1761 - Austrian campaign in Saxony

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The campaign lasted from May to December 1761

Description

In 1761, Prince Henri commanded the Prussian Army of Saxony (32,000 men). On the Austrian side, Field-marshal Daun was ordered to do nothing rash in Saxony but to cover Loudon's operations in Silesia and to reinforce him if need be.

In January, the Saxon Lieutenant-General Wolf Kaspar von Zezschwitz went to Vienna. On his way back to Saxony, he stopped for some days in Prague.

In March, FZM Lacy replaced FML Beck at the head of his corps.

On March 9, Zezschwitz, still sojourning at Prague, died from a stroke. Major-General Wolf Heinrich von Gösnitz replaced him as commander of the Saxon cavalry and was accordingly promoted to lieutenant-general.

By May 4, Prince Henri was encamped in a very strong position on the Heights of Schletta and Katzenberg behind the Triebsche, between Miltitz and Nossen. Meanwhile, Daun's Army (54 bns and more than 100 sqns) was remaining idle in the Vale of Plauen just south of Dresden. For his part Lacy commanded a separate Austrian Corps at Reichenberg and Boxdorf. Guasco's Division covered the Eger; Hadik's Corps was at Dippoldiswalde; and Serbelloni's Austro-Imperial Army (20,000 men, including the Reichsarmee) was in Vogtland.

FM Daun decided to deploy a new corps near Zittau. He gave command of this corps to G.d.C O'Donell. The corps would consist of 6 infantry rgts (Botta, Sincère, Gyulay, Kinsky, O'Kelly and Harrach) and 9 cavalry rgts (Erzherzog Maximilian Cuirassiers, Infant von Portugal Cuirassiers, O'Donell Cuirassiers, Anhalt-Zerbst Cuirassiers and Erzherzog Ferdinand Cuirassiers (more probably Erzherzog Leopold Cuirassiers), Prinz Savoyen Dragoons, Liechtenstein Dragoons, Splényi Hussars and Pálffy Hussars).

On May 8, O'Donell's Corps assembled near Bischofswerda.

On May 13, O'Donell's Corps marched by Bautzen and Löbau to Wittgendorf near Zittau.

On May 27, O'Donell's Corps took up cantonments in the region of Zittau.

On July 5, O'Donnel marched to Dresden with a small part of his corps while the rest set off for Silesia to reinforce Loudon's Army.

At the end of July, Serbelloni's Austro-Imperial Army came out of Vogtland where it had taken its winter-quarters.

On July 21, the Austro-Imperial Army encamped near Ronneburg with outposts at Gera and Naumburg on the Saale.

In August, Prince Henri was forced to send some battalions to contain the Swedish offensive on Berlin and others towards Halberstadt, victim of repeated raids by French light troops.

On September 2, Prince Henri detached Seydlitz with 8 bns and 24 sqns to march towards Ronneburg against Serbelloni's Austro-Imperial Army while Daun still remain idle with his own army. Seydlitz drove back the Austro-Imperials and even tried to attack the right wing of this army anchored on the Rensterberg. Seydlitz had already issued his orders when intelligence about the readjustment of the Austro-Imperial positions made him abandon his project. He then took position at Altenkirch to threaten the left flank of the Austro-Imperials. Serbelloni then retired to the camp of Weida.

On September 6, Seydlitz retired, marching by Altenburg to Borne.

On September 15, Seydlitz made a junction with the Army of Prince Henri.

On October 12, Prince Henri detached Seydlitz once more, this time towards Magdeburg to clear the province from enemy parties.

On November 1, Daun received a reinforcement of 24 bns and 42 sqns under the command of General Buttler. This reinforcement had been sent by Loudon after the storming of Schweidnitz on October 1. This brought Daun's total force to 76 bns and 140 sqns.

On November 5, Daun came out of his camp of Plauen and made a general attack on Prince Henri's positions. The attack was simultaneously launched from Roßwein all across to Siebeneichen on a 24 km wide front. After a stiff struggle, Daun drove all his attacks in, capturing a few villages on the left bank of the Mulde. This was a very timid attack considering his overwhelming superiority.

On November 19, Daun took his cantonments. The same day, Serbelloni's Austro-Imperial Army did the same.

At the beginning of December, Daun and Serbelloni took their winter-quarters. The Saxon cavalry was initially quartered around Chemnitz before being transferred to Penig.

Prince Henri had to winter behind the Mulde, not astride of it as the previous winter.

References

This article incorporates texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Carlyle, T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 20
  • Jomini, Henri: Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 4ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 80-82, 107, 115-116
  • Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, 2. part, Leipzig 1885
  • Wengen, F. von: Geschichte des k. k. österreichischen 13. Dragoner-Regimentes Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, Brandeis 1879

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