Make your own free website on Tripod.com

 

 

  The 1806 Campaign

 

Home

 

Battles

  • 1805 Campaign
  • 1806 Campaign
  • 1807 Campaign
  • The Peninsular War
  • 1809 Campaign
  • 1812 Campaign
  • 1813 Campaign
  • The Waterloo Campaign

    Armies

  • British
  • French
  • Austrian
  • Russian
  • Prussian
  • Situation
     
    By creating the Confederation of the Rhine, Napoleon directly threatened Prussian dominance over the German states. This and Napoleon's offer to hand Hannover back to Britain (earlier offered to Prussia), prompted Prussia to declare war on France in September 1806.
     
    In the aftermath of Frederick the Great's great military victories, Prussia's military reputation was unrivalled. However, this reputation was unfounded. The Prussian army was essentially an 18th Century army steeped in outmoded doctrine and tactics. It also did not have a military genius of the caliber of Frederick the Great.
     
    The French, on the other hand, practised a new form of warfare. One which the old armies of Europe could not stop. To top it off, it had Napoleon at its head - the greatest military leader of the age.
     
    The stage was therefore set for a Prussian defeat - but no one could have predicted the swiftness of that defeat.
     
     
     
    The Battle of Jena 
     
    The Campaign opened on 8 October 1806, with the Grande Armee pouring into Thuringia. By 14 October, Napoleon had placed his army on the left flank of the Prussian army, cutting off 2 Prussian corps at Jena and Auerstaedt.
     
    The battle which followed was a victory for the French, despite 2 major errors by the French early in the battle - first, the French troops were packed shoulder to shoulder before the battle started - an ideal target for artillery (the early morning fog saved them); secondly, Ney was in the wrong place - leaving a huge gap in French the line.
     
    Nevertheless, the French outnumbered the Prussians nearly 3 to 1 - and the Prussians failed to take advantage of the French errors. By 1pm, the battle was "ripe" and Napoleon ordered a general advance. The Prussian line soon crumbled, and were swept off the field by Murat's cavalry.