26-27 August, 1813
Napoleonic Guide's Suggested
the battles of Lutzen and
Bonaparte - needing to reorganise and resupply his armies
- accepted a 10-week truce from the Allies.
decision was a poor one as the Allied powers - Austria,
Russia and Prussia - had more available manpower and finished
the truce period far stronger than they had been.
French now found themselves facing an enemy of well over
the north, former marshal Jean-Baptiste
Bernadotte had 100,000 troops, Field
Marshal Gebhard Blucher commanded a similar size army
in the south-east and General Schwarzenberg had 240,000
men approaching from the south.
of the key cities for the campaign was Dresden - the capital
of Saxony - and now the opposing forces moved to occupy
it first. As it happened, Marshal
Gouvion St Cyr and a corps of 20,000 got there before
the other forces.
marshal found the city was poorly fortified and the French
worked feverishly to improve the position. Within a day,
however, the defences were to be tested by some 160,000
dawn on 26 August, Schwarzenberg sent his army against St
Cyr's men but, fortunately for the French, the attacks were
poorly coordinated and were not pressed home to take advantage
of the seven-to-one odds.
French fought hard and gave ground reluctantly. With casualties
mounting quickly, the Allies hesitated and during the lull
in fighting Bonaparte arrived at the head of more than 50,000
now swept the Allied high command and while it decided to
withdraw - the policy being not to take on the French emperor
himself - the field commanders sent in another series of
attacks against Dresden.
a solid day's fighting, St Cyr's exhausted men found the
renewed Allies push too much to withstand and they fell
back from key positions. However, Bonaparte was on hand
and sent his fresh Imperial Guard on to the attack. Within
five hours, they had retaken all the positions lost during
the day of fighting.
reinforcements arriving throughout the stormy night, dawn
saw Bonaparte with up to some 150,000 to send against the
them in the centre, the French emperor then threw considerable
forces, some 35,000 men, against each Allied wing.
the Allied right, Marshal
Mortier smashed through and turned the flank, while
at the other end of the enemy line Marshal
Murat was even more damaging - killing, capturing or
routing 24,000 enemy troops.
saw the Allies decide to withdraw, leaving behind some 40,000
casualties - including General
Jean Moreau who was killed by a cannonball. The French
suffered some 10,000 dead and injured.