1757 - Allied counter-offensive in Hanover

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The campaign lasted from November to December 1757

Description

Situation after the Convention of Kloster Zeven

By September 1757, the French had completed the invasion of Hanover. On September 9, under the mediation of the King of Denmark, the Duke of Cumberland capitulated at the Abbey near Zeven to the north-east of Bremen, signing the "Convention of Kloster-Zeven" which allowed the French to occupy Hanover and stipulated that:

  • hostilities had to cease within 24 hours;
  • Hanoverian troops should retire to Stade and beyond the Elbe River in the Duchy of Lüneburg;
  • Brunswicker, Sachsen-Gothaer, Bückeburger and Hessian troops could return to their respective homelands without being considered prisoners of war;
  • Allied troops would not take part in the conflict until the end of the war.

The Allied army remained hutted in the neighbourhood of Stade while the French army was distributed into 5 camps: Bremen, Verden, Rethem, Bothmer and Celle. Other French corps were stationed in Hanover, Brunswick and Wolfenbüttel. Voyer at the head of a detachment (3 bns, 4 sqns and Chasseurs de Fischer) was then sent into the Country of Halberstadt as far as Osterwieck. The Maréchal de Richelieu never seriously considered besieging Magdeburg in Prussia even though it was supposedly his next objective. He rather thoroughly plundered the region of Hanover.

Arrival of Prussian troops in the area of Halberstadt

While Frederick II operated with a Prussian army against the Franco-Imperial army, Ferdinand of Brunswick was detached with 7 bns, 10 sqns and some artillery into the Country of Magdeburg to cover that province and alarm the French in those quarters. Ferdinand advanced up to Halberstadt and detached Colonel Horn with 600 men towards Egeln where he surprised a French party, capturing most of them. The French troops occupying the principality retired beyond Hornburg, leaving intact a large magazine at Osterwieck. Now that a force of 3,000 Prussians was in the region, the City of Halberstadt refused to pay contributions to the French.

On September 26, Richelieu collected all his troops at Rehen (unidentified location) near Wolfenbüttel.

At the end of September, the Allied army was still in the neighbourhood of Stade. Some of its corps had advanced as far as Bardowick on their way to take up winter quarters in the Country of Lauenburg. The Hessian and Brunswicker contingents had also began their march to repair to their respective countries. They all received orders to halt.

On October 5, Cumberland embarked for Great Britain, leaving command of the Allied army at Stade to General Zastrow. The Allied army remained in these positions till November while London and Versailles exchanged arguments about the convention of Kloster-Zeven.

On October 7, a French force (20 bns, 18 sqns) under Lieutenant-général de Broglie was detached from the Lower Rhine Army to reinforce the French Army of Saxony commanded by the Prince de Soubise. With the rest of his army, Richelieu marched against Ferdinand's positions at Zellengen (unidentified location) and Dardesheim. Ferdinand gradually retired to Halberstadt, then to Wanzleben near Magdeburg. Richelieu's Army encamped near Halberstadt, committing several excesses and devastations in the region.

Arrival of Ferdinand of Brunswick in Hanover

At the end of October, King George II of Great Britain despatched the Count von Schulenburg, a Hanoverian, to Frederick II at Leipzig. The count requested King Frederick to grant them Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick to be general of the Anglo-Hanoverian army at Stade. Frederick gave his cheerful consent.

On November 6, Richelieu heard of the crushing defeat of Rossbach the previous day. He immediately evacuated the Country of Halberstadt and retired towards Brunswick, leaving garrisons at Regenstein, Osterwieck and Hornburg. Richelieu also sent Soubise a considerable reinforcement. When the French evacuated Halberstadt, the Prussian governor of Magdeburg detached General Juncheim with a part of his garrison (2 bns and 1,100 horse) to protect Halberstadt from French incursions. Jucheim proceeded to Aschersleben where he was joined by another battalion. He then entered into Halberstadt with 2 battalions and sent the third to Quedlinburg.

In November, after the defeat of the French at Rossbach at the hands of Frederick II, the British government repudiated the "Convention of Kloster-Zeven". Shortly afterwards, the Allies began to assemble their contingents.

On November 9, at Merseburg, Duke Ferdinand got his British commission. He staid six more days in Magdeburg.

On November 14, Duke Karl of Brunswick, who had signed a treaty with France and Austria, ordered his units to leave the Allied army and march home.

On November 16, it became known to Allied troops that Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick would assume command of the Allied army. Zastrow began to put Allied units in readiness. He occupied Bremervörde, some 27 km south-west of Stade. Wilhelm VIII, the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, immediately placed his troops under the command of the new commander-in-chief.

In the night of November 18 to 19, the Brunswicker Contingent set off from the Allied camp at Stade to reach the closest French outpost. Zastrow was immediately informed of their departure and ordered his Hanoverian and Hessian troops to prevent the departure of the Brunswickers. Generals von Imhoff and von Behr were put under arrest and Colonel von Zastrow, the next most senior officer of the Brunswicker Contingent, accepted to march back to Stade with this contingent and wait for new orders from the Duke of Brunswick.

The Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel informed the French that, since his regiments were under British pay and that Great Britain had rejected the convention of Kloster-Zeven, “things had changed”.

On November 22, Richelieu marched to Uelzen where he established his headquarters.

On November 23

  • French
    • Fearing the breaking off of the convention, Richelieu assembled the corps of the Marquis de Villemure at Soltau to the north of the City of Hanover and sent it to Harburg a few km from Hamburg. **Richelieu personally led a division (32 bns and 38 sqns) through Gifhorn to Lüneburg, having issued orders for all his army to rapidly assemble near Celle.
    • Richelieu also ordered 6,000 Palatines, quartered at Hamm and Lippstadt, and some cavalry stationed in the Duchy of Kleve to join him.
  • Allies
    • The Allied army which had corps near Harburg, Buxtehude and Bremervörde fell back on the approach of Richelieu.
    • Ferdinand of Brunswick arrived at the Allied headquarters at Stade. On his way, he had met with his nephew, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, at Escheburg near Bergedorf as the latter was going to the Dutch Republic according to his father’s orders. The prince informed Ferdinand of the attempt of the Brunswicker Contingent to march home. Ferdinand had managed to persuade the desperate young prince to return to the army, an event which did not fail to have a favorable effect on the Brunswickers.

On Thursday November 24

  • French
    • Richelieu established his headquarters at Lüneburg.
  • Allies
    • Duke Ferdinand appeared in Stade, on horseback at morning parade. He announced that he was come to take command, that King George II had declined to ratify the “Convention of Kloster-Zeven” and that this convention was abolished.

When Richelieu was informed that Ferdinand had taken command of the reunited Allied army, he threatened to burn the country if the convention was not abided by.

Ferdinand expected a speedy advance of the French by Lüneburg and feared to be trapped between the Elbe and the morass of the Duchy of Bremen, and to be driven against the sea. Hence, he decided to advance against them. He concentrated on the most essential preparations. He rejected a possible advance on Verden and Nienburg because he would thus have endangered the supply of the army, which could initially be done only from the magazine at Stade.

As the Duke of Brunswick persisted with his intent to withdraw his contingent. Ferdinand wrote to Colonel von Zastrow to explain that he would take all responsibility, if necessary, to exert force to prevent the troops from leaving the Allied army. Ferdinand finally managed to convince the Brunswicker officers to remain with the Allies, and Duke Charles refused to interfere, as the course of events soon overtook him.

When the expected French attack failed to materialize and Richelieu seemed to have decided to defend the Luhe, Ferdinand decided to advance on Uelzen in order to draw the French out of their positions.

Ferdinand pushes the French back to the Aller

By November 25, Richelieu was at the head of 30 bns and 28 sqns. Overall, his army counted 46 bns and 38 sqns. Its first line was deployed between Lüneburg, Winsen an der Luhe and Harburg; its second line between Uelzen and Soltau. Meanwhile, the Polleresky Hussards were roaming the Altmark and 2 French bns (La Roche Aymon Infanterie) occupied Harburg

On November 26

  • Allies
    • Taking advantage of the dispersion of French troops in various cantonments, Ferdinand marched from Stade, leaving Lieutenant-General Hardenberg with 2,500 men to besiege Harburg.
    • Ferdinand detached General Diepenbroick on Bremen and Verden on the Aller while he himself marched towards Richelieu at the head of 25,000 men.
    • A small detachment under Major von Müller occupied Bremervörde to cover the concentration of the Allied army.
  • French
    • Richelieu had now his headquarters at Winsen an der Luhe. He was astonished by Ferdinand's initiative but quickly collected troops at Celle on the Aller despite the fact that most of them were scattered all over Western Germany. Most of Richelieu's troops occupied the town while 15,000 men encamped with their right at Westercelle and their left at La Bergerie (unidentified location).

On November 28

  • Allies
    • Ferdinand also sent a letter to Richelieu to inform him that he had assumed command of the Allied army to reinitiate hostilities and that the Convention of Kloster-Zeven was rejected. All the benefits of the victory of Hastenbeck and of the Allied capitulation at Kloster-Zeven were now lost for France.
    • Ferdinand had assembled 43 bns, 45 sqns and 6 Jäger coys on the right bank of the Este.
    • Lieutenant-General von Block remained in Stade with 2 bns. Another bn occupied Buxtehude.
    • Major-General von Hardenberg laid siege to Harburg with 4 bns (Spörcken, Hardenberg, Grote and Halberstadt Fusiliers), 2 sqns (Leib-Regiment Reuter) and 6 howitzers, a total of 2,500 foot and 250 horse. The Castle of Harburg was a strong bastioned pentagonal fortress with wet ditches separating it from the town. Furthermore, the dams on the Elbe had been opened to flood the surroundings. The place was defended by the Mestre de Camp Marquis de la Pereuse with 1,500 men (2 bns of La Roche-Aymon Infanterie, 500 commandeered men from 3 infantry rgts, 50 horse from Wurtemberg Cavalerie, and finally miners and artillerymen).
  • French
    • The concentration of the Allied army compelled French advance posts to retire on their main army, thus isolating Harburg.

In the night of November 28 to 29, Hardenberg occupied the part of the city of Harburg located on the left bank of the Elbe. He also sent armed boats to intercept navigation on the Elbe and weak detachments against the French defensive works. On the advice of his engineers, Hardenberg did not undertake approaching works because of the marshy terrain and the wet ditches. Thus Hardenberg easily became master of the town of Harburg, the nearest French fortress to Stade. However, he still had to conquer the castle where M. de Pereuse, the French governor, had retired with the garrison, bringing some hostages with him. Hardenberg vainly summoned the Castle of Harburg to surrender.

On November 29

  • Allies
    • Before daylight, Hardenberg's batteries began playing upon the Castle of Harburg.
  • French
    • Louis XV instructed Richelieu to merge Soubise's Army into his own, Soubise retaining command of a corps under the command of Richelieu.
Order of Battle
Allied order of battle on November 30 1757

On November 30

  • Allies
    • Allied jägers entered Harburg while Hardenberg invested the castle with 3 bns and 2 sqns.
    • The howitzers of the Allies opened against the Castle of Harburg. The French barely replied. During the day, 4 mortars arrived from Stade.
    • The main army, leaving Hardenberg behind with 4,500 men to take the Castle of Harburg, advanced towards Lüneburg.

On December 1, the Allied artillery destroyed the barracks of the fortress of Harburg, forcing the garrison to bivouac. However, the poor condition of the siege artillery of the Allies and the insufficient training of its gunners did not produce more significant results.

Meanwhile, Ferdinand had asked Prince Henry for a demonstration of Prussian troops from Magdeburg against an important French magazine at Gifhorn. However, Prince Henry contented himself with the occupation of Halberstadt and the sending 2 bns to Gardelegen as the vanguard of Lehwaldt’s Corps allegedly marching through the Altmark. Despite their insignificance, Prince Henry’s measures were enough to make Richelieu worried for his communications. Richelieu felt that his army was inferior to Ferdinand’s and decided to evacuate the banks of the Luhe and Ilmenau and to effect a junction with his other units who had previously taken up their winter-quarters at Celle behind the Aller. He planned to complete this junction by December 13.

On December 2, Richelieu retired from Lüneburg.

On December 3

  • Allies
    • Major Freytag with some light troops took possession of Lüneburg, capturing a considerable quantity of forage and provisions.
  • French
    • Richelieu personally reached Celle where M. de Caraman successfully engaged the Hanoverian Jägers.
    • French troops along with the 6,000 Palatines, the cavalry stationed at Kleve and the heavy artillery stationed at Hanover all fell back towards Celle.
    • M. de Villemeur left Lüneburg with the rearguard, intending to cross to the left bank of the Aller at Gifhorn and then effect a junction with the main army at Celle.
    • Noailles was at Pattensen with the other rearguard.
    • Richelieu sent Du Roi Regiment to Kassel while the Gendarmerie, Carabiniers and several other units occupied Hesse-Kassel.
    • The garrison of Harburg made a sally but was repulsed. With the retreat of the main army, the Castle of Harburg was now cut from any support.
    • Soubise, who had been placed under Richelieu's command, was instructed to occupy Hesse-Kassel who laid defenceless because all its troops were with the Allied army. Soubise was also charged to cover the right flank of the French main army against a potential Prussian advance south of the Harz.

The speed of the French retreat had made it impossible for Ferdinand to turn their left flank. Therefore, the Allies followed the weakened French troops, effecting small marches interrupted by frequent rest days. With this change of plan, Ferdinand experienced difficulties to properly supply his army. Hoping, despite winter, to be able to supply his army with provisions coming from Stade and Lüneburg along the Ilmenau up to Uelzen, Ferdinand chose to advance on Celle. King Frederick thought that an attack on Nienburg and Minden on the Lower Aller would be more effective, because it would threaten the French lines of communication and would avoid the crossing of the river in front of the French army. However, Frederick let Ferdinand full freedom to decide of his new plan.

On December 4, Ferdinand encamped at Amelinghausen.

On December 5

  • Allies
    • Ferdinand rested his army at Amelinghausen.
    • General Schulenberg had previously been sent to secure the communications of the Allied army with the Elbe. He overtook a detachment of Chasseurs de Fischer supported by Caraman Dragons near Ebstorf. He attacked them with the Breidenbach Dragoons along with some jägers and hussars. At last the French were entirely routed, loosing 11 officers and 400 privates killed and wounded. Schulenberg was slightly wounded in the affair. An Allied reinforcement was immediately sent to Schulenberg.

On December 6

  • Allies
    • The Allied army crossed the Lopau River in 4 columns and encamped near Melfing (unidentified location). The headquarters were at Ebstorf.
    • Schulenberg's Corps made a junction with the main army.
    • Major Luckner was detached towards Hermannsburg where he seized 24 laden wagons.
    • Major Essdorff took possession of Medingen, capturing a large quantity of forage. Other abandoned magazines were captured at Bienenbüttel, Bevensen and Uelzen.
  • French
    • Broglie and Noailles reached Celle.

During the night of December 6 to 7, a magazine in the Castle of Harburg was set on fire by a bomb and entirely consumed.

On December 7

  • Allies
    • The Allied army halted for two days.
  • French
    • Richelieu recalled French troops operating in Hesse.
    • D'Armentières retired on Halberstadt and Osterwieck.

On December 8

  • Allies
    • An armed vessel was posted on the Riegerflieg, a branch of the Elbe, to contain the French garrison of Harburg on this side.
    • In front of Harburg, Hardenberg received new pieces of artillery and ammunition sent from Stade. This allowed him to establish additional batteries and to intensify the bombardment of the fortress.
  • French
    • The garrison of the Castle of Harburg made another sally, capturing some live cattle.

On December 9

  • Allies
    • The Allied army passed the Gartau River, encamping around Suderburg.
    • Major Luckner dislodged a French party at Hermannsburg.

On December 10

  • Allies
    • The Allied army halted while Lieutenant-General Spörcken was detached towards Gifhorn with 8 bns and 8 sqns.
    • Ferdinand was informed that the French were reinforcing their positions between Bremen and Achim. He detached Major-General von Diepenbroick (3 bns, 1 sqn) to Stade to protect his lines of communication and to cover the siege of Harburg.
  • French
    • Richelieu determined to punish Halberstadt for its refusal to pay contribution. The Marquis de Voyer was ordered to re-enter the Country of Halberstadt with 12,000 men (11 bns , 36 piquets, 2 cavalry rgts, 1 hussar rgt and 400 other horse). Voyer divided his force in 3 columns to surprise Juncheim in Halberstadt.

The scattered forces of Lieutenant-General de Beauffremont which were facing Diepenbroick on the left bank of the Wümme and on the Lower Weser were rapidly reinforced by the arrival of new units from East Frisia.

During the night of December 10 to 11

  • French
    • Voyer's rightmost column set out from Schladen following the Holtheim rivulet. The centre column set out from Hornburg and marched by Osterwieck and Zillingen (unidentified location). Finally, the left column marched from Achim towards Halberstadt.
  • Prussians
    • At 3:00 a.m., a Prussian patrol met the right column and immediately informed Juncheim.

On December 11

  • Allies
    • The Allied main army advanced to Weyhausen.
  • Prussians
    • At daybreak, Juncheim retired to a small eminence near Halberstadt where he waited for his battalion coming from Quedlinburg. With his reunited force, he then retired to Oschersleben.
  • French
    • Voyer entered in Halbersatdt and exacted heavy contributions.

On December 12

  • Allies
    • At daybreak, General Oberg moved forward on Rebberlah, where a large French body had been spotted, with an advanced corps of 6 bns and 9 sqns supported by the whole Allied army in 4 columns. However, the French had already retired. The Allied then encamped near Rebberlah while Luckner advanced towards Garssen with 3 grenadier coys, 4 sqns and some irregulars. At Garssen, Luckner skirmished the whole day with the Volontaires du Hainaut and Danfret (???).
    • Ferdinand was only a day’s march north of Celle.
    • At night Spörcken rejoined the Allied main army.
  • French

On December 13

  • Allies
    • The Allied army, leaving behind its baggage and pontoons, resumed its advance in four columns towards Celle and its avant-garde drove back the French outposts into the suburb of Celle on the right bank of the Aller. The attack of the Allies met with success, even though Richelieu had occupied the suburbs with a strong force of infantry.
    • Hoping that the French would evacuate Celle and thus leave the city undamaged, Ferdinand encamped on the heights to the north-east of Celle, near the Lüneburger suburb.
  • French
    • When Oberg's advanced corps moved briskly on Celle, Richelieu's army retired on the left bank of the Aller. The French then opened fire with the guns mounted on the city walls.
    • Richelieu threw 8 bns into Celle and kept his army in readiness in its camp to the south-east of Celle between the Aller and the Fuhse. He also destroyed or blocked the passages of the Aller at Gifhorn and Verden. Overall, his army counted 54 bns and 52 sqns for a total of 21,600 foot and 5,730 horse, excluding the Chasseurs de Fischer, the Volontaires de Flandre and the Volontaires du Hainaut.
    • During the night, the French set fire to the bridge and to the magazines in the Lüneburger suburb.

In the night of December 13 to 14, Richelieu feared an attack of the Allies. His own forces were not yet completely assembled and he considered a retreat towards Burgdorf. He held a council of war which did not approve of the abandonment of sick, guns and supplies in Celle. With the arrival of important reinforcements, Richelieu finally decided to defend his position and to strengthen it with earthworks.

On December 14

  • Allies
    • The Allied army remained in its positions near Celle. However, Ferdinand realized that the French did not intend to evacuate Celle. Therefore, he decided to cross the Aller below Celle.
    • Diepenbroick assembled his detachment south of Stade.
  • French
    • M. de Roquepine (6 bns) made a junction with Richelieu's Army.
    • The French army deployed along the Aller from Celle to Schafferey (unidentified location).

On December 15

  • Allies
    • Diepenbroick took position at Zeven.
    • Ferdinand sent Lieutenant-General von Spörcken with 8 bns, 8 sqns and two 12-pdr guns to Boye a few km downstream from Celle to throw two pontoon-bridges on the Aller.

In the night of December 15 to 16, the pontoons were conducted to Boye to construct the two bridges. However, they got lost on their way.

On December 16

  • Allies
    • At 5:00 a.m., the Allied army was under arms awaiting notification from Spörcken that the bridges were ready. Meanwhile, Oberg was detached towards the right to Hehlen with 2 bns and 8 sqns and Ysenburg marched towards the left to Lachtehausen with 3 bns and 2 sqns. Oberg and Ysenburg were to make a feint of passing the river. Kielmannsegg with 2 bns was placed in front of Celle with instruction to penetrate in the city as soon as the French would abandon it. However, the pontoons had not reached their destination in time and the whole scheme had to be abandoned. Spörcken returned to the camp while Ysenburg and Oberg encamped near their assigned posts.
  • French
    • Beauffremont was at the head of 10 bns and 2 bns posted between Rethem and Bremen.

On December 17

  • Allies
    • Ferdinand’s headquarters were at Altenhagen.
  • French
    • Richelieu was reinforced by a body of troops coming from Brunswick. His army now consisted of 74 bns and 70 sqns. However, the French army, for lack of tents, had to bivouac while its stores had no more forage.

Ferdinand’s situation deteriorated daily. His troops suffered from the cold weather, supply could be obtained only with difficulty and desertion increased. Generals Zastrow, Spörcken and Oberg objected to a new attempt to cross the Aller and Ferdinand finally abandoned his design, thus giving enough time to the French to unite their forces and prepare a counter-offensive.

On December 19

  • Allies
    • Spörcken's Corps fell into the line while 2 bns and 2 sqns of Ysenburg's Corps returned and did the same. The rest of Ysenburg's Corps remained at Lachtehausen while Oberg's Corps rejoined the advanced guard of the Allied army.
  • French
    • Richelieu started to take dispositions to pass the Aller: Broglie was sent to the Duchy of Bremen to assume command of a French Corps consisting of 12 bns and 8 sqns. He was instructed to advance by the Wümme, to turn the Allies' right and then, if feasible, to proceed beyond Wolthausen.

On December 20

  • Allies
    • Ferdinand retired by his right, taking position with his left on the Lachte River and his right on the Klein-Hehlen stream and maintaining his headquarters at Altenhagen.
  • French
    • Richelieu's Army was encamped in two lines, its right anchored on the village of Westercelle with the Grenadiers de France and Grenadiers Royaux deployed en potence on this flank and its left extending up to the bridge of Schafferey near Celle.

On December 21, Broglie took command of his detachment (12 bns, 8 sqns) assembling in the Duchy of Bremen for an advance on Böhme.

On December 22 and 23, the French army made several movements against the left and rear of the Allied army.

On December 23

  • Allies
    • Spörcken was detached to the right of the Allied Army with 5 bns and 5 sqns to observe Broglie’s movements.
  • French
    • Richelieu had now assembled 64 bns and 68 sqns in his camp near Celle.
    • Villemur (10 bns, 16 sqns) was posted near Offensen, midway between Celle and the Aller. Villemur was charged to cover the construction of a bridge and then to attack Ferdinand’s left flank.
    • Broglie was speedily assembling 12 bns and 8 sqns recalled from their quarters on the Lower Aller and the Weser, to support from Rethem to Bergen the advance of the main army against the Allies.

On December 24

  • French
    • Broglie’s Corps reached Bergen. He advanced as far as Fallingbostel (present-day Bad Fallingbostel) but when he saw the Allied troops despatched against him, he retreated to Rethem.
    • The French worked at the construction of a bridge at Offensen.
    • The Marquis de Villemeur's Corps (10 bns, 14 sqns, Polleresky Hussards, the Volontaires de Flandre and 8 artillery pieces) prepared to pass the Aller at Müden to cover the construction of 2 bridges at Offensen and Schwachhausen. Furthermore, Villemeur would then send M. de Laval forward with an advanced guard of 1,500 men to dislodge the Allies from the villages of Ahnsbeck, Gamsen and Lachendorf. A detachment of 400 horse of the Volontaires du Hainaut would also advance towards Uelzen to burn magazines and intercept a convoy.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand received intelligence that the French intended to cross the Aller below Celle, probably to relieve Harburg. He then sent Lieutenant-General Spörcken with 5 bns and 4 sqns downstream along the Aller to contest the passage of the Aller to the French.
    • Ferdinand thought that Richelieu intended to turn his left flank. For a short time, Ferdinand considered the possibility to leave a rearguard before Celle and to launch an offensive on the left bank of the Lachte, a tributary flowing into of the Aller upstream from Celle. However, he soon abandoned his design because he did not want to oppose his weak and untried army to the superior French army. Accordingly, he decided to retreat considering that, if the French tried to pursue his army, their advance through the Lüneburg Heath in winter would be ruinous for them.
    • The Hereditary Prince of Brunswick with 4 bns and 4 sqns was sent to Hermannsburg to screen Broglie’s force from Bergen. He was instructed to effect a junction with Spörcken’s detachment near Soltau if the French advanced towards Harburg.

In the night of December 24 to 25

  • French
    • MM. de Villemeur, de Laval, de Grandmaison, d'Auvet and d'Ayen threw bridges over the Aller and successfully passed the river.
    • M. de Lillebonne with his regiment (Harcourt Dragons) and Bercheny Hussards marched to Lachendorf.
    • M. de Caraman with his regiment (Caraman Dragons), Dauphin Infanterie, a group of volunteers designated as Volontaires de Richelieu and the Chasseurs de Fischer passed the bridge of Schafferey to make a demonstration against the bridges of Klein Hehlen and Gross Hehlen.
    • Another demonstration was made by M. d'Auvet (7 bns, 4 dragoon sqns, Volontaires du Hainaut, some hussars and 6 pieces) from the Lüneburger suburb.
    • The Duc d'Ayen (La Marine, Vaubécourt and Orléans infantry brigades; Royal-Cravate cavalry brigade 4 Gendarmes sqns and 8 pieces) debouched by the bridge of Altencelle and detached M. de Maupeou with Orléans Brigade towards Lachtenhausen.
  • Allies
    • At 1:00 a.m., Ferdinand’s Army retired to effect a junction with the detachments of Spörcken and the Hereditary Prince.

On December 25

  • French
    • At 8:00 am, the French main army debouched from its cantonments. It formed in two lines at Schwachhausen and Offensen, as follows:
      • first line:
        • infantry: Picardie, Navarre, Auvergne, Belsunce, La Tour-du-Pin and Lyonnais brigades
        • cavalry: Cuirassiers, Commissaire-Général, Royal-Allemand and Royal-Roussillon brigades
        • artillery: 24 pieces
      • second line under MM. de Noailles and de Monti:
        • infantry: Champagne, Dauphin and Aquitaine brigades
        • cavalry: Carabiniers, Harcourt Cavalerie
        • artillery: 14 pieces
    • The second line was charged to throw the bridges under Villemeur's protection while the first line remained in battle formation along the Aller.
    • In the evening, Richelieu returned to Celle where he established his headquarters, his army encamping on the same spot as the Allied army the previous day. Considering that his army was unfit for a winter campaign, Richelieu then decided to send his troops to their winter-quarters.
  • Allies
    • The Allies decamped and retired on Winsen and Lüneburg leaving 500 prisoners in the hands of the French advanced parties. Ferdinand was at Uelzen.
Order of Battle
French cantonments by December 29 1757

On December 26, the Allied army took up its quarters in the region of Uelzen.

On December 27

  • French
    • Richelieu’s Army began to take up its winter-quarters in the areas of Verden, Celle, Brunswick and Hanover; with its front covered by the Aller and the Oker; and its rear, by the Weser. Its right wing was anchored on Wolfenbüttel and its left wing on Bremen.
    • The Marquis de la Pereuse started negotiations with Hardenberg for the capitulation of the Castle of Harburg. He obtained free withdrawal under condition that the units of the garrison would not serve against the King of Great Britain and his Allies for the rest of the war.

The region of the Wümme was still occupied by French troops. Since Ferdinand’s retreat, the French were very active on the Lower Weser, especially Broglie who, after a futile attempt on Bergen, marched against Bremen with 12 bns and 8 sqns to secure the French winter-quarters by occupying this city. In front of this superior force, the Allied detachment of Major von Müller, posted on the Lower Wümme to cover the magazines located in Bremen, was forced to retire in the direction of Bremervörde.

On December 29

  • French
    • The Castle of Harburg finally capitulated. The French garrison (1,700 men) was allowed the honours of war.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand sent Lieutenant-General von Oberg with 6 bns and 4 sqns from Ebstorf to Soltau to support Müller’s detachment, placing Diepenbroick’s detachment at Bremervörde under Oberg’s command.

After the capitulation of Harburg, Hardenberg sent additional troops to reinforce Diepenbroick in Bremervörde. The latter now felt strong enough to advance to the support of Müller’s detachment and to chase French troops from the right bank of the Wümme

On December 30

  • French
    • Richelieu established his headquarters at Hanover.
    • Armentières commanded a large body in Celle.
    • Broglie retired between Verden and Bremen.
    • The main body of Soubise’s Corps was cantoned on the Werra and the Fulda and the rest in the Principality of Hanau.
    • The French also had several garrisons on the Rhine, between Düsseldorf and Kleve; in Westphalia; and in the part of Hanover to the west of the Weser.

On December 31

  • Allies
    • The French garrison (90 officers and 1,250 men) evacuated the Castle of Harburg returning to France by Verden; and the Allies took possession of it. The Halberstadt Fusiliers occupied the fortress. In this siege, the Allies had lost 3 men killed and 10 wounded.
    • Luckner and his hussars dispersed a body of 200 hussars and 60 dismounted troopers, capturing 66 of them. S
  • Prussians
    • A Prussian detachment re-entered Halberstadt. It was the advanced guard of Prince Henry's Corps (18,000 men).


References

This article is essentially a compilation of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  1. Hotham (probably): The operations of the Allied Amy under the command of his Serene Highness Prince Ferdinand Duke of Brunswic and Luneberg beginning in the year 1757 and ending in the year 1762, London: T. Jefferies, 1764, pp. 2-17, 21
  2. Jomini, Henri: Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 1-5
  3. Anonymous: A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 201-206, 217-221, 242-244
  4. Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 118-127
  5. Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 6 Leuthen, Berlin, 1904, pp. 76-86
  6. Carlyle, T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 18
  7. Archenholz, J. W.: The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 79-85, 103, 124, 209

Other sources

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Rohan Chabot, Alix de: Le Maréchal de Belle Isle ou la revanche de Foucquet, Perrin, Paris, 2005