Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Sunday, 26 July 2020
National map showing campaign areas
There are three campaign areas in Germany
North – 1st French Army v Prussian Army
Centre – 2nd French Army v Russian Army
South – 3rd Bavarian Army v Austrian Army
Regional map showing initial concentration areas
Each campaign area consists of three military regions
In each area the French occupy the western region, and the allies the eastern one
The centre region is where the 1813 campaign will be fought
Although Austria, Prussia and Russia have agreed a general operational plan, they have not agreed on a single Commander in Chief to coordinate the three allied armies.
The ultimate aim is to drive the French out of Germany and invade France. However it is accepted that the invasion of France is unlikely to take place until 1814.
When they met in early January 1813 the five heads of state agreed that they would declare war on France on 1 February.
The main offensive would be in Germany, and the Austrian, Prussian and Russian armies would all march west on the same day. This grand plan did not take into account the difficulty in preparing the three armies for operations.
Prussia had contributed a relatively small army to the invasion of Russian in 1812. This was because France had imposed strict controls on the size of the regular Prussian army. Prussia had tried to overcome this by creating a large reserve army of landwehr who would only serve for one year before returning to civilian life. This gave them a large reserve of trained, but not experienced, military manpower. The regular army did take part in the Russian campaign, but avoided being too heavily involved.
Russia had, of course, suffered massive casualties during 1812. By the end of that year their army was almost as badly damaged as the French Grande Armee. There were large reserves throughout Russia, but it would take some weeks before they reached Germany.
Austria has also sent a small army to support Napoleon in Russia. They also managed to avoid being drawn into the heavy fighting, and suffered relatively light casualties. However Austria had a large empire to control, and their corps and divisions were dispersed over a large area. They would also require some weeks to concentrate sufficient troops and material at Vienna.
The declaration of war was issued on 1 February. But it was followed by two weeks of delay in Germany. Frantic efforts and movements were taking place to train and concentrate the troops of the three nations, but all was quiet on “the western front”
Prussia was the first to take offensive action. On 20 February Blucher crossed the border from Berlin region into Brunswick region. The campaign had finally begun.