Military mobilisation during the Hundred Days

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Strategic situation in Western Europe in 1815 : 250,000 Frenchmen faced a coalition of about 850,000 soldiers on four fronts. In addition, Napoleon was forced to leave 20,000 men in Western France to reduce a royalist insurrection.

During the Hundred Days of 1815, both the Coalition nations and the First French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte mobilised for war. This article describes the deployment of forces in early June 1815 just before the start of the Waterloo Campaign and the minor campaigns of 1815.

French[edit]

Upon assumption of the throne, Napoleon found that he was left with little by the Bourbons and that the state of the Army was 56,000 troops of which 46,000 were ready to campaign.[1] By the end of May, the total armed forces available to Napoleon had reached 198,000 with 66,000 more in depots training up but not yet ready for deployment.[2]

Waterloo Campaign[edit]

By the end of May, Napoleon had deployed his forces as follows:[3]

The preceding corps were to be formed into L'Armée du Nord (the "Army of the North") and led by Napoleon Bonaparte would participate in the Waterloo Campaign.

Armies of observation[edit]

For the defence of France, Bonaparte deployed his remaining forces within France observing France's enemies, foreign and domestic, intending to delay the former and suppress the latter. By June, they were organised as follows:

V Corps – Armée du Rhin[4] (Rapp), cantoned near Strassburg.

VII Corps[7]Armée des Alpes (Suchet).[8] Based at Lyons, this army was charged with the defence of Lyons and to observe the Austro-Sardinian army of Frimont. Its composition in June was:

  • 22nd Infantry Division [9]
  • 23rd Infantry Division [9]
  • 15th Cavalry Division [9]
  • 6th National Guard Division [9]
  • 7th National Guard Division [9]
  • 8th National Guard Division [9]
  • 42–46 guns [10]
  • Total 13,000–23,500 men[11]

I Corps of Observation – Armée du Jura[8] Based at Belfort and commanded by General Claude Lecourbe, this army was to observe any Austrian movement through Switzerland and also observe the Swiss army of General Bachmann. Its composition in June was:

  • 18th Infantry Division [12]
  • 8th Cavalry Division [12]
  • 3rd National Guard Division
  • 4th National Guard Division
  • 38 guns[7]
  • Total 5,392–8,400 men[13]

II Corps of Observation[7]Armée du Var.[14] Based at Toulon and commanded by Marshal Guillaume Marie Anne Brune,[15] this army was charged with the suppression of any potential royalist uprisings and to observe General Bianchi's Army of Naples. Its composition in June was:

  • 24th Infantry Division;[16]
  • 25th Infantry Division;[16]
  • 14th Chasseurs à Cheval Cavalry Regiment;[17]
  • 22 guns;[7]
  • Total 5,500–6,116 men.[18]

III Corps of Observation[7] – Army of the Pyrenees orientales.[14] Based at Toulouse and commanded by General Charles Mathieu Isidore Decaen, this army observed the eastern Spanish frontier. Its composition in June was:

  • 26th Infantry Division;[17]
  • 5th Chasseurs à Cheval Cavalry Regiment;[17]
  • 24 guns;[7]
  • Total 3,516–7,600 men.[19]

IV Corps of Observation[7] – Army of the Pyrenees occidentales.[14] Based at Bordeaux and commanded by General Bertrand Clauzel, this army observed the western Spanish frontier. Its composition in June was:[17]

  • 27th Infantry Division [17]
  • 15th Chasseurs à Cheval Cavalry Regiment [17]
  • 24 guns[7]
  • Total 3,516–6,800 men[20]

Army of the West[7] - Armée de l'Ouest[14] (also known as the Army of the Vendée and the Army of the Loire). Commanded by General Jean Maximilien Lamarque, the army was formed to suppress the Royalist insurrection in the Vendée region of France, which remained loyal to King Louis XVIII during the Hundred Days. The army contained a Young Guard Infantry brigade consisting of the 2nd Tirailleur and 2nd Voltigeur regiments and some line units detached from the other armies as well as gendarmes and volunteers. Its composition in June was:

  • One Un-numbered Infantry Division under General Brayer;[21]
  • One Un-numbered Infantry Division under General Travot;[21]
  • 24 guns;[7]

Total 10,000–27,000 men.[22]

Seventh Coalition[edit]

The Seventh Coalition armies formed to invade France were:

Overview[edit]

The forces at the disposal of the Seventh Coalition for an invasion of France amounted to the better part of a million men. According to the returns laid out in secret sittings at the Congress of Vienna the military resources of the European states that joined the coalition, the number of troops which they could field for active operations—without unduly diminishing the garrison and other services in their respective interiors—amounted to 986,000 men. The size of the principal invasion armies (those designated to proceed to Paris) was as follows:[23]

I Army of Upper Rhine—(Schwartzenberg), viz.:
Austrians 150,000
Bavarians 65,000
Württemberg 25,000
Baden 16,000
Hessians, etc., 8,000
Total 264,000
II Army of Lower Rhine—(Blücher) Prussians, Saxons, etc. 155,000
III Army of Flanders—(Wellington) British, Dutch, Hanoverians, Brunswickers 155,000
IV First Russian Army—(Barclay de Tolly) 168,000
Total 742,000

Waterloo Campaign[edit]

Wellington's Allied Army (Army of Flanders)[edit]

Cantoned in the southern part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in what is now Belgium, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington commanded a coalition army,[24] made up of troops from the duchies of Brunswick, and Nassau and the kingdoms of Hanover, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In June 1815 Wellington's army of 93,000 with headquarters at Brussels was cantoned:[25]

The Netherlands Corps, commanded by Prince Frederick of the Netherlands did not take part in early actions of the Waterloo Campaign (it was posted to a fall back position near Braine), but did besiege some of the frontier fortresses in the rear of Wellington's advancing army.[26][27]

A Danish contingent known as the Royal Danish Auxiliary Corps commanded by General Prince Frederick of Hessen-Kassel and a Hanseatic contingent (from the free cities of Bremen, Lübeck and Hamburg) later commanded by the British Colonel Sir Neil Campbell, were also on their way to join this army,[28] both however, joined the army in July having missed the conflict.[29][30]

Wellington had very much hoped to obtain a Portuguese contingent of 12-14,000 men that might be boarded on ships and sent to this army.[31][32] However, this contingent never materialised, as the Portuguese government were extremely uncooperative. They explained that they did not have the authority to send the Prince Regent of Portugal's forces to war without his consent (he was still in Brazil where he had been in exile during the Peninsular War and had yet to return to Portugal). They explained this even though they themselves had signed the Treaty of March 15 without his consent.[33] Besides this, the state of the Portuguese army in 1815 left much to be desired and were a shadow of their former self with much of it being disbanded.[34]

The Tsar of Russia offered Wellington his II Army Corps under general Wurttemberg,[35] but Wellington was far from keen on accepting this contingent.

Prussian Army (Army of the Lower Rhine)[edit]

This army was composed entirely of Prussians from the provinces of the Kingdom of Prussia, old and recently acquired alike. Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher commanded this army with General August Neidhardt von Gneisenau as his chief of staff and second in command.[36]

Blücher's Prussian army of 116,000 men, with headquarters at Namur, was distributed as follows:

Minor campaigns[edit]

German Corps (North German Federal Army)[edit]

This army was part of the Prussian Army above, but was to act independently much further south. It was composed of contingents from the following nations of the German Confederation: Electorate of Hessen, Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Duchy of Oldenburg (state), Duchy of Saxe-Gotha, Duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg, Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt-Kothen, Principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, Principality of Waldeck (state), Principality of Lippe and the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe.[38]

Fearing that Napoleon was going to strike him first, Blücher ordered this army to march north to join the rest of his own army.[39] The Prussian General Friedrich Graf Kleist von Nollendorf initially commanded this army before he fell ill on June 18 and was replaced by the Hessen-Kassel General Von Engelhardt.[39] Its composition in June was:[40]

  • Hessen-Kassel Division (Three Hessian Brigades)- General Engelhardt
  • Thuringian Brigade - Colonel Egloffstein
  • Mecklenburg Brigade - General Prince of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Total 25,000[14]

Russian Army (I Army)[edit]

Field Marshal Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly commanded the First Russian Army. In June it consisted of the following:[41]

Total 200,000[14]

Austro-German Army (Army of the Upper Rhine)[edit]

The Austrian military contingent was divided into three armies. This was the largest of these armies, commanded by Field Marshal Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg. Its target was Paris. This Austrian contingent was joined by those of the following nations of the German Confederation: Kingdom of Bavaria, Kingdom of Württemberg, Grand Duchy of Baden, Grand Duchy of Hesse (Hessen-Darmstadt), Free City of Frankfurt, Principality of Reuss Elder Line and the Principality of Reuss Junior Line. Besides these there were contingents of Fulda and Isenburg. These were recruited by the Austrians from German territories that were in the process of losing their independence by being annexed to other countries at the Congress of Vienna. Finally, these were joined by the contingents of the Kingdom of Saxony, Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen and the Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Its composition in June was:[43]

Corps Commander Men Battalions Squadrons Batteries
I Corps Master General of the Ordnance, Count Colloredo 24,400 86 16 8
II Corps General Prince Hohenzollern-Hechingen 34,360 36 86 11
III Corps Field Marshal the Crown Prince of Württemberg 43,814 44 32 9
IV Corps (Bavarian Army) Field Marshal Prince Wrede 67,040 46 66 16
Austrian Reserve Corps Lieutenant Field Marshal Stutterheim 44,800 38 86 10
Blockade Corps 33,314 38 8 6
Saxon Corps 16,774 18 10 6
Totals [44] 264,492 246 844 66

Swiss Army[edit]

This army was composed entirely of Swiss. The Swiss General Niklaus Franz von Bachmann commanded this army. This force was to observe any French forces that operated near its borders. Its composition in July was:[45]

  • I Division - Colonel von Gady
  • II Division - Colonel Fuessly
  • III Division - Colonel d'Affry
  • Reserve Division - Colonel-Quartermaster Finsler

Total 37,000[14]

Austro-Sardinian Army (Army of Upper Italy)[edit]

This was the second largest of Austria's contingents. Its target was Lyons. General Johann Maria Philipp Frimont commanded this army. Its composition in June was:[46]

Total 50,000[14]

Austrian Army (Army of Naples)[edit]

This was the smallest of Austria's military contingents. Its targets were Marseilles and Toulon. General Bianchi commanded this army.[47] This was the Austrian army that defeated Murat's army in the Neapolitan War. It was not composed of Neapolitans as the army's name may suggest and as one author supposed.[48] There was however a Sardinian force in this area forming the garrison of Nice under Louis Cacherano d'Osasco[49] which may have been where the other part of this misunderstanding had arisen. Its composition in June was:[50]

  • I Corps - General Neipperg
  • II Corps - General Mohr
  • Reserve Corps - General Nugent

Total 23,000[14]

Anglo-Sicilian Army[edit]

This was Great Britain's smaller military contingent. It was composed of Anglo-Sicilian troops under General Sir Hudson Lowe transported and supported by the Mediterranean Fleet of Lord Viscount Exmouth. Its targets were Marseilles and Toulon.

Mobilisations[edit]

Spanish armies[edit]

It was planned that a Spanish army was to invade France via Perpignan and Toulouse. General Francisco Javier Castanos, 1st Duke of Bailen commanded this army.[51]

It was planned that a second Spanish army was to invade France via Bayonne and Bordeaux. General Henry Joseph O'Donnell, Count of La Bisbal commanded this army.[52]

Both Wellington's Despatches and his Supplementary Despatches show that neither of the Spanish armies contained any Portuguese contingents nor were they likely too, (See the section Portuguese contingent below), however both Chandler and Barbero state that the Portuguese did send a contingent.[14][53]

Prussian Reserve Army[edit]

Besides the four Army Corps that fought in the Waterloo Campaign listed above that Blücher took with him into the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Prussia also had a reserve army stationed at home in order to defend its borders.

This consisted of:[54]

Royal Danish Auxiliary Corps and Hanseatic Contingent[edit]

A Danish contingent known as the Royal Danish Auxiliary Corps commanded by General Prince Frederick of Hessen-Kassel and a Hanseatic contingent (from the free cities of Bremen, Lübeck and Hamburg) commanded by the British Colonel Sir Neil Campbell, were also on their way to join Wellington's army,[28] both however, joined the army in July having missed the conflict.[39][30]

Portuguese contingent[edit]

Wellington had very much hoped to obtain a Portuguese contingent of 12-14,000 men that might be boarded on ships and sent to this army.[31][32] However, this contingent never materialised, as the Portuguese government were extremely uncooperative. They explained that they did not have the authority to send the Prince Regent of Portugal's forces to war without his consent (he was still in Brazil where he had been in exile during the Peninsular War and had yet to return to Portugal). They explained this even though they themselves had signed the Treaty of March 15 without his consent.[33] Besides this, the state of the Portuguese army in 1815 left much to be desired and were a shadow of their former with much of it being disbanded.[34]

Russian 2nd (Reserve) Army[edit]

The Second Russian Army was behind the First Russian Army to support it if required.

  • Imperial Guard Corps
  • I Army Corps
  • II Army Corps, commanded by General Wurttemberg
  • I Grenadier Division
  • I Reserve Cavalry Corps

Russian support for Wellington[edit]

The Tsar of Russia offered Wellington the II Army Corps under General Wurttemberg from his Reserve Army,[35] but Wellington was far from keen on accepting this contingent.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chesney 1869, p. 34.
  2. ^ Chesney 1869, p. 35.
  3. ^ Beck 1911, p. 371.
  4. ^ Chandler 1981, p. 180.
  5. ^ a b c d Vaudoncourt 1826, Book I, Chapter I, p. 109.
  6. ^ Armée du Rhin men
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Chalfont 1979, p. 205.
  8. ^ a b Chandler 1981, p. 181.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Zins 2003, pp. 380–384.
  10. ^ Armée des Alpes guns
  11. ^ Armée des Alpes. Men
  12. ^ a b Smith 1998, p. 551.
  13. ^ Armée du Jura: men
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Chandler 1981, p. 30.
  15. ^ Siborne 1895, p. 775,779.
  16. ^ a b Vaudoncourt 1826, Book I, Chapter I, p. 110.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Houssaye 2005, p. [page needed]
  18. ^ Armée du Var: men
  19. ^ III Corps of Observation, Men:
  20. ^ IV Corps of Observation
  21. ^ a b Lasserre 1906, p. 114.
  22. ^ Army of the West, men:
  23. ^ Alison 1843, p. 520 cites: Plotho iv., Appendix, p. 62; and Capefigue, i., 330, 331.
  24. ^ Bowden 1983, Chapter 3.
  25. ^ Beck 1911, p. 372,373.
  26. ^ Siborne 1895, pp. 765, 766.
  27. ^ McGuigan 2009, § Siege Train.
  28. ^ a b Plotho 1818, Appendix pp. 34,35.
  29. ^ Hofschroer 2006, pp. 82,83.
  30. ^ a b Sørensen 1871, pp. 360-367.
  31. ^ a b Glover 1973, p. 181.
  32. ^ a b Gurwood 1838, p. 281.
  33. ^ a b Wellesley 1862, pp. 573, 574.
  34. ^ a b Wellesley 1862, p. 268.
  35. ^ a b Wellesley 1862, p. 499.
  36. ^ Bowden 1983, Chapter 2.
  37. ^ Georg Dubislav Ludwig von Pirch: 'Pirch I', the use of Roman numerals being used in Prussian service to distinguish officers of the same name, in this case from his brother, seven years his junior, Otto Karl Lorenz 'Pirch II'
  38. ^ Plotho 1818, p. 54.
  39. ^ a b c Hofschroer 1999, p. 182.
  40. ^ Plotho 1818, p. 56.
  41. ^ Plotho 1818, Appendix (Chapter XII) pp. 56-62.
  42. ^ Mikaberidze 2002.
  43. ^ Siborne 1895, p. 767.
  44. ^ Although Siborne estimated the number at 264,492, David Chandler estimated the number 232,000 (Chandler 1981, p. 27)
  45. ^ Chapuisat 1921, table 2.[page needed]
  46. ^ Plotho 1818, Appendix pp. 74,75.
  47. ^ Chandler places the army under the command of General Onasco (Chandler 1981, p. 30), but Plotho (Plotho 1818, Appendix pp. 76,77) and Vaudoncourt (Vaudoncourt 1826, Book I, Chapter I, p. 94) name the commander as General Bianchi
  48. ^ Chandler 1981, p. 27.
  49. ^ Schom 1992, p. 19.
  50. ^ Plotho 1818, Appendix pp. 76,77.
  51. ^ Peltier, p. 743[verification needed].
  52. ^ Peltier, p. 743[verification needed].
  53. ^ Barbero 2006, Map of Allied Advances in June/July 1815[page needed]
  54. ^ Plotho 1818, pp. 36–55.

References[edit]

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