Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns

The Campaign of 1814: Chapter Six Part II

By: Maurice Weil

Translated by: Greg Gorsuch


(after the Imperial and Royal War Archives at Vienna)





BRIENNE and LA ROTHIÈRE (26 January.  --3 February).

Motives for Emperor Napoleon's movement on Brienne.  --The resolution taken by the Emperor after chasing Lanskoy from Saint Dizier has often been reproached and the flank march, that he executed almost in sight, or at least a short distance from the army of Schwarzenberg, on Brienne criticized.  If you can, to some extent, condemn the kind of stubbornness that brought him a few days later to deliver, despite himself, it is true, but despite the overwhelming inequality of forces, the battle of Rothière, we cannot however find anything wrong with the movement on Brienne.  The surprise of Lanskoy was enough to show the population they had too quickly counted on their loss, and the operation of Brienne was, in the heart of the Emperor, used to prove the need for the marshals to take courage, that we had not run out of resources and, with judgment and resolve, affairs could still be restored. That is why, without losing a minute, he used the 28th to march on Brienne.  He hoped to fall on the rear of Blücher, beat and destroy it before its junction with Schwarzenberg.  Few have come close to that plan, so boldly conceived and executed so resolutely, since, although it was only successful through the 28th and until chance providence would reveal his danger , Blücher thought it was just an absolutely inconsequential offensive reconnaissance, and thought that the French had only wanted to know if the Army of Silesia was headed on Paris or Châlons, or, in short, that the French had only wanted the make contact.[1]

As we have said, Napoleon was at that time where: he could continue his path towards Lorraine to stop Yorck and meet Macdonald, or push to Chaumont and Langres to meet Schwarzenberg head on, or back down the Aube to follow and strike Blücher.  "Napoleon," Baron Fain[2] writing about these proposals, "stopped on the last course, which would prevent the junction of the Prussians with the Austrian army, which could save Troyes and which in all cases, would bring down his first blows on his bitterest enemy."

This is also why Napoleon chose the shortest route from Saint-Dizier to Troyes, by the forest of Der, although it is a difficult crossroad, but because it was also here that one would least expect to see a debouchment.  Besides, when he stopped at that resolution, the weather was frosty, his army was full of enthusiasm, his artillery well mounted, and by this road through the forest, he could be in at Brienne in two marches.  It is important, moreover, to note, that when he took the party to jump on Blücher, Napoleon had even more reason to do so, as he must have believed that General Dufour had destroyed the bridge at Lesmont, that the restoration of this passage would stop Blücher, and more, by operating in this way he approached his right wing and would be maneuvering together with Mortier. To those who accuse him of failing to prefer moving on Chaumont, it will suffice to observe that maneuvering in that way he would have succeeded at most only in separating Wrede from the rest of the Great Army, who could continue to file unhindered by Bar-sur-Aube or Wassy and Montier-en-Der, to join Blücher.

Sill others criticize the resolution he had taken to move by Montier-en-Der on Brienne and claimed he would have done better, if he had proceeded by Doulevant against Gyulay and the Crown Prince of Württemberg, posted at Bar -sur-Aube and Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, or marched by from Wassy by Sommevoire on Dienville,[3] to cut off communications between Blücher and Schwarzenberg.  The last only has a certain critical value, but it should be noted that by moving on Dienville, he would have been forced to march almost in sight of the troops of the IIIrd Corps, and again, completely sacrifice the most important factor: time.  However, Napoleon felt perfectly that he had no time to lose any chance to retain to crush Blücher, and after having thrown him beyond the Meuse or the Moselle, to turn by Joinville against Schwarzenberg who, on the first news of the complete defeat of Blücher would not have failed to stop and take a defensive position.

Finally, there was still a morale consideration that Napoleon had decided to try and end this one of his opponents, he considered, rightly, as the most formidable and most difficult, because of the his hatred of France and the activity that, despite his advanced age, he put at the service of his passion.  It was all the more necessary to strike a blow against Blücher that, and these are the German authors themselves pointing out, the arrival of the Emperor's army was enough to change in a few hours the attitude and spirit of the people.  Droysen, in his Life of Field Marshal Yorck, speaks about it as follows: "It was clear we were on the eve of major events, the dispositions of the population were completely changed in a moment.  The arrival of Napoleon and his proclamations had aroused their patriotism.  The news that the Emperor had taken the offensive, had revived their spirits and hopes.  The levée en masse itself was taken as grave and serious.  The villages were emptied and the inhabitants, with their cattle and their food, took refuge in the woods, including watching the stragglers and small patrols, ambushing them, disarming them and slaughtering them.  In the cantonments, the crimes and assassination attempts multiplied.  It was now impossible to be deceived for a moment longer about the spirit of the people: the real war had started."[4]

This was what Napoleon had reawaken at Saint-Dizier, what he felt, what he wanted, to allow the revival of the national spirit, in that event, perhaps at a bit late moment for the sleeping patriotism, to generalize and expand, he needed a decisive victory.  It was this victory that he hoped to find at Brienne.

As for Blücher, it is clear that he had not yet made an exact account of the dangers of his situation.  His apologists well say that on receipt of the report in which Lanskoy informed him of the events in Saint-Dizier, he had acted wisely in only recalling to him immediately the cavalry that he had detached; they have a good claim that in awaiting battle formation for the enemy to attack on the days of 28 and 29 January he was merely complying with this great principle that we must first compel the enemy to deploy, while concealing carefully one's own plans and not make a final resolution, a decisive one, that is completely fixed when the intentions of his adversary are unknown, it is nevertheless indisputable that he thought at first to make a simple offensive reconnaissance of the French, when he received, 28 January, at 6 in the morning, the news that the enemy had driven Lanskoy from Saint-Dizier and had continued until beyond Eurville-Bienville.  It was only that night that Lanskoy managed to convince him that the enemy was trying to throw himself with all his strength between him and Yorck and cutting his communications with Nancy.[5]

28 January.  --Measures taken by Blücher.  --Also if there is the smallest doubt about this, the report itself, that Blücher[6] sent Schwarzenberg, is likely to dispel them:

"Brienne, 28 January 1814.  --I learn this morning at 6 o'clock the enemy, probably the reinforced corps of Victor, advanced yesterday from Vitry to Saint-Dizier against my vanguard, posted on the route from Joinville to Saint-Dizier, pushing them back to Eurville."

"The Cossacks say that the enemy was busy yesterday at Wassy.  I gave the order to be sure.  I think it's just a strong reconnaissance made to find out whether we are going to Paris or Châlons.  Perhaps the enemy wants just to make contact."

"The Russian troops from the Army of Silesia are on the road from Arcis to Joinville, between Brienne and Pougy. The advanced guard of Wittgenstein, under the command of Count Pahlen, is located two leagues south of this road."

"The corps of General Yorck was to be yesterday in Bar-le-Duc, if the enemy has not delayed it by any demonstration, and today in Saint-Dizier."

"The vanguard, under Lanskoy was yesterday at Eurville."

It seems, moreover, for peculiar reasons, for motives that become apparent from the following letter, which we have had the opportunity to revisit, that Blücher was not telling the whole truth to Schwarzenberg, because he wanted above all to avoid being sent a formal order calling him back, and that, more than ever, he believed in the ultimate success of the march on Paris.  Moreover, it must be said, the tranquility of Blücher was more apparent than real.  It is indeed clear that the Field Marshal already attached to the news of the affair Saint-Dizier, if not all the consideration it deserved, at least more importance than a mere offensive reconnaissance.

Until this moment, in fact, he could allow that the Emperor, in taking the offensive, had intended only to get closer to Mortier being watched by the Army of Bohemia.  Also believing his left and his rear well covered, the Field Marshal thought he could continue to move on Arcis to be at the same level there, or to outflank the positions of the French on the Marne, or to meet the Army of Bohemia that it is true, he believed on the march and about to reach his level, while on the contrary, it remained virtually motionless in their positions for more than four days.  Also, when he received, the 28th in the morning, the news of the check experienced by Lanskoy he had renounced his movement on Arcis, and as this General informed him of his intention to withdraw from Joinville by Doulevant and Soulaines-Dhuys -Dhuys -Dhuys on Brienne, he thought it prudent to maintain the bulk of his troops between Brienne and Lesmont, while still letting Generals Panchulidzev[7] and Vasilchikov II continue their movements, that headed with their cavalry, the first to Arcis-sur-Aube, the second, on the road from Ramerupt to Troyes.  But he recalled his partisans of Scherbatov, Pahlen's cavalry and the flying brigade of Prince Biron.  Scherbatov, who had until then scouted in front of the Army of Bohemia (this is the major-general of that name) reported as follows to Schwarzenberg, the movement he was obliged to take, to comply with the instructions of the Field Marshal and the new destination just received.[8]

"This morning, having left the village of Donnement to go to Arcis, Major General Vasilchikov communicated to me the order he received from Lieutenant-General Vasilchikov to march faster on Lesmont, to find at the same time my detachment and let me know that I must join him."

"Arriving in Lesmont, I got an order from Lieutenant General Vasilchikov that put me on the road that goes from Giffaumont to Lesmont.  As a result, I came to Maizières-lès-Brienne where I sent parties to Montier-en-Der and to Donnement."

"The parties that I sent this morning to Vitry and Arcis are not back yet, but the first has discovered many enemy troops there in Vitry."

"The news I have had from the inhabitants, is that there are the nearly 50,000 men , there are 6,000 enemy at Arcis and Allied troops are on the outskirts of the city.  On arriving here, a French deserter was presented to me.  He said he saw himself yesterday, Napoleon arriving with 10,000 cavalry, and that the road from Châlons to Vitry is covered with troops."

"The detachment of Major General Prince Biron passing through here, told me that the Emperor was at Wassy and Joinville, and that this detachment would cover the right side of the corps of the Lieutenant General Lanskoy."

The Flying Brigade of Biron, placed one of the squadrons to watch Longeville around the road leading from Sommevoire to Brienne, having pushed the order it had received, up to Hampigny where it arrived late in the evening of the 28th and from where it established its vedettes up to about Brillecourt.

Simultaneously, the Generals Panchulidzev and Vasilchikov II had been notified during the day to fall back on the main body, leaving the side of Arcis and Troyes as observation posts.  Olsufiev was making still tighter quarters in Brienne and around the city.  Sacken was ordered to do so on the side of Lesmont and should, in case of emergency or attack, post part of his corps at Pougy and the other part at Lesmont also.

To complement these measures he thought necessary to take and despite the tranquility which was reported to the Generalissimo, Blücher had, as we have already said, pulled close to him the cavalry of the VIth Corps under the orders of Pahlen who alerted Feldzeugmeister Gyulay of this new destination.  From the very terms of that letter,[9] it is evident that Blücher was nearly as pleased with his situation as he claimed in his dispatches to Schwarzenberg:

"I had the honor to announce to you yesterday that I planned to be today at Piney, because part of the army of Field Marshal Blücher was due at Coclois. But Field Marshal Blücher informs me that the enemy has made movements on his right and General Lanskoy, who was halfway from Saint-Dizier to Vitry, who was expelled yesterday the 27th from Saint-Dizier, was thrown back on Joinville where he left this morning for Doulevant."

"Today the enemy has occupied Wassy and established at Giffaumont and Chavanges.  So far, it is difficult to predict and say what its intentions are."

"General Yorck was to come today from Saint-Mihiel to Saint-Dizier, to post on the right flank of Field Marshal Blücher.  Perhaps the enemy seeks to thwart this junction there?  Maybe he also wants to move from Châlons by Arcis on Troyes and he wants this forward movement to hide from us his true plans?  Finally, it could be he wanted to take the offensive against our right."

"To wait for the outcome and development of the movements of the enemy, Field-Marshal Blücher was halted today at Brienne and has invited me to do the same on my side."

"I was about to stop at Éclance; but because of the movements that the enemy has made this afternoon on the side of Chavanges, the Field Marshal who used all his cavalry under the command of General Lanskoy[10] on the side of Arcis, asked me to post behind la Voire and cover for the moment his right.  I therefore moved myself on Lassicourt. The cavalry of General Vasilchikov monitoring and covering the left flank of the Field Marshal on the side of Troyes, and the vanguard of Your Excellency can easily connect to the cavalry."

"I will have the honor to keep Your Excellency abreast of subsequent events."

As for General Lanskoy, he could have arrived towards evening, the 28th, at Doulevant and was therefore in all probability, able to rally the next day with Blücher.

Movement of the French Army on Montier-en-Der.  --Meanwhile, the Emperor, leaving at Saint-Dizier, the Lagrange Division (of the 6th Corps) and the 1st Cavalry Corps (Doumerc) to cover and conceal the march of the other corps, had continued from the break of day his movement on Montier-en-Der.  His small army marched in two columns.  Victor, with 2nd Corps (less the Duhesme Division, which remained in position all day and only filed that night on Wassy) and the 5th Cavalry Corps (Milhaud), was ordered to follow the road from Joinville until Rachecourt, then, from this point, to stand by the traverse between Wassy and Montier-en-Der.  The cavalry and infantry of the Guard had taken the right towards Montier-en-Der by Éclaron, further right still General Gerard left Vitry with the divisions of Dufour and Ricard and the cavalry brigade of General Piquet, and flanking the right of the army while marching on the road from Vitry to Brienne.

The 5th Cavalry Corps (Milhaud) arrived at eleven o'clock at night in Longeville-sur-la-Laines. General Milhaud took possession Boulancourt, half a league from Longeville, by a brigade of light cavalry and three light infantry companies.  The division of dragoons of Lhéritier was posted a little behind Longeville with one of his brigades at Louze.

But the frost had been succeeded the 27th, by rain and thaw, and the artillery of Victor only succeeded with great difficulty to get out of the mud holes of the roads through which it had to move on from Rachecourt.

Despite the enormous difficulties they had to overcome, however, troops arrived on the 28th in the evening at Montier-en-Der.[11]  Marmont, after waiting in Saint-Dizier, for the return of reconnaissance sent to Bar-le-Duc and Ligny, where his horse had found no trace of the Allied troops since they arrived only a few hours later at Bar-le-Duc, moved at four o'clock in the afternoon with 1,200 infantry (a brigade of the division of Lagrange) and the 1st Cavalry Corps on Éclaron to continue his march on Wassy on the following day.  There remained, therefore, in Saint-Dizier, General van Merlen with 800 infantry, 400 horse and 4 guns.

General Gerard took a position with the division Ricard, before Arzillières-Neuville; the Dufour division remained behind Braux-le-Comte.[12]  As for the cavalry of General Piquet, although it had received orders to push further, on the night of the 28th, to Montier-en-Der, it could not get there until the 29th in the morning.  Finally, in the presence of the movement of Blücher on Brienne, the Chief of Staff, on the order of the Emperor had prescribed to Macdonald the evening of the 28th by a dispatch that the Marshal received at Rethel on the 29th in the morning to concentrate more quickly on Châlons and strongly head on this point, instead of going, as wanted in a previous order on Sainte-Menehould.

To avoid interrupting the sequence of operations and movements between the Aube and the Marne, we further reveal the specifics of the march of the Duke of Tarente from Namur on Châlons and Vitry.

Lieutenant Colonel Bénard taken by the Cossacks of Scherbatov.  --It was at this time also that the vagaries of fortune came to serve and save Blücher.  From the evening of the 27th, the Emperor had sent from Saint-Dizier for Arcis-sur-Aube and Troyes officers carrying orders directing Mortier to approach him so as to form, from 29th, the right of the army.  Serendipity completely unsealed the eyes of Blücher and allowed him to still take timely steps to cope with a danger he feared, but he believed neither as serious nor so imminent.

Before speaking here of the various dispatches intercepted and the originals which are in the Archives of the War in Vienna, it seems useful to reproduce the very terms in which the capture of Lieutenant-Colonel Bénard was reported in the Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monat Januar[13] on the date of 28 January:  "Scherbatov took on the road to Arcis, a French officer sent by Berthier to Mortier at Troyes and carrying orders directing the Marshal to rally, the 29th, with the right wing of Napoleon.  This dispatch, intercepted, saved the Army of Silesia, in revealing to the Allies the projects of the Emperor and by immobilizing the Guard on the of Troyes."

The Kurzgefasste Darstellung der Kriegsbegebenheiten der schlesischen Armee naturally attaches much less importance to this fact that would have happened, it said, and after the German authors, the 29th.  It merely says: "The riders of Blücher took the Lieutenant Colonel Bénard who carried to Mortier orders to leave Troyes with the Old Guard and to rejoin the right of the Emperor.  General Colbert had made a similar movement.  Blücher was therefore reassured about the fate of his left and decided to stay at Brienne. He believed, indeed, that Napoleon was, unwittingly, in the midst of the Allied forces."

The papers and dispatches found on Lieutenant-Colonel Bénard, when he let himself be taken by the Cossacks of General Prince Scherbatov, made it apparent that this officer had completed without a trouble, a first mission, that he had been instructed the 24th at Châlons, by order of Belliard, since General Dufour had executed, previously the movements which were indicated in the dispatch referred to in the postscript of this order.[14] Bénard was less lucky four days later, and just browsing the three dispatches he carried, and especially that addressed to General Bordesoulle, to get an accurate account of the importance to Blücher gained from the capture that gave him a comprehensive knowledge of the situation and revealed, in an absolutely real and complete manner, the projects of the Emperor:

"Order of Berthier to the Lieutenant-Colonel Bénard[15].  --Saint-Dizier, 27 January 1814."

"It has been ordered that Monsieur Bénard, Staff Officer, to immediately go on duty by way of Arcis-sur-Aube carrying very pressing orders to M. General Bordesoulle at Arcis-sur-Aube, from M. Marshal Duke of Trévise at Troyes, and M. General Colbert at Nogent-sur-Seine."

"Berthier to Marshal Mortier, Duke of Trévise.[16]  --Berthier to General Colbert.[17]  --Saint-Dizier, 27 January 1814, 7 o'clock in the evening."

"Marshal Duke of Trévise,"

"M. General Colbert,"

"We beat the enemy at Saint-Dizier; we occupy Joinville, Bar-sur-Ornain, and we are on the line of operations of the enemy."

"Our vanguard is tonight at Wassy, ​​pointing to the rear of the enemy.  Maneuver to reach our right as soon as possible so that a battle taking place, you are united with us.  Vitry is central to all operations."

The dispatches we have just read, by themselves, already contained information of inestimable value to Blücher. They showed him, in fact, the main points occupied by the army of the Emperor on the night of the 27th, and the direction in which he proposed to march the following days.  They informed him, moreover, of the movements that he intended to direct to Mortier and Colbert, and even admitting that, given their importance, these orders having been sent in duplicate[18] and in other ways, Blücher could easily determined by very simple calculation, when these forces would be able to join the Emperor.  But fate, which seemed to strive against Napoleon, had delivered to Blücher a more detailed, more complete and more valuable document: the dispatch from Berthier to Bordesoulle, a dispatch which would clarify some obscure points of the two previous orders and make Blücher absolutely aware of the situation, resources, intentions of Napoleon, of the movements ordained to Gérard, Colbert, even to Pajol, finally clear instructions that were thought necessary to hold the commandant's town of Troyes.

"Prince Deputy Commander-in-Chief[19] (Berthier) to General Bordesoulle.  --Saint-Dizier, 27 January 1814, 7o'clock at night."

"M. General Bordesoulle,"

"We attacked today at 10 in the morning, Saint-Dizier, we have overthrown the enemy, took prisoners and killed the majority.  Our attack was so sudden and so quick that the enemy had no time to blow up the bridge."

"It seems that Prince Cherbatoff (sic) will be directed, with 7,000 to 8,000 men of all arms from Saint-Dizier on Montier-en-Der.  He had to get there on the 26th; and therefore could be, now the 27th, between Montier-en-Der and Brienne.  Presumably he will support Platoff's Cossacks, who came in this direction a few days ago.  Spread the word of our success in Saint-Dizier to General Pajol at Nogent-sur-Seine, and write to him to pass it on to Paris."

"Write the same to the commander of Troyes.  Add to this that we learn much of the enemy artillery is mired in a forest, having wanted to take the road directly from Saint-Dizier at Montier-en-Der."

"His Majesty assumes that General Gérard is currently near Vitry.  It is not known where the Duke of Trévise is: he is believed at Vendeuvre.  The Marshal cannot lose a moment, and  has to move in the direction of Vitry and form our right."

"The Emperor is found on the rear of the enemy that we have cut up and driven on Nancy, and our advance guard tonight, the 27th on Wassy.  We will continue to march on the enemy's rear with a beautiful and good army.  It remains to be seen what part the enemy will take after the new state of things.  You and General Pajol act accordingly."

"The Emperor is very anxious that the Duke of Trévise is not exposed and comes to join his right; that General Colbert, who has no artillery, crosses all the way right, taking information in the country, on the roads, and coming to join us."

"We certainly march on the rear of the enemy.  As he probably will turn against us, it is important that the Marshal Duke of Trévise, Generals Gérard and Colbert join us."

"The commandant of Troyes must hold out as long as possible because it is likely that the direction taken by our army will raise doubts to the enemy.  If the commander of Troyes felt obliged to withdraw, he should do so on Nogent."

"If the enemy should come back to us and that General Pajol was not busy, you will engage with him in the country between the Aube and the Marne to prevent parties to slip through between the Aube and Châlons.  Try to inform everyone what the concerns are in the letter that I write."

So Blücher could say, in sending from Brienne to Schwarzenberg, the morning of the 29th,[20] those dispatches which had been delivered the evening of the 28th or later in the night of the 28th to 29th, without risk of compromise:

"It appears from the documents taken by my cavalrymen between the Aube and the Marne, on the side of Arcis[21], that we have nothing to fear from Troyes and Arcis, as all the enemy forces are pulled from there to cover Vitry." And he added: "As General Yorck should probably be on the high road to Toul to connect to Generals Wittgenstein and Kleist, and that our line would be too long if I pushed on Arcis by Brienne on Bar-sur-Aube I will come near to Bar-sur-Aube with my main body."

"If the enemy comes with his main body  by Joinville on Your Highness, I would take the offensive by Brienne and Bar-sur-Aube, on his right flank, while Your Highness would attack in the valley of the Marne."  It ended by saying: "Please give Yorck and Kleist orders allowing them to act in concert with us."

"I await the orders of Your Highness."

"The movement of the enemy does not displease me, and it is very fortunate that we have intercepted the dispatches."

We have considered it appropriate, although we are still on the events of the 28th, to reproduce the dispatch of Blücher, because it complements the statement of facts relating to the taking of Colonel Bénard, and because that it was necessary to be set exactly on the date and time of capture of that officer.  It is indeed impossible, as claimed by German writers, and after them the French writers, that the bearer of pressing orders, Colonel Bénard, leaving from Saint-Dizier on 27 January at 7 o'clock at night, was taken on the 29th at noon, between Arcis and Vitry, by the riders of Scherbatov and speak of taking 40 hours to traverse on horseback or by post chase between 50 to 60 kilometers.  It is still necessary to note that the Journal of the Grand Army of Bohemia mentions these facts on the 28th, that the 29th Scherbatov, who was already the 28th in the afternoon at Maizières, had to deal with the cavalry Milhaud.  The colonel was taken near Arcis-sur-Aube on the morning of the 28th.  Blücher would otherwise have had to send the Generalissimo the pieces in question in the afternoon of 29th at a time, when already struggling with the Emperor, he would undoubtedly have informed Schwarzenberg of the fight he would have to support.

Bénard himself, moreover, recorded in his report the exact time of his capture.  His report makes in a compelling way and providing the essential fact to say that with this capture, Blücher knew, from the beginning of the battle of Brienne, to whom and what forces he was dealing.[22]

It seemed, moreover, that in the presence of the increasingly deep dissent separating Blücher and Schwarzenberg, on current of ideas that still dominated the headquarters at Chaumont and we shall have to deal with, the reproduction of this dispatch serve better than any complete dissertation might illuminate on the transformation that the valuable warning contained, created  in the tone and attitude of Field Marshal.  His joy is even greater, his confidence in the future even more unlimited and unwavering that he is now safe to escape an almost inevitable disaster without this combination of happy circumstances.  So made aware in a timely fashion of the intentions of Napoleon, Blücher knows now, he will be able to take his measures accordingly, while Schwarzenberg, finding no more delaying tactics to oppose the arguments of Gneisenau, will be forced by the Emperor of Russia to resume the offensive and to forsake the immobility which, despite his efforts, his complaints and reproaches, Marshal Vorwärts could not pull from him.

Movement of the corps of Yorck.  --If the Emperor, in anticipation of events that he would cause, sought to rally around him his different corps, Blücher, meanwhile, had not neglected to recall Yorck to him and to become preoccupied--his dispatches bear testimony--with the movements and speed of the Ist Corps.  Yorck had, meanwhile, received simultaneously, in the morning of the 28th, the news of the action of Captain von Osten at Bar-le-Duc, the march of the French on Saint-Dizier and the presence in Clermont-en-Argonne of a large French column which was reported by a patrol sent by Henckel on the side of Beausite (Beauzée).  But as the ford of Han-sur-Meuse had become impassable for artillery because of the frost that had made the ramp too slippery, Yorck was forced to modify his orders, both to ensure the safety of his troops and to take a little less precarious crossing point.  On the 28th in the morning at Saint-Mihiel[23] he had recommended to Henckel to stay ahead of Bar-le-Duc and enter as soon as the enemy had withdrawn.  He had ordered General Katzler, who had resumed command of the vanguard[24] that day, to follow, where appropriate, the movement of Colonel Henckel or stop at Ville-devant-Belrain if the French remained in Bar-le-Duc, by keeping in constant communication with Henckel.  He had sent to General von Jürgass to order to cross with the cavalry reserve the bridge and ford of Han-sur-Meuse, take the left side of the road to Bar-le-Duc by Courcelles-aux-Bois, Ménil-aux-Bois and Grimaucourt-près-Sampigny, to connect on the right with General Katzler, on the left with the advanced guard of Prince William of Prussia, and push his patrols to Bar-le-Duc.  The rest of the Ist Corps, with the artillery of General von Jürgass, was to proceed on Commercy: the vanguard of Prince William of Prussia, defiling by Commercy had to push to Saint-Aubin and thence Ligny; the 2nd Brigade posted itself at Commercy; the 7th came to Commercy by Pont-sur-Meuse and Boncourt and 1st Brigade marched to Pont-à-Mousson by Gironville to Commercy where the headquarters would also be installed.

Yorck had, moreover, supplemented his general provisions by specific instructions, on arriving during the day of the 28th at Commercy, he had given to Prince William of Prussia.  After explaining to the Prince his ideas in case of the French evacuation of Bar-le-Duc, in the case where Henckel and Katzler would be forced to take the city, Yorck, without news from Blücher since the Emperor, while chasing Lanskoy from Saint-Dizier, had thrown himself between the two great factions of the Army of Silesia, drew attention to the Prince to the fact that troops of Sacken having gone through the Saint-Dizier the 23rd, it was of the utmost importance:  1o to know whether or not the French occupied Saint-Dizier; 2° to find out the direction taken by Sacken beyond this point.  He noted that it was consequently necessary to charge Henckel and Katzler to chase the enemy before them, to send them, with the shortest delay, for news of the precise location and intentions of the enemy at Bar-le-Duc, from which it was absolutely necessary to adjust the subsequent marches of his corps.  He prescribed in addition to the Prince to send from Ligny for Saint-Dizier, an officer and a few horsemen charged to inquire, in Saint-Dizier, of the presence of the enemy in this town, but avoiding the high road from Bar-le-Duc to Saint-Dizier.  He recommended, moreover, as the horses of the vanguard had to be tired, to replace, if necessary, the horses in the country and change as often as deemed necessary to ensure rapid transmission of news. He warned, finally, of the likely presence of Russian troops at Ligny[25].

Occupation of Bar-le-Duc.  --But, by the afternoon of the 28th, the French had evacuated Bar-le-Duc that Colonel Henckel immediately occupied after their departure, while General Katzler established himself at Érize-Saint-Dizier.

Yorck had meanwhile received formal confirmation of the battle of Saint-Dizier and the presence of the French army between him and Blücher.

General von Jürgass arrived at Ménil-aux-Bois.  One of his two regiments, the 1st West Prussian Dragoons, was established in Grimaucourt; he sent a party of 30 men under the command of an officer in the direction of Clermont and patrols to the Bar-le-Duc, while the other regiment (Lithuanian Dragoons) stretched from Ménil-aux-Bois until about Lignières.

As for Prince William of Prussia, after having repaired the wooden bridge at Pont-sur-Meuse, he arrived around 2 at Commercy and in the evening at Saulx-en-Barrois: his vanguard head (1 battalion and 2 squadrons of lancers under the command of Major von Schiestadt) occupied Ligny and had linked with the troops on this side of the VIth Corps (Wittgenstein).  In sum, the situation of Yorck was nothing less than critical.  The Prussian general was aware that Napoleon had just joined his army.  One had heard the cannon from Saint-Dizier and the combat results were known.  The only advantage that the commander of Ist Corps had gained from his continued march forward, was in the occupation of Bar-le-Duc by the riders Henckel.  He had, indeed, linked with the vanguard of Wittgenstein, but these slight advantages were more than offset by the effect resulting from the arrival of the Emperor at the army and the consequences to the morale from the of success of the French at Saint-Dizier.

Also, before embarking on the path from Joinville, Yorck left to himself, without news of Blücher, resolved to march to Saint-Dizier.  Acting offensively on this side, Yorck, once a reconnaissance was made, reserved the option of going back to the Marne to join Wittgenstein or withdraw to the Upper Meuse, if he was compelled by superior force in numbers.

Positions of the corps of Kleist.  --In the latter case  he would have been united with Kleist, who, after his vanguard had reached Konzer Brücke (Consarbrück), with the 10th Brigade (Wittlich), with the 12th (Ruwer and Wassereich), had resolved to continue his march on the left bank of the Moselle by Grevenmacher and pass Thionville and Metz.  Kleist then proposed to resume the road from Pont-à-Mousson to Saint-Mihiel, while General Yuzefovich, with 3,000 men, would move along the right bank of the Meuse on Saint-Mihiel.

Movements Vth and VIth Corps of the Army of Bohemia.  --On the side of the Army of Bohemia, by reviewing the events on the Aube, we have already had occasion to mention the movement of Pahlen towards La Voire and the position it had taken around Lassicourt.  It remains to be said about the VIth Corps that Wittgenstein, continuing his march without haste to Joinville, arrived at Houdelaincourt and that Ilovaysky XII, who was to join his Cossacks with Pahlen, received in the course of the day the order to stop and remain at Vignory.[26]

The Vth Corps had left Bourmont.  Frimont, although he had a most painful march by secondary roads torn up by the thaw, however, arrived with the vanguard at the banks of the Marne at Vignory.  But as the cannons and wagons could not get out of these kinds of potholes, they decided to pass them by Chaumont, with orders to join at Vignory two days later, following the road from Chaumont to Joinville and Saint-Dizier.  Wrede remained in person at Andelot and his army stretched back from near Juzennecourt and Vignory up to Reynel.

Schwarzenberg ordered to Vth and VIth Corps to both move on Joinville, to oppose the march of the enemy and close the road from Nancy.[27]

Movements of the IVth Corps on Bar-sur-Aube.  --He ordered at the same time that the Crown Prince of Württemberg bring his cavalry, the 29th, on Maisons and Fresnay to cover the right of the Army of Silesia and the road from Doulevant to Bar-sur-Aube, and come with the bulk of his corps between Ailleville and Trannes.[28]

During the time Schwarzenberg took these dispositions, as the IIIrd Corps (Gyulay) had made room in Bar-sur-Aube, passing on the left bank of the river, the Crown Prince began his movement in morning of the 28th from Bar . Still completely ignorant at that time, of the events that had occurred two days earlier to the Army of Silesia he still believed in his march on Arcis, as he wrote to Schwarzenberg before leaving Colombey informing him of some small movements and ask to be allocated the road from Dienville by Piney to Troyes.

The Crown Prince, executing the orders of the Generalissimo, quartered his corps at Ailleville, at Arsonval and surrounding communities.  His advanced guard even went by the right bank of the Aube, up to about Unienville, Dienville, La Rothière, and Brienne-la-Vielle, while a flying party of cavalry passing on the left bank of the Aube, headed toward Piney to get updates on the position and movements of the French.

The Crown Prince of Württemberg informed by his outposts of the presence of Blücher at Brienne.  --Interview with Blücher.  --The Crown Prince was not a little surprised when he visited the line of outposts, and when he arrived at Dienville to learn that Blücher was at Brienne-le-Château with a portion of his army.  The Prince immediately went on to the Field Marshal with whom he had an interview and  of which he was careful not to disclose details to Prince Schwarzenberg.  It seems however that, without saying anything to the Generalissimo, he enlisted in order to support the Field Marshal, to stay in Bar-sur-Aube, as his flank would remain with Blücher's Army Silesia around its current position near Brienne and Lesmont.

Here, however, is the singular report that, back in Dienville the Crown Prince sent to Schwarzenberg after the conference he had had with Blücher:[29]

"Dienville (?) 28 January 1814.  --I learned from Field Marshal Blücher that the enemy marched from Vitry by Saint-Dizier on Joinville and they have cut communications from General Yorck with Blücher."

"Lanskoy was chased from Saint-Dizier and thrown on Joinville and Doulevant.  The enemy seems to want to try to prevent Blücher to effect a junction with the Great Army.  General Pahlen arrived today by chance at Brienne. Marshal Blücher will use him on his right."

"I'm going to push it my advanced guard tomorrow to Piney, that Scherbatov monitors."

"I will go tomorrow to Fresnay and Maisons, survey the route from Brienne to Bar-sur-Aube, which is by now, the only communication I have to correspond with Field Marshal Blücher."

Position of the IIIrd Corps.  --Gyulay had, the morning of the 28th, ceded his cantonments to the Württembergers at Bar-sur-Aube, where he had kept his headquarters.  His vanguard was at Villeneuve-Mesgrigny (La Villeneuve-au-Chêne) and it was from Bar on the same day that he wrote to Schwarzenberg on his position, on the outposts of French on the side of Guillotière and on the state of mind in Paris, and the contents of the dispatches which we have reproduced in the footnotes.[30]

Position of Colloredo.  --On the far left, Colloredo, whose headquarters was at Aisey-le-Duc (Aisey-sur-Seine), was entrusting with the task of the direction of this column, the command of the division of grenadiers and that of the cuirassiers to Count Nostitz.  The Hardegg Division covered his left and held Montbard.  On the right of Colloredo, the vanguard of the Light Division of Prince Moritz Liechtenstein entered Bar-sur-Seine[31]; the rest of his division was in echelon from Mussy-l'Évêque (Mussy-sur-Seine) up to Châtillon-sur-Seine; the main body of Colloredo was confined to Cérilly and Bagneux, and Thurn, with his flying corps, stood at the southwest Bar-sur-Seine, at Villemorien, monitoring the roads from Troyes to Chaource and from Troyes to Bar-sur-Seine.[32]

Platoff at Auxon.  --As for Platoff, he continued to invent and build up excuses to justify his incredible softness of command.  He had, finally, arrived at Auxon from Bar-sur-Aube by Bar-sur-Seine; but finding it more prudent not to push forward immediately, he hastened right away to prepare Schwarzenberg for new delays.  Here is, for what it is worth, the curious report that this singular partisan leader sent immediately after his arrival at Auxon[33]:

"Auxon, 28 January 1814."

"After having sent your highness my report of the 27th, I moved myself from Bar-sur-Aube to Bar-sur-Seine, in execution of the orders that were given to me, and I arrived yesterday at Auxon, sending some parties forward to Sens, others to the right on Troyes, and others still on my left."

"On the right, toward Troyes, we discovered the enemy, from which we took about ten men, but to the front and left, absolutely nothing has been met.  My vanguard on arriving at Auxon, took 100 conscripts, 1 Guard captain and 30 soldiers that I sent to the rear today."

"As I march through the back roads almost impassable for artillery, I had to leave behind the tired horses.  I resume tomorrow on my direction towards Sens and the village of Arcis.  I sent parties on all sides: on the road from Troyes to Sens, a party going on Villemaur-sur-Vanne, another on the village of Saint-Liébaut and a third on Villeneuve- l'Archevêque.  Lieutenant Colonel Kostin, with my advanced guard, is before me, at Villeneuve-au-Chemin, covering my front and my left."

Letter of Schwarzenberg to Barclay de Tolly relative to Platoff.  --It seems however that Schwarzenberg began to see clearly at this point the game of the Ataman and was determined to do away with the endless excuses that Platoff invented or at least invoked to explain his inaction; because, in the midst of major discussions and serious concerns that were given him on the day of 28th, the Generalissimo still found time to write twice to Barclay de Tolly about Platoff.  In the first of these letters, he told Barclay, as the vanguard of Gyulay occupied Bar-sur-Seine, it was necessary to prescribe to Platoff (who was under Barclay) to move far away and quickly as possible to the front of the troops of Count Gyulay, pushing towards Paris, to do as much harm to the enemy as he could, especially to attract its attention on him.[34]

In his second dispatch the same day he took the opportunity to offer to him by some changes requested by the Emperor of Russia on the march of Russian cuirassiers and division of Russian grenadiers to add:  "The Ataman Platoff is still, to the great detriment of the troops and of no use to us, in Bar-sur-Aube and around the city, between IIIrd and IVth Corps.  Please urgently order him to take, finally the road of Sens and of Fontainebleau."[35]

Surprise of the grand headquarters at the news of the arrival of Blücher at Brienne.  --If the Crown Prince of Württemberg was somewhat surprised at Dienville receiving the news of the presence of Blücher at Brienne, astonishment was felt at Chaumont, when it was learned that Blücher had preceded the great army to the Aube, putting things into quite a different light and inspiring serious fears for most advisers of Schwarzenberg.  It was just hours after being stopped and the order of march being sent to the various corps commanders for the 28th to 31st, at the moment when it had been decided the move in three columns,[36] converging on Troyes, at the moment when Wittgenstein and Wrede had been prescribed to fallback, the first, by Joinville to Brienne, the second by Colombey to Dienville and then to proceed by Piney on Troyes, when suddenly the movement that Blücher had begun under his own responsibility became apparent.  One can get an idea of ​​the stupor produced by this news in the headquarters at Chaumont, especially when a few hours later, Schwarzenberg received the letter informing him of Blücher's fight at Saint-Dizier, and much more, when the chief and his staff were aware of the terms in which Blücher appreciated his own situation.  The Field-Marshal in that letter that we have reproduced in part, and he wrote on the 28th from Brienne in the morning, added that: "Because even with the limited hold on the French troops, the Emperor was unable to take the offensive and stand on his communications; that nothing, however, could be more advantageous to the Allied cause than such an operation, since they would deliver Paris without firing a shot, but, unfortunately, the Emperor would not take the party to open the road to his capital, and finally that, besides, whatever happened, the vanguard of the Army of Silesia (the corps of Lieutenant-General Scherbatov) being only six days' march from Paris, so it only has to continue the march on this city and to occupy the position Gneisenau had indicated in its Memorandum and you can starve out Paris."

The events seemed to justify the fears expressed by Schwarzenberg's entourage since they had passed Chaumont and Langres.  More than ever they thought they were guilty of Blücher's blame for causing the loss of the road to Nancy and the highway of the Rhine, and Napoleon was to have provided the opportunity to fall on the right, perhaps even the rear of the great army.

Orders for the 29th given by Schwarzenberg 28 January at 11 o'clock at night.  --It should however advise. Schwarzenberg also amended the orders he had given, prescribing the 28 January at 11 o'clock in the evening, Wrede, to stand, move not only on Colombey, but Joinville and to effect a junction with Wittgenstein charged with connecting through Bar-le-Duc with the troops of Yorck believed to have arrived on this point.  Wrede and Wittgenstein had, between them, would assure the Army of Bohemia possession of Joinville. The Crown Prince of Württemberg was ordered to take position in front of Bar-sur-Aube and ordered the same evening, a vanguard of 4 battalions, 4 squadrons and a battery of horse artillery to post, the 29th in the morning between Dienville and Le Petit-Mesnil to serve as support to the Field Marshal.  A regiment of cavalry was to be established with 1 battalion and 1 battery and a half at Fresnay for holding the route from Arsonval to Montier-en-Der and Wassy; finally, a detachment of the same force was to occupy Maisons on the road from Bar-sur-Aube to Doulevant and Joinville.  General Jett was to command these three columns.  The Prince ordered him also to send parties towards Doulevant and Sommevoire to seek to learn about the position of General Lanskoy and the movements of the French, to scout the right of Blücher, observe and take the roads that controlled Brienne from Doulevant to Bar-sur-Aube.  The Crown Prince had set his main body and between Ailleville and Trannes.

Schwarzenberg had prescribed to the IIIrd Corps to be ready to leave at first light, the environs of Bar-sur-Aube; he charged Gyulay with most of the responsibility for the defense of the road from Brienne.  He proposed, in addition to mass the rest of his army between Bar-sur-Aube and Chaumont.  Finally, still obsessed by the fixed idea of ​​an enemy movement against Dijon, he ordered Colloredo halt in the positions he occupied in the vicinity of Châtillon.

The sovereigns consent to the meeting of the Congress of Châtillon.  --Instructions given to the plenipotentiaries. --The day of the 28th was still marked by another event of real importance.  Metternich and Lord Castlereagh, Knesebeck and Hardenberg had eventually teased from the Emperor Alexander the permission to convene the Congress at Châtillon, while continuing military operations.  The conditions that the plenipotentiaries of the Allied powers would bring to Caulaincourt had also been laid down in the 28th.  "France would fall within the boundaries it had before the Revolution, would renounce any influence, direct or indirect outside these limits.  She would formally recognize the reconstitution of Germany formed from a confederation of independent states; of Italy divided into independent states located between France and the Austrian provinces in Italy; the Netherlands, whose territory would be increased and that would be governed by a prince of the House of Orange; of Switzerland, which would resume its old boundaries and whose independence is guaranteed by all the powers represented at the Congress; of Spain under the rule of Ferdinand VII.  The Allied powers have only the right to adjust the boundaries and relationships of countries ceded by France and their states between them.  In contrast, England will cede France's colonial conquests she had made in the West Indies, Africa and America, with the exception of Mauritius and Bourbon.  France should again immediately after the ratification of the draft treaty, with varying delays but all extremely short--not exceeding 15 days--Mainz, Hamburg, Antwerp, Bergen-op-Zoom, Mantua, Palma Nova, Venice, Peschiera, the fortresses on the Oder and Elbe, etc., etc..  It should also undertake to return to the Allies, four days after the signing of the preliminaries, Besançon, Belfort, and Huningue intended to remain in custody in their hands until the signing of the final treaty."

29 January.  --March of the French army on Brienne.  --While Blücher, instead of profiting from his remaining time to maneuver and navigate by the left bank of the Aube, either on Vendeuvre or else on Bar-sur-Aube and firmly unite with the IIIrd and IVth Corps the Great Army, decided to wait on the positions of Brienne and Lesmont for an attack which it was now impossible to doubt, there still seemed to be a question at the headquarters of the possibility of a move by Napoleon from Saint-Dizier on Joinville and Chaumont.  The Emperor, meanwhile, still believing the bridge of Lesmont destroyed, ignoring the taking of an officer sent the 27th in the evening to Arcis, Troyes and Nogent-sur-Seine, expecting, due to be joined by the 29th in the evening, by Bordesoulle, by Colbert and especially by Marshal Mortier had continued in only one column his movement on Brienne[37] by the road of Montier-en-Der Longeville and Maizières.

The 5th Cavalry Corps (Milhaud) marched in front, before the 2nd Corps (Victor) that was followed by three divisions of the Guard under the command of Ney.  Marmont, with the 6th Corps and the division of Duhesme, of the 2nd Corps moved during this time on from Saint-Dizier on Wassy, ​​and from Wassy Duhesme continued on Doulevant and Soulaines-Dhuys  covered in front by the dragoons of Briche stationed between Sommevoire and Doulevant.<[38]

Orders given by Blücher.  --Around 8 o'clock in the morning, the light cavalry of General Piré met, beyond Boulancourt a polk of 300 Cossacks who, after trying to hold the entrance of the defile, was charged by 3rd Hussars and thrown back with loss into the defile.<[39]

Blücher, informed of the emergence of the French on the road from Montier-en-Der to Brienne and the occupation of Boulancourt, prescribed to Sacken, who was still near Lesmont to move himself on Brienne; to Olsufiev to take to position; to Pahlen to deploy in front of Brienne, in the vast plain between Maizières and the woods through which passes the road from Lesmont to Brienne-le-Château.  Scherbatov occupied Maizières with his four regiments of Cossacks who would soon be reinforced by the uhlan regiment of Tchougouiev and four pieces of horse artillery, monitored the road from Montier-en-Der to Lesmont and Brienne.  Lanskoy headed from Soulaines-Dhuys by Chaumesnil to Brienne.  Finally, the Feldzeugmeister Gyulay mandated at the same time one of his brigades to guard the bridge at Dolancourt and another to move on Spoy in support of his vanguard, established in Vendeuvre.


[1] See Kurzgefasste Darstellung der Kriegsbegebenheiten der schlesischen Armee (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 31) and Blücher to Schwarzenberg, from Brienne, 28 January (Ibid., I, 632).

[2] FAIN, Manuscript of 1814.

[3] The Prince of Taxis (Adjutant to Wrede), among others, does not include in his Tagebuch, why Napoleon made a flank march from Montier-en-Der on Lesmont by difficult roads, and believes he would have done better by attacking directly and frontally, the VIth Corps (Wittgenstein) on the side of Wassy, ​​where this corps came on 29 January.  (Tagebuch of Major Prince Thurn and Taxis.  --K. K. Kriegs Archiv., XIII, 32.)

[4] DROYSEN, Das Leben der Feldmarschall Grafen Yorck von Wartenburg, t. II, p. 279 and 280.

[5] Kurzgefasste Darstellung der Kriegsbegebenheiten der schlesischen Armee. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 31.)

[6] Blücher to Schwarzenberg, Brienne, 28 January. (Ibid., I, 632.)

[7] Lieutenant General Vasilchikov to Major General Panchulidzev:

"Brienne, 15/27 January 1814.  --Major General Panchulidzev will go from Coclois to Arcis-sur-Aube.  If there is an enemy, he will try to push it and take this city and the bridge.  If the enemy occupies the point with infantry in greater number, General Panchulidzev will cautiously withdraw and will inform me of his movement.  If General Panchulidzev takes Arcis, he will send riders on the road to Nogent-sur-Aube and will occupy with the Cossacks Méry-sur-Seine and Plancy-sur-Aube.  He will leave everyone at Aubeterre to keep clear the road to Troyes.  Colonel Davydov will go to Charmont-sous-Barbuise with the Hussars of White Russia and will have posts at Luyères and Bouy; these positions will send scouts on the road to Troyes.  Major General Vasilchikov will go on the right bank of the Aube up to Ramerupt and Arcis, and send parties on Brébant and Mailly-le-Camp (road from Châlons to Ramerupt and Châlons to Arcis)."

The enterprise attempted against Arcis, the 28th, failed because General Bordesoulle had taken care to securely barricade the bridge.

[8] Major-General Prince Scherbatov to Prince Schwarzenberg, Maizières, 28 January. (original in French.  -K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 631.)

[9] Pahlen to Feldzeugmeister Count Gyulay, Brienne, 28 January, 4o'clock in the afternoon. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, ad. 625.)

[10] Pahlen commits a mistake.  This was General Panchulidzev not General Lanskoy, who had been sent to the side of Arcis.

[11] Grouchy (Mémoires) indicated the positions, the 28th at night, as Maizières for the vanguard of the 2nd Corps, supported by two divisions of dragoons, and bringing the rest of 2 infantry corps up to Longeville.  There is evidently a mistake, since it is undisputed that Scherbatov occupied Maizières and remained there until the 29th, and the 2nd Corps arrived very late on the evening of the 28th at Montier-en-Der.

[12] Koch made a mistake by saying that Dufour occupied, the 28th, Braux-le-Comte since Pahlen pushed outposts towards evening to these points on this side meeting nothing.  --See LÜTZOW, Beiträge zur Kriegsgeschichte 1813-1814, p. 173.

[13] K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30.

[14] "Order of the Lieutenant-General Belliard to Colonel Bénard.  --Châlons, 24 January 1814.  --"It is ordered that Monsieur Bénard, Staff Officer, to immediately leave on duty to go to Bar-sur-Aube, through Arcis-sur-Aube and Brienne-le-Château, carrying very pressing orders for M. Marshal Mortier. His mission completed, he will take the news of Marshal and return on the headquarters."

"P. S.  --In passing through Brienne-le-Château, the officer shall deliver the dispatch addressed to General Dufour. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 657, d.)

Colonel Bénard, returned from the first mission had reported to the Emperor of what he had seen, and Napoleon writing to Victor, from Vitry, the 26th at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, said, among others "Colonel Bénard, my aide, who went through the whole corps of Blücher, estimated them to be no more than 20,000 to 25,000 men." (Correspondance, no 21.138).

[15] K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I. 167, f.

[16] Ibid., I, 657, c.

[17] Ibid., I, 657, d.

[18] On the 28th, at 10 o'clock in the morning they had, indeed, been sent again to Mortier, by an officer of the 38th Regiment, ordered to join the army.  From the 28th to the night of the 30th, we no longer find any trace of orders sent to the Duke of Trévise.

[19] K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 623.

[20] Blücher to Schwarzenberg, Brienne, 29 January. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 657.)

[21] Captain von Hardenberg, taken at Brienne when the château was surprised, confirms in his report that we will be get back to a little further on, our opinion about the capture of Colonel Bénard.  Blücher had sent his dispatch as soon as he received the documents found on the colonel, and had not waited on the French officer to be brought to him.  The report of Hardenberg begins, in fact, with these words: "The headquarters of Field Marshal Blücher was established on 29 January at Brienne.  Around noon, one brought Colonel Bénard that they had taken prisoner, and a few minutes after it was learned that the French were attacking our outposts.  The General immediately mounted his horse with the officers of his staff and his headquarters and marched to the point where the artillery battery was ..." (Report of Count von Hardenberg, Kriegsgeschichtliche Einzelschriften, 1884, T. 5.)

[22] "Report of the squadron commander Bénard to H. R. H. Prince of Neuchâtel, Chief of Staff, etc.,.."

"Sir, according to the order of 27 January of Your Highness, I left (sic) from Saint-Dizier carrying dispatches for General Bordesoul (Bordesoulle) at Arsi (Arcis), for the Duke of Trévise at Troies (Troyes ), and for General Colbert at Nogent-sur-Seine. Experiencing delays at the gate do Vitry-le-François, I arrived before Arcis-sur-Aube THE 28TH, AT 10 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.  I was taken by the Cossacks and led a quarter of a mile on the road to Lémon (Lesmont), by the chief of 400 horsemen.  We rested at Lémon (Lesmont), happily (de bonheur).  On the 29th, I was taken to Prince XXX, commander of the partisans of Pinay (Piney), which, after having read my dispatches, sent me to the Marshal Blucker (Blücher) at Brienne who, during the attack made me go to Bar-sur-Aube, where were the generals Julet (Guylay) and Prince Vittemberg (Württemberg) with their corps.  I think that the Austrian divisions Frenel (Fresnel) and Grainville (Crenneville) were both in the Val-Perdu only at Vendeuvre. On the same day in the evening and overnight, Prussian and Russian troops, who had been battered at Brienne were withdrawn in haste on Chaumont.  On the 30th, in the day and at night they returned."

"On 31st, I went to Nuyseran.  Near Vendeuvre by the Val-Perdu, I noticed the movement of troops since Vendeuvre to Pont Neuf.  On the 1st of February, after the action, the enemy came to be housed in the neighboring villages of Vendeuvre; it was the same during the day of the 2nd.  But instead of regular troops, it was the Guard of the Emperor of Russia, so I decided to go to Vendeuvre the 3rd to find near M. de La Vilneuve information.  He said to have heard from Prince Colloredo that we had been beaten and lost 40 cannons, that they had followed up the success in attacking, at noon the Emperor on Troies.  In truth, I saw in Vendeuvre, and going on Troyes, columns from Brienne and Bar-sur-Seine. The Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia are at Vendeuvre and Prince Scharsenberck (Schwarzenberg) follows."

"I joined the headquarters through the forest of the East, the mill of the Tombelle, where the enemy were mending the bridge; Villevoque, where there was a position of 50 Russians (infantry); Ongon (Onjon) , Charmont and Troyes. At the beginning of the night spent in Piney, on the road to Troyes, 400 horses and a battalion of infantry passed."

We intentionally reproduced this dispatch by copying verbatim.  However, we felt obliged to correct some of the many misspellings of the officer whose capture would be so harmful to us.  Thus he writes Lémon instead of Lesmont, Blucker instead of Blücher, Julet for Gyulay, Vittemberg for Württemberg, Frenel for Fresnel, Grainville for Crenneville, Scharsenberck for Schwarzenberg, Ongon for Onjon, etc..

[23] Yorck, Dispositions for 28 January, Saint-Mihiel, 28 January, 5 o'clock in the morning.

[24] Composition of the advanced guard of Katzler:  1 battalion 12th Reserve Infantry Regiment, the Brandenburg Fusilier Battalion, two jäger companies, 5 squadrons of the 2nd Leib Hussar Regiment, a squadron of the Brandenburg Hussar Regiment, a squadron of hussars of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, a squadron of the East Prussian National Cavalry Regiment, and a horse (artillery) battery.

[25] Yorck, Instructions to Prince William of Prussia, Commercy, 28 January.

[26] STÄRKE, Eintheilung und Tagesbegebenheiten der Haupt-Armee im Monate Januar (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 30.)

[27] Id. in ibid.

[28] The Crown Prince of Württemberg to Prince Schwarzenberg. --Colombey, 28 January 1814.

"I send Lieutenant-Colonel von Rohrig with 2 squadrons, from Bossancourt (Baussancourt) by Vauchonvilliers along the forest edge of La Orient, to move up to the level of the advanced guard of the IIIrd Corps and establish communication between this corps and my vanguard, parties from which I will send today from Dienville by Piney to Troyes."

"As the road from Dienville by Piney to Troyes is a highway, it should be given to my corps, even more so than the columns of Field Marshal Blücher which are established at the same level and so I find myself in this way connected to this army marching on Arcis."

"I request to this effect, the orders from Your Highness, and send a packet of letters which have been found here in the post."

"My headquarters will be today at Bar-sur-Aube. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 629.)

To this report was attached, among other things, a letter from General Pajol addressed by him, 30 December, to his brother-in-law the Duke Charles Oudinot, a letter which has already been presented in one of the passages relating to our subject, and the following order of the Minister of War:

"The General Duke of Feltre to General Chabert, commander of the levy en mass in the Department of Haute-Marne.  --Paris, 15 January 1814.  --Order to employ customs officers, foresters, gamekeepers, the gendarmes and military reformed from pensioners who are found in the territory of the county.  (Letter found at Colombey January 28 (1814) by the IVth Corps, K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 629, f.)

[29] The Crown Prince of Württemberg to Schwarzenberg, Dienville, 28 January. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 633.)

[30] The Feldzeugmeister Count Gyulay to the Prince of Schwarzenberg (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 625):  "--Bar-sur-Aube, 28 January 1814.  --I have the honor to announce to Y. H. that, according to reports from the outposts, the enemy's last outpost reach Courteranges.  They have securely barricaded the bridge of la Barse which it occupies, and the heights on which he holds infantry and cavalry."

"Between Châtillon and Troyes, the road is completely dug up, cut off and barricaded within a half league of Maisons-Blanches.  The road leading from there to the creek of Hozain is also cut and barricaded.  On the road from Troyes to Chaource, the enemy holds its first vedettes near the Roche, but this should be a small post provided by the troops occupying Maisons-Blanches.  These troops also provide the post established in the castle and gardens of Villebertin.  There would be, in Maisons-Blanches, 600 infantry and cavalry.  Despite this and despite the effort it would take to do so, it would be very important and advantageous to drive the enemy from the Maisons-Blanches and settle there."

"I know, from the perfect information secured from Troyes, that the Emperor Napoleon has sent to that city, in the capacity of commandant, General Dillon (sic), there was a conference held attended by the prefect, it is decided to evacuate Troyes at our approach and to go take a strong position near Nogent.  Despite this, the enemy destroyed the roads near Maisons-Blanches and Vendeuvre; raised redoubts, are still working on other defenses, and the palisade of the city."

"The prefect, it is true, left Troyes.  Several senior officers and staff, from Paris, were ordered to go to camp at Nogent where there should be 50,000 men, but they found neither camp or army in Nogent."

"At Troyes, there was yesterday the 27th only 4,000 men, which were reinforced by 400 men and 50 artillerymen from Paris.  They must service the emplaced cannon batteries of Troyes.  In Paris, things are going badly for the Emperor.  He has organized the National Guard, but it is generally believed that it will refuse to fight.  A general consternation reigns in Paris; many people are leaving the capital and flee to the provinces.  One read a week ago, these words painted on the walls of Paris:"

"Peace or death to the tyrant!" (a).

"I extend to Y. H. the attached report of General Count Pahlen (b), who has moved his headquarters from Colombey to Dienville."

"I enclose with this report the latest issues of the Journal of the Empire."

(a) This information can be found in part already included in the report to Schwarzenberg of Thurn, from Chaource 27 January.

(b) This is the report provided further above. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, ad 623).

[31] Liechtenstein sent to Bar-sur-Seine 4 squadrons of O'Reilly's light horse and 2 companies of jägers. (Liechtenstein to Count Colloredo, 28 January; K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 628, a.)

[32] Colloredo to Schwarzenberg, Aisey, 28 January. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 628).

[33] Platoff to Schwarzenberg, Auxon, 28 January (original in Russian). (Ibid., I, 611).

[34] Schwarzenberg to Barclay de Tolly, Chaumont, 28 January. (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 642.)

[35] Schwarzenberg to Barclay de Tolly, Chaumont, 28 January. (Ibid., I, 644 d.)

[36] From this table of march, the center (Gyulay, Crown Prince and Barclay) marched by Vendeuvre and Lusigny on Troyes; the Russian grenadiers and two divisions (2nd and 3rd) of Russian cuirassiers by Arc-en-Barrois, Richebourg, La Ferté-sur-Aube and Clairvaux; Colloredo by Châtillon-sur-Seine, Mussy-l'Évêque and Bar-sur-Seine, following by the left bank of the Seine up to information sent to the Chief of Staff by Grouchy:

[37] The Emperor, or at least Berthier, had received the follow

"Grouchy to the Chief of Staff.  --Dienville-sur-Aube, 28 January 1814.  --My Lord, I have the honor to provide a report to inform you that the General of Cavalry Milhaud has occupied from Dienville, La Rothière and Le Petit-Mesnil; the division of General Guyot is at Brienne-la-Vieille."

"I have before me today about 4,000 horses and 2 polks of Cossacks that retreated slowly and without engaging. The night we took in arriving at La Rothière failed to push them further."

"My opinion, I beg you to convey to His Majesty, is that the corps of Blücher or at least a strong part of this corps is very short distance from here. Considerable lines of (camp) fires cover the entire road from Bar-sur-Aube, and it is easy to recognize that this is not the bivouacs of cavalry, but masses of infantry spaced at intervals along this road. (Archives of the War.)

Grouchy ends by announcing that he has only 8 cannons instead of 12.  A piece was dismounted; the other three lack the gunners, and his artillery was short of ammunition.

The 4,000 horses mentioned by Grouchy are those of Pahlen recalled by Blücher to him that the day of the 28th.

[38] "To Count Duhesme commanding the 3rd Infantry Division (2nd Corps), at Wassy.  -Montier-en-Der, 29 January 1814.  --Monsieur General Duhesme, I ordered the (dragoon) division of Briche to leave at 6 in the morning, to go between Sommevoire and Doulevant and to intercept the route from Joinville to Bar-sur-Aube and from Joinville to Brienne.  I guess it must be done now.  Send your cavalry and two or three pieces, if you have them, to support this division and connect with it.  Move yourself on Doulevant to support this reconnaissance and entirely take possession of the road from Joinville to Bar and Joinville to Brienne.  I have given orders to the Duke of Raguse to visit Wassy with his corps.  I do not suppose he will be there before noon.  You will be under his command.  As has 2,000 men of good cavalry, he will support you...I leave at 10 o'clock for Maizières.  Warn the Duke of Raguse of all your movements and send me news.  If I need you, I'll send orders on the side of Soulaines-Dhuys .  Occupy in force, if there is no disadvantage, the positions between Brienne and Soulaines-Dhuys , so that communications are facilitated."  (Correspondance, no. 21143.)

"To Marshal Marmont, Commander of the 6th Corps, at Saint-Dizier.  --Montier-en-Der, 29 January 1814, 8 o'clock in the morning.  --I have given you the order for you to post at Wassy where you will monitor your rearguard that is in Saint-Dizier...General Duhesme is ordered to stand on Doulevant.  He will be under your command during the whole time he is so detached.  You can place (him) this evening at Doulevant or a little near to Soulaines-Dhuys , to bring him closer to Brienne and observe Bar-sur-Aube.  I think one should throw all your cavalry, with that of General Duhesme of Bar-sur-Aube, Joinville and Brienne.  Do not leave Saint-Dizier nor Doulevant without order.  (Correspondance, no. 21144.)

[39][39] PETIET, Journal of the Light Cavalry Division of the 5th Corps; Major Mareschal to Schwarzenberg, Ailleville, 29 January.  (K. K. Kriegs Archiv., I, 652.)


Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2011

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