Battle of Gefrees July 1809

Another small battle from the Franco-Austrian 1809 campaign. The battle of Gefrees occurred in southern modern Germany, near Bayreuth, and basically in the same location where the French started their 1806 campaign marches into 1806 Prussian territory, leading up to the battle of initial Battle of Saalfeld, then Jena and Auerstadt.

Accounts for the action on the Gefrees battlefield are sparse in number.  WR favorite go to source is the excellent 1809 Thunder on the Danube three-volume series written by John Gill. These books are a great source for the well-known and documented battles, and more importantly to WR, the more obscure battles fought during this campaign. but for the Battle of Gefrees, fought on July 8th and just before the signed armistice, the details are lacking for a detailed scenario. The background in Gill’s volume III book (Wagram & Znaim), has the story starting on page 290 with the sub-title of “Thunder in Bayreuth” section and reads up to page 299, before covering the Black Duke’s post armistice march to the Hanoverian coast. Specifically on mid page 297, there is a single paragraph on the Gefree battle…. per Gill a small skirmishing action it seems, ended with a violent thunderstorm of rain. So another well written source is needed and quickly found in the old First Empire magazine. The Battle of Gefrees First Empire (FE) magazine article by John (Jack) Gill appeared in issue #12 and covers in detail the short southern Germany (Bayreuth region) campaign and the battle. It is surprising that the book 1809 Thunder on the Danube has limited storyline compared to the same author’s FE article on this engagement. WR’s tabletop scenario is based upon this old FE article.

The old FE magazine article found on the internet as a .pdf file:  Gefrees 1809 Empire #12

The Danube theater wide situation at the start of July has the Battle of Wargarm (July 5th & 6th) forthcoming and the converging French Armies of Germany, Italy, and Dalmatia in general pursuit of the retiring Austrians. During the pursuit the engagement at Hollabrunn (July 9th) and the final major Battle of Znaim, fought on July 10th into the 11th occurs, leading to the signed campaign ending armistice during the evening of 11th (effective July 12th).

King Jerome

FML Kienmayer

GD Junot

        

Back in the rear area of Bavarian Bayreuth, Austrian Bohemia, and southern Saxony, the French and Austrians, along with their Germanic state allies, march and fight several smaller engagements during early July. In particular the confrontation of FML Kienmayer and his two French opponents; GD Junot and King Jerome of Westphalia, is the subject of this blog article. The Battle of Gefrees came from Archduke’s Charles’s earlier strategic plans after the Battle of Aspern-Essling. Archduke Charles desired peripheral theaters for limited operations to discomfort the French across the Danube river at Vienna and threaten the French line of communication back to France. With the Italian, Tyrol, and Polish theaters closing down at that time, only the Bohemian border with Saxony remained open for Austrian offensive action. The Saxon border frontier was open to Austrian military advance being ill defended, the possibility possible of sparking anti-french uprising (especially after the von Schill’s ride and raid), and reduction of the Confederation of the Rhine military efforts against Austria.

In May, the future Austrian grand military effort for this Saxon border raid adventure was limited to depot troops, the local landwehr formations, and several line detachments. Two small divisions slowly formed under the command of GM Carl Friedrich Freiherr Am Ende around Theresienstadt (8,600 and 10 cannon), up river from Dresden, and FML Paul Radivojevich (4,400 and 4 cannon) to advance on French held Bavarian Bayreuth from Eger. The French rear area and realms of the German allies had equally an odd mixture of units and formations, mostly newly raised recruits, depot, and provisional troops. The stalwart Marshal Francois Kellermann used his skill to form a Reserve Corps based around Hanau. Further north the new Kingdom of Westphalia, with their new army regiments, and the occasional Dutch, Saxon, Danes, and even Portuguese units, forming the French 10th Corps under King Jerome.

June 10th, the regional campaign starts, sees GM Am Ende cross the Saxon border and quickly control Dresden with his Brunswick and Hesse-Kassel small Frei corps allies joining him. Further northwestern marching towards Leipzig quickly ends with the cautious and indecisive GM Am Ende, a true Austrian commander, when faced by the energetic Saxon local commander von Thielmann. Oberst von Thielmann, soon joined by the marching Saxon-Polish command of GM von Dyherrn’s return from Poland, falls back before the Austrian torpid advance till joined by King Jerome’s 10th Corps at Leipzig (June 23rd). The combined Saxon and Westphalian forces immediately advanced on Dresden, with GM Am Ende quickly retreating across the Austrian border post-haste before their advance. Meanwhile, FML Radivojevich has crossed the Eger area border and occupies Bayreuth, while sending raiding groups towards Bamberg and Nuremberg. By the end of June, these raiding groups are forced to retire by the gathering French Reserve Corps under Marshal Kellermann at Hanau, soon to be commanded by GD Junot.

The start of July found FML Radivojevich back in Bayreuth and then compelled to retire on Bindloch on July 6th, the same time period days of the savage battle of Wargram. While GM Am Ende returned to Austrian territory, regrouping his command and remained camped across the Austrian border, FML Radivojevich soon had two separate French forces moving in his direction at the start of July. GD Jean-Andoche Junot, who recently taken the place of Kellermann in command of the Reserve Corps at Hanau, marched from Hanau to Wurzburg then towards Bamberg (July 5th). At Bamberg Junot is joined by GD Jean Delaroche with Bavarian depot battalion and two raw French provisional dragoon regiments coming north from Bavarian territory. With the enlarged, but untrained mounted arm available, GD Junot continues his advance against the worried FML Radivojevich, who quickly retreats towards Bindloch, as the French re-occupy Bayreuth.

FML Kienmayer rides to the rescue and arrives sometime during Am Ende’s early adventure into Saxony then retirement back to Austrian territory. Quickly he brought purpose to the enterprise and apprehensive about his forces being separated and facing superior enemy formations, he decides to exploit his central position to defeat each of the Franco-German corps in turn. Feeling the X Corps are overly enjoying their stay at pleasant Dresden, he saw Junot’s advance against FML Radivojevich as the immediate threat to his two corps. Dividing Am Ende’s command in half, he marches quickly westward toward Plauen, leaving the remainder under GM Am Ende to guard the border passes into Austria. Radivojevich’s ADC carrying messages for aid reach FML Kienmayer at Plausen (July 5th). Told to hold the Bindloch for as long as possible in reply notes, Kienmayer marches to Hof and aid of Radivojevich, leaving the Brunswick and Hessian troops at Plausen for the moment. Pressured by Junot’s advance, FML Radivojevich unknowing of FML Kienmayer’s response and actions, slowly retires to Gefrees. Under direct skirmishing with the French advance troops, Radivojevich holds Grefees position during the night of July 7th.

Gefrees and view of the surrounding countryside. (Wikipedia photo)

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Battle of Arronches 1801 AAR

Several months ago WR wrote up some background material on the War of the Oranges (Guerra de las Naranjas) during 1801, fought between the invading Spanish army and the defending Portuguese as the main players. Secondary French forces, along with a small French emigrate (English) contingent, marching in the respective rear areas just to add flavor to the proceedings. Later on WR wrote up an enlarged historical scenario engagement between the Spanish and Portuguese armies based upon an action fought near the old town of Arronches in Portugal. That scenario now has seen light to the miniature tabletop and the following After Action Report (AAR) is presented to report the miniatures engagement.

To read the actual scenario design and notes, the forces and units involved, and the battlefield terrain detail, WR refers the reader to the Arronches 1801 article posted on Wargamerabbit:  Battle of Arronches 1801

The scenario starting positions has the Portuguese in army confusion and disarray, surprised by the “fast marching” Spanish advance guard division’s arrival during the mid morning siesta period of the Portuguese army. Only the formed Portuguese now “rearguard” (titled the Advance Guard command) and their cavalry brigade are ready to confront the Spanish army while their main infantry division breaks camp and forms their battalions to march. Not a good way to start a miniature scenario, even the Portuguese HQ starts the scenario with their line of communication towards Portalegre threatened by the Spanish Advance Guard’s division arrival. For the reader’s note, since WR has no 1790 era painted Portuguese, he will use his 1790 Reicharmee as stand in’s for the scenario play.

The Arronches battlefield. The town is off to the left. The Spanish are arriving on the central road. The Portuguese cavalry brigade and escorted wagon train further up the road, across the bridge.

Scenario map. Each square is 12″ or 600 yards.Map legend at right.

View from the west. Clearly the Portuguese 2nd Division is strung out leaving Arronches, heading towards the Portalegre road which has the cavalry brigade and train. Spanish upper right corner. Portuguese “rearguard” and HQ positioned in Arronches.

View from the north. The 2nd Division, cavalry brigade, trains, seen on the battlefield in their starting positions. WR still has to place various “camp and civilians” around the 2nd Division to reflect its “in camp status”.

The eastern table view to complete the 360′ viewing of the terrain and miniature command starting positions, using the wooden block movement system. Dry Caia riverbed clearly marking the battlefield with orange groves across the open fields.

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War of the Oranges 1801

The May-June 1801 War of the Oranges, or Guerra de las Naranjas in Spanish, was fought in the eastern border region of Portugal, Lasting only 18 days from the initial war declaration to the signing of the Treaty of Badajoz, Spanish military forces, instigated by the government of France under First Consul Bonaparte, and from afar supported by a late arriving French military “corps” in theater, invaded Portugal near the fortress border town of Elvas. Military contact between the armed forces of Portugal and Spain was limited to quick sieges of local Portuguese fortified towns or the main siege of the Elvas border fortress except for a brief mention by Manuel de Godoy about “defeating a Portuguese division” near Arronches. More on that “divisional action” later….

Manuel Godoy reclining during the War of the Oranges. The famous painter Goya painted Godoy in this un-warlike pose.

The war came about when First Consul Bonaparte and his ally, the Spanish prime-minister and Generalissimo Manuel de Godoy, demanded Portugal, the last British ally on the continent, to break her alliance with Britain. History will repeat itself again later with the Franco-Spanish marching back into Portugal in 1807, they must have loved the oranges. Portugal refused to cede to the Franco-Spanish demands as standard state policy between Portugal and Spain, and, in late May 1801, French regional detachment troops started to arrive at the northern Franco-Spanish border, preparing to march quickly through the warm summer of Spain towards the Portuguese border. Meanwhile, Spanish regiments under the command of Diego de Godoy (brother of Manuel de Godoy), who commanded the Spanish Army of Extremadura of five divisions, mustered themselves near the Spanish-Portuguese border, in particular near Badajoz of later fame.

Period map of the area and Spanish border. To understand the map, “north” is to the right so the top edge is “west”, the bottom is “east”, and the left direction “south”. The modern-day disputed territory is the “finger” of Olivenca east (below) of the river Guadiana present day border.

The Spanish cross-border attack to Portugal started on the early morning of the 20th of May, and focused on the Portuguese Elvas border region that included the main garrison town and fortifications of Elvas and the smaller fortified towns of Campo Maior, Olivença (Olivenza in Spanish) and Juromenha at start. Typical ancient regime warfare… go for the fortresses and watch the enemy army, which for Portugal, was hasty marched into their eastern half of the country, as their militia fortress garrisons dusted off the cannon when war seemed imminent.

From the Cary map of Portugal 1801. WR has highlighted the named towns of Portugal with a red box. Badajoz is near right edge marked as “Bad…”

Modern overhead view of the historical town of Elvas. Clearly the outline of the town fortifications can be seen, including the hornwork upper right. Google Elvas fortress for more.

View of the old fortress of Juromenha from the land side. The other side faces the Guadiana river and Spanish border.

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Battle of Halle 1806 AAR

Back on November 18th, or two weekends ago, WR ran his Battle of Halle 1896 scenario on the warren gaming tables. The outcome and AAR below covers the close action of the Prussians trying to fight their way northward and the two-step French process of seizing the Hohe Brücke covered bridges then their attempted breakout to block the Prussian Reserve Command from exiting the tabletop on the Dessau road.

After introductions and a brief pre-game discussion on the Halle scenario, both player teams (six players) set about the scenario opening turns. The background WR report for this interesting 1806 campaign battle can be read here: Battle of Halle 1806

Opening situation has the French I Corps under Marshal Bernadotte arriving and preparing to attack the Prussian outpost deployed before the Hohe Brücke covered bridges leading into old town Halle proper. Leading the French Corps is the 1st Division under GD Dupont and alongside is the Corp’s light cavalry brigade under GB Tilly. Following in road march are the two other French infantry divisions: the 2nd Division under GD Rivaud and the 3rd Division under GD Drouet. The forward Prussian Advance guard is commanded by GM von Hinrich while the bulk of the Prussian Reserve command is stationed south of Halle on the eastern side of Saale river. The Prussian Reserve Command consists of two Infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade. The 1st Reserve Division under GM von Natzmer, the 2nd Reserve Division under GM von Jung-Larisch, and the Reserve cavalry brigade under Oberst von Hertzberg.

With the forces positioned to start the scenario, the curtain veil parts with the two sides within artillery bombardment and charge range….

Opening 1000 hours scene. GD Dupont’s 1st Division with GB Tilly light cavalry brigade arrive before the Prussian fusilier outposts at Halle and Hohe Brücke covered bridges.

The rest of the Prussian Reserve command is positioned just south of Halle and in reserve. Their movement is triggered by French movement into Halle or crossing the Saale river. Each rectangular wooden block represents a divisional command.

The Halle 1806 scenario notes file (.doc): Halle 1806 Scenario Notes

Halle 1806 scenario tabletop map. Each map square is 12″ by 12″ to correspond to the tabletop.

Same scenario map for Halle 1806 but with the starting positions marked by the command counters. Arriving commands just on map edge pending scheduled arrival.

Scenario start 1000 hours: French have first movement (side 1) on the tabletop. Before the French Movement phase however, the Prussians have their Cavalry Charge Declaration phase (sequence of play chart at end of this article). So the two small Prussian detachments (dragoons and hussars) sound their trumpets. French morale tests passed, the French unit movement is slowed due to the Prussian charge zone (halved).

Prussian hussar and dragoon detachments open the scenario with their declared cavalry charges. French are not impressed by the token Prussian charge…. but French movement is slowed.

French finish their unit movements. The Prussian small hussar detachment charge home on the 2nd French Hussars during the Shock phase. French counter-charge but lose the sword play brawl for the moment and retire. Continuing their charge, the Prussian hussars impact the maneuvering 5th French Chasseurs in the flank, sending them packing to the rear. Prussians win the first fights. Continue reading

Battle of Halle 1806

In basic summary, the Battle of Halle October 17, 1806 was fought with a French corps led by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte against the Prussian Reserve command led by Eugene Frederick Henry, Duke of Württemberg. The French defeated their opponents across the river Saale, forcing the Prussians to retreat generally northeast toward Dessau after suffering heavy losses. The city of Halle is located about 30 kilometers northwest of Leipzig, location of the large later 1813 battle, but for this campaign just a march stop by the victorious French army passing through towards Berlin.

Marshal Bernadotte’s I Corps consisted of 19,000 veteran infantry, 1,580 cavalry, and 34 artillery pieces. GD Dupont de l’Etang led 7,000-man 1st Division, GD Rivaud de la Raffinière commanded 6.000-strong 2nd Division, GD Drouet, Comte d’Erlon headed the 6,000-man 3rd Division, GB de Tilly commanded attached corps light cavalry brigade, and GD Eblé commanded I corps artillery reserve cannon. The  French 1st Division consisted of GB Rouyer‘s 9th Legere regiment of three battalions, GB Legendre d’Harvesse’s 32nd and 96th Ligne regiments of two battalions each, and two foot artillery batteries of 12 total guns. The 2nd Division included GB Pacthod‘s 8th Legere regiment of two battalions, GB Maison‘s 45th and 54th Ligne regiments, again of two battalions each, and one horse and one foot artillery battery of 12 total guns. The 3rd Division comprised GB Frère’s 27th Legere regiment of two battalions, GB Werlé‘s 94th Ligne regiment of two battalions, 95th Ligne regiment had three battalions, and one horse and one foot artillery battery of 14 total guns. Note that each infantry division has several small converged 3rd battalion elite company (grenadier and voltiguer) units. GB Tilly’s attached cavalry brigade consisted of the 2nd and 4th Hussar regiments and the 5th Chasseurs à cheval regiment (with GD Drouet for the moment), all of four squadrons each. In the artillery reserve there were one horse and one 12 pdr foot artillery battery of 12 total guns.

Eugene of Württemberg mustered 16,000 Prussian troops in the Prussian Reserve. His Prussian Reserve command included two infantry divisions, an advance guard brigade, and a cavalry reserve. GM von Natzmer’s 1st Division comprised the IR #17 Treskow regiment (detached), the IR #51 Kauffberg regiment, and the #54 Natzmer regiment, all of two musketeer battalions each, Added to the division was the Schmeling and Crety Grenadier converged battalions, and one and a half foot artillery batteries of 12 guns. GM von Jung-Larisch’s 2nd Division consisted of the IR #4 Kalkreuth regiment, the IR #53 Jung-Larisch regiment, and the IR #55 Manstein regiment (two battalions each), plus the Vieregg Grenadier converged battalion, and one and a half foot artillery batteries of 12 guns. GM von Hinrichs‘ Advance Guard brigade, generally positioned to secure the Saale covered bridge crossings, included the Borell Fusilier battalion #9, the Knorr Fusilier battalion #12, and Hinrichs’ own Fusilier battalion #17, two squadrons of Usedom Hussar regiment #10, one squadron of Hertzberg Dragoon Regiment #9, one squadron of Heyking Dragoon Regiment #10, and two 6 pdr. horse artillery pieces. The reserve cavalry command, under Oberst von Hertzberg, comprised the remaining eight squadrons of Usedom Hussar regiment #10, four squadrons of Hertzberg Dragoon regiment #9, four squadrons of Heyking Dragoon regiment #10, and one horse artillery battery of six guns (the other two cannon with advance guard). In total there were 18 battalions, 20 squadrons, and 32 guns.At the close of the victorious French Jena-Auerstedt October 14th battles, Bernadotte had the ended his day’s march for the divisions of GD Drouet and GD Rivaud near Apolda while GD Dupont’s and the corps artillery remained at Dornburg. The position of Tilly’s light cavalry wasn’t described in WR’s sources but WR assumes they were at Apolda with the forward divisions. On the morning of 15 October, Napoleon instructed Bernadotte and I Corps to march to Bad Bibra, Querfurt, and then onwards to Halle, not knowing the true location of Eugene of Wurttemberg’s Reserve command at the time his orders were sent. By the morning of the 16th Bernadotte’s advance guard was about five kilometers north of Bad Bibra. His scouts and locals reported that the Prussian Reserve lay at Halle and planned his attack for the following day.

Back on 10th October, Eugene was marching to Magdeburg. He received new orders to proceed onwards Halle from the council of war held by the Prussian headquarters. On the 13th October, the Reserve arrived at Halle, with a fusilier battalion at Merseburg to the south and another unknown detachment at Leipzig to the southeast acting as outposts. The detached IR #17 Treskow regiment and some hussars was following his line of march, was at Aschersleben (northwest of Halle), en route from Magdeburg to Halle. Continue reading

Battle of Saalfeld 1806 AAR

Since WR hasn’t the capability to play out the major battles of Jena and Auerstaedt with his expanding Prussian 1806 miniature army yet, he plans to explore the Battle of Halle 1806 next after this AAR write-up on his recent Saalfeld 1806 game. But first, the opening campaign and exciting Battle of Saalfeld between Marshal Lannes and Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia.

Scenario opening positions at 1000 hours. Prussian left flank command (Major Rabenau) deployed before old town Saalfeld wall with Jagers at Garnsdorf. French arriving upper left..

Prussian and Saxon main body command under GM von Bevilaqua marches into position between Saalfeld and Crosten village. Prince Louis of Prussia at left before the Prussian 6th Hussars.

Total view of the scenario tabletop from the eastern view. French arrive from left, the old town of Saalfeld at right, and Prussian Saxon main body mid table.

 

 

Saalfeld scenario map drawn to 12″ per square or one inch equals 50 yards. French enter on the lower edge.

Saalfeld scenario map showing the various command counters and starting positions. See Saalfeld scenario notes document (.doc) for details.

For complete details of the Saalfeld 1806 battle and scenario files, please proceed to the Saalfeld 1806 articles recently posted:  Battle of Saalfeld 1806 and the Preparation for Saalfeld.

1000 hours: Opening scenario turn. Team France (Daniel and Luis) have first movement so they immediately assault the village of Garnsdorf starting the scenario within striking distance. Two battalion columns from the 17th Legere are sent against Garnsdorf. The separate small 3rd battalion, formed from the converged elite companies, is sent to skirmish and prevent any Prussian counter response. Deploying from road column, the leading 21st French Chasseurs a’ cheval regiment forms line backing the skirmishers. More French hussars arrive trotting down the Grafenthal to Saalfeld road, followed by their attached small 4 pdr. horse artillery detachment under Lt. Simonnet. Prussian Valentini jagers quickly abandon the Garnsdorf village, odds of 9:1 are well beyond their capability to resist. Major Rabenau deploys up his fusilier battalions across the low-rise Lerchen Hugel while the arriving 6th Hussars are directed to threaten the French downslope advance, joining the left flank Saxon Hussar detachment.

Prussian Saxon main body starts to deploy from battalion columns as the Prussian trains retire westward.

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Battle of Saalfeld 1806

Another FRW / Napoleonic Imperial era campaign period and change of scenery. From the dry lands of the Levant and Italy. WR now looks forward to new military formations, unit names, old school commanders, forests, wet weather, muddy roads, and later on maybe a blizzard on the tabletop. All earmarks of the 1806-07 French, Prussian, and Russian campaign or Wars of the Fourth Coalition. Two months ago WR started preparation for the Battle of Saalfeld 1806 to nudge himself into painting up, organizing, and basing his 1806 era Prussians. WR’s Prussian 1806-07 has been privately labelled or nicknamed the “forgotten army” in the collection but in truth his British army of 1790, 1800, and 1812 era formations are the actual forgotten army, having been mostly painted, even unit organized, and just pending their basing since YR2010. Sometimes projects just go slow in the warren…. and need a bigger nudge to get rolling over the finish line. WR foresees a Peninsular war expansion nudge in his future as he presently has a large Spanish and English allied Portuguese army ready to hold their own on the tabletop while waiting for the British to land in Portugal.

For now it’s the 1806-07 Prussian army’s turn to form up and march across the tabletop. Someplace in the dark, cold, and no doubt snowy forests of Russia (or garage) lurks the Russian 1806-07 28mm miniature army. These allies of Prussia will surely be needed to save the Prussian army from their projected defeat at the hands of the French Grande Armee. But to paint an entire new green coated hoard army…. before the British army in sunny Portugal and Spain? WR will have to turn in his UK passport and identity as an Englishman. Choices for YR2018 painting schedule that WR will have to make…. green or red coats.

Meanwhile, back to the borders of southern Prussia and Saxony. After the weeks of political discussion by men with dusted hair, some written offers or threats, military service call up, and restocking of the fortress magazines, both the French Grand Armee and the Royal Army of Prussia, with their Saxon allies, were only week’s march apart along the southern Prussian / Saxon border. In general the Franconian forest, with its dense woods, hilly terrain, and narrow road passages lay between both armies. The French, with their own Germanic allies, are guided by the golden hand and unified command of Emperor Napoleon and his band of battle-tested Marshals. The Prussians, with their Saxon ally, held councils of war, wrote out long orders, and never really came to unified discussion or purpose of action before joined in conflict on the Jena and Auerstaedt battlefields. For one thing in WR’s favor, unlike some previous era and battles written up, the campaign of 1806, and somewhat 1807, is well documented, with much ink printed, discussing the military formation movement, the French command structure vs. the Prussian system… or lack of a system, the leadership characteristics, and minute details of both armies and their marches.

Taking the offensive in true French style, the French Grande Armee crossed the separating Franconian forest region in three grand columns. The main center column had the advance guard cavalry (Murat), I Corps (Bernadotte), 3rd and 4th Dragoon divisions (Beaumont & Sahuc), then III Corps (Davout). Bring up the tail end of the center column is the Imperial Guard, massed heavy cavalry divisions of D’Hautpoul and Nansouty, the 1st Dragoon division (Klein) and presence of Napoleon and his Imperial headquarters. The right column had IV Corps (Soult) and VI Corps (Ney) securing the eastern approaches and heading for Hof and then maybe threaten Dresden. The left column had V Corps (Lannes) and VII Corps (Augereau) directed towards Saalfeld then later on Jena. First to encounter the Prussians and Saxons, the center column advance guard cavalry, led by Marshal Murat, and Bernadotte’s light cavalry of I Corps encounter their Prussian – Saxon foes near the town of Schleiz.

West Point atlas early 1806 campaign map showing the three French ‘grand’ columns marching into Prussian-Saxon territory.

The Battle of Schleiz took place on October 9, 1806, between a Prussian-Saxon division under GM Bogislav Friedrich Emanuel von Tauentzien marching to rejoin Hohenlohe’s army near Jena, and leading infantry division (of Marshal Bernadotte I Corps) under the command of Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d’Erlon and some leading cavalry regiments, led personally by Marshal Murat. It was the first clash of many in the War of the Fourth Coalition.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brushing aside minor pickets and seizing a bridge crossing, the first significant clash occurred between the troops of Marshal Bernadotte and GM Tauentzien occurs near the Oschitz Wood, a belt of forest which lies south of the town of Schleiz. Marshal Bernadotte ordered GB François Werlé to clear the forest to the left as GD Drouet’s division advanced on Schleiz. In the thick woods, the infantry (27th Legere leading, supported by 94th and 95th Ligne, moved ahead while Watier’s cavalry regiments followed behind. GB Werlé’s advance guard entered and took possession of the woods but was prevented from continuing on by a Prussian force encountered under GM Rudolf Ernst Christoph von Bila. By 2:00 pm, the French were in growing strength and GM Tauenzien decided to abandon Schleiz, retiring to his supports further northwest. The Prussian division fell back to the north covered by GM Bila’s rear guard of one infantry battalion and one and a half cavalry regiments. GD Drouet attacked Schleiz at 4:00 pm and drove out the last of the Prussians. North of the town, Marshal Murat charged the rear guard with the 4th Hussar regiment, but this attack was repulsed by the Prussian fresh horsemen (Bila 11th Hussars and Saxon Pz. Johann Chevaulegers). When the 5th Chasseurs à Cheval regiment arrived with light infantry support, Marshal Murat pressed back Bila’s troops to the woods north of Oettersdorf where the action basically ended for the day.

Earlier and before the opening morning volleys, GM Tauentzien had sent Major Hobe with one battalion, one squadron, and two guns to Crispendorf about six kilometers west of Schleiz. Major Hobe’s assignment was to guard the right flank and maintain communications with GM Schimmelpfennig’s 6th Hussars in Pößneck, who was linking the front outpost chain to Prinz Louis near Saalfeld further on. When GM Tauenzien began to fall back, Major Hobe’s detachment retreated to the northeast to rejoin his division. Near Pörmitz, a village roughly four kilometers north of Schleiz, the detachment found itself caught between Marshal Murat’s cavalry and one of GD Drouet’s battalions. Attacked in a marshy forest, Major Hobe’s force was badly mauled and lost one of its cannons. Most of the losses in the battle were from Hobe’s luckless detachment. The Prussians and Saxons lost 12 officers and 554 rank and file killed, wounded, captured, and missing, as well as one artillery piece captured for the day’s fighting. French losses are unknown to history but probably light. For the central French Grande Armee column, the engagements around Schietz ended active combat till the Battles of Jena / Auerstaedt on October 14th. Continue reading