1760 - French campaign in West Germany – Winter operations

From Project Seven Years War
Jump to: navigation, search

Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1760 - French campaign in West Germany >> Winter operations

The campaign lasted from May to December 1760. This article describes the first phase of the campaign from January 1 to April 28, 1760.

Introduction

Great Britain, who showed an initial interest to negotiate a peace settlement, soon considered that the price involved was too high. Consequently, the parliament voted 15 million ₤ for the conduct of the war (nearly 7 million for the army, 4 million for the navy and more than 4 million for various other expenses). It also resumed its subsidies to the Allied Army operating in western Germany under the command of Ferdinand of Brunswick, bringing the total strength of this army to more than 70,000 men.

On the French side, the Armée d'Allemagne, placed under the command of the Duc de Broglie, counted 80,000 men with its headquarters at Frankfurt, while the Army of the Lower Rhine under the command of the Comte de Saint-Germain totalled some 30,000 men and Prince Xavier, Comte de Lusace commanded a Reserve of 15,000 men.

In January, Great Britain decided to send 3 additional regiments of cavalry to Germany and, a few weeks later, the number was increased to 5.

Last operations before taking winter-quarters

On January 1 1760, the Allied General Imhoff sent detachment through the Country of Berg, one of them reaching Kaiserswerth where it destroyed a French magazine. The same day, Broglie retired to Friedberg while deploying strong corps on the Allied flanks. He instructed the Marquis de Voyer to make a junction with M. de Vogüé at Mengerskirchen. Vogüé then cantoned his infantry at Neunkirchen and his cavalry at Langendernbach. Voyer put his right in cantonments at Emmerichenhain (present-day Rennerod) and his left at Zehnzen (maybe Zehnhausen bei Rennerod), sending Fischer at Sechshelden and Norman with his hussars and some infantry towards Herborn.

On January 2, Ferdinand of Brunswick sent the heavy baggage of the Allied Army towards Marburg. The same day, Broglie sent the Légion Royale towards Weilburg. Voyer deployed Vogüé's Corps in front of Herborn. The dragoons and the Chasseurs de Fischer were at Dillenburg. In the Valley of the Sieg, the Chevalier de Muy left Siegberg (maybe Sieg) and marched towards Hachenburg.

On January 3 in the morning, M. de Voyer gave order to the Marquis de Vogüé to attack the town of Herborn, an advanced post of Wangenheim's Corps, where he took 100 prisoners. The Picardie and La Tour-du-Pin brigades cantoned in the village for the night while Waldner Brigade and the Chasseurs de Fischer captured the town of Dillenburg. Meanwhile, the Légion Royale arrived at Greifenstein and sent an advanced party to Merenberg. The Légion Royale was charged to cover Voyer's right flank from Greifenstein up to the mouth of the Dill on the Lahn. Champagne Brigade (8 bns) took position at Weilburg and Piémont Brigade at Weilmünster. The same day, the Chevalier de Muy arrived at Hachenburg. Meanwhile, the Duke of Württemberg (in the French service) had moved on Laubach, Closen on Grossbrusck (maybe Grossbuseck) and Mainzlar. M. de Blaisel made a demonstration with a considerable column by Giessen towards Heuchelheim.The same day, Ferdinand sent his artillery towards Marburg.

On January 4, the Allied Army marched towards Marburg. Broglie then instructed the Chevalier de Muy to secure the Lower Rhine.

On January 5, Ferdinand followed his army with the rearguard, closely followed by M. de Voyer, and established his headquarters at Marburg with an advanced guard in front of Dillenburg. Voyer immediately signalled that the retreat of the Allies had been interrupted and de Muy stopped his movement at Cologne. Broglie went to Giessen to personally judge of the situation. The Württemberger Contingent marched from Laubach to Grünberg, advancing on Homberg on the Ohm.

On January 6, M. de Saint-Germain advanced on Staufenberg with his light troops, chasseurs and infantry along with 4 dragoon rgts; while Closen marched to Kirchhain with his cavalry and his light troops; and M. de Vaire with his volunteers and light troops followed the left bank of the Lahn up to 4 km of Marburg. Furthermore, a detachment of infantry and mounted light troops followed the right bank of the Lahn up to Oberwalgern. The Allied forces along the Dyle had retired during the night and the French light troops, who had passed the river, made only a few prisoners at Rodenhausen and then marched to Hohensolms. Conflans and Fischer followed the Allied rearguard up to Günterod and Oberweidbach while Nortman followed up Wangenheim's Corps who stopped at Rossbach. Nortman established himself at Altenkirchen.

On January 7 at 1:00 a.m., Ferdinand marched out of his camp of Marburg to relieve the Castle of Dillenburg. In the evening, he managed to force the town and to throw provisions into the castle. In this action, the Allies took 700 privates and 40 officers prisoners and captured 7 pairs of colours and 2 cannon. In reaction, M. de Voyer then marched by Weilmünster to Limburg an der Lahn and Weilburg to support French troops who had reached the Dill. Meanwhile the Württemberger Contingent launched incursions into Hesse by Romrod and Alsfeldt up to Ziegenhain (present-day Schwalmstadt). The same day, the 87th Keith's Highlanders supported by Luckner's Hussars attacked Beaufremont Dragons in the village of Eyesbach (probably Egelsbach or Esbach). The French dragoons were completely taken by surprise and the Allies took 80 prisoners along with 200 horses and all their baggage. This action completely compromised French plans.

On January 8, M. de Saint-Germain advanced against the Allied left with the French grenadiers supported by some dragoons and 8 bns. The Prince of Holstein led the Allied grenadiers supported by some dragoons and 4 bns to meet this threat. An engagement took place near Ebsdorf. The French corps retired precipitously to Nordeck and the Allied hussars took 7 officers and 50 men prisoners. Furthermore, Voyer was forced to retire on Driedorf, canton at Mengerskirchen and ask de Muy to advance on the Heights of Höhn between Hachenburg and Mengerskirchen. When Broglie was informed of the capture of Dillenburg by the Allies, he thought that Ferdinand might try to pass the Dill. Accordingly, he instructed his various corps to remain close to Dillenburg. Broglie also instructed de Muy to redirect his march towards the Lower Rhine as soon as Voyer would confirm that the Allies were not marching against him.

On January 9, Wangenheim threw Allied troops into Dillenburg and Herborn while Allied light troops advanced on Haiger and Siegen.

On January 12, Voyer sent Nortman's Division from Hohenroth to Bilstein, and hussars and 2 bns to reconnoitre the Lower Dill. Boglie ordered Saint-Germain to retire towards his winter-quarters.

On January 13, Voyer's Corps marched to Hachenburg where he replaced the Chevalier de Muy's Corps who went to Altenkirchen then to Düsseldorf and Cologne. The same day, Vogüé's Corps marched from Mengerskirchen to Weilburg to take its winter-quarters on the Lahn. Meanwhile, the grenadiers and light troops of the French main body quitted Staufenberg and Lollar and took position at Butzbach and Giessen. The rest of the French troops then took their winter-quarters on the Lahn, Main and Neckar.

On January 16, Broglie arrived at Frankfurt where he established his headquarters. Saint-Germain took command of the right wing from Aschaffenburg; Vogüé on the Lahn from Limburg; Voyer returned to France; Prince Xavier went to Württemberg with his Saxons; and the Württemberger Contingent took position on the Main and Tauber between the Saxons and the right wing of the French army.

The Saxon grenadier were converged in 2 bns under the command of Colonel Lecoq. The first battalion was formed with 2 coys of the Gardes du Corps and 3 coys of Leibgarde; the second, with from 2 cavalry coy, 1 coy of Kurprinzessin, 1 coy of Prinz Friedrich August and 1 coy of Prinz Xaver. These 2 bns formed the garrison of Offenbach. Prince Xavier then went again to Paris where he negotiated the renewal of the subsidy contract allowing to maintain the Saxon Contingent. The heavy losses incurred during the preceding campaign were compensated with new recruits raised in Saxony by Colonel Carlsburg and Major Eberstein. Therefore, most soldiers of the contingent were still native Saxons. Most Saxon soldiers wished to fight against Prussia for their Elector in Saxony and service with the French army was gradually becoming less popular. Sometimes recruits were refusing to join the French armies.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Allied army at the end of January 1760

Detailed order of battle of the French army at the end of January 1760

On January 19, the Allied troops began their march to their respective winter-quarters. They established advanced posts at Dillenburg, Homberg on the Ohm, Marburg and Hatzfeld under the command of Luckner. In the Lower Rhine, Scheiter held Coesfeld while Dülmen and Dortmund where occupied by regular Allied units. Furthermore, Bückeburg troops occupied Haltern. The Prince of Holstein held the Upper Roer from Mülheim and Ferdinand established his headquarters at Paderborn. The Hanoverians under the command of General Spörcken (14,000 men) occupied the County of Marck and the Bishopric of Münster. The British held the Bishopric of Osnabrück. The Hessians and Brunswickers (a total of about 10,000) were stationed in Hessen.

By January 20, all of Broglie's Army had reached their assigned quarters.

Sporadic operations while in winter-quarters

On January 20, a detachment of the Württemberger Contingent advanced on Hirschfeld to destroy an Allied magazine but it interrupted its march and retired when it was informed that an Allied corps was pursuing it.

By January 27, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, who in December had marched to Saxony with an Allied corps to reinforce the Prussian Army, had taken his cantons between Freiberg and Chemnitz while Ferdinand maintained his headquarters at Freiberg in Saxony.

On January 28, the Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel died.

On January 29, the British Contingent arrived at its winter-quarters at Osnabrück.

On February 2, an Allied party attacked and drove back French advanced posts at Hachberg, Wallenrod and Altenkirchen (unidentified location). Scheiter captured 2 newly raised coys of a regiment of the Reichsarmee.

On February 12, Ferdinand made a junction with the forces of the Hereditary Prince at Chemnitz. He then marched towards Hesse.

On February 18, Ferdinand arrived at Wanfried where he left part of his corps before advancing towards the Country of Schmalkalden.

On February 29, the Hereditary Prince arrived at Paderborn.

By March, the Saxon Contingentconsisted of 9,867 men and 24 guns.

On March 1, a French detachment (about 4,500 men) made a demonstration against the Allied corps cantoned in Hesse; one body marching by Gießen to Marburg and temporarily seizing the town; other bodies appearing in front of Homberg-Ohm, Alsfeld and Herzberg (maybe Breitenbach am Herzberg).

On March 14, an Allied detachment under the command of Gilsa reached Hersfeld, in an attempt to contain French advance in the Country of Fulda.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the French army in mid March 1760.

On March 15, Gilsa's detachment marched to Schlitz, forcing a party of Volontaires under M. de Noue de Vair to retire to Salmünster.

On March 17, Luckner with Allied jägers entered into Fulda where he was soon joined by Gilsa. Meanwhile, an Allied column of 20,000 men advanced through Vogelsberg towards Friedberg while a second column of 10,000 men marched from Schlitz by Eichenau.

On March 18, seeing the head of the Allied vanguards appeared in front of Hosenfeld, M. de Vair retired to Neuhof where he arrived at the same time as Allied light troops. After a brisk skirmish, de Vair retired on Salmünster and Steinau.

On March 19, informed that a French party had taken position on the heights between Fulda and Neuhof, Luckner marched towards Neuhof, attacked and dislodged the French force which retired to Schlüchtern. Gilsa then returned to Fulda. On their approach the Württemberger detachment abandoned Brückenau (present-day Bad Brückenau) and retired to Rieneck. Informed of the attack at Neuhof, Broglie caused the générale to be beat. Uncertain of the general direction of the Allied advance, he ordered his army to concentrate within a day march from Frankfurt. He also organised an expedition in the Kinzig Valley to prevent the Allies from marching to the Main River. Broglie also instructed the Comte de Solms to assemble part of the Saxon Contingent at Schweinfurt with another large detachment at Kissingen (present-day Bad Kissingen) on the Saale. Furthermore, Broglie ordered to M. de Wolf, the commander of the Württemberger Contingent, to assemble them at Gemünden on the left bank fo the Main and to push detachment at Rieneck, Hammelburg and towards Brückenau to support the dragoons and hussars occupying these quarters. Broglie also sent 16 sqns to reinforce the Saxon and Württemberger contingents. When he learned that the Allies had retired, he recalled his detachments.

On March 21, Broglie sent Rochambeau to Gelnhausen. The same day, the Allies evacuated Schlüchtern and Steinau and retired on Fulda, closely followed by M. de Vair.

On March 22, de Vair was forced to abandoned Steinau. The Hereditary Prince was pushing two columns forward: one by Vacha, Geisa, Tann and Kaltennordheim; the other by Eisenach, Salzungen (present-day Bad Salzungen), Wasungen and Meiningen.

On March 24, another large French detachment, under the command of the Prince de Robecq, left Hanau and advanced into the Kinzig Valley while the Württemberger Contingent occupied Brückenau. The same day, the Allied rearguard left Fulda.

On March 28, after the Allied retreat, the various French corps returned to their initial positions: M. de Vair towards Herbstein and Crainfeld; the Légion Royale in the Bailiwicks of Schwarzenfels, Brandenstein and Brückenau; the Württemberger Contingent towards Neustadt and Bischofsheim an der Rhön; a dragoon rgt at Gelnhausen and Wächtersbach.

Broglie then ordered to part of the Würtemberger Contingent to deploy along the Main from Gemünden to Kitzingen and to the other part to deploy on the right bank between Gemünden and Schweinfurth. He also ordered to the Saxon Contingent to repass the Saale.

In April at Saalfeld, 300 Saxon recruits on their way, under the command of Major Eberstein, to join the Saxon Contingent mutinied. They were willing to serve their country and their Elector but not to serve in the French armies.

On April 1, Imhoff marched to Ziegenhain with a brigade to be in a position to support Marburg.

On April 10, the Allied Army made movements on the Upper Fulda and the Upper Werra. Broglie immediately sent the grenadiers and chasseurs of 3 infantry brigades and some artillery, all under M. de Boisclaireau, to support the French force deployed in the Kinzig Valley.

On April 28, M. de Vair (Apchon Dragons and some volunteers) launched an attack on Vacha on the frontiers of Hesse, forcing the Allied force (2 coys of Freytag Foot Jägers, 1 coy of Freytag Horse Jägers, 1 sqn of Black Hussars) under the command of Colonel Freytag to abandon the town. Freytag then took position on a neighbouring rising ground to delay the French while Allied reinforcements (2 grenadier bns) were sent to his support. Upon arrival of these reinforcements, the French force retired pursued by the Allies beyond Geisa. In this affair, the Allies lost 30 men killed or wounded and the French 120 men.

Continuation

The other phases of the campaign are described in the following articles:

  • Campaign till the combat of Korbach (April 29 to July 10, 1760) describing the French manoeuvres to make a junction of their two armies and the combat of Corbach.
  • French offensive in Hesse (July 11 to September 21, 1760) describing the French offensive in Hesse and the battle of Warburg.
  • Allied offensive on the Lower Rhine (September 22 to October 22, 1760) describing the Allied attempt against Wesel, the French manoeuvres to relieve the fortress, the battle of Clostercamp and the Allied retreat.
  • End of the campaign (October 22 to December 31, 1760) describing the Allied defensive measures, the French maoeuvres and the Allied attempt against Göttingen.

References

This series of articles is 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. 521-528, 531-534
  • Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 501-519
  • Hotham (probably): 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, pp. 137-184
  • Jomini, baron de: Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, pp. 221-240
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. V, Paris, 1891, pp. 2-114
  • Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, 2. part, Leipzig 1885

Other sources

Salisch, M. von: Treue Deserteure – Das kursächsische Militär und der Siebenjährige Krieg, Munich, 2009

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for information on the Saxon Army during this period