Battle of Raszyn
April 1809
"Outnumbered 3 to 1, Poniatowski fought an outstanding defensive campaign,
covering all of Napoleon's northern front while Napoleon faced off against
the main Austrian army at Wagram."
- Gunther E. Rothenberg

Battle of Raszyn 1809 1. Campaign of 1809.
2. Armies at Raszyn.
3. The First Blood.
4. Battlefield & Troops. + Map.
5. Heavy Fighting.
6. Burning Raszyn.

On picture: Battle of Raszyn 1809, by January Suchodolski.
Left: horse battery. Right: Prince Poniatowski and his staff.
In the background (behind the church and village) are Austrian artillery and infantry.


This was only Poniatowski's second field command.
He proved himself once and for all
as the commander of an independent army.

Campaign of 1809.
The war in Poland had opened favourably
for Austrian generals.

Very little has been written about the defense of the Duchy of Warsaw in 1809. The Austrian generals had assigned the entire VII Army Corps to this front. "In view of expected resistance by the famed Polish light cavalry, the VII Corps also had close to 5.000 cavalry." (Arnold - "Napoleon Conquers Austria" p 106)
The commander responsible for the defense was Prince Jozef Poniatowski. The French in Warsaw suggested to concentrate all available Polish troops in Warsaw. Poniatowski however disagreed, giving away all initiative to the Austrians would demoralize the troops. Outnumbered three to one, Poniatowski fought an outstanding defensive campaign, covering all of Napoleon's northern front while Napoleon faced off against the main Austrian army at Wagram. This was only Poniatowski's second field command. In 1809 Poniatowski proved himself once and for all as the commander of an independent army.

For the Austrians the Polish campaign had been a dead end, perhaps even a defeat. It illustrated the problem created by Austrian strategic decision-makers trying to fight on several fronts with inadequate resources. (Rothenberg - "The Emperor's Last Victory" p 107)

Napoleon, left Spain in January, 1809 and travelled to Paris believing that Austria to be on the point of declaring war. In February His Majesty the Kaiser of Austria, Franz I, declared war on France. Army reforms gave them confidence in being able to tackle the French army. The Austrians fought with great determination, but eventually the Emperor won a narrow victory.

The Battle of Raszyn was fought in April 1809 between Austrian and Polish troops as a part of the War of the Fifth Coalition in the Napoleonic Wars. The war in Poland had opened favourably for Austrian generals. Approx. 35.000 Austrian troops invaded Polish territory defended by only 15.000 men. (Of the 37,000 strong army raised in the Duchy by Poniatowski, Napoleon took 22,000 out of the country and send to Spain and elsewhere).


Armies at Raszyn.

By the beginning of March, Austria had 240.000 - 300.000 men in the field. Approx. 30.000-40.000 marched against the Poles. Several sources indicate a number of Austrian regiments commanded by Ferdinand d'Este have suffered through straggling and desertion. Nafziger gives the total strength of Austrian troops at Raszyn at 28.500 men (23 battalions, 36 squadrons and 86 guns). The Polish-Saxon corps is at 13.000 men (12 battalions, 14 squadrons and 39 guns). [Nafziger - "Poles and Saxons ..." p 103]
James Arnold in "Napoleon Conquests Austria" has the Austrians having 25,000 infantry and almost 5,000 cavalry.

Austrian VII Corps

Poles (and Saxons)
72-94 guns
21.000 infantry
4.000 cavalry

26-28 guns
10.500 infantry
3.685 cavalry

Austrian ranks:
FL - Feldmarschall Lieutnant
GM - Generall Major
Ob. - Oberst [Colonel]
Mjr. - Major

Commander of VII Corps - Erzherzog Ferdinand Karl von Habsburg d'Este
(Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph of Austria-Este)
d'Este was an Italian prince closely related
to the Habsburgs of Austria.

Adjudant du Corps - Ob. Neypperg
Chief of Staff - Ob. Brusch
Chief of Artillery - Ob. Gilet

First Line
Cavalry, Artillery
and Detached Troops
Advance Guard - GM Mohr
- - - - - Wallachian Grenzers No.16 (1 btn.)
- - - - - Wallachian Grenzers No.17 (1 btn.)
- - - - - Vukassovich Infantry No.48 (3 btn.)
- - - - - Kaiser [Emperor's] Hussars No.1 (6 sq.)
- - - - - - - - - - Foot Battery (8 3pdr cannons)
- - - - - - - - - - Horse Battery (4 3pdr cannons
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 howitzers)

Infantry Division - FL Mondet
Infantry Brigade - Civalart
- - - - - Von Linie Infantry No.30 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Kottulinsky Infantry No.41 (3 btns.)
- - - - - - - - - - Foot Battery (8 6pdr guns)
Infantry Brigade - Trautenberg
- - - - - Baillet-Latour Infantry No. 63 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Strauch Infantry No.24 (3 btns.)
- - - - - - - - - - Foot Battery (8 6pdr guns)
Infantry Brigade - von Pflacher
- - - - - Weidenfeild Infantry No.37 (3 btns.)
- - - - - Davidovich Infantry No. 34 (3 btns.)
- - - - - - - - - - Foot Battery (8 6pdr guns)



Cavalry Division - FL Sharouth
Hussar Brigade - von Gehringer
- - - - - Palatine Hussars No.12 (8 sq.)
- - - - - Szekler Hussars No.11 (8 sq.)
Cuirassier Brigade - von Speth
- - - - - Somariva Cuirassiers No.5 (6 sq.)
- - - - - Lothringen Cuirassiers No.7 (6 sq.)
- - - - - - - - - - Horse Battery

Reserve Artillery
(Note: out of the eight batteries
only four were at Raszyn)
- - - - - - - - - - Heavy Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Heavy Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Heavy Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Position Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Position Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Position Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Position Battery (6 guns)
- - - - - - - - - - Horse Battery (6 guns)

Infantry Brigade - Branowatzky
- - - - - Szekler Grenzers Nr.14 (1 btn.)
- - - - - Szekler Grenzers Nr.15 (1 btn.)
- - - - - Kaiser Chevaulegers No.1 (8 sq.)
- - - - - - - - - - Horse Battery (8 6pdr guns)

NOTE: Strength of the Polish troops below is from April 15th - four days before battle, by Roman Soltyk - "Relation des operations de l'armee polonaise ..."

Polish ranks:
GD - General Dywizji
GB - General Brygady
Plk. - Pulkownik [Colonel]
Mjr. - Major

Prince Poniatowski
Commander - Prince Jozef Poniatowski
Poniatowski was a young, dashing
and inspirational general.

Chief of Staff - Stanislaw Fiszer
Chief of Cavalry - GdD Rozniecki
Chief of Artillery - GdB Jean-Baptiste Pelletier
Saxons - Polentz or von Dyherrn

Poles (13,450)
Saxons (1,350)
Infantry (9.259 men)
- - - - - 1st Infantry - Plk. Malachowski (1.642 men)
- - - - - 2nd Infantry - Plk. Potocki (1.742 men)
- - - - - 3rd Infantry - Plk. Zoltowski (1.927 men)
- - - - - 6th Infantry - Colonel Sierawski (1.346 men)
- - - - - One battalion moved to Warsaw in order
- - - - - to protect this city from a flank attack.

- - - - - 8th Infantry - Plk. Godebski (1.500 men)
- - - - - 12th Infantry - Plk. Weissenhoff (1.102 men)

Cavalry (3.504 horses) - GD Rozniecki
- - - - - 1st Chasseur-a-Cheval - Plk. Przebendowski (730 h)
- - - - - 5th Chasseur-a-Cheval - Plk. Turno (505 horses)
- - - - - This unit went to Warsaw in order to
- - - - - protect this city from a flank attack.

- - - - - 2nd Uhlans - Plk. Tyszkiewicz (800 horses)
- - - - - 3rd Uhlans - Plk. Laczynski (760 horses)
- - - - - 6th Uhlans - Plk. Dziewanowski (709 horses)

Artillery - GB Pelletier [Frenchman]
- - - - - - - - - - Foot Battery (6 guns, 200 men)
- - - - - - - - - - Foot Battery (6 guns, 200 men)
- - - - - - - - - - Foot Battery (6 guns, 200 men)
- - - - - - - - - - Horse Battery (5 guns, 100 men)
- - - - - - - - - - Horse Battery (4 guns, ??? men)

Infantry Battalion (503 men)
Infantry Battalion (501 men)
Infantry Battalion (257 men)
Hussar Squadron (90 men)
(another squadron was detached to Blonie)


When hostile cavalries meet each other,
there is usually but small loss on either side.

The First Blood.
Cavalry Battle.

The cavalry had been called upon to cover the infantry positions. On April 11th GD Rozniecki with 1st Chasseurs and 3rd Uhlans screened the region south of Raszyn. Several Polish units under GB Bieganski (3rd Infantry with 4 guns, and the 6th Uhlans) entered Raszyn.

General Rozniecki.
Polish cavalry. On April 15th GD Rozniecki was strengthened with 2nd Uhlans and moved toward the advancing Austrians. The same day Poniatowski with 8 battalions, 6 squadrons and 19 guns departed Warsaw for Raszyn.

The Saxons followed Poniatowski on the next day.

Polish cavalry
of the Napoleonic Wars At noon between the villages of Janczewice and Wolica took place cavalry battle. Polish cavalry (12 squadrons) met the Austrian cavalry of Mohr's Advance Guard (8 squadrons) coming from Tarczyn. From Nadarzyn was coming Schauroth's cavalry (16 squadrons).

Both sides made gallant charges before Austrian horse battery opened fire. The horses were sweating and their ribs heaving, while the men thrusted and slashed. The cavalry battle was claimed as victory by both sides. On Polish side the 2nd Uhlans performed very well.

The Austrian cavalry (24 squadrons) attempted to outflank the Poles but they withdrew to Michalowice. Rozniecki ordered to move beyond Raszyn where together with the 1st Chasseurs formed Poniatowski's main reserve.


Poniatowski defended the crossing points with small detachments
and strong reserve was held in the center.

The Battlefield & Deployment of Troops.
"It was a good defensive position..."
- George Nafziger

Map of the Battle of Raszyn.
Mapa bitwy pod Raszynem 1809. On map:
Battle of Raszyn
The stream was marshy and only crossable at few points. Poniatowski defended these crossing points with small detachments and strong reserve was held in the center. Along the strean were numerous trees obstructing the full sight of the battlefield. The Raszynka Stream is also called Rawka or Rawa Stream. The exact location and size of the "alder wood" is unknown to me. Here is another map (French website)

Poniatowski selected his battlefield at Raszyn, several km from Warsaw, a city he could not politically afford abandoning without a fight. "It was a good defensive position behind a river that was bordered with heavy marshes crossed by only a few bridges and causeways." (Nafziger - "Poles and Saxons of the Napoleonic Wars" p 102)

Poniatowski deployed his corps as follow:
- Cavalry screen under GD Rozniecki: 2nd, 3rd and 6th Uhlan Regiment (2.340 sabers) kept eye on the advancing Austrians.
- Advance-Guard under Sokolnicki: I/1st Infantry (850 bayonets), I/8th Infantry (760 bayonets) and 4 cannons. This force stood near the village of Falenty. In front of the dike was I/6th Infantry with 2 cannons.
- Right Wing under GB Bieganski: I, II/3rd Infantry (1,700 bayonets) and 4 guns.
- Left Wing under GB Kamieniecki: II/1st Infantry (800 bayonets), II/8th Infantry (800 bayonets) and 6 guns
- Center under Polentz: I, II/2nd Infantry and 2 guns, and Saxons (3 battalions, hussars and 12 guns)
- Reserve : 1st Chasseurs and 5 horse guns

Austrian generals, by Giuseppe rava In afternoon the Poles saw the first echelons of MG Mohr's Advance Guard. Looming dust clouds and the firing of skirmishers heralded the advance of Austrian troops. The whitecoats were coming in large numbers, battalion after battalion marched out of the woods. The Austrian commander watched as his Grenzers and regular infantry started forward from the fringe of pines, their well dressed lines and columns surging on like a white wave crested with a glistening foam of steel.

Poniatowski thought that the Austrians will halt their advance and set a camp. He feared an Austrian attempt to march on Jaworowo and outflank him on the next day. Such maneuver would force Poniatowski into quick retreat to Warsaw. But that didn't happen. The confident Ferdinand d'Este was eager to attack immediately and ordered Mohr to attack Falenty without waiting for the rest of the corps.

On picture: Austrian staff, by Giuseppe Rava, Italy.


Prince Poniatowski dismounted and with bayonet in hand
led the infantry in a counterattack. The Austrians were
routed, the village of Falenty and the wood were retaken.

Heavy Fighting.
Alder Wood and the Dike Changed Hands Several Times.

Polish horse artillery at Raszyn. Picture by Kossak About 2 PM the cannonade errupted along the entire front. Mohr's 5 battalions with 12 cannons attacked Sokolnicki's 3 battalions with 6 guns. Mohr received support from Civalart's 6 battalions with 12 guns. Thick gun smoke covered the flat fields and marshy meadows.

In that moment Poniatowski was in his headquarters in Raszyn. He immediately mounted his horse and rode toward Falenty. Three guns were brought from the reserves and deployed in front of the village.

Austrians' Three Attempts
to Outflank the Poles

During the struggle between Sokolnicki's advance guard and Mohr's advance guard, 4 squadrons of of Austrian hussars moved against Polish troops (under Kamieniecki) at Jaworowa. Polish artillery however opened fire and halted the attackers. The hussars fell back into a marsh where they became stuck. The artillery pounded them more, inflicting some serious casualties before the hussars were able to withdraw.
Austrian general attempted to encircle Polish position at Jaworowo with heavy cavalry. One of the Austrian cuirassier regiments moved against Kamieniecki's troops and found themselves in the knee-deep mud. The iron-clad men mounted on big horses found it difficult to escape from the trap and the Polish artillery punished them too. The cuirassiers finally withdrew toward Tarczyn.
The Austrians continued their attempts to turn Poniatowski's flank at Jaworowo. Kamieniecki's troops were attacked frontally by Austrian infantry regiment and from the left flank by two battalions of Wallachian Grenzers. Approx. 4.000 Austrians were passing with some difficulties through the marshy ground when the Polish artillery opened fire and brought them to a sharp stop. The Polish infantry also opened fire and the attackers fell back.

Battle in the Center.
Polish Counter-Attack

Poniatowski led bayonet counterattack. 
Picture by Kossak The Austrians had their focus set on Falenty and the Alder Wood. At 3 pm they attempted to take both points with the Vukassovich Infantry Regiment (2.100-2.400 bayonets). The position was defended by I/8th Infantry (700-800 bayonets) under Colonel Godebski, a veteran of Italian campaigns. Both sides were supported by artillery. The heavy fighting raged for 1 hour. Godebski was mortally wounded, he received one musketball in his leg and one "below chest" and was carried off the battlefield. The 8th Infantry began slowly falling back toward the Raszyn causeway.
In this critical moment Prince Poniatowski arrived and halted their withdrawal. Then he rode to battalion of 1st Infantry already formed in column. Poniatowski dismounted and with bayonet in hand led them in a counterattack. The Austrians were routed, the village of Falenty and the wood were recaptured.

Battle in the Center.
Artillery Duel.

Meanwhile frustrated Mohr was joined by Civalart's brigade with 12 guns. Now Mohr had 11 battalions and 24 guns against Sokolnicki's 3 battalions and 9 cannons. The heavy cannonade caused a lot of damage within short time: several Polish caissons with amunitions exploded forcing the guns positioned near Raszyn to withdraw and the village of Falenty was set on fire. The Austrians sent forward 2 battalions to capture the grove by Falenty in the very center of Polish positions. The fighting lasted for 2 hours but the Austrians were unable to dislodge Sokolnicki's infantry.

Battle in the Center.
The Austrians Broke Through.

Austrian infantry at Raszyn. It was 6 pm and getting dark when several Austrian battalions joined the fighting. Two battalions found a gap in Polish position, the line between Janki and the grove was not defended. Once the attackers moved into the gap the troops under Sokolnicki fell back. They left 2 guns and were quickly withdrawing down the causeway when Austrian artillery opened fire on them.
The Poles suffered badly, groups of infantrymen hurriedly crossed the muddy stream while others run across the causeway. Polish chief of staff Fiszer was wounded.
Meanwhile Schauroth's cavalry (other sources give Civalart's and Mohr's battalions) moved against the village of Janki defended by I/6th Infantry. Fearing being cut off the 6th abandoned the village.


The Saxons marched off angering the Poles.
The Poles had no idea that Marshal Bernadotte
had attempted to order these Saxons back to Saxony
already 4 days before battle.

Burning Raszyn.
The burning Raszyn was retaken at bayonet point
but the causeway was in Austrian hands.

Saxon infantry in 1810. 
Picture by Knotel The Austrian infantry pursued the Poles and even pushed to the area south-east of Raszyn. Raszyn itself was defended by the following troops:
- Saxon I/Oelschoelwitz Infantry
- Saxon I/Einsiedel Grenadiers
- Saxon 12 guns
In reserve behind the Saxon infantry stood Polish I/2nd Infantry with 2 guns. It was one of the better units in Poniatowski's small army.

Raszyn was attacked by Austrians; one column moved directly on Raszyn and another column marched across a wet meadow on the left of the village. The advancing masses made an avesome sight. The marshy terrain however prevented the Austrians from bringing forward their guns and decimating the Saxons. The artillery was limited to long range canister and uneffective roundshot fire. Around 8 pm the Austrians managed to capture part of Raszyn.
Poniatowski brought forward 12 Saxon and 4 Polish guns and opened a galling fire on the Austrian infantry in Raszyn. Poniatowski was among the gunners and encouraged them to double their efforts. The Austrian guns provided only a weak support as they were too far behind.

For almost an hour the Poles bombarded Raszyn with grenades and the Austrian infantry with canister. At 9 pm the Polish infantry counterattacked and drove the enemy back. The burning Raszyn was retaken but the causeway was in Austrian hands. Between 9 pm and 10 pm the battle was over and the Saxons marched off angering the Poles. The Polish soldiers had no idea that French Marshal Bernadotte had attempted to order these Saxons back to Saxony already 4 days before battle. Poniatowski countermanded the order for the duration of the first battle. In this situation at 10 pm Poniatowski decided to leave the battlefield and march on Warsaw.

The Polish defense at Raszyn convinced the Austrians to allow the tiny Polish army south-east passage, in exchange for the surrender of Warsaw. It also allowed Poniatowski's troops to overrun Austrian-occupied Poland while the Austrian corps was tied up garrisoning Warsaw. After Napoleon won his campaign against the Austrians, the north-western part of the Austrian partition was incorporated into the Duchy of Warsaw.

Battle of Raszyn.
Picture by Suchodolski. Casualties
The Poles lost 1,000-1,500 killed and wounded, while the Austrians had 2,000-2,500 casualties. The heavier casualties were due to the fact that the Austrians were fighting in open field while the Poles were positioned in the wood and villages. According to Nafziger and Wesolowski - "Poles and Saxons of the Napoleonic Wars" p. 104, the Poles lost "450 killed, 800 to 900 wounded, and 43 prisoners. The Austrian losses amounted to about 2.500 killed and wounded." Some of the slightly wounded whitecoats wandered into the wood and roamed about all night in fear of capture by the Polish light cavalry.

This batte is a delight for wargamers and armchairs generals. It is fast and easy to play, with attractions like fight for the long causeway and the dike. Little plastic soldiers: Polish infantry, Polish uhlans for dioramas and wargaming.

Sources and Links.

Information supplied by Jan Kowalik, P. B. Black, L. Sorensen and Stefan Swietliczko
John Stallaert's website devoted to the Austrian army and uniforms.
Soltyk - "Relation des operations de l'armee polonaise pendant la campagne de 1809.."
Hollins - "Austrian Grenadiers and Infantry"
Zych - "Polish-Austrian War of 1809"
Zych - "Armia Ksiestwa Warszawskiego 1807-1812"
Bowden, Tarbox - "Armies on the Danube 1809" 1981
Wojcicki - "Cmentarz powazkowski" 1855
The Department of History at the US Military Academy - series of campaign atlases

Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph of Austria-Este.
Prince Józef Anton Poniatowski.
Pictures of Raszyn.
Colonel Cyprian Godebski.
Reenactments of the Battle of Raszyn:
polish 1 ~ polish 2 and austrian

Napoleon, His Army and Enemies