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Battle of Villersexel
Bataille de Villersexel.jpg
La bataille de Villersexel by Alphonse de Neuville (1834-1885).
Date January 9, 1871
Location Villersexel, France
Result French victory
Kingdom of Prussia Kingdom of Prussia France Second French Empire
Kingdom of Prussia August von Werder France Charles Denis Bourbaki
Casualties and losses
438 dead or wounded,
140 captured
654 dead or wounded,
700 captured

The Battle of Villersexel in the Franco-Prussian War opposed on January 9, 1871 elements of the French Armée de l'Est under General Bourbaki to August von Werder's Prussians. It resulted in a French victory left barren by the concurrent defeat at the Battle of the Lisaine.


In the turmoil and confusion following major reverses and capitulations at Sedan, Paris, and Metz, the remaining French armies faced major supply difficulties which restricted their movements. The Armée de l'Est was tasked in these conditions with reaching and succoring Belfort, where Colonel Denfert-Rochereau still held out, lifting the siege, and driving the Germans from the position.


Werder's Prussians caught up to Bourbaki in the evening of January 9 at Villersexel, where a French detachment had taken position the evening before. Prussian troops, filing through an unguarded pass, rapidly overwhelmed the positions surrounding the bridge over the Ognon. By 13:00h the château fell to the Prussians. However, the French lines at Esprels, Autrey-le-Vay, and, to the east, Villers-la-Ville, successfully checked the Prussian attack.

A French counterattack organized by Bourbaki pressed steadily forth in the afternoon and recaptured the château in confused street fighting. Fighting continued into the night until the retreat of the Prussians at 3:00am. Bourbaki continued his march January 13, while Werder fell back some 20 kilometers north along the Lisaine.


  • Colonel Rousset, Histoire générale de la Guerre franco-allemande, Vol. 2, édition Jules Tallandier, Paris, 1911.
  • Général Pierre Bertin, " 1870-1871 Désillusions dans l'Est" Cêtre Besançon Editions, 2007.



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