On the verge of defeat

2016_12_08

While the Monarchy’s attack gained ground in the Cracow area only very slowly, the situation at Limanowa gradually turned critical. It became clear that with his severely diminished troops, Boroević was unable to prevent Russian units’ movements. Despite this, however, he could have immediately put Brusilov in a difficult position with accurate manoeuvring, a possibility that was of grave concern to the Russian. Arriving in the meanwhile from the victorious Battle of Homonna, the Szurmay Group was directed westwards only on 8 December, after which it – albeit belatedly – managed to incur parts of the Russian Army Corps VIII, as well as the westbound Army Corps XXIV. This, however, could alleviate the situation of the Hungarian hussars defending the hills surrounding Limanowa only indirectly.

The bulk of the makeshift forces defending Limanowa was composed only of a few infantry companies on top of the Hungarian 3rd, 9th, 10th and 13th Hussar Regiments, the 12th Hussar Regiment and the 4th Mounted Artillery Division. Furthermore, cavalry units’ equipment was inadequate for fighting on foot; they carried neither bayonets nor spades, and their red-and-blue uniforms all but beaconed in the forested, grass-grown landscape. To make matters even worse, they had no more than a couple of machine-guns.

Defenders’ ramshackle positions surrounded the city arranged into a semi-circle, with their centre of gravity located on Jabloniec Ridgle and on Golców Hill. Marching up against them, the Russian 15th Division launched a fierce artillery attack against the defenders on 8 Decembers. In addition to being heavily outnumbered, the Austro-Hungarian artillery was equipped only with short-range guns and was thus unable to return fire.

Following a series of sieges, Golców Hill fell to the Russians on 9 December. Having failed to prevent the Russians from taking this strategic location due to their belated arrival, the Hadfy Group’s subsequent onslaughts proved fruitless against the entrenched enemy. At this point, the city’s fall appeared imminent…