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36

THE FRENCH MOVED FORWARD.

[A.D.

delivered over his forces to the command of the Grand-Duke Constantine, while he fell back on Guttstadt, to take counsel with his sovereign. After counsel taken, it was then determined to withdraw from the Passargo to the heights about Quitz, and the head. quarters of the army were established on the 7th at Glottau.

Napoleon first heard of the Russian attack at Finkenstein on the night of the 5th, and on the 6th, brought forward his headquarters to Saalfeld; but, on his arrival there, he heard of the result of the movements, and of the failure of the Russian attack on every point, and judging that they were in some hesitation as to their future course, he sent orders to Marshal Soult and to General Victor, who had succeeded Bernadotte in the command of the first corps, to push forward strong reconnoissances from Wolferndorf and Spanden while he himself repaired the same day to Deppen, and now finding, on the morning of the 8th, that the Russians were in retreat, he determined to assume the offensive. Soult advanced General Guyot with the light cavalry, in conjunction with General Legrand, who marched with his division on Wolferndorf, to observe the enemy's movements, but the cavalry general got involved with the Russians in the village of Kleinesfeld, where his troops were nearly surrounded by Havoiski's horse, and, in the endeavour to cut his way through, the General himself, with many officers and men, were killed, and many were made prisoners. Soult's advance, however, hastened the Russian retreat to their old position in the entrenched camp at Heilsberg; but the column of Gortschakow still occupied in force, with guns, the defile of Launau, and the Russian Guard took up the ground in front of Guttstadt, between the roads leading to Altkirk and Neuerdorf.

Napoleon crossed the Passargo at Deppen, with the corps of Ney and Lannes, and all the cavalry of the Grand-Duke of Berg; and Davoust the same day crossed at Haaserberg. Benningsen, seeing that the advancing masses gave the enemy a decided superiority, ordered Gortschakow to fall back on Beverniken, and Platow with 3000 Cossacks to cover his retreat. Soult and Davoust were directed to attack the enemy, and General St. Hilaire was immediately ordered forward with General Legrand's division on the second line, and the dragoons under General Latour-Mauberg were marched on Dietrichsdorff. The troops which St. Hilaire now found before him, were a detached force under General Kamenskoi, of about 8000 Russian infantry and 2500 Prussian cavalry, who had missed their way and were surprised to find an enemy in their path. They were, accordingly, soon driven back, and fled to Wormditt, with the loss of 500 or 600 men.

Soult steadily marched forward on Guttstadt, whither Prince Bagration was moving to cross the Alle, on his march to Heilsberg. The Prince halted, and showed front at Glottau, until he could get his corps across the river, over which he had thrown four bridges. This was successfully accomplished, notwithstanding that Murat, who was close on Bagration's heels, continued harassing attacks upon the Russian dragoons, by the brigades of light cavalry of

1807.]

THE FREEMASON'S SIGN A PROTECTION.

37

Pajol, Bruyères, and Durosnet, under General Lasalle, and the heavy horse under Nansouty. In these engagements the Russians lost many men, but the Grand-Duke of Berg succeeded in establishing his head-quarters at Guttstadt at 8 on the same night, and Bagration entered the entrenched camp, where he found Gortschakow had arrived before him. On the left, Platow, who had also crossed the Alle, covering the retreat of the army, with characteristic coolness dismounted from his horse, and led his Cossacks forward on foot, in order to inspire them with confidence; and he so deceived his pursuers by the successive marches and countermarches of detachments, that he received no serious molestation.

An anecdote is recorded of a French officer, who was taken prisoner in this retreat by the Cossacks, having saved his life by giving the freemason's sign. This is known to have happened very frequently in war, and even, when it has not had an advantage to that extent, it has often been known to have obtained better treatment for soldiers in captivity.

13. BATTLE OF HEILSBERG. Napoleon had now an opportunity of evincing one of his most characteristic qualities. He knew that Austria was desirous of turning against him, and he therefore resolved to strike sharp and strong when the chances of the campaign appeared to be turning in his favour. He had, besides, two objects to attain : first, to drive the Russians out of their camp at Heilsberg; and secondly, to get possession of Königsberg, rich in supplies for his army, the last shred of the Prussian kingdom, and the only remaining depôt of Prussian commerce. Benningsen had withdrawn his whole army within their redoubts, on the right bank of the Alle. Napoleon hesitated, however, whether to follow the Russians to their strong camp; or, by marching up the right bank of the Alle, to Bishopstein and Bartenstein, to turn it by its left, and to cast the enemy upon the shores of the Baltic; or, on the other side, to risk a movement for turning their right, by marching a strong force of 50,000 men, between them and the sea, while with his principal force he attacked the entrenched camp. In the end he resolved on this latter expedient, and set his army in motion along the left bank of the Alle, on the 10th. The town of Heilsberg is situated in a remarkable bend of the river, surrounded with heights on both banks, on which'numberless redoubts had been constructed ; and four bridges, within range of their fire, effected a ready communication between the camps on the two sides of the river. That on the right bank was now occupied by the Russian Imperial Guard, and the division of Bagration, under the command of the Grand-Duke Constantine. The remainder of the army occupied two lines on the opposite bank; the first deployed, and the second in column, both under the protection of three strong redoubts, well armed with guns, 205 squadrons of cavalry, as well Russian as Prussian, were formed en potence, on the extreme right. Kamenskoi was placed in command of the right, and Gortschakow in the centre of this

38

ASSAULT OF THE PRINCIPAL RUSSIAN REDOUBT. [A.D.

position. The woods along the entire front and both flanks were filled with riflemen, and the Cossacks extended their observation all around. The Russian advanced-guard was called in from Launau and other villages, and massed in the defile of Bevernicken, through which the road to Heilsberg leads from the side of the Alle, on which the French advanced. This post, at the moment of attack, was strengthened by some troops from the right camp, accompanied by Prince Bagration, who took the command of the defile. A strong cavalry force, under General Uwarow, was also placed under his command.

Upon the first approach of the force under the Grand-Duke of Berg, at 7 in the evening, the Russian divisions of Barasdin and Lvow were withdrawn across the defile, and placed in position for its defence, and a strong battery on a hill running down to the Alle crushed the French infantry as they debouched to the attack. Soult immediately ordered General Dulahoy to place 36 guns in battery on his side of the pass, which soon silenced the Russian battery, and covered the deployment of the division of General Carra St. Cyr, as it advanced to the attack. The division of General Legrand was directed to move on the left, upon the village of Lawden, to favour this operation. The cavalry of Murat, proceeding in its course to the village of Langviese, with the same object, came suddenly upon Uwarow's horse, and charged them; nevertheless they broke and fled, until the light brigade of Guyot met them and turned them back. During this time Soult, with the divisions St. Cyr and St. Hilaire, drove back Bagration across a small stream which intersected the road leading to the town, and followed them under the very guns of the entrenched camp. Legrand was attacked at Lawden by the Russian cavalry, but, at the very “ nick of time,” General Savary, to whom Napoleon had intrusted a brigade of the fusiliers of the Guard, with 12 guns, arrived to his support, and a serious contest ensued, in which the General of Brigade, Roussel, was killed. A reinforcement from St. Hilaire's division enabled the French, nevertheless, to occupy and hold the wood of Lawden. Bagration retired in good order, along the high road, before these reiterated attacks of Soult, covering his retreat by Uwarow's cavalry, who lost their General, Koschen, in the conflict; and now crossing the river by the bridge of Amt-Hielberg, he formed up, and rested his troops in the Grand-Duke's camp..

General Legrand, under the cover of the wood on his left, now assaulted the principal Russian redoubt, and carried it with the leading regiment under Colonel Pouget; but Benningsen brought up the regiment of Kalonga, under General Warnech, and drove out the French regiment. Another regiment, under Colonel Perrier, arrived in support, but was also driven back with the loss of their Colonel, and the two Chefs de Bataillon, Chastener and Robillard, were wounded. The Russian cavalry, in reserve, coming up however at the moment, fell upon both flanks of the divisions of Legrand and St. Hilaire, and drove them back over the open ground, with the loss of an Eagle. Marshal Soult, now assuming the command,

1807.]

BENNINGSEN'S ARMY RETIRES.

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ordered the division to form square, checkerwise, and many a saddle was emptied by the cross fire. The French were thus enabled to hold their ground till nightfall, when the reserve, under Ney and Lannes, together with the Emperor himself, arrived on the field. A fresh endeavour to carry the redoubts was now made, but all the attempts of General Verdier to get into the Russian entrenchments failed, and the Emperor ordered the troops, at 9 at night, to bivouac on the heights behind the village of Lawden.

The contest had been sternly disputed, and the loss, on both sides, was very considerable, not only in rank and file, but in officers and generals. Fifteen generals, French and Russian, were among the killed and wounded, and no less than 250 inferior officers were among the former, in Marshal Soult's corps alone. The night was passed by both armies on the field, and the next morning was occupied, on each side, by the sad duties required by the killed and wounded, which are said to have amounted to 18,000 men. General Benningsen bivouacked in his cloak in the camp, for he had received information of a movement of the enemy on Landsberg and Eylau. A vigorous general would, probably, have immediately marched against this rather rash operation of Napoleon's, and crushed the columns in the corner, between the Lower Pregel and the sea, but Benningsen had the especial infirmity of trembling for his communications, and, as soon as he was informed that Marshal Davoust was marching on his right flank towards Königsberg, he, notwithstanding his success, commenced preparations for a retreat, on the afternoon of the 11th. Accordingly, sending his cavalry forward to disturb the enemy, and opening his batteries on the division of St. Cyr, which was immediately within reach, he quietly withdrew the troops, under the Grand-Duke Constantine, from the town of Heilsberg, and ordered them to march away along the right bank of the river on Friedland, by Bartenstein. So that by nightfall, the entrenched camp was entirely evacuated, all the divisions were brought across the river, the bridges were set on fire, and by daybreak on the 12th, the whole Russian army was in full march by the same road. As soon as Napoleon discovered this, he moved his entire army along the left bank of the river towards Landsberg and Preuss-Eylau, while he himself entered and took possession of the camp at Heilsberg, where he found considerable magazines. The Imperial head-quarters were established on the battle-field of PreussEylau. The allied sovereigns rested at Tilsit during the action of the 10th, and, as soon as the battle terminated, the Grand-Duke repaired there to report the issue to the Czar.

General Victor, immediately he heard of the battle, debouched across the bridge of Spanden upon Möhlsach, and Lestocq fell back along the Frisch-Haff into the capital of East Prussia. Kamenskoi was also directed by Benningsen to march upon Königsberg, but, on reaching Mühlhausen, he found the troops of Davoust there before him; he, nevertheless, succeeded in reaching the object of his destination by making a détour. When, on the 13th, the Russian army reached Schippenbeil, Benningsen heard that some of the 40

RUSSIAN HEAD-QUARTERS AT FRIEDLAND.

[A.D.

French troops were already approaching Domnau, and, therefore, between the Russian army and Königsberg.

14. BATTLE OF FRIEDLAND. On the night of the 13th, therefore, he hastened to place his headquarters at Friedland. General Kollogribow was already in position there with 33 squadrons and 18 guns, and, having secured the bridges over the Alle, had pushed forward to the occupation of Posthenen and Heinrichsdorf, on the high roads to Königsberg and Domnau. A regiment of French cavalry, expedited by Marshal Lannes, venturing to reconnoitre this force, were instantly charged and driven back, so that they only gained the village of Georgenau with difficulty. The Russian army arrived during the night of the 13th14th in successive detachments, which, crossing the Alle, took up their position on the high ground above the river, which here flows between steep and narrow banks. When it was reported to Benningsen that the French troops had been driven back by his outposts, from the side of Domnau, he conceived the idea that there could not be on that road more of the enemy than the single corps of Marshal Lannes; and, therefore, quickly resolved to attack it, in the hopes of thus destroying, in detail, the scattered troops of Napoleon, and forcing his way to Königsberg.

During the midsummer months there is scarcely any night in these northern latitudes, and, accordingly, the arrival of the Russians in position, in the midst of the night, and their readiness to go forward at once to an attack, without resting (which would appear scarcely credible without this consideration), may, in some measure, account for the vigour of Benningsen's resolve, and the execution of his scheme at 2 in the morning of the 14th. No sooner, however, was the Russian advance descried by the videttes of Lannes' corps, than his entire force of 12,000 infantry and 3000 horse were formed up to receive the attack. The single Russian division, which had, at first, been passed over, being, therefore, found insufficient against such numbers, other troops were sent across the Alle, and three pontoon bridges were hastily constructed to facilitate their passage, so that the attack be. came threatening. Napoleon was at Domnau, ten miles distant from Friedland, but, immediately he heard from Lannes that he was attacked, he came to the front, and, observing the continual passing of troops across the bridges, he forthwith ordered up Mortier to the support of Lannes, and directed his guard, and all the troops within reach, to march in the direction of Friedland. The experienced Captain saw with astonishing quickness the advantage which he thought he could derive from the indiscretion of his adversary, in quitting the ridge position above the Alle, to give battle with the river in his rear, and immediately sat down to write a remarkable letter to the Grand-Duke of Berg, to the effect that his troops having, as the Emperor hoped, already taken possession of Königsberg, he was to leave Soult and Davoust for the defence of that town, and hasten with all his cavalry up the

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