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Eylau

French Cavalry
Men & Horses
Myth & Glory
The Charge
Russian Army
The Weather
Bibliography
Photographs

 

 

Introduction

The military historian, Dr David Chandler wrote [Chandler pp535]:

'None of the great Napoleonic struggles is surrounded with more doubt and uncertainty than the battle of Eylau. Fact, myth and propaganda are almost inextricably intertwined, and different authorities give conflicting interpretations of almost every aspect and stage of the struggle'.

Much of the myth has come down to us in the form of eye- washing, by nineteenth-century battle painters, and brainwashing by some military historians who, even up to the present day, consider that men, horses, artillery and wagons can go dashing around a battlefield covered by almost a meter of snow, in temperatures of -16c, while intermittent blizzards raged.

Trying to piece together the individual events of this great battle is rather like attempting to unravel a tangled fishing line; just when you think you have found the correct loop to pass it through, the whole lot gets even more entwined. Dealing with the battle as a whole, therefore, is not the object of this paper, but by focusing our attention on one of the grand moments during its course, in this case Murat's massive cavalry charge, we may come to understand just how complex, and at times how fabricated Napoleonic battles could be.

I do not intend to go into any details of the campaign leading up to the battle of Eylau other than to mention events just prior to the battle which may have effected the circumstances which occurred during its course; suffice to say that, like the battle itself, many other events which took place during this campaign are equally subject to doubt and conjecture.

 

Graham J. Morris 
January 2002

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2004  Graham Morris. 
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