Five years ago I came to Leipzig for my first continental event, what a kick off that was with thousands of participants and my first time in battle firing a proper musket. Could the 205th anniversary be as rewarding?
It was Friday lunchtime when I found my way to the bivouac at Tollhaus Dollitz, one of three sites, this was for the artillery park of both sides and the Prussian brigade.
Day of battle.. after the drill we marched to the Markleeburg camp for lunch. In the UK battalions do not fit bayonets very often, and certainly don't melee with them attached, which I think is a shame as it does look better and more imposing as well as being the right impression. Everyone with a musket knows not to point the barrel at anyone so this naturally leads to a bayonet never being level when troops come to the fray as they naturally become raised and crossed, but.. oh well.
Above is the moment we took to the field and the contest opened up.. soon a major charge made us fall back in disarray. We crossed bayonets with Poles and Bavarians and having fought through the latter I was outnumbered and fell.. I called on one of them to remember he was my brother and join us! He didn't, but did give up on trying to steal one of my shoes, so it was a partial win. A doctor and nurse assistant ran to my aid and I managed to limp back to the unit.
The combination of dust from the loose soil and drifting smoke made for some atmospheric scenes.
Charged by dragoons and hussars we formed square amid the human wreckage of the fighting.
Das booom! not pictured but very much present was an Austrian mortar which used up a whole bag of powder with each mighty shot, the rockets were also noteworthy for adding to the atmosphere and I saw a couple land on spots where soldiers had been only moments before.
I confess I wasn't sure about the presence of British and Scottish troops (other than the Rocket troops who famously were there) because your putting on an historical battle then adding troops who had nothing to do with it.. and partially because if I travel a thousand miles across Europe I don't want to see more $%^*ing riflemen! But on reflection I do see that in a land where most events are recreations of an actual battle that took place if you live in Dresden and want to be a Highlander you'd have to constantly travel to Belgium or Spain.. but then there was something like 23 armies involved in the Battle of the nations and 1813 campaign.. did none of them take your fancy?
So it was a great battle with us being well employed, as I think everyone was, and being quite mobile. A fine balance between being well organised but not scripted, I've no idea how much went as planned. The Saxons defecting to our side near the end was doubtless so and the length of the battle was about right.
Admitting defeat Emperor Napoleon leaves the battlefield his anger making him eschew the bus service provided.
The commemoration ceremony was a modest occasion on the Sunday morning, at first in the open park where there was a speech and 'Meine gute Kamerad' was played on a bugle. At the close there was a shout: French contingent:
Blücher: We still won.
There was then a brief gathering of a few French and Saxons by the Napoleon stein.. a monument to where Napoleon apparently lost his hat when leaving the field. I visited the giant Völkerschlacht memorial and bid many of my comrades of the weekend farewell and marched back into town. I may well look into going next year, such a fantastic place! or see what other events are on such as Grossbeeren in the suburbs of Berlin, having made some friends I'd like to think I can drop in and join them again. Bis Spater! (See you later!)
PROST! NOSTROVIA! SANTE!