seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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The Battle of Löwenburg

napoleons-irish-legionNapoleon‘s Irish Legion fights at the battle of Löwenburg on August 21, 1813. This is the first occasion on which Napoleon is frustrated by the Trachenberg Plan, in which the Allies had agreed not to risk a battle against the Emperor in person (War of Liberation).

On August 14, Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher prematurely crosses the armistice line in Silesia and begins to advance west. After briefly considering a move south to attack the Austrians in Bohemia, Napoleon decides to join his forces on the Bóbr and try and defeat Blücher.

By the evening of August 20 Blücher’s army is on the east bank of the Bóbr, facing Löwenberg (now Lwówek Śląski). On the opposite side of the river Michael Ney (III Corps), Jacques Lauriston (V Corps) and Jacques Macdonald (XI Corps) are spread out between Löwenberg and Bunzlau (modern Bolesławiec), a few miles to the north. Auguste de Marmont (VI Corps) and the Guard are approaching from the west, and Napoleon is at Lauban, where he puts in place attacks for a full scale attack on the following day.

On the following day Napoleon is disappointed. The French capture Löwenberg without any problems and at noon V Corps crosses the Bóbr over the bridges in the town, followed by XI Corps. As they advance toward the heights on the east bank of the river, Blücher retreats. Yorck’s corps is pushed back along the road to Goldberg (Złotoryja, ten miles to the south west of Legnica).

Further to the north III Corps and VI Corps cross the Bóbr at Bolesławiec pushed by General Fabian Gottlieb von der Osten-Sacken‘s Imperial Russian Army.

Napoleon misinterprets this move as demonstrating a lack of confidence amongst the Allied commanders, and that they had assumed the French would retreat without risking a battle so far east. Instead it is part of a deliberate Allied plan – no individual Allied army is to risk a battle with the Emperor in person.

On August 22 the French continue to push east, fighting a skirmish between Lauterseifen and Pilgramsdorf. Blücher retreats behind the Kaczawa. However the French pursuit is halted by news from Dresden, where Claude Carra Saint-Cyr finds himself facing a considerable Austrian and Russian attack. As a result, Napoleon decides to return west to deal with the threat to Dresden, leaving Marshal Macdonald in command of a new Army of the Bóbr (III Corps, XI Corps and V Corps).

Over the next few days Napoleon wins the Battle of Dresden (August 26-27, 1813), his most impressive victory of the entire 1813 campaign, but at the same time Macdonald suffers a defeat on the Kaczawa on August 26, 1813, largely negating the results of that victory.

(From: Rickard, J (3 May 2017), Combat of the Bobr or Lowenberg, 21 August 1813 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_bobr.html | Pictured: Foreign regiments in the French Army 1810, painting of 1830 by Alfred de Marbot (1812-1865). In the center, wearing green uniforms, officer and grenadier of the Irish Legion.)