AROUND 200 military history buffs gathered in Bratislava's Sad Janka Kráľa park on June 28 to re–enact Napoleon's siege of Bratislava in 1809. Dressed in period uniforms, the "soldiers" marched in line and fired cannons, but also enjoyed plenty of goulash and beer, the ČTK newswire wrote.
“Bratislava was strategic to Napoleon,” Peter Kovács from the Slovak War History Society explained. “The French were trying to gain entry to the Austrian Empire by crossing the Danube, and were looking for the best place to do so.”
Military buffs from almost all the countries of the former Austrian monarchy attended the re–enactment.
Some curious children tried firing the group's historical weapons. But one youngster was scared when one of the guns went off, and started crying.
“You should have covered his ears,” one of the soldiers dressed in a French uniform quipped to the parents.
The Sad Janka Kráľa park still bears signs of the siege from almost two centuries ago.
“Those uphill places in the park are not barriers against floods, as one might think, but ramparts from Napoleonic times,” Kovács said.
Napolean's army tried to conquer Bratislava for two months, but failed, Kovács noted. The army’s advance was complicated by the Danube’s side channels, which were then on the right of the river. Also, the Austrian army blew up a bridge that crossed the river.
Napoleon's armies subsequently destroyed several castles, including Devín Castle, near what is now the Austrian border.
7. Jul 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports