1709 – Rákóczi Uprising in Hungary

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1709 – Rákóczi Uprising in Hungary

The campaign lasted from April to December 1709

Description

Preparations

Imperial troops stationed on the left bank of the Danube were under the command of G.d.C. Johann Count Pálffy; those on the right bank, under G.d.C. Marchese Cusani on behalf of FM Heister who was sojourning in Vienna.

The Imperial commanders of the various fortresses were:

  • at Szighet: FM Count Huyn
  • at Ofen: FZM Pfeffershofen
  • at Gran: GFWM Kuckländer
  • at Leopoldstadt: GFWM Scherzer
  • at Stuhlweissenburg: Colonel Gückhl
  • at Pest: Lieutenant-Colonel Lavernay
  • at Komorn: Colonel Leithmann
  • at Pressburg: Lieutenant-Colonel Güllich
  • at Trencsén: Lieutenant-Colonel Morelli
  • at Grosswardein: FML Count Löwenburg

At the beginning of 1709, Imperial troops were deployed as follows:

Operations in Hungary

The winter of 1708-1709 was very hard with lot of snow. G.d.C. Pálffy received the order to occupy the Komitats (counties) of Arva, Liptau and Thurócz. However, the most suitable roads had been secured by the rebels, and Pálffy was forced to use the difficult roads through the Tatra Mountains. Pálffy carefully organised his attack.

On 5 January, Colonel Ocskay and Baron Egremont marched with 1,000 Imperial foot through the mountains in an attempt to surprise the rebels at Rosenberg (present-day Ružomberok/SK). Meanwhile, a second detachment (600 foot and 600 horse) under GFWM Tollet and Viard marched to Altgebirge (present-day Staré Hory/SK). Finally, G.d.C. Pálffy and Colonel Ebergényi with 2,000 men tried to reach Tjerchova (present-day Těrchová/SK).

The region was occupied by the rebel troops of Luzsinsky, Rethey and Franz Deák. The mountain passes, located at an altitude between 1,200 and 1,500 m., had been secured by the rebel regiments of Czelders and Paul Andrássy, each counting 1,200 men.

Pálffy's raid was successful, His troops turned the rebel positions and appeared in their rear, forcing them to abandon their entrenchments and to retire from the region of Liptov. Then Tollet's Corps besieged the Castle of Arva (present-day Orava/SK) but Colonel Winkler refused to surrender (he would finally surrender in April). The exhausted Imperial troops rested for three days at Rosenberg. Pálffy reported to Vienna that 700 of his men had suffered from frostbites. Baron Michael Révay then changed allegiance and joined the Imperial troops with his company.

The rebels evacuated the Komitats of Liptau and Thurócz and retreated to Zips (present-day Spiš/SK).

In the following weeks, heavy snow storms kept Rákoczi from making any counter-move. He asked for an armistice.

In April, Rákoczi tried to enlist new recruits but the inhabitants fled into the forests to evade enlistment.

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 May, Rákoczi was at Munkács; Károlyi, at Héves; and Bercsényi, at Gyöngyös, their troops still in their winter-quarters.

In May, Major-General Jörger von Tollet ordered the construction of earthworks against a possible attack by Rákóczi's troops advancing from the region of Zips (present-day Spiš/SK). 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 were erected on this second line, the villages Vavrišovo and Pribylina were fortified by palisades, and a Sternschanze (star-redoubt) was built at the western end of Vavrišovo. Artillery was posted in Liptovský Peter and Nový Hrad.

At the end of May, FM Heister held a meeting with other generals in Vienna.

In June, Rákóczi decided to reconquer the lost regions of Liptov and Orava. His scouts kept him well informed about the situation of the Imperial forces. 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.

On 7 June, FM Heister arrived at Körmed where his troops were assembling.

On 20 June, Heister's Army encamped at Beléd. GFWM Croix was on his way with a supply convoy of 500 wagons to join the army at Beléd. Heister feared that the convoy could be attacked by Anton Esterházy's Corps and marched to meet Croix's convoy at Sárvár.

The rebels intended to attack St. Gotthard. Heister followed them with his cavalry, ordering Croix to advance towards Güsing at head of 1,000 horse. At Güsing, Croix engaged 3 rebel regiments led by Anton Esterházy and put them to flight. In this action, the rebels lost 200 men killed.

Heister's troops formed a cordon along the Raab River; while G.d.C. Pálffy was instructed to hold his position on the Gran River and to lay siege to Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK). For his part, Heister besieged Sümegh.

On 30 July, Sümegh surrendered to the Imperialists. A few days later, it was the turn of Simontornya to capitulate.

On 3 August, a Kuruc force a some 7,000 men advanced towards the lines established by Major-General Jörger von Tollet in the region of Liptov.

On 4 August, the Kuruc attacked the lines in the Combat of Vavrisó but the assault was inconclusive.

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

On 7 August, Field-Marshal Johann Pálffy, who had been informed about the critical situation of the encircled Jörger von Tollet, sent Major-General Viard from Neusohl with 500 horse and 600 foot to relieve him.

On the night of 8 to 9 August, Viard reached Rosenberg, where he was reinforced by 6 heavy cavalry sqns and 3 sqns of Ocskay Hussars, led by Ladislaus Baron Ebergényi.

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.

On 13 August, Duke Rákóczi, who was at the Castle of Šarišský Potok, received news of the retreat of Count Michael Csáky. Michael Bercsényi was tasked with investigating the reasons for the unfortunate withdrawal. Bercsényi did not want to harm his brother-in-law Count Csáky, so the investigation came to nothing. However, after these incidents, Rákóczi lost confidence in Count Michael Csáky and Count Paul Andrássy.

On 4 September, Heister laid siege to Veszprém, defended by Johann Eckstein.

On 7 September, Veszprém capitulated and Eckstein and some other officers, who had deserted from the Imperial army, were put to death. Heister then returned to Raab.

Relations between G.d.C. Pálffy and FM Heister were not good and gave rise to incessant quarrels. Accordingly, Pálffy asked to be transferred to the Low Countries but Prince Eugène rejected his request. However, Pálffy was soon promoted to field-marshal.

Pálffy's troops then blockaded Neuhäusel. The fortress could count on a strong garrison under the command of Stephan Berthóty. Furthermore, rebel parties conducted diversions in the neighbouring villages, causing much problems to the besiegers. The latter vainly tried to cut communication between the garrison of Neuhäusel and rebel troops operating in the vicinity.

By then, the situation of the Imperial troops in Upper Hungary was deteriorating. The towns of Arva and Liptau were lost to the rebels. Bercsényi threatened Pálffy who retreated to Zólyom (present-day Zvolen/SK).

On 7 October, FM Heister with 1 infantry battalion and 3 cavalry regiments marched to Gran where he effected a junction with GFWM Croix. Soon afterwards, FM Pálffy joined them. The generals divided their army in three corps:

  1. Pálffy marched with 2,000 horse to Neutra, Mocsonk and Szered and was charged to reinstate the blockade of Neuhäusel.
  2. GFWM Löffelholz at the head of hired Polish foot and horse under Duke Lubomirski was instructed to effect a junction with Ebergényi and Tollet and then to march to Leutschau (present-day Levoča/SK).
  3. FM Heister with the main body would drive Daniel Esterházy's troops away from the Ipel River and then try to attack Gács (present-day Halič/SK).

Heister moved fast and surprised the garrison of Gács. He then took advantage of darkness to occupy the small town surrounding the castle which was vainly summoned to surrender. Heister established some batteries of mortars.

On 4 November, the garrison the Castle of Gács (250 men) surrendered. In this castle, Heister seized a few guns, a lot of ammunition and other material.

Afterwards, FM Heister marched on Zips (present-day Spiš/SK) and occupied Kézsmark (present-day Kežmarok/SK). He then turned his attention on Leutschau, hold by the rebels under Czelder.

On 20 November, Heister's artillery opened against the walls of Leutschau.

On 25 November, rebel infantry under Károly at Krompach but it was soon driven back to Szeben (present-day Sabinov/SK).

At the beginning of December, the rebels received the support of Michal Potoczky at the head of approx. 3,500 men (Polish and Swedish volunteers). Potoczky effected a junction with the rebel forces at Homona (present-day Humenné/SK).

Imperial troops took their winter-quarters around various castles. Heister and his staff established themselves at Szécsény. His cavalry was posted near Losoncz (present-day Lučenec/SK) and Wigles (present-day Víglaš/SK). GFWM Viard took position on the right wing at Vadkert/HU near the Danube River with La Tour Cuirassiers , Althan Dragoons, Secula Hussars and part of Deutschmeister Infantry (11 coys). For his part, Lieutenant-Colonel Count Trento, with 300 horse and Joseph Esterházy Hussars to observe the garrison of Neuhäusel and to prevent its raids in the villages near the fortress.

Operations in Transylvania

At the beginning of 1709, FML Kriechbaum was governor in Transylvania. During winter, around 10,000 rebels were camped near Belényes.

On 19 February, GFWM Montecuccoli defeated the rebels near Belényes and put them to flight.

In July, FML Kriechbaum concentrated his forces around Maros-Vásárhely (present-day Tirgu Mures/RO).

During the campaign, there were only a few minor actions of rebel parties in Transylvania. Kriechbaum mainly concentrated his forces along the border to prevent rebel forces operating in Hungary from entering into Transylvania.

Kriechbaum's only problem was the Fortress of Grosswardein whose garrison was threatened by larger rebel detachments.

At the end of July, Kriechbaum decided to resupply Grosswardein and marched with 130 wagons towards the fortress.

On 2 August, Kriechbaum met a rebel detachment and took a few prisoners who informed him that Colonel Bagosy with 500 horse and 500 foot had prepared an ambush nearby. Kriechbaum's troops surprised Bagosy's rebels who fled after a short fight. The supply wagons arrived safely at Grosswardein.

Kriechbaum rested his troops for some days near Püspöky.

On 6 August, Kriechbaum was attacked by 3 cavalry regiments but he rapidly drove them back.

On 10 August, Kriechbaum's “supply corps” marched back. Károlyi (8,000 men in 6 infantry regiments and 11 cavalry regiments) had prepared entrenchments behind a defile near Királyhágo. A fight was unavoidable. The infantry under FML Kriechbaum attacked immediately while the cavalry, commanded by GFWM Graven, was hold back as reserve on the left wing. In its first attack, the Imperial infantry drove the rebels out of their entrenchments and then pursued them. At this moment, Károlyi, who had managed to turn the positions of the Imperialists, attacked their rear with his cavalry. Colonel Acton ordered some squadrons of Rabutin Dragoons to dismount. Their lively fire put a stop to the advance of Károlyi's cavalry and then drove it back. At 7:30 p.m., GFWM Graven attacked Károly's flank with his cavalry and the rebels broke and fled. Infantry regiments Pálffy, Neipperg, Löffelholz and Virmond and cavalry regiments Rabutin, Gronsfeld, Darmstadt, Cusani and Montecuccoli reported minor losses.

In September and October, the detachments of FML Montecuccoli, GFWM Tige and GFWM Wellenstein had a few skirmishes with the rebels.

In December, Imperial troops took their winter-quarters.

By the end of the year, the Imperial army in Transylvania counted 5,056 foot and 4,618 cavalrymen with 3,807 horses.

References

Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 2, Vol. 2, Vienna 1886

Bánlaky, József: A Magyar Nemzet Hadtörténelme

Chrastina, Ph Dr. Petr: Krajina v bitke …, Prešov/SK, 2012

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

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

Bojiská na Slovensku – Vavrišovo

Vojenské dejiny Slovenska, file II, Bratislava 1995

Acknowledgements

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

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article