1759-08-01 - Engagement of Gohfeld
Prelude to the Battle
Early in July 1759, during their offensive in West Germany, the French captured Minden. The French had now secured a bridge over the Weser and had free access into Hanover. This forced Ferdinand of Brunswick to react quickly to this threat. On July 17, hoping to lure the French into a battle, he deployed his army in the plain of Minden but this plan did not succeed. Ferdinand then methodically advanced his positions towards Minden while giving the impression that his various corps were isolated.
On July 31 1759, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick and general Dreves established themselves at Kirchlengern across the lines of communication between Minden and Paderborn and Kassel, cutting all supplies coming from the south to Contades' army at Minden. In the evening, Brissac's corps took position at Gohfeld with the Warre river in his front. The cavalry of the Volontaires de Dauphiné was charged to maintain communication between d'Havré's and Brissac's corps through the vale of Bergkirchen.
The Hereditary Prince decided to attack Brissac the next morning.
Furthermore, the following website offers a large map of the battle of Minden covering the engagement at Gohfeld (on the right side approximately in the middle of the map).
There were salt pans around the junction between the Weser and the Warre. The bridge nearest the Weser was called the Salt Pan Bridge. It was apparently flimsy and designed mainly for the salt pan workers to use. This bridge collapsed during the French retreat. The main road ran over the next bridge, the "Gohfeld Warre" bridge.
There is a small stream running into the Warre downstream of the French force initial positions (between Gohfeld and the Weser).
The Beck defile was located near the town of Menningenhuffen and a large estate house (Haus Beck, now an inn).
Description of Events
Since the front of the French positions was inaccessible, the Allied centre kept the French at bay while the right wing turned the French left and the left wing advanced towards the bridge to cut the French from Minden.
On August 1 at 3:00 AM, the Hereditary Prince set from his camp at Kirchlengern. However, Brissac's troops too were on the move to attack the Allies. When count Kielmansegg came out of the defile of Beck, he came into contact with the French. The two forces cannonaded each other for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, the Allied right crossed the Warre at Kirchlengern. When the French saw that their left had been turned, they immediately gave way. While retreating they came under the fire of the artillery of the Allied left wing.
Completely surrounded, the Brissac's force broke and routed. The Allies captured 5 guns and all the baggage. During this engagement, Alt Zastrow Infantry repulsed the French cavalry.
The Allies captured 5 guns and all the baggage.
Immediately after the engagement, the Hereditary Prince took position near the defile of Bergkirchen. The same day (August 1), the army of Ferdinand of Brunswick defeated the main French army in the battle of Minden. Since the Hereditary Prince had already cut the line of communication from Minden to Paderborn and Kassel, where the French had considerable magazines, the main French army was forced to retreat through countries where it had no subsistence.
Order of Battle
Allied Order of Battle
Commander-in-chief: Hereditary Prince of Brunswick
Summary: 10 battalions, 9 squadrons and some light troops for a total of about 8,500 men
- Right wing under the Hereditary Prince and general Dreves
- Centre under lieutenant-general count Kilmansegg
- Left wing under Bock
- Unidentified Jäger Unit (400 men)
- Malachowski Hussars (1 sqn of 100 men)
N.B.: 1 battalion of Prussian volunteers (Trümbach) had been detached to Herford.
French Order of Battle
Commander-in-chief: Jean-Paul Timoléon duc de Brissac
Summary: 1 brigade of infantry (under the command of Phillipe-Henri, marquis de Ségur), 1 brigade of cavalry, a few guns and possibly 12 hussar squadrons.
The infantry was made up of a composite force consisting of 20 grenadier companies and 20 infantry piquets for a total of 2,000 men.
The cavalry counted 1,000 horse, maybe cavalry piquets or possibly carabiniers of various regiment of cavalry.
The artillery consisted of 4 or 5 x 4-pdrs.
In addition, Brissac's troops had been reinforced by the Bercheny and Turpin hussars on July 29, after being forced to leave their position at Lübbecke. This would add another 12 squadrons to his detachment.
Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 405-406
Hotham, The operations of the Allied Amy under the command of his Serene Highness Prince Ferdinand Duke of Brunswic and Luneberg beginning in the year 1757 and ending in the year 1762, London: T. Jefferies, 1764, p. 98
Jomini, baron de, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, pp. 35, 46
Rogge, Christian, The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Witzel, Rudolf, Hessen Kassels Armee in der Alliierten Armee 1762, p. 238