The Campaign of 1814: Chapter Two Part V
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.
January 10. --The right of the VIth Corps
connects the side of Phalsbourg with a part of the Army of Silesia. --Wittgenstein
continued to remain in place, not daring to continue his march before he
could recall all his infantry to him, and fearing perhaps to be harassed
in his rear as he would not first become master of Phalsbourg and camped
then at the Petite Pierre and Lichtenberg. He was content the 10th,
to profit from the arrival of five Baden battalions with 10 cannons, to operate
against Phalsbourg and the Petite Pierre and cut off near Lutzelbourg
the only flow of drinking water to the first of these places.
He also instructed the General Schachafskoy to blockade Landau
giving him some of the troops of Colonel Selifontov and Lieutenant
A squadron of Olviopol Hussars were sent around Phalsbourg from
Lutzelbourg verified the rumors that had spread on the presence of the
French cavalry at Mittelbronn were well founded. The hussars found
no one at Mittelbronn but they learned, however, that some French squadrons
from Phalsbourg had crossed the village, visiting Sarrebourg, the city
that the cavalry had, moreover, quickly evacuated.
The VIth Corps linked up again by its right that day with
the cavalry in the vanguard of General Lanskoy who had been from the 8th at
Blieskastel. The party who communicated with the side of the corps had
left Neunkirchen the 9th in the morning by order of General Karpov
(II), who commanded the outposts of the corps of Sacken (Army of Silesia) and
passing through Rimling and Drulingen, had pushed up to Phalsbourg.
Before Strasbourg, two squadrons of the 2nd Baden Regiment
were at Stutzheim, watching the entrance of Saverne, the other two at Oberschæffolsheim
and Wolfisheim. Watching the pass of Blanche, they were also in Holtzheim
and Lingolsheim, with a party responsible for covering the roads of Colmar
Finally, Pahlen was ordered to march on Lunéville, and in
the end to be able to hold it, Prince Eugene of Württemberg had
prescribed him to bring the 4th Infantry Division at Hochfelden.
and the 3rd in Haguenau.
Movement of the Vth Corps and Victor to Saint-Dié.
--Battle of Saint-Dié. --While Wrede,
knowing the futility of the presence of his forces in Alsace, advocated
all measures to bring them as quickly as possible to the other side of
the Vosges, sent General de La Motte to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines and prescribed
General Deroy to solidly occupy Saint-Dié; Victor had, for his
part, given to General Duhesme orders to begin a march on the 10th in
the morning to proceed to Saint-Dié and to attack the enemy: "The
attack on Saint-Dié"
added the Duke of Bellune, "must be sharp and bold."
The Bavarians had driven, by the morning of the 10th, before
Saint-Dié, touching it with the advanced guard, composed of half
a squadron of light-horse of the 5th Regiment (Leiningen), of 30
Cossacks and an infantry company that came upon the head of the French
column. The Bavarians, repulsed, crossed Saint-Dié, and followed
by the French cavalry, sought to stay in Sainte-Marguerite, where they
were chased by the horsemen of Piré, supported by two battalions. But
just when Piré entered Sainte-Marguerite,
General Deroy deployed his brigade not far from the village and took immediate
steps to prevent the French to debouch and take the village before they
had the time to establish themselves firmly and gain support from the rest
of the infantry of Duhesme. Although General Deroy had been wounded
at the moment he launched his attack columns against Sainte-Marguerite,
having to surrender his command to Colonel von Treuberg, Piré could
not succeed in remaining at this point and withdrew under a most violent
fire back on Saint-Dié, where Duhesme had kept the bulk of its troops. The
cavalry of Piré, though exposed to a deadly fusillade and artillery
fire of the Bavarians, kept a good front, withdrawing step by step on Saint-Dié,
covering its retirement with infantry.
The Bavarian infantry continued to advance under the protection
of well-directed fire from its artillery, attacking Saint-Dié both
in front and left, managing to seize it with little difficulty as the ill
served artillery of Duhesme did no harm to its columns of attack. The
Bavarians immediately occupied Saint-Dié, and Duhesme first withdrew
to Saint-Michel, and from there on the morning of the 11th on Rambervillers. Colonel
von Treuberg who after the capture of Saint-Dié, was joined by General
Habermann, who General de la Motte on the first news of the battle, had
pushed forward with two battalions, two squadrons and four pieces of artillery,
daring not engage in the gorges after the French; produced only a few troops
on the two roads of Rambervillers and Roan-l'Étape and
sent a battalion and a half squadron to Bruyères to monitor the
road to Épinal, cover the right of the IVth Corps and to keep
in contact with the Rechberg Division. The battle of Sainte-Marguerite
and Saint-Dié had cost the brigade of Deroy a hundred men. The
French loss was more significant, and the number of prisoners, they left in the
hands of the Bavarians, rose to 240. The report that General Grouchy
sent in the evening to the Duke of Bellune showed, at least, that the French
cavalry, although it was only composed of conscripts, conscientiously and
intelligently fulfilled its duty of exploration and security, and that
the generals placed at its head were not lacking in judgment or initiative,
or quickness of eye. Moreover, Grouchy was able to announce to the
Marshal that Bruyères was occupied by 1,000 men (Württembergers,
Bavarians and Cossacks), that of three reconnaissance sent by General Milhaud,
none have gone past Grandvillers. He adds: "One of them has
not returned, and 200 Cossacks went to Girecourt. Épinal was
occupied yesterday by the General Cassagne; but it is likely that there
will be an attack before long. I'm going to share my views in this
regard by sending my letter by Châtel, since it could happen to him
while directly on route."
This short paper of Grouchy is a model to study. It is refreshing
to see that in the saddest days in our history, despite the disparity of
forces, poorly educated soldiers, poor quality horses, our cavalry generals,
loyal to the principles from which they had earned so much success, still
managed to inform the command much more completely and accurately than
the leaders of the Allied cavalry.
Finally, Grouchy is still allowed, in concluding this report, to
respectfully submit a few remarks to the Marshal: "In this situation," he
wrote, "I urge you, M. Marshal, to come here early tomorrow, because
it is likely that General Duhesme will be followed, and the day will probably
not pass without an event." and 
On the right of the Vth Corps, Colonel Scheibler, who had
stood with his flying corps above Lütlzelhausen, directed a hundred
Cossacks and half a squadron of hussars on Schirmeck to seek to acquire,
by pushing forward on the roads leading at Raon-l'Étape, information
on the movements and position of Victor.
The number of troops that Wrede had left in Alsace when crossing
the Vosges, amounted to, including the garrison of Colmar, eleven battalions
and a company, eight squadrons and four batteries; he only had at most
20,000 to 25, 000 men available for operations that the Vth Corps
would undertake and for which one concentrated on the 10th, the Bavarians
in Ober-Bergheim and Châtenois (Kestenholtz), the Austrians at Epfig,
Dambach, Saint-Hippolyte. The Austrian vanguard under the command
of Colonel von Geramb, was at Benfeld. We recall that even before
that time Frimont was connected by Molsheim with the cavalry of Pahlen.
March of the IVth Corps on Épinal. --We
will still remember that the IVth Corps, leaving its right at Épinal
and marching under the orders of the Generalissimo by Bains, Plombières
and Vauvillers, was to be at Jussey the 14th, so it could move either
by Fayl-Billot on Langres, or by Bourbonne on Montigny-le-Haut (Montigny-le-Roi).
We have also seen at the news of the occupation of Épinal
by the French, that the Crown Prince of Württemberg had informed the
Chief of the changes he expected in all likelihood he would be obliged
to make to the movement of his corps. The Crown Prince, indeed, anxious
to know of the French at
Épinal, insufficiently informed, since he believed it entrenched with
considerable forces, fearing to see the Allies barred access from the Moselle
Valley there, decided, as shown in the following letter to Scherbatov, in concert
with Platoff, posted at Pouxeux, to chase and cut off the troops posted there
by the route to Charmes.
Information provided by Scherbatov. --Scherbatov to
Prince Schwarzenberg, from
camp near Pouxeux, 10 January 1814 at midnight (the original in French).
"I sent to Épinal, even before the approach of the enemy,
two parties, one to the right by Rambervillers with a guide, Count Lunel
de Cortomiglio, another to the left by Mirecourt, with my aide, Sub-Lieutenant
Today I had a report of my guide on the right Count Lunel de Cortomiglio,
that he had discovered the enemy forces, which are at Charmes, Magnières,
Baccarat, Raon, and around Saint-Dié.
The Russian General Seslavin is in Bruyères and the surrounding areas. The
guide took a low ranking French officer who was carrying a letter of the Marshal
Duke of Bellune to General Cassagne, which I had the honor to copy as a precaution. The
guide kept the original. I believe it is my duty to recommend to Your
Highness the guide Corlorniglio, who completed his commission beyond my expectations.
Tomorrow the Crown Prince of Württemberg intends to attack Épinal. The
corps of General Count Platoff, located here, will go to the left in front
of the town of Épinal to cut off the retreat of the enemy or to
prevent him from receiving reinforcements from Charmes. I will join
my detachment with the corps of Count Platoff.
If there is success in the attack, I will move on Nancy or Toul,
depending on the circumstances, to place me on the road of Strasbourg to
What I can discover of importance and noteworthiness, I will hasten
to report to Your Highness.
I think I can find spies in the future as I found here. What
is most necessary for me to get is money, something which is absolutely
lacking and that your Highness had the goodness of promising."
Movements of the flying corps of Thurn. --The
Lieutenant Colonel Thurn retiring after his reckless raid on Langres following
the road of Fayl-Billot to Vesoul, informed the morning of the 10th,
at Fayl-Billot, one of the officers of the vanguard of the Crenneville
Division, of the events that occurred during the night.
The Lieutenant Colonel Count Thurn, to Captain Zadubsky (the Rosenberg Light
Horse Regiment). --10
"The enemy fell on Langres and sent strong patrols tonight against my
outposts. We hear the drums on the road from Gray to Dijon.
I will do my best to discover the plans and movements of the enemy.
As for the spies, while paying richly, they give at the same time false
news, it is same way that I obtain information that we need.
I camp at Fayl-Billot and I await with impatience news of the Crenneville Division;
I will keep you informed of my movements."
In the margin: "Seen by me, with sending of a note that I continue my
march. Crenneville, F. M. L. (In march towards La Cart (La Quarte), 10/1
It is clear from the tone of this letter, Thurn was anything but reassured,
and his difficulty in obtaining spies is a clear sign of change that occurred
in the minds of people since the entry of the Allies in France. We are
at the same time far from the enthusiasm that Thurn was pleased to relay in
his first reports.
Thurn did not stay long in Fayl-Billot; passing between Ouge and La Quarte,
he was the night of the 10th with his main body at Pressigny, occupying
Poinson-lès-Fayl and Genevrières, and sending patrols towards
Champlitte. Preceding Crenneville who he knew had to go the next day to Champlitte,
to cut roads of Langres to Gray and Dijon, he prayed that the general officer
to keep abreast of his movements if he decided to try something on the 11th or
12th against Langres.
There were some legitimate concern of Thurn, however, as to his situation,
very compromised by the action of Langres, some may have been motivated by
fears, some may have been the serious loses of his flying corps, since he recounts
himself that there were only two officers present in his squadron of Archduke
Ferdinand Hussars, although he claims with horn and voice (vehemently), in
his dispatch dated Pressigny, 10 January, 11:30 in the evening, even without reinforcements
of cavalry, making it impossible to do anything, the Lieutenant-Colonel
believes, however, he is being useful and is enthusiastic about the strategic
concepts of Schwarzenberg, and this is what this officer was sent forward to
inform the commanding general on the plans of the enemy has the audacity to
"I assure Your Highness that the enemy is completely confused by our
marches and is convinced that the majority of the forces by Your Highness go
by Geneva to Italy."
Far be it from us to think that Prince Schwarzenberg had believed for a moment
such an assessment. However, we feel that this dispatch is sufficient
to give the true measure of an advanced guard officer, who said so lightly
that the enemy is confused, and dares to contact his commander in chief with
a report in which he said that in the mind of Napoleon, the Allies have made
a demonstration in France to divert attention from the fact that they were
preparing to move on Italy, where Prince Eugène had much to do to defend
the ground inch by inch against Bellegarde. Such an officer was not up
to his mission and should have been replaced immediately. There was indeed,
and Thurn is right in this respect, much confusion among the enemy in the manner
of operation of the Allies! Clausewitz was, moreover, responsible for
showing why the French were confused and were perhaps unable to guess what
was or what could be at this point the intentions of the Allies. "While
it is difficult to discover the purpose that was proposed by
pushing the right wing on one side where there was absolutely nothing to do,
what is certain, however, is that we kept Barclay de Tolly for fifteen days,
to have be on hand to support the IVth and Vth Corps being kept
unnecessarily in Alsace."
During this time, we had advanced in two large columns on the roads of Vesoul
and Dijon to blockade Besançon and Auxonne. It was thus, from
the leaving the line of Huningue-Neufchâtel, marching in three different
directions: on the right towards Sélestat; on left for Dijon; in the
center, against Vesoul, and they had left the reserve on the side of Huningue. What
was the goal of all these movements? A hostile force of 12,000 men marching
from Reims on Langres. It seems we knew nothing of the strength and
position of the enemies corps. In this way, the great army had been dispersing
its effective force of 30,000 or 40,000, namely the corps of Gyulay and
two divisions of the corps of Colloredo who were gathered near Vesoul.
It was, Clausewitz, continues, with the 30,000 or 40,000 men who went forward
to Langres and Chaumont, and thanks to the weakness of the enemy, they did
not run into danger because ahead of them was only the 12,000 men of Mortier.
Dissolution of the flying corps of Scheibler. --Grounds for termination. --The
resistance of Langres, or, rather, the lesson of Lieutenant-Colonel Thurn,
had worried Schwarzenberg that, as he always interpreted through the whole
course of this campaign, whenever he thought something was wrong or because
seriously threatened by the enemy, he felt the need to strengthen and to
directly modify the composition of his different columns. This time
it was confined, and we cannot prove him wrong in this, to order the dissolution
of the flying corps of Scheibler, who had, in fact, had rendered no service,
but, however, the reason he gave Wrede was so singular that we cannot resist
the temptation to reproduce here the letter he wrote about this:
Prince of Schwarzenberg to the Count Wrede. --Villers-Exelles
(Villersexel), 11 January 1814.
"The enemy made a show of resistance on the side of Langres and pushed
back the flying corps of Lieutenant-Colonel Count Thurn.
The Department of Haute-Marne stirred and took up arms.
I have at my front just 500 horse, and this forces me to strengthen my cavalry.
Your Excellency has more cavalry than any other of the commanders of all the
Austrian corps, and has less need of the flying corps of Colonel Scheibler,
as the cavalry of Count Wittgenstein covers your right, that of the generals
Platoff and Scherbatov your left.
I consider it essential to dissolve the flying corps of Scheibler and invite
you to order him to make forced marches with the two regiments of Cossacks
and the hussar squadron of Hesse-Homburg on Vesoul. He will leave the
squadron of Szekler hussars and Bavarian Light Horse.
As for Colonel Scheibler, he shall, join his regiment in Italy alone."
Positions of the IIIrd Corps. --Meanwhile,
instead of ordering Gyulay to accelerate his movement to calm the unrest which
manifested itself in the Haute-Marne, the Generalissimo allowed the IIIrd Corps,
which left a garrison of two battalions at Vesoul, to encamp around Port-sur-Saône,
its right at Faverney, its left at Scey, its advanced guard between La Quatre
and Fayl-Billot, sending patrols forward to Langres and right to Jussey, with
orders to try to connect on that side with the IVth Corps.
Positions of the Ist and IInd Corps and Reserves. -
The Ist Corps arrived at Vesoul, and the light division of Ignatz
Hardegg at Montbozon and Vellefaux. The two brigades detached from
Bianchi reached Moffans-et-Vacheresse 10 January; and Schwarzenberg, from
Villersexel went to Besançon to reconnoiter the place, ordered the
blockade by the IInd Army Corps (Prince Alois of Liechtenstein),
which he reinforced with a grenadier brigade and Archduke Franz Cuirassiers. At
the same time, convinced of the impossibility of removing Besançon
by any means other than a regular siege, he ordered the Crown Prince of
Hesse-Homburg to move with the Scheither Brigade (when it was relieved
in Salins by the brigade of Prince Gustav of Hesse), a brigade of the division
Weissenwolff and the cavalry divisions of Klebelsberg and Lederer, by Quingey
and Villers-Farlay, towards Dôle and Auxonne and then to Dijon, where
it should be assemble the 15th to 16th and be joined by the
division Wimpffen coming from Gray. The bulk of the reserves and
Prussian and Russian guards remained confined between Altkirch and Dannemarie.
But, as Schwarzenberg evidently knew that the French garrisons were necessarily
composed of conscripts gathered in haste and National Guards without organization,
the total number of these garrisons could not exceed twenty thousand men, it
would have been sufficient to observe or blockade them. By
this time with a large detachment on his left towards Dijon, he weakened himself
without cause and would have been exposed to real danger if, when he arrived
on the plateau of Langres, and the French were able to oppose him with anything
other than the small corps of Mortier, returned in haste from Namur by Reims.
11 January. --Positions of the VIth Corps. --On
11 January, the VIth Corps remained in its position before Kehl,
Strasbourg, Bitche, Phalsbourg, Petite-Pierre and Landau. General
Rüdinger changed somewhat the location of the outposts under Strasbourg,
moving the two squadrons of Stutzheim to Oberhausbergen, the squadron of
Oberschæffolsheim to Wolfisheim, the post of Niederhausbergen to
Mittelhausbergen, and sending to support his left wing a
battalion of infantry to La Wantzenau.
March of the Vth Corps. --The Vth Corps
pushed its advanced guard (Deroy Brigade) to Nompatelize. The brigade
was followed by the rest of the La Motte Division, who occupied Saint-Dié and
Bruyères, while the Rechberg Division was still on the other side
of the Vosges behind the Bonhomme pass and while the troops of Frimont
took the road to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines to cross the Vosges and then move
The main part of the flying corps of Colonel Scheibler, which had
also been dissolved, was in Celles-sur-Plaine; but a detachment of the
corps, which the day before was at Schirmeck reached Raon-l'Étape. Finally,
Wrede had been warned during the course of the day, by a dispatch sent
on the day before Saverne by Pahlen that Blücher was from the 4th at
Bad Kreuznach marching on Metz, and Marmont was retiring before him.
As for Marshal Victor, he had merely given the order to hold on
to Baccarat to cover Lunéville.
Battle of Épinal. --Consequences of the softness of Platoff. --In
the IVth Corps, the Crown Prince of Württemberg, formed early
in the morning of 11th, his troops on both banks of the Moselle in
three columns of attack directing: one by La Baffe and the right bank of
the Moselle; the second, by Pouxeux; the third by Xertigny and Saint-Laurent
on the left bank of the Moselle against Épinal, occupied by the
infantry of General Rousseau, reinforced by about 300 horses. The
second and third columns were
supposed to attack simultaneously and be supported by a reserve consisting
of the Kronprinz Dragoon Regiment (n. 3) with half of a horse artillery
battery. Meanwhile, the Cossacks of Platoff spread over the two wings of
the IVth Corps, by Fontenay and Forges, were to outflank the enemy,
take it from behind and cut off its retreat.
But General Rousseau soon realized the plans of his opponent, and while holding
back the Württemberg column with a well maintained fusillade, he evacuated Épinal
and withdrew without loss of time and in good order, by the road of Charmes. The
Crown Prince of Württemberg, who could not hope to catch the French with
his infantry who were very tired by the marches it had executed, stopped at Épinal
and counting on the emergence of Platoff on the wings and rear of General Rousseau,
he thought it wiser to only pursue up to Igney with his cavalry (Kronprinz
and Herzog Lüdwig (Jäger zu Pferd n. 2) regiments, and 2 squadrons
of the Prinz Adam (Jäger zu Pferd n. 4) Regiment) and seven pieces of
Meanwhile, the head of the French column had reached the heights of the village
of Thaon-les-Vosges that General Grekov (VIII) had occupied in the morning,
and by which General Rousseau was bound to pass through to reach Charmes. On
his approach, the Cossacks rushed out of Thaon on the French cavalry, in the
crush, taking 6 officers and 80 men; but forced to retreat before the infantry
that they were unable to touch, they were forced to evacuate the village that
the French column crossed safely from there to continue its retreat to Charmes.
It is obvious that if Platoff had not exaggerated his turning movement by jumping
too far left, as the Crown Prince of Württemberg notes in his report to
Schwarzenberg, he would have been able or willing
to more quickly cross the woods located before Les Forges, and if he had thought
of sending at least light artillery to Thaon, the column of General Rousseau,
would have been caught between two fires, and forced to lay down their arms. Despite
this, the French suffered a lot during the day. The few squadrons attached
to the column had been "disrupted, and the infantry had suffered significant
losses, caused mainly by the artillery fire of the Crown Prince, and, towards
the end of the retreat, the Cossack artillery, led by General Kaisarov. The
latter, debouching too late from the woods of Les Forges, had to confined itself
to support the pursuit of the Cossacks that drove up to Charmes. On the
morning of the 12th, the remains of the troops of Generals Cassagne and
Rousseau, which had been collected by General Meunier at Charmes, retired with
him on Nancy.
The affair at Épinal, which could have had even more disastrous consequences
for the French troops and that cost 500 prisoners, gave the Allies mastery
of the Haut-Moselle, helping to speed the evacuation of Lorraine,
and enabled, finally, the Vth Corps to march at his leisure through the
passes of the Vosges towards Saint-Dié and Rambervillers.
Platoff, we shall see later, in similar circumstances, sought to misrepresent
the facts to excuse his weakness and inability, made no attempt this time to
defend himself and explain why he had come so late on line. Moreover, the report
is framed in terms so bizarre, it is worthwhile to at least be reproduced,
noting; reading this document, will give
an indication of the deficiencies of the Ataman and understand why, despite
his indulgence, and despite the recognition that he had for services rendered,
the Emperor Alexander had in the end, decided to withdraw the Ataman to a command
he was more capable to exercise.
Finally, it must be noted that under the same conditions which the command
operated, it was very difficult for cavalry generals do useful work. Indeed,
when the Crown Prince of Württemberg informed Schwarzenberg of the progress
of Scherbatov on Nancy, Platoff, however, intimated that the general orders
were to stand by Charmes and defended it, as demonstrated in the report of
Scherbatov to Schwarzenberg, that we will mention later, rather than venturing
Direct correspondence of generals under orders to the Generalissimo. --Apart
from the lack of unity within the leadership, and without stressing the
disadvantages and dangers resulting from the absence of such subordination,
always so needed between the generals, but even more needed between generals
of different nations, we have more than once during this entire campaign
of 1814, had to take into account personal rivalries that divided the generals
of the same army.
We have also found the trend of criticism of inferiors against the superiors,
encouraged by the trend that, if they were in a detached operation,
even momentarily, senior officers and generals were allowed to correspond directly
with the Generalissimo, and profited from this opportunity to severely judge
the conduct and operations of the corps heads to which they were temporarily
assistants, or under whose orders they were placed for a longer or shorter
period. The lateral correspondence that certain officers routinely maintained
with the characters at the headquarters of the Generalissimo or personally
with Allied sovereigns, including lateral correspondence that we concern ourselves
frequently, were not of a nature to simplify the situation, or to facilitate
the actions of the command. In reading below the report from General
Scherbatov, we easily see that it cannot hide this general's discontent, to
some extent understandable, since he prevented him from marching, but caused,
in fact, in the contempt he professed to Platoff and the impatience he felt
in an addiction that he could hardly bend.
Report of Scherbatov to Schwarzenberg, at Camp near Châtel
(the original in French). --11 January, 1814.
"The Crown Prince of Württemberg yesterday attacked
the enemy at Épinal, and overwhelmed the city. General Count Platoff
went to the left on the road around, to cut off the retreat of the enemy; but
bad roads delayed the march by the 9 cannons that the Hetman had. I
was attached to his corps.
We pursued the enemy up to Charmes. Nightfall protected its retirement,
and it stopped in that city.
The enemy has lost many killed, and many prisoners were made. The
number of withdrawn to Charmes could be 1,000 men.
His Excellency General Count Platoff ordered me to stand close to Charmes and
not to venture near Nancy, not to go too far from the troops occupying Épinal. The
bulk of the enemy army is at: Bacara (sic) (Baccarat), Raon and
They say that in Nancy, a quantity of enemy troops have arrived, where Marshal
Ney and a Senator arm and arouse the people; but they have no success.
Being in Épinal, I sent forward and even to Nancy many copies of the
proclamation of Your Highness.
Among the prisoners taken yesterday, there are commanders of cuirassiers, dragoons,
hussars and gendarmes. All this cavalry was cut (sic).
Better is the prefect of the Vosges. M. Flegny, Baron of the Empire,
a man hated not only by the inhabitants of Épinal, but by those of the
whole country. It was he who sought to raise and equip them.
When I was in Épinal, much was spoken ill of him. It was he who
asked the troops to take him back to Épinal. He has a secretary
I hasten to make my report to Your Highness and all that I can know in the
P.S. --Having already sealed my report, I just heard from a gentleman
of Châtel that he received a letter from Paris twelve days ago. He
remarks that Napoleon left Paris to go, with 80,000 men, on Langres and Besançon."
March of the IIIrd Corps. --Gyulay
unaware of what he has before him. --On the side of the IIIrd Corps,
Gyulay advancing slowly toward Langres, arrived, 11 January, at Combeau-Fontaine,
Crenneville at Fayl-Billot; outposts established in Chaudenay and La Ferté-sur-Amance,
sent patrols to Langres. A division of Russian cuirassiers, destined
for the IIIrd Corps, and a regiment of Cossacks, that was to become
specially attached to the division of Crenneville, arrived in Vesoul. But
whether he lacked cavalry, as evidenced by the orders given to Barclay
de ToIly; or, what seems more likely, the scouting services had gone over
very badly, it is certain that Gyulay completely ignored at this time what
he had before him. "Reports of my outposts," he wrote from
Combeaufontaine to Schwarzenberg, "do not provide
me with any positive data on the forces of the enemy. "
It is true on his part that Schwarzenberg was no better informed in his knowledge
and said, from Vesoul, the 11th in the morning: "The
enemy has very few people in Langres. March in such a way to be before
the town on the 13th in the morning." At that moment, the
Generalissimo had not yet received the singular intelligence that Scherbatov
sent him from Châtel, in which he informed him that Napoleon's famous
movement, at the head of 80,000 men, was now supposed to move on Langres. It
would be impossible to determine today whether the new erroneous data of Scherbatov
worried Schwarzenberg. as it appears to be indicated by the orders sent to
Kaisarov, or better if Gyulay himself would have been troubled by this news
and an inability to know exactly what he had before him, and by the offensive
reconnaissance of Mortier that began on the 12th against the outposts
of the IIIrd Corps unintentionally contributed reports to increase the
reluctance of the headquarters. We will note only that immediately after
having sent Gyulay the order to be ready to attack Langres on the 13th Schwarzenberg
changed his mind because it was not until the 17th that a decision was
made to execute a movement that would have been possible, on perhaps the 12th and
certainly the 13th. Gyulay would be losing five to six days to
trample around Langres. To chase, as we shall see, the 12,000 men with
whom Mortier retired on the approach of strengths which were so superior in
numbers, it was thought necessary to bring on line the Ist Corps, which
was then, the 11th, on the left bank of the Saône, between Seveux
and Fresne, and directed to the right of Gyulay the IVth Corps. It
seems, moreover, they were so convinced of the presence of a considerable
force in Langres, that they had taken the necessary steps to get the Austrian
reserves of the Crown Prince of Hesse-Homburg to be available.
The cavalry affair at Gray. --Meanwhile, a squadron
of hussars of the Ist Corps had chased, the 11th, to Gray a
small picket of French cavalry and had entered the city, leaving shortly
after because the French infantry securely held the bridge and had barricaded
To complete the presentation of the movements performed in the day of the 11th,
we will add that two brigades of the division of Bianchi continued their march,
that the 3rd Brigade was still before Belfort, that the Crown Prince
of Hesse marched on Quingey, Wimpffen on Vieilley, Scheither on Salins, Maurice
Prince of Liechtenstein, with his light division on Dôle.
The IInd Corps was on that day, completing the investment of Besançon.
Movement orders for the Ist, IIIrd and IVth Corps. --As
for Schwarzenberg, who arrived that day in Vesoul, he had sent from there
orders to the Ist, IIIrd and IVth Corps to move on Langres,
as we have shown above, and instructed Wrede to send from Remiremont
strong parties of cavalry against the left wing of the troops stationed
at Langres, and accelerate the march of his main body.
Receipt of a report of Blücher. --The Generalissimo
had received that day a report from Blücher, dated
from Kusel, 7 January, the report in which Field-Marshal gave a summary
of his operations up to 6 January, and informed him of his proposed move
on Metz and his arrival there the 15th. A second report of
Blücher, from Sankt Wendel the 9th at midnight, arrived a few
hours later, and confirmed the first news and made the Generalissimo aware
of the orders to the Army of Silesia for the day of the 11th.
12 January. --Positions of the VIth and Vth Corps. --Immobility
of the IVth Corps. - Orders of Schwarzenberg relative to Platoff
and Scherbatov. --The day of the 12th, still
no more than the previous ones, passed without having anything interesting
to report. The VIth Corps continued to remain motionless and
Pahlen merely informed
Wrede that the left wing of the Army of Silesia, that of Sacken's Corps,
was at Homburg the 8th, and by that time, Marshal Marmont had fallen
back on the Saar.
The Vth Corps continued its slow movement, and Major Prince Taxis, who
was escorting the aide of Caulaincourt would encounter the first French outpost
that was beyond Raon-l'Étape. 
The Crown Prince of Württemberg, instead of profiting from the advantages
gained the day before, gave a little rest to his troops at Épinal. A
regiment of Württemberg cavalry, supported by a regiment of infantry,
pushed alone by the right bank of the Moselle on the road of Rambervillers
and of Lunéville; Platoff was always at Nomexy and should have there,
moved by Mirecourt on Neufchâteau to cover the right of the army; General
Seslavin scoured the country ahead of Bruyères.Schwarzenberg
had decided to separate Platoff from Scherbatov from now on, and he had ordered
General Tollto charge one of
these generals with establishing communications with Blücher between the
Meuse and Moselle, and send the other towards Chaumont in order to link with
the corps posted on this side.
Gyulay remained at Combeaufontaine most of the day, merely moving
the light division of Crenneville towards Chaudenay, Montlandon and Celsoy,
and closer to the division Hohenlohe-Bartenstein, so that it could gain
his support if necessary.
The affair of La Griffonotte and Chaudenay. --The
outpost of Crenneville were attacked, near La Griffonotte towards
Chaudenay by a small reconnaissance performed by a detachment of French
infantry and cavalry. This reconnaissance, having skirmished for
some time, retired in good order, followed far enough to a few kilometers
from Langres by a squadron of the Rosenberg Light Horse.After
the return of the reconnaissance, Gyulay thought it useful to advance a
portion of the IIIrd Corps to Fayl-Billot. Perhaps because
the Mortier had not ceased for a moment to disturb the whole line of Austrian
As for Lieutenant-Colonel Thurn, to whom Crenneville had finally
ordered to push on Longeau to cover his left as he marched to Langres,
he was also worried on the side of Chassigny. Posted on the evening
of the 12th evening at Bériat,he informed Schwarzenberg
that Mortier had arrived at Langres with his vanguard, and the line of
the French outposts and passed by Longeau and Heuilley.
The Ist and IInd Corps remained completely motionless while the
Austrian reserves were moving slowly towards Dijon.
The Prince of Hesse-Homburg arrived that day in Villers-Farlay, and Wimpffen
Causes of retrograde movement of Victor. --In
the end, if we are to believe the German documents, it would have been
the presence of Pahlen which had motivated the retrograde movement of Victor.
It is proposed that Pahlen had, in effect, taken the 12th the courier
sent to the Duke of Bellune and giving him the orders to move on Épinal.
Victor, who did not receive the instructions, pushed back on his front,
threatened on his right, for that reason retired on Lunéville. We
the contrary, that the Marshal was reluctant to abandon the defense of the
Vosges and he decided to retire after receiving from Marshal Ney the word of
the arrival of the vanguard of the Army of Silesia at Château-Salins,
that it entered the 13th. Afraid of being completely cut off from
his line of retreat and from losing communication with Toul, Victor no longer
had a part to play, except to fall back by Nancy and Toul, and seek to effect
a junction with Ney and Marmont.
It is at this point in the biography of Wrede that there is an assertion that
seems to us impossible to accept. Asked by the Mayor of Lunéville
on the measures he should take to evacuate the wounded, Marshal Victor had
replied: No matter whether made here or elsewhere, we will all end up being
a connection is not permissible on the part of the Duke of Bellune.
13 January. --News of Blücher. --The VIth Corps
receives orders to move on Nancy. --On the 13th,
when the headquarters of Schwarzenberg received the notice of Blücher
announcing his probable arrival this day on the heights of Metz, Wittgenstein's
orders to move to Nancy were
finally given to fill as quickly as possible the gap between the right
of the main army and the left of Blücher; he recommended, however,
to leave enough people at Strasbourg.
Movement of the Vth Corps. --Wrede having
nothing before him, easily spread in the plains of Lorraine between Rambervillers
and Saint-Dié, and his vanguard under General Habermann, pushed
forward by the roads of Lunéville and of Nancy, to facilitate the
march of Blücher. Wrede, with the rest, however, remaining in
these parts, even sent a battalion and two squadrons of the division of
Rechberg on the 13th to occupy Épinal that had Württembergers
quit the same day to move by Bains towards Jussey and Langres.
Actions before Langres. --Gyulay focuses on Fayl-Billot. --As
for the IIIrd Corps, Gyulay had intended to undertake a general reconnaissance
the 13th of Langres; but the activity of Mortier forced him to abandon
his project by not leaving him a moment of peace. On the night of
the 12th to 13th, 700 French cavalry surprised the outposts
of the IIIrd Corps at one o'clock in the morning, chasing them to
Chaudenay, then falling back without interference on Langres, between three
and four o'clock in the morning. At five o'clock, it was the turn
of the outposts on the side of Boute-en-Chasse to undergo an attack.
Finally, two hours later a group of about 800 horsemen left again from
Langres and menaced all along the line occupied by Gyulay who, expecting to
be attacked at any moment, gave up his reconnaissance of Langres and concentrate
on Fayl-Billot, to be able in case of serious attack, to be supported on this
point by the Ist Corps, which should have made it to Grenant; but Colloredo,
having found no bridge over the Saône at Seveux, delayed en route by
the bad roads , had to back up the Saône to Scey, and the bulk of his
corps, after having crossed the river, did not arrive in Combeaufontaine until
the evening. In this day Gyulay to connect with the IVth Corps,
had sent some cavalry to Bourbonne that was unable to obtain any information
on the position of Württemberg troops.
The flying corps of Thurn forced to fall back on Grandchamp. --Meanwhile
Thurn, who Gyulay did not have much opportunity to inform of the events
during the night, thinking that the Feldzeugmeister was undertaking the
proposed reconnaissance, believed rightly that he could facilitate this
by drawing the attention of the French on him, had attacked Bériat (the
mill Barillot, north of Violot), where, from what he had said, there should
be a position of 50 cavalry and 100 infantrymen. But when he was
deployed, he discovered he had 400 horses before him supported by a battalion
of grenadiers. The action was initiated, and Thurn tried to present
as good a show as possible. At eleven o'clock his patrol on the right
being informed of the presence of the enemy at Chalindrey, he thought it
prudent, for fear of being cut off, to leave his right on the road of Gray,
to approach the IIIrd Corps and bring his little corps to Grandchamp,
sorely tried by the fight he had to support and moreover, greatly weakened
by its losses, which amounted to 13 killed, including 1 officer, 19 wounded,
11 missing, 1 horse killed and 5 wounded. He ended
as he addressed the report in
this regard to Schwarzenberg: "I beg Your Highness to strengthen my
horse, my squadron of hussars is no longer composed of more than 60 men
after the battle today. My good will and my desire to do well were
almost wiped out by the weakness of my corps."
The vanguard of the Austrian reserves, under Prince Gustav of Hesse-Homburg,
had arrived before Auxonne; the reports of the emissaries had
indicated to the Generalissimo at that time the composition of the garrisons
of Besançon and Auxonne. The Crown Prince of Hesse, who was with
the bulk of these reserves at Dôle was occupied with restoring the bridges
over the Saône at Saint-Jean-de-Losne and Pontailler, which were destroyed
by the French while falling back to the right bank.
Finally, the Emperor of Russia had celebrated the Russian New Year crossing
the Rhine at Basel at the head of Russian and Prussian guards.
14 January. --Occupation of Lunéville by the cavalry
of the Vth Corps.--The 14th had the same
characteristics as the previous. On the part of the Vth Corps,
all were confined to the occupation of Lunéville by two squadrons
of hussars, sending a dispatch to Schwarzenberg from Wrede confirming the
departure of Victor from Lunéville and informing him that the Marshal
took the road of Nancy to Langres or of Toul to Paris. The bulk of the
Vth Corps halted at the points it occupied between Rambervillers
and Saint-Dié. The Austrian divisions of Wrede took
advantage of the halt to approach the first of these two points.
March of the IVth Corps. --The Crown Prince
of Württemberg, unable, because of high water, in trying to cross
the Saône at Jussey, resolved to move on to Jonvelle, then go back
to the source of the Saône and the gain by Bourbonne the highway
to Chaumont, and go that day up to Vauvillers. General Jett, head
of the rear guard, relieved by the Bavarians of Wrede at Épinal,
Platoff immobile. -As for Platoff, he continued
to remain motionless; after the action of Épinal, he had not moved
from Charmes. The way he justifies this inexplicable stay is perhaps
even more remarkable given his understanding of his role as commander of
a vanguard of cavalry charged to cover and report to an army.
"Believing that the enemy would come at Lunéville",
he said verbatim in a report dated from Charmes (14 January), "I
stayed in Charmes up to the arrival of the General Count v. Wrede at Épinal. Now having
left at Charmes Prince Scherbatov, I'm moving at this very minute with
five regiments of Cossacks towards Mirecourt. Tomorrow, I'll go up to Neufchâteau,
where I will establish communications on the left with the Crown Prince
of Württemberg, on the right with Prince Scherbatov.
He therefore took three days for Platoff to decide to move forward. Instead
of following and harassing the few troops incessantly that the IVth Corps
had had before him at Épinal, it was thought necessary to cover Épinal
against an attack that could not happen, because with a little activity, vigilance,
he should have known that he had nothing before him, and to complete this first
fault, he feels obliged to leave behind him, at Charmes, the posting of Scherbatov. The
latter, however, when he was once more master of his actions, after the departure
of Platoff, moved from 15 January on Vézelise.
Gyulay reconnoiters the outskirts of Langres. --Gyulay
finally executed, 14 January, his reconnaissance of Langres and drove the
French outposts from Chalindrey, Culmont and Corlée. With the approach
of columns Gyulay the French took up positions on the heights of Saint-Geômes. Everything
was confined to a cannonade that continued until the evening when Gyulay
withdrew and went with the Fresnel Division to establish themselves at
Chalindrey. The bulk of the IIIrd Corps was still in Fayl-Billot.
Gyulay had also sent some detachments of cavalry on his right to Bourbonne. The
only thing the Austrian cavalry could learn for its part consisted of baggage,
scant enough, and reports sent to Major-General von Hecht shows that the IIIrd Corps
was much better than Platoff in its use of cavalry, although fewer in number
it is true. The head of the reconnaissance on Bourbonne was, in fact,
obliged to confess that he had witnessed the departure of the chasseurs à cheval
regiment who was there the 13th, but could not discover the direction
taken by the regiment.
Retreat of the flying corps of Thurn towards Bussières. --Information
provided to the Generalissimo. --Thurn
had retired to Bussières after his failure of Moulin-Barillot. He
had at this time, the intention of pushing on the road towards Dijon, but
was prevented by a formal order from Gyulay.
The population in the Haute-Marne were, according to Thurn, overtly hostile
to the Allies. The news of a large gathering of French troops between
Dijon and Langres, news which he concluded in his report, was likely to very
seriously annoy Schwarzenberg, who from the beginning and throughout the course
of the campaign, had shown that the Generalissimo had not stop for a moment
in being concerned about the fate of his extreme left.
Key to Map #6
IInd Corps & Austrian Reserves (Crown Prince of Hesse-Homburg) -The
IInd Corps, reinforced by a grenadier brigade and a regiment of cuirassiers
was ordered to blockade Besançon. The Scheither Brigade, a brigade
of Weissenwolff and the cavalry divisions of Klebelsberg and Lederer were ordered
towards Dole and Auxonne and then to Dijon to merge with the Division of Wimpffen
coming from Gray the 15th or 16th. The 11th the IInd Corps
completed its investment of Besançon, while the Crown Prince with the
reserves marched on Quingey, Scheither on Salins and the light division of
M. Liechtenstein on Dole. The 13th the Austrian Reserves arrived
before Auxonne. The Crown Prince of Hesse with the bulk of the forces
at Dole occupied himself with restoring the bridges over the Saône at
Saint-Jean-de-Losne and Pontailler.
Bianchi Division -Two brigades of Bianchi reached Moffans-et-Vacheresse the
10th and continued its march on Vesoul, while the third brigade remained
Ist Corps (M. Liechtenstein) and the 2nd Light Division (Colloredo)
-The 10th the bulk of the corps reached Vesoul while the Ignatius Hardegg
Division arrived at Montbozon and Vellefaux, and the division of Wimpffen,
Villersexel. On the 11th the bulk of the corps was on the left
bank of the Saône between Seveux and Fresne. Wimpffen marched on
Vieilley the 11th and reached Gray on the 12th where it was to
move on Dijon. On reaching Vesoul the 11th Schwarzenberg and convinced
of major forces gathering before the IIIrd Corps ordered the Ist Corps
on Langres. Calling on the Ist Corps to support him, Colloredo discovered
the bridge over the Saône had been destroyed at Seveux. The Austrians
pushed back the outposts of Mortier to the heights of Saint-Geômes on
IIIrd Corps & Crenneville Division (Gyulay) -Lieutenant Colonel
Thurn retiring on Vesoul after his unsuccessful raid on Langres, was at Pressigny
the 10th, and then moved on Champlitte to cut the roads from Langres
to Gray and Dijon.
Thurn advised Crenneville who moved in support behind him to maintain contact
in case of an action against Langres on the 11th or 12th.
Despite an imagined large presence of the enemy at Langres, Schwarzenberg allowed
the IIIrd Corps, which left two battalions at Vesoul, to camp around
Port-sur-Saône, its right at Faverney, its left a Scey, its advanced
guard between La Quatre and Fayl-Billot, and asked that attempts be made to
unite with the IVth Corps at Jussey. On the 11th Schwarzenberg
ordered the IIIrd Corps on Langres, however Gyulay remained at Combeaufontaine
most of the 12th, only moving Crenneville's Light Division towards Chaudenay,
Montlandon and Celsoy to be closer with the division of Hohenlohe-Bartenstein. Harassed
constantly by Mortier, Gyulay gave up his attempts at Langres, concentrating
instead on Fayl-Billot. The flying corps of Thurn in his attempt to support
was roughly handled by 400 horsemen and a battalion of grenadiers north of
Violot and forced to fall back on Grandchamp and Bussières, thinking
to move on Dijon but prevented by order of Gyulay. By the 14th Gyulay
felt confident enough to push back the French outposts at Chalindrey, Culmont
and Corlée, while the bulk of his corps remained at Fayl-Billot, although
sending cavalry on Bourbonne which could not even tell which way the French
Vth (Bavarian) Corps (Wrede) -Wrede realizing the futility of remaining
in the Alsace, ordered General de La Motte on Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines and General
Deroy to solidly occupy Saint-Dié only to meet the French of Victor
who had ordered General Duhesme to attack the Bavarians there on the 10th. Despite
an initial French success, the Bavarians remained masters of Saint-Dié pushing
a few units out on the roads of Rambervillers and Roan-l'Étape and occupying
Scheibler, sitting above Lütlzelhausen sent some small units to try and
discover the location of Victor. With 11 battalions, 8 squadrons and
4 batteries still in Alsace, Wrede had only 20 to 25,000 effectives concentrating
at Ober-Bergheim and Châtenois (Bavarians) and Epfig, Dambach and Saint-Hippolyte
(Austrians). Sheibler's flying column was dissolved the 11th. Wrede
having nothing before him easily spread in the plains of Lorraine between Rambervillers
pushed forward on the 13th on the roads of Lunéville and Nancy. The
Vth Corps occupied Lunéville on the 14th.
IVth Corps (Crown Prince of Württemberg) -Fearing a large concentration
of French at Langres, Schwarzenberg had ordered the IVth Corps to leave its
right at Épinal and march by way of Bains, Plombières and Vauvillers
to be at Jussey the 14th to be able to move either by Fayl-Billot on
Langres or Bourbonne on Montigny-le-Haut. Still worried of a major concentration
Épinal, the Crown Prince directed Scherbatov in concert with Platoff
posted a Pouxeux to chase and cut off the troops there by the road to Charmes. Largely
due to Platoff a major attack by the Corps on Épinal on the 11th,
was unsuccessful in catching General Rousseau's forces. Despite this
success the Crown Prince gave his corps a day of rest at Épinal on the
On reaching Vesoul Schwarzenberg ordered the IVth Corps on Langres, which
they marched to the 13th byway of Bains and Jussey. Finding no
way to cross the Saône at Jussey, the Crown Prince was forced to back
track to the source of the river and move by way of Chaumont at Vauvillers.
VIth Russian Corps (Wittgenstein) -Fearing to move westward from Saverne
before first becoming master of Phalsbourg, Wittgenstein camped at Petite Pierre
and Lichtenberg receiving reinforcements. He instructed General Shakhovsky
to invest Landau (off map). The cavalry of Pahlen was ordered to march
on Lunéville and was supported by the 3rd and 4th Infantry
Divisions of E. Württemberg's IInd Russian Corps. Meanwhile
Seslavin was in Bruyères having made contact with Wrede's Vth Corps. The
VIth Corps linked the 10th with General Karpov (II) of the Army
of Silesia (off map). Various cavalry units watched Strasbourg. The 11th and
the 12th the VIth Corps remained in positions before Kehl, Strasbourg,
Bitche, Phalsbourg, Petite-Pierre and Landau. The 13th when Schwarzenberg
received notice that Blücher would arrive that day on the heights of Metz,
Wittgenstein was ordered to move on Nancy, with the recommendation to leave
enough people before Strasbourg.
Russian Reserves (Barclay de Tolly) -With the exception of the grenadiers
of Rayevsky who had relieved the division of Bianchi before Belfort, the bulk
of the reserves remained between Altkirch and Dannemarie, while the Emperor
of Russia celebrated the Russian New Year (13 January) with crossing the Rhine
at Basel with the Russian and Prussian Guards. Count Thurn and Colonel
Scherbatov's movements are described elsewhere.
1st Light Division (Bubna) -The bulk of Bubna's forces having been ordered
on Lyon, were at Saint-Amour, while his vanguard was at Saint-Etienne-du-Bois, the 10th. The brigade
of Zechmeister remained in Geneva and moved to monitor Savoy (off map). Although
recalled by Schwarzenberg, Bubna was forced to move forward by the nature of
the roads taking Bourg on the 11th while his cavalry pushed west taking
the bridge at Mâcon the 13th. The 14th the
vanguard of Bubna entered Meximieux and establishes its point and its outposts
in Montluel. (off map) See Chapter V for further details on operations
in the south of France.
Victor, who had avoided being trapped at Strasbourg, ordered General Duhesme
to march on Saint-Dié, the 10th saying, "The attack on Saint
Dié must be sharp and bold." Despite initial success Duhesme
and the cavalry of General Piré were forced to retire first to Saint-Michel
then on Rambervillers the 11th. That day Victor merely gave orders
to hold on Baccarat to cover Lunéville. General Rousseau under
the direction of General Cassagne withdrew in good order from a major engagement
at Épinal brushing aside a few Cossacks barring his way to Charmes on
the 11th. On the morning of the 12th the remains of the troops
of Generals Cassagne and Rousseau, which had been collected by General Meunier
at Charmes, retired with him on Nancy. Receiving word from Ney that the
Army of Silesia arrived at Château-Salins on the 13th and fearing
his line of retreat cut off from Toul, fell back by Nancy towards Ney and Marmont.
Mortier had arrived with his vanguard at Langres forming a line from Longeaux
to Heuilley. He continued to apply pressure on the advancing Austrians
after his successful repulse of Count Thurn on the 9th. Crenneville's
outposts near La Griffonotte were attacked on the 12th, on the night
of the 12th and 13th a strong cavalry force surprised the IIIrd Corps
outposts chasing them to Chaudenay, early on the 13th the outposts at
Boute-en-Chasse were attacked. Finally a raid all along the line of Gyulay
left the IIIrd in fear of a general attack. The Austrians
pushed back the outposts of Mortier to the heights of Saint-Geômes on
The Emperor had decreed 5 January,
the formation of the Army of Lyon that would be composed, on paper it is
true, of 17 battalions of the division of Musnier in reality only 1500
men strong, mostly conscripts, 36 national guard battalions forming two
divisions and only later reinforcements from Catalonia. Musnier had
withdrawn slowly before Bubna's advance on Lyon, moving into the
city the 11th where Augereau arrived on the 14th only to leave
for Valence the 15th to speed the movement and training of recruits
to Lyon. (off map)
to the Chief of Staff, Baccarat, 9 January, and Memoirs of Grouchy.
of General Piré to General Grouchy, from Nompatelize, 10 January, at
six o'clock in the evening.
could not," said General Piré, "carry out charges, given the
nature of the terrain."
At the end do the report, Piré
adds: "The appearance of the enemy, who was marching on
Saint-Dié when I met it, makes me believe that they belong
to a large corps." (Report of Piré to Grouchy, Archives
of the War.)
enemy after having followed us vigorously in the city, did not follow us back
in the gorge: it merely showed its his troops on the roads of Rambervillers
and of Raon ..." (Piré to Grouchy, Archives of the War.)
der Haupt Armee (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30) and Tagebuch of Major
Prince de Taxis (ibid., XIII, 32).
to the Duke of Bellune, 10 January, 1814.
was at Nancy from 9 January. (Belliard, Archives of the War.)
K. Kriegs Archiv., I. 206.
K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 195.
to Crenneville, Pressigny, 10 January, 1814 (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I,
219 a, and I, 219 b).
Colonel Thurn to Schwarzenberg, at Pressigny, 10 January 1814, half past
eleven at night (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 200).
Strategic Review of the 1814 Campaign.
K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 231.
der Haupt Armee (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30).
Operationelle für der IVtem Armee-Korps unter den Befehlen S. K. H. Kronprinz
v. Württemberg verfasst von K. K. General Graf Baillet-Latour (K. K.
Kriegs Archiv., XIII, 56), and Tagesbegebenheiten
(ibid., I, 30).
Prince of Württemberg to the Prince of Schwarzenberg.
--Épinal, 12 January 1814:
"The attack on Épinal was completed according to orders, but the
Ataman Count Platoff felt obliged to angle to his left with his artillery and
cavalry and to take it towards Thaon, because the road to Charmes is better
for cavalry than of Rambervillers. The enemy did not wait for our offense on Épinal
and retired easily by the road to Charmes. I followed with some of my
horse and my horse artillery to beyond Thaon.
General Grekov, which formed the head of Platoff, had already occupied Thaon,
when the tip of the French columns came on this point. He fell on the
French cavalry and it was routed. (See below the report of Platoff to Schwarzenberg, K.
K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 10.)
General Rousseau is commanding the French
troops in Épinal. He is himself under the orders of General
Cassagne. It is be specially noted that the French troops did not have
cannons with them…Accordingly, the Ataman Count Platoff goes
today to Mirecourt. The General Prince Scherbatov pushes to Nancy. I
will stay in communication with him and General Seslavin, who is at
Bruyères. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 254.)
in making his report to the Chief of Staff from Nancy, on the 12th, of
the affair at Épinal, announced that the troops of generals Rousseau
and Cassagne took up positions in Flavigny, that they would resist as much
as possible on this point which covers Nancy, adding that as a result of the
failure of Épinal, the falling back of Marmont towards Metz and Nancy,
and the retirement of Victor, the troops are seriously compromised as the road
of Sarreguemines to Château-Salins is absolutely defenseless and that
he is himself is deeply concerned at not being able to keep Nancy. (Archives
of the Depot of the War.)
of General of Cavalry, Ataman Count Platoff (original in French). - the
31 December 1813- 12 January 1814, the village of Nomexy.
"To His Highness the Marshal of Schwarzenberg, Commander in Chief of
all armies. --In accordance with my report to your Highness the 29th of
this month (10 January, 1814), as agreed with the Crown Prince of Württemberg,
I moved yesterday to attack the enemy that was in the town of Épinal,
and also near city, the bivouacs far to the left of the highway. Through
the woods, I went on the countryside of Leforge (Les Forges); at the same time
that the army of the Crown Prince drove the enemy from the town of Épinal;
I immediately used the Cossack regiments, divided into two columns, one commanded
by Major General Grekov the Eighth, and the other by Major General Kaisarov,
pursuing the enemy myself with my Cossack flying artillery, supported also
by the detachment of Prince Scherbatov.
According to the provisions made, General Grekov had to cut the road
that leads to Charmes and General Kaisarov fall on both sides. The enemy,
despite its defeat, found it impossible to gain good positions and to resist,
but, being pursued with a terrible fire, fled into the woods and behind the
Moselle River to the city of Charmes and by that disaster almost all the cavalry
of the Young Guard has been destroyed, as proven by the officers and commanders
who were captured, the rest being killed. It was only with great pain
that the remaining 1,000 infantrymen who got to Charmes later that night.
At the time of the pursuit of the enemy towards the city, a lot of prisoners
were taken, that I gave to the Württemberg Army, but there were still
more during the pursuit beyond the city: 8 officers , 91 soldiers and a prefect
(a) who was present with the army and who announced that General Roussot
(sic), who commanded the corps, was taken prisoner; but as he is not
with us, it is believe he was killed in the affair. The road was covered
with dead, fusils and thrown away knapsacks. On our side, thanks to God,
the loss is not significant and there were only 25 men killed and wounded,
21 horses killed, 18 wounded. In regards to the loss of the Württemberg
Army, it is unknown to me, but I'm sure they have suffered very little.
The remnants of the enemy infantry joined
in Charmes a small number of troops that were there, and they were
driven out at seven o'clock in the morning from Charmes and pursued
without after my orders by three regiments of Cossacks under the command
of General Grekov the Eighth, following the road to Nancy, until the
enemy was totally destroyed or as circumstances allow pursued, but
did not approach Nancy, since, according to the information, the enemy
is there in great force under the command of Marshal Ney.
General Grekov the Eighth, after his expedition, had to return to Charmes;
I find myself in the village of Noncey (Nomexy) and I'm in movement with the
enemy, on the right, who according to the report I was given by Major General
Seslavin, who believes that the enemy is in great force commanded by Marshal
Victor, marches from Lunéville on Épinal, that needs to be confirmed
And then I will abide by the orders I received from General-in-Chief Count
Barclay de Tolly, that I must take the direction towards on Mirecourt and Neufchâteau
and where circumstances require. A detachment of Prince Scherbatov will remain in
Charmes, who told me of all the events that happen, and that he made a report
to Your Highness personally.
I do not have time to recommend the brave men
who fought that day, to Your Highness, but I think it my duty to my report
after." (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., 1. 10.)
(a) Here he refers to Baron de Flegny, prefect of Vosges.
is the one of the lapsus calami on the part of Scherbatov since the
fighting at Épinal took place 11 January.
K. Kriegs Archiv., I. 124.
to Schwarzenberg (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 2I9).
to Gyulay (ibid., I, 236).
believe, for clarity, to give here the short report of Blücher addressed
from Kusel to the Emperor of Russia, and in which he summarized the ideas presented
in detail in the first of his reports to Schwarzenberg.
Field-Marshal Blücher to His Majesty
the Emperor of Russia (the original in French). (Received by Schwarzenberg
at Vesoul 11 January.) --Kusel, 7 January 1814. --"The
6th Corps, under Marshal Marmont, and the 1st Corps of
Cavalry under the command of General Doumerc (formerly La Tour-Maubourg),
with a strength of 15,000 to 16,000 men, withdrew before my forced
marches on the Saar, where on 5 January a corps of 4,000 men arrived
Yesterday 6 January, Marmont's corps crossed
the Saar at Saarbrücken and Sarreguemines, and today the advanced
guards of the corps of Sacken and of Yorck arrived at the Saar.
The enemy has brought pontoons from Metz with
which he built a bridge at Saarbrücken, where he blew up the stone
bridge over the Saar.
After tomorrow I bring the corps of Sacken and
Yorck to the Saar, and if the enemy does not withdraw, I will cross this
river and will immediately attack.
Colonel Count v. Henkel arrived 6 January at
three o'clock in the morning at Trèves, the enemy had evacuated
it, leaving a hospital with 600 to 800 patients and a great tobacco store.
General Count Langeron, after driving the outposts into the fortress, surrounded
and summoned Mainz on 4 January.
The corps of General v. Kleist is directed
on Koblenz, where it will arrive on 20 January.
I have instructed His Highness the Duke of Coburg,
to relieve with the 5th German Corps, Count Langeron, and His Highness
the Crown Prince of Hesse shall monitor with the 4th German Corps
of General von Kleist at Koblenz.
If I manage to chase Marshal Marmont from the
Saar, I arrive at Metz on the 15th, where, they say, many conscripts
I will invite the counts Wittgenstein and Wrede
to make movements in agreement with mine and to be able, if necessary,
to attack the enemy together with me." (K. K. Kriegs Archiv.,
I, 313 b.)
 Tagesbegenheiten der Haupt Armee (Ibid.,
der Majors Fürsten Taxis (Ibid., XIII, 32).
of Operations the IVth Army Corps (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., XIII,
the headquarters of the Prince of Schwarzenberg to Toll, Vesoul, 12 January
(Ibid., I, 274).
to Schwarzenberg at Combeaufontaine, 12 January (K. K. Kriegs Archiv.,
I, 244, and ad I, 244).
according to German reports. It must refer here to the mill Barillot,
to the north of Violot.
to Schwarzenberg, at the Grand Camp, 13 January (K. K.. Kriegs Archiv.,
refute this opinion, we need only to quote here the orders given
by Victor: "The advance guard, under orders of Duhesme, who
would be compromised in Saint-Michel if the Allies marched into force
from Bruyères on Rambervillers, will retire on the 12th,
two hours before dawn on Jeanménil, where the General will
establish four battalions and a battery. A battalion will remain
in front of Jeanménil, three squadrons scouting the way to
Saint-Dié. The Guard of Honor, less 200 horses that
were left at Bertrichamps, the rest of the division of Piré,
a division of dragoons and a battery will occupy Gugnécourt,
Girecourt, Dompierre, Sercœur, Padoux, Destord, Sainte-Hélène
and Vomécourt." (Victor to Grouchy, Archives of the
War). The 12th at 3 o'clock, when General Dejean was informed
by the Chief of Staff, that the infantry of the 2nd Corps occupied
Xermaménil, Gerbéviller and Magnières; the cavalry
was in the area of Roville, and the division of light cavalry of
with an infantry regiment was at Baccarat.
Finally, Victor sent at this time from Roville
orders that everyone was to start the 13th at four o'clock in the
morning on Saint-Nicolas through Lunéville. (Archives of the
For the 13th, he orders the division of France, which was still at Dombasle
to accelerate his retreat, because they received notice of a rapid march of
the enemy on Nancy, Toul, Gondrecourt and Joinville.
For 14th, the enemy was in Nancy, to
continue the movement on Toul. (Memoirs of Grouchy.)
the enemy has not arrived in Flavigny," wrote Victor to Grouchy, from
Saint-Nicolas, 13 January, "troops of the 2nd and 5th Corps
of Cavalry should settle for the night: the light cavalry of Piré at
Saint-Hilaire and Lupcourt, with posts towards Flavigny and Richardménil;
the two divisions of dragoons stop at Dombasle, the Guards of Honor at Lunéville,
scouting towards Blâmont, Baccarat and Rambervillers; the 3rd Infantry
Division at Varangueville, the 2nd at Saint-Nicolas, 1st at La
Neuville. All the troops will march on the 14th at five o'clock
in the morning, going to Toul by Nancy." He added in post-scriptum : "The
enemy seems to operate on Toul." (Archives of the Depot of the War.)
 HEILMANN, Feld-Marschall
Fürst Wréde, p. 327.
Haupt der Armee (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30).
is curious to see the Allies, just as they entered France, to seriously address
the strengthening of some points in Germany, such as Memmingen, for example. In
this connection, Wrede, who attributes the origin of this strange idea of M.
de Stein, wrote to the King of Bavaria 13 January: "This devil of
M. de Stein, who had his nose everywhere, wants to also shove it in Memmingen. If
M. de Stein is to have any value to me, he would only deal with his real work,
and spend less time as a fool, as I began to accuse him after all that I see
On 4 February, Wrede returned to the charge on this issue and wrote
to Count Mongelas: "Since my last letter to M. de Stein, he leaves me
alone. If the day of battle he had arrived at my vanguard, I would have
put him into a howitzer to make him a present for the Emperor Napoleon."
In another of his letters, Wrede called the Baron de Stein, "Generalissimo
of the Universe." (HEILMANN, Feld-Marschall Fürst Wrede, P.
(K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30); reports of Gyulay to Schwarzenberg, from
Fayl-Billot. 13 January (lbid., I. 276, and ad I, 276).
 Thurn to Schwarzenberg, Gandchamp, 13 January (K.
K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 282).
 Reports on the information provided to the general
headquarters by the emissaries (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 386).
(K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30), and Wrede to Schwarzenberg. Saint-Dié,
14 January (Ibid., I, 313).
French in the original (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, ad 344).
French in the original (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, ad 344).
Feldzeugmeister Count Gyulay to Prince Schwarzenberg. --Chalindrey, 14
January, 1814. --"I have, with the Fresnel Division and some light
troops, made a reconnaissance against Langres.
I found the enemy at Chalindrey, and as the
terrain is absolutely flat, I formed my infantry en masse. I
attacked the enemy, I have driven them from Corlée and back
under the cannons of Langres.
General Haecht, advancing up the road from Fayl-Billot
to Langres, threw them out on his side by Saint-Maurice and Saint-Vallier
up to Langres.
The enemy had before us three battalions of infantry
and 600 cavalry." (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I.. 309)
"Mortier to the Chief of Staff. --Langres,
15 January, 1814. -There is a very thick fog. The enemy, it
seems, had intended to attack; its troops have returned around noon. Yesterday
at ten o'clock in the evening it arrived in the same way with artillery
at Chaudenay and infantry at Montlandon. The enemy has made its lines
on the village Torcenay, Culmont, and Chalindrey. It must be in force. It
preceded me at Bourbonne-les-Bains.
This place was occupied, but only with 100 horse, when the duoniers
and 26 chasseurs of the 3rd Regiment participated in the meeting.
I have a reserve of mounted grenadiers, they
are at Rolampont, Humes and Jorquenay, but the dragoons and chasseurs
à cheval are very tired." (Archives of the Depot of the
von Goethem to Major-General von Haecht from La Ferté-sur-Amance, 11
January, five fifteen in the evening. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 309 a and
Count Thurn to Prince Schwarzenberg. --Bussières, 14 January 1814. "--As
I had announced yesterday to Your Highness, I retired on Bussières,
leaving on the road to Champlitte a strong rear-guard in order to deceive the
enemy on the direction I had taken. This detachment joined me today without
having been, anyway, followed by enemy.
A party sent to reconnoiter the enemy, met
a group of cavalry and infantry, which was towards Grenant. Another
patrol spotted an enemy detachment moving to Champlitte. Both
troops retreated to Longeau at eleven o'clock. I immediately
occupied Grenant with a section of chasseurs and a platoon of hussars.
As soon as my party are driven back, I will cross
the causeway of Champlitte with the bulk of my little corps, trying to
reach there, the road from Dijon, which was already done yesterday when
I received the order from Feldzeugmeister Count Gyulay to assist his movement
I have the honor to inform Your Highness that the mood of people in departement
Haute-Marne is very different from what I found in the Haute-Saône.
The people are here are animated with overtly hostile intentions and
refuse everything to our troops, even food. So far I have, nevertheless,
nearly managed to get just what I have needed.
I send to Your Highness The Journal of the
Empire of the 7th.
An emissary, returning at this moment, tells
me that there will be more than 50,000 enemy troops between Dijon and Langres. It
was said of the army that Napoleon will come to take command; but this
emissary claimed that senior officers would have said that the Emperor
was not coming." (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 312.) --See
also reports of Mortier 13 and 14 January (Archives of the War).
Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2011
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