Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807

Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807


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Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807

The Russian Attack and Heilsberg
From Heilsberg to Friedland
Battlefield
The Battle
The French Attack
Aftermath

The battle of Friedland (14 June 1807) was the final battle of the War of the Fourth Coalition, and was a major French victory that forced Tsar Alexander to begin peace talks. The Fourth Coalition emerged from the ruins of the Third, which had involved Austria, Russia and Britain. The Austrians and Russians had been crushingly defeated at Austerlitz, and the Austrians had withdrawn from the fight. The Prussians were forced to swap some territory and to join an alliance against Britain, but this was hugely unpopular. In August 1806 the Prussians finally declared war on Napoleon, but their main army was crushed in the twin battles of Auerstädt and Jena (14 October 1806). These defeats didn't officially knock Prussia out of the war, and the King and Queen retreated into the far east of their kingdom, where they joined up with their Russian allies.

Napoleon decided to continue the war into the winter of 1806-1807. During this campaign a series of Napoleon's plans misfired, but eventually he got the major battle he had been searching for. Unfortunately for Napoleon the resulting battle of Eylau (8 February 1807) was a very costly draw. This was Napoleon's first real setback, and he was forced to spend the winter in Poland reorganising his armies and recovering from the heavy losses at Eylau. The Prussians still held Danzig and Konigsberg on the Baltic, and the main French effort in the first few months of the year was a ponderous siege of Danzig (18 March-27 May 1808).

For most of the winter and spring the two armies faced each other on the Passarge and Alle Rivers. These two rivers rise close to each other and head north. In their upper reaches they run parallel to each other, but the Alle then turns to the north-east and the Passarge to the north-west. The French were established on the upper Alle and the upper and middle Passarge. The remaining Prussians were on the lower Passarge and the Russians on the middle and lower Alle. Napoleon thought that the Russians might have launched an attack in an attempt to save Danzig, but after the city surrendered on 27 May he discounted that possibility. Instead he focused his efforts on his own upcoming offensive, which was to begin on 10 June.

The Russian Attack and Heilsberg

Napoleon had misjudged Bennigsen, the Russian commander. Bennigsen realised that Marshal Ney was potentially dangerously isolated around Bergfriede and decided to try and trap him. The Russians made their move on 5 June, catching Napoleon by surprise. The Russian plan was too complex, with six separate columns involved. Some were given the task of pinning down the French on the Passarge while others were to envelope Ney. In addition Ney was especially good at the fighting retreat. He was able to juggle his forces and take advantage of the uneven progress of the various Russian columns to hold them up and then to escape to the Passarge. By the end of 6 June the Russian offensive had run out of steam, and on 7 June Bennigsen decided to order a retreat.

Napoleon reacted quickly to the Russian offensive. His troops were already preparing to move, and they soon began to pursue the Russians north along the Alle. The Russians retreated along right bank (east), the French on the left bank (west). Napoleon expected to find the Russians at Güttstadt, and Bennigsen had indeed planned to make his stand there, but then changed his mind. Instead the Russians continued their retreat, heading for their fortified camp at Heilsberg, just past the Alle's turn to the north-east. The Russians posted rearguards on both banks of the river, while the main French force followed up on the left bank.

On 10 June the two sides clashed around Heilsberg. The battle fell into three phases. In the first phase the Russian rearguards held up the French for several hours. In the second Soult's corps attacked the Russian fortifications around Heilsberg, and suffered a costly reverse. The third and final phase saw Lannes repeat Soult's mistakes, although his attack began at dusk and didn't last for long, limiting the casualties he took.

On the following day the French threatened to outflank the Russian position at Heilsberg, and Bennigsen decided to continue his retreat north-east down the Alle.

From Heilsberg to Friedland

Napoleon continued to misjudge his opponent. The direct route from Heilsberg to the key Allied base at Königsberg ran north from Heilsberg, in the area between the two rivers. Napoleon assumed that Bennigsen would move down the right side of the Alle, cross at Friedland, and head for the road junction at Domnau, west of the River. Napoleon decided that this gave him a chance to annihilate the Russian army. The main body of the French army set off on the road to Domnau. Murat and Soult were sent due north towards Königsberg, with orders to storm the city if they thought they could manage it. Davout linked the main army to Soult and Murat. Lannes was sent towards Friedland with orders to capture the river bridges and stop the Russians retreating east from Domnau.

As the French moved north the country they discovered that the Russians were not at Domnau. Napoleon made another mistake, this time assuming that the Russians would continue all the way down the Alle to its junction with the River Pregel, which flows west to Königsberg. Lannes was ordered to occupy Friedland, secure the bridges, and send the mayor or other senior local official to Napoleon.

These orders meant that Lannes was heading into a dangerous position. On 13 June his corps and the main Russian army were both heading for Friedland, and Bennigsen soon realised that he had presented with another chance to defeat an isolated French corps. Lannes's advance guard were the first troops to reach Friedland, but the larger Russian advance guard arrived late on 13 June. After a cavalry skirmish at about 6pm the Russians occupied the town, and established a cavalry screen on the left bank of the Alle. French prisoners revealed that Lannes's advance guard was two miles away and the main body of V Corps even further back. This was when Bennigsen realised that he had a chance to defeat an isolated French corps.

Bennigsen and the leading part of the main Russian army began to arrive after 8pm. Bennigsen ordered his troops across as they arrived, although the exact pace is unclear. The Russian Imperial Guard was across by the end of 13 June, along with a large force of cavalry. The sources disagree on how quickly the rest of the army crossed over - Chandler has 10,000 Russian troops on the left bank by dawn at 3.30am, others say 25,000.

The overall Russian deployment is more clear. Prince Bagration and the advance guard, along with most of the cavalry, held the Russian left, around Sortlack. Platov's Cossacks, the Preobrazhensky Guard, the Cavalry of the Guard, the Finnish Dragoons and the Oliovopol Hussars were ordered north to guard the Russian right and seize crossing points over the Alle to the north of Friedland.

Lannes and Napoleon both reacted quickly to the news from Friedland. Lannes ordered Ruffin's cavalry brigade and part of Oudinot's grenadier division to rush towards Friedland, while he followed with Verdier's division and the rest of Oudinot's division. Napoleon sent Grouchy's dragoon division and Nansouty's cuirassier division to join Lannes.

Battlefield

The battlefield at Friedland was bordered on the east by the meandering River Alle, which flows from south to north past the town. The river ran north past the village of Sortlach, which would be at the southern edge of the battlefield. Just past the village it flowed through an 'S' bend, going east, then west, then east. The small town of Friedland sat on the north bank of this final eastern section. Just past the town the river turns north/ north-west and flows off of the battlefield. Friedland thus sat in a triangle of land with the river on two sides.

The western edge of the battlefield was marked by two further villages - Posthenen to the west of Friedland, and Heinrichsdorf to the north-west. Most of the area was open farmland, but there was one large forest, the Wood of Sortlach, in the area south-west of Sortlach village and south of Posthenen.

The entire battlefield was split in two by a stream, the Muhlen Teich, which flows east from Posthenen, runs past the northern side of Friedland, and runs into the Alle north-east of the town. To the north of the town the Muhlen Teich (Mill Stream) widened into a long narrow lake. The Muhlen Teich was a major obstacle to movement between the two flanks of the Russian army. The Russians did build a few bridges across the stream, but they weren't enough.

The only permanent bridge across the Alle ran into the centre of Friedland. The Russians built three pontoon bridges across the Alle, but these also ran into Friedland. As a result the only way out for the Russians if they needed to retreat into the narrowing triangle and then though the narrow streets of Friedland.

This was thus a very dangerous position in which to fight a major set-piece battle. The Russians had a river at their back, with limited ways to cross, a battlefield split in two, and plenty of changes for the French to split their army into isolated pockets. This wasn't important early in the battle, when the Russians were attempting to defeat Lannes's isolated division, but it was of vital importance once Napoleon arrived with large parts of his army.

The Battle

The battle began at around 2am. Ruffin's cavalry and Oudinot's grenadiers advanced into the Sortlack Wood, where they engaged in a prolonged fight with Russian skirmishes from the Guard Infantry.

Grouchy arrived at around 3pm and entered the battle to the north of Soult. He found himself facing more numerous Russian forces, and was being forced back. At around 6pm a force of Dutch cavalry from Mortier's corps arrived, and helped restore the position.

On the Russian right another powerful cavalry force, under General Gorchakov, headed towards Heinrichsdorf. Grouchy sent Nansouty to deal with this threat, and then committed his own troops to the same battle. The cavalry fighting on this front lasted until around 9am, and ended with the French in possession of Heinrichsdorf.

Bennigsen had already missed his best chance to defeat Lannes. By 9am the French had 9,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry on the field, facing some 46,000 Russians. Lannes's task was to keep Bennigsen occupied, without running the risk of suffering a major defeat. He achieved this in part by spreading out a thick line of skirmishes, and moving the rest of his troops around to give the illusion of a larger force. Equally important was Bennigsen's apparent belief that he had all morning to deal with Lannes. As a result the chance was missed. Mortier's men began to arrive at around 9.30am, and by 10am Lannes had 40,000 men under his command.

In the meantime the Russians were busily deploying across the river. Gorchakov was given command of the forces north of the Mill Stream, consisting of the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 8th Divisions and the larger part of the Russian cavalry. Bagration and Kologribov were in command south of the stream, with the 1st and 2nd Divisions and a smaller cavalry force. The Russian Imperial Guard and one standard division were kept in reserve. The six infantry divisions were formed in two lines. The front line consisted of the first and third battalions of each regiment in line and the second battalions behind them in columns. The second line was deployed in columns of battalions. The Cossacks guarded the right flank of the line. On the far left Bagration had 3,000 Jägers in the Woods of Sortlach, supported by two infantry battalions.

At about 9am the entire Russian line advanced around 1,000 paces to line up with the successful skirmishers at Sortlach. At the northern end of the line the Cossacks attacked around Heinrichsdorf, but they were repulsed by the cavalry from I and VI Corps, which arrived on the field just in time. A Russian infantry advance in the same direction ended when Mortier's corps arrived and took up a position at Heinrichsdorf.

The Russians had already missed their chance to defeat Lannes's isolated corps. Now they missed their chance to escape before the rest of Napoleon's army could arrive. Napoleon himself reached the battlefield at around noon and took command. He quickly drew up a plan for an attack that he hoped would allow him to destroy the Russian army.

The key to Napoleon's plan was the barrier of the Mill Stream. He hoped to attack with his right wing, and force the Russian left back into the narrow spit of land between the Alle and the stream. This would cut off the stronger Russian right and expose it to destruction (assuming that the Alle was un-fordable north of Friedland). Marshal Ney's corps, which was now approaching the battlefield, would take up the key position on the French right, between Posthenen and Sortlach. Lannes would shuffle to the left and form into two lines around Posthenen. Oudinot's division from Lannes's corps would slowly move left and try and distract the Russians. Mortier would form the French left, at Heinrichsdorf and on the road to Köngisberg. Mortier would be the hinge, staying in place, while Ney moved forward on the right. Marshal Victor's corps and the Imperial Guard would form the reserve. A strong cavalry force was posted on the French left, ready to harass the Russian right when it attempted to retreat. Napoleon was confident of victory, especially as the battle was to be fought on the anniversary of the Battle of Marengo.

The fighting died down between noon at 5pm. The French were waiting for their reinforcements to arrive, while the Russians were tired after a heavy day of marching of 13 June and the morning's efforts. Bennigsen could have slipped away during this pause, but instead he stayed in place. At about 4pm when Victor and the Imperial Guard began to appear he changed his mind, and he ordered a retreat. These sensible orders were soon cancelled, and the Russians remained in place. As the afternoon draw on they became increasingly hopeful that it was too late for a French attack. If Napoleon had decided to wait until his army was fully concentrated and attack on the following day, then the Russians could have slipped away overnight.

The French Attack

The signal for the French attack was a salvo from 20 guns. Most sources say this came at 5.30pm, although some place it at 5.00. This was followed by a full scale artillery bombardment.

Ney had drawn up his attack force in three large clearings in the woods. Marchand's Division was on the right, Bisson's division on the left and Latour-Maubourg's cavalry in the centre rear. This powerful force cleared the woods by 6pm and then attacked the Russian troops around Sortlach. The Russians were forced out of Sortlach village, and retreated into the loop of the Alle. Marchand pursued the fleeing Russians, and a gap opened up between his division and Bisson's. The Russians launched a cavalry attack into the gap, but this was hit from three sides - Latour-Maubourg's cavalry hit in the front and the two infantry divisions from the side. The Russian retreated, and Marchand returned from inside the loop to close up with Bisson. The French were now in a strong position, with Ney's leading troops across the narrow gap between the Alle and the Mill Stream. In order to take advance Napoleon ordered Victor's corps to advance to the south of the road to Eylau, left of Ney's advancing troops.

As Ney's two divisions advanced they came under heavy artillery fire from Russian guns on the far side of the Alle. They also came under fire from Bagration's men outside Friedland, and began to waver. Bagration then launched an attack with his reserve cavalry, which was able to cross the Mill Stream and hit the French left. Ney's men began to fall back in some disarray, and the Russians even captured the eagle of the 69th Line.

Ney was saved from further embarrassment by Victor's corps. First to arrive was Dupont's Division, which rushed into the gap on Ney's left and helped stabilise the line. Latour-Mauborg, Lahoussaye and Durosnel's cavalry then attacked and the Russian cavalry fell back.

This was followed by one of the more unusual events of the battle. General Senarmont, chief of artillery in Victor's Corps, led the advance. Senarmont formed two batteries of 15 guns and posted them on either side of Dupont's advance. The French artillery opened fire at 1,600 yards, but then advanced to 600 paces, then 300 paces, and eventually to within 60 paces. During this phase of the battle Senarmont's guns fired 3,000 rounds. The Russian infantry was devastated by this close range artillery fire. The Russian cavalry attempted to intervene, but was destroyed by a volley of close-range grapeshot. Bagration ordered his men to retreat into Friedland, pursued by the French.

North of the Mill Stream General Gorchakov launched an attack with his four divisions, hoping to lift the pressure on Bagration's men. Gorchakov's men were opposed by Lannes and Mortier's corps and Grouchy's cavalry, and were unable to make any progress. Napoleon also committed part of the Guard to this fight, to make sure that the Russians didn't retreat too soon.

By 7.30pm the French right had advanced so far that the Russian artillery had to fire into Friedland town. This caused fires that spread to the bridges, leaving the Russians trapped on the left bank. Ney's men fought their way into the town by around 8pm, and large numbers of Russians drowned attempting to swim across the river. Bennigsen committed the Russian Imperial Guard to the battle in Friedland, but without success. This attracted the attention of several French writers, who commented on the height of the Russian guardsmen.

By now Gorchakov realised that his line of retreat was under threat. He sent two divisions to try and recapture Friedland, and they were able to capture the eastern part of the town. However they found the pontoon bridge in this area on fire.

The Russians were saved from total disaster by the discovery of a ford at Kloschenen, downstream from Friedland. This was just passable by artillery, and the Russians were able to use the escaping guns to line the right bank of the river. Grouchy and d'Espagne's 40 cavalry squadrons were sent to try and stop the Russians from escape, but failed to make much impression. Murat's absence was noted by many, and the general belief was that he wouldn't have allowed the Russians to escape. The fighting finally died down at around 11pm.

Aftermath

Although Napoleon hadn’t quite achieved the destruction of the Russian army, he had won a major victory. The French lost around 8,000 men, the Russians around 20,000 killed and wounded. This was probably around a third of the Russian army, and the news convinced Tsar Alexander that he needed to seek peace.

The French crossed the Alle at Friedland on 15 June, after repairing the main river bridge. Konigsberg fell on 16 June, and by 19 June Murat's cavalry had reached the Niemen near Tilset. On the same day an envoy from the Tsar reached Napoleon's headquarters, and an armistice was agreed. This came into effect on 23 June.

Friedland was a great French victory, but it wasn't one of Napoleon's best. He was lucky that the Russians hadn’t been more aggressive when Lannes was standing alone, and a large part of his army never took part in the battle, having been sent north to Konigsberg. Bennigsen had played a major part in the French victory by choosing to fight on such terrible ground.

The most famous result of the battle of Friedland was the meeting between Napoleon and Tsar Alexander on a raft in the Neimen at Tilset. The resulting peace of Tilset could be said to mark the high point of Napoleon's career. Napoleon's diplomatic task was made easier by the helpless state of Prussia. He was able to be remarkably generous to the Russians in an attempt to win over Alexander, while at the same time humiliating Frederick William of Prussia. In a series of secret clauses the two Emperors agreed to split Europe into French and Russian spheres of influence. The Russians were given Finland and the French abandoned their Turkish allies. In return the Tsar agreed to join the Continental System and try to convince the Danes and Swedes to join. In contrast the Prussians lost Hesse Cassel and all possessions west of the Elbe (these went to the new Kingdom of Westphalia). In the east Prussia's Polish provinces were formed into a new Grand Duchy of Warsaw, officially ruled by the King of Saxony, but in reality by the French. Danzig began a free city under French control. The French also kept the fortress of Magdeburg. Prussia was reduced to her borders of 1772. Napoleon's dominant position in Continental Europe would hardly be challenged (outside Spain) until his own disastrous invasion of Russia of 1812.

Napoleonic Home Page | Books on the Napoleonic Wars | Subject Index: Napoleonic Wars


Napoleon Annihilates The Russian Army At Friedland

Today on June 14, 1807, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armee delivers a crushing defeat to the Russians at the Battle of Friedland.

The Battle of Friedland was the last major conflict in the War of the Fourth Coalition. It resulted in the utter defeat of the Russian army, forcing Tsar Alexander I back to the negotiating table. The bloody battle occurred near present-day Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. Earlier in February 1807, the two rival armies clashed at the Battle of Eylau — involving one of the largest cavalry charges in history. The two-day battle was one of the worst in the Napoleonic Wars. While Eylau resulted in a tactical victory for the French Emperor, it yielded little strategic value.

“What a massacre! And without any result!” - Marshal Ney on the Battle of Eylau

Another decisive battle was inevitable between France and Russia. In the spring of 1807, French forces besieged and captured the city of Danzig. With his northern flank now secure, Napoleon began marching northeast into Russia. Under the command of Levin August von Bennigsen, the Russian army launched two failed surprise attacks against the advancing French corps in early June. After losing the element of surprise, Bennigsen retreated deeper in Russia along the eastern bank of Alle River.

A few weeks later, scouts noticed that Marshal Lannes reserve corps of 26,000 men were isolated near the town of Friedland. Sensing an opportunity, Bennigsen ordered his 56,000 soldiers to cross the river on platoon bridges. The Russians began forming their entire army, supported by 120 cannons, on the west bank. The first divisions to cross immediately started harassing the lone French corps. Knowing that Napoleon’s three corps were only a short march away, Lannes expertly drew the Russians in. He boldly pinned Bennigsen in place for nine hours until his Emperor could arrive.

“Ride your horse into the ground if you have to, but tell the Emperor we’re fighting the entire Russian army!” - Marshal Lannes to his scout

Russian engineers tirelessly worked through the night building additional platoons bridges, allowing the remaining soldiers to cross faster. Bennigsen made a bold gamble. If this turned into a full-scale battle, he would have his rear to the river with no path to retreat. By morning, French reinforcements poured onto the battlefield. Their numbers eventually swelled to 65,000 compared to Bennigsen’s outnumbered 40,000 men. Napoleon’s diverse Grande Armee consisted of Dutch, Polish, Italian, and German recruits.

“We won’t catch the enemy making a mistake like this twice.” - Napoleon at the Battle of Friedland

The Battle of Friedland opened with a cavalry fight the Russian right flank, ending in a French victory. A stubborn series of skirmishes simultaneously occurred in the left flank in the Sortlack Woods. By noon, Napoleon, alongside the elite imperial guard, arrived at the center. The Emperor assessed the situation and launched a full-scale attack. Bennigsen responded by ordering a retreat. French cannon fire had lit the many of the town’s houses and bridges ablaze. The trap was set with the Russian army quickly collapsing. The retreat turned into a chaotic rout with many drowning in the river.

The Battle of Friedland was on the most decisive of the Napoleonic Wars — retribution for the results of Eylau. It confirmed the Emperor as the undisputed ruler of western and central Europe. His victory hastened the need for a peace treaty between the two rivals monarchs. Within a few weeks, Emperor Napoleon and Tsar Alexander famously signed the Treaty of Tilsit while floating on a barge in the Neman River.


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Battle of Friedland, 14th June 1807–the scenario

I wondered if anyone would be interested in the scenario docs for our Friedland game. A comment from our Kiwi mate Ion, 'Archduke Piccolo', demonstrated interest from at least one person, which is sufficient for me!

Click here for scenario document
Click here for the map
Click here for French-Allied order of battle
Click here for Russian order of battle

(Hopefully these links to Google docs will all work, they do for me. I'm sure someone will let me know if they do not)

6 comments:

James famously said that other periods are what you wargame when you're not doing Napoleonics, and I completely agree with him. He's done an amazing job with the scenario to produce such a balanced game: scenario design, like hex game design, is a skill in itself and I am very grateful he's done it. Much as I would like to push the French left flank back to the edge of the table and lay in wait for the Emperor, the scenario won't allow it! And I think Shako is ideally suited for these kind of major set-piece battles, provided one is fortunate enough to be able to keep the battle in place over a sufficiently long time to game it out.

I agree. I was thinking on the way home what a happy combination of scenario design and rules. We were neither free to charge across and crush Lannes et al or condemned to standing around doing nothing while the French arrived.


The Battle of Friedland, June 14,1807 Horace Vernet (1789-1863)

Horace Vernet &ndash The Battle of Friedland, June 14,1807
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Historical Events on June 14

1381 Richard II in England meets leaders of the Peasants' Revolt on Blackheath. The Tower of London is stormed by rebels who enter without resistance.

King Richard addresses the peasants. Wat Tyler lies wounded behind him. Illustration from a medieval manuscript.

Event of Interest

1535 Emperor Charles V's fleet sails under Andrea Doria to Tunis

    Catharina de Medici and Duke of Alva discuss Calvinism At 4:30 AM Willem Barents leaves Novaya Zemlya for Netherlands Jacques Le Maire sail to Zuidland/Terra Australis 1st breach-of-promise lawsuit: Rev Gerville Pooley, Virginia files against Cicely Jordan, he loses Russia and Poland sign Peace treaty of Polianov 1st compulsory education law in America passed by Massachusetts

Victory in Battle

1645 Battle of Naseby, Leicestershire: "New Model Army" under Oliver Cromwell & Thomas Fairfax beat royalists forces of English King Charles I

    Battle of the Dunes: English and French forces defeat the Spanish near Dunkirk during Franco-Spanish War Battle at Schooneveld: Michiel de Ruyter beats French/English fleet

Event of Interest

1775 US Army first forms as the Continental Army to fight American Revolutionary War

Event of Interest

1777 US Continental Congress adopts the Stars & Stripes flag, designed by Francis Hopkinson, replacing the Grand Union flag

Mutiny on the Bounty

1789 Captain William Bligh and his loyal men cast offf from HMS Bounty reach Timor, after sailing 5,800 km in a 6-metre launch

Event of Interest

    Battle of Marengo (Alessandria): Bonaparte vs Austria Emperor Napoleon I's French Grande Armee defeats the Russian Army at the Battle of Friedland in Prussia (modern Russian Kaliningrad Oblast) ending War of the Fourth Coalition Badi VII, king of Sennar, surrenders his throne and realm to Ismail Pasha, general of the Ottoman Empire, bringing the 300 year old Sudanese kingdom to an end

Event of Interest

1822 Charles Babbage proposes a "difference engine" in a paper to the Royal Astronomical Society entitled "Note on the application of machinery to the computation of astronomical and mathematical tables"


Battle Notes

Russian Army
• Commander: Bennigsen
• 5 Command Cards
• 4 Tactician Cards

5 3 1 1 2 1 2 3 4

French Army
• Commander: Napoleon
• 6 Command Cards
• 6 Tactician Cards
• Move First


Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807 - History

French Order of Battle for Friedland: 14 June 1807


The growing disorder in the Russian ranks provided the French gunners with a target which it was practically impossible to miss. Victor made the most of the opportunity and moved more than 30 guns to the front of his corps area. Commanded by the able artillery general Senarmont, the gunners manhandled their pieces boldly, starting at 1,600 yards, the range rapidly shortened to 600 paces, where the guns paused to pour a crippling salvo into the dense Russian masses. A short time later, the cannon were within 300, then 150, yards of the Russian front line. At last, the sweating gunners brought their smoking pieces to within 60 paces of Bennigsen&rsquos infantry. At such point-blank range, the French case-shot wrought terrible havoc upon their opponents, whole companies being reduced to gory shambles in a matter of seconds. The remnants of the Russian cavalry tried to destroy this impudent, death-dealing battery, but only shared the fate of their infantry colleagues.

-- David Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon

Best known for General de Division Hureau de Senarmont&rsquos &lsquoartillery charge&rsquo, the Battle of Friedland was fought on 14 June 1807 near the modern-day Russian city of Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg).

The battle can be divided into two phases: in the morning phase, Marshal Jean Lannes&rsquo Reserve Corps, along with two cavalry divisions (21,900 men and 33 guns), holds the advancing Russian army (46,000 men under General of Cavalry Leonti Leontievich, Baron Bennigsen) while French reinforcements gradually arrive in the afternoon phase, the reinforced Grand Armee under Napoleon goes over to the offensive, driving Bennigsen out of Friedland and across the Alle River.

Napoleon&rsquos losses were 10,400 killed and wounded (out of about 75,000-80,000 men total) Benningsen&rsquos army sustained 18,000 killed and wounded.

Researchers should note that French officers at the Battle of Friedland had not yet received their Napoleonic titles and should be referred to by their &lsquocommon&rsquo name examples include General de Division Etienne-Marie-Antoine Champion (comte de Nansouty), General de Brigade Pierre-Louis Binet (baron de Marcognet) and General de Brigade Antoine-Louis Popon (baron de Maucune). The sole exception was General de Division Alexandre-Antoine Hureau, baron de Senarmont, who held an ancien regime title.

A. Initial deployment (21,900 men and 33 guns)

Reserve Corps (15,470 men and 27 guns)

1st Brigade
General de Brigade Francois-Amable Ruffin

1st Provisional Regiment (2 battalions)[1]
2nd Provisional Regiment (2 battalions)[2]

2nd Brigade
General de Brigade Nicolas-Francois Conroux

3rd Provisional Regiment (2 battalions)[3]
4th Provisional Regiment (2 battalions)[4]

5th Provisional Regiment (2 battalions)[5]
6th Provisional Regiment (2 battalions)[6]

7th Provisional Regiment (2 battalions)
8th Provisional Regiment (2 battalions)

2nd Division (8 battalions 4,440 men)
General de Division Jean-Antoine Verdier

3rd (Saxon) Division (part only 3 battalions, 3,900 men)
Generalleutnant Georg-Friedrich-August von Polenz

1st Brigade

Grenadier Battalion &lsquoCerrini&rsquo
Infantry Regiment &lsquoBevilaqua&rsquo (1 bn)

Reserve Corps Artillery (480 men and 27 guns)
Colonel Alexandre-Pierre Navelet de La Massoniere

11/1st Foot Artillery Regiment
15/1st Foot Artillery Regiment
2 Saxon foot artillery batteries

4/2nd Horse Artillery Regiment (1/2 battery &ndash 3 guns)

Reserve Cavalry (3,180 men and 3 guns)

2nd Dragoon Division (1,630 men)
General de Division Emmanuel de Grouchy

2/2nd Horse Artillery Regiment (1/2 battery &ndash 3 guns)

I Corps Light Cavalry Brigade (1,300 men)
General de Brigade Jean-Louis-Chretien Carriere

1st (Provisional) Grenadier Division&rsquos Cavalry Brigade (250 men)

B. Reinforcements (60,285 men and 122 guns)

VIII Corps (12,970 men and 28 guns)

1st Division (10 battalions 6,850 men)
General de Division Pierre-Louis Dupas

Wurzburg Infantry Regiment (2 battalions):

2nd (Polish) Division (4,060 infantry 700 cavalry)[8]
General de Division Jan-Henryk Dabrowski (dit &lsquoDombrowski&rsquo)

Infantry Brigade
General de Brigade Amilcar Kosinsky

1st Regiment, Polish-Italian Legion (2 battalions): Colonel Gregoire Chlopicki
2nd Regiment, Polish-Italian Legion (2 battalions): Colonel Simon Biatowieyski
3rd Regiment, Polish-Italian Legion (2 battalions): Colonel Pierre Swiderski

Polish-Italian Legion Cavalry Regiment (3 squadrons): Colonel Alexander Rozniecki

VIII Corps Artillery (1,360 men and 28 guns)
Colonel Basile-Guy-Marie-Victor Baltus de Pouilly

1/1st Foot Artillery Regiment
1/8th Foot Artillery Regiment
1 foot artillery battery (Polish)
1 horse artillery battery (Dutch)

I Corps (19,990 men and 30 guns)

1st Division (10 battalions 6,850 men)
General de Division Pierre Dupont

32nd Line Regiment (2 battalions): Colonel Luc Duranteau
96th Line Regiment (3 battalions): Colonel Jean Chrisostome Cales

2nd Division (8 battalions 5,970 men)
General de Division Pierre Bellon (dit &lsquoLapisse&rsquo)

3rd Division (8 battalions 5,490 men)
General de Division Eugene-Casimir Villatte

6/1st Foot Artillery Regiment
11/1st Foot Artillery Regiment
1/8th Foot Artillery Regiment
2/8th Foot Artillery Regiment
2/3rd Horse Artillery Regiment
3/3rd Horse Artillery Regiment

Two formations attached to I Corps:

4th Dragoon Division (1,840 men and 3 guns)
General de Division Armand Lebrun

3/2nd Horse Artillery Regiment (1/2 battery &ndash 3 guns)

Saxon Cavalry Brigade (700 men)
Major Johann-Adolf, Freiherr von Thielmann

Leibkurassier Chevauxleger Regiment (3 squadrons)
Karabinier Chevauxleger Regiment (3 squadrons)
Prinz Johann Chevauxleger Regiment (3 squadrons)

VI Corps (13,415 men and 22 guns)

39th Line Regiment (2 battalions): Colonel Jacques-Pierre Soyer
76th Line Regiment (2 battalions): Colonel Jean-Pierre-Antoine Faure-Lajonquiere[10]

2nd Brigade
General de Brigade Labassee[11]

3rd Division (3 battalions 1,200 men)
General de Division Brun[12]

VI Corps Artillery (315 men and 22 guns)
General de Division Jean-Nicolas Seroux

9/1st Foot Artillery Regiment (6 &ndash 12pdr)
10/1st Foot Artillery Regiment (6 &ndash 8 pdr)
12/1st Foot Artillery Regiment (4 &ndash 8pdr)
1/ 2nd Horse Artillery Regiment (3 &ndash 4pdr)
5/ 2nd Horse Artillery Regiment (3 &ndash 4pdr)

Two formations attached to VI Corps:

1st Dragoon Division (2,400 men and 3 guns)
General de Division Marie-Nicholas-Marie de Fay

2/2nd Horse Artillery Regiment (1/ 2 battery &ndash 3 guns)

2nd Hussar Regiment (3 squadrons)
2nd Cuirassier Regiment (3 squadrons)

Imperial Guard (8,170 men and 36 guns)

3rd Brigade (1,100 men)
Major-Colonel Joseph Boyer

Sources:

Notes

[1] This unit was composed of elite companies from the 8th, 27th, 45th, 54th, 94th and 95th Line Regiments.

[2] This unit was composed of elite companies from the 9th Light Regiment and the 30th, 32nd, 33rd, 51st and 96th Line Regiments.

[3] This unit was composed of elite companies from the 10th, 24th and 26th Light Regiments and the 4th, 18th and 57th Line Regiments.

[4] This unit was composed of elite companies from the 17th and 21st Light Regiments and the 34th, 40th, 64th and 88th Line Regiments.

[5] This unit was composed of elite companies from the 6th and 16th Light Regiments and the 39th, 44th, 69th and 105th Line Regiments.

[6] This unit was composed of elite companies from the 7th and 16th Light Regiments and the 24th and 63rd Line Regiments.

[7] Harispe was promoted to Marshal of France by President Louis-Napoleon, later Emperor Napoleon III, on 11 December 1851.

[8] Several sources state that Dabrowski&rsquos two-brigade division was composed of the 2nd Polish Line, 3rd Polish Line, 4th Polish Line Regiments and the 1st Polish Chasseur and 5th Polish Chasseur Regiments. However, Polish infantry and cavalry units in 1807 all came from the &lsquoPolish-Italian Legion&rsquo (in French service from 2 February).

[9] Semelle was promoted to General de Brigade on 1 July 1807.

[10] Colonel Faure-Lajonquiere was mortally-wounded during the battle.

[11] No further biographical information was found on this officer.

[12] No further biographical information was found on this officer.

[13] Fresia was promoted to General de Division 11 days before the battle.


A close-up on: the Polish campaign, Friedland (14 June, 1807)

14 June, 1807, was the day on which Napoleon got his decisive battle in which he drove Alexander to defeat and to the negotiating table.

The Battle of Friedland
© Fondation Napoléon

14 June, 1807, was the day on which Napoleon got his decisive battle in which he drove Alexander to defeat and to the negotiating table. On the evening of the battle at Friedland Napoleon was to write to the Empress Joséphine: “My dear, I will only write a few words because I am exceedingly tired I’ve been in a bivouac for many days now. My children have worthily celebrated the anniversary of the battle of Marengo. The battle of Friedland will be as celebrated and glorious for my people as those of Austerlitz and Jena. The whole of the Russian army has been routed, I have taken 80 cannon, there are 30,000 men dead or captured, 25 Russian generals killed, wounded or taken, the Russian Guard has been crushed … “.


From Friedland to Tilsit (June to July 1807)

In the early morning, Bennigsen decides to cross the river, deal with Lannes’ troops and then re-cross the river. However, the geography of Friedland impedes him (winding river, large lake, sinuous streets in the town). Bennigsen set up his troops in front of Lannes, and started by attacking his left wing, and a see-saw fight ensues. Holding on by his teeth, at 8am Lannes receives reinforcements from Grouchy’s dragoon divisions and Mortier’s 8th corps. The battle gradually fades towards midday when Napoleon arrives on the scene. He sees that Bennigsen has an untenable situation, has a brief lunch, then dictates his plans to his corps commanders: a powerful attack on Bennigsen’s left by Ney’s 6th corps, followed by attacks by the centre and the left, thus firing on three sides against the Russians hemmed in against the river. Despite desperate attempts to retreat, the Russian forces suffer more than 20,000 casualties. Napoleon however does not pursue them in order to complete the rout. He spares them, thus preparing the way for his diplomatic volte-face, the treaty with Alexander.

16 June, 1807
The town of Königsberg capitulated on 16 June, 1807, before Soult. Napoleon wrote to Josephine: “Königsberg is mine. I found a great number of cannon there, as well as large amounts of stores, and finally more than 160,000 guns from Britain.”
(Correspondance n° 12760, Friedland, 16 June, 1807)

“On 17 June, Napoleon moved his headquarters to the metairie at Druscken, near Klein-Schirrau on 18 June, he took his headquarters to Skaisgirren on 19, at two in the afternoon he entered Tilsit.”
(80th Bulletin de la Grande Armée, Tilsit, 19 June, 1807)

19 June
A British force (the first of two) under Lieutenant General Cathcart, numbering 5,000 men, set sail for Stralsund to aid the Russia Prussian forces, ignorant of the fact that their allies had already been beaten.

21 June
A Franco-Russian armistice was signed on 21 June, 1807. The day before, Napoleon wrote to Talleyrand regarding his plans: “This evening I think that I shall have an armistice which will take the towpath of the Niemen as its limit, and the condition will be the surrender of the fortresses at Graudenz, Kolberg and Pillau.” (Correspondence n° 12872, Tilsit, 20 June, 1807)

25 June
Alexander I and Napoleon’s summit on the river at Tilsit (Sovetsk)

(Extracts from the previously unpublished journal of Ernst Ludwig Siehr, Councillor of the Commission of Justice in Tilsit, for the period June-July 1807, published in the brochure 200 years treaty of Tilsit, ed. Bartheldruck, Arnstadt, 2007.)
“Starting on 21 June [1807], beams were brought for the building of a pontoon bridge. At the same time, the members of the deputation began negotiating an armistice. The negotiations lasted until 23 June when Marshal Duroc gave Alexander an ultimatum, and the armistice was agreed with Russia on 24 June. At 9pm on the same day, the order was given to build two floating ‘houses’ for the meeting of the two sovereigns, which was supposed to take place in the centre of the river Memel. 150 French carpenters immediately started work on the ‘houses’ and the first was finished and floated by midday on 25 June. [According to eyewitnesses, the ‘maisonette’ was exceedingly well furnished and included a large finely decorated ‘salon’ with two facing doors, beyond which stood two antechambers. The walls were covered with garlands of flowers and foliage, and on the roof were two weathercocks, one with a Russian eagle and the other with a French eagle.] This ‘house’ was anchored in the middle of the river [Neman] near the old bridge. The second ‘house’ was not yet completed. At half-past midday, Napoleon, accompanied by his marshals and 100 guards, reached the river bank and got into a small boat. The Russian guard formed up on the opposite bank. At a signal given by the Russian trumpets the two boats set off simultaneously and arrived both at the same time, Napoleon on the south side and Alexander on the north. They embraced and entered the ‘house’. The conversation lasted three-quarters of an hour and they then returned in the same order as before. […]

On 26 June, the order was given to clear half of the town for the Russians. Alexander moved into his old quarters in Hinz’s house, and from there along a north/south dividing line the French evacuated their quarters several regiments even left the town. […]

At half-past midday, they went out to the ‘houses’ again – they had been been completed and decorated with foliage, in exactly the same order as on the previous day, but with the difference that the Czar Alexander came with the King [of Prussia]. The conversation lasted an hour and a half and they returned in exactly the same order as before. […] At five o’clock, here and in the surroundings, 8000 French guards formed up in Deutsche Strasse with an excellent military band, the cavalry on the north side and the infantry to the south. The line stretched from the Deutsche Tor to the church. Napoleon inspected his troops until the he heard the 40 cannon blasts announcing that Alexander was crossing the river. Napoleon then rode with his entourage to the Russian lines and received Alexander, let him ride on his right-hand side, and brought him to his quarters. The King was not there. The Guards paraded in front of the house and offered an amazing show I have seen nothing more beautiful. At 6 o’clock they went to dinner. The two emperors, the Grand Duke Constantin and Prince Murat ate alone on the piano nobile. The rest of the marshals and generals ate on the second floor. At 10 o’clock in the evening, Alexander rode back to his quarters. […]”

27 June
The two emperors manoeuvred the French guards for more than two hours, and very regular shots could be heard. At dinner, in other words at about 6pm, Alexander and Constantin ate once again at Napoleon’s quarters. It was hoped that the King would also eat there, but that did not happen.

From 28 June to 6 July, 1807, Napoleon I, Alexander I and Frederick-William III met daily for their peace discussions. The three soveriegnes ate together, reviewed manoeuvres together and spoke at length.

Napoleon wrote to Cambacérès on 3 July: “Complete harmony reigns between the emperor of Russia, the king of Prussia and me. We are all three of us in this tiny town. It would be a very long letter were I recount all the little things that happen.” (Correspondence n°12 843)

And on the same day he wrote to Fouché: “Make sure that people stop saying negative things, either directly or indirectly, regarding Russia. Everything would seem to be pointing towards the fact that my system is soon to be linked in a fixed manner with that power.” (Correspondence n°12 845).

1 July
The second British division of 5,000 men under Cathcart (pointlessly) set sail for Stralsund. These troops were finally withdrawn when Stralsund fell to the French on 10 August.

5 July
Napoleon met Queen Luise of Prussia, who had arrived at Picktupöhnen the previous day. He was to meet her more formally on the following day.

A contemporary account records the events as follows: “The Queen came from Picktupöhnen at 5 o’clock and headed for the king’s residence. A quarter of an hour later, Napoleon accompanied by Murat and Berthier and all the marshals came up to the Queen’s quarters and stayed there for a good half an hour. He then went to see Alexander. Both men then went out through the city gate riding with a large escort, and returned at about half past seven through the German Gate. Several minutes later, the Queen arrived […] in a carriage pulled by 8 black horses […]. The Emperor received her from her carriage, offering her his hand […] The queen wore a white dress laced with silver. The king rode behind the carriage Alexander was already at Napoleon’s residence. Dinner was at eight, and at ten the royal couple left the hall.”

(Extract from the previously unpublished journal of Ernst Ludwig Siehr, Councillor of the Commission of Justice in Tilsit, for the period June-July 1807, published in the brochure 200 years treaty of Tilsit, ed. Bartheldruck, Arnstadt, 2007.)

7 July
The emperor Napoleon I and Czar Alexander signed a peace treaty at Tilsit
Napoleon announced to his brother, Prince Jerome, that he had made him King of Westphalia.

9 July
Talleyrand and the Marshal count Kalkreuth signed a treaty between France and Prussia thus completing the treaty of 7 July.

12 July
Convention of Königsberg between France and Prussia stipulating the regulations for evacuating Prussian territory

19 July
General Victor received his marshal’s baton for his brilliant conduct at Friedland.


Battle Notes

Russian Army
• Commander: Bennigsen
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional: 4 Tactician Cards

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

French Army
• Commander: Napoleon
• 6 Command Cards
• Optional: 6 Tactician Cards
• Move First

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Victory
10 Banners

Special Rules
• The River Alle is impassable.
• The Mill Stream is fordable.
• Pre-Battle Mother Russia Roll rule is in effect.