Wagram 1809 Campaign research

Posted by C M Dodson on 05 Apr 2017, 13:53

Hello Mr. Cyrnns,

I understand that one of the most destructive objects floated down the river was a blazing floating mill. This breached the bridges causing chaos. I feel that this could look quite spectacular if modelled correctly ( and set on fire)!

In the meantime, thank you again for more fabulous information about this very interesting battle .

Best wishes,

C M Dodson  United Kingdom
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01 May 2015, 18:48

Posted by FredG on 05 Apr 2017, 16:27

* makes a note to hide the matches when Chris is around. :eh:
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FredG  United Kingdom
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09 Dec 2011, 21:47

Posted by Mr. Cryns on 21 Apr 2017, 11:43

C M Dodson wrote:one of the most destructive objects floated down the river was a blazing floating mill. This breached the bridges causing chaos.

Mr. Dodson you may be right, I must have forgotten about that and my Napleonic library is buried deep into the caves of my house.

So here is your floating mill:


Its (a 19th century?) model in a scale 1:10 (I estimate).
The model is displayed in the Hainburg Town Museum.


And here we can see the kind of bridge it destroyed:


This one above is a 'romantic' painting. Judging the excessive size of the pontoons these must be civilian riverboats. Also the space between each pontoon is too wide. Behind this boatbridge traces of and old temporary pile bridge are visible.

The Danube / Donau is Europe's longest river and after the Rhine, its most important waterway. Two different ways of shipping were common at least since Roman times: Floating downstream with the current and towing upstream by human labour or draft animals. The pictures I photographed often show both:

Human towing:


Towing by horses, 3 of them in a row:


Notice two extra little pontoons floating between boat and horses to keep the cable above the water. Also notice the holes in the picture above: its a circular archery target from the 18th century.

Some more 18th century images showing those typical Danube boats with sheds on the deck:




A remarkable item are the colored stripes we see again and again on the Danube boats. A well known painting shows black&yellow:


This must be an Austrian pontoon, though I doubt the design with sharp, pointed front and flat back of this barge. The colors remind us of the way the Austrians painted their artillery, train and pionier equipment at the end of the 18th century and the early Napoleonic age:


But also civilian ferry's and pontoons show these colors:


They do also come in white&red though:


This must be a 19th century turf ship:


Look at its oars: two at the back and one in front, only for steering. Propelling is done by the current.

The red&white stripes, just like the black&yellow ones, remind me of heraldic colors used on doors and window shutters of castles, houses and farms.


These usually represent the heraldy of the county or province of which those buildings and territory belong to.

Can one of our Austrian members maybe tell us if thats the purpose of the colors of those Donau boats too?
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Mr. Cryns  Netherlands

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