War of the Fourth Coalition


War of the Fourth Coalition

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=War of the Fourth Coalition
partof=Napoleonic Wars


caption=French Army marches through Berlin in 1806.
date=1806–1807
place=Europe
result=French victory, Treaties of Tilsit
combatant1=flagicon|Prussia|1803 Prussia
flagicon|Russia Russia
flagicon|United Kingdom United Kingdom
flagicon image|State flag of Saxony before 1815.gif Saxony [a]
flagicon|Sweden Sweden
flagicon|Two Sicilies Sicily
combatant2=flagicon|France France
Confederation of the Rhine
*flagicon|Bavaria Bavaria
*flagicon|Württemberg Württemberg
flagicon image|OrzelekPoniatowski.jpg|20px Polish Legions
flagicon|Napoleonic Italy Italy
flagicon|Two Sicilies|1806 Naples
flagicon|Napoleonic Italy|etruria Etruria
flagicon|Netherlands Holland
Swiss Confederation
flagicon|Spain|1785 Spain
commander1=flagicon|Prussia|1803 Duke of Brunswick
flagicon|Prussia|1803 Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen
flagicon|Russia Count von Bennigsen
flagicon|Sweden King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden
commander2=flagicon|France Napoleon I of France
flagicon|France Louis Nicolas Davout
flagicon|France Guillaume Marie Anne Brune
strength1=
strength2=
casualties3=
notes=

  1. Joined the Confederation of the Rhine on 11 December 1806.
  2. The Fourth Coalition against Napoleon's French Empire was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

    Many members of the coalition had previously been fighting France as part of the Third Coalition, and there was no intervening period of peace. In 1806, Prussia joined the coalition fearing the rise in French power after the defeat of Austria. Prussia and Russia mobilized for a fresh campaign, and Prussian troops massed in Saxony.

    Overview

    Napoleon decisively defeated the Prussians at the Jena-Auerstedt in October 1806. French forces under Napoleon occupied Prussia, captured Berlin on October 25 1806, and moved all the way to East Prussia and the Russian frontier, where they fought an inconclusive battle against the Russians at Eylau in February 1807. Napoleon's advance on the Russian frontier was briefly checked. Russian forces were crushed by Napoleon's army at Friedland on June 14, 1807, and three days later Russia asked for a truce. By the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, France made peace with Russia and forced Prussia to give up half of its territory to France, Jerome Bonaparte's Kingdom of Westphalia, and the new Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon was now master of all of western and central continental Europe, except for Spain, Portugal, Austria and several smaller countries.

    Origins

    The Fourth Coalition (1806–1807) of Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden and the United Kingdom against France formed within months of the collapse of the previous coalition. In July 1806 Napoleon formed the Confederation of the Rhine out of the many tiny German states which constituted the Rhineland and most other parts of western Germany. He amalgamated many of the smaller states into larger electorates, duchies and kingdoms to make the governance of non-Prussian Germany more efficient. Napoleon elevated the rulers of the two largest Confederation states, Saxony and Bavaria, to the status of kings.

    Prussian campaign

    In August 1806, the Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm III made the decision to go to war independently of any other great power, save the distant Russia. Another course of action might have involved declaring war the previous year and joining Austria and Russia. This might have contained Napoleon and prevented the Allied disaster at Austerlitz. In any event, the Russian army, an ally of Prussia, still remained far away when Prussia declared war. In September, Napoleon unleashed all French forces east of the Rhine. After Lannes defeated a Prussian detachment at Saalfeld, four days later Napoleon himself defeated a Prussian army at Jena (October 14 1806), and Davout defeated another at Auerstädt on the same day. Some 160,000 French soldiers (increasing in number as the campaign went on) went against Prussia and moved with such speed that Napoleon was able to destroy as an effective military force the entire quarter of a million strong Prussian army — which sustained 25,000 casualties, lost a further 150,000 prisoners and 4,000 artillery pieces, and over 100,000 muskets stockpiled in Berlin. In the former battle, Napoleon only fought a detachment of the Prussian force. The latter battle involved a single French corps defeating the bulk of the Prussian army. Napoleon entered Berlin on 27 October 1806 and visited the tomb of Frederick the Great, there instructing his marshals to remove their hats, saying, "If he was alive we wouldn't be here today." In total, Napoleon had taken only 19 days from beginning his attack on Prussia until knocking it out of the war with the capture of Berlin and the destruction of its principal armies at Jena and Auerstadt.

    In Berlin, Napoleon issued a series of decrees which, on November 21, 1806 brought into effect the Continental System. This policy aimed to eliminate the threat of the United Kingdom by closing French-controlled territory to its trade.

    Russian campaign

    The French drove Russian forces out of Poland and created a new Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon then turned north to confront the remainder of the Russian army [ [http://www.mipolonia.net/napoleon/ Maps of Napoleon's Campaign In Poland 1806–7] .] and to attempt to capture the temporary Prussian capital at Königsberg. A tactical draw at Eylau (February 7–8) forced the Russians to withdraw further north. Napoleon then routed the Russian army at Friedland (June 14). Following this defeat, Alexander had to make peace with Napoleon at Tilsit (July 7, 1807). By September, Marshal Brune completed the occupation of Swedish Pomerania, allowing the Swedish army, however, to withdraw with all its munitions of war.

    Results

    At the Congress of Erfurt (September–October 1808) Napoleon and Alexander agreed that Russia should force Sweden to join the Continental System, which led to the Finnish War of 1808–1809 and to the division of Sweden into two parts separated by the Gulf of Bothnia. The eastern part became the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. Due to the Continental System United Kingdom was yet again still at war with Napoleon and was not affected by the peace treaty.

    References


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