The Ninth Bloodiest: The Battle of Galicia
The Battle of Galicia involved Austro-Hungarian forces, with Russian forces on the opposing side, from August 23, 1914 to September 11, 1914. This battle occurred less than a month after the beginning of World War I, and planning for the Battle of Galicia began in the first days of the war. Austria-Hungary declared war on July 28, and Germany followed on August 1; the two countries had not specified the terms of their alliance. Germany intended to direct the majority of its efforts toward the conquest of France, leaving only one army division of eight available to engage with Russia.
Germany requested Austro-Hungarian aid to defeat the Russians in East Prussia and Poland. Austria-Hungary redirected troops intended for Serbia to deal with the Russians in August of 1914. Austria-Hungary was prepared to engage from a base in Galicia on August 20. Austro-Hungarian forces were under the command of Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf. He directed his troops from Galicia into Russia.
The early battles of Krasnik and Komarov were successes for Austria-Hungary; however, they were less successful at the Battle of Gnila Lipa. While the Russians had experienced an early defeat at Krasnik and Komarov, Gnila Lipa changed the overall pathway of the Battle of Galicia. Two Russian armies were already present at Gnila Lipa, and were joined by other army divisions.
The Austro-Hungarians armies retreated across the entire front, leaving Galicia to the Russians. In total, Austria-Hungary had more than 100,000 dead, another 220,000 wounded, and some 100,000 captured. Supplies, rail cars, and a valuable fortress were lost to the Russians. The Russians also experienced significant losses, with around 250,000 wounded or dead and 40,000 captured. Proportionally, however, the losses were much more severe for the Austro-Hungarian military. The Russians were much more able to transport troops and supplies, and to rebuild following their losses.