English



9 min

1806 to 1807

War of the Fourth Coalition

by Something Something




The Fourth Coalition fought against Napoleon's French Empire and were defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. The main coalition partners were Prussia and Russia with Saxony, Sweden, and Great Britain also contributing. Excluding Prussia, some members of the coalition had previously been fighting France as part of the Third Coalition, and there was no intervening period of general peace. On 9 October 1806, Prussia joined a renewed coalition, fearing the rise in French power after the defeat of Austria and establishment of the French-sponsored Confederation of the Rhine. Prussia and Russia mobilized for a fresh campaign with Prussia massing troops in Saxony.






  Table of Contents / Timeline



CHAPTER   1

Prologue

1806 Jan 1 -

Berlin, Germany



The Fourth Coalition (1806–1807) of Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, Saxony, and Sweden formed against France within months of the collapse of the previous coalition. Following his triumph at the Battle of Austerlitz and the subsequent demise of the Third Coalition, Napoleon looked forward to achieving a general peace in Europe, especially with his two main remaining antagonists, Britain and Russia. One point of contention was the fate of Hanover, aGerman electorate in personal union with the British monarchy that had been occupied by France since 1803. Dispute over this state would eventually become a casus belli for both Britain and Prussia against France. This issue also dragged Sweden into the war, whose forces had been deployed there as part of the effort to liberate Hanover during the war of the previous coalition. The path to war seemed inevitable after French forces ejected the Swedish troops in April 1806. Another cause was Napoleon's formation in July 1806 of the Confederation of the Rhine out of the various German states which constituted the Rhineland and other parts of western Germany. The formation of the Confederation was the final nail in the coffin of the moribund Holy Roman Empire and subsequently its last Habsburg emperor, Francis II, changed his title to simply Francis I, Emperor of Austria.







CHAPTER   2

Battle of Schleiz

1806 Oct 9 -

Schleiz, Germany



The Battle of Schleiz was fought between a Prussian-Saxon division under Bogislav Friedrich Emanuel von Tauentzien and a part of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte's I Corps under the command of Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon. It was the first clash of the War of the Fourth Coalition. As Emperor Napoleon I of France's Grande Armée advanced north through the Frankenwald (Franconian Forest) it struck the left wing of the armies belonging to the Kingdom of Prussia and the Electorate of Saxony, which were deployed on a long front. Schleiz is located 30 kilometers north of Hof and 145 kilometers southwest of Dresden at the intersection of Routes 2 and 94. At the beginning of the battle, elements of Drouet's division clashed with Tauentzien's outposts. When Tauentzien became aware of the strength of the advancing French forces, he began a tactical withdrawal of his division. Joachim Murat assumed command of the troops and began an aggressive pursuit. A battalion-sized Prussian force to the west was cut off and suffered heavy losses. The Prussians and Saxons retreated north, reaching Auma that evening.

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Battle of Saalfeld


CHAPTER   3

Battle of Saalfeld

1806 Oct 10 -

Saalfeld, Germany



A French force of 12,800 men commanded by Marshal Jean Lannes defeated a Prussian-Saxon force of 8,300 men under Prince Louis Ferdinand. The battle was the second clash in the Prussian Campaign of the War of the Fourth Coalition.

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CHAPTER   4

Battle of Jena–Auerstedt

1806 Oct 14 -

Jena, Germany



The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale, between the forces of Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia. The decisive defeat suffered by the Prussian Army subjugated the Kingdom of Prussia to the French Empire until the Sixth Coalition was formed in 1813.

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CHAPTER   5

Napoleon declares the Continental System

1806 Nov 21 -

Europe



The Continental Blockade or Continental System, was the foreign policy of Napoleon Bonaparte against the United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. As a response to the naval blockade of the French coasts enacted by the British government on 16 May 1806, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree on 21 November 1806, which brought into effect a large-scale embargo against British trade. The embargo was applied intermittently, ending on 11 April 1814 after Napoleon's first abdication. The blockade caused little economic damage to the UK, although British exports to the continent (as a proportion of the UK's total trade) dropped from 55% to 25% between 1802 and 1806.

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CHAPTER   6

Saxony elevated to kingdom

1806 Dec 11 -

Dresden, Germany



Before 1806, Saxony was part of the Holy Roman Empire, a thousand-eventYear-old entity that had become highly decentralised over the centuries. The rulers of the Electorate of Saxony of the House of Wettin had held the title of elector for several centuries. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in August 1806 following the defeat of Emperor Francis II by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz, the electorate was raised to the status of an independent kingdom with the support of the First French Empire, then the dominant power in Central Europe. The last elector of Saxony became King Frederick Augustus I.

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CHAPTER   7

Battle of Czarnowo

1806 Dec 23 -

Czarnowo, Poland



The Battle of Czarnowo on the night of 23–24 December 1806 saw troops of the First French Empire under the eye of Emperor Napoleon I launch an evening assault crossing of the Wkra River against Lieutenant General Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy's defending Russian Empire forces. The attackers, part of Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout's III Corps, succeeded in crossing the Wkra at its mouth and pressed eastward to the village of Czarnowo. After an all-night struggle, the Russian commander withdrew his troops to the east.

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CHAPTER   8

Battle of Golymin

1806 Dec 26 -

Gołymin, Poland



The Battle of Golymin was fought between around 17,000 Russian soldiers with 28 guns under Prince Golitsyn and 38,000 French soldiers under Marshal Murat. The Russian forces disengaged successfully from the superior French forces. The battle took place on the same day as the Battle of Pułtusk. General Golitsyn's successful delaying action, combined with the failure of Soult's corps to pass round the Russian right flank destroyed Napoleon's chance of getting behind the Russian line of retreat and trapping them against the River Narew.

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Battle of Pułtusk 1806


CHAPTER   9

Battle of Pułtusk

1806 Dec 26 -

Pułtusk, Poland



After defeating the Prussian army in the autumn of 1806, Emperor Napoleon entered partitioned Poland to confront the Russian army, which had been preparing to support the Prussians until their sudden defeat. Crossing the River Vistula, the French advance corps took Warsaw on 28 November 1806. The Battle of Pułtusk took place on 26 December 1806 during the War of the Fourth Coalition near Pułtusk, Poland. Despite their strong numerical superiority and artillery, the Russians suffered the French attacks, before retiring the next day having suffered greater losses than the French, disorganizing their army for the rest of the Year.

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CHAPTER   10

Battle of Mohrungen

1807 Jan 25 -

Morąg, Poland



In the Battle of Mohrungen, most of a First French Empire corps under the leadership of Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte fought a strong Russian Empire advance guard led by Major General Yevgeni Ivanovich Markov. The French pushed back the main Russian force, but a cavalry raid on the French supply train caused Bernadotte to call off his attacks. After driving off the cavalry, Bernadotte withdrew and the town was occupied by the army of General Levin August, Count von Bennigsen. After demolishing the army of the Kingdom of Prussia in a whirlwind campaign in October and November 1806, Napoleon's Grande Armée seized Warsaw. After two bitterly fought actions against the Russian army, the French emperor decided to place his troops into winter quarters. However, in wintry weather, the Russian commander moved north into East Prussia and then struck west at Napoleon's left flank. As one of Bennigsen's columns advanced west it encountered forces under Bernadotte. The Russian advance was nearly at an end as Napoleon gathered strength for a powerful counterstroke.

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CHAPTER   11

Battle of Allenstein

1807 Feb 3 -

Olsztyn, Poland



While the Battle of Allenstein resulted in a French field victory and allowed for a successful pursuit of the Russian army, it failed to produce the decisive engagement that Napoleon was seeking.

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CHAPTER   12

Battle of Hof

1807 Feb 6 -

Hof, Germany



he combat of Hof (6 February 1807) was a rearguard action fought between the Russian rearguard under Barclay de Tolly and the advancing French during the Russian retreat before the battle of Eylau. Both sides suffered significant losses at Hof. The Russians lost over 2,000 men, two standards and at least five guns (Soult claimed that they had lost 8,000 men). Soult admitted to 2,000 casualties amongst his own men and Murat's cavalry must also have suffered losses in the cavalry fight.

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CHAPTER   13

Battle of Eylau

1807 Feb 7 -

Bagrationovsk, Russia



The Battle of Eylau was a bloody and strategically inconclusive battle between Napoleon's Grande Armée and the Imperial Russian Army under the command of Levin August von Bennigsen. Late in the battle, the Russians received timely reinforcements from a Prussian division of von L'Estocq.

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Battle Of Heilsberg


CHAPTER   14

Battle of Heilsberg

1807 Jun 10 -

Lidzbark Warmiński, Poland



his battle is recognized as having been tactically indecisive due to neither side having gained any significant ground, it is most notably discussed as a battle that yielded little change in the balance of strength between the Russians and the French. By most accounts, this was a successful Russo-Prussian rearguard action. Napoleon never realized he faced the entire army at Heilsberg. Murat and Soult attacked prematurely and at the strongest point in the Russo-Prussian line. The Russians had built extensive fortifications on the right bank of the Alle river, but only a few minor redoubts on the left bank, yet the French advanced over the river to give battle, squandering their advantages and incurring casualties

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CHAPTER   15

Battle of Friedland

1807 Jun 14 -

Pravdinsk, Russia



The Battle of Friedland was a major engagement of the Napoleonic Wars between the armies of the French Empire commanded by Napoleon I and the armies of the Russian Empire led by Count von Bennigsen. Napoleon and the French obtained a decisive victory that routed much of the Russian army, which retreated chaotically over the Alle River by the end of the fighting.

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Danish privateers intercepting an enemy vessel during the Napoleonic Wars, a painting by Christian Mølsted


CHAPTER   16

Gunboat War

1807 Aug 12 -

Denmark



The Gunboat War was a naval conflict between Denmark–Norway and the British during the Napoleonic Wars. The war's name is derived from the Danish tactic of employing small gunboats against the materially superior Royal Navy. In Scandinavia it is seen as the later stage of the English Wars, whose commencement is accounted as the First Battle of Copenhagen in 1801.

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Meeting of the two emperors in a pavilion set up on a raft in the middle of the Neman River.


CHAPTER   17

Epilogue

1807 Sep 1 -

Tilsit, Russia



The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I of France in the town of Tilsit in July 1807 in the aftermath of his victory at Friedland. The first was signed on 7 July, between Emperor Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France, when they met on a raft in the middle of the Neman River. The second was signed with Prussia on 9 July. The treaties were made at the expense of the Prussian king, who had already agreed to a truce on 25 June after the Grande Armée had captured Berlin and pursued him to the easternmost frontier of his realm. In Tilsit, he ceded about half of his pre-war territories.


Key Findings:

  • Napoleon cemented his control of Central Europe
  • Napoleon had created French sister republics, which were formalized and recognized at Tilsit: the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Duchy of Warsaw as a French satellite state and the Free City of Danzig
  • Tilsit also freed French forces for the Peninsular War.
  • Russia becomes an ally of France
  • Prussia looses approximately 50% of her territory
  • Napoleon is able to enforce the Continental System in Europe(with the exception of Portugal)

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References



  • Chandler, David G. (1973). "Chs. 39-54". The Campaigns of Napoleon (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Scribner. ISBN 0-025-23660-1.
  • Chandler, David G. (1993). Jena 1806: Napoleon destroys Prussia. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-855-32285-4.
  • Esposito, Vincent J.; Elting, John R. (1999). A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars (Revised ed.). London: Greenhill Books. pp. 57–83. ISBN 1-85367-346-3.



The End

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