This refers to a private fantasy I mentioned back at the end of last year, here, to visit Napoleon’s battlefields from the early stages of the French counterattack against the forces of the Fifth Coalition in 1809, on the Danube.
The biggest initial challenge – apart from my own lack of detailed expertise on this campaign – was how the blazes to set about getting a handle on such a project. There are very few suitable battlefield tours available – not even written guides, and it would be very easy to attempt something unmanageable, or reduce a long-cherished dream to a sad shambles. Getting the right balance between battlefield-hiking and beer-drinking is also important. Tricky.
Well, I’m delighted to say it’s coming together nicely – my crazy friend and I are definitely going in September. We have flight tickets and hotels booked and everything. We’ll spend three days based at Regenburg, and the rest of the week looking around sights of
|Regensburg - the bridge the French couldn't destroy|
The plan is that we will fly to
via Amsterdam, on a Wednesday, and then take the
intercity ICE train to Regensburg (this is the Dortmund express, so should be a classy
train). Thursday morning we pick up a hire car in Regensburg
and drive out to visit the Bayerisches Armeemuseum in Ingolstadt. In the afternoon we are to meet
up with a gentleman who is curator of a local museum and author of a number of
publications on the Battle of Abensberg, and he will give us a personal guided
tour of the Abensberg battlefield. This is a fantastic asset – Abensberg is so
big a battle, and so fragmented, that I had sort of abandoned any idea of trying
to follow the events of the day in an organised way. My fall-back plan was to
pick on Lannes’ advance, and follow that. No, no, says our volunteer guide –
best to do it chronologically. If we supply the transport, he will take us
around in a proper manner. Sounds excellent to me.
|Bavarian Army Museum, Ingolstadt|
Friday is up for grabs, but I’ve been sent a terrific narrative and battlefield guide (in English) for Eggmühl by the tourist people at Schierling – I even got a nice letter from the mayor. I also have contact details for a local Heimatspfleger who can take us around the field. For
Landshut there is
nothing available, but a local historian typed up an account of both actions at
Landshut in an
email – a lot of work for him, and much appreciated – and he even recommended a
local Biergarten! We may not have the time or the stamina to visit Landshut or
Thann, but Eggmühl is a must – I now have the new, locally produced book, and I
also have Ian Castle’s very nice book from the Osprey Campaign series, so I’ll take both of those away on the family’s
forthcoming holiday at Salzburg, and spend a few idle moments studying these, to improve my understanding of the area.
For the Saturday we have the offer of a tour of the historical highlights of
(a.k.a. Ratisbon) with our kind curator again, and then I think we should
devote some time to wining and dining him to express our thanks.
Sunday we catch the train back to
Vienna, where we have a few days to check out
Schönbrunn and the Heeresgeschichtemuseum, plus a whole pile of other candidate
sites, including a concert or two and lots of cakes and coffee. We fly home on
the Wednesday. My liver may be resting for a while afterwards.
Mustn’t get carried away here – a lot depends on everything working out, and the availability of some key individuals, but we really could not have had more help or support. I can now get back to reading the John Gill trilogy, Loraine Petre’s 1809 book, Gunther E Rothenburg,
Chandler and various other sources with a
calmer and more positive mind. Prior to this period of progress, such reading merely heightened
my anxiety and the feeling of hopelessness!
I’m really looking forward to it now.