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The Battle of Jena

 


 


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This route begins at the Napoleonstein or (Napoleon Stone) which is about 400 metres away from the Cospeda 1806 museum on the highest point of the Landgrafenberg, the “Windknollen”. From here, you can discover an impressive panoramic view of Jena and the Saale valley.
This place originally harboured a small pillar that marked the frontier between Jena and Cospeda. It was just under the Windknollen that Napoleon spent the night with his troops. He arrived in Jena in the afternoon of the 13th of October and immediately mounted the Landgrafenberg, held by French troops. It was there that he indicated to his commanders the positions that they were to occupy during the battle on the next day.
After the battle, the Emperor spent the nuit in the castle (which is now the main building of the University), and on the 15th of October, he arrived in Weimar. Moreover, Napoleon was to pass over the Landgrafenberg again in 1808, during the Conference at Erfurt with the Tsar Alexander I of Russia. It was there that he promised a university delegation from Jena that he would pay compensation for the damage suffered by the inhabitants of the town during the fighting.
Ever since, the frontier stone bears the name “Napoleonstein”, or “Napoleon's Stone” After the Second World War, the terrain was used by the Soviet Army and was inaccessible to the public. The monument was lost during this period, and relaced by a new stone in 1991.


1806 Jena /Cospeda Museum © Stadtmuseum Jena

1806 Jena /Cospeda Museum © Stadtmuseum Jena
  

The route continues a further 400 metres to the next stage, the 1806 Jena /Cospeda Museum, the best place to start if you want to get clear idea of the events which occurred two hundred years ago.
Apart from the artefacts related to the story of the battle and the war of 1806/1807, the museum offers detailed maps and paintings, dioramas and contemporary eye-witness accounts. Visitors are not only informed on the causes of the war, the course of operations and the consequences of the battle, but can also find information on the burden of war that the inhabitants had to bear. Other aspects treated include the everyday life of soldiers on both sides, their uniforms and the workings and effects of the weapons of the period.


Dornberg © Stadtmuseum Jena

Dornberg © Stadtmuseum Jena

Agrandir
  

The next stage in the itinerary is a visit to the important sites related to the battle and the monuments related to it. This part is arranged in chronological order as the battle unfolded. At each site there are panels explaining what happened and visitors have the same view of the battlefield as did the commanders, officers and soldiers whose stories are told on the panels.
 
The Fighting around the Dornberg
Situated between Krippendorf and Closewitz, the Dornberg marks the highest point of the battlefield of Jena. From here, it was possible to take in the entire battlefield when looking out to the North and West. Napoleon was fully aware of the enormous strategic advantage offered by the Dornberg, and concentrated all possible efforts on its conquest as soon as battle was engaged at Jena.
 
During the night, French troops occupied the Landgrafenberg with all their equipment – a truly monumental feat of logistics, particuliarly given the difficulty of transporting cannon in unforgiving terrain. The Emperor himself participated, intervening at one point to iron out a traffic jam and to ensure the fluidity of the path onto the heights.
 
On the 14th of October, at 6am, the French attacked the Prussian and Saxon troops holding the Dornberg under the command of General Tauentzien. At first, Tauentzien's forces held out, but more and more French soldiers pressed in on the Dornberg, via the Cospeda heights, taking advantage of a thick fog. Around 9am, Tauentzien began to retreat toward Isserstadt/Vierzehnheiligen, under the weight of numbers and hoping desperately for help that did not arrive. Napoleon had achieved his aim. From the Dornberg, he could direct the course of operations.


The Fighting near Rödigen
Shortly after, French, Saxon and Prussian troops collided near the village of Rödigen.
On the eve of the fighting, General Holtzendorf had taken up lodgings there, and divided his soldiers between several villages. This geographical separation was to prove to be a serious handicap when battle was engaged. It was with great difficulty that Holtzendorf was able to concentrate his forces. Around 10am the Prussian lines stretched between Rödigen and Lehesten. Holtzendorf was soon forced to retreat toward Apolda, opening the way for the French, who fell upon the left wing of the Prussian and Saxon army near Krippendorf. The battle had now entered a decisive phase.
 
The Bissing Monument
The Bissing monument sits between the hamlets of Rödingen and Lehesten. It commemorates the story of a Saxon First Lieutenant August Von Bissing who was killed in the fighting around Rödingen.


The Fighting near Vierzehnheiligen © Stadtmuseum Jena

The Fighting near Vierzehnheiligen © Stadtmuseum Jena
  

The Fighting near Vierzehnheiligen
After seizing the Dornberg, Napoleon could see that a large part of the Prussian and Saxon army had taken up position in the plain behind pouvait Vierzehnheiligen. Soon after, this small town, known for its medieval church, was in the heart of the fighting.  Around 10am, the lines around the town were aflame. At first the Prussians, under the command of Prince Von Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, were able to hold off the French attacks. But it was at this moment that the prince made a monumental mistake. He deployed his troops in a thin line, linking Isserstadt, Vierzehnheiligen and Krippendorf, without occupying the villages and without making use of the cavalry at his disposal. Instead, his soldiers had to withstand two hours of withering fire from French sharpshooters, who were able to use the villages for cover and to fire at leisure on the enemy lines.  Meanwhile, Napoleon had ordered reinforcements from the Dornberg, who inflicted heavy losses on the Prussians and Saxons. French cavalry charging from Rödigen had also begun smashing through the defenses on the left wing of the Prussian army. Around 1pm, the carnage was terrible, and the Prussian lines began to disintegrate. There was little sight of the famous Prussian discipline beaten into the men. Whole regiments of the Prussian and Saxon army turned and fled.  The battle of Jena was turning into a rout.
 
Location: Europe Route, between Vierzehnheiligen and Krippendorf


The Krippendorf windmill © Stadtmuseum Jena

The Krippendorf windmill © Stadtmuseum Jena
  

The Eberhard Monument
From here, the old Krippendorf windmill is just visible far away to the North of Krippendorf. During the fighting, the soldiers used it as a landmark. Today, the area around the mill is beautiful. The fields roll away as far as the eye can see, and it is difficult to imagine the horrific carnage that took place here 200 years ago. The only reminder of the bloodshed is a narrow path between Vierzehnheiligen and Krippendorf, edged with cherry trees.


The “Europe Route” marks the Prussian positions during the fighting around Vierzehnheiligen. The soldiers were forced to remain “planted” shoulder to shoulder, like the trees that stand here today. The Eberhard Monument commemorates the death of the commander of the Grawert Infantry Regiment (the 47th), Major Von Eberhard. It was raised by one of his descendants and sits on Europe Way. The “Europe Way” project was launched in 2003 by the “Lebensraum Gönnatal e. V” association and symbolises the transition from hereditary enmities to a united Europe. Duirng the course of the past few years, the association, with the support of diverse partners, has installed panels along the way bearing quotations and planted trees in whose shade walkers can immerse themselves in the history of this place.
 
In 1806, the hamlet of Vierzehnheiligen found itself in the heart of the battle of Jena. A monument near the village church, designed by Prof.Max Unger of Berlin, was inaugurated on the 14th of October 1906 for the 100th anniversary of the battle. It commemorates the fallen and a bronze plaque bears the names of 53 Prussian officers.


The church in Jena on the evening of 14 October © Stadtmuseum Jena

The church in Jena on the evening of 14 October © Stadtmuseum Jena
  

The Fighting at the Schnecke
As the fighting reached its climax, a division of Saxon troops watched the course of the battle from a hill outside the Mühltal of Jena, in a place known as the «Schnecke», near Vierzehnheiligen. Those who come to Jena today from Weimar cross the Mühtal with many turns in the road after Isserstadt. In 1806, unlike today, the hill was not yet wooded. The hills around offered a good view of the battlefield near Vierzehnheiligen. Here, the Saxons awaited the orders of the Prussian commander in chief, the Prince Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, who did not arrive. They received no information regarding the course of operations and were not called in as reinforcements. They therefore decided to wait, sheltered in the Mühtal, waiting for the French attacks, which were, at first, far away. It was not until around 1pm, when the French had already crushed the Prussian and Saxon forces around Vierzehnheiligen, that fighting began at the Schnecke, between the Saxon troops holding the position and units from Marshal Augereau's corps. By shortly after 14h30, the French were victorious in this sector. Part of the Saxon division was taken prisoner. The rest fled.
Location: South of the B 7, near Isserstadt


Fighting at Sperlingsberg © Stadtmuseum Jena

Fighting at Sperlingsberg © Stadtmuseum Jena
  

Fighting at Sperlingsberg
The final chapter of the battle of Jena was written by the fighting around the Sperlingsberg, near Kapellendorf. On the 12th of October, the Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen had set up his headquarters in the castle of this small town. After the defeat at Vierzehnheiligen, a large part of the Prussian and Saxon Army sought refuge at Kappellendorf, intending to join with the forces of General Rüchel, whom Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen had called on for help only a few hous before.  The general's attempts to integrate the fleeing troops into his forces in order to create reinforcements failed. Despite the odds, he lauched a counter-attack at about 2pm with fresh troops, uphill, inot knowing the strength of the French forces in front of him. Rüchel's offensive failed in the face of French artillery. In less than 30 minutes, his 15,000 men were defeated and forced into retreat.
Location: On the Road between Kappellendorf and Großromstadt

Kappellendorf Castle
The imposing Kappellendorf castle sits in the triangle formed between Apolda, Jena and Weimar. The castle, built in the middle of the XIIth century, boasts a turbulent history. From the 12th to 14th of Octobre 1806, it housed the headquarters of the Prussian and Saxon army commanded by the Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen. Not far from the castle, a commemorative tower on the Sperlingsberg recalls the final actions of the battle of Jena. The castle houses a painting by F.L.Schuster “The Saxon battalion ‘aus dem Winkel' at the battle of Jena”.
 
Near the castle stand two monuments, “Aus dem Winkel” and the Sperlingsberg.
 
The monument "Aus dem Winkel" is dedicated to the Saxon battalion and to their eponymous commander, Julius Heinrich aus dem Winkel. It stands in the fields between Hohlstedt et Kappellendorf. To reach it, take the public path between Hohlstedt and Kappellendorf.
 
The second monument is a limestone tower, twelve metres high, inaugurated on the 14th of October 1906 on the Sperlingsberg, a hill to the East of Kappellendorf. The tower is dedicated to the fallen in Rüchel's army, defeated here at the end of the battle of Jena. From the top, visitors can take in a breath-taking panoramic view, stretching from the Weimarer Land to Ettersberg.

Location: between Kappellendorf & Großromstedt
 
June 2006


 

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