Battle of Nachod

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Battle of Náchod
Nachod 1.JPG
Cavalry clash at the Battle of Nachod by Richard Knötel
Date 27 June 1866
Location Nachod, Bohemia
Result Prussian victory
Belligerents
 Prussia  Austrian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Prussia Von Steinmetz Austrian Empire Von Ramming[1]
Casualties and losses
1,122[1] 5,719[1]

The Battle of Nachod (or Náchod) on 27 June 1866 was the first major action of the Austro-Prussian War. The advance guard of General Karl Friedrich von Steinmetz's 5th Corps occupied some high ground near Nachod as part of a Prussian advance into Bohemia from Silesia. Elements of the Austrian 6th Corps under General Von Ramming came on the scene and attacked the Prussians but were repulsed. As more Austrians arrived, they were ordered into attacks which proved both costly and unsuccessful. Finally, the badly mauled Austrians retreated from the field. The Prussian infantry enjoyed a technical advantage in having the needle gun, a breech-loading rifle that could be fired and loaded from a prone position. Consequently, the Austrian infantry, which were only equipped with muzzle-loading rifles, suffered a disproportionate number of casualties.

Events[edit]

The Prussian Second Army, invading Bohemia, had to split up in order to negotiate the passes of the Riesen Mountains. General Karl Friedrich von Steinmetz's 5th Corps was nearly caught as it emerged from a gully by the village of Nachod, Bohemia. The King’s Grenadiers were in the advance guard, and raced forward, first to occupy some woods outside the gully’s opening, and then to take possession of the heights above Wenzelsberg. The Austrian Colonel Hertwegh was supposed to occupy the next village of Wysokow so as to block the road, but instead, when he got to Wenzelsberg he wheeled right to attack the Prussians on the ridge above; the King’s Grenadiers simply mowed his men down. It was now that the superiority of Prussian equipment made itself felt. Their new breech-loading needle guns enabled them to fire three shots to the Austrians’ muzzle-loader's one. The Prussian cavalry now rode forward along the road to stop the Austrians reaching Wysokow, and here a cavalry battle developed.

The King’s Grenadiers now came down the slope over the bodies of Herwegh’s men and occupied Wenzelsberg. A new Austrian brigade arrived and a fearful struggle ensued over the churchyard. The grenadiers were driven out of it but held on to most of the village for two hours while the rest of the 9th Division arrived.

Yet another Austrian brigade now appeared, and this time it had unmistakable orders to take Wysokow. As the famous Viennese Hoch-und-Deutschmeister Regiment, the last fighting vestige of the old Teutonic Order, burst into the town, Colonel Louis von Blumenthal arrived at the head of the 52nd Foot on their right flank. Though the fighting continued, the result was not now in doubt. The Prussian firepower goaded the Austrians into courageous but costly bayonet charges; their officers lost control, and five and a half thousand men fell to the Prussians’ thousand. The news electrified Berlin. Von Steinmetz was hailed as the “Lion of Nachod,” and Bismarck found for the first time in his life that he was popular.

Map[edit]

Battle of Nachod on a relief in Berlin, by Moritz Schulz, 1872

http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/cannae/maps_41_60.pdf See Map 45 Courtesy of US Combined Arms Center [1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Volley & Bayonet

References[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • Lydia Baštecká, Ivana Ebelová, 'Náchod', Nachod 2004, ISBN 80-7106-674-5
  • Wilhelm Mader, Chronik der Stadt Lewin, Lewin 1868
  • Slavomir Ravik, Tam u Králového Hradce, Praha 2001, ISBN 80-242-0584-X
  • Heinz Helmert; Hans-Jürgen Usczeck: Preussisch-deutsche Kriege von 1864 bis 1871 - Militärischer Verlauf, 6. überarbeitete Auflage, Militärverlag der deutschen demokratischen Republik, Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-327-00222-3