1759 - Reich and Austrian invasion of Saxony
The campaign lasted from July to December 1759
- 1 Description
- 1.1 Situation in Saxony at the beginning of 1759
- 1.2 Prussian Preliminary Operations
- 1.3 Austrian Raids in Saxony
- 1.4 Prince Heinrich on the Defensive
- 1.5 Austro-Imperial Invasion of Saxony
- 1.6 Siege of Dresden
- 1.7 Prussians recapture most of Saxony
- 1.8 Combat of Korbitz
- 1.9 Prince Heinrich faces Daun in Saxony
- 1.10 Austrian retreat towards Dresden
- 1.11 Battle of Maxen
- 1.12 Daun reoccupy part of Saxony
- 2 References
Situation in Saxony at the beginning of 1759
At the beginning of the campaign of 1759, a Prussian Army (43 bns, 60 sqns) under the command of Prince Heinrich was stationed in Saxony. An Austrian Corps (9 bns, 39 sqns, 3,154 Grenzers) under the command of Gemmingen was posted at Postelberg (present-day Postoloprty) on the Eger (Ohře River) on the frontier between Saxony and Bohemia. Another Austrian Corps of 15,000 men (including 6,546 Grenzers from Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 1, Karlstädter-Lykaner, Karlstädter-Oguliner, Karlstädter-Szluiner, and 1,454 men from the Karlstädter Grenz-Hussars) under Hadik had already joined the Reichsarmee cantoned in Franconia near the Saxon border with another division on the Werra near Hesse. Globally these Austro-Imperial forces amounted to about 45,000 men.
Prussian Preliminary Operations
In February, Ferdinand of Brunswick, who feared a junction between the French Army of the Lower Rhine and this Austro-Imperial Army, made arrangements with Prince Heinrich for a Prussian corps to launch a diversionary attack in Thuringia to monopolize the attention of the Reichsarmee.
On February 16, observing that the Austro-Imperial Army was fortifying Erfurt, Prince Heinrich sent a detachment under General Knobloch against them. Accordingly, in support of an Allied Corps under the command of the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, Knobloch launched an incursion in Thuringia. These manoeuvres led the Austro-Imperials to entirely abandon Hesse and to retire to Meiningen in the Country of Bamberg. At the end of this expedition, the Prussians returned into their winter-quarters.
In April, Frederick II instructed Prince Heinrich to launch a raid against the Austrian magazines near the Bohemian border. From April 14 to 23, Prince Heinrich conducted a successful incursion into Bohemia, destroying magazines at Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice).
After this successful operation, Frederick decided to send the Prussian Army of Saxony against the Reichsarmee to put it out of action for a certain time so that he could redirect this same Army of Saxony against the Russians. Accordingly, Frederick instructed Prince Heinrich to enter into Franconia.
From April 29 to June 1, Prince Heinrich conducted operations in Franconia against the Reichsarmee.
Austrian Raids in Saxony
When Prince Heinrich launched his offensive in Franconia, the Austrian forces stationed in Northwestern Bohemia, taking advantage of the gaping hole created in the Prussian positions, started to advance towards Saxony to threaten the lines of communication of the Prussians. Field-Marshal Count Leopold Daun had sent Wehla towards Berlin and Gemmingen on Chemnitz and Zwickau.
FML von Gemmingen set off from the vicinity of Budin (present-day Budyně nad Ohří/CZ) with his corps and marched upstream along the Eger River (present-day Ohře River) up to Saaz (present-day Žatec/CZ), sending light troops forward to Karlsbad (present-day Karlovy Vary/CZ) and Falkenau (present-day Sokolov/CZ).
On May 10, Major-General von Horn had been left behind at Asch (present-day Aš/CZ) with a small Prussian detachment of 5 bns (II./Puttkamer Infantry, Hessen-Cassel Fusiliers, Freibataillon Monjou) and 6 sqns (Horn Cuirassiers and 130 men from Belling Hussars) to protect the lines of communication of Prince Heinrich.
On May 15, Grenzer light troops (part of Gemmingen’s Corps) under Major-General von Brentano and Lieutenant-Colonel von Palasti crossed the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) and reached the vicinity of Penig and Altenburg in Saxony.
On May 21, Major-General von Horn detached Lieutenant-Colonel von Wolffersdorff from Hof with a small party (I./Hessen-Cassel Fusiliers, half of Freibataillon Monjou and 130 cuirassiers and hussars) to drive back Palasti’s hussar detachment from the area of Greiz, to the northwest of Reichenbach in Voigtland.
Palasti managed to retired to Schneeberg without significant losses. There, he was reinforced by Grenzer light troops belonging to Brentano’s Corps.
On May 23
With his lines of communication threatened, Prince Heinrich was thus forced to retire from Franconia without having fulfilled his objectives to bring the Reichsarmee to battle and to destroy it. Indeed, the Reichsarmee was still a threat for Saxony.
On May 24
- Schenckendorff’s detachment (now including Wolffersdorff’s troops) marched to Reichenbach to secure the line of communication between Hof and Zwickau.
- Lieutenant-General Finck arrived at Hof with the convoy of artillery and baggage of Prince Heinrich’s Army. Finck then assumed command of the Prussian forces assembled at Hof.
On May 25
- Schenckendorff’s detachment advanced to Zwickau.
- Finck sent order to Major-General Schenckendorff to attack the Austrians posted at Schneeberg. He also sent him a reinforcement (II./Salmuth Fusiliers under Major von Cordier, the rest of Freibataillon Monjou and 150 men of the Belling Hussars under Major von Gerlach) to assist him in his attack. This detachment would advance by Oelsnitz and Auerbach to attack the rear of the Austrian positions.
Meanwhile, Brentano had taken position behind the Mulde River between Aue and Bockau.
On May 27
- Engagement of Aue
- At 2:00 a.m., Schenckendorff set off from Zwickau, marched along the eastern bank of the Mulde by way of Wildenfels and Hartenstein.
- Schenckendorff surprised Brentano’s outposts on the Heights of Aue, made himself master of these heights and of the village.
- Schenckendorff then immediately attacked the main positions of Brentano’s light troops (Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 2, Karlstädter-Szluiner and Warasdiner-Sankt Georger), hoping to drive back the Austrians on the reinforcements sent by Finck from Hof.
- The detachment sent from Hof had been instructed, once it had reached Auerbach, to turn towards Eibenstock, so that it would cut Brentano’s line of retreat towards Bohemia. However, it did not manage to arrive on time.
- After a long struggle, the Austrians were driven back but they managed to retire through the mountains.
- In this action, the Austrians lost 24 men killed, 63 wounded and only 3 taken prisoners; the Prussians lost 3 men killed and 30 wounded.
- Schenckendorff spent the night on the heights near Aue.
On May 28, Schenckendorff’s detachment returned to Zwickau.
On June 1
- Prince Heinrich’s Army recrossed the border of Saxony. During his retreat, he had been closely followed by Austrian light troops belonging to Kleefeld's, Ried's, Vécsey's and Luzinsky's detachments.
- Seeing that the army of Prince Heinrich was back in Saxony, Gemmingen retired to Bohemia with his corps.
Major von Gerlach and Major von Monjou were both court-martialed because of their delay when leading the Prussian detachment sent from Hof to support intercept Brentano’s Corps. They were both dismissed from service.
Prince Heinrich on the Defensive
On June 2, the Reichsarmee quitted its camp at Forchheim.
By June 3, Prince Heinrich's forces had retired to the neighbourhood of Zwickau in southwest Saxony.
On June 4, General Andreas Hadik, leaving 2 hussar regiments with the Reichsarmee, marched with his Austrian corps to make a junction with Daun in Bohemia.
On June 5, Prince Heinrich detached Hülsen with 10 bns and 20 sqns to reinforce Dohna's Army which was trying to delay the Russian invasion of Brandenburg. Finck with 4 bns and 5 sqns then moved towards Dresden to observe the Austrian army operating in Lusatia. The Reichsarmee encamped at Forchheim with its vanguard at Wüstenstein.
On June 13, the Reichsarmee marched from Forchheim in the direction of Bamberg.
On June 21, Ried's light troops raided Halberstadt. They later advanced up to Magdeburg and then retired through Querfurt where they raised a contribution of 25,000 Thalers.
On June 23, the Reichsarmee occupied a new camp at Hofheim (present-day Hofheim in Unterfranken) on the road from Haßfurt to Königshofen (present-day Bad Königshofen im Grabfeld) on the border between Franconia and Saxony while its light troops took the direction of the Werra towards Meiningen and Salzungen (present-day Bad Salzungen) and other detachments formed a chain of posts from Saalfeld by Schleiz up to Hof. The Duke Zweibrücken, the commander-in-chief of the Reichsarmee]], personally went to Mannheim and FM Serbelloni took the command “ad interim”.
By July 4 the Reichsarmee was still encamped at Hofheim.
On July 5, the Reichsarmee decamped from Hofheim and marched towards Auerstedt.
On July 10, Prince Heinrich assembled his army near Dresden.
On July 12, Daun, the Austrian commander-in-chief, resolved to merge several Austrian corps operating on the borders of Silesia and Lusatia and to send this new corps towards Brandenburg to make a junction with the Russian army. With this manoeuvre, Daun hoped to draw Prince Heinrich away from Saxony. This project called for a simultaneous advance of the Reichsarmee on Erfurt and Leipzig.
On July 13, Prince Heinrich marched towards Dresden in Saxony while Finck marched to Bischofswerda. The same day, the Zweibrücken rejoined the Reichsarmee.
On July 16, the Reichsarmee arrived at Ilmenau.
On July 17, Finck's detachment marched to Marienstern.
On July 18, Knobloch's detachment marched to Stolpen. The same day, the Reichsarmee reached Arnstadt.
On July 20, Prince Heinrich was informed of the manoeuvre of the Austrian Corps marching towards Brandenburg. He immediately marched to Kamenz, leaving a detachment under Knobloch at Bischofswerda to defend southern Saxony.
On July 21, the Reichsarmee advanced on Saxony through Gotha.
On July 23, Prince Heinrich marched to Bautzen.
On July 25, Prince Heinrich (20 bns, 35 sqns) marched to Königswartha, Finck (12 bns, 10 sqns) remained at Bautzen. The same day, the Reichsarmee reached Erfurt.
On July 27, now that Prince Heinrich had left the Saxon theatre of operation, Finck was forced to retire to Kamenz in front of superior Austrian forces.
On July 30, Finck was instructed to make a junction with Frederick's main army in Silesia and marched northwards to Hoyerswerda. With the departure of Finck's Corps, the only remaining Prussian troops in Saxony were the garrison of Dresden and a few detachments in the towns of Leipzig, Wittenberg and Torgau.
Austro-Imperial Invasion of Saxony
On July 31, the Reichsarmee finally arrived at Auerstedt.
On August 1, the Reichsarmee made itself master of Naumburg.
In the following days, the Reichsarmee also made itself master of Zeitz and Halle. General Vécsey occupied Halle.
On August 3, Kleefeld summoned the Prussian garrison of Leipzig commanded by General Hauss.
On August 5, the Prussian garrison of Leipzig capitulated to the Reichsarmee, marching out with the honours of war.
By August 6, the Austrian Corps of Maquire had advanced up to Hoyerswerda.
On August 8, the Reichsarmee encamped at Leipzig and the Duke of Zweibrücken sent the corps of Stolberg, Kleefeld and Luzinsky (about 17,000 men) against Torgau, defended by Wolfersdorf.
On August 9, the Austro-Imperial Corps launched a first assault on Torgau. The town was only defended by a wall and a ditch with some earthworks. Despite the weakness of the place, Wolfersdorf defended it stubbornly. The same day, Maquire received orders to move from Hoyerswerda to Görlitz.
By August 10, the Reichsarmee was encamped near Leipzig where it would remain fro two weeks.
On August 13, the Prince von Stolberg, second to Zweibrücken, arrived at Torgau with a train of battering guns and 6,000 additional men (4 bns, 4 grenadier coys, 1 cavalry rgt and a few 12-pdrs). A battery was established while Luzinsky's light troops conducted a diversionary attack. The battery opened on Torgau and on the Elbe bridge. Stolberg launched a new assault which had nearly succeeded when Wolfersdorf sallied from the place with 400 men and routed the attacking column. The Prince of Stolberg offered Wolfersdorf a honourable capitulation but the latter declined his offer.
On August 14, the garrison of Torgau, now out of ammunition, had to capitulate. It was allowed to withdraw freely. It left behind a large magazine, 9 guns and a military chest containing 200,000 Thalers in species. Furthermore, a lieutenant-colonel, 13 officers and 300 men; who were hold prisoners in Torgau; were freed. Finally 800 Saxons, who had been forcibly enrolled in the Prussian Army, deserted and joined the Austrians. During the brief siege, the Austro-Imperials had lost 1 lieutenant and 5 men killed, and 1 captain and 41 men wounded; the Prussians had lost 31 men killed and 86 wounded.
During these manoeuvres of the Reichsarmee, Daun had sent the Austrian Division of Wehla and Brentano towards Dresden to observe the place and to act jointly with the Reichsarmee. Daun later sent Maquire to reinforce Wehla and Brentano. These reinforcements brought the Austrian force near Dresden at some 15,000 men.
On August 17, a party of Karlstädter-Szluiner Grenzer gave effective support to an Austrian outpost near Dresden.
On August 20, General Kleefeld appeared in front of Wittenberg. The Prussian General Horn defended the place with 3 Saxon battalions (among which the Grolmann battalion) captured at Pirna and the Erbprinz von Hessen-Cassel Fusiliers. When Horn saw the Karlstädter-Oguliner Grenzer approaching, he set fire to the suburb and seemed determined to oppose a serious resistance to Kleefeld's endeavours. However, when Horn received the first summon, not trusting his troops, he surrendered the town and retired with them at Potsdam. The Duke of Zweibrücken then left a corps (12,000 men) under General Saint-André at Leipzig, Colonel Losy of the Karlstädter-Oguliner Grenzer in command at Wittenberg and advanced on Meissen. Because of his feeble defence, Horn was put under arrest as soon as he arrived in Berlin.
On August 21, a Prussian detachment under Wunsch (including his own Frei-Infanterie von Wunsch) left Fürstenwalde near Berlin to come to the relief of Dresden.
By August 23, all the Prussian posts in those parts had also fell to the Reichsarmee, not one of them capable of standing a siege of more than a few days. The Reichsarmee had now taken all the northward garrison-towns. It placed garrisons in each of these towns, monopolizing some 11,000 men for general protection of this region. Then, the same day, the remainder of the Reichsarmee (some 15,000 men) marched for Dresden.
Siege of Dresden
On August 25, Schmettau, the Prussian commander of Dresden, received a letter written by Frederick II on August 13, after his defeat at the Battle of Kunersdorf. This letter informed him that he could not count on any support and instructed him to try to maintain himself in the city but, failing which, to obtain a favourable capitulation and to join one of the Prussian Corps. However, on August 25, Frederick II was despatching a second letter to Schmettau, instructing him this time to hold Dresden at all cost! This last letter did not reach Schmettau in due time... General Wunsch and Wolfersdorf were on the road since four days with about 8,000 men to relieve Dresden but this was unknown to Schmettau.
On August 26, Maquire took position in front of Neustadt, a suburb of Dresden located beyond the river to the north, and attacked it but was repulsed by Schmettau. The latter then precipitously evacuated the suburb of Neustadt, considering it indefensible with his small garrison of 3,700 men. He then strengthened the riverbank and concentrated the garrison inside the old town on the left bank of the Elbe. Meanwhile, Wehla with his Grenzers rapidly occupied Neustadt where they managed to seize large quantities of wheat, oat, barley and straw along with 136 iron cannon, 4,000 muskets and 3,000 sabres. The Duke of Zweibrücken then sent 4 Grenzer battalions (including the Warasdiner-Sankt Georger), a few grenadier companies and the Jazygier-Kumanier Hussars to occupy the suburb. The Austrians then enjoined Schmettau to surrender but he he rejected this summon. Schmettau then desided to set fire to the suburbs, bombarding it with red-hot cannonballs. The same day at Jüterbog, Wunsch made a junction with 2 bns and 7 sqns from Kleist's Corps and Wolfersdorf's troops who had retired from Torgau. These reinforcements brought Wunsch's Corps to 9 bns and 8 sqns for a total of about 7,000 men.
On August 27, Wunsch marched to Wittenberg and reoccupied the town, allowing the Austrian garrison of Colonel Losy to retire after the capitulation. The same day, Zweibrücken arrived at Meissen.
On August 29, Wunsch marched to Torgau. The same day, Zweibrücken arrived in the vicinity of Dresden.
On August 31, Torgau capitulated and Wunsch reoccupied the town, allowing the Austrian garrison of General Kleefeld to retire. Wunsch remained at Torgau for 3 days, awaiting the arrival of artillery from Magdeburg.
On September 1, the garrison of Dresden (7 bns, 150 horse) opened a lively fire against the Austrian troops occupying the suburb.
On September 2, Wunsch finally received his artillery from Magdeburg.
On September 3, after negotiation with Maquire and Guasco, Schmettau, not knowing that help was at hand, decided to capitulate. The Austrians freed 796 men (including 22 officers) kept prisoners at Dresden. Maquire, informed of Wunsch approach, detached Wehla with his 4 Grenzer battalions to Reichenberg; and instructed General Brentano to take position on the Elbe to support Wehla. The same day, Wunsch left Torgau and marched towards Dresden.
On September 4, Wunsch encamped at Grossenhain where he was informed that negotiation were under way at Dresden. In fact, Schmettau signed the capitulation at 9:00 p.m..
Prussians recapture most of Saxony
On September 5, Dresden was roused from its sleep by loud firing and battle, audible on the north side of the Elbe. It was Wunsch repelling Brentano's Grenzer Corps from the heights of Boxdorf. This Austrian Corps soon joined Wehla's Division (4 grenzer bns) who had been sent to its support by Maquire. Another engagement took place at the débouché of the woods of Moritzburg between Wunsch's force and the combined forces of Brentano and Wehla. The Austrian were forced to retire to Weissenhirsch. Wunsch then resolved to storm the suburb of Neustadt occupied by Maquire. Wunsch ordered to attack the bridges that the Austrians had thrown on the Elbe and to turn Maquire's positions. The attack on the bridges was successful and Wunsch resumed his advance, reaching the Fischhaus where Brentano and Wehla had redeployed their troops. Wunsch attacked them and put them to flight once more, pursuing them up to Weissenhirsch. Wunsch was then forced to pause for the night. Receiving no news from Schmettau, Wunsch concluded that he had certainly capitulated. He then withdrew and bivouacked at Grossenhain. There, he received a message from his commandant at Torgau, advising him that Saint-André's 14,000 men strong Austrian Corps (10 bns, 9 grenadier coys, 2,000 Grenzers, 18 sqns, 1 carabinier coy and 60 hussars) was upon him and that he could not hold out very long. Wunsch then took the road again.
On September 6, according to Daun's order, Hadik marched by Spremberg and Hoyeswerda towards Dresden to make a junction with the Reichsarmee. The same day, Count Piotr Semionovitch Saltykov, commander of the Russian field army, was informed of the capture of Dresden. Ignoring the fate of the city, Frederick ordered Finck to join Wunsch at Dresden.
On September 7 in the afternoon, after 2 marches of 32 km each, Wunsch arrived in front of Torgau and took post in the ruins of the North suburb. Realizing that he had to fight Saint-André, he refreshed his men and requested Wolfersdorf, with the rearguard, to join him at Torgau the following day by 10:00 a.m.. The same day, according to Frederick's orders, Finck left the camp of Woldau near Lieberose for Dresden with 9 bns and 27 sqns.
On September 8, Wolfersdorf started at 4:00 a.m. and was at Torgau at 10:00 a.m.. Wunsch was summoned by General Baron Saint-André. Wunsch reacted by an attack, utterly defeating Saint-André in the Combat of Zinna. Wunsch, even though he could not save Dresden, had now recaptured the northern regions of Saxony again. Only Leipzig was still in enemy's hand.
On Saturday September 8 at 5:00 a.m., Schmettau's troops left Dresden. They filed out across Elbe bridge through the Neustadt between a double rank of Austrians. The march was so disposed that, all along, there were one or two companies of Prussian infantry and then in the interval, carriages, guns, cavalry and hussars. Schmettau's own carriage was with the rearguard. Austrians encouraged desertions and about half of the whole garrison seized this opportunity to abandon Prussian service. Frederick II ordered Schmettau to halt at Wittenberg. Schmettau himself was ordered to Berlin and was never again employed by Frederick II.
On Sunday evening September 9, Finck with 6,000 men had got to Grossenhain when he heard of the capture of Dresden. Nevertheless, he pushed on to join Wunsch at Torgau.
On September 10, Hadik arrived at Dresden where he joined the Reichsarmee behind the Plauen.
On September 11, Finck joined Wunsch to cover Saxony.
On September 12, Finck and Wunsch marched to Eilenburg and Wunsch continued to Leipzig.
On September 13, Wunsch recaptured Leipzig where the garrison (Kreisinfanterieregiment Nassau-Weilburg (1 bn) and II./Kreisinfanterieregiment Hohenlohe (1 bn) under the command of Count Hohenlohe) surrendered as prisoners of war, most of them entering into the Prussian service. Besides these 2 bns, Wunsch captured 10 flags and 4 guns. The same day, the Austrian detachments of Rudolph Pálffy and Wehla (2 sqns of Banalisten Grenz-Hussars, 6 sqns of Slavonisches Grenz-Hussars and 2,004 grenzers belonging to Karlstädter-Oguliner, Karlstädter-Szluiner, Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment and Slavonisch-Brooder) made a junction at Hoyerswerda.
On September 15, Finck and Wunsch made a junction at Döbeln.
On September 16, Finck and Wunsch marched to Nossen.
On September 18, as soon as Zweibrücken heard of the movements of this Prussian Corps, he threw 16 bns into Dresden and set off from Plauen with the Reichsarmee to attack the Prussians.
On September 19, Finck and Wunsch marched to Meissen. Finck's Corps was encamping near Korbitz (near present-day Korbitzer Strasse) while Wunsch with 6 bns and 9 sqns occupied the Lerchenberg Heights near Siebeneichen on the left.
Combat of Korbitz
On September 21 at 10:00 a.m., the Reichsarmee attacked Wunsch's positions on the Lerchenberg. Meanwhile, Hadik passed the defiles of Munzig and Miltitz, deployed between Krögis and Stroischen and attacked Finck at noon, cannonading his positions. During the ensuing Combat of Korbitz (aka first Combat of Meissen) near Meissen, the Prussians resisted to several charges of the Austro-Imperial Army and maintained their positions.
On September 22, the Austro-Imperial army retired from Meissen country and Hadik effected a junction with the Reichsarmee near Neustadt. The Prussians took position behind the Triebsche River.
On September 23, the Reichsarmee returned to its camp at Seeligstadt, about 8.5 km from Wilsdruff.
On September 24, Prince Heinrich suddenly appeared in front of Wehla's position at Hoyerswerda, after a march of 50 hours from Lusatia. He easily overwhelmed Wehla's Corps (3,000 men), killing 600 and capturing 28 officers and 1,785 men. Prince Heinrich, Finck and Wunsch were now well positioned in the Meissen-Torgau region.
On September 27, Prince Heinrich was informed inaccurately that the Reichsarmee along with Hadik's Corps had probably attacked Finck at Korbitz, repulsing him. Prince Heinrich immediately detached General Bülow with 4 bns to reinforce Finck and prepared his corps to march to his relief. The same day, the Reichsarmee returned to the vale of Plauen.
On September 28, Prince Heinrich's army marched westwards to Ruhland.
On September 29, Prince Heinrich's Army marched to Elsterwerda where Prince Heinrich was informed of the real outcome of the Combat of Korbitz. The same day, Daun, who had resolved to attack Prince Heinrich, arrived at Dresden and encamped near Kesselsdorf.
On September 30, Daun remained at Kesselsdorf.
Prince Heinrich faces Daun in Saxony
On October 1, Prince Heinrich was informed that Daun had thrown 3 bridges over the Elbe at Dresden. Fearing for Finck's Corps, Prince Heinrich detached General Ozttritz to reinforce it. Ozttritz crossed the Elbe at Torgau with 5 bns and 2 dragoon rgts. The same day, the Austrian corps of Hadik (Warasdiner-Sankt Georger Grenzer and Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 2) and Brentano (1 bn of Karlstädter-Oguliner Grenzer, 1 bn of Karlstädter-Szluiner Grenzer, 1 bn of Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 1 and 1 bn of Warasdiner-Creutzer Grenzer) reached Tannenberg.
On October 2 at 6:00 a.m., Daun moved to attack Finck near Meissen but his advanced posts reported that the Prussians had already abandoned their positions during the night. Indeed, by 7:00 a.m., Finck was encamped at Strehla, about 30 km to the northwest of Meissen. The same day, Prince Heinrich's Army encamped in front of Torgau while his vanguard reached Belgern. Prince Heinrich intended to pass the Elbe between Meissen and Strehla and to join Finck. The same day, the Reichsarmee went to a new camp in the Friedrichstadt suburbs of Dresden. Daun asked Zweibrucken to take action against Prince Heinrich.
On October 3, the Austrian Main Army under Daun marched in 7 columns to Lommatzsch while Brentano harrassed Finck's camp at Strehla. The same day, Prince Heinrich passed the Elbe at Torgau and encamped at Belgern.
On October 4, Prince Heinrich arrived at Strehla where he made a junction with Finck's Corps, thus concluding the masterly manoeuvre which conducted his army from Silesia into the heart of Saxony. The reunited Prussian Army counted 53 bns (including 16 grenadier bns) and 103 sqns. Bülow was posted at Eilenburg with his division to maintain communication with Leipzig. The same day, Daun encamped at Heyda, about10 km north of Lommatzsch. His army counted 64 bns (including 10 grenadier bns) and 75 sqns of heavy cavalry not counting hussars, Grenzer light troops, Brentano's and Gemmingen's Corps and the Reichsarmee. Gemmingen (8 bns, 10 sqns) covered the left at Seerhausen and Esterhazy was at Hof with light troops. Hadik's Corps was incorporated into the Austrian Main Army and Hadik took leave. Daun then changed his plan and, instead of attacking Prince Heinrich, he resolved to drive him out of Saxony by successive manoeuvres, the first one being an advance on the Prussian magazine at Torgau.
On October 5, Daun detached Esterhazy at Raitzen.
On October 6, Daun's Main Army marched to Hof, only separated from Prince Heinrich's positions by the stream running from Schönnewitz to Borna.
On October 8, Esterhazy marched to Lampertswalde.
On October 12, Gemmingen's and Brentano's Corps, reinforced by the horse grenadiers under Buccow, marched to Dahlen.
On October 13, Brentano marched to Sörnewitz (now part of Cavertitz) in an attempt to cut Rebentisch's detachment, now at Schildau, from Prince Heinrich's main force.
On October 15, Buccow marched on Schildau, forcing Rebentisch to withdraw to Wildschütz.
During the night of October 15 to 16, Rebentisch quitted Wildschütz to retire to Torgau.
On October 16 in the morning, as soon as he was informed that Rebentisch had been forced to retire on Torgau, Prince Heinrich detached Finck to join him with 4 bns and 5 sqns.
During the night of October 16 to 17, Prince Heinrich quitted Strehla, marched with his army in 3 columns and encamped near Torgau with his right on the heights of Suptitz and his left in the Rathsweinberg. A large pond covered his front line.
On October 17, fearing for Leipzig, Prince Heinrich detached Finck with 14 bns and 25 sqns to Eilenburg. The same day, Daun detached his carabiniers closely followed by the light troops of Esterhazy to occupy Prince Heinrich's former camp at Strehla.
On October 18, Daun's Army encamped at Strehla while the light troops of Kleefeld and Ried moved closer to Torgau, Palffy marched from Bautzen to Grossenhain by Kamenz.
On October 19, Finck reached Groitzsch on the other side of the Mulda. The same day, Daun's Army encamped at Belgern. Prince Heinrich positioned Schenckendorf's Brigade on the Elbe, 2 bns at Werda (present-day Kunzwerda), 2 more on the opposite bank (probably at Pülswerda). Expecting an attack on his position, Prince Heinrich recalled Finck, leaving only 2 bns and 12 sqns at Eilenburg.
On October 20, Zweibrücken marched along the Elbe with 6 bns, 22 grenadier coys., Prinz Savoyen Dragoons, Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld Dragoons and Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers to effect a junction with the light troops of General Kleefeld, Baron Ried and Count Pálffy.
On October 21, Zweibrücken joined Daun at Belgern.
On October 22. Daun marched from Belgern to Schildau in 6 columns while Arenberg's division advanced to Strehla to cut the Prussian line of communication with Eilenburg and Leipzig.
On October 23, the Austrian General Gemmingen marched with 6 bns and 10 sqns to Eilenburg, forcing Gersdorf's Detachment to retire on Leipzig. The same day, Prince Heinrich detached Rebentisch with 2 bns and 5 sqns at Düben (present-day Bad Düben) where he was joined by Gersdorf.
On October 25, in an attempt to cut Prince Heinrich's communication, Zweibrücken marched to Peritz and Glaubitz on the Elbe while Ried marched to Rassdorf and Palffy from Grossenhain to Uebigau. The Austrians threw a bridge over the Elbe at Leutewitz (now a quarter within the district of Cotta in the City of Dresden) to maintain communication between these numerous detachments and Daun's Main Army. Meanwhile, Arenberg advanced to Dommitzsch and Gemmingen to Düben, behind the Prussian positions. Guasco took position at Schildau with 5 bns and 5 sqns to maintain communication between Arenberg and the main army. The same day, the Austrian Corps of Arenberg and the Prussian Corps of Finck came to contact near Dommitzsch.
On October 26 in the morning, Prince Heinrich reconnoitred Arenberg's positions and decided to turn it. Prince Heinrich planned to send Wunsch with 5 bns and 10 sqns along the right bank of the Elbe on Wittenberg. Wunsch would then repass on the left bank and make a junction with Rebentisch at Kemberg. They planned to attack Arenberg's Corps in the rear while Finck would attack it frontally. Meanwhile, Daun had sent O'Donell with 5 bns and 15 sqns to join Guasco and to support Arenberg.
On October 28, fearing for his positions, Zweibrücken crossed to the left bank of the Elbe near Riesa and encamped between Leutewitz and Boritz. The bridge across Elbe was destroyed afterwards. Zweibrücken then returned to Dresden.
On October 29 in the morning, Arenberg quitted his positions to march to Wittenberg. When the Prussians heard of his departure, Finck marched immediately to follow Arenberg's Corps. When Wunsch reached Gemmingen's post at the defile of Merckwitz (unidentified location), Arenberg retired precipitously on Düben through the forest of Torgau, closely followed by Gemmingen. The latter sent Colonel Haller at the head of his vanguard (2,000 men) on the heights of the Sackwitz wood to cover his retreat. Haller's detachment had not yet reached the summit when Jung Platen Dragoons along with Prussian hussars appeared on the crest. The Prussian cavalry immediately charged the Austrian grenadiers and drove them back, capturing Gemmingen along with 1,400 men. Wunsch and Rebentisch then encamped at Meuro. Gemmingen's units involved in this engagement were:
- Botta Infantry (2 bns)
- Marschall Infantry (1 bn)
- Clerici Infantry (1 bn)
- Jung-Colloredo Infantry (2 bns)
- Angern Infantry (1 bn)
- Converged Grenadiers Battalions (3 bns)
- Serbelloni Cuirassiers (5 sqns)
- Jung-Modena Dragoons (5 sqns)
On October 30, Wunsch and Rebentisch made a junction with the Finck's Corps while Arenberg was reinforced at Düben by O'Donell. Both Austrian generals then retired to Eilenburg. Curiously, Daun had sent some 28,000 men in several detachments against the Prussians while he was busy fortifying his own camp.
On October 31, Finck's combined forces encamped at Düben.
Austrian retreat towards Dresden
On November 1, with the Russians in full retreat to Poland, Frederick II detached Hülsen from Silesia to Saxony with 13,000 men (19 bns and 30 sqns).
On November 2, Hülsen was at Muskau (present-day Bad Muskau).
On November 4, hearing of Hülsen's approach, Daun left his camp of Schildau, intending to retreat on Dresden. He reached Naundorf where Arenberg's Corps joined him. Esterhazy's and Brentano's Corps flanked the main body and reconnoitred the way. Meanwhile, Finck's Prussians marched from Düben to Eilenburg.
On November 5, Prince Heinrich's Main Army marched to Belgern in 3 columns. The same day, Daun marched to Lommatzsch in 8 columns.
On November 6, Daun took position at Heynitz. The same day, Prince Heinrich marched from Belgern towards Strehla while Finck marched to Mutzschen with 13 bns and 35 sqns.
On November 8, Prince Heinrich's main army (40 bns, 63 sqns) encamped near Altsattel while 2 bns guarded the bakery and General Aschersleben was detached at Naundorf with 4 bns and 17 sqns, General Wedel at Hirschstein on the Elbe with 7 bns and 10 sqns, General Schenckendorf at Karschitz (unidentified location) with 2 bns and 8 sqns to keep communication with Finck, and General Dierke at Grossenhain with 4 bns and 4 sqns. The same day, Hülsen's Corps made a junction with the army of Prince Heinrich, after crossing the Elbe on a bridge of boats.
On November 9, planning to turn the Austrian left, Prince Heinrich sent Finck to Etzdorf. Brentano, who was covering the Austrian left flank, retired and encamped at Nossen. Daun did not react to the Prussian manoeuvre. Zweibrücken sent all his grenadiers and 4 bns to support his light troops in the area of Grossenhain.
Prince Heinrich then reinforced Finck with 6 bns and 20 sqns. Daun retreated at his slowest step: in many divisions, covering a wide circuit and sticking to all the strong posts, till his own time for quitting them.
On Tuesday November 13, according to Prince Heinrich's orders, Finck advanced on Brentano's positions at Nossen, planning to dislodge him and then to advance southwards on Freiberg and to send parties towards Dippoldiswalde and Dohna. As soon as the Prussian initiated their attack on Brentano, Daun rushed to the spot and ordered part of his left to deploy en potence towards Deutschenbora. Finck then encamped on the heights between Zelle (present-day Altzella Monastery) and Siebenlehn at the extreme left of the Austrian positions, thus cutting their communications with Freiberg. The same day, Frederick II, who had now recovered from his sickness, arrived at the Castle of Hirschstein, some 10 km north of Lommatzsch, with some 20,000 men and made a junction with Prince Heinrich. The united Prussian Army now totalled some 60,000 men.
During the night of November 13 to 14, Daun retired near Wilsdruff in 8 columns and encamped between Sora and Blankenstein. His reserve along with the Austrian carabiniers took position on the heights of Polenz while Aynse occupied Batzdorf on the Elbe in front of Meissen and Bretano went to Herzogswalde.
On November 14 in the morning, when Frederick heard of Daun's retreat, he ordered Wedel to pursue him. Frederick then led 3 grenadier battalions along with Aschersleben's Corps against the positions of General Sincère at Korbitz (now incorporated into Meissen), inflicting him heavy losses during a fierce and obstinate resistance. The Prussian Main Army soon followed, encamping at Krögis while Wedel's Corps reached Korbitz and Schenkendorf's Deutschenbora. Frederick then instructed Finck to march towards Dippodiswalde. The same day, Finck and his corps were near Nossen some 16 km ahead of Krögis and some 32 west from Dresden harassing the Austrian western flank. Frederick then ordered Finck to march at once round that western flank: by Freiberg, Dippoldiswalde, then east to Maxen, to plant himself at Maxen (20 km south of Dresden, among the rocky hills), to cut off the communications of the Austrian Army with Bohemia and to block the Pirna Country for them.
The next morning Thursday November 15, according to Frederick's orders, Finck with 18 battalions got on march. He drove the Reich troops out of Freiberg and reached Dippoldiswalde which was occupied by a division of the Reichsarmee since 2 days. The latter division retired on Possendorf after suffering a few casualties. He made Freiberg his magazine and Dippoldiswalde his halfway house where he left 4 of his battalions.
On Friday November 16, Finck had his vanguard, led by Wunsch, in possession of Maxen and the heights.The same day, the Reichsarmee set off from its camp near Dresden and marched southwards.
On Saturday November 17, Finck himself reached the heights of Maxen with all his troops and equipments and made a junction with Wunsch. Finck had with him some 12,000 men and was occupying a quite difficult hill country. Meanwhile, Lindstedt occupied Dippodiswalde with 4 bns and 6 sqns to protect Finck's communication with Frederick who marched to Limbach. Frederick had also sent a hussar party under Grüne Kleist who, the same day, burnt an important Austrian magazine at Aussig beyond the Erzgebebirge. Daun fell immediately back from Wilsdruff on Dresden and took post in the dell of Plauen, an impassable chasm stretching southward from Dresden in front of the hill country. The Austrian cavalry took position on the level ground between Dresden and Plauen while the infantry occupied the heights from Plauen to Windberg. Sincère's Corps took position on the heights near Hänichen to cover the rear of the Austrian Army and to guard the defiles of Possendorf leading to Dresden. Brentano was sent at Strehlen on the road to Pirna and then at Nickern. Finally, the Reichsarmee marched by Pirna and took position between Cotta and Berggießhübel while its light troops under Ried marched to Glashütte and Liebstadt. Palfy advanced to Zehista with the hussars and Kleefeld to Zaschendorf on the opposite bank of the Elbe with the Grenzer and Hungarian infantry. Daun's post was both safe and comfortable. Reacting to these manoeuvres, Finck sent Wunsch to Dohna.
On Sunday November 18, Frederick encamped at Wilsdruff while his vanguard led by Zieten reached Kesselsdorf. Frederick then instructed Finck to retire Lindstedt's detachment (4 bns) from Dippoldiswalde and to unite it with his corps at Maxen. This was done according to orders, Finck leaving only 3 hussar sqns at Dippoldiswalde. The same day, Daun, urged on by Lacy, decided to prepare an attack on Finck's positions in the hills. He planned a combined operation with Zweibrücken and his Reichsarmee (12,000 horse and foot). The latter would advance against the rear of Finck's positions by Dohna while Brentano would attack them frontally and Daun and Sincère (3,000 light troops) would attack by Dippoldiswalde to cut Finck's retreat. Sincère's Corps (16 bns, 40 sqns) was reinforced with 12 bns and 10 sqns bringing its total force to about 30,000 men. O'Donell assumed command of this corps.
On Monday November 19 at 7:00 a.m., O'Donell's Corps, personally led by Daun, quitted Rippien and marched directly on Dippoldiswalde. The movement was initially hidden by a heavy fog. When the fog lifted, Finck resolved to detach Platen with 5 bns and 5 sqns to occupy Rheinhadrtsgrimma on the heights of Hausdorf. A bread-convoy reached Finck's positions and was able to safely get home, though under annoyances from cannonading in the distance. Finck, from his observation post on a hilltop, saw the vanguard of Daun approaching Dippoldiswalde and cannonading his meal-carts. All that day, Finck did his best to prepare his corps and saw his numerous enemies settle round him. Finck completely ascertained where the enemy's three attacks were to be: from Dippoldiswalde, Tronitz and Dohna. Daun, with his main force of 27,000 men, took camp on the heights of Malter near Dippoldiswalde with his left at Oberhäslich while Zweibrücken sent FML Duke Stolberg with 6 bns and 5 sqns to Burkhardswalde on the eastern side of Maxen. Once his army safely encamped, Daun returned to Dresden for the night to see if Frederick was quiet. Meanwhile, Finck prepared his positions for defence. Wunsch was left on the heights of Ploschwitz with 5 bns and 3 sqns to contain the Reichsarmee. The rest of Finck's Corps deployed in a crescent shaped line around Maxen. Its line extended from Muhlbach to the heights of Wittgensdorf. Lindstedt covered the right with 3 bns on the heights of Schmorsdorf.
Battle of Maxen
On November 20, Frederick sent Hülsen with 9 bns and 20 sqns by the forest of Tharandt to reinforce Finck. But his reaction came too late. In the afternoon, Daun launched the attack on Finck's positions from the south under Lieutenant-general Lacy and from the north under Brentano. During the ensuing Battle of Maxen', Finck's Corps was completely surrounded and forced to surrender with about 13,750 man while the Austrian lost no more than 1,000 men.
Daun reoccupy part of Saxony
On November 21, Hülsen was at Dippoldiswalde with the reinforcements when he heard of Finck's capitulation. He immediately retired to Freiberg while Frederick sent 4 bns to Mohorn to keep communications with Hülsen open.
Daun then cantoned his army near Dresden.
On November 25, the Reichsarmee encamped around Berggießhübel.
Meanwhile, Frederick took position in front of the Austrians. His vanguard (9 bns, 24 sqns) was at Kesselsdorf; his first line (23 bns) between Wilsdruff and Limbach; his second line (8 bns) in the neighbourhood of Blankenstein and Meissen; his third line (28 sqns) near Herzogswalde; his reserve (11 bns, 35 sqns) under Hülsen near Freiberg. Frederick also detached Dierecke with 6 bns and 1,000 horse at Cölln (now a district of Meissen) on the right bank of the Elbe, in front of Meissen to secure the road leading from Torgau to Berlin.
Around end of November, Daun asked to transfer the Saxon cavalry from Silesia to Saxony. One column (Prinz Albrecht Chevauxlegers and the Karabiniergarde) marched from Trautenau by Schlukenau (present day Šluknov/CZ) and Neustadt; the other (Herzog von Kurland Chevauxlegers and Graf Brühl Chevauxlegers) by Reichenberg (present day Liberec/CZ) and Zittau. Graf Rudnicki Uhlanen came from Brünn (present day Brno/CZ) while Schiebel Uhlanen had arrived earlier.
Daun resolved to attacked Dierecke's isolated detachment. To do so, he recalled Beck's Corps (6,086 men, including 2,221 Grenzers from the Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 1 under Colonel Zetwitz and Warasdiner-Sankt Georger under Colonel Riese) from Zittau. Furthermore, since Dierecke occupied a very advantageous position on the heights of Zaschendorf and Spaar, Daun reinforced Beck's Corps with Pelegrini's 5 bns and 500 carabiniers.
In the night of December 2 to 3, Beck's Corps set off towards Dierecke's positions.
On December 3, FML Beck appeared in front of Dierecke's positions but did not attack immediately. No reinforcement was possible because Dierecke was on the wrong side of the Elbe. Beck finally attacked Dierecke during the Combat of Meissen which lasted until December 4 when Dierecke was forced to surrender along with 1,500 men. After this new defeat, Frederick asked to Ferdinand of Brunswick, commanding the Allied Army, to send him reinforcements. Beck, informed that a Prussian convoy was heading for Torgau, sent General Nauendorf to Marschwitz at the head of 500 Grenzers and 550 line infantry with 3 cannon to intercept it. The same day, the Reichsarmee set off for Franconia to take its winter-quarters.
On December 4, the Reichsarmee took its winter-quarters. It was accompanied by Kleefeld's Light Corps of Grenzers, Banat militia and Slavonier Grenz-Hussars and by Luzinsky's Corps.
On December 6, Nauendorf's detachment burned 22 vessels laden with grain at Riesa on the Elbe.
On December 12, the Elbe froze. Nauendorf, fearing to be cut from Dresden, retired to Grossenhain.
Daun then came out of the Plauen Chasm with some 72,000 men. Frederick II with his 36,000 men formed into line of battle. Daun retired behind the Plauen Chasm again to protect Dresden from recapture. He carted his provision out of Bohemia. Frederick too, waited under arms for six weeks. The whole campaign finally came to an end.
On December 25, an Allied reinforcement of 15 bns and 19 sqns, led by the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, made a junction with Frederick's Army. The Prussian Main Army then took its winter-quarters, and Frederick went to Freiberg.
The Saxon cavalry spent winter near Stolpen in Saxony.
On December 31, fearing a Prussian attack on Dippoldiswalde, Hadik concentrated his corps.
This article is essentially a compilation of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 451-463
- Brabant, Artur: 1759 The Empire at War, Vol. 2, translated, edited & illustrated by Sharman, Lange & Cogswell, plate 122b
- Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 19
- Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 9 Bergen, Berlin, 1911, pp. 226-228
- Jomini, baron de, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, pp. 5, 66-67. 70-71, 76-80, 90-94, 141-148, 156, 164-174, 180-193
- Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, 2. part, Leipzig 1885
- Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 458-481
Salisch, M. von: Treue Deserteure – Das kursächsische Militär und der Siebenjährige Krieg, Munich, 2009
Wengen, F. von: Geschichte des k. k. österreichischen 13. Dragoner-Regimentes Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, Brandeis 1879
Harald Skala for information on the Saxon cavalry during this period