Military Review

Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Monmirale

11 February 1814, Napoleon's troops defeated the Russian corps under the command of Osten-Sacken and part of the Prussian corps of York. Russian troops rushed to the aid of the corps of Olsufyev, who was defeated by the French 10 in February, and under Monmirale, they were confronted with French troops. The battle took place on the 2 day of Napoleon’s so-called 6 day war, when the French army in turn smashed the corps of Blucher’s army.

The location of the troops and the balance of power

Even before the end of the battle at Shampober (Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Shampober), Napoleon sent MacDonald the news of the victory of his army and ordered him to go on the offensive against the allied forces opposing him. At night, Napoleon located the headquarters in Shampober, the guard was located on the battlefield, the division of Lagrange with cavalry at Etoge. Nansuit, with two guards cavalry regiments and one brigade of Ricard's division, moved toward Monmirale and occupied it, displacing the Cossacks from there.

January 30 (February 11) Napoleon left Marmona with the Lagrange division with the Pear Cavalry (Corps of Bordusel and the Dumera division), about 3 thousand infantry and 2 thousand cavalry, at Etoge, to observe the Blucher forces located at Vertiou. And he himself, with the rest of the troops — the Guards infantry, the remaining regiments of the Guards cavalry, and one brigade of the Ricard division — came to Monmiraul on the morning at 5. In total, Napoleon had about Montmirel more than 15 thousand infantry and 5 thousand cavalry. Napoleon's troops were the selective core of the French army - they were the guards.

Blucher, having received news of the defeat of Olsufyev’s troops, fearing an attack by the French, concentrated at Berger the corps of Kleist and Kaptsevich (by this time some of the troops of these corps were still on the march). There also came the remains of the Olsufyev's corps. Total Blucher had about 14 thousand people. The army commander had little cavalry — about 500 — and, fearing that Napoleon would be able to use his numerous cavalry with great advantage, he decided to retreat to Epernay in the event of an attack on him. However, the French confined themselves to the occupation of Etozh and did not go further. It became obvious that Napoleon moved to Montmirale. From there for several hours came a strong cannonade. However, Blücher, located 40 versts from the battlefield, was inactive, taking a defensive position.

10 February 14-th. The corps under the command of Fabian Vilgelmovich Osten-Sacken with 84 guns was occupied by Laferte-soo-Joir. Russian avant-garde under the command of Vasilchikov, overturned the enemy who had left the city and seized 3 guns. Night Saken was ordered to go to Monmirale. Together with the corps of York, he had to pave the road to Vertyu to connect with the corps of Kleist and Kaptsevich. Osten-Saken immediately began to carry out the order. Destroyed the bridge that had just been restored at Laferte so that MacDonald’s troops could not pursue them.

York, under the command of which was 18-th. The Prussian corps wanted to avoid meeting with a stronger opponent and suggested that Osten-Sacken retreat beyond Marna. He wanted to move to Laferte, to connect with the Russian troops. However, Saken suggested he move to Monmirale. Blucher also ordered York to go from Chateau-Tieri via Vifor to Monmirale. The road from Chateau Tieri to Montmirale was about 23 versts. Before Vifora, it was paved with stone, but it was broken, and further up to Monmirale it was completely unsuitable for the movement of artillery.

York in the morning of February 11 received a notice that the Cossacks who occupied Monmirall were driven out by the French, and that the enemy was spotted at Fontenel, half way from Vifor to Monmiraul. He was also informed that Saken destroyed the bridge near Laferte and is located near Bie-Mizon, so now he has the only way to withdraw - via Vifor to the Château-Thierry. The Prussian general, not wanting to go to Monmirale, told Saken that because of the bad road, the Prussian troops would approach late, and apparently without artillery. Saken said that Russian artillery would be enough for Prussian troops.

As a result, York nevertheless decided to make a connection with Saken, but took precautions in case of a general retreat. Fearing that MacDonald, returning from Mo, or other French troops from Soissons, would cut the Allied troops out of the way, he sent William's brigade and artillery to the Chateau-Thierry. Himself with the teams of Horn and Pirch moved to Fontenel. The Prussians approached this village at three and a half o'clock in the afternoon, when the battle near Monmiral was in full swing. York did not have time to take part in major events, it remained only to help the upset Russian troops to retreat, which the Prussians did.

The six-day war of Napoleon. Day two, February 11 1814.


Austen-Sacken arrived in the morning of February 11 in Bie-Meson, where he learned of the capture of the enemy of Montmirel. However, he underestimated the enemy, deciding that, together with the Prussians, the Russian troops would be able to pave the way to Werth for their connection with Blucher.

Saken decided to break through the valley of the Small Morena, placing most of his infantry (7 and 18 division) under the command of Major General Talyzin to the right of the village of Epin. To the left was the 10 division, and on the left flank were the 27 division and Vasilchikov's cavalry. All infantry was built in columns, in two lines. Light artillery companies were in the first line, the battery company No. 18 between the 18 and 10 divisions, two battery companies remained in reserve.

To capture the village of Marché, where the French could close the way to the Russian corps along the valley, a special detachment was set up under the command of Major General Heidenreich. The detachment consisted of the Pskov, Vladimir, Tambov and Kostroma regiments, the Cossack regiment of Lukovkin. In the detachment there were about 2,3 thousand people with 6 light weapons. The Russian detachment quickly moved over the ravine that Marché had and occupied the village.

Napoleon planned to deliver the main blow to the left Russian flank in order to interrupt the possible communication of Saken’s corps with the Prussians, who could have approached from Fontenel. However, at first around 10 hours spent defiantly strong attack on the March to divert Russian reserves to the right flank. Division Ricard - 3 thousand people, in columns, covered with thick chains of shooters, attacked the village. Several times the French broke into the village, Russian and French soldiers converged in bayonet attacks. There was a cruel hand-to-hand fight. The settlement changed hands four times, but it was left to the Russian troops. Both sides suffered significant losses. The field around the village was covered with blood and littered with bodies, representing a terrible picture.

Napoleon at this time quietly watched the battlefield, on other points of the line the French initially confined themselves to an artillery exchange of fire. He was waiting for the arrival of Mortier with the division of Michel. Michel's division appeared in the 2 hour. Going to distract the enemy from his main goal, Napoleon ordered Ricard to withdraw from Marché to lure the Russian troops.

Ney with two divisions attacked the Russian troops in the center of the position. A team of Friant (four battalions of the Old Guard) struck the main road, it was covered by 7 squadrons of the honorary guard under Defrance. The French were advancing in the general direction of Appin, trying to cut the Russian forces and cut off the right flank. Ney and Freean, taking advantage of the length of the body of Osten-Sacken, broke through the first line. This forced Saken to enter into battle the second line and send cavalry to the left flank in order to unite with the Prussian corps.

Napoleon directed the cavalry of General Nansuti against the cavalry of Vasilchikov, and also increased the pressure on the main road with the help of 4 squadrons of his own convoy. The French achieved success in the center, but Vasilchikov repelled the Nansuchi cavalry attack and opened a message with Prussian troops. Part of the Russian was surrounded, but was able to break through to connect with the main forces.

General York, in order to close Saken’s corps from the rounds from the flank, sent the Pirch brigade leading in front of Fontenelle to the left of the main road. The Gorna Brigade moved straight along the road. Each brigade had only one light battery. Ousten-Sacken for artillery support of the Prussian troops sent from the reserve two artillery companies. Having discovered the advance of Prussian troops, Marshal Mortier marched towards them with six battalions of Michel's division. Started a headlong fight. Both sides fought bravely and did not want to yield. The commander of the 1 Brigade, General Pearh, was wounded. York himself was on the front line. Staff officers persuaded him to go to a safe place, but he refused. Leave me, he said, I will seek death if we do not deter the enemy. ” According to the French, they were able to make their way to Fontenelle at dusk, when most of the Osten-Sacken corps joined up with the Prussians and retreated to Biford.

Battle of Monmirale M. Mikeshin

On the right wing, at Marché, a fierce battle was in full swing until 8 hours of the evening. Meunier's division, which changed parts of Ricard, took the village. However, the Russian desperate counterattack again knocked the enemy out of the March. Napoleon, irritated by the fact that three times the strongest French forces could not break the resistance of a small Russian detachment, insistently demanded that the generals Meunier and Ricard take over the village. However, Ricard had already lost a lot of people, and the division of Meunier consisted of conscripts incapable of violent oncoming combat and suffered significant losses in previous battles. Therefore, Napoleon sent two battalions of the Old Guard to their aid. But Ricard believed that for a successful attack, four battalions were needed and he had kept the guards in reserve.

In the evening, Napoleon ordered General Defrance to bypass the village along a large road in order to surround the Russian troops who were fighting at the March. At the same time on the March led two battalions of guards rangers Marshal Lefevre and Bertrand. Attacked the village and Ricard. Russian rifle chains literally boldly. But then the Russians again surprised the French with their ability to fight to the last. As a participant in the battle recalled: “... a fatal voice was heard: to the hand, with bayonets! A terrible hurray burst out and the death of the French came. ” Opponent thrown bayonet attack. Despite the superiority of opponents in numbers and artillery, the entire field in front of the village was plowed up by ricochets, the remnants of four Russian regiments under the command of decisive staff officers Zygrot and Lopukhin to the last fought for the position entrusted to them.

They began to depart, only having received the appropriate order. The Russian soldiers crossed the ravine and collided with the French dragoons, who made a detour. Russian lined up in a few small squares and began to make their way to their own. The French cavalry initially did not dare to attack them. Only when the squares approached the road to Chateau Tieri, they were subjected to a strong cavalry attack. However, they were supported by two squadrons of the Akhtyrsky hussar regiment under the command of the captain Gorstkin, and they successfully repelled the attack. From the corps of Osten-Sacken, the Sophia infantry regiment was also cut off from the rest of the troops, but even he was able to make his way to his own.

The night stopped the bloody battle. The body of Osten-Sacken made its way through the forests and marshes on Vifor all night. Vasilchikov's cavalry covered the waste and helped to take out the guns. In order to facilitate the movement of troops at night and in unfamiliar areas, fires were made at some distance from each other. 50 men were given cavalry to each gun crew. As a result, most of the artillery of the corps was rescued, only eight of the most damaged guns were thrown. By dawn, the troops went to Vifor.

Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Monmirale

Battle of Monmirale French cavalry attacks the square of Russian troops. V. Kossak.

Battle results

The losses of the Allied forces were significant. Russian regiments who took part in the battle lost thousands of people killed and wounded to 2, about 800 people were captured. Among the prisoners there were many advanced shooters who were cut off from the main forces. The Prussians lost about 900 people. French troops lost about 2-3 thousand people killed and wounded.

The French could not organize the pursuit of the Allied forces and win a more decisive victory. Darkness and wooded area allowed Russian troops to break away from the enemy. In general, the Russian corps and Prussian troops retained their combat effectiveness and the next day gave the enemy a new battle. Russian-Prussian troops took up a position ahead of Château-Thierry near the village of Les-Coquuret.

Fabian Vilhelmovich Osten-Sacken (1752 — 1837)
Articles from this series:
Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Shampober
Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Monmirale
Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Chateau-Thierry
Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Voshan
Napoleon's offensive against the main allied army. Fighting near Morman and Villeneuve
Napoleon's offensive against the main allied army. Part of 2. Battle of Montro
Battle of Bar-sur-Aube
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  1. Vladimirets
    Vladimirets 11 February 2014 08: 44
    Thanks for the series of articles, very interesting. good
  2. Trapperxnumx
    Trapperxnumx 11 February 2014 09: 50
    Articles are very good! Thank!
    And everywhere the unchanging heroism of the Russian troops. Napoleon throws his old guard, his most experienced fighters, who are forced to retreat before the formidable Russian soldiers (I'm talking about the defense of Marche). That's where the strength, courage, heroism !!! This is not a machine gun from the jungle to water. Face to face with a bayonet !!!
  3. xan
    xan 11 February 2014 13: 17
    Yes, and the Prussians helped.
    But one must understand that Napoleon’s real infantry remained in Russia, there was also cavalry - in this battle, Russian cavalry was everywhere stronger, as in all companies after 1812.
    Napoleon won due to the concentration of forces, especially artillery, in the main direction, and the quality of the French troops was already not that.
  4. Standard Oil
    Standard Oil 11 February 2014 13: 24
    It's a shame that in Russia they know so little about the Napoleonic Wars, most only Borodino know, and maybe they even "heard somewhere" about Austerlitz, that's probably all. Plus an article, a fat minus and a bad state for the state that put on education and popularization of science in including Stories.