Alternate History

Battle of Galicia (God Save the Tsar)

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Invasion of Galicia
Part of Eastern Front of World War I
Date August—September 1914
Location Galicia
Result Russian victory
Flag of Russia Russia Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918) Austria-Hungary
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Russia Nikolai Ivanov

Flag of Russia Aleksei Brusilov
8th Army
Flag of Russia Lavr Kornilov
5th Army
Flag of Russia Paul von Rennenkampf
3rd Army
Flag of Russia Aleksei Evert
4th Army
Flag of Russia Pavel Plehve
9th Army

Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918) Archduke Ferdinand

Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918) Conrad von Hötzendorf
Chief of general staff
Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918) Viktor Dankl
1st Army
Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918) Moritz von Auffenberg
2nd Army
Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918) Rudolf Brudermann
3rd Army

Units involved
Ninth Army
Fifth Army
Fourth Army
Third Army
Eighth Army
Fifth Army
Second Army
Third Army
Fourth Army
1,200,000 950,000
Casualties and losses
208,104 killed, wounded, or captured 356,327 killed, wounded, or captured
Invasion of Galicia
KraśnikKomarowGnila LipaRawa

The Battle of Galicia was a major engagement between Russia and Austria-Hungary during the early stages of World War I in 1914. In the course of the battle, the Austro-Hungarian armies were severely defeated and forced out of Galicia, while the Russians captured Lemberg and ruled Eastern Galicia.


When war with Russia became apparent in the beginning of August, the Austro-Hungarian chief-of-staff Conrad Von Hötzendorf decided to launch an offensive into Russian Poland with his northern armies (the 1st and 4th). As the Russian army would soon be able to mobilize forces greatly superior in numbers to that of the Central Powers in the East (especially the Austro-Hungarian armies, which were Russia's primary target), von Hötzendorf saw his only chance in an early victory.

He also hoped that Germany would join his offensive into Poland, but that hope was frustrated by the fact that Germany only deployed few troops in East Prussia ordered entirely on the defence. Thus, the 1st and 4th Austro-Hungarian armies started their advance into Poland without definite German support. Initially they were opposed by the Russian 4th and 5th armies respectively.

Meanwhile, Nikolai Ivanov, the Russian commander of the Southwest Front, was expecting an Austro-Hungarian offensive from Lemberg in eastern direction. This was to be met by a Russian offensive into eastern Galicia with the Russian 3rd and 8th armies.

The invasion

The Austro-Hungarian 1st Army under Viktor Dankl was moving in the north towards Lublin. Dankl struck and breifly drove back Aleksei Evert's Russian Fourth Army in what would be known as the Battle of Kraśnik. However, the Russians returned and mauled the 1st Army, capturing some 20,000 Austro-Hungarian troops. Dankl himself was killed during the fighting.

To the right of Dankl the Auffenberg's 4th Army, aiming at Cholm, drove back the Russian Fifth Army under Lavr Kornilov in the Battle of Komarów, capturing 20,000 prisoners and inflicting heavy casualties. However, a planned Austrian enveloping movement around the Russian army failed.

As the Russians were advancing along the northern front, the Austrian 3rd Army and Army Group Kovess made a simultaneous counterattack against Ivanov's left wing. Along the southern front Ivanov had the Russian Third Army under Paul von Rennenkampf and the Russian Eighth Army under the capable Aleksei Brusilov. Brusilov and Rennenkampf routed the Austro-Hungarians so thoroughly that even though poor roads necessitated that the Russians halt for two days, the Austrians could not regroup to halt the Russian drive. This attack became known as the Battle of Gnila Lipa.

With the entire 3rd Army and Kovess Group in full retreat, Conrad pulled forces away from northern front which he believed had been sufficiently put back. In fact the Russians north of Lemberg were a major threat. Ivanov ordered Kornilov's Fifth Army to attack and drove the Austrians back as they began to shift forces to the south in an engagement known as the Battle of Rava Ruska. The Austrian Second Army was quickly recalled from Serbia but it was too late and the entire Austrian front collapsed in Galicia and the Russians took control of Lemberg.


As the Austrians retreated many Slavic soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian Army simply surrendered and some even offered to fight for the Russians. A total of some 130,000 prisoners were taken by the Russians by the time the battle subsided on September 11, while they inflicted 356,000 casualties. The Russians suffered 208,000 casualties, including 40,000 captured. The Russians had pushed the front 160 km (100 mi) into the Carpathian Mountains, completely surrounded the Austrian fortress of Przemyśl and started a Siege of Przemyśl which lasted for over a hundred days. The battle severely damaged the Austro-Hungarian Army, destroyed a large portion of its trained officers, and crippled Austria. The Russians had been triumphant at the Battle of Tannenberg, and their victory at Lemberg largely raised the already high morale of the Russian troops and public.

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