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.

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