Battle of La Rothière, 1814.
Napoleon's First Defeat on French Soil.

1. The Campaign of 1814 in France.
2. Armies at La Rothiere.
3. The Battle.
. . . . . . . . . . Thick gun smoke mixed up with snowflakes.
. . . . . . . . . . Cavalry Charges.
. . . . . . . . . . Street Fighting: French vs Russians.
. . . . . . . . . . The Passive Austrians.
. . . . . . . . . . The Wirtembergians Were in Trouble.
. . . . . . . . . . Wrede's Bavarians Attacked Napoleon's Flank.
. . . . . . . . . . The Young Guard in Burning La Rothiere.
. . . . . . . . . . Napoleon's Army Began Withdrawal.

Russian infantry, picture by korfilm

On map: battle of La Rothiere, 1814

"The Emperor's greatest antagonists are forced to admit
that he excelled himself in the winter campaign
which he conducted in the first three months of 1814."
- Marbot

The Campaign of 1814 in France.
Napoleon "... hurried from the Austrians to the Russians,
and from the Russians to the Prussians."

The Prussian Army Enters France on January 1st 1814, by Camphausen In 1814 Napoleon's situation was very difficult. "To replenish the treasury, to create an army, to awe the turbulent, and then stand up single-handed against Europe in arms--these were the tasks before him. He set the first example of self-sacrifice, by giving into the public treasury six millions of dollars taken from his private vaults in the Tuileries... A decree ordering a levy of 300,000 soldiers was made, and another augmenting the Guard to 112,500 men... The levy, however, was not successful. France was exhausted not only of her men, but even of her youth, and boys were now in his greatest need to form his battalions. To add to his trouble, as fortune always seems to delight in pushing down a falling favorite, the Typhus fever broke out among his troops along the Rhine." (Headley - "The Imperial Guard of Napoleon")

In 1813 the Allies continued their offensive against Napoleon by crossing the Rhine River into France. The Russian armies marched through the Marne Valley while the Austrians advanced from the south. The Allies entered France but there was no uprising against the invaders. Marbot explains this: "There are those who have expressed surprise that France did not rise in mass, as in 1792, to repel the invader, or did not follow the Spanish in forming, in each province, a centre of national defence. The reason is that the enthusiasm which had improvised the armies of 1792 had been exhausted by 25 years of war, and the Emperor's over-use of conscription, so that in most of the departments there remained only old men and children."
"As for the people, they thought it monstrous that the Emperor, after losing two huge armies in successive disasters, should presume to form another. In the course of a few months, Napoleon became downright unpopular. The nation wanted peace, and was rapidly coming to the conclusion that its master did not want to give it. With a running commentary from the royalists, the allied proclamation was having its effect. There was no thought of preferring the Bourbons to Napoleon, for they symbolised the Ancien Régime; but the French were weary and discouraged, and the began to offer passive resistance- the only right he had left them. The malcontents, who had been growing in number since 1812, were now beyond computation. People stopped paying taxes; requisition orders were not obeyed. The population looked on the invasion and took no action, at any rate, as long as the allies managed to hold their troops in check; and in the south the English were quite well received, for they could be relied upon to pay their way." (Georges Lefebvre - "Napoleon from Tilsit to Waterloo")

Napoleon's campaign in 1814 proved how much could be achieved in circumstances so desperate that no other general of the time would have even attempted to make head against them. It has been seen by some as the greatest effort of this military genius, and undoubtedly illustrated his formidable ability to inspire armies and avoid crushing defeats at the hands of opponents who far outnumbered him. Baron de Marbot wrote: "The Emperor's greatest antagonists are forced to admit that he excelled himself in the winter campaign which he conducted in the first three months of 1814. No previous general had ever shown such talent, or achieved so much with such feeble resources. With a few thousand men, most of whom were inexperienced conscripts, one saw him face the armies of Europe, turning up everywhere with these troops, which he led from one point to another with marvellous rapidity.
Taking advantage of all the resources of the country in order to defend it, he hurried from the Austrians to the Russians, and from the Russians to the Prussians, going from Blücher to Schwarzenberg and from him to Sacken, sometimes beaten by them, but much more often the victor. He hoped, for a time, that he might drive the foreigners, disheartened by frequent defeats, from French soil and back across the Rhine. All that was required was a new effort by the nation; but there was general war-weariness..."
David Chandler writes: "The Campaign of France lasted from January to April 1814. faced by overwhelming numbers of Allied troops, and able to call upon the services of only scratch forces of conscripts and boy-soldiers, Napoleon performed wonders of defensive fighting, winning a series of minor battles on one sector after another.. But the Allies were now aware of Napoleon's methods, and little by little they advanced on Paris." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars" p 305)

Other campaigns of 1814:

  • In 1814 Sweden fought with Norway. The war resulted in Norway entering into union with Sweden, but with its own parliament. It was the last war to be fought by Sweden.
  • War of 1812-1815 between Britain and USA continued. British troops burn Washington. (ext.link)

  • ~

    Blucher's dislike of the French grew into
    an almost psychotic hatred and in 1814
    he was the most eager to fight of all Allies'

    Armies at La Rothiere.
    Napoleon vs Blucher.

    Napoleon in 1814 by Meissonier On 29th January at Brienne Napoleon defeated Prussian General Blücher. Blücher fell back to the south, on Trannes and the heights nearby. Napoleon spent 2 days at Brienne and La Rothiere inactive while the Russians, Prussians, Austrians and Wirtembergians moved on him. Chandler writes: "Napoleon, with effectively only 40,000 men - many of them raw conscripts - planned to withdraw and avoid action, but the Prussian general forced battle." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic wars" pp 238-239)

    Forces at La Rothiere:

  • Napoleon had:
    45,000 men and (30,000 infantry, 13,500 cavalry, 1,500 gunners)
    132 guns
  • Blücher had:
    52,000 men (36,000 infantrymen, 12,000 cavalry, 4,000 gunners)
    338 guns

    The Allies at La Rothiere were commanded by Blucher. Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher (1742-1819) began military career in 1742 in Swedish cavalry and participated in three campaigns against ... Prussia. In 1760 Blucher was captured by the Prussians, changed sides and became a loyal officer. His dislike of the French grew into an almost psychotic hatred and in 1814 he was the most eager to fight of all Allies' commanders. Chief-of-Staff was Augustus von Gneisenau (1760-1831). He was known for cool head and sharp mind for strategic matters. It was all Blucher lacked and needed. Blucher had two armies in his disposal: the Army of Silesia and the Army of Bohemia.
    Army of Silesia
    First Line under Sacken
    . . . . . (Russian) VI Infantry Corps - Scherbatov (12,000 men, 36 guns)
    . . . . . (Russian) IX Infantry Corps - Olsuviev (6,000 men, 36 guns)
    Reserves under Barclay de Tolly
    . . . . . (Russian) III 'Grenadier' Corps - Raievski (6,000 men, 36 guns)
    . . . . . (Russian) V 'Guard' Corps - Yermolov (12,000 men, 36 guns)
    . . . . . (Russian) 'Guard Cavalry & Cuirassiers' Corps - Golitsin (3,000 men, 24 guns)
    Army of Bohemia
    . . . . . (Austrian) III Corps - Giulay (14,200 men, 48 guns)
    . . . . . (Wirtembergian) IV Corps - Crown Prince Wurtembourg (12,000 men, 24 guns)
    . . . . . (Bavarian-Austrian) Corps - Wrede and Frimont (26,500 men, 82 guns)
    . . . . . (Russian) Cavalry Corps - Vasilchikov (3,000 men, 12 guns)
    . . . . . (Prussian) Flying Column - (500 men, 4 guns)
    NOTE: only part of these troops was able to take part in the battle.

    For Allies order of battle, La Rothiere click here

    As for Napoleonic troops General Gerard formed his corps in two lines, Dufour's division stood in the first line and Ricard's division deployed in the second. La Rothiere was occupied by one brigade of Duhesme's division. Victor was near La Rothiere. Behind the village stood the rest of his infantry. The village of La Giberie and its surroundings were defended by 4 btns. deployed in skirmish lines. Nansouty formed his guard cavalry in two lines to the right of La Rothiere. Marshal Marmont deployed one infantry division near Morvilliers and the big forest Bois de Ajou.
    Marshal Ney commanded Young Guard (three infantry and two cavalry division), this troop was in reserve near Brienne-le-Ville. Octave Levavasseur describes Ney: "Nature had given Ney an iron body, a soul of fire. His build was athletic....His physiognomy was reminiscent of the Nordic type. His voice resonant. He only had to give an order for you to feel brave. ... No matter how brave you were or wished to appear, if this man was near you in the midst of a fight you had to confess him your master. Even under grapeshot his laughter and pleasantries seemed to defy the death all around him. His recognized superiority made everyone obey his orders."

    For French order of battle, La Rothiere click here

  • ~

    Blücher was joined by the Tsar of Russia,
    King of Prussia and Schwarzenberg.

    The Battle.
    Visibility was poor due to falling snow.

    1814: Russians and Prussians in battle Inside a radius of few kilometers 100,000 soldiers and almost 500 guns were concentrated. The soldiers blue with cold, with several days' growth of facial hair, dressed in wet and cold uniforms were gathering under Colors. The previous day some fences had been torn down, doors and windows burned and some stables had already been conveyed to the bivouacs. Hygienic conditions must have been frightful. The weather was horrible, intermittent rain and snow with the clay made the roads almost impassable and tree limbs sagged laden with the wet snow. The weather made vehicular traffic difficult and the troops struggled to move into their assigned positions.

    Napoleon faced growing in strength allied armies. Unwilling to risk battle in such disadvantage, he intended to withdraw, however Blücher forced him to deploy and fight. Victor and Grouchy informed Napoleon that large numbers of enemy troops had been seen to the south and east. Napoleon mounted his horse and rode out to see for himself. The visibility was poor due to falling snow and Napoleon wasn't really convinced. Far to the south of the French positions were positions of Allies' troops. On Heights of Trannes was Blücher. At noon he was joined by the Tsar of Russia (ext.link), King of Prussia and Austrian commander-in-chief Schwarzenberg. The Russian and Austrian troops marched very slowly to their assigned positions. The roads were waterlogged and then frozen and again waterlogged - it made a hell for the numerous artillery. Many guns and wagons became immobilised. Russian General Nikitin ordered each gun to be served by two teams of horses. It moved half of his horse artillery forward but the other half was left behind and without horses.

    Thick gun smoke mixed up with snowflakes.
    Duhesme, the defender of La Rothiere General Sacken was sitting on his horse where the artillery projectiles began flying like hail stones. The rough-hewn Russians, with their motley armament of Russian, British and captured French muskets, and short on ammunition greeted their general with rousing cheer. Their fervor carried them through the first onslaughts that surged through the French advance posts.
    La Rothiere was defended by Duhesme's division. Philippe Duhesme had only 4 btns. (1 light and 3 line). On both sides of the village stood artillery, in front was chain of skirmishers.
    Duhesme was an expert of light infantry combat and in 1814 wrote "Essai sur l’infanterie légère, ou Traité des petites operations de la guerre, à l’usage des jeunes officiers". ' Duhesme said that 'It is in this genre of combat that the French genius shines with the greatest brilliance,' He thought that in the 1791 Reglement were too many useless movements. Duhesme died at Waterloo killed by the Prussians.
    Nikitin's gunners deployed their pieces only a short distance away from the French advance posts and opened fire. The artillery continued to pound away at the French, while Russian infantry, strirred by the rhytmic beating of its drums, prepared to attack. The first to be in action were 4 jäger btns. (11th and 36th Jäger Regiments) under Diedrich. These units started forward, across a field and into a blizzard of musketry and artillery fire. On they pressed, driving the French skirmishers back. Nansouty hoped to surprise the Russians (Nikitin's two batteries and Dietrich's 4 btns.) Nikitin noticed the French cavalry moving toward his batteries (it was part of Nansouty's Guard cavalry). The jägers formed squares behind Nikitin's artillery. When the advancing cavalry came within 500 paces the guns fired canister, and the gunners run to the safety of the squares. The Guard cavalry circled around the squares but were unable to penetrate them. The squares fired one or two volleys and the French rode back to own lines.
    A heavy snow began falling.
    When the snowfall lifted the French artillery positioned on both sides of La Rothiere opened fire on Sacken's infantry. Sacken's deployed more artillery and opened counter-battery fire. Meanwhile his infantry formed in heavy columns moved toward La Rothiere. When the columns came closer they got under musket fire from buildings and gardens. The Russians struggled to deploy under such fire. Thick gun smoke mixed up with snowflakes.

    Cavalry Charges.
    Russian dragoons captured 24 guns of Old Guard

    Russian dragoon 1812-1815 Nansouty's first attack against the squares of infantry failed. Now there were more Russians and they were advancing in heavy columns and struggled to deploy under heavy fire. The cautious Nansouty saw his chance. This time he took not one but three cavalry divisions (2 of Old Guard and 1 of Young Guard). In reserve was left only one cavalry division of Young Guard.
    Seeing the mass of cavalry moving against him, Sacken called GL Vasilchikov for help. Vasilchikov dispatched one hussar division under Lanskoi. The hussars however were crushed and pursued by the Guard cavalry. The Guard also attacked Sacken's infantry and artillery. The situation was very difficult for the Russians until Panchulitzev's dragoons arrived. The dragoons sprang forward with outstretched sabers, while the fleeing hussars halted and joined the fresh force. Together they attacked the French from the front and flank. The Guard cavalry gave way and fled north of La Rothiere leaving behind 24 guns of Old Guard in Russian hands.
    (The fight with infantry, hussars and artillery disordered Nansouty's elite troops. In such situation the fresh dragoons had relatively easy job. There were plenty of identical situations at Leipzig, Borodino, Waterloo etc.) The 1.500 Russian dragoons must have impressed the French because they inflated their numbers to 6,000 (for example in "Journal Historique de Cavalry Legere du Corps de Cavalerie pendant La Campagne de France en 1814"). Further advance of the Russians was halted by one dragoon division brought by Milhaud. The French advanced "in column of squadrons" and threw the Russians back. The situation in cavalry combat changed so quickly that when Vasilchikov informed Blucher about his success it was too late to take advantage of it. The captured 24 guns of Old Guard stayed in Vasilchikov's hands as a trophy.

    Street fighting: French vs Russians.
    Russian infantry was formed in 2 large columns.

    French light infantry, picture by Funcken Although the aggressive actions of Nansouty's Guard cavalry failed they made Graf Sacken to slow down. He formed infantry of VI and IX Corps in two large columns in such a way that they could repulse cavalry attack. Only then they advanced forward and readied their bayonets when noticed that snow wetted their powder and made many muskets useless.
    (Von der Sacken (Osten-Sacken) was born in 1752. In 1766 he entered military service in infantry. In 1806-1807 in Eastern Prussia Sacken commanded entire division. The commander-in-chief of Russian army, Bennigsen, unfairly accused Sacken of failings during campaign. It resulted in military court and Sacken being out of army for several years.)
    In La Rothiere are Duhesme's 4 btns. (1 light and 3 line). Through the curtain of snow, the adversaries were watched. Suddenly, a brisk fusillade bursts. The crackling intensifies, then suddenly is replaced by an immense clamor which mixes with the sound of the drums beating the charge. The action takes shape; the night will not fall without the two parties coming to blows.
    Disregarding canister and musket fire Sacken's infantry enter La Rothiere. Soldiers on both sides use bayonets, fists and stones. The hardest battling is for the church and the main street. Killed and wounded are sprawling in the wet snow. The Russians (16 weak btns.) captured the church and took over the center of La Rothiere but the French (4 strong btns.) held the northern side of the village. The French fired on the Russians as they took up positions behind buildings, trees, walls and in the gardens. During the hand-to-hand combat Sacken's infantry captured 8 guns.

    The Passive Austrians.
    Emperor of Austria In 1813 and 1814 the Austrian Emperor leaned toward coming to terms with Napoleon so as to restrain the ambitions of the Russian and Prussian monarchs. In 1814 the French soldiers noticed that the Russian and Prussian POWS were on bad terms with the Austrian POWs. The former said that their defeats were due to the slowness of the Austrians. The offended Austrians called the Russians and Prussians "Cossacks" and "Sauer-krauts". In some cases these quarrels turned into insults and blows.
    At La Rothiere Blucher called for 14,200 men of Giulay's (Austrian) III Corps to support Sacken's hard-fighting troops. Giulay took the village of Unienville and deployed part of his artillery. Napoleon directed two brigades to hold Dienville and bridge at all cost. Giulay moved Chollich's Brigade toward Dienville. Pfluger's Brigade was near the river and Grimmer's Brigade was to link with Sacken's troops. The Austrian infantry was supported by part of Archduke Ferdinand Hussar Regiment and 18 guns of reserve (6 heavy and 12 light). But Giulay's actions made little impression on the French. Napoleon's infantry pitched the bullets into the Austrians so rapidly they couldn't stand the racket and retreated.

    The Wirtembergians were in trouble.
    Blücher created confusion.

    French fusiliers, by Funcken On eastern flank were Wirtembergians and Bavarians. Stockmeyer commanded Advance Guard Brigade and his infantry pushed back the French advance posts. In the beginning they enjoyed notable but short-lived success. Wirtembergian 4 sq. of Herzhog Louis Chevaulegers were brought forward but the French cavalry withdrew before attack. It left French 2 btns. without any support. When the Wirtembergians rushed against them, they broke and fled. Approx. 130 were captured and taken into captivity. The Wirtembergian chevaulegers (lighthorsemen) advanced toward La Giberie and the height nearby and drove the French from there. To the north of Stockmayer's Wirtembergians marched Wrede's Bavarians and Austrians. Marshal Victor directed part of Forestier's Brigade (46th and 93rd Line) against Stockmayer. Forestier charged overthrowing everything on his way. At 4 pm the Wirtembergians were streaming back. The situation became difficult and Crown Prince - commander of the Wirtembergians - asked Blücher for immediate help.
    After 4 pm Blücher sent his chief-of-staff Gneisenau to General Sacken. La Rothiere was considered as the most important point in Napoleon's line and Blücher in 'soldierly way' urged Sacken to capture it. Sacken was with his hard fighting men in the village and saw the situation himself. Sacken told Gneiseanu that Blucher's orders are impossible to execute and asked for support from the Reserves standing on the Trannes Heights. The same urgent question asked Crown Prince, his troops also struggled against the French near La Giberie.
    Blucher orders his powerful Reserves (Russian grenadiers, cuirassiers and Guard) under Barclay de Tolly to support the Wirtembergians. The Reserves immediately began their march but Barclay de Tolly wanted to keep at least the 2nd Grenadier Division and ordered it to go back to Trannes Heights. De Tolly tought they are more needed for Sacken than for the Wirtembergians. Commander of the division - Paskevich - protested as de Tolly's order was not signed by Blücher. The confused Russian grenadiers engulfed in voluminous greatcoats halted not knowing what to do and which order to follow.
    Meanwhile Napoleon's Guard cavalry led by the brave Colbert attacked Sacken's infantry. Olsufiev's IX Corps was hit hard and Sacken again sent a messenger to Blücher urgently asking for support. Now Blücher realized how difficult situation was not only with the Wirtembergians but also at La Rothiere. He ordered the Russian Reserves back !

    Wrede's Bavarians Attacked Napoleon's Flank.
    Poor visibility prevented the Germans from greater success.

    Bavarian staff officer Karl Philipp von Wrede (1767–1838) was a Bavarian (German) general (field-marshal). His corps attacked Napoleon's flank at La Rothiere.
    (Wrede led the Bavarian corps that aided Napoleon’s victory at Wagram in 1809. Just before the Leipzig he negotiated the Treaty of Ried between Austria and Bavaria and fought with the allies against Napoleon. Few months before La Rothiere Wrede's corps attacked the retreating French army at Hanau however, was routed by Napoleon. Wrede received a wound in his head. In 1814 he was created prince and field marshal, Wrede represented Bavaria at the Congress of Vienna.)
    Marmont's weak corps attempted to cover the front between Chaumesnil and Morvilliers. With the passage of troops, the frozen ground turned to mud that clung to the wheels of the artillery and train. One of French horse batteries was caught in the flank and was overrun by 2 sq. of Austrian Schwarzenberg Uhlan Regiment. While Hardegg's infantry division deployed before Morvilliers and La Motte's Bavarians were on their flank, Rechburg carried Beauvoir Farm defended by Joubert's Brigade. Behind Hardegg's division marched Splenyi's division and these forces were too much for one French brigade. Marmont ordered Joubert to withdraw his infantry to Ajou Wood. The French were followed by Wrede's Austrians and Bavarians.
    At 4 pm arrived Wirtembergian officer asking Wrede - in very strong words - for help. Wrede accordingly ordered to attack the village of Chaumesnil and the Austrian Grenzers spearheaded the attack. The village was defended by 2 btns., but the French fell back without a fight. Wrede garrisoned the village with Frimont's infantry and deployed two batteries. When Napoleon learned about the capture of Chaumesnil he ordered to recapture the village. Guyot's 2nd Old Guard Cavalry Division, Meunier's 1st Voltigeur Division and additional 16 guns marched against the Bavarians.
    At 7 pm near Chaumesnil Wrede's two Austrian batteries exchanged fire with French 16 guns. The French were protected by Doumerc's cavalry and Lagrange's infantry formed in squares. Wrede ordered up two Bavarian and one Austrian regiment of light cavalry. They charged, captured the French guns and routed Doumerc's cavalry which attempted to intervene. The French cavalry fled but poor visibility prevented the Bavarian and Austrian cavalrymen further pursuit.
    Napoleon was in trouble, the Russians stubbornly held the center, while Wrede's troops captured Chaumesnil and attacked his flank. One year later, at Waterloo, Napoleon will experience similar situation. Crown Prince was strengthened with Adam's cavalry division and his encouraged Wirtembergians launched attack on La Giberie and then on Petit Mesnil. The first village was taken without problem. The French put up a short fight in Petit Mesnil, but lost heavily and abandoned the village. Bavarian cavalry charged the exposed flank of Marmont's infantry. The French fled in panick and Marmont's corps was finished. Napoleon ordered Grouchy's cavalry and Ney's Young Guard to delay the advance of Wirtembergians. Meanwhile the rest of Napoleon's army began withdrawal.

    The Young Guard in Burning La Rothiere.
    Young Guard vs Russian grendiers

    Napoleon made a personal tour of the battle field and ordered Ney and the Young Guard to recapture La Rothiere. Galloping on to the left, where the reserve troops were readying, Ney rode along the line of the Young Guard then swung his horse toward the enemy and shouted "I will lead you !" The Russians were stubborn, the Young Guard must use bayonets. The darkness was falling when three columns of 2nd Tirailleur Division fell upon Sacken's infantry. Majority of the Russians fled and only few fired their muskets. Sacken's reserve who stood behind the village counterattacked but the French brought 4 guns near the church and halted the Russians. According to P.P.H. Heath: "The French (column) advancing up a narrow street and as yet not knocked about by the ebb and flow of battle, found themselves at the entrance to the village square besides the church. Across the 30 yards of open space was a column, or more accurately, a mass of Russian infantry pouring out onto the cobbles. The Russians, seeing the enemy appear, directed a badly aimed volley and refused to advance further. The two bodies of men now faced each other, hurling musket balls and insults at each other, but neither showed the slightest enthusiasm to charge home, despite the best efforts of their officers." The confusion was riotous and some buildings were burning. Meanwhile two other columns of Young Guard entered the village and it seemed that the Russians lost La Rothiere. There was even a group of French cavalry who swept through the streets. The horsemen almost captured Sacken.
    Blucher directed Russian 2nd Grenadier Division toward the burning village. Behind the grenadiers marched Austrian Grimmer's brigade. The Astrakhan Grenadier Regiment and Little Russia Grenadier Reegiment charged into La Rothiere and drove the Young Guard at bayonet point. The Young Guard broke and fled and was only rallied in the northern part of the village "by officers beating men back into the ranks." They were able to hold on few buildings so the fight for the village was inconclusive.

    Napoleon's Army Began Withdrawal.
    Drouot received order to burn the village to the ground with his artillery.

    Drouot Austrian brigade attacking Dienville made no progress. Gerard's troops repulsed the white-coats and inflicted heavy casualties. Giulay ordered to cannonade the village but it brought very little results. To justify his complete failure Giulay wrote report that he had to fight against Napoleon's Old Guard.
    About 8 pm the Young Guard abandoned La Rothiere and Drouot received order to burn it to the ground with his artillery. At 9 pm the snow was again falling hard.
    Vasilchikov's cavalry had advanced north, from La Rothiere toward Brienne. Druout's batteries fired on them in the falling darkness but it made little impression on the hussars and dragoons. Meunier's 1st Voltigeur Division retired for the night on Brienne. Splenyi's Austrian division moved to the eastern edge of Ajou Wood and Marmont's infantry retired to the western edge of wood. It was dark and the Bavarian and Wirtembergian cavalry repeatedly charged each other by mistake.

    The Allies lost 4,500 - 6,400 killed and wounded (Sacken's hard fighting Russians alone lost 4,000 !) Napoleon had 6,000 casualties but his loss in artillery was serious, 54-83 guns were left in enemy's hands. Chandler: "Each side lost an estimated 6,000 men" (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic wars" p 239) The French troops were not destroyed but the Russians commanded by old Blucher won the battle. The clash at La Rothiere showed that though the French lacked the numbers to turn the tide, the rugged infantrymen still had the ability to make the Allies pay in blood for every foot of ground they gained.

    Russians and French at La Rothiere, by Parhaiev
    Russian and French troops at La Rothiere, by Parhaiev

    Sources and Links.

    Heath - "La Rothiere 1814"
    Petre - "Napoleon at Bay, 1814"
    La Houssaye - "1814"

    Order of Battle of La Rothiere: French ~ Allies

    The Battle of the Nations

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies