The Franco-Austrian War of 1809 was Napoleon’s last victorious war. He would win many battles in his future campaigns, but never again would one of Europe’s great powers lie broken at his feet. In this respect 1809 represents a high point of the First Empire yet at the same time Napoleon’s armies were declining in quality and he was beginning to display the corrosive flaws that contributed to his downfall five years later.
Softback 512 pages with Maps and illustrations
In this first volume Gill tackles the political background to the war and the opening battles of Abensberg, Eggmuhl and Regensberg. He explores the motivations that prompted Austria to launch an offensive against France while Napoleon and many of his veterans were distracted in Spain. Though surprised by the timing of the Austrian attack on the 10th April, the French Emperor completely reversed a dire strategic situation with stunning blows that he called his ‘most brilliant and most skilful manoeuvres’. Following a breathless pursuit down the Danube valley, Napoleon occupied the palaces of the Habsburgs for the second time in four years. Basing his work on years of primary research and battlefield visits, Gill provides a thorough analysis replete with spectacular combat, diplomatic intrigue and the illustrious cast of characters that populated this extraordinary age. The concluding volumes will take the war to its conclusion, including Napoleon’s first unequivocal repulse at the Battle of Espern-Essling, the titanic Battle of Wagram and the neglected struggle at Znaim that led to armistice.
“Sheds new light on well-known stages in the battle…he has covered more than just an epochal battle in a magnificent book that will satisfy the most avid enthusiasts of Napoleonic era” Foundation Napoleon
Volume II: The Fall of Vienna and the Battle of Aspern
2 Softback 464 pages with Maps and illustrations
In the second volume of this epic work, John H. Gill traces Napoleon’s progress as he sought to complete his victory over the Habsburgs. The war had erupted on April 10th with Austria’s invasion of Germany and Italy. After just two weeks, Napoleon had battered the Habsburg Archduke Charles in a series of bruising defeats. This volume begins with Napoleon astride the Danube at Regensburg. He faced a critical strategic choice – whether to pursue the injured Austrian main army into Bohemia or march directly for Vienna, the seat of Habsburg power. After electing to target Vienna, his troops defeated the Austrians in the brutal Battle of Ebelsberg, allowing him to enter the city on May 13th. However on the far side of the Danube, he then suffered a dramatic loss at the gruelling, two-day Battle of Aspern. While his Danube forces recovered from this setback, the Emperor cleared trouble from his strategic flanks. Gill describes in vivid detail the hopeful Habsburg invasion of Italy, led by the 27-year-old Archduke Johann, and the fierce French counter-offensive under Napoleon’s stepson, Eugene de Beauharnais (also aged 27). In a series of encounters across Italy, de Beauharnais rebounded from initial defeat to advance triumphantly into Austrian territory, shattering and scattering Johann’s army. In the wake of Aspern, while the Austrians vacillated, Napoleon gathered every man, horse and gun around Vienna, setting the stage for the gigantic spectacle of the Battle of Wagram, the final chapter in the story of the 1809 war.
“Very impressive piece of work and is unlikely to be surpassed …one of the best examples of traditional Military History you will find, and will be a value to an academic audience and of great interest to a more general audience. A very impressive achievement and a very valuable guide to Napoleon’s last victory.”–History of War
Volume III: Wagram and Znaim
3 Softback 576 pages with Maps and illustrations
With this third volume John Gill brings to a close his magisterial study of the war between Napoleonic France and Habsburg Austria. The account begins with both armies recuperating on the banks of the Danube. As they rest, important action was taking place elsewhere: Eugene won a crucial victory over Johann on the anniversary of Marengo, Prince Poniatowski’s Poles outflanked another Austrian archduke along the Vistula, and Marmont drove an Austrian force out of Dalmatia to join Napoleon at Vienna. These campaigns set the stage for the titanic Battle of Wagram. Second only in scale to the slaughter at Leipzig in 1813, Wagram saw more than 320,000 men and 900 guns locked in two days of fury that ended with an Austrian retreat. The defeat, however, was not complete: Napoleon had to force another engagement before Charles would accept a ceasefire. The battle at Znaim, its true importance often not acknowledged, brought an extended armistice that ended with a peace treaty signed in Vienna. Gill uses an impressive array of sources in an engaging narrative covering both the politics of emperors and the privations and hardship common soldiers suffered in battle. Enriched with unique illustrations, forty maps, and extraordinary order-of-battle detail, this work concludes an unrivalled English-language study of Napoleon’s last victory.
“The text is well-written and entertaining, the maps are generally excellent, portraits of many of the commanders are provided, and there are extensive OOBs for Wagram and Znaim. This is an example of how history should be written. Highly recommended.” –The Miniatures Page