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29 January, 1814

As the Allies advanced on France from three different directions, Napoleon Bonaparte planned to attack and defeat each in turn.

The first battle of the Campaign for France came at Bonaparte's old stomping Brienne, where he went to school.

His first target was the spread-out force of some 25,000 Prussians under Field Marshal Blucher.

To battle his old adversary, Bonaparte had 30,000 troops, but most of these were just out of the recruiting camps and had no wartime experience.

The French emperor began the clash by pinning the enemy down while he organised a flanking attack.

Marshal Grouchy's cavalry and horse artillery kept the Prussians occupied as marshals Ney and Victor secured both the town of Brienne and its chateau.

During the heavy fighting Bonaparte was almost taken by Russian cossacks, and both Blucher and his second-in-command Augustus Gneisenau only just managed to elude French troops.

Withdrawing to reorganise, Blucher left behind some 4000 casualties to France's 3000.



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