14 October, 1806

The Napoleonic Guide's Suggested Tours

The battle of Jena began with the chance evening meeting of Marshal Lannes' corps with a Prussian force of 35,000 men under General Friedrich Hohenloe.

Sending for immediate reinforcement, Lannes camped near the enemy positions.

Throughout the night new units moved up until French forces numbered at least 50,000, more men were on the way ensuring Napoleon Bonaparte would have some 90,000 men available.

The initial French move was to push the Prussians into open ground, where the advantage of numbers would be telling, and while the resistance was strong it was eventually achieved.

Hohenloe urgently sent for assistance from Ruchel's nearby 15,000 men and hoped to hold on until they arrived.

Meanwhile, all of the good work done by marshals Augereau and Lannes was almost undone by the impatient Marshal Ney who launched an unauthorised assault in the centre.

Neither side could believe the stupidity of the assault and soon Ney was in danger of being swamped by Prussian cavalry.

Fortunately, for the fiery marshal, Lannes, Bertrand and massed French cavalry intervened before the trap could shut.

At 1pm, Bonaparte ordered a general advance and within two hours the exhausted Prussians gave way, fleeing the field and trying to avoid the sabres of Marshal Murat's horsemen.

Jena cost Bonaparte some 5000 men, but the Prussians had a staggering 25,000 casualties.


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