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.

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