Go to WTJ Information Page Go to WTJ Portal Go to WTJ War Series Go to WTJ Archives Go to WTJ Articles Go to WTJ Gaming Go to WTJ Store Go to WTJ Home Page


Correspondence of Marshal Davout

15 September, 1806 - 14 October, 1806 (170 - 179)


170 - To General Friant

Paris, 15 September 1806

I have arrived from Saint Cloud, my dear General; His Majesty received me with his usual good will. He spoke to me of departing within a few days in order to rejoin you. This news is for you alone and my Chief of Staff. Everything is war here; a detachment of the Guard left this morning. Meanwhile, many persons believe that these preparations have no other purpose than to bring about peace and, as a consequence, to render the Prussian armaments ridiculous. But, in any case, we are prepared; my last inspection of the troops convinced me of this. There is a very important item, however, which we completely lack; this is that of canteens, pots, etc, I was assured here that there was no means of delivering them to us. It is thus necessary to count only on ourselves. Also, I beg you, on receiving this letter, to warn the division commanders to charge the colonels with assuring themselves that, in the event of the order to depart, each captain will procure from the local inhabitants by private contract those pots of beaten sheet iron which are used in Germany. This article is not very costly and will give the soldier the ability to make his soup. It is necessary that each company procure these so as to have one or two extra. It will be better to be rich in this respect, since only too many will be lost. This order must be promptly executed and is for all arms of the 3rd Corps.

It is probable that, when you receive this letter, I will be en route to rejoin you.

Your wife is doing well and has been at Pontoise for some days, where she had to look for her mother. My wife was surprised by my arrival. She sends a thousand greetings to her excellent brother in law. I am departing immediately for Savigny to make the acquaintance of my little one there.

171 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, Etc.

Bamberg, 1 October 1806

My lord, I have just arrived at Bamberg in order to cooperate with the Prince of Ponte Corvo, who communicated the orders of Your Most Serene Highness to me the 29th, making known to me that the intention of the Emperor is that I detach my cavalry on Cronach; that I have this fortress occupied and that I immediately seek to have it put in good condition; and, finally, that Marshal Bernadotte will make known to me the orders that you have issued on this subject; the disparity in date and the movement which the Prince of Ponte Corvo is making leads me to suppose that there are new dispositions of which I have no knowledge. Be that as it may, as I had the honor of rendering account to you this morning, having arrived from Forcheim only this evening, I can. only move it between Bamberg and Staffelstein tomorrow; I will thus have the time to receive the orders of Your Highness on the subsequent movements of this cavalry; meanwhile, I will direct the entire 7th Hussars on Cronach in conformance with the first orders of Your Most Serene Highness.

The First Division has arrived and is established between Bamberg and Forcheim, its head at a league from the former village, where tomorrow it will support its left,, its right extending to beside Staffelstein; tomorrow, the 2nd, all the rest of the 3rd Corps will be between Bamberg and Forcheim; Your Most Serene Highness can count on that.

I sent a battalion commander to Cronach on receiving your letter of the 27th,

172 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

Bamberg, 2 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of rendering an account to Your Highness of the various positions occupied today by the 3rd Corps.

The 1st Division is established in column between Staffelstein exclusively and Hallstadt; Bamberg will be occupied by a regiment of this division.

The 2nd Division is likewise placed in column between Bamberg and Hirscheid inclusively.

The 3rd Division in the same order between Hirscheid and Forcheim.

The light cavalry reserve between Schesliz, Hallstadt and Bamberg.

The materiel from the reserve park is near Forcheim, and the personnel as well as the horses cantoned in the villages located on the left bank of the Wisen.

I have the honor of recalling to Your Highness that the object of my letter of yesterday was to know if your continuing intention was that I send my light cavalry to Cronach: I ardently desire to receive the last orders of Your Highness in order to rid myself of embarrassment in this regard.

P.S. The 7th Hussars is continuing its movement on Cronach, in conformance with the first orders of Your Highness.

173 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

Bamberg, 5 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of assuring Your Highness that the 3rd Corps is cantoned in such a way as to be able to be assembled at Bamberg in five hours and prepared to put itself on the march at the first order that Your Highness would be able to have issued to me.

174 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

Bamberg, 5 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of rendering an account to Your Highness of the result of the review of the Corps which I have held in accordance with the order of the day of 3 October.

In general, all the troops have profited by the period of rest in order to prepare themselves to enter upon a campaign, and I must add that the solicitude of the generals and the officers has had the best results.

The arms are everywhere in very good condition, In the entire Corps there were less than fifteen or twenty bayonets lacking, which were replaced a few hours later.

The clothing has been received and issued by all the regiments; the troops are in the dress in which they would have appeared, if they had passed in review before His Majesty the Emperor in Paris.

The foot-gear fulfills the intentions of His Majesty; each soldier has two pairs of shoes in his pack and one on his feet; some regiments even have a fourth pair of them in reserve which they are having follow, some ones more, all some spare pairs.

As to field utensils, these objects had been entirely overlooked; but, since the march began, this has essentially been attended to; the entire 1st Division can be considered as having that which is necessary to it.

The 2nd is much less supplied; but, in less than twenty-four hours, it will be on a level with the former. The 3rd is furthest behind; however, there is only this reproach to make against it, for it is excellently turned out.

There is nothing lacking to the artillery; the troops are provided with 50 cartridges per man and 3 flints.

In addition to the provisioning of 1,200,000 cartridges, contained in the caissons, there remain 200,000 of them arising from the last shipment of 300,000 which I had requested in order to complete the 50 per man, I will have the remaining 200,000 stored at Cronach; because I have no means of transport in order to have them follow, and as it would be exposing them to being completely spoiled to have them transported on local vehicles.

175 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

6 October 1806

My lord, the reports on the Prussians are very obscure; it turns out only that they are on the march and extensively in motion.

Yesterday the 7th, everything led me to believe that he had arrived at Cobourg about four o'clock in the evening, from whence they allowed no one to enter or leave. Up to the present time, there had appeared at Cobourg only 30 or 36 hussars who had been there for five days.

One was assured there that a detachment of the Prussian Army should have arrived the same day at Saalfeld and had thrust an advance guard on Grafenthal.

According to these reports, the large Prussian forces should assemble on Jena and Saalfeld.

At Cobourg it is rumored that the King of Prussia should have proceeded today to Bamberg in order to have a conference with our sovereign.

I sent a detachment to Culenbach, in order to have news of Marshal Soult; it has not yet returned.

All the army will be assembled today, quite early, in front of Cronach, in accordance with the orders of Your Highness.

176 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel etc.

Posneck, 11 October 1806, at 2 o'clock in the morning

My lord, as I had the honor of rendering an account to you verbally by one of my aides de camp, I was obliged to have the head of the infantry column stop at Posneck, as much to await news of the cavalry of General Milhaud, whom I had had move forward, as in order to give time to the infantry to assemble, the march, as long as rapid, having extremely elongated its columns.

After the first reports from General Milhaud, I had a first regiment move in front of Posneck, to the branching of the routes from Neustadt and from Hummelsham; the remainder of the Dupont Division and the Morand Division will proceed here at daybreak.

Some Cavalry parties have been sent on Neustadt and Saalfeld.

A reconnaissance of the 13th Regiment of mounted chasseurs, directed by Saalfeld, thrust out a small detachment on its right which fell on a Prussian infantry and cavalry post and seized a hussar from Wolfrad and two fusiliers from the 1st Battalion of Prussian chasseurs.

These prisoners report that there were, at the Saalfeld affair carried on by the French, 7 Saxon battalions and 2 Prussian squadrons; Prince Louis commanded in person; these troops came from Neustadt; they knew nothing of the Grand Army, other than that it is spread about that it is marching forward.

There have just arrived from the Schimmelfening Regiment of hussars three prisoners gathered up by our reconnaissances; from what they say and what is spread about, it appears that Marshal Lannes has completely beaten the enemy.

I have received the dispatch from Your Highness, dated 8:30. I am going to put myself on the march in order to rejoin personally the 3rd Corps; I am transmitting orders to General Dupont and to General Milhaud which are of concern to them for their marches of tomorrow.

I am having Your Highness's dispatch for Marshal Lannes sent to his address.

177 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

Naumbourg, 12 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of rendering account to Your Highness that my light cavalry entered Naumbourg at 3:30; the advance guard arrived there at eight o'clock in the evening. The day having been extremely hard and having occasioned many stragglers, I had the 1st Division stop a league or two from Naumbourg, the 2nd a little further and the 3rd at around three leagues.

The dragoon division of General Sahuc was placed at the forward most position of the 2nd Division; tomorrow at two o'clock in the morning the entire army will be assembled here.

General Vialannes seized several vehicles of bread and baggage, but a more important prize is that of a dozen perfectly harnessed copper pontoons; this last prize was made between Naumbourg and Freybourg; I am having them kept, as well as the harnesses, in order to hold them at your disposition, having promised the 1st Regiment of chasseurs to have the horses paid for in accordance with regulations.

Large stores of forage and grain are reputed to be here; I will have an inventory of them taken, which I will have the honor of sending to Your Highness.

Reconnaissances have been sent in the direction of Jena, but they have not yet returned. Some cannon shots are being heard from this direction; I have no news of the Prince of Ponte Corvo.

All the reports of the deserters, of the prisoners and of the people of the country unite to proclaim that the Prussian Army is to be found at Erfurt, Weimar and environs. It is certain that the King arrived at Weimar yesterday; I am assured that there are no troops between Leipzig and Naumbourg.

I have had all the packets in the post seized; I am addressing them to Your Highness; perhaps you will find something of interest there. Much boasting in the quarters of the Prussian officers is continually reported.

A letter without signature, addressed to the Prince of Saxe-Coburg, compares the defeat at Saalfeld to that of the Austrians in front of Ulm, insofar as the discouragement which it diffused through the Army is concerned, Around 200 deserters passed by this town yesterday and today.

I am sending a detachment to carry this dispatch to Your Highness; tomorrow morning, when I shall have obtained new information, I will have the honor to forward it to Your Highness.

P.S. - It appears to me established that the Prussian troops are assembling in the neighborhood of Weimar. This campaign promises to be still more miraculous than those of Ulm and Marengo.

178 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

Naumbourg, 13 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of rendering account to Your Highness that, since yesterday, my light cavalry has thrust some reconnaissances on Jena; after having passed the bridge, they encountered the enemy at a little distance on the left bank of the Saale.

The dragoon division under the orders of General Sahuc likewise thrust some detachments on this point and also encountered the enemy.

The first of these reconnaissances took place yesterday, at six o'clock in the evening, the second at nine in the evening; today, a new reconnaissance, made at ten o'clock in the morning, proved that the enemy continued to occupy Jena and that he is assembling his forces at Eckartsberg. I an sending you the copy of this reconnaissance I report; the reports confirm it. Cannon was heard yesterday evening for four hours until five thirty. Today it is heard; it is going strong on our left an hour after noon: there is a fusillade.

I am sending some detachments on Eckartsberg by Freybourg, which I am occupying in force, and by Kosen.

The entire army is at Naumbourg. The dragoon division is occupying Pforte and Flemmingen.

179 - To The Emperor and King

At the Eckartsberg Bivouac, 14 October 1806

Sire, I have the honor of rendering account to Your Majesty that in debouching from Kosen, at a quarter of a league, I found the enemy, who was on the march in order to make himself master of this debouch. The battle began immediately. It was very bloody and hard fought. The King of Prussia, the Duke of Brunswick and Marshal Mollendorf and more than 60000 men disputed the victory with the 3rd Corps; it remained with us as well as nearly all the enemy artillery; the number of prisoners is not very considerable, the little cavalry that I had, which served very well nevertheless, not having been sufficient to be able to profit from the success of the infantry. The Grand Duke of Berg had withdrawn the Sahuc Division of dragoons the day before.

Your Majesty lost many brave men, among whom I will cite General Debilly, Colonels Verges, Higonnet, Viala, Nicolas and several others wounded. Several regiments have lost the greater part of their officers. The number of the wounded is very considerable.

The Duke of Brunswick was grievously wounded in the head; his wound is regarded as mortal.

Some Prussian generals have been wounded. Among these last, prince Auguste, uncle of the King is to be counted.

The two brothers of the King were to be found at this battle; the horse and foot guards have many dead and wounded.

Cartridges are lacking. The Corps was very weakened; I took position about seven o'clock in the evening. Tonight the cartridges will be replaced; the arms will be put into condition and tomorrow we will be ready to execute the orders of Your Majesty.

I must cite with greatest praise the conduct of Generals Friant, Gudin and Morand. General Daultanne distinguished himself before the entire army.

One of these days, I will have the honor of sending to Your Majesty the necessary details in order to make the brilliant conduct of all your officers and soldiers known to you.

The enemy appears to be withdrawing in the direction of Weimar.

  Copyright © 1996-2003 by The War Times Journal at www.wtj.com. All rights reserved.