- Eylau, Battle of
- (1807)A bloody yet indecisive battle of the Napoleonic Wars between Russian Field Marshal Levin Bennigsen’s 67,000 men and Napoleon Bonaparte ’s 45,000. On February 7, in bitter cold, the French took possession of the town of Eylau, southeast of Königsberg in East Prussia. The next day, Bennigsen attacked in the midst of a sudden blizzard. Napoleon’s flanks were under heavy pressure and Marshal Pierre Augereau’s moves against the Russian center were ineffective, as in the confusion of the blizzard they swerved off course into the fire of the Russian guns. The Russians even threatened Napoleon’s headquarters, but the Imperial Guard prevented disaster. Seeking the initiative, Marshal Joachim Murat led more than 10,000 cavalry in a dramatic attack, overrunning the Russian guns and center before returning to safety. With reinforcements arriving on both sides, the battle continued under awful conditions until 11 P.M. that evening, after which Bennigsen withdrew. Tired and numbed by the weather and slaughter, both sides withdrew to their winter quarters to await a spring campaign. The battle is commemorated by the painting Napoleon at Eylau by Antoine-Jean Gros in the Musée du Louvre.See also <
>.FURTHER READING:Goltz, Colmar, Freiherr von der. Jena to Eylau: The Disgrace and Redemption of the Old Russian Army. Translated by C. F. Atkinson. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1913;Summerville, C. J. Napoleon ’ s Polish Gamble: Eylau and Friedland, 1807. Barnsley, England: Pen & Sword Military, 2005.J. DAVID MARKHAM
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.