Action of Göhrde, 16 September 1813

The action of Göhrde (16 September 1813) saw the Allies intercept a column sent out of Hamburg by Marshal Davout and force it to retreat back into the city after suffering heavy losses.

Earlier in the autumn campaign of 1813 Davout advanced east out of Hamburg. He ended up at Schwerin, almost sixty miles to the east of the city, where he faced an Allied force under General Walmoden.

As was always the case in 1813 the French lacked control of the countryside away from their armies. The Allies raised a force of Landsturm in Swedish Pomerania and Mecklenburg and sent around 20,000 of them to the right bank of the Lower Elbe. This force then intercepted a message from Davout that revealed that Marc-Nicholas-Louis Pecheux, with a few infantry battalions, one cavalry squadron and six guns were heading south-east up the right bank of the Lower Elbe, to check the banks between Hamburg and Magdeburg.
 
Walmoden decided to intercept this force. The Swedish General Vegesack was left at Schwerin to watch Davout, while Walmoden led 16,000 men to Domutz, thirty miles to the south of Schwerin, where he had built a bridge over the Elbe. On 16 September Tettenborn, with the Allied vanguard, crossed the river then moved west towards Danneberg, where he ran into Pecheux's 7,000 men.

Pecheux realised that he was outnumbered, and retreated a few miles to the west to the village of Göhrde (Goerde in some French sources).

Walmoden decided to attack the outnumbered French on both flanks and in the centre. The French guns were soon knocked out of action, but the infantry battalions managed to resist the Allied attack. Even so the French were soon surrounded, and Pecheux decided to retreat. He formed his men into a square, and retreated back down the river. The French were able to resist all attacks on the square and made their escape. Walmoden didn't pursue, and instead crossed back to the right bank of the Elbe and was back at Schwerin by 18 September.

This action had been very costly for the French. They lost 600 killed and wounded and 1,200 prisoners (including General Miaczinski), about a quarter of their entire force. The Allies lost 800 men, a sign of the fierceness of the fighting.

The Allied force included Lützow's Freikorps, which performed well in the battle, and the Russo-German Legion, said to have been directed on the day by Clausewitz.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 July 2017), Action of Göhrde, 16 September 1813 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/action_gohrde.html

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