The Campaign of 1814: Chapter Two, Part II
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).
January 1, 1814.
--Wittgenstein prepares to cross the Rhine. -- On the day of 1 January and the night of the 1st to 2nd,
Wittgenstein, with a prudence and caution that had no justification, since
he had before him no more than 250-300 men guarding the works of the ruins
of Fort Louis, methodically prepared the Rhine crossing.
The violent current and the intensity of the fog did not allow him to build bridges
in the day on the 2nd.
He confined himself with massing the Corps and the 2nd Corps of Cavalry
of Pahlen near the point chosen for the passage and pushing forward the regiment
of eigers to head the column and level Fort-Louis (Fort Vauban).
Movement of the partisans of Scheibler and Scherbatov. --The
IVth and Vth Corps, which formed at that time the right of the
main army, did not move. Only the small flying corps of Colonel Scheibler
scouted to Neuf-Brisach, going a little more to the left of Soultz by Guebwiller
and General Prince Scherbatov, with four regiments of Cossacks, left Altkirch
and passed through Thann to enter the valley of Saint-Amarin , then across
the Vosges and to proceed from there on Remiremont. On this date (the
same journal of operations kept at the army headquarters of Schwarzenberg
gives us irrefutable proof) one
only knew of the cavalry of General Milhaud and Piré at Saint-Croix
and Habstatt. So that was the only information obtained during the
ten days that had passed since the Vth Corps had crossed the border.
The IIIrd Corps (Gyulay) came to Delle, as we have said, and posted between
Blâmont and Villers, its vanguard brigade (Grimmer Brigade). Another
brigade charged specifically with supporting Major Wöber, who had evacuated
the Baume-les-Dames, and ensuring the IIIrd Corps' possession of the bridges
of Clerval and Pont-de-Roide, was placed in Montbouton .
Movements of the flying corps of Thurn. --The flying
corps of Lieutenant-Colonel Thurn, which preceded the corps of Gyulay had
pushed to Lure.
Movements of the columns. --The Ist Corps arrived
in Délemont, after detours and following difficult roads from Solothurn,
it would have been easier and quicker to bring them into the line, if one
had known what role was reserved for them at this time and what direction
it was to have followed.
To its left, the IInd Corps was still motionless on the side of Pontarlier.
The patrols of the vanguard of Bubna (General Scheither) had contact with the
French outposts near the Hôpital du Gros-Bois.
The Austrian reserves, still far behind the Ist and IIIrd Corps were
in echelon in Neuchâtel
at Bern; while the Russian and Prussian reserves marched slowly from Freiburg-en-Breisgau
on Basel; the cavalry of Ataman Platoff, however, had crossed the Rhine and
was stationed at Altkirch.
January 2, 1814. --Movements of the Allies in Alsace. --On January 2, Wittgenstein managed
finally to cross the Rhine with his vanguard, to level Fort Louis (Fort Vauban)
and Fort d'Alsace, to throw on the left bank the 4th Infantry Division,
while the Cossack regiments of Vlasov II and Iaroslav crossed the ford of
the oxbow of the Rhine between Fort Louis and the Alsatian shore and spread
out on the roads of Strasbourg, Haguenau and Lauterbourg.
The Crown Prince of Württemberg, always stationed at the right of the Vth Corps,
brought up the reserve of his first column (General Stockmeyer) just between
Ensisheim and Bantzenheim, and the bulk of the 2nd (General Koch) took
the position of Rumersheim at Blodelsheim.
Wrede, whose headquarters were
in Cernay, concentrated by order of the Generalissimo between Cernay and
Aspach the division of La Motte, between Soultz and Rouffach the division
of Antoine Hardegg, at Uffholtz the division of Spleny, at Soppe-le-Bas the
division of Rechberg that Bianchi went to relieve at Belfort, and
only left before Huningen the brigade of Zollern.
At that time there were only some
French cavalry pickets stationed at Pfaffenheim, Herrlisheim and Saint-Croix
across from the position of the Vth Corps. Hardegg debouching
from Rouffach chased from Pfaffenheim the French cavalry found there. A
few hours later, when the Austrian general had returned to his lines at Rouffach
they reoccupied this post.
The flying corps of Colonel Scheibler came up to Bühl to monitor
the valley of Lautenbach.
Concentration of IVth and Vth Corps on Colmar.
--From what we have said, it is clear that the IVth and Vth Corps
employed the first two days of 1814 to concentrate and amass to remove from
Colmar the cavalrymen of Milhaud and some infantry that Victor had posted
on that side in support of the 5th Cavalry Corps. It was for
such a petty obstacle that Schwarzenberg had thought it necessary to direct
Wrede to march with the whole Vth Corps by Rouffach and Saint-Croix
to Colmar and the Crown Prince of Württemberg to amass the whole IVth Corps
While Wrede and the Crown Prince of Württemberg were preparing to execute
the orders of the Generalissimo, Lieutenant-Colonel Count Thurn had continued
his movement on Lure, that he occupied without a shot being fired in the night
of the 1st to 2nd January and where he pushed the parties on the
roads to Luxeuil and Vesoul.
Bianchi having relieved the Bavarians before Belfort left on the roads of Besançon
and of Vesoul the light division of Crenneville, which occupied Arcey, Isle-sur-le-Doubs,
Héricourt, and whose patrols appeared on the road from Vesoul up area
The IIIrd Corps that was still in Delle, sent a regiment to Montbéliard
to fall back upon, if necessary, by the troops to Crenneville posted in Arcey.
Schwarzenberg, to be more mobile, had moved his headquarters to Lörrach
at Basel. Finally completing all the unnecessary precautions, the Ist Corps
came to Porrentruy. The IInd while leaving the troops at Fort de
Joux, massed around Morteau so as to move forward the next day, while behind
these two corps, the Crown Prince of Hesse-Homburg, was marching on Pontarlier,
camped his troops from Travers to Saint-Blaise and Aarberg. The Prince was, with
25 battalions and 74 squadrons, trying to push from Pontarlier on Besançon
that he thought to take by force. The Prince of Hesse-Homburg proposed moreover,
if a coup de main against Besançon were to fail, to fall back on the right
of Vesoul, to rally the right wing of the Army of Bohemia. Finally, General
Scheither, posted between Villafans and Fallerans united the left of the IInd Corps
with the main body of Bubna.
January 3, 1814 . --The cavalry of Pahlen crossing to the left bank
of the Rhine is directed to Haguenau. --In the night of
2 to 3 January, the pontooners of Wittgenstein having completed the bridge
over the Red Rhine, Pahlen immediately passed to the left bank with his cavalry
(Grodno Hussars, 5 squadrons; Sumy Hussars, 2 squadrons Tchougouiev Lancers,
4 squadrons; 2nd Baden Dragoon Regiment, 4 squadrons; and the horse
battery, No. 23).
He had orders to move on Haguenau, threaten and, if he could cut the road from
Strasbourg to Nancy by Saverne. Pahlen, advancing in the direction of Haguenau,
covered his left to Strasbourg by General Rüdinger that would go with the
Grodno hussars, Cossacks of Vlasov II and 2 pieces of horse artillery up to Drusenheim
and to push half of the Cossack regiment as far as possible towards Strasbourg.
A squadron of hussars of Grodno and the rest of Vlasov II Cossacks were directed
by the road from Haguenau to Strasbourg by Brumath, sending parties on one hand
to Strasbourg, the other towards Saverne.
Finally, Lieutenant-Colonel Nabel, with two squadrons of Sumy Hussars and half
of the Cossack regiment Iaroslav, was responsible for covering the right side
of Landau, stationing themselves at Seltz and sending parties beyond Wissembourg
to Landau and Bitche.
To complete this scene, Colonel Selifontov went with two squadrons of the lancers
of Tchougouiev and the remaining sotnias of the regiment of Iaroslav, established
themselves at Lauterbourg, by sending by Langenkaudel parties on Landau and looking
for ways to communicate with the Army of Silesia through Rheinzabern and Spire.
During the day of the 3rd, Prince Eugene of Württemberg occupied Fort
Louis (Fort Vauban) with the 3rd Infantry Division; the 4th stood
still on the right bank at Stollhofen and did not pass to the left bank until
the 8th. 
The cavalry of the VIth Corps had been sent in all directions in order
to obtain the necessary information about the position and strength of the enemy,
and on the progress of other Allied columns. This cavalry only made a little
progress on the road the 3rd, and that night it occupied the following
positions: Pahlen, with the bulk of his cavalry had not passed Suffelheim;
Rüdinger had gone up to Schierofen; the Cossacks of Vlasov II had established
themselves at Drusenheim and gone past Gambsheim, scouting the side of La Wantzenau
still occupied by the French and finally, one of the two squadrons of lancers
of Tchougouiev settled in Haguenau, that the French had evacuated the morning
of the 3rd.
One finds in the remarks on the occupation of Haguenau in the reports of Wittgenstein
and Barclay de Tolly to the Emperor of Russia, dated 5 January, curious data
about the mindset of the people. The entry of Russian lancers did not cause,
it seems, any emotion, nor discontent, as the population continued to go about
its usual occupation, as if nothing had happened. But the situation was
soon completely changed immediately following the measure, which was prescribed
by Schwarzenberg without the knowledge of the rulers and also only reported
on slightly after, imposing the duty of submitting
obedience and loyalty to the Allied sovereigns, by the authorities and populations. These,
subjected to abuse and violence inseparable from invasion, aggravated by poverty
and mistreatment, decided to gradually take up arms and take, as we shall see
later, a glorious part and actively defend the nation's territory.
In sum, Pahlen had only managed to learn that two regiments of guards of honor
(the 3rd and 4th) were watching the Rhine in the vicinity, while
on the side of Strasbourg, this service was entrusted to a few companies of infantry
from the garrison; that the bulk of the 4th Regiment of the Guards of Honor,
who had abandoned Haguenau at the approach of the lancers seemed to retire on
Severn, and the 3rd regiment of these guards had fallen back into the vicinity
of Fort Vauban by Bischwiller, where one would have expected to see it take the
road of Saverne.
March of Wrede on Colmar. - Schwarzenberg had delivered the
3rd in the morning the troops he had intended, by an order dated 2
January at Lörrach, to act against Colmar. This
movement would allow Wrede resume the place he had been assigned in the order
of battle, passing in front of the IVth Corps, moving to the right
of the latter, having consequently the Crown Prince of Württemberg and
Wittgenstein to his left to his right.
The march on Colmar was effected as follows: Frimont with the division
of Antoine Hardegg. marched at dawn on Rouffach: it was followed by the divisions
of La Motte, Spleny and by the Bavarian Light Horse of General Ellbracht.
The division of Rechberg marched at the same time towards Soultz and stayed as
the reserve. Finally, the IVth Corps was put on the march in two
columns, one with General Koch towards Neuf-Brisach along the Rhine, the other
led by the Crown Prince of Württemberg in person, through Ensisheim on Saint-Croix
and Colmar, covering the right and the rear of the Vth Corps, with which
the Württembergers were linked further by the small flying corps of Colonel
Scheibler, temporarily reinforced by two companies of chasseurs.
The last posts covering the rear-guard of Milhaud at that time still occupied
Saint-Croix, Pfaffenheim and Hattstadt. At 9 o'clock, the two Allied corps began
their movements; the vedettes and the small posts of French cavalry fell back
immediately on Colmar they left almost without
General Milhaud informed of the passage of the Rhine executed by Wittgenstein
evacuated in the morning, riding with his cavalry in the direction of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines,
while the infantry had filed towards Strasbourg. At least that was
what Wrede learned, when at 3 in the afternoon, he arrived in Colmar at almost
the same time as the IVth Corps. The rear guard was meekly pursued
by Scheibler up to Marckolsheim, and retreated without further molestation
towards Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, to cover the crossing of the Vosges and allowing
the rest to safely reach the valley of the Meurthe.
So it was to take Colmar, with a handful of cavalry and for passing
the investment of Neuf-Brisach, that had set in motion two army corps who
camped that night, the Vth in and around Colmar, the IVth between
Sainte-Croix and Biltzheim.
Schwarzenberg for his part returned to Altkirch; Colonel Scheibler, who had only
pretended to follow the rear guard of Milhaud had after being stopped at Marckolsheim
move towards Sélestat, because the chief was convinced that Milhaud would
move from there to Strasbourg to join Victor.
March of Scherbatov towards Remiremont. --Scherbatov
had on his part, crossed the Vosges, debouching in the Moselle valley and pushed
with 700 cavalrymen towards Remiremont, that he occupied the 3rd, at
one o'clock in the afternoon, after a skirmish which he accounted for as follows:
Report of Scherbatov to his Highness the Prince of Schwarzenberg,
Commander in Chief of the United Armies. --Remiremont,
3 January 1814. (the original in French.)
"Two leagues from Remiremont my vanguard commanded by Colonel Efimovitch,
was met by a detachment of enemy cavalry, which was crushed.
Many were killed and 36 captured. There were 6 Cossacks injured 2 of
About one o'clock in the afternoon, Remiremont was occupied; but now I chanced
to find a letter that told of 600 infantry marching from Épinal towards
Remiremont, that 230 cavalry men arrived at Épinal and that they were
waiting on 250 more in the night.
I could not resist such a strong force, and I will have to fall back on the
same road by which I came, so as not to allow the surprise of the left flank
of the army debouching from the gorges of the mountains.
I sent a good patrol to Plombières that found no enemy there."
Movement of the cavalry of Thurn towards Vesoul.
--Lieutenant-Colonel Count Thurn, who for his part, came to Lure, had resolved
to surprise, on the night of the 2nd to the 3rd, the French detachment
stationed at Calmoutier, but which had, meanwhile, fallen back on the heights
near Vesoul. The party that Thurn had pushed forward, who had skirmished
throughout the morning with the French outposts, was ordered by the Colonel
to occupy them and hold the attention of the enemy. Marching during this
time, with the rest of his forces, by way of Besançon to Vesoul, he
came upon the rear of Vesoul, by Vellefaux. "As soon as," he
said, "this movement
was executed, I strongly had attacked the enemy in front. Captain Burckhardt
performed his task with such skill and intelligence, he entered pell-mell with
the enemy into the city, and took the Prefect just at the time he was preparing
Thurn said he had 200 prisoners, including sick, wounded; he has taken, in
addition to the Commissaire de Guerre attached to the Depot of Vesoul, a fodder
warehouse and a large warehouse of tobacco: he has the Prefect under guard,
but the main result of his raid on Vesoul has been to delayed the levée
en masse to be ordered by the Prefect.
Bianchi, after relieving the Bavarians in front of Belfort, had unsuccessfully
called upon the General Legrand to surrender this place to him. The IIIrd Corps
(Gyulay), arrived in Montbéliard, was his support, and as this corps
lacked cavalry, he had occupied the positions of Clerval and Arcey with infantry. Bianchi
also warned Schwarzenberg in his report of 3 January, "that it would be impossible to
push the light division of Crenneville very far forward in the direction of
Vesoul, because this general officer had with him only two weak squadrons."
Not surprisingly, we hoped at least to set our focus on the details that may,
at first, seem insignificant; but on a little reflection, one discovers easily
why we attach such significance to these facts. It seems, indeed, it
is necessary to do so, if you want to get an exact account of the nature of
the operations, to discover the cause of the delays that seem inexplicable
at first glance, to appreciate the full extent of the kind of superstitious
terror which seems to have haunted the headquarters of the Generalissimo from
the time he decided to set foot on French soil. With nothing ahead, he
could have pushed firmly and quickly forward, to break through the thin curtain
of cavalry, behind which he would have found some weak battalions scattered
from Wissembourg to Baume-les-Dames.
If one opens, to the 3rd of January, the Summary Journal of Operations
and Marches taken by the Grand Headquarters of Schwarzenberg, we read there that Pahlen
is in Haguenau, where he found the sick and took the depots of the cavalry,
he drives straight ahead on Wissembourg and Saverne, that Scherbatov has crossed
the Vosges at Saint-Amarin and advanced in the Moselle valley up to Remiremont.
But one must carefully search, however, to find the slightest allusion to the
delays of Wittgenstein, what motivated them to unnecessary deploy of two army
corps to Colmar to remove a few horsemen, to mention the loss of contact with
Milhaud's cavalry, to explain the marking of time imposed on the IIIrd,
IInd and Ist Corps and Reserves.
We have to say upfront, to be finished with the day of the 3rd, that
the division Ignatius Hardegg, of the Ist Corps, had retaken on the Doubs,
from the side of Saint-Hippolyte, Pont-de-Roide and Baume-les-Dames, the positions
that the IIIrd Corps, going on Montbéliard had left. The
bulk of this corps was indeed still in Porrentruy, and the IInd Corps
debouched alone at Flangebouche, while the Austrian reserves, with the Crown
Prince Hesse-Homburg, were moved without haste, on Pontarlier, Saint-Sulpice,
Chaux-du-Milieu and Saint-Blaise, and Barclay de Tolly installed his headquarters
Considerations on the positions of the Allies. --Effects
of the entry of the Vth Corps into Colmar. --It must be recognized the Allied drive towards Colmar, forced Milhaud
to retreat on Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, coming to thwart Napoleon's plans
and the movements of Victor. Forced to seek, above all, to win
the time he needed to ensure a semblance of cohesion to his new formations. Napoleon
inevitably had been led to the idea of holding a mock defense of the
Rhine, and had, therefore, to extend his line equal to the length of
the front through which the natural lines of the Allied invasion would
have to pass. The
results, nevertheless, leaves one the burden of finding fault in Napoleon's
vision, because, while being in echelon along the Rhine, the French
corps, despite the mistakes made by some generals, nonetheless were
able to rally on the points further back chosen by the Emperor.
It is indeed obvious that if the French troops had, from the beginning, continued
their retreat, the Allies, instead of losing by hesitations, by counter marches,
almost the entire month of January, would have followed step by step and knowing
what they had before them, would not have remained motionless so long. Unfortunately, the lieutenants of the Emperor and especially Victor, who
we have occupied ourselves at present, were less likely to perform adequately
a plan that required a confidence and an enthusiasm they had lost, an ardor
and zeal that had cooled and had given way to weariness, indifference, if not
The Emperor ordered, 2 January, the Chief of Staff to prescribe
Marmont having to visit Colmar to take command of the division made up from
the 2nd Corps, and reunite the two divisions of the 6th Corps,
the 1st and the 5th Corps of Cavalry. Victor was staying
in Strasbourg, to form the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of his corps
(the 2nd) and ensure the protection of the towns, while Mortier would
act as the reserve at Langres and two divisions of the Guard under the command
of General Curial, would go from Nancy and Luxemburg to Épinal to
take position. But Victor, seeing himself threatened upstream of Strasbourg
by the Württembergers and Wrede, downstream by the crossing of Wittgenstein
to the left bank, and the appearance of the Pahlen's cavalry at Haguenau,
fearful of being overwhelmed and trapped in Strasbourg, and above all concerned
about the responsibility that weighed upon him, had, contrary to the orders
of the Emperor resolved to
fall back by Sélestat and Molsheim towards Saverne where he hoped
to reach a hand to Marmont, not knowing, he was already separated from him
by the march of the Army of Silesia. The movements executed by
the Allied IVth and Vth Corps had, moreover, , the effect of
preventing the execution of the ordered retrograde motions by Molsheim on
Saverne, Victor had sent to the 5th Corps of Cavalry. T he direction
on Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, that Milhaud impressed upon his retirement, completely
baffled the Duke of Bellune, who left just two regiments of the Guards of
Honor next to Saverne to observe Pahlen, thought it wiser, instead of seeking
opportunities to defend the debouchments of the Vosges on the side of Épinal,
to retreat the 5th of January, by Mutzig and Blâmont
on Raon-l'Étape, leaving Épinal, with open mountain passes
and frustrating, making them useless, all measures taken by the Emperor. This
was committing a serious offense which could not fail to assist an opponent
that was somewhat active and enterprising. But the hesitation of Schwarzenberg,
the singular directives on Colmar he gave, as we shall see, the corps of
Wrede, the slowness of Wittgenstein who began to move upon Severn; finally,
something absolutely unheard of from a general having numerous and battle
experienced cavalry, the loss of contact with Milhaud's cavalry, were, if
not repaired, at least mitigated the misconduct by Victor.
It is indeed certain that the Allies in continuing their forward movement,
in following step by step and in strongly driving the rear guard of the 5th Cavalry
Corps, could, without meeting any resistance, descend by the valley of Meurthe
on Lunéville and Nancy. Wittgenstein, in accentuating his movement
on Saverne, would have called all of Victor's attention upon him, causing him
to deploy on that side.
Further on the left, a corps, could have by defiling through Épinal,
marched quickly through the valley of the Moselle to Charmes and Pont-Saint-Vincent,
and two other corps, the IIIrd and Ist for example, could have
accelerated their march on Langres by Vesoul. A similar movement, without danger
as there was no one before it, would have completely disorganized the defense
and delivered almost without fighting, on the sides of Meuse the heads of the
valleys of the Marne, of the Aube and of the Seine. The timidity of Allied
commanders can thus be explained solely by the fear that the Emperor inspired,
by the fear they had of seeing him first launch against Blücher, the battle
on the Meuse River and then return with the reinforcements he had collected
en route against the heads of the columns of Schwarzenberg. Also, being
more than faithful to the principles expressed at the signing of the agreement
Trachtenberg, the Allied generals appear to have sought above all to avoid
any serious encounter, prevent any enterprises of the smallest consequence,
until the moment where the Army of Bohemia had effected a junction with that
But this junction itself could have taken place quickly, easily, without wasting
time and safely. It would have been sufficient to achieve this by ordering
the VIth Corps to push immediately to the front on the 3rd in the
evening, while on the contrary, Wittgenstein was allowed to march in place,
from the 3rd until January 10th, around the point where he had
crossed the Rhine. And so it happened that when Blücher arrived January
17 at Nancy with the bulk of his troops, we find the cavalry of Pahlen up at
Phalsbourg. Blessed with the slow, methodical Wittgenstein, the reluctance
of the general headquarters, a cavalry corps took fifteen days to go from Haguenau
4 January 1814. - Movements of the Cavalry of the VIth Corps. --The
4th, in fact, Pahlen was content to occupy, with the bulk of his
troops, Haguenau, where one of his squadrons had been on the previous day. He
had, indeed, taken measures to carefully cover his left, with Rüdinger,
who established himself at Gambsheim and where outposts were held to Wantzenau. On
his right, with Colonel Selifontov went beyond Lauterbourg, and Lieutenant-Colonel
Nabel sending parties to Landau, without meeting anywhere the small French
detachments who had fallen back on Landau. Pahlen had even dared
to push before Haguenau, a squadron that went on the road from Saverne
up to Monmenheim and to send on the roads of Bouxwiller and Bitche, the
Baden dragoons. The rest of the VIth Corps remained in the
same positions as before.
It seems, moreover, that the general headquarters of Wittgenstein did not have
enough cavalry, since the next day
on 5January, it was informed it would be joined by Seslavin. This general
officer, who could have been of real service if he had, as he wished, as he
requested, allowed to attempt an advanced towards the south of France, received,
in Porrentruy, the order to move by Dannemarie and Colmar, on Sélestat
to link the Vth and VIth Corps.
Loss of contact. --As already indicated, the IVth and
Vth Corps had completely lost, the day before, contact with the cavalry
of Milhaud, first because Colonel Scheibler had been stopped at Marckolsheim,
then because it was believed in high places that Milhaud would be unable
to withdraw on Sélestat.
Because of the same ignorance which is found here and orders received from
General Headquarters, nothing was undertaken, it is true to say, in the valley
of the Rhine! Wrede, having failed to discover any trace of his opponent,
was unable to draw any strong conclusions from the conflicting information
given by the people, detached
from his vanguard three parties of horse; the first, under the command of Major
General Ellbracht, skirted the foot of the Vosges, heading left towards Ober-Bergheim
and Guemar; the second, that Colonel
Baron Mengen led by Marckolsheim to Heidolsheim; and, finally, the 3rd on
the right, under the command of Colonel Scheibler, went on to Diebolsheim
to subdue the country between the Ill and the various branches of the Rhine.
The rest of the Vth and all of the IVth Corps remained completely
Movements of the flying corps of Thurn before Vesoul.
--Lieutenant-Colonel Count Thurn had occupied Vesoul the 4th at noon,
with the bulk of his party, and he added in his letter from Vesoul, at 5 o'clock
to Schwarzenberg: "I am watching all roads in the direction of Besançon,
Gray, Port-sur-Saône and Luxeuil. I have received intelligence
of all that is happening with Major-General von Haecht, and asked him to hold
Lure to serve as my support. I have tried in vain to link myself through
Luxeuil and Remiremont with the flying corps of Prince Scherbatov, and as I
have very little horse, I cannot disperse them too far away by sending out
An emissary, who just returned, tells me that a body of French cavalry marches
by Chaumont, towards Langres and Port-sur-Saône, and its patrols have
pushed to Charmoille. I immediately headed to Port-sur-Saône the captain
of Bavarian chasseurs Fleischmann with a detachment of mixed cavalry and chasseurs,
and gave him the order to obtain information about the enemy and seek above
all to take prisoners.
The enemy cavalry depots muster in Dijon.
The news from Paris indicate a great dissatisfaction in the population and
soon will lead to an explosion of serious disorders. The Emperor, from
what the agent told me that I sent to Paris, and who left the city six days
ago, intends to bring 10,000 men to Guard
I have the honor to send to Your Highness the issue of the Moniteur that
I just received."
Key to Map:
IInd Corps (formerly Column 1) -Passed under the command the Crown Prince
of Hesse-Homburg (in command of the Austrian Reserves) the 31st of December
at which time it massed near Le Locle and Chaux-du-Milieu and the vanguard
under General Scheither had sent troops on Fort de Joux and made contact with
French patrols as far north as Hôpital du Gros-Bois, posting between
Villafans and Fallerans. Leaving troops at Fort de Joux the corps massed at
Morteau debouching at Flangebouche the 3rd.
Bianchi and Crenneville Divisions (formerly Column 2) -Bianchi having reached
Montbéliard relieved the Bavarians before Belfort, Crenneville holding
the roads of Besançon and Vesoul at Arcey, Isle-sur-le-Doubs, Héricourt.
Bianchi unsuccessfully called on General Legrand to surrender Belfort on the
Ist Corps (M. Liechtenstein) and the 2nd Light Division (Colloredo)
(formerly Column 3) -Reached Délemont the 1st and Porrentruy the
2nd. On the 3rd the Ignatius Hardegg Division retook Pont-de-Roide
and Baume-les-Dames from the side of Saint-Hippolyte, while the bulk of the
corps moved to Delle to replace the IIIrd Corps.
IIIrd Corps (Gyulay) (formerly Column 4) -Reached Delle posting its
vanguard between Blâmont and Villers on the 1st sending troops
to guard the bridges of Clerval and Pont-de-Roide. Remained in Delle
the 2nd and moved to Montbéliard the 3rd.
Austrian Reserves (Crown Prince of Hesse-Homburg) (formerly Column 5) -Following
behind the IInd Corps it was still between Bern and Neuchâtel on
Reaching the IInd Corps on the 2nd it moved on Pontarlier, Saint-Sulpice,
Chaux-du-Milieu and Saint-Blaise the third.
Vth (Bavarian) Corps (Wrede)(formerly Column 6) Believing of a major
enemy concentration at Colmar, the Vth Corps was largely reunited south of
Saint-Croix leaving only the Zollern Brigade before Huningue. The divisions
of Antoine Hardegg, La Motte and Spleny with the Bavarian Light Horse moved
on Rouffach at dawn on the 3rd with the division of Rechberg moving on
Soultz to act as a reserve. They found Colmar empty, and Colonel Scheibler
meekly pursued up to Marckolsheim then to Diebolsheim by the 4th.
The Bavarian Light Horse moved on Ober Bergheim the same day.
IVth Corps (Crown Prince of Württemberg) (formerly Column 7) Had
taken up positions in two columns between the Ill and the Rhine to the level
of Ensisheim and Blodelsheim. As part of the assault on Colmar the 3rd it
moved in two columns one under General Koch towards Neuf-Brisach along the
Rhine, the other under the Crown Prince through Ensisheim on Sainte-Croix and
Colmar. Platoff's Cossacks had crossed the Rhine the 29th of December
and was to precede the corps.
VIth Russian Corps (Wittgenstein)(formerly Column 8) Prepared to cross
at Plittersdorf on the day and night of the 1st and 2nd. In
the night of 2-3 January the pontoon bridge over the Red Rhine was completed
and Pahlen's 2nd Cavalry Corps crossed with five contingents moving on
Haguenau, Drusenheim, Brumath, Seltz and Lauterbourg (off map). On the
3rd Prince Eugene of Württemberg occupied Fort Louis with the 3rd Division
while the 4th stayed on the right bank at Stollhofen. By the 4th,
Pahlen was in Haguenau, Rüdinger in Gambsheim, Selifontov was beyond Lauterbourg,
Nabel at Landau.
Russian Reserves (Barclay de Tolly) (formerly Column 9) -The reserves
was based at Basel by the 1st. The cavalry had been pushed forward
to Altkirch and elements were used to organize partisan corps made up of 2
Cossack regiments and a squadron of hussars each. The most active of
these in this period were Colonel Scherbatov who left Altkirch the 1st moving
through Thann on Saint-Amarin where he crossed the Vosges advancing up the
Moselle valley to Remiremont; and Lieutenant Colonel Count Thurn who advanced
at the same time taking Lure and finally Vesoul on the 4th.
The French forces were largely concentrated at Strasbourg consisting of the
2nd Corps of Marshal Victor. Seeing himself threatened upstream
by the Bavarians and Württembergers and downstream by the Russians
with being trapped at Strasbourg Victor resolved to fall back by Sélestat
and Molsheim towards Saverne, but felt that the Allied move on Colmar prevented
this, leaving him to fall back by Mutzig on Raon-l'Étape. He posted
two regiments of Guards of Honor at Saverne to monitor Pahlen. The 5th Cavalry
Corps (General Milhaud) judiciously fell back on the 3rd on Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. On
2 January the Emperor ordered the two divisions of the Young Guard with their
artillery under Curial to move from Nancy and Luxemburg to Épinal, and
for General Mortier to act as a reserve at Langres with the Old Guard and the
reserve division forming in Paris along with "two Old Guard divisions
forming in Paris."
 STARKE. Eintheilung und
der Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt Armee unter Feld-Marschall Fürst Schwarzenberg
im Monate Januar 1814. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30.)
2] Letter of Lieutenant-Colonel
Count Thurn to Prince Schwarzenberg . --"Frahier, the 1st of
January 1814. --To his Highness the commander in chief, Field Marshal
Prince Schwarzenberg. --I hasten to respectfully inform Your Highness
that I arrived here this afternoon with my corps and I pushed my outposts to
the side of Ronchamp.
Tonight I will try to occupy Lure where yesterday the enemy had no one, and
I will try to remove the enemy's cavalry regiment stationed at Vesoul.
The spirit of the people surprised me and exceeded my expectations. Tired
of a despised and detested government, the people await with impatience
the expected hour of their deliverance. The proclamations
that we distributed, the excellent conduct of our troops have helped to
develop these powerful feelings.
According to information reaching me at the moment, serious disturbances have
broken out in Lyon and the Vendée. In Lyon conscripts have refused to
surrender to the government's appeal.
In Metz, I learn that the corps quartered in and around the place has just
20,000 men. The bulk of enemy forces seems to have been partly directed
on Holland, and partly massing on the side of Mainz.
In a few days I hope to convey to Y. H. accurate and precise reports from the
emissaries I have sent out."
(K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 31.)
The assessments of Count Thurn, assessments that we find in many of his early
reports are useful to record. They can illuminate the state of mind at the beginning of the
invasion and follow by showing the step by step awakening of national spirit.
 Lieutenant-Colonel Count
Thurn to Prince Schwarzenberg. --"Lure, January 2, 1814. - Tonight
I took Lure with a platoon of hussars, and the rest of my detachment joined
My positions are on the road of Luxeuil and on the two roads from Vesoul. The
Bavarian jägers, who have been my assistants, provide in this wooded area
my communications with my outposts. I pushed a strong force on the two
routes of Vesoul to focus on the conflicting information I have received of
the presence of the enemy cavalry in Vesoul and I commanded the head of this
detachment to try to surprise and attack the enemy during the night. Tomorrow
I will try to link myself through Luxeuil, with the flying corps of Major-General
Prince Scherbatov and if possible, to join my left with the division of Count
Crenneville that I'm looking for.
It is certain that there was only this morning a strong picket of horse chasseurs
at Calmoutier, the prefect of the Haute-Saône has posted at today at
noon in Vesoul the Decree on the Levy, as The Imperial Commissioner and Senator
Valencia arrived at Besançon and gave the orders for the organization
of mass conscription. It appears that the discipline and maintenance
of troops is imposed on the population.
My party has been received in the area with joy. Everyone seems
to indicate that they have been waiting, even within the interior of the
country, our arrival with a real impatience.
I have the honor to send to Y. H. the very interesting Journal of the Empire
dated 28 and 29 December.
Finally, I must communicate to Y. H. another no less interesting news from
letters received here from Paris by the ex-commissaire-ordonnatuer La Motte,
suggesting he would have been in Paris leading an uprising to prevent
the Emperor from leaving.
I know of a shop here in Lure with 50 quintals of smoking tobacco and look
to Y. H. to issue orders."
(K. K. Kriegs Archiv, I, 46.)
of the cavalry of Pahlen, according to the status report of 4 January, 1814.
Count Wittgenstein to the
Prince of Schwarzenberg; Rastatt, 3 January 1814. --Wittgenstein reports
on the passage of the Rhine by the troops of the VIth Corps, the actions
at Fort Vauban and Fort Alsace, and then adds:
"The 3rd bridge (that of the 3rd arm) is completed, all my
horse will go with me onto the left bank. The bulk of the cavalry under
the command of Count Pahlen, goes to Haguenau and pushes as far as possible
towards Saverne. Another corps of cavalry will go towards Strasbourg and Sélestat
to connect with the partisans and couriers of General Count Wrede. Finally,
another detachment of cavalry is moving in order to try to connect with the
left of Field Marshal Blücher, near Wissembourg." (K. K. Kriegs
Archiv., 1, 84.)
 See BOGDANOWITCH, I, 67.
 Schwarzenberg to Field-Marshal Lieutenant Bianchi. --"Lörrach,
2 January, 1814. --General Count Wrede to push, 3 January, to
Colmar. The flying corps of General Prince Scherbatov
is shifted towards Epinal on the road of Remiremont." (K.
K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 37.)
 Regiment of Austrian lancers of Schwarzenberg
before Colmar (History of the Regiment). --4 January 1814.
--The regiment marched that day to Colmar with the Vth Corps of
which it formed the advanced guard.
Major Count Hadik had been sent with a squadron on the right flank to cover
this flank and to link with the troops of Colonel Baron Scheibler who was to
be going to Colmar on the road from Saint-Croix. Although the squadron
had to go across terrain most unfavorable to the deployment of the cavalry,
cut across the marshes, ditches and half frozen ponds, it managed however
to get into Colmar first and do some harm on the other side of town to the
rear guard of the enemy who retreated. These good results were mainly
due to the quick eye and decisiveness of Captain Baron Saamen.
The Wachtmeister Hyrsch, who was sent forward with 15 men to skirmish
with the enemy, particularly distinguished himself. Arriving in the vineyards
surrounding the town, he moved rapidly forward with two men up to the gate
of Colmar, where five enemy horsemen, aided by some towns people, tried to
barricade it. He did not hesitate to start the fight with them, prevented
them from continuing their work, until, supported by ten Cossacks of Platoff,
he succeeded in putting them to flight. Without orders and on his own
accord, he pursued the enemy with the Cossacks, into the square and a platoon
of cavalry en train, wounding the leader and pursuing the fugitives to the
gate located across the city, which he held until the arrival of the rest,
although four enemy squadrons were established in the vicinity and outside
 In the report he wrote,
7 January in the night, from Baccarat, to the Chief of Staff, General Milhaud
reported this in terms of the retreat:
"When I had ordered the Duke of Bellune to leave Colmar, he says in this
report, I was in the presence of a strong army that attacked the 5th Cavalry
Corps and my infantry brigade with four large columns; I had detachments on
the banks of the Rhine before Neuf-Brisach and in the mountains of Soultzbach,
and despite the enemy forces being twelve times (?) superior to ours, we made
our retreat without losing a single man or a horse. I left Colmar at
2 in the afternoon and thought I should not respond with a single shot to the
enemy gunfire. We maneuvered in the defiles and on the plain with the
greatest order…the lancers of Schwarzenberg formed the vanguard of the
enemy, but with great caution…
The detachment of 100 dragoons and 200 infantry commanded by Squadron Chief
Montanolle, of the 22nd, I sent into the valley of Munster, was retired
along the mountains and came to join our rear guard.
What a pity, my prince,
added the general in ending, not to defend the entrance of the gorges of
Saverne, of Mutzig and Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines with some battalions of light
" All the inhabitants of the mountains only wanted to see one or two battalions
protecting the beginning of each gorge to make an eruption and defend their
homes. (Archives of the Depot of the War.)
 K. K. Kriegs Archiv.,
 Report of Thurn to Schwarzenberg,
from Vesoul, 4 January. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 73).
 K. K. Kriegs Archiv.,
 STARKE, Eintheilung
und Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt Armee unter Feld-Marschall Fürst Schwarzenburg
im Monate Januar (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30).
Nos. 21055 and 21056.
 Victor to the Chief of
Staff, Strasbourg, 3 January, 8 o'clock in the morning. --Victor added
in this dispatch: "I think that the troops of the 2nd and 5th Corps
of Cavalry, who are in the valley of Colmar, will reunite today in Molsheim,
and that early tomorrow we will be on the heights Saverne, where it is possible
that the enemy have preceded us, because it is less far for them to go than
us. (Archives of the Depot of the War.)
 It was here, in fact,
that Grouchy wrote to General Milhaud, 5 January, at 8 o'clock in the morning: "The
enemy occupy Saverne (a). The Marshal retires by Mutzig, Urmatt
and Wisches. The 5th Cavalry Corps is established in the rear of Framont;
the light cavalry remains at Schirmeck, pushing a few parties on the road towards
Senones, to receive news of the enemy and whether it has appeared on that side." (Archives
of the Depot of the War.)
(a), P.S. Here is a mistake committed by Victor and Grouchy. Saverne
still remained occupied at that time by the French cavalry, and it was not
until the 7th in the morning that the courier of Pahlen made its entrance
to Saverne. The French only evacuated there on the night of the 6th to
7th of January.
 Prince of Schwarzenberg,
to General-in-Chief Count Wittgenstein. --Altkirch, 5 January, 1814: "To
provide as quickly as possible to Y. E.'s lack the cavalry, I commanded the
Major General Seslavin taken away from Colmar for rejoining with Your Excellency." (K.
K. Kriegs Archiv. I. 84.)
 Schwarzenberg shows such
little understanding of the situation in the bizarre orders of which we shall
speak and in the marching of Wrede on Sélestat, that he thought fit
to recommend the following:
Schwarzenberg to Wrede. --Altkirch, 4 January, 1814.
"…..It would be nice to see you attack the cavalry you have before
you. Crushing it and spreading a little terror on your side." (K.
K. Kriegs Archiv. 1/66 C.);
At the same time he thought necessary to inform and reassure the Crown Prince
of Württemberg, who he wrote: "You're covered on your front by the
Prince Scherbatov, on the left by the IIIrd Corps, which will be in Vesoul
the 9th. Your communications with General Count von Wrede will
be provided on the right by the flying corps."
(K. K. Kriegs Archiv., 1 / 66 B.)
 Grouchy to the Chief
of Staff. --Baccarat,
"Attacked on three points in Colmar, we
have withdrawn in good order, without losses, and the enemy followed us only
up to the heights of Guémar. From that point to the position
occupied by the 5th Corps of Cavalry, the enemy has no longer shown
itself. One of his columns was moved by the road along the Rhine in
the direction of Strasbourg. The other columns debouched at the Vosges
by the roads from Ste-Marie-aux-Mines and Bonhomme. The Guards of Honor were
yesterday the 5th, in front of Saverne, having before them the Russian
light cavalry. If they are strongly pushed, they have the orders from
the Duke of Bellune to redeploy at Phalsbourg, and route to Nancy…The
total number of effectives in the 5th Cavalry Corps is in the neighborhood
of 3,000 horse." (Depot of the War.)
This shows that while the Allies were losing contact
with Milhaud's cavalry, this cavalry managed however without compromise and
without revealing its presence, to keep abreast of the movements of the columns
of the Allies. The fact we felt the pain of being reported.
 K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I. 73.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: March 2011
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