Battle of Dennewitz
|Battle of Dennewitz|
|Part of the War of the Sixth Coalition|
Battle of Dennewitz, visible in the middle is the Swedish crown prince Karl Johan with lancers behind him, to the right Prussian infantry can be seen formed into a square. Painting by Alexander Wetterling 1842.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Dennewitz (German: Schlacht von Dennewitz) took place on 6 September 1813 between the forces of the First French Empire and an army of Prussians and Russians of the Sixth Coalition. It occurred in Dennewitz, a village in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, near Jüterbog, 40 kilometres (25 mi) southwest of Berlin.
In late August 1813, Napoleon decided to order a general offensive to take Berlin, the Prussian capital, with the overall goal of knocking the Prussians out of the war. Marshal Oudinot's corps advanced towards this objective along three separate roads. The fighting that took place on 23 August was essentially three isolated actions at Blankenfield, Grossbeeren, and Sputendorf. In each case the Allies prevailed and Oudinot retreated to Wittenberg. At this point Napoleon appointed Marshal Michel Ney to command.
Ney, with around 58,000 men, renewed the advance on Berlin on 6 September, but moving first easterwards in order to advance on Berlin from the Southeast. This was because he mistakenly expected Napoleon, away to the southeast near Dresden, to support him from this direction. He encountered mixed elements of Prussian, Russian, and Swedish troops under the overall command of Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden (formerly French Marshal Bernadotte) at Dennewitz. Ney had decided to move his entire army down a single road and was shadowed to the north by Bülow's III Corps. While this allowed Ney to maintain communications with his entire army, the single road stacked his army for miles. As a result, the battle swayed back and forth with the arrival of fresh French and Allied reinforcements throughout its course.
The Prussian General Tauentzien was at Jüterbog, blocking Ney's route to Berlin. Ney's troops reached Dennewitz as Bülow was approaching Jüterbog along an eastward route to their north. To keep Tuentzien and Bülow from uniting, the French occupied the heights north of Dennewitz now known as the Denkmalsberg (Monument Hill). Despite early damage done to Tauentzien's Corps, Bülow saved the situation by taking the hill. This was followed by a charge of the Brandenburg Dragoons down the hill. This gave time for the Prussian units which had earlier wavered to regroup.
There were signs that all was not well in the French army at this time. The French empire was seriously short of cavalry troops and mounts since the 1812 Russian campaign. As a result, there was a lack of screening and reconnaissance. The French command situation was also strained, as Oudinot was angered at being placed under Ney's command. Marshal Ney was determined to advance with all haste to Berlin and this, combined with the poor reconnaissance, allowed the French army to walk right into an assembled Allied defense. Initially forced back, the Prussian elements of Bernadotte's army were reinforced by General Bülow and recovered the lost ground. Bülow would now assume command of the allied side for most of the remainder of the day.
A see-sawing battle now developed, but just as the French appeared on the verge of a victory, Ney, not helped by a lack of support from Oudinot, made a mistake that swung the battle. Having joined in the fighting personally and being unaware of the tactical situation due to a rainstorm on the battlefield, Ney ordered Oudinot to form a reserve. This pull back by Oudinot was perceived as a retreat and the Allies redoubled the attack.
Under great pressure, the French were forced back. Bernadotte arrived with his Swedish army on the French left flank. The French, already falling back under heavy pressure, were routed. The French suffered 10,000 casualties, the Allies some 11,000.
Bavaria withdrew from the war as a result of the failure of the Berlin campaign. Other German states were now wavering in their support of the French Empire. Friedrich Wilhelm von Bülow was subsequently ennobled as Graf von Dennewitz.
Order of battle
- 3 Korps: Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow
- 3rd Bde: Hesse-Homburg: 2nd E Prus Grenadier battalion, 3rd E Prus IR, 4th Res IR, 3rd E Prus LW IR, 1st Hussars.
- 4th Bde: Thuemen: 4th E Prus IR, 5th Res IR, Elbe IR, E Prus Jaegers, Pommern Kurassers.
- 5th Bde: Borstell: 1st Pommern IR, Pommern Gren bn, 2nd Res IR, 2nd Mark LW IR, Pommern Hussars.
- 6th Bde: Krafft: Kolberg IR, 9th Res IR, 1st Mark LW IR, 1st Pommern LW Cavalry.
- Cavalry Reserve: Oppen
- Bde. Treskow: Brandenburg Dragoons, Koenigin Dragoons, W Prus Uhlans.
- Bde. Malzahn: 2nd Pommern LW, 4th Kurmark LW, 2nd Kurmark LW, 2nd W Prus Dragoons.
- Bde. Cossacks: Bychalov II Pulk, Illowaisky V Pulk.
- Artillery 3: 12-pdr Foot (Prus-2 batteries), 12-pdr Foot (Russian-2 batteries), 6-pdr Horse (Prus-3 batteries), 6-pdr Foot (Prus-4 batteries).
- 4 Korps: Bogislav Friedrich Emanuel von Tauentzien: lightly engaged.
- Swedish Corps: not engaged.
Commander: Marshal Michel Ney
- IV Corps: General of Division Henri Gatien Bertrand
- 12th Division (French): Charles Antoine Morand: 1st Bde. Belair (Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Toussaint.
- 15th Division (Italian): Achille Fontanelli: 1st Bde. St Andre, 2nd Bde. Moroni, 3rd Bde. Martel.
- 38th Division (Wurttemberg): Franquemont: 1st Bde. Stockmayer, 2nd Bde. Spitzenberg.
- Cavalry IV: 24th Lt Cav Bde. Jett: (Wurttemberg & Poles).
- Artillery IV: 12-pdr Foot (2 batteries), 6-pdr Horse (3 batteries).
- VII Corps: General of Division Jean Reynier
- 24th Division (Saxon): Lecoq: 1st Bde. Brause (Guards, Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Mellentin (Grenadiers).
- 25th Division (Saxon): Sahr: 1st Bde. Bosch (Grenadiers, Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Rissel.
- 32nd Division (French): Pierre François Joseph Durutte: 1st Bde. Devaux (Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Jarry (Lt inf), 3rd Bde. Lindenau (Wurzburg), 4th Bde. Zoltowski (Poles).
- Cavalry VII: Saxon Bde. (Hussars, Lancers).
- Artillery VII (Saxon): 12-pdr Foot, 6-pdr Horse (2 batteries).
- XII Corps: Marshal Nicolas Oudinot
- 13th Division (French): Michel Marie Pacthod: 1st Bde. Bardet (Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Cacault.
- 14th Division (French): Guilleminot: 1st Bde. Gruyer (Lt inf), 2nd Bde. Villeret.
- 29th Division (Bavarian): Clemens von Raglovich: 1st Bde. Beckers, 2nd Bde. La Traille.
- 29th Lt Cav Bde. (Westphalian & Hessian): Wolff
- Artillery XII (Bavarian): 12-pdr Foot (2 batteries).
- III Cavalry Corps: General of Division Jean-Toussaint Arrighi de Casanova
- Blücher, scourge of Napoleon, Michael Leggiere
- also German: Schlacht bei Jüterbog (Battle near Jüterbog)
- Elting: Swords around a throne.
- Smith, Digby, Napoleonic Battles Data Book, Greenhill, 1998.