Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns

The Campaign of 1814: Chapter Two Part V

By: Maurice Weil

Translated by: Greg Gorsuch


(after the Imperial and Royal War Archives at Vienna)




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 Colonel Nabel.

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 and Neuf-Brisach.

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."[1]

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[2] 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.[3]

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[4] 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,[5] 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."[6] and [7]

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,[8] 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 Sonine.

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 Paris.

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).[9]  --10 January 1814.

"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 1814).

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.[10]

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 proclaim:

"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."[11]

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[12] 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.[13]  --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 on Rambervillers.

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.[14]

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[15] 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 horse artillery.

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,[16] 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[17], 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[18]; 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 to Nancy.

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[19] 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 surrounding areas.

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 with him.

I hasten to make my report to Your Highness and all that I can know in the future.[20]

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,[21] "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[22]:  "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 it.

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,[23] 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[24] 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. [25]

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.[26]Schwarzenberg had decided to separate Platoff from Scherbatov from now on, and he had ordered General Toll[27]to 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.[28]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 outposts.

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,[29]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.[30]

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 at Gray.

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 believe,[31] on 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.[32]

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 there.[33] Such 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[34] 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[35] 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.[36]

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[37] 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[38] 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.[39] 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, reached Bains.[40]

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[41] (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.[42]

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.[43]

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.[44]

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 before Belfort.    

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 the 14th.

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 had retired.

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 Bruyères.  Colonel 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 and Saint-Dié 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 at 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 12th.  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 14th.

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)        


[1] Victor to the Chief of Staff, Baccarat, 9 January, and Memoirs of Grouchy.

[2] Report of General Piré to General Grouchy, from Nompatelize, 10 January, at six o'clock in the evening.

[3] "I 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.)

[4] "The 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.)

[5] Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt Armee (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30) and Tagebuch of Major Prince de Taxis (ibid., XIII, 32).

[6] Grouchy to the Duke of Bellune, 10 January, 1814.

[7]Ney was at Nancy from 9 January. (Belliard, Archives of the War.)

[8] K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I. 206.

[9] K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 195.

[10] Thurn to Crenneville, Pressigny, 10 January, 1814 (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 219 a, and  I, 219 b).

[11] Lieutenant Colonel Thurn to Schwarzenberg, at Pressigny, 10 January 1814,  half past eleven at night (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 200).

[12] CLAUSEWITZ, Strategic Review of the 1814 Campaign.

[13] K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 231.

[14] Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt Armee (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30).

[15] Zeitschrift 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).

[16] Crown 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.)

[17] Ney, 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.)

[18] Report 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 tomorrow.

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.

[19] He is the one of the lapsus calami on the part of Scherbatov since the fighting at Épinal took place 11 January.

[20] K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I. 124.

[21] Gyulay to Schwarzenberg (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 2I9).

[22] Schwarzenberg to Gyulay (ibid., I, 236).

[23] We 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 from Metz.

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 are gathered.

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.)

[24] Tagesbegenheiten der Haupt Armee (Ibid., I, 30).

[25] Tagebuch der Majors Fürsten Taxis (Ibid., XIII, 32).

[26] Journal of Operations the IVth Army Corps (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., XIII, 56).

[27] From the headquarters of the Prince of Schwarzenberg to Toll, Vesoul, 12 January (Ibid., I, 274).

[28] Gyulay to Schwarzenberg at Combeaufontaine, 12 January (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 244, and ad I, 244).

[29] BERIAT, according to German reports.  It must refer here to the mill Barillot, to the north of Violot.

[30] Thurn to Schwarzenberg, at the Grand Camp, 13 January (K. K.. Kriegs Archiv., I, 282).

[31] To 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 Piré 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 War.)

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.)

[32] "As 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.)

[33] HEILMANN, Feld-Marschall Fürst Wréde, p. 327.

[34] Tagesbegebenheiten Haupt der Armee (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30).

[35] It 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 him do."

 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. 333.)

[36] Tagesbegebenheiten (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30); reports of Gyulay to Schwarzenberg, from Fayl-Billot. 13 January (lbid., I. 276, and ad I, 276).

[37] Thurn to Schwarzenberg, Gandchamp, 13 January (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 282).

[38] Reports on the information provided to the general headquarters by the emissaries (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 386).

[39] Tagesbegebenheiten (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30), and Wrede to Schwarzenberg. Saint-Dié, 14 January (Ibid., I, 313).

[40] In French in the original (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, ad 344).

[41] In French in the original (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, ad 344).

[42] The 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 War.)

[43] Captain 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 309 b.)

[44] Lieutenant-Colonel 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 on Langres.

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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