Battle of Czarnowo
The Battle of Czarnowo on the night of 23–24 December 1806 saw troops of the First French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 under the eye of Emperor Napoleon I
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 launch an evening assault crossing of the Wkra
Wkra is a river in north-eastern Poland, a tributary of the Narew river, with a length of 249 kilometres and the basin area of 5,322 km². .Towns and townships:* Bieżuń* Radzanów* Strzegowo* Glinojeck* Sochocin...

 River against Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy
Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy
Alexander Ivanovich Count Osterman-Tolstoy was a Russian nobleman and soldier in the era of the French Revolutionary Wars...

's defending Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 forces. The attackers, part of Marshal
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

 Louis-Nicolas Davout's III Corps, succeeded in crossing the Wkra at its mouth and pressed eastward to the village of Czarnowo
Czarnowo, Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki County
Czarnowo is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Pomiechówek, within Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. It lies approximately south-east of Brody-Parcele , north-east of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, and north-west of Warsaw...

. After an all-night struggle, the Russian commander withdrew his troops to the east, ending this War of the Fourth Coalition
War of the Fourth Coalition
The Fourth Coalition against Napoleon's French Empire was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and the United Kingdom....

 action. Czarnowo is located on the north bank of the Narew
The Narew River , in western Belarus and north-eastern Poland, is a left tributary of the Vistula river...

 River 33 kilometres (21 mi) north-northwest of Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...


Several other actions occurred during the same week. On the 23rd, Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières
Jean-Baptiste Bessières
Jean-Baptiste Bessières, 1st Duc d' Istria was a Marshal of France of the Napoleonic Era. His younger brother, Bertrand, followed in his footsteps and eventually became a Divisional General...

 defeated a probe by Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 troops at Bieżuń
Bieżuń is a town in Żuromin County, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland, with 1,903 inhabitants on the Wkra River. Jedrzej of Golczew, castellan of Płock, estaqblished the town at the end of the 14th century. Prince Siemowit IV, Duke of Masovia granted the city rights charter in 1406 and in 1869,...

. On 24 December, an action occurred at Kołoząb and Sochocin
Sochocin is a village in Płońsk County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. It is the seat of the gmina called Gmina Sochocin. It lies approximately north-east of Płońsk and north-west of Warsaw....

 where Marshal Pierre Augereau's VII Corps attempted to cross the Wkra. The French managed to secure a foothold on the east bank, forcing Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly
Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly
Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly , was a Russian Field Marshal and Minister of War during Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and War of the Sixth Coalition.-Early life:...

's Russian defenders to retreat. On Christmas Day, part of Marshal Michel Ney
Michel Ney
Michel Ney , 1st Duc d'Elchingen, 1st Prince de la Moskowa was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of France created by Napoleon I...

's VI Corps drove the Prussians from Soldau (Działdowo), forcing them to retreat north toward Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

. The Russians, however, were full of fight and two sharp battles occurred on 26 December.


At the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt
Battle of Jena-Auerstedt
The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia...

 on 14 October 1806, Napoleon administered a terrible beating to the principal Prussian armies. On a single day, the French captured 25,000 Prussian soldiers, 200 guns, and 60 colors. In subsequent operations the French inflicted crippling defeats on their adversaries at Erfurt
Capitulation of Erfurt
In the Capitulation of Erfurt on 16 October 1806 a large body of troops from the Kingdom of Prussia under Lieutenant General the Prince of Orange surrendered to Marshal Joachim Murat at the city of Erfurt. The Prussian soldiers were demoralized by their shattering defeat at the Battle of...

, Halle
Battle of Halle
In the Battle of Halle on 17 October 1806 a French corps led by Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte fought the Prussian Reserve under Eugene Frederick Henry, Duke of Württemberg. The French defeated their opponents, forcing the Prussians to retreat northeast toward Dessau after suffering heavy losses. The...

, Prenzlau
Battle of Prenzlau
In the Battle of Prenzlau or Capitulation of Prenzlau on 28 October 1806 two divisions of French cavalry and some infantry led by Marshal Joachim Murat intercepted a retreating Prussian corps led by Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen. In this action from the War of the Fourth...

, Pasewalk
Capitulation of Pasewalk
The Capitulation of Pacewalk on 29 October 1806 resulted in the surrender of Oberst von Hagen's 4,200 Prussian soldiers to an inferior force of two French light cavalry brigades led by Generals of Brigade Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud and Antoine Lasalle...

, Stettin
Capitulation of Stettin
In the Capitulation of Stettin on 29–30 October 1806, Lieutenant General Friedrich Gisbert Wilhelm von Romberg surrendered the garrsion and fortress to a French light cavalry brigade led by General of Brigade Antoine Lasalle...

, Lübeck
Battle of Lübeck
The Battle of Lübeck took place on 6 November 1806 in Lübeck, Germany between soldiers of the Kingdom of Prussia led by Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher and troops of the First French Empire under Marshals Joachim Murat, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, and Nicolas Soult...

, Magdeburg
Siege of Magdeburg (1806)
The siege of Magdeburg was a siege of the city that took place during the war of the Fourth Coalition...

, and Hamelin
Siege of Hameln
In the Siege of Hameln, which began around 7 November 1806 and ended 22 November 1806, First French Empire forces captured the fortress of Hamelin from its garrison composed of troops from the Kingdom of Prussia. The siege was begun by the French Marshal Édouard Adolphe Casimir Joseph Mortier....


In early November, Davout sent General of Division Marc Antoine de Beaumont
Marc Antoine de Beaumont
Marc Antoine Bonnin de la Bonninière de Beaumont, born 23 September 1763 – died 4 February 1830, a French nobleman, became a page to the king and joined the army of the Old Regime. He stayed in the army during the French Revolution and narrowly escaped being executed...

's 2,500 dragoons to scout east of the Oder River. Napoleon ordered his brother General of Division Jérôme Bonaparte
Jérôme Bonaparte
Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte, French Prince, King of Westphalia, 1st Prince of Montfort was the youngest brother of Napoleon, who made him king of Westphalia...

 to protect his southern flank by operating against Glogau (Głogów) in Prussian-held Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

. Wishing to deny Warsaw to the approaching Russian army, Napoleon decided to secure a position on the east bank of the Vistula River before winter weather forced a stop to the campaigning season.

In December, the Prussians were able to field only 6,000, plus the garrisons of Danzig (Gdańsk)
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

 and Graudenz (Grudziądz)
Grudziądz is a city in northern Poland on the Vistula River, with 96 042 inhabitants . Situated in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship , the city was previously in the Toruń Voivodeship .- History :-Early history:...

. Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Mikhail Kamensky
Mikhail Kamensky
Count Mikhail Fedotovich Kamensky was a Russian Field Marshal prominent in the Catherinian wars and the Napoleonic campaigns....

 led the Russian army in Poland, which numbered about 90,000 men in two wings led by Generals Levin August, Count von Bennigsen
Levin August, Count von Bennigsen
Levin August Gottlieb Theophil , Count von Bennigsen was a German general in the service of the Russian Empire....

 and Friedrich Wilhelm von Buxhoeveden
Friedrich Wilhelm von Buxhoeveden
Friedrich Wilhelm Count von Buxhoevden was a Russian Infantry General and a government official. Buxhoeveden commanded the Russian armies during the Finnish War....

 (Buxhöwden). By now, Kamensky was showing clear signs of his mental and physical unfitness to command.

Buxhöwden, who outranked Bennigsen, led the 5th Division under Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 Nikolay Tuchkov
Nikolay Tuchkov
Nikolay Alexeivich Tuchkov was a Russian general of the Russo-Swedish War , the suppression of the Kościuszko Uprising and the opposition to the French invasion of Russia. He rose to the rank of lieutenant general and commander of an infantry corps....

; the 7th Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Dmitry Dokhturov
Dmitry Dokhturov
Dmitry Sergeyevich Dokhturov was a Russian Infantry General and a prominent military leader during the Patriotic War of 1812....

; the 8th Division of Lieutenant General Peter Kirillovich Essen
Peter Kirillovich Essen
Count Peter Kirillovich Essen was a Russian General of the Infantry in 1819 and a count of Baltic German origin. He belongs to the 'Essen' – bourgeois family from Pärnu...

; and the 14th Division led by Lieutenant General Heinrich Reinhold von Anrep. Buxhöwden's divisions were veterans of the Battle of Austerlitz
Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories, where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition...

 on 2 December 1805 and were under strength. In total, therefore, his wing had 29,000 infantry, 7,000 cavalry, 1,200 gunners, and 216 artillery pieces.

Bennigsen commanded the 2nd Division of Ostermann-Tolstoy, the 3rd Division led by Lieutenant General Fabian Gottlieb von Osten-Sacken, the 4th Division under Lieutenant General Dmitry Golitsyn, and the 6th Division commanded by Lieutenant General Alexander Karlovich Sedmoratski. The nominal strength of Bennigsen's force was 49,000 infantry, 11,000 regular cavalry, 4,000 Cossacks, 2,700 artillerymen, 900 pioneers, and 276 guns. Of these, between 55,000 and 60,000 were available for mobile operations.

The Russians fielded an army of 18 divisions in 1806. Each division consisted of six 3-battalion infantry regiments, ten squadrons of heavy cavalry, ten squadrons of light cavalry, two heavy foot artillery batteries, three light foot artillery batteries, and one horse artillery battery. With 14-gun foot batteries and 12-gun horse batteries, each Russian division theoretically controlled 82 field pieces. The heavy batteries were generally made up of eight 12-pound cannons, four heavy howitzers, and two light howitzers. The light batteries were similarly mustered but with 6-pound instead of 12-pound cannons. Horse batteries were exclusively made up of 6-pound cannons. Five divisions under General Johann Michelson faced the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 in Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

. The 1st Imperial Guard Division of Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia
Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia
Constantine Pavlovich was a grand duke of Russia and the second son of Emperor Paul I. He was the Tsesarevich of Russia throughout the reign of his elder brother Alexander I, but had secretly renounced his claim to the throne in 1823...

 was stationed at Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, while four additional divisions formed a reserve army in the interior.
Napoleon pressed forward with Davout, Augereau, Marshal Jean Lannes
Jean Lannes
Jean Lannes, 1st Duc de Montebello, was a Marshal of France. He was one of Napoleon's most daring and talented generals. Napoleon once commented on Lannes: "I found him a pygmy and left him a giant"...

' V Corps, and Marshal Joachim Murat
Joachim Murat
Joachim-Napoléon Murat , Marshal of France and Grand Admiral or Admiral of France, 1st Prince Murat, was Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808 and then King of Naples from 1808 to 1815...

's Cavalry Reserve. As the French advanced, Bennigsen withdrew his troops from the Vistula. Murat occupied Warsaw on 28 November and Napoleon began turning the city into a center of operations. Buxhöwden's wing was still several marches to the rear and Bennigsen desired to join his colleague before facing the full strength of the French army. As the French crossed the Vistula in early December, Bennigsen had a change of heart and tried to retake his former position on the east bank. By now, Napoleon's second wave of corps was arriving and, after a few clashes, Bennigsen decided to pull back behind the Wkra after all.
After peaking during the whirlwind campaign west of the Oder, the morale of the French troops hit a new low point in Poland. The bad weather and approaching winter made Napoleon's troops very reluctant to continue the campaign. The Polish roads went from deep mud to frozen ruts as the weather grew colder. The emperor was forced to dispense a bonus in pay and extra shirts and shoes for his soldiers. Even so, French military discipline grew worse. At this time, Napoleon first used the term, les grognards (the grumblers), to describe his troops.

Napoleon determined to mount an offensive. Led by Murat's cavalry, Davout, Augereau, and Lannes would drive north from Warsaw. From Thorn (Toruń)
Toruń is an ancient city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River. Its population is more than 205,934 as of June 2009. Toruń is one of the oldest cities in Poland. The medieval old town of Toruń is the birthplace of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus....

, Ney, Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte's I Corps, and Bessières would push east to turn the Russian right flank and separate General-Leutnant Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq
Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq
Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq was a Prussian cavalry general best known for his command of the Prussian troops at the Battle of Eylau.-Biography:...

's Prussians from their allies. Marshal Nicolas Soult and the IV Corps would provide the connection between the two forces.

Two major cavalry formations were in existence. Murat's I Cavalry Corps included Beaumont's 3rd Dragoon Division, General of Division Étienne Marie Antoine Champion de Nansouty
Étienne Marie Antoine Champion de Nansouty
Count Étienne-Marie-Antoine-Champion de Nansouty was a French cavalry commander during the French Revolutionary Wars who rose to the rank of General of Division in 1803 and subsequently held important military commands during the Napoleonic Wars. Of noble Burgundian descent, he was a student at...

's 1st Cuirassier
Cuirassiers were mounted cavalry soldiers equipped with armour and firearms, first appearing in late 15th-century Europe. They were the successors of the medieval armoured knights...

 Division, General of Division Louis Klein
Louis Klein
Louis Klein served in the French military during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars as a general of cavalry....

's 1st Dragoon Division, General of Division Nicolas Léonard Beker
Nicolas Léonard Beker
Nicolas Léonard Beker or Nicolas Léonard Becker or Nicolas Léonard Bagert, born 18 January 1770 – died 18 November 1840, joined the French army as a dragoon before the French Revolutionary Wars and rose in rank to become a general officer. In 1800 he married the sister of Louis Desaix, who...

's 5th Dragoon Division, and General of Brigade Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud
Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud
Édouard Jean-Baptiste Milhaud was a French politician, Général de Division, and comte d'Empire.-French Revolutionary wars:...

's light cavalry brigade. Bessières' short-lived II Cavalry Corps comprised the 2nd Dragoon Division under General of Division Emmanuel Grouchy, 4th Dragoon Division led by General of Division Louis Michel Antoine Sahuc
Louis Michel Antoine Sahuc
Louis-Michel-Antoine Sahuc, born 7 January 1755 – died 24 October 1813, joined the French Royal Army and spent 20 years there before fighting in the French Revolutionary Wars. He rose to command a French cavalry regiment and later became a general officer...

, 2nd Cuirassier Division commanded by General of Division Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul
Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul
Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul was a French cavalry general of the Napoleonic wars. He came from an old noble family of France whose military tradition extended for several centuries....

, and the light cavalry division of General of Division Jacques Louis François Delaistre de Tilly
Jacques Louis François Delaistre de Tilly
Jacques-Louis-François Delaistre de Tilly became a general officer in the French army during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a cavalry division in a number of battles during the Napoleonic Wars...

. The II Cavalry Corps was established on 16 December and dissolved on 12 January 1807.


On the morning of 23 December, Napoleon personally observed the Russian position near the point where the Wkra emptied into the Bug-Narew. Near its mouth, the Wkra split into two branches, forming a low, swampy island. Davout's troops had occupied the island since the night of 20 December. Davout had three infantry divisions under Generals of Division Charles Antoine Morand
Charles Antoine Morand
Charles Antoine Louis Alexis Morand Comte de l'Empire, was a general of the French army army during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars...

, Louis Friant
Louis Friant
Louis Friant was born in the village of Morlancourt, 8 km south of Albert near the river Somme. The village would later suffer the misfortune of lying along the Western Front trench-lines of World War I....

, and Charles-Étienne Gudin de La Sablonnière
Charles-Étienne Gudin de La Sablonnière
Charles-Étienne Gudin de La Sablonnière, count, was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.-Early career and Revolutionary Wars:...

. Napoleon decided on a night attack and drafted very detailed orders. Because of the high quality of Davout's generals and officers, the emperor's orders were carefully carried out.

Opposite the French, Ostermann-Tolstoy held the east bank of the Wkra with nine battalions, two squadrons, one regiment of Cossacks, 14 guns, and six light guns. The Russian 2nd Division included three infantry brigades. Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Nikolai Mazovsky led the Pavlovski Grenadier and Rostov
Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, northeast of Moscow. Population:...

 Musketeer Regiments, Major General Alexander Yakovlevich Sukin commanded the Petersburg Grenadier and Jeletzsky Musketeer Regiments, and Major General Ivan Andreievich Lieven directed the 1st and 20th Jager
Jäger is the German word for "hunter", and also a common Jäger is the [[German language|German]] word for "[[hunter]]", and also a common Jäger is the [[German...

 Regiments. The complement of 48 guns was made up of two 12-pound foot batteries and two 6-pound horse batteries. Major General Petr Petrovich Pahlen led the cavalry brigade which included the Little Russia Cuirassier, Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

 Dragoon, and Soum
Izyum , is a city situated on the Donets River in the Kharkiv Oblast of eastern Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Iziumsky Raion , the city itself is also designated as a separate raion within the oblast, and is located approximately 75 miles southeast of the oblast capital,...

 Hussar Regiments, plus the Malakov and Sissoiev Cossacks.
Morand's division assembled on the island, Friant's troops were slightly farther north at the village of Pomiechowo
Pomiechowo is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Pomiechówek, within Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. It lies approximately south-west of Brody-Parcele , north-east of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, and north-west of Warsaw.-References:...

, and Gudin's soldiers held a bridgehead to the west near Modlin
Modlin Fortress
Modlin Fortress is one of the biggest 19th century fortresses in Poland. It is located the town of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki in district Modlin on the Narew river, some 50 kilometres north of Warsaw...

. At 7:00 PM Morand deployed his troops into three columns, each headed by one battalion. Supported by artillery firing grapeshot
In artillery, a grapeshot is a type of shot that is not a one solid element, but a mass of small metal balls or slugs packed tightly into a canvas bag. It was used both in land and naval warfare. When assembled, the balls resembled a cluster of grapes, hence the name...

, the French voltigeur (light) companies boated across the Wkra. The voltigeurs took covering positions on the east bank while engineers quickly built three bridges. Once the bridges were completed, Morand's troops swarmed across. The 17th Light Infantry Regiment and three squadrons of cavalry were among the first units across. General of Brigade Claude Petit led a task force from Gudin's division across the bridge nearest the Bug-Narew and moved up the Wkra's east bank. Morand's attack was a success and the Russians were quickly hustled out of their positions on the east bank.

The 17th Light rushed forward and drove the Russians out of Czarnowo. However, their opponents soon rallied and recaptured the village from the French. There was a lull in the action as Morand brought reinforcements up. He sent forward the 30th Line Infantry Regiment, one battalion along the banks of the Bug-Narew to attack on the right, a second battalion in a frontal attack, while the third battalion moved through a pine woods on the left. Ostermann-Tolstoy's troops also repelled this assault. Afraid of losing his heavy artillery, the Russian commander sent his to the rear. The French continued their attack and eventually seized Czarnowo, then deployed east of the village.

Meanwhile, with the help of six guns on the west bank of the Wkra, Petit's 400 men cleared the Russian redoubts opposite Pomiechowo. They were first charged by Russian cavalry, which they drove off. Davout sent some of Gudin's troops to assist and Petit hung onto the redoubts, despite being attacked by Russian infantry. At 4:00 AM, Ostermann-Tolstoy issued orders for retreat while keeping up his attacks on Petit. With the help of three late-arriving Russian battalions and four squadrons, the Russians withdrew in good order to the east.

Friant's troops were ordered forward at 4:00 AM. Arriving on the field soon after, they took over the pursuit from Morand's exhausted men. Together with Davout's light cavalry under General of Brigade Jacob François Marulaz
Jacob François Marulaz
Jacob François Marulaz or Marola, born 6 November 1769, died 10 June 1842, joined the Army of the Kingdom of France as a cavalry trooper and rose to become a field officer during the French Revolutionary Wars...

 and a dragoon regiment, Friant's soldiers hounded the Russian retreat. The French captured three enemy guns at Nasielsk
Nasielsk is a small town in Masovian Voivodeship, Poland. It is located on a major Warsaw-Gdańsk rail line and serves as a junction, with an additional connection to Sierpc....

 and drove their opponents into some nearby woods. The Russians fought back hard, keeping Davout's troops from advancing farther than Nasielsk that day.

Ostermann-Tolstoy admitted losing 500 men, but another report states that 1,392 Russians were killed and wounded, including three generals wounded. Davout reported losing 807 casualties. The French suffered particularly heavy losses in officers. Historian David G. Chandler
David G. Chandler
David G. Chandler was a British historian whose study focused on the Napoleonic era.As a young man he served briefly in the army, reaching the rank of captain, and in later life he taught at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Oxford University awarded him the D. Litt. in 1991...

 estimates losses as 1,400 on both sides. Digby Smith
Digby Smith
Digby Smith is a British military historian. The son of a British career soldier, he was born in Hampshire, England, but spent several years in India and Pakistan as a child and youth. As a "boy soldier," he entered training in the British Army at the age of 16...

 states that French casualties were 16 officers and 830 men, while the Russians suffered 41 officers and 1,360 men casualties and five guns captured. Smith's total includes 500 prisoners.

Bieżuń, Kołoząb, and Soldau actions

On 19 December Bessières advance guard, which consisted of Grouchy's dragoons, seized Bieżuń. Anxious to regain control of the town, L'Estocq sent two infantry regiments, a regiment of dragoons, two regiments of hussars, and horse artillery battery to recapture it. This force arrived at Bieżuń on the 23rd to find that Grouchy had been heavily reinforced by Bessières' II Cavalry Corps, plus infantry and artillery. Leading his division, Grouchy attacked the Prussians and drove them back toward Soldau. The 2nd Dragoon Division included the 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 22nd Dragoon Regiments plus three horse artillery pieces. Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Karl Anton Stephan de La Roche-Aymon led the Prussian units bearing the brunt of this action, which were half of the Towarcys Uhlan
Uhlans were Polish light cavalry armed with lances, sabres and pistols. The title was later used by lancer regiments in the Russian, Prussian, and Austrian armies....

 Regiment, the Schleiffen Grenadier Battalion, and a horse artillery battery. Trapped against a swampy forest, 500 of the Prussian infantry and five guns were captured. French losses were described as light, while the number of Prussians killed and wounded was not reported.

As the main action at Czarnowo faded away at dawn on 24 December, Augereau attempted to force a passage of the Wkra to the northwest. Kołoząb is about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) northeast of Plonsk
Płońsk is a town in north-central Poland with 22,500 inhabitants .It is situated in the Masovian Voivodeship ; previously, in was in Ciechanów Voivodeship...

 while Sochocin is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest of Kołoząb.Google Earth was used to measure distances and directions. The VII Corps commander had two infantry divisions and two cavalry brigades on hand. Augereau ordered Jacques Desjardin
Jacques Desjardin
Jacques Desjardin or Jacques Jardin or Jacques Desjardins; enlisted in the French royal army as a young man and eventually became a sergeant. During the first years of the French Revolutionary Wars he enjoyed very rapid promotion to the rank of general officer in the army of the First French...

's 1st Infantry Division and Milhaud's cavalry to seize the crossing at Kołoząb, while sending Étienne Heudelet de la Bierre's 2nd Division and General of Brigade Pierre Watier
Pierre Watier
Pierre Watier , was a French general of division.Born at Laon, Aisne, Watier is one of 660 personalities to have their name engraved under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the city where he died. His name appears on the 12th column and is spelt WATHIER....

's cavalry to take Sochocin.

The Russian commander, Barclay de Tolly, deployed three battalions and three squadrons at Sochocin, three battalions and two squadrons at Kołoząb, and three battalions to hold the wooded area between the two villages. The bridges at both places were burnt and the Kołoząb crossing was defended by 12 artillery pieces. Heudelet's attack failed when his soldiers were unable to rebuild the bridge under heavy fire. Frustrated at the failure of his first attempt, he ordered a second attack which resulted in further losses.

Desjardin's assault enjoyed better luck. He spread the 16th Light Infantry Regiment along the west bank opposite Kołoząb. Under the 16th's covering fire, the grenadiers of the 2nd Battalion of the 14th Line Infantry Regiment picked their way across the incompletely destroyed bridge to seize a foothold on the east bank. Though counterattacked by Russian infantry and hussars, the grenadiers held on until reinforced. The French forced back their opponents and captured six guns. Meanwhile, General of Brigade Pierre Belon Lapisse
Pierre Belon Lapisse
Pierre Belon Lapisse, Baron de Sainte-Hélène enlisted in the French Army during the reign of Louis XVI and fought in the American Revolutionary War. Appointed an officer at the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, he rose in rank to become a general officer by 1799...

 took a task force 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) downstream (south), surprised the bridge guard at Pruszkowo, and successfully crossed. After this success, Augereau marched Heudelet's division to the Kołoząb crossing. Milhaud aggressively pursued the Russians and captured the baggage train of the 2nd Division. Augereau reported losses of 66 killed and 452 wounded, almost equally divided between his two divisions. Russian losses are not reported.

Also on the 24th, Ney bumped into a Prussian rear guard
Rear guard
A rear guard or rearguard is that part of a military force that protects it from attack from the rear, either during an advance or withdrawal...

 under Oberstleutnant
Oberstleutnant is a German Army and Air Force rank equal to Lieutenant Colonel, above Major, and below Oberst.There are two paygrade associated to the rank of Oberstleutnant...

 Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow
Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow
Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow, Graf von Dennewitz was a Prussian general of the Napoleonic Wars.-Early life:...

 at Górzno
Górzno is a town in Brodnica County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland, with 1,369 inhabitants ....

 and pushed it back. Bülow joined La Roche-Aymon's detachment and the two continued falling back. Ney sent General of Division Jean Gabriel Marchand
Jean Gabriel Marchand
Jean Gabriel Marchand, 1st Count Marchand went from being an attorney to a company commander in the army of the First French Republic in 1791. He fought almost exclusively in Italy throughout the French Revolutionary Wars and served on the staffs of a number of generals...

's division ahead toward Soldau and Mława while holding the other division at Górzno. On 25 December, Marchand with two regiments attacked the single Prussian battalion at Soldau and drove it out of the town at 2:00 PM. The rest of his division, which had taken a roundabout path through Mława soon arrived. L'Estocq attacked Soldau at about 5:00 PM, but was unable to break into the town despite hand-to-hand fighting. He retreated north to Neidenberg (Nidzica)
Nidzica is a town in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland, between Olsztyn and Mława. It has a population of 14,798 . It is the capital of Nidzica County.-History:...

, breaking contact with the Russian army.

Marchand commanded the 27th, 39th, 69th, and 76th Line Infantry Regiments, eight battalions, and 12 guns in two foot artillery batteries. Out of a total of 6,000 troops, the French suffered 220 casualties, including General of Brigade François Pierre Felix Vonderweidt. L'Estocq's troops, which belonged to General-Major Christoph Friedrich Otto Diericke's brigade, included 3,000 men in four battalions and eight 12-pound guns. The units involved were the Rüchel Infantry Regiment # 2 and the Schöning Infantry Regiment # 11. Prussian casualties were not reported, though Ney claimed to have inflicted 800 casualties on his enemies and captured two guns and one color.

The French pressed eastward and encountered the Russians in two major actions on 26 December. At the Battle of Pułtusk, Bennigsen with 40,600 troops fought 26,000 French under Marshal Lannes. Golitsyn and 9,000 Russians fought off Augereau's 16,000 French at the Battle of Gołymin.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.