Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


The 8th Polish Corps in 1813

By Yves Martin

The campaign in Russia in 1812, was disastrous for the Polish Army. Of the 90,000 Poles who were part of Napoleon's Grande Armee, only 18,000 made it back alive. In early February 1813, Prince Poniatowski began organizing a new Polish corps (the future 8th corps) drawing on all available resources, including the remnants of the Poles who went into Russia and scattered French units. He was able to form a corps of two infantry and two cavalry divisions. Each division was composed of 6 regiments. Infantry regiments had a strength of 500 men, while cavalry 330 men. The artillery was organized into 6 batteries and the French formed a special battalion (500 men).

Meanwhile, Dabrowski was busy in Wetzlar reorganizing his own division and sending what he could spare to Poniatowski. March and April were used to the purpose of organization and by the end of April, the army was ready.

In addition to the troops under the command of Prince Poniatowski, in the early Spring of 1813, the following Polish troops were available for operations with the French:

Danzig (blockade): 3 regiments under Prince Michal Radziwill: 6000 men

Magdeburg: 3 regiments, remnants from Girard's Division which had covered the Berezina crossing, then were transferred to Prince Eugene, moved on to Frankfurt-am-Oder: 1500 men

Prince Eugene: 6 Lithuanian regiments

Hamburg (Davout): 2 Lithuanian cavalry regiments

Spandau (under General Cichocki): a small 'detachment'

Wittemberg (General Bronikowski): strong detachment and the Vistula Legion (4 regiments, 4000 men)

Dabrowski's Division in Wetzlar had about 5000 men who were the remnants of the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 15th Infantry Regiments, the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 14th, and 15th Cavalry Regiments and one artillery regiment.

Dabrowski's Division

By decree dated 18 April 1813, Napoleon reorganized Dabrowski's Division as the following:

2nd and 14th Infantry Regiments

2nd and 4th Lancer Regiments

One horse artillery company with 6 guns

All were to be on the French payroll.

Poniatowski's corps in Krakow

Poniatowski's corps, of approximately 10,000 men, left Krakow on 5th May 1813 and crossed the Polish/Austrian border on 9 May 1813. It joined the Grande Armée in Zittau during the Pleisswitz armistice. By decree dated 27 June 1813, it was named the 8th Corps and was organized as the following:

1st, 8th, 12th, 15th, and 16th Infantry Regiments

1st, 3rd, 6th, 8th, 13th, and 16th Light Cavalry Regiments

1 Cuirassier Regiment

1 Krakus Regiment (newly formed from Krakow volunteers)

One horse artillery battery (6 guns)

Six foot artillery companies (foot)

One artillery train company

One sapper company

One train des equipages company

One gendarmerie company

The corps in itself did not move before the end of September. It was reviewed by the Emperor on 24 September 1813 and left the following day.

Bibiography

Chelminski, Jan V. and A. Malibran. L'armee du Grand Duche de Varsovie J. Leroy et Cie Editerus : Paris; 1913.

 

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