Dresden, Battle of

Dresden, Battle of
   Fought on August 26–27, 1813, the Battle of Dresden was Napoleon Bonaparte’s only major victory over Allied forces in the 1813 War of Liberation. After Austria joined the Allies on August 11, its Army of Bohemia, under Feldmarschall Karl Fürst zu Schwarzenberg and reinforced with Prussian and Russian troops to 80,000 men, marched to the vital city of Dresden in Saxony on August 25, while Napoleon’s army was thought to be in Silesia. Marshal Gouvion St-Cyr held the city with 20,000 men, but Allied planning delays allowed Napoleon to arrive with 90,000 troops on August 26. Uninformed of the French reinforcements, Schwarzenberg’s orders permitted him to mount only five half-hearted demonstrations against the city. The attack columns had marched to within cannon shot range of the city at midday, but at 5 P.M ., as they prepared to assault the city, Napoleon unleashed his reinforcements and by midnight, the Allies were back in their starting positions. In the pouring rain of the next morning, further reinforced to 140,000 men, Napoleon launched a double flank attack, with a reinforced center holding its positions to force the expanded Allied army of 170,000 to withdraw.
   Although the French left under Marshal Mortier became bogged down against General Wittgenstein’s 35,000 Russians, Marshal Murat had overwhelmed the Allied left flank under Austrian Feldzugmeister Ignaz Gyulai by 3 P.M. , just as an additional French corps under Marshal Vandamme seized Pirna 16 miles to the southeast to threaten the Allied rear. An hour later, Schwarzenberg issued orders for a withdrawal of Bohemia, leaving 12,000 prisoners behind.
   See also <>.
    Brett-James, A. Europe Against Napoleon: the Leipzig Campaign 1813. London: Macmillan, 1970.
    London; Hofschröer, P. Leipzig 1813. Oxford: Osprey Military Publishing, 1993.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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