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Correspondence of Marshal Davout

October 15, 1806 - October 20, 1806 (180 - 189)


180 - To the Major General of the Grand Army Prince de Neufchatel, etc.

At the Eckartsberg Bivouac, 15 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of sending to Your Highness the reports which I have this moment received from my cavalry reconnaissances on the enemy's line of retreat.

At daybreak I sent General Lochet with an infantry regiment and an hundred horses to Freybourg, where there is a castle protected from surprise attack where I had left a company of the 13th Regiment of light infantry. General Lochet will send some detachments on Mersebourg and on Querfurth.

I will be able to give you My lord, no report on the battle of Eckartsberg for two days. Everyone did his duty there; the infantry did what would be expected from the best infantry in the world. The cavalry had itself cut to pieces, I employed it in order to give myself time to debauch from Kosen. The plan of the King was to debauch by this point, to move on Naumbourg; his other corps should have debauched by Freybourg.

Prince Henry of Prussia was wounded.

Their cavalry, which vigorously charged our infantry, suffered much; we took nearly all the artillery of the enemy and some flags.

General Mollendorf, the Duke of Brunswick. the Count of Kalkreuth, the King, his brothers, his uncle, the elite of the Prussian Army, there was what the 3rd Corps fought.

The Queen left Weimar for Berlin two days ago.

I replaced the cartridges and munitions consumed which has entirely exhausted my reserve park, I pray Your Highness to give the most prompt orders to General Songis in order that he will have sent all the munitions which are necessary to me which I consider as a complete provisioning.

The army is ready to depart. From the point which I am occupying I am well able to fulfill the intentions of the Emperor.

I will ask of Your Highness some adjutants general, some engineer officers, some sappers, some cannoneers, especially some staff officers; nearly all those I had have been wounded or killed.

Adjutant General Hervo, assistant chief of staff, as well as his brave chief General Daultanne, particularly distinguished themselves.

Adjutant General Hervo was wounded, and he is following us. It is necessary to send the aid of some physicians, some bandages to Naumbourg, the number of wounded being very considerable.

181 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

At the Bivouac of Eckartsberg 15 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of rendering account to Your Highness that, according to your orders, I am proceeding to Naumbourg.

The 1st Division will be placed in front of Naumbourg in order to command the route from Weisenfels.

The 2nd Division is moving on Freybourg, where it will support its left in order to hold the route from Mersebourg.

The 3rd Division will remain today in position at Eckartsberg in order to cover the evacuation of the parks and ambulances; tomorrow it will enter Naumbourg.

The light cavalry will be established at Leisling on the route from Weisenfels, observing the route from Leipzig.

The 1st Regiment of chasseurs at Leiha in order to observe the route from Mersebourg.

182 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, Etc.

Naumbourg, 15 October 1806 Midnight

My lord, I have received the letter that Your Highness wrote to me by my aide de camp Falcon.

Your orders were executed; the Corps, as I have had the honor of rendering account to you, is at Freybourg and at Naumbourg; the Prince of Ponte Corvo is now between me and the enemy; I cannot as a consequence pursue him, but I will hold myself continually in readiness to carry out the dispositions which are enclosed in your letter of the 15th.

I have the honor of making known to you the new report which I have received from the general commanding the cavalry of the 3rd Corps:

"Grossenhausen, 15 October, 4:30 in the evening.
"One column of the enemy which I have in sight is directing itself by Colleda; the other of which I saw marching on Osterhausen."

These reports appear good to me. Prince Hohenlohe, since the death of the Duke of Brunswick and the wounding of the King, appears to be invested with the supreme command; the rumor is circulating that he wishes to attempt a passage at arms near Frankenhausen.

A large part of the baggage was directed on Erfurt with some troops; the enemy must attempt this sacrifice in order to save their infantry and cavalry and to rally them under Magdebourg; such is the plan which has been settled upon, a Prussian officer has assured me.

Among the two thousand and some hundreds of prisoners, of whom I an already aware, there are to be found two generals, several colonels and sixty some officers of lower rank.

All the regiments of the 3rd Corps, some lost as they may have been, kept their flags, even the regiments which lost two thirds of their people; such ones are the 13th Light, 12th and 85th Line; the loss of officers is very considerable.

The 17th has a flag of the Royal Guard to the head of which the King gave.

P.S. I have this instant received a new report from the general commanding the light cavalry:

"Twenty-five pieces of cannon were taken this morning, as well as many caissons; the whole was abandoned and could not be taken away for lack of horses."

183 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel. etc.

Naumbourg, 16 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of rendering account to Your Highness of the position which the Corps is occupying.

The 1st Division is behind Weisenfels, having its advance guard on the route from Leipzig and some outposts on the left bank of the Saale in order to cover the bridge and to be master of the debouch on Mersebourg.

The 2nd Division is occupying the position of Freybourg and is linked by some posts and patrols with the 1st Corps.

The 3rd Division is placed a league forward of Naumbourg, mounted, on the route from Leipzig, having the Wethaubach on its front.

The 2nd and 12th Regiments of chasseurs are at Keina, with orders to thrust strong reconnaissances on Mersebourg, Halle and Eisleben.

The 1st Regiment of chasseurs is in front of Weisenfeld, in order to observe the routes from Leipzig, Pegau and Altenbourg.

I have the honor of sending Your Highness the report of General Friant. It will make known to you the necessity of providing for the replacement of the superior officers who are lacking to several of the regiments which compose it.

The diverse movements which the 3rd Corps has carried out, since the 14th have not yet allowed me to gather the totality of the reports. As soon as they reach me I will hasten to have the honor of having them delivered to you by a general.

184 - To the Emperor and King.

Naumbourg, 16 October 1806

Sire, the felicitations which Your Majesty was good enough to address to Your 3rd Corps and to the generals who command it, have touched the deepest feelings of them all; already, Sire, their devotion to your person was without limit; they would not know how to add to it, but they are burning to find the occasion of giving you new proofs of it. For our wounded Your Majesty's expression of satisfaction is going to become a source of consolation for the fact that they will not be able to run to other dangers as soon as their comrades. As to the brave men we have lost, Sire. they died as heroes; their last prayer was for their well loved sovereign.

Permit me, Sire, insofar as what concerns me, to express to you how much I am touched by the praise of Your Majesty; my blood belongs to you; I will spill it with pleasure on all occasions, and my reward will be to merit your esteem and your good will.

185 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

Naumbourg, 17 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of rendering account to Your Highness that there are around 2000 prisoners at Naumbourg, and that the surrounding villages are swarming with them; I have the honor of informing Your Highness of this, in order that you give orders with regard to them, considering the departure of the corps, as well as the transportation which Your Highness was good enough to inform me, should take place to another point than that which had at first been designated.

I likewise have the honor of informing Your Highness that after the authorization which you gave me for it, I left at Naumbourg the 85th Regiment instead of the 13th Regiment of light infantry or the 12th Line. Battalion Commander Husson, an officer of steadiness and great distinction, who commands this regiment, will command the fortress of Naumbourg. He is charged with taking the orders of Your Highness for the transportation of the prisoners.

186 - General Gudin to Marshal Davout Naumbourg

17 October 1806

I have the honor of rendering account to you that, in conformance with your orders, my division left its position at Neufleming at four o'clock in the morning, 14 October in order to cross the Saale at the bridge of Kosen; at six o'clock the head of the division crossed the defile; and the 25th Regiment of line infantry, commanded by Colonel Cassagne, formed in column to the right of the Erfurt causeway, while the 85th arrived on the left, the 21st Regiment of line infantry following the movement of the 85th and the 12th that of the 25th.

Arrived at the heights of the village of Hassenhausen, the reconnoitering by the 1st Regiment of chasseurs encountered the enemy and came to assemble on the 25th Regiment. General Gauthier then made this regiment form square and scarcely was this maneuver completed than a battery of 6 enemy pieces placed forward of the village commenced a very lively fire, and which would have made us suffer greatly if General Gauthier had not had it seized by two companies of grenadiers and one of voltiguers, under the direction of his aide de camp Captain Lagoublaye; this charge was at the same time supported by a detachment of the 1st Regiment of chasseurs commanded by Captain Hullot, and by the fire of our artillery established on the flanks of the 25th.

We then moved to the front of the village of Hassenhausen ; the enemy wished to profit from the isolation in which the 25th found itself; this unit had to resist a cavalry charge supported by a battery comparable to that which we had just seized, but they repulsed it with the greatest vigor. During this time the 25th advanced on the left.

The effort which the enemy made on my right determined me to have the 21st Regiment of the line move there; and, scarcely had this regiment arrived, than it was vigorously charged by the cavalry, but the fire of this regiment obliged the enemy to beat a prompt retreat.

The 12th Regiment arrived then behind the 21st Regiment; the Prussian cavalry again wished to attempt a charge, but the meager success which it had had in the two preceding ones and the aspect of the regiment prevented them.

The 85th Regiment during these events was on the left, fighting under the leadership of its brave Colonel Viala.

The enemy, seeing that a majority of our forces were moving on the right, where I had assembled nearly all my artillery, extended himself on his side and directed the attacks against the 85th, which had then to combat infantry, cavalry and artillery.

This regiment repulsed several charges directed against it, but it would unquestionably have succumbed; if the 12th Regiment, commanded by Colonel Vergez, had not promptly moved to its rescue. This latter was scarcely on the ground than it was assailed by all the forces that the enemy had on this point; and, without the extreme bravery as it deployed, the division, turned completely on its left, ran the greatest dangers. While the 12th Regiment moved to the left and behind the village of Hassenhausen, the 21st Regiment, under the orders of Colonel Dufour, established itself forward of there, occupying the village by its center.

The resistance of the regiments of the division against such superior forces having given the time to the 1st Division to come to our rescue, the battle became offensive again; and the efforts which we had made to hold the village of Hassenhausen were crowned with the greatest success, for the enemy was obliged to abandon to us all the artillery which he had left at this point.

The Corps being in line, the division marched on the village of Tauchwitz, pursuing the enemy before it, and this village was captured with the greatest energy; a company of sappers, among others, entered there by the bayonet, overthrew everything which was to be found in front of it and took a goodly number of prisoners; a small detachment of the 2nd Regiment of chasseurs, led by Captain Decouz, also charged very appropriately and with success.

We next moved on the village of Popel, which was also captured with the same facility, and the division came to form up on the screen which dominates the villages of Auerstaedt and Reisdorf.

While we were executing this movement, General Petit, having with him 400 men of the 12th and 21st Regiments, contributed powerfully to the capture of the Eckartsberg plateau, which was the last exploit of the day and where the remainder of the artillery, which the enemy had put in battery against us, was captured.

I would not know how, Marshal, to praise too highly the conduct of the officers of the units of my division; all have shown that they are worthy of making up part of the great Corps and of the commander in chief to whom our august sovereign has confided the direction of it.

I have particularly cited to you General Petit, who was wounded, had a horse killed and another hit by three balls;

General Gauthier, who also had a horse killed under him and who himself wounded; Adjutant Major Delotz, chief of staff of the division, an officer of the greatest merit, who had his thigh punctured by a musket ball;

Colonel Viala, who received a musket ball in the kidneys and a horse killed;

Colonel Cassagne, lightly wounded, and whose horse was carried away by a cannon ball;

Battalion Commander Grouguet, a very distinguished officer, who had his thigh carried away by a ball and his horse killed under him;

Battalion Commander Husson who took command of the 85th, replacing the brave Colonel Viala;

Battalion Commanders Vaugrigneuse, of the 21st; Saint-Faust, who had a horse killed and Lavallee, of the 25th; the latter was wounded three times, without wishing to leave the field of battle.

I also have much with which to be pleased about the staff officers:

Battalion Commander Gudin; Lieutenant de Creutzer, hit lightly by a ball in the right arm without contusion and several in his clothes; Squadron Commander Cabrol; my three aides de camp; deputy Captains Ferraris and Massot, and the engineer Captain Sires; Captain Lagoublaye, aide de camp of General Gauthier, who had his knee shattered, Lieutenant Frossart, also aide de camp of General Gauthier, who had a horse killed, and Lieutenant Guyot, aide de camp of General Petit, who had a horse killed under him.

I must also praise the artillery, and particularly Squadron Commander Pelegrin, who commanded it.

It is impossible for me to point out to you all the brave men who distinguished themselves during this memorable day, but I particularly recommend to your good will all those whom I have just designated. I also attach the reports which have been forwarded to me by the generals and colonels, and therein several of them are to be found described.

The loss of the enemy has been enormous in killed and wounded; we have taken 1,200 prisoners, and the division is able to count having taken 25 pieces of cannon and one flag.

I have also suffered considerably, and, according to the reports which have been furnished me, our loss exceeds 3,500 men, among whom are to be found 124 officers.


187 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel. etc.

Leipzig, 18 October 1806

I have the honor of rendering account to Your Highness that all the information from the countryside, which is unanimous, places no unit of Prussians between Leipzig and Dresden, as well as on the roads from Dessau, from Wittenberg and from Torgau. Some days ago several Saxon officers came to Leipzig to recommend that all the wandering Saxons or others who arrive at Leipzig be directed on Muhlberg-on-the-Elbe.

Consternation exists between the Mulda and the Elbe. Detachments have been en route in all directions for four hours in order to intercept dispatches and couriers, and to have news of the enemy; these detachments will go partway at night and return during the day. I will have the honor of forwarding to Your Highness the important news which reaches me.

The unit beaten by Marshal Bernadotte had to fall back on Magdebourg.

Tomorrow, if I have not received orders, about eight o'clock in the morning, the army will put itself on the march. The 1st Division will move near Breitenfeld and the remainder between Breitenfeld and Leipzig: without this movement, I would be unable to be in a position to execute the orders of Your Highness.

The captured pontoon train remained at Naumbourg, lacking horses, having been obliged to procure some horses in order to replace those killed the 14th, but I required 150 draught horses here in order to seek the pontoons; finally, if they arrive too late, we will push on in order to fulfill the intentions of the Emperor.

Everyone is very well disposed; I have seen a little sadness on the men's faces only in two regiments, but these are those which lost more than half of their people, and I guarantee that they are still susceptible to being electrified, His Majesty can count on his 3rd Corps.

I had the honor of having passed on to Your Highness, by my aide de camp Trobriant, the letter intercepted here.

Some reports have the King of Prussia wounded in the battle of the 14th.

188 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

Duben, 18 October 1806

I have the honor of rendering account to Your Highness that the 1st Division is in front of Duben and the other two on the left bank of the Mulda.

This morning, there passed here a battalion and around 80 horses of the troops beaten at Halle; the greater part were without arms; all the other regiments should make their retreat on Magdebourg. No one was awaiting us here; also no arrangements had been made for burning the bridge. I have every reason to believe it will be the same as that of Wittenberg. This morning at Wittenberg there were only forty old invalids who have done service in the fortress for an age, and since then no enemy troops have withdrawn on this route; those of which I spoke above took the route from Torgau.

Of other troops at Dresden there are only the guards; and for three days they have there been in the most complete ignorance and, as a consequence, in the greatest tranquility. The travelers coming from Silesia say that, much is said of the Russians, but everyone declares having seen none of them.

I will have some detachments of infantry and cavalry set out tonight, in order to surprise the bridge on the Elbe at Wittenberg, and I hope that tomorrow before nightfall the entire Corps will be on the right bank of the river. I left, in accordance with the orders of Your Highness, the 13th Regiment of light infantry at Leipzig.

Lord Morpeth should have passed Hambourg 6 October, as ambassador extraordinary to the King of Prussia, in order to treat with him on subsidies. A traveler coming from Berlin assured me that everyone there was in the most complete ignorance, that it was believed even that the French were beaten and that there had been rejoicing on this occasion.

189 - To the Major General of the Grand Army

Prince of Neufchatel, etc.

Wittenberg,, 20 October 1806

My lord, I have the honor of rendering account to Your Highness that the advance guard of the 3rd Corps crossed the Elbe today, at ten o'clock in the morning, and entered Wittenberg. The Prussians, at the approach of the French, set fire to the bridge, but did not remain in order to oppose its rescue; Colonel Guyon, of the 12th Chasseurs, promptly carried it, which was most successful; everything was repaired; the artillery is crossing..

The light cavalry, the 1st and 2nd Divisions will take position forward, on the routes from Magdebourg and Berlin; the 3rd will be on the left bank of the Elbe.

Now I pray Your Highness to make known to me where you wish that I direct the bridge train which is following me and which has become useless to me.

I thought it was important that the Emperor learn promptly of the passage of the Elbe; this is why I did not wish to wait to send you an officer, preferring to send a second one of them to you if I learn something new here.

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