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Battle of Wartenburg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Wartenburg
Part of the War of the Sixth Coalition

Yorck at Wartenburg
Date3 October 1813[1]
Location51°48′41″N 12°46′53″E / 51.8114°N 12.7814°E / 51.8114; 12.7814
Result Coalition victory[1]
First French Empire France Kingdom of Prussia Prussia
Commanders and leaders
First French Empire Henri Gatien Bertrand Kingdom of Prussia Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Kingdom of Prussia Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg
c.14,000-15,000[1] men, 24 guns[2] 16,000[1] men, 64 guns[2]
Casualties and losses
1,900[1] men, 13 guns[2] 2,100[1] men[2]
German Campaign of 1813
Napoleon: 3-4-9-16-17

The Battle of Wartenburg (German: Schlacht bei Wartenburg) took place on 3 October 1813 between the French IV Corps commanded by General Henri Gatien Bertrand and the Allied Army of Silesia, principally the I Corps of General Ludwig von Yorck. The battle allowed the Army of Silesia to cross the Elbe, ultimately leading to the Battle of Leipzig.


Map showing Blücher's move to the West prior to the battle of Wartenburg
Map showing Blücher's move to the West prior to the battle of Wartenburg

Following the his defeat at the battle of Dennewitz, Marshal Ney withdrew his army to defensive positions along the Elbe. The allied Army of the North, under the command of Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden (formerly French Marshal Bernadotte), followed them cautiously but made no serious effort to cross the river. To the east,  Marshal Blücher made a bold march skirting Napoleon's position in Dresden to join his Army of Silesia with the Army of the North, cross the Elbe, and threaten Napoleon's communications with France.

Major von Rühle was tasked with finding a crossing point where the bridgehead could, if necessary, be defended by an army of 50,000 men against an enemy three times their size.[3] The position he chose was at Elster, where the river makes a wide curve around Wartenburg on the opposite bank, and the flanks of a defending army could easily be supported by artillery on the right bank.

Blücher's army arrived in Elster on 2 October, replacing a force under Bülow which withdrew to rejoin the Army of the North.[4] That evening he established two pontoon bridges across the Elbe and began to feed across the first elements of Yorck's I Corps.[5] They found the ground unexpectedly marshy and cut with backwaters, which made it very difficult to deploy upon. Ahead of them a long dike separated them from the village of Wartenburg and the dry land beyond.[6] The dike was a perfect breastwork behind which the French could deploy their infantry, and the lack of cover made it an ideal killing ground.[4]

If the Prussians had underestimated the difficulty of the ground, the French commander General Bertrand made the opposite mistake. Having surveyed the area earlier in the year when water levels were higher, he believed his position to be impregnable.[6]


A map of the battle, labelled in German.
A map of the battle, labelled in German.

Bertrand deployed his forces as follows: Morand's French division was in Wartenburg, lined up along the dike. Franquemont's Württemberg division, severely mauled at Dennewitz and reduced to just four battalions and six guns, held Bleddin on the right flank. Fontanelli's Italian division and a small cavalry force under Beaumont were held behind in reserve.[4]

The battle opened with a direct attack on Wartenburg by Steinmetz's brigade. This advance was met with a murderous fire from the defenders, sending the remains of the brigade falling back to the bridges in confusion. Here, Blücher rallied them and sent them forward once more, but they were unable to progress beyond the dike. Blücher also sent Mecklenburg's brigade to follow the bank of the Elbe upstream and work their way around Bertrand's right flank, by 11 a.m. they ran into Franquemont's division in front of Bleddin where a furious fight ensued.[4]

By 2 p.m. the Württembergers had been dislodged from Bleddin, and Beaumont's cavalry swept aside by the Prussian Hussars. Wartenburg was now threatened from the east by Steinmetz and from the south by Mecklenburg.[4] The decisive blow came from Horn's brigade. Passing though an orchard, and crossing a stream and two dikes, they fell upon Fontanelli's men, who had been called forward to reinforce Morand.[7]

With his flank turned, Bertrand was forced to withdraw. IV Corps retreated first to Kemberg, and then to Düben where they established contact with Reynier's VII Corps.[4] French losses were 900 killed and wounded, with 1000 men, 13 guns and 80 ammunition wagons captured. The Prussians lost 1900 killed and wounded, with 200 missing.[2]

According to F. N. Maude, the "extraordinary tenacity of purpose" shown by the Prussian troops in this battle showed "how infinitely more important is the spirit with which men fight than the forms in which they have been trained, or the strategic relations of their fronts to one another."[8]


With the Army of Silesia established on the left bank of the Elbe, the Army of the North followed suit, crossing at Rosslau on 4 October.[7] Thus began a sequence of strategic manoeuvres that would culminate in the Battle of Leipzig two weeks later.

General Yorck was subsequently raised to the nobility with the title Graf von Wartenburg.

Order of battle


I Corps: Generallieutenant Ludwig von Yorck[9]

  • Advanced Guard: Colonel von Katzeler
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/Brandenburg Hussar Regiment (+jäger sqn)
    • 3/2nd Leib Hussar Regiment (+jäger sqn)
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/Brandenburg Uhlan Regiment
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/East Prussian National Cavalry Regiment
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/5th Silesian Landwehr Cavalry Regiment
    • Horse Battery #2 (8 guns)
    • Leib-Grenadier Battalion
    • West Prussian Grenadier Battalion
    • 2/12th Reserve Infantry Regiment
    • 1/Brandenburg Infantry Regiment
    • Fus/2nd East Prussian Infantry Regiment
    • 3/13th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Rekowsky
    • 2/14th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Thiele
    • 4/15th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Wedell
    • East Prussian Jäger Battalion (2 cos)
    • Guard Jäger Battalion (1 co)
  • 1st Brigade: Colonel Karl Friedrich Franciscus von Steinmetz
    • 1st East Prussian Grenadier Battalion
    • 1/2nd East Prussian Infantry Regiment
    • 1/6th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Fischer
    • 1/5th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Mumm
    • 3/5th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Seidlitz
    • 1/13th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Walter
    • 2/13th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Larisch
    • 4/13th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Martitz
    • 6pdr Foot Battery #2
  • 2nd Brigade: Generalmajor Prinz Karl von Mecklenburg
    • Silesian Grenadier Battalion
    • 1/,2/,Fus/1st East Prussian Infantry Regiment
    • 2/2nd East Prussian Infantry Regiment
    • 4/5th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Kosecky
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/Mecklenburg Strelitz Hussar Regiment
    • 1/,2/,4/2nd Leib Hussar Regiment
    • 6pdr Foot Battery #1 (8 guns)
    • 6pdr Foot Battery #3 (5 guns)
  • Brigade: Generalmajor Heinrich Wilhelm von Horn
    • 1/,2/,Fus/Leib-Infantry Regiment
    • Thüringian Battalion
    • 1/15th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Sommerfeld
    • 2/15th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Pettingkofer
    • 3/4th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Reichenbach
    • Combined 2&4/Silesian Landwehr Regiment Knorr-Kottulinski
    • 6pdr Foot Battery #3 (3 guns)
    • 8th Brigade: Generalmajor von Hünerbein
    • 2/,Fus/Brandenburg Infantry Regiment
    • 1/,Fus/12th Reserve Infantry Regiment
    • 4/14th Silesian Landwehr Regiment Brixen
    • 6pdr Foot Battery #15 (8 guns)
  • Reserve Cavalry: Colonel Freiherr von Wahlen-Jürgass
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/Lithuanian Dragoon Regiment (+jägers)
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/West Prussian Dragoon Regiment
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/10th Silesian Landwehr Cavalry Regiment
    • 1/,2/,3/,4/1st Neumärk Landwehr Cavalry Regiment
    • Horse Battery #1 (8 guns)
    • Horse Battery #3 (8 guns)

French Empire

IV Corps: Général de division Henri Gatien Bertrand[10]

  • 12th Division (French): Général de division Charles Antoine Morand
    • Brigade: Général de brigade Ligier-Belair: 1/,2/,3/,4/8th Legère Regiment
    • Brigade: Général de brigade Toussaint: 1/,2/,3/,4/13th Line Regiment
    • Brigade: Général de brigade Hulot: 1/,2/,4/23rd Line Regiment
  • 15th Division (Italian): Général de division Achille Fontanelli
    • Brigade: Général de brigade Martel: 1st, 4th Italian Line Regiment (1 bn each)
    • Brigade: Général de brigade St. Andrea: 1st Italian Light, 6th Italian Line Regiment (1 bn each)
    • Brigade: Général de brigade Moroni: Milan Guard Battalion, 7th Italian Line Regiment (1 bn each)
  • 38th Division (Württemberg): Generallieutenant Frederic von Franquemont
    • Brigade: Generalmajor Stockmayer: Combined Light Battalion, 1st Combined Line Battalion
    • Brigade: Generalmajor von Döring: 2nd, 3rd Combined Line Battalions (1 bn each)
  • 24th Light Cavalry Brigade (Württemberg): Generalmajor von Jett (100 total)
    • 1/1st, 1/3rd Chevauleger Regiments (100 men total)
  • Artillery: 32 guns


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bodart 1908, p. 459.
  2. ^ a b c d e Smith 1998, pp. 458-459.
  3. ^ Henderson 1994, p. 147.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Nafziger 1996, pp. 50-59.
  5. ^ Gneisenau 1996, pp. 210-211.
  6. ^ a b Petre 1974, pp. 297-299.
  7. ^ a b Hofschröer 1993, p. 62.
  8. ^ Maude 1993, p. 231.
  9. ^ Nafziger 2020.
  10. ^ Nafziger 2020b.


  • Bodart, Gaston (1908). Militär-historisches Kriegs-Lexikon (1618-1905). Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  • Gneisenau, August Wilhelm Anton, Graf Neidhardt von (1996) [1815]. The Life and Campaigns of Field-Marshal Prince Blücher. Hopewell, NJ: On Military Matters. ISBN 0-9653284-0-6.
  • Henderson, Ernest F. (1994) [1911]. Blücher and the Uprising of Prussia against Napoleon, 1806-1815. Aylesford, Kent: R.J. Leach. ISBN 1873050143.
  • Hofschröer, Peter (1993). Leipzig 1813: The Battle of the Nations. London: Osprey. ISBN 1-85532-354-0.
  • Maude, F. N. (1993) [1908]. The Leipzig Campaign 1813. Cambridge: Ken Trotman. ISBN 0-946879-55-9. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  • Nafziger, George (1996). Napoleon at Leipzig: the Battle of Nations, 1813. Chicago: Emperor's Press. ISBN 1-883476-10-0.
  • Nafziger, George (2020). "Prussian Forces, Battle of Wartenberg, 3 October 1813" (PDF). Napoleon Series. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 October 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  • Nafziger, George (2020b). "French Forces, Battle of Wartenberg, 3 October 1813" (PDF). Napoleon Series. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  • Petre, F. Loraine (1974) [1912]. Napoleon's Last Campaign in Germany - 1813. London: Arms & Armour Press. ISBN 0-85368-199-6.
  • Smith, Digby (1998). The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 15 June 2021, at 07:22
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