1709 – Rákóczi Uprising in Hungary
The campaign lasted from April to December 1709
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:
- in Hungary
- Salm Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Heister Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Nehem Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Heister Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Hasslingen Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Thürheim Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Löffelholz Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Arnan Infantry (8 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Sickingen Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Wendt Infantry (8 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Tollet Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Deutschmeister Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Croatian Militia (? foot coys and ? mounted coys)
- Banater Militia (? foot coys and ? mounted coys)
- Hungarian Militia (? foot coys and ? mounted coys)
- Petrasch Grenzers (? foot coys)
- Pressburg Volunteers (? foot coys)
- Komorn Volunteers (? foot coys)
- Komorn Militia (? foot coys)
- Grosswardein Militia (? foot coys and ? mounted coys)
- Hannover Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Hohenzollern Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Uhlefeld Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Hannover Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- La Tour Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Steinville Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Savoyen Dragoons (12 coys)
- Bayreuth Dragoons (12 coys)
- Breuner Dragoons (12 coys)
- Althan Dragoons (12 coys)
- Würzburger Wolfskehl Dragoons (10 coys)
- Chur-Mainz Schönborn Dragoons (8 coys)
- Ocskay Hussars (? coys) former rebel unit who had then joined the Imperialists
- Nádasdy Hussars (? coys)
- Secula Hussars (? coys) Slavonian militia
- Demetri Militia Hussars (? coys)
- Esterházy Hussars (? coys)
- in Transylnania
- Nikolaus Pálffy Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Neipperg Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Virmond Infantry (16 musketeer coys, 1 grenadier coy)
- Gronsfeld Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Jung-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Cusani Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Montecuccoli Cuirassiers (12 coys)
- Rabuttin-Bussy Dragoons (12 coys)
- Pavlik Militia Hussars (600 men)
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. 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.
In May, Rákoczi was at Munkács; Károlyi, at Héves; and Bercsényi, at Gyöngyös, their troops still in their winter-quarters.
At the end of May, FM Heister held a meeting with other generals in Vienna.
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 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:
- Pálffy marched with 2,000 horse to Neutra, Mocsonk and Szered and was charged to reinstate the blockade of Neuhäusel.
- 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).
- 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.
Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 2, Vol. 2, Vienna 1886
Chrastina, Ph Dr. Petr: Krajina v bitke …, Prešov/SK, 2012
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