Thursday, July 19, 2012

Campaign Move 4

0800 to 1200 15 August  1813

Marshal Victor - Commander 2nd French Corps

Victor had not intended to fight a second day at Possneck

The battle with 3rd Russian corps on the previous day had ended in a draw, with a slight advantage to 2nd French corps.  It had been a mainly cavalry engagement, and the Russians had suffered more casualties than the French

During the evening Victor received unofficial reports of a French defeat at Domburg, and he decided to withdraw his corps to the west bank of the river Saale and await further orders from Napoleon.

At day break his corps formed up ready to retreat, with 14th division forming the rear guard.   However first light also brought a renewed Russian attack on Possneck.   Victor could have moved one division over the river, but the remaining two divisions would have had to face the three Russian divisions.

He decided to stand and fight between Possneck and the river.    The town delayed the Russian advance and the French were deployed before the battle began.

The morning went well for the French.   Most of their cavalry was at the head of the retreating divisions, and had to quickly move east to cover the deployment.  But once in position they delayed the Russian advance, as did the town itself.

However by late morning there were worrying reports of Russian cavalry approaching the French left flank from the direction of Domburg.   The French cavalry were too busy with 3rd Russian corps to investigate, and the terrain made it difficult for the infantry to determine what was approaching.  

Just before midday he orders his left hand division to send their cavalry to investigate.  Unfortunately 4th chasseur brigade had suffered the most casualties during the previous day’s fighting.   But they were the only cavalry available and would have to make do.

Victor began to ponder the difficulties of a fighting withdrawal across the river in the face of a reinforced Russian attack.   There were still eight hours of fighting before nightfall and his corps was already in contact with equal numbers of the enemy.   A flank attack with fresh Russian troops would be difficult to counter with very few reserves available to him.

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