1757-08-13 - Combat of Landshut (1st)

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Battles >> 1757-08-13 - Combat of Landshut (1st)

Austrian Victory

Prelude

After being defeated at Kolin in June 1757, Frederick II had no choice but to raise the siege of Prague and to retreat northwards to the Saxon border.

Prince Charles de Lorraine and Field-Marshall Daun seized this opportunity to send a large detachment of light troops (about 4,000 men) under Franz Maximilian Baron Jahnus towards Silesia and the Prussian Fortress of Schweidnitz (present-day Świdnica). However, a small Prussian force under Kreytzen protected the mountain passes giving access to Schweidnitz.

In front of the larger Austrian force, Kreytzen decided to abandon the Town of Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Gora) commanding these mountain passes. On July 10, the Austrians immediately occupied the town and used it as a base to launch raids into Silesia.

By early August, Kreytzen had gradually forced the Austrian raiding parties to retire to Landeshut. However, Schlabrendorff, the Prussian governor of Silesia, did not consider these results as satisfactory and ordered Kreytzen to oust the Austrian detachment from Landeshut.

Consequently, on August 12, Kreytzen concentrated all his troops (about 3,000 men) and marched to Hartmannsdorf (present-day Jaczków).

Map

Map of the combat of Landeshut on August 13 1757.
 
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab

Legend

Blue = Prussians

  • A (hollow boxes) = positions in the evening of August 13, 1757
  • B (solid boxes) = positions in the morning of August 14, 1757
  • C (solid boxes) = attack

Red = Austrians

  • A (hollow boxes) = positions in the evening of August 13, 1757
  • B (solid boxes) = positions in the morning of August 14, 1757

Description of Events

In the morning of August 13, Kreytzen's hussars (only 70 men) established contact with Grenzer light troops posted in the forest near Landeshut. Their inferiority in number did not allow them to reconnoitre precisely the positions of the Austrian detachment.

In the afternoon of August 13, Kreytzen left camp at Hartmannsdorf leaving most of his wagons at the camp. According to the report of his hussars, he redirected his march right towards Vogelsdorf (present-day Ptaszków).

Realising that Grenzer light troops occupied the woods, Kreytzen decided to bring his small force closer to the Bober River.

Around 3:00 p.m., Kreytzen's hussars finally located Jahnus's main force which was deployed to the right of Landeshut, facing east with its front covered by the Ziederbach. On the opposite side of this brook, the Austrians were deployed with their left wing on the Kirchberg south of Landeshut. The Buchberg, east of the town, was also occupied by Austrian troops. This hill offered a commanding position over the Austrian line.

It was now 7:00 p.m. and even though Kreytzen's Corps had been on the march since the previous evening, it was decided to launch an attack. The right wing would advance in the direction of the suburb of Landeshut while the left wing, thus covered, would advance on the Buchberg. Kreytzen hoped that from this commanding position he could push back Jahnus's force towards the suburbs of Landeshut. He deployed his force in two lines and began his advance upon the Buchberg.

However, Kreytzen had underestimated the time necessary to advance to the top of the Buchberg. At dusk, he was obliged to stop short of his objective and to rearrange his corps into a large square around his baggage train and his hussars. His position was perilous since he stood in the middle of wooded terrains with a large force of enemy light troops within reach.

In the night of August 13 to 14, with the Austrians nearby, Kreytzen's Corps remained under arms near the Burgberg. As soon as night had fallen, Jahnus had sent 50 volunteers from the Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer to harass the flanks of the Prussian square. Prussian troops were thrown into confusion and began to fire disorderly, endangering their own comrades. Horses broke loose and escaped, the Austrians capturing 30 of them. About 100 Saxons, who had been forced to enlist into the Prussian Grenadier Battalion Diezelsky, took advantage of the situation to desert.

Meanwhile, Jahnus crossed the Zieder with the rest of his force and seized the heights of the Buchberg and of another adjoining hill, known as the Burgberg, commanding the Prussian position. A battalion of the Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer covered the battery on the Burgberg while a battalion of the Warasdiner (Creutzer or Sankt.Georger ???) Grenzer regiment was deployed along the foot of the Buchberg. The other Austrian units were deployed on the Buchberg with a battery of 6 guns on their right covered by 2 grenadier companies.

Kreytzen finally managed to re-establish order. He did not dare to wait for morning in his present position and decided to retreat with his corps, in complete silence and maintaining his square formation, to the Leuschnerberg, a height east of Vogelsdorf. It was almost daybreak when the Austrians noticed his manoeuvre and opened a lively fire on his corps with their artillery posted on the Buchberg and Burgberg without inflicting much losses. However, in this manoeuvre, the Prussians abandoned most of their baggage to get out of range faster. They finally rallied on the Leuschnerberg.

Kreytzen deployed his regiments into a single line. The Austrians soon followed his example and drew their units into two parallel lines. Kreytzen then ordered an assault on the Buchberg. Two grenadier battalions (Kreytzen and Diezelsky) chased away the Warasdiner Grenzer from the wood and managed to bring their battalion guns within range. These then opened against 6 Austrian guns planted on his right wing under the protection of 2 grenadier coys.

Before Kreytzen had issued the order of general attack, the 4 other Prussian battalions followed the grenadiers and the 6 battalions in a single line climbed the slopes of the Buchberg. The lively fire of the Austrians did not stop them and they stormed the abattis and drove the Grenzer light troops entrenched on the hilltop back and made themselves master of the Austrian guns.

Jahnus then ordered his guns to fire grapeshot upon the Prussian line. The 6 Prussian battalions also made a fine target for the Grenzer light troops deployed on their front and flanks.

When Jahnus saw that the Prussians were slowing their advance, he ordered the 5 Grenzer battalions forming his first line to deploy and to engage the enemy in their own national way. Accordingly, the grenzers immediately slung their muskets over their shoulder, drew their sabre and charged the enemy line with a terrible battle frenzy. This unusual sight had an immediate effect on the morale of the Prussians whose line wavered, yielded ground and split into two confused bodies.

Finally, all Prussian battalions broke and routed to the exception of the remnants of Grenadier Battalion Diezelsky who covered the retreat as the defeated Prussian force fled back to Schweidnitz by Hartmannsdorf. They abandoned 6 of their guns at the foot of the hill.

The Warasdiner Grenz-Hussars and a company of the Kaiser Franz I Hussars pursued the right body up to Reichenau (present-day Stare Bogaczowice) and the left one up to the Richenbank (unidentified location).

The Prussians lost 30 officers and 1,337 men, most of them taken prisoners. Indeed, the entire I./Garrison Regiment VIII Quadt von Wickeradt, who had become isolated during the rout, was captured. The Austrians lost 3 officers and 96 men.

Outcome

After this victory, the Austrians were free to continue their raids in Silesia almost unopposed until the end of December 1757 when Frederick reappeared in the region with the Prussian main army after his brilliant victory at the Battle of Leuthen on December 5. The Austrians then retired to Bohemia and the Prussians reoccupied Landeshut.

Order of Battle

Austrian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Colonel Baron Franz Maximilian Jahnus von Eberstädt, promoted to major-general after this affair

Summary: about 4,000 light troops

Prussian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Major-General von Kreytzen

Summary: 6 battalions, or about 3,000 infantrymen and 70 hussars

References

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 3 Kolin, Berlin, 1901, pp. 182-185

Huschberg, Johann Ferdinand: Die drei Kriegsjahre 1756, 1757, 1758 in Deutschland, J. C. Hinrich'sche Buchhandlung, Leipzig, 1856, pp. 187-

Wilson, Peter: The Three Battles of Landshut, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. XI No. 4

For the Prussian troops engaged: Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher): Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen, Part 3: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Vol. 3, Berlin 1901 - Reprint 2001.