1761 - Allied campaign in Hesse – Allied offensive

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Introduction

While major powers prepared for diplomatic negotiation, France made a great effort to organise an army of 95,000 men on the Lower Rhine placed under the command of the maréchal de Soubise. This army would besiege Münster, Lippstadt and other places while the duc de Broglie at the head of 55,000 men, starting from the Main would penetrate into Hanover by Göttingen and threaten the communications of the Allies. The Reichsarmee starting from Franconia would operate on the Saale and thus link the right of the French positions with the left of the Austrians. Count Leopold Daun at the head of the Austrian army planned to conquer Saxony. Another Austrian army of 60,000 men under the command of Baron Ernst Gideon Loudon would conduct joint operations with Buturlin's Russian army to besiege the main Silesian places. Finally, another Russian corps would operate with the Swedes in Pomerania and besiege Colberg.

During the campaign of 1760, the Allies had lost ground, especially in Hesse. Consequently, Ferdinand of Brunswick was eager to strike as early as mid-winter in Hesse.

Description

Winter-quarters

The army of the duc de Broglie had taken its winter-quarters between the Fulda and the Werra, in Thuringia and in Saxony up to Gotha where they linked with the positions of the Reichsarmee. The latter army was cantoned between Erfurt and the frontiers of Bohemia. On the Lower Rhine, the Allies had outposts at Gemen, Coesfeld, Dülmen, Haltern and Horneburg while the Hereditary Prince had taken positions at Stadtberg (today Marsberg on the Diemel river), Rhüten and Brilon. Meanwhile, the French under de Muy soon completed their quarters, sending 28 sqns to the Liège Country. De Muy also sent detachments to the right bank of the Rhine to observe the manoeuvres of the Allies.

Throughout January, the French made several attempts against Allied outposts to protect the line of communication with Göttingen which was a very important place in the plan of the French general staff for the coming campaign.

On January 1, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick was at Uslar to plan the future campaign with Ferdinand of Brunswick.

On January 2, the Comte de Broglie and Lieutenent-General de Stainville attacked Duderstadt on the extreme left of the Allied positions, forcing General Mansberg to abandon the town and to retire to the heights of Herbigshagen. Mansberg then awaited the arrival of Generals Kielmansegg and Luckner who had immediately marched to support him.

On January 3, the Allies drove the French out of Duderstasdt and pursued them up to Witzenhausen, the French loosing 600 men during this engagement, the Allies 190 men.

On January 5, the comte de Broglie captured Duderstadt once more. However, the heavy rains of the previous days had delayed his advance and allowed Luckner to abandon his quarters in that town. During this period, the French worked at the fortifications of Göttingen and Kassel.

On January 7, M. de Belzunce set out from Göttingen with 150 horse and 2 grenadier companies (riding pillion).

On January 8, Belzunce surprised and routed an Allied party at Gieboldehausen. He captured 2 Allied outposts and took prisoners the detachments defending these outposts as well as those sent to relieve them, a total of 4 officers and 100 men.

On January 13, the maréchal de Broglie sent a convoy of 6,000 horses and 80 wagons from the Werra, under the comte de Broglie who safely reached Göttingen with provisions and ammunition collected in the areas of Münden and Witzenhausen.

In mid January, French reinforcements were sent to Prince Xavier who was posted at Gotha in Thuringia. French detachments were also sent to the country of Eichsfeld to cut the communications between the Allied and Prussian armies. Meanwhile, Ferdinand detached Major-general Rheden with 4 cavalry regiments from Dorsten to Duderstadt; 4 grenadier battalions to Moringen; and 2 fusilier regiments from Northeim towards Moringen.

On January 23, the maréchal de Broglie was informed that several Allied regiment were taking their winter-quarters.

On January 25 at daybreak, Prince Xavier of Saxony sent forward 4 columns ( 2,500 Saxon foot and 1,800 French horse) from Gotha, under the command of M. de Stainville, who accompanied the rightmost column; to attack the Prussians encamped between Nordhausen and Kindelbrück.

In the night of January 25 to 26, Stainville's first column marched to Kranichborn. The second column, under the command of Georg von Klingenberg (a Saxon maréchal de camp) and Brigadier de Moustiers, marched to Langensalza (today Bad Langensalza).

On January 26 at 3:00 a.m., Stainville's first column passed the Unstrut at Schallenburg. It came to contact with the first Prussian outposts near Kindelbrück and immediately attacked them, capturing about 100 men and an officer. The second column passed the Unstrut at Thamsbrück and launched simultaneous attacks on Ebeleben, Großenehrich and Allmenhausen, driving back the Prussians and pursuing them up to Sondershausen. The French capture forage which was sent to Gotha and Eisenach. During this action they took 600 prisoners (mostly from Frei-Infanterie von Wunsch captured at Ebeleben) including 14 officers. Meanwhile, M. de Vaux, supporting Stainville's attack, repulsed Luckner's attack at Westerode. General Luckner finally managed to pass with 4 bns and 15 sqns. He drove back Prince Xavier, pursued him up to Langensalza, and captured a French magazine at Daiswitz (unidentified location) where he made 2 officers and 30 men prisoners of war. Meanwhile, another French detachment under M. de Maupéou was supposed to advance on Rhüten but its march was stopped by the strongly defended Castle of Kallenhardt.

On the night of January 26 to 27, to support M. de Maupéou, M. de Narbonne marched with a large detachment from Fritzlar to Stadtberg.

On January 27, the French attacked some Allied outposts. M. de Saint-Victor reached Stadtberg where he surprised part of the IV./Légion Britannique commanded by Major Delaune. During the engagement Delaune was killed, 180 of his men made prisoners, and 1 of his guns and all his equipages captured. Saint-Victor then retired unmolested. Meanwhile, M. d'Origny attacked Arnsberg, driving back the Allied outposts at Warstein and Sultrop (unidentified location). M. de Maupéou had attacked another Allied outpost at Rüthen but had been repulsed. The Légion Royale set off from Medebach and Züschen to support Maupéou and to cover his right.

By January 30, Göttingen had received all necessary supplies to last until July 1. M. de Belzunce retired to Duderstadt. The same day, the Prussians retired behind the Saale while Luckner's patrols reached Langensalza and Worbis to cover a convoy arriving from Nordhausen.

The Allied cantonments were very concentrated on both banks of the Lippe, on the left bank of the Diemel and on the Weser up to Paderborn and Osnabrück. Ferdinand was at Uslar.

On the French side, Stainville was in the neighbourhood of Gotha and Langensalza with the right; the Saxons under the comte de Solms were deployed in second line; the right extended from Mühlhausen and Göttingen to the Werra and was covered by the place of Göttingen; the centre extended from the Werra by Fritzlar and along the Eder by Marburg (screened by Turpin Hussards) up to Giessen; the left was deployed along the Sieg up to the Rhine. Meanwhile Soubise was organising and reinforcing his main army in the neighbourhood of Wesel and on the left bank of the Rhine. The French chain of quarters thus went for more than 240 km from Frankfurt north as far as Marburg, then turned east to Ziegenhain, then north again to Kassel, to Münden with its defiles, and southeast to Langensalza. This line had many salients which were as many weaknesses.

Ferdinand of Brunswick soon noticed the bad deployment of the French army in its winter-quarters and resolved to surprise and attack Broglie's winter-quarters. He asked Frederick II to support his left wing in Thuringia.

From February 1, Ferdinand assembled his army and organised it into 3 corps to attack the French centre and compel it to retire behind the Main thus severing the French left from their right. These corps were deployed as follows:

  • rightmost corps, composed of the troops cantoned in Westphalia under the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, between Rüthen and Lippstadt, to attack towards Fritzlar
  • main body on the Diemel in the centre under Ferdinand to march to the Eder, to pass the river and advance on Kassel
  • leftmost corps under Spörcken (Kielmansegg's and Wangenheim's detachments), to march to the Werra and Unstrut, and to make a junction at Duderstadt with the Prussian corps (7,000 men) detached by Frederick from Thuringia under General Syburg to attack the right of the French cantonments placed under the command of the comte de Stainville.

On February 2, Stainville took a new position. Champagne Infanterie and the Volontaires d'Austrasie arrived at Mühlhausen where M. de Boisclaireau took command. Langensalza was occupied by 4 Saxon bns and Stainville's corps was reinforced with the Légion Royale. All the cavalry was placed near Gotha which was occupied by 4 bns. Another detachment of 4 bns occupied Eisenach and the rest of the Saxon contingent was deployed between Eisenach and Langensalza. The same day, General Haddick was at Erfurt with an Austrian corps and Guasco at Egra (today Cheb in the Czech Republic) with another none.

On February 4, General Howard's Allied detachment (10 bns, 12 sqns) arrived in the neighbourhood of Geseke near Paderborn.

Considering the success of all his recent operations, the maréchal de Broglie decided to advance his positions in Thuringia. His first line, under the command of Stainville, now extended from Gotha to Mühlhausen by Gräfentonna, Langensalza and Thamsbrück, with outposts on the Gera from Gispersleben (7 km from Erfurt, occupied by Hadik with an Austro-Imperial army) to Gebesee. His second line, under the command of M. de Solms, extended from the Werra.

In the night of February 6 to 7, M. de Vaux sent 3 detachments (MM. de Belzunce, de Grandmaison and Esterhazy) from Göttingen against the Allied positions. Belzunce marched on the village of Nörten which the Allies abandoned before his arrival, taking refuge into the woods. MM. de Grandmaison et de Castellane took position in the wood of Parensen to support Belzunce. Esterhazy drove the Allies out of the village of Bollensen.

Map of Part of Hesse-Cassel - Source: "History of the British Army" volume II by J. W. Fortescue

Allied attack on the French winter-quarters

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the French armies (Broglie and Contades) on February 9 1761.

By February 9, the Allied army was completely assembled at the assigned points of rendez-vous. The corps of the Hereditary Prince marched to Stadtberg where he divided his force into 2 columns: the first under general Breitenbach marching on Marburg, the second under the Hereditary Prince on Fritzlar. Meanwhile, Gilsa passed the Diemel with an Allied corps at Hofgeismar. Brunswick Hussars and Brunswick Jäger Corps reached Grebenstein and engaged the detachment under the command of M. de Saint-Victor at Hohenkirchen. The French were forced to retire. Finally, Spörcken advanced in 3 columns: a column under Luckner marched on Heiligenstadt (today Heilbad Heiligenstadt), another under Kielmannsegg on Beuren and the last under Wangenheim on Worbis. Broglie was informed that the Allies had concentrated 16,000 men and 30 pieces at Duderstadt and were advancing on Mühlhausen.

On February 10, M. De Saint-Pern marched to Mühlhausen to support the French right and to make a junction with Stainville's corps. Saint-Pern then sent Stainville to occupy the heights of Eingerieden (unidentified location); the Grenadiers de France marched to Katharinenberg and Großburschla; and the 3 rgts of Grenadiers Royaux march to Wanfried to be in a position to reach Eingerieden the following day. In the evening, Stainville reached Bebendorf with 4 Saxon bns. The comte de Solms moved closer to Mühlhausen with the Saxon contingent. Saint-Pern was informed by Boisclaireau that Allied outposts had been established between Beuern (unidentified location) and Dingelstädt and that the were rumours that the Prussians were on the move to join the Allies. The same day, the French corps of Rougé and Narbonne were respectively at Marburg and Fritzlar. Still the same day, the Allied army halted and each general received instructions for the planned operations.

On February 11, Ferdinand passed the Diemel with the main army in 4 columns at Westuffeln:

  • the first column, led by the Marquis of Granby, passed the river over a stone bridge at Warburg
  • the second column, commanded by the Prince von Anhalt, crossed over at another stone bridge downriver
  • the third column, under the command of General Oheimb, marched by the bridge at Liebenau
  • the fourth column, under the orders of General Wutginau, passed over the bridge at Pillam (unidentified location)

Each column was preceded by a vanguard of all the piquets (50 men per battalion and 20 men per squadron) formed into autonomous battalions and squadrons, to secure the head of the cantonments.

Ferdinand's entire army then advanced towards Kassel on the side of the Westuffeln while Gilsa marched from Hofgeismar to Kalle (more probably Calden). Granby established his headquarters at Volkmarsen. The Hereditary Prince marched by Stadtberg to Mengeringhausen, reaching Medebach and forcing the French to retire to Rosenthal. Breitenbach advanced from Brilon to Sande (unidentified location), capturing 100 prisoners in the village of Küstelberg. The same day, Spörcken's corps marched against the French right and encamped at Dingelstädt with divisions manoeuvering as follows: Luckner with the vanguard across the river at Küllstedt, Kielmansegg to Helmsdorf and Wangenheim to Beberstedt. Spörcken reconnoitred the French positions and realised that there were 5,000 French at Mühlhausen, that the entire Saxon contingent occupied the neighbourhood of Langensalza, and that the Grenadiers de France were deployed in order of battle on the heights of Dorne (probably Dörna). Still the same day, Stainville informed the maréchal de Broglie that the defences of Mühlhausen were not yet ready; that he had ordered Boisclaireau to evacuate the town upon the enemy approach; and that he had reconnoitred a very advantageous position between Langensalza and Kammerforst where the three united corps could stop the advance of the Allies. Meanwhile, M. de Belzunce with 3,000 men made a fruitless attempt against the Allied garrison of Duderstadt under the command of Lieutenant-colonel Rehborn. Broglie did not pay enough attention to these initial manoeuvres, thinking that they were only faints. The French army remained in its positions while Saint-Pern marched to Dorla where he made a junction with corps of the comte de Solms.

On February 12, the Hereditary Prince cantoned near Züschen and then marched on Fritzlar with a few battalions, hoping to carry this town by a coup de main. About 3:00 PM, the Hereditary Prince tried to storm two gates of Fritzlar. The town was defended by the I./Narbonne Grenadiers Royaux and piquets of the 7 battalions of the Irish Brigade who repulsed the attack. At 5:00 PM, the Hereditary Prince sent his aide de camp to summon M. de Narbonne to surrender and to propose him a honourable capitulation. Narbonne rejected this offer and the Hereditary Prince personally met him to offer other terms who were rejected as well. The Hereditary Prince then resume his attack until nightfall. The Hereditary Prince resolved to wait for some artillery before renewing his attempt and retired and cantoned between Züschen and Gudensberg, leaving 150 men killed on the field and 2 guns previously captured on the road of Züschen. This initial French success strengthened Broglie in his attitude and he reacted only by tightening his positions near Melsungen. Accordingly, he instructed Stainville to join him with his own corps and M. de Solms to do the same with the Saxon contingent encamped at Langensalza. He also sent M. de Saint-Pern to Dörna and instructed M. de Rougé to hold his position at Marburg . The same day, Spörcken detached his vanguard under Luckner to reconnoitre Saint-Pern's positions. Luckner attacked the French and Swiss grenadiers who had passed the night under arms on the heights of Dörna. They retired in an entrenchment near Eigenrieden from which Luckner was unable to dislodge them. In this affair which lasted 5 hours, the Allies lost 40 men killed and wounded, and the French had 4 officers and 50 men taken prisoners. Meanwhile Lieutenant-general Breitenbach marched to Münchhausen; Gilsa to Dörnberg; Ferdinand to Zierenberg with the main Allied army. The vanguards of each column were united into a single corps and were joined by the grenadiers of the British Guards, Elliot's Light Horse, Baur's Hussars and the jäger brigade of Lindich and Stockhausen. This new corps was placed under the command of Granby who took post at Ehlen and sent forward detachments to the the cascade and Weissenstein.

On February 13, the main Allied army reached the neighbourhood of Niedenstein. Meanwhile, Granby’s new corps marched to Kirchberg and Metze; Gilsa remained at Dörnberg. For his part, the Hereditary Prince cantoned near Haddamar in the neighbourhood of Fritzlar while Breitenbach marched to Ernsthausen, taking possession of a magazine of 40,000 rations at Rosenthal. Meanwhile, Spörcken deployed in order of battle on the Eisberg near Dingelstädt but the French corps opposing him being too strong, he resolved to pass the Unstrut at Silberhausen and Horsmar and then marched on Schlotheim to establish communication with General Syburg arriving from Saxony and now at Merxleben. The same day, M. de Zuckmantel assembled his 3 bns at Ziegenhain (today Schwalmsyadt). Part of the French army assembled near Kassel. Lieutenant-general Maupéou was charged to make a diversion and took position on the Eder; Münden and Witzenhausen were evacuated by their garrisons who took refuge in Kassel. Saint-Pern was instructed to pass the Werra and to make a junction with the French main army. Stainville and Solms remained on the Unstrut. Broglie also asked de Muy to make a diversion by launching the Chasseurs de Fischer against the Marck Country and advancing from Wesel towards Haltern.

On February 14, the main Allied army halted. The Hereditary Prince remained in front of Fritzlar and detached Major-General Zastrow to Felsberg and ordered part of his cavalry to pass the Eder. He also cannonaded Fritzlar to no avail. At 5:00 AM, General Breitenbach attacked two gates of Marburg (Kassel Gate and Saint-Elizabeth Gate) without success. Dillon Infanterie and Bulkeley Infanterie, under the command of Brigadier Lord Drummond, repulsed their attack after 3 hours, supported by Rooth Infanterie and Clare Infanterie.Breitenbach was killed during the action and the Allies lost 3 guns. Oheimb replaced Breitenbach at the head of this corps. Granby advanced towards Gudensberg, forcing the garrison (200 men) to take refuge into the castle. Granby seized some provisions and forage. The same day, Syburg's Prussian corps advanced to the heights of Langensalza, occupied by 3,000 Saxons while Spörcken occupied a village on the left bank of the Unstrut. Syburg, Spörcken and Luckner planned to pass respectively the Unstrut at Merxleben, Thamsbrück and Bollstedt. During the night they repaired the broken bridges over the Unstrut. The same day at 7:00 PM, leaving his brother the Comte de Broglie to command the garrison of Kassel (10 bns), the duc de Broblie marched on Melsungen while Saint-Pern retreated to Friedewald. In Kassel the Comte de Broglie was assisted by M. de Rochechouart; M. de Saint-Victor, lieutenant-colonel of Navarre Infanterie as king's lieutenant; M. d'Hallot as artillery commander; M. Vaublanc, major of Navarre Infanterie, as chief of the new town; M. Durand, major of Belzunce Infanterie, as chief of the lower town; and M. Palys de Montrepos as engineer charged with the defence of the place. The garrison left at Kassel consisted of Navarre Infanterie (4 bns), Belzunce Infanterie (4 bns) and Provence Infanterie (2 bns) for a total of 10 bns.

On February 15, Fritzlar was bombarded once more and M. de Narbonne capitulated with the honours of war under the condition that the garrison (7 piquets from the Irish regiments and 965 men of the Grenadiers Royaux de Narbonne) would not serve during the present campaign. However, this unexpected resistance had delayed the Hereditary Prince for 2 invaluable days. The same day, Stainville received Broglie's orders and marched to join Broglie's main body. Meanwhile, M. de Solms was still uninformed of Broglie's new dispositions. Spörcken passed the Unstrutt at Thamsbrück and Gotters and attacked Solms' Saxon contingent. Syburg's Prussian cavalry passed the river at Merxleben to support Spörcken. Solms deployed in order of battle behind Langensalza, engaged the combat of Langensalza and was defeated and forced to retire, closely followed by the Prussian and Allied cavalries. In this retreat, the Saxons lost 2,000 taken prisoners before managing to make a junction with Stainville's corps near Eisenach. The same day, on the Lower Rhine de Muy sent the Chasseurs de Fischer from the banks of the Ruhr into the Marck County while Castella sent a detachment under M. de Pereuse to Schermbeck. Meanwhile on the Upper Rhine, the Duc de Broglie reached Melsungen and Stainville marched to Gotha to make a junction with the main army.

On February 16, the garrison of Gudensberg capitulated to Granby under similar terms as those conceded to Narbonne at Fritzlar. Oheimb left Wetter and retired to Frankenberg. A French party blocked his advance at Röddenau and prevented him from crossing the Eder. Oheimb stopped and started to repair the bridge of Frankenberg. The French seized this opportunity to retire towards Hallenberg after destroying the bridge of Röddenau. Oheimb immediately ordered part of his cavalry to ford the river and to occupy the heights on the left bank. The same day, the Hereditary Prince passed the Schwalm and advanced on Homberg/Efze. Meanwhile, Spörcken was at Mühlhausen and Gottern; and Syburg at Langensalza. Still the same day, Broglie, informed of the retreat of the Saxon contingent and of the capture of Fritzlar by the Allies, instructed Saint-Pern to accelerate his movement on Friedewald and to Stainville and Solms to do the same on Hünfeld. At night, Broglie left Melsungen with the main army and marched on Hersfeld (Bad Hersfeld) where he remained to allow his isolated detachments on the Werra to retire. Rougé remained at Marburg. On the Lower Rhine, de Muy intensified his diversionary manoeuvres, sending M. de Roquepine to Gahlen and Pereuse to Haltern. On the main theater of operation, the maréchal de Broglie reached Hersfeld and Stainville went to Vacha. The same day General Hardenberg was on the Upper Lippe and the Ruhr and some British regiments took position at Dülmen. Castella recalled de Pereuse to Wesel while Roquepine remained at Gahlen.

Early in the morning of February 17, Broglie reached Hersfeld where he encamped while Saint-Pern retired by Friedewald, The same day, the Hereditary Prince reached the neighbouring of Homberg/Efze while the main Allied army marched from Zierenberg and cantoned along the Eder at Obervorschütz between Fritzlar and Gudensberg, its vanguard taking possession of the pass of Felsberg. Meanwhile, Zastrow took possession of the pass of Niedermöllrich; Oheimb completed the repair of the bridge of Frankenberg; and Allied troops entered into Melsungen where they seized meal and forage. A large part of the Allied army, reinforced by Gilsa's corps, was placed under the command of the Count of Schaumburg-Lippe for the planned siege of Kassel. The same day, Spörcken's vanguard under Luckner attacked Eisenach, taking 40 prisoner and forcing Stainville to retire by Vacha and Solms by Mansbach with his Saxons.

On February 18, the main Allied army passed the Eder at Felsberg and Niedermöllrich and cantoned between the Ahse and the Fulda near Homberg/Efze with Granby's vanguard at Frielendorf towards Ziegenhain (today Schwalmstadt). For his part, Oheimb marched early in the morning to attack M. de Maupéou's corps who was leading a reconnaissance party (Turpin Hussards and some grenadiers) towards Korbach. Oheimb ambushed Maupéou's corps between Sachsenberg and Neukirchen, instantly putting it to flight. M. de Maupéou was captured along with a lieutenant-colonel, 5 officers and 50 soldiers. The same day, Major Scheiter attacked a French detachment near Padberg, dispersed it and took 4 officers and 136 soldiers prisoners. Meanwhile, the Hereditary Prince reached the neighbourhood of Hersfeld.

On February 19, the main Allied army cantoned around Schwarzenborn and Granby's vanguard reached Neukirchen and the French detachments at Obergrenzebach and Niedergrenzebach fell back upon Ziegenhain. Meanwhile, the Hereditary Prince reached Obergeis and pushed detachments on to Gittersdorff. The same day, Luckner’s corps, reinforced with 4 sqns (Veltheim Cavalry and Alt-Bremer Cavalry), attacked the barricaded bridge at Vacha, drove back the defenders and made itself master of the town, forcing Stainville to retire from this town. Meanwhile, the first line of Spörcken's corps marched to Oberellen and Förtha and the second to Eisenach. Broglie now feared for Fulda and concentrated the corps of his right wing at Hünfeld.

In the night of February 19 to 20, Allied patrols reported that fires could be observed at Hersfeld. The French (15 bns) were indeed burning their large magazines in that town.

On February 20, Broglie abandoned his entrenched positions and marched to Hünfeld with the main body of his army. The corps of Saint-Pern, Stainville and Solms also converged on Hünfeld and Mittelaschenbach. In the evening the maréchal de Broglie arrived at Fulda where he met with MM. de Soupire and de Mauclas, arriving from the bishopric of Würzburg with 16 sqns while Rougé remained at Marburg. The same day, Allied troops entered into Hersfeld and managed to save 80,000 sacks of meal, 50,000 sacks of oat and a million rations of forage. Meanwhile, the first line of Spörcken's corps marched to Heringen/Werra and Kieselbach and the second to Fernbreitenbach. Still the same day, Syburg’s Prussian corps marched to Gotha to observe the Reichsarmee re-assembled at Arnstadt.

On February 21, the main Allied army reached Hausen; the brigade of the British Guards joined Granby’s advanced corps; and the Hereditary Prince reached Nierderaula. Meanwhile Spörcken's first line marched to Friedewald and Lengers, passing the Werra at Vacha and Lengers; Spörcken's second line marched to Heringen and Vacha. Luckner passed the Werra at Vacha and reached Mansbach. The same day, the maréchal de Broglie remained at Fulda. Stainville’s corps retreated by Mansbach to Fulda, suffering many desertions. A French brigade also took position at Gelnhausen and Rougé remained at Marburg. At nightfall, Broglie sent Saint-Pern, Solms and Stainville to Hersfeld to destroy the magazines accumulated there.

On February 22, Granby marched to Treysa, forcing a French detachment (700 men) under M. de Zuckmantel to retire to Ziegenhain which was immediately blockaded. Oheimb advanced to Kirchhain where he was placed under the command of Granby. The Prince of Lippe-Bückeburg established his corps (22 bns and 3 cavalry rgts) before Kassel. The same day, the main Allied army made a junction with Spörcken's corps at Hersfeld while Luckner reached Hünfeld and the Hereditary Prince, marching on the left bank of the Schwalm, arrived at Schlitz. Still the same day, the Saxon contingent reached Neuhof near Fulda.

On February 23, the main Allied army marched to Grebenau while Granby advanced on Kirchhain, pushing patrols towards Homberg/Ohm. The corps of the Hereditary Prince at Schlitz was reinforced by a few rgts from Spörcken's corps. Meanwhile, Spörcken detached Major-general Scheele to reinforce the Prince of Lippe-Bückeburg who was taking dispositions to lay siege to Kassel which was defended by the Comte de Broglie with 17 bns and the Volontaires de Saint-Victor. The same day, the French army destroyed its magazines at Fulda and marched to Weidenau. A French corps (24 bns, 16 sqns and some light troops) retired through the Kinzig Valley. Meanwhile, a detachment of the French garrison of Göttingen advanced on Northeim where it levied contributions. Another detachment of the same garrison made itself master of Duderstadt, capturing 200 Hanoverian prisoners. Still the same day, M. de Chevert arrived at Düsseldorf to replace M. de Muy who had to assume the command of the Army of the Upper Rhine during the absence of the maréchal de Broglie called to Versailles.

On February 24, Major-general Schlutter of the Hessian artillery relieved Granby in the blockade of Ziegenhain. Granby then marched to Kirchhain and summoned the castle of Amöneburg whose garrison (2 officers and 50 men of the Irish brigade) surrendered as prisoners. Allied hussars reached Homberg/Ohm. The Hereditary Prince detached Luckner from Schlitz to Fulda where he made more than 300 prisoners and seized a considerable magazine of flour and oats before the French had time to destroy it. The same day, now facing Syburg's corps, the Reichsarmee retired precipitately from the neighbourhood of Gotha and marched towards Bamberg. Meanwhile, the French army continued its retreat up to Birstein. In the morning, fearing to be isolated at Marburg, Rougé retired to Giessen, leaving only a garrison in Marburg. In the evening a skirmish took place near Fryenhagen between a detachment of the French garrison of Waldeck and an Allied party protecting a convoy. The French managed to capture 30 horses and two wagons. On the Lower Rhine, French troops were in motion with the apparent intention of attacking Münster.

On February 25, reinforced by part of Spörcken's corps, the Hereditary Prince advanced to Lauterbach. The rest of Spörcken's corps joined the main army. The same day, bad weather interrupted the retreat of the French army who rested at Birstein while Stainville occupied Büdingen and Salmünster; Solms marched to Gelnhausen with the Saxon contingent; Rougé reached Butzbach; and the Légion Royale, Steinau.

On February 26, Broglie's main army cantoned along the Main with its headquarters at Langendiebach with his left at Büdingen and his right at Gelnhausen while Rougé marched to Friedberg where he burnt a large magazine.

During its retreat, the French army repeatedly had to abandon or destroy a very large quantity of supply. The same day, the main Allied army marched to Alsfeld, taking its cantonments on the Ohm with headquarters at Schweinsberg. The Heredidary Prince was covering the left at Lauterbach; lord Granby and Oheimb with the vanguard at Schröck and Heskem between the Ohm and Lahn to make a junction with an Allied corps who had recently captured Sachsenberg; Lückner on the Kitzingerbach; and Kielmansegg at Laubach. The French garrison of Marburg retired to the castle, abandoning the town which was taken possession of by 4 Hessian bns. In the area of Kassel, Lieutenant-colonel Stockhausen made 60 French prisoners in a skirmish near Kaufungen. During this time on the Lower Rhine, Soubise was still in the area of Wesel. For his part, de Muy assembled 12,000 men (400 men from each bn and 150 men from each cavalry rgt). The first division arrived the same day at Cologne.

Order of Battle
Detailed OOB of de Muy's French corps in February 1761.

From February 26, the Allied army gradually concentrated between the rivers Schwalm and Ohm. Ferdinand established his headquarters at Schweinsberg.

On February 27, the Maréchal de Broglie established his headquarters at Friedberg and constituted a corps of 12 bns, 2 cavalry brigades and Du Roy Dragons to occupy the gap between Gelnhausen and Büdingen and to support the cordon of light troops established at Hungen, Nidda, Ortenberg, Wenings, Birstein and Salmünster.

On February 28, the Maréchal de Broglie established his headquarters at Vilbel and Bergen where he fortified his camp. Meanwhile, as ordered by the Maréchal de Broglie, a third division under M. de Roquepine marched from Hagen towards Limburg an der Lahn.

In March, the subsidy contract to maintain the Saxon Contingent in French pay was renewed.

On March 1, despite the flooding of several rivers, de Muy's first division left Cologne and reached Bonn while his second division arrived in Cologne. Meanwhile, Roquepine's column reached Breckerfeld. Meanwhile, Broglie established his headquarters at Vilbel (today Bad Vilbel), on the high road between Frankfurt and Friedberg. The same day at night, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg opened the trenches in front of Kassel, defended by the Comte de Broglie. Other Allied detachments laid siege to several places in Hesse: Granby to Marburg; and Schlutter to Ziegenhain. Meanwhile, the main Allied army cantoned behind the Ohm with the Hereditary Prince covering its left flank at Lauterbach; and Kielmansegg covering the front from Laubach. The Hereditary Prince dislodged a French party from Büdingen and Luckner made himself master of Aschaffenburg.

Ferdinand had, for the moment, driven the French from Hesse but still had Kassel, Ziegenhain, and Marburg, invested indeed but untaken, behind him.

In the night of March 1 to 2, the Maréchal de Broglie ordered the corps of M. de Schomberg, who had been attacked, to move to Usingen, closer to his own position. Broglie also instructed the Saxons and the troops under M. de Saint-Chamans to march back.

On March 2, Major-general Schlutter took possession of Weikhaus, a suburb of Ziegenhain. In this action, the French lost 30 men killed and wounded, and 2 officers and 56 privates taken prisoners; the Allies lost 6 men killed and 16 wounded. Zuckmantel, the French commander of Ziegenhain fired from the fortress on the suburbs and the Allies retired in their former camp. Major Scheiter stormed Battenberg, capturing 1 lieutenant-colonel, 1 captain, 4 NCOs and 250 Swiss, with 10 hussars and 4 pieces. The same day, de Muy's first division reached Sinzig while, Roquepine's column reached Meinerzhagen. During this time, M. de Rougé was still posted at Friedberg; M. de Valence occupied Usingen; M. d'Origny was at Weilburg to cover the march of the troops arriving from the Lower Rhine. M. de Saint-Pern being sick, his troops joined those of M. de Stainville; and M. de Vignolles, having been attacked at Hungen, retired to Berstadt on the Wetter. Meanwhile at Kassel, the Comte de Broglie made a sally but was repulsed with heavy loss. On the Lower Rhine, General Hardenberg took post at Stadtberg with an Allied corps.

On March 3, de Muy's first division reached Andernach near Koblenz while his second division left Cologne for Hachenburg, reaching Bonn. Meanwhile, Roquepine's column reached Drolshagen.

In the night of March 3 to 4, the Allies vainly tried to establish themselves before Ziegenhain.

On March 4, de Muy's second division reached Sinzig while Roquepine's column reached Siegen.

On March 5, de Muy's first division reached Montabaur while his second division reached Andernach. Meanwhile, Roquepine's column reached Westerburg.

On March 6, de Muy's first division reached Limburg an der Lahn while Roquepine's column reached Hundsangen. The same day, the Allies sent 3 columns from Berstadt (2 on the right bank of the Horloff and a third on the left bank) towards Echzell, forcing M. Delva to retire on Nieder-Florstadt and Wickstadt.

On March 7 at 8:00 AM, the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince along with French dragoons under the command of M. Delva were attacked at the bridge of Wickstadt by Allied troops belonging to Kielmansegg's corps and forced to retire on Bruchenbrücken, leaving outposts on the left bank of the Wetter. The same day, de Muy's second division reached Montabaur while Roquepine's column reached Oberhadamar near Limburg. The same day, at Kassel, the French garrison made a successful sally, capturing 4 mortars and nailing up 1 cannon of the sole battery already established, burning ammunition and filling up the first parallel. Finally, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg at the head of the Hessian Garde and Wangenheim’s grenadiers drove them back. The same day, the Allies opened the trenches against the fortress of Ziegenhain.

Continuation

The last phase of the campaign is described in the following article:

  • French counter-offensive (March 8 to April 1, 1761) describing the arrival of French reinforcements from the Lower-Rhine, the French counter-offensive, the combat of Grünberg, the relief of Kassel and the Allied retreat.

References

This article is essentially a compilation of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Carlyle, T.; History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Vol. 20
  • Fortescue, J. W.; A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 522-524
  • 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. 185-203
  • Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 4ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 2-78
  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. V, Paris, 1891, pp. 125-168
  • 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