1758-06-30 - Combat of Domstadl

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Battles >> 1758-06-30 - Combat of Domstadl

Austrian Victory

Introduction

Since May 20 1758, during the Prussian invasion of Moravia, Frederick II was conducting the Siege of Olmütz (present-day Olomouc). The resistance of the fortress was nearing its end, but one last convoy of ammunition was necessary to finish the siege.

On June 21, a large Prussian supply convoy left the Fortress of Cosel (present-day Kozle) and Neisse (present-day Nysa) under the command of Colonel Mosel. It was escorted by 8 bns, 3,000 recruits and convalescent organised into 4 bns and 1,100 cavalrymen. The convoy consisted of some 4,000 wagons among which 818 transported ammunition necessary for the continuation of the siege. Frederick also ordered Zieten to meet this important convoy with some thousands additional troops.

On Monday June 26, Colonel Mosel got upon the road out of Troppau (present-day Opava), as planned. A convoy from Troppau to Olmütz usually took about six days. The convoy extended on 32 km. The escort went in three brigades: vanguard, middle, rear-guard, with sparse pickets intervening. The roads were utterly bad.

On June 27, Mosel made the day a rest-day to permit laggards to catch up with the Prussian convoy. About two-thirds of them managed to join the convoy again. Meanwhile, Colonel Werner was on the march from Olmütz to reinforce Mosel with Grenadier Battalion 35/36 Schenckendorff and 500 horse.

On Wednesday June 28, at break of day, Mosel was again on the road from his quarters in Bautsch (present-day Budišov nad Budišovkou). However, Loudon reached Ober-Gundersdorf (present-day Guntramovice) and Unter-Gundersdorf (present-day Horni Guntramovice) in the morning and deployed his troops to intercept the Prussian convoy. An engagement took place and Mosel managed to repulse Loudon (see the article on the Prussian invasion of Moravia for more details). However, London had studied this convoy and knew of Zieten coming from Olmütz and of Siskovics coming to him. Mosel reorganised his convoy but jumbled on all day and got to his appointed quarters: the village of Neudorfl (present-day Nová Véska), where he made his junction with Zieten who had been reinforced on his way by the grenadiers of Grenadier Battalion 37/40 Manteuffel and Standing Grenadier Battalion No. 2 and by Werner's detachment. On his side, Loudon concerted with Siskovics, called in all possible reinforcements and took his measures.

On Thursday morning June 29, half the wagons of the Prussian convoy had not yet reached Neudorfl and Zieten and Mosel had to spend the whole day reassembling the convoy.

Map

Map of the engagement of Domstadl, June 30 1758
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab

Description of Events

Early on June 30, the Prussian convoy started its march from Altliebe (present-day Stará Libavá). Zieten and Mosel soon approached the pass of Domstadl (present-day Domašov nad Bystřicí) where they expected resistance from the Austrians. The convoy entered the pass with his escort marching on each side: its right flank (to the north of the road), where the terrain was more even, was covered by cavalry squadrons separated by large intervals while the infantry covered its left flank.

Around 9:00 a.m., the vanguard of the Prussian convoy, under Major-General Jung-Krokow, along with 400 wagons were passing by Domstadl without noticing any Austrian force. Only 120 wagons had passed the defile when, suddenly, Siskovics' Corps appeared on the wooded heights to the south of the road and immediately opened a violent artillery fire against the entrance of the defile. The Prussian vanguard repulsed a first Austrian attack and got its section of the carriages (250 wagons) hurried through. It then halted on the safe side of the pass to wait for Zieten.

For his part, Zieten did his best. After ranking the wagons in square, as a wagenburg (wagon fortress), he formed 4 battalions and 1 cuirassier regiments for an attack on the Austrian left wing. Zieten then marched to the enemy with the V. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion and I. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion and 200 hussars. The initial engagement turned to the advantage of the Prussians and the Austrians were gradually pushed back on Domstadl.

The Prussians were soon reinforced by 3 other battalions.

However, the Saxon Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers, who had remained concealed in the bushes, suddenly charged the left flank of the grenadiers near Domstadl and drove them back to the wagenburg. The shattered remains of this flank took refuge in Domstadl where they were attacked by Austrian infantry. The supporting Prussian battalions were now separated from the wagons they were supposed to protect.

Loudon then launched his own attack from both sides of Neudorfl against the cavalry covering the convoy. Zieten left the convoy to come to the rescue of the wagenburg still occupied by 3 battalions, 6 guns and some cavalry. Loudon and Siskovics then joined their forces to occupy the heights surrounding the Prussian wagenburg. Zieten, now surrounded by superior forces, attacked at the head of his troops in an attempt to disentangle his shattered force from encirclement.

Grenzer troops, who had already taken the village of Altliebe, were driven out at the point of the bayonet. However, during the attack, a large part of the powder-wagons exploded and almost all drivers took flight.

It was too late to save the wagenburg; prolonged resistance would only needlessly sacrificed the entire Prussian force.

Contemporary lithography depicting the engagement of Domstadl, June 30 1758
Source: "I. E. Belling, Cath. fec. exc. a. v." (Collection of Harald Skala)
 
Accompanying text:
Heroic action of an Austrian corps under command of the valuable General-Feldzeugmeister von Loudon and General Siskovics at Neudörfl on June 30 where a big Prussian convoy of approx. 14,000 men was completely destroyed; 42 officers and more than 1,600 men taken prisoners; 13 guns, more than 2,000 ammunition wagons and 4 wagons with loaded with money, between 3 and 4,000 horses and many muskets were captured, the remaining wagons being destroyed. After this action, the King of Prussia was obliged to immediately stop the siege of Olmütz and to save himself by escape.
 
1. Loudon talking to the Prussian wagoners
2. Siskovics talking to Austrian hussars
3. General von Zieten questioning an Austrian officer
4. King of Prussia talking in front of the Fortress of Olmütz
5. Olmütz to the King of Prussia
6. The Commander of the fortress talking to the Prussians
 
a) General Loudon
b) General Siskovics
c) Prussian General von Zieten
d) Attacking Grenzers
e) Austrian batteries
f) Prussian defence
g) Prussian Wagenburg
h) Austrian troops
i) Quick retreat of the Prussian army from Olmütz

The combat had lasted two hours.

Now completely cut from Frederick's Army and with Altliebe retaken, Zieten had only one choice left: to abandon the convoy to its fate and to march back towards Troppau with as much troops and wagons he could save from the disaster. Colonel Lanjus and Major Amelunken closely pursued Zieten's force.

The convoy was now a ruin and a prey. Loudon captured it.

Meanwhile, the Prussian vanguard, under Major-General Jung-Krokow, along with the remnants of some units (Grenadier Battalion 37/40 Manteuffel, II. Standing Grenadier Battalion (Unruh), Grenadier Battalion 35/36 Schenckendorff, Grenadier Battalion 8/46 Alt-Billerbeck, V. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion (Rath), Grenadier Battalion 47/G-VII Carlowitz, Jung-Kreytzen Infantry, 5 sqns of Baron von Kyau Cuirassiers, 1 sqn of Schmettau Cuirassiers, 500 hussars) and 250 wagons had managed to break through Austrian forces. In the evening, Jung-Krokow's force finally reached Bistrowan (present-day Bystrovany). Out of 4,000 wagons, only 250 had reached their destination.

Outcome

In this combat, the Prussians lost 2,400 men and 5 guns. Puttkamer was taken prisoner along with 4 staff officers, 36 subaltern officers and 1,450 men. The Austrians lost about 600 men.

Despite this costly defeat, Prinz Ferdinand Infantry, consisting mainly of recruits distinguished itself. Only 65 of its troopers were captured, a few managed to return to Troppau but most of them were killed at their post.

The capture of the convoy put an end to Frederick's hope of making himself master of Olmütz. He had to lift the Siege of Olmütz and to retire through Bohemia (for details on his retreat, please refer to the last section of our article on the Prussian invasion of Moravia).

Order of Battle

Austrian Order of Battle

Colonel Baron Ernst Gideon Loudon's Corps (about 10,000 men)

Lanjus' Corps

Joseph Baron von Siskovics' Corps (incorporating part of Saint-Ignon's Corps)

Prussian Order of Battle

Commander-in-Chief: General of Cavalry Hans Joachim von Zieten

Mosel's escort (12 bns)

Zieten's Corps

References

This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  1. St.; E. v.: Zum Säcular-GedÇachtniss von 1758 – Der Felzug in Mähren oder die Belagerung und der Entsatz von Olmütz, Frankfurt am Main: Sauerländer's Verlag, 1858, pp. 8-180
  2. Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 6-7, 66-135
  3. Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 18
  4. Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 260-265
  5. Archenholz, J. W., The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 148, 156, 171
  6. Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 442-444

Other sources

S.P.N. (maybe Siegmund Pollatschek von Nordwall): Reflexion über die zu der Affaire zu Domstadl (30. Juni 1758) in Beziehung stehenden Ereignisse des 26., 27., 28., 29. und 30. Juni 1758, in: Streffleurs Österreichische Militärische Zeitschrift, XVII Jg., 1876, Vol. 3., August, pp. 147-170 (from Archive.org)