1760 - Siege of Dresden

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Sieges >> 1760 - Siege of Dresden

The siege lasted from July 12 to 29, 1760

Introduction

At the beginning of July, Frederick II had tried to march from Saxony to relieve Silesia. However, field-marshal count Daun had thwarted his plan by moving to Görlitz, thus blocking his line of advance. However, Daun's manoeuvre had left the Reichsarmee and the small Austrian corps under the command of Field-marshal count Lacy isolated. On July 8, Frederick turned his attention on Lacy's corps and vainly tried to engage it. Lacy retired precipitously on Dresden. On July 10, Frederick resolved to besiege the town, judging that the main Austrian army would not have the time to mach back to relieve Dresden before he had captured the town.

Description of the area

Map of the city of Dresden.
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab

Description of events

On July 12, the first line of the Prussian army Prussian reached the abandoned camp of Boxdorf near Dresden and destroyed the entrenched camp previously built by Daun. The second Prussian line, under the command of the duke of Holstein-Gottorp, remained at Weißig about 12 km east of Dresden. Hülsen encamped at Mobschatz on the left bank of the Elbe with a Prussian division to cover the crossing of the river. Frederick planned to cross the Elbe and to march to Dippoldiswalde to force the Reichsarmee to fight or to abandon its camp at Plauen.

In the night of July 12 to 13, the Reichsarmee, after throwing a reinforcement of 10,000 men into Dresden, retired to Dohna where it made a junction with Lacy's corps. Dresden was now defended by a force of 15,000 men under the command of general Macquire.

In the morning of July 13, the Prussian army crossed to the left bank of the Elbe. When Frederick was informed of the retreat of the Reichsarmme to Dohna, he changed his plan and marched on Dresden by Plauen and Leubnitz. Frederick then encamped at Gruna in two lines: one towards Pirna and the other towards Dresden. The same day, the duke of Holstein-Gottorp quitted Weißig and invested Dresden from the right bank of the Elbe. Still the same day, Daun was informed that Frederick had crossed the Elbe and was now advancing on Dresden. The Austrian garrison of Dresden was under the command of general Macquire.

On July 14 at 2:00 AM, Daun sent his Carabiniers Corps towards Dresden and instructed Buccow's corps to march to Dresden from Görlitz. The same day, Frederick summoned Macquire but the latter refused to surrender. The Prussians took posts in the suburbs of Pirna and immediately proceeded to the construction of batteries. During the night, a battery of 8 guns and 2 howitzers was erected in the Mozinsky Garden.

On July 15, Daun encamped near Görlitz with the main Austrian army which he had strengthened with detachments drawn from Bohemia and Silesia.

During the night of July 15 to 16, the first parallel was established in front of the “new town” on the right bank of the Elbe and a battery of 10 guns was erected to bombard the bridge over the Elbe.

By July 18, all Prussian batteries were ready.

The Ruins of the old Kreuzkirche in Dresden after the siege of 1760 - Source: Bernardo Bellotto, 1765 retrieved from Commons Wikimedia

In the morning of July 19, the Prussian batteries opened against Dresden. The same day, Frederick was informed that Daun had now reached Weißig, thus seriously threatening the corps under the duke of Holstein-Gottopr who was isolated on the right bank. Frederick dispatched a regiment to reinforce Holstein. Meanwhile, Grenzer light troops had captured the post of Weissenhirsch. Holstein, fearing a serious engagement with the main Austrian army, immediately crossed the Elbe to make a junction with Frederick. He left only one brigade under general Tettenborn on the right bank to protect the crossing. Tettenborn's brigade was soon attacked frontally by Grenzer troops while other units sallied from the town to attack his rear. Tettenborn was forced to retire after suffering heavy casualties (approximately 700 men). Daun now had a direct line of communication with Dresden.

On July 20, Macquire effected a few sorties. Frederick occupied the heights of Rupchen (unidentified location) and Goppeln with 8 bns and 18 sqns. During the night, the Austrian cavalry surprised some Prussian posts and penetrated the Prussian positions, reaching Frederick's headquarters and nearly capturing him.

On July 21, Daun encamped between Boxdorf and Dresden. He then threw 16 bns into the town.

During the night of July 21 to 22, Austro-Imperial troops (9 bns and 5 sqns) made a sortie against the guards of the trenches, surprising Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry and capturing a battery. Frederick, dissatisfied by Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry, instructed to take away their sabres.

On July 27, realising that he had no chance to obtain the surrender of Dresden, Frederick resolved to raise the siege and started his preparations to do so.

On July 29 at 10:00 PM, the Prussian army retired, leaving the guards of the trenches as a rearguard. Frederick transferred his headquarters from Gruna to Leubnitz.

References

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. 515-516
  • Jomini, baron de, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, pp. 266-270