Battle of Villersexel
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|Battle of Villersexel|
La bataille de Villersexel by Alphonse de Neuville (1834-1885).
|Commanders and leaders|
|August von Werder||Charles Denis Bourbaki|
|Casualties and losses|
|438 dead or wounded,
|654 dead or wounded,
The Battle of Villersexel in the Franco-Prussian War opposed on January 9, 1871 elements of the French Armée de l'Est under General Bourbaki to August von Werder's Prussians. It resulted in a French victory left barren by the concurrent defeat at the Battle of the Lisaine.
In the turmoil and confusion following major reverses and capitulations at Sedan, Paris, and Metz, the remaining French armies faced major supply difficulties which restricted their movements. The Armée de l'Est was tasked in these conditions with reaching and succoring Belfort, where Colonel Denfert-Rochereau still held out, lifting the siege, and driving the Germans from the position.
Werder's Prussians caught up to Bourbaki in the evening of January 9 at Villersexel, where a French detachment had taken position the evening before. Prussian troops, filing through an unguarded pass, rapidly overwhelmed the positions surrounding the bridge over the Ognon. By 13:00h the château fell to the Prussians. However, the French lines at Esprels, Autrey-le-Vay, and, to the east, Villers-la-Ville, successfully checked the Prussian attack.
A French counterattack organized by Bourbaki pressed steadily forth in the afternoon and recaptured the château in confused street fighting. Fighting continued into the night until the retreat of the Prussians at 3:00am. Bourbaki continued his march January 13, while Werder fell back some 20 kilometers north along the Lisaine giving the French a minor victory.
Results of the Battle
The Chateau des Villersexel, then known as Château des Grammont, was destroyed during the battle. The Château was later rebuilt. The village, also burned, was particularly affected in its lower part to Ognon. Though the French sustained more loses they managed to drive the Prussian armies from their barricades.
A chateau has existed at this location for several hundred years. Currently the third incarnation of the Château de Villersexel is located at this site. Refer to the wiki page Villersexel for more information.
The current chateau is reported to have been designed by architect Gustave Eiffel.
- Colonel Rousset, Histoire générale de la Guerre franco-allemande, Vol. 2, édition Jules Tallandier, Paris, 1911.
- Général Pierre Bertin, " 1870-1871 Désillusions dans l'Est" Cêtre Besançon Editions, 2007.