Author Topic: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout  (Read 11222 times)

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Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #165 on: July 04, 2018, 01:22:06 PM »
Message from Davout, 1600 19 October

To: Emperor Napoleon, Marshals Lannes, Bernadotte, Murat, Augereau
From: Marshal Davout
Time: 1600 19 Oct

Gentlemen!

We are hotly engaged with the enemy on the western edge of Weissenfels.

III Corps faces 3 enemy divisions; one of them large enough to repulse two of my divisions; the other two nearly outnumbering one of my divisions plus my cavalry at 2:1; our glorious emperor stepped in and saved the day in this sector.

To my right, Marshal Bernadotte faces a disordered Prussian division, and has dealt it a bloody nose.

We are preparing to renew the attack in order to pin the Prussians and thus assist General Bernadotte.

General Lannes is coming up behind me and will be crossing the river to cut the Prussians off.


- Davout


Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #166 on: July 04, 2018, 01:22:56 PM »
DISPATCH - Lannes to V Corps

To: V Corps, copies to Marshal Davout, Marshal Bernadotte, Emperor Napoleon
From: Marshal Lannes
Time: 1600 19 October 1806

Generals!

As you can see and hear, we have engaged the Prussians in a major battle at last. The corps of Marshals Davout and Bernadotte are fully engaged against strong Prussian forces. It is time for us to complete our part of the battle and seal the cork to this jug!

General Foucher, III Corps cavalry is too heavily engaged to cross the pontoon bridge and secure the bridgehead. You will instead immediately cross the bridge, secure the bridge head, and then push on to cut the road north out of Weissenfels. When your division has secured the road, send patrols south to the river to determine if the Prussians are guarding the bridges across the Saale and report to me.

Generals Suchet and Gazan, your divisions are to move immediately behind the cavalry to cross the bridge and also make for the road, deploying as in my previous order. Concentrate your artillery to cover the bridges across the Saale after you arrive at the road north out of Weissenfels. Tactical discretion is left to you on exact placement of your troops: find the best ground and position to bottle up any escaping Prussians.

The corps pontoon train should immediately begin construction of a second bridge near to the III Corps bridge. If this is completed before all of the corps has crossed the river we will use it to speed the crossing. If not, construction will continue to allow for the expeditious crossing of reinforcements.

General Foucher, in your movement to across the river and to the road, be on the lookout for Prussian stragglers to take as prisoner and bring to headquarters for questioning.

I will make my headquarters at the bridge. Corps staff and myself will direct traffic to move our troops across the river as quickly as possible. Speed is of the essence! Move quickly and complete our ring of steel around the town! You are under the eyes of the Emperor.

Vive l'Emperor!

Lannes

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #167 on: July 04, 2018, 01:25:10 PM »
The Battle of Weissenfels -- 1600-1800, 19th October

Sire and Marshals [Lannes, Davout, Bernadotte]: 

Please note that you are all not proximate enough to one another to communicate, but you would have all been able to see what I now describe.

On your right, the Emperor chose to commit the artillery reserve of the Imperial Guard and it has shattered the division of cavalry that stood holding that sector.  These horse have begun to flee the town in disorder.

In your center, matters are very grim, the Prussians -- against all expectation -- rose up from their trenches and attacked.  The men of Viallannes' division are profoundly shaken and cannot take much more, but the Prussian numbers in the center continue to outnumber your own men by some 2:1.  It was only the direct intervention of the Emperor that steadied your lines and held the center...for now.

On your left, the fight was a complete stalemate (OOC:  My very first TIE.  Hard to do with the modifiers and everything.)

There is one more battle turn of two hours to be resolved before night.

S!




Davout to Umpire:

May I ask what happened on my left flank - I assume the tie was my troops -- who attacked?  Us?  Them?  Both?


Umpire to Davout:
Should have clearer about that.  Just a bit stunned by the tie.

On the LEFT, Morand and Friant have met with a single, strong, Prussian division.  They slightly outnumber it, but only slightly.

In the CENTER, Gudin and Viallannes have been up against two very large Prussian divisions, one of which is clearly commanded by Blucher.  As indicated, they came on the attack, but it did not break your forces in the center.


Davout to Umpire:

Ah...  so my reserve is already committed!  Hmmm.

Thanks for the clarification.

Is it kosher to compare these reports to the order of battle you issued at the beginning?


Umpire to Davout:

Had you not, matters in the center would have been very grim indeed.

As to comparing, yes, that may be done.

Commanders in the era knew the rough paper strengths of their foe's divisions.  My impression is that it didn't drop to the brigade level or below.  And I need not go on at length re: the difference between paper and field strengths...


Davout to Umpire:

Indeed you do not.  I am running on paper strengths but I'm well aware we are all somewhere below them and probably a long way below them.  :)

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #168 on: July 04, 2018, 01:25:42 PM »
Orders for III Corps -- 1800, 19th October

The corps will transition to the defense, effective immediately.

Vialannes' cavalry will pull back into reserve and reorganize.  More will doubtless be asked of you....  you will move to shore up threatened sectors.

Impress upon the men that this is the decisive battle of the campaign, and we fight under the Emperor's watchful eye.  This circumstance gives the brave an opportunity to discover a marshal's baton in their knapsack.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #169 on: July 04, 2018, 01:28:09 PM »
FROM CONTROL -- 1800, 19th October

This is to inform you that the men of Fouchet's division have paid their "crossing penalty" for the pontoon bridge and are now on the other side of the Saale.

Marshal Lannes -- You have a decision:  This bridge is built, necessarily, outside the "fight box" of 5km(2) around Weissenfels.  You may order the men of this division to cut the corner of this box and be seen by the Prussians as part of a flank march.  Or, you could "skirt" around the box to better avoid detection.  The former is obvious more rapid than the latter.

I await your patience.

S!



Davout to umpire:
Davout to 3rd division/III Corps: relieve Vialannes' position.  Once relieved, Vialannes is to fall back into a reserve position and reorganize.

What is the state of the enemy forces in front of Vialannes?


Davout to umpire:
Greater clarity has revealed that Gudin is already committed to the sector with Vialannes!  Never mind....


To: Emperor Napoleon, Marshals Lannes, Bernadotte, Augereau, & Murat
Time: 1800, 19 October
From: Davout

A few more details have come to light regarding the ongoing engagement (notes on which are repeated below for the benefit of those farther from the battle).

I am reliably informed that:

====
On the LEFT, Morand and Friant have met with a single, strong, Prussian division.  They slightly outnumber it, but only slightly.

In the CENTER, Gudin and Viallannes have been up against two very large Prussian divisions, one of which is clearly commanded by Blucher.  As indicated, they came on the attack, but it did not break your forces in the center.
====

Consulting "Jacque's All The World's Fighting Divisions", and working from nominal strengths:

Blucher normally commands a force of 7000 infantry and 5000 cavalry.  Gudin has around 8000 infantry and Vialannes once had around 2000 cavalry.  Two divisions similar to Blucher's would indeed outnumber my force by around 2:1.

Morand and Friant comprise around 18000 men.  They would outnumber, but only slightly, Scharnhorst's division of 13000 infantry and 4000 cavalry.  We met Scharnhorst briefly earlier in the campaign and likely chased him here from west of Weimar.

A positive ID of Blucher and a probable of Scharnhorst means we face Brunswick's corps, at the least. 


Given the force ratio against me, and the shaky state of my cavalry, my corps will move to the defense for the time being.




======= Repeated message on results of the battle up to 1800=========
Sire and Marshals:

Please note that you are all not proximate enough to one another to communicate, but you would have all been able to see what I now describe.

On your right, the Emperor chose to commit the artillery reserve of the Imperial Guard and it has shattered the division of cavalry that stood holding that sector.  These horse have begun to flee the town in disorder.

In your center, matters are very grim, the Prussians -- against all expectation -- rose up from their trenches and attacked.  The men of Viallannes' division are profoundly shaken and cannot take much more, but the Prussian numbers in the center continue to outnumber your own men by some 2:1.  It was only the direct intervention of the Emperor that steadied your lines and held the center...for now.

On your left, the fight was a complete stalemate (OOC:  My very first TIE.  Hard to do with the modifiers and everything.)

There is one more battle turn of two hours to be resolved before night.

S!
=======

- Davout 


Lannes to Davout:
All V Corps units are to move by the fastest route to the objective of the road North out of Weissenfels. We will continue this move even after dark. I would prefer to be observed by the Prussians but avoid combat until in position.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #170 on: July 04, 2018, 01:31:06 PM »
DISPATCH -- BERNADOTTE to LANNES and DAVOUT -- 1830, 19th October

SENT -- 1600, 19th October

Dispatch to Marshals Lannes, Davout and Emperor Napoleon

The 1st Corps has one infantry division and Gen Kleins Dragoon Div engaged with the Prussians on our right flank . Our right is achieving some success while our Center under Gen Gudin of 3rd Corps is having some difficulty. I suggest Lannes to engage here on arrival. I am bringing my divisions up in turn on to our right flank. I have a total of 4 infantry divisions (including Gen Gardannes from Ney’s Corp) approaching from the south on the Gera to Weissenfels road. Our 1st Corps Cavalry patrols estimate that we are facing approximately 3 Prussian Corps at Weissenfels. 1st Corps patrols to discover Ney’s left flank have not reported his position yet. Ney is assumed to be south of Leipzig with Soult.
Marshal Bernadotte




To: Emperor Napoleon, Marshal Bernadotte, Marshals Lannes & Augereau
Sent: 1700, 19 Oct
From: Davout

Marshal Bernadotte,

Do you know where Ney and Soult are expected to turn next?

If Lannes continues northwards to cut off the Prussian route in that direction, while Ney and Soult turn westwards from Leipzig, then we have the bulk of the Prussian Army bottled up in Weissenfels.

- Davout





To: Emperor Napoleon, Marshal Bernadotte, Marshal Augereau, Marshal Davout
Sent: 1830, 19 Oct
From: Lannes

V Corps is continuing with the river crossing with the objective of cutting the road north from Weissenfels.  V Corps pontooneers are constructing a second bridge to speed movement and aid following forces.

We will continue this movement after dark until the entire corps is at the objective. I have directed my cavalry to move by the fastest route. This will likely have our movement observed by the Prussians. My intent is for this to divert some Prussian forces from the situation south of the town.

Lannes

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #171 on: July 04, 2018, 01:32:53 PM »
The Battle of Weissenfels -- 1800 to 2000, 19th October

Marshals,

Your lines have not faltered.

On the left, Morand and Friant were able to make progress against the men you now clearly identify as Scharnhorst's Division.  It was not a great victory but, as the general had not abandoned his defenses, it must be greeted with a measure of satisfaction.

In the center, your line held.  The men of Gudin's division were able to hold out against the combined assault of General Arnim as well as a division that you have had reported is commanded by Blucher himself.  The casualties sustained were not great, but the Prussians made no advance.  Credit must be given to the collapse of the Prussian left.

The men of Fouchet's division have vanished into the darkness with the intention of cutting the road North out of Weissenfels.  The men of D'Hautpol's division will complete their crossing of the Saale by 2100 hours.

Casualty returns will be reported at 0000 hours.

S!




Davout to Lannes and Umpire:

I confess I'm not quite sure what the description of the outcome of the engagement with Scharnhorst means.  Perhaps that is intentional?  If not, I'm not sure what is means that he has not abandoned his defenses - we were kicking him out of them?


Lannes:
I read that as Scharnhorst, unlike Anim/.Blucher, had not come out of his prepared positions. So we were assaulting those.


Umpire:
Lannes is correct.


Lannes to Davout and Umpire:
I will stay at the pontoon crossing point to coordinate getting the remainder of the corps across, and to urge the pontooneers to get the second bridge built. If I have any indication of combat from the direction Foucher has moved, I will move to his position. Once my 1st division is across, I will move with them to the road objective to oversee the deployment into defensive positions. V Corps will continue with this operation until all of the corps has crossed and taken up positions on the objective.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #172 on: July 04, 2018, 01:33:47 PM »
Message from Davout, 2200 19 October

(I'm not sure Lannes and I are still co-located.)

To: Marshal Bernadotte, Emperor Napoleon, Marshals Lannes, Augereau, & Murat
Time: 2200 19 Oct
From: Davout

Gentlemen!

As I await the sad news of my casualties today - likely significant - I have been pondering out actions for tomorrow.

Marshal Lannes is moving to cut off the road to Berlin.

I have had a hard-fought day, with some possible gains on my left and a grim fight on my right (our center).

I have some intimations that Marshal Bernadotte has met with success on our right!

My question is:  What is required of my corps tomorrow?

The safe course of action for me is to defend, which is more likely to ensure that my corps does not break, stranding Lannes and causing trouble for Bernadotte and Augereau.

However, it may be more useful for me to continue to engage the divisions in front of me in order to pin them and thus support a continued assault by Bernadotte and perhaps even actions by Lannes.

Let me know what you intend and I will act to support it.   If my corps continuing to attack will assist your ability to destroy the Prussians, then it will cost what it will cost. 

- Davout


Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #173 on: July 04, 2018, 01:34:22 PM »
Davout to III Corps staff (2200 19 Oct)

Two requests for my staff:

Personnel: I would appreciate the estimates of remaining strength, fatigue, and morale once you have them available.
   Key information:  How ready will we be for tomorrow's fight?

Intel: Do you have any insight on the likely state of enemy divisions?
   Key information:  Are they better or worse off than we are after today's events?

(I realize the answer to the second query may be "see prior messages", which is fine; the player having an uncertainty is not a cue for the umpire to resolve it unless warranted.  :)  )

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #174 on: July 04, 2018, 01:34:47 PM »
The Butcher's Bill from the First Day of the Battle of Weissenfels

Report as of 0000, 20th October

Division Morand has sustained some 1,000 casualties.  Its morale remains good, but its fatigue is above average.

Division Friant has also sustained some 1,000 casualties.  Its morale if only fair, but its fatigue is low.

Division Gudin bore the brunt of the fighting and has sustained some 2,000 casualties.  Its morale is only fair, but its fatigue is low.

Division Viallannes is a ruin.  It has sustained more than 1,000 casualties and only some 300 men can answer to the standard.  Its morale is poor, though its fatigue is low.

As to your inquiry, Viallannes is hors de combat, the others are as described.

S!

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #175 on: July 04, 2018, 01:35:16 PM »
And as to the other matter...

You have taken some time -- commendable -- to put together who it was that was before you.

On the left, it was Division Scharnhorst.  They were struck, but held their ground and seemed ready to defend in the morning if need be.

In the center you confronted the large divisions of Arnim and Blucher.  They continue to possess the advantage of holding the town as they chose not to advance during the last "battle turn".

And, on the right, you have convincing reports that Division Saxe was shattered with significant losses to these troops.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #176 on: July 04, 2018, 01:36:20 PM »
Dawn memorial service & message to Napoleon


Somebody with a human touch needs to go ask around in the remains of Vialannes' division to find out who is worthy of special recognition for valor.

message:

To: Emperor Napoleon
Time: 0030 20 Oct
From: Marshal Davout

Emperor!

I request your attendance at a brief service at dawn this day, with the remaining men of Vialannes' cavalry division.  It is my earnest hope that this service will help restore this to a fighting force, and your appearance would do much to help the men understand the importance of their sacrifice.

A few of my officers are conducting inquiries to determine if some of these men displayed particular courage; it might help their morale if you were to personally award the deserving with the Legion of Honor.

- Davout


A further thought - have my division commanders send an officer, an NCO, and 3 soldiers, all of whom showed particular merit during the campaign, to the dawn service.

We shall see if we can spread a bit of the appreciation to them and their divisions as well.


[I had hopes that this roleplaying might give my forces a bit of a boost, but it came to nothing.]

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #177 on: July 04, 2018, 01:37:16 PM »
DISPATCH -- GARDENNE to DAVOUT...sort of...

RECEIVED 0000, 20th October

A mud-spattered representative of General Gardenne's division arrives bearing messages intended for Marshal Lannes.

He is, however, at his wits end and bears the following message:

Marshal Lannes,

Have made contact with your rearmost element near Mattstedt.

Am in despereate search of His Majesty who had ordered us to his standard.

Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Your Servant,

G.d.D. G.A. Gardanne

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #178 on: July 04, 2018, 01:38:01 PM »
CORRECTION RE: Gardanne

I figured it out.

It took an AWFUL lot of note reviewing, but there was something about Bernadotte's concerns that I couldn't get out of my head.

So, for the record:

DIVISION GARDANNE was attached by the directive of the Emperor to I Corps.  As such, it would have marched with I Corps and would now be bivouaced South of Weissenfels having not been close enough to the fray to fight during the first day of the Battle of Weissenfels.

It is currently at full strength, high morale, and very low fatigue.

Apologies for the confusion.

[Even the umpires suffer from fog of war!  :)  ]

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #179 on: July 04, 2018, 01:40:31 PM »
A Grim Meeting -- 0000, 20th October

Emperor Napoleon and Marshals --

Emperor Napoleon and Marshal Bernadotte have made a relatively quick circumnavigation of their encampment to the West.

There, not far from the banks of the Saale, on a ridge overlooking the battle-ravaged village of Weissenfels, they find a distraught Marshal Davout making elaborate arrangements for a memorial service for General Viallannes in his camp tent.

Or, put another way, gentlemen, you may talk amongst yourselves.

Marshal Lannes is out of range of this conversation.

S!



My condolences Marshal Davout. Gen Viallannes achieved a glorious death no doubt.  I was just relating to L’EMPEREUR the following:

Sire , Gen Klein has reported his morale as high but also with high fatigue. My patrol up the river valley to Leipzig found only ~1 division of Prussian s in Leipzig .  No sign of Ney. And another odd occurrence is the disappearance of Gen Gardannes. His infantry division was attached to my Corps from Ney’s Corps as the 1st Corps was marching to and encamped around Jena some two days ago. I can only assume that Ney has recalled this division without informing myself.

Marshal Bernadotte



Gentlemen!

Marshal Bernadotte, what is your intent regarding your actions tomorrow?  It appears that you have the southern and eastern sides of Weissenfels bottled up.  Do you have a better sense of what forces you face in there, and where the other Prussian elements are?

General Vialannes' death was doubtless glorious, though my primary concern is to try to return my 300 remaining cavalrymen into a mental state that is fit for service....  at the moment they are shattered.

- Davout


From Napoleon:

God's Grief! -- I don't recall calling Gardenne to me, but if I did I'm sure I was just trying to get him back to Ney, who had lost track of him and needed whatever help he could get asap. (Ney had let off another division, too, somewhere on guarding our line of communication.)

Considering that we have now lost track of two corps up around Leipzig, I can't help but be worried about that area. Could this, and the ~1 division in Leipzig found by Bern's scouts, have something to do with the captured Prussian courier earlier yesterday (or late on the 18th) talking about Prussians to our south?! i.e. has East Wing been forced to shatter and the Prussians are following up by advancing down what was our right/east Wing path?

While I would love to take advantage of the apparent weakness in Leipzig right now, what I haven't heard yet from Bernadotte's scouting force, is the situation on the road to Leipzig. My guess in advance, was that the Prussians had taken up a defensive line on the road (or relatively nearby, accounting for local defensive benefits) in order to secure a corridor of reinforcement and retreat between Weissenfels and Leipzig. If (as appears likely) East Wing has been driven off at last, they might be leaving Leipzig lightly defended while they funnel reinforcements down the line to our fight here at Weissenfels.

Bern should ask his scout [via Cyrano I suppose] about the road situation, not just about Leipzig: what did he see of Prussians, or not see of Prussians (where he might expect to see them if they are there), between here and Leipzig?

At some point, unless our fortunes turn around drastically against us, I expect the Prussians to retreat back to a final line, behind riverworks, protecting the road to Berlin [OOC: thus gaming the map]. Has this already started? Or are we looking at something different?

We should hear from Lannes, too, if possible, and if he can get to our conference that would be ideal.


From Bernadotte's sector of the battle, I haven't heard casualties yet, but by application of reserve artillery and Klein's dragoons to Bernadotte's forces, we were able to shatter the defenders of our rightmost sector. I have ordered Klein to pull back and camp before midnight, and Bessier's imperial cavalry (who has been resting since last midnight) has orders to advance into the enemy's routed sector before dawn in order to set up a flanking attack on our central sector of attack.

The central sector's attackers essentially had to give up attacking and even defend against the stiff resistance in their area, but by applying some local advice [OOC: combat bonuses] I was able to help them hold the line. Bernadotte should be withdrawing them, back a little to rest, but what we need now is to apply pressure on our central front as hard as possible in the morning. My reserve artillery will be moving up later before dawn to help this assault, but if we have any arriving infantry to help that would be very important! -- what can be assigned here (at least locally), should be.

Our left sector (presumably abutting Davout's rightward sector) didn't go anywhere but also took relatively few casualties so far as I know. They should be good to help pin Prussian defenders while we work on rolling back their defensive line from the schwerpunkt we have created. In this area, the enemy's backs are to the river, and that should help us, but will naturally make spoiler attacks against their rear more problematic.

I have almost no clear information about Davout's or Lannes' sectors of frontage yet.

Someone earlier asked whether I had any larger grand strategic news, such as the Russians moving early to help relieve the Prussians. I have not heard of any such thing. [OOC: and I kind of don't expect that from this game engine; but if that's potentially a factor then Cyrano hasn't told us!]

Napoleon


Davout:
Answering some of the questions:

Lannes is moving north of the river to block the Prussians' retreat north from Weissenfels; this should have taken place by the morning.

On my front (3rd corps):

1st division is facing Scharnhorst, who is dug in.  We fought to a standstill.  1st has suffered around 1000 casualties but its morale is good, though the division is becoming tired.

2nd and 3rd divisions are facing Arnim and Blucher.  You were present for this fight; 2nd division lost 1000 men, 3rd division lost 2000 men, and their morale is only fair.

3rd Corps' cavalry has been shattered, with 300 remaining of 2000 and their morale broken.  (I have leaned on this division heavily throughout the campaign to date...  this is far from their first engagement.)


If you want III Corps to attack, we will be ready when you give the word.  Steadily rolling up the Prussians sounds like a good idea.  Perhaps the commit trigger for each division should be seeing a force attack the flank of the division in front of them?


Where do you intend to commit Gardenne?  Reinforcing Bernadotte's attack?


- Davout