040. The Battle of Bautzen - JTS Campaign Bautzen
040. The Battle of BautzenBy Bill Peters
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|First Side:||French (Nap)|
|Second Side:||Allies (Nap)|
20-21 May 1813 - Historical - Intended to be played Head to Head - This is the full two day battle. The French had been following after the Allies after the Battle of Lutzen but because of a lack of cavalry had not been able to launch a pursuit. The Allies kept retreating until they reached the town of Bautzen where some natural features made a defense possible. Several council of war were held where several strategies were discussed but the usual Allied command structure and national pride reared its head and no sound strategy was developed. The Tsar continued to poke his head into military matters further muddying the waters. The French were slow to arrive and on the 18th the Allies pondered an attack but let the opportunity slip away. Meanwhile, one of Napoleon's Italian divisions received a drubbing along the way to the battlefield and would not take part in the battle. Bertrand was slow to come up as well. Finally on the 20th with word that Ney's wing would arrive by that evening Napoleon launched his attack. Oudinot's corps formed up on the right while the center and left were held by the rest of his forces. The Allies were slow to give any ground and in fact launched a series of counter attacks that stopped the French cold. The rest of the day was spent in thrust-counter thrust maneuvers. No real ground was gained by the French. Napoelon would bank on Ney's arrival to tip the balance. On the 21st he issued orders for Ney to turn the Allied right flank and attack their rear. Ney's troops were slow to get up and at one point he launched an attack in piecemeal fashion on the town of ... which then changed hands several times after the Allies brought up more troops. A crisis was reached on the right where Oudinot was being harried by the Allies. His position was untenable and he sent couriers requesting more troops. MacDonald in the center near the town was tied up with the main assault and Napoleon would send no troops to help out the XII Corps. With the battle at its height for this day Ney misunderstood Napoleon's orders and attacked the heights near Klein Bautzen which was the front of the Allied right flank. His legions rolled up to the hill meeting up with the forces from the French center. Gone was the opportunity to turn the Allied right as they were now in retreat pulling back towards Gorlitz and safety. The lack of cavalry was felt once more as the Allies were able to screen the French advance and the battle was a Pyrhic victory. Napoleon had lost over 20,000 men while the Allies lost much less. Only a few scattered engagement remained before the armistace was concluded. Perhaps historians have been too harsh on Ney as Napoleon probably should have sent guides with maps to help him along the flank attack march route that he had envisioned. The terrain was wooded and probably aided the Allies in the battle. While the decrepit Allied command structure had given Napoleon a great opportunity his own lack of operational leadership failed the French at this battle.