1761 - Austro-Russian campaign in Silesia
The campaign lasted form April to December 1761
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Description
- 3 References
For the campaign of 1761, the Austro-Russian plan was to increase Loudon's Army to 80,000 men with reinforcements taken from Daun's Army to operate in Silesia. Loudon's Army would then combine with a Russian Army. Frederick II of Prussia could oppose them only a tired army who had lost most of its sources of recruitment. Furthermore, since 1760, the Austro-Russians were refusing to exchange any prisoner, thus aggravating the situation.
At the end of 1760, when Frederick had marched to Saxony, he had left General Goltz in Silesia with 34 bns and 45 sqns (a total of about 20,000 men) to observe the Russians and Loudon's Army. After the affair of Cosel (present-day Kozanow) in 1760, there had been a truce between Goltz and Loudon. The belligerents had then taken up their winter-quarters and the convention was extended till May 26. This convention could be abrogated by one of the party if he informed his opponent 4 days in advance.
Loudon enters into Silesia
At the opening of the campaign of 1761, Loudon could field 64 bns and 85 sqns (about 32,000 men) in the neighbourhoods of Glatz (present-day Kłodzko) and Ratibor (present-day Raciborz).
On ???, the Prince of Bernburg violated the convention, capturing the important Austrian position of Silberberg (present-day Srebrna Gora) and 8 guns. In retaliation, Loudon cancelled the convention, hoping to take advantage of Frederick's absence to attack Goltz who had taken positions between Löwenberg (present-day Lwówek Śląski) and Neisse (present-day Nysa).
On ???, Loudon surprised the place of Frankenberg (present-day Przyłęk), capturing 1 bn and 1 sqn.
On ???, Drašković marched from Jägerndorf (present-day Krnov) to Johannesberg (maybe Heřmánkovice-Janovicky) with his Austrian Corps (including Erzherzog Ferdinand Infantry, Los Rios Infantry, Königsegg Infantry, Leopold Pálffy Infantry, Baden-Durlach Infantry and Angern Infantry). Meanwhile Wolfersdorf was at Trautenau (present-day Trutnov) in Bohemia with another Austrian force.
While Loudon concentrated his troops around Glatz. Wolfersdorf marched from Trautenau to Goldenöls (present-day Zlatá Olešnice).
On April 15, Drašković assembled his corps near Reichenstein (present-day Złoty Stok).
On April 18, Bethlen was at Kunzendorf (present-day Kunčice nad Labem) near Neustadt (maybe present-day Nové Město pod Smrke). The same day, Loudon abrogated the convention and advised that the truce would expire four days later.
On April 20, Goltz assembled his corps between Schweidnitz (present-day Swidnica) and Freiburg (present-day Świebodzice).
On April 21, Bethlen marched to Langendorf (unidentified location) with an Austrian force.
By April 22, Loudon had already been reinforced and now led an army of 41,000 men. He marched to Braunau (present-day Broumov).
On April 23, Loudon entered into Silesia in 3 columns:
- Loudon's column by Friedland (present-day Mieroszów) and Gottesberg (present-day Boguszów-Gorce), encamping at Waldenburg (present-day Wałbrzych)
- Wolfersdorf's column from Goldenöls to Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Góra) by Liebau (present-day Lubawka)
- Ellrichshausen from Königswalde (probably Království u Šluknova) to the Heights of Waldichen (unidentified location).
Goltz immediately assembled his small army under the guns of Schweidnitz and entrenched it between Hohenfriedeberg (present-day Dobromierz) and Hohenkunzendorf (near Mokrzeszów) to guard the defiles:
- 3 bns and 8 sqns on the Heights of Hohenfriedeberg
- 10 bns on the Zeiskenberg
- 6 bns and 6 sqns between Kunzendorf and Libichau (unidentified location)
- the rest of his army behind these positions
On April 24, Drašković marched from Braunau to Silbergerg and Frankenstein (present-day Ząbkowice Śląskie); and Bethlen to Teuschwette (unidentified location) and Steinau (present-day Ścinawa Mała).
On April 27, Goltz encamped with his right at Kuzendorf and his left at Kamerau (unidentified location). The same day, Loudon's Army advanced to Salzbrunn (present-day Szczawno-Zdrój) and Reichenau (present-day Niwa).
On April 28, Loudon, who had been ordered to take no risk before the arrival of the Russians and of additional reinforcements sent by Daun, renounced to his project. He encamped in the neighbourhood of Salzbrunn while Wolfersdorf took positions at Neu-Reichenau and Giesmansdorf (present-day Gostków).
On April 29, the Prussians retired from their outposts at Reichenbach (present-day Dzierżoniów) and Hohenfriedeberg. The force formerly occupying the latter outpost retired to Striegau (present-day Strzegom).
On April 30, the Marquis de Botta, who had replaced Drašković in command, occupied the Butterberg, the Hutberg and Reichenbach.
Friedrich comes to the rescue
On May 3, to relieve Goltz, Frederick rose from Meissen Country with some 50,000 men (33 bns, 63 sqns and 8 heavy batteries) and marched towards Silesia 6 weeks earlier than he had intended. He passed the Elbe at Strehlen and marched towards Hohenfriedeberg.
On May 9, informed of Frederick's departure for Silesia, Daun sent a corps of about 28,000 men under the joint commands of Sincère and O'Donell forward to Zittau to cover Bohemia against a possible invasion. These two commanders should later make a junction with Loudon's Army who had already been reinforced by Argenteau's and Gourcy's Divisions. The same day, Frederick sojourned at Görlitz.
On May 12, Loudon, informed of Frederick's approach, retired to Glatz County without waiting for his arrival. Loudon took position between Braunau and Dittersbach bei Halbstadt (present-day Jetřichov u Meziměstí). His main body (40,000 men) occupied the entrenched camp of Hauptmannsdorf (present-day Hejtmánkovice) near Braunau. Meanwhile, General Ellrichshausen covered his right at Giersdorf (unidentified location) and General Wolfersdorf his left at Bolich (unidentified location) near Trautenau. General Drašković covered the County of Glatz with 13,000 men encamped near Silberberg and Wartha (present-day Bardo Śląskie). Bethlen was posted with 4,000 men towards Kunzendorf bei Neurode (present-day Drogoslaw) to observe the Prussians; and Luzinsky at Liebau. Finally, General O'Donell was at Zittau in Lusatia with 25,000 men (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). The same day, Frederick reached Priswitz (unidentified location) near Schweidnitz.
On May 13, Frederick encamped at Hohenfriedeberg. He sent instructions to Prince Henri to defend the line of the Elbe and to manoeuvre between Buturlin's Russian Army and Loudon's Austrian Army to delay their junction. He also intended to attack Loudon before this junction if an occasion arose. Indeed, Loudon was to be joined by 60,000 Russians under Field-marshal Buturlin. They intended to make their junction in Upper Silesia, near Neisse. The plan was to take Neisse first, then to capture Brieg (present-day Brzeg), Schweidnitz, Glogau (present-day Głogów) and probably Breslau (present-day Wrocław) itself.
By May 16, Frederick had made a junction with part of Goltz's Corps, thus bringing his army to some 48,000 men. He took position in the cantonments of Kunzendorf and Schweidnitz for 6 weeks. Loudon remained at Braunau for a long time, patiently collecting an army of 72,000 men. As mentioned before, he had strict orders from Vienna to avoid fighting until the arrival of the Russian Army.
On May 17, Goltz was detached with 15 bns and 26 sqns (10,000 men) to occupy the entrenched camp of Glogau to observe the Russian Army. A reinforcement of 2,000 grenadiers was sent to the Prince of Württemberg who, with 12,000 men, occupied the entrenched camp of Colberg to cover Pomerania. The same day, O'Donell was at Zittau and Bethlen at Neustadt, covering the Austrian magazines of Upper Silesia; while d'Argenteau and Courcy, arriving from Saxony, had already made a junction with Loudon's Main Army.
The Russians slowly join Loudon
On May 19, the Russian Main Army, who had wintered in Poland in the area of Thorn (present-day Toruń) and Marienburg (present-day Malbork), marched to Dirschau (present-day Tczew).
On May 24, the Russian Main Army marched from Dirschau to Mewe (present-day Gniew).
On May 25, the Russian Main Army marched to Münsterwalde (present-day Opalenie).
On May 27, Frederick detached a division near Nimptsch (present-day Niemcza) to communicate with Neisse.
On May 30, the Russian Main Army marched from Münsterwalde to Neuenburg (present-day Nowe).
From June 1 to 6, Frederick remained in his positions near Kunzendorf. Malachowski Hussars were detached to Löwenberg (present-day Lwówek Śląski) to observe O'Donell's Corps (25,000 men) at Zittau. During the same period, the Russian Main Army, still advancing in 3 columns, reached Nakel (Nakło nad Notecią). Bethlen was near Neustadt and Loudon remained in his positions.
On June 13, Buturlin's columns began to arrive at Posen (present-day Poznań).
On June 22, Goltz informed Frederick that Buturlin's Army was approaching and would march into Silesia in 4 divisions totalling 60,000 men. Goltz asked for a reinforcement of 20,000 men to attack the advancing Russians while they were still in separate divisions.
On June 23, approving Goltz proposition, Frederick sent him a reinforcement of 11 bns and 30 sqns. The same day, Lacy took command of O'Donell's Corps and encamped at Friedeberg am Queis (present-day Mirsk). Meanwhile, Beck was at Kaiserswalde (present-day Lasówka).
On June 26 and 27, the Russian Main Army marched from Posen to Maszinna (probably Mosina).
On June 28, as Goltz was preparing to advance against the isolated Russian divisions, he was seized by a violent fever. As soon as Frederick was informed of this delay, he sent Zieten to take command of the operation. The same day, Brentano occupied posts at Königsberg (unidentified location) and Wüstewaltersdorf (present-day Walim) with an Austrian force.
On June 29, Zieten arrived at Goltz's camp and took command of his corps. The same day, the 4 Russian divisions made a junction.
On June 30, Goltz died from his fever. The same day, Zieten marched from Glogau but soon realised that it was too late to attack the Russians who were now assembled and had marched from Maszinna to Czempin to guard the defiles leading to Zartsch (probably Czacz) through the marshes. Zieten encamped at Storchnest (present-day Osieczna).
Nevertheless on July 1, Zieten advanced up to Kosten (present-day Kościan) where he took a good position.
On July 3, the Russian Main Army marched to Dalewo. Informed that the Russians now intended to march to Dolsk, Zieten encamped near Kopkowa (unidentified location). His task was made very difficult by the numerous cossack detachments screening the movements of the Russian Main Army.
On July 4, Bethlen pushed patrols on Oppeln (present-day Opole).
On July 6, Frederick's Army camped at Polzen (unidentified location). The same day, Brentano marched to Hausdorf near Waldenburg. Bethlen received reinforcements. The Russian Main Army marched from Dalewo to Nowieczek.
On July 9, Zieten was informed that Buturlin had almost reached Borken (present-day Borek Wielkopolski) which was false, Buturlin still being at Dolsk. Zieten immediately marched to Bojanowo. The same day, Luzinsky marched to Reußendorf (present-day Rusinowa) near Landeshut.
On July 10, Zieten marched to Trachenberg (present-day Żmigród).
On July 11, Zieten marched to Prausnitz (present-day Prusice) to move closer to the Oder and thus cover Glogau and Breslau. The same day, the Russian army finally marched from Dolsk to Borken.
On July 12, the Russian army reached Kobylin. Meanwhile, Loudon recalled Wolfersdorf's Corps to make a junction with his own. The same day, Zieten divided his corps and passed the Oder to cover Brieg and Oppeln while Knobloch covered Breslau.
On July 14, Buturlin reached Zduny.
On July 15, Buturlin marched to Preslowitz (unidentified location). He intended to pass the Oder at Oppeln which was already occupied by Bethlen's Austrian Corps.
On July 16 and 17, the largest part of O'Donell's Corps marched from Zittau and progressively joined Loudon's Army, bringing it to a total of 80,000 men. Only Beck's Corps was left at Zittau. Meanwhile the Russian Main Army reached Tschechen (maybe Czeszów).
On July 19, Buturlin's Army reached Wartenberg (unidentified location).
On July 20, Loudon marched in 3 columns from Braunau and encamped near Wüstegiersdorf (present-day Głuszyca) and Biela (probably Bielawa) on his way to Neisse, the assigned point of junction of the Austro-Russian Army. Meanwhile, Brentano reached Heinrichau (present-day Henryków) near Münsterberg (present-day Ziębice) to cover Loudon's right; Jahnus remained at Silberberg and Wartha; Luzinsky and Ellrichshausen debouched from the mountains and occupied the Heights of Habendorf (present-day Owiesno). The same day, the Russian Main Army reached Bernstadt an der Weide (present-day Bierutów) and Namslau (present-day Namysłów). It was now within reach of Breslau and of an open road to southward. It was also in position to make its junction with Loudon.
In the night of July 20 to 21, Frederick marched and suddenly appeared at Siegroth (present-day Dobrzenice) near Nimptsch to cover the road to Neisse while Zieten covered Brieg and Knobloch covered Breslau.
On July 21, Loudon marched from Baumgarten (present-day Braszowice) and encamped at Münsterberg with his left on the Heights of Stolz (present-day Stolec) and his right at Leipe. Meanwhile, Luzinsky took position on the Kleitschberg and Brentano remained at Heinrichau.
On July 22 in the morning, Loudon marched towards Gross-Nossen (unidentified location) and Brentano advanced towards Münsterberg. Frederick was fearing to loose his line of communication with Neisse where he had large magazines. Accordingly, he marched at dawn in 3 columns to Karlowitz (probably Karlowice) with the intention of attacking Loudon if ever the latter marched in the same direction. The first Prussian column was supposed to march by Tarchwitz (present-day Targowica) and Heinrichau, leaving Münsterberg and Gross-Nossen to its right, marched through Kamnig (present-day Kamiennik) and encamped at Karlowitz; the second column marched parallel to the first, leaving Heinrichau to its right and passed by the woods of Ober-Kunzendorf and Schulzendorf (unidentified location); the third column passed by Kurschwitz (unidentified location) and Wiesenthal (unidentified location), leaving Reimen to its left and moved through Glasendorf (unidentified location); the Prussian vanguard drove back Austrian light troops from the Convent of Heinrichau. At this time, Loudon began to march out of his camp, advancing parallel to the Prussian Army only separated by the stream of Ohle. A few Grenzer bns belonging to Brentano's Corps had thrown themselves into Münsterberg. Brentano planted a battery behind the Height of Ohlgut and opened on the Prussian vanguard who was seizing the Galgenberg on the opposite side of the town. This vanguard drove back the Austrian cavalry, pursuing it up to Gross-Nossen where it made itself master of Loudon's camp. When Frederick arrived on the Galgenberg at the head of the first column, he established a battery to answer to the Austrian artillery while 33/42 Nimschöfsky Grenadiers and Frei-Infanterie de Salenmon launched an attack on Münsterberg. The Austrian artillery finally retired to Beerwalde (unidentified location). Loudon had received contradictory reports on the march of the Prussian Army and was surprised to be suddenly outflanked on his right. Austrian columns fell in disorder. The Austrian Reserve was moved forward and deployed en potence to cover the retreat of Loudon's Army. Meanwhile, Frederick resumed his advance and encamped with his right at Gross-Karlowitz, his left at Grachwitz (present-day Goraszowice), his reserve towards Stephansdorf (present-day Radzikowice). Now Frederick was closer to Neisse than Loudon and a junction between the Austrian and Russian armies in Neisse Country was impossible. Loudon abandoned his project to make a junction with the Russian Army in Upper Silesia and retired to Patschkau (present-day Paczkow). Loudon also suggested to Buturlin, who had reached Namslau to effect their junction in Lower Silesia. Meanwhile, Bethlen was at Schweinsdorf (present-day Piorunkowice) to observe Neisse and had thrown troops in Oppeln.
On July 23, Frederick took position on the Heights of Woitz (present-day Wojcice) and Ullersdorf (present-day Ulanowice), threw a bridge of boat across the Neiss near Gumpiglau (probably Głębinów) not far from the Fortress of Neisse. Meanwhile, Zieten marched from Breslau with two corps. He drove back Bethlen's outposts from Oppeln. His own corps encamped at Falkenberg (present-day Niemodlin) while Knobloch took position at Löwen (present-day Lewin Brzeski). The same day, Jahnus marched to Waldenburg; Bethlen retired to Schnellenwalde (unidentified location); and Loudon detached Drašković to reinforce Bethlen.
For several days, both armies remained in these positions.
On July 26, Zieten evacuated Oppersdorf (present-day Wierzbiecice) while Knobloch took position between Löwen and Schurgast (present-day Skorogoszcz). The same day, Bethlen reoccupied Oppeln to establish communication with the Russian Army who had by then reached Resewitz (unidentified location).
On July 28, fearing to be attacked, Loudon returned to his old camp between Frankenstein and Baumgarten, his right to the Neiss to keep his communication open with Glatz and to ease communication with the Russian Army. Frederick then decided to attack Bethlen's Corps to prevent a junction with the Russian Army.
On July 29, Frederick with the Prussian Main Army passed the Neiss, marched to Lindenwiese (present-day Lipowa) and encamped at Oppersdorf to prevent his enemies to take position between the Neiss and the Oder. Knobloch's Corps marched to Milkau (unidentified location). The same day, Drašković marched to Upper Silesia to reinforce Bethlen, encamping near Neustadt (present day Prudnik/PL). Jahnus linked with the left wing of Loudon's Army at Nickelsdorf (unidentified location); Brentano was on the Heights of Stolz; and Luzinsky at Camenz (present-day Kamieniec Zabkowski).
On July 30, Knobloch's Corps marched to Steinau and Zieten's Corps to Zultz (present-day Biala Prudnicka) to get closer to the Prussian Main Army. Meanwhile, Frederick advanced on Bethlen's and Drašković's positions near Neustadt with 16 bns and 30 sqns. The Austrian generals retired into the defiles, Drašković taking position at Jägerndorf to protect the magazines, and Frederick encamped at Kunzendorf where he was joined by Zieten's Corps. The rest of the Prussian Main Army had been left behind at Oppersdorf under the command of Wied to observe Loudon's Army. In fact Loudon was hoping that Frederick would persist in his intentions against Bethlen and Drašković, allowing enough time to Buturlin to pass the Oder at Leubus (present-day Lubiąż) and to march to his encounter by Liegnitz (present-day Legnica) and Jauer (present-day Jawor). However, Loudon still had to support Bethlen and Drašković sufficiently to avoid a disaster. Accordingly, he detached Jahnus on the Steinberg near Ziegenthal (unidentified location) and Luzinsky on the Hasenberg near Ottmachau (present-day Otmuchow) while he himself passed the Neiss during the night and encamped near Weidenau (unidentified location).
On July 31, Frederick left Zieten's Corps with some reinforcements at Neustadt and assembled the rest of his army at Oppersdorf. The same day, Jahnus and Luzinsky took position on the Hasenberg and Steinberg while Loudon passed the Neiss in the evening.
On August 1, Frederick instructed Knobloch to rejoin him at Oppersdorf with his corps. The same day, Loudon encamped at Bartsdorf (unidentified location) and Hausdorf (unidentified location), reconnoitred Frederick's camp and made several demonstrations to induce Frederick to expect an attack. Brentano remained on the left bank of the Neiss; Drašković retired to Moravia. Meanwhile Buturlin marched from Namslau to Bernstadt.
On August 2, Loudon suddenly marched towards Patschkau and pushed Brentano's Division forward across the Neiss towards Pomsdorf (unidentified location). The same day, Zieten advanced from Neustadt to Jägerndorf. The profusion of Austrian and Russian light troops made it very difficult for Frederick to be informed of the movements of their main armies.
On August 3, Frederick learned of the arrival of the Russian Main Army at Bernstadt two days earlier and of the sudden appearance of Tchernichev in front of Breslau. Frederick immediately dispatched Knobloch to the relief of Breslau. Zieten retraced his steps from Jägerndorf and returned to Neustadt. The same day, Loudon returned to Patschkau on the right bank of the Neiss while the Russian Army reached Kriechen (unidentified location).
On August 4, Frederick repassed the Neiss and returned to his camp of Giesmannsdorf with his main army while Zieten replaced him at Oppersdorf. When the heads of the columns of the Prussian Army arrived on the Heights of Giesmannsdorf, patrols reported that the Austrians were in full march and had already reached Zoltsch-Kretscham (probably Wygoda). Frederick, believing that the Austrians were trying to arrive at Strehlen (present-day Strzelin) ahead of him, resolved to move closer and to attack them. He recalled Knobloch's Corps who was marching on Ohlau (present-day Oława) and resumed his advance in 3 columns and, after a march of 56 km in a very warm day, bivouacked on the Heights of Schönbrun (present-day Struzyna). Zieten's Corps, who had also been recalled, spent the night at 4 km from Schönbrun at Niklausdorf (unidentified location). During this time, Loudon had repassed the Neisse once more near Camenz, and returned unnoticed to his former camp of Baumgarten.
At daybreak on August 5, Frederick, who had received no information about Loudon's movements, marched to Strehlen. Meanwhile Knobloch restarted for Breslau. The same day, the main Russian army marched from Bernstadt to Hundsfeld (present-day Psie Pole) while Brentano marched from Stolz and Heinrichau; and Beck moved closer to Zittau on the Queiss.
On August 6, Knobloch passed through Breslau to advance against the Russians who, after a brief cannonade, retired to Trebnitz (present-day Trzebnica). Meanwhile, Zieten made a junction with Frederick's Army. The same day, the Russian Main Army marched to Peterswitz (present-day Piotrkowiczki).
On August 8 at midnight, Loudon left his camp.
On August 9, fearing that the Russian would attack Glogau, Frederick dispatched Platen to cover this town jointly with Knobloch. The same day, the Russian Main Army marched to Rainsberg (unidentified location) while Tchernichev reached Auras (present-day Uraz). Loudon, for his part, reached Bogendorf (unidentified location) and Freiburg near Schweidnitz while Brentano marched to Striegau; and Jahnus to Burkersdorf (present-day Burkatow).
In the night of August 9 to 10, a report from the commander of the Fortress of Schweidnitz informed Frederick that the Austrian army had appeared in front of this place and occupied a large camp between Bogendorf and Hohenfriedeberg. Meanwhile Beck had marched from Zittau to Liegnitz. Frederick dispatched Knobloch's Corps from Gablenz (unidentified location) to Kanth (present-day Katy Wroclawskie).
On August 10, Frederick marched to Kanth with the main army and joined Knobloch. The same day, Tchernichev marched to Wohlau (present-day Wołów) and threw 3 bridges on the Oder at the Abbey of Leubus while the Russian Main Army reached Klein Kreidel (present-day Krzydlina Mala). Luzinsky reached Polnisch-Weistritz (probably Bystrzyca Dolna).
On August 11, the Russian Main Army marched to Kreidel (present-day Krzydlina Wielka) and Tchernichev passed the Oder and encamped at Damm (probably Damm Kretscham, near present-day Rogoźnik). Cossack detachments prevented Frederick from reconnoitring Russian manoeuvres. However, he realised that they were trying to pass the Oder and advance on Breslau. Frederick hoped that Loudon would quit his strong positions at Hohenfriedeberg to move closer to the the Russian Army. This would have given Frederick the opportunity to attack the isolated Austrian Army with some chance of success. For this reason, Frederick tried to hide the importance of the Prussian force assembled at Kanth. His third line took position on the heights, its left at Polsnitz (present-day Pelcznice) and his right at Schimelwitz (unidentified location). The cuirassiers were kept in reserve behind the third line. The Prussian Main Army took position between Schimelwitz and the suburb of Kanth. The same day, Frederick received information from Schweidnitz mentioning that Loudon had sent troops to occupy Striegau and would march at night with his main body. In fact, Loudon had marched back towards Schweidnitz, skilfully avoiding Frederick who was following him up to prevent a junction. Loudon established himself at Hohenkunzendorf, on the edge of the Glatz Hills, waiting for the Russians.
On August 12, the Russian Main Army passed the Oder and encamped at Parchwitz (present-day Prochowice) with an advanced post at Liegnitz. The same day, Frederick's Army marched in 4 columns to Groß Tinz (present-day Tyniec nad Ślężą) to get closer to the road leading from Striegau to Liegnitz and Neumarkt (present-day Środa Śląska). However, the Prussian Army did not get farther than Lonig (unidentified location) where it took a masked camp behind the town: its right at Niedermoys (unidentified location) and its left at Tschammendorf (present-day Samborz). Meanwhile, all the dragoons of the first line of the Prussian Reserve advanced to Obermoys (unidentified location) and Jerschendorf (present-day Jaroslaw) to give the impression to Loudon that it was a detached corps covering the main army. General Schmettau, who had been pushed forward on the road from Neumarkt to Breslau, announced that he had encountered only cossack parties and that he believed that the Russian Army had not yet passed the Oder. Frederick, convinced that Schmettau was wrong, detached General Mollendorf to Dombritsch (unidentified location) with orders to push patrols up to the Katzbach. These patrols discovered a Russian Corps of about 11,000 men towards Polnisch Schildern (present-day Szczytniki nad Kaczawa) near Liegnitz.
On August 13, Loudon sent Ellrichshausen's Division towards Striegau while Brentano occupied the Spitzberg beyond Striegau. Loudon himself remained at Hohenkunzendorf with his main army. At noon, Mollendorf informed Frederick of the discovery of his patrols and of the fact that all reports indicated that the Russian had already passed the Oder. Meanwhile, Schmettau continued to report to Frederick that they were still on the opposite bank, leaving Frederick uncertain about the situation. At 5:00 p.m., Frederick received a second message from Mollendorf, informing him that Buturlin was now on the left bank of the Oder with the Russian Main Army and was marching on Panten (present-day Patnow Legnickie). The Prussian Army immediately lifted camp and marched in 4 columns on Lonig. Frederick did not intend to attack the Russian Army but wanted to convince Loudon that he planned to do so, hoping to draw him into the plain. During the march, Frederick received intelligence that Loudon was marching on Jauer. This was a false information but it corresponded to Frederick's expectations. Frederick ordered the infantry of the vanguard to halt near Jenkau (present-day Jenków), while his hussars pushed reconnaissances up to Behrsdorf (unidentified location). The main body, who was initially supposed to encamped at Lonig, marched farther. Frederick planned to pass the Weidebach at dawn to attack Loudon's columns at Jauer.
On August 14 at 3:00 a.m., Prussian hussars returned, announcing that they had not encountered the Austrian Army but that they had clearly see the camp fires of this army in its camp of Hohenfriedeberg and those of Brentano towards Striegau. Indeed, notwithstanding the potential threat to the Russian Army, Loudon had not moved from his strong positions around Hohenfriedeberg. When Frederick realised that his plan to draw Loudon in the plain had failed, he ordered his army to retrace its steps to Lonig, taking position with its right at Dromsdorf (present-day Drogomilowice) and its left at Peicherwitz (present-day Pichorowice). The 14 bns of the first line of the Prussian Reserve encamped with their right at Jenkau and their left towards Dromsdorf. In the afternoon, General Gablenz was detached to Kanth to entrench his corps and thus cover the communication with Breslau. A detachment of Zieten Hussars took position on the Burgberg near Merschutz (unidentified location) to patrol the area of Jauer and to reconnoitre Loudon's movements. Other Prussian detachments were also sent towards Striegau.
On August 15, General Platen took position on the Heights of Wahlstatt (present-day Legnickie Pole) with 5 bns and 25 sqns to reconnoitre the Russian Army. Meanwhile, about 4,500 cossacks attacked Zieten Hussars at Jenkau. The major commanding Zieten Hussars formed them in half-squadron and passed through the cossacks without losing a single man. A few moment later, a corps of Russian cavalry was seen forming on the Heights of Klein Wandriss (Wądroże Małe) to support the cossacks. Platen advanced on them with 5 bns, vainly cannonading them. Frederick then sent Zieten to Nikolstadt (present-day Mikołajowice) to turn the Russian cavalry who retired in time. During this encounter, Prussian outposts reported that they saw dust clouds on the road of Jauer. Frederick immediately detached Mollendorf to Dromsdorf and General Ramin to the Heights of Merzdorf (present-day Marcinowice). Soon they saw 15 sqns of Loudon's Army appear in order of battle between Dromsdorf and Rudern (unidentified location), closely followed by a column of cavalry marching through the village of Barzdorf (present-day Bartoszówek) and advancing on Profen (present-day Mściwojów). Indeed, it was Loudon who, having heard the cannonade, was arriving with 40 elite sqns (including all horse grenadiers and carabiniers) to support the Russian Army and to finally establish the long awaited junction. Frederick, still ignoring what this force was, placed himself at the head of Ramin's infantry brigade, Lentulus' cavalry brigade and Schwerin's cavalry brigade and advanced on Klein Pohlwitz (present-day Pawlowice Male) by Skule (unidentified location) to support Zieten who was placed between the Russian and Austrian cavalry columns and who had already retired from Nikolstadt to Klein Pohlwitz. Loudon then turned left by Wahlstatt and made a junction with the Russian cavalry near Strachwitz (present-day Strachowice). Meanwhile General Platen had marched on Klein Wandriss. After his junction with Zieten's Corps, Frederick formed his cavalry towards Strachwitz. He then advanced on Nikolstadt and Wahlstatt. After a brief cannonade, an engagement took place where the Prussian cavalry drove back a few Austrian regiments near Strachwitz. However, it was charged in flank by Russian cuirassiers and clouds of cossacks. Frederick supported his cavalry, forcing the Austro-Russian cavalry to retire on the approaching Russian Army who was marching from Parchwitz to Klemerwitz (unidentified location). Buturlin encamped there with this cavalry and some 10,000 foot. Frederick recalled Mollendorf's infantry brigade and Lottum's cavalry brigade, who had been left behind at Merzdorf, to reinforce him. During the night, ignoring that Buturlin's main force was still away at Liegnitz, he entrenched on the Heights of Wahlstatt with 24 bns and 58 sqns, thus losing the occasion to attack Buturlin before the concentration of his entire army. After this action, Loudon personally returned to Striegau accompanied by 2 sqns.
On August 16, the rest of the Russian Army joined Buturlin at Klemerwitz. During the night, Frederick rearranged his camp, placing his right at Groß Wandriss (present-day Wadroze Wielkie), his left towards Strachwitz and his headquarters at Nikolstadt, a march from Wahlstatt. He also ordered Margrave Carl to rejoin him with the part of the army which had been left at Losig.
On August 17, the Corps of Margrave Carl took position with its right on the heights of Granowitz (present-day Granowice) and its left at Dromsdorf. The same day, Loudon's Main Army marched in 3 columns to Gerlachsdorf (unidentified location); Luzinsky, on the Streitberg near Striegau; Beck, to Liegnitz; Brentano, in front of Jauer; while Jahnus remained at Freiburg on the Heights of Kunzendorf. The Russian Army was still encamped at Klemerwitz near Liegnitz. The cossacks were in front of Wahlstatt. Frederick, with an army counting only 57,000 men, now had 60,000 Russians in front of him and 72,000 Austrians in rear. The only line of retreat left to him was towards Schweidnitz.
Till August 19, all armies remained on their positions. The Austro-Russians losing an immense opportunity to fall on the Prussian Army from two sides simultaneously.
On August 19 at dawn, Frederick's Army marched to Ossig (present-day Osiek, Średzki), intending to gain the Heights of Kunzendorf and to threaten Loudon's lines of communication. However, Loudon anticipated Frederick's intents and marched to Kunzendorf while Jahnus went to Hohgiersdorf (present-day Modliszów). Frederick redirected his march to the Pitscheberg near Domanze (present-day Domanice). The same day, the Russian Main Army marched to Hohenkirch (present-day Wysoka, Świebodzice) near Jauer. This large 130,000 men strong army was now to be fed by Loudon.
The Entrenched Camp of Bunzelwitz
Early on August 20, scouts reported to Frederick that Kunzendorf was thoroughly occupied by Loudon. Frederick then resolved to choose a new position from which he could prevent the siege of Schweidnitz, cover Breslau and remain within reach of his magazines while under the protection of a place. At 3:00 a.m., Frederick was on march. He encamped, still at an early hour, midway between Schweidnitz and Striegau. His right wing was at Zedlitz (present-day Pasieczna), his left wing at Jauernik (present-day Stary Jaworów) and his headquarters at Bunzelwitz (present-day Bolesławice), a poor village. The same evening his army began to entrench at an incredible speed, to build the entrenched camp of Bunzelwitz, even though the ground had no peculiar military strength. The area was a plain. It was some 12 km long by as many broad. This camp of Buntzelwitz was formed by a chain of knolls intertwined by a network of streams, mainly the Freyburgerwasser and the Strigauerwasser who covered the front, leaving few points of attack. On the west side ran the Striegauerwasser. On the east side stood Schweidnitz with stores of every kind, especially of guns and bread.
The work continued 24 hours a day with two teams of 25,000 men. In 3 days, the Prussians built batteries, redoubts, cavalry posts, long trenches. The batteries were mined so that they could be blown up in case of capture. The trenches were in some places 5 m. broad by 6 m. deep. Before the lines were palisades, storm-posts, chevaux-de-frise. Prussian lines extended in a sort of elongated square whose right side was towards Tschechen (present-day Czechy) and Zedlitz, front from Zedlitz to a position behind Jauernik, left from Jauernik to a position behind Würben (present-day Pszenno), and rear from Würben to Tschechen. There were 6 bastions covering the whole area and flanking inner entrenchments:
- the angle linking the right side with the second line towards Tschechen
- the Weinberg
- the knoll between Jauernik and Wickendorf (present-day Witkow)
- the knoll in front of Bunzelwitz
- the knoll of Würben
- the knoll behind Neudorf (present-day Nowice)
|Order of Battle|
|Detailed order of battle of the Austrian Army|
All these knolls were strongly entrenched particularly the Height of Würben, about 8 km from Schweidnitz, which served as a central citadel, looking down upon the Striegauerwasser. They were linked together by entrenchments and flèches. Furthermore, 27 batteries totalling 180 guns (heavy guns had been brought from Schweidnitz), in addition to 280 battalion guns, were planted in this improvised fortress. The two potential points of attack, and the best defended, where located between Jauernik and Bunzelwitz and between Peterwitz (present-day Piotrowice Swidnickie) and Neudorf. Bunzelwitz, Jauernik, Tschechen and Peterwitz were all fortified.
On August 23, only 3 days later, Loudon was astonished to discover such a strong position. He soon realised how terribly difficult it would be to attack it with success. Frederick continued to entrench for 8 more days. Zieten was appointed to the command of the citadel of Würben. He kept a sharp eye to the south-west where, 9 or more km from him, lay the Austro-Russians. The Austrians were encamped to the south around Kunzendorf and Freiburg.
On August 24, the Russian Main Army marched to Jauer.
On August 25, the Russian Main Army marched to Hohenfriedeberg where Buturlin established his headquarters, his army taking positions on the top of the Striegau Hills. Brentano marched to the Streitberg near Striegau. The same day, Frederick, thinking that he would be attacked, ordered to strike the tents and to send the baggage to Würben Heights. Then all his army marched out and stood ready under arms. However, the attack never materialised. Nevertheless, tents were struck daily to clear the field for an eventual engagement. Frederick's tent was installed on the Pfarrberg, in a clump of trees.
On August 26, Loudon advanced in the plain in front of the Prussian camp of Bunzelwitz and encamped with his left at Zirlau (present-day Ciernie) and his right at Bogendorf.
On August 28, the Russian Main Army finally arrived and encamped with its right at Teichai (unidentified location) and its left at Striegau while Tchernichev took position on the Streitberg. Now Frederick, with 66 bns and 114 sqns totalling 56,000 men, was facing an Austro-Russian army counting 150 bns and 256 sqns totalling about 138,000 men.
While the Prussians were entrenching, Loudon vainly tried to convince Buturlin to mount a coordinated assault on the Prussian positions. Buturlin was convinced that they just had to wait because the Prussian Army would eventually run out of supplies and be forced to move out of its camp.
On August 31, Drašković made a junction with Jahnus' Corps near Hohgiersdorf.
On September 1, Drašković patrolled up to the Zobtenberg.
On September 2, Loudon presented an unsolicited new plan of attack to Buturlin. Provisions were now running low.
During the night of September 2 to 3, the Austrian units gained their assigned positions for the planned attack. However, Buturlin refused once more to take part in such an attack, offering only 20,000 Russian troops to support Loudon. The attack was finally cancelled. Loudon was so affected by the situation that he fell ill.
On September 3, considering that the Austro-Russians would not attack his entrenched camp, Frederick instructed his troops to keep only half of each regiment under arms at night.
On September 4, Frederick sent Gablenz's Division to occupy the Heights of Sabischdorf (present-day Zawiszów). An outpost and a battery were also established in an old positions erected by the Swedes during the Thirty Years' War.
On September 8, Frederick sent General Bülow out to bring back meat supplies. He brought back 200 heads of cattle and 300 sheeps.
The Russians retreat
Wednesday evening September 9, there was much movement noticeable in the Russian camp. There were also Brentano's Corps leaving the heights to come down to Grunau (present-day Jagodnik). At about 10:00 p.m., the whole Russian camp went up in flame. Indeed, the Russian Army had abandoned its positions and marched to Jauer in the direction of Liegnitz, repassing the Oder. Tchernichev remained behind with a corps of 18,000 men to support Loudon in his enterprise. However, Loudon instantly abandoned all hope of attacking Frederick with success.
In the morning of September 10, Loudon returned to his former camp of Kunzendorf. Frederick thus escaped to the greatest danger he had ever faced.
On September 11, fearing that the retiring Russian army would launch an attack against Berlin, Frederick resolved to destroy its supply bases in the area of Posen. For this purpose, Frederick dispatched General Platen with 14 bns and 25 sqns (some 8,000 men) in a raid in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) to get round the flank of Buturlin. Platen was instructed to first destroy as many Russian magazines as possible and then to march to Frankfurt an der Oder or Glogau. If ever the Russians prevented these movements, Platen was to retire to Landsberg an der Warthe (present-day Gorzów Wielkopolski). Platen shot dexterously forward by the skirts of Buturlin. He heard of a big wagenburg or travelling magazine at Gostyn over the Polish frontier.
On September 15, Platen burst out suddenly on this Wagenburg and stormed it during the engagement of Gostyn. He took 1,845 prisoners and 7 guns, and burnt the 5,000 supply wagons. He immediately got upon the road again. Detachments of him then fell on Posen and other small Russian magazines which they burnt. Then, Platen marched to relieve Colberg, harassed by a cloud of cossacks and light troops.
On September 17, the Russian Main Army, who was now retiring towards Pomerania, passed the Oder.
Frederick on the move
Frederick stayed at Bunzelwitz 2 more weeks after the Russians departure. But his magazine at Schweidnitz was wearing low: not more than a month's provision now left. Furthermore, the rate of sickness got heavier and heavier in his Bunzelwitz camp. He then decided to move towards Neisse. This region had not yet been touched by the war and could easily feed his army.
On September 26, Frederick quitted Bunzelwitz. Early that morning he marched in 3 columns with all his goods, first to Pilzen (present-day Bolescin) on the east side of Schweidnitz, and then south-westwards. Frederick had left a small force behind to defend the Fortress of Schweidnitz.
On September 28, Frederick reached Siegroth (present-day Dobrzenice).
On September 29, Frederick reached Gross Nossen in Neisse neighbourhood. During this march, Colonel Dalwig flanked the left of his army with 1,200 horse and a battalion of light troops to prevent any surprise from Loudon. Frederick thought that Loudon would follow him to protect the important road to Glatz. Frederick was surprised when Dalwig informed him that he had learned nothing about Loudon's manoeuvre. In fact, Loudon sat immovable at Kunzendorf.
In Neisse, Frederick had abundant magazines. He now intended to draw Loudon towards Bohemia. However, Loudon merely detached a few corps to look after Frederick's operations. Frederick then detached Dalwig and Bulow towards Landeshut (Kamienna Góra) Hill-Country, to threaten Loudon's Bohemian roads.
Loudon storms Schweidnitz
By September 30, Loudon had resolved to make an attempt against Schweidnitz. To this end, Loudon tightened the chain of Grenzer posts around Schweidnitz and established a second chain of posts behind this one, blocking up every path and road. He also ordered to assemble ladders and planks near these posts. Meanwhile Brentano was at Ludwigsdorf (present-day Bojanice) and Drašković at Wartha (present-day Bardo Śląskie), covering the communications with Glatz.
In the early hours of October 1, the attack on Schweidnitz was executed in 4 columns each directed against a specific fort. At the head of each column, there were artillerymen; sappers; workers equipped with shovels, axes and pickaxes; and soldiers carrying ladders with their musket slung across their shoulders. Engineers with a good knowledge of the place led each column. The commanders of each columns had had a detailed briefing and precise instructions. By 7:00 a.m., Loudon was master of this very strong fortress, capturing the entire garrison along with more than 200 heavy guns, 135 mortars, ammunition...
On Friday October 2, Frederick, still ignoring Loudon's movements, detached General Lentulus to rearward to get news. Lentulus saw nothing whatever of Loudon, but he heard from two Prussian garrison-soldiers that Loudon had got hold of Schweidnitz since the morning of October 1. This meant that the Austrians would winter in Silesia.
Aftermath of the capture of Schweidnitz
From October 3 to 6, on the instant of this fatal Schweidnitz news, Frederick abandoned his projects in Upper Silesia. The Prussian army proceeded towards Strehlen (present-day Strzelin). It took general cantonment at Strehlen, in guard of Breslau and of Neisse. However, the Austrian War Council had ordered Loudon to remain on the defensive despite his great numerical superiority (85,000 men vs 45,000 men). Thus, Loudon remained immovable at Kunzendorf, attempting nothing on either of those places.
On October 21, Beck's Cavalry Corps went from Bolckenhain (present day Bolkow/PL) to Lähn (present day Wlen/PL) and Friedeberg. It was supported by 11 bns, the Stabsdragoner (5 sqns) and 1 hussar rgt.
On November 25, Loudon's army began to take up its winter-quarters along with Tchernichev's Russian Corps who wintered in Glatz County.
At the beginning of December, Frederick's Army took its winter-quarters.
On December 9, Frederick established his headquarters in Breslau.
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. 78-132
- Wengen, F. Von: Geschichte des k. k. österreichischen 13. Dragoner-Regimentes Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, Brandeis 1879
Archenholz, J. W. von: Geschichte des Siebenjahrigen Krieges in Deutschland, Berlin: 1828
Duffy, Christopher: Fire and Stone: The Science of Fortress Warfare (1660-1860), David & Charles, London: 1975
Fiedler: Geschichte des grenadieres Friedrichs des grossen
Grosser Generalstab, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Hiller, Berlin, 1830-1913