg to observe Viard’s movements.

At the same time, Ladislaus Szemere with his cavalry and Colonel de la Riviére with his artillery occupied the heights overlooking Vavrišovo and began shelling Jörger von Tollet's troops, who had taken refuge in the Sternschanze.

Csajághi, who feared a breakthrough of the encircled Major-General Jörger von Tollet, sent 300 men led by Captain Johann Pongráz to the road north of Vavrišovo, the regiment of Franz Pauer was to block the way to Liptovský Peter, and Babocsay with 2 rgts, the way to Pribylina.

In the meantime, the Kuruc had occupied Nový Hrad and part of the redoubts, as well as the villages of Liptovská Kokava, Hybe, Východná, Važec and Štrba. During the fighting Pribylina was set on fire.

Outcome

The losses of Jörger von Tollet’s troops are known: the Wolfskehl Dragoons lost 1 captain (Friedrich Böckel) and 8 men killed; and 1 captain and 9 men wounded; and 1 lieutenant, 2 corporals and 30 men taken prisoner. The losses of Csáky’s troops were estimated to a total of about 400 men.

The combat of Vavrišovo is a good example of how even small units of well-trained Imperial forces could fend off a tenfold number of Rákóczi’s insurgents.

From 5 to 9 August, the artillery of Colonel de la Riviére bombarded the positions of the Imperialists, and Jörger von Tollet's troops suffered heavy losses, but did not capitulate.

The Imperialists sent a detachment under Viard to relieve Jörger von Tollet.

On 9 August, General Michael Csáky, expecting a relief attempt by Viard’s troops, held a council of war, where it was decided, despite the protests of some of his generals, to withdraw.

On 10 August, Csáky’s troops concentrated in Hybe and marched back towards the region of Zips, encamping Vikartovce.

Immediately after the departure of the Kurucs, Major-General Jörger von Tollet and his units came out of the Sternschanze of Vavrišovo. He gave orders to repair the entrenchments at Liptovský Peter and to fortify its church. He then marched to Liptovský Mikuláš with his units. Field-Marshal Sigbert Heister then put small garrisons to Liptovský Peter, Nový Hrad, Liptovský Mikuláš and Rosenberg.

On 12 August, Urban Czelder retreated to Polomka.

Order of Battle

Imperialist Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Major-General Franz Anton Graf Jörger Baron Tollet

Summary: approx. 450 horse and 900 foot

Cavalry

  • Würzburger Wolfskehl Dragoons
  • Hungarian Freihussars András Baron Pongrác
  • Hungarian Freihussars Dudás Gáspar

Infantry

Artillery (regimental guns)

Kuruc Order of Battle

Summary: 2,550 horse and 5,800 foot

Commander-in-Chief: Michael Count Csáky, seconded by Paul Count Anrássy

Cavalry (2,550 men)

  • Franz Babocsay Hussars (450 men)
  • Paul Gyurky Hussars (450 men)
  • Ladislaus Szemere Militia Hussars (500 men)
  • Franz Pauer Hussars (400 men)
  • György Réthy Militia Hussars (250 men)
  • Ladislaus Bessenyey Militia Hussars (500 men)

Infantry

  • Johann Csajághy Hayduck (800 men)
  • Urban Czelder Hayduck (700 men)
  • unidentified unit (700 men) led by Paul Andrássy
  • Bercsényi Hayduck (400 men)
  • Lóczy Hayduck (800 men)
  • Nikolaus Perényi Hayduck (800 men) Lučenec Militia
  • Baron Imrich Révay Hayduck (300 men) Sklabina Militia
  • Paul Andrássy Hayduck (1,000 men)
  • Ladislaus Nyáryi Hayduck (300 men)

Artillery: approx. 300 men under Brigadier Jean de la Riviére

References

Bánlaky, József: A Magyar Nemzet Hadtörténelme

Bojiská na Slovensku – Vavrišovo

Vítek, Peter: Bitka při Vavrišove – Švihrovská bitka, in “Historia Mea Vita”, Vojenský historický ústav Bratislava, 2002

Acknowledgements

Harald Skala and Dinos Antoniadis for the initial version of this article