Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns

The Campaign of 1814: Chapter 11 Part II

By: Maurice Weil

Translated by: Greg Gorsuch


(after the Imperial and Royal War Archives at Vienna)







Retreat Diebitsch onto the Great Army.  --Positions of Marmont and Grouchy.  --Following the retreat of the Army of Silesia on Châlons, the presence of Diebitsch beside Montmirail had no purpose.  Too weak to do something serious, the light cavalry division of the Russian guard was, however too large a group to be able to escape the attacks of the enemy and move in secret as an ordinary flying corps.  His detachment that could be of some use as Blücher operated on the left bank of the Marne, whose goal was to establish a semblance of connection between the two great allied armies, was useless since it was known that Blücher was at Châlons, Winzingerode and Bülow in march to join him, and since the two armies had in fact effected their junction.  Marmont[1] had , indeed, managed to reoccupy Montmirail.  Going around the city by Orbais and Fontenailles he had chased the cavalry of Diebitsch, first from the area of L'Épine, then from the city and then the second position it had been sent to take at Maclaunay, on the left bank of the Petit-Morin.  Joined en route by Prince Lubomirski, Diebitsch withdrew from Pont-Saint-Prix on the Great Army.

Marmont, sick, unable to ride, stayed for three days at Montmirail.  He gave some rest to his 2,400 men formed into 47 battalions and his 900 horses, "all are worn out," as he wrote the 21st to the Chief of Staff, "by fifty-three days of winter marching and fighting where all that was best had perished."

Grouchy with his cavalry and the Leval Division was still in La Ferté-sous-Jouarre.  Misled by false information, he did not know whether to join the Duke of Raguse or move on Guignes to follow the movement of the Emperor.  It was only the next day that an order from the Chief of Staff put an end to his hesitation and he decided to come to confer with the Marshal at Montmirail.

Soissons was the 17th in the morning reoccupied by the 10th Hussars.  The road from Soissons to Compiègne was free, and Mortier, who had taken position in Villers-Cotterêts, knew that the Russians of Winzingerode had been directed to Reims by Berry-au-Bac.

Reorganization of the Army of Silesia.  --Burning with desire to resume operations as quickly as possible, Blücher had used the day of the 17th to reorganize his army corps.  His battalions were uniformly reformed to a minimum size of 400 men.  The 18 line battalions of the Ist Corps combined together, back in the evening of the 16th, were reduced to 12; the 14 battalions of landwehr to 4.  The Ist Corps thus consisted at that time of 16 battalions, two jäger companies, two companies of pioneers, 33 squadrons and 86 guns, representing a total of 13,679 combatants.
The IInd Corps completed its reorganization a few days later and only consisted of 13 battalions, three of reserves, 40 squadrons and seven batteries, with a total that reached 9,800 men after the arrival of the troops of General von Klux.

At the former repartition of infantry brigades, when divisions were substituted in the organization, command was given in the Ist Corps to Prince William of Prussia and General von Horn, in the IInd Corps to generals von Pirch I and von Klux with however, the difference that the whole IInd Corps was placed under the command of Prince Augustus of Prussia.  General von Jürgass retained command of the cavalry reserve of the Ist Corps.  In the IInd Corps, Zieten was put at the head of all the cavalry after the arrival of cuirassiers of Brandenburg, the uhlans of Silesia and the dragoons of Neumark, that General von Roeder led from the Meuse and, as the infantry General von Klux, did not join until 24 February.

The artillery reinforcements and men by Colonel von Lobenthal and guns destined for the IInd Corps, the men the Ist, rallied with the Army of Silesia still later, on 5 March.

The first Russian reinforcements provided by the corps of Langeron and leaving from Mainz, arrived the 18th at Vitry with generals Korff and Rudzevich adding about 8,000 men.[2]

Langeron himself had turned over the blockade of Mainz to the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and followed the first echelon with seven regiments of infantry and five of cavalry.

The Army of Silesia, besides the corps of Winzingerode and Bülow, belonging to the Army of the North, was therefore the 24th at the latest, to resume operations with an effective strength at least equal to that which it had before its disastrous operations on the Marne.[3]

Session of the Congress of Châtillon.  --War Council of Bray.  --Proposal for an armistice.  --While the plenipotentiaries met in Châtillon, deferred to Caulaincourt for the draft treaty by which France renounced all acquisitions made ​​since 1792; while the Duke of Vicence who could not make an immediate response to such a serious communication, returned with a proposal to the representatives of the Allied powers to put off the conference at a later date, the Emperor of Russia, the King of Prussia and Schwarzenberg held at 4 o'clock in Bray a Council of War in which it was decided to send the first orders to Wittgenstein, to Wrede, to the Crown Prince of Württemberg and to Barclay, orders that suggested serious thought, at that time at least, to defend the line of the Seine.  It was at the departure from the Council of War that the Emperor Alexander and Schwarzenberg both wrote to Blücher, the first to engage in marching on Fère-Champenoise and Sézanne leaving Winzingerode on the banks of the Marne, until the arrival of Bülow, the second to inform the Field Marshal of the affairs of Mormant and Nangis, telling him it was impossible for him to continue his advance, and especially to ask him to let him know the positions occupied by the Army of Silesia and the moment that this army would be able to resume the offensive.[4]

But even before the news received at the general headquarters had changed the project of the Generalissimo and motivated sending new orders suggesting the likelihood of impending retirement on Troyes, a far more serious resolution had been taken, a far more compromising approach was decided upon.  In the evening of the 17th, the Emperor of Russia, yielding to the general pressure, authorized Schwarzenberg to offer an armistice to Berthier.  An aide-de-camp of the Generalissimo, Count Paar, had brought in the night of the 17th to 18th, to the French outposts , a letter from Schwarzenberg saying that he believed in the immediate signing of the peace preliminaries, he would give his troops the order to stop without delay all offensive movement.  "They say to me," he added, "that your troops continue to march and I pray, in order to avoid bloodshed, to stop hostilities if you do not want on my side , forcing me to throw them back."

The timing was poorly chosen. Paar failed to reach Berthier, and the Emperor, writing the next day to Joseph[5] and alluding to the proposed armistice, merely said: "It is difficult to be loose at this point...gladly we did not allow the aide-de-camp of Prince Schwarzenberg to enter.  I only received the letter, to which I answer at my leisure. I will grant no armistice to purge my country."

It is difficult to discover the motives which had led Schwarzenberg to try such an approach.  He knew enough to know that the Emperor was not the man to stop when he foresaw the possibility to take advantage of his victories and to grant an armistice, which would have made him lose the benefit of the advantages that he had won.  A similar proposal in which could be seen as a symptom of weakness and discouragement of the Allies would only result in making it more demanding to decide to send on new instructions to Caulaincourt and bring Joseph to declare that he would more likely parlay for peace on the foundations laid in Frankfurt.

18 February 1814.  --Orders of the Emperor.  --At this time, moreover, the Emperor, though willing to accept a solid and honorable peace was concerned above all with the next day's operations.  Until one o'clock in the morning, he waited with increasing impatience for a report of Victor, informing him of the arrival of the 2nd Corps in Montereau.  Reading this report, received at the Imperial Headquarters a little after one o'clock, put the finishing touch to his exasperation.  The slowness and sluggishness of Victor would , in his opinion, jeopardize the success of the campaign and already unhappy with the little force that the Marshal had deployed attacking Villeneuve, he ordered the Chief of Staff in reproaching in driest terms, in calling upon to explain why he had stopped on the road, and tell him that his troops complained that they could never find him and were never given orders during fighting.[6] More nervous and anxious than he had ever been, he still sent two hours later, at 3:30 am, one of the aides de camp of Berthier to Victor to personally order him to move right away everything he had by way of troops in Salins to Montereau, the sappers and Seamen of the Guard, Engineers, 12 batteries, and get there no later than 6 o'clock in the morning with his infantry.  He informed him first, that Charpentier and Allix marched from Melun on Fontainebleau finally the importance of crossing faster to the left bank of the Seine, to strongly pursue the enemy.  Macdonald had orders to go the 18th to Donnemarie and then continue to Bray; Oudinot and Valmy were pushing forward from Provins, "marching tightly" and send him news .

Positions of the IVth Corps the 18th in the morning.  --On the 18th in the morning, the Crown Prince of Württemberg had finished concentrating around Montereau 14 battalions , 16 squadrons and 4 batteries of the Württemberg Corps and 5 battalions , 5 squadrons, 4 batteries and a company of Austrian pioneers, representing an effective total of about 15,000 men.

Just over 9,000 men, 1000 horses and 54 guns were to be, at the beginning of the day, assigned to defend the outskirts of Montereau.  The 18th in the morning the troops occupied, by order of the Crown Prince , the following positions: On the left wing, two battalions of the light infantry regiment of the  Württemberg brigade of Stockmeyer guarding the village and gardens of Villaron.[7]  A battalion of the 9th Jäger Regiment stood in the vineyards located near that village, on the side of Surville; a battalion of the Austrian infantry regiment of Joseph Colloredo, from the brigade of Schaeffer, in the vineyards to the left of the road to Valence.  Four squadrons of Archduke Ferdinand hussars were stationed between this road and Les Ormeaux, and the 5th Württemberg Mounted Jäger Regiment, in front of the battalion of Colloredo, straddling the road.  This cavalry formed with the Austrian battalion, the extreme left of the line of battle.  Half of a horse battery took position on the road to Valence; the other half battery before the village of Ormeaux.

In the center, three battalions of the brigade of Schaeffer (Austrian 15th Infantry Regiment, Baron Zach) were in the château of Surville, in front of the suburb on the right bank of the Seine.  The battalion of the regiment to the left, under the command Major Collard, was especially used as a reserve and to support the left wing.  The 5th battalion of this brigade (belonging to the regiment of Joseph Colloredo) stood in front of Surville on the side of a hill and on the side where the plateau descends to Forges, extended the line of skirmishers of the Stockmeyer Brigade posted at Ormeaux and bordering the ravine that occur to the right of this village.  On the heights of Surville in the direction of Ormeaux and thence to towards the Seine, trenches were started to be dug and a line of defense erected, that also unfinished, would not get any service.  Two Austrian batteries took position in front of Surville, and two pieces of 6 had been placed in at the exit of Surville Park, on the side of Salins.

On the right wing, the 4th battalion of the Stockmeyer Brigade (a battalion of the 9th Jäger Regiment of Württemberg), placed under the command of Major General Schaeffer, was established at the foot of the heights of Surville and occupied some isolated houses in the direction of Salins and Nangis.  A squadron of Archduke Ferdinand hussars provided outposts on the road, behind the Château Courbeton.

The Crown Prince of Wurttemberg ran through the line early in the morning.  Struck by the numerical weakness of the troops who defended the position, he immediately crossed at La Tombe onto the right bank of the Seine, the Württemberg infantry brigade (regiments nos. 2 and 7) of General Döring with a battery of six and arranged four battalions of the 2nd and 7th Infantry Regiments behind Ormeaux and two battalions on the two sides and a little before the village.

The whole position was now entirely occupied by five battalions and nine squadrons, about 8,540 infantry, 1000 cavalry and 26 guns.  He kept on the left bank two batteries (12 pieces ) of the Austrian Ist Corps of which commanded the roads from Salins and Laval, while the other was responsible for supporting the left wing.  The Württemberg cavalry brigade of General Jett (twelve squadrons of the 3rd Crown Prince Dragoon Regiment, 2nd Mounted Jäger of Duke Louis and the 4th Mounted Jäger of Prince Adam, and a horse battery) had taken a position not far from the suburb of Saint-Maurice, having behind it at the farm of Motteux, the four battalions of the 4th and 5th Württemberg Infantry Regiments, forming with a battery with the brigade of Prince Hohenlohe.[8]  --In all four battalions, 12 squadrons and 12 guns.

The Battle of Montereau.  --The Emperor, instead of having, from the 18th in the morning, a debouchment as he had thought from the bridge of Montereau onto the left bank of the Seine, was forced to resign to a combined attack of the heights of the right bank.  Pajol with his cavalry division, followed distantly by the infantry of Pacthod expected to arrive on the left of the Crown Prince, while the 2nd Corps and reserves of Paris attacked his right.

At 4 o'clock in the morning, Pajol left his positions in front of Châtelet and had placed in march by the following order : "The Delort Brigade, preceded by a strong advanced guard, scouts and feels out the ground.  It is followed by the Brigade of General Coëtlosquet behind which march 800 foot gendarmes with a light artillery company.  The dragoon brigade of General Grouvel, which comes after the artillery, precedes the National Guard division of General Pacthod, which marches with a light artillery company at the center of the column formed by the infantry.  The corps of General Pajol consisted at this time of 3,000 National Guardsmen, 800 gendarmes from Spain and 1500 cavalrymen.  But they were young and inexperienced horsemen:  among them was found those who had only been mounted on horses for fifteen days.  Most could neither lead their horses or handle their weapons.  Even if they could hold their reins in one hand and sword in another, they needed both hands to execute a to-the-right or a to-the-left.  The artillery was in similar conditions.  Finally, the National Guard were not dressed and were not accustomed to war; the men and officers lacked composure."[9]

At 6 o'clock in the morning, at the entrance of wood of Valence scouts reported the presence of squadrons of the Archduke Ferdinand Hussars.  General Delort called for a stop and sent a strong reconnaissance, which soon returned warning that the enemy withdrew and the wood was evacuated.

The outposts of the Austrian hussars were indeed abandoned to the opposite edge of the woods and from there up to the positions occupied by the infantry stationed in the vineyards before des Ormeaux.  At 8 o'clock, the cavalry of Pajol arrived at the edge of the wood.  Master of the outlet, the General wanted to continue his march toward the plateau of Surville; but his lead platoon was welcomed by the discharge of the battery placed on the left wing of the IVth Corps.  The French vanguard was scattered right and left, and the whole column halted ...

"The area where the corps of Pajol operated alone stopped, to the east, on the parish road that connects Les Petites-Maison, Le Plat-Buisson, and Les Ormeaux.  This area was crossed from northwest to southeast along the main road from Paris to Lyon which divides into two unequal portions, that of the west being the bigger.  To go from the farm of Dragon-Bleu to Montereau, it first had to traverse a flat surface, then slowly climb to the top of the plateau to descend again very quickly on Montereau.  Pajol placing his unmounted gendarmes in skirmishing order along the edge of the wood, facing the plateau of Surville, and, protected by his skirmishers, took his battle dispositions."

"The cavalry had debouched on the plain by the lateral paths.  The Coëtlosquet Brigade and the Grouvel Brigade took to the left and were established between the Le Plat-Buisson and Forges, the first in battle formation, the second in a 2nd line at a great distance in close column.  The Delort Brigade turned to the right and spread itself before the infantry hidden by the vines of La Grande-Paroisse.[10]"

Around 9 o'clock, a French column coming by the road from Salins and Laval attacked Courbeton and Saint- Jean, at the moment when the Crown Prince received the order from the Generalissimo to hold Montereau at least until nightfall.  The French pushed back on this point, did not renew their attempt and concentrated all their efforts against Les Ormeaux.[11]

"This move allowed Pajol to move his line of battle before Dragon-Bleu, artillery and infantry on the right and left of the road , the cavalry on the wings.  At the extreme right, where the resistance was less energetic, the Delort Brigade started clearing the ground; the infantry moved off after it to assure possession from the road to the Seine."[12]

The two attempted attacks against Ormeaux, first by General Châtaux , the second by General Duhesme failed.  A third attack, this time combined with an attack directed from the Valence road against the left flank of General Stockmeyer, was on the verge of success; but when the General Châtaux reached by a turning movement to gain the first houses in the suburb of Paris, he fell mortally wounded: his troops stopped, hesitated.  The Crown Prince took advantage of this hesitation by launching on them the 3rd Infantry Regiment, led by General Döring in person throwing out the French troops into the valley and capturing Colonel Lecouteulx, aide de camp of Berthier, 4 officers and 60 men and seizing three cannons.[13]

At the same time , the cavalry of the IVth Corps supported by an Austrian battalion advanced against Valence and obliged the French cavalry to fall back into the woods.

It was 11 o'clock.  The Crown Prince had so far managed to hold onto all his positions, and Marshal Victor, baffled by this resistance, decided to await to resume the offensive, on the arrival of reinforcements that must bring him Gerard.  He restricted himself, meanwhile, in pushing against the positions of IVth Corps long strings of skirmishers and sought to take advantage of the superiority of his artillery to prepare for the final assault.  The firing of French artillery subjected the IVth Corps to such critical losses, the actual effectives dropped to such an extent that, about 2 o'clock, the Crown Prince sent one of his aides de camp to warn the Generalissimo he would try to hold out until evening, but that it would be impossible in the situation of the French renewing their attack with superior forces."[14]

The French were preparing , in fact, a new attack under the protection of their artillery.  The Emperor was about to arrive on the battlefield.  But even before appearing on the field, more and more irritated against Victor[15] whose explanations had not satisfied him with the slowness and mistakes that made it ​​necessary to fight an engagement since morning, made ​​him lose all day and perhaps would deprive him of the bridge of Montereau, he was relieved of his command and assigned at one o'clock the 2nd Corps to General Gerard.[16]  This general officer took over the direction of the combat,  calling back the skirmishers of Duhesme poorly engaged in a low lying terrain, reformed his infantry and little by little silenced the Württemberg artillery whose fire alone had permitted the Crown Prince to foil the attacks of the 2nd Corps.

Around 3 o'clock, the Emperor arrived in person from Nangis, ordered into four columns of attack which were given the objective of the plateau Surville and Montereau and which marched,  the first by road from Valence, the second by Les Ormeaux , the third on the chateau of Surville.  The fourth, the lead , standing in the valley, the road from Salins and Château Courbeton, against the right wing of the IVth Corps and the suburb of Montereau, while Pajol, whose troops formed the column of the French extreme right, deployed before the woods of Valence and sought to gain ground in front with his cavalry.  The Guard was in reserve before Laval, at the level of Forges.  The converging fire of artillery, directed on the Château Surville, prepared for and facilitated the attack.[17]

Meanwhile, Gerard did not remain inactive.  The generals Dufour and La Hamelinaye have already been brought forward; at 3 o'clock, they were able to capture a part of the village des Ormeaux and forcing the Austro-Württemberg to focus more on the plateau of Surville.  "This slight backward movement allowed Pajol get around Les Ormeaux and gain the prize: he held at that time a line perpendicular to the road to Paris and approach Surville, while the troops of Gerard begin to push back the defenders.  The success gave confidence to the troops of Pajol. Some good cavalry charges, some vigorous movements of the infantry forced back the Württemberg left wing on the suburb or Saint-Nicolas, where Gerard, finally master of the Surville plateau, directed his right wing."[18]

The troops of the Crown Prince were exhausted by a struggle that lasted from the morning and the heavy losses they had suffered.  His artillery had most of its pieces taken or disabled.  Threatened on the right, a little after 3 o'clock, by a column of chasseurs à cheval which had debouched en mass from Saint -Germain, Laval and Château Courbeton against Saint- Jean and the suburb of Montereau,[19] he sought to finish the fight and to ensure, under the best possible conditions, a retirement that the terrain, nature and the narrowness of the defile made ​​particularly difficult and dangerous.  His cavalry and artillery had already passed through the defile at a trot and had arrived on the left bank of the Seine without having suffered too serious losses.  His infantry began its retirement in echelon. The Austrian brigade of Schaeffer was ordered to hold the château  of Surville until the Württemberg battalions had reached the bridge of Montereau.  A few companies of infantry still posted in the neighboring vineyards of the road from Valence tried to stop the movement directed against this brigade fully in the open and completely uncovered by the retreat of the cavalry.  But Pajol guessed the intentions of the Crown Prince, and when he noticed what crossed by the Surville heights, he rushed against the infantry of the left wing, the crushing, the breakup and success, managed by the speed and impetuosity of his charge, to cause a complete rout.  The troops of the Crown Prince, unable to rally for a renewed effort, accelerated with increased speed its retirement, turning it into a rout.  The Württemberg battalions, which, followed by the Châtaux Division withdrew in echelon from des Ormeaux, having not yet managed to reach the château of Surville, were already, as well as the Austrian regiment of Baron Zach attacked by troops of Duhesme, and much more in danger of being cut off from Montereau as the general movement ordered by the Emperor drew increasingly against the center and right of the Crown Prince.  The Allied infantry, pushed and pressed by the French infantry rushed in disorder towards the city and the bridges, trying to gain and descend faster the steep slopes of the southern slope of the plateau of Surville.[20]

"The retreat of the enemy," said General Pajol, "was carried out in disorder through the town of Montereau where the congestion became terrible."  Pajol then suspended the fire of his artillery, which posted on the first bend in the road, at the point where it begins to descend, poured grapeshot into the huddled masses of enemy in the streets.  He ordered General Delort[21] launch at a gallop with his brigade on the bridges of Montereau following the steep slope of the road that descends on the city.  He warned that he would be followed at the same gait with the brigades of Coëtlosquet and Grouvel.  General Delort, after having drawn his sword and formed his brigade in column of platoons, started his movement at a trot and then at a gallop.  When the column was partially engaged on the descent, he ordered the charge.  The brigade fell on Montereau like an avalanche, knocking down everything in its path without being stopped by the well supplied fire of the two battalions of the regiment of Colloredo stationed in the first houses of the suburb to protect the retreat, and quickly crossed the bridges of the Seine and Yonne, without giving the enemy time to blow them up.  The city of Montereau was crossed in a blink of an eye and was found cleared of the enemy fleeing in all directions and that pushed the infantry of the Guard and Gerard arriving at a run by the road from Nangis and the path from Surville.

"At the head of his two other brigades, Pajol[22] also followed with everyone else the brigade of Delort.  After the bridge of the Seine where a mine exploded without removing the keystone and where he had a horse killed under him, the General paused:  he threw General Grouvel with dragoons on the road from Bray and rejoined, with the Coëtlosquet Brigade, General Delort who had stopped at the gate of the town on the road from Fossard where he had been compromised.  Fortunately the terror was too great in the routed army and it was in vain that General Hohenlohe tried several times, with two reserve battalions to rally the fugitives and restore some order in the retreat."

"The audacious cavalry charge of Pajol gloriously ended a battle waged since eight o'clock in the morning; it held for the French army that which Napoleon asked from victory: the bridges of Montereau."

The reports of the Allied generals confirm, moreover, fully, with some variations, the report of Pajol on this charge of such unheard audacity.

"While the masses of French cavalry charged my left wing," said the Crown Prince of Württemberg, "and the few battalions defending the Surville château were cut off and taken with the two pieces placed in battery at the entrance to the suburb, the enemy still launched against the castle and the suburb columns of infantry.  Disorder spread in the troops.  The rout was at its peak when the troops of General Châtaux debouched in the suburbs and the bridge at the same time the Allies and General Coëtlosquet at the head of the 7th Chasseurs à Cheval Regiment, were engaged pell-mell with the Austrian infantry and Württemberg in the suburbs, crossed the bridge and arrived with them, always with them, in the city between the Seine and Yonne.  The confusion and disarray were so great that it was hardly realized by a few people of the presence of French cavalrymen among them.  At the same time the artillery of the Guard took a position just below the château of Surville.  It rained on the left bank a hail of projectiles and put the finishing touch to the rout that only increased the fire and shootings by the inhabitants of Montereau on the fleeing troops."  The Crown Prince of Wurttemberg himself was repeatedly about to be taken.  He owed his salvation to the dedication of the surrounding officers and a counter offensive executed by an infantry battalion, stopping for a moment the enemy, allowing him to get away.  The Crown Prince fell back to the Hohenlohe Brigade that was approaching Montereau; General Jett was ordered to cover, with his brigade of cavalry and a battery, the retreat of the IVth Corps on La Tombe.  "The enemy," says the Prince "quietly followed my rear-guard up to La Tombe.  The Württemberg infantry rallied near Marolles-les-Bray.  My main body is there.  The depletion of my troops and the numerical superiority of the enemy, prevents me from making a new commitment.  So I will fall back on Nogent to effect my junction with the corps of Count Wrede."[23]

In the meantime, Schwarzenberg who planned to resume the offensive in Troyes since he knew, as we shall see later, that Blücher would be in position at Arcis the 21st, had ordered the Crown Prince to go with his ​corps to join the Austro-Bavarians in Bray.[24]

The Battle of Montereau had cost the Austrians and Württembergers: 15 cannons, 1430 men killed and wounded, including 56 officers, and 3,415 prisoners.  The Austrian regiment of Zach alone had lost 25 officers and 1,025 men, and the Colloredo Regiment: 28 officers and 804 men.

Without the charge of Pajol, the retreat of the enemy would not have changed into a rout and the bridges of Montereau would not have been saved.[25]  Unfortunately General Pajol would be obliged by his wounds, to quit the command of the cavalry he had so brilliantly lead to victory.  "Remind General Pajol," the Emperor made the Chief of Staff write to him, 19 February, "of all the interest I take in his wounds and satisfaction I have in his services, including those he made ​​yesterday."

The Emperor had , however, not forgotten the simple cavalrymen of the Pajol Division and from the 18th he had asked the names of the men to whom he owed the preservation of the bridge of Montereau, "because he wanted to reward them all."

The divisions of the 2nd Corps with the dragoons of General Grouvel, occupied Fossard after the battle.  The troops of the Paris Reserve, destined to take the path of Bray the 19th, was established in the suburb of Fontainebleau.  The other two brigades of Pajol settled in Varennes, pushing left on the roads of Moret and Pont-sur-Yonne.  The division of  National Guards of Pacthod remained on the right bank of the Seine.[26] The general headquarters itself was established at Montereau and the route of the army was now by Paris, Melun and Montereau.


[1] Marmont to the Chief of Staff, Montmirail, 17 February, half past nine in the evening. (Archives of the War.)

[2] The troops of General Rudzevich consisted of the Regiments of Starooskolsky and Olonets (Оло́нец), the 29th and 45th Eiger Regiments (22nd Division), and the Regiment of Belozersk, the 48th Eiger (the 17th Division), the Cossack Regiment of  Selivanov II; those of General Korff, the Kargopol Dragoons, the mounted eiger regiments of Seversk and Livonia and the 3rd Regiment of Cossacks of Ukraine.  (Report of the General Neydhardt, Chief of Staff of Langeron to Prince Volkonsky, 4 February, no 19.)

[3] Schwarzenberg, Daily Report to the Emperor of Austria. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II. 357.)

[4] Schwarzenberg to Blücher, Bray, 17 February. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., vol. II, p. 5I0.)

[5] Correspondence, no 21293 .

[6] Correspondence, no 21280 and Records of Berthier; Chief of Staff to Victor, Nangis, 18 February, one o'clock in the morning. (Archives of the War.)

[7] The village designated under the name of "Villaron" in the reports of Allied generals now bears the name of "Les Ormeaux."

[8] Das Commando des Kronprinzen von Würtemberg in den Feldüzgen 1814 und 1815 gegen Frankreich nach amtlichen Quellen herausgegeben von den Offzieren des königlich würtembergischen General Quartiermeisters Stab.

[9] We thought we could emulate the example set by the General Bonie and cite verbatim many passages of the beautiful book that General Pajol dedicated to the memory of his father.  In other places we have, instead, used the reports of the Crown Prince of Württemberg and Journal of the Operations of the Great Army.

[10] PAJOL, Pajol, Commander in Chief.

[11] STÄRKE, Eintheilung und Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monate Februar. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 1.)

[12] PAJOL, Pajol, Commander in Chief.

[13] STÄRKE, Eintheilung und Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monate Februar. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 1.)

[14] STÄRKE, Eintheilung und Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monate Februar (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 1) and Report on the Battle of Montereau (Ibid., II, 547).

[15] The letter is below (Victor to the Chief of Staff, Montigny-Lencoup, seven o'clock in the morning); it had given the Emperor an opportunity to get rid of Victor:

"I will let you know the reasons which prevented me from arriving yesterday, the 17th at Montereau with my troops. A party went there after my orders.  These are the dragoons of Lhéritier and the sappers, but they were forced to return to Salins after having found the enemy in great force at the bridge of Montereau."

"As to the charge contained in your letter that the troops of my command are soft and complain that they can never find me or get from me precise orders on the battlefield, I consider it an outrage that I am addressed by those who are too cowardly to come forward when I 'm in an action where I was ordered.  I refer to the generals who are with me to justify myself in relation to instructions I give them."

"I'm still accused of not having put enough force into the attack of Villeneuve; however I impelled 10,000 men with 3,000 poor soldiers and that because of me being at their head giving them an example.  Besides, I am only doing my duty, but I confess I did not expect to receive insults for a reward."

"These charges are too violent and too unjust to allow me to His Majesty any longer.  I beg Your Highness to permit me to withdraw myself." (Archives of the War.)

Moved by the news of the fatal wound of General Châtaux , son-in-law of Victor, touched by the pain of the Marshal who wanted to take a fusil and march as a soldier with the Guard, the Emperor was soon subdued.  No longer able to give the 2nd Corps to the Marshal, he confided to him the command of the two divisions of the Young Guard.  He did not, however, immediately returned his decision, as alleged in his Manuscript of 1814, since in the same folder on the Marshal (Administrative Archives of the War) the following order of the Emperor, dated from the Château Surville, 20 February 1814:

 "Monsieur the Duke of Feltre, I was unhappy with the Duke of Bellune, but not enough to not use him.  When he has an order to return to Paris, I would have no problem in using him in the 13th or the 16th Military Division..."

But neither the service letter appointing Marshal to the head of the 13th Military Division at Rennes, nor the notice informing him of the appointment General Frere, this division's commander , were ever signed by either the Emperor or by the Minister.

On 23 February, the 2nd leadership demanded these signatures from the Minister who replied stating that it was necessary to await the arrival of Marshal in Paris as he wanted to send him to the 16th Military Division (Lille).

[16]By a quirk of fate, the order in which the Emperor placed Gerard at the head of the 2nd Corps, was taken 3 March at the bridge of Guillotière by the Cossacks who were on the verge of seizing Gerard, is currently in the K. K. Kriegs Archiv. in Vienna, II, 544:

"The Chief of Staff to General Gerard, at the crossroads of Montereau and of Donnemarie, 18 February 1814."

"Monsieur General Gerard, as the Marshal Duke of Bellune has asked to withdraw to home, His Majesty says you are in command of the 2nd Corps."

"Keep all the staff assigned to this corps, all the papers relating to the service and the orders that the Duke of Bellune has received."

[17] STÄRKE, Eintheilung und Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monate Februar  (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 1), Report on the Battle of Montereau (Ibid., II, 547) and Crown Prince of Württemberg to Prince Schwarzenberg , Bazoches, 18 February (Ibid., II, ad. 531).

[18] PAJOL, Pajol, Commander in Chief.

[19] Report on the Battle of Montereau.  (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 54.)

[20] STÄRKE, Eintheilung und Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monate Februar (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 1), Report of the Battle of Montereau (Ibid., II, 547 ) and Crown Prince of Württemberg to Schwarzenberg (Ibid., II, ad., 531.)

[21] General Delort for which this bold charge won him on the same field of battle, the rank of division general, responded to the officer who brought him the order from Pajol:  "I believe in truth , you lose the head to have me charge with such cavalry."

[22] In the first summary report addressed from Montereau to the Chief of Staff, Pajol says:  "Seizing the moment when the enemy effected its retreat and that he was no longer master of retracing his steps, I had the brigade of General Delort charge on the highway with the order to arrive at the bridge of the Seine before the enemy, which he made ​​with the greatest valor.  This was where, putting myself at the head of my cavalry, I made more than 300 prisoners and I prevented the enemy from destroying the bridges."  And he adds:  "I must say that the foot gendarmerie was very well led."

[23] STÄRKE, Eintheilung Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-und Armee im Monate Februar (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 1); Journal of Operations of the IVth Corps by General Baillet de La Tour (Ibid., XIII, 56), Report of the Battle of Montereau (Ibid., II 547.) and Crown Prince of Württemberg to Prince Schwarzenberg, Bazoches, 18 February (Ibid., II, ad., 531).

[24] Prince Schwarzenberg to the Crown Prince of Württemberg, Traînel, 18 February. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 531.)

[25] PAJOL, Pajol, Commander in Chief.

[26] Gerard and Pajol to the Chief of Staff, Montereau, 18 February. (Archives of the War.)


Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2013

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