The Habit of Victory

from warsaw and eylau to friedland

Three short introductory scenarios simulate the battles of Pultusk/Golymin, Eylau, and Friedland. 

 January 1807: The French army awoke from quarters and assembled into regiments and brigades, advancing cautiously into the winter fastness, passing alternately through the plains and forests of Masuria. Encountering determined opposition in a series of rearguard battles lasting a week, they finally emerged into a clearing about a mile and a half in front of the large village of Preussische Eylau.

To the north, east, and south stretched an undulating plain. In the left foreground a frozen pond extends half a mile north-west to the village of Tenknitten; to the right the Waschkeiten lake, blanketed in snow. Slightly elevated ground occupies the space of 1000 yards between the two lakes, and the road runs along the highest crest.

Half a mile before Eylau, the road begins to descend. The substantial village lies in the valley, on both sides of the road. On the right side, the church and cemetery stand on a well-defined mound.

 February 7th, 2 PM

The French cavalry under the fiery Murat arrives in sections at the edge of the woods, across the road from Tenknitten Lake. The advanced guard of Marshal Soult's IV Corps moves up in support. Mindful of the ambush the day before, the horsemen are in no hurry to attack the Russians drawn up across the road in front of Eylau: they will await the infantry.

Soult impatiently sends the first men forward in piecemeal fashion. Their unsupported attack is a dismal failure. The Russians organize a counterattack with cavalry and infantry. Soult places his corps artillery on a slight rise and begins a bombarment. While his arriving units move through the woods on the right, Marshal Augereau's VII Corps moves out toward the lake. Feeling the pressure on their flanks, the Russians withdraw on their main body, and shortly thereafter into the village itself.

Image: "Napoleon on the field of Eylau" by Antoine-Jean Gros

The Battle of Eylau has begun

Eylau was one of three decisive battles simulated in The Habit of Victory. After the fall of Berlin on 26 October 1806, Napoleon turned to engage the surviving forces ofPrussia and the fresh armies of her Russian ally. With the first moves in December came the Battle of Pultusk where Napoleon's forward momentum was checked. Then came the inconclusive massacre of Eylau and a long period of recovery. Resuming hostilities in June, the armies met again at Friedland, where Napoleon used crushing strength to capture his long-delayed victory. The campaign ended in the complete collapse of Prussian power.

Image: Napoleon at the Battle of Friedland