Battles fought in Central Germany
At the end of 1812 both the French and Russian armies were broken and exhausted by the terrible Russian campaign. Napoleon believed that the Russians would be prepared to agree to peace in order to rebuild their army.
At the start of February 1813 he did not consider them to be an immediate threat. He was unaware of the secret allied treaty which agreed that the Prussia, Russia, Austria, England and Spain would all declare war on France. He was also unaware that the Russians had crossed the river Oder on 20 January 1813.
On 8 February 1813 General Wittgenstein crossed the river Moldau and entered Dresden. Having secured the city he ordered his army to march west and on 21 February they occupied Gera.
Napoleon ordered Davout to concentrate the Second French army at Kassel. By the end of February they were fully operational.
5 March 1813 – Kassel campaign. The Russians advanced and defeated the French at Kassel, Warburg, Freidland and Kassel again. The French won two battles at Kassel. Wittgenstein lost the campaign and retreated east.
19 March 1813 – First Gotha campaign. The Russians won the first battle at Suhl, but were defeated at Gotha and again at Suhl. The French won the campaign and Wittgenstein was again forced to retreat.
5 April 1813 – Armistice. After a month of non stop marching and fighting both armies were in a poor shape. Both needed time to regroup, resupply and reinforce. Napoleon offered a seven day truce and Wittgenstein eagerly accepted. The terms of the truce was that the Russian Army would retreat to Gera and the French Army would hold Kassel.
12 April 1813 – Second Gotha Campaign. Davout won the first battle at Meiningen, but was defeated at Barchfeld and again at Meiningen. The French lost the campaign and retreated to Kassel
24 May 1813 – Eisenbach Campaign. Davout lost the first battle at Kassel. He defeated the Russians at Meiningen, but lost again at Friedland. He won at Gotha and again at Dolstadt. The final battle of Meiningen was a draw. The battered Russian Army retreated to Erfurt and the French won the campaign.
The campaign diary contains comprehensive details of the whole campaign. The labels on the right are an index to various parts of the campaign.
01 - introduction to the 1813 campaign
02 - the five campaign areas
20 - introduction to the campaign in Central Germany
23 - daily diary for the campaign in Central Germany
24 - battle reports of all battles fought in Central Germany