Mystery of the Austrian army
In the XIX century among the military of Europe went mocking saying: «the Italian army exists only to the Austrians, too, could somebody win.» Indeed, if we look at the history of the Austrian (and later Austro-Hungarian) army in the XIX — early XX century, we see quite a sad picture.
The Habsburg army suffered defeat by the Hungarians in 1848, the French in Italy in 1859, from the Prussians in Bohemia in 1866, and from the Russians on the Eastern front in the First world war.
Even the Italians are periodically attacked the Austrians telling blows. And a century earlier the Holy Roman Empire is not too often experienced military triumphs.
Why the army of zasurtsev — as they called the Austrians the Russians were among the largest and strongest armies in Europe, lost some battles and entire wars? How had they survived the Empire that couldn’t defeat their enemies on the battlefield? The answer to this question lies in the history of the Habsburg army from the end of the Thirty years before the First world war.
An army without generals
One of the main reasons for the defeat of the Austrians is that they surprisingly did not carry on talented commanders. Tsesarskaya army had very well trained soldiers, conceding that perhaps the Prussians. Their cavalry, according to his contemporaries, has always been excellent and has long been considered the best in Europe. The Austrian cuirassiers and the Hungarian hussars were a role model in neighbouring countries, from France to Russia. But with the generals of it was much worse.
Once in the service of the Vienna monarch was the talented commander, the Austrian army started without a break to beat the enemy, so that only the feathers flew.
Prince Eugene of Savoy in the first quarter of XVIII century have repeatedly defeated the French in the War of the Spanish succession, and then defeated the Turks in Serbia. After his death, cesarz left without good generals and naturally lost the Silesian war against the great military leader of Frederick of Prussia.
No remaining outstanding military leaders, the Austrian army was under the command of good scientists, able organizers, the clever courtiers. But to win it was not enough.
The willingness to fight to the end
A long hard War for Austrian heritage 1740-1748 years was won not on the battlefields (although cesarza bad fought in Italy), and with the help of amazing stubbornness and strength of will of the Empress Maria Theresa and British money.
In this war, the Austrians have not shown much ability to win, as the willingness to rise after the most severe shocks and once again go into battle.
This ability has saved the Austrian Empire.
It is generally believed that the most persistent soldiers of Europe were the Russians and the British. Not retreating even in the face of death and not surrendering to superior forces of the enemy. Tsesarskaya soldiers could hardly boast such tenacity and willingness to die, sometimes they fled from the battlefield. But the Austrian army and state system, created by the Habsburgs, showed unusual strength.
During the XVII–XIX centuries repeatedly turned so that the Imperial army was defeated, the opponents were preparing to celebrate. And suddenly, out of nowhere, there were new shelves that had to go into battle defending a seemingly hopeless cause. Most often, the Austrians have won so: not in pitched battles, but the war of attrition.
The bureaucracy and aristocracy
But the army of the Habsburgs were unlucky not only with the generals. There were other serious problems, which the Austrians to solve and failed.
First, their army was heavily bureaucratic. The initiative always remained in the hands of the court military Council, hofkriegsrat, which restricted the ability of commanders. Military campaign plans, and even individual battles were drawn up at the very top and come down to precise execution. All the major military leaders of Austria or in conflict with hofkriegsrat for influence in the army, or tried to lead him to avoid micromanagement.
Second, too close was the relationship of the army with the feudal traditions of the Habsburg Empire.
Because of this, the high military positions were often given to people with titles and glorious centuries-old pedigree, but do not know anything about the military craft.
However, sometimes it is this feature that offered up truly talented people.
Rare good luck
In 1801 because of the threat of war with Napoleonic France, the head of the Ministry of war was the Archduke Charles of Habsburg Teschen. The third son of Emperor Leopold II, he received the rank of field Marshal-Lieutenant birthright in his youth, having reached the age of 22. But despite the lack of military experience and practice of long service, he was an outstanding reformer and was able to quickly upgrade inherited his army. The Austrians because he became a worthy opponent for the French.
When the war of the Third coalition, the young commander sent to Italy, where he successfully fought with the Grand army.
However, at the same time, the fate of the campaign was decided in the North, where the Austrians with Russian allies lost the battle of Austerlitz.
With the beginning of the war of the Fifth coalition Carl had made appointments commander in chief and was able to snatch victory from the hands of Bonaparte. He fought with the French Aspern and Essling in 1809 and became one of the few military leaders who managed to defeat Napoleon in the General field battle.
The last great military commander of the Habsburgs became field Marshal Josef Radetzky, who was famous for victories in Italy in 1848-1849 years.
Since the second half of the XIX century the power of the Austro-Hungarian Empire began to droop. Increasingly numerous and powerful on paper the army was torn by national controversies and conflicts raging inside calm on the outside of the Empire. The desire of Hungarians to the acquisition of more privileges and Slavs to the achievement of equal status led to the fact that the Austrians considered unreliable, many private shelves. On the sidelines of the First world Austrians often received heavy blows than cause them, constantly needed help from the Germans, and at the end of the war itself broke up Austria-Hungary.
Thus died the army, which surprisingly had no luck.