Combat of Luckau, 6 June 1813

The combat of Luckau (6 June 1813) was a French defeat during Marshal Oudinot's first attempt to threaten Berlin, but came after an armistice had already ended the fighting in the spring campaign in Germany (War of Liberation).

In the aftermath of the battle of Bautzen (20-21 May 1813) Marshal Oudinot's XII Corps was given the task of watching Bülow's corps, which had been operating to the north of the main campaign area, covering the approaches to Berlin. Oudinot had 16,000 men, while Bülow had 30,000 men, with a mix of Prussian and Russians.

Freidrich Wilhelm Graf Bülow von Dennewitz
Freidrich Wilhelm
Graf Bülow
von Dennewitz

On the evening of 27 May both forces were approaching Hoyerswerda. Bülow had the larger army, despite having left 9,000 men to watch the French garrison at Wittemberg on the Elbe, and on 28 May he attacked along both sides of the Black Elster, the river that runs through Hoyerswerda. Bülow's attack was repulsed (combat of Hoyerswerda) and he retreated north towards Cottbus.

Bülow's corps was now quite widely spread out. One division was almost fifty miles to the west, at Jüterbog (presumably having withdrawn from Wittemberg, twenty miles further west. One was at Drebkau, four miles to the south-west of Cottbus. The third was at Guben, ten miles to the north-east of Cotbus.

War of Liberation 1813 - Spring Campaign
War of Liberation 1813 -
Spring Campaign

Oudinot rested at Hoyerswerda for a few days after the fighting there, to allow his troops to recover. On 2 June he moved west to to Kirchhayn (now Doberlug-Kirchhain, 30 miles to the west/ north-west of Hoyerswerda. This put him in a position to get between the two wings of Bülow's corps, and so on 3 June Bülow moved west/north-west from Cotbus to Luckau, a key position on the road to Berlin.

When Oudinot learnt that Bülow had moved into Luckau, he followed. At 9am on 6 May, his vanguard attacked the Prussians, and forced them back into the town. The French occupied the suburbs and then attacked the town. The defenders were protected by good walls around the town, and fought vigorously. Bülow's centre was thus secured by the walls, allowing him to reinforce his flanks.

Bülow then attacked on both flanks. A fierce battle followed, which was only ended by nightfall. Oudinot was forced to retreat, after losing 1,100 men and one howitzer. Prussian losses were probably about the same.

Oudinot retreated south to Ubigau near Dresden, where he learnt of the armistice that had been signed between Napoleon and the Allies a few days earlier.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 April 2017), Combat of Luckau, 6 June 1813 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_luckau.html

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