1757-05-06 - Battle of Prague
Prelude to the Battle
Since May 1, the Austrians had been entrenching themselves on the Ziskaberg, a steep hill immediately to the east of Prague. On the Ziskaberg, the tents and batteries of the Austrians stretched for 6 km from near the crown of the hill eastward to the villages of Hlaupetin and Kyge (present-day Kyje), and their lakes. The village of Maleschitz (present-day Malesice) was in the rear of the right wing.
On May 5, Charles of Lorraine moved his headquarters from Nusle to Maleschitz and encamped his army in two lines between Maleschitz and Wolschan behind the Roketnitzer Stream, his left anchored on Prague, his right between Sterbohol and Hostawitz, his extreme right wing deployed en potence in the direction of Sterbohol. His army consisted of 61 bns, 62 grenadier coys, 132 sqns for a total of 48,500 foot and 12,600 horse and hussars; altogether 61,000 men. Hadik with hussars and Lobkowitz with 700 horse, posted on the heights of Gbell and Prosek, secured the Austrian camp. At 6:00 p.m., Charles ordered the infantry to be ready by daybreak, the cavalry saddled, the baggage ready for departure. He also expected that at least part of Serbelloni's Corps would arrive on the following day. General-adjutant von Schultz was sent to Böhmisch-Brod to speed up the march of the first detachment of Serbelloni's army under Puebla. With Frederick at Czimitz and Schwerin at Brandeis, Charles did not expect a battle before May 7.
The battlefield lay mainly to the east of Prague on the gently undulating plateau between the Roketnitzer Stream and the Boticz Stream, the latter flowing through Hostiwarz, Zabehlitz, Michle and Nusle into the Moldau. There were no significant obstacles on this plateau and only a few minor hillocks at Sterbohol, Unter-Poczernitz (present-day Dolni Pocernice) and Hostawitz (present-day Hostavice). To the south near the Moldau, the plateau sloped more sharply towards the marshy valley of the Boticz Stream. The rather steep western slopes of the plateau were covered with gardens and vineyards. Above Bechowitz, the valley floor of the Roketnitzer Stream, which flowed into the Moldau at Lieben, was mostly marshy. Above Unter-Poczernitz and near Hostawitz, Kej and Hlaupetin, there were several ponds. At Hostawitz, a small stream flowed from the south, feeding ponds between Unter-Micholup and Sterbohol. The stream, after a few turns, ended in a wet grassy hollow. This hollow was traversed by a 300 m. long dam forming part of the road between Unter-Poczernitz and Sterbohol. About 1 km to the northeast of Sterbohol, there was a sinkhole in this hollow, draining a number of ponds controlled by narrow dams. These ponds were empty at the time, their muddy bottoms covered with grass. Above Wysoczan, the valley of the Roketnitzer widened into a meadow. Between Kej and Hlaupetin, the valley had steeper slopes. The stream flowed north-westwards from Unter-Poczernitz to Kej then turned sharply south-westwards, narrowing to 80 m. and flowing, past Hrdlorzez and Hlaupetin, on the north-western slopes of a series of rocky knolls. The stream then turned westwards before flowing into the Moldau. There was a gorge near Hrdlorzez in the Taborberg. The road to Kolin ran more to the south from Maleschitz up to Wolschan at the foot of the Kreuzberg. To the north of the road ran a ridge culminating at the Schanzenberg (284 m.). This ridge formed the southern slope of the plateau near Wysoczan and Lieben, and ended to the east of Prague on the Ziskaberg.
Ziskaberg is a steep, massive green hill. It rises steeply about 170 meters. The Moldau River, turning right just north of Prague, touches the northwest corner of the Ziskaberg and then follows the northern slope of the hill, which is very steep in this area. The ascent of Ziskaberg, by roads, was steep and tedious. However, at its summit it spread out into a waving upland level, bare of hedges, all of it ploughable, and studded with hamlets and farmsteads. From there, a kind of plain sloped with extreme gentleness, about 8 km eastward and as far southward. The eastern slope of the Ziskaberg was very gentle and terrain was very swampy in parts.
Description of Events
At 1:00 a.m. on Friday May 6, Field-Marshal Schwerin's Army marched in three columns over the heights of Chaber in the general direction of Prosek
- first column (5 sqns, 26 bns) marching to the right of the highway leading to Prague, leaving Letnjian to its right and Gbell to its left
- second column (2 bns, the field artillery and the wagons covered by 2 bns and 100 hussars) advanced to the highway leading to Prague
- third column (10 hussar sqns, 12 bns, 35 horse sqns) followed the second column up to Winarz; from this place the column marched to the south of Gbell while the baggage went by Gbell
- left flank covered by 10 hussar sqns
At 5:00 a.m., Frederick ordered his corps to march in two columns (right column: 10 hussar sqns, the Foot Jägers, 13 bns and 23 horse sqns; left column: 7 bns, 5 horse sqns) in the general direction of Prosek. Colonel von Finck had previously reconnoitred the area.
In the Austrian camp, the march of a strong Prussian force from Brandeis was reported. Soon afterwards, troops posted at Prosek reported two more Prussian columns heading northwards and northwestwards. It then became clear that the Prussians had marched during the night and that a battle would take place the same day.
Schwerin halted the heads of his columns in front of Prosek. During this halt, Winterfeldt (25 sqns, 6 bns) arrived by Dablitz. Soon afterwards, Frederick’s columns arrived.
At 6:00 a.m.
- The Austrian army deployed in order of battle. Charles supervised the deployment of the left wing and Field-Marshal Browne that of the right wing. Infantry was redeployed in 3 ranks instead of the usual 4. Soldiers then began, division by division, to cook their breakfast.
- Schwerin made his junction with Frederick near the village of Prosek on the right bank of the Moldau, as planned. The Austrians did not try to impede their junction.
Shortly after, the Austrian troops were ordered to take tents down. The order was followed by the left wing but Browne on the right wing preferred to leave tents and baggage as they were to save time and preserve order. Among the Austrian cavalry regiments many of the best soldiers were out foraging. Some managed to join their regiment in time for the battle, while others did not. The Austrian field artillery was still on the march.
The Austrian army was initially deployed as follows:
- first line
- right wing, inclining southward
- Marquis de Spada Cavalry Division (28 sqns)
- to the east of the Gorge of Hrdlorzez on the Taborberg
- Margrave von Baden Durlach Division (10 bns)
- from the north-west of Hrdlorzez to the Ziskaberg (from right to left)
- Count d'Arberg Division (7 bns)
- Count Forgách Division (6 bns)
- Baron Sprecher Division (4 bns)
- left wing of the first line deployed behind the Ziskaberg on dominant heights between Kej and Hlaupetin
- Count O'Donell Division (21 sqns)
- Grenzer light troops (4 bns) occupying the half-finished entrenched outposts
- right wing, inclining southward
- second line
- right wing
- Count Althann Cavalry Division (21 sqns)
- to the east of the Gorge of Hrdlorzez on the Taborberg (some 300 paces behind the first line)
- Duke von Arenberg Division (10 bns)
- from the north-west of Hrdlorzez to the Ziskaberg on the ridges to the south of the road to Kolin (from right to left)
- Count Wied Division (5 bns)
- Marquis de Clerici Division (9 bns)
- left wing
- Prince Hohenzollern Cavalry Division (21 sqns)
- right wing
- Reserve between Nusle and the Direktorhofe
As soon as the junction of his army had been effected, Frederick rode in company of Schwerin, Wintefeldt and a few adjutants to a ridge to the east of Prosek from where he could see the entire Austrian positions. While his columns rested, Frederick spent some time inspecting these positions with his spyglass and finally decided to engage battle on the same day, considering that any delay would just allow Charles' army to be reinforced from Kolin.
The overall military situation as well as the strong positions of the Austrians left only the possibility to attack the Austrian right wing. It then became necessary to have a closer look at the terrain between Unter-Poczernitz and Sterbohol. Frederick was feeling nauseous so he delegated this reconnaissance to Schwerin and Winterfeldt. They rode as far as Kyge to reconnoitre the ground and came back with the news that, although the march across the meadows near Unter-Poczernitz and between Hostawitz and Sterbohol would be difficult, it remained feasible. Furthermore, they were of the opinion that an attack on the Austrian right flank would not be hindered by any major obstacle. Schwerin would have preferred to rest his troops for a day. After all, his men had been on foot since midnight and on forced marches for days past. Frederick, fearing Daun's arrival with an estimated 30,000 men, objected to any postponement. After some arguments, Schwerin rallied quite reluctantly to Frederick's plan. Schwerin and Winterfeldt finally identified Sterbohol as the point of attack of the infantry upon the Austrian redoubts while the cavalry would sweep still farther southward and take them in rear. The ground was judged tolerable even for cavalry but it is clear whether Schwerin and Winterfeldt had noticed the intermediate lacing of ponds and the fishponds with their sluices opened.
Frederick had already ordered his army to deploy in two lines with a reserve. His own corps formed the right wing while Schwerin's Army formed the stronger left wing. However to do so, Schwerin had to reverse the tactical order of his column, a manoeuvre which took some time. Frederick then ordered the army to march leftwards by line towards Unter-Poczernitz. The first line consisted of 40 bns and 43 sqns in addition to the 5 grenadier bns forming the two flank guards; the second line counted 21 bns and 25 sqns; the Reserve had 45 sqns. From the 82 field pieces, 20 were deployed on the left wing to support the initial attack. Baggage was assembled at Gbell where they formed a laager. II./Alt Württemberg Fusiliers and I./Manstein, the Foot Jägers and Seydlitz Hussars were left behind to protect this laager.
The marshy flats and the narrow roads leading to Unter-Poczernitz delayed the advance of the Prussian columns. The first line of the left wing cavalry went through the village while the second line passed the stream abutting the ponds to the east of Unter-Poczernitz; the Reserve cavalry took the road by Bechowitz. The infantry of the first line marched with difficulty through the muddy meadow below Unter-Poczernitz. At some places, soldiers had to advance waist deep in mud; with artillery blocking the road through the village, the infantry of the second line had to cross the flats to the west of the ponds.
As it resumed its march towards Sterbohol, the infantry still had to find its way between the numerous ponds and to cross several small dams. During this advance, battalions became disorganised with their battalion guns lagging behind. Furthermore, field artillery was still negotiating its way through Unter-Poczernitz. Therefore, the foremost battalions had no artillery support. The Prussians were lucky that no Austrian troops had been posted in the immediate vicinity, for they could easily have taken advantage of the situation.
From their positions on the high grounds, the Austrian commanders had a first glimpse of the Prussian flank march when their columns appeared to the south of Satalitz. However, till the Prussians turned south towards Unter-Poczernitz and their cavalry headed towards Sterbohol, the Austrian commanders thought that the Prussians were just manoeuvring away from their positions.
By 9:00 a.m.,
- About 65,000 Austrians were deployed in three lines, facing north, on the heights of the Ziskaberg on a front of more than 6 km. Their position was protected by the steep slopes of the Ziskaberg and by the Moldau. In the intervals between the first and second lines, their tents stood scattered, in groups wide apart. Their right wing ended in strong batteries and was anchored in intricate marshes, knolls, and ponds, between Hlaupetin and Kyge. Their extreme left wing looked over the bend of the Moldau near Prague. Furthermore, several redoubts and batteries, containing 61 heavy guns, strengthened the front line and all rising grounds: Homoly Berg, Tabor Berg, etc. The infantry was supported by 112 3-pdr battalion guns. The villages and farmsteads were occupied. The cavalry was deployed on both wings. The left wing, behind the Moldau chasm, could not attack nor be attacked while the cavalry on the right wing could. Light cavalry in great numbers hung scattered on all outskirts. Prince Charles commanded the left wing and Browne the right.
- Prussian troops began arriving in the Chwala-Poczernitz area and descended steadily upon Sterbohol.
Field-Marshal Browne who was posted on the right wing finally realized that the Prussians were trying to turn the Austrian right flank to the south of Sterbohol. Count Lucchesi moved Spada and Althan cavalry divisions to a new position with their right wing anchored on the ponds to the north of Unter Mecholup and their left wing extending behind Sterbohol. Meanwhile on the Austrian left wing, Baden-Durlach infantry division in the first line and Arenberg infantry division in the second readjusted their positions facing east.
When Charles was informed that his right flank was threatened, he ordered Wied and Clerici infantry divisions, initially deployed in his second line, to reinforce his right wing. Meanwhile, the first line of the Austrian left wing between Hrdlozez and the Ziskaberg remained in its former positions. Furthermore, 22 grenadier coys under the command of Colonel Guasco, initially deployed in second line, were sent to the Homoleberg to close the gap between the cavalry redeployed on the right flank and the new positions of Baden-Durlach and Arenberg infantry divisions. Finally, the Austrian artillery reserve hurriedly established a battery on the Homoleberg to support the newly redeployed right wing; another battery was established in front of the Baden-Durlach infantry division.
The Austrian right wing cavalry was soon reinforced with the reserve cavalry and with regiments of the second line of the left wing led by GdC Count Stampach. Altogether, the cavalry right wing now counted 105 sqns deployed in three lines. FML Count Hadik with his two hussar rgts (Baranyay and Hadik) then closed the gap between the pond of Unter Mecholup and the cavalry right wing.
The only cavalry units remaining on the Ziskaberg after this reorganisation of the Austrian positions were the 3 regiments of the first line of the cavalry left wing.
By 10:00 a.m., the re-arrangement of the Austrian positions was mostly completed, even though the march of the infantry of the former second line of the left wing had been seriously delayed by the Gorge near Hrdlozez.
At about this time, the cuirassiers of the first line of the Prussian cavalry left wing had bypassed Sterbohol and deployed south of the village. However, the dragoons forming the second line of this wing had not yet completed the passage of the flats lying to the east of Unter-Poczernitz. Furthermore, the field artillery had not yet managed to pass through the village of Unter-Poczernitz and the head of the column of the second line of the infantry left wing was entering on the dam on which the road from Unter-Poczernitz to Sterbohol crossed the flats. Finally, the first line of the infantry left wing was about to negotiate the low grounds around the ponds to the northeast of Sterbohol and to deploy in line.
Schwerin, at the head of the first line of the infantry left wing, did not want to leave enough time for the Austrians to form their new line. Notwithstanding the difficult terrain, he urged his troops to advance. Soldiers were out of breath when they finally reached their assigned positions and began to form line. The middle of this first line had not yet completed its formation change when the Austrian battery on the Homoleberg opened on them. Winterfeldt first considered halting at the edge of the valley to wait for the second line but he quickly resolved to launch an attack at the head of 6 bns (Lestwitz, Kurssell, Fouqué) of the first line supported by the 2 grenadier bns of his flank guard, advancing from Sterbohol.
First Prussian Cavalry Charge
As Frederick, who had led the advance of the right wing, arrived at Sterbohol, he expressed to Schwerin his concerns on this premature and isolated attack. Schwerin tried to reassure Frederick and then rode to the cavalry of the left wing to order it to attack the Austrian cavalry.
Until then Lieutenant-General Prince von Schönaich at the head of the cavalry of the left wing had crossed the dam near Sterbohol and formed in the plain with its left to the fishpond of Unter Michelup. Lucchesi, the commander of the Austrian right wing cavalry, had been vainly pressed on several occasions by his subordinates to attack the isolated Prussian cuirassiers as they were still advancing in column of march along the dams leading to Sterbohol.
Schönaich had rightly hesitated to charge the vastly superior Austrian cavalry with his isolated 20 cuirassier sqns. However, when he received Schwerin's order, he immediately advanced. Lucchesi's regiments waited motionless for the attack of the Prussians, firing a salvo at close range and then counter-charging a short distance.
The Prussian cuirassiers broke the first line of the Austrian cavalry but soon their charge lost momentum when confronted with the mass of Austrian cavalry deployed behind this first line. Outflanked on the right and attacked by Hadik hussars on their left flank and rear, the Prussian cuirassiers had to retreat.
Second Prussian Cavalry Charge
As soon as they had rallied, Schönaich's cuirassiers renewed their attack, supported this time by the 20 dragoon sqns of the second line and by Puttkamer Hussars and Wartenberg Hussars sent by Frederick from his reserve. The hussars managed to advance between Unter Mecholup and the large pond immediately to its northwest, thus outflanking Hadik's hussars. Hadik turned his sqns and charged the Prussian hussars. However, Lieutenant-Colonel Warnery outflanked him on his right and drove his hussars back on the Austrian cavalry.
Meanwhile, the Austrian cavalry had engaged in a confused melee with the Prussian cuirassiers and dragoons. Once more the superior number of their opponents threw the Prussians back. Warnery covered the retreat of Schönaich's cavalry who rallied to the south of Sterbohol.
The Appel then sounded for the Austrian right wing cavalry where most squadrons were no longer capable of fighting.
Prussian Infantry Attack North of Sterbohol
During this time, around 1:00 p.m., the attack of the Prussian infantry to the north of Sterbohol had failed too. The 14 bns forming the left wing and the flank had advanced, muskets shouldered, on the Austrian positions despite the fatigue of the night march and the swampy difficult terrain they had to move across. They came under the fire of the Austrian batteries without proper support of their own artillery. When the Austrian regimental artillery added its firepower, opening with grapeshot on the Prussian lines, the Prussian bns could not hold their formation. Generals von Fouqué and von Kurssell and several staff officers were already out of action. The grenadiers of the left wing began to waver, became disordered and broke. Regiments Schwerin, Fouqué and Kurssell left half of their men on the field. They clustered around their colours.
The Austrians had not yet completed their formation changes. As the Prussians approached within 300 paces, the Austrian line started to waver. At this moment, Winterfeldt was hit by a musket ball in the throat and fell from his horse. Schwerin Infantry fell back, sweeping Fouqué, Kurssell and Lestwitz infantry along with them.
Schwerin, after personally giving orders to attack to the cavalry of his left wing, was riding back to his infantry wing. He had reached the dam to the northeast of Sterbohol from where he could observe the evolution of Winterfeldt's attack. When he saw his regiment retiring, he rode forward to assume personal command. His adjutant, H. von Platen, fell at his side. Schwerin managed to rally his regiment. He then grabbed a colour of his second battalion and took the head of the formation. He was almost immediately killed by grapeshot and the entire first line of infantry broke and fled towards Dubecz (present-day Dubec) behind Sterbohol. Colonel von Wobersnow vainly tried to rally the routing regiments. He then rode to Zieten, who was arriving with 3 rgts of the reserve, and asked him to halt and to help him to rally the first line. They finally managed to do so and the remnants of the first line reformed along the stream flowing into the pond of Unter Mecholup.
The Austrians now firmly held Sterbohol, backed by the batteries on Homoly Berg.
During the unsuccessful attacks by the first line of the infantry left wing, Frederick had been busy speeding up the movement of the second line to allow his field artillery to take position. By the time that Schwerin's battalions began to waver, a battery of heavy artillery had been planted to the south of Hostawitz. A second battery had also been established to the northeast of Sterbohol. Furthermore, 12 bns of the second line of the infantry left wing had started to advance through the flats to the north of the defeated first line. Lestwitz Infantry, who was the first regiment of the first line to rally, joined this second line, taking position at its right end.
On the Austrian side, after the success of the cavalry and infantry of the right wing, Browne was preparing to launch a general counter-attack. As he was about to issue orders, a cannonball hit his leg. He had to be carried from the field. Without unified command, the Austrian counter-attack took the form of individual initiatives: the grenadiers as well as Harrach Infantry and Los Rios Infantry launched isolated attacks.
Prussian Attacks in the Centre
The Austrian divisions of Baden-Durlach and Arenberg deployed further left now had to face another threat. Indeed, 8 bns (Hautcharmoy, Schultze, Tresckow and Meyerinck) of the Prussian right wing, led by generals Hautcharmoy and Meyerinck, were advancing against their positions. The newly established battery to the south of Hostawitz supported the Prussian bns during their advance. Furthermore, from their position, they could not see their comrades of the first line of the infantry left wing routing.
During this time, the Duke of Bevern was preparing the 10 bns (Kleist, Amstell, Forcade, Darmstadt, Prinz von Preussen) of the second line of the infantry right wing to attack, deploying them to the south of Hostawitz. The nature of the terrain did not allow him to deploy in a single line.
For this reason, I./Darmstadt Infantry, under Colonel von Hertzberg, and Prinz von Preussen Infantry had to deploy more to the south, in front of the second line of the Prussian left wing, advancing against the left flank of the Austrian right wing. This flank attack combined with the steady fire of the Prussian batteries put a halt to the unsynchronized counter-offensive of the Austrian right wing, which moved backwards to the Homoleberg.
The Prussian Hautcharmoy battalions then advanced like a wedge between the Austrian infantry of the right wing and the Baden-Durlach and Arenberg divisions.
The Austrian battery planted on the Homoleberg having lost the support of its cavalry on its right flank had to retire from the height.
Around 11:00 a.m., in the centre of the Prussian lines, Bevern's 7 bns had taken position slightly to the right and behind the 8 bns led by Hautcharmoy and Tresckow while 3 bns (Prinz von Preussen and I./Darmstadt) and the following 14 bns (Lestwitz, Jung-Braunschweig, I./Alt-Württemberg, Kalckreuth, II./Prinz Heinrich, Markgraf Heinrich, Kreytzen, Alt-Billerbeck Grenadiers and Ingersleben Grenadiers) had taken position on the left behind Hautcharmoy. They were all advancing in the general direction of Neu-Straschnitz. Furthermore, Frederick had put 8 bns of both lines at the disposal of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick.
The Prussian batteries had seriously weakened the Austrian infantry deployed to the southwest of Kej; thus easing the advance of the brigades led by Bevern, Tresckow and Hautcharmoy. Frederick immediately realized that these brigades would not need any additional support to succeed in their attack. He then entrusted Kannacher and Markgraf Karl infantry rgts, posted at Unter-Poczernitz, to Ferdinand of Brunswick for an attack further north on Kej. Ferdinand had already sent Winterfeldt and Anhalt infantry rgts against Kej. The Austrian Baden-Durlach and Arenberg divisions with the support of some regiments of the Reserve made a courageous resistance but they were soon outflanked.
Third Prussian Cavalry Charge
Indeed, after driving back the second charge of the Prussian cavalry left wing, GdC Count Stampach was convinced that his cavalry had won the day for the Austrians. Busy restoring order in his regiments, he neglected to secure his right flank.
Meanwhile, after rallying the battalions of the first line of the Prussian infantry left wing, Zieten had resumed his march in the direction of Unter Michelup. He assembled a force of 45 sqns (his own 25 sqns consisting of Zieten Hussars (10 sqns), Werner Hussars (10 sqns), Stechow Dragoons (5 sqns) reinforced with Wartenberg Hussars (10 sqns) and Puttkamer Hussars (10 sqns)) to the south of the pond and attacked the unguarded right flank of Stampach's cavalry.
Still disorganised, Stampach's cavalry was unable to oppose any serious resistance to this third attack. Only the Erzherzog Joseph Dragoons remained steady and wheeled to face the threat coming from the right flank. The Austrian right wing cavalry broke and routed. The greater part fled by Pratsch and Zabehlitz and crossed the Sazawa while another part fled northwestwards to the Direktorhofe, disorganising the infantry reserve posted there.
After considerable time, Lucchesi finally managed to rally some 3,000 horse to the south-east of Prague.
While continuing their retreat, the Austrian converged grenadiers along with Harrach Infantry and Los Rios Infantry saw the Prussian cavalry before them in the direction of Prague. Harassed by Prussian hussars, the remnants of these brave regiments passed the Boticzbach at Zabehlitz supported by FML Count O'Donell at the head of Porporati Dragoons and Modena Dragoons along with some cuirassiers. O'Donell then marched to Beneschau where he made a junction with GdC Baron Bretlach at the head of 12 cuirassier sqns.
Bretlach then took command of the troops who had retreated in this direction and took position on the height to the south of Zabehlitz and Michle to cover the retreat of the Austrian train.
The Prussian left wing cavalry pursued the fleeing Austrian cavalry in two directions: towards Prague and towards Sazawa. In this pursuit, the various Prussian units became quite isolated. They were quite disorganised when they reached the camp of the Austrian Reserve at Nusle, which had attracted many fleeing Austrian soldiers. The Prussian commanders tried to reorganise their units but they were too exhausted to launch a new attack. Indeed, before launching three consecutive attacks during the battle, the cavalry of the Prussian left wing had undertaken a night march and its horses had now been saddled for more than 12 hours. Only some 350 men from various Prussian cavalry regiments had assembled under Colonel von Lentulus and harassed the right flank of the Austrian infantry.
Charles of Lorraine accompanied his fleeing cavalry. During the rout, he fainted twice. He was first brought to Nusle and then to Wischehrad where he was bled. When he had recovered, he could no longer exert any influence on the battle. In the hours of greatest danger, with Lorraine and Browne out of action, the Austrian army was thus left without its leaders.
Prussian Final Attacks
During the heavy fighting around Sterbohol and Unter Michelup, the Austrians were manoeuvring troops on their right wing to form an angle in fear of being attacked in flank and rear. These manoeuvres opened a wide gap of more than 400 paces to the north of the Austrian line in the Kyge-Hlaupetin quarter where the Austrian right wing joined the main battle line. General Mannstein immediately seized this opportunity and rushed into this gap with Grenadier Battalion 7/30 Kanitz, Grenadier Battalion 13/26 Finck and Grenadier Battalion 1/23 Wedell. Itzenplitz Infantry and Manteuffel Infantry and a body of cavalry followed in close support. Mannstein was assisted by Prince Heinrich and Ferdinand of Brunswick.
To the north of Kej, Manstein, at the head of 4 grenadier bns (Wrede, Wedel, Finck and Kanitz), stormed entrenchments defended by Grenzer Light Troops and resumed his advance towards the Taborberg.
Heinrich shone especially. While coming upon one of those mud pits with a battery beyond it, his men were spreading file-wise, to cross it on the dams. Prince Heinrich plunged through the mud pits right upon the battery and victoriously took possession of it. Mannstein, Heinrich and Ferdinand then took the Austrian right wing in flank with their own batteries.
Meanwhile, fresh battalions from Clerici Division and from the Reserve had reinforced the Austrians on the Taborberg. Königsegg immediately extended his right wing between Maleschitz and Neu-Straschnitz under the protection of a battery established to the northwest of Maleschitz. FML Marquis Clerici was ordered by FZM Baron Kheul to hold the gorge of Hrdlorzez, and to support Wied Division posted on the southern slope of the Taborberg. However, after a fierce resistance, the Austrians were finally driven back on Maleschitz and the gorge of Hrdlorzez.
By 1:30 p.m., now threatened on both flanks, the Austrian infantry attacking the Sterbohol retired in order, defending one hill after another. The Prussians had finally taken Sterbohol. The whole Austrian right wing which had been put en potence had become a ruin. It hurled itself rapidly behind what redoubts and strong points it had in those parts and then fled pell-mell into Prague, hastily closing the doors behind it.
Once this infantry corps routed, the Prussians were able to attack the Austrian infantry divisions Arberg, Forgách and Sprecher as well as three cavalry rgts, which formed the first line of the left wing, still standing near the Ziskaberg between Maleschitz and Hrdlorzez (unidentified location). As fighting drew closer, the cavalry rgts proceeded towards the Direktorhof: the two cuirassier rgts forming the first line and the Liechtenstein Dragoons, the second. They attacked to give enough time to the infantry to retire from Maleschitz. Their charge was repulsed with a loss of 17 officers and 400 men. The three still uncommitted infantry divisions of the left wing seized this opportunity to take up a position east of Wolschan. Their left was now leaning against Ziskaberg, which was occupied by Grenzer light troops.
To the southwest of Maleschitz, Königsegg was still holding his ground. Bevern's right wing (Forcade, Amstell and Kleist rgts) advanced on Königsegg's postions, suffering from grapeshot fire from the nearby Austrian battery. Bevern concentrated the attack of his forces on Maleschitz and soon received the help of Prince Heinrich at the head of (Itzenplitz and Manteuffel rgts). Königsegg's corps broke and fled. Its retreat was covered by a few cavalry rgts.
During this time, Frederick had rushed to Branik hoping to cut off retreat of the Austrian army by interdicting the crossing of the Moldau at this place. The king prevented another Austrian attempt to cross the Moldau at Wischerad (present-day Visehrad). However, about 16,000 Austrians fled further south towards Sazawa where they crossed the Moldau to eventually unite with Daun.
By 3:00 p.m., the Austrian army was retreating into Prague. About 40,000 Austrians got crammed into the city. Prince Charles, now recovered, attempted twice to get out of Prague and up the Moldau but the Prussians positioned on the Nussel-Branik line prevented them from escaping. They tried by another gate on the other side of the Moldau but General Keith blocked the way.
At Branik, the victorious king had one great disappointment: Prince Moritz of Dessau was late. He should have been there long hours ago with Keith's right wing (a fresh 15,000 men) to fall upon the enemy's rear. Moritz's pontoon bridge would not reach across when he tried it. It was the worst mistake Prince Moritz ever made.
In this battle, the Prussians lost 401 officers and 14,000 men. Field-Marshal Count Schwerin and Major-General von Amstell had been killed; and Lieutenant-General Fouqué, Lieutenant-General von Hautcharmoy, Lieutenant-General Winterfeldt, Major-General von Schöning, Major-General von Plettenberg, Major-General von Blanckensee and Major-General von Kurssell had been wounded.
The Austrians lost 412 officers and 12,912 men (including 40 officers and 4,235 men taken prisoners). Field Marshal Browne had been mortally wounded, FML Marquis Clerici severely wounded and Major-General Count Peroni killed.
The Prussians captured 33 guns, a large number of colours, 11 standards and 40 pontoons.
Even though the Prussians remained master of the battlefield, they had failed to annihilate the Austrian army which had been allowed to take refuge in Prague. Frederick had now no choice but to lay siege to Prague, hoping to capture it before the arrival of Daun with his relief army.
Order of Battle
Austrian Order of Battle
Chief of Artillery: Baron von Feuerstein
Summary: 76,500 men in 56 regular bns, 5 grenzer bns, 62 grenadier coys, 132 sqns, with 4 x 1-pdr, 112 x 3-pdrs battalion guns and 61 heavy guns.
|First Line||Second Line|
|N.B.: Grenadier coys of this line were grouped into a single brigade|
|Right Wing of Cavalry under Count Lucchesi assisted by Marquis de Spada||Right Wing under Baron Bretlach assisted by Count Althann|
|Right Wing of Infantry under Count Königsegg assisted by Margrave von Baden-Durlach||Right Wing of Infantry under Count Königsegg assisted by Duke von Arenberg|
|Left Wing of Infantry under Baron Kheul
||Left Wing of Infantry under baron Kheul
|Left Wing of Cavalry under Prince Esterhazy assisted by Count O’Donell||Left Wing of Cavalry under Count Stampach assisted by Prince Hohenzollern|
- Cavalry Reserve under Count Hadik
- Count Szechenyi's Brigade
- Argenteau's Brigade
- Baron Baboczay's Brigade
- Infantry Reserve under Count Macquire assisted by Baron Wolfersdorf
- Infantry Reserve under Count Petazzy assisted by Count Drašković
Garrison of Prague
- Andlau (1 bn)
- Alt-Wolfenbüttel (1 bn)
- Nikolaus Esterházy (1 bn)
- Mercy-Argenteau (1 bn)
- Pallavicini (1 bn)
- Jung-Wolfenbüttel (1 bn)
Prussian Order of Battle
Total force (excluding Keith's corps): 64,000 men in 66 bns, 113 sqns with 82 heavy guns and 128 battalion guns.
|First Line||Second Line|
|Right Wing under von Penavaire assisted by Baron Schönaich||Right Wing under von Meinicke
|Right Flank under von Manstein|
|Left Flank under von Amstell|
|Left Wing under Prince Schönaich||Left Wing|
- von Normann's Brigade
- Stechow Dragoons (5 sqns)
- von Stechow's Brigade
Keith's corps on the left bank of the Moldau near the Weissenberg
- Grenadier Garde Battalion 6 Retzow (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion 5/20 Jung-Billerbeck (1 bn)
- Grenadier battalion 15/18 Bülow (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion 24/34 Grumbkow (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion 19/25 Ramin (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion 21/27 Diringshofen (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion 3/6 Kleist (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion 35/36 Schenkendorff (1 bn)
- III./Garde (1 bn)
- Braunschweig-Bevern (2 bns)
- Asseburg (2 bns)
- Prinz Moritz von Anhalt (2 bns)
- Hülsen (2 bns)
- Alt-Braunschweig (2 bns)
- Knobloch (2 bns)
- Kalckstein (2 bns)
- Prinz Ferdinand von Preußen (2 bns)
- Zastrow (2 bns)
- Frei-Infanterie le Noble (1 bn)
N.B.: considering the detachments made, Keith had about 30,000 men.
Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 18
Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 2 Prag, Berlin, 1901, pp. 120-147
Hoen, Maximilian Ritter von: Die Schlacht bei Prag am 6. Mai 1757. Streffleurs Militärische Zeitschrift 1, vol. 2 (1909): 197-234 and vol. 3. (1909): 377-416.
Tempelhof, Fr., History of the Seven Years' War Vol. I Section 5, as translated by Colin Lindsay, Cadell, London, 1793
Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 409-416
Dr. Sascha Möbius for the list of suggested references