Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gera Campaign Summary

Master map at start of campaign

Napoleon ordered 3rd corps to hold the northern flank at Bad Kosen
2nd and 4th corps would cross the river Saale in the centre and south
1st corps was is approaching Gera soon

Wittgenstein ordered his three corps to hold their position
They are to attack any enemy who cross the river
4th corps is approaching Altenburg

14 August 1813

Three battles were fought on the first day of the campaign.
3rd French corps held the river line against 1st Russian corps at Bad Kosen
1st Russian corps defeated 4th French corps at Domburg.
2nd French corps drew with 3rd Russian corps at Possneck

15 August 1813

1st Russian and 3rd French corps (north) skirmish across the river Saale
4th French corps (centre) rout towards Erfurt
3rd Russian corps (south) attack 2nd French corps as they retreat towards Saalfeld
Outnumbered, and cut off from the bridge, 2nd French corps is forced to surrender

16 August 1813
Napoleon must decide whether to retreat or attempt to hold the river line
He decides to hold the river, and reorganises his battered corps
3rd corps will hold the north with three divisions at Bad Kosen
1st corps will hold the south with two divisions at Saalfeld
A new 5th corps is created to hold the centre with two divisions at Saalfeld
4th corps will remain at Erfurt until they have recovered and are operational again

The Russian army is badly in need of rest and resupply
Wittgenstein orders 1st, 2nd and 3rd corps to hold their present position
4th corps is ordered to Domburg where it will form the army reserve

17 August 1813

The Russian army spent the day resupplying and reorganising in preparation for the next attack.   Wittgenstein allocated each of the three divisions of 4th corps to support the other three corps in their advance west.

Napoleon took advantage of the unexpected lull in fighting to rest and resupply his army
15th division was withdrawn from 3rd corps to form an army reserve at Weimar
4th corps was urged to send at least one operational division to Jena

18 August 1813

Wittgenstein attacked again
1st corps (3 divisions) defeated the two French divisions holding Bad Kosen
2nd corps (3 divisions) secured a bridgehead but was unable to take Jena
3rd corps skirmished with the two French divisions at Saalfeld

Napoleon held Jena with the old guard and one line division
As night fell 4th corps arrived at Jena with two reduced divisions
This decided him to counter attack at Jena next day 

19 August 1813
3rd French corps attempted to rally on 15th division at Weimar
1st French corps held Saalfeld, which was not attacked
Napoleon fought, and lost, a desperate battle at Jena
At midnight he ordered a general retreat

20 August 1813
By first light the whole of the French army was in retreat
The Russian Army crossed the river Saale at Bad Kosen, Jena and Saalfeld
Napoleon had failed his campaign objective of taking Gera
Wittgenstein had achieved a notable victory by crossing the river and defeating Napoleon