Combat of Wolfring, 20 August 1796

The combat of Wolfring (20 August 1796) was the last French success during General Jourdan's second invasion of Germany in 1796. After crossing the Rhine at the start of July Jourdan had followed General Wartensleben's Austrians as they retreated up the Main, then to Nuremburg, and finally east toward the River Naab, fighting a series of minor actions on the way. On 17 August the two sides had clashed at Neukirchen and Augsberg, and on 18 August Wartensleben had abandoned his position at Amberg and retreated east across the Naab.

War of the First Coalition - Rhine Front 1796
War of the First Coalition
Rhine Front 1796

General Kray, the commander of the Austrian rearguard, had been left to defend Amberg. The French attempted to trap Kray at Amberg, but he escaped and moved east to the village of Wolfring, where he took up a strong but narrow position, with his right at Wolfring and his left in the woods at Freihöis, one mile to the south west.

On 20 August the French advanced towards the Naab. On the left Lefebvre was sent towards Wernberg. In the centre Collaud was sent towards Schwarzenfeld, a line of advance that took him though Freihöis and Wolfring. On the right Grenier, Championnet and the cavalry reserve advanced towards Schwandorf.

Collaud drove the Austrians out of Freihöis and across the brook of Wolfring, but his advance left him vulnerable to a counterattack and the Austrians retook the village. The fight for Wolfring lasted all day. The village changed hands several times, but when darkness ended the battle it was still held by the Austrians. Elsewhere the French had been more successful, and had reached the Naab. This left Kray with no choice other than to retreat east to Schwartzenfeld and cross to the east bank of the Naab.

At the end of 20 August Jourdan and Wartensleben faced each other across the Naab. Collaud and Grenier were at Schwarzenfeld. Championnet and Bonnaud were opposite Schwandorf. Lefebvre was at Nabburg. The French rear was guarded by Bernadotte, who was at Neumarck, twenty five miles to the west of the Naab, on the road between Nuremburg and Regensburg. It would thus be Bernadotte who first discovered that a second Austrian army, under the Archduke Charles, was advancing north from the Danube. Bernadotte clashed with the advancing Austrians at Deining (22 August 1796) and Neumarkt (23 August 1796), and sent messengers east to warn Jourdan of the danger he was in. On 23 August Jourdan began his retreat from the Naab, but the following day the Austrians caught him and inflicted the first in a series of defeats that would force Jourdan to retreat back to the Rhine (battle of Amberg, 24 August 1796).

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 February 2009), Combat of Wolfring, 20 August 1796 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_wolfring.html

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