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Koniggratz

Background.
Opposing Armies.
Opening Moves.
The Battlefield.
The Battle.
Prussian Army
Austrian Army
Saxon Army
Photographs
Bibliography

 

 

The Battle of Königgrätz. July 3rd 1866

Introduction.

It is not difficult to understand why the Battle of Königgrätz in 1866 is still considered to be one of the decisive battles of the modern era. It has even been suggested that the rise of Adolf Hitler could not be explained without the events of 1866. While this may be a debatable supposition, the battle and the campaign demonstrated the power of Prussian science and military art.

The Seven Week’s War, as the campaign in Bohemia became popularly known, was the first occasion in which the steel-rifled cannon and the breech-loading rifle were seriously put to the test. [1] Likewise, the use made of the electric telegraph and railways pointed to the future importance of communication and transport. As a battle alone, with no frills attached, Königgrätz (sometimes called Sadowa) was by far the largest battle fought in Europe during the 19th century. Well over 450,000 men were on the field in an area of less than eight square miles. Within this space the Austrian artillery maintained a rate of fire seldom witnessed before, portending the massed barrage fire of the Great War of 1914-1918. The Austrian cavalry, meanwhile, despite the fearful toll exacted by the Prussian needle gun (named for its needle-shaped firing pin), did indeed prove itself a most disciplined and able force in delaying the advance of the victorious Prussian infantry; but the days of the old fashioned cavalry regiments were clearly numbered when set against rapid rifle fire.

[1] The Danish War of 1864 had seen the Prussians on campaign with their breech-loading rifles, but no real understanding of its full potential was realized, both by the Austrians, or the various military observers who accompanied them on campaign.

 

 

Copyright © 2004  Graham Morris. 
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