The 1813 Battle of Leipzig, which is also known as the Battle of Nations, marks the high point of the German ‘War of Liberation’. It also marks a time of cooperation and coordinated efforts among the various European nations against Napoleon Bonaparte…
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It was the largest armed conflict in history during that time, a conflict which eventually led to the downfall of Napoleon. It highlights a significant point in Napoleon’s plans to take over Europe, a plan which would was later prevented by the united efforts of the European nations. This paper shall now discuss and analyze the Battle of Leipzig based on the nine principles of war which include unity of command, surprise, security, simplicity, objective, offensive, mass, economy of force, and maneuver. These principles shall be used to establish their manner of application in the battle, including the consequences of these applications. Body When the Russian army as well as the harsh winter caused Napoleon’s defeat in 1812, the Europeans felt that peace would soon be seen in their lands after almost a decade of persistent warfare2. However, Napoleon was persistent in his efforts at warfare. When Napoleon returned to France from Russia, he quickly rebuilt and strengthened his army, even recruiting teenagers and young men. Veterans filled in and strengthened the military ranks. In the early months of 1813, he advanced towards Germany, planning to vanquish each military unit in the region, and recruit the survivors3. On the other hand, Europe’s leaders were wary about entering alliances with each other because they considered each other to be either current or future enemies. Karl von Metternich, the foreign minister of Austria believed that he would not be able to successfully fend off France and its military strength. He then started to call for a coalition of nations against Napoleon. Finally, Prussia, Russia, Sweden, Great Britain, and other smaller European nations agreed to form an alliance with Austria to fight their common enemy. Napoleon discounted such alliance and surged on towards Germany4. He was able to win some of the initial skirmishes; however, he later realized that his new army and troops were not as experienced as the ones which fought in the battle in Russia. When he found out that troops were advancing on him from all directions, he negotiated a truce on the 4th of June, 1813, meeting with Metternich in order to establish a cordial agreement on the dispute. However, even with the favorable options given to him, Napoleon refused to accept the terms of the truce5. While negotiations were taking place, reinforcements were added for both sides; in August, the truce ended and war commenced yet again. The Allied forces persisted in driving Napoleon out of their territories; and Napoleon’s forces steadily grew exhausted6. Another offensive by the Allied forces was launched in September, with France winning several small skirmishes, but the French were driven back to Leipzig by October. Napoleon had about 170,000 troops covering the town, but the Allied forces outnumbered them. On October 13, 1813, Napoleon later left a portion of his army in the north to battle the Prussians and to attempt to break Russian and Austrian forces in the south. By nightfall, no major gains by any of the combatants were gained7. The armed conflict raged on for days and Napoleon could not cope with the larger Allied troops; and the odds against him was exacerbated when the Swedish Army joined the Allied forces. Napoleon tried to negotiate another truce, but was rebuffed by the Allied forces. Napoleon and his troops started to withdraw westward by crossing the Elster Bridge through a stone bridge. This stone bridge soon proved to be the downfall of many of Napoleon’s troops as many of them died while crossing and defending the bridge8. Napoleon retreated as a defeated general to Paris, leaving behind about 60,000 troops dead, wounded, or captured by the Allied f
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