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By Chris Henry Osprey

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The Allies, on the other hand, had mustered no fewer than 500,000 men for front-line operations, enjoyed an enormous superiority in cavalry, and would soon muster another 350,000 reserve troops. On the diplomatic front important developments were under way. At Reichenbach on 24 June the Austrian Foreign Minister, Prince Clemens von Metternich (1773-1859), concluded a treaty with Alexander and Frederick William by which Austria assumed the role of armed mediator between Napoleon and those sovereigns.

Murat delayed him at Borna on 10 October, and two days later Ney blocked part of Bernadotte's forces from crossing the river Mulde near Dessau. Nevertheless, the various Allied forces were now sufficiently close to one another to cooperate in an attack against Leipzig. The future was looking bleak for the French, prompting one sergeant of dragoons to admit that the war was no longer to defend the Empire, but to keep the Allies away from France herself. 'I'll tell you one thing,' he wrote on 12 October: in a month we shall be on the banks of the Rhine.

On the following day his advance guard crossed the Marne, while at the same time Schwarzenberg, held up for six days by the new proposals, was nearing Bar-sur-Aube, only 25 miles (40 km) to the southwest. Mortier, together with part of the corps under General Gerard (1773-1852), offered a stiff rearguard defense there on 24 January, but were unable to halt the Allies and withdrew west toward Troyes. At the same time, on the distant northern front, Bülow and Graham were making steady progress against Macdonald's corps of 15,000 men, who were forced out of Liege and obliged to withdraw toward the Meuse.

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