Today In History
What is known in English as the Battle of Leipzig — much more poetically, the Germans call it Völkerschlacht and the French Bataille des Nations — begins October 16, 1813 as the forces of the Sixth Coalition meet those of Napoleon near the city in Saxony.
It was to be the largest battle in Europe until World War I with some 600,000 belligerents in the field. On the Coalition side: Russians, Prussians, Austrians and Sweden. For Napoleon, not just French but Saxon, Polish and Italian troops.
Furthermore, each of the Coalition countries had, present in the field, their monarchs: Tsar Alexander I of Russia, Prussia’s Frederick William III and Emperor Francis I of Austria. This led to massive staffs and, one might call them “predictable” petty rivalries within the Coalition itself, already strained upon having lost the contributions of British and Portuguese forces (among others).
Nevertheless, all agreed that Napoleon’s German campaign had to be stopped and Leipzig was where they could make that happen.