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he had established his head quarters, pushing his out-posts to the distance of a league, that is, about three English miles from the town on the road to Liebstadt.
The Russian general Markow, with a division of the corps under the command of the counts Pahlen and Gallitzin, attacked the French at Mohringen, January 25. After a very sharp action in which the eagle of the 9th regiment of the French infantry was taken, the Russians were repulsed. But being afterwards reinforced by a division of cavalry under general Anrep, the battle was renewed. In these actions at Mohringen, the French, according to the Russian accounts, lost more than 1,000 men, in killed and wounded; the Russians, according to the French accounts, left 12,000, dead on the field of battle, and among these, general Anrep, whose death was greatly deplored by the whole Russian army.
During the action or actions near Mohringen, prince Michael Dolgo. rowki, with his regiment of dragoons, went round to the rear of the enemy, made his way to head-quar. ters without being perceived, and carried off the French marshal's equipage, his plate, some ladies, and a large sum of money, part of the pillage of Elbing. A great number of prisoners also fell into the hands of the Russians, among whom were three generals, including general Victor, who was taken by a small party belonging to the Prussian garrison of Colberg, as he was on his way to take the command of the army besieging Dantzig.
The Russian and French details of the battle of Mohringen, though dif ferent, were not very inconsistent in any material point, except that both parties claimed the victory. But judging from the immediate result of the action, we must conclude that it was in favour of the Russians. The French do not pretend that the Russians fell back beyond Liebstadt, which was only six or seven miles from the field of action; whereas, Bernadotte, according to their own accounts, retreated to Strasburg, on the Dribentz, which is situated at the dis, tance of 60 miles from Mohringen.
The writer of the French bulletins, Maret, Buonaparte's military secretary, in concert with the état. major, or generals on the staff, accounts for the retreat of Bernadotte in another manner: "After the battle of Mohringen, in which the Russian advanced guard was defeated, the enemy retreated upon Liebstadt. But the corps of general Van Essen, which was at first destined for Mol. davia, and also a number of fresh regiments from different parts of the Russian empire, having joined the Russian army in Poland, the enemy again, so early as the 27th of Jan. advanced in great force, with the design of removing the theatre of the war to the Lower Vistula. The emperor, being informed of these events, ordered the prince of Ponte. Corvo to retreat, and also to favour the offensive operations of the enemy, in order to draw them towards the Lower Vistula," As it was altogether unnecessary to make use of any feint to engage the Russians in a design which they had already formed, and were indeed in the act of
bined with that of Bernadotte; but Buonaparte was unwilling to acknowledge that any design of his had been frustrated; and therefore explains matters in his own way, as just stated.
Arensdorf, Feb. 5.
56th bulletin of the grand French army.
accomplishing, the bulletin is plainly at variance with itself. The French appear evidently to have received a check from the Russians at Mohringen: and the design of surprizing Koningsberg by the combined movements of the marshals Ney and Bernadotte, was frustrated. By the retreat of Ney and Bernadotte, general Bennigsen was enabled to concentrate his forces in the town and environs of Mohringen. The right wing of his army rested on the Vistula between Elbing and Culm*.
The defeat of the plan, intended to have been executed by a detachment of the army under Bernadotte, in concert with Ney, and the consequent advance of the Russians on the Vistula, roused Buonaparte from his temporary repose at Warsaw, and called into exertion all the energies of his character. The corps under general Van Essen, that covered the left flank of the Russian army, was posted at too great à distance from its main body to answer the purpose for which it was intended: and Buonaparte, with his usual decision and promptitude, took advantage of this circumstance. He broke up his cantonments on January 29th and 30th. A corps under the command of general Savary, was ordered to watch the movements of Van Essen, who was posted at Wisochi Massawick on the heights of the Bug; and another under marshal le Febvre at Thorn, to keep in check the Russians and Prussians at Culm, and Marienwerder: thus to secure for Buonaparte a safe retreat across the Vistula, in the case of a failure in his attempt on the main body of the Russian army.
Buonaparte collected and concentrated upon one point, the flower of his forces, determined to attack the centre of the Russian army. The corps thus concentrated, were those of the marshals Davoust, Ney, Soult, and Augereau, computed to be about 80,000; the imperial guard under marshal Bessieres, 15,000 strong, and the cavalry of reserve, under Murat, or, as the bulletins styled him, the grand duke of Berg; which, at the opening of the campaign, consisted of 240 squadrons, that is, 36,000, but which must have been greatly diminished, perhaps by one third, during its progress. This force of about 120,000 horsemen and foot, exceeded the army to which it was opposed, by a much greater number than what might be supposed to be necessary to so consummate a leader of such gallant and well-disciplined troops. But Buonaparte was not more distinguished by any qualities than prudence and precaution. He was careful to provide rather a redundance than a bare sufficiency of means for the accomplishment of his ends. He provided against reverses, and though he always boasted of the favour, he never, if he could help it, trusted to the caprice of fortune.
It was a prevailing maxim with Buonaparte, to out-flank, if possible, the army opposed to him, or by any other means get into its rear, and
cut it off from its resour. It was to this manoeuve that he owed his success at Marin. got, at Ulm‡, and at Jena§. It would appear that the same manœuvre was attempted against the Russians on the present occasion.
* Relation officielle faite par le général mée Russe, depuis son arrivée en Prusse, + See Vol. XLII. (1800.) p. 193. Vol. XLVIII. (1806.) p. 191.
Bennigsen de ce qui l'est passé à l'arjusqu'au 31 Janvier, 1807.
Vol. XLVII. (1805.) p. 150.
The Russian army was on its march to the Vistula, by the way of Wildenberg, a town 60 miles N. E. of Warsaw. At this place, the ren dezvous of the French, Murat had assembled all his cavalry on the 29th; in the neighbourhood of which the other corps were also concentrated, and where Buonaparte, in person, arrived from Warsaw, on the 31st. It was his object to penetrate between the centre and the left of the Russians, and to take such positions between them and the Pregel, as should enable him to cut off their retreat.
The French army began its march on the 1st of February, taking its route from Wildenberg to Passenbeim, a town which is the key to the great road that passes between the extensive lakes which form the sources of the river Alla, abovementioned, which falls into the Pregel five leagues above Koningsberg. At Passenheim the French fell in with the Russians, who had hitherto persevered in the system of making, instead of receiving the attack. But the grand duke of Berg fell upon them with several columns of the cavalry, and entered the town sword in hand. On February 3, in the morning, the Russians were on the Lower Vistula, which they had determined to pass, but where they now found that they had been turned on their left flank their left wing supported itself in the village of Moudtken, and their centre was placed at Jowkowo on the great road to Liebstadt.
Buonaparte having repaired to the village of Getkendorff, formed a part of his forces in order of battle, placing the corps of marshal Augereau in the centre, that of marshal Soult on the right, and the
imperial guard as a body of reserve. He gave orders to marshal Soult to advance by the way of Gulstadt, and make himself master of the bridge of Bergfried, that he might fall on the rear of the enemy with the whole force of the army.
Marshal Soult dispatched general Guyot with his light cavalry, to take possession of Gulstadt, the centre of the Russian magazines ; which he effected, though not without an obstinate resistance on the part of the enemy. Of the Russians 1.600 were made prisoners. The Russian magazines at Licbstadt and Allenstein were also taken. In the mean time marshal Soult, with the other two divisions of his corps, hastened to the bridge of Bergfried.
The Russians who were sensible of the importance of this place, for protecting the retreat of their left wing, defended the bridge with twelve of their best battalions. At three in the afternoon, a cannonade was opened on both sides. The Russians after a severe conflict, and a heavy loss in killed and wounded, were driven from the bridge. But they retreated in good order. They were followed by marshal Ney, and some skirmishing took place. But night overtook the French and Russiau detachments facing each other.
On the morning of the 4th of February, Murat, at the head of his cavalry, reconnoitered the position which the Russians had occupied the preceding day, and found that they had employed the night in retreating, and had left behind only the rearguard, which followed, and which was fiercely pursued, fighting all the way for six hours. The difficulty of the ground, according to the French accounts, prevented their cavalry from doing the enemy much
injury. In fact, the French cavalry were repulsed; though an attempt was made to veil the discomfiture, by ascribing their want of success to the nature of the ground.
In the mean time,general Van Essen harassed the French corps that was opposed to him by frequent detachmeuts; and though the country occupied by that corps, was defeuded by the natural fortresses of woods and morasses, carried off, at different times, numbers of prisoners. When he received intelligence that Buonaparte had set out from Warsaw, and marched against general Bennigsen, at the head of a force greatly superior to that of the Rus sians, being desirous of making a diversion in favour of the main army, he attacked the French, February 3, on the whole extent of their line, defeated them at all points, and drove the generals Savary, Suchet, and Becker, back on the Narew*.
On the night of the 4th of Febru. ary, Buonaparte slept at Schlett, but his advanced guard pushed on to Deppen. On the 5th, the whole French army was again in motion. While this advanced, the enemy constantly retreated, falling back by the way of Arensdorff and Lands berg, in the direction of the Pregel; except one column, which had not passed the river Alla, and was thus cut off from the main body of the Russian, by the left of the French army. The emperor therefore or dered the grand duke of Berg, with the marshals Soult and Davoust, to follow the main body of the enemy; and marshal Ney, with one division of light cavalry, and another of dra. goons, to attack the cut-off column.
The grand duke on the heights of Waterdorf, fell in with seven or eight thousand of Russian cavalry; which, after sustaining and repelling several charges, were at last forced to retreat.
Ney came up at Deppen with the advanced guard of the column just mentioned, which, finding itself to be surrounded, adopted the bold resolution of cutting their way through the French corps, but met death on the points of their bayonets. The other part of the column, learning the fate of the advanced guard, retreated in confusion with the loss of their standards, cannon, and baggage.
On the morning of February 6, the French army marched in pursuit of the enemy; the grand duke of Berg, with marshal Soult's corps, in the direction to Landsberg, that of marshal Davoust towards Heilsberg, and that of marshal Ney, to prevent the escape of the Russian corps that had been cut off from the main army at Deppen.
The grand duke of Berg came up with the rear guard of the Russians, commanded by general Barclay de Tolly, between Glandau and Hoff, and immediately attacked it. For the support of this, several lines of cavalry were drawn up, with the heights of Landsberg in front; and their right and their left were flanked on the one side by a small conical hill, and on the other by a wood. After repeated attacks on these two wings had been repulsed, the French dragoons and cuiras siers of general Hautpoult's division, fiercely charged, overthrew, and destroyed two regiments of Russian
Relation officielle des operations de l'armée Russe, depuis le 26 Decembre jusqu'au 18 Mars, 1807.
infantry. Their cannon and colours were taken, with all their colonels, and the greater part of their officers. The main Russian army made a movement for the support of the rear guard. The French corps under marshal Soult and marshal Augereau, took a position on the left of the enemy, and occupied the village of Hoff. The Russian general perceiving the advantage of this position, sent ten battalions to retake it. But the grand duke of Berg, making a second charge with his cuirassiers, attacked this party in fank, and cut them to pieces. The Russians filed off in the night.
This is the French account of the affair. It is scarcely possible, however, that the advantages gained are not greatly exaggerated, for it is noticed in the same bulletin, as a remarkable circumstance, that part of the two armies passed the night between the 6th and 7th in the presence of each other. It appears pretty evidently, that this engagement of Hoff was a drawn battle, the Russians never quitted the field the day on which they fought. If the main army had filed off in the night, leaving only a post quite close to, and in the very presence of the enemy, as a forlorn hope, that post, separated from the rest of the army, must have fallen into the hands of the enemy, which would have been announced as a matter of great triumph.—From the moment that general Bennigsen ascertained the great numerical force opposed to him, he prudently adopted the plan of retreating on the Pregel, which he did, fighting all the way, though not without very great loss, yet with invincible valour and resolution.
In pursuance of this plan, on the morning of the 7th of Febru ary, before break of day, the whole Russian army filed off to take up a new and advantageous position at the little town of Eylau. Between this town and the wood near Hoff, just mentioned, the rear-guard of the Russians was attacked by the French, and a part of it made prisoners. The van-guard of the French, pursuing their advantage, discovered that the Russians had posted themselves behind the town. Both sides prepared for battle. At the distance of a quarter of a league from this place, is a rising ground or flattish hill, which, in the military phraseology of the French, is called a plateau*, which commands the entrance into the plain or valley in which it is situated. This eminence was defended by three Russian regiments. These three regiments were attacked by an equal number of French. A column of Russian cavalry took the assailants in flank, and threw one of their battalions into great confusion. Some squadrons of dragoons, commanded by general Klein, came up in time for the relief of this disordered co. lumn. The Russians however maintained their ground on the eminence.
But in Eylau, where the Russians wished to maintain themselves, but which the French were cager to possess, before the commencement of the general battle, the contest was most bloody. The Russians had placed some regiments in a church and the yard around it. There they made a most obstinate resistance, and the post was not taken till after a dreadful carnage on both sides, at ten o'clock at night. The night was spent by the two armies under the