Battle of Raszyn
April 1809

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This was only Poniatowski's second field command but he proved
himself once and for all as the commander of an independent army.
Outnumbered 2 to 1, he fought an outstanding campaign.
During the war against Austria in 1809 the Poles
lost only 3 guns and captured 62 pieces.

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At Raszyn, the Alder Wood and the dike changed hands several times.
Prince Poniatowski dismounted and with bayonet in hand led the
infantry in a counterattack.

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Map of campaign.
List of Battles, Skirmishes and Sieges.

Campaign of 1809
in Austria and Poland.

The Austrian corps entered Poland.

Austrian advance from the border to Raszyn.

Austrians at Raszyn.
Characteristic of troops,
and order of battle.

Poles and Saxons at Raszyn.
Characteristic of troops,
and order of battle.

The first blood: cavalry clashes.

Deployment of Polish troops at Raszyn.

Photos of the battlefield.

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Battle of Raszyn 1809
Battle of Raszyn 1809, by January Suchodolski.

Two Austrian infantry brigades and some hussars
attacked Polish positions near the dike.

Austrian cavalry and infantry
attempted to outflank the Poles.

Poniatowski led his infantry
in bayonet counter-attack.

Austrians, Poles and Saxons
in desperate fight for Raszyn.

The Saxons marched off
angering the Poles.

Casualties.

Miscellaneous.

Sources and links.

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Map of campaign in Poland in 1809.
List of Battles, Skirmishes and Sieges.

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Map of Europe in 1809

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List of Battles, Skirmishes and Sieges of the campaign in Poland in 1809:
14 April Austrians crossed the border
15 April combat at Mogielnica
17 April combat at Koniew
19 April battle of Raszyn
21 April Poniatowski's troops abandoned Warsaw
23 April Austrians entered Warsaw
25 April combat at Grochow
27 April combat at Radzymin
2-3 May combat at Ostrowek
5 May combat Kock
10 May Austrian siege of Plock
14 May Poles captured Lublin
15 May Austrian siege of Torun (Thorn)
18 May Poles captured Sandomierz
20 May Poles captured Zamosc
21 May skirmish at Kepa Zawadzka, near Wilanow
27 May Poles captured Lwow
2-3 June - Austrians abandoned Warsaw
June - Austrian siege of Sanok
11 June combat at Jedlinsk
12 June combat at Gorzyce (Wrzawy)
18 June combat at Zaleszczyki
18 June Austrians recaptured Sandomierz
1 July combat at Jeziorna
3 July combat at Zagrobla
14 July series of skirmishes near Krakow
15 July Poles captured Krakow
16-18 July combat at Chmielowka

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Campaign of 1809 in Austria and Poland.

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Napoleon left Spain in January 1809 and travelled to Paris believing that Austria to be on the point of declaring war. In February His Majesty the Kaiser of Austria, Franz I, declared war on France. Army reforms gave them confidence in being able to tackle the French army.

Battle of Wagram in 1809 The Austrian field army under Archduke Charles fought with great determination along the Danube, and even triumphed at Aspern-Essling, before the Emperor won a narrow victory at Wagram.
The Austrian army was retiring without panic, with their rear guards occupying several defiles. General Savary wrote that the Austrian rear-guard had "fought in a manner calculated to instill a cautious conduct into any man disposed to deeds of rashness."

The battle of Wagram was very bloody. Total Austrian casualties at Wagram exceeded 30,000 (24,000 killed and wounded, and 6,000 captured). French casualties approximated those suffered by the whitecoats. Reports to Napoleon's chief-of-staff for the battle on July 6 list 25,142 killed and wounded. General Andreossy, appointed as 'governor' of Vienna, reported that 5,844 wounded soldiers from Bernadotte's corps alone (two Saxon and one French division) had been admitted to the various hospitals. Archduke Charles stated that his army carried off 7,000 French prisoners.

Very little has been written about the defense of the Duchy of Warsaw against the Austrians in 1809. The Austrian generals had assigned the entire VII Army Corps to this front. For the Austrians the Polish campaign had been a dead end. It illustrated the problem created by Austrian strategic decision-makers trying to fight on several fronts with inadequate resources. (Rothenberg - "The Emperor's Last Victory" p 107)

Poniatowski and Napoleon The commander responsible for the defense was Prince Jozef Poniatowski. Napoleon met him during the 1806-07 campaign in Poland and Eastern Prussia.

In 1809 the French in Warsaw (diplomats and senior officers) suggested to concentrate all available Polish troops in Warsaw. Poniatowski however disagreed, giving away all initiative to the Austrians would demoralize the troops. Outnumbered more than 2 to 1, Poniatowski fought an outstanding defensive campaign, covering all of Napoleon's northern front while Napoleon faced off against the main Austrian army at Wagram.

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The Austrian corps entered Poland.
Ferdinand de Este declared to the Poles
that he was not coming as their enemy,
as the Emperor of Austria was making
his war against Napoleon.

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The Polish government was informed of the Austrian preparations by the Polish inhabitants of West Galicia, the country ruled by the Austrians. Poniatowski sent Marshal Davout detailed reports on this matter. Poniatowski estimated that the enemy have a strength of 40,000 men.

In March the King of Saxony came to Warsaw. The Diet convened on March 10 and voted a subsidy of 30,000,000 florins for the support of the army. Poniatowski asked Davout to obtain from Napoleon a subsidy of 8,000,000 florins to begin the reorganization and strengthening of the Polish army. On March 25 the King of Saxony left Warsaw to return to Dresden.

Austrian General Major in 1809 Before crossing the frontier, the Austrian general resolved to issue a proclamation. Dated from Odrzywol on April 12th this proclamation was not made public until the moment he crossed the Pilica River. There, he declared to the inhabitants of the Duchy of Warsaw that he was bringing an army into their territory, but that he was not coming as their enemy, as the Emperor of Austria was making his war against Napoleon and he was the friend of all who did not defend the cause of France. Ferdinand de Este then gave them an explanation of the motives for the war. He went on to say,
"... I ask you, do you enjoy the happiness promised you by the Emperor ? Your blood, which was spilled below the walls of Madrid, was it spilled in your interests ? What do Tagus River and the Vistula have in common ? And has the valor of your soldiers brought you greater prosperity ? The Emperor Napoleon has need of your troops for himself, not for you. You sacrifice your property and your soldiers to an interest that is far from yours ... "

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Austrian advance from the border to Raszyn.

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The war in Poland had opened favourably for Austrian generals. After crossing the border one infantry brigade was detached and marched on Olkusz and Czestochowa. Two squadrons of hussars under Hoditz were sent across the Vistula River to Okuniew to observe Praga. Small troops were detached to guard the communication and supply lines.

D'Este learned from Hoditz's hussars that, with the exception of garrison in Praga and few small detachments, there were no strong Polish forces on Austrian right flank. On d'Este's left flank a force of Austrian hussars penetrated as far as Rawa. Then the Austrian general learned that the Polish army is concentrated at Raszyn. D'Este directed Mohr's advance guard in that direction and followed him with the main body.

The advance guard under General Mohr reached Nowe Miasto and then Tarczyn. Mohr's Advance Guard consisted of 1,000 light cavalry (6 squadrons), 4,500 indantry (5 very strong battalions) and 12 guns. The main body (Mondet's infantry division and Speth cuirassier brigade) passed through Odrzywol and followed Mohr. The distance between Mohr and Mondet was only one hour. In reserve were two regiments of hussars and horse battery.

The road from Tarczyn to Raszyn led through large woods.

The Polish positions at Raszyn were screened by two or three regiments of light cavalry (chasseurs and uhlans). In the morning, on 19th April, the inhabitants of Falnety and Falenty M. (Falenty Male) left their houses and moved to Raszyn and Michalowice.

Austrians enter Poland in 1809.
Map of campaign / war in 1809

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The Austrians at Raszyn.
Characteristics of troops
and order of battle.

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d'Este The commander of the Austrian VII Army Corps was Archduke Ferdinand d'Este (Erzherzog Ferdinand Karl von Habsburg d'Este). He was an Italian prince (born in Milan) closely related to the Habsburgs of Austria. He attended a military academy in Austria before embarking on a military career. During the Ulm-Austerlitz Campaign in 1805, d'Este was commander-in-chief of the Austrian forces with General Mack as his quartermaster general. In October his army was surrounded at Ulm. Mack surrendered, but d'Este managed to escape with 2000 cavalry to Bohemia. There he took command of the Austrian troops and raised the local militia. With a total of 9,000 men he succeeded in holding the Bavarian division of Wrede in Iglau thereby and preventing it from joining the Battle of Austerlitz.

Archduke d'Este's personal courage was well known, the softness of his character and the certainty of his principles, made him the choice of the Austrian monarch. "His mission was as much political as it was military. In addition to fighting the Polish army, his mission was to gain the support of the [Polish] nation. The choice of the regiments that were to be part of his corps was given to him." (- Roman Soltyk)

The VII Corps consisted of 35,000-40,000 men. Roman Soltyk gives the strength of d'Este's corps at 33,000 men (25,000 infantry, 5,200 cavalry, and 2,800 artillery). His reserve in Galicia was commanded by Prinz Hohenzollern-Indelfingen and consisted of 7,400 men (7,200 infantrymen and 200 cavalrymen).

"In the first quarter of March, the Austrians had begun, in the two regions of Galicia they controlled, a levy of 20,000 recruits, which were intended to raise their army to a strength of 60,000 men. However, this levy advanced slowly and did not produce anything of use for the campaign. In addition, it did bring into the army a large number of men who were unfriendly towards the interests of Austria." (- Roman Soltyk)
After detaching several troops the Austrians reached Raszyn with 30,000 men. James Arnold in "Napoleon Conquests Austria" has the Austrians having 25,000 infantry and almost 5,000 cavalry. George Nafziger gives the strength of the Austrian corps at Raszyn at 28,500 men (23 battalions, 36 squadrons and 86 guns). The Polish-Saxon corps is at 13.000 men (12 battalions, 14 squadrons and 39 guns). [Nafziger - "Poles and Saxons ..." p 103]

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Quality of troops.

Austrian military flags. In general the VII Corps was a solid unit.
According to Roman Soltyk "Nearly all of his (d'Este) force was formed of veteran regiments, hardened in combat." The troops were well armed and supplied.
The cavalry of VII Corps was numerous and good quality. James Arnold writes: "In view of expected resistance by the famed Polish light cavalry, the VII Corps also had close to 5,000 cavalry." (Arnold - "Napoleon Conquers Austria" p 106) Among the cavalry regiments were the excellent Somariva Cuirassiers, Lothringen Cuirassiers and the superb Emperor's Own Hussars.
The Austrian artillery was very good. The Austrian gunners, recruited mostly from the German provinces, has always stood high; not so much by early and judicious adoption of improvements, as by the practical efficiency of the men. They were volunteers, and not recruits as it was the case in majority of European armies.
The quality of infantry regiments varied.

There were several weaknesses of the VII Corps.
For example there were only few bridges in the Duchy and it was necessary for the Austrians to use pontoon bridges to cross any major river. Despite this the Austrian corps had no bridging train. There were several fortresses in the Duchy, yet the Austrians had no siege artillery. The Austrians held two fortresses in this region: Zamosc and Sandomir (Sandomierz), and one fortified city, Cracow (Krakow). The walls of these strongpoints however were in poor shape and the Archduke ordered it rebuilt and added a few fieldworks prepared.
The Austrian army was made of Austrians, Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Croats and others. Approx. 25 % of d'Este soldiers were ethnic Poles who had no loyalty to the Austrian monarch. (Austria participated in three partitions of Poland and occupied a large territory inhabited by the Poles.) Several sources indicate a number of Austrian infantry regiments of the VII Corps, have suffered through straggling and desertion. Most of the deserters were Poles who joyfully joined Poniatowski's small army.

Austrian generals
and staff officers, 
by G. Rava If you need more info on the Austrian army
click on any of the links below:

Austrian Army: Strength, Organization, Commanders
"Though repeatedly defeated, it always rose again ..."
Austria was the most implacable of Napoleon's continental enemies:
Austria at war with France - 108 months
Prussia at war with France - 58 months
Russia at war with France - 55 months

Austrian Infantry.
"The great confusion of nationalities
is a serious evil [in Austrian infantry]."

Austrian Cavalry.
"Austrian cavalry was well mounted and generally good
but seldom operated effectively in mass."

Austrian Artillery
The Austrian gunners, recruited mostly from
the German provinces, has always stood high

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Order of battle
of Austrian VII Corps at Raszyn.

In March 1809 the troops were concentrated in the area of Krakow, Radom and Konskie.

Abbreviations :
FL - Feldmarschall Lieutnant [= General Lieutenant]
GM - Generall Major [General Major]
Ob - Oberst [Colonel]
Mjr - Major [Major]

Commander : Archduke Ferdinand de Este
Corps-Adjutant : Ob. Neipperg
Chief-of-Staff : Ob. Brusch
Chief-of-Artillery : Ob. Gilet

Advance Guard - GM Baron Mohr
- - - - - Emperor's Own (Kaiser) Hussar Regiment No.1 (8 - 2* sq.)
- - - - - Wallachian Grenzer Regiment No.16 (1 btn.)
- - - - - Wallachian Grenzer Regiment No.17 (1 btn.)
- - - - - Vukassovich Infantry Regiment No.48 (3 btn.)
- - - - - Foot Battery (8 3pdr cannons)
- - - - - Horse Battery (4 3pdr cannons, 2 howitzers)
- - - - - Pioneers (2 companies)

Infantry Division - FL von Mondet
Infantry Brigade - Count de Civalart
- - - - - De Ligne Infantry Regiment No.30 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Kotulinsky Infantry Regiment No.41 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Foot Battery (8 6pdr guns)
Infantry Brigade - Baron von Trautenberg
- - - - - Baillet-Latour Infantry Regiment No. 63 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Strauch Infantry Regiment No.24 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Foot Battery (8 6pdr guns)
Infantry Brigade - von Pflacher (von Piking ?)
- - - - - Weidenfeild Infantry Regiment No.37 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Davidovich Infantry Regiment No. 34 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Foot Battery (8 6pdr guns)

Cavalry Division - FL von Sharouth
Hussar Brigade - von Gehringer
- - - - - Palatine Hussar Regiment No.12 (8 sq.)
- - - - - Szekler Hussar Regiment No.11 (8 sq.)
Cuirassier Brigade - Baron von Speth
- - - - - Somariva Cuirassier Regiment No.5 (6 sq.)
- - - - - Lothringen Cuirassier Regiment No.7 (6 sq.)
- - - - - Horse Battery

Reserve Artillery
(Note: out of the eight batteries
only four were at Raszyn)
- - - - - - - - - - Heavy Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Heavy Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Heavy Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Position Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Position Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Position Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Position Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Horse Battery (6 guns)

* - two squadrons of Emperor's Own (Kaiser) Hussars under Hoditz
were detached to Okuniew, on the east bank of Vistula River.

NOTE:
Before the crossing of the Pilica River, d'Este detached General Scharouth with
- 8 squadrons of hussars (Hussar Brigade under Gehringer)
- 4 infantry companies (from Vukassovich Infantry Regiment of Mohr's Advance Guard)
- horse battery
- 4 squadrons of cuirassiers (from Speth's Cuirassier Brigade) ?
Scharouth was to look for enemy troops around Rawa.

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Other Austrian Troops.

Detached from the VII Corps for the siege of Czestochowa.
(Not present at Raszyn.)

- - - Brigade - Branowatzky
- - - - - Szekler Grenzer Regiment Nr.14 (1 btn.)
- - - - - Szekler Grenzer Regiment Nr.15 (1 btn.)
- - - - - Emperor's Own Chevauleger Regiment No.1 (8 sq.)
- - - - - Horse Battery (8 6pdr guns)

Reserves stationed in Galicia (7.200-7.480 infantry and 125-200 cavalry) in January 1809
Commander - Friedrich K.W. von Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen
Second in Command - Graf M. Merveldt
- - - General-Major Bicking von Sobinak
- - - - - 12* inf. companies in Lvov (Lemberg)
- - - - - 2 inf. companies in Jaroslaw
- - - - - 2 inf. companies in Sambor
- - - - - 1 inf. companies in Dukla
- - - - - 1 squadron of hussars in Zolkiew
- - - General-Major Starczynsky von Pittkau
- - - - - 7** inf. companies
- - - - - 1 squadron of chevaulegers in Krakow
- - - General-Major Bernhard von Grosser
- - - - - 4 inf. companies in Zamosc
- - - - - 2 inf. companies in Lublin
- - - General-Major Ignaz von Eggermann
- - - - - 4 inf. companies in Sandomierz
- - - - - 1 inf. companies in Rzeszow
- - - - - 1 inf. companies in Lancut

* - the companies were from 24th, 30th, 41st, 46th, 58th and 63rd Infantry Regiment
** - the companies were stationed in Neusandez, Tarnow, Krosno, Myslenice, Kety, Kalwaria and Zator

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Poles and Saxons at Raszyn.
Characteristics of troops
and order of battle.

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Prince Poniatowski Prince Jozef Poniatowski Poniatowski was a young, dashing and inspirational general. He was born ... in Vienna and was commisioned into the Austrian army in 1778, serving in the dragoons and carabiniers. In 1788 he became an ADC to the Emperor Francis II. (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic wars" p 346)
In 1789 Poniatowski returned to Poland, became general and in 1792 defeated the Russians at Zielence. In July Poniatowski resigned and left Poland but 2 years later the ardent patriot had returned and joined the Kosciuszko Insurrection. In 1807 Poniatowski met Marshal Murat and the French troops and began overtures to Napoleon for the restoration of a free Poland. In 1807 he became minister of war in the Polish Directory.

The Duchy of Warsaw was a new state. Out of the 35,000 strong army raised in the Duchy, Napoleon took 20,000 out of the country and send to Spain, Prussia and elsewhere. "Prince Poniatowski ... commanded the defenders, a small army of newly raised Polish troops reinforced by a detachment of Saxons ..." ( John Gill - "With Eagles to Glory"
p 35
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The field army under Poniatowski facing the Austrian VII Corps at Raszyn consisted of approx. 15,000 men and 27 guns. The garrisons were as follows: in Warsaw 1,509 men, in Praga 980 men, in Sierock 1,410 men, Czestochowa 790 men, in Modlin 1,265 men and in Thorn (Torun) 1,590 men. The cavalry depots contained 1,810 men and 1,410 horses. The fortress of Thorn (today Torun) had a pontoon bridge over the Vistula. The works at Modlin had been completed before the campaign.
Poniatowski could have used Modlin as the pivot of his operations and Thorn as his depot. These fortresses would have assured his communications with the western and northern parts of Poland and the French troops in Prussia.

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Quality of troops.

Eagle-bearers of Polish 
infantry regiments. The main weakness of Poniatowski's force was its small size. The Austrians outnumbered him by more than 2 to 1. It was a small army of newly raised troops reinforced by a tiny detachment of Saxons.

Due to problems with supplies part of the infantry in 1806-1809 wore modified captured Prussian (blue) and Austrian (white) uniforms. The infantry was issued French, Prussian and Russian muskets. In 1809 Napoleon sent to Poland at Poniatowski's request, 20,000 muskets drawn from arsenals in Prussia.

The light cavalry was well mounted. The "Poles were acknowledged to be the finest lancers in Europe; Russia, Prussia, and Austria recruited their lancer regiments from among the Polish subjects their partitionings of the unhappy kingdom had given them. When France marched against all Europe, Polish volunteers swarmed into its ranks." (John Elting - "Swords Around a Throne" 1997 p 241) Many Polish cavalry regiments served under French generals. Two regiments became part of the famous Imperial Guard. Furthermore, Napoleon took out of Poland thousands of horses.

"The Army of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw had excellent artillery, both horse and foot ... " (Kevin Kiley - "Artillery of the Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815", p 141) The tactics and organization of Polish artillery was similar in many aspects to the tactics and organization of the French artillery. The gunners were well trained professionals. By the way, they were trained by several French officers. Jean Pelletier, Jean-Baptiste Mallet de Grandville and others were transferred by Napoleon to the army of Duchy of Warsaw on Prince Poniatowski's request. The Polish artillery needed one more thing from the Emperor; more guns of better quality.

The troops at Raszyn formed a healthy mix of veterans (some were deserters from the Prussian and Russian army) and recruits. They were patriotic and very eager to fight. The rank and file and the young officers were not bothered by the numerical superiority of the enemy.

Eagle-bearer and NCO of Polish infantry. Articles about the Polish army
of the Napoleonic Wars:

Polish Army: Strength, Organisation, Commanders
French Marshal Davout [The Iron Marshal]
supervised the creation of the Polish army.
"From ... the Peninsula to the depths of Russia,
Polish valour went on parade as never before."

Polish Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery
The Poles were "Napoleon's staunchest allies."

Old Guard Lancers
"I proclaim you my bravest cavalry !"

Vistula Uhlans
The Picadors of the Hell
"Some of the most feared cavalry
in Napoleon's armies ..."

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Order of battle
of Poniatowski's forces at Raszyn.

Commander-in-Chief : Prince Poniatowski
Chief-of-Staff : General Fiszer
Chief-of-Cavalry : General Rozniecki
Chief-of-Artillery : General Pelletier (Frenchman)

Infantry
- - - - - 1st Infantry Regiment (1.642 men)
- - - - - 2nd Infantry Regiment (1.742 men)
- - - - - 3rd Infantry Regiment (1.927 men)
- - - - - 6th Infantry Regiment (1.346 men)
- - - - - One battalion moved to Warsaw in order
- - - - - to protect this city from a flank attack.

- - - - - 8th Infantry Regiment (1.500 men)
- - - - - 12th Infantry Regiment (1.102 men) - was in Wyszogrod

Cavalry
- - - - - 1st Horse Chasseur Regiment (730 horses)
- - - - - 5th Horse Chasseur Regiment (505 horses)
- - - - - This unit went to Warsaw in order to
- - - - - protect this city from a flank attack.

- - - - - 2nd Uhlan Regiment (800 horses)
- - - - - 3rd Uhlan Regiment (760 horses)
- - - - - 6th Uhlan Regiment (709 horses)

Artillery
- - - - - Foot Battery (6 guns, 200 men)
- - - - - Foot Battery (6 guns, 200 men)
- - - - - Foot Battery (6 guns, 200 men)
- - - - - Horse Battery (5 guns, 100 men)
- - - - - Horse Battery (4 guns, ??? men)

Saxons - Polentz (or Dyherrn)
Saxon Grenadier Battalion (250 men)
Saxon Infantry Battalion (500 men)
Saxon Infantry Battalion (500 men)
Saxon Hussar Squadron (90 men)
(another squadron was detached to Blonie)

Several sources (for example Exner) list
a detachment of 90 Saxon cuirassiers
from the Zastrow Regiment at Raszyn.
They were probably in Poland in 1808
or in early 1809 but had returned to join
the reminder of tehir regiment in Danzig
(probably) in March 1809.

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The first blood: cavalry clashes.

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Picture: Polish uhlan (lancer) by A. Trzeciakowski.

On April 15th, Poniatowski received an Austrian delegation, which presented d'Este's declaration. This declaration announced the Austrian troops were entering the territory of the Duchy at 7 a.m. on April 17th.

While a detachment of 2 squadrons of Hungarian hussars moved against Praga, the main Austrian corps advanced via Raszyn on Warsaw. Roman Soltyk wrote that "the garrison of the bridgehead at Praga directed a reconnaissance force on Grzybow, which encountered 2 squadrons of Austrian hussars. The Poles charged them vigorously, despite the Austrian superiority in numbers, drove them, routed them and put 40 men horse de combat."

General Rozniecki.
- commander of
Polish cavalry. Prince Poniatowski planned to leave Raszyn and move against the Austrians. However, General Rozniecki, the commander of Polish cavalry, informed him that the enemy is quite strong. General Pelletier, a Frenchman who commanded the Polish artillery, expressed concern about advancing the army too far forward and exposing it to the danger of being cut off from Warsaw.
In this situation Poniatowski decided to hold his position at Raszyn. A small force under General Bieganski (3rd Infantry Regiment with 4 guns, and the 6th Uhlan Regiment) entered the village. Poniatowski with 8 battalions, 6 squadrons and 19 guns departed Warsaw for Raszyn. The Saxons followed Poniatowski's force on the next day.

Polish lancers. The Polish cavalry had been called upon to cover the infantry positions at Raszyn. General Rozniecki with the several regiments of light cavalry (uhlans and horse chasseurs) screened the region south of Raszyn and then moved toward the advancing Austrians. They had engaged the enemy in several skirmishes and took up to 100 prisoners.

Picture (right): Polish horse chasseur by A. Trzeciakowski.

Between the villages of Janczewice and Wolica took place another cavalry combat. Polish cavalry met the hussars of Mohr's Advance Guard coming from Tarczyn. Part of the cuirassier brigade moved forward and was about to attack the Poles too.

Austrian hussar Picture (left): Austrian hussar.

From Nadarzyn were coming two more hussar regiments. Both sides made gallant charges. Then the Austrian horse battery arrived and opened fire on the Poles. The battle was claimed as victory by both sides.

Then the Austrian cavalry attempted to outflank the Poles but the uhlans and chasseurs skillfully withdrew to the area between the villages of Michalowice and Sokolow. Rozniecki was then ordered to move behind the village of Raszyn where he formed Poniatowski's main reserve. The Poles were not followed by Austrian cavalry.

Map of battle of Raszyn.
Mapa bitwy pod Raszynem.

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Deployment of Polish troops at Raszyn.
Poniatowski defended the crossing points with small detachments
while strong reserve was held in the center.
"It was a good defensive position..." - George Nafziger

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Polish artillery in battle. Picture: Polish horse artillery at Raszyn in 1809, by W. Kossak.

The Polish infantry and artillery already stood near Raszyn and waited for the enemy to come.

Why Raszyn ? Poniatowski selected his battlefield at that village, because it was just few miles from Warsaw, a city he could not politically afford abandoning without a fight. "It was a good defensive position behind a river that was bordered with heavy marshes crossed by only a few bridges and causeways." (Nafziger - "Poles and Saxons of the Napoleonic Wars" p 102)

The Mrowa Stream (Rawka Stream) was marshy and only crossable at few points. Poniatowski defended these crossing points with small detachments and strong reserve was held in the center. Along the stream were numerous trees obstructing the full sight of the battlefield. [See map below.]

Poniatowski deployed his troops as follow:
Advance-Guard (3 battalions, 6 guns) - General Sokolnicki
- - - - - 4* guns near the village of Falenty
- - - - - I/1st Infantry Regiment (850 bayonets) near Falenty
- - - - - I/8th Infantry Regiment (760 bayonets) near Falenty
- - - - - I/6th Infantry Regiment in front of the dike near Janki
- - - - - 2* guns in front of the dike near Janki
Right flank (2 battalions, 4 guns) - General Bieganski
- - - - - 4 guns near the village of Michalowice
- - - - - I, II/3rd Infantry Regiment (1,700 bayonets) at Michalowice
Left flank (2 battalions, 6 guns) - GB Kamieniecki
- - - - - Foot Battery (6 foot guns) at Jaworow
- - - - - II/1st Infantry Regiment (800 bayonets) was deployed in line, behind light fieldworks, in front of Jaworow
- - - - - II/8th Infantry Regiment (800 bayonets) half was deployed in line, behind light fieldworks, on the left flank of II/8th
- - - - - and about half was held in reserve near the village, ready to cover the road to Dawidy
- - - - - Saxon hussar squadron stood at Dawidy
Center (5 battalions, 14 guns) - General Polentz
- - - - - 2 guns
- - - - - I, II/2nd Infantry Regiment
- - - - - 12 Saxon guns
- - - - - Saxon grenadiers
- - - - - Saxon infantry battalion
- - - - - Saxon infantry battalion
Reserve (16 squadrons, 5 guns) - General Rozniecki
- - - - - 1st Horse Chasseur Regiment (4 squadrons)
- - - - - 2nd Uhlan Regiment (4 squadrons)
- - - - - 3rd Uhlan Regiment (4 squadrons)
- - - - - 6th Uhlan Regiment (4 squadrons)
- - - - - Horse Battery (5 horse guns)
* - shortly before the battle began the guns were deployed on a new position.
The 4 and 2 guns formed a battery of six pieces and were placed near the village of Falenty
under the command of Captain Soltyk. From the new position they could fire on the flank
of Austrian infantry.
Three horse guns were brought from the reserve and deployed near Soltyk's battery.
See map below.

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Photos of the battlefield.

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Photo: church in Raszyn in 1914.
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Falenty

Photo: view on the village of Falenty from Austrian positions near Wygoda. 2014.
The village and the dike beyond it, were the keys to Polish-Saxon positions.

Falenty

Photo: One of the ponds between Falenty and Raszyn. 2014.

One of the ponds between Falenty and Raszyn

Photo: view on Raszyn from the Austrian positions near Janki. 2014.

view on Raszyn from the Austrian positions near Janki

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Two Austrian infantry brigades and some hussars
attacked Polish positions near the dike.

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Poniatowski thought that the Austrians will halt their advance and set a camp. He feared an Austrian attempt to march on Jaworowo and outflank him on the next day. Such maneuver would force Poniatowski into quick retreat to Warsaw. But that didn't happen. Ferdinand d'Este was eager to attack immediately and ordered Mohr to attack Falenty without waiting for the rest of the corps.

In afternoon the Poles saw the first echelons of MG Mohr's Advance Guard. Looming dust clouds and the firing of skirmishers (2-3 companies of voltigeurs from Sokolnicki's battalions) heralded the advance of Austrian corps.
The whitecoats were coming in large numbers, battalion after battalion marched out of the woods. The infantry started forward from the fringe of pines, their well dressed formations surging on like a white wave crested with a glistening foam of steel.
"Surprised at finding the entire army before him, he (the Austrian commander) decided to attack immediately with his main effort at Jaworow on the shortest route to Warsaw. Confounded by difficult terrain and Polish bullets, however, the main attack soon dissolved into a time-consuming search for bridging materials and the battle came to focus on the action in the centre." (Gill - "With Eagles to Glory" p 282)

Austrian infantry and guns. About 2 PM the cannonade errupted along the entire front. The Austrian artillery opened fire and the Polish weren't slow to return the salute. Pillars of milky smoke drifted in clouds over the fields. After a cannon discharged and recoiled, the crew grabbed hold of the wheels, and pushed it back to its previous spot. It was hard work; the guns and the ammunition were heavy.

Mohr's 5 battalions, supported by 12 cannons, attacked Sokolnicki's 3 battalions with 6 guns. Thick gun smoke covered the fields and marshy meadows. In that moment Poniatowski was in his headquarters in Raszyn. He immediately mounted his horse and rode toward Falenty. Three horse guns were brought from the reserves and deployed in front of the village. Two squadrons of hussars were met with canister fire from Soltyk's battery and rapidly fell back.

Austrian infantry at Raszyn.

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Austrian cavalry and infantry
attempted to outflank the Poles.

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During the struggle between Sokolnicki's advance guard and Mohr's advance guard, 4 squadrons of Austrian hussars moved against Polish troops (under Kamieniecki) at Jaworowo. Polish artillery however opened fire and halted the attackers. The hussars fell back into a marsh where they became stuck. The artillery pounded them more, inflicting some casualties before the hussars were able to withdraw.

Austrian cuirassiers One of the Austrian cuirassier regiments moved against Kamieniecki's troops and found themselves in the knee-deep mud. The iron-clad men mounted on big horses found it difficult to escape from the trap and the Polish artillery punished them too. The cuirassiers finally withdrew toward Tarczyn.

The Austrians continued their attempts to turn Poniatowski's flank at Jaworowo. Kamieniecki's troops were attacked frontally by Austrian infantry regiment and from the left flank by two battalions of Wallachian Grenzers. Approx. 4,000 Austrians were passing with some difficulties through the marshy ground when the Polish artillery opened fire and brought them to a sharp stop. It took some time before several companies managed to cross the Mrowa (Rawka) River.

Map of battle of Raszyn.
Mapa bitwy pod Raszynem.

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Poniatowski led his infantry
in bayonet counter-attack.

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The Austrians however had their focus set on the center of the Polish line, on Falenty and the Alder Wood. At 3 pm they attempted to take both points with the Vukassovich Infantry Regiment (2.100-2.400 bayonets). The position was defended by I/8th Infantry (700-800 bayonets) under Colonel Godebski, a veteran of Italian campaign. Both sides were supported by artillery.

Polish infantry in combat.
Picture by Telenik The attackers got into the village and captured some buildings, incl. the granary. The Poles counterattacked. The heavy fighting raged for one hour. Colonel Godebski was mortally wounded. He received one musketball in his leg and one "below chest" and was carried off the battlefield. The 8th Infantry began slowly falling back toward the Raszyn causeway.

In this critical moment Prince Poniatowski arrived and halted the withdrawal. Then he rode to the battalion of 1st Infantry already formed in column. Poniatowski dismounted and with bayonet in hand led them in a counter-attack (see picture below).

The Austrians rapidly fell back and the village of Falenty and the wood were recaptured by the Poles.

Poniatowski rode to the 1st Infantry Regiment. 
He dismounted and with bayonet in hand led them 
in a counterattack. 
Picture by Kossak
Picture: Battle of Raszyn 1809 by W. Kossak.
Prince Poniatowski (left center, wearing the red breeches) with bayonet in hand led the infantry in a counter -attack. The Austrians (right) were routed. This picture is not authentic in its details (for example, there were no Austrian grenadiers at Raszyn) but is evidence of the enduring interest in the military history of Poland. By the way, this is one of the most known in Poland military pictures.

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Below are pictures from the film Popioly ("Ashes") showing one of the first the Austrian attacks at Raszyn, fight for the dike, and Poniatowski's infantry recapturing the position.

Battle of Raszyn from the film Ashes

Battle of Raszyn from the film Ashes

Battle of Raszyn from the film Ashes

Battle of Raszyn from the film Ashes

Map of battle of Raszyn.
Mapa bitwy pod Raszynem.

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Austrian offensive.

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The Austrians attacked with two and half brigade. The heavy cannonade of 24 Austrian guns caused a lot of damage within short time: several Polish caissons with amunitions exploded forcing the guns positioned near Raszyn to withdraw. The village of Falenty was set on fire.

Austrian infantry at Raszyn, 1809
Photo from the movie Ashes by A Wajda. The Austrians sent forward 2 battalions to capture the grove by Falenty. Although the fighting lasted for two hours the Austrians were unable to dislodge Sokolnicki's infantry.

It was 6 pm and getting dark when several more Austrian battalions joined the fighting. Polish battalion at Janki was attacked by cavalry and infantry and fell back. Two Austrian battalions found a gap in Polish position, between Janki and the grove. Once the attackers moved into the gap the troops under Sokolnicki fell back. They left 2 guns and were quickly withdrawing down the causeway when Austrian artillery opened fire on them. The Poles suffered badly, groups of infantrymen hurriedly crossed the muddy stream while others run across the causeway. Polish chief of staff Fiszer (or Fisher) was wounded.

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Austrian artillery.
Austrian artillery at Raszyn.
Photo from reenactnment of this battle.

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Austrians, Poles and Saxons
in desperate fight for Raszyn.

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Raszyn itself was defended by Saxon grenadiers and infantry with 12 guns. In reserve behind the village stood the Polish 2nd Infantry with 2 guns. Also the I/6th from Janki found itself at Raszyn. Between Raszyn and the dike stood a mill surrounded by a wall. Poniatowski defended the strongpoint with several Saxon and Polish companies.

Austrian infantry in combat. While one Austrian column moved directly on the village, another column marched across a wet meadow on the left of Raszyn.

The marshy terrain however prevented them from bringing forward their guns and decimating the Saxons. The artillery was limited to long range canister and uneffective roundshot fire. Around 8 pm the Austrians managed to capture part of Raszyn.

Polish infantry in combat. Poniatowski brought forward 12 Saxon and 4 Polish guns and opened a galling fire on the Austrians in the village. The Prince was among the gunners and encouraged them to double their efforts. The Austrian guns provided only a weak support for their infantry as they were too far behind.

For almost an hour the Poles and Saxons bombarded Raszyn with grenades and the Austrian infantry with canister. At 9 pm the Polish infantry counter-attacked and drove the enemy back. The burning Raszyn was retaken but the causeway was in Austrian hands.

Map of battle of Raszyn.
Mapa bitwy pod Raszynem.

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The Saxons marched off
angering the Poles.

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Saxon infantry in 1810. 
Picture by Knotel Between 9 pm and 10 pm the battle was over and the Saxons marched off angering the Poles. The Polish soldiers had no idea that French Marshal Bernadotte had attempted to order these Saxons back to Saxony already 4 days before battle. (Poniatowski countermanded the order for the duration of the first battle.) In this situation at 10 pm Poniatowski decided to leave the battlefield and march on Warsaw.

The Grand Duchy of Warsaw was in a personal union with the Kingdom of Saxony. King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony was compelled by Napoleon to make his new realm a constitutional monarchy, with a parliament. The best part of the small Saxon army was the heavy cavalry. (The Garde du Corps was among the best heavy cavalry outfits in Europe.) The worst was the artillery. Marshal Bernadotte wrote in 1809 that, "The (Saxon) artillery is poorly organized." Other French generals complained that the Saxon foot artillery was "horrible."

Prince Joseph Poniatowski Upon his arrival before Warsaw, Archduke Ferdinand d'Este asked Poniatowski for an interview. According to Roman Soltyk, the Austrian commander received Poniatowski with great courtesy, "commending his conduct at Raszyn and the conduct of his brave troops."

The Polish defense at Raszyn convinced the Austrians to allow the tiny Polish army south-east passage, in exchange for the surrender of Warsaw. Poniatowski's troops then overran Austrian-occupied Poland while the Austrian corps was tied up garrisoning Warsaw. During the campaign "The Poles continued to push south and west into Austrian territory and were in a position to threaten Moravia and northern Hungary when the armistice was concluded." (John Gill - "With Eagles to Glory" p 59)

After Napoleon won his campaign along the Danube and Poniatowski in Poland, the north-western part of the Austrian territory was incorporated into the Duchy of Warsaw. The territory of Poland was very much enlarged.

Austrian infantry at Raszyn
Austrians on captured dike, marching on Raszyn.
(Picture from the film Popioly (Ashes).

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Casualties.
Austrians: 2,000-2,500
Poles and Saxons: 1,000-1,500

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Polish ADC at Raszyn 1.
According to George Nafziger and Jerzy Wesolowski ("Poles and Saxons of the Napoleonic Wars" p. 104) the Poles lost "450 killed, 800 to 900 wounded, and 43 prisoners. The Austrian losses amounted to about 2.500 killed and wounded." The heavier Austrian casualties were due to the fact that they were fighting in open field while the Poles were positioned in the wood and villages.
2.
Roman Soltyk writes that "the Polish army lost about 450 killed, 900 wounded and 40 prisoners. The Austrians, who fought most of the day in the open, lost substantially more. Their losses were estimated at 2,500 men."
3.
Digby Smith ("The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book" publ. 1998) list the Polish casualties as above, but strangely lists the Austrian losses at only 450 dead and wounded.

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Among Polish casualties was Colonel Godebski, commander of the fine 8th Infantry Regiment.


Part of diorama of battle of Raszyn.


Polish infantry of the Napoleonic Wars.

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Miscellaneous.

The contending armies in the War were organized with the intent of establishing smooth command and control in the warzone. The regiment was the administrative unit of the war. It usually consisted of 2 or 3 battalions when first organized. The attrition of disease, combat, and desertion would reduce this number. Regiments were usually led by colonels.

Battalion was the tactical unit in both, Polish and Austrian, armies.
Austrian battalion consisted of 6 companies. (See diagram below.)
Two companies formed a division.
Theoretically each company numbered 180-200 men and was commanded by captain.
Austrian company consisted of 4 platoons. These were the smallest blocks.

Infanterie exercir reglament 1807
Austrian battalion and company (based on K.u.K. Inf. Exercir Reglement 1807)

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Sources and Links.
Recommended Reading.

Information supplied by Jan Kowalik, P B Black, L. Sorensen and Stefan Swietliczko
John Stallaert's website devoted to the Austrian army and uniforms.
Soltyk - "Relation des operations de l'armee polonaise pendant la campagne de 1809.."
Hollins - "Austrian Grenadiers and Infantry"
Zych - "Polish-Austrian War of 1809"
Zych - "Armia Ksiestwa Warszawskiego 1807-1812"
Bowden, Tarbox - "Armies on the Danube 1809" 1981
Wojcicki - "Cmentarz powazkowski" 1855
The Department of History at the US Military Academy - series of campaign atlases
Exner - "Die Antheilnahme der Koniglich Sachsischen Armee am Felkdzuge gegen
Oesterreich und die kriegerischen Ereignisse in Sachsen im Jahre 1809"
Kiley - "Artillery of the Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815"

Napoleon, His Army and Enemies