Siege of Hamburg

Siege of Hamburg

The city of Hamburg was one of the most powerful fortresses east of the Rhine. After being freed from Napoleonic rule by advancing Cossacks and other following allied troops it was once more occupied by Marshal Davout's French XIII Corps on 28 May, 1813, at the height of the campaign for Germany in the Napoleonic Wars, or the War of Liberation from French rule and occupation. Ordered to hold the city at all costs, Davout launched a characteristically energetic campaign against a similar numbered Army of the North made up of Prussian and allied troops under the command of Count von Wallmoden-Gimborn, winning a number of minor engagements. Neither force was decidedly superior and the war ground to a halt and resulted in a rather stable front line between Lübeck and Lauenburg and further south along the Elbe river, even after the end of the cease-fire of the summer 1813. In October 1813 a French column's movement towards Dannenberg resulted in the only major engagement in the North of Germany, the Battle of the Göhrde. The defeated French troops retreated back to Hamburg.

Despite steadily shrinking manpower, food and ammunition supplies, Davout's forces displayed no signs of abandoning Hamburg. When French armies withdrew east after the lost Battle of Leipzig at the end of the year, and the Allies deployed a large portion of Bernadotte's Russo-Swedish army to watch the city during the 1814 campaign for France. Davout was still in control of Hamburg when the War of the Sixth Coalition ended in April, and eventually capitulated to Russian forces under General Bennigsen on 27 May, 1814, obeying orders delivered by General Gérard from King Louis XVIII.

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