When the mighty shot of the Prussian cannon rang out, the child sitting on his father’s shoulders burst into tears. This is how the anniversary of the Battle of Chlumec began on Saturday, September 3, in which roughly 12,000 soldiers died 209 years ago.
The Battle of Chlumec took place on August 29 and 30, 1813 near the villages of Chlumec and Přestanov in northern Bohemia. In it, the combined armies of Austria, Prussia and Russia defeated the army of the French Emperor Napoleon, commanded by General Vandamme.
| Photo: Diary/Topi Pigula
In 1813, the combined armies of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Prussia and Russia clashed at Chlumec, which defeated the Napoleonic troops led by General Vandamme. On Saturday, pyrotechnicians had already prepared explosives in advance in the places where fake artillery shells were supposed to land. Around 200 soldiers of several nationalities took part in the battle, and the victorious field marshal Karel Filip Schwarzenberg was portrayed by the well-known actor Václav Vydra. He admitted that the warlord is one of his favorite historical figures. Karl Filip Schwarzenberg’s white uniform could be recognized from a distance and, unlike General Dominique Joseph Vandamme, he did not end up in captivity.
A group of Russian Cossacks spoke Russian, which seemed authentic. Saxon German Joachim spoke English with his comrades, while he and his comrades were dressed in the uniform of Austrian hunters. “The green accessories on the uniform are typical of us,” Joachim explains, showing the green cuffs.
PHOTO: Look at the soldiers from the battle. A procession left Chlumec on Friday
Although around 12,000 soldiers fell in the actual battle of 1813, only a few remained on the battlefield after the battle on Saturday, September 3, 2022. “It is not agreed in advance who will fall, everyone decides for himself,” says Jaroslav Uhlíř from Předlice, who represents a French infantryman in the battle. The gunners are preparing to fire a ten-pounder cannon, which in terms of the current use of the unit means a caliber of 168.5 mm. This is no small thing, the barrel itself weighs 415 kg and to that must be added the gun carriage weighing 650 kg. Each of the grenades weighs 11.5 kg. The maximum range was very short compared to today’s howitzers, only 1,500 m. “Then we will spread out so that the cavalry can pass,” instructs the gunner commander, who receives the instructions into a hidden earpiece.
A drone flies over the battlefield, which somewhat disturbs the historical image. “Although the rules are given, things sometimes go wrong. Once we should have fallen, but we fought with such vigor that the Russians, who were actually among the winners, started retreating in confusion,” recalls infantryman Uhlí from one of the past years. In the memorial entry of the Chlumec chronicle, it is said: “Everyone ran as fast as he could to save what could still be saved.” Women and children, burdened with all kinds of things, and men driving cattle fled to the mountains to hide in the nearby woods.”
In one day I am Charles I. of Schwarzenberg and Charles IV., says actor Václav Vydra
The crackling of artillery shots and the hits from the barrel were so authentic that one of the children cried. For lovers of military history, a number of interesting uniforms and details of both weapons and clothing components can be seen. The black and yellow elements refer to the state colors of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. “You can recognize Hulans by their coats over one shoulder. This is so that they are at least a little covered on one side and at the same time have their right hand free for fighting with a saber,” one of the fathers explains the details of the equipment to his son. There were not only soldiers in historical clothing, but also women in period clothing in the improvised village.