Battle of Auerstaedt


October 19, 2021

The Battle of Auerstaedt took place on October 14, 1806, and opposed the Prussian army of King Frederick William III to the French 3rd Army Corps commanded by Marshal Louis Nicolas Davout, in parallel with the Battle of Jena.


On October 14, 1806, the Prussian army, a European benchmark for half a century, was routed in two simultaneous battles. Marshal Davout, commanding the right wing of the French army, confronts the Prussians in Auerstaedt (today Auerstedt, a small town located between Erfurt and Leipzig). The Emperor leads a campaign to reach Berlin. After an engagement in Saalfeld, he pursues the Prussian army. Thinking that she is in Weimar retreating towards Leipzig, he plays speed to face her in Jena. His scouts told him on October 13 that he had joined the enemy. Napoleon I thinks he has the bulk of the Prussian army before him. During the night of the 13th to the 14th, he sent Davout forward to take it from the rear. But in fact, it is the rearguard that Napoleon faces in Jena, while Davout is facing the vanguard followed by the main body of the enemy troops, the latter thinking of facing the main body of the French army. The revolving movement of Davout's three divisions was to pass through Auerstaedt, where the three Prussian army corps were stationed at the same time. At the end of the day on October 13, Naumbourg was occupied and the French held the Kösen bridge, the Prussians were set back from the village of Hassenhausen. Opposite Napoleon, Schmettau's mission was to place his troops on screen to allow the mainstream of the Prussian army to ebb, so he did not seek battle.


At six o'clock in the morning, in the fog, Gudin's division in the vanguard moves towards the village of Hassenhausen. A first platoon of French cavalry crosses the village to find themselves facing Blücher's cavalry. The French take some prisoners who inform them of the arrival of a division. General Blücher's cavalry, which was already outflanking Marshal Davout's right, threatened to turn and surround it. Davout orders the 25th line infantry regiment to go and hold the village. Before arriving there, they must face the advanced troops of the enemy (hussars and artillery); after a short fight, they occupy the village and control access. At nine o'clock, as the fog clears, Gudin's division is firmly established around the village when the reported Prussian division appears. Seeing the French, Blücher immediately decides to attack, but the successive charges of his cavalry break on the French squares and end in a rout. To the north, a mounted battery then took up position to cannon the French right. However, Davout had ordered Friant's division to maneuver on this side which jostled this battery and in the process occupied the village of Spielberg, but failed to push further. At the same time, the village of Poppel was taken by Colonel Higonet who took from the Prussians a flag and three pieces of cannon. Marshal Davout, still at the head of Friant's division which marched in close columns, moved forward, leaving Auerstaedt on his left. The fire from the batteries which the enemy had on this point did not prevent General Friant from continuing his movement; he leaned on the right to cut off the enemy's retreat. The Prussians advance their second line and the Wartensleben division threatens to bypass to the south. For four hours, Gudin's division had been fighting against superior forces, and was left to itself by the movement of Friant's division. The Prussians push back the French who are about to give way, in the village, when Morand's division enters th

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