Battle of Brienne
The battle followed on the heels of reverses suffered by the French in both 1812, which had gutted the strength of the French Army, and 1813, where they fought against the Sixth Coalition. The Sixth Coalition had intentions of deposing Napoleon, dissolving the First French Empire, the battle took place near Brienne-le-Château, where Napoleon had attended military school in his early years. As the Allies advanced on France from three different directions, the French Emperor planned to attack and defeat each in turn, Napoleons first target was the spread-out force of some 17,000 Russians under Field Marshal Blücher. To battle his old adversary, Napoleon had a force of some 30,000 troops, Napoleon had tried to accomplish an envelopment of Bluchers whole force near the Aube River, but allied cavalry captured a set of the Emperors orders and Blucher avoided the trap. Additionally, rain had turned many area roads into mud, slowing Napoleons advance, Napoleon finally caught up with Blucher near Brienne.
The French emperor began the clash by pinning the enemy down while he organised a flanking attack, General Grouchys cavalry and horse artillery kept the Prussians occupied as marshals Ney and Victor secured both the town of Brienne and its chateau. About dusk, the chateau was captured by the French, when Blucher thought the battle was nearly over and his second-in-command General von Gneisenau only just managed to elude capture. During the heavy fighting Napoleon was almost taken prisoner by Russian Cossacks, the battle ended about midnight when the allies retreated. Blucher left behind some 4,000 casualties to Frances 3,000, the Brienner Straße in the Bavarian capital Munich is named after the battle to commemorate the Bavarian contribution in the battle
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, one of the greatest commanders in history, his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleons political and cultural legacy has ensured his status as one of the most celebrated and he was born Napoleone di Buonaparte in Corsica to a relatively modest family from the minor nobility. When the Revolution broke out in 1789, Napoleon was serving as an officer in the French army. Seizing the new opportunities presented by the Revolution, he rose through the ranks of the military. The Directory eventually gave him command of the Army of Italy after he suppressed a revolt against the government from royalist insurgents, in 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt that served as a springboard to political power.
He engineered a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic and his ambition and public approval inspired him to go further, and in 1804 he became the first Emperor of the French. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805, in 1806, the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. Napoleon quickly defeated Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, marched the Grand Army deep into Eastern Europe, France forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, bringing an uneasy peace to the continent. Tilsit signified the high watermark of the French Empire, hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia and declared his brother Joseph the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support, the Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, and ended in victory for the Allies.
The Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia, unwilling to bear the economic consequences of reduced trade, the Russians routinely violated the Continental System and enticed Napoleon into another war. The French launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the collapse of the Grand Army, the destruction of Russian cities, in 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France. A lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, the Allies invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April. He was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June, the British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died six years at the age of 51
Battle of Dennewitz
The Battle of Dennewitz took place on 6 September 1813 between the forces of the First French Empire and an army of Prussians and Russians of the Sixth Coalition. It occurred in Dennewitz, a village in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, in late August 1813, Napoleon decided to order a general offensive to take Berlin, the Prussian capital, with the overall goal of knocking the Prussians out of the war. Marshal Oudinots corps advanced towards this objective along three separate roads, the fighting that took place on 23 August was essentially three isolated actions at Blankenfield and Sputendorf. In each case the Allies prevailed and Oudinot retreated to Wittenberg, at this point Napoleon appointed Marshal Michel Ney to command. Ney, with around 58,000 men, renewed the advance on Berlin on 6 September and this was because he mistakenly expected Napoleon, away to the southeast near Dresden, to support him from this direction. He encountered mixed elements of Prussian and Swedish troops under the command of Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden at Dennewitz.
Ney had decided to move his army down a single road and was shadowed to the north by Bülows III Corps. While this allowed Ney to maintain communications with his entire army, as a result, the battle swayed back and forth with the arrival of fresh French and Allied reinforcements throughout its course. The Prussian General Tauentzien was at Juterbog, blocking Neys route to Berlin, Neys troops reached Dennewitz as Bülow was approaching Juterbog along an eastward route to their north. To keep Tuentzien and Bülow from uniting, the French occupied the north of Dennewitz now known as the Denkmalsberg. Despite early damage done to Tauentziens Corps, Bülow saved the situation by taking the hill and this was followed by a charge of the Brandenburg Dragoons down the hill. This gave time for the Prussian units which had earlier wavered to regroup, there were signs that all was not well in the French army at this time. The French empire was short of cavalry troops and mounts since the 1812 Russian campaign.
As a result, there was a lack of screening and reconnaissance, the French command situation was strained, as Oudinot was angered at being placed under Neys command. Marshal Ney was determined to advance with all haste to Berlin, initially forced back, the Prussian elements of Bernadottes army were reinforced by General Bülow and recovered the lost ground. Bülow would now assume command of the side for most of the remainder of the day. A see-sawing battle now developed, but just as the French appeared on the verge of a victory, not helped by a lack of support from Oudinot, made a mistake that swung the battle. Having joined in the fighting personally and being unaware of the situation due to a rainstorm on the battlefield
War of the Sixth Coalition
After the disastrous French invasion of Russia of 1812, the continental powers joined Russia, the United Kingdom and the rebels in Spain who were already at war with France. The War of the Sixth Coalition saw major battles at Lützen, the even larger Battle of Leipzig was the largest battle in European history before World War I. Ultimately, Napoleons earlier setbacks in Russia and Germany proved to be the seeds of his undoing, with their armies reorganized, the allies drove Napoleon out of Germany in 1813 and invaded France in 1814. The Allies defeated the remaining French armies, occupied Paris, and forced Napoleon to abdicate, the French monarchy was revived by the allies, who handed rule to the heir of the House of Bourbon in the Bourbon Restoration. This was not however the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon subsequently escaped from his captivity and returned to power in France, sparking the War of the Seventh Coalition in 1815. In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia to compel Emperor Alexander I to remain in the Continental System, the Grande Armée, consisting of as many as 650,000 men, crossed the Neman River on 23 June 1812.
Russia proclaimed a Patriotic War, while Napoleon proclaimed a Second Polish War, but against the expectations of the Poles, who supplied almost 100,000 troops for the invasion force, and having in mind further negotiations with Russia, he avoided any concessions toward Poland. Russian forces fell back, destroying everything potentially of use to the invaders until giving battle at Borodino where the two armies fought a devastating but inconclusive battle. Following the battle the Russians withdrew, thus opening the road to Moscow, by 14 September the French had occupied Moscow but found the city practically empty. Alexander I refused to capitulate, leaving the French in the city of Moscow with little food or shelter and winter approaching. In these circumstances, and with no path to victory. Total losses of the Grand Army were at least 370,000 casualties as a result of fighting and the weather conditions. By November, only 27,000 fit soldiers re-crossed the Berezina River, Napoleon now left his army to return to Paris and prepare a defence of Poland against the advancing Russians.
The situation was not as dire as it might at first have seemed, on 9 January 1812, French troops occupied Swedish Pomerania to end the illegal trade with the United Kingdom from Sweden, which was in violation of the Continental System. Swedish estates were confiscated and Swedish officers and soldiers were taken as prisoners, in response, Sweden declared neutrality and signed the secret Treaty of Saint Petersburg with Russia against France and Denmark–Norway on 5 April. On 18 July, the Treaty of Örebro formally ended the wars between Britain and Sweden and Britain and Russia, forming an alliance between Russia and Sweden. However, when Napoleon marched on Moscow, neither Britain nor Sweden would give any support to Russia. The alliance existed only on paper, according to the Treaty of Tilsit, Prussia had to support Napoleons invasion of Russia
Battle of Dresden
The Battle of Dresden was a major engagement of the Napoleonic Wars. The battle took place around the city of Dresden in modern-day Germany, with the recent addition of Austria, the Sixth Coalition felt emboldened in their quest to kick the French out of Central Europe. Despite being heavily outnumbered, French forces under Napoleon scored a modest victory against the Allied army led by Field Marshal Schwarzenberg, Napoleons victory did not lead to the collapse of the coalition, and the lack of effective French cavalry units precluded a major pursuit. A few days after the battle, the Allies surrounded and captured a French corps at the Battle of Kulm. On 16 August, Napoleon had sent Marshal Saint-Cyrs corps to fortify and hold Dresden in order to hinder allied movements and he planned to strike against the interior lines of his enemies and defeat them in detail, before they could combine their full strength. He had some 300,000 men and 800 cannons against allied forces totaling over 450,000 and 1200 cannons, but the Coalition avoided battle with Napoleon himself, choosing to attack his subordinate commanders instead.
On 23 August, at the Battle of Grossbeeren, south of Berlin, and on 26 August, Prussian Marshal Blücher defeated Marshal MacDonald at the Katzbach. In Dresden, French infantry manned the various redoubts and defensive positions and they hoped to last long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Sure enough, they got their wish, Napoleon arrived quickly and unexpectedly with reinforcements to repel this assault on the city. French counterattacks on the Great Garden in the southeast and on the center were successful. Although outnumbered three to two, Napoleon attacked the following morning, turned the allied left flank, and won a tactical victory. The flooded Weisseritz cut the wing of the Allied army, commanded by Johann von Klenau and Ignaz Gyulai. Marshal Joachim Murat took advantage of isolation and inflicted heavy losses on the Austrians. A French participant observed, Murat. cut off from the Austrian army Klenaus corps, nearly all his battalions were compelled to lay down their arms, and two other divisions of infantry shared their fate.
Gyulais divisions suffered losses when they were attacked by Murats cavalry during a rainstorm. With damp flints and powder, their muskets would not fire and many became a easy prey to the French cuirassiers. However, Napoleons failure to follow up on his success allowed Schwarzenberg to withdraw, the Coalition had lost some 38,000 men and 40 guns. Some of Napoleons officers noted he was suffering from a violent colic, on 27 August, General Vandamme received orders to advance on Pirna and bridge the Elbe there
Battle of the Bidassoa
In the Battle of the Bidasoa on 7 October 1813 the Allied army of Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington wrested a foothold on French soil from Nicolas Soults French army. The Allied troops overran the French lines behind the Bidassoa River on the coast, the nearest towns to the fighting are Irun on the lower Bidassoa and Bera on the middle Bidasoa. The battle occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the wider Napoleonic Wars, Wellington aimed his main assault at the lower Bidasoa, while sending additional troops to attack Soults center. Believing his coastal sector secure, Soult held the right flank with a weak force while concentrating most of his strength on his left flank in the mountains. However, the British general obtained local intelligence that indicated that water levels on the river were much lower than the French suspected. After careful planning, Wellington launched an assault which easily overran the French left flank defenses. In the center, his army won through the French defenses, at the beginning of the fighting, Soult realized that his left flank was in no danger, but it was too late to reinforce his positions on the right.
Some French generals were shocked at how poorly their soldiers fought, in the Battle of San Marcial on 31 August and 1 September 1813, Soults army was repelled in its final bid to advance into Spain. After a costly assault followed by a sack of the city. A French garrison held out in the Siege of Pamplona which would end in a surrender on October 31, Wellington determined to create a bridgehead across the Bidassoa River. If successful, his army would be the first Allied army to establish itself on French soil, the British commander wanted to capture French positions that overlooked the Allied lines on the west side of the Bidassoa. He had to hold a 48 km front in the Pyrenees mountains, the area was highly defensible, but lateral communications were poor. Deciding that the sector was the strongest part of his line. Reilles command included General of Division Antoine Louis Popon de Maucunes 3, 996-strong 7th Division and General of Division Pierre François Joseph Boyers 6, Maucune held the lower Bidassoa on the Bay of Biscay, while Boyer defended the stream farther inland.
Behind them was the camp of Bordagain and the port of St-Jean-de-Luz which were held by General of Division Eugene-Casimir Villattes 8. General of Division Bertrand Clausel held the center with 15,300 men under Generals of Division Nicolas François Conroux, Jean-Pierre Maransin, on the right, near the Bidassoa, stood the La Bayonette redoubt. Mont La Rhune rose in the center of Clausels sector and his left touched the Nivelle River near Ainhoa. Conrouxs 4th Division numbered 4,962 men, Maransins 5th Division counted 5,575 troops, Taupins 8th Division had 4,778 soldiers, Soults gunners and other troops added up to 2,000 and his total forces numbered 55,088 effectives