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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Battle of Mormans, 17th February 1814

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Battle of Mormans, 17th February 1814

Postby Mark » February 17th, 2014, 8:24 pm

Another Napoleonic battle that I am ashamed to say I do not know enough about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Mormans

Fought on this day in 1814 and ended in French victory.

Mark
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Re: Battle of Mormans, 17th February 1814

Postby Waggoner » February 17th, 2014, 9:43 pm

Mark,

Based on the Wiki stump, I would say that we are not likely to learn anymore about it either! For a second, I thought that they were in Utah :-)

All the best,

Gary
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Re: Battle of Mormans, 17th February 1814

Postby Mark » February 18th, 2014, 11:54 am

There doesn't appear to much online about it. Might be a book out there that goes into detail. If I find one I will post details below.

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Re: Battle of Mormans, 17th February 1814

Postby Mark » February 19th, 2014, 7:03 pm

Thanks, Dominique!

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Re: Battle of Mormans, 17th February 1814

Postby Andrew » February 23rd, 2014, 10:25 am

I studied Mormant as part of my research into the campaign of 1814 and visited the battlefield. It is a very interesting battle as it essentially pitted a strong French cavalry force against slightly weaker, but all arms, Russian force.

The battle took place after Napoleon had defeated Blucher’s army at the battles of Champaubert, Montmirail and Vauchamps on the 10th, 11th and 14th Feb. However, during this time, Schwarzenberg’s Bohemian army had pushed back the weak French force facing it and was beginning to threaten Paris. Napoleon rushed south to join Victor, Oudinot and Macdonald and eliminate this threat. Joining them at Guignes he immediately gave orders to attack, having identified that Count Pahlen’s advance guard (of Wittgenstein’s corps) had over stretched itself and was isolated.

On 17 Feb the French started their advance. Although Napoleon had gathered about 40,000 men, only a small proportion of these were engaged; essentially only the V and VI Cavalry Corps, a total of about 6,500 men. Most of whom were the very experienced dragoon regiments that Napoleon had drawn back from Spain; indeed, Trelliard’s division had arrived just the evening prior to the action having marched from the peninsula! Whilst these ‘Spanish dragoons’ had failed to impose themselves on the British, they were to spread terror amongst the allied cavalry in France.

Pahlen’s force consisted of about 1,800 cavalry (nine sqns of the Soumy and Oviopol Hussars and Tchougouieff Uhlans, and four sqns of cossacks), eight infantry battalions (about 2,500 men of the Estonia, Revel, Selenguinsk and Smolensk Regts and 25th Jaegers) and 14 guns.

At daylight a French battalion (variously named as the 5/32nd or 8/32nd) pushed two battalions of the Revel and Selenguinsk Regiments out of the small town of Mormant. Withdrawing into the open ground, these two battalions were charged by a brigade of Trelliard’s division and forced to surrender.

The rest of Pahlen’s infantry was formed up either side of the road which ran through the centre of the very flat, open battlefield, with the guns on the road and cavalry on either flank. The French cavalry fell on the allied cavalry and quickly overwhelmed them. Some of the French cavalry continued the pursuit for six kilometres. The rest fell on the infantry and guns. The guns and the forward battalions were quickly overrun, but the rearmost were able to form square and attempted to move towards some marshy ground and escape. However, the squares were charged and broken, Kellerman and Milhaud, the two corps commanders, apparently meeting and shaking hands in the centre of the last square to be broken.

The French cavalry pursuing their Russian equivalents eventually found themselves facing five squadrons of the Austrian Joseph Hussars and Schwarzenberg Uhlans who were the advance guard of the V Bavarian Corps. After some stiff initial resistance, these too were broken and fled back causing panic in the following troops. The French cavalry were too exhausted to pursue further.

The Russian admitted to the loss of 2,114 men and nine guns; a substantial percentage of their original force. Forty caissons and the entire baggage of Wittgenstein’s corps also fell into the hands of the French. French casualties were insignificant; about 200 killed and wounded.

This small combat was the prelude to the larger battle at Montereau the next day. All in all, a great French success, albeit on a small scale, and insufficient to turn the tide which eventually saw Napoleon forced to abdicate.

I wrote a full article on this battle for First Empire Magazine; I can send a copy to anyone who is interested in more detail. PM me.
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Re: Battle of Mormans, 17th February 1814

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » February 25th, 2014, 10:25 am

I can recommend Andrew's article. It includes maps and a description of the battlefield today.

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