1761 - French campaign in West Germany – French second attempt against Hanover
The general situation after the Allied surprise attack against the French winter quarters in Hesse and the minor operations who took place before the opening of the campaign are described in our article Preliminary operations (April 20 to May 30, 1761).
The French manoeuvres to make a junction of their two armies, the battle of Vellinghausen and the stalemate which resulted after this battle are described in our article Campaign till the battle of Vellinghausen (June 1 to July 26, 1761).
Broglie's march eastwards through Westphalia, Soubise's advance on Münster, Broglie's first advance into Hanover, and Ferdinand's counter-attack towards Münden are described in our article French first attempt against Hanover (July 27 to September 6, 1761).
Broglie prepares another offensive in Hanover
On September 7, Broglie returned to Sülbeck to resume his projects against Hanover, pushing his reserve on Gandersheim (today Bad Gandersheim). Meanwhile, Stainville took position between Kassel and the Diemel with 35 bns and 33 sqns. The same day, the Hereditary Prince established his headquarters at Bockeim (probably Beckum) near Hamm, facing Soubise who was still posted on the other side of the Lippe. Meanwhile, Wutginau passed the Weser, marched to Scharfoldendorf and Mansberg, and took position in the wood of Sollingen. Ferdinand remained in his camp at Bühne. Broglie’s positions were as follows:
- Prince Xavier with the Reserve at Greene and Einbeck
- Broglie’s main army at Sülbeck with a large detachment before its right and another before its left near Moringen
- a corps near Göttingen
- a smaller corps between Göttingen and Münden to cover the lines of communication
- Lieutenant-general Stainville’s corps (36 bns) at Grebenstein facing the Diemel.
By September 8, the Maréchal de Broglie considered that the forces under M. de Stainville on the Diemel were sufficient to guard the entrenched camp of Kassel and the communications between this place and Münden. Accordingly, Broglie planned to launch an offensive in Hanover after reinforcing Belzunce to face Luckner.
On September 9, the vanguard of M. de Closen made a junction with Belzunce's corps at Clausthal while Broglie main army reached Sülbeck.
In the night of September 9 to 10, on the Lower-Rhine, Captain de Wandermesch, at the head of French scouts and chasseurs surprised and captured the III./Légion Britannique and some Hessian hussars between Lünen and Werne. He brought back 600 men and 4 officers as prisoners along with 130 horses and 1 gun.
On September 10, M. de Closen marched from Clausthal to Seesen.
On September 11, Broglie marched from Sülbeck to Einbeck with the French main army, encamping on the heights in front of this town. His cavalry occupied the plain between these heights and the Ilme. The main French army then remained in these positions till November. Broglie's reserve under Prince Xavier adavanced to Gandersheim; Vaubécourt, Scharzfeld; Saint-Victor, Clausthal; Stainville, Grebenstein; Maupéou, Asche; and Closen at Altgandersheim to attack Wutginau, forcing the latter to retire under the protection of the guns of Hameln. Closen then advanced to Goslar. The same day, Caraman surprised Mansberg's detachment in the wood of Sollingen. The Allied corps of Wutginau retired from Scharfeldendorf (present-day Eschershausen). Ferdinand then resolved to make a new diversionary attack in Hessen. The same day on the Lower-Rhine, the Prince de Condé marched from Dorsten to Recklinghausen.
On September 12, M. de Chabot reached Stadtoldendorf (or Scharfeldendorf). The same day on the Lower-Rhine, leaving 3 bns at Hamm under Oheim and 3 bns to reinforce the garrison of Münster, the Hereditary Prince marched towards Warburg at the head of 14 rgts to make a junction with the main Allied army. On his way, he was reinforced by 2 bns from the garrison of Lippstadt. Soubise's army reached Recklinghausen after a brief engagement against the Hereditary Prince.
On September 13, the maréchal de Broglie sent M. de la Rosière ahead to reconnoitre the Allied position. The latter came to contact with an advanced guard at Naensen and charged it. However this advanced guard was supported by 4 bns. De la Rosière imformed M. de Caraman who obtained 3 bns of grenadiers and chasseurs as reinforcements.
On September 14 at midnight, Caraman took position on the heights behind Naensen. He then immediately launched an attack with his dragoons, his cavalry, the Volontaires d'Austrasie and the battalion of grenadiers and chasseurs of Castellas Infanterie. These troops reached the Allied positions undetected. The Allies, although surprised, opposed a strong resistance, losing 3 guns, a colour and 600 men taken prisoners. Meanwhile, informed of the arrival of a Prussian corps at Wolfenbüttel and of Luckner's retreat to Hildesheim, the maréchal the Broglie ordered M. de Closen to march to Seesen. M. de Saint-Victor advanced to Clausthal to hold the passage of the Hartz and establish communication with M. de Vaubécourt. The same day, Ferdinand detached the prince of Anhalt to Langenthal; Hardenberg to Herstelle; and Wutginau to Beverungen.
On September 16, the British Guards made a junction with the main Allied army. Meanwhile, the Hereditary Prince reached Büren; Wangenheim, Körbecke and Lamerden; and Wutginau took position between Herstelle and Langenthal. The same day, French detachments posted at Seesen and Gandersheim pushed forward advanced parties towards Hanover, Hildesheim and Wolfenbüttel. These parties exacted large contributions. The Allies immediately sent some battalions to reinforce the garrison of Hanover.
On September 17, Stainville retired from Grebenstein, taking position behind this town with his right at Immenhausen and his left at Wilhelmsthal, and leaving M. de Talaru at Sababurg. Meanwhile, taking advantage of the absence of the Hereditary Prince, Soubise threw detachments under Conflans and Cambefort into East-Frisia. He then marched with his main body on Coesfeld by Recklinghausen to support these detachments and sent the Prince de Condé to Haltern to threaten Münster. The same day, the Hereditary Prince finally reached Warburg on the Diemel. At 11:00 PM, Ferdinand marched with the corps posted along the Diemel to cross that river near Sielen while the Hereditary Prince did the same at Warburg, and Granby at Liebenau. They then halted till daybreak. The same day, Luckner passed the Weser at Hameln and Colonel Freytag took post at Halle. The same day, a detachment of Closen's corps attacked and routed two Prussian dragoon rgts at Osterwich (unidentified location), capturing 60 prisoners, among which several officers. Meanwhile, M. de Vaubécourt destroyed several magazines at Nordhausen.
Ferdinand counter-attacks towards Kassel
On September 18, the Allies resumed their march by Hofgeismar towards Immenhausen and Hohenkirchen. Anhalt and Wutginau marched to Holzhausen, Hardenberg to the end of the forest of Rheinhartswald, and the Hereditary Prince drove back light troops from the wood of Wilhelmsthal and advanced to Obervellmar. Stainville, who was posted at Hohenkirchen with a large French corps, retired 6 km in good order to an advantageous position upon the approach of the Allies. However, the arrival of the Allied artillery and the advancing columns induced Stainville to retreat, pursued by 15th Elliot's Light Horse and Allied hussars. Stainville and his corps finally took refuge in his entrenchments on the Kratzenberg near Kassel while the Allies encamped at Obervellmar. These Allied manoeuvres forced Broglie to put a stop to his advance. Stainville then sent M. de Rochechouart with 2 brigades to Münden and asked Broglie for a reinforcement of 10 bns. During the night, Stainville also sent 2 bns to M. de Talaru posted at Sutzelberg (unidentified location). However, Talaru, attacked at Sababurg by superior forces, repassed the Werra, removed the bridge and took position at Lutterberg to cover communications between Kassel and Münden. The same day, the Allies encamped with their left at Simmershausen and their right at Harleshausen, pushing reconnaissance parties up to the cascade near Kassel while the Hereditary Prince advanced an infantry corps and light troops to Breitenbach, his hussars reaching Oberzwehren and Niederzwehren. Still the same day on the Lower Rhine, Soubise passed the Lippe in 3 columns with his army and established his headquarters at Haltern, sending the Prince de Condé forward towards Münster.
In the night of September 18 to 19, M. de Thianges, at the head of 2 dragoon rgts and Chamborant Hussards, was sent to Gudensberg to guard the passage of the Eder and the gorge of Breitenbach. Rochechouart reached Münden with his 2 brigades. Talaru guarded Lutterberg with 6 volunteer bns, Apchon|Nicolaï Dragons and 1 cavalry brigade. Meanwhile, Broglie sent Castella brigade to Münden with M. de Diesbach and detached a strong corps (3 cavalry brigades, 7 infantry brigades, the Carabiniers and lots of artillery) from Einbeck to reinforce M. de Maupéou at Asche so that his corps would be strong enough to enter into Hessen if need be. Broglie also instructed Prince Xavier to leave Gandersheim with the Reserve and return to Einbeck and to M. de Closen to retire from Clausthal on Osterode. Thus Broglie formed a chain of isolated divisions to defend the line from Lutterberg to Einbeck.
On September 19, the Maréchal de Broglie reinforced his left, distributing troops placed under the command of M. de Muy at Harste, Asche and Ellershausen. Broglie personally visited Harste. On the Lower Rhine, seeing that the Hereditary Prince had abandoned this theatre of operation to join the main Allied army, Soubise marched to Dülmen and pushed his light troops up to Emden.
On September 20, Ferdinand received intelligence that Broglie was marching to the relief of Stainville with a large corps. Ferdinand then decided to move to his right and to take position behind Hohenkirchen at Wilhelmstal while the Hereditary Prince marched towards Fritzlar by Dörnberg and the gorge of Helgershausen. The same day, Closen retired to Osterode; Guerchy to Harste; M. d’Espies to Lutterberg to support Talaru who was guarding the Fulda; Guerchy and Poyanne to Laubach and Hedermunden; Chabot to Holzminden and Beverungen; Caraman to Neuhauss im Solling and Fürstenberg; the Légion Royale to Herrenthal (probably Derental); de Muy advanced to Asche; and Maupéou to Uslar. Meanwhile, Broglie's headquarters were transported to Harste while he personally went to Kassel. On the Lower Rhine, Soubise advanced to Coesfeld, leaving Chevert at Recklinghausen with a corps (Maison du Roi, 2 bns of grenadiers and chasseurs, La Couronne Infanterie, Flandres Infanterie, Horion Infanterie, Bouillon Infanterie, Conti Cavalerie, Preysac Cavalerie, Royal-Piémont Cavalerie, some dragoons and some artillery) while Condé reached Hortsmar and Voyer with 6 bns of grenadiers and chasseurs was charged to sent detachments under MM. de Viomesnil and de Comeyras beyond the Ems in the regions of Osnabrück, Tecklenburg, Lengerich and Diepholz.
On September 21, Ferdinand encamped at Immenhausen and Weimar. Allied light troops reached Gelnhausen. Meanwhile, the Hereditary Prince was at Fritzlar with 2 dragoon rgts, Malachowski Hussars and Ruesch Hussars while Kielmannsegg remained at Hoof with 4 cavalry rgts and 4 infantry rgts. The same day, the French defended the right bank of the Eder. Thianges signalled the arrival of the Hereditary Prince at the gorge and Breitenbach and then retired on Homberg in Hessen where he made a junction with Rochambeau's corps. The Maréchal de Broglie reinforced Rochambeau with 6 sqns and 2 grenadier bns and ordered M. de Closen at Ostenrode to march on Wolfenbüttel.
On September 22, MM. de Maupéou, de Caraman and de Vallière advanced to the Weser. Meanwhile, M. de Verteuil launched an attack on the cascade of Wehlheiden near Kassel, capturing some British troops. Furthermore, a party of 400 French attacked a detachment of 105 Highlanders defending Winterkasten. After a brave and obstinate defence, the Highlanders were obliged to surrender. In the evening a feu de joye was fired in the Allied camp to celebrate the coronation of George III. The same day on the Lower Rhine, the Marquis de Conflans, who had been detached by Soubise with 3,000 irregulars into the country of East Frisia, took possession of Leer, Weener and Jemgum and plundered them before marching to Emden.
On September 24, the Hereditary Prince, who had been detached over the Eder by Fritzlar, encamped at Holzdorf (probably Halsdorf) at 22 km from Marburg, pushing his light troops forward as far as Butzbach. And thus cutting the French communications on that side. The same day, Broglie finally resolved to repass the Weser towards Höxter to attack Spörcken and other Allied detachments. However, he heard that these detachments had recently been reinforced and abandoned his project. In the morning of the same day, a body of about 7,500 French with numerous artillery under the command of General Closen unexpectedly appeared before the city of Wolfenbüttel. Closen summoned General Stammer, the commander of the garrison (2,000 men), and on his refusal cannonaded and bombarded the town very briskly for 4 hours. However at 3:00 PM, informed that General Luckner was in full march to relieve Wolfenbüttel, Closen retired by Hornburg.
During this period on the Lower Rhine, M. de Viomesnil at the head of the Volontaires de Soubise and the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince burnt several magazines in the County of Dinklage. He also burnt a large magazine at Osnabrück.
On September 25, the garrison of the castle of Scharzfeld in Hartz, now short of ammunition, surrendered to M. de Vaubécourt after a brave defence. Vaubécourt made 367 soldiers (mostly invalids) and 18 officers prisoners of was and captured 4 guns. Broglie then ordered to dismantle and to blow up the castle. The same day in East Frisia, M. de Conflans, at the head of his light troops, summoned Emden to surrender. The inhabitants refused to join the garrison (200 British invalids) in the defence of the place who surrendered. The French threw a garrison of 800 men in Emden. The city of Osnabrück was also occupied by another French party who carried a bounty of 112 wagons to Wesel.
On September 26, the Hereditary Prince moved closer to the main Allied army by Hoof and Zierenberg.
The French incursions in East Frisia had allowed them to destroy large quantities of forage. After the capture of Osnabrück, M. de Wurmser advanced on Bremen, opposed only by Scheiter's corps. General Oheimb was then sent to the rescue of Bremen and Hoya.
At the end of September, the peasants of East Frisia revolted against the French, forcing M. de Conflans to regroup his corps in Emden and then to retire to Leer with hostages and contributions. The peasants even attacked Conflans at Leer but were soon dispersed losing about 100 men. Soubise immediately sent M. de Wurmser to reinforce Conflans and to allow him to retire while the Prince de Condé also sent 1 bn and 400 grenadiers for the same purpose. M. de Wurmser re-established order and secured Emden.
Soubise then asked Versailles for orders concerning the occupation of Emden during the coming winter and was instructed to retire from this advanced position.
On September 30, Soubise decided to send the Prince de Condé against Meppen in an attempt to capture the town, hoping to draw Ferdinand's attention so that he would retire from Hesse. Condé, marching along the right bank of the Ems, appeared in front of Meppen with a strong detachment (Orléans and Condé infantry brigades, the battalion of grenadiers and chasseurs of the Gardes, 200 horse, 300 dragoons and 260 men of the Dragons Chasseurs de Conflans) while his artillery, escorted by 1 grenadier battalion, arrived following the left bank. In the evening, Condé opened the trenches.
When the Maréchal de Broglie realised that Ferdinand of Brunswick did not intend to retreat, he changed his plans and decided to concentrate his efforts against the Allied camp at Höxter which he planned to attack on October 2.
On October 1, Ferdinand sent off the heavy baggage to Kalle and the Hereditary Prince returned from his expedition on the Eder to Hof.
On October 2 at 11:00 PM, the Allied army decamped from Wilhelmstal and marched to Breuna. Meanwhile, the Hereditary Prince and General Hardenberg were detached with a large corps towards the Lower Rhine to drive the French from the bishopric of Münster and the country of East Frisia. The same day, the Maréchal de Broglie marched on Uslar. He also sent back the troops posted between Kassel and Münden to the banks of the Weser. Broglie could now consider operations in Hanover and Brunswick. On his arrival, Broglie reconnoitred the banks of the Weser from Lippoldsberg to Höxter. He spotted three small Allied camps: two on the heights on both sides of Höxter and a third near Polle. From Karlshafen (present-day Bad Karlshafen) to Höxter, the banks of the Weser were free of Allied troops.
In the night of October 2 to 3, 600 French came in wagons to the gates of the new town of Bremen, intending to surprise it. At 1:00 AM, the Allied garrison put themselves under arms, preventing the French from entering the town.
On October 3, Broglie returned to Uslar. The same day, the Hereditary Prince and Hardenberg marched to Volkmissen (more probably Volkmarsen).
On October 4 on the Lower Rhine, the Allied garrison (500 men) of the town of Meppen capitulated to the Prince de Condé and were taken prisoners of war. Condé then returned to the army, leaving a small garrison to remove the artillery captured in the town and then to raze the fortifications. The same day, Wurmser failed to surprise the city of Bremen and was forced to retire.
The last phase of the campaign is described in the following article:
- French and Allied last operations (October 6 to December 31, 1761) describing Prince Xavier's operations against Wolfenbüttel and Braunschweig, Ferdinand's offensive on Einbeck, and the winter-quarters of each army.
This article is essentially a compilation of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Fortescue, J. W.; A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 524-527, 531-534
- 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. 203-240
- 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. 187-238