1758 - Prussian invasion of Moravia – Retreat of the Prussian Army
The campaign lasted from March to July 1758
Austrian and Prussian preparations, the initial Prussian operations in Silesia and the recapture of Schweidnitz (present-day Swidnica), the entry of the Prussian Army into Moravia and the preparations for the formal siege of Olmütz (present-day Olomouc) are described in our article 1758 - Prussian invasion of Moravia – Preparations and Arrival.
The manoeuvres of the Prussian covering forces and of the Austrian relief corps while Olmütz was under siege are described in our article 1758 - Prussian invasion of Moravia – Siege till the Combat of Domstadl (present-day Domašov nad Bystřicí).
The lifting of the siege
By July 1, when news of the disaster of Domstadl reached Frederick, he assembled his generals at Schmirsitz (present-day Smržice) and took his dispositions to abandon the siege of Olmütz. Field-marshal Keith sent Retzow's Corps (7 bns, 15 sqns) towards Giebau (present-day Jívová) to lessen the pressure on Zieten's retiring Corps. However, Retzow could go no further than Dolein (present-day Dolany u Olomouce) where he realised that the Austrians were occupying all passes. He then marched back to Bistrowan (present-day Bystrovany). FZM von Marschall, in Olmütz, was the first Austrian commander to realise that the Prussians were retiring. When Daun was informed of the fact, he immediately advanced towards Olmütz. By noon, the Austrian Main Army had reached Roketnitz (present-day Rokytnice) in the neighbourhood of Kokor (present-day Kokory) and had deployed in three lines. In the afternoon, a Prussian Corps (5,000 men) marched on Dolein and deployed in order of battle before retiring to its camp. Meanwhile the vanguard of the Austrian Main Army had reached Groß Teinitz (present-day Velký Týnec). At 4:00 p.m., the Austrian Main Army resumed its advance. In the evening, the watch fires of the Austrian Main Army on the heights of Groß Teinitz, Czechowitz (present-day Cechovice) and Grügau could be seen from Olmütz, provoking much joy among the faithful inhabitants. During its march, the Austrian Main Army had been very effectively covered by Buccow's Corps at Ptin (present-day Ptení); the Marquis de Ville (3 bns of Toscana Infantry along with a few Saxon Cavalry regiments) near Prödlitz (present-day Brodek u Prostějova); Lieutenant-general von Zeschwitz (with the remaining Saxon Cavalry regiments) near Oplotzan (present-day Oplocany); and the light troops who had formed a thick curtain in front of the Austrian camp to prevent any deserter to give alarm to the nearest Prussian patrols. In the morning, the Kaiser Franz I Hussars (part of Buccow's Corps) had attacked Zieten Hussars near Kosteletz to draw attention to these quarters.
During the night of July 1 to 2, after the disaster of this supply convoy, Frederick was forced to lift the siege of Olmütz. He took advantage of the fact that Daun had stripped the road to Bohemia from most Austrian troops. The same day, Prince Moritz left with the vanguard and marched to the defile near Netztrowa (present-day Nectava) and Gewitsch (present-day Jevíčko) while Frederick with the rest of the corps of observation moved to Brezeskow (present-day Březsko). Meanwhile, Keith skilfully lifted the siege. By 2:00 a.m., the siege train had reached Krönau (present-day Křelov) where the bakery, the supply train and the baggage joined it, forming a convoy of about 4,500 wagons. The siege train left at 5:00 a.m. in 3 columns towards Littau (present-day Litovel). Prince Franz von Braunschweig led the rearguard. The army finally reached Littau where it encamped. Frederick's retreat was extremely well conducted. During this time the Austrian Main Army remained surprisingly idle at Groß Teinitz.
On July 3, celebrations took place in the Austrian camp of Groß Teinitz. Daun, even though he could have ruined the Prussian army during this retreat, did nothing. Daun was sure that Frederick was retreating towards Silesia and he made his detachments accordingly, contenting himself of sending the corps of Buccow, Loudon, Saint-Ignon and Siskowics to follow the retiring Prussian Army who had already taken a significant advance. Accordingly, Siskovics and Saint-Ignon advanced up to Bladensdorf (present-day Mladoňov) while Loudon took position at Eulenberg (present-day Sovinec) on the right of the Prussian line of advance. The Austrian Main Army remained in its camp of Groß Teinitz, detaching only the grenadiers and carabiniers under Lacy. The latter crossed the March River (present-day Morava River) and encamped at Krönau. The same day, the Prussian Main Army reached Littau. Frederick left Prince Franz von Brunswick (6 bns, Foot Jägers, 10 sqns) at Littau with instruction to hold the place until the last wagons of the train had gone through and then to form the rearguard. Frederick then marched to Müglitz (present-day Mohelnice) which had already been secured by Rebentisch. Frederick established his camp on the Heights near Müglitz with his right wing at Kremetschau (present-day Křemačov), his left extending up to the March River and his front covered by a brook. The last part of the train reached the camp around midnight. It had been attacked by a party of hussars and peasants between Königlosen (present-day Králová) and Mährisch Aussee (present-day Úsov) but the attack had been repulsed by the Foot Jägers. The same day, the Prussian vanguard (10 bns, 30 sqns), led by Prince Moritz, left Schmirsitz. It made a junction with Wedel's small detachment (3,5 bns, 10 sqns) at Namiest (present-day Náměšť na Hané), and marched by Laschkau (present-day Laškov) and Punkew (present-day Ponikev), encamping near Birkersdorf (present-day Březinky) at the entrance of the pass. It became manifest that the retreat was converging on Leuthomischl (present-day Litomyšl), straight for Bohemia instead of Silesia.
On July 4, GFWM Draskowitz arrived at Vienna with the news of the relief of Olmütz and of the retreat of the Prussian Army. Upon hearing these news, Maria Theresa promoted Draskowitz to the rank of FML. The same day, Prince Moritz marched to Krönau with the vanguard to observe the movements of General Buccow. Meanwhile, Frederick now at Trübau (present-day Moravská Třebová) reconnoitred the road towards Schönhengst (present-day Hrebecov) with 2 battalions and a few hundreds hussars. Some 300 men of Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 2 under Major Petkovich, posted in advantageous positions received the advancing troops with a lively fire. Frederick then retired to his camp, deciding to take a longer but more convenient road by Glaselsdorf (present-day Sklené) and Zwittau (present-day Svitavy). In the evening of the same day, Loudon's Grenzers engaged the Prussian rearguard near Mürau (present-day Mírov). Prince Franz von Braunschweig Regiment finally retired after a stubborn resistance. In this engagement, the Prussians lost 150 men, a few wagons and 150 horses. Still the same day, Daun marched to a new camp between Drahanowitz (present-day Drahanovice) and Wolschan (present-day Olšany u Prostějova).
On July 5 in the morning, Prinz Moritz reached Leuthomischl where he seized a considerable Austrian magazine. He threw 3 bns into the town and established his camp on the neighbouring heights. The same day, Frederick followed the same road with the Prussian Main Army, leaving 4 bns and the entire cavalry on the heights behind Zwittau; the rest of his infantry was quartered in the town of Zwittau and in the village of Mohren (present-day Javorník). The Prussian vanguard easily drove out the Grenzers defending the nearby defiles. The same day, General Buccow was already posted at Politschka (present-day Polička) the Prussian train who had taken a day rest at Trübau. However, Frederick detached Lieutenant-general von Forcade (5 bns, 15 sqns) to take possession of the heights near Jansdorf (present-day Janov). For their part, Loudon reached Tribnitz (present-day Třebovice); Saint-Ignon, Sichelsdorf (present-day Žichlínek); Daun Wolschan; and the grenadiers Konitz (present-day Konice).
On July 6, Prince Moritz remained at Leuthomischl. Margrave Karl was left behind at Zwittau with the Prussian main body to wait for the train while Frederick marched to Leuthomischl with 6 bns and 3 sqns. Lieutenant-general von Fouqué had now replaced Keith as commander of the Prussian train. To protect the train, the escort was organised into 3 detachments:
- 1st detachment: 12 bns, 13 sqns under the command of Fouqué seconded by Prince Franz von Braunschweig, Kannacher and Krokow
- 2nd detachment: 12 bns, 17 sqns under the command of Lieutenant-general Neuwied seconded by Rebentisch, Jung Kreytzen and Schenkendorf
- 3rd detachment: 2 bns, the 2 coys of Foot Jägers, 15 sqns, the 2 coys of Miners under the command of Lieutenant-general von Retzow seconded by Goltz and Bornstädt
- vanguard: 2 bns, 2 sqns, half the hussars
- rearguard: 2 bns, 3 sqns, half the hussars
The 1st detachment marched unmolested by Uttigsdorf (present-day Útěchov) and Krenau (present-day Křenov) and encamped at Greifendorf (present-day Hradec nad Svitavou) to the south of Zwittau. The 3rd detachment reached Nikl (present-day Mikuleč) after a minor engagement. The same day, Loudon and Saint-Ignon reached Wildenschwerdt (present-day Ústí nad Orlicí); Siskovics, Böhmisch-Triberl (present-day Česká Třebová); and Daun, Konitz, detaching Lacy at the head of the Grenadiers and Carabiniers Corps towards Gewitsch.
On July 7, the 1st detachment reached Zwittau while the bakery proceeded to Leuthomischl. As soon as the wagons had passed the defiles, Forcade abandoned his post on the Heights of Jansdorf and joined Margrave Karl. The united corps then marched towards Leuthomischl. Meanwhile, the 2nd detachment of the train was attacked but was able to resume its march, 1 bn of Prinz Ferdinand Infantry suffering some losses. This detachment reached Greifendorf while some of its advanced elements reached Zwittau. Retzow, who was at Trübau with a small Prussian command belonging to the 3rd detachment, threw troops (8 grenadier coys, 2 bns Markgraf von Brandenburg Fusiliers) in Krenau but in front of a superior enemy, the detachment retired to neighbouring heights. The concentration of all Prussian units at Leuthomischl was almost completed. Part of Keith's Corps still was at Greifendorf and the rearguard at Krenau. Meanwhile, the Austrians remained in their previous positions to the exception of the grenadiers who moved to Krenau.
On July 8, all Prussian corps had made a junction at Leuthomischl. The Austrians did the same at Konitz. From then on, the entire Prussian army went in deliberate long column. Frederick led the way to open the passages.
Prussian retreat through Bohemia
|Map of Prussian retreat from Moravia. It shows the limitations imposed by the terrain and how it channeled the armies through a handful of routes through the mountains.|
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab, Courtesy of Tony Flores
On July 9, Frederick's corps marched to Hrusova while Prince Moritz moved to Tisova and Keith remained in Leuthomischl. On the Austrian side, Loudon and Siskovics marched to Chotzen (present-day Choceň) and Daun to Politschka.
On July 10, Frederick reached Holitz (present-day Holice v Čechách) and the siege train Tignitzko (present-day Týnštko) while Keith still remained in Leuthomischl. The Austrian corps of Loudon, Siskovics and Daun held their previous positions while Buccow, Esterhazy and Kalnoky reached Königgrätz.
On July 11, Frederick advanced to Lhota (present-day Lhota pod Strání) while the other Prussian corps manoeuvred as follows: Prince Moritz to Pilletitz (present-day Piletice), Keith to Holitz and Tignitzko. Now the entire Prussian army had crossed the Adler. The same day, most Austrian corps remained at their previous position to the exception of Daun who moved to Sebranitz (present-day Sebranice u Litomyšle).
On July 12, Prince Moritz reached Königgrätz; Frederick, Rokitna (present-day Rokytno); and Keith, Holitz and Rzedize (present-day Ředize). Daun moved to Hohenmauth (present-day Vysoké Mýto) and sent the horse grenadiers towards Holitz.
On July 13, the Prussians retained their previous positions to the exception of Keith who joined Prince Moritz in front of Königgrätz. The same day, the Austrian corps moved as follows: Loudon to Opotschno (present-day Opočno), Siskovics to Tinischt (present-day Týniště nad Orlicí) and Daun to Hrochowteinitz (present-day Hrochův Týnec).
On July 14, after five more marches, Frederick had assembled his entire army and burst up Königgratz (present-day Hradec Králové), scattering any opposition. Buccow retired to Kulm (present-day Chlumec nad Cidlinou). Frederick then stood in this inexpugnable position, living on the country. The 4,000 baggage-wagons also came in about entire. Loudon had made several attempts to stop the baggage. His main attempt was made at Holitz, within a march of Königsgratz. However, Keith's quick reaction prevented another disaster.
On July 16, Frederick with 7 bns and 15 sqns advanced against Loudon who was threatening the line of communication with Glatz (present-day Kłodzko). Meanwhile, Fouqué marched with his corps to Dobruska to prevent Loudon from retreating to Neustadt (present-day Prudnik) in Silesia. Loudon had no choice but to retire to Reichenau (present-day Rychnov nad Kněžnou), losing 120 men during this operation. Prussian troops then occupied Opotschno while Fouqué resumed his march on Neustadt.
On July 17, Daun reached Pardubitz (present-day Pardubice) with the Austrian Main Army. Meanwhile, Fouqué encamped on the heights behind Nachod.
On July 18, Daun moved from Pardubitz to Dobresenitz (present-day Dobřenice). His army amounted to 71 fusilier bns, 10 grenadier bns and 126 sqns. He sent Jahnus to Königinhof (present-day Dvůr Králové nad Labem) to threaten the road to Silesia. Meanwhile, before engaging on the road to Glatz, Fouqué took disposition to protect his movement from any attempt by the Austrian light troops. Accordingly, he deployed Puttkamer at Schwedeldorf (present-day Szalejów) with 4 bns and 7 sqns; Schenkendorf on the heights of Reinerz (present-day Duszniki-Zdrój) with 5 bns and 12 hussar sqns; Kreytzen on the Hummelberg with 4 bns, 1 dragoon sqn and 200 hussars; and 2 grenadier bns occupied Rückers (present-day Szczytna). Fouqué with 4 bns and 5 sqns then awaited at Nachod the arrival of General Lattorf with the artillery train.
Daun finally got into Königsgratz neighbourhood a week after Frederick. Ironically, the Prussians were planted in the inside of those innumerable redoubts and abatis that Daun had built earlier in the year. Even though Daun was superior in force (75,000 men against 30,000), he was unable to dislodge Frederick from his positions around Königgratz.
On July 19, Fouqué left Nachod for Glatz with his corps and the artillery train, leaving Lattorf behind at Nachod.
On July 21, Fouqué left Glatz with 300 wagons loaded with supply. Meanwhile, Daun manoeuvred to cover his position from any attack from Königgratz. Accordingly, he sent the horse grenadiers to Chlum (present-day Chlum Všestary), Wehla's light troops to Saint-Jean chapel and Kalnoky to Schmirsitz (present-day Smiřice). The Austrian Main Army then moved to a new position between Urbanitz (present-day Urbanice) and Chlum under the cover of the carabiniers deployed on the heights between Stöser (present-day Stěžery) and Urbanitz.
On July 22, Fouqué arrived at Nachod and confided the convoy to Lattorf to bring it to Königsgratz. Fouqué then encamped in front of Nachod with 4 bns, 5 dragoon sqns and 20 hussar sqns. The same day, Daun’s army was encamped on the hills of Libischau (present-day Libina hills).
Frederick leaves for Brandenburg
By the end of July, Frederick had decided to evacuate Bohemia and to bring assistance to Dohna against the Russian invasion of Brandenburg.
On July 25, Frederick sent Rebentisch forward with the bakery, the supplies and the ambulance, escorted by 6 bns and Werner Hussars (10 sqns). Rebentisch crossed the Mettau and stopped at Dolskow (present-day Dolsko). Meanwhile, the Prince of Württemberg marched to Tschibus (present-day Číbuz) to observe the Austrian vanguard and to cover Rebentisch's march with 1 grenadier bn and 23 sqns. Pannewitz battalion occupied the suburbs beyond the Elbe. Observing these movements, Daun finally sent Wehla forward to attack the suburbs of Königsgratz. Pannewitz battalion retired to the Elbe. The bridge was then broken up. During the night the baggage was sent forward to Nachod, escorted by Lattorf with 4 grenadiers bns.
On July 26 at 3:30 a.m., the Prussian Army began its retreat. Daun sent his horse grenadiers across the Elbe to harass the retiring Prussians while he retained his actual position and recalled Siskovics's and Saint-Ignon's detachments. The Prussian Army reached Jassena (present-day Jasenná). Two regiments guarded the bridge over the Mettau at Slawietin (present-day Slavětín nad Metují) while Zieten Hussars covered the right flank and the VI. Standing Grenadier Battalion covered the left flank. The Austrian carabiniers and horse grenadiers encamped at Czernilow (present-day Černilov) while Loudon reoccupied Opotschno and Daun remained idle in his camp. The two battalions of Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer under Colonel
On July 28, Frederick detached Retzow forward with 10 bns and 20 sqns to attack Loudon encamped on the heights of Neustadt (present-day Nové Město nad Metují). Loudon retired without fighting. Lattorf with an escort of 4 bns then led the Prussian supplies across the Mettau and marched towards Nahorzan (present-day Nahořany).
On July 29, the Prussian artillery train and baggage joined Lattorf at Nahorzan. The Prussian Main Army then crossed the Mettau on 4 field bridges during the afternoon. Zieten Hussars (10 sqns) along with the Württemberg Dragoons and Czettritz Dragoons and some infantry were placed in the woods near Jassena to cover the crossing. Meanwhile Puttkamer Hussars and Seydlitz Hussars marched to the enemy. They drove the Saxon Graf Renard Uhlanen out of Kralitz (present-day Kralice na Hané) and back to Klenowitze. After the crossing, the Prussian Army encamped at Jessenitz (present-day Velká Jesenice). During the night, the Saxon Uhlans reoccupied their former positions.
On July 30, Retzow marched from Neustadt to Studenitz (probably Studnice). Daun, fearing that Frederick intended to reach Trautenau (present-day Trutnov) sent his carabiniers and horse grenadiers across the Elbe to Schmirsitz (present-day Smiřice). He then marched the main army to Rodow (present-day Rodov), establishing his headquarters at Horzeniowes (present-day Hořiněves).
On July 31, the Austrian carabiniers extended their positions up to the of Monastery of Kukus (present-day Kuks). Zieten then made a junction with the Prussian Main Army with 4 sqns which had been isolated after the affair of Domstadl.
|Order of Battle|
|Detailed OOB of Daun's army at Jermer on August 2 (as per Jomini).|
On August 2, Loudon marched from Opotschno to Welsdorff (present-day Vlčkovice) and Wehla took position at Rostok (present-day Roztoky) while the Austrian Main Army redeployed at Jermer (present-day Jaroměř). Most of Frederick's lines of communications were hampered by Daun's light troops. Frederick sent his heavy artillery and pontoons ahead to Wissoka (present-day Vysokov) while supplies and baggage followed at 2:00 p.m., escorted by Lattorf.
On August 3 at daybreak, the Prussian army marched in 4 columns. Forcade led the rearguard formed with the second infantry column, he progressively retired towards the camp of Skalitz (present-day Česká Skalice).
On August 4, at 8:00 a.m., Forcade marched with the park to Politz (present-day Police nad Metují), followed at noon by Zieten and Seydlitz with 8 cuirassier regiments. At 5:00 p.m., Frederick retired his right wing from Skalitz while the train marched ahead escorted by the Forcade and Manteuffel regiments. Austrian Generals Harsch and Deville with some 20 to 30,000 men started the blockade of Neisse (present-day Nysa), and Loudon advanced to Horschitzka (present-day Hořičky) with 4,270 men (detachments of Warasdiner-Creutzer Grenzer, Warasdiner-Sankt Georger Grenzer and Slavonisch-Gradiskaner Grenzer), defeating a Prussian detachment. Loudon even sent advanced parties up to Skalitz where they were repulsed, loosing 140 men. Meanwhile, the Prussian Corps under the command of Retzow occupied Rothkosteletz (present-day Červený Kostelec).
On August 5 at daybreak, the Prussian baggage left for Politz escorted by 4 bns and all dragoon units. At 6:00 a.m., the army followed in 2 columns. Each of these columns had a rearguard composed of 4 grenadier battalions, 1 Frei-Infanterie battalion, 100 hussars and 8 x 12-pdrs. The army crossed the defiles of Nachod and encamped at Radesch (present-day Radešov); the first two lines consisting of infantry, the third of dragoons. During this operation, Fouqué guarded the bridge on the Mettau and the heights on both sides of Nachod. He then joined Goltz and Schenkendorf and encamped at Rückers with his 15 bns and 5 sqns. Meanwhile, Retzow advanced from Rothkosteletz to Starkstadt (present-day Stárkov). The same day, Loudon advanced to Eipel (present-day Úpice) from where he detached the Slavonisch-Gradiskaner Grenzer on Rothkosteletz. Loudon then encamped to observe the movements of the Prussian forces.
On August 6, Frederick remained at Rückers while Zieten and the cuirassiers and Forcade with the baggage both moved to Wernersdorf (present-day Vernéřovice); Retzow advanced to Niederwekelsdorf (present-day Teplice nad Metuji); and Fouqué marched to Wallisfurth (present-day Wolany).
On August 7, the various Prussian corps moved as follows: Frederick to Wernersdorf, Zieten to Wiese (present-day Vižňov), Retzow and Forcade to Wiese where their corps made a junction before encamping at Grüssau (present-day Krzeszów). Frederick was now safe on his own side of the mountains again.
On August 8, Forcade advanced to Braunau (present-day Broumov).
On August 9, Frederick encamped at Grüssau with the baggage while Retzow moved to Zieder (present-day Czadrów) and Seydlitz to Gottesberg (present-day Boguszów-Gorce) with 18 cuirassier sqns. Frederick was informed that the Russians had now laid siege to Cüstrin. He resolved to march immediately with 14 bns and 38 sqns to the relief of this place.
On August 10, Frederick (14 bns and 38 sqns) left Grüssau and marched to Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Góra), heading for Frankfurt an der Oder, while Fouqué and Zieten advanced to Halbstadt (present-day Meziměstí). The Prussian army left behind in Silesia was placed under the command of Margrave Carl, with Fouqué as second in command with two corps (about half the late Olmütz Army).
At the end of August, when Margrave Carl realised that the main Austrian effort would be aimed at the invasion of Saxony instead of Silesia, he instantly started from Grüssau with about 25,000 men. He left Fouqué in Grüssau with about 10,000 men to stop the invasion of Silesia by Austrian forces led by Generals Harsch and de Ville. The Austrians were now carting the siege-stock to begin bombardment.
This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- 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
- 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. 444-446
- 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