Author Topic: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout  (Read 27188 times)

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Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #30 on: May 16, 2018, 08:08:45 PM »
SENT: 1700 12 October
To: Marshals Murat and Lannes
From: Marshal Davout

Marshals,

I have a note from Bernadotte, noting that there were no Prussians at
Saalfeld as of 0800 on 12 October.  I am led to wonder if the
Prussians are fighting a delay, trading space for time and
information.

If so, then moving quickly to destroy General Ruchel would be highly
advantageous.  Even if not, if he is isolated, destroying him is still
to our advantage.  Moving quickly will also make it more difficult for
him to be reinforced or withdraw via the Gotha-Erfurt-Weimar road that
presumably leads to the Prussian main body.

Therefore, I intend to launch my corps northwards tomorrow morning,
driving one infantry division and LaSalle's cavalry up the road to
Gotha in order to pin Ruchel, and swinging the rest of the cavalry and
the other two divisions eastwards to take the Arnstadt-Gotha road in
order to cut that road and attack Gotha from the rear.

If I hear before tomorrow morning that Marshal Lannes will be
advancing on Ohrdruf & Gotha directly tomorrow then I will swing my
entire corps eastwards, leaving LaSalle's cavalry to maintain pressure
and shape the situation for Marshal Lannes.  This should see us
eventually converging on Erfurt from three directions with our three
forces.

Please advise me as soon as you are able if this plan does not meet
your approval - I recognize that it is a change from your plan as
specified in your most recent message.

Hopefully Erfurt will have something more drinkable than goat piss.

- Marshal Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #31 on: May 16, 2018, 08:09:36 PM »
III Corps orders for 13 October

Sender:   DAVOUT.

12 Oct. 1800 at YELLOW

Time Sent: (UMPIRE)


Recipient:

III Corps Divisions

  1st, 2nd, & 3rd  Infantry Divisions, Cavalry Division;

LaSalleís and Sahucís cavalry divisions

Murat and Lannes

Time Received: (UMPIRE)


Unit Marching:

III Corps will move to engage General Ruchel from the south and east;
1st division and LaSalle will pin at Ohrdruf while the rest move to
Arnstadt to set up a flanking movement.


Cavalry Division: Move to Arnstadt

1st Division and LaSalle: Move to Gotha.  Coordinate contact with
General LaSalleís cavalry.  Contact is expected between Ohrdruf and
Gotha.  Contact is expected with Marshal Lannesí forces coming up the
road from ORANGE.  On Lannesí arrival you will fall under his tactical
control.

2nd and 3rd Divisions: Move to Arnstadt.

Sahuc: Move to the river bridges between Gotha and Arnstadt, seizing
them in order to enable the divisions at Arnstadt to move across them
on the 14th.

My HQ will move to Arnstadt.

Time to Spend Marching:

10 hours/20km to Arsnstadt.

 ROE:

1st Division is a pinning movement; maintain contact but decisive
engagement is not desired.

Dispatches:

Upon arrival at evening camp, send a dispatch to indicating position.

All units should be prepared for the possibility of contact with the Prussians.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #32 on: May 16, 2018, 08:09:57 PM »
DISPATCH, Sahuc to Davout, 1800, 12th October

SENT 1400, 12th October

My Lord Marshal,

Very pleased to report that we have secured the bridges at Arnstadt.

No Prrusians here in evidence!

S!

Sahuc

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #33 on: May 16, 2018, 08:10:09 PM »
SENT 1800 12 October
TO: Marshals Lannes and Murat

Marshals!

General Sahuc reports that as of 1400 on 12 October, Arsntadt had been
secured and no Prussians were to be found.

I am extremely disappointed that he has not reported the presence of
quality wine, but perhaps he is merely covering for having consumed it
all.

Given the absence of Prussians in Saalfeld and Arnstadt I believe we
may conclude the Prussians are not defending near the frontier in our
area.  It remains to be seen if they put up a fight for Gotha and
Erfurt, or if they hope to withdraw still deeper.

- Marshal Davout

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #34 on: May 16, 2018, 08:10:34 PM »
DISPATCH -- Murat to Davout, 1900, 12th October

SENT 1100, 12th October

To: Marshals Davout and Lannes

From: Marshal Murat (on the Moiningen-Eisenach road, vicinity of the crossroad leading to ORANGE pass)
 
I am in receipt of Marshal Davout's message (sent 0800, 12 October) wherein he requests guidance regarding my intentions and direction on how to proceed.
 
I have recently received word from General LaSalle (who is south of Ohrdruff with my light cavalry) that "a portion of the Prussian army is departing from Ohrdruf, headed north in haste." Whether that means that all or only part of Ruchel's Advance Guard division is still defending Ohrdruf or not, I am unable to say as LaSalle's report was vague.
 
Because I am not entirely confident of where either of you are currently located, I am thus somewhat reluctant to commit to offensive action until it becomes clear whether you are in close enough proximity to support an attack on Ohrdruff.
 
I have directed my detached cavalry (LaSalle and Sahuc's divisions -- some 9000 sabers) to maintain contact with the enemy at Orhdruf, but not engage. I do not believe that by themselves two divisions of cavalry, especially without a senior commander on hand to orchestrate their efforts, are adequate to overcome a strong enemy rear guard.
 
Based on Marshal Davout's personal assessment of the situation once he actually arrives on scene, he has my permission to launch an immediate attack against the withdrawing Prussian forces should he deem that action appropriate.
 
For my part, I intend continue north towards Eisenach. While I personally do not feel advancing on Eisenach is necessary, the Emperor has directed that we ensure no Prussian forces are in a position to infiltrate south and interfere with our lines of communication. Therefore, to conform to the Emperor's wishes, I will clear Eisenach and then march on Gotha (to presumably rendezvous with the two of you at that location). If I am delayed at Eisenach, I will notify you both and, depending on your situation, will provide additional direction.
 
As I pass by the crossroads leading towards the ORANGE pass, I will be detaching some additional cavalry to conduct a reconnaissance up that road. Once Marshal Lannes arrives at that pass he should take temporary control of that cavalry and then coordinate with Marshal Davout to conduct an attack in tandem to first clear Ohrdruf and then advance on Gotha. Whichever of the two of you who arrives on the scene first should assume the duties of overall commander of any attack along the Ohrdruf-Gotha road. However, once you reach Gotha you should both stop and rest your troops before continuing your advance (as indicated above, I expect to join you in Gotha via Eisenach).
 
Your comrade in arms,
- Murat

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #35 on: May 16, 2018, 08:10:56 PM »
DISPATCH -- Lannes to Davout, 2200, 12th October

SENT -- 1700, 12th October

To: Marshal Murat (believed to be along the Meiningen-Eisenach road, headed north) and Marshal Davout (believed to be at pass YELLOW)
Colleagues,

My cavalry has encountered a cavalry division of Murat's just southwest of the Ohrdruf-Gotha crossroad. This division appears to be attached to Marshal Davout's corps and is in pursuit of a Prussian force withdrawing toward Gotha.

I have also only in the last hour received Marshall Murat's dispatch sent at 1100 this day, indicating his cavalry reporting that the Prussians were moving north from Ohrdruf. At about the time this dispatch was sent, my cavalry reported Prussian horse in Ohrdruf, so I am at this stage unsure as to the presence or absence of enemy troops in the village. I have also only in the past hour received Marshall Davout's dispatch of 1100 indicating that his cavalry had reached the southern part of YELLOW. From the above report, I can only assume that the main body of Davout's corps is at, or perhaps north of the pass.

I have dispatched my cavalry, including d'Hautpol's division seconded to me by Marshall Murat to join the pursuit and maintain contact with the Prussians. It would seem that despite my specific instructions to be informed if the Prussians were moving from the vicinity of Ohrdruf, I am forced to guess what is going on to my front. These hussars are little more than bandits on horseback!

Given the situation and my uncertainty as to your exact locations, despite the lateness of the hour I intend to move my troops to Ohrdruf in support of the advancing cavalry. On arriving at the village, if there are no Prussians to be found, I will leave the infantry to rest and ride to join my cavalry and seek to locate the Prussians.

Marshall Davout, please join me in moving toward Gotha yet this evening. If you are already advancing, please inform me of your intentions and directions.

Lannes

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #36 on: May 16, 2018, 08:11:16 PM »
DISPATCH -- Lannes to Davout, 2230, 12th October

SENT -- 1730, 12th October

To: Marshal Murat (believed to be along the Meiningen-Eisenach road, headed north) and Marshal Davout (believed to be at pass YELLOW)
Colleagues,

After consideration, I believe it will be of more use for me to march on the crossroads north of Ohrdruf and south of Gotha. If and enemy remain in Ohrdruf doing so will cut their line of communication with the rest of Ruchel's corps, and will place my corps in an advantageous position to support Davout in an advance on Gotha tomorrow. Marshall Davout, I will leave it to your troops to clear Ohrdruf if they have not done so already.

Lannes

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #37 on: May 16, 2018, 08:11:33 PM »
DISPATCH -- Bernadotte to Davout, 2300, 12th October

SENT 1400, 12th October

Davout,

Beg leave to report that I Corps has arrived and assembled at Saalfeld.

No Prussians in sight.

I salute you.

Bernadotte

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #38 on: May 16, 2018, 08:11:51 PM »
DISPATCH -- LaSalle to Davout, 2300, 12th October

SENT 1900, 12th October

My Lord Marshal,

Beg leave to report that we have arrived at Gotha and found it devoid of Prussians.  Strong evidence, however of a very recent presence.

My piquets report at least two divisions of Prussian troops defending the river line to the East of Gotha at the Gotha-Erfurt crossroads.

S!

LaSalle

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #39 on: May 16, 2018, 08:12:48 PM »
SENT 0000, 13 October
To: Marshals Lannes, Murat, and Bernadotte;
*and*
To: all III Corps divisions, Generals Sahuc and LaSalle

Marshals!

Incredibly, we found a supply of Turkish coffee at an mountain inn.
How was not consumed before our arrival is a mystery, but the outcome
is most welcome.  Perhaps the Germans' beer has addled their livers to
the point that they don't comprehend any of the finer things in life?

Moving to business....

General LaSalle reports that as of 1900 on 12 October, his forces had
entered Gotha and found it to have been recently vacated by the
Prussians.  However, two divisions of Prussian infantry, thought to be
from Ruchel's corps, were "defending the river line to the east of
Gotha at the Gotha-Erfurt crossroads".

By the way, Marshal Murat, Generals LaSalle and Sahuc have been doing
exemplary work in reconnoitering the enemy.

As a result, combining reports:

There are no Prussians in Arnstadt, Saalfeld, or Gotha; and we have
forces in all three, though Arnstadt and Gotha are held by cavalry.

General Ruchel has been steadily withdrawing in the direction of
Erfurt and Weimar.

It is not clear to me if "the river line east of Gotha at the
Gotha-Erfurt crossroads" means he intends to defend the Arnstadt road,
or not.

It is not clear if he intends to defend there - perhaps using the
ridgeline?; or to continue withdrawing towards Weimar; or to withdraw
northwards towards Tennstadt.

It is therefore my intention to alter my prior orders in the following
manner (followed by a complete rendition of the orders), with the
intent of arraying forces to pin General Ruchel from the west and
south if he holds at the crossroads, and, if he should withdraw again,
of reuniting the III Corps at the crossroads between Gotha and Erfurt
in order to continue operations against him.  One cavalry division
will move to reconnoiter east of Erfurt, both to discern possible
Prussian positions there and perhaps to place fear in his withdrawal
if he moves that direction.

Note that while it is very tempting to instead attempt to continue
harder eastwards, trying to get forces in place to attack Ruchel on
the Erfurt-Weimar road - or, failing that, to use that maneuver to
come at him from Erfurt to support Lannes' expected move through Gotha
- I am doubtful that I can march quickly enough to accomplish this
without marching them beyond reasonable endurance.  Arnstadt or the
river crossings are a 10 hour overland march, and pushing past
Arnstadt to Erfurt tomorrow would require another 6 to 8 hours'
marching - yet even so, Ruchel could easily outmarch me down the road
to Weimar.


------------Orders for 13 October, replacing the prior set------------
III Corps will move to engage General Ruchel from the west and south,
moving to converge on the road intersection between Gotha and Erfurt.

 Cavalry Division: Move to Arnstadt; prepare to move to Erfurt (on the
eastern side of the river) and the Erfurt-Weimar road river crossing
on the next day.

1st Division and LaSalle: Move to Gotha, then move toward Erfurt.
Contact is expected between Gotha and Erfurt.  Contact is expected
with Marshal Lannesí forces coming up the road from ORANGE.  On
Lannesí arrival you will fall under his tactical control until we
reunite and he releases you back to my control.

2nd and 3rd Divisions: Move to the northern of the two river crossings
between Gotha and Arnstadt.  2nd Division should cross the river.
Expected follow-on mission is to attack the Prussians between Erfurt
and Gotha, or link up with the 1st Division at the Gotha-Erfurt
crossroads.  Alternate follow-on mission is to march via Arnstadt to
outflank Prussian positions at Erfurt.

Sahuc: Seize the river bridges between Gotha and Arnstadt.
Reconnoiter northwards to discover Prussian forcesí locations.  No
limit of advance north or east, but do not march more than 10 hours.

My HQ will move to the northern Arnstadt-Gotha river crossing.
-------------------------

If you wish me to act otherwise, please advise me soonest; we will
begin marching with the dawn.

--  Marshal Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #40 on: May 16, 2018, 08:13:18 PM »
DISPATCH -- Murat to Davout, 0200, 13th October

SENT 1900, 12th October

To Marshal Davout

(believed to be in bivouac about 20km south of Ohrdruf)

From Marshal Murat (encamped vicinity Eisenach)


 

My dear comrade -

I am in receipt of your message sent at 1100 this morning, regarding your advance scouts reaching the mouth of the YELLOW pass.

 

I am assuming the rest of your corps will be able to reach the mouth to the YELLOW pass by midday tomorrow. While you did not confirm it, I also assume you have linked up with and taken temporary control of the two cavalry divisions I left in position to screen your approach to that pass (LaSalle's light division and Sahuc's dragoons). This should give you an additional 9000 cavalry to work with for the advance on Ohrdruf.

 

As your men move into position, please begin an immediate attack towards Ohrdruf, with the intent of forcing any enemy troops there to fall back on Gotha.

 

I received word from Marshall Lannes that he has his troops in position of the ORANGE pass. I have ordered him to advance his corps starting at dawn in such a way as to interpose himself between Ohrdruf and Gotha. Hopefully this maneuver will hopefully impede any attempt by the Prussians in Ohrdruf to withdraw from that position back towards Gotha. If your attack goes well, there is a good chance your forces and Lannes' men can completely destroy the Prussian division in Ohrdruf between them.

 

For my part, I have reached Eisenach and found that town to be unoccupied by Prussian forces. I will pause my forces there for the night and, in the morning, begin to advance on Gotha from the west. This should put any Prussian forces in that town under pressure in such a manner that they will be unable to freely reinforce their contingent at Ohrdruf.

 

Once the enemy have been driven from Ohrdruf, you and Lannes should march on Gotha with all haste. Once we have captured Gotha, we will pause, rest our forces, and decide upon our next course of action.

 

- Murat

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #41 on: May 16, 2018, 08:13:34 PM »
DISPATCH -- Murat to Davout, 0300, 13th October

SENT 2200, 12th October

Comrades!
Since it now appears that the enemy are evacuating Ohrdruf in some haste, please occupy the town as soon as may be practical in the morning, and from there continue your advance on Gotha. If you find Prussian forces still in Gotha, deploy for battle and, once you are ready, drive the enemy from that city. For my part, I will be marching eastwards from Eisenach to Gotha at sunrise.
 
Allow me emphasize that it is essential we keep the Prussians under pressure. If they withdraw from Gotha, have your cavalry maintain contact -- do not permit the enemy to disengage!
 
- Murat

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #42 on: May 16, 2018, 08:15:18 PM »
DISPATCH -- 0500, 13th October

SENT 2200, 12th October

Comrades!
Since it now appears that the enemy are evacuating Ohrdruf in some haste, please occupy the town as soon as may be practical in the morning, and from there continue your advance on Gotha. If you find Prussian forces still in Gotha, deploy for battle and, once you are ready, drive the enemy from that city. For my part, I will be marching eastwards from Eisenach to Gotha at sunrise.
 
Allow me emphasize that it is essential we keep the Prussians under pressure. If they withdraw from Gotha, have your cavalry maintain contact -- do not permit the enemy to disengage!
 
- Murat

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #43 on: May 16, 2018, 08:15:45 PM »
DISPATCH -- SAHUC to DAVOUT, 1100, 13th October

My Lord Marshal,

Beg leave to report that we have encountered a Prussian Division, oriented generally West, just East of the fork in the Gotha - Erfurt road.

With full confidence that we have further forces to our front -- to the North and West -- I am preparing to attack!

Vive L'Empereur!!

Louis Michel Antoine Sahuc

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #44 on: May 16, 2018, 08:16:03 PM »
To: Marshals Murat and Landes
Sent: 1100 13 October

General Sahuc reports contact, at 0800 this morning, with one of General Rachel's divisions on the Gotha-Erfurt road.  We might yet bring the Prussian to heel.

Included message -


My Lord Marshal,

Beg leave to report that we have encountered a Prussian Division, oriented generally West, just East of the fork in the Gotha - Erfurt road.

With full confidence that we have further forces to our front -- to the North and West -- I am preparing to attack!

Vive L'Empereur!!

Louis Michel Antoine Sahuc

Death and confusion to the enemy!

- Marshal Davout