Military Review

Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Voshan

14 February 1814, the French troops won the fourth victory in the so-called six-day war of Napoleon. In the area of ​​the village of Voshan, Russian-Prussian troops under the command of Blucher were defeated. As a result, Napoleon was able to break the army of Blucher in parts and seized the strategic initiative. Napoleon began to prepare for a strike on the main army of Schwarzenberg. The Allied Command offered Napoleon peace on the terms of the preservation of the French borders by the beginning of the French Revolution, but the French emperor refused, hoping to bargain for better conditions.

The Imperial Guard salutes Napoleon. Artist G. Chartier

The location of the troops and the balance of power

After the defeat at Chateau Tieri, the defeated corps of Osten-Sacken and York retreated to Reims. Napoleon gave Macdonald the order to pursue the Russian-Prussian troops and complete the rout, but the marshal did not take decisive measures to persecute the enemy. Napoleon could not immediately proceed to the pursuit of the enemy: it was necessary to restore the crossing over the river Marne. After the restoration of the bridges, Napoleon sent the Mortier detachment to pursue the Allies.

February 11-12 Blucher with Kleist and Kaptsevich corps was inactive, waiting for the approach of cavalry. Only 13 February, waiting for the approach of two cavalry regiments, Blucher decided to attack the corps of Marshal Marmont, located at Etozh. Learning about the occurrence of Blucher, Napoleon decided to move to Monmiraly.

The corps of Marmont (6 — 8 thousand people) did not accept the battle and began to retreat to Fromentyer. February 14 Corps Kleist and Kaptsevich (about 15 — 17 thousand people) continued to move to Monmirale. The remnants of the crushed corps of Olsufyev (about 1,8 thousand people with 18 guns), headed by Udom, February 13 located at Etoz, and February 14 received an order to move to Shampober to cover the main forces from Cezanne. Blucher planned to defeat Marmont, then attack the rear of Napoleon, who according to his plans should pursue the corps of York and Saken. Blucher did not yet know that the Russian-Prussian troops were driven back over the Marne, and Napoleon returned to Monmirale. Aware of the superiority of their forces over Marmon's corps, the Allies did not take proper precautions. Avant-garde under the command of Hans von Tsiten significantly detached from the main forces. Kaptsevich was moving on the left flank from the highway, Kleist - on the right.

Before dawn, Marmont retreated from Fromentier to Monmirale. But Napoleon ordered him to stop the enemy, taking a position at Voshan. Artillery was located on both sides of the road. Part of the infantry was located in the forest on the left flank, to deliver a flank attack. Napoleon, who by the morning had gathered all the forces from Château-Thierry in Monmirale, had up to 15 thousand infantry and 8 thousand cavalry.

Battle of Voshan. 19th century engraving


After determining the position of the enemy, Napoleon ordered Marmon to take Voshan. The guard remained in reserve. Part of the cavalry under the command of Grusha was sent around the allies on his right flank.

Field Marshal Blucher learned from patrols expelled by Tsiten about the movement of enemy cavalry to bypass his right flank and the appearance of French infantry on the left side, on the road from Cezanne to Monmirale (this was the division of Leval, directed by Marshall Oudinot and still at a considerable distance). Blucher considered that the main danger threatens his left flank from Cezanne and strengthened the avant-garde left wing with two cavalry regiments.

From 11 in the morning, the French division of Ricard attacked Voshan. The Silesian Infantry Regiment repulsed the French attack. Encouraged by this success, the Prussian infantry launched a counterattack. However, the Prussian attack ended sadly. The first battalion of the regiment was hacked down by an imperial escort, the second tried to retreat, but was surrounded and completely destroyed. The French also captured one Prussian horse battery. But General Tsiten and Colonel Grolman, the Chief of Staff of the Prussian Corps, organized a counterattack of the 7 of the Silesian Landwehr Cavalry Regiment and beat off the battery.

On the left flank, two French cavalry divisions (about 3 thousand people) overturned the East Prussian Cuirassier and 1 th Silesian Hussars. Prussian cavalry retreated over the infantry order. The infantry lined up and repelled the attack of the French cavalry. 7 th and 37 th Russian chasseurs shelves especially distinguished themselves in this fight.

Blucher's troops were in dire straits. On the left wing, General Nansuth (more than 3 thousand men) was advancing with the guards cavalry; in the center, divisions of Ricard and Lagrange attacked, behind them was a guard (about 15 thousand people); on the right wing, bypassing the allied forces, the Pears' cavalry (4, thousand horsemen) moved. In addition, the fresh division of Jean Leval (4,5 thousand people), which was withdrawn from the Spanish Front, was on the way.

Blucher had only about 2 thousand cavalry and, realizing that before him the main forces of Napoleon, did not dare to take the battle to a position that could be bypassed from both flanks. The Field Marshal transferred the Brandenburg Cuirassier and 8 landwehr regiments to the right flank, and then the 1 th Silesian Hussars. The infantry was built in battalion squares and began to depart on the sides of the road along which the carts and artillery were moving. Several batteries were placed between the infantry squares, the rest of the artillery was sent to Etozh in the forefront.

The French initially did not particularly push forward, expecting the Pears' cavalry to cut off the Allies from Champauber. However, the French cavalry was moving along a bad road, stuck in the mud, and did not have time to complete the maneuver if the Allied forces were moving without stopping. Kleist's troops outstripped the Russian corps. Kaptsevich's corps moved slower, restraining the enemy. Blucher, who was with the Russian troops, ordered Kleist to move slower, not to create a gap between the corps. Then ordered to stop altogether. As a result, Grushi was able to bypass the allies from the flank and knocked over a few Prussian cavalry, hit the Prussian infantry. Several squares were scattered, the French seized four guns.

However, the Allies were able to repel the onslaught of the French cavalry and continued to move. Napoleon, in order to upset the order of the Allied infantry, advanced the Guards artillery under the command of Drouot. The Allied forces, which sent almost all the artillery to Etozh, could fire only six guns.

General Gneisenau proposed, after arriving in Shampober, turn right, towards Cezanne. On this road there were perennials and vineyards, which contributed to the containment of the French cavalry. However, the road was bad, and during the movement would have to throw a significant part of the artillery. In addition, the possibilities for connection with the troops of Osten-Sacken and York worsened. Therefore, it was decided to continue to Etozhu.

The path from Shampober paved Russian troops. Three Russian squares of recruits acted like old soldiers. They let the French cuirassiers into the distance of 60 steps and fired a volley that completely upset the French cavalry. In addition, several Russian equestrian guns drove a distance of carter volley and finally scattered the French. The road to the forest of Etoga was free. The troops continued to move.

Towards evening, the French launched a new attack. Pears, wanting to cut off the Allied forces from Etozh, again moved to the north of the main road and went to it a second time. Cavalry divisions of Doumercke, Bordusel, and Saint-Germain attacked the allied forces. At the same time, Napoleon, having stopped the artillery bombardment, sent cavalry cavalry from the rear. The few Prussian cavalry could not restrain the onslaught of the enemy. Fortunately for the allies, Grushi had only cavalry, his light artillery could not move quickly behind the cavalry, lagged behind and did not take part in the battle. Otherwise, it could turn into a disaster.

Napoleon's Six Day War: The Battle of Voshan

French cuirassiers during the attack. French artist Horace Vernet

Several infantry vehicles were upset and destroyed. The rest of the troops had to pave the way with bayonets and cartoons for the few available guns. Attacks of infantry were accompanied by drumming and battle cries. Blücher himself led one of the squares to attack. The field marshal sought death and was gloomy, realizing that his army was on the verge of death. The French continued their attacks, but the bullet shots swept away entire ranks, and the infantry stubbornly went forward. Marshal Ney, noting the frustration of cavalry, ordered the trumpet to be blown up. Allied forces broke into the forest and moved to Etozh.

Two Prussian battalions, which were in the rearguard, could not get through to their own and were destroyed. The French were also able to cut off the Archangelogorod and Shlisselburg regiments under the command of Major General Shenshin. The general was wounded, but continued to lead the troops, the Russian regiments were able to pave the way to their own.

Already at night, Blucher orders to retreat to Berger and rest there. At Etozha, the 8-I Russian Infantry Division, commanded by Major-General Alexander Urusov, is located in the rearguard. Having considered the battle over, Urusov did not take proper precautions. This took advantage of the French. At night, Marshal Marmon made a workaround and personally led the attack. The sudden night attack was successful. Prince Urusov, together with the headquarters, was captured by the French. Urus himself received three bayonet wounds in this fight. The French also captured 600 man and 4 guns. At this battle was completed.

"Six Day War" by Napoleon. 14 February 1814 of the year


The losses of the allied forces, according to various estimates, ranged from 6 to 8 thousand people, and 15 guns (7 Prussian and 8 Russian). A significant part of the loss fell on the prisoners. The Russian corps of Kaptsevich under Voshan has lost 2 thousand people. Generals Shenshin and Urusov were injured. The losses of the French, according to their data, ranged from 600 to 1200 people.

Blucher's army spent the night in Berger, then retreated to Chalon. 5 (17) February at Chalon, Blucher's troops were connected to Osten-Sacken and York corps. Four defeats in the valley of the river Marne cost the army of Blucher 15-16 thousand people and 38 (according to other data - 60) guns. Blucher lost a third of the army.

From the point of view of military art, this campaign was one of the most brilliant in the military heritage of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon fought like a young man, showed amazing energy and clarity of mind. With the remnants of the former Great Army, he was able to smash the enemy corps separately, inflicting heavy defeats on the whole to the superior forces of the Allied army. Due to the maneuver, military art, the concentration of artillery in narrow areas, the use of selected guards units, Napoleon was able to temporarily seize the strategic initiative. As the minister of the First Empire, Lavalette, wrote, Napoleon “squeezed by all the armies of Europe, fought like a lion, rushing from one to another, replaying their maneuvers with the speed of movements, deceiving all their calculations ...” However, the balance of forces was not in favor of Napoleon. His power in France could save only peace.

Initially, Napoleon wanted to finish off the army of Blucher, making a swift attack on Chalon, and then attack the Main Army of Schwarzenberg. However, the attack of the Main Army on Paris forced him to abandon the persecution of the troops of Blucher and move into the valley of the Seine. Schwarzenberg repeated the mistake of Blucher, his corps were located at a considerable distance from each other, which allowed Napoleon to attack parts of Schwarzenberg’s army separately.

Given that the Corps of Wintzingerode, from the Northern Army, approached Soissons, a detachment of Mortier was left to observe him (about 6 thousand people). Marmont with the 6 Infantry, 1 Cavalry Corps (about 8 thousand people), stayed with Etozh, to monitor the troops of Blucher. Pears with a part of the 2 Cavalry Corps and the division of Leval (5 thousand people) was sent to Lafert-sous-Joir, he could, according to the established situation, support Mortier or Marmont. General Vincent with a small detachment was left to cover the crossing at Chateau-Thierry. As a result, in the valley of the river Marne, Napoleon left about 20 thousands of soldiers, these forces could be strengthened with reinforcements and troops of the National Guard. Napoleon himself with guards and most of the cavalry (up to 12 thousand people), 3 (15) February made from Monmirul to Mo.

From a military point of view, Napoleon won a convincing victory in the Six Day War. However, in this victory was laid a fatal trap. After the defeat at La Rothiere (The Battle of La Rothiere), Napoleon, realizing the degree of danger that threatened Paris and the country, ordered the Vice-King of Italy, Eugene Beauharnais, to leave garrisons in the main fortresses and, with the remaining troops, move through the Alps to the rear of the allies. However, having won the victory at Shampober and Monmirale, Napoleon canceled the previous order and ordered the viceroy with the army to remain in Italy. The Italian army could become a weighty argument in the continuation of the war. In addition, after defeating Blucher’s army, Napoleon, during the work of the Shatiyon (Shatillon) congress on January 24 (February 5) - 7 (March 19) of March, did not accept the conditions of the Allies, who offered peace with France’s return to the borders of the 1792 of the year. He now hoped for peace on more favorable terms.

French memorial in honor of the victory at Voshan. Wochain, france
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. Prometey
    Prometey 14 February 2014 09: 44
    So who can explain - why did everyone so immediately shake from the message that they were being circumvented from the flanks? Well, Napa’s standard hackneyed tactics that could have been studied up and down over so many years of the war.
  2. predator.3
    predator.3 14 February 2014 09: 52
    having defeated Blucher's army, Napoleon during the course of the work of the Chatillon (Chatillon) Congress on January 24 (February 5) - March 7 (19) did not accept the terms of the allies, who proposed peace with the return of France to the borders of 1792. He now hoped for peace on more favorable terms.

    Yes, as the saying goes: "greed ruined the frayer," if he signed the world then, there would have been neither Waterloo nor St. Helena, and Alexander I wanted to leave Napoleon in power as a counterweight against England and Austria. In general, the company of 1814 is the "swan song" of Napoleon Karlych, as a genius commander! hi good
  3. 23424636
    23424636 14 February 2014 11: 45
    A funny article about the raging favorite of the French, Here is what historian A, G, Beskrovny writes about these 6 day victories - Napoleon’s vacillations (on a proposal from Congress on February 16 to return to the borders of 1792), to a large extent, was determined by small tactical successes that inspired him with hope their success was strategic. Meanwhile, the death of Napoleonic France was militarily predetermined. The allies had 150 thousand people at the main theater, there were 2 buildings on the way, Blucher after defeats did not lose heart and began to act decisively but having received from the main apartment is on the Schwarzenberg and went on the offensive on Cezanne ,,, Guys, if you value your homeland, do not distort history to suit deceitful west.
  4. Trapperxnumx
    Trapperxnumx 14 February 2014 13: 04
    From the point of view of military art, this campaign was one of the most brilliant in the military heritage of Napoleon Bonaparte.

    Yeah. Relief before death.
  5. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 14 February 2014 13: 06
    Quote: 23424636
    Guys, if the Motherland is dear to you, do not distort history for the sake of the lying west.

  6. xan
    xan 14 February 2014 14: 00
    and the Prussians fought well, the guns beat off, burst out of the encirclement, and ours almost did not fight and managed to lose more guns, and even the slobber Urusov spewed.
    In military affairs, one does not need to be talented, it is enough to be quick, efficient, proactive and not stupid, and you will no longer be a bad military commander. And this is not enough.
    Blucher is far from talent, but famous. Such warriors as Rumyantsev or Suvorov would have taken Paris.