Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Link to 1813 Tortosa Campaign

The next phase of the 1813 campaign will be in north east Spain and will deal with the Spanish attempt to take the city of Tortosa.

I have started a new blog for that phase and you can find it at


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Campaign Summary

23 July 1813

Having crossed the river Elbe Blucher orders his corps to advance west until they make contact with the French. His strategic objective is Hanover, but he can not develop a plan until he locates the enemy corps.

Davout has received reports of a large scale Prussian advance over the river Elbe. He has ordered his corps to move east and take up defensive positions between Uelzen and Brunswick.

24 July 1813

The first battle of the campaign was east of the northern town of Uelzen.

This was an encounter battle between Reynier’s IV corps and Kleist’s 2nd corps.

Reynier was defeated and retreated towards Munster

Both corps suffered light casualties

25 July 1813

A second encounter battle to the south between Steinhorst and Bodenteich

This time a French victory as Laurison’s V corps defeated Yorck’s 1st corps

Yorck retreated east towards Salzwedel

Both corps suffered medium casualties

26 July 1813

When Marmont received news of the French victory he ordered an advance on Wolfsburg

Another French victory despite a determined defence by Tauentzien.

VI corps entered Wolfsburg and 4th corps withdrew east towards Kalbe

Light casualties meant both corps would soon be operational again

27 July 1813

Second Uelzen was the result of Kleist marching south to support Tauentzien

Reynier took advantage by marching to occupy Uelzen

IV corps took Uelzen but 2nd corps managed to regain the Rosche road

Kleist suffered heavy casualties, leaving Reynier in a strong position

28 July 1813

After their third defeat of the campaign, the Prussian army retreated east to gain time to rest and recover.

The French had also suffered casualties, and Davout allowed them this one day to rest and recover.

29 July 1813

Blucher attacked XIII corps at Helmstedt with 3rd and 4th corps

Poniatowski withdrew east to allow time for VI corps to arrive

Marmont waited for orders and arrived too late to join the battle

XIII corps was broken and routed west on the Hanover road

30 July 1813

Two battles, one at Rosche and a second at Wolfsburg

Reynier attacked Kleist east of Rosche expecting an easy victory

2nd corps fought with great determination, and eventually won the day

Both corps suffered heavy casualties

IV corps withdrew in disorder leaving their artillery behind

Wolfsburg was a complicated battle

Yorck and Marmont fought for possession of the town.

Both were attacked from the rear during this fight

In the confusion 1st Prussian corps had to surrender two brigades

Prussians lost and retreated south towards Helmstedt.

31 July 1813

Prussian 1st and 4th corps retreated to Helmstedt

French V and VI followed them

Blucher ordered 3rd corps to abandon march on Hanover

By nightfall three Prussian corps were concentrated against two French

1 August 1813

Davout fought Second Helmstedt to stop the Prussian advance on Hanover

He attacked with V and VI corps

Blucher held Helmstedt with 1st and 2nd corps and was much weaker than Davout

He ordered 3rd corps to abandon their march on Hanover and return to Helmstedt

The result was a convincing Prussian victory

2 August 1813

Davout fled from the battlefield along the Wesendorf road with V and VI corps

His only desire was to put as many miles between him and Blucher as possible

He was relieved to find that the Prussian’s had not mounted a pursuit

Blucher had spent the day regrouping 1st, 3rd and 4th corps on the Brunswick road

He was determined to march on Hanover in overwhelming force

2nd Prussian corps was ordered south to guard his lines of communications

3 August 1813

Davout was relieved that the Prussians had not mounted a pursuit

By nightfall he had reached Celle with IV, V and VI corps.

Both V and VI corps carried battle casualties and were in need of a rest

A report from XIII corps at Peine that the Prussians were expected to attack at daybreak

He promised Poniatowski that if he decided to fight, Davout would march to support him

West of Peine Blucher prepared his three corps to attack at first light

4 August 1813

XIII corps decided to fight to hold Peine

Davout agreed to support them with IV, V and VI

IV corps did not arrive, but marched on Brunswick instead

Blucher attacked Peine with 1st, 3rd and 4th corps and won the battle

XIII corps routed towards Hanover

Davout held a council of war with V and VI to decide what to do next

Unaware that IV corps was at Brunswick they decided to retreat to Celle.

5 August 1813

Second Peine was a disaster for the French

IV corps attacked Peine from Brunswick at first light

Unaware of their approach Davout had ordered V and VI corps to retreat to Celle.

The three Prussian corps were regrouping after yesterday’s battle.

IV corps attack on the farm caught Blucher by surprise.

1st corps occupied the hill on their left and forced them to redeploy

IV corps failed to take the farm and lost two brigades

The remainder of the corps advanced towards the Celle road

They were held by 3rd and 4th corps, broke and fled back towards Brunswick

Another convincing victory for the Prussians.

6 August 1813

Blucher has entered Hanover and achieved his campaign objective

He has secured his lines of communication with Magdeburg

He has abandoned his pursuit of Davout in order to rest his army

Davout is fleeing north to Hamburg with V, VI and XIII corps

IV corps is also retreating to Hamburg, but in better order.

The campaign has been a convincing victory for Blucher

Campaign Casualties

At the end of the campaign total casualties are as follows:

IV French Corps

13 Infantry Brigade - 4

14 Infantry Brigade - 3

15 Infantry Brigade - 8

16 Infantry Brigade - 3

4 Cavalry Brigade - 0

4 Corps Artillery - 0

V French Corps

17 Infantry Brigade - 3

18 Infantry Brigade - 8

19 Infantry Brigade - 8

20 Infantry Brigade - 2

5 Cavalry Brigade - 3

5 Corps Artillery - 0

VI French Corps

21 Infantry Brigade - 8

22 Infantry Brigade - 7

23 Infantry Brigade - 0

24 Infantry Brigade - 3

6 Cavalry Brigade - 2

6 Corps Artillery – 4 (lost guns)

XIII French Corps

1 Infantry Brigade - 4

2 Infantry Brigade - 1

3 Infantry Brigade - 3

4 Infantry Brigade - 2

13 Cavalry Brigade - 0

13 Corps Artillery - 0

1 Prussian Corps

1 Infantry Brigade - 7

2 Infantry Brigade - 8

3 Infantry Brigade - 1

4 Infantry Brigade - 8

1 Cavalry Brigade - 2

1 Corps Artillery - 0

2 Prussian Corps

5 Infantry Brigade - 0

6 Infantry Brigade - 0

7 Infantry Brigade - 4

8 Infantry Brigade - 0

2 Cavalry Brigade - 0

2 Corps Artillery - 0

3 Prussian Corps

9 Infantry Brigade - 2

10 Infantry Brigade - 1

11 Infantry Brigade - 5

12 Infantry Brigade - 5

3 Cavalry Brigade - 4

3 Corps Artillery - 0

4 Prussian Corps

13 Infantry Brigade - 1

14 Infantry Brigade - 4

15 Infantry Brigade - 1

16 Infantry Brigade - 0

4 Cavalry Brigade - 2

4 Corps Artillery - 1

Campaign Move 45 – French Escape Prussian Pursuit

1600-2000 6 August 1813

2000 6 August 1813

4th Prussian corps have entered Hanover and secured the city

1st and 3rd Prussian corps have secured the lines of communication to Magdeburg

2nd Prussian corps are too far from Berkhof to attack the town

Davout’s V, VI and XIII corps have all reached Berkhof and will clear the town before daybreak. 2nd Prussian corps has failed to take the town in time to cut their line of retreat to Hamburg.

IV corps has reached Wiesendorf and their retreat to Hamburg is secure.

Davout has abandoned his communications with his main supply depot at Hanover, and all four corps of his army are out of supply.

He has managed to break contact with the Prussian pursuit, but has had to abandon most of his artillery and baggage to do so.

Blucher has secured Hanover and achieved his campaign objective. He has also inflicted a crushing defeat on Davout.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Campaign Move 44 - French in Flight

1200-1600 6 August 1813

1600 6 August 1813

Prussian cavalry have entered Hanover and have thus achieved their campaign objective.

However Blucher still wants to corner the fleeing French, or at the very least prevent them from rallying.

He is approaching Hanover with the main body of 4th corps.

3rd corps has lost contact with IV corps and is marching on Brunswick. The Prussian lines of supply to Magdeburg are now open

2nd corps has entered Celle and is surprised to find no trace of XIII corps. Their cavalry report the presence of a large body of the enemy at Berkhof. The enemy is too large t o engage and the cavalry have fallen back towards Celle.

IV corps has broken contact with the Prussians and is making its way north to Hamburg via Wiesendorf.

V, VI and XIII corps are now all under the command of Davout, and are marching north to Hamburg via Berkhof. As they approach the town they encounter Prussian cavalry approaching from Celle. Davout orders XIII corps to secure the town to allow the badly battered V and VI corps to continue north.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Campaign Move 43 – French Army in Flight

0800-1200 6 August 1813

1200 6 August 1813

As the scale of his defeat at Peine sunk in Davout realised that his last chance of saving Hanover had gone. As he left the battlefield he issued orders for all four French corps to make their way to Hamburg as best they could.

He led the much depleted V and VI corps north towards Celle. His leading brigade reported that the town was held by Prussian cavalry, and he was well aware that neither corps was in any condition to fight to take the town. Both corps were ordered to abandon all of their wheeled baggage and flee cross country towards Berkhof.

IV corps had returned to Brunswick during the night, and as they arrived received Davout’s orders to march to Hamburg. At first light they march north towards Wisendorf, all of the time anxious for any sign of 2nd Prussian corps.

XIII corps had already abandoned Hanover. Before down they received orders which Davout had written at noon the previous day, ordering them to retreat to Hamburg. At first light they marched north towards Berkhof.

Blucher rested his army on the battlefield overnight. He was aware that Davout had retreated towards Celle and Reynier towards Brunswick. But he had not received any reports about Poniatowski at Hanover. He was determined to pursue the French and prevent them halting and rallying.

The badly depleted 1st corps was ordered to garrison Peine. 4th corps would march on Hanover at first light and secure the campaign objective. 3rd corps would march on Brunswick and pursue IV corps. The last report from 2nd corps confirmed that they were approaching Celle, and he was convinced that they would capture Davout.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Campaign Move 42 – Battle of Peine Day Two

1600 - 2000 5 August 1813

Table at 2000

The Prussians were badly deployed to meet the combined attack of the three French corps. 1st corps held the hill, but had no enemy within artillery range. They were waiting for new orders from Blucher. 3rd corps had left the farm, but were not yet in position to hold V and VI corps. 4th corps had won the fight for the farm, but were still widely dispersed. Their artillery were covering the same area of 1st corps artillery and were also without any enemy target.

Blucher had taken personal command of 4th corps, because he did not trust Tauentzien to handle his largest and reserve corps. They had to move from reserve around Peine to deploy around the farm. Their initial deployment was to meet the expected IV corps attack between the farm and the hill, but the French had moved their attack to the north against 3rd corps.

IV corps attack was short lived.

A Prussian square held the French cuirassiers at bay. Two infantry brigades advanced against the square, but in doing so screened their own artillery. The square held their own against the leading brigade, which allowed a second brigade to advance through the farm and charge the flank of the two French brigades.

The leading French brigade was cut down. The cuirassiers were on the far right wing, and unable to come to their support. The second infantry brigade broke and ran into the nearby gunners. Both the gunners and the cavalry were shaken.

Seeing the destruction of IV corps, Davout ordered V and VI to fall back towards Celle. It was too late for V corps, who were already broken and running away, taking their cavalry with them. Only VI corps remained to cover the retreat.

It was not necessary to order IV corps to withdraw towards Brunswick, the four infantry brigades were already broken and running in that direction. The cavalry soon broke and followed, leaving the gunners to withdraw their guns as best they could.

As night fell both wings of the French army were in headlong retreat. Half towards Brunswick and half towards Celle. Blucher’s three corps were in no position to launch an immediate pursuit, but could be expected to do so at first light.

If Celle was indeed held by 2nd Prussian corps Davout is in serious trouble.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Campaign Move 41 – Battle of Peine Day Two

1200 - 1600 5 August 1813

Table at 1600

The appearance of IV corps has caught Blucher by surprise, and he is slow to deploy his army to meet the new threat.

1st corps are dispatched to take the high ground south of the farm. 3rd corps move from the farm to face the Celle road. 4th corps are ordered to garrison the farm as their left flank and deploy between the farm and the high ground allocated to 1st corps.

The Prussians started the battle with only one cavalry brigade, and lost that in the early moves. So their deployment is much disrupted by the two French cavalry brigades.

Davout has two corps available on the Celle road, but both of them are below half strength. One has already started to retire to Celle, and is now marching back. He can not take any offensive action until both are ready to advance.

So throughout this period IV corps set the pace. Reynier is determined to attack the Prussians, not just join forces with Davout. To this end he intends to take the farm, and split the enemy in half. He has deployed his corps to take the farm with his right wing, and hit 4th corps before they can deploy. He is unaware that 1st corps have orders to take the hill which overlooks his left flank.

As IV corps approach the farm, 1st corps deploy on the hill within canister range of their left flank. Reynier orders his corps to swing to the right, which will bring him nearer to Davout. His left wing will now attack the farm, and his right wing hit 3rd corps as they deploy to meet Davout.

Davout joins Reynier and orders him to attack the farm. 1st corps artillery continue to fire on the nearest brigade and 4th corps artillery deploy to support the farm. By the time the two French brigades reach the farm they have already suffered casualties, and are soon driven out of the farm in rout.

All now depends on the right wing of IV corps. The cuirassier brigade is held in check by a Prussian square, but the remaining two infantry brigades now advance to attack. The artillery is unable to support, as they have had to redeploy from the left to the right flank.

As IV corps attack starts Davout receives a report that Prussian cavalry have been sighted approaching Celle. The loss of that town would cut his only line of retreat. He surmises that the cavalry belong to 2nd Prussian corps, and if they take Celle he would be caught between two Prussian forces.

He must decide whether to order an immediate withdrawal and secure his lines of communication, or to advance to support Reynier and hopefully smash Blucher. He orders an advance on the farm. It is now all or nothing.