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23 August 1813

Prussian troops assaulting the churchyard in Grossbeeren.

Map showing troop dispositions before start of battle

Map showing general terrain features. Note the flooded stream immediately to the east of Grossbeeren. Also note the woods just south of Ruhlsdorf and Neubeeren. The battle was fought mainly in the town of Grossbeeren itself and in the area bounded by Ruhlsdorf, Grossbeeren and Neubeeren. Note also the windmill to the west of Grossbeeren.

Background Information: Grossbeeren is just 17km south of Berlin. The N-S road running through Grossbeeren runs right into the heart of Berlin. The French objective was Berlin. The Prussians were therefore fighting to save their capital. The actual battle began at 5pm and lasted til around 10pm.

On hearing fighting, Marshal Oudinot, whose XII Corps was at Ahrensdorf (about 6 km SW of Grossbeeren), sent Fournier's Light Cavalry Division and the 14th Division (Guilleminot) to Grossbeeren to support Reynier's VII Corps. Fournier's Division arrived at 8pm and the 14th arrived half an hour later. Both were too late to make a difference.

Scenario Objective: The French begin the game in control of Grossbeeren town and should deploy in the manner shown in the map above. The French objective is to defend their positions for 5 hours (15 turns using Republique rules). On turn 9, Fournier's Division arrives on the SW board edge. On turn 11, the 14th Division arrives on the SW board edge. The Prussians must take Grossbeeren (tactical victory) and / or force the French to retreat (strategic victory). The French win by preventing the Prussians from achieving their objectives.

Note - the details given below are for use with Republique Grand Tactical rules. Free download from War Times Journal. To convert the order of battle for use with other rules, please note that each infantry and cavalry base equals around 550 men. Each Artillery base represents 2 batteries of roughly 4-6 guns each.

To enhance playability, players have the discretion to merge small infantry units (units consisting 1 or 2 bases) with larger units in the same division/brigade. If light infantry units are merged with line units, increase the number of skirmishers that unit may deploy by the number of light bases added. Players may also merge small cavalry units into larger ones. In accordance with the rules, players may detach cavalry and/or artillery to form reserve cavalry/artillery divisions/brigades.

Prussian Forces

Prussian III Armeekorps - Generalleutnant von Bülow

3rd Brigade (GM Prinz von Hessen-Homburg) Number of Bases
2nd East Prussian Grenadier Bn 2
3rd East Prussian Inf Regt 5
4th Reserve Inf Regt 5
1st Leib Hussars 1
Foot Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
4th Brigade (GM von Thümen) Number of Bases
4th East Prussian Inf Regt 5
5th Reserve Inf Regt 5
Elbe Inf Regt 4
East Prussian Jäger Bn 1
Pomeranian National Cav Regt 1
Foot Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
5th Brigade (GM von Borstell) Number of Bases
Pomeranian Grenadier Bn 2
Pomeranian Inf Regt 5
2nd Reserve Inf Regt 5
2nd Kurmark Landwehr Inf Regt 5
Pommeranian Hussars 1
West Prussian Uhlans 1
Foot Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
6th Brigade (Col von Krafft) Number of Bases
Colberg Inf Regt 5
9th Reserve Inf Regt 5
1st Newmark Landwehr Inf Regt 5
Foot Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
Reserve Cavalry (GM von Oppen) Number of Bases
Combined Dragoon Brigade (Brandenburg, Königin & 2nd West Prussian) 4
2nd Silesian Hussars 1
Combined Landwehr Cav Brigade (2nd Pomeranian, 2nd & 4th Kurmark) 3
Horse Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
Reserve Artillery (Lt Col von Holzendorff) Number of Bases
Foot Artillery Battery (12lb) 1
Foot Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
Russian Foot Artillery (12lb) 1

French Forces

VII Corps - General Count Reynier

24th Division (Saxons under GL Lecoq) Number of Bases
Leib Grenadier Garde + Gren bn von Spiegel 3
Prinz Maximillian Inf Regt 4
Light Inf Regt von Lecoq 2
Prinz Frederick August Inf Regt 4
Foot Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
25th Division (Saxons under GL von Sahr) Number of Bases
Grenadier Bn von Anton 2
Combined Inf Regt (König, von Niesemeuschel) 4
Combined Inf Regt (Prinz Anton, von Low) 4
Foot Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
32nd Division (French under GdD Durutte) Number of Bases
35e + 36e Légére 2
131e Ligne 3
132e Ligne 3
133e Ligne 3
Würzburg Inf Regt 2
Foot Artillery Battery (6lb) 1
26th Light Cavalry Brigade (Saxons under GM von Gablenz) Number of Bases
Hussar Regt 3
Uhlan Regt 2
Horse Artillery Battery (6lb) 1

French Reinforcements - Arrive on the beginning of turn 9 on SW board edge.

Fournier's Light Cavalry Division Number of Bases
Hussar Brigade 3
Chasseur à Cheval Regt 2
Horse Artillery Battery (6lb) 1

French Reinforcements - Arrive on the beginning of turn 11 on SW board edge.

14th Division (GdB Guilleminot) Number of Bases
18e Légére 3
52e Ligne 4
137e Ligne 4
156e Ligne 4
Illyrian Jägers 3


Historical Notes:

The offensive move by Oudinot's Army of Berlin against Berlin was a side show during the Autumn campaign of 1813. The main armies of both the French and the Allies were converging around Dresden.

Although the Berlin offensive was a peripheral action, the potential rewards were great. A French capture of Berlin would cut off the Swedish army in the north and induce Sweden to give up the fight. Control of the area around Berlin would deny the Prussians vital resources and recruiting grounds. Furthermore, the moral effect of Berlin's loss on the Prussian army should not be underestimated.

Oudinot's Army was concentrated around Baruth, 3 marches from Berlin. His army advanced along 3 axes - XII Corps on the left, via Ahrensdorf, VII Corps in the centre, via Grossbeeren, and IV Corps on the right, via Blankenfelde. (Click here for campaign map) Against this onslaught, allied outposts at Trebbin and Munsdorf were forced to retreat. The terrain in this area was cut up by streams, gullies, marshes and woods. As the French were advancing on separate axes, it would not be easy for them to support each other.

At 3pm on 23 August, Reynier's VII Corps captured Grossbeeren and proceeded to bivouac for the day. Reynier's right was secured by the town of Grossbeeren and a stream gully running N-S just east of the town. On the left, which was in open ground, Reynier ordered Lecoq to form a large divisional square protected by a few guns.

Approaching from the north, General von Bülow (commanding III Prussian Army Corps) disobeyed Bernadotte's orders (Sweden's Crown Prince Bernadotte was C-in-C of the Allied Northern Army), and decided to retake Grossbeeren.

The Prussian troops greeted the order to attack with three "hurrahs". The battle opened with an artillery duel at 5pm. The Prussian infantry, standing 300m behind the guns, suffered casualties from the French counter battery fire.

Borstell's Brigade proceeded to attack Grossbeeren from the east. Meanwhile, at around 6pm, Bülow ordered a general assault with fixed bayonets. Krafft's Brigade was ordered to attack Grossbeeren from the north, while Hessen-Homburg attacked the Saxons around the windmill height (in the fields west of Grossbeeren). Exhorting the Colberg Regiment, Bülow is reported to have said "The Russians and Swedes are watching. Berlin is behind you. Don't forget that you are Pomeranians!"

This concentrated attack by 3 Prussian brigades was too much for Sahr's Saxon Division to stand. Falling back in disorder, the retreating Saxons took Durutte's Division (sent by Reynier to reinforce the Saxons), with them. Both Sahr's and Durutte's Divisions took refuge in the woods south of Grossbeeren. An attempt by Lecoq to take the windmill height failed. With 2 divisions in flight, Reynier had no choice but to order a retreat.

Meanwhile, at 8pm, Fournier's Light Cavalry Division appeared on the scene. Half an hour later, Guilleminot's 14th Division arrived. Both had been sent by Oudinot from Ahrensdorf to reinforce Reynier. However, it was too late. The battle had already been lost. Oudinot withdrew his forces and Berlin was saved.

Grossbeeren today. Prussian artillery in action outside Grossbeeren during the 1999 reenactment of the battle. The reenactors are just 200m north of the gentle rise where the windmill used to stand.