1757-09-07 - Combat of Moys

From Project Seven Years War
Jump to: navigation, search

Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Battles >> 1757-09-07 - Combat of Moys

Austrian Victory

Prelude to the Battle

In September 1757, an Austrian army, under Prince Charles de Lorraine, was following up Bevern's Prussian army in its retreat towards Silesia.

On Tuesday September 6, Prince Charles de Lorraine finally decided to attack the corps of General Winterfeldt at Moys, since it was almost isolated from Bevern's Army, on the right bank of the Neisse River. The attack was confided to General of Cavalry Nádasdy.

Nádasdy planned the attack with the assistance of Brigadier Montazet, the Count Colloredo and the Duke of Arenberg. For this attack, in addition to his own corps, Nádasdy was reinforced with the Reserve Corps under the Duke of Arenberg (replacing Count Colloredo who had been slightly injured) and 22 grenadier companies under General Sprecher.

Map

Map of the combat of Moys on September 7 1757
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab

Winterfeldt had deployed his force with his right forming an angle from the Neisse towards the Jäkelsberg and his left extending from Leopoldshayn to the Neisse. The Jäkelsberg was at the apex of the angle formed by the right wing. Artillery had been planted on this hill which was also covered by fieldworks occupied by two grenadier battalions.

Description of Events

At 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday September 7, Nádasdy's force began its march.

Towards 6:00 a.m., Nádasdy's force deployed in two lines preceded by a screen of light troops. The right wing was anchored on the village of Hermsdorf while the left extended up to the mill of Moys on the Rothswasser. The Grenzer light troops were subdivided into three corps:

  1. on the right wing, occupying the villages of Hermsdorf and Leopoldshayn;
  2. on the left wing, in front of the assigned position of Arenberg's grenadiers;
  3. on the extreme left wing, beyond the Rothswasser, supported by two hussar regiments and several grenadier companies.

At about 7:30 a.m., the Duke of Arenberg, who had left the camp of the main army at Görlitz at 8:00 p.m. the previous day, finally arrived at Schöberg where he made his junction with Nádasdy's force which could now begin its advance on Moys. In the centre, the three columns of infantry were under the command of Lieutenant-Generals Clerici (left), Esterházy (centre) and Wied (right). Meanwhile, the Sachsen-Gotha Dragoons, along with the Jung-Modena Dragoons and the Saxon chevaux-légers were ordered to cover the right flank of the advancing infantry columns.

To the exception of the troops posted on the Jäkelsberg on the extreme right, General Winterfeldt had no advanced posts in front of Moys. Indeed, all Prussian troops were kept close to the camp for fear of desertion. Therefore, when Nádasdy's force started its advance on their position, the Prussians initially saw nothing but parties of Grenzers and hussars on their extreme right towards the Neisse. They mistakenly considered them as mere foragers belonging to Nádasdy's Corps. Accordingly, they only fired a few guns at them and ordered the grenadiers occupying the Jäkelsberg to take up their arms. Meanwhile, Nádasdy's columns were continuing their advance unnoticed along sunken roads through a countryside covered by woods and ravines.

At about 9:00 a.m., the Prussians began to see regular Austrian units advancing on Kuhna and Hermsdorf. Carl von Bevern reported the fact to General Winterfeldt who could not be convinced that the Austrians were preparing an attack. Meanwhile, the Saxon cavalry along with hussar and Grenzer regiments deployed between Leopoldshayn and Hermsdorf to fix the Prussian left.

At 11:00 a.m., the Austrian infantry finally deployed in the plain. The Austrian artillery then opened fire and Nádasdy ordered the Grenzers of the left wing supported by Arenberg's grenadiers to storm the Jäkelsberg defended by three Prussian battalions. The Austrian Grenzers and grenadiers assaulted the hill in three columns and successfully turned the entrenchment, putting the Prussian defenders to flight and capturing the camp along with three guns and one colour. Meanwhile, the Grenzers positioned on the extreme left wing assaulted and captured the village of Moys.

Then Nádasdy Hussars, which were posted near the Kaltwasser brook to cover the left flank of the infantry columns, fell on the Prussian troops retiring from the Jäkelsberg, capturing three colours. Meanwhile, the pursuing Austrian grenadiers even reached the camp of the Prussian hussars to the rear of the Jäkelsberg.

Winterfeldt and his staff were completely surprised by the attack. Indeed, they were not at Moys but at Görlitz in conference with Bevern. Winterfeldt was convinced that all the manoeuvring of the Austrian was but a demonstration in force. Finally realizing that it was a serious attack, Winterfeldt left the conference. All generals joined their brigades and set their troops in marching orders. Winterfeldt ordered Kannacher with the five nearest battalions (Grenadier Battalion 24/34 Anhalt, Manteuffel Infantry and Tresckow Infantry) to follow him at double-quick pace, marching by their right in columns. After the departure of Winterfeldt, Zieten was left in command of the main body.

Arriving at the gallop, Winterfeldt found his grenadiers and their insufficient reinforcements rolling back, the Jäkelsberg lost. He then launched a counter-attack against the Austrian Grenzers and grenadiers now occupying the contested hill and recaptured it, driving off the defending Grenzers and grenadiers. Winterfeldt then rallied his troops.

However, by this time, the troops of the first line of the Austrian centre (de Ligne, d'Arberg, Platz, Sprecher and Sachsen-Gotha infantry regiments) had deployed in line and were ready to launch a second assault on the Jäkelsberg. They finally drove off the Prussians from the Jäkelsberg after a fierce fight that lasted about an hour, capturing Count Anhalt-Dessau, Major-General Kannacher, a lieutenant-colonel and several others officers along with three colours and one 16-pdr gun.

Meanwhile, at about 1:00 p.m., Winterfeldt detached two infantry regiments and some cavalry to seize the villages of Leopoldshayn and Hermsdorf on his right. These regiments deployed near Leopoldshayn and attacked the village defended by Colonel Vela with Grenzer troops from the Karlstädter-Lykaner and Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 1. The Grenzers were also supported by Lieutenant-General Kálnoky at the head of 15 hussar squadrons (Kaiser Franz, Kálnoky and Dessewffy). After a fight that lasted about an hour, the two Prussian regiments were obliged to retire to the heights alongside the Neisse in front of the town of Görlitz where they rallied under the cover of the Prussian artillery deployed on the opposite bank of the river.

At about 2:00 p.m., the Prussian finally abandoned the Jäkelsberg. After the capture of this hill, Nádasdy reinforced it, deploying his grenadiers in several lines and planting some guns on the heights. However, satisfied by the results, he did not try to exploit his advantage further.

During the afternoon, the Prince of Bevern reinforced Winterfeldt with three additional battalions.

At 4:00 p.m., Prince Charles sent 31 grenadier companies and 8 horse grenadier companies across the Neisse to reinforce Nádasdy.

Until 5:00 p.m., both forces cannonaded each other without engaging in any significant action.

Winterfeldt was killed during the fight.

As mentioned before, several Prussian officers were captured during this action. In addition, 333 soldiers were taken prisoner and 392 others deserted during the following days. The Austrian army lost 177 men while 1,311 were wounded and 87 reported missing.

Outcome

This combat had no major consequences on the events. The Prussians set fire to their camp at Moys and retired from the battlefield with a loss of about 800 killed and wounded. The Austrians captured 5 guns (2 x 12-pdrs, 1 x 6-pdrs, 2 x 3-pdrs) and 7 colours. They lost about 3,000 men in this action.

On September 10, a few days later, Bevern finally retreated to Silesia but this was mainly due to a lack of supplies.

Order of Battle

Austrian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: General of Cavalry Nádasdy.

Summary: 8 grenzer battalions, 42 grenadier companies, 26 infantry battalions, 26 cavalry squadrons and 25 hussar squadrons (14,267 foot, 7295 horse, 2,987 hussars and 8,000 grenzers for a total of 32,549 men)

N.B.: the above figures exclude the reinforcements, the grenadier reserve under Sprecher and troops operating on the other bank of the Neisse.

Vanguard First Line Second Line
Right Wing
Grenz Infanterie under Lieutenant-General Petazzi and Major-General Schröger

supported by light cavalry under Lieutenant-General Kálnoky and Major-General Luzinsky

  Lieutenant-General Nostitz's Cavalry Division
Centre
  Right Division under Lieutenant-General Wied assisted by Major-Generals Kinsky and Butler (deployed on three lines)

Centre Division under Lieutenant-General Nicolaus Esterházy assisted by Major-Generals Gemmingen and O'Kelly (deployed on three lines)

Left Division under Lieutenant-General Clerici assisted by Major-generals Batthyányi and Würben (deployed on three lines)

Lieutenant-General Forgách's Division (assisted by Major-General Preysach)
Left Wing
Light troops under Lieutenant-General Pálffy

supported by light cavalry:

Lieutenant-General Arenberg's Division (assisted by Major-General Preysach and Major-General Stolberg)
  • Converged grenadiers from the Reserve corps and from Nádasdy's Corps (42 coys)
 

Artillery

  • Deutsche Feldartillerie
    • 1st Battery (10 heavy guns) (probably posted on the Galgenberg)
    • 2nd Battery (6 heavy guns) (probably posted on the Buschberg)

Reserve under Lieutenant-General Sprecher (did not take part in the battle)

  • Converged Grenadiers from the Main Army (22 coys)

N.B.: Two more cavalry brigades are reported by Horace St-Paul as part of Nádasdy's Corps but do not seem to be present at the combat. We have not found information about their location during the engagement. These are:

Reinforcement sent at 4:00 p.m. from the Main Army at Görlitz

  • Converged Grenadiers (31 coys)
  • Converged Horse Grenadiers (8 coys)

Prussian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Lieutenant-General von Winterfeldt assisted by Lieutenant-General von Zieten

In command at the moment of the attack: Major-General Prince Carl von Bevern

Summary: 15 battalions, 25 cavalry squadrons, 20 hussars squadrons

Advanced Posts First Line Second Line
Right Wing
Kursell Grenadier Brigade Light Cavalry

Grenadiers

 
Centre
  under Major-Generals Wied and Kannacher  
Left Wing
Light Cavalry Grenadiers under Major-General von Kleist (*)

Cavalry under Major-General von Meyer (*)

under Major-General von Normann (*)

(*) the identity of these generals is deducted from the Prussian Ordre de Bataille Générale of August 15 for the army in Saxony. Most generals of Winterfeldt’s Corps where absent when the army was alarmed.

Artillery

Reinforcements sent from Görlitz

References

This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Carlyle T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 18
  • Donnersmarck, Victor Amadaeus Henckel von: Militaerischer Nachlass, Karl Zabeler, 1858, pp. 365-367, 445-450
    • "Relation de l'affaire du lieutenant-général Winterfeldt près de Görlitz le 7 sept. 1757, par le comte d'Anhalt commandeur d'un bataillon de grenadiers à cette affaire"
    • "Relation de l'action de Görlitz", Vienna: October 1757
    • "Action de Goerlitz", Berlin: October 1757
  • Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 428-429

Other sources:

Grosser Gerneralstab: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen III. 1756-1763, vol. IV, Berlin: 1902

Rogge, Christian: Ordre de Bataille at Moys (Jaeckelsberg), Frankfurt: 2003

St. Paul, Horace: Journal of Horace St. Paul 1757, as translated by Neil Cogswell in Seven Years War Association Journal, Vol. XII No. 1 and 2

Tempelhof, G. F. von: Geschichte des Siebenjährigen Krieges in Deutschland, vol. I-IV, Berlin: 1783-1801