Battle of Ostrołęka (1807)

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Battle of Ostrołęka (1807)
Part of the War of the Fourth Coalition

Memorable combat of Ostrolenka, contemporary print in the Bibliothèque nationale de France
Date16 February 1807[1]
Location
Ostrołęka, present-day Poland
53°05′00″N 21°35′00″E / 53.083333°N 21.583333°E / 53.083333; 21.583333
Result French victory[1]
Belligerents
France French Empire Russia Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders
France Anne Jean Marie René Savary Russia Ivan Essen
Strength
20,000[1] 25,000
Casualties and losses
60 dead (including 1 general)
400-500 wounded
total: 1,200[1]
1,300 dead (including 2 generals)
1,200 wounded (including 3 generals)
7 cannons captured[2]
total: 2,500[1]
Map
200km
125miles
Friedland
27
Battle of Friedland on 14 June 1807
26
Battle of Heilsberg on 10 June 1807
25
Battle of Guttstadt-Deppen from 5 to 6 June 1807
24
Great Sortie of Stralsund from 1 to 3 April 1807
23
Siege of Danzig (1807) from 19 March to 24 May 1807
22
Siege of Kolberg (1807) from 20 March to 2 July 1807
21
Eylau
20
Battle of Eylau from 7 to 8 February 1807
19
Battle of Allenstein on 3 February 1807
18
Battle of Mohrungen on 25 January 1807
17
Siege of Graudenz from 22 January to 11 December 1807
16
Battle of Pułtusk (1806) on 26 December 1806
15
Battle of Golymin on 26 December 1806
14
Battle of Czarnowo on 23 December 1806
13
Siege of Hamelin from 7 to 22 November 1806
12
Battle of Lübeck on 6 November 1806
11
Battle of Waren-Nossentin on 1 November 1806
10
Capitulation of Stettin from 29 to 30 October 1806
9
Capitulation of Pasewalk on 29 October 1806
8
Battle of Prenzlau on 28 October 1806
Berlin
7
Fall of Berlin (1806) on 27 October 1806
6
Siege of Magdeburg (1806) from 25 October to 8 November 1806
5
Battle of Halle on 17 October 1806
4
Capitulation of Erfurt on 16 October 1806
Jena–Auerstedt
3
Battle of Jena–Auerstedt on 14 October 1806
2
Battle of Saalfeld on 10 October 1806
1
Battle of Schleiz on 9 October 1806
 current battle
 Napoleon not in command
 Napoleon in command

The Battle of Ostrołęka was fought on 16 February 1807 between a French force under General of Division Anne Jean Marie René Savary and a Russian force under Lieutenant General Ivan Essen.[3] The French defeated the Russians and forced them to retreat to the east to Wyoki Mazowiecki.[4] 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.

Background[edit]

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

Savary was in command of the V 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.[5] After the French were driven out of Ostrów on 3 February, Savary received orders to abandon Brok and retire upon Ostrolenka, so as to strengthen his communication with the Emperor's army.[6] Essen was ordered by Bennigsen to drive back Savary, who, at the same time, had made up his mind to assume the offensive.[6]

Essen, with 25,000 men, advanced to Ostrolenka on the 15th, along the two banks of the Narew.[3] Savary decided to hold Ostrolenka on the defensive, on 15 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.[4]

Course[edit]

Historical reenactment of the Battle of Ostrołęka, 2007

Early on 16 February, General of Division Honoré Théodore Maxime Gazan arrived at the vanguard with part of his division. At 9 a.m. he met the enemy on the road to Nowogród and attacked and routed them, but at the very same moment the Russians attacked Ostrołęka by the left bank.[3] 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.[3] Savary sent General of Division Honoré Charles Reille, his chief of staff.[3] 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.[3] The Russians abandoned the town and took up positions behind the sand hills that covered it.[3]

Oudinot and General of Division Louis Gabriel Suchet and their divisions advanced and by midday, the heads of their columns arrived at Ostrołęka.[3] Oudinot commanded the left in two lines, whilst Suchet commanded the centre and Reille, commanding a brigade of Gazan's division, formed the right.[3] He "covered himself with all his artillery and marched against the enemy."[3] Oudinot put himself at the head of a successful cavalry charge, cutting the cossacks in the enemy's rearguard to pieces.[3] The exchange of fire was brisk.[3] The Russian army gave way on all sides, and was followed fighting for three leagues.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

The next day the Russians were "pursued several leagues."[3] Two Russian generals and several other Russian officers were killed and three generals wounded. According to the 63rd bulletin of the Grande Armée (28 February 1807),[7] the Russians left 1,200 wounded and 1,300 dead on the battlefield, with 7 cannon and two flags captured by the French.[3] 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.[3]

On Napoleon's orders, the V Corps went into winter quarters[8] along the right banks of the Omulew and the Narew down to Serock,[9] holding Ostrolenka with a detachment and repairing the bridge there.[4] The thaw was "dreadful" and the season allowed for no more campaigning – the enemy had left their winter quarters first, and "repented it."[8]

Savary's action at Ostrolenka had revealed "that 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."[9] Oudinot was made a Count of the Empire and given a donation of a million francs. Savary received the Légion d'honneur.[8]

The Battle of Ostrołęka is mentioned at the Galerie des Batailles at Versailles and on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and is a battle honour of several French regiments.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Bodart 1908, p. 381.
  2. ^ Préau 1856.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Markham 2003, p. 146.
  4. ^ a b c Petre 2001, p. 215.
  5. ^ Petre 2001, p. 213.
  6. ^ a b Petre 2001, p. 214.
  7. ^ Markham 2003, pp. 146–147.
  8. ^ a b c Markham 2003, p. 147.
  9. ^ a b Petre 2001, p. 216.

References[edit]

  • Bodart, Gaston (1908). Militär-historisches Kriegs-Lexikon (1618-1905) (in German). Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  • Markham, J. D. (2003). Imperial Glory, The Bulletins of Napoleon's Grande Armée, 1805–1814. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1853675423. 62nd and 63rd bulletin of the Grande Armée
  • Petre, F. Loraine (2001). Napoleon's Campaign in Poland 1806-1807. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1853674419.
  • Préau, Charles Théodore Beauvais de (1856). Victoires, conquêtes, désastres, revers et guerres civiles des Français depuis 1792.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Battle of Eylau
Napoleonic Wars
Battle of Ostrołęka (1807)
Succeeded by
Siege of Kolberg (1807)