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Battle of the Vistula River Information

Battle of the Vistula River

Date: Date
29 September-31 October 1914
Warsaw, present-day Poland
Decisive Russian victory
Date: 29 September-31 October 1914
Location: Warsaw, present-day Poland
Result: Decisive Russian victory
: Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders:
: Nikolai Ivanov
: Russian Second Army
Russian Fourth Army
Russian Fifth Army
Russian Ninth Army
Casualties and losses:
: 65,000

Vistula River - Ċx³dĊş - Limanowa - Bolimx³w - 2nd Masurian Lakes - Gorlice-Tarnx³w - Great Retreat - Sventiany Offensive - Lake Naroch - Brusilov Offensive - Kowel - Kerensky Offensive - Operation Albion

The Battle of the Vistula River, also known as the Battle of Warsaw, was a Russian victory against the German Empire on the Eastern Front during the First World War.


When the Austro-Hungarian Army was being driven from Galicia in the Battle of Galicia, the German industrial area of Upper Silesia, left undefended by German troops, was threatened with a Russian offensive into the heart of Germany. In order to counter the Russian preparations, as well as to support the shattered Austro-Hungarian Armies, Erich von Falkenhayn, the German commander in chief, ordered the bulk of the German VIII. Army from Eastern Prussia to be transferred into the area of Cracow for an offensive against the Russian centre around Warsaw. The newly-formed German IX. Army, commanded by Paul von Hindenburg, consisted of the XVII., XX., XI., Guard Reserve and Landwehr Corps, as well as a mixed Landwehr Division from Silesia and the Saxon 8th Cavalry Division. In early October, the Army was reinforced by the 35. Reserve Division from East Prussia. Thus, Hindenburg had at his disposal 12 Infantry and one Cavalry Divisions. The battle opened on 28 September by the Ninth Army and was joined by 30 September by the Austro-Hungarian First Army.

Engagement of Opatx³w-Klimontx³w

To guard the northward crossing of their 4th and 9th Armies over the Vistula, the Russian command deployed the 75. Reserve Division (IV. Army) at Radom, as well as the group General Delsalle, consisting of the Guard Rifle Brigade, 2nd Rifle Brigade and 80. Reserve Division, at Opatx³w-Klimontx³w. Both groups were screened by the Cavalry divisions of the Corps Nowikow. As Hindenburg suspected two to three corps in the area, he concentrated the German XI., Guard and Austro-Hungarian I. Corps against Delsalle's group. On 3 October, the 3rd and 7th Austrian Cavalry Divisions engaged the Guard cavalry Brigade, supported by Infantry from the 80. Reserve Division, at Klimontx³w, but were defeated and forced back. Thus, Hindenburg had no idea of how weak the forces opposing him were in reality. In response to the Austro-German threat, the Russians were ordered to retreat on their own. While Nowikow's cavalry obeyed the order, General Delsalle believed that he would be able to hold his position.

The next day, his group was destroyed by the much superior enemy. The Central Powers captured 7,000 prisoners, only a few Russians managed to escape. The German troops lost only 571 men (Austrian casualties are not known).


Hindenburg reached the Vistula River by 9 October and was only 19 km (12 mi) away from Warsaw; here, the German offensive began to falter. General Nikolai Ruzsky, commander of the Russian Northwest Front, brought up significant reinforcement against the Ninth Army. At this time, Hindenburg learned of a planned Russian offensive into Silesia from a captured Russian soldier. However, Hindenburg continued to push the offensive against Warsaw. The Germans were unfamiliar with the land and unable to bring sufficient reinforcements to the Ninth Army, therefore allowing Ruzsky to concentrate his front against Hindenburg. On 17 October, Hindenburg ordered a retreat, and by the 31st the battle was over.


On 1 November, the Ninth Army was back where it had begun, with the loss of 21,350 soldiers, while the First Army had lost 50,000 soldiers. The Russians had lost 15,000 dead and 50,000 wounded. This was the first of a series of attempts by the Germans to capture Warsaw. After the battle, Colonel General Hindenburg was appointed commander of the whole Eastern front. The IX. Army was taken over by General August von Mackensen, former commander of the XVII. Corps. Ten days later, Hindenburg made another attempt at Warsaw culminating in the Battle of Ċx³dĊş. Superior numbers on the Eastern Front had given the Russian army the advantage in the fall of 1914.

Order of battle

Russian forces

Russian South-Western front. Commander-in-chief - Nikolai Ivanov

2nd Army. Commander - Scheidemann
I. Corps
II. Corps
IV. Corps
XXIII. Corps
I. Siberian Corps
II. Siberian Corps
XXVII. Corps
4th Army. Commander - Alexei Evert
Grenadier Corps
III. Caucasian Corps
XVI. Corps
Cavalry Corps Nowikow
9th Army. Commander - Leschitzky
Guard Corps
XVIII. Corps
XIV. Corps
5th Army. Commander - Pavel Plehve
XVII. Corps
XXV. Corps
V. Corps

Austro-German Forces

9th Army. Commander - Paul von Hindenburg
XVII. Corps
XX. Corps
Guard Reserve Corps
XI. Corps
Landwehr Corps Woyrsh
Cavalry Corps Frommel

1st Army. Commander - Viktor Dankl
I. Corps
V. Corps
X. Corps

Tucker, Spencer The Great War: 1914-18 (1998)
Glaise-Horstenau, Edmund x–sterreich-Ungarns letzter Krieg 1914-1918. Erster Band. Das Kriegsjahr 1914 (1931)
Bleibtreu, Karl Bismarck, Band 3

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Source: WikiPedia

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