THE BATTLE OF WIEN, August 16, 1624
In early August, Count Bucquoy's scouts brought him disturbing news: Mansfeld's Protestant army was heading towards Wien and it was much larger than initial reports had indicated. As a veteran of many battles Bucquoy was nonplussed and calmly ordered the preparation of defensive positions to the west of Wien, where the narrow road from Linz enters the open plains. The cornerstone of his defense would be his artillery: two 12 lb batteries, one 24 lb battery and numerous smaller guns. Lines of musketeers were arrayed between the artillery bastions with pikemen in close support on the flanks and rear. The weather was perfect, his supplies abundant and the confidence of his men boundless. They had been fighting for six years with Bucquoy. They knew him and they trusted him.
On the morning of August 16, 1624, Count Mansfeld and his army marched onto the plain west of Wien. A few leagues off they could see church steeples and scouts could hear the ringing of bells as the city raised the alarm. But instead of achieving surprise and capturing the city by coup-de-main, Mansfeld found an entrenched and powerful army arrayed before him. It was his old foe, Count Bucquoy. The hearts of all in the Protestant host fell when they saw forests of chevaux-de-frise, carefully stacked gabions filled with freshly dug earth, and most of all the many, many cannons awaiting their arrival. After a long march at great speed the Protestants were foot-sore, hungry and exhausted. But there was no help for it. Far from friendly cities and supplies they had to capture the city or die trying. Mansfeld gave the orders and the assault columns formed up.
Three huge storming columns were formed, each comprising some 5,000 pikemen and musketeers with cavalry in close support. Count Thurn led one, George-Frederick another and an unknown Colonel the third. Since he lacked a strong artillery arm Mansfeld knew his only option was to charge as quickly and as violently as possible. And that is what the Protestants did. Drums beating, flags flying, the Protestant columns marched gallantly forward. Bucquoy himself admired their courage, writing afterwards: "On the heretics came, in close column and well-armed for battle. It was a noble display, brave soldiers all. Noble but hopeless. May God have mercy on their misguided souls!"
As soon as the heretics came within range the Imperial artillery opened a terrible and withering fire on the massed columns. One Protestant survivor recalling it later stated, "Their fire was so thick we could've walked to Wien on cannonballs! The Papists ground our lads up like so much meat for the sausage press!" Indeed Thurn's column never even made it to musket-range but broke and fled for cover, leaving the Protestant center completely open. But the other two columns persevered, at least until they came within 100 yards of the Imperial entrenchments. Then Bucquoy's musketeers sent several volleys into the Protestants, causing disarray and bringing the columns to a halt. With the attack stalled and their center open Bucquoy saw his chance. Bugle blasts sent his pikemen forward through gaps in the entrenchments, gaps that had been left for just this purpose. The Imperials regiments slammed into the flanks of both Protestant columns.
A fierce combat raged on all sides. At first the heretics held fast, enraged by their casualties they sought revenge and recompense for all the blood shed. But hunger and fatigue fought for the Imperials and soon the Protestant resolve weakened and then broke. The columns dissolved, regimental cohesion vanished and the dreaded cry of "Alles ist verloren!" rang out from the Protestant ranks and they quit the field, many throwing down their weapons as they fled. Fortunately for them the Imperial pikemen now were between Mansfeld's army and the artillery that had done them so much harm, so they were spared further punishment.
Mansfeld was able to rally his forces and make a camp of sorts not far from the battlefield. Bucquoy's men were exhausted in victory and contented themselves with collecting weapons and equipment (along with any valuables!) from the fallen Protestants. The battle was won but the war not yet over.
Last edited by Ripster8
on Thu Oct 13, 2016 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The Hanged Man is a representative of humanity who is found between two kingdoms - that of this world and that of heaven."