Austrian War Memorial on the Heights of Lipa on the Königgrätz battlefield

145th Anniversary of the Battle of Königgrätz

Austrian War Memorial on the Heights of Lipa on the Königgrätz battlefield

Since I wrote my MA thesis on the Battle of Königgrätz I figured I would put up a post here noting that today is the 145th anniversary of the battle, which was fought on July 3rd. The battle was significant for many reasons but the most notable is that it marked the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire against the Prussians and thus signified the start of undisputed Prussian leadership of what would become modern Germany. After Königgrätz all the German states had no choice but to fall in line behind the Prussian Confederation and conform to Prussian practices. It was the culminating battle of the second of the Wars of German Unification and arguably the most important. The defeat of France in 1871 was just thew icing on the cake and allowed the Prussian king to declare the establishment of the German Empire, which had de facto existed since 1866.

A paper I wrote on the battle but not my Thesis.

  • Carl Kotlarchik

    Hi Patrick,
    Where do you come out on why Austria lost the Seven Weeks war with Prussia. I’ve been studying this war for a while now because I have an ancestor who fought in it for Austria. I know about the advantages of the needle gun but Austria seemed to have the better cavalry and artillery. It seems to me the biggest difference was the number of poor generals that Austria had vs those from Prussia. My ancestor was in the 1st Army Corps led by Count Clam Gallas. It is really sad reading about how this general botched up battle after battle. And FM. Benedek was a total disaster. Why he didn’t engage the the Prussians while they were divided is beyond me. Anyway, I’ve been writing up the the actions of my ancestor’s unit during the war. He was in Poschacher’s brigade in IR34. They participated in most of the battles on the western front in Bohemia. Given the huge losses this unit suffered, I guess I’m lucky my guy survived. Austria did have several capable generals but they were ignored by Benedek. Edelsheim seems to have been one of the best but Benedek didn’t like him.
    best regards,
    Carl Kotlarchik

    • Patrick Shrier


      I tend to agree that in general Austria had some horrible leadership. Clam-Gallas was an exception. I downplay the effectiveness of the needle-gun as a war winner and differ with Showalter, Wawro, and Craig in this regard. I analyzed the campaign in my thesis and based on my research and actually walking many of the battlefields the key difference in the battles of the Seven-Weeks’ War was maneuver. The Prussians simply maneuvered better than the Austrians on both a tactical and operation/strategic level. That was the key difference. The Austrian Army was essentially a blunt instrument that was pointed and driven home while the Prussians were a rapier; the Prussians were nimble in reacting to circumstances but could drive an attack home when they felt it necessary. The Austrian were simply outclassed, I am not convinced they had to be defeated at Königgrätz but I am not sure they could have achieved anything but a defensive victory either. The excellence of Austrian cavalry and artillery kept their defeat from becoming a complete rout.