Europe 1813: Battle of Leipzig

By October 1813 Russian, Prussian, Austrian, and Swedish armies were converging on the French in Saxony, prompting Napoleon to pull back to Leipzig. However, he was still severely outnumbered and, despite Napoleon’s generalship, the Allies decisively defeated the French in a four-day battle.

Main Events

14 Sep–7 Oct 1813 Cossack raid on Cassel

In mid September 1813 Russian and Prussian forces crossed the Elbe into the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia and laid siege to Magdeburg. Leading a force of five Cossack regiments, six squadrons of regular cavalry, and four guns, the Cossack commander Alexander Chernyshyov raided across the country, frightening the Westphalian king Jerome Bonaparte into fleeing his capital, Cassel (Kassel). Chernyshyov held Cassel for several days—and seized its stores and treasury—before abandoning the city and returning back east to the wikipedia

7 Oct 1813 Battle of the Bidassoa

In early October 1813 Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington, led almost 90,000 British, Portuguese, and Spanish troops against Nicolas Soult’s 62,000-strong French lines behind the Bidassoa river, between the Pyrenees and the Atlantic coast. Learning that, unbeknownst to the French, the lower Bidassoa was fordable, Wellington launched a surprise attack on the relatively weak French coastal positions and thereby outflanked the enemy. Although casualties were light on both sides, Soult’s men abandoned their positions, leaving the Allies with a foothold on French wikipedia

8 Oct 1813 Treaty of Ried

On 8 October 1813, after several months of persuasion attempts by the Austrians, King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria agreed to sign the Treaty of Ried with the Austrian Empire. In accordance with the treaty, Bavaria left the Confederation of the Rhine and, on 14 October, declared war on Napoleon, making the French position in Saxony precarious. Following this action, Prussia and Russia also joined the Treaty of Ried, confirming Austrian guarantees of Bavaria’s independence and territorial continuity after the wikipedia

16–19 Oct 1813 Battle of Leipzig

In October 1813 four Allied armies—the Russians under Tsar Alexander I, the Austrians under Karl von Schwarzenberg, the Prussians under Gebhard von Blücher, and the Swedes under Crown Prince Charles John (Bernadotte)—converged on the French in Saxony, prompting Napoleon to withdraw westwards from Dresden to the more defensible position of Leipzig. Here, from the 16th to the 19th, some 185,000 French and allied troops held off the attacks of a growing Allied force that eventually amounted to over 350,000 men in what would be dubbed the ‘Battle of the Nations’, the largest single engagement of the Napoleonic Wars. Ultimately Allied numbers prevailed and, after suffering some 73,000 casualties—including captured and defected—for 54,000 Allied killed and wounded, Napoleon fled the battle, narrowly escaping across the Elster River with the remnants of the Grande Armé wikipedia