The Campaign of 1814: Chapter Two
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 Army of Bohemia from the crossing of the Rhine at
Basel up to the first reunion with the Army of Silesia (26 January 1814).
20 December, 1813. --Order of movement. --It was
from his headquarters at Lörrach that Schwarzenberg dispatched, 20December,
orders for movement to the various columns of the Army of Bohemia.
The first column consisting of the advanced-guard (1st Light
Division Count Bubna) and the IInd Army Corps (Prince Alois Liechtenstein)
was, starting from Grenzach and Basel, to head first to the far left in
line with Geneva, then secondarily through Solothurn, Bern, Fribourg, where
it would arrive on the 25th, splitting off Bubna, pushing the
parties toward Pierre-Pertuis to watch the valley of Saint-Imier and the
road of Travers at Pontarlier, and continue its march from Neuchâtel
The 2nd column, the Crenneville division of the Austrian IIIrd Corps
of Count Gyulay temporarily reinforced by the Grenadiers Division of Bianchi,
who was not to be delayed by its employment up to the 5th of January
before Belfort, had received orders to move from Basel by
Bienne on Solothurn, thence to support the right, by Porrentruy and Montbéliard,
to take Vesoul where it would arrive on January 7.
The 2nd Light Division (Prince Maurice Liechtenstein) and
the Austrian Ist Corps (Count Colloredo) formed the 3rd column,
after crossing the Rhine at Laufenburg, would pass by Aarau, Bern and Aarburg
and move to Neuchâtel.
The 4th column, which consisted of 2 other divisions of the
IIIrd Corps (Gyulay), had been assigned for the first day the same
route as the 3rd. This column then followed the Crenneville
division and went on Vesoul.
The Crown Prince of Hesse-Homburg with the Austrian reserves, (2
divisions of grenadiers and 2 of cuirassiers, 5th column), crossed
the Rhine at Schaffhausen with orders to be in Bern the 29th of December.
As for the Austro-Bavarians of Wrede that formed the 6th column,
they crossed the Rhine at Basel on the 22nd, heading to Huningue and
sent one division (the division Rechberg) on Belfort.
The IVth Army Corps (the Crown Prince of Württemberg)
constituting the 7th column remained temporarily at Lörrach
and only to cross the Rhine at Märkt, December 31.
The VIth Corps composed of the Russians of Wittgenstein, forming
the 8th column that did not enter Switzerland, was ordered go to
besiege Kehl and watch the Rhine at this time from Fort Vauban to Mannheim.
Finally, the Russian Guard and reserves, under the command of Barclay
de Tolly, which could be considered as forming a 9th column, temporarily
remained at Lörrach like the IVth Corps.
Considerations on this order of movement. --
Assuming that the Allies had acted wisely and prudently in making their
move by Switzerland, then to make a general conversion to the right on
which the VIth Corps (Wittgenstein) was called to serve as a pivot,
going so far as to find some reason for sending the 12,000 men of Bubna
on Geneva, we were still unable to discover, however, the reasons for the
direction taken by the Ist Corps (Colloredo) and the Austrian reserves
of Crown Prince Hesse-Homburg, which were sent from Neuchâtel on
Pontarlier and Dijon. Further the reasons are not explained which
led Schwarzenberg to create a front which extended in the last days of
December, to embrace more than 300 kilometers from Fort Louis to Geneva.
Such a disposition did not correspond to the ideas in the plan of
operations that the Austrian commander had submitted and accepted by the
Czar at Frankfurt.
22 December, 1813. --First movements
of Wrede. --Of all the columns which had crossed the Rhine at
Basel, it was through these dispositions, that the column formed by the
Austro-Bavarians of Wrede happened to stay on the main road leading to
the interior of France. Wrede, although he had crossed the
Rhine with his troops the 22nd, had invested the same day Huningue
with the Zollern brigade of Beckers' division, directed the division of
Rechberg for Belfort and the division of La Motte on Porrentruy. The Austrians
of Frimont formed his reserve, and the 700 horses of the flying corps of
the Austrian Colonel Scheibler covered his right with posts sent on the
road to Colmar, and up to about Habsheim and Rixheim, to that of Cernay
and in the direction of Thann.
Wrede's corps was thus the only one whose troops had been placed
in France and the offensive movement of an army of 200,000 men which had,
strictly speaking, nothing before it, was manifested by some investment of some
places and by sending a few parties into the Department of Haut-Rhin.
Whatever the panegyrists of Schwarzenberg have written to justify
these dispositions, they have not found one good reason to argue. Indeed,
it was decided not to move the Austro-Bavarians forward because they would
enter the line of the IVth Corps and the Austrian columns moving through
Neuchâtel, it would certainly have been more rational to keep the
Vth Corps a little further back. This would have saved the
partisans of Scheibler the lesson they would receive in Sainte-Croix, December
24. One would not, indeed, have leveled two tiny villages such as
Blâmont and Landskron; but one would have had the advantage of not
prematurely disclosing to the French in which direction the attack would
In sum, during the evening of December 22, the Army of Bohemia occupied
the following positions:
Positions of the Army of Bohemia December 22 in the evening. --Bubna
was at Solothurn, General Scheither at Büren, General Zechmeister
at Bettlach. The Ist Corps in Aarau, the IInd at Balsthal. Crenneville,
drawn up before Huningue with a division of Vth Corps,
was to move the next day on Solothurn after joining Bianchi at Lauffen.
The IVth Corps was still very far in the rear, marching to the
Haut-Rhin, and should have been between 3 and 6 January at Belfort to connect
with the Vth and cover its right. Prince Eugene of Württemberg
blockaded Kehl. The Cossacks of Colonel Liubomirskii,
supported by Major General Dekhterev with the
Olviopol Hussar Regiment posted at Ottenheim, watched the Rhine from Kehl to
Vieux-Brisach; the Major General Musin-Pushkin, supported Major General
Rudinger at Rastatt, and the Grodno Hussars did the same from Kehl to Mannheim,
with the Cossack regiments of Iaroslav and Vlassov II. Finally, Wittgenstein,
in order to obtain news of the enemy, had sent General Seslavin with two squadrons
of the Soumy Hussars and the Cossack regiment of Rebrikov III, an order to
try to move upstream from Strasbourg, on left bank of the Rhine, and operate
as partisans in the rear of Victor. The line formed along the Rhine by the
observation positions of the VIth corps only measured less than 180 kilometers.
23 December, 1813. --Movements. --The
following 23rd, the 1st Light Division of the Austrians arrived
in Bern, the Ist Corps in Aarburg, the IInd in Solothurn, the
IIIrd at Liestadt. Major de Vaulx (of the light horse of St.Vincent)
with a party of 100 cavalry and infantry had in the night of 22 to 23,
pushed up to Neuchâtel. The grenadier division of Bianchi was
at Moutier in the evening, that of Crenneville at Asch and that of Weissenwolf
at Eglisau. The IVth Corps was near Offenburg.
Movements of the cavalry of Wrede. --As
for Wrede, who had transferred his headquarters to Hésingue on the
road to Belfort, he reconnoitered Huningue and sent two small mobile columns
on Landskron and Blâmont. Colonel Scheibler, his flying corps,
with a strength of 100 hussars of Szekler's regiment, 50 hussars of the
regiment of Hesse-Hombourg, 90 Bavarian light horse and two small regiments
of Cossack colonels El'murzin and Gorin I which together only counted 400
horses had pushed, at dawn, just to Ensisheim. Captain Baron Schell,
from the hussar regiment of Hesse-Homburg, was charged to pursue with a
squadron, 100 Cossacks and a platoon of light horse the French pickets
who had retired earlier, gently trailing from Battenheim by Ensisheim. Captain
Schell went just beyond Colmar, taking on the road a convoy of twelve caissons
of ammunition, but informed of the approach of a French corps' march on
Colmar, he thought it wiser to retire to Saint-Croix after warning Wrede
of the movement of Milhaud, the French cavalry, which was, after the information
he had gathered, to arrive in Colmar the 24th.
24 December, 1813. --The affair at Saint-Croix. --Although
only informed at the time of the approach of the cavalry of Milhaud, Colonel
Scheibler, after rallying
his advanced guard, thought to get closer to Saint-Croix. Leaving
Ensisheim the 24th, about seven o'clock in the morning, he arrived
at ten o'clock at Saint-Croix where he was joined by a party, under the
orders of Captain Eberle he had sent the previous day to scour the country
in the direction of Neuf-Brisach. He soon sent Captain Schell filing
through Colmar who, with 50 hussars and 50 Cossacks, came against the right
of the Montélégier Brigade and was thrown back on Saint-Croix. Informed
of this, Colonel Scheibler immediately marched forward with the squadron
of hussars of Szekler and the Cossacks of El'murzin, coming first to stop
and then push back the 2nd, 6th and a 11th Dragoons,
of the Montélégier Brigade .
This success might have allowed Colonel Scheibler to retreat without
much difficulty, if at that moment, Colonel Gorin I, who he had left in
reserve at Saint-Croix with his regiment of Cossacks and Bavarian Light
Horse, had not felt obliged to leave his position without orders to take
part in the action, while two squadrons of the Collaert Brigade (Milhaud
division) debouched from behind Saint-Croix. Taken together from
the front and rear, the largest part of the Cossacks thought only of seeking
salvation in flight; nevertheless, with the 300 horses they had left, the
Colonels Scheibler and El'murzin managed to break through and bring to
Ensisheim the debris of the flying corps, which the affair had cost nine
officers, half of the Bavarian squadron, a total of 200 men. Colonel
El'murzin, seriously wounded, was taken prisoner and died the same evening.
The Collaert Brigade marched on Saint-Croix where General Milhaud
was support by the Piré Division. The cavalry division of Lhéritier
and one brigade of the division of Duhesme occupied Colmar.
The remains of the flying corps of Scheibler received
the order from Wrede to serve as an extreme advanced guard of the Austrians
of Frimont that because of resistance from Belfort and Huningue, had been
brought to Mulhouse to cover the north flank, of the so far unsuccessful
attempted attacks against these two places.
Taking of the Landskron Chateau and position of the Austrian
columns the 24th in the evening. --The capture
of Landskron Chateau, which surrendered in the evening of the 24th,
to Colonel von Treuberg, was little compensation for the failure experienced
by Scheibler and the unexpected resistance that the Vth Corps met
at Belfort and at Huningue.
The other columns had quietly continued their marches: Bubna, with
the 1st Light Division, was in Freiburg. The Ist Corps at Aarwangen
I, the IInd in Bern, the IIIrd at Balsthal, the head
of the column of the IVth Corps in Offenburg, the grenadiers of Bianchi
at Tavannes and Bienne and those of Weissenwolf in Zurich.
Consequences of the battle of Sainte-Croix. --As
trivial a matter as the affair at Saint-Croix had been in itself, it none
the less did not fail to produce in the spirit of Schwarzenberg, a more
realistic impression as he had not expected to see Belfort and Huningue
resist the efforts of Wrede. One planned things in a tragic way at
headquarters, said Toll. It
was believed that Napoleon had arrived in Strasbourg in person, was expected
to lead a French corps downstream of Strasbourg, to pass on the right bank
there to threaten the right of the Army of Bohemia, take the offensive
against it and fall on its various fractions successively staggered and
scattered along the Rhine. Schwarzenberg, therefore, thought wise to send
couriers to Wittgenstein and the Crown Prince of Württemberg, inviting
them to accelerate their progress and make the crossing of the Rhine quickly;
to prescribe to Frimont, who was by the 25nd to rest in Colmar, to
stop between Ensisheim and Mulhouse; to Wrede, to concentrate all his men
between Belfort, Mulhouse and Huningue.
Farther right, Wittgenstein had to take positions at Kehl up to
the heights of Offenburg, and the Crown Prince of Württemberg,
to mass on the Kinzig near Gengenbach. But these measures themselves
were not enough to allay the fears of Schwarzenberg and, December 25, he
wrote to Blücher among others:
25 December, 1813. --Letter from Schwarzenberg to Blücher. --"It
is important to occupy the enemy's army, which meets between Metz and Strasbourg,
so it cannot do anything on the left bank against Huningue or attempt a
crossing to the right bank, near Kehl. Wittgenstein is before Kehl,
but he is still too small a force for serious concern to the enemy. The
Army of Silesia can only divert the attention of the enemy; the Généralissime
asks his commander to inform him of the measures he has taken to this effect. It
seems that an operation against Nancy or Verdun should produce results."
We have purposely emphasized the consequences of a truly amazing
engagement of such little importance as Saint-Croix, because we felt that
it provided lessons useful to think about even today.
Taking of Blâmont. --For the 25th of
December, there was little to describe of the capture of the Chateau of
Blâmont against which Wrede had sent Captain of the Staff von Heideck
with a company of infantry and a platoon of the 4th Regiment Light
Horse. The Bavarian officer found the drawbridge lowered, entered
at a gallop to the interior of the chateau while his infantry were deployed;
he took prisoner the few men who composed the garrison.
Positions. --As for the other troops
of the Vth Corps, they held the following positions on the 25th: Frimont
with his Austrians, extended between Ensisheim and Mulhouse, his right
covered on the route of Neuf-Brisach, by the few cavalry that remained
of Colonel Scheibler and were posted from Fessenheim to Blodelsheim.
The division of Count Antoine Hardegg was at Ensisheim, having an advanced
guard at Mayenheim and Eguisheim, on the road of Colmar; it was supported by
a part of the division of Field Marshal-Lieutenant Spleny at Baldersheim and
Battenheim. Finally, the large parties assured communications with the
division of Rechberg toward Belfort, and with the division of Beckers, who
Bubna had, meanwhile, arrived in Freiburg with the brigades of Hesse-Homburg
and Zechmeister; detachments of the 1st Light Division had been sent
to Payerne and Bienne; finally, the main column of Bubna was to be strengthened
later by the division of Greth, which had replaced the brigade of Scheither
moved to the IInd Corps.
The Ist Corps was at Kilchberg. The IInd stopped
in Bern. The brigade of Scheither had occupied Neuchâtel, and his
vanguard under the command of Major de Vaulx was pushed to Pontarlier. The
IIIrd Corps was in Solothurn, and one of its divisions (the Light
Division of Crenneville) joined Bianchi in Tavannes, while a flying column
of three companies and a squadron sped on to Porrentruy and the division
of Weissenwolf and went to Bremgarten.
Regarding the VIth Corps since the 22nd, the 2nd Infantry
Corps under the command of Prince Eugene of Württemberg had replaced
a Württemberg brigade at Kehl; 4 regiments of Cossacks, supported
behind by the light cavalry, continued to monitor the course of Rhine. The
1st Russian Corps (Prince Gortchakoff), was stationed around Offenburg,
and the General Seslavin prepared to cross onto the left bank with the
Cossacks and light cavalry to connect on the right to the Army of Silesia,
on the left with Wrede.
Stockmeyer 's Württemberg brigade, relieved by the Russians
at Kehl, was marching to join the column of General Franquemont (of the
IVth body) beyond Offenburg.
26 December, 1813. --Positions and
operations. --The 26th would be even more insignificant
and no more than the 25th. Wrede, now certain that it would
be impossible to take Huningue by a coup de main, decided to undertake
a siege and opened the first parallel on the night of 25th to 26th. Frimont
sent three battalions and a battery to cover the left of the Vth Corps.
The same day, a few French horsemen tried in vain to remove a bunch
of hussars stationed at Cernay.
Meanwhile, Schwarzenberg concerned to see a gap occur in lines on
the side of Neuf-Brisach from moving so much of the Vth Corps to
Belfort, wrote to the Crown Prince of Württemberg to adjust the march
of his columns in order to debouche at Freiburg as quickly as possible
and to direct them on Märkt, where his army would cross the Rhine
on a pontoon bridge.
However, as noted by Lord Burghersh, we had nothing before
us and we lost so much time performing complicated marches, supposedly
learned maneuvers, we amused ourselves, outflanking positions that no one
occupied and so the Austrian Army, concentrated around Basel the 21st December,
took nearly one month to arrive on the plateau of Langres.
The Ist Corps continued its march methodically towards Bern.
The IInd on Aarberg; its vanguard (General Scheither), had remained
motionless in Neuchâtel. The IIIrd Corps had halted; the
Weissenwolf Division was stationed behind Lenzburg, and Russian reserves and
Prussians with Barclay de Tolly, whose headquarters were at Rothweil received
orders directly from the Emperor of Russia to begin their movement on the 28th
As for Bubna, he just went that day up to Payerne; his vanguard
reached only Moudon, and the division of Greth, under the command of General
Klopstein, did not go beyond Freiburg.
27 December, 1813. --Marches and operations. --On
the 27th Bubna imparted a bit more activity in his march. His vanguard,
under Colonel Count Zichy came up to Morges; the Hesse-Homburg Brigade
with the headquarters to Lausanne; General Klopstein to Moudon.
The other Austrian corps, however, made little way. The Ist Corps
halted at Bern; the IInd merely got beyond Neuchâtel; the Scheither
Brigade, which served as his vanguard, drove up to Travers, and its tip,
which occupied Pontarlier and Morteau, made a demonstration against the
fort of Joux.
The IIIrd Corps was quartered that day in Bienne.
The cavalry of the Rechburg division, of the Vth Corps, had
sent parties to the vicinity of Vesoul, and Lieutenant Baron Gagern, 1st Regiment
of Light Horse, who scouted with a troop of cavalry and some infantry,
ran into near Lure a small French picket, taking 15 men and horses.
Two pontoon bridges were thrown across the Rhine for the IVth Corps,
one at Märkt, the other in Idstein.
On this day, 300 French cavalry performed a reconnaissance before
Colmar and pushed the outposts of Vth Corps to just behind Balgau.
The Allies, despite their numerous cavalry, had only been able to
get vague and contradictory information on the strength of the French troops
opposed to them in the Haut-Rhin. All they knew at that moment was that
the French occupied Saint-Croix and Rouffach, and their cavalry had shown
up in front of Soultz to Cernay.
As for Wittgenstein, he used the 27th to prepare for the crossing
of his army at Plittersdoff, at the very spot where, in 1793, Waldeck had
managed to successfully perform, considering the same facilities that were
present along the Rhine.
The same day, General Bianchi was near Glovelier, and Major Wöber,
with a flying column, was moved by Porrentruy on Rocourt and Dauvan; another
part, composed of a squadron supported by two companies, was directed on
Sainte-Ursanne, by Saint-Léger.
Finally Crenneville, with his light division arrived at Porrentruy,
threw parties on to Delle to try to connect with the division of Rechberg.
The IVth Corps captured Emmendingen; the division of Wiessenwolf
stopped at night at Aarburg and the rest of the Austrian reserves continued
their slow march on Pontarlier, where they arrived from January 4th to
28 December, 1813. - Movements. -
On 28 December, the Ist Corps arrived at Aarberg; the IIIrd,
stationed near Saint-Imier received the order to support Bianchi.
On the side of the Vth Corps, the French made a fairly vigorous
sortie on Belfort, and work continued to attack Huningue.
Bianchi was at Porrentruy, and the light division of Crenneville
came to take a position at Pierre-Fontaine to be able to support the independent
corps of Major Wöber, that had been sent on reconnaissance towards
Besançon. These partisans met a small party of French at Clerval-sur-Doubs,
threw it out and continued until Baume-les-Dames.
As to the IInd Corps, it was in Morteau, Le Locle and Chaux-du-Milieu. Its
advanced guard, Scheither's Brigade, reconnoitered the outskirts of the
fort of Joux.
Movements of Bubna near Geneva during the days of 28 to 30 December. --Bubna
had continued on Geneva. The division of Klopstein was at Lausanne; the
brigade of Zechmeister went from Morat to Moudon. Bubna himself with
the Hesse-Hombourg Brigade, arrived at Rolle, with the vanguard of Colonel
Zichy pushing up to Nyon on the shores of Lake Geneva, occupying Saint-Cergues
and closing the road from Jura. Colonel Simbschen had been sent the
27th orders to occupy, with six hundred men, the passes of Saint-Bernard
and Simplon and send parties through the valley of Aosta to Turin.
The occupation of Geneva by the Allies was only a matter of hours,
especially since a deputation of locals had presented at the headquarters
of Bubna and had informed them that General Jordy, although deploying only
6 battalions had been ordered to hold out until the very end, but had promised
the City of Geneva would capitulate when threatened with shelling and invested
by a respectable force.
Bubna continued his march on the 29th. His advanced
guard occupied Versoix and Gex and ensuring the road of Saint-Claude, while
a squadron sent in front of Pouilly-Saint-Genis watched the fort of the
Ecluse. His headquarters were located in Nyon: Zechmeister moved
The next day the 30th, at dawn, Zichy, with two battalions,
two squadrons and three batteries, of which two were horse artillery, came
by the road of Ferney to occupy the heights of Délice and of Saint-Jean,
which dominate Geneva, while Colonel Wieland, marching with two battalions, a
squadron and a battery by the road along the lake, appeared almost simultaneously
in Suéconex. The division of Klopstein, who followed, occupied
shortly afterwards the heights of Petit-Suéconex. The rest
of the cavalry was deployed at Ferney.
30 December, 1813. --Occupation of Geneva. --Bubna
did not need to make provisions for an attack. Since the emergence
of the Austrian columns, the defense council had decided to surrender and
without entering into negotiations with Bubna, the French garrison immediately
withdrew to Rumilly. A few hours later, General Zechmieister entered
Geneva at the head of 3,000 men who were going to be garrisoned. As
we shall detail later in the chapter on operations around Lyon, how he
moved with the rest of his forces through the passes of the Jura, where
he arrived at Poligny, 5 January. There he pushed his advance guard
to Arbois and another party further to the left to Lons-le-Saunier, to
cover the left wing of the Army of Bohemia.
Formation of the corps of partisans. --While
Bubna finished his movement on Geneva, the General Headquarters of Schwarzenberg
was preoccupied with the organization of a corps of partisans to precede
the army and to cover its flanks. By the 25th, the day Barclay
de Tolly advised the Generalissimo of the march of 4 Cossack regiments,
he had sent out and should be returning to Little-Basel the 29th,
Schwarzenberg had prescribed the formation of a corps of partisans with
two Cossack regiments and a squadron of hussars, which, under the leadership
of Lieutenant-Colonel Count Thurn, would push to Nancy and Verdun. Moreover,
the letter that Toll written
by order of Generalissimo, December 28, to Prince Volkonsky provides an
exact account of projects from General Headquarters:
"The Prince of Schwarzenberg, it is said, instructed me to request Your
Excellency to ask H. M. the Emperor what destination he has given the corps
of Count Platoff. The Prince believes that we, entering France, employ,
not only heads of partisans that are bold and fearless, but above all officers
who speak the language of the country, and will serve as scouts of the army,
and from their information and personal observations, give precise information
on enemy movements....
The Prince of Schwarzenberg's intention are to use the partisans
1o Colonel Scheibler descend the Rhine, through Colmar
to go on Strasbourg;
2o Lieutenant-Colonel Count Thurn go through the valley of
the Moselle on Nancy;
3o Another partisan by Saint-Loup and Neufchâteau on
4o Another operate between the Seine and the Loire;
5o Another, finally, to go through Besançon on Bourges.
Seslavin, Toll said, is not included among the partisans he had
29 December, 1813. --First movements of the corps of partisans. --These
dispositions were not long in being executed. From the 29th,
4 Cossack regiments, drawn from the corps of Ataman Platoff, reached Lörrach
with Major General Prince Scherbatov and
were sent as early as the 30th, on Altkirch with orders to proceed
from there into the Moselle Valley and then push by Epinal on Nancy, while
Thurn was directed on Langres. Scherbatov was obliged, as demonstrated
by the situation of
his detachment on December 29, to cede by superior orders one of his Cossack
regiments to Lieutenant Colonel Count Thurn.
As for General Seslavin, charged at this time to scour the country
between Strasbourg and Colmar and link the Vth and VIth Corp,
he asked in vain for permission to build his small party consisting of
250 Sumy Hussar and 300 Don Cossacks, with 300-400 Black Sea Cossacks with
whom he had crossed France to join Wellington.
Movements of the columns. --The Ist Corps
(Colloredo) arrived the 29th with the division of Count Ignatius
Hardegg, at Bienne. It then divided into two columns: the first,
and reinforced with the divisions of Hardegg and Wied-Runkel, will go under
the immediate command of Colloredo, by Baume-les-Dames, Montbozon and Vesoul,
to Langres, where
it would join, January 15th, with the left of the IIIrd Corps. The
second division was formed of the division of Wimpffen and the light division
of Prince Maurice Liechtenstein.
The second column crossed from the left of the IInd Corps
charged with the blockade of Besançon, to go by Salins and
Dole on Auxonne that was invested by the Wimpffen division, while
Prince Maurice Liechtenstein was directed by Dijon on Chàtillon-sur-Seine. This
light division was to be the base of support for the Austrian reserves
that remained in Dijon during the greater part of January. Arriving
in Bern on the 29th these last continued slowly marching on
the Burgundy through Neuchâtel and Montbozon.
General Scheither (vanguard of the IInd Corps) employed the
29th to outflank the fort of Joux to debouche on the road from Pontarlier. The
IIIrd Corps quartered near Saint-Braix and the cavalry of the IVth Army
Corps, arriving at Märkt, immediately crossed onto the left bank some
troops who relieved Colonel Scheibler at Mayenheim, the next 30th and
quartered between the Ill and Rhine at Ensisheim and Blodelsheim.
The brigade of Quallenberg, and the light division of Crenneville,
crossed the Doubs at Pont-de-Roide: the brigade of Haugwitz arrived at
Cheveney, and the grenadiers of Weissenwolf at Barzdorf.
December 30. --Bombardment of Belfort and Huningue. --On
the night of 29 to 30, Wrede had unsuccessfully bombarded Huningue and
Belfort; then in the day, informed of the news of approaching French
troops marching to lift the blockade of Huningue and Belfort, he modified
the emplacements of the Bavarians. One brigade of the
division of Rechburg remained at Belfort, the other went to Dannemarie. A
brigade of the division of La Motte was posted at Altkirch; the others
under the command of General Deroy were brought back to Hegenheim to cover
more effectively the work in front of Huningue, while the Austrians of
Frimont stood at Cernay and Thann and their vanguard, which strongly held
Soultz, sent a small detachment to establish itself at Saint-Amarin.
Frimont was more separated by the Ill from the IVth Corps now
that part of it had already gained a foothold on the left bank of the Rhine.
The Crown Prince of Württemberg established his general headquarters
that day in Mulhouse.
Positions. --The Ist Corps was
at Court and Tavannes and General Scheither had unsuccessfully fired a
few guns against Fort de Joux.
The IIIrd Corps had not moved, only the division of Hohenlohe had
move somewhat closer to Porrentruy; Bianchi received there that day orders
to go around, January 2, to relieve the Bavarians in Belfort and once arrived
in Belfort, directed to send the light division of Crenneville on Vesoul. Weissenwolf,
with his grenadiers, were in Bern, and the Corps of the Ataman Platoff crossing
Freiburg-en-Breisgau was heading to Basel.
31 December, 1813. --Movement and Action at Baume-les-Dames. --On
the 31st, the Ist Corps marched on Mouthiers, and Bianchi which
reached Montbéliard, occupied the Fort of Pierre-Pertuis with a
detachment, while simultaneously pushing the light division of Crenneville
on Arcey. Gyulay, with the IIIrd Corps, followed the same direction;
reaching Porrentruy the 31st, he entered France the next day and
came to Delle. Prince Alois von Liechtenstein (IInd Corps)
had sent a battalion to blockade Fort de Joux and the brigade of Scheither
to Fallerans by Aubonne.
As for the small flying corps of Major Wöber, he had been attacked
that day in Baume-les-Dames by a battalion and two squadrons of French,
driven from Baume and forced to recross the Doubs at Clerval.
From that day the Crown Prince of Hesse-Hombourg took command of
the IInd Corps, the two divisions of grenadiers of Weissenwolf and
Trautenberg, and the two divisions of cuirassiers of Klebelsberg and Lederer
(Austrian reserves), which were to arrive January 5 to 6 at Pontarlier. The
primary mission was to move with all his troops against Besançon
and begin the siege on January 9.
The Bavarians had continued to bombard Huningue without success,
and the Austrian advanced guard of Frimont had fully connected its right
with the left of Württembergers, which had thrown out patrols up to
Reconnaissance and combat of the cavalry at Sainte-Croix. --Wrede
and Frimont were still unaware of the actual force of French troops stationed
at Colmar. To end this uncertainty, they instructed Count Antoine
Hardegg to push, the 31st, a strong reconnaissance on Saint-Croix.
Informed by deserters on the defenses of Saint-Croix and the precautions
taken by General de Piré, the Allies hoped to overwhelm the cavalry
troops stationed in this village. Aided by a thick fog, the Austrian vanguard
under the command of Colonel Mengen, appeared suddenly formed into three columns
in front of Saint-Croix.
Although the reconnaissance had gone at daybreak to reconnoiter, none
of it had been seen, General Piré, because of the fog, did not return
to his regiment in the village at the usual hour. The cavalrymen of Colonel
Mengen resolutely charged the French grand-guard, overthrew the outposts and
came along with them on Saint-Croix, which they crossed at a gallop, while
the other two columns were trying to identify the town placed on both sides
of the road in the middle of a vast plain. The Austrian horse did not
stop until they reached the other side of the village where they found most
of the division in battle formation.
Several charges were made for the occupation of the Saint-Croix,
said General Petiet in his Historical Journal of the Light Cavalry of
the 5th Cavalry Corps; but when the Tyrolean infantry appeared,
General Piré, not having infantry with him, felt obliged to comply
with previous instructions he had received; withdrew and momentarily took
position at the head of the defile. He awaited the arrival of General
Milhaud, who led the 1st Division of Dragoons and who ordered him
to retake Saint-Croix, which took place without difficulty, the enemy withdrawing,
when it saw that it had lost its chance. The French cavalry and that
of the Allies reoccupied in the evening the positions held prior to this
affair. However the division of Piré left only one squadron
in Saint-Croix, and settled the majority in Sandhofen .
Finally to cover the right of Colonel Mengen during the operation,
a 150 Cossacks and 50 hussars of Colonel Scheibler were pushed against
the French outposts of Dessenheim and Weckolsheim. He managed to eject
them back on Neuf-Brisach, after taking 11 men and 21 horses.
First movements of Platoff. --Platoff,
whose cavalrymen had passed by Fribourg, received the order to cross the
Rhine at Basel and immediately move to the defiles of the Vosges, to precede
the IVth Corps and link the far right of the Grand Army of Bohemia
with the left of the Army of Silesia that was also to begin their march
Key to the Map:
Column 1 - Consisting of the IInd Corps (A. Liechtenstein) and the 1st Light
Division (Bubna) crossed the Rhine at Basel & Grenzach. The 1st Light
Division separated from the route of the IInd Corps at Bern moving south
to Geneva that was occupied the 30th of December. The IInd Corps
moved west occupying Neuchâtel and sending an advanced guard to blockade
Fort de Joux. The IInd Corps passed under the command the Crown
Prince of Hesse-Homburg (in command of the Austrian Reserves) the 31st of
December at which time it was massed near Pontarlier.
Column 2 - Consisting of the Crenneville Division (part of the IIIrd Corps)
reinforced by the Grenadier Division of Bianchi (part of the Austrian Reserves)
crossed the Rhine at Basel moving south to Lauffen then west to Bienne (Biel)
before moving north to Porrentruy where Bianchi reached Montbéliard,
Crenneville passed to the south on Arcey. A flying column moved west
from Porrentruy meeting French at Clerval-sur-Doubs before crossing the Doubs
at Baume-les-Dames and skirmishing with French only to recross the Doubs at
Column 3 - Consisting of Ist Corps (M. Liechtenstein) and the 2nd Light
Division (Colloredo) crossed the Rhine at Laufenberg and crossed the Aare River
at Aarburg moving southwest to Bern, before heading north through Tavannes
arriving at Moutier the 31st of December.
Column 4 - Consisting of the remainder of Gyulay's IIIrd Corps also
crossed the Rhine at Laufenberg staying to the north of the Aare River to Bienne
sending forces towards Saint-Imier and Porrentruy by the 31st.
Column 5 - Consisting of the Austrian Reserves (less Bianchi's Grenadiers)
under the Crown Prince of Hesse-Homburg crossed the Rhine at Schauffhausen
not reaching Bern until the 30th of December. The Crown Prince
was given command of the IInd Corps the 31st.
Column 6 - Consisting of the Vth (Bavarian) Corps of Wrede crossed at
Basel, sending the Rechberg Division on Belfort, the La Motte Division on Porrentruy,
Zollern's Brigade to invest Huningue, with the Frimont (Austrian) Division
as a reserve. Colonel Scheibler moved on the road to Colmar and Cernay. December
24 the Landskron Chateau fell to Wrede and the following day Blâmont
fell to La Motte's Division. Attempting to move on Colmar from Ensisheim,
Colonel Scheibler was repulsed at Sainte-Croix on the 31st.
Column 7 - Consisted of the IVth Corps (Crown Prince of Württemberg)
was still moving into position the 22nd of December after being relieved
by the Russians before Kehl. They crossed the Rhine on two pontoon bridges
at Märkt and Idstein the 27th, capturing Emmendigen. The moved
to the right of Wrede in two columns between the Ill and the Rhine to the level
of Ensisheim and Blodelsheim.
Column 8 - Consisting of the VIth Russian Corps (Wittgenstein) who relieved
the Stockmeyer Division of the IVth Corps before Kehl with Prince Eugene
of Württemberg's Corps the 22nd. Spread from Strasbourg to
Mannheim they were to cross the Rhine at Plittersdorf and were massing at the
point by the 31st.
Column 9 - Consisting of the Russian Reserves under Barclay de Tolly. The
Russian Emperor ordered them to move to Lörrach (Generalissimo Schwarzenberg's
Headquarters) from Rottweil the 26th of December. They were assembled
before Basel by the 31st.
The skirmish at Sainte-Croix-en-Plaine took place the 24th of December,
leading to a major concentration of both the Vth and IVth Corps
below Colmar in anticipation of battle the 31st.
The skirmish at Baume-les-Dames took place the 31st of December.
The French forces were largely concentrated at Strasbourg consisting of the
2nd Corps of Marshal Victor. Spread closer to the river from Huningue
to Landau was the 5th Cavalry Corps (General Milhaud) . General
Jordy with 6 battalions held the city of Geneva falling back on Chambery, although
support had been forwarded by General Laroche in the form of the Italian Brigade
of General Saint-Paul.
 The flying corps of Colonel Scheibler already had that day
on the side of Battenheim, a small skirmish with the French outposts who
retired on Ensisheim.
 "Marshal Victor to the Chief of Staff. --Strasbourg 24
December 1813. --3:00 in the afternoon… I recount at the moment
news of General Milhaud. He
told me yesterday at Colmar at 9:00 in the evening that as his vanguard entered
the city on one side, the enemy entered it on the other. It was a party
commanded by Baron Schell and composed of Bavarian light horse, Austrian
hussars and 20 Don Cossacks, from Mulhouse. .." (Archives of the
Depot of the War.)
 Scheibler could not know
at that time that Victor, as shown in the following dispatch, sent infantry
behind Milhaud to Colmar:
"Marshal Victor to the Chief of Staff. --Strasbourg,
24 December 1813. --3:00 in the afternoon. --A column of infantry
was sent this morning from Strasbourg to support General Milhaud. It
was composed of 3,000 men of the 2nd Corps. I'll send a similar
force tomorrow with artillery. That's all I have available at this
time." (Archives of the Depot of the War.)
reports of the Allies only speak of 67 men killed or wounded. On Milhaud's
side his report from Colmar, December 24, at 9 at night, exaggerates the
losses of Scheibler claiming them to be 200 killed, 300 wounded, 150 prisoners
(Archives of War). These figures are obviously too high since the
total flying corps was only 680 men.
It is true to say that the reports of the Allies
estimated the number of French troops committed at 4,000 men, while only
Brigade participated. The two squadrons of the brigade Collaert merely
made a demonstration, and, indeed, the whole division only counted 659 men
on December 20. (See Archives of the Depot of War situation of the
Vth Cavalry Corps).
 Colonel Scheibler received three wounds in the battle of Saint-Croix.
 BERNHARDI, Denkwürdigkeiten des Grafen Toll, VI, p.
 BERNHARDI, Toll,
VI, pg. 136.
BURGHERSH (Earl of Westmoreland), Memoires.
Victor to the Chief of Staff. --Strasbourg, 27 December 1813. --8
o'clock at night. --The last report of General Milhaud told me the corps
commanded by General Wrede is before him and he expects to be attacked at any
time. It is assumed that this corps should be from 20 to 25,000 men strong. I
have just left from Strasbourg with the rest of the 4th Division and
two batteries to settle into a 2nd line of General Milhaud at Guémar. I
chose this position to await the enemy because it is the narrowest of the valley
and its suitability for the forces at my disposal. They cannot rise beyond
the moment of 7,000 infantry, 3,800 horses and five batteries of the 13th Light
Artillery. General Milhaud has orders to fall back on Guémar when the
enemy's army marches on him, but to cover and defend Colmar long as he can
without danger." (Archives of the Depot of the War.)
A Report of General Milhaud . --"Colmar, December 27, 1813. --My
Prince, I harass cautiously and with force the enemy's flanks. My party
of light cavalry and dragoons have daily skirmishes with the hostile parties,
which have hitherto been to our advantage. I protect, as far as my means
permit, the community (communes) against the requisitions of the enemy..
It should be very essential to give direction to the spirit of the
people to the greatest possible harm to the enemies of the Emperor and
The inhabitants of the Haut-Rhin are almost all good horsemen could
easily be organized into a legion of volunteers on foot and horseback,
but that would take a command of His Majesty.
I push out now a strong reconnaissance on the road from Belfort
to see, as close as possible, whether the report of General Ludot concerning
a camp of huts between Cernay and Thann is correct.
What is certain is that the enemy has a strong division of all arms
and guns in battery at Ensisheim. However, I will take every opportunity
to make a first blow and force to retain before you a corps for a larger
--Note. General Beaumont remains ill at Metz, I would like
to have at the head of the 9th Division of Heavy Cavalry a division
general of good bearing and fearless like General Montélégier.
(Archives of the Depot of the War.)"
 If one wants to know the numbers with which Bubna at this time would
push on Lyon, just read the following lines addressed to January 1, at Grenoble
by General Laroche to the Duke of Feltre: "I'm going with 1,000 or 1,200
infantry of the Italian column of General Saint-Paul, to move on Chambery
to protect the retreat of the garrison of Geneva and also whether it is possible
to delay the march of the enemy that one says intends to stand at Lyon and
Valencia." It can be added that General Laroche retired to Grenoble
the 3rd and left the Italian Brigade to continue on to Milan. (Archives
of the Depot of the War.)
 BERNHARDI, Toll,
VI, p. 150-151.
" Instructions to Major-General Prince Scherbatov by Prince Schwarzenberg.
- Lörrach, December 30, 1813 (original in French). --Your Excellency,
I intended for you to act the partisan with 4 Cossack regiments. Your
main goal will be to enlighten me on all movements of the enemy and to profit
at times to bring significant blows against him without risking getting involved
with a superior enemy with your troops. As a result Y. E. will leave
here for Altkirch; from there you are directed to the valley of the Moselle
by Epinal on Nancy. During this march you will maintain a communication
on the right with Colonel Scheibler whose destination is to operate on Colmar
on the road to Strasbourg. On the left (as there will be no partisans
in the direction of Langres) you will push the parties toward Langres and
Vesoul, warning of everything that happens to the commanders of the troops
who make up the blockade and Belfort and Huningue.
It may easily happen that Your Excellency will be invited to cooperate
in some undertaking of consequence. I have little doubt that you will
enjoy the favorable opportunity to deal a decisive blow. I still count,
Prince, on the good discipline of your troops and I think it's the only way
to facilitate the supply of the army by engaging ourselves with the locals.
I invite you, my Prince, to send me your
regular daily reports so that I can give the necessary orders on time
for the movements of the army. SCHWARZENBERG."
 Location of the available forces of effectives attached to Prince
Scherbatov December 29.
1st regiment of Cossacks of Tepler
3rd regiment of Cossacks of Orenburg
Regiment of Don Cossacks of Jagodin II
(Toll, IV, Beilage VI, p. 395, 396, and Archives
of St. Petersburg.)
 "General Musnier to the Minister of War. - Besançon.
31 December, 10 o'clock at night. --A corps of several hundred enemy
partisans occupied Baume, a small town on the Doubs, 5 miles above Besançon. General
Marulaz sortied last night at midnight, with 600 infantry and 300 horse,
to march against them. He met them near Baume and immediately and impetuously
charged them, putting them to flight, killing 18 men and taking 103 prisoners." (Archives
of the Depot of the War.)
 "December 30, the regiment had reached Riedelsheimer, it left
the night of the 30th to 31st, after detaching the 2nd division
of the major who was assigned to the flying corps of Colonel Baron Scheibler. The
regiment was directed to Saint-Croix, marching at 2 o'clock in the morning. Field-Marshal-Lieutenant
Count Anthony Hardegg had resolved to attempt a surprise attack with the
uhlans, the hussars of the Archduke Joseph and the 3rd battalion of
chasseurs, against Saint-Croix.
The division of the Colonel was the vanguard. The first squadron
of that division followed the road to Saint-Croix and arrived at dawn in a
most intense fog. Two platoons of the 2nd squadron of the division
were to take the village from its right, while the other 2 platoons were to
turn the left. This squadron was ordered into the village after having
turned the village and cut off the retreat of the enemy. But as we learned
later from the French prisoners, the enemy had planned a surprise on its side,
and that was why the uhlans came on to troops formed up and in position. However,
they managed to dislodge a chasseur company from the village and held it shortly
thereafter. Prisoners had been taken, and horses removed. The company's
goal was thus achieved, and the regiment received orders to return to its quarters
of the night before." (Memorable Facts of the War of the Uhlan Regiment
of Schwarzenberg (now the 2nd Regiment of Uhlans) O.M.Z, 1844, VII.)
We have found nowhere else any trace of a surprise
questioned here and that of it being the intent of Piré. It
seems more likely that the purpose of reconnaissance had not been achieved
since the Austrian cavalry failed to pierce the curtain formed by the French
 See for details: PETIET, Historical Journal of the Light Cavalry
Division 5th Corps of Cavalry; report of Milhaud, 31 December, 5 o'clock
at night; report of the Chief of Staff of the 5th Corps; and report
of General Piré on the action at Saint-Croix. (Archives of the
Depot of the War.)
Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2011
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