1600 to 2000 18 August 1813
Campaign Map at 0800 18th August 1813
Battle of Bad Kosen
With 3rd Russian division firmly established in the south, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before the French would have to retreat. Ney was determined to hold Bad Kosen until nightfall, but aware that he would have to give ground in order to do so.
By nightfall his situation was desperate.
All three Russian divisions had crossed the river Saale and were approaching Bad Kosen. In doing so they had advanced beyond their artillery support. But fortunately their cavalry had forced the French gunners to abandon their guns and seek safety in infantry squares.
In the north the Imperial Garde were still intact, and presented a formidable defence. However to the south 5th division had borne the brunt of the attack and were broken and in rout.
Marshal Ney had suffered a serious defeat. French casualties were heavy. His cavalry had routed and his gunners abandoned their guns to seek safety in infantry squares. His infantry put up a determined defence, but had to retire before the advancing Russians.
The long Russian approach march in the south, and then nightfall, saved the 3rd French corps. Ney was now faced with a general retreat during the night, or the almost certain destruction of his corps if he attempted to hold Bad Kosen.
Battle of Jena
By late afternoon both sides were aware that there were two fords over the river Saale, plus the bridge.
5th French corps extended their line to hold the whole length of the river. But this meant that they were spread very thin. In particular there were no infantry or artillery to spare to hold the southern ford. The Polish lancer brigade were given that task.
The arrival of 6th Russian division in the north allowed 4th division to move south opposite the bridge. But more important it allowed 5th division to cross by the southern ford. To do so they had to drive off the Polish lancer brigade. The Russian artillery concentrated on the lancers and forced them to withdraw from the river, but they failed to inflict any casualties.
4th cuirassier regiment crossed the ford and formed line on the western bank. They were immediately charged by 13th lancer regiment. This was the most critical part of the battle. If the Russian cavalry were forced to withdraw to the east bank it would be too late to attempt a second crossing. The initial cavalry melee was a draw, which allowed 3rd Cossack regiment to cross in support. The melee spread as all four regiments were drawn in. As the rest of 5th Russian division crossed behind the cavalry melee it became clear that the Polish lancers would have to withdraw.
As they did so the badly damaged 13th regiment was charged again by 4th cuirassiers. The Poles broke and routed into the 15th regiment, causing them to rout as well.
The casualties on both sides had been light. But as night fell 2nd Russian corps had were firmly established on the western bank of the river Saale. It may not have been a decisive victory for the Russians, but it was a significant one.