Battle of Dennewitz

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Battle of Dennewitz
Part of the War of the Sixth Coalition
Date 6 September 1813
Location South of Berlin
Result Coalition victory
Belligerents
France French Empire Kingdom of Prussia Kingdom of Prussia,
Russia Russian Empire,
Sweden Sweden
Commanders and leaders
France Michel Ney,
France Nicolas Oudinot
Sweden Crown Prince Charles John,
Kingdom of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow
Strength
58,000 100,000
Casualties and losses
8,000 - 10,000 7,000 - 9,000

The Battle of Dennewitz (German: Schlacht von Dennewitz[1]) took place on 6 September 1813 between the forces of the First French Empire and an army of Prussians and Russians of the Sixth Coalition. It occurred in Dennewitz, a village of Germany, in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, near Jüterbog, 40 km. S.W. from Berlin.

Prelude[edit]

In late August 1813, Napoleon decided to order a general offensive to take Berlin, the Prussian capital, with the overall goal of knocking the Prussians out of the war. Marshal Oudinot's corps advanced towards this objective along three separate roads. The fighting that took place on 23 August was essentially three isolated actions at Blankenfield, Grossbeeren, and Sputendorf. In each case the Allies prevailed and Oudinot retreated to Wittenberg. At this point Napoleon appointed Marshal Michel Ney to command.

The battle[edit]

Ney, with around 58,000 men, renewed the advance on Berlin on 6 September, encountering mixed elements of Prussian, Russian, and Swedish troops under the overall command of Crown Prince Charles of Sweden (formerly French Marshal Bernadotte) at Dennewitz. Ney had decided to move his entire army down a single road. While this allowed him to maintain communications with his entire army, the single road stacked his army for miles. As a result, the battle swayed back and forth with the arrival of fresh French and Allied reinforcements throughout its course.

Bülow memorial

There were signs that all was not well in the French army at this time. The French empire was seriously short of cavalry troops and mounts since the 1812 Russian campaign. As a result there was a lack of screening and reconnaissance. The French command situation was also strained, as Oudinot was angered at being placed under Ney's command. Marshal Ney was determined to advance with all haste to Berlin and this, combined with the poor reconnaissance, allowed the French army to walk right into an assembled Allied defense. Initially forced back, the Prussian elements of Bernadotte's army were reinforced by General Bülow and recovered the lost ground. Bülow would now assume command of the allied side for most of the remainder of the day.

A see-sawing battle now developed, but just as the French appeared on the verge of a victory, Ney, not helped by a lack of support from Oudinot, made a mistake that swung the battle. Having joined in the fighting personally and being unaware of the tactical situation due to a rainstorm on the battlefield, Ney ordered Oudinot to form a reserve. This pull back by Oudinot was perceived as a retreat and the Allies redoubled the attack.

Under great pressure, the French were forced back. Bernadotte arrived with his Swedish army on the French left flank. The French, already falling back under heavy pressure, were routed. The French suffered 10,000 casualties, the Allies some 7,000.

Memorial of the battle, built by Schinkel

Aftermath[edit]

Bavaria withdrew from the war as a result of the failure of the Berlin campaign. Other German states were now wavering in their support of the French Empire. Friedrich Wilhelm von Bülow was entitled "Count of Dennewitz".

Order of battle[edit]

Allies[edit]

  • 3 Korps: Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow
    • 3rd Bde: Hesse-Homburg: 2nd E Prus Grenadier battalion, 3rd E Prus IR, 4th Res IR, 3rd E Prus LW IR, 1st Hussars.
    • 4th Bde: Thuemen: 4th E Prus IR, 5th Res IR, Elbe IR, E Prus Jaegers, Pommern Kurassers.
    • 5th Bde: Borstell: 1st Pommern IR, Pommern Gren bn, 2nd Res IR, 2nd Mark LW IR, Pommern Hussars.
    • 6th Bde: Krafft: Kolberg IR, 9th Res IR, 1st Mark LW IR, 1st Pommern LW Cavalry.
    • Cavalry Reserve: Oppen
      • Bde. Treskow: Brandenburg Dragoons, Koenigin Dragoons, W Prus Uhlans.
      • Bde. Malzahn: 2nd Pommern LW, 4th Kurmark LW, 2nd Kurmark LW, 2nd W Prus Dragoons.
      • Bde. Cossacks: Bychalov II Pulk, Illowaisky V Pulk.
    • Artillery 3: 12-pdr Foot (Prus-2 batteries), 12-pdr Foot (Russian-2 batteries), 6-pdr Horse (Prus-3 batteries), 6-pdr Foot (Prus-4 batteries).
  • Swedish Corps: not engaged.

French Empire[edit]

Commander: Marshal Michel Ney

  • IV Corps: General of Division Henri Gatien Bertrand
    • 12th Division (French): Charles Antoine Morand: 1st Bde. Belair (Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Toussaint.
    • 15th Division (Italian): Achille Fontanelli: 1st Bde. St Andre, 2nd Bde. Moroni, 3rd Bde. Martel.
    • 38th Division (Wurttemberg): Franquemont: 1st Bde. Stockmayer, 2nd Bde. Spitzenberg.
    • Cavalry IV: 24th Lt Cav Bde. Jett: (Wurttemberg & Poles).
    • Artillery IV: 12-pdr Foot (2 batteries), 6-pdr Horse (3 batteries).
  • VII Corps: General of Division Jean Reynier
    • 24th Division (Saxon): Lecoq: 1st Bde. Brause (Guards, Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Mellentin (Grenadiers).
    • 25th Division (Saxon): Sahr: 1st Bde. Bosch (Grenadiers, Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Rissel.
    • 32nd Division (French): Pierre François Joseph Durutte: 1st Bde. Devaux (Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Jarry (Lt inf), 3rd Bde. Lindenau (Wurzburg), 4th Bde. Zoltowski (Poles).
    • Cavalry VII: Saxon Bde. (Hussars, Lancers).
    • Artillery VII (Saxon): 12-pdr Foot, 6-pdr Horse (2 batteries).
  • XII Corps: Marshal Nicolas Oudinot
    • 13th Division (French): Michel Marie Pacthod: 1st Bde. Bardet (Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Cacault.
    • 14th Division (French): Guilleminot: 1st Bde. Gruyer (Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Villeret.
    • 29th Division (Bavarian): Clemens von Raglovich: 1st Bde. Beckers, 2nd Bde. La Traille.
    • 29th Lt Cav Bde. (Westphalian & Hessian): Wolff
    • Artillery XII (Bavarian): 12-pdr Foot (2 batteries).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ also German: Schlacht bei Jüterbog (Battle near Jüterbog)

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°58′00″N 13°00′00″E / 51.9667°N 13.0000°E / 51.9667; 13.0000