30 October 1813

The Napoleonic Guide's Suggested Tours

Retreating from the military disaster at Leipzig, Napoleon Bonaparte found that his ally Bavaria had taken the defeat as an opportunity to change sides and join the Allies.

At Hanau the French emperor's line of retreat was blocked by a combined Bavarian and Austrian force under the command of Bavaria's General Carl Wrede.

Wrede had some 30,000 men and more than 50 guns (17,000 Bavarians and 13,000 Austrians), while Napoleon's force numbered 100,000 troops and 100 cannons.

The fighting occurred at the Kinzig River and Wrede erred badly by splitting his force on each side of the uncrossable waterway. Between them there was only a small bridge over which he could transfer troops.

It did not help the Bavarians that their commander had wasted almost half his artillery ammunition on a needless pounding of Wurzburg and had not resupplied his guns.

Another mistake, which Napoleon immediately took advantage of, was he had positioned too close to a thick wood and the French could advance and remain almost hidden.

Marshal Macdonald led the initial assault on the Bavarian left and he was soon reinforced by Marshal Victor. Together they forced the Bavarians backwards against the river.

With only a single bridge to escape across many hundreds of fleeing many drowned in the river.

Napoleon's victory had cost him some 6000 casualties, while Wrede suffered more than 9000, but the French could now continue their move towards Frankfurt.


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