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

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,708
The German Army was comprehensively defeated by November 1918 though. The Entente did not move into Germany, yes, but not because they couldn't, but because they did not need to.
Right but isn't that somewhat the situation after Wagram at least in the short term? The Austrians still had an army (so did WW1 Germany) but couldn't effectively oppose Napoleon for sometime where Napoleon could advance nearly unopposed taking more territory and by the time Austrian army was ready to respond there was still no guarantee of victory and given the performance probably a heavy doubt that Austria could do more than create problems for Napoleon but not outright defeat his armies conclusively. In that way what did Austria gain from fighting on? Unlike Spain there wasn't a strong ally to push Austria into maintaining the fight and Austria's internal situation was much different from Spain where the Austrian army was integral to the heterogenous state whereas Spain had a relatively strong national identity without being associated with the Spanish state. The WWI Allies had a MUCH stronger position than Napoleon for the long term but at least in the short term the positions can be compared.
 

nuclearguy165

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
4,803
Ohio, USA
The German Army was comprehensively defeated by November 1918 though. The Entente did not move into Germany, yes, but not because they couldn't, but because they did not need to.
Depends on what you mean by comprehensive. Sure, they were pushed back and defeated in that sense but they were only routed at Amiens, a relatively local engagement that took place 3 months before and was only the catalyst for them retreating towards their borders. This retreat was still in good order and so while it would have been possible for the allies to invade Germany, it would have been an enormous grind that probably would have taken up to a year or so. The Germans suing for an armistice was more down to the British blockade anyway.

In both this case and in that of Austria in 1809, it was less about them being comprehensively defeated that made them sue for peace and more about the momentum of the war shifting enough against them that they knew that to prolong the fighting would be pointless, as opposed to calamitous. In either case though, the 'defeated' side was still capable of keeping up the fight for a LONG time if they had so desired.
 
Jul 2018
530
Hong Kong
There're several key questions related to this topic:

1. Did the Austrian army still have capability to resist the French army after the decisive defeat at Wagram ?
2. What was Archduke Charles' strategic planning in pre-Wagram and post-Wagram ?
3. How did the result of the Italian Theater change the course of the war ? (including the discussion of the role of Eugene and Archduke John)
4. What was the Austrian royal court's attitude towards the continuation of the war after Wagram ? (political perspective)

Then in conclusion, state in what extent was Wagram decisive for the consequence.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,631
Republika Srpska
Depends on what you mean by comprehensive. Sure, they were pushed back and defeated in that sense but they were only routed at Amiens, a relatively local engagement that took place 3 months before and was only the catalyst for them retreating towards their borders. This retreat was still in good order and so while it would have been possible for the allies to invade Germany, it would have been an enormous grind that probably would have taken up to a year or so. The Germans suing for an armistice was more down to the British blockade anyway.
Desertion was also a big problem in the German Army by the end of the war. They lost a lot of their heavy equipment as well. Sure, the German Army still existed in the field but I don't know whether or not they would have been able to hold off the Allied invasion of Germany.
 
Jun 2018
12
Santiago del Estero - Argentina
Is it safe to argue the following?

1 - Napoleon defeats the Austrians at Wagram, and despite not being a crushing victory, makes Archduke Charles realize Austria is not going to win the war, so he sues for peace.

2 - His brother, the Emperor, wants to keep up fighting, perhaps because he knows he can still fight and believe he can still win, or because the British expedition to Walcheren may help him, or Prussia enter the war on his side, so he prepares for hostilities that might arise again.

3 - Eventually, Prussia is not willing to enter the war, and the Walcheren expedition turns out to be a disaster, so Emperor Francis begins genuine peace negotiations. He accepts the harsh terms despite Austria not being military crushed, because he knows Austria will still very probably lose the war.

4 - So while not militarily decisive, the French campaign over Austria and its Battle of Wagram turn out to be diplomatically and politically decisive, as it eventually forced the Austrians to sue for peace, whose terms make perfectly clear that France is the obvious victor of the war.
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,008
Iowa USA
To elaborate on (3), Francis also knows that the Romanovs absolutely have no desire to send Napoleon the "second Mrs Bonaparte" and he has several brides to negotiate with in the near future.
 

Mangekyou

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
7,963
UK
The term is self-explanatory. The French didn't suffer light casualties. Napoleon also had no artillery available to pressure another battlefield, nor did he have accurate intelligence on the movements of the Austrian retreat to force another battle.

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?
Charles was extremely cautious. He believed that if his army was destroyed, it was the end for Austria. He needed the army intact to use as leverage in any negotiations with Napoleon. The Austrian army, although mauled at Wagram was still intact.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,627
Is it safe to argue the following?

1 - Napoleon defeats the Austrians at Wagram, and despite not being a crushing victory, makes Archduke Charles realize Austria is not going to win the war, so he sues for peace.

2 - His brother, the Emperor, wants to keep up fighting, perhaps because he knows he can still fight and believe he can still win, or because the British expedition to Walcheren may help him, or Prussia enter the war on his side, so he prepares for hostilities that might arise again.

3 - Eventually, Prussia is not willing to enter the war, and the Walcheren expedition turns out to be a disaster, so Emperor Francis begins genuine peace negotiations. He accepts the harsh terms despite Austria not being military crushed, because he knows Austria will still very probably lose the war.

4 - So while not militarily decisive, the French campaign over Austria and its Battle of Wagram turn out to be diplomatically and politically decisive, as it eventually forced the Austrians to sue for peace, whose terms make perfectly clear that France is the obvious victor of the war.
Charles seeks a armistice on his own undertaking without reference to his brother. Charles does so because he thinks teh Amry may break in another battle.

This may have been the last straw in the break down between them and sees the end of Charles's career.
Some of Napoleon's Marshals (accordng to Rothernberg) are disappointied to not totally defeat Austria,

After the armistice, Austria basically demobilizes, (the army cannot be maintained on war footing ecnomicly) which as Napleon does not do so (he never does) gives him the whip hand in the actual treaty negotiations.
 
Jul 2018
530
Hong Kong
The significance of Wagram was providing Napoleon a "potentiality" for turning the "decisive victory" into the "strategic domination", which was what Archduke Charles failed to do for Aspern-Essling. Yet it required the "finishing blow" to shatter the enemy's will of continuing the war — in this case, it was the Znaim Campaign rather than Wagram playing this "final phase" of the war since Archduke Charles hadn't lost the will to fight on after Wagram. Wagram was decisive in result, but that alone cannot guarantee Napoleon's ultimate victory.

Roughly the situation of war could be divided to seven distinct occasions:

1. Hopelessness — asking for truce or capitulation is the only viable option
2. Strategic Passivity
3. Lower Hand — generally the enemy is on offensive while you're on defensive
4. Stalemale or Uncertainty
5. Upper Hand — generally you're on offensive while the enemy is on defensive
6. Strategic Domination
7. Victory is certain

Understand these concepts would help us clarify the strategic significance of any "decisive victory" in military victory.
 
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