Battlefield Walk – Wagram Day 1: Taking the Hanslgrund

One of the great things about researching local stuff is that visiting the sites doesn’t take a lot of effort. I have already been to Aspern and Essling as well as to the Lobau. Apart from the church and the granary, there is not much to see at the first two locations (the museums were closed due to the pandemic). The Southern part of the Marchfeld is heavily developed and especially around Aspern and Essling, a heavily trafficked road, urban sprawl and industry make walking around rather unpleasant. The Lobau is a great place and well worth visiting – I might write a short piece about it at some other time.

However, there are places where less changes have taken place and some interesting insights can be gained by walking. One of those is the so-called Hanslgrund, which served as a staging area for Oudinot’s Corps on the first day of the Battle of Wagram.

We started our tour at the Uferhaus Staudigl, a small restaurant with a parking lot that serves as a gateway to the Lobau for many walkers. In 1809, there was a house at or near this location, called the “maison blanche” by the French and the “Uferhaus” on Austrian maps. This house was used as an Austrian observation post, but because the banks of the Lobau were heavily wooded, not much of what was going on could be seen.

By the beginning of July 1809, Lobau island was heavily fortified and served as the staging area for Napoleon’s planned crossing into the Marchfeld. For a while, the Austrians assumed that Napoleon would cross over between Aspern and Essling, as he had done before. However, his intention was to move his troops over the Stadler Arm to the East, take Groß-Enzersdorf and use it as a pivot to wheel his army around it so its front was facing to the North and he was in a position to outflank the Austrians. During the night of 4th to 5th July, this extremely well prepared and planned crossing took place.

Oudinot’s 2nd Corps had the task to secure the French right flank by occupying the Hanslgrund, an island to the East of the Lobau which was separated from the Marchfeld by a creek called the “Steigbügel Arm”. 

Our tour explored the way of the 2nd Corps and the retreat of the Austrian troops during the night and the morning of July 4th and 5th.

Map detail from Sittig: Geschichte des k.u.k. Feldjäger-Bataillons Nr. 1

Starting at the Uferhaus, we first walked to the South along the Stadler Arm. In July 1809, this area was occupied by elements from GM von Frelich’s Brigade, namely outposts of the 1st Jäger Battalion and the Stipsicz-Hussars. The Austrians had also built a redoubt (redoubt nr. XVI) on the southernmost edge of the Hanslgrund, which held a small battery of 3-pdr guns.

I don’t think there is any trace left of this redoubt, although perhaps an archaeologist might discern the layout from the composition of the ground or the vegetation. In any case, we halted where we thought it might approximately have been and reflected on what happened there in the evening of July 4th, 1809.

Area around Schanze 16

In the afternoon of July 4th, a heavy thunderstorm had begun which provided cover for the French crossing but also made the nightly operations even more difficult. Around 21.00, 1500 troops of Conroux’ brigade landed near redoubt nr. XVI under the cover of a heavy bombardment from the Lobau batteries as well as a flotilla of gunboats. Wearing white armbands to recognize each other in the stormy night, they drove away the one-and-a-half companies of the 1st Jäger posted there, capturing three 3-pdrs in the process. The short and chaotic fight, which also seems to have involved attacks by the Hussars, ended with the Jäger retreating towards a bridge over the Steigbügel Arm and the French following. The Jäger managed to destroy the bridges over the Arm and Conroux’s men halted, as the darkness and the weather made orientation on the heavily wooded Hanslgrund very difficult.

During the night, French engineers built a bridge over the Stadler Arm and Oudinot brought over his Corps, which formed in the Hanslgrund and prepared for an early morning attack.

We continued our walk through the Hanslgrund to the village of Mühlleiten.

Approaching Mühlleiten from the South

During the night, the Jäger rallied there. GM von Frelich ordered to village to be held (against the advice of at least one of his officers, Unterleutenant Wilhelm Reiche), so the Jäger barricaded the access roads, and a squadron of Stipsicz-Hussars was posted on the right flank.

At the time, the village was a very open Angerdorf and therefore difficult to defend. The Anger can still be seen, as can the small chapel, which was built in 1710.

Detail from the Franziszeischer Kataster.

We now walked back towards the Lobau, going in the opposite direction of the attacking French.

Looking from Mühlleiten to the west (the dam is new and was not there at the time).

The next image shows the view towards Mühlleiten from the direction of the approaching French. Again Conroux’ men led the attack in the early morning of 5th July.

Looking towards Mühlleiten from the west.

After a short fight, the Austrians were dislodged, with the Jäger retreating towards Hausen and Schloss Sachsengang, the headquarters of GM von Frelich. During their retreat, they were harassed by French cavalry.

As it was getting dark, we decided to head back to the Uferhaus and take the car to Schloss Sachsengang. Our walk back led us to the place where a bridge over the Steigbügel Arm was located. 

The Steigbügel Arm was located to the left.

When the French attacked the Hanslgrund, the retreating Jäger rallied there and destroyed the bridge, which the French then rebuilt during the night.

The Steigbügel Arm no longer carries water and it is not delineated in modern maps. However, looking at Google Maps, the contours can still be seen, so I was curious if we would find any traces.

And indeed, we did!

Seeing the remains of the creek’s bed, it became clear how much of an obstacle it was, why it was so important for the Jäger to destroy the bridges and why the French did not pursue the Jäger over the Arm at night.

When we finally arrived at the car, it was getting late and the sun was setting, but I still wanted to see Schloss Sachsengang. This small castle, which was built during the Middle Ages, was at the time the Headquarters of GM von Frelich and the rallying point for the 1st Jäger. It was already occupied by elements of the 7th Jäger Batallion when the retreating troops arrived from Mühlleiten. Again, Wilhelm Reiche advised against making a stand there, as he feared becoming cut off from the army, but the orders were to the contrary and the Jäger posted two 3pdrs and sharp shooters at the castle’s towers. The Austrians also posted Jäger at the villages of Hausen and cavalry from the Stipsicz and Primatial Hussars on the flanks.

Detail from the Franziszeischer Kataster.

The castle itself is not open to the public, but we could access the forecourt. It gave us a good impression of the strength of the position. But it also became quite clear that it was a veritable trap against a large number of enemy troops, as its small size made it easy to surround and contain the garrison inside.

Schloss Sachsengang

And this was exactly what happened: After a failed attempt to storm the castle, the French positioned howitzers and tried to incinerate the roofs. This also failed at first and a lively skirmish developed, with French soldiers trying to set the outbuildings aflame and Austrian sharp shooters trying to prevent them. Sources disagree when the Austrian garrison finally capitulated, but it was irrelevant anyway, as at that time, Oudinot had already moved his Corps to the North and brought it into line with the Army preparing itself to march across the Marchfeld. The Schloss Sachsengang garrison posed no threat, as it was contained by a batallion of Grenadiers.

After their capitulation, the Jäger defending the Schloss became Prisoners of War and did not participate in any further actions of the 1809 campaign.

This was a very interesting and enlightening tour. It was also very enjoyable, as the wetlands along the Danube are a nice place for walking. I was especially happy to see the remnants of the Steigbügel Arm – such discoveries can only be made by walking the ground.

If you want to take the tour yourself, here is the route on Google Maps. It is possible to walk to Schloss Sachsengang, and we would probably have done it if it hadn’t been already that late in the day.


Sources:

Gill, John H.: 1809. Thunder on the Danube. Napoleon’s Defeat of the Habsburgs. Volume III: Wagram and Znaim. London: Frontline Books 2014.

Hellwald, Friedrich Anton Heller von: Der Feldzug des Jahres 1809 in Süddeutschland. 2: Von der Schlacht bei Aspern bis zum Schlusse des Feldzuges. Wien: Gerold 1864.

Pelet, Jacques Germain: Mémoires sur la guerre de 1809, en Allemagne. Tome quatrième. Paris: Roret 1826.

Pils, François: Journal de Marche du Grenadier Pils. Paris: Ollendorff 1895.

Sittig, Heinrich: Geschichte des k.u.k. Feldjäger-Bataillons Nr. 1. Reichenberg: Selbstverlag 1908.

Treuenfest, Gustav Amon von: Geschichte des kaierl. und königl. Husaren-Regimentes Nr. 10 Friedrich Wilhelm III., König von Preussen. Wien: Verlag des Regiments 1892.

1809 Terrain 5 – Religious Landmarks

Religious landmarks were ubiquitous around 1800 and can often be found on Napoleonic battlefields, such as the iconic church and cemetery of Aspern. In the Habsburg Monarchy, Catholicism was the state religion. Several religious minorities, such as Protestants, Greek-orthodox and Jews, existed, and different laws regulated if and how they were allowed to practice their religion in public. Protestants were allowed to have prayer houses, but those could not have an entrance towards the street or a tower. This means that all religious symbols that could be found in public in Eastern Austria around 1800 were Roman Catholic.

In this article, I will focus on three kinds of religious architecture: prayer houses (churches and chapels), cemeteries and small single monuments. I will mention monasteries only very cursory at the end.

Churches and chapels

Churches were representative as well as functional buildings. As functional buildings, they were the place of congregation for the parish and formed the communal centre of a village or town (or town district, in the case of larger towns with several churches). Going to mass was natural for most Austrians around 1800 and only very few people – most from the educated elites – would follow enlightenment religious schools of thought such as deism, which placed no importance on religious rituals (real atheism was even rarer). Incidentally, this was also true of French soldiers, despite their reputation as atheistic heathens!

Churches also had a representative and symbolic function. As such, they followed the architectural styles predominant at the time of their construction. However, they were also continuously modified according to requirements and taste. This means that many older churches incorporated elements from different periods and rarely showed pure architectural styles.

Many Austrian churches are Romanesque or Gothic in origin. Renaissance churches are rare, but baroque architecture is quite common, as there was a veritable building boom during the late 17th century. Many new churches were built to bolster the Counter-Reformation. Those baroque churches dominated the appearance of many villages and towns. The church of Aspern is a good example, being built in 1671.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, many older churches were also supplemented with baroque elements and decorations. Churches continued to be modified and added to during the 19th and 20th century, so it is often difficult to extrapolate how they looked around 1800. Fortunately, due to their importance, they are often depicted in townscapes, so it is often possible to find drawings or engravings of specific churches.

The following image shows Herzogbirbaum (40km to the north-west of Vienna) around 1830. The church, which features prominently in the lithography, is of Gothic origin and was finished at the end of the 13th century. The tower, however, was embellished with baroque elements during the 18th century, as can be clearly seen by the “Zwiebelturm” (onion-domed tower).

The next image is a detail of an image I’ve already shown in the article on villages, namely Mayer’s late-18th-century painting of Groissenbrunn.

This church was finished in 1763 and is a typical example of baroque architecture. Note the walled graveyard surrounding the church and the simple grave crosses, to which we will now turn our attention.

Cemeteries

Until the end of the 18th century, the church alone was responsible for the burial of the dead. However, with the government of Emperor Joseph II., state authorities started to intervene to reform the funeral system.

Up until that time, cemeteries were usually around churches, with the whole area being walled in. There was a strict hierarchy concerning the locations of graves: clergymen and very high-ranking laymen were buried inside the church, while influential families or guilds had vaulted graves along the church’s exterior wall. The rest of the population was put into mass graves in the cemetery proper, where individuals were buried in layers.

Cemeteries became incredibly crowded, and bodies had to be exhumed regularly to make space for new ones. The bones of those bodies were kept in ossuaries, which were built near the church. The cemetery at Aspern had such an ossuary, which today houses the 1809 museum.

Image from wikipedia.

However, the exhumation of bodies posed hygienical problems, because they often hadn’t had time to decompose properly. This caused the government of Joseph II. to order the construction of new cemeteries outside of towns. Thanks to the enlightenment regime, Austria was, after France, one of the pioneers in the development of such new communal cemeteries. For example, Korneuburg (where a small battle was fought on 7 July 1809) got a small cemetery outside its city walls in 1785. In those new cemeteries, the deceased were buried in single graves in the order of their date of death – at least in principle, as wealthy families tried to get privileged places.

The new cemetery at Korneuburg. Detail from the Schweickhardt map.

Concerning grave decorations, the old church cemeteries were rather plain. The mass graves very seldom had artwork and mostly were marked with wooden, sometimes wrought iron, crosses. Here is a mid-18th century depiction of the cemetery of the Bürgerspital (hospital) near the St. Rochus chapel in Vienna.

It gives the impression of a pretty crowded hotchpotch of grave markers, most of them crosses, some of which are rather simple, others featuring elaborate carvings. The small roofs were intended to protect the wooden crosses from rain. There are also what looks like wrought iron crosses on stone pedestals and one single gravestone with a figurative relief.

Here are some images of wooden and wrought-iron grave crosses from the Tyrol, the iron ones dating back to the 16th and 17th century. It can be assumed that, despite regional stylistic differences, the overall shape of such crosses would be the same all over Austria (and probably the German states).

Up until the end of the 18th century, the graves inside the churches and the vaulted graves were also often simple affairs, as there was not enough space for elaborate monuments.

However, in the new cemeteries outside town, a new culture of often quite elaborate grave monuments began to emerge, often following neo-classicist models and introducing distinctions of wealth and status into the supposedly egalitarian rows of graves. Obelisks, urns, steles or figurative statues were the most common forms.

Cemeteries were usually surrounded by a wall (sometimes by a fence). In war time, this made them useful positions for the defence of a village, as happened at the battle of Aspern, where the cemetery was fiercely contested.

Scene from the Battle of Aspern. Image from Wien Museum.

It is important to note that at the time, cemeteries were not as important as today as sites of remembrance. The dead were mainly commemorated through prayer, litanies of intercession, days of remembrance and, in Austria, small monuments called “Lichtsäulen”.

Small Monuments

The Lower Austrian landscape around 1800 was dotted with small religious monuments in the form of pillars (many of which can still be found). In the vernacular, they are often called “Marterl”, although historians have remarked that this is an incorrect, pseudo-folksy designation. If anything, a “Marterl” would be an image or sculpture depicting Christ on the cross, something that is predominant in the Tyrol. The predominant Lower Austrian monuments are correctly called “Lichtsäulen” (light pillars) or “Bildstöcke” (image pillars). They are pillars built out of bricks and covered with plaster, topped by a sort of lantern. This lantern originally held a candle but now often features a cross or a small religious image.

Lichtsäule Hohenruppersdorf, Imagine from wikipedia

The “Lichtsäulen” first appeared in the 14th century and originated in France. There are a few that were made by known gothic artisans, following the style of gothic architecture, but most of them were made by anonymous artisans in a local, less elaborate style. They housed a light inside the lantern-like top, whose function it was to commemorate the dead.

Image from Berger: “Die Kultmale des Marchfeldes”

Here are more examples.

Lichtsäule Diepolz, Image from wikipedia
Lichtsäule at the Teiritzberg near Tresdorf. Image from marterl.at
Lichtsäule near Hausleiten. Image from marterl.at

During the 17th and 18th centuries, a new type was developed, the so-called “Bildstock” or “Bildsäule” (image pillar). Commemorating events such as plagues, they often featured elaborate carvings and figures, depicting Holy Mary or saints.

Dreifaltigkeitssäule Weikendorf, image from wikipedia

There were also other types, such as crosses and single statues of St. Nepomuk, a popular saint often found at bridges. However, the most common type was and still is the simple Lichtsäule.

Often, the original meaning of the monument changed over time. For example, after the Thirty Years War, many Lichtsäulen obtained an inscription thanking god for the end of the war. While the original meaning was changed or even lost, the durable monument itself was integrated into the “mental map” of the inhabitants, acquiring a function as a landmark and geographical reference. This is probably why such monuments feature prominently in the wonderful topographical map drawn by Franz Xaver Schweickhardt in 1837.

Detail from the Schweickhardt map.

And to show you that Schweickhardt didn’t just place them there as embellishments, but that his drawings denote real monuments, let’s have a closer look at the rightmost of the three monuments depicted in the map segment. It is located near the Neues Wirtshaus, the site of a battle between Austrian and Saxon cavalry on 5th July 1809. It still exists (it was restored in 2009-2011) and is known since long as the “Weisses Kreuz” (white cross) or “Wampertes Kreuz” (pot-bellied cross), even though its not in the shape of a cross, but in the shape of a Lichtsäule, albeit a very stocky one.

Image from sagen.at

It’s an oddly shaped thing and dates back at least to the 18th century, maybe even to the Middle Ages. For battlefield walks, it is useful as it helps locate the site of the Neues Wirtshaus, which no longer exists.

Abbeys and monastaries

I want to mention them only in passing, as they only played a peripheral role during the Napoleonic campaigns and probably won’t feature on a tabletop. Napoleon visited the most famous, Melk Abbey, in November 1805 and May 1809. At the later date, he witnessed Marcellin Marbot crossing the Danube on a daring reconnaissance mission, as narrated in the memoirs of the then-ADC of Masséna (which we might believe or not).

In 1809, the French also used several Viennese monasteries as hospitals, among them the Minoritenkloster, Augustinerkloster, Servitenkloster and the monastery of the Barmherzige Brüder.

Availability of models

Churches can be found in several terrain ranges. Another option would be to use churches made for model railroads, as they often depict very local styles. Najewitz Modellbau offers very nice stl files of the Aspern church and cemetery. I built mine from scratch:

Period-specific grave crosses, however, are difficult to find, as are Lichtsäulen and other small monuments. Again, model railroad companies offer a small selection, such as a set of “Marterl” by Noch. There are also a small number of stl files on Thingiverse and cults3d, but none of this is great. 

This would be a fine opportunity for someone versed in 3D-sculpting!


Sources

Berger, Walter: “Die Kultmale (Bildstöcke, Wegkreuze usw.) des Marchfeldes,” Österreichische Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 79 (1976), pp. 1-72.

Deininger, Johann W. (ed.): Tiroler Volkskunst. Bäuerliche Architektur, Wohnräume, Getäfel, Mobilien, Geräte und Erinnerungszeichen. Innsbruck: Max Schammler 1914.

Fischer, Norbert: Vom Gottesacker zum Krematorium – Eine Sozialgeschichte der Friedhöfe in Deutschland seit dem 18. Jahrhundert. Dissertation, University of Hamburg 1996 (available online at https://ediss.sub.uni-hamburg.de/handle/ediss/155)

Lukasser, K.: Kirchen und Kapellen in Niederösterreich. Matrei in Osttirol: Journal-Verlag 1999.

Plechl, Pia M.: “Gott zu Ehrn ein Vatterunser pett” : Bildstöcke, Lichtsäulen und andere Denkmale der Volksfrömmigkeit in Niederösterreich. Wien: Herold 1971.

Sörries, Reiner: Ruhe Sanft. Kulturgeschichte des Friedhofs. Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker, 2009.

The Schweickhardt map is accessible online at https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/s/i78ttb

marterl.at is a comprehensive database of small religious monuments in Lower Austria, containing images, exact locations and a short description.

Marbot’s tale of his adventure at Melk can be found in the chapter 14 of the second volume of his Mémoires.

State of The Raft

Now that the Star of Bravery campaign is over, I feel like it is time to take a breath and reflect not only on what was going on, but also on what I want to do next. The campaign was a huge motivator and drove my painting for the last three months or so. Taking stock, it has resulted in a quite nice collection of 15mm (or rather 18mm) napoleonic figures for the War of the Fifth Coalition.

However, the campaign wasn’t my only gaming-related activity. During the summer, we also had a semi-regular board gaming meet-up, mainly playing The King’s Dilemma.

We have also continued with the remote role-playing and have just now started playing Shadowrun. Although I’ve played a lot of Cyberpunk RPGs back in the day (mainly using GURPS and Cyberpunk 2020), I’ve never played Shadowrun, so I’m really happy to have a chance to try this very influential RPG. And finally, we have re-started with another RPG, namely Les Milles Marches. A friend of mine had offered to DM a while ago, but we stopped because of the pandemic. I’m very glad we continue now, as Les Milles Marches is a very interesting RPG.

It’s a French product, set in Brussels in the near future and we have just discovered that there is some kind of parallel world, or probably a multitude of worlds. I really enjoy the background, it’s something different from the usual fare and I like the idea that the characters are activists participating in a project to create a new European community based on cooperation. It’s multicultural and pretty leftist, so if you enjoy such things, give it a try! Unfortunately, it’s only available in French.

So while I’m pretty well supplied on the boardgaming and RPG front, I’m starting to think on how I shall re-focus my miniature gaming. At the moment, I’m pondering several options: First, designing and researching historical scenarios from the 1809 campaign. I did this for the ACW and had a lot of fun, although I tend to become a bit obsessed by finding even more details and can find it hard to stop the research process. However, I always find it very rewarding and the 1809 project has the big advantage that I can visit at least some of the battlefields, which is very tempting. It would mean building a couple of special buildings and terrain features and painting some missing units (although I’d have to think about using proxies, at least in a modest way, because the variety of napoleonic uniforms would mean that I would have to paint a complete new force for almost every scenario).

Image from the Wien Museum.

Second, I have the idea of playing cavalry-only scenarios with Sharp Practice. Again, this is something I did for the ACW and it worked very well, so I’d really be interested in trying it for the napoleonic period. It would also be fascinating to compare tactics, as a lot of ACW cavalry fighting actually ends up as a fight between dismounted troopers, while napoleonic cavalry combat is much more a succession of charges and counter-charges. Hobby-wise, this would mean reading a bit on napoleonic cavalry, but most of all painting two cavalry forces, at least five groups per side. The upside is I don’t have to make additional dismounted figures for each unit, as I did for the ACW. And funnily enough, I kind of fancy painting horses at the moment, though that may be a temporary mental aberration caused by the excitement of the campaign ending…

Both of these project could, of course, result in a campaign. For the first one, something like the pint-sized campaigns produced by TooFatLardies for Chain of Command would probably be the most appropriate. For the second, a Dawns & Departures campaign could be an interesting option.

Talking to K. about it, she suggested starting with the historical scenarios, as it will take me a while to paint enough figures for cavalry games. But then I had an additional idea: What about a quick Dawns & Departures campaign using the stuff I already have? I asked Julian and Sigur and they both agreed to participate. I will be the umpire, and as Julian lives in Germany, we will play the games remotely. I don’t think there will be that many actual battles, so it should be a quick and fun affair.

I already drew up a map!

Of course I will keep you posted on all those activities. Oh, and I want to continue the terrain series with at least one more article, this time on religious architecture. So, stay tuned!

1809 Terrain 4 – Fences

Some time ago, there was an argument in one of the napoleonic wargaming groups on Facebook about the presence or not of fences in the Central European landscape during the napoleonic wars. I can only speak about Eastern Austria, as this is where my games are set and my research is focussed. 

Let’s start with one of Franz Mayer’s great paintings, which he produced during the second half of the 18th century for the Abbey of Melk. This one shows Rohrendorf near Krems:

As always, there are a great many fascinating details to be discovered. For example, in the background, you can see vineyards and a “Kellergasse”, the traditional row of small earthen wine cellars. Many of the inhabitants seem to be vinters instead of farmers, so their buildings look a bit different than the typical farm buildings I have discussed in a previous post. But this would be another topic altogether!

For now, let’s first have a look at the individual farmsteads in the foreground. Closed towards the street with buildings, they are open towards the back, where you can see orchards, vegetable patches and the occasional barn (there are less barns than in farming villages, as the inhabitants seem to be mainly vinters). Everything that belongs to the farm is fenced in with what looks like a picket fence. Its function is not only to keep out animals, it also demarcates the property of the farmer and has a legal meaning. Crossing that fence would, in theory, be a criminal act. Up until the 17th century, a farmer was allowed to kill a trespasser at night if he did not answer when addressed. Those fences were permanent features and would be repaired regularly.

Simple picket fence. Image from Eysn: “Hag und Zaun im Herzogthum Salzburg”

Next, I want to draw your attention to the fields you can see between the village proper and the hills with the vineyards. They are rather small plots surrounded by narrow dirt tracks (you can see one where the two people are standing in the middle of the picture). There are no fences around the fields (something that is corroborated by many other contemporary images) – with one noteable exception, namely the field in the middle of the image.

However, what seems to be the main road leading from the village to the vineyards – or rather, into a hollow way and through this further into the background – is flanked by a fence on both sides.

This is something that can be seen in other contemporary images, too.

For example, in this image of Markt Gerungs, there also is a fence running along the road leading to the village. It is even more prominent in the image of Joachimsberg.

Those fences were seasonal and were built only along roads leading to pastures. Their purpose was to protect the crops from animals which were driven to their pastures. In Eastern Austria, there was actually not that much cattle breeding. Herds would be very small and usually a herdsman paid by the community would collect the cattle from the farms in the morning and drive it to the pasture, from where they were driven back in the evening. The pasture was common property and often located at meadows, e.g. near an arm of the Danube. Pastures would of course be fenced in to prevent the animals from going astray.

Usually, each farmer was responsible for his own field and had to build a fence if it bordered a road where cattle was driven. However, in some areas, the building of such fences was regulated, with the fences being erected by 1st May and dismantled after harvest at the end of September. According to tradition, after that time, “fields were free”, that is, it was allowed to let animals walk or graze there with impunity.

Fields that lay fallow (because of the three-year crop rotation) could also be used as pasturage. If so, then the fallow fields would be fenced in to prevent the livestock from moving into the tilled fields and ruining the crop. The fenced field in the middle of the painting could be one of those.

Simple cattle fence. Image from Eysn: “Hag und Zaun im Herzogthum Salzburg”

Such temporary fences were usually rather simple affairs, consisting of horizontal poles of wood propped up by stakes (the exact form would differ regionally). Wooden nails or wicker would be used to hold the construction together. There were only gates for animals; to allow pedestrians to access the fields, a “Stiegl” (stile) was used, e.g. in the form of a bench to step on and over the fence.

Gate with Stiegl. Image from Eysn: “Hag und Zaun im Herzogthum Salzburg”

For my gaming table, I made both kinds of fences. The picket fence was 3-D printed, using a file I found on Thingiverse. The cattle fence was built out of wooden rods.


Sources

Blau, Josef: “Zäune im Böhmerwalde,” Zeitschrift für österreichische Volkskunde 7 (1901), pp. 1-8.

Eysn, M.: “Hag und Zaun im Herzogthum Salzburg,” Zeitschrift für österreichische Volkskunde 4 (1898), pp. 273-283.

Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverein (ed.): Das Bauernhaus in Österreich-Ungarn und in seinen Grenzgebieten. Wien: Verl. d. Österr. Ingenieur- u. Architekten-Vereines 1906.