Friday, 22 May 2009

Campaign in Spain

Spain 1 May 1813


There are two campaign areas in Spain

Eastern Spain – French border to Tarragona

Western Spain - Salamanca to Burgos

Wellington and Commanders


Fourth French Army

During the early months of 1813 a large part of the French armies in Spain were transferred north to form the new armies required to hold the allied advance in Germany. As part of this reorganisation Marshal Suchet was ordered to abandon his garrisons south of Tarragona and maintain his communcations with Marshal Soult to the west at Burgos

Fourth French Army

Spanish Army

In January 1813 Wellington was appointed CinC of all Spanish Armies. His major concern was that Marshal Suchet should be prevented from sending reinforcements to Marshal Soult. To this end he ordered the Spanish corps to cut communications between the two French marshals, and to attempt to capture Tarragona.

Spanish Army


Fifth French Army

Marshal Soult was given command of the newly formed Fifth Army in January 1813. His task was to contain Wellington in the area around Salamanca.

Fifth French Army

Anglo- Portuguese Army

In November 1812 Wellington was forced to retreat from Burgos to Salamanca. The early months of 1813 were given over to resting and reorganising his army. It would take at least six months to make the British army ready to undertake active operations again.

Anglo Portuguese Army

Orders of Battle

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

Tarragona Campaign - 14 May to 7 June 1813

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.

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.