1758 - Prussian invasion of Moravia – Preparations and Arrival
The campaign lasted from March to July 1758
Since December 24 1757, Werner’s Prussian detachment occupied Troppau (present-day Opava) while Simbschen’s Austrian detachment had retired to Grätz (present-day Hradec nad Moravicí/CZ) and Fulnek.
- Simbschen was at the head of approx. 3,500 men:
- Werner commanded
- Grenadier Battalion Heyden (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion Rath (1 bn) recently arrived from Cosel
- Garrison Regiment X Blanckensee (1 bn) recently arrived from Neisse
- Freibataillon Kalben (1 bn)
- Werner Hussars (8 sqns)
- Warnery Hussars (1 commandeered sqn)
- Schmettau Cuirassiers (3 sqns) recently arrived from Neisse
Werner used his superiority over Simbschen’s forces to extract money and supplies contributions from Moravia.
At the beginning of January 1758
- The main Austrian army went to rest in two groups. The reorganisation of this shattered immediately army began. The main army was posted in north-eastern Bohemia. The protection of the frontier was confided to two corps: Major-General Franz Maximilian Baron Jahnus von Eberstädt commanded a chain of posts extending from Neurode (present-day Nowa Ruda/PL), by Wunschelburg (present-day Radków/PL) and Habelschwert (present-day Bystrzyca Kłodzka/PL) up to Jauernig (present-day Javorník ve Slezsku/CZ); while G.d.C. Buccow was responsible for the troops posted between Braunau (present-day Broumov/CZ) and Aupa (present-day Malá Úpa/CZ). Several strong barricades blocked the mountain roads and passes. The headquarters were in Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové). The second large group, formed by the corps of Loudon, Hadik and most of Marschall’s Corps, had taken up its winter-quarters to the south of the Erzgebirge and Elbsandsteingebirge. FZM von Sincère assumed command of this second army.
- The Province of Moravia was covered by Colonel von Simbschen with a small detachment quartered south of Troppau. Simbschen finally received reinforcements (4 cavalry rgts, the Bavarian Contingent and the Saxon cavalry, to the exception of the Karabiniers who were attached to Sincère’s Corps). Simbschen was then placed under the command of FML de Ville.
- Northern Hungary was covered by Major-General von Gastheim with approx. 4,000 irregulars posted south of the Jablunka Pass.
- In case of a general advance of the Prussians into Bohemia, the Austrian command intended to retreat to Moravia.
In January, the Württemberger Contingent effected a junction with Sincère’s army and took position in the region of Saaz (present day Žatec/CZ). Hadik occupied advanced posts along the frontier between Arbesau (present-day Varvažov/CZ) and Klösterle (present-day Klášterec nad Ohří/CZ), blocking the roads leading from Friedland (present-day Frýdlant/CZ) to Gabel (present-day Jablonné v Podještědí/CZ) and from Zittau to Lusatia. Marschall occupied Prague with 4 infantry rgts and his heavy artillery.
In January, Frederick sent Major-General von Schmettau with additional reinforcements (3½ cavalry rgts: Leib-Carabiniers, the rest of Schmettau Cuirassiers, Krockow Dragoons and Stechow Dragoons) for Werner.
On January 12 and 13, Schmettau’s reinforcements arrived at Troppau.
On January 16, Werner and Schmettau, who each commanded independently, made an unsuccessful attempt against Grätz. The failure of the enterprise was partly due to missing unity of command.
At the end of January, Frederick sent Major-General von Saldern to assume command of the corps of Werner and Schmettau at Troppau. Saldern confided command of advanced positions to Werner and established Schmettau’s regiments in the villages north of Troppau.
For the campaign of 1758, Austria planned to put three armies in the field:
- Field-marshal Count Leopold Daun with 64 bns, 45 grenadier coys and 17 cavalry regiments
- Bathyany with 30 bns, 28 grenadier coys and 48 sqns
- Franz Leopold von Nádasdy with 6 bns, 4 grenadier coys and 24 sqns
For this purpose, Austrian troops operating with the French Army were recalled and the 10,000 Saxons were kept back to protect Austria. Very small garrisons were left in the Netherlands and Tuscany had to provide the Toscana Infantry Regiment counting 3 battalions. All other regiments were required to join the Austrian Main Army without delay while orders were issued for raising levies and recruiting.
Austrian light troops (Croats, Bosnians, Italians, Dalmatians and Tyroleans) were also increased to some 76,000 men.
During the winter of 1757-58, Frederick II had completed his army which, at the end of the campaign of 1757, was down to one third its initial strength. He also raised four Frei Bataillon: Hordt, Wunsch, Monjou and du Verger. This winter was particularly rude and both the Austrian and Prussian armies lost many men from sickness.
On February 17 1758, an Austrian Corps (4 Bavarian bns, 4 Grenzer bns, 4 cavalry rgts, 2 hussar rgts, Graf Renard Uhlanen and Graf Rudnicki Uhlanen for a total of about 4,500 men) under de Ville took position at Troppau.
On February 18, de Ville attacked Troppau. He met with a strong resistance. Around noon he managed to bring his superior artillery into position and began to effectively bombard Troppau. Throughout the day, Schmettau was hold in check by the Austrian and Saxon cavalry; in the evening he let his regiments take quarters in the villages north of Troppau.
Early on February 19, to avoid encirclement, Saldern evacuated Troppau and retired northwards to Katscher (present-day Kietrz/PL). However, Stechow Dragoons were not informed of Saldern’s decision and marched towards Troppau during the morning, believing that the town was still in the hands of the Prussians. Austrian hussars and Polish uhlans attacked the regiment on the march from three sides. In this combat, Stechow Dragoons lost 10 officers, 8 NCOs, 279 dragoons and 301 horses taken prisoners or missing. The Leib-Carabiniers who rode to the relief of Stechow Dragoons were only able to rescue the standards and a few men.
Facing a much larger opponent, Saldern obtained Frederick’s authorisation to take up his winter-quarters in the surrounding of Katscher and Leobschütz (present-day Glubczyce/PL).
After the recapture of Troppau, de Ville was charged to cover the Moravian border. Meanwhile, the three Saxon Chevauxlegers regiments were in winter-quarters at Sternberg (present day-Sternberk). Their interim commander was Major-General von Monro. After the death of Count Nostitz (on January 7 from wounds received at Leuthen), Major-General von Zezschwitz was promoted to lieutenant-general and assumed command of the Saxon cavalry.
Frederick assembled an “Observation Army” in the region of Landeshut where it would remain until March 19.
|Detail of a map illustrating movements of the Austrians and Prussians in Moravia from April to July 1758|
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen by the German Grosser Generalstab, Vol. 3
Courtesy: Tony Flores
Prelude to the campaign: Siege of Schweidnitz
At the opening of the campaign of 1758, the Fortress of Schweidnitz (present-day Swidnica), was still in the hands of the Austrians. General Thürheim held the place with a garrison of 8,000 men. The fortress was blockaded since December 1757 by a Prussian force under the command of General Fouqué. Expecting a formal siege, Thürheim significantly strengthened the defences of the place, linking the isolated forts with a fortification wall.
In March, the Austrian General Sincère assembled his army on the right bank of the Elbe near Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice/CZ) and Melnik. Meanwhile, the Württemberger Contingent marched by Bayreuth towards Waiblingen, intending to replenish their heavily depleted ranks (reduced from 4,900 men before the defeat of Leuthen to only 1,900 men) in the Duchy of Württemberg.
On March 9, Daun set out from Vienna to join the Austrian Main Army at Königgratz (present-day Hradec Králové) in Bohemia. This army was still in its winter-quarters, distibuted as follows:
- headquarters at Königgrätz
- artillery around Kuttenberg (present-day Kutná Hora) and Kolín
- pontoons in Prague
- main depots: Prague, Eger (present-day Cheb), Aussig (present-day Ústí na Labem), Pilsen (present-day Plzeň), Budweiss (present-day České Budějovice), Deutschbrod (present-day Havlíčkův Brod), Leuthomischl (present-day Litomyšl), Hohenmauth (present-day Vysoké Mýto), Pardubitz (present-day Pardubice), Königgrätz, Nimburg (present-day Nymburk), Brandeiss (present-day Brandýs nad Labem), Kolín, Kuttenberg
- smaller magazines: Czaslau (present-day Čáslav), Saaz, Töpliz (present-day Teplice), Budin (present-day Budyně), Leitmeriz (present-day Litoměřice), Niemes (present-day Mimoň), Gabel, Zittau, Jungbunzlau (present-day Mladá Boleslav), Trautenau (present-day Trutnov)
- military hospitals: Pardubitz, Jesenitz (present-day Jesenice), Neuhauss (present-day Jindřichův Hradec), Wittingau (present-day Třeboň), Prague, Nassavrek (present-day Nasavrky), Boganov (present-day Bojanov), Schimberg, Kamenitz (present-day Kamenice), Malleschau (present-day Malešín), Suchdoll, Kukus (present-day Kuks)
- all regiments were stationed in various cities and villages of the region
On March 13, Daun joined his army at Königgratz. He diligently perfected his new levies and entrenched himself on all points. Daun fully expected another Prussian invasion of Bohemia.
In mid-March, Lieutenant-General Prince of Württemberg replaced Saldern as commander of the small Prussian corps posted at Katscher and Leobschütz.
On March 15, frost being now off, Frederick left Breslau (present-day Wrocław) in Silesia and established his headquarters at Kloster-Grüssau (present-day Krzeszów) in the hills between Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Góra) and Friedland (present-day Mieroszów). From this position, he was threatening Bohemia while preventing any Austrian relief of Schweidnitz. His army consisted of 43 bns and 65 sqns. Frederick then immediately gave the order to start the siege of Schweidnitz which he entrusted to General Treskow.
On March 16, Frederick left Kloster-Grüssau with 16 bns and 15 sqns to dislodge the Austrian from the region of Glatz (present-day Kłodzko). The corps under the command of Treskow at Schweidnitz consisted of 18 bns and 35 sqns. Its artillery depot was at Jauernick (present-day Stary Jaworów) and its ammunition park at Sabischdorf (present-day Zawiszów).
At the end of March, the Austrian Alt-Wolfenbüttel Infantry, then posted at Smirsitz (present-day Smiřice), was ordered to join the corps of Major-General Jahnus at Senftenberg (present-day Žamberk). After the junction, this corps consisted of 2 bns of Alt Wolfenbüttel Infantry, 2 bns of Königsegg Infantry and detachments from Warasdiner-Sankt Georger Grenzer, Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer, Karlstädter-Oguliner Grenzer and Karlstädter-Ottochaner Grenzer.
In April, all surviving regiments of the Saxon cavalry were reunited in Moravia.
From April 1 to April 18 the Siege of Schweidnitz was conducted in due form and the fortress was finally captured. This allowed Frederick to start preparation for his next operation: the invasion of Moravia. Frederick had been waiting for the surrender of Schweidnitz before redirecting his artillery train towards Olmütz (present-day Olomouc) to lay siege to this fortress. Frederick needed to capture this fortress before undertaking any other operations in Moravia.
During the siege of Schweidnitz, Fouqué had been detached from Landeshut to clean Glatz Country from Grenzer light troops and Zieten had been sent into Troppau Country with a similar mission. These two missions were perfectly accomplished. For example, on April 19, a Prussian detachment of 4,000 men drove Colonel Zedtwitz's Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 1 out of Reinerz (unidentified location) after a fierce resistance.
Frederick on the move again
|Order of Battle|
|Detailed order of battle of the Austrian Army of Field-Marshal Daun on April 20 1758|
On April 19, the Prussians took possession of Schweidnitz. The Prussian Main Army left its cantonments at Landeshut, moved closer to Schweidnitz and cantoned in the neighbourhood of Frankenstein (present-day Ząbkowice Śląskie) while Lieutenant-general Fouqué's Corps (16 bns, 15 sqns, 24 pieces) left Braunau returned to Glatz by Wünschelburg and cantoned at Wallisfurth (present-day Wolany near Szczytna). Meanwhile Lieutenant-general Zieten (12 bns, 10 sqns) moved to Landeshut to cover the mountains against any incursion of the Austrian light troops. Frederick thus assembled an army numbering some 40,000 men.
The Austrians had completely neglected the defence of Moravia. There was only a small corps of some 4,500 men under the command of the Marquis de Ville in the region of Troppau. De Ville could not even depend on a sizeable magazine. Meanwhile, the Austrian Main Army was deployed in the region of Königgrätz to cover all passages leading from Silesia into Bohemia. These passages were protected by numerous redoubts and parapets and covered by light troops.
On April 20, the Austrian General Buccow detached light troops (Warasdiner-Sankt Georger Grenzer, Warasdiner-Creutzer Grenzer, Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer and Karlstädter-Ottochaner Grenzer) under the command of Colonel Brentano to attack Frei-Infanterie de Angelelli at Liebau (present-day Lubawka). The expedition succeeded and the Austrians captured 4 officers, 47 men and 5 guns. Meanwhile, Loudon's advance on the Prussian magazines at Gottesberg (present-day Boguszów-Gorce) was stopped by Zieten and Loudon retired to Schönberg (present-day Krásná Hora) in Bohemia.
On April 24, Frederick personally reconnoitred several locations on the Bohemian border near Glatz as if he intended to attack in this direction, thus reinforcing the belief of the Austrian generals that the next campaign would be another attempt to invade Bohemia. Daun concentrated all his attention on the event occurring on the Bohemian border. He took the best possible disposition to stop Frederick's advance in these quarters, building entrenchments.
On April 25, Frederick entered into Neisse (present-day Nysa) with the vanguard while Field-marshal Keith cantoned in the neighbourhood with the army. Meanwhile, roads leading from Neisse to Glatz were repaired, several bridges were thrown over the river and some 1,000 wagons were assembled. Daun considered these manoeuvres as diversionary actions and maintained his line of defence on the Bohemian border. Indeed, the rumour soon spread that the Prussians were assembling several thousands carts in the vicinity of Neisse to transport the provisions of the army as well as forage and ammunition to create new magazines at Glatz closer to the Bohemian border.
The Prussian army destined to the invasion of Moravia totalled 40 bns and 103 sqns, and included the following corps:
- Fouqué: 16 bns and 15 sqns to escort the siege train and to besiege Olmütz;
- Zieten: 10 bns and 10 sqns positioned at Landeshut to guard the mountains.
On April 27, instead of invading Bohemia as Daun expected, Frederick marched south-eastward through Neisse towards Neustadt (present-day Prudnik). Frederick was with the vanguard and first division consisting of 17 bns and 33 sqns. The same day, Keith entered into Neisse with 15 bns while the cavalry encamped at Heidersdorf (present-day Jędrzychów just outside Nysa). The rest of the army was still in its cantonments. Meanwhile, Fouqué marched with thousands of wagons, in four sections, under escorts, with the stores and siege-furniture.
On April 28, Frederick marched to Jägerndorf (present-day Krnov). Keith marched with the rear-guard and second division, to Neustadt.
On April 29, Frederick reached Troppau. Meanwhile, Keith marched to Jägerndorf. The same day, Daun, to obtain a clear picture of Frederick's plan, finally ordered his army to leave its cantonments at Königgrätz. Daun ordered part of his army (18 infantry rgts, 9 grenadier coys, 10 cavalry rgts and their converged carabiniers coys) to assemble in the pre-established camp at Skalitz (present-day Česká Skalice). He also posted General von Buccow (10 infantry rgts, 4 cavalry rgts and 3 hussar rgts) at Trautenau (present-day Trutnov); the Duke of Ahremberg (10 infantry rgts and 4 cavalry rgts forming the Austrian Reserve) at Nachod (present-day Náchod); Loudon (2 infantry rgts, Nádasdy Hussars and Banalisten) at Lewin (present-day Levín); and Jahnus (2 infantry rgts, 1 cavalry rgt, Morocz Hussars and Grenzer troops) at Senftenberg and Grulich (present-day Králíky). The same day, the main body of the Prussian Army had already reached Troppau, only 71 km from Olmütz, where it made a junction with the corps under the Prince von Würtemberg (5 bns and 25 sqns) who had advanced by Neukirch (present-day Nowa Cerekwia) to observe the movement of de Ville's Corps. This Austrian Corps, now vastly outnumbered by the assembled Prussian Army, slowly retired by Wigstadtl (present-day Vítkov), to the south-east of Bautsch (present-day Budišov nad Budišovkou), and Giebau (present-day Jívová) towards Olmütz demolishing the bridges on its way.
On April 30, all Prussian corps maintained their positions.
On May 1, leaving 3 bns at Troppau to keep the communications with Silesia open, Frederick set off from this town with the vanguard (now 22 bns and 58 sqns). Grenadier Battalion 15/18 Kleist was left behind at Troppau to keep communications opened with Silesia. Frederick turned southward and advanced rapidly through Ottendorff (present-day Otice) and Köhlersdorf (present-day Uhlirov), crossed the March River (present-day Morava River) and passed the Nickels mountain to finally encamped at Alt-Zeschdorf (present-day Staré Těchanovice). His vanguard under Lieutenant-general von Retzow passed the Mohra (present-day Moravice River) near Alt-Zeschdorf, to the north-east of Bautsch, and reached Deschna (present-day Děstné). Retzow then asked the Austrian Kreis-Capitain of Olmütz, the Baron von Zawisch, for requisitions, which Zawisch did not deliver. Meanwhile, de Ville retired towards Olmütz, destroying the bridges on the Mohra and March as he withdraw. The same day, Keith advanced in two columns: the first through Krottendorf (present-day Chařová) and Lichten (present-day Lichnov) up to Bennisch (present-day Horní Benešov), the second through Lobenstein (present-day Úvalno), Groß Herrlitz (present-day Velké Heraltice) and Armenruch (unidentified location) up to Kuntzendorf (present-day Hořejší Kunčice) and Hartau (present-day Moravska Harta) near the March River, the Prussians then quickly re-established bridges across the river. Furthermore, 2 bns and 2 sqns were detached to Heidenpiltsch (present-day Bílčice). The train being unable to follow the army because of the bad state of the roads was left behind under the protection of General Kannacher with 5 bns and 3 sqns. Late at night when the train finally arrived, the artillery was parked at Eckersdorf (present-day Jakartovice) while the bakery went to Brättersdorf (present-day Bratříkovice) and the supply train to Groß Herrlitz. The same day Fouqué left Glatz and marched towards Neisse where the siege train was assembled. This siege train was formed into 4 distinct convoys advancing one after another at a day march.
Indeed, it was not before May 1 that Daun was informed that Fouqué had retired from Glatz back to Neisse to escort the siege train. Daun was still so convinced that Frederick would attack Bohemia that he did not attach much faith in these news, considering that this was just a stratagem to lure him out of his advantageous positions. In fact, he resolved to pay even more attention to the defence of the Bohemian border which he had entrusted to FML Loudon and GFWM von Jahnus. Even when Daun heard that Frederick had turned southward at Troppau, he first thought that the Prussians would then invade Bohemia from the east.
At the beginning of May, the invading Prussian Army consisted of 46 line infantry bns, 2 Freikorps bns, 2 Fussjäger coys, 43 cuirassier sqns, 30 dragoon sqns, 30 hussar sqns:
- vanguard under Frederick: 17 bns and 33 sqns
- main body under Field-marshal Keith following at one day march
On May 2, the entire Prussian Army marched forward: the king to Domstadl (present-day Domašov nad Bystřicí) by Bautsch; Keith crossed the Mohra in two columns at Spachendorf (present-day Leskovec ned Moravici) and Hartau and took cantonments in the neighbourhood of Bärn (present-day Moravský Beroun) where it raised contributions. The same day, all priests, monks and nuns of the region were ordered to take refuge in Olmütz, leaving only a few persons at their monasteries. Many nobles and citizens moved out of town in the following days. De Ville arrived before the town and encamped under its guns with his 4 cavalry rgts. He detached his 4 Bavarian bns towards the town, the two first bns entering into the town the same day. His Grenzer troops and his 2 hussar rgts took post behind the March River. He also sent his 2 uhlan pulks to Weißkirchen (present-day Hranice on the Bečva River) and Leipnik (present-day Lipník nad Bečvou), to the east of Olmütz. Meanwhile, Loudon's Corps (5,000 men) started his march from Lewin by Reichenau (present-day Rychnov nad Kněžnou) and Landskron (present-day Lanškroun) towards Hohenstadt (present-day Zábřeh), leaving Jahnus at Senftenberg, Grulich and Grünberg (present-day Zelená Hora) to cover the eastern flank of the main army.
On May 3, as Frederick expected Daun to oppose his next movements, he encamped his corps at Starnau (present-day Štarnov) with its right resting on this village and its left extending up to Bauniowitz (probably Bohuňovice). Its front was covered by ponds. Keith marched to Sternberg (present-day Šternberk) and Kannacher with the train to Hof (present-day Dvorce). The same day, Daun finally left his camp at Skalitz with the Austrian Main Army and marched by Chotzen (present-day Choceň) towards Leuthomischl (present-day Litomyšl) to protect a fine magazine he had there. He let FZM Harsch with an important corps at Trautenau and Nachod; and GFWM von Unruh with 4 infantry regiments in the camp near Königgrätz. Daun sent orders to Altstadt commanding at Olmütz to take dispositions. Daun also instructed Count von Zinzendorf, commanding at Prerau (present-day Přerov), to supply Olmütz. FZM Ernst Dietrich Count Marschall von Burgholzhausen (more commonly known as FZM Count Marschall) took all the necessary emergency measures while the second column of Bavarian troops took refuge into Olmütz where it joined the first column. There were now 1,500 Bavarians in the town. In the evening every house, supplied a man to work on the defences. Meanwhile, 500 Austrian hussars were sent under Major von Owstien towards Mährisch-Neustadt and another 500 Károly Hussars under Lieutenant-colonel Seelen towards Littau to reconnoitre the Prussian positions. The hussars forded the March and occupied Littau. Daun, from Skalitz where he had been, had but some 130 km to march while Frederick would have to march 240 km to reach Leuthomischl. When he received intelligence that Daun was marching towards Moravia, Zieten left 7 bns and 4 sqns at Landeshut; reinforced the garrison of Glatz with 5 bns and 1 sqn; and marched with the remaining 5 sqns to make a junction with the Prussian Main Army in Moravia.
Installation of the Prussian Army around Olmütz
On May 4, the Frederick's Army reached Littau and Mährisch-Neustadt. Lieutenant-general von Neuwied with an infantry rgt and some artillery pieces drove back the Austrian hussars occupying these places. In this engagement, Károly Hussars lost 31 men taken prisoners. The Austrian hussars retired to Prossnitz (present-day Prostějov) where they joined de Ville's Corps. Frederick's Corps then encamped in the neighbourhood of Olmütz while Keith with part of his troops returned to the camp of Starnau, leaving the other part to entrench itself between Starnau, Littau and Mährisch Neustadt. Frei-Infanterie le Noble and Frei-Infanterie Salenmon occupied Sternberg to cover the bakery and to guard the communications with Troppau and Silesia. The same day, in Olmütz most of the inhabitants were commandeered to work in preparation of the Prussian siege, receiving standard wages for their participation.
On May 5, the commandeered inhabitants of Olmütz, assisted by 300 men of the garrison began to raze the suburbs. Herds of sheep and cattle from the neighbourhood were also brought into the town and parked on the place where the gallows usually stood. During the siege this place saw much speculative transactions by usurers. Prussian hussars soon ocupied the neighbouring villages and burned Trschitz (present-day Tršice) and Trasowitz (unidentified location), losing a few guns and baggage in these fires. Some 500 Prussian hussars advanced to about 1 km of the glacis but they were soon scattered by the workers, who had taken up arms, supported by Austrian hussars. A few Prussian platoons were also seen before the gates of the town where they skirmished with Austrian hussars and dragoons. The same day, 10 bns from Keith's Corps joined Frederick who learned that de Ville had sent his infantry to Olmütz and had taken position at Wolschan (present-day Olšany u Prostějova) with the Saxon Chevauxlegers regiments and one regiment of hussars. Frederick then detached 20 hussar sqns under the command of Werner to dislodge de Ville from Wolschan and to seize the Austrian magazines in this town. Frederick closely followed with 20 dragoon sqns and 8 bns but de Ville had already withdrawn to Prossnitz, leaving only 300 hussars in the village. After driving these hussars out of the village, Frederick let 800 horses at Wolschan. Werner at the head of the Prussian vanguard pursued de Ville and reached Prossnitz where he left 2 dismounted squadrons to attack the bridge. This initiative forced de Ville to retire from Prossnitz to the narrow pass of Prödlitz (present-day Brodek u Prostějova). That night, 20 sqns encamped at Prossnitz and 10 sqns cantoned at Wolschan under the command of the Prince of Württemberg. Frederick then returned to Littau escorted by Zieten Hussars (10 sqns). Frederick with Johann Friedrich von Balbi, his engineer, then reconnoitred the fortifications of Olmütz from a height near Schnoblin (present-day Slavonin). Still the same day, Daun arrived at Leuthomischl with the Austrian Main Army (50,000 men) and encamped with his left resting on this town and his right at Friedrichshof (present-day Pohodlí), his front covered by the village of Benatek (present-day Benátky) and the stream which runs through it. The grenadiers and carabiniers were deployed in front of Benatek and the reserve on the heights of Ossek (present-day Osik). Meanwhile, Loudon arrived at Hohenstadt with his corps, closely followed by General Jahnus. General Kalnocki deployed opposite Zieten's Corps and General Esterhazy remained at Nachod to cover the Austrian magazines at Königgrätz. Austrian General Harsch made a demonstration against Glatz, hoping to fix Fouqué's corps there, before realising that Fouqué had left the place four days earlier.
On May 6, the Austrians made an inventory of all timber available in Olmütz. The same day, Frederick received intelligence on Daun's advance. Until then, Prussian patrols had not found any Austrian forces on the highway leading to Bohemia. However, on this day a patrol stumbled on one of Loudon's detachment (700 men) in Loschitz (present-day Loštice) who captured 1 officer and 15 men of this patrol. Meanwhile Janus' detachment arrived in Schildberg (present-day Štíty). In case that these troops would be the vanguard of the Austrian Main Army, Frederick drew his corps out of its quarters at Littau and sent 23 bns and 13 sqns to the camp of Assmeritz (present-day Nasobůrky). His left wing was anchored on the town of Littau and his left on the villages of Michlowitz (present-day Myslechovice), Birlitz (present-day Bilsko) and Burkersdorf (present-day Lautschka). Frederick also instructed the Prince of Württemberg to occupy Prossnitz with 2 bns, to send back 6 bns to Assmeritz and to form a camp for his cavalry near Tschechowitz (present-day Čechovice), its front covered by a marshy defile. Furthermore, Forcade was sent to Mährisch-Neustadt with 8 bns, 20 sqns and 4 hussar sqns to cover the right flank of the Prussian line of communication with Silesia. The rest of the Prussian Army, under Margrave Karl, remained in the camp of Starnau. Indeed several Austrian corps were getting closer: General Loudon reached Konitz (present-day Konice) establishing contact with de Ville at Prödlitz. De Ville's Corps was reinforced with 4 cavalry regiments and 2 uhlans regiments. Still the same day, Fouqué's first column (escorted by 4 bns and 2 sqns) under Major-general von Schenkendorf marched from Neisse towards Moravia.
On May 7, the Prussians set the neighbouring villages of Bauniowitz and Duban (present-day Dubany, to the south-east of Olšany u Prostějova) afire, committing some excesses. An Austrian Corps encamped between Krönau (present-day Křelov) and Horka (present-day Horka nad Moravou) had built bakeries in these villages. It removed these bakeries to a safer location to allow to bake bread for the soldiers. The same day, 40 tons of beer were taken at Groß Wisternitz (present-day Velká Bystřice) by Austrian hussars and transported to Olmütz under the eyes of the Prussians. Still the same day, Daun sent orders to Harsch to join him near Olmütz with the corps initially left at Trautenau, instructing him to leave only Kálnoky Hussars in Trautenau. Meanwhile, Loudon's Corps marched to Müglitz where it was reinforced by Paul Anton Esterházy Hussars; furthermore 300 foot and 130 hussars belonging to Jahnus' detachment took possession of Schönberg.
On May 8, pavement was removed from the bridges and the streets of Olmütz. The old towers of the ramparts were inspected and repaired. The same day, the Prussians exacted a contribution of 30,000 ducats from the Abbot of the Hradisch Abbey (present-day Klasterni Hradisko) located 2 km north-east of Olmütz. Still the same day, Loudon reached Konitz, sending 100 hussars and 150 Grenzers to Ptin (present-day Ptení) and 100 hussars and 200 Grenzers to Namiest (present-day Náměšť na Hané). Meanwhile, Jahnus' detachment reached Hohenstadt. Janus detached 2 bns to Schönberg and small parties to Loschitz, Lexen and Busow. De Ville, for his part, sent 100 uhlans to Blumenau (present-day Plumlov) to establish communications with Loudon. He also sent 400 horse and 200 hussars to Tobitschau (present-day Tovačov). Now Austrian light troops formed an wide arc, from Tobitschau to Schönberg, around Prussian positions, continually harassing Prussian foragers and very effectively screening the manoeuvres of the Austrian Main Army.
By this date, the Prussian army was deployed between Prossnitz and Mährisch Neustadt (a distance of about 30 km) as follows:
- Frederick (26 bns, 33 sqns, including 2 bns cantoned in Assmeritz to guard the headquarters) in camp near Assmeritz and Littau
- Forcade (8 bns, 20 sqns, 4 hussar sqns) in camp near Mährisch Neustadt
- Margrave Karl (8 bns, 16 sqns) in camp near Starnau
- Prince von Württemberg (2 bns, 30 sqns) in Prossnitz and in camp near Tschechowitz
- 2 bns in Sternberg
- 1 bn in Troppau
- Grenadier Battalion 24/34 Naumeister (1 bn) guarding provisions and forage
- Feldjäger zu Fuß (2 coys) in Starnau
In these positions, Frederick daily received siege material from Silesia. However, he was unable to prevent the various Austrian detachments to hinder his reconnaissance and foraging on the road between Troppau and Hof but they could not operate too far away from their main army. They did not distract Frederick from his main objective and he concentrated on supply of material and provisions to sustain the siege.
On May 9, 500 workers were requisitioned in Olmütz and placed under the command of Ingenieur-lieutenant von Winter to fill the sunken roads and the ditches. The same day, the Prussians put the village of Trschitz afire.
On May 10, 400 Prussian horse advanced from Krönau and drove back Austrian outposts on the Tafelberg (present-day Tabulovy Vrch). Prussian patrols also reported that the Austrian Main Army was advancing towards Brünn (present-day Brno). This was false, their observations were not very reliable because the Daun's Army was very effectively screened by light troops. In fact, it was only a detachment sent to further reinforce the Marquis de Ville, posted at Leuthomischl with 4 cavalry rgts and 2 uhlan pulks. Believing that he was now facing a superior enemy, the Prince von Württemberg retired to Drzowitz (present-day Držovice) behind Prossnitz. Similarly, Frederick resolved to encamp at Prossnitz to cover the siege adequately. Frederick then ordered Lieutenant-general Forcade (6 bns, 5 sqns) to march from the camp of Mährisch Neustadt to make a junction with his own corps at Prossnitz, and Margrave Karl (7 bns) to march from the camp of Starnau to Mährisch Neustadt, leaving only the two companies of Feldjäger zu Fuß, Grenadier Battalion 33/42 Nimschöfsky and 16 sqns under the command of Major-general Mayr in the camp of Starnau. The same day, Jahnus encamped at Allerheiligen (“Mountain of the Saints”) near Müglitz (present-day Mohelnice) and occupied Lexen (present-day Líšnice), Loschitz and the Castle of Busow (present-day Bouzov);
On May 11, Frederick left Assmeritz with 19 bns and 48 sqns and 40 artillery pieces and marched to Prossnitz where he encamped on the heights of Studenitz (present-day Studenec) and Starzechowitz (present-day Stařechovice), his headquarters being at Schmirsitz (present-day Smržice) on the left flank, guarded by VI./Garrison Regiment Lattorf. The infantry formed the first line and the cavalry the second. The front of Frederick's new positions dominated a flat plain only broken by the ponds between Prossnitz and Kosteletz in der Hanna (present-day Kostelec na Hané). The right wing was anchored on the heights of Friedensberg at the foot of which stood the village of Starzechowitz. The hill was covered with woods in which a barricade was built. Furthermore 10 heavy pieces and a few field-pieces were planted atop this hill, their field of fire covering the entire plain up to Kosteletz. The flank was covered by a few battalions. Most of Zieten Hussars were posted near Kosteletz. They were supported by a piquet (1 major and 150 men) which was changed daily. The left wing extended up to the village of Studenitz. The right flank was covered by the corps of the Prince of Württemberg encamped near Prossnitz (2 battalions occupying the town with 15 sqns encamped to their right and 5 sqns to their left). Finally, 100 hussars were posted on the Kaiserwege; and 50 grenadiers, 100 dragoons and 2 guns placed in a chain of outposts along the heights near Stechow (present-day Stichovice). The field bakery of the army was established behind the left wing at Drzowitz, guarded by a detachment (1 captain, 1 lieutenant and 150 men) which was changed daily. Field-marshal Keith (15 bns, 15 sqns and 2 sqns of Zieten Hussars) remained in his strong camp at Assmeritz but he extended his positions to cover the entire positions previously occupied by Frederick's Corps. Keith's right wing extended through a morass up to Littau which was occupied by 2 bns. The front went through the villages of Haniowitz (present-day Haňovice), Assmeritz and Mühldörfl (present-day Víska), covered by numerous ponds and trenches. The left wing extended across coppices, occupied by infantry, up to the heights of Rumpertsberge, where 10 heavy guns were planted, and to the village of Michlowitz at the foot of these heights. To cover the cavalry outposts, 120 foot occupied the village of Köllein (present-day Cholina) (30 men of this force were detached in the woods in front of the village). In Assmeritz and Haniowitz, 1 officer and 40 men were on guard duty. The same day, the Grenadier Battalion 24/34 Naumeister arrived in Sternberg with the convoy transporting the last provisions. The Prussian army now had enough flour to bake bread till mid-June. The battalion then joined General von Mayr's detachment at Starnau and was sent to cover the broken bridges of Chomottau (present-day Chomoutov) (2 coys) and Horka (2 coys).
From May 11 till the arrival of Fouqué's Corps, between May 16 and 20, the Prussian Army (48 bns, 103 sqns) was deployed as follows:
- Frederick's Corps (19 bns, 51 sqns) in the camp of Schmirsitz (including the Prince von Württemberg's Corps)
- Keith's Corps (15 bns, 17 sqns) in the camp near Assmeritz
- Margrave Karl's Corps (9 bns, 19 sqns) in the camp near Mährisch Neustadt (including 4 hussar sqns near Meedel)
- Mayr's Corps (2 bns, 2 jäger coys, 16 sqns) in and around the camp near Starnau
- detachments (3 bns) in Sternberg and Troppau
On May 12 in the morning, a Prussian detachment (600 foot, 800 horse), probably belonging to Mayr's Corps, skirmished till noon with Austrian grenzers and hussars. Around midnight, the grenzers occupying Castle Hradisch attacked a Prussian redoubt in the village of Chomottau, driving back the defenders, killing a few and taking 13 prisoners. Meanwhile, Jahnus received intelligence that a Prussian convoy with heavy artillery was marching from Troppau to Olmütz. The same day, Fouqué arrived at Giebau (present-day Jívová).
On May 13, to cover the installation of his army, Frederick marched, at the head of 3 bns and 38 sqns in 2 columns, against de Ville to drive him out of his advantageous position at the end of the defile of Prödlitz. In front of this superior force, de Ville retired, closely followed up by Prussian light troops. Near Drilbitz (maybe Dřevnovice), Prussian hussars clashed with the Herzog Württemberg Dragoons led by GFWM Count von Saint-Ignon. The Austrian dragoons erupted from a sunken road and fell on their opponent driving them back into the morass. Meanwhile another party of Prussian hussars led by Werner was driven back by the Birkenfeld Cuirassiers and Alt-Modena Cuirassiers. After this engagement, de Ville spent the night at Neu Raußnitz (present-day Rousínov), to the south-west of Wischau (present-day Vyškov). The Prussian infantry took post at Prödlitz and their cavalry at Trasenitz (unidentified location). Frederick personally returned to Schmirsitz, leaving command to the Prince von Württemberg. The same day, Jahnus detached Colonel Karl Ludwig Count Lanius von Wellenburg, commander of the Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer with 1 grenadier coy and 400 men of his own regiment, 1 grenadier coy of Alt-Wolfenbüttel Infantry under Captain Chevalier Caldwell, 100 men from Slavonisches Grenz-Hussars and 200 men from Morocz Hussars to the the neighbourhood of Bärn to intercept Fouqué's artillery convoy. Loudon sent 300 grenzers under Major Amelunken against Zuckmantel (present-day Zlaté Hory) with the same design.
Lanius' detachment would operate for four weeks (!) behind Prussian lines and inflict them big damages.
On May 14, de Ville retired to Brünn. The same day, the Prussians were busy making fascines and gabions in the islands near their camps. Meanwhile Zieten arrived at the camp of Mährisch Neustadt with the 5 sqns which he had brought with him from Silesia. Two of these sqns were immediately sent to Starnau to reinforce Mayr's Corps. Mayr then sent 6 sqns to the camp of Schmirsitz, remaining at Starnau with a force of 2 bns, 2 jäger coys and 12 sqns. For his part, Zieten, accompanied by his 3 remaining sqns to which he had added 4 hussar sqns formerly posted at Meedel (present-day Medlov) under Major von Owstien, marched to the camp of Schmirsitz to make a junction with Frederick's Corps. With these reinforcements, Frederick then had 19 bns, 64 sqns and 40 artillery pieces at Schmirsitz.
On May 15, a Prussian detachment (foot, horse and hussars) marched on the village of Hreptschein (present-day Řepčín) occupied by 50 grenzers. The latter retired from the village before the attack. However, the Austrian artillery was so efficient that the Prussian detachment had to retire behind the Tafelberg where they established their camp. The same day, after a wide detour by Schömberg (present-day Šumperk) and through the forest surrounding the road to Gabel an der Adler (present-day Jablonné nad Orlicí), the Austrian Colonel Lanius arrived at Klein Mohrau (present-day Malá Morávka), to the north of Irmsdorf (present-day Jamartice), intending to ambush Fouqué's fourth column.
On May 16, Frederick's force, which had been posted at Prödlitz and Trasenitz since May 13, plundering and foraging to remove all supplies remaining on the Silesian frontier which could be reachable by the Austrians, returned to its camp near Prossnitz. Meanwhile, the first column of Fouqué's Corps (4 bns, 2 sqns) under Major-general von Schenkendorf, escorting the siege artillery sent from the County of Glatz, arrived at the camp established between the villages of Krönau and Kirwein (present-day Skrbeň).
In the night of May 16 to 17, Colonel Lanius established himself in the woods near Lobnig (present-day Lobník). He detached the Chevalier Caldwell with his grenadiers, 200 Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer and 30 husssars to occupy Andersdorf (present-day Ondrášov n. Moravě) while he advanced to Bärn with the main body. Around 11:00 p.m., the two formations reached their assigned positions. Caldwell's detachment drove the Prussians out of Andersdorf, killing 30 men and capturing 1 lieutenant, 6 hussars, 36 horses and the whole baggage of the Prussian hussars. Lanius's troops occupied Bärn. Afterwards Lanius returned to Klein-Mohrau and patiently awaited the passage of Fouqué's fourth column.
On May 17, the Austrian General Harsch established his camp at Nikl (present-day Mikuleč), between Leuthomischl and Zwittau (present-day Svitavy). The same day, Fouqué's second column (escorted by 4 bns and 4 sqns) personally led by Fouqué arrived at Krönau.
On May 18, Frederick with a strong escort reconnoitred Olmütz from the Tafelberg. The Austrian workers interrupted their activities and picked up their arms.
In the night of May 18 to 19, Colonel Lanius' detachment finally attacked Fouqué's fourth column between the villages of Brockersdorf (present-day Čabová) and Andersdorf, taking the escorting troops totally by surprise. The Prussian escort lost 10 officers and 140 men killed or wounded and 1 officer and 5 men taken prisoners. Some 80 Prussians deserted. Furthermore, Lanius damaged several wagons and captured 30 horses loaded with baggage. His losses were trivial: 1 officers and 1 hussar wounded; and 1 hussar missing. Major-General Puttkamer, who was cantoned at Bärn with most of the escort, unsuccessfully tried to catch the Austrian raiders who had precipitously retired towards Rautenberg (present-day Roudno).
On May 19, the Prussians lifted their camp at Krönau and established a new camp behind the Tafelberg. Meanwhile, Fouqué's third column (escorted by 4 bns and 2 sqns) under Prince Franz von Brunswick marched from Sternberg to Krönau. Frederick personally went there to inspect the artillery. He then sent 8 of the 12 bns who had escorted the three first columns to the camp of Schnoblin on the Tafelberg, and the 4 remaining ones to Horka.
|Order of Battle|
|Detailed order of battle of the Prussian Army on May 20 1758|
On May 20, Fouqué's fourth and last column (escorted by 2 sqns: Herzog von Württemberg (1 sqn) and Möhring Hussars (1 sqn), Bornstedt (2 bns), Prinz Heinrich von Preußen Fusiliers (2 bns) and convalescents (1 bn)) under Major-general von Puttkamer arrived at Krönau. Keith then took command at Krönau of the corps assigned to the siege of Olmütz. From the towers of Olmütz, the Austrian could easily see the Prussians establishing their new camp on the Tafelberg. The same day, the bridge of Nimlau (present-day Nemilany) was demolished. By May 20, Daun was at Leuthomischl with the Austrian Main Army while Harsch was at Nikl with a large corps; de Ville at Neu Raußnitz on the road of Brünn with some cavalry; Loudon near Konitz with a corps of light infantry with which he also occupied the villages of Willimau (Vilémov u Litovle), Namiest, Laschkau (present-day Laškov) and Ptin; Jahnus was at Müglitz in the hills of Allerheiligen with detachments at Lexen, Loschitz, Busow and Mährisch Aussee (present-day Úsov); Colonel Lanius was at Friedland (present-day Břidličná) and Lobnig with about 1,000 light troops to cover the road to Brünn. Lanius, despite the small size of his detachment followed the road from Troppau to Hof to threaten the Prussian supply lines between Bautsch and Giebau. The Austrian positions were veiled under a cloud of grenzers. Taking advantage of the important distance separating the corps of Frederick and Prince Moritz, Loudon constantly pushed detachments on Willimau and Namiest to threaten their communications. Daun had also agreed on signals with the commander of Olmütz to ease communications. This way, if Marschall estimated that he could not hold for 6 to 8 additional days, he could signal it to Daun who would then march to the relief of Olmütz with his entire forces.
The other phases of the campaign are described in the following articles:
- Siege till the Combat of Domstadl (May 21 to June 30, 1758) describing the manoeuvres of the Prussian covering forces and of the Austrian relief corps while Olmütz was under siege;
- From the Combat of Domstadl till the evacuation of Moravia by the Prussian Army (July 1 to August 10, 1758) describing the lifting of the siege of Olmütz, the retreat of the Prussian Army through Bohemia and the departure of Frederick for Brandenburg.
This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 6 Leuthen, Berlin, 1904, pp. 51-53, 71-74
- St.; E. v.: Zum Säcular-Gedächtniss von 1758 – Der Felzug in Mähren oder die Belagerung und der Entsatz von Olmütz, Frankfurt am Main: Sauerländer's Verlag, 1858, pp. 8-180
- Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 6-7, 66-135
- 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. 260-265
- Archenholz, J. W., The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 148, 156, 171
- Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 434-437
- Hödl, Rudolf v.: Geschichte des K. und K. Infanterieregiments Nr. 29, Temesvár 1906, pp. 111-116
- Gorani, Joseph: Mémoires, Paris: Gallimard, 1944, pp. 82-101
- Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, 2. part, Leipzig 1885
Salisch, M. von: Treue Deserteure – Das kursächsische Militär und der Siebenjährige Krieg, Munich, 2009
Harald Skala for information on the Saxon Army during this period
Jiří Sissak for details on the Austrian winter-quarters