Why are the 1809 Napoleonic campaign against Austria and its Battle of Wagram often seen as not decisive?

Jun 2018
12
Santiago del Estero - Argentina
I know the Battle of Wagram was not a tactic masterpiece like Austerlitz, or a battle in which he annihilated his enemy's forces, like Jena or Friedland, but still! To call it a “phyrric victory” like historian Andrew Robert does, seems very inaccurate and undeserving. The Austrians asked for an armistice just 4 days after the battle, which clearly shows their army, although not destroyed, was sufficiently damaged so as to not be able to keep up fighting, because otherwise, you don’t ask for an armistice so soon! And the peace terms of the Treaty of Schonbrunn clearly showed the French campaign had crushed the Austrians, otherwise such a humiliating and harsh peace would have never been accepted, yet it was. Or am i mistaken and the austrians COULD have go on fighting despite their defeat at wagram? If so, could they have won the war?
 
May 2017
1,194
France
Wagram was a little victory,won with an extraordinary artillery,which could have destroyed any army of the world.After Ulm and Austerlitz,the honor of the austrian-hungarian army was reconstitued.The battle of Essling had shown to the world the limits of the napoleonic s genious.Perhaps Napoleon did not understand that his star was tired,and that it was time to negociate and not to systematically show the teeth.
 
Jun 2018
12
Santiago del Estero - Argentina
Wagram was a little victory,won with an extraordinary artillery,which could have destroyed any army of the world.After Ulm and Austerlitz,the honor of the austrian-hungarian army was reconstitued.The battle of Essling had shown to the world the limits of the napoleonic s genious.Perhaps Napoleon did not understand that his star was tired,and that it was time to negociate and not to systematically show the teeth.
If you consider Wagram "a little victory", then why would archduke charles propose an armistice (on clearly favorable french terms) just 4 days after the battle? If, as the climax of the 1809 campaign, Wagram was not a decisive victory, then why, again, did Austria accepted peace on such extremely harsh terms? The peace terms were even worse than the terms after Austerlitz, which was clearly a much more decisive battle. Again, i recognize that Wagram was a costly and hard-fought victory, yet it led the austrians almost immediately to end hostilities! Those are the contradictions that confuses me about this whole campaign. Historians argue: "There were no battles with crushing victories, and the campaign as a whole was not a crushing defeat to the austrians" Yet i respond: Then why the (supposedly) not decisive wagram victory led the austrians almost immediately to end hostilities? and if the campaign was not (supposedly) a crushing victory, then why the french still teared Austria apart in the peace treaty?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,684
The Austrian Army was still in the field, the terms imposed on the Austrians were much less than the Prussians after 1806/07. much milder.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,257
Sydney
Napoleon had some fright during the Campaign , he had his troops cut off several times by swollen rivers
the Austrian fought much better than they used to
they had reorganized their units on the French model , had better officers promoted on merit
the obvious conclusion was that Napoleon was their teacher and they were learning
 
May 2017
1,194
France
Your answers are very interesting.But we must not forget the international context;the continuation of the war in Spain and Portugal,the operations in Italia,north and south,the campaign of Tyrol,the campaign of the Yllirians provinces,the british debarkment in Belgium,and the dangerous progression of desertion,and also the fall of positions in Africa...
 
Jun 2018
12
Santiago del Estero - Argentina
The Austrian Army was still in the field, the terms imposed on the Austrians were much less than the Prussians after 1806/07. much milder.
Yet i'm not comparing the peace of Schonbrunn with that of Tilsit, but with the peace of Pressburg, the end result of a much decisive campaign, but with milder peace terms.
 
Jun 2018
12
Santiago del Estero - Argentina
Napoleon had some fright during the Campaign , he had his troops cut off several times by swollen rivers
the Austrian fought much better than they used to
they had reorganized their units on the French model , had better officers promoted on merit
the obvious conclusion was that Napoleon was their teacher and they were learning
I'm aware the austrian army was much more proffessional than ever before, and that Napleon's Grande Armée was weared down by 4 years of almost constant campaigning, and i know also those are the main reasons why Napoleon was defeated for the first time in more than ten years at Aspern-Essling, and why he couldn't turn Wagram in a military achievement on the level of Friedland, jena or Austerlitz, but that's beyond the topic of the post: What i want to know is why, assuming like many historians do, that the 1809 campaign and along with it the battle of Wagram were not decisive, did the austrians sued for peace soon afterwards and accepted so harsh terms?
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,021
Iowa USA
I'm aware the austrian army was much more proffessional than ever before, and that Napleon's Grande Armée was weared down by 4 years of almost constant campaigning, and i know also those are the main reasons why Napoleon was defeated for the first time in more than ten years at Aspern-Essling, and why he couldn't turn Wagram in a military achievement on the level of Friedland, jena or Austerlitz, but that's beyond the topic of the post: What i want to know is why, assuming like many historians do, that the 1809 campaign and along with it the battle of Wagram were not decisive, did the austrians sued for peace soon afterwards and accepted so harsh terms?
For me it seems to be a problem of semantics.

Regarding the progression of battle and an element of surprise that the Austrians achieved on the second day of Wagram, the field was won "inartfully" or as mentioned before by a clever use of the artillery reserve. The means that were used to win the field bear no resemblance to the progression of the decisive victories in '05 and '07. So regarding how the battle progressed it is exactly accurate to say that Wagram was either a "narrow" or "marginal" or even LITTLE victory.

The ground won was of strategic importance and the Austrians were not prepared to attempt to re-take, also the conscripts would have to be available for the harvest in about six to eight weeks. The reasons that the armistice followed aren't necessarily very closely connected to the "size" of the win on the field.

(Full disclosure: I am a bit of a fan of the Austrians in this era.)
 
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Jun 2018
12
Santiago del Estero - Argentina
The ground won was of strategic importance and the Austrians were not prepared to attempt to re-take, also the conscripts would have to be available for the harvest in about six to eight weeks. The reasons that the armistice followed aren't necessarily very closely connected to the "size" of the win on the field.
So what exatcly is your theory, then? Why did Charles sue for peace? Was it because he knew he would not have the time to bolster his army and consequently Napoleon would surely win again?