Combat of Gorlitz, 23 May 1813

The combat of Görlitz (23 May 1813) saw the French force their way across the River Neisse, on the border between Saxony and Silesia, in the aftermath of their victory at Bautzen (20-21 May 1813).

After the battle of Bautzen the Prussian and Russian armies retreated east into Silesia, while their high command argued about what to do next. Early on 23 May the Allies crossed the Neisse, with their right heading for Waldau and their left toward Lauban. A rearguard was left to defend the Neisse at Görlitz, containing troops from Wintzingerode's corps, including Ilovysky XII's Cossacks. 

At nine in the morning Reynier's largely Saxon VII Corps arrived in front of Görlitz. The Allies held the east bank of the river, which was clearly not a major obstacle, as Reynier's first move was to sent his advance guard, the Saxon light cavalry, across the river. This force was attacked by superior forces from the Russian

The French advance guard, made up of the 'chevau-légers Saxons', crossed the river and attacked the enemy. They were badly outnumbered, attacked on two sides, and forced to retreat across the river.

Reynier responded to this setback by moving his artillery to the front and bombarding the Allied positions across the river. He also began work on the rapid construction of a bridge of boats.

Once the bridge was completed the Saxon light cavalry, supported by some of Reynier's heavy cavalry, crossed the river once again, while infantry from VII Corps crossed the new bridge. This was too much for the Allies, and their rearguard retreated into Silesia.

Over the next few days the two forces clashed several more times (combat of Hainau, 27 May, combat of Sprottau/ Prottau, 27 May and combat of Hoyerswerda (28 May), and the Allies ended up in a rather dangerous position in Silesia, before the fighting was temporarily ended by the Armistice of Pleischwitz (2 June 1813).

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 March 2017), Combat of Gorlitz, 23 May 1813 ,

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