The Campaign of 1814: Chapter 7, Part III
By: Maurice Weil
THE CAMPAIGN of 1814
(after the Imperial and Royal War Archives at Vienna)
CAVALRY OF THE ALLIED ARMIES
DURING THE CAMPAIGN OF 1814.
OPERATIONS OF THE GREAT ARMY OF BOHEMIA IN THE VALLEY OF THE SEINE, from
3 to 16 February.
of the Ist Corps. --Notes on the service of the outposts. --The
flying corps of Thurn. --The Ist Corps was marching on Troyes,
when it received orders to make camp. The cuirassiers and grenadiers of Nostitz
settled in Saint-Germain and Saint-Leger, the division of Count Ignatius
Hardegg at Sommeval, that of the Prince of Wied at Lirey, that of Bianchi at Javernant.
Liechtenstein, with only part of his people, moved to Auxon; his cavalry
brigade of Prince Gustav of Hesse-Homburg and the infantry regiment of
Reuss-Plauen formed the provisional garrison of Troyes.
Toll furnishes us, in regards to how the advanced troops of the Ist Corps performed their service, with information so singular, they would be
unrepeatable if they were not specifically confirmed by the dispatches of Lieutenant-Colonel
Count Thurn to the Generalissimo. Wanting to give a precise account of the
situation, Toll had arrived very early near Prince Maurice Liechtenstein in Saint-Parres-lès-Vaudes:
"I found him," he tells us, "in a dressing gown, taking his coffee and smoking his pipe. I announced
the arrival of the Generalissimo, and it was then that he gave his troops the
order to be ready to march. Taking to reconnoiter for myself the position of
the enemy, I moved towards Les Maisons-Blanches, where I was, according to the words
of Liechtenstein, to find the outposts of the French. En route, beyond La
Vacherie, I met a major of the Austrian staff returning from reconnaissance and
telling me that there was nobody at Les Maisons-Blanches." Lieutenant
Colonel Thurn corroborates the correctness of the assertion of Toll. Thurn,
who was 11 o'clock in the morning at Bouilly, wrote at that time to
Schwarzenberg telling him that "Napoleon left from Troyes, slept at Grès, and that his
army is retreating along the two roads of Paris." Thus, there is every
reason to believe that if he had earlier knowledge of this great news, the
Lieutenant-Colonel would have hastened to give immediate notice to the Generalissimo.
Note in this context, how much the role of the small corps under his command
and service relationships of the Lieutenant Colonel had of being poorly thought
out. Indeed, at 7 o'clock at night, Field Marshal-Lieutenant Count Ignatius
Hardegg requested from Sommeval that the Generalissimo return to him Lieutenant-Colonel
Count Thurn's corps, or, conversely, whether to continue to push before and
send it to Saint-Florentin. But a few hours earlier, at 4 o'clock, Thurn, who was at Messon, about to debouch
on the road from Sens to Troyes, wrote to the chief that "in order to give
some rest to his men and his horses, he went back to Saint-André, near Troyes,
and expected the direct orders of the Generalissimo." Under such
circumstances it would be difficult to maintain contact with the enemy and to
observe its movements; the existence of a flying corps of this sort, obeying no
person, responsible only to report to the Generalissimo, was a danger rather
than a guarantee for the generals operating behind the points they had every
reason to believe were occupied by these partisans.
The Russian and Prussian guards and reserves did not go beyond Clérey. Barclay
remained in Bar-sur-Seine. Schwarzenberg made his headquarters at Troyes. Two
battalions of Austrian grenadiers and the Preobrazhensky (Преображенский) Regiment took
their place in service from that time.
The continual rains had made roads impassable, swelled the lesser streams; the
infantry had the greatest difficulty in dragging itself to its quarters; it had
spread along the roads most of its men, of whom only few joined their corps
before 8 February. The artillery, which could only used pavement, was obliged
in consequence to take many detours.
Actions taken by the Emperor at Nogent 7 February. --Anyway, excuses
made based on bad weather are the less serious, less valid, because the same
rains which, according to Schwarzenberg, were the only causes of slowness of
his march, had not delayed the movement of the French columns. The Emperor was
not a man to be deterred by bad weather or rain and to lose an almost
unexpected opportunity that presented itself to him. The negligence and
slackness of the Allies would allow him, through his genius and his indomitable
energy, not only to save his army and rescue it from the dangers which
threatened in the aftermath of La Rothière, but also to prepare and soon be able
to execute one of his best maneuvers, a move that would put the Army of Silesia
within an inch of its life.
And yet what difficulties had he not overcome! As Schwarzenberg and the Allied
generals, he had against him the bad weather, which was dissolving and demoralizing,
all the more formidable for him as he had taken on a beaten army, composed
largely of conscripts and completely discouraged by a long and painful retreat.
The couriers brought him the unfavorable news, that Liège and Aix-La-Chapelle
were, as Macdonald had anticipated, occupied immediately after his departure. Antwerp
was blockaded. Bülow had entered Brussels, forcing Maison to fall back on our
old boundaries. Châlons was in the hands of Blücher. Macdonald, unable to
close the road to Paris to the Field Marshal, would no doubt find it very
difficult to stay in Épernay for only a few hours.
Maintaining his calm and composure, more than ever master of himself, Napoleon
fortify houses, mined the bridge of Nogent, preparing to hold at any event as
he held at Troyes, and stop Schwarzenberg on the Seine as he has done on the
Aube. And as he dictated almost hourly the movements to Berthier that his
marshals would make, he still found the time and the fortitude necessary to
look after the spirits in Paris. In the midst of all these anxieties, still
increased by the bad news he received from the Congress of Châtillon, he
expounded his ideas to Joseph and tells him how to rapidly constitute a
respectable reserve in Paris, a reserve which must be available for the 10th;
that he thinks little of the news spread on the march of the Prussians on the La
Ferté-sous-Jouarre and Meaux, and that preparing for the execution of his
movement between the Seine and the Marne, he announced the departure of Marmont
for Sézanne. At the same time, he wrote to Cambacérès and said: "I see
that instead of supporting the Empress, you are discouraged. What is with this Miserere and these 40 hours of prayers in the chapel? Are we going
crazy in Paris? The Police of Minister says and does stupid things." Thinking
about everything and neglecting no detail, along with directing the
headquarters and the grand artillery park on Rozoy and Nangis, he prescribes to
Count Daru, Minister of War Administration, to send daily, by the direct road from
Brie-Comte-Robert and Nangis to Nogent-sur-Seine, 30,000 rations of bread
biscuit, cattle and brandy. General Saint-Germain, to be placed soon at the
head of the 2nd Cavalry Corps, received the order to take command of
all the cavalry of Meaux, to stay with them at Meaux and La Ferté-sous-Jouarre,
while he would seek to fall on the rear of all that seek to debouch at Meaux.
Marmont was already set in motion with his two divisions of infantry and the cavalry
of Generals Doumerc and Piquet; that of Bordesoulle being all that was left in
Nogent. The Duke of Raguse was instructed to push on Sézanne and send out a
large vanguard on Vitry and strong reconnaissance on Montmirail. The poor condition
of roads would prevent, indeed, going beyond Villenauxe and Fontaine-Denis, and
the light cavalry of General Piquet, followed by an infantry battalion, could
only go up to Barbonne. Victor occupied, behind Romilly, the heights of Crancey,
Saint-Hilaire and Gélannes. His left was on the Seine, and his right (the 5th Cavalry Corps of Milhaud) went, by the old road from Troyes to Nogent, to Saint-Martin
from Bossenay on the Ardusson. General Leval was at Provins; his reconnaissance
pushed on both banks of the Aube to Saron-sur-Aube. Pajol was ordered to move
on Sens and Pont-sur-Yonne.
At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the Emperor's ideas were more clear and more precise
still; he thought more and more to move against Blucher: "Tell me,"
he wrote to Marmont, "in your dispatch tonight, that I expect to receive
before midnight, the road conditions. I think, according to the news I
receive, starting at daybreak with the infantry and cavalry of the Guard and
Leval's division, that I will head from Provins at the point where I move; but
as I cannot make a wrong move, I need specific information that you send me from
From that moment, moreover, the march to Montmirail was so decided in his mind
he already announced it in his letter of 7 February at 4 o'clock, to Joseph. Three
hours later, he gives to his brother the new order to stop the prayers of 40
hours and Miserere. "If we go through so many antics," he
wrote, "we should all fear of death. There's an old saying that priests
and doctors make for a painful death. The moment is difficult without doubt
... The evil spirit of Talleyrand and men who wanted the nation to sleep
prevented me from making the call to arms, and here is what is the result. In
this type of situation, we must show confidence and take bold steps." Then,
returning on military affairs and as if from that moment, previewing the expected
role, the fatal role that the town of Soissons would play a little less than a
month later, he added: "It would be possible for parties of cavalry to go
around Soissons. The enemy have an immense cavalry which has flooded France
... I guess the Minister of War gave positive orders that Soissons defends itself."
Finally, he concluded this dispatch with these words in a postscript: " Keep
the Empress gay, she is dying of consumption."
this day, already so full, was not yet over for the Emperor: at 9 o'clock at
night, he gave to the Chief of Staff instructions for the next day. Mortier,
which he supposed would arrive the night of the 7th on the heights
of Granges, was to go to Nogent-sur-Seine with the 2nd Division of
the Old Guard, the cavalry of General de France and leave, at Pont-sur-Seine, Gérard
who, would act as the rear guard with his division and the 5th Cavalry Corps, relieving, in Saint-Hilaire, the troops of Victor. The Duke of
Bellune had to be ready to march to Nogent, as was the Duke of Reggio. The
Emperor wanted to have the morning of the 8th at Nogent, the Young Guard,
the Old Guard and the two divisions of Victor. The Old Guard and the two
divisions of Young Guard of Ney had to be ready to leave Nogent at 5 o'clock in
the morning, as soon as they received the order. To be able to execute, from 8
in the morning, with the troops of Marmont, a division of Spain and Guard, the
movement he meditated against Blücher, orders were taken Mortier to cross the 8th,
in the first hour, the bridge of Nogent.
The First Congress of Châtillon. --Finally, when he had completed these
dispositions, he received from Châtillon dispatches announcing that the Allies,
refusing to accept the proposed bases in Frankfurt, would not agree to peace if
the Emperor was resigned to go to the old boundaries of France. It was with
great difficulty that Berthier and the Duke of Bassano managed to keep
Napoleon, determined to reject such conditions, from permitting an evasive
answer so Caulaincourt could continue negotiations.
The Congress of Châtillon had in fact held on that day its first session; but,
frankly, neither the Allies, nor the Emperor, ever thought to make peace. The
Allies, because the victory of La Rothière had intoxicated them; because their march
on Paris seemed to be a stroll; because the Emperor of Russia was above all to
make a triumphal entry; and finally, because the royalists, already listening
to their advice, were working on the downfall of Napoleon. The Emperor, because
after, through the negligence and slackness of the Allies he managed to save
his army compromised by the loss of the battle of La Rothière, foresaw the
possibility of making them pay dearly for this one day success; because in every
way that he was followed after his defeat, he took an exact account of the
projects of his opponents, one of which took six days to execute a 40 kilometer
march, while the other, more ardent and anxious, unable to continue champing at
the bit, rushing headlong into the trap that the Emperor was going to tender,
undertook a flank march of great imprudence, staggered and disseminated his corps
as if he had destroyed the French army. Finally, because, as he had already
written to Caulaincourt, 4 January: The most unfortunate circumstances of
the war could not make him agree to ratify what he considered a dishonor, and a
disgrace to France.
Far from thinking of peace, neither the Allies nor the Emperor even believed at
this point of the possibility of a truce. If Caulaincourt spoke shyly of the
armistice in one of his letters to Metternich, Alexander was more emphatic and
sharper. In a note, all in his own hand, he declared "that an armistice
could not be advantageous to us as the French ... moreover, the time to stop is
a long way coming ..."
Without dwelling further on the details of these negotiations, it suffices to
say that, while Caulaincourt reported to Napoleon of the session of the 7th and the claims of the plenipotentiary, he was informed on 9 February, even
before receiving the reply of his sovereign, of the momentary cessation,
required by the Czar, of the conference sessions. They were not re-started
until ten days after the first meeting, 17 February, at a time, it is true,
where the situation had completely changed in appearance.
It is, moreover, quite easy to find the cause of this sudden disruption of the
Congress that had just opened.
Lord Castlereagh and Lord Burghersh, better placed than anyone to know what was
happening, took care to give us a precise account of these events. Since the
last days of January, if we may believe their Memoirs and correspondence, a
session did not sit, either in Parliament or the House of Lords, without their
sending ministers to ask on the final aim and object of the war. The Whig
opposition was gaining ground. The greatness of Napoleon was openly
acknowledged. The English character, friendly to all that is great, beginning
to feel an admiration for an enemy whose adversity was such that the fear he
had inspired to this day, gave way to admiration. His overthrow was not wanted.
It was only wished that France should return to the boundaries it had before
1792. One saw, however, a jealous eye to the considerable increase of
influence and power that this war brought to Russia. It was wondered whether England
should help increase this influence. The English Parliament then weighed in
cold blood, as it never stopped doing, the power relations of states. It is
the policy of British interests. They think of themselves, not consulting
others. Therefore, in a conference held 28 January in Langres, Lord
Castlereagh insisted on opening negotiations and supported by Metternich, he
eventually got Alexander to cede, who had for him the support of Prussia.
The peace party was able to obtain the opening of the Congress; but the Tsar
was not a man to accept failure so easily. The instructions he gave to the
Russian and Prussian plenipotentiaries would provide a striking contrast and
February. --Immobility of the Army of Bohemia. --The Army of
Bohemia seemed, moreover, to have done, up to the 8th, just what was
needed to facilitate the implementation of the project that Napoleon had meditated
on for several days, allowing him to operate with full freedom against the Army
period of inactivity began, indeed, on 8 February for the main army of the
Allies. The Generalissimo thought it necessary to give forty-eight hours of
rest to his troops who, having traveled only a little way and only having, with
the exception of the Vth Corps, petty skirmishes, were worn out and
weakened by an infinite number of movements in place, mostly useless as each
other and mostly countermanded as soon as they were started to be implemented. The
corps of the Army of Bohemia remained in quarters the 8th quarters that
they had occupied the night before, taking advantage of the halt to collect
stragglers and be joined by their artillery. It was thought sufficient to fill
the day with deciding the subsequent movement of two army corps to Sens and two
others to Nogent. Only the advanced guard of the Ist Corps (light division of Count
Ignatius Hardegg) and the IVth Corps was to commence on the 9th to head towards Sens, the first by Auxon, the second by Villeneuve-l'Archevêque;
the same day the Vth and VIth corps were to send parties,
the first by Traînel, the second by Méry, towards Nogent. Finally, the light
division of Prince Maurice Liechtenstein was responsible for driving the French
partisans from Auxerre and covering the extreme left of the army during the
movement on Sens, that it would execute forty-eight hours later.
The Ist Corps remained absolutely motionless; but as the side roads
were impassable, its heavy artillery arriving in La Trinité (north and a short
distance from the forest of Aumont) had to reverse to Troyes and take the main
road from Auxerre by Saint-Florentin, to gain the cantonments of the corps.
In the IIIrd Corps, nobody moved, except Fresnel, who went to Saint-Pouange
and to Roncenay, and the headquarters of Gyulay, transferred from Troyes to the
first of these two villages.
In the IVth Corps, the immobility was complete.
The Vth Corps also remained in their positions of the day before,
although the French rearguard was, on the morning of the 8th,
leaving Les Grès to fall back on Les Granges, and the troops who kept watch on
the edge of Méry located on the left bank of the Seine, had done so, also, on
the night of the 7th to 8th, retiring in Pont-sur-Seine.
Cavalry skirmish at Romilly. --Pahlen immediately occupied the left
bank of the Seine and Mesgrigny, 3 kilometers south of Méry, with a few companies
of infantry of the vanguard; he followed the enemy to Nogent with the Cossacks,
he had thrown on the left bank of the Seine; the Cossacks came to the extreme
French rearguard on the other side of Châtres, trying unsuccessfully to enter at
Romilly and were quite strongly repulsed until they were joined by four
squadrons of the 2nd Bavarian Light Horse whose vedettes
established themselves in the evening at the level of La Belle-Étoile.
The bulk of the VIth Corps had arrived at Arcis; Pahlen had done
worked on the restoration of the bridge of Méry, which was completed in the
evening. As the French, in retiring, had destroyed all the passages of the Aube
downstream from Arcis, Pahlen had been compelled to establish a pontoon bridge
a short distance from Baudement, allowing him to send on the right bank of the
Aube Prince Lubomirsky with a party of 100 horses to scour the country between Sézanne
The guards and reserves benefited from this day to get closer to Troyes. The
infantry of the Russian Guard went to Vaudes; the 1st Cuirassier
Division and the cavalry brigade of the Prussian Guard to Saint-Parres-les-Vaudes,
the infantry brigade of the Prussian Guard to Virey-sous-Bar, the division of light
cavalry division of the Russian Guard to Lantages, the grenadiers to
Neuville-sur-Seine, the 2nd and 3rd divisions of
grenadiers to Riceys.
The Emperor of Russia, King of Prussia, Barclay de Tolly and Schwarzenberg were
to stay with the General Headquarters and their military houses.
Letter from the Emperor of Russia. --Upon his arrival at Troyes,
Emperor Alexander was not a little surprised to receive a deputation which, for
the first time since he had set foot in France, issued in an address their wishes
for the restoration of royalty. The response of the Tsar was hardly likely to
encourage the hopes of the signatories to this address: "Before we deal
with Bourbons, there is the matter of defeating Napoleon." But on the
other hand, the Emperor of Russia had already given the day before a striking
proof of the noble and generous sentiments that animated him and brought him,
even during the invasion, some popularity. Schwarzenberg informed of the
evacuation of Troyes, knowing on the other hand, that French troops were poorly
handled, immediately had written (in French), by Prince Volkonsky, the
following letter, "His Majesty the Emperor, charges me to thank Your Highness for the
attention he was willing to show by announcing the occupation of Troyes , asks
of Your Highness that he wishes that his headquarters not be established there
tomorrow and that he send someone after the Crown Prince of Württemberg, with
strict orders to spare the city as much as possible and to maintain the utmost
discipline. This measure appears to His Majesty all the more necessary as the inhabitants
here assure us that yesterday the town of Troyes was looted by the French;
therefore, being on good behavior on our part can affect a lot of the spirit of
the nation and make them feel the difference in the treatment that we give."
State of the French Army. --Misery and hunger were the only excuses for
these reprehensible acts of marauding; but it is for this reason that the
Allies should have acted aggressively, at a time when their inaction, or at
least their slowness served to marvel Napoleon. The Emperor had indeed managed
to take a more critical position, but he had not yet been able to give his army
of conscripts discouraged by the failure of La Rothière, demoralized by the
retreat, exhausted by hunger and the fatigue of all sorts, the confidence and energy
that was beginning to abandon even his old regiments. The correspondence of
the Emperor is there to give us an accurate picture of the situation, to show
us that any vigorous effort attempted by the Allies would have sufficed to tip
the scale of the disorganization of the French army and to force the Emperor to
abandon his plans. The distress of the army at that time was so horrible that the
reproached on morning of the 8th Marmont's stop in Fontaine-Denis
instead of having continued on Sézanne, he said in conclusion: "Collect a
lot of bread, but do not keep everything for yourself. You have three times
more than you need and we starve."
Measures taken by Napoleon. --Organization given the corps left on the
Seine. --Despite this, the Emperor did not give up anything on his march
against Blücher; but before heading towards the Marne, he recognized the need
to organize the defense of the Seine, to create a 7th Corps under
the Duke of Reggio with 7th and 9th Divisions from Spain
and reunited Leval's Division at Provins, the division of Boyer at Nangis, forming
with his cavalry, which Grouchy was to become commander in chief, not 6, but 4 corps:
the 1st under Bordesoulle, the 2nd under Saint-Germain,
the 5th under Milhaud and the 6th under the Count of
Valmy. He did not, unfortunately, resolve to invest any of his marshals as the
command in chief of his forces, and confined himself to defining in broad terms
the area of action specifically assigned to each of them. He therefore left on
the river Seine, in addition to the 7th Corps of Oudinot, the Duke
of Trévise, charged with the 2nd Old Guard Division and 5th Young Guard of guard Nogent, to mask his movement and to be ready to come at
the first order to reunite on the Marne, and Victor with the 2nd Corps,
the two divisions of General Gérard and three divisions of the 5th Cavalry
Corps. He sent word to the Duke of Bellune of the presence of Mortier at
Nogent, of Pajol near Montereau and Pont-sur-Yonne, of Allix at Sens and of Oudinot
at Provins and Nangis. He informed him also that if he were seriously
threatened, he was to fall back on Nogent and on the left bank "but that
this operation would be unfortunate since, the bridge of Bray being destroyed,
there would be no place to sally forth to impose on the enemy, and that he must
therefore remain at the rear, where he was placed, and at Nogent."
Movement of the Cossacks on Nemours and Montargis. --Near Sens, nothing
special happened. Pajol was with 1200 horse, 1000 infantry and an artillery
company in Saint-Denis, Soucy, Gisy-les-Nobles and Fleurigny, on the roads from
Pont to Villeneuve-l'Archevêque and Nogent-sur-Seine. He had sent a picket of
25 horses to Traînel to assure communication and correspondence, and a party of
200 horses to Dollot and Chéroy, both to scout the countryside and to see what
was happening between Nemours and Montargis. Finally, he had left General
Pacthod at Montereau with 3,000 National Guardsmen. Meanwhile, a detachment of
Austrian dragoons had arrived at Villeneuve-l'Archevêque to prepare shelter and
food for 20,000 men coming from Troyes.
Platov, had crossed the Yonne at Villeneuve-le-Roi, heading on Courtenay and from there
on Nemours and Montargis. Further south, General Moreau. the very man who had,
a month later, given up so infamously at Soissons, announced to Allix that he
was threatened at Auxerre and that, far from being able to count on the locals,
there was reason to believe that there they shared in a plot to seize his
person as soon as he would defend the city against the attacks of the Allies.
As of 8 February, Allied scouts and Cossack parties had started to extend seriously
towards the Loing. "The aide-de-camp of General Gentil de Saint-Alphonse,
en route to rejoin his general in the Army of Italy, with great difficulty
escaped the Cossacks, who took from him two orderlies and six horses between
Nemours and Montargis. 100 Cossacks arrived at La Selle-sur-le-Bied and at La Chapelle-Saint-Sépulcre,
and took the messenger bearing dispatches from Montargis to General Allix. The
gendarmes, surprised by the Russian scouts, just had time to save themselves on
Nemours. Finally, another Cossack party, after pushing on Ferrières had left
before the town an observation post and headed on Nemours.
9 February. --Immobility of the bulk of the Army of Bohemia. --Reconnaissance
of Sens. --If we except a few engagements of outposts, the day of 9
February would still be a rest day for the troops of the Great Army. The
leftward movement and direction of the march by Fontainebleau had only been decided
upon in principle.
The IVth Corps, appointed to serve as a mobile wing, was none the
less in its quarters. One wanted to make contact with the enemy again near
Sens. Major Count Wratislaw with two squadrons of the Austrian Archduke
Ferdinand Hussar Regiment, would effect this from Villeneuve-l'Archevêque up to
the gates of Sens and learn that General Allix occupied the town with about 1500
men. The other squadrons of Archduke Ferdinand Hussars and the 5th Württemberg Jäger zu Pferd Regiment formed the cavalry screen and the union
with the Vth Corps, marching on Traînel. They send a party to the
right by Vallières (north of Thorigny), to Marcilly-le-Hayer, while another
party went to the left to Cerisiers, with orders to establish communication
with the light division of the Prince Maurice Liechtenstein, coming from
 BERNHARDI, Denkwürdigkeiten
aus dem Leben des Grafen Toll, t. IV. p. 352.
 Thurn to Prince
Schwarzenberg, Bouilly, 7 February 11 o'clock in the morning. (K. K. Kriegs
Archiv., II, 184 a.)
 Count Ignatius Hardegg to
Prince Schwarzenberg, Sommeval, 7 February, 7 o'clock at night. (K. K.
Kriegs Archiv., II, 191.)
 Thurn to Schwarzenberg,
Messon, 7 February, 4 o'clock in the evening. (Ibid., II. 184. 6.)
 Correspondence, no 21193 to 21207, and Records of Berthier. (Archives of the War.)
To have an accurate picture of the morale condition of the army of the Emperor,
the army with which he would undertake his memorable operations against Blücher,
just read the dispatch below, taken a little later by the Allies, when it
captured, 3 March, the papers of Gérard, and in which the Chief of Staff presents
to the general the austerity measures that the Emperor decreed against
marauders and stragglers.
of Staff to General Gérard. --Nogent-sur-Seine, 7 February 1814."
"Monsieur General Gérard, I send you an order that the Emperor has given
in relation to stragglers and marauders to be decimated. The instruction of His
Majesty is as an order of the day should you feel the need for this measure.
The officers are included in this order. Recommend to commanding officers to
understand that if the order is not put in positive terms that offending officers
will also be shot, this is so not to dishonor the title of officer in the eyes
of the soldiers so the generic word soldier should be understood to mean
Following the order is the formation of the five gendarmerie columns of 20
gendarmes each, one going to Provins, one between Nogent and Sézanne, one
between Nogent and Bray, one between Nogent and Nangis to stop the fugitives, conduct
them to the nearest prison, bring them to the provost and decimate them. (K.
K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 207, and Records of Berthier.)
 STÄRKE, Eintheilung und
Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monate Februar. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv.,
 STÄRKE, Eintheilung und
Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., II, 1), and
Wrede to Schwarzenberg, Barberey, 8 February (Ibid., II, 216):
with the orders of Your Highness, I pursued the enemy that I encountered near
Châtres. The 2nd Regiment Bavarian Light Horse, (under) Prince
Taxis, took 120 men. The rear guard of the enemy continued its retreat and.
according to a report I just received, it took a position at Granges. Attacked
by the same regiment of cavalry, it was shaken and 150 men taken."
"The same report tells me the retreat of the enemy is towards Nogent ... I
am sending to Your Highness a native of Troyes, but coming from Paris, he left the
5th, and he will give your Highness some interesting news."
 Wittgenstein to
Schwarzenberg, Charmont and Arcis-sur-Aube, 8 February 181 4 (K. K. Kriegs
Archiv., II, 215, and II, ad., 215). --"Charmont, 8 February
have quartered my troops around Arcis."
a short cannonade General Count Pahlen, yesterday took the part of the town of
Méry which is located on this side of the river. The enemy had destroyed the bridge
and occupies the other part of town. General Pahlen sought to chase them today,
repairing the bridge and pursuing the enemy to Nogent. I will also cross the Aube
at Plancy with the greater part of this vanguard of Pahlen, and I have directed
it along the right bank on Nogent, for observing the movements of the enemy,
especially against Blücher, and preventing it from detaching from everyone
against the Field Marshal."
"Throughout the day yesterday, troops and wagons filed from Troyes on Nogent."
"If one has not given another destination for Seslavin, who was previously
responsible for observing the side of Nogent and Provins, I can tell your
Highness what happens on that side."
"Arcis, 8 February 1814. --General Count Pahlen informs me that the enemy
has evacuated the rest of Méry. He immediately crossed the infantry that he has
established at Mesgrigny. The bridge is repaired and has already served the crossing
of a Cossack regiment, which he conducted on Pont, with orders to follow the
"The road from here to Plancy and from Plancy to the right bank of the
Aube and Seine are flooded and impassable. Those which pass by Sharon-sur-Aube are
not much better as a result of the thaw. Should I move on Nogent by Méry? I
sent Prince Lubomirsky with a few hundred horses to monitor the right bank of
the Seine. Due to road conditions, it is absolutely impossible to send
 Journal of Sent Notes, no 61.
(Archives of Saint-Petersburg.)
 It is curious to see that at
the same time the Emperor Alexander believed in the immediate fall of Paris and
disturbed by the slowness of Schwarzenberg, he wrote to Blücher, to prevent him
from entering the first, the following letter:
think I should warn you, Marshal, after my coordination with H. M. the King, we
thought it would be useful at the approach of the Allied armies to Paris, the
troops were quartered around the city, but not actually in the city. I wish
that every passage of troops through Paris is avoided until the arrival of the King
and myself, and that those who are with us entering the capital first are from our
suite. I would like very much, Monsieur Marshal, that this determination, made
by mutual agreement with your Sovereign, is generally performed well and you
would oblige me by making it strictly observed by the various corps that are
under your orders. Political considerations of the utmost importance make such
action necessary." (Journal of Sent Dispatches, no 62, Archives
 Correspondence, no 21208. --The Emperor insisted even more strongly on this serious issue of
food, and drew a picture of the heartbreaking misery of his army, in the letter
(Correspondence, no 21214) that he addressed to Daure, Chief Commissary
of the Army, at Sézanne, from Nogent, 8 February 1814:
"The army is starving, all reports, that you make that say it is
nourished, are fabricated. 12 men died of starvation, although everything has
been done to put fire and sword on the road to gain subsistence. However, if I
believe your reports, the army is fed. The Duke of Bellune has nothing,
General Gérard has nothing, the cavalry of the Guard is starving. It is a
double evil, but without remedy when one becomes an illusion, authority becomes
undermined. It would have been easy to distribute one pound of rice in Troyes
and follow with meat."
cannot take any action when the administration is wrong and misleads the Imperial
staff. Let me know the status of rice that exists in the various army corps,
let me know what happened tonight. But give me the report accurately, without
duplicating what exists, and let me know what to expect at the depots. Finally,
in the absence of bread, you should distribute flour to the troops. Send to
General Gérard, who is the rear guard, an equipment company responsible for hay
with flour; he can make bread at Pont-sur-Seine and the neighboring villages
and feed his troops."
 We have intentionally
ignored the few affairs that the cavalry of Marmont had in his march to
Sézanne, with the enemy cavalry. We will be talking instead of this in the
next chapter when we examine the operations of the Army of Silesia.
 General Boyer, while
informing the Minister of War he would be the 9th at Melun, warned
him that his troops lacked shoes, clothes and cloaks. (Archives of the War.)
 Organization of the
French cavalry in 4 corps, as of 9 February:
1st CORPS: General Count Bordesoulle.
1st Light Cavalry Division, General Merlin. --1st Brigade,
General Wathier; 2nd Brigade, N. .. (later General Guyon and
Division of Heavy Cavalry, General Bordesoulle. --General Thiry and Laville.
2nd CORPS: General Count Saint-Germain.
2nd Light Cavalry Division, General Maurin. --3rd Brigade, General Dommanget; 4th Brigade, General Delort.
2nd Division of Heavy Cavalry, General Saint-Germain. --3rd Brigade, General Blancard, 4th Brigade, General Sopransi.
5th CORPS: General Count Milhaud.
3rd Light Cavalry Division, General Baron Piré. --Brigadier
Generals Subervie and Coëtlosquet.
3rd Division of Heavy Cavalry, General Briche. --Brigadier Generals
Montelégier and Ludot.
6th Division of Heavy cavalry, General Lhéritier. --Brigadier
Generals Lamothe and Collaert.
6th CORPS: General Count de Valmy (son of Kellermann).
4th Light Cavalry Division, General Jacquinot. --Brigadier Generals
Ameil and Wolf.
5th Division of Heavy Cavalry, General Trelliard. --Brigadier
Generals Ismert and Ormancey.
6th Division of Heavy Cavalry, General Roussel. --Brigadier General
Sparre and Rigaud.
Division of Guards of Honor, General Count de France.
4 regiments and the 10th Hussars.
 Correspondance, no 21215, and Records
of Berthier. (Archives of the War.)
is worth recalling here that Gérard had to take a position on the 8th in the morning, between Romilly and Saint-Hilaire; that Victor was at
Pont-sur-Seine, and the Chief of Staff who warned Grouchy and Milhaud of the
intelligence of 500 to 600 Austrian horse leaving the 8th in the
morning from Saint-Lupien (Somme-Fontaine) to Marcilly-le-Hayer.
 Correspondence of generals
Pajol and Allix with the Chief of Staff and the Minister of War, Major Legros,
commander of Montargis, with General Hulin. (Archives of the War.)
 Platov, leaving
Villeneuve-le-Roi (Villeneuve-sur-Yonne), had thought it necessary to send the
two curious letters to Thurn (originals in French) that we have reproduced
1o "Villeneuve-le-Roy, on 7 February 1814. --I read the letter
you sent, Colonel, to General Kaisarov. The news, you give of the enemy's
retreat in the vicinity of Troyes, comply with all the ones I have in my party.
It is precisely this reason which forces me to reiterate my invitation to you
to progress as fast as possible on Villeneuve-le-Roy, that I leave tomorrow
morning. I repeated the same invitation to General Count (Ignatz) Hardegg, and
I cannot sufficiently present to you the consequence of the position that I
give up, as the one by which I can have communication with the army, that
probably the enemy, who are found in Sens, will not fail to occupy at the same
"I advise you, Colonel, taking my direction by the left bank of the Yonne from
Fontainebleau, I leave in Villeneuve-le-Roy many of my wounded and sick, that
if you do not hurry to occupy, will fall into enemy hands, and which would easily
be avoided when you send a small detachment to take possession of the city, that
I urge you on your personal responsibility in telling you that I send copy of this
to H. H. the Prince Marshal."
"I warn you at the same time that along on the entire course of the right
bank of the Yonne there is no enemy anywhere, except a few insignificant
individuals remaining at Auxerre with forty gendarmes."
"If, moreover, in your directions, Colonel, you are strictly prescribed, but
at the same time are permitted to approach from Sens, in this case I would
suggest to you to advance your patrols at least up to the city leaving a post
on this side of the Villeneuve-l'Archevêque, which is sufficient to impose (a)
on a part of the garrison of Sens to take possession of Villeneuve-le-Roy."
2o "Villeneuve-le-Roy, 8 February 1814. --This is a second
letter that I send you, Monsieur Major, in a few hours of time because the
subject is of such importance."
"I leave with my corps in a moment in the direction of Fontainebleau, by
the left bank of the Yonne. I have long guarded the post of Villeneuve-Le-Roy
as one of greatest consequence and as the only communication that serves me to
our armies. I am leaving many wounded and sick in my belief that some troops
of our Allies will occupy the city."
"With that, I urge you, Monsieur Major, immediately after the receipt of
my letter, to take moves at least on Brinon, from where, observing Auxerre, you
will occupy with a detachment of your party, Villeneuve-le-Roy, which the enemy
will not fail to take possession on arriving from Sens, soon after I have gone and
making prisoners all I left there."
"You see, sir, from this, that the case is too urgent for me not to
impress upon you to execute, that what I reveal to you, and I warn you that if
this happened, you will be solely responsible, since the post of Tonnerre where
you are of no use, since the enemy is found only in a few insignificant
individuals at Auxerre and not at all in Saint-Florentin, and farther up in the
same direction, and nothing can stop you acting on what I propose."
leaving Villeneuve-le-Roy, there is still justification. It is from there that
dispatch couriers arrive and depart from Châtillon-sur-Seine to Napoleon's
headquarters. Despite the difficulty you have experienced up to Sens, with no
intermediate post, these gentlemen you have seen, lack in total those of our
troops up to said city, which could give real benefits which the enemy would
not fail to enjoy. I'll be waiting for your answer, sir, in relation to my
proposal and also tell you that I shall send a copy thereof to headquarters,
where I pray to send my two packages and the one received above."
(a) Impose is obviously a mistake in handwriting. Platov wanted to say
 Major Legros to General
Hulin, and sub-prefect of Montargis to prefect of Loiret. (Archives of the
"The sub-prefect of Montargis to prefect of Loiret. --Montargis, 8 February
"In the afternoon, 100 Cossacks appeared before Ferrières, taking care to
put vedettes on the right and left. With the speed of lightning, one of the
leaders was next to the mayor; he stayed a few minutes. The troop departed to
the field, taking guides to get on the highway, heading to Nemours."
 STÄRKE, Eintheilung und
Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monate Februar. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv.,
Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2012
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