Military Review

The decisive battle of Preussisch-Eylau

210 years ago, 25-26 in January (7-8 in February) 1807, the Battle of Preussisch-Eylau was the most bloody battle of the Russian-Prussian-French war. One of the witnesses of this battle described its consequences in the following way: “Never before have so many corpses sowed such a small space. Everything was covered in blood. The snow that fell and continued to fall hid the bodies from the dejected look of the people. ” They say that Marshal Ney, looking at tens of thousands of dead and wounded, exclaimed: “What a slaughter, and without any good!” Both armies suffered great losses, but did not achieve victory in this decisive battle. Both sides officially announced their victory.

The situation before the battle. Battle of the Russian rearguard

Napoleon tried to cut off the Russian army from Russia and impose a decisive battle on it. The Russian army retreated in order to cover Königsberg and unite with the Prussian corps of Lestocq. In the course of this retreat, the Russian rearguard under the general command of Prince Bagration gave several successful battles to the French troops.

After the rearguard battle of Gough (January 25 1807), the Russian army, under the command of L. L. Bennigsen, left Landsberg at night and marched to Preisish-Eylau. The French army commanded by Napoleon continued to move in order to inflict a decisive defeat on the Russian troops.

The Russian rearguard was again headed by Prince Bagration. He was instructed to follow the detachment as slowly as possible, giving the army the opportunity to calmly pass the Preisish-Eylau and take up positions for the battle. On the morning of January 26 (February 7) 1807, the French troops continued to move. The French avant-garde under the beginning of Murat attacked the detachment of Bagration, located behind Landsberg. Russian troops stayed for more than an hour, then began to retreat.

Bagration's detachment stopped outside the village of Grungevhen. Russian troops settled into a comfortable position. Detachments of Baggovut and Markov stood between two lakes - Tenkniten and Waskater. The reinforcements sent by Bennigsen to Prince Bagration were located behind them: the 8 Division and several cavalry regiments. Ahead of Eylau is a detachment of Barclay de Tolly, who was supposed to cover the rest of the rear guard when they retreated through Eylau.

Murat, having discovered that the Russians had lined up for battle, stopped, awaiting the arrival of the main forces of the avant-garde. At 2 hours, French troops attacked Baggovut and Markov in three columns. Gun-gun fire of the Russian troops did not stop the brave enemy. The French were slim. Then Bagration ordered the Sofia and Pskov Regiments, with the support of the St. Petersburg Dragoon Regiment, to attack the enemy with hostility. Russian regiments without firing went to the enemy. After a fierce clash, the French were overthrown. They came to the aid of the second column. But at this time the Russian dragoons made a flank attack, the French were crushed and fled, losing the banner. The third French column attempted to rectify the situation, but was stopped by a shot fire. The French attack was repulsed.

After some time, when parts of the Augereau and Soult corps arrived, the French again launched an offensive. Murat attacked in the center, Augereau - on the left flank, through the village of Tenkniten, bypassing the lake, Soult - on the right flank, through the village of Vashkeiten. In all directions, Russian troops repulsed the enemy attack. In the center, the Pskov and Sophia Musketeers, the Moscow Grenadier and the 24 st Chasseurs fought bravely. On our right wing, His Majesty's Life-cuirassier, Elisavetgrad hussars, Kargopol and Ingermanlad dragoon regiments penetrated the French column and overturned the enemy. The French attacked our left flank were stopped by artillery fire of the 8 division. The French sent shooters against our batteries, but they were scattered by the hussars of the Izyum regiment.

The decisive battle of Preussisch-Eylau

The initial position of the Russian and French armies

Battle for Eylau

Murat personally led the third attack in the center, while the French went around the Russian flanks. Not being able to confront a numerous enemy, Bagration ordered to start a withdrawal. The French pursued our troops. They were met by a detachment of Barclay de Tolly. The French suffered heavy losses from rifle artillery fire, but continued to attack and broke into the city. As noted by the military historian A. I. Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky: “... blood flowed like rivers. The enemies attacked desperately, and met a fierce resistance. Mutual artillery fired in the streets at a distance of several fathoms one from another. ” With the stay of the new French troops, the situation became more and more complicated and the troops of Bagration and Barclay could not resist. Our troops left the city.

In this battle, Barclay de Tolly was seriously wounded in the arm (with a fracture). Interestingly, this injury contributed to the rise of a brave general. He went to St. Petersburg for treatment, where a meeting took place between the commander and Tsar Alexander Pavlovich. The general told the sovereign about the fighting, the situation in the army. During these conversations, Barclay became the confidant of the emperor. In two years, he will become a general of infantry and commander-in-chief in Finland, in three years he will become military minister, in five years he will lead the main army, which was to repel the invasion of the Great Napoleon’s army into Russia.

Leaving Eylau, Bagration was met by Benngsen, who gave him the 4 division and ordered him to recapture the city. The prince became the head of the division and personally led the infantry to attack. Russian soldiers silently followed the hero to attack. At the outpost, Prince Bagration proclaimed “Hurray!”, Repeatedly reinforced by troops and three columns, the army burst into the city: “... like fiery lava, the army spilled, chopped and cut the French on the streets and in the houses. The night stopped the battle. The city has remained behind us. ”

The French military man and writer Heinrich Jomini described the fight for the city as follows: “The battle in the city of Eylau itself was no less stubborn. Barclay de Tolly, supported by the Golitsyn division, twice occupied him even through the night darkness and only after the third attack gave way to the Legrand division. ”

When Bagration went to the army headquarters, leaving General Somov behind him, an annoying mistake occurred. The gathering of troops, who were scattered around the city, was announced in the side furthest from the enemy, which led to our army. As a result, when our troops headed for the assembly point, the city was left unguarded. The French took advantage of this and again occupied Aylau.

To protect himself from the enemy’s nightly attack, Bennigsen deployed the 4 Division between the army and the city. Napoleon, occupying Eylau, with the same purpose, put Legrand's division into the vanguard. This battle ended the day, the troops settled down to rest. Thus, the rearguard of Bagration held off superior enemy forces, ensuring that the main forces of the Russian army occupied positions at heights to the north of the city.

Both armies were preparing for a decisive battle. At the same time, the troops were very tired with marches and rearguard battles. Thus, they described the state of the opposing armies before the decisive battle of 27 in January (February 8) and 1807 of the year. French: “Never has the French army been in such a sad position. Soldiers every day on the march, every day at the bivouac. They go knee-deep in mud, without an ounce of bread, without a sip of water, unable to dry their clothes, they fall from exhaustion and fatigue ... The fire and smoke of the bivouacs made their faces yellow, emaciated, unrecognizable, they have red eyes, their uniforms are dirty and smoked.

The historian A. I. Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky wrote: “... in none of the wars that we heard before, we did not act in the winter time with such bitterness as in the era described by us. Russian and French prevailed frosts, deep snow, off-road. Only the darkness of the January nights put an end to bloodshed. Upon the termination of the battles, the soldiers rushed to the frozen ground for a brief rest, and fell asleep. When, in the twinkling of dawn, it was necessary to rise from an overnight stay, it was difficult to wake up the sleepy. In the races, they looked as if they were looking dumb, and the weaker, moving away from a small space from the camp site, lay down on the snow and fell asleep again. Nature came into its own, took over the forces of the brave, but did not exhaust the courage of the French and Russians, ready to fight to the last drop of blood. "

Plans and strengths of the parties. Location of troops

Bennigsen planned in a defensive fight to bleed the French army and prevent its breakthrough to Koenigsberg. In this regard, the Russian troops settled down northeast of Preussisch-Eylau, resting their right wing on the village of Schloditten, and their left to the manor house of Southgarten. The length of the front of the army Bennigsen was 4,5 km. Thus, Russian troops occupied a position that simultaneously covered two roads - one to Königsberg, and the other to Friedland, leading to the Russian border. The two lines of the front converged at an obtuse angle one verst from Eylau. At the top of this corner was built a powerful battery armed with 70 guns. A battery for 60 guns was erected near the village of Schloditen, and Southusgar had a battery for 40 guns.

The Russian army was built in divisions, having deployed battalions in the first line with arrows in front, in the second - battalion columns, in the third - a general reserve. Two light artillery companies were placed next to the battery at Schloditten, and the rest in the intervals between the regiments. The central battery was covered from the front by the Moscow and Shlisselburg regiments. Napoleon failed to locate this battery in a timely manner, and this circumstance became fatal for the Augereau corps. General Rezvy was appointed head of the entire Russian artillery. The cavalry was divided into three groups, which were located behind the right flank, center and left flank, being under the general command of General Golitsyn.

The right wing of the Russian army was commanded by General Tuchkov, the center was Saken, the left wing was General Osterman-Tolstoy. The village Serpalen ahead of Sausgarten defended Baggovut detachment. Four divisions - 5-I, 8-I, 3-I and 2-I, having in the middle Markov's detachment, were located in two lines. The reserves were in two places: behind the left wing of the 14 division of Kamensky, and behind the center of Dokhturov and Bagration with the 7 and 4 divisions (it was transferred from the avant-garde to the rear at the beginning of the battle).

The total number of Russian army was about 68 thousand people with 400 guns. In addition, Lestococa’s Prussian corps was expected on 8000 people. He should have joined the right wing of the army. Thus, the entire location of the Russian army stemmed from the desire to provide active defense.

Napoleon Bonaparte concentrated Preussisch-Eylau more than 70 thousand people and 450 guns. The French commander-in-chief planned to strike the main blow on the left wing of the Russian army in order to cut off the enemy’s communication with Russia. The overall battle plan included the task of surrounding the Russian army and destroying it. To do this, keeping the Russian troops from the front, Napoleon set the task for Ney and Dav to bypass both flank of the Russian position. Davu should have attacked the left Russian flank, and Ney bypass the right flank, at Schloditten. In addition, Ney had the order not to allow the connection with Bennigsen of Lestoc Corps, to cut off the Russians from Konigsberg.

Three divisions of Soult took up positions to the left of the road to Konigsberg, making up the left wing of the French troops. Ahead of Eylau was the division of Legrand, on the left flank of the corps - the division of Leval, behind him the light cavalry division of Lasal, on the right flank - the division of St. Iller. The remaining forces formed the center and the right wing (the Orgereau corps, the guards and cavalry) and had to attack the left wing of the Russians at the approach of the Davout corps and, overturning them, went to the rear. Together with Davout, advancing through Serpalen on Southgarten, the division of St. Iller, the corps of Augereau and the whole cavalry were to operate. Against the Russian left flank, Napoleon thus concentrated three-quarters of his forces. At the same time, Napoleon at the beginning of the battle had about 50 thousand people with 300 guns. The French were waiting for the troops Ney and Davout (about 25 thousand people).

Napoleon I on the battlefield near Eylau. French artist Antoine-Jean Gros

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
Russian-Prussian-French War 1806 – 1807

Russian-Prussian-French War 1806 – 1807.
As a military psychosis led Prussia to a military-political catastrophe
How Napoleon destroyed the Prussian army
Campaign in Poland. How Napoleon tried to crush the Russian army
Battles at Sokhochin-Kolosomb and Charnovo
The victory of the Russian army in Pultusk
Battle of Golymin
Start of the 1807 campaign of the year. Battle of Morungen
Battle of Bergfried
Rearguard battles of the Russian army. The Battle of Goth

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  1. Olgovich
    Olgovich 27 January 2017 07: 15
    The main page of the history of the Russian army. Russia tried to defeat the enemy even before it invaded its borders. And the leaders of the army are the same who defended the country in World War II-Bagration, Barclay de Tolly.
    1. kalibr
      kalibr 27 January 2017 07: 51
      Now there is a beautiful monument to 4 generals and an interesting museum in which there are many simply unique exhibits. But the city itself ... the outback is something else!
      1. Cat
        Cat 27 January 2017 12: 20
        God forbid we know the place of the battle and remember the feat of Russian soldiers!
        How many places and the feat of Russian weapons we do not know! Holy are the words "the war has not ended until the last soldier is buried!"
        Ps I write "Russian weapons", "Russian soldiers", but nevertheless? Bagration - Georgian, Barclay de Tolly - Ostezian German, etc.? Do not twist cool, and their homeland is Russia! And they fought and thousands of Russian men in a foreign land, but for the interests of their homeland!
        1. Spnsr
          Spnsr 27 January 2017 22: 35
          Quote: Kotischa
          And they fought and thousands of Russian men in a foreign land, but for the interests of their homeland!

          it depends on how you look!
          but they shared Europe! creating the map that we literally see now ...
      2. Igor V
        Igor V 27 January 2017 22: 04
        Quote: kalibr
        Now there is a beautiful monument to 4 generals and an interesting museum in which there are many simply unique exhibits. But the city itself ... the outback is something else!

        Come on you guys. The city stands on the very border and no one will ever build here industrial giants to grow. Now Bagrationovsk lives at the expense of a border crossing, trade with Polish shuttles and looks quite good compared to other cities in the Kaliningrad region, where Soviet industry has been eliminated in the bud and there are almost no means of livelihood.
      3. magosvel
        magosvel 30 January 2017 00: 19
        In Bagrat (cadet) there is a monument to three generals, not four.
  2. novel66
    novel66 27 January 2017 07: 51
    were the French warriors even where, where did everything go?
    1. Roman 11
      Roman 11 27 January 2017 18: 06
      Quote: novel xnumx
      were the French warriors even where, where did everything go?

      They took a great revenge for the 1870-71th, so much so that then they restored their population for a long time. Demographics before 1940 was not a joke, since then they got sick of fighting seriously, it’s better to let blacks .... and then the gallant continuity was violated and hello.
  3. Ham
    Ham 27 January 2017 08: 33
    a battle in which both sides attribute victory to themselves ...
  4. ukoft
    ukoft 27 January 2017 09: 38
    good were the generals at that time in Russia. not allowed to defeat and defeat themselves, unlike the Austrian and Prussian. Is it training and education, or was a career formed with respect to military qualities instead of protectionism? lack of bone in thinking? it seems like the Prussian generals were still those old men from the time of the 7 year war. what did the Austrians have?
    1. Cartalon
      Cartalon 27 January 2017 12: 04
      There was enough protection then, but wars too, because everyone had fresh combat experience, but later they began to fight less, and career advancement went strictly according to length of service, with a few exceptions, and the generals became mostly old servicemen with the main principle if something did not work out
    2. Roman 11
      Roman 11 27 January 2017 17: 59
      Quote: ukoft
      good were the generals at that time in Russia. not allowed to smash and smash themselves

      It’s for sure, in the WWI, our semi-aged generals were just like the Prussian times of 1806 .... but by the level of training there was nothing to argue - it wasn’t there, the maneuvers came down to walking in endless expanses, followed by a parade, a liturgy, a feast and other general paraphernalia. Our soldiers paid dearly for this in the war, so much so that they later completely abandoned the senseless massacre, fraternizing with the enemy, sabotaging orders, surrendering, betraying the oath, etc. As Napoleon used to say, from the great to the ridiculous, only one step.
  5. parusnik
    parusnik 27 January 2017 15: 07
    Preisish-Eylau is now the city of Bagrationovsk in the Kaliningrad region. He was on a business trip, he visited. The town, admittedly, is quite small, but very nice and quite clean. In Bagrationovsk there is an alley of Soviet leaders. Someone carefully moved the busts of the Soviet and Communist leaders into one place. The development in the city so far is mainly Prussian. And, judging by the quality and condition of the houses, it will not change for another 50 years, no less. The museum of local lore is located in the church. An interesting exposition. The population is not big. It seems that everyone knows each other.
  6. Roman 11
    Roman 11 27 January 2017 18: 15
    Perhaps looking ahead, I apologize, but from childhood stuck in my memory - Napoleon’s headquarters was placed in the cemetery! and in one episode of the battle he and the headquarters were covered with a shower of nuclei. It is already the next day, and in general, of course, morally and physically worn out armies give the battle a crime.
  7. samarin1969
    samarin1969 27 January 2017 22: 24
    Surprisingly, this serious battle, which became glorious for Russia and hit Napoleon’s pride, is practically not studied in the school course.