Thursday, October 18, 2012

1813 Campaign Diary - Part 8 - Gera

14 to 18 August 1813

 Central Germany 14 August 1813

This phase covers the period 14 to 18 August 1813 and the fighting in Central Germany between Second French Army and the Russian.
It was fought during the period May to October 2012
Corps positions at start of campaign
Summary of the Campaign
Napoleon ordered a general advance over the river Saale.

Although the Russians were not fully deployed along the western bank of the river, they put up a determined defence.   Three major battles were fought on the first day, and by nightfall two French corps had been defeated and the third fought to a standstill.

The French withdrew the following day, but 2nd corps was attacked before they could cross the river and the safety of the west bank.   They were cut off from the only available bridge and had to surrender.

Napoleon never recovered from the loss of 2nd corps.   He was left with just 9 divisions to face 12 Russian. 

On 15 August he had to decide whether to order a retreat west, or to try to hold the line of the river Saale.  He choose the second option.   He ordered a complete reorganization of his whole army.  Each corps would be reduced from three to two divisions.   4th corps had suffered heavy casualties and was sent to Erfurt to recover.   He was forced to use the Imperial Garde in the front line, with the old and young guard divisions forming the backbone of two of his slimmer corps.

To achieve their remarkable success the Russian Army had fought and maneuvered without rest, and was now low on supplies and much in need of a rest to reorganize.      They were also unaware of the full extent of the damage to the French army.   So they were slow to resume the attack.

On 17 August they again attacked at Bad Kosen and Jena.  

They won another decisive victory at Bad Kosen and established themselves on the west bank of the river Saale.

They were less successful at Jena on the first day of fighting.  

This gave Napoleon his last opportunity to withdraw.   4th corps was now operational again and he resolved to risk all in a second days fighting at Jena.   He was unaware that the Russians had also received a fourth division, and that he was again heavily outnumbered.   Even the presence of the Old Guard was not sufficient, and he lost heavily again.   He had no further reserves.   Six of his nine divisions were broken and in rout.   The Russians were firmly established on the west bank of the river Saale.

On 19 August he ordered his army to retreat towards Gotha.

Location of campaign battles

Campaign History
14 August       Start of campaign
14 August       Battle of Domburg                             Decisive Russian victory
14 August       Battle of Possneck                              Draw
14 August       Battle of Bad Kosen                           Minor Russian victory
15 August       Battle of Possneck Day Two              Decisive Russian victory
15 August       2nd French corps surrender
18 August       Battle of Jena                                      Minor Russian victory
18 August       Battle of Bad Kosen Day Two           Decisive Russian victory
19 August       Battle of Jena Day Two                      Decisive Russian victory
20 August       Napoleon orders general retreat

Link to Campaign Blog

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