Friday, 22 May 2009

Campaign in Germany


There are three campaign areas in Germany:

Northern Germany – Hanover to Berlin

Central Germany – Fulda to Dresden

Southern Germany – Munich to Vienna


Second French Army

The Second French army is deployed along the river Elbe from Hamburg to Magdeburg. Marshal Davout has positioned his best troops along the river, 4 corps at Hamburg and 5 corps at Magdeburg. 13 corps is regrouping at Brunswick following the retreat of the previous year. Army HQ is at Hannover, where 6 corps is being formed. Napoleon has warned him that the greatest threat from all of the allied armies, is from the Prussian army commanded by Prince Blucher.

Prussian Army

The Prussian army did not take part in the Russian campaign of the previous year. Prince Blucher has concentrated his four corps around Berlin, and is anxious to march on the river Elbe before Napoleon can reorganise his troops and strengthen his defences.


First French Army

In early May 1813 Napoleon is aware that central Germany presents the least allied threat. He has deployed 2nd (young guard) corps at Gera, and 14th (Westphalian) corps at Halle to hold the forward line. He is reinforcing the shattered 3rd (French) corps at Erfurt, and is himself in reserve with 1st (old guard) corps at Fulda. When all four corps are battle ready he intends to advance to Dresden, crush the Russians and smash the allied strategic centre in Germany.

Russian Army

At the end of the previous year Kutuzov had halted his weary army at Dresden. During the lolng march from Moscow of the previous year they had suffered as much as the broken French army. Well aware that it would take many weeks for sufficient reinforcements to arrive, he is concerned that the French might launch their main attack against Dresden before he can regroup his disorganised army.


Third French Army

Napoleon was not expecting any trouble in southern Germany. The Austrians had fought alongside the French in the Russian campaign. Ney was a sick man following his great efforts during the previous year, and he was given this command to allow him to recover. His three Bavarian and one Baden corps were dispersed throughout Bavaria to recover and regroup.

Austrian Army

The Austrians had been reluctant allies of the French during the Russian campaign. The destruction of the French army allowed them to enter into a new alliance with Prussia to invade France before Napoleon could recover. By1 May 1813 they had gathered four new corps around Vienna and were ready to advance down the Danube valley against Munich.

Orders of Battle

Full orders of battle and photographs of each army and corps can be found on the blog 1813 Campaign Armies.

Magdeburg Campaign 1-16 May 1813

The opening shots of the campaign were exchanged in northern Germany along the banks of the river Elbe. Blucher crossed the river before the French could concentrate to oppose him. He fought three battles on the west bank, and won all of them. However he lost the fourth, and largest, at Magdeburg.

At the end of the campaign he held Magdeburg and two bridge heads over the river. However all of his troops were on the east bank, and the French were ready to defend the west bank should he try again.

Halle Campaign 17 May - 13 June 1813

To support Blucher, Kutuzov leads the Russian army forward from Dresden to the river Saale, where they defeat the French in the opening battles, and even cross to the west bank. However when Napoleon arrives with the garde the Russians are thrown back accross the river and back towards Leipzig.

At the end of the campaign Napoleon holds the east bank of the river Saale, but the early defeats have left his army unable to rout the Russians and move against the Prussians in the north as planned.

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