First battle of St. Dizier (27 January 1814)

The first battle of St. Dizier (28 January 1814) was Napoleon's first battle during the 1814 campaign in France, and saw the French defeat Blucher's rearguard, having moved too slowly to catch Blucher's main army.

On 25 January Napoleon left Paris, and on 26 January he reached his new centre of operations at Chalons-sur-Marne. His main army was spread out between Chalons in the north and Troyes in the south, putting him to the west of Blucher's advancing columns. Victor had failed to hold St. Dizier on the Marne, and retreated up the river to Vitry, but despite this setback Napoleon decided to begin his campaign with an attack on Blucher.

Battles of the French Campaign of 1814
Battles of the
French Campaign
of 1814

Napoleon had already missed his chance to catch Blucher on the Marne. On 26 January Blucher sent Sacken and Olsufiev south towards Wassy and Montier-en-Den, and on 27 January they occupied Brienne.

Blucher left General Lanskoi's 2nd Hussar Division (part of the Russian Cavalry Corps) at St. Dizier, with the task of maintaining communications between Blucher on the Aube and Yorck on the Meuse.

Napoleon left Chalons on 27 January, and joined the forces at Vitry. Duhesme's 3rd Division of Victor's II Corps and Milhaud's V Cavalry Corps were sent towards St. Dizier. The French caught Lanskoi's Russians by surprise, hitting while they were still in camp. The Russians were forced out of the town so quickly that they were unable to destroy the bridge over the Marne. They retreated south-east towards Joinville, further up the Marne.

Napoleon was disappointed with the results of this first battle, which netted him a handful of guns and prisoners, but he wasn't discouraged. He turned his columns south-west and headed towards Brienne and the first major battle of the campaign (Battle of Brienne, 29 January 1814).

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 March 2016), First battle of St. Dizier (27 January 1814) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_st_dizier_1st.html

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