The Silesian and northern armies having crossed the Elbe where Bertrand was defeated by York, near Wartemberg, in order to effect, if possible, a junction with the army of Bohemia in Napoleon's rear, the French Emperor quitted Dresden, and drew together all his forces at Leipzic, where the great 'battle of the nations' was fought on the 16th, 17th, and 18th October. Towards the end of this battle, the Saxons and Würtembergers went over to the allies. On the first day Napoleon engaged the main body of the allies, under Schwarzenberg, on the plain southwards of Leipzic, near Wachau, but without any decisive result; whilst at the same time Blücher defeated Marmont, on the northern part of the city, near Möckern. On the 17th there was no general engagement, Napoleon having communicated to the Emperor of Austria his willingness to purchase peace, by the relinquishment of his sovereignty over Warsaw, Illyria, and the Rhineland, and to withdraw his troops to the other side of the Rhine, as soon as an armistice was concluded. Meanwhile, however, a reinforcement of more than 100,000 men had joined the allied army, which now numbered 300,000, whilst the French had scarcely 130,000. Under these circumstances the battle was renewed on the 18th of October. After losing more than 30,000 men (including Prince Poniatowsky, a nephew of the last King of Poland, who was drowned in the Elster), the defeated army, which still numbered 100,000 men, commenced its retreat, and fought its way to the Rhine, where 70,000 men crossed the river at Mainz. During this retreat, the French were attacked on the Unstrut by York, and at Hanau by the Bavarians, under Wrede, and were incessantly harassed by bands of Cossacks. The immediate consequences of this victory were -1. The breaking up of the Rhenish confederacy. 2. The dissolution of the kingdom of Westphalia and the grand duchies of Frankfort and Berg. 3. The surrender of all the French garrisons as prisoners of war, with the exception of the garrison of Hamburg, which held out, under Davoust, until the 26th of May , 1814. 4. The re-conquest, by Billow, of Holland, where the people, who had been more forward than any other nation in their resistance to the continental system, proclaimed the Prince of Orange sovereign of the Netherlands. 5. Denmark, on account of its alliance with Napoleon, was invaded by the crown prince of Sweden, and compelled, after a short winter campaign, to cede Norway to Sweden in exchange for Swedish Pomerania and Rügen. 6. Illyria and the Tyrol were restored to Austria after a long and bloody struggle. In the south, Murat, King of Naples, the Emperor's brother-in-law, formed an alliance with the Austrians for the expulsion of the French from Italy, the Emperor of Austria undertaking to guarantee to him the undisturbed possession of his dominions. On the other hand, Switzerland, too feeble as yet to throw off the French yoke, concluded a treaty of neutrality with Napoleon, who deemed this the best mode of protecting his weakest frontier.
Wellington, being now prepared to enter France from Spain, and the allied army from the Rhine, Napoleon, who had rejected the offers of peace made to him by the allies, demanded a fresh conscription of 300,000 men, and prorogued the legislative assembly, which had ventured to present him an address describing, in strong language, the misery and exhaustion of France. At the commencement of the year 1814 the allies entered France, the grand army of Schwarzenberg traversing a portion of neutral Switzerland, and crossing the frontier at Basle, whilst the force under the command of Blücher crossed the Rhine, on new year's eve, at Mannheim, Caub, and Coblenz. In the hope of preventing a junction, Napoleon attacked Blücher near Brienne, and forced him to retreat; but, in spite of this check, the united armies attacked the French at la Rothiere, and drove them across the Aube. The two corps then separated, the grand army under Schwarzenberg proceeding along the banks of the Seine, and the army of Silisia along the Main, in the direction of Paris. No sooner was Napoleon aware of this separation, than he several times attacked the army of Silesia, and compelled it to retire northwards, and then defeated the grand army at Montereau. A congress was now held at Chatillon, but without any result except the temporary suspension of hostilities. In order to prevent Napoleon from following the grand army, Blücher continued his march on Paris, and defeated the French near Laon. Then Napoleon attacked the grand army at Arcis-sur-Aube, and being compelled to retire before a superior force, conceived the desperate design of leaving the road to Paris open, attacking the enemy in the rear from Lorraine, and drawing together all the garrisons of the eastern fortresses for a final struggle. With equal courage the allies continued their march towards the capital, and after defeating Marshals Marmont and Mortier, at la Fore Champenoise, and storming the heights of Montmartre, entered Paris, in consequence of a capitulation, on the 31st of March, with the Emperor Alexander, King Frederick William, and Prince Schwarzenberg, at their head. No sooner had the capital fallen, than the senate was persuaded by Talleyrand to declare the throne forfeited by Napoleon and his family, and the nation absolved from its oath of allegiance.