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Bi j.u'iwi^JUK 


^-.7 b -^ J 





Possessions before 1772 

(1st Partition of Poland). 

Acquisitions 1772-1806. 






Royal Prussian General-Field-Marshal 



Captain, Unattached List (University of London, O.T.C) 





Unlike my previous book, Von liossbach bis Jena 
und Auerstedt, the present work is not as a whole 
based upon personal research, although as regards 
the battle of Eylau itself, and especially as regards 
the part played by the Prussian troops therein, 
this is to some extent the case. I think that by 
thoroughly examining the ground itself and com- 
paring it with the received accounts of the battle, 
I have brought forward some new suggestions 
that should be of use to the student who tries 
to clear up the doings of L'Estocq's corps on the 
8th of February 1807. 

My main object has been to provide a general 
and non-technical account of events between the 
double battle of Jena — Auerstedt on the 14th of 
October 1806 and the next great decision in arms 
at Preussisch Eylau on the 8th of February 1807 : 
a narrative which I myself felt to be a necessary 
supplement to the more comprehensive work 
which preceded it. 




Those of my readers who have followed my 
account of the Old-Prussian army in Von Eossbach 
bis Jena and my contention that history has been 
unfair to this much-maligned army, which yet 
had within itself the essentials of Old-Prussian 
worth and Old-Prussian valour, will ask — Where 
in the later stages of this unhappy war did this 
intrinsic worth manifest itself ? Bliicher's retreat 
from Boitzenburg to Liibeck evidenced it, but 
his force and his combats alike were on a small 
scale only, and the opportunity for a greater and 
more decisive act was lost when the old man suffered 
himself to be dissuaded from giving battle to 
Bernadotte on the 31st of October. 

The opportunity did not return until the day of 
Eylau, when, however, it came in the most brilliant 
and honourable form that can well be imagined. 
It was reserved for the weak, but brave and tena- 
cious East Prussian corps to retrieve the honour 
of the Prussian arms, and it was given to them 
to succeed. I have always held that it was at 
Eylau in 1807, and not in the War of Liberation in 
1813, that the old army vindicated itself before 
the tribunal of history, and my aim in the present 
work is to set forth the evidence in support. 

Convictions need time to mature, and particu- 


larly in the unfavourable environment of a general 
prejudice they present themselves but timidly to 
the light of day. All the more luxuriantly do they 
spring up and flourish when the time is ripe. In 
this way, just before the completion of my own 
study, I heard by accident of the admirable work 
of the pastor of Schmoditten, Dr. J. Hildebrand, 
and I was astonished to find that ifc was the outcome 
of a feeling identical with my own. 

" Only too long has the great mass of our people 
allowed the dark and unpleasant side of the events 
of 1806-7 to divert its sorrowful gaze from what 
was true and noble in those years. Only too 
completely has the name 'Jena — 1806' cast into 
shadow and oblivion the name of ' Preussisch 
Eylau, 1807.' . . . Here, at Eylau, was the place 
and the opportunity wherein the glory of the 
Prussian arms, forfeited wholesale by the neglect 
and senility of its leaders at Jena, was most honour- 
ably retrieved in detail." 

So says Dr. Hildebrand in his preface.^ 
That the battle of Eylau did not end in complete 
victory, that indeed no serious attempt was made 
to seize the laurels half won, was no fault of the 

1 Dr. J. Hildebrand, Die Schlacht hei Pr. Eylau (Quedlinburg, 
1906. H. C. Huch). 


Prussian corps. It was dependent upon the decision 
of a foreign commander-in-chief, and had to submit 
to the unfortunate consequences of this decision. 
Its own leaders at least were for fighting on, and 
had fate allowed them to do so, and led them to 
success, then would the victors of Eylau have been 
recognized and honoured by history as the men 
who revenged the disasters of Jena and Auerstedt 
and restored the military glory of Prussia. 

That fate ordained otherwise detracts nothing 
from their merit. Their just claim to the undying 
gratitude of the Fatherland cannot be contested 
and must not be ignored. Honour to their memory ! 




Lang genug als Dichter und Denker priesen 
Oder hohnten and're das Volk der Deutschen ; 
Aber endlich folgten des Wortes Taten 
Taten des Schwertes. 

Nicht des Geistes, sondern des Schwertes Scharfe 

Gab dir alles, wiedererstand'nes Deutschland . . . 

Ruhm und Einheit, auss're Macht und Wohlfahrt 

Dankst du dem Eis(m ! 

Lass die Harfen tonen von Siegesgesangen ! 
Aber halte mitten im Jubel Wache ! 
Unter Lorbeerzweigen und Myrtenreifem 
Trage das Schlachtschwert ! 

Denn die Zeit ist ehern, und Feinde drau'n dir 
Wie am Hofe Etzels den Nibelungen ; 
Selbst zur Kjrche nur in den blanken Briinnen 
Gingen die Helden. 

And're Zeiten, and're Geschlechtesr kommen . . . 
Und dem spaten Enkel, der deine Taten 
Dankbar segnet, werden des Kriesges Waffen 
Weider zur Pflugschar. 



In preparing the English translation of this work 
it has been thought advisable to recast the maps. 
In those of the original, several successive positions 
of the troops are shown on one sheet, by different 
conventions and colours ; in the present volume 
separate maps in black and white are employed for 
each situation shown. Three additional maps are 
included, one to show the territories of Prussia in 
1806 — her eastern frontiers then being very different 
from those of to-day — and two of the Jena opera- 
tions, to indicate the initial situation from v/hich 
the narrative starts. 

An important footnote referring to the dispositions 
shown on Map 15 will be noticed on p. 260. 

C. F. A. 




Sequel of the double disaster of Jena-Auerstedt — Disorder 
and indiscipline — King Frederick William attempts 
to negotiate — Napoleon refuses an armistice — Retreat 
of the remains of the army on Nordhausen — The march 
through and round the Harz — Napoleon's dispositions 
— Engagement of Halle — Prince Hohenlohe's council of 
war — Lucchesini and Napoleon — Arrival of the army 
at Magdeburg and state of affairs there — Retreat on 



The French cross the Elbe — Rath enow — Massenbach s 
disastrous influence — Rumours of Hohenlohe's march 
— Surrender of Spandau — Combat at Zehdenick — 
Combat at Boitzenburg — Weakening of discipline — 
Hohenlohe arrives at Prenzlau — Position of the 
Prussians at Prenzlau — The capitulation — Effect on the 
country — Surrender of Stettin 31 




False ideas of war — Humanitarian weakness in the leaders 
— The dangers of our own time — The present and 
the past 61 



Bliicher's march on Strelitz — Junction with Weimar's 
corps — Bliicher means to give battle — Continuance of 
the retreat to the Elbe and the west — Engagements at 
Waren and Nossentin — Bliicher and Pletz — Grave 
effect of the marches in retreat — False news — The 
passage of the Elbe given up — Retirement on Ltibeck 
— The street-fighting in Liibeck — The capitulation of 
Ratkau 78 


Napoleon's terms of peace — His arrangements for reinforce- 
ments — The defence of Thorn — L'Estocq — Approach of 
the Russians and influence of Queen Luise — Negotia- 
tions are broken off— Frederick William's " Instructions 
and Principles" — The Ortelsburg manifesto — Supply 
difficulties of the French — The position on the Vistula 
— Plans for crossing — Count Kamenskoi, the Russian 
commander-in-chief — Retreat of the Russians to 
Pultusk — The battle of Pultusk — Combat of Golymin 
— Exhaustion and demoralization of the French troops 
— Temporary winter quarters — Would it have been 
possible to defend the Vistula? — Combat of Soldau . 110 




Standing winter quarters— Napoleon's preparations —Ney's 
unauthorized advance spoils Napoleon's plans — 
Bennigsen's offensive — Advance of the Allies — Engage- 
ment at Mohrungen — Scharnhorst as L'Estocq's 
"assistant" — Difficulties of his position — Napoleon's 
negotiations — News of the Russian advance — 
Napoleon resolves upon a counter-offensive — His pre- 
cautions for supply — Advance of the French army — 
" His Sacred Majesty Chance " 168 


Allenstein — Gottkendorf — Jonkendorf — Combat of Berg- 
friede — Situation on the AUe — Retreat of L'Estocq's 
corps from Freistadt — Sport and the communication 
service — Disaster to the outpost brigades at Walters- 
dorf — Engagements at Wolfsdorf and Open — Engage- 
ments at Heilsberg and Hof — Bennigsen retreats upon 
Preussisch-Eylau — Condition of the Russian army — 
Condition of the French — Devastation of the country . 208 



Preliminary combat of the 7th — The fight for the town — 
The two armies on the 8th of February — The power 
of theory — The artillery duel — Napoleon's plan of 
attack — The disaster to Augereau's corps — Napoleon 
in danger — The cavalry battle — Davout's enveloping 



attack — ^Assault on the Kreege-Berg — Retirement of 
the Russian left wing — Fall of Kutschitten and 
Auklappen— The advance of L'Estocq's corps to the 
battlefield — Order of march — Terrain — Ney's advanced 
guard is encountered — Fighting at Wackern and 
Pompicken — Success of the flank march — Althof 
reached — L'Estocq decides to march on Kutschitten — 
The village stormed — Capture of the Birch Wood — 
Auklappen retaken — The attack suspended — Ney's 
arrival — Comparison of Eylau and Vionville — Ben- 
nigsen retires from the field — Indiscipline in the 
French army — Consequences of the battle — Did 
Napoleon contemplate retreat? — The French depart 
into winter quarters — Conduct and leadership of 
L'Estocq's corps — L'Estocq and Scharnhorst . . 247 

Envoy 328 

Index of Names 331 

Index of Places 335 






Prussia in 1806 . 
Situation on October 9, 1806 

October 13 

October 16 

October 20 
„ October 25 

Prenzlau to Liibeck 

8. Napoleon's advance into Poland 

9. Positions on December 22, 1806 

10. Winter Quarters of the French, 

1807 . 

11. Positions on January 31, 1807 

12. „ Februarys „ 

13. „ February 5 „ 
14a. Movements on February 6, 7, 8 
14b. L'Estocq's march to Althof 

15. Battle of Eylau 


\ opposite p. 1 


y opposite p. 112 
[■ opposite p. 116 

At end of 

MAP 2. 

MAP 3. 




At the Webichtholz, before the gates of Weimar, a 
fierce charge of the French cavalry had dispersed 
the remnants of the Prussian army that had escaped 
from the field of Jena on the afternoon of the 14th 
of October 1806. Half dazed, Prince Hohenlohe, 
the general who for the first time had undergone 
decisive defeat, let himself be borne away in flight 
by his staff. Grief over the disaster so mastered 
him that his officers scarcely recognized their once 
cheerful and vigorous leader. The tension of the 
great crisis was over, and left him, sixty years old 
as he was, the prey of physical weariness. Only 
youth's elastic courage can be expected to recover 
itself when Pate has dealt it a blow like Jena. 
Narrowly escaping from the French horsemen, 


who pursued the crowds of fugitives through 
Weimar, and captured one of the generals, the 
Prince and his suite, accompanied by some few 
regiments of cavalry, reached Schloss Vippach 
at about 10 p.m. Of his army, part fled in rout to 
Erfurt and past Erfurt to Langensalza ; part, led 
by one and another general, retreated northward. 

Meantime, the Prussian main army, retreating 
in tolerable order from Auerstedt, had headed 
for Weimar, expecting to join Hohenlohe, whose 
disaster was as yet unknown. Suddenly encounter- 
ing the French, 1 who had already passed the Ilm, 
the Prussians swerved and gradually broke up. 
Only the "advanced guard" division ^ of the 
Duke of Weimar, which was retiring from the 
Thiiringer Wald and had not been engaged in 
the battles, was in complete order ; this force 
was now near Erfurt.^ 

However, during the night that followed Prussia's 
appalling disasters, some 60,000 were by degrees re- 
assembled about Sommerda, Sondershausen, and 
Langensalza. Some sort of a retreat over the 
Unstrut and some sort of renewed resistance on the 
other side would have been possible, had there been 

^ Bernadotte's corps from Apolda. — Tb. 

2 The division forming the original advanced guard in the projected 
southward movement through the Thiiringer Wald. — Tr. 

3 There was further a small mixed corps under General von 
Winning, farther west, near Eisenach. 


but a single man capable of seizing authority with a 
strong hand, of electrizing the masses, and of lifting 
the leaders and the troops from the Slough of 
Despond. But there was no Frederick to be hard 
and pitiless to the poor in spirit. Monotonous 
attention to small details had killed the capacity 
for great resolves in the generals and senior officers 
of the Prussian army. 

During the retreat that foUoAved, all the routine 
forms were observed. Regular orders Avere issued, 
dealing with the usual minutiae in the usual pedantic 
Vv^ay, and the watchword was given out in due 
form. But all this was only a salve to the conscience 
that red tape had enslaved, and a drug for the 
individual's own anxious heart. " An unimaginable 
despondency had mastered the souls of the higher 
waST leaders," says von Lettow-Vorbeck.^ 

It was not merely the army that was beaten. 
The spirit that had lived in it and, now if ever, 
should have shown its vitality, began to ebb away. 
Disciphne vanished. Every one had known his 
duty in the battle — to play the man and to follow 
his general — but now the demand upon him was 
something different from this. In spite of anxiety, 
confusion, and fatigue, he was called upon to put 
forth great efforts, to freeze in the cold October 
nights and to endure bare hunger. Such things 

1 Der Krieg 1806-7, ii. 44. 


could not be borne, such demands were more than 
the soldier could fairly be asked to meet, for in those 
days there were no manoeuvres "under service con- 
ditions " to teach the troops endurance. "Habit 
gives strength to the body in great exertion, to the 
mind in great danger, to the judgment against first 
impressions. By it a valuable circumspection is 
generally gained throughout every rank from the 
hussar and the rifleman up to the general of division." ^ 
It was not that the demands of peace-time were 
small : on the contrary, the strictness and precision 
exacted at the crucial moment of a review-manoeuvre 
were quite extraordinary. But this was not the same 
thing as the stubborn endurance of the perpetual 
alarms and excursions of campaign life. Things 
happened that to our ears sound fabulous, and this 
not merely with the rank and file, but with officers 
and even generals as well.^ 

The events of this night of 14th/ 15th October 1806 
stand for all time as a warning against the mistaken 

1 Clausewitz, On War (English translation), book i. chap. 8. 

2 In the evening at Vippach, there was a discussion in tlic Prince's 
staff as to whether it would not be better to go on to Sommerda, in 
order to get clear of the stream of fleeing baggage-wagons which 
would make resistance impossible in case of attack. On the other 
hand, the enemy might very well be all about Sommcrda, if not 
actually in the place. Now, a staff officer could easily have gone 
to investigate — Sommerda was only five miles away — but, instead 
of this, the local bailiff sent a " trustworthy messenger," who natur- 
ally saw ghosts and came back with a false tale. The consequences 
of this were very serious. 


kindness of sparing an army in peace, and against 
harbouring the erroneous notion that even fighting 
efficiency suffices by itself to meet the stern 
necessities of war. 

In the old army discipHne and order were de- 
pendent upon the supervision of sharp-eyed superiors. 
When this was absent — as here in the darkness of 
the night and the press of vehicles and men on 
foot — then discipline and order ceased, for it 
became evident to the rank and file that the 
punishment no longer followed upon the heels 
of the crime as hitherto. The doctrine that " the 
soldier should fear his officer more than the enemy " 
was bankrupt, for the enemy had proved the 
stronger. Wagons came to a standstill, guns were 
abandoned, arms were thrown away, rascals fired 
their muskets at hazard, to increase the confusion 
and so to get a chance of plundering the baggage- 
wagons. In short, phenomena never before seen 
in the Prussian army and believed to be absolutely 
impossible in its well-ordered ranks, now made 
their appearance to an alarming extent. 

The King had intended to make for Erfurt. On 
the road thither, however, he soon encountered the 
enemy and, besides, received the news of Jena, 
upon which he altered his mind and gave orders 
to move on Sommerda ; it was no longer possible, 
however, for these orders to reach all the troops. 


On the 15th, at 7 a.m., the King was at Sommerda 
in person, and resolved to continue the march 
by Nordhausen on Magdeburg, which implied, of 
course, a detour tQ the westward. At all costs 
contact with the enemy was to be avoided, and 
therewith all idea of reaching the middle Elbe 
in advance of the enemy, and of uniting with the 
Duke of Wiirttemberg's reserve corps near Halle, 
to make a fresh stand, was ipso facto abandoned. 

In the French army, too, the exhaustion of the 
troops after their great exertions made its influence 
felt. It settled down in two main groups, on the 
Saale and near Erfurt. ^ For the moment, only the 
cavalry followed up, and at first they were without 
information as to the state of the Prussians and 
the direction of their retreat. Thus it befell that on 
the 15th even the road from Sommerda to Halle 
by Querfurt was clear. It was natural enough that 
a route running so close pJong the enemy's front as 
this should not be used. But no such reason pre- 
vented the Prussians from taking that by Sangers- 
hausen and Mansfeld — as in fact was done by some 
of the fugitives (Prussians and Saxons, under Generals 
von Tschammer and Zezschwitz). 

But consternation dimmed their vision, and they 

^ Davout, Bernadotte, Lannes, Augereau, and the Guard between 
Naumburg, Jena, and Weimar ; Sonlt and Murat abont Erfurt and 
Sommerda. Napoleon went to Weimar on the 15th. 


failed to see the shortest way to safety. Obsessed 
by the one idea of escaping from the French and 
their Emperor, the mass of the army streamed away 
northwards towards the Harz. 

The King sent a representative to his victorious 
opponent, hoping to obtain terms of peace by a 
frank admission that the game was up. It must 
not be forgotten that he had previously felt great 
confidence in Napoleon's character. Not very 
long before the war he had said straightforwardly 
that the Corsican had never deceived him. How 
little he knew the great demi-god ! Psychologic- 
ally, however, it is easily explained. Frederick 
William, whose simple, quiet, and peace-loving 
soul found its highest satisfaction in the con- 
scientious performance of the day's work and the 
happiness of his people, and knew neither ambition 
nor the thirst for glory, could not possibly com- 
prehend the conqueror whose devouring impulse 
for action and insatiable greed of power drove him 
from one war to another. That Napoleon v^^ould 
give up the enormous advantage that he had won — 
and could see that he had won — on the 14th, it 
was vain to expect. 

Worse was to come. Orders were issued to the 
troops that if the French were encountered, hostilities 
must not be begun — this at a moment when nothing 
but a stout resistance could impose respect on the 


pursuers and save the remnant of the army ! What 
wonder if the rumour spread that the war was over 
and peace concluded ? In the minds of the leaders 
and the hearts of the soldiers such orders could 
only heighten the existing confusion and paralyse 
all energy. 

Field-Marshal Kalckreuth, whom the King had 
appointed to the command of the main army/ had 
after the battle collected part of his troops at 
Sommerda. With these he intended to follow 
the King towards Nordhausen on the morning 
of the 16th, and to that end he drew up in the 
correct official form a long-winded " disposition " 
(operation order). At Weissensee, some four miles 
on, he found a weak French cavalry division 
barring his way. He had 10,000 men of all arms 
under his orders, and the enemy, 2000 strong 
and cavalry alone, had the worst of the ground. 
What an opportunity Fortune offered him ! To 
advance boldly to a brilliant success, and to put 
fresh life into the whole army by the news of the 
first Prussian victory, into which rumour would 
instantly have magnified it ! But no more blood 
was to be shed ; under a flag of truce a sort of 
armistice was arranged, and in the end Kalckreuth 
marched round the enemy. Even this was some- 

^ The Duke of Brunswick had been mortally wounded at Auer- 
stedt.— Tr. 


thing gained, for it is said (though Kalckreuth 
denied it) that there was talk of capitulation, the 
Field-Marshal imagining himself to be surrounded. 
And yet this is the same Kalckreuth who was 
soon to win for himself a place of honoured re- 
membrance in our nation's history as the manly 
defender of Danzig. 

The same sort of thing happened in the afternoon 
near Greussen. Marshal Soult with the cavalry of 
his army corps met the Prussian column. Negotia- 
tions began, Soult consenting thereto because he had 
not enough troops in hand to attack and wished to 
gain time. As if the war were a thing of the past, 
Kalckreuth gave the French marshal a detailed 
and accurate account of the state of the Prussian 
army, stating that it was to reassemble about 
Magdeburg, and that the Duke of Weimar — of 
whose movements the French had hitherto had no 
information — was still considerably in rear owing 
to supply difficulties, etc. etc. When Soult had 
sufficient troops in hand, he attacked and inflicted 
heavy loss on the Prussian rearguard. 

Meantime, on the 15th, Erfurt had, disgracefully 
and without the least necessity, surrendered to 
Murat's cavalry. The old Marshal Mollendorf,i 
the senior officer amongst the fugitives who had 

1 Mollendorf was eighty-one years of age, and had distinguished 
himself as a general officer at Torgau in 1760. — Tr. 


reached this place, had had to be carried to his 
room owing to extreme exhaustion. In his stead 
the Prince of Orange signed the capitulation, though 
as the King's brother-in-law and the King's general 
it was doubly his duty to hold out. The fortress 
commandant, a weak man, agreed, and none of 
the generals present protested. Some troops, well 
in hand, were standing ready to march off towards 
Langensalza. This movement was judged to be 
impracticable without an attempt to carry it out, 
and the worst that could have happened if the 
attempt had failed was, gratuitously and without a 
thought, accepted in advance. Nor did the Duke of 
Weimar, who was approaching with his corps, make 
any serious effort to disengage the troops crowded 
in and about the fortress. And yet what boldness 
could achieve, even at this stage, was shown by 
Lieutenant von Hellwig of the Pletz Hussars, 
who on the 18th, between Gotha and Eisenach, 
rescued some 4000 prisoners who were being 
marched from Erfurt. To-day the name of this 
hero is almost forgotten, and yet it deserves immor- 
tality, for a great deed in the midst of a great mis- 
fortune has a double merit.^ Such crises as this 
sound the hour of deliverance for the man of latent 
power whom the adverse conditions of peace- 

^ Gustav Freytcag has done homage to his memory in the last 
volume of Die Ahveii. 


service have kept down in obscurity, and who, 
suddenly released from captivity by the ruin of 
his prison, can give wings to his soul. 

The armistice, as was to be expected, was curtly 
and promptly refused by Napoleon (16th ). " I hope 
to end the war sooner in Berlin than in Weimar," was 
the Emperor's reply. Yet even in the insolence of 
success he did not disdain at the same moment to 
detach Weimar and Saxony from the Prussian cause 
by personal negotiations. A woman had impressed 
him. The Duchess Luise,'Tiarl August's wife, — of 
whom in his astonishment he is said to have re- 
marked that " Here is a woman whom not even our 
two hundred guns can frighten," — had by her firm- 
ness extracted from him a promise to preserve the 
duchy. Here and always, fearlessness obtains more 
than subservience from the great men of history. 

Prince Hohenlohe, meantime, in the despairing 
search for his army, had reached Sondershausen on 
the afternoon of the 15th. The cavalry regiments 
that he had had with him up to his arrival at Schloss 
Vippach had vanished in the darkness, and only a 
few troopers were still with him. B[is staff had great 
difficulty in preventing him from turning back, for he 
imagined that he was the only one who had retreated 
so far to the rear. "A general, and riding away with- 
out his army " he said to his officers repeatedly. 

On the lOth, at 9 a.m., t]ie King entered 


Sondershausen. Such was the confusion of his 
surroundings that he was without a penny. Prince 
Hohenlohe lent the King what he had, and borrowed 
some more from the Prince of Sondershausen. A 
consultation was then held, and the King decided 
to leave the army. There was undoubtedly a good 
deal to be said in favour of this, for the commander- 
in-chief would be better able to bring fresh forces 
into play, and to supervise and make full use of 
the country's means of resistance if he were clear 
of the turmoil of the retreat, than he could be in 
the midst of it. Notwithstanding all this, he 
would have been better advised to stay vv^ith the 
army. The news that the King — regarded by all 
as the actual commander-in-chief — had left the 
army meant, for the exhausted and disordered 
troops, that the game was really up. Of course 
no merely nominal command would have sufficed ; 
at this grave crisis the baton of command would have 
had to be grasped with a firm hand, if the necessary 
unity was to be re-established in the army. And, 
above all, it was desirable that he should not leave 
Magdeburg until the army reassembled there was 
reorganized and in a fit state to move. 

Incidentally his stay there might very likely 
have had the desirable result of his seeing that 
the governor, von Kleist — formerly a stout soldier 
but now too old — was not fit for serious work, 


and his appointing a younger man in Kleist's 

On leaving Sondershausen the King ordered 
Prince Hohenlohe to assemble the army at Magde- 
burg and to cover the capital, or in case this were no 
longer possible, to seek to join the East Prussian 
troops. But even in this extremity of distress 
personal considerations were as powerful and as 
insistent as ever. Kalckreuth received the inde- 
pendent command of the troops of the main army 
that he had collected around him. In so doing the 
King's idea Avas undoubtedly to avoid further 
offending the sharp-tongued critic who already felt 
that he had been set aside, and was disposed to 
claim that events had borne out his predictions in 
every particular. But in war blunders induced 
by such considerations are frequently the worst. 
Fortunately, however, a change soon came. 

Equally vague was the position of the general 
staff. Scharnhorst, as chief of the staff of the main 
army, should now have belonged to Hohenlohe, 
and fortunate indeed would it have been for Prussia 
had he been permanently attached to the Prince. 
But he was only with that general at Nordhausen long 
enough to sketch out the orders for the passage of 
the Harz, for at that moment Massenbach appeared, 
after wandering hither and thither, and claimed his 
former position with the Prince. In the prevailing 


uncertainty Scharnhorst had to give way in Massen- 
bach's favour. Filled with disgust at the sight of 
witless and spiritless generals, he betook himself to 
the rearguard and remained with it.^ 

The general movement of the principal groups 
on the 16th of October was towards Nordhausen, 
while the whole countryside, from Halle (where 
the Duke of Wiirttemberg's corps was), by 
Mansfeld, Nordhausen, and Sondershausen, to 
Miihlhausen (which point the Duke of Weimar 
had reached), was covered with fragments of the 
Prussian and Saxon armies. As a matter of fact 
there was no immediate danger. Soult and Ney 
had only reached Greussen and the district N.W. 
of Erfurt respectively, while Murat had pushed 
on towards Miihlhausen in search of the Duke of 
Weimar, instead of passing round the east end of 
the Harz to forestall the Prussians at Magdeburg. 2 

Nevertheless, it was in ever-increasing disorder 
that the march went on. Excessive precaution 
against the enemy frequently led to the day's 
marches being begun needlessly early and con- 
tinued into the night. Guns and wagons broke down, 
units were broken and scattered, quantities of 
supplies were abandoned because no orders had 
been given for their destruction. To obtain 

^ Max Lehmann, Scharnhorst, i. 446. 
2 Map'No. 4. 


some refreshment for the hungry troops, extended 
cantonments were allotted to them with all the 
pedantry of elaborate peace-time instructions — 
cantonments that it was impossible for the troops 
to reach. Clumsiness and indecision everywhere ! 

The crossing of the Harz range at least brought 
some sort of system into the retreat, as the columns 
had to thread their way along four roads in order not 
to block up the narrow mountain defiles in one spot. 

On the 17th of October a rearguard action was 
fought against Soult's advanced light cavalry, but 
this was the only incident, and in the Harz all contact 
with the enemy ceased. And yet this day proved 
noteworthy in the history of Prussia. 

The westernmost road, the longest but easiest, 
was allotted to the heavy artillery, for under the 
conditions of those days the Harz was impassable 
for heavy guns. There were still forty of them 
— a priceless asset for the reconstitution of the 
army, if such a reconstruction had been tackled 
in real earnest, for this arm could least of all be 
improvised in haste. A force was naturally told 
off to cover its march, but in the prevailing con- 
fusion we are not surprised to learn that this 
force failed to appear. Scharnhorst, who as usual 
was with the rearguard, heard of this and went at 
once to Bliicher to request him to take over the 
duty of protection. At the moment the latter had 


but few troops in hand, but he did not belong to 
the insufferable class of difficulty- makers of whom 
the army in those days produced so plentiful a 
crop. He was ready. Both men, posting them- 
selves at the point of danger, accompanied the 
artillery column in person, and during the toilsome 
days that followed there was cemented between 
them that close bond of friendship that was to 
contribute so powerfully to the weal of Prussia. 
Hitherto they had been regarded, the one as a 
rough old blade and reckless gambler, the other 
as a pedantic schoolmaster. The enlightened ones 
— the learned strategists of the Massenbach school — 
looked askance at Bliicher, the stiff soldiers of the 
Old-Prussian type — the tacticians of "heads right, 
eyes left," the neo-Salderns — at Scharnhorst. But 
at this moment and thereafter it was given to both 
to show their real powers. 

Under their guidance, order was brought into 
the march. The undismayed bearing of the two 
leaders visibly affected the troops. Fear and 
anxiety vanished. Needless efforts being spared 
them, the work that was really necessary, how- 
ever heavy it might be, was willingly performed. 
The brave grenadier battalion Rabiel many times 
victoriously repulsed the rushes of French cavalry, 
kept off the French skirmishers by the fire of the 
third rank, and always managed to rejoin the 


column, although " officers and men dropped 
and went mad from over-exhaustion." ^ 

Horses were requisitioned for the transport of the 
guns in good time, and not a gun was left behind, 
whereas those with the other columns stuck fast in 
the hills. For five days a daily average of 22-24 
miles was maintained. For that epoch it was a 
fine performance. It does not of course represent 
the limit of what is humanly possible — man and 
horse can endure more than the theoretician's fancy 
imagines. No good infantry regiment of to-day 
would think a march of 24 miles extraordinary. 
Cavalry and artillery, even on bad roads, can be 
asked to do more than this — as Napoleon showed 
the Old-Prussian army in his pursuit of it. Never- 
theless, the example of this march in the midst 
of the general chaos, slackness, and discouragement 
was most inspiriting, and incidentally it showed 
what the Prussian troops could still do, in spite 
of their inadequate preparation and poor equipment 
for field service. 

Undisturbed by the enemy, the foremost Prussian 
troops soon reached the northern edge of the Harz 
at Aschersleben and Blankenburg (evening of the 
18th) ; the main bodies were at Stolberg, Hasselfelde, 
and Benneckenstein, in the mountains. Away 
to the left rear near Scharzfeld (which point he 

^ Lehmann, Scharnhorsf, i. 450. 


reached next morning) was Bliicher with his artillery 
train, and at Heiligenstadt, far back and on the 
left flank of the French pursuers, was the Duke of 
Weimar. The enemy pursued, but in general only 
followed up directly by the Nordhausen road. 

Thu^, considering the circumstances, things had 
gone tolerably ^vell in this quarter. Elsewhere, 
on the contrary, this day brought two fresh mis- 

The Saxon commander. General von Zezschwitz, 
had separated from the eastern column of the retreat 
near Aschersleben and moved to Hettstedt with 
a view to reaching the districts of Barby and 
Gommern, outlying Saxon possessions. There he 
proposed to await the result of the negotiations 
that had already been opened with Napoleon, but 
finally he decided to send an officer of his own 
to the Emperor. The latter, who had from the 
first openly announced his intention of treating 
the Saxon alliance with Prussia as a forced one, 
willingly met these overtures. Saxony parted 
company with Prussia, and Zezschwitz conducted 
his troops home to their garrisons. Zezschwitz 
was no Yorck — and yet, considering the standards 
of the time, he must not be too harshly judged. 

More serious than the defection of a half-hearted 
ally was the overthrow of Duke Eugene of Wiirttem- 
berg at Halle — a disaster which might perfectly well 


have been avoided. The reserve corps under his 
command had assembled at Fiirstenwalde ^ and was 
moving thence in the direction of Magdeburg when 
an order from the King diverted him towards Halle. 
The Duke reached this point on the 14th October. 
A fresh message directed him to take up a position 
at Merseburg, in order to keep open the Saale 
passage there for the King in case of emergency. 
The cannon-thunder of Auerstedt was distinctly 
heard in Halle, but no one hastened to the battle- 
field to find out what was going on or which way 
the decision had fallen, although the distance was but 
30 miles. Only late on the 15th and in the night 
that followed did accurate information reach Halle 
— the army beaten and retreating on Nordhausen, 
the Duke of Brunswick wounded, and Marshal 
Davout at Naumburg and Weissenfels with 30,000 

The situation was now clear, and it was equally 
clear that the only thing to be done was to defend 
the Elbe about Wittenberg and Rosslau, so as to 
cover the roads leading to Berlin — the heart of the 
monarchy. But the Duke, like all other Prussian 
leaders, hungered for specific orders, and sent a staff 
officer to Eisleben, as he expected that the wounded 
commander-in-chief would pass there. The orders, 
however, did not come, and the Duke remained at 

1 E.S.E. of Berlin. 


Halle, taking utterly inadequate measures of security. 
His idea was that the French army would follow up 
the Prussians directly towards Nordhausen (as in 
fact had hitherto been the case), and that conse- 
quently he himself was in no sort of danger. He 
remained in this blissfully confident frame of mind 
when on the morning of the 17th he received an 
accurate account of the disasters of Jena and 
Auerstedt ; the pressing advice of von Bergen, his 
chief of staff (quartermaster-lieutenant), to fall 
back on the Elbe was ineffectual, for in the first 
place he by no means realized the seriousness of 
his position, and in the second — Prince and senior 
general as he was — he dared not form an independent 
resolution upon his own responsibility. To await 
orders and to obey them was apparently, for him 
too, the highest of all soldierly principles. 

One thing, however, he did, and that was the 
worst of all — he assembled his generals to take 
counsel witli them. By 8.30 a.m. they were 
actually all agreed as to the necessity of a retreat 
when a trumpeter of the Herzberg Dragoons rode 
up with the urgent news that his regiment had 
been surprised by the enemy in Passendorf, only 
a mile and a half from the town.^ 

Napoleon, the master of concentration, knew how 
to employ dispersion as well when the circumstances 

^ As the town stood in 1806. 


demanded it, above all when the fruits of victory 
were to be gathered. Already his clear vision had 
seen that his double victory impUed the conquest 
of the whole country as far as the Oder. For the 
present he reckoned upon meeting no resistance, 
and it was therefore unnecessary to keep his army 

While Murat (cavalry), Soult (IV Corps), and 
Ney (VI Corps) followed the disjointed remnants 
of the Prussian-Saxon main army, Davout (III), 
Bernadotte (I), the Imperial Guard and Lannes 
(V) had been given the direction of Berlin. Au- 
gereau (VII) was still far back, at Weimar. 

Bernadotte reached Querfurt with his corps (I) 
on the 16th, and moved thence upon Halle next 
day. It was his advanced guard that effected the 
surprise at Passendorf above mentioned. The un- 
suspecting Duke, even after the first alarming 
message, had no expectation of a surprise on a 
large scale. The position that he took up with 
his corps seems to us simply extraordinary. He 
occupied the heights S.E. of Halle,i facing about 
N.E., and with his back to Leipzig. Some few 
troops under General von Hinrichs were pushed 
forward on to the left bank of the Saale ; these 
had the bridges behind them and, according to the 

^ At that time Halle was a small town l3aiig close upon the Saale 


" scientific " fashion of tlie time, were widely 

The inevitable followed. When Bernadotte came 
on in superior strength, General von Hinrichs could 
not bring himself to draw back his weak force 
behind the protecting river. He had no orders to 
do so ! Consequently, he stood to be attacked, and 
the most gallant resistance did not save him from 
being crushed, unit by unit, by his powerful op- 
ponent. The General himself was taken prisoner. 

Meantime the main body under the Duke had 
at last begun to draw off. But nothing whatever 
was done even to prevent the oncoming French 
from issuing out of the town, and ere long the 
Prussian corps was attacked in flank, thrown into 
disorder, and cut in two. The separate fractions 
made off towards Bitterfeld and Dessau respectively. 

The disaster that befell the Tresckow Regiment 
was a separate affair. This regiment was advancing 
from Magdeburg by the left bank of the Saale to 
join the Duke's corps. Having merely been ordered 
to come to Halle, it had no suspicion of its fate. 
It marched into the enemy's midst and was broken 
and captured, only a small remnant escaping. 

The losses in this utterly purposeless and sense- 
less fight Avere exceedingly heavy — 87 officers, 5000 
men, 11 guns, and 4 colours is the probable figure. ^ 

^ Lettow-Vorbeck, Krieg 1S06-7, ii. 113. 


Unhappily, by far the greater part of the casualties 
in the rank and file was in prisoners. 

But even this was not enough. Thus rudely 
awakened, the Duke might at least have thought 
of barring, with the remnant of his troops, the 
otherwise completely uncovered roads to Berlin. 
But no, he must needs make an entirely unnecessary 
forced march to reassemble his corps on the farther 
bank of the Elbe, in a camp between Zerbst and 
Gommern, a process that cost him as many men 
from exhaustion and desertion as he had lost in 
the fight of the day before. 

And so this corps, too, that in better hands would 
have formed the kernel of a fresh defence, that 
might even have ensured the re-erection of a field 
army, perished shamefully, and its fragments 
disappeared without leaving a trace into the flood 
of the general retreat. 

The Duke, we may mention, resigned his command 
"for reasons of health," and left the army. 

The wreck of the main army moved on towards 
the longed-for haven of Magdeburg. During the 
18th it reached the line Wernigerode — Aschersleben, 
entirely clear of the Harz. Bliicher on his way 
round the mountain track reached a point half- 
way between Osterode and Seesen ; the Duke of 
Weimar followed him as far as the district between 


Ost erode and Gottingen. The foremost of the 
pursuing troops approached the Hne of the Bode. 

A new order from the King, which reached Hohen- 
lohe in QuedUnburg, at last cleared up the question 
of command. The Prince was to have sole control 
west of the Oder, Kalckreuth east of that river. 

At midnight on the 18th/ 19th Prince Hohenlohe 
summoned his staff, acquainted them with the 
new situation, and asked every officer present to 
give his views. The majority were in favour of 
continuing the retreat to Magdeburg and there 
resting for some days. Major von dem Knesebeck 
(afterwards the King's aide-de-camp general) alone 
suggested that they should throw themselves into 
the western provinces, in order to unite with Bliicher, 
the Duke of Weimar, and an entirely fresh corps 
that was at Hameln under General Lecoq. By 
offering a new and vigorous resistance on that 
side, and drawing the French thither, they would 
give the King time to form a new army which should 
take the field against Napoleon in concert with the 

With the capitulation of Prenzlau before one's 
eyes, Knesebeck's scheme is in many ways tempting. 
It deserved consideration for its boldness alone, 
and indeed, once uttered, it met with great approval. 
Massenbach, however, opposed the scheme, and 
it must be admitted that for the responsible leaders 


the most natural course was at least to attempt 
to reach the Oder at Stettin. There was no Ernst 
of Mansfeld or Bernhard of Weimar amongst them, 
and the march on Magdeburg continued. 

In the King's entourage illusory hopes of ob- 
taining peace at the cost of some small sacrifices 
were still entertained. On the 18th, at Magdeburg, 
he sent Marquis Lucchesini to Napoleon with the 
offer of '' everything west of the Weser " ^ and a war 
indemnity. He then travelled by Ruppin, Oranien- 
burg, and Wrietzen to Ciistrin, which fortress he 
reached on the 20th. It is easy to-day to see how 
vain were these hopes of obtaining peace from the 
devourer at the price of such morsels. 

And, indeed, it was fortunate for the Fatherland 
that Napoleon rejected the proposal. Had he taken 
the offered hand in friendship, then Prussia and 
her grateful King would have been chained to the 
triumphal chariot of the Emperor, like little Saxony 
and her Elector, and with similar results. Never 
would there have been that resurrection that, sooner 
than anyone could have imagined, was to come out 
of shame and tribulation. Napoleon forced Prussia 
into a desperate resistance, forced her to become his 
bitterest enemy and, unwisely harsh, brought about 
thereby the deliverance of Germany. 

On 19th October part of the army had already 

1 Map No. 1. 


reached Magdeburg, while the bulk of it was at 
Gross Wanzleben and Gross Oschersleben. Bliicher 
and his artillery column was at Salzgitter, the Duke 
of Weimar at Clausthal, Osterode, and Seesen. 
Neither, at this stage, could attempt to rejoin the 
main body at Magdeburg, for the way thither was 
barred by the leading French corps (IV), which had 
already reached Halberstadt. 

On the 20th the main army streamed on to 
Magdeburg. But Magdeburg then was by no 
means the great and spacious city of to-day ; it 
was a cramped town of narrow streets shut in by 
the fortress enceinte, and, possessing but 38,000 
inhabitants, was, relatively to its condition to-day, 
poor in resources. Magdeburg had been to the 
eyes of the fugitives as the mirage of an oasis — the 
place that should afford them safety, rest, renewal of 
strength, refilling of depleted ranks — the place whence 
the struggle could be resumed with fresh power. 
Bitter was the disillusionment. Prince Hohenlohe, 
who had ridden forward to arrange for the recep- 
tion of his army, could not blind himself for an 
instant to the terrible truth. Magdeburg was in 
irretrievable confusion. No steps had been taken 
to check the inflow of fugitives or to direct them to 
proper places of assembly. There was no provision for 
the orderly issue of supplies, arms, and ammunition. 
No arrangements had been made for the recon- 


stitution of tactical units. Above all, there was no 
attempt to divert the fleeing wagon-trains. No one 
had thought of throwing bridges across the Elbe 
outside the fortress to enable them to stream aAvay 
without blocking the road for troops. Wagons 
of all kinds poured through gate and street, 
and even the glacis was so completely covered 
with them that nothing could move forward or 
backward, not ten men in rank and file could 
pass without climbing or crawling, and not a gun 
on the terreplein could fire otherwise than into this 
mass of vehicles. " According to fancy one stayed 
in Magdeburg or ran out again b}'- the back way." 

At first rations were served out casually to in- 
dividuals as they presented themselves. But soon 
the Governor began to be alarmed for his own 
garrison's supplies, and refused to give the field 
troops any more. Of requisitioning in the well- 
stored environs he would not hear. Major von dem 
Knesebeck, who had been sent in ahead, was told 
roundly that the army must " clear out." 

Every one had to fend for himself. There was so 
marked an absence of readiness to oblige the troops 
that Prince Hohenlohe, who had recovered from the 
paralysis of defeat and was once more unweariedly 
active, had some trouble in obta-ining two small 
rooms for his headquarters. Difficulties of the 
meanest kind beset the mere business of command- 


ing the army, orders having to be given out in the 
passages or in the streets. We of to-day shake our 
heads and cannot imagine why his staff did not 
seize upon the finest house and the amplest accom- 
modation in the place for the work of the head- 
quarters, for nothing less than the fate of the country 
was at stake, and it was no time for considering 
private interests and private rights. But we forget 
that our ideas are not those of 1806, and that Avhat 
we should consider reasonable self-help would have 
seemed to them acts of brutal violence. Clumsiness 
and the force of habit had the army at their mercy. 
It was impossible to stay in Magdeburg. Onward, 
then, to Stettin over the Oder ! 

The choice of this point was sound. To take the 
shorter road to the Oder, Berlin — Ciistrin, would have 
meant imposing on the troops marches that they 
were no longer fit to perform, and it was impossible 
to allow them further rest, for very soon the enemy 
appeared before the fortress. On the 20th, more- 
over, Napoleon was already nearer to Berlin than 
the Prussian army. 

Stettin was now, as Magdeburg had lately been, the 
goal upon which the eyes of the fugitives were set. 

The haste of departure, of course, brought many 
evils in its train. Even now Hohenlohe did not 
know where to find the various units that were 
henceforth to form his sadly shrunken army. Some 


of them he told off to reinforce the Magdeburg 
garrison, which he beheved would thereby be brought 
up to a strength of 9000. Yet in the event, when 
the town was cleared at the capitulation, no fewer 
than 24,000 presented themselves — so numerous were 
the men who, either in malice or in ignorance, 
stayed behind when their comrades marched. Had 
the Prince been able to face events with 15,000 more 
men at his back, many things would have happened 
differently. Napoleon was a true prophet indeed 
when he called Magdeburg " a mouse- trap into 
which every one that could get away after the battle 
would walk." 

Massenbach, the chief quartermaster (chief of 
staff), refused to take any part In working out the 
orders for the march — these were details with whicli 
he would not be troubled. All the same, it was the 
details that were all-important in the circumstances. 
This opportunity of reorganizing the shattered frag- 
ments of the army into solid units under proper 
command was the last that came, and the time for 
practising grand strategy had passed away once 
and for all. This was the view of mere common 
sense, only it was not that of a man who intended 
to win by mind and art, and considered all else as 
beneath his dignity. 

At last, somehow or other, a tolerably appropriate 
set of orders was drafted, it seems, without Massen- 


bach's assistance. At dawn on the 21st the cavalry- 
was to pass through Magdeburg and thence to 
beyond Burg. The infantry of Hohenlohe's army 
was to follow as far as Burg, accompanied only by 
the smaller part of the train, viz. treasure-wagons 
and commanders' private carriages. The former 
reserve corps of the Duke of Wiirttemberg, now 
commanded by General von Natzmer, was to follow 
the above as far as Grabow (5 miles S.E. of Burg). 
The bulk of the cavalry and some of the infantry 
crossed the Elbe below Magdeburg and went into 
quarters. The Prince ordered field states to be sent 
in to Burg by all units, as a basis for further orders, 
and as it was uncertain whether all the troops would 
in reality march out, a general staff officer was 
posted on the bridge of Magdeburg to check the 
units as they passed and to direct them to their next 
halting-place. Officers, accompanied by a- civil 
official, were sent forward on the route to Stettin to 
provide for supplies and billets. Thus at least the 
most urgently necessary arrangements were made. 
All this the Prince reported that night in a simple 
and dignified letter to the King. 

Bliicher briskly continued his march ; the Duke of 
Weimar followed more slowly. The two generals 
met at Wolfenbiittel and decided to march on 
Stendal and to pass the Elbe at Sandau.^ 

1 Map No. 5. 



If we examine the positions reached by the French 
on the day on which the Prussians left Magdeburg, 
it will be evident that Hohenlohe's march to the 
Oder, if it had been executed with less haste and 
more forethought, must have been successful. 
The French left wing (Murat with the cavalry 
and Soult's and Ney's corps) following the Prussians 
directly, could indeed drive Blucher and the Duke 
of Weimar away in a divergent direction, but the 
main army was beyond their reach as soon as 
it had reached the shelter of Magdeburg. The 
other corps of the grande arm^.e had also to cross 
the Elbe before they could be dangerous, and 
for this operation they were poorly equipped. 
Their bridging train was scanty and had had 
to be left fa^r behind. The pontoons captured 
by Davout had been sent to Leipzig and were 
equally unavailable when the heads of the corps 
marching in the general direction of Berlin (Davout, 



Lannes, and Bernadotte in first line, Augereau and 
the Guard in second) approached the river. 
The Emperor in person had gone to Halle. He 
urged on the passage of the Elbe with all energy, 
knowing well that if he wasted time his prey would 
escape him. His adjurations to the marshals were 
incessant. Bernadotte was told to collect boats 
and to cross the Elbe on the 20th at the mouth 
of the Saale, but the attempt failed. Lannes, 
who had advanced by Dessau to Rosslau, reported 
that he would have the bridge there repaired 
after forty hours' work, and the Emperor at 
once directed the second-line corps to the same 
place, himself coming to Dessau on the 21st. 
But here, too, he was disappointed. Only a small 
part of Lannes' troops was got across, and the bridge 
was not yet ready. ^ Great was the wrath of the 
Emperor at being delayed by such a simple obstacle. 
But at this moment news came that the permanent 
bridge at Wittenberg had fallen almost intact 
into Davout's hands the day before. A Prussian 
detachment had set fire to it before marching off, 
but the nearest inhabitants had extinguished the 
fire, and thus enabled the enemy to cross the river. 
Napoleon thereupon resolved at once to cross with 

1 It appears that the bridge was completed on the 23rd, but even 
then it was so untrustworthy that Murat was uneasy about allowing 
his artillery to pass it. 


the bulk of the army at Wittenberg, leaving the 
bridge of Rosslau free for the left wing. 

This was at least a respite — for the movement by 
Wittenberg necessitated a detour — and fortune was 
kinder still to the conquered. Murat, giving up the 
idea of driving away the Duke of Weimar, marched 
on the 21st October to his right, reaching the Elbe 
at Barby. Here, however, he was quite unable 
to cross, and so he closed in upon Bernadotte. 
Thus for a moment actual pursuit ceased, and 
Hohenlohe temporarily regained his freedom of 
action. It appears that the Emperor no longer 
really believed in his retreat to the Oder. 

Involuntarily we reflect that things might have 
been very different if the Duke of Wiirttemberg, 
instead of aimlessly exposing himself to the disaster 
of Halle, had chosen the simple course of retreating 
to the Elbe and using his intact troops to defend 
the crossings. 

Hohenlohe's transfer of his army to Burg was ac- 
complished without interruption or observation by 
the enemy, although seriously delayed by the disorder 
in Magdeburg.^ For the continuation of the march 
the army was to form three columns. The main 
column under the Prince was to follow the route 
Genthin, Rathenow, Friesack, Ruppin, Zehdenick, 

1 Map No. 6. 


Prenzlau ; on his right the light troops under 
General von Schimmelpfennig moved by Plane — 
Fehrbellin; and tlie rearguard, composed chiefly 
of the former Reserve Corps, followed. The main 
body of the cavalry, vv^hich had crossed the Elbe 
below Magdeburg and was still scattered over a 
wide area, was to assemble at Havelberg, whence it 
was to move by Wittstock and Pasewalk — ix. on 
the least exposed flank — to Stettin.^ A far more 
natural course would have been to push it out to the 
south-east, where it could have watched the enemy's 
advance on the roads from Rosslau and Wittenberg 
tov/ards Berlin, at the same time veiling the move- 
ments of its own side, and, by moving on a wide 
front, would have utilized the accommodation 
afforded by a large area. 

The light troops, too, would have been better 
placed on the road Brandenburg — Nauen — Crem- 
men. The main column w^ould thus have been 
spared the necessity of marching on to the rendezvous 
and out to their quarters every day, the route would 
have been shortened, the effort w^ould have been 
lessened, and the supply work would have been 
made easier. The enemy had been shaken off, 
for the moment there was nothing to fear, and 
therefore there was absolutely no necessity to be 

1 The total force of these various columns was still 50 battalions, 
121 squadrons, and 6 J batteries. 


always in a state of " instant readiness." But 
these very simple measures occurred to nobody, 
for the wondrous influence of the " rules of the 
art " blinded every one to the obvious. 

On the 22nd the main column reached Genthin, 
the light troops Plane ; the rearguard followed ; 
the cavalry was farther back at various points 
nearer the Elbe. 

On the 23rd Rathenow was reached. At this 
point the simple soldierly instinct of the Prince con- 
ceived the sound notion of marching straight through 
to Ruppin without a halt. The troops had had two 
easy marches and were fairly rested and restored. 
The effort of a thirty-mile march could well have 
been demanded of them. One such a march and 
the army, or what now called itself the army, would 
have been saved. But just as the Prince was about 
to give the orders himself, Prussia's evil genius 
brought Massenbach before him. This officer who, 
when confusion was at its height in Magdeburg, had 
considered it beneath his ciignity to draft march- 
orders, changed his mind at this grave and pregnant 
moment, and urged the Prince to move not north-east 
towards Ruppin but north towards Neustadt and 
Wusterhausen, representing that it was an act of 
strategical madness to march on Friesack between 
the marsh-lands of the Rhin-Luchs and the enemy. 
The Prince replied, very justly, that the French were 


nowhere near ; but it was of no avail, tlie prophet 
stuck to liis word, and Plohenlohe, instead of shaking 
off the intolerable wiseacre and following his own 
excellent notion, was unhappily weak enough to 
give in. 

Thus it was that the Prussian army was deflected 
in order to avoid an enemy who, exhausted by very 
heavy marching, had only reached the Berlin and 
Potsdam region, over 40 miles distant, that very 
day ! Rarely indeed has strategical sophistry won 
a more tragic victory. Quite apart from the fact 
that the entirely unnecessary detour cut off the 
prospect of escape, the abandonment of the route 
upon which preparations had been made for the 
sustenance of the troops meant fresh privations at 
a moment when the restoration of the wearied men 
had become more urgent than all the rules of strategy 
and tactics put together. 

On the evening of the 24th, therefore, Hohenlohe 
found himself at Neustadt and Wusterhausen instead 
of at Ruppin. Not a yard had been gained towards 
the Oder. Yet nothing, of course, was to be seen of 
the enemy, who did not interfere even with the 
march by Priesack, which General von Schimmel- 
pfennig and his small flank-guard carried out un- 

At Neustadt Bliicher, who with his artillery had 
crossed the Elbe on this day near Sandau, presented 


himself at the Prince's headquarters. With him was 
Scharnhorst . The Zehdenick — Temphn — Prenzlau 
route was again adopted. Bliicher took the heavy 
task of leading the rearguard, the guns that he had 
rescued being handed over to another command. 

The Duke of Weimar was still far back. He 
reached Gardelegen, 25 miles short of the Elbe, only 
on this day, while Soult from Magdeburg made a 
vain attempt to head him off from that river. 

Yet even now, in spite of the fateful detour by 
Neustadt, the army might have been brought off 
safely had it not been for an unlucky accident. 

Napoleon meant to give the right column of his 
army a well-earned rest at Berlin and Potsdam. 
He seems already to have turned his thoughts to 
the coming campaign against the Russians, ignoring 
Hohenlohe. But at that moment it was — falsely 
— rumoured that a strong Prussian column of all 
arms had passed through Brandenburg. A girl 
who had fled from that place was the originator 
of the story. Military history can furnish many 
parallel incidents even in modern times. Mac- 
Mahon's march to the northern frontier, for example, 
was talked about by the country-people of the Metz 
region before any authentic news of it could have 
reached them. Coming events cast their shadow 
before, and the " wish that is father to the thought " 
generates rumours that give a hint of the facts. 


Such indications are not to be despised by a general, 
and Napoleon immediately took measures to deal 
with the situation should the vague rumour prove 
to be well founded. The idea of a rest was given up, 
and the pursuit of Hohenlohe Wcas resumed on the 
night of the 24th/25th. 

The most advanced cavalry received orders to 
hasten forward from Charlottenburg on Oranien- 
burg, and to send in to the Emperor all news that it 
could gather of the movement of a Prussian column 
supposed to have passed through the district. At 
Oranienburg it was said that Hohenlohe with 18,000 
men had left Magdeburg to march to Stettin via 
Kyritz. More cavalry was to push up to Hennigs- 
dorf on the Havel. ^ 

The French appeared before Spandau on the 
24th. The fortress was weakly garrisoned and in 
a neglected state, but the citadel was capable of 
defence. The commandant, however, unfortunately 
chose to follow^ the evil example of Erfurt, and opened 
the gates to Marshal Lannes upon a mere empty 
threat, even before terms of capitulation had been 
formally concluded. Lannes, too, had news of the 
march of a Prussian column on Stettin, but wrongly 
supposed it to have passed by Spandau and made 
its escape on the previous night. A servant of 
Prince August, seized in Charlottenburg, spoke of 

1 N.W. of Berlin. 


a retreat on Ciistrin, where the King was. Then 
Bernadotte, who had marched to Ziesar on the 
24th, reported in turn that Hohenlohe had retreated 
with 45,000-50,000 men by Nanen and Oranienburg. 
Thus the rumours of Hohenlohe 's attempt to get 
away to Stettin gained more and more consistency, 
and now the Emperor's orders followed in quicker 
succession. Lannes was to march on Zehdenick, 
Bernadotte to search for the enemy by Brandenburg ; 
Soult was set free to cross the Elbe on Hohenlohe's 
track, Ney alone remaining before Magdeburg. 
Murat and the cavalry were set in motion north- 
eastwards. Davout made his formal entry into 
Berlin; Augereau reached Teltow, 9 miles S.W. of 
the capital ; and the Guard went to Potsdam. 

Meanwhile the Prince and the Prussian army 
(25th October) wearily continued their movement. 
The foremost troops indeed got as far as Lindow, 
but the rearmost were scarcely clear of Neustadt ; 
for, in spite of the burning need of haste, the army 
was still widely distributed into quarters for supply 
reasons, and no one dared to set custom at defiance 
by requisitioning supplies from the surrounding 
country and enforcing close billets. 

Schimmelpfennig's flanking column reached 
Falkenthal (between Zehdenick and Oranienburg). 
Bliicher's rearguard did not get much beyond 
Wusterhauscn. The cavalry column made Witt- 


stock, the artillery bent away northward heading 
for Rheinsberg, and the baggage-train passed into 
Mecklenburg territory. A small mixed force under 
General von Wobeser remained behind near the Elbe 
at Sandau, to give a hand to the Duke of Weimar. 
Not even bitter experience could eradicate the evil 
practice of dispersion. 

Next day, 26th October, Hohenlohe heard that 
the enemy was not merely at Potsdam but had 
reached Spandau, and that they had even entered 
Cremmen and appeared at Gross Mutz.^ The 
Prince therefore wrote to tell Bliicher to come in 
by forced marches, and to the Duke of Weimar to 
say that he must shift for himself. He then moved 
on to Schoenermark (S.W. of Gransee), where about 
9 o'clock he called a halt and spoke a few stirring 
words to the troops. " There was not a trace of 
bad feeling anywhere, and some corps indeed 
appeared to be in the best spirits." ^ But this 
good feeling was not turned to account. Instead of 
going on to Zehdenick (only 8 J miles farther), 
and there crossing the Havel and heading for 
Prenzlau, the column remained halted short of 
Gransee. Disquieting reports came in that the 
French cavalry in great force was coming on by 
Liebenwalde and Oranienburg, followed at full 

^ Six miles south of Gransee on the road from Cremmen. 
2 Lettow-Vorbeck, Krieg 1806-7, ii. 239. 


speed by the corps of Lannes and Davout ; and 
soon the peasantry brought a rumour — false at 
the moment, yet only premature — of a disaster 
to the flanking column of Schimmelpfennig which 
was supposed to be keeping open the passage of 
Zehdenick for the main body. 

Nothing at all was done to verify this report, 
although it w as only 8| miles — ^not an hour's ride for a 
well-mounted officer of to-day — from Schoenermark 
to Zehdenick. Three fall hours the column stood 
inactive, and then, once again on Massenbach's 
advice, it swerved north towards Fiirstenberg. It 
is only too easy to understand how the troops 
little by little lost confidence in their leaders, when 
time after time, in spite of their manifest readiness, 
they were compelled to evade the enemy (who had 
not even shown himself) as timidly as if they no 
longer dared to look him in the face. 

From Fiirstenberg the march was to be by 
Lychen and Boitzenburg to Prenzlau, a route that 
seemed to offer the advantage — the enormous 
advantage, according to the canons of the time — 
of having on its exposed flank a chain of small 
lakes, ponds, and marshes. And yet if the Prussians 
had simply moved straight on Zehdenick, they 
would undoubtedly have gained that point. The 
enemy had only cavalry there, and was still in 
no great force, and they would not only have 


successfully cleared the passage of the Havel, but 
also inflicted on the pursuers a check that would 
have had an excellent effect upon their own moral. 

Massenbach's contention that Hohenlohe halted 
to wait for Bllicher is a poor excuse, for it was 
impossible for Bllicher to catch up the main body 
that day. Bliicher himself wrote to the Prince 
to that effect, adding the noteworthy remark that 
he w^as more afraid of night-marches than of the 
enemy, and would sooner expose his corps to danger 
than reduce it to sheer impotence by over-driving. 

The disaster to General Schimmelpfennig's small 
corps at Zehdenick, that had been mere rumour 
on the 25th, was hard fact on the 26th. The im- 
portance of this point, that Hohenlohe had over- 
looked, was grasped at once by Murat, who rapidly 
pushed out Lasalle's cavalry division thither, 
himself following with two more. The total of 
this cavalry indeed was but 3800, and the Prince 
could easily have driven them out of his way by 
a sharp and straightforward attack. But he could 
not rouse himself to do it. Schimmelpfennig, after 
waiting for him in vain till midday, gave up hope 
and departed, leaving this important passage open. 
Soon afterwards, the enemy coming on with great 
rapidity, a part of the Prussian cavalry turned to 
face them, and for a time offered an effective re- 
sistance. But delaying its retreat too long in view 


of the enemy's ever-increasing superiority, it was 
driven back and routed, part of the fugitives 
making for Schwedt, the rest for Stettin, whither 
their general had already preceded them. 

Hohenlohe's column had now lost its flank 
guard, and had moreover made another unnecessary 
detour. Only one thing perhaps excuses the 
Prince's conduct, viz., a letter from the King 
which arrived just at the moment of uncertainty, 
warning him that any engagement with the enemy 
was undesirable in the general interest.^ 

On this day, the 26th, Hohenlohe reached Fiir- 
stenberg, Bliicher Alt - Ruppin. The Duke of 
Weimar crossed the Elbe at Sancbu, and his rear- 
guard, under the stern Yorck, bravely repulsed an 
attack of the French upon the ferry — the first 
encounter in this luckless campaign that was a 
Prussian victory. 

On the 27th Hohenlohe's mournful march con- 
tinued. At Lychen, once again, there was an 
entirely unnecessary halt of three hours, which 
can only be accounted for by the indecision of 
the commander. It is true that the cavalry 
column, now told off to replace Schimmelpfennig 
as flank-guard, had to be given time to get into 
position, but, in fact, this cavalry, except one 
heavy regiment (Gensdarmes) failed to appear. At 

^ Lettow-Vorbeclv, Krirg 7806-7, ii. 211, t- 


last the main body resumed its march on Boitzen- 
burg. At that point Hohenlohe's aide-de-camp, 
von der Marwitz, and the squire ^ of the place, 
Count Arnim-Boitzenburg, had had plenty of 
potatoes cooked in the brewing vats, and in other 
ways made ready for the feeding of the hungry 
soldiers. Oats and brandy were ready for issue, 
and bread was expected from Templin , Avhere it had 
been collected before the army's change of direction. 
But when the column finally arrived the enemy 
had already come upon the scene — the points of 
Murat's cavalry. Fresh hesitation, an indecisive 
cannonade, while cavalry was sent for. It took 
the unhappy Prince two hours to make up his mind 
to attack. A few battalions moved forward with 
bands playing — and, lo ! the enemy vanished. 
Some prisoners were taken and some captive 
Prussians officers released, and all that was now 
necessary was to move on, to serve out the food — 
or what the French had left of it — and then to 
cover the few remaining miles to Prenzlau, which 
was still clear of the enemy. 

But this first ebullition of courage bore no fruit. 
The Prince had only seized and occupied Boitzenburg 
in order to screen his further movements from the 

^ Literally, the " owner of the lordship." Rural Prussia was 
thoroughly feudal, and the local lord exercised the powers, in- 
fluence, and jurisdiction of a mediaeval baron. — Te. 


enemy's eyes. In addition, there came a Job's 
messenger with the news that the Gensdarmes regi- 
ment had unsuspectingly ridden into the arms of 
the enemy (Grouchy's division) and had been forced 
to surrender. Once more — for the third time in this 
fateful retreat — the column was deflected northward. 

High authorities ^ have approved this detour 
upon tactical grounds, considering that a flank- 
march by night, from Boitzenburg straight on 
Prenzlau, was altogether too dangerous and that 
an attack would have disbanded the Avhole column. 
As if things had not already come to such a pass 
that one danger more or less did not matter ! The 
column was on the verge of a break-up in any case, 
for exhaustion and disheartenment had now reached 
the highest point, and a fresh night-march, or night - 
flight, was bound to give the coup de grace. Battle 
could not have made things worse than they were, 
and the army would at least have gone down with 
colours flying. The soldier who knows that he 
cannot face this alternative had better not aspire 
to the baton of command. 

Passing round Boitzenburg, the procession drifted 
on, in hunger and weariness, by bye - paths to 
Schoenermark 2 near Prenzlau. The march was 

^ For example, Lettow-Vorbeck, ii. 255. 

2 Not to be confused with the Schoenermark near Gransee, where 
Hohenlohe spent the morning of the 26th (above, p. 40). 


very severe, a deep brook had to be passed, and a 
steep gradient to be climbed. Tlie columns straggled 
apart, the bad characters availed themselves of 
chaos and darkness to slip away, others fell down 
from sheer exhaustion. Hunger drove away many 
a man whose hopes of appeasing it at Boitzenburg, 
as so often before, had been cheated. What the 
enemy had not done, prudence and tactical scruples 
had done for him — the last particle of resisting 
power was gone. 

Late in the night the column assembled at 
Schoenerm.ark. The march had covered 26 miles — 
nothing excessive for good troops well handled, 
but absolutely ruinous in the present miserable 
conditions of hunger, depression, and prolonged 
halts, not to speak of darkness and the bad roads. 
Not one of these things, however, exercised so 
baleful an effect on the hearts of the men as the 
perplexed attitude of their leaders, now patent to all. 

About 4 a.m. the Prince himself arrived at 
Schoenermark, and betook himself to the castle of 
Count Schlippenbach. A discussion arose as to 
which route should be taken in order to get to 
Stettin without meeting the enemy. If only the 
Ucker River, close by, could be reached at Prenzlau, 
the worst of the danger was practically over ; 
for this river runs in a wide marshy depression 
parallel to the Oder and empties itself into the 


Kleines Haff. Only a few embankments traversed 
the depression, which was reinfor(3ed as an obstacle 
by a chain of lakes. Besides the Prenzlau crossing, 
there was indeed another, 7 miles farther south, 
at Seehausen, but by good luck the bridge here had 
been destroyed by Schimmelpfennig's cavalry in 
their retreat, and the grass track joining Nechlin 
and Nieden, 9 miles below Prenzlau, was pro- 
tected both by its distance and by its bad state. 
If, then, the eastern bank of the Ucker could 
once be reached at Prenzlau, there Avould be 
no further need to fear that the force would 
have its retreat cut off by an enemy passing round 
it. A further advantage was that beyond the 
Ucker there was yet another obstacle which, 
though not so important, would afford a certain 
amount of protection, viz., the line of the Randow 
or Landgraben. 

In fact, Prenzlau was still free of the enemy, and 
this time the Prince rightly decided upon the 
shortest line, although voices were raised in 
favour of yet a fourth detour by Nechlin and 
Nieden. Only the cavalry, which had not j^et 
managed to come up, and Hagen's brigade of light 
infantry that accompanied it, were assigned to the 
Pasewalk route. 

Meanwhile the men were lying, utterly exhausted, 
by the wayside, and it was only by persuasion and 


force that they could be induced to move. Soldiers 
pressed the muzzles of their muskets to one another's 
breasts and fired, rather than have to march farther 
— to such a pass had prudent strategy and the fear 
of catastrophes and combats brought the army ! 
Up to this point, the main column had in fact met 
with no reverse. And yet it was helpless, and the 
courage that even in a hopeless fight would have 
found some sort of a way out, was broken by in- 
decision in the command and unnecessary toil. 

A military writer has very justly compared the 
army as it wended its way from Schoenermark 
towards Prenzlau to a long funeral cortege. It is 
a warning for all time that he who makes war must 
not forget its w^astage, and that even the most 
disastrous issue to an engagement may be less 
ruinous than the fear of it and the consequences 
of that fear. 

In Prenzlau the coming of the troops was awaited 
with tense anxiety. Supplies v/ere collected, and 
a portion of them was sent to meet the army ; this, 
however, was captured by the hostile cavalry. 
From the tower of the Marienkirche were seen the 
march columns approaching from Giistow, and two 
bodies of French cavalry on the Templin road. 
Delay was not yet dangerous. (Map No. 7.) 

The approach to Prenzlau over the flats was an 
embankment, 1| miles in length ; along this, in 


those days, there were but few houses and gardens. 
A swerve was impossible, for a fair-sized brook 
{Der Strom) ran along the north side of the em- 
bankment. To the south lay the wide marshes 
on the left bank of the Ucker. At the entrance 
to the Neustadt a gate and a palisade successively 
presented themselves, and farther in, around the 
old town, there was a wall. There was therefore 
plenty of opportunity for a stout defence, and once 
the marching column had passed the defile, the 
pursuers could have been held at bay for long. 
Here would have been work for old Yorck and his 
Jagers — but unhappily they were far away. 

In the town was Lieutenant Count Nostitz, who 
had ridden in ahead with a small body of horse. 
The French general Lasalle, who had come on the 
scene with his 5th Hussars, had not ventured to 
attack, but had sent word to Murat of Hohenlohe's 
coming. Murat had believed that the fighting 
would be at Boitzenburg, but Lannes, who was 
following him, had succeeded in converting him to 
the view that Hohenlohe would continue his march, 
and Murat thereupon started off for Prenzlau with 
the two cavalry divisions he had in hand. Lannes 
followed up with the V Corps, but only arrived 
at noon, when all was over. 

It was still possible for Hohenlohe to win through. 
The fortune of war had against all expectation 


turned in his favour. But, alas ! no recognition of 
this could now penetrate the cloud of despondency 
which had settled on all men's spirits. The em- 
bankment was still held, and the troops had begun 
to pass into the town. But the Prince allowed 
himself, in the most irresponsible fashion, to be kept 
in play by a French flag of truce, which for his 
benefit depicted the place as surrounded on all 
sides by large forces. He lost time in making 
dispositions, and so enabled Murat to come up. 
A brief cannonade began. The Prince rode in person 
to his artillery, which had driven up on the left 
side of the " Strom," posted himself in front of 
his cavalry escort and calmly faced the fire, in the 
secret hope perhaps that a kindly shot would free 
him from the burden of responsibility that was 
too heavy for him to bear. Only when his staff 
suggested that his presence was required on the 
other side of the town — where meantime General 
Count Tauentzien was forming up the troops as they 
arrived — did he ride away thither. General von 
Tschammer remained behind in his stead to hold 
on until the last troops should have passed. 

The French meanwhile began to press on, and 
as the Prussian guns were presently compelled by 
want of ammunition to cease fire and limber up, the 
enemy's cavalry succeeded in passing the " Strom" 
and cutting off the rearmost Prussian troops, the 


Prince August Grenadier Battalion amongst them. 
Some few squadrons broke away, but raced down the 
embankment alongside the marching column, hunted 
by the French. The latter, whom success and 
the recent strange timidity of the Prussians had 
made recklessly daring, broke into the ranks of the 
column. The paralysing cry of " Down with your 
arms ! " resounded. A Prussian officer was struck 
down without a hand being raised or a shot fired 
to defend him. One soul only, and he a boy of 
fourteen, Ensign von Petersdorff, fought like a man 
in defence of his colour, which he would not let 
go until the stave had been hewn in pieces and 
himself repeatedly wounded. Finally the men 
threw down their arms ; the rearmost covering 
troops were broken by a voltigeur battalion of 
Lannes' corps — the only French infantry that 
reached the field — some of the guns were seized 
as they drove off, and General von Tschammer was 
captured. Only at the tov/n gate was the pursuit 
temporarily checked, and it was but for a moment, 
for in the universal chaos even the walls were 
abandoned. The enemy now drove on into the 
town. The Prince himself was rescued with difficulty 
by his staff. Rejoining the troops deployed beyond 
the town, he busied himself witli the minor details 
of placing them in position — the infalhble sign of 
embarrassment in a general at a critical moment. 


Yet withal, sadly diminished as it was, the 
Prussian corps was not cut off. The French had 
still no means of passing the Ucker flats above or 
below Prenzlau to outflank it. The retreat could 
not indeed be continued without fighting, for the 
enemy pushing directly through Prenzlau could 
follow up on Hohenlohe's heels ; but there was 
no need to be afraid of fighting, for it was only a 
question of keeping off cavalry. 

But Prussia's baleful star was in the ascendant. 
During his conversation with the enemy's flag of 
truce west of the town (see p. 50) the Prince had 
sent Massenbach to verify the Frenchman's asser- 
tion that the Prussians were surrounded. Now, 
Massenbach was unaccustomed to severe personal 
exertions, and the strain of these last days had 
brought his excited fancy into a state bordering 
on sheer madness. As a rule he travelled in his 
carriage, and riding not only wearied him, but 
appears to have entirely bereft him of the power 
of reasoning. After leaving the Prince on the 
north-west side of Prenzlau, he rode to the Thiesorter 
Mill (about 2| miles from the town) and crossed 
the " Strom." This brook, however, he mistook 
for the Ucker itself, and when south of it he met 
Murat and Lannes with their troops, he assumed 
that they were over the Ucker, viz., close upon the 
Prussian line of retreat, which the advancing columns 


of the French were in a position to intercept. With 
this Job's message he returned to headquarters 
just at the critical moment when the unhappy- 
Prince was interviewing a French general (Belliard) 
who this time had really been sent in by Murat to 
demand the surrender of the Prussians. By this 
time Hohenlohe had lost all capacity for resist- 
ance, otherwise he would have closely examined 
Massenbach's information and detected the mistake 
in it. What a commander, to depend so slavishly 
upon a subordinate's ideas ! Indeed, even at 
Schoenermark the Prince had come to be considered 
as a cipher. " To the overclouding of the spirit 
there was added extreme physical exhaustion. He 
had eaten nothing for thirty- six hours." ^ In 
these conditions his heart accepted with culpable 
readiness the idea that neither retreat nor fighting 
was now possible. 

Presently Murat himself appeared, and in a long 
conversation worked up still further the hallucina- 
tions that already darkened the Prince's soul. It 
was all over v/ith the Prussian army. A capitula- 
tion was agreed upon. There was one more for- 
mality, according to the custom of the time, a 
consultation of general officers ; but when the 
Prince — the general of highest reputation, the 

^ Report of Major von der Marwitz, in 1806 : Das preussische 
OffizierJcorps (Prussian Great General Stafi), p. 229. 


victor of many a fight — saw no way of escape, it 
would have needed a man of nothing less than 
extraordinary force of character to make the 
venture, and even had such an idea been enter- 
tained in the group who surrounded the Prince, 
the rigid discipline of literal obedience and the 
systematic repression of initiative set a barrier 
that it was impossible for a subordinate to trans- 

Thus, without effective pressure from the enemy, 
the army, still ten thousand strong, laid down its 
arms. It was all over with the Old-Prussian glory 
" Many a man's heart was broken, but it was too 
late. The Prince with his suite rode back to the 
town in silence." ^ 

In the country at large, the news had a far worse 
effect than the double disaster of Jena — Auerstedt. 
" Prince Hohenlohe and the army have surren- 
dered ! " The game was up at last, it appeared, 
and its calamitous consequences made themselves 
felt immediately. 

The grenadier battalion Prince August, that had 
been pressed by the French cavalry towards the 
Ucker marshes below Prenzlau, perished gloriously. 

Led by their Prince, they not only steadily 
refused all proposals for surrender, but beat off 
seven successive cavalry attacks. Only when the 

^ Lett ow-Vor beck, ii. 277. 


French had succeeded in bringing up guns and were 
pouring case-shot into the Uttle troop (whose am- 
munition had been wetted in wading the deep ditches) 
did this gallant body give in/ and even then a 
handful managed to break away and to reach 
Stettin in safety. About a hundred grenadiers 
were left when the surrender came. On the con- 
trary, the needless night-march had of itself 
cost the battalion 276 men — tragic evidence of 
the fact that pale fear of fighting is more deadly 
than fighting itself. 

The cavalry column, in so far as it had not come 
up with the main body, marched on the 28th, along 
with its attached light infantry, to Pasewalk. In 
the evening there came the bad news from Prenzlau. 
Instead of acting, the generals debated. The 
defile of Lockenitz, which was close at hand on the 
Stettin road, offered security. Some were for 
continuing the march, others gave up all hope. 
" On one point only was there unanimity, and that 
was, that in any circumstances a conflict with the 
enemy was to be avoided." ^ The French cavalry 
under General Milhaud, which from Boitzenburg 
was pushing on toAvards Pasewalk, was diverted by 
the cannon-thunder on the Ucker. The defile 

1 Clausewitz, Preussen in seiner grossen Katastrophc, Appendix 
(Great General Staff), Kriegsgeschichtliche Einzelschriften, No. 10. 

2 Lettow-Vorbeck, ii. 283. 


of Lockemtz was occupied on the 28tli alternately 
by the French and by a Prussian detachment 
sent out from Stettin. The passage could un- 
questionably have been forced. And yet the 
column stood inactive at Pasewalk, and next day 
its bewildered generals positively sent out officers 
in search of an enemy to take their formal surrender. 
One of these officers met the French general Lasalle 
on his way to Stettin, and the latter proposed to 
send back a squadron to make prisoners in due form 
of five cavalry regiments and a fusilier brigade. 
But it was too late, for General Milhaud appeared 
before Pasewalk on the morning of the 29th with 
700 sabres and finished the business. One hundred 
and eighty-five officers, over 4000 men and 2000 
horses surrendered.^ Many men of the Leib- 
Karabinier Regiment — still four hundred strong — 
wept as they defiled before General Milhaud. " The 
sure sign of the ruin of the Prussian monarchy," he 
reported, " is despair. This evidence confirms us 
in our belief that there were many brave officers 
and men in the regiments thus scandalously sur- 
rendered to the enemy who would have preferred 
an honourable soldier's death to the shame of 

1 Only the small advanced guard, under Lieut. -Col. von Stiilpnagel, 
who had not taken part in the Pasewalk debate, and had started 
again on the evening of the 28th, successfully made its way to Stettin. 


There was even \^'orse in store. After Hohenlohe's 
capitulation on the 28th the whole of Lannes' 
corps had installed itself in Prenzlau. Grouchy's 
cavalry brigade lay north-east of the town, and 
Hautpoul's division of heavy cavalry from Templin 
had reached Mittenwalde. There were now enough 
troops in and about Prenzlau to undertake further 
operations. On the morning of the 29tli Murat 
went in person to Lockenitz. It was thought that 
Stettin was only held by some few stragglers and 
also ill-provisioned, and an officer conceived the 
bold idea of inviting her fortress to surrender 
then and there. In reality the place was capable 
of sustaining a formal siege, held by 5000 men and 
well supplied, and 100 guns were mounted on its 
walls. ^ The first suggestion of surrender was, 
moreover, rejected. 

But the incredible happened after all, for when 
General Lasalle, at four in the afternoon, repeated 
the demand, the aged Governor,^ Lieut. -General 
von Romberg, agreed to it. The great fortress was 
lost, and with it the line of the Oder. 

Yet even this v/as not enough. A part of 
Hohenlohe's cavalry, under General von Bila II, 
was to have formed the Prince's rearguard from 
Schoenermark, but arrived at that point so late 

1 In all 281 guns were available. 

2 He was eighty- one years old. 


at night of the 27th/28th that it could not follow 
the main column, from which it was presently 
separated by Milhaud's advance. On the 29th 
Bila II, with 18 J squadrons, by a northerly detour 
reached the environs of Stettin, and requested 
permission to pass through the place. This was 
refused by the Governor, who was then negotiat- 
ing with the French — whom doubtless he did not 
wish to vex by succouring the new-comers. All this 
is not legend, but the unvarnished truth. 

Von Bila II thereupon got away northward to 
Uckermiinde, and thence to Anklam. There he 
unexpectedly met his elder brother. General von 
Bila I, who, with one battalion and 120 men 
of the Baillodz Cuirassiers, was bringing in the 
contents of the Hanoverian and East Friesland 
treasuries. At Anklam, besides, there was a detach- 
ment that had been sent forward from Lindow with 
the military treasure, and the baggage column ^ and 
its escort, which had pushed on from Genthin. 
The river Peene was successfully crossed, and all 
went very well for one day. But through indecision 
the time was wasted instead of being turned to 
account in transferring everything to Usedom Island, 
which could easily have been arranged ; and when 
the news came that Stettin had capitulated the 
brothers Bila decided to do likewise. On the 

^ i.e. of Hohenlohe's army. — Tk. 


morning of the 1st of November they surrendered 
with 1100 infantry and 1073 cavalry to a weak 
force of French cavalry under General Beker. 

The artillery column that after the disastrous 
battles of the 14th had been rescued with such in- 
finite pains by Bliicher and Scharnhorst, had already 
met its fate. In accordance with Massenbach's 
advice, it had been sent by Alt-Strelitz to Friedland. 
Beside the artillery proper, the column comprised 
baggage and a mobile park, so that the total number 
of guns, horses, and vehicles was considerable. 
Twenty-four cuirassiers only were told off as escort 
and police. When, however, the column entered 
Mecklenburg it was met by a refusal to supply forage^ 
and thus the cominander. Major von Hopfner, found 
himself compelled to make for Prussian territory at 
once. He crossed the frontier and moved to Bolde- 
kow, on the road to Anklam. General von Bila II 
had told him not to come any nearer, but the French 
pursued him through Mecklenburg, and he too 
could think of nothing better than to surrender 
the 25 guns that were still with him. Tlie tiny 
escort had gone on beyond the Peene, and one 
cannot understand why the gunners and drivers 
could not have done the same, after destroying the 

Pusillanimity spread like an infectious disease. 
On 1st November Ciistrin, exceedingly strong in 


itself and protected besides by the Oder, surrendered 
without the least necessity. It is a significant fact 
that the commandant, Colonel von Ingersleben, had 
himself to send boats to the west bank of the river 
to bring over the French who were to occupy the 
fortress that they had so unexpectedly conquered. 

On the 8th of November came the worst blow of 
all. General von Kleist opened the gates of Magde- 
burg to the far inferior forces of the besiegers, and 
24,000 men laid down their arms. On the 20th, 
the strong place of Hameln and with it the field 
force of General Lecoq capitulated to insignificant 
forces of the enemy, and when six days afterwards 
Nienburg followed its example every single fortress 
west of the Oder, save in Silesia, had passed into 
the enemy's hands. ^ 

1 Even the insignificant fort of Plassenburg in Bayreuth was sur- 
rendered to the Bavarians on the 25th. 



So incredible do these events appear when brought 
home to our mind that we are as men in a dream. 
Yet no suspicion either of cowardice or of treachery 
attaches to the parties concerned. We have only to 
read the judgment of that sternest of all critics, 
Clausewitz, on the personal character of Kleist, 
the chief offender : " It is a pity that he should 
owe his fame to the surrender of Magdeburg, for 
he deserved to be known for better reasons." . 
" He had a quick and not uncultivated mind ; 
as a soldier he was keen and thorough, and his 
calmness in battle was conspicuous." ..." Al- 
though old and frail, his whole personality still 
bespoke the energetic soldier, the experienced 
general, and his career judged by the standard of 
the day was among the most brilliant." ..." In 
figure General Kleist was short, crippled, and 
shrunken, but the expression of his face was both 
soldierly and dignified. He was among the best of 
our military personalities of that time." 



Lecoq was another who proved a bitter dis- 
appointment to the Fatherland. He was the man 
who brought Scharnliorst into the Prussian service/ 
and was apparently himself a kindred spirit. His 
former achievements fully justified the general 
expectation that he would do great things, and yet 
at Hameln, like all the rest, he failed miserably. 

Less is known of the past life of the others, but 
they too had rendered great services in their time. 
That these men should, one with the other, all have 
proved equally weak and foolish amounts to a 
psychological puzzle. The similarity of these 
widely disseminated phenomena drives us to con- 
clude that they had a common origin. 

The stupefying effect of the terrible defeat on 
14th October explains much, but not all. The 
events of that day should, according to preconceived 
notions, have been so utterly impossible that the 
calmest mind might well be shaken, the clearest 
brain confused. But all this should only have 
affected the first few days, and ought never to have 
led to such shameful submission to the enemy's 

Physical cowardice certainly played no part in it. 
The subsequent searching inquiry in no case revealed 
the least trace of ignoble motives. 

To explain the quick succession of catastrophes so 

^ From the Hanoverian. — Tr. 


similar in type, we are, then, thrown back on the 
degenerate, insipid, and artificial conception of the 
nature of war, of the soldier's calling and the soldier's 
responsibilities, and also on the general mode of 
thought and sensibility of the period. 

Prussia had gone into the struggle Avithout making 
any special effort — without indeed calling upon the 
whole of the ordinary military means available even 
in peace-time. In spite of the crushing superiority 
of the enemy she left, as is well known, a quarter of 
her army at home, and garrisoned her fortresses on 
their peace-footing so that the expenses of the war 
should not be too heavy. 

It is perhaps too much to say that the magnitude 
of the danger had been underrated. Rather was 
it that all were alike too timid to draw the obvious 
conclusion from their knowledge of that danger 
and to make unsparing use of all means and all 
forces to oppose the giant. They wished to fight, 
but without strengthening the army by a general 
levy — without, indeed, having recourse to any un- 
usual expedient, for experienced men of the old 
school regarded such measures as intrinsically 

Above all, the country was not to be allowed to 
suffer, either at the hands of the enemy, or for that 
matter by participating in the contest at all, even to 
the extent of meeting an increase in the army 


estimates. And this represented not only the popu- 
lar feeHng, but also the Government's will. " Woe 
betide the Cabinet which, half-hearted in its policy 
and fettered in its ideas of war, meets an opponent 
whose crudely elemental principles acknowledge no 
law but that of inborn strength." The opponent 
they now had to face was, alas ! of precisely that 

What was apparently intended was a frontier 
war in the Elbe and Saale regions, in which the 
splendidly drilled Prussian phalanx would again, 
as at Rossbach and Leu then, display its proved 
offensive power in brief, brilliant battles, and once 
more assert the " godlike army's " former fame. 
They had no thought of a life-and-death struggle. 
Had anyone prophesied that the finale would take 
place on the far distant Memel River he would have 
been ridiculed. 

People's heads were still full of the idea that war 
was a game of chess between kings, in which victory 
depended on skill and reflection, and not on brute 
force ; a game in which the winner is quite satisfied 
with victory for its own sake. They readily ad- 
mitted that in this case the King had lost his game 
on the Saale, but could not understand why the op- 
ponent was not satisfied to let it rest there. No better 
proof of this mental attitude could be adduced than 
the childish hopes of a cheap peace with which the 


Court circle deluded itself after its terrible dis- 

To allow the country to be devastated, its pros- 
perity ruined, its calm shaken to the foundations, or 
its population sacrificed by continuing the hopeless 
struggle, seemed to the worthy and humane men 
who were in high favour at the time the very 
extremity of rashness and folly, in fact a crime. 
Nothing of the sort could be expected of any 
thoughtful general who had penetrated the secrets 
of the art of war and also infused the necessary 
element of diplomacy into his soldierly sentiment — 
or so it seemed to these enlightened minds. 

There is hardly a doubt that the disloyal com- 
mandants, one and all, honestly believed that they 
were acting from the highest sense of duty when 
they signed their capitulation and their shame. 
The " law of humanity " justified them in their own 

Kleist, the general once knoAvn for his brusque 
severity, declared it was a doubtful sort of glory for a 
commandant to suffer " the devastation of a stretch 
of such beautiful and prosperous country," merely 
to prolong the resistance, when " dure necessite " must 
shortly involve surrender in any case. He himself 
surrendered " to avoid greater misfortune to the 
State " . . . "to preserve the royal interests and 
the commercial town of Magdeburg," regarding these 


probably more in their relation to the terms of 
settlement when peace should be concluded rather 
than as a military end. The Commission of Inquiry 
when judging his conduct expressed its opinion that 
this motive alone was responsible for his anxiety 
about reducing the town to ashes and his unwilling- 
ness to have the suburbs burnt down. 

" Reduce the town to ashes, and the inhabitants 
to misery ! That I cannot, dare not, do ! " was 
Ingersleben's excuse at Ciistrin. His brave wife im- 
plored him " for God's sake not to cross over to the 
enemy and give up the fortress " ; but certain en- 
lightened and humane men of rank and distinction, 
such as Kammerprdsident von Schierstaedt,^ gained 
the upper hand with him, and contrived to remove 
the courageous woman at the critical moment. 
The disloyal Governor was declared worthy of a 
memorial column in his honour. Hard pressed by 
the civil authorities and by the inhabitants, he lost 
his head, and " the few who were ready to make any 
sacrifice were easily silenced by the multitude."^ 

Consideration for towns and populations played a 

^ It is said that Schierstaedt and KammerdireJctor von Liidemann 
had attempted to get into communication with the French com- 
manding officer at Berlin to ask his protection and to inquire where 
the Board of Revenue was to go. 

2 An assertion made by Thynkel, a lieutenant of engineers, at 
the court-martial held on the surrender of Ciistrin {1806 : Das 
preussische Offlzierkorps und die Untersuchung der Kriegsereignisse, 
published by the Great General Staff, Berlin, 1906). 


great part everywhere, even at Hameln, which did 
not even belong to old Prussian territory. Fore- 
seeing, as he explained, that if he defended the 
capital it would suffer incalculable misery. Count 
Schulenburg withdrew his troops from Berlin. And 
one finds practically the same wording each time the 
shameful abandonment of a town or a fortress occurs. 

When, at Prenzlau, Massenbach was advising 
surrender, he declared that he would " give him.self 
up to save the poor fellows " who stood armed and 
ranked in front of him. This need not be taken too 
seriously, for his bombastic self-glorification led this 
poor dreamer to be generous with such speeches. 
But when a man of Prince Hohenlohe's chivalry and 
courage can say similar things, that is, that he thinks 
it nobler to sacrifice his own fair name for the general 
welfare than to preserve it by the sacrifice of so 
many good lives that could otherwise be preserved 
for the country, then indeed we see a perversion of 
soldierly sentiment which could only have been the 
result of a general deterioration in the military 
spirit of the army and the nation alike. 

As if, indeed, it were a question of the Prince's 
reputation, and not rather of a desperate attempt to 
save at least a remnant of the army which, howt^ver 
small, might have served as the nucleus of a ]iew 
army to be formed ! Had they fallen like hei^oes 
they might have awakened the spirit of resistance 


throughout the country. But there was no question 
of that. " So Uttle had this spirit been aroused 
among the soldiers that a glance at their faces was 
enough to show the utter hopelessness of any sug- 
gestion to form a body of men who with no hope of a 
happy issue were yet ready to face death before 
disgrace. It was the sort of thing that would have 
been stigmatized as rash and quixotic, and refuted 
with the assertion that in a few days peace would 
surely be declared." Thus did blunt, uncompro- 
mising Marwitz express himself on the subject of 

Where was the spirit of Frederick, who, when 
in desperate case, flung these ever - memorable 
words at his friend, the Marquis d'Argens : " You 
are always talking to me of my person when 
you ought to know that there is no need for me 
to live, but every need for me to do my duty, to 
fight for my Fatherland and to save it if there 
be still a means to save it ! " ^ 

The heroic standard of the Old Prussians had 
been perverted by a long period of peace, and 
by the effeminacy which had come over their mode 
of Ufe, condemning passion as brutality, daring 

1 In his report of the capitulation (Great General Staff, 1806 : Das 
preussische OfflzierJcorps, p. 236). 

2 At Reussendorf, 18th September 1760 {(Euvres de Frederic le 
Grand, Tome xviii, correspondance de Frederic avec le marquig 
d'Argens, p. 193). 


as folly, and finding the greatest wisdom in art, 
moderation, and comfort. This misguided genera- 
tion had lost the power to understand that the 
highest wisdom is often found in a desperate deed 
which may save the situation when the superfine 
mind detects no way out. 

But we must not look back on those dark days 
with the pride of the Pharisee, however culpable 
these men may seem to us, and although wo 
see them laying down their arms without com- 
pulsion before a weaker adversary when for the 
country's good they should have laid down their 
lives as a solemn warning. It would be impious 
on our part to pride ourselves overmuch 
on our immeasurable superiority. The men 
of Magdeburg, Prenzlau, and Stettin were of the 
same stock as ourselves. In early life they ^^^ere 
as brave and as bold as the youth of our own 
generation. They were undone by a dangerous 
influence which crept in stealthily, and gradually 
enveloped them, overpowering at the most fateful 
moments the victims that it had rendered defence- 
less. It was their misfortune to be no loiiger 
soldiers pure and simple, but politicians and 
courtiers who from considerations without number 
were incapable of making the plain decision wliich 
their duty as soldiers demanded. There is no doubt 


whatever that Kleist, like the other governors 
and commanders, supposed himself to be acting 
upon a reasonable and justifiable policy in handing 
over his charge to the French. 

Germany is experiencing just such another long 
period of peace. She has become rich, and her 
riches increase daily. She grows in culture, but 
this growth in culture is unfavourable to the war- 
like development of the people. It compresses 
the army more and more into barracks and 
parade-grounds. Ground is more valuable ; unused 
stretches, once available for troops, are rarer ; 
the damage which may be inflicted by them is 
greater ; the derangement of industrial life by the 
soldier's period of service is felt the more keenly 
in proportion to the strain created by the general 
competition and the increasing value of time. 

All classes live in greater comfort than of old. 
The capacity for enduring privation and hardship 
disappears because it is no longer necessary, and in 
consequence compulsion and exertion appear to 
lose their point. To many, the careful distribution 
of the day's work rendered necessary by the short 
period of army service and by the many-sidedness 
of modern training which is the inevitable con- 
sequence of modern improvements in armament, 
seems merely a vexation inflicted on the soldier by 
the officers' mihtary ambitions. 


Some great danger visibly threatening us from 
abroad, as in the days before 1806, when the existing 
danger might liave served as a useful corrective, is 
what we lack, and the lack of it lulls to sleep our 
sense of the practical utility of a strong army and 
of the need of intense activity in the service itself. 

The idea, or rather the shibboleth, expressed by 
the word " mihtarism " is a product of our time. 
We speak of it as thoughtlessly as if it were a 
parasitic thing that existed for its own sake and 
fed upon the vitals of the people. This idea is 
dangerous, for it inevitably suggests that this 
excrescence on the body of the nation ought to be 
cut off, whereas in reality the question is rather. Are 
we doing enough in view of the secret envy wliich 
Germany's rapid growth to maturity has aroused ? 

Present-day philosophy teaches free develop- 
ment of personality. Everything which stands in 
its way should be put aside, the barriers imposed 
by the State reduced to a minimum, and in accord- 
ance with this tendency the authority of officials 
and superiors is becoming daily more restricted. 
This state of things on the one hand increases the 
difficulty of organizing and directing the masses, and 
on the other renders them more resentful of superior 

Our milder-mannered time regards with distaste 
the application of force, and dislikes the outbursts 


of a strong temperament. Those in command are 
required to execute their difficult task by methods 
of moderation, by imposing conviction, and not by 
exercising the full powers of authority. It is 
obvious that this tendency is not favourable to the 
rise of such strong characters as are essential to us 
in war. The integrity of the citizen, the principle 
of moderation which disposes him to resist all 
promptings to violence, is given a disproportionate 
value as compared with rugged worth of character. 
But the " poor man " whose feeble shoulders 
are to be spared their load, the nursling of public 
opinion whose " baccy " and " nip " have become 
inviolable, whose wages constantly increase while 
his hours of work are shortened, and who hears of 
nothing but his rights in the State and in society, 
never of his duty towards either, can only become 
more and more unsuited to sacrifice his all for the 
Fatherland in the hour of extreme need. Training 
is as necessary a preliminary to devotion in a great 
cause as to courage and bodily strength. It is 
this sort of training, how^ever, which our modern 
existence tends to ehminate, and the result will in 
the nature of things be felt at the moment when 
the mass of the nation is called upon to meet an 
exceptional strain for an exceptionally great effort. 
But at the same time, without the mass of the 
people there will be no great effort. The empire's 


independence cannot be maintained by a handful 
of men of high rank.^ 

Involuntarily the question arises, Will the spoilt 
multitudes, after a course of unmixed flattery, be 
willing to respond to the stern call to sacrifice life 
and property in the defence of the Fatherland ? 
That they should be so is an essential condition, 
if the fighting portion of the population is to go 
into the field in joyous confidence of victory. The 
warlike spirit must have its root in the nation if it 
is to flourish in the army. 

Then, again, there are the false apostles of to-day 
who condemn war as in itself reprehensible, A 

^ We may quote here from an essay which, though it deals ex- 
clusively with the way in which the State is financially affected by 
the masses, may well be applied to the moral side. ' ' The fundamental 
cause of the present unsatisfactory state of affairs is to be found 
in the fact that while the people's representatives in the Reichstag 
and Landtag are only too fond of enlarging on the claims their 
constituents have on empire and State, they leave practically un- 
mentioned the cleJms of the latter on the constituency. Given so 
new a system of government as our own, it is not of the least use 
depending on Jubilees and other public occasions such as the un- 
veiling of statues for the opportunity to speak of duty to one's 
country. We must have as the chosen or potential representatives 
of the people men brave enough and conscientious enough to tell 
them the truth even though it may be less palatable than the per- 
petual promises in which each party surpasses the other. 

" One of the greatest drawbacks to the so-called new, now old, 
economic policy, is that it deals ever with the duty of empire and 
State towards citizens, treating the obligations imposed on these 
by the bounties of empire and State as quite a subsidiary matter" 
(Prof. Gustav Cohn, Die deutsche Finanzreform der Zukunft, p. 5. 
Zurich, 1907). 


universal peace in which wolf and lamb shall dwell 
together in unity is proved possible by means of 
a multitude of misleading and seductive arguments. 
Thus do the shadows deepen over the ancient 
Germanic ideal of a proud nation of warriors, an 
ideal which is bound to lose its power to attract, 
particularly in a prolonged peace, when even the 
most martial-minded see that all chances of testing 
their prowess are fading gradually away. 

The trend of events with us, since our great 
victories in the middle of last century, is only too 

'' Victory brings might, might riches, but pros- 
perity luxury. It is a matter of experience that 
after any war there sets in a fever of speculation, 
a tendency to corruption, a way of life that is, to 
say the least, lax. The more civilized, the more 
wealthy a nation becomes, the greater the capacity 
for pleasure and indulgence. It shrinks from 
effort, and comes gradually to estimate property 
and ease more highly than the brutal pursuit of 
war." 1 

These currents are no more to be stemmed than 
the floods of mighty rivers, and it does little good 
to lament over them ; for in fact they always ebb 
again, somehow or other. In all probability, every 

1 Dr. A. Wirtli, Ilemmungen des Im/perialismus {Der Tag, Nov. 21, 
1006, illTistrated iinmlier). 


age has within itself some seeds of corruption. But 
one false idea, pushed to its extreme development, 
brings both itself and its age to destruction. Into 
a cycle of this sort egotism, the true daughter of 
to-day, has drawn us ; but the cycle will work itself 
out, and external pressure will force into a new path 
those who have pursued no object but their own satis- 
faction. This was the experience of our ancestors 
a hundred years ago. From fear they lavished on 
the enemy with enforced smiles what had been 
sparingly and grudgingly conceded to the defenders 
of the Fatherland.^ Every age stands in need of 
stringent self-criticism. It is the duty of its own 
generation to expose the seeds of corruption and 
make every effort to stop their abundant growth. 
It is undeniably in the general tone of the age, and 
not in the sphere of mihtary administration or 
training ^ (where the vulgar crowd chiefly looks 
for it), that the resemblance exists between our own 
time and the peaceful pre- Jena days. 

The prevailing ideas of an age exercise a powerful 
influence upon military development.^ It beho^^es 

^ For details see J. G. Fichte's Eeden an die deutsche Nation (copy 
of the 1st edition, 1808, Berlin, 18G9), Erste Rede, p. 10. 

2 Von Boguslawski, Armee und VolJc im Jahre 1806. Mit einem 
Blich auf die Gegenumrt (Berlin, 1900. R. Eisenschmidt). 

^ The systematic efforts of the Social Democrats and kindred 
organizations to nndermine the two main supports of the army, 
loyalty and obedience, and build up on the ruins tlieir own despotism, 
will not be touched upon here, the state of affairs being so evident 


us, therefore, to have a sharp eye for, and to guard 
against, half-heartedness in our miUtary effort, the 
hidden working of heresies which hypnotize our 
common sense by a parade of pseudo-scientific 
arguments, against any adulteration or dilution of 
the warlike spirit and of warlike passion, against 
diplomatic generals, against the interference of 
pohtical considerations with strategical and tactical 
decisions, and above all against the tendency to 
value more highly the art of war and perfection 
of technical training than the soldierly virtues. 
And may the army never again foster that timidity 
in the face of civil law which, in 1806, spared the 
country, to the great detriment of its own troops, 
only to leave it unconsumed for the enemy to devour. 
Let us be spared also the false humanitarianism 
which would shrink from a desperate fight and 
give up the attempt to escape in order to save 
the king his soldiers or his fair cities. The warlike 
spirit must not be allowed to die out among the 
people, neither must the love of peace get the upper 
hand, for all the greater would be the consternation 
at the moment of awakening. If the Fatherland 
is to remain victorious we must not let our old 
ideals of manly courage, fearless scorn of death, 

as to render warnings superfluous. We restrict ourselves here to 
speaking of those expressions of the spirit of the age, which though 
secret and more obscure, are none the less exceedingly widespread. 


and knightly virtue be destroyed, but must cherish 
and uphold them to the utmost both in this genera- 
tion and in all that are to come. 

'Nicht des Geistes sondern des Schwertes Scharfe 
Gab dir alles, wiedererstand'nes Deutschland ! — 
Ruhm und Einheit, aussre Macht und Wohlfahrt 
Dankst du dem Eisen ! " 



We turn now to Bliicher, and the scene is changed. 
The stage has been cleared of those learned and 
enlightened leaders who would have won by art 
without bloodshed, who would have overcome the 
enemy by the overpowering force of their strategic 
calculations and scientific conceptions of warfare, 
had war not been too rude to pay the least respect 
to their angles and their hues, their barriers and their 
spheres of effect. 

On the night of the 27th/28th, following 
Hohenlohe, Bliicher entered Lychen and Fiirstenberg 
after a severe march, part of his troops only reach- 
ing their quarters at 3 a.m., after covering 28 miles. 
Hostile cavalry (belonging to Lannes' corps) had 
followed upon their heels. Weary as they all were, 
the troops started again in the early morning of the 
28th — the day of the capitulation of Prenzlau — 
with the French cavalry in chase. The latter 
pressed forward, hot on the scent, and overtook 



the rearmost Prussians at Lychen. But the rear- 
guard, the Bliicher Hussars, turned sharply upon 
the audacious hunters, the Usedom Hussars of 
the flank-guard joined in, and together they flung 
back the French, taking well over a hundred 
prisoners. This was a first sharp lesson. 

Towards evening the column passed Hardenbec^k ^ 
and appeared before Boitzenburg. Here, like the 
main army on the previous day, it met the enemy. 
But, unlike Hohenlohe, Bliicher did not halt irresolute 
for several hours. Along with the other generals he 
had been advised by Hohenlohe to make the north- 
ward detour by Schoenermark. Instead, he attacked 
at once, and the enemy vanished. 

There was no news of the fate of the main column 
ahead of him, and the night passed in tense anxiety. 
At 4 a.m. (Bliicher himself says 3 a.m.), in darkness 
and thick fog, the column stood ready to move 
on towards Prenzlau. Then, just as the advanced 
guard was setting off, stragglers came in with the 
news of Hohenlohe's capitulation. Bliicher himself 
confessed that they "grieved and depressed him 

His little corps was now alone in the midst of 
the enemy, for even of Weimar's corps there was 
no news (Map No. 7). When Hohenlohe laid down 
his arms he was neither surrounded nor cut off. 

^ A few iniles~wcst"of Boitzenburg. 


Bliicher was both, for in front of him were the 
troops assembled under Murat's orders at Prenzlau, 
and in rear of him, besides Lannes' cavalry, was 
Bernadotte's I Corps, which after crossing the Elbe at 
Rosslau had marched by Zerbst — Ziesar — Branden- 
burg, and on the 28th had already reached the zone 
between Gransee and Fiirstenberg. Unfortunately, 
the gossip of the inhabitants of Brandenburg had 
put him on Bliicher's track, just as previously the 
peasantry of Weimar and Erfurt had put Murat's 
horsemen on the track of the enemy's retreat to the 

" I had to make up my mind without loss of 
time to turn about at once and go back towards the 
Elbe, which I did, taking the direction of Strelitz in 
Mecklenburg. As to what should be done next, I 
consulted with Colonel von Scharnhorst. ..." So 
runs Bliicher's report ^ of this memorable moment. 
Unlike the commanding officer at Pasewalk, he did 
not send out an officer in search of an enemy to 
take his surrender. His resolve was fixed at once, 
and he set his face towards his first objective, the 
only remaining path of escape. That done, he con- 
sidered the future. Thus acts the man of courage 
and common sense. 

Presently, Bliicher and Scharnhorst agreed upon 
one of the boldest plans that could well have been 

^ Before the Commission of Inquiry. 


conceived in so dangerous a situation. This was, 
to double back, join Weimar's corps, recross the 
Elbe and throw supplies into Magdeburg and 
Hameln, and by this foray in the rear of the ene^my 
to draw upon themselves so many of the latter's 
troops that the King would be enabled with the aid 
of the Russians to organize a new defence on the 

Officers and guides were sent out to find the 
Weimar corps, and to acquaint it with Bliicher's 
intentions and orders for the recrossing of the Elbe 
at Boizenburg.^ Unfortunately, they had to return 
with their mission unfulfilled. The corps could 
not be found ; it only reached a point between 
Wittstock and Mirow on that day (29th). 

Bliicher reached the neighbourhood of Feldberg 
unmolested. His swift resolution had put the 
enemy completely off the track. Next day he 
marched by Neu-Strelitz towards Waren, halting 
at Dambeck, unpursued as yet. " When I arrived 
at Strelitz, I posted a guard of 1 officer and 30 
men at the gate, and issued orders to my corps 
that no one was to be allowed, on pain of death, 
to enter the town. I hoped thereby to induce 
the enemy to behave with consideration." Even 

^ Not to be confused with the Boitzenburg that has figured in i:he 
narrative so often. Boizenburg is on the Lower Elbe, in the Liineburg 


Bliicher, it seems, did reverence to the idol of the 
time, exaggerated respect for private rights. The 
resources of the Uttle capital would have been 
very welcome to the hungry troops ; the Duke, 
moreover, was the King's father-in-law, and thus 
had a double incentive to furnish the King's troops 
with all that they needed. 

Massenbach subsequently made it a reproach 
against Bliicher that he had not spared his own 
country while moving into Mecklenburg, and the 
old soldier actually felt compelled to defend himself 
against this absurd charge. So powerful are the 
prejudices of the time ! Yorck alone was free from 
them, and "failed to understand why one should let 
one's men go hungry in order to feed the enemy." ^ 

On the evening of the 30th, a French flag of truce, 
which came to Bliicher at Dambeck to demand 
his surrender, was met with a calm and dignified 

Marshal Bernadotte had followed up Bliicher by 
Piirstenberg and Boitzenburg. At this point he 
assumed that the Prussian general had moved on 
Pasewalk in order to escape to the Oder — like 
other Prussian columns. On the 30th, therefore, 
he marched north-eastward. But, reports of a 
march of the enemy by Feldberg having reached 
him in the day, he swung round to the W.N.W., 

1 Lettow-Vorbeck, Krieg 1806-7, ii. 300. 


and reached the neighbourhood of Stargard, 16| 
miles from Bliicher's quarters at Dambeck. His 
advanced cavalry had already caught up the 
Prussian rearguard. The hunt had begun. 

One event, however, came on the evening of the 
30th to rejoice the hard-pressed Prussians. Quite 
unexpectedly, the Duke of Weimar's corps, now 
under General von Winning,^ was found to be at 
Speck, only a short distance from Dambeck. This 
corps had at first headed for Stralsund, but receiving 
tidings of general disaster, it had turned towards 
Rostock, with tlie intention of taking ship there. 

Bliicher at once assumed sole command of both 
columns, and now disposed of 22,000 men. For 
the moment his situation was by no means un- 
favourable. Frederick the Great had won Rossbach 
with no greater force, and Bernadotte, his closest 
opponent, was far weaker than the Franco-Germa,n ^ 
army that had faced Frederick on the 5th of 

1 The Duke was not only a Prussian general but a sovertdgn 
prince, the same who was Goethe's friend and the champion of 
Liberalism in the years after Waterloo. Napoleon's treatmen": of 
the duchy of Bruns\nck showed that he would not allow the same 
man to be neutral sovereign and hostile general. In the case of 
Weimar, he had, as already narrated, given the Duchess a promise 
to respect the duchy, and in consequence he naturally demanded 
the Duke's resignation of his Prussian command. With the ])er- 
mission of Frederick William III, the Duke therefore handed over 
the command to Winning. — Tr. 

2 A French army and the contingents of the smaller German states 
forming the Army of the Empire, not tobcconfused with the Austrian 
" Imperial " Army, which was the Army of the Emperor. — Tr. 


November 1757. One of Bernadotte's cavalry regi- 
ments had entered Neu-Brandenburg. Bliicher be- 
lieved him to be still closer, and assumed besides 
that the French troops at Prenzlau, now free to 
move, were with him. He calculated, therefore, 
that the enemy's combined forces were superior 
to his own, and that they would come on was a 
fact that admitted of no doubt. Nobody in the 
French army at this stage expected the Prussians 
to make any serious resistance. Lannes, for ex- 
ample, wrote to Berthier on this day that " the 
Prussian army is so thoroughly terrified that it 
throws down its arms at the mere sight of a 
French soldier." The Emperor assumed the cap- 
ture of Bliicher and Weimar as immediate and 
certain. Indeed, after what had happened lately, 
it was perfectly reasonable for the French marshals 
to believe that all they had to do was to prevent 
an easy prey from escaping. 

A new appeal to the decision of arms would 
have utterly surprised them. And this is exactly 
what Bliicher at first proposed. He desired to 
fight, and trusted that the superiority of his cavalry, 
both in quantity and in quality, would have 
neutralized the French superiority in infantry. 

In reality, Bernadotte advanced on the 31st of 
October alone. Assembling his corps at Neu- 
Brandenburg by 7 a.m., he left his exhausted 


men and a great part of his artillery there, and 
moved forward with (by his own account) only 
12,000 men, 700-800 horse, and 18 guns. In 
the course of the day he advanced to within 
some four miles of Dambeck. Had he encountered 
Bliicher, or had the latter marched out to meet him, 
he would unquestionably have attacked without 
waiting for supports ; Murat indeed had told him 
on the evening of the 29th that Bliicher had only 
12,000 or 14,000 men, and that it was only neces- 
sary to find him to bring about his surrender. 

In all three arms Bliicher was superior to his 
adversary. In spite of the clumsiness that crippled 
the Prussian troops, in spite of the spell of past 
defeats, and even in spite of the marches — or flights 
— that Prince Hohenlohe had demanded, victory 
Avas possible. Exhaustion was no greater a factor 
on one side than on the other. In the interests 
of our national history, it is deeply to be deplored 
that Bliicher at this crisis allowed himself to 
be dissuaded by his entourage and gave up the 

Wiseacre strategy could undoubtedly argue that 
Bernadotte would very likely not accept battle, 
that if he did so the Prussians might lose it, 
and that Bliicher's army would then cease to 
possess the attractive force which was to draw 
the enemy away into the west. 


Soult, too, had entered the Hsts. Kleist's in- 
activity in Magdeburg had allowed him to cast loose 
from that place, to cross the Elbe at Tangermiinde, 
and to march in pursuit of Weimar's column by 
Rathenow towards Wittstock. He had selected 
this route because he foresaw this very possibility 
of the Prussians doubling back to the Elbe, and he 
would presently come up to the west of the Miiritz- 
See. Should Bliicher's blow against Bernadotte 
fail, Soult would be in a position to cut off his 
retreat, while even if it were successful Soult's 
appearance in superior force would rob it of all 
its effect. 

These were the arguments with which the old 
man was assailed, and which led him to give up — 
with what a heavy heart we can imagine — the 
project of fighting. Even Scharnhorst advised 
him that it was more important to gain time than 
to gain a victory. 

Nevertheless, the venture ought to have been 
made. The old army should not have been denied 
the satisfaction of showing that even at this stage 
it was a match for the French. There would have 
been two things in Bliicher's favour — his wholly 
unexpected determination, which would have had 
the effect of a surprise, and his superior numbers, 
factors of great, if not indeed of decisive, import- 
ance. The effect that a Prussian victory would 


have had upon pubHc opinion and upon the enemy's 
conduct is not to be estimated. In war one must 
act with foresight, but one must not on that account 
foresee too many of the possible consequences of 
a venture. A first success often quite unexpectedly 
breeds a second, and events take a wholly un- 
foreseen turn. What Murat would have done, 
what route Soult (who only reached Wusterhausen 
on the 30th) would have taken, on the news of 
a disaster to Bernadotte, it was impossible then, and 
it is equally impossible now, to say with certainty. 

Even if Bliicher had failed to turn the course of 
Fate, the pursuit would have been brought to a full 
stop, and he would have been free to escape by sea 
and to present his victorious army to the King in 
Prussia. There, on the Vistula, his appearance 
would have been an event of high importance. 

As it was, prudence only prolonged the existence 
of his corps for eight days, and it influenced events 
on the Oder not at all, and those on the Vistula but 

From the events of this memorable day, we may 
learn that, for the bold, even in the most desperate 
circumstances, there is almost always one road to 
safety — and to victory. 

The continuance of the retreat westward was 
decided upon. Unnoticed by the enemy, Bliicher, 


who had divided his Httle army into two corps/ 
reached the neighbourhood of Waren and Alt- 
Schwerin, with the Miiritz-See and Plauer-See to the 
south of him. And yet on this day his fate was 
sealed, for the hounds took up the scent from all 

Murat, who had hitherto obstinately clung to the 
idea that Bliicher could only move towards the Oder 
and Hither-Pomerania, now swung in. On the 
evening of the 31st October he was with the bulk 
of the cavalry at Friedland. Bernadotte reached 
Ankershagen near Penslin ; forced marching brought 
Soultto Zechlin; two cavalry regiments under Savary, 
sent out by the Emperor himself, were at Neu- 
Strelitz ; and even Sahuc's dragoon division of 
Soult's corps, which had been employed on the other 
side of the Elbe,came to Rathenow. More than 50,000 
men set themselves to take Bliicher. Unity of com- 
mand indeed was lacking to this mass, for Murat, 
the responsible chief, was still distant. But unity 
of aim and singleness of purpose in pursuit of the 
object that their Emperor had given, was enough 

^ Each of these corps consisted of an advanced guard of light 
troops and two divisions of varying strength. Lieut. -General von 
Winning commanded the 1st Corps, with General von Pletz in charge 
of the advanced guard ; the command of the 2nd Corps Bliicher 
retained in his own hands — an example that is not to be recommended 
for imitation — and his advanced guard was under General von 
Oswald. The movement being one of retreat, the two " advanced 
guards " were in reality rearguards. 


of itself to hold them together so long as no sharp 
blow severed any link of the chain. 

Bliicher was only imperfectly informed as to the 
positions of his opponents. But, so far from his 
desiring to escape, it was actually part of his plan of 
operation that the enemy should be at his h(5els. 
This was, however, a dangerous game, for it me^ant 
perpetual fighting in retreat, struggling only to give 
way, and engaging without letting himself be really 
overtaken and brought to action. There is hardly 
a single operation of war that is more ticklish than 
this. It calls for great skill a^nd resolution in the 
leaders of all ranks, and great endurance and steadi- 
ness in the rank and file. It may bring even fresh 
troops, well equipped with all necessaries, to the 
verge of dissolution, and here it was to be carried 
out by an army already exhausted by a long retreat, 
and suffering every sort of privation. In order not 
to break down this army utterly, it was distributed 
each day into widespread billets, for this country 
has but few localities of any size. For the next day's 
march an initial point of assembly was chosen as far 
back as possible. In the afternoon, if it was certain 
that the enemy could not attack any more, the 
columns broke up again. Often night overtook 
them in the process. Thus were their exertions 
multiplied — and yet what a^lternative was there, in 
the prevailing ignorance of the ways and means of 


self-help ? Then, too, a strong rearguard had to keep 
the enemy in sight, and ipso facto to submit to the 
enemy's observation itself. Thus there was bound 
to be serious fighting. 

In this fashion the retreat was to continue 
on the 1st of November, in two columns, the 1st 
Corps to the south, the 2nd to the north, behind the 
defiles of the Plauer-See. The march began, but 
almost at the outset there was a disaster. The 
French pursuit was chiefly directed against the 
southern column, and the weak body of cavalry 
forming its rearguard was cut off in Waren, and 

Bernadotte, whose deficiency in cavalry had been 
remedied by the arrival of Savary's regiments, 
pushed forward at once. Half -a\ ay to Nossentin, at 
Jabel, his advanced guard caught up the Prussian 
rearguard. Old Pletz, Avhose fine soldierly figure 
has been vividly portrayed for us, commanded 
the latter, and under him Yorck led the rearmost 
troops. He turned about and deployed in good 
time, and without delay attacked the French cavalry, 
as it pressed forward out of Waren, with a half- 
regiment each of the Pletz and the Kohler Hussars. 
" It was one of those rare occasions in which nobody 
wheeled about before the shock. Blade struck 
upon blade " ^ The French were hurled back, and 

^ Malachowski, Er inner img en aus dem alien Preussen (Leipzig, 


fled into Waren again, leaving numerous prisoners ^ 
on the Prussians' hands. 

" Indescribable was the jubilation and delight of 
all of us. We had seen that the French wercj not 
invincible. I am firmly convinced that at that 
moment our men would have flung themselves upon 
the strongest enemy and beaten him, and I shall 
therefore go to the grave with the conviction that 
the Prussian army of 1806, well led, would have 
been as victorious as the Prussian army of 1813." ^ 

Meanwhile the Prussian infantry had occupi(id a 
defile on the route and were holding it against Ber- 
nadotte's oncoming infantry. A second brilliant 
charge, delivered by several squadrons of the Iletz 
Hussars under Major von Katzler, won them a 
breathing space. Then they retired step by step, 
and frequently delivering powerful counter-strokes, 
through the Nossentiner Wald. The engagement was 
very brisk, and eye-witnesses said that never save 
at Wachau ^ in 1813 had they heard so furious a 
roar of musketry. Behind Nossentin General von 

Grunow, 1897, p. 41 ). The Kohler Hussars were recruited in Poland, 
which shows that the Poles in the Prussian service were not always 
so unreliable as they are usually assumed to be. 

^ Malachowski says 300. 

2 Malachowski, p. 43. Yorck rode with the attack, and frequently 
referred to it afterwards with delight. To Malachowski, who had 
been with him, he said, " We can get home, too, eh ? " ("Nicht 
walir, wir konnen auch einhauen ? "). [Yorck was an infantryman. 
— Tr.j 

^ Battle of Leipzig. — Tr. 


Pletz halted again and steadily awaited the enemy. 
The latter soon appeared, and the engagement re- 
opened with great violence. Meantime Pletz sent to 
Bliicher requesting a reinforcement of a few bat- 
talions, with whose assistance he hoped to be able to 
hold on till evening, " to give the main body a good 
night's rest for once, after its eternal marching." 
Instead of the reinforcement, however, there came 
Captain von MiifHing of the general staff, and pre- 
sently Bliicher himself appeared. What followed 
may best be told in Malachowski's words. ^ 

" Bliicher and Pletz had served together in the 
Seven Years War as cornets under Belling,^ and 
had spent their whole service together in the same 
regiment. Intimate friends from their youth, they 
conversed in a fashion that was at least blunt, if 
not actually coarse, while to all other men Pletz 
was invariably calm and dignified. 

" The moment he came up Bliicher called out, 
' Good morning, Pletz. I can't send you ^ any 
infantry. The fellows are lying all about like dead 
men and couldn't be got out of the village. You 
must just show the canaille over there your 

1 Erinncrungen, p. 42-3. 

^ The Prussian general who, in the Seven Years War, held the 
Swedish army of Pomerania in check with a small containing force. 
Bliicher, then a Swedish officer, was taken prisoner, and joined 
the service of his captors. Belling procuring him a cornetcy in the 
Hussars. — Tr. 

'^ Dir and du throughout this conversation on both sides. — Tk. 


claws — show them well, too — and then they will 
soon clear off.' 

" Whereat Pletz, ' If you only came to tell me 
that, you might have saved yourself the ride, 
because that will be done anyhow without your 
advice. They always turn tail at the mere sight 
of your great moustache, eh ? Ha, ha ! You 
know very well that there are times when they 

" ' Well, well ! I was only joking,' replied Bliicher 
propitiatingly ; and the two old comrades rode 
forward into the midst of the musketry, discussing 
trifling matters, joking and teasing one another." 

Pletz, in the event, succeeded even without 
support in checking all onsets of the enemy. It was 
a glorious day for the Prussians. But, alas ! it was 
only a day's work in retreat, and not a victorious 

To the great disgust of Yorck, who would have 
liked to attack the hesitating enemy once again, 
the rearguard retreated after nightfall to Alt- 
Schwerin, where other troops of the southern 
column stood in support. The enemy followed on, 
and the opposing forces spent the night in (?lose 

Four names stand out prominently in these 
days — Bliicher, Scharnhorst, Yorck, and Katzler. 
Yet it was no strange coincidence that brought 


together on this field these four men who were to 
play so great a part in the War of Liberation. They 
were present in their ordinary capacity and in the 
regular line of duty ; only of Scharnhorst can it be 
said that he joined Bliicher on his own initiative. 
There were others, too, of the same stamp, the 
undismayed Winning, old Pletz, Oswald, and others 
who were too old for field-service after the war, 
and we may regard this as a proof that the un- 
fortunate army of 1806 vv^as certainly not destitute 
in strong characters. When the leadership was 
resolute and energetic, gave them scope for their 
action, and freed itself from the mists of a topsy- 
turvy war-theory, then they came to the surface. 

Bernadotte followed up in the night to Malchow, 
Soult to Waren. The two came to an understand- 
ing. They both assumed that Bliicher w^as retreat- 
ing on Schwerin, and they agreed to follow him up 
on a broad front, so as to be able to envelop him on 
both flanks should he offer serious resistance on the 
line of the Stor. 

The Prussians, however, were on the move again 
even before daybreak. The enemy failing to follow 
up, they were able to go into quarters in the region 
east of Crivitz. But what the French had not 
done was accomplished by weariness, hunger, and 
distress. Dead and exhausted men were left lying in 
the road, and the regiments were thinned w ithout the 


disintegration of battle. Many of the former errors 
repeated themselves, bitter experience notwith- 
standing. The troops left their outlying quarters 
for the rendezvous of their columns very early, 
often marching to the starting-points in the dark. 
Then followed hours of needless waiting, against the 
contingency of a hostile attack. Only when this 
anxiety was over and a good march accomplished 
besides, were the columns broken up and the units 
sent to the widespread and often hardly discover- 
able cantonments assigned to them for a brief ]*est. 
Even this was frequently broken by alarms on the 
outpost line that led to needless midnight parading 
and fresh long waits under arms, after which the 
column Vv ould start on its next day's march wearied 
to death at the outset. More and more fiercely 
did old Yorck inveigh against the endless reti^eat, 
and the folly of destroying the army in this fashion, 
instead of risking a battle. 

The pursuers had lost touch with the Prussians, 
and they only advanced again late on the 2nd of 
November, and with caution. The previous day had 
made them prudent, and Bernadotte wished to wait 
for Soult's arrival before attacking in earnest. He 
therefore marched only to Welzin, north of Liibz. 
Soult, for his part, was in doubt as to whither 
Bliicher would turn, and, judging by the stubborn 
resistance that the Prussian leader had hitherto 


made, it was certain that he would hold on to 
the bitter end. On the evening of the 2nd Soult 
reached Plan, and his cavalry Liibz, thus more or 
less coming into line with Bernadotte. From these 
points he intended to advance on Parchim and 
Neustadt, so as to envelop Bliicher's right flank on 
the Stor and to cut him off from the Elbe should 
he be moving in that direction. 

This day, too, unhappily, did not pass without 
a fresh misfortune for the Prussians, one of whose 
battalions, belated, allowed itself to be surprised 
and lost 4 officers and 50 men prisoners as well 
as a gun. 

On this day Murat reached Malchin. 

Great was the surprise in Bliicher's headquarters at 
the cessation of pressure, and the old man at once 
conceived the idea of falling upon the French in 
order to hold them. But the piteous condition of 
his troops imposed caution, and he resolved to fall 
back, first of all, behind the Stor between the 
Lewitz-Bruch and Schwerin, there to give his men 
some rest and refreshment. If then the French 
resumed the pursuit, he would march, slowly skir- 
mishing, to Boizenburg on the Elbe. If the French 
held off, he would attack them. 

On the 3rd of November the main portion of the 
Prussian army crossed the Stor and went into 
quarters behind that river, the flourishing little 


town of Schwerin being, however, as little burdeiied 
by their presence as Strelitz had been on the 30'th, 
and for the same reason of dynastic policy. The 
rearguard still stood fast at Crivitz. Bernadotte 
again followed up cautiously, even calling up 
Soult from the route that the latter wished to 
follow. Then he attacked Crivitz, a low-lying 
locality, and captured it. But as his cavalry — 
just as at Waren — pushed through the village into 
the country beyond, it was unexpectedly charged 
by the Prussians and flung back with considerable 
loss, a colonel and one of Bernadotte's own aides-de- 
camp being amongst the prisoners. Nevertheless, 
this day, too, cost Prussia dear, for on the left flank 
a mixed column under General von Wobeser and 
the Usedom Hussar Regiment, falling back on 
the Stor too late, were attacked by Bernadotte, and 
driven in upon the east bank of the Schweriner-See. 
One battalion which missed its way was captured. 
These things were the natural and practically 
invariable consequence of continuing to retr(?at 
in scattered columns for the sake of scattered 

Bernadotte's corps reached the southern point 
of the Schweriner-See the same evening, Soult 
following as far as Crivitz, where also Sahuc's 
dragoon division arrived after heavy marching. 
Savary went in quest of Murat, who, under the 


impression that the Prussian general could have 
no other object but to escape either to Stralsund 
or by sea, was still sweeping the country to the 
north-west, determined above all to head off 
Bliicher from Rostock and the coast. On the 
evening of the 3rd, however, being now informed 
as to Bliicher's real whereabouts, Murat moved to 

On the Stor, at the point where it flows into the 
Schweriner-See, a bold attack succeeded in wresting 
from the Prussian grenadiers the important defile 
of Fahre, and the assailant pushed on to Zippendorf , 
only 2J miles from Bliicher's headquarters at 
Ostorf. The two Prussian corps, lying as they did 
to the north and the south of the breach, were now 
in imminent danger of being separated, and in any 
case the line of the Stor was no longer tenable. 
A continuance of the retreat was inevitable, and 
now the final decision had to be made as to its 

In reality, owing to Soult's having been called 
up to the northern road, Bliicher's right flank and 
the country Elbe- wards were free from all danger. 
But unhappily the Prussians remained in ignorance 
of this turn in Fortune's wheel. All that they knew 
was that touch with Soult had been lost. Probably 
they supposed him to be advancing south of them 
by Parchim, whence he could head off Bliicher from 


the Elbe, and in any case they had become anxious 
for their right flank. For another thing, the troops 
that had been forced away on the other side of the 
Schweriner-See could only be extricated if the army 
moved north-westwards. Then, fresh anxiety was 
aroused by the appearance of a small Prussian mixed 
detachment which, marching in from Hameln, liad 
lately been at Wittenburg and had left that place 
in order to join Winning's corps. A rumour beca;me 
current at headquarters that this detachment was 
being pressed in by the French. A new demand 
for surrender was sent in to Bliicher, and the bearer 
of the flag of truce, in ignorance or guile, gave out 
that Murat was actually north of the Schweriner- 
See. Thus was woven a network of false in- 
formation and mistaken assumptions to grip the 
imagination of Bliicher and his staff — baleful was 
the star that presided over every Prussian enterprise 
in these dark days. It was resolved to march on 
Gadebusch, and by night into the bargain. And 
yet the road to Boizenburg was open, and Major 
Count Chasot, who had been sent thither, had with 
the aid of the Wittenburg detachment assembled 
materials for a bridge, which in fact he built in 
thirty-six hours. Nay, more, it would actually 
have been easier to march to the Elbe than to 
Gadebusch. But Bliicher believed that his flanks 
were already turned at the same time as his front 


was pressed by very superior forces, and he had 
given up the idea of crossing the Elbe. 

Gadebusch was reached on the 4th without mis- 
hap. Thither too came the Wittenburg detach- 
ment (Colonel von Osten) and General von Wobeser 
with his troops. A small and scattered detachment 
(the Tschammer Regiment and battery) was indeed 
overtaken by the French, but it beat off all attacks. 
Only the Usedom Regiment of Hussars strayed 
towards Wismar in the expectation of meeting 
General Wobeser there, and, not finding him, turned 
east towards Swedish Pomerania, to fall next day 
(5th November) into the hands of Savary's cavalry 

On this day (4th November) Bernadotte stayed 
with his wearied troops just west of Schwerin, while 
Soult moved on Gadebusch. The French were now 
certain that Bliicher had given up the idea of march- 
ing to the Elbe. Murat, too, was at Schwerin, so 
that the enemy was concentrated in full force. All 
the same, there was entire uncertainty as to Bliicher's 
further intentions. 

Unfortunately, Bliicher, even at Gadebusch, be- 
lieved himself to be surrounded by the enemy on 
three sides, assuming Bernadotte to be in front, 
Murat on his left, and Soult on his right. Their 
force he greatly over-estimated, supposing it to be 
six or seven times his own. The exhaustion of his 


troops was extreme. He had already lost 4000- 
5000 men — more than a battle east of Waren would 
have cost him. In these conditions the idea of 
accepting battle was once more given up, although 
the ground was favourable at Gadebusch. " Farther 
back still " was the word. 

Yet, strange as it may seem, it was just at 
this moment that for the first time Bliicher had 
really succeeded in imposing respect on his oppon- 
ents. Murat's report ^ to the Emperor, who was 
growing more and more impatient, breathes some- 
thing like discouragement. He spoke of the good 
order in which Bliicher withdrew, and said that he 
had at least 25,000 men, including 5000 cavalry, 
whereas Bernadotte had but 12,000 foot and 600 
horse. " I consider it wise, therefore, that we should 
concentrate and bring unity into our operations if 
we are to annihilate him at one blow. His troops 
are not yet beaten, and Bliicher commands their 
confidence. We must therefore unite and overpower 
him in mass." 

The renewed retreat could be made either towards 
Liibeck or on Hamburg. The latter city possessed 
the larger resources. Bliicher, however, chose 
Liibeck, as the road thither was shorter and the town 
itself more defensible. There was no question that 
it was in his power to reach it. Within its walls he 
1 Evening of 4:th November, Schwerin. 


hoped to obtain a few days' rest and refreshment for 
his utterly exhausted troops. This gained, he would 
then risk the last and decisive battle. 

On the morning of the 5th, accordingly, the army 
set out for Liibeck. Following it up, the French 
found Gadebusch clear, but a little way beyond 
there they encountered Prussian rearguards, which 
after skirmishing awhile drew off in the direction of 
Rehna and also in that of Ratzeburg. The pur- 
suers thereupon divided also, Soult going by Rog- 
gendorf to Ratzeburg, Bernadotte taking the Rehna 
route. Murat himself was with Soult, but the bulk of 
his cavalry joined Bernadotte. 

Bliicher had originally intended to halt at Herrn- 
burg, a few miles S.E. of Liibeck. But it proved 
impossible to quarter there, and so the march was 
continued to the city itself, Bliicher himself hurried 
on, and was at Liibeck with the foremost troops by 
noon, asking the assembled Senate ^ to provide large 
quantities of supplies. Everything now depended 
upon the attitude which the Danish general Ewald, 
who commanded a force on the adjacent frontier, 
meant to observe towards the contending parties. 
Bliicher, therefore, at once placed himself in com- 
munication with him. Ewald declared that he 
would resist by force any infringement of the frontier 

^ Liibeck, it must be remembered, was one of the independent 
Hanse towns. — Tr. 


by either side, and Bliicher made his calculations 
accordingly. The district that he would have to 
defend presented a very narrow front along the 
Trave, on either hand of Liibeck, and this he might 
confidently expect to hold. Liibeck itself was no 
longer indeed a fortress, but the old ramparts with 
their broad wet-ditches would be an effective support 
for the defence. Before nightfall nearly all the 
little army had come in, and for the first time in 
these exhausting days was housed in comfortable, 
concentrated quarters. 

On the morning of 6th November Bliicher made 
his arrangements for the defence of the town. The 
gates were provided with guns, the troops distributed 
to guard the approaches, commanders told oif to 
the various points, and, confident of being able 
to deal with any attack, he v/as so firmly resolved to 
give no more ground that no line of retreat was 

All these measures were sound and appropriate. 
Nevertheless, one mistake was made that was 
destined to have serious consequences . Bliicher him- 
self had allowed General von Oswald and the rear- 
guard of his own (II) corps to remain in front of the 
town. It was unfortunately the custom in the 
Prussian army, when a defile had to be traversed, to 
keep not only cavalry but troops of other arms 
as well in front of it until the enemy arrived. 


Herein lurked always the danger that the enemy 
would enter the defile on the heels of the retiring 
troops, and so it befell in this instance. When, 
on the morning of the 6th, Bernadotte attacked 
Oswald's force, the combatants became intermingled, 
and Prussians and French pressed on in wild con- 
fusion towards the Burgthor, the north gate of 
Liibeck. The officer in charge of the defence here, 
the Duke of Brunswick- Oels, unfortunately ad- 
vanced to disengage Oswald with part of the force 
guarding the gate. This only added to the confusion. 
The artillerymen of the guns posted at the gate 
did not dare to open fire upon friend and foe 
indiscriminately, and the officer in charge, losing 
his head, actually tried to get the guns away. 
Driven into the middle of the streaming tide of 
infantry, these only augmented the confusion, and 
before anyone could prevent it the enemy was in 
the tow^n. The key of the defence was lost. 

At this very moment, about noon, in the town 
which he had believed to be absolutely safe for the 
day at least, army orders were being issued at 
Bliicher's headquarters. The first hint of what 
had happened was the sound of the firing. Bliicher 
instantly hurried out, flung himself upon a horse 
that stood ready and, with such troops as he could 
collect about him at a moment's notice, strove to 
check the inflowing enemy, while the assembled staff 


officers dashed away in all directions to warn and 
assemble their various corps. There was furious 
fighting in the streets, but the French cleverly 
spread out, each gate in succession was opened by 
an attack from the rear, and gradually the whole 
town was mastered. With a heavy heart Bliicher 
rode out by the last remaining exit, the Holstein 
gate, narrowly escaping capture. His devoted 
Scharnhorst was taken prisoner. 

The fighting was fierce throughout. In the 
words of Bernadotte's report " the enemy en- 
trenched in the streets and houses made incredible 
efforts to repel us. Every square, every street was 
a battlefield. General Bliicher himself made several 
charges with his cavalry in the streets." 

But the fate of the brave little army was sealed. 
Bliicher with the remnant of his troops marched 
to Schwartau, a few miles beyond Liibeck. More 
than once, as the sound of heavy firing came from 
the town, he was on the point of turning back again 
to attempt the rescue of the gallant bands that were 
fighting still. But this idea, and also the notion of 
winning back Liibeck by a night-surprise, were 
given up in the end, as the infantry that had been 
brought off seemed to him too few and too weary 
for the enterprise. He therefore stood fast with 
all that was left of his army at Ratkau, north of 
Schwartau. Yet not all his officers shared his 


opinion that an attack on Liibeck was impossible — 
as witness Malachowski.^ " Here stood at least 
10,000 good Prussian troops penned between the 
Trave and the guarded Danish frontier. No one 
had an inkling of what was going on. From 
the heavy firing in and about Liibeck we simply 
argued that a big fight was in progress, and 
every moment we expected the order to advance. 
But no order came, and instead, as night came on, 
we were told that we had capitulated. My God, 
who could describe the impression that this accursed 
word made upon us all ? We were dismayed, per- 
plexed, simply stupefied ! Most of our men in 
their rage smashed their muskets and threw them 
away. And so this night too, the most terrible of 
my life, passed. . . . Bliicher's later renown will 
never die ; yet at Liibeck we had the feeling that 
strength and resolution had failed even in him. This 
is one more example of how unjust was the universal 
condemnation of the army of 1806. It was in great 
part these very same men who accomplished the 
heroic feats of 1813." 

Scharnhorst, too, as is well known, did not 
approve of Bliicher's action. The latter, indeed, 
on the morning of the 7th, meant to leave Ratkau 
and throw himself into Travemiinde, which was in 
those days a fortified place. When, however, the 

^ Erinnerungen aus dem alien Preussen^ pp. 45-G. 


Duke of Brunswick-Oels appeared in company with 
a French flag of truce and informed him that 
Travemiinde too was in the enemy's hands, he 
submitted to his fate and signed the capitulation 
oJGfered him. Once more mischance played its part. 
The news as to Travemiinde was untrue. It was 
no more than a mere rumour that had come to the 
ear of the Duke, yet in his excitement he told it 
with such conviction that Bliicher had to accept his 
evidence as verified and vouched-for fact. Had 
Scharnhorst been there, the idea of making for the 
little fortress would not have been tamely let drop. 
Yet another act of the great tragedy was over. 
But this act had been of a very different char- 
acter to its predecessors. This time it was only 
after heroic efforts and stern fighting that the relic 
of the army of Jena and Auerstedt and its brave 
leader had succumbed. With his own hand Bliicher 
added to the act of surrender these words, "I 
capitulate, because I have no bread and. no 
ammunition," meaning thereby to place it on 
record that it was neither fear of fighting nor the 
recognition of the enemy's superiority that brought 
him to this fateful act. He had taught the French 
that the Old-Prussian army could fight, and the 
news from Llibeck spread over the land not merely 
the renown of Bliicher and of Scharnhorst, but 
even a first faint hope of a better future. 


The moral significance of Bliicher's expedition 
must not be undervalued. Not yet indeed was 
the moment for a general uplifting of hearts. But 
Bliicher's men came forth with a very different 
spirit from that of the others. Many escaped from 
the prisoners' convoys and made their way back 
to the army. Of the Bliicher Hussars not one 
man crossed the Rhine ; little by little they 
reassembled under the Prussian colours. " Three 
brave sergeant-majors of the regiment succeeded in 
getting 300 of the men through to the province of 
Prussia in a closed body, in reward for which the 
King made them officers." ^ 

The expedition failed because it involved a con- 
tradiction in terms. It was conceived in the likeness 
of the campaigns of one of the great leaders of the 
Thirty Years War, who used to traverse Germany 
from end to end. But for this neither the army nor 
its leaders were fitted by constitution or by habit. 
Only well-nourished and well-equipped troops, 
who, when forced marches became necessary, knew 
how to subsist comfortably at the expense of the 
country they traversed — only such troops could 
accomplish exploits of this kind. Bliicher's force 
might indeed have reached the Elbe in good time, 
crossed it, and by raiding hither and thither in the 
west, kept the enemy busy for a long time to come. 

^ Lettow-Vorbeck, iii. 25. 


But if they were to do so, they would have had to 
put aside all ideas of sparing the country as they had 
spared Strelitz and Schwerin, and unhesitatingly 
made use of all available resources, for only in this 
way could they have moved with the freedom and 
celerity requisite for success. That the men and 
their officers could fend for themselves, when 
emancipated from the tutelage of higher authority 
and from the fear of responsibility learnt in the 
school of repression, was proved by every one of the 
many men who, alone and left to their own resources, 
made their way through to the Vistula. 

If, on the other hand, the principle of " making 
war support war " was unacceptable, it would have 
been infinitely better to risk a battle at the outset, 
when the conditions were favourable, than to em- 
bark upon a series of disintegrating retreats and 
stubborn rearguard fights, which must inevitably 
end in ruin, and that soon. So it proved in the 
event. But the event detracts nothing from the 
glory of the troops that took part in it : it is to be set 
to the account of their leaders. 



King Frederick William reached Ciistrin on the 
20th of October, still intending to come to terms with 
Napoleon immediately. Not so the Queen, who 
wrote to him on the 20th from Stettin, "For God's 
sake, no shameful peace ! " and at his call, hurried 
to Ciistrin to join him. There the King received 
from Lucchesini, whom he had sent to Napoleon on 
the 18th from Magdeburg, the first account of the 
terms of peace offered by the Emperor. These 
were — the cession of all Prussian territory on the left 
bank of the Elbe except Magdeburg and the Alt- 
mark, an undertaking not to form an alliance with 
any other German state, and a war indemnity of 
100,000,000 francs (£4,000,000). An answer was to 
be given by the 26th. 

In the unwarlike entourage of the King the 
majority was in favour of submission. On the very 
same day General von Zastrow was dispatched to 
Lucchesini with the acceptance in principle of the 



French demands. According to eye-witnesses, the 
King had recovered his equanimity. He had been 
opposed to the war, the result had justified him, 
and his conscience was easier. The Queen, on the 
other hand, was bowed down with grief. To her the 
country's woes were as a mortal blow. 

On the 26th the royal pair set out for Graudenz. 
At Driesen a false report reached them to the efJ'ect 
that Hohenlohe had reached Stettin in safety and 
was on the march thence to the Vistula. At this 
they turned off to the north-west. But then ca,me 
the tidings of evil, the journey was set eastward 
by Schneidemlihl, and on the 3rd of November 
Graudenz was reached (Map No. 8). 

Graudenz, according to an eye-witness, ^ offered a 
gay spectacle : " The King is in Graudenz with 
the divine Queen and a great number of generals, 
princes, and officers of all ranks and every corps that 
exists or has existed in the Prussian army. Almost 
all of them have escaped from these unhappy days 
of the 10th~14th of last month. Farther down 
stream, about Marienwerder, there is re-forming the 
relic of that superb and wonderful army of 150,000 
men that four weeks ago aroused the admiration of 
Europe by its splendour, its discipline, its energy, 

^ Letter of Count Lehndorff-Steinort from Ostrometzko, 16th 
November 1806. {G. F. Beichsgraf Lehndorff-Steinort, by Maxi- 
milian Schmidt. Berlin, 1903. ) The original is in French. 


its patriotism, and its high spirit. Never, certainly, 
in Europe had so brilliant an army been brought 
together at one spot as this, and never probably in 
the years to come will there be another like it. 
Nothing is left of it now but some 8000 disbanded 
wanderers, without arms, who have brought back 
nothing with them but their lives." 

At Graudenz, too, came in the news of the fortress 
capitulations. " The peace cult spread its slow 
poison everywhere . " ^ Ma j or von Ranch arrived from 
Charlottenburg with the news that the preliminaries 
of peace were signed. Meantime Napoleon's de- 
mands had become harsher, and he now even de- 
manded under certain conditions the participation 
of Prussia in his war against Russia. These terms 
were discussed at Graudenz on the 6th and 7th. 
Prince William, Prince Henry, Haugwitz, Stein, and 
some of the senior generals spoke with one voice in 
favour of peace, but against participation in the war 
against their late allies the Russians. The King 
ratified the preliminaries of peace. An attempt of 
Prince Ferdinand in Berlin to obtain more favour- 
able conditions failed. Even the Queen wavered 
at first, but she soon recovered her confidence. 
" Firm and patient resistance is our only chance," 

^ Paul Bailleu," Konigin Luise im Kriege 1806 " {Deutsche Rund- 
schau, 33rd year, No. 1, October 1906), a fascinating and histori- 
cally very important study, of which we have here made 
considerable use. 

MAP 4. 





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was her opinion. On the 15th of November the 
first French troops appeared on the Vistula opposite 
Graudenz. The King went to Osterode, and the 
Queen accompanied him thither in spite of the 
efforts of Haugwitz and Kockeritz to separate her 
from her husband. 

Unhappily, these expectations of peace did serious 
harm to the military preparations for a renewal of 
the war. No extraordinary measures were taken, 
no proclamation calling the nation to arms was 
issued. The existing Kanton-Reglement with its 
numberless and wholesale exemptions remained in 
force. The opportunity for new formations on a 
large scale was allowed to slip. Even field regiments 
were left to guard the fortresses, a duty for which 
the third battalions already told off to them, the 
numerous escaped prisoners of war, and the recruit 
depots were perfectly adequate. Three regiments 
from Silesia, five battalions from Danzig, and two 
battalions from Graudenz, in all thirteen line bat- 
talions, could have been collected, and these, with 
the troops of East Prussia and South Prussia/ 

^ " South Prussia " was the Posen-Kalisch region, annexed by 
Frederick William II in the Second Partition of Poland. Like 
" New East Prussia " (the Warsaw- Bialystok region), this same 
King's share in the Third Partition, it was lost at the Peace of Tilsit, 
and went to form the " Grand Duchy of Warsaw." At the general 
peace of 1815 Prussia only regained the Posen district, and the name 
Prussia was henceforward applied only to the two provinces of East 
and West Prussia to which it historically belongs (Map No. 1). — Tb. 


would have brought the field force on the Vistula 
to a respectable figure. 

These prolonged negotiations with the enemy 
moreover aroused distrust in Prussia's allies. In 
the political sphere as in the military, nothing was 
done to put affairs in a better condition. Even an 
agreement with England, valuable as that Power's 
support would have been, was not sought at the 
price of a frank renunciation of Hanover. 

Far otherwise did the victor prepare for the next 
act. Even on the Elbe, Napoleon had turned his 
attention to the approaching campaign against the 
Russians, so much so indeed that for a moment, as 
recorded above, he had neglected Hohenlohe and 
Bliicher. Russia was now the only Continental 
enemy remaining that was strong enough to stand 
in his path. With the means immediately at his 
disposal, he could not expect to beat her. But 
even as early as September fresh drafts were on 
their way to join the Grande Armde, and if these had 
not yet filled up the gaps in its sadly depleted ranks 
it was only because of the rapidity of the cam- 
paign and the great distances that had to be covered. 
At the beginning of November he was doing all in 
his power to hurry up the drafts. " I have much 
territory to hold, and it is essential that the rein- 
forcements should reach me in good time. The 
Russians are indeed distant yet, but it is possible 


that we shall meet them half-way and be at close 
quarters with them in a month. There is no time 
to lose. Nothing that came up after the battle 
would be of much use. Take your measures accord- 
ingly." In these words he wrote on the 3rd of 
November to Marshal Kellermann., who at Mainz was 
charged with the duty of sending forward the rein- 
forcements arriving from the interior of France. 
The dismounted dragoons who accompanied the 
army were to be mounted on captured horses. A 
new Grenadier Corps was formed under Marshal 
Oudinot, and a levy of 100,000 conscripts arranged 
for January 1807. The Emperor dispensed with a 
thorough recruit training for these levies. He con- 
sidered it suJB&cient when they had been put into 
uniform and provided with greatcoats. Their 
military education was to be taken in hand again in 
the fortresses which for the present they were told 
off to garrison. 

In diplomacy, too, his activity was extreme. 
General Sebastiani was sent to Constantinople, there 
to raise up a new enemy for Russia, and unluckily 
the Tsar Alexander played into his hands by an 
untimely declaration of war. The insurgent Poles 
who, through Dombrowski, solicited his help at 
Berlin, were armed, the Emperor, however, on his 
side undertaking no definite obligation towards 


Undeniably the French army was much too 
weak, relatively to the size of the theatre of war. 
With its allies, it numbered little more than 190,000 
men, and it had to hold the whole of North Germany. 
Had there arisen a man endowed with the capacity 
and the power to set the masses in motion, its in- 
sufficiency would have been manifest. And yet a 
campaign was on the point of beginning on the far 
distant Vistula. The notion that Napoleon only 
knew how to win with the '' big battalions " on 
his side stands in need of correction. At this, the 
very moment of his greatest triumph, the lack of 
sufficient forces for the new campaign immediately 
in prospect made itself most seriously felt. 

But he did not hesitate to begin this new cam- 
paign. On the 2nd of November Davout was 
pushed forward on Posen, and the new corps of 
Jer6me, formed of the Bavarians and Wiirttember- 
gers and now on the march to Crossen-on-Oder, was 
placed under his orders. Later Davout was en- 
trusted with the protection of the main army's 
right flank towards Silesia, and began operations by 
besieging Glogau. On 6th November Augereau 
marched out of Berlin eastward, on the 8th Lannes 
moved forward from Stettin. All the available 
cavalry, other than that employed in the pursuit of 
Bliicher, followed suit ; strong though the Emperor 
was in this arm, more was to be brought up, even from 


Italy, for he was convinced that in his next opera- 
tions he would have the most urgent need of it. 
'' I am on the frontier of Poland, and in that 
country one fights for choice with one's cavalry." 

On receiving news that the Russians had crossed 
the frontier into Prussia — prudence being wedded 
in him, here as always, to boldness — he decided to 
halt for the moment at Posen. 

Comprehensive measures were taken for the sub- 
sistence of the army, and the systematic collection 
of supplies on the Warthe was ordered. In Posen 
Davout was told to form a great magazine, and in 
this task he was only too eagerly assisted by the 
Prussian Administrator {Kammerprdsident)^ who, 
on the 13th of November, actually ordered the 
Finance Board at Warsaw — which was still occupied 
by Prussian troops — to send out commissaries at 
once to comply with Davout's demands as quickly 
as possible. 

All these provisions, however, needed time for 
their fulfilment, and the Emperor had now to deal 
with an enemy that had not confronted him in the 
late campaigns. These campaigns had led him 
through prosperous countries, but now it was very 
different. From Schneidemiihl Lannes reported to 
him: "The country from Stettin to this place is 
exactly similar to that which we traversed when we 
marched from Egypt into Syria except that here 


the sand makes the roads even worse. It is im- 
possible to get one day's bread ration for an army 
corps here. ..." 

This state of want induced a renewal of the 
advance to the Vistula. In the meantime it had 
become clear that the Russians could not be thinking 
of an offensive over that river, for all the bridges were 
destroyed. In mild, damp weather which, all the 
way to the Vistula, turned the heavy soil of the roads 
into quagmires, the march proceeded. Lannes 
arrived on the 17th opposite Thorn, where v/as the 
Prussian advanced guard under General L'Estocq. 
The town was bombarded and invited to surrender, 
but in vain. L'Estocq had an interview with 
Lannes on an island of the Vistula. Judging by the 
Marshal's report, he must have expressed himself 
with incautious freedom, for it appears that he 
alluded to the weakness of the Prussian forces, and 
said that the defence of the hue of the Vistula was 
Prussia's only hope of obtaining tolerable terms of 
peace, that moreover nothing was known of the 
Russians or their whereabouts, and so on. It is 
said he v/ent so far as to allow the French generals 
to enter the town as peaceful visitors. This story, 
and others of the like kind, would be incredible 
were it not that tliey harmonize only too well with 
the amazing cosmopolitanism of the epocli that 
followed the great Frederick's death — the epoch 


that conceived of war as a game of skill that ought 
not to spoil the comradely relations between the 
two sides. 

The King himself expressly approved L'Estocq's 
conduct, and several times instructed Kalckreuth 
to convey this in writing. " It gives one the greatest 
pleasure to hear the true Old-Prussian ring again at 
last." L'Estocq was next authorized '' to send over 
some wine and delicacies, as an act of courtesy " 
to the French officers. Kalckreuth, although he 
had complained bitterly of the enemy's lack of 
^' d^licatesse,^' added thereto, "please send Marshal 
Lannes personally, on my behalf, a big Thorn 

In one point, however, this correspondence shows 
an advance. " If the French wish, by burning the 
town of Thorn, to heighten the reputation that they 
have already fairly established for themselves in 
this regard, then they must be left to do so, and we 
can only sympathize with the unhappy inhabitants 
upon whom the fortune of war bears so hardly." ^ 
To this extent, at any rate, facts were now looked 
in the face. 

Marching by frightful roads that imposed ex- 
traordinary efforts upon his troops, Augereau 

^ Emil Schnippel, Urkundliche Beitrdge zur Geschichte 1806. I. 
Zum Hundertjdhrigen Gedachtnis an de7i Aufenihalt des Konigs 
FriedricJi Wilhelm III in Osterode (Osterode, East Prussia, 1906). 


reached Bromberg on the 20th. Davout had 
already reached Sompolno on the Warsaw road on 
the 18th, with a considerable part of Murat's cavalry- 
corps in front of him. The little fortress of Lenczyc 
was found ungarrisoned and occupied by the French. 
The Guard was still at Berlin.^ 

The total of Prussian forces now available for 
field service was 19J battalions, 55 squadrons^ and 
8 batteries, in all 20,000 men, under the command of 
Kalckreuth. At the moment these troops were very 
widely distributed, their outposts holding the line of 
the Vistula from Warsaw (later, when the Russians 
arrived, from Block) to a point opposite Mewe. 
Russia possessed at that time fourteen divisions in 
all, of which, however, five were told off to operate 
against the Turks, and one was left behind in St. 
Petersburg and Finland. ^ On the western frontier, 
therefore, she disposed of no more than eight. Of 
these, four under Count Buxhowden, which had 
taken part in the campaign of 1805, had not had 
their losses made good and were very weak. The 
other four, under Bennigsen, crossed the Prussian 
frontier (as it then was) ^ on the 29th of October, 

^ Bernadotte was on the road thence. Mortier's VIII Corps push- 
ing up from Holland, had meantime occupied Hanover. Later, 
Morlier advanced by Mecklenburg and Hither Pomerania. 

2 The divisions were of 18-21 battalions, 30-35 squadrons, 5-G 

8 See Map No. 8. 


at four widely separated points (Jurburg, Olita, 
Grodno, and Jalowka). Bennigsen himself hurried 
on in advance, reaching Pultusk on the 7th of 
November. He had received orders from the Tsar 
to place himself on the Vistula between Thorn 
and Warsaw, and then to act as he judged prudent. 
King Frederick William, indeed, at Graudenz, on the 
6th of November, arranged a concentration of the 
whole allied army on the line Osterode — Soldau, and 
intended for the present simply to observe the line 
of the Vistula. Bennigsen, however, continued to 
advance concentrically on Pultusk, notifying the 
King of his movements.^ On the 20th his four 
divisions were at Plonsk, Pultusk, Prasnysz, and 
Warsaw. Buxhowden followed by way of Bialystok, 
which point he reached in the middle of the month. 
His group was to serve as the reserve of Bennigsen's, 
but it was to regulate its own movements in concert 
with the other — a most vague and unsatisfactory 
arrangement. Kalckreuth collected his own forces 
about Osterode. Thither on the 1 6th came Frederick 
William ; next day he approved Bennigsen's 
dispositions, and arranged for communication 
between the two armies. 

At this point he was called upon to make 

^ Map No. 8. The Russian divisions were generally known by the 
names of their commanders — 2nd Ostermann, 3rd Sacken, 4th Galit- 
zin, 6th Sedmoratzki. The positions of these units are given above 
in this sequence. 


a new decision, and one, too, of the most far- 
reaching importance. Napoleon's demands had 
adapted themselves to the news of Liibeck and 
Magdeburg. He announced that the terms that he 
himself had proposed no longer held good, and on 
1 6th November he presented others to the Prussian 
envoys. These required nothing less than the 
evacuation of the whole Prussian monarchy up to 
the Vistula, with the exception of a few unimportant 
fractions, and of the Vistula fortresses to boot, as 
the indispensable preliminary to an armistice, while 
nothing was said as to what Napoleon would under- 
take to do in case the negotiations broke down. The 
Bang was, further, to take care that the Russian 
forces that had entered Prussian territory were with- 
drawn behind their own frontier. In spite of these 
unheard-of demands, Frederick William was at first 
still undecided. It was in his temperament to be 
afraid of sudden great resolves. Haugwitz and most 
of the generals around him were for accepting. A 
new conference was called (Baron vom Stein ^ 
amongst others being present), which discussed the 
question on the 20th and 21st of November. The 
ministers Voss and Stein, General Kockeritz, and 
Privy Councillor Bey mo gave it as their opinion 

1 The famous shilcsman and reformer was by birth the independent 
sovereign of tlic littic barony [FreiJurrschajt) of Stein on the 
Lahn. — Tr. 


that in the circumstances the armistice should be 
rejected. The King was influenced also by an 
encouraging letter from the Tsar Alexander which, 
written on the 3rd, and received apparently at 
Graudenz on the 14th, had weighed with him in 
choosing the direction of Osterode. We need have 
no doubt, either, that Queen Luise was in favour of 
refusal. Her influence on the King's decision cannot 
indeed be proved by documents, but it is clear that 
the suite felt it instinctively. Misfortune had but 
strengthened and ennobled this great woman, whose 
character attained its perfection in these dark days. 
'^ This war has been v,' orth more to her than a whole 
lifetime of peace and pleasure," wrote Heinrich von 
Kleist on 6th December. "She has developed a 
truly royal character before our very eyes, and now 
she grasps the great object on which everything 
depends, she whose wliole soul, but a short time 
back, seemed absorbed by the desire to please in 
the ballroom or on horseback. She has gathered 
around her those of our great men who, though 
slighted by the King, must prove our only salvation. 
She it is who holds together the elements which are 
not yet fused." ^ 

According to a diplomat's report at the end of 
the war : " From the very beginning of the cam- 
paign tlie Queen has never for one moment acted 

^ See the above-mentioned essay by Paul Baillen. 


contrary to her instinct for heroism and tenacity. 
Every one connected with the Court either by 
interest or devotion has followed her lead with 
enthusiasm." ^ 

On the 22nd, then, the King definitely rejected the 
French proposals, and personally communicated his 
decision to Napoleon's envoy, General Duroc, who 
had come to Osterode to receive the ratification, 
but was sent away empty-handed instead. It was 
doubtless largely the demand that the King should 
entirely renounce the Russian connexion that 
turned the scale. Such a proceeding would not 
only have been a breach of faith, but might also have 
brought down upon him the danger of a fresh war. 
But of still greater weight was the new spirit which 
manifested itself in the King and in some of his 
advisers, now that they were fighting at the last 
ditch and for the last province. 

To the Tsar Frederick William wrote : '' Accept, 
sire, the solemn promise of my unyielding resolution 
never to lay down the sword before the enemy of 
Europe's independence, unless your interests, from 
now onwards inseparably bound up with my own, 
should lead you to desire it. This is my steadfast 

Lucchesini and Zastrow were recalled from the 

^ From the same. It is in the report sent by the Swedish Am- 
bassador Brinckmann to his Government. 


French headquarters. The die was cast, and the 
war was to proceed. It was fortunate for Prussia, 
for at the back of Napoleon's mind there were 
schemes that might well have involved her complete 
extinction. As he had indicated to the Prussian 
envoys, he intended to make a definitive peace 
dependent upon the further conditions that France, 
Spain, and Holland were to have their lost colonies 
restored and the complete independence of Turkey 
was to be guaranteed as against Russia. The 
proud monarchy of Frederick the Great was thus 
to serve him as a means of bargaining for minor 
and outlying concessions. It was evident that 
nothing less than Prussia's continued existence was 
at issue. 

It is worth while to dwell a little longer 
upon these decisive days at O'sterode, for in a 
certain measure the regeneration of the Prussian 
monarchy can be dated from them. Here, in 
this little country town of East Prussia, there 
were taken the most important resolutions of 
our national history. The disastrous policy of 
standing neutral between the world-powers was now 
at an end, and the King had definitely emancipated 
himself. Diplomatic activity assumed fresh vigour. 
The Courts of Vienna and London were informed of 
the change. Haugwitz, the man of the old time who 
disputes with Massenbach the title of " Prussia's 


evil genius," retired from the foreign ministry to 
make way for Baron vom Stein. ^ 

The a.rmy, too, was to be reformed. Tliere was, 
of course, no opportunity for a thorough reorganiza- 
ation. But its tactical methods were to be brought 
as soon as possible into harmony with the require- 
ments of the new warfare. On the 16th and 18th of 
November the King sketched out with his own hand 
"Instructions and Suggestions for, and Principles 
of, Tactics " for the guidance of the general officers 
commanding in East Prussia. " I have already 
pointed out in another place that it is absolutely 
impracticable for the weaker side to gain the upper 
hand by means of skilful strategic manoeuvres. The 
enemy with whom we have to contend is far too 
experienced and sensible for things of the sort not 
to have long ago lost all effect on him. Care must 
always be taken to oppose the enemy with superior 
force ; and as long as this is impracticable, one 
must go to work prudently and seek to resist all 
decisive engagements." 

Simple as this sounds to us, it was for its time 
a most important departure from the filigree strategy 
which had hitherto dominated even the best minds 
of the army — the strategy in which the geometrical 

^ The King had offered Stein this office as early as 20th Novem- 
ber, viz. before the discussion on the armistice took place (Max 
Lehmann, Stein, i. 442). 


figure described by an army's movements had 
mattered more than its stored-iip energy, and 
favourable ground been thought to be more im- 
portant than numbers. 

In the next place the King laid down that out- 
posts should be pushed farther forward, and that 
they should consist only of cavalry, especially 
Cossacks and partisans. This ended the unfortunate 
custom of posting infantry and artillery in rear of 
the cavalry and in front of the positions to be 
covered — the custom that, as we have seen above, 
brought about the deplorable mishap at the gate of 

In advancing towards the enemy, independent 
columns were to be formed, each preceded by its 
own advanced guard. The columns, assuming them 
to be divisions, were to be disposed by brigades 
abreast, so as to be able to form up rapidly, " which 
is one of the most important things of all on the day 
of battle." 

The defence was to be maintained by the use 
of good positions, and not by advancing to the 
attack in the way in which tactical salvation had 
hitherto been supposed — in theory at least — to lie. 
Extensive use of heavy guns for the defence of 
a position was recommended. For a prolonged 
defence the King pointed out the desirability of 
having a reserve corps, and also undisclosed flanking 


corps to right and left of the Hne. In attack, an 
envelopment in force of the enemy's wing was to 
be combined with a frontal attack ; the artillery 
was to support the attack vigorously from positions 
in rear, the horse artillery alone accompanying the 
infantry advance. 

As a rule two lines were to be formed, the task 
of the first being the skirmisher fire-fight, that of 
the second, which was to be formed in columns, 
to close with and break the enemy. ''AH irresolu- 
tion and hesitancy is supremely dangerous in an 
attack. Once the decision has been made, let there 
be no tarrying after the troops are in line. A swift 
and resolute advance to close quarters is the one 
and only way to victory." Victory achieved, it 
is the cavalry's work to bring it to fruition, and to 
that end the cavalry must be at hand. " Generals 
and field officers of the cavalry must be invariably on 
the alert to profit instantly by any weak point the 
enemy may present, for here a moment often decides. ^^ 

" Exhaustive instructions are not to he given before 
a battle y For how could they fail to evoke re- 
miniscences of those orders for sham-fights that 
before the war had pretended to give a carefully 
prepared and faithful picture of the reality — orders 
that prearranged the minutest details, covered 
many sheets of foolscap and were elaborated with 
the utmost care — or of the sixteen-page pamphlet 


which, Uttle more than ten years before, set forth 
Count Wurmser's dispositions for the attack of the 
Weissenburg hnes ? 

Further, the manner of effecting the deployment, 
on which of old so much priceless time had been 
wasted, and which it had been usual to regard as 
the highest test of tactical art,^ was now to be left 
to each division. " There is only one best way — the 
quickest." This meant a complete breach with the 
old linear tactics, which had clung desperately to 
the idea of the phalanx of 28-30 battalions movable 
en bloc at the command of one man. It meant that 
the troops were released from the rigid fetters and 
formalities that had hitherto bound them. The 
teaching of Saldern and Lacy had lost its charm. 
But above all, it set the official seal of justification 
on the independence of subordinate commanders. 
" The commanding general cannot be omnipresent. 
He has to supervise and conduct the v/hole as a whole, 
and especially to direct the reserves properly." 

It was impossible, of course, that these import- 
ant principles should take instant effect. Inbred 
customs and long-standing traditions are not easily 
eliminated, especially in an army which held the 
past in such high reverence as did the Old Prussian. 
Such things die hard. A good deal of the former 
sealed-pattern methods, the clumsiness, and above 

^ See the author's Von Rosshach his Jena^ 528 ff. 


all the lack of initiative, manifested itself still and for 
many days to come. A long period of time was 
required, and younger men had to reach the higher 
ranks, before the new spirit could really live. 
Kalckreuth and L'Estocq were too advanced in years 
and too thoroughly impregnated with the Frederician 
traditions to feel at home in, and adapt themselves to, 
so complete a transformation in the way of making 
war. But at any rate the King's orders paved the 
way for improvement. 

Further measures followed. 

The Prince of Anhalt-Pless was named Governor- 
General of Silesia, and, what was more important, 
Major Count Gotzen, King's aide-de-camp, was 
appointed to his staff to conduct the defence of 
the province. Gotzen was destined to become the 
national hero of Silesia. Further, the King for the 
first time made up his mind to take extraordinary 
measures. " The critical condition of the State " — 
so ran the words of the Prince's instructions — " de- 
mands the employment of extraordinary resources, 
and these must be called upon, especially in Silesia, 
with military energy." Recruits were to be levied, 
stragglers collected, the fortresses defended with 
energy. The formation of a field-force was recom- 
mended, and the Prince and his ad latus invested 
with far-reaching powers. This last, at any rate, was 
distinctly an advance. 


On the 25th of November the King journeyed to 
Pnltusk to the Russian army. Next day he placed 
the Prussian troops vinder Bennigsen's orders. 
Field-Marshal Kalckreuth, who did not care to 
serve as Bennigsen's subordinate, was relieved of 
his command and appointed Governor of Danzig, 
General L'Estocq taking his place at the head of 
the Prussian field forces. On the 27th the King 
returned, his headquarters being established at 
Ortelsburg. Thence, on 1st December, he issued 
the celebrated " Proclamation regarding various 
abuses in the Army," the preamble of which runs as 
follows : — 

"Whereas, unhappily, the almost complete dis- 
solution of the various army corps ^ which took 
the field against France, has hitherto prevented 
His Majesty from receiving any trustworthy in- 
formation whatever which should enable him to 
distinguish the true from the false and rumour 
from fact, or to reward and punish according to 
the deserts of each ; therefore all decisions on these 
matters are to be suspended until such time as 
they can be dealt with with more knowledge and 

This was followed by a statement of the pro- 
visions of the law with regard to unfaithful fortress 
commandants, officers who capitulate in the open 

^ Meaning, of course, simply " corps of troops." — Tr. 


field, and all who leave their corps without good 
excuse, or have otherwise shown themselves wanting 
in loyalty, firmness, or courage. To these were 
appended new and stringent rales for the future 
which remind one vividly of the well-known ex- 
hortation of Frederick the Great before Leuthen. 
And, further, there was another new regulation 
of the highest importance: "In unforeseen emer- 
gencies, e.g, in forced marching, retreats, etc., a 
commander of any rank, in any place, has power 
to obtain by requisition the quantities that he 
may need for the men and horses of his command. 
A receipt will be given." If such a regulation had 
only been made at the outset, how many things 
would have turned out differently ! But how hard 
the King found it to give an order so entirely 
opposed to his own previous views may be argued 
from what follows : "If he requisitions more, he 
is to be shot to death." ^ 

One more event is to be recorded. On the 28th 
of November Scharnhorst, having been exchanged, 
returned from captivity, and at Danzig once more 
set foot on ground still held by the troops of his 
own sovereign. 

" The paralysing effect of the thunderbolts of 
Jena and Auerstedt appeared to be wearing off. 

1 The manifesto is reproduced verbatim in 1806 : Das preussische 
Offizierhorps (Great General Staff, Berlin, 1906), p. 7. 


A new spirit, or rather the Old-Prussian spirit, 
began to awake." ^ 

Napoleon had assumed the acceptance of his 
armistice conditions as a certainty, which shows 
how confidently he relied upon Frederick William's 
unalterable love of peace. He supposed that the 
terms would be signed at Graudenz on the 21st 
of November, and already began his preparations 
for taking over the Vistula fortresses. On the 
24th he received word from Duroc that the latter 
had found the King gone from Graudenz and was 
following him. The Emperor's impatience grew. 
On the 25th the headquarters set out from Berlin 
for Posen, and it was at Meseritz on the road thither 
that Napoleon received, with the greatest astonish- 
ment, the news that his terms were rejected. His 
una vowed desire was to give his army the winter 
quarters that it so badly needed, and, spoilt child 
of fortune as he was, began to take the wish for 
the deed. Now, in his ill-humour, he decided to 
dethrone the house of Brandenburg, as evidenced 
by a half-written but never-finished document 
that he wrote. ^ 

The news of the appearance of the Russians at 

1 Bailleu, " Konigin Luise" {Deutsche Rundschau^ vol. 33, i. 
October 190G), p. 51. 

2 Lettow-Vorbeck, op, cit. iii. 96. 


Warsaw, whence they pushed forward an advanced 
guard to the Bzura, had already led Napoleon to 
set his available forces in motion thither. Lannes 
was to approach Davout, Ney to replace Lannes 
on the side of Thorn, Murat to go to the front and 
assume temporary command there. Augereau's 
corps was added to his forces. 

Now that hopes of an armistice had proved base- 
less, further steps were taken. The Guard, Soult, 
and Bernadotte (the last named only reached 
Berlin on the 28th), and three cavalry divisions 
lately employed in hunting Bliicher were ordered 
in. At first all these moved on Posen, which the 
Emperor and his suite entered at 10 p.m. on the 
27th. " The man of force was once more at the 
head of his army. With one or two fierce blows 
he expected to send the Muscovites whirling back 
into their own distant land, to give his faithful 
followers winter quarters, and thus at a better season 
and with refilled ranks to begin a new campaign." ^ 

He was still far from suspecting the bitter dis- 
illusionment in store for him, but the reports of 
his marshals began little by little to disquiet him. 
Lannes reported that it was just as impossible 
to subsist near Thorn as it had been at Schneide- 
miihl. " The road from Bromberg hitlier is almost 
impassable ; it goes through ground in which 

^ Lcttow-Vorbcck, iii. 58. 


horses sink to their bellies." Augereau, speaking of 
his march from Bromberg past Thorn and up the 
Vistula, " We are traversing a waste that yields 
us no supplies. The men are bivouacking, and 
many of them have no greatcoats. . . . The roads 
are appalhng, and the season is hard." He adds 
that his men had brought three days' bread with 
them from Bromberg, and that supplies for three 
more days were in the wagons, but that it was im- 
possible for the latter to follow up. The difficulty 
of supplying the army on account of a possible 
offensive of the Allies from the Lower Vistula, caused 
uneasiness at times to the Emperor, who had hitherto 
never been moved by such anxieties when he was 
aiming at a decision. He was not accustomed to 
be held up by such elementary obstacles, as these 
appeared to him to be, and he urged his marshals 
forward unceasingly.^ Equally untiring was his 
activity in diplomacy and in the administra- 
tive work of preparing reinforcements for the 

Meanwhile Bennigsen, who it will be remembered 
had been given the supreme command of the 
Prussians and Russians, had decided to evacuate 
the line of the Vistula and to fall back to Novogrod 
on the Narew. L'Estocq was to close in on his 

1 Lettow-Vorbeck, iii. 96. 


right flank. The Prussian leader, emboldened 
by some successful forays on the left bank, had 
desired to hold the line of the river longer, as indeed 
did the King. But as he had to retreat, he did so 
in the general direction of Angerburg,^ in order to 
be able to check a French advance on Konigsberg 
by threatening it in flank. 

Warsaw, which had been held by Prussian troops 
up to the 28th, was evacuated by the Russian 
division of Sedmoratzki as soon as the French 
cavalry approached. On the 1st of December the 
Russians precipitately abandoned Praga ^ as well. 
The bridge connecting the two places was set on 
fire, but only half destroyed. The natural fear 
of being turned by a French movement through 
Galician ^ territory, and the consideration that the 
arrival of ice drifts on the Bug might sever this 
division from the main body, appear to have been 
the motives of this, from the Allies' point of view, 
regrettable episode. Napoleon indeed had expected 
it. He had already written to Murat : "If the 
enemy commits the folly of evacuating Praga, 
you are to seize this suburb, re-establish the bridge, 
and prepare a good tete-de-pont, . . . Immediately 

1 Map No. 9. 

2 The suburb of Warsaw on the right bank of the Vistula. — Tr. 

^ i.e. Austrian. See Map No. 8. Neglect of the possibility of 
Napoleon's violating neutral territory had contributed largely to 
the disaster to Mack's army at Ulm. — Tr. 


thereafter you are to try to pass the Bug." ^ But 
it was more difficult to carry out the order than he 
supposed. Murat occupied Warsaw and set to 
work, but only slow progress was made. 

The general movement of the Russians began on 
the 2nd of December, in the first instance to 
Ostrolenka. The Prussian corps retired from Thorn 
to GoUup, cavalry, however, being left on the 

At Posen, Napoleon, perplexed by the course 
of events, at first thought that the Russians 
were going into winter quarters, and hoped 
that his own army would be able to do the 
same. Varying news evoked in him varying 
schemes, and bitterly he realized the distances 
and the difficulty of conveying reports. On the 
2nd of December, receiving word from Murat 
that Warsaw had been evacuated by the enemy, 
he jumped to the conclusion that Murat's cavalry 
divisions must already be on the Bug, Davout 
across the Vistula, Lannes in the Polish capital, 
Augereau throwing a bridge at the mouth of the 
Bug. Ney's crossing at Thorn he expected to take 
place on the 2nd. But all this was illusion. The 
Emperor's wishes raced ahead of possibility. The 

^ The united stream of the Bug and Narew below their confluence 
is called indifferently by either name. In the present work, in con- 
formity with Lettow-Vorbeck, it is called the Bug. 


days were frosty ; ice drifts had appeared on 
the Vistula. Even on the 9th, a whole week later 
than Napoleon expected, Davout had not yet got his 
troops across, and effective work on the damaged 
bridge was only just about to commence. 

Meantime, Bennigsen too was disconcerted by the 
enforced delay of the French on the Vistula. He 
realized that he had far too lightly given up that 
broad, and at this season easily defensible, river 
and on the 4th at Ostrolenka he decided to turn 
back, telling L'Estocq, who on the 6th reached 
Strasburg, to retake Thorn. But this sudden fit 
of enterprise was soon followed by a return of 
apprehensiveness. Bennigsen halted on the Ukra, 
and entirely let slip the precious opportunity of 
attacking and crushing the French detachments 
on the right bank of the Vistula, which were not 
only scattered but, further, divided by the lower 
Bug. Not only this, but he did not even guard the 
ground between the Vistula and the Ukra. 

L'Estocq for his part only advanced as far as 
Gollup. There he received erroneous information 
that Thorn was already strongly garrisoned by the 
enemy, and he fell back to Lautenburg. 

All this marching and counter-marching passed 
wholly unperceived by the French. 

Napoleon meantime anxiously awaited at Posen 


the establishment of a passage over the Bug, for 
he seems to have taken it for granted that the 
bridging of the Vistula must have been successful. 
But the news did not come, and now he inclined to 
the idea of facilitating the advance of his right 
wing on the Warsaw side by pushing his rearward 
corps over the river at Thorn. His first operation 
orders on the 13th were drafted accordingly. At 
this date, moreover, the Thorn bridges were ready. 

Out of the cavalry divisions that had been directed 
towards Thorn he formed a II Reserve Cavalry 
Corps under Marshal Bessiferes. This was ordered 
to march by Rypin and Biezun. and ultimately to 
reconnoitre the line Pultusk — Willenberg, where the 
Emperor's rich and restless imagination placed 
the Allies. Ney was directed on Strasburg and 
ordered to push out his light horse on the Konigs- 
berg road. Soult was to cross the Vistula at 
Thorn and Wlocklawek, and the Guard and Berna- 
dotte were directed upon Thorn, whither Napoleon 
himself proposed to go. This division of his army 
into two widely separated groups, so contrary to 
Napoleon's usual practice, was forced upon him 
by the difficulty of crossing the Vistula and the 
want of supplies. If the Russians gave ground 
and retired into winter quarters he proposed to 
follow them up with the whole of his numerous 
cavalry, but no other troops. A report from Murat 


that the Russians were really retiring seemed to 
him on the night of the 13th/ 14th to confirm his 

At last a French detachment got across the Bug 
at Okunin and maintained itself on the other side. 
Napoleon assumed from this that the bridges were 
finished both at Warsaw and on the Bug. He was 
right as regards the first, but the unfinished Bug 
bridge had been carried away by floating ice, and 
the Vistula bridge at Zakroczyn was not even 

On the 15th Napoleon altered his plans. The 
news from Warsaw decided him in favour of passing 
there with the bulk of his army. The retreat 
of the Russians was now evident. Bessi6res, 
Soult, and Ney, therefore, as well as Bernadotte, 
who was following them by Thorn, were to take a 
more southerly direction. The Emperor himself 
marched with the Guard for Warsaw. Pultusk 
was named as the common objective, with the idea 
of bringing the two army groups closer together 
and having them in hand for a battle. At 2 a.m. 
on the 17th, receiving a report that the Russians 
seemed to have really come to a halt at this point, 
he ordered Soult to join the Warsaw group by the 
left bank of the Vistula. The command of the 
far-distant left group he handed over to Bernadotte. 
Augereau was told to urge on the bridging 


operations at Zakroczyn. " It is high time for us 
to extricate ourselves from our present situation 
and to drive away the Russians and go into winter 
quarters." Murat was to assist liim, and he hoped 
to bring off the desired battle on the 20th or 21st. 
His latest experiences, however, might have told 
him that this was impossible, and yet he calculated 
upon bringing up Jerome's corps from Silesia and 
so bringing his available total to 140,000 — an idea 
which still further outran the facts. 

The frost had meantime given place to thaw, and 
the roads had become bottomless mires. Napoleon 
himself was delayed, although he travelled in a light 
country cart. It was midnight on the 18th/ 19th ere 
he entered Warsaw. He found his brother-in-law 
Murat ill with fever. His reports of the marshals 
had a gloomy ring ; food was lacking for the men's 
sustenance, timber for the bridges. There was no 
news from the left group, and uncertainty as to 
the enemy's positions and purposes. Winter 
quarters were the one universal desire, but events 
would not be hurried. Bernadotte was not able to 
draw in rightwards as fast as Napoleon desired. 
Augereau's building operations were very slow. Soult 
was looking for a new point of crossing, whicli he 
eventually found at Drobrzykow, just above Plock. 
Three weeks had already been wasted on the Vistula 
— for Napoleon an unheard-of stoppage. 


At last, on the 22nd, came the welcome news 
that the Bug bridge at Okunin was ready, and the 
worst of the danger was over for tlie troops on the 
right bank of the Vistula. At once tJiere went 
forth the orders that were to rid the army of its 
troublesome opponent. Davout was to cross the 
Bug and extend along the Ukra, a.ttacking the 
Russians behind that river if they were not too 
strong. The whole of the cavalry at Warsaw 
— I Reserve Cavalry Corps — was put in motion, 
Nansouty taking over the command owing to 
Murat's illness. Augereau v/as to advance on 
Plonsk by the right bank of the Ukra, and Soult 
had already named that point as his own objective. 
The Guard was moved up from Warsaw. The left 
army group under Bernadotte was given Biezun 
as its point of direction. 

During this time the Prussians stood fast at 
Lautenburg, the old-fashioned mixed detachments 
being pushed out to the front. The Osterode 
decree had evidently produced no effect as yet, 
for 25 squadrons stood idle with the main body. 
A detachment sent out to Biezun to connect with 
the Russians was driven off on the 20th by the 
French cavalry, and General von Diericke was 
dispatched to support it with reinforcements. 
Arriving before the town on the 22nd, he first 
refrained from attacking and then, in planning a 


surprise assault for the 23rd, allotted to the task 
no more than two small mixed columns. One of 
these was suddenly attacked and captured by the 
French cavalry, wliereupon Diericke gave up the 
enterprise, not daring to use the rest of his troops, 
who had stood idle spectators of the mishap. 
This was leadership of the sort that characterized 
the disastrous October days. 

L'Estocq's advanced troops were likewise expelled 
from Gurzno, and the Prussian general thereupon 
retired on Soldau. In thus taking the direction 
of Konigsberg this small force sacrificed its con- 
nexion with the Russians for the sake of covering 
Prussian territory, just as the Prussian h<3ad- 
quarters had intended on the 9th of Octobei* to 
separate Tauentzien's corps from Hohenlohe's 
army and to send it to Dresden for the reassurs^nce 
of the Saxon Court. At Soldau L'Estocq broke 
up his force into seven groups and distributed it 
between Neumark and Mlawa, in a broad zone 
measuring 28 miles front and 9 depth. Thus even 
at this stage the disastrous practice of dissemination 
Avhich had already done so much harm still figured 
in the armoury of Prussian strategists. 

Bennigsen, therefore, was left to his own devices 
in the angle between the rivers Ukra and Narew. 
He awaited the coming of Buxhowden, who was now 
approaching Ostrolenka. Two divisions under 


General von Essen I that had been called up from 
the Turkish frontier had reached Brest, 116 miles 
short of Warsaw. 

Another bar to success on the Allies' side was the 
want of unity in the commanders. Bennigsen and 
Buxhowden were independent of each other. The 
Tsar had sent General Tolstoi to act as his personal 
representative, and these three officers formed a 
sort of triumvirate for the direction of the army. 
The question of a commander-in-chief for the 
whole had long been in dispute, but in the end 
the choice fell on old Count Kamenskoi, whom the 
voice of Russian military and political circles, in 
Moscow especially, named as the worthiest and 
most capable adversary to oppose to a Napoleon. 
Formerly, indeed, in the old Turkish wars, Kamenskoi 
had been a meritorious commander, but he was 
now out of date, over seventy years of age, an 
eccentric old man who was neither physically nor 
morally qualified for the command of a great army. 
He was, indeed, well aware of this, and pointed 
it out with the utmost frankness to the Tsar, 
demanding at the same time his recall. 

Kamenskoi's first intention — the natural one 
for any new-comer — was to drive back the French 
over the Vistula. But his dispositions were little 
suited to that end. According to these, Bennigsen 
was to advance to Sochocin, while Buxhowden 


divided his army into two equal wings, ^ eactt of 
which was to come up on one flank of Bennigsen's, 
and the left to advance between the Bug and the 
Narew on Popowo, and so towards Warsaw, which 
was also the ultimate destination of Essen I. Here, 
too, dissemination of force is the watchword. 

The whole plan was quickly dislocated — before 
indeed its execution had seriously begun. It was 
fortunate for the Russians this time that it was so, 
for Napoleon could have concentrated superior 
forces against them before the scheme matured. 
For in fact he anticipated them by forcing the 
passage of the Ukra near Czarnowo, close to its 
junction with the Bug. 

The Russians at this point had abandoned a 
wooded island in midstream to the French. The 
Emperor, who had reached the bridge at Okunin 
between 9 and 10 on the morning of the 23rd, betook 
himself thither at once, and from the roof of a house 
reconnoitred the position of the Russians opposite, 
which was separated from him only by a nari^ow 
channel and by the meadows in the angle between 
the two rivers. The position was a line of low bluffs 
which formed the third side of the triangle. Fiedd- 
works had been constructed thereon, but so far as 

1 Buxhowden's army or group consisted of four divisions : 
5 Tuchkov, 7 Dokhturov, 8 Essen III, 14 Anrepp (subsequently 


could be seen the force of the defenders was small. 
It was decided to attack at once, and the construction 
of a bridge from the right bank of the Ukra to the 
island was promptly begun. Some of Davout's 
troops commenced the passage, and by nightfall 
all was in readiness. The last arm of the river 
was crossed in the dark, the weak Russian outposts 
in the meadow-land fell back on their main position, 
and this in turn, still in the darkness, was carried 
with a rush by Davout's greatly superior forces, 
the Russians retreating with serious losses about 
dawn. The troops defeated were part of Oster- 
mann's division, which was stationed at Nasielsk. 

Field-Marshal Kamenskoi's forward movement, 
as we may well imagine, proceeded but slowly 
over the bottomless roads ; moreover, it was part of 
the scheme to wait for BuxhoAvden to come up. 
When the news of the engagement at Czarnowo 
on the 23rd/24th spread the advance came to an 
entire standstill. The old Field-Marshal's powers 
of self-control began to desert him, and he rode to 
and fro amongst the troops making wild speeches. 
Bennigsen, although the junior of the three higher 
commanders, found himself obliged to take the com- 
mand into his own hands again, and on his own 
responsibility ordered the retreat to Pultusk. This 
was successfully accomplished, in spite of all 
difficulties, though not without more or less severe 


rearguard fighting. This time Napoleon's im- 
patience saved his enemies. 

The French followed slowly, fighting their way 
against hunger, privation, and the mire. Of the 
enemy nothing certain was or could be known, 
for even the cavalry could not get forward in the 
knee-deep mud, and the Cossacks, knowing the 
country and its peculiarities, made good their superi- 
ority in reconnaissance and screening duties. 

Napoleon reached Nasielsk on the 24th, still in 
a state of great uncertainty. He considered it 
possible that he might be attacked by the Russians 
in great force, and took measures to repel them.^ 
On the following day, 25th, he turned north-west- 
ward on Novemiasto with Davout's corps, in order 
to facilitate the crossing of the Ukra by the other 
columns. Learning that these had already suc- 
ceeded in passing and that Augereau and Soult were 
approaching, he turned north towards Ciechanow. 
Murat, recovered from his attack of fever, overtook 
the Emperor and passed on rapidly to the front 
with such cavalry as was at hand. He manag(3d 
to catch up the enemy's marching columns as well, 

^ Berthier was told to write to Soult (Nasielsk, 24th Decembe]') : 
"As we are in the midst of the hostile army, which is caught en 
flagrant delit, we may be attacked to-morrow by 30-40,000 mcsn. 
The Emperor's intention therefore is that you should march with your 
whole corps to-morrow at 3 a.m., to come to Nasielsk" (Derre- 
cagaix, Berthier, ii. 190). 


and a fight took place at Lopaczin, Napoleon, 
coming np to this place, learned that the Russians 
had retired part on Golymin, part on Ciechanow. 

The French advance from the Ukra and Bug now 
took definite shape. Lannes on the right wing was 
given Pultusk as his objective. On his left, Davout 
moved by Strzegocin, and Augereau along the 
Sonna, and, farthest west, Soult marched by the 
left bank of the Ukra from Sochocin. To each of 
these columns part of the I Reserve Cavalry Corps 
was assigned, but the bulk of the mounted troops 
under Murat himself hastened on ahead of Augereau. 
The general direction of the movement was towards 
the line Ciechanow — Golymin — Pultusk, where the 
Emperor hoped to meet and beat the Russian 
army. The enemy's centre of gravity he supposed 
to lie at Ciechanow, upon which point he meant to 
concentrate the bulk of his own forces. It seemed 
that heavy masses of the Russians, 20-30,000 men, 
were thereabouts, and from its position with respect 
to the road-system Ciechanow was a more likely 
point of concentration for the Russians than Pultusk. 
Further, he reckoned upon Bernadotte's striking 
in on the enemy's right flank, though as news of the 
right group was lacking this was pure speculation. 

Bennigsen's choice of Pultusk was undoubtedly 
wrong, and the alternative course with which the 
Emperor credited him must be considered as the 


only logical one. For it was impossible for some 
of the Russian troops to reach Pultusk, the French 
already barring the way thither. The march of 
the Russians by saturated wood and field tracks 
was naturally not accomplished without con- 
siderable losses in materiel ; 50 guns and a great 
deal of baggage stuck fast and had to be abandoned. 
There was also much confusion, for besides Bennigsen, 
Kamenskoi also issued orders in his lucid momcEits. 
It was only on the morning of the 26th that the 
old man left the army, after giving a final order 
that it was to retreat on its own country. 

On this day, 26th, Bennigsen stood fast at Pultusk 
to give time for his scattered columns to come in. 
The position which he took up, south of the town, 
was a line of low hills, the left flank resting on the 
Narew depression, the right on Moszyn. In front, 
at a mile and a quarter's distance, were the edges 
of the woods, towards which the ground sloped 
down gently. In all, Bennigsen appears to have 
assembled 40,000 to 45,000 men here. On the same 
day Lannes, coming up from Nasielsk, debouched 
from the woods into the open, and on Lannes' 
left from the direction of Strzegocin appeai^ed 
Gudin's division of Davout's corps, now commanded 
by General Daultanne.^ The two units combined 
numbered about 26,000 combatants. 
1 Chief of staff of the corps. 


Lannefci resolved to attack. The Emperor in 
writing to him had referred to the "relatively 
small hostile forces " which were retiring before 
him. His cavalry likewise reported but few of 
the enemy, for part of the Russian position — 
towards Moszyn — was out of sight. He therefore 
confidently expected victory. 

It was in these conditions that the battle of Pultusk 
took place. After a stubborn contest which lasted 
until evening, the French were repulsed with not 
inconsiderable loss. Daultanne reported to Marshal 
Davout in the night following the battle : " This 
has been a bad business. We have failed to capture 
the Pultusk position, and the troops of Marshal 
Lannes were unable to hold their own. In order 
not to put this corps in difficulties, my division 
was obliged to hold on to its position until 8 p.m., 
after which it had to retire. I am glad to say that 
this movement, a difficult matter in the existing 
conditions, was successfully executed. I have 
many wounded. The troops fought all day in 
knee-deep mud, and I am consequently obliged to 
rest for the moment. The most serious thing is 
that the ammunition is spent, and it seems practically 
impossible to get the ammunition- wagons up. I 
shall do my utmost to bring the division to Skaszewo 
(on Marshal Davout's line of march towards Golymin) 
to-morrow morning, this unfortunately will compel 


me to abandon 23 captured guns. It would probably 
be a good thing to support my retreat with another 
division." This was anything but hopeful. 

Bennigsen had victoriously held his ground. 
Nevertheless, at midnight he resumed the retreat. 
It was in vain that the Prussian Major von 
Knesebeck, the same who before Magdeburg had 
counselled a march into the west, and had escaped 
the Prenzlau capitulation owing to his absence 
on supply duties, implored him not only to stand 
fast, but even to pursue the beaten French. Ben- 
nigsen was apprehensive of being enveloped on 
the right flank and forced back upon the Naiew, 
and he had no confidence in Buxhowden's support, 
this general indeed having, on the authority of 
Kamenskoi's order, stood inactive all day at 
Makow . 

Simultaneously with the battle of Pultust:, a 
sharp engagement was fought at Golymin. The 
Russians under Prince Galitzin had reached that 
point from Strzegocin on the evening of the 25th, 
and had found part of Dokhturov's division (be- 
longing to Buxhowden's group) in position to sup- 
port them. On the enemy's side the cavalry and 
the corps of Augereau came on, both almost entirely 
destitute of artillery, for to get guns up was a sheer 
impossibility. In the evening a division of Davout's 
corps arrived from Strzegocin on the one side, a 


Russian column under Count Pahlen from Ciechanow 
on the other. The respective forces in this hot 
engagement were 27,000 French to 13,000 Russians. 
The latter, however, possessed a decided superi- 
ority in guns, and the short winter's day, the bad 
weather, and the poor roads were all in favour of 
the defender. 

In such conditions the attacker's columns nearly 
always start late, and march slowly and painfully. 
The cavalry reconnaissance breaks down, as even 
the horses cannot easily get forward ; uncertainty 
prevails as to the enemy, and generally, as in 
this instance, the artillery, at least the heavier 
metal, cannot accompany the troops. It is only 
late in the day that enough reports come in to clear 
up the situation. Then the troops are deployed 
for the attack, but far more slowly than in summer 
and on dry ground. So at last the engagement 
begins, but before a decision has been achieved 
the early evening settles down, and the fight is 
broken off by darkness. We ourselves suffered 
severely enough from this sort of thing in the Loire 
campaign of 1870-71, and it must have been far 
worse in roadless, marshy, and wooded Poland. 
Thus, for all their superiority in numbers, it was 
only at nightfall that the French — at the cost of no 
small losses — were able to drive out the Russians, 
who retreated in the night unharmed to Makow. 


The Emperor had expected serious opposition 
neither at Pultusk nor at Golymin, but, as we know/ 
at Ciechanow. When Soult arrived at the last- 
named place he found the birds flown, for Pahlen 
had marched to Golymin. There were no large 
forces at or about Ciechanow. In other words, 
the intended blow in that direction would have 
been a blow in the air. 

The reports from Golymin reached Napoleon 
too late for him to be able to reach the field of 
action, and he had the mortification of seeing his 
troops heavily engaged at two different points 
on the line without himself being able to be present 
at either. He now assumed that the Russians 
would fight at Makow. Murat hastened thither, 
and found plenty of mired guns and vehicles in- 
deed, but no longer any important body of the 

Bernadotte had not come up, and his where- 
abouts were for the time being unknown. Napoleon 
had told him that in his movement towards the 
main army he was to manoeuvre prudently and not 
to let the enemy commit him too deeply. This 
had made him cautious, and when, presently, Ney 
was deflected, his decisions and his movements alike 
became hesitating. Thus Bernadotte actually got 
no farther than Mdzewo, and his co-operation 

1 See p. 148. 


proving after all unnecessary he was directed ^ 
towards Willenberg and Neidenbnrg on the track 
of the Prussians. Napoleon himself, who had 
spent the night of the 26th/ 27th in the castle of 
Paluki, went on to Golymin on the 27th to super- 
intend the progress of affairs in person. On the 28th, 
however, the Russian rearguards w^ere out of reach. 
The condition of the army was becoming worse 
and worse, and a cessation of marches and 
manoeuvres was imperative. "The want of food 
broke practically all the restraints of obedience 
and overrode all feelings of humanity." Murat 
wrote to the Emperor : " Sire, it is with pain that I 
have to bring to your notice the same heartrending 
picture that probably every marshal has already 
drawn of the state of affairs in his own command. 
We find, not merely nothing for man and horse 
in the villages, but also the villages themselves 
deserted, all the inhabitants having fled." The 
roads were in an appalling state, the bridges in 
many places destroyed. The marching columns 
were unable to reach their assigned destinations. 
No great concentration of forces was possible, for 
there was no means of feeding a mass. Exhaustion 
and discontent began to make itself felt in the 

^ His temporary command of the left wing had ceased with the 
dra wing-in of Ney's corps to the main army. He had now only his 
own corps and part of the cavalry. — Tr. 


ranks. For a considerable time things had gone 
ill with the troops. Hunger was their constant 
attendant. Their tattered clothing no longer served 
to protect them against the night's cold, and 
billets were not to be had. The customary black 
rye-bread of Poland, which was the only kind now 
available, suited neither their taste nor their health, 
and as the mills were for the most part unwork- 
able, it was impossible to grind any better corn. It 
has been denied, as well as asserted, that the dis- 
cipline of the army had suffered ; ^ but it \\ ould 
have been surprising indeed if indiscipline had not 
manifested itself, at least to some extent. When 
the Emperor rode past the marching column 
on the 26th of December, the cry for bread, jest- 
ingly translated into Polish by the soldiers, sounded 
in his ears. At first he took it in good part, but 
then, as the cry grew louder and louder, he rode 
up to the grenadier company that was directly 
in front of him with a stern face, and said, also in 
Polish, " I have none." On another occasion the 
Emperor concealed his dissatisfaction by laughing 
and singing. '' He may well sing, for he has eaten," 
cried his own Guard grenadiers. Later, the French, 
it seems, suffered severely from home-sickness too.^ 

1 Lettow-Vorbeck, iii. 165 ff. 

2 Journal des Campagnes du Baron Percy, chirurgien en che/ de la 
Grande Armie (by E. Longin, Paris, 1904). 


It is not to be wondered at if December in these 
strange Bug and Narew lands aroused painful 
thoughts and memories of la belle France and 
Suabia and Italy. 

Nevertheless, the driving-power of Napoleon's 
personality undoubtedly kept the army up to its 
work. The soldiers believed in his star and followed 
him. " His Majesty marches them every day, which 
reduces every one to despair and brings the general 
misery to a climax. But the Emperor has purposes 
beyond our ken, and we must wait until these are 
realized before we judge or suffer a complaint to 
escape us," writes Baron Percy in his Journal. 

" Never was the French army so unhappy. The 
soldier, marching always, bivouacking every night, 
wading up to the ankles in mud the day through, 
had not an ounce of bread or a drop of brandy, 
not even time to dry his clothes, and he fell and 
died from weariness and exhaustion. Many in 
this condition were found in the ditches by the 
roadside where they had gasped out their lives. 
A glass of wine or brandy would have saved them. 
The Emperor's heart must have been rent by these 
things ; but he marched steadfastly upon his goal, 
to fulfil the great destiny that he prepares for 
Europe. If, unhappily, he were to fail, or to achieve 
only a half-success, then indeed would the army be 
dispirited and the voice of discontent uplift itself." 


Gradually, however, the cycle of events a<3com- 
plished itself, in a course too strong for the strongest 
human will to stay. Psychologically, it is in- 
teresting to note how even Napoleon's forceful 
character little by little began to yield before the 
inexorable opposition of the country and the 
season. At last he gave up the hope of fighting 
his decisive battle before going into winter 
quarters, and in the latter days his demands on 
the marshals and their troops came down step 
by step. 

For one thing, the marshals greatly exaggerated 
their victories over the Russians. Buxhowden 
was said to have led 40,000 to 50,000 men in person 
at Golymin, while the mass which retreated from 
Pultusk by the right bank of the Narew alone* was 
estimated at 35,000 men. On this showing the 
main body of the Russian army must have ap- 
peared on the field, even though it had fought in 
detachments and not as a single mass, and this 
fact helped to bring about the decision to make 
a halt. 

It has been said that Napoleon fell below his 
former high level of generalship during this part 
of the campaign and was far inferior to the Napoleon 
of Jena and Auerstedt, but this is evidently unjust. 
If we can judge by his numerous orders and pro- 
clamations, he was never once overcome by weari- 


ness, though this would have been perfectly natural. 
His ceaseless activity in command seems to have 
known no abatement. The force of circumstances 
alone proved mightier than he, and he was too wise 
to act as did Charles XII of Sweden, who even in 
such a situation as this persisted in his defiance, and 
achieved nothing thereby but the ruin of himself 
and his army. 

On 29th December the Emperor transferred the 
army to temporary winter quarters. Bernadotte 
was to establish himself on the right bank of the 
Lower Vistula, Ney in the neighbourhood of Soldau, 
Soult in the area in which he was operating at the 
time, Davout on the Lower Bug and the Narew, 
Augereau farther behind him on the Vistula close 
to his own point of crossing, Lannes on the right 
bank, the Guard on the left, at Warsaw. Part of 
the cavalry was to be sent eastwards in front of the 
army, part to be stationed on the Vistula. There 
now set in a period of rest in which the troops 
could receive supplies and recuperate themselves. 

But although Napoleon's genius as commander- 
in-chief shines before us as vividly in these dark 
days as in his more fortunate campaigns in Thuringia 
and the Mark, we are struck by another consideration 
which bears closely on his experiences in Poland. 
Only now do we realize how efficacious would 
have been the resistance which he might have 


had to face there, on the Vistula particularly, and 
the miserable pusillanimity displayed by the 
Prussians after the unlucky battles in October, 
which alone discouraged the continuance of the 
struggle. At no point on the Vistula had Napoleon 
met with any serious defence. And yet even the 
stream itself had given him endless trouble. Its 
great width, its yielding banks, the floating ice 
which appeared from time to time, and the lack 
of bridging materials might well have proved 
insurmountable obstacles to a weaker will. The 
bridging equipment carried by the French would 
hardly have spanned a sixth part of the great 
river. As the numerous Vistula boats and vessels 
had been sunk by the enemy, they had to be got 
out of the ice-cold water and repaired, and this 
entailed much time and labour, not even suitable 
tools being available. At Thorn, where the con- 
ditions were comparatively favourable, Ney still 
took a week to build a bridge, and at Warsaw fully 
11 days (2nd to 13th December) were consumed, 
in spite of the stores which were available in the 
city. At Zakroczyn, Senarmont, the general of 
artillery who was destined to become famous through 
the battle of Friedland, superintended the building 
of the bridge, but he, though hard pressed by 
Napoleon, found even a fortnight too little for the 
work, and the greater part of the 7th Corps had to 


cross in boats. The bridge over the Bug at Okunin 
took no less than 11 days to build. What might 
not have happened had the Russians and the 
Prussians made a serious stand at these points ? 
A very Httle more luck, and Hohenlohe or Bliicher, 
if not both of them, would have escaped and 
reappeared as an army in being on the Vistula. 
But even apart from this, a little energy expended 
in calling out the forces that were still available 
and could be obtained from the country would have 
meant a considerable increase in the means of 
resistance. It would have been easy to bring up 
L'Estocq's corps ^ to a strength of 32 battalions 
instead of 19. Of cavalry and artillery there was 
no lack. A general who was daring and constant 
in adversity would have been able to make a 
glorious, certainly prolonged, and probably in the 
end successful defence of the river line. 

So, indeed, thought Scharnhorst when he reached 
Danzig. He asserted that the outlook for the 
national cause was more promising than he himself 
had believed it to be, and considered that, provided 
that Napoleon respected Austria's neutrality, the 
Vistula could be held at least until Prussia and 
Russia were able to assemble fresh forces of resist- 
ance. Every march in advance lengtliened the 
line of operations of the French army and increased 

igeep. 113. 


the prospect of a successful attack on its flank. 
Stralsund in the north ^ and Silesia and all its 
fortresses in the south were still unsubdued. If now 
Austria were to accede to Prussia's urgent request 
and openly declare against Napoleon, it was certainly 
not too optimistic to expect a reversal of the entire 
military position. " The days of shame and dis- 
grace seemed to be at an end." ^ 

The close examination of these circumstances 
yields a valuable lesson for every commandei' in 
evil days. The same natural law which decrees 
that the force of an attack shall little by little lose 
its potency, guarantees to the defence even after 
the greatest disasters the hope of ultimate success. 
Let him therefore seek his salvation in steadfast 

Meantime the Prussian corps hadalso beeninaction. 

Marshal Ney had, in accordance with Napoleon's 
orders to Bernadotte, marched south-eastward 
on Kudsburg, and had only left a somewhat 
weak flank-guard on the route of Strasburg — 
Lautenburg that he had originally followed. How- 
ever, on receiving news therefrom that a Prussian 
corps of some strength was at Soldau, he turned 

^ Stralsund then belonged to Sweden, but this Power was also 
at war with France. — Tb. 

^ Lehmann, Scharnhorst, i. 475. 


back in that direction on the 25th of December 
with the main body of his corps which had marched 
to Kudsburg. The Prussians had made their 
arrangements for defence mainly as against an 
attack from the direction of Lautenburg, considering 
themselves sufficiently protected on the side of 
Kudsburg by the broad, marshy depression of the 
Soldau River. This was traversed only by two 
embankments, one of them close to the town of 
Soldau itself, the other near a lodge or outlying 
building (called Niederhof ) south-west of and about 
a mile and a half from Soldau. Both these em- 
bankments were protected by gun epaulments, and 
in accordance with what looks like sheer custom, on 
that of Soldau, skirmishers were pushed out to the 
farther end, where the sand-hills offered a certain 
amount of cover. The consequence was that the 
bridges over the Soldau River, which was deep and 
fairly broad, were left intact. It is more or less 
the story of the Burgthor at Liibeck over again, and 
one is really staggered by the might of habit. Its 
result was another mishap exactly the same and 
just as serious as the first. 

After an unsuccessful attempt to cross by 
Niederhof, the French attacked the Soldau em- 
bankment. At the same time, on the Prussian 
side a battalion told off to the defence of the town 
was withdrawn a.nd sent to strengthen the right 


flank, where Diericke's brigade, which lay in that 
quarter, had taken up a position on the Lautenburg 
road near Pierlawsken. Thither, too. General L'Estocq 
himself had ridden out, although in fact no disquiet- 
ing news whatever had come in from the Lautenburg 
side and his cavalry had reported the approach 
of the French from Kudsburg. He had definitely 
fixed the alarm posts of the troops in case of attack. 
The troops had occupied them, and he saw no reason 
to change his mind. After the withdrawal of the 
battalion from Soldau, General von Diericke sent 
back the skirmishers of the Riichel Regiment to 
replace it, but these too pushed out across the 
embankment to its south end. After a brief fight 
they were overpowered and, mingled with the 
fugitives, the French pressed on across the em- 
bankment and up to the entrance of the town. 
Exactly as had been the case at Liibeck, the artillery 
did not dare to fire into the mob of friends and foes, 
but drove away with their pieces. Two guns posted 
on the embankment fell into the hands of the 
enemy, along with the town. 

On hearing of this, General von Diericke set 
himself at once to do at least what was urgently 
needed. The fall of Soldau had broken through 
the Prussian general's line at its centre, and 
Diericke faced about towards the town, meaning to 
cut his way through by force. After a slight 


artillery preparation, he delivered his assault. 
Storming into the streets, he actually reached the 
market-place, where there was a large defensible 
building held by the French. Beyond this he 
could not advance, and the French, more expert as 
they undeniably were in fighting in localities, finally 
drove back the intruders. In the evening L'Estocq 
himself came on the scene, and a fresh attempt was 
made to storm Soldau. In this a battalion under 
the command of Captain von Grolman ^ of the 
general staff, working its way round the town, 
assaulted from the north-east side. But once 
more it proved impossible to carry the town, 
and the Prussians retreated on Neidenburg by a 
northerly detour. Thither, too, retired the detach- 
ment stationed at Mlawa, which had been driven 
out of that place with loss. 

The loss of Soldau, quite apart from actual mis- 
takes in its defence, is to be attributed to the fatal 
dissemination of the Prussian forces, for L'Estocq's 
corps, had it only been promptly assembled, would 
have been superior to Ney's. This defect was one 
of those congenital to the Prussian army of the time. 

Nevertheless, although the East Prussian cam- 
paign was thus initiated by a fresh reverse, it must 
be admitted not only that the troops fought bravely, 

1 The afterwards famous Quartermaster- General of Bliicher's 
army. — Tr. 


but also that the leaders did not lose their heads, as 
so many of their predecessors had done in Thuringia 
in the retreat through Saxony and Brandenburg. 
Ney thus speaks of the Prussian attacks in his report : 
" General L'Estocq enraged at finding himself driven 
out, assembled his officers and made them swear to 
retake the town in the night. And in fact, between 
7 in the evening, and midnight, he led four suc- 
cessive attacks, which were vigorously repulsed 
although the enemy displayed a courage that bor- 
dered on desperation." 

General L'Estocq remained halted at Neidenburg 
for the moment, but receiving on the 27th of 
December Kamenskoi's orders for a retreat he began 
to move off in the direction that he himself preferred, 
viz. through East Prussia on Angerburg. General 
Roquette, who had been sent out north-westward 
to keep up communication with Graudenz and the 
Lower Vistula, received an order which is sufficiently 
remarkable to be reproduced verbatim : — 

" The retreat is to be according to the enemy's 
advance. Your connexion v/ith the main body 
will necessarily be lost, as you have a quite different 
object to attain. This object is, by spreading out 
a chain of very small detachments, resting your 
right flank always on the Vistula and extending 
your left as far as possible, to provide for your 
own safety and for the covering of East Prussia.'' 


The task, be it observed, was entrusted to a 
detachment which totalled one battalion and ten 
squadrons. Comment seems superfluous. Geo- 
graphical and topographical, or even purely geo- 
metrical considerations still figured conspicuously 
in the Prussian style of war, and the living forces 
brought into play in respect of number and con- 
stitution alike, were considered as of negligible 

General L'Estocq entered Angerburg on the 3rd 
of January 1807. 

The Russians, too, had continued their retreat, 
Bennigsen on the left, Buxhowden on the right 
bank of the Narew. Bennigsen had caused the 
bridge at Ostrolenka to be burned, in order, it ap- 
pears, to evade a junction with Buxhowden on the 
other side of the river, for in that event he would 
have been subordinated to Buxhowden, who was 
the senior officer. It was only Vv^hen Novogrod was 
reached that through General von Knorring (who had 
been sent to the army as ad latus to the commander- 
in-chief) and the Prussian captain von Scholer, a 
meeting of the two leaders was brought about 
and a movement of both armies to Johannisburg 
arranged. This movement was carried out, for 
the bulk of the forces, by way of Tykociji, where 
the Narew was spanned by a permanent bridge, 
and Goniondz. At the last-named place Bennigsen 


received besides decorations for his victory of 
Pnltusk, the appointment of commander-in-chief. 
As such he conducted the united forces to Bialla, 
and Buxhowden left the front. 

General von Essen I, who it will be remembered 
was approaching from the Turkish theatre of wSbV, 
took over the direct protection of the Russian 
frontier against an inroad of the French from 
Warsaw. Most unfortunately, Bennigsen left Sed- 
moratzki's division at Goniondz to support him. 



On the 1st of January 1807 Napoleon issued his 
orders for the army to go into standing winter quarters. 
His intention was to give it a long rest to set it up 
again, to refit it with all necessaries, and to reinforce 
it, for he believed that the campaign was for the 
time being over. When the better season came, 
then he would give the Allies the crushing blow 
that adverse conditions had prevented him from 
delivering in December. 

The III Corps (Davout) and IV Corps (Soult) 
were to stand fast in their positions along the 
Lower Bug-Narew and on the Orzic ; the V (Lannes) 
was to be between Sierock and Warsaw, the VII 
(Augereau) between the Ukra and the Vistula. 
The I Reserve Cavalry Corps (Murat) stood partly 
on the Omulew, partly on the Vistula about Warsaw. 
In Warsaw itself the Emperor and his Guard 
were established. 

Bernadotte with the I Corps received orders to 



extend between Osterode and Elbing, to put the 
rich country of the Lower Vistula under contribution 
for the benefit of the French army and at the same 
time to cover it, and to blockade Danzig and 
Graudenz. Marshal Ney (VI Corps), who was still 
under his orders, was to quarter his troops to the 
south of Bernadotte's, about Gilgenburg.^ The 
II Reserve Cavalry Corps commanded by Marshal 
Bessieres was broken up and its divisions assigned 
to the two army corps (I, VI) with which they 
had worked in the previous operations. 

The forward edge, or frontier, of these winter 
quarters y/as formed by a line along the Passa.rge, 
and the Omulew, and thence by Ostrolenka on the 
Narew to Brok on the Bug. The bulk of the army 
remained concentrated in the Emperor's hands 
about ¥/arsaw, on either side of the Lower Bug ; the 
weak left wing extended as far as the Frische HafE. 

Infantry companies were attached to the cavalry 
that was in first line in order to lighten the outpost 
service and also as supports. Independent squadrons 
went out in front of the outpost line to reconnoitre, 
and in general all reasonable precautions were 
observed against surprise. Napoleon ordered the 
construction of strong bridge-head works at Pultusk, 
Sierock, Modlin, and Praga, these to be completed 
by 1st March. 

» See Map No. 10. 


These winter quarters undoubtedly seem to be 
very widely extended. But the extension was 
justified by the difficulty of providing quarters 
for the army in a country that had already been 
partly exhausted, and it is certain that the Emperor 
expected no irruption on the part of the enemy, 
who seemed to stand in need of rest fully as much 
as his own army. In this hypothesis, indeed, 
he was quite wrong, for the offensive power of 
the Prussians and Russians had by no means 
died away as yet. His thoughts and acts were all 
for the future Russian campaign, for which he 
made preparations with his customary care and 
thoroughness. The Princes of the Confederation 
of the Rhine were earnestly enjoined to set on foot 
or to complete their contingents. On 1st January 
the Emperor decreed the formation of a Polish 
Division under General Dombrowski out of the 
10,000 insurgents assembled at Lowicz ; this 
with some other available troops constituted the 
newly formed X Corps under Marshal Lefebvre 
which was told off to the siege of Danzig. A 
provisional Government was established for Poland, 
consisting of seven members of the nobility, and 
Napoleon hoped by means of this council that he 
would be able to make fuller use of the resources 
of the land. The rearward communications of 
the army were carefully organized and guarded as 


far as the available force permitted. The restoration 
of the old enceinte of Thorn, the inclusion in the 
defence system there of the neighbouring com- 
manding heights, and the creation of a bridge-head 
on the left bank of the Vistula promised to give 
the army a second strong point of support on the 
great river in addition to Warsaw. 

On 7th January there followed fresh and det£biled 
instructions for the quartering of the troops and 
the administration of the occupied areas, as also 
for the eventuality of a Russian attack, although 
indeed this was regarded as improbable. The con- 
centration points for the various corps were : 
VI Corps, Mlawa; IV, Golymin ; III, Pultusk; 
V, Sierock ; VII, Plonsk. Thus the four last-named 
corps Avere placed in an irregular rectangle, of which 
the head was at Pultusk, and the two sides that 
faced the east were each no more than 12 miles 
long, while the greatest depth of the cantonment 
area (to Plock) was some 30 miles. As the cavalry 
was pushed out to the front for 35 miles or so, the 
Emperor possessed the power in all circumstances 
of concentrating his great army in advance of the 
enemy's coming. ^ 

Napoleon's dispositions for winter quarters on 
this occasion may justly be regarded as a model. 

1 P. Greiiier, Etude sur 1807 . Manoeuvres d'Eylau et de Frkdland 
(Paris, 1001), p. 45. 


They ensured rest and the possibility of recuper- 
ation for the army, they screened the investment 
and siege of the Vistula fortresses, and they per- 
mitted the creation of a new and strong base of 
operations for the coming campaign, the control 
of a country whose prosperity was still unimpaired, 
and the utilization of Poland as an asset in the 
further prosecution of the war. 

The Emperor had now realized that his operations 
would necessarily be in districts which could not 
support his army, and that moreover the vulnera- 
bility of his line of supply was increased with 
every forward step. Before the opening of the 
next campaign he hoped that the resistance of 
Danzig and Graudenz — the former place of great 
importance as a port — would have been overcome, 
in which case supplies could be brought up the 
Vistula by water, and he would have been insured 
against want. The present conditions obliged him 
to examine very minutely eveiything that affected 
supplies and reinforcements for the army — ques- 
tions that on other occasions the weakness of his 
opponents had so often permitted him to ignore. 

The period of rest was, however, not destined to 
be a long one. When Marshal Bernadotte received 
Napoleon's first orders (those of 29th December i) 
for the taking up of closer rest- quarters, he had 

1 See p. 158. 


stood where he was at Mlawa and Chorzellen, in 
order to support Soult's position on the Orzic, and 
ordered Marshal Ney to assemble his corps between 
Neidenburg, Hohenstein, and Gilgenburg. Ney, 
however, had already advanced farther on the 
track of L'Estocq, and on the 2nd of January he 
reached AUenstein, Passenheim, and Ortelsbiirg, 
with cavalry as far out as Guttstadt. Then followed 
the order of 1st January for winter quarters, and 
Bernadotte warned Ney not to go too far forward 
and to keep his troops together. Further details, 
he naturally assumed, could well be left to Ney's 
own judgment. But this marshal, the " bravest 
of the brave," lacked the capacity for broad views 
and correct appreciation of strategical conditions. 
Contrary to expectation, his cavalry found the 
country entirely clear of the enemy as far as the 
environs of Heilsberg, and this induced the Mai'shal 
to continue in the path upon which he had entt^red. 
He shifted his headquarters to Wartenburg, whence 
on the 6th he issued orders to his troops representing 
his own views. So far northward did these orders 
carry them that the most advanced battalions 
reached Bischof stein and Liebstadt, and the cavalry 
attained the line of the AUe at Bartenstein. In 
so doing, apart from other errors, Ney committed 
that of which, except in this instance, the Prussian 
army had the monopoly — the error of ovei'-dis- 


persion. The quarters of Ney'is command now 
extended as far to the rear as Ortelsburg and 

Once Ney had transgressed the allotted bounds, 
events drove him ever onward. When from Barten- 
stein he heard that Konigsberg was only weakly 
garrisoned, the idea occurred to him to capture 
this important place, the second capital of the 
Prussian monarchy, by a coup-de-main, and he 
immediately took measures to put his idea into 
execution. Valuable as are the qualities of 
independence and initiative in a troop-leader, 
they degenerate into mere wilfulness when, as in this 
instance, they upset the plans of the higher leading. 
It must be remarked, too, that the Marshal did 
not even intend to conduct the dangerous enterprise 
in person, but entrusted it to a flying column 
under General Colbert, proposing to betake him- 
self to Bartenstein and there await the successful 
outcome of the venture. 

But the venture was not successful. When on 
the 6th of January the first French horsemen 
appeared at Bartenstein, the Prussian Court did 
indeed leave Konigsberg and go to Memel, but 
General L'Estocq was nevertheless ordered to pro- 
tect the capital. The Prussian corps was, as we 

^ The area Bischofstein — Liebstadt — Osterode — Ortelsburg gives 
a front of 30 miles and a depth of 32-35. — Tr. 


know, at Angerburg ; its quarters extended behind 
the Mauer-See, Lowentin-See, and Jagodner-See, and 
its advanced posts were piislied out in a westerly 
direction to Nordenburg and Drengfurt. On the 
south side of Konigsberg there was, besides, a 
small body of cavalry under Major von Borstell, 
and at Preussisch - Holland was Roquette's de- 
tachment, which in pursuance of its extraordinary 
mission of covering all East Prussia during the 
first retreat had begun by falling back to Braunsberg, 
but had afterwards advanced again in obedience 
to orders from Riichel. 

Brilliant was the prospect that presented itself 
to L'Estocq of taking revenge on Ney for Soldau 
and reviving the downcast hopes of the Fatherland 
by a splendid feat of arms. Ney's troops were 
scattered over an area of some 50 miles width 
and the same depth. The Prussians had had 
several days' rest. The lakes enabled them to 
assemble wholly unperceived, and from this cover 
they might have dashed out towards Seeburg and 
Guttstadt with disconcerting swiftness and surprise- 
effect. Their numerous cavalry, well led, must have 
been successful in catching and destroying a good 
many of the disconnected French battalions. Un- 
happily, nothing of the sort took place. In the 
heart of the old General there was no room for dash- 
ing'^exploits of this sort, and, for another thing, the 


reports which he possessed as to the enemy were 
far too incomplete for their dangerous situation 
to stand clearly revealed, although L'Estocq's 
strength in cavalry ought to have ensured his being 
well informed. This want of good reconnoitring 
on the Prussian side runs through the whole cam- 
paign. A small Cossack detachment which hap- 
pened to come to Angerburg was placed on the 
outpost line in the hope that the French would 
argue the presence of Russians as well as Prussians 
there. Instead of falling on and beating the enemy, 
it was sought to mystify and frighten him by petty 
stratagems of this sort. 

On the 8th of January L'Estocq advanced to 
Drengfurt, but with a portion only of his forces, 
the remainder staying in their quarters. Conse- 
quently, only some small forays were made towards 
the Guber and the Alle, vvhich gave the junior 
officers and men opportunity for displaying their 
quality, but produced no lasting effect whatever. 
On the 14th the General planned a foray on a larger 
scale against Schippenbeil, Bartenstein, and Bischof- 
stein, but he gave it up on learning that some of 
Ney's troops had entered Rossel. This was war 
after the pattern of the Bavarian Succession ^ and 
Rhine campaigns. 

About this time Bennigsen reached Bialla with 

1 Called the " Potato War.''— Tr. 





his seven divisions. ^ Since he had received his 
appointment as commander-in-chief he had made up 
his mind to resume the offensive. " My intentions," 
he says in his Memoirs, "were : — to advance, as far 
as possible unobserved by the enemy, between 
the chains of lakes in Old Prussia ; to drive back 
the French advance on Konigsberg ; to regain control 
of the Vistula, open free and secure communication 
with Danzig, relieve Graudenz ; then to put the 
army into winter quarters in Old Prussia, to await 
reinforcements from Russia, and when these came 
up, to add L'Estocq's whole corps to the garrison of 
Danzig so as to forbid any approach of the en(3my 
towards the fortress, and to divert him by attack- 
ing on the left bank of the Vistula." At the same 
time an order came from the Tsar to his army ^ 
requiring them to drive back the enemy over the 

There is undeniably a touch of boldness in this 
scheme, and Hopfner ^ declares it thoroughly 
worthy of a great general. But it has nevertheless 
one fatal flaw — it presupposes passivity in the 
enemy and that enemy Napoleon ! It ought not 
to have been forgotten that the Russian general 

1 i.e. the combined Russian armies, less Sedmoratzki's division. 
See p. 167.— Tu. 

^ Leopold von Ranke, Denkwurdigheiten des StaatsJcanzlers Fursten 
von Hardenberg {Ijci])z\g, 1877), iii. 278. 

3 Krieg 1806^7, pt. 2, vol. iii. ^. 173. 



could not expect to obtain the great advantages 
which he promised himself without a serious 
conflict with the main body of the French army. 
This contingency should, in truth, have been the 
central factor in weighing the problem. 

But, at least, considerable initial successes were 
possible. Marshal Ney, oblivious of all danger, 
was still in his far advanced positions in the region 
of Bartenstein, the Guber, and the middle AUe, 
rejoicing that he had exchanged the exhausted 
Neidenburg and Mlawa country for this relatively 
well-stocked district. 

Bennigsen had the advantage of surprise on his 
side. No one in the French army had suspected 
either him or the Prussians of projecting such a 
move. It is to be recorded in General L'Estocq's 
honour that he promptly fell in with it. There 
was, indeed, something unnatural in the idea of 
beginning to fight again in midwinter. It looks 
as if the French, and even their Emperor, had not 
quite emancipated themselves from the seductive 
idea that winter has a right to impose a cessation 
of military activity. For once priority of in- 
vention can be claimed for the AUies. 

On 13th January, when Ney had already gone 
to Bartenstein, he received a letter from the Major- 
General, Berthier, to the effect that the Emperor 
desired no offensive movement to be made during 


the winter, and that he, the Marshal, was to take 
his place in winter quarters between the corps 
of Soult and Bernadotte. But even this did 
not open Ney's eyes. He actually brought up 
from Willenberg the dragoon division of Grouchy, 
v/hich had just been placed under his orders, 
and on the 14th sent a detailed report as to his 
positions and those of the Prussians, expressing 
in conclusion the hope that the continued alterna- 
tion of frost and thaw would restrain the enemy 
from undertaking any operations, and adding 
naively that he had no information as to where 
Bernadotte's and Soult's troops were. He even <3on- 
templated peace and an armistice, and at a meefcing 
with General Riichel on the 17th at Preussisch- 
Eylau, he succeeded in arranging a suspension of 
hostilities. Fortunately, how^ever. King Frederick 
William III refused to ratify this agreement. 

Bennigsen, tlierefore, unfettered by any valid 
compact with the enemy, was still in a position to 
overrun Ney's troops by surprise, if he only acted 
vigorously and chose the direction of AUenstein, 
which lent itself best to hindering the foe from 
escaping southward. And indeed he pushed steadily 
forward from Bialla without halting or giving his 
troops even a brief rest. But the march proceeded 
only slowly, and not westwards by Nikolaiken and 
Passenheim, but (which was far less effectual) north- 


west on Rossel and Sensburg. From the 21st of 
January onwards the Prussians, who meantime had 
gathered on the Guber about Donhoffstedt, co- 
operated on Bennigsen's right by moving on 
Schippenbeil, Bennigsen sending the Viborg Regi- 
ment to reinforce them. Even now Ney was ignorant 
of what was in store for him, and the Emperor's 
letter of January 7th, ^ which would necessarily 
have enlightened him, appears not to have reached 
him. Nevertheless, in the event, his luck was to 
save him. Bernadotte, who had received this 
order as well as copies of Ney's correspondence 
with the Major- General, realized with astonishment 
how little his comrade's doings were in accordance 
with Napoleon's wishes, and instantly sent off a 
fresh warning to Ney to come back. This reached 
Ney on the 17th, just as he was negotiating his 
armistice. " Your advanced position and your 
continuance in it after the receipt of orders is not 
only contrary to the views of His Majesty, but also 
detrimental to my troops and to the operations en- 
trusted to me." This at last decided Ney to retreat, 
although he set about doing so very slowly. At the 
eleventh hour — on the 20th of January — he began 
his movement, and the Russians, coming up, found 
him departing, and were only able to inflict loss on 
part of his advanced troops. 

^ The same that is referred to on p. 171. 


As the prolongation of the Alhes' advance lay in a 
westerly direction (on Mehlsack and Liebstadt), and 
Ney's retreat in a southerly one, the Marshal was able 
to extricate his head from the noose, in spite of the 
extreme peril into which he had put himself. On the 
24th he and his corps were once more at Neidenburg 
without having any serious loss to lament. 

Much worse than Ney's might have been the fate 
of Bernadotte, who meantime had carried out his 
movement into the Lower Vistula country as ordered, 
and whose left already reached to the shore of the 
Frische Haff . The opportunity arose for the Allies 
to recoup themselves for their failure to entrap 
one French army corps by swiftly falling upon and 
annihilating another. Bernadotte's three divisions 
were about Osterode (Rivaud's), Saalfeld (Drouet's), 
and Preussisch-HoUand (Dupont's) respectively, 
the last-named finding in addition a post at Elbing. 
Here Marshal Bernadotte received, on the night 
of the 22nd/23rd January, Ney's report of his 
retreat and the unexpected offensive of the 
Russians. Ney himself, however, had failed to 
appreciate the significance of this offensive, and 
his communication to Bernadotte bears the clear 
impress of his under-valuation of the danger that 
threatened the French left wing. Bernadotte, 
however, if he lacked Ney's serene daring, far 
surpassed him in wideness of vision, and he 


appears to have realized vvliat was impending, for 
he instantly gave instructions for the southward 
concentration of his corps on Osterode, in order 
to get into touch with the grande armee and 
to secure himself from being separated from it. 
This was by no means easy to accomplish. Dupont's 
division in particular, which was at Preussisch- 
Holland and Elbing, and whose vanguard had 
actually seized Braunsberg and had the Prussian 
General Roquette in front of it there, must be 
prepared to make a flank-march in sight of 
the advancing allied army. Bernadotte himself 
hastened to Preussisch-HoUand on the morning of 
24th January, and from the reports which he received 
there, discovered the full extent of the disaster 
that threatened him. Hurriedly he wrote to 
Dupont : " I feel that we have no time to lose in 
saving ourselves, and I desire you therefore to march 
off at 4 a.m. to-morrow and to be at Preussisch- 
HoUand by 10 a.m. at the very latest." 

The Russians and Prussians in the meantime 
continued their offensive, but only in a comfortable 
and leisurely way, although a letter from Ney to 
the Major-General (Avritten from AUenstein on the 
22nd), which had fallen into their hands, revealed 
the enemy's positions, and particularly Bernadotte's 
isolation. The advance of the small French force 
above mentioned upon Braunsberg actually diverted 


the Prussian corps, which was to march on Wormditt, 
rightwards on Mehlsack, and it was only when the 
hasty retreat of the French became known and 
orders were received to make for Hagenan (north- 
west of Mohrungen) that the corps resumed its 
original direction towards Saalfeld. The Russians 
marched by Liebstadt, whence as darkness came 
on they chased a French post, towards Mohrungen. 

In order probably to cover the flank-marcli of 
Dupont's division, Bernadotte had rapidly pushed 
some troops from Preussisch-HoUand and Saalfeld 
on Mohrungen, and had betaken himself thither 
in person. On the 25th the Russian advanced 
guard under General Markov approached from 
Liebstadt, and the Marshal, who showed great 
decision in such emergencies, did not await; its 
coming, but rightly advanced to meet it, in order 
to cover the passage of the troops that had still 
to come in from Preussisch-HoUand. The events 
showed that this resolute advance was more 
efficacious than the most brilliant defence at Moh- 
rungen could have been. 

General Markov learned from prisoners that 
Marshal Bernadotte himself was at Mohrungen, 
and judged therefrom that strong forces of the enemy 
were in front of him. His judgment seemed to 
him to be confirmed by the advance of the French, 
and he therefore halted and awaited their onset 


at Georgenthal. This position, moreover, he only 
held until fresh French troops, marching in from 
Preussisch-HoUand and deflected to the battlefield 
by Marshal Bernadotte, made their appearance 
on his right flank, whereupon he retired. The 
main body of the Russian army, of whose movements 
unfortunately but little is known in detail, must 
have been at some considerable distance, as other- 
wise they would undoubtedly have come up to 
the support of the advanced guard. The Prussian 
corps likewise did not get to Hagenau, but only 
as far as Schlodien. Some of its detachments 
heard the cannon thunder at Mohrungen, but they 
did not hurry thither, for in those days it was not 
customary to " march to the sound of the guns." 
General Roquette, advancing through Braunsberg, 
joined the main body of L'Estocq's corps on this 

Thus, in spite of his dangerous situation at the 
outset, Bernadotte had actually a success to show. 
But unexpectedly there came the news that Moh- 
rungen itself, in his rear, was occupied by the 
Russians. This was the fact. The Russian cavalry 
moving farther south, had pushed out thither 
one of their detachments, and this had seized the 
place, which was but weakly held. The small 
garrison was surprised and captured, and a number 
of Russian and Prussian prisoners who were in 


the place, released. When Bernadotte faced about 
to recapture Mohrungen, the Russian horsemen 
vanished into the night. 

The mishap in Mohrungen did not alter the fact 
that owing to the indolent march of the Russians 
and the vagaries of the Prussian corps, Bernadotte 
had distinctly the best of it. Not only so, but his 
bold advance against Markov made such an im- 
pression upon Bennigsen that he imagined a French 
offensive in force, and on the 26th concentrated 
all the troops whom he could reach at Liebstadt. 
It was only on the evening of this day that he 
occupied Mohrungen, which meantime the enemy 
had abandoned. 

The French marshal and his corps had got away 
in safety to Liebemiihl. The Allies, indeed, SAvung in 
towards the line Liebemiihl — Osterode and made 
arrangements to attack him by envelopment. But 
there was no engagement, for Bernadotte swiftly 
evaded the intended envelopment of his left and rear 
by the Prussian corps, by a night march towards 
Deutsch-Eylau,! whence he continued his retreat 
upon Lobau. The blockade of Graudenz was gi^^en 

^ Deutscli-Eylau must be distinguished from Preussisch-Eylau ; 
the former lies about 18 miles W.S.W. of Osterode, the latter far to 
the north, 25 miles short of Konigsberg. Preussisch-Eylau is the 
scene of the battle presently to be described, to which indeed the 
German original always gives its prefix of " Pr." It must be re- 
membered that Prussia proper was outside the limits of Germany 
until 1866, hence the distinction. — Tr. 


up, and the troops which had been engaged in it 
(Hesse-Darmstadt contingent and one battaHon of 
Rivaud's division) were drawn in to the main body 
of the corps. 

Like Ney, Bernadotte had escaped to all intents 
and purposes unharmed, only the rearguard having 
to fight a few small skirmishes. It cannot be denied 
that he had acted with great adroitness and resolu- 
tion. At the same time, his corps was extremely 
exhausted and was now in urgent need of the 
rest that he meant to give it at Lobau. The 
numerical strength of the corps v/as seriously 
diminished by its losses on the march ; two of his 
divisions could now muster only 7500 men between 
them. In a winter campaign such as this, which 
was not only long drawn out but also had to con- 
tend with bad weather and bad roads, the number 
of effectives melts away like newly fallen snow 
in springtime. 

Marshal Ney, who had advanced again with 
a large force to Osterode in order to support or 
disengage Marshal Bernadotte, was informed on 
the 28th of the course of events, and fell back 
himself to Gilgenburg. 

Thus the French left wing had definitively escaped 
the disaster that Bennigsen had intended to inflict 
upon it, and a great effort had been expended to 
no purpose. The boldness of the commander-in- 


chief's scheme was not reflected in its execution. 
The aUied army had made its advance not only 
slowly but also in a northerly direction — that is, 
in the direction which was least dangerous to the 
French, and this being so there was no chance 
of overtaking them unless they on their side 
acted in the same way. The objects laid doAvn 
in Bennigsen's memorandum — the protection of 
Konigsberg, the securing of communications with 
Danzig, the relief of Graudenz — were all indeed 
attained, but the favourable opportunity of desling 
a heavy blow to two isolated army corps of the 
enemy, and so reducing the preponderance on the 
French side to an equilibrium, was let slip unused. 
But above all there was lacking the guaraatee 
of security for what had been gained, which only 
a decisive blow against the French main army 
could give. So far from this, the gains themselves 
were actually neutralized in part by the moral 
effect of the " slap in the face " at Mohrungen. 
Thus we learn from Bennigsen's experience, that 
it is not merely, nor even principally, high resolves 
and bold schemes that constitute generalship, 
but first and foremost well-directed energy of 

For sixteen days the Russians had been un- 
restingly on the march, and now they too s1;Ood 
in most urgent need of rest. For this Bennigsen 


proposed to allow three days at least, which it 
was expected would also give time for the supply- 
wagons that had been left behind to reach the 
front. The commander-in-chief meant to remain 
on the line Saalfeld — Guttstadt, but his troops in 
pursuit of the retreating enemy pushed on to 
Deutsch-Eylau, Osterode, and Allenstein, and their 
reconnoitring patrols still farther to the south. 

The Prussians were permitted by Bennigsen to 
continue their advance towards Marienwerder and 
Graudenz, and they eagerly seized the opportunity 
of doing more than the bare minimum laid down in 
army orders. Another Russian regiment, that of 
Kaluga, was sent to reinforce them. 

But there was another more important reinforce- 
ment than this. Since 18th January, Colonel 
von Scharnhorst had been attached to L'Estocq's 
headquarters. Unfortunately, his position and the 
influence that he was officially entitled to exercise 
were only too limited. Frederick would probably 
have promoted him Major-General and Lieu tenant- 
General in rapid succession, and then proceeded 
to put him, junior of his rank as he was, at the head 
of the whole corps, just as he did with Seydlitz 
and the cavalry at Rossbach. Frederick William III 
was not to be moved to take such extraordinary 
measures even at the most critical moment. " He 
had sighed over the dearth of good generals in 


his army before the war began, and the experi(mce 
of these three months demonstrated only too sadly 
what good reason he had to do so. But his un- 
willingness to give offence or act contrary to 
tradition kept him from having recourse to the 
obvious expedient of retiring the greybeards who 
were good for nothing, and promoting in their place 
the workmanlike staff officers of whom he had a 
goodly number." ^ 

On his arrival at Wehlau, where he joined the 
Court, Scharnhorst had been received with the 
utmost graciousness by Frederick William and 
Queen Luise, and was delighted to find that " they 
were no longer weighed down by despondency." 
He was doomed all the same to long and weary 
waiting at Memel before he could obtain the desired 
permission to join the field-force. He was assigjied 
to General L'Estocq, who, as the King himself 
said, was beginning to show the infirmities of old 
age, and whom he was to " assist in every way," 
a difficult enough task in any case, but peculiarly 
so here, as Scharnhorst found himself placed in 
strange conditions in which he was at first un- 
able to find any suitable scope for his activities. 
Youthful recollections — it is almost always these 
that have the firmest hold — took L'Estocq back 
to the days of the Seven Years War, in the latter 

1 Max Lehmann, Scharnhorst, i. 479. 


part of which he had been an aide-de-camp of 
Zieten. After that, during the expedition of the 
Duke of Brunswick into Holland (1787), he and 
his hussars had won easy fame by the capture of an 
old armed ship.^ The pure product of regimental 
duty, he shared to the full the old regimental 
officer's prejudice against everything labelled 
" general staff." And, to be fair, the record of the 
war hitherto had not been such as to reflect any 
credit upon the staff officer, who for the last fev/ 
decades had made himself the somewhat arrogant 
professor of new and scientific methods of war, but 
in the conduct of an army had come to utter 
shipwreck. L'Estocq had hitherto reposed complete 
confidence in his personal staff, all " practical " 
men, and above all in his senior aide-de-camp. 
Captain von Saint-Paul, who was an intelligent 
and ambitious officer with a relatively brilliant 
record behind him,^ and moreover derived support 
from his relations with Colonel von Kleist, the report- 
ing aide-de-camp general to the King. It was only 
human nature for this confidential person to regard 

1 See the author's Rossbach und Je7ia, p. 418. 

2 Hildebrand, Die Schlacht hei Pr. Eylau, p. 22. Saint-Paul was 
born in 1768 in Nordenburg, had reached the rank of Rittmeister at 
the age of twenty-seven, and in 1807, at the age of thirty-nine, was 
promoted Major. He was therefore a specially favoured officer, 
and was regarded as possessing exceptional qualifications, and it was 
impossible that he should readily accept Scharnhorst's authority, 
lie died in 1813, as commander of a regiment, at the age of forty-five. 


Scharnhorst as an interloper, and inexcusable though 
it may seem, it is to some extent comprehensible 
that he should have attempted to combat Scharn- 
horst's influence with the old General. It must 
be remembered that Scharnhorst 's great services 
during the retreat on Liibeck were practically 
unknown to his new comrades, and he would 
naturally be thought of primarily as the Chief of 
Staff who had failed to avert the great disaster 
of Auerstedt and was not likely to do any better 
here. Under such conditions, it is easy to see how 
much of the effect of his ability and comprehensive 
judgment was necessarily lost. Yet in spite of all 
this, the influence of Scharnhorst's strong a.nd 
earnest spirit soon made itself increasingly per- 
ceptible in the leading of the Prussian corps. 

Successful cavalry skirmishes preluded its further 
operations. In Marienwerder a French general 
was carried off with two other officers and 30 men, 
and on the night of the 2 8th/ 2 9th another general 
was surprised at Bialechowo, north-east of Graudenz. 
On the 29th General L'Estocq advanced as far as 
Rosenberg, on the 30th and 31st to Freistadt, his 
advanced guards even to Lessen and Schwarzenau. 
Communication with Graudenz was reopened. The 
Prussians were encouraged by news that reactied 
them of Napoleon's returning to Berlin, prostrated 
by nervous fever, and of the bridges over the Vistula 


at Thorn, reconstructed by the French, having 
been swept away by floating ice.^ General L'Estocq 
proposed to continue his operations. 

The AUies were destined to be cheated of their own 
ulterior desires just as they had but now cheated the 
French of their illusions . The Russians obtained little 
of the long rest in quarters that they had expected, 
and the Prussians' offensive was never realized. 
Napoleon, so far from being sick of a nervous fever 
or being worn out by his previous fatigues, was 
displaying the most astounding activity in Warsaw. 
He followed with the minutest attention every 
movement of his various corps, and busied himself 
unceasingly with providing for their wants and 
preparing for the spring campaign, for the work 
of reconstituting and refitting the army was still 
very far from completed. Politically, too, there 
was much to be done. Negotiations with Austria 
went on vigorously. Napoleon desiring a definite 
settlement with that Power as regards the Eastern 
Question, which touched his interests very nearly. 
To Marmont, who commanded the French forces 
in Dalmatia, went the welcome news that Turkey 
had, on 30th December 1806, declared war on 
Russia. The imagination of the world-conqueror 
swept over land and sea to the distant Indus. 

^ This in fact happened on the 23rd of January. 


We are reminded of the plans that stirred his soul 
in the days when he was marching from Egypt 
into Syria.^ Marmont was instructed to support 
the Turkish pashas of Bosnia and Bulgaria in 
every way, with officers, supplies, and necessities. 
In case the Porte asked for an auxiliary corps, the 
Emperor was willing to send him with 25,000 men 
to Widin where, in combination with 60,000 Turks, 
he would be able to compel Russia to dispatch 
a second army to the Danube and so facilitate 
the Emperor's own operations. 

With Prussia, too, negotiations went on incessantly, 
his object being to induce her, either in concert 
with Russia to make peace in terms advantageous 
to France, or separately to enter into an alliance 
with him. At Posen the Emperor had addressed 
these threatening words to General von Zastrow : " If 
the Russians are beaten and the King has not already 
separated himself from them, there will no longer 
be a King of Prussia." Now, finding himself con- 
fronted by renewed resistance on the part of the 
Prussians, he repeated this menace. On the 29th 
of January Talleyrand wrote to Zastrow: ''I 
must not conceal it from your Excellency that in 

^ Yorck von Wartenburg, Napoleon als Feldherr, i. 148. " He 
proclaimed to the peoples of the East that he would capture Con- 
stantinople and overthrow the Turkish empire. A new emp:ire 
was through him to come into being, and he imagined himself 
returning to Paris by way of Vienna, victorious." 



the event of the non-acceptance of an alliance His 
Imperial Majesty will, to obtain his object, take 
measures to exclude the house of Brandenburg 
from the country for ever." ^ When, on the 18th 
of January, the Emperor received from Bartenstein 
Ney's report of his forward movement, his views 
and his projects, he caused the Marshal to be 
informed by the Major-General, Berthier, that he 
needed neither advice nor plans of campaign. 
" You must be sensible. Monsieur le Marechal, of 
the fact that isolated undertakings are detrimental 
to the general plan of operations and might involve 
a whole army in difficulties." When, on the 
following day, Ney's unauthorized negotiations for 
an armistice became known, the Major-General 
was instructed to inform him that the Emperor's 
plans were fixed, that he, Ney, was not now employed 
independently as he had been before Magdeburg, 
but had his defined place in the line of army corps, 
and that it was not permitted to him to conclude 
an armistice on his own account. To this was added 
the admonition : " His Majesty's commands are that 
in future your army corps is to march in mass and 
not disconnectedly (ddcousu), as you handled it in 
your late movement. The Emperor orders you 
to occupy the cantonments which have been 
assigned to you. Do so, however, gradually." 

i Lettow- Vorbeck, Krieg 1806-7, iv. 50. 


On the 20th of January the Emperor learned, 
further, that the Russian General Essen's corps, 
24,000 strong, was stationed between Lomsha, Nur, 
and Bryansk. Next there came information, vague 
at first but soon clearer, of the Russian army's 
continued presence in Old Prussia, though it was 
not until 23rd January that anything was known 
of its renewed advance. Soult was the first to 
notify this.i On the 23rd Davout sent in word 
that the Russians were beginning to harass his 
outposts, and on the same day Ney wrote to 
Berthier from Hohenstein : "It is asserted 
that the enemy has stripped a great part of his 
left wing, between Ostrolenka, Johannisburg, and 
Nikolaiken, entirely bare of troops in order to 
advance by Rastenburg in the direction of the 
Passarge." The darkness began little by little to 
lift. The Russians were certainly moving. But 
their plans were still an unsolved riddle, and it 
is instructive to cast a glance into the workshop 
of Napoleon's mind in the days which followed. 

At first the Emperor comforted himself with the 
idea that he had to do with nothing more than 
the consequences of Ney's ill-considered advance. 
Nevertheless, as a prudent general he prepared for 
emergencies by giving orders that in case the news 
of a Russian advance was verified, Soult was to 

1 Ney's report of the 22nd did not reach the Emperor (p. 181). 


concentrate his corps at Golymin and to inform 
Augereau at once. The bridging work at Sierock 
and Pultusk was to be hurried on. 

By 25th January Napoleon had admitted the 
possibiHty that the indices that were forthcoming 
pointed to a general offensive of the Russians. 
Augereau was to collect all his troops on the 
right bank of the Vistula and to place himself 
in readiness behind Soult. Outlying divisions 
were drawn in closer to the army.^ Next day 
(26th), however, the Emperor again suffered himself 
to be quieted by the idea that the enemy, like him- 
self, must be desirous of staying in his winter 
quarters, and that he would certainly settle down 
in them as soon as he had succeeded in scaring Ney 
into retreat. Nevertheless, he ordered more ad- 
vanced points of assembly for some of the corps, 
so as to support the exposed corps of Ney and 
Bernadotte more closely in case operations were 
resumed. Soult was to occupy Willenberg strongly. 

On the 27th Napoleon's view of the situation 
was completely changed. What was the piece of 
information that actually decided him cannot now be 
established with certainty. A report from Berna- 
dotte, written on the evening of 24th January, 
after the Marshal had betaken himself to Mohr- 
ungen, came in to Napoleon's headquarters. Its 

^ Oudinot from Kalisch to Posen, Espagne from Posen to Lovvicz. 


general tenor was similar to that of the warning 
call sent by Bernadotte to General Dupont ^ on 
that day, and may well have had a disturbing ling. 
Ney, too, had sent in this message to the Major- 
General : " Trustworthy information derived from 
traders agrees with the stories of deserters and 
prisoners in stating that there is a considerable 
mass of Russian troops assembled at this moment 
between Miihlhausen and Preussisch-Eylau and 
that the united army under the command of General 
Bennigsen is 80,000 strong." ^ 

The instant that his convictions had taken 
shape, the Emperor resolved to break up from winter 
quarters and to answer the enemy's offensive 
with a heavy and annihilating counter-attack. 
From this point his generalship is masterly. We 
might well call it the lion's awakening but for the 
fact that Napoleon was already on the alert. This 
time he was resolved not to return to rest until 
he had destroyed the Russians. In quick succession 
his orders shot forth. 

The same evening (27th) he told Murat to march 
on Willenberg, there with Soult's corps and all 
the reserve cavalry within reach to form the 
advanced guard of the grande arm^e. The rest 

1 P. 182. 

2 Pierre Grenier, Etude sur 1807. Manceuvres d'Eylau et de 
Friedland, p. 48. 


of the reserve cavalry was to assemble at Mlawa, 
whither also Augereau was to come with his whole 
corps. Davout was to concentrate about Pultusk. 
The Emperor's general scheme was to assemble 
the bulk of the army about Willenberg, and 
thence, preceded by the advanced guard, to 
advance against the left flank of the enemy. 

Special instructions were issued for the eventu- 
ality of the enemy's moving on the Lower Vistula. 
Bernadotte was in this case to retire on Thorn, 
where Lefebvre's newly formed 10th Corps was 
to be ready to support him. It appears that 
Napoleon laid particular stress upon the mainte- 
nance of Thorn. Warsaw was too far away. He 
required a nearer point of passage on the Vistula 
on which to base his operations. Ney, although 
placed next to Bernadotte, was not to support him, 
but to cover the concentration of the grande armie ; 
Murat to assemble the reserve cavalry at Mlawa 
at once and to form the advanced guard in con- 
junction with Ney's VI Corps. Thereafter the 
grande armee was to wheel to the left and fall 
upon the exposed flank of the Allies as they moved 
towards the Vistula.^ 

Lannes' V Corps was given a special mission. 
It was to hold the Russian corps of Essen I in check 
in the angle between the Bug and the Narew. The 

1 P. Grenier, Elude siir 1807, pp. 50-]. 


Emperor's plans even went so far as to provide for the 
eventuality of the enemy's crossing the Lower Vistula. 

On the 28th, after receiving information that the 
enemy had not continued their pursuit of Berna- 
dotte in the direction of Thorn, the Emperor con- 
ceived the plan of " breaking into the enemy's 
midst and flinging back to right and left such por- 
tions of his army as had not effected their retreat 
in time." The offensive by Willenberg is now 
the Emperor's watchword. On the 1st of Feb- 
ruary he intended to place himself at the liead 
of his army there, and to drive it like a wedge into 
the enemy. No less than 29 dispatches written 
by him on this day (28th January) are preserved, 
and form a good specimen of the work of (com- 
manding an army at a moment of crisis. 

On the evening of the 31st of January, in readi- 
ness to move off next day, Murat was to be with 
his cavalry in advance of V^illenberg, Soult at 
Neidenburg and Janow, the Guard at ChorzeJlen. 
The axis of the general movement of the grande 
armie was to be the road Chorzellen — Willenberg — 
Ortelsburg. If the enemy was found to be more 
to the west, the Emperor meant to deprive him 
of his communications with the home country 
and his line of retreat, by anticipating him on the 
right bank of the AUe and confronting him at 
one of the passages of that river. 


It is interesting to observe, moreover, how far 
the Emperor's * mind ranged in meditating the 
future course of operations. To Genera] Clarke, 
lately appointed Governor of Berlin,^ Napoleon 
caused the following to be sent : " As a corps of 
the enemy may be cut off and thrown back on 
the Lower Vistula or even farther, I have desired 
you to send troops to Stettin, to watch events 
closely and to keep Marshal Mortier^ informed. 
You will then be in a position not only to prevent 
the enemy from crossing the Oder, but also to stop 
him and delay his march so as to enable the corps 
sent after him in pursuit to overtake him." ^ 

One is tempted to accuse the Emperor here of 
making plans too far ahead, an error which indeed 
entraps many a commander who is gifted with 
all too rich an imagination. At the same time 
it must be especially observed that Napoleon 
refrained from giving any detailed orders, his inten- 
tion being simply to set out clearly certain possi- 
bilities of the future for the benefit of all concerned. 
No one was to allow events to take him unawares. 

His own view was still that the Allies would retire 
as soon as he launched his attack, and thereafter 
he intended to follow them up with all his forces, 

1 He had previously been Governor of Erfurt. 

2 Mortier, it will be remembered, was with the VIII Corps in 
Mecklenburg and Hither Pomerania. 

3 P. Grenier, Etude sur 1807, p. 53. 


even Bernadotte closing in from the extreme left 
so as to ensure the concerted action of the wliole 
army under his single control. 

On 30th January he left Warsaw. In passing 
through Pultusk he gave Marshal Lannes further 
particulars of the task that he was to perform. 
In the first instance Lannes was to advance threaten- 
ingly in the direction of Nur, in order to divert 
attention from the main army's offensive. Later, 
he was to secure the right bank of the Narew fi^om 
the mouth of the Omulev/ to Sierock, above all 
maintaining his hold on this last place ; and he 
was also to cover the interval between Sierock 
and the Austrian frontier. In this he could use 
the bridge-heads of Sierock and Pultusk as pi\ ots 
for his operations, but in case of need his line 
of communications was to be by Modlin and not 
by Praga (Warsaw). In this, once more, was 
manifested the Emperor's intention of making 
Thorn, and not Warsaw, his main bridge-head and 
point of passage on the Vistula. 

As it turned out, Lannes fell ill immediately 
afterwards. Savary replaced him, and the pro- 
jected advance was given up. On his journey 
to the front Napoleon, to his great satisfaction, 
was able to convince himself that comprehensive 
arrangements had been made for the supply of the 
troops, especially as regards bread, and he still further 


developed his supply instructions by organizing 
a general system of refilling. A large mobile park 
was to be brought up, the vehicles of which were to 
be loaded with bread and brandy and sent up to 
headquarters, returning when empty to Warsaw 
to refill with fresh supplies. Polish country carts 
were collected for the same purpose. As soon as 
the army had advanced more than seven days' 
marches, only biscuit was to be sent up to the front. ^ 

Daru, the Intendant- General of the Army, re- 
ceived detailed instructions for the collection and 
forwarding of great quantities of supplies, which 
bear witness to the extreme care and far-sighted- 
ness of the Emperor. It is true that in the end 
the arrangements he had made broke down, but 
this is practically bound to happen when, as here, 
an army enters and traverses without halt or check 
a land of evil roads, in which even the miserable 
country carts find it impossible to follow the troops. 

On January 31, the eve of the new campaign — 
destined to be brief and sanguinary — on East Prus- 
sian soil, the various parts of the army were thus 
distributed (Map No. 11) : — In front, Murat and Soult 
near Willenberg, the cavalry pushed out to about 
Ortelsburg ; ^ to the right rear, Davout at Myszyniec ; 

^ Lettow-Vorbeck, iv. 47. 

^ Murat had with him the cavalry divisions of Lasalle, Milhaud, 
and Grouchy. 


to the left, Ney at Gilgenburg ; farther back, the 
Guard at Chorzellen, and Augereau at Ciechanow 
and Mlawa. Bernadotte, who was as well pro- 
vided with cavalry ^ as Murat, lay out to the west 
towards Neumark, whither he went on the 31st, 
in order to protect Thorn more effectually, A 
glance at the map shows the magnitude of the 
danger that at this moment menaced the left flank 
of the Russia^ns. True to his principles, the Em- 
peror meant in the next few days to throw himself 
across his enemy's rearward communications, in 
order that the battle, when it came, should mean 
not merely defeat but annihilation to the Allies. 
In a letter from Berthier to Bernadotte we read : 
" I need not tell you, Monsieur le Marechal, that the 
Emperor's intention is to cut off the enemy." 

Napoleon himself, reaching Willenberg on this 
same day (31st), at once sent orders to Murat and 
Soult to march on to Passenheim, and to Ney to 
close in to a point half-way between Gilgenburg 
and AUenstein. Bernadotte was to conform by 
coming in to Gilgenburg, where he was to cover 
the rearward communications of the army ; he 
was to march at night in order to prevent the 
enemy's knowing of his movement ; if this was im- 
practicable, he was to continue to draw back slowly 

^ Bernadotte had at his disposal the cavalry divisions of Klein, 
Hautpoul, and La Houssaye. 


in the direction of Thorn, and as soon as the enemy 
ceased to press him, but not before, was to resume 
the advance vigorously. 

To the troops Napoleon addressed an inspiring 
proclamation : " Soldiers ! In the midst of winter 
as at the beginning of autumn, beyond the Vistula 
as beyond the Danube, on the banks of the Niemen 
as on those of the Saale, ever are you of the 
Grand Army. 

" I shall direct your movements, you will do 
all that honour commands, and if they dare to 
stand up before you, few of them shall escape." 

Just as long ago he had pointed out the prosperous 
plains of Italy to the hungry soldiers of the Republic, 
so now he wished his army comfortable quarters 
for the rest of the winter " in the fair land of Old 
Prussia." ^ 

The movements of the French army did not 
pass entirely unnoticed by the Allies' headquarters. 
The Cossacks did excellent work. Bennigsen 
certainly found out on the 30th that the French 
were massing at Mlawa and Neidenburg. In con- 
sequence he moved four of his divisions towards 
AUenstein, and informed General L'Estocq, who 
sent Scharnhorst to him. But the commander- 
in-chief did not attach any special importance 

1 Lettow-Vorbeck, iv. 53. The proclamation was issued on the 
30th, before the departure of the Emperor from Warsaw. 


to these events. He thought L'Estocq was strong 
enough by himself to threaten Thorn. Sednior- 
atzki's division at Goniondz received orders to 
advance upon Pissa and threaten the right flank 
of the French army. He flattered himself that the 
enemy thus attacked from all sides would withdraw 
in affright behind the Vistula, without hazarding 
a general engagement. 

But he was to be saved, and by one of those 
amazing accidents that so often play the major 
part in war, by " His sacred majesty Chance," as 
Frederick called it. The letter mentioned above 
as having been sent to Bernadotte by the French 
headquarters at Willenberg on the 31st fell into 
the hands of the Cossacks. ^ On the evening of 
1st February it lay before Bennigsen at Mohr- 
ungen, and the Russian general was able to form 
an accurate idea of the surprise that the Emp(?ror 
was about to give him. At once he ordered the 
whole army to concentrate about AUenstein. The 
greater part of the army was already on its Avay 

^ It may be permissible to point out that what was luck to 
Bennigsen was scarcely ill-luck to the French, but rather the 
penalty of negligence. Only one copy of the dispatch was sent, 
and that not by a representative of the staff but by a young oflicer, 
fresh from France, who had just been posted to a regiment in Ber- 
nadotte's corps and had reported himself at headquarters for in- 
structions as to how to join it. See F. L. Petre, Napoleon's Campaign 
in Poland, pp. 175-6, and authorities there referred to, for a detailed 
account of the messages interchanged between Berthier and Berna- 
dotte.— Tr. 


thither. Prince Bagration, who with the advanced 
guard had foUoAved up Bernadotte by Lobau, and 
L'Estocq's corps were also able to close up on 
the others.^ The Russian general asserts that his 
idea was to fall back to Wartenburg on the main 
Konigsberg road, where he would have regained 
his line of communications, which thereafter he 
would have run no risk of losing. But there is no 
document in support of this, and it is doubtful 
whether it was not later that the idea occurred to 

For the actual concentration Bennigsen had 
selected a position, near Jonkendorf or Jonkowo, 
north-west of AUenstein, formed by a considerable 
range of hills, and having in front of it a belt of 
water-meadows about 1| miles wide and inter- 
sected by ditches. This belt was formerly the 
bed of a lake, and even to-day it is in parts marshy 
and difficult to cross. According to the old ideas 
which attributed the highest value to frontal 
obstacles, the position was one of exceptional 
strength. Unfortunately, the enemy was under 
no sort of obligation ^o attack it. It blocked not 
one of the French lines of advance, for the more 
important roads northward passed, and pass to-day, 
right and left of it. 

Prince Gallizin, who with considerable forces 

^ L'Estocq was at Freistadt, 43 miles away. 


was already at Allenstein, was at once ordered to 
move into the position of Jonkendorf, lea^dng 
only a rearguard to cover the withdrawal of an 
advanced force under Prince Dolgoruki, wliich 
was expected from Passenheim. This measure 
was thoroughly justifiable, assuming that Bennig- 
sen intended to accept the decisive battle on the 
Jonkendorf line ; and incidentally it tells heavily 
against his assertion that he really meant at the 
time to fall back on Wartenburg, for one does not 
withdraw troops from the place to which it is one's 
immediate intention to march them. 


The campaign which now began, and culminated 
in the battle of Eylau, is one of the sternest of 
the century. The horrors that it brought with it, 
the efforts that it exacted from man and beast, 
surpassed anything that this war had hitherto 
seen, and indeed anything that the French army 
had experienced in all their previous campaigns 
in Europe. 

On the 1st of February, Passenheim, after a brief 
fight, fell into the power of the advanced guard 
of the grande armde (three cavalry divisions and 
the IV Corps (Soult), under Murat). 

The cavalry at once pushed forward on Mensguth 
and Bischofsburg, and also on Wartenburg and 
Aliens tein. 

Davout assembled his corps with the intention 
of marching to Ortelsburg next day, but the Em- 
peror's orders required him to leave behind 
detachments to secure the right flank of the army. 



Napoleon was more careful of his rearward com- 
munications than he had ever before been, as he 
felt himself unusually dependent upon them. 
" The force of circumstances has compelled me 
to return to the magazine system," he wrote to 
Daru. Ney, Augereau, and the Guard began their 
movement upon Aliens tein. 

The Emperor's view was that the main army 
of the enemy, before which Bernadotte had retired, 
would now be turning back and would seek to 
place itself in safety by retiring through AUenstein 
or Guttstadt. In that event the Alhes were bound 
to run right into his arms. He had in mi ad, 
however, the alternative possibility that they would 
throw themselves upon Thorn, as ten years before 
Wurmser had thrown himself into Mantua, and 
he warned Marshal Lefebvre. Of Bernadotte there 
was no news whatever, impatiently as Napoleon 
expected it. Indeed, even in the other corps r.he 
circulation of orders and reports was far from being 
as rapid as it had been in previous campaigns, 
and in consequence Napoleon adopted an ex- 
pedient which the Germans afterwards emplo^^ed 
with success in 1870-1, viz., that of detaching 
officers of his own staff to the various commands 
to send in information with the least possible 
delay. For his notions of the enemy's position 
he was thrown back upon hypotheses and calcula- 


tions of probabilities derived from an appreciation 
of the conditions. Thus the war moved freely in its 
native atmosphere of uncertainty, and the Emperor's 
decisions are in consequence doubly instructive. 

On the 2nd of February we see both armies 
moving towards Jonkendorf, the Russians from 
the north and north-west, the French from the 
south and south-east, without either knowing 
much about the other's doings. In these con- 
ditions fighting alone as a rule dissipates the mist. 
And so it was in this case. Murat and Soult en- 
countered the Russian rearguard under Dolgoruki 
and Barclay at Allenstein and attacked it. The 
deep-cut, romantic valley of the Alle gave the 
defender the opportunity for a stout resistance. 
The French marshals cautiously held their hand, 
for they estimated their opponents at 25,000 and 
had at present no strong support behind them. 
Fighting went on until nightfall, and then the 
Russians, whose strength had been about one-half of 
that attributed to them by the other side, drew off 
to Gottkendorf in the direction of their main body. 
Allenstein was occupied by the French, who pushed 
on cavalry for some distance beyond the place. 

The Emperor's assumption was that Bennigsen 
with the bulk of his forces was at Mohrungen ^ and 

^ " The information that we have succeeded in obtaining is that 
General Bennigsen is at Mohrungen " (P. Grenier, p. 57). 


would move thence on Guttstadt. " Everything 
goes to show that the enemy is seeking to con- 
centrate at Guttstadt. It is impossible to suppose 
that he will allow his left flank to be enveloped." 

It was at once decided to anticipate him ttiere, 
to which end the main portion of the grande 
arm^e was to advance down the right bank, and 
Ney by the left bank of the AUe. It was supposed 
that Bernadotte would arrive by way of Osterode, 
thereby fulfilling the double object of becoming 
available for the decisive battle and of securing 
the communications with Thorn, upon which place 
the Emperor intended henceforward to base him- 
self. " Changer de ligne d^ operation est une opdraMon 
de gSnie,''^ ^ 

Early on the 3rd, Napoleon was at Allenstein 
in person, and the ideas he had formed underwent 
a complete transformation. The Russians were not 
marching in disconnected fractions on Guttstadt, 
but, as he was able to assure himself, in position 
before him near Gottkendorf, between the AUe 
and the OkuU-See. He at once determined to 
attack. But it would be necessary to wait for 
Ney, for with Murat's cavalry and Soult's corps 
alone nothing decisive could be undertaken. As 
soon as Ney should come up he was to form the 

1 Letter to the King of Spain, 22nd September 1808 (P. Grenier, 
Etude sur 1807,^. 5S). 


left flank of the attack, west of AUenstein ; in 
the centre, Murat with his cavalry and one of 
Soult's infantry divisions was to advance through 
the town ; while on the right Soult with his two 
still available divisions was to work away to the 
right by Diwitten and envelop Bennigsen's left. The 
Guard and Augereau were to form the reserve. ^ 

But the Emperor waited in vain for Ney's coming, 
and after no more than a front-to-front cannonade 
in the neighbourhood of Gottkendorf, the Russians 
retired to their main position at Jonkendorf 
(Jonkowo). In the evening the two armies faced 
one another separated only by a deep-cut, bushy- 
banked rivulet, but contented themselves with an 
exchange of cannon-shots. 

Soult meantime had carried out his movement 
through Diwitten, and in his search for a passage 
over the Alio he had encountered the Russians 
at Bergfriede. Bennigsen had early realized the 
danger to his left and the importance of the passage, 
and as early as 14th January, when advancing from 
Seeburg, he had posted there the 14th Division 
under General Count Kamenskoi, with which 
there were three Prussian heavy batteries attached 
to the Russian army and commanded by Major 

The details of the interesting and important 

1 Map No. 12. 


combat which followed, like so much else that 
took place in these days, are unfortunately but 
little known. Four Russian battalions seem to 
have had the special mission of guarding the defile 
and the bridge of the AUe. One was pushed out 
across the 200-yard embankment that traversed 
the marshy river valley at right angles, to oc(;upy 
the village of Bergfriede. The Prussian custom 
that had wrought such evil at Llibeck and at 
Soldau seems to have been in vogue in the Russian 
army also. On the heights of the western bank 
stood the three Prussian batteries whose guns 
commanded the approaches to the bridge, but to 
right and left of them the high ground seems to have 
been entirely unoccupied. 

About 3 p.m. the artillery of Leval's French 
division came into action against the Prussian 
batteries, and began also to sweep the defiles of 
Bergfriede with enfilade fire.^ Then the village 
and the bridge were attacked by infantry wading 
the AUe ^ below Bergfriede, while another column 
went away with the object of seizing the unoccupied 
heights beyond, and thus opening the defile to the 
assailants from the rear. Both attempts failed. 

^ This account is based upon Hopfner, Krieg 1806-7, pt. 2, vcl. iii. 
pp. 199 ff. 

2 Durchwaten. Sir Robert Wilson's narrative puts it rather differ- 
ently: " The AUe was frozen, but impassable on account oi the 
snow that rested on its bed." — Tr. 


The French indeed penetrated Bergfriede, but 
were hurled back by the Prussian artillery fire 
and the stout resistance of the Russian infantry, 
and the turning movement was likewise unsuccessful 
at the outset. A renewed attempt at envelopment 
secured the evacuation of the village, the garrison 
of which was thrown back to the left bank. But 
a sheet of case-shot from the guns of the defence 
prevented the assailants from following up. 

The French, however, came on again in greater 
force, and finally forced their way over the bridge. 
A Russian counter-attack with the bayonet led to 
hand-to-hand fighting on the bridge and the em- 
bankment, in which the French were once more 
repulsed. In the heat of the pursuit a Russian 
company actually forced its way over the bridge, 
only to be repelled in turn. Ultimately the French 
appear to have succeeded in getting possession 
of the hollows on the left bank and by a fresh 
enveloping attack to have dislodged the enemy 
with considerable loss.^ Then night fell, and the 
French found themselves in possession of the 

The Russians indeed assert that this remained in 
their hands, but from what followed it seems more 

^ According to French accounts, the Russians lost 1100 men and 
6 guns. The French admit a loss of 300 dead and wounded only, 
including 26 officers, but this estimate is exceedingly improbable, 
under the circumstances of the fight. 


probable that the French claim is justified. Later, 
Guyot's cavalry brigade of Soult's corps pushed 
on to Guttstadt, where it found and seized Russian 
baggage-trains, magazines, and hospitals. 

If we take a bird's-eye view of the relative 
positions of both armies on the evening of 3rd 
February, we observe a remarkable likeness to the 
situation of the 13th of October 1806 on the Saale. 
In the one case as in the other the defender is 
actually outflanked on his left while expe(;ting 
attack from another quarter than that when(ie it 
really threatens. Put the AUe in place of the 
Saale, substitute for the combat of Bergfi^iede 
Tauentzien's engagement in the Landgrafenbei^g at 
Jena, put Guttstadt in place of Naumburg, and the 
parallel is evident. Just as Brunswick four months 
ago, so now Bennigsen was on the point of losing his 
rearward communications ere the battle had begun. 

The full import of all this is, firstly, that Napoleon 
in each case so directed his advance that the battle, 
if he won it, would necessarily result in overAvh.elm- 
ing disaster to the enemy, and secondly, that he 
managed to attain his objects without halving 
any clear and complete idea of the enemy's position 
or grouping. In the whole mass of conditions 
and circumstances he instinctively derived the 
essentials, and with a prophet's vision foresaw 
things as they would turn out. From so high a 


standpoint and with so comprehensive an outlook, 
his judgment was incorrect only in minor details. 
In each of the two instances, although envelopment 
played the decisive part, his first and principal 
object was to make certain of the victory itself ; 
thus in the present case he took care that Soult 
should allow Davout's approaching corps to come 
entirely into line " without losing anything in 
turning movements." ^ 

Napoleon thought the long-desired battle was 
within his reach, and in the bivouac of Gottkendorf , 
whither he had moved his headquarters, he expanded 
his orders in view of it. Davout was to move by 
Spiegelberg, place himself on Soult's right, and 
take his part in the decisive attack upon the 
Russian left flank. Bernadotte alone would be 
unable to arrive in time. The Emperor had now 
learned that he had fallen back as far as Strasburg, 
and that the order sent to him on 31st January 
had fallen into the enemy's hands. ^ 

But the decisive battle was not to take place 
after all. Bennigsen had let slip the precious 
opportunity of attacking the Emperor in the 
morning, and now, realizing the danger that began 
to threaten him, he evaded it by marching away 
in the night. L'Estocq had not yet rejoined, and 
the appearance of large French forces at Bergfriede 

1 Lettow-Vovbcck, iv. 68. 2 gee p. 205. 


and of Guyot's cavalry at Guttstadt must liave 
made the Russian commander-in-chief anxious as 
to his line of retreat. At Guttstadt as at Nauml)urg 
the mere appearance of the French produced 
exaggerated and alarmist reports. 

In the darkness the Russians drew off north\^^ard 
to Wolfsdorf. Bennigsen's immediate object was 
to recover the Konigsberg road, and for that Gutt- 
stadt would have been a more suitable choice. It 
would seem that it was solicitude for the still absent 
L'Estocq that led him to select Wolfsdorf instead. 

We return now to the Prussian corps at 
Freistadt. On 2nd February it had received from 
Bennigsen the news that Napoleon was on the 
move and was expected to be at Willenberg on 
the 1st of February. According to Scharnhorst's 
report, General L'Estocq would not at first accept 
the idea of an immediate retreat, thinking that the 
enemy's main army was in front of him on the 
Vistula, but it seems that the convincing counsels 
of his adviser soon caused him to change his mind, 
and in fact the corps drew back on the same day 
(2nd February) to Deutsch-Eylau. 

Unfortunately, Scharnhorst had gone to the 
army headquarters and was not on the spot to 
prevent relatively large detachments being once 
more made from the corps. The mixed columns 


of Generals Roquette and Esebeck and the little 
cavalry detachment of Major von Borstell/ in all 
4 battalions, 10 squadrons, and a horse battery, 
were told to advance from the Marienwerder district, 
where they were at the time, to the southward 
first of all, so as to ''screen" L'Estocq's with- 
drawal. Presently this hazardous order was can- 
celled, but the troops were not at the same time 
brought in, being ordered instead to continue to 
cover the Lower Vistula valley and so remaining out- 
side the decisive events of the days that followed. 

On 3rd February (Map No. 12) L'Estocq reached 
the neighbourhood of Osterode, and there he received 
Bennigsen's order to retire on Jonkendorf . In order 
to avoid contact with the enemy, the movement 
was made by a northerly detour, which so far 
deferred his junction with the main army that his 
co-operation in battle on the 4th could no longer 
be thought of. Receiving further information as 
to the commander-in-chief's plans for retreat, 
the Prussians continued to move northward during 
the days following. It is evident, however, that 
L'Estocq did not realize the full extent of the 
danger ; had he done so, he would have made 
more vigorous efforts than he did. 

During the night of the 3rd/ 4th and on the 
4th (Map No. 13) the Russian army marched steadily 
1 Lettow-Vorbeck, iv. 58, 70. 


on by narrow snow-covered ways. The movement 
was very slow, and when morning came on the 4th 
the Russian rearguard had not yet left the aban- 
doned position. Napoleon indeed deployed the 
French forces to attack it, and on their left (Ney) 
there was sharp fighting. But the deception could 
not endure for long. Napoleon's keen vision soon 
discovered that his hopes w ere cheated again and 
that the enemy was escaping him. In doing so, 
Bennigsen was more successful than Brunswick — 
but then the Duke v/ould have arranged his 
" retrograde movement " in several successive 
echelons, whereas Bennigsen drew off with all 
his forces in a single body. 

Not but that there was lamentable confusion 
in the Russian army. If checks on the march 
forced the rearguard to stop, the supports given 
to it were taken from any higher unit that liap- 
pened to be close at hand, and the divisions were 
thoroughly mixed up in consequence. While the 
guns thundered in rear the marching columns 
progressed slowly, now halting, now moving on a 
little. The nature of the East Prussian roads 
in those days will be described later. They un- 
doubtedly contributed a great deal to the difficulty 
of the movement. It is indeed wonderful that 
dissolution was not complete. But the Russian 
soldier of a hundred years ago displayed just the 


same traditional stoicism and capacity for passive 
endurance as the Russian soldier of to-day showed 
in the retreats of the Manchurian War. 

On the morning after, the rearguard reached 
and rested awhile at Warlack, near Wolfsdorf. 
At this place Bennigsen and the main body had 
stayed on the 4th, but learning that the French were 
working round their left flank from Guttstadt, 
they had moved back again in the night, although 
the pressure in front was not very severe and the 
fighting on this day had only been slight. 

The French too were tired. Napoleon reached 
Schlitt with the main body of his army on the 4th, 
Soult alone somewhat farther out towards Ankendorf. 

The Prussian corps had not advanced far either 
(having in part missed the road assigned to it), 
and indeed the outpost brigades stood shivering at 
their place of assembly, Alt-Ramten, until 7 p.m. 
before they received orders to march to their posi- 
tions on the Upper Passarge. The main body and 
the reserve reached their appointed destinations, 
Mohrungen and Seubersdorf, very late, portions 
of them indeed during the night. A rearguard 
remained out to the south of Mohrungen. But 
more serious was the fact that the crossing of the 
Passarge at Deppen — which the reserve was to have 
occupied, pushing its outposts over to the right 
bank — was already in the hands of the French. 


When the newspapers to-day report a steeple- 
chase by our officers, when a troop in pink gallops 
across the fields, following the swift hounds over 
fence, hedge, and ditch, we often hear unpleasant 
remarks about this aristocratic form of sport. 
And when a bad fall puts an end to some 
young life, bitter is the outcry against youth's 
bravado. People are only too ready to overlook 
the supreme value which these equestrian feats 
possess for war purposes and the splendid results 
they may produce in the hour of need. A good 
officer may often, by a rapid and dangerous ride, 
save many more lives in war than are sacrificed over 
a period of many years to this exhilarating spc-rt. 
It is the indispensable preparation for efficiency in 

During the campaign on the Loire, when Prince 
Frederick Charles had to send a most urgent message 
to the 6th Cavalry Division, which was far ahead to 
the southward, one of his orderly officers (Count 
Hermann von Arnim-Boitzenburg) accomplished the 
ride from Orleans to Vierzon and back, a distaiice 
of no less than 103 miles, in a single day. Now 
here, on the 4th of February 1807, the distance 
that separated Thyrau, L'Estocq's last headquarters, 
from the place of assembly of the outpost brigades 
at Alt-Ramten was only one-sixth as great, viz. 
17 miles, and yet the bearer of the orders was on 


the way from the evening of the 3rd, or at any 
rate the night of the 3rd/4th, until 7 p.m. on the 
4th. The grave consequences that this belated- 
ness might have, quite apart from the hardships 
it imposed on the troops, was presently demonstrated 
by one of the saddest episodes of the campaign, 
the disaster to the outpost brigades at Waltersdorf 
on the 5th. Had these reached the Passarge earlier, 
while it was yet daylight, they would have neces- 
sarily suspected something of the danger that 
threatened them and would have moved off earlier 
next morning. 

It is possible that the galloper was detained 
by the badness and obscurity of the tracks and 
by the snow, but what is certain is that he w^ould 
have been able to do more had he been assisted 
by previous trainizig and urged on by the know- 
ledge of the importance of his mission.^ Let no 
one imagine that such feats as the Orleans — Vierzon 
ride, when need suddenly demands them, can be 
accomplished without long and serious training. 
Success, and least of all a success of this sort, is 
not to be obtained by an extempore effort. Ex- 
perience, which alone demonstrates its possibility, 
is indispensable for its achievement. Without the 

^ Nothing is known as to whether he met with an accident. In war 
such important messages should always be conveyed in duplicate by 
two officers. 


firm conviction that his task is feasible, any man 
must fail, for he begins by losing heart. The body 
and the soul moreover must be steeled to meet 
such an extraordinary strain, and this steeling is 
the product of practice, and practice only. 

There was indeed no lack in those days of men 
who showed themselves stout horsemen and would 
face a difficult ride over obstacles without fear. 
Of the officers of the Gensdarmes Regiment a French 
ambassador reported that they were the most 
daring riders in the world. What was lacking 
was well-considered, systematic training and trial, 
and also exercises deliberately planned with the 
object of intensifying the sense of responsibility 
in such missions, and of branding a merely 
moderate achievement as a grave default. 

May the habit of rapid long-distance riding, 
that we have now acquired, never die out, but 
become more and more settled as years go by ; 
for, all modern inventions notwithstanding, we can 
never dispense with horsemen who can cover 
90 miles and more between morning and evening. 
A good man in the saddle is now and always the 
surest means of communication between commander 
and troops in the field. 

On the morning of 5th February, just at the 
moment when L'Estocq at Mohrungen heard of the 
delay to his outpost brigades, there came word 


that Bennigsen was continuing his retreat in the 
general direction of Landsberg. The Prussian 
corps was requested to follow the movement of the 
Russian right wing, keeping at a distance of only 
2 miles, and moving in the general direction 
of Mehlsack — Zinten. What then ? Between the 
Russians and the Prussians on the Passarge stood 
the French. 

Moreover, having in mind the great initial dis- 
tances to be covered. General L'Estocq had put 
back the hour of assembly for the march of the 
5th. The situation was doubly serious, therefore, 
and yet it would not have been wise at this stage 
to issue fresh orders, as these would only have led 
to additional confusion. It would indeed have 
been feasible to draw the main body and the reserve 
closer together about Waltersdorf , where they could 
have v/aited for the incoming of the outpost 
brigades without the French being given an oppor- 
tunity to crush any fraction of the army. But 
this wait would have once more prejudiced its 
junction with the Russians. 

The most exposed fraction was naturally the 
outpost brigades which were on the left bank of 
the Passarge, at least 6 miles south of the Deppen 
crossing, already occupied by the enemy. Nothing 
was done to enable them to extricate themselves ; 
cavalry from the main body was indeed ordered 


to watch or to occupy the passages of the Passarge 
immediately below this point, but that was of no 
help to the troops threatened. It was at Deppen 
itself that they were in danger of being cut off, nnd 
unhappily the danger was soon to become fact. 

While the main body and the reserve marched 
away to Liebstadt — where there were already French 
cavalry to be driven out — the weak outpost brigades 
were coming up from the south. It was noon wJien 
they approached Waltersdorf, and they found 
their way already barred. Napoleon at Schlitt had 
received information that a hostile column y/as 
approaching on the left bank of the Passarge and had 
rightly guessed it to be the Prussians. Marshal 
Ney was at once ordered to advance with his corps 
and the dragoon brigade of Lasalle, by Dep])en 
on Liebstadt, in order to separate them from 
the Russians. While marching on Liebstadt the 
Marshal found himself suddenly attacked on his Left 
flank. His assailants were the two Prussian outpost 
brigades of Billow and Maltzahn and their suppoi^ts, 
which were coming in by way of Bergling to the 
rendezvous at Waltersdorf. The force consisted in 
all of 5 J battalions, 10 squadrons, and a horse 
artillery battery under the grey-haired General 
von Kliichzner. It speaks well for the troops 
that they attacked the enemy unhesitatingly, — such 
is the conduct of all brave troops when they find 


their way to a rendezvous barred, — but the outcome 
was grievous. 

Marshal Ney, leaving Lasalle's cavalry still facing 
Liebstadt, turned back, and his great superiority of 
force soon told upon the few thousand Prussians, 
who were driven back south-westward on Reichau. 
They attempted there to effect their junction with 
the main body by a detour round the south end of 
the Nariensee. But by ill-fortune the village street 
of Willenau, which they had to traverse in doing so, 
was found to be blocked up with baggage. They 
did their best, indeed, to extricate themselves by 
working on slantwise through gardens and court- 
yards, but meantime the pursuers had received the 
valuable reinforcement of Klein's cavalry division, 
which overtook the retreating troops and took 
many prisoners, the battery included. The pursuit 
continued almost to Mohrungen. The losses were 
heavy, and they fell upon the best troops ; ^ but even 
more serious was the fact that this column too, one- 
third of what was left of L'Estocq's corps, was now 
driven off, and could take no part in the coming 
decision. The wreck of the outpost brigades, in 
fact, ignorant of General L'Estocq's halt, marched 
away for safety to Preussisch-HoUand, whence they 

^ Thirty-five officers, 1098 men, including 33 officers and 856 men 
prisoners. The latter were set free by Cossacks at Willenberg on 
the 12th. 


meant to rejoin L'Estocq by a further detour through 

The main body, after a march that, vvearisome 
in itself, was made still slower by the heavy 12- 
pounder batteries, had reached the neighbourhood 
of Wusen and Schlodien, its billeting area extending 
thence half-way to Mehlsack. Anxiously General 
L'Estocq waited at his headquarters at Schlodien 
for the outpost brigades, but no news of them came. 
And yet, if only he had called in the detachments 
of Esebeck and Roquette in good time, these would 
liave met the remnant of the outpost brigades 
and brought it with them, with the result that 5000 
more Prussians would have been available to attack 
on the day of Eylau. 

For the next day's march the ground between 
Langwalde and Packhausen was chosen as the 

Marshal Ney , who had for the moment lost sight of 
L'Estocq's column, believed that at Waltersdorf 
and Liebstadt he had won a considerable victory 
over the whole of the Prussian force and driven it 
westward. He estimated its number at 8000. 

The Russians had effected their night-march 
from Wolfsdorf under the protection of strong rear- 
guards. These, under Generals Baggovut and 
Markov, fell back from Warlack on Wolfsdorf, but 
there for three whole hours offered the most vigorous 


resistance to Murat and Soult, after which the 
retreat continued by Arnsdorf and Freimarkt to 
Drewenz, where Bennigsen called a halt, leaving 
the rearguard at Frauendorf . An attempt of Murat 
to outflank and isolate the latter by a movement 
by Open was checked by a brilliant attack of the 
Russian cavalry. 

Napoleon had soon seen that his opponent 
had given up the idea of retreating by Guttstadt 
and was falling back northward by Arnsdorf. 
The advanced guard of the grande armee was 
sent in that direction. On the right, Davout 
approaching from Wartenburg was directed on 
and beyond Guttstadt, in readiness at any time 
to outflank the Russian left. Augereau and the 
Guard followed directly. Ney,i after his expedition 
on the left bank of the Passarge, was ordered, if the 
Prussians tried to effect their junction with Ben- 
nigsen by going still farther northward, to close in 
to the army again, for the Emperor desired to have 
all his forces in hand for his blow against the enemy's 
main body. He himself Avent to Arnsdorf. The 
cavalry brigade of Marulaz pushed on to the right 
front and actually reached Heilsberg, but v/as driven 
out again by a Russian flank-guard. 

^ Ney had, as we know, received at Sclilitt the Emperor's order 
to drive away the Prussians who were moving on the left of the 
Passarge (p. 226). 


Bennigsen, in spite of the fact that it was not 
now possible for him to be overtaken on the Konigs- 
berg road, for the third time decided, on the evening 
of 5th February, at Drewenz,tomake a night-march to 
Landsberg. Thus it befell that on the 6th of Februa.ry 
the French once more found the birds flown. It was 
said that the Russians were concentrating at Lands- 
berg, and the order went forth to all the corps of the 
grande armee to march on that point, Davout alone 
keeping away towards Heilsberg (Map No. 14a). 

Then came Ney's report of the fight at Walters- 
dorf, and opportunity beckoned to the Emperor to 
destroy utterly the last remnant of Prussia's military 
power. Marshal Ney was ordered to press the 
Prussians farther still, and drive them into 
Bernadotte's arms.^ 

For the first time Napoleon gave expression to 
his disso.tisfaction at the paucity of news sent in by 
the latter. He assumed him to be advancing on 
Osterode, and told him " to manoeuvre so as to 
complete the ruin of the Prussians and to make 
them prisoners." 

Thus two whole corps of the grande armee were 
told off at the same moment to hunt down this 

^ " Napoleon, receiving from Ney a report to the effect that lie 
had not completely crushed L'Estocq's column, ordered him to 
finish off the Prussians, by moving on AVorraditt to cut off th(?ir 
retreat while Bernadotte took them in rear" (P. Grenier, Etude 
sur 1807, p. 02). 


small Prussian force. On many occasions during 
this campaign we can discern the bitter personal 
hatred that Napoleon bore to Prussia, beaten down 
and almost helpless as she was. Later expressions 
might lead us to suppose that his hatred was based 
on a premonition that the momentarily shattered 
kingdom of Frederick the Great would in the future 
become his bitterest and most dangerous enemy. 
This, however, is not very probable in the 
then conditions. Prussia was, in fact, crushed so 
thoroughly that no one believed in her speedy 
resurrection. It would, however, be an explana- 
tion acceptable both to psychology and to common 
sense to say that the Emperor felt a certain secret 
anger that for the past ten years he had hesitated, 
perhaps actually feared, to make war upon the 
Prussian monarchy. Now that it had been proved 
to be so far weaker than he had imagined, he saw 
his error, and his anger thereat rose until it expressed 
itself in a fierce longing for the total ruin of the foe 
he had once thought so formidable. Humanum est 
odisse qitem laeseris I And in this longing the 
political advantages that he expected from Prussia's 
complete disappearance confirmed him. 

The 6th of February witnessed two more combats. 
Davout advancing down the AUe by both banks had 
to drive the Russians out of Heilsberg by main 
force, and the centre of the grande armee marching 


by the direct road encountered a vigorous resist- 
ance at Hof, south of Landsberg. Bennigsen had 
posted General Barclay there with a rearguard of 
5000 men in order to give the main army a start 
and to prevent it from being entangled in a general 
engagement. Only at nightfall did the French 
succeed in driving back their stubborn opponent on 
Landsberg. 1 

So severe was the fighting at Hof tha^t Napoleon 
seriously thought that there would be a battle at 
Landsberg, and directed the concentration of his 
army towards that place. 

The attempt to drive off the Prussians on the 
6th was unsuccessful. Ney believed them to be 
retreating upon Preussisch-HoUand, in the direc- 
tion of which place the outpost brigades had ^with- 
drawn. Starting late and moving slowiy, he and his 
troops followed the general advance of the army, 
aiming at Wormditt, whence he could either drav/ in 
to take part in a battle against the Russians, or 
hunt down the Prussians should they emerge again. 
Consequently L'Estocq on this day was neither 
pressed nor even disturbed, and, in order to give 
his troops a little relief, made only a short march to 
Engelswalde. The day was more or less a rest-day. 

^ The total loss of the Russians in the fight at Hof (also spelb Hoff 
and Hoofe) are given by Hopfner as not less than 5 guns, 2 colours, 
and about 2000 men. 


Once more, on the morning of the 7th of February, 
Napoleon found his expectations unfulfilled. The 
mass of the Russian army had again used the hours 
of darkness to evade the decision, and this fourth 
night-march had taken Bennigsen back to Preussish- 
Eylau.i The Emperor had to change his disposi- 
tions yet again. Marshal Davout, who was already 
approaching Landsberg with his corps, was placed 
upon the Bartenstein road, as usual with the idea 
of turning the Russians' eastern flank and cutting 
off their communication with their own country. 
The obstinacy with which the Emperor clung to 
this idea is astonishing. On the other wing Ney 
was now directed upon Kreuzburg, and received a 
fresh task, that of barring the Konigsberg road to the 
Russians. The Prussians were to be left to Marshal 
Bernadotte, who was informed that L'Estocq was 
beaten and in retreat.^ The centre of the grande 
armee advanced towards Eylau. 

The retreat of the Russians, carelessly and impro- 
vidently arranged, had, on this day, as previously, 

^ Henceforward the prefix '' Pr." will be omitted. — Tr. 

2 " Napoleon, thinking that L'Estocq, cut off, had doubled back, 
ordered Ney to move on Kreuzburg in readiness to cut off the retreat 
of the Russians on Konigsberg after the battle " (P. Grenier, Etude 
sur 1807, p. 62). The phrase " after the battle " sounds improbable. 
If Napoleon at the moment of giving this order believed that he had 
a battle in front of him he would not have omitted to call in Ney, 
just as he called in Davout, to take part in it. 


been carried out with the usual clumsiness. When 
morning came the rearguard was still at Landsberg, 
and it had to fight incessantly as it drew^ back 
through the wooded and undulating country beyond. 
Not until it reached Eylau did it find a support) to 
fall back upon. There, however, was Bennigsen, 
who had at last resolved to stand firm, to risk the 
battle, and to await the course of events. 

At first, indeed, it had been his intention to fall 
back still farther, to AUenburg, where his com- 
munications with the Niemen and Russia could no 
longer be endangered, and to hand over the defence 
of Konigsberg to the Prussians. Presently, however, 
he changed his mind, and stood fast at Eylau. The 
motives that induced the change it is noAV impossible 
to establish with certainty, but they can be guessed 
fairly accurately from the attendant circumstances. 

The condition of the Russian army on its arrival 
at Eylau must have been extremely alarming. 
Since the retreat from Jonkendorf it had been 
incessantly on the move, having been obHged 
to spend its nights marching and its days in re- 
pulsing the pursuing enemy. There can be but 
few instances in the annals of war of so large an 
army's making four consecutive and uninterrupt<3d 
night-marches. The rearguard would stand freezing 
in the cold snow-covered fields, usually without 
fire or food, until morning, when it was allowi^d 


to follow the retreating column. The means of 
sustenance afforded by the comparatively thinly 
populated country were utterly inadequate for the 
needs of an army traversing it in closely concen- 
trated masses, and the height of distress was reached. 
In addition the troops were greatly fatigued by 
the narrow, winding, snowed-up roads, and the staff 
arrangements were bad. 

We insert at this point, in spite of the fact that 
it has already been published, the thrilling description 
of a Russian officer of German descent who w^ent 
through this campaign. It was written while the 
facts were still fresh in his memory, a rare thing in 
war. To the young officer without war experience 
it presents an unvarnished picture of the state 
of things that may, indeed must, occur in the 
absence of experience in the care of troops ; a 
picture which will haunt his memory and sustain 
him in untiring and unfailing attention to duty, 
should he ever be called upon to take part 
in the higher leading ; one, too, which will con- 
vince him of the value of those fatiguing peace- 
manoeuvres against which very likely he murmurs 
in secret. 

" We have just arrived.^ This is the first 
moment I have had since leaving Jonkendorf in 
which to bring my diary up to date. I am so 

1 At Eylau, 7th February 1807, 2 p.m. 


numbed, mentally and physically, by hunger, cold, 
and exertion, that I hardly have the strength or 
the desire left to write this down. No army 
could suffer more than ours has done in thes(3 few 
days. It is no exaggerated calculation to say that 
for every mile between Jonkendorf and this place 
the army has lost 1000 men who have not come 
within sight of the enemy. And the rearguard ! 
What terrible losses it has suffered in those perpetual 
fights ! The way they go about things is incredible 
and quite irresponsible. Our generals seem to vie 
with one another in a methodical undoing of the 
army. The disorder and confusion passes human 
conception. Bennigsen drives ahead in his carriage 
as usual, and the divisional generals follow their 
commander's example. General sta.ff officers and 
column guides are seldom in their appointed 
places, consequently it often happens that all 
detachments of the army are marched off at the 
same moment and all try to take the same road. 
This results in the last divisions having to stand 
half a day or night in the sun with empty stomachs 
and wet feet. We left many dead and man}^ sick 
men behind us on the road in this way. It takes 
a patient, healthy Russian to stand all this. We 
have survived so far through being constantly 
on the move and by the cold weather, but the 
consequences will be terrible. Often during a 


night-march through a wood or a defile the troops 
would be obliged to go in single file past some 
trifling object which blocked the way, because 
no one gave the order to remove the obstacle. 
What would I not have given to have slept out on 
the snow for a few hours during these marches, 
but even that might not be. We had hardly taken 
20 to 30 paces before the order came : ' Halt ! ' 
Then the weary soldier would sink instinctively to 
the ground, only to get up in a few minutes and do 
as many more paces. This would go on for hours, 
whole nights indeed, until at last we came within 
sight of some broken-down powder- wagon which 
had caused the block. Mounted, dismounted, we 
tried each way in turn ; but it was too cold 
for the one, and we had no strength left for the 

'' The poor soldiers glide about like ghosts. You 
see them asleep on the march with their heads 
resting on their neighbours. I myself arrived half 
asleep and half awake, and the whole retreat seems 
more a dream than reality. 

''The patience which our soldiers display in this 
business is truly commendable, and better than 
any philosophy. To one who has served in other 
armies this sort of thing is doubly grievous, because 
he knows by experience that it could be and ought 
to be different. Is there any precedent for reducing 


an army like ours to such a condition ! In our 
regiment (the Azov), which has not seen the 
enemy and was complete when it marched across 
the frontier, the companies are reduced to 26 or 
30 men apiece. The grenadier battalion scarcely 
musters 300 men, and the other two are even 
weaker. Not all the regiments have lost so many, 
it is true, as they had fewer recruits. Most 
of those that we have left behind are in fact 
recruits and hard bargains. One could almost 
credit Bennigsen with the desire to retreat still 
farther, did the state of the army permit it. As, 
however, it is so weakened and exhausted as 
to render a forced march on these same lines 
practically impossible, he has at last decided 
to do what he ought to have done long ago — to 

''The French advanced guard dogs our army 
mercilessly day and night, and is at this moment 
driving the main body out of Eylau before our 
eyes. We have barely saved our heavy artillery. 
We marched off at Landsberg towards evening, and 
have been the whole night and all to-day on the 
road. The French rested at Landsberg, but they 
will not fail to overhaul us here all the same, because 
their march is better ordered and they know what 
they are driving at. The army is in battle array, 
and to-morrow will be the decisive day. To-night 


will be terrible. It is frantically cold and we have 
no fhre.'' ^ 

We can imagine with what anxiety the commander- 
in-chief must have glanced down the ranks of his 
approaching columns, asking himself, perhaps, 
whether it were still at all possible to continue 
the march, or whether he must accept battle even 
at the risk of defeat. In the critical situations 
of war there always comes a moment when choice 
must be made between two impending catastrophes, 
and it seems preferable to choose possible destruction 
in battle because it is the more honourable solution. 
The day of Eylau teaches afresh that a strong 
resolve, even in such desperate circumstances, 
always contains the germ of a potential change 
for the better. 

' ' Then strike in boldly, never fear, 
For God is with us everywhere ; 
And hopes half-hoped and deeds lialf-done 
Nor Heaven nor Freedom ever won." 

Other factors, too, operated in favour of standing 
fast. Had Bennigsen marched on towards AUen- 

^ Unfortunately Lettow- Vorbeck, who first published this descrip- 
tion, was not allowed to name the author, and after his death all 
efforts to trace the writer, whose remarkable powers of observation 
excited hopes of the existence of many other contributions of equal 
value to the history of the war, remained unsuccessful. (See 
Hildebrand, Die Schlacht bei Preussisch-Eylau, p. 5.) It is hoped 
that the publication of this may perhaps even now be instrumental 
in bringing the precious manuscript to light. 


burg, all chance of drawing in L'Estocq would 
ipso facto have been forfeited. This eventuality he 
undoubtedly regarded as a very serious one, for 
before it lost its detachments the Prussian corps 
had been 25 1 battalions, 55 squadrons, and 8 batteries 
strong, and Bennigsen could not at the time have 
known how large were the gaps made by the pen- 
chant of the higher leading for dispersion. Moreover, 
Konigsberg, the second capital of Prussia, an 
important town of 50,000 inhabitants even then, 
and the largest in the kingdom after Berlin and 
Breslau, ^ the only city in the theatre of war whose 
resources could be of real use to an army, would 
almost certainly be lost. It is true that it possessed 
a bastioned enceinte, but this was a mere earth 
rampart, and the perimeter was almost as great 
as to-day, and this made defence difficult. Losing 
this town meant losing at the same time all con- 
nexion with the sea, a situation which was bound to 
make a most unfavourable impression politically. 
In fact, the campaign begun with such high hopes 
in the middle of January would have ended, without 
a decisive blow having been struck, in a tame and 
pitiful conclusion. 

Tactical considerations also urged the acceptance 
of battle. The country that the army had tra\ ersed 

^ The garrison is not included. Warsaw is left out, as it only 
belonged to Prussia for a few years. 


after leaving Landsberg was undulating and wooded, 
and its hills were of some elevation, the ensemble 
therefore presenting little opportunity for the 
movement and deployment of large masses of 
troops. At Eylau the ground was more open and 
offered a better field of view than any yet met 
with in the whole march. To the north-east of 
the little town were low hills with gentle slopes. 
Lakes, water-meadows, and marshes were frozen 
hard and thus made passable. All this was in 
favour of the Russian mass-tactics, and Bennigsen's 
resolve to accept battle cannot but be approved. 

There is, lastly, one more point that must not 
be overlooked, as it is of importance for the under- 
standing of the battle. There is an idea generally 
prevalent that Eylau was then the point at which 
the great army routes to Konigsberg on the one hand, 
to Friedland — AUenburg — Wehlau — river Niemen on 
the other, separated, and that it was necessary 
at this point to make a definite choice of direction. 
Although this idea is suggested by the lie of the 
road-network and the position of the chauss^es 
as they are to-day, it dominated the earlier historians 
as well. Lettow-Vorbeck ^ speaks of the Russian 
army's covering the routes leading to their own 
country, while L'Estocq's Prussian corps, called 
in to the right flank, was to cover the Konigsberg 

1 Op. cit. iv. 100. 


road. Hopfner remarks that Eylau was the extreme 
point at which it was undoubtedly open to Ben- 
nigsen to choose whether, in case of further re- 
treat, he would give up Konigsberg or his shortest 
communication with Russia, adding that '' The 
strategic position of Eylau quite as much as the 
suitability of the ground decided the Russian 
general in favour of accepting battle there." ^ Even 
modern plans of the battle conform to the general 
idea. Nevertheless, it is quite erroneous. In those 
days the great army route from Warsaw to 
Konigsberg passed not by E3dau, but from Barten- 
steinby the Rohrmiihle, Melohnkeim, Lampasch, and 
Romitten to Miihlhausen, leaving Eylau well on 
its left.^ At Lampasch the other great highway 
branches off to Domnau — Friedland — AUenburg. 

The road from Landsberg by Eylau and Schmo- 
ditten to Miihlhausen, in the general line of which 
the modern chaussee lies, was then only a narrow 
connecting lane between village and village, and was 
enclosed by a double row of trees. On account 

1 Op. cit. iii. 220. 

^ In Lettow's plan the old military road can be traced at the 
Kohrmiihle south of Melohnkeim, at Lampasch farther up, and 
again north of that. The representation of the road Landsberg — 
Eylau, Schmoditten — Konigsberg is based, in this battle-plan also, 
on the old idea ; for the road is shown as a wide post-road or high way, 
which is certainly not in keeping with its character at that period. 
The standard reference map in dealing with the network of ro.xd is 
Schrotter's of 1804, the best topographical map of East Prussia 
at the time, and that which in all probability the generals used. 


of the so-called '^statutory-labour," or corvde, which 
they were obliged to perform for the nobility, 
the East Prussian peasantry of those days took 
care to have very small and light carts, and the 
roads were correspondingly narrow. An overturned 
vehicle, a fallen horse, an obstacle of any kind 
whatever, however trifling, could cause a prolonged 
stoppage of the kind that our Russian eye-witness 
so graphically describes. A gun on the ground 
could absolutely prevent movement until some 
trees had been cut down on one side or the other 
to make room. It was a very easy matter for the 
side that had the highway at its disposal to overtake 
its opponents who were toiling through the country 
lanes. The lane, or rather successive lanes from 
Landsberg, by Eylau, at last joined the Warsaw — 
Konigsberg highway at Miilhausen. 

This fact, which is also of some importance 
in connexion with the course of the battle,^ puts 
a new complexion upon Bennigsen's resolution 
to stand fast at Eylau. There, as he actually 
stood, he had still the free choice of the line of 
retreat. The village of Lampasch, near which the 
two main routes diverged, lay well behind the 

^ So far as I am aware, the credit of having called attention to the 
contrast between the old and the new positions of the highways is 
due to Pfarrer Dr. J. Hildebrand of Schmoditten, who has made 
careful researches and written a short essay on the subject. (See 
his Schlacht hei Pr. Eylau am 7. und 8. Fehruar, p. 21.) 


centre of his position and was thus completely 
protected. On the assumption that Eylau was, 
what it was not, the actual parting of the ways, 
it would be quite proper to blame Bennigsen, as 
he has been blamed, for having already passed the 
decisive point, which lay in front of his line and had 
to be given up at the very outset of the battle. 
Had this been the case, one of his reasons for 
standing fast would have been baseless, and the 
halt by so much less justifiable than it really was. 

On the 7th of February, as on the other days, the 
Russiaji rearguard (under Prince Bagration) had 
frequently to halt in order to repel Murat's insistent 
cavalry, for the army was marching in a single long 
column and still made very slow progress. During 
the day the Prince sent back to army headquarters 
to ask for a support of cavalry. Bennigsen con- 
sented, and at once five cavalry regiments that 
had not yet moved into the battle position, as well 
as some infantry, turned to the front and moved 
forward, meeting the rearguard near Griinhofchen. 
Finally, as time was still needed to enable the raain 
column to traverse Eylau and form up in the 
assigned order of battle beyond, Bagration had 
once more to halt and to make a prolonged stand 
quite close to Eylau itself, his actual position being 
on the low hills between the Tenknitter See and. the 


Waschkeiter See, where besides the lakes there was 
also a peat-bog (Torf-Bruch). 

It was 2 p.m. when the French from Landsberg 
appeared before this advanced position at Griin- 
hofchen. Their condition, too, was pitiable, as we 
can tell from the evidence of a first-rate witness, 
Baron Percy, surgeon-in-chief of the grande armee, 
who had followed Napoleon through Passenheim 
and AUenstein. " The fire and the smoke of the 
bivouac," he tells us, " made the soldier dry, brown, 
unrecognizable. His eyes are bloodshot and 
his clothes filthy and burnt. He is shrunken, 
piteous, half -dreaming. Often he startles one with 
the curses and imprecations that despair and im- 
patience wring from him." ^ 

One advantage the French certainly had : they were 
superior to their opponents in the art of living on 
the country. Percy expresses his astonishment at the 
number of the heads and skins of slaughtered animals 
that he met with, and he calculates that every soldier 
must have consumed 4 lb. of meat daily. On the 
other hand, bread was entirely wanting. 

" Never was there such a spectacle of desolation 
as that which the poor little town of Passenheim 
presented. In the streets everything is wrecked and 
thrown aside. Never has there been such a riot of 
vandalism." The roads were covered with the 
^ E. Longin, Journal des Campagnes du Baron Percys 151 ff. 


corpses of men and horses . Innumerable f ragmenis of 
equipment and broken fittings of wagons lay ev(3ry- 
where around. The frost made itself bitterly i'elt. 
" What a climate, what cold, what a country ! " 
Thick woods were traversed in which ordinaril}/' an 
efficient guide would have been essential, but now 
an endless chain of stragglers and broken-down 
vehicles marked the path of the army's march. 
The farther north, the worse became the state of 
affairs. The battlefield of Hof made a frightful 
impression. " Never have so many corpses lain 
on so small a space " ; everywhere the white fields 
were flecked with blood, though the falling snow 
was beginning to cover up the bodies. Especially 
thick lay the dead where a little group of pines had 
afforded a point of support for the defenders. The 
top of one hill revealed a dreadful sight, a hundred 
corpses lying in groups. Horses, still living but 
utterly exhausted, stood on the track, soon to sink 
from hunger on the hill of the dead. No sooner 
was one field of battle traversed than another ca^me 
in sight. 

What must have been the aspect of the troops, 
particularly of the mounted troops in these con- 
ditions, may easily be imagined. The horses were 
for the most part mere skeletons, which dragged 
along under their riders at a walk, but were quite 
incapable of trotting. 


Even on the Emperor himself the winter cam- 
paign in Poland and the Eylau campaign had a 
peculiarly lasting impression, and even after both 
were well over, in March 1807, he complained in- 
dignantly that his officers had never had their 
clothes off for two months and that he himself had 
not been able to take off his boots for fourteen days. 
" In snow and mud, without wine and spirits, with- 
out bread, wo lived on potatoes and meat, made 
long marches and counter-marches without the 
simplest comforts." 


(7th-8th February 1807) 

Such were the circumstances in which was fought 
the two days' battle of Eylau. Although the 
campaign was one of the most important and most 
sanguinary in the records of the nineteenth century, 
yet the information that we possess about^ its 
course is so self-contradictory that it is not possible 
to-day to give an accurate reconstruction of a good 
many of its details. Conformably to its purpose, 
the present work deals with the conflict of the 
French and the Russians in its broad outlines only, 
and with the doings of the Prussian corps, and its in- 
tervention at the decisive moment, in greater detail. 
Prince Bagration had posted the strong rear- 
guard under his command on the not inconsider- 
able hills which lie south-west of the Torf-Bruch 
and close to the Tenknitter See. A Jager regiment 
in skirmishing order covered the front. Behind 



the Torf-Bruch, on a front extending from the 
Langer See, near the north end of the Waschkeiter 
See, to the quasi-suburb of Eylau called Freiheit, 
was deployed the Russian 8th Division with strong 
bodies of cavalry on each flank. 

Against this position the French advanced 
guard from Griinhofchen came on very vigorously. 
At first it was repulsed, and Russian cavalry crossing 
the hard-frozen surface of the Tenknitter See flung 
themselves upon the left flank of the attack, broke 
up an infantry regiment engaged in it, and captured 
an eagle. Then, however, the attack was renewed 
and both flanks threatened with envelopment, in 
which Augereau's corps apparently took part as 
well as Soult's. For a time the Russians resisted 
this attack too, but presently by Bennigsen's orders 
they fell back to Eylau, Barclay holding the town 
itself to cover their withdrawal. The rearguard was 
then broken up, part of it being sent to the right 
flank, part to Serpallen on the left of the main 

The first act of the drama, stern and bloody, was 
over, and now there began the second — the fight for 
the town. 

This, it seems, took place contrary to Napoleon's 
intentions. To Augereau, when that marshal joined 
him on the field, he said, ''It has been proposed to me 
to carry Eylau this evening, but in the first place I 


am no friend of night-attacks, and in the secjond 
place I do not want to drive my centre too much 
until Davout and Ney, my right and left wings, have 
come in. I mean therefore to wait on this plateau, 
which, crowned with guns, affords an excellent 
position for the infantry. Then when Ney and 
Davout have come into line, we will all advance 
upon the enemy together." ^ 

If this report be just, it is at the same time valuable 
as showing that Ney was meant to act against the 
Russians and not against the Prussians. 

The Russians had not had time thoroughly to 
organize and prepare the defence of Eylau. On 
the extreme right, near the bailiff's house — a gi'oup 
of strong old buildings where the road to the suburb 
Freiheit emerges — there seems to have been no more 
than a cavalry detachment. It was there that the 
French first effected an entrance, and thence, in the 
face of an obstinate resistance, they forced their way 
into the street that leads to the market-place. At 
the same time the assailants gradually pressed in by 
the road from Landsberg and the Landsberg-Strasse 
within the town. 

At the other, or south-east end of Eylau there 
stands on a hill a church which in 1807 was sur- 
rounded by solid walls. Against this the French 

^ Schlichtling, TaJctische und Strategische Grundsdtze der Gegen- 
ivart, pt. iii. 7. 


formed up their columns of attack on the north part 
of the Langer See, and it was carried after heavy 
fighting at about 5 p.m. But in and around Eylau 
market-place the Russians offered a stern resist- 
ance. The fighting grew more and more murderous. 
Cannon engaged cannon with a street's width 
between/ or drove through narrow streets over the 
bodies of dead and wounded men. Little by little 
the French, more experienced house-fighters as they 
were, made their advantage felt. The Russian 
losses mounted up. General Barclay's right hand 
was shattered, many of the higher leaders were 
killed or wounded, and Prince Bagration (who was 
still in command) began to evacuate Eylau. 

At this moment Bennigsen suddenly appeared at 
the exit of the town with the Russian 4th Division, 
which he had brought up in three columns from the 
reserve of the main line. This was launched to the 
attack, and by 6 p.m. Eylau was once more in 
the hands of the Russians. But half an hour later it 
was deliberately evacuated by Bennigsen' s express 
orders. This almost unaccountable decision Ben- 
nigsen himself, in his Memoirs, explains ^ by saying 

^ A French gun at the upper end of the Landsberg-Strasse where it 
enters the market-place fought a Russian gun that was placed in a 
gateway to its right front. Here the inn " Zum Deutschen Hause " 
now stands. The distance from muzzle to muzzle was little more 
than 50 paces. 

2 Hopfner, Krieg 1806-7, iii. 225. 


that he had wished to attract the French to^^^ards 
the strongest part of the position, which was that 
lying behind the town. This explanation, it need 
hardly be said, will not bear investigation, and in all 
probability Bennigsen's order was the outcome o:E one 
of those sudden impulses that so often storm into 
the heart of a commander in a fierce fight such as 
this, and which defy analysis. 

The French moreover, for their part, assert that 
they re-captured Eylau. Be this as it may, the 
town was certainly in their hands during the night. 
The Emperor established his headquarters in a 
merchant's house in the Landsberg-Strasse — a fine 
and at that time a comfortably furnished house, 
but now vulgarized by alterations and improve- 
ments — which was able to accommodate the secre- 
taries and the general staff as well. Next morning, 
as was ever his habit, he rose very early to re- 
connoitre the enemy's lines. 

On the 8th of February 1807, a Sunday, dawned 
the real day of battle. 

Of the grande arm^e the following units were in 
position or immediately at hand : Murat with his 
four four-regiment cavalry divisions (Milhaud, 
Klein, Hautpoul, and Grouchy) of the reserve ; 
Soult's corps ; Augereau's corps ; the Guard. 
Marshal Davout was to have advanced along the 


Bartenstein road to within four miles from Eylau.^ 
Communication between this corps and the main 
army had been opened on the evening of the 7th, 
an officer from the Major-General having appeared 
at Perscheln to exchange news with Davout's divi- 
sional commander, Morand.^ On the other flank 
Ney, heading for Kreuzburg, had reached Orschen 
and Eichen. Thus only Bernadotte and his 15,000 
men ^ were so far absent that it was impossible to 
bring them in. Uncertain as to the Emperor's in- 
tentions,^ he had stood fast at Strasburg until 4th 
February, and he only began his advance next day, 
reaching Lobau on the 5th and Osterode on the 6th, 
and thence following the track of the main army 
towards Landsberg. Nothing therefore was to be 
expected of him in the way of co-operation for some 
days to come. 

The deployment of the French army for battle 
is indicated on the plan herewith.^ The front ran 
along the Bartenstein track to Eylau and thence 
leftward on a line whose prolongation would fall 
just clear of the south-east corner of Althof. On 
the extreme right flank near Zehsen was Milhaud's 

^ " Une lieue et demie," Operations du IIP Corps, p. 158. 

^ Hildebrand, op. cit. p. 18. 

^ The cavalry divisions of Klein and Hautpoul which had originally 
been with Bernadotte had returned to the main army as early as 
4th February. 

4 See p. 216. ^ Map No. 15. 


cavalry division, next on Milhaud's left in front of 
Rothenen was Saint Hilaire's division of Soult's corps, 
from which Augereau's corps continued the line to 
near Eylau church. In rear were the three cavalry 
divisions of Klein, Hautpoul, and Grouchy, the last 
named on the ice of the Langer See. In reserve, 
under cover of the west slope of the churchyard hill, 
stood the Guard, with its cavalry, like Grouchy'^, on 
the Langer See. In Eylau itself and to the left of it, 
near the Schneidemiihle, was Soult with his two re- 
maining divisions, whose line was prolonged leftwards 
over the open ground between Freiheit and the Walk- 
miihle, by the cavalry brigades of Durosnel, Guyot, 
and Colbert, detached respectively from the VII, 
IV, and VI Corps and placed there. In advance of 
the front, along the Bartenstein track, and on the 
churchyard hill and at the Schneidemiihle, north of 
Eylau, stood long lines of guns, the most important 
of these being that on the heights, where now stands 
the memorial commemorating the battle. 

The Russians had brought together all their 
divisions for the battle (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 
8th, and 14th). Their method of marching in 
densely concentrated masses had at any rate 
this advantage to set against the sufferings that it 
had brought upon the troops, that (apart from t)he 
Prussian corps) not one of the larger units was 
missing on the day of battle. But, on the 


other hand, the divisions were much mixed up. 
We have already seen how during the fighting 
of the 7th, the rearguard was reinforced by the 
units that happened to be at hand at the moment, 
irrespective of the higher organizations to which 
they belonged. Bennigsen had formed his light 
troops into special detachments under Bagovut 
and Barclay. In the line of battle itself the 
divisions were absolutely indistinguishable, for 
the army was formed after the old fashion, in single 
phalanx of several lines. The right wing, very 
strong in cavalry, had on tlie 7th extended as far 
as Schloditten ; on the 8th, however, it reached no 
farther than the Walkmiihle, as Bennigsen withdrew 
troops from the front to the reserve and adopted 
a shorter line. The first line extended from the 
Walkmiihle, bending back a little towards Klein- 
Sausgarten, along the low ridge which terminates 
in the so-called Kreege-Berg. The regiments 
had each tvv^o battalions deployed in line, and the 
third in column at a short distance behind. A 
second line was also formed. The left flank like 
the right was secured by large forces of cavalry. 
The 4th, 7th, and 14th Divisions were drawn up in 
masses in support, and with the rest of the available 
cavalry and a large force of artillery formed the 
reserve. Numerous guns were distributed along 
the front for its better protection, including three 


considerable masses — one of 40 position guns 
and 20 light guns ^ on the right wing, a se(}ond 
of 70 position guns in front of the centre, and the 
third of 40 guns in front of the left. An independent 
advanced echelon was formed on the left by the 
light troops at Serpallen, on this day commanded 
by Bagovut alone. 

A glance at the battle-plan tells us that it was 
here that the weak point in the position lay, for 
this extreme left wing in its advanced situation 
presented its flank full in the direction of Bartens bein, 
whence it was to be expected that Davout's corps 
would come. It should have been placed as a 
rearward echelon at Klein-Sausgarten, or better 
still at Melohnkeim, when it would have form<3d a 
strong reserve to prevent the envelopment and 
rolling up of the army. Such might well ]iave 
been the role of Scdmoratzki's absent division, 
which here on the battlefield would have played 
an important and decisive part, instead of uselessly 
remaining behind to support Essen's far distant 
corps. 2 

The accounts that are given of the strength of 
the respective armies are unsatisfactory. They 
are based upon calculations which in their turn 

^ In this line of guns there were also the three Prussian batteries 
of Major Huguenin, to which was added later a fourth under Major 

-Seep. 167. 


rest upon figures which are known for the days 
before or the days after the battle ; some of these 
are very doubtful. But we shall not be far wrong 
if we assume that the two sides were approximately 
equal — 70,000 to 75,000, including the respective 
commands of Ney and L'Estocq which came up on 
the evening of the 8th. ^ 

Ten or twelve hundred yards only parted the 
two opposing hosts. 

The night of the 7th/ 8th February was severe, 
and the temperature fell to 5° and even 1° 

^ Hofpner (iii. 227) puts the combatant strength of the Russians 
at no more than 58,000, to which there were added 5000 Prussians, 
while he gives the French 80,000. Lettow (iv. 101), on the other 
hand, calculates the Allies' strength to have been 82,500, and the 
entire total of the French, including even the regiments ol Ney's 
command which did not arrive until after dark, 75,300 at most. 
His estimate is based, as regards the Russians, on the reports of the 
Prussian General von Chlebowski, who was present with Bennigsen's 
headquarters. These reports give 48,000 as the strength of the 
Russians on the 13th, and 53,000 on the 18th, to which must be added 
the losses at Eylau. This would give the seven Russian divisions 
present an average strength of 12,000, which, when we take into 
account the prolonged marching of December and January and the 
previous rearguard fighting, seems a very high figure. The events 
of the retreat from Jonkendorf in particular tell against it. The 
number of men who died or were left behind therein must have been 
very great. In the calm following the battle many a man reappears 
in the ranks who was previously missing, and as a rule the figures 
mount up rapidly in consequence. The estimate is probably closer 
to the truth as regards the French side, though these too seem to be 
a little high. Berthier says that the Emperor had considerably 
superior forces in front of him, and was only able to assemble at the 
decisive point 54,000 men out of the 300,000 whom he had in 
Germany (Derrecagaix, Le Marechal Berthier, vol. ii. pp. 200, 202). 


Fahrenheit. The French indeed were able to 
find some shelter in Eylau and the adjacent 
villages, consuming their resources without mercy 
and leaving desolation in their wake. Far worse 
was the situation of the Russians on the ])are 
hills north-east of the town. The senseless oirder 
that no fires were to be lighted must of itself have 
made their sufferings worse than the enemy's. 
In such an order as this we recognize once more 
the might of accepted dogmas. It is of course 
important, generally speaking, that one's position 
should not be betrayed to the enemy, but in this 
case it was already known to them and the rule 
did not apply. The Russian 4th Division, with- 
drawing from Eylau after its counter-stroke, was 
obliged to stand fast in the darkness, close to 
Eylau, to prevent the enemy's advancing, and 
contact was never for a moment lost. 

Even if Bennigsen had intended to march a^v^ay 
in the night for the fifth time in succession,numerous 
watch-fires would have aided him rather than the 
reverse. But no purpose whatever was served by 
keeping the poor frozen troops without fires when 
it had been decided to accept battle. That very 
decision made it important to give the troops a good 
night's rest by a warm fire and the best procura^ble 
fare. Many a disaster has resulted from the un- 
reasonable application of an inherited maxim of 


war, and the consequences must not be ignored or 
under-estimated in the present case. It speaks 
volumes for the discipline of the Russian army that 
in spite of their necessity — the necessity that is said 
to know no law — the order was actually obeyed. 
Next morning the hedges and fences (in those days 
numerous) still stood intact to bear witness to their 
self-restraint, and the accounts of those eye- 
witnesses who are said to have seen from Eylau 
church-tower the fires of innumerable Russian 
bivouacs are the product either of untruthfulness 
or of hallucination. 1 

The drama of 8th February was opened in the 
grey of early morning by a heavy fire from the 
Russian guns against Soult's position, and especially 
Eylau town itself, where for a while it caused great 
confusion. The French army rushed to arms and 
moved into its assigned positions. Napoleon 
placed himself at the church. He is said to 
have climbed the wooden stairs ^ that in those 
days led up, on the outside of the north wall, 
to the gallery, which afforded a wide view ; but 
he must have changed now and then to a position 
on one of the flat rises near the Bartenstein 

His guns at once took up the challenge of the 

^ Hildebrand, op. cit. p. 10. 

2 Now replaced by a buttress which has been built on. 


Russians, and a heavy general cannonade occupied 
the morning hours. ^ 

The Emperor, as usual, intended to attack. 
From the events that followed, it is easy to see that 
the strategic envelopment of the Russian left flank 
that he had so persistently sought to bring about, 
was meant to develop during the battle into a t£icti- 
cal envelopment which should sever the Russians 
completely and finally from their communications 
with their own country. He imagined a great left- 
wheel of his whole right wing and centre, with Eylau 
and Soult's corps as the pivot. 

Thus it was that the whole left wing of the French 
battle-line stood at the halt throughout the long 
day of conflict, and that on this side the battle 
turned into what was to all intents and purposes 
mutual observation, with continuous but heavy 
cannonading, varied only by a few more vigorous 
episodes, such as the brief forward dash of a Russian 
Jager regiment out of the line of battle, ^ and a 
Russian cavalry charge, which, however, in the deep 
snow degenerated into a slow walk and was re- 

^ The batteries suffered less in this than the troops that stood 
behind them. In the artillery of the French Guard only two officers 
fell, whereas the Guard infantry standing in reserve behind the 
church hill lost some 400 men. In five artillery regiments, taking 
the casualties of both days together, only 5 officers were killed and 
9 wounded (Hildebrand, op. cit. 12). 

2 This attack was directed against the Walkmiihle, which was held 
by Soult's outposts, and which the Russians captured. 


pulsed by the carbines of the French left wing 
cavalry. Directly afterwards the Cossacks tried to 
outflank the latter, but they too were driven o£E.^ 

The actual effect of all this artillery fire, here, 
there, and everywhere, it is difficult to estimate. 
The thick cloud of smoke that settled down be- 
tween the combatants must have diminished their 
losses. It appears that the Prussian batteries 
distinguished themselves by the accuracy of their 

In the Emperor's projected left - wheel ' the 
decisive part fell to Marshal Davout, who was to 
come in from the Bartenstein road and co-operate 
in the general onslaught upon the Russian left 

The 3rd Corps, on the day of Eylau, consisted 
of the same regiments as on the day of Auerstedt, 
though their numerical strength was very different. 
'' Infinitely reduced by the losses it had suffered 
in this battle (Auerstedt) and by the combats and 
marches that had subsequently taken place," ^ 
the corps now numbered only 15,000 men. In 
the advance from the Heilsberg and Landsberg^ 

^ Six cavalry regiments under General Markov appear to have 
been placed on the extreme right flank of the Russians, between 
the Walkmiihle and Schloditten ; these are not shown on 
(Lettow's) plan. 

2 Operations du I IF Corps, p. 159. 

3 See pp. 230-1. 


district the 2nd Division (General Friant) was 
in front, and on the night of the 7th/8th it was 
encamped between Perguschen and Beisleiden. 
The 1st Division (Morand) was at Zohlen, the 
3rd (Gudin) at Bartenstein.^ The cavalry brigade 
(Marulaz) belonging to the corps, which had ac(;om- 
panied the advanced guard of the grande armee 
in its movement upon Eylau, had returned to 
Davout's headquarters at Beisleiden at nightfall. 

There in the night the Marshal received the 
Emperor's orders to move off before daybreak on 
the 8th of February, to join the army at Eylau and 
attack the Russians' left flank. Accordingly the 
divisions paraded early, and moved off before it was 
light, Marulaz's cavalry brigade in advance, and 
Friant' s division behind it, straight on Serpallen. 
Morand followed through Perguschen, and Gudin 
from Bartenstein was already en route for Eylau at 
3 a.m. Marshal Davout also opened up communica- 
tion with Saint Hilaire's division.^ 

Before daylight Friant encountered Cossacks in 
front of Serpallen, whom he drove away. He then 
formed the division for attack, placing Marulaz's 

^ As Friant certainly arrived very early before Serpallen, his ac- 
count is not improbably correct. Morand's division passed thi'ougli 
Perguschen as early as 6.30 a.m., but Friant was in front of him, and 
pushed directly upon Serpallen. The distance between Perguschen 
and Serpallen is only 2 J miles. 

- Right of the Emperor's line at Eylau. — Tr. 


cavalry to cover his right flank, and moved on the 
village, which was carried at daybreak.^ The re- 
sistance of the Russians was trifling, and Bagovut 
had soon retreated to Klein-Sausgarten. 

The sound of the guns at Serpallen may very 
likely have been inaudible at Eylau. The pheno- 
menon described below in connexion with the entry 
into line of L'Estocq's Prussians ^ shows that the 
roar of battle on this occasion was in general heard 
only at short distances. It may well have been, 
therefore, that the Emperor's ear detected no sound 
of the combat that was already in progress on his 
right wing. But as soon as the snowstorm which 
fell during the battle gave place to clear weather, 
Davout's attack must have been seen. This is the 
simplest explanation of why the Emperor between 

8 and 9 a.m. gave his much criticized order for the 
advance of Augereau's corps and Saint Hilaire's 
division. Neither his growing impatience at 
Davout's absence nor the fact that he had noticed 
a gap in the Russian line and resolved to break 
through it, can be produced as a reason, for neither 
argument will bear examination. The battle was in 

^ Another account says that this took place between 8 and 

9 a.m. The account here followed is that of Davout's report, 
which, although it is only a broad outline, is nevertheless in general 
very plain and lucid {Operations du IIP Corps, Paris, 1896, 
p. 158 ff.). We have also made use in part of the latest Russian 
publications in the Voyeniy Svornik, 

2 See p. 258. 


its first stages and the time to be impatient was not 
yet. It was likewise premature to attempt to 
break through the front, for it is absurd to suppose 
that Napoleon at this precise moment suddenly 
abandoned the working principle which he had 
consistently followed from Willenberg onwards — 
envelopment of the Russian left flank — in order to 
profit by a moment's doubtful opportunity. 

On the contrary, his resolution is in entire 
harmony with the general principles of the conduct 
of a battle. Davout's enveloping attack was just 
opening. But no envelopment is successful unless 
at the same time the enemy is vigorously tackled 
in front. This Napoleon knew better than any 
man before or since. If he did not do so, the 
Russians would be given time to strengthen their 
left flank from the centre, fling back Davout by 
superior numbers, and so deprive the assailant of 
the promise of coming victory. Further evidence 
is afforded by the 58th Bulletin of the grande arm^e, 
which states that Augereau's advance had l)een 
designed to distract the enemy's attention and 
prevent him from turning his full force upon Davout. 
The critic, so far from having cause for amaze- 
ment, can only regard the conclusion as a logical one. 
Those who are unable to see events as one con- 
nected whole may well condemn the assault, pre- 
maturely delivered and bloodily repulsed as it was. 


But success is not always the best criterion of the 
soundness of the original scheme. 

Augereau and Saint Hilaire moved forward. The 
great and oft-told tragedy of Eylau was at hand. 

Saint Hilaire, whose artillery was already engaged 
with that of the Russian left wing, inclined more 
and more towards Davout's battlefield, and his 
division took part in the enveloping attack. 
Augereau aimed full at the Russian centre. Here 
was the harmony between frontal and flank attacks 
that is so rarely realized in execution. 

On the day of Eylau Augereau was ill, and had 
desired to be relieved of the responsibility of leader- 
ship. Nevertheless, at the first cannon-shot he 
appeared amongst the troops conveyed on a sledge, 
and at the last moment he mounted his horse. 
Both his divisions (Heudelet and Desjardins) had 
already suffered sensible losses in their position on 
the Bartenstein road to the left of the churchyard, 
two general officers having fallen there. The order 
to advance was regarded by the troops as a deliver- 
ance. They moved forward in two columns upon 
the enemy's centre. Their artillery was to have 
accompanied them, but did not do so, being, it is 
said, " held up by an obstacle," — probably, however, 
because the horses could drag the guns no farther 
through the deep snow. Instead, it returned to 
the heights above the Bartenstein road. 


Soon, not only these batteries but those of the 
Guard that were in line with them as well had to 
cease fire as their own advancing infantry came 
between the gun-muzzles and the enemy. An icy 
north wind and a dense snowstorm drove full in, the 
faces of the French, so that it was impossible to 
see for a distance of twenty paces. The original 
direction was lost. The regiments on the right 
wing pushed in front of those that were marching 
on their left, and the attacking columns crowded 
together, closer, deeper, more helpless every 
moment. At last, blinded with snow, they stumbled 
upon Russian infantry, which slipping away to the 
right and left cleared the front of the hitherto 
invisible great battery of the Russian centre. 

At this critical moment the snowstorm ceased. 
Dense sheets of case-shot, fired at 80 paces distance, 
swept the approaching French masses. The wings 
of the infantry firing line swung inwards and 
embraced them in a semicircle of fire. The French 
indeed strove to deploy for fire-action, but their 
muskets repeatedly missed fire, for the snow as it 
melted on their clothes had damped the primings. 
More and more deadly became the fire as the Russian 
line of battle took it up to the right and left. In 
spite of all, Augereau's corps broke through the 
line of the defending guns. But its fate was now 
sealed. From its concealment behind the heights 


the Russian cavalry sprang out and flung itself 
upon the now exhausted attackers. The longest 
resistance was that of a square of the 14th Regiment 
of the line on the right flank of the attack, but in 
the end this was completely destroyed by infantry 
fire and case-shot. 

In twenty minutes Augereau's corps had been 
annihilated. As an independent unit it disappeared 
from the army list. The corps commander and 
both the divisional commanders were disabled. 
Mere remnants drifted back to Eylau. 

The snow having ceased, it was in the full view of 
the Emperor and his staff that this awful scene was 
enacted. Napoleon himself was in danger. The 
Russian counter-stroke penetrated almost to the 
churchyard hill, and drew from the Emperor more 
than once the half- wondering, half- angry exclamation, 
'' Quelle audace I " Marshal Bessieres sent for the 
horses, and a cry went up, '' Save the Emperor ! " 
But the assailants came up spent and breathless, and 
the French cavalry hurrying up on the flank, struck 
them in rear and dispersed them. 

Meanwhile, by the Emperor's orders, Murat's 
cavalry with the Horse Grenadiers and the Chasseurs 
a Cheval had filled up the gap in the line of battle 
and advanced to deliver a counter-stroke. The 
infantry of the Guard Napoleon kept firmly in his 
own hands. 


In all 18 cdbvalrj regiments were put in. But 
we must not imagine them as regiments with the full 
ranks and complete organization that we associate 
with our own — for such a force indeed there would 
have been neither deploying nor manoeuvring room. 
The squadrons had shrunk to handfuls, which now 
rode closely locked into the turmoil to rescue the 
broken corps and check the oncoming Russians. A 
series of French cavalry charges followed. But 
these attacks were not of the sort that we are wont 
to see at our army manoeuvres, for the horses w ere 
incapable of such exertions. There can have been 
no question of anything more than a short advance 
at the trot and a feeble gallop. The deep snow, too, 
was an obstacle to movement. The Guard cavalry 
was in a better condition than the rest, and the two 
Guard regiments which figured in this general attack 
took a more effective part.^ Small groups broke 
through the Russian line, and individual survivors 
of these groups regained Eylau by roundabout ways. 
In the end friend and foe fell apart, and the position 
in general remained practically the same as it had 
been at the beginning, except that the French 
seemed to have advanced beyond the line of the 
Bartenstein road. 

^ The French casualty returns show for these two regiments alone 
5 officers killed and 30 officers wounded, while the eight regiments 
of Milhaud's and Hautpoul's divisions together lost only 8 officers 
killed and 33 wounded (Hildebrand, op. cit. p. 17). 


The issue of the day now depended wholly on 
the progress made by Davout and Saint Hilaire. 

An important factor in this was the using-up of the 
Russian reserves. In the chaotic turmoil of conflict 
created by Augereau's advance, Bennigsen had 
put both the 4th and the 7th Divisions into the 
fighting line. The 14th/ too, was no longer in 
hand, having already moved off to strengthen the 
left wing. It had covered the retirement of Bago- 
vut's detachment, and thereafter had established 
itself, along with the latter, between Klein-Sausgarten 
and the Kreege-Berg, in touch with Ostermann's 
2nd Division, which formed the left of the main line. 

The French frontal attack was thus far from 
being a complete failure. The situation indeed 
reminds us of that brought about by the attack of 
the Prussian Guard Corps on the 18th of August 1870 
(Saint Privat). This too is denounced as premature 
— ^by those who forget that it caused the enemy to 
gather there the forces of his right wing and so to 
weaken his defence at Roncourt, which facilitated 
the enveloping movement of the Saxon corps and 
so actually made possible the decision at nightfall. 

After the capture of Serpallen Davout's attack 
developed on a large scale. Friant's division, with 

1 Commanded by Kamenskoi (not, of course, the former com- 
mander-in-chief, but a junior of the name). General Anrepp had 
been killed at the combat of Mohrungen, 25th January. — Tr. 


the corps cavalry brigade (Marulaz) and also 
Milhaud's cavalry division, was on the right, and 
on the left Morand's division, which came up by 
MoUwitten, advanced upon the Klein-Sausgartcm — 
Kreege-Berg line held by Bagovut and Kamenskoi, 
while farther to the left Saint Hilaire's division, 
drawing away from the main army,^ engaged Oster- 
mann and the Russian 2nd Division. 

The conflict that followed was severe and swung 
to and fro. On the extreme right General Friant 
was at first successful in capturing Klein-Sausgarten. 
But he was unable to hold it. The Russians as- 
sumed the offensive in turn, supported by ca\ airy 
in force, and although the counter-stroke waKS re- 
pulsed the advance of the assailants came to a 

On Friant's left (divisions of Morand and Saint 
Hilaire) similar scenes were enacted. Here too the 
Russians repeatedly counter-attacked, but were 
always driven back and in again. Morand's report 
thus describes a general counter-stroke that was 
delivered from the Kreege-Berg : ''It was about 
1 p.m. when the hostile infantry, with which we had 
been engaged for five hours past, came down from 
their hills and threw themselves upon us with the 
bayonet. We rushed forward to meet them and 
threw them back as far as their artillery, which we 

1 See p. 264. 


captured. Eighteen guns fell into our hands, we 
were masters of the heights that command the 
Konigsberg road, and a great number of the enemy 
who were not able to escape became our prisoners." ^ 

Davout, too, gives a vivid description of the scene, 
which was evidently unusually impressive. '' The 
Russian army was only two hundred paces off ; it 
was coming on headlong with bayonets at the 
charge, and with thirty guns supporting it. They 
came within half -pistol-shot. . . ." ^ 

With the storming of the Kreege-Berg the die 
would be cast, as far as this flank was concerned. 
The advancing Russians had been mastered and 
driven back, and their artillery on the Kreege-Berg 
itself had been overrun. The French had but to 
re-form and hold their ground, and the issue on this 
side of the battlefield would be definitively in their 

Morand's statement that the Kreege-Berg com- 
mands the Konigsberg road sounds strange when one 
refers to the battle-plans, but it is quite correct. 
What he undoubtedly refers to is the old highway, 
which anyone standing on the Kreege-Berg and look- 
ing eastward towards the Rohrmiihle and Melohn- 
keim sees for the first time lying below him.^ 

^ Operations du IIF Corps, annexes, p. 286. 
^ Operations du 1 11^ Corps, p. 164. 

3 Morand's report is in this regard very clear and significant. When, 
in fact, shortly afterwards the divisions of Friant and Gudin advanced 


The victors were, however, not long permitted to 
enjoy their prize. While they were still re-forming, 
in the midst of a snowstorm, a mass of Russian 
cavalry suddenly emerged from under cover of the 
hill. A battalion of Saint Hilaire's command which 
was supporting the left flank of Morand's division 
was flung back upon it. The division itself ^vas 
driven back towards Serpallen, while Saint Hilaire 
retreated to the Bartenstein road, whither Klein's 
cavalry division was hurriedly sent to his assistance 
from the main army.^ 

The envelopment was thus on the point of break- 
ing down when the situation on the extreme right 
underwent a change. The impulse seems to have 
been given by the arrival of Gudin's division on the 
field. Priant's division, with Gudin's support, was 
at last successful in definitively capturing Klein- 
Sausgarten and in driving the Russians there back 
on Auklappen. The two divisions thus came in 
rear of the Kreege-Berg position, which the gallant 
defenders were now obliged finally to evacuate. 
Morand's and part of Saint Hilaire's divisions 
occupied the Kreege-Berg for the second time, and 
held it fast for the rest of the day. Guns were 

at and east of Klein- Sausgarten to give him air, he says : " However, 
the enemy having been vigorously attacked on the Konigsherg roady 
we retook the heights." 

^ This Russian attack was delivered by General Korff with 
20 squadrons. 


brought up, and began to sweep the Russian hnes 

Although — in consequence of the great disaster to 
Augereau — Napoleon had called back Saint Hilaire's 
division more to the left to act as a strong link 
between the army and its enveloping wing, the un- 
wearied Davout did not rest content with the success 
he had achieved. He advanced the whole division 
of Gudin to a hill between Klein-Sausgarten and 
Auklappen (presumably the north end of the Kreege- 
Berg) and there rallied all of his corps that was 
still in condition to fight. Thus he stood, victorious, 
full in rear of the Russian centre. Bennigsen's 
army began to dissolve. The beaten Russian troops 
streamed back through Auklappen, with Davout's 
renewed attack at their heels. The farm was cap- 
tured, after a fluctuating contest, by the French. It 
was the same at the birch-wood (Birken-Waldchen) 
adjacent, whither part of the Russian left had 
retired. There was now no stopping the attack. 
Even Kutschitten was eventually taken by the 
French, and the battle was, for the time being, 

The Russians had lost. Crowded together in an 
acute angle of which the point was the front of Eylau 
and the branches lay along the tracks to Lampasch 
and to Schmoditten, they were in no condition to 
resist much longer. Already the interior of the 


angle was filled with wounded and demoralized 
men. The line of retreat to Domnau, AUenburg, 
and the home country was severed. In the direc- 
tion of Konigsberg the Schmoditten lane was still 
open ; for Ney, whom Napoleon had called up to 
close it, was still afar. But this narrow track was 
utterly insufficient for the whole army, and the 
troops retiring thereon could be headed off by the 
French right wing, moving on Miihlhausen by 
the easier highway. 

One weakness lay in the situation of the French. 
Davout's enveloping wing had extended too far 
to the right and was strong nowhere. A well-timed 
and well-aimed blow could break it, and by one of 
the remarkable coincidences of history, the very 
troops that had at Auerstedt inflicted the heaviest 
blow upon Prussia were now, after an uninterrupted 
career of victory, to suffer in turn no less severely 
at the hands of the little Prussian corps. 

General L'Estocq's march from Engelswalde 
to Rossitten on 7th February had proved ex- 
traordinarily fatiguing. The distance covered, 
measured from the rendezvous to the head of the 
main column, was it is true little more than 18 
miles, and by counting in the detours which the 
outposts and certain other detachments had to 
make, as also the marches to and from quarters, 


it still did not amount to more than, probably, 24, 
or in one or two cases 27 miles. But only those 
who have a knowledge of the district traversed in 
these marches can have an accurate notion of what 
they signified. To this day the narrow lanes 
between the villages go up and down, in and out, 
winding round obstacles, and becoming in bad 
weather bottomless. If a frost sets in such as that 
which reigned during those February days in 1807, 
the greasy soil, cut up by deep ruts, freezes into 
brick-hard, pointed ridges. It is impossible to 
ride except at a foot's pace, and equally difficult 
for infantry. At one of our manoeuvres with heavy 
artillery in the summer of 1902 our troops made 
acquaintance with the nature of the roads in that 
same region after a spell of rainy weather, and the 
day's work done by the powerful horses which drew 
the howitzers is said to have been the most exhaust- 
ing they had ever achieved. In the winter of 1903-4 
they had a chance of seeing what frozen roads were 
like on very similar soil in the neighbourhood of 
Friedland and AUenburg. One squadron marching 
there had to lead the horses 13 J miles along the 
high road. Small wonder, then, that L'Estocq's 
troops were again very late in reaching their quarters 
at Hussehnen and Rossitten on the evening of 
7th February. There were many who did not 
arrive until late in the night, and General von 


Plotz and the reserve were as late as 4 or 
5 a.m. (Map No. 14a.). 

To bring home to ourselves the state of the troops 
we must remember that they had marched betw^een 
85 and 90 miles, not counting detours, since the 
afternoon of 2nd February under much the same 
conditions. For the greater part the marches had 
developed into night-marches. Unfortunately, the 
old-established formality still prevailed of marshal- 
ling the whole of the troops at the beginning of a 
march and withholding from them any information 
about their quarters until the end, when the main 
column had reached the appointed goal. Thus 
they were often left waiting in the snow- covered 
fields, without fire or provisions, until they could 
move on to the scene of their short night's rest. 
They had by that time most of them received great- 
coats, but on the whole they were wretchedly clad 
and more wretchedly nourished. The continued 
retreat, the news which reached them at Hussehnen 
of the unlucky fight at Waltersdorf , and the glimpse 
into a future of unrelieved gloom and uncertainty 
were bound to exercise the most depressing effect 
upon their spirits. Only the splendid will-power of 
both officers and men can account for the unfail- 
ing and uncomplaining readiness with which these 
brave troops faced each new exertion. 

General von L'Estocq had, in accordance with 


Bennigsen's instructions, driven with Scharnhorst 
by way of Kanditten to Orschen. There he found 
his progress blocked by the French, and was in- 
formed that the Russians had already retreated 
towards Eylau, and that he would not be able to 
get through to that place. He therefore resolved 
to give up the meeting and continue his drive by 
Bornehnen to Hussehnen, the new headquarters, 
sending back in his stead Lieutenant Kurssel, who 
had come to him from Bennigsen's headquarters 
on the 6th. 

The assembly had already been ordered for 6 a.m. 
at Hussehnen, when in the night of the 7th/8th, 
at 3.30 a.m., Lieutenant Kurssel arrived there, 
bringing Bennigsen's order to close in towards 
Althof to join the right wing of the Russian army. 

The battle of Eylau had commenced. That its 
issue would perhaps definitely decide the fate of 
the Prussian kingdom was clear. '' We are playing 
for high stakes," wrote Scharnhorst to a friend at 
that moment. He did not by any means disguise 
from himself that the prospects were not particularly 
favourable, but he never faltered for one instant. 
The necessary orders for the change in the direction 
of the march were immediately given, and were all 
carried out during the night. 

The baggage-trains, which on the day before they 
had resolved to abandon to the enemy if the worst 


came to the worst, were to assemble at Bomben on 
the 8th and take refuge beyond the Frisching by 
way of Glauthienen. The Chlebowski Battahon and 
a squadron of the Wagenfeld Cuirassiers received 
orders to turn off towards Miihlhausen to sec^ure 
the crossing over the Beisleide and the junction of 
the track through Eylau from Landsberg with the 
great high road Bartenstein — Konigsberg.^ Colonel 
von Maltzahn and the remainder of the outpost 
brigade which had escaped from the fight at 
Waltersdorf and was on its way to rejoin the corps 
by way of Preussisch-HoUand and Braunsberg, re- 
ceived the order to cover the Kreuzburg — Konigsberg 
road behind the Frisching, while General von Esebeck 
was to take post with his dragoons, the (Russian) 
Kaluga Regiment, and half a horse battery at Witten- 
berg south of Konigsberg, to form a reserve for 
the defence of the Frisching. The heavy batteries 
were sent off straightway ^ from their several quarters 
to the Russians at Althof, where, as we know, there 
were already other Prussian batteries under Major 

The framing and issue of these orders must have 
required the whole time until the column was forraed 
up for the march. The tired troops assembled 

1 See p. 241 for the road-system in 1807. 

^ One of the two batteries collapsed on the way and did not 
arrive on the field for the battle. 
^ See p. 255, footnote. — Tr. 

278 JENA TO 

very gradually at Hussehnen, and it was probably 
about 8 o'clock when, at the approach of the rear- 
guard under General von Prittwitz, the column as 
a whole began to move. General von Plotz sent 
word that he was obliged to give his men a little 
rest and would follow as soon as possible.^ 

This involuntary delay, in the event, nearly proved 
fatal, and certainly influenced the fortunes of the 
day in no small degree. 

The line of march chosen by L'Estocq and 
Scharnhorst led from Hussehnen through Wackern, 
skirted the northern edge of the Eylau forest (com- 
monly called Stablack), touched the south end of the 
village of Schlauthienen, and continued thence by 
Domtau and Gdrken.^ The column moved in the 
following order : Vanguard : 50 Towarczys ^ and 40 
Auer Dragoons. Ma^in body of advanced guard : 9 
squadrons Auer Dragoons^ and Bredow's horse- 
battery. Main body in 3 small divisions: first that of 
General von Auer (10 squadrons Towarczys, half- 
battery horse artillery (Decker), 3 battalions of the 
Russian Viborg Regiment) ; then the 2nd, under 

1 General von Plotz had under him two infantry regiments (von 
Plotz and von Ruits). Their recruiting areas being in Poland, they 
were consequently very weak at this time. He had also a grenadier 
battalion (Braun), apparently the grenadier battalion von Massow 
as well, and finally 1^ horse -batteries. 

2 Map No. Ub. 

3 Polish lancers. — Tr. 

* One squadron of this regiment was told off as baggage guard. 


General von Rembow (2 battalions of the Schoejiing 
Infantry Regiment, Schlieffen Grenadier Battalion) ; 
and lastly, the 1st Division, under General von 
Diericke (Fabecky ^ Grenadier Battalion, 2 battalions 
Riichel Regiment, 5 squadrons Baczko Dragoons, 4 
squadrons Wagenfeld Cuirassiers, and half-battery 
horse artillery (Rentzel)) . Farther back was the rear- 
guard under General von Prittwitz (Stutterheim 
Fusilier Battalion, 5 squadrons Prittwitz Hussars, 
and half -battery horse artillery (Sowinski). The 
units marched in the order named. The intervals 
between advanced guard and main body and be- 
tween main body and rearguard were only small. 

This march was the prelude to one of the most mem- 
orable days in the military history of our country, 
and one of the most instructive in modern warfare. 
It was probably obvious to every ofl&cer, or at least 
to the greater number, that the future of Prussia 
hung in the balance. It is this fact which explains 
the uniform willingness and punctuality in exe- 
cution and the close, firm cohesion of this little 
band — ^the last representatives of the brilliant C>ld- 
Prussian army to appear as a corps on the field of 

To make the course of the fighting march which 
now commenced intelligible, we must first describe 
the nature of the terrain more accurately 

1 The family name von Fabeck was then still spelt thus. 


than is done on the maps, which, although they 
make it appear hilly and wooded, still give but an 
incomplete notion of its actual appearance. It is 
far less easy to take in at sight than it looks. Con- 
siderable hills with steep inclines, small chains, and 
knolls follow one another confusedly. The lie of 
the ridges is destitute of any system. The out- 
lines of the woods are many of them ill-defined, 
being blurred by excrescences of scrub and scattered 
groups of trees. The streams are mostly bordered 
by bushes, and villages and farmhouses — 
especially those in the valleys — surrounded by 
thick trees. The roads are narrow, and frequently, 
as has been mentioned above, they wind 
round the angles of the hillsides and circumvent 
the marshy meadows. A marching column, even 
though it may have been spied for a moment by 
the enemy's scouts, can easily disappear from sight 
again. Only from Graventhien onward does the 
country become more open and easy of survey, 
while near Eylau it rises to flat- topped hills, and 
with broad gentle down-slopes beyond. The country 
surrounding the little town was therefore probably 
easy to overlook. 

Deep snow covered the ground on the day of the 
battle, hindering the movement of all arms, and 
of cavalry in particular. Brooks and meadows were 
frozen. Only a few particularly muddy, boggy 


places were left, which would not have supported 
horses and riders. Some of the little mountain 
streams running out in a northerly direction irom 
the Stablack were probably still open and witliout 
a covering of ice in spite of the sharp frost, and 
this may account for the check which Ney's ad- 
vanced guard suffered on the evening of 8th February 
at the Drangsitten bridge over the Pasmar. When 
I examined the battlefield on 21st December 1906, I 
found the brook still open in spite of a tempera- 
ture of 7° to 5° Fahrenheit, most probably be- 
cause of the steep gradient of its course. On the 
day of the battle the cold had become considerably 
modified after the bitter night that had preceded 
it. There was a temperature of 25° to 23° 
Fahrenheit, but it had been far colder on the days 
before. Taken all in all, the terrain of Eylau nmst 
be accounted perfectly passable for the whole of 
the troops during the fight. Nevertheless, ground 
which has been ploughed for the first time and then 
frozen over is no trifling obstacle to a quick advance. 
As soon as the vanguard of the Prussian cokimn 
emerged from the angle of the wood between 
Wackern and Schlauthienen, it suddenly discovered 
eight or ten of the enemy's horsemen on a hill to 
the right, just east of the road Bornehnen — Schlau- 
thienen. General L'Estocq thereupon ordered the 
advanced guard to trot through Wackern. The 


order, however, was executed but slowly, for 
the troopers instead of trotting led their horses 
through — on account, it is said, of the cold, 
though the state of the road is a more likely 
cause, for no one is forced to dismount by nine or 
ten degrees of frost. The first half -regiment 
(5 squadrons Auer Dragoons) crossed through the 
wood, advanced towards the hill on which the 
enemy had been seen, then, as more French cavalry 
came in sight, wheeled to the right into line. 

It was Ney's advanced guard which was deploy- 
ing. It had marched from Orschen through 
Bornehnen in the direction of Kreuzburg. The 
Marshal had, as we know,^ been instructed to proceed 
towards Kreuzburg to gain ground on the Russians' 
left flank, and also, if possible, to separate the 
Prussian corps from the main army. 

The strip of ground to the south of Schlauthienen 
that is free of woods is peculiarly narrow and 
difficult to take in by eye, and the French can 
hardly have realized what was in front of them. 
Thanks to this. General L'Estocq gained time, 
under cover of the first half of the Auer Dragoons, 
for the second half of the regiment and a horse- 
battery, as well as the 10 squadrons of the 
Towarczys of the main body, to hurry forward past 
the angle of the wood and through Schlauthienen. 

1 See p. 232. 


The fourteen or fifteen united squadrons witli 
the battery, deployed behind Schlauthienen (very 
probably on the windmill north-east of the little 
village) in order by their artillery fire to prevent 
the enemy from blocking the place by their gun 
fire. Simultaneously L'Estocq pushed out 2 com- 
panies of the Schoening Infantry Regiment and 
3 companies of the Viborg to the right front, into 
the edge of the wood near the Bornehnen track. 
They had only a limited field of fire, but were 
nevertheless able to command the approach to 
Schlauthienen with their fire. 

The enemy too brought forward some artillery 
on the hills. An artillery duel began across the 
Schlauthienen hollow. But the sight of the im- 
pressive mass of cavalry on the far side and the 
graze of cannon-balls on the near side of the village, 
together with the proximity of the 1st half -regiment 
of Auer Dragoons, made the French stop short. The 
Prussian march column could now pursue its way 
through Schlauthienen, and General L'Estocq, 
seeing this, called in the 1st half-regiment Auer 
Dragoons and Bredow's horse-battery again. 

Suddenly there came the roar of guns from the 
rear. The head of another of the enemy's columns 
(probably Ney's left flank-guard) had appeared 
farther west on the track leading from Skerwitben. 
This gravely imperilled the march of the tail of the 


Prussian main column through Wackern. General 
von Prittwitz, who was close behind with the 
rearguard, realized this, and sent off the leading 
company of his fusiUer battalion (Stutterheim) 
under Captain von Krauseneck (the future Field- 
Marshal and Chief of the General Staff) to occupy 
a wood which at that time lay between Hussehnen 
and Wackern and, it appears, had a slight com- 
mand over the track on its north side. The wood 
has vanished, and the only trace of its existence 
to-day is a patch of bushes. Captain von 
Krauseneck and his brave fusiliers held up the 
enemy with their fire long enough to allow the 
Baczko Dragoons and the Wagenfeld Cuirassiers ^ 
to pass quickly through Wackern. But he was 
soon so violently attacked that he had to fall back 
towards Wackern. 

But meantime the enemy, like their comrades 
farther east, brought up their artillery to fire into 
the Prussians as they filed past. Wackern was 
taken by the French before the rearguard had 
marched through. Colonel von Stutterheim never- 
theless flung himself on the village with the leading 
company of his fusiliers, drove off the enemy with 
the bayonet, and joined Krauseneck's company on 
the far side. Both subsequently reached the main 
column. The French now passed right and left of 

^ The rear units of the main body. — Tk. 


Wackern, proceeding northward. General von 
Prittwitz, finding his way blocked, attempted to 
force it by his horse artillery fire, but in vain. He 
was therefore obliged to turn off with his remaining 
troops ^ in the direction of Kreuzburg. But the 
determined attitude of the fusiliers and the appear- 
ance of Prittwitz's comparatively numerous ca\'alry 
so far pinned the enemy to the spot that they lost 
sight of the retiring Prussian main column and 
molested their march no more. Its passage through 
Schlauthienen was thus rendered possible, though 
it appears to have been accompanied by constant 
fighting. 2 The road by Domtau and Gorken was 
now impassable. Instead of attempting to i'orce 
an opening, L'Estocq and his counsellor Scharn- 
horst resolved to turn off northwards towards 
Pompicken. The decision was correct and its 
consequences momentous. A junction with the 
main army on the battlefield was the one thing 
urgent on that day — it was there, and not here 
at Schlauthienen, that the decision lay. They 
resolved accordingly to reach the safety of the 
hills at Waldkeim, and thence to march on 

^ The 2 remaining companies of the Stutterheim Fusilier 
Battalion, 5 squadrons of the Prittwitz Hussars, and half a ^aorse- 
battery (Sovinski). 

2 There may have been a snowstorm in progress here, as during 
Augereau's attack on the Russian centre, which would help to hide 
the march of the Prussian column. 


Eylau by Graventhien. While the two companies 
of the Schoening and the three companies 
of the Viborg Regiments, vaUantly defending 
themselves against the pursuing French, success- 
fully rejoined the marching column, the Pabecky 
Grenadier Battalion occupied the southern edge of 
Pompicken village, to ensure the passage for the 
others. This time it was the Wagenfeld Cuirassiers 
and a horse-battery who deployed on the neighbour- 
ing heights. A fresh fight ensued. The enemy 
attacked with infantry and artillery from the 
direction of Schlauthienen, which they had mean- 
time occupied, but were repulsed. They then 
approached the west entrance of Pompicken from 
Wackern, but the two fusilier companies of Stutter- 
heim and tAvo guns from the half-battery Pentzel 
offered a gallant resistance, and succeeded in beating 
them off. 

The attention of the enemy was meantime more 
and more attracted by the rearguard, which finally 
absorbed it to the exclusion of all else. Prittwitz 
had now been joined by General von Plotz who 
came up from Bomben, and the two together fought 
so skilfully the whole day through with their inferior 
forces that Ney, apparently taking them for the 
whole of L'Estocq's corps, followed them towards 

Meanwhile L'Estocq continued his march in the 


direction of Drangsitten, past Waldkeim and 
Leissen and through Graventhien. On the right of 
his road, as the map shows, lay boggy patches of 
meadow which have since, it appears, been made 
passable. To the south of this low ground, Preach 
detachments marched for some time parallel vdth 
the Prussians. Several times did they attempt to 
cross it, but each time infantry or cavalry was 
rapidly thrown off to the right of the marching 
column and repulsed them. The fusiliers, too, after 
vacating Pompicken, were followed as they retired 
by French detachments, and some skirmishing 
occurred. Unfortunately no details of these small 
and yet instructive fights have been preserved. 
Neither can a reliable account be given of the move- 
ments of the troops who fell back on Kreuzburg, 
owing to the lack of internal evidence. But what we 
do know is the brilliant finale, L'Estocq's safe arrival 
on the battlefield of Eylau after a dangerous flank 
march. " The General's tactics are," as Hopfner ^ 
says, '* a model of the way in which a flank march 
in the face of a near and powerful adversary should 
be conducted." 

The artillery fire at Eylau became visible between 
Graventhien and Drangsitten.^ The flash of every 

1 Der Krieg von 1806 und 1807, ii. vol. 3, p. 236. 

^ Hopfner speaks of the " hills " between these two places; these 
hills, however, do not exist. The terrain is flat, rising very gently 
10 feet or so, and sloping as gradually down to the Pasmar brook. 


discharge was seen, but no report was heard although 
the distance was so small.^ The pace was acceler- 
ated. The Schlieffen Grenadier Battalion stayed 
behind on the Pasmar bridge at Drangsitten to 
check the enemy again, in case they should try to 
follow up too soon. The battalion was joined by 
the two fusilier companies coming from Pompicken. 
L'Estocq's column was thus deprived of another 
li battalions, and now consisted of only 8 bat- 
talions, 28 squadrons, and 2 horse-batteries — 
probably not more than 6000 men in all. Althof 
(Map No. 15) was reached at 1 p.m. 

There the corps was met by Russian officers who 
came to ask for supports, while giving a good account 
of the state of things on the field. General L'Estocq 
refused, for he had no desire still further to split up 
his seriously reduced forces. One of the Prussian 
officers attached to the Russian headquarters now 
brought an order to march towards the left wing 
and wrest from the enemy the advantage they had 
gained. But it still remained to choose between 
several possible points of attack. '' Scharnhorst's 
unerring vision selected the one which promised the 
most brilliant result. It had not escaped him as he 
viewed the battlefield from the hill at Althof, that 

^ This curious natural phenomenon was similarly observed at the 
manoeuvres of the 3rd Army Corps, 1876, and markedly, too, at the 
corps manoeuvres of the 1st Army Corps in 1902. 


Davout in his efforts to overreach the Russian wing 
had pushed out very far with his own. Scharn- 
horst's attack therefore was aimed at the enemy's 
flank, at Kutschitten." So says Max Lehmann in 
his famous Life of Scharnhorst. But in fact the 
terrain at Althof itself is perfectly flat/ and offers 
no point of vantage from which any such view 
could be obtained, while the most considerable rise 
in the ground near the lane between Althof and 
Schmoditten only affords a glimpse of the roofs at 
Kutschitten. Part of the battlefield is hidden by 
the village of Schloditten. Auklappen is just 
visible on the hill, but not very distinctly. ^ 
It can hardly have been possible, therefore, to 
distinguish the several positions of friend and foe in 
that quarter. The whole of the Russian right wing 
and the French left, stretching from the Walk- 
miihle to the hills north-east of Eylau on the road 
to Lampasch, are all that can have been seen, though 
these at least would be visible in some detail. At 
any rate, L'Estocq and Scharnhorst perceived that 
no serious danger threatened their allies in that wing. 

^ From the highest point down to the Pasmar River there is a 
gradual descent of about 15 feet. The church- tower at Schmoditten 
indeed afifords a complete bird's-eye view of the battlefield, but it is 
not stated that any officer of L'Estocq's staff ascended it. 

^ The high trees in the park, some of which probably existed 
at that time, define the position of this manor-house. Nothing else 
could have been distinguished, as the author found when he visited 
the battlefield at the same hour on a clear winter's day. 



A stream of fugitives from Kutschitten and Auk- 
lappen had already begun to pour down the fiat 
slopes towards Sehmoditten. The march was 
therefore continued in that direction, after the 
corps, which had hitherto marched in a single 
column, had been split up into three. But although 
the correct decision was thus suggested by circum- 
stances, it is not on that account any the less 

The centre column traversed the village of 
Sehmoditten itself, the other two skirting it on the 
north and south respectively, all three marching 
on Kutschitten, now straight before them and on 
slightly higher ground. Just after the little brook 
beyond Sehmoditten had been crossed, French 
skirmishers were espied on the hills of Auklappen and 
Kutschitten. Larger bodies could also be seen at 
Kutschitten, and it was evident that the village was 
occupied. L'Estocq deployed his troops for the 
attack. The Riichel Regiment drew away leftwards 
and aimed at the north end of the village ; the 
Russian Viborg Regiment formed the centre, and the 
Sehoening Regiment the right wing. Then came in 
second line the Fabecky Grenadier Battalion, and 

1 The regimental history of the Riichel Infantry Regiment (now the 
Grenadier Regiment Kronprinz) also states that General L'Estocq on 
arriving at Schloditten (a mistake for Sehmoditten) recognized the 
dangerous situation at Kutschitten. It would certainly have been 
impossible for him to do so earlier. 


close at hand the Auer and Baczko Dragoons and 
the Wagenfeld Cuirassiers. " What regiments they 
were, too, with their splendid record of attested 
worth ! There was hardly a cavalry battle in King 
Frederick's wars at which the Auer and Baczko 
Dragoons had not been present. As for the in- 
fantry regiment Riichel, it had helped to drive the 
Swedes out of Pomerania and Prussia, the Turks out 
of Hungary, the French out of the Rhineland, 
Italy, and Flanders, and had poured out its blood in 
rivers during the Silesian wars. When the le8;der 
of the corps, 1 with his knowledge of history, led 
these troops into battle on that day he must have 
felt that the thousands and tens of thousands of 
heroes who had built up Prussia's greatness were 
at his side to help and to bless in all their victorious 
strength. And was it not, too, the iron Marshal 
whom they opposed, he who had reaped at Auer- 
stedt the fruit which laxity and Avant of judgment 
had sown in the camp of the Fatherland ? He 
should learn that day what the Prussians were still 
o.ble to achieve under a leader worthy of the name." ^ 
The Towarczys worked away farther to the left 
than the Riichel Regiment, turning Kutschitten by 
the north. They were joined by a band of some 
200 Cossacks. The artillery, after traversing a 

1 Meaning, of course, Scharnhorst. 

2 Max Lehmann, Scharnhorst, i. pp. 488, 489. 


thicket (now only recognizable by its undergrowth), 
had commenced the attack by opening fire from a 
gentle rise on the Schmoditten — Kutschitten track 
at a range of about 550 yards. The Russians who 
were streaming past in retreat received orders from 
L'Estocq to join in his advance. But the only 
result was that they continued their retreat on 
Schmoditten grouped in larger bodies than before. 

While the Schoening Regiment, leaving Kut- 
schitten to its left, advanced against the French 
skirmishers on the hills between Kutschitten and 
Auklappen, the other two regiments (Viborg on the 
right, Riichel on the left) flung themselves straight 
upon Kutschitten. The enemy rushed out to meet 
them from the exit of the village, but were imme- 
diately driven in again.^ Lieutenant von Schacht- 
meyer with part of the skirmishers of the Riichel 
Regiment pushed in from the left {i.e. from the north 
side of the village), while Colonel von Hamilton 
with the regiment itself, in columns, stormed the 
northern part of the v/est edge, and the Russian 
Regiment Viborg captured the south side with loud 
hurrahs. The garrison consisted of the French 51st 
Regiment of Morand's division, 4 companies of the 
108th Regiment of Friant's division (Davout's 

The combat appears to have been very sharp. 

^ Geschichte des Grenadier -Regiments Kronyrinz {frilher v. Riichel). 


The Journal of Operations of the French III Corps 
reproaches the garrison with having shown far too 
much ^'temdrite'^ in defending themselves against 
an enemy who was in such superior force. Kutschit- 
ten took fire, but the village was then, as to-day, 
built in a straggling fashion (the original outline 
appears to have been preserved), and the victors 
were therefore able to press forward and through 
it in spite of the buildings which stood in flames. 
The defenders attempted to make a renewed stand 
immediately south of the village. But they v^ere 
routed here also, and at the same moment, by the 
Towarczys and the Cossacks, who it will be remem- 
bered had made a circuit round the north side of 
the village and now suddenly and unexpectedly 
appeared in rear of the French. 

The ground sloping gradually from Kutschitten 
towards Lampasch screened the movements of the 
allied cavalry from observation. The light cavalry 
brigade of Marulaz, which up till then had covered 
Davout's extreme right wing, seems to have with- 
drawn ; neither did Milhaud's cavalry division, which 
was near at hand, come to the assistance of their 
hard-pressed comrades. The official report,^ indeed, 
says that the inaction of the cavalry was due to 
the unfavourable character of the ground, but we 
may justly suspect the validity of this excuse, for, 

1 Opirations du IIP Corps, 1806-7, p. 168. 


as we know, the ground was frozen and deeply 
covered with snow. There are, besides, no ditches 
or stream-beds of any importance south of Kut- 
schitten. A more obvious explanation would be 
that the French cavalry horses were not capable of 
anything faster than a walk after their previous 
exertions and privations.^ 

The result was that the gallant defenders of 
Kutschitten, deserted by their comrades, were 
surrounded and almost anniliilated.^ An ea^gle 
was captured^ and three lost Russian guns re- 
covered. The chief part of the honour of recap- 
turing Kutschitten falls to Colonel von Hamilton. 
L'Estocq alludes to his regiment (in his report to 
the King) as " the brave Rlichel Regiment," and 
adds : " This regiment renewed its ancient fame by 
its brilliant action." 

After the capture of Kutschitten L'Estocq's 
whole corps marched with the greatest rapidity 
to the small birch-wood (Birhen-wdldchen) which 
lay to the south. (It has now disappeared, but its 
position and extent are marked by single trees and 
groups of trees and by a light thicket at the southern 
end near to Klein-Sausgarten.) The right wing was 

1 Hildebrand, Die ScldacU hei Pr. Et/Igu, p. 26. 

^"Ils furent enveloppes et 6prouverent une grande perte " 
{Operatio7is du 1 11*^ Corps, p. 168). 

2 And presented to Queen Luise on her birthday, lOMi March 
{Oeschichte def^ Qrenadier-Begimenfs Kronprinz). 


formed by the Schoening Regiment ; on its left was 
the Fabecky Grenadier Battalion, which had been 
brought up into first line ; behind these was the 
Russian Viborg Regiment; and the left wing consisted 
of the Rlichel Regiment. In second line came in 
order from right to left the Wagenfeld Cuirassiers, 
the Auer Dragoons, and the Baczko Dragoons. As 
before, the Towarczys and Cossacks protected the 
left flank, reaching out farther towards Melohnkeim 
and heading for Klein-Sausgarten, when the advance 
was made on the Birch Wood, 

The ground south of Kutschitten not only lies 
higher than the surrounding country, but also is 
absolutely flat, without any gentle declivity, until 
the plateau breaks into a sharp down-slope^ close 
above the brook which, flowing from Auklappen 
towards Lampasch, outlines the wood's northern 
edge. Thus, in the last decisive contest about to be 
fought, the French were in low ground and could 
only be perceived by the attackers, who approached 
along the high ground, when close at hand. 

We will take the description from Hopfner's 
admirable work. 

'' In the glow of the setting sun, with bands ]3lay- 
ing, the infantry advanced in perfect order toT^^ards 
the birch copse below. A fierce cannonade was 

^ 1 in 15 to 1 in 12, according to the contours in the oiiginal 
(Lettow) map. — Tr. 


in progress on both sides, but not a musket-shot 
was fired. The skirmishers who were holding the 
edge of the copse were overthrown, and our troops 
pushed their way in up to within 50 paces of the 
battalions ^ that stood in columns inside the wood, 
while the Riichel Regiment passing along the right- 
hand side of the wood fell upon the enemy's right 
flank. At very close quarters — the history of the 
Riichel Regiment says at short musket-shot — ^there 
was now a fierce musketry and case-shot fire, which 
lasted about half an hour, and in which the 
French in their dense masses suffered severely." . . . 
'' After heavy losses the French gave way, were 
pursued with the bayonet, and completely expelled 
from the wood." 

It was the 12th French Regiment that had 
stood in the Birch Wood. It subsequently joined 
the 1st Battalion of the 25th Regiment behind 
("' sur la droite a la sortie des hois'' probably, 
therefore, towards the Kreege-Berg), and rallied, 
with the remainder of Gudin's and Friant's 
divisions, for a new effort of resistance. 

At the same time Auklappen was recovered by 
the Russians, and here too the retiring movement 
of the French made itself evident. Marshal Davout 

^ Hopfner adds at this point, " of Friant's division." But as a 
matter of fact they belonged to Gudin's division, as is evident from 
the Journal of the III French Corps (p. 168). 


came up himself in all haste to put a stop to the 
general retreat. He collected all the available 
artillery on the Kreege-Berg and hurried through 
the ranks of his corps crying to them that they 
must perish with honour. '' The brave will die 
covered with glory, and only cowards will make 
acquaintance with the wastes of Siberia." ^ 

There was still half an hour of daylight after the 
capture of the Birch Wood, but this short spa^ce of 
time did not, probably, suffice to reorganize the 
troops and develop a third effective attack, besides 
which the enemy's powerful artillery on the Kreege- 
Berg would first have had to be beaten down. 
Darkness set in, therefore, without further action. 
L'Estocq's troops, splendid as had been their good- 
will on this great day, showed signs of weariness 
after their fighting march of twelve to fourteen 
hours. Besides which the Russian General 
Kamenskoi, who had come over from Auklappen, 
refused most deliberately to assist in a renewal of 
the attack.^ 

The French contend, it is true, that they held 
Auklappen up to and after nightfall : '' Ce fut 

^ Operations du II I^ Corps, p. 168. 

2 The Russian account in the January number of the Voyenniy 
Svornik of 1907 says the exact contrary. If, however, we bear in 
mind the state in which Count Kamenskoi's troops must have been 
after the previous long and fierce fight, we are inclined to think that 
the Prussian version is the correct one. The Russkiy Invalid, Nos. 2 1 , 
22 (1907), says nothing of any desire on Kamenskoi's part to attack. 


dans cette position entre AuJclappen et Lampasch que 
le III Corps passa tranquillement la nuit.'' But this 
contention is obviously erroneous, for the Birch 
Wood not only lay exactly in the middle of the line 
named, but also stretched well beyond it south- 
wards. On the other hand, the Kreege-Berg and 
the flat hills to the west remained in the hands of 
the victor of Auerstedt. 

The Russian General von Knorring came up to 
L'Estocq, congratulated him on his great success, 
and announced that he had made arrangements 
throughout the Russian lines to form in columns of 
attack. But the attack itself did not take place. 
It was not to be commenced without the consent of 
the commander-in-chief, and at the time Bennigsen 
could not be found. 

He is said to have ridden to meet L'Estocq's corps 
and to have lost his way, but this suggestion is in- 
explicable. The space between Kutschitten, Eylau, 
and Schmoditten into which the Russian army was 
crowded before the last favourable turn of fortune, 
can to-day be viewed as a whole, and was almost 
equally easy to overlook at that time. The only 
features which existed then and have now disap- 
peared are small thickets, and these were mostly on 
low ground beside the ditches and the stream-beds. 
L'Estocq's column approaching in close and regular 
order must have been visible everywhere. Towards 


evening, according to the Russian account, Bennigsen 
was with the left wing, and gave General Osterraann 
orders to prepare to attack. Presently, how- 
ever, he altered the order again, resolved to advance 
with the right wing, and rode thither accordingly. 
But he did not in the end carry out his plan. How- 
ever this may be, at any rate the favourable 
moment was allowed to pass unused. 

Meanwhile, about 7.30, Ney and his corps appeared 
on the battlefield. The officer whom the Emperor 
had dispatched with the order to come on to the 
field, making a wide detour for security, had 
ridden through Landsberg and Orschen. He was 
close upon Kreuzburg when he came up -^vith 
Marshal Ney, who had probably realized that^ he 
had no longer L'Estocq's whole corps in front of 
him, as he had supposed, but only detached frag- 
ments of it. He now altered the direction of his 
troops and led them along the same road which 
L'Estocq had used, passing through Pompicken 
and Graventhien. In front of the corps, Bellair's 
brigade and a light cavalry brigade of Lasalle's 
division were again in front — these were the same 
troops which had moved upon Schlauthienen in 
the morning, some of whose detachments had 
remained in observation of L'Estocq's movements. 
At the Drangsitten bridge they were checked by 
Stutterheim's fusilier companies, and the broken 


bridge had to be repaired. This done, they con- 
tinued their march, the Prussian fusihers retiring 
before them through Schmoditten to the grange 
called SoUseyn. It was after eight o'clock and 
completely dark when the French deployed in the 
direction of Althof. The Schlieffen Grenadier 
Battalion was still posted there, but, after a short 
struggle, threatened with envelopment by the 
enemy's superior numbers, they retired in square 
in the direction of Kutschitten, passing between 
Schloditten and Schmoditten. At 9 p.m. they 
joined the troops in the Birch Wood and took their 

The French followed them through Althof and 
approached Schloditten, which was crowded with 
the wounded and only garrisoned by weak Russian 
detachments. Schloditten was taken after yet 
another slight engagement, but the Russian and 
Prussian batteries prevented any further advance 
by firing case-shot into the darkness. Up till now 
the Russian right wing had maintained unshaken 
its original position, supported by its powerful 
artillery. Now, however, late in the evening as it 
was, serious danger threatened it, and Bennigsen 
promptly decided to recover Schloditten. A few 
regiments of the 3rd Division were dispatched to 
that place, and the village was regained. The 
French retired on Althof, where the mass of Ney's 


corps had meantime assembled, and the rest of the 
night was spent there. Thus was the battle restored 
on this wing also. At 10 p.m. all fighting ceased 
entirely, and innumerable watch-fires, besides the 
burning villages, began to light up the white seiow- 
covered fields. 

The five days' fighting, the two days' struggle 
at Eylau itself, the consecutive night-marcjhes 
through the snow, sharp frost, hunger, and e\ ery 
sort of fatigue and anxiety had terribly affected 
the Russian army. We have already seen in what 
condition they arrived at Eylau. ^ They fought in 
spite of it with unbending bravery, but there came 
a time when nature asserted her rights. The dis- 
solution of which General L'Estocq had seen such 
clear evidence on his arrival beyond Schmoditten, 
must have been even greater during the night. 
There were many unwounded men who left the 
field with the wounded, as will always be the case 
in any battle of long duration. Many others left 
the ranks, driven by hunger into the surrounding 
villages. Regiments and battalions had shrunk 
to insignificant handfuls, one of the divisicms 
(General von Ostermann's) numbering only 2710 
men under arms. 

General Bennigsen heard with alarm the reports 
which came in from different parts of the field. He 
iSeep. 233ff. 


certainly cannot have had more than 30,000 men 
under his control at the moment. His actual 
losses amounted to nearly 25,000. But in the 
opposite camp the French were in similar plight. 
They had undergone fearful losses, as for instance 
in the destruction of Augereau's corps, and more- 
over, being less habituated to the conditions of the 
country and the severity of the season than the 
Russians, they suffered more keenly from both 
these causes. In spite of everything, therefore, 
it was still within General Bennigsen's power to 
choose whether he would go or stay. Not that 
the choice was easy. Fate, on the evening of the 
battle of Eylau, set before him one of the most 
difficult questions that ever taxed the insight and 
character of a commander. But it is the general 
who first admits the battle to be hopeless who loses it. 
Involuntarily our thoughts turn to the evening 
of Vionville. Things looked worse for us then 
than for the Russians on 8th February 1807. The 
Prussian losses on 16th August 1870 had been 
comparable to, if not actually as heavy as, theirs. 
But the superiority of the French was very great, 
almost two to one ; whereas at Eylau, according 
to recent calculations, it was non-existent. The 
troops were equally exhausted on both occasions. 
Men and horses were utterly worn out after ten 
or eleven hours of fighting. On 16th August 


not a company squadron or battery cooked a 
meal. The lack of water after a very hot day 
was keenly felt on the plateau upon which the 
Prussians found themselves. Even during the 
fight, the ammunition had given out both for 
infantry and artillery. 

There, too, numerous bodies of troops, scattered 
by hunger and thirst, were lost in the darkness. 
Supervision and control being, under the new 
conditions of warfare, less effectual than at Eylau, 
the dissolution was greater. The many wounded 
needed as many pairs of hands to shelter and 
nurse them. Search was made in the dark for 
lost leaders. Nowhere were there any bodies in 
close order. The only large groups of men weve 
those gathered round a few sutler's carts which in 
spite of all obstacles had reached the battlefield. 
The long artillery line in the Prussian centre wa>s 
deserted except for a few sentries who stood loyally 
by their trusty guns. There was hope, indeed, of 
considerable reinforcements the following day, but 
they could not arrive much before noon. Only 
the IX Corps, or as much of it as had not already 
been used up in the fighting, was available in the 
early morning, while all appearances pointed to 
the fact that the French must still have a con- 
siderable force fresh and ready to engage, which 
might attack at daybreak. 


In such moments a commander cannot depend upon 
calculations by numbers. To come to a decision he 
has to trust his own insight, his experience, his pro- 
fessional knowledge, and that unaccountable power 
of presentiment that is so often vouchsafed to 
greatness. According to the strength of his nature 
will this decision be cast. Prince Frederick Charles 
had a strong soldierly spirit. He never for a 
moment lost confidence in the ultimate victory, not 
even during the critical phase of the battle in which 
the defeated Prussian left wing poured back past 
Mars-la-Tour into Tronville after the sanguinary 
repulse of their attack on Greyfere Farm. As the 
sun sank against the horizon and anxiety as to the 
result of the battle was writ large on the faces of 
the observers, he turned round and calmed them 
with the simple words : " Another half -hour in this 
position and it will be a regular victory." All of us 
who were there, as we rode off, on that pitch-dark 
night, down the steep road to Gorze, were uplifted 
by the consciousness that we had seen a truly great 
man at his work that day. 

Bennigsen was no Frederick Charles. He had 
neither his strength of character nor his high sense of 
responsibility. Some among his entourage were for 
standing fast, in particular Generals Knorring, 
Steinheil, and Ostermann. The Prussian staff, too, 
as we know, wished to continue the battle. But 


Bennigsen shrank from the great resolution and 
decided on a retreat, choosing, to make matters 
worse, the direction of Konigsberg. This meant 
the abandonment of direct communication with 
Russia, and the grave danger of being forced away 
and completely enveloped by the enemy, should 
their strength be still equal to such an undert.ak- 
ing. As against Napoleon, who could generally 
make impossibilities possible, the direction chosen 
was doubly dangerous. 

The Prussian corps was to form the rearguard, but 
when the order arrived to that effect Scharnhorst 
immediately resolved not to obey it. His anguish 
over the desertion of the battlefield and the decision 
against renewing the attack the next morning was 
profound. "It is a great misfortune that the 
battle was not renewed on the following morning. 
The troops were extremely fatigued, it is true, but 
after all the enemy was in similar plight," ^ he wrote 
to Kleist, the King's aide-de-camp general, on 9th 
February from Friedland. But he refused under 
any circumstances to agree to the Russians cutting 
themselves off from the roads that could bring them 
supplies and reinforcements. The bad impression 
which this abandonment would have made in Russia, 
at Court, and in the army (where Bennigsen had to 
cope with no little enmity and jealousy), would 

1 Quoted in Lehmann's Life of Scharnhorst^ i. p. 490, note 4. 


necessarily have been a serious matter, and its 
results could hardly be estimated. 

Thus did the Prussian generals come to the second 
great decision of that day, the decision to retire along 
the Domnau road in the direction of Friedland and 
Wehlau. It was somewhere about midnight (at 
2 a.m. according to Hopfner) when the corps 
marched off from the battlefield. It was difficult 
to find the way in the darkness. In the deserted 
villages no one could be discovered who could have 
undertaken to act as guide on the snow-covered 
roads. At last two grenadiers were discovered who 
were natives of that region, and with these two 
seated on a gun in front the column was set in motion. 
They marched as far as Domnau, and then on to 
Friedland the same day, 9th February, unmolested 
by the enemy, who probably would have credited 
anything sooner than the retreat of the victor. 
' The communications with Russia remained open. 
For the second time the Russian army had been 
saved." ^ 

Napoleon's hopes were cruelly disappointed by the 
result of the great battle of the 8th. The fight which, 
since the middle of December, he had so ardently 
desired had been fought, but how sadly the course 
it had taken must have belied his expectations ! 

^ Lehmann, Scharnhorst, pp. 491-2. 


"Never had the grande armee encountered such 
opposition."^ The huge enveloping attack of the 
French right wing and centre that was to have 
mastered the whole field of battle, had won notliing 
more than the Kreege-Berg and Klein-Sausgarten, 
and even this much at the cost of terrible losses. 
The Russians were still in possession of their natural 
line of communications, the attempts to force them 
off it, to pin them against tlie Haff or the coast — to 
destroy them — had failed signally. 

In Davout's corps and Saint Hilaire's division, on 
whom the brunt of the battle had fallen, the ranks 
were terribly thinned. By their own admission 
they were reduced to one-third of their former 
strength. Augereau's corps as an organized battle- 
unit had ceased to exist, while Soult's corps had 
suffered heavily in the struggle for Eylau on the 
7th. The names and numbers of regiments, brigades, 
and divisions were all that remained to distinguish 
the worn-out cavalry. Many of the horses ]iad 
collapsed from sheer exhaustion during the attacks 
on the Russian centre. It was utterly impossible 
to go on. Here again, as in Poland, natural con- 
ditions triumphed over human exertions. 

Apart from the Guards, the three light cavalry 
brigades of the left wing and Ney's corps which had 
just come in were the only units in a condition to 

^ Derrecagaix, Le Marechal Berthier, ii. p. 201. 


move. These fresh troops might have sufficed to 
overthrow the enemy ; but the outcome was doubt- 
ful, while if they too were destroyed a great 
catastrophe was inevitable, for Bernadotte could 
not be counted upon before the 1 1th or 12th, when he 
would probably have been too late to avert the 

There was dissatisfaction amongst the marshals 
with the course things were taking.^ In the army 
discipline had gravely deteriorated. Numbers of 
unwounded men deserted the battlefield on the 
pretext of escorting the wounded, while others had 
absented themselves from the fight altogether. On 
the 9th of February Marshal Davout was forced to 
take drastic measures against the skulkers.^ 

Hunger, too, drove many from the ranks, and in 
the general search for food in the neighbourhood 
the men even forgot their own wounded. The 
little town of Eylau, which had been devastated 
and sacked from roof to cellar, was of course crowded 

^ " Les marechaux, qui avaient d6j^ ete temoins de la repugnance 
des troupes a franchir la Vistule, au mois de decembre, partageaient 
ces pensees (on all the difficulties surmounted) sans toutefois s'y 
arreter. Mais elles leur revinrent plus d'une fois a I'esprit, cinq 
ans plus tard, lorsque la periode des grands revers commenga dans 
les m^mes contrees. Pour le moment, ces impressions donnerent lieu 
a divers mecontentements " (Derrecagaix, Le Marechal Berthier, 
ii. p. 202). 

2 Two gunners, for instance, who had slunk off and only returned 
to their corps after the battle, were made to receive a savate, a sort 
of bastinado, on the grave of their dead comrades. 


out. Spectre-like figures of soldiers could be seen 
slinking about the streets in search of eatables. 
During the battle many had faced certain death 
in the storm of bullets for the sake of a handful 
of potatoes or a bowl of soup. The horses which 
fell were roasted at the bivouac fire and gre'edily 
devoured. Again, as in Poland, the Emperor heard 
the cry for bread arise in the ranks. 

Worse still, marauders sprang up in great numbers, 
and spread even to the left bank of the Vistula. 
Not even their own officers felt themselves safe 
from these men. Baron Percy, the chief surgeon 
of the grande armee, and his assistants had their 
horses, all their personal belongings, swords and 
even hats stolen during the battle, while engaged in 
their arduous task. Marbot, too, relates how, lying 
wounded in the middle of the battle, he was robbed 
of all his clothes by a soldier of the train. The body 
of a general ^ who died of his wounds at Worienen 
was pulled out of the grave in the expectation, 
probably, of finding it dressed in his gold-laced 
uniform. Coffins were also broken open and 
plundered at the village of Schmoditten. Every- 
where the marauding spirit broke out. 

These phenomena are easier to comprehend 
when we bear in mind that, despite the Emperor's 

^ Dahlmann, an Alsatian, called D'Allemagne in the French 


comprehensive instructions/ communication with 
the base was practically cut off. Every unit, 
every soldier indeed, was confronted with the 
necessity of providing for himself, and this without 
money. For no money was forthcoming. The 
corps who had fought at Eylau had, since 1st 
January 1806, received four months' pay only, and 
that was in October and November at Berlin. A 
small sum on account followed in January 1807. 
The Emperor stated that he did not wish his 
soldiers to spend their money while they were abroad, 
but in reality he was no doubt driven to these harsh 
measures by considerations of internal policy. He 
had found the finances of the country in a hopeless 
condition after the Republican regime of paper 
assignats, and his popularity as a ruler rested not 
a little on the fact that he had restored order in 
that department. He prudently desired, therefore, 
to avoid making any heavy demands on France, 
lest he should forfeit the sympathy that he com- 
manded in France and wished to keep intact for the 
new dynasty to be founded. War was to support 
the warrior, the army to be paid by enforced con- 
tributions abroad. But these had so far been 
scanty. The funds in the military chest of the 
grande armee, which had previously been in very 
low water, touched 5,300,000 francs (£212,000) 
1 8ee p, 201. 


in January 1807, but of what use was this insignifi- 
cant sum in face of the enormous demand ? ^ 

The soldiers still followed his star readily and were 
manageable enough on the field of battle. But the 
constitution of the army founded largely on victories 
and the carving out of fortunes began to show 
its weaknesses. The Russian cannonade at Eylau 
on the morning of the 8th had aroused a veritable 
panic in the place. A similar effect was created 
when the wounded Marshal Augereau drove 
through the town with a large escort at one o'clock 
in the afternoon, the trampling of their hoises' 
hoofs being mistaken for the oncoming of the 
enemy's cavalry. ^ Not only had the Empc^ror 
become more and more contemptuous of the masses 
who served him as material, but the same feeling 
had taken possession of his marshals, who had been 
promoted, step by step, with astounding rapidity, 
and had become great men while still young. In 
most corps interior economy was neglected, and the 
structure of the army was becoming loosened in 
any case. It is beyond doubt that the chaos at 
Eylau in the evening was extraordinary and that 
the frenzy of the fight had unnerved the French 
troops, hardened as they were. The battlefield 

^ Details in von Lettow, vol. iii. p. 162 et seq., and in Hildebra tid, 
p. 39 etseq. 

2 Journal des Campagnes du Baron Percy, p. 1G3. 


must have presented a terrible sight. " One cannot 
turn one's eyes in any direction without seeing 
twenty or fifty corpses together ; it is an appalling 
butchery ! '' ^ ''On the evening of Eylau the 
grande armde was completely exhausted, and in- 
capable of making a fresh effort." ^ 

The Emperor could not fail to realize that the 
result of the whole campaign must appear to the 
army as both imperfect and bought at a ruinous 
price. He had stumbled upon absolutely unsus- 
pected difficulties, '' and his fortune had seemed 
for a moment to wane." The spoilt children of 
victory had counted on a brilliant and complete 
finale to the second campaign of the war, and the 
general impression of disappointment was in- 

Napoleon spent the night of February 8th/ 9th 
in the house of a brick-maker near the Landsberg 
road, and not far from the farm of Griinhofchen 
(the little thatched buildings of which were, about 
the middle of last century, erroneously pointed out 
as Napoleon's headquarters). The bivouacs of 
his Guard encircled him. 

Portions of Davout's corps had fallen back still 
farther, some regiments, it is said, traversing Per- 
scheln, where General Friant had taken up his 

^ Journal des Gampagnes du Baron Perci/, p. 165. 
2 Pierre Grenier, Etude sur 1807, p. 65. 


quarters for the night. French troops also passed 
through other places in falling back on the night 
of the 9th. 

It is not known whether the Emperor actually 
gave an order to retreat. Judging by his character 
it is improbable, although he was evidently far from 
feeling confident of success. But there is evid(mce 
that the question was considered. He wrote to 
Duroc, a little before 4 a.m. : ^' We had a most 
sanguinary battle at Eylau yesterday. The battle- 
field remains in our possession, but although the 
losses are heavy on both sides, I feel mine more on 
account of the distance. ... It will soon become 
necessary to shift headquarters back to Thorn, . . . 
for it is possible that I may go to the left bank of the 
Vistula, where we should be in quiet winter quarters, 
safe from the incursions of Cossacks and swarms of 
light troops." 

When arms were not sufficient to achieve his ends 
he enlisted diplomacy. He had heard that the 
Tsar Alexander wished to know on what basis 
France would negotiate, and instructed Talleyr^md 
to say, in a diplomatic note addressed to Prussia, 
that he would agree to open negotiations, and 
proposed Memel as the place of meeting. 

But there is a considerable gulf between these 
preparations and a definite order to retreat. 

Baron Percy, the surgeon-in-chief, who had 


established himself in another hut near, relates 
that the Emperor sent for him at 6 a.m. on the 
9th to inquire the number of wounded. He was 
lying fully dressed on a mattress which was spread 
out on the floor of a miserable room. Without 
rising, he asked for details and news of persons. 
" His expression was grave and calm." Percy 
reported that 4000 Avounded had already been 
attended to. The high figure and his com- 
plaint of want of means impressed the Emperor. 
" Quelle organisation — quelle barbarie .-^ " he cried, 
and went on to discuss the future organization of 
the medical service. 

St. Chamans, Soult's aide-de-camp, found the 
Emperor still in the same position when he brought 
the news of the Russian retreat, which Davout 
also claims to have reported. Thanks to the 
darkness, the enemy had got away unnoticed. 
" Even the sequel of victory was of a kind to which 
the army was unaccustomed. The enemy had 
escaped, and his traces had to be sought for on all 
sides." 1 

The Emperor sprang up on hearing the good 
news. His face, we are told, became suddenly 
radiant, Avhile the dejection which had been 
stamped on his features a moment before vanished. 
We can easily believe it, as everything had been 

1 Derr6cagaix, Le Marcchal Berihiery ii. p. 203. 


at stake for him and he could now see at least 
deliverance from a situation as critical as any he 
had ever known. 

He made his arrangements at once. Soult was 
to stand fast, Murat to pursue with the whole of 
the cavalry. Pursuit was, however, ineffective, as 
the horses were no longer equal to the task. 

In accordance with his habit, Napoleon went 
over the battlefield, where a thrilling picture must 
have met his eyes. The heaped-up dead of the 
14th Regiment attracted his particular attention 
and wrung from him words of gratitude for the 
mass of brave men lying before him on the fi(M. 
There had been great losses among the officers, 
particularly those of high rank.^ As for the 
troops, gloomy indeed must have been their feelings. 
Their "Vive rEmpereur !''' was not so impetuous 
as usual, and cries of " Vive la paix!^' were heard 
amongst them. 

Napoleon's knowledge of human nature warned 
him that the army could not for the moment 
endure the strain of a further great effort, 
although the decisive victory, which he had in- 

1 Three generals were killed outright, while five more died of 
their wounds within a few days, among them Hautpoul, who, with 
Dahlmann, lies buried in the park at AVorienen near Eylau. The 
total was 275 killed, 660 wounded officers. For purposes of com- 
parison we may mention : Vionville, 16th August 1870, total loss 
of officers, 236 killed outright or dying of their wounds, 470 wounded ; 
St. Privat, 18th August 1870, 328 killed, etc., and 571 wounded. 


tended to bring about before settling into winter 
quarters, still eluded him. He contented himself, 
therefore, with staying in the neighbourhood of the 
battlefield until the 16th, and although Bernadotte 
was approaching, nothing serious was undertaken. 
He then took the army back into winter quarters 
behind the Passarge and the Upper AUe, whither 
the Allies slowly followed. 

That, notwithstanding all this, he deliberately 
posed as a conqueror and sought to make the world 
believe that he had won a great victory, cannot 
be regarded as a crime on his part. It was calcu- 
lated to further his object, and it was therefore 
justified. He must have felt keenly the falling 
off in strength which was now evident in his own 
army, the inevitable result of any strategical 
offensive in so extended a theatre of war. He 
recognized, too, with astonishment, the difficulties 
which an army has to overcome when, after no 
matter how glorious a triumph over its first 
opponent, it is confronted by a second who is still 
fresh, and sees itself forced to begin all over again. 
His keen glance showed him that the swing of his 
offensive had reached a dead-point at which a com- 
paratively slight blow might absolutely reverse it. 
The political complications that would follow such a 
reversal were of incalculable gravity. The unwelcome 
truth — that the army was weary of war — had at 


all costs to be hidden from his avowed as from his 
secret enemies, and this being so his boasting, 
overdone as it was, did as much good to himself, 
his army, and his country as honourable candour 
would have done harm. 

The question as to what would have happcjned 
had Bennigsen held out is difficult to answer. 
Was Scharnhorst's agitated appeal against the 
retreat justified or not ? No definite answer is 
possible at this time of day. There are almost as 
many arguments for as against it. The Russian 
right wing might have held Ney off on 9th February, 
L'Estocq's corps have amplified its success. It is 
possible that Napoleon might really have been 
induced to retire, had he found the enemy drawn 
up in front of him again the next morning. On the 
other hand, he might have put in the Guard to 
reinforce Ney's fresh troops and changed Ben- 
nigsen's voluntary retreat into an enforced 

It may, in short, be said that a greater than 
Bennigsen would have been justified in holding 
out, but that no blame attaches to him for not 
doing so. 

A complete turn of fortune was, at that 
point in the sanguinary war, undoubtedly an 
imminent possibility. No straining of the facts, 


QO arbitrary assumptions are required to con- 
vince one of this. Four months had passed 
since the double battle of Jena and Auerstedt, 
precisely the length of time taken by the French 
Republic in 1870 to set up an army hundreds of 
thousands strong and employ it to fight great 
battles. It may have been impossible for Prussia 
to do anything of the sort in 1806, since the soul of 
the nation, the administrative system, the level 
of culture, and tlie communications were not ade- 
quate to the effort, but that she might have done 
far more than she did is undeniable. Great results 
would have been obtained by abolishing all ex- 
emptions from service, and by levying all men fit 
to serve in the provinces still controlled by the 
Government. Even without accepting so low a 
standard of equipment and training as that with 
which Napoleon contented himself, ^ a fresh corps 
of 40,000 to 50,000 men might have been got to- 
gether. The regimental depots of Brandenburg, 
Pomerania, and West Prussia had escaped across 
the Vistula, bringing with them the greater part 
of their stores. Arms might easily have been pro- 
cured from England, had an agreement with this 
Power been promptly arranged. There was no 
lack of horses in East Prussia. In short, neither 
want of men nor want of material can be brought 

1 Seep. 116. 


forward as an excuse for the absence of any serious 
effort to rise up in arms. Energy was lacking on 
the part of the Government, the will to make a great 
effort was wanting on the part of an ease-loving 
generation, and with them alone lies the blame. 
According to Friedrich von der Marwitz's estimate,^ 
an army of 37,000 men might have been put in 
the field, without counting the garrisons of Danzig 
and Graudenz, and that this was a reasonable possi- 
bility in 1807 is demonstrated by what was done 
in East Prussia six years later. A corps such as 
this would have altered the course of the winter 
campaign and completely turned the scale at Eylau. 
We might, indeed, make a more modest assump- 
tion and yet arrive at the same conclusion. Even 
with such lukewarm preparations as were actually 
made, there were in January some 11,000 infantry 
and 8000 cavalry ready to be employed. Had 
these been called out, as the situation so imperatively 
demanded, they would have sufficed to chain 
victory to the standards of the Allies. These 
troops might have been assembled at and around 
Konigsberg, have reached Gross-Lauth and Miiihl- 
hausen by a short march on the 7th, and, reinforced 
by the numerous unnecessary small detachments 
that had been sent out, arrived on the battlefield in 
good time on the 8th. With the superiority thus 

^ Aus dem Nachlasse F. von der Marwitz, i. 222 (Berlin, 1852). 


obtained, an overpowering victory would have 
been absolutely certain. 

But, instead of this, the new infantry battalions 
had, from a number of quite secondary considera- 
tions, been transferred as early as the middle of 
December from the capital of the province to the 
far side of the Memel. The squadrons which had 
been assembled at Gumbinnen and Insterburg had 
been likewise made to take cover behind the same 
river. They had in their ranks a large number of 
long-service men and were, as far as can be seen, 
perfectly fit for action. It is hard to resist the 
temptation of imagining this great body of mounted 
men united with L'Estocq's 28 squadrons breaking 
through the thin and widely extended lines of 
Davout's divisions at Eylau. The vision of Seydlitz 
hurling himself upon the French infantry at Ross- 
bach rises before us ! Resistance to so great an 
onslaught would have been utterly beyond the 
power of the few dead-tired horses that Marulaz 
and Milhaud possessed. 

If we probe to the bottom, therefore, we see that 
Prussia's chance of victoriously reasserting herself 
was lost, not by Bennigsen's lack of confidence and 
daring, but by our own faint-heartedness, by the 
narrowness of our whole political and military 
conception of war and national defence. These 
were the fetters that forbade the leap which so 


forcibly suggested itself, and from which alone 
salvation was to be hoped for. 

To L'Estocq's troops at least no blame attaches. 
Their behaviour on the day of Eylau deserves the 
greatest praise and was worthy of the famous days 
of old. "When we consider that many detach- 
ments had only come into their quarters late in 
the night, some even not before morning, and im- 
mediately fell in again, unrested and unfed, to 
march along the hard-frozen road to Kutschitten ; 
that they went straight into the battle, fought 
with spirit and conspicuous success, camped on the 
field without fires and practically without victuals, 
and finally achieved a most orderly night-march in 
good, even high spirits ; that they left no deserters 
behind them, gave vent to no audible outbursts of 
discontent — when we consider all this we can only re- 
gret that their devotion met with no better reward." 

In action their bearing was faultless. There 
was no hesitation, no faltering, no trace of inde- 
cision. At no point was there any of the slackness 
which was in many cases responsible for the disasters 
on the Saale and during the retreat to the Oder. 
During the movement through Wackern and the 
withdrawal by Schlauthienen and Pompicken, 
every one, officer and man, kept his place and did 
his duty bravely and willingly, with prudence and 
with decision. In the fight for Kutschitten and 


the attack on the little Beech Wood all the battalions 
bore themselves in a way that would not have 
disgraced Frederick the Great's infantry. At no 
point was there any shrinking before danger. From 
first to last the operation went through without a 

The importance of this battle has been much 
underrated on the pretext that the losses were 
insignificant. Yet the forfeit paid by the corps, 
between 800 and 900 men, is by no means slight 
if we consider the short space of time in which it 
was incurred and the small numbers of the troops 

Taken as a whole, the leading also is deserv- 
ing of ungrudging recognition. On the 8th of 
February past mistakes were indeed retrieved by 
the unswerving directness with which the main 
object was pursued. There may seem to us to-day 
nothing very remarkable in the fact that the little 
corps steadily persisted in its march on to the battle- 
field where the die was being cast for the fate of 
the Fatherland, unchecked even by the enemy's 
cutting through the column of march. But if we 
place ourselves in the circumstances of that time 
and that moment, we are obliged to admit that 
it was extraordinary. When Ney appeared at 
Schlauthienen and Wackern the Prussian leaders 
might well have conceived the idea of securing to 


themselves credit for the result of the battle by 
moving off in a northerly direction to lure Ney's 
far superior corps away from Eylau in pursuit of 

This alone would undoubtedly have been enough 
to impress most critics — ^we have only to recall maiiy 
a similar instance at manoeuvres and the praises 
showered upon the fortunate commander when his 
coup succeeded. All the more admirable, then, 
must we consider the manoeuvres by which tlie 
Prussians achieved the double object of turning 
aside Ney's corps and reaching the battlefield them- 

Their recognition of the correct point of attack 
and the firmness with which they resisted eveiy 
attempt to split up their forces, equally with the 
vigour of their attacks on Kutschitten, the rapid 
deployment of the corps after the taking of the 
village and the second great attack on the Birch 
Wood, are deserving of all praise. 

The one point in which they fell below the highest 
standard was in their use of the cavalry in second 
line behind the infantry. It should have taken 
the route north of Kutschitten, following up the 
Towarczys and the Cossacks, and with them delivered 
a single well-knit attack upon the French left wing. 
[f^^ Thus the day of Eylau, albeit held in less honoured 
remembrance than other great days of the nation's 


history, was in truth the first step towards the 
revival of Prussia's military glory after the bitter 
days of humiliation. On that day it was proved 
that those who lifted up their voices on behalf of 
the old army and protested against its defamation 
were right. 

The spirit of feebleness so frequently displayed 
in the higher grades of the army and the people in 
1806 had not gained any hold upon the East 
Prussian troops. It is a great mistake to suppose 
that they, like the rest, were ready to admit the 
enemy's superiority, and despaired of offering any 
successful resistance. On the contrary, as a rule, 
the Prussian cavalryman would have thought it 
'' all in the day's work " to pit himself single-handed 
against several Frenchmen. ' ' A Prussian musketeer 
or fusilier would never fail if called upon to face 
even a considerable number of the enemy either in 
intersected country or in the open field, in fire- 
fighting or in hand-to-hand, and in proof of this a 
host of instances might be quoted which are worthy 
of the most glorious days of the Prussian arms." ^ 

It has been much disputed whether the victory 
of Eylau owes more to Scharnhorst or to L'Estocq. 
Scharnhorst's biographer ^ gives his hero the 
position of leader in place of L'Estocq, whom he 

1 Hopfner, Der Krieg von 1806 und 1807, iii. p. 218. 

2 Max Lehmann. 


does not even mention. That is carrying things too 
far. He who bears the responsibihty is entitled 
to the glory, however much he may have made use 
of another's ideas. Under certain conditions, as in 
this case, it is a virtue betokening strength of char- 
acter to submit to wise guidance. It is characteristic 
of small minds to avoid the appearance of being 
under the influence of others, and that is why they 
commonly reject or only half follow even the best 
advice. L'Estocq's claim to the laurels of Eylau 
rests upon the fact that he recognized Scharnhorst's 
keener insight and assumed full responsibility for 
its consequences. 

When, further, we compare him, as is right, with 
the men of his own generation, then his place of 
honour is assured. The last among the generals 
of Frederick the Great's school to hold a high com- 
mand, he was also the only one to win a really 
important success in this unhappy war. He was 
nearly seventy, but in spite of his great age he had 
vigour, alertness, and daring enough to make the 
victory on 8th February possible. In war the re- 
sponsible person sees things in quite a different 
light from the one who has only to advise, and his 
work is accomplished in an oppressive atmosphere 
which burdens the heart and clouds the mind. 
Everything he does demands a double output of 


But this does not detract from Scharnhorst's fame. 
We have only to compare the Prussians of Eylau 
with the Prussians of Thorn and Soldau to see that 
their operations were now infused with a new spirit 
— the spirit of Scharnhorst. In spite of his un- 
defined position, in spite of all opposing influences, 
he had, by the time the decisive day arrived, suc- 
ceeded in giving effect to his conceptions of war and 
its conduct. There can be no doubt that the idea 
of carrying out the glorious flank-march in the face 
of Ney's attempt at interception was his. No one 
else of L'Estocq's entourage had shown himself to 
possess an insight sufficiently keen for him to be 
suspected of having evolved such a plan. 

It was beyond doubt Scharnhorst, too, who made 
the dispositions for keeping off the French, who 
chose the direction of attack on the battlefield, and 
who fixed the line of retreat afterwards. But it was 
the disadvantage of his position that he could do 
no more than conceive and propose these plans, and 
suggest ways and means of execution. 

But whether we give the chief credit to L'Estocq 
or to Scharnhorst according to our individual 
feelings, the main point is, we consider, from the 
military historian's point of view, the attitude of 
the whole Prussian corps. Truly L'Estocq's troops 
showed convincingly that the instincts of thorough- 
ness and courage that had distinguished the old 


army still existed and needed only to be turned to 
good account. 

It was these troops who redeemed the honour of 
the army. The opportunity that Bliicher had let 
slip on the 31st of October, when he held back from 
attacking Bernadotte, fell to them, and they made it 
good. They too, therefore, must have their rightful 
place of honour in our country's history. 


The verses which form the introduction to this work 
are written by no knight or warrior, no scion of 
ancient nobility, but by a simple son of Switzerland 
with a heart for Germany and a clear eye for the 
lessons of history. Born of his intimate sympathy 
with the revival of the German empire, may his 
splendid song of the sword sound its grave warning 
note in every German province ! 

For that is what we need ! Again, as before the 
war of 1806, do we enjoy the blessings of an ap- 
parently unmenaced peace, and the idea is becoming 
more and more insistent in the heart of the nation 
that mankind will now proceed undisturbed along 
the path of developing humanity. It was just the 
same then. What praise Prussia reaped for her 
policy of neutrality which enabled the country, 
safe from war's alarms, to advance steadily in wealth 
and comfort ! What enthusiasm greeted the idea of 
the everlasting peace which one looked to the 
greatest of all peace-breakers to estabhsh ! War 
itself seemed likely to become milder in character. 


ENVOY 329 

Art and science alloyed the brazen laws of its 
conduct. War was to be spiritualized. Hence- 
forward not force was to decide its issue, but superior 
subtlety of intellect and more abstruse chess-moves. 

And how cruel was the awakening from tliese 
dreams ! 

One glance at the desolation of East Prussia is 
proof enough. The demon of war had raged over 
it in unchained savagery like a devastating hur- 
ricane, destroying all that human industry had 
for long centuries been laboriously building up. 
" Every one living in the stretch of country through 
which both armies had passed, was ruined, if ruin 
means the loss of all worldly goods. There was 
not one head of cattle, no corn, no potatoes, no coin, 
no clothing, no linen left.''^ A year of terrible 
mortality followed the battle. During 1807 there 
were five, six, and ten times as many people 
buried in the country round Eylau as was usual in 
one year. 

These were the results of cosmopolitanism, the 
love of peace, humanitarian twaddle, and the de- 
teriorated pre- Jena methods of warfare. Then, if 
ever, did history furnish proof of the fact that a 
nation which desires happiness must also be pow<3rful 

^ Hildebrand, Die Schlacht bei Pr. Eylau, p. 34 ct seq. We sbould 
like to draw attention particularly to the thrilling description con- 
tained in this work of the conditions which reigned after the wa r. 


and skilled in arms. It must neither renounce its 
passionate love for the Fatherland nor lose its power 
to regard war as an earnest, bitter thing and a 
historical necessity. As long as the process of re- 
constructing states proceeds with the changing 
seasons, as long as human development does not 
stand still, so long will there be war. But those who 
do not wish to be ruined by it must prepare in 
peace-time to endure the stern armed contest with 
opponents and rivals. To this end we must spare 
no pains in educating the rising generation in the 
spirit of bravery, scorn of danger, and bodily 
vigour ; and never again, as of old before Jena, must 
we set a higher value upon the art of war than 
upon the soldierly virtues. 

One thing is certain, we shall not be spared a 
fresh trial of our power of defence. The greater our 
well-being, the more refined our mode of living, the 
more extended our commerce, the more quickly do 
we arouse mistrust and envy, the more certainly 
will come the hour when we shall be asked whether 
we still have the will and the manliness to defend our 
all, sword in hand. 

Therefore, German Fatherland, ponder well the 
poet's warning ! 

" Unter Lorheerzweigen und Myrtenreifern 
Trage das Schlachtschwert I " 

MAP 10. 




January 1807. 

Scale of English Miles. 


MAP 12. 


Positions on 
3^? February 1807 

French IH 


Prussians OO 


Ertglish. Miles. 
ip ^ <f to 20 

MAP 13. 

MAP 14a. 


Movements Feb d^-?,?^-?; posiNons on 
evening of 7^ and Ney's, L Estocq's 
and DavouJ-h movement's on 3ip 




MAP 14b. 



ScALt OF English Miles 

1 ^« ViB V« O 1 






v. I . IBi Prusstdn dec/ me I Feet = /5 4- Engltsh Feet 
The 50 Contours are shown by thicker lines 


Alexander, Tsar, 115, 121, 123, 
124, 144, 177, 313. 

Anhalt-Plcss, Prince of, 130. 

Anrepp, General, 145 n., 268 n. 

Argens, Marquis d', 68. 

Arnim-Boitzenburg, Count Her- 
mann von, 44, 221. 

Auer, General von, 278, 282, 283, 
291, 295. 

Aug^ereau, Marshal, 21, 32, 39, 

- 116, 119, 134, 135, 137, 140- 

:v 142, 147, 148, 151, 158, 168, 
196, 198, 203, 209, 212, 228, 
248, 251, 253, 262-266, 268, 
272,285n. 2, 302,307,311. 

August, Prince, 38, 51, 54. 

Baggovut, General, 227, 254, 
255, 262, 268, 269. 

Bagration, Prince, 206, 243, 247, 

Barclay de Tolly, General, 210, 
231, 248, 250, 254. 

Beker, General, 59. 

Bellair, General, 299. 

Belliard, General, 53. 

Belling, General von, 92. 

Bennigsen, General von, 120-121, 
131, 135, 138, 143-146, 148- 
149, 151, 166-167, 176-180, 
185, 186-188, 204-207, 210, 
212, 215-220, 224, 228-229, 
233, 235, 237-240,"?^ 250-251, 
254, 257, 298-299,' 301-302, 
304-305, 317, 320. 

Bergen, Quartermaster - Lieut. 

von, 20. 

Bernadotte, Marshal, 2 n. 1, 6 n. 1, 
21-22, 32, 33, 39, 80, 82-87, 
88, 90, 91, 94-97, 100-102, 
104, 105, 120 n. 1, 134, 139-142, 
148, 153, 158, 168-169, 172- 
173, 179-186, 196-199, 201, 
203, 205, 206, 209, 211, 216, 
229, 232, 252, 308, 316, 327. 

Berthier, Marshal, 147 n , 203, 
205 n., 256 n. 

Bessieres, Marshal, 139, 140, 169, 

Beyme, Privy Councillor, ].22. 

Bila I, General von, 58. 

Bila II, General von, 57-59. 

Bliicher, General von, 15, 16, 18, 
23, 24, 26, 30, 31, 36, 37, 39-40, 
42, 43, 59, 78-89, 92-96, 98- 
107, 114, 116, 134, 160, 164 n., 

Borstell, Major von, 175, 218. 

Brinckmann (Swedish Ambas- 
sador), 124 n. 

Brunswick, Duke of, 8 n. 1, 19, 22, 
23, 189, 215, 219. 

Brunswick- Oels, Duke o::, 104, 

Billow Brigade, 225. 

Buxhowden, Count, 120', 121, 

?^143, 144, 146, 151, 157, 166, 

7 167. 

Chasot, Major Count, 99. 
Chlebowski, General von, 256 n., 

Clarke, General, 200. 
Colbert, General, 174, 253. 




Dahlmann (D'Allemagne), Gen- 
eral, 309 n. 1, 315 n. 

Daru, Intendant- General, 202, 

Daultanne, General, 149, 150. 

Davout, Marshal, 6 n. 1, 19, 21, 
31-32, 39, 41, 116, 117, 120, 
134, 137, 138, 142, 146-151, 
158, 168, 195, 198, 202, 208, 
216, 228-230, 232, 249, 251- 
252, 255, 260-264, 268, 270, 
272, 273, 289, 292, 293, 296- 
297, 307, 308, 312, 320. 

Dcsjardins, General, 264. 

Diericke, General von, 142, 143, 
163, 279. 

Dokhturor, General, 145 n., 151. 

Dolgoruki, Prince, 207, 210. 

Dombrowski, General, 115, 170. 

Drouet, General, 181. 

Dupont, General, 181, 182, 183, 
197 J 

Duroc, General, 124, 133, 313. 

Durosnel, General, 253. 

Esebeck, General von, 218, 227, 

Espagne, General, 196 n. 
Essen I, General von, 144, 145, 

167, 195, 198, 255. 
Essen III, General von, 145 n. 
Ewald, General, 102. 

Ferdinand, Prince, 112. 
Eichte, J. G., 75 n. 1. 
Frederick Charles, Prince, 221, 

Frederick the Great, 68, 83, 132, 

322 325. 
Frederick William II, 113 n. 
Frederick William III, 110-113, 

121-127, 130-133, 136, 179, 

Friant, General, 261, 268, 269, 

271, 292, 296, 312. 

Galitzin, Prince, 121 n., 151, 206. 
Gotzen, Major Count, 130. 
Grolman, Captain von, 164. 

Grouchy, General, 45, 57, 179, 

202 n. 2, 251, 253. 
Gudin, General, 149, 261, 270 n. 

3, 271, 272, 296. 
Guyot, General, 215, 217, 253. 

Hamilton, Colonel von, 292, 294. 
Haugwitz, Count, 112, 113, 122, 

Hautpoul, General d', 57, 203 n., 

251, 252 n. 3, 253, 267, 315 n. 
Helburg, Lieut, von, 10. 
Henry, Prince, 112. 
Heudelet, General, 264. 
Hinrichs, General von, 21, 22, 
Ilolienlohe, Prince, 1, 2, 11-13, 

24, 26-28, 30, 31, 33, 35-40, 

42-44, 46, 47, 49-54, 57, 58 n. 1, 

67, 78, 79, 85, 111, 114, 143, 

Hopfner, Major von, 59. 
Huguenin, Major, 212, 255 n. 1, 


Ingersleben, Colonel von, 60, 66. 
Jerome, Prince, 116, 141. 

Kalckreuth, Field-Marshal von, 

8,9, 13,24, 119-121, 130, 131. 
Kamenskoi,Field-Marshal Count, 

144, 146, 149, 151, 165. 
Kamenskoi, General Count, 212, 

268 n., 269, 297. 
Katzler, Major von, 91, 93. 
Kellerman, Marshal, 115. 
Klein, General, 203 n., 226, 251, 

252 n. 3, 253, 271. 
Kleist, General von, 12, 60, 61, 

65, 70, 86, 123, 190, 305. 
Kluchzner, General von, 225. 
Knesebeck, Major von dem, 24, 

27, 151. 
Knorring, General von, 166, 298, 

Kockeritz, General von, 113, 122. 
Korff, General, 271 n. 1. 
Krauseneck, Captain von, 284. 
Kurssel, Lieut., 276. 



La Hoiissn.yo, Gcnorn], 203. 

Lannes, Marshal, G n. 1, 21, 32, 
38, 39, 41, 49, 51, 52, 57, 78, 
80, 84, 116-119, 134, 137, 
148-150, 158, 168, 198, 201. 

Lasalle, General, 42, 49, 56, 57, 
202 n. 2, 225, 226, 299. 

Lecoq, General, 24, 60, 62. 

Lefebvre, Marshal, 170, 198, 209. 

Lelmdorff-Steinort, Count, 111 n. 

L'Estocq, General von, 118-119, 
130, 131, 135, 138, 143, 160, 
163-166, 173-178, 184, 188- 
192, 204-206, 216-218, 221, 
223, 224, 226, 227, 229 n., 231, 
232, 239, 240, 256, 262, 273- 
275, 278, 281-283, 285-200, 

292, 294, 297-299, 301, 317, 
320, 321, 324-326. 

Leval, General, 213. 

Longin, E., 244 n. 

Louise, Duchess of Saxe- Weimar, 

Lucchesini, Marquis, 25, 110, 124. 
Liidemann,KamrQerdirektor von, 

66 n. 1. 
Luise, Queen, 123, 189, 294. 

Malachowski, 90 n., 91 n. 1, 92, 

Maltzahn, Colonel von, 277. 
Marbot, Lieutenant, 309. 
Markov, General, 183, 185, 227, 

260 n. 1. 
Marmont, General, 192, 193. 
Marulaz, General, 228, 261, 269, 

293, 320. 

Marwitz, Major von der, 44, 

53 n. 1, 68, 319. 
Massenbach, Colonel von, 13, 14, 

24, 29, 35, 41, 42, 52, 53, 59, 

67, 82, 125. 
Milhaud, General, 55, 56, 58, 

202 n. 2, 251-253, 267, 269, 293, 

MoUendorf, Marshal, 9. 
Morand, General, 252, 261, 269, 

270, 271, 292. 
Mortier, Marshal, 120 n. 1, 200. 

Muffling, Captain von, 92. 

Murat, Prince, Grand Duke of 
Berg, 9, 14, 21, 31, 32 n., 33, 
39, 42, 44, 49, 50, 52, 53, 57, 
80, 85, 87, 88, 96-102, 120, 
134, 11^6, 137, 139, 141, 142, 
147, 148, 153, 154, 168, 197- 
199, 202, 203, 208, 210-212, 

Nansonty, General, 142. 

Napoleon Bonaparte, 7, 17, 18, 
20-21, 25, 28, 29, 32-33, 37-39, 
83 n. 1, 88, 110, 112, 114-117, 
122, 125, 133-135, 136-141, 
145-150, 153-161, 168-172, 
ISO, 191-204, 208-212, 215- 
217, 219, 220, 225, 228, 229- 
232, 246, 248-249, 251, 256 n., 
258-263, 266, 272-273, 305, 
306, 309-317, 318. 

Natzmer, General von, 30. 

Ney, Marshal, 14, 21, 31, 39, 
134, 137, 139, 140, 153, 154 n., 
158, 159, 161, 164, 165, 169, 
173-176, 178-182, 186, 194- 
198, 203, 209, 211, 212, 219, 
225-229, 231, 232, 249, 252, 
256, 273, 280, 282, 283, 286, 
299, 300, 207, 317, 322, 323, 

Nostitz, Lieut. Count, 49. 

Orange, Prince of, 10. 
Osten, Colonel von, 100. 
Osterinann, General von, 121 n., 

146, 268, 269, 299, 301, 304. 
Oswald, General von, 88 ru, 94, 

103, 104. 
Oudinot, General, 115, 196 n. 

Pahlen, Count, 152, 153. 
Percy, Baron, 156, 244, 309, 

311 n. 2, 312 n. 1, 313, 314. 
Petersdorff, Ensign von, 51. 
Petre, P. L., 205 n. 
Pletz, General von, 88 n., 90, 92, 

93 94. 
Plotz, General von, 275, 278, 286. 



Prittwitz, General von, 278, 279, 

Ranch, Major^von, 112. 
Rembow, General von, 279 
Rivaud, General, 181, 186. 
Romberg, Lieut. -General von, 57. 
Roquette, General, 165, 175, 182, 

184, 218, 227. 
Rucliel, General von, 163, 175, 

179, 279, 290-292, 294-296. 
Ruits, General von, 278 n. 1. 

Sacken, General, 121 n. 
Sahuc, General, 88, 97. 
Saint Hilaire, General dc, 253, 

261, 262, 264, 268, 269, 271, 

272, 307. 
Saint-Paul, Captain von, 190. 
Savary, General, 88, 90, 97, 100, 

Schachtmeyer, Lieut, von, 292. 
Scharnhorst, Colonel von, 13-15, 

37, 69, 62, 80, 86, 93, 94, 105- 

107, 132, 160, 161 n. 2, 188-191, 

204, 217, 276, 278, 285, 288, 

289, 291 n. 1, 305, 306 n., 317, 

Schierstaedt, Kammerprasident 

von, 66. 
Schimmelpfennig, General von, 

34, 36, 39, 41-43, 47. 
Schlippenbach, Count, 46. 
Schmidt, Maximilian, 1 1 1 n. 
Schnippel, Emil, 119 n. 
Scholer, Captain von, 166. 
Schrotter, 241 n. 
Schulenburg, Count, 67. 
Sebastiani, General, 115. 
Sedmoratski, General, 121 n., 136, 

167, 177 n. 1, 205, 255. 
Senarmont, General, 159. 
Sondershausen, Prince of, 12. 

Soult, Marshal, 8, 14, 15, 21, 31, 
37, 39, 86-88, 94-98, 100, 102, 
134, 139-142, 147, 148, 153, 
158, 168, 173, 179, 195-197, 
199, 202, 203, 208, 210-212, 
215, 216, 220, 228, 248, 251, 
253, 258, 259, 307, 315. 

Stein, Baron von dem, 112, 122, 

Steinheil, General, 304. 

Stiilpnagel, Lieut. -Colonel von, 
56 n. 1. 

Stutterheim, Colonel von, 279, 
284, 285 n. 1, 286, 299. 

Talleyrand, 193, 313. 
Tauentzien, General Count, 50, 

143, 215. 
Thynkel, Lieut., 66 n. 1 
Tolstoi, General, 144. 
Tresckow, General von, 22. 
Tschammer, General von, 6, 50, 

Tuchkov, General, 145 n. 

Voss (Prussian statesman), 122. 

Weimar, Karl August, Duke of, 
2 9, 10, 14, 23, 24, 26, 30, 31, 
33, 37, 40, 43, 79, 81, 83, 84, 86. 

William, Prince, 112. 

Winning, General von, 2 n., 3, 83, 
88 n., 94, 99. 

Wobeser, General von, 40, 97, 100. 

Wiirttemberg, Duke of, 6, 14, 
18, 19, 30, 33. 

Yorck, Colonel von, 18, 43, 49, 
82, 90, 91 n. 2, 93, 95. 

Zastrow, General von, 110, 124, 

Zezschwitz, General von, 6, 18. 


AUe, River, 173, 176, 178, 199, 

210, 211-213, 215, 230, 316. 
AUenburg, 233, 238, 240, 241, 

273, 274. 
Allenstein, 173, 179, 182, 188, 

203-212, 244. 
Althof, 252, 276, 277, 288, 289, 

Altmark, 110. 
Alt-Ramten, 220, 221. 
Alt-Ruppin, 43. 
Alt-Schwerin, 88, 93. 
Alt-Strelitz, 59. 
Angerburg, 136, 165, 166, 175. 
Ankendorf, 220. 
Ankershagen, 88. 
Anklam, 58, 59. 
Apolda, 2 n. 1. 
Arnsdorf, 228. 
Aschersleben, 17, 18, 23. 
Auerstedt, 2, 8 n. 1, 19, 20, 54, 

107, 132, 157, 191, 260, 273, 

298, 318. 
Auklappen, 271, 272, 289, 290, 

292, 295-297. 

Barby, 18, 33. 

Bartenstein, 173, 174, 176, 178, 
194, 232, 241, 252, 253, 255, 
258, 260, 261, 264, 267, 271, 

Bayreuth, 60. 

Beisleide, River, 277. 

Beisleiden, 261. 

Benneckenstein, 17. 

Bergfriede, 212- 216. 

Bergling, 225. 

Berlin, 11, 19, 21, 23, 28, 31, 34, 
36, 37, 38 n., 39, 66 n. 1, 67, 75 
n. 1, 112, 115, 116, 120, 133, 
134, 191, 200, 239, 310. 

Bialechowo, 191. 

Bialla, 167, 176, 179. 

Bialystok, 121. 

Biezun, 139, 142. 

Bischofsburg, 208. 

Bischofstein, 173, 176. 

Bitterfeld, 22. 

Blankenburg, 17. 

Bode, River, 24. 

Boguslavski, von, 75 n. 2. 

Boitzenburg, 41, 44-46, 49, 55, 
79, 82. 

Boizenburg, 81, 96, 99. 

Boldekow, 59. 

Bomben, 277. 

Bornehnen, 276, 281-283. 

Brandenburg, 34, 37, 39, 80, 133, 
165, 194, 318. 

Braunsberg, 175, 182, 184, 227, 

Breslau, 239. 

Brest, 144. 

Brok, 169. 

Bromberg, 120, 134, 135. 

Brunswick, Duchy of, 83 n. 1. 

Bryansk, 195. 

Bug, River, 136-140, 142, 145, 
148, 156, 158, 160, 168, 169, 

Burg, 30, 33. 

Bzura, 134. 


Charlottenburg, 38, 112. 



Chorzellen, 173, 199, 203. 
Ciechanow, 147, 148, 152, 153, 

Clausthal, 26. 
Cremen, 34, 40. 
Crivitz, 94, 97. 
Crossen-on-Odcr, 116. 
Custrin, 25, 28, 39, 59, 66, 110. 
Czarnowo, 145, 146. 

Dambcck, 81-85. 

Danzig, 9, 113, 132, 160, 169, 

170, 172, 177, 187, 319. 
Deppen, 220, 224, 225. 
Dessau, 23, 32, 
Deutscli-Eylau, 185, 188, 217. 
Diwitten, 212. 
Domnau, 241, 273, 306. 
Domtau, 278, 285. 
Donhoffstedt, 180. 
Drangsitten, 281, 287-289. 
Drengfurt. 175, 176. 
Dresden, 143. 
Drewcnz, 228, 229. 
Driesen, 111. 
Drobrzykow, 141. 

Eichen, 252. 

Eisenacli, 2 n. 3, 10. 

Eislebcn, 19. 

Elbe, River, 6, 19, 23, 27, 30- 

36, 39, 40, 43, 64, 80, 81, 86, 

88, 96, 98-100, 108, 110, 114. 
Elbing, 169, 181, 182. 
Engelswalde, 231, 273. 
England, 114, 318. 
Erfurt, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 14, 38, 80, 

200 n. 1. 
Eylau (Preussisch-Eylau), 208, 

237, etc. 

Fahre, 98. 
Falkenthal, 39. 
Fehrbellin, 34. 
Feldberg, 81, 82. 
Finland, 120. 
Frauenfeld, 228. 
Freiheit, 248, 249, 253. 
Freimarkt, 228. 

Freisack, 33, 35, 36, 

Friedland, 59, 88, 159, 240, 241, 

274, 305, 306. 
Friestadt, 191, 206 n., 217. 
Frisches Haff, 169, 181. 
Frisching, 277. 

Furstenberg, 41, 43, 78, 80, 82. 
Fiirstenwalde, 19. 

Gadebusch, 99, 100-102. 

Gardelegen, 37. 

Gcnthin, 33, 35, 58. 

Georgenthal, 184. 

Gilgenburg, 169, 173, 186, 203. 

Glauthienen, 277. 

Glogau, 116. 

Gollup, 137, 138. 

Golymin, 148, 150, 151, 153, 154, 

157, 171, 196. 
Gommern, 18, 23. 
Goniondz, 166, 167, 205. 
Gorken, 278, 285. 
Gorzen, 204. 
Gotha, 10. 
Gottingen, 24. 

Gottkendorf, 210, 211, 212, 216. 
Grabow, 30. 

Gransee, 40, 45 n. 2, 80. 
Graudenz, 111-113, 121, 123, 

133, 165, 169, 172, 177, 185, 

187, 188, 191, 319. 
Graventhien, 280, 286, 287, 299. 
Greussen, 9, 14. 
Grodno, 121. 
Gross-Lauth, 319. 
Gross -Mutz, 40. 
Gross- Oscheisleben, 26. 
Gross-Wanzleben, 26. 
Gruntofslicn, 243, 244, 248, 312. 
Guber, River, 176, 178, 180. 
Gumbinnen, 320. 
Gurzno, 143. 
Giistow, 48. 
Gustrow, 98. 
Guttstadt, 173, 175, 188, 209, 

211, 215, 217, 220, 228. 

Hagenau, 183, 184. 
Halberstadt, 26. 



Halle, 6, 14, 18-22, 32, 33. 
Hameln, 24, 60, 62, 67, 81, 99. 
Hanover, 114, 120 n. 1. 
Hardenbeck, 79. 
Harz Mountains, 7, 14, 15, 17, 

23, 80. 
Hasselfelde, 17. 
Havel, River, 38, 40, 42. 
Havelberg, 34. 
Heiligenstadt, 18. 
Heilsberg, 173, 228-230, 260. 
Hennigsdorf, 38. 
Herrnburg, 102. 
Hither-Pomerania, 88, 120 n. 1, 

200 n. 2. 
Hof, 231, 245. 
Hohenstein, 173, 195. 
Hussehnen, 274-276, 278, 284. 

Ilm, 2. 
Insterburg, 320. 

Jabel, 90. 

Jagodner-See, 175. 

Jalowka, 121. 

Janow, 199. 

Johannisburg, 195. 

Jonkendorf (or Jonkowo), 206, 

207, 210, 212, 218, 233-235, 

256 n. 
Jurburg, 121. 

Kalisch, 196 n. 

Kanditten, 276. 

Klein- Sausgarten, 254, 255, 262, 

268, 269, 271, 272, 294, 295, 

Kleines Haff, 47. 
Konigsberg, 136, 139, 143, 174, 

175, 177, 185 n., 187, 206, 217, 

229, 232, 233, 239-242, 270, 

271 n., 273, 277, 305, 319. 
Kreuzberg, 232, 252, 277, 282, 

285-287, 299. 
Kudsburg, 161-163. 
KntscMtten,, 272, 289-295, 298, 

300, 321, 323. 
Kyritz, 38. 

Lampasch, 241, 242, 272, 289, 

293, 295. 
Landgraben, 47. 
Landsberg, 224, 229, 231-233, 

237, 240-242, 244, 249, 252, 

260, 277, 299, 312. 
Langensalza, 2, 10. 
Langer-See, 248, 250, 253. 
Langwalde, 227. 
Lautenburg, 138, 142, 161, 163. 
Leipzig, 21, 31. 
Leissen, 287. 
Lessen, 191. 
Lewitz-Bruch, 96. 
Liebemiihl, 185. 
Liebenv/alde, 40. 
Liebstaat, 173, 174 n., 181, 183, 

185, 225-227. 
Lindow, 39, 58. 
Lobau, 186, 206, 252. 
Lockenitz, 55-57. 
Lomslia, 195. 
Lopaczin, 148. 
Lowentin-See, 175. 
Lowicz, 170, 196 n. 
Liibeck, 101-107, 122, 162, 163, 

191, 213. 
Liibz, 95, 96. 
Lychen, 41, 43, 78, 79. 

Magdeburg, 6, 9, 12-14, 19, 22- 
31, 33-35, 37-39, 60, 61, 65, 
69,81,86, 110, 122, 151, 194. 

JMakow, 151, 152. 

Malchin, 96. 

Malchow, 94. 

Mansfeld, 6, 14. 

Marienkirche, 48. 

Marienwerder, 111, 188, 191, 

Mauer-See, 175. 

Mdzewo, 153. 

Mecklenburg, 40, 59, 80, 82, 120 
n., 200 n. 2. 

Mehlsack, 181, 183, 184, 227. 

Melohnkeim, 241, 255, 270, 295. 

Memel, 174, 313, 320. 

Memel, River, 64, 189. 

Mensguth, 208. 



Merseburg, 19. 

Meseritz, 133. 

Mewe, 120. 

Mirow, 81. 

Mittenwalde, 57. 

Mlawa, 143, 164, 171, 173, 178, 

198, 203, 204. 
Modlin, 169, 201. 
Mohrungen, 183, 184, 185, 187, 

196, 205, 210, 220, 223, 226, 

268 n. 
Mollwitten, 269. 
Moszyn, 149, 150. 
Miihlhausen, 14, 197, 241, 242, 

273, 277, 319. 
Muritz-See, 86. 
Myszyniec, 202. 

Narew, 135, 143, 149, 151. 
Narew, River, 137 n., 144, 156- 

158, 166, 168, 169, 198, 201. 
Narien-See, 226. 
Nasielsk, 146, 147, 149. 
Naumburg, 19, 215, 217. 
Nechlin, 47. 
Neiden, 47. 
Neidenburg, 154, 164, 165, 173, 

178, 181, 199, 204. 
Neu- Brandenburg, 84. 
Neumark, 143, 203. 
Neustadt, 35-37, 39, 49, 96. 
Neu-Strelitz, 81, 88. 
Mederhof, 162. 
Memen, River, 204, 233, 240. 
Nienburg, 60. 
Nikolaiken, 179, 195. 
Nordenburg, 175, 190 n. 
Nordhausen, 6, 8, 13, 14, 19, 20. 
Nossentin, 90, 91. 
Nossentiner Wald, 91. 
Novemiasto, 147. 
Novogrod, 135, 166. 
Nur, 195, 201. 

Okull-See, 211. 

Okunin, 140, 142, 145, 160. 

Olita, 121. 

Omulew, 168, 169, 201. 

Open, 228. 

Oranienburg, 25, 38, 39, 40. 
Orschen, 252, 276, 282, 299. 
Ortelsburg, 131, 173, 174, 199, 

202, 208. 
Orzic, River, 168, 173. 
Ostcrode, 23, 24, 26, 113, 119 n., 

121, 123-125, 142, 169, 174, 

181, 182, 185, 186, 188, 211, 

218, 229, 252. 
Ostorf, 98. 
Ostrolenka, 137, 138, 143, 166, 

169, 195. 
Ostrometzko, 111 n. 

Paluki, Castle of, 154. 

Parchim, 96, 98. 

Paris, 193 n. 

Parkhansen, 227. 

Pasewalk, 34, 47, 55, 56, 80, 82. 

Pasmar, River, 281, 287 n. 2, 288, 

289 n. 1. 
Passarge, River, 195, 220, 222, 

224, 225, 228, 316. 
Passendorf, 20, 21. 
Passenheim, 173, 179, 203, 207, 

208, 244. 
Peene, River, 58, 59. 
Penslin, 88. 
Perguschen, 261. 
Persteln, 252. 
Pierlawsken, 163. 
Pissa, 205. 
Plassenburg, 60 n. 1. 
Plan, 96. 
Plane, 34, 35. 
Plauer-See, 88, 90. 
Plock, 120, 141, 171. 
Plonsk, 121, 142, 171. 
Pomerania, 92 n. 2, 291, 318. 
Pompicken, 285-288, 299, 321. 
Popowo, 145. 
Posen, 113, 116, 117, 133, 134, 

137, 193, 196 n. 
Potsdam, 36, 37, 39, 40. 
Praga, 136, 169, 201. 
Prasnysz, 121. 

Prenzlau, 24, 34, 37, 40, 41, 44- 
49, 52, 54-56, 67-69, 78-80, 84, 



Preussisch-Eylau. See Eylau. 
Preussisch - Holland, 181 - 184, 

226 231 277. 
Pultusk, 121, 131, 139, 140, 146. 

148-151, 153, 157, 167, 169, 

171, 196, 198, 201. 

Quedlinburg, 24. 
Querfurt, 6, 21. 

Randow, 47. 
Rastenburg, 195. 
Rathenow, 33, 35, 86, 88. 
Ratkau, 105, 106. 
Ratzeburg, 102. 
Rehna, 102. 
Reussendorf, 68 n. 2. 
Rheinsberg, 40. 
Rhin-Luchs, 35. 
Roggendorf, 102. 
Rohrmiihle, 241, 270. 
Romitten, 241. 
Rosenburg, 191. 
Rossel, 176, 180. 
Rossitten, 273, 274. 
Rosslau, 19, 33, 34, 80. 
Rostock, 83, 98. 
Rothenen, 253. 
Ruppin, 25, 33, 35, 36. 
Rypin, 139. 

Saale, River, 6, 19, 21, 22, 32, 

64, 204, 215, 321. 
Saalfeld, 181, 183, 188. 
Sandau, 30, 36, 40, 43. 
Sangershausen, 6. 
Scharzfeld, 17. 
Schippenbeil, 176, 180. 
Schlauthienen, 278, 281-283, 

285, 286, 299, 321, 322. 
Schlitt, 220, 225, 228 n. 
Schlodien, 184, 227. 
Schloditten, 254, 260 n. 1, 289, 

Schloss Vippach, 2, 11. 
Schmoditten, 241, 272, 273, 289, 

290, 292, 298, 300, 301, 309. 
Schneidemiihl, 111, 117 134, 


Schoernermark, 40, 41, 45, 46, 

48, 53, 57, 79. 
Schonemark, 45 n. 2. 
Schwartaii, 105. 
Schwarzenau, 191. 
Schwedfc, 43. 

Schwerin, 94, 96, 97, 100, 109. 
Schweriner-See, 97, 99. 
Seeburg, 175, 212. 
Seehausen, 47. 
Seesen, 23, 26. 
Sensburg, 180. 
Serpallen, 248, 255, 261, 262, 

268, 271. 
Seubersdorf, 220. 
Siberia, 297. 

Sierock, 168, 169, 171, 196, 201. 
Skaszewo, 150. 
SkervAtten, 283. 
Sochocin, 144, 148. 
Soldau, 121, 143, 158, 161, 163, 

164, 175, 213, 326. 
Soldau, River, 162. 
Sollseyn, 300. 

Sommerda, 2, 4 n. 2, 5, 6, 8. 
Sompolno, 120. 
Sondershausen, 2, 11-14. 
Sonna, River, 148. 
Spandau, 38, 40. 
Speck, 83. 
Spiegclberg, 216. 
Stablack, 278, 281. 
Stargard, 83. 
Stendal, 30. 
Stettin, 25, 28, 30, 34, 38, 39, 

43, 46, 55-58, 69, 110, 111, 

116, 117, 200. 
Stolberg,, 17. 
Stor, River, 94, 96, 97. 
Stralsund, 83, 98, 161. 
Strasburg, 138, 139, 161, 216,252. 
Strelitz, 80, 81, 97, 109. 
Strom, 50, 52. 
Strzegocin, 148, 149, 151. 

Tangermiinde, 86. 

Teltow, 39. 

Templin, 37, 44, 48, 57. 

Tenknitter See, 243, 247, 248. 



Thiesorter Mill, 52. 

Thorn, 118, 121, 134, 135, 137- 
140, 159, 192, 198, 199, 201, 
203-205, 209, 213, 326. 

Thiiringer Wald, 2. 

Thyrau, 221. 

Tilsit, 113. 

Torf-Bruch, 244, 247, 248. 

Torgau, 9 n. 1. 

Trave, 103, 106. 

Travemiinde, 106, 107. 

Tykocin, 166. 

Ucker, River, 46, 47, 49, 52, 54, 

Uckermiinde, 58. 
Ukra, River, 138, 142, 143, 145- 

148, 168. 
Unstrut, River, 2. 
Usedom Island, 58. 

Vippach, Schloss, 4 n 2.. 

Wackern, 278, 281, 284-286, 
321, 322. 

Waldkeim, 285. 

Walkmiihle, 253, 254, 259 n. 2, 
260 n. 1, 289. 

Waltersdorf, 222, 224, 225, 227, 
229 275 277. 

Waren, 81,^88, 90, 91, 94, 97, 101. 

Warlock, 220, 227. 

Warsaw, 117, 120, 121, 134, 136, 
137, 139-142, 144, 145, 158, 
159, 167-169, 171, 192, 198, 
201, 202, 204 n., 241, 242. 

Wartenburg, 173, 206-208, 225, 

Warthe, 117. 

Waschkeitter See, 244, 248. 
Webichtholz, 1. 
Wehlau, 189, 240, 306. 
Weimar, 1, 2, 11, 21, 80, 83 n. 1. 
Weissenfels, 19. 
Weissensee, 8. 
Welzin, 95. 
Wernigerode, 23. 
Willenau, 226. 
Willenberg, 139, 154, 179, 196- 

199, 202, 203, 205, 217, 226, 

Wismar, 100. 

Wittenberg, 19, 32-34, 99, 100. 
Wittstock, 34, 39, 81, 86. 
Wlocklawek, 139. 
Wolfenbiittel, 30. 
Wolfsdorf, 217, 220, 227. 
Worienen, 309, 315 n. 
Wormditt, 183, 229 n., 231. 
Wrietzen, 25. 
Wusen, 227. 
Wusterhausen, 35, 36, 39, 87. 

Zakroczyn, 140, 141, 159. 
Zechlin, 88. 

Zehdenick, 33, 37, 39-42. 
Zehsen, 252. 
Zerbst, 23, 80. 
Ziesar, 39, 80. 
Zinten, 224. 
Zippendorf, 98. 
Zohlen, 261. 

WAR 2 3 1915 

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