The Fourth Coalition
1806 to 1807
of Danube Campaign
on the campaign
a watcher from the sidelines, Prussia became increasingly
more concerned at French influence spreading over the minor
German states and, in October 1806, finally joined Britain
and Russia against Napoleon
8 October, Bonaparte launched a surprise invasion of Prussia
and within days had the unprepared, sabre-rattling monarchy
of Frederick-William III
under extreme pressure.
was in danger of being captured and the king's nephew, Prince
Louis Ferdinand, had been killed during the defeat at Saalfield.
14 October, two battles occurred with the French main army,
under Bonaparte, crushing Prince
Frederick Hohenloe at Jena
and Marshal Davout overcoming
astounding odds to defeat the bulk of Prussia's army at
days later the capital of Berlin was captured and within
a month the final Prussian army surrendered at Lubeck, forcing
Frederick William III to run for sanctuary in Russia.
immediately moved against the Russians, captured Warsaw
and would have caught up with the Russian army but for a
brutal clash at Pultusk that allowed General Levin Bennigsen
harsh winter of early 1807 had both sides in camp but Bennigsen
moved within Bonaparte's reach and the emperor set out to
result was the battle of Eylau,
which was one of the bloodiest of the Napoleonic Wars and
one fought in possibly the worst conditions.
blinding snowstorm turned the battle into a mistake-riddled
bloodbath and while indecisive, still cost 25,000 French
casualties and 15,000 Russian ones.
crucial battle of the campaign came at Friedland
where Bennigsen moved against a single French corps only
to be pinned by the skilful defence of Marshal
reinforcements quickly arriving, the French trapped the
Russians against the River Alle and proceeded to destroy
army suffered some 10,000 killed and wounded, but the Russian
dead and injured were up to 25,000.
by the speed of his defeat, Tsar
Alexander met the French emperor on a raft in the middle
of the River Niemen and signed the Treaty of Tilsit.
document slightly embarrassed the Tsar by forcing him into
an alliance with France against Britain, but it humiliated
Prussia by allowing French occupation of that country until
a 140-million franc indemnity was paid, broke Polish territories
from Berlin in the form of the new Duchy of Warsaw and gave
the infant Confederation of the Rhine considerably greater
Bonaparte was now, probably, at the zenith of his career.