Battle of Ostrołęka (1807)

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Battle of Ostrołęka (1807)
Part of the War of the Fourth Coalition
Date 16 February 1807
Location Ostrołęka (now in Poland)
Result French victory
Belligerents
France French Empire Russia Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders
France A. J. M. R. Savary Russia Ivan Essen
Strength
20,000 25,000

The Battle of Ostrołęka was fought on 16 February 1807 between First French Empire troops under General of Division Anne Jean Marie René Savary and Russian soldiers under Lieutenant General Ivan Essen.[1] The French defeated the Russians and forced them to retreat to the east to Wyoki Mazowiecki.[2] Weather conditions caused both sides to go into winter quarters immediately after the battle, which occurred during the War of the Fourth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Ostrołęka is located in the northeast part of modern Poland, but in 1807 it belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia.

Context[edit]

See Battle of Mohrungen and Battle of Eylau articles.

Savary was "in command of the 5th corps" "on the extreme French right" so as "to guard the approaches to Warsaw by the Narew and Bug, and to cover the right rear of the movement northwards".[3] After the French were "driven out of Ostrow" "on the 3rd February", "Savary received orders to abandon Brok and retire upon Ostrolenka, so as to strengthen his communication with the Emperor's army."[4] "Essen was ordered by Bennigsen to drive back Savary, who, at the same time, had made up his mind to assume the offensive".[5] Essen, with "25,000 men, advanced to Ostrolenka on the 15th, along the two banks of the Narew".[6] Savary "decided to hold Ostrolenka on the defensive" "on the 15th February", "leaving 3 brigades" on the "low hills outside Ostrolenka" flanked by "batteries on the opposite bank", whilst he "assumed the offensive" "on the morning of the 16th" "against the Russian force coming down the right bank"[7]

Course[edit]

Early on 16 February General of Division Honoré Théodore Maxime Gazan arrived at the vanguard with part of his division. At 9 AM he "met the enemy on the road to Nowogrod" and attacked and routed them, but at the very same moment the Russians "attacked Ostrołęka by the left bank".[8] General of Brigade François Frédéric Campana, with a brigade from Gazan's division, and General of Brigade François Amable Ruffin, with a brigade from General of Division Nicolas Charles Oudinot's division, defended the town.[9] Savary sent General of Division Honoré Charles Reille, his chief of staff.[10] The Russian infantry, in many columns, wished to take the city but the French let them advance halfway up the streets before charging them, leaving the "streets covered with the dead".[11] The Russians "abandoned the town" and took up positions "behind the sand hills that covered it".[12]

Oudinot and General of Division Louis Gabriel Suchet and their divisions "advanced" and by midday, the "heads of their columns arrived at Ostrołęka".[13] "Oudinot commanded the left in two lines", whilst Suchet commanded the centre and Reille, "commanding a brigade" of Gazan's division, "formed the right".[14] He "covered himself with all his artillery and marched against the enemy".[15] "Oudinot put himself at the head" of a successful cavalry charge, cutting the cossacks in the enemy's rearguard to pieces.[16] The exchange of fire was "brisk", with the Russians giving "way on all sides and was followed fighting for three leagues".[17]

Results[edit]

Eylau Campaign Map. While the main armies battled at Mohrungen and Eylau in East Prussia, Savary and Essen faced each other at Ostrołęka.

The next day the Russians were "pursued several leagues".[18] General Suvorov (son of marshal Alexander Suvorov), one other general and several other Russian officers were killed and three generals wounded.[19] The Russians left 1,200 wounded and 1,300 dead on the battlefield, with 7 cannon and two flags captured by the French.[20] Only 60 French troops were killed, including Campana whose death was much grieved by Napoleon, with 400 to 500 wounded including Colonel Duhamel of the 21st Light Infantry Regiment and artillery Colonel Henri Marie Lenoury.[21]

"Savary's action at Ostrolenka...had been useful in disclosing the fact the Russians were in no great strength on this side, and that Napoleon had little to fear from any attempt to strike his communications with Warsaw".[22]

Oudinot was made a Count of the Empire and given a 'donation' of million francs. Savary received the Légion d'Honneur.[23]

Napoleon "ordered the 5th Corps to go into winter quarters"[24] "along the right banks of the Omulew and Narew down to Sierock".[25] "holding Ostrolenka with a detachment and repairing the bride there."[26] The thaw was "dreadful" and the season allowed for no more campaigning - the enemy had left their winter quarters first, and "repented it".[27]

The battle of Ostrołęka is mentioned at the galerie des batailles at Versailles and on the Arc de Triomphe and is a battle honour of several French regiments.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Markham, p. 146
  2. ^ Petre, p. 215
  3. ^ Petre, p. 213
  4. ^ Petre, p. 214
  5. ^ Petre, p. 214
  6. ^ Markham, p. 146
  7. ^ Petre, p. 215
  8. ^ Markham, p. 146
  9. ^ Markham, p. 146
  10. ^ Markham, p. 146
  11. ^ Markham, p. 146
  12. ^ Markham, p. 146
  13. ^ Markham, p. 146
  14. ^ Markham, p. 146
  15. ^ Markham, p. 146
  16. ^ Markham, p. 146
  17. ^ Markham, p.146
  18. ^ Markham, p. 146
  19. ^ 63rd bulletin of the Grande Armée, 28 February 1807 and Markham, pp. 146-147
  20. ^ Markham, p. 146
  21. ^ Markham, p. 146
  22. ^ Petre, p. 216
  23. ^ Markham, p. 147
  24. ^ Markham, p. 147
  25. ^ Petre, p. 216
  26. ^ Petre, p. 215
  27. ^ Markham, p. 147

References[edit]

  • Markham, J.D., 2003, Imperial Glory, The Bulletins of Napoleon's Grande Armee, 1805-1814, London: Greenhill Books, ISBN 1853675423
  • Petre, E.L., 2001, Napoleon's Campaign in Poland, 1806-1807, London: Greenhill Books, ISBN 1853674419
  • 62nd and 63rd bulletin of the Grande Armée
  • Victoires, conquêtes, désastres, revers et guerres civiles des Français depuis 1792 publié par Charles Théodore Beauvais de Préau - 1856

Coordinates: 53°05′00″N 21°35′00″E / 53.083333°N 21.583333°E / 53.083333; 21.583333