The Battle of Leipzig or Battle of the Nations, on 16–19 October 1813, was fought by the coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden against the French army of Napoleon. Napoleon's army also contained Polish and Italian troops as well as Germans from the Confederation of the Rhine. The battle involved over 600,000 soldiers, making it the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I.
In total, the French had around 190,000 soldiers and the Allies almost 330,000 with both sides having significant artillery—in total there were over 2,500 pieces of ordnance on the field. The battle began on 16 October with an attack by 78,000 Allied troops from the south and 54,000 from the north, with Napoleon using the bulk of his army in the south. The allied offensives achieved little and were soon forced back, but Napoleon's outnumbered forces were unable to break the allied lines, resulting in a hard fought stalemate.
There were only two actions on 17 October: an attack by the Russian General Sacken on General Dabrowski's Polish Division at the village of Gohlis. In the end, the numbers and determination of the Russians prevailed and the Poles retired to Pfaffendorf. Blücher, who was made a field marshal the day before, ordered General Lanskoi's 2nd Hussar Division (Russian) to attack General Arrighi's III Cavalry corps. As they had the day before the Sixth Coalition's cavalry proved to be superior, driving the French away with great loss.
On 18 October, the Allies launched a huge assault from all sides. In over nine hours of fighting, in which both sides suffered heavy casualties, the French troops prevented a breakthrough but were slowly forced back towards Leipzig. The Sixth Coalition had Field Marshal Blücher (Prussian) and Prince Charles John of Sweden to the north, the Generals Barclay De Tolly, Bennigsen (both Russian) and Prince von Hessen-Homburg (Austrian) to the south, and Ignaz Gyulai (Austrian) to the west.
Defeated, Napoleon was compelled to return to France while the Allies hurried to keep their momentum, invading France early the next year. Napoleon was forced to abdicate, and was exiled to Elba that spring.