The Liberation of Germany

1812 to 1815

Recovering from the disaster of the invasion of Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte frenetically rebuilt his army as the Sixth Coalition formed to remove him from power.

The enemy nations began as Britain, Russia, Spain and Portugal, but were joined by Prussia, Austria (unofficially), Sweden and minor German states.

Determined to re-establish his hold over Germany, Bonaparte's new army successfully began his campaign by beating the Russians and Prussians at Lutzen and Bautzen.

This gave him the political strength to force an armistice and earn a breathing space in which he could gather more men to his cause.

Hostilities resumed when Austria officially entered the fray in August and now France found herself up against almost all of Europe once again.

Leading the Allies were Field Marshal Blucher, Austria's Karl Schwarzenberg and Sweden's Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte.

From the outset things were tough for the French with Marshal Oudinot losing the battle of Grossbeeren against Bernadotte.

Bonaparte evened the campaign by besting Schwarzenberg at Dresden, but then followed a series of disastrous reverses.

A battle at Kulm saw a French corps under General Vandamme destroyed, Marshal Macdonald was beaten by Blucher at Katzbach and, at Dennewitz, Bernadotte defeated Marshal Ney.

The deliberate campaign to avoid battle with the emperor and try to defeat his subordinates had worked well for the Allies.

Bonaparte's fate was sealed during the three-day battle for Leipzig, the biggest clash of the Napoleonic Wars, although the sheer bravery of his troops allowed the French army to extricate itself from complete destruction.

Two more allies, Bavaria and Saxony, now switched sides and a Bavarian army was brushed aside at Hanau and the battered French army crossed the Rhine to lick its wounds. It wouldn't get much rest, however, as the invasion of France was imminent.


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