Difference between revisions of "1757 - Franco-Imperial invasion of Saxony"

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(Added info from the work of the Grosser Generalstab about the campaign of 1757)
(Added info from the work of the Grosser Generalstab about the campaign of 1757)
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==Description==
 
==Description==
 +
Since mid-September 1756, prudent negotiations were conducted with the [[Holy Roman Empire]] to obtain its support for [[Austria]] and [[Saxony]] against [[Prussia]].
 +
 +
On January 17 1757, the Imperial Diet assembled in Regensburg resolved to arm in support of Austria. Troops should be ready at the end of March between Nuremberg and Würzburg.
 
===Raising of the Reichsarmee===
 
===Raising of the Reichsarmee===
On January 29 1757, it was decided that the [[Holy Roman Empire]] would supply triple contingents.  
+
On January 29 1757, it was decided that the Holy Roman Empire would supply triple contingents.  
  
 
On March 17, the Imperial Diet put [[Frederick II]] of [[Prussia]] to the ban of the Empire and ordered the [[Reichsarmee]] (Reich Execution Army) to march against him.
 
On March 17, the Imperial Diet put [[Frederick II]] of [[Prussia]] to the ban of the Empire and ordered the [[Reichsarmee]] (Reich Execution Army) to march against him.
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On June 15, the [[Soubise, Charles de Rohan, prince de|Prince de Soubise]] quitted the French main army operating in Westphalia for Versailles to receive new instructions.
 
On June 15, the [[Soubise, Charles de Rohan, prince de|Prince de Soubise]] quitted the French main army operating in Westphalia for Versailles to receive new instructions.
  
In the last days of June, the Reichsarmee assembled at Fürth near Nuremberg, encamping between Fürth and Farrnbach (present-day Burgfarrnbach), on the east side of the Regnitz River. It was placed under the command of the Duke of Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
+
On June 19, the Duke of Sachsen-Hildburghausen assumed command of the Reichsarmee and set off to join his troops.
 +
 
 +
On June 27, Hildburghausen arrived at Nuremberg.
 +
 
 +
In the last days of June, the Reichsarmee assembled at Fürth near Nuremberg, encamping between Fürth and Farrnbach (present-day Burgfarrnbach), on the east side of the Regnitz River.
  
 
===A Second French Army enters Germany===
 
===A Second French Army enters Germany===
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[[Saint-Germain, Claude-Louis, Comte de|Saint-Germain]] was sent forward to Fürth to discuss with Hildburghausen on the junction and the services of both armies.
 
[[Saint-Germain, Claude-Louis, Comte de|Saint-Germain]] was sent forward to Fürth to discuss with Hildburghausen on the junction and the services of both armies.
 +
 +
On July 5, Hildburghausen established his headquarters at Fürth. The Reichsarmee began to assemble in a camp between Fürth and Pfarrbach.
 +
 +
On July 9, when Hildburghausen heard that the Prussian detachments (under Major-General von Oldenburg and Lieutenant-Colonel von Mayr) conducting [[1757 - Prussian incursions in Franconia and Thuringia|incursions in Franconia and Thuringia]] were retiring towards Saxony, he ordered the Franconian Contingent to join his army at Fürth.
  
 
On July 27, Soubise was instructed to take possession of the County of Hanau and to sojourn in this county until his march to Thuringia.
 
On July 27, Soubise was instructed to take possession of the County of Hanau and to sojourn in this county until his march to Thuringia.
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On August 20, Soubise quitted Fulda, leaving M. de Mailly behind to occupy the town. He then joined Nicolaï and [[Piémont Infanterie]] at Eisenach.
 
On August 20, Soubise quitted Fulda, leaving M. de Mailly behind to occupy the town. He then joined Nicolaï and [[Piémont Infanterie]] at Eisenach.
 +
 +
Around August 21, the Austrian [[Bretlach Cuirassiers]] and [[Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers]] arrived at the camp of the Reichsarmee near Fürth to reinforce this army which was notoriously weak in cavalry.
 +
 +
Shortly afterwards, the Austrian [[Szechényi Hussars]] and [[Splényi Hussars]]; the Swabian [[Kreisinfanterieregiment Württemberg]]; Loudon's detachment; [[Kurköln Leibregiment]] and [[Kurköln Wildenstein Infantry]]; [[Mengersen Infantry]] of Paderborn; [[Elverfeldt Infantry]] and [[Nagel Infantry]] from Münster; and the [[Reichsreserveartillerie]] gradually arrived at the camp of Fürth. Overall, from the arrival of the first Franconian troops at Fürth to the arrival of the infantry regiments from Münster, eleven weeks had passed...
  
 
To march from Eisenach to Erfurt, Soubise's Army passed by Gotha which was still garrisoned by 1 bn and a few horse belonging to the Duke of Sachsen-Gotha whose allegiance was doubtful. Soubise required that the militia would be disarmed, regular troops disbanded and all weapons taken.
 
To march from Eisenach to Erfurt, Soubise's Army passed by Gotha which was still garrisoned by 1 bn and a few horse belonging to the Duke of Sachsen-Gotha whose allegiance was doubtful. Soubise required that the militia would be disarmed, regular troops disbanded and all weapons taken.
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*Franco-Imperials
 
*Franco-Imperials
 
**[[Szechényi Hussars]] advanced once more on Gotha but were repulsed with losses at Trügleben. **In the Franco-Imperial camp at Eisenach, Hildburghausen and Soubise were informed of the recent presence of Frederick at Gotha. Hildburghausen recommended a reconnaissance in force towards Gotha and Soubise agreed with this proposal.
 
**[[Szechényi Hussars]] advanced once more on Gotha but were repulsed with losses at Trügleben. **In the Franco-Imperial camp at Eisenach, Hildburghausen and Soubise were informed of the recent presence of Frederick at Gotha. Hildburghausen recommended a reconnaissance in force towards Gotha and Soubise agreed with this proposal.
**The second column of the Reichsarmee finally reached Eisenach. The heavy baggage of the two columns had been left behind at Meiningen under the protection of 3 bns (including [[Nagel Infantry]] who arrived only on September 20) and 11 sqns. Throughout their march, the two columns of the Reichsarmee had suffered from a lack of provisions. However, after their arrival at the camp of Eisenach they received steady supplies. The Reichsarmee now consisted (including Loudon's Corps of 6 Grenzer bns and 3 hussar sqns) of 42 bns, 34 grenadier coys and 48 sqns for a total of approx. 32,000 men). If we exclude the 3 bns and 11 sqns left at Meiningen, [[Kurmainz Infantry]] which was still in Erfurt and [[Salzburg Infantry]], in Nuremberg, there were 34 bns, 28 grenadier coys and 37 sqns at the camp of Eisenach. Once combined, the Franco-Imperial army numbered more than 50,000 men.  
+
**The second column of the Reichsarmee finally reached Eisenach. The heavy baggage of the two columns had been left behind at Meiningen under the protection of 3 bns (including [[Nagel Infantry]] who arrived only on September 20) and 11 sqns. Throughout their march, the two columns of the Reichsarmee had suffered from a lack of provisions. However, after their arrival at the camp of Eisenach they received steady supplies. The Reichsarmee now consisted (including Loudon's Corps of 6 Grenzer bns and 3 hussar sqns) of 42 bns, 34 grenadier coys and 48 sqns (including 2 carabinier coys) for a total of approx. 32,000 men). If we exclude the 3 bns and 11 sqns left at Meiningen, [[Kurmainz Infantry]] which was still in Erfurt and [[Salzburg Infantry]], in Nuremberg, there were 34 bns, 28 grenadier coys and 37 sqns at the camp of Eisenach. Once combined, the Franco-Imperial army numbered more than 50,000 men. There were also 62 regimental pieces (including two small 3-pdr “Geschwindschüsse” supplied to the Grenzer light troops on September 14 at Gotha and returned to the arsenal in October), 12 pieces (10 x 3-pdr guns, 2 x 12-pdr howitzer with 8 ammunition wagons and 10 ammunition carts) of the [[Reichsreserveartillerie]].
 
*Prussians
 
*Prussians
 
**Frederick relocated his headquarters in Kerspleben.
 
**Frederick relocated his headquarters in Kerspleben.
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Wednesday November 2 in the morning, the Franco-Imperial Army (now counting some 50 to 60,000 men) gathered its guns and abandoned the defence of the Saale. It retired landwards to the higher grounds and got into order of battle near the village of Mücheln where Soubise, Saint-Germain, Custine and Prince Camille effected a junction. Meanwhile, Hildburghausen marched from Schortau but did not manage to make his junction before nightfall. The same day, Keith and Ferdinand seized this opportunity to rebuild their bridges.
 
Wednesday November 2 in the morning, the Franco-Imperial Army (now counting some 50 to 60,000 men) gathered its guns and abandoned the defence of the Saale. It retired landwards to the higher grounds and got into order of battle near the village of Mücheln where Soubise, Saint-Germain, Custine and Prince Camille effected a junction. Meanwhile, Hildburghausen marched from Schortau but did not manage to make his junction before nightfall. The same day, Keith and Ferdinand seized this opportunity to rebuild their bridges.
  
On November 3, Hildburghausen effected a junction with Soubise's Army. The same day, Keith and Ferdinand both completed the crossing of the Saale and formed a junction with Frederick at Braunsdorf, in close neighbourhood to Mücheln. The united Prussian army counted only 22,000 men. Frederick reconnoitred the Franco-Imperial positions and found that he could attack very early the following day. However, later the same day, the Franco-Imperial Army reorganized its positions: its left anchored on the ravine of Mücheln and its right to a wood.  
+
On November 3
 +
*Franco-Imperials
 +
**Hildburghausen effected a junction with Soubise's Army.
 +
**The first troops of the Upper-Saxony Contingent, who had left at the end of October, finally joined the Reichsarmee.
 +
*Prussians
 +
**Keith and Ferdinand both completed the crossing of the Saale and formed a junction with Frederick at Braunsdorf, in close neighbourhood to Mücheln. The united Prussian army counted only 22,000 men.  
 +
**Frederick reconnoitred the Franco-Imperial positions and found that he could attack very early the following day. However, later the same day, the Franco-Imperial Army reorganized its positions: its left anchored on the ravine of Mücheln and its right to a wood.  
  
 
On November 4 about 2:00 a.m., with a bright moon shining, Frederick was on the march with his army towards Mücheln. However, he soon discovered that the Franco-Imperials had shifted their position, pivoting on their axis. Their new position was much stronger. Frederick then decided to return to his camp. Some Allied batteries slightly cannonaded one of his wing. Frederick rearranged his position: his left wing was now at Rossbach and his right at Bedra (probably Braunsbedra). He calculated that the Franco-Imperials would suffer from lack of supplies before his own army.
 
On November 4 about 2:00 a.m., with a bright moon shining, Frederick was on the march with his army towards Mücheln. However, he soon discovered that the Franco-Imperials had shifted their position, pivoting on their axis. Their new position was much stronger. Frederick then decided to return to his camp. Some Allied batteries slightly cannonaded one of his wing. Frederick rearranged his position: his left wing was now at Rossbach and his right at Bedra (probably Braunsbedra). He calculated that the Franco-Imperials would suffer from lack of supplies before his own army.
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*Archenholz, J. W.: ''The History of the Seven Years War in Germany'', translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 104-119
 
*Archenholz, J. W.: ''The History of the Seven Years War in Germany'', translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 104-119
 
*Carlyle, T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 18
 
*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. 5 ''Hastenbeck und Roßbach'', Berlin, 1903, pp. 121-147
+
*Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: ''Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen'', Part 3 ''Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763'', Vol. 5 ''Hastenbeck und Roßbach'', Berlin, 1903, pp. 20-25, 121-147
 
*Hotham: ''The operations of the Allied Army 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
 
*Hotham: ''The operations of the Allied Army 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
 
*Janko, Edler v.: ''Laudon´s Leben'', Vienna, 1869
 
*Janko, Edler v.: ''Laudon´s Leben'', Vienna, 1869

Revision as of 16:05, 22 November 2017

Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1757 - Franco-Imperial invasion of Saxony

The campaign lasted from August to November 1757

Description

Since mid-September 1756, prudent negotiations were conducted with the Holy Roman Empire to obtain its support for Austria and Saxony against Prussia.

On January 17 1757, the Imperial Diet assembled in Regensburg resolved to arm in support of Austria. Troops should be ready at the end of March between Nuremberg and Würzburg.

Raising of the Reichsarmee

On January 29 1757, it was decided that the Holy Roman Empire would supply triple contingents.

On March 17, the Imperial Diet put Frederick II of Prussia to the ban of the Empire and ordered the Reichsarmee (Reich Execution Army) to march against him.

In May-June, there was busy preparation and enlistment all over the Holy Roman Empire.

On June 15, the Prince de Soubise quitted the French main army operating in Westphalia for Versailles to receive new instructions.

On June 19, the Duke of Sachsen-Hildburghausen assumed command of the Reichsarmee and set off to join his troops.

On June 27, Hildburghausen arrived at Nuremberg.

In the last days of June, the Reichsarmee assembled at Fürth near Nuremberg, encamping between Fürth and Farrnbach (present-day Burgfarrnbach), on the east side of the Regnitz River.

A Second French Army enters Germany

At Versailles, Soubise received orders to effect a junction with the Reichsarmee near Erfurt where he would place himself under the command of Hildburghausen. Initially, the French only planned to occupy the line of the Saale River and then to prepare for the siege of Magdeburg, a fortress belonging to the Kingdom of Prussia.

Meanwhile, the elements of a second French army, under the Prince de Soubise, departed from Fort Saint-Louis and Strasbourg in Alsace and from Ohmen (unidentified location) and Oppenheim in Rhine-Hesse.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of Soubise's French army on July 3 1757

By July 3, Soubise's Army (31 bns, 22 sqns, 1 artillery bn, 600 artillery horses, 40 pieces, Boisgnerelle Miner coy and Dugué Worker coy for a total effective strength of approximately 24,000 men) was supposed to be assembled at Strasbourg. It crossed the Rhine in Frankfurt country all through July.

Saint-Germain was sent forward to Fürth to discuss with Hildburghausen on the junction and the services of both armies.

On July 5, Hildburghausen established his headquarters at Fürth. The Reichsarmee began to assemble in a camp between Fürth and Pfarrbach.

On July 9, when Hildburghausen heard that the Prussian detachments (under Major-General von Oldenburg and Lieutenant-Colonel von Mayr) conducting incursions in Franconia and Thuringia were retiring towards Saxony, he ordered the Franconian Contingent to join his army at Fürth.

On July 27, Soubise was instructed to take possession of the County of Hanau and to sojourn in this county until his march to Thuringia.

Soubise marched north-eastward from Strasbourg and Fort Louis to Hanau, passing by Rastatt, Grünwinkel, Bruchsal, Wiesloch, Heidelberg, Weinheim, Heppenheim, Zwingenberg, Eberstadt, Dieburg and Aschaffenburg; a march of about 250 km. His main body was preceded by a vanguard (8 bns, 1 cavalry rgt, 2 pieces) under Nicolaï.

On July 28, Nicolaï reached Mainz.

On July 31, the corps destined to take possession of Hanau arrived in front of the town. Nicolaï advanced on the town at the head of Piémont Infanterie to summon it to surrender. The town having no garrison quickly surrendered.

At the end of July, the Reichsarmee asking for a reinforcement of light troops, Colonel G. Loudon was appointed commander of a corps of 4,000 Austrian light troops (from Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer, Karlstädter-Oguliner Grenzer, Karlstädter-Ottochaner Grenzer and Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 2, 2 grenadier coys and 2 hussar rgts (Szechényi Hussars and Splényi Hussars). The corps concentrated at Altenberg and was despatched towards Saxony.

At the beginning of August, Loudon was informed by a deserter that a Prussian corps under General Itzenplitz was encamped at Gottleuba (present-day Gottleuba-Berggießhübel). Loudon advanced with his small corps to Hellendorf (present-day part of Gottleuba-Berggießhübel).

On August 2, Soubise arrived at Hanau while his army marched towards Erfurt. Finally the requests of the Court of Vienna were so pressing that Versailles decided to send troops immediately forwards to Erfurt as they were arriving at Hanau. All these bodies marched through the Kinzig Valley to Fulda by Langenselbold, Gelnhausen, Salmünster, Schlüchtern and Neuhof.

On August 5, the Austrian Court sent orders to Hildburghausen to march towards Erfurt with the Reichsarmee (30 bns, 23 grenadier coys, 19 sqns for a total of 20,201 men including 1,700 horse) and to effect a junction with Soubise's Army.

On August 8

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Bishop of Bamberg came at Fürth to take survey of the Reichsarmee.
    • Early on the morning, Loudon surprised the Prussians defending a redoubt at Gottleuba. The Erbprinz von Hessen-Darmstadt Infantry, which defended the entrenchments was driven back, losing 40 killed and 133 wounded while 100 men deserted. Furthermore, Loudon captured 4 guns. For his part, Loudon lost 21 men killed and 52 wounded. General Itzenplitz soon received the support of 3 grenadier bns despatched from Gießhübel (present-day Berggießhübel) and Loudon retired. He was forced to abandon 3 of the captured guns for lack of horses.

By August 11

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Reichsarmee, under the Prince of Hildburghausen, was preparing to get on march westward. No part of this army was well drilled. In fact, most of it was not drilled at all. In theory, this army should have far exceeded 50,000 men but, on the field, it barely reached the 20,000 mark. Austria additionally supplied 8,000 good troops, among them two regiments of cuirassiers: (Bretlach and Trauttmansdorff).
    • The vanguard (9 bns, 6 grenadier coys, 5 sqns) of the Reichsarmee under FML Prince Georg Wilhelm von Hessen-Darmstadt set off from Fürth towards Erfurt by Koburg and Arnstadt.

On August 15, Soubise personally left Hanau for Fulda.

On August 17

On August 20, Soubise quitted Fulda, leaving M. de Mailly behind to occupy the town. He then joined Nicolaï and Piémont Infanterie at Eisenach.

Around August 21, the Austrian Bretlach Cuirassiers and Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers arrived at the camp of the Reichsarmee near Fürth to reinforce this army which was notoriously weak in cavalry.

Shortly afterwards, the Austrian Szechényi Hussars and Splényi Hussars; the Swabian Kreisinfanterieregiment Württemberg; Loudon's detachment; Kurköln Leibregiment and Kurköln Wildenstein Infantry; Mengersen Infantry of Paderborn; Elverfeldt Infantry and Nagel Infantry from Münster; and the Reichsreserveartillerie gradually arrived at the camp of Fürth. Overall, from the arrival of the first Franconian troops at Fürth to the arrival of the infantry regiments from Münster, eleven weeks had passed...

To march from Eisenach to Erfurt, Soubise's Army passed by Gotha which was still garrisoned by 1 bn and a few horse belonging to the Duke of Sachsen-Gotha whose allegiance was doubtful. Soubise required that the militia would be disarmed, regular troops disbanded and all weapons taken.

On August 23

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen personally marched from Fürth near Nuremberg at the head of the first line of the Reichsarmee towards Erfurt by Erlangen, Bamberg, Meiningen and Schmalkalden.
    • Salzburg Infantry was left in Nuremberg as garrison.
    • The first column of French troops arrived at Erfurt while the last column with the heavy artillery had just crossed the Neckar at Heidelberg.

On August 24, Loudon sent Major Nostrowitzky with some hussars towards Meissen to destroy Prussian magazines.

Frederick II has to rush to Saxony from Silesia

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of Frederick's Prussian army on August 25 1757

On August 25

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise left Gotha to march towards Erfurt. Upon their arrival at Erfurt, 2 bns of Piémont Infanterie entered into the town where they joined Blau Würzburg Infantry and 1 bn of the Austrian Gaisruck Infantry.
    • The second line of the Reichsarmee marched from Fürth under the command of FZM Prince von Baden-Durlach.
    • Hildburghausen, informed of the depredations of Soubise's Army in Gotha, Eisenach and Erfurt, hastened to reach Erfurt. Soubise met him in Erfurt but refused, allegedly as instructed from Paris, to recognize Hildburghausen as commander-in-chief of the combined armies. Hildburghausen was also informed by Austrian envoys that Frederick was on the march towards Thuringia at the head of 20,000 men.
    • In Vienna, Empress Maria Theresia issued a decree to promote Loudon to General-Feldwachtmeister (major-general). Unfortunately the courier carrying this document was later intercepted by a Prussian patrol. Frederick II sent a trumpeter to transmit the document to Loudon with his personal congratulations (!).
  • Prussians
    • On August 25, Frederick II marched from Bernstadt auf dem Eigen in the Görlitz Country for Thuringia with a sizeable force (12 bns, 18 sqns), leaving the Duke of Braunschweig-Bevern and Winterfeldt to command the holding force in Silesia.

On his way, Frederick was reinforced by 4 bns and 5 sqns who had been escorting a convoy between Bautzen and Bernstadt.

Between August 23 and September 6, French units joined the Reichsarmee at Erfurt and Eisenach.

On August 26, the vanguard of the Reichsarmee (9 bns and 1 dragoon rgt) under Prince Georg of Hessen-Darmstadt reached Arnstadt where it stopped according to Hildburghausen's orders.

On August 27

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Szechényi's Hussar Brigade occupied Magdala and Mellingen to the east of Arnstadt.
    • The 5 approaching bns of the Electorate of Cologne and of Westphalia received orders to march to Meiningen

On August 27, Frederick reached Groß-Harthau.

On August 28

  • Prussians
    • Frederick's Corps rested at Groß-Harthau.
    • Prince Moritz, still encamped near Groß-Sedlitz, received orders from Frederick instructing him to retire to Dresden where he would effect a junction with his own a corps. On his way, he had to gather some pontoons at Pirna.
    • Frederick was informed that the French army had driven Cumberland's army back to the sea. Finck also sent news from Dresden informing Frederick that some 16,000 French had taken position between Gotha and Eisenach while 16,000 men of the Reichsarmee should march from Fürth towards Saalfeld; and that French hussars were already roaming the area of Leipzig. Frederick hoped to offer battle to the Franco-Imperial army on August 31 or September 1.

On Monday August 29

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The second column of the Reichsarmee was near Bamberg.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick arrived in Dresden where he incorporated Moritz's force (III. and IV./Garrison Regiment VII von Lange (2 bns)) into his own. Frederick was now at the head of a force of about 23,000 men (16,800 foot, 5,160 horse, 400 artillerymen). More precisely, this force consisted of 31 bns and 45 sqns, all seriously depleted from the previous battles at Prague and Kolin as well as by desertion. On average, each infantry battalion counted about 600 men while each cavalry squadron averaged some 120 men.
    • In Dresden, Frederick was informed that the French had occupied Merseburg and Gotha; while Loudon was raiding the vicinities of Leipzig after capturing the magazines of Borna, Grimma and Eilenburg.
    • Major-General Hauß, who commanded in Leipzig, feared encirclement. Frederick immediately detached Seydlitz with 10 sqns (Katte Dragoons (5 sqns) and Szekely Hussars (5 sqns)) to search for a party of hussars under Turpin who was threatening Leipzig and Halle.
    • Frederick was now ready to head towards Thuringia and offer battle to the Franco-Imperial Army.

On Tuesday August 30

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Loudon planned to effect a junction with Turpin Hussards led by Colonel Lancelot Comte Turpin de Crissé near Weissenberg. However, Loudon was informed that Frederick II intended to cross the Elbe River and decided to return to Freiberg. Turpin asked once more to Loudon to join him so Loudon and General Szechényi at the head of the hussars set off from Freiberg.
  • Prussians

On August 31

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Franco-Imperials had no troops in the region of Dresden at that time to the exception of Loudon's light troops which fell back on the main army as Frederick approached.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick marched with his vanguard (now 8 bns, 15 sqns, 12 heavy pieces and 38 pontoon-wagons). Freibataillon Mayr had the vanguard and accompanied the king. Frederick's destination was Erfurt, a march of some 275 km by Topschadel, Döbeln, Grimma on the Mulda, Rötha and Pegau.
    • Keith followed with the remainder of the army with Ferdinand and Moritz following in several columns.

N.B.: it seems that, by this date, the only Grenzer unit still attached to Loudon's detachment was the Karlstädter-Ottochaner Grenzer, the other units being reported at Moys on the Silesian border on September 7. Another possibility is that only part of each of these regiments were with Loudon.

On September 2, Seydlitz reached Leipzig. Upon his approach, Turpin quickly retreated.

On September 2, Loudon reached Borna with his light troops.

On September 3, Frederick sent Freibataillon Mayr and 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars to reinforce Seydlitz at Leipzig.

On September 4

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Szechényi's Hussar Brigade, who had been sent to reconnoitre the eastern bank of the Saale, reached Altenburg where it received orders from Hildburghausen to effect a junction with Loudon's Light Corps and to secure the bridges on the Elster at Zeitz and Pegau.
    • Turpin retired towards Richelieu's main body.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick reached Grimma on the Mulde with his vanguard.
    • The main body under Keith reached Polditz.
    • Heavy artillery, bridging equipment, baggage and provisions followed at a slower pace, escorted by 7 bns to protect them against Loudon's raids.
    • All unnecessary baggage was sent to Torgau. The very arduous marches had been effected under continuous rain. Conditions were so difficult for the troops that more than 1,000 men deserted in three days.

On September 5

  • Prussians
    • The vanguard marched to Rötha, to the south of Leipzig (the eighth stage from Dresden).
    • The main body reached Grimma.

On September 6

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Loudon's Light Corps reached Weissenfels. Part of this corps had marched along the left flank of Frederick's Army. Splényi Hussars had been left behind in Treben south of Borna. Szechényi Hussars took position at Zeitz, leaving 200 hussars at Pegau.
    • Soubise's Army had now gradually reached Erfurt in eight columns. It totalled 20 bns and 10 sqns (a total of 24,000 men including 4,000 Bavarians and 6,000 Württembergers in French pay). The last column was expected in Erfurt on September 22. In French circles Soubise's Army was known as L'armée de la Dauphine or for shortness La Dauphine.
    • When Soubise was informed that Frederick was approaching, he initially wanted to relocate the assembly place further west at Eisenach but finally decided to maintain his positions, sending 4 sqns to secure the passage of the Saale at Kösen (present-day Bad Kösen). They destroyed the bridge at Kamburg (unidentified location).
    • Hildburghausen let Blau Würzburg Infantry advance from Erfurt to Buttstädt from where its 2 grenadier coys were detached to Kösen.
    • Soubise was at Erfurt where he was informed that Loudon had reached Weissenfels with Grenzer troops and had made a junction with Szechényi Hussars (3 sqns) and Splényi Hussars (3 sqns) serving under Szechényi in the Reichsarmee.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick's Army rested, allowing the heavy artillery and provisions to catch up.
    • Frederick, informed that there were no enemy detachments around Leipzig, sent Retzow there with the provision wagons to bake bread for the army.
    • Seydlitz informed Frederick that the detachments, which he had sent to reconnoitre the Saale, had come to contact with French hussars.
    • From Rötha, Frederick wrote to the Maréchal Duc de Richelieu, suing for peace. A request that remained unanswered by the French Court.

On September 7

On September 8

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise recalled the French cavalry posted at Kösen to Erfurt.
    • Loudon occupied Kösen.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced to Unternessa with his vanguard.
    • Keith crossed the Pleisse and the Weisser Elster with the main body and encamped at Pegau.
    • Major von Kleist was sent to reconnoitre in the direction of Weissenfels with 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars. He found that Loudon had evacuated the town and that the bridge had been broken. However, the inhabitants rapidly re-established this bridge.

On September 9

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Szechényi retired to Kösen where Loudon was already posted. During Szechényi's retreat, 1 officer and 20 men of his rearguard were taken prisoners. Loudon and Szechényi remained near Kösen on the heights west of the Saale till nightfall.
    • The first column of the Reichsarmee reached Mehlis to the north-east of Meiningen. Meanwhile, the second column reached Saalfeld.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced to Naumburg with his vanguard.
    • The main body advanced to Wernsdorf, Obernessa and Unternessa.
    • Frederick threw troops in the town of Altenburg and detached troops to occupy the heights near Schulpforte.

In the night of September 9 to 10, Loudon and Szechényi retired to Buttelstedt.

On September 10

  • Prussians
    • 5 bns, the hussars and the dragoons crossed the Saale at Naumburg on a trestle bridge, by a ford near Altenburg and on the bridge at Kösen. They occupied Pomnitz and Niedermöllern.
    • Frederick ceded command to Prince Heinrich and returned to Naumburg.
    • Keith encamped south-west of Naumburg with the main body.

In the night of September 10 to 11, Soubise retired from Erfurt towards Eisenach. Hildburghausen had no choice but to follow his retreat. Loudon and Szechényi acted as rearguard.

On September 11

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghasen marched to Eisenach.
    • Prince Georg marched from Arnstadt to Waltershausen.
    • Loudon and Szechely reached Erfurt.
    • Splényi Hussars retired from Krossen by Jena to Weimar.
    • Soubise reached Gotha under continuous rain and sent some dragoons to Langensalza.
    • Informed of the situation, Richelieu, ordered to his main army to advance on Brunswick and Wolfenbüttel.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick marched to Braunsroda with his vanguard.
    • The main body followed along the Saale and encamped west of Kösen.
    • Frederick learned that Soubise's Army had retired from Erfurt to Gotha on its way to Eisenach. Frederick considered that his army was not strong enough to attack Soubise in an entrenched camp. He resolved to divide his army in three corps:
      • a corps under his own command who would remain at Erfurt
      • a corps under Prince Moritz who should cover Torgau and the Mark against Austrian incursions
      • a corps under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick who should advance against Richelieu's troops in the territory of Halberstadt.

On September 12

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The first column of the Reichsarmee marched from Mehlis towards Eisenach.
    • Loudon, realizing that Turpin had already retreated, effected a junction with the Reichsarmee.
    • Splényi Hussars arrived at Erfurt.
    • The French captured the Fortress of Regenstein in the territory of Halberstadt.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick reached the vicinities of Krautheim and Buttelstedt with his vanguard.
    • Keith, according to Frederick's instructions, left 6 bns (Alt-Braunschweig, Hülsen and Anhalt-Dessau) and 10 sqns (Leibregiment zu Pferde and Driesen Cuirassiers) in and around Eckartsberga under Major-General Baron Schönaich and marched with the rest of the main body to a camp between Buttstädt and Mannstedt. The mortars and the wagons of the heavy artillery remained in Naumburg.
    • Frederick received confirmation of the intervention of a corps from Richelieu's Army in the territory of Halberstadt.

The Franco-Imperial Army retreats to Eisenach Hills

Frederick was now facing a dilemma. He could not pursue the retreating Franco-Imperial without moving dangerously away from Bevern's Army left in the Görlitz area. Furthermore, some detachments from Richelieu's Army were committing depredations in the area of Magdeburg and Halberstadt to the north of Erfurt, requiring the intervention of Prussian troops.

On September 13

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise's Army retired from Gotha to Mechterstädt, the largest part of the army reaching Eisenach.
    • Szechényi with his hussar brigade and with the Volontaires de Nassau-Sarrebruck encamped west of Gotha with outposts near Erfurt.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced with 2 bns (Grenadier Battalion Lubath and Freibataillon Mayr) and 17 sqns (Meinicke Dragoons (5 sqns), Szekely Hussars (10 sqns) and Seydlitz Hussars (2 sqns)) from Neumark, near Buttelstedt, to Erfurt which he found occupied by 5 bns and by Szechényi's Hussar Brigade. Seydlitz took position with the hussars on a place to the east of Erfurt and form them in line to deceive the enemy about his real strength. His skirmishers opened fire on the gate. Szechényi's Brigade remained posted west of Erfurt for a while, then finally retired towards Gotha. The Franco-Imperial infantry retired from the walls of Erfurt. During this time, Frederick had reached the town at the head of Meinicke Dragoons. He gave orders to Seydlitz to summon Erfurt, the Cyriaksburg (an outwork south-west of Erfurt) and the Petersberg (the citadel of Erfurt) to surrender. Finally the garrison evacuated Erfurt, the Cyriaksburg and the Pertersberg and declared that it would remain neutral as long as the Prussians were in the area. Frederick was satisfied with these conditions. At 4:00 p.m., he entered in Erfurt with his dragoons and hussars. The burghers welcome him. Frederick left 1 bn and 10 sqns under Adjutant M. Grant to occupy Erfurt. The infantry took quarters in the vicinities of Kerspleben and the cavalry encamped. Frederick established his quarters in Ilversgehofen, some 3 km north of Erfurt.
    • Keith was ordered to march from Buttstädt with the rest of the heavy artillery and 3 bns (1 bn Grenadier Garde Battalion Retzow, 2 bns Forcade) towards Erfurt. However, 11 bns and 10 sqns remained under the command of Prince Moritz.
    • Moritz left Grenadier Battalion Wedell in Naumburg and marched with 10 bns (Grenadier Battalion Ramin, Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck, 2 bns Meyerinck, 2 bns Winterfeldt, 2 bns Kleist, 2 bns Goltz) and 10 sqns (Gens d'Armes, Rochow Cuirassiers) with four 12-pdrs by Naumburg and Wurzen towards Torgau and the Mark to cover the region from incursions of Marschall's Corps. If ever the Franco-Imperial marched against Moritz's Corps, Frederick planned to retire to Pegau and to recall Moritz's Corps. If everything was calm at Torgau, Moritz should retire to Wurzen to cover the magazines at Torgau.
    • Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick received orders to advance towards Halberstadt with the 6 bns, 11 sqns (including 1 sqn of Seydlitz Hussars) and four 12-pdrs posted at Eckatsberga and to drive back Fischer's Corps and protect the region against French depredations.

On September 14

By mid September, Bercheny was encamped near Kassel with a French Corps. He sent a detachment of Turpin Hussards from Witzenhausen to Ollendorf to reconnoitre towards Langensalza.

On September 15

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The first column of the Reichsarmee established its camp at Eisenach.
    • Upon Frederick's approach, Szechényi retired to Mechterstädt where he effected a junction with Loudon's Corps.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced on Gotha with 21 sqns (a mixed force of dragoons and hussars). Seydlitz, who led the Prussian hussars, engaged Szechényi's outposts at Siebleber and pursued them beyond Gotha.
    • Frederick entered into Gotha at the head of Meinicke Dragoons. During a dinner with the Duke, he was informed that the Franco-Imperial army was strongly entrenched at Eisenach and that Prince Georg von Hessen was still on his way between Arnstadt and Schmalkalden with a column of the Reichsarmee.
    • At 6:00 p.m., Frederick retired to Gamstädt near Erfurt, leaving Seydlitz to occupy Gotha with a detachment of 5 squadrons of Meinicke Dragoons.

On September 16

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The last French column arrived at Eisenach from Strasbourg. Soubise's French Army then counted 24,000 men, including 3,300 cavalrymen.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick returned to his headquarters at Dittelstedt, leaving Katte Dragoons at Gamstädt and the 10 squadrons of Szekely Hussars in a camp on the Galgenberg west of Gotha.

On September 17

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Szechényi Hussars advanced once more on Gotha but were repulsed with losses at Trügleben. **In the Franco-Imperial camp at Eisenach, Hildburghausen and Soubise were informed of the recent presence of Frederick at Gotha. Hildburghausen recommended a reconnaissance in force towards Gotha and Soubise agreed with this proposal.
    • The second column of the Reichsarmee finally reached Eisenach. The heavy baggage of the two columns had been left behind at Meiningen under the protection of 3 bns (including Nagel Infantry who arrived only on September 20) and 11 sqns. Throughout their march, the two columns of the Reichsarmee had suffered from a lack of provisions. However, after their arrival at the camp of Eisenach they received steady supplies. The Reichsarmee now consisted (including Loudon's Corps of 6 Grenzer bns and 3 hussar sqns) of 42 bns, 34 grenadier coys and 48 sqns (including 2 carabinier coys) for a total of approx. 32,000 men). If we exclude the 3 bns and 11 sqns left at Meiningen, Kurmainz Infantry which was still in Erfurt and Salzburg Infantry, in Nuremberg, there were 34 bns, 28 grenadier coys and 37 sqns at the camp of Eisenach. Once combined, the Franco-Imperial army numbered more than 50,000 men. There were also 62 regimental pieces (including two small 3-pdr “Geschwindschüsse” supplied to the Grenzer light troops on September 14 at Gotha and returned to the arsenal in October), 12 pieces (10 x 3-pdr guns, 2 x 12-pdr howitzer with 8 ammunition wagons and 10 ammunition carts) of the Reichsreserveartillerie.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick relocated his headquarters in Kerspleben.

The camps of Soubise's French army and of the Reichsarmee were both located on the left bank of the Hörsel near Eisenach. The German cavalry was posted north of the Hörsel. The infantry of the Reichsarmee was encamped on the heights south-east and south of Eisenach. The camp of the French infantry extended from the road leading to Marksuhl north-westwards on the heights between Klausberg and Rangenhof. The cavalry was posted across the road to Marksuhl. There were also outposts on the southern side of the Hörsel Valley up to Wartha. The two camps were strongly entrenched.

Soubise considered that the Reichsarmee was too weak to allow him to face Frederick and planned to retreat north-westwards to Kassel. Hildburghausen for his part advocated to take position at Erfurt.

In the night of September 17 to 18, some Franco-Imperial troops marched to Mechterstädt where they joined the 2 Austrian hussar rgts (Szechényi Hussars and Splényi Hussars) along with Volontaires de Nassau-Sarrebruck, under M. de Wurmser, and Loudon's Grenzers.

On September 18

  • Franco-Imperials
    • 3 French bns sent by Bercheny reached Eschwege. Bercheny also kept an infantry detachment and 10 sqns ready to come to Soubise's support.
    • At 8:00 p.m., Soubise and Hildburghausen personally accompanied 30 sqns (including Turpin Hussards), 40 grenadier coys and 13 artillery pieces from their camp at Eisenach. This corps effected a junction with Szechényi's 14 sqns (including Szechényi Hussars and Splényi Hussars) and half of Loudon's Corps at Mechterstädt and marched towards Gotha with the goal of retaking the town. The force now counted approx. 9,500 men.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz reached Wurzen, threw a pontoon-bridge across the Mulde and sent his vanguard to the opposite bank. Because he had no hussars, he took 100 men from each of his cuirassier rgts equipped them with light horses and used them for reconnaissance. At Wurzen, he was informed by Minister von Borcke that Hadik was marching with approx. 13,500 men by Radeburg and Grossenhain towards Kossdorf. Small Austrian parties were raiding up to Jüterbog so it was impossible to determine if Hadik's Corps was advancing on Torgau, Wittenberg or against the Mark. The same day, Moritz received a letter from Frederick instructing him to march without worry to Torgau if necessary and to observe movements on the right bank of the Elbe. Frederick planned to effect a junction with Moritz within eight days after repulsing the Franco-Imperial army.
    • A corps under Ferdinand of Brunswick was at Erfurt.

Action at Gotha

Prussian Hussars seize the baggage of the French officers near Gotha on September 19, 1757 - Source: Richard Knötel, 1895

On September 19, early in the morning, Soubise and Hildburghausen reached the heights near Aspach (unidentified location) and sent their hussars forward.

At 7:00 a.m., the Prussian hussar outpost at Trügleben spotted enemy cavalry on the neighbouring heights. Seydlitz alerted Meinicke Dragoons.

At 8:00 a.m., Soubise and Hildburghausen arrived near Gotha at the head of their vanguard. Their light troops forced the Prussian hussars to retire towards the dragoons of Seydlitz's detachment.

Seydlitz went to the Galgenberg from where he could see a strong corps following the Austrian hussars. He decided to evacuate Gotha and to retire eastwards to Gamstädt.

Seydlitz quickly evacuated Gotha at 9:00 a.m. From the Franco-Imperial force, only hussars went beyond Gotha but they soon halted and established outposts. The rest of this force took position between the road to Eisenach and the Krahnberg. Prince Georg von Hessen found open gates and entered into Gotha with 18 Imperial and French grenadier coys and 4 field pieces. Loudon's Grenzer light troops occupied the gardens to the east of the town.

By 11:00 a.m., the Prussian dragoons and hussars had retired from the area. Soubise and Hildburghausen then went to the Castle of Gotha and Soubise ordered his vanguard to retire to its camp at Mechterstädt and then progressively to Eisenach.

However, Seydlitz recalled the Katte Dragoons which were within reach of him. When they joined him at Tüttleben, Seydlitz thought himself sufficiently strong to attack the enemy. He artistically spread his force into single files on the prominent points of vision, deploying all his cavalry two ranks deep to deceive the enemy on his real strength (approx. 600 men of Szekely Hussars, 600 men of Katte Dragoons and 690 men of Meinicke Dragoons). A few coys dismounted and took position between sqns to give the impression that his force also included infantry.

Seydlitz also sent a dragoon, acting as a deserter, and a few peasants to Gotha where they declared that Frederick was advancing on Gotha with his entire army.

Seydlitz then advanced to the heights north of Siebleben with Szekely Hussars in first line, Meinicke Dragoons in second line and Katte Dragoons in third line. His detachment looked more like 15,000 than 2,000. His hussars soon engaged the outposts and alarm spread to the town.

Soubise and Hildburghausen did not plan to remain in Gotha with their entire force (their infantry had left their knapsacks at Eisenach) but intended to leave some troops in the town. They were having breakfast at the castle when they received news of the advance of Prussian troops. They could even see them from the castle deployed on the heights of Siebleben.

The Grenzer light troops posted in the gardens fired a salvo on Szekely Hussars and, despite their numerical superiority, retired towards the Krahnberg. Szekely Hussars broke open the Erfurter Gate and the Sieblebener Gate, entered into the town, attacked the castle and drove out four grenadier companies who were posted in it. Besides that, Seydlitz's hussars could hardly get a stroke at the enemy. They caught 51 privates and six officers, killed 30 and captured a lot of equipment

The pursuit ceased west of Gotha because the Franco-Imperial grenadiers had formed a large square.

Soubise and Hildburghausen immediately retreated with their force.

Map of the combat near Gotha on September 19 1757.
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab
In this action, the Prussians lost 2 men killed; 2 officers (Captain von Seydlitz of Szekely Hussars would soon die from his wounds) and 10 men wounded; and 13 hussars taken prisoners. For their part, the Franco-Imperials lost 30 men killed and their total losses was estimated at 200 men.

Seydlitz reoccupied Gotha and encamped his troops east of the town.

Troubles from everywhere for Frederick

On September 20

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise and Hildburghausen arrived in Eisenach with their force.
    • Soubise had difficulties to obtain provisions for his army.
    • Despite clear orders from Vienna and Versailles that Hildburghausen was the commander-in-chief of the Franco-Imperial Army, Soubise remained very jealous of his own authority.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz brought back his main body to the right bank of the Mulde and removed his pontoon-bridge. He was then informed that Marschall's Corps was marching towards the Mark.

On September 21

  • Franco-Imperials
    • In the evening, Szechényi reoccupied Gotha with 3 hussar rgts.
    • Loudon took position at Ichtershausen, north of Arnstadt.
  • Prussians
    • Seydlitz retired unmolested to Erfurt.
    • Moritz marched to Schildau.

On September 22

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise decided to postpone the general advance of the Franco-Imperial army until September 27.
    • The Reichsarmee did not receive bread.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz marched to Torgau.

Frederick was so despaired by the general situation that he seriously considered to commit suicide.

On September 24, Moritz informed Frederick that from Torgau he could spot only small Austrian parties on the left bank of the Elbe.

On September 25, the Franco-Imperial hussars and the Volontaires de l'armée who occupied Gotha, reported that they had spotted 14 Prussian sqns and some infantry marching from Erfurt to Gotha.

On September 26, Moritz was convinced that Marschall's Corps was still in the area of Bautzen and that there were no immediate threats for the magazines in Torgau or for the Mark.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of Soubise's French army on September 27 1757

On September 27, Soubise established a new camp facing east at Stockhausen, east of Eisenach. The Reichsarmee was deployed on the right wing, the French on the left.

On September 28

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Franco-Imperial Army debouched from Stockhausen towards Friedrichswerth.
    • Loudon, according to Hildburghausen's orders, marched from Ichtershausen to Rudolstadt to follow Frederick's probable line of retreat towards the Elbe.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick retired eastward to Buttelstedt to give his army better quarters.

On September 29, Saint-Germain sent M. de Rougé to occupy Gotha with 4 bns, 4 sqns and 4 pieces.

On September 30, the Franco-Imperial army advanced from Stockhausen in 4 columns and encamped at Friedrichswerth on the Nesse.

On October 1

On October 2

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Detachments were pushed up to Weimar.
    • Before ordering any further advance, Hildburghausen held a council of war. The unanimous opinion was that the Reichsarmee could not oppose the Prussians in the open field and that it would be better to wait for their attack in good prepared positions. Furthermore, a report requested by Soubise and signed by all French generals, suggested a position in which the supply of the army would be guaranteed.
  • Prussians
    • At daybreak, Seydlitz attacked 300 French hussars posted at Ollendorf, taking 1 captain and 48 men prisoners.

On October 3, Frederick retired to Buttstädt where he would remain encamped until October 10 without being in the least disturbed by the Franco-Imperial Army.

On October 4

  • Franco-Imperials
    • When Soubise heard of Frederick's retreat, he sent his vanguard under Saint-Germain to occupy Weimar.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick gave orders to Moritz to move closer to Naumburg.

On Octobe 5

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen marched to Erfurt at the head of 8 bns.
    • Soubise arrived at Erfurt.
    • Mailly marched to Gräfentonna with 2 cavalry brigades and 1 infantry brigade.
    • Szechényi marched from Weimar with his 2 hussar rgts and made a junction with Loudon on the Saale close to Jena.
    • The Franco-Imperial Army was deployed as follows:
      • camp near Gotha
        • the entire Reichsarmee to the exception of 12 bns
      • at Erfurt
        • 6 infantry brigades
        • French artillery
      • near Sonneborn on the Nesse
        • 2 cavalry brigades
        • some units of French dragoons
      • at Gräfentonna
        • 1 infantry brigade
        • 2 infantry brigades
      • garrison of Erfurt
      • camp near Erfurt
        • unidentified Imperial units (8 bns)
        • French grenadiers
        • some Imperial cavalry
      • at Gebesee and Weimar on the Werra under MM. de Wildenstein and de Rougé
        • some Imperial and French cavalry (800 men)
        • Imperial dragoons
        • French dragoons
        • Grenadiers (20 coys)
      • beyond Weimar
      • at Eisenach
        • some French infantry

On October 6

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Prince of Baden-Durlach was sent to Arnstadt with 8 bns.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz's Corps marched from Leipzig to Naumburg, in a position to effect a junction with Frederick's Corps.

On October 7

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Seeing that Frederick was standing firm in Buttstädt, Soubise and Hildburghausen returned to Gotha.
    • Richelieu sent Lieutenant-général Broglie (17 bns, 16 sqns and some field-guns for a total of about 15,000 men) from Halberstadt to reinforce the Franco-Imperial Army. D'Orlick (3 bns, 2 sqns) was also ordered to make a junction with Soubise's Army. More precisely, these reinforcements consisted of:
    • After a first march through the Hartz Mountains, Broglie encamped at Heimburg, having left several soldiers and the train behind.
  • Prussians
    • Seydlitz with Freibataillon Mayr and all dragoons and hussars advanced on Weimar. He could only note that the town and the villages beyond the Ilm were occupied.

On October 8

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise reached Gotha.
    • Saint-Germain retired from Weimar to Erfurt.
    • Broglie reached Benneckenstein.

On October 9

  • Franco-Imperials
    • In the evening, Soubise received a message from Richelieu informing him that Versailles had decided to send 17 bns and 16 sqns under the Duc de Broglie to reinforce the Franco-Imperial army. These reinforcements were marching by Nordhausen. Furthermore, another 3 bns and 2 sqns sent from Kassel and Göttingen by Mühlhausen would follow.
    • Broglie reached Ellrich.
    • Hadik marched from Radeburg and Grossenhain towards Elsterwerda.

On October 10

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise marched from Gotha to Langensalza to get closer to the arriving reinforcements, leaving 4 Imperial bns in Gotha.
    • Broglie reached Nordhausen with 17 bns and 16 sqns.
    • The Comte d'Orlick advanced on Mühlhausen with 3 bns and 2 sqns.
  • Prussians
    • Despairing to lure the enemy into an open battle, Frederick retired eastward once more to Naumburg on the Saale to reduce the distance separating him from the Prussian army defending Silesia.
    • Moritz marched to Weissenfels to get closer to Leipzig and Torgau. He wrote to Frederick to inform him of the rumour that Marschall's Corps had already crossed the Elbe.

On October 11

  • Prussians
    • Frederick heard from General Finck that an Austrian force under General Hadik was conducting a raid towards Berlin. Frederick immediately rose in haste and marched with his corps from Buttstädt to Eckartsberga and Lißdorf, sending his artillery forward at Naumburg. He also sent orders to Moritz to immediately cross the Elbe near Torgau to forestall Hadik.

On October 13

  • Prussians
    • Frederick marched to Naumburg and Kösen, planning to leave Saxony and to rescue Berlin.
    • Moritz with 7 bns and 10 sqns marched by Markranstädt and Leipzig to Eilenburg. He had left 2 bns of Winterfeldt Infantry in Weissenfels and II./Goltz Infantry in Torgau.

On October 14

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Broglie divided his corps into two divisions, the first immediately marched from Nordhausen to Bleicherode.
  • Prussians
    • Seydlitz at the head of Szekely Hussars joined Moritz's Corps in Eilenburg to transmit Frederick's orders to Moritz to send the vanguard (Grenadier Battalion Ramin, Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck, 5 sqns Rochow Cuirassiers and 10 sqns Szekely Hussars) under Seydlitz by Torgau towards Berlin. Seydlitz reached Torgau the same day.
    • Frederick was informed by Finck, posted at Dresden, that one part of the Austrian corps at Lauban was advancing towards Sorau while the other part was marching by Hoyerswerda and Spremberg towards Lübben; and that Hadik had retired to Luckau. Furthermore, Moritz informed him that 15,000 Austrians had marched from Königsbrück by Elsterwerda and Sonnenwalde in the night of October 13 and reached Herzberg and penetrated into Brandenburg.
    • Frederick marched to Weissenfels and sent his artillery and bread-wagons to Leipzig. From Weissenfels, Frederick personally went to Leipzig to make preparations for the march towards Berlin, leaving command to Prince Heinrich at Weissenfels.
    • Keith remained in Naumburg with 7 bns (2 bns Markgraf Karl, 2 bns Forcade, Grenadier Battalion Kremzow, Grenadier Battalion Lubath, Freibataillon Mayr) and 6 sqns (Katte Dragoons and 1 sqn of Seydlitz Hussars) to observe the Franco-Imperial army with instruction to defend the passage of the Saale.

On October 15

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Broglie's first division reached Keula while the second division marched from Nordhausen.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick sent orders to Ferdinand of Brunswick to march from Wanzleben towards Wittenberg.
    • Seydlitz reached Jessen with the vanguard.

On October 16

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Broglie's first division reached Mühlhausen.
  • Prussians
    • Prince Heinrich reached Leipzig.

After October 17

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Saint-Germain advanced to Dornburg and Camburg with his corps.
    • Broglie's second division made a junction with his first corps at Mühlhausen. Broglie's entire Corps then passed under the command of the Prince de Soubise as part of the French Army of Saxony. Broglie's troops were in the worst conditions, without tents and deeply demoralised because they had been sent to another theatre of operation instead of taking up their winter-quarters.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick was at Annaburg a march beyond Torgau when he heard that Hadik had already left Berlin. Accordingly, Frederick called halt in the Torgau Country while he was deciding on his next move. He rested his small army near Leipzig where the I.Leibgarde, which was marching from Torgau to Potsdam, joined him.

The Franco-Imperial Army advances in the open

After the success of Hadik's raid on Berlin the Court of Versailles ordered the Franco-Imperial Army of Soubise and Hildburghausen to advance out of Eisenach hills. Accordingly, the Franco-Imperial Army crossed the Saale and advanced towards Leipzig.

On October 19, the Prince of Soubise personally went to Erfurt to discuss with Hildburghausen who wanted to advance up to the Elbe. Meanwhile, companies of French grenadiers took position at Neumarkt near Merseburg.

On October 20, the Reichsarmee advanced to Apolda while Mailly marched to Nohra and companies of French grenadiers marched from Neumarkt to Buttstädt.

On October 21, Saint-Germain sent his cavalry to Droysssig near Zeitz. The same day, Loudon, who was at Zeitz, and Szechényi marched to Pegau.

On October 22, Soubise personally went to Dornburg, Saint-Germain was at Zeitz, pushing light troops to Molsen (unidentified location) and Pegau; and Hildburghausen at Kösen.

On October 23, Soubise marched to Naumburg with his grenadiers and 2 cavalry brigades; while Broglie was ordered to march to Weissensee.

On October 24, Keith, defending Leipzig with 7 battalions, had summons from Soubise's vanguard. The same day, Broglie's Corps marched from Mühlhausen to Weissensee.

In the night of October 24 to 25, Frederick, informed that the Franco-Imperial Army was threatening Leipzig, decided to attack them. His army marched along the Saale towards Leipzig. His rapid advance saved the town.

On October 25, Soubise and Hildburghausen were at Pegau. Meanwhile, Mailly marched from Molsen to Lützen; and Hildburghausen joined Saint-Germain at Pegau with the Reichsarmee. Keith left behind on the Saale took refuge in Leipzig.

On October 26, Frederick arrived at Leipzig. The other divisions under Ferdinand, Moritz and others were also converging on Leipzig. The same day Broglie's detachment arrived at Merseburg, it was now within reach of the Franco-Imperial Army.

On October 27, Frederick had concentrated his army near Leipzig. The same day, as soon as his troops were rested, Broglie moved to Halle to guard the Saale bridge there. Meanwhile, Hildburghausen retired to Teuchern; and Soubise retired his troops from advanced posts on the Elster, at Lützen and Merseburg, maintaining his headquarters at Weissenfels while his troops gradually reached Weissenfels, Naumburg and Freyburg.

Frederick remained in the vicinity of Leipzig on October 28 and 29.

Sunday October 30, Frederick left Leipzig and marched towards the Franco-Imperial, encamping at Lützen with the vanguard while Keith and Duke Ferdinand were following with the main body and rear. Meanwhile, the Soubise-Hildburghausen Army withdrew before him, crossing to the west side of the Saale again: Soubise repassed at Weissenfels and established his new headquarters at Großkorbetha. Broglie, arriving with the reinforcements, occupied Merseburg while a detachment under Saint-Germain continued to occupy Altenburg and M. de Custine was posted at the bridge of Kösen with 14 French bns and 4 Imperial bns. Hildburghausen established his own headquarters at Zorbau. Even though Soubise was in favour of an engagement, Hildburghausen and the other generals overruled him.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Franco-Imperial Army in the evening of October 31 1757

Monday October 31 at about 8:00 a.m., Frederick arrived in front of Weissenfels from the east while Keith was marching on Merseburg. Weissenfels was a solid little place (about 6,000 inhabitants). It lay against high ground on the eastern or right bank of the Saale. It was a town in part flat, in part very steep, the streets running off level enough from the river and bridge. The Saale was of good breadth at Weissenfels and not fordable. The town was garrisoned by 4 bns of the Reichsarmee and by a couple of French grenadier battalions (including the grenadiers of La Viefville Saint-Chamond Infanterie) under M. de Crillon. The garrison shut the gates and assembled in the market-place. The Prussians cannonaded town and gates, then rushed in over the walls of the castle-court and by other openings into the town. The French grenadiers delayed the Prussian advance, allowing the 4 Imperial bns to retire unmolested across the Saale bridge. The French grenadiers then crossed the bridge, preventing the Prussian vanguard to seize it by setting it on fire behind them. The bridge burnt so rapidly that 400 French grenadiers were obliged to surrender. Once on the other side of the river with the rest of the army, the garrison planted cannon and successfully prevented the Prussians from quenching the bridge. Soubise's Army encamped near Reichardtswerben where he established his headquarters. Meanwhile, Hildburghausen fixed his headquarters at Storkau.

During the night of October 31 to November 1, Frederick picked out another crossing-place, about 1,5 km farther downstream and built a bridge. The Prussians were billeted in Weissenfels that night. The French and the Reichsarmee troops were drawn back upon the higher grounds on the opposite bank of the Saale, about Burgwerben and on to Tagewerben.

Tuesday November 1, Keith with the other half of the army, found the bridge at Merseburg destroyed and Soubise with batteries on the farther side. Keith despatched Duke Ferdinand to Halle another 20 km downstream. Ferdinand found the bridge at Halle destroyed in like manner and Broglie ready to dispute the passage. However, during this time, Frederick successfully crossed the Saale by his new bridge at Herren-Mühle near Weissenfels and encamped at Braunsdorf (unidentified location). The same day, the Franco-Imperial Army left Reichardtswerben. On his way, Hilburghausen changed his plan and stopped at Schortau while Soubise reached Großkayna and Merseburg.

Wednesday November 2 in the morning, the Franco-Imperial Army (now counting some 50 to 60,000 men) gathered its guns and abandoned the defence of the Saale. It retired landwards to the higher grounds and got into order of battle near the village of Mücheln where Soubise, Saint-Germain, Custine and Prince Camille effected a junction. Meanwhile, Hildburghausen marched from Schortau but did not manage to make his junction before nightfall. The same day, Keith and Ferdinand seized this opportunity to rebuild their bridges.

On November 3

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen effected a junction with Soubise's Army.
    • The first troops of the Upper-Saxony Contingent, who had left at the end of October, finally joined the Reichsarmee.
  • Prussians
    • Keith and Ferdinand both completed the crossing of the Saale and formed a junction with Frederick at Braunsdorf, in close neighbourhood to Mücheln. The united Prussian army counted only 22,000 men.
    • Frederick reconnoitred the Franco-Imperial positions and found that he could attack very early the following day. However, later the same day, the Franco-Imperial Army reorganized its positions: its left anchored on the ravine of Mücheln and its right to a wood.

On November 4 about 2:00 a.m., with a bright moon shining, Frederick was on the march with his army towards Mücheln. However, he soon discovered that the Franco-Imperials had shifted their position, pivoting on their axis. Their new position was much stronger. Frederick then decided to return to his camp. Some Allied batteries slightly cannonaded one of his wing. Frederick rearranged his position: his left wing was now at Rossbach and his right at Bedra (probably Braunsbedra). He calculated that the Franco-Imperials would suffer from lack of supplies before his own army.

Battle of Rossbach

On November 5 at the Battle of Rossbach, Soubise tried to outflank Frederick's position. But his army was too slow compared to the well drilled Prussian army who had enough time to rearrange its lines and to attack the Franco-Imperial Army still advancing in columns. Soubise was utterly defeated. The French army retired towards Erfurt, closely followed by Prussian hussars. Prince Heinrich was wounded during the engagement.

Aftermath of Rossbach

Retreat of the Franco-Imperial army on November 6, after the Battle of Rossbach
 
Source: Von Rossbach bis Jena und Auerstedt; ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des preussischen Heeres, by Colmar, Baron von der Goltz

The French retreated towards a bridge at Freyburg where they crossed the Unstrut during the night. They then burnt the bridge. Some 12,000 men rushed straggling through to Eichsfeld, plundering and harrying like cossacks. The army itself was dispersed over a circle of 64 km radius.

The night after the battle, Frederick had encamped at Obschütz near Rossbach. Loudon wrote to Prince Charles de Lorraine describing the poor conditions of the Franco-Imperial forces and the inability of their leaders, asking for authorisation to rejoin the Austrian main army.

On November 6 in the morning, Frederick advanced to Freyburg to find the bridge burnt. The same day, Soubise assembled the remnants of his army behind the Unstrut and marched to Wiehe (some 24 km from Freyburg) while Hildburghausen marched from Freyburg to Kösen, heading towards Arnstadt and Franconia and leaving only his 2 regiments of Austrian hussars (Szechényi Hussars (3 sqns) and Splényi Hussars (3 sqns)) with Soubise. Prince Camille with 1 infantry brigade was charged to guard the passage of the river between Laucha and Nebra. The dragoons along with the Volontaires de Nassau-Sarrebruck were posted at Bucha, between Bibra and Wiehe to cover the army. Saint-Germain with his own corps and the Austrian hussars spent the night at Hoscler (unidentified location). The same day, as soon as Richelieu heard of the defeat of Soubise at Rossbach, he evacuated Halberstadt, repassed the Ocker, retired his advanced posts and sent Soubise a considerable reinforcement.

On November 7, Soubise's Army resumed its retreat westward, establishing its headquarters at Sachsenburg. Part of the army passed the Unstrut while the cavalry and a few infantry brigades remained near Heldrungen, a small village surrounded by a ditch and a parapet and defended by dragoons and grenadiers. In the various villages, placards were stuck up, appointing Nordhausen and Heiligenstadt (present-day Heilbad Heiligenstadt) for rallying place. Meanwhile, Saint-Germain marched on Kölleda but, receiving false intelligence that the Prussian army was on the opposite bank of the Unstrut, he redirected his march on Nordhausen. The same day, Frederick returned to Leipzig.

Meanwhile, Hildburghausen with the Reichsarmee had crossed the Saale at Naumburg. He then marched to Weimar and Erfurt. In this town, only one of his regiment was in rank and marched through with drums beating. His army gradually disintegrated and he arrived at Bamberg with hardly the ghost of an army. The Reichsarmee did not reappear on the scene till late in 1758, under a new commander.

Richelieu's reinforcement advanced as far as Duderstadt where, in mid November, it found the remains of Soubise's Army which was rendered incapable of keeping the field by the loss of their baggage.

On November 7, Frederick returned to Leipzig. The same day, Soubise's Army was at Sachsenburg.

On November 8 at 10:00 a.m., Soubise's marched by Kindelbrück on Weissensee where he could find provisions for his army. There were many stragglers plundering in the woods. The Prussians pursued them up to Erfurt.

On November 9, Sousise's Army and Saint-Germain's Corps arrived at Sondershausen where they cantoned.

On November 13, realising that the French were now in full retreat, Frederick set out from Leipzig with 19 bns and 28 sqns and hastened off to put a stop to the Austrian invasion of Silesia. He left Prince Heinrich behind to protect Saxony. The same day, Soubise's Army marched in 3 columns: the first on Duderstadt, the second on Dingelstädt and Heiligenstadt and the third on Mühlhausen. The Austrian hussars covered the march. The troops cantoned around these towns.

Meanwhile, Keith got into Bohemia through the defiles of Passberg and marched towards Prague seizing an important magazine at Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice). Austrian Generals Hadik and Marshall who were posted in Lusatia to hinder Frederick's advance retired before him.

On November 14, Soubise personally left for Duderstadt where he met Maillebois, sent by Richelieu to organize the winter-quarters. Soubise's troops were to occupy the County of Hanau and the banks of the Lahn. However, Soubise required official orders to accept these dispositions.

On November 15, Richelieu confirmed his orders to Soubise who had to take charge of the occupation of Fulda and Hanau with quarters along the Main up to Obernburg.

On November 16, Prince Heinrich passed the Elbe at Torgau and entered into Lusatia, driving Marschall out of this country.

On November 20, the 20 bns and 18 sqns formerly detached under Broglie to reinforce Soubise marched back to their winter-quarters in Hessen and along the Werra.

On November 20 and 21, all of Soubise's troops were on the march in 3 columns to their winter-quarters: the first towards Marburg, the second towards Kirchhain in Hesse and the third by Fulda and the Kinzig Valley to the Main.

On November 22, Soubise left Duderstadt and marched by Mühlhausen, acting as a rearguard.

On November 28, Soubise reached Eisenach.

On November 29, Louis XV instructed Richelieu to merge Soubise's Army into his own, Soubise retaining command of a corps under the overall command of Richelieu.

At the end of November, Loudon's Corps (now reduced to only 1,100 men) arrived at Komotau (present-day Chomutov/CZ) after marching towards Bohemia by Naumburg and Altenburg.

On December 2, Soubise was at Fulda.

On December 5, Soubise was at Hanau. The regiments of Cossé Brissac, Piémont and La Viefville Saint-Chamond were sent to the Rhine.

On December 12, Soubise went to Kassel where he established his headquarters. Meanwhile, Hildburghausen was at Nuremberg and in the Voigtland. Apchon Dragons were at Lichtenau and Waldkapelle.

On December 30, Soubise cantoned his troops in their winter-quarters in the County of Hanau, in Wetteravia and in the Fulda Country, between the Werra, Rhine, Lahn and Main.

References

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

  • Anonymous: A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 223-226, 236-240
  • Archenholz, J. W.: The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 104-119
  • 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. 5 Hastenbeck und Roßbach, Berlin, 1903, pp. 20-25, 121-147
  • Hotham: The operations of the Allied Army 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
  • Janko, Edler v.: Laudon´s Leben, Vienna, 1869
  • Österreichische Militärzeitschrift, 1849, file 4–5, pp. 170–172
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 54, 100-118, 128-173
  • Tempelhoff, Fr.: History of the Seven Years' War Vol. I pp. 138-149, as translated by Colin Lindsay, Cadell, London, 1793
  • Treuenfest, A. v.: Geschichte des k.u.k. Husaren-Regimentes Nr. 3 A. Hadik v. Futak, Vienna, 1883
  • Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 427-428

Other sources:

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

Vial J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

Acknowledgements

Harald Skala for additional details on Loudon's Corps