Battle of Kulm
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|Battle of Kulm|
|Part of the War of the Sixth Coalition|
Battle of Kulm
|First French Empire|| Russian Empire
Kingdom of Prussia
|Commanders and leaders|
| Dominique Vandamme (POW)
Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr
| Barclay de Tolly
Friedrich von Kleist
|32,000||14,000–16,000 29 August,
50,000–60,000 30 August
|Casualties and losses|
|5,000 killed or wounded,
The Battle of Kulm was a battle near the town Kulm (Chlumec) and the village Přestanov in northern Bohemia. It was fought on 29–30 August 1813, during the War of the Sixth Coalition. 32,000 French troops under Dominique Vandamme attacked an army of 54,000 Austrians, Russians and Prussians under Barclay de Tolly, but were defeated with heavy losses on both sides.
Following the French victory at Dresden, Vandamme pursued the retreating allies. Napoleon sent Marshals Gouvion Saint Cyr and Auguste Marmont to support Vandamme's corps. With Vandamme in advance, Saint Cyr's and Marmont's corps brought up the rear. Vandamme caught up with Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy's forces near the town of Kulm, eight kilometres northwest of Aussig (Ústí nad Labem, now in the Czech Republic).
On 29 August, Vandamme (32-34,000 soldiers, 84 guns) attacked Russian formations under the command of Ostermann-Tolstoy (13-14,000 soldiers). The situation was very dangerous for the allies - if Vandamme won, the French would take the passes in the mountain, and the retreating allies' army could be trapped by Napoleon. But Vandamme was repulsed. On 30 August, however, the situation changed. A Prussian corps commanded by Friedrich von Kleist attacked Vandamme's rear guard. Kleist then received help from a combined Russian and Austrian attack on Vandamme's front, under the command of General Ostermann-Tolstoy. In an attempt to repulse simultaneous attacks on his front and rear, Vandamme ordered his forces to form squadrons. The inexperienced French troops were unable to fend off the allies, and soon withdrew from the battlefield, with heavy losses.
The French lost about 5,000 soldiers killed or wounded. Between 7,000 and 13,000 French soldiers were taken prisoner, including Vandamme, and 80 guns were captured. The allies lost approximately 11,000 soldiers killed or wounded.
In Vandamme's corps there were two Polish regiments of Uhlans, part of cavalry divisions under the command of General Jean Corbineau. These regiments were used by Vandamme to defend against enemy cavalry charges. One regiment, commanded by Colonel Maximilian Fredro (brother of playwright Alexander Fredro), was attacked after withdrawing to a defile and surrendered. The other regiment of Uhlans, under the command of Count Tomasz Łubieński (generally known in English as Thomas Lubienski) successfully withdrew.
According to a French anecdote, after the battle Vandamme was accused by Emperor Alexander I of Russia of being a brigand and plunderer. He retorted, "I am neither a plunderer nor a brigand, but in any case, my contemporaries and history will not reproach me for having murdered my own father." This statement apparently hinted at the widespread belief that Alexander I was implicated in the murder of his father, Emperor Paul I.
The battlefield today
The battlefield is mostly built over. There is a large monument topped with a lion next door to the Hotel Napoleon.
- Mémoires du général baron de Marbot. 1891. Vol. II, p. 375.
- Jadwiga Nadzieja "Lipsk 1813" historical battles serie published in Warsaw by Bellona 1998 ISBN 83-11-08826-8 pp. 57–59.