Author Topic: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout  (Read 29010 times)

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Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #120 on: May 19, 2018, 06:08:31 PM »
[Even More Wiemar Conference]

DISPATCH -- MURAT to DAVOUT -- 0230, 17th October

SENT 0000 17th October

From: Murat (estimated approx 10km north-northwest of Weimar)
To: Davout (believed to be in the vicinity of Weimar)
Copy to: Lannes (believed to be somewhere on the Erfurt-Weimar road)
 
I have just received Marshal Davout's dispatch to the Emperor sent at 2100, 16th October. This message is an attempt to hopefully clarify/resolve some of the ambiguity and confusion expressed in that dispatch.
 
As you are no doubt aware, at the start of this campaign Ruchel's corps was assessed as consisting of roughly 28,000 men in three divisions: the Advanced Guard (~6000 men), Weimar's division (~10,000 men), and Saxe's division (~12,000 men). As of this time, I can report with confidence that Ruchel's corps is definitely smashed. There is no uncertainty with regards to that news -- it is fact.
 
The battle with Ruchel's corps was fought over the course of three days, beginning on the afternoon of October 13th. The engagement began with your forces encountering Weimar's division somewhat to the south of Erfurt. By the afternoon of the 13th you had defeated that formation and forced it to retreat towards Erfurt, pursued by General Sahuc's dragoons (whom I had temporarily assigned to your control). By nightfall, Weimar had reached the outskirts of Erfurt and the fighting lapsed as darkness fell.
 
Starting around noon of the 14th my cavalry (with Sahuc now re-attached to my command) engaged Weimar's troops on the western approaches to Erfurt. In a running battle, we managed to gain the upper hand and break his division, driving it back into the town proper. Weimar's retreat was covered by Ruchel's Advanced Guard. In the late afternoon Friant's division had come up and, together, we were able to overcome and utterly destroy the Advanced Guard, with some 5000 prisoners being taken. Effectively Ruchel's Advanced Guard no longer exists.
 
The next day (October 15th), my divisions rose early and advanced on Erfurt from the north and your corps from the southwest. In fairly short order fighting resumed and we quickly overwhelmed the enemy, putting Saxe's division to flight by about 10:00AM. I dispatched General Grouchy's division of dragoons to harry them until they were some 15km away, breaking off pursuit at around 15:00PM. The survivors of Saxe's division were last seen streaming off in the direction of Mattstedt in considerable disorder. There was no sign of Weimar's shattered division, and we can only assume that he successfully withdrew towards Weimar during the night.
 
My assessment of the situation regarding Ruchel is this: while Saxe and Weimar's divisions have "escaped" they have both been so badly ravaged that they will pose little to no threat to us for the foreseeable future. Ruchel will require at least two full days of complete inactivity to rest and reorganize those formations into something capable of combat. In their present condition, Ruchel's divisions will be more of a liability than an asset to the Prussians. We do not need to concern ourselves with them.
 
- Murat

Davout:

Gentlemen, see below a note form Marshal Murat.

[Not repeated here.]

Davout:

To: Marshals Murat & Lannes
From: Marshal Davout
Time: 0000 17 October

Marshal Murat,

My thanks for your note on the battle against Ruchel's corps - I am now much clearer on the sequence of events!

I await our Emperor's decision on our upcoming actions - your notes on your locations are also quite useful in that regard.

- Davout

Davout:

In this regard, Murat's notes on his, and Lannes', locations are illuminating; I do not believe our forces will create a traffic jam on the road to Naumbourg.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #121 on: May 19, 2018, 06:10:19 PM »
[Hope you wanted more Weimar Command Conference!]

DISPATCH -- LANNES to NAPOLEON I and DAVOUT, 0500, 17th October

SENT 0400, 17th October

From:  Lannes, on the Erfurt-Weimar road
To: All elements V Corps and attachments
Copies To: Marshal Murat, believed to be about 10km NNW of Weimar, Marshal Davout, Weimar

Generals!

We have made contact with our beloved Emperor at Weimar. As you know, Marshals Murat and Davout have completely defeated Ruchel's corps in the vicinty of Erfurt. Marshal Davout has taken Weimar, from which the enemy has precipitously fled. The remainder of our glorious army has met the enemy to the east of Weimar and driven them back as well. It seems evident that they are withdrawing to the north, falling back on their lines of communication and hoping for the arrival of their allies, the Russians.

I go now with all speed to join Marshals Davout and Murat and the Emperor in Weimar for a council of war. Until I return, V Corps and attachments will continue to bivouac here, on the Erfurt-Weimar road. We will deploy cavalry patrols in all directions to scout for and screen against the enemy. The men should otherwise rest but hold yourselves ready to move on my return.

Lannes

Davout:

I show the note below to General Augereau as we await our Emperor's orders.


Augereau:

I nod and pass you another bottle of wine. I swallow the roasted pheasant I am eating. I turn to the waitress and request the desert and drinks menu.

I turn to my aid and say, "My brother-in-law's family is from Vierzehnheiligen. Send my special staff officer there to speak with them and find out what they know." Also "Send cavalry squadrons in each of the cardinal directions. They are to locate any enemy within 20 kilometers of Weimar and report back immediately upon doing so!"

Now then... The port and some baked goods look quite tasty. Care for any Davout?


Davout:

Certainly!  Though perhaps we should start drafting orders as well; daylight is approaching and we need to strike hard and fast.

My assumption at the moment is:

We will all march north via Apold towards Naumbourg.

Augereau will take the lead, and the West Wing will follow in the order it is arrayed: Davout, Lannes, Murat.

If we meet the Prussians we will engage them.

The next major decision point is maneuvers from Naumbourg.


Augereau:

This is precisely why you are the Emperor's favorite! Always thinking ahead and planning...

If you insist, and I suspect you will, then let us set to formulating the ultimate demise of those Prussian barbarians.


Davout:

You know me all too well.  :)

So - where from Naumbourg if we have not found the Prussians?

If we have no further contact with the Prussians, the primary lines of thrust should be Halle and Leipzig.  We won't know where Brunswick may be, but we can assume the East Wing is also moving towards Leipzig. 

Therefore, Bernadotte should move to Leipzig in order to per-empt Prussian defences there, the West Wing would move towards Halle (and thence to Magdebourg) in order to make the deeper envelopment and to chase Brunswick if that is where he has fled.  The rest of the Center Wing would plan on continuing to Leipzig, with decision point at the town east of Naumbourg.

If we meet Brunswick on the road to Naumbourg, then we will fight him where we find him.

That's my proposed course of action.   Your thoughts?

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #122 on: May 19, 2018, 06:11:03 PM »
Davout to Davout's Corps, 0600 17 OCT

To: Davout's Corps

Prepare for a 10 hour march in the direction of Naumbourg.  Order of march is Cav, 1st, 2nd, 3rd.  I will be with the 1st Division.

We will be following Marshal Augereau's Corps.  Be prepared to move immediately if he marches to Jena; we head for Naumbourg regardless..

Contact with the Prussians is possible; we expect to engage and destroy them if they are found.

Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #123 on: May 19, 2018, 06:12:30 PM »
[More at the Inn in Weimar]

DISPATCH -- NAPOLEON I to Weimar Group 0500, 17th October

My apologies for needing to attend to the affairs of other politics tonight, my grand marshals! To be perfectly honest, I am only along for the ride, as I can simply listen to good advice from all directions generally, and then leave all matters in the hands of my capable fraternity of brothers.  What Emperor of old or of new Rome ever in history had such fine support?! -- I can only leave that question for friendly dispute among our fellow historians, but I feel confident the answer denies all before this modern day!

So then, having reviewed the matter generally below, I am in agreement -- except with this provision. Murat, having our somewhat speedier cavalry corps, should strike north across country for Somanerdst, crossing the river there, aiming to reclaim the road at Heissensee, and thence northeast on the road to Halle, screening especially to the west until he reaches the road again at Heis. This secures our left flank, and will allow him to prosecute any attempts to flee along that road in a classic cavalry fashion. Also, he will be in position to flank any arrival of the other portions of West Wing to Halle. Removing him will also somewhat speed up our central march to Naumbourg; and as well, I do not like focusing all our striking power along such a narrow point of advance.

There is also some question as to Bernadotte's route. East Wing may still need some support as they move north. The best balance, although annoying as to terrain, would be for him to strike from Jena cross country east-northeast to Zeib, and then follow the rivers north-north-east to Leipzig. This will give him flexibility in supporting either our approaches to Naumbourg-Leipzig, or East Wing's advance along their route.

Any observations, calculations, or modifications to these two proposals will be welcome.

Napoleon

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #124 on: May 19, 2018, 06:13:37 PM »
[Lannes arrives at Weimar]

Davout:

Emperor, I hear and obey!  My corps will prepare to move at once.

Marshal Lannes - welcome!  Have some refreshment.  If you have objections to the plan, please speak now.

Marshal Augereau - I understand you will precede us on the road to Naumbourg; if you understand differently, please speak now.

Emperor Napoleon, let me suggest that Murat make his choice of routes, as a move via Erfurt and them north may be faster than a move cross-country.  He best understands his dispositions and given the mission of moving quickly, he can find the best way to accomplish it.

Lannes:

Why is this wine so sweet?

Naumbourg it is, then. V Corps needs to stretch it legs a bit and walk some more.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #125 on: May 19, 2018, 06:14:57 PM »
To: West Wing, 0600 17 OCT

To: Marshals Murat, Lannes, Augereau, Bernadotte
From: Marshall Davout
Time: 0600 17 OCT

Gentlemen, see the discussion below; the West Wing will split as follows:

Davout and Lannes will march in the direction of Naumbourg via Weimar and Apolda, seeking to find and destroy Brunswick.  Davout will be in the lead.  We will seek to destroy the Prussian Army.

Murat will resume the left hook, moving back to the Weissensee-Eisleben road by the most expeditious means and hooking thence to Halle in order to provide flank support to the West wing and destroy the Prussian Army.


Friendly situaiton: Marshals Augereau and Bernadotte may precede us on the road to Naumbourg; their exact plan is not entirely clear to me.  At Weimar, Bernadotte's location is in dispute as Apolda or Jena; Augereau is at Weimar.  Augereau is currently expected to lead the West Wing to Naumbourg, and our Emperor is ordering Bernadotte to Jena and thence northeast to Zeib.

Enemy situation: Brunswick evaded our attack on his position at Weimar and his current position is not certain.

--  Davout


Napoleon:

I approve this disposition, including Murat choosing the best route on his flanking hook, with an eye to ensuring there will be no traffic jams.

I will send word to my cavalry currently camped on the road west of Weimar, to move off it to the south somewhat, so as to allow room for other divisions to pass.

Napoleon

[This message forwarded to Marshals Murat and Bernadotte]


Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #126 on: May 19, 2018, 06:15:48 PM »
Lannes to V Corps

To: All V Corps

Generals,

We will be marching for ten hours along the road from Weimar to Naumbourg, as part of a larger movement of the western half of the army. We will be following M. Davout's III Corps, who is in turn behind M. Augereau.

Be prepared to march quickly in support of the troops to our front; contact with the Prussians is expected. The order of march will be our cavalry, 1st Division, 2nd, Division, 3rd Division. our cavalry is to keep contact with M. Davout's corps. I will maintain my headquarters with 1st Division.

Allons y!

Lannes


Davout, still with Lannes in Weimar:

Let's kick some (more) Prussian ass.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #127 on: May 19, 2018, 06:16:23 PM »
Augereau's March to Battle

My Corps will lead the attack towards Naumbourg. We will depart on the order of the emperor. We will conduct very aggressive recon to locate the enemy. We will then pile on.

Generals,

We will be marching for ten hours along the road from Weimar to Naumbourg, as part of a larger movement of the western half of the army. We will be in front of M. Davout's III Corps, who is in turn in Front of Lannes.

Be prepared to march quickly in support of the reconnaissance troops to our front; contact with the Prussians is expected and desired. The order of march will be our cavalry, conducting  aggressive recon to locate and report the locations of the Prussians, 1st Division, 2nd, Division, 3rd Division. I will maintain my headquarters with 1st Division. Upon contact, we will deploy for battle. 1st on the left, 2nd on the right, 3rd in reserve. Cavalry returning to reorganize with squadrons on each flank.

Let us stay the hunt once and for all!!

Allons!

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #128 on: May 19, 2018, 06:17:31 PM »
DISPATCH -- MURAT to DAVOUT -- 1330, 17th October

SENT 0930, 17th October


From:  Murat, heading cross-country from north of Weimar to Sommerda
To: Lannes, on the Erfurt-Weimar road
      Davout, vicinity Weimar

Comrades,
In accordance with our wing commander's instructions I am headed northwest towards Sommerda and thence to Weissensee. Rather than backtracking along the Weimar-Erfurt road I have instead chosen to cut across the bleak German heath and head directly for Sommerda; this should help keep the road clear and uncongested for your use.

I have received reports from my rear guard (General Grouchy's division of dragoons) that his scouts have sighted two Prussian divisions deployed on the road between Naumbourg and Weimar, and notes that one of those two divisions appears to be in considerable disorder. I suspect these may be the remains of Ruchel's corps, acting as a screen to cover the withdrawal of other, larger, Prussian forces (possibly Brunswick's army). I have no intention of engaging this enemy force and will doubtless have lost contact with it by the time you receive this communique.

I will send another courier updating my status once I reach Sommerda.
Please keep me apprised of your movements.

- Murat

[This note then forwarded to Emperor Napoleon, Marshalls Lannes, Bernadotte, Augereau with the note that:

Please find enclosed a copy of a note from Marshal Murat;  he notes a brief contact with two disorganized Prussian divisions on the Weimar-Naumbourg road.

Presumably, though Murat's cavalry's northwestern march will cause them to lose contact with this rabble, Marshal Augereau will sweep these Prussian road fleas into the dustbin of history.

- Davout]

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #129 on: May 19, 2018, 06:18:37 PM »
DISPATCH -- AUGEREAU to DAVOUT -- 1900, 17th October

[Umpire: Control interprets the Marshal's directive by including the original communication that prompted his later response.

S!]



Subject: DISPATCH FROM CONTROL -- 1700, 17th October

Marshal Augereau,

The head of your column is as of this hour some 5 km from Naumbourg.

Your forward scouts report that, in the outskirts of Naumbourg, they can see the trail end of Weimar's division forming up for what appears to be the evening's bivouac.

S!

Response:

Wonderful news! I dispatch messengers to Napoleon, Davout, and Soult. I inform them of what my scouts report and my intent, which is to engage the enemy.

In the meantime, I quickly and diligently deploy my Corps for battle, with the intent to catch the Prussians with their pants down.


From: Davout
To: Marshals Murat, Lannes, Emperor Napoleon
Time:  1900 17 October

Brother marshals, please see below a note from Marshal Augereau:

Note that this means we have figured out which direction Weimar ran in and perhaps Ruchel's line of flight - Weimar is one of Ruchel's divisions.

Where did Brunswick go?  East?

- Davout


Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #130 on: May 19, 2018, 06:21:37 PM »
DISPATCH -- FROM CONTROL -- 2000, 17th October

General Viallannes reports the sound of gunfire ahead from the direction of Naumbourg.

S!


Davout to Umpire:

What is our current approximate distance to Naumbourg?

Roughly how far away is Vialannes?

(I'm deciding if we're going to march to the sound of the guns right now, or in the morning.  Chances are this is 1) old news and 2) Augereau needs no help, but just in case.....)


Umpire:

This is "new" news, but the darkness is very thick.  You are, conservatively, several hours removed from Naumbourg and would be confronted with night march penalties.


Davout:

We're going to wait for morning, then - thanks!

Please inform the troops of this development.

Also, I request that my staff compile an estimate of troop fatigue levels.


Umpire to Davout:

The below chain is received by you at 2230 on the 17th.  It was sent at 2000 on the same date from Marshal Augereau.

S!


Augereau:

Desjardin is to hold and consolidate his position. We will bring up the remainder of the Corps and prepare for action to occur at first light. He is to be commended fir his action this evening. I also dispatch messages to Napoleon and Davout informing them of what happened and what I intend.


[Umpire to Augereau]
A smoke-blacked messenger from one of the brigades under General Desjardins reports:

The Prussians before Naumbourg were caught on their bivouacs and driven into the city in disorder.  Your and their numbers were very nearly equal, but they would not stand.

Casualties were not great on either side given the confusion of the evening, but they have fled into the city.

The concern must now be whether they will seek to hold the city in the dark -- a dangerous night fight under the best of circumstances -- or will seek to withdraw during the evening.

The messenger awaits your instructions.

S!


[Umpire to Davout]

Your evening reports show very limited fatigue throughout the III Corps.

Frankly, the march of General Augereau's men somewhat limited your own capacity to march to anything approaching exhaustion.

None save Friant has suffered morale loss form any level of fatigue.

S!


Davout to Umpire:

And Friant was engaged earlier in the campaign so we'll let him off the hook.  For now.  ;)

Thank you!


Davout:

From: Marshal Davout
To: Marshals Murat, Lannes, and Bernadotte
Time:  2300 17 October

Gentlemen, see attached a note [above in this account] from Marshal Augereau, who is driving General Weimar's rabble of rats and rabbits into Naumbourg.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #131 on: May 19, 2018, 06:22:23 PM »
Davout's Corps orders for 18 October

From: Marshal Davout
To:   III Corps; also Emperor Napoleon, Marshals Murat, Augereau, Lannes, Murat, and Bernadotte
Time: 2300 17 October

Soldiers of III Corps!

Ahead of us on the road, Marshal Augereau has engaged General Weimar at Naumbourg, surprising the Prussian rats as they ate dinner and scattering them into the town like rabbits.  Tomorrow he will resume the attack.

We will continue marching to Naumbourg tomorrow morning; we must be prepared to to continue the pursuit beyond Naumbourg, or, perhaps, to assist Marshal Augereau with the fighting in the unlikely event the Prussians discover a spine.

- Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #132 on: May 19, 2018, 06:23:08 PM »
DISPATCH -- NAPOLEON I to all Marshals from Weimar to Naumbourg 0200, 18th October

Marshals of the combined Central Thrust, on the roads from Weimar (generally) to Naumbourg:

I have been following your reports of this day's (and evening's) activity with great interest as I receive them, and I am loath to interfere with your preliminaries as you maneuver into Naumbourg. Indeed, simple chatter on the road, from where I wait nearby, has reached me of some stunning results in that city, which sound as though they are in our favor although I am not quite sure.

Be that as it may, here two hours after midnight, I am only dispatching couriers to let you know what news I have received from the efforts of our Central Thrust up to now; and that I have no specific orders in mind yet. Once I'm sure the traffic has cleared sufficiently I'll be moving up into closer communion with my cavalry division. Mainly I want to ensure I am not in the way while you are doing your business.

I have not yet received news from Bernadotte or the East Wing more generally from today, but I'll pass up whatever I hear when-if-ever I do.

Let me not distract you; on with your work!

Napoleon I

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #133 on: May 19, 2018, 07:51:58 PM »
Nothing to add here but my more specific appreciation for hearing what happened at Naumbourg.  :clap:
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #134 on: July 04, 2018, 12:50:02 PM »
From: Marshal Davout
To:   III Corps; also Emperor Napoleon, Marshals Murat, Augereau, Lannes, Murat, and Bernadotte
Time: 2300 17 October

Soldiers of III Corps!

Ahead of us on the road, Marshal Augereau has engaged General Weimar at Naumbourg, surprising the Prussian rats as they ate dinner and scattering them into the town like rabbits.  Tomorrow he will resume the attack.

We will continue marching to Naumbourg tomorrow morning; we must be prepared to to continue the pursuit beyond Naumbourg, or, perhaps, to assist Marshal Augereau with the fighting in the unlikely event the Prussians discover a spine.

- Davout