1757 - Siege of Gabel

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The siege took place in July 1757

Description of Events

Prelude to the Siege

At the beginning of July 1757, during the Austrian invasion of Silesia, the Prince of Prussia had to retreat into Silesia in front of superior Austrian forces. He secured the small town of Gabel (present-day Jablonné v Podještědí) giving access to country roads leading to Zittau.

At the end of June, as the troops destined to garrison Gabel (some 2,000 men in 4 bns and a few hussars), were on march from Niemes, they were attacked by a strong Austrian detachment (1,200 men from Paul Anton Esterházy Hussars and Morocz Hussars, and 2,800 Grenzers). The Prussians managed to reach Gabel but had to abandon their equipment and supply wagons. These losses severely reduced their ability to defend Gabel efficiently.

On July 14, the Austrian main army under Prince Charles and Daun was at Niemes (present-day Mimoň), not above 6,5 km from the prince's eastmost outpost. Simultaneously, a couple of advanced parties under Beck and Maquire hovered on the Prince of Prussia's flank in the direction of Zittau, while Nádasdy was pushing on to rear.

The Prince of Prussia intended to retire with his entire army to Gabel but Frederick II expressly forbid it to him.

Map

Map of the combats around Gabel in July 1757.
 
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab

Gabel was an important magazine for the Prussians. The post also secured the line of communication of the Prince of Prussia with Lusatia. For these reasons, Field-Marshal Daun had resolved to make himself master of this town. For this task he appointed FML Maquire, against the will of some generals.

From July 10, the Prussians had fortified Gabel. They had dug wolf-pits around the stone wall of the village and converted the monastery and church into redoubts.

The Siege

The storming of Gabel on July 15, 1757 - Source: Museum of Jablonné v Podještědí, photo made available by H. Skala

On July 14 in the morning, an Austrian detachment (200 hussars and 200 men of the Serbelloni Cuirassiers) under Cuirassier Captain von Deym took positions on the heights near Böhmischdorf (present-day Česká Ves), a suburb of Gabel. The cuirassiers dismounted and took off their cuirasses (thus explaining why some sources describe them as dragoons).

Meanwhile, a small Prussian supply convoy quitted Gabel for Zittau. The convoy was escorted by Kalckreuth Fusiliers, II./Württemberg Fusiliers and 50 hussars. Gabel was now defended only by Major von Belling at the head of Grenadier battalion 9/10 Möllendorf. During its march, the convoy was attacked by Deym's troops who captured 100 provision wagons. In this engagement, the Prussian lost some 30 grenadiers and 6 train-horses.

A Prussian detachment (about 200 grenadiers from Grenadier Battalion 7/30 Lubath and 2 guns) under Major Lubath awaited the convoy at Reichstadt (present-day Zákupy). This detachment was later joined by Grenadier Battalion 29/31 Östenreich.

On July 15, Maquire, seconded by GFWM von Wilfenblied (?), appeared in front of Gabel with the Austrian vanguard.

Maquire took position on a hill overlooking Gabel and his artillery opened on the town while his troops deployed in two lines. Maquire did not lose time in the construction of entrenchments and immediately prepared an assault on the small town. Meanwhile, the Prussians had retired into the town and entrenched both gate.

By 10:00 a.m., the southern gate was already severely damaged but still stood.

At 1:00 p.m., Major-General Puttkamer arrived at Gabel from Brims (present-day Brniště) with his corps and 5 sqns of Werner Hussars. The latter had been ordered to return to the camp of the Prince of Prussia.

About 6:00 p.m., after the departure of Werner Hussars, Maquire launched an assault on Gabel northern gate which had been destroyed by artillery and Major von Normann at the head of 6 grenadier companies entered into the town through this breach. They were met by lively musket fire from the defenders and by grapeshot from their artillery. Violent hand to hand fighting ensued in the street of the town where the Prussians gained the upper hand. At nightfall, the Austrians were forced to retire from the town.

On July 16, General Arenberg arrived in front of Gabel with 12 heavy guns. At noon, these guns opened on Gabel until 3:00 p.m.

Another assault was then launched against Gabel with new forces. This time the grenadiers were led by Captain Andreas Prince Poniatowski. During the assault, he was wounded in the neck and had to be carried out of town, but then returned and resumed fighting, receiving four more wounds.

The Prussians retired into the strong monastery where they were able to hold on.

By this time, Puttkamer knew that Major-General Beck and Morocz had reached Brims and Walten (present-day Valtinov) with their troops and that he could expect no help from the Prince of Prussia. Nevertheless, he did not hoist the white flag before the defenders had run out of ammunition.

Puttkamer tried to negotiate free-withdrawal for his troops but the Austrian staff rejected this clause and Puttkamer's force (67 officers and 1833 privates and NCOs) had to surrender as prisoners of war. The captured officers were allowed to retain their side-arms, horses and carriages. The Austrians also captured 220 horses, seven 3-pdr battalion guns and much supply, including 400 loaded forage-wagons.

To occupy Gabel, the Austrians left only a strong detachment of hussars.

Outcome

Macquire's unsuccessful attempt to storm Gabel on July 14, costed him about 200 men including 107 grenadiers who were taken prisoners.

Overall, the Austrians lost 3 officers and 486 men dead and wounded in the action at Gabel; Prussian losses are unknown. There were about 3,100 Prussians in the town at the beginning of the action. During the bombardment of the town, 36 men (2 officers and 34 men) were killed.

For her outstanding behaviour during the storming of Gabel, Captain Prince Poniatowski and Major von Normann received the the Knight's Cross of the Maria Theresa Order.

Order of Battle

Austrian Order of Battle

Several Austrian corps surrounded Gabel. Altogether, they totalled some 12,000 men. However, most of them were not directly involved in combat. Only troops listed directly under FML Maquire took part in the storming of the place.

FML Count Johann Sigismund Maquire

  • grenadiers (12 coys)
  • infantry (1,500 men)
    • unidentified line infantry units (700 men)
    • unidentified Grenzer unit (800 men)
  • cavalry (500 men)
  • artillery (28 guns, an assortment of 3-pdr, 6-pdr and 12-pdr guns)

Major-General Beck at Reichstadt (present-day Zákupy)

  • unknown number of units

Major-General Morocz at Mückenhan (present-day Provodín)

  • unidentified hussar units (2 rgts)

Major-General Hadik at Mückenhan (present-day Provodín)

  • unknown number of units

Duke von Arenberg's Reserve at Wartenberg (present-day Stráž pod Ralskem)

  • unknown number of units
  • artillery (12 heavy guns)

Wulffen

  • unknown number of units

Prussian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Major-General Nikolaus Lorenz von Puttkamer

N.B.: In his book at page 104, G. Schlag mentions that Major-General Georg von Puttkamer commanded the garrison. Is was indeed Major-General Nikolaus Lorenz von Puttkamer who was in command. Georg von Puttkamer was not promoted general before December 21 1757.

Garrison (about 2,000 men)

Reinforcements (left before the final assault)

References

This article is mostly based on Harald Skala's article Rückzug des preussischen Heeres nach der Schlacht bei Kolin 1757, der Fall von Gabel und Zittau which he has kindly authorised us to translat and incorporate into our own article

Other sources

Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, herausgegeben vom Grossen Generalstabe, cz. III, Berlin 1901, vol. 3.

ÖMZ 1836, Bd. 4 (12. Heft) S. 325 – 332

Koch, D.: Heimatkunde d. Schulbezirkes Deutsch-Gabel, Zwickau i. B.

Mayer, F. M.: Geschichte des siebenjährigen Krieges Beiträge, Innsbruck, 1886

Pinkava, V.: Geschichte der Stadt Gabel, Gabel, 1807

Priesdorf, K. v.: "Soldatisches Führertum", Hamburg, 1937-1942

Schlag, G.: Unser Leben und Blut für die Königin, Eisenstadt, 1999

Schreiber, G.: Des Kaisers Reiterei, Vienna, 1967

Stein, Karel, Pomníky pod Studencem, Beitrag von 2005

Acknowledgements

Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for the initial version of this article

Harald Skala for the present version of this article