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 northward to the Saxon border.

Prince Charles and Daun seized this opportunity to send a large detachment of light troops (about 4,000 men) under 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 Landshut (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 Landshut. However, Schlabrendorff, the Prussian governor of Silesia, did not consider these results as satisfactory and ordered Kreytzen to oust the Austrian detachment from Landshut.

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

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 afternoon of August 13, Kreytzen left camp at Hartmannsdorf to march on Vogelsdorf. However, most of his wagons remained at the camp. His inferiority in light troops, he could count only on 70 hussars, did not allow him to reconnoitre the positions of the Austrian detachment.

Kreytzen soon realised that Grenzer light troops occupied the woods. He decided to bring his small force closer to the Bober River.

Around 3:00 p.m., Kreytzen finally located Jahnus's main force which was deployed to the right of Landshut, facing east with its front covered by the Zieder Stream. On the opposite side of this stream stood a hill known as the Buchberg offering a commanding position over the Austrian line.

At 7:00 p.m., Kreytzen decided to seize the Buchberg, hoping that from this commanding position he could push back Jahnus's force towards the suburbs of Landshut. 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. His position was perilous since he stood in the middle of wooded terrains with a large force of enemy light troops within reach.

Throughout the night of August 13-14, 50 volunteers from the Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer harassed the Prussians. About 100 Saxons, who had been forced to enlist into the Prussian Grenadier Battalion Diezelsky, took advantage of the situation to desert. Meahwhile, Jahnus crossed the Zieder Stream 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.

At dawn on August 14, Kreytzen left his camp in front of the Buchberg and, maintaining his square formation, fell back to the Leuschnerberg, a hill located to the east of Vogelsdorf. This movement was undertaken under lively artillery fire from the Buchberg and Burgberg. 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 Austrian light troops from the wood and got close enough to the Austrian battery to fire on it with their battalion guns. The other 4 Prussian battalions followed the grenadiers without being ordered to do so. The 6 battalions then stormed the abatis atop the Buchberg and the adjoining battery, capturing the 6 guns.

Jahnus then halted and ordered his guns to fire grapeshot upon the Prussian line. When he saw that the enemy was slowing his 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. The Warasdiner Grenz-Hussars and a company of the Kaiser Franz I Hussars pursued the right body up to Reichenau and the left one up to the Richenbank.

The Prussians lost 30 officers and 1,337 men, most of them taken prisoners. Indeed, the entire I./Garrison Regiment VIII Quadt von Wickeradt 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 Landshut.

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

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.