Europe 1813: German Campaign of 1813
The Russians liberated Berlin from the French in early March 1813, encouraging Prussia to join the Sixth Coalition and declare war on France. Together the two nations invaded Saxony and threatened the French hold over Germany.
4 Mar 1813 Chernyshyov’s Liberation of Berlin▲
In early March 1813 the Russian prince Peter Wittgenstein, advancing across northern Prussia, crossed the Oder, while three other Russian armies—under Prince Alexander Chernyshyov, Prince Kutuzov, and Count Miloradovich—entered Prussia via the Duchy of Warsaw. Opposing them was the French Viceroy of Italy, Eugène de Beauharnais, who decided to pull his forces back to the line of the Elbe. This meant abandoning Berlin, which fell to Cossacks and advance Russian forces under Chernyshyov on the 4th.
12 Mar–31 May 1813 Cossacks in Hamburg▲
In March 1813 the French governor of Hamburg, Claude Carra Saint-Cyr, evacuated that city with his troops and was defeated on the Elbe. The people of Hamburg immediately threw off French rule and a few days later a force of Cossacks arrived to support them. Outraged at Saint-Cyr’s actions, Napoleon sent Marshal Davout to retake the city, which he did in late May.
16–31 Mar 1813 Fall of Napoleonic Saxony▲
In March 1813 Russian and Prussian forces crossed into the Kingdom of Saxony, rapidly occupying Dresden and Leipzig. The Saxon king Frederick Augustus I, unwilling to challenge either the invading Allies or to publicly break with Napoleon, avoided direct conflict by withdrawing south towards the Austrian border. The next month the king concluded an alliance with neutral Austria, but after Napoleon’s victory at Lützen in early May, he felt compelled to realign with France. Despite these diplomatic maneuvers, Saxony would remain the principal arena of the war in Germany until Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig in October, and would not regain its independence until mid 1815.
17 Mar 1813 An Mein Volk▲
On 17 March 1813 King Frederick William III of Prussia formally declared war on France, although Prussia had in fact invaded French-aligned Saxony one day earlier. For the first time, the king addressed his subjects, “Prussians and Germans”, to appeal for their support in the fight against Napoleon. The proclamation—titled An Mein Volk (“To my people”)—affirmed the unity of crown, state, and nation, and led to a massive expansion of the Prussian Army to meet the needs of the war.