1758 - Austrian invasion of Saxony
The campaign lasted from July to November 1758
- 1 Description
- 1.1 Early operations in Saxony
- 1.2 Austro-Imperial Army enters into Saxony
- 1.3 Daun enters into Saxony
- 1.4 Frederick arrives in Saxony
- 1.5 Frederick slowly advances towards Zittau
- 1.6 Battle of Hochkirch
- 1.7 Frederick marches to Silesia
- 1.8 Daun blockades Dresden
- 1.9 Frederick comes back from Silesia
- 2 References
Early operations in Saxony
After the capitulation of Minden, on March 15, this strong detachment returned to its winter-quarters in Saxony. Meanwhile, Prince Henri was taking his dispositions for the next campaign with his small army (22 bns and 20 sqns).
Prince Henri first detached General Grabow to take Hof by surprise. However, the garrison was informed of his plan and had time to retire from the place.
Austria convinced the Reichsarmee to redeploy on the border between Saxony and Bohemia to protect the latter from a potential Prussian invasion from Saxony. The Reichsarmee was further reinforced by an Austrian Corps under the command of General Dombasle, consisting of Austrian troops who had until then served with the French in Westphalia. The Duke of Zweibrücken had now succeeded to the Prince of Hildburghausen at the head of the Reichsarmee cantoned in Franconia with its left linked to the French positions through Thuringia and the Fulda Country and its right linked to the Austrian troops covering Bohemia.
On April 19, Zweibrücken's Army encamped at Bayreuth. It consisted of:
- 15 bns, 14 grenadier coys and 3 cuirassier sqns under General Kolb
- 17 sqns cantoned in the neighbouring villages
- Autrian Splényi Hussars occupying Hof
Prince Henri finally received the reinforcement sent by Frederick II (2 bns and 20 sqns under General Driesen) as well as the 6 battalions sent from Berlin.
Prince Henri advanced upon the Reichsarmee. General Hülsen encamped at Friebergsdorf (unidentified location) with 8 bns, 10 cuirassier sqns and 5 hussar sqns to cover the Bohemian mountains while Prince Henri advanced on Hof through Zwickau with 18 bns and 27 sqns, cantoning from Plauen to Taltitz.
On May 15, as Prince Henri approached, the Reichsarmee left Bayreuth and encamped at Eger (present-day Cheb) in Bohemia. A small detachment was left behind to cover Franconia and the magazines at Bamberg. Meanwhile, Prince Henri sent Frei-Infanterie von Mayr careering about in Franconia once again. Mayr even reached Bayreuth where the camp of the Reichsarmee had lately been.
On May 22, the Reichsarmee left Eger and marched towards Saatz (present-day Žatec) in Bohemia. The same day, Prince Henri followed Mayr with a stronger corps to root out the Reichsarmee in Franconia.
On May 28, the Reichsarmee arrived at Saatz where it made a junction with an Austrian Corps under the command of General Andlau. The Duke of Zweibrücken then took command of the combined army which, including the Austrian troops of Serbelloni at Laun (present-day Louny) and of Hadik at Brüx (present-day Most), now consisted of 43 bns, 41 grenadier coys, 36 grenzer coys and 79 sqns. It counted 35,000 men to which were added 15,000 Austrians of a solid quality.
Prince Henri decided to threaten Franconia. He sent General Driesen against Bamberg with 2 bns and 150 picked troops from each regiment. His expedition was totally successful: Bamberg was put to contribution and the magazines captured. Meanwhile, Prince Henri detached Asseburg with 6 bns, 5 sqns and about 100 hussars at Zschopau.
On June 6, Hülsen's Corps, now reinforced with 6 bns, made a junction with Asseburg at Zschopau. Meanwhile, the Austro-Imperial army remained idle in its camp of Saatz.
On June 21, Prince Henri recalled Driesen from Bamberg and made a junction with Hülsen's Corps at Zschopau on the southern side of Saxony with his eye well on the passes of the Erzgebirge (Metal Mountains). He then detached General Itzenplitz with 8 bns and 5 sqns against Zwickau to observe the movements of General Dombasle who was finally arrived from Westphalia. Meanwhile, Prince Henri's Army (21 bns and 40 sqns) remained encamped in 3 lines at Zschopau.
General Knobloch was later detached with 3 bns to Freiberg to protect the line of communication with Dresden. Both armies remained in their respective positions until mid July.
Austro-Imperial Army enters into Saxony
On July 20, now that operations in Moravia had turned in favour of the Austrians, Zweibrücken quitted his camp of Saatz and moved to a new one between Brüx and Bilin (present-day Bílina).
On July 21, the Austro-Imperial vanguard, under the command of Hadik marched to Töpplitz (present-day Teplice).
On July 23, Hadik advanced to Tornow (unidentified location) with the vanguard. To cover the advance of the vanguard, light troops made a diversion on Marienberg.
On July 25, when Prince Henri was informed of the departure of the Austro-Imperial Army from Saatz, he immediately detached Knobloch with Knobloch Infantry and Bredow Fusiliers to occupy the heights of Lungwitz near Dippoldiswalde and to stop the incursions of the Austrian light troops. The same day, Itzenplitz arrived at Chemnitz. Kalden Infantry was left at Zwickau and Hausen's battalion at Freiberg.
When the Austrian General Dombasle was informed of Itzenplitz's retreat, he quitted his camp at Hof and marched northwards to Gefell, sending his light troops as fas as Halle. Prince Henri detached Salmuth to Halle to repulse the Austrian light troops. The advance of Knobloch to Dippoldiswalde worried Zweibrücken who sent detachments to Schonewalde (unidentified location) and Altenberg.
On July 28, the Austro-Imperial Army marched from Brüx to Dux (present-day Duchcov).
On July 29, the Austro-Imperial army marched from Dux to Töpplitz. The same day Dombasle's Corps moved from Gefell to Plauen while Luzinsky marched to Reichenbach.(probably Reichenbach Callenberg west of Chemnitz).
Prince Henri realised that the Austro-Imperial army planned to invade Saxony by the Gottleuba highway with Daun's support. Accordingly, he resolved to move his main force in the Dresden-Pirna area. To cover the movement of his army towards Dresden, Prince Henri made a diversion on the Bohemian border.
On July 31, Prince Henri attacked the entrenchments of Passberg (unidentified location) defended by 100 man of the Slavonisch-Gradiskaner Grenzer and some regular foot. The Austrians stood their ground for four hours before being driven out. Another engagement took place at Sebastianberg against a battalion of Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer under the command of Major Vorberg.
On August 7, Daun sent Loudon with a strong corps towards Upper Lusatia.
On August 10, the Austrian Main Army under Daun quitted its camp at Horzeniowes (present-day Hořiněves) near Smirzitz (present-day Smiřice) and marched towards Zittau, by Gitschin (present-day Jičín), Turnau (present-day Turnov), Reichenberg (present-day Liberec).
On August 12, Prince Henri's Main Army occupied the following positions:
- Pirna and Sonnenstein guarded by Garrison Regiment Nr. IV von Grape;
- Kohlberg entrenchments guarded by 1 Frei-Infanterie battalion and 1 fusilier battalion;
- on the heights of Maxen, Knobloch with 6 bns and 400 horse;
- at the camp of Dippoldiswalde, Prince Henri with 12 bns and 10 sqns;
- at the camp of Hilbersdorf, Hülsen with 5 bns and 5 sqns;
- at Freiberg, 2 bns;
- at Waldenburg, Asseburg's Corps consisting of 6 bns and 15 sqns.
On the same day, the Slavonisch-Gradiskaner Grenzer attacked a Prussian camp by surprise at Kohlberg, killing 100 men and capturing horses and baggage.
The Austro-Imperial army threw a bridge over the Elbe at Aussig (present-day Ústí nad Labem) to establish a better line of communication with Daun's Army. General Guasco crossed this bridge with the carabiniers and grenadiers of Daun's force and marched to Bad Schandau, communicating with Hadik's Corps at Gießhübel (probably Berggießhübel ).
On August 15, Dombasle's Corps (15,000 Austrians) advanced up to Chemnitz to observe Asseburg's Corps which had retired northwestwards on Penig.
On August 17, the Austro-Imperial Main Army encamped between Schonewalde and Peterswalde (two unidentified locations). The same day, Daun arrived at Zittau with the Austrian Main Army, establishing magazines. Furthermore, Loudon pushed up to Seidenberg (unidentified location). General Harsch was left to guard the Silesian border with a corps of about 11,000 men.
Daun enters into Saxony
On August 19, Daun pushed forward from Zittau with nothing but Zieten to cover him in the distance, aiming for Prince Henri's rear, not his flank.
On August 20, Prince Henri retired from Dippoldiswalde to Großsedlitz with 8 bns and 12 sqns. Knobloch retired from Maxen towards Gamig while Hülsen's Corps replaced his corps at Maxen. The same day, Daun marched from Zittau to Görlitz. This movement was intended to cover Loudon's advance from Seidenberg towards Brandenburg where he intended to make a junction with the Russian army.
Dombasle's Corps then marched from Frauenstein to Freiberg and Kleefeld's Corps to Liebstadt where it made a junction with Hadik. Meanwhile, Trautmansdorf's corps, along with the grenadiers and the reserve under Macquire reached Pirna.
By August 25, Loudon had reached Peitz on his way to Brandenburg.
On August 26, Daun's Main Army quitted Görlitz and marched to Bautzen, leaving the Prince of Durlach behind at Schonberg (unidentified location) with 27 bns, 5 cavalry regiments and 400 grenzers to cover Lusatia, Bohemia and the magazines at Zittau.
On August 27, the Austro-Imperial Main Army encamped at Struppen and threw a bridge across the Elbe at Oberrathen to establish a line of communication with Daun who had now reached Bautzen.
During the night of August 31 to September 1, Prince Henri's Army quitted its camp at Großsedlitz in two columns in total silence, moved westwards and encamped on the heights of Gamig behind the Müglitz.
On September 1, Daun's Army reached Radeberg north of Dresden. Daun was attempting to isolate Prince Henri from the other Prussian corps and to catch his small army between Zweibrücken's Austro-Imperial Army and his own. However, Daun was informed that Zieten had prevented the planned raid of Loudon's Corps into Brandenburg and that the Russians had been stopped at the battle of Zorndorf. Furthermore, the Prince of Durlach informed Daun that Margrave Carl was advancing along the Bober towards Sagan. Finally, Daun learned that Prince Henri had repositioned his army at Gamig. The same day, Zweibrücken sent a detachment against Sonnenstein under Macquire.
On September 3, Daun, changing his plan, sent Lacy to make a junction with Zweibrücken's Austro-Imperial Army. Meanwhile, Loudon who was back from Brandenburg, was posted at Hoyerswerda to the northeast of Dresden to protect the line of communication with the Prince Durlach's Corps at Löbau. Furthermore, Vela was detached to Görlitz to cover Lusatia. The same day, Frederick left Cüstrin in Brandenburg and retraced his steps towards Saxony.
On September 5, Macquire captured Sonnenstein without resistance. Colonel Grape surrendered with Garrison Regiment Nr. IV (1 ,442 men) which were taken as prisoners of war. After this operation, Zweibrücken's Army occupied the camp of Pirna while Prince Henri built a strong abatis and a redoubt near Weissenhirsch (unidentified location) up to the road to Radeberg.
Frederick arrives in Saxony
On September 9, Daun went to Lohmen near the Elbe to discuss with Zweibrücken the combined attack planned for the following day. Zweibrücken asked to postpone the attack to the night of September 10 to 11 to allow him enough time to prepare it adequately. The same day, Frederick arrived at Großdobritz one march from Dresden. Zieten who had followed his advance, protecting his right flank made a junction with Frederick's force. Margrave Carl also arrived with the Prussian Army of Silesia. He had pushed Loudon's Corps back to the heights of Radeberg behind the Röder.
On September 10, everything was ready for the Austro-Imperial combined attack on Prince Henri's positions when Daun was informed that Frederick was back from Brandenburg with his army. The same day Puttkamer with Puttkamer Hussars and 3 Freikorps bns reconnoitred Loudon's position at Radeberg.
On September 11, the entire Prussian Army was assembled at the camp of Reichenberg. Frederick went to Dresden to discuss with Prince Henri whose army was still encamped at Gamig. The same day, the 10 cuirassier sqns previously sent by Prince Henri to reinforce Dohna's Corps in Brandenburg arrived at Gamig. Daun resolved to maintain his position at Stolpen to interdict Silesia to the Prussian Army and thus hoping to help Harsch enterprises in these quarters. Daun's camp at Stolpen was a very strong position with his front and right flank protected by the steep-sided Wesnitz and his left flank covered by the Fort of Stolpen and a steep-sided stream. All roads leading to Stolpen passed by deep defiles. Loudon was at Radeberg, Durlach at Löbau and light troops linked Daun's position to Zweibrücken's Army through a bridge thrown across the Elbe near Pirna. Frederick decided to manoeuvre against Daun's right flank and to threaten his magazines at Zittau. To execute his plan, Frederick first had to dislodge Loudon from his positions at Radeberg. He charged Retzow of this mission and gave him 14 bns, 3 Freikorps bns and 25 sqns.
Frederick slowly advances towards Zittau
During the night of September 12 to 13, Retzow's detachment remained in arms near Langebrück.
On September 13, Frederick's army quitted Reichenberg in two columns and encamped in four lines at Schönfeld. The infantry formed the two first lines and the cavalry the two last ones. Two bridges were thrown across the Elbe at Pillnitz to establish a line of communication with Prince Henri. These bridges were guarded by the VI. Standing Grenadier Battalion. In the morning, Retzow reconnoitred the Austrian positions. Indeed, Daun had already given orders to Loudon and Durlach to move closer to his main army. Loudon had moved to Arnsdorf and Durlach to Putzkau to cover Daun's right flank. He also moved the Austrian carabiniers and grenadiers closer to Lohmen and his Reserve near Stürza. He also placed 5 hussar regiments under Esterhazy on the heights of Dure-Rohrsdorf (unidentified location) to cover his left flank and the communications with Zweibrücken's Army. General Vela was positioned at Bautzen from where he pushed patrols on Kamenz and Elstra. The Austrian bridge at Pirna was transferred to Oberrathen. The same day, the Prussians attacked the outpost of Weissenhirsch and drove out a detachment of the Warasdiner-Sankt Georger Grenzer.
On September 14, Retzow encamped at Radeberg where he was reinforced by 10 sqns. Loudon at Arnsdorf was still blocking the road to Bautzen.
On September 15, Retzow moved closer to the Austrian positions. An engagement took place against a party of Warasdiner-Sankt Georger Grenzer at Arnsdorf not far from Stolpen.
On September 16, Frederick prepared everything for a general attack on Loudon's position. Loudon, who had been reinforced by 5 regiments, decided to retire on the left wing of the army, loosing 369 grenzers taken prisoners during his manoeuvre. Retzow, who had been reinforced by 7 bns and 5 sqns, was now at the head of 23 bns and 40 sqns. He encamped at Arnsdorf. Frederick was then informed of the latest developments in Pomerania and sent 8 bns to reinforce the Prussian force operating on this theatre of operation. Realising that Daun was not willing to accept an open battle, Frederick barracked his infantry while his cavalry built stables from branches and scrubs.
On September 25, Loudon was posted near Bishofswerda while Durlach's Corps was moved to Wilthen to guard the road to Löbau.
On September 26, Frederick encamped at Rammenau near Bishofswerda.
On September 27, Frederick reconnoitred Loudon's camp and gave order to attack it the following day.
On September 28, Loudon expecting an attack retired at 4:00 a.m.. The Prussian army occupied Bishofswerda and advanced its left on the heights of Goldbach and its centre in front of Rammenau. The same day, the Austrian Corps of Durlach moved from Wilthen to Löbau. Frederick sent Retzow forward with 14 bns and 30 sqns towards Bautzen.
On September 29, Retzow arrived at Bautzen. However, Frederick could not follow him with the main army for lack of supplies. He thus lost the occasion of cutting Daun from his magazines at Zittau.
On October 1, the Austrian Corps of General Vela marched from Weissenberg to Hochkirch. Seeing this, Retzow immediately marched to Weissenberg and encamped there with 6 bns and 15 sqns while the rest of his corps encamped at Bautzen under the command of the Prince of Württemberg. Daun recalled 5 bns and the Portugal Cuirassiers which had previously been detached to Zweibrücken's Army.
On October 4, Daun held a council of war where Zweibrücken attended. It was decided to leave Stolpen and to occupy a new camp at Löbau.
On October 5, Daun detached the Duke of Ursel with the second line of the left wing to occupy the heights of Tautewalde on the road to Wilthen. The rest of the Austrian Army quitted Stolpen in the afternoon and camped out at Krusta (unidentified location). The Duke of Aremberg led the rearguard consisting of Loudon's Corps, the Reserve, the second line of grenadiers and carabiniers and the hussar regiments under Esterhazy. When Frederick learned that Daun was retiring, he gave orders to pursue the rearguard. However, the Prussians were repulsed with a loss of 400 men.
During the night of October 6 to 7, the Austrian Corps of Vela (Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer (1,812 men) and an unidentified hussar unit (437 men)) occupied the Stromberg, a very high hill dominating the neighbourhood. Retzow had neglected to occupy this height with appropriate forces, posting only some cavalry which retired at night.
Battle of Hochkirch
On October 7, the Austrian Army marched to Kittlitz just north of Löbau. It encamped there with its right behind the Stromberg and its left behind the wooded heights of Hochkirch. The carabiniers and grenadiers camped out to the left. Loudon, who covered the march left the Lammerberg, posted his corps between Kleinpostwitz and Schirgiswalde to observe the movements of the Prussian Army. The same day the Austrian Corps of Durlach crossed the river at Löbau and took position at Rosenhain. Meanwhile Frederick marched to Bautzen with the Prussian Main Army and the Prince of Württemberg quitted this town to make a junction with Retzow at Weissenberg. Marshal Keith staid behind with 7 bns and 15 sqns to wait for Bülow. who escorted the bread convoy and the chest. Frederick then waited for a second large provision-convoy from Dresden.
On October 8, Bülow joined Keith with supplies. Keith immediately departed to bring these supplies to the army while Bülow waited for a convoy of flour which arrived very late in the evening.
On October 10, Bülow marched with all the train to Bautzen where the bakery was immediately set up. Frederick marched with the main army in 4 columns towards Hochkirch. As the Prussian Army was arriving at Hochkirch the fog lifted and Frederick could see the Austrian Army drawn in battle order in front of its camp at Kittlitz. Despite the proximity of the Austrian Army, Frederick decided to encamp at Hochkirch for the night. Frederick knew that his position was quite bad but, since the Austrians had never attacked him since the beginning of the war, he decided to wait for the arrival of supplies before moving to another location. Marwitz objected in pitching camp in such position but was put under arrest and another adjutant did it. The same day, a Prussian force under Retzow tried to seize the Stromberg only to find it already occupied by the Austrians. Retzow considering the position impregnable retreated without fighting and Frederick had him arrested under the charge of cowardice.
On October 13, Frederick sent Lattorf escorted by 4 bns and 100 hussars to Bautzen with all wagons. Lattorf was supposed to come back from Bautzen by Purschwitz and Weissenberg. Meanwhile, Kannacher was sent to Dresden with 3 bns and 200 hussars to bring back flour. Once he would get these supplies, Frederick planned to cross the Löbau during the night at Gröditz, pushing back the Austrian Corps of Durlach and to encamp at Schöps on the Austrian right flank. To reconnoitre the area, Frederick went personally to Weissenberg escorted by Forcade Infantry. He then decided to make this manoeuvre during the night of October 14 to 15. The same day, Daun had planted a new battery in front of his centre. Then at nightfall, the entire Austrian Army started advancing in several columns towards Frederick's position. The Battle of Hochkirch began with a night attack. The Austrians almost succeeded in surrounding the Prussian Army but Frederick managed to extricate his army from this trap and retired to Purschwitz and Kleinbautzen on one of the branches of the Spree. The Prussians finally encamped at Doberschütz. The same day October 14), Zweibrücken's Austro-Imperial Army finally left its camp at Pirna and moved to Gishubel (unidentified location).
Frederick immediately gave orders to Prince Henri to sent him from his camp of Gamig a reinforcement of 6,000 men consisting of 8 bns, 5 hussar sqns, 12 x 12-pdrs and a large quantity of ammunition. Meanwhile, Daun, who had retired into his entrenched camp at Kittlitz, sent messengers to General Harsh in Silesia, urging him to speed up the siege of Neisse (present-day Nysa). He then celebrated his victory without doing any attempt to impede the movements of the defeated Prussian Army.
On October 17, Daun departed from his camp at Kittlitz and moved closer to Frederick's positions. He deployed his right wing on the heights of Belgern covered by the Löbau River and some ponds. All Austrian grenadier companies along with the carabiniers were posted on this plateau. Daun's lines extended on the heights behind the villages of Kumschütz and Baschütz up to the defile of Jenkwitz. Meanwhile, Loudon's Corps took position on the heights of Weissitz (unidentified location) in front of the Austrian left wing. Most of Durlach's Corps made a junction with the Austrian Main Army while the rest took position on the Schaafberg under the command of Vela to cover the right flank and the road to Görlitz. Daun then took disposition to reinforce his new camp with defensive works.
While Daun was remaining idle in his new camp entrenching his position, Prince Henri made a junction with Frederick's army with the required reinforcements (8 bns and 5 hussar sqns) and a considerable train. Now that the Russians and Swedes were slowly retiring towards their winter-quarters in Pomerania and Poland, Frederick resolved to recall most of Wedell's and Dohna's Corps from Pomerania and Brandenburg to reinforce Saxony. His plan was now to go to the rescue of the besieged fortress of Neisse in Silesia, hoping that Prince Henri, reinforced by Wedell and Dohna, could hold Dresden for 3 to 4 weeks.
Frederick marches to Silesia
On October 22 in the evening, a convoy transporting the sick and wounded of the Prussian army (about 3,000 men) left Bautzen escorted by Bülow Fusiliers and 5 sqns. It marched towards Dresden by a large sweeping movement by Kamenz, Königsbrück and Radeberg. However, when he arrived at Kamenz, Bülow was informed that the Austrian General Nauendorf had taken position at Königsbrück with 4 infantry regiments. Bülow then received new orders from Frederick, instructing him to march from Kamenz through Hoyerswerda to Glogau (present-day Głogów) in Silesia.
On October 23 at 10:00 p.m., General Bornstedt with 4 bns and 5 hussar sqns left Frederick's camp with the supply and ammunition train. The convoy advanced along the Spree River up to Commerau where it crossed on the right bank.
On October 24 at 6:00 p.m., a Prussian Corps of 6 bns and 5 hussar sqns marched with the baggage by Salaa and Leichnam (unidentified location) to Neudorf where it crossed the Spree. He then waited for the main army. Meanwhile at 10:00 p.m., the Prussian infantry occupying the advanced posts retired on the main army in total silence, leaving only cavalry in these posts. About the same time, the vanguard consisting of Werner Hussars, Frei-Infanterie de Salenmon (1 bn) and the 8 bns brought by Prince Henri, marched on Drehsa (does not correspond to the general direction of the movement, more probably Brösa), crossed the Spree at Geisslitz, turned right and advanced through Weigersdorf, Gross Radisch and Diehsa up to the camp at Ullersdorf. The first column, consisting of infantry followed the same road. The second column, consisting of cavalry, crossed the Spree at Neudorf followed by Braun's convoy. It advanced through Dauban, Leipgen and Kollm to the camp at Ullersdorf. The same evening, Bornstedt departed from Commerau with the supply train and marched by Lieske, Tauer, Förstgen, Sproitz to Jänkendorf. Prince Henri led the rearguard composed of 11 bns and 20 sqns. As soon as the Prussian Army had left the camp, he occupied the Spitzbergen heights until daybreak. Frederick encamped with his right at Diehsa, his left at Baarsdorf and his headquarters at Ullersdorf. Chased from the road to Görlitz, the Austrian Corps of Vela retired on the Austrian Main Army. When Daun was informed that Frederick's entire army had taken possession of the road to Görlitz behind his own lines, the heads of the Prussian columns had already reached Gross Radisch. The only immediate measure taken by Daun was to send Caramelli to pursue the Prussian rearguard.
On October 25 at noon, Bornstedt arrived at Jänkendorf (about 0,5 km from Ullersdorf) with the supply train and formed a wagenburg. The Austrians occupied Bautzen where they captured Prince Moritz and General Geist who had been left behind because of their severe wounds. In the afternoon, Daun sent ahead Lacy with the grenadiers, Arenberg with the Reserve and Esterhazy with 2 regiments of hussars to Reichenbach, 12 km west of Görlitz to observe Frederick's Army. When they saw Frederick's camp at Ullersdorf, they realised that he would be at Görlitz before them unless they marched during the following night. They then decided to occupy the Lanskrone heights which was done by 7:00 p.m..
On October 26 at 2:00 a.m., Frederick marched from Ullersdorf with the vanguard reinforced by all dragoon and hussar units of the army. To hide his march, he took a small road passing by Ober Rengersdorf. from where he reached the plain in front of Görlitz. The Prussian Main Army followed at 3:00 a.m., the first column taking the same road, the second column marching alongside by Nieder Rengensdorf, the third column (consisting of Bornstedt with the supply train), reinforced by Freikorps and foot jägers, marched towards Görlitz by Särichen, Grosskrauscha and Ludwigsdorf. Frederick was at Ebersbach with his vanguard when it made contact with elements of Austrian light cavalry. Frederick instructed Werner Hussars and Puttkamer Hussars to occupy the heights facing the Landskrone to hide the arrival of the Prussian dragoons and cuirassiers. When the Prussian dragoons were formed behind their hussars, the latter attacked Paul Anton Esterházy Hussars and threw them back on their carabiniers. The Austrian carabiniers immediately counter-charged the Prussian hussars and pushed them back. At the same time, Czettritz Dragoons along with 3 sqns of Normann Dragoons fell on the Austrian carabiniers, the Prussian hussars then rallied, charged and broke the Austrian carabiniers. During their retreat, the Austrians lost a great number of horse grenadiers killed while 418 along with 8 officers were taken prisoners. After this action, Austrian grenzer troops hastily evacuated Görlitz. Frederick first considered attacking the Austrians on the Landskrone but this position was too strong. He then encamped in the plain with his right at Ebersbach and his left at Görlitz. The headquarters at Görlitz were guarded by 17 bns. The villages of Ebersbach and Girbigsdorf were both occupied by 10 bns. However, the Austrian grenzer troops remained master of the lower part of the village of Girbigsdorf. Several bridges were thrown over the Neisse River and Frei-Infanterie le Noble and Frei-Infanterie du Verger crossed the river. The same day, Daun finally decided to quit his camp near Belgern and to advance towards Görlitz. Daun encamped with his right on the Burgsberg near Jauernick-Buschbach, his centre on the Landskrone and his left at Markersdorf. Loudon's Corps formed the rearguard.
On October 27, Loudon encamped on the heights of Königshain on the Prussian right flank. Meanwhile, Daun had formed the plan to make himself master of the three cities of Dresden, Leipzig and Torgau. Accordingly, he sent General Tillier to discuss with Zweibrücken how to combine their operations against Dresden.
On October 28, Daun sent Wied with a strong reinforcement of 9 bns, 10 grenadier coys and 4 cavalry rgts to General Harsch, hoping that he would be able to capture Neisse before Frederick's arrival. Daun also detached Vela to occupy the mountains of Schönberg (unidentified location) while Loudon was preparing to vigorously pursue the Prussian rearguard in Silesia. Daun himself was waiting for Frederick to quit Saxony before attempting a raid on Dresden. The same day, Wedell quitted Suckow in Pomerania with a Prussian force and marched towards Berlin.
On October 29 in the afternoon, the Prussian army being now resupplied, Bornstedt marched towards Gruna (present-day Gronów) with the supply train. The same day, Braun crossed the pontoons bridge at Görlitz and marched to Leopoldshain (present-day Łagów) with the artillery train and baggage escorted by 4 bns.
During the night of October 29 to 30, the Prussian vanguard crossed the Neisse. At midnight, the battalions cantoned in the surrounding villages joined the main army which also crossed the Neisse. At daybreak, Frederick's entire army was on the eastern bank of the Neisse, abandoning momentarily Saxony to its fate with the goal of relieving the Prussian force besieged at Neisse and to stop the Austrian invasion of Silesia. After Frederick's departure for Silesia, Major-general Finck assumed command in Saxony.
On October 31, Wedell arrived at Berlin where he waited for Dohna's corps.
Daun blockades Dresden
Dohna made a junction with Wedell's Corps at Berlin and they both took the road towards Torgau in Saxony with 23 bns and 32 sqns. Only 8 bns under Manteuffel were left in North Germany.
On November 3, Daun threw a bridge over the Neisse River to give the impression that he planned to pursue the Prussian Army in Silesia. Meanwhile, Zweibrücken marched to Lauenstein with the Austro-Imperial Army.
On November 4 in the morning, Daun took the road to Bautzen instead of entering into Silesia. However, he sent General O'Kelly at Lauban in Silesia to support Loudon if necessary. The same day, Zweibrücken marched to Hermsdorf. Now, only Roth Brigade guarded the boat-bridge at Pirna.
On November 5, the Prussian Corps under the command of Finck abandoned its camp at Gamig and retired behind the vale of Plauen to avoid behind attacked on both fronts. The new Prussian position had its right towards Zolmen (unidentified location) and its left at Postewitz (unidentified location).
On November 6, Daun left Dittersbach and crossed the Elbe at Pirna.
On November 7, Daun encamped at Lockwitz about 10 km to the south-east of Dresden. Meanwhile, Zweibrücken's Army took position at Freiberg about 50 km to the south-west of the Saxon capital. A few days later, Zweibrücken detached Hadik towards Torgau to capture the city which was defended by only 2 bns.
During the night of November 7 to 8, Finck held a council of war where it was decided to march towards Meißen at daybreak before being totally surrounded. Two officers were sent to Schmettau commanding at Dresden to inform him of these dispositions and to ask him to hold until the arrival of Wedell's and Dohna's reinforcements. Daun was soon informed of the intentions of the Prussians. Indeed, this was exactly what Finck was hoping for. He did not intend to leave for Meißen but instead to delay Daun's operations.
On November 8 at daybreak, Finck went to Dresden to discuss his plan with Schmettau. Meanwhile, he had given orders to bake foods, to throw a bridge over the Elbe downstream of Dresden and to prepare three roads leading to this bridge.
On November 9 at 6:00 a.m., the baggage and the artillery train marched under an escort consisting of 30 men from each battalion. At 2:00 p.m., Finck was informed that Daun's Army was on the move. Finck's Corps was placed under arms and the detachments at Wilsdruff and Kesselsdorf recalled. The whole corps then marched by the left. The first column consisting of infantry marched by Altfranken, crossed the bridge, entered into Dresden by the Wilsdruff Gate, went through the city and encamped in front of the new town. The second column, consisting of Grabow Fusiliers and all the cavalry, marched by the Freiberg Road, crossed the boat-bridge, went through the city and encamped between the “Black Gate” and the “White Gate”. The train had marched in front of the second column. To cover the march of his corps, Finck had taken position at Plauen with 6 bns acting as a rearguard. Colonel Mayr who had occupied the park was attacked and fought till the evening when he retired to the suburbs of Dresden.
On November 10 at 3:00 a.m., Schmettau was informed that Daun was planting his batteries in the suburbs. Schmettau, who had previously taken dispositions for this, set fire to the suburbs; 280 houses were burned. Daun rather than besieging the town then resolved to blockade it. He sent O'Donell to Gersdorf on the other side of the Elbe to observe the Prussians. The same day, Wedell arrived at Herzberg about 23 km north-east of Torgau. There, he was informed by Major Lossow that Hadik was marching on Torgau with an Austrian force of 10,000 men. Indeed, Hadik was at Grimma awaiting the arrival of some heavy cannon and howitzers.
On November 11, Hadik marched to Eulenburg on the Mulde.
On November 12, Hadik completed his march and arrived in the neighbourhood of Torgau. The same day, Zweibrücken's Austro-Imperial Army marched towards Leipzig which was already blockaded by parts of Kleefeld's and Lichtenstein's detachments.
On November 13, Hadik moved closer to Torgau. Colonel Grolmann, the Prussian commander of the place, made a sortie. Hadik believing that Wedell had already reached Torgau suspended his attack and retired to Eulenburg. This allowed enough time to Wedell to throw 5 sqns into Torgau, soon followed by the rest of his corps. Meanwhile, Kleefeld was marching from Borna Liebschützberg to reinforce Hadik before Torgau.
On November 14, Dohna's Corps arrived at Torgau.
Frederick comes back from Silesia
On November 15, all Prussian forces, having crossed the Elbe under the guns of Torgau, attacked the bridge at Eulenburg. Lieutenant-general Prince of Stolberg seconded by Major-general Baron von Nagel at the head of the regiment Gyulay and of the troops of Cologne, put up a strong resistance. This regiment repulsed three Prussian attacks. However, the Prussian mounted troops managed to cross the river and deployed to attack Hadik's positions. The latter decided to retire to Grimma. Before leaving, he set fire to the bridge. At Grimma, Hadik was reinforced by 10 squadrons of the Splényi Hussars and Szechényi Hussars under the command of Reid and Luzinsky. Hadik, who had lost 250 men in the action at Eulenburg, called Kleefeld and Lichtenstein to join his own force. Meanwhile, Dohna encamped near Eulenburg. The same day, the Austro-Imperial Army marched to Colditz where Zweibrücken was informed of Hadik's defeat. He decided to retire on Chemnitz and to take his winter-quarters. Meanwhile, Frederick, who was on his way back from Silesia, had already reached Lauban. Loudon then retired to Zittau in Saxony.
On November 16, Daun lifted the blockade of Dresden and retired to Pirna.
On November 17, Frederick crossed the Löbau at Weissenberg and learned that Daun had abandoned the blockade of Dresden. Frederick then took with him the 8 bns that he had taken from the Prussian Army of Saxony after his defeat at Hochkirch along with 20 sqns and marched to Dresden with Prince Henri. The rest of Frederick's Army returned to Silesia under the command of Margrave Carl.
On November 20, Finck's Corps lifted camp and took cantonments in the region.
On November 21, Frederick was informed that Daun had razed the Fortress of Sonnenstein and retired to Bohemia.
Frederick then gave orders to clear Saxony of any remaining enemy troops. He detached Wildersheim to Pirna with 2 bns and 5 sqns, and Hülsen to Freiberg with 5 bns and 5 sqns. Meanwhile, the Prussian cavalry quitted Dresden to take its winter-quarters in the cities of Leipzig and Halle. Itzenplitz and Knobloch marched into the Voigtland with 13 bns and took their quarters at Zwickau and Gera. Wedell quitted Eulenburg to reinforce the Prussian Corps operating in Voigtland. The rest of the Prussian infantry took its winter-quarters in and around the towns of Meissen and Dresden. Dohna also left Eulenburg, advanced through Leipzig and returned to Pomerania with 21 bns and 35 sqns to repulse the Swedes.
On December 10, Frederick personally departed from Dresden to return to Silesia.
Daun took his winter-quarters in Bohemia in and around the towns of Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice) and Bunzlau (present-day Stará Boleslav). His headquarters were at Prague. The Reichsarmee spent the winter in Franconia.
This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 86-90, 171-176, 178-241, 247-256
- Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 18
- Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 324-324
- Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 446-450
Cogswell, Neil, First Battle of Torgau, November 13, 1758, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. IX No. 2
Zweibrücken, Journal of the Imperial Army of Execution under the Orders of His Most Serene Highness the Prince von Pfalz Zweybrucken
Alessandro Colaiacomo for the description of the manoeuvres during the month preceding the battle of Hochkirch