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Leipzig 1813: The Battle of the Nations [Paperback]

Peter Hofschroer
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 30 1993 Campaign (Book 25)
The battle of Leipzig was, in terms of the number of combatants involved, the largest engagement of the entire Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). It was the only battle of the wars in which all Allied armies (including even the Swedes) fielded troops against Napoleon. Peter Hofschroer looks at the run-up to this crucial encounter as well as the battle itself. A wealth of background information is chronicled, including the strategies of both sides and detailed information on each of the combatant forces. The numerous battles leading up to Leipzig are also discussed, providing a fascinating and illuminating overview of the whole campaign.

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About the Author

Peter Hofschroer is a recognised expert on the German campaigns of the Napoleonic wars and the Prussian army in particular.

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The Grande Armee of 600,000 men that went to Russia in 1812 was virtually entirely destroyed. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good narrative of complex battle Feb. 12 2002
Format:Paperback
The author does a nice job of breaking down the intricies of Leipzig and the smaller battles that lead up to it into clear and understandable points. As mentioned by another reviewer, there is an outstanding order of battle which is very helpful given the number of leaders on hand for this conflict.
Interesting points brought to light by Mr. Hofschroer are the conflicting agendas of the Allied Nations and the challenges that posed in formulating an effective strategy. Also detailed were the resource limitations and political pressures facing Napolean, that contributed to his defeat at Leipzig.
My only complaints are that there isn't the a biography section on the commanders that is prevalent in many of the Osprey books. This is more a limitation of the publisher's format than a fault of the author. In addition, the maps are not up to the usual standards of this series.
This author also wrote a book on the battle of Lutzen & Bautzen which occurred in the spring campaign, prior to this confilct. For greater appreciation of the Leipzig text, I would recommend reading the other before hand (although this is not necessary)
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Campaign in Saxony June 21 2000
Format:Paperback
This volume is an excellent overview of the decisive campaign in Germany that untimately decided the fate of Napoleon's Empire. Written by an acknowledged authority on the Prussian and German armies of the period, it gives an authoritative viewpoint of the events and battles leading up to the largest battle of the Napoleonic Wars, the three day slugfest at Leipzig.
The narrative flows very well and is easy to follow, and it is packed with information, even though it had to follow the somewhat strict regimen of the Osprey guidelines. Profusely illustrated as are all Ospreys, the pictures are very well chosen, and the color plates are a mixture of artwork by Richard Knotel, Bellange, K.H. Rahl, Rabe, J.A Klein, and Krause. Only one appears to be by the staff artists at Osprey, which is a change.
There are very good descriptions of the armies of the main belligerents in the campaign, including the Swedes. The orders of battle are exhaustive and accurate, and are useful for both historians and wargamers.
Errors are few. The two most noticeable concern the Grande Armee. First, the author states that at the Battle of Kulm 'Vandamme's Corps had been wiped out.' Actually, the I Corps, Vandamme's, lost almost half at Kulm, the rest broke out of the allied trap and escaped. They were reorganized and placed under the command of General Mouton, Count of Lobau. They were later captured with St. Cyr when Dresden capitulated. Second, the author mentions that the garrisons Napoleon left in Danzig and the lower Elbe 'were largely veterans of the 1812 campaign with experienced officers.' The fact of the matter is, that most of the troops in these garrisons only became veterans as they endured the fighting during their respective sieges in this campaign.
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5.0 out of 5 stars savage battle at leipzig May 12 2004
Format:Paperback
It is one of the best books of the series. It is well described of the battles leading up to leipzig and the leipzig battle its self. Many good battle pictures along with the 2d and 3d battle maps. I highly recremend it for you napoleonic fans or theose who want this book fore their collection.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent survey of Napoleon's Real Waterloo April 2 2009
By Yoda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book starts off by giving an excellent perspective, in a few pages, of the what the diplomatic and military picture in Europe was just before this battle. Hence the necessary perspective for the battle is provided.

The book then goes on to discuss the many aspects of the armies involved including their leadership (both at the highest level and the quality of lower ranking officers), political and command structure strengths and problems (for Napoleon, for example, the lack of subordinate quality field marshals, considering the size of the battle, probably led to the loss of this battle), troops, and logistical problems and strenghts and weaknesses in various arms (i.e., Napoleon's lack of cavalry in terms of both quality and quantity caused seriuos intelligence problems that played important role in his defeat). The book also illustrates well how troops from each national army looked and different aspects/geography of battle, along with maps.

The one weakness of the book (and hence 4 instead of 5 stars) is that it is a little difficult to follow the battle because the author makes too extensive a use of the various field marshals movements and actions without mentioning which side they were on. Not much of an oversight but one, unless the reader is very knowledgeable regarding these commanders, that is enough to cause some confusion. This problem is such a shame considering how easily it could have been rectified.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief--and useful--analysis of the battle of the nations--Leipzig Nov. 2 2013
By Steven A. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The denouement to the disastrous Russian campaign and the harbinger of Waterloo. Leipzig was a victory by an Allied army against a rapidly recreated French army. Napoleon has lost a huge percentage of the army that entered Russia--as well as priceless horseflesh. His lack of cavalry at Leipzig was an issue.

First, it is almost incomprehensible how Napoleon created a new army so swiftly after the catastrophic invasion of Russia. But he did it. One problem? Not enough horses to maintain the cavalry as needed. This would be a factor in the Leipzig campaign. In 1813, the French Army under Napoleon had at its disposal about 440,000 troops in the field army. The opponents of the French included Russian troops (184,000 troops in the field army), Austrians ((127,000 troops), Prussian forces (162,000 in the field army), Sweden (23,000 troops--under the command of one of Napoleon's former corps commanders--Bernadotte), Ad up these and odds and ends of other allies? About 512,000 troops (page 27). A huge number of soldiers awaiting battle. The order of battle (listing all troops involved--and their units) is almost stupefying--from pages 28 to 36.

Second, the campaign is pretty well depicted, from its origins to the conclusion at Leipzig, in which Napoleon's fate was sealed (the book argues that it was Leipzig--and not Waterloo--that doomed Napoleon). The first map on the campaign is on pages 38-39, outlining the starting point of the maneuvering. Pages 41-63 discuss the series of battles leading up to Leipzig. Overall, the French did poorer than better i n the preliminary combat.

Then, the titanic battle itself. The text describes the different aspects of the combat. Sometimes, one gets lost in the welter of which unit did what. The maps--on occasion--are not as illuminating as desired. But, overall, the text does give a sense of the struggle at Leipzig.

The volume ends with a look at the battlefield as it exists today, a chronology, a guide to further reading, and wargaming Leipzig.

This volume in Osprey's "Campaign" series is rather brief, but it provides an entree to one of the more important battles of the early 19th century--which doomed Napleon and the French to ultimate defeat.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I got what I paid for. Jan. 7 2013
By Michael R. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was hoping for a better copy but this was exactly as advertised and I have no complaints. Received very quickly.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BATTLE OF THE NATIONS Jan. 31 2012
By Just a Guy on Amazon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A revamping of the original print that came out in the early 90s, but not too far removed from its origins so as to be a different book; while this book does come with a flashier cover, and more dramatic jacket art than the original 'standing at attention' templates we have so come to know and love, it is after all a 'retelling' of the same exact text of its original.

Osprey Military Books has been putting out amazing, reliable, and entertaining line of material for more years than I can remember. The books are well-researched and written, with wonderful coloured templates, original etchings, and pictures of relics and historical sites and places of import.

Leipzig 1813 is one of the CAMPAIGN Series in the Osprey collection, and it is in a word - Amazing! There are 96 pages covering everything from: The Origins of the Campaign, The Opposing Commanders & their forces, their battle plans, and then coverage of the Campaign itself. It goes on to discuss the Aftermath of the battle and, as well as what the battlefield looks like today. It provides information for 'Further Reading', and for the die-hards out there, it also furnishes how to Play Leipzig as a War-Game. It even recaps with a list of the Chronology of the battle in bold, crisp print.

The text is well written, easy and enjoyable to follow. The book is ripe with illustrations, both historical and contemporary, as well as maps, three dimensional diagrams of the battlefields, and illustrations all throughout.
There are contemporary templates of the soldiers uniforms, as well as colored maps and charts with troop movement and battle locales.

This book is perfect for both the experienced and well-versed, and the interested first timer approaching the subject. LEIPZIG 1813: THE BATTLE OF THREE NATIONS is just one more superior piece of military literature that Osprey can claim as their own - and should - with pride.

A side note: as a Painter of Napoleonic Miniatures, and interested historian, this book is an excellent source of information that can be used in tandem with many of the OSPREY Men-At-Arms books on the Napoleon uniforms.
4.0 out of 5 stars Confusing Battle Good Otherwise Aug. 15 2014
By Chas. M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Osprey Publishing really is a godsend for historians and enthusiasts of Napoleon. The campaign series, and the men at arms series have been incredibly enlightening to me.

Having said that, some books in the series are a lot better than others. I would say this volume on Leipzig is, unfortunately one of the weaker ones. To be sure the author does a fantastic job of explaining the condition of the armies involved, the political situation, and the strategic position and options of all involved. That is the volume's incredible strength and why I recommended it. The iconography is also absolutely stunning and is worth buying just for that alone.

When it comes to the battle however, the text reads like this: the French went over here, then the Russians went over there, then the Prussians moved over here, and in the French went there. Then the Russians moved over here, and in the Prussians moved over there. Oh and by the way, the French moved over there. Does that sound like fun reading? I should also say that the battle of Grossbeeren is not explained very well at all, and neither is the battle of the Katzbach. Marshal MacDonald obviously screwed up somehow but the text does not really make that clear.

Sometimes I think that one really does have to be a West Point graduate in order to fully understand these books. The maps with the troop movements are often confusing and unintelligible. It would really be great if the history Channel, or the BBC, or public broadcasting, could turn some of these campaign series books into actual shows. They could use computer animation to show the various troop movements and also the effect of terrain on the battle, because it is really hard to understand all this from the printed page. It would really help the layperson understand military strategy and exactly what all those squares and X marks mean on a map.

I would also like to say that it is inexplicable as to why Osprey has not come out with the volume on Napoleon's Polish campaign of 1807. That is really weird.
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