Battle of Eylau

The Battle of Eylau or Battle of Preussisch-Eylau, 7 and 8 February 1807, was a bloody and inconclusive battle between Napoleon's Grande Armée and the Imperial Russian Army under the command of Levin August von Bennigsen near the town of Preussisch Eylau in East Prussia.[7] Late in the battle, the Russians received timely reinforcements from a Prussian division of von L'Estocq. After 1945 the town was renamed Bagrationovsk as a part of Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. The engagement was fought during the War of the Fourth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Of all Napoleonic battles, this is considered to be the most uncertain and mysterious for several reasons—mainly the strength of Murat's reserve cavalry.

Napoleon's armies previously smashed the army of the Austrian Empire in the Ulm Campaign and the combined Austrian and Russian armies at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805. On 14 October 1806 Napoleon crushed the armies of the Kingdom of Prussia at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt and hunted down the scattered Prussians at Prenzlau, Lübeck, Erfurt, Pasewalk, Stettin, Magdeburg and Hamelin.

In late January Bennigsen's Russian army went on the offensive in East Prussia, pushing far to the west. Napoleon reacted by mounting a counteroffensive to the north, hoping to prevent their retreat to the east. After his Cossacks captured a copy of Napoleon's orders, Bennigsen rapidly withdrew to the northeast to avoid being cut off. The French pursued for several days and found the Russians drawn up for battle at Eylau.

In a vicious evening clash the French captured the village, with heavy losses on both sides. The following day brought even more serious fighting. Early in the battle a frontal attack by Napoleon failed, with catastrophic losses. To reverse the situation, the emperor launched a massed cavalry charge against the Russians. This bought enough time for the French right wing to throw its weight into the contest. Soon the Russian left wing was bent back at an acute angle and Bennigsen's army was in danger of collapse. A Prussian corps belatedly arrived and saved the day by pushing back the French right. As darkness fell, a French corps tardily appeared on the French left. That night Bennigsen decided to retreat, leaving Napoleon in possession of a snowy battlefield covered with thousands of dead and wounded. Eylau was the first serious check to the Grande Armée, and the myth of Napoleon's invincibility was badly shaken. However, the French would go on to win the war by decisively defeating the Russians on 14 June at the Battle of Friedland.

Battle of Eylau
Part of the War of the Fourth Coalition
"Napoleon on the field of Eylau" by Antoine-Jean Gros

Napoléon on the Battlefield of Eylau by Antoine-Jean Gros.
Date7–8 February 1807
Location
Result Inconclusive
Belligerents
France French Empire Russia Russian Empire
Kingdom of Prussia Prussia
Commanders and leaders
France Napoleon I Russia Levin August von Bennigsen
Kingdom of Prussia Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq
Strength
75,000:[1]
Napoleon: 45,000
Ney: 14,500
Davout: 15,000
300 guns
76,000:[1]
Russia Bennigsen: 67,000
Kingdom of Prussia L'Estocq: 9,000
400 guns
Casualties and losses
15,000–29,643[2] 15,000[3][4]–23,000[5][6]

Prelude

With the Prussian army routed at Jena-Auerstedt, Napoléon occupied the major cities of Germany and marched east in pursuit of the remaining forces opposed to him. These were largely Russians under the command of the frail 68-year-old Field Marshal Count Mikhail Kamensky. The old marshal was unwilling to risk battle and continued to retreat, leaving the Grande Armée free to enter Poland almost unopposed. Nevertheless, as the French pressed aggressively eastward across the Vistula, they found the Russians defending the line of the Wkra River. The French seized a crossing over the Wkra on 23 December at the Battle of Czarnowo. Russian resistance soon stiffened and on 26 December the two armies clashed at the Battles of Pułtusk and Gołymin. After these fierce engagements Napoléon's troops took up winter quarters in Poland to recuperate after a victorious but exhausting campaign.

Eylau Campaign Map 1807
The Eylau campaign map shows movements up to the Battle of Mohrungen on 25 January. German names are used for East Prussian towns. See text for Polish names.

In January 1807 new Russian army commander Levin August von Bennigsen attempted to surprise the French left wing by shifting the bulk of his army north from Nowogród to East Prussia. Incorporating a Prussian corps on his right, he first bumped into elements of the VI Corps of Marshal Michel Ney, who had disobeyed his emperor's orders and advanced far north of his assigned winter cantonments. Having cleared Ney's troops out of the way, the Russians rolled down on the isolated French I Corps under Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Tough fighting at the Battle of Mohrungen allowed Bernadotte's corps to escape serious damage and pull back to the southwest. With his customary inventiveness, Napoléon saw an opportunity to turn the situation to his own advantage. He instructed Bernadotte to withdraw before Bennigsen's forces, and ordered the balance of the Grande Armée to strike northward. This maneuver might envelop the Russian army's left flank and cut off its retreat to the east. By a stroke of luck, a band of Cossacks captured a messenger carrying Napoleon's plans to Bernadotte and quickly forwarded the information to Gen. Pyotr Bagration. Bernadotte was left unawares and a forewarned Bennigsen immediately ordered a retreat east to Jonkowo to avoid the trap.

As Bennigsen hurriedly assembled his army at Jonkowo, elements of Marshal Nicolas Soult's IV Corps reached a position on his left rear on 3 February.[8] That day General of Division Jean François Leval clashed with Lt. Gen. Nikolay Kamensky's 14th Division at Bergfried (Berkweda) on the Alle (Łyna) River, which flows roughly northward in the area. The French reported 306 casualties while claiming to inflict 1,100 on their adversaries.[9] After seizing Allenstein (Olsztyn), Soult moved north on the east bank of the Alle. Meanwhile, Napoleon threatened Bennigsen from the south with Marshal Pierre Augereau's VII Corps and Ney's forces. Kamensky held the west bank with four Russian battalions and three Prussian artillery batteries.[8] After an initial attack on Bergfried was driven back, the French captured the village and bridge. A Russian counterattack briefly recaptured the bridge. That night the French remained in possession of the field and Soult claimed that he found 800 Russian dead there.[10] Marching at night, Bennigsen retreated directly north to Wolfsdorf (Wilczowo) on the 4th. The next day he fell back to the northeast, reaching Burgerswalde on the road to Landsberg (Górowo Iławeckie).[11]

By early February the Russian army was in full retreat, relentlessly pursued by the French. After several aborted attempts to stand and fight, Bennigsen resolved to retreat to the town of Preussisch-Eylau and there make a stand. During the pursuit, perhaps influenced by the dreadful state of the Polish roads, the savage winter weather and the relative ease with which his forces had dealt with Prussia, Napoléon had allowed the Grande Armée to become more spread out than was his custom. In contrast, Bennigsen's forces were already concentrated.

First day

Battle of Preussisch Eylau Map1
Battle of Eylau in the early stages. French shown in red, Russians in green, Prussians in blue.

Marshal Soult's IV Corps and Marshal Murat's cavalry were the first French formations to reach the plateau before Eylau at about 14:00 on the 7th. The Russian rearguard under Prince Bagration occupied positions on the plateau about a mile in front of Eylau. The French promptly assaulted these positions and were repulsed. Bagration's orders were to offer stiff resistance in order to gain time for Bennigsen's heavy artillery to pass through Eylau and join the Russian army in its position beyond Eylau. During the afternoon the French were reinforced by Marshal Augereau's corps and the Imperial Guard, giving him a force of about 45,000 soldiers in all. Under pressure of greatly superior forces, Bagration conducted an orderly retreat to join the main army. It was covered by another rear-guard detachment in Eylau led by Barclay de Tolly.

The rear-guard action continued when French forces advanced to assault Barclay's forces in the town of Eylau. Historians differ on the reasons. Napoléon later claimed that this was on his orders, that the advance had the dual aims of pinning the Russian force to prevent them retreating yet again and providing his soldiers with at least some shelter against the terrible cold. Other surviving evidence, however, strongly suggests that the advance was unplanned and occurred as the result of an undisciplined skirmish which Marshals Soult and Murat should have acted to quell but did not. Whether or not Napoléon and his generals had considered securing the town in order to provide the soldiers with shelter for the freezing night, the soldiers may have taken action on their own initiative to secure such a shelter. According to Capt. Marbot, the Emperor told Marshal Augereau that he disliked night fighting, that he wanted to wait until the morning so that he could count on Davout's Corps to come up on the right wing and Ney's on the left and that the high ground before Eylau was a good, easily defensible position on which to wait for reinforcements.

Bennigsen
Levin August Bennigsen

.

Whatever the cause of the fight for the town, it rapidly escalated into a large and bitterly fought engagement, continuing well after night had fallen and resulting in about 4,000 casualties to each side, including Barclay, who was shot in the arm and forced to leave the battlefield. Among other officers, French Brig. Gen. Pierre-Charles Lochet was shot and killed. At 22:00 Bennigsen ordered the Russians to retreat a short distance, leaving the town to the French. He later claimed he abandoned the town to lure the French into attacking his center the next day. Despite their possession of the town, most of the French spent the night in the open, as did all of the Russians. Both sides did without food—the Russians because of their habitual disorganization, the French because of problems with the roads, the weather and the crush of troops hurrying towards the battle.

During the night Bennigsen withdrew some of his troops from the front line to strengthen his reserve. This resulted in the shortening of his right wing.

Second day

Battle of Preussisch Eylau Map2
Battle of Eylau early on the second day. French shown in red, Russians in green, Prussians in blue.

Bennigsen had 67,000 Russian troops and 400 guns already assembled, while the French had only 49,000 troops and 300 guns. The Russians could expect to be reinforced by Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq's detachment of 9,000 Prussians, the French by Marshal Davout's depleted III Corps—proud victors of Auerstedt but now only 15,000 strong—and Marshal Ney's 14,000-strong VI Corps (making a total of 74,000 men), which was shadowing the Prussians. Bernadotte's I Corps was too far distant to take part.

Dawn brought light but little warmth and no great improvement in visibility: the heavy snowstorms continued throughout the day. The opposing forces occupied two parallel ridges. The French were active early on probing the Russian position, particularly on the Russian right. Bennigsen, fearing that the French would discover he had shortened his right, opened the battle by ordering his artillery to fire on the French. The French replied and the ensuing artillery duel lasted for some time, with the French having the best of it because of their more dispersed locations.

The start of the artillery duel galvanized Napoleon. Until then he had expected the Russians to continue their retreat. Now he knew he had a fight on his hands. Messengers hurriedly were dispatched to Ney, ordering him to march on Eylau and join the French left wing.

Meanwhile, the French had occupied in force some fullering mill buildings within musket range of the Russian right wing. Russian jagers ejected them. Both sides escalated the fight, with the Russians assaulting the French left on Windmill Knoll to the left of Eylau. Napoleon interpreted the Russian efforts on his left as a prelude to an attack on Eylau from that quarter. By this time Davout's III Corps began to arrive on the Russian left.

To forestall the perceived Russian attack on Eylau and pin the Russian army so that Davout's flank attack would be more successful, Napoleon launched an attack against the Russian center and left, with Augereau's VII Corps on the left and Saint-Hilaire's Division of Soult's IV Corps on the right.

Equestrian portrait of Joachim Murat
Portrait of Joachim Murat by Antoine-Jean Gros

.

Augereau was very ill, having to be helped onto his horse. Fate intervened to turn the attack into a disaster. As soon as the French marched off a blizzard descended, causing all direction to be lost. Augereau's corps followed the slope of the land and veered off to the left, away from Saint-Hilaire. Augereau's advance struck the Russian line at the junction of its right and center, coming under the fire of the blinded French artillery and then point-blank fire of the massive 70-gun Russian center battery. Meanwhile, Saint-Hilaire's division, advancing alone in the proper direction, was unable to have much effect against the Russian left.

Augereau's corps was thrown into great confusion with heavy losses,[12] gives Augereau's official tally of 929 killed and 4,271 wounded. One regiment, the 14th Ligne, was unable to retreat and fought to the last man, refusing to surrender; its eagle was carried off by Capt. Marbot. Its position would be marked by a square of corpses.[13] Bennigsen took full advantage, falling on Saint-Hilaire's division with more cavalry and bringing up his reserve infantry to attack the devastated French center. Augereau and 3,000-4,000 survivors fell back on Eylau, where they were attacked by about 5,000 Russian infantry. At one point Napoléon himself, using the church tower as a command post, was nearly captured but members of his personal staff held the Russians off for just long enough to allow some battalions of the Guard to come up. Counterattacked by the Guard's bayonet charge and Bruyère's cavalry in their rear, the attacking Russian column was nearly destroyed.[14] For four hours the French center was in great disorder, virtually defenseless and in imminent danger.[15]

With his center almost broken, Napoléon resorted to ordering a massive charge by Murat's 11,000-strong cavalry reserve—aside from the Guard, the last major unbloodied body of troops remaining to the French.

Battle of Eylau 1807 by Jean-Antoine-Siméon
Cavalry charge painted by Jean-Antoine-Siméon Fort.

.

Cavalry charge at Eylau

Battle of Preussisch Eylau Map3
Battle of Eylau after Davout's attack late in the day. French shown in red, Russians in green, Prussians in blue.

Thus began one of the greatest cavalry charges in history. Somewhat obscured by the weather, Murat's squadrons charged through the Russian infantry around Eylau and then divided into two groups. The group on the right, Grouchy's dragoons, charged into the flank of the Russian cavalry attacking Saint-Hilaire's division and scattered them completely. Now led by Murat himself, the dragoons wheeled left against the Russian cavalry in the center and, joined by d'Hautpoult's cuirassier division, drove the Russian cavalry back on their infantry. Fresh Russian cavalry forced Murat and the dragoons to retire, but d'Hautpoult's cuirassiers burst through everything and the broken Russians were cut to pieces by fresh regiments of cuirassiers. D'Hautpoult then rode through the Russian guns, chasing off or sabering the gunners, and broke through the first line of Russian infantry, trampling a battalion that attempted to stand. The cuirassiers forced their way through the second line of Russians and only after 2,500 yards did the charge finally expend its force in front of the Russian reserves. A second wave of cavalry consisting of the Guards and Grouchy's dragoons now charged the Russians as they attempted to reform and also rode through both lines of infantry. Another group charged into the Russian infantry in the area where Augereau's corps had made its stand. Not content with these heavy blows, the cavalry reformed, wheeled and charged back again, finally retiring under the protection of the Guard cavalry. Murat had lost 1,000-1,500 well-trained troopers,[16] but relieved the pressure on Augereau, Saint-Hilaire and Soult, paralyzing the Russians long enough to allow Davout to deploy in strength. Rarely had French cavalry played such a pivotal part in a battle; in part this was because, for the first time, Murat's men were now mounted on the best cavalry horses in Europe, freshly requisitioned in the aftermath of the conquest of Prussia.

Davout's corps, about 15,000 strong, was now in position and began to drive in the Russian left. Despite the disarray of the Russian center, Napoléon declined to follow up Murat's charge by advancing with the Guard. Such a move might have decisively won the battle, but Napoléon, well aware that 9,000 Prussians under L'Estocq and his chief of staff Gerhard von Scharnhorst were still unaccounted for, judged it wise to retain the Guard in reserve. Through the afternoon Soult, Augereau and Murat managed to hold their ground while Davout, assisted by Saint-Hilaire, gradually bent the Russian left back further and further, pushing it to a right angle with the Russian center. By 15:30 it seemed that the Russian cohesion would soon break, as their left was in full retreat.[17]

For several crucial hours Bennigsen could not be found; he had personally ridden to L'Estocq to urge that general to hasten the march of his Prussian corps to the battlefield. His mission was successful; L'Estocq's 9,000-man Prussian force, having lost a third of its strength to Ney's pursuit, approached the battlefield via the Russian right and passed completely behind the Russian position to its left wing, gathering strength in doing so by collecting Russian stragglers and adding them to the 6,000 remaining Prussian troops. At 16:00 L'Estocq counterattacked by falling on Davout's exposed right flank, and the heartened Russians soon launched a fresh attack against Davout. Over the next three hours Davout was halted and forced back to a line running from the village of Kutschitten to near the village of Anklappen towards Saint-Hilaire's right by Eylau.[18] Davout, alert to the danger, formed a battery of his guns on the heights of Klein Sausgarten and personally rallied his troops while his guns drove the Prussians back into the woods. With nightfall exhaustion set in and fighting on the Russian left petered out.

By then the roar of cannons on the Russian right announced Ney's arrival. Napoleon had not recalled Ney until 08:00 of the 8th when he realized that the Russians intended to fight. Although Ney was within marching distance of the battle, the heavy snow had muffled the sound of cannon fire and he was completely unaware of events until a messenger reached him around 10:30. Somewhat delayed by L'Estocq's rear guard, the leading division of Ney's corps did not reach the battlefield until around 19:00 and immediately swept forward into the Russian right and rear. Bennigsen counterattacked. Bitter fighting continued until 22:00, at which point both sides drew off a little. After a contentious council of war with several of his generals forcefully arguing for continuing the fight for a third day, at 23:00 Bennigsen decided to withdraw and, covered by the Cossacks, the Russians silently began to leave. The exhausted French did not even notice until 03:00 and were in no condition to pursue.

Result

After 14 hours of continuous battle, the only result was enormous loss of life. Authors differ greatly in their assessments of the relative losses: estimates of Russian casualties range from about 15,000[3][4] to 20,000 killed or wounded and 3,000 men, 23 cannon and 16 colors captured.[6] Count von Bennigsen estimated his losses at up to 9,000 dead and 7,000 wounded.[19] The French lost somewhere between 10,000–15,000[20] and 25,000–30,000[21][22][23] with five eagles lost. David G. Chandler suggested as many as 25,000 French casualties,[3] although conceding it is impossible to be certain.[24] According to estimates of German historian Horst Schulz, the French lost 4,893 men killed, 23,598 wounded and 1,152 missing in action, which makes a total of 29,643.[25]

The French had gained possession of the battlefield—nothing but a vast expanse of bloodstained snow and frozen corpses—but they had suffered enormous losses and failed to destroy the Russian army. Riding over the fields of Eylau the following morning, Marshal Ney observed: "Quel massacre! Et sans résultat" ("What a massacre! And without result").[26]

The inconclusive Battle of Eylau was a major contrast to the decisive victories that characterized Napoleon's earlier campaigns. By halting the French advance and leaving the two sides exhausted but evenly matched, it served only to prolong the war. After the battle Napoleon sent Gen. Bertrand to the King of Prussia to offer a separate peace, which would see French forces withdraw from Prussia and her borders completely restored. Prussia, wishing to continue its alliance with Russia, quickly rejected this offer.[27] Hostilities continued until the decisive French victory at the Battle of Friedland in June 1807 forced Tsar Alexander I to the negotiating table. After a personal meeting between the two emperors, both sides signed the peace Treaties of Tilsit. They were much harsher on Prussia than the earlier peace offer, resulting in the loss of almost half of its territory.

The surgeon-in-chief of Napoleon's Grand Army, Baron Dominique-Jean Larrey, served the wounded with the flesh of young horses as soup and bœuf à la mode. The good results encouraged him to promote the consumption of horse meat in France.[28]

In popular culture

Antoine-Jean Gros painted Napoléon visitant le champ de bataille d'Eylau le 9 février 1807 in Paris in 1808.[29]

The Battle of Eylau forms the early part of the novel The Schirmer Inheritance (1953) by Eric Ambler. The brutal battle and its immediate aftermath are depicted from the point of view of an ordinary soldier, a Prussian cavalry sergeant, who is severely wounded by a French saber in the later part of the confused fighting and whose only chance of saving his life is to desert and find shelter with Polish peasants in the neighborhood.

In the novel Le Colonel Chabert of French author Honoré de Balzac, Eylau is the battle where the colonel describes having been mistakenly reported as killed.

The Battle of Eylau was reconstructed in the home computer strategy game Napoleon at War released by C.C.S. in 1986 and written by Ken Wright.

The second day of the battle was shown in the miniseries "Napoléon".

Footnotes

  1. ^ This was administered by Poland as Iławka between 1945–46. It is now in the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast, and was renamed Bagrationovsk in 1946, after the Russian general who commanded part of the Russian army.
  1. ^ a b Chandler 1966, p. 536.
  2. ^ Chandler suggests that casualties may have been as high as 25,000 but concedes the actual number cannot be determined (Chandler 1966, p. 548); Franceschi & Weider 2007, p. 118 gives 14,000; Connelly 2005, p. 137 suggests probably over 15,000. Other sources suggest that their losses approached almost 30,000. See: Major Edward J. Murphy. A Tarnished Eagle: Napoleon's Winter Campaign In Poland, December 1806 Through February 1807. Pickle Partners Publishing, 2014, F. Loraine Petre. Napoleon's Campaign In Poland 1806-1807. Frontline Books, 2001. P. 205, Dwyer Ph. Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power 1799-1815. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013. According to the estimates of the German historian Horst Schulz, the French lost 4,893 men killed, 23,598 wounded and 1,152 missed in action, which makes a total of 29,643. See: H. Schulz. Der Kreis Preußisch-Eylau. Geschichte und Dokumentation eines ostpreußischen Landkreises. Verden/Aller. 1983. S. 99.
  3. ^ a b c David G. Chandler. The Campaigns of Napoleon. Simon and Schuster. 2009. P. 1119
  4. ^ a b F. Loraine Petre. Napoleon's Campaign In Poland 1806-1807. Frontline Books. 2001. P. XI
  5. ^ Asprey 2008, p. 58.
  6. ^ a b Franceschi & Weider 2007, p. 118.
  7. ^ Haythornthwaite 1996, Chapter 3.
  8. ^ a b Petre 1976, pp. 150–151.
  9. ^ Smith 1998, p. 240.
  10. ^ Petre 1976, p. 152.
  11. ^ Petre 1976, p. 154–155.
  12. ^ Petre 1976, p. 178.
  13. ^ Petre 1976, p. 197.
  14. ^ Petre 1976, p. 180.
  15. ^ Petre 1976, p. 202.
  16. ^ Petre 1976, p. 183.
  17. ^ Petre 1976, p. 188.
  18. ^ Petre 1976, p. 194.
  19. ^ П. М. Майков. Записки графа Л. Л. Беннигсена о войне с Наполеоном 1807 года. СПб. 1990. С. 148 (in Russian)
  20. ^ Connelly 2005, p. 137 suggests probably over 15,000. Franceschi & Weider 2007, p.  gives 14,000.
  21. ^ Adams. M. Napoleon and Russia. A&C Black. 2014. P. 155
  22. ^ F. Loraine Petre. Napoleon's Campaign In Poland 1806-1807. Frontline Books, 2001. P. 205
  23. ^ Dwyer Ph. Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power 1799-1815. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013
  24. ^ Chandler 1966, p. 548.
  25. ^ H. Schulz. Der Kreis Preußisch-Eylau. Geschichte und Dokumentation eines ostpreußischen Landkreises. Verden/Aller. 1983. S. 99 (in German)
  26. ^ De Fezensac p.149
  27. ^ Lloyd 1906, p. 287.
  28. ^ Larrey is quoted in French by Béraud 1841–1842
  29. ^ Prendergast 1997, La Bataille d’Eylau.

References

  • Asprey, Robert (6 August 2008). The Reign Of Napoleon Bonaparte. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-7867-2537-3.
  • Béraud (1841–1842), "Études Hygiéniques de la chair de cheval comme aliment", Musée des Familles (in French)
  • Chandler, David (1966), The Campaigns of Napoleon., New York: Macmillan, pp. 536, 584, ISBN 0-02-523660-1
  • Connelly, Owen (2005), The Wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon, 1792-1815, Routledge, p. 137, ISBN 0-415-23983-4
  • De Fezensac, Raymond Aymery Philippe Joseph de Montesquiou, Duc (1863), Souveniers militairies de 1804 à 1814, p. 149
  • Franceschi, General Michel; Weider, Ben (2007), The Wars Against Napoleon, New York: Savas Beatie, p. 118, ISBN 1-932714-37-5
  • Lloyd, Colonel (1906), "Chapter 10", The Cambridge Modern History, vol. 9, New York: The MacMillan Company, p. 287
  • Haythornthwaite, Philip J. (1996), "Chapter 3", Die Hard! Famous Napoleonic Battles, London: Cassell
  • Prendergast, Christopher (1997), "La Bataille d'Eylau", Napoleon and History Painting: Antoine-Jean Gros’s, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • Petre, F. Loraine (1976) [1907], Napoleon's Campaign in Poland 1806-1807, London: Lionel Leventhal, pp. 150–155, 178, 180, 183, 188, 194, 198, 202
  • Smith, Digby (1998), The Napoleonic Wars Data Book, London: Greenhill Books, p. 240, ISBN 1-85367-276-9

External links

Coordinates: 54°24.000′N 20°38.000′E / 54.400000°N 20.633333°E

1807 in France

Events from the year 1807 in France.

Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq

Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq (16 August 1738 – 5 January 1815) was a Prussian cavalry general best known for his command of the Prussian troops at the Battle of Eylau.

Battle of Friedland

The Battle of Friedland (June 14, 1807) was a major engagement of the Napoleonic Wars between the armies of the French Empire commanded by Napoleon I and the armies of the Russian Empire led by Count von Bennigsen. Napoleon and the French obtained a decisive victory that routed much of the Russian army, which retreated chaotically over the Alle River by the end of the fighting. The battlefield is located in modern-day Kaliningrad Oblast, near the town of Pravdinsk, Russia.

The engagement at Friedland was a strategic necessity after the Battle of Eylau earlier in 1807 had failed to yield a decisive verdict for either side. The battle began when Bennigsen noticed the seemingly isolated corps of Marshal Lannes at the town of Friedland. Bennigsen, who planned only to secure his march northward to Wehlau and never intended to risk an engagement against Napoleon's numerically-superior forces, thought he had a good chance of destroying these isolated French units and ordered his entire army over the Alle River. Lannes held his ground against determined Russian attacks until Napoleon could bring additional forces onto the field. Bennigsen could have recalled the Russian forces, numbering about 50,000–60,000 men, and retreated across the river before the arrival of Napoleon's entire army but, being in poor health, decided to stay at Friedland and took no measures to protect his exposed and exhausted army. By late afternoon, the French had amassed a force of 80,000 troops on the battlefield. Relying on superior numbers, Napoleon concluded that the moment had come and ordered a massive assault against the Russian left flank. The sustained French attack pushed back the Russian army and pressed them against the river behind. Unable to withstand the pressure, the Russians broke and started escaping across the Alle, where an unknown number of them died from drowning. The Russian army suffered horrific casualties at Friedland–losing over 40% of its soldiers on the battlefield.Napoleon's overwhelming victory was enough to convince the Russian political establishment that peace was necessary. Friedland effectively ended the War of the Fourth Coalition, as Emperor Alexander I reluctantly entered peace negotiations with Napoleon. These discussions eventually culminated in the Treaties of Tilsit, by which Russia agreed to join the Continental System against Great Britain and by which Prussia lost almost half of its territories. The lands lost by Prussia were converted into the new Kingdom of Westphalia, which was governed by Napoleon's brother, Jérôme. Tilsit also gave France control of the Ionian Islands, a vital and strategic entry point into the Mediterranean Sea. Some historians regard the political settlements at Tilsit as the height of Napoleon's empire because there was no longer any continental power challenging the French domination of Europe.

Claude Corbineau

Claude Louis Constant Esprit Juvénal Gabriel Corbineau (7 March 1772, Laval – 8 February 1807, battle of Eylau) was a French general. His two brothers Jean and Hercule also fought in both these wars and together the three men were known as "les trois Horaces" (the three Horatii).

Colonel Chabert (novel)

Le Colonel Chabert (English: Colonel Chabert) is an 1832 novella by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). It is included in his series of novels (or Roman-fleuve) known as La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy), which depicts and parodies French society in the period of the Restoration (1815–1830) and the July Monarchy (1830–1848). This novella, originally published in Le Constitutionnel, was adapted for six different motion pictures, including two silent films.

Dwórzno, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship

Dwórzno [ˈdvuʐnɔ] (German: Hoofe) is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Górowo Iławeckie, within Bartoszyce County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, in northern Poland, close to the border with the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia. It lies approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) south-west of Górowo Iławeckie, 22 km (14 mi) west of Bartoszyce, and 52 km (32 mi) north of the regional capital Olsztyn.

Hoofe was the scene of the "Bataille de Hoff" throughout the Napoleonic Battle of Eylau in February 1807.

Jacques Desjardin

Jacques Desjardin or Jacques Jardin or Jacques Desjardins; (9 February 1759 – 11 February 1807) enlisted in the French royal army as a young man and eventually became a sergeant. During the first years of the French Revolutionary Wars he enjoyed very rapid promotion to the rank of general officer in the army of the French First Republic. In May and June 1794 he emerged as co-commander of an army that tried three times to cross the Sambre at Grandreng, Erquelinnes and Gosselies and each time was thrown back by the Coalition. After that, he reverted to a division commander and saw more service in the north of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In the campaign of 1805, he led an infantry division under Marshal Pierre Augereau in Emperor Napoleon's Grande Armée and saw limited fighting. In 1806 he fought at Jena, Czarnowo and Gołymin. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Eylau on 8 February 1807 and died three days later. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 16.

Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul

Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul (13 May 1754 – 14 February 1807) was a French cavalry general of the Napoleonic wars. He came from an old noble family of France whose military tradition extended for several centuries.

Efforts by the French Revolutionary government to remove him from his command failed when his soldiers refused to give him up. A big, loud-voiced man, he led from the front of his troops. Although the failure of his cavalry to deploy at the Battle of Stockach (1799) resulted in a court martial, he was exonerated and went on to serve in the Swiss campaign in 1799, at the Second Battle of Stockach, the Battle of Biberach, and later at Battle of Hohenlinden. He served under Michel Ney and Joachim Murat. He was killed in Murat's massive cavalry charge of the Battle of Eylau in 1807.

Joseph Jean-Baptiste Albert

Joseph Jean-Baptiste Albert (1771 – 1822) was a French general de division (major general). He fought at the Battle of Eylau, the Battle of Aspern-Essling and the Battle of Wagram. He was made a brigadier general in 1807. He was involved in the French invasion of Russia in 1812. He was made a baron of the First French Empire by Napoleon Bonaparte. He was a grand officer of the Legion of Honour and a knight of the Order of Saint Louis.

Levin August von Bennigsen

Levin August Gottlieb Theophil Graf von Bennigsen (10 February 1745 in Braunschweig – 3 December 1826 in Banteln) was a German general in the service of the Russian Empire.

Louis Binot

Louis François Binot (7 April 1771 – 8 February 1807) was a French Brigade General and Governor General of Pondicherry in 1802.

Binot was "Colonel / Chief of Brigade" in 121st Regiment of infantry of line which is made under the French Revolution. On 22 November 1806, he was made as "General of Brigade". He was given the order of Legion of Honour on 25 December 1805. He was killed at the Battle of Eylau.

Ludwig August von Stutterheim

Ludwig August von Stutterheim served Frederick the Great and his successors in the War of Bavarian Succession, the Kościuszko Uprising, and the wars of the Fourth and Sixth coalitions. In 1794 he earned the prestigious Pour le Mérite award for his distinguished actions. He was promoted major general in 1807 after courageous behavior at the Battle of Eylau. He became a lieutenant general in 1811 and general of the infantry in 1824.

Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly

Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly (German: Michael Andreas Fürst Barclay de Tolly; 27 December [O.S. 16 December] 1761 – 26 May [O.S. 14 May] 1818) was a Baltic German Field Marshal and Minister of War of the Russian Empire during Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and War of the Sixth Coalition. Barclay implemented a number of reforms during this time that improved supply system in the army, doubled the number of army troops, and implemented new combat training principles. He was also the Governor-General of Finland.

He was born into a German-speaking noble family from Livonia who were members of the Scottish Clan Barclay. His father was the first of his family to be accepted into the Russian nobility. Barclay joined the Imperial Russian Army at a young age in 1776, enlisting in the Pskov Carabineer Regiment. For his role in the capture of Ochakov in 1788 from the Ottomans, he was personally decorated by Grigory Potemkin. Afterwards he participated in Catherine II's Swedish War. In 1794, he took part in putting down the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland and was again decorated for role in the capture of Vilnius.

In 1806, Barclay began commanding in the Napoleonic Wars, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Pułtusk that same year. He was wounded at the Battle of Eylau in 1807 while his troops were covering the retreat of the Russian army. Because of his wounds, he was forced to leave command. The following year, he carried out successful operations in the Finnish War against Sweden. Barclay led a large number of Russian troops approximately 100km across the frozen Gulf of Bothnia in winter during a snowstorm. For his accomplishments, Barclay de Tolly was appointed Governor-General of the Grand Duchy of Finland. From 20 January 1810 to September 1812 he was the Minister of War of the Russian Empire.

When the French invasion of Russia began in 1812, Barclay de Tolly was commander of the 1st Army of the West, the largest Army to face Napoleon. Barclay was appointed Commander-in-Chief and initiated a scorched earth policy from the beginning of the campaign, though this made him unpopular among Russians. After the Battle of Smolensk failed to halt the French and discontent among Russians continued to grow, Alexander I appointed Mikhail Kutuzov as Commander-in-Chief, though Barclay remained in charge of the 1st Army. However, Kutuzov continued the same scorched earth retreat up to Moscow where the Battle of Borodino took place nearby. Barclay commanded the right wing and center of the Russian army for the battle. After Napoleon's retreat, the eventual success of Barclay's tactics made him a hero among Russians. He became Commander-in-Chief once again in 1813 after the death of Kutuzov and led the taking of Paris, for which he was made a Field Marshal. His health later declined and he died on a visit to Germany in 1818.

Napoléon on the Battlefield of Eylau

Napoléon on the Battlefield of Eylau (French: Napoléon sur le champ de bataille d'Eylau) is an oil painting of 1808 by French Romantic painter Antoine-Jean Gros. Completed during the winter of 1807–1808, the work has become an icon of the emerging style of French Romanticism. It depicts a moment from the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Eylau (7–8 February 1807) in which Napoléon Bonaparte surveys the battlefield where his Grande Armée secured a costly victory against the Russians. Although Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau retains elements of history painting, it is by far Gros's most realistic work depicting Napoleon and breaks from the subtlety of Neoclassicism. The painting's influence can be seen in the works of artists like Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix.

Pierre-Charles Lochet

Pierre-Charles Lochet (1767 – 1807) was a brigadier general of the Grande Armée of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Born in Châlons-en-Champagne on 24 February 1767, he was attracted to the profession of arms, and he enlisted in the Queen's regiment in 1784. In 1789, at the outbreak of the French Revolution, he left the Queen's service.

By 1792, he was a captain of the second battalion of volunteers of the Marne. He was promoted to commander of the 94th demi-brigade in 1794. He served in the Army of the Danube in southwestern Germany in 1799 and 1800. In 1803 he was brigadier general. He fought at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 at the head of a brigade of the Grand Army, and at the Battle of Jena-Auerstadt the following year.

He was killed by a bullet in the head at the Battle of Eylau on 7 February 1807 and is buried there. His is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.

Sergey Volkonsky

Prince Sergei Grigorievich Volkonsky (Серге́й Григорьевич Волко́нский; 19 December 1788 - 10 December 1865) was a Russian Major General and Decembrist from the aristocratic Volkonsky family.

Prince Sergey was a grandson of Field Marshal Nicholas Repnin, a leading statesman of Catherine the Great's reign. The three brothers Sergey, Nikita Volkonsky and Nikolay Repnin, distinguished themselves during the Napoleonic Wars. Princess Zenaǐde Wolkonsky was his sister-in-law. Serge Wolkonsky, a theatre director and critic, descended from his sister.

Volkonsky was promoted Major General after the Battle of Großbeeren and Battle of Dennewitz. He was wounded in the Battle of Eylau. He was the only general still in active service who took part in the Decembrist conspiracy of 1825, an attempt to achieve liberal reform by preventing the accession of Tsar Nicholas I. Following the failure of the revolt, he was found guilty and sentenced to beheading, which was eventually commuted to katorga.

Prince Volkonsky went to toil in the mines near Irkutsk and spent 30 years as a political exile in Siberia. His wife Maria Rayevskaya followed him to Siberia. Their tribulations and hardships have been seen, in a later Russian tradition, as the stuff of high Romantic legend. Nikolay Nekrasov described them in a long poem. Oleg Strizhenov played the part of Volkonsky in the 1975 Soviet film The Captivating Star of Happiness.

On succeeding to the throne in 1856, Alexander II allowed Volkonsky and other old Decembrists to return from Siberia. In the late 1850s, Sergey Volkonsky travelled in Europe, where he met Alexander Herzen and other young liberals. Sergey and Maria spent the rest of their lives in the village of Voronki (Little Russia), which was owned by their daughter. The memoirs of Sergey Volkonsky were published in 1902.

VII Corps (Grande Armée)

The VII Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. It was formed in 1805 and assigned to Marshal Pierre Augereau. From 1805 through 1807, Augereau led the army corps in the War of the Third Coalition and the War of the Fourth Coalition. It was disbanded after being nearly wiped out at the Battle of Eylau in February 1807 and its surviving troops were distributed to other army corps. At the end of 1808, the VII Corps was reconstituted in Catalonia during the Peninsular War and Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr was given command. The corps fought in Spain until 1811, when it was renamed the Army of Catalonia. At that time it was again led by Augereau.

A parallel VII Corps was created for the War of the Fifth Coalition in 1809 and assigned to Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre. This formation was entirely made up of troops from the Kingdom of Bavaria. In 1812, a new VII Corps composed of soldiers from the Kingdom of Saxony was created for the invasion of Russia and Jean Reynier took command. This formation survived to fight during the War of the Sixth Coalition but ceased to exist after the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813 due to the defection of the Saxons. The VII Corps was recreated during the 1814 Campaign and assigned to Marshal Nicolas Oudinot. The formation consisted of one Young Guard division and two regular divisions of Peninsular War veterans.

Vladislav Ozerov

Vladislav Aleksandrovich Ozerov (Russian: Владисла́в Алекса́ндрович О́зеров) (11 October 1769 – 17 September 1816) was the most popular Russian dramatist in the first decades of the 19th century.Ozerov wrote five tragedies "in the stilted and sentimental manner of the Frenchified era". Their success was tremendous, largely owing to the remarkable acting of one of the greatest Russian tragediennes, Ekaterina Semyonova. What the public liked in these tragedies was the atmosphere of sensibility and the polished, Karamzinian sweetness that Ozerov infused into the classical forms.

Ozerov's first success was Oedipus in Athens (1804), a wry comment on Alexander I's rumoured privity to the murder of his father Paul. The public was ecstatic about his next tragedy, Fingal (1805), staged with effective sets representing sombre Scottish scenery. Dmitry Donskoy (1807) was staged within days after the Battle of Eylau, when its patriotic ethos was particularly apposite. (It was later used as the basis for an opera of the same name by Anton Rubinstein). His last play was Polyxena (1809), variously assessed as the finest sentimental tragedy in the language and the best Russian tragedy on the French classical model.The production of Polyxena turned out to be a flop, largely due to intrigues adding to Ozerov's literary woes. He was forced to leave St. Petersburg for his country estate near Zubtsov, where he reportedly went mad and burnt all his papers. Ozerov's last years were spent in poverty, and his posthumous reputation was damaged by Pushkin's dismissal of his plays as "very mediocre".

War of the Fourth Coalition

The Fourth Coalition fought against Napoleon's French Empire and was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and Great Britain. Several members of the coalition had previously been fighting France as part of the Third Coalition, and there was no intervening period of general peace. On 9 October 1806, Prussia joined a renewed coalition, fearing the rise in French power after the defeat of Austria and establishment of the French-sponsored Confederation of the Rhine. Prussia and Russia mobilized for a fresh campaign, and Prussian troops massed in Saxony.

Napoleon decisively defeated the Prussians in an expeditious campaign that culminated at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt on 14 October 1806. French forces under Napoleon occupied Prussia, pursued the remnants of the shattered Prussian Army, and captured Berlin. They then advanced all the way to East Prussia, Poland and the Russian frontier, where they fought an inconclusive battle against the Russians at the Battle of Eylau on 7–8 February 1807. Napoleon's advance on the Russian frontier was briefly checked during the spring as he revitalized his army with fresh supplies. Russian forces were finally crushed by the French at the Battle of Friedland on 14 June 1807, and three days later Russia asked for a truce.

By the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, France made peace with Russia, which agreed to join the Continental System. The treaty was particularly harsh on Prussia, however, as Napoleon demanded much of the Prussian territory along the lower Rhine west of the Elbe and in what was part of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Respectively, these acquisitions were incorporated into the new Kingdom of Westphalia, led by his brother Jérôme Bonaparte, and established the Duchy of Warsaw, ruled by his new ally the king of Saxony. At the end of the war Napoleon was master of almost all of western and central continental Europe, except for Spain, Portugal, Austria and several other smaller states.

Despite the end of the Fourth Coalition, Britain remained at war with France. Hostilities on land resumed later in 1807, when a Franco-Spanish force invaded Britain's ally Portugal, beginning the Peninsular War. A further Fifth Coalition would be assembled when Austria re-joined the conflict in 1809.

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