The Campaign of 1814: Chapter Two 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.
Movements of other corps and orders of Schwarzenberg. --In
the middle and the left wing, the IInd and IIIrd Corps did not
move further, and the Ist Corps went to Porrentruy from Delle, again
leaving in the valley of the Doubs at Clerval and Pont-de-Roide the light division
of Ignatius Hardegg, which constantly patrolled the evacuation of Baume-les-Dames
and the presence of some French horsemen on the Mamirolle side, east of Besançon. Finally,
two of the four divisions of the Austrian reserves arrived at Pontarlier.
While the troops of the Army of Bohemia remained inactive on the
4th, instead, it had been very busy at the General Headquarters at Altkirch;
orders abounded and rained on all sides. In reality,
it is difficult to understand what needs they met, and what reasons had
led Schwarzenberg to decide to send Wrede to invest Sélestat (Schlestadt),
to keep until the 6th the IVth Corps in front of Neuf-Brisach,
which was being relieved that day by part of the Vth Corps, only
for it to begin until later its movement on Remiremont, while the IIIrd Corps
received orders to leave Montbéliard the 6th, and to move
by Vesoul on Langres. To complement these measures, the Ist Corps
was to come with Schwarzenberg to Montbéliard, and on the extreme
left, the Crown Prince of Hesse-Homburg was responsible for investing
and bombarding Besançon January 9th.
Finally, although he had so far no struggle to support, although each of his
corps was equipped with a respectable number of squadrons, although he had
time and ease to determine in advance the composition and operation of his
columns, Schwarzenberg was already having thoughts to bring from the rear a
cavalry that moreover, never should have been there, because it did not and
could not be used for anything. He wrote, in fact, Barclay de Tolly, "As
I have currently no cavalry in front of me, I should take to support the
light division of Crenneville a division of Russian cuirassiers, which you
should direct to go, 8 January, from Montreux to Novillard; the 9th by
Vézelois, Meroux, Sevenans, Botans, Bavilliers, Essert, to Frahier;
the10th, to Lure; the 11th, to Vesoul, where it will encamp. A
regiment of Cossacks will go to Montbéliard, where my headquarters will
Finally, to monitor the Meuse Valley and to learn about the movements
of the enemy, I intend to send the Ataman Count Platoff, the 9th,
from Épinal on Neufchâteau so that, together with Prince
Scherbatov, he maintains, on the side of Langres and of Chaumont, communications
with the troops who will be moved forward."
The vigorous and energetic offensive, which Schwarzenberg was
always talking about in his orders, therefore, was to give an absolutely
illogical direction to Wrede, to leave the VIth Corps (as was said
at headquarters) to take its time marching to the left bank, to repair
the works in the ruins of Fort Vauban and organize a strong foothold
at Fort Alsace; on the other hand, he was blockading Huningue, Neuf-Brisach,
Schlestadt, Besançon, and for this reason he maintained, the Russian
and Prussian reserve very far back, just when they should have been closing
together with the corps of the first line at all cost and marching quickly
and decisively forward. And yet, precisely because of the fear
inspired by an opponent who was expected to appear anywhere at any time,
by an opponent that a few days later, on 7 January was
even believed to have arrived at Langres, at the head of an army of 80,000
men, he should have been primarily avoiding the dissipation of his forces.
One should have avoided wasting precious time and irreparable
harm to conquer Alsace, where there wasn't anyone; but on the contrary,
should have hasten to assemble 120,000 to 150,000 men at a given point,
Langres, for example, finally, to be in the first ten days of January,
as able as one could, moreover, to crush the enemy under the weight of
these masses that nothing, especially the formations just outlined, could
News of Blücher. --Schwarzenberg
had just sent these various orders when he learned of Blücher crossing
the Rhine with the Army of Silesia and the commencement of the execution
of the movement towards the Saar. It seems it would have been natural
at this time to change orders, to accelerate the progress of various
columns and primarily move the VIth Corps, which formed the right
of the Army of Bohemia, resolutely forward. Schwarzenberg preferred
to write for Blücher to inform him of his own situation and tell
him covertly that he would make a final resolution "when the Army
of Silesia had arrived in Nancy."
5 January. --Movements of the VIth Corps. --So
the day of 5th presented for the same reason little more of interest
than the previous day. Regarding the VIth Corps, all that
happened was the occupation by General Rüdinger of La Wantzenau
that the French evacuated after a skirmish against the Cossacks, to fall
back on Hohenheim.
The patrols, pushed forward on the road of Haguenau to Bitche, came up
to Reichshoffen. There they learned that the 3rd Regiment
of Guards of Honor, after appearing the prior day in this village, on hearing
of the news of the occupation of Haguenau, fell back in the evening by Bouxwiller
on Saverne. The partisans, sent from Brumath near Mutzig and the valley
the Bruche, seeking to communicate with General Seslavin, were pulled
with the French outposts to the side of Marlenheim. Finally, on the basis
of information collected on the side of Lauterbourg, one came to know that
Marmont fell back from Pirmasens to Bitche.
Measures taken by the Crown Prince of Württemberg for
the crossing of the Vosges. --The Vth Corps
investing Sélestat, sent a brigade of the division to La Motte
to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines and relieved in Neuf- Brisach the Württembergers
scheduled to begin their movement the next day and that the Generalissimo
had reinforced with the Austrian brigade of Schäffer and the Archduke
Charles Ferdinand Hussar Regiment (n. 2). The headquarters of the
Crown Prince moved to Ober-Bergheim, where the Prince sent Schwarzenberg
the report in which he communicated the measures he took for the march
the next day:
"Crown Prince of Württemberg to Schwarzenberg. Ober-Bergheim,
5 January, 1814.
Tonight I received the orders of Your Highness, and I will march
tomorrow on Remiremont. The head of my column will seek to reach
this point before that date, so that my cavalry is not forced to stay
longer than necessary in such an inhospitable region as the Vosges.
To stay in communication and liaison with General Count Wrede,
I will send parties to my right and I will ask Count Wrede to do the
same on his side.
My headquarters will be at Cernay tomorrow."
The Generalissimo, while approving the proposals of the Crown
Prince relative to cavalry, however, suggested to leave as little time
as possible without infantry, because he feared it might be stopped by
a small rear guard of the enemy taking advantage of the uneven and difficult
terrain of these regions.
Schwarzenberg advised at the same time the Crown Prince of General
Scherbatov and how that general officer had moreover anticipating
this, was forced to evacuate Remiremont to an approaching 600 infantry
and 500 enemy cavalry.
Scherbatov returned from Remiremont. --The
advice of Schwarzenberg was not entirely useless, since, as shown by
the letter of the Chief of Staff of the IVth Corps to Scherbatov,
the bulk of this corps should, according to the plans of the Crown Prince,
arrive four days later in Remirernont.
Scherbatov did not, however, remained inactive, and even on the
5th, taking advantage of some Allied troops that had occupied the
defiles of Bussang; reassured of his rear, and almost certain now to
be able, in case of failure, to fall back on this support, he again debouched
in the day on Remiremont that he had occupied.
Combat of Arches. --It is from the
report that he wrote in French to Schwarzenberg, from Arches,
on the night of January 5 to 6, that we extract the following:
Report of Prince Scherbatov to Schwarzenberg (the original
in French). --Arches, 6 January, 1814, midnight.
"The troops of Württemberg having
come yesterday to occupy the passes of Bussang, I again debouched on Remiremont.
I crossed the city and I moved to just up to Arches, at 2 o'clock
to Épinal. Before arriving there, my vanguard encountered
an enemy patrol which led there a detachment of 400 horses. Lieutenant-Colonel
Nazaroff, regimental commander of the Cossacks of the Urals, attacked,
supported by 150 Cossacks of Tepter, crushed it and drove it out of
town about a quarter of a mile.
The night came and 100 infantry were lying in the bushes having
protected the flight of their cavalry. Besides
many killed, there were 12 prisoners. Our only loss was a subaltern and two Cossacks wounded,
five horses killed and 11 wounded. Among the prisoners there
were two totally new draftees inducted in Lyonnais. I let
these two conscripts return to their home as they say that the Allies
do not come to make war with the French, they want no harm to any
inhabitants, but they come to bring back peace and tranquility
for the happiness of the French nation.
These people have no ill will to serve, and I hope that returning
them will change the opinion that the government seeks to sow in
the minds of the bourgeois and the peasant.
There may be about 4,000 infantry at Épinal, because
between Épinal and Nancy there are three large encampments.
Tomorrow I will attack at daybreak, and will take possession
of the city, if I find the opportunity.
A Spanish lieutenant named Torres, who was a prisoner in Nancy,
having learned of the approach of Allied troops, has found a way to
escape and came to report to me. The news he gave me, is that
there are at Metz 30,000 conscripts of whom 15,000 will be sent
to Brussels. Every day new ones came, the best were chosen, they
were placed in the Young Guard and shipped to the coast of Holland. All
the depots surrounding Metz come together there and counting all the
troops for conscription, there are definitely 25,000 counted.
The cavalry depots are the largest object of concern.
The headquarters of the army and that of the Emperor are at
Metz. He is expected, but has not come.
In Nancy the garrison is from 1000 to 1500 men. Among
the troops stationed between Nancy and Épinal is the Guard…
Oudinot is disgraced for daring to say that there was no way
to wage war and that he could not command a corps composed of weak
and undisciplined children. . .
... The citizens are very dissatisfied with the government and
want a change…It is certain that they absolutely lack
The prisoners I think they're happy because they say they will not
Movements of Platoff and of Thurn. --Meanwhile
Platoff was marching on the Vosges: he was to be at Saint-Weiler the 6th,
the 7th in Saulxures and the 9th at Épinal.
He was ordered to connect with Scherbatov on his right and his left
with the Austrian columns destined to march by Vesoul on Langres. Thurn,
always around Vesoul, continued to monitor the roads of Besançon,
Gray, Port-sur-Saône and Luxeuil, while at the extreme left Scheither
was ordered to occupy Ornans.
The movements performed during that day by the IIIrd, IInd and
Ist Corps and by the Austrian reserves, are so insignificant that
they do not even deserve to be mentioned.
Position of Victor. --Upon learning
of the crossing of the Rhine by the Allies and the movement that discovered
his right, Victor, as we have said, abandoned the defense of the river,
leaving an infantry brigade of the division of Duhesme there under the
command of General Milhaud, with the cavalry division of General L'héritier,
which instead of moving by Molsheim on Saverne, had to withdraw through
the valley of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. He himself, with the rest
of his troops (Gérard Division, a brigade of the division of Duhesme
and the cavalry division of General Briche), marched by Mutzig on Raon-l'Étape,
the point where he had directed the light cavalry division of General
Orders of the Emperor to Mortier. --Until
this time, moreover, the Emperor had not changed the direction of reinforcements
on the march. However, on December 24, he had ordered Mortier to
go from Namur to Reims. The Marshal found, January 3, himself immediately
ordered to continue on Chaumont and on Langres with his infantry division
of the Old Guard, 5 to 6 artillery batteries and the cavalry division
of the Guard. The proposed motion by Victor had intended (the orders
he gave to Milhaud, and that he could also go, evidenced) to post in
Saverne, to hold until the arrival of Marmont had displeased the Emperor
who instructed the Chief of Staff to express his discontent.
Orders to Victor intercepted by the Cossacks. --A
dispatch addressed to Victor through Kellermann, was intercepted by the
Cossacks on the side of Mutzig, on the night of January 7 to 8. It
was as follows:
"The Marshal Duke of Valmy, to H. E. Marshal
Duke of Bellune, commanding the 2nd Corps.
My dear Marshal, I informed H. M. the Emperor of the content of
the dispatch that you sent to the Commandant of Phalsbourg, and that
you had charged me with.
The Emperor replied by dispatch dated today from Paris:
It was not on the heights of Saverne that the Duke of Bellune
was directed, but on Épinal. If he is already on the side
of Saverne, order him to move on Nancy.
I hasten to send you this dispatch, my dear Marshal, and tell
you that the first division of the Young Guard and the troops gathered
for the 4th Division is between Nancy and Charmes, with two
batteries, ready to stand on Épinal, if the enemy's cavalry
in the Vosges it is not supported by infantry.
P.S. The Duke of Raguse was yesterday at Homburg near Deux-Ponts
and General Ricard at Ottweiler, with the 8th and 32nd Divisions."
This dispatch would have naturally been more
valuable to the Allies, if it had been intercepted on the 6th. At
this moment, in fact, they had not yet been able to reestablish contact;
but the taking of this dispatch was, though somewhat belatedly, advantageous
in positively establishing some directions that Victor had followed. It
also allowed them to assume that the Marshal, once reaching the other side
of the mountains, would again be informed of the Emperor's orders to seek
and win the important point of Épinal, a node for routes from Switzerland,
crossing the Vosges mountains. A corps posted at Épinal would
occupy, in fact, a central position, where it would have been much easier
to prevent the heads of Allied columns debouching into the valley of the
Moselle, it would not have to worry about its rear covered by the troops
that Ney was uniting at Nancy, who seemed destined to take part in operations
in a short time.
The recommendations, Schwarzenberg had made the same day to the
Crown Prince of Württemberg on the employment of his cavalry, were
After committing the mistakes that we have just mentioned. Victor
did not even know how to fix them. Instead of acting aggressively
using every means possible against the Allies, he dealt them timid blows
and made the more serious mistake of spreading thin his already very
inconsiderable forces and operating in small units. Such a mode
could only lead to useful results (to the Allies), and if it did not
have more fatal and more serious consequences, we must seek the reason,
not in actions taken by the Duke of Bellune, but in the looseness of
the Allied operations, the uncertainties of the higher command, fragmentation
and sequencing of different corps, and especially the poor job one did
with a cavalry large enough to penetrate the weak curtain stretched before
it, and not follow the marching and moving columns of French infantry.
6 January, 1814. --Information provided by the cavalry
of the VIth Corps. --The information transmitted
in the day of the 6th to Wittgenstein by his cavalry, showed him
that Marshal Marmont was not, as we had noted on the previous day, currently
concentrating in Bitche. The parties sent from Brumath by the valley
of the Bruche, had again come to Marlenheim, not far from Wasselonne,
against a party of French cavalry, from whom they had taken a dozen men,
but who prevented them from expanding their reconnaissance further. More
to the right, the Colonel Selifontov had by Spires, open communications
with Sacken. Wittgenstein had, however, received direct news informing
him of the positions occupied by the Army of Silesia on the 4th. The
Lieutenant Colonel Nabel had, meanwhile, sent couriers who pushed up
to the walls of Landau and Bitche. They told him
that the garrison of Landau consisted only of National Guard, while Bitche
was guarded by some invalids. It was already known that the French had evacuated Hochfelden the
evening of the 6th, falling back by Dettwiller on Saverne, and
that General Count de Ségur, after having united his two regiments
of Guards of Honor, had continued his retreat towards Sarrebourg. The
headquarters of Wittgenstein was still at Rastatt, and his extreme outposts
did not exceed a line from Haguenau to Wissembourg and Spire.
Movements of the Vth Corps. --As
for the Vth Corps it was linked by two squadrons of the Schwarzenberg
Uhlans sent from Benfeld on Molsheim with General Rüdinger, the
vanguard of the VIth Corps. The
Austrian general Volkmann had completed the investment of Sélestat and
thrown out the garrison in the town; the Bavarian brigade of Maillot
had relieved the Württembergers in Neuf-Brisach; Colonel Scheibler
had driven 200 dismounted French hussars to Boofzheim, which barely
had time to jump in Sélestat;
and the brigade of Deroy, joining the other brigade of the division
to La Motte near Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines had occupied the neck and the
passage leading from beside Alsace-Lorraine.
In addition, it was already known at the headquarters of Wrede
that Victor fell back from Strasbourg on the Vosges, and Milhaud,
with his dragoons, had retired on Saint-Dié.
Movement of the IVth Corps towards the Vosges. --The
IVth Corps had begun its movement towards the Vosges. At Cernay,
where it arrived on the 6th in the morning, the Crown Prince of Württemberg
wrote to Schwarzenberg to tell him he had been joined by a squadron of
the Archduke Ferdinand Charles Hussar Regiment (n. 2), and ask him to send
the 2nd Squadron as soon as possible, to be able to direct these
two squadrons the 9th, or at the latest the 10th, on Luxeuil. The
intention of the Crown Prince was to stay a few days around Remiremont,
and, unless given formal orders sending him on Épinal, to push quickly
on Lunéville and Nancy. The Prince added in this report, that
to cover Wrede, he sent towards Saint-Dié and Bruyères parties
with whom he could link with Pouxeux. Finally, as he had just been
informed of the arrival of Platoff in Thann, it was not without reason,
as noted, so as not to exhaust the country already highly depleted, he
suggested it would be good to assign the cavalrymen of the Ataman another
route than that assigned to the IVth Corps for the passage of the
In front of the Württembergers, General Prince Scherbatov still
scoured the country between Pouxeux and Arches. The reports he sent to
headquarters and Barclay de Tolly, reports in which he indicated the presence
of French troops at
Épinal, had resulted in the order given to Platoff, who arrived that
day only up to Thann, having to move rapidly forward to support Scherbatov
and help take Épinal.
The IIIrd Corps ordered to march to Vesoul. --Far
to the left, Schwarzenberg, recognizing the need to occupy as soon as possible
Vesoul and only having on this side the small flying corps of Lieutenant
Colonel Count Thurn, sent from Montbéliard, where he had transferred
his headquarters, Count Gyulay orders to accelerate the march of his corps
(IIIrd) to be at Vesoul, instead of the 9th, the 8th,
at least with the head of his columns. He
advised him to have cover on his right to his arrival in Remiremont by
Crown Prince of Württemberg, with whom he would have to connect. The
vanguard of the IIIrd Corps arrived the 6th at Villersexel,
the main body at Vellechevreux, the division of Crenneville at Ronchamp. He
also gave the order for this last division to be the 7th instead
of 8th, at Port-sur-Saône, which
Thurn, as shown in the following report, had taken the night of the 5th to
Surprise of Port-sur-Saône by the flying corps of Thurn. --"Lieutenant-Colonel
Count Thurn to Prince Schwarzenberg. --Vesoul, 6 January 1814, 5
o'clock at night:
I have the honor to inform Your Highness that I surprised
and held last night, Port-sur-Saône: I took some conscripts.
My patrols scour the country side of Combeaufontaine, on the
road to Gray, to Grandvelle, that of Besançon and that of
Villersexel. On the right, I am clear and covered by flanking patrols
by Faverney and Luxeuil.
I leave here tonight to move on the Department of Haute-Marne in
the direction of Langres, because I learned just now that the division
of Crenneville has Lure.
I will send tomorrow to Your Highness the English and Spanish prisoners
of war that I have released.
I would respectfully submit to Your Highness that the requisitions
of any kind, which involves striking the country folks, alienates the minds
of people who, in large part, were favorably disposed towards us.
I convey to Your Highness the letter I sent today from the Prefect,
and the response that I have made.
The cigar store I've taken here is valued at more than 100,000 francs.
My emissaries assured me that the Duke of Valmy is in Metz with
8,000 men, nearly all conscripts; the bulk of the enemy is moved on the
Brabant, another mass goes to Strasbourg and that 10,000 men of the Guard
are marching on Paris."
It is far, from the enthusiasm that we previously saw, which Thurn reported
so pompously in his first reports.
The people, amazed and surprised at first, did not take long, however,
to meet against the invaders and to make them pay dearly for its brutality,
its violence and its looting.
Movements of the Ist and IInd Corps. --As
for the Ist Corps, it was still in Montbéliard and Arcey,
but it detached on Héricourt the division of Wimpffen, that was
to support 9 January, by the right bank of the Doubs, the enterprise of
the Prince of Hesse-Homburg against Besançon. The IInd Corps,
which served the Prince as the advanced guard was at the Hôpital-du-Gros-Bois,
and the Austrian reserves advanced painfully up to about Villafans, Ornans
and Étalans. Prince Maurice of Liechtenstein, who took command of
the 2nd Light Division, covered the extreme left of the Prince of
To supplement the data on the Allied corps position to that date,
it should be pointed out that the cavalry of Bubna was master of the bridge
of Dole, the troops of that general were in Poligny and Salins, where he
received, on the 6th, the order to march on Lyon. Let us add,
finally, one of their brigades watched the Savoy, since the capture of
Arriving in Lunéville, Caulaincourt instructed to resume
negotiations. --It was also on 6 January that Caulaincourt,
appointed by the Emperor to resume and monitor the negotiations interrupted
for over a month, arrived at Lunéville, and asked Metternich for
the passport he needed to cross the outposts of the Allies. The same day,
Lord Castlereagh landed in Holland and continued his journey to join the
general headquarters of the Allies.
7 January. --The cavalry of the VIth Corps in Saverne. --The
7th in the morning the Russian outposts noticing that the French
had evacuated Saverne to fall back on
Phalsbourg, immediately occupied the town and preceded Pahlen, who immediately
pushed the parties to Sarrebourg and Phalsbourg.
The infantry of the VIth Corps began, too, its movement. A
brigade of the 4th Division (IInd Corps, commanded by Prince
Eugène of Württemberg) marched in support of the cavalrymen
of Pahlen, to Haguenau; the other brigade remained at Rœschwoog,
but the 3rd Infantry Division went in part to Fort Louis, on the
left bank, and Wittgenstein tried to link on the left by Benfeld and Mutzig,
with the right of Wrede. We had succeeded in removing the semaphore
towers of Haut-Bar, near Saverne, and Kochersberg near Willgottheim, cutting
and intercepting the aerial communications of the enemy.
Positions of the Vth Corps. --Affair
of Saint-Dié. --The Vth Corps remained in front
of the places it was investing with its outposts on the right, near Ziegelhutt;
in the center, in Benfeld; on the left, at the neck of Bonhomme, and in
front of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. Only the General Deroy, posted as
we have said in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, sent near Saint-Dié several
patrols that skirmished with French vedettes and brought the information
that Wrede transmitted to Schwarzenberg in the attached report below, a
report that only succeeded in reaching, moreover, the Generalissimo, in
Vesoul, the 14th:
"Wrede to Schwarzenberg, at Colmar, 8 January 1814.
I inform Your Highness that General Deroy, that I posted yesterday
near Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, has sent patrols to Saint-Dié. The
general has met the enemy in front of this city, has strongly attacked
and continued to beyond Saint-Dié. The taken
position consisted of 80 horses. He
learned in this way there was at Raon, under the command of General
Piré 3,000 infantrymen and cavalry, and Marshal Victor was at
Baccarat with 12,000 men.
I ordered General Deroy to enforce Saint-Dié and the road
to Saint-Dié by patrols, and to link by Bruyères with the
troops of the Crown Prince of Württemberg.
The cavalry that I sent to Molsheim informs me that it has linked
with the light troops of Wittgenstein
…I prayed the Prince of Württemberg sends Platoff,
not on Épinal, but by Bruyères on Rambervillers, and
from there, right on Lunéville.
In addition, I have ordered all my commanders to push out patrols to
obtain information. Meanwhile, I have been told by General Frimont of Colonel
Scheibler, having gone to Saverne."
Movements of the IVth Corps and Platoff. --The
vanguard of the IVth Corps was assigned to the two roads leading
to Wesserling from Remiremont. Two squadrons and 4 companies going
just up to Oderen and Felleringen. One squadron and 3 companies pushed
on the other road just up to Urbay and Mollau. The support established
itself at Wesserling and Saint-Amarin. The main body was at Willer. The
Crown Prince of Württemberg, both to cover his left and to connect
with the center of the Army of Bohemia, marching on Vesoul, and the corps
that invested Belfort, had sent a squadron of Archduke Ferdinand hussars
for Faucogney, Château-Lambert and Giromagny.
Platoff arrived the 6th at night in Thann, with 4,000 horses,
and had next continued his march on Épinal, by Saulxures and Éloyes.
In the forward positions occupied by the IVth Corps and the
other side of the Vosges, Scherbatov had continued to advance through the
Moselle valley without meeting any resistance and had occupied Épinal.
Movements of other corps. -- In the center,
the vanguard of Gyulay, the bulk of which had not gone past Villersexel,
arrived at Vesoul, and the division of Crenneville at Mollans. The
Ist Corps, still completely around Montbéliard, had merely
sent a few cavalry patrols near Besançon, while the IInd Corps
had crossed onto the right bank of the Doubs, in Baume-les-Dames, the
Archduke John Baptist Dragoon Regiment (n. 1), who had forced back the
French outposts at Roulans were seen far in the rear.
The Austrian reserves still continued as always with their same
methodical and same slow march to Besançon, and the Russian and
Prussian reserves of Barclay de Tolly still were going with their columns
from Basel, where they were finishing crossing the Rhine, just at Altkirch.
Schwarzenberg, adding credence to false information, changes
orders. --It was at that moment the headquarters
of Schwarzenberg received, unfortunately false news, but it arrived
in time to imprint a semblance of momentum for the march which had hitherto
been so drawn out, so uncertain and so hesitant an invasion . The
Generalissimo, on the basis of what was reported to him of the imminent
rally on the plateau of Langres of an army of 80,000 men, disturbed by
these reports which had, all things considered, the appearance of truth,
was now convinced that he would take away the hard-fought point as important
as the strategic plateau of Langres, decided to shake off the torpor in
which he had indulged. He took immediate steps to throw on this side
considerable forces and amass the columns he had turned so far in the most
diverse directions, he had left to march in place and which, while always
remembering to concentrate on the plateau of the Morvan, he had sent from
Basel in a divergent movement to the left, consuming time, not to mention
the corps for blockading Besançon, Baume-les-Dames. As we
have remarked more than once again during the course of this campaign,
we pass suddenly and without cause, from the most absolute confidence to
the deepest concern, from the most complete serenity to the most unreasoning
terror. This time too, we find the headquarters had more or less
plausible excuses to justify the perfectly logical and rational movements
in themselves, movements that would have, moreover, if executed earlier,
would not have had, at certain times, affected, or at least appeared to
affect the entourage of Schwarzenberg a sovereign with contempt for the
eternally true and immutable principles of warfare. So apparently
because Victor, Milhaud and Piré evacuated the Rhine Valley, but
in reality because one thought that one would have to make a superhuman
effort to take the position of Langres, still almost unoccupied, we finally
recognized that it was time to give Wittgenstein and Wrede a destination
a little more in line with the forces at their disposal that one had stopped
then just before Kehl, across from Strasbourg, under Sélestat, Neuf-Brisach
For the same reason it occurs to the general headquarters of the Allies
to find that Bianchi has something else to do but sit in observation before
Belfort. But, although one appears to believe in the presence or the
impending arrival of a considerable force to Langres, it is well known that
there are no more enemies in the Rhine Valley, instead of merely contending
for towns defended by conscripts, National Guard or the disabled, one does
not resolve to act forcefully, still preferring half-measures to a vigorous
offensive. Schwarzenberg gave the order to move forward, but before
one could begin the movement, he weakens the corps of his lieutenants by
imposing the obligation to give back a considerable part of their forces. So
that instead of resolutely marching the entire VIth Corps, he requires
Wittgenstein to keep before Strasbourg and Kehl, the forces necessary to blockade these
towns seats and heads for the Champagne with the rest of his corps, forming
the right of the main army until the arrival of the troops being brought
by the Count William von Hochberg (Margrave William of Baden). It was
the same for Wrede; he was required to leave 8,000 men at Sélestat,
Neuf-Brisach and Huningue, and therefore, could only set out with about 30,000
The IVth Corps would not be weakened by detachments, and the Crown
Prince of Württemberg, who had expressed an intention to stay a few
days around Remiremont would receive orders there to a halt for twenty-four
hours and to march to his left by Bains and Jussey coming to a junction with
the center to the north-west of Vesoul, on the side of Fayl-Billot.
The Ist and IIIrd Corps must be in position the 10th at
the latest on the banks of the Saône on a line from Seveux to Port-sur-Saône;
they will be backed by the reserves of Barclay de Tolly, in echelon from
Besançon and Vesoul; but however, Bianchi will leave the vicinity
of Belfort in two echelons. He was prescribed to leave two of his brigades
at Vesoul until they were relieved by the Russian troops of General Rayevsky,
but to remain in Belfort with the third for the duration of the bombardment. It
only had to remain with the Russians for the blockade if the bombardment
was not effective.
The Allies, moreover, brought such a caution in their enterprise, that the
same day again, Schwarzenberg prescribed establishing strong bridgeheads
on the Rhine, at Märkt and Rheinweiller. It is, moreover, because he
would not cease, during the entire duration of the campaign, to have fears
for his left, mostly imaginary, because he constantly shook his rear, that
we see Schwarzenberg send off at any moment the troops he could have used
more advantageously in the existing principle theater of operations.
Finally, although thirty-six hours earlier they had given strict orders to
Bubna to proceed without delay to Lyon, he thought it was prudent to stop
him, and he was told of having to report through Dole, Auxonne and Dijon.
The same day from Blücher's headquarters at Kusel, a report was sent
to Schwarzenberg on movements of the Army of Silesia since the Rhine crossing,
but this letter did not come into Wrede's hand until the 14th, who
immediately forwarded to the General in Chief.
K. Kriegs Archiv., 1/66 A.
 BERNHARDI, Toll
Denkwürdigkeiten, IV, 164.
It is essential to consider that it was only due to the receipt of false
news, that Schwarzenberg modified the orders of the 4th, and recalled
Wittgenstein and Wrede to him, that it is plausible that without it, he would
have launched into the Alsace long before.
K. Kriegs Archiv. ad, I. 81.
K. Kriegs Archiv., I. 81.
Count Baillet de La Tour to General Prince Scherbatov, Ober-Bergheim, 5 January,
1814 (the original in French):
"In ordering H. R. H. Crown Prince of Württemberg to cover Remiremont
with his corps, H. H. Marshal Prince tells him that you are responsible for covering
I will not be remiss in relating to you, my Prince, and telling you that today
Thann was occupied by a Württemberg battalion that tomorrow will move to
Bussang to serve you in case of a retreat as you see necessary.
The Crown Prince, however, trusts that you can hold the road to Remiremont until
about the 9th , the day when the head of the corps will follow.
Captain Nagel, who goes before us with a squadron is responsible for gathering
food and fodder for the corps.
The Crown Prince desires, my Prince, in order to facilitate this task, you try
to get food and forage needed by your corps, around Plombières and Épinal. He
also hopes that you'll want to provide any reports that you can get on the strength
and movements of the enemy."
(K. K. Kriegs Archiv. I., 121, G.)
Since we have spoken of the Count de La Tour, we thought it was interesting
to reproduce the letter below. It is clear that when entering France
the headquarters of the Allies did not have maps and, what is even stranger
is that Colonel de La Tour submitting the case to the Generalissimo and having
asked permission to give the Lieutenant-Colonel Count Thurn the order to
hold the map mentioned below, Schwarzenberg was responding (Part I. 124, Kriegs
Archiv.) that he should leave Thurn the maps as this officer had more
need than any other.
Louise Fries to Colonel Count de La Tour. --Montbéliard, January
"Sir, I have just received, by a courier, the letter which you kindly
sent to my husband, and in which you ask for the national atlas of France.
I am very sorry for not being able to fulfill your request, having already
delivered it to the Count of Zettritz, who was sent by the Count Thurn. I
could not even give you any other map, my husband had purposely gone to Basel
to search there in our city and to give homage to Prince Schwarzenberg. He went back that night.
I have the honor, sir, to greet you with a perfect consideration." (K.
K. Kriegs Archiv. I., 124, D.
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,
of the cavalry of Pahlen, according to the status report of 4 January,
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.)
 K. K. Kriegs Archiv
 In the margin of this document (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I,
117), is found the following note made by the headquarters of Schwarzenberg
and used to the answer items to Thurn:
., I. 118.
 The Emperor Napoleon to the Prince of Neuchâtel and Wagram, Chief
of Staff, in Paris. --Paris, 6 January 1814.
"My cousin, make it
known to the Duke of Bellune my displeasure that, at Colmar, he moved his
corps onto the heights of Saverne, exposing all the Vosges and uncovering Épinal;
that he was much more convenient at Colmar than moving to the neck of Épinal;
that the neck of Saverne is guarded by the town of Phalsbourg while, at Épinal,
Nancy is completely uncovered.
If he is already on the side
of Saverne, give him orders to file around on Nancy.
Order the Prince of Moskowa
to leave during the day to go to Nancy and take command of the division of
the Young Guard and the troops who are on this side, to guard Nancy, finally
to retake Épinal, which is only occupied by a cavalry, and that he contain
the enemy on that side."
 K. K. Kriegs Archiv.,
I, 205 c.
 Tagebuch of Major Prince Taxis
(K. K. Kriegs Archiv., XIII, 32), and STÄRKE, Eintheilung and
Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-armee (Ibid., I, 30).
 At the grand headquarters, we had knowledge of the movement of Victor
on Lunéville and knew he wanted to connect, in the Moselle Valley, with
the cavalry of Milhaud and of Piré. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I,
 The advanced guard of the IVth Corps occupied on January
6 the following positions: two squadrons of the regiment of Duke Louis
(Herzog Lüdwig Jäger zu Pferd Regiment
n. 2) in Thann, a squadron at Uffholtz, a horse battery at Wattwiller,
with a battalion of infantry, a battalion at Berrwiller and another at Hartmannswiller.
 Barclay de Tolly to Schwarzenberg. --Basel, 6 January, 1814. (Provisions
it takes to remove Épinal.)
Scherbatov informs me that in Épinal, a town to which Ataman Count Platoff
goes, there are enemy troops in respectable force.
I, therefore, required Count
Platoff to consult with the Prince Scherbatov to chase the enemy with him
to Épinal, to leave a correspondingly strong enough position, to recommend
to the Prince Scherbatov, to which he shall first give two cannons, to march
from there on Nancy and to maintain constant contact on the right with the
The Count Platoff will move,
in turn, on Neufchâteau and remain in communication with Scherbatov on the
right, on left with the Austrian corps stationed in Vesoul.
I also specified to the generals
Platoff and Scherbatov to keep me aware of their movements day by day in
order to assign alternative directions, according to the orders I receive
from Your Highness." (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 113.)
 Schwarzenberg to Gyulay. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 110.)
 Schwarzenberg to Bianchi (who blockaded Belfort at that time). (K.
K. Kriegs Archiv. Ad., I, 110.)
"I received your reports of 4 and 6 January. Regarding the
Prefect of Haute-Saône, handle carefully and send him under escort to
me at my headquarters, which will be the 9th at Arcey, the
10th at Villersexel, the 11th at Vesoul.
 Count Thurn in 1814, was a lieutenant-colonel in the Austrian regiment
of Palatinate Hussars.
The presence of the riders of Thurn at Combeaufontaine, and even
his projects up to Langres, were known to the French as the Commandant
Gerbaux, aide to Secretary of War, writing to him said, from Langres,
6 January at 8:30 in the evening: "The enemy has a small post at
Combeaufontaine; one awaits this evening 150 horse at Cintrey, and it
is said he wants to do a reconnaissance of Langres." (Depot of
the same time when the French cavalry had to evacuate Saverne, Grouchy
prescribed to Ségur, in case he was pushed by the enemy, to fall
back on Phalsbourg, Sarrebourg and finally Héming, at branching of the
Strasbourg road to Metz and to Nancy, and in case he had to abandon Héming,
to withdraw by the Nancy road, but to do so as late as possible. Grouchy
added: "We are still in Raon-l'Étape and Baccarat. We will not make any
movement today or probably not tomorrow. (Archives
of Depot of the War.)
 K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30.
 K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 165.
 Crown Prince of Württemberg, Wesserling, 7 January, to Schwarzenberg
(K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 137), and daily report to the Emperor
of Austria. (Ibid., I, 130.)
 General Prince Scherbatov to Schwarzenberg (the original in French):
"Épinal, 7 January,
I have the honor to announce
to Y. H. I now occupy Épinal.
Still at Remiremont I sent
a party to my left on Plombières and Fontenois (Fontenoy-le-Château) at the
request of Lieutenant-Colonel La Tour (a). The party returned without
having discovered it; I could not push on Langres, given the excessive remoteness.
Today I again sent a strong
party to my right to Rappoltsweiler (Ribeauvillé) towards Schlestadt (Sélestat)
to the find the Bavarian Corps and Colonel Scheibler, who must move there,
as General Toll informed me.
I am obliged tomorrow to
await the return of this detachment, which may not return in the afternoon,
because of the distance from here to Rappoltsweiler (Ribeauvillé).
The rear guard of the enemy
is in Charmes, at three leagues from Épinal (b). My patrols have
already been there." (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 166.)
(a) He speaks here about Lieutenant Colonel Thurn. (b)
There are more than 3 miles from Épinal to Charmes.
 K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30.
 This bizarre order seems to have had no a special reason. It was
hoped that the bombarded Belfort would capitulate, and one is led to
believe at least, that this place should surrender to the Austrian troops.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: March 2011
[ Military Index | Battles Index ]