|Battle of Hohenlinden|
|Part of the War of the Second Coalition|
Electorate of Bavaria
|General Moreau||Archduke John|
|Casualties and losses|
|3,000 dead and wounded||4,600 dead and
76 cannons lost
The Battle of Hohenlinden was fought on 3 December 1800 during the French Revolutionary Wars, near Munich, modern Germany. The battle resulted in a French victory under General Jean Moreau against the Austrians and Bavarians under Archduke John of Austria, forcing the Austrians to sign an armistice.
Moreau's 56,000 strong army engaged some 64,000 Austrians and Bavarians. Using Richepanse's division in a surprise flanking move, Moreau ambushed the Austrians on a road through the Ebersberg forest. This decisive victory, coupled with First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte's victory at Marengo on 14 June 1800, ended the War of the Second Coalition. The following February (1801), the Austrians signed the Treaty of Lunéville, accepting French control up to the Rhine and the French puppet republics in Italy and the Netherlands. The subsequent Treaty of Amiens between France and Britain began the longest break in the wars of the Napoleonic period.
From April to July 1800, Moreau's army hustled the Austrian army of Pál Kray from the Rhine River to the Inn River after victories at Stockach, Messkirch, and Höchstädt. On 15 July, the combatants agreed to an armistice. Realizing that Kray was no longer up to the task, Emperor Francis II removed him from command. Because the capable Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen refused the command, the emperor appointed his 18 year old brother, Archduke John. Clearly, the inexperienced youth could not cope with this enormous responsibility, so the emperor nominated Franz von Lauer as his second-in-command. John was directed to follow Lauer's instructions. To further complicate the clumsy command structure, the aggressive Franz von Weyrother was named John's chief-of-staff.
The armistice was renewed in September but lapsed on 12 November. By this time, Weyrother had convinced John and Lauer to adopt an offensive posture. The Austrian army launched a sudden attack against Moreau's French forces. In a tough action at Ampfing on December 1, the Austrians drove back a French rear guard under Michel Ney. The French lost 1,700 men but inflicted 3,000 casualties on the Austrians. Moreau decided to deploy his army in open ground near Hohenlinden. To approach his position, the Austro-Bavarians had to advance directly west through heavily wooded terrain.
Moreau's main defensive position consisted of four divisions facing east. From north to south, these were commanded by Claude Legrand (8,000), Louis Bastoul (6,000), Ney (10,000) and Emmanuel Grouchy (9,000). The Legrand, Bastoul and Ney divisions belonged to Paul Grenier's corps. Moreau held 2,000 heavy cavalry under Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul in reserve. Off to the south were two more divisions, under Antoine Richepanse (11,000) and Charles Decaen (10,000), which along with Grouchy's division formed Moreau's Reserve Corps. Moreau planned to have Richepanse march northeast to strike the Austrian left, or southern flank. His main line would maneuver in open terrain and counterattack the Austrians as they emerged from the woods. Decaen would support Richepanse.
According to the battle plan drawn up by Weyrother, the Austrians advanced west in four columns. From north to south these were commanded by Michael von Kienmayer (16,000), Maximilien de Baillet (11,000), Johann Kollowrat (20,000) and Johann Riesch (13,000). Archduke John rode with Kollowrat's force, which used the main east-west highway. Due to the densely forested terrain and poor staff work, the Austrian columns were not mutually supporting. Their commanders mistakenly thought the French were in retreat and were rushing to catch their enemies before they could escape.
The Hohenlinden Order of Battle lists the French and Austrian army organizations.
All Austrian columns started at dawn. Kollowrat made good time and collided with Grouchy's division at 7 am. To the north, Kienmayer struck some French outposts and drove them back to the main line. Meanwhile, Riesch and Baillet, moving along forest trails amid snow and sleet squalls, fell badly behind schedule. Consequently, Richepanse's flanking column passed in front of Riesch.
At this point, two Austrian grenadier battalions sent back by Kollowrat to search for Riesch sliced Richepanse's division in half. With single-minded determination, Richepanse left his rear brigade under Jean-Baptiste Drouet to fight it out and drove to the north with his leading brigade. He fought through to the main highway then swerved west, directly into Kollowrat's rear.
Baillet, hearing gunfire from two directions, panicked. He fragmented his command into penny packets, trying to make contact with the French in front of him and the friendly columns on either side. While Baillet dithered, Kienmayer and Kollowrat began assaulting the main French line. Grenier's divisions and Grouchy stubbornly held their ground.
About noon, Decaen came up in support of Drouet's brigade near the southern edge of the battlefield. The situation was very fluid, with units blundering into each other in the snowy woods. Eventually, Decaen halted Riesch's poorly managed column and pushed it back to the east.
Hearing cannon fire to his rear, Archduke John sent back unit after unit to clear the main highway but Richepanse defeated each force. Moreau, scenting victory, ordered his other divisions to attack. At last, hemmed in on three sides by Ney, Grouchy and Richepanse, Kollowrat's column disintegrated. The Archduke escaped capture, but many of his men were not so lucky and 9,000 Austrians and Bavarians surrendered along with 76 cannons. Thanks to the able combat leadership of Karl Schwarzenberg, who led Kienmayer's left division, the Austrian right column escaped without substantial damage. Baillet cravenly retreated after being only lightly engaged.
The Austro-Bavarians reported 4,600 killed and wounded. The French admitted casualties of 1,900, but they probably lost at least 3,000 men. Bastoul was mortally wounded.
After the disaster, Archduke John ordered his demoralized army into a rapid retreat. Moreau pursued slowly until 8 December. Then, in 15 days, his forces advanced 300 km and captured 20,000 Austrians in a series of actions at Rosenheim, Salzburg, Neumarkt am Wallersee, Frankenmarkt, Schwanenstadt, Vöcklabruck, Lambach and Kremsmünster in which Richepanse and Claude Lecourbe distinguished themselves. On 17 December, when Archduke Charles relieved his brother John, the Austrian army was practically a rabble. On 24 December, with French forces 80 km from Vienna, Charles requested an armistice. The French victory at Hohenlinden set Moreau up as a potential rival to Napoleon Bonaparte.