14 October, 1806


Although overshadowed by Napoleon Bonaparte's nearby victory at Jena, Marshal Davout's stunning demolition of the main Prussian army - more than twice the size of his force - at Auerstadt, has to rate as one of the most brilliant military displays of modern history.

Davout ran into the Prussians while trying to cut the line of retreat of what Bonaparte had thought was the main enemy force.

Realising he was in real trouble, Davout initially went on the defensive in and around a small village called Hassenhausen and was able to beat off a series of disjointed attacks.

For an hour and a half Davout's III Corps held on then, sensing a weakening of Prussian resolve, the marshal went on to the attack.

Shocked by the decisiveness and ferocity of III Corps' assault the Prussians wilted and soon Frederick William III was ordering a retreat.

A rout followed and Prussia's military hopes lay shattered with more than 13,000 casualties and 115 lost guns.




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