Sunday, 27 March 2022

Gera Campaign – Day 7

7 May 1813 – Central Germany – Day 7

Both armies are nearing the end of their operational ability

Despite heavy fighting over the past 4 days, neither side has gained an advantage.

It is becoming clear that the French will not be able to achieve their campaign objective of taking Gera


In the north French retreat to Sommerda, Russians regroup at Naumburg

In the centre Russians rally at Jena, French resupply at Weimar

In the south French attack Sulza


Battle of Sulza

To secure the border Marshal Davout orders 6th French army to take Sulza.

A victory would at least secure a foothold in the District of Gera


Both armies start the battle with considerable battle casualties

MacDonald is aware that with such brittle morale he cannot risk heavy casualties

As attacker, this presents a difficult problem.


A depleted 8th French corps will hold the mountainous northern section

He creates a reserve of three infantry and one cavalry brigades

This will form the spearhead of his attack.

15th Vistula corps will support the attack in the south.

He deploys his army out of artillery range of 3rd Russian army

His corps artillery advance into range of the Russian infantry and open fire

The Russian guns reply, but do little damage


The French reserve advance in the centre

The Vistula lancers move forward to threaten the enemy artillery

Russian Cossacks charge the lancers, but lose the melee and rout

A nearby Russian infantry brigade lose their resulting morale test and join the rout

The Russian gunners abandon their guns and take cover in the remaining infantry square


By midday it is clear to Winzingerode that he cannot hope to hold the French

With two infantry and one cavalry brigade in rout he orders the rest of his army to withdraw

One infantry brigade will hold Sulza until nightfall, and will then retreat to join the rest of the army


The Russians have lost 3 infantry and 1 cavalry casualties (1300 men)

The French have suffered no casualties


The outcome of this battle was decided solely on morale

Almost every brigade in both armies had at least 10% casualties from earlier battles

This left them very vulnerable if forced to take a morale test

It also made it very likely that if one brigade were to rout, the supporting brigades might well join them


So the French commander held his infantry and cavalry out of artillery range of the Russian army

He then advanced his artillery to long range of the Russian infantry, who had to hold their ground to protect their guns

His intention was to weaken the infantry with artillery fire, and then attack with infantry and cavalry.

The only reply open to the Russian gunners was to fire on the difficult to hit French gunners


Only one Russian infantry brigade was hit, and it lost its morale and routed

Fortunately their supporting brigades passed their morale test.


The French infantry would now have to advance to take Sulza

This meant moving into range of the Russian gunners

Only the French reserve advanced, the two corps on the flanks held their ground


The Russian infantry brigade which had routed left one of the Russian batteries uncovered.

The Vistula lancers advanced to threaten these guns, and the supporting Cossack brigade counter charged

The Poles won the melee, and routed the Cossacks

A nearby Russian infantry brigade had to test their morale, failed and joined the Cossacks

The Russian gunners had to abandon their guns and seek shelter in a nearby infantry square.


As the result of one cavalry melee the Russian centre was broken, without a single French casualty


The remainder of the Russian army was now seriously outnumbered and withdrew before the French could reach them


However this battle could just as easily have gone the other way


If the Russians infantry square had not broken things would have gone very different

The Vistula lancers could not have charged the Russian infantry

They would have come under artillery fire to get within charge range of the Cossacks

Possibly lost casualties, cavalry melee should have resulted in a draw at best

French infantry would have had to march towards the guns

Would almost certainly have lost at least one infantry brigade

May well have lost more due to failure of morale.


Should have been a Russian victory


Turned out to be a French one



  1. Thistlebarrow,

    I am just catching up after my enforced stay in hospital.

    I enjoyed this latest battle report. It seems to have been a much more close run thing that than result suggests, and that the French enjoyed a luckier day than their opponents.

    All the best,


  2. Hi Bob

    Sorry to hear about your ongoing medical problems. You have had a rough year, coming on top of two years of covid lockdowns.

    The campaign has gone well. It has been the wettest week on record for Spain, so we have been housebound and needed a distraction from looking out the window at the never ending rain. So the campaign has had much more attention than usual.

    We are lucky to have such an absorbing hobby to distract us in these difficult times. I dont know how I would have managed the past two years without my wargaming and hill walking.

    best regards



I have set the settings for comments to come to me before posting so that I will not miss any