The Battle of Leipzig
Patrick Harris -The Battle of Leipzig took place on 16-19 October 1813. This is the battle that I regard as the turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. Despite the disaster in Russia in 1812, Napoleon and the French Empire were still a force to be reckoned with. Leipzig was called, appropriately, the "Battle of Nations", for it included the French and their Imperial vassals (Poland, Italy, certain parts of Germany) and most of the forces of the sixth coalition (Prussia, Russia, Austria, Sweden). This battle was the largest ever seen until the First World War.
The battle revolved around Napoleon's attempted defence of the town of Leipzig, in order to protect his supply lines. This battle was more of a stalemate than other battles; it resulted in massive loss of life in many futile attacks by Napoleon attempting to break the Allied line. All through the first two days, the Allies attacked small villages and buildings around Leipzig (Lieberwolkwitz, Markkleeberg), only to lose them again in furious French counter attacks. Using his Grand Battery on Gallows Hill, Napoleon blasted away at the Russians, who collapsed and opened the hole that Napoleon needed to send in his cavalry This hole was not exploited to its full potential by Murat, the leader of the charge, through his use of massive columns;
instead of small, fast moving squadrons like the Allies.
Following the arrival of massive reinforcements to the Allies on the 17th, they launched a massive attack from all sides on the morning of the 18th. The French line held, but was slowly pushed back to Leipzig.
The Allies attacked Leipzig itself, spearheaded by Swedish Jägers. Napoleon quickly saw that the battle was lost, and he retreated over the Elster River. The Allies did not see this retreat until the morning of the 19th, and was held up in a street by street (caged lion) rearguard action in Leipzig.
Due to a breakdown in the chain of command, the blowing of a bridge over the Elster was done prematurely resulting in thousands of French dead and thousands stranded on the wrong side of the river (A General gave the fuse to a Colonel, who gave it to a corporal, who didn't know about the carefully scheduled retreat schedule.