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February 7, 1807 - The Battle of Eylau (left) begins as French and Russian troops meet in East Prussia. Seeking to follow up his victories in the fall of 1806, Napoleon pressed east into Poland with the goal of destroying the Russian army. Meeting the enemy, under Count von Bennigsen near the village of Eylau on February 7, Napoleon ordered his Grand Armée to concentrate for battle. That evening, French and Russian troops fought near the town with the former taking control. The next morning, outnumbered by the Russians, Napoleon launched a frontal assault to buy time for reinforcements to arrive. This was met by a Russian attack on the French left. Ordering Marshal Pierre Augereau's VII Corps to advance on the right to relieve the pressure, Napoleon was horrified when it became lost in the snow and was decimated by the Russian artillery. With his center beginning to crumble, he ordered Marshal Joachim Murat's cavalry to charge the advancing Russians. Storming forward, they beat back the attackers and then slashed through the Russian guns before retiring back to the French lines. With his center safe, Napoleon began attacking on the right until a Prussian force assaulted his flank forcing it to fall back. After fourteen hours of fighting, the battle ended around 10:00 PM. Though inconclusive, the two sides suffered a combined 30,000-50,000 casualties. Late that night, the Russians withdrew, leaving Napoleon in possession of the field.

The Napoleonic Wars:

Photograph Source: Public Domain


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