Battle of Buda (1849)

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Battle of Buda
Part of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848
Than Buda ostroma.jpg
Painting by Mór Than
Date 4 May 1849 (1849-05-04) – 21 May 1849 (1849-05-21)
Location Buda, Kingdom of Hungary
Result Hungarian victory
Hungary Hungary Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austrian Empire
Commanders and leaders
1848as zaszlo.png Artúr Görgei
1848as zaszlo.png György Kmety
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Heinrich Hentzi  
142 cannon
4,890 men
85 cannon
Casualties and losses
368 dead
c. 700 injured
532 dead
c. 4,204 captured[1]

The Battle of Buda (Hungarian: Buda ostroma) was a battle at Buda, Kingdom of Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. It was part of the Spring Campaign between 4 and 21 May 1849 and ended with Hungarian victory.


Plan of Buda Castle
Main article: Buda Castle

Buda Castle was hardly modern during the Battle of Buda of 1686, and it was antiquated in 1849. It had no fortifications against direct attacks, its water defences were outdated and it was easy to fire at the castle from the nearby hills. However, the determined defenders made the attack difficult.

Evacuation and occupation[edit]

Defence of Buda[edit]

During the Winter Campaign Mór Perczel's army lost the Battle of Mór against Josip Jelačić. Because of this the Hungarians could not defend the Upper Danube. Perczel disagreed with Antal Vetter's and György Klapka's campaign plans. He suggested to Lajos Kossuth that the Hungarian forces move to Buda and Pest (now Budapest, Hungary). However the Hungarians didn't comply with Perczel's wishes, because the enemy looked overwhelming, and the defeat and retreat wore them out.


The Hungarians could not defend the Upper Danube, but it was possible to defend the Castle. The main target of the Austrian leader Alfred I, Prince of Windisch-Grätz was Buda and Pest, but he got no reinforcements to defend the castle.

Renovation of the castle[edit]

The Hungarian troops abandoned the castle after evacuating Buda and Pest. Windisch-Grätz asked Heinrich Hentzi to lead the Austrians and also to repair the castle's walls and towers, to make the water defences stronger. Von Arthurm put at first 85 cannon on the walls, later increasing them to 92.


György Kmety by Károly Brocky

After winning back Komárom the battle at Buda seemed an easy victory for the revolutionaries. The Hungarians approached the castle and occupied the area. Artúr Görgey demanded the Austrians' surrender and promised fair treatment to those captured. Görgey also promised not to attack the castle from the side facing Pest, but that if Hentzi fired at Pest than he would show no mercy. Additionally, Görgey appealed to Hentzi's supposed Magyar sympathies (Hentzi having been born in Debrecen), but Hentzi replied that his loyalty was to the Kaiser.[2]

Hentzi's response was not as Görgey expected: he told Görgey that if the Hungarians didn't stop firing the walls, he would fire at Pest. With this, Görgey started to coordinate the attack.

Attack against the water defences[edit]

Görgey sent György Kmety to attack the water defences and ordered to raze them, but Kmety could not achieve a definitive result. Furthermore, Kmety was injured during the mission. The defeat made clear that it would not be an easy attack.

Görgey wrote a letter to Richard Guyon and ordered him to send reinforcements from Komárom. On 6 May Guyon sent 5 cannon, which arrived two days later. During that time Görgey ordered the construction of an artillery battery on Nap Hegy ("Sun Hill"), one of the hills in Buda. This was completed on 14 May.

During this build-up there were fights between the Hungarians and the Austrians. On 5 May Kmety was moving towards the water defences, but Hentzi started to fire at the Hungarians so they had to withdraw.

First attack[edit]

Heinrich Hentzi, captain of the castle's defending army

On 16 May the Hungarians started to fire at the castle walls and broke through them. Görgey ordered the castle be reconnoitred to secure an advantage in the impending battle, but this was not successful as the ladders were too short and the hole broken through the walls wasn't big enough. Görgey ordered eight groups to continuously distract the enemy during the nights.

Final attack[edit]

The final attack started at 3am on 21 May, when all cannon opened fire at the castle. The attack was not too easy at first, but later the Hungarians managed to enter the castle. The Hungarians occupied it by 7am and Hentzi died during the battle. In all, 368 Hungarians died and approximately 700 were injured. The Austrians lost 710 men, and 4,200 men were taken captive – the entire garrison.


Etching of the death of Hentzi

The victory was an important part of the Spring Campaign although many people thought that the battle lasted too long, and in defending the castle the victorious Hungarians could not take the attack to the Austrians. The Hungarian leaders did not think it as a waste of time because the previous battles at Buda (such as those in 1541 and in 1686) were either unsuccessful or too long.

Since 1992, the Hungarian Government has celebrated the last day of the battle, 21 May, as National Defence Day (Hungarian: a honvédség napja).[3]


  1. ^ Hermann 2013, pp. 32–33.
  2. ^ Deak, I (1998). "An Army Divided: The Loyalty Crisis of the Habsburg Officer Corps in 1848-1849". In Karsten, P. The Military and Society: A Collection of Essays. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh. p. 211. 
  3. ^ "Jeles Napok – Május 21. A magyar honvédelem napja ("Important Days - Hungarian Defence Day")". (in Hungarian). National Széchényi Library. Retrieved 18 July 2010.