Battle of Leipzig
Battle of the Nations is its other name. It took place between 16th and 18th October 1813 at Leipzig, Saxony. It culminated the German “War of Liberation.” Among all the Napoleonic wars, it was the biggest battle in terms of the amount of artillery and number of troops engaged. A coalition of Russian, Austrian, Prussian and Swedish troops fought against the French Army of Napoleon. Napoleon’s army also included Germans from the Confederation of Rhine, Italian and Polish troops. It was the largest battle in Europe before the 1st World War as it involved over 600,000 soldiers. Napoleon I, Frederick Augustus I, Joachim I, Prince Poniatowski, Duke of Taranto, Duke of Belluno, Duke of Ragusa and the Duke of Elchingen led the French troops and their allies. The coalition side commanders and leaders were Alexander I, Prince Barclay De Tolly, Grand Duke of Constantine, Count Platov, Prince of Schwarzenberg, Count Benningsen, Crown Prince Charles John, and Count von Blucher.
The French and allied contingents side had a total of 225,000 soldiers. These were 160,000 from France, 15,000 Poles, 10,000 Italians, and 40,000 Germans. The coalition armies had a total of 380,000 soldiers. They included 145,000 Russians, 115,000 Austrians, 90,000 Prussians and 25,000 Swedish soldiers. The Napoleon side had about 700 cannons to its disposal while the allied contingents had about 1500 cannons. The allied side had 101,000 infantrymen and 26,000 cavalries while the French had 151,300 infantrymen and 41,300 cavalries. There was the use of heavy cavalries armed with long and straight sabers or broadsword. The light cavalries had short and curved sabers. All cavalry men used pistols, carbines and rifles. Heavy cavalry composed of large and required big strong horses. As a result, there was a deficiency in speed and endurance. Body armor used included cuirass and helmet. The cuirass protected the soldiers against shots fired from muskets and pistols from long distances. The helmet protected the head from many blows and cuts. The Napoleonic battles’ basis was the infantry. Musket, bayonet and carried a knapsack, water bottle, ammunition pouch and a blanket or a greatcoat included some of the weapons used by the infantry men. They also wore helmets and cuirass.
During the French Invasion of Russia in 1812, the French and allied forces reduced and severely weakened. This even went up to a point where Prussia and Austria broke their alliance with France and switched camps. Napoleon army was no longer ‘invisible’ and ‘unbeatable’. Therefore, France and the allies were already psychologically troubled having to face the army that had defeated them the previous year, and due to the camp shift by the Austrians and Prussians, the number of Frenchmen and their allies reduced. The Austrians and the Prussians knew the French tactics and would use them against the Napoleon Army. An outnumbered side of a battle has extremely slim chances of winning. On the other hand, the Russian, Austrian, Prussian, and Swedish army came to the war being psychologically powerful. This is because they had a greater number and had defeated the Napoleon army the previous year. Scheme of maneuver
Napoleon’s plan was to take the offensive between the Pleisse and the Parthe rivers. The terrain in Leipzig had many separate sectors because of the rivers that converged there. Napoleon would be able to shift troops from one sector to another faster than the opponents by taking control of Leipzig and its bridges. To the north, the defence was by Ney and Marmont, and MacDonald defended the Eastern front. The ambulances, artillery reserves and parks, and baggage had their storage place near Leipzig. Augereau and the “intrepid Poniatowski” defended the western flank. According to Tsar Alexander, the Russian troops of Grand Duke Constatine and Barclay de Tolly would go to the right of the Pleisse River. Karl Schwarzenberg had the overall command and directed that the...
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