A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Thursday, 11 July 2013

My Danube Trip - Update

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 Vienna.

I am stunned by the help I have received – originally from Old John, who sent me a huge parcel of brochures and stuff for all sorts of places all over the area, and later from various tourist offices and individuals I have approached by email in Germany. People have really been enthusiastic and supportive – fantastic. I am touched and grateful and even a bit embarrassed, all at the same time.

Regensburg - the bridge the French couldn't destroy
The plan is that we will fly to Vienna, 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 Regensburg (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.

Schönbrunn Palace
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.


  1. Sounds brilliant - take lots of photos !

  2. Very envious, sounds fantastic lots of details please as this is one of my favourite campaigns