Saturday, 13 June 2009

Battle of Magdeburg - 14 May 1813


14 May 1813 - Battle of Magdeburg

The Prussians have achieved their campaign objective of crossing the river Elbe and capturing Magdeburg. They have defeated the French three times in the process. However they are widely spread out along the west bank of the river.

The French have withdrawn from Magdeburg to entice the Prussians to cross the river. They have now concentrated and hope to drive them back over the river.


The wargames table will consist of squares G4, G5, G6, H4, H5, H6, I4, I5, I6.

The game objective is Magdeburg (group of buildings in centre)

1st and 3rd Prussian corps (Jan) are in and around Magdeburg

2nd Prussian corps (Jan) will enter on bottom road on move 4

4th Prussian corps (Jan) will enter on top road on move 4

4th, 5th 6th French corps, and 13th Polish corps, (Paul) will all enter from left


The French plan of attack was to hold on the left with 13th Polish corps, advance on the centre towards Magdeburg with 5th and 6th French corps but halt to await developments. 4th corps would be the main attack would be on the right. It would be supported by a cavalry division created by taking two brigades and horse artillery from the other corps.

Blucher would hold Magdeburg with 1st corps, and the area to his right with 3rd corps until his reinforcements arrived.

The French left are approaching the farm, where they have orders to halt. To their right the centre is approaching Magdeburg.

The French right are advancing towards the open Prussian left. Prussian cavalry have been sent to spot the French, and they have sent their cavalry forward to keep them at bay.

The Prussian cavalry charge before the full French cavalry division can deploy. They win the melee, and rout the cuirassiers. The second French cavalry brigade has to check its morale, fails and also routs, taking the horse artillery with them. The Prussian cavalry are still a threat, and the right flank commander orders a halt and infantry into square.

Within minutes the whole French attack has stalled.

The French are slow to take advantage of this set back. They bring up their own cavalry reserve, which results in the French centre halting and forming square, as their corps cavalry had been withdrawn to form the cavalry division.

Davout ordered his centre and right to hold their ground. He then rode to the left flank and ordered 5th and 13th corps to advance against the Prussian right. The main French attack would now be on the left.

The French attack broke the 3rd Prussian corps, who routed back into the 4th corps, who were just arriving in column of march. Blucher was busy on the opposite flank, trying to organise his own attack. By the time he arrived both corps were badly shaken, with a number of brigades in rout.

Having ordered his left to engage the Prussians right of Magdeburg, Davout returns to 5th corps to order them forward to engage Magdeburg. On the far right 6th corps will hold at all costs.

The Prussian right, 3rd and 4th corps, are broken and in rout. 5th French and 13th Polish are in hot pursuit. They have reached the road junction and are about to move past Magdeburg (left out of photograph)


After an initial setback, which might have lost the battle for a lesser general, Davout managed to organise his left wing to smash the Prussians before they could deploy. However he is well aware that his tired corps, who have suffered three recent defeats and marched for two days to concentrate for this battle, are in no condition to mount an effective pursuit.