1757 - Prussian invasion of Bohemia – Siege and Relief

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1757 - Prussian invasion of Bohemia >> Siege of Prague till the Battle of Kolin

The campaign lasted from April to June 1757

Introduction

The general context of the campaign, winter operations and the preparations of Austria and Prussia for the incoming conflict are described in our article Context and preparations (January 1 to April 17, 1757).

The advance of the Prussian columns into Bohemia and their manoeuvres around Prague are described in our article Prussian invasion of Bohemia till the Battle of Prague (April 17 to May 6, 1757).

Description

After defeating Prince Charles de Lorraine in the Battle of Prague, King Frederick II of Prussia could concentrate on the siege of the city. However, he still had to contend with the sizeable Austrian armies of Prince Charles, which had taken refuge into Prague, and with another army under Field-Marshal Daun posted at Goltsch-Jenikau (present-day Golčův Jeníkov) in the region of Kolin, only some 60 km to the east of Prague.

Preparations of the siege of Prague

On May 7

  • Austrians
    • Daun advanced from Sadska (present-day Sadská) to Bömisch-Brod (present-day Český Brod) while Puebla remained at Auwal (present-day Úvaly u Prahy).
    • The 6 bns previously left behind at Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové) rejoined Daun's army. Daun was now at the head of some 37,000 men (36 bns, 37 grenadier coys, 66 sqns, 11 carabinier and horse grenadier coys and 15½ hussar sqns). The garrison left at Königgrätz consisted of 1,400 commandeered foot, 1,800 Grenzer light troops and 100 hussars under FML Haller. Nimburg (present-day Nymburk) and Podiebrad (present-day Poděbrady) were occupied by small detachments.
    • Puebla's hussars came close to the Prussian camp on the east side of Prague.
    • the Austrian units, who had passed the Sazawa River after the Battle of Prague, assembled at Beneschau (present-day Benešov) under the command of G.d.C. Baron Bretlach, covered by a rearguard of 14,000 light troops near Porzitz (unidentified location).
  • Prussians

By May 8

  • Austrians
    • Daun was at the head of 36,000 men.
    • Till then, Maria Theresa had shown too much patience in front of Serbelloni's procrastinations. She sent orders to Daun to assemble Serbelloni's Corps and to incorporate it into his own army.
    • 2 Saxon cavalry rgts (Karabiniergarde and Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers) joined Daun's Army.
  • Prussians
    • In the evening, Puttkamer returned to the Prussian camp near Prague with his detachment. Lieutenant-Colonel Warnery remained at Sulitz (unidentified location) with 400 hussars to observe the Austrians.

On May 9

On the night of May 9 to 10, Major Möhring informed Frederick of the proximity of Daun's Army. The same night, Daun retired to Planjan (present-day Plaňany).

On May 10

  • Austrians
    • Bretlach with the units who had escaped after the Battle of Prague was ordered by Daun to march from Beneschau to Diwischau (present-day Divišov). He was at the head of 5,229 foot, 6,388 cavalrymen with 5,932 horses, 243 artillerymen with 16 pieces, 1,004 Grenzer light troops (mainly Karlstädter-Szluiner) and 1,410 hussars. Most German regular rgts had lots their baggage, tents and field equipment. Part of the German cavalry had no weapons. Hadik was sent with hte Grenzer light troops and the hussars to effect a junction with Daun's main army.
    • When he realised that his new positions at Planjan were not better the his previous ones, Daun retired towards Kolin, leaving Beck at Sadska, Böhmisch-Brod and Kaurzim (present-day Kouřim) with Grenzer light troops.
  • Prussians
Order of Battle
Order of battle of Bevern's Prussian Corps on May 11

On May 11

  • Austrians
    • Bretlach marched to Czestin (probably Čestín).
  • Prussians
    • Bevern marched in three columns from Brandeis, where he left I./Wied Fusiliers, to Bömisch-Brod, Puttkamer forming his vanguard. At Bömisch-Brod, Bevern was at the head of 10 bns (approx. 7,100 foot), 85 sqns (approx. 11,600 cavalrymen and hussars) and 13 heavy pieces.

On May 12

  • Austrians
    • FML Hadik with 1,400 hussars and 1,000 Grenzer light troops effected a junction with Daun's Army near Kohl-Janowitz (present-day Uhlířské Janovice).
  • Prussians
    • Bevern advanced and encamped between Hrzib (unidentified location) and Chaschtjan (probably Chrášťany), sending his hussars to the Kaurzimka. He also sent Wangenheim Grenadier Battalion and 5 sqns of Werner Hussars to Schwarzkosteletz (present-day Kostelec nad Černými lesy) to seize an Austrian magazine and to bring back its content to his camp. Bevern then had to wait for a convoy of bread sent from Welwarn (present-day Velvary) and Jungbunzlau (present-day Mladá Boleslav).
    • The Prussian siege artillery reached Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice) where it was disembarked.

On the night of May 12 to 13, FML O'Donell with 900 foot (Starhemberg Infantry) and 1,100 horse (Porporati Dragoons and Jung-Modena Dragoons) retired from the Sazawa River and effected a junction with Daun's Army which now totalled some 40,000 men. The rest of Bretlach's force was sent to Moravia to reorganise. Indeed, from these remnants of the right wing, only the hussars of Hadik, 1 bn of Colonel Kleefeld's Karlstädter-Szluiner Grenzer, 2 dragoon rgts and 1 bn of regular foot were still fit for duty.

On May 13

  • Austrians
    • Daun took position on the heights to the north-west of Kuttenberg (present-day Kutná Hora), leaving Hadik at Kolin with 7,000 light troops.
  • Prussians

On May 14

  • Prussians
    • Bevern made a forage near Planjan covered by Zieten with most of the hussars, 2 dragoon rgts and 2 grenadier bns posted at Krzechorz (present-day Křečhoř).

On May 15

  • Austrians
    • Nádasdy's Corps arriving from Moravia effected a junction with Daun's Army. He had left only Simbschen Infantry and the two Saxon Uhlan rgts (Graf Renard Uhlanen and Graf Rudnicki Uhlanen) to guard the frontier of Upper-Silesia. Nádasdy immediately replaced Hadik as commander of the light troops (4,000 Grenzers and 2,000 hussars).
    • Two additional Saxon cavalry rgts (Prinz Albrecht Chevauxlegers and Graf Brühl Chevauxlegers) under the command of Major-General Monro joined Daun's Army. The four Saxon cavalry rgts were then assigned to Nádasdy's vanguard posted at Maleschau (present-day Malešov), south of Kolin.
  • Prussians

By May 16

  • Prussians
    • Two additional bns had joined Bevern's Corps.
    • Twelve 50-pdr mortars left Leitmeritz for Prague.

On May 17

  • Austrians
    • Nádasdy went to join his new corps at Kolin to familiarize himself with the country.
  • Prussians
    • Bevern advanced with 20,000 men in three columns. His force was soon spotted by Austrian outposts who warned the main body of light troops posted between Kolin and Polep (present-day Polepy). Grenzer light troops immediately occupied the western suburb of Kolin and the Galgenberg overlooking the town. Bevern deployed the main body of his corps between Krzechorz and the “Kaiserstrasse” while Major-General Pannwitz advanced on the Galgenberg with the vanguard (II./Kreytzen Fusiliers, II./Wied Fusiliers, 10 sqns of Puttkamer Hussars and 10 sqns of Wartenberg Hussars with six 12-pdr guns). The Austrian light troops then abandoned their positions and redeployed between Polep and Paschinka (present-day Pašinka). Bevern's vanguard occupied Kolin while the main body encamped under the protection of the hussars. Bevern then covered the Siege of Prague.

On May 18

  • Austrians
    • Daun retired to Czaslau (present-day Čáslav) where he established a camp with his right wing at Czaslau and his left wing at Lhota (unidentified location).
    • Daun gradually reinforced Nádasdy's Corps posted to the north-west of Kuttenberg in the following days, initially to 12,000 men and finally to 17,000 men.
  • Prussians
    • Bevern's Corps took position between Zibohlaw (present-day Zibohlavy) and Kolin. Puttkamer Hussars covered Kolin on the “Kaiserstrasse” and Wartenberg Hussars took post opposite Paschinka. Zieten covered the right flank at Radowesnitz (present-day Radovesnice) with 3 bns and the remaining 20 hussar sqns. Bevern received intelligence that the Austrian troops previously assembled at Beneschau had now effected a junction with Daun's Army and that only Nádasdy's Corps was posted in the area of Suchdol (present-day Suchdol u Kutné Hory).
    • Ramin Grenadier Battalion and 100 hussars were sent to Berzkowitz (unidentified location) and Raudnitz (unidentified location).

Siege of Prague

A few days after the battle, Frederick was confident that Bohemia would furnish him with troops and money. The Austrians were dispersed and Frederick considered to send part of his troops against the French and to pursue the Austrians with the rest of his army. However, Prague was not yet captured and was garrisoned with a large Austrian Army. Prague was not a strong city. Earlier in the century it had been taken twice rather easily. But, with such a garrison (50,000 men) and considerable magazines, it represented a tough task.

Frederick posted his army in two camps: Ziskaberg and Weisse Berg (present day Bílá hora) linked by bridges. Keith and he violently battered the city, aiming chiefly at the magazines which were not all bomb-proof. The Siege of Prague lasted six weeks.

Week after week, the city had held out and there seemed to be no hope of surrender, except by hunger or by burning the magazines with red-hot ball.

At a certain point, Austrians offered to surrender Prague on condition of "free withdrawal" but Frederick rejected this offer, proposing instead that the Austrian troops in Prague should engage not to serve against him for six years. This latter Prussian offer was also declined.

Austrian Relief Force

As mentioned before, when Daun heard of the results of the Battle of Prague, he gradually draw back to Czaslau where he manoeuvred defensively, hanging upon Kuttenberg, Kolin and especially upon his magazine of Suchdol. Daun had continued recruiting, had rallied the remains of the right wing defeated at Prague (some 16,000 men) and had been reinforced by 7,000 men from Nádasdy's Corps posted in Moravia and by additional units from Vienna (3 bns previously garrisoning the city). He had finally built a force of some 60,000 men (including a division of Grenzer light troops amounting to 2,600 men), a force nearly thrice superior to Bevern who was watching him.

On May 19

On May 20

On May 21

  • Prussians
    • Colonel von Werner passed the Elbe at Podiebrad with 5 sqns to fight the Austrian parties attacking Prussian convoys.
    • Bevern made a forage between Opatowitz (present-day Opatovice) and Peczkau (present-day Červené Pečky) under the protection of 4 bns and 1,100 horse.

On May 22

  • Prussians
    • Major-General Prince Franz von Braunschweig and von Norman escorted by 100 hussars left the Prussian camp near Prague to join Bevern's Corps.

On May 23

  • Prussians
    • Twenty 12-pdrs and ten 24-pdrs left Leitmeritz escorted by Frei-Infanterie de Angelelli and reached Budin (present-day Budyně nad Ohří).

On May 24

  • Austrians
    • The newly created Jazygier-Kumanier Hussars were transferred to Nádasdy's Corps. The same day, 7 hussars brought to Daun a letter from Charles de Lorraine who mentioned that he expected that Daun would soon make a relief attempt.

On May 26

  • Austrians
    • A courrier from Vienna arrived at Prague to order Charles of Lorraine to try to break encirclement and to effect a junction with Daun.
    • The new Kaiser Franz I Hussars were transferred to Nádasdy's Corps.
  • Prussians
    • Werner's detachment bumped into an Austrian party led by Colonel Baron Luszinsky near Schlumez (unidentified location) and drove it back.

In the night of May 28 to 29, part of Nádasdy's light troops (200 hussars, 120 Banalisten Grenzer light troops), led by Lieutenant-Colonel Naunendorf, attacked 5 sqns of Wartenberg Hussars posted posted at Paschinka on Bevern's right flank. They turned the left flank of the hussar camp and set it afire, killing or wounding 90 of them; and capturing 1 lieutenant, 16 troopers and 90 horses. They then advanced against the infantry camp but were driven back.

On May 29, Werner's detachment returned to Bevern's camp at Kolin while Grenadier Battalion Kahlenberg set off from Jung-Bunzlau to join the main army near Prague.

Towards the end of May, Frederick ordered Major-General Oldenburg to march from Chemnitz to Erfurt by Zwickau, Neustadt an Orla, and Orlamünde with Oldenburg Fusiliers and Bornstädt Grenadier Battalion.

At the end of May, excluding Nádasdy's Corps, Daun was at the head of 43 bns, 30 grenadier coys, 88 sqns and 15 carabinier of horse grenadier coys. He received positive orders from Vienna to relieve Prague.

Movements in June before the Battle of Kolin
 
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab

On June 2

On June 3

By June 4

  • Austrians
    • Excluding light troops, Daun had an army of 26,000 foot and 13,500 horse.
    • Starhemberg Infantry was sent to Königsaal (present-day Zbraslav) on the right bank of the Moldau with a detachment of light troops.
  • Prussians
    • Bevern had been reinforced by additional infantry bns and by the Leib-Carabiniers and was at the head of 18 bns (12,100 men) and 90 sqns (12,500 men). His provisions of bread came from a bakery established at Nimburg.

Combat of Gang

On June 5, leaving II./Wied Infantry and 5 sqns of Puttkamer Hussars to guard the “Kaiserstrasse” to the south-east of Kolin, Bevern advanced with 12 bns and 50 sqns preceded by a vanguard of 4 bns and 30 sqns under Zieten and Manstein.

Map of the combats of Gang (June 5) and Kuttenberg (June 13)
 
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab
Courtesy: Tony Flores

Bevern's Corps marched eastwards in three columns in the direction of Opatowitz. His vanguard met Austrian light troops posted at Johanniskapelle (unidentified location). The detachments of Grenzer light troops withdrew to Gang (now part of Kutna Hora) by Grunta while the hussars retired to Policzan (present-day Poličany, part of Kutna Hora), passing the Maleschau Stream near Przitoka (present-day Přítoky) where they were joined by some cavalry (including the Saxon chevauxlegers rgts) to the south of the Chapel of St. Wenzel.

Zieten continued his advance in this direction and deployed part of the vanguard to the east of Bilan (present-day Bylany) and his artillery opened on the enemy cavalry. Meanwhile, Bevern had deployed the infantry of his main body in two lines at Johanniskapelle, facing east in front of the height of Gang; with his cavalry forming his third line.

Bevern's Corps then advanced on the height of Gang occupied by Grenzer light troops. The Austrian hussars posted at Kuttenberg tried to turn the right flank of Bevern's infantry but were driven back by Zieten at the head of the Wartenberg Hussars and Blanckensee Dragoons. During the advance of the Prussian infantry, gaps appeared in the first line but were filled by bns of the second line. The Austrian artillery opened on the advancing Prussians but could not stop them.

The Austrians evacuated the height of Gang and withdrew towards Malin (now part of Kutna Hora). However, Nádasdy had deployed his cavalry in three lines in a hollow to the north of Malin to allow his Grenzer light troops to retire unmolested. Furthermore, the regiments initially posted between Kuttenberg and Policzan on the right bank of the Maleschau Stream were also deployed there.

Bevern then instructed Zieten to advance with the cavalry of the vanguard to Libenitz (present-day Libenice) to join the rest of his cavalry. Meanwhile, Finck Grenadier Battalion, Waldau Grenadier Battalion and I./Bornstedt Infantry had occupied Kuttenberg and Werner had advanced to the Chapel of St. Wenzel with 5 sqns of Werner Hussars. The 5 remaining sqns of Werner Hussars, under Major von Belling, along with Blanckensee Dragoons had taken post on the left bank of the stream near Sedletz (present-day Sedlec, part of Kutna Hora).

Zieten advanced on the Austrian cavalry from Hlizow (present-day Hlizov) while Belling's hussars followed by the Blanckensee Dragoons threatened their left flank and the Prussian artillery planted on the height of Gang opened on the Austrian cavalry. Nádasdy's cavalry was forced to withdraw by Malin and across the small Kleinar Stream. The Saxon chevauxlegers behaved wonderfully under fire. Thus, the Grenzer light troops had enough time to occupy Malin, Neuhof (probably Nové Dvory), Cirkwitz (present-day Cirkvice) and Neschkareditz (present-day Neškaredice). Their fire hindered the advance of the Prussian cavalry.

Major-General von Manstein advanced on Malin with the right wing but his attack came too late to open a passage to the Prussian cavalry. Therefore, Nádasdy was able to retire unmolested behind the Wolschan Stream near Trzebeschitz (present-day Třebešice). Bevern's infantry encamped on the height of Gang, the cavalry of his right wing near Grunta and the cavalry of the left wing near Hlizow. The bns occupying Kuttenberg were left there while the Prussian hussars occupied Przitoka, Kuttenberg, Sedletz and Hlizow. Magazines were captured at Kuttenberg and Neuhof. In this action, the Prussians suffered very light losses while the Austrians lost some 200 men.

After the combat of Gang, Daun instructed FML Haller to carry away provisions and ammunition stored in the magazine of Königgrätz. Frederick for his part began to consider that an open battle against Daun's Army would be necessary to drive it back to Königgrätz so that he could concentrate his efforts on the capture of Prague.

On June 6,

  • Austrians
    • Daun retired to Goltsch-Jenikau where he encamped on both sides of the highway. Meanwhile, Nádasdy would retire to Czaslau.
  • Prussians
    • Colonel von Puttkamer was sent to Cirkwitz with Puttkamer Hussars to cover the passage of the Wildbach near Kuttenberg.

On June 7

  • Prussians
    • Informed that Daun's Army was now at Goltsch-Jenikau and Nádasdy,s Corps isolated at Czaslau, Bevern passed the Wildbach near Kuttenberg and established a new camp behind the Krzenowka Stream between the Chapel of St. Wenzel and Neuhof. He threw infantry in the villages of Perschteinitz (present-day Perštejnec), Neschkareditz and Cirkwitz in front of his camp.

On June 10

  • Austrians
    • Daun was informed that Charles de Lorraine was ready to try an escape from Prague by Beraun if a relief force would be available on the right bank of the Moldau.
    • Austrian light troops took post along the the flank of Bevern's Corps in a hollow along the Elbe near Alt-Kolin.
  • Prussians
    • Bevern ordered to destroy all bridges on the Kleinar Stream.
    • Lieutenant-General von Tresckow, who at the head of the rest of Katte Dragoons and Schultze Infantry had effected a junction with Seydlitz's detachment at Pischely (unidentified location), marched with his force (now 4 bns and 10 sqns) towards Beneschau on the Sazawa River.

On June 11

  • Prussians
    • Tresckow reached Beneschau.

Combat of Kuttenberg

On Sunday June 12

  • Austrians
    • Daun set off from from Goltsch-Jenikau with the main body of his army and marched by his left through Opatowitz (present-day Opatovice) to Wilimowitz (present-day Vilémovice) and Roth-Janowitz (present-day Červené Janovice) on Bevern's right flank. A cavalry detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel von Gersdorf secured his right flank at Trzebonin (present-day Třebonín).
    • Daun despatched several officers to Prince Charles at Prague. They were supposed to advise him that Daun would be in the neighbourhood of Prague on June 20 and to invite Prince Charles to sally out and help from rearward. However, not a single officer could get into the city.
    • Nádasdy was at Czaslau with the Austrian cavalry to watch the movements of the Prussian Army. Nádasdy's Corps included 5,800 Grenzer light troops:
    • At 9:00 a.m., a few hours after the departure of Daun's main body, Nádasdy set off from Czaslau for Krasonowitz (unidentified location), leaving 200 hussars at Czaslau and a detachment of Grenzer light troops and hussars under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel von Nauendorf at Krzesetitz (probably Křesetice).
  • Prussians

On the night of June 12 to 13, Zieten mistakenly marched towards Bykan.

On June 13 at daybreak on the height of Bilijow (unidentified location), Zieten met Nádasdy's vanguard advancing on Kuttenberg while his corps followed in four columns. Zieten took advantage of the surprise of the Austrians who did not expect to meet a Prussian force between Krzesetitz and Maleschau. He drove back Nádasdy's hussars, buying enough time for Bevern to reorganise his lines facing south and to deploy his infantry between the Chapel of St. Wenzel and Neschkareditz.

The Austrian guns then fired on Zieten's retiring detachment. Bevern also deployed his right wing cavalry, his infantry and his left wing cavalry between Neschkareditz and Cirkwitz. Colonel von Puttkamer was posted towards Czaslau with Gemmingen Grenadier Battalion, Manteuffel Grenadier Battalion and Puttkamer Hussars to watch the highway leading to Czaslau. Finally, Zieten's infantry and Zieten Hussars formed the right wing between the chapel and the stream. Werner Hussars and Wartenberg Hussars passed the stream to the south of Kuttenberg and advanced towards Przitoka which was occupied by Prinz Heinrich von Preußen Fusiliers.

However, the Austrians marched to the south of Policzan keeping a good distance from Bevern's positions.

Meanwhile, Bevern had let his cavalry pass the stream at Sedletz and retire to the height of Gang. Bevern then retreated through Kuttenberg with his infantry in two columns with Kreytzen Fusiliers and Meinicke Dragoons forming his rearguard. Manstein's 4 bns, followed by Zieten Hussars, passed the dams on the ponds located above Kuttenberg and then turned to the east of Przitoka towards the Gruntaberg. Meanwhile, Puttkamer reached Malin and received order to leave baggage at Kolin.

On the Austrian right wing, 3,000 Slavonians under Beck rapidly advanced on Kuttenberg and their guns opened on the Prussian columns. The Prussian infantry timely withdrew over the Kuttenberg Stream. But near Maleschau a dam made the stream impassable. However, the bridge at Kuttenberg was used for the passage of the artillery while the infantry moved across the stream on flying bridges.

During this time, Daun had reinforced Nádasdy's Corps with Hessen-Darmstadt Dragoons and all his carabinier and horse grenadier coys under the command of G.d.C. Count Stampach. Nevertheless, Nádasdy soon realised that he could not directly attack Bevern in such positions. He marched with his corps towards Maleschau along the opposite bank of the stream. At Maleschau, Nádasdy's cavalry came under the fire of Prinz Heinrich von Preußen Fusiliers posted at Przitoka. The Austrian artillery soon forced the 2 bns of this regiment to evacuate Przitoka which they did in good order under the protection of Werner Hussars and Wartenberg Hussars, joining Manstein's bns on the Gruntaberg.

A large number of Grenzer light troops then took position near the Johanniskapelle to the north of Przitoka while many Austrian cavalry units marched to the north of Miskowitz (present-day Miskovice) and advanced on Peczkau. Other Austrian forces were on the march from Maleschau.

To cover the retreat of his infantry from the Height of Gang towards Kolin, Bevern deployed his cavalry between Paschinka and Nebowid (present-day Nebovidy). Once more, Bevern's infantry advanced in two lines against the Johanniskapelle while the lively fire of the Prussian artillery put a stop to the advance of the Austrian cavalry at Peczkau. The lines of the Prussian infantry finally managed to reache the “Kaiserstrasse” where their turned to face the Austrians. The baggage were formed in two columns to the south of the “Kaiserstrasse”. The infantry then retreated towards Kolin with the baggage. Nádasdy stayed on their flank with his cavalry.

Around 4:00 p.m., Nádasdy's cavalry rode between Libenitz and Nebowid towards the “Kaiserstrasse”. Only a few ravines separated Nádasdy's cavalry from the retreating Prussian infantry but the Prussian artillery continued to play on its flank. In a last attempt, Nádasdy tried to reach the “Kaiserstrasse” to the west of Nebowid but he found the Prussian cavalry deployed and realised that the Prussian infantry had already passed the Poleper Stream (present-day Polepka).

The Saxon chevauxlegers attacked Wartenberg Hussars posted near Polep. Meinicke Dragoons came to the support of the Prussian hussars and the Saxon chevauxlegers soon came under the fire of the Wangenheim Grenadier Battalion and the Nimschöfsky Grenadier Battalion was sent to support their cavalry.

Nádasdy put a stop to the pursuit and posted his troops between the road leading from Kuttenberg to the Gruntaberg and Suchdol while the Austrian main army established its camp between Krzesetitz and Maleschau. For its part, around 6:00 p.m., Bevern's Army reached its old camp between Zibohlaw and Kolin. Baggage were left in a “Wagenburg” on the “Kaiserstrasse” at the western outskirt of Kolin. In this combat, the Prussians lost 150 men; the Austrians, 262 men.

Early the same day (Monday June 13), King Frederick set forth from his camp near Prague in all speed with 12,000 men to reinforce Bevern. His force consisted of 4 bns (I.Leibgarde Bataillon, I./Anhalt, 2 bns of Alt-Bevern), 6 sqns (1 sqn of the old Garde du Corps, 5 sqns of Rochow Cuirassiers) and 15 heavy pieces (8 x 12-pdr guns, 4 x 7-pdr howitzers, 3 x 25-pdr mortars). He left a small force of 14,000 men for siege. Frederick marched by Aurzinjowes (unidentified location) towards Kuttenberg. At 9:00 p.m., the king encamped for the night near the “Zum letzten Pfennig” tavern. At 11:00 p.m., a messenger sent by Bevern informed him of the recent events at Kuttenberg.

Meanwhile, in the evening, Bevern received a letter from Frederick informing him that he intended to join him at Kuttenberg on the 15th with 8 bns and 16 sqns.

Still the same day (June 13), Tresckow, advancing upstream along the Sazawa, reached Sazau (probably Sázava). He met Austrian detachments near Kammerburg (unidentified location) and Böhmisch Sternberg (present-day Český Šternberk).

Battle of Kolin

On June 14

  • Austrians
    • Daun, with his usual skill for camps and positions, deployed his army in a difficult country: a little river with its boggy pools in front and an intricate broken country of knolls and swamps behind and around. A ridge called Kamhayek Berg formed a long backbone to the locality, its west end straight behind Daun's centre.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick marched towards Schwartz-Kosteletz (present-day Kostelec nad Černými lesy) on his way to join Bevern's Corps from which he had no news. Near Zasmuk, he was finally informed that Bevern had retired to Kolin.
    • Tresckow's Corps (4 bns and 10 sqns) reached Kohl-Janowitz but between Juditz (probably Jindice) and Miletin it found a large Austrian camp from which 1,000 horse advanced against it. Nevertheless, at 2:00 p.m., Tresckow managed to effect a junction with Frederick's Corps at Malotitz (present-day Malotice).
    • Bevern set off from Kolin at 8:00 a.m. in two columns and marched westwards unmolested along the “Kaiserstrasse”. At Novemesto (unidentified location), Bevern met one of the jägers sent forward by Frederick to locate his corps. Bevern's Corps then marched by Hradenin, Boschitz (present-day Bošice) and Kaurzim.
    • Frederick encamped in two lines between Malotitz and Kaurzim. Tresckow's 4 bns encamped to the east of Malotitz where Frederick established his headquarters. Manteuffel Grenadier Battalion occupied Kaurzim while hussars secured the front along the Beczwarka.
    • In the evening, Frederick sent orders to Fürst Moritz von Anhalt to send him 6 bns (Prinz Moritz Infantry, Hülsen Infantry and Kalckstein Infantry), who had not fought at Prague, and 10 sqns (Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers and 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars) as soon as possible. Fürst Moritz personally took command of these reinforcements, leaving command of Prussian troops on the right bank of the Moldau to Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick.

Frederick decided to wait for the 4,000 men of Prince Moritz and for bread which was baking at Nimburg, across the Elbe, 32 km away. He also tried to reconnoitre Daun's position, a difficult task since it was screened by Grenzer light troops.

Around mid-June, Kálnoky Hussars, Morocz Hussars and 1,000 Banal Grenz-Infanterie, 1,000 commandeered cavalry and 800 commandeered foot arriving from Moravia reinforced Nádasdy's Corps.

On Wednesday June 15

  • Austrians
    • Daun was yet parallel to Frederick's positions with his centre behind Swojschitz (present-day Svojsice), a village at the foot of Kamhayek Berg.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick kept the same positions a little closer to his ovens than the day before.
    • A convoy of bread left Nimburg escorted by 150 foot and 30 hussars under the command of Major von Billerbeck to supply Frederick's Army at Malotitz.

On Thursday June 16

  • Austrians
    • The Austrian vanguard (converged carabiniers and horse grenadiers coys and 12 foot grenadier coys) under FML Count Benedikt Daun, followed by the first line advanced towards Poborz (present-day Poboří) by Roth-Hradek (present-day Červený Hrádek), Gross Beczwar (present-day Bečváry) and to the east of Ober-Chwatlin (present-day Horní Chvatliny); while the Austrian second line took the direction of Solopisk (present-day Solopysky), Podaus (present-day Poďousy) and Klein Beczwar (present-day Bečváry). The Reserve Artillery and the baggage reached Putscher (present-day Pučery) and Woderad (present-day Polní Voděrady). This flank march was secured by the right wing of the Reserve Corps who closely followed the avant-garde and took position on the heights to the west of Ober-Chwatlin, facing the Prussian camp, until the army had passed. The left wing of the Reserve Corps followed the first line. By 8:00 p.m., the Austrian army had reached its new positions and encamped in two lines facing westwards in the direction of Kaurzim with its right wing near Hradenin and its left near Krychnow (present-day Krychnov) covered by the Beczwarka. The Reserve Corps took position on the right wing of the army from Hradenin to the Heights of Przerovsky (unidentified location). Daun's headquarters were at Krychnow.
    • Nádasdy's Corps remained in its previous positions near Gross Beczwar and Soboczitz (present-day Sobočice).
    • Beck occupied Planjan with Grenzer light troops
    • The Baboczay Hussar Brigade roamed the “Kaiserstrasse” in the direction of the Prussian camp.
  • Prussians
    • In the afternoon, Fürst Moritz's reinforcements arrived at Malotitz where they formed a third line behind the right wing.
    • Around noon, the bread convoy arriving from Nimburg was attacked by Austrian hussars. Frederick immediately sent Manstein at the head of Gemmingen Grenadier Battalion, Wied Fusiliers and 1,000 hussars to help Billerbeck's convoy. Indeed as Manstein approached, the Baboczay Hussar Brigade abandoned its attempt. Manstein brought the convoy to Sadska where he formed a wagenburg. Other reports mentioned Austrian troops advancing from Planjan on Böhmisch-Brod and Frederick detached Colonel von Finck with 2 grenadier bns and 300 hussars to Wrbschan (present-day Vrbčany) to observe these manoeuvres.

On Friday June 17

  • Prussians
    • Early in the day, Finck, who had found no major body advancing on Böhmisch-Brod, returned to Frederick's camp.
    • In the afternoon, Manstein arrived at Frederick's camp with the entire bread convoy, he had not lost a single wagon but had lost 13 men killed or wounded.
    • In the afternoon, Frederick's Army marched in two columns by Tuschitz (present-day Toušice) and Swojschitz in the hilly region between Suchdol, Kuttenberg and Kolin, trying to gain the Austrian right flank. However, this movement proved impossible because, on the previous day, Daun had moved to a stronger position which lay across the planned line of march of the Prussian Army. Frederick sent a detachment under Colonel Warnery to reconnoitre Daun's new position. However, Warnery reported back only a few hours before the battle. Meanwhile, with his planned line of march blocked, Frederick was obliged to change his plan. As the columns went around Kaurzim by the east and advanced northwards on Wrbschan, baggage were left near Kaurzim under the guard of Manteuffel Grenadier Battalion. Furthermore, Prince Franz von Braunschweig took position at the eastern outskirts of Kaurzim with the grenadier bns Kahlden, Wangenheim and Möllendorff, together with a hussar detachment to cover against any attack coming from Zasmuk or Swojschitz. The march of the Prussian columns was briefly interrupted by Beck's Grenzer light troops who had advanced from Planjan towards Zaleschan (present-day Zalešany) and opened an ineffective artillery fire against the heads of these columns. But the deployment of the three leading grenadier bns of the right column and the fire from a few Prussian guns was sufficient to drive them back. Around 7:00 p.m., after much delays, Frederick's Army reached its new camp between Wrbschan and Kaurzim. Colonel von Finck with the grenadier bns occupied the heights between Wrbschan and Planjan on the left flank of the camp to prevent any surprise attack from Beck's light troops. Wied Fusiliers were posted to the west of Wrbschan in support of Finck's detachment while Wartenberg Hussars secured Finck's front. All other hussar rgts were posted in front of the camp and Schultze Infantry occupied the passage to the south of the Skalitz Monastery (present-day Klášterní Skalice). Frederick established his headquarters at Wrbschan.

Around 8:00 p.m. (June 17), Prussian outposts spotted a dust cloud over the Austrian camp while tents were stricken. Frederick and his suite went to the heights to the east of Wrbschan. Visibly, the Austrians were taking advantage of night to carry out movements. However, the growing darkness made it impossible to determine their purpose and direction. Indeed, Daun thought that additional Prussian reinforcements were on their way and feared that the new position of the Prussians could allow them to turn his right flank. Daun then resolved to rearrange his positions to face northwards. He hustled his right wing back out and wheeled his whole right wing and centre ninety degrees round, so as to reach out towards Kolin, and lie on the north slope of the Kamhayek Berg. He also placed his left wing en potence round the western end of Kamhayek, its southern extremity at Swojschitz, its northern at Hradenin. In these new positions, his right wing was anchored on the Heights of Przerovsky and his left on the heights to the south of Poborz. Furthermore, the cavalry of his left wing under G.d.C. Count Stampach was redeployed between his infantry right and left wings, between the Heights of Przerovski and Poborz. Behind Stampach's cavalry there were 3 cavalry rgts from the right wing of the Reserve. The rest of the Reserve formed a potence facing west along the heights between Poborz and Swojschitz. During this time, Nádasdy' Corps marched from Zasmuk behind the main army and took position on the right wing near Krzechorz. The neighbouring oak wood and the villages of Krzechorz, Brzistwi (present-day Bristvi) and Chozenitz (present-day Chocenice) were both occupied by Grenzer light troops and the villages of Poborz and Hradenin by grenadier coys and a few guns. Other Grenzer light troops were deployed in the village of Boschitz, in front of the Reserve.

By daybreak on Saturday June 18, Daun had completed all planned movements. His troops were forbidden to light campfires and to pitch tents and remained in combat readiness. Daun's Army counted 51 bns and 43 grenadier coys for a total of 35,000 foot; and 171 sqns totalling 19,000 cavalrymen and hussars. He also had 60 heavy pieces. The Prussians advanced against the Austrian positions, tried to manoeuvre parallel to their main battle line and then to attack their right flank around Krzechorz. The Battle of Kolin was heavily contested but two tactical mistakes made by the Prussians gave enough time to the Austrians for a strong counter-attack around Krzechorz which won the day for Daun.

During these first battles of 1757, some 1,300 Saxon soldiers forcibly serving in the Prussian Army had already deserted to the Austrians.

Continuation

The last phase of the campaign are described in the following articles:

  • Retreat (May 7 to June 29, 1757) describing the retreat of the Prussian armies

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. 205-216
  • Archenholz, J. W.: The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 32-64, 88-89
  • 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. 3 Kolin, pp. 1-64, Anhang 8, 9
  • Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, 2. part, Leipzig 1885
  • Tempelhoff, Fr.: History of the Seven Years' War Vol. I pp. 18-120, as translated by Colin Lindsay, Cadell, London, 1793
  • Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 409-426

Other sources:

Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 40-42

Salisch, M. von: Treue Deserteure – Das kursächsische Militär und der Siebenjährige Krieg, Munich, 2009

Skala, Harald: Rückzug des preussischen Heeres nach der Schlacht bei Kolin 1757, der Fall von Gabel und Zittau

Skala, Harald: Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for information on the Saxon Army during this period