Germany Under Napoleon


Napoleon's personal Policy. --The "Rhine-Bund." --French Tyranny.

--Prussia declares War. --Battles of Jena and Auerstaedt. --Napoleon

in Berlin. --Prussia and Russia allied. --Battle of Friedland.

--Interviews of the Sovereigns. --Losses of Prussia. --Kingdom of

Westphalia. --Frederick William III.'s Weakness. --Congress at

Erfurt. --Patriotic Movements. --Revolt of the
yrolese. --Napoleon

marches on Vienna. --Schill's Movement in Prussia. --Battles of

Aspera and Wagram. --The Peace of Vienna. --Fate of Andreas Hofer.

--The Duke of Brunswick's Attempt. --Napoleon's Rule in Germany.

--Secret Resistance in Prussia. --War with Russia. --The March to

Moscow. --The Retreat. --York's Measures. --Rising of Prussia.

--Division of Germany. --Battle of Luetzen. --Napoleon in Dresden.

--The Armistice. --Austria joins the Allies. --Victories of Bluecher

and Buelow. --Napoleon's Hesitation. --The Battle of Leipzig.

--Napoleon's Retreat from Germany. --Cowardice of the allied

Monarchs. --Bluecher crosses the Rhine.

[Sidenote: 1806.]

After the peace of Presburg there was nothing to prevent Napoleon from

carrying out his plan of dividing the greater part of Europe among the

members of his own family, and the Marshals of his armies. He gave the

kingdom of Naples to his brother Joseph; appointed his step-son Eugene

Beauharnais Viceroy of Italy, and married him to the daughter of

Maximilian I. (formerly Elector, now King) of Bavaria; made a Kingdom of

Holland, and gave it to his brother Louis; gave the Duchy of Juelich,

Cleves and Berg to Murat, and married Stephanie Beauharnais, the niece

of the Empress Josephine, to the son of the Grand-Duke of Baden. There

was no longer any thought of disputing his will in any of the smaller

German States: the princes were as submissive as he could have desired,

and the people had been too long powerless to dream of resistance.

[Sidenote: 1806. THE "RHINE-BUND."]

The "Rhine-Bund," therefore, was constructed just as France desired.

Bavaria, Wuertemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt and Nassau united with

twelve small principalities--the whole embracing a population of

thirteen millions--in a Confederation, which accepted Napoleon as

Protector, and agreed to maintain an army of 63,000 men, at the disposal

of France. This arrangement divided the German Empire into three parts,

one of which (Austria) had just been conquered, while another (Prussia)

had lost all its former prestige by its weak and cowardly policy.

Napoleon was now the recognized master of the third portion, the action

of which was regulated by a Diet held at Frankfort. In order to make the

Union simpler and more manageable, all the independent countships and

baronies within its limits were abolished, and the seventeen States were

thus increased by an aggregate territory of about 12,000 square miles.

Bavaria took possession, without more ado, of the free cities of

Nuremberg and Augsburg.

Prussia, by this time, had agreed with Napoleon to give up Anspach and

Bayreuth to Bavaria, and receive Hannover instead. This provoked the

enmity of England, the only remaining nation which was friendly to

Prussia. The French armies were still quartered in Southern Germany,

violating at will not only the laws of the land, but the laws of

nations. A bookseller named Palm, in Nuremberg, who had in his

possession some pamphlets opposing Napoleon's schemes, was seized by

order of the latter, tried by court-martial and shot. This brutal and

despotic act was not resented by the German princes, but it aroused the

slumbering spirit of the people. The Prussians, especially, began to

grow very impatient of their pusillanimous government; but Frederick

William III. did nothing, until in August, 1806, he discovered that

Napoleon was trying to purchase peace with England and Russia by

offering Hannover to the former and Prussian Poland to the latter. Then

he decided for war, at the very time when he was compelled to meet the

victorious power of France alone!

Napoleon, as usual, was on the march before his enemy was even properly

organized. He was already in Franconia, and in a few days stood at the

head of an army of 200,000 men, part of whom were furnished by the

Rhine-Bund. Prussia, assisted only by Saxony and Weimar, had 150,000,

commanded by Prince Hohenlohe and the Duke of Brunswick, who hardly

reached the bases of the Thuringian Mountains when they were met by the

French and hurled back. On the table-land near Jena and Auerstaedt a

double battle was fought on the 14th of October, 1806. In the first

(Jena) Napoleon simply crushed and scattered to the winds the army of

Prince Hohenlohe; in the second (Auerstaedt) Marshal Davoust, after some

heavy fighting, defeated the Duke of Brunswick, who was mortally

wounded. Then followed a season of panic and cowardice which now seems

incredible: the French overwhelmed Prussia, and almost every defence

fell without resistance as they approached. The strong fortress of

Erfurt, with 10,000 men, surrendered the day after the battle of Jena;

the still stronger fortress-city of Magdeburg, with 24,000 men, opened

its gates before a gun was fired! Spandau capitulated as soon as asked,

on the 24th of October, and Davoust entered Berlin the same day. Only

General Bluecher, more than sixty years old, cut his way through the

French with 10,000 men, and for a time gallantly held them at bay in

Luebeck; and the young officers, Gneisenau and Schill, kept the fortress

of Colberg, on the Baltic, where they were steadily besieged until the

war was over.

[Sidenote: 1806.]

When Napoleon entered Berlin in triumph, on the 27th of November, he

found nearly the whole population completely cowed, and ready to

acknowledge his authority; seven Ministers of the Prussian Government

took the oath of allegiance to him, and agreed, at once, to give up all

of the kingdom west of the Elbe for the sake of peace! Frederick William

III., who had fled to Koenigsberg, refused to confirm their action, and

entered into an alliance with Alexander I. of Russia, to continue the

war. Napoleon, meanwhile, had made peace with Saxony, which, after

paying heavy contributions and joining the Rhine-Bund, was raised by him

to the rank of a kingdom. At the same time he encouraged a revolt in

Prussian Poland, got possession of Silesia, and kept Austria neutral by

skilful diplomacy. England had the power, by prompt and energetic

action, of changing the face of affairs, but her government did nothing.

Pressing eastward during the winter, the French army, 140,000 strong,

met the Russians and Prussians on the 8th of February, 1807, in the

murderous battle of Eylau, after which, because its result was

undecided, Napoleon concluded a truce of several months. Frederick

William appointed a new Ministry, with the fearless and patriotic

statesmen, Hardenberg and Stein, who formed a fresh alliance with

Russia, which was soon joined by England and Sweden. Nevertheless, it

was almost impossible to reinforce the Prussian army, and Alexander I.

made no great exertions to increase the Russian, while Napoleon, with

all Prussia in his rear, was constantly receiving fresh troops. Early in

June he resumed hostilities, and on the 14th, with a much superior

force, so completely defeated the Allies in the battle of Friedland,

that they were driven over the river Memel into Russian territory.

[Sidenote: 1807. THE PEACE OF TILSIT.]

The Russians immediately concluded an armistice: Napoleon had an

interview with Alexander I. on a raft in the river Memel, and acquired

such an immediate influence over the enthusiastic, fantastic nature of

the latter, that he became a friend and practically an ally. The next

day, there was another interview, at which Frederick William III. was

also present: the Queen, Louise of Mecklenburg, a woman of noble and

heroic character, whom Napoleon had vilely slandered, was persuaded to

accompany him, but only subjected herself to new humiliation. (She died

in 1810, during Germany's deepest degradation, but her son, William I.,

became German Emperor in 1871.) The Peace of Tilsit was declared on the

9th of July, 1807, according to Napoleon's single will. Hardenberg had

been dismissed from the Prussian Ministry, and Talleyrand gave his

successor a completed document, to be signed without discussion.

Prussia lost very nearly the half of her territory: her population was

diminished from 9,743,000 to 4,938,000. A new "Grand-Duchy of Warsaw"

was formed by Napoleon out of her Polish acquisitions. The contributions

which had been levied and which Prussia was still forced to pay amounted

to a total sum of three hundred million thalers, and she was obliged to

maintain a French army in her diminished territory until the last

farthing should be paid over. Russia, on the other hand, lost nothing,

but received a part of Polish Prussia. A new Kingdom of Westphalia was

formed out of Brunswick, and parts of Prussia and Hannover, and

Napoleon's brother, Jerome, was made king. The latter, whose wife was an

American lady, Miss Patterson of Baltimore, was compelled to renounce

her, and marry the daughter of the new king of Wuertemberg, although, as

a Catholic, he could not do this without a special dispensation from the

Pope, and Pius VII. refused to give one. Thus he became a bigamist,

according to the laws of the Roman Church. Jerome was a weak and

licentious individual, and made himself heartily hated by his two

millions of German subjects during his six years' rule in Cassel.

[Sidenote: 1808.]

Frederick William III. was at last stung by his misfortunes into the

adoption of another and manlier policy. He called Stein to the head of

his Ministry, and allowed the latter to introduce reforms for the

purpose of assisting, strengthening and developing the character of the

people. But 150,000 French troops still fed like locusts upon the

substance of Prussia, and there was an immense amount of poverty and

suffering. The French commanders plundered so outrageously and acted

with such shameless brutality, that even the slow German nature became

heated with a hate so intense that it is not yet wholly extinguished.

But this was not the end of the degradation. Napoleon, at the climax of

his power, having (without exaggeration) the whole Continent of Europe

under his feet, demanded that Prussia should join the Rhine-Bund, reduce

her standing army to 42,000 men, and, in case of necessity, furnish

France with troops against Austria. The temporary courage of the king

dissolved: he signed a treaty on the 8th of September, 1808, without the

knowledge of Stein, granting nearly everything Napoleon claimed,--thus

compelling the patriotic statesman to resign, and making what was left

of Prussia tributary to the designs of France.

At the same time Napoleon held a so-called Congress at Erfurt, at which

all the German rulers (except Austria) were present, but the decisions

were made by himself, with the connivance of Alexander I. of Russia. The

latter received Finland and the Danubian Principalities. Napoleon simply

carried out his own personal policy. He made his brother Joseph king of

Spain, gave Naples to his brother-in-law, Murat, and soon afterwards

annexed the States of the Church, in Italy, to France, abolishing the

temporal sovereignty of the Pope. Every one of the smaller German States

had already joined the Rhine-Bund, and the Diet by which they were

governed abjectly obeyed his will. Princes, nobles, officials, and

authors vied with each other in doing homage to him. Even the battles of

Jena and Friedland were celebrated by popular festivals in the capitals

of the other States: the people of Southern Germany, especially,

rejoiced over the shame and suffering of their brethren in the North.

Ninety German authors dedicated books to Napoleon, and the newspapers

became contemptible in their servile praises of his rule.

[Sidenote: 1809. REVOLT OF THE TYROLESE.]

Austria, always energetic at the wrong time and weak when energy was

necessary, prepared for war, relying on the help of Prussia and possibly

of Russia. Napoleon had been called to Spain, where a part of the

people, supported by Wellington, with an English force, in Portugal, was

making a gallant resistance to the French rule. A few patriotic and

courageous men, all over Germany, began to consult together concerning

the best means for the liberation of the country. The Prussian

Ex-minister, Baron Stein, the philosopher Fichte, the statesman and poet

Arndt, the Generals Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, the historian Niebuhr,

and also the Austrian minister, Count Stadion, used every effort to

increase and extend this movement; but there was no German prince,

except the young Duke of Brunswick, ready or willing to act.

The Tyrolese, who are still the most Austrian of Austrians, and the most

Catholic of Catholics, organized a revolt against the French-Bavarian

rule, early in 1809. This was the first purely popular movement in

Germany, which had occurred since the revolt of the Austrian peasants

against Ferdinand II. nearly two hundred years before. The Tyrolese

leaders were Andreas Hofer, a hunter named Speckbacher and a monk named

Haspinger; their troops were peasants and mountaineers. The plot was so

well organized that the Alps were speedily cleared of the enemy, and on

the 13th of April, Hofer captured Innsbruck, which he held for Austria.

When the French and Bavarian troops entered the mountain-passes, they

were picked off by skilful riflemen or crushed by rocks and trees rolled

down upon them. The daring of the Tyrolese produced a stirring effect

throughout Austria; for the first time, the people came forward as

volunteers, to be enrolled in the army, and the Archduke Karl, in a

short time, had a force of 300,000 men at his disposal.

Napoleon returned from Spain at the first news of the impending war. As

the Rhine-Bund did not dream of disobedience, as Prussia was crippled,

and the sentimental friendship of Alexander I. had not yet grown cold,

he raised an army of 180,000 men and entered Bavaria by the 9th of

April. The Archduke was not prepared: his large force had been divided

and stationed according to a plan which might have been very successful,

if Napoleon had been willing to respect it. He lost three battles in

succession, the last, at Eckmuehl on the 22d of April, obliging him to

give up Ratisbon, and retreat into Bohemia. The second Austrian army,

which had been victorious over the Viceroy Eugene, in Italy, was

instantly recalled, but it was too late: there were only 30,000 men on

the southern bank of the Danube, between the French and Vienna.

[Sidenote: 1809.]

The movement in Tyrol was imitated in Prussia by Major Schill, one of

the defenders of Colberg in 1807. His heroism had given him great

popularity, and he was untiring in his efforts to incite the people to

revolt. The secret association of patriotic men, already referred to,

which was called the Tugendbund, or "League of Virtue," encouraged him

so far as it was able; and when he entered Berlin at the head of four

squadrons of hussars, immediately after the news of Hofer's success, he

was received with such enthusiasm that he imagined the moment had come

for arousing Prussia. Marching out of the city, as if for the usual

cavalry exercise, he addressed his troops in a fiery speech, revealed to

them his plans and inspired them with equal confidence. With his little

band he took Halle, besieged Bernburg, was victorious in a number of

small battles against the increasing forces of the French, but at the

end of a month was compelled to retreat to Stralsund. The city was

stormed, and he fell in resisting the assault; the French captured and

shot twelve of his officers. The fame of his exploits helped to fire the

German heart; the courage of the people returned, and they began to grow

restless and indignant under their shame.

By the 13th of May, Napoleon had entered Vienna and taken up his

quarters in the palace of Schoenbrunn. The Archduke Karl was at the same

time rapidly approaching with an army of 75,000 men, and Napoleon, who

had 90,000, hastened to throw a bridge across the Danube, below the

city, in order to meet him before he could be reinforced. On the 21st,

however, the Archduke began the attack before the whole French army had

crossed, and the desperate battle of Aspern followed. After two days of

bloody fighting, the French fell back upon the island of Lobau, and

their bridge was destroyed. This was Napoleon's first defeat in Germany,

but it was dearly purchased: the loss on each side was about 24,000.

Napoleon issued flaming bulletins of victory which deceived the German

people for a time, meanwhile ordering new troops to be forwarded with

all possible haste. He deceived the Archduke by a heavy cannonade,

rapidly constructed six bridges further down the river, crossed with his

whole army, and on the 6th of July fought the battle of Wagram, which

ended with the defeat and retreat of the Austrians.


An armistice followed, and the war was concluded on the 14th of October

by the Peace of Vienna. Francis II. was compelled to give up Salzburg

and some adjoining territory to Bavaria; Galicia to Russia and the

Grand-Duchy of Warsaw; and Carniola, Croatia and Dalmatia with Trieste

to the kingdom of Italy,--a total loss of 3,500,000 of population. He

further agreed to pay a contribution of eighty-five millions of francs

to France, and was persuaded, shortly afterwards, to give the hand of

his daughter, Maria Louisa, to Napoleon, who had meanwhile divorced

himself from the Empress Josephine. The Tyrolese, who had been

encouraged by promises of help from Vienna, refused to believe that they

were betrayed and given up. Hofer continued his struggle with success

after the conclusion of peace, until near the close of the year, when

the French and Bavarians returned in force, and the movement was

crushed. He hid for two months among the mountains, then was betrayed by

a monk, captured, and carried in chains to Mantua. Here he was tried by

a French court-martial and shot on the 20th of February, 1810. Francis

II. might have saved his life, but he made no attempt to do it. Thus, in

North and South, Schill and Hofer perished, unsustained by their kings;

yet their deeds remained, as an inspiration to the whole German people.

During the summer of 1809, the Duke of Brunswick, whose land Napoleon

had added to Jerome's kingdom of Westphalia, made a daring attempt to

drive the French from Northern Germany. He had joined a small Austrian

army, sent to operate in Saxony, and when it was recalled after the

battle of Eckmuehl, he made a desperate effort to reconquer Brunswick

with a force of only 2,000 volunteers. The latter dressed in black, and

wore a skull and cross-bones on their caps. The Duke took Halberstadt,

reached Brunswick, then cut his way through the German-French forces

closing in upon him, and came to the shore of the North Sea, where, it

was expected, an English army would land. He and his troops escaped in

small vessels: the English, 40,000 strong, landed on the island of

Walcheren (on the coast of Belgium), where they lay idle until driven

home by sickness.

[Sidenote: 1810.]

For three years after the peace of Vienna, Napoleon was all-powerful in

Germany. He was married to Maria Louisa on the 2d of April, 1810; his

son, the King of Rome, was born the following March, and Austria, where

Metternich was now Minister instead of Count Stadion, followed the

policy of France. All Germany accepted the "Continental Blockade," which

cut off its commerce with England: the standing armies of Austria and

Prussia were reduced to one-fourth of their ordinary strength; the king

of Prussia, who had lived for two years in Koenigsberg, was ordered to

return to Berlin, and the French ministers at all the smaller Courts

became the practical rulers of the States. In 1810, the kingdom of

Holland was taken from Louis Bonaparte and annexed to the French Empire;

then Northern Germany, with Bremen, Hamburg and Luebeck, was annexed in

like manner, and the same fate was evidently intended for the States of

the Rhine-Bund, if the despotic selfishness of Napoleon had not put an

end to his marvellous success. The king of Prussia was next compelled to

suppress the "League of Virtue": Germany was filled with French spies

(many of them native Germans), and every expression of patriotic

sentiment was reported as treason to France.

In the territory of the Rhine-Bund, there was, however, very little real

patriotism among the people: in Austria the latter were still kept down

by the Jesuitic rule of the Hapsburgs: only in the smaller Saxon

Duchies, and in Prussia, the idea of resistance was fostered, though in

spite of Frederick William III. Indeed, the temporary removal of the

king was for awhile secretly advocated. Hardenberg and Scharnhorst did

their utmost to prepare the people for the struggle which they knew

would come: the former introduced new laws, based on the principle of

the equality of all citizens before the law, their equal right to

development, protection and official service. Scharnhorst, the son of a

peasant, trained the people for military duty, in defiance of France: he

kept the number of soldiers at 42,000, in accordance with the treaty,

but as fast as they were well-drilled, he sent them home and put fresh

recruits in their place. In this manner he gradually prepared 150,000

men for the army.

[Sidenote: 1811.]

Alexander I. of Russia had by this time lost his sentimental friendship

for Napoleon. The seizure by the latter of the territory of the Duke of

Oldenburg, who was his near relation, greatly offended him: he grew

tired of submitting to the Continental Blockade, and in 1811 adopted

commercial laws which amounted to its abandonment. Then Napoleon showed

his own overwhelming arrogance; and his course once more illustrated the

abject condition of Germany. Every ruler saw that a great war was

coming, and had nearly a year's time for decision; but all submitted!

Early in 1812 the colossal plan was put into action: Prussia agreed to

furnish 20,000 soldiers, Austria 30,000, and the Rhine-Bund, which

comprised the rest of Germany, was called upon for 150,000. France

furnished more than 300,000, and this enormous military force was set in

motion against Russia, which was at the time unable to raise half that

number of troops. In May Napoleon and Maria Louisa held a grand Court in

Dresden, which a crowd of reigning princes attended, and where even

Francis I. and Frederick William III. were treated rather as vassals

than as equals. This was the climax of Napoleon's success. Regardless of

distance, climate, lack of supplies and all the other impediments to his

will, he pushed forward with an army greater than Europe had seen since

the days of Attila, but from which only one man, horse and cannon out of

every ten returned.

After holding a grand review on the battle-field of Friedland, he

crossed the Niemen and entered Russia on the 24th of June, met the

Russians in battle at Smolensk on the 16th and 17th of August, and after

great losses continued his march towards Moscow through a country which

had been purposely laid waste, and where great numbers of his soldiers

perished from hunger and fatigue. On the 7th of September, the Russian

army of 120,000 men met him on the field of Borodino, where occurred the

most desperate battle of all his wars. At the close of the fight 80,000

dead and wounded (about an equal number on each side) lay upon the

plain. The Russians retreated, repulsed but not conquered, and on the

14th of September Napoleon entered Moscow. The city was deserted by its

inhabitants: all goods and treasures which could be speedily removed

had been taken away, and the next evening flames broke out in a number

of places. The conflagration spread so that within a week four-fifths of

the city were destroyed: Napoleon was forced to leave the Kremlin and

escape through burning streets; and thus the French army was left

without winter-quarters and provisions.

[Sidenote: 1812. THE RETREAT FROM RUSSIA.]

After offering terms of peace in vain, and losing a month of precious

time in waiting, nothing was left for Napoleon but to commence his

disastrous retreat. Cut off from the warmer southern route by the

Russians on the 24th of October, his army, diminishing day by day,

endured all the horrors of the Northern winter, and lost so many in the

fearful passage of the Beresina and from the constant attacks of the

Cossacks, that not more than 30,000 men, famished, frozen and mostly

without arms, crossed the Prussian frontier about the middle of

December. After reaching Wilna, Napoleon had hurried on alone, in

advance: his passage through Germany was like a flight, and he was safe

in Paris before the terrible failure of his campaign was generally known

throughout Europe.

When Frederick William III. agreed to furnish 20,000 troops to France,

his best generals--Bluecher, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau--and three hundred

officers resigned. The command of the Prussian contingent was given to

General York, who was sent to Riga during the march to Moscow, and

escaped the horrors of the retreat. When the fate of the campaign was

decided, he left the French with his remaining 17,000 Prussian soldiers,

concluded a treaty of neutrality with the Russian general Diebitsch,

called an assembly of the people together in Koenigsberg, and boldly

ordered that all men capable of bearing arms should be mustered into the

army. Frederick William, in Berlin, disavowed this act, but the Prussian

people were ready for it. The excitement became so great, that the men

who had influence with the king succeeded in having his Court removed to

Breslau, where an alliance was entered into with Alexander I., and on

the 17th of March, 1813, an address was issued in the king's name,

calling upon the people to choose between victory and ruin. The measures

which York had adopted were proclaimed for all Prussia, and the

patriotic schemes of Stein and Hardenberg, so long thwarted by the

king's weakness, were thus suddenly carried into action.

[Sidenote: 1813.]

The effect was astonishing, when we consider how little real liberty

the people had enjoyed. But they had been educated in patriotic

sentiments by another power than the Government. For years, the works of

the great German authors had become familiar to them: Klopstock taught

them to be proud of their race and name; Schiller taught them resistance

to oppression; Arndt and Koerner gave them songs which stirred them more

than the sound of drum and trumpet, and thousands of high-hearted young

men mingled with them and inspired them with new courage and new hopes.

Within five months Prussia had 270,000 soldiers under arms, part of whom

were organized to repel the coming armies of Napoleon, while the

remainder undertook the siege of the many Prussian fortresses which were

still garrisoned by the French. All classes of the people took part in

this uprising: the professors followed the students, the educated men

stood side by side with the peasants, mothers gave their only sons, and

the women sent all their gold and jewels to the treasury and wore

ornaments of iron. The young poet, Theodor Koerner, not only aroused the

people with his fiery songs, but fought in the "free corps" of Luetzow,

and finally gave his life for his country: the Turner, or gymnasts,

inspired by their teacher Jahn, went as a body into the ranks, and even

many women disguised themselves and enlisted as soldiers.

With the exception of Mecklenburg and Dessau, the States of the

Rhine-Bund still held to France: Saxony and Bavaria especially

distinguished themselves by their abject fidelity to Napoleon. Austria

remained neutral, and whatever influence she exercised was against

Prussia. But Sweden, under the Crown Prince Bernadotte (Napoleon's

former Marshal) joined the movement, with the condition of obtaining

Norway in case of success. The operations were delayed by the slowness

of the Russians, and the disagreement, or perhaps jealousy, of the

various generals; and Napoleon made good use of the time to prepare

himself for the coming struggle. Although France was already exhausted,

he enforced a merciless conscription, taking young boys and old men,

until, with the German soldiers still at his disposal, he had a force of

nearly 500,000 men.

The campaign opened well for Prussia. Hamburg and Luebeck were delivered

from the French, and on the 5th of April the Viceroy Eugene was defeated

at Moeckern (near Leipzig) with heavy losses. The first great battle was

fought at Luetzen, on the 2d of May, on the same field where Gustavus

Adolphus fell in 1632. The Russians and Prussians, with 95,000 men, held

Napoleon, with 120,000, at bay for a whole day, and then fell back in

good order, after a defeat which encouraged instead of dispiriting the

people. The greatest loss was the death of Scharnhorst. Shortly

afterwards Napoleon occupied Dresden, and it became evident that Saxony

would be the principal theatre of war. A second battle of two days took

place on the 20th and 21st of May, in which, although the French

outnumbered the Germans and Russians two to one, they barely achieved a

victory. The courage and patriotism of the people were now beginning to

tell, especially as Napoleon's troops were mostly young, physically

weak, and inexperienced. In order to give them rest he offered an

armistice on the 4th of June, an act which he afterwards declared to

have been the greatest mistake of his life. It was prolonged until the

10th of August, and gave the Germans time both to rest and recruit, and

to strengthen themselves by an alliance with Austria.

[Sidenote: 1813. ALLIANCE OF AUSTRIA.]

Francis II. judged that the time had come to recover what he had lost,

especially as England formally joined Prussia and Russia on the 14th of

June. A fortnight afterwards an agreement was entered into between the

two latter powers and Austria, that peace should be offered to Napoleon

provided he would give up Northern Germany, the Dalmatian provinces and

the Grand-Duchy of Warsaw. He rejected the offer, and so insulted

Metternich during an interview in Dresden, that the latter became his

bitter enemy thenceforth. The end of all the negotiations was that

Austria declared war on the 12th of August, and both sides prepared at

once for a final and desperate struggle. The Allies now had 800,000 men,

divided into three armies, one under Schwarzenberg confronting the

French centre in Saxony, one under Bluecher in Silesia, and a third in

the North under Bernadotte. The last of these generals seemed reluctant

to act against his former leader, and his participation was of little

real service. Napoleon had 550,000 men, less scattered than the Germans,

and all under the government of his single will. He was still,

therefore, a formidable foe.

[Sidenote: 1813.]

Just sixteen days after the armistice came to an end, the old Bluecher

won a victory as splendid as many of Napoleon's. He met Marshal

Macdonald on the banks of a stream called the Katzbach, in Silesia, and

defeated him with the loss of 12,000 killed and wounded, 18,000

prisoners and 103 cannon. From the circumstance of his having cried out

to his men: "Forwards! forwards!" in the crisis of the battle, Bluecher

was thenceforth called "Marshal Forwards" by the soldiers. Five days

before this the Prussian general Buelow was victorious over Oudinot at

Grossbeeren, within ten miles of Berlin; and four days afterwards the

French general Vandamme, with 40,000 men, was cut to pieces by the

Austrians and Prussians, at Kulm on the southern frontier of Saxony.

Thus, within a month, Napoleon lost one-fourth of his whole force, while

the fresh hope and enthusiasm of the German people immediately supplied

the losses on their side. It is true that Schwarzenberg had been

severely repulsed in an attack on Dresden, on the 27th of August, but

this had been so speedily followed by Vandamme's defeat, that it

produced no discouragement.

The month of September opened with another Prussian victory. On the 6th,

Buelow defeated Ney at Dennewitz, taking 15,000 prisoners and 80 cannon.

This change of fortune seems to have bewildered Napoleon: instead of his

former promptness and rapidity, he spent a month in Dresden, alternately

trying to entice Bluecher or Schwarzenberg to give battle. The latter

two, meanwhile, were gradually drawing nearer to each other and to

Bernadotte, and their final junction was effected without any serious

movement to prevent it on Napoleon's part. Bluecher's passage of the Elbe

on the 3d of October compelled him to leave Dresden with his army and

take up a new position in Leipzig, where he arrived on the 13th. The

Allies instantly closed in upon him: there was a fierce but indecisive

cavalry fight on the 14th, the 15th was spent in preparations on both

sides, and on the 16th the great battle began.

Napoleon had about 190,000 men, the Allies 300,000: both were posted

along lines many miles in extent, stretching over the open plain, from

the north and east around to the south of Leipzig. The first day's fight

really comprised three distinct battles, two of which were won by the

French and one by Bluecher. During the afternoon a terrific charge of

cavalry under Murat broke the centre of the Allies, and Frederick

William and Alexander I. narrowly escaped capture: Schwarzenberg, at the

head of a body of Cossacks and Austrian hussars, repulsed the charge,

and night came without any positive result. Napoleon sent offers of

peace, but they were not answered, and the Allies thereby gained a day

for reinforcements. On the morning of the 18th the battle was resumed:

all day long the earth trembled under the discharge of more than a

thousand cannon, the flames of nine or ten burning villages heated the

air, and from dawn until sunset the immense hosts carried on a number of

separate and desperate battles at different points along the line.

Napoleon had his station on a mound near a windmill: his centre held its

position, in spite of terrible losses, but both his wings were driven

back. Bernadotte did not appear on the field until four in the

afternoon, but about 4,000 Saxons and other Germans went over from the

French to the Allies during the day, and the demoralizing effect of this

desertion probably influenced Napoleon quite as much as his material

losses. He gave orders for an instant retreat, which was commenced on

the night of the 18th. His army was reduced to 100,000 men: the Allies

had lost, in killed and wounded, about 50,000.

[Sidenote: 1813. THE BATTLE OF LEIPZIG.]

All Germany was electrified by this victory; from the Baltic to the

Alps, the land rang with rejoicings. The people considered, and justly

so, that they had won this great battle: the reigning princes, as later

events proved, held a different opinion. But, from that day to this, it

is called in Germany "the Battle of the Peoples": it was as crushing a

blow for France as Jena had been to Prussia or Austerlitz to Austria. On

the morning of the 19th of October the Allies began a storm upon

Leipzig, which was still held by Marshal Macdonald and Prince

Poniatowsky to cover Napoleon's retreat. By noon the city was entered at

several gates; the French, in their haste, blew up the bridge over the

Elster river before a great part of their own troops had crossed, and

Poniatowsky, with hundreds of others, was drowned in attempting to

escape. Among the prisoners was the king of Saxony, who had stood by

Napoleon until the last moment. In the afternoon Alexander I. and

Frederick William entered Leipzig, and were received as deliverers by

the people.

The two monarchs, nevertheless, owed their success entirely to the

devotion of the German people, and not at all to their own energy and

military talent. In spite of the great forces still at their disposal,

they interfered with the plans of Bluecher and other generals who

insisted on a rapid and vigorous pursuit, and were at any time ready to

accept peace on terms which would have ruined Germany, if Napoleon had

not been insane enough to reject them. The latter continued his march

towards France, by way of Naumburg, Erfurt and Fulda, losing thousands

by desertion and disease, but without any serious interference until he

reached Hanau, near Frankfort. At almost the last moment (October 14),

Maximilian I. of Bavaria had deserted France and joined the Allies: one

of his generals, Wrede, with about 55,000 Bavarians and Austrians,

marched northward, and at Hanau intercepted the French. Napoleon, not

caring to engage in a battle, contented himself with cutting his way

through Wrede's army, on the 25th of October. He crossed the Rhine and

reached France with less than 70,000 men, without encountering further


[Sidenote: 1814.]

Jerome Bonaparte fled from his kingdom of Westphalia immediately after

the battle of Leipzig: Wuertemberg joined the Allies, the Rhine-Bund

dissolved, and the artificial structure which Napoleon had created fell

to pieces. Even then, Prussia, Russia and Austria wished to discontinue

the war: the popular enthusiasm in Germany was taking a national

character, the people were beginning to feel their own power, and this

was very disagreeable to Alexander I. and Metternich. The Rhine was

offered as a boundary to Napoleon: yet, although Wellington was by this

time victorious in Spain and was about to cross the Pyrenees, the French

Emperor refused and the Allies were reluctantly obliged to resume

hostilities. They had already wasted much valuable time: they now

adopted a plan which was sure to fail, if the energies of France had not

been so utterly exhausted.

Three armies were formed: one, under Buelow, was sent into Holland to

overthrow the French rule there; another, under Schwarzenberg, marched

through Switzerland into Burgundy, about the end of December, hoping to

meet with Wellington somewhere in Central France; and the third under

Bluecher, which had been delayed longest by the doubt and hesitation of

the sovereigns, crossed the Rhine at three points, from Coblentz to

Mannheim, on the night of New-Year, 1814. The subjection of Germany to

France was over: only the garrisons of a number of fortresses remained,

but these were already besieged, and they surrendered one by one, in the

course of the next few months.