The Siege and Capture of Ratisbon during the Napoleonic Wars, 20 - 23 April 1809

Baroque Church Mariä Himmelfahrt, built 1726, in Dechbetten near Ratisbon

Regensburg on the Danube, or Ratisbonne in French, was occupied by Baron de Coutaud's 65th Ligne on 19th April 1809, with orders to defend the strategic bridge over the Danube. The 65th repulsed several Austrian attacks on the 20th, but the unit was eventually compelled to surrender when the ammunition had run out. The following day a battle developed at Eckmühl, south of Ratisbon, and the intact bridge over the Danube provided the Austrian forces an alternate route of retreat.

The battle at Eckmühl resumed on the 22nd of April, resulting in a French victory. Austrian troops south of the Danube were evacuated during the night via the Ratisbon bridge. Six battalions of infantry were left in Ratisbon to delay the French pursuit. The following day, Bavarian artillery breached the city wall near the Straubing gate, and assault parties from Marbot's division eventually carried the position. However, before the main bridge could be secured, it was blown up by the Austrians.

Opposing Forces

  • Emperor Napoleon
  • Maréchal Lannes
  • 1st Division, III Corps (Morand)
  • 3rd Division, III Corps (Gudin)
  • Württemberg Corps (Vandamme)
  • 1st Heavy Cavalry Div. (Nansouty)
  • 2nd Heavy Cav. Div. (Saint Sulpice)
  • Bavarian Corps (Lefebvre)
  • Austrian (Archduke Charles)

Regensburg

Street in the historic part of Regensburg

Street in the historic part of Regensburg

Narrow side street in the historic part of Regensburg

Narrow side street in the historic part of Regensburg

same as above, viewed from the opposite end
same as above, viewed from the opposite end
Building with large central gate
Building with large central gate
Building with trompe-l'oeil facade painting

Building with trompe-l'oeil facade painting

Protestant church, detail of the front steps and entrance

Protestant church, detail of the front steps and entrance

Catholic church yard, detail of the front wall, and the smaller of two gates

Catholic church yard, detail of the front wall, and the smaller of two gates

Large building in the government district

Large building in the government district

Baroque church on Ney-Straße

Baroque church on Ney-Straße

Chateau, viewed trough the park belt around it

Chateau, viewed trough the park belt around it

Government building, Regierungsbezirk Oberpfalz
Government building, Regierungsbezirk Oberpfalz
Church at Donaustauf near Regensburg
Church at Donaustauf near Regensburg

It was during the artillery bombardment at Ratisbon that Napoleon was wounded for the first and only time in his military career: a bullet struck the Emperor on the right heel as he was giving instructions to Marshal Lannes. Word of the wounding spread rapidly, and the French army is said to have been on the verge of panic until the Emperor showed himself on horseback.

Frequently Asked Questions

For further information and updates, please join us on facebook or in the Miniatures Forum.

Campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars, 1805–1815