|Battle of La Rothière|
|Part of the War of the Sixth Coalition|
Württemberg dragoons charging French infantry
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|6,000–7,000 dead or wounded|| 4,600 dead or wounded|
The Battle of La Rothière was fought on the 1st of February 1814 between the French Empire and allied army of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and German States previously allies with France. The French were led by Emperor Napoleon and the coalition army was under the command of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. The battle took place in severe weather conditions (wet snowstorm). The French were defeated but managed to hold until they could retreat under cover of darkness.
The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.
Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising nine federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly nine million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is landlocked and highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.
Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital first in Königsberg and then, in 1701, in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.
On the 25 January 1814, Blücher entered Nancy, and, moving rapidly up the valley of the Moselle, was in communication with the Austrian advanced guard near La Rothière on the afternoon of the 28 January.
On 29 January Napoleon attacked the Prussians. Blücher's headquarters were surprised and he himself nearly captured by a sudden rush of French troops (Battle of Brienne). Learning at the same time that the French Emperor in person was at hand, Blücher accordingly fell back a few miles next morning to a strong position covering the exits from the Bar-sur-Aube defile.
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.
Bar-sur-Aube is a French commune and a sub-prefecture in the Aube department in the Grand Est region of France.
In geography, a defile is a narrow pass or gorge between mountains or hills. It has its origins as a military description of a pass through which troops can march only in a narrow column or with a narrow front. On emerging from a defile into open country, soldiers are said to "debouch".
The Austrian advance guard joined the Prussians and together they decided to accept battle—indeed they had no alternative, as the roads in rear were so choked with traffic that retreat was out of the question.
The French army counted about 45,000 men in 57 battalions and 62 squadrons, supported by 128 artillery pieces. The Imperial Guard was commanded by General of Division Philibert Jean-Baptiste Curial. Marshal Claude Perrin Victor led the II Corps with three infantry divisions under Generals of Division François Antoine Teste, Jean Corbineau, and Georges Mouton. General of Division Emmanuel Grouchy led the cavalry.
Philibert-Jean-Baptiste François Joseph, comte Curial was a general in the French Imperial Army during the Napoleonic Wars.
The II Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars.
Jean-Baptiste Juvénal Corbineau was a French cavalry general of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. His two brothers Claude and Hercule also fought in both these wars and together the three men were known as "les trois Horaces".
On the Coalition side, Prince Scherbatov led the Russian 6th Corps, General-Leutnant Zakhar Dmitrievich Olsufiev directed the Russian 9th Corps, Count Liewen III commanded the Russian 11th Corps, Feldzeugmeister Ignaz Gyulai led the Austrian 3rd Corps, Crown Prince Frederick William of Württemberg directed the 4th Corps, General der Kavallerie Karl Philipp von Wrede commanded the Austro-Bavarian 5th Corps, and there were several independent cavalry divisions.
Zakhar Dmitrievich Olsufiev was a Russian infantry Lieutenant General during the reigns of tsars Paul I and Alexander I.
William I was King of Württemberg from 30 October 1816 until his death.
KarlPhilipp Josef, Prince von Wrede was a Bavarian field marshal. He was an ally of Napoleonic France until he negotiated the Treaty of Ried with Austria in 1813. Thereafter Bavaria joined the coalition.
The multinational coalition forces used white shoulder bands to distinguish friends from foes during the battle.[ citation needed ]
About noon the 2 February Napoleon attacked, but the weather was terrible, and the ground so heavy that his favourite artillery, the mainstay of his whole system of warfare, was useless and in the drifts of snow which at intervals swept across the field, the columns lost their direction and many were severely handled by the Cossacks. At nightfall the fighting ceased and the French retired to Lesmont, leaving Marmont behind to observe Coalition movements.
Historian Digby Smith stated that French losses numbered 4,600 killed and wounded. The Coalition captured an additional 1,000 soldiers and 73 guns. The large loss of artillery was partly due to Coalition cavalry superiority and partly due to the soggy condition of the ground, which made it difficult to withdraw the pieces. The Coalition lost between 6,000 and 7,000 casualties.
From Lesmont, the French moved to Troyes. Owing to the state of the roads, more perhaps to the extraordinary lethargy which always characterized Schwarzenberg's headquarters, no pursuit was attempted.
The result of this battle filled the allies with joy. They had captured 50 guns and 2,000 prisoners, and 4,000 dead or wounded Frenchmen littered the plain, but it was not these trophies or these hecatombs which raised their spirits to such a height: they themselves had had 6,000 men mown down by the grape shot; but they had overthrown Napoleon in fair fight on the soil of France; the charm which had been broken at Leipzig had not been restored, and it was again proved that the Emperor was not invincible. In face of the enormous forces which they had available, the Emperor was as good as beaten unless he were invincible.
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 Champaubert was the opening engagement of the Six Days' Campaign. It was fought between a French army led by Napoleon and a small Russian corps commanded by Lieutenant General Count Zakhar Dmitrievich Olsufiev. After putting up a good fight, the Russian formation was effectively destroyed; the survivors escaped into the woods while Olsufiev became a French prisoner. Champaubert is located in France, 46 kilometres (29 mi) west of Châlons-en-Champagne and 69 kilometres (43 mi) east of Meaux.
The Battle of Craonne was a battle between an Imperial French army under Emperor Napoleon I opposing a combined army of Imperial Russians and Prussians led by Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. The War of the Sixth Coalition engagement began when the bulk of Napoleon's army tried to drive Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov's 22,000 Russians off the Chemin des Dames plateau to the west of Craonne. After a bitter struggle, Napoleon's attacks compelled Vorontsov's force to withdraw, but French casualties exceeded Russian losses. While the battle raged, Blücher's attempt to turn Napoleon's east flank ended in failure due to poor planning.
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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 1814 campaign in north-east France was Napoleon's final campaign of the War of the Sixth Coalition. Following their victory at Leipzig (1813), Russian, Austrian and other German armies of the Sixth Coalition invaded France. Despite the disproportionate forces in favour of the Coalition, Napoleon managed to inflict many defeats, especially during the Six Days Campaign. However, the Coalition kept advancing towards Paris, which capitulated in late March 1814. As a result, Napoleon was deposed and exiled to Elba and the victorious powers started to redraw the map of Europe during the First Treaty of Paris and during the early stages of the Congress of Vienna.
Count Paul Grenier joined the French royal army and rapidly rose to general officer rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division in the 1796-1797 campaign in southern Germany. During the 1800 campaign in the Electorate of Bavaria he was a wing commander. Beginning in 1809, in the Napoleonic Wars, Emperor Napoleon I entrusted him with corps commands in the Italian theater. A skilled tactician, he was one of the veteran generals who made the Napoleonic armies such a formidable foe to the other European powers. After the Bourbon Restoration he retired from the army and later went into politics. Grenier is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.
Maximilian, Count von Merveldt, among the most famous of an illustrious old Westphalian family, entered Austrian military service, rose to the rank of General of Cavalry, served as Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor's ambassador to Russia, and became special envoy extraordinaire to the Court of St. James's. He fought with distinction in the wars between the Habsburg and the Ottoman empires, the French Revolutionary Wars, and the Napoleonic Wars.
Dominique Louis Antoine Klein served in the French military during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars as a general of cavalry.
Claude-Étienne Guyot, count of the Empire, (1768–1837) was a French general of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars, noted for commanding cavalry.
The III Cavalry Corps was a French military formation that fought during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was created in 1812 and reconstituted in 1813 and 1815. Emperor Napoleon first mobilized the corps for the French invasion of Russia. Commanded by General of Division Emmanuel Grouchy, two divisions of the corps fought at Borodino, Tarutino, and Vyazma. A third division fought at First and Second Polotsk and the Berezina. During the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1813, General of Division Jean-Toussaint Arrighi de Casanova led the corps at Grossbeeren, Dennewitz, Leipzig, and Hanau. During the Hundred Days in 1815, Napoleon reorganized the corps and appointed General of Division François Étienne de Kellermann to lead it. One brigade of the corps was engaged at Quatre Bras and both divisions fought at Waterloo.
The V Cavalry Corps was a French military formation that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was created in 1813 and fought until 1814. Emperor Napoleon first organized the corps during the summer armistice in 1813 and it fought at Dresden and Leipzig. Samuel-François Lhéritier led the corps at first but was replaced by Pierre Claude Pajol. After Pajol was wounded at Leipzig, Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud commanded the corps at Hanau in 1813, and at Brienne, La Rothière, Mormant, Fère-Champenoise, and Paris in 1814.
The VI Cavalry Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military formation that had an ephemeral existence during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was created on 9 February 1814 and François Étienne de Kellermann was appointed as its commander. The corps was formed by combining a newly arrived dragoon division from the Spanish front, a second dragoon division and a light cavalry division made up of hussars and chasseurs à cheval. The latter two divisions included units from the former III Cavalry Corps. Kellermann led the VI Cavalry Corps in actions at Mormant, Troyes, Second Bar-sur-Aube, Laubressel and Saint-Dizier. After Emperor Napoleon abdicated in early April 1814, the corps ceased to exist.
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.
The Battle of Gué-à-Tresmes was fought between 14,500 French troops led by Marshals Auguste de Marmont and Édouard Mortier and 12,000 Prussians commanded by Friedrich Graf Kleist von Nollendorf and Friedrich von Katzler. On 28 February the French attacked and drove the Prussians to the north along the west bank of the Ourcq River. That evening and the next day Kleist tried to push the French back while Russian units under Peter Mikhailovich Kaptzevich tried to cross from the east to the west bank of the Ourcq; the Allies were unsuccessful. Gué-à-Tresmes is located where Route D405 crosses the Thérouanne stream about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) northeast of Meaux.
The First Battle of Bar-sur-Aube was fought during the War of the Sixth Coalition when Marshal Édouard Mortier, duc de Trévise's corps of French Imperial Guards defended against an Austrians corps under Ignaz Gyulai and a Württemberger corps led by Crown Prince Frederick William of Württemberg. After holding his main defensive positions in stiff fighting, Mortier withdrew his elite troops during the night and retreated to Troyes. Bar-sur-Aube is located 53 kilometres (33 mi) east of Troyes.
Henri Rottembourg became a French division commander late in the Napoleonic Wars. He enlisted in an infantry regiment of the French Royal Army in 1784 and was promoted to first lieutenant by 1792. During the War of the First Coalition from 1793 to 1797 he fought mostly in the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse. He was wounded at Verona in 1799 and fought on the Var and at the Mincio in 1800. He transferred to the Imperial Guard in 1806 before fighting at Jena and being named to command an infantry regiment. In 1809 he was wounded at Wagram.
The Six Days' Campaign saw four victories by the Imperial French army led by Napoleon over the Army of Silesia commanded by Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. Between 10 and 15 February 1814, the French inflicted losses of at least 14,034 men and 52 guns on the Army of Silesia. A second estimate listed 16,000 casualties and 60 guns. A third estimate reached as high as 20,000 casualties, but a calculation by historian George Nafziger suggested that Blücher may have lost 28,500 soldiers.