Thursday, 4 June 2009

Campaign Diary

Following the retreat from Moscow of the previous year, the French army started the new year in disorder. The few survivors of the retreat were grouped around Magdeburg on the river Elbe in northern Germany. The Russian army was not much better off, and had halted around Dresden.

Many of the best brigades were withdrawn from Spain to form the cadres for the new French Army being formed throughout France and Germany. Napoleon's allies were pressed to provide new bodies of troops.

The French abandoned southern and eastern Spain and concentrated their armies in northern Spain.

The French armies in Germany were brought up to strength and divided into three army groups. First Army would assemble at Erfurt in central Germany. Second Army at Magdeburg in northern Germany. Third Army at Munich in southern Germany.

Those in Spain would form two armies. Fourth Army at Burgos in central Spain. Fifth Army would be responsible for northern Spain.

England, Spain and Russia were at war with France. During the early part of April they formed a secret alliance with Austria and Prussia for a concentrated attack on Napoleon and a drive on Paris. The offensive would commence on 1 May 1813.

May 1 to 16 - Magdeburg Campaign

The Prussian army crossed the river Elbe and won the battle of Calbe on 5 May. Two days later they won again at Colbitz. They were now firmly established on the west bank. On 10 May the French were again defeated at Halbeck.

The Prussians now turned their attention to Magdeburg. As they approached the city the French withdrew, and moved north. The Prussians were thrown into confusion at this unexpected move, and were completely unprepared for the French major attack at Magdeburg. The result was a French victory. The Prussians held Magdeburg, but had to retire across the river Elbe.

The campaign ended with a limited Prussian victory. They had taken, and held, Magdeburg. But they had failed to secure the line of the river Elbe, and the French were now concentrated and in position to oppose any crossing of the river.

May 14 to 7 June - Tarragona Campaign

Marshal Suchet controls the coastal area of north east Spain from the French border to Tarragona.

To prevent him from sending support to Marshal Soult at Burgos, he has ordered Captain-General Copons to create a disturbance. The Spanish occupy Lerida in the north to lure a French army into the mountains. They then lay siege to Tarragona.

The French are held at Reus and retreat into the city. The siege is soon raised at Prades. The French concentrate and cut the Spanish army in half at first battle of Cambrils, but fail to crush the whole army at the second battle of Cambrils.

The French then have to retire to Barcelona to keep their communications with Spain open, and the Spanish again surround their garrisons at Lerida and Tarragona.

The French have failed to destroy the Spanish, and the latter have achieved their campaign objectives of containing all of the French forces in eastern Spain.

May 17 to 13 June - Halle Campaign

Marshal Kutuzov is resting his army at Dresden after the horrors of the 1812 campaign. However Blucher, at Magdeburg, is insisting that he bring his army forward to protect the Prussian flank. He reluctantly agrees to do so.

Napoleon is busy at Fulda building his new Grand Armee, so the river Saale is only thinly held by the French. Kutuzov has easy early success, and eventually manages to cross the river at Halle. However in the final battle of the campaign Napoleon pushes him back over the river and back towards Leipzig.

Napoleon has managed to hold the river line, but not to defeat the Russian army. Kutuzov has therefore managed to secure the Prussian flank and the allies hold a firm line from Magdeburg to Dresden.


  1. Hi,

    I just wanted to say that I'm enjoying your blog - so much in fact that I'm now thinking of launching my own Napoleonic blog in the next few months, so I can make use of my old figures! Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Hi Craig

    sorry it has taken me so long to reply, but I have just discovered your post. It should come to me before it appears on the blog, but something went wrong!

    I am really pleased that you are enjoying the blog. I hope you will continue to do so.

    I would strongly recommend that you start your own blog. Its great fun, and a good way to discipline yourself to achieve your goals. You feel that you owe it to "someone out there" to keep on track!




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