War of the Fifth Coalition

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1809 Apr 21

Battle of Eckmühl

Eckmühl, Germany
The Battle of Eckmühl was the turning point of the War of the Fifth Coalition. Thanks to the dogged defense waged by the III Corps, commanded by Marshal Davout, and the Bavarian VII Corps, commanded by Marshal Lefebvre, Napoleon was able to defeat the principal Austrian army and wrest the strategic initiative for the remainder of the war. The French had won the battle, but it was not a decisive engagement. Napoleon had hoped that he would be able to catch the Austrian army between Davout and the Danube, but he didn't know that Ratisbon had fallen and thus gave the Austrians a means of escape over the river. Nevertheless, the French inflicted 12,000 casualties at the cost of just 6,000, and Napoleon's speedy arrival witnessed an entire axial realignment of his army (from a north–south axis to an east–west one) that permitted the defeat of the Austrians. Subsequent campaigning led to the French recapture of Ratisbon, Austrian eviction from Southern Germany, and the fall of Vienna.