Europe 1813: Sixth Coalition
In early 1813, in the wake of the collapse of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, Russian forces swept into Prussia and the Duchy of Warsaw. In late February the Prussians secretly agreed to an alliance with Russia, but would not declare war on France until Berlin was liberated. A few days later Britain and Sweden also signed an alliance, marking the beginning of the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon.
14 Dec 1812 Last across the Niemen▲
On 5 December 1812 Napoleon left the survivors of the Grande Armée under the command of Joachim Murat and set out for Paris, where he arrived just thirteen days later. Murat continued on with the army through Vilnius and Kovno (Kaunas) to reach Königsberg in eastern Prussia later in the month. Taking up the rearguard, Michel Ney fought across the Niemen river into the Duchy of Warsaw with 700 men on 14 December; he was said to have fired the last shot back into Russia.
30 Dec 1812 Convention of Tauroggen▲
In December 1812 the French ended their siege of Riga and retreated south, eventually becoming separated from the subordinate Prussian army under General Ludwig Yorck. Surrounded by the Russians at Tauroggen (now Taurage, Lithuania), Yorck negotiated an armistice with his compatriot Carl von Clauswitz, who had earlier entered Russian service to oppose Napoleon. Countersigned by the Russian general Hans Karl von Diebitsch, the convention effectively neutralized the Prussian army and left the French to defend eastern Prussia against the advancing Russians. Although officially the Prussian government regarded the agreement as treasonous, it was extremely popular among the Prussian people and led to a formal break with France at Kalisz a few months later.
11 Jan 1813–12 Mar 1814 Marie-Louises▲
On the night of 18/19 December 1812 Napoleon arrived back in Paris after a 14-day ride from the collapsing Russian front and set about raising a new army. Due to manpower shortages, conscription was extended for the first time to 18-year-olds and those as short as 5’1” (1.55 m), with a series of levy laws being introduced from January 1813. These new recruits received as little as two weeks’ training and military veterans would soon nickname them Marie-Louises—after the Empress Marie-Louise, who issued the decrees of 9 October 1813.
13 Jan 1813–2 Jan 1814 Siege of Danzig▲
In January 1813 Russian forces under Prince Wittgenstein crossed the Vistula in Prussia and besieged Danzig, which was then a free city under Napoleonic rule. Initially Wittgenstein left only 13,000 men to cover the French garrison of 35,000 (although only 10,000 of these were combat-ready), but by September the besieging force had been strengthened to 40,000 with the addition of Prussian and German troops and British guns. The garrison agreed to surrender in late November on condition of passage to France; when this was denied by Tsar Alexander I, they held out for another month, finally laying down their arms in early January 1814.
? Jan–7 May 1813 Fall of the Duchy of Warsaw▲
In January 1813 Russian forces under Chichagov, Kutuzov, and Miloradovich pushed into the Duchy of Warsaw, which was defended by the Austrians under Prince Schwarzenberg, supported by Reynier’s French and Poniatowski’s Poles. At this point, Austria ended its alliance with France and abandoned Warsaw, which fell to the Russians on 8 February. Withdrawing west, Reynier was defeated at Kalicz ten days later as the Russians drove the last of the French from the duchy. This left Poniatowski, who held out in the south with the remnants of the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw until May, while most of the fighting shifted to Germany.
28 Feb 1813 Treaty of Kalisz▲
After a week of negotiation in Breslau and Kalisz in late February 1813, Prussia and Russia signed the Treaty of Kalisz, agreeing to commit 80,000 and 150,000 men respectively against Napoleon in the coming spring. The two powers also guaranteed the restoration of Prussia to its pre-1806 conditions while allowing for significant geographical changes. The treaty would remain secret until the following month when, after the French evacuation of Berlin, Prussia formally declared war on France.
3 Mar 1813 Treaty of Stockholm▲
On 3 March 1813 Britain and Sweden signed the Treaty of Stockholm, whereby the British agreed to pay £1 million to the Swedes, who would put 30,000 men into the spring campaign against Napoleon. The treaty also supported Sweden’s claim to Norway, extended British trading rights in the Baltic, and ceded the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to Sweden. Within a week of the treaty Sweden reestablished control over Swedish Pomerania, which had been seized by the French in 1812.