Battle of La Rothière
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|Battle of La Rothière|
|Part of the War of the Sixth Coalition|
Württemberg dragoons charging French infantry
|French Empire|| Prussia
|Commanders and leaders|
|Napoleon I||Gebhard von Blücher
M. Barclay de Tolly
Karl von Wrede
|Casualties and losses|
|5,600 dead, wounded or captured
|6,000–7,000 dead or wounded|
The Battle of La Rothière was fought on 1 February 1814 between the French Empire and allied army of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and German States previously allies with France. The French were led by Emperor Napoleon and the coalition army was under the command of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. Attacked by a large force in severe weather conditions (wet snowstorm), the French managed to hold until they could retreat under cover of darkness. Multinational coalition forces used white shoulder bands to distinguish friends from foes during the battle. La Rothière was Napoleon's first defeat on French soil.
The French army counted about 45,000 men in 57 battalions and 62 squadrons, supported by 128 artillery pieces. The Imperial Guard was commanded by General of Division Philibert Jean-Baptiste Curial. Marshal Claude Perrin Victor led the II Corps with three infantry divisions under Generals of Division François Antoine Teste, Jean Corbineau, and Georges Mouton. General of Division Emmanuel Grouchy led the cavalry. On the Allied side, Prince Scherbatov led the Russian 6th Corps, General-Leutnant Olssufiev directed the Russian 9th Corps, Count Liewen III commanded the Russian 11th Corps, Feldzeugmeister Ignaz Gyulai led the Austrian 3rd Corps, Crownprince William I of Württemberg directed the 4th Corps, General der Kavallerie Karl Philipp von Wrede commanded the Austro-Bavarian 5th Corps, and there were several independent cavalry divisions.
Historian Digby Smith stated that French losses numbered 4,600 killed and wounded. The Allies captured an additional 1,000 soldiers and 73 guns. The large loss of artillery was partly due to Allied cavalry superiority and partly due to the soggy condition of the ground, which made it difficult to withdraw the pieces. The victorious Allies lost between 6,000 and 7,000 casualties.
- Smith, 491-492
- Chandler, David G. (1966). The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York, NY: Macmillan.
- Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.