Battle of Champaubert

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Battle of Champaubert
Part of the War of the Sixth Coalition
Combat de Champaubert, 10 février 1814, dans la soirée.jpg
Battle of Champaubert in the evening of 10 February 1814. In the foreground, the French cuirassiers of General Doumerc. Soon they will charge the Russians and rout them. In the background, Marmont and Ney's infantry attack General Olsouviev's.
Date 10 February 1814
Location Champaubert, east of Paris
3°46′33″N 48°52′51″E / 3.7759°N 48.8809°E / 3.7759; 48.8809Coordinates: 3°46′33″N 48°52′51″E / 3.7759°N 48.8809°E / 3.7759; 48.8809
Result French victory
Belligerents
France French Empire Russia Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders
France Emperor Napoleon
France Auguste Marmont
Russia General Olssufiev  (POW)
Strength
15,000, 120 guns.[1] 3,700, 24 guns.[1]
Casualties and losses
600.[1] 2,400, 9 guns.[1]

The Battle of Champaubert was the opening engagement of the Six Days Campaign. It was fought on 10 February 1814 by a French force under Napoleon I against Russians and Prussians under Lieutenant General Count Olssufiev (1775–1817). The battle was a French victory.

The battle of Champaubert was one of the few times during the War of the Sixth Coalition that France was able to take to the field with a considerable numerical advantage.[2]

Prelude[edit]

Napoleon moved against an over-extended Prussian army in the hope of whittling it down by a series of battles. On 10 February, he caught General Olssufiev's IX Corps of five thousand Russians near the village of Baye just south of Champaubert, a town located in the valley of the Marne, east of Paris.[2]

Napoleon's French army consisted of 30,000 hungry and tired men, including many raw conscripts, and 120 cannons, [3] however the French, nonetheless, enjoyed a six-to-one advantage.[2]

They were commanded in the field by the marshal, Auguste Marmont, under the direction of the Emperor himself.[citation needed]

Battle[edit]

Olssufiev pickets were overrun by 10:00 and although badly outnumbered, Olssufiev decided to fight rather than retreat. His decision was based on the mistaken hope that he would get reinforcements from Field Marshal Blücher in time to prevent a disaster. He was wrong, and Marmont crushed him.[2]

No help was coming and after five hours of fighting, the Russians had been forced to fall-back through Champaubert, and before they could reach Étoges, some of the corps was enveloped by Marshal Ney's cavalry corps.[2]

The French lost 600 killed and wounded out of the 13,300 infantry and 1,700 cavalry that were engaged in the action. The Russians lost 2,400 men and nine guns out of the 3,700 soldiers and 24 guns that were present. Captured were General-Leutnant Olssufiev and General-major Poltaratzky, who led a brigade.[1] A brigade under Major General Kornieloff fought its way out.[1]

Aftermath[edit]

This victory split Blücher's army in two. The next day Napoleon attacked the vanguard and defeated Osten-Sacken and Yorck at Montmirail, before truning and defeating the main body of Blücher's army Battle of Vauchamps on 14 February.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Smith 1998, p. 494.
  2. ^ a b c d e Pawly 2012, pp. 21–22.
  3. ^ Chandler 1999, p. 87.

References[edit]

  • Chandler, David (1999), Dictionary of the Napoleonic wars, Wordsworth editions, p. 87 
  • Pawly, Ronald (2012), Napoleon's Scouts of the Imperial Guard (unabridged ed.), Osprey Publishing, pp. 21–22, ISBN 9781780964157 
  • Smith, Digby (1998), The Napoleonic Wars Data Book, London: Greenhill, ISBN 1-85367-276-9