Battle of Montereau

The Battle of Montereau (18 February 1814) was fought during the War of the Sixth Coalition between an Imperial French army led by Emperor Napoleon and a corps of Austrians and Württembergers commanded by Crown Prince Frederick William of Württemberg. While Napoleon's army mauled an Allied army under Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, the main Allied army commanded by Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg advanced to a position dangerously close to Paris. Gathering up his outnumbered forces, Napoleon rushed his soldiers south to deal with Schwarzenberg. Hearing of the approach of the French emperor, the Allied commander ordered a withdrawal, but 17 February saw his rear guards overrun or brushed aside.

Ordered to hold Montereau until nightfall on the 18th, the Crown Prince of Württemberg posted a strong force on the north bank of the Seine River. All morning and past noon, the Allies stoutly held off a series of French attacks. However, under increasing French pressure, the Crown Prince's lines buckled in the afternoon and his troops ran for the single bridge to their rear. Brilliantly led by Pierre Claude Pajol, the French cavalry got among the fugitives, captured the spans over both the Seine and Yonne Rivers and seized Montereau. The Allied force suffered heavy losses and the defeat confirmed Schwarzenberg's decision to continue the retreat to Troyes.

Background

Allied advance

On 10 February, the Army of Bohemia under Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg began advancing from Troyes. On the right, Peter Wittgenstein and Karl Philipp von Wrede headed for Nogent and Bray on the Seine River supported by the Guards and Reserves. On the left, Crown Prince Frederick William of Württemberg moved on Sens with the I Corps of Frederick Bianchi, Duke of Casalanza on his left. The left flank forces were backed by Ignaz Gyulai's corps.[1] The Allies were briefly checked at Nogent on the 10th by 1,000 French troops under Louis-Auguste-Victor, Count de Ghaisnes de Bourmont.[2] Sens was taken on the 11th after a skirmish between the Crown Prince and Jacques-Alexandre-François Allix de Vaux.[3]

Tasked with the defense of the Seine, Marshal Claude Perrin Victor held Nogent and Marshal Nicolas Oudinot defended Montereau. On the 12th the Allies captured Bray from a weak force of French National Guards as well as the bridge at Pont-sur-Seine near Montereau. Afraid of being surrounded, Victor evacuated Nogent and fell back. The appearance of troops under Marshal Jacques MacDonald did not stop the retreat and by 15 February the French were moving back to the Yerres River only 18 miles (29 km) from Paris.[4] Alexander Nikitich Seslavin led a scouting force of three Russian hussar squadrons and one Cossack regiment[5] well to the south to seize Montargis and threaten Orléans. Auxerre was stormed and its garrison wiped out. Cossacks roamed freely in the Forest and Palace of Fontainebleau. When Victor's wagon train appeared[6] at Charenton-le-Pont the Parisians were thrown into panic. Meanwhile, fleeing peasants reported that Paris would soon be attacked by 200,000 Cossacks.[7]

French counteroffensive

EB1911-19-0232-a-Napolonic Campaigns, Campaign of 1814
Campaign of 1814 map shows Montereau on the Seine at the lower left.

Following his successes in the Six Days' Campaign on 10–14 February 1814, Emperor Napoleon headed southward towards the Seine to stop Schwarzenberg's threat to Paris. Forces under Marshals Édouard Mortier and Auguste Marmont were left behind to keep Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher's Army of Silesia under observation. Giving up his plans to finish off Blücher, Napoleon left Montmirail on 15 February with the Imperial Guard and Emmanuel Grouchy's cavalry. In an epic march, with some infantry traveling in carts and wagons, Napoleon's leading forces reached Guignes at 3:00 pm on the 16th after moving 47 miles (76 km) in 36 hours.[4] Another authority stated that some troops marched 60 miles (97 km) in 36 hours.[8]

Hearing of Blücher's defeat and the approach of Napoleon, the cautious Schwarzenberg scrambled to put the Seine between his army and the French emperor. On 17 February, he ordered Wittgenstein to retreat to Provins while Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly massed the Russian and Prussian Guards near Nogent. He instructed Wrede to fall back to Donnemarie while leaving an advanced guard at Nangis. Württemberg and Bianchi were posted near Montereau while Gyulai held Pont-sur-Yonne and the Austrian Reserve was at Sens. If the Army of Bohemia needed to retreat farther, it was important to hold the position at Montereau. Matvei Platov was to the west at Nemours[9] where his 2,100 Cossacks captured 600 men of an Imperial Guard depot battalion on the 16th.[10]

Early on 17 February, Napoleon's leading elements under Etienne Maurice Gérard enveloped a Russian force led by Peter Petrovich Pahlen.[11] In the Battle of Mormant, Pahlen's 2,500 infantry and 1,250 cavalry were overwhelmed by the French, suffering 3,114 killed, wounded or captured. A nearby Austrian force led by Anton von Hardegg remained largely inert while its allies were being cut to pieces. Finally, Hardegg allowed 550 troopers from the Schwarzenberg Uhlan Regiment Nr. 2 to assist the Russians. The Reval and Selenginsk Infantry Regiments suffered such heavy losses that they were withdrawn from the campaign.[12] Next, the French struck Wrede's advance guard at Nangis and threw it back to Villeneuve-le-Comte.[11]

At Nangis Napoleon split his army into three columns. The right column including Victor's II Corps, Gerard's Reserve of Paris and cavalry under Samuel-François Lhéritier and Étienne Tardif de Pommeroux de Bordesoulle took the road south toward Montereau. The center column consisted of MacDonald's XI Corps, two cavalry divisions and the Imperial Guard.[11] This force headed for Bray.[7] The left column, made up of Oudinot's VII Corps and François Étienne de Kellermann's cavalry, pursued Wittgenstein east toward Provins. Pierre Claude Pajol's cavalry and Michel-Marie Pacthod's National Guards set out from Melun and advanced southeast toward Montereau. The divisions of Allix and Henri François Marie Charpentier moved south from Melun to Fontainebleau.[11] MacDonald and Oudinot pressed Hardegg's rear guard back, capturing some wagons. Victor came across one of Wrede's divisions drawn up on the heights of Valjouan near Villeneuve. Victor sent Gérard to attack the Bavarians in front while Bordesoulle circled to take them from behind. Soon the Bavarians were retreating in disorder and Lhéritier missed a chance to deliver the coup de grace with his cavalry.[7] Nevertheless, Wrede's corps sustained 2,500 casualties during the day. Victor's soldiers were exhausted, so he called a halt.[13] Napoleon was furious that Victor disobeyed his orders to press on to Montereau during the night and asked his chief of staff Louis-Alexandre Berthier to write him a harsh reprimand.[14]

Battle

Forces

Friedrich Wilhelm von Württemberg
Prince Frederick William

The Crown Prince's IV Corps consisted of an infantry division led by Christian Johann Gottgetreu von Koch and a cavalry division under Prince Adam von Württemberg. Ludwig Stockmeyer's brigade consisted of two battalions of King Frederick Jäger Regiment Nr. 9 and one battalion of Light Infantry Regiment Nr. 10. Christoph Friedrich David Döring's brigade was made up of two battalions each of Infantry Regiments Duke Wilhelm Nr. 2, Nr. 3 and Nr. 7. Prince Karl von Hohenlohe-Kirchberg's brigade included two battalions each of Infantry Regiments Nr. 4 and Crown Prince Nr. 6. Walsleben's cavalry brigade comprised four squadrons each of Duke Louis Jäger zu Pferde Regiment Nr. 2 and Crown Prince Dragoon Regiment Nr. 3. Karl August Maximillian Jett's cavalry brigade had four squadrons of Prince Adam Jäger zu Pferde Regiment Nr. 4. Attached to each cavalry brigade was one horse artillery battery while Döring's and Hohenlohe's brigades each had a foot artillery battery. All four batteries were armed with four 6-pound cannons and two howitzers.[15]

Attached to the IV Corps was Joseph Schäffer's Austrian brigade. This unit consisted of two battalions each of Infantry Regiments Gyulai Nr. 21, Esterhazy Nr. 32 and Josef Colloredo Nr. 57, three battalions of Infantry Regiment Zach Nr. 15, six squadrons of Archduke Ferdinand Hussar Regiment Nr. 3 and two-foot artillery batteries. Altogether there were 11,000 Württembergers and 4,000 Austrians present.[12] A second source credited the Allies with 18,000 troops in Montereau.[16]

Général Claude Pierre Pajol
Pierre Claude Pajol

Victor's II Corps had the divisions of Louis Huguet-Chateau and Guillaume Philibert Duhesme. Chateau's 1st Division was made up of 1st Battalions of the 11th and 24th Light and the 2nd, 19th, 37th and 56th Line Infantry Regiments. Duhesme's 2nd Division included 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 4th, 18th and 46th Line and 1st Battalions of the 72nd and 93rd Line and 26th Light.[17] Chateau's division numbered only 1,536 officers and men, since all units except the 477-strong 19th were sadly understrength, while Duhesme had 2,442 effectives. The 1st Division was supported by five 6-pound cannons and one howitzer while the 2nd Division counted eight 6-pound cannons and four howitzers. With 475 gunners and 135 sappers, Victor's total strength was 4,588 soldiers.[18] Gérard's Reserve of Paris included the divisions of Georges Joseph Dufour and Jacques Félix Jan de La Hamelinaye.[19] The 1st Division was made up of one battalion each of the 5th, 12th, 15th and 29th Light and the 32nd, 58th and 135th Line. The 2nd Division comprised the 26th, 82nd, 86th, 121st, 122nd and 142nd Line.[17] Gérard's force had 214 artillerists from three companies attached.[18]

Pajol led a provisional cavalry corps consisting of three small brigades, 460 Chasseurs à Cheval under Jacques-Antoine-Adrien Delort, 476 Dragoons under François Grouvel and 400 Hussars under Charles Yves César Du Coetlosquet.[17] Pacthod commanded 3,000 National Guards and there were 800 gendarmes (military police) with this column.[20] MacDonald's XI Corps counted three divisions led by Joseph Jean Baptiste Albert, François Pierre Joseph Amey and Michel Sylvestre Brayer. Lhéritier commanded the V Cavalry Corps which was formed from three mounted divisions. Hippolyte Piré's 3rd Light Cavalry Division included the 14th, 26th and 27th Chasseurs à Cheval and the 3rd Hussars, André Louis Briche's 3rd Heavy Cavalry Division the 2nd, 6th, 11th, 13th and 15th Dragoons and Lhéritier's 4th Cavalry Division the 18th, 19th, 20th, 22nd and 25th Dragoons. Bordesoulle's detachment numbered 500 horsemen from depot squadrons.[17]

The Imperial Guard consisted of the Old Guard Division of Louis Friant, the 1st Young Guard Division of Claude Marie Meunier, the 2nd Young Guard Division of Philibert Jean-Baptiste Curial, and the 2nd and 3rd Guard Cavalry Divisions. Marshal Michel Ney led the two Young Guard divisions while Étienne Marie Antoine Champion de Nansouty led the Guard cavalry divisions. The 2nd Guard Cavalry was made up of the 1st Polish Guard Lancer, Empress Dragoon and Polish and 3rd Éclaireur Regiments. The 3rd Guard Cavalry Division had the Guard Horse Grenadier and Guard Chasseurs à Cheval Regiments.[17] According to one authority, units that fought in the battle included most of the regiments from the corps of Victor and Gérard, the Guard artillery, Guard Chasseurs à Cheval and 2nd Guard Lancers, 3rd Hussars from Jacques Gervais, baron Subervie's brigade, 18th Dragoons of Auguste Lamotte's brigade, 25th Dragoons from Jean Antoine de Collaert's brigade, 9th Lancers and 22nd Chasseurs à Cheval from Kellermann's VI Cavalry Corps and the 7th Lancers, 9th Chasseurs à Cheval and 7th Hussars from unidentified corps. MacDonald's corps and the Guard infantry were not engaged.[12]

Action

Pajol
Pajol leading the charge at Montereau.

After issuing conflicting orders concerning the defense of Montereau, Schwarzenberg finally directed the Crown Prince to hold the town until the evening of 18 February. Meanwhile, Oudinot's leading troops found that Wittgenstein had withdrawn across the Seine at Nogent[11] while Wrede was across at Bray.[20] At both places, the Allies broke the bridges.[21] While Montereau on the south bank is in flat terrain, the north bank is crowned by a 150–200 feet (46–61 m) height with a steep slope next to the river and a gentler slope on the north side.[20] Atop the ridge, Surville chateau overlooks the bridges and town of Montereau, which was surrounded by vineyards and meadows to the south and east.[22] The Paris road approached Montereau from the northwest where there was a forest. The road from Salins came from the northeast and ran alongside the river from Courbeton chateau to the bridge. The hamlet of Les Ormeaux was a short distance east of the Paris road. The roads from the north join at the bridge which crosses the Seine to the eastern suburb, then immediately crosses the Yonne into Montereau.[23] The Seine bridge was the site of the Assassination of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy in 1419.[22]

Bataille Montereau 18 02 1814.pdf
Battle of Montereau map opens into two pages.

The Crown Prince deployed 8,500-foot soldiers, 1,000 horsemen and 26 field guns on the north bank of the Seine.[20] A second authority counted 12,000 defenders.[24] The left flank was anchored in Les Ormeaux, the center incorporated the Surville chateau and park while the right flank included the Courbeton chateau and blocked the road from Salins. Two Austrian batteries from Bianchi's corps were positioned on the south bank, one covering each flank. There was also a IV Corps brigade on the south bank near the eastern suburb at the Motteux Farm.[20] Schäffer's Austrians held the Surville park in the center.[25] The Allies were supported by a total of 40 field pieces.[22]

Napoleon ordered Victor to be at Montereau at 6:00 am but the first French forces to arrive were Pajol's cavalry and Pacthod's National Guards at 8:00 am. Aside from numbering no more than 4,500 men, the horsemen had almost no training while the National Guards were ill-equipped and ill-trained. They made no impression on the Crown Prince's defenders. Victor leading elements arrived at 9:00 am[20] and their initial attack was repulsed. When the divisions of Chateau and Duhesme reached the field they were thrown into an attack on Les Ormeaux. This was beaten back and Chateau,[25] who was Victor's son-in-law,[22] was fatally wounded. The Württemberg cavalry charged and drove the French horsemen back into the forest. Unable to make any progress by 11:00 am, Victor awaited the coming of Gérard's corps. Angry at the marshal's slowness, Napoleon replaced Victor and placed command of the II Corps in Gérard's hands.[25]

Napoléon
Napoleon aiming a cannon at Montereau.

Gérard led his troops up the heights but the Allied artillery was well-served and threw back assault after assault. In the afternoon, the Imperial Guard artillery arrived and 40 more guns were brought into action.[22] At 3:00 pm, Napoleon hurled three attack columns at Les Ormeaux and Surville and another one against the Allied right flank along the Seine. While the Guard remained in reserve, the French artillery unleashed a barrage at Surville chateau. The French finally overran Les Ormeaux, causing the Crown Prince to order Schäffer's Austrians to cover the retreat. As the Württembergers began pulling back, Pajol launched a cavalry charge down the Paris highway against the Allied left flank. At this time, French infantry rushed the Surville chateau and made its garrison prisoners. There were now 30,000 French troops on the field supported by 70[25] or 80 field pieces.[24]

At first the withdrawal was conducted in good order, but the Allied soldiers became more disorganized as they tried to negotiate the steep slope. They fell into complete confusion upon encountering a sunken road. Soon, every Allied soldier was running for the Seine bridge. The Crown Prince tried to rally his men and was nearly captured by the French cavalry. The French emperor ordered 60 guns onto the Surville heights where they unlimbered and fired their missiles into the fleeing mob of Allies crowding the bridges. When Napoleon personally sighted one of the cannons, his guardsmen begged him to leave. He refused saying, "Courage my friends, the bullet which is to kill me is not yet cast".[24]

Pajol's horsemen charged into the fleeing mass of soldiers and managed to seize first the Seine bridge[25] and then the Yonne bridge before either could be blown up, though they were rigged for demolition. Duhesme's division rapidly crossed after the cavalry and helped clear Montereau of the Allies.[24] The beaten Allies joined Hohenlohe's brigade and began a disorderly retreat toward Le Tombe, a village on the road to Bray. The movement was covered by Jett's cavalry brigade.[21] Napoleon sent Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre and his own cavalry escort in pursuit toward Bray. An eyewitness wrote that Lefebvre foamed at the mouth and struck at Allied soldiers with his saber.[14]

Results

Montereau-Fault-Yonne - Statue of Napoleon - 2
Statue of Napoleon stands between the two bridges.

According to Digby Smith, the Allies had losses of 1,400 killed and wounded, of which the Württembergers lost 92 killed and 714 wounded; Prince Hohenlohe was killed. The French captured 3,600 men, two cannons and two ammunition wagons. Of these totals, the Austrians had about 2,000 casualties and Schäffer became a French prisoner. The French lost 2,000 killed and wounded. A source quoted by Smith gave 4,895 Allied casualties and 15 guns lost.[26] Francis Loraine Petre asserted that the Allies lost nearly 5,000 men and 15 field pieces.[21] David G. Chandler stated that the Allies suffered 6,000 casualties and lost 15 cannons; the French lost 2,500 casualties.[27] Another authority wrote that both the French and Allies lost 3,000 killed and wounded, while the French took 2,000 men, six guns and four colors.[24] Chateau died from his wounds on 8 May 1814.[28]

The victory failed to live up to Napoleon's expectations. He lamented, "The foe has enjoyed a stroke of rare good fortune, the heavy frosts permitted him to move over the fields – otherwise at least half his guns and transport would have been taken."[27] In his disappointment he turned on his generals. After the battle when Victor complained to the emperor about losing his command, Napoleon unleashed a storm of abuse on his hapless subordinate. He also raged against Victor's wife who he accused of snubbing Empress Marie Louise. Victor managed to blunt his sovereign's fury by recalling their military exploits in Italy and by reminding Napoleon that his son-in-law Chateau lay dying. Finally, Napoleon relented[29] and gave him the two Young Guard divisions of Charpentier and Joseph Boyer de Rebeval.[19] Other generals who felt Napoleon's wrath at this time were Lhéritier for failing to charge at Valjouan, Jean François Aimé Dejean for not providing enough artillery ammunition and Claude-Étienne Guyot for losing some cannons.[29]

Even before the battle started, Schwarzenberg ordered a general withdrawal to Troyes. He ordered Wrede to hold Bray until nightfall on 19 February and sent a dispatch to Blücher asking him to support his right flank at Méry-sur-Seine on 21 February. The Prussian replied that he would be at the rendezvous with 53,000 troops and 300 guns.[19] With Montereau in French hands, the position of the Austrians on the left flank along the Loing River became precarious. Under the guise of negotiations with Allix,[21] they retreated to join the wreckage of Schäffer's brigade at Saint-Sérotin. Seslavin was ordered to relinquish his far left flank position and take a position on the opposite flank.[19] Napoleon's pursuit was hampered by a lack of bridges and the Allies got a two-day head start in the march to Troyes.[30] The next action between the two armies was at Méry-sur-Seine on 22 February.[31][32]

Battlefield Today

Currently, part of this historic battle site near the village of Montereau-Fault-Yonne is being developed as a theme park celebrating the life of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The park, Napoleonland, is set for completion in 2017.[33]

Footnotes

  1. ^ Petre 1994, p. 77.
  2. ^ Smith 1998, p. 494.
  3. ^ Smith 1998, p. 495.
  4. ^ a b Chandler 1966, pp. 977–978.
  5. ^ Leggiere 2007, p. 189.
  6. ^ Alison 1842, p. 80.
  7. ^ a b c Alison 1842, p. 81.
  8. ^ Eggenberger 1985, p. 284.
  9. ^ Petre 1994, p. 81.
  10. ^ Smith 1998, pp. 497–498.
  11. ^ a b c d e Petre 1994, p. 82.
  12. ^ a b c Smith 1998, p. 498.
  13. ^ Alison 1842, p. 82.
  14. ^ a b Chandler 1966, p. 979.
  15. ^ Nafziger 1994.
  16. ^ Alison 1842, p. 83.
  17. ^ a b c d e Nafziger 2009a.
  18. ^ a b Nafziger 2009b.
  19. ^ a b c d Petre 1994, p. 86.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Petre 1994, p. 83.
  21. ^ a b c d Petre 1994, p. 85.
  22. ^ a b c d e Alison 1842, p. 84.
  23. ^ Petre 1994, p. Map II k.
  24. ^ a b c d e Alison 1842, p. 85.
  25. ^ a b c d e Petre 1994, p. 84.
  26. ^ Smith 1998, pp. 498–499.
  27. ^ a b Chandler 1966, p. 980.
  28. ^ Broughton 2006.
  29. ^ a b Alison 1842, p. 87.
  30. ^ Chandler 1966, p. 981.
  31. ^ Smith 1998, p. 499.
  32. ^ Petre 1994, p. 89.
  33. ^ Grossman 2012.

References

  • Alison, Archibald (1842). History of Europe from the Commencement of the French Revolution to the Restoration of the Bourbons. 10. Paris: Baudry's European Library. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  • Broughton, Tony (2006). "Generals Who Served in the French Army during the Period 1789–1815: Habert to Husson". The Napoleon Series. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  • Chandler, David G. (1966). The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York, N.Y.: Macmillan.
  • Chandler, David G. (1979). Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars. New York, N.Y.: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-523670-9.
  • Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 BC to the Present. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications Inc. ISBN 0-486-24913-1.
  • Grossman, Samantha (24 January 2012). "French Theme Park 'Napoleonland' in the Works". TIME. New York, N.Y.: TIME Magazine. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  • Leggiere, Michael V. (2007). The Fall of Napoleon: The Allied Invasion of France 1813–1814. 1. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87542-4.
  • Nafziger, George (2009a). "French Order of Battle, Montreau [sic], 17/18 February 1814" (PDF). United States Army Combined Arms Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 December 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  • Nafziger, George (2009b). "French II Corps and Artillery Assignments, 15 February 1814" (PDF). United States Army Combined Arms Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 December 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  • Nafziger, George (1994). "Württemberger Corps, Beginning of the 1814 Campaign" (PDF). United States Army Combined Arms Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  • Petre, F. Loraine (1994) [1914]. Napoleon at Bay: 1814. London: Lionel Leventhal Ltd. ISBN 1-85367-163-0.
  • Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.

Coordinates: 48°23′07″N 2°57′03″E / 48.3853°N 2.9508°E

1814

1814 (MDCCCXIV)

was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar, the 1814th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 814th year of the 2nd millennium, the 14th year of the 19th century, and the 5th year of the 1810s decade. As of the start of 1814, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1814 in France

Events from the year 1814 in France.

Battle of Gué-à-Tresmes

The Battle of Gué-à-Tresmes (28 February–1 March 1814) was fought between 14,500 French troops led by Marshals Auguste de Marmont and Édouard Mortier and 12,000 Prussians commanded by Friedrich Graf Kleist von Nollendorf and Friedrich von Katzler. On 28 February the French attacked and drove the Prussians to the north along the west bank of the Ourcq River. That evening and the next day Kleist tried to push the French back while Russian units under Peter Mikhailovich Kaptzevich tried to cross from the east to the west bank of the Ourcq; the Allies were unsuccessful. Gué-à-Tresmes (Tresmes Ford) is located where Route D405 crosses the Thérouanne stream about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) northeast of Meaux.

In late February, Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher's Allied Army of Silesia advanced west toward Paris, pressing a badly outnumbered French force before it. When Kleist's Prussian II Corps took a menacing position on the north bank of the Marne River near Meaux, the French attacked and pushed their adversaries back. When he learned that Napoleon's army was fast approaching from the southeast, Blücher abandoned the effort to force a way past Marmont and Mortier and began retreating to the north. The action occurred during the Campaign in north-east France, part of the War of the Sixth Coalition.

Battle of Laubressel

The Battle of Laubressel (3 March 1814) saw the main Allied army of Field Marshal Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg mount a three-pronged converging attack on the weaker army of Marshal Jacques MacDonald. The French forces under Marshal Nicolas Oudinot bore the brunt of the fighting, in which the Allies tried to turn their left flank. The French abandoned Troyes and retreated west as a result of the action. The village of Laubressel is located 10 kilometres (6 mi) east of Troyes.

After the French victory at the Battle of Montereau on 18 February, Schwarzenberg's army withdrew behind the Aube River. When Napoleon moved north against Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher's Army of Silesia, he left MacDonald and Oudinot to watch Schwarzenberg's army. After beating Oudinot at the Battle of Bar-sur-Aube, the Allies pressed the French back toward Troyes. At Laubressel, the Allies overpowered Oudinot's left wing. The Allies slowly pursued MacDonald's army, pressing it back to Provins before news of a victory by Napoleon brought Schwarzenberg's advance to a halt.

Battle of Mormant

The Battle of Mormant (17 February 1814) was fought during the War of the Sixth Coalition between an Imperial French army under Emperor Napoleon I and a division of Russians under Count Peter Petrovich Pahlen. Enveloped by cavalry led by François Étienne de Kellermann and Édouard Jean-Baptiste Milhaud and infantry led by Étienne Maurice Gérard, Pahlen's outnumbered force was nearly destroyed, with only about a third of its soldiers escaping. Later in the day, a French column led by Marshal Claude Perrin Victor encountered an Austrian-Bavarian rearguard under Anton Leonhard von Hardegg and Peter de Lamotte in the Battle of Valjouan. Attacked by French infantry and cavalry, the Allied force was mauled before it withdrew behind the Seine River. The Mormant-Valjouan actions and the Battle of Montereau the following day marked the start of a French counteroffensive intended to drive back Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg's Allied Army of Bohemia. The town of Mormant is located 50 kilometres (31 mi) southeast of Paris.

Battle of Saint-Julien (1814)

The Battle of Saint-Julien (1 March 1814) saw Imperial French troops led by Jean Gabriel Marchand attack Austrian soldiers under Johann Nepomuk von Klebelsberg. In tough fighting, the Austrians managed to hold off persistent French assaults during this War of the Sixth Coalition clash. The next day, the Austrians withdrew within the defenses of Geneva, a distance of 9 kilometres (6 mi) to the northeast. The battle was part of operations in which a French army led by Marshal Pierre Augereau squared off against Austrian forces under Ferdinand, Graf Bubna von Littitz.

The 1814 Campaign in Northeast France pitted Emperor Napoleon against the main Allied armies of Field Marshals Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher to the east of Paris. Meanwhile, a lesser campaign was fought around Lyon and Geneva to the south. In January 1814 the Austrians seized Geneva and occupied vast tracts of eastern France, but they failed to capture Lyon. In mid-February, Pierre Augereau launched an offensive from Lyon toward the north to recapture territory. On his extreme right flank, Marchand's division recaptured parts of Savoie and advanced to the gates of Geneva, which was an important Austrian base. Alarmed for the safety of his supply line to Germany, Schwarzenberg quickly dispatched massive forces to guard his southern flank.

Canon de 4 Gribeauval

The Canon de 4 Gribeauval or 4-pounder was a French cannon and part of the artillery system developed by Jean Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval. The Old French pound (French: livre) was 1.079 English pounds, making the weight of shot about 4.3 English pounds. In the Gribeauval era, the 4-pounder was the lightest weight cannon of the French field artillery; the others were the medium Canon de 8 Gribeauval and the heavy Canon de 12 Gribeauval. The Gribeauval system was introduced in 1765 and the guns were first employed during the American Revolutionary War. The most large-scale use of Gribeauval guns occurred during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. At first a pair of 4-pounders were assigned to each infantry battalion and were often called battalion pieces. Later, Emperor Napoleon took the guns away from the infantry units and began to replace the 4-pounder with the 6-pounder, using captured guns as well as newly cast French cannons. However, as the French infantry declined in quality after 1809, the 4-pounders were reintroduced in order to provide direct support for formations of foot soldiers. All Gribeauval cannons were capable of firing canister shot at close-range and round shot at long-range targets. The Gribeauval system supplanted the older Vallière system, was partly replaced by the Year XI system in 1803 and completely superseded by the Valée system in 1829.

Canon de 8 Gribeauval

The Canon de 8 Gribeauval or 8-pounder was a French cannon and part of the Gribeauval system developed by Jean Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval. The Old French pound (French: livre) was 1.07916 English pounds, making the weight of shot about 8.633 English pounds (or 8 lb 10 oz). The 8-pounder was the medium weight cannon of the French field artillery; the others were the light Canon de 4 Gribeauval and the heavy Canon de 12 Gribeauval. Replacing the older Vallière system, the Gribeauval system was introduced in 1765 and the guns were first employed during the American Revolutionary War. The most extensive use of Gribeauval guns was during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The 8-pounder could be found in divisional reserves, advanced guards or army artillery reserves. Emperor Napoleon began to phase out the 8-pounder by increasing the proportion of 12-pounders in his artillery. The emperor began switching calibers to the handier 6-pounder piece, utilizing captured guns as well as newly designed French cannons. The Year XI system began in 1803, but it only partly replaced the Gribeauval system which was not entirely suppressed until the Valée system was introduced in 1829.

Claude Marie Meunier

Claude Marie Meunier (4 August 1770 – 14 April 1846) became a French division commander during the Napoleonic Wars. He joined a volunteer regiment in 1792 and fought on the Rhine and in Italy as a captain. After a stint in the Consular Guard as a major, he became colonel of the 9th Light Infantry Regiment in 1803. His regiment fought at Haslach and Dürenstein in 1805, Halle, Waren and Lübeck in 1806, and Mohrungen and Friedland in 1807. Transferred to Spain, he led his troops at Uclés, Medellín and Talavera in 1809. He was promoted general of brigade in 1810 and fought at Barrosa in 1811.

He participated in the French invasion of Russia in 1812. He led a brigade at Lützen, Bautzen, the Katzbach and Leipzig in 1813. He was appointed general of division at the end of 1813 and led a Young Guard division at Brienne, La Rothière, Champaubert, Montmirail, Château-Thierry, Vauchamps, Craonne, Laon and Reims in 1814. He married a daughter of painter Jacques-Louis David. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 30.

February 18

February 18 is the 49th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 316 days remaining until the end of the year (317 in leap years).

François Pierre Joseph Amey

François Pierre Joseph Amey (2 October 1768 – 16 November 1850) became a French division commander during the Napoleonic Wars. He enlisted in the French Royal Army in 1783 and joined a volunteer battalion in 1792. He won promotion to general of brigade in 1793 during the War in the Vendée. He held a command during the period of the infernal columns and his career became obscure until 1799 when he supported Napoleon's coup. He went on the Saint-Domingue expedition in 1802–1803 and later filled posts in the interior. In 1806–1807 he led a brigade at Jena, Golymin and Eylau where he was wounded.

Sent to Spain in 1808 in command of German troops, Amey fought at the Third Siege of Gerona the following year. In 1812 he participated in the French invasion of Russia and led his troops at the First and Second Battles of Polotsk. He was promoted to general of division and fought at the Berezina. He fought at Arnhem in fall 1813. While leading a division of recruits, he was wounded and captured after a heroic defense in the Battle of Fère-Champenoise in 1814. After rallying to Napoleon during the Hundred Days he was retired in 1815. He served as mayor of Sélestat for ten years then returned to military service in 1830–1833. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 1.

Grande Armée

The Grande Armée (French pronunciation: ​[ɡʀɑ̃d aʀme]; French for Great Army) was the army commanded by Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.

It was renamed in 1805 from the army that Napoleon had assembled on the French coast of the English Channel for the proposed invasion of Britain. Napoleon later deployed the army east in order to eliminate the threat of Austria and Russia, which were part of the Third Coalition assembled against France. Thereafter, the name was used for the principal French army deployed in the Campaigns of 1805 and 1807, where it got its prestige, and 1809, 1812, and 1813–14. In practice, however, the term, Grande Armée, is used in English to refer to all of the multinational forces gathered by Napoleon I in his campaigns of the early 19th century (see Napoleonic Wars).The first Grande Armée consisted of six corps under the command of Napoleon's marshals and senior generals. When Napoleon discovered that Russian and Austrian armies were preparing to invade France in late 1805, the Grande Armée was quickly ordered across the Rhine into Southern Germany, leading to Napoleon's victories at Ulm, Austerlitz and Jena.

The army grew as Napoleon spread his power across Europe. It reached its largest size of 1,000,000 men at the start of the invasion of Russia in 1812, with 680,000 men participating in the Russian campaign. The contingents were commanded by French generals, except for the Polish corps and an Austrian one. The huge multinational army marched slowly east, and the Russians fell back with its approach. After the capture of Smolensk and victory in the Battle of Borodino, Napoleon and a part of the Grande Armée reached Moscow on 14 September 1812. However, the army was already drastically reduced because of deaths and injuries from battles with the Russians, disease (principally typhus), desertion, and long communication lines. The army spent a month in Moscow but was ultimately forced to march back westward. It started to suffer from cold, starvation and disease, and was constantly harassed by Cossacks and Russian irregulars, so that the Grande Armée was utterly destroyed as a fighting force. Only 120,000 men survived to leave Russia (excluding early deserters). Of these, 50,000 were Austrians, Prussians, and other Germans, 20,000 were Poles, and just 35,000 Frenchmen. As many as 380,000 died in the campaign.Napoleon led a new army to the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813, in the defence of France in 1814 and in the Waterloo Campaign in 1815, but the Napoleonic French army would never regain the heights of the Grande Armée of June 1812.

Jean-Charles Langlois

Jean-Charles Langlois, known as The Colonel (22 July 1789 – 1870) was a French soldier and painter.

Jean-Jacques Germain Pelet-Clozeau

Jean-Jacques Germain Pelet-Clozeau (15 July 1777 – 20 December 1858) became a French general in the Napoleonic Wars and later was a politician and historian. He joined the French army in 1800 and became a topographic engineer. He joined the staff of Marshal André Masséna and was wounded at Caldiero in 1805. He served in southern Italy in 1806 and Poland in 1807. He was wounded at Ebelsberg and fought at Aspern-Essling and Wagram in 1809.

When Emperor Napoleon ordered Masséna to take command of the Army of Portugal, Pelet went with him as his first aide-de-camp. Though Pelet was a relatively low-ranking officer, the marshal relied heavily on his advice during the unsuccessful 1810–1811 invasion of Portugal. Pelet fought in the French invasion of Russia, including during Marshal Michel Ney's epic retreat at Krasnoi where he was wounded again. Promoted to general officer, he led troops in the 1813 and 1814 campaigns, including a brief stint as acting division commander. He led a regiment of the Old Guard at Waterloo.

Placed on the army's inactive list, Pelet nevertheless worked in the military archives while publishing books and articles about the wars. In 1830, he was appointed director of the army staff school. Though nearly killed in an assassination attempt in 1835, he continued to publish military histories. Under the Second French Empire he engaged in diplomacy and politics. Pelet is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 19.

List of wars involving France

The following is an incomplete list of French wars and battles from the Gauls to modern France.

Napoleonland

Napoleonland was the nickname given by news media to a French theme park, "Napoleon's Bivouac", proposed by French politician Yves Jégo in 2012. The park's theme was to be Napoleon Bonaparte, the French general and emperor who rose to power in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Proposed attractions included lessons in Napoleon's life from his time as an artillery officer to his eventual defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. A watershow would depict the Battle of Trafalgar, other historical re-enactments and a ski run featuring replicated frozen bodies of French soldiers in a recreation of Napoleon's retreat from Russia. The park would be built by 2017 near Montereau-Fault-Yonne, site of the Battle of Montereau, where proposer Jégo was the local mayor, at an estimated cost of 200 million euros. As of September 2013, there was no report of any funding or other significant progress on the proposal.

VI Cavalry Corps (Grande Armée)

The VI Cavalry Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military formation that had an ephemeral existence during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was created on 9 February 1814 and François Étienne de Kellermann was appointed as its commander. The corps was formed by combining a newly arrived dragoon division from the Spanish front, a second dragoon division and a light cavalry division made up of hussars and chasseurs à cheval. The latter two divisions included units from the former III Cavalry Corps. Kellermann led the VI Cavalry Corps in actions at Mormant, Troyes, Second Bar-sur-Aube, Laubressel and Saint-Dizier. After Emperor Napoleon abdicated in early April 1814, the corps ceased to exist.

Éclaireurs of the Guard

The Éclaireurs of the Guard (French: Éclaireurs de la Garde) was a Corps of cavalry scouts of the French Imperial Guard, which included three cavalry regiments created by Napoleon when he reorganised the Imperial Guard following the disaster of the 1812 campaign in Russia. The Corps was created in Article I of the decree of 4 December 1813.The 1st regiment was divided into the Old Guard and Young Guard squadrons, with the first two wearing a uniform of the hussars, also sometimes known as Hussards Éclaireurs, and the others wearing a coatee similar to the Chasseurs a Cheval.All three regiments were organised into four squadrons with 250 sabres in two companies each. Due to insufficient recruits, an appeal was made for volunteers from the Cavalry of the Line, and 1,005 troopers eventually were added to the regimental rolls. Although half of the Éclaireurs were armed with 2.75m long lances issued in 1812 to the line regiments, and the rest with carbines, the regiments were rarely employed as lancers in battle, more usually acting as scouts for the Army as a whole. The lances had crimson over white pennons although none were initially intended for issue, and many troopers were lacking these also. The rest of the weapons equipping the Éclaireurs were the standard Chasseur a Cheval model Year XIII cavalry pistols and model Year IX light cavalry sabre. Due to general lack of equipment only the 3rd regiment was able to obtain shabraques, with only officers being so equipped in the 1st and 2nd regiments.The regiments, owing to their scouting role, were not issued Eagles.

Étienne Maurice Gérard

Étienne Maurice Gérard, 1er Comte Gérard (4 April 1773 – 17 April 1852) was a French general, statesman and Marshal of France. He served under a succession of French governments including the ancien regime monarchy, the Revolutionary governments, the Restorations, the July Monarchy, the First and Second Republics, and the First Empire (and arguably the Second), becoming Prime Minister briefly in 1834.

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