I have found the following in my book `1813 Leipzig` page 238
`The Baden General Wilhelm Graf Hochberg’ terse recollection of the events of this dramatic day reads as follows:
At nine o’clock on the morning of 18th October a heavy bombardment began. The Duke of Padua did not leave his quarters all day; indeed, he wanted me to stay with him, but in view of my duties, I refused to do this. He called me to him several times during the night and was extremely worried. In short, I could not comprehend his conduct.
As the Austrians had withdrawn from Lindenau, the withdrawal of the French army began and I sent back my carriage, all the baggage and the artillery to Weissenfels during the night.
Marcellin de Marbot’s memoirs give us a general idea of the state of the French army’s morale as the likelihood of retreat became a reality:
Napoleon had no alternative but to order a withdrawal. This would be extremely difficult considering the terrain we held. It consisted of meadows, wet ditches and three small rivers with many small defiles which we now had to cross under the eyes of the enemy. And it was clear that the enemy would exploit our problems at every opportunity.
Of course, all these obstacles could have been overcome, had the ditches, minor streams and particularly the Pleisse, the Parthe and — especially — the Elster, which received many tributaries around the town, been provided in good time with an adequate number of wide bridges. The material to build these essential bridges was available in abundance in Leipzig and its suburbs and surrounding villages. And there had been plenty of time and plenty of labour available to build them since we had taken up position at Leipzig. Even on the 17th much could have been done.
Despite this, astoundingly, absolutely nothing had been done in this direction. In a convergence of unfortunate circumstances and irresponsible negligence and omissions by the responsible authorities, no attention had been given to this eminently important aspect.
Nothing can conceal this monstrous fact. Among all the documents that have been preserved for us on this famous battle there is not one, in fact not a single one that could serve as proof that any provision had been made for a retreat if this had been needed.
None of the officers that survived the catastrophe, no historian or any other writer that has described this gigantic battle, has been able to prove that the commanders of this army ordered such preparations, or even thought about the building of such crossing points or of the preservation of existing bridges.
In fact, it is only General Pelet — a great admirer of Napoleon — who, some fifteen years after the battle, wrote that the Commissary General Odier (also Commissary of the Imperial Guard) repeatedly assured him during the morning planning conference (he does not say which day) that he was present when Napoleon ordered a general of the general staff to consider the building of bridges and gave him the responsibility for this task.
General Pelet does not mention the name of the general concerned, but it would be very interesting and important to learn who it was. `
So, the topic had apparently been raised and - incredibly - let fall.
The composition of the terrain to be crossed is also mentioned: `meadows, wet ditches and three small rivers . . . ` Materials, time and labour were all available.
Curioser and curioser.