20-21 May 1813
Napoleonic Guide's Suggested
their retreat from the mauling at Lutzen,
the Prusso-Russian army of generals Wittgenstein
and Blucher was finally
ordered to halt at Bautzen by Tsar
Alexander and King William
The Allied army was almost 100,000 men strong but was being
followed by 115,000 under Napoleon
Bonaparte, who had 85,000 more men under Marshal
Ney within marching distance.
drew his men up in two strong defensive lines along a 10-kilometre
front, with strongpoints in villages and along ridges.
By the 19th, Bonaparte had set up his plan to pin the enemy
to their lines and then bottle them up with Ney's men but,
concerned that the Prusso-Russians had more men on the field
than they actually had, the emperor would not spring his
trap until they had been softened up.
next day the attack began around midday. Hours of heavy
fighting saw the French overpowering the first defensive
lines and seizing the town of Bautzen itself.
nightfall, the French were ready to cut the defenders off
from their line of retreat but Ney became confused and his
faulty positioning left the door open for the Allies to
on the 21st was hard and after several hours the initial
success of the renewed French attacks began to lose impetus.
Ney became distracted by tactical matters - the seizing
of the village of Preititz - and lost sight of the strategic
importance of his sealing the Allies in.
4pm, however, the Prusso-Russians were being pushed back
and when the Imperial Guard was sent in they began an all-out
While Bautzen was a success for Bonaparte it was not a decisive
result. Both armies lost some 20,000 men but Ney's failure
to cut the line of retreat robbed the French of complete