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September 1813


Fedor Shubert’s Diary Of The 1813 Campaign

September 1813


1 [13 September]. A heavy cannonade was heard from early morning, but no one knew where it came from; in the evening we learned that St. Priest attacked the enemy; details are unknown.[31] Langeron knows virtually nothing: neither was should be done, nor what the enemy does nor what do we do.

2 [14 September]. Completely quite.

3 [15 September]. We marched to Bautzen; Sacken’s corps at lamenz, Kaptzevich and Bubna[32] in the vicinity of Neustadt. Our advance guard occupied Bischofsverda. St. Priest is nearby at Drelnitz.

4-9 [16-21 September]. Completely peaceful.

10 [22 September]. Yesterday we received news that Napoleon was constructing bridges at Pirna and that his army was crossing to the right bank of the Elbe. Today our entire line of outposts was attacked; we are abandoning Bischofsverda. Napoleon himself arrived at Stolpen.

11 [23 September]. Our advance guard was driven back to Pfortgen; the cavalry moved to reinforce it but returned in the evening without taking part in the fighting. Two battalions of Westphalians were mowed down by Emmanuel.

12-13 [24-25 September]. Peace. On the 13th, the French retreated behind Bischofswerde and returned to position at Hartkau.

14 [26 September]. Our outposts advanced to Konigsbruck. There are rumors that King of Sweden had died.[33]

15 [27 September].  We left Bautzen and camped at Konigsbruck.

16 [28 September]. Marched to Ostrand.

17 [29 September]. Marched to Elsterwerda.

No.1 In the Battle of Lutzen, the French army was almost completely defeated, when at 5 p.m. Viceroy[34] arrived with 25,000 men from Leipzig and revived the battle. Nevertheless, we camped near the battlefield. 14 guns and many prisoners were captured. The following day, our army had to retreat because of lack of ammunition. The enemy had to do the same but in such haste that he left 60 guns at Weissenfels, out of which 40 were spiked. However, seeing that we were not there, [the French] returned. Marshal Bessieres[35] was killed.

No. 2. Our army [Army of Bohemia] approached Dresden and, instead of attacking town defended only by 6,000 men strong garrison, it wasted two days. At 4 p.m. on the 14th, the army finally attacked but that same afternoon Napoleon had arrived with his guard and repulsed [the Allies] with [considerable] losses. Meantime, Vandamme with 40,000 men moved to Konigstein, where we left only 3,000 men; he drove them back and thus forced the [Allied] army to retreat to Altenburg. There was a horrible carnage in the streets of Dresden: some 15,000 killed and wounded were counted on our side; the troops advanced as far as the palace. Moreau[36] lost both his legs, Ostermann - his hand.

1. On entend une forte canonnade dès le matin ; mais personne ne sait ou cela est ; vers le soir on apprend que c’est St. –Priest qui a attaque l’ennemi ; on ignore les détails ; enfin Langeron ne sait rien lui-même, ni de ce que l’on va faire, ni de ce que l’ennemi fait, ni même ce que nous faisons.

2.  Tranquillité parfaite.

3. Nous marchons à Bautzen ; le corps de Sacken à Lamenz, Kaptzevitsch et Bubna sont aux environs de Neustadt. Notre avant-garde occupe Bischofsverda. St.-Priest en est tout près à Drelnitz.

4 jusqu’an 9. Paix profonde.

10.  L’on avait reçu la veille la nouvelle, que Napoléon construit des ponts près le Pirna, et que son armée y passe sur la rive droite de l’Elbe. Aujourd’hui toute la ligne des avant-postes est attaquée ; nous évacuons Bischofsverda. Lui-même arrive a Stolpen.

11. Notre avant-garde est repoussée jusque Pfortgen ; la cavalerie marche à son secours, mais retourne vers le soir sans avoir été en feu. Deux bataillons vestphaliens sont haches par Emanuel.

12 et 13. Tranquillité. Le 13 les français se retirent jusque derrière Bischofswerd, et reprennent leur position de Hartkau.

14. Nous avant-postes poussent jusque Konigsbruck ; le bruit court que le roi de Suède est mort.

15. Nous partons de Bautzen, pour coucher à Konisgbruck.

16. Marche à Ostrand.

17. Marche à Elsterwerda.

No. 1. À la bataille de Lutzen, l’armée française était déjà complètement battue, lorsqu’à 5 heures du soir le Vice-roi arrive de Leipsic avec 25000 hommes de troupes fraiches, qui remettent un peu le combat, pourtant nous couchons au-delà du champ de bataille. On prend 14 canons, et beaucoup des prisonniers. Le lendemain notre armée se retire faute de munitions ; l’ennemi avait fait de même et dans une telle hâte, qu’il laissait à Weissenfels 60 canons dont il dont lui-même 40, mais voyant que nous n’y étions plus, il retourna. Le maréchal Bessieres fut tué.

No. 2. Notre armée avait avance jusque Dresden, et au lieu prendre cette ville qui n’avait que 6,000 hommes de garnison elle perd deux jours. Le 14 à 4 heurs après-midi elle attaque enfin et le même jour à midi Napoléon avec ses gardes etc. venait d’arriver et la repousse avec perte. En même temps Vandamme avec 400000 hommes passe à Konigstein ou l’on n’avait laisse que 3000 hommes ; les repousse, et force par là l’armée de se retirer jusque Altenburg. Le carnage dans les rues de Dresde avait été terrible ; on comptait jusqu’à 15000 tués et blesses de notre cote ; les troupes avaient avance jusqu au château. Moreau eut les deux jambes emportées ; Ostermann – un bras.



[31] According to Journal of Military Operations, St. Priest engaged three enemy battalions and captured 300+ men.

[32] Ferdinand Bubna und Littitz was an Austrian diplomat who carried out several diplomatic missions to France in 1812-1813 and commanded light division of the Army of Bohemia’s advance guard.

[33] It was just a rumor since King of Sweden died in 1818.

[34] Shubert refers to Vice Roy Eugene.

[35] Jean Baptiste Bessieres  was killed on 1 May at Rippach, prior to the Battle of Lutzen.

[36] Jean Moreau distinguished himself during the Revolutionary Wars. He was disgraced by Napoleon and lived in exile in the U.S.  In 1813, he was invited to join the Allied army against Napoleon and served as military adviser to Emperor Alexander. He was mortally wounded by a cannonball near Dresden on 27 August.


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