Königgrätz, Battle of

   Also known as the Battle of Sadowa, Königgrätz was the main battle of the Austro‑Prussian War. The three-pronged Prussian advance into Bohemia in late June exposed a number of weaknesses in the Austrian North Army and the competence of its senior officers. First, the Prussian army’s needle gun had proven vastly superior to Austrian muskets, producing a casualty rate of four Austrians for each Prussian. Second, the Austrian army was not making use of field telegraphs to coordinate army movements. Most important, the Austrian commander, General Ludwig Benedek, never communicated to his subordinates what his plan of campaign was. On July 1, Benedek inexplicably halted the army north of the Austrian fortress system along the Elbe River, northwest of the town of Königgrätz, far enough away that the fortresses offered no protection. Worse still, the Austrian lines were placed poorly, forming a V-shape that made both left and right wings vulnerable, and the Austrians had their backs to the Elbe, limiting opportunities for retreat or reinforcement. Meanwhile, two Prussian armies were advancing cautiously toward the Austrian fortress system. The First Army, commanded by Prince Frederick Charles, marched roughly east along the Elbe; the Second Army, under the Crown Prince Frederick, was coming south on the other bank of the Elbe. The Prussians learned of the Austrian halt thanks to a single cavalry patrol on the evening of July 2. Frederick Charles received the news and drafted a plan of attack for the First Army alone for the next morning. When Chief of the Prussian General Staff Helmuth von Moltke was advised of the impending battle, he amended Frederick Charles’s plan by ordering the Second Army to make all due haste to meet outside Königgrätz, and thus have both armies attack the Austrians at the same time. No one was quite sure where the Second Army was, however, and whether it would arrive in time to engage the enemy. The initial stages of the battle did not go well for the Prussians; superior Austrian artillery fire kept the Prussian attackers at bay. The battle soon began to revolve around possession of the Swiepwald, a dense forest on the Prussian left. The Austrians eventually drove the Prussians out of the forest, but at the cost of thousands of casualties from deadly Prussian rifle fire. This and other assaults kept Benedek’s attention focused on the center of his lines, ignoring the increasing peril he faced on the right and left.
   Meanwhile, the Crown Prince drove his army toward the sound of the guns, hoping to arrive in time to make a difference. Although the Austrian artillery again proved its superiority over the Prussian artillery, Prussian infantry continued to make steady gains. Eventually, the Austrians had to pull their guns back or abandon them. The entire Austrian North Army was in danger of being enveloped on both sides, by Frederick Charles on their left and by the Crown Prince on the right. It took determined resistance by rearguard elements to buy time for the Austrians to retreat over the Elbe, but the Austrian North Army was in no condition to resume hostilities.
   The battle of Königgrätz is considered a classic example of Napoleonic strategy: have several forces march separately but concentrate at the field of battle. Even though Moltke was not certain that the Crown Prince’s army would arrive in time, he made sure the day’s battle plans took the availability of both armies into account. Without Austrian determination, the double-envelopment would have succeeded and the entire Austrian North Army would have been lost. Nevertheless, the Austrians were incapable of opposing the Prussians, and the road to Vienna lay open to Prussian Advance.
   See also <>; <>; <>; <>.
    Craig, Gordon A. The Battle of Königgrätz: Prussia ’ s Victory over Austria. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997;
    Showalter, Dennis. The Wars of German Unification. London: Arnold, 2004;
    Wawro, Geoffrey. The Austro-Prussian War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Königgrätz, Battle of — or Battle of Sadowa (July 3, 1866) Decisive battle in the Seven Weeks War between Prussia and Austria, fought at Sadowa, near Königgrätz, Bohemia (now Hradec Králové, Czech Republic). The Austrians, equipped with muzzle loading rifles and relying …   Universalium

  • battle — battle1 battler, n. /bat l/, n., v., battled, battling. n. 1. a hostile encounter or engagement between opposing military forces: the battle of Waterloo. 2. participation in such hostile encounters or engagements: wounds received in battle. 3. a… …   Universalium

  • Battle of Königgrätz — Infobox Military Conflict caption=The Battle of Königgrätz by Georg Bleibtreu. Oil on canvas, 1869. partof=the Austro Prussian War conflict=Battle of Königgrätz date=3 July 1866 place=Sadová, Bohemia, present day Czech Republic result= Decisive… …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Lissa (1866) — Infobox Military Conflict caption= The Sea Battle of Lissa by Carl Frederik Sorensen, 1868. partof=the Third Italian War of Independence conflict=Battle of Lissa date=July 20 1866 place=Adriatic Sea, near Lissa, present day Croatia result=… …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Bezzecca — Infobox Military Conflict caption=Battle of Bezzecca partof=the Austro Prussian War conflict=Battle of Bezzecca date=July 21, 1866 place=Bezzecca, Trentino, northern Italy result=Italian victory combatant1=flagicon|Italy|1861 Italy… …   Wikipedia

  • KÖNIGGRÄTZ —    (16), a Bohemian town 60 m. E. of Prague; was the scene of a terrible battle called Sa dowa, in Austria, where the Germans defeated the Austrians in 1866 …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Königgrätz — /kɜnɪgˈgrɛts/ (say kernig grets) noun a town in the Czech Republic, in the north western part on the Elbe in Bohemia; the Prussians defeated the Austrians near here in the Battle of Sadowa, 1866. Czech, Hradec Kralove …   Australian English dictionary

  • Königgrätz /Hradec Králové, Battle of —    See Seven Weeks’ War …   Historical dictionary of Austria

  • Bataille de Königgrätz — Bataille de Sadowa Bataille de Sadowa La bataille de Sadowa, huile sur toile de Georg Bleibtreu (1869) Informations générales Date 3 juillet …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Germany — /jerr meuh nee/, n. a republic in central Europe: after World War II divided into four zones, British, French, U.S., and Soviet, and in 1949 into East Germany and West Germany; East and West Germany were reunited in 1990. 84,068,216; 137,852 sq.… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.