This Day in History: Paddington Bear First Appeared on Oct. 13, 1958

Paddington Bear

Paddington Bear is a fictional character in children’s literature. He first appeared on 13 October 1958 and was subsequently featured in more than twenty books written by Michael Bond and first illustrated by Peggy Fortnum. The polite immigrant bear from darkest Peru, with his old hat, battered suitcase (complete with a secret compartment, enabling it to hold more items than it would at first appear), duffle coat and love of marmalade sandwiches has become a classic character from English children’s literature.[1]

Paddington books have been translated into 30 languages across 70 titles and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. Over 265 licences, making thousands of different products across the United Kingdom, Europe, United States, Southeast Asia, Japan, Canada, Australia and South Africa all benefit from the universal recognition of Paddington Bear.[2]

Paddington is an anthropomorphised bear. He is always polite—addressing people as “Mr”, “Mrs”, and “Miss” and very rarely by first names—and well-meaning, though he inflicts hard stares on those who incur his disapproval. He has an endless capacity for getting into trouble, but he is known to “try so hard to get things right”. He is an adopted member of the (human) Brown family and thus gives his full name as “Paddington Brown”.


Michael Bond based Paddington Bear on a lone teddy bear which he noticed on a shelf in a London store near Paddington Station on Christmas Eve 1956, which he bought as a present for his wife. The bear inspired Bond to write a story, and in 10 days he had written the first book. The book was given to his agent, Harvey Unna. A Bear Called Paddington was first published on 13 October 1958 by William Collins & Sons (now Harper Collins).[3][4]

Stuffed toy
The first Paddington Bear stuffed toy to be manufactured was created in 1972 by Gabrielle Designs, a small business run by Shirley and Eddie Clarkson, with the prototype made as a Christmas present for their children Joanna and Jeremy (who later became a well-known British TV presenter and writer). Shirley Clarkson dressed the stuffed bear in Wellington boots to help it stand upright. (Paddington received wellingtons for Christmas in Paddington Marches On, 1964.) The earliest bears wore small children’s boots manufactured by Dunlop until production could not meet demand. Gabrielle Designs then produced their own boots with paw prints moulded into the soles.

Shirley Clarkson’s book[5] describes the evolution of the toy Paddington from Christmas gift to subject of litigation and ultimately commercial success.

In the first story, Paddington is found at Paddington Railway Station in London by the Brown family, sitting on his suitcase (bearing the label “Wanted On Voyage”) with a note attached to his coat which reads “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” Bond has said that his memories of newsreels showing trainloads of child evacuees leaving London during the war, with labels around their necks and their possessions in small suitcases, prompted him to do the same for Paddington.[6]

Paddington arrives as a stowaway coming from “Darkest Peru”, sent by his Aunt Lucy (one of his only known relatives aside from an Uncle Pastuzo who gave Paddington his hat)[7] who has gone to live in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima. He claims, “I came all the way in a lifeboat, and ate marmalade. Bears like marmalade.” He tells them that no one can understand his Peruvian name, so the Browns decide to call him Paddington after the railway station in which he was found. Paddington’s Peruvian name is ultimately revealed to be “Pastuso” (not to be confused with his “Uncle Pastuzo”). Bond originally wanted Paddington to have “travelled all the way from darkest Africa”, but his agent advised him that there were no bears in darkest Africa, and thus it was amended to darkest Peru, home of the spectacled bear.[8]

They take him home to 32 Windsor Gardens, off Harrow Road between Notting Hill and Maida Vale (there is no number 32 in the real Windsor Gardens). Paddington frequents the nearby Portobello Road markets, where he is respected by the shopkeepers for driving a very hard bargain. When he gets annoyed with someone, he often gives them one of his special “hard stares” (taught to him by Aunt Lucy), which causes the person to become flushed and embarrassed.

The stories follow Paddington’s adventures and mishaps in England, along with some snippets of information about his past. For instance, in one story we learn that Paddington was orphaned in an earthquake, before being taken in and raised by his Aunt Lucy.

There is a recurring cast of characters, all of whom are in some way entangled in Paddington’s misadventures. These include:

Mr. Henry Brown: A hapless but friendly City of London worker.
Mrs. Mary Brown: Mr Brown’s more serious-minded yet friendly wife.
Jonathan and Judy: The energetic and friendly Brown children. It is never established if one is older than the other, leading to the perception that they are twins.
Mrs. Bird: The Browns’ stern, but ultimately friendly, nanny and housekeeper. Though she is often annoyed by Paddington’s mishaps, she is very protective of him.
Mr. Gruber: The very friendly owner of an antique shop on the Portobello Road, with whom Paddington has his elevenses every day. He regularly takes Paddington and the Brown children on outings. He is a Hungarian immigrant. He addresses Paddington as “Mr. Brown”.
Mr. Curry: The Browns’ mean and bad-tempered next-door neighbour, who serves as a contrast to Mr Gruber. He addresses Paddington simply as “Bear!” He always wants something for nothing, and therefore often persuades Paddington to run errands for him, and invites himself to many of the Browns’ special occasions just to sample the snacks. He gets his comeuppance as a frequent victim of Paddington’s misadventures.
Aunt Lucy: Paddington’s aunt from South America. She was his former legal guardian up until she had to move into the Home for Retired Bears.
Uncle Pastuzo: Paddington’s wealthy globe-trotting uncle.

The first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958. Although the books are divided into chapters and each book has a time frame, the stories all work as stand alone stories, and many of them were used like this in the TV series. In order of publication the titles are:[9]

A Bear Called Paddington (1958)

The stories in the first book in the series are:
Please Look After This Bear – The Browns first meet Paddington at Paddington station.
A Bear in Hot Water – Paddington’s first attempt at having a bath is a disaster.
Paddington Goes Underground – Paddington’s first journey on the Underground causes chaos.
A Shopping Expedition – Paddington gets lost during a shopping trip.
Paddington and “The Old Master” – This story introduces Mr Gruber. After hearing Mr Gruber talk about painting, Paddington decides to try his hand at it himself.
A Visit To the Theatre – Paddington goes to see a play with the Browns.
Adventure at the Seaside – Paddington takes part in a sandcastle competition.
A Disappearing Trick – Paddington receives a magic set for his first birthday with the Browns. This story introduces Mr. Curry.
More About Paddington (1959)

The stories in the second book in the series are:
A Family Group – Paddington takes a family photo of the Browns.
A Spot of Decorating – Paddington tries to help Mr. Brown by decorating his room whilst the family are out.
Paddington Turns Detective – Paddington investigates the disappearance of Mr. Brown’s prize marrow.
Paddington and the Bonfire – The Browns hold a bonfire party at No. 32 Windsor Gardens.
Trouble at No.32 – Paddington catches a nasty chill when a winter prank goes disastrously wrong.
Paddington and the Christmas Shopping – Paddington buys presents for the Brown family.
Christmas – Paddington enjoys his first Christmas with the Browns
Paddington Helps Out (1960)

The stories in the third book in the series are:
A Picnic On The River – Paddington gets more than he bargained for when the Browns hire a boat for a day on the river.
Paddington Makes A Bid – Mr Gruber takes Paddington to an auction sale.
Paddington and “Do It Yourself” – After reading a DIY magazine, Paddington tries to make presents for Mr Brown and (reluctantly) Mr Curry.
A Visit To The Cinema – The Browns go to see a cowboy film. When the special attraction is cancelled, Paddington comes to the rescue.
Trouble At The Launderette – A reluctant Paddington takes Mr Curry’s laundry to be cleaned.
Paddington Dines Out – The Browns organise a special meal for Paddington’s birthday.
Paddington Abroad (1961)

The stories in the fourth book in the series are:
Paddington Prepares – Mr Brown announces a holiday in France.
A Visit to the Bank – A misunderstanding causes uproar at the bank.
Trouble at the Airport – Airport officials suspect Paddington is travelling without a passport.
Paddington Saves the Day – The Browns’ car gets a puncture and Mr. Brown organises an al-fresco meal.
Paddington and the “Pardon” – Paddington takes part in a local festival.
A Spot of Fishing – The Browns and Paddington go on a fishing trip and get marooned.
Paddington Takes to the Road – Paddington participates in the Tour de France.
Paddington at Large (1962)
Paddington Marches On (1964)[10]

Paddington and the Cold Snap
A Most Unusual Ceremony
Paddington Makes a Clean Sweep
Mr Gruber′s Mystery Tour
Paddington Saves the Day
A Day by the Sea
An Unexpected Party
Paddington at Work (1966)
Paddington Goes to Town (1968)[11]

A Day to Remember
Paddington Hits Out
A Visit to the Hospital
Paddington Finds a Cure
Paddington and the “Finishing Touch”
Everything Comes to Those Who Wait
Paddington Goes to Town
Paddington Takes the Air (1970)[12]

A Visit to the Dentist
A Stitch in Time
Riding High
Paddington Stikes a Bargain
The Case of the Doubtful Dummy
Paddington Recommended
The Last Dance
Paddington’s Garden (1972)
Paddington’s Blue Peter Story Book (1973)
Paddington on Top (1974)
Paddington at the Tower (1975)
Paddington Takes the Test (1979)
Paddington on Screen (1980)
Paddington at the Zoo (1984)
Paddington at the Palace (1986)
Paddington in the Garden (2002)
Paddington and the Grand Tour (2003)
Paddington at the Tower (2011)
Paddington Goes for Gold (2012)

Special publications
Paddington Rules the Waves (2008) A £1 World Book Day Book[13]
Paddington Here and Now (2008) Published as part of the series’ 50th anniversary celebrations.[14][15][16]
Paddington’s Cookery Book (2011)
Blue Peter and beyond
Author Michael Bond was also a BBC TV cameraman who worked on the popular children’s television programme Blue Peter. After this was revealed in 1965, a special Paddington story—in which he got mixed up in the programme itself—appeared in the Blue Peter Annuals for many years. They were collected in the novel-length Paddington’s Blue Peter Story Book in 1973. A second book based around Blue Peter was titled Paddington on Screen.

The BBC television series Paddington, produced by Michael Bond and London-based animation company FilmFair, was first broadcast in 1975. The storylines were based on comedic incidents from the books, chosen to appeal to the TV audience which included much younger children than those the books were written for. This series had an extremely distinctive appearance: Paddington was a stop-motion puppet moving in a three dimensional space in front of two-dimensional backgrounds (which were frequently sparse black-and-white line drawings), while all other characters were 2D drawings. In one scene, Mr. Brown is seen to hand Paddington a jar of marmalade that becomes 3D when Paddington touches it. Animator Ivor Wood also worked on The Magic Roundabout and Postman Pat. The series was narrated by Michael Hordern. In the United States, episodes aired on PBS, on the syndicated series Romper Room, on Nickelodeon as a segment on the program Pinwheel and on USA Network as a segment on the Calliope (TV series) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as well as in between preschool programming on the Disney Channel throughout the 1990s. The series also aired on HBO in between features, usually when they were airing children’s programmes. The series won a silver medal at the New York Film and Television Festival in 1979—the first British animated series to do so.

Paddington Bear’s 1989 television series was the first by a North American company, Hanna-Barbera. This series was traditional two-dimensional animation and featured veteran voice actor Charlie Adler as Paddington and Tim Curry as Mr. Curry. The character of an American boy named David, Jonathan and Judy Brown’s cousin who arrived in London on the same day as Paddington, was added to the stories in the 1989 cartoon.

The most recent series, produced by Cinar Films, was first broadcast in 1997 and consisted of traditional two-dimensional colour animation. The show was called The Adventures of Paddington Bear.

Paddington Bear also appeared in The Official BBC Children in Need Medley with Peter Kay along with several other animated characters. In the video, Paddington makes a grand appearance by winking at the cameramen when they take photos of him; Kay tries to put a cloak on Paddington, but it keeps sliding off. He also joins the rest of the group for the final act.

Home media
In 2011, Mill Creek Entertainment under the license of Cookie Jar Entertainment, released the complete original 1975 Paddington Bear series on DVD. The 3-disc set also featured three half-hour television specials, “Paddington Birthday Bonanza”, “Paddington Goes To School” and “Paddington Goes To The Movies” along with 15 bonus episodes of The Wombles and Huxley Pig. It also had special features for children on DVD-ROM.

Film adaptation

In September 2007, Warner Bros. and producer David Heyman announced a live action film adaptation of Paddington Bear. Hamish McColl, who penned Mr Bean’s Holiday, will write the script. The film will not be an adaptation of an existing story, but “will draw inspiration from the whole series” and will feature a computer generated Paddington Bear interacting with a live-action environment. [17]

On 25 June 2012, an official teaser poster was released for the film.[18] It states that the film will be released sometime during 2014.

In popular culture
Paddington Bear features in the Marmite UK TV advertisement (first broadcast on 13 September 2007),[19] in which he tries a marmite and cheese sandwich instead of his traditional marmalade sandwich.[20]

Paddington was featured on the Royal Mail 1st class stamp in the Animal Tales series released on 10 January 2006, and had previously been featured on one of the 1st class Greetings Messages stamps, released on 1 February 1994.

On 13 October 2008, Google celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Paddington publication by placing an image of the travelling bear with a sign showing Peru and London incorporated into Google’s logo.[21]



  • Bond, Michael; and, Ash, Russell (1988). The Life and Times of Paddington BearLondon: Pavilion. ISBN 978-1-85145-286-6. OCLC 59889284.
  • Pfeffer, Susan Beth (1999). Who were They Really?: The True Stories behind Famous CharactersBrookfield, CN:Millbrook Press. ISBN 978-0-585-24808-0. OCLC 40230491.
  • Sheridan, Simon (2004). The A to Z of Classic Children’s TelevisionLondon: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-903111-27-7.OCLC 56448513.


  1. ^ Happy birthday little bear – Sunderland Echo
  2. ^ Paddington brand
  3. ^ Paddington returns to his station as children’s favouriteAndy McSmithThe Independent, 24 May 2008
  4. ^ Paddington bear celebrates 50th birthdayJack RileyThe Independent, 13 October 2008
  5. ^ Shirley Clarkson, Bearly Believable: My Part in the Paddington Bear StoryHarriman House Publishing, 23 June 2008ISBN 978-1-905641-72-7
  6. ^ [1] Icons of England – Paddington Bear. Accessed 2008-07-12
  7. ^ Michael Bond, ‘Paddington Here and Now’, Harper Collins, London 2008 ISBN 978-0-00-726940-2
  8. ^ Michael Bond and R.W. Alley’s Paddington Bear
  9. ^ The Books
  10. ^ ISBN 0-395-06642-5 published by Houghton Mifflin Company
  11. ^ ISBN 0-395-06635-2 1968 published by Houghton Mifflin Company
  12. ^ ISBN 0-618-33141-7 First American edition published 1970 by Houghton Mifflin Company
  13. ^ World Book and Copyright Day
  14. ^ “Paddington Bear’s birthday book”BBC News. 8 December 2007Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  15. ^ Paddington Bear: a welcome immigrant – Daniel Hannan, Daily Telegraph. Accessed 2008-07-12.
  16. ^ Houghton Mifflin company 1999.
  17. ^ Adam Dawtrey (2007-09-13). “‘WB bears down on ‘Paddington’ film”VarietyRetrieved 2007-09-14.
  18. ^ Semlyen, Phil de (25 June 2012). “New Paddington Bear Teaser Poster”Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  19. ^ Paddington Stars in a New Series of Marmite Ads
  20. ^ Sweney, Mark (2007-09-12). “Paddington gets taste for Marmite”London: 2007-09-13.
  21. ^ Paddington image at google

Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Bautzen 20-21 May 1813

Not until two days after the Battle of Lützen did Napoleon discover that the Allies had fallen back on Dresden. Although he had not obtained the decisive success that he had been hoping for, he planned his next moves with confidence. Davout was presently gathering a army with which to retake Hamburg, and Vandamme’s corps was near Magdeburg. He Emperor disbanded the Army of the Elbe and dispatched Prince Eugène back to Italy to reorganize the army there in case the Austrians declared war. He then formed a new army under Marshal Ney that comprised Ney’s own corps and those of Lauriston, Reynier and Victor, and Sébastiani’s cavalry, in all a force of 84,000 men.

Ney marched some 60 miles north to cross the Elbe at Torgau. At that time the town was occupied by General Thielmann with his Saxon Army. Thielmann personally sympathized with Blücher and protested that Saxony was neutral. Napoleon pressed the Saxon King to admit his men. The King personally admired Napoleon and ordered Thielmann to stop obstructing Ney. Thielmann disgusted with such conduct, disappeared to join the Prussians. His troops, who disliked their predatory northern neighbors more than they did the French, happily joined the latter. On 10 May Ney started to cross the river.

Meanwhile Napoleon skillfully forced a crossing by Dresden. With Ney at Torgau, a prolonged resistance by the Allies would have been useless. Napoleon paused while he organized a vast administrative base in Dresden. The city was situated dangerously far to the east if things went wrong, but the Emperor refused to consider any such eventuality. He now heavily outnumbered the Allied Army, but he was handicapped by his lack of cavalry and the difficulty of obtaining information in a hostile country. The Allies had retreated, but where? He wrote on 13 May to Ney in Torgau: ‘I still do not see clearly that the Prussians have done; it is enough that the Russians are retreating on Breslau….Have they [the Prussians] gone towards Berlin as seems natural?’ He ordered Ney to march on Berlin, but on 15 May Miloradovich fought a rearguard action with MacDonald, who forced a passage over the Spree. To MacDonald, who could see the enemy camps beyond Bautzen, it was evident that the allies were not going back without a fight.

Napoleon joyously prepared this time to crush them. He cancelled the orders to advance on Berlin. Ney turned about, but his four corps were somewhat scattered. Wittgenstein, considering that Lauriston’s Corps was dangerously exposed, sent Yorck and Barclay de Tolly to break him. They had a sharp brush with the French near Hoyerswarda, about 20 miles north of Bautzen, but found Ney close at hand and withdrew before they could suffer serious damage. By this move, however, Wittgenstein had hazarded a substantial part of his army on an ill-timed diversion; the Allies faith in their Commander-in-Chief, never high, sank lower.

The Allies outnumbered as they were, had nevertheless decided to fortify a defensive position by the little town of Bautzen in the hope that Napoleon would shatter himself to pieces against it. If they continued to retreat, they considered they would lead color to Napoleon’s extravagant claims of victory at Lützen, undermining further the moral of their men and discourage the other German states from joining them. For the underlying battle was for the allegiance of Germany as a whole. If the various states turned against Napoleon, the French were doomed – but those states were scarcely likely to link their fortunes with an army that seemed anxious only to run away.

The position they selected, with its left only six miles from the Austrian border and astride the main road to Breslau, suffered from two defects. It was rather too long for the troops available, and  it was intersected by the narrow valley of the Blӧserwasser, which flowed into the Spree. The Allied defensive position was organized in two paralled lines. The first, along the heights between the Spree and the Blӧserwasser, was held from north to south by the corps of Tchaplitz, Kleist, Wüttemberg and Saint-Priest. The second line was much stronger. To the south it was behind the Blӧserwasser, but on the right it was north-west of that river. From north to south the second line was held by Barclay de Tolly, Yorck, Blücher, and Gortchakov. The Russian Guard was in reserve behind Baschutz. The Allied sovereigns had their HQ at Nechern. Wittgenstein was still nominally the Commander-in-Chief, but in practice the Tsar Alexander had assumed the direction of the affairs.

Napoleon with his army of 115,000 men intended to fix the allies attention on their left flank in the south and on their centre. He then planned that Ney with his army of 84,000 should attack well to the east of their right flank, after which the two combined armies would drive the enemy up against the hills on the Austrian border and annihilate them. The Allies numbered roughly 100,000. If Napoleon could induce them to hold their position long enough, he could win that devastating victory which he needed to bring the war to a successful conclusion.

About noon 20 May the French began their attack on the line of the river Spree. Whilst Oudinot (XII Corps) moved on SIngwitz, Marmont (VI Corps) and MacDonald (XI Corps) advanced respectively north and south of Bautzen. Reiset’s cavalry brigade linked MacDonald with Oudinot in the south. At about 1 P.M. Oudinot crossed the Spree by the bridge and a ford at Singwitz, driving the Russians back until he was halted by their cavalry. His right hand division under Lorencez, meeting but feeble opposition, pushed forward in the direction of Mehlteuer. Meanwhile MacDonald not only secured the bridge to the south pf Bautzen, he had two more constructed there.

Marmont, having massed 60 guns on the heights above Bautzen, got Compans’s division across the Spree and by about 3 P.M. won a foothold in the north-western outskirts of Bautzen. Captain Barrès (47th of the line) wrote that the attack began about 10 A.M.; that they had the town of Bautzen opposite of them, and that they crossed by bridges thrown across the trestles. Before they crossed the river Compans ask Barrès for a sergeant, a corporal, and 14 men, and led them himself to the foot of the walls of the town. He showed them a breach, and told them to climb over and open the gate which he pointed out. The sergeant, leading the way up to the breach, was killed, but the corporal took over and pulled his men up. They fired a volley and, for the loss  of two or three men, got the gate open.

The Russians in the town of Bautzen, threated MacDonald on the one flank and Marmont on the other, withdrew. To the south Miloradovich retired before Oudinot lest he should be cut off, and the advancing French reached, roughly speaking, the line Binnewitz-Nadelwitz-Basankwitz-Pleifowitz before fighting died down. The French fought well, and the advance of Lorencez in particular had convinced the Tsar that Napoleon’s aim was to interpose between the Allies and the Austrians. In fact his object was the precise opposite. Alexander’s reserves were already weak, but he now sent part of them to reinforce the troops facing Oudinot. The Tsar at this stage of the battle was playing in to Napoleon’s hands.

During the day Ney had advanced against some opposition and bivouacked in the area of Särchen in the north. His army of four corps consisted at this stage of only his own III Corps and Lauriston’s V Corps. At about 4 P.M. on 20 May, orders signed by Berthier were sent to Ney. Although they were carried by one of Napoleon’s own staff officers, they did not reach him until 4 A.M. on the 21st. They ordered him to drive the enemy from Drehsa, about three miles to the south-east, and then march on Weissenberg and surround the Allied right.

At about 7 A.M. on the 21st Napoleon was on the heights to the east of Bautzen when one of Ney’s staff rode up. The Emperor explained the situation further, and sent him back with a pencil note. The intention of the Emperor is that you hold follow constantly the movement of the enemy. His Majesty has shown your staff officer the positions of the enemy, which are defined by the redoubts which he has constructed and occupies. The Intention of the Emperor is that you should be on the Blӧserwasser about six miles south-east of Särchen. You will be on the extreme right of the enemy. As soon as the Emperor sees you engaged at Preititz we shall attack vigorously at all points. Have General Lauriston (V Corps) march on your left so as to br in apposition to turn the enemy if your movement decides him to abandon his position.

Oudinot (XII Corps) advanced at daybreak and took Rieschen. Still convinced that Napoleon meant to cut him off from Bohemia, the Tsar drew on  his reserves until Miloradovich had 20,000 men to oppose Oudinot’s 15,000. By 11 A.M. Oudinot, back on the heights east of Binnewitz, was asking for reinforcements. Cahracteristically Napoleon did not even trouble to reply. MacDonald (XI Corps) moved forward to the heights near Baschutz to the north of Oudinto and onpend aheavy bombardment. Marmont (VI Corps) contented himself with holding the heights of Burk, with infantry in Nadelwitz, Nieder Kaina, and Basankwitz. The Guard in squares crowned the battlefield to the north-east of Bautzen. Soult with Bertrand (IV Corps) made much slower progress than he expected, but by 2 P.M. had Bertrand’s 21,000 men and 30 guns on the plateau east of the Spree near Doberschutz.

Ney moved off early, between 4 and 5 A.M., and droves Barclay de Tolly back until about 10 A.M. His men were soon on the heights of Gleina, and Lauriston was on his left. It was now that Napoleon’s message reached Ney. Jomini, the clever Swiss theoretician who was now his Chief-of-Staff, urged the Marshal to advance at once on Preititz. Perhaps this was not very tactful, but Ney pointed out that the Emperor intended for him to be there at 11 P.M. He would stand fast for an hour.  He took the decision even though he had four divisions up, and with their 23,000 men he could no doubt have wolfed Preititz in a mouthful.

In 1823, long after the Marshal was in his grave, Jomini wrote, ‘When nay saw the fine heights of Klein Bautzen (Kreckwitz) he was carried away by the idea that they were the key to the position.’ He thought he ought to wait until Reynier (VII Corps) came up, and then strom the heights. At 11 P.M. he sent Souham’s division which drove two battalions of Barclay de Tolly’s corps from Preititz. As F. Petre observes in his book on Napoleon’s German campaigns, ‘ Had he had his whole corps there, and been on the move towards Hochkirch, as Jomini urged him, Blücher could hardly have held on to the Kreckwitz heights, and the pressure in front of Soult begin removed, that marshal also would have got forward.’ Ney’s preoccupation with the heights of Kreckwitz was the fact fatal for Napoleon’s plan.

In the second phase of the battle, Oudinot and MacDonald succeeded in inducing the Allies to concentrate their left, and much of their reserve, against them. When at about noon Oudinot pleading for reinforcements, Napoleon said to his galloper, “Tell your marshal the the battle will be won by 3 P.M., form now till then he must hold on as best he may.’

The Tsar and the King of Prussia sat their horses on the heights near Klein Jenkwitz, south of the main road to Hochkirch, from where at a range of two miles they could make out the Emperor on his grey. Not that Napoleon spent all his time in the saddle; from 9 until 11 A.M. he slept on the ground in the mist of his Huard, shells bursting around him. And while one Emperor slept, the other obliged him by accepting the idea that it was his left that was menaced. ‘I will wager my head’ said the more percipient Wittgenstein, ‘that this is only a demonstration; Napoleons idea is to out flank our right and drives us on Bohemia.’

At 11 A.M. Souham’s guns of III Corps woke Napoleon, who ordered Marmont forward, and sent Barrois’ division (Young Guard) to complete the line between him and Bertrand in the north. Behind Basankwitz the rest of the Guard drew up, supported by Latour-Maubourg’s cavalry and 80 guns. At about 2:30 P.M. Franquermont’s Württemberg division (IV Corps) made a gallant attack on Kreckwitz. Morand’s division advanced simultaneously, and by 3 P.M. Blüchers hard pressed troops were back on the line Doberschutz-Kreckwitz.

Before the French reached Preititz, Barclay de Tolly had asked Blücher for reinforcements; these were promptly sent, and when Souham emerged from Preititz he was attacked with vigour and driven out. Ney sent three divisions to retake Preititz, and about 2 P.M. Kleist saw them approaching, while Lauriston menaced his right. The French stormed the village, which changed hands twice before the Prussians, their line of retreat threatened, fell back on the heights to the south-west. Enemy cannonades from the heights of Kreckwitz, though well west of his true objective. Convinced Ney that he must storm them, despite his Chief-of-Staff’s urgings that he should direct his 32,000 men south-east towards the green church spire of Hochkirch. By about 3 P.M. Blücher, threatened with encirclement, was warned that he must withdraw within a quarter of an hour or the trap would be closed. The Prussians leap-frogged back with great skill. As they withdrew, the French surged on to the Kreckwitz heights, and Ney found to his disgust that his change of direction had only succeeded in bringing him face to face with Bertrand. The two corps (III and IV) became horribly intermingled and it took an hour to disentangle them. Ney had the mortification of seeing Blücher’s troops depart through the gap he had left them.

Now the Tsar realized that it was the Allies right, not their left, that was threatened, At 4 P.M. orders were given for a retreat. It was well executed, under the cover of skillful rearguard actions and a providential rainstorm. The allies had lost 10, 850 men of whom 2,790 were from Blücher’s corps. Few prisoners were taken; the only trophies were a few disabled cannon.

The young French troops lost double these numbers, probable about 20,000 casualties; these included 3,700 missing, of whom 800 were taken prisoner. The others, stragglers and marauders, may have rejoined their eagles later.  After the battle Napoleon, as was his wont, rode over the battlefield amongst the heaps of slain: ‘What!’ he exclaimed, ‘after such a slaughter, no trophies? These people will leave me no claws!

Ney has been blamed for the failure to inflict a decisive defeat on the Allies at Bautzen. He undoubtedly allowed himself to be fatally distracted by the struggle on the heights of Kreckwitz, and struck too far west to envelope the Allied right flank as Napoleon had planned; but Blücher was no fool, and was not likely to watch placidly while he was enveloped. Napoleon’s scheme for a great combined attack had demanded too much. Staffs were rudimentary and communications bad. Napoleon himself was responsible for developing large armies beyond the control of a commander mounted on his horse. Large bodies could not be moved or deployed as though they were single regiments or even divisions. Napoleon himself does not appear to have lost confidence in Ney. He appreciated his difficulties, compounded as they were by the fine fighting performance of the Allied troops.

It was, however, on the heights of Kreckwitz that Napoleon’s last chance of saving his German empire vanished. At the time the Allies, retiring disconsolately amid the customary storm of mutual recrimination, had little reason to believe it. Significantly, though, the Prussians did not depart to the north, nor the Russians beyond the Vistula. Their alliance remained outwardly firm, and Napoleon’s next move in the face of their opposition was to conclude an armistice.

FRENCH (Napoleon) 199,300

NEY/Commanding/ Victor (I Corps=13,000); Ney (III Corps=30,000); Lauriston (V Corps=27,000); Reynier (VII Corps=9,500) Cavalry =4,800 [TOTAL = 84,300]

Napoleon/Commanding/ Bertrand (IV Corps =25,000); Marmont (VI Corps=22,000); Guard =19,000; Latour-Maubourg (I Cavalry Corps =8,000); MacDonald (XI Corps=17,000); Oudinot (XII Corps=24,000) [TOTAL=115,000}

ALLIES (Wittgenstein) 100,000

Varclay de tolly /Tchaplitz (13,000); Tchaplitz (13,000); Blücher (22,000); Kleinst (5,000); Württemberg (4,000); Yorck (5,000); Russian Guard (19,000); St. Priest (Unknown); Miloradovich (14,000); Gortchakov (13,000)


SOURCE: NAPOLEON: The Last Campaigns 1813-15 BY: James Lawford
CONTRIBUTOR: Martin F. Elkins