The Battle of Aspern-Essling, one of the most famous battles during the Napoleonic Wars, began on this day in 1809. It was the first major battle which Napoleon Bonaparte didn’t win. Although he wasn’t decisively defeated, the Austrians claimed to have won. At the time, the Supreme Commander of the Habsburg army was the Archduke Charles, grandson of the former Empress Maria Theresa. Charles was the brother of the Austrian Emperor Francis II, and held the rank of field marshal.
The battle took place in the Austrian villages of Asperen and Essling, ten kilometers from Vienna. These settlements are situated across the Danube from Vienna, in the area of Marchfeld. Shortly before the battle, Napoleon had already conquered Vienna (about a week earlier). Most of the Austrian army was located across the Danube, and Napoleon decided to cross the river and attack his opponents.
The Archduke Charles did not stop the French army when it was crossing the river. He attacked them when they were located in the mentioned villages. The battle was bloody, and lasted two days. After the first day of the battle, the troops spent the night there, and continued to fight in the morning.
More than 13,000 people were killed in the Battle of Aspern-Essling. The Lion of Aspern is a large stone statue of a dying lion, which commemorates the people who died during the battle. The statue was designed by Anton Dominik Fernkorn, a German-Austrian sculptor.