The Battle of Bautzen
Finely executed manuscript map Bautzen and the region immediately east of Dresden.
The map was likely drafted during the War of the Sixth Coalition, during the Napoleonic Wars.
The Prusso-Russian army was in a full retreat following their defeat at the Battle of Lützen. Finally, generals Wittgenstein and Blücher were ordered to stop at Bautzen by Tsar Alexander I and King Frederick William III. The Prusso-Russian army was nearly 100,000 men strong, but Napoleon had 115,000 troops. Additionally, Marshal Ney had 85,000 more men within easy marching distance. Wittgenstein formed two defensive lines, with the first holding strongpoints in villages and along ridges and the second holding the bridges behind a river bend. Napoleon had planned to pin down his enemies to their lines and then trap them with Ney's troops. However, due to faulty reconnaissance, he became concerned that the Prusso-Russians had more soldiers and held stronger positions than they actually did. So Napoleon then decided he would not set up his trap until they had been softened up.
After an intense bombardment by the grande batterie of Napoleon's artillery and hours of heated fighting, the French overpowered the first defensive lines and seized the town of Bautzen. The Prusso-Russians appeared to be buckling. By nightfall, the French were ready to cut the allies off from their line of retreat. But Marshal Ney became confused, and his faulty positioning left the door open for the Allies to escape.
Fighting on the following day, the 21st, was again hard and after several hours of setbacks, renewed French attacks began to gain momentum. But these assaults were only intended to fix the allies in place so they could be cut off and enveloped. Once again, Marshal Ney became distracted and decided to seize the village of Preititz, and thus lost sight of the strategic importance of cutting off the allies.
The Prusso-Russians were being pushed back across the river and, at 4 p.m., when the Imperial Guard was sent in, began an all-out retreat. Without Ney's forces to seal them in; however, they again escaped the total defeat Napoleon had planned. Losses on both sides totaled around 20,000. But some other sources (e.g. Dr Stubner) also say that the losses on French side were significantly higher because of their aggressive attack tactics which failed to cut off the allies from their lines and the allies in fact only lost 11,000 – 14,000. The French victory at Bautzen is therefore often called a Pyrrhic victory.