1600 to 2000 15 August 1813
Marshal Victor – Commander 2nd French Corps
Victor fought an aggressive fighting retreat towards the river Saale.
He held his right flank with a well timed cavalry charge against the Russian cavalry, infantry and artillery moving through the high ground there. As the artillery unlimbered on the edge of the hill to support the main 9th division advance, they were charged by a regiment of French dragoons. The gunners were cut down and the supporting cavalry and infantry routed.
Despite this there was nothing Victor could do to hold his left flank. 3rd division were attacked in front by 8th division and on their left by 6th division. Dubreton held the woods on his left to the very end, but his centre crumbled under the pressure.
4th division in the centre tried to retreat when it became obvious that the battle was lost. They sent their cavalry brigade to the rear to hold the vital bridge. This left their infantry to attempt a fighting retreat, but one regiment after another was broken and routed.
At the bridge all was chaos. A mass of routed French infantry and cavalry crowded the bridge and make the task of the French cavalry sent to hold the bridge all the more difficult.
Meanwhile 6th Russian division were fighting to reach the bridge and prevent the French escape.
Their infantry were blocked by the French infantry holding the woods. But their cavalry pushed ahead for the bridge.
The fought two cavalry melee to reach the bridge, and their victory added to the confusion amongst the French fugitives. By late afternoon the Russian cavalry had reached the bridge, and it was all over for 2nd French corps.
At 1800 Victor decided that all hope was lost. If he continued to fight he would only suffer more casualties. Each attempt to form a rear guard has failed. His formed regiments were competing with the routed mass in a race for the bridge, which was now in Russian hands.
This is the first time in the whole campaign that a full corps was forced to surrender.
Napoleon is now faced with a difficult decision. His army hold the west bank of the river Saale, which is a strong defensive position. Retreat will be difficult, as his army will be greatly outnumbered once the Russians have crossed the river.