1600 to 2000 14 August 1813
Emperor Napoleon French Commander in Chief
Napoleon entered Jena just as night fell. Army headquarters had been set up in the town hall, and as he arrived Berthier was working through the mass of messages and reports. He smiled as he handed one to Napoleon from Marshal Ney, confirming that his artillery had driven off a Russian probe with minor casualties. Napoleon considered it typical of Ney to claim first casualties of the campaign. But he also considered it a good omen to receive such news here in Jena, the scene of his great victory 7 years earlier.
A second communication was from Marshal MacDonald, to confirm that he would cross the river Saale near Domburg at first light. Throughout the afternoon there had been the sound of distant fighting, which may indicate that he had encountered some opposition.
Despite his failure to beat Kutuzov during the Halle campaign, Napoleon was confident that this campaign would end in victory. Wittgenstein had replaced Kutuzov, and he was sure that the Russian soldiers would not have the confidence in this younger man that they had in the “wily old fox”.
His marshals had been well briefed on their role in the first act of the campaign – crossing the river Saale and establishing themselves on the east bank. They were all experienced commanders and could be relied upon to carry out their task.
As he settled down to his evening meal Napoleon awaited the arrival of the daily reports from his commanders.