near Sadowa, and Frederick Karl planned to attack the next  morning. Moltke ordered the Crown Prince Frederick to join  forces with the other two armies at the point where the  Austrians were assembled, but the telegraph lines to the  Second Army’s positions were out, necessitating the dispatch  of two mounted officers at midnight to ride the twenty miles’  distance in time. They arrived at 4 a.m. The Crown Prince’s  Chief of Staff, Leonhard von Blumenthal, an able logistician,  immediately reorganised Second Army’s route plan. The Battle The Austrian army of 240,000 faced the Prussian Army of the  Elbe (39,000) and First Army (85,000) on 3 July. The Austrian  infantry was partially fortified and supported by cavalry in the  rear and artillery units with firing range across hilly, wooded  terrain. The battle began at dawn in subsiding rain and mist as  Prussia took its position west of the Bystřice River. Shortly  before 8 a.m., the Austrian artillery opened fire, pinning down  the Prussian right flank under Herwarth von Bittenfeld. The  Saxons on the Austrian left fell back in good order, and  proceeded to rain down fire on the advancing Prussian right  from higher ground. Herwarth von Bittenfeld hesitated to  order a full attack, and instead the advance guard of seven  battalions, under Brig. General von Schöler pulled back to the  river around 10:00 and took a defensive stance. The Prussian centre, with the Prussian 7th Division under  General Eduard Friedrich Karl von Fransecky, having secured  the Prussian rear earlier, led the advance into Swiep Forest,  where it was met by two Austrian corps. The 7th Division had  to both clear out the forest, and cover the Prussian left until  the Second Army, under the crown prince, arrived. The  
Prussians methodically cleared the villages of Austrian  defenders. King Wilhelm I of Prussia ordered the First Army  across the river to support Fransecky. Sadowa was captured, but a fierce battle ensued in a nearby forest. The Austrian artillery  held off the Prussians by firing into the smoke of the Prussian  advance. The Prussians were slowed, and although the river was easy to wade, transporting artillery across it was extremely  difficult. The Prussian attack was halted as the advancing  Prussian 8th and 4th Divisions were cut down by the Austrian  artillery as soon as they emerged from the smoke. However, the  Austrian leader, Benedek, refused to call for a cavalry charge  which later commentators have argued might have won the  battle. Reserve units were deployed at noon, but the outcome of the battle was still uncertain and Prussian commanders  anxiously waited for the crown prince.  Needle Guns To this point the Austrian superiority in numbers and position  had held the day. Their weapons had longer range, which meant that the outnumbered Prussians could neither advance against  the artillery barrage, nor effectively engage the Austrian  infantry. The Prussians had attempted to bring three armies  together for the battle, but problems with sending orders by  telegraph and moving men by railroad had meant that only two  of the three armies had arrived in time. The Prussian centre, in  the cover of the forest, was able to hold its position, and  discourage a mounted charge by the Austrians, who were  thought to have superior cavalry. However the close contact of  the fight in the forest began to negate these advantages, the  Austrians could not train their artillery on the close fighting; the damp weather made a cavalry charge risky, and Austrian IV  Corps was committed piecemeal to the fighting. At this point  
Above. Battle at Königgrätz, Prince Friedrich Karl orders his enthusiastic troops into battle. Reproduction of a painting, artist unknown. United States public domain. Wikimedia Commons.