Rearguard battles of the Russian army
After the battle of Bergfried and the retreat of the Russian army from Jankov, the French emperor and commander-in-chief Napoleon Bonaparte did not abandon the idea of cutting off the army of Bennigsen from Russia. He ordered the Soult and Davout corps to go to Gutstat and Heilsberg, bypassing the Russian army from the right wing; Ney's troops to go to the left flank, to Liebstatt, in order to cut off Lestok’s corps from the main forces of Bennigsen; Corps Augereau, the Murat guards and reserve cavalry followed in the footsteps of the Russian army. Bernadotte, who, due to the capture of French couriers by the Russians, did not receive the plan of the operation and took the troops back, immediately ordered to rush to join up with the main forces of the French army.
January 23 movement of two hostile armies continued. Prince Bagration, who commanded the Russian rearguard, divided it into three detachments. They covered the withdrawal of one of the three columns into which the army of Bennigsen divided. The detachment of the right wing was commanded by General Baggovut, the center was Markov, the left wing was Barclay de Tolly.
The Baggovut detachment included Sophia, Belozersky, and Starooskolsky Musketeers, 4 of the Chasseurs and Alexandria Hussars, an artillery company and Cossacks. Moving a few miles from Yankovo, Baggovut stopped as the main Russian forces retreated very slowly due to bad roads and weather conditions, and the French were approaching, they needed to be suspended. When the French approached Baggovut’s position, our hussars overthrew the front lines of the enemy. The French had to stop and line up in battle formations. Having completed the construction, the enemy went on the attack. Sophia and Belozersky regiments repelled the first attacks of the French, at this time the Alexandria hussars and the Cossacks made successful raids on the flanks.
Having repulsed the enemy’s first attacks, Baggovut began to withdraw troops, first cavalry, as the road went through the forest, which deprived the cavalry of mobility, then the infantry. Leaving the forest, the hussars discovered a French column, which was used to intercept our detachment. Count Lambert and the Alexandria Hussars regiment rushed at the enemy, the Starooskolsky Musketeer Regiment hurried after the cavalry. The French could not stand the attack of our cavalry and retreated. In the meantime, the rearguard of the Baggovut detachment, Belozersky and the 4 th jäger regiment, emerged from the forest. The French cavalry surrounded our soldiers, a stubborn battle ensued. The witness of the battle, Prince Bagration, informed Chief Commander Bennigsen: “Without confusion, making fierce gunfire, Belozersky and 4 th Jäger Regiment fought off cavalry attacks, went to bayonets several times and cleared their way.” Our squadron was assisted by two squadrons of the Alexandrian hussars, which were sent to the rescue of the rearguard.
In the meantime, the Baggovut detachment was reinforced by His Majesty the Life Guards, the Order and Little Russia Cuirassiers, the Pskov Dragoons and the 7 Regiment of Chasseurs. Baggovut stopped, built infantry in three lines, and put the cavalry on the flanks. Having discovered the strengthening of the Russian rear guard, the French stopped the attacks, waiting for the rest of the troops to approach. The battle was limited to a gun-gun exchange. Having won time for the army, the Baggovut detachment continued moving, hiding behind cavalry (the places went open). The French cavalry followed our troops, maneuvered, but did not dare to attack.
Early in the morning of January 24, Baggovut’s detachment reached the village of Varlak, where it linked up with the Markov detachment, which avoided violent clashes with the enemy. At dawn 24, when Bennigsen's army was on the march from Wolfsdorf to Landsberg, Prince Bagration led the troops of Baggovut and Markov to Wolfsdorf. The Elisavetgrad hussar regiment under the command of Yurkovsky and two Cossack regiments were left in front of this village, in the village itself stood the 4 th regiment. When considerable forces of the enemy accumulated against the village, Bagration ordered the hussars, Cossacks and rangers to withdraw to the main forces of the rear guard.
Having occupied Wolfsdorf, the commander of the French avant-garde, Murat, sent two columns bypassing the right wing of the Bagration detachment. Here in the forest, the defenses were kept by the 5 and 25 of the chasseurs of Gogel and Vuich. A stubborn battle ensued. The French tried to knock our soldiers out of the forest, the Russians steadfastly fought off. All attacks were repulsed, as the French could not use artillery, and the Russian soldiers occupied a convenient position. One of the French columns boldly entered the forest, but Vuitch with the 25 regiment went into a bayonet attack, which was supported by the hussars of Count Lambert and the Cossacks, who got into the enemy column. The French retreated. At the same time, our troops repelled the French attack on the left wing as well. The French cavalry went around our troops, but was counterattacked by the Courland Dragoon regiment under the command of Prince Dolgorukov. The French were rejected. Having suffered a defeat on the flanks, Murat decided to confine himself to an artillery exchange of fire, waiting for the approach of the other troops.
After standing for several hours and giving the main forces the opportunity to calmly continue the march, Bagration began to withdraw its troops. At the same time, Prince Bagration retreated in good order and calmly, at times he stopped. A distinctive feature of the troops retreating under his command was calm and order. At the same time, Bagration acted quickly, but did not rush anyone. As noted by the military historian A. I. Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky: "The hero's majestic composure was poured into the troops he led, which had boundless power of attorney for him."
The French were pushing to the rear of Prince Bagration, trying to bypass him, intercept his way. However, in vain. Peter Ivanovich everywhere ahead of the enemy. The intrigues of the French reflected the Elisavetgrad hussars and the Courland dragoon regiments with the equestrian artillery company Yermolov. Passing the village of Open and entering the large forest, Bagration covered up with all the Chasseurs regiments, leaving the Ekaterinoslav Grenadier and Pskov Musketeer Regiments in reserve. Our shooters successfully repulsed all enemy attacks. The night detachment Bagration spent in the village Kashaunen.
At dawn 25 January, the movement of troops was continued. The French pursued the Russians with light troops, our troops successfully fired back and reached the village of Fraundorf, where they joined the detachment of Barclay de Tolly. Barclay's detachment made up the rearguard of Bagration's troops, while Baggovut and Markov's detachments continued their march to Landsberg, where the army assembly point was at that time.
Bagration was pleased with his troops and especially highlighted the rangers in the report to Bennigsen: “According to the rank of rangers at every step, there are dangers, incredible work, deprivation of all benefits, even the apartments themselves for the rest of the campaign, the rangers have the right to patronage; My petition with you concerning the reward of their merit is my most sacred duty. "
Source: Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky, “Description of the Second War of Emperor Alexander with Napoleon in 1806 and 1807.”
The actions of the squad Barclay de Tolly
The detachment of Mikhail Barclay de Tolly, who was the left rearguard of the army, had: Izyumsky and Olviopolsky hussars, a battalion of the Konno-Polsky, Kostroma Musketeers, 1, 3 and 20, hunter artillery, two Cossack regiments, equestrian artillery, and artillery rifle artillery, and two Cossack regiments; a company of Yashvil.
Early in the morning of January 23. 1807. Barclay de Tolly’s detachment was attacked by French cavalry. Izyumsky and Olviopolsky hussar regiments, reinforced by the Cossacks and the horse artillery company, withstood the enemy strike and themselves went on the attack several times. Our cavalry was also supported by the 30 th Regiment of Chasseurs and part of the 20 Regiment. Russian arrows sat down in the bushes on our right wing and fired accurately at the French cavalry. Enemy infantry repeatedly tried to knock out our shooters, but without success. Only once did the French almost succeed. However, Colonel Bistrom with the rangers of the 20 regiment drove the enemy away.
Holding positions until 10 hours, Barclay's troops began to withdraw. They were covered by a horse artillery company. At the same time, the 3 th jäger regiment was surrounded by French cavalry. Barclay de Tolly sent him to the aid of the battalion of the Horse-Polish regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Zhigulin and the Cossack regiment of the Ilovaisky 9. They overturned the French and rescued the rangers. “Then,” Barclay de Tolly noted in his report, “I continued to retreat, slowly and in the best order, but in the strong fire of the enemy, who left all the heights left behind by numerous artillery.”
During the retreat, Barclay's detachment was reinforced by five infantry battalions and several cavalry squadrons. At night, the detachment stopped to rest. Barclay de Tolly, in a report to the command, noted the valor of the troops: “I can’t quite praise with what courage, courage and composure the troops of my unit, in view of the numerous enemy, with every order, and without haste, made any movement ordered to them. I am sure that the enemy, who had all the means to break my squad, was solely retained from further attempts through this meritorious order. ”
On the next day, January 24, Prince Bagration ordered Barclay de Tolly to retreat no further than Fraundorf, and then wait for the rest of the army’s rearguard forces to arrive. In the first half of the day, the French did not force the Barclay de Tolly detachment, planning to intercept him from Launau, where troops were sent at night. However, the Russian commander learned about the movement of the enemy troops from the movements directed in different directions and with rapid movement ahead of the French troops. The French tried to cut off and destroy the rearguard of the Russian detachment, which consisted of four squadrons of the Olviopol hussars, a huntsman battalion, a Cossack regiment of the Ilovaisky 9 and two guns. Russian soldiers knocked over the enemy. Later, the French pursued our troops, trying to gain a convenient moment to attack, but did not succeed. At night, the fighting was suspended. Barclay detachment is located at Fraundorf.
Fight at Goth
On January 25, Bagration’s troops marched towards Landsberg, Barclay de Tolly’s detachment made up his rearguard. The beginning of the march was calm. In the area of Gough, Barclay received an order from Bennigsen to keep the defense until the army took up a position with Landsberg. Mikhail Bogdanovich Barclay de Tolly occupied the village of Zinken by the detachment of Ivan Semenovich Dorokhov: the 1 battalion of the 20 th rangers regiment, the 4 squadron of the Izyumsky Hussars and the 2 equestrian guns of the lieutenant Sukhozanet. The remaining troops - 11 battalions, 16 squadrons, 10 equestrian guns, were located on the heights behind the creek, south of Gough.
About three o'clock in the afternoon Joachim Murat approached Zinken with Klein's dragoon division and Opu cuirassiers (30 squadrons) and attacked the Russian squadron. After a stubborn battle, having lost almost all of the cannon’s servants, Dorokhov, under the pressure of superior enemy forces, withdrew over the stream and joined the main forces. According to the testimony of prisoners with the French troops attended the emperor himself.
Despite the great superiority of the enemy, Barclay de Tolly decided to continue the fight. “In any other case,” he said, “I would have retired beforehand, so that with such inequality in strength, not to lose all the details (fr. Détachement, in translation - detachment, division - author) my uselessly, but through officers who I sent to the main apartment, I inquired that most of the army had not yet been assembled, was on the march, and no position was taken. In the reasoning of everything, I considered it better with debt, with the whole detachment, to sacrifice myself to such a strong enemy, rather than retreat, to attract the enemy after myself and through that expose the whole army to danger. ” In addition, Bennigsen assured Barclay de Tolly that reinforcement was coming soon.
Thus, Barclay de Tolly with 5-thousand. squad met the onslaught of superior enemy forces. The general placed the Izyumsky hussars and the horse artillery at the bridge through which the French troops were to pass. The second line was occupied by the Olviopolsky hussars, the 20 th jäger and Kostroma musketeer regiments; on the right flank it was located on the wooded hill of the 1 th Jäger Regiment. The 3 th jäger regiment was sent to the left wing, to the forest, but there were already French arrows. To ensure that he could withdraw, Barclay de Tolly reinforced the 3 th Huntsman Regiment with the 20 Regiment.
The first attempt of the French to force the river was repelled by a frame fire. Then the enemy pulled the artillery and forced our troops to retreat. The horse rangers of the French forced the river. Dorokhov attacked them with hussars and Cossacks, throwing the enemy across the river. The success of the attack seduced the Olviopol Hussars and continued the attack behind the bridge. The French overthrew them, and our retreating troops mixed the Izyum regiment. However, Yashvil, who put in order his equestrian artillery company, stopped the French cavalry, which pursued our hussars. Dorohov in this fight was contused.
The French again went on the offensive, overturned our hussars and hit the Kostroma infantry regiment under the command of Prince Shcherbatov. Our infantry withstood three attacks, repelling the onslaught of the French cavalry with fire. After each attack, the Kostroma regiment retreated in order, and when the French approached, they met them with rifle fire. Meanwhile, the Izyumsky and Olviopolsky hussars came to their senses, attacked the French dragoons, and overturned them. Then they hit the French cuirassiers who came to the aid of the dragoons. The cuirassiers, who have not yet participated in the battle, were in full force and crushed our hussars, who suffered losses and were tired of previous attacks. Pursued by the French, they crushed the Kostroma regiment, which had previously departed in perfect order. The French were able to destroy our infantry. “I had regret,” reported Barclay de Tolly, “to see the almost complete destruction of this matchless regiment.” The French seized the guns of the Kostroma regiment and its flags, except for one that had beaten off the hussar Tomilovsky.
Not being able to continue to hold the position and under the threat of the complete destruction of our squad, Barclay de Tolly decided to withdraw the squad to Gough and there to hold on to the complete exhaustion of forces. The 1 th Jäger Regiment, which fought on the right wing, was cut off from the main forces, several times repelled the enemy’s attacks during the retreat, but was eventually dispersed by the French cavalry and escaped in the forest. The 3 th and 20 th jäger regiments defending on the left flank endured strong enemy attacks and retreated in order.
The troops of Barclay de Tolly took the second position beyond Gough. At this time, reinforcements arrived - five battalions under the command of Prince Dolgorukov 5. A detachment of Dolgorukov located on the right wing, and Barclay took 3 th and 20 th chasseurs regiments on the left wing, so that the French did not cut off our troops from Landsberg. The French, whom Marshal Soult’s infantry approached at that time, launched an attack against the left flank of the Russians, trying to cut off the retreat path. While Barclay's troops held back the enemy, the French attacked Dolgorukov’s detachment. During the battle, His Majesty and the Order of the Cuirassier regiments reinforced him. The night stopped the battle.
Thus, the French could not crush our rearguard. After a stubborn fight to darkness, the rearguard Barclay de Tolly retired to Landsberg. Loss of troops unknown. Barclay was wounded the next day, and did not have time to gather information about his unit. And the decisive battle of Preussisch-Eylau, which took place soon, eclipsed the previous rearguard affairs.
Barclay de Tolly wrote about the meaning of this battle: “I and my comrades, in this case, fought bravely, it remains to calm down because our position was held, and therefore the army was defended from the sudden onset of all enemy forces: our goal, and if this succeeded, then all the victims were rewarded. I give to your consideration whether it was done by us or not? And I hope that you will not leave to pay us justice. ”
French troops stayed overnight on the battlefield. Napoleon, after three days of stubborn fighting with the Russian rear-guard, decided that Bennigsen planned to give a decisive battle at Landsberg. Therefore, he ordered the troops of Soult and Davout to go to the right wing, to the corps of Nei - to the left. Napoleon himself planned to attack from the front with the troops of Augereau, the guard and the Murat cavalry.
The Russian army left Landsberg on the same night and moved to Preussisch-Eylau. Bennigsen hoped there to connect with the body of Lestocq. Bagration again led the rearguard. He was ordered to go as quietly as possible, giving the army the opportunity to pass through Eylau. The troops of Prince Bagration again waged stubborn rearguard battles with the French army.
Napoleon, learning about the movement of the army of Bennigsen, canceled the previous instructions. Ney still had to cut Lestok’s corps from the Russian army, and Davout - to bypass the left flank of our army.