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Title: The Campaign of Ko?niggra?tz - A Study of the Austro-Prussian Conflict in the Light of - the American Civil War
Author: Wagner, Arthur L.
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *


_THE_ Campaign of Königgrätz,

  _A Study of the Austro-Prussian Conflict in the Light
  of the American Civil War._



  First Lieut. 6th U. S. Infantry,

  _Assistant Instructor in the Art of War, at the U. S. Infantry and
  Cavalry School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas._



The greater part of the subject-matter of this volume was originally
given as a lecture to the officers at the U. S. Infantry and Cavalry
School. The kindly reception accorded to the lecture has encouraged me
to revise and amplify it, and to publish it in its present form.

As to the narrative portion of the book, no other claim is made than
that it is based upon the story of the campaign as given in the
Prussian Official History of the Campaign of 1866, Hozier’s “Seven
Weeks’ War,” Derrécagaix’s “_La Guerre Moderne_,” and Adams’ “Great
Campaigns in Europe.” I have not deemed it necessary to cumber the
pages with notes of reference, but will here express my indebtedness
to the works mentioned, giving precedence to them in the order
named. Other works have been consulted, which are enumerated in the
bibliographical note at the end of the volume. I have also personally
visited the scene of the operations described, and, especially in
regard to the topography of the battle field of Königgrätz, I am able
to speak from my own observation.

My object has been: 1. To give a brief, but accurate, historical sketch
of a great campaign, to which but little attention has been given in
this country. 2. To make a comparison of some of the military features
of the War of Secession with corresponding features of the European war
which occurred one year later.

European critics have generally been loth to acknowledge the military
excellence displayed during the War of Secession; and, even when giving
full credit for the valor exhibited by our soldiers, have too often
regarded our veteran armies as mere “armed mobs.” Chesney, Adams,
Trench and Maude have recognized the value of the lessons taught
by the American armies, and Lord Wolseley has recently developed an
appreciation of such American generalship and soldierly worth as
he can see through Confederate spectacles. But European military
writers generally, and those of the Continent especially, still fail
to recognize in the developments of our war the germ, if not the
prototype, of military features which are regarded as new in Europe.
The remarks of Colonel Chesney still hold true: “There is a disposition
to regard the American generals, and the troops they led, as altogether
inferior to regular soldiers. This prejudice was born out of the
blunders and want of coherence exhibited by undisciplined volunteers at
the outset--faults amply atoned for by the stubborn courage displayed
by both sides throughout the rest of the struggle; while, if a man’s
claims to be regarded as a veteran are to be measured by the amount
of actual fighting he has gone through, the most seasoned soldiers
of Europe are but as conscripts compared with the survivors of that
conflict. The conditions of war on a grand scale were illustrated to
the full as much in the contest in America, as in those more recently
waged on the Continent.”

But it is not only among European critics that the military excellence
displayed by our armies has been depreciated. There is a small class
among the professional soldiers in our own country, who are wont to
bestow all possible admiration upon the military operations in recent
European wars, not because they were excellent, but because they were
European; and to belittle the operations in our own war, not because
they were not excellent, but because they were American. To this small
class, whose humility in regard to our national achievements is rarely
combined with individual modesty, this book is not addressed. It is
to the true American soldier that this little volume is offered, with
the hope that the views expressed may meet with his approval and be
sanctioned by his judgment.

  A. L. W.



The German war of 1866, generally known as “the Seven Weeks’ War,”
presents many features of interest to the student, the statesman and
the soldier. It closed a strife of centuries between opposing nations
and antagonistic political ideas. It resulted in the formation of the
North German Confederation, and thus planted the seeds of a nation,
which germinated four years later, during the bloody war with France.
It banished Austria from all participation in the affairs of Germany,
expelled her from Italy, and deflected her policy thenceforth towards
the east and south. It demonstrated that preparation for war is a more
potent factor than mere numbers in computing the strength of a nation;
and it gave an illustration on a grand scale of the new conditions
of war resulting from the use of the telegraph, the railroad and
breech-loading firearms.

It is not the intention here to consider any but the military features
of the great Germanic contest. Beginning the subject at the period when
the quarrel between Austria and Prussia over the provinces that they
had wrested from Denmark, passed from the tortuous paths of diplomacy
to the direct road of war, we will consider the relative strength of
the combatant nations.

As the advocate of the admission of Schleswig-Holstein as a sovereign
state in the Germanic Confederation, Austria gained first the
sympathy, and then the active alliance, of Bavaria, Hanover, Saxony,
Hesse-Cassel, Würtemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt and Nassau. Prussia
aimed at the incorporation of the duchies within her own territory;
and, though loudly championing the cause of German unity, her course
was so manifestly inspired by designs for her own aggrandizement, that
she could count on the support of only a few petty duchies, whose
aggregate military strength did not exceed 28,000 men. As an offset to
Austria’s formidable German allies, Prussia had concluded an offensive
and defensive alliance with Italy, whose army, though new and inferior
in organization, armament and equipment, to that of her antagonist,
might be relied upon to “contain” at least three Austrian army corps
in Venetia. The main struggle was certain to be between the two great
Germanic nations.

At a first glance Prussia would seem to be almost hopelessly
overmatched in her contest with Austria. The latter nation possessed
an area more than twice as great as the former, and in contrast
with the Prussian population of less than 20,000,000, it could show
an aggregate of 35,000,000 people. But a more careful examination
discloses the great superiority of the Prussian kingdom. The population
of Prussia was almost exclusively German; that of Austria was a
heterogeneous aggregation of Germans, Czechs, Magyars, Poles, Croats
and Italians, bound together in a purely artificial nationality.
The Austrian national debt amounted to nearly $1,550,000,000; the
annual expenditures so far exceeded the revenue as to cause a yearly
deficit of more than $16,000,000, and the nation was threatened with
bankruptcy. On the other hand, the Prussian national debt was only
$210,000,000, the revenue exceeded the expenditures, and the finances
were in a healthy condition. But the great superiority of the northern
kingdom over its opponent lay in the organization, armament, equipment
and _personnel_ of its army.

The old adage, “Experience is a severe, but good, schoolmaster,” is
true of nations as well as individuals. A crushing disaster, bringing
with it humiliation, sorrow and disgrace, is often the birth of a
stronger, better, life in the apparent victim of misfortune. The
greatness of Prussia was not born in the brilliant victories of
Rossbach, Leuthen and Zorndorf. It was in the bitter travail of Jena
and the treaty of Tilsit that birth was given to the power of the
kingdom. Forbidden by Napoleon to maintain an army of more than 42,000
men, the great Prussian war minister, Scharnhorst, determined to create
an army while obeying the commands of the conqueror. There was no
stipulation in the treaty as to the length of service of the soldiers;
and after a few months of careful instruction and almost incessant
drill, they were quietly discharged, and their places were taken by
recruits, who were soon replaced in the same manner. Thus the little
army became, as it were, a lake of military training, into which flowed
a continuous stream of recruits, and from which there came a steady
current of efficient soldiers. When the army of Napoleon returned
from its disastrous campaign in Russia, there arose, as by magic, a
formidable Prussian army, of which nearly 100,000 men were trained

The success of the Prussian arms in the final struggle with Napoleon
was so manifestly due to the measures adopted by Scharnhorst, that his
system was made the permanent basis of the national military policy.
The “Reorganization of 1859” nearly doubled the standing army, and
made some important changes in the length of service required with the
colors and in the Landwehr; but the essential features of the Prussian
system are the same now as in the days of Leipsic and Waterloo.

Every Prussian twenty years of age is subject to military duty. The
term of service is twelve years, of which three are with the colors,
four with the reserve and five in the Landwehr. The number of soldiers
in the active army is definitely fixed at a little more than one per
cent of the population, and the number of recruits annually required
is regulated by the number of men necessary to keep the regular force
on its authorized peace footing. A list of the young men available for
military service is annually made out, and the selection of recruits
is made by lot. There are but few exceptions; such, for instance, as
young men who are the sole support of indigent parents. Students who
are preparing for the learned professions are permitted to serve as
“one-year volunteers,” on condition of passing certain examinations
satisfactorily, and furnishing their own clothing and equipments.
The name of a man convicted of crime is never placed on the list of
available recruits; and however humble the position of a private
soldier may be, his uniform is the honorable badge of an honest man.
Every young man may be called up for draft three years in succession.
Those who are not drawn for service at the end of the third year are
passed into the Ersatz reserve, in which are also men whose physical
imperfections are not sufficient to exempt them entirely, where they
are free from service in time of peace, but from which they may be
called in time of war to replace drafts from the reserve. In time of
peace the military demands upon the soldiers of the reserve or Landwehr
are very light. A soldier participates in at least two field maneuvers,
aggregating about sixteen weeks, during his four years of service in
the reserve. He is also required to attend muster once every spring and
autumn. During his five years in the Landwehr he is generally called
out twice for drill, the drill period not exceeding fourteen days.

The active army is the regular army, or permanent establishment. When
the decree for the mobilization of the army is promulgated, this force
is at once put upon its war footing by drafts from the reserve. The
depots are immediately formed, and one-half of the troops stationed
therein are drawn from the reserve; the other half being recruits from
the Ersatz reserve. As these two classes become exhausted, the depot
battalions are filled from the Landwehr, the youngest classes being
taken first; or, if needs be, the entire Landwehr is called out in
battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions, or even army corps, and
sent into the field. After exhausting the Landwehr, there still remains
the Landsturm, which embraces all able-bodied men between the ages of
seventeen and forty-nine years who do not belong to the active army,
the reserve, or the Landwehr. Though the calling out of the Landsturm
would imply the exhaustion of the organized forces of the nation, it
would be more than a mere levy _en masse_, as it would bring back into
the army many soldiers whose twelve years of service would not have
been completely forgotten in the midst of civil vocations.

The machinery for the rapid mobilization of the army is kept in perfect
order. Each army corps, except the Guards, is assigned to a particular
province. The province is divided into divisional districts, which are
again subdivided so that each brigade, regiment and battalion has its
own district, from which it draws its recruits both in peace and war.
A register is kept of every man available for military duty, and in
time of peace every officer knows just what part he is to perform the
minute mobilization is decreed, and each soldier knows where he is to
report for duty. The secret of the efficiency of the German military
system lies in the division of responsibility, and the thorough
decentralization, by which every man, from the monarch to the private
soldier, has his own especial part to perform.

In 1866 the active army, on a war footing, comprised nine army corps,
and aggregated 335,000 men. Each corps consisted of twenty-four
battalions of infantry, sixteen batteries of artillery, twenty-four
squadrons of cavalry, one battalion of rifles, one battalion of
engineers, an engineer train, and a military train conveying ammunition
and subsistence, quartermaster’s and hospital supplies. Each infantry
battalion numbered 1,000 men. Three battalions formed a regiment,
two regiments a brigade, and two brigades a division. Each battery
contained six guns. Four batteries were assigned to each infantry
division, two batteries of horse artillery were attached to the cavalry
division, and four batteries of field and two of horse artillery
constituted the reserve artillery of each corps. Each squadron of
cavalry numbered about 140 sabres. Four squadrons composed a regiment,
two regiments a brigade, two brigades a division. A regiment of cavalry
was attached to each infantry division. Each corps numbered about
31,000 combatants, except the Guards, which numbered 36,000--having
four additional battalions and eight additional squadrons. During the
campaign under consideration, the cavalry of an army corps consisted of
only one regiment to each division of infantry; the cavalry division
being taken from each corps, and merged into the corps of reserve

The depot troops consisted of a battalion for each regiment of
infantry, a squadron for each regiment of cavalry, an _abtheilung_ [3
or 4 batteries] for the artillery of each corps, and a company for each
rifle battalion, engineer battalion and train battalion. The army in
the field was constantly kept up to a full war strength by men drawn
from the depots. The fortresses were garrisoned by Landwehr; and on
troops of the same class devolved the duty of pushing forward to occupy
invaded territory, and to relieve the active army from the necessity of
leaving detachments to guard its communications.

This is a brief outline of the organization that enabled a nation of
less than 20,000,000 people eventually to bring 600,000 soldiers upon
the theatre of war, and to place a quarter of a million of them upon
the decisive field of Königgrätz.

The Austrian regular army, when placed upon its war footing, numbered
about 384,000 men; and by calling out all of the reserve, this force
could be raised to a formidable total of 700,000. But in organization
and system of recruitment the Austrian army was inferior to its
antagonist, notwithstanding its war experience in 1849 and in the
struggle with France and Italy ten years later. The superb system by
which Prussia was enabled to send forth a steady stream of trained
soldiers to replace the losses of battle was wanting in Austria;
and the machinery of military administration seemed deranged by the
effort required to place the first gigantic armies in the field. The
difference between the two military systems is shown in a striking
manner by the fact that the mobilization of the Prussian army of
490,000 men, decreed early in May, was completed in fourteen days, and
by the 5th of June 325,000 were massed on the hostile frontiers; while
the mobilization of the Austrian army, begun ten weeks earlier than
that of Prussia, was far from complete on that date.

Nor was the superiority of the Prussian to the Austrian army, as
a collective body, greater than the individual superiority of the
Prussian soldier to his antagonist. As a result of the admirable
Prussian school system, every Prussian soldier was an educated man.
Baron Stoffel, the French military _attaché_ at Berlin from 1866 to
1870, says: “‘When,’ said the Prussian officers, ‘our men came in
contact with the Austrian prisoners, and on speaking to them found that
they hardly knew their right hand from their left, there was not one
who did not look upon himself as a god in comparison with such ignorant
beings, and this conviction increased our strength tenfold.’”

The Prussian army was the first that ever took the field armed entirely
with breech-loading firearms. In the War of Secession a portion of
the Federal troops were, towards the end of the struggle, armed with
breech-loading rifles; but now the entire Prussian army marched forth
with breech-loaders, to battle against an army which still retained
the muzzle-loading rifle. Great as was the superiority of the needle
gun over the Austrian musket, it would seem but a sorry weapon at
the present day. The breech mechanism was clumsy, the cartridge case
was made of paper, the accuracy of the rifle did not extend beyond
300 yards, and its extreme range was scarcely more than twice that
distance. Yet this rifle was the best infantry weapon of the time, and
it contributed greatly to the success of the Prussians. The Prussian
artillery was armed mainly with steel breech-loading rifled guns. These
guns were classed as 6-pounders and 4-pounders, though the larger piece
fired a shell weighing 15 lbs., and the smaller one used a similar
projectile weighing 9 lbs.[1] Shell fire seems to have been exclusively
used, and the shells to have been uniformly provided with percussion

In the Austrian army the artillery was provided with bronze
muzzle-loading rifled guns, classified as 8-pdrs. and 4-pdrs. The
infantry was armed with the muzzle-loading Lorenz rifle.

The German allies of Austria could place about 150,000 men in the
field; Italy, about 200,000.


The geographical situation was unfavorable to Prussia. The map of
Germany, as it existed before the Austro-Prussian war, shows Rhineland
and Westphalia completely separated from the other provinces of Prussia
by the hostile territory of Hanover and Hesse-Cassel, which, extending
from the north, joined the South German States which were in arms
against the northern kingdom. The Austrian province of Bohemia, with
the adjacent kingdom of Saxony, formed a salient, pushing forward,
as it were, into the Prussian dominions, and furnishing a base from
which either Silesia or Lusatia might be invaded. In the language of
the Prussian Staff History of the Campaign of 1866: “In one direction
stood the Saxon army as a powerful advanced guard only six or seven
marches distant from the Prussian capital, which is protected from the
south by no considerable vantage ground; in the other Breslau could
the more easily be reached in five marches, because, trusting to a
former federal compact with Austria, Schweidnitz had been given up as
a fortress.” The forces of Hanover and Hesse-Cassel, numbering 25,000
men, could operate against the communications of the Prussian armies,
or withdraw to the south and unite with the Austrians or Bavarians. The
South German armies might form a junction in Saxony or Bohemia with the
Austro-Saxon army.


The Prussian army was commanded by the King. His chief-of-staff was
Baron Hellmuth Von Moltke, a soldier of reputation in Prussia, but as
yet almost unknown beyond the boundaries of his own country.

The object of Von Moltke was to protect the Prussian rear by defeating
the Hanoverian and Hessian troops; to prevent a junction of these
troops with their South German allies; to “contain” the latter with
as small a force as possible, and to hurl the crushing weight of the
Prussian forces upon the Austro-Saxon army.

On the 14th of June the Prussian armies were stationed as follows:

The “Army of the Elbe,” consisting of three divisions, two cavalry
brigades and 144 guns, in cantonments round Torgau, under command of
General Herwarth Von Bittenfeld;

The “First Army,” consisting of three army corps, a cavalry corps of
six brigades, and 300 guns, near Görlitz, under command of Prince
Frederick Charles;

The “Second Army,” consisting of four army corps, a cavalry division of
three brigades, and 336 guns, in the vicinity of Neisse, under command
of the Crown Prince.

Besides the three main armies, there were other forces stationed as

One division at Altona, in Holstein, under Von Manteuffel;

One division at Minden, under Vogel Von Falckenstein;

One division (made up principally of the Prussian garrisons withdrawn
from the Federal fortresses of Mayence, Rastadt and Frankfort) at
Wetzlar, under Von Beyer.

The Austrian “Army of the North” was posted as follows:

Ist Corps, at Prague, Teplitz, Theresienstadt and Josephstadt;

IInd Corps, near Bömisch Trübau;

IVth Corps, near Teschen;

VIth Corps, at Olmütz;

IIId Corps, at Brünn;

Xth Corps at Brünn;

VIIIth Corps, in the neighborhood of Austerlitz.

To these corps were attached five divisions of cavalry and more than
750 guns.

This army was under command of Field Marshal Von Benedek, an officer of
great experience and high reputation.

The Saxon army, 25,000 strong, with fifty-eight guns, was at Dresden,
under command of the Crown Prince of Saxony.

The Bavarian army was concentrating on the line of the Main between
Amberg and Würzburg. It numbered 52,000 men, and was under command of
Prince Charles of Bavaria.

The VIIIth Federal Corps was forming at Frankfort. It consisted of the
contingents of Würtemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt and Nassau, and an
Austrian division drawn from the Federal fortresses. It numbered about
42,000 men, and was under the command of Prince Alexander of Hesse.

The Vth, VIIth and IXth Austrian corps, under the Archduke Albrecht,
were in Venetia, opposed to an Italian army of four corps.

Von Benedek expected to assume the offensive and invade Prussia. He
had announced this intention before the beginning of hostilities, even
going so far as to prescribe rules for the behavior of his soldiers
while in the enemy’s country. It is hard to understand (in the light of
subsequent events) the slight esteem in which the Austrians held their
opponents before the commencement of hostilities. In a general order
issued to his army on June 17, 1866, the Austrian commander says: “We
are now faced by inimical forces, composed partly of troops of the line
and partly of Landwehr. The first comprises young men not accustomed
to privations and fatigue, and who have never yet made an important
campaign; the latter is composed of doubtful and dissatisfied elements,
which, rather than fight against us, would prefer the downfall of their
government. In consequence of a long course of years of peace, the
enemy does not possess a single general who has had an opportunity of
learning his duties on the field of battle.”

Von Benedek’s unfavorable opinion of his adversaries was probably
shared by many other prominent European soldiers; for the excellence of
the military system of Prussia was, as yet, not appreciated by other
nations. Absurd as Von Benedek’s order now appears, it seems to have
excited no unfavorable comment at the time of its appearance; and, in
fact, the expectation of Austrian success was quite general in Europe.

On the 15th of June the Austrian outposts were notified of the
intention of the Prussians to begin hostilities, and war was formally
declared against Hanover, Hesse-Cassel and Saxony. Within twenty-four
hours after the declaration of war, the invasion of each of these minor
states was begun.


Von Falckenstein from Minden, and Von Manteuffel from Altona, moved
upon Hanover, and Von Beyer invaded Hesse-Cassel from Wetzlar. On
the night of the 15th the Hanoverian army, accompanied by the blind
monarch, King George, retreated, chiefly by rail, to Göttingen; the
retreat being conducted in such haste that even the reserve ammunition
and hospital supplies were left behind. On the 17th Von Falckenstein
entered the Hanoverian capital; on the 19th Von Manteuffel marched into
the city; and by the 22d all Hanover, except Göttingen, was in the
possession of the Prussians.

Von Beyer pushed into Hesse-Cassel, the Hessian army retiring before
him, by way of Fulda, upon Hanau, where it formed a junction with the
Federal forces. On the 19th the Prussians entered Cassel, and an army
was thus placed across the path of the retreating Hanoverians.

The Hanoverian army, which had been compelled to wait several days
at Göttingen to complete its organization, resumed its march on the
21st, intending to cross a portion of the Prussian territory _via_
Heiligenstadt and Langensalza, and thence through Eisenach or Gotha, to
form a junction with the Bavarians in the neighborhood of Fulda. Von
Falckenstein pursued from Hanover, detachments were sent from Magdeburg
and Erfurt to Bleicherode and Eisenach, and Von Beyer occupied the
line of the Werra between Allendorf and Eisenach. Though the route
through Eisenach was thus blocked, energetic measures on the part of
the allies might easily have extricated the Hanoverian army from the
constricting grasp of the Prussians. Gotha was occupied by a weak
force of six battalions, two squadrons and three batteries, while
the retreating army numbered 20,500 men. Had the Bavarian army been
well prepared and ably led, a junction might have been formed with
the Hanoverians, and the Prussian force at Gotha captured. But the
Bavarian commander was inefficient, and the over-estimate placed by
King George upon the number of his enemies at Gotha was strengthened
by the receipt, from the commander of the petty force, of an audacious
summons to surrender. Negotiations were entered upon by the Prussian
and Hanoverian representatives; but the armistice (begun on the 24th
and continued until the 26th) produced no other result than the
reinforcement of the force at Gotha; General Von Flies, with five
battalions, being detached from Von Falckenstein’s army, and sent by
rail, _via_ Magdeburg and Halle, to Gotha.

At Treffurt, Kreutzberg, Eisenach and Gotha, points on a semi-circle in
front of the Hanoverians, and within a day’s march of them, were nearly
30,000 Prussians.

On the 27th General Von Flies, advancing through Warza upon
Langensalza, with about 9,000 men, struck the army of King George,
which was well posted on the left bank of the Unstrut river. A battle
followed, in which the Hanoverians defeated Von Flies, and drove his
army several miles towards Warza.

But the Hanoverian victory was a barren one. Von Flies was reinforced
at Warza by a strong detachment from Von Goeben’s division at Eisenach.
Von Goeben and Von Beyer advanced from Eisenach upon Langensalza,
and Von Manteuffel, moving _via_ Heiligenstadt, Worbis, Dingelstadt,
Mühlhausen and Gross Gottern, closed upon the Hanoverians from the
north. The army of King George was now surrounded by 40,000 Prussians,
united under the command of Von Falckenstein. Further resistance was
hopeless, and on the 29th of June the Hanoverians surrendered. The men
were dismissed to their homes, the officers were paroled, and King
George was banished from his kingdom.


In the meantime the main armies had not been idle. The invasion of
Saxony was begun on the 16th of June by the Army of the Elbe and the
First Army. On the night of the 15th of June the Saxon army began its
retreat to Bohemia, detachments of pioneers tearing up the railroad
track between Rieza and Dresden, and between the latter city and
Bautzen. The work of destruction, except the burning of the bridge at
Rieza, was hurriedly and imperfectly done, and did not appreciably
delay the Prussian advance. The Army of the Elbe advanced from Torgau,
_via_ Wurzen, Dahlen and Strehla; a division to each road, and a
detachment from the right division moving _via_ Ostrau and Dobeln to
cover the right flank. The First Army advanced from the neighborhood
of Görlitz, through Löbau and Bautzen, a strong detachment being sent
out on the Zittau road, beyond Ostritz, to observe the passes of
Reichenberg and Gabel, for the army was making a flank march, and the
Austrians might attack through these passes. A cavalry detachment was
pushed out through Bischofswerda to feel the left of the Army of the

On the 18th of June the Army of the Elbe occupied Dresden, and pushed
its outposts beyond the city as far as Lockwitz and Pillnitz. On
the following day the junction of the two armies was perfected. The
1st Reserve Division was sent from Berlin to reinforce Herwarth Von
Bittenfeld, and the combined forces of the Army of the Elbe and the
First Army were placed under the command of Prince Frederick Charles.
To guard against a possible invasion of Saxony by the Bavarians,
measures were at once taken to fortify Dresden, which was occupied
by the 2nd Reserve Division from Berlin; Leipsic and Chemnitz were
occupied by Landwehr; and the Leipsic-Plauen railway beyond Werdau was

On the 17th of June the Emperor of Austria issued a manifesto, in which
he formally announced to his subjects the state of war existing between
Austria and Prussia. Italy declared war against Austria three days

We can now see the immense results following from the thorough military
preparation of Prussia. Launching, as it were, a thunderbolt of
military force upon her enemies at the first moment of war, less than
two weeks sufficed for the complete conquest of Hanover, Hesse-Cassel
and Saxony. Indeed, four days had sufficed for the seizure of the
last two. The King of Hanover had been dethroned; the Elector of
Hesse-Cassel was a prisoner, and the King of Saxony was a fugitive with
his army in Bohemia. The military results were even greater than the
political consequences. The severed portions of the Prussian kingdom
were united. The Hanoverian army had been eliminated from the military
problem, and there was no longer any menace to Prussia from the rear.
Von Falckenstein was now free to turn his undivided attention to the
Bavarians and the Federal Corps, and the occupation of Saxony prevented
all possibility of a junction of the Bavarian and Saxon armies. But the
strategical advantages gained in regard to operations in Bohemia were
the grandest result of the occupation of Saxony.

We have seen that on the 14th of June the Army of the Elbe was
around Torgau, the First Army near Görlitz; and the Second Army in
the vicinity of Neisse; being thus separated from each other by from
100 to 125 miles. The Second Army covered Breslau, the Army of the
Elbe covered Berlin, and the First Army was in a position to support
either of the others. Geographical circumstances thus compelled the
separation of the Prussian armies, and only two of them were available
for the invasion of Bohemia. The occupation of Saxony changed matters
for the better. The distance between the Army of the Elbe and the First
Army was reduced to the extent of actual junction, and these combined
armies were only about 120 miles from Landshut, where the right of the
Second Army now rested, and with which there was communication by means
of the hill road of Schreiberschau. The entire force was now available
for the invasion of Bohemia; the northern passes of the Bohemian
frontier were secured; and if compelled to act upon the defensive,
Frederick Charles could find in the mountains of Southern Saxony many
advantageous positions for defensive battle.

The Prussian plan of operations required an advance of Frederick
Charles’ armies from Saxony into Bohemia, and an invasion of that
province by the Second Army, advancing from Silesia; both armies
to unite at Gitschin, or in its vicinity. It is clear that in thus
advancing from divergent bases, the Prussians gave to their adversary
the advantage of operating by interior lines; generally a serious
military error, as the general operating by interior lines, holding
one of the opponent’s armies by a containing force, and falling with
superior numbers upon the other, may defeat both in succession. Von
Moltke’s plan was, however, sound and proper, for the following reasons:

1. The geographical configuration of the Prussian frontier compelled
the separation of the Prussian armies, in order that Lusatia and
Silesia might both be protected from Austrian invasion; and the
only possible concentration that would not yield to the enemy the
advantage of the initiative, and permit him to invade Prussia, was a
concentration to the front, in the hostile territory.

2. The entire army “could not have advanced in effective order by one
set of mountain roads, but would have extended in columns so lengthened
that it would have been impossible to form to a front commensurate
with its numbers.”

3. The re-entering base of the Prussians would enable each of their
armies to cover its communications with its base, while one of these
armies would surely menace the communications of the Austrians, if Von
Benedek should advance against either.

4. The certainty that the Prussian armies could act with celerity, and
the probability that the Austrian army was not yet fully prepared for
prompt offensive maneuvers, justified the hope that the concentration
might be effected at a point some distance in front of the enemy’s
line. The distance from Görlitz and Neisse to Gitschin was less than
the distance from Olmütz, Brünn and Bömisch Trübau to the same point,
and there was an excellent prospect of being able to concentrate before
Von Benedek could get his army well in hand to strike the Prussian
armies separately.

5. By keeping up telegraphic communication between the two separated
armies, their co-operation and simultaneous action could be assured.

6. If the Prussians could reach the Iser and the Elbe without serious
check, the contracted theatre of operations would render Von Benedek’s
interior position one of danger, rather than one of advantage. Von
Moltke himself, in commenting upon his strategical combination, says:
“If it is advantageous for a general to place his army on an interior
line of operation, it is necessary, in order that he may profit by
it, to have sufficient space to enable him to move against one of
his adversaries at a distance of several days’ march, and to have
time enough then to return against the other. If this space is very
contracted, he will run the risk of having both adversaries on his
hands at once. When an army, on the field of battle, is attacked in
front and on the flank, it avails nothing that it is on an interior
line of operations. That which was a strategical advantage becomes a
tactical disadvantage. If the Prussians were allowed to advance to the
Iser and to the Elbe, if the several defiles which it was necessary to
pass fell into their power, it is evident that it would be extremely
perilous to advance between their two armies. In attacking one, the
risk would be incurred of being attacked in rear by the other.” The
combination, on the field of battle, of the two armies operating from
divergent bases, would admit of just such a front and flank attack
as would convert Von Benedek’s strategical advantage into a serious
tactical disadvantage. It would be a repetition of Waterloo.

7. A failure to unite before encountering the main force of the enemy,
though unfortunate, would not necessarily have been disastrous.
According to Jomini, the advantages of an interior position diminish as
the armies operating increase in size; for the following reasons:

(a). “Considering the difficulty of finding ground and time necessary
to bring a very large force into action on the day of the battle, an
army of 130,000 or 140,000 men may easily resist a much larger force.

(b). “If driven from the field, there will be at least 100,000 men to
protect and insure an orderly retreat and effect a junction with one of
the other armies.

(c). “The central army ... requires such a quantity of provisions,
munitions, horses and _materiel_ of every kind, that it will possess
less mobility and facility in shifting its efforts from one part of
the zone to another; to say nothing of the impossibility of obtaining
provisions from a region too restricted to support such numbers.

(d). “The bodies of observation detached from the central mass to hold
in check two armies of 135,000 men each must be very strong (from
80,000 to 90,000 each); and, being of such magnitude, if they are drawn
into a serious engagement, they will probably suffer reverses, the
effect of which might outweigh the advantages gained by the principal

Finally, the increased defensive power given to infantry by the
introduction of breech-loading rifles might be counted upon to increase
greatly the probability of either of the Prussian armies being able to
fight successfully a _purely defensive_ battle against the entire army
of Von Benedek, armed, as it was, with muzzle-loaders.

In view of these reasons, Von Moltke’s strategy was not only
justifiable, but perfect. The Prussian objective was the Austrian army,
wherever it might be.

Before the commencement of hostilities Von Benedek had, as we have
seen, announced his intention of invading Prussia. Two routes offered
themselves to his choice: one by way of Görlitz and Bautzen to Berlin;
the other by way of the valley of the Oder into Silesia. The latter
route was obstructed by the fortresses of Glatz, Neisse and Kosel;
the former would have led to the unobstructed occupation of Saxony,
and would have enabled the Bavarian army to concentrate, _via_ the
passes of the Saale and Wittenberg, with the Austrians and Saxons.
But, at a time when minutes were worth millions, Von Benedek was slow;
and the preparation and energy of the Prussians enabled them to take
the initiative and throw the Austrians upon the defensive in Bohemia.
Von Benedek then decided to concentrate his army in the vicinity of
Josephstadt and Königinhof; to hold the strong defiles of the Iser or
the Elbe with comparatively weak detachments, and throw his main army
upon the Crown Prince or Frederick Charles, as circumstances might

Von Benedek’s concentration began on the 18th of June; and on the 25th
his army stood as follows:

The Ist Corps, with one brigade of the IIIrd Corps and a cavalry
division, on the left bank of the Iser, from Turnau, through
Müchengrätz to Jung Buntzlau, where the retreating Saxons formed on the

The Xth Corps, with one cavalry division, at Jaromir.

The IVth Corps at Opocno.

The VIth Corps at Solnitz.

The IIIrd Corps on the left of the VIth, at Tynist.

The VIIIth Corps at Wamberg.

The IId Corps at Geyersberg.

Four cavalry divisions were at Gabel, Leitomischel, Abtsdorf and
Policzka, respectively.

The force on the Iser, under Count Clam-Gallas, was thus opposed to
the entire army of Frederick Charles; while Von Benedek confronted
the Crown Prince with six corps. The Austrian line extended beyond
Gitschin, the point at which the Prussian armies were to concentrate.


It was now certain that Bohemia was to be the theater of war. This
province of the Austrian Empire may be described as a huge basin,
whose rim is composed of mountains. It is separated from Silesia by
the Riesengebirge (Giant Mountains), from Saxony by the Erzgebirge
(Iron Mountains), from Moravia by the Moravian Hills, and from Bavaria
by the Fichtelgebirge and the Böhmerwald; the Moravian Hills and the
Böhmerwald separating it from the valley of the Danube. This great
basin is drained by the Elbe river, which, rising in the Riesengebirge,
makes a huge loop, flowing first south, then west, and finally north,
and receives the waters of the Iser, Adler, Moldau and Eger rivers
before it issues forth from the Bohemian frontier into Saxony. This
theater is well suited to defensive operations, as the mountain
frontiers are penetrated by few passes, and the forests and rivers
constitute additional obstacles. On the Silesian frontier the only
issues by which an invader can enter Bohemia are the passes of
Trautenau, Eypel, Kosteletz, Nachod and Neustadt. These passes could
all be easily defended, while on the Saxon frontier the passes of
Reichenberg, Gabel and Königstein-Tetschen could be used by retarding
forces, which could afterwards find a strong defensive line on the Iser.

[Illustration: No. 2. 1st. ARMY ON 22ND., 23RD. & 24TH. JUNE.]

Two railway lines lay in the theater of war, and were of great
importance to the contending armies. One line ran from Vienna, _via_
Kosel, Breslau and Görlitz, to Dresden. The other connected the
Austrian capital with Prague, _via_ Olmütz (or Brünn) and Bömisch
Trübau. The two lines were joined by a railway from Dresden to Prague,
and by one which, running from Löbau to Turnau, branched from the
latter point to Prague and Pardubitz. These railways connected with
others leading to all the important cities of Prussia. The two Prussian
armies could cover their railway communications while advancing; but
the Prague-Olmütz line, which was of vital importance to the Austrian
army, ran parallel to, and dangerously near, the Silesian frontier, and
was not covered by the Austrian front during the operations in Bohemia.

The Prussian advance began on the 20th of June. The Army of the
Elbe marched from the vicinity of Dresden, _via_ Stolpen, Neustadt,
Schluckenau and Rumburg, to Gabel. As the greater part of this march
had to be made by one road, it required six days, though the distance
was only 65 miles. The First Army had concentrated at Zittau, Herrnhut,
Hirschfelde, Seidenberg and Marklissa. From these points it began its
march on the 22d of June, each division marching by a separate road;
and on the 25th it was closely concentrated around Reichenberg. The
entire Prussian front was now reduced to about 100 miles, and Herwarth
Von Bittenfeld was only twelve miles from Frederick Charles.

It would have been dangerous in the extreme for the Crown Prince to
begin his march while Von Benedek held six corps in hand to hurl
upon him. The passage of the Second Army through the defiles depended
on surprise; and in the face of a superior and concentrated army, it
would have been a desperate undertaking. It was necessary, therefore,
to distract the plans of the enemy by false maneuvers, and to wait for
Frederick Charles to menace the Austrian left, on the Iser, before
beginning the forward movement with the Second Army. With these objects
in view, the VIth Corps was ordered to push forward towards Olmütz,
and Frederick Charles received the following instructions from Von
Moltke: “Since the difficult task of debouching from the mountains
falls upon the Second, weaker, Army, so, as soon as the junction
with Herwarth’s corps is effected, the First Army must, by its rapid
advance, shorten the crisis.” The VIth Corps moved from Neisse into
the Austrian dominions as far as Freiwaldau, where its advanced-guard
had a successful skirmish with a party of Austrian cavalry. This corps
was supposed by the Austrians to be the advanced-guard of the Crown
Prince’s army marching upon Olmütz; and the demonstration had the
effect of holding a large force of Austrians between Hohenmauth and
Bömisch Trübau, where it could not be used to oppose the real advance
of the Second Army.

The Crown Prince’s army was to move as follows:

The Ist Corps[3] _via_ Liebau and Trautenau, to Arnau;

The Guards, _via_ Neurode, Braunau, Eypel, to Königinhof;

The Vth Corps, _via_ Glatz, Reinerz, Nachod, to Gradlitz;

The cavalry, from Waldenburg, _via_ Trautenau, to Königinhof.

[Illustration: No. 1. PROPOSED ADVANCE OF 2ND. ARMY FROM 25TH. TO 28TH.

  25TH. JUNE.]

The VIth Corps, having made the diversion to Freiwaldau, was withdrawn
to Glatz and Patschkau, from which points it was to follow the Vth.
A corps of observation, consisting of two regiments of infantry, one
of cavalry, and a light battery, was detached at Ratibor to make
demonstrations against Austrian Silesia. In case this detachment
should encounter a large force of the enemy, it was to fall back upon
the fortress of Kosel. During the campaign an unimportant war of
detachments was carried on in this region, generally to the advantage
of the Prussians.


On the 26th of June the Army of the Elbe marched upon Niemes and
Oschitz. The advanced-guard encountered an Austrian outpost near
Hühnerwasser, and drove it back after a sharp skirmish. The main body
of the Army of the Elbe bivouacked at Hühnerwasser, with outposts
towards Weisswasser, Münchengrätz and Gablonz. In the evening there was
another brisk outpost fight in the direction of Münchengrätz, in which
the Austrians were again worsted.

In the First Army the advance on this day was begun by General Von
Horn, whose division had held the outposts the night before. At
Liebenau Von Horn struck the Austrians, whose force consisted of a
small body of infantry, four regiments of cavalry and two batteries of
horse artillery. Driven out of the village, and from the field where
they next made a stand, the Austrians retreated across the Iser, _via_
Turnau, to Podol. The First Army now occupied a position extending
through Reichenberg, Gablonz, Liebenau and Turnau; Von Horn’s division
extending down the Iser from Turnau, with outposts near Podol. Free
communication--in fact a junction--was now established with the Army of
the Elbe, one division of which occupied Bömisch Aicha.

An attempt made by a company of Prussian riflemen to seize the bridges
at Podol, about dusk in the evening, brought on a sharp fight. The
forces on each side were reinforced until parts of two Prussian and two
Austrian brigades were engaged. A stubborn infantry battle was carried
on by moonlight until 1 o’clock in the morning, when the Austrians
retreated towards Münchengrätz. By this victory the Prussians secured
the passage of the Iser at Podol; the shortest line to Gitschin was
opened to them; the communications of Count Clam-Gallas with the main
army were threatened; and a plan which he had formed to _riposte_ upon
the Prussians at Turnau was thwarted.

We will now turn to the Second Army. On this day the Ist Corps
concentrated at Liebau and Schomberg, ready to cross the frontier.
The Vth Corps was at Reinerz, about twenty miles from the Ist.
The Guard Corps, which had just crossed the frontier, in front of
Neurode, midway between the two corps, was in a position to support
either. The VIth Corps was at Landeck and Glatz, part of its cavalry
being sent forward to cover the left of the Vth Corps and maintain
communication between the two. After passing the mountains, the entire
army, pivoted on Nachod and Skalitz, was to wheel to the left, seize
the Josephstadt-Turnau railway, and form a junction along that line
with the armies of Frederick Charles. On the evening of the 26th, the
advanced-guard of the Vth Corps occupied Nachod. The distance between
the Crown Prince and Frederick Charles had now been reduced to about
fifty miles, while the distance between the extreme corps of the
Austrian army was about the same. Von Benedek’s strategical advantages
were already beginning to disappear. The Prussian demonstrations
towards Olmütz had caused the Austrian IId Corps to be retained
dangerously far to the right; Count Clam-Gallas was struggling against
superior numbers on the Iser, and Von Benedek had only four corps with
which he could immediately oppose the four corps of the Crown Prince.

  26TH. JUNE.]

The Austrian commander ordered the following movements for the next

The Xth Corps, from Josephstadt and Schurz, upon Trautenau;

The VIth Corps, from Opocno to Skalitz;

The IVth Corps, from Lanzow to Jaromir;

The VIIIth Corps, from Tynist to beyond Jaromir, to support the VIth;

The IIId Corps, from Königgrätz to Miletin;

The IId Corps, from Senftenberg to Solnitz;

The Reserve Cavalry, from Hohenmauth and Wildenschwerdt to Hohenbrück;

The Light Cavalry to accompany the IId Corps.


On the 27th of June the Crown Prince pushed forward the Ist Corps
against Trautenau, and the main body of the Vth Corps upon Nachod. One
division of the Guard supported each corps.

The Ist Corps, under Von Bonin, marched in two columns from Liebau and
Schomberg, and was to concentrate at Parschnitz, about two miles east
of Trautenau, where it was to rest two hours before moving upon the
latter place.

Contrary to expectation, the left column arrived first at Parschnitz,
the right (with the advanced-guard) being delayed by bad roads.
Trautenau was as yet unoccupied by the Austrians; but instead of
seizing the town and the heights which overlooked it, on the farther
bank of the Aupa river, Von Clausewitz (commanding the left column)
obeyed the strict letter of his orders, and waited at Parschnitz two
hours, from 8 to 10 A. M., until the advanced guard of the right column

While Von Clausewitz was thus idly waiting, Mondl’s brigade of the
Xth Austrian Corps arrived, and took up a strong position in the town
and on the heights which commanded it. A stubborn fight took place
before the Austrians could be dislodged; and Mondl fell back in good
order upon the main body of the Xth Corps, which was hurrying towards
Trautenau. Believing himself in complete possession of the field, Von
Bonin, at 1 o’clock, declined the assistance of the 1st Division of
Guards, which had hurried up to Parschnitz, and the division, after a
halt of two hours, marched off to the left, towards Eypel. About half
past 3 o’clock the entire Xth Corps, under Von Gablentz, arrived on
the field, and made a vigorous attack upon the Prussians. Von Bonin’s
left wing was turned; and, after fighting six hours, the Prussians were
driven from the field, and retreated to the positions from which they
had begun their march in the morning.

The Prussian defeat was due to two causes:

1. The delay of Von Clausewitz at Parschnitz, when common sense should
have prompted him to exceed his orders, and seize the unoccupied town
and heights of Trautenau. For two hours these positions were completely
undefended by the Austrians, and could have been occupied by Von
Clausewitz without firing a shot.[4]

2. The fatuity of Von Bonin in declining the assistance of the Guards.
Von Bonin knew that Mondl had not been routed, that he had fallen
back “slowly and fighting,” and he did not know what other force
might be in his immediate front. He had no reason to expect that he
would be allowed to pass through the defile without the most stubborn
opposition. He knew that he had been opposed by a single brigade,
and the plucky resistance of that small force should have made him
suspicious that it had stronger forces at its back. His orders were
to push on to Arnau, some twelve miles from Trautenau, and to carry
out these orders it was necessary to sweep aside the opposition in
his front. His declension of assistance when the firing had scarcely
ceased, and when the aid of the Guards would have enabled him to
clinch his success, was inexcusable. Like Beauregard at Shiloh, Von
Bonin seems to have labored under the delusion that a victory could
be sufficiently complete while the enemy’s army still remained in his

The Austrians had certainly gained a brilliant victory. With a force
of 33,600 men, they had defeated 35,000 Prussians, armed, too, with
breech-loaders, while the victors had only muzzle-loading rifles.
The loss of the Prussians was 56 officers and 1,282 men, while the
Austrians lost 196 officers and more than 5,000 men. This disparity of
loss illustrates the difference in the power of the old and the new
rifles; it also speaks volumes for the pluck of the Austrian soldiers.

But the Austrian victory was doomed to be as fruitless as it was
costly; for Prussian skill and valor on other fields obliterated all
that was gained by Von Gablentz in the bloody combat of Trautenau.

The march of the Vth Corps, under Von Steinmetz, lay through the defile
of Nachod, five miles in length, in which the entire corps was obliged
to march in a single column. The advanced-guard, which had seized
Nachod the night before, pushed forward rapidly, beyond the outlet
of the defile, to the junction of the roads leading to Skalitz and
Neustadt, where it received orders to halt, and thus cover the issue of
the main body through the defile. While the advanced-guard was making
preparations for bivouacking, its commander, General Von Loewenfeldt,
received news of the approach of the Austrian VIth Corps, which, as we
have seen, had been ordered upon Nachod. Hastily forming for action,
the Prussian advanced guard received the attack of a brigade, which was
reinforced until nearly the whole Austrian corps was engaged. It was a
desperate struggle of six and one-half battalions, five squadrons and
twelve guns, against twenty-one battalions, eighty guns and a greatly
superior force of cavalry. For three hours the advanced-guard sustained
the unequal conflict, with no other reinforcement than Wnuck’s cavalry
brigade. The Prussian force, in one line 3,000 paces long, without
reserves, was sorely pressed, until the main body began to issue from
the defile and deploy upon the field. The entire Austrian corps was now
engaged. Finally, after a successful charge of Wnuck’s cavalry brigade
upon the Austrian cuirassiers, and the repulse of a heavy infantry
attack, Von Steinmetz assumed the offensive, and the Austrians,
defeated with great loss, retreated to Skalitz. In the latter part of
this action the Prussians were under the immediate command of the Crown
Prince. The Prussian loss was 1,122, killed and wounded; the Austrians
lost 7,510, of which number about 2,500 were prisoners.

  27TH. JUNE.]

The 1st Division of the Guards halted this night at Eypel; the 2d
Division at Kosteletz.

This day, which had seen two bloody actions fought by the Second Army,
was one of inaction on the part of the armies of Frederick Charles. The
day was consumed in constructing bridges across the Iser, at Turnau and
Podol, and in concentrating the main body of the army on the plateau
of Sichrow, preparatory to an attack upon the Austrian position at


The First Army and the Army of the Elbe made a combined attack upon
Count Clam-Gallas at Münchengrätz, the Austrians being assailed in
front and on both flanks. The Austrian commander had begun his retreat
before the Prussian attack commenced; and after a brief resistance,
he fell back upon Gitschin, with a loss of about 2,000 men, killed,
wounded and prisoners. The Prussian loss was only 341. The armies of
Frederick Charles were now completely united. One division was pushed
forward to Rowensko, and the remaining eight, numbering, with the
cavalry, upwards of 100,000 men, were concentrated upon an area of
about twenty square miles. Some distress began to be felt because of
the short supply of food and the difficulty of getting water; for only
part of the provision trains had come up, and the Austrian inhabitants,
when they abandoned their homes, had filled up the wells. Two roads led
east from the Prussian position; one _via_ Podkost, and the other _via_
Fürstenbrück, but both united at Sobotka. The Austrian rear guard was
driven from Podkost during the night, and both roads were open for the
Prussian advance on the following morning.

Frederick Charles has been severely (and it would seem justly)
criticised for his inaction on the 27th of June. His explicit
instructions from Von Moltke should have been enough to cause him to
hasten forward, and so threaten the Austrian left as to relieve the
pressure on the Crown Prince. And there was another reason for prompt
action. As already mentioned, the victory of Podol had opened to
Frederick Charles the shortest line to Gitschin, from which place he
was now distant only fifteen miles, while Clam-Gallas, at Münchengrätz,
was twenty miles away from the same point. The town of Gitschin, like
Ivrea in 1800, or Sombref and Quatre-Bras in 1815, had accidentally
become a strategic point of the first importance by reason of the
relative positions of the opposing armies and the direction of the
roads necessary for the concentration of each. All the roads leading
from the Iser, from Turnau to Jung Bunzlau, center at Gitschin,
whence other roads branch out to Neu Bidsow, Königgrätz, Josephstadt,
Königinhof, and other important points. The possession of Gitschin by
either army would seriously delay, and perhaps eventually prevent, the
concentration of the other. A prompt movement to Gitschin by Frederick
Charles would have cut off Clam-Gallas, who could then have effected
a junction with Von Benedek only by a circuitous march of such length
as to make it probable that his two corps would have been eliminated
altogether from the problem solved on the field of Königgrätz. As the
Austro-Saxons at Münchengrätz, covering the roads to Prague, could
have protected their communications with that city, while menacing the
communications of the Prussians with their base, it was, doubtless,
necessary to dislodge them from that position; but Frederick Charles
might have promptly pushed to Gitschin a force sufficient to seize and
hold the place, and still have kept in hand enough troops to defeat
Clam-Gallas so heavily as to drive him back in complete rout; for
Frederick Charles’ force numbered, at this time, nearly 140,000 men,
while Clam-Gallas had not more than 60,000.

This movement would not have really divided Frederick Charles’ army,
for the force at Gitschin and the one attacking at Münchengrätz would
have been practically within supporting distance, and in direct and
unimpeded communication with each other. Moreover, the nearest troops
available to oppose such a force thrust forward to Gitschin would have
been the single Austrian Corps (the IIId) which was at Miletin, quite
as far from Gitschin as the main body of Frederick Charles’ army would
have been. Frederick Charles’ entire army could have been at Gitschin
quite as soon as Von Benedek could have sent thither any force large
enough to offer respectable opposition; and the necessity of hurrying
troops to that point would have caused the Austrian commander to
relax materially the pressure upon the Crown Prince; a pressure which
Frederick Charles had every reason to believe greater than it really
was. Hozier states that the Prussian commander had formed a plan to
capture the entire army of Clam-Gallas; but Adams truly remarks that
the destruction of the Austro-Saxons at Münchengrätz would not have
compensated for a severe defeat of the Crown Prince. Moreover, as we
have seen, Clam-Gallas was not captured but fell back upon Gitschin,
whence he was able to form a junction with the main army. Had Frederick
Charles pushed a force to Gitschin, and with the rest of his army dealt
Clam-Gallas such a blow as to send him reeling back towards Prague, the
Prussian general would have reaped the double advantage of interposing
between the divided forces of the enemy, and facilitating his own
junction with the Crown Prince. Adams correctly says of Frederick
Charles: “The fault attributable to the Prince is, that with a
superiority of force at his command, which gave him unbounded advantage
over his enemy, he refused to incur risks which that fact reduced to a
minimum, in the general interests of the campaign.”[6]

To return to the Second Army:

The Crown Prince received information, at 1 o’clock in the morning, of
the defeat of the Ist Corps at Trautenau.

The 1st Division of the Guards was at once ordered to move against
Von Gablentz from Eypel, and the 2d Division (which had been intended
to support the Vth Corps) was ordered from Kosteletz to support the
1st Division. The movement was begun at 4 A. M. Anticipating the
attack, Von Gablentz took up a position facing east, with his left in
Trautenau and his right at Prausnitz, about five miles south of the
former village. A brigade of the Austrian IVth Corps, ordered to his
assistance from Jaromir, mistook the route, and did not arrive in time
to participate in the action.

The Prussian attack was begun by the 1st Division of the Guards at
9:30 A. M. The Austrian center and right were forced back upon Soor
and Altenbach. The brigade on the Austrian left was contained by two
Prussian battalions until the arrival of the 2d Division, at 12:30 P.
M., when it was driven back upon Trautenau, and the greater part of it
captured. The main body of the Austrians was driven from the field,
and retreated upon Neustadt and Neuschloss. The Prussian loss was
713, killed and wounded; the Austrian loss 3,674, killed, wounded and

  28TH. JUNE.]

While the Guards were thus engaged in repairing the defeat of the
Ist Corps, the Vth Corps was battling with the Austrians at Skalitz.
Baron Ramming, commanding the Austrian VIth Corps, having called for
reinforcements, Von Benedek ordered the VIIIth Corps to Dolan, about
four miles wrest of Skalitz, and gave the command of both corps to the
Archduke Leopold. Early on the morning of the 28th the VIIIth Corps
relieved the VIth in its position on the east bank of the Aupa, in
front of Skalitz, and the latter took up a position as a reserve in
rear of the right wing. The IVth Corps was stationed at Dolan. On the
Prussian side, Von Steinmetz had been reinforced by a brigade of the
VIth Corps. The Austrians had begun a retrograde movement before the
Prussian attack commenced; and the corps of Baron Ramming was already
too far to the rear to give efficient support to the VIIIth Corps.
After a severe action, the Austrians were driven from their position,
and retreated upon Lanzow and Salney; the IVth Corps, as a rear guard,
holding Dolan. The Prussian loss in the battle of Skalitz was 1,365
killed, wounded and missing; the Austrians lost nearly 6,000 men, of
whom 2,500 were prisoners.

The battles of Soor and Skalitz opened the passes of Trautenau and
Nachod to the unimpeded advance of the Ist and VIth Corps. During these
battles the Crown Prince was stationed at Kosteletz, from which point
he might easily reach either battle field, if his presence should
become necessary. In the night he went to Trautenau.

The distance between the advanced guard of Frederick Charles, at Ztowa,
and that of the Crown Prince, at Burkersdorf (near Soor), was only
twenty-seven miles.


Intelligence received at the Prussian headquarters of the battles in
which the armies had been engaged, rendered it certain that of the
seven Austrian army corps, the IVth, VIth, VIIIth and Xth were opposed
to the Crown Prince, and that only the Ist Corps and the Saxons were
arrayed against Frederick Charles. The position of the IIId Corps was
unknown; but it was clear that it was the only one that could come to
the assistance of Count Clam-Gallas, as the IId Corps was known to be
far to the rear. The necessity of relieving the Crown Prince from the
overwhelming numbers of Von Benedek,[7] and the prospect of being able
to deliver a crushing blow upon the inferior force in his front, alike
rendered it of the utmost importance that Frederick Charles should move
promptly upon Gitschin. Apparently impatient at the Prince’s delay,
Von Moltke reiterated the instructions already given him, saying,
in a telegram from Berlin on June 29th: “His Majesty expects that a
speedy advance of the First Army will disengage the Second Army, which,
notwithstanding a series of successful actions, is still momentarily in
a precarious situation.”

Frederick Charles, who had already decided to advance without further
delay, at once moved as follows:

The Left, from Turnau, _via_ Rowensko;

The Center, from Podol, _via_ Sabotka;

The Right, from Münchengrätz, _via_ Ober Bautzen and Sabotka;

The Army of the Elbe, from Münchengrätz, _via_ Unter Bautzen and Libau.

The advance of the army was rendered difficult by the small number
of roads available. The leading divisions were started as early as
possible, to make a long march, in order that the other divisions might
march in the evening on the same roads. It was, even then, necessary
for the Army of the Elbe to make a long detour.

Count Clam-Gallas, having been promised the assistance of the IIId
Corps, resolved to make a stand near Gitschin. His position was on a
range of hills west and north of that village, his right resting upon
the village of Eisenstadt, his left on the Anna Berg, near Lochow. In
front of the center were the rocky heights of Prywicin, which, being
almost impassable for ordinary pedestrians, would isolate the attacks
of the enemy, while, terminating in front of the Austrian position,
they could not interfere with the free movements of the troops on the
defensive. In front of the hills were ravines, gullies and broken
ground. The position was thus very strong for an army whose _rôle_ was
a purely defensive one.

Von Tümpling’s division, (5th) leaving Rowensko at 1:30 P. M., came in
contact with the enemy shortly after 3 o’clock. Von Werder’s division
(3d) left Zehrow at noon; but, having a greater distance to march, did
not strike the enemy until 5:30. Von Tümpling immediately attacked
the Austrian right, with a view to cutting off Count Clam-Gallas from
the main army of Von Benedek. The action continued, with varying
fortune, until 7:30, when, Von Tümpling having carried the village of
Dielitz, in the center of the Austrian right wing, Von Werder having
gained ground on the left, and Von Benedek having sent word that the
assistance of the IIId Corps could not be given, Count Clam-Gallas
ordered a retreat. The Austrians retired in good order upon Gitschin;
the retreat of the right wing being covered by an attack of a brigade
upon the Prussians at Dielitz; that of the left by an attack of a
regiment of infantry and a battalion of rifles. Both attacks were
repulsed with heavy loss. Following the enemy, the Prussians, after
a sharp fight with the Austrian rear guard in the streets, occupied
Gitschin after midnight. The Prussian loss was 2,612 killed, wounded
and missing; the Austrians lost about 7,000 men, of whom 4,000 were
prisoners. Count Clam-Gallas reported to Von Benedek that he had been
defeated, that he was no longer able to oppose Frederick Charles, and
that he was retreating upon Königgrätz.

Von Benedek now determined to throw his main force on Frederick
Charles, leaving a containing force to oppose the Crown Prince. But
with this object in view, his dispositions were faulty. Strangely
ignoring the results of the battles of Nachod, Soor and Skalitz, he
seems to have thought that one corps would suffice to hold the Crown
Prince in check; and on the morning of the 29th he issued orders for
the advance of the IIId Corps to Gitschin and the Reserve Cavalry to
Horzitz. The IId, VIth, VIIIth and Xth were to follow on the next day
in the direction of Lomnitz and Turnau. But during the day events
occurred which necessitated a complete change of plan.

In the Second Army the Ist Corps marched _via_ Trautenau to Pilnikau,
and the cavalry division following it halted at Kaile, where the Crown
Prince established his headquarters.

The Guards advanced upon Königinhof, from which place they drove out a
brigade of the Austrian IVth Corps, capturing about 400 prisoners.

The Vth Corps (with one brigade of the VIth) marching upon Gradlitz,
encountered the other brigades of the Austrian IVth Corps at
Schweinschädel, and after an action of three hours, drove them from the
field with a loss of nearly 5,000 men, killed, wounded and prisoners.
The Austrians retreated to Salney. The Crown Prince had now reached the

During the day Von Benedek, becoming alarmed at the progress of the
Second Army, countermanded the order for the IIId Corps to move upon
Gitschin, and directed it to remain at Miletin. The Ist Corps and the
Saxons were ordered to join the main army _via_ Horzitz and Miletin;
but the orders, as we have seen, came too late to save them from their
defeat at Gitschin. The rest of the army was concentrated before night
upon the plateau of Dubenetz, against the army of the Crown Prince, as

  29TH. JUNE]

The IVth Corps at Salney, with the 1st Reserve Cavalry Division, and
the 2d Light Cavalry Division on its right and rear;

The IId Corps at Kukus, on left of IVth;

The VIIIth Corps near Kasow (one brigade in line on left of IId Corps,
the other brigades as reserve);

The VIth Corps on the left of the VIIIth;

The 3d Reserve Cavalry Division on the left of the VIth Corps;

The 2d Reserve Cavalry Division on the extreme left wing;

The Xth Corps, in reserve, between Stern and Liebthal.

Five army corps and four cavalry divisions were thus concentrated on
a line five and one-half miles long. The nature of the ground was
unfavorable to the interior communications of the line, but it was,
in the main, a strong position, with the Elbe on its front, and the
fortress of Josephstadt protecting its right flank.

The junction of the Prussian armies now seemed assured, and the
strategical situation was decidedly against Von Benedek. His great
fault was his failure to decide promptly in regard to the army which
he should contain while throwing his weight upon the other. Placing
an exaggerated value upon his interior position, he does not seem to
have considered that every hour of Prussian advance diminished his
advantages; and he was, apparently, unable to make his choice of the
two plans of operations which presented themselves. His best move,
if made in time, would have been against Frederick Charles. True,
his communications could have been quickly cut, in this case, by a
successful advance of the Second Army across the Elbe; while in moving
against the Crown Prince, his communications could not so readily have
been seized by Frederick Charles. But, on the other hand, topographical
features made it an easier matter to contain the Second Army than the
First Army and the Army of the Elbe. If the Austrian field marshal had
learned the lesson taught at Atlanta, Franklin and Petersburg, he would
have made use of hasty entrenchments. The Xth Corps and VIth Corps,
strongly entrenched, could certainly have held the passes against
the assaults of the Crown Prince. The ground was admirably adapted
to defense, and the entrenchments would have more than neutralized
the superiority of the needle gun over the Lorenz rifle. To have
invested and reduced the entrenched camps, if possible at all, would
have required much more time than Von Benedek would have needed for
disposing of Frederick Charles. To have advanced by the road leading to
Olmütz or Bömisch Trübau, the Crown Prince would have been compelled to
mask the passes with at least as many troops as garrisoned the camps
at their outlets, or his own communications would have been at the
mercy of the Austrians. This would have left him only two corps; and an
invasion of Moravia with this small force, every step of the advance
carrying him farther away from Frederick Charles, would have been an
act of suicidal madness, which he would not have seriously contemplated
for a moment. When Osman Pasha, eleven years later, paralyzed the
advance of 110,000 Russians, by placing 40,000 Turks in a hastily
entrenched position on their right, at Plevna, he showed plainly
how Von Benedek might have baulked the Second Army with entrenched
positions at the Silesian passes.

Leaving, then, two corps to take care of the Crown Prince, the Austrian
commander would have had (including the Saxons) six corps, and nearly
all of the reserve cavalry and artillery, to use against Frederick
Charles. Count Clam-Gallas, instead of undertaking the task of holding
the line of the Iser, should have destroyed the bridges; and opposing
the Prussians with a strong rear-guard at the different crossings,
obstructing the roads, offering just enough resistance to compel his
adversary to deploy and thus lose time, but avoiding anything like a
serious action, he should have fallen back _via_ Gitschin to form a
junction with Von Benedek. He could thus have gained sufficient time
for his chief to arrive at Gitschin as soon as Frederick Charles; and
the army of the latter, numbering not more than 130,000 men,[8] would
have been opposed by an army of fully 200,000 Austrians. What the
result would have been we can best judge from the course of the battle
of Königgrätz before the Crown Prince arrived upon the field.

Hozier, Adams, Derrécagaix and (above all) the Prussian Official
History of the Campaign of 1866, claim that the best move of Von
Benedek would have been against the Crown Prince. If we consider the
successful passage of the defiles by the Second Army as a thing to be
taken for granted in Von Benedek’s plan of campaign, there can be no
doubt that the Austrian commander should have turned his attention to
the Crown Prince, and that he should have attacked him with six corps,
as soon as the Prussians debouched from the defiles of Trautenau and
Nachod. The line of action here suggested as one that would probably
have resulted in Austrian success, is based entirely on the condition
that the Second Army should be contained at the defiles, by a force
strongly entrenched after the American manner of 1864-5; a condition
not considered by the eminent authorities mentioned above. After the
Crown Prince had safely passed the defiles, Von Benedek had either
to attack him or fall back. The time for a successful move against
Frederick Charles had passed.

Von Benedek had carefully planned an invasion of Prussia. Had he been
able to carry the war into that country, his operations might, perhaps,
have been admirable; but when the superior preparation of the Prussians
enabled them to take the initiative, he seems to have been incapable of
throwing aside his old plans and promptly adopting new ones suited to
the altered condition of affairs. Von Benedek was a good tactician and
a stubborn fighter; but when he told the Emperor “Your Majesty, I am no
strategist,” and wished to decline the command of the army, he showed a
power of correct self-analysis equal to that displayed by Burnside when
he expressed an opinion of his own unfitness for the command of the
Army of the Potomac. The brave old soldier did not seem to appreciate
the strategical situation, and was apparently losing his head.[9] With
all the advantages of interior lines, he had everywhere opposed the
Prussians with inferior numbers; he had allowed the Crown Prince to
pass through the defiles of the mountains before he opposed him at
all; six of his eight corps had suffered defeat; he had lost more than
30,000 men; and now he was in a purely defensive position, and one
which left open the road from Arnau to Gitschin for the junction of the
Prussian armies.

It would have been better than this had the Austrians everywhere
fallen back without firing a shot, even at the expense of opposing no
obstacles to the Prussian concentration; for they could then, at least,
have concentrated their own army for a decisive battle without the
demoralization attendant upon repeated defeats.


A detachment of cavalry, sent by Frederick Charles towards Arnau, met
the advanced-guard of the 1st Corps at that place. Communication was
thus opened between the two armies.

It was evident that the advance of Frederick Charles would, by
threatening the left and rear of the Austrians, cause them to abandon
their position on the Elbe, and thus loosening Von Benedek’s hold on
the passages of the river, permit the Crown Prince to cross without

The following orders were therefore sent by Von Moltke:

“The Second Army will hold its ground on the Upper Elbe; its right wing
will be prepared to effect a junction with the left wing of the First
Army, by way of Königinhof, as the latter advances. The First Army will
press on towards Königgrätz without delay.

“Any forces of the enemy that may be on the right flank of this advance
will be attacked by General Von Herwarth, and separated from the
enemy’s main force.”

On this day the armies of Frederick Charles marched as follows:

The IIId Corps, to Aulibitz and Chotec;

The IVth Corps, to Konetzchlum and Milicowes;

The IId Corps, to Gitschin and Podhrad;

The Cavalry Corps, to Dworetz and Robaus;

The Army of the Elbe, to the vicinity of Libau;

The Landwehr Guard Division, which had been pushed forward from Saxony,
arrived at Jung Buntzlau.[10]

The Second Army remained in the position of the preceding day.

Von Benedek’s army remained in its position on the plateau of Dubenetz.


At 1 o’clock in the morning Von Benedek began his retreat towards

The IIId Corps moved to Sadowa;

The Xth Corps, to Lipa;

The 3d Reserve Cavalry Division, to Dohalica;

The VIth Corps, to Wsestar;

The 2d Reserve Cavalry Division, to a position between Wsestar and

The VIIIth Corps, to Nedelist, on left of the village;

The IVth Corps, to Nedelist, on right of the village;

The IId Corps, to Trotina;

The 2d Light Cavalry Division, to the right of the IId Corps;

The 1st Reserve Cavalry Division, behind Trotina;

The 1st Corps took up a position in front of Königgrätz;

The 1st Light Cavalry Division, on the left of the 1st Corps;

The Saxons were stationed at Neu Prim.

[Illustration: POSITION OF BOTH ARMIES On the evening of the 2nd. July,

The Prussian armies, though at liberty to concentrate, remained
separated for tactical considerations. The armies were to make their
junction, if possible, upon the field of battle, in a combined front
and flank attack upon the enemy. In the meantime, as they were only a
short day’s march from each other, the danger to be apprehended from
separation was reduced to a minimum.

Frederick Charles’ armies moved as follows:

The IIId Corps, to Miletin and Dobes;

The IVth Corps, to Horzitz and Gutwasser;

The IId Corps, to Aujezd and Wostromer;

The 1st Cavalry Division, to Baschnitz;

The 2d Cavalry Division, to Liskowitz;

The Army of the Elbe, to a position between Libau and Hochwesely.

In the Second Army, the Ist Corps was thrown across the Elbe to
Prausnitz, and the VIth Corps arrived at Gradlitz.


The Army of the Elbe moved forward to Chotetitz, Lhota and Hochweseley,
with an advanced-guard at Smidar.

The Guard Landwehr Division advanced to Kopidlno, a few miles west of

The Austrians remained in the positions of the preceding day, but sent
their train to the left bank of the Elbe.

Incredible as it seems, the Prussians were ignorant of the withdrawal
of the Austrians from the plateau of Dubenetz, and did not, in
fact, even know that Von Benedek had occupied that position. The
Austrians were supposed to be behind the Elbe, between Josephstadt
and Königgrätz. On the other hand, Von Benedek seems to have been
completely in the dark in regard to the movements of the Prussians. The
Prussian Staff History acknowledges that “the outposts of both armies
faced each other on this day within a distance of four and one-half
miles, without either army suspecting the near and concentrated
presence of the other one.” Each commander ignorant of the presence,
almost within cannon shot, of an enormous hostile army! Such a blunder
during our Civil War would, probably, have furnished European military
critics with a text for a sermon on the mob-like character of American

Supposing the Austrians to be between Josephstadt and Königgrätz, two
plans were open to Von Moltke’s choice. First: To attack the Austrian
position in front with the First Army and the Army of the Elbe, and on
its right with the Second Army. This would have necessitated forcing
the passage of a river in the face of a formidable enemy; but this
passage would have been facilitated by the flank attack of the Crown
Prince, whose entire army (except the Ist Corps) was across the river.
It would have been a repetition of Magenta on a gigantic scale, with
the Crown Prince playing the part of McMahon, and Frederick Charles
enacting the _rôle_ of the French Emperor. Second: To maneuver the
enemy out of his position by moving upon Pardubitz; the occupation
of which place would be a serious menace to his communications. The
latter movement would necessitate the transfer of the Second Army to
the right bank of the Elbe, and then the execution of a flank march in
dangerous proximity to the enemy; but its successful execution might
have produced decisive results. This movement by the right would have
been strikingly similar to Von Moltke’s movement by the left, across
the Moselle, four years later. The resulting battle might have been
an antedated Gravelotte, and Von Benedek might have found a Metz in
Königgrätz or Josephstadt. At the very least, the Austrians would,
probably, have been maneuvered out of their position behind the Elbe.

Before determining upon a plan of operations, it was decided to
reconnoiter the Elbe and the Aupa. The Army of the Elbe was directed
to watch the country towards Prague, and to seize the passages of the
river at Pardubitz. The First Army was ordered to take up the line Neu
Bidsow-Horzitz and to send a detachment from its left wing to Sadowa,
to reconnoiter the line of the Elbe between Königgrätz and Josephstadt.
The Ist Corps was to observe the latter fortress, and to cover the
flank march of the Second Army, if the movement in question should be
decided upon. The remaining corps of the Second Army were, for the
present, to remain in their positions, merely reconnoitering towards
the Aupa and the Metau.

These orders were destined to be speedily countermanded.

Colonel Von Zychlinsky, who commanded an outpost at the castle of
Cerakwitz, reported an Austrian encampment near Lipa, and scouting
parties, which were then sent out, returned, after a vigorous pursuit
by the Austrian cavalry, and reported the presence of the Austrian army
in force, behind the Bistritz, extending from Problus to the village
of Benatek. These reports, received after 6 o’clock P. M., entirely
changed the aspect of matters.

Under the influence of his war experience, Frederick Charles
was rapidly developing the qualities of a great commander; his
self-confidence was increasing; and his actions now displayed the vigor
and military perspicacity of Mars-la-Tour, rather than the hesitation
of Münchengrätz.[11] He believed that Von Benedek, with at least four
corps, was about to attack him; but he unhesitatingly decided to
preserve the advantages of the initiative, by himself attacking the
Austrians in front, in the early morning, while the Army of the Elbe
should attack their left. The co-operation of the Crown Prince was
counted upon to turn the Austrian right, and thus secure victory.

With these objects in view, the following movements were promptly

The 8th Division to be in position at Milowitz at 2 A. M.;

The 7th Division to take post at Cerakwitz by 2 A. M.;

The 5th and 6th Divisions to start at 1:30 A. M., and take post as
reserves south of Horzitz, the 5th west, and the 6th east, of the
Königgrätz road;

The 3d Division to Psanek, and the 4th to Bristan; both to be in
position by 2 A. M.;

The Cavalry Corps to be saddled by daybreak, and await orders;

The reserve Artillery to Horzitz;

General Herwarth Von Bittenfeld, with all available troops of the Army
of the Elbe, to Nechanitz, as soon as possible.

Lieutenant Von Normand was sent to the Crown Prince with a request that
he take post with one or two corps in front of Josephstadt, and march
with another to Gross Burglitz.

The chief-of-staff of the First Army, General Von Voigts-Rhetz,
hastened to report the situation of matters to the King, who
had assumed command of the armies on June 30th, and now had his
headquarters at Gitschin. The measures taken by Frederick Charles were
approved, and Von Moltke at once issued orders for the advance of the
entire Second Army, as requested by that commander. These orders were
sent at midnight, one copy being sent through Frederick Charles at
Kamenitz; the other being carried by Count Finkenstein direct to the
Crown Prince at Königinhof. The officer who had been sent by Frederick
Charles to the Crown Prince was returning, with an answer that the
orders from army headquarters made it impossible to support the First
Army with more than the Ist Corps and the Reserve Cavalry. Fortunately,
he met Finkenstein a short distance from Königinhof. Comparing notes,
the two officers returned together to the Crown Prince, who at once
issued orders for the movement of his entire army to the assistance of
Frederick Charles.

In order to deliver his dispatches to the Crown Prince, Finkenstein had
ridden twenty-two and one-half miles, over a strange road, on a dark,
rainy night. Had he lost his way; had his horse suffered injury; had he
encountered an Austrian patrol, the history of Germany might have been
different. It is almost incredible that the Prussian general should
have diverged so widely from the characteristic German prudence as to
make success contingent upon the life of an aide-de-camp, or possibly
the life of a horse. Even had the other courier, riding _via_ Kamenitz,
reached his destination safely, the time that must have elapsed between
the Crown Prince’s declension of co-operation and his later promise to
co-operate, would have been sufficient to derange, and perhaps destroy,
the combinations of Von Moltke.

Let us now examine the Austrian position. Derrécagaix describes it as

“In front of the position, on the west, ran the Bistritz, a little
river difficult to cross in ordinary weather, and then very much
swollen by the recent rains.

“On the north, between the Bistritz and the Trotina, was a space of
about five kilometers, by which the columns of the assailant might
advance. Between these two rivers and the Elbe the ground is broken
with low hills, covered with villages and woods, which gave the defense
advantageous points of support. In the center the hill of Chlum
formed the key of the position, and commanded the road from Sadowa to
Königgrätz. The heights of Horenowes covered the right on the north.
The heights of Problus and Hradek constituted a solid support for the
left. At the south the position of Liebau afforded protection on this
side to the communications of the army.[12]

“The position selected had, then, considerable defensive value; but it
had the defect of having at its back the Elbe and the defiles formed by
the bridges.”

On this subject, however, Hozier says: “The Austrian commander took the
precaution to throw bridges over the river. With plenty of bridges, a
river in rear of a position became an advantage. After the retreating
army had withdrawn across the stream, the bridges were broken, and the
river became an obstacle to the pursuit. Special, as well as general,
conditions also came into play.... The heavy guns of the fortress
scoured the banks of the river, both up and down stream, and, with
superior weight of metal and length of range, were able to cover the
passage of the Austrians.”

In considering the Austrian retreat, we shall find that neither of
these distinguished authorities is entirely right, or wholly wrong, in
regard to the defects and advantages of the position described.

The following dispositions were ordered by Von Benedek:

The Saxons to occupy the heights of Popowitz, the left wing slightly
refused, and covered by the Saxon Cavalry;

The 1st Light Cavalry Division, to the rear and left, at Problus and

The Xth Corps on the right of the Saxons;

The IIId Corps to occupy the heights of Lipa and Chlum, on the right of
the Xth Corps;

The VIIIth Corps in reserve, in rear of the Saxons.

In case the attack should be confined to the left wing, the other corps
were merely to hold themselves in readiness. If, however, the attack
should extend to the center and right, the following dispositions were
to be made:

The IVth Corps to move up on the right of the IIId to the heights of
Chlum and Nedelist;

The IId Corps, on the right of the IVth, constituting the extreme right

The 2d Light Cavalry Division, to the rear of Nedelist;

The VIth Corps to be massed on the heights of Wsestar;

The Ist Corps to be massed at Rosnitz;

The 1st and 3d Cavalry Divisions to take position at Sweti;

The 2d Reserve Cavalry Division, at Briza;

The Reserve Artillery behind the Ist and VIth Corps.

The Ist and VIth Corps, the five cavalry divisions and the Reserve
Artillery were to constitute the general reserve.

A slight attempt was made to strengthen the position by throwing up
entrenchments. Six batteries were constructed on the right, as well
as breastworks for about eight companies of supporting infantry. The
infantry breastworks, as well as the batteries, were constructed by
engineer soldiers, and were of strong profile, with traverses, and had
a command of eight feet. There was not the slightest attempt to have
the infantry shelter themselves with hasty entrenchments. Even the
earthworks that were constructed were of no use; for a misunderstanding
of orders caused the line of battle to be established far in advance of
them. On the left but little was done to strengthen the position before
the Prussian attack began.


Notwithstanding the heavy rain, the muddy roads, and the late hour at
which the orders had been received, the divisions of the First Army
were all at their appointed places soon after dawn. The Army of the
Elbe pushed forward energetically, and at 5:45 o’clock its commander
notified Frederick Charles that he would be at Nechanitz between 7
and 9 o’clock, with thirty-six battalions. The First Army was at once
ordered forward.

The 8th Division marched on the left of the high road, as the
advanced-guard of the troops moving upon Sadowa.

The 4th and 3d Divisions marched on the right of the road, abreast of
the 8th.

The 5th and 6th Divisions followed the 8th on the right and left of the
road respectively, while the Reserve Artillery followed on the road

The Cavalry Corps had started from Gutwasser at 5 o’clock, and it now
marched behind the right wing to maintain communication with the Army
of the Elbe.

The 7th Division was to leave Cerekwitz as soon as the noise of the
opening battle was heard, and was to join in the action according to

The divisional cavalry of the 5th and 6th Divisions was formed into a
brigade, and a brigade of the Cavalry Division was attached to the IId


About 7:30 the advanced-guard of the Army of the Elbe reached
Nechanitz, where it encountered a Saxon outpost, which retired after
destroying the bridges.

About the same time the 8th Division advanced in line of battle upon
Sadowa. The Austrian artillery opened fire as soon as the Prussians
came in sight. The latter took up a position near the Sadowa
brickfield, and skirmishing began.

The 4th Division took up a position at Mzan, on the right of the 8th,
and its batteries engaged in combat with the Austrian artillery.

The 3d Division formed on the right of the 4th, near Zawadilka.

The 5th and 6th Divisions formed line at Klenitz; one on each side of
the road.

The Reserve Cavalry was stationed at Sucha.

At the first sound of the cannon Von Fransecky opened fire upon the
village of Benatek, which was soon set on fire by the Prussian shells.
The village was then carried by assault by the advanced-guard of the
7th Division.

There was now a heavy cannonade all along the line. The heavy downpour
of the last night had given place to a dense fog and a drizzling rain;
and the obscurity was heightened by the clouds of smoke which rose from
the guns. Frederick Charles rode along the right wing, giving orders to
respond to the Austrian batteries by firing slowly, and forbidding the
crossing of the Bistritz. His object was merely to contain Von Benedek,
while waiting for the weather to clear up, and for the turning armies
to gain time.

At 8 o’clock loud cheering announced the arrival of the King of Prussia
upon the battle field. As soon as Frederick Charles reported to him
the condition of affairs, the King ordered an advance upon the line
of the Bistritz. The object of this movement was to gain good points
of support for the divisions upon the left bank of the Bistritz, from
which they might launch forth, at the proper time, upon the main
position of the enemy. The divisions were cautioned not to advance too
far beyond the stream, nor up to the opposite heights.

The Austrian position differed slightly from the one ordered on the
eve of the battle. The Saxons, instead of holding the heights eastward
of Popowitz and Tresowitz, found a more advantageous position on the
heights between Problus and Prim, with a brigade holding the hills
behind Lubno, Popowitz and Tresowitz. Nechanitz was held merely as an
outpost. The remaining dispositions of the center and left were, on
the whole, as ordered the night before; on the right they differed
materially from the positions designated.

Instead of the line Chlum-Nedelist, the IVth Corps took up its position
on the line Cistowes-Maslowed-Horenowes, 2,000 paces in advance of the
batteries that had been thrown up.

The IId Corps formed on the right of the IVth, on the heights of

The Ist and VIth Corps and the Cavalry took their appointed positions,
and the Reserve Artillery was stationed on the heights of Wsestar and

In the language of the Prussian Staff History: “Instead of the
semi-circle originally intended, the Austrian line of battle now
formed only a very gentle curve, the length of which, from Ober-Prim
to Horenowes, was about six and three-fourths miles, on which four and
three-fourths corps d’armee were drawn up. The left wing had a reserve
of three weak brigades behind it, and on the right wing only one
brigade covered the ground between the right flank and the Elbe. On the
other hand, a main reserve of two corps of infantry and five cavalry
divisions stood ready for action fully two miles behind the center of
the whole line of battle.”

The strength of the Austrian army was 206,100 men and 770 guns. At this
period of the battle it was opposed by a Prussian army of 123,918 men,
with 444 guns. The arrival of the Second Army would, however, increase
this force to 220,984 men and 792 guns.

The 7th Division, which had already occupied the village of Benatek,
was the first to come into serious conflict with the Austrians. The
attack, beginning thus on the left, was successively taken up by the
8th, 4th and 3d Divisions; and the advanced-guard of the Army of the
Elbe being engaged at the same time, the roar of battle extended along
the entire line.

In front of the 7th Division were the wooded heights of Maslowed, known
also as the Swiep Wald. This forest, extending about 2,000 paces from
east to west, and about 1,200 from north to south, covered a steep
ridge intersected on its northern slope by ravines, but falling off
more gradually towards the Bistritz. Against this formidable position
Von Fransecky sent four battalions, which encountered two Austrian
battalions, and, after a severe struggle, drove them from the wood. Now
was the time to break the Austrian line between Maslowed and Cistowes,
and, turning upon either point, or both, roll up the flanks of the
broken line. The advanced battalions were quickly reinforced by the
rest of the division; but all attempts to _débouche_ from the wood were
baffled. Heavy reinforcements were drawn from the Austrian IVth and
IId Corps, and a furious counter-attack was made upon the Prussians.
Calling for assistance, Von Fransecky was reinforced by two battalions
of the 8th Division; but he was still struggling against appalling
odds. With fourteen battalions and twenty-four guns, he was contending
against an Austrian force of forty battalions and 128 guns. Falling
back slowly, contesting the ground inch by inch, the Prussian division,
after a fierce struggle of three hours, still clung stubbornly to the
northern portion of the wood. Still the Austrians had here a reserve of
eleven battalions and twenty-four guns, which might have been hurled
with decisive effect upon the exhausted Prussians, had not other events

As soon as the 7th Division had advanced beyond Benatek, the 8th
Division advanced against the woods of Skalka and Sadowa. Two bridges
were thrown across the Bistritz, west of the Skalka wood, by the side
of two permanent bridges, which the Austrians had neglected to destroy.
The reserve divisions (5th and 6th) advanced, at the same time, to
Sowetitz, and the Reserve Artillery to the Roskosberg. As soon as the
8th Division crossed the Bistritz, it was to establish communication
with the 7th Division, and turn towards the Königgrätz highroad. The
woods of Skalka and Sadowa were occupied without much difficulty; the
Austrian brigade which occupied them falling back in good order to the
heights of Lipa, where the other brigades of the IIId Austrian Corps
were stationed. On these heights, between Lipa and Langenhof, 160 guns
were concentrated in a great battery, which sent such a “hailstorm
of shells” upon the advancing Prussians as to check effectually all
attempts to _débouche_ from the forests.

The 4th Division advanced from Mzan, and the 3d from Zawadilka, soon
after the 8th Division moved forward. The retreat of the Austrian
brigade from Sadowa had uncovered the flank of the outposts, and
compelled the withdrawal of the troops successively from Dohalitz,
Dohalica and Mokrowous to the main position westward of Langenhof
and Stresetitz, and these outposts were consequently gained by the
Prussians with slight loss. Further advance of the 4th and 3d
Divisions was, however, prevented by the rapid and accurate fire of the
Austrian batteries.

The advanced-guard of the Army of the Elbe had gained the left bank of
the Bistritz, part of the left wing crossing by the bridge of Nechanitz
(which had been repaired with gates and barn doors) and part by wading
breast-deep across the stream. The right wing of the advanced-guard
was obliged to march down stream to Kuncitz, where it crossed, after
dislodging a small force of Saxons and repairing the bridge. The Saxon
outposts were all driven back to the main position, and the Prussian
advanced-guard occupied the line Hradek-Lubno, thus covering the
crossing of the main body. The Prussians succeeded in throwing only
one bridge at this part of the field; and as the entire Army of the
Elbe was obliged to cross upon it and defile through Nechanitz, the
deployment was necessarily slow.

At 11 o’clock the Prussian advance had been checked. The Army of the
Elbe was slowly forming in rear of the line Hradek-Lubno. The First
Army, advancing, as we have seen, by echelon of divisions from the
left, had gained the position Maslowed-Sadowa Wood-Mokrowous, thus
executing a wheel of about an eighth of a circle to the right. The
immediate object of the advance had been practically gained, it is
true, by the occupation of the line of the Bistritz, and the conversion
of the strong advanced posts of the Austrians into good points of
support for the Prussians. Yet Fransecky was sorely pushed on the left,
and the 8th Division was suffering so severely from the fire of the
Austrian guns, that Frederick Charles deemed it necessary to order
the 5th and 6th Divisions to move up to the Sadowa wood. All attempts
of these fresh troops to gain ground towards the heights of Lipa were
repulsed, and the Prussian advance again came to a standstill. A
counter-attack by a single Austrian brigade against the Sadowa wood
(made without Von Benedek’s permission) was repulsed.

The position of the First Army was now critical. The last battalion
of the infantry reserves had been brought into action. Von Fransecky
was on a desperate defensive. The other divisions were all subjected
to a furious, crushing fire from nearly 250 pieces of artillery,
which the Austrians had brought into action on the heights from Lipa
to Problus; while, owing partly to the wooded ground, partly to the
difficulty of crossing the stream, and partly to the inefficiency of
the Prussian artillery officers, only 42 guns were on the left bank
of the Bistritz to reply to this formidable cannonade. Only a portion
of Frederick Charles’ guns were brought into action at all; and their
long range fire from the positions west of the Bistritz was ignored by
the Austrian batteries, whose entire energy was devoted to a merciless
pelting of the Prussian infantry.

The statement of the Prussian Staff History that the center was in no
danger, seems, therefore, to savor more of patriotism than of candor.
To advance was impossible. The infantry was suffering terribly from the
Austrian fire; the artillery was feebly handled; and the cavalry could
render no assistance. There was danger that the army would be shaken
to pieces by Von Benedek’s artillery, and that the demoralized troops
would then be swept from the field by the comparatively fresh infantry
and cavalry of the Austrians. The King and his generals eagerly scanned
the northern horizon with their glasses; and, with the intense anxiety
of Wellington at Waterloo, waited for tidings from the army on the
left, and strained their vision for a sight of the advancing columns.
The question of retreat was discussed. The Reserve Cavalry was ordered
up to Sadowa, apparently with a view to covering the withdrawal of the
army to the right bank of the stream. It was now past 1 o’clock. It was
resolved to hold the line of the Bistritz at all hazards, and a heavy
artillery fire was kept up. In the meantime, events on other parts of
the field were already beginning to extricate the First Army from its
perilous situation.

At 11:30, the 14th and 15th Divisions of the Army of the Elbe having
come upon the field, an attack was ordered upon both flanks of the
Saxons. The 15th Division, followed by a brigade of cavalry, moved,
through Hradek, against Ober-Prim. The 14th Division moved on the
heights east of Popowitz, through the forest, against Problus. The
advanced-guard, between the two divisions, moved to the attack, pushing
its flanks forward, for the double purpose of avoiding the heavy
fire from the enemy’s front and masking the movements of the turning
divisions. The Prince of Saxony, believing it a favorable opportunity
to assume the offensive, attacked the Prussian advanced-guard with
a Saxon brigade. The attack, though made with great spirit, was
repulsed. Again the Prince attacked, this time with two brigades;
but the advancing Saxons being struck on the left flank by the 15th
Division, were driven back with heavy loss, and Ober-Prim was carried
by the Prussians. General Herwarth Von Bittenfeld had succeeded in
bringing 66 guns to the left bank of the Bistritz, and he now pushed
them forward to within 2,000 paces of Nieder Prim, upon which they
concentrated a heavy fire, under cover of which the place was carried
by a regiment of the 15th Division. The 14th Division, having gained
possession of Popowitz and the wood east of that village, now joined
the 15th Division in a concentric attack upon Problus. The Prince of
Saxony had not only observed the preparations for this attack, but he
had also observed the arrival of the Prussian Second Army at Chlum;
and he now, at 3 o’clock, ordered a retreat to the heights southwest
of Rosnitz. The troops at Problus, acting as a rear-guard, offered a
stubborn resistance to the advancing Prussians; but they were driven
from the village, and the advance of the 14th and 15th Divisions was
checked only by the artillery fire of the Saxons and the VIIIth Corps,
stationed on the hills north-east of Problus.

During this time the Second Army had been working great results. At 8
o’clock Von Alvensleben, commanding the advanced-guard of the Guard
Corps, at Daubrowitz, heard the cannonade in the direction of Benatek.
Without waiting for orders, he at once put his command in march for the
scene of conflict, notifying his corps commander of his departure, and
sending word to Von Fransecky that he would be at Jericek by 11:30. The
rest of the corps quickly followed, marching straight across country,
up hill and down hill, pushing through the heavy mud with such restless
energy that several of the artillery horses dropped dead from fatigue.
The advanced-guard arrived at Jericek at 11 o’clock, and at the same
hour the heads of the columns of the main body arrived at Choteborek,
to which point the Crown Prince had hurried in advance of the troops.

The VIth Corps advanced from its position, near Gradlitz, in two
columns. The 12th Division marched, _via_ Kukus and Ertina, to the
heights east of Rosnow, detaching a battalion and a squadron to
mask the fortress of Josephstadt. The 11th Division marched, _via_
Schurz, to Welchow. As soon as it neared the latter place Von Mutius,
commanding the corps, ordered both divisions to keep connection and
march to the sound of the cannonade. The troops pushed on “over hills,
meadows and ditches, through copses and hedgerows,” across the swampy
valley of the Trotina, part of the troops crossing the stream by the
single bridge, and part wading breast-deep through the water. At 11
o’clock the 11th Division arrived at the heights north of Racitz, and
came under the fire of the enemy’s batteries.

At 8 o’clock the Vth Corps began its march, _via_ Schurz and Dubenitz,
to Choteborek; and at 11 o’clock its advanced-guard was approaching
that village.

The Ist Corps did not start until 9:30. It marched _via_ Zabres,
Gross-Trotin and Weiss Polikau; and at 11 o’clock it had not yet
reached Gross-Burglitz.

Thus, at 11 o’clock, the only troops that had reached the Trotina were
the Guards and the VIth Corps; and they were still two and one-half
miles from the left wing of the First Army. In three hours the Second
Army had been so concentrated as to reduce its front from twenty-two
and one-half miles to nine miles; and it now occupied the line

The Crown Prince, from his station on the heights of Choteborek, about
four and one-half miles from Maslowed, had an extended view towards the
valley of the Bistritz; and notwithstanding the rain and fog, he could
trace the direction of the contending lines by the smoke of the burning
villages and flashes of the guns. It was evident that his columns
were marching in such a direction as to bring them directly upon the
flank and rear of the Austrian troops already engaged; but, though the
formidable heights of Horenowes appeared to be occupied by only one
battery, it seemed probable that the passage of the Elbe by the Crown
Prince was known by Von Benedek, and that the troops on the Austrian
right were waiting behind the crest of the hills, to spring forward
into action when the Prussians should undertake to cross the swampy
valley between the Trotina and the heights of Horenowes. The different
divisions were ordered to direct their march upon a prominent group of
trees on the Horenowes hill.

The Austrians were now in a position of extreme danger. The heights
of Horenowes, which seemed to offer such a formidable obstacle to the
advance of the Crown Prince, had been left almost defenseless. As
we have seen, the Austrian IVth and IId Corps had taken up the line
Cistowes-Maslowed-Horenowes, and the space between the right flank
and the Elbe was guarded by only one brigade and two battalions. To
make matters worse, the IVth and IId Corps had been drawn into the
fight with Von Fransecky in the Swiep Wald, and, facing west, they now
presented a flank to the advancing columns of the Crown Prince. The
advance of these two corps beyond the line Chlum-Nedelist had carried
them far beyond support; and now, with the Prussian Second Army within
two and one-half miles of them, their reserves were fully three miles

Von Benedek discovering that these two corps had not taken up their
designated positions, sent orders, before 11 o’clock, to their
commanders, to fall back to the positions originally assigned to
them. Unfortunately, the commander of the IVth Corps, ignorant of the
approach of the Crown Prince, and flushed with his success against
Von Fransecky, thought it an opportune moment to assume a vigorous
offensive against the Prussian left, and would not make the movement
ordered until he had sent a report to that effect to his chief. The
projected offensive was disapproved, and the former order was repeated.
The two corps now retired to the positions originally designated, the
movement being covered by the fire of 64 pieces of artillery posted
on the plateau of Nedelist. The withdrawal had been delayed too long;
for the Crown Prince already had 48 guns in position between Racitz
and Horenowes, the Prussian infantry was advancing, and the Austrian
movement partook, consequently, of the nature of a retreat. Yet it is
greatly to the credit of the Austrian troops that they were able to
execute a flank movement--and a retrograde movement, too--under the
fire of the enemy; though they had been in action fully three hours.

At noon Von Benedek received a telegram from Salney, _via_ Josephstadt,
announcing the approach of the Second Army. At this very moment the
guns of the Crown Prince were playing upon the Austrian right flank.

The advanced-guard of the 1st Division of Guards had debouched from
Zizilowes at 11:15 A. M.; its right flank being covered by the
cavalry brigade which had covered the left of the 7th Division. The
advanced-guard of the 2d Guard Division, (which had been separated from
the main body by the Reserve Artillery of the 1st Division cutting
into the column on the road) without waiting for the arrival of its
comrades, joined the 1st Division in its attack upon Horenowes. At noon
the 12th Division had captured the Horicka Berg, the 11th Division had
driven the Austrians from Racitz, and the Guards were advancing upon
Horenowes. The withdrawal of the Austrian IId Corps had been covered by
40 guns posted east of Horenowes, which kept up a heavy fire upon the
Prussians. But the Guards easily carried Horenowes, the position of the
great battery was turned, the hostile infantry was advancing upon its
flank, and the artillery was forced to retire. The 12th Division, in
the meantime, had captured Sendrasitz, cutting off the Austrian brigade
which had been covering the right flank. The 11th Division then moved
up to a position north of Sendrasitz, on the left of the Guards, and
the latter advanced to Maslowed. The Prussians now had 90 guns on the
heights of Horenowes; and most of these pieces were hurried forward
beyond Maslowed, within 1,300 paces of the Austrian position, where
they prepared the way for the infantry assault by a vigorous cannonade.

When the Guards advanced, the Austrian IVth Corps was still engaged in
taking up its new position. Unchecked by the fire of more than 100 guns
in position west of Nedelist, the Guards crushed the two battalions
on the left of the IVth Corps, and penetrated into the gap; the left
wing rolling up the flank of an Austrian brigade, and pushing on in
the direction of Sweti; while the right wing, changing front to the
right, stormed the village of Chlum, which, though the key of the
Austrian position, was occupied by only a single battalion. As the
Guards advanced, the force under Von Alvensleben, which had constituted
the advanced-guard in the morning, moved forward in echelon on their
right. A brigade of the Austrian IVth Corps, which, by some mistake,
had been left at Cistowes, and was now marching to the new position of
its corps, was struck by Von Alvensleben, and driven to the westward of
Chlum with heavy loss. Simultaneously with the Guards, the VIth Corps
advanced upon the enemy, the 11th Division capturing Nedelist, and the
12th driving the cut-off Austrian brigade into Lochenitz. The Austrians
made several determined attacks from Langenhof and the Lipa wood upon
the Prussians in Chlum; but though they fought with great bravery and
penetrated into the village, they were repulsed by the Guards, who
then seized Rosberitz and the forest of Lipa. The 1st Austrian Reserve
Cavalry Division, consisting of five regiments, charged the Prussians
south of Chlum. The brigade on the left consisted of two regiments of
cuirassiers, and was formed in double column: the one on the right was
composed of two regiments (one of cuirassiers and one of lancers),
formed in double column, with a regiment of cuirassiers following as a
second line. The charge was repulsed by four companies of the infantry
of the Guard. It is remarkable that in this case, the cavalry came
within 200 yards of the infantry before the latter opened fire.

At 3 o’clock matters had, consequently, changed very much for the worse
with the Austrians. On the left, the Saxons had been driven from their
position; on the right, the Prussian Guards and VIth Corps occupied the
line Rosberitz-Nedelist-Lochenitz. The Austrian IVth and IId Corps had
been defeated, and were retreating upon Wsestar, Sweti, Predmeritz and
Lochenitz. The 1st Division of the Guards had captured 55 guns, and had
seized the key of the Austrian position. The Austrian IIId Corps was
sandwiched between the Guards and the First Army. Yet the position of
the Guards was full of danger. In the valley of Sweti-Wsestar-Rosnitz
were the two intact corps of Austrian reserves, with more than 70
squadrons of cavalry; and between Wsestar and Langenhof were massed
the powerful batteries of the reserve artillery, which kept Rosberitz
and Chlum under a heavy fire. The main body of the 2d Division of the
Guards was just ascending the heights of Maslowed. There were no other
troops within a mile and a quarter upon whom they could depend for

Von Benedek, who had taken his position between Lipa and Chlum,
hearing of the occupation of the latter village by the Prussians,
could scarcely believe the surprising news. As he rode hurriedly
toward Chlum, the information was rudely corroborated by a volley from
the Prussians, which mortally wounded an aide-de-camp, and seriously
injured several other members of his escort. There was no longer any
doubt. Victory was now out of the question, and it was necessary to
take prompt measures to save the right wing from annihilation, and to
prevent the retreat of the rest of the army from being cut off.

A brigade of the Austrian Ist Corps was sent to reinforce the Saxons
near Problus, and another brigade of the same corps was sent against
the Lipa wood and the heights west of Chlum. The latter brigade,
reinforced by a brigade of the IIId Corps and fragments of the IVth
Corps, made three desperate attacks upon the advanced-guard of the 2d
Division and part of the 1st Division of the Prussian Guards at these
points, only to recoil, completely baffled, before the deadly fire of
the needle gun. The IIId Corps no longer had any intact troops; it was
between two fires; it began its retreat, and abandoned the village of
Lipa to the Prussians. On the left, the main body of the 1st Division
of the Guards was engaged at Rosberitz with the Austrian VIth Corps.
Advancing resolutely to the attack, the Austrians dislodged the Guards
from the village after a bloody struggle; but as they halted at the
outskirts of the town to re-form for another assault, the Guards were
reinforced by the advanced-guard of the Ist Corps. At the same time,
the commander of the Prussian VIth Corps, leaving the 12th Division
engaged with the Austrians at Lochenitz, half-wheeled the 11th Division
to the right, and advanced from Nedelist upon Rosberitz. The Austrian
IId Corps was already in retreat. A counter-attack of the Guards and
the Ist Corps drove the Austrians out of Rosberitz; and the 11th
Division striking them on the flank routed them with heavy loss. The
11th Division then attacked a brigade of the Austrian IVth Corps, which
had taken up a position near Sweti to protect the reserve artillery.
The brigade and the artillery were driven back to the village, which
was carried by assault, many cannon being captured. The Vth Corps
reached Horenowes at 4 o’clock, and was designated as the general
reserve of the army.

The full tide of Prussian success had now set in. The 16th Division
had not yet crossed at Nechanitz, but the 14th and 15th Divisions had
defeated the Saxons and the Austrian VIIIth Corps, and the allies were
in retreat. Both of the Austrian flanks had been crushed, and the First
Army was now actively engaged in an attack upon Von Benedek’s front.

The aide-de-camp sent by the Crown Prince to announce his approach
had been delayed by the condition of the roads and the necessity of
making a long detour, and did not arrive at the royal headquarters
until late in the afternoon. The Crown Prince’s advance was first made
known to the commander of the First Army by the flashes of the Prussian
guns on the heights of Horenowes. Soon after, the Prussian columns
were seen ascending the heights of Maslowed. The fire of the Austrian
guns in front perceptibly diminished, and it was evident that some of
the batteries had changed front to the right. It was clear that the
Second Army had struck the Austrian flank; and at 3:30 o’clock the
King ordered “an advance all along the line” of the First Army. The
retreat of the Austrian Xth Corps had begun, but it was concealed by
the nature of the ground, and covered by the line of artillery, which
devotedly maintained its position, and kept up a heavy fire, until its
own existence was imperiled by the advance of the foe. The Xth Corps
had passed well beyond the danger of infantry pursuit when the advance
of the First Army was ordered. The Austrian artillerists held to their
position until the enemy was almost at the muzzle of the cannon, and
then withdrawing to Rosnitz and Briza, with all the guns that their
stubborn defense had not compelled them to sacrifice, again opened
fire upon the Prussians. The cavalry, too, devoted itself to the task
of covering the retreat. The Prussian cavalry, which had been delayed
by the blocking of the bridges by the artillery, and the crowding of
the roads by the infantry, now appeared in the front of the pursuers,
and fierce cavalry combats took place near Langenhof, Stresetitz and
Problus. Though eventually overmatched, the Austrian cavalry made
a noble fight, and, at the sacrifice of its best blood, materially
assisted in covering the retreat of the army.

Frederick Charles, bringing up 54 guns to the heights of Wsestar
and Sweti, opened fire upon the new line of Austrian artillery. The
Austrian batteries replied with spirit, until the advance of the 11th
Division upon Rosnitz and Briza compelled them to withdraw, with
the loss of 36 guns. Still undaunted, the artillery took up a new
position on the line Stösser-Freihofen-Zeigelshag. Here all available
guns were brought into action, and under their fire the Prussian
pursuit virtually ended. Withdrawing in excellent order to the line
Placitz-Kuklena, the Austrian artillery kept up a duel with the
Prussian guns on the line Klacow-Stezerek until long after darkness had
set in.

The Prussian Staff History says: “The behavior of the cavalry and the
well-sustained fire of the powerful line of artillery at Placitz and
Kuklena, proved that part, at least of the hostile army still retained
its full power of resistance.

“It is true that affairs behind this line of artillery bore a very
different aspect. At first the corps had, for the most part, taken the
direction of the bridges northward of Königgrätz, but were prevented
from using them by the advance of the Prussian extreme left wing. This
caused the different bodies of troops to become promiscuously and
confusedly mingled together. The flying cavalry, shells bursting on all
sides, still further increased the confusion, which reached its climax
when the commandant of Königgrätz closed the gates of the fortress.

“Hundreds of wagons, either overturned or thrust off from the highroad,
riderless horses and confused crowds of men trying to escape across the
inundated environs of the fortress and the river, many of them up to
their necks in water--this spectacle of wildest flight and utter rout,
immediately before the gates of Königgrätz, was naturally hidden from
the view of the pursuing enemy.”

A prompt pursuit would, however, have been impracticable, even if
the Prussians had fully appreciated the extent of the Austrian
demoralization. The concentric attacks, so magnificently decisive on
the field, had produced an almost chaotic confusion on the part of
the victors themselves. Owing to the direction of their attacks, the
Second Army and the Army of the Elbe were “telescoped” together; and
the advance of the First Army had jammed it into the right flank of
the former and the left flank of the latter. At noon the front of
the combined Prussian armies had been more than sixteen miles long.
The front of this great host was now but little more than two miles;
and men of different regiments, brigades, divisions, corps, and even
armies, were now indiscriminately mingled together. Aside from this
confusion, the exhaustion of the Prussian soldiers precluded pursuit.
Most of them had left their bivouacs long before dawn, and it had
been a day of hard marching and hard fighting for all. Many had been
entirely without food, all were suffering from extreme fatigue, and
several officers had fallen dead on the field from sheer exhaustion.

As a result of the exhaustion of the Prussians and the excellent
conduct of the Austrian cavalry and artillery, Von Benedek slipped
across the Elbe, and gained such a start on his adversaries that for
three days the Prussians lost all touch with him, and were in complete
ignorance of the direction of his retreat.

Thus ended the great battle of Königgrätz. The Prussian losses were
9,153, killed, wounded and missing. The Austrians lost 44,200, killed,
wounded and missing, including in the last classification 19,800
prisoners. They also lost 161 guns, five stands of colors, several
thousand muskets, several hundred wagons and a ponton train. The sum
total of the killed, wounded and missing (exclusive of prisoners) in
this battle was 27,656.

It is not necessary, for the present, even to sketch the retreat of the
Austrian army upon Olmütz and Vienna; the masterly march of Von Moltke
to the Danube; the Italian disasters of Custozza and Lissa; and the
campaign in which the Army of the Maine defeated the Bavarians and the
VIIIth Federal Corps.[13] Königgrätz was the decisive battle of the
war. Austria could not rally from her disaster, and twenty-three days
after the battle the truce of Nikolsburg virtually ended the contest.


It is not only on account of its great and far-reaching results that
Königgrätz must be rated as one of the greatest battles of the world.
In point of numbers engaged, it was the greatest battle of modern
times; for the two contending armies aggregated nearly half a million
men. In this respect it exceeded Gravelotte, dwarfed Solferino and
even surpassed the “Battle of Nations” fought on the plains of Leipsic,
fifty-two years before.

Yet, considering the numbers engaged, the loss of life was not great.
The sum total of the killed and wounded was nearly 6,000 less than at
Gettysburg, though in that sanguinary struggle the combined strength
of the Union and Confederate armies was less than that of the Austrian
army alone at Königgrätz.[14] In fact, of all the battles of the War of
Secession, Fredericksburg, Chattanooga and Cold Harbor were the only
ones in which the losses of the _victors_, in killed and wounded, did
not exceed, in proportion to the numbers engaged, the losses of the
_defeated_ army at Königgrätz. A bit of reflection upon these facts
might convince certain European critics that the failure of victorious
American armies to pursue their opponents vigorously was due to other
causes than inefficient organization or a lack of military skill. In
the words of Colonel Chesney: “In order to pursue, there must be some
one to run away; and, to the credit of the Americans, the ordinary
conditions of European warfare in this respect were usually absent
from the great battles fought across the Atlantic. Hence, partly, the
frequent repetition of the struggle, almost on the same ground, of
which the last campaign of Grant and Lee is the crowning example.” It
is, perhaps, not too much to say, that had Von Benedek been a Lee,
and had his army been of the nature of Lee’s army, even if defeated
at Königgrätz, the next day would have found him on the left bank
of the Elbe, under the shelter of hasty entrenchments, presenting
a bold front to the Prussians; for there was no reason, aside from
demoralization, for the retreat of the Austrians far from the scene
of their defeat. Their communications were neither intercepted nor
seriously endangered; their losses had not been excessive; and, but for
their discouragement and loss of _morale_, there is no reason why their
defeat at Königgrätz should have been decisive.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not the least of the causes of the Austrian defeat was the autocratic
policy of Von Benedek, which caused the entire management of the
army to be centralized in his own person, and the plan of battle to
be locked up in his own mind. However brave, willing and obedient a
subordinate officer may be, there can be no doubt that his duties will
be better done, because more intelligently done, if he has a clear
knowledge of the part that he is called upon to perform. The higher the
rank, and the more important the command, of the subordinate officer,
the more certainly is this the case. Yet Von Benedek seems to have
desired from his corps commanders nothing more than the blind obedience
of the private soldier. On the day before the battle of Königgrätz all
the corps commanders were summoned to headquarters; but Von Benedek,
after alluding merely to unimportant matters of routine, dismissed them
without a word of instruction as to the part to be performed by them in
the battle which he must have known to be imminent. On the day of the
battle the commanders of the corps and divisions on the right were not
informed of the construction of the batteries, and were not notified
that these entrenchments were intended to mark their line. Instead
of being thrown up by the divisions themselves, these works were
constructed by the chief engineer, without one word of consultation or
explanation with the corps commanders. Had the commanders of the IIId,
IVth and IId Corps been informed that their principal duty would be
to guard against a possible, if not probable, advance of the Crown
Prince, it is not likely that the line Cistowes-Maslowed-Horenowes
would have been occupied by the right wing; but these generals seem to
have taken up their positions with no more idea of their object or of
their influence upon the result of the battle than had the men in the

       *       *       *       *       *

The selection made by Von Benedek of a field for the coming battle
cannot be condemned. On the whole, the position was a strong one, and
the fault lay in the dispositions purposely made, or accidentally
assumed, rather than in any inherent weakness in the position.

According to some writers, Von Benedek committed an error in holding
his advanced posts in the villages on the Bistritz with small forces
(which in some cases did not exceed a battalion), while the Prussian
advanced-guards generally consisted of a brigade at least. Derrécagaix
says: “It was of importance to the Imperial Army to compel the Prussian
forces to deploy at the earliest moment; to tire them before their
arrival at the Bistritz; to dispute the passage of that river, which
constituted an obstacle, in order that they might approach the main
position only after having exhausted their efforts and lost their
_élan_ through heavy casualties.” To this end, he suggests that the
Austrians should have established west of the Bistritz, on the two
roads by which the Prussians must necessarily have advanced, two strong
advanced posts, composed of troops of all three arms, and sufficiently
strong to resist the enemy’s advanced-guards. He continues: “The
Bistritz formed a first line of defense, on which it would have been
possible to check the assailant’s efforts. It possessed the peculiarity
of having all along its course villages distant from 1,000 to 1,500
meters, and separated by marshy meadows with difficult approaches. With
some batteries in rear of the intervals which separated the villages,
it would have been possible to hold them a certain time, and compel
the enemy to execute a complete deployment. The Imperial Army had,
it is true, on the Bistritz and beyond, detachments of considerable
strength. But they played an insignificant part, by reason of the
orders given, or modified their positions in the morning. As a result,
the line of the Bistritz, its banks, the villages and the woods beyond,
were occupied by the Prussians without great efforts, and they had from
that moment defensive _points d’appui_ on which it was possible to
await events and sustain the fight.”

It is impossible to agree fully with Derrécagaix on this point.
Speaking of defensible points in front of a position, Hamley says:
“A feature of this kind will be especially valuable in front of what
would otherwise be a weak part of the position. Strong in itself, and
its garrison constantly reinforced from the line; while the ground
in front is swept by batteries, such a point is difficult to attack
directly; the enemy cannot attempt to surround it without exposing the
flank and rear of the attacking troops; and to pass by it in order
to reach the position, the assailants must expose their flank to its
fire. If several such points exist, they support each other, isolate
the parts of the enemy’s attack, and force him to expend his strength
in costly attacks on them: in fact, they play the part of bastions
in a line of fortification. But it is important that they should be
within supporting distance and easy of covered access from the rear;
failing these conditions, they had better be destroyed, if possible, as
defenses, and abandoned to the enemy.”

Now, none of the advanced posts in question were in front of a
weak part of the position (for the line adopted by Von Benedek was
incomparably stronger than anything on the line of the Bistritz), and
it would have been impossible to use artillery in them with anything
like the murderous effect produced by the batteries on the line
Lipa-Problus. They were more than a mile and a quarter in front of
the position, and were not “easy of covered access from the rear.”
They were, it is true, within supporting distance of each other;
but, while attacking them, the Prussians would have been beyond the
best effect of the powerful artillery in the main Austrian line. The
preliminary combats would have largely fallen on the infantry; and,
owing to the inferior arms and impaired _morale_ of his infantry, it
was, doubtless, the first aim of the Austrian commander to use his
artillery to the fullest extent; for in that arm he knew that he was
superior to the Prussians. Von Benedek’s plan was, apparently, to lure
Frederick Charles into a position where he should have the Bistritz at
his back; where he should be at the mercy of the Austrian artillery;
and where he could be overwhelmed by the attack of superior numbers of
infantry and cavalry, after he had been demoralized and shattered by
a crushing cannonade. The Bistritz (above Lubno) is an insignificant
obstacle; but it might have been a troublesome obstruction in the rear
of a defeated army. Had the Crown Prince been delayed five or six
hours, it is probable that Von Benedek’s plan would have succeeded. The
terrible battering which Frederick Charles received, as it actually
was, is shown by the fact that his losses exceeded those of the Second
Army and the Army of the Elbe combined. In fact, the event proved that,
so far as the repulse of a front attack was concerned, Von Benedek’s
position fulfilled every condition that could be desired; and it does
not seem that anything could have been gained by the occupation in
force of the villages on the Bistritz above Lubno. They should rather
have been abandoned and destroyed, and everything left to depend on the
magnificent position in rear--a position scarcely inferior in strength
to Marye’s Heights or St. Privat.

The only village on the Bistritz that had any real value was Nechanitz.
Von Benedek’s weak points were his flanks. Had Nechanitz been occupied
in strong force, the turning of the Austrian left by the Army of the
Elbe would have been a matter of extreme difficulty, if not a downright
impossibility. We have seen that the retreat of the Austrian brigade
from Sadowa uncovered the flanks of the advanced posts, and compelled
the withdrawal of the troops successively from Dohalitz, Dohalica
and Mokrowous; and it might seem, at first, that the abandonment of
Nechanitz might have been caused in a similar manner: but such is
not the case. The heights in rear of that village, and between it
and Hradek, should have been held by two corps, from which a strong
detachment should have been placed in Nechanitz. This detachment could
easily have been reinforced as occasion demanded. Any attempt to make
a flank attack upon the village, from the direction of Popowitz, would
have been made over unfavorable ground, and the attacking force could
have been assailed in flank by Austrian troops from the heights.
Attempts to cross at Kuncitz or Boharna could have been promptly met
and repulsed; and attempts to cross further down would have extended
the Prussian front to such a degree as to expose it to a dangerous
counter-attack through Nechanitz. This occupation of Nechanitz would,
it is true, have thrust Von Benedek’s left flank forward, towards the
enemy; but that flank would have been strong in numbers and position;
it would have been covered by the Bistritz (where that stream is
swollen into a true obstacle); and it would have occupied a position
commanding Nechanitz and Kuncitz, and within easy reinforcing distance
of each. Nechanitz would have been to Von Benedek’s left what Hougomont
was to Wellington’s right; and in the event of Austrian success, it
would have given the same enveloping front that the British had at
Waterloo. The neglect of Von Benedek to hold Nechanitz in force is
surprising; for the position of his reserves indicates that he expected
an attack upon his left--a not unsound calculation, as his main line of
retreat lay in rear of his left wing.

On the right there were three positions, any one of which might have
been so occupied as to check the attack of the Crown Prince; namely: 1.
The line Trotina-Horenowes; 2. The line Trotina-Sendrasitz-Maslowed;
3. The line Lochenitz-Nedelist-Chlum. The first is regarded as the
best by the Austrian Staff. The third is the one actually chosen by
Von Benedek, but not taken up, owing to a misunderstanding of orders.
Without undertaking to discuss in detail the dispositions that should
have been made by the Austrian commander, or the relative merits of the
three defensive positions available on the right, the assertion may
be ventured that, in order to make them well suited to the ground and
the circumstances of the battle, the Austrian dispositions actually
made needed only to be modified so as to make the left strong in the
vicinity of Nechanitz and the heights of Hradek, and to occupy any one
of the three defensive positions on the right with two corps, with
another corps in reserve within easy supporting distance. If then,
profiting by American experience, Von Benedek had covered his position
with hasty entrenchments (for the construction of which the battle
field afforded every facility), he should have been able to repulse
the combined Prussian armies; for the numerical odds against him were
not great at any time; his reserves would have been in a position
to push forward promptly to any point seriously endangered; and his
entrenchments would have fully counterbalanced the superior firearms
of the Prussian infantry. Though he could not, in all probability,
have gained a decisive victory, he could have inflicted greater losses
than he received, he could have given his adversaries a bloody check,
and the mere possession of a hard-fought field would have raised the
_morale_ of his depressed army.

For a defensive battle, the formation on a salient angle would, in
this case, have been deprived of its usual objections. Considering the
nature of the country, and the enormous armies engaged, it is plain
that the whole force of the assailant could not be brought to bear on
one face of the angle; and the heights of Chlum would have served as a
huge traverse to protect the lines from enfilade fire by the enemy’s

A serious defect of the Austrian position was its want of proper
extent. As we have seen, the entire army occupied a position only six
and three-quarters miles long. Including the reserves, there were,
then, more than 30,000 men to a mile. The entire army was crowded, and
the cavalry had no room for action. The latter should have operated
across the Bistritz against the Prussian right; or (sacrificing itself
if necessary) it should have operated against the Prussian left,
opposing the advance of the Crown Prince, and gaining time for the
infantry to take up the new position.

       *       *       *       *       *

The “spectacle of wildest flight and utter rout” in the passage of the
defeated army over the Elbe[15] would surely seem to support the views
of Derrécagaix, rather than those of Hozier, in regard to a position
with a river at its back, even though the river be spanned by many
bridges. Yet Von Benedek undoubtedly derived considerable advantage
from having the Elbe at his back; for the Prussian Staff History says:
“The Elbe formed a considerable barrier to any further immediate
pursuit. As soon as the bridges over the river were once reached by the
enemy--to whom moreover the fortress of Königgrätz, which commands so
large a tract of the surrounding country, afforded a perfectly secure
place of crossing--the pursuers were obliged to make the detour by way
of Pardubitz.” If Von Benedek had encountered only a front attack, and
had been defeated, it is probable that the Elbe at his back would have
been advantageous to him in the highest degree; for the superb behavior
of his artillery and cavalry would have effectually covered the
retreat of his infantry over the numerous bridges, and the Elbe would
have played the same part in favor of the Austrians that the Mincio
did after Solferino. But the direction of the Crown Prince’s attack
destroyed the value of the bridges north of Königgrätz; and, but for
the protection afforded by the fortress, the Elbe, instead of being of
the slightest advantage, would have completely barred the retreat of a
great part of the Austrian army.

       *       *       *       *       *

Von Benedek’s selection of his individual station for watching the
progress of the battle was unfortunate. From his station on the slope
between Lipa and Chlum, his view of the field was limited by the Swiep
Wald on the north, and Problus on the south; and his view of the
entire northeastern portion of the field was cut off by the hill and
village of Chlum. The hill of Chlum was his proper station, and the
church tower in that hamlet should have been used as a lookout by some
officer of his staff. From that point the Horica Berg, the heights
of Horenowes, the Swiep Wald, the village and wood of Sadowa, the
villages on the Bistritz (almost as far as Nechanitz), the villages
of Langenhof and Problus--in brief, every important part of the
field--can be plainly seen. Had this important lookout been utilized,
Von Benedek could not have been taken by surprise by the advance of the
Crown Prince. Even the rain, mist and low-hanging smoke could not have
wholly obscured the advance of the Second Army from view; for the Crown
Prince was able to trace the direction of the contending lines from the
heights of Choteborek, a point much farther from the scene of action
than Maslowed and Horenowes are from Chlum. Von Benedek’s neglect to
make use of the church tower of Chlum probably had not a little to do
with the extent of his defeat.[16]

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the causes of Prussian success in this campaign, the needle gun
has been given a high place by all writers; and Colonel Home, in his
admirable “_Précis_ of Modern Tactics,” says: “It is not a little
remarkable that rapidity of fire has twice placed Prussia at the head
of the military nations of Europe--in 1749 and 1866.” Nevertheless,
the importance of the breech-loader in this campaign has probably been
over-estimated. The moral and physical effects of the needle gun upon
the Austrian soldiers were tremendous, and were felt from the very
beginning of the campaign. All other things equal, the needle gun
would have given the victory to the Prussians; but all other things
were _not_ equal. The strategy and tactics of the Prussians were as
much superior to those of their opponents as the needle gun was to the
Austrian muzzle-loader. In every case, the Prussian victory was due to
greater numbers or better tactics, rather than to superior rapidity of
fire; and when we consider the tactical features of each engagement, it
is hard to see how the result could have been different, even if the
Prussians had been no better armed than their adversaries. The needle
gun, undoubtedly, enabled the Prussian Guards to repulse the attacks
of the Austrian reserves at Chlum; but the battle had already gone
irretrievably against the Austrians, and if they had driven back the
Guards, the Ist and Vth Corps would have quickly recovered the lost
ground, and the result would have been the same. Derrécagaix, too,
overestimates the influence of the needle gun when he points, for proof
of its value, to the great disparity of loss between the Prussians
and Austrians at Königgrätz. The same enormous disproportion of loss
existed in favor of the Germans at Sedan, though the needle gun was
notoriously inferior to the Chassepot. This inequality of loss is to be
attributed mainly to the superior strategical and tactical movements
of the Prussians, by which, in both these battles, they crowded their
opponents into a limited space, and crushed them with a concentric fire.

It is a remarkable fact, moreover, that the superiority of the needle
gun over the muzzle-loader did not arise so much from the greater
rapidity of fire, as from the greater rapidity and security of loading.
Baron Stoffel says: “On the 29th of June, 1866, at Königinhof, the
Prussians had a sharp action with the enemy. After the action, which
took place in fields covered with high corn, Colonel Kessel went over
the ground, and to his astonishment, found five or six Austrian bodies
for every dead Prussian. The Austrians killed had been mostly hit in
the head. His [Kessel’s] men, far from firing fast, had hardly fired as
many rounds as the enemy. The Austrian officers who were made prisoners
said to the Prussians: ‘Our men are demoralized, not by the rapidity
of your fire, for we could find some means, perhaps, to counterbalance
that, but because you are always ready to fire. This morning your men,
like ours, were concealed in the corn; but, in this position, yours
could, without being seen, load their rifles easily and rapidly: ours,
on the other hand, were compelled to stand up and show themselves when
they loaded, and you then took the opportunity of firing at them.
Thus we had the greatest difficulty in getting our men to stand up at
all; and such was their terror when they did stand up to load that
their hands trembled, and they could hardly put the cartridge into the
barrel. Our men fear the advantage the quick and easy loading of the
needle gun gives you; it is this that demoralizes them. In action they
feel themselves disarmed the greater part of the time, whereas you are
always ready to fire.’”

As to rapidity of fire, it only remains to add that in the battle of
Königgrätz the number of cartridges fired by the infantry averaged
scarcely more than one round per man. This, however, is largely
accounted for by the fact that during a great part of the battle
the Austrian artillery kept most of Frederick Charles’ army beyond
effective infantry fire, as well as by the circumstance that a large
part of the Crown Prince’s army did not fire a shot--the Vth Corps not
coming into action at all.

The needle gun was of inestimable value to the Prussians, but it
was by no means the principal cause of their triumph. The great
cause of the success of Prussia was, without doubt, the thorough
military preparation which enabled her to take the field while her
adversaries were yet unprepared, and to begin operations the minute
war was declared. This, combined with the able strategy of Von Moltke,
enabled the Prussians to seize the initiative; to throw the Austrians
everywhere upon the defensive; and to strike them with superior numbers
at every move, so that Von Benedek’s troops were demoralized before the
decisive battle was fought.

       *       *       *       *       *

The tactics of the Prussians can be best described in the words of

“In advancing to the attack, the Prussian divisions generally adopted,
in this battle, a formation in three groups; the advanced-guard,
the center and the reserve. In the 7th Division, for instance, the
advanced-guard consisted of four battalions, four squadrons, one
battery and one-half company of pioneers. The center, or main body, was
composed of six battalions and one battery. In the reserve there were
one and three-fourths battalions, two batteries and one and one-half
companies of pioneers.

“These dispositions enabled them to launch against the first points
assailed a succession of attacks, which soon gave a great numerical
superiority to the assailants. This accounts for the rapidity with
which the points of support fell into the hands of the Prussians. Their
groups gained the first shelter by defiling behind the rising ground,
and when a point was stubbornly defended, the artillery opened fire
upon it, while the infantry sought to turn it by pushing forward on the

On this point Hamley says: “When it is said that the Prussians are
specially alive to the necessity of flank attacks, it is not to be
supposed that the turning of the enemy’s line alone is meant; for
that is a matter for the direction of the commanding general, and
concerns only a fraction of the troops engaged. The common application
lies in the attack of all occupied ground which is wholly or in
part disconnected from the general line, such as advanced posts,
hamlets, farm buildings, woods, or parts of a position which project
bastion-like, and are weakly defended in flank.”

The Prussians seem, in almost every case, to have advanced to the
attack in company columns, supported by half-battalion columns, or even
by battalions formed in double column on the center. Though the columns
were preceded by skirmishers, the latter seem to have played only the
comparatively unimportant part of feeling and developing the enemy; and
the present system by which a battle is begun, continued and ended,
by a constantly reinforced skirmish line, was not yet dreamed of. It
is remarkable that, after witnessing the destructive effects of the
needle gun upon their adversaries, the Prussians should have retained
their old attack formation, until, four years later, the thickly strewn
corpses of the Prussian Guards at St. Privat gave a ghastly warning
that the time had come for a change.

It is interesting to compare the tactical features of the campaign of
1866 with those of our own war. The necessity of launching upon the
points assailed a succession of attacks was recognized in the tactical
disposition frequently made, during the War of Secession, in which
the assaulting divisions were drawn up in three lines of brigades,
at distances of about 150 yards, the leading brigade being preceded
by one, or sometimes two, lines of skirmishers.[17] The skirmishers
being reinforced by, and absorbed in, the first line, the latter, if
checked, being reinforced and pushed forward by the second, and the
third line being similarly absorbed, the assaulting force, at the
moment of collision, generally consisted of all the successive lines
merged into one dense line. This formation was the outgrowth of bitter
experience in attacking in column, though the attack with battalions
ployed in close column had not altogether disappeared in 1864.[18] In
comparison with the beautiful tactics by which the Germans now attack,
with a firing line constantly reinforced from supports and reserves
kept in small columns for the double purpose of obtaining the greatest
possible combination of mobility and shelter, the attack formation
used in the Civil War seems far from perfect; but it was certainly
superior to the Prussian attack formation of 1866, for it recognized
the hopelessness of attacks in column, and provided for the successive
reinforcement of an attacking line. General Sherman, in describing the
tactics in use in his campaigns, says: “The men generally fought in
strong skirmish lines, taking advantage of the shape of the ground, and
of every cover.” Dispositions being, of course, made for the constant
reinforcement of these lines, we find Sherman’s army habitually using
tactics embracing the essential features of the German tactics of the
present day.[19]

The Austrian infantry tactics possessed the double attribute of
antiquity and imbecility. Major Adams, of the Royal Military and Staff
Colleges, says: “Since the Italian war, when Napoleon III. declared
that ‘arms of precision were dangerous only at a distance,’ it had
been the endeavor of Austria to imitate the tactics to which she
attributed her own defeat. If the uniform success of the French in
1859 had established the trustworthiness of the Emperor’s theory, how
much more necessary must it now be to arrive at close quarters, where
precision was accompanied by unusual rapidity of fire? The more recent
experiences of the American war would seem indeed to have excited but
little interest in Austria. Could it really be reasonably expected
that Austrian soldiers should effect what American generals had long
discarded as no longer to be attained? The advocacy of the bayonet, so
loudly proclaimed in Austrian circles, would surely have elicited a
contemptuous smile from the veterans of the Army of the Potomac. During
three years of war, but 143 cases of bayonet wounds were treated in the
northern hospitals; of these, but two-thirds were received in action,
and six only proved eventually fatal. How, then, could it be imagined
that tactics, which had already failed against the common rifle, ...
should now prevail against the Prussian breech-loaders? The manner in
which these naked Austrian battalions were ignorantly flung against the
murderous fire of the enemy soon produced results which every novice
in the art of war will readily appreciate. Even under cover the dread
of the Prussian weapon became such that, as the enemy approached, the
Austrian infantry either broke or surrendered.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The important aid that the Austrians might have derived from hasty
entrenchments has already been pointed out.[20] In not one single
instance did they make use of such shelter-trenches or breastworks
as were habitually used by the American armies, though the theater
of war offered the best of opportunities for the quick construction
and valuable use of such works. Such attempts at the construction of
entrenchments as were made, savor more of the days of Napoleon than
of the era of arms of precision. But the Austrians were not alone in
their neglect to profit by American experience in this respect. It
was not until Osman Pasha showed on European soil the value of hasty
entrenchments, that European military men generally took note of a
lesson of war that they might have learned thirteen years earlier.[21]

       *       *       *       *       *

The great value of hasty entrenchments, and the immeasurable
superiority of fire action over “cold steel,” were not the only lessons
taught by our war which were unheeded by Austrian soldiers steeped
in conservatism and basking serenely in the sunshine of their own
military traditions. Their use of cavalry showed either an ignorance
of, or contempt for, the experience of the American armies; but, in
this respect, the Austrians were not less perspicacious than their
adversaries. The campaign produced some fine examples of combats
between opposing forces of cavalry; but it also produced many instances
in which the Austrians hurled their cavalry against intact infantry
armed with breech-loaders, only to learn from their own defeat and an
appalling list of killed and wounded, that they had applied the tactics
of a past age to the conditions of a new era. Both armies seem to have
been afraid to let their cavalry get out of sight, and to have reserved
their mounted troops solely for use on the field of battle. If they had
studied the great raids of the American cavalry leaders, they would
have learned a lesson which there were excellent opportunities to apply.

It would, probably, have been impossible for the Austrian cavalry to
cut the Prussian communications before the junction of the invading
armies was effected. A cavalry column attempting to move around the
left of Frederick Charles would almost certainly have been caught
between the First Army and the impassable Isergebirge, and captured
before doing any damage. A column moving around the Prussian right,
into Saxony, would have encountered the cavalry division of Von Mülbe’s
reserve corps, to say nothing of the infantry and artillery; and the
movement would, doubtless, have come to naught. A movement against the
communications of the Crown Prince could have been made only _via_ the
valley of the Oder, where it could have been effectually opposed. But
it is certain that after the battle of Königgrätz the Austrians had
it in their power to balk the advance of Von Moltke by operating with
cavalry against his communications. In this case the raiders would have
been operating in their own country, and among a friendly population;
the railways could have been cut without difficulty, and the cavalry
could have retreated without serious danger of being intercepted. The
effect upon the invading army does not admit of doubt. We have seen
that, with unobstructed communications, the Prussian army was subjected
to no slight distress, after the battle of Münchengrätz, for want of
rations. Even two days after peace had been agreed upon, the Austrian
garrison of Theresienstadt, ignorant of the termination of the war,
by a successful sally destroyed the railway bridge near Kralup. The
line of communication of the Prussians with the secondary base of
supplies at Turnau was thus broken; and, though hostilities were at
an end, the invaders were subjected to much inconvenience. It is easy
to imagine what would have been the effect upon the Prussians during
their advance to the Danube, if a Stuart, a Forrest or a Grierson had
operated against the railways upon which the supply of the invading
army necessarily depended.

Nor were the raiding opportunities altogether on the side of the
Austrians. The Prague-Olmütz line of railway, of the most vital
importance to Von Benedek, ran parallel to the Silesian frontier,
and in close proximity to it. This line of railway should have been
a tempting object to a raiding column of cavalry. If it had been cut
at any point near Böhmisch-Trübau, the Austrian army would have been
in sore straits for supplies. Vigorous and determined cavalry raids
against the railroad between Böhmisch-Trübau and Olmütz would surely
have been productive of good results, even if the road had not been
cut; for Von Benedek was extremely solicitous about his communications
in this part of the theater (as is shown by his long detention of the
IId Corps in this region), and an alert and enterprising raider might
have found means of detaining from the main Austrian army a force much
larger than his own.

But neither the Austrian nor the Prussian cavalry was so armed as to
be able to make raiding movements with much hope of success. Cavalry
without the power of using effective fire-action can never accomplish
anything of importance on a raid; for a small force of hostile infantry
can easily thwart its objects. The dragoon regiments were armed with
the carbine, it is true, but they seem to have been studiously taught
to feel a contempt for its use. At Tischnowitz (on the advance from
Königgrätz to Brünn) a Prussian advanced-guard, consisting of dragoons,
kept off a large force of Austrian cavalry by means of carbine fire,
until the arrival of reinforcements enabled the dragoons to charge
with the saber. According to Hozier, the Austrian cavalry pulled up
sharply, “half surprised, half frightened, to find that a carbine could
be of any use, except to make noise or smoke, in the hands of a mounted
man.” Yet nothing seems to have been learned from this incident, and
it was not until a brigade of German cavalry, consisting of three
regiments, was stopped at the village of Vibray, in December, 1870,
by a bare dozen of riflemen, and the Uhlans were everywhere forced to
retire before the undisciplined _Francs-tireurs_, that the necessity of
fire-action on the part of all cavalry was forced home to the Germans.
Even yet the strategical value of the American cavalry raids seems
to be under-estimated by European military critics, who seem also to
regard anything like extensive fire-action on the part of cavalry as
scarcely short of military heresy. Von der Goltz says: “Much has been
spoken in modern times of far-reaching excursions of great masses of
cavalry in the flank and rear of the enemy, which go beyond the object
of intelligence, and have for their aim the destruction of railways,
telegraph wires, bridges, magazines and depots. The American War of
Secession made us familiar with many such ‘raids,’ on which the names
of a Stuart, an Ashby, a Morgan and others, attained great renown.
But, in attempting to transfer them to our theaters of war, we must
primarily take into consideration the different nature, civilization
and extent of the most European countries, but more especially those
of the west. Then, regard must be paid to the different constitution
of the forces. If a squadron of horse, improvised by a partisan, was
defeated in such an enterprise, or if, when surrounded by the enemy, it
broke itself up, that was of little consequence. It was only necessary
that it was first paid for by some successes. Quite a different
impression would be caused by the annihilation of one of our cavalry
regiments, that by history and tradition is closely bound up with the
whole army, and which, when once destroyed, cannot so easily rise again
as can a volunteer association of adventurous farmers’ sons.

“The thorough organization of the defensive power of civilized nations
is also a preventive to raids. Even when the armies have already
marched away, squadrons of horse can, in thickly populated districts,
with a little preparation, be successfully repulsed by levies. The
French _Francs-tireurs_ in the western departments attacked our
cavalry, as soon as they saw it isolated.”

With all deference to the great military writer here quoted, it is
impossible to concede that he has grasped the true idea of cavalry
raids. The slight esteem in which he holds “a volunteer association
of adventurous farmers’ sons” is not surprising, for Europeans have
rarely formed a just idea of American volunteers, and the effective
fire-action of the American cavalry seems to be taken by foreign
critics as proof positive that those troops were not _cavalry_, but
merely mounted infantry--a view not shared by those who participated in
the saber charges of Merritt, Custer and Devin. As to the annihilation
of a Prussian cavalry regiment, there should be no objection to the
annihilation of any regiment, however rich it may be in glorious
history and tradition, provided that the emergency demands it, and the
results obtained be of sufficient value to justify the sacrifice. Von
Bredow’s charge at Mars-la-Tour was deemed well worth the sacrifice of
two superb cavalry regiments; yet the results obtained by that famous
charge certainly were not greater than those achieved by Van Dorn in
the capture of Holly Springs. The former is supposed to have stopped
a dangerous French attack; the latter is known to have checked a
Federal campaign at its outset. Even had Van Dorn’s entire force been
captured or slain (instead of escaping without loss) the result would
have justified the sacrifice. Nor is the danger of annihilation great,
if the cavalry be properly armed and trained. That cavalry untrained
in fire-action can be successfully repulsed by levies, in thickly
populated districts, is undoubtedly true; but such cavalry as that
which, under Wilson, dismounted and carried entrenchments by a charge
on foot, would hardly be stopped by such troops as _Francs-tireurs_ or
any other hasty levies that could be raised in a country covered with
villages. Superior mobility should enable cavalry to avoid large forces
of infantry, and it should be able to hold its own against any equal
force of opposing cavalry or infantry. The objections of Von der Goltz
and Prince Hohenlohe to raids by large bodies of cavalry, lose their
force if we consider the cavalry so armed and trained as to be capable
of effective fire-action. When cavalry is so armed and organized as to
make it possible for Prince Hohenlohe to state that a cavalry division
of six regiments “could put only 1,400 carbines into the firing line,”
and that “in a difficult country it could have no chance against even a
battalion of infantry decently well posted,” we must acknowledge that a
respectable raid is out of the question.

We do not find, in 1866, the cavalry pushed forward as a strategic
veil covering the operations of the army. On the contrary we find the
cavalry divisions kept well to the rear, and the divisional cavalry
alone entrusted with reconnoissance duty, which it performed in
anything but an efficient manner. At Trautenau, Von Bonin’s cavalry
does not seem to have followed the retreat of Mondl, or to have
discovered the approach of Von Gablentz. If it was of any use whatever,
the fact is not made apparent in history. At Nachod, Steinmetz’s
cavalry did better, and gave timely warning of the approach of the
enemy; but generally, throughout the campaign, the Prussian cavalry
did not play a part of much importance either in screening or
reconnoitering. It profited greatly by its experience, however, and
in the Franco-German war we find it active, alert, ubiquitous, and
never repeating the drowsy blunder committed when it allowed Frederick
Charles unwittingly to bivouac within four miles and a half of Von
Benedek’s entire army, or the inertness shown when it permitted the
Austrian army to escape from all touch, sight or hearing, for three
days, after the battle of Königgrätz.

On the part of the Austrians, the cavalry was even more negligent
and inefficient. Outpost and reconnoissance duties were carelessly
performed; and Von Benedek was greatly hampered by a want of timely
and correct information of the enemy’s movements. In only one instance
does the Austrian cavalry seem to have been used profitably; namely, in
covering the retreat of the defeated army at Königgrätz. In the words
of Hozier: “Although operations had been conducted in its own country,
where every information concerning the Prussian movements could have
been readily obtained from the inhabitants, the Austrian cavalry had
made no raids against the flank or rear of the advancing army, had
cut off no ammunition or provision trains, had broken up no railway
communications behind the marching columns, had destroyed no telegraph
lines between the front and the base of supplies, had made no sudden
or night attacks against the outposts so as to make the weary infantry
stand to their arms and lose their night’s rest, and, instead of
hovering around the front and flanks to irritate and annoy the pickets,
had been rarely seen or fallen in with, except when it had been marched
down upon and beaten up by the Prussian advanced-guards.” Surely it
needed all the energy and valor shown in the last hours of Königgrätz
to atone, in even a small degree, for such inefficiency.

       *       *       *       *       *

The full offensive value of artillery was not yet understood in any
army; and it is not surprising to notice in this campaign the utter
absence of the tactics which, in the war with France, brought the
German guns almost up to the skirmish line, and kept them actively
engaged at close range until the end of the battle. It is, however,
amazing to observe the slowness and general inefficiency of the
Prussian artillery in every action. At Trautenau, though there were 96
guns belonging to Von Bonin’s corps, only 32 were brought into action,
while 42 remained in the immediate vicinity without firing a shot. The
remaining 22 guns do not seem to have reached the field at all. At
Soor the Austrians brought 64 guns into action; but of the 72 guns of
the Prussians, only 18 were brought into action from first to last. At
Nachod, Skalitz and Gitschin it is the same story--plenty of Prussian
artillery, but only a small portion of the guns brought into action,
and those without appreciable effect.

Prince Hohenlohe says that in the entire campaign “the Prussian
artillery, which numbered as many pieces as its adversary, had only
once been able to obtain the numerical superiority. It had, on all
occasions, fought against forces two, three, or even four times
superior in number.” At Königgrätz the Prussian artillery was handled
with surprising feebleness. The Crown Prince finally succeeded in
bringing to bear on the Austrian right a force of artillery superior
in numbers to that opposed to him; but, even in this case, his guns
accomplished but little. As to the artillery of Frederick Charles,
it practically accomplished nothing at all; and it was scarcely of
more use on the Bistritz than it would have been in Berlin. From the
beginning to the end of the battle, the Austrians had everywhere a
decided superiority of artillery fire, except only in the one case on
their right.

The Prussian Staff History says, in regard to the engagement south of
the Sadowa wood: “A want of unity in the direction of the artillery
was painfully evident on this part of the field. Two commandants of
regiments were on the spot, but the eleven batteries then present
belonged to five different artillery divisions, some of them to the
divisional artillery and some to the reserve. This accounts for the
want of unity of action at this spot; some batteries advanced perfectly
isolated, whilst others retired behind the Bistritz at the same time.”
To this Colonel Home adds: “A great deal of this was due to the fact
that the guns came into action on one side of a small, muddy, stream,
over which there were very few bridges, and across which bridges might
have been thrown with ease, while the wagons remained on the other.” It
may be further added, that the Prussian artillery seems to have been
unduly afraid of encountering infantry fire, and to have had a bad
habit of withdrawing to refit and to renew its ammunition. It is said
of the Prussian artillery, that “they planted themselves here and there
among the reserves, and never found places anywhere to engage.”[22]
On the march the artillery was kept too far to the rear, and, owing
to its inefficient action, the infantry, long before the close of the
campaign, generally showed a disposition to despise its help, and to
hurry into action without it, crowding the roads, and refusing to
let the guns pass. Much had been expected of their artillery by the
Prussians, and its feeble action was a severe disappointment to them.
It is to the glory of the Prussians that they were quick to fathom
the causes of the inefficiency of their artillery, and that they were
able, in four years, to replace the impotence of Königgrätz with the
annihilating “circle of fire” of Sedan.

The Austrians far surpassed their adversaries in the skill and
effectiveness with which they used their artillery. The superiority of
the French artillery had largely contributed to the Austrian disasters
in Italy seven years before, and the lesson had not been forgotten.
From the beginning of the Campaign of 1866, the Austrian artillery was
an important factor in every engagement, and at Königgrätz it was
handled superbly. But, in every case, it was used defensively, and the
Austrian artillerists originated no new tactical features, and taught
no lessons that could not have been learned from Gettysburg, Malvern
Hill, Solferino, or even Wagram.

       *       *       *       *       *

The concentration of the Prussian armies preparatory to hostilities
was made partly by marching, and partly by railroad transportation.
The work accomplished by the railroads may, perhaps, be best expressed
in the words of the Prussian Staff History: “The whole of the marches
and of the railway movements were so arranged by the General Staff,
in harmony with the railway department, that in their execution, in
which both the military and civil powers were concerned, no impediments
or delays could occur. The result of these arrangements was, that in
the twenty-one days allowed, 197,000 men, 55,000 horses, and 5,300
wagons were transported for distances varying between 120 and 300
miles, without any failure, and in such a manner that they attained the
required spots at the very hour requisite.” Prussia was thus enabled,
in the short space of three weeks, to place 325,000 men on the hostile
frontiers, of which number 267,000 were ready for operations against
Austria. Yet, great as this achievement was, it shows that the Prussian
military system had not yet reached the perfection shown in 1870, when
nineteen days sufficed for the mobilization of an army of 440,000
Germans, and its concentration on the frontier of France.

Further than in the matter of mobilization and concentration, the use
of railways in the Austro-Prussian war presented no new features. In
the matter of supplying armies in the field, the small area of the
theater of war, and the inertness of the cavalry, were such that it
is almost impossible to make a comparison of the use of railways in
this campaign with the use of the same means of transport in the War
of Secession. If we imagine a Prussian army pushing entirely through
the Austrian Empire, to the vicinity of Belgrade, and dependent for its
supplies on a single line of railway, back to a base on the Prussian
frontier; and if we imagine, moreover, that the Austrian cavalry
possessed vigilance, enterprise, good firearms and modern ideas,
instead of being a mere military anachronism, we can picture a parallel
to Sherman’s Atlanta campaign.

       *       *       *       *       *

In regard to the use of the electric telegraph by the Prussians,
Hamley says: “The telegraphic communication between the two Prussian
armies invading Bohemia in 1866 was not maintained up to the battle
of Königgrätz: had it been, and had the situation on both sides been
fully appreciated, their joint attack might have been so timed as
to obviate the risk of separate defeat which the premature onset of
Prince Frederick Charles’ army entailed.” Yet Hozier describes in
glowing terms the equipment of Frederick Charles’ telegraph train,
and speaks with somewhat amusing admiration of the feat of placing
the Prince’s headquarters, at the castle of Grafenstein, in direct
telegraphic communication with Berlin, though the castle was five
miles from the nearest permanent telegraph station. With each of the
Prussian armies was a telegraph train, provided with the wire and other
material requisite for the construction of forty miles of line. Yet,
though communication was opened between the Crown Prince and Frederick
Charles early on June 30th; though there were three days in which
to construct a telegraph line; though the headquarters at Gitschin,
Kamenitz and Königinhof could have been put in direct communication
without exhausting much more than half the capacity of a single
telegraph train, the Prussians neglected even to preserve telegraphic
communications to the rear of their armies (and thus with each other
_via_ Berlin), and, as we have seen, staked their success upon the safe
delivery of a message carried by a courier, over an unknown road, on a
night of pitchy darkness. Here again a valuable lesson might have been
learned from the Americans.[23]

       *       *       *       *       *

Though the War of Secession was begun without military preparation on
either side; though its earlier operations sometimes presented features
that would have been ludicrous but for the earnestness and valor
displayed, and the mournful loss of life which resulted; our armies
and generals grew in excellence as the war continued; and before the
close of the conflict, the art of war had reached a higher development
in America than it attained in Europe in 1866, and, in some respects,
higher than it reached in 1870.

Notwithstanding the excellent organization, the superior arms and
thorough preparation of the Prussian armies; notwithstanding the genius
of Von Moltke and the intelligence and energy of his subordinates,
the prime cause of Austrian failure is found in the neglect of the
Austrian generals to watch the development of the art of war on our
side of the Atlantic. Had they profited by our experience, their
infantry, on one side of the theater of operations, would have been
able, behind entrenchments, to contain many more than their own numbers
of the Prussians; and Von Benedek, profiting by his interior lines,
could then have thrown superior numbers against the other armies of
his adversary. Opposing the Prussian columns with heavy skirmish
lines constantly reinforced from the rear, the men of the firing line
availing themselves of the cover afforded by the ground, he would have
neutralized, by superior tactics, the superior arms of his opponent.
His cavalry, instead of using the tactics of a by-gone age, would have
been used, in part, in cutting the Prussian communications, bringing
their advance to a halt, gaining time for him, when time was of
priceless value, and enabling him to seize the initiative.

Possibly the war might, nevertheless, have resulted in Prussian
success; for Von Moltke has always shown a power to solve quickly,
and in the most perfect manner, any problem of war with which he has
been confronted, while Von Benedek had only the half-development of
a general possessing tactical skill without strategical ability.
But the great Prussian strategist would have failed in his first
plan of campaign, and he could have been successful only when, like
his opponent, he availed himself of the new developments in warfare
illustrated by the American campaigns. The Seven Weeks’ War would have
been at least a matter of months; Austria would not have been struck
down at a single blow; other nations might have been drawn into the
prolonged conflict, and the entire history of Europe might have been



[1] These guns were classed, not according to the weight of the
projectile, but according to the diameter of the bore. Thus the gun
firing a 15-lb. shell was rated as a 6-pdr., because the diameter of
its bore was the same as that of a 6-pdr. smooth-bore gun.

[2] See frontispiece map.

[3] It may be of assistance to the reader, in the following pages, to
note that the divisions in the Prussian army are numbered consecutively
throughout the several army corps. Thus, the Ist Corps consists of the
1st and 2d Divisions; the IId Corps, of the 3d and 4th Divisions; the
VIth Corps, of the 11th and 12th Divisions, and so on.

[4] Derrécagaix and the Prussian Official History both condemn Von
Clausewitz’s delay. Adams, however, finds an excuse for it. He says:
“The first question that arises is, should Clausewitz have occupied
Trautenau? Mondl was up, in all probability, and he would have been
deeply engaged before Grossmann [commanding the right column] came
up, against orders. He could not have been acquainted with the
situation, for Bonin himself was not, and it is difficult, therefore,
to attach blame to him. The cause of Grossmann’s delay is said to
have been the hilly character of the road. Mondl, on the other hand,
reaching Hohenbrück about 7:30, seems to have halted there to form.
The Austrian official account states that he had occupied the heights
since 9:15, and before this he had reached Hohenbrück at 7:45. When
he had formed--that is to say, waited to mass his brigade before
deploying--the position must have been taken up by him between 8:30 and
9:15. Had Clausewitz advanced, it would have taken three-quarters of
an hour to debouch in force south of Trautenau, so that he would have
had to continue his march without halting to cross the Aupa, and push
forward from Trautenau, contrary to orders, in order to engage Mondl on
the very strong ground he by that time had fully occupied.

“Probably the latter was informed ... that no immediate danger was
impending, or he would not have waited leisurely to form. The first
duty of the advance, on coming into collision with the enemy, is to
occupy rapidly such localities as may prove of use in the impending

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the heights were unoccupied when
Von Clausewitz arrived at Parschnitz; and it was _his_ duty, as well
as that of Mondl, on coming into collision with the enemy, to occupy
rapidly such localities as might have proved of use in the impending
action. As to engaging Mondl “on the very strong ground he by that
time had fully occupied,” it is sufficient to state that he had only a
brigade, while Von Clausewitz had a division. A subordinate commander
assumes a grave responsibility when he violates or exceeds his orders;
but it is hardly to be expected that an able division commander will
fetter himself by observing the strict letter of an order, when he
knows, and his superior does not know, that the condition of affairs
in his front is such as to offer an opportunity for a successful and
valuable stroke, even though that stroke be not contemplated in the
orders of his chief. Von Alvensleben understood matters better when
he marched without orders to assist Von Fransecky at Königgrätz.
If a division commander were never expected to act upon his own
responsibility when a movement is urged by his own common sense, it is
evident that the position of general of division could be filled by a
man of very limited abilities.

[5] “While this was going on a staff-officer ... of General
Beauregard’s headquarters ... came up to General Bragg and said,
‘The General directs that the pursuit be stopped; the victory is
sufficiently complete; it is needless to expose our men to the fire
of the gun-boats.’ General Bragg said, ‘My God! was a victory ever
sufficiently complete?’”--_Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol.
I., p. 605._

[6] The above criticism on the delay of Frederick Charles is based
mainly on the comments of Major Adams, in his “Great Campaigns in
Europe.” Hozier, who, in the main, follows the Prussian Staff History
of the war, has nothing but praise for the Prince. The absence of
adverse criticism on the action of Frederick Charles in the Prussian
Official History is, perhaps, explained by the high military and
social position of that general. Adams seems to think that a forward
movement by Frederick Charles would have caused Clam-Gallas to abandon
Münchengrätz at once, and does not seem to consider that if the
Austro-Saxons had not been dislodged, Clam-Gallas would have had the
Prussian communications by the throat, while covering his own, and
that this advantage might have compensated him for his separation from
Von Benedek. It may be urged in objection to these comments, that
Frederick Charles did not know the exact condition of affairs in his
front at the time. To this it may be replied that ability to appreciate
a strategical advantage, and power to form a correct estimate of the
enemy’s dispositions, are a test of a general’s merits as a strategist.
McClellan is not excused for believing that, when Lee was attacking
his right at Gaines’ Mill, the enemy was in strong force between the
Federal army and Richmond; and Hamley is not gentle in his comments on
Napoleon’s failure to estimate correctly the force and dispositions
of the Prussians at Jena; though, being an Englishman, he does not
hesitate to adopt another standard of criticism when he finds it
necessary to defend Wellington for his error in leaving at Hal 17,000
men so sorely needed at Waterloo.--[See Hamley’s “Operations of War,”
p. 94 _et seq._, and p. 198].

[7] It should be remembered that, in addition to the four corps
immediately opposed to the Crown Prince, the IIId and IId Austrian
Corps were at Von Benedek’s disposal; the latter being scarcely more
than two marches distant from Josephstadt.

[8] At the battle of Königgrätz, Frederick Charles had 123,918 men.
His losses at Gitschin aggregated 2,612 men. It seems, therefore, that
130,000 men is a high estimate of the maximum force which he would have
been able to oppose to Von Benedek at Gitschin, had the latter made a
junction with Clam-Gallas at that point.

[9] Col. C. B. Brackenbury, R. A., who accompanied the Austrian
headquarters during the campaign, says that on one occasion he heard
Von Benedek say, hotly, to his disputing staff, “For God’s sake do
something!” and mentions the following incident: “After the battles of
Nachod and Trautenau the second officer of the Intelligence Department
examined all the prisoners, and obtained clear information of the
whereabouts of all the columns of the Crown Prince, then struggling
through the mountain passes. He wrote his report and took it to the
officer who had been sent to Benedek to decide the strategy of the
campaign. At that time several Austrian corps were close by. The
General looked at the paper and had all the facts explained to him. He
then dismissed the Captain, who, however, remained and said, probably
in that tone of distrust which prevailed, ‘Now, Herr General, I have
shown you that the Crown Prince can be beaten in detail if attacked by
our great force within half a day’s march; may I ask what you propose
to do with the Austrian army?’ The General replied, ‘I shall send it
against Prince Frederick Charles.’ The Captain put his hands together
in an attitude of supplication and said, ‘For God’s sake, sir, do
not,’ but was ordered out of the room. I did not know this fact when
Benedek said, the day after the defeat of Königgrätz, ‘Did you ever
see such a fine army so thrown away?’”--“_Field Works_,” by Col. C. B.
Brackenbury, R. A., p. 205 and note.

[10] Gitschin, Jung Buntzlau, and Libau are shown on Map No. 6. The
positions of the other places here mentioned are, in reference to
Gitschin, as follows: Aulibitz, nearly 4 miles east; Chotec, about
7-1/2 miles east; Konetzchlum, about 6-1/2 miles east-south-east;
Milicowes, about 4-1/2 miles south-south-east; Podhrad, about 2 miles
south-west; Robaus, about 2 miles east; Dworetz, near, and north of,

[11] It is interesting to note the growth of great generals under the
influence of their actual experience in war. The Frederick of Rossbach
and Leuthen was very different from the Frederick of Mollwitz. In 1796
we find Napoleon calling a council of war before hazarding a second
attempt upon Colli’s position at St. Michel, and showing, even in
that vigorous and brilliant campaign, a hesitation never shown by the
Napoleon of Ulm and Austerlitz. The Grant of Vicksburg was not the
Grant of Shiloh; and Lee at Chancellorsville and Petersburg does not
seem like the same commander who conducted the impotent campaign of
1861 in West Virginia. The old saying, “Great generals are born, not
made,” is not altogether true. It would be more correct to say, “Great
generals are born, and then made.”

[12] The author’s own observations of the topography of the field
correspond, in the main, with the description given above. The
Bistritz, however, is not such a formidable obstacle as one might
infer from the description quoted. At the village of Sadowa it is a
mere ditch, not much larger than some of the _acequias_ in Colorado or
Utah. It is perhaps eight feet wide and three feet in depth. It could
hardly have been an obstacle to infantry. Its muddy bottom and marshy
banks doubtless rendered it a considerable obstacle for artillery, but
the eight villages through which it flows, within the limits of the
battle field, certainly could have furnished abundant material for
any number of small bridges required for crossing it. In the vicinity
of Nechanitz, the Bistritz, having received the waters of a tributary
creek, becomes a true obstacle, as it spreads out to a width of about
thirty yards, and the banks are swampy. It should be remarked that at
the time of the author’s visit to Königgrätz, there had been very heavy
rains, and the condition of the stream was probably the same as on the
day of the battle.

[13] A sketch of these operations is given in the appendices.

[14] The strength of the Union army at Gettysburg was 78,043. The
Confederate army numbered about 70,000. The Union army lost 3,072
killed, and 14,497 wounded. The Confederates lost 2,592 killed, and
12,709 wounded. In comparing the losses of Gettysburg with those of
Königgrätz, no account is here taken of the “missing” in either the
Union or the Confederate losses; though the missing (exclusive of
prisoners) are figured in with the killed and wounded of the Prussian
and Austrian armies. The figures in regard to Gettysburg are taken from
the tables (compiled from official records) in “Battles and Leaders of
the Civil War.” The figures in regard to Königgrätz are taken from the
Prussian Official History.

[15] See page 70.

[16] Although the above comment coincides in its main features with the
criticism of Hozier on the same subject, it is based upon the author’s
own observation of the views of the field afforded from the church
tower of Chlum, and from Von Benedek’s position near Lipa.

[17] For example, the formation of Sedgwick’s division at Antietam,
Meade’s at Fredericksburg, Pickett’s at Gettysburg, and Sheridan’s at

[18] See the interesting comments of General J. D. Cox on the assaults
in column at Kenesaw Mountain, p. 129, Vol. IX., (“Atlanta”),
Scribner’s “Army and Navy in the Civil War.”

[19] The following remarks of Captain F. N. Maude, R. E., on “The
Tactics of the American War” sustain the views expressed above, and are
interesting as showing an able English military critic’s appreciation
of the advanced tactical development of the American armies:

“It is curious to note how little attention has been devoted to the
study of the fighting of this most bloody of modern wars; and yet it
would seem that the records of these campaigns fought out to the bitter
end by men of our own Anglo-Saxon races, would be a far more likely
source of information, from which to deduce the theory of an attack
formation specially designed to meet our needs, than the histories
of struggles between French and Germans, or Russians and Turks. Von
Moltke is reported to have said that ‘nothing was to be learnt from
the struggle of two armed mobs.’ If that is really the case, which we
venture to doubt exceedingly, the great strategist must ere this have
been sorry he ever spoke, for, armed mobs or not, both Southern and
Northern troops bore, and bore victoriously, a per centage of loss
before which even the best disciplined troops in Germany, the Prussian
Guard Corps, failed to make headway. It is of no relevance to the
argument to say that the breech-loader was not then in use. When a man
is hard hit himself, or sees his comrade rolled over, it never enters
his head to consider whether the hit was scored by muzzle-loader or
breech-loader; the fact itself, that he or the other man is down, is
the only one he concerns himself with, and when the percentage of hits
in a given time rises high enough, the attack collapses equally, no
matter against what weapon it may be delivered.

“Actually, though the armament was inferior, the per centage of hits
was frequently far higher than in breech-loading campaigns. There is no
action on record during recent years in which the losses rose so high,
and in so short a time, as in the American fights.”

After a brief description of Meagher’s attack at Fredericksburg, and
Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, Captain Maude continues:

“Surely, Moltke never spoke of such gallant soldiers as an armed mob,
seeing that they succeeded in driving an attack home against four
times the per centage of loss that stopped the Prussian guard at St.
Privat.... And assuming, for the moment, that the saying attributed to
him is really true, we cannot help fancying that he must have often
bitterly regretted it when watching his own men in the manœuvers of
late years, attacking in what is really, practically the same formation
which the armed mobs worked out for themselves.

“The points of contrast between ourselves and the Americans are far
too numerous to be dismissed without comment. They began the war with
a drill book and system modeled on our own, and they carried it out to
its conclusion, with only a few modifications of detail, but none of
principle. The normal prescribed idea of an attack appears to have been
as follows: A line of scouts, thickened to skirmishers according to the
requirements of the ground; from 2 to 300 paces in rear, the 1st line,
two deep, precisely like our own, then in rear a 2d line and reserve.
Of course, their lines did not advance with the steady precision of our
old peninsula battalions. Their level of instruction was altogether
too low, and besides, the extent of fire-swept ground had greatly
increased. Eye witnesses say that after the first few yards, the line
practically dissolved itself into a dense line of skirmishers, who
threw themselves forward generally at a run as far as their momentum
would carry them; sometimes, if the distance was short, carrying the
position at the first rush, but more generally the heavy losses brought
them to a halt and a standing fire fight ensued. They knew nothing of
Scherff’s great principle, on which the ‘Treffen Abstande’ or distances
between the lines are based, but they generally worked it out in
practice pretty successfully. The second line came up in the best order
they could and carried the wreck of the first on with them; if they
were stopped, the reserve did the same for them, and either broke too,
or succeeded.

       *       *       *       *       *

“It will be seen that except in its being more scientifically put
together, this German attack is, practically, precisely similar to
that employed by the Americans, with the sole difference that the
breech-loader has conferred on the assailants the advantage of being
able to make a more extended use of their weapons, and has reduced to a
certain extent the disadvantage of having to halt.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Had we, in 1871, been thoroughly well informed as to the methods
employed across the Atlantic, we should have seen at once that the new
weapons did not necessarily entail any alteration in principle in our
drill book, and with a little alteration in detail, have attained at
one bound to a point of efficiency not reached even in Germany till
several years after the war.”--“_Tactics and Organization_,” by Capt.
F. N. Maude, R. E., p. 299, _et seq._

[20] See pp. 42 and 78.

[21] In Clery’s “Minor Tactics” occurs the following astonishing
passage: “The use made of entrenchments by the Turks was not the least
remarkable feature of the war of 1877. Field works, as aids in defense,
had been used with advantage in previous wars, but no similar instance
exists of an impregnable system of earthworks being improvised under
the very noses of the enemy.” Col. Clery’s book is an evidence of his
intelligent study and thorough knowledge of European military history;
yet, as late as 1885, this professor of tactics at the Royal Military
College at Sandhurst seems not to have heard of Johnston’s works at
Kenesaw Mountain, or the fortifications constructed at Spottsylvania
and Petersburg.

[22] May’s “Tactical Retrospect.”

[23] For a description of the American military telegraph, see Grant’s
Memoirs, Vol. II., p. 205, _et seq._ See also the comments on the
military telegraph, in Sherman’s Memoirs, Vol. II., p. 398.



The day after the battle of Königgrätz was occupied by the Prussians in
resting their fatigued troops, and in separating the mingled corps and
detachments of the different armies. Late in the afternoon the first
movements in advance began.

The fortresses of Josephstadt and Königgrätz were still in the hands
of the Austrians. They were well garrisoned, and could only be taken
by siege. Both were summoned to surrender, and both refused. These
fortresses were of the greatest importance, as they commanded the line
of railway on which the Prussians depended for supplies, and controlled
the passage of the Elbe in the vicinity of the battle field. Strong
detachments were, therefore, left to mask the fortresses, and on the
5th of July the Prussian armies marched to Pardubitz and Przelautsch,
at which points they crossed the Elbe. A division of Landwehr was sent
to Prague, which city surrendered, without resistance, on the 8th of
July. The Prussians were thus able to open communications with the rear
by rail, _via_ Pardubitz, Prague, Turnau and Reichenberg, in spite of
the fortresses of Theresienstadt, Königgrätz and Josephstadt.

After the battle of Königgrätz all touch with the Austrians had been
lost, and for three days the Prussians were completely in the dark
as to the direction taken by the retreating army. On July 6th it was
learned that Von Benedek, with the greater portion of his army, had
retreated upon Olmütz.

After the battle two lines of retreat were open to Von Benedek. It was
desirable to retreat upon Vienna, for the double purpose of protecting
the city, and effecting a junction with the victorious troops,
withdrawn from Italy for the defense of the capital.[24] But Vienna
was 135 miles distant; the army had been heavily defeated; and there
was danger that a retreat of such a distance would degenerate into a
demoralized rout. Olmütz was only half as far away; its fortress would
afford the necessary protection for reorganizing and resting the army;
and its position on the flank of the Prussians would be a serious
menace to their communications, in case of their advance on Vienna. Von
Benedek, therefore, retreated upon Olmütz, sending the Xth Corps by
rail to Vienna, and the greater part of his cavalry by ordinary roads
to the same point.

The situation was now favorable to Von Moltke. He had the advantage
of interior lines, and he did not hesitate to make use of them. Yet
the problem was by no means devoid of difficulties. The Austrian
army at Olmütz was still formidable in numbers; the extent of its
demoralization was not known; the Austrian troops had a high reputation
for efficiency, and for a capacity to present an undaunted front after
a defeat; and it was thought possible that Von Benedek might assume
the offensive. To leave such a formidable army unopposed on his flank
was not to be thought of; yet it was desirable to reach Vienna before
the arrival at that city of the troops recalled from Italy, or, at any
rate, before a considerable army could be concentrated for the defense
of the capital. A division of the Prussian forces was, therefore,
necessary. The Army of the Elbe and the First Army were directed upon
Vienna: the former to move _via_ Iglau and Znaym; the latter, _via_
Brünn. The Crown Prince was directed upon Olmütz to watch Von Benedek.
There were three courses open to the Austrian commander: 1. To attack
the flank of the First Army, between Olmütz and Vienna; 2. To withdraw
rapidly to the capital; 3. To attack the Crown Prince. In the first
case, the First Army would be supported by the Army of the Elbe, and
the combined forces would be able to take care of themselves. In the
second case, the Crown Prince was to attack the retiring army and
harass its march. In the third case, the Crown Prince, who, though
inferior in numbers, was superior in _morale_, might be more than
a match for the Austrians. In case of defeat, however, he was to
retreat into Silesia, where he would have the support of the Prussian
fortresses; while Von Moltke, freed from Von Benedek, could seize the
Austrian capital and command peace.

On July 7th the cavalry of the Second Army recovered touch with the
Austrians, and there was some skirmishing with their rear guards.

On July 8th the Austrian government made overtures for an armistice
of not less than eight weeks, nor more than three months; as a
condition to which the fortresses of Königgrätz and Josephstadt were
to be surrendered. The proposition was rejected by the Prussians, who
continued to advance.

Von Benedek was relieved from the chief command of the Austrian army,
being superseded by Archduke Albrecht, who had won the victory of
Custozza over the Italians. Von Benedek retained command, however,
until the arrival of his army on the Danube. The Austrians were now
straining every nerve to assemble an army at Vienna. Leaving only one
corps and one division in Italy, the Archduke’s army had been recalled
from Venetia, and was proceeding, by rail and by forced marches, to the

On the 11th of July Von Benedek’s army was ordered to Vienna. This
army, after a continuous retreat of eight days duration, had just
completed its concentration at Olmütz; but the movement to Vienna
was begun without delay, the IIId Corps being sent on the day the
order was received. The withdrawal of the army from Olmütz to Vienna
was not an easy operation. The railway was, as yet, beyond the reach
of the Prussians; but the aid that it could lend was not great. It
was estimated that the withdrawal of the entire army by the single
line of railway would require a full month. Part of the troops were,
accordingly, hurried on by rail, and the bulk of the army was ordered
to march by the valley of the March to Pressburg. This was the most
direct route, and the one which offered the best roads for marching,
though by taking this line the Austrian army would expose a flank to
the attack of the Prussians. Above all things, celerity was necessary,
in order that the march might be completed without fatal interruption.
Von Benedek’s army marched in three echelons. The first, composed of
the IId and IVth Corps, with the greater part of the Saxon cavalry,
started on the 14th of July. The second, consisting of the VIIIth and
Ist Corps, left the next day; and the third, made up of the VIth Corps
and the Saxons, followed on the 16th.

The Austrian cavalry presented a bold front to the Prussian armies
moving on Vienna, and a sharp action was fought at Tischnowitz, on the
11th of July, between the cavalry of Frederick Charles’ advanced-guard
and a division of Austrian lancers, resulting in the defeat of the
latter. On the 12th Frederick Charles took possession of Brünn without
resistance. The next day, after some skirmishing with the Austrian
cavalry, the Army of the Elbe occupied Znaym.

After a rest of two days, the Army of the Elbe and the First Army
continued their march towards the Danube; the former being directed
towards Krems, the latter moving _via_ Nikolsburg.

The Austrian troops from Italy began to arrive at Vienna on the 14th
of July. In the meantime, the Crown Prince, hearing of Von Benedek’s
withdrawal from Olmütz, directed his march on Prerau, and, on the
14th, reached Prosnitz, about twelve miles south of Olmütz. The first
Austrian echelon, marching by the right bank of the March, just escaped
serious collision with the Crown Prince, the cavalry of the Second
Army skirmishing with the Saxon cavalry, and becoming engaged with a
battalion of infantry on the flank of the Austrian IId Corps.

On the following day Von Bonin, with the Ist Corps and Von Hartmann’s
cavalry division, attacked the second echelon of Von Benedek’s army,
and defeated it in the actions of Tobitschau and Rokienitz. As a result
of these actions, the right bank of the March was no longer available
for the Austrian retreat. Von Benedek had, however, succeeded in
slipping away from the Crown Prince, though at the expense of losing
his best and most direct road to Vienna.

Learning that large bodies of Austrians had been seen moving south
from Olmütz for some days, Von Moltke saw at once that it would
be impossible to bar Von Benedek’s path with the Second Army, and
immediately ordered the First Army to Lundenburg. The railway and
telegraph at Göding were cut by a detachment of Prussian cavalry, on
the 15th, and Frederick Charles occupied Lundenburg the next day.

This was a severe blow to Von Benedek, for he thus lost his railway
communication with Vienna, his march by the valley of the March was
headed by the Prussians, and he was compelled to make a detour by
crossing the Carpathian mountains and following the valley of the
Waag. To compensate, as far as possible, for the loss of the shorter
road, Von Benedek hastened his troops by forced marches. Von Moltke
did not deem it prudent to send the Second Army after Von Benedek
into the valley of the Waag, as communication between the Crown Prince
and Frederick Charles would thus be lost, and it was now desirable to
concentrate rather than separate. It was accordingly determined to
push forward with all available troops to the Danube. The Crown Prince
had already seen the impossibility of thwarting Von Benedek’s retreat,
and, as early as the 15th, had left the Ist Corps to mask Olmütz, had
directed the Vth Corps and a cavalry division to follow on the flank
of Von Benedek, and had pushed forward with the rest of his army upon
Brünn, where he arrived on the 17th. On the same day the Army of the
Elbe and the First Army were in the neighborhood of Nikolsburg.

On the 19th the heads of the Prussian armies were within less than two
days’ march of the Austrian capital, but part of the Prussian forces
were as far back as Brünn. Von Moltke did not know, to a certainty, how
much of Von Benedek’s army had been brought back from Olmütz before the
obstruction of the railway. A large part of it might already be in his
front; he knew that large bodies of troops had come in from Italy; the
fortifications of Florisdorf were extensive; and it seemed possible
that the Austrians might, by a last great effort, have assembled an
army large enough to enable them to push forward from Florisdorf, to
deliver battle on the Marchfeld for the defense of their capital.
With the double object of preparing to attack and being in readiness
to receive an attack, Von Moltke ordered the Army of the Elbe to
Wolkersdorf, the First Army to Wagram, and the Second Army in reserve
at Schönkirchen. The Prussian army was thus concentrated behind the
Russbach, in position to meet an attack of 150,000 Austrians from
Florisdorf; to reconnoiter and attack the Florisdorf entrenchments; or
to leave a corps of observation in front of them and push to the left
and seize Pressburg. The Second Army, with the exception of the Vth
Corps, was to be in position to support the other two by the 21st. The
Vth Corps was to be hurried up as rapidly as possible, in order that
the entire army might be concentrated for a decisive battle.

The only troops of Von Benedek’s army which had reached Vienna by
the 20th were the Xth and IIId Corps, part of the Saxons, and four
cavalry divisions, numbering altogether from 55,000 to 60,000 men. The
reinforcements from Italy which had arrived at the capital numbered
about 50,000 men.

Although the occupation of Pressburg was absolutely necessary to secure
the prompt junction of the divided Austrian armies, that important
point was held by only a single brigade. As soon as the Austrian IId
Corps had reached Tyrnau, its leading brigade was pushed forward
rapidly, in country carts, to reinforce the brigade at Pressburg,
and the rest of the corps hastened towards the same place by forced
marches. If Pressburg fell into the hands of the Prussians, the force
still with Von Benedek, constituting the bulk of his army, would not be
able to reach Vienna, and form a junction with the Archduke Albrecht,
except by making a long detour _via_ Komorn, and would probably be
delayed so long as to be helpless to prevent the capture of the capital.

On the 21st of July the Army of the Elbe and the First Army were in
position behind the Russbach, and the Second Army was drawing near, its
two advanced corps being not more than one day’s march distant. The
situation of the Austrians was critical. Their IId Corps had not yet
reached Pressburg, and that all-important point was still held by only
two brigades. The Ist, VIth and VIIIth Corps, and a division of Saxons,
had gotten no farther than Neustadtl and Trentschin, nearly sixty
miles from Pressburg. On the same day Von Fransecky, with the Prussian
IVth Corps and a cavalry division, crossed the March, in the vicinity
of Marchegg, advancing upon Pressburg. Everything portended to the
Austrians the loss of that valuable strategic point, and the consequent
cutting off of Von Benedek from Vienna. The Prussian army, numbering,
at least, 184,000 men, was concentrated and opposed to an army of not
more than 110,000 men, at most, at Vienna. The capture of the capital
seemed certain; and Von Moltke, with his forces augmented to 200,000
men, by the reinforcements that were pushing on to join him, could then
turn upon Von Benedek, and give a _coup de grace_ to the last remnant
of Austria’s military power.

At this junction, however, diplomacy stepped in, and, through the
mediation of France, a five days’ armistice, as a preliminary to peace,
was agreed upon; the armistice to go into effect at noon on the 22d of

[Illustration: VALLEY OF THE MAINE.]

On the 22d Von Fransecky struck the two Austrian brigades at Blumenau,
just in front of Pressburg. While everything was going in favor
of the Prussians, and they seemed to be not only on the point of
defeating the Austrians, but of capturing their entire force, the
hour of noon arrived; the armistice went into effect, the action was,
with difficulty, broken off, and, after the sudden termination of the
battle, both armies bivouacked on the field.

The preliminary terms of peace were signed at Nikolsburg on the 26th
of July, and definitely ratified at Prague on the 30th of August. The
orders for the withdrawal of the Prussian armies were issued on the
25th of August, and the Austrian territory was entirely evacuated by
them by the 20th of September.

By the terms of the treaty of peace, Venetia was ceded to Italy; the
old Germanic confederation was dissolved; Schleswig-Holstein became
the property of Prussia; Austria consented to the formation of a North
German Confederation, and a union of the South German States, from both
of which confederations she was to be excluded; and the defeated power
agreed to pay 40,000,000 Prussian thalers to the victor. From this sum,
however, 15,000,000 thalers were deducted as the price of the Austrian
claims to Schleswig-Holstein, and 5,000,000 thalers for the free
maintenance of the Prussian army in the Austrian provinces from the
preliminary truce to the final establishment of peace. Peace with the
German allies of Austria was made at about the same time. As a result
of the war, Prussia annexed the territories of Hanover, Hesse-Cassel,
Nassau and the free city of Frankfort. The population of the victorious
kingdom was increased by 4,285,700 people; and its area, by nearly
25,000 square miles of land.


[24] A brief sketch of the operations in Italy is given in Appendix III.



The surrender of the Hanoverian army at Langensalza, on June 29, 1866,
left Von Falckenstein free to operate against the armies of the South
German States. His army, now designated “The Army of the Maine,”
numbered 45,000 men and 97 guns.

Opposed to him were the Bavarian Corps, numbering 40,000 men and 136
guns, and the VIIIth Federal Corps, numbering 46,000 men and 134 guns.
The former, under the command of Prince Charles of Bavaria, had
concentrated at Schweinfurt; the latter, under the command of Prince
Alexander of Hesse, at Frankfort.

Having been informed that the Hanoverians were marching on Fulda,
Prince Charles began a forward movement, to effect a junction with
them at that point; but receiving later news to the effect that the
occupation of Hesse-Cassel had caused the Hanoverians to turn off
towards Mühlhausen, and that Prussian forces were concentrating at
Eisenach, he decided to direct his march more to the right, so as to
be able to operate either by way of Fulda or the Thuringian Forest
[_Thüringer Wald_], as circumstances might decide. The march of the
Bavarians was begun on June 22d; but much was wanting to complete their
organization and equipment, and their progress was so slow that on the
26th their most advanced division had only reached Neustadt, on the
Saale, scarcely twenty miles from Schweinfurt.

A prompt union of the separated forces of the allies was of the utmost
importance. Yet the most precious time was aimlessly wasted, and it
was not until June 26th that any definite steps were taken towards
effecting a junction of the Bavarians and the VIIIth Corps. On that day
Prince Charles and Prince Alexander held a conference, at which it was
decided to move forward and effect the junction of the two corps at
Hersfeld, about twenty-one miles north of Fulda. They overlooked the
important fact that they were twice as far away from the designated
point as the Prussians were.

Nothing but the most energetic action on the part of the allies could
overcome the disadvantages of their strategical situation. Yet Prince
Charles, learning that negotiations were being conducted between
the Hanoverians and the Prussians, delayed his march, evidently
losing confidence in the sincerity of his allies, and fearing that a
surrender of the Hanoverians might leave him to contend alone with
Von Falckenstein. For three days the Bavarians remained inactive;
then, hearing of the battle of Langensalza, Prince Charles advanced
towards Gotha. On June 30th the Bavarians had advanced to Meiningen,
Schleusingen and Hildburghausen, where they received news of the
surrender of the Hanoverian army. The VIIIth Corps, in the meantime,
had continued its march towards Hersfeld.

The march of Prince Charles towards Gotha had been utterly fruitless.
He had not only failed to assist the Hanoverians, but time had been
lost, and the direction of his march had carried him away from, instead
of towards, the VIIIth Corps. The latter corps was now at Friedburg,
more than 80 miles from Meiningen, and the problem of effecting a
junction now presented many difficulties. The union of the two corps
could have been easily and safely effected by falling back to the line
of the Maine; and this should have been done, though it was feared
that a retreat, at the beginning of the campaign, and before the enemy
had been seen, might have an injurious effect on the _morale_ of the
troops. To effect a junction without falling back would necessitate a
flank march of more than 80 miles, over difficult mountain roads, in
the immediate front of the enemy. Such a hazardous movement should not
have been undertaken except as a last resort.

Nevertheless, Prince Charles decided to form line at Meiningen,
facing Eisenach, hoping to join the VIIIth Corps _via_ Hilders-Fulda
and Geisa-Hünfeld, and requesting Prince Alexander to draw towards
him with all available forces, partly _via_ Hanau-Fulda-Hünfeld, and
partly by rail from Frankfort to Gemünden, and thence _via_ Hammelburg
to Kissingen. The commander of the VIIIth Corps consented to move on
Fulda, but did not see fit to send a force _via_ Kissingen to the
neighborhood of Schweinfurt, evidently for the military reason that he
did not wish to divide his force while executing a dangerous movement,
and for the political reason that the movement urged by Prince Charles,
while it would cover Bavaria, would expose the territories of the
contingents which composed the VIIIth Corps. Prince Charles showed a
disposition to ignore the interests of his allies; Prince Alexander
exhibited decided insubordination; both commanders displayed a lack of
military ability; and the want of hearty coöperation between the two
generals already portended disaster to the allied cause.

On July 1st the Bavarians concentrated at Meiningen, and began their
march to Fulda. Prince Alexander, marching east, occupied Lauterbach
and Alsfeld on July 3d. His force had been diminished by detachments
left on the Lahn, both to cover Frankfort from a possible attack from
the direction of Cassel, and to protect the flank and rear of the army
marching towards Fulda.

On July 3d a Bavarian advanced-guard found Dermbach in possession of
the Prussians, and was driven back with some loss. On the other hand,
a Prussian detachment was driven out of Wiesenthal. Von Falckenstein
had advanced from Eisenach on July 1st, and he was now in the immediate
front of the Bavarians; Von Beyer’s division in and around Geisa; Von
Goeben’s division at Dermbach, and Von Manteuffel’s division following
in reserve.

On July 4th one of Von Goeben’s brigades struck a Bavarian division
at Zella [about 3 miles south of Dermbach], and an indecisive action
followed. With his other brigade, Von Goeben attacked another Bavarian
division at Wiesenthal. Encountering considerable resistance, and
having no immediate supports at hand, Von Goeben gave orders for the
withdrawal of his troops, after an action of some hours’ duration. At
the same time the Bavarians retreated, and the field was abandoned by
both armies.

During this time the other Prussian divisions continued their march on
Fulda, Von Beyer reaching Hünfeld, near which place his advanced-guard
had a remarkable combat with the Bavarian reserve cavalry, which had
been sent from Schweinfurt towards Vacha, to open communications
with the VIIIth Corps. The Bavarian advanced-guard consisted of two
regiments of cuirassiers and a detachment of horse artillery. On
meeting the Prussians the Bavarians opened on them with grape. The
artillery with Von Beyer’s advanced-guard quickly came into action,
and opened fire with astonishing results; for the first shot from the
Prussian guns sent the Bavarians back in a wild panic, the confusion
being rapidly conveyed from the advanced-guard to the main body,
until the entire force (consisting of three brigades) broke into a
headlong stampede. Several regiments retreated as far as Brückenau and
Hammelburg, and many troopers did not draw rein until they arrived at
the Maine, many miles from the scene of action. Several days elapsed
before the cavalry could be rallied at Brückenau. In this case the
Bavarians could neither plead surprise nor heavy loss. They saw their
enemy in time to open fire on him first; and their total loss was only
28 men. Only a few shots, from two guns, were fired by the Prussians
before the Bavarian cavalry had scampered beyond reach of harm.

The simultaneous retreat of both armies from Wiesenthal reminds one of
the _fiasco_ at Big Bethel in 1861; and had the Bavarians remained on
the field at Hünfeld long enough to dot the ground thickly with dead
and wounded, their action there might be worthy of comparison with that
of our undisciplined levies at Bull Run.

After the combat at Wiesenthal, Von Falckenstein seems to have felt
considerable anxiety; for the next day he withdrew Von Goeben through
Dermbach, recalled Von Beyer to Geisa, and brought up Von Manteuffel
in close support. This concentration was evidently made with a view to
fighting a defensive battle; but, on the 6th of July, the Prussians
discovered that they had won a victory on the 4th, the Bavarians being
in retreat. Von Falckenstein at once pushed forward towards Fulda.

After the actions of Zella and Wiesenthal Prince Charles saw that
the intended junction of the separated corps at Fulda could not be
made, unless he could open the road by defeating the Prussians. This
now seemed out of the question; and he, consequently, fell back on
Neustadt, and requested Prince Alexander to open communications with
him _via_ Brückenau and Kissingen. Prince Alexander, however, does
not seem to have been over-anxious either to comply with requests or
to obey orders. On July 5th he had advanced to within seven miles of
Fulda. Hearing of the Bavarian reverses, he fell back to Schlüchtern,
where he occupied an exceptionally favorable position at the entrance
of the Kinzig valley. The ground offered every facility for defense; he
could offer a stubborn resistance to the advance of Von Falckenstein;
his line of retreat to Frankfort was secure; and he might either wait
for the Bavarians to join him, or effect a junction with them on the
line Hammelburg-Gemünden.

While at Schlüchtern, Prince Alexander learned of the Austrian defeat
at Königgrätz; and, without considering his allies, his only thought
seems to have been to gain the line of the Maine, between Hanau and
Mayence, where he might protect the territories of Southwest Germany.
How far he was influenced by his own judgment, and how far by the Diet
at Frankfort, is not known; but he abandoned his strong position at
Schlüchtern, and fell back to Frankfort, where he was joined by the
detachments which had been left on the Lahn. Instead of concentrating
to oppose the Prussians, the allies thus voluntarily widened the gap
between their forces, and willfully invited destruction.

The Prussians entered Fulda on the 7th of July, and rested there one
day. From Fulda, Von Falckenstein directed Von Goeben on Brückenau, and
sent Von Beyer out on the Frankfort road to Schlüchtern, Von Manteuffel
occupying Fulda. The movement to Schlüchtern was for the double purpose
of making a feint towards Frankfort, and gaining a separate road
for the advance of the division. From Schlüchtern Von Beyer marched
direct to the suburbs of Brückenau. Von Goeben marched through and
beyond Brückenau, and Von Manteuffel, following, occupied the town.
The Army of the Maine was now closely concentrated within nine miles
of the Bavarians, who were extended along the Saale, from Neustadt to
Hammelburg, occupying a line 22-1/2 miles long.

On July 10th Von Falckenstein directed Von Beyer on Hammelburg and Von
Goeben on Kissingen. Von Manteuffel was ordered to move on Waldaschach,
and then to follow Von Goeben. The Bavarians were encountered at
Hammelburg and Kissingen, and defeated with some loss. Minor actions,
with similar results, were fought on the same day at Friedrichshall,
Hausen and Waldaschach, up the river from Kissingen. The Bavarians
retreated to Schweinfurt and Würzburg, and the passes of the Saale
remained in the hands of the Prussians.

All military principles now dictated an advance against Schweinfurt,
for the purpose of giving the Bavarians a crushing defeat, and
disposing of them altogether. Such a move would, doubtless, have been
made by Von Falckenstein, had not political considerations been at
this time paramount. The Prussian victories in Austria rendered it
probable that peace conferences would soon be held; and, at the request
of Bismarck, Von Falckenstein was notified that it was of political
importance to be in actual possession of the country north of the
Maine, as negotiations would probably soon take place on the _statu
quo_ basis. Von Falckenstein, therefore, decided to move against the
VIIIth Corps, for the purpose of clearing the right bank of the Maine
entirely of the hostile forces.

Prince Alexander, thoroughly alarmed at the condition of affairs,
now sought to form a junction with the Bavarians at Würzburg, _via_
Aschaffenburg and Gemünden. As a preliminary to this movement, a
Hessian brigade was sent to Aschaffenburg, to secure the passage of the
Maine at that point, and to reconnoiter the Prussians. The contemplated
movement was hopeless from the start, unless the Bavarians could
render assistance by advancing to Gemünden; and, after the actions on
the Saale, they were not in a condition to do so. As it was, Prince
Alexander was endeavoring to cross the difficult mountain region
between Aschaffenburg and Gemünden, in the face of a victorious army,
superior to his own in numbers and _morale_, to effect a junction with
an ally who was unable to lend him a helping hand. It was the height of
folly; for the junction could have been easily and safely made south
of the Maine. True, this would have necessitated the sacrifice of
Frankfort; but defeat north of the Maine would compel the evacuation of
the city, and defeat was now practically invited.

Turning away from the Bavarians, Von Falckenstein moved down the
Maine; Von Goeben in advance, followed by Von Manteuffel, while Von
Beyer moved, by way of the Kinzig valley, on Hanau. On July 13th the
Hessian brigade was defeated by Von Goeben at Laufach, and fell back
on Aschaffenburg, to which place reinforcements were hurried by Prince
Alexander. On the following day the VIIIth Corps was defeated by Von
Goeben at Aschaffenburg. The brunt of the battle was borne by an
Austrian brigade attached to the Federal Corps; but few troops of the
Hessian contingents being engaged, and the Würtemberg and Baden troops
arriving too late. Had Prince Alexander concentrated his entire force
at Aschaffenburg, the result might have been bad for the Prussians, for
their march was so unskillfully conducted that Von Goeben was without
support; the other detachments of Von Falckenstein’s army being more
than thirty miles in rear. The Prussians did not pursue the enemy, but
contented themselves with remaining in possession of the field.

Prince Alexander was now convinced of the impossibility of effecting
a junction at Würzburg _via_ Aschaffenburg. He accordingly abandoned
the line of the Lower Maine and concentrated his force at Dieburg.
Frankfort was thus left defenseless, and the remnants of the German
Diet fled to Augsburg. Prince Charles now proposed a junction of the
allies in the vicinity of Würzburg, the VIIIth Corps to move _via_
Miltenberg and Tauberbischofsheim, and the concentration to be effected
on the 20th of July. This movement necessitated a march of some ninety
miles for the VIIIth Corps, and the uncovering of Southwest Germany,
while the Bavarians had to march only a few miles, and continued
to cover their own territories; but the imminent danger which now
threatened the VIIIth Corps caused Prince Alexander to forget local
and personal jealousies, and strive to effect the junction which the
military situation imperatively demanded.

On the 16th of July the Prussians entered Frankfort, where they
remained until the 21st: Von Goeben’s division occupying the city,
Von Beyer’s division being stationed at Hanau, and Von Manteuffel’s
division holding Aschaffenburg. The entire region north of the Maine
was in the possession of the Prussians. Frankfort had been especially
antagonistic to Prussia, and it now felt the full force of the severity
of the conquerors. Von Falckenstein levied a contribution of $3,000,000
on the city, and soon followed this heavy exaction by a demand for
a second enormous contribution of $10,000,000. The King of Prussia,
however, remitted the second contribution after hearing the appeal and
protest of the citizens.

On the 16th of July Von Falckenstein was relieved from the command of
the Army of the Maine, and appointed military governor of Bohemia.
He was succeeded by Von Manteuffel, whose division was placed under
command of Von Flies. Reinforcements now raised the Army of the Maine
to a strength of 50,000 men and 121 guns.

The capture of Frankfort and the possession of the country north of
the Maine had been obtained at the sacrifice of the great strategic
advantage enjoyed by the Prussians. It was no longer possible to
prevent the concentration of the VIIIth Corps and the Bavarians, and on
the 22d of July this junction was completed; the former corps holding
the line of the Tauber, and the latter occupying a position between
that river and Würzburg.

Although the allied forces now numbered 80,000 men and 286 guns, Von
Manteuffel decided to move against them from Frankfort. The advantage
of the allies was in numbers alone; in _morale_, and in the strategic
situation, the advantage was with the Prussians. Von Manteuffel now
had a line of communication through Frankfort and Cassel. Though he
could no longer keep the allies asunder, he could, by marching to the
Tauber, compel them to “form front to a flank,” while his own front
securely covered his communications. His communications could be
intercepted only by a movement of the allies north of the Maine, which
would reciprocally expose their own.

The allies had hardly effected their junction, when a want of harmony
in the views of their commanders again became evident. An offensive
movement against the Prussians was agreed upon; but Prince Charles
wished to move by the left bank of the Maine on Frankfort, while Prince
Alexander preferred a movement by the right bank on Aschaffenburg. The
former was, doubtless, the better move--at all events it was the safer;
for the allies would have covered their communications better, and a
junction might, perhaps, have been effected with the large garrison
of Mayence--but, after two days of discussion and deliberation, the
latter movement was agreed upon. In the meantime, while the allies were
deliberating, Von Manteuffel was acting; and he was now moving rapidly
towards the Tauber.

On July 23d the Prussians touched the enemy. A slight and indecisive
action was fought by a Prussian advanced-guard with the Baden division
at Hundheim, and the advanced troops of the VIIIth Corps were pressed
back along their whole line. While the Prussians were thus closing
upon the Federal Corps, the Bavarians began the contemplated movement
by the right bank of the Maine; one division being sent by rail to
Gemünden, another to Lohr (on the right bank, farther down), and part
of a third to Wertheim. Thus the junction of the allies, which had
been effected with such difficulty, was voluntarily broken at the very
moment of contact with the enemy. The line of the allied forces, on the
evening of July 23d, was 36 miles in extent; while Von Manteuffel’s
army was closely concentrated in their immediate front. Prince
Alexander, finding himself beyond the immediate assistance of the
Bavarians, withdrew all his detachments behind the Tauber, where his
corps was spread over a space seven miles in breadth and nine in depth,
in a country full of deep ravines, which rendered prompt movements,
especially of cavalry and artillery, quite out of the question.

On the 24th Von Goeben defeated the Würtembergers at
Tauberbischofsheim, and the Baden division at Werbach. The retreat
of the Baden troops uncovered Prince Alexander’s right flank, and
there was now imminent danger of the Prussians again pushing in and
separating the VIIIth Corps from the Bavarians. Prince Alexander,
therefore, fell back to Gerchsheim, and the Bavarians withdrew to
Helmstadt. Prince Charles ordered the VIIIth Corps back to the line of
the Tauber, though the Bavarians could render no immediate assistance.
Prince Alexander, doubtless appreciating the folly of attempting,
without reinforcements, to dislodge the victorious Prussians from a
position which he had been unable to hold against them, seems to have
paid no attention to the order, for he proceeded at once to concentrate
his scattered divisions at Gerchsheim.

On July 25th Von Goeben formed the right of the Prussian line, Von
Beyer the center and Von Flies the left. Von Goeben was to attack the
VIIIth Corps in front, while Von Beyer turned its right and cut it off
from Würzburg. Von Flies was to keep his division concentrated on the
left; for nothing was known of the whereabouts of the Bavarians, and it
was surmised that they might be somewhere in that direction.

Von Beyer, moving against the VIIIth Corps, unexpectedly encountered a
Bavarian division at Helmstadt, and defeated it, after an engagement
which lasted some hours. While the Prussians were resting on the field,
after the action, a second Bavarian division suddenly appeared on the
crest of a hill in the rear of Von Beyer’s left wing. So completely
was Von Beyer without information as to the position of the Bavarians,
that he was in doubt whether these troops were friend or foe. The
Bavarians were in a similar quandary. In fact, they had accidentally
stumbled upon the Prussians, and the surprise was mutual. As soon as
he discovered that he was in the presence of a hostile force, Von
Beyer executed a change of front to the left, and succeeded in gaining
another victory.

While Von Beyer was engaged with the Bavarians, Von Goeben was battling
with the VIIIth Corps at Gerchsheim. Prince Alexander was again
defeated, and driven in rout on Würzburg.

The night after these actions Prince Charles held a council of war, and
finally decided to attack Von Flies, who, having advanced, was now
on the Prussian left. Learning, however, that his own left had been
uncovered by the defeat of the VIIIth Corps, the Bavarian commander
resolved to stand on the defensive on the plateau of Waldbüttelbrünn
(in rear of Rossbrünn[25]), and ordered Prince Alexander to take up a
position immediately in front of Würzburg, to cover the retreat of the
army across the Maine, should such a movement be necessary.

About 3 o’clock on the morning of July 26th, a simultaneous attempt
of the Bavarians and Von Flies to occupy some commanding ground which
lay between the outposts, brought on an action at Rossbrünn. While Von
Flies was engaged with the Bavarians, Von Beyer struck them heavily on
the flank, and by 10 o’clock the Bavarians were in full retreat. The
Prussians did not attempt a pursuit, and by 1 o’clock, P. M., Prince
Charles had rallied and concentrated his corps on the plateau of
Waldbüttelbrünn. In the meantime the VIIIth Corps had crossed the Maine.

The position of the Bavarians was now full of peril. Their allies
had been defeated, and were glad to place a river between themselves
and the Prussians. The Bavarians were, consequently, alone on the
left bank of the Maine; their losses had been considerable; their
_morale_ was shattered; their retreat across the defiles of the Maine
was insecure; and a defeat in their present position meant absolute
ruin. The Prussian Official History says: “A renewed attack on the
part of the Prussian main forces would necessarily have forced it
[the Bavarian Corps] to a struggle for life or death. The political
situation of affairs showed no reason for bringing on so desperate a
combat. The only object henceforth was to occupy as much territory of
the allies as possible, in order to facilitate peace negotiations with
them, and maneuvering against the enemy’s left flank would oblige him
to retreat without any hard struggle.” This apology for a failure to
complete the defeat of a shattered and unsupported hostile force seems
somewhat disingenuous. A complete defeat and surrender of the Bavarians
would have been quickly followed by the capture or dispersion of the
VIIIth Corps, and the entire South-German territory would have been
at the mercy of the Prussians. Certainly such a condition of affairs
would have “facilitated peace negotiations” by rendering further
resistance hopeless. Moreover, the same history states that the retreat
of the VIIIth Corps behind the Maine was not known at the Prussian
headquarters; and it seems probable that inefficient performance of
outpost and reconnoissance duties on the part of the Prussians, rather
than any considerations of politics or magnanimity, saved the Bavarians
from destruction. Late in the day, Prince Charles withdrew across the

On July 27th the Prussians moved on Würzburg. Their artillery exchanged
shots with the citadel of Marienberg (on the left bank of the Maine,
opposite Würzburg), and succeeded in setting fire to the arsenal, but
withdrew without effecting anything of moment.

The contending armies now faced each other, each in an almost
impregnable position. The situation was, however, altogether in
favor of the Prussians. Their communications were secure, while
the communications of the allies with Hesse, Baden and Würtemburg
were intercepted, and those with Bavaria were endangered, by the
position of the Army of the Maine. Moreover, the Prussian IId Reserve
Corps had moved from Saxony _via_ Leipsic, Plauen and Hof, and was
now approaching Baireuth. In the language of the Prussian Official
History: “The position of the Bavarian army at Würzburg had now become
untenable. It could only extricate itself from its present position
either by assuming the offensive against the Prussian army--which was
scarcely possible at this point--or by a retrograde movement up the
Maine, so as to face the army to the north and re-establish its base on
the Bavarian territory in its rear.”

But the bitterness of extreme defeat was not pushed home to the allies;
for on July 28th news of the peace preliminaries between Prussia
and Austria, and of an armistice with Bavaria, was received. Though
the truce with Bavaria was not to go into effect until August 2d,
hostilities were suspended, the only movement of importance being the
occupation of Nuremberg by the Prussian IId Reserve Corps.

Peace was concluded on August 13th with Würtemberg, on the 17th with
Baden, and on the 22d with Bavaria.

It is hardly possible to contemplate the operations of the armies
in Western Germany, in 1866, with any feeling of admiration. In the
strategical operations of Von Falckenstein and Von Manteuffel are
found the only redeeming features of the campaign. Von Falckenstein
especially, in pushing in between the two armies of the allies, and
defeating them in succession, displayed generalship of no mean order;
but the want of harmony between the allied leaders removed every
obstacle from the path of Prussian success. The Prussians seem to
have been often completely in the dark as to the designs, and even
in regard to the positions, of the allies. We find the Army of the
Maine waiting, in a defensive position, nearly two days, in ignorance
of its own victory at Wiesenthal. We find the Prussians winning a
victory at Aschaffenburg, when their own unskillful march invited a
defeat, and their success was due solely to the greater blunders of
their opponents. Before, and even during, the battle of Helmstadt the
Prussians seem to have been in complete ignorance of the position and
movements of Prince Charles, and Von Beyer’s escape from disaster
when surprised by the Bavarians, was due solely to the fact that
the surprise was accidental and mutual. Advanced-guard, outpost and
reconnoissance duties seem to have been performed with the grossest
inefficiency. In almost every action the Prussians seem to have been
unaware of the extent of their victory, or to have shown an incapacity
to organize a pursuit. Gneisenau and his famous order to “pursue to
the last breath of horse and man” seem to have been forgotten in the
Army of the Maine; and we find Prince Charles, after the battle of
Rossbrünn, quietly slipping back, without molestation, to an almost
impregnable position, when a simple frontal attack by the Prussians
would have completed the discomfiture and insured the destruction of
the Bavarian army.

As to the allies, every adverse criticism that can be made on their
opponents, applies to them in a still higher degree. Their leaders
rarely rose to the level of respectable mediocrity. The junction of
the allied corps, which was imperative from the first, was made only
when they were practically herded together by the movements of the
Prussians. As soon as they had been forced into the long-desired
junction, they voluntarily undertook an ill-advised movement which
separated them again, at the very moment of their contact with the
enemy. Incapacity and jealousy were characteristics of both the
allied commanders; and to these defects Prince Alexander added the
greater fault of insubordination. It would be hard to find among the
improvised “political generals” who appeared on the stage of war in the
earlier part of the American conflict, a single one who possessed in
a greater degree than Prince Charles or Prince Alexander a genius for
blundering--an eminent capacity for invariably doing the wrong thing.
It may be said of the two generals of the allied armies, that their
operations afford a fine demonstration of the principles of war by the
method of _reductio ad absurdum_.


[25] Rossbrünn is not marked on the map. It is about 7 miles due west
of Würzburg.



Only a brief mention of the operations in Italy is here necessary.
On the night of the 23d of June, 1866, the Italian army crossed the
Mincio, and encountered the Austrians at Custozza on the next day.
The Italian army, numbering about 120,000 men, was under the nominal
command of King Victor Emmanuel, the real commander being General La
Marmora. The Austrians, numbering about 72,000, were commanded by
Archduke Albrecht. The battle resulted in the defeat of the Italians,
who withdrew across the Mincio. The Austrian commander remained on the

Garibaldi, with about 6,000 volunteers, invaded the Tyrol, but was
defeated in two small actions. Though he finally succeeded in gaining a
foothold on Austrian soil, his operations were of no importance.

On the 20th of July the Austrian fleet, under Tegethoff, defeated the
Italian fleet in the great naval battle of Lissa, in which the Italians
lost three iron clads.

Immediately after the battle of Königgrätz, Venetia was offered by
Austria to the French Emperor, and the Vth and IXth Corps were recalled
to the Danube. The Italians, under the command of Cialdini, again
advanced, and the Austrians (now numbering scarcely 30,000) fell
back to the neighborhood of Venice. On the 25th of July all military
operations were stopped by the conclusion of an armistice.

The Italians had everywhere suffered defeat. Yet their alliance was of
the utmost advantage to Prussia; for they neutralized three army corps,
which would have been of priceless value to the Austrians in Bohemia.


In the preparation of this work the following books have been consulted:

“The Campaign of 1866 in Germany,” by the Prussian Staff.

Hozier’s “Seven Weeks’ War.”

Derrécagaix’s “_La Guerre Moderne_.”

Adams’ “Great Campaigns in Europe.”

Lewis’ “History of Germany.”

Jomini’s “Art of War.”

Hamley’s “Operations of War.”

Von der Goltz’s “The Nation in Arms.”

Chesney’s “Essays in Military Biography.”

Brackenbury’s “Field Works.”

Home’s “_Précis_ of Modern Tactics.”

Clery’s “Minor Tactics.”

Maude’s “Tactics and Organization.”

Prince Hohenlohe’s “Letters on Cavalry.”

Prince Hohenlohe’s “Letters on Artillery.”

Trench’s “Cavalry in Modern War.”

Scribner’s “Army and Navy in the Civil War.”

“Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.”

Swinton’s “Army of the Potomac.”

Memoirs of Gen. U. S. Grant.

Memoirs of Gen. W. T. Sherman.

Capt. F. V. Greene’s Essay on “The Important Improvements in the Art of
War, etc.”

Capt. J. R. Lumly’s Essay on “Mounted Riflemen.”

The quotations from Baron Stoffel and Capt. May are taken from Home’s
“_Précis_ of Modern Tactics.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Footnotes have been moved to the end of each chapter or appendix and
relabeled consecutively through the document.

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks near where they are

Figure No. 2 comes before figure No. 1 in the text.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typos have been corrected.

Changes have been made as follows:

p. 45: Aulubitz changed to Aulibitz (to Aulibitz and)

p. 105: Shönkirchen changed to Schönkirchen (at Schönkirchen. The)

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