Following his successes with the Six Days Campaign, as part of the War of the Sixth Coalition between 10-14 February 1814 in thwarting the Allied move on Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte headed southwards towards the Seine River where the main Austrian Army was threatening Paris from the southeast. He was successful in stopping the advance on Paris at Mormant and this action caused the Prince of Schwarzenberg to retreat, leaving Frederick I of Württemberg to command a rearguard at the vital city of Montereau.
Etienne Maurince Gerard was the Marshal in charge of advancing on Montereau, establishing fire superiority over Württemberg’s defending troops. By early afternoon on February 18, artillery of the Imperial Guard had arrived and allowed Gérard to silence Württemberg’s batteries, subsequently bombarding the village. Württemberg ordered a retreat, but it was soon turned into a rout by a cavalry forces led by Claude Pierre Pajol leading a sweep into the village and Allied rear. Pajol’s cavalry charge also prevented the Allies from detonating demolition charges on two key bridges, allowing further pursuit.
The Allies suffered 6,000 casualties while the French suffered 2,500 casualties. Part of this historic battle site is currently being developed as a theme park celebrating the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Called Napoleonland, it is set for completion in 2017. Napoleon has gone down in history as one of the world’s greatest emperors, having conquered much of Europe due to his brilliant military strategies and political reforms.