Battle of Lübeck

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Battle of Lübeck
Part of the War of the Fourth Coalition
Schlacht um Lubeck 1806 - Burgfeld.jpg
Battle of Lübeck, showing the north side of the city walls with the Burgtor in the background
Date6 November 1806
Location Lübeck, Germany
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg French Empire Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Prussia
Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France.svg Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte
Flag of France.svg Joachim Murat
Flag of France.svg Nicolas Soult
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Gebhard Blücher
Flag of Sweden.svg Carl Carlsson Mörner
Strength
Flag of France.svg 35,000, 90 guns Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg 17,000, 52 guns
Flag of Sweden.svg 1,800
Casualties and losses
Lübeck: 1,500
Schwartau: Light
Ratekau: None
Lübeck: 6,000-8,000
Schwartau: 1,500
Ratekau: 7,810

The Battle of Lübeck took place on 6 November 1806 in Lübeck, Germany between soldiers of the Kingdom of Prussia led by Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who were retreating from defeat at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt, and troops of the First French Empire under Marshals Murat, Bernadotte, and Soult, who were pursuing them. In this War of the Fourth Coalition action, the French inflicted a severe defeat on the Prussians, driving them from the neutral city. Lübeck is an old Baltic Sea port approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) northeast of Hamburg.

Lübeck Place in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Lübeck is a city in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. On the river Trave, it was the leading city of the Hanseatic League, and because of its extensive Brick Gothic architecture, it is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In 2015, it had a population of 218,523.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Kingdom of Prussia Former German state (1701–1918)

The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.

Contents

After their shattering defeat in October by Napoleon at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt, the Prussian armies withdrew to the east bank of the Elbe River and marched northeast in an attempt to reach the Oder River. Aiming to annihilate his opponents' forces, Napoleon launched his Grande Armée in a headlong pursuit. A large portion of the fleeing Prussians took refuge in the fortress of Magdeburg where they were surrounded. Another large segment was intercepted and destroyed in the Battle of Prenzlau. This event triggered a series of capitulations of Prussian troops and fortresses.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

The Grande Armée was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.

Magdeburg Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Magdeburg is the capital city and the second largest city of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on the Elbe River.

Blocked from reaching the Oder, Blücher turned and raced to the west, chased by Murat, Bernadotte, and Soult. After a number of well-fought rear guard actions, Blücher's troops forced their way into the neutral city of Lübeck where they took up defensive positions. Bernadotte's soldiers broke through the city's northern defenses and overwhelmed the troops facing Murat and Soult. Blücher barely escaped from the city, though most of his staff was captured and Prussian casualties were enormous. The French brutally sacked Lübeck during and after the fighting. The next day, the French trapped the surviving Prussians against the Danish frontier and compelled Blücher to surrender.

The French captured a small Swedish force during the battle. Bernadotte's respectful treatment of its officers and soldiers led to that Scandinavian nation offering its crown to the French marshal, almost four years after this battle.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.4 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

Background

Jena-Auerstedt to Prenzlau

On 14 October 1806, Napoleon crushed the Prussian field armies in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. In the chaos after the debacle, the shattered remains of the armies coalesced into several major elements. General of Infantry Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen took command of one column that retreated through the Harz Mountains. General-Leutnant Blücher and General of Infantry Friedrich Adolf, Count von Kalckreuth, followed in Hohenlohe's wake [1] with a 12,000-man column. [2] These forces were trailed by 12,000 troops under General Karl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and General-Leutnant Christian Ludwig von Winning. The last-named corps missed Jena-Auerstedt. Meanwhile, the Prince of Orange surrendered at least 10,000 Prussians to Marshal Murat's Cavalry Corps in the Capitulation of Erfurt on 16 October. [3]

General of the Infantry (Germany) military rank of a General officer in the German infantry

General of the Infantry is a former rank of German Ground forces. Present it is an appointment or position to an OF-6 rank officer, responsible for particular affairs of training and equipment of the Bundeswehr infantry.

Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen German general

Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen was a Prussian general.

Friedrich Adolf, Count von Kalckreuth German general

Friedrich Adolf Graf von Kalckreuth was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall.

Gebhard von Blucher Blucher (nach Gebauer).jpg
Gebhard von Blücher

The 16,000 fresh troops of the Reserve commanded by Eugene Frederick Henry, Duke of Württemberg had remained at Halle since the 13th. [4] On 17 October, the 20,600 men of Marshal Bernadotte's I Corps [5] mauled Württemberg's force in the Battle of Halle. [6] The Reserve retreated to Magdeburg where it joined Hohenlohe on 20 October. Marshal Soult with the IV Corps and Murat reached the outskirts of the city that day and demanded Hohenlohe's surrender, which he refused. [7] On the 22nd, Soult and Marshal Michel Ney's VI Corps invested the fortress on the west bank of the Elbe. After leaving 9,000 additional troops to man the fortress, Hohenlohe marched to the northeast via Burg bei Magdeburg. He was soon joined by Kalckreuth who crossed the Elbe to the north at Tangermünde. [8]

Halle (Saale) Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Halle (Saale) is a city in the southern part of the German state Saxony-Anhalt.

Battle of Halle battle

In the Battle of Halle on 17 October 1806 a French corps led by Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte fought the Prussian Reserve under Eugene Frederick Henry, Duke of Württemberg. The French defeated their opponents, forcing the Prussians to retreat northeast toward Dessau after suffering heavy losses. The clash occurred in the War of the Fourth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. The city of Halle is located about 30 kilometers northwest of Leipzig on the Saale River.

Michel Ney French soldier and military commander

Marshal of the Empire Michel Ney, 1st Duke of Elchingen, 1st Prince of the Moskva, popularly known as Marshal Ney, was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon. He was known as Le Rougeaud by his men and nicknamed le Brave des Braves by Napoleon.

Havel River and nearby canal network HavelRhin.gif
Havel River and nearby canal network

Blücher moved northeast from Nordhausen, through the Harz Mountains, past Braunschweig, and boated across the Elbe at Sandau on 24 October. Saxe-Weimar marched from Bad Langensalza to Mühlhausen, and on to Osterode. After feinting at Magdeburg to trick Soult, he successfully reached the Elbe at Sandau. Oberst Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg conducted a skillful action at Altenzaun on the afternoon and evening of the 26th. The Prussian rear guard held off Soult's advance guard until Saxe-Weimar's troops safely reached the east bank, then Yorck also slipped away. At this time, Winning took over command of the column from Saxe-Weimar. [9]

Nordhausen Place in Thuringia, Germany

Nordhausen is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It is the capital of the Nordhausen district and the urban centre of northern Thuringia and the southern Harz region; its population is 42,000. Nordhausen is located approximately 60 km north of Erfurt, 80 km west of Halle, 85 km south of Braunschweig and 60 km east of Göttingen.

Braunschweig Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Braunschweig, also called Brunswick in English, is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker River which connects it to the North Sea via the Aller and Weser Rivers. In 2016, it had a population of 250,704.

Sandau Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Sandau is a town in the district of Stendal, in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on the right bank of the Elbe, approx. 5 km south of Havelberg. It is part of the Verbandsgemeinde Elbe-Havel-Land.

Hohenlohe reached Neustadt an der Dosse on the evening of 24 October. After he crossed the Elbe, Blücher accepted command of Hohenlohe's rear guard. There was a network of canals, along with the Havel River, that ran east and west roughly between the Elbe and Oder. Hohenlohe's planned to send General-Major Christian Ludwig Schimmelpfennig von der Oye with a flying column to protect his right flank by destroying all the bridges along this stretch of water. [10]

By nightfall on 25 October, Hohenlohe's main body was between Neuruppin and Lindow, a little farther east. General-Major von Schwerin's cavalry and Oberst von Hagen's infantry brigade marched toward Wittstock. General-Major Rudolf Ernst Christoph von Bila reached Kyritz, north of Neustadt, with a cavalry-infantry brigade. Blücher's rear guard was near Neustadt after a clash with Bernadotte's leading troops. In an ominous development, French cavalry seized Oranienburg before Schimmelpfennig arrived there. [11]

On 26 October, Murat routed Schimmelpfennig's column at Zehdenick, sending the Prussians fleeing to Stettin [12] after losing more than 250 cavalry from their 1,300-man force. [13] The next day, in confused fighting at Boitzenburg, Hohenlohe overcame a French road block and pressed on to the east after losing a cavalry regiment. [14] On 28 October, Murat attacked the Prussians in the Battle of Prenzlau. One of General of Division Emmanuel Grouchy's dragoon brigades hewed a path through Hohenlohe's column. General of Division Marc Antoine de Beaumont and his 3rd Dragoon Division pounced on the now-isolated rear guard under Oberst Prince Augustus of Prussia and forced it to surrender. Murat then succeeded in bluffing Hohenlohe into capitulating, even though the Prussian was neither surrounded nor outnumbered. Not including 2,000 previous losses, [15] about 10,000 soldiers, 64 guns, and 1,800 cavalry horses fell into the hands of the French. [16]

Prenzlau to Lübeck

Prenzlau-Lubeck Campaign Map, showing routes of Hohenlohe and Blucher Prenzlau-Lubeck 1806 Campaign Map.JPG
Prenzlau-Lübeck Campaign Map, showing routes of Hohenlohe and Blücher

The next day, 4,000 Prussians surrendered to two French light cavalry brigades in the Capitulation of Pasewalk. That night General of Brigade Antoine Lasalle and his light cavalry accepted the Capitulation of Stettin after bluffing the fortress commander into surrendering with over 5,000 troops. [17] In the wake of these humiliating defeats, a number of smaller Prussian columns were mopped up. On 30 October, Major von Höpfner surrendered an artillery convoy with 600 soldiers, 25 guns, 48 wagons, and 800 horses at Boldekow south of Anklam. Bila, his older brother General-Major Karl Anton Ernst von Bila, and their 2,173 troops laid down their arms at Anklam to General of Division Nicolas Léonard Beker's dragoons on 1 November. That day also saw the fortress of Küstrin capitulate to one of Marshal Louis Davout's III Corps brigades. [18]

Leaving Ney to carry out the Siege of Magdeburg, Soult crossed the Elbe at Tangermünde and headed northeast. He reached Wusterhausen near Neustadt on 30 October, with his cavalry probing toward Wittstock. Farther to the east, Bernadotte captured a Prussian supply convoy and 20 field pieces on the 26th and reached Boitzenburg on the evening of 29 October. The next morning, finding that Blücher had veered northwest, he marched toward Neustrelitz. [19] Leading one of Bernadotte's cavalry regiments, Colonel Étienne Maurice Gérard captured 400 troops belonging to Blücher and reported that the Prussian was making for Waren. [20]

Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte Marechal-Bernadotte.jpg
Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte

On 31 October, the columns of Blücher and Winning met near Waren. Winning wanted to escape to the port of Rostock to the north, and had already sent General-Major Karl Georg Friedrich von Wobeser ahead to organize the evacuation. However, Blücher overruled him and proceeded with his own strategy, which was to recross the Elbe at Boizenburg. From there, he planned to either join with General Karl Ludwig von Lecoq in the former Electorate of Hanover or Lieutenant General Franz Kasimir von Kleist at Magdeburg. Blücher reorganized his small army into two corps. Winning led the 11,000-strong I Corps, while Blücher commanded the 10,000-man II Corps. Each corps was subdivided into two heavy and one light divisions. [21]

At this time, there were 47,252 Frenchmen hunting for Blücher. Bernadotte's I Corps numbered 15,450, Soult's IV Corps counted 24,375, General of Division Louis Michel Antoine Sahuc led 2,550 dragoons, Grouchy had 2,432 dragoons, Lasalle counted 785 light cavalry, and General of Division Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul led 1,660 cuirassiers. Bernadotte pressed ahead with 12,000 of his most fit troops, leaving the rest behind. Murat and his cavalry were rapidly moving west from their victories at Prenzlau and Stettin. [21]

Ludwig Yorck Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg.jpg
Ludwig Yorck

On the morning of 1 November, the Prussians evacuated Waren. Blücher moved to the northwest covered by a rear guard under General-Major Friedrich Gottlieb von Oswald. Winning marched due west covered by Oberst August Wilhelm von Pletz's rear guard. That morning the Prussians brawled near Waren with both Soult's and Bernadotte's light cavalry brigades plus General of Division Anne Jean Marie René Savary's 1st Hussar and 7th Chasseurs à Cheval Regiments before falling back to the west. Under Yorck's tactical direction the three fusilier battalions, six Jäger companies, and 20 squadrons of hussars gave a good account of themselves in the battle of Waren-Nossentin. Though Bernadotte committed General of Division Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon's division to the capture of Nossentin village, Yorck and Pletz drew off in good order to Alt Schwerin that night. [22]

On the morning of 2 November, Sahuc's 4th Dragoon Division set out from Rathenow and Murat left Demmin (west of Anklam) sweeping west with Lasalle, Grouchy, and d'Hautpoul. Bernadotte was at Nossentin and Soult at Waren. [23] That day near Granzin, Drouet's division caught up with the 500 men of the 2nd battalion of the Tschammer Infantry Regiment Nr. 27, inflicting a loss of one cannon and 57 casualties, including Major Puttkammer captured. Away to the northeast on 2 and 3 November, the port of Wolgast surrendered to the 22nd Dragoon Regiment of General of Brigade André Joseph Boussart's brigade. Hohenlohe's baggage train with 2,500 mostly non-combatants thus fell into the hands of Grouchy's division. [24]

Joachim Murat Murat2.jpg
Joachim Murat

Oswald's rear guard made a stand at Crivitz on 3 November in an action called a Prussian victory. The Prussian led the Fusilier battalions Greiffenberg Nr. 4, Knorr Nr. 12, and Oswald Nr. 16, the Grenadier battalions Schmeling and Vieregg, and one horse artillery battery. His cavalry units were the Hertzberg Dragoon Regiment Nr. 9, five squadrons, and the Rudorff Hussar Regiment Nr. 2, five squadrons. [24]

The French foot soldiers were from Bernadotte's 2nd Division under General of Division Olivier Macoux Rivaud de la Raffinière. Generals of Brigade Michel Marie Pacthod and Nicolas Joseph Maison led the 8th Light and the 45th and 54th Line Infantry Regiments. These were supported by the 2nd and 4th Hussar and 5th Chasseur à Cheval Regiments under General of Brigade Jacques Louis François Delaistre de Tilly, plus one horse and one foot artillery batteries. All told, there were 6,500 Frenchmen and 12 guns. [24]

Nicolas Soult Nicolas Soult.jpg
Nicolas Soult

Maison drove Oswald's troops out of Crivitz after a tough fight. At first, the Prussians fell back to high ground behind the village, then continued their retreat. General of Brigade Pierre Watier galloped forward from the village with the light cavalry. Watier summoned the Prussians to surrender, but their response was a charge by dragoons. The French horsemen unwisely opened fire with their carbines and were swept away by Oswald's counterattack. Gérard was captured and Bernadotte had to take shelter inside of an infantry square. The dragoons were finally halted by Pacthod's infantry. Later that evening, the French were able to seize the village of Meuss near Schwerin. [25] During the action, the French cut off and wiped out the 1st battalion of the Arnim Infantry Regiment Nr. 13 at Pinnow. [24]

By 4 November Sahuc and Murat nearly caught up with Soult and Bernadotte. After receiving a false report that Soult was between him and Boizenburg, Blücher decided to fall back from Schwerin to Gadebusch, site of a battle in 1712. [26] On the 4th, Oberst Christian Friedrich von der Osten with a dragoon regiment, a fusilier battalion, and one company of jägers joined Blücher from Lecoq's corps at Hameln. Wobeser also rejoined with his column. On the 5th, Savary's two regiments caught up with another stray Prussian force under General-Major Friedrich Leopold Karl Bernhard von Usedom at the port of Wismar. The Frenchman claimed that he captured 700 cavalry, while the Prussians admitted surrendering 367 troopers. [27] The Prussians belonged to the Usedom Hussar Regiment Nr. 10 and part of Blücher's wagon train under Major Panwitz. [28]

By this time, Blücher's force was reduced to around 16,000 to 17,000 soldiers. Though he possessed 100 artillery pieces and the Gadebusch position was strong, the Prussian declined battle because his troops were hungry and worn out by constant marching. He determined to fall back to the Hanseatic City-state of Lübeck, where he hoped to join a force of Swedes that he knew were in the area. [29] The Prussian army appeared before neutral Lübeck on the morning of 5 November. At midday, they forced their way through the southern gate and occupied the city. Addressing the city senate in the Rathaus, Blücher demanded large amounts of food, drink, fodder, and currency for his army, but promised not to fight in the city. [30]

Meanwhile, a brigade of 1,800 Swedes had entered Lübeck on 31 October, hoping to secure some transport vessels to carry them home. When they finally boarded ship on the 4th, they found themselves trapped in the Trave River by contrary winds. [31] Aiming to capture the Swedes, Bernadotte sent one battalion to the mouth of the Trave and another detachment under Maison to Schlutup, which is on the Trave downstream from the city. Also on the 5th, Soult attacked one of Blücher's rear guards under General-Major Karl Gerhard von Pelet at Roggendorf, driving it away to the south of Lübeck. Soult pressed on and captured 300 Prussians at Ratzeburg. He and Murat were poised to advance on Lübeck from the south. [32] A Danish force commanded by Lieutenant General Johann Ewald marched toward Stockelsdorf. Ewald notified Blücher that he was prepared to defend his nation's neutrality by force. [33]

Battle

Map showing Lubeck's fortications in 1806 Petre Battle of Lubeck Map.JPG
Map showing Lübeck's fortications in 1806

Most of Blücher's army spent the night in Lübeck. To protect his south flank, the Prussian general posted a dragoon regiment and half of a horse artillery battery at Moisling. General-Major Balthasar Wilhelm Christoph von (Jung-)Larisch with the 2nd Division of II Corps guarded the Trave north of the city. Blücher's rearguard under Oswald remained outside the northern gate, while a regiment of hussars stayed outside the southern gate. [33]

Lübeck was once heavily fortified, but by 1806, its defenses were partially dismantled. Nevertheless, the wet ditches in front of its old walls presented a serious obstacle to an attacker. East of the Trave, there were three gates into the city. The northern gate, known as the Burgtor, overlooked a narrow strip of land between the Trave and Wakenitz Rivers. The southern gate was called the Mühlentor (Mills Gate) and the eastern gate was named the Hüxtertor. On the west bank of the Trave, there was only one gate, the Holstentor. The Wakenitz protected much of the eastern side of the town. [34]

Duke of Brunswick Herzog Friedrich Wilhelm von Braunschweig-Oels, der Schwarze Herzog.jpg
Duke of Brunswick

At the Burgtor, Blücher packed eight guns into a semicircular fortification in front of the gate and added two more cannons near the gate. He placed four more guns on the Bellevue bastion on the west bank in order to take any attackers under a crossfire. In addition to Oswald's rear guard, other infantry were available to defend the position. Blücher put the Burgtor sector under the command of General-Major Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. He defended the Mühlentor with four or five battalions plus a 6-pounder battery. The Hoxtertor was held by an infantry regiment, two horse artillery guns, and four regimental pieces. Other troops remained in reserve under General-Major Hans Christoph von Natzmer, so that a total of 17 battalions and 52 guns defended Lübeck. When a delegation of city fathers reminded Blücher of his promise not to do battle in the city, the Prussian brushed them off, vowing that he would fight. [35]

Natzmer's 1st Division included the Infantry Regiments Tschammer Nr. 27, Kauffberg Nr. 51, Natzmer Nr. 54, and Manstein Nr. 55, two battalions each, the Hertzberg Dragoon Regiment Nr. 9, five squadrons, one foot artillery battery, and half of a horse artillery battery. Larisch's 2nd Division contained the Infantry Regiments Kalckreuth Nr. 4, Owstein Nr. 7, and Jung-Larisch Nr. 53, two battalions each, the 2nd battalion of the Brunswick Infantry Regiment Nr. 21, the Heyking Dragoon Regiment Nr. 10, five squadrons, and a horse artillery battery. Oswald's command comprised ten squadrons of the Blücher Hussar Regiment Nr. 8, the Schmeling and Vieregg Grenadier battalions, elements of several fusilier battalions, and half of a horse artillery battery. [28]

Map of the Battle of Lubeck on 6-7 November 1806, showing nearby towns Battle of Lubeck 1806.JPG
Map of the Battle of Lübeck on 6–7 November 1806, showing nearby towns

After beginning its march at 2:00 AM, Bernadotte's corps bumped into an enemy column at Selmsdorf, east of Lübeck. The French quickly enveloped the Prussian force, a convoy marching from Wismar, and secured the surrender of 1,000 troops and 300 wagons. Meanwhile, General of Brigade Marie François Rouyer intercepted some Swedish transports near Schlutup. After a brief cannonade, 600 Swedes surrendered. [36]

Bernadotte's I Corps included Pierre Dupont de l'Etang's 1st Division, Rivaud's 2nd Division, Drouet's 3rd Division, Tilly's light cavalry, [28] and General of Division Jean Baptiste Eblé's artillery reserve. Dupont had three battalions of the 9th Light Infantry and two battalions each of the 32nd and 96th Line Infantry Regiments. [37] Rivaud's division and Tilly's brigade were the same as at the action of Crivitz (see above). Drouet's division contained the 27th Light Infantry and the 94th and 95th Line Infantry Regiments, a total of seven battalions. The artillery train included three foot and four horse artillery batteries. [28]

Soult's IV Corps comprised three infantry divisions. General of Division Louis Vincent Le Blond de Saint-Hilaire's eight-battalion 1st Division included the 10th Light, 35th, 45th, and 55th Line Infantry Regiments. General of Division Jean François Leval's 10-battalion 2nd Division was made up of the 24th Light, 4th, 28th, 46th, and 57th Line Infantry Regiments. General of Division Claude Juste Alexandre Legrand's nine-battalion 3rd Division was composed of the 26th Light, 18th and 75th Line Infantry Regiments, and the Tirailleurs Corses and Tirailleurs du Po. Supporting units were General of Brigade Pierre Margaron's light cavalry brigade, consisting of the 8th Hussar Regiment, the 11th, 16th, and 22nd Chasseurs à Cheval Regiments, and eight foot and two horse artillery batteries. [28]

At 6:00 AM, Murat with Soult's cavalry and Lasalle's brigade fell upon the Pletz Hussar Regiment Nr. 3 on the southern approaches, capturing 200 troopers and chasing them inside Lübeck. The guns defending the Mühlentor repulsed the pursuing French cavalry. Soult's corps and Sahuc's dragoons arrived and their artillery began pounding the Prussians at the southern gate. [36]

Battle of Lubeck, showing fighting in the Market square with St. Mary's Church in the background Schlacht um Lubeck 1806 - Markt.jpg
Battle of Lübeck, showing fighting in the Market square with St. Mary's Church in the background

Soon after, Bernadotte's advance guard pushed Oswald's rear guard back toward the northern gate. Drouet's tirailleurs soon secured the Galgenburg, a hill east of the Burgtor, and cannons were massed on the height. Bernadotte deployed the division of Drouet on the left and Rivaud on the right, with Dupont supporting the right. General of Brigade François Werlé led the 27th Light Infantry Regiment of Drouet in the center against the St. Gertrude Church. At first, the French were stopped, but the commander of the Prussian battery was wounded and this lowered its effectiveness. A second effort carried the churchyard, but then Werlé's men were enfiladed by the Bellevue battery, which inflicted heavy losses. Drouet's 94th Line Infantry Regiment then rushed forward on the left. Meanwhile, Brunswick decided to supervise the battle from the Bellevue bastion, so he crossed to the Trave's west bank. [38]

Undetected in the battle smoke, the 94th Line overran a small redoubt. Then the regiment stormed the semicircular position, seizing the entire battery. At about 1:00 PM, the Prussian defenders fled through the Burgtor, followed by the victorious French. Bernadotte directed Drouet to the right to take the bridge over the Trave, while sending Rivaud to the left to take the Mühlentor's defenders in reverse. Other French troops boated across the Trave and forced the Bellevue battery to withdraw. [39]

Gerhard von Scharnhorst Gerhard von Scharnhorst.jpg
Gerhard von Scharnhorst

Believing his northern defenses secure, Blücher retired to his headquarters at the Golden Angel Inn near the Mühlentor. He was surprised there by Rivaud's skirmishers and barely escaped with his son and Karl Freiherr von Müffling, though his chief of staff, Gerhard von Scharnhorst and the rest of his staff became prisoners. Meanwhile, the French pushed through the market-place and the Königstrasse amid vicious street fighting in which Yorck was wounded and many other Prussians were killed or wounded. At the head of a troop of cuirassiers, Blücher tried without success to rescue his staff. Then the group cut their way to the bridge over the Trave and safety. [40]

Soult sent Leval to take the Hoxtertor, Legrand to attack the Mühlentor, while holding Saint-Hilaire in reserve. The Prussians defending the Mühlentor were taken in rear by Rivaud's division, though they fought back furiously. Hit by fire from all directions, the defenders sustained heavy losses, including 300 in one regiment alone. Finally, 2,000 Prussians surrendered and Murat's horsemen surged through the gate and into the streets. The next victims were the Hoxtertor's defenders, the Owstein Regiment. Engulfed by cavalry and infantry, the regiment formed square but was soon forced to surrender after suffering heavy losses. By 3:30 PM, the French firmly controlled Lübeck, though sporadic fighting continued. [41]

Hearing the racket as the French stamped out resistance at the eastern and southern gates, Blücher tried to organize another attack. He sent the Kuhnheim Regiment Nr. 1 to attack the Holstentor, but Drouet's troops already occupied the bridge and the western defenses. The French repulsed the Prussians with heavy losses and forced them back to Bad Schwartau. Numbers of French troops emerged from the city in pursuit. [42]

Results

Prussian King of Bavaria Dragoons Nr. 1 in 1806 Knotel II, 16.jpg
Prussian King of Bavaria Dragoons Nr. 1 in 1806

The French marshals estimated Prussian losses in Lübeck as 3,000 killed and wounded, plus 5,000 to 6,000 captured. [43] Historian Digby Smith gave the Prussian losses at Lübeck as 2,000 killed and wounded, plus a further 4,000 captured out of 15,000 troops. The Infantry Regiments Owstein, Tschammer, and Natzmer were wiped out and 22 guns lost. The French employed between 30,000 [28] and 35,000 men in the battle. [44] In addition to 2,000 Prussians killed and wounded and 4,000 captured, French historian Alain Pigeard also noted that the Prussians and Swedes lost 24 flags, two standards and at least 50 artillery pieces. According to the same source, overall French losses amounted to 1,500 killed and wounded, including the IV Corps artillery chief, Colonel Pierre-Elisabeth Peytes de Montcabrié, who died on 8 November, following the wounds he had received two days earlier. [45]

However, the French were not finished for the day. At Paddeluge, Soult's cavalry captured four infantry companies and two guns under Captain Witzleben. Grouchy's dragoons trotted through the city to capture Major Friedrich Albrecht Gotthilf von Ende's force before ending the day at Vorwerk. [42] At Krempelsdorf, Ende surrendered 360 men and four guns, including five squadrons of the Köhler Hussar Regiment Nr. 7, one squadron of the King of Bavaria Dragoon Regiment Nr. 1, and a half horse battery. The Bailliodz Cuirassier Regiment Nr. 5 laid down its weapons at Steckenitz. [46] At Schwartau that evening, Oberst Löben surrendered to Bernadotte with 1,500 troops. These included the Bila Fusilier battalion Nr. 2, the Kuhnheim, Jung-Larisch, and Manstein Infantry Regiments, plus the Osten Dragoon Regiment Nr. 12. [47]

Having stormed the city, the French troops thoroughly plundered Lübeck amid crimes of "pillage, rape, and murder". Bernadotte and other superior officers tried to restrain their men, but the French soldiers ran completely amok. That the troops were guilty of atrocities was admitted by contemporary writers such as Antoine-Henri Jomini and Guillaume Mathieu, comte Dumas. Historian Francis Loraine Petre noted that Blücher's decision to fight a pitched battle in a neutral city made him at least partly culpable for the sack of Lübeck. [48]

At daybreak, Blücher stood at Ratekau, north-northeast of Lübeck, with the remnant of his army. The Prussian general commanded only 4,050 infantry and 3,760 cavalry out of a force that numbered 21,000 on 1 November. In his immediate front were three French marshals with as many as 35,000 soldiers. To his left was the Trave, to his rear was the Baltic Sea, and to his right was the Danish frontier, defended by Ewald's force. Since resistance was obviously hopeless, Blücher requested terms and was told he must surrender his soldiers as prisoners of war. He dispatched a document that announced his surrender to Bernadotte and complained that he was out of food and ammunition. Murat refused to accept it, pointing out that the Prussians must capitulate to all three marshals and that stating his reason for surrendering was irregular. [49] Blücher thereupon surrendered to Bernadotte, Soult, and Murat, though he was allowed to append a statement at the end of the document. He wrote,

"I capitulate, since I have neither bread nor ammunition - BLUCHER." [44]

Pigeard stated that Blücher surrendered with a total of 8,000 to 9,000 men, with 80 artillery pieces, which constituted all that was left of his army corps. [45] The Prussian foot units that lost flags (in parentheses) were the Infantry Regiments Kuhnheim Nr. 1 (4), Kalckreuth Nr. 4 (4), Alt-Larisch Nr. 26 (2), Borcke Nr. 30 (4), and Kauffberg Nr. 51 (4). The cavalry regiments losing standards were the Beeren Cuirassiers Nr. 2 (5), Katte Dragoons Nr. 4 (2), Königin Dragoons Nr. 5 (1), Hertzberg Dragoons Nr. 9 (5), Heyking Dragoons Nr. 10 (5), and Wobeser Dragoons Nr. 14 (1). [50]

On 8 November, the Prussian detachment at Travemünde surrendered to Rivaud. Drouet was sent to the Lower Elbe to hunt down Pelet's force, which was included in the capitulation. [51] When Drouet caught up with him, Pelet surrendered with 420 men and half of a horse artillery battery at Boizenburg on the 12th. Four squadrons of the King of Bavaria Dragoons and one squadron of the Köhler Hussars laid down their arms. [52]

Bernadotte first came to the notice of the Swedish authorities with his courteous treatment of captured General Carl Carlsson Mörner and his officers. Jean Baptiste Antoine Marcellin de Marbot wrote in his memoirs that Bernadotte, "was especially desirous to earn the character of a well-bred man in the eyes of these strangers." [53] In 1810 he was elected Crown Prince of Sweden by the Riksdag of the Estates and in 1818 ascended the throne as King Charles XIV John of Sweden. [54]

Notes

  1. Petre, p 200
  2. Petre, p 198
  3. Petre, pp 194-195
  4. Petre, p 202
  5. Petre, p 74
  6. Smith, pp 226-227
  7. Petre, p 218
  8. Petre, pp 225-226
  9. Petre, pp 231-233
  10. Petre, pp 236-237
  11. Petre, p 238
  12. Petre, pp 238-239
  13. Smith, p 227
  14. Petre, pp 241-242
  15. Petre, pp 243-249
  16. Smith, p 228
  17. Chandler Campaigns, p 501
  18. Smith, p 229
  19. Petre, pp 256-257
  20. Petre, p 258
  21. 1 2 Petre, p 258-259
  22. Petre, pp 260-263
  23. Petre, p 264
  24. 1 2 3 4 Smith, p 230
  25. Petre, p 266
  26. Petre, 267
  27. Petre, p 268
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Smith, p 231
  29. Petre, p 269
  30. Petre, p 271
  31. Petre, pp 270-271
  32. Petre, p 270
  33. 1 2 Petre, p 272
  34. Petre, pp 272-273
  35. Petre, 273-274
  36. 1 2 Petre, p 275
  37. Smith, p 226
  38. Petre, p 276
  39. Petre, p 277
  40. Petre, pp 278-279
  41. Petre, pp 280-281
  42. 1 2 Petre, pp 281-282
  43. Petre, p 285
  44. 1 2 Petre, p 286
  45. 1 2 Pigeard, p. 495.
  46. Smith, p 231. Smith credits Tilly's brigade with Ende's capture, while Petre credits Grouchy.
  47. Smith, pp 231-232.
  48. Petre, pp 282-285
  49. Petre, pp 285-286
  50. Smith, p 232
  51. Petre, p 287
  52. Smith, pp 232-233
  53. Chandler Campaigns, p 502
  54. Chandler Dictionary, p 53

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References

The following are excellent sources for the full names of French and Prussian officers.