In the Battle of Lützen (German: Schlacht von Großgörschen, 2 May 1813), Napoleon I of France halted the advances of the Sixth Coalition after the French invasion of Russia and the massive French losses in the campaign. The Russian commander, Prince Peter Wittgenstein, attempting to forestall Napoleon's capture of Leipzig, attacked the isolated French right wing near Lützen, Germany. After a day of heavy fighting, the combined Prussian and Russian force retreated; due to French losses and a shortage of French cavalry, Napoleon was unable to conduct a pursuit.
Following the disaster of French invasion of Russia in 1812, a new Coalition formed against him. In response to this, Napoleon hastily assembled an army of just over 200,000 consisting largely of inexperienced, barely trained recruits and severely short of horses (a consequence of the Russian invasion, where most of his veteran troops and horses had perished). He crossed the Rhine into Germany to link up with remnants of his old Grande Armée, and to quickly defeat this new alliance before it became too strong.
On the 30 April Napoleon crossed the river Saale, advancing on Leipzig in three columns led by an advanced guard. His intention was to work his way into the Coalition's interior lines, dividing their forces and defeating them in detail before they could combine. But due to inexperienced cavalrymen and faulty reconnaissance, he was unaware of 73,000 allied troops under Wittgenstein and Graf (Count) von Blücher concentrating on his right flank to the south. Marshal Ney's corps was caught by surprise and attacked on the road from Lützen to Leipzig. On the eve of the battle, one of Napoleon's marshals, Jean-Baptiste Bessières, was killed by a stray cannonball while reconnoitering near Rippach.
Napoleon was visiting the 1632 battlefield, playing tour guide with his staff by pointing to the sites and describing the events of 1632, in detail from memory, when he heard the sound of cannon. He immediately cut the tour short and rode off towards the direction of the artillery fire. Arriving on the scene, he quickly sized up the situation and decided to set a trap using Ney's corps as bait. He ordered the Marshal to make a fighting withdrawal towards Lützen. Meanwhile, he sent Ney reinforcements which would take up strong, defensive positions in and around two villages south of the city. Once these divisions were ready, the rest of the corps would withdraw towards them, luring the allies to attack, while Napoleon, leading the main 110,000 strong French force, would come around the allied flank and counterattack.
Wittgenstein and Blücher took the bait, continuing to press Ney until they ran into the "hook" Napoleon had prepared. Once their advance had halted, with the perfect timing of old, he struck. While he had been reinforcing Ney, he had also concentrated a great mass of artillery (Grande Batterie) that unleashed a devastating barrage towards Wittgenstein's center. Then Napoleon himself, along with his Imperial Guard, led the massive counter assault into the allied flank. A Prussian counterattack managed to halt the French offensive, and allow enough time for the main army to retreat. In addition, darkness was closing in. This allowed the allied force to retreat in good order. The lack of French cavalry meant there would be no pursuit. Napoleon lost 19,655 men killed and wounded, while the Prussians lost 8,500 men killed and wounded and the Russians lost 3,500 men killed, wounded and missing.But casualties aside, by nightfall Wittgenstein and Blücher were in retreat while Napoleon controlled Lützen and the field.
Napoleon demonstrated his usual prowess in driving back the Russo-Prussian force at Lützen, but the costliness of his victory had a major impact on the war. Lützen was followed by the Battle of Bautzen eighteen days later, where Napoleon was again victorious but with the loss of another 22,000 men, twice as many as the Russo-Prussian army.The ferocity of these two battles prompted Napoleon to accept a temporary armistice on the 4 June with Tsar Alexander and King Frederick William III. This agreement provided the allies the respite to organise and re-equip their armies and, perhaps more importantly, encouraged Britain to provide Russia and Prussia with war subsidies totalling seven million pounds. The financial security offered by this agreement was a major boon to the war effort against Napoleon. Another important result of the battle was that it encouraged Austria to join the allied coalition and, when it did so on upon the armistice's expiration, the balance of power had shifted dramatically in the coalition's favor. Due to these developments, Napoleon later regarded his June 4 truce, bought at Lützen and Bautzen, as the undoing of his power in Germany.
During the battle of Lützen, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, one of the brightest and most able Prussian generals, serving as Wittgenstein's Chief of Staff, was wounded. Although the wound was minor, owing to the hasty retreat it could not be tended to soon enough. Infection set in and he died as a result.
The Battle of Leipzig or Battle of the Nations was fought from 16 to 19 October 1813, at Leipzig, Saxony. The coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden, led by Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg, decisively defeated the French army of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. Napoleon's army also contained Polish and Italian troops, as well as Germans from the Confederation of the Rhine. The battle was the culmination of the German campaign of 1813 and involved 600,000 soldiers, 2,200 artillery pieces, the expenditure of 200,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and 127,000 casualties, making it the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I.
The Battle of Brienne saw an Imperial French army led by Emperor Napoleon attack Prussian and Russian forces commanded by Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. After heavy fighting that went on into the night, the French seized the château, nearly capturing Blücher. However, the French were unable to dislodge the Russians from the town of Brienne-le-Château. Napoleon himself, making his first appearance on a battlefield in 1814, was also nearly captured. Very early the next morning, Blücher's troops quietly abandoned the town and retreated to the south, conceding the field to the French.
In the Battle of Bautzen a combined Russian–Prussian army, that was massively outnumbered, was pushed back by Napoleon I of France but escaped destruction, some sources claiming that Michel Ney failed to block their retreat. The Prussians under Count Gebhard von Blücher and Russians under Prince Peter Wittgenstein, retreating after their defeat at Lützen were attacked by French forces under Napoleon.
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Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Fürst von Wahlstatt, Graf (count), later elevated to Fürst von Wahlstatt, was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall. He earned his greatest recognition after leading his army against Napoleon I at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
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Joseph, comte Souham was a French general who fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was born at Lubersac and died at Versailles. After long service in the French Royal Army, he was elected to lead a volunteer battalion in 1792 during the French Revolution. He was promoted to general of division in September 1793 after playing a prominent role in the defense of Dunkirk. In May 1794 with his commander absent, he took temporary command of the Army of the North and defeated the Coalition army at Tourcoing. He led the covering forces at the Siege of Ypres and participated in the successful invasion of the Dutch Republic. He spent many years in occupation duties in Holland and then his career suffered because of his association with Pichegru and Moreau. Starting in 1809 he was employed in Spain during the Peninsular War, winning the Battle of Vich where he was wounded. In army command again, he forced Wellington's army to retreat at Tordesillas in 1812. The following year he led a division at Lützen and a corps at Leipzig. He remained loyal to the Bourbons during the Hundred Days.
The Battle of the Katzbach on 26 August 1813, was a major battle of the Napoleonic Wars between the forces of the First French Empire under Marshal MacDonald and a Russo-Prussian army of the Sixth Coalition under Prussian Marshal Graf (Count) von Blücher. It occurred during a heavy thunderstorm at the Katzbach river between Wahlstatt and Liegnitz in the Prussian province of Silesia. With the involvement of more than 200,000 troops, it was one of the largest battles of the Napoleonic Wars. Taking place the same day as the Battle of Dresden, it resulted in a Coalition victory.
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The Battle of Möckern was a series of heavy clashes between allied Prusso-Russian troops and Napoleonic French forces south of Möckern. It occurred on 5 April 1813. It ended in a French defeat and formed the successful prelude to the "Liberation War" against Napoleon.
The German Campaign was fought in 1813. Members of the Sixth Coalition, including the German states of Austria and Prussia, plus Russia and Sweden, fought a series of battles in Germany against the French Emperor Napoleon and his Marshals, which ended the domination of the First French Empire.
Étienne Pierre Sylvestre Ricard was a prominent French division commander during the 1814 Campaign in Northeast France. In 1791 he joined an infantry regiment and spent several years in Corsica. Transferred to the Army of Italy in 1799, he became an aide-de-camp to Louis-Gabriel Suchet. He fought at Pozzolo in 1800. He became aide-de-camp to Marshal Nicolas Soult in 1805 and was at Austerlitz and Jena where his actions earned a promotion to general of brigade. From 1808 he functioned as Soult's chief of staff during the Peninsular War, serving at Corunna, Braga, First and Second Porto. During this time he sent a letter to Soult's generals asking them if the marshal should assume royal powers in Northern Portugal. When he found out, Napoleon was furious and he sidelined Ricard for two years.
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