Battle of Galicia

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Battle of Galicia
Part of the Eastern Front during World War I
EasternFront1914a.jpg
Eastern Front, September 1914.
Date 23 August – 11 September 1914
Location Lemberg, Galicia (modern-day Ukraine)
Result Russian victory
Belligerents
 Russian Empire  Austria-Hungary
Commanders and leaders
Russian Empire Nikolai Ivanov
Russian Empire Baron Salza
Russian Empire Alexei Evert
Russian Empire Pavel Plehve
Russian Empire Nikolai Ruzsky
Russian Empire Aleksei Brusilov
Austria-Hungary Archduke Friedrich
Austria-Hungary Conrad von Hötzendorf
Austria-Hungary Viktor Dankl
Austria-Hungary Moritz von Auffenberg
Austria-Hungary Rudolf Brudermann
Austria-Hungary Eduard von Böhm
Austria-Hungary Herrmann von Kövess
Strength
1,200,000 950,000
Casualties and losses
225,000 324,000[1]

The Battle of Galicia, also known as the Battle of Lemberg, was a major battle between Russia and Austria-Hungary during the early stages of World War I in 1914. In the course of the battle, the Austro-Hungarian armies were severely defeated and forced out of Galicia, while the Russians captured Lemberg and, for approximately nine months, ruled Eastern Galicia.

Background[edit]

When war with Russia became apparent in the beginning of August, the Austro-Hungarian chief-of-staff Conrad von Hötzendorf decided to launch an offensive into Russian Poland with his northern armies (the 1st and 4th). As the Russian army would soon be able to mobilize forces greatly superior in numbers to that of the Central Powers in the East (especially the Austro-Hungarian armies, which were Russia's primary target), von Hötzendorf saw his only chance in an early victory.

He also hoped that Germany would join his offensive into Poland, but that hope was frustrated by the fact that Germany only deployed few troops in East Prussia ordered entirely on the defence. Thus, the 1st and 4th Austro-Hungarian armies started their advance into Poland without definite German support. Initially they were opposed by the Russian 4th and 5th armies respectively.

Meanwhile, Nikolai Ivanov, the Russian commander of the Southwest Front, was expecting an Austro-Hungarian offensive from Lemberg in eastern direction. This was to be met by a Russian offensive into eastern Galicia with the Russian 3rd and 8th armies.

Battles[edit]

Main article: Battle of Kraśnik

The Austro-Hungarian 1st Army under Viktor Dankl was moving in the north towards Lublin. Dankl struck and drove back Baron Salza's Russian Fourth Army in what would be known as the Battle of Kraśnik. Dankl's army was able to capture 6,000 prisoners.

To the right of Dankl the Auffenberg's 4th Army, aiming at Cholm, drove back the Russian Fifth Army under Pavel Plehve in the Battle of Komarów, capturing 20,000 prisoners and inflicting heavy casualties. However, a planned Austrian enveloping movement around the Russian army failed.

Main article: Battle of Gnila Lipa

As the Russians were being driven back along the northern front, the Austrian 3rd Army and Army Group Kovess made a simultaneous advance against Ivanov's left wing. Along the southern front Ivanov had the Russian Third Army under Nikolai Ruzsky and the Russian Eighth Army under the capable Aleksei Brusilov. Brusilov and Ruszky routed the Austro-Hungarians so thoroughly that even though poor roads necessitated that the Russians halt for two days, the Austrians could not regroup to halt the Russian drive. This attack became known as the Battle of Gnila Lipa.

Main article: Battle of Rawa

With the entire 3rd Army and Kovess Group in full retreat, Conrad pulled forces away from northern front which he believed had been sufficiently defeated. In fact the Russians north of Lemberg were still a potential threat. Ivanov ordered Plehve's Fifth Army to attack and drove the Austrians back as they began to shift forces to the south in an engagement known as the Battle of Rava Ruska. The Austrian Second Army was quickly recalled from Serbia but it was too late and the entire Austrian front collapsed in Galicia and the Russians took control of Lemberg.

Results[edit]

As the Austrians retreated many Slavic soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian Army simply surrendered and some even offered to fight for the Russians. A total of some 130,000 prisoners were taken by the Russians by the time the battle subsided on September 11, while they inflicted 324,000 casualties. The Russians suffered 225,000 casualties, including 40,000 captured. The Russians had pushed the front 160 kilometers (100 miles) into the Carpathian Mountains, completely surrounded the Austrian fortress of Przemyśl and started a Siege of Przemyśl which lasted for over a hundred days. The battle severely damaged the Austro-Hungarian Army, destroyed a large portion of its trained officers, and crippled Austria. Though the Russians had been utterly crushed at the Battle of Tannenberg, their victory at Lemberg prevented that defeat from fully taking its toll on Russian public opinion.

Order of battle[edit]

Russian forces[edit]

Russian South-Western front. Commander-in-chief – Nikolai Ivanov, Chief of Staff – Mikhail Alekseyev

Austro-Hungarian forces[edit]

  • Army group Kummer
    • 7. Cavalry Division
    • Landsturm forces
  • 1st Army. Commander — Viktor Dankl
    • I. Corps (Cracow) – 5 and 46 Infantry Divisions
    • V. Corps (Bratislava) – 14., 33. and 37 Infantry Divisions
    • X. Corps (Przemysl) – 2., 24. and 45. Infantry Divisions
    • 12. Infantry Division
    • 3. Cavalry Division
    • 9. Cavalry Division
  • 4th Army. Commander — Moritz von Auffenberg
    • II. Corps (Wien) – 4., 13. and 25. Infantry Divisions
    • VI. Corps (Kaschau) – 15., 27. and 39. Infantry Divisions
    • IX. Corps (Leitmeritz) – 10. and 26. Infantry Divisions
    • XVII. Corps (formed on outbreak of war) – 19. Infantry Division
    • 6. Cavalry Division
    • 10. Cavalry Division
  • 3rd Army. Commander — Rudolf Brudermann
    • XI. Corps (Lemberg) – 30. Infantry Division
    • XIV. Corps (Innsbruck) – 3., 8. and 44. Infantry Division
    • 23. Infantry Division
    • 41. Infantry Division
    • 2. Cavalry Division
    • 4. Cavalry Division
  • Army group Kövess (later part of the 2nd Army))
    • III. Corps (Graz) – 6., 28. and 22. Infantry Divisions
    • XII. Corps (Hermannstadt) – 16., 35. and 38. Infantry Divisions
    • 11. Infantry Division
    • 43. Infantry Division
    • 20. Infantry Division
    • 1. Cavalry Division
    • 5. Cavalry Division
    • 8. Cavalry Division

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Conrad von Hötzendorff. Aus meiner Dienstzeit. Band IV. 28. Juni 1914 bis September 1914. Die politischen und militärischen Vorgänge vom Fürstenmord in Sarajevo bis zum Abschluß der ersten und bis zum Beginn der zweiten Offensive gegen Serbien und Rußland, Berlin 1924; page 804

Coordinates: 49°51′00″N 24°01′00″E / 49.8500°N 24.0167°E / 49.8500; 24.0167