Saturday, May 21, 2011

Battle of Bautzen Ends

As reported yesterday, The Battle of Bautzen ended in victory for Napoleon.  The victory came on May 21, 1813, but it came at a cost, and Count Gebhard von Blucher's Prussian soldiers avoided a devastating rout when they escaped from Bautzen past Marshal Ney's troops.  Sir Walter Scott provides some human color to this episode in the Napoleonic Wars, in his "Life of Napoleon Bonaparte":

 '...The victories of Lutzen and Bautzen were so unexpected and so brilliant, that they completely dazzled all those who, reposing a superstitious confidence in Bonaparte's star, conceived that they again saw it reviving in all the splendour of its first rising. But the expressions of Augereau to Fouche, at Mentz as the latter passed to join Bonaparte at Dresden, show what was the sense of Napoleon's , best officers. "Alas!" he said, "our sun has set. How little do the two actions of which they make so much at Paris, resemble our victories in Italy, when I taught Bonaparte the art of war, which he now abuses. How much labour has been thrown away only to win a few marches onward! At Lutzen our centre was broken, several regiments disbanded, and all was lost but for the Young Guard. We have taught the allies to beat us. After such a butchery as that of Bautzen, there were no results, no cannon taken, no prisoners made. The enemy everywhere opposed us with advantage, and we were roughly handled at Reichembach, the very day after the cattle. Then one ball strikes off Bessieres, another Duroc; Duroc, the only friend he had in the world. Bruyeres and Kirchenner, are swept away by spent bullets. What a war! it will make an end of all of us. He will not make peace; you know him as well as l do; he will cause himself to be surrounded by half a million of men, for, believe me, Austria will not be more faithful to him than Prussia. Yes, he will remain inflexible, and unless he be killed, (as killed he will not be,) there is an end of all of us."?...'

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