Battle of Raszyn (1809)
The first Battle of Raszyn was fought on 19 April 1809 between armies of the Austrian Empire and the Duchy of Warsaw, as part of the War of the Fifth Coalition in the Napoleonic Wars. The Austrians were defeated.
The Austrian army under Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph of Austria-Este invaded the Duchy of Warsaw in April 1809. Polish troops under Prince Józef Antoni Poniatowski withstood the Austrians' attack on Warsaw, defeating them at Radzymin, and reconquered parts of former Poland, including Kraków and Lwów, by beating the Austrians near the villages of Góra and Grochów.
The battlefield’s terrain is dominated by several villages and by the river Utrata, which during April is unfordable. The only way to cross the river is at the ponds of Raszyn, Dawidy or Michalowice, which were all under Polish control.
After a preparatory cannonade started at 14.00, the Austrian infantry attacked around 15.00 the Polish screening forces. The Poles gradually yielded terrain to the attacker. Austrian attempts to outflank the Polish position near Jaworowo were without success. After the village of Falenty was captured at 16.00 Poniatowski launched a counterattack which evicted the Austrians from the town and re-establishing the Polish line. Around 17.00 a combined attack was launched against Raszyn. Repulsed by the Saxon units, the Austrians called up reinforcements and took the town around 19.00 but where unable to progress beyond the last houses of the village. The Poles again counterattacked at 21.00 and drove the Austrians from Raszyn but were unable to recapture the causeway. Fighting progressed until 22.00 when the Poles evacuated the battlefield.
After the Austrian army withdrew to the other side of the swamps, prince Józef Poniatowski ordered his forces to withdraw towards Warsaw. However, since the city fortifications were in a very bad shape and the Saxon expeditionary force withdrew towards their homeland, Poniatowski decided to leave Warsaw undefended and withdraw to several fortresses located nearby (most notably to Modlin Fortress and Serock). The capital was seized with little opposition, but it was a Pyrrhic victory since the Austrian commander diverted most of his forces there at the expense of other fronts. In the following weeks Greater Poland was defended by the Corps of General Henryk Dąbrowski and the Polish cavalry seized Lwów. Finally, Poniatowski left only a small force near Warsaw to prevent the Austrians from leaving it and moved the rest of his forces southwards, which led to capturing the city of Kraków.
On 14 October 1809 the Treaty of Schönbrunn was signed between Austria and France. According to it, the former state lost approximately 50 000 square kilometres of land inhabited by over 1 900 000 people. The territories annexed by the Duchy of Warsaw included the lands of Zamość and Kraków as well as 50% of income of the Wieliczka salt mines.
The Battle of Raszyn is commemorated on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw, with the inscription "RASZYN 19 IV 1809".
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