Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


The Saxon Army 1810 - 13

Part VI:   Orders-of-Battle - The Campaigns of 1812 - 13 (Continued)

By Howard Giles

Sketches by Geoff Gibbs

Germany: 1813

Whilst Napoleon reconstructed the Grande Armee for the approaching struggle, the survivors of 1812 were entrusted with holding the Russians and Prussians at ba:y. ‘VII Corps’ was assigned to the Army of the Elbe. Towards the end of March, the surviving Saxons left Durutte (Reynier had fallen ill) and joined Thielmann at Torgau. The town and bridge were held against both sides on the orders of King Friedrich Augustus, who was desperately trying to follow Austria's example of armed neutrality. Napoleon acted swiftly, threatening dire consequences if the King did not return to the fold. On 10 May, he gave in, and the next day a division (to be designated the 24th, joined VII Corps, which consisted of the 32nd Division, commanded by Reynier. Thielmann defected to the Allies. As part of Ney's Auxilliary Army, the corps fought well at Bautzen on May 21, and at Reichenbach the next day.

During the armistice, VII Corps was brought up to strength, with an establishment of one French and two Saxon divisions. The Corps was assigned to Oudinot's army. and when hostilities recommenced in August, marched against Berlin and Bernadotte. After initial success, Reynier was caught by Bülow at Grossbeeren on the 23rd and defeated, losing over 2000 men. On 29 August, the Prinz Maximilian Battalion was captured at Luchau, where it had formed part of the garrison. Worse still, on 6 September, Ney, who now cominanded the army, marched into an allied trap at Dennewitz -- badly outnumbered, Reynier fought skillfully, but Ney threw the battle away by charging sword in hand into the fighting instead of co-ordinating what could have become a decisive victory. Despite the bravery of the Saxon troops, VII Corps was eventually overwhelmed by furious Prussian attacks and forced to retreat with heavy losses, including 3000 Saxons, 12 guns, and 40 wagons.

The Saxons were now clearly disillusioned with Napoleon, and no longer wished to fight for the man that prolonged the suffering of Saxony. Throughout the campaign, formations gradually defected to the Allies; for example. on September 23, Battalion König passed over to the eremy.

VII Corps was reorganised after the disaster st Dennewitz, the remaining Saxons becoming the 24th Division. XII Corps was disbanded, the shattered formations becoming Guilleminot's division of VII Corps. Durette's division remained with Reynier, the total strength of all three divisions being about 18,000 men.

A new Heavy Cavalry Brigade took the field in 1813, consisting of the previously untouched Leib Kürassiere and the reformed Zastrows. Fighting with distiction, the Brigade's greatest success was at Dresden where, for the lose of 1 officer, 8 men and 13 horses, the 4th squadron of the Leib Kürassiere and the Zastrow Regiment captured the Hungarian ‘Wacquant’ Infantry Regiment No. 62, taking 2 colours, and a cannon. The Brigade took a leading part in Murat's great cavalry charge at Wachau, during the Battle of Leipzig but, by 19 October, had lost over three-quarters of the men engaged. The Heavy Cavalry were vitually the last Saxon troops to defect to the Allies.

When VII Corps joined Napoleon's army at Leipzig on October 17, the 24th Division mustered 4544 Officers and men, with 38 guns. On the 18th, the Saxons were posted at Sellerhausen, to support the French front line at Paunsdorf. During the morning, a conference was held by Saxon Officers, who decided to defect with their men at the first opportunity. This came when the Prussians stormed Paunsdorf. forcing the French to fall back. At 4.30 pm, with the French too preoccupied to stop them. the two Saxon brigades marched over to the Allies, turning their guns on their late comrades. The Saxon Chief of Staff, Von Zeschau, managed to recall 617 Officers and men and these were posted in front of the King's quarters in Leipzig, where they were captured the next day along with the French rearguard.

When the Heavy Cavalry and one or two other detached units defected after the battle, Napoleon found that he no longer had any Saxon allies;

‘He designated the defection of the Saxons by the title of treason; but his condition having lowered his pride, he suffered himself to be informed that the ill conduct of his soldiers, the spoilers of Saxony, had excited the hatred of the Nation and Army’.

- Odeleben

Order of Battle: 11 May 1813

Saxon Division: Generalmajor Sahrer von Sahr

Chief of Staff: Major von Cerrini

1st Brigade Generalmajor von Mellentin
Leib Grenadier Garde 1 Battalion
Prinz Friedrich August 1 Battalion
Von Steindel 1 Battalion
1st Light Infanty (von Lecoq) 1 Battalion
Jäger 1 Company
1 Foot Battery (Hauptmann Klengel) 6 guns
   
2nd Brigade Oberst von Bose
Anger Grenadier Battalion 1 Battalion
Prinz Anton 1 Battalion
Von Low 1 Battalion
2nd Light Infantry (von Sahr) 1 Battalion
1 Foot Battery (Hauptmann Rouvroy) 6 guns
   
Cavalry Brigade Oberstlieutenant von Lehmann
Hussars 1 Squadron
Uhlans 1 Squadron
Combined Squand of the Regiments: Prinz Johann, Prinz Albrecht, and Polenz 1 Squadron

Total: 8 Battalions, 1 Company Jäger, 12 Guns, 300 Horses

Order of Battle: August 1813

VII Corps: General de Division Reynier

24th Division Generallieutenant Edler von Lecoq
1st Brigade Oberst von Brause
1st Battalion, Leib Grenadier Garde 1 Battalion
1st Light Infantry (von Lecoq) 2 Battalions
1st Battalion, Prinz Maximilian 1 Battalion
2nd Battalion, von Rechten 1 Battalion
2nd Brigade Generalmajor von Mellentin
von Spiegel Grenadier Battalion 1 Battalion
Prinz Friedrich August 2 Battalions
von Steindel 2 Battalions
Divisional Artillery Major von Roth
1st Foot Battery Hauptmann Kuhnel (8 guns)
2nd Foot Battery Hauptmann Rouvroy (8 guns)
Attached to the Division  
Pioneers 1 Company
   
25th Division Generallieutenant Sahrer von Sahr
1st Brigade Oberst von Bose
von Sperl Grenadier Battalion 1 Battalion
2nd Light Infantry (von Sahr) 2 Battalions
1st Battalion, König 1 Battalion
2nd Battalion, Niesemeuschel 1 Battalion
2nd Brigade Oberst von Russel
Prinz Anton 2 Battalions
von Low 2 Battalions
Divisional Artillery Major Gau
3rd Foot Battery Hauptmann Dietrich (8 guns)
4th Foot Battery Hauptmann Zandt (8 guns)
   
32nd (French) Division General de Division Durutte
1st Brigade De Vaux
1st Battalion, 35th Light 1 Battalion
3rd and 4th Battalions, 131st Line 2 Battalions
3rd and 4th Battalions, 132nd Line 2 Battalions
2nd Brigade Jarry
4th Battalion, 36th Light 1 Battalion
3rd and 4th Battalions, 133rd Line 2 Battalions
2nd and 3rd Battalions, Würzburg Regiment 2 Battalions
Divisional Artillery  
2 Foot Batteries 16 guns
   
Corps Reserve Artillery  
1 Foot Battery Hauptmann Rouvroy (8 guns)
   
Corps Cavalry  
26th Light Cavalry Brigade Generalmajor von Gablenz
Hussars 8 Squadrons
Prinz Clemens Uhlans 5 Squadrons
2 Horse Batteries 12 Guns
   
Detached Units  
Pontoon Train 1 Company
   
Saxon Heavy Cavalry Brigade
1st Cavalry Corps
Generalmajor Lessing
Leib Kürassiere Garde 4 Squadrons
Zastron Kürassiere 4 Squadrons
   

 

 


 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2001

 

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