1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bautzen

BAUTZEN (Wendish Budissin, “town”), a town of Germany, in the kingdom of Saxony and the capital of Saxon Upper Lusatia. Pop. (1890) 21,515; (1905) 29,412. It occupies an eminence on the right bank of the Spree, 680 ft. above the level of the sea, 32 m. E.N.E. from Dresden, on the Dresden-Görlitz-Breslau main line of railway, and at the junction of lines from Schandau and Königswartha. The town is surrounded by walls, and outside these again by ramparts, now in great measure turned into promenades, and has extensive suburbs partly lying on the left bank of the river. Among its churches the most remarkable is the cathedral of St Peter, dating from the 15th century, with a tower 300 ft. in height. It is used by both Protestants and Roman Catholics, an iron screen separating the parts assigned to each. There are five other churches, a handsome town hall, an orphan-asylum, several hospitals, a mechanics’ institute, a famous grammar school (gymnasium), a normal and several other schools, and two public libraries. The general trade and manufactures are considerable, including woollen (stockings and cloth), linen and cotton goods, leather, paper, saltpetre, and dyeing. It has also iron foundries, potteries, distilleries, breweries, cigar factories, &c.

Bautzen was already in existence when Henry I., the Fowler, conquered Lusatia in 928. It became a town and fortress under Otto I., his successor, and speedily attained considerable wealth and importance, for a good share of which it was indebted to the pilgrimages which were made to the “arm of St Peter,” preserved in one of the churches. It suffered greatly during the Hussite war, and still more during the Thirty Years’ War, in the course of which it was besieged and captured by the elector of Brandenburg, John George (1620), fell into the hands of Wallenstein (1633), and, in the following year was burned by its commander before being surrendered to the elector of Saxony. At the peace of Prague in 1635 it passed with Lusatia to Saxony as a war indemnity.

The town gives its name to a great battle in which, on the 20th and 21st of May 1813, Napoleon I. defeated an allied army of Russians and Prussians (see Napoleonic Campaigns). The position chosen by the allies as that in which to receive the attack of Napoleon ran S.W. to N.E. from Battle of Bautzen, 1813.Bautzen on the left to the village of Gleina on the right. Bautzen itself was held as an advanced post of the left wing (Russians), the main body of which lay 2 m. to the rear (E.) near Jenkwitz. On the heights of Burk, 21/2 m. N.E. of Bautzen, was Kleist’s Prussian corps, with Yorck’s in support. On Kleist’s right at Pliskowitz (3 m. N.E. of Burk) lay Blücher’s corps, and on Blücher’s right, formed at an angle to him, and refused towards Gleina (7 m. N.E. by E. of Bautzen), were the Russians of Barclay de Tolly. The country on which the battle was fought abounded in strong defensive positions, some of which were famous as battlegrounds of the Seven Years’ War. The whole line was covered by the river Spree, which served as an immediate defence for the left and centre, and an obstacle to any force moving to attack the right; moreover the interval between the river and the position on this side was covered with a network of ponds and watercourses. Napoleon’s right and centre approached (on a broad front owing to the want of cavalry) from Dresden by Bischofswerda and Kamenz; the left under Ney, which was separated by nearly 40 m. from the left of the main body at Luckau, was ordered to march via Hoyerswerda, Weissig and Klix to strike the allies’ right. At noon on the 20th, Napoleon, after a prolonged reconnaissance, advanced the main army against Bautzen and Burk, leaving the enemy’s right to be dealt with by Ney on the morrow. He equally neglected the extreme left of the allies in the mountains, judging it impossible to move his artillery and cavalry in the broken ground there. Oudinot’s (XII.) corps, the extreme right wing, was to work round by the hilly country to Jenkwitz in rear of Bautzen, Macdonald’s (XI.) corps was to assault Bautzen, and Marmont, with the VI. corps, to cross the Spree and attack the Prussians posted about Burk. These three corps were directed by Soult. Farther to the left, Bertrand’s (IV.) corps was held back to connect with Ney, who had then reached Weissig with the head of his column. The Guard and other general reserves were in rear of Macdonald and Marmont. Bautzen was taken without difficulty; Oudinot and Marmont easily passed the Spree on either side, and were formed up on the other bank of the river by about 4 P.M. A heavy and indecisive combat took place in the evening between Oudinot and the Russian left, directed by the tsar in person, in which Oudinot’s men made a little progress towards Jenkwitz. Marmont’s battle was more serious. The Prussians were not experienced troops, but were full of ardour and hatred of the French. Kleist made a most stubborn resistance on the Burk ridge, and Bertrand’s corps was called up by Napoleon to join in the battle; but part of Blücher’s corps fiercely engaged Bertrand, and Burk was not taken till 7 P.M. The French attack was much impeded by the ground and by want of room to deploy between the river and the enemy. But Napoleon’s object in thus forcing the fighting in the centre was achieved. The allies, feeling there the weight of the French attack, gradually drew upon the reserves of their left and right to sustain the shock. At nightfall Bautzen and Burk were in possession of the French, and the allied line now stretched from Jenkwitz northward to Pliskowitz, Blücher and Barclay maintaining their original positions at Pliskowitz and Gleina. The night of the 20th-21st was spent by both armies on the battlefield. Napoleon cared little that the French centre was almost fought out; it had fulfilled its mission, and on the 21st the decisive point was to be Barclay’s position. Soon after daybreak fighting was renewed along the whole line; but Napoleon lay down to sleep until the time appointed for Ney’s attack. To a heavy counter-stroke against Oudinot, which completely drove that marshal from the ground won on the 20th, the emperor paid no more heed than to order Macdonald to support the XII corps. For in this second position of the allies, which was far more formidable than the original line, the decisive result could be brought about only by Ney. That commander had his own (III) corps, the corps of Victor and of Lauriston and the Saxons under Reynier, a total force of 60,000 men. Lauriston, at the head of the column, had been sharply engaged on the 19th, but had spent the 20th in calculated inaction. Early on the 21st the flank attack opened; Ney and Lauriston moving direct upon Gleina, while Reynier and Victor operated by a wide turning movement against Barclay’s right rear. The advance was carried out with precision; the Russians were quickly dislodged, and Ney was now closing upon the rear of Blücher’s corps at the village of Preititz. Napoleon at once ordered Soult’s four corps to renew their attacks in order to prevent the allies from reinforcing their right. But at the critical moment Ney halted; his orders were to be in Preititz at 11 A.M. and he reached that place an hour earlier. The respite of an hour enabled the allies to organize a fierce counter-attack; Ney was checked until the flanking columns of Victor and Reynier could come upon the scene. At 1 P.M., when Ney resumed his advance, it was too late to cut off the retreat of the allies. Napoleon now made his final stroke. The Imperial Guard and all other troops in the centre, 80,000 strong and covered by a great mass of artillery, moved forward to the attack; and shortly the allied centre, depleted of its reserves, which had been sent to oppose Ney, was broken through and driven off the field. Blücher, now almost surrounded, called back the troops opposing Ney to make head against Soult, and Ney’s four corps then carried all before them. Preparations had been made by the allies, ever since Ney’s appearance, to break off the engagement, and now the tsar ordered a general retreat eastwards, himself with the utmost skill and bravery directing the rearguard. Thus the allies drew off unharmed, leaving no trophies in the hands of Napoleon, whose success, tactically unquestionable, was, for a variety of reasons, and above all owing to the want of cavalry, a coup manqué strategically. The troops engaged were, on the French side 163,000 men, on that of the allies about 100,000; and the losses respectively about 20,000 and 13,500 killed and wounded.