The Austro-Prussian War
The Road To Koeniggratz
Over the course of a week in the high summer of 1866 the Prussian Army comprehensively defeated the Austrian-led German Confederation in a series of five preliminary clashes and the climactic Battle of Königgrätz in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). Königgrätz, or Sadowa as it is sometimes known, was the second largest battle of the 19th Century where almost half a million men fought in a sprawling battle that decided the outcome of the war in a single day. This was a battle that dwarfed any fought in the recently ended Civil War in America and where the myth was born that all future wars would be quickly settled: a myth that was reinforced in 1871 but which was so painfully shattered in 1914.
The tour is led by Major General John Drewienkiewicz CB CMG, who will examine the battles through a combination of explanations at viewpoints, walking the course of significant events and museum visits. There may be up to 5 km of walking on forest tracks on some days.
"Today your Majesty will win, not only the battle, but also the campaign".
Fly to Prague. Transfer to Hradec Kralove and check in to our hotel for 5 nights. Orientation briefing.
To Jicin to tour the battle of Gitschin fought on 29 June 1866 where two Prussian Divisions attacked the Austrian 1st Corps, which was defending on good ground. After a dogged defence the Austrians retreated as darkness fell.
"The Prussian schoolmaster won the battle of Sadowa".
Drive to Trutnov where the battle of Trautenau was fought on 27 June 1866. The Austrian 10th Corps advanced to block the passes through the wooded hills. They clashed with the 1st Prussian Corps as it emerged from the defiles. The battle was the sole Austrian success of the Campaign, although they still suffered heavier casualties than the Prussians. Here there is a good museum of the battle and a well laid out path through woods to scene of action. This afternoon we visit the field at Burkersdorf (28 June 1866) to view the attack by the Prussian Guard Corps against the Austrian 10th Corps as it attempted to disengage.
Tour Battle of Nachod and Skalitz, 27 and 28 June 1866. Drive to Nachod where on 27 June the advance guard of the Austrian 6th Corps attacked the Prussian 5th Corps which had occupied and debouched from the passes into Bohemia. The Austrian attacks were uncoordinated and failed to check the Prussians. Continue to Ceska Skalica to explore the battlefield of Skalitz where, the following day, the Austrian 8th Corps relieved the battered 6th Corps and was sucked into another encounter battle with the 5th Prussian Corps. Again, uncoordinated attacks cost the Austrians dear.
A full day exploring the field of the pivotal battle of Königgrätz fought on 3 July 1866. Here the Austrians formed their defensive line in a crescent to the north of Königgrätz in a position with few natural advantages, and were attacked by first two Prussian Armies and then by a third. This particularly well preserved battlefield, embellished with contemporary regimental monuments, offers numerous well sited view points allowing the action to be considered from each army's perspective. There are also some fascinating museums on Chlum and Hradec Kralove itself.
Continue our tour of the Königgrätz battlefield before returning to Prague for our flights back home. Drive to the Austrian right flank around Chlum and the approach march of the Prussian Second Army. View the Austrian 'Battery of the Dead' position and the scene of the Prussian Guard Corps actions. Walk the Chlum and Rosberitz positions and discuss the Austrian attempts to retake the position. View the scene of the massed cavalry action at Stresetitz that checked the Prussian pursuit. Drive to Prague Airport for our return flights.