Leipzig - the greatest battle of all
Battle of Leipzig 1813.
"Battle of the Nations"
"Yesterday the monstrous masses battled with one another.
It was a spectacle such as has not been seen for 1.000 of years."
- General von Gneissenau
"... the Colossus [Napoleon] fell like an oak tree in a storm."
- General Blucher

1. Prelude.
2. The Battle.
. . . . 1st Day (south).
. . . . Fighting along the Pleisse River. >
. . . . Allies’ attacks on Wachau. >
. . . . Allies’ attacks on Liebertwolkwitz. >
. . . . Napoleon strikes back. >
. . . . General Drouot "The Monk" and his
. . . . 100 guns on Gallows Hill. >
. . . . Grand charge of Murat's 10,000 cav. >
. . . . Uhlans vs Cuirassiers. >
. . . . The Young Guard in action. >
. . . . Macdonald >
. . . . Allies' reaction to Napoleon's offensive. >
. . . . The Russian and Austrian grenadiers. >
. . . . Heroics of Maison's young soldiers. >
. . . . Fight in the University Wood. >
. . . . Allied cavalry's counterattack. >
. . . . In the night. >
. . . . 1st Day (north).
. . . . Langeron "believed Napoleon himself
. . . . was attacking him". >
. . . . Blucher vs Marmont (Round 1). >
. . . . Blucher vs Marmont (Round 2). >
. . . . Phenomenal cavalry charge gave Blucher
. . . . victory > . . . . The French retreat. >
. . . . 2nd Day
. . . . "I must admit that the Poles
. . . . repeatedly beat off the Russian assaults
. . . . even though heavily outnumbered." >
. . . . "Pashol, pashol !"
. . . . Russian hussars routed Arrighi's cav.
. . . . and came almost up to Leipzig. >
. . . . The arrival of Bennigsen's army. >
. . . . In Napoleon's headquarters. >
. . . . 3rd Day
. . . . Along the Pleisse River: fight for Dolitz. >
. . . . Macdonald and Sebastiani. >
. . . . "The courage and ferocity shown
. . . . by both sides in the battle of
. . . . Probstheida was truly unique..." >
. . . . Blucher vs Ney. >
. . . . The treachery of the Saxons. >
. . . . In the suburbs. >
. . . . Napoleon promoted Poniatowski
. . . . to be a Marshal of France. >
. . . . Night withdrawal. >
. . . . 4th Day: Allies' victory
. . . . The bridges. >
. . . . Allies' assaults on the Halle Gate. >
. . . . Allies' assaults on the Grimma Gate. >
. . . . Death of French marshal. >
3. Aftermath and Casualties

"One should not believe but they [Allies] are really attacking me."
- Napoleon at Leipzig

"The decisive hour has now arrived for France.
This evening we must either win or all die !"
- French General Maison to his young soldiers

"The French [and Polish] resistance [along the Pleisse River]
here had been desperate; their bodies lay thickly in the rubble of the houses
in the roads and among the barricades of the bridge."

The mass of French, Italian, Polish, and Saxon cavalry set off at a trot
across the battlefield and then gradually sped up. The front ranks
boiled forward, hooves drummed up chunks of soil. ...
The leading echelons of French cuirassiers and hussars arrived
at a short distance from where Allied monarchs stood.
Schwarzenberg was anxious about their safety and
asked them to leave. The Tsar refused.

Barclay de Tolly mounted fourth attack on Probstheida.
He directed four infantry divisions and some Prussian troops
against the village. Behind them marched two grenadier divisions
led by Raievski, The Hero of Borodino. It was a furious assault.
Anxious Napoleon directed the powerful Guard artillery forward and then
personally led the Middle Guard against the enemy. The Allies were thrown
out of the village. "Following this heavy handed repulse,
no more Allied assaults were mounted against Probstheida." - S. Bowden

Allies' repeated assaults on the village of Schonefeld were for the French
like being on the receiving end of a jackhammer.
They were attacked by infantry and cavalry and cannonaded by 200 guns.

Approx. 30.000 French, Polish, and Italian troops were stranded
in Leipzig and fought desperately to escape. The dramatic scenes
reminded crossing of the Beresina River in 1812 in Russia.

"The effects of the Allied victory at Leipzig were truly momentous.
It had smashed Napoleon's stranglehold on Europe for good ..."
- Digby-Smith

On Nov 1, the Old Guard was drawn up at Frankfurt
and Napoleon was cheered lustily.
This was the last Vive l'Empereur ! ever heard in Germany.

The Battle of Leipzig Monument.
This collosal monument is Germany's largest.
It has a 91-metre-high observation platform.
During the period of communist rule in East Germany,
the government of the GDR was unsure whether it
should allow the monument to stand.

  • Leipzig was the largest conflict until World War One:
    1. Leipzig (1813) - 400.000-560.000 Combatants
    2. Sedan (1870) - 310.000-33.000
    3. Gravelotte (1870) - 290.000-310.000
    4. Vienna (1683) - 250.000-290.000
    5. Gaugamela (331 BC) - 230.000-270.000
  • Leipzig was the biggest battle of the Napoleonic Wars:
    1. Leipzig (1813) - 400.000-560.000 Combatants
    2. Dresden (1813) - 300.000-350.000
    3. Wagram (1809) - 300.000-320.000
    4. Borodino (1812) - 250.000-260.000
  • Several monarchs participated in this epic conflict:
    - Emperor of France, Napoleon
    - Emperor of Russia, Alexander I (Tzar Aleksandr I Pavlovich)
    - Emperor of Austria, Francis II (Kaiser Franz II)
    - King of Prussia, Frederick William III (König Friedrich Wilhelm III)
    - Crown Prince of Sweden, Jean-Baptiste-Jules Bernadotte
  • Soldiers of more than 20 nationalities were present on the battlefield.
    - 160.000 Frenchmen
    - 150.000 Russians
    - 115.000 Austrians
    - 75.000 Prussians
    - 20.000 Swedes
    - 10.000 Poles
    - 9.000 Italians
    - 6.000 Saxons
    - 5.000 Badens
    - 3.500 Wirtembergians
    - 2.500 Hessians
    - 2.000 Westphalians
    and Finns, Danes, Spaniards, Portugueses, few Greeks, Brits,
    Belgians, Dutch, Kalmuks, Tartars and Bashkirs.
    The battle also includes:
  • - the biggest cavalry charge until War World One
  • - the biggest battery of the Napoleonic Wars.

    Though outnumbered, Napoleon planned to take the offensive.
    He was eager to regain his power over Germany
    and Prussian General Blucher counted every moment
    lost that kept him from battle with the hated French.

    Prelude: Concentration of troops around Leipzig.
    The Emperor's maneuvers against the lines of communications
    had not caused Blucher to call retreat,
    which was in disobedience to the orders
    given him by the timid Bernadotte.

    End of 1812 campaign against Russia 
and the beginning of Campaign 1813.
Source: The Department of History
at the United States Military Academy. After the disaster in 1812 in Russia Napoleon could not believe himself invincible. His enemies were suggesting that since his good genius had failed him once, it might again. The Russian victory was a huge blow to Napoleon's ambitions of European dominance.

    Napoleon concentrated his armies around Leipzig and then moved against Blucher's and Bernadotte's armies. He hoped to defeat them before Schwarzenberg's and Bennigsen's armies would join them. The Emperor forced rapid marches, on empty stomachs, pushing his troops to their limit. The young soldiers were not able to move as fast as Napoleon needed them to march. As a result the enemy was able to avoid a general battle and began rapid withdrawal. During this retreat the Napoleonic forces, caught up with enemy's rear guard, cut some troops of Sacken's corps to pieces and captured large portion of Blucher's baggage trains.

    The Emperor's maneuvers against the lines of communications had not caused Blucher to call retreat, which was in disobedience to the orders given him by the timid Bernadotte.

    When Blucher's army was licking its wounds, Napoleon planned to turn his armies about, march southward and crush the massive army led by Schwarzenberg, before Blucher would join him. Meanwhile Schwarzenberg put a tremendous pressure on the tiny corps led by Poniatowski. Although the Poles received support from the French (Murat's cavalry, Lauriston's corps, and Victor's corps) they were unable to hold their positions at Penig and Borna for long. Meanwhile Blucher ordered his army to move southward against Napoleon's base of operations at Leipzig.

    Baron de Marbot of French light cavalry wrote: "The town of Leipzig is one of the most commercial and richest in Germany. It stands in the middle of a great plain which extends from the Elbe to the Harz mountains, to Thuringia and to Bohemia. Its situation has made it almost always the principal theatre for the wars which have bloodied Germany. The small stream of the Elster, almost insignificant enough to be called a brook, flows from south to north through a shallow valley amid marshy meadows. ... The Pleisse, a still smaller stream than the Elster, flows about a league and a half from it, and joins it under the walls of Leipzig, while north of the town the Partha flows into it. Leipzig ... was surrounded by an old wall having four large and three small gates. The road to Lutzen, by Lindenau, formed the only communication open to the rear of the French army."

    On 15th October, it was Friday, Napoleon set out to inspect the battlefield. The Emperor rode to Probstheida, Galgenberg Hill near Liebertwolkwitz, Holzhausen, and then west to Dolitz to confer with Prince Poniatowski. He then rode back to Holzhausen where he spoke to the commander of the Saxon Leib-Grenadier Battalion. In Zuckelhausen Napoleon found Marshal Augereau. Having completed his tour, the Emperor dictated his orders for the following day's operations to his chief-of-staff Marshal Berthier.

    The view from the church tower showed us
    that the entire area was covered with soldiers.
    The roads as far as we could see were black with troops.

    Columns of French infantry.
Russian movie War and Peace. Troops kept coming from every direction. The roads and meadows were crowded with marching infantry and cavalry, rolling artillery and ammunition wagons. From a distance the troops looked like fields of colorful flowers. The dragoons wore green uniforms, the hussars blue, red, and black, the infantry wore dark blue (French and Prussian), white (Austrians) and green (Russians). The heavy cavalry was clad in white (Allies) and dark blue (French).

    The daughter of the vicar of Seifertshaim writes: "The view from the church tower showed us that the entire area towards Leipzig was covered with soldiers. The roads as far as we could see were black with marching troops, guns, ammunition wagons, pouring in endless streams towards the battlefield. An Austrian officer warned us that we should prepare to flee at all costs. ... The danger seemed to come closer by the minute." A French sergeant-major of Maison's division writes: "When day broke, we could see nothing but the sky and soldiers."

    Authors disagree on the actual strentgh of the French and Allies armies.
    - German historian Quistrop gives Allies 193.920 men and French 187.110 men.
    - French author, Vaudoncourt, gives Allies 349.000 and French 156.800 men.
    - American author, Bowden, gave Allies 361.100 and Napoleon 219.100 men.
    After making our own calculation we agreed on the following numbers:
    - Napoleon had 185.000-195.000 men in the front line. If counted with artillery parks, detached troops, men in hospitals etc. it would be approx. 200.000 men.
    - Allies had army of 350.000 Russians (215 btn. and 234 sq.), Prussians (110 btn. and 122 sq.), Austrians (115 btn. and 127 sq.) and Swedes (24 btn. and 21 sq.)

    Order of battle: French [1] . [2] ~ Allies [1] . [2]

    Napoleon's plans.
    Though outnumbered,
    Napoleon planned to take the offensive.

    French infantry Though outnumbered, Napoleon planned to take the offensive between the Pleisse and the Parthe rivers. The position at Leipzig offered several advantages for a resorceful commander. The rivers that converged there split the surrounding terrain into many separate sectors. Holding Leipzig and its bridges, Napoleon could shift troops from one sector to another far more rapidly than could the Allies. (And, to compound their troubles, he had destroyed most of the nearby bridges over the Elster and Pleisse rivers)

    The northern front was defended by Ney and Marmont, and the eastern front by MacDonald. Artillery reserve and parks, ambulances and baggages stood near Leipzig. The bridges on Pleisse and Elster River were defended by infantry and few guns. The main battery stood in reserve, and during battle will be deployed on the Gallows Height. This battery will be commanded by Drouot himself. The western flank of French positions at Wachau and Liebertwolkwitz was defended by the "intrepid Poniatowski" and Augereau and his French young conscripts.

    Allies' plans.
    "Of the allied sovereigns, the Tsar
    generally succeeded in taking the
    most influential position." - Loraine Petre

    Tsar of Russia, Alexander I A substantial staff supported the allied commanders, but their staff was not a smooth running and efficient organization. It was fraught with incompetence and petty rivalries where factions fought each other. Its work was as much military as it was toadying to the vanities of the monarchs. Many were hardly competing for favor with the Tsar of Russia. The greatest influence on the military planning in 1813 had generals Volkonski (Russian), Toll (Russian), Knesebeck (Prussian) and Scharnhorst (Prussian). The overall command however was at the hands of Karl Phillip Fürst zu Schwarzenberg (Austrian). Below is Allies' command structure at the Battle of Leipzig 16-19th October 1813:

    Monarchs: Tzar of Russia, Kaiser of Austria, King of Prussia
    Commander: Schwarzenberg
  • Army of Bohemia: Schwarzenberg (its first line under Barclay de Tolly)
  • Army of Silesia: Blucher
  • Army of the North: Bernadotte
  • Army of Poland: Bennigsen

    Austrian General Schwarzenberg The Russian monarch admonished Schwarzenberg, who plan he thought poor. Tsar Alexander said: "Well, Marshal, since you insist, you will do what you like with the Austrian army, but as for the Russian troops of Grand Duke Constantine and Barclay de Tolly they will go to the right of the Pleisse River where they ought to be and nowhere else !" During this discussion the King of Prussia avoided expressing an opinion as if the affair didn't concern him.
    The course of events proved Tzar Alexander and not Schwarzenberg was right.
    The action he had ordered Blucher to take met with great success north of Leipzig and the actions of Russian guard was decisive in halting the French all-out attack on Gulden Gossa. On the other hand, the actions of Austrians along Pleisse River, ended in failure.

    Schwarzenberg's original plan called for a secondary attack on the bridge between Leipzig and Lindenau, and a main attack astride the Pleisse River. According to his plan Blucher and Gyulai would attack Lindenau, while Merveldt, Hessen-Homburg and the Prussian Guard would advance between the Pleisse and the Elster, the rest of the troops along the Pleisse's eastern bank.
    Schwarzenberg's plan had the unusual virtue of being so bad that everyone protested. Tsar Alexander, "surprised beyond measure at this unanimity among his generals", intervened, forcing Schwarzenberg to develop a new plan that was largely designed to let everyone do as they pleased. Blucher's axis of advance was shifted northward to the Halle road, the Russian and Prussian guards and the Russian heavy cavalry would be amassed at Rotha in general reserve. The Austrian grenadiers and cuirassiers would advance between the rivers. (Esposito & Elting - "Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic wars."

  • Map: Battle of the Nations 16-19th October 1813
    Deployment of troops.


    ~ 1st Day of the Battle of the Nations ~
    Emperor of France vs Emperors of Russia and Austria

    "We seem to have reached the crisis;
    now all depends on fighting hard."
    - Napoleon, 12th October 1813

    "One should not believe
    but they are really attacking me."
    - Napoleon at Leipzig

    The Battle of Leipzig, 16th October (southern front)
    "The decisive hour has now arrived for France.
    This evening we must either win or all die !"
    - French General Maison to his young soldiers

    Allies monarchs at Leipzig. 
Tsar of Russia in green uniform. The day of Oct 16th was dark and rainy.
    The first shots were exchanged about 8 am near Wachau. It was the signal given by the Allies and immediately afterward the artillery on both sides opened fire.

    The boom of the artillery and the sharp crack of skirmishers' muskets brought the rest of the troops hastily to their feet. Marbot writes: "On the 16th of October at 8 o'clock in the morning, the allied batteries gave the signal for the attack. A lively cannonade was directed at our lines and the allied army marched towards us from every point."

    About 9 am the Young Guard arrived and began deploying behind Liebertwolkwitz. A coach escorted by Guard chasseurs arrived. Napoleon dismounted and joined Murat already standing on a height and surveying the battlefield. The troops greeted him with a yell that must have been heard for miles around. The Emperor bent over his maps in silence while the generals looked on, their hats under their arms. Napoleon could see many Allies columns arriving and deploying in their assigned positions. It was already one hour since the enemy was in motion. Their staff officers galloped fine horses between the various troops.

    Fighting along the Pleisse River.
    "The French [Polish] resistance here had been desperate;
    their bodies lay thickly in the rubble of the houses
    in the roads and among the barricades of the bridge."

    Attack on Mark-kleeberg.
Part of diorama. Four strong Austrian infantry regiments moved against Connewitz and Dolitz on the Pleisse River:
    - 44th Bellegarde Regiment of Lederer's Division
    - 24th Strauch Regiment of Lederer's Division
    - 56th W. Colloredo Regiment of Liechtenstein's Division
    - 20th Kaunitz Regiment of Liechtenstein's Division
    All four units were part of Merveldt's II Corps.

    The Austrians marched to Gautsch and then eastwards on Connewitz and Dolitz. French battery covered the approach to Connewitz and the houses were occupied by skirmishers of Lefol's Division. The Austrians could only advance on a narrow front and their attack was easily repulsed. The terrain was so difficult that they were unable to bring their own artillery. The Austrians therefore looked for alternative crossing point. They pulled back and kept the French only under long range musket fire.

    The Austrians moved against Dolitz. The manor house was defended by a small Polish garrison but the bridges were intact. Two companies of 24th Strauch Regiment threw the defenders out and back over the river. The Poles rallied and counter-attacked, they retook the gatehouse at bayonet point. The Austrians attempted to recover the gatehouse but their Colonel Reisenfels was mortally wounded and they fell back. Digby-Smith writes: "The combat was so hot that the Regiment Strauch was soon out of ammunition, and was replaced by three companies of Regiment Kaunitz 20th ..."

    Austrian General Bubna described the scene: "The French [Polish] resistance here had been desperate; their bodies lay thickly in the rubble of the houses in the roads and among the barricades of the bridge. ... Many, many of our comrades had shed their blood here. The wood was full of our dead and on the bank of the Pleisse there were thick rows of our men who had died in a musket fire at 12 paces."

    At 3 PM the Austrians brought their artillery up to the manor and the mill on the east bank was afire. The Poles had to abandon the burning building. Justice Kurth writes: "The retreating Poles set fire to several farms and houses in the area with bundles of blazing straw."

    Merveldt's captured by the Poles. 
From zinnfiguren.com The commander of the Austrian troops fighting along the Pleisse, Merveldt, was extremely short-sighted and mistook some of the enemy troops over the Pleisse for Prussians. He ordered a bridge to be thrown over the river and rode over it with few ADCs. His horse was soon killed and Merveldt was captured by the Polish grenadiers (of Curial's 2nd Old Guard Division). The Poles and Frenchmen found a copy of the Allied plan in his pocket and delivered it to Napoleon.

    Due to the "accidents of the terrain" the village of Mark-kleeberg was an important point in Napoleon's defenses. Napoleon ordered Poniatowski and Augereau to defend this area. Poniatowski saddled his mount early in the morning and after hearing the crackle of musketry rode south. Kleist's troops marched from Crostewitz to Mark-Kleeberg and along the Pleisse River.

    Map of fight for Markkleeberg One Austrian battalion took possesion of the unoccupied manor house. They also repaired the school bridge and took position in the school. Marshal Augereau ordered one brigade of the 51st Division to retake the school.

    The French advanced with sappers in their lead who used heavy axes to smash through the school's door. The Austrians were thrown out of the building and back over the river.

    The French and some Poles attempted to attack the manor but the gate-house formed an excellent defensive position. The casualties mounted and Poniatowski seeing that there was no serious threat from this quarter withdrew the assaulting troops.

    From the south the first wave of attackers was made of 3 btns. led by Löbel. On their flank marched marched Helfreich's Russian 14th Infantry Division. Allies artillery (60 guns) cannonaded the Polish and French infantry and Löbel's force pushed back French infantry but were halted by ravine and well-directed musket fire of Polish infantry. Helfreich's 14th Division (8 tbns.) arrived. Struck in flank by Russians, the Poles (6 btns.) fell back and Löbel (3 btns.) entered Mark-kleebrg.

    Poniatowski and Napoleon Poniatowski halted his retiring infantry and said words of encouragement. He then deployed 6 battalions into a thick skirmish line. Helfreich also deployed part of his infantry into skirmish chain but his further advance was stalled. The fighting settled down to musket fire and long-range artillery bombardement.

    Because Helfreich became engaged against Poniatowski it created a gap between him and Allies advancing against the village of Wachau. Kleist directed Schwichow with 4 btns. (2 infantry and 2 Landwehr) from the 12th Brigade to close the gap. The French cannonaded the 12th Brigade and Schwichow's detachment and charged them with cavalry. Because the Prussians were caught in open field their casualties mounted with every minute. Levashov (8 sq. of cuirassiers) and Davidov (4 sq. of hussars) made several charges and threw back the French cavalry. Davidov fought with great bravery.

    Poniatowski recaptured Mark-kleeberg before two Prussian btns. counter-attacked and retook it. The French and Poles were driven back but not defeated and General Kleist called urgently for support. His superiors, Wittgenstein and Barclay de Tolly had their troops already assigned to certain tasks and were about to enter their own combat near Wachau and Liebertwolkwitz. So the aid was to come from the Austrians.

    The Austrians were brought in and deployed in front of Mark-kleeberg. The fresh large force had no great difficulties in retaking the village. Though the ranks of Poniatowski's infantry were thinned, their determination was strong. As they passed through the gardens and into an open field, they let forth a savage yell and furiously pressed forward. Allies guns cut bloody swaths through their formation - but the attackers kept on, and retook the village at bayonet point.

    The Austrians responded with directing their grenadiers against the Poles. It was the Grenadier Division led by Feldmarschall-Leutenant Nikolaus von Weissenwolf, the flower of the Austrian infantry. They swiftly moved into the woods by Pleisse River and attacked from the flank and rear forcing the Poles to abandon the village. But here and there some Polish die-hards still kept it fighting, reloading their weapons or swinging their weapons like clubs before being overcome by the more numerous enemy. Poniatowski's Poles and Augereau's Frenchmen were also attacked along the Pleisse River.

    Allies' attacks on Wachau.
    Areas had to be taken street by street
    and building by building.

    Wachau after battle. Russian II Infantry Corps (3rd & 4th Division, total of 5.200 men only) under Eugene passed by Gulden Gossa and continued north against Wachau. Prinz Eugene formed advance guard, 3 btns. led by Reibnitz while the Prussians added their 2 btns. drawn from 9th Brigade. These forces were about to attack Napoleon's center.
    When Eugene arrived in front of Wachau he deployed 48 guns and directed Reibnitz to capture the village. It was a small force but Eugene didn't expect much trouble, the village seemed only lightly garrissoned. Eugene formed his 3rd Division in two lines of battalions. Behind the 3rd stood the 4th Division. To the right and rear of Eugene's infantry marched GL Pahlen's 2.600 hussars, uhlans and Cossacks.

    The Prussians followed the Russians. Their 9th Brigade (5.800 men) under GM von Klüx was in reserve behind Eugene's infantry, and also was formed in two lines of battalions. When the fighting began the Prussians moved to the front and fought side by side with the Russians. The Russian and Prussian artillery opened fire on the French in and around Wachau. Ob. Reibnitz's advance guard (3 Russian in first line and 2 Prussian btns. in the second) was the first to attack.

    The first shots were fired from the flank, from the direction of the Hearth Wood. Reibnitz slightly changed the direction of his advance leading his troops against the wood. The French were in Wachau and once they saw Reibnitz exposing his flank they attacked and mauled the Russians.
    Two Prussian battalions were behind Reibnitz and now they were drawn into the fight. The Prussians blasted their way towards the village's center. But the French were not push-overs. Areas had to be taken street by street and building by building. The Prussians brought von Schwichow's 3-4 btns. to stabilize their gains in Wachau but the French artillery fired into their flank forcing them to a hasty withdrawal. The French infantry pursued them but found themselves under fire from Prussian battery and skirmishers. The French fell back to Wachau.

    The result of first attack on Wachau was such that the French still held the entire village while the Prussians kept the small wood. (Some sources give only one Prussian btn. in the Hearth Wood, while others claim that there were 2 Prussian and 1 weak Russian btn.)

    Allies' attacks on Liebertwolkwitz.
    The Austrians run over the barricades
    and down the streets, with their drummers
    beating a ragged advance.

    Liebertwolkwitz was defended by part of Lauriston's V Army Corps. John Elting writes about Jacques Alexandre Bernard Law, marquis de Lauriston: "born in India of a Scots refugee family, a polished gentleman and the artillery expert among Napoleon's aides-de-camp..." All rank-and-file were young men, lhey were led by seasoned NCOs and officers. Lauriston also had 50 guns served by excellent gunners, and three companies of engineers. The artillery was deployed on both sides of the village.

    Against Lauriston (13.200 men) marched Mesenzov's Russian 5th Division (5.000 men) and Pirch's Prussian 10th Brigade (4.550 men). Graf Klenau's Austrian IV Corps (24.500 men) and Ziethen's Prussian 11th Brigade (5.360 men) moved against Lauriston and Macdonald (18.000 men). Mesenzov left the safety of University Wood and marched on Liebertwolkwitz. The French artillery opened fire and forced him back. Mesenzov then was placed between University Wood and Gulden Gossa. In Gulden Gossa were 3 btns. of 10th Brigade and a Russian battery. The rest of the Prussian brigade stood behind that village.

    Village of Liebertwolkwitz. 
The church is where defending Austrians 
were massacred by the French. Liebertwolkwitz was a big village and dominated the surrounding area. The first to storm Liebertwolkwitz were the Austrians. In the first line was Archduke Charles Regiment (1.805 men), in the second were 4 btns. and in reserve was cavalry. The south-east part of Liebertwolkwitz was defended by Maison's 16th Division (3.700 men).
    Maison detached 1 btn. to defend the cemetery.
    The French levelled their muskets over the garden walls and furniture barricades and fired. Despite hail of bullets the white-coats entered the village, run over the barricades and down the streets, with their drummers beating a ragged advance. By the church stood group of French infantry, they lifted their muskets and fired. The attackers halted. Yet more whitecoats were coming and penetrating the other streets. After a prolonged street fighting the French were pushed out of Liebertwolkwitz.

    The casualties on both sides were heavy, with Austrian GM Mohr and GM Splenyi being wounded. The victors began to dismantle the barricades built by the French. Digby-Smith writes: "Despite stiff resistance, Mohr succeeded in taking most of the village, the Austrians pushing as far as the church in a fierce house-to-house fight amidst the burn-out ruins. This success was short-lived, hovewer. French reinforcements from Charpentier's 36th Division (the 14th Legere) were poured in and the Austrians were ejected. It was eleven o'clock."

    Napoleon strikes back.
    The Emperor ordered to retake the villages
    and break through the enemy's line.

    Map of battlefield, 
south of Leipzig. Napoleon stood on a hill behind Wachau until 3 pm. He discovered that the Allies had seized the initiative. Their disorderly, piecemeal advance offered an ideal target for a counterattack, but Macdonald and Sebastiani had not yet come up. Without them, Napoleon could only fight a defensive-offensive battle, moving Augereau's corps and the Young Guard to back up the weakest parts of his line. The Emperor ordered to recapture the villages, pushed the enemy back and expose to artillery fire. Then break enemy's line by massive cavalry and infantry attack.

    The Allies' commanders watching from a hill southwest of Gulden Gossa, noted how mutually isolated their advancing columns were. Accordingly, they shifted the Russian guards, grenadiers and cuirassiers to Magdeborn and Gulden-Gossa, and urged Schwarzenberg to send the Austrian grenadiers and cuirassiers to support them. Napoleon's formation was as follow:

    Napoleon had also organized a massive battery on the Gallows Hill (almost 100 guns) with the purpose to make a breakthrough in Allies line. If properly handled the artillery eclipsed all other arms for sheer destructive capacity. The positioning of artillery was of the utmost importance. The Gallows Hill was a slightly heightened area, hard and open field. The natural strength of the high ground was augmented by clear fields of fire, and good roads in the rear for the movement of supplies and troops. The artillery fire was a recursor to the main attack against a selected point of the enemies line, in order to batter a breach into which the main infantry and cavalry attack could plunge into.

    General Drouot "The Monk"
    and his 100 guns on Gallows Hill.

    "The death came from the Gallows Hill."

    French General Drouot The overall command over the Grand Battery had Antoine Count Drouot. He was arguably the best (after Napoleon) artillery general in Europe. Not only as a gunner he was to admire. Napoleon wrote: "His morals, his integrity, his lack of affectation, would have brought him honor in the greatest days of the Roman Republic." Drouot was a very religious person and always carried the bible, even in battles. For this he was nicknamed The Monk or The Sage of the Army. Now this man and his 100 cannons will raise hell; kill and wound thousands of men and animals.

    Meanwhile the Russians and Prussians increased their artillery facing the Grand Battery from 24 to 52 guns but it was not enough against 100 French guns. Drouot's artillery dismounted 24 Allies pieces while the remaining guns hastily fell back and onto the road to Gulden-Gossa. Those Russian and Prussian gunners who had no riding place on the cannons or limbers were running down the verges in hasty retreat.
    Once the artillery was gone Eugene's Russian II Infantry Corps (3rd & 4th Division) became the only target for Drouot's gunners. Digby-Smith writes: "The situation of the Russians on Klux's right, in the open fields ... was much worse. Lacking any cover at all, they suffered very heavy losses from artillery fire. Shahovskoi ... reported to Prinz Eugen that his men were being destroyed. The prince rode slowly along the line. At each battalion, his question 'How many men have you lost ?' would be answered with a silent gesture to the lines of dead lying where they had fallen. ... [Prinz Eugen] did nothing to alleviate the situation ... It was Borodino all over again (where Prinz Eugen had commanded the 4th Infantry Division); the Russian commanders had learned nothing and continued to squander their men to absolutely no avail ..." (Digby-Smith, - p 86)

    Prinz Eugen at Leipzig.
Source: George Nafziger A Russian officer was greatly impressed with the insane bravery of the prince, he wrote: "We saw him [Prinz Eugen] ... blind and deaf to the dangers, death and terrors around him, with his slim pale face framed by his dark brown locks riding like an angel of death through the ranks." Then a French cannonball went through the prince's horse and thrown the rider to the ground. (When after battle Prinz Eugen handed his casualty list to Barclay de Tolly, the latter at first refused to believe what he read. Eugen retorted: "If Your Excellency refuses to acknowledge the deeds of those still left alive, then perhaps a look at the dead on the battlefield where we fought will convince you !")

    The 3rd Division have suffered horrible casualties and was finally withdrawn towards Gulden-Gossa. The 4th Division also got under fire and fell back on Crobern. The withdrawal was covered by 6 Russian btns. who - meanwhile - had repulsed attack of French infantry from Wachau. Drouot's battery also forced Mesenzov's Russian 5th Division to fall back.
    These Russians were lurking from the University Wood and were planning to attack Liebertwolkwitz. Pahlen's cavalry and Cossacks also got their share of projectiles and were obliged to withdraw. With the Russians falling back Klux's Prussian 9th Brigade formed the front line. The Prussians stood on the sunken road south of Wachau, in contrast to the Russians who were in the open and took the lion's share of casualties from artillery fire. Prussian 2 btns. were still in the Hearth Wood. But when Victor's infantry attacked, Klux quickly fell back on Gulden-Gossa.

    The fire from the 100 guns was terrific. The fields were covered with smoke. Drouot made a gap in enemy's line; three Russian infantry divisions, two Prussian brigades and Russian cavalry corps were forced into a hasty withdrawal. The situation was ripe for a massive attack, breaking the enemy's line and winning the battle. The cannons were firing on all cylinders until Murat's 10,000 cavalrymen began to advance. Then they fell silent as the advancing masses obscured the line of fire.

    Once the cavalry passed Napoleon ordered Drouot "The Monk" to take part of his Grand Battery and push it forward. Marbot writes: "General Drout with 60 cannons aided the attack." The crews manhandled the pieces back to hook them on to their limbers. The ammunition wagons set off with their wheels digging great gouges into the meadow. The guns rolled forward, with their chains and buckets swinging.

    The grand charge of Murat's 10,000 cavalrymen.
    Murat and his brave cavalry arrived
    at a short distance from where Alies monarchs stood.
    The emperors, kings and princes were in danger.

    Cavalry battle at Leipzig 1813. 
Part of diorama.
Courtesy of Udo Sixel Before the grand cavalry charge began, General Pajol sent his adjutant towards Gulden Gossa "Please have a look at the valley before Gulden Gossa." The adjutant returned, reporting "Not goodd ... these horses are sinking to their breasts." Pajol informed Murat and the two talked for a while. Then Murat galloped away in order to consult with Latour-Maubourg. In this moment a Russian grenade exploded under Pajol's horse, throwing him into the air. His left arm and hips were damaged. "My poor Pajol ! The attack is off to a good start before it even begins !" cried Murat. (Bleibreu - "Die Volkerschlacht bei Leipzig" p 76)

    The moment of charge was so close. The exploding shells frightened the horses. Murat had drawn his saber which he now waved above his head as a signal for the cavalry to advance. The charge was sounded and 10.000 horsemen in 96-110 squadrons slowly passed between Wachau and the artillery on Gallows Height. Napoleon wrote: "The King of Naples (Murat) placed himself at the head of the cuirassiers and marched on the enemy's cavalry to the left of Wachau, while the Polish horse and the dragoons of the Guard charged to the right."

    The mass of French, Italian and Saxon cavalry set off at a trot across the battlefield and then gradually sped up. The front ranks boiled forward, hooves drummed up chunks of soil. According to G.R.Gleig Murat formed all his cavalry "into one line of continuous columns of regiments ... either because he desired to make a great show, or that he held in contempt the weak force which he presumed to face him, he neglected to arrange any reserve." (Gleig - "The Leipsic Campaign" p 217)
    Other sources described Murat's formation as follow: in the front Bordesoulle's 1st Heavy Cavalry Division, behind was Doumerc's 3rd Heavy Cavalry Division, then Corbineau's 2nd Light Cavalry Division, next Chastel's 3rd Light Cavalry Division. Berkheim's 1st Light Cavalry Division was detached and stood behind Oudinot's Young Guard. It is not clear if Pajol's V Cavalry Corps participated in this charge or not. About half of the sources say he did.

    The French, Italians and Saxons rode in serried ranks kicking up dirt clouds in their wakes. Prussian and Russian skirmishers fled the Murat's sabers like mice fleeing a scourge of cats. Only few stopped to fire at their pursuers, but they dared not pause long for fear of the sabers. The Russian and Prussian cannons sprayed them with canister tearing through flesh and ricocheting off their iron breastplates.

    On Murat's path was Eugene's Russian II Infantry Corps. His battalions were only 100-200 men strong and when they formed squares they were so small that there was no place for senior officers and for the wounded inside them. The tiny squares blasted the French with musket volleys so that the horsemen milled about in confusion, men and horses dropping. It is impossible too highly to admire the devotion and the absence of all sense of danger, on the part of the French officers. They pressed on, led by example and one squares was broken. Approx. 60 men were taken prisoner. The thrusting, hacking and slashing of their sabers drove the Russian and Prussian gunners back. While the French cuirassiers broke infantry square, the Saxon cuirassiers captured 24 Russian guns. The French cuirassiers and some hussars arrived at a short distance from where Alies monarchs stood. Schwarzenberg was anxious about the safety of the Tsar of Russia and King of Prussia and asked them to leave.
    The Tsar refused.

    Uhlans vs Cuirassiers.
    "They (Poles) made up for its lack of numbers
    with equestrian skill and aggressive nature."
    - George Nafziger.

    General Sokolnicki During Napoleon's offensive in the center, there were simultaneously fought two cavalry battles on both flanks. On the eastern flank fought Sebastani's II Cavalry Corps with Prussian cuirassiers (with no armor) and Austrian light cavalry. On the western flank, Sokolnicki's (Polish) IV Cavalry Corps faced Austrian Cuirassier Corps led by Nostitz and Russian cuirassier brigade. Officially the IV Cavalry Corps was under the famous cavalry commander Kellermann, but this general was not doing well on that day. Thus the Poles were led by one of their own, Michal Sokolnicki (1760-1816).

    Sokolnicki had only four (Polish) regiments: 1st Chasseurs armed with lances, and 3rd, 6th and 8th Uhlans. The Poles waited impatiently for charge, with their horses trampling the grass and tossing their heads. All four units were led by excellent colonels and senior officers. "They (Poles) made up for its lack of numbers with equestrian skill and aggressive nature." (- George Nafziger)

    Firstly, Sokolnicki directed the 1st Chasseurs against Russian 14th Infantry Division and two Prussian batteries. The chassseurs came down and broke one infantry square in the instant and took 600 prisoners. They attempted to reform but were hit from the rear by entire Russian cuirassier brigade led by GM Levashov. The chasseurs were forced to abandon their prisoners, fired few shots and fled. The Russian heavies pursued them shortly before being attacked by 3rd Uhlans. The uhlans spurred forward and the whole front rank swung their lances' points down into the charge. They strucked the iron-clad cuirassiers "in both flanks" and immediately threw them back. The lances were drawn back and thrust forward into unprotected arms, necks and faces of the cuirassiers. The cuirassiers were saved from destruction by Russian Loubny Hussar Regiment.

    One company of Polish grenadiers was sent in support for the chasseurs. The Russian cuirassiers saw the isolated infantry troop, surrounded and killed to the last man. There was no love lost between the strongly pro-napoleonic Poles and the Russians. The 6th and 8th Uhlans arrived and avenged their comrades by routing the mass of cuirassiers and throwing them back on hussars. Within next one hour Sokolnicki's cavalry will execute seven charges.

    Meanwhile the Austrian Cuirassier Corps led by Nostitz crossed Pleisse River by Gautzsch and advanced toward Auenhain sheep-farm. Napoleon sent the Old Guard dragoons led by Letort to support the Poles. The uhlans and the dragoons executed several spirited charges, with the Poles reaching as far as Crobern !

    Allies' infantry and gunners in and around this village fled in horror, splashing through the river and ran past Crobern. Meanwhile 3rd Uhlans and French battery were attacked by two Austrian cuirassier regiments (Albert & Lothringen). The cuirassiers wore voluminous greatcoats over armor and the Poles mistook them for armorless dragoons. Unpleasantly surprised they fled until the 1st Chasseurs and Old Guard dragoons rescued them. The Poles and French could do nothing when newly arrived regiments (Erzherzog Franz and Kronprinz Ferdinand) attacked them. The enemy had 9 regiments (8 cuirassiers and 1 hussars) against 5 Polish and French (3 uhlans, 1 chasseurs and 1 Old Guard dragoons). Sokolnicki's cavalry retired behind Poniatowski's infantry, and the dragoons behind Wachau.

    Austrian cuirassiers vs 
French lancers.
Part of diorama 
by Udo Sixel. Sommariva Cuirassiers went into action against Berkheim's French lancers (see picture). The lancers broke and fled closely followed by the Austrians. A Saxon officer recalled the event as follow: "When we [Saxon cuirassiers] reached Berckheim, his men were mixed up with the enemy in individual squadrons, so that there were Austrian units to the north of the French lancers. We Saxons had only just come up wwhen Berckheim rallied his men to face the ever-increasing enemy pressure. But they could not stand even though Berckheim - bareheaded, as his hat had been knocked off - threw himself into the thick of the melee. He was also swept back in the flood of fugitives ... Despite this chaos, we stood fast and hacked away at the Austrians. Shortly before they charged us, the Austrians had shouted to us to come over to them; we ignored them. However, we were overpowered and broken. The chase now went on at speed, friend and foe all mixed up together, racing over the plain."

    On the eastern flank Sebastiani's French II Cavalry Corps (2 horse carabinier, 4 cuirassier, 3 lancer, 7 chasseur, and 3 hussar regiments) fought well until Platov's Cossacks arrived. Cossacks' appearance on the flank caused Sebastiani to pull back. Matvei Ivanovich Platov slowly followed the enemy.

    The Young Guard in action.
    "... drive away these guys [Russians and Prussians]
    with a kick in the rear ..."
    - Oudinot to Young Guard

    Young Guard and Napoleon 
at Leipzig Lauriston's V Corps and Victor's II Corps recaptured both villages, Liebertwolkwitz and Wachau. Now the Young Guard strirred by the rhytmic beating of its drums, passed them and moved against Allies' lines. Lauriston and Victor followed them. The Young Guard began their advance with the alacrity of brave men advancing to assured victory. Their snarling officers marched with drawn sabers. They cheered their Emperor as they marched past him. The drummers, tediously beating the rhythm of the march, broke into flurries when they realized He was so close.

    Marshal Nicolas-Charles Oudinot led the I Infantry Corps of the Young Guard. Oudinot was celebrated as the most wounded marshal, a soldier's marshal who led by example from the front rank, like Roman centurion. Oudinot turned to his generals and said: "Take your division Decouz, and that of Pacthod and drive away these guys with a kick in the rear, so that they then will only flee." The big-man Marshal Édouard-Adolphe-Casimir-Joseph Mortier led the II Infantry Corps of the Young Guard.

    Napoleon and his staff watched their advance. Oudinot's troops passed by Wachau and in frontal assault captured Auenhain sheep-farm. Mortier's troops drove into University Wood sweeping all before them. Victor's II Corps advanced "with great impettuosity" with Dubreton's division in its lead. They marched on Gulden Gossa defended by 3 Prussian btns. and Russian battery. The attackers drove the garrison back into the center of the village before a fresh Prussian btn. counter-attacked and recaptured the lost ground. The French brought their artillery and began "a tremendous barrage" against the village and its defenders.

    Marshal Macdonald
    on the extreme eastern flank.

    On the eastern flank Macdonald's XI Army Corps made of Italians, Germans and French initially pushed the Austrians back. But about 4 pm Klenau aggressively counter-attacked and regained some of the lost terrain. The battle here settled down to an artillery duel. Macdonald's four divisions led by generals Ledru, Charpentier, Marchand and Gerard attacked again but without much success.

    Allies' reaction to Napoleon's offensive.
    Schwarzenberg became very troubled.

    'Seeing the developments, Schwarzenberg standing on the heights south of Gulden Gossa became very troubled. The Allies realizing the importance of Gulden-Gossa and Auenhain (sheep-farm) positions sent forward everything they could mass against them. Several Russian elite troops received instructions to advance forward and deploy south of Gulden-Gossa. These were reserve troops of Grand Duke Constantine:

  • Raievski's III 'Grenadiers' Corps
  • Yermolov's V 'Guard' Corps
  • Prince Golitzin's Guard & Cuirassier Corps

    At 4 pm, when the Russian Guards and grenadiers moved against Gulden Gossa, the Austrian reserves marched against Auenhain. These troops were:

  • Grenadier Corps (led by Hessen-Homburg)
  • Cuirassier Corps (led by Nostitz)

    A formidable artillery force, formed of 80 Russian guns, fired in support of the infantry. Schwarzenberg, seconding Merveldt's attack, sent part of Bianchi's division between the Gosel stream and the Pleisse, below Crostewitz. This movement, supported by Kleist, would take Oudinot and Victor in the rear.

    The Russian and Austrian grenadiers.
    Raievski had ordered to counterattack
    - not firing a single shot the Russian grenadiers
    drove the French infantry back with their bayonets.

    Pisarev's Russian 1st Grenadier Division was moved forward and deployed south of Auenhain sheep-farm. On each flank of the division was posted a single cuirassier regiment. The cuirassiers were Levashov's brigade. Pisarev's grenadiers formed themselves in one line of battalion-squares and waited. With the grenadiers and cuirassiers was General Raievski, the Hero of Borodino.

    French cuirassier Jolting up and down in the saddles, French cuirassiers of Latour-Maubourg's Cavalry Corps arrived, some in compact formations while others in large groups. They attacked with fury and dispersed the Russian cuirassiers. The grenadiers however held their ground, they delivered a volley at close range and number of horses hit by the musketballs stumbled and fell. Unhorsed Frenchmen stood up and angrily shook their swords in impotent fury at those indomitable human walls. Only the bravest dared to penetrate between the squares. The French guns unlimbered and fired canister at the grenadiers who stood "like a boulder in the middle of the indignant mass." (Mikhailovski-Danilevskii "Denkwurdigkeiten aus dem Feldzuge vom Jahre 1813"pp 239-240)

    General Raievski A French musketball shattered Raievski's shoulder. He removed it from his body and showed to his officers reciting a verse: "I don't have anything more of the blood, that was given me. This blood exhausted itself, spilled for the motherland." It was his second wound, he had his head already bandaged after being wounded some time earlier. Victor's young infantrymen attacked Raievski's grenadiers but without success.

    In response Raievski had ordered to counterattack - not firing a single shot these solemn warriors drove the French back with their bayonets. Victor's troops rapidly fell back towards Wachau and Auenhain sheep-farm. When the grenadiers attepted to capture the sheep-farm Dubreton's 4th Division repulsed them with musket fire (all the walls were loopholed.)

    the famous Hungarian grenadiers.  
Picture by Dmitrii Zgonnik of Ukraine. Before 4 pm the Austrian Grenadiers and Hungarian Division crossed the Pleisse River by Gauschwitz and Duben and marched to Crobern.

    The Grenadier Division formed in battalion-masses moved towards Auenhain sheep-farm and replaced Raievski's troops who returned to the reserves south of Gulden-Gossa. One Austrian infantry btn. of Simbschen Regiment captured the sheep-farm.

    Maarshal Victor counter-attacked and retook it. The French strongly occupied the farm and surroundings with infantry and artillery. The French and Polish cavalry stood in the intervals between the infantry columns.

    The Austrian grenadiers stormed the sheep-farm but Victor's infantry and artillery drove them back. The grenadiers withdrew and reformed, then came back and overrun the guns. The Hungarian Division and some grenadiers moved against Semele's 52nd Division (of Augereau's IX Army Corps) and the French fell back behind Poniatowski's Poles.

    French infantry defending 
Auenhain sheep-farm. Weissenwolf recorded the actin as follow: "I had the first battalions which came through Crobern advance [against Auenhain] at the charge. At about 5 PM Oberst ressery with the 1st Battalion of Simschen, supported by my [grenadier] battalions Call, Fischer, and Portner, made a second charge on Auenhain. ... Dressery overthrew the French infantry behind the farm and drove them back over the meadows but a counter-attack by their cavalry forced him to form square quickly and to retire. Meanwhile, the Austrian grenadiers broke into the sheep-farm, cut down or captured the garrison and recovered a colour which had been taken from the Russians. They held the buildings through the night despite the fact that a French shell exploded an ammunition wagon inside the courtyard and killed many of the garrison, which now consisted of the grenadier battalions Fischer and Portner ..."

    Poniatowski brought up one battery and again formed his infantry in a thick skirmish line. These troops halted the Austrians and Polish 1st Chasseurs charged and broke battalion of Austrian infantry. Oudinot's Young Guard and part of Victor's infantry re-captured the sheep-farm, pushing the Austrians out into the open. The Austrian grenadiers came back, attacked and retook the sheep-pen buildings and the knoll to the east in one sweep. The farm was partially destroyed.

    Heroics of Maison's young soldiers.
    "This evening we must either win or all die !"
    - General Maiosn

    Voltigeur of Line Infantry, 
Musee de l'Armee, France Part of Gulden-Gossa was captured by the French infantry before being lost to Prussian 2 btns. and Russian Lifeguard Jager Regiment. The guardsmen attacked with cold steel, not a single shot was fired. They entered the streets formed in a narrow column and came through the village like tornado. The Young Guard and Lauriston's infantry counter-attacked but were charged with bayonet, thrown back and pursued. The Russian guardsmen passed by Gulden-Gossa and advanced towards Auenhain sheep-farm.

    Meanwhile battery of more than 80 guns of Russian Guard and reserve artillery deployed on the height south of Gulden-Gossa. The battery was commanded by General Suchozanet. The decimated Russian 3rd Division moved to the rear to give a clear field of fire for the artillery. The 4th Division and Prussian 12th Brigade were already behind Auenhain.

    The guns were thundering as the blood-curdling French yells drew closer to Gulden Gossa. It was the Young Guard and Maison's 16th Division attempting to take the village. Maison had said to his soldiers: "The decisive hour has now arrived for France. This evening we must either win or all die !" The young soldiers suffered badly from artillery fire but held their ground until Russian 2nd Guard Division came and dislodged them. The situation worsened for the French after 12 Russian horse guns opened fast fire on their flank. Behind the guns was Pahlen's cavalry corps (uhlans, hussars and Cossacks). Russian 2nd Cuirassier was deployed in front of Stormthal.

    About 5 pm the French again attacked Gulden-Gossa. Maison's 16th Division fought particularly well. They crossed bayonets with Russian guardsmen and were decimated by the artillery. Several battalions of Prussian infantry and Russian grenadiers attacked them. The fighting was ferocious, Maison was almost captured and barely escaped, and Raievski was wounded again. Maison's soldiers were pushed back and the Allies' elite troops pursued them half way to Liebertwolkwitz. After being decimated by powerful artillery and bayoneted by enemy's guardsmen Maison's die-hards kept fighting on the next day.

    Fight in the University Wood.

    In the University Wood the Allies counter-attacked several times and halted Mortier's Young Guard but were unable to push him back. Mortier had two divisions, Barrois' and Roguet's made of 20 tirailleur and 4 flanquer battalions. There were also several battalions of Lauriston's corps.
    After some hard fighting Mortier gained even more ground until at 4 pm Russian 2nd Grenadier Division entered the Wood and joyfully picked up the fight at close quarters with the French. The long fighting settled down to an artillery bombardement and skirmishers sniping at each other.

    Allied cavalry's counterattack.

    To halt the advance of Murat's cavalry the Allies unleashed their guard cavalry. "General Shevich ... leading the dragoons, hussars and uhlans of the Russian Guard Light Cavalry Division to the attack. Before they could form for the attack, the French struck and crushed them, killing Shevich and Davidov of the Guard Hussars in the process." (Nafziger - "Napoleon at Leipzig" p 124)

    The iron-clads mauled the Lifeguard Dragoons and Lifeguard Hussars but were halted by the Lifeguard Uhlans. These uhlans were one of the favorite units of Grand Duke Constantine, Tsar's brother.

    The Lifeguard Cossacks 
at Leipzig. Picture by Zvezda. Near Gulden-Gossa the Lifeguard Cossacks attacked the French and Saxon cuirassiers from the front while the Prussian Neumark dragoons and Silesian cuirassiers struck from the eastern flank. Murat's cavalry was also hit with canister fire. It was too much for the French, they were pushed back everywhere and pursued until the positions of Drouot's batteries. The pursuers were halted only by artillery fire and counter-attack made by the Old Guard dragoons.

    Marbot explained why this happened: "This treatment resulted in the enemy centre yielding and it was about to give way when the Tzar of Russia who had witnessed the disaster, rapidly advanced the numerous cavalry of his Guard which, encountering the squadrons of Latour-Maubourg in the state of confusion which always follows an all-out charge, repelled them in their turn and took back 24 of the guns which they had just captured. It was during this charge that General Latour-Maubourg had his leg carried away by a cannon-ball."

    In the night.
    "All the villages in which the day's fighting had taken place
    were in flames, and they were surrounded by a sea of a campfires."
    - Digby Smith

    Despite Allies successful counter-attacks in Gulden-Gossa and University Wood, and halting Murat's cavalry the French enjoyed huge territorial gains. They pushed the Allies troops all the way from Wachau to Gulden Gossa and from Liebertwolkwitz to University Wood. Allies' casulaties were heavy. Napoleon however failed to break enemy's line and win the battle. It was Napoleon's last chance at Leipzig and from now on he will be on defensive. The fight for the day was over.

    During the night all troops settled themselves into positions, so as to be able to renew the fighting the next day. The Austrian infantrymen were near Connewitz, Klein-Zschocher, Dolitz castle, Gautsch and the bridge by Connewitz. Austrian grenadiers were at Mark-kleeberg and cuirassiers near Auenhain sheep-farm. Kleist's Prussians were by Crobern and Crostewitz. The Russians moved their 2nd Grenadier and 3rd Cuirassier divisions behind the Prussians. Gorchakov's infantry occupied University Wood and area south of Liebertwolkwitz. Platov's Cossacks were in Klein-Posna. South of Gulden Gossa and by the ponds were the powerful Russian reserves and Prussian royal guard.

    In the village of Magdeborn slept Tzar of Russia. Around him were posted several battalions of Russian Imperial Guard. King of Prussia was in Borna, Emperor of Austria in remote Pegau, Schwarzenberg in Rotha, and Barclay de Tolly was in the middle of bivouacs on the height behind Gulden Gossa.

    Emperor Napoleon's tents stood by Meusdorf brickworks, while his Imperial Guard camped nearby. Marbot described the end of the day in few words: "Nevertheless, we continued fighting without retreating until nightfall." Digby-Smith writes: "All the villages in which the day's fighting had taken place were in flames, and they were surrounded by a sea of a campfires. ... There were so many wounded that no-one bothered about the dead. Seventy to eighty Russians were buried in a mass grave ... " (Digby-Smith, - pp 115-116)

    The commander of Polish corps, Prince Poniatowski, reported to Napoleon: "My VIII Corps ... have lost a third of their men and many officers. All ammunition stocks have been used up. ... the cartridge pouches and the ammunition wagons are empty. ... we have not enough to maintain combat for 1 hour."

    Murat's cavalry had many horses lost, especially the cuirassiers. Drout's artillery and the infantry of the first line were replenishing their ammunition.

  • Map: Battle of the Nations 16-19th October 1813
    Deployment of troops.

    ~ 1st Day of the Battle of the Nations ~
    Blucher vs Marshal Ney

    "Go towards Leipzig and attack the enemy, where you encounter him."
    - Blucher to Langeron
    Napoleon ordered "that the infantry of Marmont's corps
    should be placed in 2 ranks" (instead of three)
    George Nafziger - "Imperial Bayonets"

    The Battle of Leipzig, 16th October (northern front)
    The Battle of Möckern was a bloody affair fought on a limited area.
    It was like a scisor fight in a telephone booth.

    Prussian General Blucher 1742-1819 Blücher's forces were organized into two large groups:
    - Langeron's Russian army (corps)
    - von Yorck's Prussian I Corps
    The total strength of these troops was 20.000-30.000 infantry, 8.000-10.000 cavalry, 2.500 Cossacks and 270-310 guns. They were closing from the north and north-east on Möckern and Wiederitzsch. Blücher ordered Langeron "Go towards Leipzig and attack the enemy, where you encounter him." What had happened at Möckern was this.

    Day before the battle the French arrived at Möckern and Schönefeld. Ney and Marmont met each other and established their headquarter in the palace in Schönefeld.
    Ney's troops:
    - Souham's III Army Corps (only one division)
    - Marmont's VI Army Corps
    - Arrighi's III Cavalry Corps
    - Dabrowski's Polish division.
    These troops camped all over this area, as far as eye could see the fields contained thousands of men, horses and hundreds of vehicles. In the night thousands of campfires carpeted the fields and meadows. Ney was not sure where Blücher is and he neglected to probe the Allies movements with his cavalry except the direction towards Podelwitz, on the right flank. Once his troops met the enemy Marshal Ney ordered a slow withdrawal and abandoning the redoubts by Lindenthal.

    Langeron "believed Napoleon himself was attacking him".
    "... the Russians were soon involved in a hefty fight with the Poles.
    It was the bitterest fight I have ever seen in my life ..."
    - Prussian Mjr Ernst Moritz Arndt

    Russian General Langeron Blücher's main force was commanded by Russian General Langeron. Alexandre Andrault de Langeron was born in 1763 in Paris but in 1789 proceeded to Russia. Langeron enjoyed literature and crossword puzzles, but there was something about him that annoyed Blucher to no end. Maybe it was the subtle smile that never left his typically southern French face that triggered the old warrior's nervous system.

    Langeron's army attacked the twin villages of Gross-Wiederitzsch and Klein-Wiederitzsch in the very center of the French positions. These points were defended by Dabrowski's Polish division, 4 btns. and two cavalry regiments. Jan-Henryk Dabrowski was a general and national hero, his name is mentioned in Polish anthem.

    Disregarding the massive advantage of the Allies, Dabrowski's 2nd and 4th Infantry Regiment marched out of Wiederitzsch and assaulted one of Langeron's divisions. Langeron immediately sent word to Blücher exaggerating Dabrowski's strength. In his memoirs the Russian general wrote that he had "believed Napoleon himself was attacking him". The Polish 4th Regiment was a tough unit, in Spain its 300 men held Fuengirola against 2.500 British and Spanish infantry supported by a British squadron "and finished the affair by chasing the landing force into the sea and bagging the British general and 5 guns."

    Langeron pressed forward but it was a nervy situation and his artillery by mistake fired on Prussian battery. Langeron's infantry led by officers with drawn sabers entered Klein-Wiederitzsch but the Poles fought back with a grim determination. The 4th Regiment, outnumbered three to one, contested every inch of the ground that the Russians advanced. The attackers however pushed them out of the village. Five Russian cavalry regiments (Emmanuel's 3 dragoon and Witt's 2 Cossack) routed one Polish cavalry regiment, captured horse battery and took 500 prisoners. The remaining Polish regiment and some French cavalry counterattacked and drove the Russians across the Rietchke Stream. Dabrowski then rallied his 4 btns. and threw the Russians out of Wiederitzsch.

    Wiederitzsch The fields between the two villages were heavy trafficked with attacking, fleeing and counter-attacking infantry. Langeron saw with his fieldglass some French troops marching from Duben to Leipzig. (these were 4.235 men of Delmas' 9th Division). Before Langeron reacted, Delmas and some cavalry struck the rear and flank of the Russians. This bold action was a great relief for the hard pressed Poles. Langeron awoke from the shock and sent Korf's cavalry corps and Olsufiev's infantry corps against Delmas.

    Delmas and Dabrowski went on attack; Delmas stormed a small wood occupied by Russian 9th Division and took it, while Dabrowski entered Gross-Wiederitzsch at bayonet point and recaptured the village.
    Dabrowski's 4 btns. marched out of Wiederitzsch, attacked Rudsevich's 6 btns., and threw them into confusion. The Russians reeled back to their positions near stream. In the fighting they lost commander of Staroskol Infantry Regiment (killed), GM Schenschin, Mjr. Yussofovich and many others. French batteries opened fire on them and inflicted more casualties.

    GL Olsufiev and GM Udom decided to recapture the Birkenholz wood occupied by Delmas' infantry. There was Russian 9th Division against French 9th Division. Or 8 Russian against 12 French btns. The French 145th Line Infantry Regiment boldly marched out of the wood but was smashed by the Russians, lost many killed and wounded and its regimental eagle. The Russians pursued them and captured the wood. Following this failure GdD Delmas withdrew his division towards Plosen. Delmas' infantry was closely followed by GL Korff's dragoons and Cossacks. They monitored Delmas' movements for a while and then the Cossacks attacked and took "500 prisoners, 100 wagons and 6 guns."

    Langeron rode to the Schusselburg Infantry Regiment (2 btns.), spoke few words to the soldiers and personally led them against the Poles. GL Rudsevich with regiment of horse jagers (2 sq.) marched nearby as a protection against any attack from Polish or French cavalry. Behind these troops marched a massive force of 16 btns. and rolled more than 80 guns. The decimated and exhausted Dabrowski's 4 btns. counter-attacked. This time however they were badly beaten back and pursued.
    Nearby stood a small detachment of French infantry and this troop was broken by Russian artillery and pursued by infantry. Klein-Wiederitzsch was captured and Langeron informed Blucher about his success.

    Prussian Mjr Ernst Moritz Arndt writes: "Dombrowski's Polish division had occupied a village and the Russians were soon involved in a hefty fight with the Poles. It was the bitterest fight I have ever seen in my life and one could soon see the deep hatred that existed between the Russians and the Poles.
    The Russian infantry advanced with great courage and determination but the individual soldiers did not understand how to operate on their own in the gardens, streets and farmyards of the village. Thus the Poles, who included many veterans who had just returned from Spain, were able to hold on to the village for a long time despite being in a considerable minority."

    Blucher versus Marmont (Round 1).
    The French loopholed the garden walls,
    every street and house were defended
    and 2 guns were placed on a tower.

    Marshal Marmont, 
Duke of Ragusa Ney had the overall command over the northern front and his largest force was Marmont's VI Army Corps. This unit consisted of three divisions: Compans' 20th, Lagrange's 21st and Friedrichs' 22nd. Each division had 14 battalions of line, light, provisional and naval infantry. They were supported by a small cavalry force, brigade of Wirtembergian chevaulgeres under GM von Normann. Marmont wrote about his troops: "The regiments from the naval corps are advanced in their drill; their attitude is exceptional. The provisional regiments are, in my estimation, worthless ... their battalion drill is marginal at best."
    Marmont's artillery however was excellent.

    Von Yorck's force marched straight at Marmont's corps. "After the exchange of a few artillery rounds, the French abandoned Lindenau and the woods, withdrawing to the heights between Lindenthal and Wahren, where they had raised a number of earthworks. A short, vigorous cannonade caused the French to abandon this position. The French then fell back to a position between Eutritzsch and Mockern, such that Mockern covered the rear of their left wing." (Nafziger - "Napoleon at Leipzig" p 153)

    Yorck's Prussian I Corps moved against Möckern and his cavalry and light infantry fought shortly with the French troops in front of the village. The next day Russian dragoons led by GM Emmanuel, Italian serving in the Russian army, brushed away the Wirtembergian chevaulegeres and French light cavalry. With the cavalry screen gone Blücher was able to view the French positions, or at least part of it. The French strongly occupied Möckern with the 2nd Marine Regiment. (The were also called Regiments d'Infanterie de Marine or naval infantry). To the west of this village and along the river were swampy meadows and woods, not suited for artillery.

    Mockern Möckern was a big village with walled gardens, big manor house surrounded with gardens, palace and a tower. Along Elster River ran a 4 m high dike. The infantrymen and marine infantry loopholed the walls of the houses and hid behind garden walls. Their muskets and ammunition were ready. Every house was defended and 2 guns were placed on a tower.

    The manor house was also strongly defended. Behind village stood columns of French infantry ready to counter-attack. Marshal Marmont showed great skills in preparing his defensive positions and the enemy will pay dearly for every inch of ground.

    The Prussian infantry led by Mjr Klux executed the first attack on Möckern. His advance was covered by 8 6pdr cannons and screened by skirmishers armed with rifles and muskets. Behind them marched a fusilier btn. of 2nd East Prussian Infantry Regiment. As a reserve served the elite Leib-Grenadier Battalion and four companies of jagers. The total strength of Klux's battle-group was approx. 1.200 men.

    The French in buildings and gardens opened fire and the advancing Prussians moved to the left and right. Some of the jagers moved along the river, while others took cover behind trees and bushes. When part of village was captured by the Prussians a group of French infantry crossed over a wooden bridge and counter-attacked. The French on the other bank of the river shot the Prussians in the flank. The French recaptured large portion of the village.

    Klux ordered his troops to counter-attack but they were unable to move forward. In this situation Klux withdrew the Leib-Grenadier Battalion from the village. Column of French infantry entered Mockern and threw the Prussians out of village. The Prussian casualties were heavy, including 6 battalion commanders ! Especially the French artillery did much harm to the attackers.

    For the second attack on Mockern was selected the Prussian 2nd Brigade. About 3 pm they stormed the village from two directions, frontally and from the left. They entered the village, drove the French marine infantry back and captured half of Mockern. The French batteries fired canister at 300 paces while a single btn. of 4th Marine Regiment counter-attacked.
    Prussian fuslier btn. was thrown back but the pursuing marines were counterattacked and driven back by musketier btn. of 1st East Prussian Infantry Regiment. This and another musketier btn. attempeted to capture the French battery of heavy 12pdrs. They did take 2 guns but were swept away by counter-attack made by 3 French btns. So far only part of Mockern was still in Prussian hands.

    Prussian Leib Regiment
vs French in 1813.
Picture by Knotel. A group of French infantry swam the Elster River and began firing, the Prussians were taken in crossfire and fled. Meanwhile on the French side, about 1 pm, adjutant arrived with orders, Napoleon wanted the III Army Corps (Souham's) to leave Marmont and march south of Leipzig where was the main French army.
    When Yorck's troops began assault on Möckern, Blucher noticed a gap between Yorck attacking Mockern and Langeron storming Wiederitzsch. He ordered Lanskoi's Hussar Division of Vasilchikov's Cavalry Corps to move into the gap. Lanskoi was famous for his bravery and his regiments were one of the best of Russian regular light cavalry.

    About 2 pm the Prussians brought 8 guns and began firing on 20 French guns deployed before Mockern. Strangely enough vast majority of the French cannonballs went over the heads of the Prussian gunners. I guess the Prussian fire was not much better because they kept strengthening their artillery.

    Blucher vs Marmont (Round 2).
    The French artillery inflicted horrific casualties
    on the brave Prussians.

    Prussian General von Yorck The preparations for the third Prussian attack on Mockern were under way. There were 37 guns deployed and already firing on all cylinders. The assault force consisted of 7th Brigade, in first line were 3 Landwehr btns. and another 3 Landwehr btns. were in the second line. In the rear was the Silesian Grenadier Battalion, all strong men, well trained and eager to use their bayonets.

    But before the Prussian hit Mockern, Marmont counter-attacked with several btns. of Marine infantry of GdD Lagrange's 21st Division. In the same time 80 French guns with their ammunition wagons advanced forward making a considerable noise. Behind artillery marched Friederichs' 22nd Division, while the 20th Division served as reserve. Marmont also strengthened the garrison of Möckern.

    Yorck saw Marmont's movements and decided to take the initiative into his own hands. He directed the 2nd Brigade and 16 heavy guns on Mockern and French left flank. Behind this force marched the 1st Brigade. The 7th and 8th Brigade were ordered to advance against the French right. The French artillery doubled its fire.

    Fusilier battalion attacked one of the French batteries but without success. A single musketier battalion attacked the same battery and failed too, losing all their officers and 75 % other ranks (!) Another musketier battalion seeing the carnage looked for cover. Once in safety, they began firing at the gunners. It didn't take long before 12 guns were without their crews. The guns were withdrawn and the musketiers advanced into the vacated position. They however didn't enjoy their victory for long, the French infantry came and after a heavy musketry threw the musketiers back. The other battalions of the 2nd Brigade didn't do much better, some entered Mockern but all suffered heavy casualties. The 2nd Brigade was saved from destruction by 1st Brigade from the reserve.

    Marmont took the poorly trained 20th and 25th Provional Regiment and charged against Prussian 1st Brigade. The attack failed so the superb 1st Marine Infantry and 32nd Light Infantry advanced against that brigade. The marines fought for each building and garden and enjoyed some success.

    Prussian infantry in Mockern.
Picture by Keith Rocco. The Prussians managed to hold only on few houses. GM Steinmetz, commander of the 1st Brigade, was wounded. The advance of the 7th and 8th Brigade was stalled by heavy musket fire. Now both sides received few moments of rest and the wounded streamed to the rear. There was only artillery duel all along the line and Möckern was already burning.

    The Prussian Brandenburg hussars attacked the French outside of Mockern but without success. Steinmetz took 3 btns. (1 Landwehr, 1 infantry, and 1 grenadier) and moved south. In the first line advanced Landwehr btn. that attacked the French on a small hill and in the village. Despite musket fire the Prussians drove the defenders back. Another battle group of 5 btns. (4 Landwehr and 1 grenadier) marched against the hill.

    Marmont seeing the new push on his line ordered to direct the fire of 50 guns on the two battle groups. For the Prussians came crisis in battle. Cannonballs and canister struck the Prussians at their flank and inflicted heavy casualties. The French artillerymen were again the greatest killers. Landwehr battalion was attacked by Wirtembergian cavalry but they managed to repulse the attackers. Meanwhile the 7th and 8th Brigade were attacked by the French marine infantry.

    Phenomenal cavalry charge gave Blucher victory.
    The Prussian cavalry broke the French infantry and cavalry,
    captured numerous guns, took hundreds of prisoners
    and cut to pieces the brave marine infantry.

    Charge of Prussian dragoons.
Picture by Becker. It was now or never situation for the Prussians and von Yorck counter-attacked with battalion of the elite Leib Regiment, 2 sq. of Brandenburg hussars and 1 sq. of horse volunteer-jagers who until now stood in a hollow ground and were unseen to the French. Behind them advanced the Brandenburg Uhlan Regiment. Once they came closer to the French infantry the 308 Brandenburg hussars "wheeled out" and charged.

    The French formed two squares and fired. The salvo made little impression on the hussars, they broke and pursued the infantry. The French ran towards own artillery and thus masking their fire. In effect the entire battery was captured by the hussars. Regiment of Wirtembergian cavalry struck the Prussians on the left flank but was immediately charged by 2 sq. of Prussian uhlans (342 men). The uhlans and hussars broke two regiments of Wirtembergians and captured 9 guns. During pursuit they met battalion of the 1st Marine Infantry Regiment and cut it to pieces. The uhlans continued their brilliant charge and broke several other squares. It was a phenomenal charge and a total disaster for Marshal Marmont.

    Jurgass sent forward the 1st West Prussian Dragoon Regiment, Lithuanian Dragoon Regiment and several regiments of Landwehr cavalry. Total of 2.000-3.000 of cavalry flooded the French positions. The dragoons attacked French cavalry, broke them and pursued towards Gohlis. They also captured 4 guns and took prisoners. Another group of cavalry, dragoons and Landwehr, attacked battalion deployed in line and broke it by attacking one flank.

    Battalions of the 1st and 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment formed squares and attempted to halt the Prussians. But the Mecklenburg hussars took them from the rear while from the front attacked Prussian infantry. The marines broke in the instant, lost a flag and 700 prisoners. The 2nd Leib Hussar Regiment took 2 French flags and 2 guns, and the Landwehr and national cavalry also captured several guns.

    The 7th and 8th Brigade continued their advance behind the victorious cavalry, but there was little or no resistance from Marmont's troops. Even the brave marine infantry continued their retreat. They however didn't run in panick but withdrew slowly. About 5 m the 7th Brigade and some cavalry attacked and pushed back Compans' 20th Division. The advance of Prussian 8th Brigade was halted only by artillery fire.

    The French retreat.
    Although the French and Poles were defeated,
    they suffered 7.000 casualties, while the
    Prussians and Russians lost 9.000 men.

    Marmont's mauled troops were in full retreat towards Gohlis and Eutritzsch. Any resistance of the marine infantry was broken by Prussian artillery. The Prussian crews moved their guns forward and at 600 paces pounded the enemy. Additionally a Prussian shell exploded near French battery and three caissons were detonated into the air. The explosion was tremendous.
    The entire army would fall apart if not the brave action of General Joubert and his 7 btns. (3 marine and 4 provisional). These lads counter-attacked and stabilized the situation for a while. Marmont wrote: "I do not know any praise too great for these deserving troops, so brave and devoted, even though they had a lot of casualties they still fought with great courage ..."

    Darkness was about to fall when Marmont's troops reached Eutritzsch and Gohlis. Behind were left only isolated pockets of defenders. A single French column and some artillery were still in the wood south of Mockern. They came out of the hiding and boldly attacked. The Prussians received them with canister and the French fell back. Blücher ordered St. Priest's Russian corps to attack Marmont right wing but it was too late. In the night Marmont rallied his troops and moved behind the Parthe River.

    Blücher slept in Wiederitzsch. He was proud of his troops, they captured 2 eagles, 2 flags, more than 50 guns, 2.000 prisoners. Blücher sent officer to the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, Schwarzenberg, to inform him about victory over Ney and Marmont. Also Bernadotte was informed.

    Battle of Möckern was a bloody affair fought on a limited area. It was like a scisor fight in a telephone booth. Yorck's I Corps (21.000 men and 104 guns) defeated Marmont's VI Corps (20.000 men and 54 guns). Marmont, Compans and Friedrichs were wounded. Although the French and Poles were defeated, they suffered 7.000 casualties, while the victorious Prussians and Russians lost 9.000 men.
    The reasons for such difference in casualties were: quality of French artillery, relatively flat terrain allowing the cannons to inflict the heaviest possible casualties, and the fact that the French infantry used Mockern's houses and walls as a cover.

    Neither Blücher, Langeron nor Ney and Marmont shined as great tacticians although Marmont showed skill in defending the village with infantry. Von Yorck was arguably the best of the four commanders, he was determined enough to dislodge the French from a strong position and used his cavalry in a very effective way. The bravery of the French marine infantry and Polish division counted little as they were too few to make any significant impact.

    Napoleon was in Schonefeld when Marshal Marmont reported his defeat. Napoleon pondered whether to withdraw or to attempt one more attack. He apparently did not know that Bennigsen's army had moved from Dresden. Late on 16th October, for undetermined reasons, he sent captured Austrian General Merveldt to the Emperor of Austria with proposals for an armistice. This was a psychological mistake; the discouraged Allies concluded that Napoleon was admitting defeat, and so hardened their hearts. (Esposito & Elting - "A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic wars.")

    Rating of napoleonic troops fighting against Blucher
    (Source: Bowden - "Napoleon's Grande Armee of 1813")

    Elites - French marine infantry and horse artillery, Polish infantry
    Crack Troops - French and Polish foot artillery
    Veterans - minority of the French infantry
    Conscripts - majority of the French infantry
    Militia - all French provisional infantry




    ~ 2nd Day of the Battle of the Nations ~
    New arrivals.

    Prisoners captured by the French and Poles
    said that the arrival of Bennigsen's and Bernadotte's
    armies is awaited.

    Battle of Leipzig, 2nd Day (17th October)
    When Bennigsen's and Bernadotte's armies arrived
    Napoleon conceded that he must move closer to Leipzig.

    Allies at Leipzig 1813. In the morning of the next day, 17th October, the Allies' armies formed themselves for battle. Arrayed against Napoleon's army were not just the Army of Bohemia under Schwarzenberg approaching Leipzig from the south but also Blucher's Army of Silesia and Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte's Army of the North coming from the north and north-east.

    The bulk of Bernadotte's army was made of Swedish troops. These were without much combat experience but were well trained. The Swedes were led by Generals Stedingk, Sanders and Skjöldebrand. General Sir Charles Stewart described the Swdish troops: "The appearance of the [Swedish] troops, collectively, was good; individually, they had not the air, the gait, or dress of disciplined soldiers: neither the old troops or new levies were steady under arms: their clothes were ill made: and their appearance, after seeing the Russians and the Prussians, was unprepossessing. However, I must do them justice to admit, that their performance in the field exceeded my anticipations. Their guards and artillery were composed of the choice of their men, and throughout, the composition of the Swedish soldierly was respectable. ... I saw four cavalry regiments ... The Swedish horse is not a good animal, having a very short neck, and an immense thick cart hind-quarter: he may endure fatigue, but in point of appearance and movement he is a sorry exhibition."

    Bernadotte Bernadotte (see picture) wrote to Blücher congratulating him on his victory over Ney during the previous day. But Blücher was angry, he thought Bernadotte wanted to take the least hazardous position, while leaving the hardest fighting to Blücher's Russians and Prussians. Bernadotte leisurely maneuvered into position and anxious to spare his own raw troops, he had wrangled powerful Russian corps under Langeron from Blücher's army. The whereabouts of Bernadotte's Army of the North were unknown to Marshal Ney.

    The French batteries opened fire on Klenau's Austrian infantry but the enemy did not advance. Allied monarchs ordered their troops not to advance in order to allow Bennigsen's army and Austrian I Corps under Colloredo time to arrive on the battlefield. The morning passed while the French and Allies limited themselves to a skirmish fight between advance posts.

    Around 10 am cannons were heard on the north of Leipzig. Allies troops standing south of Leipzig thoght that Napoleon suddenly moved against Blücher. The artillery however fell silent. Many generals on both sides expected Napoleon would withdraw but it didn't happen. Why Napoleon wasted his time I don't know. I guess he had awaited Allies' attack. There were however no reinforcements coming to his side and with every hour his enemies grew stronger.

    "I must admit that the Poles
    repeatedly beat off the Russian assaults
    even though heavily outnumbered."

    "... Sacken's Russians had taken Gohlis
    at the second attempt despite the brave defence
    of Dombrowski's Poles, whose flank had been exposed
    by the flight of Delmas's [French] division."

    Polish 2nd Infantry in 1813, 
picture by Chelminski. The noise up north was made by Blücher's Russian infantry and guns as he attacked Poles (Dabrowski) and French (Delmas) near Gohlish and Eutritzsch.

    Graf Henkel von Donnersmark writes: "While General Vasilchikov's cavalry were mounting their bold attack (read below) ... the infantry of Sacken's corps was not idle. The general had advanced on the right wing and soon clashed with Dabrowski's Poles [at Gohlis]. Honour should be given to whomsoever earns it, even if it is the enemy, and in this case I must admit that the Poles repeatedly beat off the Russian assaults even though heavily outnumbered. Finally, they had to fall back, but they marched off in good order and took up another position closer to Leipzig. When the Poles and Russians clashed in this campaign, they always did so violently, asking for, and giving, no quarter, so deep was the hatred between these two nations that are at once so similar and so dissimilar."

    Digby-Smith writes: "... Sacken's Russians had taken Gohlis at the second attempt despite the brave defence of Dombrowski's Poles, whose flank had been exposed by the flight of Delmas's [French] division. The Poles withdrew in good order to the Pfaffendorf outwork and then into the Rosengarten area between the Pleisse and the Elster." (Digby-Smith, - p. 169)

    "Pashol, pashol !"
    The Russian hussars went on at a cracking pace
    routing French cavalry and coming almost up
    to the suburbs of Leipzig.

    Charge of Russian hussars While Sacken struggled with Dabrowski's Poles, General Blucher sent GL Lanskoi's 2nd Hussar Division (Russian) against Arrighi's French III Cavalry Corps. The French cavalry (Defrance's dragoons, Lorge's chasseurs, and Fournier's hussars) were broken and hotly pursued. It was the only major action fought on 17th October.

    Captain von Nostitz, Blucher's ADC, writes: "... the attack was executed by four hussar regiments with great determination, and to Blucher's intense delight - he watched it - the guns were captured together with 500 prisoners." Graf Henkel von Donnersmark described this furious charge in more detail: "The cavalry of our corps, under the active and brave General Vasilchikov who distinguished himself at every occassion, made na excellent attack on General Arrighi's cavalry. ... Then the trumpets sounded, and the Marioumpol, Alexandria and White Russia Hussars trotted off. I could not resist the temptation to go with them ... Our cavalry went on at a cracking pace and the officers, who had burned with envy when they heard how Yorck's cavalry had distinguished itself the previous day [at Mockern], kept shouting Pashol, pashol ! (Go , go !) to their men.
    The enemy regiments did not stand the shock, but turned and fled towards Leipzig with us on their heels like a thunderstorm. Now and again there were minor clashes during the chase ... In this attack on Arrighi's cavalry, we came almost up to the suburbs of Leipzig. We took a lot of prisoners, and I captured a French squadron commander and took his sabre. Our losses were not inconsiderable, for on the way back we took fire from a French infantry column."

    The arrival of Bennigsen's army.
    Bennigsen's army closed the circle
    around Napoleon's army.

    Russian General Bennigsen In the afternoon Schwarzenberg received news that Bennigsen's army reached Naunhof. This new force was coming from the east and south-east, closing the circle around Napoleon's army. Schwarzenberg issued orders to attack after the arrival of Bennigsen, around 2 pm. Bennigsen announced that his advance guard had arrived at Fuchshain but his troops were too fatigued for fighting. In this situation the monarchs decided that the attack should be delayed until next day. When an officer arrived with news of Blücher's victory (at Mockern the previous day) the monarchs let him know about their plans. They wanted to combine attacks on Napoleon from the north and south.

    Tzar Alexander and Schwarzenberg decided to strengthen Bennigsen's army, and they added Klenau's IV Army Corps (Austrians), Ziethen's 11th Brigade (Prussians) and Platov's Cossack Corps. It increased Bennigsen's strength from 35.000 to approx. 70.000 men.

    In Napoleon's headquarters.
    The news from the battlefield depressed the mood
    in Napoleon's headquarter. The Empreror decided
    he must move closer to Leipzig.

    The news from the battlefield depressed the mood in Napoleon's headquarter. Marmont was defeated by Blücher, Poniatowski held his ground but lost 1/3 of his force, Murat was unable to break Allies' line, and the expected breakthrough after the Young Guard attacked, didn't materialize. Prisoners taken by the French and Poles said that the arrival of Bennigsen's and Bernadotte's armies is awaited.

    When Bennigsen's and Bernadotte's arrival became evident, Napoleon conceded that he must withdraw and move closer to Leipzig. "But while the mood of the French soldiery was depressed and nervous, that of most of the German contingents of the garrison was bordering on the festive. The company of Badeners at the gate by the orphanage were offering to sell their muskets and openly saying that they would not resist the Allies. As night fell, the nervous Leipzigers could tell from the surrounding campfires that the defending troops had fallen back much closer to the city than they had been the day before." (Digby-Smit, - p. 173)

    In early night the French, Polish, Italian and German troops north of Leipzig were on the move. Marmont's, Arrighi's and Souham's corps retreated toward Leipzig and deployed between Gohlis, Leipzig's suburbs and Parthe River.

    In the night Napoleon left his headquarters and rode north of Leipzig to meet Marshal Ney. Ney was asleep and the Emperor woke him up. They discussed about the battle between Ney and Blucher fought on the previous day and about the French pontoon train and engineering park. At 3 am Napoleon sent Bertrand's IV Army Corps to Lindenau and ordered to occupy the Saale River bridge. In the event of retreat it would be necessary to hold this bridge.

    Col. Griois, the commander of the foot artillery of the Imperial Guard, wrote: "On 18 Oct at 3 AM in early morning, an orderly officer brought me an order to set off with my guns for Leipzig. ... But all roads were already completely blocked ... with troops of all arms moving in the same direction. ... Happily, there was clear moonlight for without it there would have been chaos. The start of our march had been marked by a series of explosions and a great fire as all the waggons and caissons which could no longer be moved due to lack of horses were being burned with their contents. This spectacle caused a deep depression in me for it reminded me of our retreat from Moscow. It was a bad omen."

    Napoleon's options were limited. Digby-Smith writes: "There was no possibility of mounting an offensive operation from his present position, with his crippled army almost out of ammunition."




    ~ 3rd Day of the Battle of the Nations ~
    Napoleon is surrounded,
    hard fighting for Dolitz, Probstheida, and Schonefeld.

    The Allied plan was a heads-down, go-and-get-killed,
    concentric and massive attack.

    Battle of Leipzig, 3rd Day (18th October)
    "The regimental bands played military marches
    to add to the martial air of the assault"
    - George Nafziger (USA)

    Austrian generals and 
staff officers.
Picture by G. Rava. In the morning of 18th October began raining and the village of Wachau was burning. Numerous columns of French infantry and cavalry were withdrawing north, towards the villages of Probstheida, Lossnig and Stotteritz. In order to conceal the movement they left chains of foot and horse skirmishers supported by strong detachments. The French outpost system, organized in depth, ruined what little coordination the Allied advance had.

    After the first cannon shots Napoleon rode to the Dutch Mill near Thonberg. From that place he had an excellent view of the entire battlefield south of Leipzig. The allied monarchs stood on an elevation that would later be known as the Monarchs' Height. From this point they observed the movements of the troops.

    Allies' army was divided into several columns (groups) and ready for the battle:

  • Barclay de Tolly with 50,000-60,000 men (south, in the center)
  • Hessen-Homburg with 40,000 men (south, on the left flank)
  • Bennigsen (south, on the right flank)
  • Bernadotte (north)
  • Blucher (north, against Leipzig proper)
  • Giulay (west, against bridges at Lindenau)

    Nafziger writes: "Napoleon had, in the meantime, ridden to Lindenau. It is probable he was studying whether the road through Lindeanu with its numerous bridges and defiles would suffice for him to withdraw his entire army, or if he would have to secure a crossing on the Pleisse. That he did not begin a withdrawal would seem to indicate that he had consoled himself with the hope that 18 Oct would bring him victory over the allies, and the need for withdrawal would vanish. It may also be that he felt that a strong rear guard in Leipzig could resist any allied assault, more than long enough to withdraw his army. ... At the break of day Napoleon sent General Merveldt back to the allies on parole.

    Kaiser of Austria Merveldt was given a letter to the Austrian Emperor (on picture -->) in which Napoleon offered to surrender to the allies the fortresses he held along the Oder and Vistula, on the condition that the allies allow him to withdraw to a position behind the Saale. He added that, if approved, they should sign an armistice and undertake peace negotiations. The offer was refused." (Nafziger - "Napoleon at Leipzig" p 191)

    Once the battle began Napoleon had only two concerns in that moment: the movements of Bennigsen's army advancing against Macdonald and the situation of Poniatowski's Poles. The Poles suffered heavy casualties and their ammunition was exhausted.

    Meanwhile the Allies moved along the whole line. The Prussian schutzen (marksmen) of Klux's 9th Brigade entered abandoned Wachau. Bianchi's Hungarians threw the French out of Lossnig. The French fell back to their main line, abandoned the Meusdorf Farm and pulled back to Probstheyda. Prussian 10th, 11th, and 12th Brigade moved from Liebertwolkwitz to Probstheida. Tsar of Russia, Kaiser of Austria and King of Prussia were with Barclay de Tolly's troops, followed at a great distance by Grand Duke Constantine's elite forces and reserves.
    To halt the advance Napoleon directed Bordesoulle's 1st Cuirassier Division and Doumerc's 3rd Cuirassier Division against the Allies. The iron-clads charged repeatedly, throwing back Russian cuirassier division, several Prussian regiments and Austrian cuirassier division. Decouz's Young Guard Division (12 voltigeur battalions) received order to retake Lossnig.

    Along the Pleisse River; fight for Dolitz.
    "A successful assault by the Allies
    along the Pleisse threatened
    the [French] army with a catastrophe."

    On map:
    Napoleon on the Tobacco Mill. The Old and Middle Guard behind him. Lauriston's corps defending Probstheida.
    Note: Austrian troops deployed behind Bianchi's division: Raigencourt's advance guard brigade and Haugwitz's infantry brigade. The two brigades are not shown on this map.

    Nafziger writes: "The Guard artillery advanced and moved to a position to the west of Probstheida. Napoleon lingered a short time in the gun line, then moved back to the mill, and issued some more orders. He then lay down on the ground, apparently lost in thought." Murat shocked him from his thoughtful torpor. He came in highly agitated, leapt from his horse, and gave the Emperor a quick, breathless report. ... Murat's report impressed the Emperor with the gravity of the situation. A successful assault by the Allies along the Pleisse threatened the army with a catastrophe."

    The Poles and French strongly defended Dolitz with artillery and infantry. Nafziger writes: "Although the French strongly held Dolitz ... Simonyi [with 3 sq. of Hessen-Homburg hussars and 2 horse guns] resolved to march as quickly as possible to the other side of the village, so as not to lose the least time in striking the French ... This movement was barely begun when the French first line struck at the Austrian hussars. Simonyi sounded the charge, and drove back not only the French infantry assault, but completely broke through the second French line and threw that back Twice more the hussars charged forward in order to give the Austrian infantry time to arrive."

    The Austrian infantry came at speed and garrisoned the village before Decouz's Young Guard divison and Polish battalions counterattacked. Poniatowski's infantry and Decouz's Young Guard division attacked Bianchi's Hungarians and threw them back. The Young Guard retook Lossnig and Dolitz and pushed Haugwitz's brigade back. Hessen-Homburg was wounded. The Austrians began moving their artillery back. Three battalions of Austrian grenadiers attempted to regain the lost ground but their success was limited and very costly.

    Austrians, or rather Hungarians, 
attacking the chateau at Dolitz The violent actions of Decouz's Young Guard made a deep impression on Schwarzenberg. Dolitz was burning and the streets were carpeted with dead and wounded Austrians, Frenchmen and Poles. Three Austrian grenadier battalions charged and captured part of the beautiful village.
    Two Austrian regiments and several guns were detached from the left bank to take the Dolitz chateau. Four howitzers shelled Dolitz while skirmishers opened musket fire. Schwarzenberg watched the action. Nafziger writes: "... Schwarzenberg was tied up in the critical battle around Dolitz and could not provide overall battle administration." The monarchs meanwhile stood on the Monarchs' Height and watched the battle for Probstheida.

    Macdonald and Sebastiani.
    Macdonald's infantry was thrown out of the villages
    and a large scale musketry battle began.

    On the left French flank Sebastiani's II Cavalry Corps (incl. horse carabiniers) made several attacks against Dohturov's infantry (of Bennigsen's army). None of the charges brought result and the cavalry retired. Bennigsen directed Stroganov's Advance Guard against Zwei-Naundorf. Macdonald's infantry was thrown out of the villages and a large scale musketry battle began. Bennigsen also sent his cavalry division against Sebastiani's corps. Sebastiani fell back. Both sides deployed more artillery.

    The Austrians and Russians moved against Zwei-Naundorf and Stotteritz defended by Macdonald. The Baden, Hessian and French troops in Holzhausen were part of 39th Infantry Division under GdD Marchand. They were attacked by Austrians and Prussians. The village began burning and the defenders abandoned it. The enemy pursued them until the Hessian Leib-Regiment turned around and struck back at the Austrians. At 2 pm Pahlen's Russian light cavalry and Cossacks passed between Zuckelhausen and Stotteritz and attacked the fleeing from Holzhausen French infantry.

    French artillery halted the pursuers until 2 sq. of Grodno Hussars captured couple of guns. Division of French cuirassiers attacked the Grodno and Soumy Hussars and did a great execution amongst them. Pahlen intervened with the remaining hussars and threw the French heavies back behind their infantry and artillery. General von der Pahlen was bruised and his horse was killed.

    Fighting on the meadows before Leipzig The battlefield became a very chaotic scene, French cavalry attacked Allies infantry, before being counter-attacked and thrown back by Allies horse. Then Allies' cavalry charged, was greeted by infantry with volleys at close range and fell back. The situation changed from moment to moment.
    Paskevich's 26th Infantry Division (Bennigsen's army) moved after the French infantry. Sebastiani's cavalry attacked Paskevich and regiment of Austrian chevaulegeres intervened. Paskevich's movements forced Macdonald to continue his withdrawal. Walther's 3rd Guard Cavalry Division (22 sq.) moved against Allies' artillery but Chaplitz's 31 sq. (5 dragoons, 18 uhlans, 8 horse jagers), two Cossack and one Bashkir regiment, and 24 horse guns moved aginst their flank and forced the guardsmen to retire. Efim Chaplitz was a Pole in Russian service and known cavalry leader. To the north of Zwei-Naundorf appeared Platov's Cossacks.

    "The courage and ferocity shown by both sides
    in the battle of Probstheida was truly unique,
    as were the losses they suffered."

    The Middle Guard was led by Napoleon himself.

    Against Probstheida advanced 55.000 men under Russian General Barclay de Tolly. These forces were formed in two long marching columns - through Wachau moved Prussians under Kleist and through Libertwolkwitz moved Russians under Wittgenstein. Behind the two columns advanced Russian grenadiers and the Russian and Prussian guards under Grand Duke Constantine. Tsar of Russia and King of Prussia found themselves with the elite troops.

    The Allies deployed as follow: on the left stood two Austrian divisions (Wimpfen's and Greth's) of Colloredo's Corps, in the center were Prussian brigades (Pirch's, Preussen's, Klux's with Roder'scavalry behind them), on the right was Russian cavalry (Pahlen's hussars, uhlans and Cossacks, and Kretov's cuirassier division). As a reserve served the two decimated Russian corps: Gorchakov's and Eugene's.

    Kleist spoke against sending his Prussian infantry against the Probstheida. The village was the key to Napoleon's positions and was expected being impossible to capture. The inner and outer walls were made of timber and clay and the Allies' cannonballs went straight through them leaving only a very small hole. The walls were eavily manned. The garden walls were high and thick and gave excellent protection for the French infantry. The defense was strengthened with artillery and behind the village stood strong reserves.

    The monarchs however insisted on attacking it. The previous day the Russians bled the most, so now it was Prussians turn to have fun. Tsar of Russia urged that Probstheida must be taken. In early afternoon the sun came out of the clouds. The sun illuminated the battlefield, the allies infantry, preceded by its powerful artillery, marched forward. The Russian, Prussian and Austrian regimental bands played military marches to add to the martial air of the assault. The Tsar of Russia stood on the Monarchs Height, half way between Probstheida and Liebertwolkwitz. He was joined by Schwarzenberg.

    The Prussian skirmishers and marksmen attempted to penetrate Probstheida but were quickly thrown back. Artillery on both sides opened heavy fire. Although Allies guns were more numerous the French artillery of the Imperial Guard gradually gained the upper hand. The first wave of attackers on Probstheida was made of Prussian 10th Brigade (von Pirch-I) and 12th Brigade (von Preussen). Prussian fusiliers (light infantry) spearheaded the attack. Some jumped over the garden walls and penetrated into the village while others found a door in the inner wall, broke it open, and fanned out into the core of Probstheida. From here they shoot the defenders in the back and drove them off into the wide central street. The fusiliers were followed by infantry and Landwehr and became engaged in a house-to-house combat.
    The French counterattacked from three directions: frontally and on both flanks by moving around either side of Probstheida. The Prussians were thrown out of the village and found themselves in open field where the artillery of Imperial Guard blew apart the Prussians.

    Then a large column of Murat's curiassiers charged and inflicted heavy casualties. Prussian 10th and 12th Brigades rapidly fell back and were saved from destruction by Russian cavalry (Pahlen's hussars and Kretov's cuirassiers) who was able to hold off further charges of French cavalry.

    A member of the Prussian 12th Brigade writes: "We moved up via Meusdorf and the brickworks against Probstheida. The first thing that hit our skirmishers - of which I was one - was an artillery crossfire. It didn't take long for us to be scattered. We reformed and threw ourselves into a sunken road up against the loopholed garden wall of the village. We waited until the French had fired a full volley at our main body, jumped out of the road and rushed forward to take half the village.
    The surprised French fell back before us, abandoning a battery of 10 guns in the centre of the village. We were about to seize the prize, when there came a shout: 'French cavalry came around the village and is taking us in rear !' We had to abandon the guns to take cover in the houses. The French cavalry did not appear, for the Russians had made a counter-acharge and driven them off. ... the French had brought up reinforcements and now advanced against us in superior strength. We were lucky to get out of the village alive. We raced through the gardens and climbed over the high garden wall. The French were so close behind us that they caught some of us as we we straddling the wall."

    Von Preussen's Prussian 12th Brigade pushed forward a second time. This attack however was less successful than the first. The French charged with bayonets and once the Prussians were in the open they were bombarded by French artillery. Digby-Smith writes: "... the well-placed French artillery wrought great destruction as the advancing troops ..." The two Prussian brigades, 10th and 12th, suffered heavy losses and were pulled back where they reformed and replenished their ammunition.

    Masses of French and Russian infantry 
in burning Probstheida With the Prussians licking their wounds, the third assault was made by the Russian weak II Infantry Corps led by Eugene. Despite heavy musket and artillery fire Eugene's Russians (Shahovski's division) reached garden walls, climbed over it but were unable to penetrate the village. The French counterattacked and pushed the Russians back at bayonet point.

    Barclay de Tolly mounted fourth attack on Probstheida. He directed four infantry divisions and some Prussian troops against the village. Behind them marched two grenadier divisions led by Raievski, The Hero of Borodino. It was a furious assault. Anxious Napoleon rode to the firing on all cylinders artillery of the Imperial Guard, and directed them forward. The artillery shreded the Russians, before they were attacked by one brigade of the French 2nd Guard Division (Middle Guard). The guardsmen were led by Napoleon himself. (The other brigade of Middle Guard joined Poniatowski's Poles.) The Russians were thrown out of Probstheida and pushed back. "Following this heavy handed repulse, no more Allied assaults were mounted against Probstheida." (Bowden - "Napoleon's Grande Armee" 1990, p 191)

    Schwarzenberg became concerned and asked the Tzar for the Russian Guard. The monarch however refused and at 4 pm it was decided that no further assaults would be made against Probstheida. Allies' artillery bombarded French positions for some time. The young French infantry eagerly attacked but Allies' guns quickly forced them back. The darkness fell and the French abandoned Probstheida. They withdrew their forces approx. 1/2 km behind the village. The day brought glory to Vial's 6th Infantry Division which performed prodigies of strength and valor.

    The artillery of the Imperial Guard was outstanding. General Griois, the commander of foot artillery of the French Imperial Guard writes: "I advanced and set up my 8 guns to the left of Connewitz on our extreme right wing and opened up a lively fire. The battle surged back and forth ... We advanced when our troops did and changed front as necessary to engage best targets. As the enemy infantry were getting uncomfortably close and causing casualties among my gunners, I asked General Drouot ... to send me some infantry protection. He sent up the battalion of Velites de Florence ... and they soon taught the enemy to have some respect."
    Digby-Smith writes: "The courage and ferocity shown by both sides in the battle of Probstheida was truly unique, as were the losses they suffered. An attempt by the Old Guard to advance south, however, was stopped by the Allied artillery on the low hill about 500 m away. Generals Baillot, Montgenet and Rochambeau were all killed during the fighting here, while French regiments which especially distinguished themselves were the 2nd, 4th and 18th Line and the 11th Light. Even Prinz August von Preussen wrote most flatteringly of the enemy's valour ..."

    Allies staff officer Maximilian von Thielen writes: "The French were holding out with unparalled stubborness ..."

    Blucher vs Ney.
    Schonefeld was set afire in many places,
    but it was impossible to dislodge the French
    from behind the walls and buildings, from where
    they fired through loopholes.

    Masses of Russian and French infantry
fighting in Schonefeld. "During the morning Bernadotte and Blucher held a conference in Breitenfeld. It was agreed that the Army of the North [Bernadotte's] would pass the Parthe River at Taucha with a reinforcement of 30,000 men drawn from the Army of Silesia [Blucher's].
    Blucher agreed to dispatch Langeron's army corps, and to renounce his rank and his rights as army commander, putting himself at the head of his Prussians. ... The advance of the Swedish army towards Leipzig had been slow, purportedly because Bernadotte had received word that Napoleon planned a renewed attack towards Berlin. ... Platov's artillery began to fire on the Saxons around Paunsdorf ..." (Nafziger - "Napoleon at Leipzig" pp 215-216)

    Langeron placed pontoon bridges over the Parthe River and a flying bridge by Mockau. Large masses of troops had moved to the east bank of the river. Bubna's Austrian Light Division arrived before Paunsdorf. As the Russian cavalry approached the French advance posts, Normann's Wirtembergian chevaulegeres had defected to the Allies.

    Bubna's Light Division attacked the French and Saxons in Paunsdorf. Platov's Cossacks held the attention of Duritte's division. Bubna's jagers broke into the village but were shattered by canister and counterattacked by French infantry. The Saxon howitzers shelled the village forcing the jagers to pull back out of the burning Paunsdorf. The French infantry pursued them before being attacked by Austrian hussars and Grenzers. As they drove the French back, the hussars and Grenzers pushed into Paunsdorf. Durutte's division counter-attacked and threw the Austrians out of Paunsdorf. The 6th Jager Battalion suffered 135 killed, wounded and prisoners.

    Part of Bulow's III Prussian Corps (Hessen-Homburg's 3rd and Borstell's 5th Brigade) arrived before Paunsdorf. Russian heavy battery, Prussian horse battery and British rocket battery fired on the village. Bulow's sent 3 battalions with schutzen (marksmen) as skirmishers against the French in Paunsdorf. The schutzen suffered badly from Durutte's infantrymen facing them (the French were protected by garden walls and buildings) but supported by battalion of Austrian Grenzers drove the defenders back towards Sellerhausen. Two Prussian battalions and British rockets pursued the French. The French rallied, killed the commander of British rockets and drove the Prussians back.

    The mighty struggle for Schonefeld began.
    Nafziger writes: "It was around 1 pm, that cannon fire was heard in the direction of Schonefeld. ... At the same time, the first advance of the columns of the Army of the North (Bernadotte's) appeared moving from Taucha towards Leipzig. ... Ney ... ordered the Saxons to counterattack. Because of their unreliability, however Reynier had held the Saxons back as reserve. Reynier launched into an immediate and vehement exchange of words with Ney, but Ney again ordered the Saxons to attack Paunsdorf ... Schonefeld was 1,000 paces long on its northern side and about 500 paces long on its southern side." Schonefeld was defended by Lagrange's 21st Infantry Division, incl. the marine infantry who day earlier repulsed four Prussian attacks on Mockern. It was as if another hot day for these lads !

    Russian General Kapzevich The first attack was made by Kapzevich's X Infantry Corps. Kapzevich's horse was killed but his 29th, 37th and 45th Jagers pushed into the village before being driven back by Lagrange's marine and light infantry. The Staroskol Infantry Regiment attacked the manor farm, killing or capturing the garrison of 200 men. The marine and light infantry counterattacked and threw the Russians out of the village. The Staroskol Infantry Regiment lost a great number of officers. Kapzevich's troops fell back.

    The second attack was made by parts of Kapzevich's and St.Priest's corps. Some troops moved down the main street and through the village's gardens, and some against Friedrich's division. The battle on the streets was ferocious, several buildings were burning. The Russians attacked three times and three times were thrown back. Swedish heavy artillery arrived "with a speed until then unknown for [heavy] 12pdrs." and opened fire on the French. These guns were joined by a superb Swedish horse battery.

    Allies' repeated assaults were for the French like being on the receiving end of a jackhammer. They were attacked by infantry and cavalry and cannonaded by the biggest artillery battery of the Napoleonic wars. This battery consisted of Langeron's 100 pieces, Winzingerode's 60, Swedish 20, and Bulow's 40 guns. The French responded in kind with 137 guns (Marmont's 49 pieces, Reynier's 27 and Souham's 61 guns). Nafziger: "The artillery roared and the field between the two lines of guns was swept clean of the living." (Nafziger - "Napoleon at Leipzig" p 222)

    It was frightening and the casualties mounted on both sides. Friedrichs's division was moved back, while St.Priest's corps suffered heavy losses as they moved across the east side of Schonefeld. The French 50th Line entered the village to support the marine infantry but broke under fire and fell back. They rallied 100 paces behind the village and together with Ricard's division re-entered Schonefeld and obliged Kapzevich to commit more troops.

    A Russian officer wrote: "This village presented us a front of not more than 200 m wide, but its stone walls helped the French to defend it. All its buildings were two-storey, and were of stone; to the side of the field, to the left , stood a cemetery, not a very large one, with a 4-sided wall; very many Frenchmen sat behind all the walls; they pelted our skirmishers woth bullets and prevented them approaching the village. Kapzevich ordered 12 heavy guns to take a position in front of the village, with the left flank immediately to the river, to fire incendiary projectiles to set the buildings on fire, and to fire canister at the walls.
    The village was set afire in many places, but it was impossible to dislodge the French skirmishers from behind the walls and buildings, from where they fired through loopholes. General Kapzevich ordered 6 guns of the battery to move along the road right into the village, and to make an assault, together with our (Russian) infantry. Six 6 guns took a position at the range of musket shot, and poured a volley of canister into the village.
    Our (Russian) infantry rushed with bayonets and with shouts, "urah !", climbed the walls and entered the streets, but suddenly the French, reinforced by fresh troops, fired a hail of bullets at them, and also rushed with bayonets and with shouts, and beat off our attack."

    Brayer's division marched forward and took up a position 200 paces in front of the village. The Russian infantry came and opened fire but were driven back when 59th Line turned their flank. The Russians still held the bridge in Schonefeld and now the French attempted to capture it. Nafziger writes: "A violent battle raged and after a half hour of melee, firing off their last cartridges, the French of the 59th Line fell back behind the 40th Line." (Nafziger - p 227) Ricard's division was hard-pressed by Russian infantry and cavalry and obliged to fall back.

    Langeron pressed forward against the village of Reudnitz, which he nearly took, when Napoleon and part of his Guard appeared and pushed Langeron back. (Napoleon learned of the Saxon desertion and left his position at Tobacco Mill and rode to Reudnitz to meet with Marshal Ney and see the situation.) Paunsdorf also fell into Allies hands. Bulow's Prussians then rapidly moved against the villages of Stunz and Sellehausen. After seeing Schenefeld and Paunsdorf taken, Bernadotte ordered to strengthen the artillery - unfortunately Langeron's guns had completely shot off their ammunition and were withdrawn. The Swedish infantry remained on the left bank of the Parthe River as a reserve.

    Nansouty's cavalry of the Imperial Guard roared forward and were met by Bubna's Light Division and Hessen-Homburg's Prussian 3rd Brigade. One Russian, one Austrian and one Saxon battery fired on the guardsmen. The British rockets joined the cannonade. Nansouty's cavalry became partially disordered from the artillery fire and when Chaplitz's Russian cavalry and the [Hungarian] Emperor's Hussar Regiment charged in both flanks they fell back.

    Fighting for Schonefeld
    Every building in Schonefeld (see map above) was defended like a strong point.
    "It was necessary to retire to the houses, the gardens and then the cemeterry
    where there were more corpses above than below ground." - Georges Blond

    The treachery of the Saxons.
    "The Wurtemberg cavalry promptly followed
    the example of the Saxons." - de Marbot

    The Saxons defected to Allies. Napoleon wrote:
    "On the 18th October, the victory was won by the French, despite the defeat suffered by the Duke of Ragusa (Marmont) on the 16th. Then the Saxons with sixty guns, went over to the enemy at one of the most vital points in the army's position and turned their guns on the French....The treachery of various corps of the Confederation of the Rhine, who had been contaminated by the example of the Saxons ... "

    French Officer Marbot described this event in detail: "This force led by Bernadotte, following the left bank of the Partha, headed for Sellerhausen which was defended by Reynier, whose corps was almost entirely made up of German contingents. Reynier having seen the desertion of the Saxon cavalry, distrusted their infantry, which he had placed next to the cavalry of Durette in order to restrain them; but Marshal Ney, with misplaced confidence, ordered him to deploy the Saxons and send them to assist a French regiment which was defending the village of Paunsdorf.
    The Saxons ... when seeing the Prussian ensigns in the fields of Paunsdorf they ran towards them at top speed ... Some French officers could not believe such treachery, and thought that the Saxons were going to attack the Prussians; so that General Gressot, Reynier's chief-of-staff rushed towards them to moderate what he thought was an excess of zeal, only to find himself confronted by enemies ! ... The Wurtemberg cavalry promptly followed the example of the Saxons."

    "During the morning, a conference was held by Saxon Officers, who decided to defect with their men at the first opportunity. This came when the Prussians stormed Paunsdorf forcing the French to fall back. At 4.30 pm, with the French too preoccupied to stop them the two Saxon brigades marched over to the Allies, turning their guns on their late comrades." (- Howard Giles)

    In the suburbs.
    Dabrowski reassured Napoleon's ADCs that
    would die before abandoning his position.

    French infantry in Leipzig. 
Picture by Parhaiev, Russia The northern part of Leipzig was defended by Pacthod's Young Guard division (6,000 men) and tiny Dabrowski's Polish division (by now down to 1,200 men). In reserve stood the Italian Milan Guard Battalion and the unreliable Baden Brigade.

    The bridges at Lindenau were defended by two Young Guard divisions (Mortier's corps). When a Russian division advanced against Leipzig, Dabrowski's division withdrew behind the Parthe River.

    The loss of the Halle Suburb meant disaster to Napoleon's army. Nafziger writes: "Gourgaud, one of Napoleon's ADCs, recognized the danger, and reassured by Dabrowski that he would die before abandoning his position, hurried to advise Napoleon of the threat." Sacken's Russian corps moved against the Poles and the Young Guard.

    However, the flanking fire from the French Guard artillery standing behind the Pleisse River was devastating and broke the spirited Russian attack. Especially the Kamchatka Infantry Regiment suffered badly. General Neverovski, Colonel Rachmanov, General Huene and several senior officers fell. The Young Guard charged, regained all lost ground and almost took Gohlis. Von Yorck's Prussian corps arrived to assist Sacken's Russians. Encouraged Sacken attacked again; he also sent one jager battalion against the Guard artillery. This attack was stalled and the battle deegenerated into a skirmish fight.

    Napoleon promoted Poniatowski
    on the battlefield to be a Marshal of France.

    Poniatowski as marshal of France. Napoleon was pleased with his troops and commanders. He wrote: "It is impossible to praise too highly the conduct of Count Lauriston and Prince Poniatowski in this battle. As a proof of his satisfaction the Emperor promoted the latter on the battlefield to be a Marshal of France." Allies Reserves (grenadiers and cuirassiers) attacked along Pleisse River but "were stopped cold and decisively repulsed by Poniatowski's diminutive, heroic corps of Poles." (Bowden - "Napoleon's Grande Armee of 1813" 1990, p 191)

    When Poniatowski was promoted to Marshal of the Empire by Napoleon, he had responded with: "Oh Sire, we are all prepared to die for you." According to Digby-Smith his words were getting uncomfortably close to being transformed into reality !

    Night withdrawal.

    Sir Robert Wilson, who was present at Leipzig as British commissioner, writes: "In spite of the defection of the Saxon army in the middle of the battle, in spite of the ardent and persevering courage of the allied troops, they could not carry a single one of the villages which the French proposed to hold as vital to their position. The action was closed by night, leaving to the French, and especially to the defenders of Probstheida, the glory of having inspired a generous envy in their enemies."

    The battle of the 18th October was one of attrition. The Allies launched a massive assault from all sides and in over 9 hours of fighting the French were forced back towards Leipzig. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and only the bravery of the French troops prevented a breakthrough. In the night Napoleon began to withdraw his army across the Elster River.

  • .



    ~ 4th Day of the Battle of the Nations ~
    Napoleon retreats.

    General Bennigsen brought 50 heavy guns
    and bombarded the French troops in Leipzig.

    Battle of Leipzig, 4th Day (19th October)
    Terrified and incompetent French NCO blew the bridge up
    stranding 30.000 troops in Leipzig.

    "During the night the French army had been ordered to withdraw without a noise from Connewitz, Probstheida, Stotteritz, Volkmansdorf, and Reudnitz, towards Leipzig. Those in Lindenau were to move to Weissenfels. Weak rear guards occupied the villages in order to conceal the retreat, and support troops were placed in the outer suburbs by the wind mills and near the walls of leipzig. The garden and cemetary walls by the gate of the village of Grimma were pierced with loopholes as well as the gates themselves.

    Skirmishers were posted in the farm houses, in the brush, in the parks, and everywhere possible. Leipzig was to be occupied by the VII Corps (Reynier), the VIII Corps (Poniatowski) and the XI Corps (Macdonald). They were ordered to hold it for 24 hours or to the last extremity, in order to allow the rest of the army, its artillery, and its equipment sufficient time to effect its retreat.
    The allied cavalry advanced posts were ordered to attack without relief the French advanced posts during the night to determine whether or not the French were attempting to withdraw. However, they faled to discover that the French were, in fact, pulling out.

    At the break of dawn all doubts about the French withdrawal vanished. The Allies commenced their maneuvers as prescribed. The French detachments attempted to slow the allied advance, and had some success. ... The allied armies marched immediately towards Leipzig, and between 8 and 9 am, the last remaining French forces were thrown into the city.

    The fog, which had appeared at dawn, finally dispersed. After riding over the battlefield of the previous day, the Tsar of Russia and King of Prussia arrived behind Probstheida. They ordered an assault on Leipzig. As soon as all the batteries, mortars and howitzers could be prepared, a general bombardement of the city began. The Army of Bohemia marched against the Peters Gate. The Army of Poland (Bennigsen's) marched against the Spital Gate, the Sand Gate, and the Windmill Gate. The Army of the North (Bernadotte's) marched for the Hinter and the Grimma Gates. The Army of Silesia (Blucher's) attacked the Halle Gate. ... Platov's Cossacks passed across the Pleisse ..." Before abandoning Probstheida, the French burned 50 caissons and spiked 12 cannons." (Nafziger - "Napoleon at Leipzig" pp 233-234)

    The bridges.
    The dramatic scenes at the bridges reminded
    crossing of the Beresina River in 1812 in Russia.

    The destruction of 
the bridges in Leipzig The streets of Leipzig were crowded with retreating French troops. Their passage was difficult due to abandoned equipment. Claiming that he did not know who commanded the rear guard, French officer Montfort went off to Lindenau (not Leipzig), ostensibly to find out, leaving a corporal in charge of the demolitions. The terrified corporal soon blew the bridge up, while it was still crowded with retreating Frenchmen and in no danger. This murderous piece of incompetence turned a brilliant defensive action into a definite defeat. Approx. The 30.000 troops were stranded in Leipzig and fought desperately to escape. The dramatic scenes reminded crossing of the Beresina River in 1812 in Russia.

    "The irresponsibility of the entire French army command demonstrated not only by their faulty preparations for the defence of the city, but also in the total lack of any provisions for a speedy and easy withdrawal. No extra bridges had been constructed over the arms of the Pleisse and the Elster and no causeways had been built through the swamps through which they flowed. Everything - infantry, cavalry, artillery and countless trains - fought with and through one another on the single way to the only bridge over the Elster - and this was not defended by a bridgehead. Chaos hold-ups and confusion happened all the time." (- Graf von Hochberg)

    Napoleon departed Leipzig after visiting the King of Saxony. Graf von Hochberg writes: "At 8 AM the Emperor arrived with Murat and both dismounted at the King of Saxony's house, we could see the latter in animated conversation with the Emperor in the upstaris bay window." The Emperor detoured through the Peters Gate and across bridge.

    The bridge soon was destroyed while it was packed with dozens of soldiers. Second bridge broke under the weight of the traffic. The remaining troops sought another route out of Leipzig, some swimmed and made it across but others were shot by the Allies skirmishers and drowned. Digby-Smith writes: "The bridge, of course, was packed at the time with soldiers trying to save themsleves from the Allies, and when the charges exploded the effects were catastrophic.
    Men, horses, guns, waggons and blocks of stone were thrown high into the air and caused further havoc when they crashed back down to earth."

    Allies' assaults on the Halle Gate.
    "Forwards you brave Russians,
    hit them hard and keep on hitting !"
    - Prussian General Blucher

    Sacken's decimated XI Infantry Corps opened the day's action with an assault on Pfaffendorf by 8th, 39th, 49th and 50th Jäger Regiment. Durutte's 32nd Infantry Division abandoned the smoldering village and fell back over the very swollen Parthe River. Kapzevich's X Infantry Corps attacked the redoubt before the river with Arhangelsk and Old Ingermanland Infantry Regiments.

    French artillery opened fire and halted the Russians. They however came back and together with the 29th, 38th and 45th Jäger Regiment attacked the redoubt again. The French threw them back one more time. Kapzevich was a stubborn warrior and he made a third attempt. This time the five regiments were supported with Ekaterinbourg and Rilsk Infantry Regiment of St.Priest's VIII Infantry Corps. The third Russian assault also failed.

    "The impasse at the Halle Gate - which was heavily barricaded - was finally broken when von Bulow's corps penetrated through the Georgen suburb into the French rear. At 12 o'clock Durutte retired from the Halle Gate and joined the general withdrawal around the north of the city and out to Lindenau on the fateful causeway. Now the Russians ... pushed forward again; the regiment of Ekaterinbourg ... led the charge into the Halle suburb. There was bitter hand-to-hand fighting down the Gerbergasse in which no quarter was given and no prisoner taken. General Blucher was, as usual, in the thick of it ..." (Digby-Smith, - p 248)

    Nostitz (ADC to Blucher) writes: "After some losses, the Russian sappers were able to break in the barricaded door; the soldiers rushed in. General Sacken sent me into the house to prevent a massacre and to order the Russian soldiers, in his name, to spare any of the enemy who laid down his weapon. It took a lot of effort to get into the building as the lower floor was filled with Russians.
    Polish infantry at Leipzig.
Source: Scotty Bowden - 
Napoleon's Grande Armee's of 1813 The Poles had withdrawn to the upper floor and had blocked the stairs with furniture and were firing at us through the gaps in it. Several enemy bodies lay in front of the house, in the lower room and out in the courtyard. Many of our soldiers too had been killed and wounded. ...
    Waving a white cloth, I now climbed the stairs and called out to the officer commanding the Poles - he seemed to be an elderly major - that, in the name of General Sacken, he should surrender.
    'I will never surrender to a Russian' he shouted. 'Get out or I will shoot you !' I had jumped back only two steps when the Poles opened fire; a ball ripped the cap from my head and some Russian soldiers were hit. There was no way I could stop the fight. The enraged Russians stormed up the stairs and into the upper floor. After a desperate hand-to-hand fighting they bayoneed all the enemy."

    The Blind Gate was defended by Friedrichs' 22nd Infantry Division. The first assault was made by one battalion of Prussian grenadiers and was repulsed by the French 23rd Light Infantry Regiment. Two Prussian battalions defeated the 70th Line Infantry Regiment (only 330 men !) and took them all as prisoners. Friedrichs division slowly fell back. The Prussians then penetrated into the rear of the Poles at Halle Gate forcing them to retire. It allowed the Russians to gain a lot of ground.

    Allies' assaults on the Grimma Gate.
    "The infantry knocked roof tiles off
    so as to create more firing points."
    - Digby Smith

    Fight for the church in Leipzig, 
picture by Parhaiev The Grimma Gate was on the eastern part of the city. The walls were loopholed and each of the two houses flanking the gate was occupied by a French battalion. The infantry knocked roof tiles off so as to create more firing points. "The gate was, of course, closed and barred and a mass of wagons, beams, planks, furniture and barrels had been piled up against the inside." (Digby Smith, - p 254)

    On the Johannes-Platz stood six battalions of French infantry. But when the Prussians "let out a great cheer as they ran forward, these six battalions doubled off ... westwards to the Inner Grimma Gate." The Grimma Gate was defended by Marchand's 39th Infantry Division, and some Hessians and Badeners.

    The Prussian fusiliers found a small postern gate that was not barricaded and their pioneers broke it down with their axes. The fusilier battalion stormed the houses to either side of the gate. Some walls were loopholed and to avoid the musket balls, the fusiliers pressed their backs against the wall and; as soon as French musket was poked through the loopholes , they grabbed it in order to capture or damage it. The French artillery however inflicted some casualties on the Prussians and forced them to fall back. Bulow responded with deploying numerous Prussian and Russian guns and silencing the enemy's pieces.

    The French infantry, Hessian Leib-Garde and Hessian Garde-Fusiliers participated in a melee. Some Baden infantry, and group of French cuirassiers and Polish uhlans attacked Russian jagers. The Russian and Prussian cavalry and infantry counterattacked. Group of Badeners placed on the city wall blindly fired into the mass of Badeners, Poles, French and Russians in front of them.
    Other Badeners took cover in the houses.

    Leipzig citizen Friedrich Hofmeister writes: "In my house, a half company of Badeners had blockaded the Torweg and were swearing to turn my house into a fort. At the first sound of the signal horns however, they (Badeners) cleared the barricades away and ran off towards the Grimma Gate.
    I opened my door and handed out food and drink as fast as I could to the powder-blackened liberators (Prussian fusiliers). With their increasing numbers it didn't go far; those who came later had to be satisfied with well water. Some demanded money ... Another hinted that I should hand over my pocket watch. This I refused to do, then he threatened me with force so I ran upstairs and locked the door. Some of them followed me, smashed open the door ... and ransacked the living room. I ran out of the back door and demanded that the two officers ... should come and help me. They followed me happily ... One of them offered to sell me my own blue coat ! "

    The Russian infantry entered the streets in large numbers and advanced against the French in cemetery and church. There were numerous bayonets fights and exchange of musket fire at close range. The first Prussian units to storm the Grimma Gate were one fusilier and one Landwehr battalion.

    Mjr. Friccius writes: "As the enemy were still firing at us from the houses in our rear, it was inevitable that groups of our men broke into these houses and terrible hand-to-hand fights took place.
    Some of the French were thrown out of the upper windows. ... At the same time, however, the enemy advanced on us from the Esplanade in great numbers and wanted to force us into the Totengasschen, where we would have been lost." The Prussians were forced to fall back with the French hot on their heels. The Badeners joined the pursuit and became involved in a melee with the Prussians.
    The fight for Johannis Church and the Inner Grimma Gate began. Friccius writes: "A dreadful melee now developed; a real slaughter. ... Suddenly a force of Frenchmen, with 8 to 10 officers at their head, burst out of the churchyard gate and attacked us in the right flank. It was probably two weak companies. It seemed that we were lost again. But they had seen the dreadful slaughter that hadjust takemn place and the same panic that had paralysed their comrades now seemed to grip them. Instead of attacking us, the offices handed me their swords ! What a scene !" (Digby-Smith, - p 256)

    Cuirassiers by Vernet Swedish officer Wossido writes: "... part of the open space was strewn with abandoned wagons and that the Prussian and Swedish riflemen were in disorder. As a result we could hardly move forward and soon had to halt. Suddenly there came a shout from the gate: Cavalry ! For a moment we were so squashed by the troops withdrawing that we could scarcely keep on our feet. French cuirassiers rushed out of the gate and attacked us. There must have been 40 or 50 of them.
    They were fired upon from all sides and these reckless horsemen, who made this desperate charge, were in an instant laid down besides their horses." Graf von Hochberg of Baden described the same moment: "A squadron of French cuirassiers and a detachment of Polish lancers ... managed - for a short time - to take the gate from the enemy."

    The Hessian Garde-Fusiliers were cut off and surrendered to the Prussians near the inner Grimma Gate. The Allies entered the inner city and flooded the streets. The Russian, Prussian and Austrian jagers rushed in pursuit of the fleeing French, Italians and Poles. They fired into the mass of fugitives. Friedrich Rochlitz writes: "... clumps of terrified captives were screaming in heart-rending fashion for mercy." Some of the French and Poles however, although were in the water up to their armpits (the river was swollen) kept on loading and shooting ! The single battalion of the Italian Milan Guard attempted to defend the Theater. The Russian jagers stormed it and took it. There was no longer any organized body of French troops west of the river except Dabrowski's die-hards.

    "... Dabrowski's Poles constituted the last formed body of French troops." (Digby-Smith, - p 268) Dabrowski finally surrendered at 1 PM. Some of his soldiers however refused to surrender and escaped. They kept fighting in scattered locations to the very end.

    Death of French marshal.
    He was getting very weak but
    refused the pleas to surrender.

    Firing from windows and rooftops, and from the cover of improvised barricades, the cleverly concealed defenders stymied the Allies with well-aimed shots. The withdrawal grew increasingly confused as the various columns converged through Leipzig's streets. There were many stragglers and wounded (and march discipline and traffic control were not French specialties !) Some of the Saxons and Badens fired at the French. Graf von Hochberg, a Baden general, writes: "I did not wish to be involved in the certain destruction of our remaining troops and a German city in order to spare the French some casualties."

    Poniatowski together with Macdonald, with 1.000 men left, made last attempt to stabilize the defense. Poniatowski led his last attack and received a bayonet thrust wound above the heart. Although badly wounded he managed to cross the Pleisse (his horse drowned). Allies' skirmishers opened fire and Poniatowski was wounded several times. He was getting very weak but refused the pleas to surrender.

    When the bridge was destroyed , the profusely bleeding marshal rode slowly along the river looking for a suitable crossing point. The river was already full of bodies and debris. "Just short of reaching the other bank, the dying marshal slipped off his horse and fell into the murky water. As it all took place under heavy sniper fire (he already had several bullet wounds in him), some believe that Poniatowski was shot once more before his final fall." (- Mark Salter and Gordon McLachlan)


    "The effects of the Allied victory at Leipzig were truly momentous.
    It had smashed Napoleon's stranglehold on Europe for good."
    - Digby Smith

    "Had I possessed 30,000 artillery rounds at Leipzig ...,
    today I would be master of the world." - Napoleon

    Leipzig was one of the few battles in which Napoleon was clearly defeated. It resulted in the destruction of what was left of French power in Germany and Poland. Never again Napoleon's army went into Germany. At Leipzig Napoleon's losses were 40.000-45.000 killed, wounded, left in hospitals, 15.000-30.000 prisoners and 300 guns. Digby-Smith (after Ihbe and Kerchnawe) gives the total French losses at 84,243 killed, wounded and taken prisoner.

    Casualties among generals were high, one marshal was killed (Poniatowski covering the retreat of French army drowned in the Elster River), two marshals were wounded (Ney and Marmont) and many generals were either killed or wounded, including Compans, Lefol, Latour-Maubourg, Maison, Pajol, Meunier, Souham, Sebastiani, Bertrand, Laferiere-Leveque, Gros, Zoltowski, Bronikowski, Grabowski, Rozniecki, Uminski, Malachowski and Brayer.

    The total casualties of Allied armies were 50.000-55.000 killed, wounded and captured.
    Poles' casualties were 7.500 or 62 % of their forces
    Prussians' losses were 15.500 or 20 % of their forces
    Russians' losses were 20.000 or 13 % of their forces
    Austrians' losses 7.500 or 7 % of their forces
    Swedes' losses 400 men or 2 % of their forces
    "After the battle, gangs of co-opted locals went around the battlefield burying the dead where they lay to try to prevent outbreaks of disease. Even in 1814 there were the remains of dead horses all over the area and unburied corpses were found months after the battle in the scrub ... " (Digby-Smith, - p 116)

    Teacher Sander's son writes: "Everywhere there lay thousands of dead and the returning peasants had to burry them. Big pits were dug in the village and in the surrounding fields, each designed to hold 40-50 dead. ... We found the money that we had hidden in the curch: due to the fierce heat of the fire, it had turned yellow."

    Allies parade in Leipzig. George Nafziger explains the causes of napoleonic defeat: "Though neither side fought a perfect battle, Napoleon obviously fought less effectively than the Allies. He had the advantages of interior lines of communication and should have been able to act as he chose, concentrated and ready for battle against any of the individual converging elements of the allied army. However, instead of maneuvering free from fixed positions, Napoleon felt compelled to tie himself to the defense of Leipzig. Using hindsight, Napoleon would have been more successful if he had played Leipzig as he had played the Dresden campaign in late August.

    In August Napoleon had left a garrison in Dresden and acted with his field armies against three converging allied armies. When two of the allied armies were withdrawing from Dresden, he turned with the best portion of his armies against the Army of Bohemia and achieved both the tactical interior position and numerical superiority of forces on the battlefield. The result was a significant victory. At Leipzig, Napoleon did not maneuver, but surrendered the initiative to the allies. He remained immobile and not only permitted the allies to concentrate all their forces against him, achieveing numerical supriority, but he also permitted them to surround him and sit astride his lines of communication with France."
    "At the close of the year 1813, Napoleon presented a sad yet sublime spectacle. His first words on entering the senate, after his return from the disasters of Leipzig, were, "A year ago all Europe marched with us--to-day all Europe marches against us." (J.T. Headley - "The Imperial Guard of Napoleon")

    Allies pursuit after 
the battle of Leipzig.
The Department of 
History at the US 
Military Academy Digby Smith writes: "The effects of the Allied victory at Leipzig were truly momentous. It had smashed Napoleon's stranglehold on Europe for good, opened up European markets for external international trade for the first time since the Berlin Decree six years earlier, destroyed the Confederation of the Rhine, liberated Germany, catapulted Prussia into the ranks of the Continent's leading powers, and laid the basis for the final defeat and dethronement of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons. The blind faith which thousands had previously placed in the Emperor also began to fade. " Saxony was temporarily governed by Russian General Prince Repnin.

    On November 1 in the morning, the Old Guard was drawn up at Frankfurt and the Emperor was cheered lustily. This was the last Vive l'Empereur ! ever heard in Germany.

    Sources and Links.

    Digby Smith - "1813: Leipzig - Napoleon and the Battle of the Nations"
    Lukasiewicz - "Armia Ksiecia Jozefa 1813"
    Bowden - "Armies of 1813"
    Bowden- "Napoleon's Grande Armee of 1813"
    Plotho - "Relation de la bataille de Leipzig"
    Pelet - "Principales Operations"
    Marbot - "Memoirs of General Baron de Marbot"
    Nadzieja - "Lipsk 1813"
    Nafziger - "Napoleon at Leipzig"
    The Department of History at the US Military Academy - series of campaign atlases
    Photos of grand diorama of Leipzig. Courtesy of Udo Sixel, Germany.
    Picture of Austrian staff by Giuseppe Rava > of Italy
    Picture of Battle of Mockern by Keith Rocco > of USA Picture of Hungarian Grenadiers by Dmitrii Zgonnik of Ukraine.

    Reenactments of battle of Leipzig between 2000 and 2005: [1] ~ [2] ~ [3]
    Dioramas of battle of Leipzig: [1] ~ [2] ~ [3 - Großdioramas] ~ Grandes maquetas: Leipzig
    Below are links to plastic figures of soldiers, perfect for building your own diorama of Leipzig.
    (You can order them in your local toy store or on the internet)
    French troops: Napoleon and his staff ~ infantry ~ dragoons ~ hussars ~ carabiniers ~ supply train
    infantry of Old Guard ~ Polish lancers of Old Guard ~ horse artillery of Old Guard
    Russian troops: commander and staff ~ infantry ~ grenadiers ~ cuirassiers ~ uhlans ~ hussars

    (Austrian) General Karl-Phillip, Furst zu Schwarzenberg
    (Prussian) General Gebhard-Leberecht Blucher
    (Swedish) Jean Baptiste Bernadotte
    Mihail Bogdanovich Barclay de Tolly
    Petr Hristianovich Wittgenstein
    Prince Andrei Ivanovich Gorchakov
    Zahar Dmitrievich Olsuviev
    Petr Mihailovich Kapzevich
    Fabian Vilhelmovich Sacken
    Fedor Karlovich Korff
    Matvei Ivanovich Platov
    Nikolai Nikolaievich Raievski
    Marshal Nicolas Oudinot.
    Memoirs of Marshal Oudinot.
    Marshal Édouard Adolphe Casimir Joseph Mortier.
    General Étienne Marie Antoine Champion de Nansouty.
    General Michal Sokolnicki.
    Marshal Charles-Pierre Augereau.
    Marshal Etienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre MacDonald.
    Travel to Leipzig.

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies