2 May 1813

The Napoleonic Guide's Suggested Tours

With a Prusso-Russian army of some 100,000 men moving on a small French force at Leipzig, Napoleon Bonaparte decided to intercept the enemy.

At the head of 120,000 men, the French emperor detached Marshal Ney's III Corps at Lutzen to use part of it as bait to attract the attention of the enemy commanders Count Wittgenstein and General Blucher.

The plan worked and the Allies launched an immediate attack that ran into stiff resistance from two divisions in strong defensive positions in villages to the south of Lutzen.

As the battle raged hotter Ney fed reinforcements in to help his defenders, while Bonaparte was sending reserve troops in to the marshal's aid.

By the time Bonaparte arrived on the field the French were more than 110,000 strong and pressuring the Allies from the flanks.

In the early evening, the emperor ordered his Guard forward and, together with flank assaults, drove the Russians and Prussians into retreat.

French casualties were up to 20,000 while the Prusso-Russian losses of up to 20,000 would have been considerably worse if the depleted French army had not been hamstrung by a shortage of cavalry.




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