While researching the history of the Taaffe family (see also this question) I realized that a lot of the information about it in the wikipedia comes from a 1833 English noble almanach. Among other interesting facts this book also says that the 6th Viscout Taaffe, an Austrian general

achieved great renown during the war with the Turks, in 1738, and achieved the victory of Belgrade with high honour.

Since I could not readily recall a Battle of Belgrade, 1738, I consulted wikipedia and this is what I found:

In July 1737, Austria entered the war against Ottoman Empire, but was defeated a number of times, among others in the Battle of Banja Luka on August 4, 1737, Battle of Grocka at 18, 21–22 July 1739, and then lost Belgrade after an Ottoman siege from July 18 to September 1739.

Something is fishy here, isn't it? Are we witnessing a 1833 spin on the events of 1738 or was there an Austrian success at Belgrade that got left out of the wiki entry on the Austro-Russian–Turkish War (1735–39)?

UPDT: Yannis's link to the DBN does clear up things:

He was given the command of a brigade in the main army under Wallis, and distinguished himself in the operations round Belgrade.

Looks like the 1833 book did over-enthuse for no good reason. I'll guess I'll stop here and forego a proper Quellenforschung at this stage.

  • 2
    Hmmm. I'm with you on this one. I can't seem to dig up any Austrian victory whatsoever in that 2-year war. Perhaps it was some minor action that he got over-compensated for so the Haspburgs could save a bit of face over their poor performance.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 21:49
  • This might be helpful: en.wikisource.org/wiki/Taaffe,_Nicholas_(DNB00)
    – yannis
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


According to your link, Nicholas Taafe was not promoted to Major General until 1739, a year after the battle of Belgrade.

Basically, he was not a senior enough officer in 1738 to have won the battle by himself. What MAY have happened was that he displayed exceptional bravery/skill that won him the 1739 promotion despite the Austrians' having lost the battle.

Irish soldiers made good "senior officers," (up to the level of Colonel or Major General) in foreign armies. But the really high commands went to members of the nobility.

  • Well, that's possible and I haven't thought of this option. But the language does seem to point to a victory and to a significant role he played in it - or perhaps I am missing some nuances of 1830s style here? Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 20:55
  • I'll give you the "significant role," but not the victory. Genealogies sometimes exaggerated. They were better with the accomplishments of individuals, than of whole countries. In World War II, there was an officer who invented "Jock's columns," that inflicted "heavy loss" on(but never really got the better of) Rommel.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 21:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.