1760-09-17 - Combat of Hochgiersdorf

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Battles >> 1760-09-17 - Combat of Hochgiersdorf

Prussian victory

Prelude to the Battle

On September 17 at 4:30 AM, Frederick, seeing that his attempt to reach Landeshut was made impossible by the new positions taken by the Austrians, marched from Alt Reichenau (today Stare Bogaczowice) towards Schweidnitz (today Swidnica). The march was made in silence in 4 columns (see order of battle for details).

The Prussians columns marched by Hochenfriedeberg (today Dobromierz), Simsdorf (today Szymanów), Ullersdorf (today Modlęcin), Zirlau (today Ciernie) to Kunzendorf (today Mokrzeszów). Another column consisting of the baggage and train moved by Neu Ullersdorf (today Wólka) and Nonnenbuch to Schonbrunn (today Słotwina). King Frederick planned to deploy his army against the Austrian right wing.

In the morning, Zieten Hussars engaged Beck's cavalry posts at Hohenfriedeberg. Zieten took 1 major, 2 officers and 21 dragoons prisoners. The Austrian cavalry detachment escaped and informed the general-in-chief, fieldmarshal Daun of the Prussian advance. Daun immediately ordered to prepare the army and Beck opened heavy artillery from the hills north to Moehnersdorf (today Jaskulin). However, his artillery had no effect because Prussians columns were covered by a fog.

When the fog lifted, the Prussians were near Zirlau. Prussians cavalry trotted to the Hohengelande hill east of Kunzendorf to the north of the road leading to Schweidnitz. Seeing this, Prince Löwenstein, who was commanding this wing, sent against this hill his 25-29 converged squadrons of horse grenadiers and carabiniers along with infantry regiments Tillier and Bayreuth. Zieten Hussars galloped and were the first to reach the hill. They were closely followed by Bayreuth Dragoons and Normann Dragoons. Grenzer troops were deployed in the village of Kunzendorf to cover the arrival of d'Ayasasa at the head of an Austrian cavalry corps. Prussian dragoons drove the Grenzers out of the village while the Prussian hussars charged the Austrian heavy cavalry. Meanwhile, other Prussian cavalry units had engaged the Austrian infantry led by general Bibow who was trying to seize control of the Hohengelande hill. When he saw Prussian infantry taking position, d'Ayasasa ordered his cavalry to retire to Milikowice. Additional Austrian cavalry units moved to Bogendorf (today Witoszów).

Fieldmarschal Daun, seeing the Prussian successfully advancing on Kunzendorf, pushed Loudon's army to Freiburg (today Świebodzice) while the rest of the main Austrian army was ordered to change front to oppose the Prussians. Daun also ordered his heavy artillery to deploy on the hills between Freiburg, Frochlichsdorf, Simsdorf and Zirlau. By then, the Austrian left wing was at Freiburg and its right at Bogendorf.

King Frederick soon realised that his line of advance was now blocked by strong forces and that there was no way to assault them without heavy losses. Accordingly, he resolved to take possession of the hill at Hochgiersdorf (today Modliszów). He left regiment Prinz von Preußen at Zirlau with one battery of heavy guns and ordered his Arrière-garde to cover his movement.

The Austrian corps of General Ried (3,290 men) had been deployed at Ober Arnsdorf, in front of Schweidnitz.

Map

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Description of Events

On September 17, Ried, stationed at Ober Arnsdorf, received orders to move to Zedlitz (today Pasieczna) between Stanowitz (today Stanowice) and Jauernick (today Jaworów). While Ried was manoeuvring to his new positions, the Prussian avant-garde appeared. Ried advanced Szechényi Hussars and Stabsdragoner to occupy a hill to the south south of Bogendorf to buy enough time for his infantry to march.

The only open road to that hill was between Hochgiersdorf and Burkersdorf (today Burkatów), so Frederick decided to advance his army into this direction. During the march of his columns, they clashed one more with d'Ayasasa's cavalry. The Austrian cavalry seized this opportunity and charged into a gap between the Prussian brigades only defended by Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry. The Austrians broke and routed a battalion and came to contact with field artillery, killing crews and horses.

However, d'Ayasasa's initial success soon turned into a catastrophe when other Prussian battalions assaulted the Austrian cavalry at the point of the bayonet while another Prussian battery opened at close range. Seydlitz Cuirassiers and Prinz Heinrich Cuirassiers drove back the Austrian cavalry and forced it to retreat. Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry lost 42 men and one battalion gun. Prussian total losses were less than 100 men while the Austrians left 100 men on the field and had 4 officers and 112 privates taken prisoners. Nevertheless, the Prussians were unable to capture the Austrian battery which had been pounding on their positions.

During this time, the Prussian avant-garde reached Bogendorf. II./Prinz Heinrich Fusiliers took position in the forest, 1,000 meters from Hochgiersdorf; Jung Braunschweig Fusiliers stood to its right in the forest; and I./Prinz Heinrich Fusiliers deployed at the edge of the forest. Other Prussian infantry battalions were sent against a village to the south of the Hochgiersdorf hill where some Grenzer troops and hussars had taken position.

The hill of Hochgiersdorf was occupied by Jung-Colloredo Infantry and 3 to 6 grenadier battalions under the command of General Ferrari who also had 15 guns and 2 howitzers. The Prussian attacked the hill thrice. The first assault was conducted from the front and right wing by I./Prinz Heinrich Fusiliers who, without support of regimental guns, were forced to fall back. Then I./Jung Braunschweig Fusiliers launched a second attack from the right wing and managed to push a wedge into the Grenzer troops defending the village, before being forced to retire. Finally, II./Kleist Infantry along with II./Prinz Heinrich Fusiliers and II./Jung Braunschweig Fusiliers, supported by 4 horse artillery pieces, made a final successful assault. Ferrari retreated, leaving all of his guns and about 300 soldiers in the hands of the Prussians.

Outcome

In this combat, the Prussians lost 11 officers and 482 privates killed and wounded (Tempelhoff gives 18 officers and 964 men killed, wounded and missing). Austrians losses are unknown but Tagenbuch Thielow gives 215 men killed and 3 officers and 200 men captured.

After the combat, the Prussians remained on the battlefield:

Daun took positions between Seitendorf and Kunzendorf; Loudon was in Wallenburg Reusendorf (today Rusinowa); Lacy marched to Langenwaltersdorf (today Unisław Śląski); and Brentano to Tannhausen (today Jedlinka).

Despite his tactical victory, Frederick had been unable to open communication with Schweidnitz.

Order of Battle

Austrian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Fieldmarshal Count Leopold Daun

Corps under Major-general Ried at Ober Arnsdorf, in front of Schweidnitz (3,290 men)

Corps under Count Franz Moritz Lacy (11,850 foot, 6,300 horse)

Main Army under Fieldmarshal Count Leopold Daun (some 26,750 men)

Reserve Corps (come 7,150 men) under General of cavalry Fürst Löwenstein

Corps (6,770 men) under Feldmarschalllieutnant Baron von Beck

Corps (24,450 foot, 8,200 horse) under Feldzugmeister Baron von Loudon

Detached from Loudon's corps:

Corps (2,400 foot, 300 horse) under Major-general Jahnus

Corps (850 foot and 750 horse under Major-general von Bethlen

In Glatz (5,390 men) under Feldmarschalllieutnant Count Draskowitz

Prussian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Frederick II

Avant-garde under Lieutenant-general von Forcade

The four columns

Main Column Second Column Third Column Fourth Column
under General of Infantry Margraf Karl under Lieutenant-general Graf zu Wied under Lieutenant-general Prinz von Holstein under Major-general von Tettenborn

Arrière-garde under General of Cavalry Zieten

under Major-general von Meinicke under Major-general von Alt Stutterheim under Major-general von Syburg

DR1 Normann (5 sqns)
HR3 Möhring (10 sqns)

References

Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. ("Neues Generalstabswerk"),Vol. 13 Torgau, Berlin 1914.

Grosser Generalstab, Geschichte des siebenjährigen Krieges: In einer Reihe von Vorlesungen, mit Benutzung authentischer Quellen, bearbeitet von den Offizieren des Großen Generalstabs. ("Altes Generalstabswerk") Vol. 4 Der Feldzug von 1760, Berlin 1834.

Jany, Curt: Geschichte der Königlich Preußischen Armee bis zum Jahre 1807

Tempelhof, Georg Friedrich von, Geschichte des siebenjährigen Krieges in Deutschland zwischen dem Könige von Preussen und der Kaiserin Königin mit ihren Alliirten als eine Fortsetzung der Geschichte Lloyd, J. F. Unger, Berlin, 1783-1801, Part 4 (1760).

Acknowledgments

Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for the initial version of this article