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