Book Review:
Jena 1806

By David Chandler

In 1805 Prussia stayed on the sidelines while Austria and Russia were humiliated at Austerlitz.

Then in turn it was politically humbled by an unofficial treaty with France that saw three rich principalities - Neuchatel, Ansbach and Cleves - given over to Napoleon Bonaparte on the promise that it would get Hanover in exchange.

To further rub salt into Prussia's bleeding prestige Napoleon then created the Confederation of the Rhine and even offered Hanover back to Britain as part of peace overtures.

This proved too much for the Prussians who had more than 220,000 troops in its forces and were still living off the glory days of Frederick the Great. Many Prussian nobles wanted war to avenge the insults and even the Queen, Louise, pushed for hostilities.

What followed was a military disaster for the Prussians as Napoleon unleashed a thunderbolt upon them that completely and utterly destroyed their forces within five weeks.

It was a campaign that stunned Europe and the doyen of Napoleonic experts, David Chandler, covers the destruction of Prussia marvelously well in Jena 1806.

As is usual in the Campaign Series from Osprey, Jena 1806 covers the lead-up to war, how the armies were led and organized, battle orders of La Grande Armee and the Prussians and the two major clashes at Jena and Auerstadt.

Jena is pretty well documented historically and my personal opinion is that with the odds very much in his favour Napoleon could have won that without getting out of bed.

Auerstadt, however, is where this chap's interest really lies as Davout's magnificent III Corps, outnumbered by almost three-to-one, put the main Prussian army to flight with a gutsy display of cool courage and outstanding leadership.

Chandler's details of Auerstadt are must-read stuff and any fan of the Iron Marshal should grab this book as you can see just how his superb corps fought its way into the annals of military legend.

Jena 1806 is filled with excellent maps of the campaign and battlefields, as well as portraits of the leading soldiers and images. This is yet another first-class effort from Osprey.

- Richard Moore


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