Wednesday, October 16, 2013

LEIPZIG Two Centuries on ...

Battle of Leipzig
The battlefield of Leipzig covers a wide sweep of ground, divided by the Rivers Elster, Pleisse, Luppe and Parthe.  The city stands at the confluence of the first two named, and in 1813 the terrain separating them was extremely marshy and wooded.  The old city and its suburbs lay to the east and north of this difficult area, and the single road running westward from the Rannstadt Gate to the village of Lindenau was carried along an extensive embankment cut by several wooden and stone bridges.  Near Lindenau, another stream - the River Luppe - leaves it parent the Elster and runs away to the northwest roughly parallel to the main river enclosing between them another swampy region.  Immediately to the north of teh suburb of Pffandorf, the Parthe tributary leaves the Elster in a northeasterly direction, before describing a broad southerly sweep towards its source near the Kolm Berg.

These four rivers, radiating out from Leipzig, divide the surrounding circle of country into four main sectors.  Approximately to the south of the city lie the marshy areas already referred to.  To the west, between the Elster and the Luppe, lie two roads, running from Lindenau to Merseburg and Weissenfels respectively.  Here the groun is at first very flat and open, but five miles down the Weissenfels road near Markranstadt the terrain on each side of the highway becomes increasingly hilly.  The northern sector lies between the Elster and the Parthe and the Upper Pleisse.  It is marked by a series of low ridges running outward from Leipzig toward two pieces of relatively higher ground - the Galgenberg (lying between the villages of Wachau and Leibertwolkwitz) and the Kolm Berg, some two miles to the east.  Although the undulating nature of the terrain and the large number of villages and hamlets made it a naturally strong defensive position, much of the countryside was very open and well suited to large-scale cavalry action.  Several important roads cross the area, running outward toward Wurzen, Dresden, Grimma, and Borna.  Linking these were a large number of earthen lateral farm tracks of dubious military value.

As for Leipzig itself, the old town was surrounded by an ill-repaired wall, but the main gates were in fair state of repair and the French had taken steps to fortify the outlying suburbs.  A considerable number of defense works had also been constructed around Lindenau, guarding the important causeway traversing the marshes.

~ D. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, p.923

See Project Leipzig for excellent game-plans detail for this and many other Napoleonic games.

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