|Battle of Schleiz|
|Part of the War of the Fourth Coalition|
Schleiz from an 1810 painting
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
1 gun lost
The Battle of Schleiz took place on October 9, 1806 in Schleiz, Germany between a Prussian-Saxon division under Bogislav Friedrich Emanuel von Tauentzien and a part of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte's I Corps under the command of Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon. It was the first clash of the War of the Fourth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. As Emperor Napoleon I of France's Grande Armée advanced north through the Frankenwald (Franconian Forest) it struck the left wing of the armies belonging to the Kingdom of Prussia and the Electorate of Saxony, which were deployed on a long front. Schleiz is located 30 kilometers north of Hof and 145 kilometers southwest of Dresden at the intersection of Routes 2 and 94.
Schleiz is a town in the district of Saale-Orla-Kreis in Thuringia, Germany. The former municipality Crispendorf was merged into Schleiz in January 2019.
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.
Bogislav Friedrich Emanuel Graf Tauentzien von Wittenberg was a Prussian general of the Napoleonic Wars.
At the beginning of the battle, elements of Drouet's division clashed with Tauentzien's outposts. When Tauentzien became aware of the strength of the advancing French forces, he began a tactical withdrawal of his division. Joachim Murat assumed command of the troops and began an aggressive pursuit. A battalion-sized Prussian force to the west was cut off and suffered heavy losses. The Prussians and Saxons retreated north, reaching Auma that evening.
Joachim-Napoléon Murat was a Marshal of France and Admiral of France under the reign of Napoleon. He was also the 1st Prince Murat, Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808, and King of Naples from 1808 to 1815. Murat received his titles in part by being Napoleon's brother-in-law through marriage to his younger sister, Caroline Bonaparte, as well as personal merit. He was noted as a daring, brave, and charismatic cavalry officer as well as a flamboyant dresser, for which he was known as "the Dandy King".
Auma is a town and a former municipality in the district of Greiz, in Thuringia, Germany. Since 1 December 2011, it is part of the municipality Auma-Weidatal. It is situated 24 km southwest of Gera.
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Presently, Napoleon became aware of the Prussian preparations for war. He called up 50,000 conscripts of the class of 1806 on 5 September and put the French forces in Germany on alert. When he received intelligence that the Prussians absorbed the Saxon army into their forces, he rapidly massed his Grande Armée with the goal of destroying the Prussian army.On 5 October, Napoleon issued an order describing the order of march for the Grande Armée's invasion of the Electorate of Saxony. Marshal Bernadotte's I Corps led the center column, followed by Marshal Louis Davout's III Corps, most of Marshal Murat's Cavalry Reserve, and Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre's Imperial Guard. The right column was formed by Marshal Nicolas Soult's IV Corps in the lead, Marshal Michel Ney's VI Corps, and the Bavarians in the rear. The left column contained Marshal Jean Lannes' V Corps, followed by Marshal Pierre Augereau's VII Corps. Napoleon directed the right column toward Hof, the center column from Kronach to Schleiz, and the left column from Coburg to Saalfeld.
The 59,131-strong right column's IV Corps numbered 30,956 infantry, 1,567 cavalry, and 48 guns, its VI Corps had 18,414 infantry, 1,094 cavalry, and 24 guns, and Lieutenant General Karl Philipp von Wrede's Bavarian division had 6,000 infantry, 1,100 cavalry, and 18 guns. The 38,055-man left column's V Corps counted 19,389 infantry, 1,560 cavalry, and 28 guns and its VII Corps had 15,931 infantry, 1,175 cavalry, and 36 guns. The 75,637-man center column's I Corps numbered 19,014 infantry, 1,580 cavalry, and 34 guns, its III Corps had 28,655 infantry, 1,538 cavalry, and 44 guns, its Imperial Guard had 4,900 infantry, 2,400 cavalry, and 36 guns, its Cavalry Reserve had 17,550 troopers and 30 guns. Not counted in the previous totals were 9,000 gunners, sappers, and others.
The Prussian high command held several councils of war but no strategy could be agreed upon until a 5 October reconnaissance revealed Napoleon's forces were already moving north from Bayreuth toward Saxony. Then it was decided that Hohenlohe would move to Rudolstadt, Brunswick to Erfurt, and Rüchel to Gotha. The right wing would send forces to menace the French communications at Fulda. The Reserve under General Eugene Frederick Henry, Duke of Württemberg was ordered to move from Magdeburg to Halle.
The Thuringian and Franconian Forests stretch northwestward from Bohemia. This area is composed of wooded mountains of about 750 meters altitude. In 1806, there were only a few poor roads through the tract. Napoleon selected his invasion route in the zone where the belt of rough terrain was narrowest, the Franconian Forest to the east.The French army crossed the Saxon border on 8 October, screened in front by light cavalry. Napoleon was not certain where the opposing Prussian-Saxon army was located, so his army was arranged in a battalion carré (battalion square), capable of concentrating against threats coming from any direction.
Murat personally led the light cavalry screen in front of Napoleon's battalion carré. In the east General of Brigade Antoine Lasalle scouted toward Hof, while General of Brigade Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud probed toward Saalfeld to the west. Napoleon directed General of Brigade Pierre Watier to take one regiment from his brigade and push as far forward as possible in front of the I Corps. The objects of the light cavalry's attentions were the location of Prussian and Saxon units and details of the road net. On the 8th, Murat's horsemen seized the bridge at Saalburg-Ebersdorf. A small defending force fell back east to Gefell where it rendezvoused with General-Major Tauentzien as his division retreated north from Hof. That evening, Tauentzien assembled his troops at Schleiz.
About 9,000 Saxons lay at Auma 15 kilometers north-northeast of Schleiz and Oberst Carl Andreas von Boguslawski's Prussian detachment was 18 kilometers north-northwest at Neustadt an der Orla. General-Major Christian Ludwig Schimmelpfennig's detachment of 600 cavalry was 20 kilometers to the northwest at Pößneck.Tauentzien's division counted 6,000 Prussians and 3,000 Saxons. Bernadotte's three infantry divisions were led by Generals of Division Drouet, Pierre Dupont de l'Etang, and Olivier Macoux Rivaud de la Raffinière, and his corps cavalry brigade by General of Brigade Jacques Louis François Delaistre de Tilly. General of Division Jean Baptiste Eblé commanded the corps artillery reserve.
See the Jena-Auerstedt Campaign Order of Battle for the composition and organization of the French, Prussian, and Saxon armies.
On 9 October, the first clash occurred between the troops of Bernadotte and Tauentzien near the Oschitz Wood, a belt of timber which lies south of Schleiz. Bernadotte ordered General of Brigade François Werlé to clear the forest to the right as Drouet's division advanced on Schleiz. In the thick woods, the infantry moved ahead while Watier's regiment followed behind. Werlé's advance guard took possession of the woods but was prevented from continuing on by a Prussian force under General-Major Rudolf Ernst Christoph von Bila.
By 2:00 pm, the French were in strength and Tauenzien decided to abandon Schleiz. The Prussian division fell back to the north covered by Bila's rear guard of one infantry battalion and one and a half cavalry regiments. Drouet attacked Schleiz at 4:00 pm and drove out the last of the Prussians. North of the town, Murat charged the rear guard with the 4th Hussar Regiment, but this attack was repulsed by the Prussian horsemen. Reinforced by the 5th Chasseurs à Cheval Regiment and with infantry support, Murat pressed back Bila's troops to the wood north of Oettersdorf.
Earlier, Tauentzien sent an officer named Hobe with one battalion, one squadron, and two guns to Crispendorf about six kilometers west of Schleiz. Hobe's assignment was to guard the right flank and maintain communications with Schimmelpfennig's cavalry in Pößneck. When Tauenzien began to fall back, Hobe's detachment retreated to the northeast to rejoin his division. At the wood near Pörmitz, a village four kilometers north of Schleiz, the detachment found itself caught between Murat's cavalry and one of Drouet's battalions. Attacked in a marshy forest, Hobe's force was badly mauled and lost one of its cannons. Most of the losses in the battle were from Hobe's luckless detachment.The Prussians and Saxons lost 12 officers and 554 rank and file killed, wounded, captured, and missing, as well as one artillery piece captured. French losses are unknown but probably light.
Tauentzien retreated to Auma where his tired and hungry troops camped at 7:00 pm.Joined to the Saxon troops under General der Kavallerie Hans Gottlob von Zeschwitz, the total number of troops at Auma was 16,400 strong. That evening, Boguslawski's 3,000 men were still at Neustadt and Schimmelpfennig's 600 cavalry remained at Pößneck. Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia's 8,000-man division held Saalfeld to the west. Hohenlohe had 8,000 troops at Orlamünde south of Jena.
The rest of the Prussian army was strung out to the west. Brunswick with the main body lay at Erfurt. Rüchel was positioned farther west near Gotha, while Blücher held Eisenach. General Karl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach led an 11,000-man corps with an advance guard at Schmalkalden and a detachment under General Christian Ludwig von Winning at Vacha. Duke Eugene of Württemberg's Reserve lay far to the north between Magdeburg and Halle.
When Hohenlohe heard about the encounter at Schleiz, he ordered the troops of his left wing to mass between Rudolstadt and Jena before moving east to the support of Tauentzien and the Saxons. However, Brunswick refused to allow the maneuver so Hohenlohe suspended it. In the meantime, Hohenlohe sent a vaguely worded order to Louis Ferdinand, which the prince misinterpreted as an order to defend Saalfeld. The Battle of Saalfeld occurred the next day in front of Lannes' left flank corps.
Historian Francis Loraine Petre notes that Napoleon's Grande Armée had a superior organization, employed better tactics, had more youthful and energetic subordinates, and enjoyed a 20% to 25% numerical superiority over their enemies.The French corps were commanded by marshals capable of managing the details of their organizations. Lacking the corps system, the Prussian commanders were often forced to issue orders that went into great detail. The French army was led by a single commander who alone made the decisions. Against Napoleon, the leaders of the Prussian army, who were mostly older, frequently held councils of war which "never decided anything definite". Though Brunswick was nominally the Prussian commander in chief, his orders had to be confirmed by King Frederick William, while Hohenlohe and Rüchel were almost independent of him. Napoleon's strategy was simple, but the Prussian generals felt compelled to plan for every eventuality, resulting in a much wider deployment of their forces. On the evening of 9 October, between Winning's detachment in the west and Zeschwitz's Saxons in the east, the Prussian-Saxon army covered a 145 kilometer front. Furthermore, the Reserve was hopelessly out of touch at Magdeburg. Meanwhile, Napoleon's powerful batallion carré advanced on a front of only 60 kilometers.
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 twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia. The decisive defeat suffered by the Prussian Army subjugated the Kingdom of Prussia to the French Empire until the Sixth Coalition was formed in 1812.
The Battle of Saalfeld took place on the 10 October 1806, at which a French force of 12,800 men commanded by Marshal Jean Lannes defeated a Prussian-Saxon force of 8,300 men under Prince Louis Ferdinand. The battle took place in Thuringia in what was the Ernestine duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. The battle was the second clash in the Prussian Campaign of the War of the Fourth Coalition.
The Battle of Golymin took place on 26 December 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars at Gołymin, Poland, between around 17,000 Russian soldiers with 28 guns under Prince Golitsyn and 38,000 French soldiers under Marshal Murat. The Russian forces disengaged successfully from the superior French forces. The battle took place on the same day as the Battle of Pułtusk.
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.
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.
Ernst von Rüchel was a Prussian general who led an army corps in a crushing defeat by Napoleon at the Battle of Jena on 14 October 1806. He commanded troops from the Kingdom of Prussia in several battles during the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793 and 1794. Afterward he held various appointments as a diplomat and a military inspector. In 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars he held an important army command but has been criticized for his actions at Jena. Wounded, he managed to escape the French pursuit, but never commanded troops in combat again.
In the Capitulation of Erfurt on 16 October 1806 a large body of troops from the Kingdom of Prussia under Lieutenant General the Prince of Orange surrendered to Marshal Joachim Murat of France, at the city of Erfurt. The Prussian soldiers were demoralized by their shattering defeat at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt on 14 October and unwilling to put up much resistance. The event occurred during the War of the Fourth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Erfurt is located on the Gera River about 40 kilometers west of Jena.
In the Battle of Prenzlau or Capitulation of Prenzlau on 28 October 1806 two divisions of French cavalry and some infantry led by Marshal Joachim Murat intercepted a retreating Prussian corps led by Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen. In this action from the War of the Fourth Coalition, Hohenlohe surrendered his entire force to Murat after some fighting and a parley. Prenzlau is located about 90 kilometers north of Berlin in Brandenburg, Germany at the intersection of routes B109 and B198.
The Capitulation of Pasewalk on 29 October 1806 resulted in the surrender of Oberst (Colonel) von Hagen's 4,200 Prussian soldiers to an inferior force of two French light cavalry brigades led by Generals of Brigade Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud and Antoine Lasalle. The Prussians were completely demoralized after a two-week-long retreat following their decisive defeat at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. Pasewalk is 110 kilometers north of Berlin and about 40 kilometers west of Szczecin (Stettin), Poland.
In the Capitulation of Stettin on 29–30 October 1806, Lieutenant General Friedrich Gisbert Wilhelm von Romberg surrendered the garrison and fortress to a much smaller French light cavalry brigade led by General of Brigade Antoine Lasalle. This event was one of a number of surrenders by demoralized Prussian soldiers to equal or inferior French forces after their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt on 14 October. Stettin, now Szczecin, Poland, is a port city on the Oder River near the Baltic Sea, about 120 kilometres (75 mi) northeast of Berlin.
In the Siege of Hamelin or Siege of Hameln, First French Empire forces captured the fortress of Hamelin from its garrison composed of troops from the Kingdom of Prussia. The siege was begun by the VIII Corps under French Marshal Édouard Adolphe Casimir Joseph Mortier. The marshal initially left General of Division Jean-Baptiste Dumonceau in charge of operations. General of Division Anne Jean Marie René Savary soon arrived to conduct negotiations with the Prussian commander General Karl Ludwig von Lecoq, who was quickly persuaded to surrender. Technically, the operation from the War of the Fourth Coalition was a blockade because a formal siege never took place. Hamelin is located 36 kilometers southwest of Hanover.
The Battle of Waren-Nossentin on 1 November 1806 saw soldiers of the Kingdom of Prussia led by August Wilhelm von Pletz and Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg fight a rear guard action against troops of the First French Empire commanded by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Though forced to give ground, the Prussians successfully kept the French from inflicting serious loss or cutting off any units in this War of the Fourth Coalition action. Waren lies on the northern end of Lake Müritz, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of Rostock. Nossentin is a small village on the Fleesen See about 15 kilometres (9 mi) due west of Waren.
The Jena-Auerstedt Campaign Order of Battle is listed below. The order of battle includes units from the First French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia that fought each other in the campaign that included the decisive Battle of Jena-Auerstedt on 14 October 1806. The order of battle may be useful to trace the battles of Schleiz and Saalfeld, which occurred before Jena-Auerstedt, as well as battles and capitulations that happened after 14 October, such as Erfurt, Halle, Prenzlau, Pasewalk, Stettin, Waren-Nossentin, and Lübeck.
In the Battle of Mohrungen on 25 January 1807, most of a First French Empire corps under the leadership of Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte fought a strong Russian Empire advance guard led by Major General Yevgeni Ivanovich Markov. The French pushed back the main Russian force, but a cavalry raid on the French supply train caused Bernadotte to call off his attacks. After driving off the cavalry, Bernadotte withdrew and the town was occupied by the army of General Levin August, Count von Bennigsen. The fighting took place in and around Morąg in northern Poland, which in 1807 was the East Prussian town of Mohrungen. The action was part of the War of the Fourth Coalition in the Napoleonic Wars.
The Battle of Czarnowo on the night of 23–24 December 1806 saw troops of the First French Empire under the eye of Emperor Napoleon I launch an evening assault crossing of the Wkra River against Lieutenant General Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy's defending Russian Empire forces. The attackers, part of Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout's III Corps, succeeded in crossing the Wkra at its mouth and pressed eastward to the village of Czarnowo. After an all-night struggle, the Russian commander withdrew his troops to the east, ending this War of the Fourth Coalition action. Czarnowo is located on the north bank of the Narew River 33 kilometres (21 mi) north-northwest of Warsaw, Poland.
Jacques Desjardin or Jacques Jardin or Jacques Desjardins; enlisted in the French royal army as a young man and eventually became a sergeant. During the first years of the French Revolutionary Wars he enjoyed very rapid promotion to the rank of general officer in the army of the French First Republic. In May and June 1794 he emerged as co-commander of an army that tried three times to cross the Sambre at Grandreng, Erquelinnes and Gosselies and each time was thrown back by the Coalition. After that, he reverted to a division commander and saw more service in the north of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In the campaign of 1805, he led an infantry division under Marshal Pierre Augereau in Emperor Napoleon's Grande Armée and saw limited fighting. In 1806 he fought at Jena, Czarnowo and Gołymin. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Eylau on 8 February 1807 and died three days later. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 16.
In the Battle of Guttstadt-Deppen on 5 and 6 June 1807, troops of the Russian Empire led by General Levin August, Count von Bennigsen attacked the First French Empire corps of Marshal Michel Ney. The Russians pressed back their opponents in an action that saw Ney fight a brilliant rearguard action with his heavily outnumbered forces. During the 6th, Ney successfully disengaged his troops and pulled back to the west side of the Pasłęka (Passarge) River. The action occurred during the War of the Fourth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Dobre Miasto (Guttstadt) is on Route 51 about 20 kilometers (12 mi) southwest of Lidzbark Warmiński (Heilsberg) and 24 kilometers (15 mi) north of Olsztyn (Allenstein). The fighting occurred along Route 580 which runs southwest from Guttstadt to Kalisty (Deppen) on the Pasłęka.
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.