The Battle of Montereau was fought near Montereau-Fault-Yonne on 18 February 1814 and resulted in the victory of the French under Napoleon Bonaparte against the Austrians and the Württembergers under the King of Württemberg.
Background[edit | edit source]
Following his successes with the Six Days Campaign (10 to 14 February 1814) in smashing the Allied drive on Paris, Napoleon headed southward towards Seine River where the main Austrian Army under Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg, was threatening Paris from the southeast. Napoleon stopped the advance on Paris at Mormant (about 30 miles from Paris) on 17 February, some French units had to march 60 miles in 36 hours to reach Mormant.
This action, plus defeats suffered by the Prussians to the north, caused the Prince of Schwarzenberg to order a retreat. Schwarzenberg left Frederick I of Württemberg, to command a rearguard at the key village of Montereau, which was located at the confluence of the Rivers Seine and Yonne.
Battle[edit | edit source]
Napoleon ordered Marshal Claude Victor-Perrin, duc de Belluno, to Montereau, but Victor's force was slow in marching on Montereau, this gave time for Württemberg to strengthen his hasty positions. Harassing Cavalry attacks by General Claude Pierre Pajol, managed to push back outposts and slow the improvements of the defenses, but could do little else without the support of the infantry force of Marshall Victor-Perrin.
At 9:00 AM on the 18th Victor arrived at Montereau. Furious with Victor’s slow advance, Napoleon replaced him with Étienne Maurice Gérard.
Gérard set to work establishing fire superiority over Württemberg’s defending troops. By early afternoon artillery of the Imperial Guard had arrived and allowed Gérard to silence Württemberg’s batteries and bombard the village.
At 3:00PM a French attack captured a ridge forming the key to Montereau’s defences. Frederick I of Württemberg subsequently ordered a retreat, but it was soon turned into a rout by a cavalry forces led by Claude Pierre Pajol leading a sweep into the village and Allied rear. Pajol’s cavalry charge also prevented the Allies from detonating demolition charges on two key bridges allowing further pursuit.
Conclusion[edit | edit source]
The Allies suffered 6,000 casualties and lost 15 cannon; the French suffered 2,500 casualties. The army of Frederick I of Württemberg was in full retreat and that of Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg fled eastwards towards Troyes in disarray.
Battlefield Today[edit | edit source]
Currently, part of this historic battle site near the village of Montereau-Fault-Yonne is being developed as a theme park celebrating the life of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The park, Napoleonland, is set for completion in 2017. 
References[edit | edit source]
- Eggenberger. pg.284
- Chandler. The Campaigns of Napoleon. pg.980
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Chandler, David G. The Campaigns of Napoleon. Scribner, 1966.
- Chandler, David. Dictionary of the Napoleonic wars. Wordsworth editions, 1999.
- Eggenberger, D. An Encyclopaedia of Battles. Dover Publications inc., 1985.
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