The battle of Bautzen is a large battle; fought over two days, with 200,000 French commanded by Napoleon against 96,000 Prussians and Russians. This was the second battle of the 1813 campaign. Napoleon had defeated the Prussians at Lutzen just 20 days earlier. On paper it should have been a decisive victory for Napoleon. He won the battle, but he allowed the allies to retreat to the east. The armistice followed, which in turn led to the Austrians joining the allied cause and the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig.
Bautzen is a large battlefield which stretches 4 miles north to south and 2 miles west to east. The allied armies were deployed in sloping ground behind a formidable river. It is not possible to take in the whole battlefield from one position, and we would be taken to five different locations, plus a visit to the city itself.
The first location was situated on a hill where the allied left flank stood. It provided a marvelous view of the whole southern part of the field. Bautzen itself it out of sight behind the trees on the left. This view covers the area from Jenkwitz to Plieskowitz
Quite near to our first location was this large farm complex. I have no idea how old it is, but it looked like parts of it might well have been there in 1813.
For our second location we were taken to the allied right flank near the village of Klix, which can be seen through the trees in the centre of the photograph. This is where Marshal Ney reached the battlefield. He was supposed to arrive much further east, and prevent the allied retreat.
This is the village of Hochkirchen. This church steeple was an aiming point for Marshal Ney as he marched on the allied right flank. However he swung to his right here, and arrived in front of the allied right rather than behind it.
For our third location we moved over the river to the French left. This photo was taken just south of the village of Klix, and shows Ney’s view of the battlefield as he joined the battle.
Taken from the same location, this photo shows Kleists position at Klein Bautzen (centre of photo).
Again taken near the previous photo, this one shows the village of Preititz, where Neys attack struck home.
After four hours walking the battlefield we took a break and visited Bautzen for lunch. It is a typical German walled town, with much of the original wall still standing.
The unusual tower in the centre of Bautzen makes the town easy to identify from a distance.
The river runs just east of the town and is a formidable obstacle
This tower formed part of the town wall. Bautzen is an interesting town to explore with lots of character.
After lunch it was back in the coach, which returned us to the French left centre. We did not visit the French centre or right, and I assume that this is because there was no suitable location to view it from.
Our fourth location was a lay-by just east of the river where General Bertrand was held at bay by Blucher who occupied the Krechnitz Heights. Its capture by Napoleon’s Young Guard forced the Prussians to retreat and signaled the end of the battle.
Our fifth location is on the Krecknitz Heights looking towards Ney’s position at Plieskowitz.
It is easy to miss this memorial to the Prussian dead, which is hidden amongst the trees near to Blucher’s command post.