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was the observation of Napoleon. After driving back their enemies the French occupied Lutzen, Ney's corps, of about 50,000 men, encamping in the villages near, of which there were several. Napoleon had no idea that the chief mass of the Russo-Prussians were so near him. He determined to occupy Leipzig on the morrow, and then march to cut off the enemy from the Elbe.
Wittgenstein and the allied monarchs perceived his intention, and resolved to defeat it by attacking at once. Accordingly when on the 2nd of May, the greater part of the French army with Napoleon himself took the road to Leipzig, it no sooner began to thunder at the gates, than Blucher attacked the French corps under Ney, which to the number of 50,000 held the villages before Lutzen. It was some time ere Ney could reach his division at a gallop, a still longer time ere Napoleon could return to the field himself, with his troops from Leipzig. The French had been driven from some of the villages, had lost and retaken others. As reinforcements came up to either side, it proved victorious. And in this alternation of fortune the day wore away. Towards evening the French wings, formed of fresh corps, arrived and threatened to envelop the enemy, whose entire force of 80,000 men had been endeavouring to pierce the French centre. The Prussian cavalry under Blucher swept everything from the plain, but could not dislodge the French from the garden walls and the windows of the villages, whilst 80 French guns swept away whole files of the Prussian horse at each charge and retreat. At last the allied sovereigns abandoned the enterprise and withdrew, leaving to the French the field, and little more. Napoleon had no cavalry to harass the retreat, to intercept battalions or conquer guns. The loss in men was fully equal on both sides, being about 20,000 each. It would be difficult to discover either military science or genius in the battle of Lutzen. Had
CHAP. Napoleon had under his command his old infantry, he XLIII.
would not have confined himself to the defence of gardenwalls and ditches, nor with his old cavalry would he have allowed his enemies to escape unhurt. Such victory did no more than gain a certain amount of territory, leaving the foe neither broken nor dispirited in his retreat. The Russo-Prussians, however, abandoned both Leipzig, Dresden, and the Line of the Elbe, falling back eventually upon Bautzen, where they selected a strong position.*
The entrance of Napoleon into Dresden as the enemies retreated, brought back the Saxon king to his capital. . He had been watching events at Prague, and had hitherto refused to Napoleon some 3,000 cavalry, which served him as his guard. He now returned with them, and was able to inform the French Emperor how likely he was to lose the support of his father-in-law. M. De Bubna at the same time arrived as envoy, to excuse the attitude of neutrality which the Austrian court was assuming as the consequence of that mediatorship, which Napoleon himself had allowed. The Austrian contingent had not only withdrawn from Poland, but brought with it the Polish Legion, which it threatened to disarm. To gain time, and keep Austria still neutral, Napoleon dissimulated his anger, and sanctioned Prince Metternich’s proposing a Congress. But he at the same time sent Caulaincourt to the quarters of the Russian Emperor to endeavour to come to a direct accord with him, and set the Austrians, with their mediation, aside.
Meantime Macdonald, at the head of the French army, found himself in front of the position which the allies had taken behind the Spree at Bautzen. They had taken no precautions by a first line of forts to defend the passage of the river, but had provided an entrenched camp about a league behind, which they were determined to hold in case of the river being forced. Reinforced
* Fain, Norvins, Thiers, Schæll.
by Barclay, who brought 14,000 men after the surrender of Thorn, the allies mustered some 90,000 amidst the hillocks of Bautzen. But Napoleon's force was far superior in numbers, amounting to 130,000.
On the 20th of May, therefore, he found no difficulty in forcing the passage of the Spree river and capturing Bautzen, the Russian general Milaradowitz retreating after a brave but ineffectual attempt to maintain his position on several of the hills. To ensure a victory on the ensuing day, Napoleon despatched no less than 60,000 men under Ney to diverge to the left, and fall upon the enemy's flank and rear in the midst of the action. The battle in front commenced without the allies being aware of the danger that menaced them. They fought bravely, but Napoleon did not press forward, and even fell asleep till aroused by the sound of Ney's cannon in the distance. His advance took Barclay in flank, Blucher in the rear, and Napoleon commanded an onward movement at the same time from the front. The result was a more complete victory than that of Lutzen. Yet it was not achieved without loss. The Prussians and Russians occupied the many hillocks of the field, which the French had to scale, in order to precipitate their enemies. The allies, according to Wilson's account, lost 20,000 men, and the French, though victorious, yet by their attacking first, somewhat more. The loss most severe to Napoleon was that of Duroc, Duke of Frioul, and Grand Master of the Palace. A cannon-ball glanced from a tree near the Emperor and killed first General Kirgener and then Duroc. The battle won, Napoleon sat on a stool before his tent, his head on his knees, overwhelmed with sadness. To the officer who came for orders he replied— Tout à demain. Leave everything for to-morrow.
The mission of Caulaincourt to the Emperor of Russia, previous to the affair of Bautzen, had merely displayed the Czar's resolve to listen to no separate overtures. He
had simply referred Caulaincourt to the Austrian plenipotentiary. The hopes of the allies were centred in Austria, which declined to declare for them till it had tried mediation. These statesmen were convinced that Austria's offer would be rejected by that hardest and least yielding of men, Napoleon, and therefore they consented to an armistice to give Austria full opportunity to try the experiment. The numerical weakness of Russo-Prussian arms was, however, the principal cause.* Napoleon consented to the armistice, which was concluded at Poischwitz, leaving Breslau neutral between the armies. Of all the powers, the one really desirous of immediate peace, was Austria. Russia and Prussia, who were receiving their 5,000,0001. sterling from England, † merely wanted time to employ them, to strengthen their armies and bring up reserves. Wellington had just routed the French armies at Vittoria, and liberated Spain. They hoped to do as much by Germany. Napoleon entertained views equally warlike, and expected to double his forces, and especially augment his cavalry, in which his army was weak, during the armistice. In consequence of the suspension of hostilities, Prince Metternich himself came to Dresden, in order to communicate personally with Napoleon.
In this critical interview, the French Emperor showed himself more actuated by hurt pride than by any rational policy. He was ready to give up Spain to England, Poland to Russia, Illyria to Austria; but he could not stomach the restoration of Prussia to its pristine importance. And for this cause he would not yield either the Hanseatic towns or the Confederation of the Rhine. It is almost incredible that Napoleon, for the sake of Hamburg, Lubeck, and Frankfort, should have
Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart to 14th and 15th of June, with EngLord Castlereagh, June 28, 1813. land, by which they obtained sub
† Russia and Prussia concluded sidies, and stipulated not to make Treaties at Reichenbach on the peace without England.
risked the loss of the friendship and alliance of Austria. And it may be pleaded for him, that yielding up these, he necessarily gave up Westphalia also and Germany. Perhaps, indeed, this was but too apparent in the famous conversation, for the nature and particulars of which M. Thiers was indebted to Prince Metternich's own relation. It was, however, not so much the conditions of the peace, as the evidence that they were imposed on him, that displeased Napoleon. He had beaten Russia and Prussia, and he hoped to beat Russia, Prussia, and Austria in the field. This hope amounted to conviction, and indeed sufficed to baffle all the Austrian endeavours for an accommodation. Caulaincourt, as well as Narbonne, went as French negotiators to the Congress of Prague; but they were instructed to higgle about forms, and chicane, not negotiate. And Austria, perceiving a rupture inevitable, came to conditional terms with the allies, was informed of their military plans, joined in them, and agreed to accept a subsidy from England to enable her to take immediate part in the war. All this was no doubt conditional upon Napoleon's persisting in the refusal of the Austrian terms. At the last hour, or rather past it, Caulaincourt received
powers and instructions to yield the greater part of Metternich's demands. But Metternich, as the armistice expired, converted at once his contingent convention into a permanent alliance. Austria was thus no longer in a position to impose any condition, and her new allies refused the offers of Caulaincourt.
It is admitted, that what most influenced Austria at this time to hold firm against Napoleon, and the Emperor of Russia to break up the Congress, was the account received of Wellington's victories. The failure and retreat of Massena from the lines of Torres Vedras,
The German historians deny that Thiers indicates. See Springer, that Metternich insisted on terms Geschichte Esterreich. so favourable to Germany, as those