Battle of Villersexel

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Battle of Villersexel
Bataille de Villersexel.jpg
La bataille de Villersexel by Alphonse de Neuville (1834-1885).
Date 9 January 1871
Location Villersexel, France
Result French victory
Kingdom of Prussia Prussia France France
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Prussia August von Werder France Charles Denis Bourbaki
15,000 20,000
Casualties and losses
438 dead or wounded,
140 captured
654 dead or wounded,
700 captured

The Battle of Villersexel took place on 9 January 1871 as part of the Franco-Prussian War. Elements of the French Armée de l'Est under General Bourbaki engaged August von Werder's Prussian forces. It resulted in a French victory.


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 with reaching and assisting Belfort, where Colonel Denfert-Rochereau still held out.


Werder's Prussians caught up to Bourbaki in the evening of January 9 at Villersexel, where a French detachment had taken positions 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 after confused street fighting. Fighting continued into the night until the retreat of the Prussians at 3:00am. Bourbaki continued his march on January 13, while Werder fell back some 20 kilometers north along the Lisaine.

Results of the Battle[edit]

Though the French sustained more loses they managed to drive the Prussian armies from their barricades.

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.


  • 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.

Coordinates: 47°33′05″N 6°26′02″E / 47.5514°N 6.4339°E / 47.5514; 6.4339