Military Review

The Battle of La Rothiere

1 February 1814, the second major battle of the French campaign 1814, took place. The intruders at the end of 1813 - the beginning of 1814. to France, allied forces under the command of Prussian field marshal Gebhard von Blucher in the area of ​​the village of La Rotherier (175 km east of Paris) defeated the French army under Napoleon.


Battle of Brienne ended in victory for the army of Napoleon. Blucher's troops retreated to Tran. Further Blücher did not retreat. U Tran Blucher has located the body of Osten-Sacken. Napoleon moved the main apartment to Brienne Castle. French troops occupied the villages of Dianville and La Rothière, the main forces remained with Brienne. In this arrangement, the French remained for two days. Napoleon wondered what to do next. It did not make sense to attack, given the small number of forces in comparison with the enemy.

Located between the roads leading to Paris through the valleys of the Seine and the Marne, Napoleon controlled the situation. He could warn the Allied forces wherever they went. French troops occupied a central position and could support detachments at Trois or Chalon. Napoleon believed that the Allied forces would advance in the direction of Troyes. Therefore, he ordered Marshal Mortier and the Old Guard to stay there at Troyes. At the same time, he ordered General Gamelin, who formed the 2-th Reserve Division in Troyes, to bring its number to 8 thousand people. And to General Gerard with the 1-th Reserve Division, deploy at Pina, on the road from Brienne to Troy. Thus, Napoleon planned to gather about 25-30 thousand people under the leadership of Mortier. In addition, from the side of Spain, an approach of 15 thousand soldiers was expected.

Together with the forces of Mortier, Napoleon had about 80 thousand bayonets and sabers. Napoleon also ordered Marshal Macdonald to go to Chalon. In the rear, the Duke Valmi was to prepare parts of the National Guard, block bridges with barricades and prepare food. Thus, Napoleon continued preparations for repelling the enemy invasion. However, his orders could bring success only with further indecision of the actions of the allied armies.

Schwarzenberg originally believed that Napoleon was planning to strike at Joanville, and at Brienne only auxiliary French forces. Therefore, the troops of Wrede and Wittgenstein were left at Joanville. The remaining troops of the Main Army were also inactive. At the military council 17-18 (29-30) of January, in the presence of the Russian and Prussian monarchs, it was decided to concentrate in Bar-sur-Both only the Austrian Giulaya corps (14 thou. People) and the Württemberg corps of the crown prince of Württemberg Wilhelm (12 K. ).

However, the situation changed the next day. The armies of Blucher and Schwarzenberg became close. Bavarian General Carl-Philip von Wrede, who knew that Napoleon’s main forces had been gathered from Brienne, decided to turn on Soul to take part in the upcoming battle. In this way he violated the order of Schwarzenberg, who ordered Wittgenstein and Wrede to act in the direction of Saint-Dizier and Vitry, contributing to the Prussian corps of York. Wittgenstein, after taking Vassi, was instructed by Schwarzenberg to support York, and spoke in the direction indicated.

The location of the troops on 27 January 1814 year.

Forces of the parties and the location of troops

1 February was decided to attack Napoleon. Blucher received reinforcements and was supposed to lead the battle. This was due to the decision of the Russian and Prussian monarchs, who believed that Blucher was already well acquainted with the place of the future battle. In addition, Schwarzenberg did not chase a dangerous honor to fight Napoleon.

On the left flank, the Austrians of Giulai were to attack the villages of Dianville and Unienville, which were located on both banks of the River Ob opposite each other. In the center, from the south, the Russian troops of Osten-Sacken, Shcherbatov and Olsufyev (about 22 thousand people) attacked the village of La Rothier. East of La Rothiera, the Württemberg corps advanced into the village of La Jibri. On the right flank of the highway from Sulene, the Austro-Bavarian corps of Wrede was supposed to hit (26 thousand). Reserves were located at the heights of Tranne under the general command of Barclay de Tolly: the 3 Infantry Corps of Raevsky (6 thousand), the Guards Corps of Yermolov (12 thousand), the cavalry corps of Vasilchikov and Golitsyn (6 thousand). Still further was the Russian-Prussian Guard and reserve artillery under the overall command of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich and Miloradovich. Nearby was the Austrian Corps Colloredo, which received the task to occupy Vandevr. In total, Blucher, along with his reserves, had 80-100 thousand people on hand. In order to distinguish the allied forces of six different states from the enemy, it was ordered to have a white armband on their left sleeve.

Napoleon had about 40 thousand people. The infantry was located in the first line, the cavalry in the 2, the guard in reserve. Napoleon himself is located in the center behind the village of La Rothier, with Nei's Young Guard (10-12 thousand people), and the Nansuchi cavalry (8 thousand horsemen). The key point in the center, the village of La Rothière, was occupied by the Victor corps (about 6 thousand people). The left flank of the village of La Jibri turned north to the road to Brienne, defended the corps of Marmont (7 thousand people). The right flank of the French army relied on the village of Dienville, it was defended by Gerard’s corps (7 thousand).


The offensive began late and developed slowly. Waited for the deployment of all troops. In addition, it was sleet and immediately melted, eroding dirt roads. Dirt and in places swampy area delayed the movement of troops. The battle began only after one o'clock in the afternoon. Giulaya's column attacked the enemy, occupied Unienville and the bridge. However, to capture Dianvil on the move failed. The French had fierce resistance, and the battle continued until 11 hours of the evening. Gerard began to withdraw troops only at midnight. Thus, the Austrian corps could not break through Dianvil, and was isolated from the main battle.

Emperor Alexander I, who at the very beginning of the battle arrived at the height of Trann, ordered the Vasilchikov cavalry to attack the French batteries. However, the swampy terrain did not allow the Russian cavalry to reach the enemy. The Russian cavalry came under heavy fire from the French artillery and was counterattacked by the French cavalry. Hussars Lansky had to move. Then the Russian emperor ordered the forward Nikitin artillery. Because of the muddiness of the terrain, the guns had to be driven using double sleds. The servants also strengthened. Therefore, it was possible to push half the artillery to the positions - 36 guns. Nikitin opened the guns and opened heavy fire on the enemy.

Noticing that the Russian guns were ahead of other troops and were left without cover, the French decided to hit them. In the attack went Guards cavalry Nansuti. However, now the French cavalry was bogged down in the lowlands and suffered great damage from the accurate fire of the Russian artillery. The French retreated in great frustration.

Under a veil of brief snowfall with a fairly strong wind, Russian infantry vehicles with the support of cavalry broke into La Rotherier. In stubborn hand-to-hand combat, Saken's troops captured part of the village. Napoleon, noticing the retreat of Victor's corps, sent him to the aid of Marshal Oudinot with the division of the Young Guard, General Rothenburg. He himself led another division to the aid of the left wing, where the Austro-Bavarian corps Wrede was successfully advancing. In turn, Blucher, along with the chief of his staff, Gneisenau, led the Paskevich Grenadier Division to battle. “Come on guys!” Shouted Blucher, and the Russian grenadiers rushed into battle.

At the same time, the Russian cavalry was successfully operating. General Vasilchikov led two of his divisions to the attack, overturned the enemy cavalry, broke through the French line and captured the 24-gun battery. The French troops covering it departed to Brienne. In this attack, the Mariupol hussars and the Courland dragoon regiments especially distinguished themselves.

The Saken Corps, supported by the troops of Olsufyev, the 2 Grenadier Division and the Austrian Grimmer Brigade (sent to the aid of Guilay), fully occupied La Rottier by the evening’s 8. Part of the division of Guillaume Duhem (Duhem) and 3 guns was captured.

Napoleon at this time solved the problem of withdrawal. To cover up their retreat, he organized a Young Guard counterattack. The division of Rothenburg at night went to the counter. She was greeted with powerful rifle salvoes, but the French rushed through a hail of bullets into the village and reached the church. But here they were met by a counter-counterattack of the Astrakhan and Little-Russian Grenadier Regiments, supported by the rest of the 2 Grenadier Division, the Olsufyev and the Austrians of Grimmer. The French were forced to retreat.

Battle plan for La Rottier 20 January (February 1) 1814

On the right wing, the Württemberg Corps at the beginning of the battle knocked out the French riflemen from the forest and went to the village of La Jibri. Bad roads made it difficult to transfer artillery. However, Crown Prince Wilhelm, wanting to develop initial success, ordered the Schokmayer brigade to go on the attack. Despite the fact that the French artillery occupied the most important heights near the village, the Württemberg corps acted successfully and captured La Jibri. However, Marshal Victor, realizing the importance of this point - his capture allowed the Crown Prince Wuerttemberg's troops to provide the center with the right wing, - led to the counterattack one of their brigades, with the support of several batteries. The Württemberg withstood the onslaught of a strong enemy. Prince Wilhelm, not hoping to hold the village for a long time, asked Blucher for reinforcements.

But Blucher and Gneisenau believed that the main thing was at La Rothiera, so the reserves were sent to help Osten-Sacken. General Toll, whom the crown prince of Württemberg sent to ask for help, went personally to the sovereign Alexander Pavlovich. By the personal order of the emperor in 5 hours, the 1-I Grenadier Division was sent to help Blücher, one of its brigades was to support the Württemberg corps. Russian grenadiers not only helped to keep La Jibri, but also to develop the offensive. The corps of Prince Württemberg, having broken the stubborn resistance of the enemy, captured Petit Menil. After Saken knocked down the enemy for La Rothier and the corps Wrede continued the successful offensive, the cavalry of the Wurttemberg corps struck the left flank of the French, beat off the 11 guns and continued to pursue the French towards Brienne.

The Austro-Bavarian Corps under the heavy fire of French artillery (40 guns) and the attacks of cavalry Dumerian, lined up in battle formations and began the assault on the village of Schomenil. The bayonet attack ended in success, and in 4 hours the French were driven out of the village. The French emperor marched to help Marmon with one of the Young Guard divisions under Meunier. However, Marmont was already retreating. Using the blizzard, he sent a wagon train and part of artillery to Brienne. Then other parts began to depart. The Austro-Bavarian cavalry pursued them, repulsed the 3 guns. The French suffered defeat at Morvilie. Austro-Bavarian cavalry seized 14 guns here. Napoleon himself, who was near the seized battery, was nearly captured by the Austrian hussars.

Napoleon, learning about the failure of the troops on the left wing and in the center, ordered a retreat. The commander of the artillery, General Drouot, received an order to burn La Rotherier to detain the Allied forces. The guard under Ney immediately went to Lemon. Marmont is in front of Brienne. Udine went to Brienne. Gérard had withdrawn from the position already at 12 at night and retreated down the river Both. The cavalry covered the retreating infantry. The darkness and heavy snowfall helped the French to retreat successfully. On January 21 (February 2), French troops, under the cover of cavalry, left Brienne, crossing to the other side of the River Ob. The French moved aside Troyes. Only the 6 and 1 cavalry corps, under the general command of Marmont, retreated to Ron and further Vitry, in order to attract allied forces.

The Battle of La Rothiere

Württemberg cavalry in the battle of La Rothiere. R. Knotel


The French lost up to 6 thousand people (up to a third of them were prisoners), 63 guns. General Margue died, General Forestier was killed, General Merlin was captured. In addition, the defeat at La Rothiere contributed to the growth of the number of desertions in the French army. Young recruits could not withstand heavy fighting. Allied forces also lost at least 6 thousand people. Most of the Allied casualties fell on the Russian troops who stormed La Rothière. Russian lost about 4 thousand. People.

Emperor Alexander was very pleased with this victory. The sovereign personally placed on Osten-Saken his own insignia of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called (the Austrian emperor sent him the cross of Maria Theresa). In addition, the Russian emperor handed over to Blucher, Schwarzenberg and Barclay de Tolly gold swords with diamonds and laurels, Crown Prince Wilhelm, Wrede, Vasilchikov and Shcherbatov - the Order of St. George 2 degree, and to Count Liven the Order of St. Nevsky.

February 2 held a military council. The allies, having lost sight of the enemy, did not have accurate information about him. The reports of the forward detachments were contradictory. Major General Seslavin wrote that the enemy was retreating towards Vitry. Count Ozharovsky reported to significant enemy forces in Pina.

At the meeting, the plan proposed by the Austrians for a separate offensive by the Allied armies was approved. It was believed that success in the battle of La Rotiere showed the weakness of the French army, and there is no need to go to Paris with concentrated forces. The fact of food supply was also taken into account, the broad front of the offensive allowed the armies to live at the expense of the local population (the usual practice of the time). In addition, Blucher and Schwarzenberg wanted to act independently. We decided that the main army would advance along the valley of the Seine towards Troy and Paris. The army of Blucher was to attack the valley of the river Marne in order to unite with another part of the army (the corps of York, Kleist and Langeron). Liaison between the two armies was supposed to Corps Wittgenstein, and then the Cossack detachment Seslavina, but soon this decision was reversed, which led to negative consequences. In general, the slowness of the Allied armies played into the hands of Napoleon. He was able to quickly restore the combat capability of the troops and February 10 launched a counter-offensive, defeating Olsufyev’s corps in the Battle of Shampober.

Obelisk in memory of the battle of La Rothiere. La Rothière, France
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  1. Vladimirets
    Vladimirets 3 February 2014 08: 17
    Yes, Europe is dotted with Russian stones. Eternal memory to the heroes. But the British still have the opinion that it was only under Waterloo that they defeated Napoleon.
    1. Prometey
      Prometey 3 February 2014 14: 37
      Quote: Vladimirets
      But the British still have the opinion that it was only under Waterloo that they defeated Napoleon.

      Isn’t that so?
      1. Alexander Petrovich
        Alexander Petrovich 3 February 2014 16: 06
        So it’s true, but Evgeny Batkovich wrote his thought incorrectly, the British still have the opinion that THEY and their battle at Waterloo played a crucial role in the victory over Napoleon. We are Russian and Russian-speaking, we can only shrug our shoulders, and without paying any further attention to honor and glorify our great ancestors and their victory.
      2. Vladimirets
        Vladimirets 3 February 2014 16: 07
        Quote: Prometey
        Isn’t that so?

        Maybe I put it a little inexplicably, I meant that the British think that only they fought with Napoleon and defeated him at Waterloo.
      3. xan
        xan 3 February 2014 18: 00
        Quote: Prometey
        Isn’t that so?

        Is that so? Was Napoleon defeated "only" at Waterloo "only" by them?
        The British had no other victories, and even under Waterloo they were lucky with the Prussian allies. Fuck such victories to promote the glory of weapons, where the winners are literally saved by the Allies. And everything is very prosaic - there simply are no other victories.
        Do not deceive the Prussian Blucher Pears, and the British generally have no reason for land pride left.
        They’re shitty warriors, but good graffiti-writers.
        1. Prometey
          Prometey 3 February 2014 18: 23
          Quote: xan
          Is that so? Was Napoleon defeated "only" at Waterloo "only" by them?

          Whether we like it or not, it was the British and the Prussians who put an end to Napoleon and did what no one could have done before - to smash the emperor in battle. This is historical rock.
          Quote: xan
          Do not deceive the Prussian Blucher Pears, and the British generally have no reason for land pride left.

          So, the worthless warrior was Napoleon, letting the Allies replay themselves strategically. Only boobies could share their forces before a major battle, knowing that somewhere an entire army was maneuvering.
          Quote: xan
          And everything is very prosaic - there simply are no other victories.

          And in fact this was enough for them. Who else can boast that he created a powerful colonial empire with little blood?
          1. Ramadan
            Ramadan 3 February 2014 23: 45
            Wrong conclusions made. And to call Napoleon a shitty warrior and a dunce, it’s excuse me for some reason ...
        2. tundra
          tundra 5 February 2014 18: 53
  2. midashko
    midashko 3 February 2014 10: 03
    The Russians won, and the British won. And rightly so, there was nothing for us to climb to France. Let Europe itself deal with Napoleon. They drove out of the Dniester and enough, now you can conclude a peace treaty, which, while in Moscow, Napoleon dreamed so. Bonaparte strong enough, would continue the struggle with England. Thus, it would serve Russia, fettering or destroying the forces of a many centuries-old Russian enemy. You look and there would be no Crimean War, no Russian-Japanese, no world wars.
    1. major1976
      major1976 3 February 2014 11: 51
      I absolutely agree !!! There was no need to start a trip abroad !!! Field Marshal M.I. Kutuzov was categorically against !!! We did not listen to the genius and still disentangle !!!
  3. Dimych
    Dimych 3 February 2014 13: 24
    By concluding a peace treaty with Napoleon, we would give him the opportunity to control all of Europe until the Dniester and gather new forces. Without an overseas campaign by the Russian army, his allies would not have left him and an anti-Napoleonic coalition would not have formed. It was necessary to finish him off on his territory. The exact same decision was made with respect to Hitler and Germany in 1944.
    1. Anatoli_kz
      Anatoli_kz 3 February 2014 21: 07
      The point is that initially for Napoleon the enemy was England.
      And if he had not been slammed with the help of the Russians, then he could have slammed England, which was in Russia's hands.
      And do not forget another important point - Napoleon wanted to leave Russia after taking Moscow! He realized that going to Russia was a mistake!
      And indeed, Napoleon was friends with Paul I, whom the British killed, having committed a coup, just to prevent the union of Russia and France.
  4. tundra
    tundra 5 February 2014 18: 55
    We ourselves do not need traitors themselves