The Battle of Eylau 7-8th February 1807 Sunday, Mar 14 2010 

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Vauban Tile 500 pixels

The stunning victory of Austerlitz. ended the Third Coalition against Napoleon, with the surrender of the Austrian Empire, the demise of the Holy Roman Empire and the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine, an amalgum of 16 minor states within the Holy Roman Empire that were supportive of France.

Despite this victory, Russia vowed to fight on in the Fourth Coalition, backed by Britain, the inveterate opponent of Napoleon. Prussia, the other major European power, nervously watched Napoleon create the Confederation of the Rhine in July 1806 as the balance of power in Germany swung towards France. Intrigues with Britain over the fate of Hanover (promised first to Britain, then to Prussia as a means of securing peace) formed the Casus Belli for Prussia, and she joined the Fourth Coalition in October 1806.

With typical rapidity, Napoleon launched an attack against Prussia in the autumn of 1806, culminating in the great French victories of Jena and Auerstädt.

The Prussian army collapsed in the ensuing pursuit, and Napoleon had achieved the seemingly impossible; destruction of the once vaunted army of Frederick the Great. In truth, the Prussian army had ossified, after the passing of their Master, and were no match for the French army at their peak.

After entering Berlin, Napoleon took time to visit the tomb of Frederick the Great declaiming “If he were alive we wouldn’t be here today”.

But despite the crushing victory, the Prussian king Frederick William III would not surrender to France, and drew the remnants of his army towards the Polish/Russian frontier. Napoleon, frustrated at this turn, created the Continental System to economically bring Britain to negotiations.

The struggle would still continue on, so France faced another campaign against Russia to impose his will.

The French army entered Poland, with the intention of subsuming the captured Prussian regions of Poland into what would eventually become a new political entity, The Duchy of Warsaw, allied with France. This lay in the future, once Russia was subdued.

By early December, La Grande Armée held Warsaw and the territory around the river Vistula. Russian troops were concentrating around Pultusk, and Napoleon launched a number of Corps across the rivers in the area in an attempt to force a major battle.

This lead to inconclusive actions at Tscharnovo, Pultusk and Golymin in late December, 1806.

The failure of these battles to destroy the Russian army, together with the deteriorating weather, forced La Grande Armée to concentrate around Warsaw for the winter.

He found time for extra diversions, in the form of Countess Marie Walewska who became his Mistress.

Russia did not enter winter quarters. By mid January, the new commander of the Russian forces, Count von Bennisgen ordered a series of advances, hoping to press the French towards the Vistula.

Napoleon issued plans to try to split the Russian advance into two halves near Allenstein, allowing the destruction of each. However, the Realm of Chance intervened and the French orders for advance fell into Russian hands.

Bennisgen ordered his troops to concentrate at Jenkendorf/Ionkovo. A brief action took place here on the 3rd February. Napoleon’s dispersed forces were unable to pin down the Russians, who put up a stout defence of their position. They escaped at night, retreating towards Eylau.

‘Until this very moment, the enemy has been hard pressed. It is now clear that he appreciates our manoeuvres, though only with some difficulty, and wishes to escape – a fact that makes me think he is informé

Napoleon to Talleyrand

Napoleon’s army had become strung out during the manoeuvres. On the evening of the 7th February, he had the Imperial Guard, IV Corps (Soult), VII Corps (Augereau), Cavalry Corps (Murat), amounting to 45,000 men and 200 guns. Two further Corps were nearby within a day’s march. (III, Davout & VI, Ney), a possible extra 30,000 men.

After a brief rearguard action at Hoff, the Russians arrived at Eylau (present day Bagrationovsk) at the beginning of February.

Bennisgen had approximately 67,000 troops and 460 guns, with a further 9,000 Prussians under General L’Estocq nearby. Bennisgen ordered General Bagration, to cover the approaches to Eylau from the south with 15,000 men whilst the rest of the army formed up on the ridge to the north of the town.

Jean Baptiste Marbot, ADC to Marshal Augereau in 1807 left the following record of a conversation between Napoleon to Augereau, regarding the combat on the 7th February.

‘The Marshal [Augereau] mounted the plateau to find the Emperor already there, and I heard Napoleon say to Augereau: “Some of them want me to storm Eylau this evening; but I do not like night fighting, and besides, I do not wish to push my entire too far forward before Davout has come up with the right wing and Ney with the left’.

Marbot

Despite this, the French did press on into Eylau, with a skirmish leading to a full battle between Soult’s corps and the Russian rearguard centred on Ziegelhoff, which went on from 2pm until midnight.

Soult’s corps approached Eylau and were met with a fearful fire from the Russian infantry. The French “was dispersed by the volley of grapeshot and almost slaughtered and pressed back after that horrible bloodshed.”

“Both artilleries fired on the streets at a distance of several metres…the bullets poured as hail, and cannonballs pierced our infantry, that crowded in the streets…”

Mikaberidze

Eylau eventually fell to the French on an extremely cold night. The troops of both sides made shelter as best they could and prepared for the next day’s ordeal.

‘When you have resolved to fight a battle, collect your own force. Dispense with nothing. A single battalion sometimes decides the day’.

Maxims of Napoleon, XXIX

Napoleon’s knew his army was outnumbered on the morning of the 8th February. He also knew that the III Corps (Davout) & VI Corps (Ney), another 30,000 men in total were likely to appear that day and factored them into his intitial battleplan.

This double envelopment would depend upon IV Corps (Soult) being able to pin down the Russians, whilst the flanks attacks from the south III Corps (Davout), and north VI Corps (Ney) would draw Russian reserves away, before la masse de décision from VII Corps (Augereau), Cavalry Corps (Murat) delivered the final blow. Early arrival of III and VI Corps was therefore essential if Napoleon was going to overcome the intial odds of 2:3 in favour of Bennisgen‘s Russians.

The battle was fought in heavy snowstorms, hampering visibility throughout the day, restricting the troops ability to see unfolding events.

The battle began with an artillery exchange.

About 8:30am, Soult and Lasalle advanced to engage the Russians and begin the pinning attack.

General Tutchkov led his Russians forward against Soult’s men

Meanwhile from the south on the French right flank, Marshal Davout appeared with the first division of III Corps, led by Friant.

Tutchkov’s men began to drive Soult back towards his starting position, with Lewal’s division under pressure on Windmill Hill, on the French left wing.

Meanwhile, the Russians performed a cavalry attack on Davout’s men on the French right wing in order to pin them down.

Napoleon ordered Augereau and his division to attack the Russian left wing to relieve the pressure on the French flanks.

In the thick snow of the blizzard, VII Corps got lost and under the sway of the realm of chance emerged directly before the guns of the Russian main artillery.

“There are on the field of battle, circumstances when one must sacrifice some troops in order to preserve the great majority and ensure victory. General Corbineau, the Emperor’s aide-de-camp, was killed by a cannon shot near to us while bringing to Marshal Augereau the order to advance. The marshal passed between Eylau and Rothenen and led his two divisions boldly against the enemy centre, and already the 14th Line regiment who made up our advance guard had seized the position which the Emperor had ordered to be taken and held at all costs, when the guns which formed a semi-circle about Augereau hurled out a storm of ball and grape-shot of hitherto unprecedented ferocity. In an instant, our two divisions were pulverised under this rain of iron!

“Augereau’s Corps was almost entirely destroyed. Out of fifteen thousand combatants under arms at the beginning of the action, there remained by evening only three thousand, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Massy: the Marshal, all the Generals and all the Colonels had been either killed or wounded.”

General Desjardins was killed and General Heudelet gravely wounded; however, they stood firm until the corps having been almost entirely destroyed, the remnants were compelled to retire to the cemetery of Eylau, with the exception of the 14th, who almost entirely surrounded by the enemy, remained on the little hill which they had occupied. The situation was made even worse by a gale of wind which blew a heavy snowfall into our faces, and reduced visibility to about fifteen paces, so that several French batteries opened fire on us, as well as the Russians. Marshal Augereau was wounded by a bullet.”

Marbot

“I can see no way of saving the regiment. Return to the Emperor and give him the farewells of the 14e Régiment de Ligne which has faithfully carried out his orders, and take him the Eagle he gave which we can no longer defend; it would be too terrible to see it fall into enemy hands during our last moments.”

Marbot

The regiment was overwhelmed, the Eagle lost,

and Marbot was wounded, but survived the battle.

The Russians swept forward, reaching Eylau and a fight broke out around the cemetery, later made famous in Victor Hugo’s poem.

The Russians continued their advance into Eylau, and almost captured Napoleon‘s command post, only being saved by the self sacrifice of his personal escort.

Two battalions of the Imperial Guard arrived to retake the town and stabilise the situation.

‘In war the General alone can judge of certain arrangements. It depends on him alone to conquer diffiulties by his own superior talents and resolution.’

Maxims of Napoleon, LXIV

The French position was precarious, with the initial battleplan of double envelopment overtaken by events. One part of the masse de décision (VII Corps) has been bloodily repulsed. That only left the Imperial Guard or the Cavalry Corps under Murat. Napoleon ordered the cavalry into position in the French centre.

Marshal Murat formed the cavalry Corps up, some 10,500 troopers, comprising Cuirassiers, Dragoons and Chasseurs.

The charge swept into the Russians, scattering all before them.

To cover the retirement of Murat‘s cavalry, Napoleon ordered the cavalry of the Imperial Guard forward in another charge.

Murat‘s cavalry charge, arguably one of the most successful in history, swung the odds back towards the French, for the loss of some 10% of Murat‘s Corps.

The French received reinforcements as Davout‘s III Corps had finally arrived at the south.

About the same time, General L’Estocq and his Prussians were arriving at the Northern edge of the battlefield, having successfully fought rearguard actions against Ney‘s VI Corps pursuing them.

Napoleon ordered Davout‘s III Corps to attack the Russian left flank.

The odds had swung towards the French. The Russian line, slowly bending back upon itself from these attacks was close to breaking. At this critical juncture, General L’Estocq’s Prussians began attacking Davout‘s III Corps exposed flank.

The odds began to swing back again to the Russians and Prussians.

The allied force slowly pushed Davout‘s III Corps back towards their starting position. As daylight failed and night drew on, VI Corps under Ney finally arrived.  They immediately attacked towards the village of Schloditten.

Night eventually fell across the battlefield.

“The uncertainty about the outcome of the day was so great that both sides ordered a retreat during the hours of darkness. Marshal Davout, who spent the night with the most advanced troops, confided to someone who shortly after told me that he was on the very point of beginning his retrograde movement when an officer arrived from the picquets to tell him that loud noises were emanating from the enemy camp…Putting his ear to the ground he recognized the distant sounds of cavalry and guns on the move, and as the noise was receding…He no longer doubted the enemy was in full retreat.

ED Pasquier

Napoleon was in possession of the field of battle and the victor by the terms of warfare of the period, but at the cost of enormous casualties to both sides.

The French army was in no position to pursue the retreating Allied force. The next day, Napoleon and his Marshals surveyed the horrors of the battlefield., captured in the painting by Antoine-Jean Gros.

Given the earlier sweeping victories in the Prussian campaign, the extent of losses were disguised. Napoleon claimed that the French had only 7,700 casualties in the battle, which was clearly propaganda.

“Spread the following reports in an unofficial manner. They are however true…The Russian army is greatly weakened – that the Russian army demand peace…”

Napoleon

“The Emperor was exceedingly anxious that everyone should view that event as he himself viewed it”.

Bourienne

The phrase “mentir comme un bulletin” (to lie like a bulletin) was never more true.

The Battle of Eylau was commemorated in Victor Hugo’s poem.

The extent of the battlefield losses forced both sides into winter quarters. Ahead lay the spring campaign of1807, culminating in another bloody day; the Battle of Friedland.

The Battle of Eylau 8th February 1807 Redux Saturday, Mar 13 2010 

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A wargame of the Battle of Eylau is described below.

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The schematic of the battlefield is shown, oriented from the original map to fit the troop deployments.

This is then scaled down to fit our beloved bit of 5′ by 4′ for the wargame recreation. The scale used is board 1mm = battlefield 2 m; each move represents 5 minutes, and each figure represents 100-120 men using 25mm figures. Thus the 5′ by 4′ board rescales to 3 by 2.4 km on the battlefield.

The number of troops need to be reduced accordingly to keep the troop density equivalent. The Russians and Prussians had about 76,000 men by the end of the battle, and the French about 75,000 by dusk on 8th February 1807. Reducing this by a factor of approximately 3, the following order of battle is given.

One additional complicating factor for the wargame is the effect of the weather. The Battle of Eylau was fought in a blizzard. To simulate the capricious nature of snows in a blizzard, a marker is placed (initially) on position 4. Every move a dice is rolled. If the score is 1,2 the counter is moved down one position; 3,4 the position stays the same, and if 5,6 the counter is moved up one position.

Each position shows the visibility on the battlefield, so at position 1, the visibility falls to 100m (50mm) etc, whereas at 4-6 the visibility is unlimited, subject to line of sight. The generals refighting the battle use suspension of disbelief, so that if enemy troops are bearing down unseen upon your own because of the snow visibility, you cannot react until they would emerge… as happened during the original battle.

Further, troops moving in heavy snows (positions 1,2) are prone to veering off course to the desired direction, so a dice is rolled before setting off, with a throw of 1 (troops veer left); 2-5 (as intended), 6 (troops veer right). In addition, sending a messenger to communicate desired action requires a dice throw of 3-6 to ensure success; a throw of 1,2 accounts for messengers getting lost in the snows. At extreme range, a dice roll of 6 is needed for artillery to cause disruption, again to account for reduced effectiveness due to the snows. Finally all movement is slowed by 10mm per move for infantry and foot artillery and by 20 mm for cavalry to account for moving through heavy snow.

These adjustments are made to the general rules used for the wargame, and can be found here.

 

Move 1 08:30

The first consideration with a general who offers battle should be the glory and honour of his arms. The safety and preservation of his men is only second.

Napoleon surveys the snowy wastes before him and his opponents disposition. He balances the paradoxical trinity of enmity, chance and reason. With the Imperial Guard and Heavy Cavalry reserve, the odds are currently 50:50. Reason whispers to him that although he can see he is badly outnumbered, Davout and Ney‘s Corps have been recalled to the battlefield. Instead he counts upon his opponents timidity not to try to overwhelm his position before Eylau, giving him enough time to turn the flanks of les Russe once the reserves arrive and win a famous victory.

Count Bennigsen, in command of the Russians has other ideas. After being evicted by the French from Eylau the night before, his men have spent a miserable night upon the hills in the cold. Time to shift the French off the hills before Eylau and win a great victory that will bear his name.He orders the cannonade to begin.

‘It has begun! Here it is! Terrible but glorious!’ says the face of every private and officer.

The French cannons reply and the battle begins.

Victoria looks from afar at these two generals who would claim her favour. She will decide who to bless much, much later after many brave men have fallen.

Move 3 08:45

The cannonade rages back and forth, the Russians getting the better, with fire from the French main battery suppressed as the troops become disorganised. On the left flank, a regiment of Cossacks become disorganised from persistent artillery fire from the French battery in between the infantry.

The weather at this point is as clear as it will be this day.

Move 4 08:50

Tutchkov leads his men forwards towards Eylau, and the cavalry immediately to their right begin wheeling round behind them.

The French battalions on their left begin advancing, one towards the village of Schloditten; one towards Tutchkov’s men.

Move 5 08:55

On the left, the Russian advance led by Tutchkov continues, and to his rear, Dokhturov leads the 7th Division forwards in support, led by his cavalry.

The single French battalion continues its advance across the snows towards Tutchkov’s men. They march unsupported “avoir des engelures aux yeux“. The other French battalion at the extreme left marches continues towards the village of Schloditten, with the Dragoon regiment wheeling round in support. Another French battalion is moving into Eylau, so this can be held securely.

High on the hills, Le Chapeau sees Dokhturov’s advance. That could badly threaten his left if unchecked, so better prepare a welcoming party for them. He sends a messenger to the heavy cavalry reserve.

Move 6 09:00

On the left flank, the French battalion marching on its own feels its blood turn to ice, so they turn about and march back towards the safety of the cannon before them, which has disrupted a regiment of Cossacks. The French Dragoons sweep past the infantry bound for the village of Schloditten.

The Russian advance led by Tutchkov continues, with Eylau the target. A horse artillery battery by their side limbers up to accompany them. Dokhturov’s cavalry have moved ahead and form a second line behind Tutchkov’s cavalry. Meanwhile Dokhturov’s infantry plod onwards through the snow, singing, Ах, Вы Сени, Мои Сени.

Hidden behind the western heights, the Carabiniers form column in preparation to wheel and support the left flank, as ordered by Le Chapeau.

Move 7 09:05

Tutchkov’s Russians close on Eylau, and begin to storm the town; smoke rising from the musketry. Behind the first line of infantry are the Leyb-Gvardiya Преображенский полк, led by General Kozlovsky. They form column, in order to march around their colleagues in the firefight. To their right side, a horse artillery unit rides past.

By the village of Schloditten, the French Dragoons and Russian Cossacks fight with the honours even so far.

Behind the French lines, the Carabiniers and one regiments of Cuirassiers begin moving to the left, supported by a battery of horse artillery.

At the extreme right , the first troops from Marshal Davout‘s III corps have appeared.

Move 8 09:10

Tutchkov’s Russians continue to close on Eylau and the exchange of fire echoes across the battlefield. The Russian Leyb-Gvardiya begin marching around the right flank of this attack, supported by the horse artillery unit.

Fortuna Belli smiles on the Russian Cossacks by Schloditten and the French Dragoons retreat in disorder, leaving their left wing exposed. One French infantry battalion forms square against the threat.

Le Chapeau‘s decision to reinforce the left wing with Carabiniers and Cuirassiers looks prescient as they work their way round behind the hills, but Minerva knows his judgement comes from her silent whisperings. He sends Soult to oversee their deployment, and to try to halt the Dragoons retreat.

Move 9 09:15

Capriciousness is all – Fortuna Belli now frowns on the Russian Cossacks by Schloditten, as they break under artillery fire. Soult’s presence stops the rout of the French Dragoons besides the cannon that just did such harm.

The Russian infantry recoils before Eylau as the French musketeers do their work; the snowy fields before the town are carpeted by the fallen. The infantry battalion which was supporting their left flank also recoil from the hail of roundshot from the French grand battery.

The Russian Leyb-Gvardiya continue marching as before, supported by the horse artillery unit. They are heading towards the French battalion on the hill, to the left of Eylau who watch the Grenadiers and their tall hats grow larger, and they hear their song, Yes, they know us Turks and Swedes, for the first time. It sends shivers through them.

Dokhturov’s 7th Division continue forwards through the snow, the sound of battle growing ever louder for the troops in the front columns.

The Carabiniers and Cuirassiers receive new orders from Le Chapeau.

Move 10 09:20

The Russian Cossacks continue to retreat, allowing the French infantry close to Schloditten to reform from square to a column, and make a hasty advance towards the village before a combination of le brutal et beau sabreur closeby have them instead. Minerva smiles in approval, the eyes of Mars blaze at the Russians missed opportunity.

Tutchkov’s presence ralies the Russian infantry battalion before Eylau, ready for them to have another attempt once they’ve reorganised.

The Russian Leyb-Gvardiya sing out

“Their banner will be taken
by the Russian Bayonet,
our Fathers battle valor
it will not let us forget”.

and the French infantry receiving them break in terror, before running towards Le Chapeau.

‘Where are you running to?’ he proclaims. ‘ Les Russes are that way’, pointing towards the direction they just ran from. They rally and reform battle order before his admonishment.

On the plain les Gros Talons form up, Carabiniers close to Soult, Cuirassiers behind l’Empereur .

Move 11 09:25

The French infantry make their way into Schloditten, which will shortly become a strongpoint.

The presence of so much French cavalry forces the Russian Leyb-Gvardiya into square, as their horse artillery deploy besides them.

Dokhturov’s men continue their slow advance through the snow.

Move 12 09:30

Soult leads the Dragoons forwards a little, which allows Tutchkov to lead another assault on Eylau, with the Leyb-Gvardiya and line infantry. So far in the town, the hard pressed French cling on.

Le Chapeau sends the French infantry down the hill in a counter offensive, as les Gros Talons form up behind them on the hill, steel gleaming and waiting for any weakness from Les Russes.

In the centre, the artillery duel between the Russians and French continues, with both sides sustaining casualties.

Move 13 09:35

The Russian Leyb-Gvardiya sing out as they storm Eylau

“Loud is the voice of our honor,
solid our bayonets.
So we walk toward our glory
foremost, fearless regiment”
.

and the French infantry defending the town fall back before the gleaming steel and up the hill.

In seeming recompense, Fortuna Belli now smiles on the French infantry advancing towards the Russian horse artillery deployed close to Eylau and they take this prize at bayonet point.

Soult leads the French Dragoons forwards against Russian Hussars, who give way before the onslaught.

Move 14 09:40

A single French infantry battalion tries to retake Eylau, but is repulsed swiftly. Le Chapeau rides out to meet them, but even he fails to steady their nerves, and they continue running for now. He takes the Cuirassier regiment with him for support who pine for action. At last they are “off the hill”, they mutter, but only to themselves.

The French infantry originally thrown out of Eylau rally besides Les Immortels, who smile at their indiscipline.

Soult and his French Dragoons have beaten the Russian Hussars, who flee. The les Gros Talons of the Carabiniers form up behind Scholditten, protecting their flank.

The French infantry who captured the horse artillery unit make it their own. Dead and dying Russians are moved out the way; French soldiers have now become gunners.

Move 15 09:45

“Mесть” cry Dokhturov’s Dragoons, and they charge into Soult and his men, sending only half of them back with the Marshal, as the rest are left on the snowy field. Napoleon senses the crisis and rides out to meet them, wide eyed men and horses. The Cuirassiers deploy on the plain, to their left a French cannon, to their right the French infantry, now nursing their captured prize of a horse artillery battery into life. A Russian infantry battalion routs under their hail of grapeshot.

On the far left of the French line, les Gros Talons of the Carabiniers ride out towards the once routed, but now rallied Cossacks. This is surely a fight the Cossacks must lose?

Tutchkov gets the Russian line infantry battalion by Eylau in readiness to storm the French infantry at the foot of the hill overlooking the town once the supporting battalions join them. French cannonballs tear into the advancing green lines.

Bennigsen, in command of the Russians sees that he’s advanced on his right, and taken Eylau, a strategic prize. If Tutchkov can succeed in taking the French cannons in the centre, he can blow a hole through the middle, and order a general advance to sweep the rest of the French away.

Move 16 09:50

By Elyau, Tutchkov’s first column of Russian infantry is severely mauled by the French artillery and they rout, disorganising the second wave of men marching towards the guns.

Le Chapeau steadies the nerves of retreating French infantry, as Soult reforms what’s left of his French Dragoons. French artillery rout Russian Hussars by Dokhturov. The French Cuirassiers advance towards the Russian Dragoons who are suffering casualties under artillery fire too, and become disorganised in the process.

On the extreme left, les Gros Talons of the Carabiniers have scattered the Russian Cossacks.

Only in Eylau do the Russians stand firm.

Move 17 09:55

A clash begins between the Russian Dragoons and the French Cuirassiers, with Soult’s French Dragoons riding up to outflank the Russians. Horses rear, men slash with their sabres, but so far the Russians hold their own in the mêlée. Scenting further glory, the Carabiniers wheel around and head for the fight.

Two of Dokhturov’s infantry battalions have broken off from the main body, and march towards the French infantry, furiously making firing holes in the walls of Schloditten, before the Russians begin their attack.

Tutchkov’s second wave of infantry have formed columns, ready for attack, and they rout the French infantry guarding the foot of the hill before Eylau, who in turn pass through the French gunners. Combining this with the Russian artillery who have managed to outgun their French rivals ensures the French gunners are disorganised. They only put up a sporadic fire, unable to halt the infantry advancing towards them. Can Bennigsen‘s dream of capturing the guns and blowing a hole through the French centre be realised? Only if Fortuna Belli smiles on them.

Move 18 10:00

Napoleon rides to the centre and rallies the French infantry and artillery. Combined in strength, they rout one of the Russian infantry columns. The remaining column now faces an extra French battalion pivoting round to attack them with flanking fire.

On the left flank, the Russian cavalry continues to retreat in pockets of troopers.

Undeterred, the Russian infantry continue marching on, heading for their fate at Schloditten.

Move 19 10:05

Le Chapeau knows he must retake Eylau and so launches his ace weapon; the sound of La Marche des Grognards et La Victoire est à Nous! rings out over the battlefield. Les Grognards march steadily towards Eylau, the Russian Guards wait for them; an irresistable force against an immovable object. Fortuna Belli’s smile will determine who wins.

Perhaps by bravery, foolhardiness or tempered by past battles, Tutchkov is inured to this counterattack attack by the French. He leads his Russian infantry on against the French infantry to the left of Eylau.

To the left, Dokhturov attempts to rally the fleeing Russian cavalry. Les Gros Talons sit on the plain, forcing the Russian infantry before Schloditten into square.

Move 20 10:10

The struggle for Eylau is in full flow; so far the Russians cling on as les Grognards begin their déjeuner à la fourchette. The Russian artillery falls upon the French.

The French artillery are too busy supporting their infantry against Tutchkov’s attack.

To the left, the Russian cavalry begins to come to order and reassemble.

In the skies above the battlefield, Caecius – God of the north-east wind – bringer of foul weather, bearer of coldness, snows and blizzards; he who pours hail unto those below looks for his moment to release his curse. His breath of cold sweeps out.

Move 21 10:15

The curse of Caecius sweeps over the battlefield and the visibility falls to 400m. The Russian gunners lose their targets in the snow. The French can still see theirs and hammer away at Tutchkov’s men who stubbonly try to break the French infantry.

La Victoire est à Nous! rings out over the battlefield, Fortuna Belli has smiled on les Grognards and their déjeuner à la fourchette. The Russian Guards reel back in confusion. Le Chapeau transfers a battalion of the Young Guard to Eylau to secure this vital stronghold.

Move 22 10:20

The curse of Caecius strengthens and the visibility falls to 200m. The Imperial Guard continue to sweep the Russians from Eylau and make ready to occupy it themselves. The Russian infantry to the right of Eylau push back the French, who disrupt some of the artillery and infantry behind them in their retreat. Enough guns remain however to push two to the Russian battalions back.

Across the rest of the battlefield, silence falls as troops wait for the weather to ease.

Move 23 10:25

Visibility is still at 200m, as Caecius snowblinds all. In the chaos around Eylau, the Young Guard occupy the town, securing it for the French. A line infantry battalion makes use of the snow cover and rushes out from the town to try to recapture the horse artillery abandoned earlier. By Eylau, one final Russian battalion is in good order and makes a charge for the french artillery on the hill. It captures one of the batteries! Can it blow a hole through the French centre, despite the nearby presence of les Grognards?

Move 24 10:30

Caecius rage intensifies and the snows reduce the visiblity to 100m. That’s still enough for the Russian gunners with their new prize to achieve the near impossible, and rout a battalion of les Immortels; the Old Guard, who run back into Napoleon. “Where are you running to?” he demands. “Les Russes are that way”, pointing to where they have just come from. The other Old Guard battalion nearby exacts swift revenge and pushes the Russians off the cannon in a fierce bayonet charge. The crisis for the French passes and their centre holds. Slowly the routed French infantry on the hill recovers its composure.

However, Tutchkov’s Russians run, and this attack, so nearly successful has failed. Such is the whim of Fortuna Belli.

Move 25 10:35

Visibility is still only 100m, and the battlefield is quiet, all firing has stopped. The Russian attack under Tutchkov reorganises for another atttempt under heavy snows, the defending French also reorganise. The solitary French battalion sent from Eylau recapture the abandoned horse artillery unit. For now, they can’t see anything to fire at and can just make out Soult’s cavalry on the plain to their left.

Move 26 10:40

Caecius relents a little and the visiblity in the snow increases to 200m.

Tutchkov rallies the Russian infanry, and readies them for another assault on the French, who can only hear the sound of their drums.

Move 27 10:45

Caecius frowns and the visiblity in the blizzard decreases back to 100m.

Tutchkov’s attack emerges from the snows and they assault the French, who reply with musketry. Some Russian battalions retreat, others stand and fight.

A messenger from Count Bennigsen calls for cavalry reinforcement. Another messenger sent by Soult asks the French Carabiniers to join his main avalry body on the French left.

Move 28 10:50

Visibility continues at only 100m, and Tutchkov’s attack continues on, with neither the Russian or French infantry holding sway. Le Chapeau readies a battalion of the Old Guard for counterattack if the whim of Fortuna Belli goes against the French.

The Russian cavalry summonded by Count Bennigsen starts out forward in the thick snows towards where they think they are needed. Likewise the French Carabiniers ride throughthe snows towards Soult.

Move 29 10:55

Caecius again relents a little and the visiblity in the snow increases to 200m. The tide turns against Tutchkov’s attack and the French push back a couple of the attacking Russian Battalions. Le Chapeau senses the moment is ripe and the Old Guard begin their attack.

The French Carabiniers arrive by Soult and await for further orders.

Move 30 11:00

The attack by the Old Guard sweeps Tutchkov’s men away and they flee back towards the safety of the rest of their army. Caecius again relents a little and the visiblity in the snow increases to 400m. The Russian artillery speings to life again and attempt to cover the retreat of their comrades.

Move 31 11:05

The Old Guard begin returning back to their Emperor. Behind them, Tutchkov’s Russians continue to beat a retreat. The cavalry requested by Count Bennigsen arrive on the ridge which the Russian artillery commands.

Move 32 11:10

The snows still restrict visibility and movement, with both sides reorganising for the moment when Caecius stops his wrath.

Move 33 11:15

The visiblity improves a little. The French are ready again for the Russians. The first wave of attackers make their weary way back to their starting positions. The second wave begins the slow advance through the snows.

On the left, Soult about turns the French cavalry.

Move 34 11:20

On the left, Soult wheels the French cavalry behind Schloditten. The visibility falls again, masking the next attack, again being led by Tutchkov. He whispers to his aides close by “Success never depends, and never will depend, on position, or equipment, or even on numbers, and least of all on position.” “But on what then?” “On the feeling that is in me and in each soldier. A battle is won by those who firmly resolve to win it!”

Move 35 11:25

Under cover of the foul snows of Caecius, the Russians begin the next advance towards the French who again can only hear their adversaries draw nearer. Behind the infantry is a regiment of Dragoons.

On the left, Soult continues to wheel the French cavalry behind Schloditten. They head into snow, slowly.

Move 36 11:30

Tutchkov’s new wave of men advance through the snows, unseen by the French, and way behind them, Somov’s division begin their advance. Caecius relents a little and the visiblity rises to 200m.

Move 37 11:35

The visibilty rises further to 400m, and the silent guns spring into life on each side. Tutchkov’s men stagger until the hail of fire, but one battalion closes in on the French battery in the centre right of their line. Somov’s men continue to advance, as yet unseen by Le Chapeau.

Move 38 11:40

For a little under 90 minutes, Caecius has rained hail and snow onto those beneath him, but at last he tires and men can at last see the whole battlefield again. Le Chapeau at last sees Somov’s Division as they reach the hill behind Tutchkov’s men who are faltering under fire. All except one battalion, which still clings onto the foothill of the central French battery, whose fire in turn is suppressed by the Russians.

Move 39 11:45

The struggle for the central French battery continues, with neither side yielding. The rest of Tutchkov’s attack has faltered under cannon fire. Le Chapeau senses the moment and send a messenger to Marshal Murat to form the cavalry corps up, ready for a charge.

On the left, Dokhturov advances a regiment of Cossacks, forcing a battalion of French infantry into square. In response, Soult wheels the French Cuirassiers around to face the threat.

Move 40 11:50

On the left flank, Soult advances the French Cuirassiers towards the Russian Cossacks, as a Russian infantry battalion engages the French infantry bound in square.

The struggle for the central French battery continues, with Tutchkov and Augereau both adding their leadership to the fight. A battalion of Russian Guards makes it’s way to help their comrades, who hear their song, Yes, they know us Turks and Swedes.

Behind the French infantry, Marshal Murat‘s Dragoons sweep forward in pursuit of Tutchkov’s fleeing men.

Move 41 11:55

On the left the Russian infantry battalion engages the French infantry bound in square, who are putting up a stiff response. Dokhturov joins his Cossacks and send the Hussars around behind the hill, to outflank Soult and his French Gros Talons.

The central battle rages on, and it’s not clear who Fortuna Belli will smile on. Augereau‘s men in reserve move out of l’ordre mixtre to ordre mince, to maximise their firepower.

The French Dragoons have almost completed their wheeling move behind this battle, but come to the attention of the Russian gunners.

Move 42 12:00

The curse of Caecius again sweeps over the battlefield and the visibility falls to 400m.

On the left, the French square finally breaks, leaving the prize of a horse artillery battery to the disorganised Russian infantry. If they can sieze this, they could swing the balance on the left flank.

In the centre, a combination of French artillery and robust musketry confounds the Russian guards, who rout, leaving Tutchkov and his men more vunerable in their struggle to seize the French artillery battery.

The French Dragoons weather the hail of cannon fire directed their way. The presence of this cavalry threat forces Russian infantry into square.

The last of Davout‘s III Corps has arrived onto the battlefield on the extreme right.

Move 43 12:05

Caecius reduces the visibility to 200m.

On the left, Dokhturov’s Cossacks and Hussars lose the cavalry duel with Soult and his French Cuirassiers. The Russians flee, forcing their nearby infantry into square under threat from the victorious French Cuirassiers.

In the centre, Tutchkov and his men fail to seize the French artillery battery, which is overrun by French Dragoons. Both sides have troops retiring from the mêlée. Tutchkov does manage to rally the Russian guards back into a disorganised state.

Move 44 12:10

Caecius relents a little and the visibility rises to 400m.

On the left, Dokhturov’s cavalry continue to retreat from les Gros Talons. The Russian infantry, which fought so hard to capture the French horse artillery battery, breaks from the square under intense artillery fire, so the gun becomes unmanned again. A French battalion moves down the hill to recapture it.

In the centre, Tutchkov’s men rally as they watch the French Dragoons wheel back towards their own lines. Behind Tutchkov, a regiment of Russian Dragoons from up, ready for the fray.

Move 45 12:15

Visibility returns to normal again, and the artillery batteries both sides restart their deadly work.

On the left, the French infantry recapture the horse artillery battery. Behind the Russian lines, Dokhturov fails to rally his cavalry, in blind terror from their recent fight.

Russian artillery breaks the French infantry battalion on the hill as it tries to reman the foot artillery unit in the centre of the battlefield. Russian Dragoons bear down on them as they run for their lives.

Move 46 12:20

Caecius frowns again and the visibility falls to 400m.

The left flank action sees the recaptured French horse artillery disrupt the Russian infantry on the hill, and to their left the retreating Russian battalion halts and begins reforming.

In the centre , a cavalry mêlée rages over the hill where the Russian guns are. No one can claim this prize yet. So far the Russian Dragoons are having the worst of the battle. To the rear of this fight, Somov’s men continue to march onwards towards the French.

If the Russians can break the French centre, the battle will be theirs.

Move 47 12:25

The visibility remains restricted at 400m, which prevents the Russian main battery from helping the battle in the centre.

Fortuna Belli smiles on the Russians and gives their hearts a priceless boost. Their Dragoons rout the French, and behind them the infantry ready to storm the hill and capture the central cannon.

A moment of crisis has arisen for the French. Le Chapeau goes amongst his infantry to rally them, ready for a counterattack. He calls for his chosen children, the Imperial Guard to leave the hill and ready themselves for the attack.

On the left, Dohktorov rallies the Russian Hussars.

Move 48 12:30

The visibility rises again, and the artillery duel recommences.

The central hill now belongs to the Russians, who begin to reman the artillery battery. To their left, a fierce firefight routs one Russian battalion, with another disrupted as the French counterattack begins.

Before the hill, French Cuirassiers and Russian Dragoons begin another cavalry mêlée, with both sides holding their own.

The Imperial Guard obey the Emperor, and a battalion of Young and Old Guard make their way towards the fray.

On the left flank, Russian infantry begin marching forwards, after breaking out of square.

Move 49 12:35

The battle springs back into life on the left, as Russian infantry makes its way towards the village of Schloditten, which they last tried to storm at 10am.

The isolated French battalion to the left of Eylau, with its captured horse artillery battery tries to slow the advance of 3 Russian battalions.

In the centre, the Russians open up with their captured cannons, disrupting the French infantry further, as Augereau‘s men try to rally under his and Le Chapeau‘s praises and admonishments. The cavalry mêlée before teh hill continues, with both sides disorganised and vunerable to one last effort.

Move 50 12:40

The Russian advance into the village of Schloditten meets stiff French resistance, and the Russians faulter before the hail of fire they meet.

The isolated French battalion to the left of Eylau just about holds its own, as the Russians prepare to outflank it.

In the centre, Fortuna Belli smiles on the French cavalry as the Russians rout; their cavalry in turn disrupting their infantry on the hill with the prized cannon. Tolstoi’s reserve of cavalry forces its way through the narrow gap of retreating and advancing men, wondering what inferno they will meet once they face off against the французский.

Move 51 12:45

The Russians capture back their horse artillery battery before Eylau, sending the French back in confusion, who run for the hill above the town. However, one Russian battalion to the left of this brigade run from French artillery fire.

Before the village of Schloditten, an empasse is reached, with neither the Russians or French yielding.

The Russians secure the foot artillery battery in the centre of the battle, with infantry occupying the hill.

The French ready themselves for a major counterattack on this key sector, involving the Young Guard. Behind them, Le Chapeau prepares a cavalry surprise for les Russes.

The ebb and flow of cavalry behind this fight continues as Tolstoi’s troopers continue to make their way through gap between the hills.

Mars, breaker of armies, nods and approves at this strife.

Move 52 12:50

Caecius frowns again and the visibility falls to 400m.

The Russians conslidate their grip around the left of the battlefield, but are still stalled before Schloditten.

The French counter attack regains the central artillery unit with help from the Young Guard. To the rear, both Napoleon and Marshal Murat steady the Dragoons. On the right, Marshal Davout leads French Infantry towards Osten-Sacken’s men on the hill.

Napoleon sends a messenger to recall some of Soult‘s heavy cavalry to help reestablish command of the battlefield on the right flank.

Move 53 12:55

The Russians fall back before Schloditten. For the moment the village remains in French hands. Half of Soult‘s heavy cavalry swings around with the Marshal, convinced that for now the position on the left is stable.

In the centre, the French push on into Somov’s men, who begin to retreat. to counteract this setback, Russian Hussars charge the French infantry, forced into squares. French Dragoons begin working their way towards this threat to relieve their comrades.

Move 54 13:00

The battle on the right dominates the action. The Hussar attack on the French squares becomes a larger mêlée as the French Dragoons begin to counterattack, with French Cuirassiers not far behind. To the left of this, the battle around the hill rages, with the Russian infantry attack by Somov slowly becoming disorganised. On the right, close to Davout, another cavalry fight breaks out, with the Russians getting the worst of it.

Move 55 13:05

On the right, the infantry battle still rages. It must soon reach a crisis, as the Russian attack progresses from order to disorder; battlefield entropy displayed. The Russian Hussars slowly buckle under the French Dragoons attack, with Napoleon watching on. By Davout, the honours in the cavalry mêlée goes to the French, and their presence will doubtless pin down the Russian infantry guards close by.

Thus the battle on the center-right looks as though it is slowly turning towards the French. But the capriciousness of Fortuna Belli now smiles on the Russians as L’Estocq and his Prussians have beaten Marshal Ney‘s Corps to the battlefield. Instantly a messenger sets off from the watching French Carabiniers to alert the high command of this dramatic change.

Move 56 13:10

Cuirassiers tip the battle’s balance towards the French in the cavalry mêlée in the centre, as the Russian Dragoons recoil in disarray. The French also recapture the cannon on the hill to the immediate left of this action. The crisis in the centre for the French is passing.

On the left however, it’s a different story. L’Estocq’s Prussians continue to pour onto the battlefield. The messenge from the watchful French Carabiniers reaches Soult‘s heavy cavalry, who instantly stop their deployment, counter to Napoleon’s request.

“Tell l’Empereur that I would never disobey him, unless a tremedous need arises. Tell him les Prussiens have arrived, and until we know what their numbers are, I request command of these men on the left.”

The messenger nods and sets off to find Le Chapeau. Which young Captain would want to deliver a message like that?

Move 57 13:15

The Russian attack on the centre has ended, again in failure. Count Bennigsen, silently curses Fortuna Belli, who has now thrice nearly blessed his commands, but each time favoured the French. Next time, he vows, next time, together with die Preußen they’ll push the French off those hills.

L’Estocq’s Prussians march onwards, Hohenfreidberger Marsch playing, Ordinärfahne flying. Perhaps, today, the Prussians will perform better than they did last year against die Französisch…

Move 58 13:20

Caecius, tired of carrying his load of snow, decides to let it fall as the visibility falls to 400m.

The quaking French Captain delivers Soult‘s rebuff to Napoleon who ponders whether to shout at him for this petulance. He thinks better and send the messenger back, saying that he reminds Soult that on his judgement, the battle may hang. In truth, he can see that the Russian tide has ebbed and the crisis has passed. He sends a regiment of Dragoons around to aid the faithful Soult who turns the cavalry around, and they ride back to the left flank. On the extreme left, the French Carabiniers are being overwhelmed by sheer numbers of Russian Hussars, Cossacks and Dragoons. Meanwhile, L’Estocq’s Prussians still march on. The French infantry in Schloditten begin fighting off another Russian infantry attack, who would prefer the village to be theirs, rather than Preußen. In the smoke, the chef de battalion notes the arrival of les Prussiens on the hill. Will they hold on?

Move 59 13:25

The French Carabiniers rout after being flanked by Russian Dragoons. The path is open for the Russian cavalry if they seize the moment, but to their left, their infantry retires from trying to storm Schloditten.

In the centre, Somov and Tutchkov lead the weary Russian infantry back to their starting positions.

The French take the opportunity to reorganise their lines.

Move 60 13:30

L’Estocq’s orders the first Prussian battalion on the hill overlooking Schloditten into column, ready for attack.

In the village, French infantry fire on the Russian cavalry, disorganising the Dragoons.

Caecius, still restricts the visibility to 400m. The Generals on each side cannot see the reorganisation going on, as each side readies itself for one last push before dusk.

Move 61 13:35

Caecius, finally relents and full visibility returns.

“Where is Ney? Has anyone seen Ney?” calls out Napoleon, who knows he can win if Ney arrives soon. On the hill he sees the continued arrival of more Prussiens. “Surely these people know they are beaten?”.

Soult rallies the shaken Carabiniers, bringing them back to face the enemy.

The French are as prepared now for another assault as they can be, as the bulk of their cavalry sweeps around to the left. Le Chapeau intends to punch a hole through the screen of Russian cavalry by Doktorov’s men, to sever the Russian and Prussians apart, then begin rolling up the Russian line. To help this, the French artillery concentrate their fire on the Russian Hussars, disrupting them. He orders a field battery to relocate to the left of Eylau to support this.

Move 62 13:40

L’Estocq’s orders the third Prussian battalion on the hill overlooking Schloditten into column, ready for the attack.

From a distance, Mars sees this gathering storm and nods in approval, quoting the Emperor’s own maxim.

When you have resolved to fight a battle, collect your whole force. Dispense with nothing. A single battalion sometimes decides the day.

Always attack with superior force… Soult takes the Carabiniers back into the line, together with the Cuirassiers and Dragoons, as the French prepare a storm of their own.

Move 63 13:45

The Prussians now have a cannon on the hill above Schloditten, and troops in abundance. The French in the village prepare themselves pour lembrassé par une demoiselle.

In the gap between the hill above Eylau and the cavalry, a battalion breaks under Russian artillery fire.

“God is on the side with the best artillery”, muses Napoleon, as he sees them flee.

Move 64 13:50

The French battalion that broke under artillery fire continues to retreat, with their space being filled by French Dragoons.

Move 65 13:55

“Mitt Gott für König und Vaterland!” The Prussians sweep down off the hill towards Schloditten and the waiting French.

The French cavalry now stretches across the plain on the left hand flank.

Elsewhere, apart from the exchange of cannon fire, and the fall of a steady few on each side to this steely punch, the battlefield is quiet. The shades of the fallen will be reclaimed by Somnus and Mors and in due course be taken to visit Charon, the ferryman.

Move 66 14:00

“Rache!” The Prussians, motivated by emnity following their collapse at Jena-Auerstädt, force their way at bayonet point into Schloditten. Woe betide any Frenchman in the village who fails to run before this maelstrom.

In anticipation of losing the village, Soult leads the Carabiniers and Cuirassiers forward again. Behind the village, the Russian cavalry look nervously on as this wave advances towards their shoreline.

Move 67 14:05

The French are evicted from Schloditten as delighted Prussians claim the village. The exit of the French troops makes Soult pause in his advance. Behind him, the French Dragoons wheel. In front, more Prussians advance across the hills behind Schloditten. And finally, a French foot battery has finally made its way to support the current one on the plain. Now, how to proceed…

Move 68 14:10

With Schloditten secured by one battalion of die Preußen, the rest march back towards the hill where they just launched their attack.

Napoleon, watches les Prussiens march on towards the centre. Best to counterattack when they are fully committed and strung out on the march, maybe fifteen minutes from now. He sends a message to Soult to begin the attack no later than 2:30 pm, and forwards on a pair of infantry battalions to the left. Will les Russes interfere with his plan to roll up their right flank?

Move 69 14:15

Count Bennigsen certainly has plans for the Russians and calls for the horse artillery on the right flank to move to the centre, so they can blast a hole through the French lines. This will weaken his right, but he counts on the march of die Preußen to distract the French. The first Horse battery close to Eylau begins limbering up. Napoleon, watches this development with interest. Perhaps he should send some infantry to back up Soult once he charges…

Soult has rallied the French troops evicted from Schloditten, and gets them to march as fast as they can out of the way of the cavalry, who look on contemptuously at their scurrying.

Move 70 14:20

Napoleon, watches les Russes turn back from the valley between Schloditten and the hill overlooking Eylau, as the horse artillery makes its way across the valley beneath the hills where the Russian main development lies. So, withdraw from the right to strengthen the centre.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.” “Yes, sire.”

Soult has seen this too, and has swung the French Dragoons around to ride out onto the plain to lead the attack.

On their left flank, the Russian cavalry receive orders to move. Count Bennigsen wants one more push through the centre, as he hopes today’s attrition has weakened French resolve enough for success.

Move 71 14:25

The Russian infantry withdraw, forming columns in the process. This draws the sting of French cannon fire, as bees circle around a honey pot.

The French Dragoons now see this prey retreating before them. Now to close the distance between and turn retreat into rout and thereby win themselves fame.

Russian horse artillery dashes through the vale between each army. The French gunners try to stop them, their Russian counterparts return their fire to aid their comrades. Fortuna Belli, so far favours the bold, and the horse artillery rides on.

The infantry Napoleon sent to help on the left still march around, but the evident withdrawal of the Russsians is too good an opportunity to miss. He orders a general advance on the left flank.

Behind the line of hills clad with Russian green, their cavalry continues to reform behind the centre, ready for their commander’s new order. In the French centre, a battalion breaks under cannon fire.

Move 72 14:30

On the left, the French sweep forward, Dragoons chasing the retiring Russian infantry, followed in turn by the French infantry, supported by a battalion of Les Immortels.

Soult orders his heavy cavalry into column, ready for a punch through Les Russes.

The Russian cavalry facing them have also received orders to return to the centre, and begin withdrawing.

L’Estocq’s Prussians have begun reaching the hill overlooking Eylau, and are consequently strung out in order of march.

Count Bennigsen nods and a mass cannonade signals the start of the next Russian attack on the centre-right, and he hopes the horse artillery will help blow a hole through the French that is just appearing. The Russian horse artillery obliges by continuing the dash through the vale between each army.

Indifferent to the struggle below, Caecius, pours hail on all, and visibility closes down to 400m.

Move 73 14:35

Thick as the snow flakes on a wintry day
When Jove the Lord of counsel down on men
His snow storm sends and manifests his power
Hushed are the winds the flakes continuous fall
That the high mountain tops and jutting crags
And lotus covered meads are buried deep
And man’s productive labours of the field
On hoary Ocean’s beach and bays they lie
The approaching waves their bound o’er all
Is spread by Jove the heavy veil of snow

Caecius obeys Jove’s call and redoubles his hail as visibility closes down to 200m.

Soult curses under breath. The Russian cavalry disappear into the snows, and could have retreated for all he knows, squandering his chance. However, the “Berliner Blau caterpillar” is still crawling across the plain. If he could cut this off at the head, he could roll the entire body of men up in a morass of routing men.

He turns his heavy cavalry column around to begin the sweep towards the “caterpillar”.

L’Estocq at the tail of the Prussian “Berliner Blau caterpillar” welcomes the snows as cover for this manouveur.

Soult was right, the Russian cavalry take advantage of the snows to retire towards the centre.

Tutchkov contemplates the next roll of the dice as he leads the Russian centre forwards against the French. He hopes the snows will continue to fall. The horse artillery have just about arrived to help his men.

Augereau tries to rally the fleeing infantry, imploring them to return to the line. They stop running.

Napoleon knows better than to curse the weather in case it gets worse. He calls “Where is Ney? Has anyone seen Ney?”

Move 74 14:40

Caecius relents a little and the visibility lifts to 400m. This is still not enough for Soult who still cannot see the enemy, but follows instead the French Dragoons, who in turn are closing down on the Russian infantry. They form square, as the French infantry and cavalry bear down on them through the snows.

L’Estocq moves up towards the head of the Prussian “Berliner Blau caterpillar”, which is hard pressed under artillery fire.

Behind the Russian centre, cavalry gathers. By Somov and Tolstoi’s men they work their way through the ravine of men. In front of them, Tutchkov’s men begin to press the French infantry in the central hill. The French foot artillery and infantry become disorganised from the combined Russian infantry and horse artillery.

Move 75 14:45

On the left. the French infantry engage one of the Russian squares, breaking them. The Dragoons behind them ride forward in pursuit, with the nodding approval of Fortuna Belli. The Russian men are fleeing for their lives, as they know the French will give them no quarter if they catch them. Soult still follows the French Dragoons and the sound of musketry.

On the hill to the right of this action, a battalion of les Immortels exchanges fire with the tenacous remnants of the Russian Guards. The honours are even so far, but a battalion of Young Guard start a flanking attack on the Russians, which surely they cannot withstand.

The head of the “Berliner Blau caterpillar” breaks under artillery fire and the men flee, without even firing a shot. L’Estocq urges the men to stand, but instead they run.

A tremendous fight envelops the French centre. The artillery battery falls to the Russians, who promptly swing the guns around and begin to reman them, having taken the position at bayonet point. Russian troops to their left become disorganised under musket fire from French troops holding the firing line.

To steady the French position, Marshal Murat launches his reserve of Cuirassiers, who come under infantry fire. In return the Russian Dragoons have made their way through the ravine of men and begin to threaten French infantry into square. The battle is finely balanced and could tilt either way.

Move 76 14:50

Caecius tires and full visibility returns.

Count Bennigsen takes the opportunity to survey the battlefield. His right is more imperilled than he had bargained for; the progress of his attack on the centre is slower than he had wished.

Now it can see again, the massed French cavalry attack now latches sight onto its target. The French Dragoons force more Russian infantry into squares. The fleeing Russian troops push more infantry into disorder as they plunge through the serried marching ranks, curses being exchanged between the two groups of men.

Dokhturov wheels a regiment of Hussars around to face off against this threat before Soult’s men arrive and cause even more chaos.

The Russian guardsmen hold their own against les Immortels and the Young Guard. They must hold to shield the steady march of the “Berliner Blau caterpillar”. L’Estocq leads the head of the column of men towards the battle enveloping the centre, towards the Young Guard advancing into sustained cannon fire from the newly deployed horse artillery. This pressure has allowed the French to recapture for now the hill where their foot artllery battering is deployed. Although the Russian infantry flee, the French Cuirassiers will crumbles under supporting artillery fire. Possession of the central artillery battery will allow the victor to pour a hail of fire onto the loser, so this prize is fiercely contested; a bone between two dogs who snap and snarl.

Le Chapeau senses that here the battle can be lost for the French and stands behind the hill, rallying the stragglers and returning them to the fray.

Davout’s men begin attacking Tolstoi’s infantry upon the hill to the extreme right, but the newly deployed Russian Dragoons force some of the French infantry into square.

Move 77 14:55

A universe of battle now engulfs the entire front. On the left, a cavalry mêlée starts between the French Dragoons and Russian Hussars. French infantry columns rout Russian infantry in squares, adding to the growing chaos. Behind the columns, Soult and the heavy cavalry charge onwards, seeking to enter the gap in the infantry ahead of them.

The Russian guardsmen still hold on against les Immortels and the Young Guard, but they are becoming increasingly demoralised as the Young Guard envelops them in enfilading fire.

The “Berliner Blau caterpillar” melts under artillery fire. L’Estocq watches on as another battalion runs. Why will his men not fight today?

Le Chapeau part exalts, part chides his men as he stands on the hill. For now, the French have recpatures this ground. To the left, Russian horse artillery thin out the ranks of the Young Guard who imprudently marched towards them, and they stagger, disorganised. To the right, another cavalry mêlée breaks out. At the extreme right of the battlefield, Davout‘s men retreat from Russian cannon fire.

Move 78 15:00

On the left, the cavalry mêlée grows as Soult leads some of the heavy cavalry into the fray in support of the French Dragoons. Russian cavalry swing round to help as a counterbalance. The French infantry in columns drive onwards and the Russian fomations melt like ice; the men run and run. Even the Russian guardsmen run too. Now no infantry stand between the central Russian artillery batteries and the French.

Count Bennigsen‘s fears now overtake his original bold plan. He will lose the battle if he can’t stop this haemorrhage in men causing more damage. He can only do this by diverting troops from the central attack, enough to hold off the French, whilst still pressing the centre. The battle has become one of attrition.

Who will give up first? Fortuna Belli gives no hints on her favours.


Move 79 15:05

The smile of Fortuna Belli goes to the French on the left of the battlefield, as Russian cavalry and infantry flee before the onslaught; their haemorrhage in men continues.

The Young Guard com uner attack from a battalion of les Teufels. Both sides become disordered in the ensuing fire fight.

In the centre, Le Chapeau moves back to the Imperial Guard, leaving the troops on the hill defending the cannon to themselves. The French struggle to hold back les Russes:-

‘Русские войска.
Росейским штыком,
Сюда шли мы не гулять.’

The French and Russian troops continue to push against each other; trial under fire.

Move 80 15:10

Still the French cavalry sweep all before them on the left side. A single Russian battalion forms a shaken square to act as cover for their reteating troops, as French infantry columns march on. 3 French battalions in L’ordre mixte march up the hill towards the Russian cannons.

По войскам шрапнелью будем мы стрелять,
А шашками сами себя защищать! ‘

Despite the song, the Russian cannons fail to halt this advance.

The Young Guard repulse les Teufels, who retreat. L’Estocq watches his men crumble before the advancing Old Guard, sent forward by Le Chapeau at the crucial time.

The central hill lies empty for the moment, claimed by neither the French or the Russians; only by their dead or wounded.

Russian Dragoons by Tolstoi force Davout‘s men into squares.

Move 81 15:15

The Russians are close to total collapse on the left, as horses and infantry flee from the advancing French. The Russian infantry make their way towards the woods, which offers some degree of shelter.

Count Bennigsen‘s order for recall from the centre has yet to take place. He can only look on, and hope that somehow, things do not get worse.

The Russian gunners in the main battery carve a hole through l’ordre mixte marching towards them; the central battalion retreats in confusion.

In the centre, the Russians send out another wave of men, which carries them onto the hill where the French battery rests.

On the extreme right, Russian cavalry ride down the French artillery which guards this flank. Although the horsemen suffer casualties, their momentum takes them through and they extract their revenge on their tormentors, the French gunners, who run for their lives.

Move 82 15:20

So now the heavy hand of Mars gives grief,
To neither side his fury yields relief,
Thus equal deaths are dealt with equal chance;
By turns they quit their ground by turns advance:
Victors and vanquish’d in the various field,
Nor wholly overcome, nor wholly yield,
The gods from heav’n survey the fatal strife,
And mourn the miseries of human life.

The French attack the left flank; the Russians yield.
The Russians attack the right flank; the French yield.

This lever has its fulcrum on the central battery, itself the subject of martial ebb and flow; once more possessed by Tutchkov’s men.

The battle could go either way.

Move 83 15:25

The Russian withdrawal from the centre removes the horse artillery units which so successfully allowed Tutchkov to claim the central battery, which in turn begins to withdraw. The Russian infantry clings onto the hill against French attacks to shield this. On the right, Davout ‘s men retreat in confusion before the Russians, and Murat rallies what is left of the French cavalry.

Napoleon cannot see how far his left wing has pushed, how much damage they have inflicted. But he knows he could still lose the battle if his right wing disintegrates, so he recalls some of Soult‘s cavalry, whilst still calling out for Marshal Ney and his men.

On the left, the French advance begins to slow. Raking fire from the Prussian artillery on the hill above Schloditten routs the French Dragoons, and Dokhturov rallies a line of Russian cavalry to face off against the French. The retreating Russian infantry run for the shelter of the woods before them. The French infantry continue to press their Russian counterparts, but they hold.

On the hill before Eylau, the Russian artillery continue to slow up the French infantry advance.

Count Bennigsen sends the horse artillery recalled from the centre to the gap between the woods and the hill, at right angles to the main line. If they get there in time, he hopes his hard pressed troops can rally behind them.

Move 84 15:30

Dokhturov now forms an ordered battle line, in the shape of a crescent against the French, now reduced to 2 heavy cavalry units. The French infantry on the left forms a long line. On the hill, the Russian artillery has beaten off remaining columns of l’ordre mixte.

The Russian horse artillery batteries, direct by their commander in chief, race towards the gap between him and the woods. In the woods, the fleeing Russian and Prussian infantry find shelter and hope.

In the centre, Augereau leads the French infantry forward once more against Tutchkov’s Russians.

On the right, Davout ‘s men cling on, reformed into squares.

Move 85 15:35

The horse artillery units taken from the Russian centre now deploy in the gap, as ordered. The heavy French cavalry now see this new danger, and the reformed cavalry under Dokhturov.

Soult responds to teh Emperors request by sending back the French Dragoons under his command back to the right flank.

The Russians pull back from the centre, but their cavalry on the right of the battlefield have forced numerous French infantry battalions into square. A good target if they can exploit the situation.

Move 86 15:40

Dokhturov’s cavalry now surround the French Carabiniers, who fight on though threatened with envelopment by their enemy. The Russian horse artillery give a whiff of grapeshot towards the French Cuirassiers, who dare not attack any further forwards.

The Russian infantry give as good as they get on the left; the high tide for the French has passed.

The centre now becomes silent. Not so on the right, as the Russian and French infantry clash, with les Français getting the worst.

Move 87 15:45

The French begin their retreat on the left. Count Bennigsen’s gamble to send the horse artillery from his centre to aid his threatened right wing has paid off.

In the centre a void has opened between the two armies, where recently bitter battle play raged.

On the right, the French are still being tested by Osten-Sacken and his men as the captured cannons fire back at their previous owners. Napoleon busies himself rallying his men to continue the fight.

Move 88 15:50

Even the Russians notice the French tide has ebbed on the left. Dokhturov gathers his men to begin the pursuit at a respectful distance.

Napoleon can see that some of Soult‘s cavalry has rounded the hill behind Eylau, making their way directly to his hard pressed right flank. His men are still trying to extricate themselves from Osten-Sacken’s attack.

Move 89 15:55

The French pull back on the left. Count Bennigsen signals for an advance to follow them.

The French have virtually disengaged on the right, with an isolated square on the extreme of the flank as the obstacle before Osten-Sacken’s Russians. A lone ensign rides away from the square carrying the regiments eagle, lest the worst befall his comrades.

Move 90 16:00

Nox, the goddess of the night begins to sweep towards the battlefield to see how her children Somnus and Mors are coping with so many fallen from both sides. Her shadow casts a veil over the battlefield, and the visibility falls to 1200m.

The armies continue to separate; military mitosis, with both returning to their starting positions.

Move 91 16:05

The veil of Nox sweeps down, and the visibility falls to 1100m.

Le Chapeau forms a line of infantry at right angles to the main battery, to allow his right wing to shelter behind, away from Osten-Sacken’s Russians who close in on the isolated French square.

Soult leads the left wing of the French back to the relative safety of the main army.

Move 92 16:10

The relentless onrush of Nox reduces the visibility falls to 1000m.

The Russian infantry back short work of the French square on the right, and the survivors flee for their life, hoping that the gathering gloom will save them from pursuing Russian cavalry.

On the left, the French have almost made the hills above Eylau.

On the right, the French battalion running seems to have a good distance between themselves and the Russians, who are a little dilatory in their pursuit.

Le Chapeau urges the columns of infantry onwards. He must shepherd his men, and preserve as many as he can for further action.

The Russian lines look similar to their original positions, but with much fewer men.

Move 93 16:15

The veil of Nox continues to close over the battlefield, and the visibility falls to 900m.

Le Chapeau returns to the main battery above Eylau and watches the Russian advance. Two more hours of light, another assault and his army would crumble. But night is coming. And Ney?

Move 94 16:20

Dusk draws on and the veil of Nox continues, reducing the visibility to 800m.

Napoleon‘s silent prayers are answered as a young captain makes his way before the Emperor, to tell him Ney and his whole division is two hours away, but is making all speed. They should be here by 6:30pm, no later, and that the cavalry head the advance. Instantly the Emperor’s reflex switch from defence to attack. About half and hour light left. One more push on the left, to give Ney space to deploy and roll up the Russian flank tomorrow. He sends orders out to Soult.

Tomorrow’s battle is far from the minds of the French battalion running on the right flank. They are only concerned with the immediate danger from the Russian cavalry pursuing them.

Move 95 16:25

Twilight sparkles the ice on the ground. Nox is coming, reducing the visibility to 700m.

Twilight also sparkles on the drawn sabres of the Russian cavalry on the right flank, as they steadily colse the distance on the routing French infantry. This sight gives a sense of urgency to the retreat of the French on the right.

Move 96 16:30

Half an hour before the arrival of Nox, and the visibility falls to 600m.

The Russian cavalry close the distance to the routing Frenchmen, as Fortuna Belli smiles on the horsemen. The scene is terrible to behold, but not for Mars, who nods in approval.

Marshal Murat forms the cavalry up and leads them down onto the plain before Dokturov’s men.

“Surely they wouldn’t attack again, would they?”

Move 97 16:35

The gunners on each side stare into the gloom as Nox continues her approach. The visibility falls to 500m.

Marshal Murat leads the French cavalry forward against the Russians. Orders are barked out, infantry fold into squares and the Russian cavalry stand on the snows awaiting the next hammer blow.

On the right flank, the Russian horsemen wade into the French infantry, taking them off the battlefield. Precious few will ever see la belle France again.

Move 98 16:40

The veil of Nox sweeps down, and the visibility falls to 400m.

Steel on steel, sabre to sabre, the cavalry clash once more on the snows. Flanking fire from a Russian square ripples into an attacking French cavalry column.

Count Bennigsen cannot see the fight through the gloom, but trusts in his men’s resolve to stand firm. Napoleon hopes otherwise.

Move 99 16:45

Nox and her dark cloak reduces the visibility to 300m, and at this level of light, even Napoleon cannot see his men push half of Dokhturov’s men back, or the Russian square force back the French cavalry attacking them. He sends the Old Guard forward, safe in the belief that they will always cause, but never suffer harm.

Move 100 16:50

Straining into the gloom, Nox reduces the visibility to 200m. Now even the gunners cannot see each other and the cannons fall silent at last. Dokhturov’s men hold, despite the cries of Marshal Murat. The French do not break through.

Move 101 16:55

The cavalry battle on the left peters out amidst oaths and curses from both sides. Men can no longer see their own swords, let alone their enemies. Reluctantly the French break off the attack: the Russians have held.

The Imperial Guard rout one Russian square, but even they cannot see to pursue.

Nightfall arrives with Nox, as the visibility reduces to zero. Her children, Somnus and Mors, gather each of the fallen in turn and carry the shade away from the battlefield. How many of the wounded will succumb, and require their tender care during the bitter night ahead as Nox est perpetua una dormienda claims them?

Napoleon knows his army has been lucky to survive the day and eagerly awaits Ney’s arrival. By that time, the Russians will have begun withdrawing from the battlefield to lick their wounds and ready themselves for another day. The Emperor consoles himself as he prepares the bulletin for tomorrow.

Spread the following reports in an unofficial manner. They are however true…The Russian army is greatly weakened – that the Russian army demands peace…”. But the army knows better; “Mentir comme un bulletin”.

Tomorrow’s dawn brings the full extent of French losses to the Emperor’s eyes, for even he cannot evade this awful truth. As the Emperor and his Marshals ride across the snows, carpeted by the dead and dying, an exchange is heard by the survivors.

Napoleon to Soult:- “Marshal, the Russians have done us great harm”.

Soult to Napoleon:- “And we them, our bullets were not made of cotton”.

Ney:- “Quelle massacre! Et sans resultant.”

Victoria awards the day to the Russians and Count Bennigsen. Fortuna Belli has smiled and cursed both armies in equal measures. The Russians came close to winning outright; although they lost half their army in the fight, so did the French, and Napoleon did not beat them. But the French lost four artillery batteries to the Russians, who lost none in return. That is reason enough for her to give her blessings the les Russes est les Prussiens.

The entire battle sequence is available as an animated gif, best viewed in Windows picture viewer

The Generals fighting this battle were

Emperor Napoleon I

Count Bennigsen