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Siege of Danzig, 18 March-27 May 1807

Siege of Danzig, 18 March-27 May 1807


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Siege of Danzig, 18 March-27 May 1807

The siege of Danzig (18 March-27 May 1807) was the main French activity in the spring of 1807 and saw them capture one of the last strongholds in Prussian hands after the disastrous defeats of Jena and Auerstadt (War of the Fourth Coalition)

Although the main Prussian armies had been destroyed early in the campaign, Prussian resistance didn’t end. The King and Queen retreated in East Prussia, where they joined up with their Russian allies. A number of fortresses stayed in Prussian hands, including the important Baltic port of Danzig. Napoleon decided to conduct a winter campaign against the Russians, but this ended with the costly drawn battle of Eylau (8 February 1807). This was Napoleon's first real military setback on land, and left him in a potentially dangerous position isolated in eastern Europe. For the moment Austria was quiet, after her crushing defeat at Austerlitz, and the German states either defeated or allied with him, but further defeats might have inspired opposition. Napoleon thus spent much of the winter organising a new army in Germany, and finding replacements for his own army.

As part of the effort a new multi-national X Corps was formed, under the command of the veteran and respected Republican Marshal Lefebvre. The new corps had two Polish divisions, two Italian divisions, one French division (Menard), and troops from Saxony and Posen. As a new and untried unit it wasn't really suited for front line service, but Napoleon decided that it could handle the siege of Danzig. Chandler also suggests that Lefebvre was chosen to command the siege to give him a military victory that would justify his inclusion in Napoleon's new Imperial peerage, and he did indeed become Duke of Danzig after the siege. Lefebvre had 20,000 men from his own corps to conduct the siege, with Lannes and Mortier close enough to act as a reserve.

Danzig sat on the south bank of the River Vistula, close to the Baltic coast. The Vistula flowed west, parallel to the coast, then turned north at Danzig, split to flow around Holm Island and then into the sea at Neufahrwasser. The Royal Navy had a squadron in the Baltic, but Danzig was three miles inland, so command of the sea wasn't quite as vital as it could have been. Even so the French forces were split in two by the Vistula.

Danzig was defended by 14,400 infantry and 1,600 cavalry under the command of General Kalkreuth. He had 303 guns, 20 howitzers and 26 mortars under his command, and as a major port Danzig was filled with supplies.

Lefebvre was ordered to prepare for the siege of Danzig on 18 February. His troops advanced towards Danzig in early March, and drove back the Prussian outposts on 11 March. Danzig was formally invested on 18 March.

Lefebvre decided to make his main efforts to the west of Danzig. The first parallel was completed on 2 April and work began on the second parallel on 11 April. A second set of works were also built to the south-west of the city, The Prussians carried out a sortie on 11 April, but they were unable to slow down the work, and the second parallel was complete by 14 April. On 15-17 April fortifications were built north of the Vistula, facing the Prussian positions at the mouth of the river. On 24 April the heavy batteries were ready to open fire. A sortie on 26 April was unable to stop the French from completing the third parallel on 29 April. Finally, on 7 May, the French captured Helm Island, blocking the river route between Danzig and the coast.

This was just in time. On 10 May the Russians landed 8,000 men, commanded by General Kamenskoi, at Neufahrwasser on the coast. If the island had still been in Prussian hands then his task would have been easy, but its loss meant that the river route was blocked. Kamenskoi paused for four days, and this gave Lannes time to rush his nearest troops to the front. His first troops were in place by 12 May, and by the time the Russians finally attacked their route was blocked by forces under Generals Schramm and Gardenne.

Kamenskoi attacked on 14 May. He advanced along the narrow spit of land between the Vistula and the sea, hoping to recapture Helm Island. Lannes's leading troops managed to hold off the Russians long enough for Lannes and Oudinot to arrive with more troops. The attack failed and the Russians retreated having lost 1,500 men.

The garrison of Danzig had been curiously inactive during the Russian attack. They did carry out another sortie on 20 May but this was too late. On 21 May Marshal Mortier's corps joined the attacking forces, giving Lefebvre 47,900 men.

It was now clear that the fall of Danzig was only a matter of time. On 22 May Lefebvre sent an envoy with surrender terms, and Kalkreuth entered into talks. Napoleon was already planning to resume the offensive, with the start of his attack timetabled for 10 June, and so he was willing to offer generous terms. On 27 May the garrison of Danzig marched out with full honours of war, and they were then escorted to the Prussian outposts at Pillau, having agreed not to fight against the French or their allies for twelve months. Napoleon was now free to turn his attention to the Russians, but it would be the Russian commander Bennigsen who moved first, at the start of the campaign that led to the battle of Friedland.

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Napoleonic Timeline: 1807

1st January &ndash Napoleon 1st meets Maria Walewska for the first time. &ndash 5 January &ndash The city of Breslau (nowadays Wroclaw) surrenders. &ndash 7 January &ndash The British government reacts to the Berlin decree of 21 November 1806 by blocking all ports of France and French colonies. &ndash 13 January &ndash Poland is entirely evacuated by the Russians. &ndash 29 January &ndash End of winter quarters. &ndash 30 January &ndash Napoleon leaves Warsaw.

8 February &ndash Battle of Preussisch-Eylau. &ndash 12 February &ndash Fight of Marienwerder. &ndash 15 February &ndash The city of Schwednitz is taken by French army. &ndash 16 February &ndash Battle of Ostrolenka. &ndash 19 February &ndash Fight of Neugardt. &ndash 24 February &ndash Battle of Glatz. &ndash 25 February &ndash Fight of Peterswald. &ndash 26 February &ndash Taking of Braunsberg.

6 March &ndash Fight of Wittemburg. &ndash 7 March &ndash Fight of Zecheren. &ndash 12 March &ndash Start of the siege of Danzig. &ndash 20 March &ndash Five legions of reserves are created, composed of conscripts from 1808 they must defend the borders and coasts of the French Empire.

1st April &ndash Castle of Finckenstein becomes the headquarters of Napoleon. &ndash 7 April &ndash Class 1808 (80,000 men) is called in advance. &ndash 15 April &ndash From Napoleon 1 to Joseph Fouché: We must give the public a firmer direction . There is no question of talking incessantly about peace. This is the good way not to have it, but to implement protective measures on all points . &ndash 25 April &ndash A new alliance is signed between the King Frederick William III of Prussia and the Emperor Alexander I of Russia at Bartenstein. They undertake not to deal with Napoleon before France has been reduced to the boundary of the river Rhine.

4 May &ndash A pact of friendship is signed at Finckenstein between France and Persia. &ndash 17 May &ndash The sword of Frederick the Great solemnly enters the Invalides. &ndash 26 May &ndash City of Danzig surrenders to Marshal Lefebvre.

6 June &ndash Napoleon leaves Finckenstein and enters into campaign. &ndash 14 June &ndash Battle of Friedland. &ndash 16 June &ndash French enter Koenigsberg (nowadays Kaliningrad). &ndash 19 June &ndash Arrival of Napoleon at Tilsit. &ndash 21 June &ndash A one-month truce with Russia is signed at Tilsit. &ndash 25 June &ndash Two Emperors Napoleon and Alexander I meet on a raft in the middle of the river Niemen. &ndash 28 June &ndash King of Prussia arrives in Tilsit. &ndash 29 June &ndash The three monarchs are holding a friendly conference.

4 July &ndash In the Mercure de France (french newspaper): In vain Nero prospers. Tacitus is already born in the Empire , signed: François-René de Chateaubriand. &ndash 6 July &ndash The Queen Louise of Prussia arrives at her turn at Tilsit. &ndash 8 July &ndash The Peace Treaty of Tilsit and a Franco-Russian alliance are signed. &ndash 9 July &ndash Napoleon I leaves Tilsit. &ndash 21 July &ndash Prefects of the French Empire are ranked by results obtained in hunting for draft evaders. &ndash 22 July &ndash The Great-Duchy of Warsaw is created. &ndash 27 July &ndash Return of Napoleon at Saint-Cloud. &ndash 29 July &ndash An army of 20,000 men is gathered in Bayonne (Southwest France) in order to invade Portugal, which is still trading with England.

9 August &ndash Talleyrand leaves the Foreign Ministry. &ndash 11 August &ndash The King of Denmark receives from the British government summons to join the anti-French coalition. &ndash 15 August &ndash A Te Deum is sung at Notre-Dame-de-Paris, on the occasion of Napoleon's bithday and to celebrate peace, Napoleon himself attending. &ndash 18 August &ndash Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon's youngest brother, is named King of Westphalia. &ndash 19 August &ndash The Tribunes are removed by Senatus consultum. Its powers are transferred to the legislative body. &ndash 27 August &ndash Note of Napoleon to Emmanuel Crétet, Minister of Interior: Caring for the Imperial Library, first by organizing it. We need a leader for all.

2nd September &ndash Bombardment of Copenhagen by the English. &ndash 3rd September &ndash The interest rate of money is limited by law to five percent in civil and six per cent in trade. &ndash 7 September &ndash Copenhagen surrenders to the English. &ndash 11 September &ndash The french Commercial Code is published. &ndash 14 September &ndash Surrender of the British expeditionary force in Egypt to Muhammad Ali. &ndash 16 September &ndash The Court of Auditors is created in Paris.

10 October &ndash A treaty outlining the boundaries between the Austrian provinces and the Kingdom of Italy is signed. &ndash 12 October &ndash General Jean-Andoche Junot is ordered to cross the Spanish border, within twenty-four hours. &ndash 14 October &ndash Napoleon establishes measures to be taken by allies of France in order to maintain the continental blockade. &ndash 15 October &ndash From Napoleon to the ambassador of Portugal: If Portugal does not do what I want, the House of Braganza will no longer reign in Europe in two months . &ndash 17 October &ndash The French army enters Spain after crossing the Pyrenees Mountains. &ndash 20 October &ndash The British evacuate Copenhagen, but take the Danish fleet. Portugal officially declares war to England. &ndash 22 October &ndash A secret alliance is concluded between Portugal and England. &ndash 27 October &ndash A secret treaty of Fontainebleau between France and Spain plans the sharing of Portugal.

1st November &ndash A Superintendent of entertainment is created the four main theaters of the capital will be under his authority. &ndash 11 November &ndash An English government injunction requires all neutral ships to pass through England before landing on the continent. &ndash 16 November &ndash Napoleon I leaves for Milan. &ndash 23 November &ndash In Milan he takes the following decree: Any ship, under any flag whatever, having been visited by English or having entered a port in England, will be considered as English and treated as such . &ndash 29 November &ndash Prince Regent of Portugal and his family board for Brazil on a British ship. &ndash 30 November &ndash The French enter Lisbon.

3rd December &ndash The twenty richest merchants and bankers of Lisbon subscribe to a forced loan of two million Cruzadas. &ndash 14 December &ndash Inauguration of the French flag in Lisbon, which causes a popular riot. &ndash 23 December &ndash Portugal is imposed a contribution of one hundred million Francs.


Siege of Danzig, 18 March-27 May 1807 - History

The Duchy of Pomerania existed from the 12th century until mid 17th century. From the late 12th century, the Griffin Duchy of Pomerania stayed with the Holy Roman Empire and the Principality of Rugia (Rügen) with Denmark, while Denmark, Brandenburg, Poland and the Teutonic Knights struggled for control in Samboride Pomerelia. The Teutonic Knights absorbed Pomerelia in the early 14th century.

Pomerania became a predominantly German area, while the Slavic Pomeranians, or “Kashubians,” continued to settle in the rural East. In 1325, the Griffins inherited the principality of Rugia and Pomerelia became subject to the Polish Crown in 1466 as a part of Royal Prussia with the defeat of the Teutonic Order. In 1534, the Duchy of Pomerania adopted the Protestant reformation while the Kashubians of Pomerelia remained Catholic. The Thirty Years’ War was brutal in most of Pomerania and the house of Griffin was extinguished. The Duchy of Pomerania was divided between Sweden and Brandenburg-Prussia in 1648.

Prussia gained the southern parts of Swedish Pomerania in 1720, Pomerelia in 1772, and the remainder of Swedish Pomerania in 1815. The former Duchy of Pomerania was reorganized into the Prussian Province of Pomerania, while Pomerelia was transformed into the Province of West Prussia. With Prussia, both provinces joined the newly constituted German Empire in 1871.

Except for the eastern-most districts, which were in ancient times partly Polish and where a small Polish-speaking minority remained, Pomerania was German for almost all of modern history. The historical capital of the Prussian province of Pomerania, which stretched almost to Danzig, was the stately and intellectual city of Stettin. Until 1637, Stettin, a fortress as early as the 12th century, was the residence of the dukes of Pomerania and an important member of the Hanseatic League. At the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, it passed to Sweden, but was ceded to Prussia in 1720.

Rostock, 1587

Greifswald 1532

Anklam 16th century

Danzig

Elbing

Stetten

Greifswald, home of artist Caspar David Friedrich, is located near the Bay of Greifswald, part of the Baltic Sea between the islands of Rügen and Usedom. It was settled primarily by Germans and became a well-known market for the salt trade. When the Danes surrendered the Pomeranian lands south of the Ryck in 1227, the town became of great interest to the Pomeranian dukes, who with the Rugian prince, granted Greifswald market rights in 1241. Greifswald became one of the earliest members of the Hanseatic League at the end of the 13th century, which further increased its prosperity. In 1456, the foundations were laid for another of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Greifswald. After the Thirty Years’ War, which had disasterous effects on the town, Greifswald became part of the Kingdom of Sweden in 1631 and remained in Swedish Pomerania until 1815, when it became part of the Prussian Province of Pomerania.

The town of Swinemünde was on the island of Usedom. The river Swina ran to the Prussian Baltic coast between two small fishing villages, East and West Swina, and when the river was dredged and widened for larger ships at the beginning of the 17th century, Swinemünde was founded on the site of old West Swina. Friedrich the Great granted the town its privileges in 1765, and it served as the outer port of Stettin. The quaint town, with its “Dutch” style houses, grew up with a fishing and shipping industry, and its fortified entrance to the harbor was protected by two long breakwaters with the lighthouse on tiny Wolin Island protecting sailors of old. In 1897, the Kaiserfahrt canal was opened, with the waterway deepened between the Stettin harbor and the Baltic, and Swinemünde no longer had much strategic importance and it became a tourist resort town.

Kolberg, another small city in Pomerania, was on the right bank of the Persante, which flows to the Baltic. A statue of Friedrich Wilhelm III graced its marketplace and many of its buildings dated from the 14th century. German Kolberg was one of the oldest places of Pomerania, having been granted city rights in 1255. In 1284, it became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Swedes captured the town in 1631 during the Thirty Years’ War, then it passed by the treaty of Westphalia to Friedrich Wilhelm I, elector of Brandenburg, who fortified it. During the Seven Years War, it was a center of activity, and in 1758 and 1760, the Russians laid siege to it, finally capturing it in 1762. Eventually restored to Brandenburg, it was attacked by the French in 1806 and 1807, but was saved by the long resistance of its inhabitants under the heroism of Joachirn Christian Nettelbeck, 1738-1824. It then faded in its glory, but it became a fashionable resort area.

Anklam obtained German town status in 1244, and in 1283 became a member of the Hanseatic League. Although the town was a rather small, the association brought wealth and prosperity wealth to Anklam. Swedish and Imperial troops battled here for almost twenty years for Anklam during the Thirty Years’ War, after which the town became a part of Swedish Pomerania until 1676. In 1713, it was plundered by the Russian Empire. The southern parts of the town, were ceded to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1720, while the smaller part north of the Peene River remained Swedish. Anklam was a divided town until 1815, when all of Western Pomerania became Prussian.

Stralsund, a medieval city by the sea, was founded in 1234 by settlers from Rügen, and grew with the arrival of Germans a short time later. After an attack by shipping rival Lübeck in 1249, the town was rebuilt with a massive city walls, gates and watch towers. Stralsund became a member of the Hansa, and 300 of her ships sailed the Baltic by the 14th century. At the Treaty of Westphalia, she was handed to Sweden. In 1815,Stralsund went from Swedish control to Prussian.

It received German city rights in 1343, but the oldest town seal dates from the 13th century and indicates that the town may have received city rights even before 1308.It became one of the four major towns of the Hanseatic League. With increasing passage through the Sound separating Sweden and Denmark in the late 14th century, Scottish trade with the eastern Baltic, especially Königsberg and Danzig, grew rapidly. Evidence proves that timbers in Scottish buildings originated from this area at this time. In 1455, Danzig shed the Teutonic Order and was formally ceded to the Polish king along with the whole of West Prussia at the peace of Thorn. However, it was still allowed free city rights, and it governed a large territory of over thirty villages.

There were 3150 master craftsmen in Danzig of a population of some 50,000 by the turn of the 16th century, almost all of whom were German, and old shipping records demonstrate that by then a wide variety of goods were being traded with Danzig. It was in then that the settlement of New Scotland appeared in Danzig, with many Scottish emigrants in the Danzig Bürgerbuch.

Danzig was an autonomous city during most of the 16th century and, as the power of the Hansa as well as of various Teutonic orders waned, Danzig still prospered, mostly from its massive grain trade. With the counter-reformation, King Sigismund of Poland tried to reduce the power of the protestant city council by imposing the Statuta Karnkowiana upon the city, but it was largely ignored until Stephan Bathory succeeded Sigismund. Danzig’s City Council refused to pay homage to the Polish throne until the city’s old autonomy was recognised, and Bathory laid siege to the city in 1577. The siege was strongly resisted and, in a negotiated settlement, the city paid 200,000 Gulden to the Polish crown so that the autonomy of the city was allowed to continue.

It suffered severely through various wars of the 17th and 18th centuries. At the first partition of Poland in 1772, Danzig was separated from Poland again and in 1793 it came into the possession of Prussia who repaired, improved and heavily invested in the city. In 1807, during the French and Prussian War, it was bombarded and captured by the French, and Marshal Lefebvre took the ostentatious title of “Duke of Danzig.”

At Tilsit, Napoleon restored it to its ancient territory and declared it a free town, but under the protection of France, Prussia and Saxony. With a corrupt French governor in place, Danzig’s trade was soon ruined. It was given back to Prussia in 1814, and Prussia once again repaired, improved and invested even more into the city. It finally became part of the German Empire.

During the Middle Ages, the Old Prussian settlement of Truso was located near the site of German Elbing. Elbing, thirty five miles east of Danzig, was founded by German tradesmen in the 13th century, and the Teutonic Knights who conquered the region and populated it with more Germans. After the defeat of the Teutonic Knights, the city successively passed under the control of Poland, Prussia, and Germany.

With a history similar to Danzig, Elbing was built with German architecture, money and work, enjoyed a fully German-speaking community, and had a German majority for more than 700 years.


Grave robbers steal Charlie Chaplin’s body

In one of history’s most famous cases of body-snatching, two men steal the corpse of the revered film actor Sir Charles Chaplin from a cemetery in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey, located in the hills above Lake Geneva, near Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 1, 1978.

A comic actor who was perhaps most famous for his alter ego, the Little Tramp, Chaplin was also a respected filmmaker whose career spanned Hollywood’s silent film era and the momentous transition to “talkies” in the late 1920s. Chaplin died on Christmas Day in 1977, at the age of 88. Two months later, his body was stolen from the Swiss cemetery, sparking a police investigation and a hunt for the culprits.

After Chaplin’s widow, Oona, received a ransom demand of some $600,000, police began monitoring her phone and watching 200 phone kiosks in the region. Oona had refused to pay the ransom, saying that her husband would have thought the demand “ridiculous.” The callers later made threats against her two youngest children. Oona Chaplin was Charlie’s fourth wife (after Mildred Harris, Lita Grey and Paulette Goddard) and the daughter of the playwright Eugene O’Neill. She and Chaplin were married in 1943, when she was 18 and he was 54 they had eight children together. The family had settled in Switzerland in 1952 after the controversial Chaplin—whom his enemies accused of being a Communist sympathizer—learned he would be denied a reentry visa to the United States en route to the London premiere of his film Limelight.

After a five-week investigation, police arrested two auto mechanics—Roman Wardas, of Poland, and Gantscho Ganev, of Bulgaria—who on May 17 led them to Chaplin’s body, which they had buried in a cornfield about one mile from the Chaplin family’s home in Corsier. That December, Wardas and Ganev were convicted of grave robbing and attempted extortion. Political refugees from Eastern Europe, Wardas and Ganev apparently stole Chaplin’s body in an attempt to solve their financial difficulties. Wardas, identified as the mastermind of the plot, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years of hard labor. As he told it, he was inspired by a similar crime that he had read about in an Italian newspaper. Ganev was given an 18-month suspended sentence, as he was believed to have limited responsibility for the crime. As for Chaplin, his family reburied his body in a concrete grave to prevent future theft attempts.


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1981 Walter Cronkite signs off as anchorman of "CBS Evening News"

Election of Interest

1983 Helmut Kohl's CDU/CSU wins West German parliament elections

    In New Bedford, Massachusetts, woman charges she was gang-raped atop a pool table US Football League begins its 1st season Twelve-month-long strike in British coal industry begins. Enos Slaughter & Arky Vaughan are elected to baseball Hall of Fame

Boxing Title Fight

1985 Future undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson KOs Hector Mercedes at 1:47 in round 1 of 4 in Albany, NY in his first professional fight

Event of Interest

1985 Yul Brynner appears in his 4,500th performance of "The King & I"

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Event of Interest

1991 Following Iraq's capitulation in the Persian Gulf conflict, US President George H. W. Bush told Congress that "aggression is defeated. The war is over"

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Event of Interest

1997 Picasso's painting Tête de Femme is stolen from a London gallery, and is recovered a week later.

Event of Interest

1998 British Union Flag begins to be flown full-mast over Buckingham Palace whenever British monarch not in residence, following change of protocol after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales

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Event of Interest

2000 Long-time Boston Bruin defenseman Ray Bourque is traded to the Colorado Avalanche

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Event of Interest

2017 US President Donald Trump signs his second executive order barring travelers from 6 mostly-Muslim countries for 90 days but leaves out Iraq

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Canonization

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Battles on the Arc de Triomphe

There are 158 battles listed on the Arc de Triomphe. These inscriptions commemorate French victories during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. Some of these battles may not be considered French victories by some historians, though the French commission that selected the battles may have considered them a victory in that the French achieved their strategic objectives, made a heroic effort, or even escaped a catastrophic defeat. Regardless, the commission made its suggestions of battles, of which a subset were approved for inclusion on the monument.

I have grouped the battles by war, theater of war, or year, with the name on the Arc de Triomphe (typically all capital letters) and a more common name of the battle. The source I have used most for this research is Arnauld Divry's Les Noms Gravés sur l'Arc de Triomphe, published in 2017. He has done extensive research on the subject. Unfortunately, I do not have high resolution photographs of the Arc de Triomphe to ensure the spelling of the inscriptions is 100% correct and I am instead citing the spelling in Divry's work.

The thirty battles with a shield next to them indicate battles that are considered great. These thirty battles are inscribed on shields facing outwards from the Arc de Triomphe, as opposed to the other battles inscribed on the inner walls of the monument.

Blue battle indicates detailed explanation by Nathan D. Jensen
Green battle indicates short description
indicates link to Wikipedia article


Siege of Danzig, 18 March-27 May 1807 - History

The Soldiers of Hesse Nassau

Operations in Pomerania: Sieges of Graudenz, Colberg and Stralsund.

Translated by Greg Gorsuch

The great operations against the Prussians were finished our allies from Hesse and Nassau would not wage open war against the Russians and would not appear at Eylau or Friedland: but they would be employed in siege warfare, and we will find the Hessians under the walls of Graudenz (Grudziądz), the soldiers of Nassau under those of Colberg (Kołobrzeg), and finally the two contingents gathered in front of the Swedish fortress of Stralsund.

FIRST OPERATIONS IN SWEDISH POMERANIA

At the beginning of the year 1807, Marshal Mortier, with the 8 th Corps brought to nearly 30,000 men, had received from Napoleon, an order to ensure the execution of the continental blockade, the mission of occupying the Hanseatic towns as well as Mecklenburg, and to guard the mouths of the Weser, the Elbe, and the Trave. He was to operate against the Swedish corps commanded by General Essen: the latter, landed with 15,000 men in Swedish Pomerania, counted on the support of the English and firmly occupied Stralsund and the island of Rugen where defensive work was carried out.

Mortier established his headquarters at Anklam, on the right bank of the Peene, and, while remaining in contact with the Grand Army, he marched against Stralsund at the end of January, with the hope of bringing down this place after a bombardment and then seize Rugen.

Arrived in front of the Swedish fortress, he immediately began the investment, had established approach batteries and built a work intended to prevent communications between the place and the island of Rugen. But the reinforcements sent from Stralsund to the other threatened points, and especially those which he himself had to lead in front of Colberg, obliged him to leave before Stralsund at the end of March only the Grandjean Division itself: General Essen, informed of the reduction of the siege corps, took the opportunity to attack Grandjean: the latter was driven back to Stettin, where he arrived on 7 April after suffering heavy losses.

At this news, the Emperor ordered Marshal Mortier to march on Stettin with part of the troops of the siege corps of Colberg, and to rally the Grandjean Division there he sent reinforcements to him and the Marshal resumed the offensive on the Peene. The four Nassau battalions stationed in Berlin each sent 2 companies to Pasewalk where Mortier assembled 12,000 men Colonel von Schäffer, commanded this detachment from Nassau, came himself to the assembly on 15 April.

The following day, the French marched on Ferdinandshof: the Swedish General Armfeld established himself there and posted part of his troops to Üeckermünde with Colonel Kardell Armfeld, vigorously attacked by our troops and the Nassau companies, was defeated and thrown back with great losses on Anklam. On 17 April, General Baux was sent with the 72 nd Regiment and the Nassau detachment against Colonel Kardell who was cut off at Üeckermünde: the Swedes lost 500 prisoners and 2 cannons there their debris only escaped destruction by a rapid embarkation on the gunboats which took part in the combat.

Following these events, an armistice was signed on 18 April between Mortier and the Swedes the 8 th Corps then established itself in cantonments between Pasewalk and Stettin, and the Nassau companies soon returned to Berlin.

Let us leave our allies of Nassau in the Prussian capital and return to the Hessians who left Berlin and Spandau at the end of 1806 to go to Bromberg, on the Vistula, where they passed to the division of General Rouyer, under the orders of Marshal Ney commanding the 6 th Corps of the Grande Armée. During the night of 26 to 27 December, 40 Prussian hussars burst into Bromberg: but the Hessian light horses soon drove back these enemy scouts. A few days later, on 14 January 1807, Lieutenant Dalwigk, of the Hessian light horses, took at Freystadt a Prussian convoy of 14 carriages of flour destined for the fortress of Graudenz.

From Bromberg, Ney moved the Hessians through Thorn and Gollup to Strasburg and Lautenburg. They established themselves in observation on the line of the Drevens, covering the left flank and the rear of the 6 th Corps against the movements of the enemy which could come from Graudenz and Marienwerder. The situation of the Hessians was very distressing: the soldiers had no coats, their shoes were in a pitiful condition and many men walked with bare feet: so there were a large number of sick people. The Major General, informed, delivered to them 3,696 coats, as many pants, 1,500 pairs of shoes and 60 pairs of boots…

FIRST BLOCKADE OF GRAUDENZ

The Hessians stay on the Drevens was not of long duration: from 17 January 1807, Rouyer’ s division, under the orders of Bernadotte commanding the 1 st Corps of the Grande Armée, received the order to go blockade Graudenz, a very strong place located on a height overlooking the Vistula north of Thorn. The Hessians left on 20 January with some French dragoons of the 18 th Regiment: the next day, in a reconnaissance of the place, the light horse had a first engagement with Prussian Jägers at Engelsburg, and on the 22 nd a second at Réhkrug that same day General Rouyer attacked the town of Graudenz with the 3 battalions of Hessian fusiliers of Colonel Schäffer and the skirmishers of the brigades of the Guard and the Corps. He was at the head of these troops, with General Werner during this time the 2 battalions of the “Crown Prince” brigade and 160 French hussars threaten the fortress in the north and in the east and helped to repel a counterattack with no other loss than 3 killed, 15 wounded and 10 prisoners, the Hessians entered the city on the heels of the Prussians who were confined to the fortress.

That same evening General Rouyer wrote to General Werner:

Please, Mr. General, send a second officer of your staff to the Prince of Ponte-Corvo to whom I report how distinguished the Hessian troops behaved in the days of yesterday and the day before yesterday. Let them know, by means of a plan of the day, how satisfied I myself was with their conduct and the good order they observed in the attack on Graudenz.

As a result of this brilliant fight, the fortress was invested. It was defended by 4,000 Prussians under the orders of a Frenchman of origin, the Homme-de-Courbière.

But the Russian offensive on the lower Vistula on 12 January forced us to lift the blockade of Graudenz on the 27 th : the 1 st Corps gathered near Lobau as well as the 6 th , and Rouyer took the Hessians to Rheden he failed to be kidnapped at Bialakowo on the night of 28-29 by a detachment of Prussian Corps Guards belonging to General Borstell’s corps: Lieutenant-Colonel Debaine, Rouyer’s first aide-de-camp, the two picket officers and 30 Hessian soldiers of the Guard brigade were taken prisoner by the Prussians, while the General’s six escort light horse defended themselves with carbines in their stable, saddled their horses and managed to escape: as for General Rouyer, he jumped out of a window, without boots, gets well off and arrived at Rheden with his feet half frozen: the Hessian General Werner had to temporarily take command of the division, which passed to the 10 th Corps this army corps had been commanded until then by Marshal Victor, but the latter having been taken prisoner by enemy scouts on his way by carriage from Graudenz to Colberg, his command had been entrusted to Marshal Lefebvre, under whose orders the troops destined for the sieges of Graudenz, Colberg and Danzig were placed.

Rouyer’s division received on 31 January the order to fall back on Thorn the Hessians did the garrison service there and managed to make a certain number of coats with sheets of all colors requisitioned in Graudenz: all these coats were given to the 3 fusilier battalions, sent on 2 February to Bromberg to support the rejection of General Dombrowski from Danzig. Lefebvre reviewed the 6 Hessian battalions on the 4 th and reproached General Werner for the weakness of his troops: in the retreat to Thorn many soldiers without coats and shoes had fallen ill as a result of the cold, the cases of freezing had been numerous and there were a large number of frozen ears, noses, hands and feet.

The defeat of the Russians at Eylau led to a new offensive by Bernadotte’s corps which moved to Osterode, and that of Lefebvre which marched on Freystadt with the 6 battalions of musketeers and the artillery of Hesse,[1] 2 French light infantry battalions, 6 horse artillery pieces and the Spanish cavalry division reinforced with Polish cavalry and light horse from Darmstadt.

During the march of Lefebvre from Rheden on Lessen, on 8 February, the Hessian light horse, in the vanguard, fell at Groß Schönwald on Prussian dragoons which they drove back and pursued: the Captain von Münchingen distinguished himself in this engagement, and on the 10 th , near Garnsee, he charged around 60 Prussian cavalrymen, from whom he took 36 men and 20 horses.

SECOND BLOCKADE AND SIEGE OF GRAUDENZ

On 11 February, the second capture of the city of Graudenz and the new investment of the fortress took place. General Zayonchek took command of the blockade corps and the Hessians were temporarily dispersed: 3 battalions were sent to Marienwerder with General Rouyer Marshal Lefebvre took General von Nagel’s Hessian Brigade (du Corps Regiment and 1 st Guard Battalion) to Preußisch Eylau, then sent it to Thorn where the Darmstadt troops who remained under Graudenz[2] also joined it only Poles remained in front of this place.

Marshal Lefebvre witnessed, on the road to Marienwerder, a fight against the partisans of General Rouquette belonging to the Lestocq corps by 2 companies of French light infantry, the Spanish Division and the Hessian light horse: the latter pursued the Prussians as far as Weisshof, and the enemy withdrew to Mèwe with a loss of 8 officers, 236 men and 191 horses the Marshal, congratulating the Hessian horsemen, addressed these words to them: “We will no longer say brave like a Frenchman, but brave like a Hessian!”

On 3 March, the troops of Darmstadt returned under Graudenz whose blockade was to be transformed into a regular siege, and they relieved the Poles recalled to the Grand Army. General Savary, commanding the siege troops,[3] had the village of Neudorf located near the town attacked on 16 March and taken: it was General von Nagel who carried out the operation with the Regiment du Corps the 1 st Guard Battalion and the 2 nd Crown Prince were in reserve this affair during which the light horses stopped a counter-attack coming from the town, costing the Hessians only 2 killed and 31 wounded.

A few days later, on 16 April, Sergeant Mohr, from skirmishers of the Hessian Guard, approached with 3 men the hornwork of the town. Soon stopped by an enemy sentry, he shouts: “Halt! Patrol!” and advanced alone as far as the Prussian sentry, whom he abruptly bodily took by the arms and brings back prisoner to the Hessian camp decorated for this feat of arms, Mohr was moreover, as was customary, invited to the table of the commander of the siege corps.

It was in front of Graudenz that the Hessian regiments finally received from their depots the new coats made in Darmstadt these precious clothes, the absence of which had been so harshly felt, arrived at the same time as a detachment of reinforcements.

The trench was opened on 28 May: the capture of Danzig allowed the large artillery necessary to beat down the town to be brought the first parallel was open during the night of 28 to 29 June, 480 meters from the rampart. But the armistice of 29 June suspended hostilities which ended on 9 July, when peace was signed at Tilsit with Prussia.

The French and allied troops of the siege corps were then directed on Stralsund because the kings of Sweden and England continued the war against France.

An order from the Chief of Staff, dated 8 March, had prescribed the dispatch of a Hessian battalion to the Imperial Headquarters: the 2 nd Battalion of the Hessian Guard, immediately directed to Osterode (11 March), followed the Emperor to Finkenstein[4] (1 April), Mohrungen, Deppen (Kalisty), Altreischau. The 1 st Battalion of this same regiment, which came on 27 April to Marienwerder, met with the 2 nd at Altreischau and the entire Guard Regiment accompanied the Imperial Headquarters on Preußisch-Eylau, Domnau, Friedland (16 June) — where it crossed the battlefield and left 200 men there to transport the wounded and bury the dead it arrived on 19 June at Tilsit, was in Königsberg on 13 July, in Elbing on the 24 th , in Driesen on 12 August the Emperor having returned to Berlin, the Guard Regiment went to Stettin (17 August), meeting in Stargard with the Crown Prince Regiment and left with the latter for the siege of Stralsund.

SIEGE OF COLBERG

The stronghold of Colberg, on the left bank of the Persante and a quarter of a mile from the North Sea, included an enclosure with external works, reinforced by a third line of entrenchments, redoubts, arrows, batteries detached support points, solidly organized before the front of the town, completed the whole of the defense: that of Wolfsberg was the most important because of its command over the city.

We will not repeat the detailed history of the siege of Colberg here:[5] we will only recall its general lines, so as to be able to follow the troops of Nassau during the two short stays they made in front of this town.

General Teulié who had invested Colberg with Italian troops at the end of February General Loison received command of the siege corps (24 April) on arriving in front of the place of reinforcements which included the 8 companies of Nassau of Colonel de Schäffer previously placed at the disposal of Marshal Mortier for his attack against the Swedes. These troops left Berlin with Colonel Schäffer who received on this occasion from General Clarke the following letter:[6]

Berlin, 22 June 1807.

It is with great sorrow that I see you leaving Berlin with the majority of your brigade, and yet I must perhaps be reproached for having contributed a little to depriving it of opportunities to acquire fame, if it was not during the hostilities of the Swedes when your presence and that of the brave men whom you commanded were so useful to the 8 th Corps of the Grand Army.

I could not bring myself to part with those who have supported me so well in maintaining good order, not only in Berlin, but also in a large part of the government entrusted to me.

This is what prompted me to pray to His Majesty the Emperor and King to keep you here as long as He has deigned to allow it.

I owe you a lot in particular, my dear Colonel, to you who are the soul of this excellent brigade of Nassau and who inspired in it the love of discipline and the good spirit which drives it.

You have therefore responded to the wishes of your worthy Prince and have earned the confidence of all French people.

My best wishes accompany you to Colberg, where I hope you will find the opportunity to show yourself as good allies of France and as real soldiers.

I do not want you to leave me, my dear Colonel, without taking away a small token of my friendship, and I hope you will keep it because of that of which you have given me proof.

Thank your whole corps for me and tell them that I will never forget its good way of serving and the rights it has acquired to my esteem and my attachment.

I embrace you, my dear Colonel, with all my heart.

Major General, Governor General of Berlin, Secretary of the Imperial Cabinet,

On their arrival in front of Colberg the companies of Nassau were installed in the bivouac on the Wald Feld, to the right of the line occupied by the troops of the siege, between the Polish regiment of Prince Sulkowski and the regiment of the Duchies of Saxony they remained there only until 28 April: relieved at this time by 2 battalions from Württemberg, they returned to Berlin where the rest of the Nassau brigade had stayed.

The siege of Colberg did not really begin until the end of April, when the Prussian Major Gneisenau came to take charge of the defense: an active defense if ever there was one the new governor relentlessly built works to delay the approaches of the assailant, who was obliged to advance step by step and to remove by force all the roadblocks opposing its march he made Wolfsberg the main fulcrum of the place, put the suburb of Lauenburg into a state of defense, developed the flooding network: in short, forty-five days after the opening of the trenches, General Loison could barely start the regular siege.

To put an end to this recalcitrant place, the Emperor brought the force of the siege corps to 14,000 men: the 2 nd , 3 rd and 4 th Battalions of Nassau bet from Berlin and arrived on 26 June in front of Colberg: at this time, the brave General Teulié died as a result of a wound received in the trench, but the fortress was blockaded on both banks of the Persante, the Wolfsberg (now Fort-Loison) fell into the hands of the besiegers whose approaches had reached, on the Kloster Feld, up to the limit of the flooded area stretching south of the suburb of Lauenburg.

The 3 battalions of Nassau, joined with the French 3 rd Light Infantry Regiment, under the orders of General Fririon, found their former bivouacs in Wald Feld, to the right of our lines, and supplied each day, upon their arrival, 300 men to the trench and 5 picket companies. They took part in the battles fought on the attack fronts on 29 and 30 June, and attended, without being engaged, the general attack on 2 July: the Maikühle, a work which commanded the port, and the port itself being captured by the besiegers since the day before, it was against the fort of l’Embouchure, the last work of the place, that the attackers were marching:

While the bombardment continued with regularity and fires broke out, on all sides in the place, the troops of the siege left Fort-Loison and marched on the fort of l’Embouchure. The Prussians came to the aid of the threatened work, and the fight became fierce: finally, the assault columns were formed and would rush forward, when a French officer and a Prussian officer brought the news of the armistice concluded on 25 June at Tilsit between Prussia and France: the fire was immediately interrupted on both sides, and, under the clouds of smoke from the powder that the wind had not yet blown away, besieged and besiegers held out their hands in sign of esteem and peace.[7]

Peace having been signed on 9 July between Frederick William and Napoleon, the battalions of Nassau did not remain any longer in front of Colberg: they were urgently sent to Marshal Brune, whom the Emperor was directing on Stralsund at the news that the King of Sweden had resumed hostilities.

SIEGE OF STRALSUND

Following the armistice concluded between Marshal Mortier and the Swedes, the Grandjean Division, which remained alone in Swedish Pomerania, had passed, at the beginning of May 1807, under the orders of Marshal Brune in charge of forming an observation corps between the Weser and the Oder, with headquarters in Schwerin.

On 12 May, the King of Sweden arrived in Stralsund: he secured by treaty the aid of a Prussian corps which would participate in the operations of the Swedes: Blücher, in Rugen, organized this corps with escaped Prussian prisoners and volunteers, reinforced it with part of Schill’s troops who came by sea from Colberg, and finally landed in Pomerania at the beginning of June.

Not content with the support of these Prussian troops, the King of Sweden obtained from the English Government, by the London Convention (17 June), that a corps of 8,000 Anglo-Germans would land immediately at Rugen: encouraged by these aids, the King denounced the armistice on 3 July: operations could start again on the 13 th .

As soon as the armistice was denounced, Marshal Brune received as reinforcements some of the troops of the former Colberg siege corps, and in particular the 3 battalions of Nassau of Colonel von Schäffer who entered the Pino Division.

On the other hand, the Hessians gathered at the headquarters of Grandjean having also become available as a result of peace with Prussia, on 17 July leaving the camp established in front of this town and also left for Stralsund where they were quartered in reserve on 5 August, in Franzburg and Richtenberg.

Brune crossed the line of demarcation on 13 August and Pino marched by Demmin on Grimmen: abandoned by Blücher as a consequence of the stipulations of the armistice, and by the English who re-embarked to carry out operations on Copenhagen, the Swedes isolated and discouraged, withdrew to Stralsund, of which Brune immediately began the siege Pino’s division was placed to the right of the contravallation line in front of Voigdehagen and close to the sea the battalions of Nassau, on the extreme right, occupied the redoubts known as 4,5 and 6.

On 6 August, in a brilliant fight, the advanced troops of the Swedes were thrown back into the covered path of the town Colonel von Schäffer took part in this affair, after which General Pino issued the following agenda:

‘I cannot congratulate the Nassau Regiment enough on the distinguished conduct they have shown in all recent affairs. To affirm the brilliant attitude of this corps in the combat of 6 August, I bring to the attention of the troops the report of General Thouvenot.

I am honored to say that the Nassau regiment did not fire a fusil until they came within close range of the enemy, and that they pursued them to their works.’

While Nassau was still fighting on 11 August in front of the town, the Hessians settled in the Pütte Camp, where they were rallied with all the troops of the contingent who were not before Graudenz (Guard Regiment, Crown Prince Regiment, artillery), and by a volunteer battalion from Darmstadt.[8] The Hessian artillery would join the park, where French, Spanish, Italian, Bavarian, Dutch, Baden and Grand Duchy of Berg batteries are next to each other.

The opening of the trenches takes place on August 15, the Emperor’s feast day, under the protection of a thick line of skirmishers, while the music plays in the camps: it is carried out up to 500 paces of glacis of Fort Franken and the bridgehead the construction of the batteries begins without further delay and approaches are pushed forward.

Part of the inhabitants of Stralsund took refuge in Rugen, where the king of Sweden had his artillery and ammunition transported, had decided to give up the town to the French and to withdraw his troops in Dänholm and the Island of Rugen. On 18 August, the Swedes spiked all the artillery pieces of the advanced works, broke their carriages and embarked, taking all the existing boats, barks and means of passage from Stralsund. Brune immediately occupied the place and gathered there by land 200 boats which would allow him to continue operations against the islands of Dänholm and Rugen. Batteries kept the enemy gunboats away, and the bombardment of Fort Dänholm blew up the only powder magazine of the Swedes.

During the night of 24 to 25 August, General Fririon with 1,200 men moved on 160 boats across the arm of the sea which separates Stralsund from Dänholm he seized the fort, advanced into the island as far as the redoubts where the Swedes have taken refuge: the latter, giving up their defense, capitulated and left us masters of 17 officers, 500 men and 14 pieces of cannon Fririon had only 15 killed and 26 wounded, despite the fire of the enemy gunboats. The Nassau battalions and the Hessians took part in this glorious affair, as a result of which Marshal Brune wrote to the Grand Duke at Darmstadt that ‘the Hessians fought with an intrepidity which deserves the highest praise’.

Continuing his successes, the Marshal prepared to attack Rugen: he received from Stettin, Anklam, a large number of crafts and could now carry 3,500 infantry with artillery and 80 horses at the same time the larger of these ships were armed into floating batteries to protect the passage of the expedition against Swedish warships. The first troops to land on the island had the task of removing the Swedish coast batteries and returning the pieces, subsequent landings to be made under the protection of this artillery: then, we would advance in the Isle…

But this daring program was not carried out: in fact the King of Sweden had left Rugen on 31 August, leaving General Toll full powers to deal with the abandonment of the island to the French: this decision came from the discouragement of the Swedish army abandoned by its allies, and the approach of the equinox which was to make embarkation and crossing very difficult for the Swedes also, General Toll signed on 7 September an agreement by which the Swedes undertook “to have evacuated Rugen” before the 27 th of the same month.

Forty-eight hours later, Brune began to occupy the island (9 September). The troops from Nassau, who fought on 27, 28 and 29 August, were taking part in this operation the 4 th Battalion remained at Dänholm the 2 nd and 3 rd went from the camp of Pütte to Rugen where they temporarily formed a brigade with a regiment of Berg they would not leave these locations until 14 November, at which time the entire contingent returned to Berlin and then returned to the Duchy of Nassau.

Colonel von Schäffer received the following letter upon his departure from Stralsund:

‘I am instructed by His Excellency Major General Pino to express to you all his satisfaction for the services rendered by your brave regiment. The entire division has the greatest regard for the Nassau Regiment, which has always set an example of zeal, fearlessness and discipline.

We look forward to seeing you again in the future, and we will faithfully keep the memory of having served together.’

The Chief of Staff of the Pino Division,

The 3 battalions from Nassau met on 24 November in Berlin with the 1 st Battalion and the mounted jäger squadron[9] who had continued to serve there. They left for Bayreuth where they entered for some time into the observation corps of General Legrand (9-17 December), arriving in Frankfurt on 31 December and were reviewed on 1 January 1808 in Königstein by Duke Frederick William of Nassau, who appointed Colonel von Schäffer as a general.

After occupying Rugen until 20 October, the Hessians were quartered on the banks of the Peene between Demmin and Anklam. The light horse, with 4 Bavarian squadrons and 2 squadrons from Würzburg, ensured the service of the outposts under the orders of the Bavarian Colonel von Mussel: they were reinforced on 27 October by the arrival of 285 men and 286 horses brought from Darmstadt by Colonel Chamot, in 28 stages of 26 to 28 kilometers and 4 days of rest the colonel covered nearly 100 miles and lost on the way only 1 non-commissioned officer, 1 rider, 3 saddle horses and 2 draft the regiment was then formed into 3 squadrons it had 11 officers, 349 men, 󈞐 officers’ horses, 351 troop and 15 draft.

It was on 11 November that the Hessians received the order to leave for Bayreuth: the movement was made in 2 columns the first, with General von Werner, was made up of the regiments of the Corps, Crown Prince and Light Horse the second, with Colonel Hopfenblatt, comprised the Guard regiment, the volunteer battalion and the artillery. Through Prenzlau, Berlin, Magdeburg, Leipzig, Hof, Bayreuth and Würzburg, the Hessians entered the Grand Duchy, and reached Darmstadt on 30 December 1807: on the order of the Grand Duke, they ‘made a solemn entry in campaign dress, the men in coats, the officers in uniform, each having kept a mustache and beard as they were worn in war’.

Following this campaign, the Hessian contingent adopted the French model silver epaulettes for officers, and the bayonet scabbard for the troops. On 25 August 1807, the Grand Duke had created the Hessian order For Merit intended mainly to reward military service and brilliant actions General von Schäffer had received the Cross of Officer of the Legion of Honor.

In the Duchy of Nassau, the Marksburg garrison company was split and provided a 2 nd company which occupied Diez and Ehrenbreitstein. In February 1808 it was created territorial companies of jäger, to ensure the service in the interior of the country in the absence of the active troops in campaign.

These were the circumstances in which our allies of Hesse and Nassau first marched under our eagles. The slowness of their organization and their setting in motion gave rise to the well-deserved reproaches of the command their armament, like their clothing, also left much to be desired: we have seen that it was necessary to arm certain German contingents with new fusils and to distribute to certain others coats, breeches, boots and shoes.

But the attitude of the Rhine soldiers was good before the Prussians, as before the Swedes. Supervised and trained by French troops, placed under the orders of experienced general officers, they learned quickly through contact and example and were soon to justify, during the next campaigns, the good reputation they had established. acquired in the Grande Armée, at Jena, under Graudenz and before Stralsund.

[1] The 3 fusilier battalions did not join the division until 8 February at Engelsburg. The Hessian artillery, after its arrival in Berlin, had received on 5 November 1806 the order to rally the park of the 7 th Corps (Augereau) at Weissensee. From there, it had gone through Custrin and Bromberg to the outskirts of Warsaw, had attended without being engaged in the fight of Gołymin (25 December) and had returned to Bromberg, then to Thorn (19 January 1807) where it was united with the Hessian Brigade.

[2] The 1 st and 2 nd Fusilier Battalions, the 1 st Battalion of Crown Prince, the skirmishers of the Fusiliers of the Guard and of the 1 st Battalion of the Guard, with 2 cannons, under General von Schäffer.

[3] These troops include: 1 infantry regiment and Berg’s light horses, 2 Polish infantry regiments and the Würzburg regiment (situation of 1 April 1807).

[4] 1 officer and 20 men of the Hessian Guard were on duty every day at the Imperial residence, as well as 1 Polish brigadier and 6 horsemen.

[5] One will find the account of the siege of Colberg in the 4 th volume of this study: Le Régiment des Duchés de Saxe, pp. 13-37.

[7] The Regiment of the Duchies of Saxony, p. 36.

[8] This battalion, formed in 1807 with volunteers from the Starkenburg reserve brigade, was dismissed after the war.

[9] The Emperor had indicated his desire to have the Nassau cavalry in the army: the existing company was immediately split up and formed into 2 companies, the 1 st of which left Biebrich on 20 May 20 1807 and came to Berlin.

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Remembering Our Past on Memorial Day Weekend – Pics of the Week

I had originally thought about writing a Memorial Day post on one of my great-great-great-great-grandfathers who had fought in the Revolutionary War, but my colleague Robert was in Frederick, Maryland at the end of April and took some photographs of historic sites. He suggested I could use one of them for a Memorial Day blog post, so rather than trying to track down the history of Moses Wood, I decided to weave all three photographs into one post about two individuals and an event in the first century of the history of the United States.

Memorial Day was originally established after the Civil War to commemorate the Union dead. The current law, which is found at 36 U.S.C. 116, directs us to pray for a permanent peace on Memorial Day while we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States. It is a fitting time to remember our history and also hope for our future.

This first photo Robert took is of the tombstone for Thomas Beatty. Thomas Beatty was one of the longest-serving judges for Frederick County while at the same time he served in the Maryland House of Delegates. During the last year of his term as judge, he was also one of 12 justices who repudiated the Stamp Act that had been imposed on the colonies by George III and his ministers in Great Britain. This law was the first to directly tax the colonies by taxing all printed documents used or created in the colonies, from newspapers to legal documents to almanacs. The law caused outrage in the colonies. A Stamp Act Congress held in October 1765 proposed petitioning the king to reconsider the scope of the law. Greater outrage was expressed by individual colonies, led by Maryland where Thomas Beatty and his fellow judges completely repudiated the law. Beatty lived for another 50 years after this act of conscience when he and his fellow judges paved the way for American independence.

Thomas Beatty Tombstone at Mount Olivet Cemetery / Photograph by Robert Brammer.

The second photograph Robert sent me was the headstone of a soldier from the War of 1812, Thomas H. Howard, who was a private under Captain Thomas C. Worthington at Fort Severn. The War of 1812 is one which is often overlooked in ourthe telling of our history, though the British torched the White House and U.S. Capitol, which included the Library of Congress. The war itself was inconclusive for while the British demanded much in initial negotiations at Ghent, the United States negotiators, who included Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams, supported the principle of status quo ante bellum (the state existing before war). The Treaty of Ghent did not refer to impressment, blockades, or any of the other maritime differences that had been the stated cause of the war. Like the war itself, I could not find much on Private Howard, though I discovered that his commanding officer, Captain Worthington, was elected to the House of Representatives for the 19th Congress (1825-1827) and he too is buried at the Mount Olivet Cemetery. Private Howard himself lived on for another 40 years. Although nothing remains of Private Howard except his grave marker, he reminds us of the millions who have labored in quiet obscurity for permanent peace in this country.

Grave marker for Private Thomas Howard / Photograph by Robert Brammer.

The third photo Robert provided was of the Worthington farmhouse, which was part of the site for the Civil War Battle of Monocacy that took place on July 9, 1864, as part of the Confederate push towards Union territory. While General Grant was busy overseeing the Siege of Petersburg, General Lee had decided to send Confederate troops into Maryland to try and menace the U.S. Capitol. General Jubal Early led 15,000 Confederate soldiers who engaged with 6,600 Union troops led by Major General Lew Wallace. Although the Confederate troops were able to rout the smaller Union force, General Wallace was able to delay their advance enough so that when General Early arrived at Washington, D.C., on July 11, 1864, Union reinforcements had arrived to secure the capitol, forcing the Confederate forces to withdraw. As the National Park Service website notes, though a smaller, and lesser known battle, nonetheless the Battle of Monocacy saved Washington and saved Union morale.

Worthington farmhouse at the Battle of Monocacy National Battlefield / Photograph by Robert Brammer.

I learned a great deal about Memorial Day, from reading about the history and background of Decoration Day which was celebrated in the 1910s. On a day when we are enjoined to pray for peace, it seems a good day to reflect on our history – both well and lesser-known persons and incidents – and perhaps to return to one’s own family history.

One Comment

Very informative article. And Robert, what a great picture of the old farmhouse! I love it.
Jolande

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