Battle of Saalfeld

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Battle of Saalfeld
Part of the War of the Fourth Coalition
Heldentod der Prinzen Louis Ferdinand bei Saalfeld.jpg
The death of Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, as depicted by Richard Knötel
Date 10 October 1806
Location Saalfeld, Germany
Result French victory
Belligerents
France French Empire  Kingdom of Prussia
 Electorate of Saxony
Commanders and leaders
France Jean Lannes
France Claude Victor-Perrin
France Louis Gabriel Suchet
Kingdom of Prussia Prince Louis Ferdinand 
Strength
12,800
14 guns
8,300
44 guns[1]
Casualties and losses
172 dead or wounded[2] 900 dead or wounded[2]
1,800 captured[2]
28 guns[2]

The Battle of Saalfeld (10 October 1806) saw Marshal Lannes and a division of his V Corps defeat 8,300 Prussians under Prince Louis Ferdinand.

Battle[edit]

Prince Louis Ferdinand was one of the principal advocates of resuming war against the French.

The French did not have the means to force battle, and the Prussians could have joined their larger forces in nearby Jena, but Prince Louis, apparently ignorant that Lannes's division on the field was but part of his forces (the rest were coming up) and that alone outnumbered him, chose to take a stand on the field. Prince Louis positioned his men on low ground outside the town, with their back to the river, and against the French who were attacking down hill.

Lannes and General Suchet had noticed the Prussians had their back to the river, and estimated the Prussian forces to only be about half the size of V Corps. Lannes battered them with cannon for a bit and when they showed signs of disorganization he ordered a charge by his infantry whilst sending a unit against the flank. Pinned and outnumbered by the French, the Prussian infantry soon began to break under the flank attack and were driven in disorganization under the walls of Saalfeld.

Belatedly seeing his mistake, trying to relieve the pressure Prince Louis put himself at the head of his cavalry and charged the advancing French on the flank. The charge was repulsed and the Prince found himself in close combat with Guindet, quartermaster of the French 10th Hussars, who offered the Prince quarter. Refusing to surrender, the Prince merely replied with a slash to the man's face causing a severe wound, but was run through and killed by the counter blow of the Quartermaster, dying immediately.

The Prussians lost 400 killed and wounded and 20 guns. Over 1,000 were captured including General Bevilaqua, commander of the Saxon forces.

Aftermath[edit]

Four days after Saalfeld, the twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt took place on the plateau west of the river Saale. Although the war went on for another seven months, the decisive defeat suffered by the Prussian army resulted in Prussia's effective elimination from the anti-French coalition up until the liberation war of 1813.

Order of battle[edit]

French V Corps Prusso-Saxon Force
Commander-in-chief: Marshal Jean Lannes

Chief of staff: Général de Division Claude Victor-Perrin

1st Division
Général de Division Louis Gabriel Suchet

1st Brigade
Général de Brigade Michel Marie Claparède

  • 2 Battalions, 17th Légère Regiment (1500)

2nd Brigade
Général de Brigade Honoré Charles Reille

  • 4 Battalions, 34th Ligne Regiment (3000)
  • 3 Battalions, 40th Ligne Regiment (2250)

3rd Brigade
Général de Brigade Dominique Honoré Antoine Vedel

  • 3 Battalions, 64th Ligne Regiment (3000)
  • 3 Battalions, 88th Ligne Regiment (2250)

Divisional Artillery

  • 1 Battery, Foot Artillery (8 guns)
  • 1 Battery, Horse Artillery (6 guns)

Cavalry Brigade
Général de Brigade Anne-François-Charles Trelliard

Generalleutenant Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia

Prussian Infantry Brigade
Generalmajor Karl Gerhard von Pelet

  • Jäger Company"Valentini" (150)
  • Jäger Company "Masars" (150)
  • Fusilier Battalion No. 13 "Rabenau" (600)
  • Fusilier Battalion No. 14 "von Pelet" (600)
  • Fusilier Battalion No. 15 "Rühle" (600)
  • 2 Battalions, Infantry Regiment No. 49 "Muffling" (1200)
  • 1 Battery, Foot Artillery "Reimann" (8 guns)

Prussian Cavalry Brigade
Generalmajor Christian Ludwig Schimmelpfennig von der Oye

  • 5 Squadrons, Hussar Regiment No. 6 "Schimmelpfennig von der Oye" (900)
  • 1 Battery, Horse Artillery No. 2 "Gause" (6 guns)

Saxon Infantry Brigade
Generalmajor von Bevilaqua

  • 2 Battalions, Infantry Regiment No. 1 "Kurfurst" (1200)
  • 2 Battalions, Infantry Regiment No. 4 "Prince Clemens" (1200)
  • 2 Battalions, Infantry Regiment No. 9 "Prince Xavier" (1200)
  • 1 Battery, Foot Artillery (8 guns)

Saxon Cavalry Brigade
Generalmajor von Trutzschler

  • 5 Squadrons, Hussar Regiment No. 1 (900)
  • 1 Battery, Horse Artillery "Grossmann" (6 guns)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chandler, p. 470
  2. ^ a b c d Chandler, p. 471

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°39′00″N 11°22′01″E / 50.6500°N 11.3669°E / 50.6500; 11.3669