The Campaign of 1806
By July the 3rd Corps still had not yet crossed the Rhine into France when the Tsar of Russia refused to ratify the Treaty of Pressberg and the King of Prussia made preparations for war. Messages went out to all the units of the Grand Army to prepare for another campaign.
In September Davout’s Corps were encamped in the Principalities of Oettingen, Hohenlohe and in the Kingdom of Wurtemberg and the Grand Duchy of Baden. Gudin’s headquarters were at Oettingen.
The King of Prussia moved his forces into Saxony to force the Dresden Cabinet to enter into an offensive and defensive alliance against Napoleon with Prussia. The feeling all round northern Germany and in Berlin was that war with France and Prussia was now inevitable, as all of the latter power’s forces advanced on the River Main.
The Emperor left St Cloud on the 25th September and placed himself in the midst of his army where they had spent the winter and spring months in camps that were set up after Austerlitz. He assembled his army in the circle of hills in Wurzburg and on the Saxon frontier. He took care against the possibility of a sudden Prussian attack around Aniberg.
Under Napoleon’s instructions Davout assembled his corps at Oettingen and then on the 2nd September 1806 he placed them at Bamberg, Gudin’s division arriving at Ellwangen on the 26th. The 21eme still comprising the same part of the corps was augmented by its 3rd and 4th battalions on the 28th bringing the Regiment up to a strength of 2274 men led by Colonel Decouz.
Arriving at Bamberg on 2nd October Davout issued Napoleon’s proclamation to the army, in summary it told of Prussia’s provocation, its invasion of Saxony, a state whose capital, Dresden, celebrations to receive the Grand Army were in hand. Davout later told the Corps that each general, officer, and soldier should consider the coming campaign as an affair of honour, a duel, which the Prussian army had caused due to its jealousy of the victories gained by the Grand Army. He further said, “The Prussians reckon on their cavalry beating us, well good, let us repeat our forming square, it is your squares that will cause them (the Prussians) to lose their cavalry’s fine reputation.” Words which events were subsequently to bear out.
At this time the corps depot was at Kronach, the corps was to set the pace of the campaign.
On the 7th October the 3rd Corps set out to cross the Bavarian-Saxon frontier and into the enemy’s territory. Gudin’s division traversed Bamberg and camped at Staffestein and Ebersfeld. On the 8th they bivouacked in the gorge at Rodach near Holsteins. Several detachments were sent out amongst them a battalion of the 21eme who were given orders to find and bring in horses for the use of the divisional artillery, for which there was a great need.
On the 9th they took Ebersdorf road and camped on the high ground above Neudorf. The division remained there on the rising ground behind Scheiz between the Swalberg and Hoff roads in order to allow the safe passage of Duroc Grand Marshal of the Palace. On this day, 10th October 1806 they heard heavy firing in the direction of Saalfeld where Lannes fought a successful action against the Prussian advance guard led by the Prince of Hohenlohe, Louis.
On the 11th Gudin passed Auma and halted on the high ground behind Mitt-Polnitz. They then entered Auma during the night of the 11th-12th, the Emperor guessing the main enemy force being in the direction of Erfurth. Davout was then ordered to march on Naumburg whilst the Duke of Montebello (Lannes), with the 5th Corps would march on Jena.
On the 12th just as the corps was getting underway all the leaders harangued their troops with a proclamation by Davout in which he stated the Emperor, by his brilliant manoeuvre was going to put the enemy in the same position that the Austrians were in at Ulm the year before. Moreover the 3rd Corps was to be honoured by serving the first blow. Immediately the troops got underway to great cries of Vive l’Empereur!
Whilst the 3rd division was on its way to Naumburg, the Emperor who had spent the previous night at Auma, came across them while he was moving on Gera. The division rendered the traditional military honours to thie sovereign, and continued their march in tight column in expectancy of meeting the enemy. That evening they halted at Rachtz at 9pm not being able to reach Naumburg in one march.
On the 13th they resumed their march at 4am and arrived at the Nevfieming Heights near Naumburg in a short time. About the same time the Duke of Montebello (Marshal Lannes) was on the high ground in front of Jena, also present in great numbers were the enemy.
On the night of the 13th-14th Davout assembled at his headquarters at Naumburg the commanders of each arm in the 3rd Corps, and his divisional generals in order that his instructions could be given to them. These instructions conformed with those given to Davout by the Emperor that same evening. The orders were dated 6pm 13th October from the heights above Jena. Davout was ordered to move on Apolda to effect his corps arriving on the rear of the Prussians. Davout was given permission to take whatever route he chose as long as he joined battle on the 14th. The Marshal resolved to set out early on the 14th and direct his Corps on Kosen and occupy the defiles there near the River Saale in case the enemy tried to move on Naumburg near that place.
The terrain beyond the Saale is raised and forms, quite a number of little
ravines also a lot of the roads are sunken, and along these are scattered a large
number of villages. Towards the north the plateau has a crest line formed by a
number of low hills, set with some slightly higher and covered with woods. By Rachitz the Saale is not fordable. Moreover the right bank was very steep and covered in trees.
The main road from Nauemburg to Weimar and Eufurth crossed the Saale by a stone bridge at Kosen. on crossing the river the Corps would have to surmount the Hassenhausen Plateau, by negotiating a steep defile. There was no other road by which they could reach Eufurth and they would pass through Auerstadt and Appolda. so in order to achieve Napoleon’s plans the head of the defile would have to be seized in order to secure room for the troops to deploy their front on reaching the plateau.
A t six o’ clock on the morning of the 14 th the Duke of Brunswick began his movement on Nauemburg. Half an hour later General Gudin leading the 3rd corps, crossed the Saale at Kosen with his division supported by the 1st and 25th Chasseurs a Cheval, who raced ahead and seized the defile and dedouched on the plateau. Half an hour before daybreak a thick mist set in which did not allow objects to be distinguished further than a pistol shot. The 25th chasseurs then came upon and skirmished with two squadrons of the enemy’s King (?) cavalry regiment. Davout managed to discern through the gloom that the enemy horse had turned his right wing and was menacing the rear of the 25th chasseurs. As a response he ordered General Petit up to support his cavalry with the 21eme de Ligne, supported by the 12eme de ligne echeloned to their right rear. At the same time Davout brought up ten artillery pieces to counter the brisk artillery fire power. being brought to bear on his movements by the enemy.
Then at that moment the mist began to clear as General Blucher started to arrive on the scene at the head of 25 squadrons of cavalry, and entered the villages of Spielberd and Bunsherau behind the leading French units. Not hesitating for a moment Blucher charged with his forces in a furious attack, but not soon enough the 21eme and 25eme de Ligne formed battalion squares echeloned to the right and the 2 eme(?) formed regimental square with its two battalions. This prompt action beat off Blucher’s initial onslaught and all the while Davout, Gudin and two Generals de Brigade Petit and Gauthier moved from square to square urging on their brave troops. Not at any time did a French square look like being broken and Blucher could merely ride through the gaps between them.
At last after an enormous loss the Prussians lost heart and broke in a disorderly flight and retreated as far away as Eckartsberg, followed by elements of the French cavalry, Blucher himself had a horse shot from under him and was forced to take that of a trumpeter in order to follow his men in an attempt to rally them. Shortly after this Friant’s division arrived on the field and established themselves on the right of the plateau. The enemy general Wartensleben came up with his division and numerous cavalry squadrons and deployed forward of the village of Gemstaedt. His cavalry then launched a series of attacks against Gudin’s regiments. Always displaying stubborn courage Gudin’s men resisted the attacks of the enemy. Made in numbers which ought to have given the Prussians an immense superiority On the right of his division Gudin had posted the 85eme all alone except for the support of 2 eight pound cannons on the height of Hasenhausen.
The 21eme had been defending the village alone, until the arrival of Friant’s division which meant that Gauthier could support them with the 25eme. All alone they had fought with magnificent success against a whole Prussian division under Smettau who was also supported by cavalry. The brigade of the 21eme and 25eme although weakened by losses in the combat continued in their brave defence, and to great effect. While they held the attention of the Prussian, Friant’s division began to turn the enemy line.
About 4pm one of the two Prussian reserve divisions which had come up, found themselves about to be flanked and drew themselves from the line to form a defence in front of Ekartsburg. In this they received the support of a strong battery of guns.
Davout resolved to storm this position and quickly formed a scratch battalion comprised of 400 men taken from the 21eme and the 12eme under the command of General Petit. With these men General Petit was to storm the enemy’s front whilst General Grandeau’s brigade of the 2nd division plus the 3rd would attack the enemy’s right flank, supported by Friant. Despite their artillery support and the good position the Prussians occupied, they could not stop the French onslaught. Without firing a shot Petit’s 400 men stormed up the hill and charged home into, the Prussian’s ranks and through them with the bayonet. Faced by such an audacious and decisively excecuted attack the Prussians broke and hurriedly abandoned their good position. Gudin’s 400 men comprising grenadiers of the 21eme and 12eme were left in triumphant possession of 22 Prussian guns. The enemy was pursued beyond the woods of the chateau of Eckartsburg, where Gudin’s men ( 4 regiments) ceased their advance and wallowed in a memorable victory.
Since half past six that morning they had for more than 9 hours resisted all the attacks of Smettau’s division, which had been supported by an immense number of cavalry, including Blucher’s squadrons.At Auerstadt The 3rd corps suffered losses of 270 officers and 7000 soldiers and N.C.O’s killed or wounded. Gudin’s division alone had suffered about a half of these. Davout always in the thick of the action had received a great number of musket balls which lodged in his clothes. General Petit received a painful bruising. Among the casualties in the 21eme were:- Chef de battalion Grognet; struck in the thigh by a ball, Captains Duchere, Camustat, and Rome; Lieutenants Fernier and Caillebotte; Sous- Lieutenants Lauzier Sergeant Majors Rossy, Jobert, Jaquit, Daniel and Thory; Sergeants Senechal, Moreau Magnin,Froissaid, Fetou, Charborssea, Dieu, and Herel, Corporals Pacaud and Thibert and soldier Cauchie.
General Gudin after visiting and praising the wounded generals and officers cited with distinction in his report Colonel Decouz.and Chef de battalion Vaugrineuse of the 21eme. Captain Duchene was cited in the army bulletin for how he distinguished himself at the head of his company of the 21eme, although receiving a badly bruised left thigh (possibly from a spent ball). He refused to quit the battlefield until the end of the battle.
Sergeant Senechal had commanded a peloton of 25 Tirailleurs and although vastly inferior in numbers had forced an entire battalion of Prussians to lay down their arms. Corporal of Voltigeurs Boutloup, accompanied by six voltigeurs were involved in the fighting around Eckartsburg. Here they attacked and destroyed a number of Prussian artillerymen serving their piece. Boutloup then turned it on the Prussian troops in Eckartsburg, and kept up a withering fire on them for nearly half an hour.
The Prussians badly beaten at Jena and Auerstadt set off in full retreat for Weimar, however the French were already moving to occupy that town themselves, thus forcing the Prussians to flee in other directions. Many of the fugitives made their way along the hjghway to the town of Erfurth, where two days later some 14000 Prussians were forced to capitulate.
The evening following the battle of Auerstadt the 3rd corps bivouacked on the field near Eckartsburg. On the following day Gudin’s division held the same position a little forward of the battlefield in order to cut off any Prussians who might attempt to effect a retreat towards Kosen or Naumburg.
The 3rd corps were to receive worthy praise for their good conduct on the 14th October and from the Emperor himself as he proclaimed to Davout:-“My satisfaction with your whole corps and to your generals, they have secured for ever their right to my esteem and gratitude”.
On October 16th Gudin’s division recrossed the Saale at Kosen and moved so as to take up a position on the Wetanbach stream, and to occupy Shonburg on the Leipzig road. On the 18th they passed through Leipzig and took up a position behind the Duben river. Then on the 20th by forced march they crossed the Elbe by the bridge at Wittemberg. The emperor had promised to 3rd corps the honour of being first into Berlin as a gesture of gratitude for their conduct on the 14th.
So it was that on crossing the Elbe at Wittemberg a great cry of Berlin! Berlin! went up from the entire 3rd Corps of the Grande Armee. On October 21st the 3rd division stayed in Prata the lovely suburb of Wittemberg on the eastern side of the Elbe. On the 22nd they resumed their march on Berlin. By 10am on the 25th Marshal Davout at the head of his Corps was within cannon shot of Berlin.
The inhabitants of that place came out to him with the keys to the city. However, they insisted that they would in no way pay homage to the Emperor. At their head Davout led his entire corps through the Prussian capital in the midst of an immense throng of people. The citizens of Berlin were amazed to see the French soldiers in good order and fine dress on that account of their almost non stop march all the way from the southern extremity of Germany. The corps set up camp in a part of the city indicated to them by the Emperor, which furnished ample supplies of forage and their requirements for setting up bivouacs.
The Emperor arrived in Berlin on the 26th and on the 28th reviewed the whole of the 3rd Corps on the plain of Biesdorf. He called for all the generals and officers, ncos of the corps to draw up about him in this having been done, said to them.
“ Generals, Officers and non commissioned officers of my 3rd Corps, I desire to have you collected around me so I could show my satisfaction with your fine conduct and behaviour in the battle on the 14th. I lost brave men that day, I regret their loss as if they were my own children. But after all they died on the field of honour like true soldiers. You have rendered a remarkable service and with striking results. Your conduct was especially brilliant due to your long voyage. Speak to your soldiers of my satisfaction with their courage. Generals, Officers and ncos you have secured forever the right to my gratitude and favour.” The marshal responded to his majesty on behalf of 3rd corps saying “They would always be worthy of their sovereign’s trust and that they were to the Emperor what the 10th legion were to Caesar”.
The Emperor awarded 500 decorations to 3rd Corps as a recognition of his satisfaction. One half were distributed amongst the officers and the rest went to n.c.o’s and the men of the 3rd Corps’ regiments.
On 30th of October the 3rd Corps were on march to Frankfurt on the Oder by daybreak. General Gudin and his 3rd Division on reaching the Oder was to make for the Fortress of Kustrin. They camped the night of the 30th at Munchelberg, and on the 31st the Division crossed the Oder at Seelow and approached the fortress.
About 8.00 o’clock in the evening, Captain Duchene of the 21eme de Ligne carried a flag of truce to the governor of the fortress, a veteran of the Seven Years war. Captain Duchene called on the governor to cease the firing upon the French troops, threatening that if the firing continued the French would reduce the place to ashes after which negotiations further took place and these resulted in the governor ordering a cessation of the garrison fire.
The next day Gudin received orders to take his division to Frankfurt and in preparation to do this positioned himself with his first brigade, that of General Gauthier, but General Petit with the 21eme was to remain behind before following the Division. When a demand was issued to the enemy garrison, the Governor consented to this, being that he should give up the place if no relief were to reach him within the next few days. After the Governor consented General Petit then demanded that the garrison must lay down its arms within two hours, threatening to make use of 80 mortars already drawn up in a battery. General Petit addressed Colonel Duplein of the 85eme who had just arrived with four companies feigning to have just escorted a column of artillery He said, “Although you have orders to take you further please remain to bear out my threat to crush the place. Suspend the execution of your orders.”
Then Petit sent back a Prussian Officer and demanded that the Governor should come to treat with him directly. The officer returned and he was accompanied by the Govenor very shortly after.
The surrender of Kustrin was immediately carried out and General Petit himself entered the fortress, followed by a company belonging to the 21eme. The garrison, some 3,000 strong put up a brief struggle in the fortresses place of arms but soon laid down their arms. They were immediately transported to an island on the Oder and guarded there by some soldiers of the 21eme de Ligne
The well fortified town of Kustrin contained provisions and munitions in abundance. 90 pieces of artillery were mounted on the town ramparts and another 400 were held in the arsenal. The Governor of the place had been forced to surrender without a siege by the pleading of the town’s bourgeoisie and by the awesome nature of the victories and rapid marches that the Grande Armee had achieved in such a short time.
Eventually it was General Gauthier and the 85eme de Ligne that were left in Kustrin, while the remainder of Gudin’s division rejoined the 3rd Corps and Davout who were waiting for them at Frankfurt. It was on the 2nd November that the 21eme rejoined the 3rd Corps. Now that the Emperor had his best troops the Grande Armee was ready to advance into Poland and free her from Russian domination.
The 12th and the 21st, having arrived at Frankfurt on 2nd November stayed there until the 6th. On the 7th, the whole army marched on Posen. General Gudin,who dislocated his wrist on the 3rd of November, was not able to take part in operations until later; the command of the division was given to General Daulranne. Petit’s brigade occupied Zielentzig, and on the 8th found itself at Bentschen. On the 9th, it arrived at Pinne.
The magistrates and inhabitants of Posen gathered the same day outside the gates of the town, in order to form a procession in front of Marshal Davout. You could judge, by the reception given to the French, that the spirit of this people was still suppressed by their fear of Prussian domination, but that they were only waiting for the opportunity to shake off the yoke. The 3rd Division was completely united at Posen on the l0th, and stayed there until the 15th. The arrival of the 3rd Corps in Poland was like a signal for insurrection by all the Poles against Prussian domination.
On the l6th, the whole army marched on Warsaw. On the 28th, the division cantoned at Sochozew 10 leagues from Warsaw, and on the 30th it installed itself behind and close to that town; Petit’s brigade did not make its entry till 4th December, and stayed there till the 6th; on the 7th it crossed the Vistula and established itself in the suburb of Proga. The Marshal had proceeded to the Narew; the 3rd Division was directed there, and on the l0th it crossed it at Okunin. The French, in order to protect the construction of the bridge which they had been obliged to throw across this river, had left on the right bank a bridgehead whose defence was confided to Gauthier’s 2nd Brigade of the division; the 21st was sent to re-enforce this brigade. On the right of the peninsula where they had made the bridgehead is a triangular island, partly covered with trees; it was crossed by a marshy channel, and the Russians, moving onto the other part of the island beyond the channel, annoyed by their fire the soldiers who were working on the bridgehead. General Petit was ordered to make himself master of the island; he executed so well the order that he had received, that the Russians were driven off the next day at dawn.
Combat of Czarnowa, 24th December. On the 23rd the Emperor gave the order to Marshal Davout to throw another bridge across the Ukra, in order to move onto the left bank of this river and cross with half of his army corps. The enemy was at Nasielsk and in front. of this town, by the side of Czarnowo. Morand’s lst Division had to move on Czarowa, to attack the left of the Russian camp, while General Petit had to, after having crossed the river at the same point, climb the left bank and take the entrenchments on the Russian right facing Pomichowo. The Emperor ordered to set alight all along the river, near Pomichowo, a great quantity of damp straw, and take care to maintain a great cloud of smoke. Each voltigeur was in consequence provided with a bale of straw, to which he set fire, as soon as the artillery began to make itself heard. The aim was to make a diversion and to give the enemy the suspicion of a passage facing Pomichowo, on the enemy’s right, whereas the real passage was made lower down, near the confluence of the river with the Narrew. .
General Morand was. therefore ordered to attack Czarnowo and General Petit with 400 men of the 12th, had to attack the right of the village. Scarcely had the troops been disposed, than the enemy opened at every point a lively fire, sustained by some pieces of artillery placed on the main street of Czarnowo. This attack was received with firmness. The Marshal reinforced the troops of General Petit with two elite companies of the 21st. Three times the Russians were repelled. At last. at about two o’clock in the morning the enemy tried a fourth frontal attack, throwing out skirmishers on the flanks. The head of a column of cavalry advanced on the main road from Czarowo, seeking to break through the woods, in order to establish itself on the plateau where the entrenchments were. The grenadier companies of the 21st commanded by Captain Rome, found themselves on this road, screened by a company of voltigeurs; they noticed the movement of the enemy, let them approach as close as posstble, and fired a volley which cut up this cavalry. At the same moment, the Russian infantry opened up with a well-directed fusillade; but the soldiers of the 21st. still firm and unshakable in their position and seconded by the artillery on the right bank again forced the enemy to withdraw. A large part of the 21st advanced towards Czarnowo screened by a squadron of Colonel Exelmans’. The Emperor was pleased to make known on the field of battle his satisfaction with General Petit who had endured with success the repeated attacks of the Russians. General Petit, in the account which he gave of this affair cited particularly the good conduct of Captain Camusat of the voltigeurs and Lieutenant Denis.
The 3rd Corps advanced subsequently on Nasielsk attacked in this position were obliged to retreat. and the Russians were obliged to retreat.
Combat of Pultusk, 26th December
On the 25th, at daybreak, the three divisions started off in the direction of Nowemoisto; but during the march, noticing a strong Russian column in position at Kalenszyn, they changed direction at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and the 3rd Division took position at Kowalewice, three-quarters of a league from Styzegocyn. From there they could see on the heights the fires of a Russian line, which were put out at about one o’clock in the morning. Reconnaissance having learnt that the Russian columns were marching on Golymin and Pultusk, the 3rd Division set off on the 26th December, at six o’clock in the morning and was temporarily attached to the 5th Corps, commanded by Marshal Lannes. It was directed to the right of Strzegocyn, by Gonsiorowa, to Kensy, in pursuit of the Russians, who were marching on Pultusk. The thaw had been completed for two days, which, at that season, is rare in Poland; the ground which the army passed over was clayey and marshy, the roads dreadful; horsemen, infantry, artillery could not proceed except with almost insurmountable difficulties, it needed two hours to travel a mere league.
The Third Division had scarcely left the village, when it was warned by its scouts that a corps of cavalry of considerable size was covering the march of a column of artillery and baggage which was stuck in the mud between Kensy and Lady. The general decided to attack; the division, formed by battalions in serried column, marched by echelons, the first along the edge of the wood and the last on the left bank of the stream which passes Grosmesin. There was, in the ranks of the 12th and 21st forming the right wing of the 3rd Division, a moment of disorder which the enemy cavalry tried to profit by, but they were held back by the 85th Line. It was in these circumstances that General Petit gave new proof of the distinguished talents which characterised him. By his firmness and that of all the commanders, order was re-established in the lines, which then had to sustain several cavalry charges; the most vigorous took place at about eight o’clock in the evening, at which moment a terrible thunderstorm made itself heard, and, driven by a violent wind, snow fell in large flakes.
Major Bonnard was wounded in this combat of Pultusk, as well as Sergeant-Majors Sarrobert and Viard, Sergeants Senechal, Blondeau, Moreau, Magnin and Fraissard, Corporals Gasson and Aubry and Privates Baize and Basset.
In the account which General Petit gave to the Marshal. he gave the greatest praise to Colonel Decouz.
Sergeant-Major Crompe, swept along by the ardour of his courage, being skirmishing, found himself surrounded by three Russian grenadiers, who wanted to disarm him; but he refused to surrender, put two of his enemies hors de combat and took the third prisoner.
Sergeant Senechal was cited in the bulletins of the army as having particularly distinguished himself by rallying some fugitives and sustaining with them a charge by some Cossacks.
The division. which had thus supported with such courage the attack which the 5th Army Corps made on Pultusk took position after the battle on the edge of the wood. and bivouacked numb with fatigue, having marched and fought all day, with the mud up to their knees and sometimes further, so that several soldiers, notably the young Laforre, of the 21st, passed the night on the battlefield, without being able to advance or retire a step.
The enemy, who had been beaten again at Galymin by the Grand Duke of Berg, (Murat) had retired to the other side of the Narrew. These two combats put the Russians out of any state to continue the campaign the French army went into field cantonments, and Napoleon believed that he would be given time to give some rest to his troops.
Davout held Pultusk and occupied the surrounding area and a part of the peninsula between the Narrew and the Bug. The 3rd Division placed itself in the rear of the two others at Czarnowa; the army kept the same positions on the 28th. The division left its camp on the 29th and went into cantonments between Nasielsk and Pultusk.
From the 1st to the 27th of January 1807, the army corps was installed on both banks of the Narrew. The division received on the 3rd January as commander General of Division Reille, but, soon called to other duties, he passed the command to General Petit.
On the l5th January, the Emperor gave the order to return to Warsaw; it arrived in this town on the 21st to take a few days of rest. General Petit returned the command to General Gudin, who had not been able to be at the head of his division since 7th December.
The Emperor passed the division in review on the 26th.
On the 27th, operations having to begin again, Davout received the order to assemble his troops at Pultusk and to march on Wartemburg via Miszince. The 3rd Division left Warsaw on 29th January and arrived on the 31st on the outskirts of Przanie.
On lst February it marched on Chorzellen, passed through Willenberg on the 2nd and bivouacked on the road to Ortelsburg.
Battle Of Eylau, 8th February
On the 8th, two hours before daybreak, the three divisions set off on the march; the 2nd Division, Friant’s, marched in front and headed for the left flank of the enemy. The 3rd Division followed the same movement on Serpallen. The battle started at the break of day; Davout, debouching onto the field of battle, attacked with impetuosity the left of the Prussian army, overthrew it and chased it from Serpallen. He pursued the enemy as far the the wood of Klein-Sousgarten, where they retreated in disorder. Meanwhile, the Russians returned to the charge and the combat continued with vivacity. While they were attacking their centre, Davout made progress on their left and succeeded, after one of the liveliest combats in taking the plateau between Auklapen and Kutschnitten.
They rallied the Russians, already shaken, and led them again into combat. They rushed with fury on the 51st and 108th from the division of Morand and Friant and pushed them back to Klein-Sousegarten. But the rest of Friant’s Division and the 12th, 21st and 25th of Gudin’s Division, placed themselves in front of the village, covered by the whole artillery of the 3rd Corps and opposed an invincible obstinacy to the last effort of the coalition troops. The Marshal rode through the ranks and encouraged the soldiers by telling them, “The cowards will die in Siberia, and the brave men will die here among men of honour”. The 21st, who had participated in the defence of the village of Klein-Sousgarten had to mourn some of their own, among others Lieutenant Leving, who had been killed, and Private David wounded The Russians, fearing to find themselves exposed to the combined efforts of the corps of Marshal Ney and that of Davout, retreated beyond the Pregel. During the night of the 8th and 9th the army bivouacked on the field of battle. The Third Corps stayed there all day on the 9th and was passed by the Emperor in review. :
On the 10th, Gudin’s division marched to Damau with Friant’s Division, halfway between Eylau and Friedland, and sent pickets to occupy Georgenau and Meisterfield. He presented himself there on the 13th with the 12th and 21st line. After some musket shots, he entered the town, from which he chased the enemy, who was pursued beyond the right bank of the Alle, as far as the village of Altenau. The 21st, went back into cantonments, and sent a company to occupy the village of Heinrichsdorf, a league from Friedland, on the road to Konigsberg.
On the 17th February, Napoleon started his movement back to the Vistula, the 3rd division was sent to Bartenstein, and the 21st went to occupy Spittehnen. The next day it was at Maraunen, near Heilsberg and on the 20th it headed with the 3rd division for Gustadt. On arriving at this town on the 21st General Gudin took under his command the 7th Light, come from Augereau’s dissolved 7th Corps. On the 23rd, the division started to enter cantonments; the 21st was camped on the road from Passennheim to Purden, south of Wartemberg, in the villages of Przikop and Lays.
On the 28th February, the division was assembled between Wittigswold and Osterwein, forming thus the first echelon of the army Corps. It stayed in this position till 7th March. On the 9th it was at Osterode and on the 10th it took new cantonments on the Passarge. The 21st was placed at Hohenstein, Wittigswold and Manchengurh, having behind it the 85th.
The division having made a movement on 24th March to return to the Alle the 21st only returned to its cantonments on lst April. All the division went to camp on l6th May at Hohenstein and stayed there till 5th June. Since the beginning of June, the Russians who were in the position where they had been at the end of February left their cantonments to take the field again and on the 5th June their advance guard led by Prince Bagration, attacked the corps of Marshal Ney near Gusstadt.
Davout’s Corps, which had set off on the march the previous day, headed for the flank of Marshal Ney to support him. The 3rd Division did not leave Hohenstein till 6th June, and arrived that evening at Allenstein; on the 7th it marched between Jankowo and Alt-Schonenberg. The enemy had retired on Heilsberg to take up a defensive position. The division arrived at Osterade on the evening of the 8th and on the 9th it had to pass the Passarge. It marched for thirty consecutive hours, crossed the river at Haasenberg, and bivouacked that evening at Ankendorf, one and a half hours from the Alle.
On the 10th June, the division headed for Gusstadt and took position on the heights of the left bank of the Alle, between Gusstadt and Glottau; it stayed there till noon then took position at All-Kirch to unite with the other divisions. During this time, Prince Murat and Marshal Soult fought a battle with the Russians at Heilsberg.
On the 11th, all the Corps of the army, leaving at 3am, were directed towards the left of Heilsberg, on to Grossendorf. The appearance of Davout’s Corps on the heights in rear of the latter village caused the enemy General Bennigsen to retreat towards Bartentein.
On the 12th, the corps was directed on Eylau; the 3rd Division, forming the advance guard, was to take up a position near that town, intercepting the route from Eylau to Bartenstein at Rothenen. It advanced to Jessau, and on the 13th it continued to march to an attack on Konigsberg. Arriving at the heights of Wickboldt, deploying, they advanced in line by columns of battalions, having on its left the cavalry of Murat, Grand Duke of Berg, and to the right the corps of Marshal Soult. It was drawn up in front of the suburb of Konigsburg, which it took with the bayonet.
During this time, Napoleon fought the Russians and Prussians at Friedland (14th June); Davout, who had received the order to return to Friedland, in case the battle should last more than one day, had left Konigsberg making to the right towards Wehlau. Petit’s Brigade (12th and 21st) was only to leave Konigsberg on the 15th, after having been replaced by a brigade of the 4th Corps. The 3rd Corps, being told of the victory at Friedland, and the retreat of the Russians, re-directed its march from Friedland towards Tapiau; the 3rd Division passed by Stuchsberg and Gros-Hohenhaugen.
On the 16th the Division crossed the Pregel on barges and transport boats, going to camp between Tapiau and Moterau.
On the 18th, the Corps, following General Kamensky and Lestocq on the Labiau road, fell upon there rear-guard, overthrowing three squadrons of Schimmelpfen Hussars, the “leading” drummer beating upto Labiau. At 3pm on the 18th, it rejoined the route to Tilsit, having made some one thousand prisoners upto that town.
On the 19th, the Division was established at Paskalwen, having its advance-posts on the banks of the Nieman.
On the 22nd June and armistice was concluded, during which peace was to be negotiated. The 3rd Division moved, on the 27th, to Drangowski, on the route from Tilsit to Konigsberg, one league from Tilsit, the three divisions divisions began to construct barracks and to form a camp. They were re-united on the 28th and had the honour of manoeuvring under Napoleon’s orders, in the presence of the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia.
The building of the barracks were continued with great care and speed, and were completed in three days. There were few resources, but the intelligence and activity of the soldiers made up for the lack. The Sovereigns made a visit to the camps on the 4th July. Peace was signed at Tilsit, on the 8th, between France and Russia, and the next day, the 9th, with Prussia.
The Emperor made numerous promotions and gave awarded many decorations. The 21eme heaped with favours after the Battle of Auerstadt, was once again gloriously rewarded.
The 3rd Corps remained in the camps until the 20th July. It then retreated into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, where the Marshal was named as the commander in chief of all the troops, French and allies. He was to occupy Poland while (the Duchy) was organised. The 21eme went to occupy Thorn, where it was joined by the 4th battalion, formed from detachments of the 8th and 19th Provisional (battalions). During the month of September the 3rd battalion, under the command of Commandant Carpette, was directed to Custrin. In December the 3rd Corps left Poland withdrawing into the Grand Duchy of Posen(?), having its base on the Oder.
At the end of the month of January, 1808, the battalions of the 21eme, occupied, in rotation, the villages and towns of Drossen, Sternberg, Biberreichs, Landsberg, Friedeberg, Zielentsic, and Driezen, all localities situated to the east of Custrin, head-quarters of the division, and close to the banks of the Warthe, a river which flows into the Oder. The 3rd. battalion, which was in Custrin, became part of the division which was formed at Frankfurt, by the order of the Emperor, dated 8th. January 1808, and which had for its goal the re-establishment of order in the territory of Cassel. In the month of August, Napoleon consented to evacuate Prussia, except for three places on the Oder; Glogau, Custrin, and Stettin, which were to be held until the complete accomplishment of the clauses of the Treaty of Tilsit. The troops had to retire into Swedish Pomerania, the Hanseatic towns, Hanover, etc.
The 3rd. Corps was then directed from the Grand Duchy of Posen to Silesia. The 2leme went. in October 1808, to occupy Liegnitz, to the south of Glogau. The 3rd. battalion, under the command of Major Bernard, was sent to Parchwitz and the 4th battalion, under Major Rome, was placed at Jauer. The lst. and 2nd battalions had respectively as commanders Majors Ducrest and Broussard. The battalions kept their positions until the end of October, at which time Napoleon made a new distribution of the troops that he had left in Germany. He took away from them the title La Grande Armee, and substituted that of the Army of the Rhine, the command of which he gave to Marshal Davout, the most capable of his marshals, for the maintenance and discipline of an army. The marshal, with his three former divisions, a new division, that of St. Hilaire, detached from Soult’s Corps, cuirassiers, and Oudinot’s elite division, had to occupy the left bank of the Elbe. The infantry were cantoned in the former Franconian and Saxon provinces of Prussia. All the other troops, having returned to France, had already been sent to Spain. Gudin’s division left Silesia at the end of October, heading for Magdeburg, where it crossed the Elbe, and marched into Hanover. The four battalions of the 21eme which still were part of Petit’s brigade, with the 12th Line and 7th. Light, were cantoned, in December, at Hamelin, on the Weser. In the month of January 1809, the 1st battalion was detached to Artzen, and the 2nd to Hagemhsen. In February, the four battalions were distributed as follows: the 1st at Artzen, the 2nd and 3rd at Ohsen and the 4th at Hamelin. The 5th battalion, forming the depot, was at Juliers.