War of the Sixth Coalition

War resumes: Battle of Dresden
Battle of Dresden ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1813 Aug 26 - Aug 24

War resumes: Battle of Dresden

Dresden, Germany

Following the end of the armistice, Napoleon seemed to have regained the initiative at Dresden (26–27 August 1813), where he inflicted one of the most lop-sided losses of the era on the Prussian-Russian-Austrian forces. On 26 August, the Allies under Prince von Schwarzenberg attacked the French garrison in Dresden. Napoleon arrived on the battlefield in the early hours of 27 August with the Guard and other reinforcements and despite being severely outnumbered having only 135,000 men to the Coalition's 215,000, Napoleon chose to attack the Allies. Napoleon turned the Allied Left Flank, and in skillful use of terrain, pinned it against the flooded Weißeritz River and isolated it from the rest of the Coalition Army. He then gave his famed cavalry commander, and King of Naples, Joachim Murat leave to destroy the surrounded Austrians. The day's torrential rain had dampened gunpowder, rendering the Austrians' muskets and cannon useless against the sabers and lances of Murat's Cuirassiers and Lancers who tore the Austrians to shreds, capturing 15 standards and forcing the balance of three divisions, 13,000 men, to surrender.

The Allies were forced to retreat in some disorder having lost nearly 40,000 men to only 10,000 French. However, Napoleon's forces were also hampered by the weather and unable to close the encirclement the Emperor had planned before the Allies narrowly slipped the noose. So while Napoleon had struck a heavy blow against the Allies, several tactical errors had allowed the Allies to withdraw, thus ruining Napoleon's best chance at ending the war in a single battle. Nonetheless, Napoleon had once again inflicted a heavy loss on the primary Allied Army despite being outnumbered and for some weeks after Dresden Schwarzenberg declined to take offensive action.

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Last Updated: : Thu Aug 04 2022