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Battle of Bautzen

From Academic Kids

The Battle of Bautzen was fought on May 21, 1813, and resulted in a French victory under Napoléon Bonaparte against the Kingdom of Prussians and Russians.

The Prusso-Russian army was in a full retreat following their defeat at the Battle of Lutzen. Finally, generals Wittgenstein and Blucher were ordered to stop at Bautzen by by Tsar Alexander and King William Frederick III.

The Prusso-Russian army was nearly 100,000 men strong, but Napoleon had 115,000 under. Additionally, Marshal Ney had 85,000 more men under within marching distance.

Wittgenstein formed two defensive lines, with strongpoints in villages and along ridges.

Napoleon planned to pin the Prusso-Russian army to their lines and then trap them with Ney's troops. However, he became concerned that the Prusso-Russians had more soldiers on than they actually had. Napoleon then decided he would not set up his trap until they had been softened up.

Hours of intense and heated fighting saw the French overpowering the first defensive lines and seizing the town of Bautzen and the Prusso-Russians appeared to be buckling.

By night, the French were ready to cut the allies off from their line of retreat. Marshal Ney became confused and his faulty positioning left the door open for the Allies to escape.

Fighting on the following day was hard and after several hours the early success of the renewed French attacks began to lose momentum.

One again, Marshall Ney became distracted and decided to seize the village of Preititz, and thus he lost sight of the strategic importance of his sealing the Allies in.

The Prusso-Russians, being pushed back and when the Imperial Guard was sent, began an all-out retreat. Without Neys forces to seal them in, they escaped the total slaughter Napoleon had conceived.

Although a success for the French, Bautzen was not the decisive result Napoleon was looking for. Both armies lost over 20,000 men but Ney's failure to cut the line of retreat robbed the French of complete victory.

In the battle, Napoleon's close friend and Aid-de-camp, General Geraud Duroc, was killed in the fighting.

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