Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns


 


The Prussian-Saxon Army at Jena: 14 October 1806

By Stephen Millar


Napoleon’s 1806 Prussian Campaign was decided on 14 October with the defeat of the Allied field armies at the Battles of Jena and Auerstadt. At Auerstadt – or more specifically, the village of Hassenhausen – an out-numbered Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout successfully fought a desperate defensive battle against five divisions of the main Prussian army commanded Generalfeldmarschall Karl, Herzog zu Braunschweig-Luneburg-Wolfenbuttel. At Jena, the odds were reversed: Napoleon used his increasing numerical-superiority (initially 46,000 men; increasing to 96,000 men) to crush both the Prussian-Saxon allied army under the command of General der Infanterie Friedrich-Ludwig, Erbprinz zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen and a hastily-summoned Prussian corps under the command of Generalleutnant Ernst-Friedrich-Wilhelm-Philipp von Ruchel.

Many of the online and published sources relating to Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen’s and Ruchel’s divisional organization on 14 October are incomplete, misleading and/or contradictory. Previous re-organization after the defeats of Generalmajor von Tauentzein at the Engagement of Schliez (8 October) and Generalleutnant Louis-Ferdinand, Prinz von Prussen at the Battle of Saalfeld (10 October) adds to the historical uncertainty. In addition, Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen’s jumbled, bi-national Order-of-Battle and his scattered unit deployment prior to Napoleon’s attack make accurate secondary-source research a difficult task.

In contrast to La Grande Armee, the majority of the divisions in the Royal Prussian Army of 1806 contained organic heavy-cavalry brigades. While the cuirassier and dragoon regiments of these brigades gave Prussian divisional commanders additional ‘weight,’ the scattering of these regiments made it very difficult to co-ordinate effective, large-scale cavalry charges (one of the factors which later contributed to the Prussian defeat at the Battle of Auerstadt).
‘Advanced guard’ brigades -- composed of fusilier battalions, light cavalry squadrons and jaeger companies from Oberst Johann-David-Ludwig von Yorck’s light infantry regiment – were also attached at the divisional level for reconnaissance and/or skirmishing roles. In contrast to the line regiments and grenadier battalions, Prussian light infantry did not possess any battalion artillery.

Estimates of Hohenlohe-Inglefingen’s Prussian-Saxon army on 14 October usually range from 50 battalions, 74 squadrons and 12 ½ batteries [37,000 men] to 50 battalions, 77 squadrons and 15 batteries [46,500 men] -- with between 74 and 120 guns. Some sources cite his total strength as high as 53,000 men. Many of these estimates do not include Ruchel’s Corps, which, although it fought at Jena, was a separate command. Ruchel is believed to have arrived on the battlefield with 12,000-15,000 troops.

Two Prussian formations in the theatre of operations were not present at either Jena or Auerstadt: the Prussian General Reserve Corps (15,000 men in 18 battalions, 20 squadrons and 4 batteries under Generalleutnant Eugen-Friedrich-Heinrich, Herzog von Wurttemberg-Stuttgart) and the main army’s ‘Advanced Guard’ detachment at Ilmenau (9 battalions, 20 squadrons and 2 batteries under General der Kavallerie Karl-August, Herzog von Sachsen-Weimar). Wurttemberg’s troops were defeated on 17 October by elements of Marshal Jean-Baptiste-Jules Bernadotte’s corps at the Battle of Halle; Sachsen-Weimar’s command -- subsequently commanded by Generalleutnant Christian-Ludwig von Winning – surrendered to French forces on 7 November at Ratekau.

Prussian-Saxon Army: 49 battalions, 77 squadrons and 12 batteries
Prussian-Saxon Army: 64 battalions, 107 squadrons and 15 ½ batteries [including Ruchel]

Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, General der Infanterie Friedrich-Ludwig, Erbprinz zu; Commander

 

Massenbach, Oberst Christian-Karl-August-Ludwig, Freiherr von; Chief-of-Staff*

Note:

* Some sources list Oberst Eberhard-Friedrich-Fabian, Freiherr von Massenbach holding this staff position.

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: July 2004

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