The battle of Schleiz (9 October 1806) was a minor clash early in the War of the Fourth Coalition and saw the French defeat an isolated detachment on the left of the Prussian army.
At the start of the war the Prussians had advanced into Saxony, forcing the Saxons to join the alliance against Napoleon. The combined Prussian-Saxon army then remained in Saxony while its leaders attempted to come up with a plan.
In the meantime Napoleon had decided to attack from the south, across the Thuringerwald and advance towards Leipzig. The French army was split into three columns to cross the wooded hills of the Thuringerwald, each of which was judged to be capable of defeating any smaller enemy force they encountered. The central column contained Bernadotte's and Devout's corps, and was shielded by some of Murat's cavalry.
The three columns began their march on 8 October. On the first day all they encountered were scattered cavalry, but on 9 October the central column ran into an isolated Prussian force at Schliez.
This force consisted of 6,000 Prussians and 3,000 Saxons under the command of the Prussian general Freidrich Tauenzein. This small force was on the far left of the Prussian army.
Tauenzein's force was attacked by two brigades of light cavalry (Lasalle's and Milhaud's), supported by two dragoon divisions and some of Bernadotte's infantry. Napoleon's often-wounded aide Comte Jean Rapp led part of the French charge. The Austrians were forced to abandon their position and retreated towards Jena.
On the next day the French won a larger battle at Saalfeld (10 October 1806), in which Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia was killed. These two battles alerted the Prussians to Napoleon's presence on their left, and forced them into the series of manoeuvres that ended in defeat at Jena and Auerstädt on 14 October 1806.
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