1758 - Russian invasion of East Prussia

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1758 - Russian invasion of East Prussia

The campaign lasted from January to June 1758

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In September 1757, a few weeks after its victory at Gross-Jägersdorf, the Russian army of Field Marshal Stepan Fiodorovitch Apraxin, despite Lieutenant-General Sibilsky's advice, retired and went into winter-quarters in Courland, Livonia and Poland. Only a small Russian corps of some 11,000 men was left behind in the area of Memel (present-day Klaipėda). Sibilsky left the army and went to Warsaw from where he wrote to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna.

Frederick II was convinced that Chancellor Bestuzhev (Alexey Bestuzhev-Ryumin) had intervened in the course of the Russian army movements because he had stood in British pay and had also been concerned that Frederick might publish a letter found in Dresden which exposed the Chancellor in the most severe manner.

The Russian Empress, was extremely displeased at the retreat of her army from Prussia. She ordered an inquiry on Apraxin's conduct. The command of the Russian army was transferred to General Villim Vilimovich Fermor, while Apraxin was cited before a court at Narva. The inquiry revealed that Apraxin had acted upon Chancellor Bestuzhev's instruction. The chancellor was immediately disgraced.

On November 1, General-in-Chief Fermor arrived at Memel to replace Apraxin as commander-in-chief of the Russian army. He found the army still on the march to its winter-quarters in Courland and Samogitia, having been delayed by poor road conditions. With great energy, Fermor immediately set about to bring back the severely impeded army into good conditions for the incoming campaign. His first priority was to bring back his field units to full strength. For this purpose, men of the third bns were transferred to the two field bns and to the two grenadier coys of their respective regiment. But due to the high sickness rate, even this measure did not allow to re-establish these units to full strength.

In the previous campaign, the artillery train had enormously suffered and Fermor paid a particular attention to this arm but it proved to be very difficult to get new horses.

Fermor zealously ensured the fast delivery of new and warmer clothing as well as the completion of the equipment. But all his measures were made more difficult, if not unfeasible, by the great extent of the Russian quarters, bad communications, long distances, and the lack of means of transport.

Although Fermor already knew about Lehwaldt’s retreat at the beginning of November, he first wanted to give his troops a much needed rest and to reorganize them as planned, before resuming operations.

By decree of November 5, Frederick absolved the officials, clergy, and magistrates of East Prussia, who had been forced to swear allegiance to the Russians, of the oath they had given them.

Preparation - Copyright: Kronoskaf

After its retreat, parts of the Russian army was stationed in Samogitia and in the region of Memel, while the main forces were in Courland, and the border with East Prussia was only weakly occupied. It soon became known that the army had almost completely disintegrated and was struggling with the greatest difficulties to reorganize and complement its units. Furthermore, troops in Samogitia had problems procuring enough provisions.

In East Prussia, after Lehwaldt’s departure, there were only both bns of Garrison Regiment Nr. 1 Putkammer under Lieutenant-Colonel Wobersnow to occupy Pillau (present-day Baltiysk) and the Citadel of Königsberg (present-day Kaliningrad). First-Lieutenant du Fay of Ruesch Hussars at the head of 40 hussars was also reconnoitring the frontier from Tilsit (present-day Sovetsk).

Du Fay was assisted by a strong command of Land Hussars, in fact forestry officers dressed and mounted as hussars, who served as support for a number of companies of the East Prussia Land Militia Battalion posted on the River Memel.

At the end of November, the Cossacks started to launch incursions from Prökuls (present-day Priekulė/LT) and Tauroggen (present-day Tauragė/LT) to get forage and cattle, also doing some plundering. The majority of the inhabitants of the threatened areas fled from the dreaded raiders, so that the small town of Russ (present-day Rusne) had to accommodate thousands of refugees. With insufficient housing, poor diet and increasing cold, serious diseases soon broke out, causing a great number of deaths. The situation was almost as bad in Tilsit.

In mid-December, the Prussians received intelligence about troop movements within Russian winter-quarters. However, the purpose and scope of these movements remained unclear, especially as many reports were contradictory: some announcing a forthcoming invasion of East Prussia while some others spoke of a general retreat. The alarm of the inhabitants increased as frost made roads and rivers passable.

Towards the end of December, the raids of the Cossacks increased. They repeatedly clashed with the East Prussia Land Militia Battalion and the hussars in the region around Tilsit and Russ.

On December 28, First-Lieutenant du Fay at the head of 260 men attacked some 300 Cossacks, who were conducting a raid at Grözpelken (present-day Griežpelkiai/Lithuania), 19 km to north-east of Tilsit. With 66 hussars, he put them to flight, inflicting them heavy losses.

In December, Fermor, who was still trying to reorganize his army, received orders from St. Petersburg at his headquarters in Libau (present-day Liepāja), instructing him to occupy East Prussia with the 1st Division which was stationed in Samogitia; and to prepare the rest of the army to follow this division as soon as possible.

The Government at St. Petersburg was eager to take advantage of Lehwaldt‘s retreat from East Prussia to re-establish the reputation of Russian arms, which had been severely damaged by the last campaign. Furthermore, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna had recovered from her illness and was now pressing for more active operations. Fermor had no choice but to obey these orders even though his army was not yet ready for a campaign. He decided to launch an offensive at the beginning of January with part of his army which would advance in two columns by Memel, and Tauroggen and Tilsit and would effect a junction at Labiau (present-day Polessk) before marching on Königsberg. After the capture of Königsnerg, he planned to assemble his entire army on the Lower-Vistula.

At the end of December, Fermor assembled 34,400 men to the north of Memel and Tauroggen. This corps consisted of the 2nd Division reinforced with parts of the 1st and 3rd Divisions.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Russian Army in January 1758.

For the campaign of 1758, the Russians had assembled a very powerful army consisting of 20 cavalry regiments, 32 infantry regiments, 4 grenadier regiments, 16,000 Cossacks and 2,000 Kalmyks, 70 howitzers, 6 mortars and 166 guns of various calibres. Furthermore, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna ordered the creation of an Observation Corps of 5 brigades of 4 battalions each. The effective strength of the Russian army was about 70,000 men.

At the beginning of 1758, Fermor still needed 10,000 men to bring back his units to full strength. However, these recruits would only arrive in a few months months. The third battalion of each infantry regiment would remain in Courland and Livonia and become a reserve battalion. The cavalry consisted of 4 hussar rgts, 2 sqns of Slaviano-Serbian Hussars (Shevich and/or Preradovich) and 1 sqns of Novoserbskiy Hussars (1st or 2nd) and 9 sqns of converged regular cavalry (the best horses of each regiment). Meanwhile, the rest of the regular cavalry was stationed at Wilkomir (present-day Ukmergė/LT) and Stolbzy (present-day Stołpce) on the Mid- and Upper-Niemen to replenish their ranks. All irregular cavalry had been sent back home, to the exception of 4,000 Don Cossacks, the Chuguev Cossacks, and a small number of Volga Kalmyks. To replace the discharged irregular cavalry, 1,000 men of the 1st Novoserbskiy Hussars (Horvat) and 5,000 Don Cossacks were mobilized and placed under the command of Major-General Yefremov; however they could not reach the theatre of operation before Summer.

On January 3, 1758, news from a reliable official arrived in Eastern Prussia that the Russians were assembling north of Memel, and that they would shortly march on Königsberg along the Curonian Lagoon.

The Russian army enters into East Prussia

The Russian army enters into East Prussia - Copyright: Kronoskaf

On January 6, Fermor‘s column set off from Memel.

On January 9, the Kammerpräsident Domhardt sent a report by courier from Gumbinnen (present-day Gussew) confirming that the Russians had advanced from Memel and would continue their march through Labiau to Königsberg; while a second column would cover the way towards Tilsit. Officials at Königsberg met for several day to decide on measures to be taken. Despite all indications already gathered, the invasion of the Russians surprised the officials who had refused to believe that they would do something serious.

On January 12

  • Russians
    • The Russian column marching from Tauroggen passed the frontier.
  • Prussians
    • An incoming letter of Councillor Kuwert from Russ, accompanied with a letter sent to him by the Russian commander-in-chief and a proclamation of the Empress to the inhabitants finally convinced the most skeptics in Königsberg.

During the advance of the Russian army, the authorities in Königsberg had managed to send to safety the coffers, valuables and important files to Danzig (present-day Gdańsk) under the supervision of the Prussian Resident Reimer.

On January 13

  • Russians
    • Fermor‘s column occupied Russ.
    • The Russian column coming from Tauroggen reached Tilsit.

On January 14, considering that the defensive works of Königsberg could not withstand bombardment, the government, in association with the magistrates, decided to send a delegation to General Fermor with the proposed surrender of the city, the university and the country. However, the senior officials did not want to swear the oath of allegiance to the Russian Empress.

On January 14 and 15, 2 bns of the Garrison Regiment Nr. 1 Puttkamer under Lieutenant-Colonels Unruh and Wutenau, respectively occupying Königsberg and Pillau, soon joined by Du Fay‘s hussars, evacuated these places and marched by Marienwerder (present-day Kwidzyn) to Kolberg (present-day Kołobrzeg) in Eastern Pomerania. They brought with them the best artillery piece of both places and made their ammunition unusable. Furthermore, to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, the government disbanded the East Prussia Land Militia Battalion.

N.B.: Garrison Regiment Nr. 1 Puttkamer would later be transferred to the island of Usedom in Pomerania.

On January 15, Frederick was informed of the march of the Russians into East Prussia. He sent back instructions to assemble the East Prussia Land Militia Battalion at Königsberg to reinforce the garrison. However, his instructions would reach East Prussia too late.

In mid-January, the Russian Observation Corps received order to march towards Grodno (present-day Hrodna).

On January 16

  • Russians
    • Lieutenant-General Resanov was ordered to take possession of the island of Russ.
    • Lieutenant-General Rumyantsev was ordered to seize Tilsit with another detachment.
  • Prussians
    • The Prussian garrison of Tilsit retired in time to escape capture.

The Russian army then advanced in 5 columns under Saltykov, Resanov, Lubomirski, Panin and Leontiev.

On January 19, the Russian army assembled at Rautenburg (a town of East Prussia razed in 1945 by the Soviet Army, it was located south-east of Alt-Seckenburg, present-day Sapowednoje). From this town, it advanced towards Labiau.

On January 20

  • Russians
    • The Russian vanguard under the command of Quartermaster-General Stoffeln arrived at Labiau. The same day, Fermor reached the town.
    • The vanguard of Fermor‘s Corps reached Kaymen (present-day Zarechye).

On January 21

  • Russians
    • The two columns of Fermor‘s Corps effected a junction at Labiau.
    • Fermor returned to Kaymen where he had already detached Brigadier Stoyanov with 3 regiments of hussars and Chuguevski Cossacks, Colonel Yakoblev with 400 grenadiers and 8 pieces of artillery and Brigadier Demiku with 9 squadrons of cavalry.
  • Prussians
    • The councilors of Königsberg sent a deputation to Fermor at Kaymen to implore the protection of the Empress of Russia.

On January 22

  • Russians
    • Quartermaster-General Stoffeln marched with the first line from Kaymen to Königsberg. The vanguard consisted of Chuguevski Cossacks, 3 regiments of hussars under Brigadier Stoyanov, 9 sqns of dragoons under Brigadier Demiku, and 8 coys of grenadiers with 8 pieces under Colonel Yakoblev.
    • Colonel Yakoblev took possession of Königsberg with some 800 foot. In the afternoon, Fermor and his staff, General Saltykov and the Russian and foreign volunteers made their entry into the place. In the evening, Fermor sent a courier to St. Petersburg to bring the keys of Königsberg to the Empress.
    • Fermor sent orders to General en Chef Browne, commanding the 1st Division, to advance from Tilsit to Insterburg (present-day Chernyakhovsk).
    • Fermor also sent orders to Lieutenant-General Prince Golitsyn, commanding the 2nd, to march his troops to the Lower-Vistula.

On January 23, the 4th Grenadier along with Troitskiy Infantry under Major-General Resanov garrisoned Königsberg.

On January 24

  • Russians
    • Major Vigand, seconded by Major Gerbel of the engineers and Prince Repnin adjutant of the Preobrazhenskiy Leib-Guard marched with 1 bn to take possession of Pillau.
    • Major-General Leontiev received orders to form the rearguard with his brigade along with Sibyrskiy Infantry and Novgorodskiy Infantry and to take his quarters in Labiau.
    • Brigadier Nummers marched to Labiau with Smolenskiy Infantry and Ryazanskiy Infantry.
    • Resanov was appointed governor of Königsberg.
    • An imperial manifesto assured the inhabitants of Königsberg protection and grace if they behaved calmly and obediently. They all had to make the oath of allegiance to the Russian Empress, but no one was forced to enter Russian service. Overall, administration remained quite the same as before, but a few Russian officers supervised Prussian officials. The only inhabitants who lost their possessions were those who had fled and did not return, those who had refused to make the oath of allegiance or those who continued to serve against the enemies of Prussia.

On January 25, the Russian army went into cantonments in and around Königsberg.

The Austrians were pleased to learn of the invasion of East Prussia but less pleased by the administrative measures of Fermor which suggested that Russia was aiming at territorial expansion. Count Esterházy, the Austrian ambassador in St. Petersburg was instructed to request that any further seizure of Prussian lands would only have to be done in the name of Empress Maria Theresa. The Russian government politely rejected this request.

Fermor’s forces could not remain for a long time in and around Königsberg. As soon as possible, Fermor had to occupy strong positions where he could assemble his army, and arrange and complement its equipment. The Lower-Vistula, between Thorn (present-day Toruń) and its mouth, was perfectly suited for this purpose.

With Pillau and Königsberg occupied, Fermor could now securely use the waterways from the Pregel River and the sea, through the Frische Haf to the Nogat and Vistula to supply his army.

Meanwhile, Empress Elizabeth had promised Austria to send the 30,000 men strong Russian Observation Corps, then stationed east of the Düna (present-day Daugava River), to support the Austrians in Bohemia and Moravia and in her eagerness she also wanted to have Browne’s and Golitsyn’s division sent to Nowy Dwor (more precisely Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki) near Warsaw and placed them at the disposal of Austria. However, Fermor considered that he could not afford to send away Browne’s and Golitsyn’s divisions without dangerously weakening his army and decided to detach only Dolgorukov’s Brigade from Golitsyn’s Division. This brigade would join the Observation Corps. Which was not under Fermor’s command.

On January 29

  • Russians
    • Browne set off from Samogitia with the 3 brigades of his division and marched by Tilsit, Gumbinnen, Rastenburg (present-day Kętrzyn), Gilgenburg (present-day Dąbrówno) to Graudenz (present-day Grudziadz).
    • After the departure of Dolgorukov’s Brigade, Golitsyn followed Browne with his remaining 3 infantry rgts, marching to Nordenburg (present-day Krylowo). Golitsyn then marched by Osterode (present-day Ostróda) and Strasburg (present-day Brodnica) to Thorn.

On January 31, being informed that Prussian troops were in the area of Elbing (present-day Elbląg), Rumyantsev sent 400 hussars to cut off the Prussian detachment and to take possession of the country.

At the end of January, the Russian Observation Corps set off from Wolmar (present-day Valmiera) and marched towards Grodno, on its way to Nowy Dwor.

On February 1, the Russians required 2,000 horses to the council of Königsberg.

On February 2, Browne was ordered to march to Schippenbeil (present-day Sępopol).

On February 3, Stoffeln marched to Marienburg (present-day Malbork) and other places on the Vistula with 500 men from the Serbskiy Hussars under Major Tockeli and the Chuguevski Cossacks under Major Bulazell. He was charged to reconnoitre the country, to procure provisions and to secure any pontoon that he might find on the Vistula. He also had to take dispositions to handle supplies along the Vistula between Elbing and Thorn.

On February 4, East Prussia delivered 500 horses to the Russian army.

On February 6, a further 500 horses were delivered to the Russian army.

On February 7

  • Russians
    • Major-General Schilling marched with 3 rgts of cuirassiers to Schirul (unidentified location), Olita (present-day Alytus) and, through Serrey (present-day Seirijai), to Oletzko (present-day Olecko).
    • Colonel Gaugrave marched to Kovno (present-day Kaunas) with 2 rgts of cuirassiers.
    • Lieutenant-General Prince Dolgorukov marched towards Grodno with 3 rgts of infantry to join the Observation Corps.

On February 10

  • Russians
    • Stoffeln’s hussars attacked a few Prussian soldiers under Captain von Diesfeld who had been left behind at Elbing.
    • Stoffeln captured bridging equipment (38 pontoons with all accessories) abandoned by the Prussians at Marienwerder.

On February 12

  • Russians
    • The heavy artillery (14 guns, 6 unicorns and 3 mortars) was transferred from Memel to Königsberg.
    • Stoffeln reported that he was now master of Marienwerder.

The entire Russian army was organized into divisions under the overall command of General Fermor:

  • 1st Division under General Browne assisted by Lieutenant-General Rumyantsev
    • Major-Generals Baumann, Schilling, Prince Lubomirsky and Manteufel
    • Brigadiers Demiku, Dietz, Berg and Stoyanov
    • troops
      • Cuirassiers (5 rgts)
      • Horse Grenadiers (5 rgts)
      • Hussars (4 rgts)
      • Dragoons (4 rgts)
      • Regular cossacks (1 rgt)
      • Infantry (16 rgts)
  • 2nd Division under Lieutenant-General Saltykov
    • Major-Generals Panin and Leontiev
    • Brigadiers Treyden and Uvarov
    • troops
      • Hussars (1 rgt)
      • Infantry (10 rgts)
  • 3rd Division under Lieutenant-General Prince Golitsyn
    • Major-Generals Palmbach and Manteufel
    • Brigadier Plemmennikov
    • troops
      • Hussars (1 rgt)
      • Infantry (10 rgts)
  • Observation Corps under Lieutenant-General Count Chernichev
  • Independent units

Some 2,000 carriages with horses were collected in East-Prussia to transport stores, provisions and forage. Using 1,500 of these carriages, the magazine of Grodno was transferred to Tilsit. General Browne with 2 brigades then advanced to Rastenburg.

On February 16, Frederick gave orders to Field Marshal Lehwaldt to detach one of his dragoon rgt to Stolp (present-day Slupsk) to observe the Russians and cover the frontier against potential raids. Lehwaldt chose Alt-Platen Dragoons accompanied by 40 hussars for this mission and placed the force under the command of Major-General von Platen.

On February 17, Prince Dolgorukov reported from Mitau (present-day Jelgava) that Butyrskiy Infantry and Pleskov (probably Pskovskiy Infantry) had begun their march and that he planned to reach Janischky (present-day Joniškis) on March 16.

On February 22

  • Russians
    • The Russian troops stationed in and around Königsberg set off on their march to the Vistula. Rumyantsev and Saltykov left their cantonments and marched towards the Vistula. Rumyantsev and Treyden marched directly towards Elbing with 6 infantry rgts; while Panin's Brigade advanced on Marienburg; and Leontiev to Riesenburg (present-day Prabuty) and Gardersee (present-day Jezioro Gardno).

When entering Polish territory, Fermor, issued an imperial manifesto to reassure both the population and the Government of Warsaw, explaining that the Russians needed to occupy some Polish lands and cities and promising the inhabitants every possible remedy. Nevertheless, Danzig, the most important Polish city on the Lower Vistula stubbornly refused to open its gates to the Russians. However, the occupation of Danzig was very important for the Russians because they had to transport large quantities of food and war supplies arriving by sea at the mouth of the Vistula. In fact, the Russian magazines established on the Lower-Vistula at Elbing, Marienwerder, Kulm (probably present-day Chełmno) and Thorn formed were prerequisites for all further operations. The Nogat and the Frische Haff alone were not very suitable to establish a supply line because their low water level required transshipment of the goods. Furthermore, Fermor also knew that the population of Danzig was generally friendly to the Prussians, and feared that it might favour Prussian endeavours against the Vistula line of communication.

On February 23

  • Russians
    • Quartermaster-General Stoffeln was on the march from Marienwerder to Danzig, after detaching Chuguevski Cossacks under Major Preradevilsch to Rastenburg and a party of hussars under Major Tockeli across the Vistula.
    • Resanov replaced Rumyantsev at the head of the 1st Division, the latter being assigned a new mission.
    • Saltykov was instructed to occupy Elbing. Treyden assumed command of the garrison of Elbing consisting of 4th Grenadier and Troitskiy Infantry. He was also responsible for Permskiy Infantry which garrisoned Pillau and Memel.

On February 26

  • Russians
    • Fermor vainly asked the Conference of the Highest Court in St. Petersburg for the authorisation to take Danzig by force.
    • Rumyantsev went to Stolbzy.

At the end of February

  • Russians
    • Fermor started to send reconnaissance parties. Major Tockeli with 150 hussars and Cossacks advanced towards Pomerania, reaching Bütow (present-day Bytow) and sending a few patrols up to Stolp.
    • The part of the Russian cavalry stationed at Wilkomir and Stolbzy on the Mid- and Upper-Niemen, had not yet managed to obtain the necessary horses. On his arrival, Lieutenant-General Rumyantsev finally decided to remedy the situation by forming 3 sqns with the best cavalrymen and horses of the 5 sqns of each regiment, to the exception of His Imperial Highness Cuirassiers and 3rd Cuirassier who retained their 5 sqns (contrarily to Masslowskij’s assertions).
  • Prussians
    • General von Platen was sent to Eastern Pomerania with his dragoon rgt to observe the Russian army.

The Russian army enters into Poland

The Russian army enters into Poland - Copyright: Kronoskaf

On March 2

  • Russians
    • The heavy artillery marched from Königsberg to Marienwerder where it effected a junction with Fermor’s troops.
    • Lieutenant-General Saltykov occupied the Polish fortress of Elbing whose former garrison retired inside Poland.

On March 4, Fermor arrived at Elbing.

On March 5, 500 cossacks joined the 3rd Division commanded by Prince Golitsyn.

On March 8, Fermor went through Marienburg to Marienwerder.

On March 9

  • Russians
    • Rear-Admiral Kaschkin reported that he had found 29 vessels and 64 transports at Memel. These craft could be used to convey supplies.
    • Tockeli, who was already at Mewe (present-day Gniew) and Neuenburg (present-day Nowe) across the Vistula with 235 hussars and Cossacks, reported that his reconnaissance parties had not spotted any Prussian units as far as Bütow in Pomerania and Komtsche (unidentified location) in Silesia.
    • The cavalry stationed at Marienwerder had to retire to Schippenbeil and Bartenstein (present-day Bartoszyce) for lack of forage.

On March 11, Browne‘s Division reached the vicinity of Graudenz while light troops advanced to Marienwerder.

On March 12

  • Russians
    • The lack of forage became so acute that each division retained only the horses absolutely necessary for transporting the artillery and supplies.
    • Browne had now formed a cordon along the Vistula and taken his quarters at Graudenz.
  • Prussians
    • Platen‘s detachment reached Köslin (present-day Koszalin). To hide his real strength, Platen divided his detachment in three columns near Ratzebuhr (present-day Okonek) and Neustettin (present-day Szczecinek). He then marched by Bublitz (present-day Bobolice) and Rummelsburg (present-day Miastko) to Bütow. Prussian patrols reached various places in Poland, where they received friendly reception from the inhabitants.

On March 13, Prince Golitsyn arrived before the gates of Thorn with 2 rgts and Colonel Derthen took possession of the town with 400 grenadiers. A redoubt was built to cover the bridge over the Vistula. Meanwhile, an envoy went to Danzig to obtain the possession of one gate of the place and of the outworks. His request was rejected.

On March 14

  • Russians
    • Golitsyn’s Division arrived at Thorn. The very inadequate defensive works of this city were immediately strengthened; while those of Elbing were improved.
    • Colonel Krasnotchokov and Major Tockeli received orders to patrol the Pomeranian frontier and to establish a cordon of guarded beacons beyond the Vistula to signal any advance by the Prussians.

Defensive works were also erected in the town of Dirschau (present-day Tczew) and Russian garrisons were left behind in the fortresses of Memel, Pillau and Königsberg.

On March 16

  • Russians
    • Prince Golitsyn was instructed to build a bridgehead on the other side of the Vistula at Thorn.
    • The Russian first brigade of field artillery under the command of Major-General Nothelfer arrived at Marienwerder.

On March 19

  • Russians
    • Fermor established his headquarters at Marienwerder on the Liva River. He then cantonned his troops behind the Vistula and extracted from Prussia all the necessary supplies for the incoming campaign. His army then remained in these positions until May 3.

After the arrival of Browne’s and Golitsyn’s divisions, the Russian army took new quarters with the 1st and 2nd Division in the area of Elbing, Marienwerder, Kulm, Deutch-Eylau (present-day Iława) and Saalfeld (probably present-day Zalewo); and the 3rd Division in and around Thorn.

While the Russians had been invading East Prussia, a small Prussian army, now under the command of Count Dohna who had replaced Lehwaldt, had been blockading the Swedes in Stralsund in Pomerania since winter and till mid June.

On March 25, Platen reported from Eastern Pomerania that the Russians did not seem to prepare an offensive in Pomerania but were likely to march towards Silesia. He estimated that Fermor was at the head of 30,000 men.

On March 27, Platen’s detachment occupied Stolp. Platen had left a small detachment of dragoons and hussars in Bütow. Platen’s measures to hide his strength worked so well that the Russians grossly exaggerated the strength of the Prussians. Fermor did not dare to send his patrols and reconnaissance parties very far, further reducing the gathering of intelligence. For his part, Platen soon found out that there were very few Russians units on the western bank of the Vistula.

At the end of March, the Russian cuirassiers stationed at Wilkomir and Stolbzy finally marched to Schippenbeil and Bartenstein where the temporarily converged cuirassier sqns previously serving with the army were reincorporated into their former rgts. Part of the surplus troopers of the cavalry rgts were transferred to the 3 infantry rgts of Prince Dolgorukov’s Brigade assigned to the Observation Corps; the remainder forming in the Province of Pskov, a reserve squadron for its rgt.

With the Vistula and the Frische Haff still frozen, it was difficult to transport provisions and supplies coming from East Prussia and from the Russian ports of the Baltic Sea to the magazines of Elbing, Marienwerder, Kulm and Thorn on the Vistula.

On April 2, Platen reported to Dohna that he thought that Fermor would only advance to the Lower Vistula, but that the Observation Corps, posted at Grodno, would be directed towards Silesia to support the Austrians. However, Frederick did not expect any Russian advance in Silesia before the end of June.

On April 4, Fermor started to assemble his army. Most of his hussar rgts and a number of Cossacks were transported across the Vistula and advanced towards Dirschau.

On April 11, Panin was ordered to cross the Vistula with 4 rgts. Browne and Saltykov exchanged their respective commands, Browne taking command of the Observation Corps and Saltykov of the 1st Division.

On April 12

  • Russians
    • Resanov took command of the 2nd Division. This division started to cross the Vistula at Dirschau. However, ice floes and flood delayed the establishment of a bridge on the Vistula.
    • Light troops under Major Jucka were detached from Panin's Corps at Dirschau to reconnoitre the Prussian positions.

On April 13, a deputation from Danzig arrived at Fermor's headquarters. They obtained assurance that no action would be undertaken against Danzig until formal answers would be made to their requests by the Russian and Polish courts.

On April 14

  • Engagement
    • Brigadier Stoyanov approached Bütow with a picked force of 300 men from the Serbskiy Hussars, Slaviano-Serbian Hussars and Chuguevski Cossacks. The Prussians immediately lighted their beacons and a detachment of dragoons and hussars was deployed in front of the town. An engagement took place where the Prussians were driven back into the town, 5 of them being taken prisoners during the action.
  • Russians
    • 4 rgts of infantry, 2 rgts of hussars and 1 rgt of cossacks crossed the Vistula and joined 2,000 Don Cossacks already posted there.

By mid-April, the Frische Haff and the Vistula were navigable and the Russians could begin to stock clothing, arms and supplies in their magazines in preparation for the campaign.

On April 19

  • Russians
    • Fermor was informed that Captain Prince Dadian had arrived at Königsberg with the 2nd column of artillery.
    • Count Chernichev reported that he had arrived at Grodno and was expecting the Grenadier Regiment and the 3rd Musketeer Regiment of the Observation Corps and that the other regiments would hasten their march.

On April 23

  • Russians
    • Rear-Admiral Kaschkin reported that his galleys and bomb ketch at Memel were in bad condition.
    • 2 rgts of infantry reinforced Panin on the Vistula.

On April 24

  • Russians
    • Fermor went to Graudenz and was informed that the Prussian General Platen was now stationed at Bütow with his corps.
    • On returning from his reconnaissance in Pomerania, Major Jucka reported that he had advanced almost to the sea without meeting any Prussian troops. However, he had learned that a Prussian rgt of dragoons was stationed at Stolp and some hussars at Lauenburg (present-day Lebork) and Bütow.
    • Major Tockeli with 300 hussars and Cossacks attacked a Prussian cavalry patrol near Bütow and then rapidly retired.
    • Stoyanov was sent to reconnoitre the country.

On April 27, Fermor finally received received the plan of the Konferéntsiya (Conference of the Highest Court) for the coming campaign. He was instructed to effect a junction with the Observation Corps between the Netze (present-day Noteć River) and the Warthe (present-day Warta River); and then to advance downstream along the Warthe into the Mark. Meanwhile, he had to cut communications between the Prussian troops in Pomerania and Frederick‘s Army. To deceive the Prussians, Fermor had to give them the impression, until the arrival of the Observation Corps at Warsaw, that he intended to invade Eastern Pomerania with his entire army. He also had to leave a sufficient force on the Vistula to protect East Prussia as well as to pin down the Prussian forces stationed in East Pomerania.

Fermor readily accepted the plan of the Conference. Concerning the Fortress of Cüstrin (present-day Kostrzyn nad Odrą), which was located at the confluence of the Warthe and Oder, he thought that he could simply invest it and bombard it with his unicorns because, without proper siege artillery he did not expect to be able to capture it. His real target was Frankfurt an der Oder from where he wanted to advance on Berlin. However, Fermor did not seem to intend to advance with his entire army into Brandenburg but rather to send forward strong detachments.

On May 1, the Russians finally established a bridge, protected by strong bridgehead, at Marienwerder.

At the beginning of May

  • Russians
    • Light troops established advance posts near Mewe and Neuenburg, maintaining mobile patrols along the Prussian border.
    • From Thorn, Cossack parties advanced in the direction of Posen (present-day Poznan) and Silesia.
  • Prussians
    • When Frederick heard that some Russian troops were operating on the west bank of the Vistula, he ordered Dohna to send reinforcements to Platen.

Russian spies reported that Lehwaldt was still in front of Stralsund with 18,000 men and that 20,000 Prussians were assembling in the vicinity of Lissa (probably Leszno) to cover Silesia.

The Russians could not resume operations before obtaining a large quantity of horses from levies in East Prussia, purchases in Danzig and replacements from Russia. They also had to get a new train of artillery and new field artillery.

If the Russians wished to advance into the hearth of Prussian territory or to join the Austrians in Silesia or Lusatia, they had to move through Poland. However, Poland was seeking to preserve its neutrality even though it lacks the military means to enforce its observance. Constitutionally, the Polish Army consisted of only 18,000 men. Furthermore, barely half was available because of the bad financial situation of the kingdom. In case of war, this standing army could be supplemented with units raised by the nobles on the model of a medieval army. However, these units lacked the contemporary training of a regular army. Thus, Russia was able to act at its own discretion in Polish lands, which in turn forced the King of Prussia to ignore the neutrality of Poland.

Among the Polish districts where the Russian army would have to operate, the lowlands of the Vistula were the most fertile. This region would serve as a meeting place and base of operation for this army. However, even this region could not supply the army for a long period, making it even more important to maintain a communication with the see.

By contrast, the sandy land on the borders of the Mark and Silesia was much less fertile and largely covered by bogs and swamps, even though it was well-suited to cereal farming. However, the peasantry, under completely lawless serfdom, had degenerated and did not produce a very rich yield. The pastures, too, since most of the meadows had been dammed, were only suitable for the less valuable livestock of the country,and were not very suitable for the large number of horses accompanying the Russians. In fact, the Russian high command depended heavily upon the goodwill of domain administrators, clergy, and nobility, who owned most of the land. Because of this situation, the provisions of the Russian army had to be mainly based on supplies from the Vistula; the Netze was not navigable at all while the Warthe was only partly navigable. Thus, supply had to rely on transport over land, made very slow by the bad, often deeply sandy tracks.

Of course, only a scant population lived in such a poor country. Often, there was not a single establishment for many km. The miserable villages and the small towns could not provide accommodations for men or horses. Bromberg (present-day Bydgoszcz), one of the most important town of the region, counted only 500 inhabitants. This was of great importance in the harsh climate of the country. The untidiness prevailing in all establishments caused and favored frequent epidemics, which are always terrifying. Therefore, the Russians did not consider Poland for long-lasting sojourn or even for winter-quarters.

Even in the Vistula lowlands, the Russians had to rely on the Prussian territory for accommodation and winter-quarters. The economic conditions in the region of Neumark, south of the Warthe, were considerably more favorable. But even this region was not prosperous enough to feed the whole Russian army. If they chose to operate through Poland, the Russians would encounter extraordinary difficulties. This became all the more alarming, as they were almost unaware of these peculiarities before entering this theater of operation, and were completely lacking in even a fair amount of reliable maps.

Eastern Pomeranian and the adjoining Province of Neumark were far better suited for a campaign, with a well developed road network, fertile soil, and a population of hard-working farmers. These regions could feed an army for a short period but, if one occupied Kolberg the only viable port in this area, additional supplies could easily be transported by sea. In its present condition, the small Fortress of Kolberg could not sustain an energetic and well led attack.

Thus Eastern Pomerania would constitute a good base of operation and would also be suitable for winter-quarters, especially if the Russians managed to capture the more important and strongly defended Fortress of Stettin (present-day Szczecin) to facilitate supply. Furthermore, if they could capture Cüstrin, the Oder offered an excellent line of communication to support further offensives. However, the approaches to this fortress were difficult because of its insular situation between two arms of the Oder and swamps.

The characteristics of this theatre of operation meant that East Prussia, with its access to the Baltic Sea, was indispensable for the Russians to get supplies. Indeed, they could not buy enough food in Poland and the long distances and bad roads made it impossible to get supply from Russian through Poland. Therefore, the Russians based their operations on lines of communication linking their army with East Prussia and the region of the Vistula. This also meant that the further they would penetrate into Prussian territory, the more their lines of communication would be threatened, making their operations very difficult. An action by the Russians beyond the Oder seemed to be only feasible if the Austrians and the Swedes, in conjunction with the Reichsarmee, were to pin down the Prussians, or if the Austrians would bring their main army close enough to cooperate with the Russians in battle. Without such a narrow cooperation, Russian operations were deemed to take a shaky course.

On May 12, the Russian army set off from its winter-quarters. Part of the army encamped near Dirschau on the west bank of the Vistula while the rest of the army encamped at Marienwerder and Thorn, on the east bank of the Vistula.

On May 14, the Russian Horse Grenadier and Dragoon rgts stationed at Wilkomir and Stolbzy set off to join the Russian army after receiving 3,000 horses from Ukraine.

Around mid-may, according to Frederick‘s orders, Dohna sent 200 hussars (from Ruesch Hussars and Malachowski Hussars, under Captain von Zedmar, along with Grenadier Battalion 2/G-II Nesse and 1 bn of Garrison Regiment Nr. 1 Puttkamer from Western Pomerania towards Stolp. Furthermore, a detachment of Alt-Platen Dragoons, which had been left behind in Mecklenburg-Schwerin along with 20 Land Hussars rejoined Platen.

On May 21, the Observation Corps marched from Grodno to Rynka (unidentified location) on its way to effect a junction with Fermor’s Army.

On May 28, Prince Golitsyn arrived at Bromberg at the head of the 3rd Division. According to the instruction of the Conference, Fermor had sent this division forward from Thorn to deceive the Prussians.

On May 31

  • Russians
    • Nothelfer reported that the Russian 4th Artillery Brigade, which was part of the 3rd Division, had crossed the Vistula.
  • Prussians
    • Platen was busy entrenching his army of 16,000 Prussians near Bütow.

The Russian 1st Division started to cross the Vistula near Marienwerder and encamped Münsterwalde (present-day Opalenie). Fermor intended to remain in these positions until the arrival of the Observation Corps. He wished that this corps would march by the shortest route to join him, but the march magazines had already been established along the road to Nowy Dwor.

At the end of May, Rumyantsev arrived at Marienwerder with the cuirassiers and a few squadrons of horse grenadiers. The field artillery was also ready to join various divisions.

Around the end of May, the Swedish military envoy, Major Baron Armfelt, arrived at Fermor‘s headquarters and exposed him the bad situation of the Swedish army. Overall. Fermor could not count on the active support of this army.

The Russian patrols sent south of the Netze reported that the region was free of enemy troops up to Posen and the Silesian border. On the other hand, spies in Silesia claimed that, after the capture of Schweidnitz (present-day Swidnica), Frederick intended to march to Pomerania with 40,000 men. Fermor did not attach much credit to the latter report. Nevertheless, he remained cautious, in case a strong Prussian corps might unexpectedly appear in Eastern Pomerania.

In the first days of June, the reinforcements sent by Dohna arrived at Stolp and Schlawe (present-day Sławno). Soon afterwards, Platen at the head of a detachment conducted a raid on Berent (present-day Kościerzyna) with no tangible results.

On June 1, Brigadier Demiku was promoted to Major-General and detached with 2,000 Cossacks, 3,000 hussars and 2,000 horse grenadiers from Rumyantsev's Corps towards the frontiers of Pomerania and Neumark (East Brandenburg) where he levied contributions.

On June 4, Prince Golitsyn reported that the 10 sqns of Horvat Hussars (about 1,000 men) had arrived at Bromberg.

On June 8 and 9, Fermor’s Army set off from Dirschau and Münsterwalde. Indeed, lack of food was forcing Fermor to march towards Konitz (present-day Chojnice) and Tuchel (present-day Tuchola). He left some 10,000 men of all arms on the Vistula at Dirschau, Marienwerder and Thorn under the command of Lieutenant-General Resanov. Meanwhile, Lieutenant-General Baron Korff replaced Fermor as governor general of East Prussia at Königsberg. Due to the creation of Resanov’s Corps, the Russian divisions were reorganized. Two divisions were formed of infantry, field artillery and a few cavalry units while a cavalry division was built around Rumyantsev’s former corps. Golitsyn’s Division remained in the region of Bromberg.

On June 9

  • Russians
    • Panin was ordered to quit his camp at Dirschau with his division and to march through Stargard (present-day Starogard Gdanski) to Konitz.
    • General Rumyantsev crossed the Vistula with a strong cavalry corps and encamped at Neuenburg.
    • Major Gerbel and 2 engineers were sent forward to reconnoitre the banks of the Netze River in the area of Konitz and Tuchel.

On June 10, the Russian army began to cross the Vistula. Indeed, the control of the Vistula was not sufficient to insure the steady arrival of supplies during a campaign in Brandenburg. The Russians first had to secure the Wartha River.

On June 12, Dolgorukov’s Brigade, the leading part of the Observation Corps, finally reached Thorn. This brigade was immediately reintegrated into the main army.

On June 14, Fermor’s Army arrived Rittel (present-day Rytel) and Tuchel while 2,000 Cossacks reached Konitz. Fermor initially planned to assemble his army near Konitz and then wait for the arrival of the Observation Corps. However, he changed his mind and chose Pakosch (present-day Pakość) to the south of Thorn as the assembly place. Indeed, Fermor considered that it would be too difficult to feed the numerous horses of his army in rather poor country around Konitz. He also felt that this position was too advanced in Pomerania and improperly covered.

In mid-June, the Observation Corps finally finally reached the region of Warsaw. General Browne was now commanding this corps but he was in Thorn waiting for its arrival on the theatre of operation. Neither Browne, nor the government, nor Fermor were reliably informed on the exact strength and condition of this corps. Furthermore, Fermor knew very little about the strength and positions of the Prussians in Eastern Pomerania and feared secret cooperation between Prussia and the City of Danzig.

In mid-June, when Dohna was informed of the arrival of the Russians at Tuchel, he ordered Platen to transfer supplies from the magazines at Köslin, Körlin (present-day Karlino) and Kolberg to Stettin. Platen and his troops then had to stay for a while near Köslin before retiring to Stettin. To support Platen, Dohna sent Frei-Infanterie von Hordt with picked hussars and some Bosniaken under Captain von Knobelsdorff from Alt-Damm (present-day Dąbie) by Stargard to Köslin. The threat to the Neumark also prompted Dohna to reposition the troops already stationed there. The VI./Garrison Regiment VII Lange was transferred from Frankfurt an der Oder to cover the grain magazines at Landsberg (present-day Gorzow Wielkopolski). The Land-Battalion II de Rège detached 2 coys and 2 battalion guns to reinforce the garrison of the small Fortress of Driesen (present-day Drezdenko) which consisted of a few invalids. The 2 other coys of Land-Battalion II de Rège remained in Crossen (present-day Krosno Odrzańskie). The Land-Battalion I Heiderstädt was in Frankfurt an der Oder. The Land-Battalion III Arnim and 1 sqn of Land Hussars (probably Land Hussars von Wangenheim formed the garrison of the Fortress of Cüstrin and reinforcements were expected from Berlin.

Meanwhile, Platen had moved his infantry to Köslin and Körlin and had temporarily taken position near Stolp with his cavalry to observe the movements of the Russian army. For the same purpose, he had also posted 100 hussars under Captain von Zedmar at Neustettin.

With Pomerania and Brandenburg both threatened by the advance of the Russians, Dohna was forced to abandon the blockade of Stralsund.

On June 16, Fermor sent Rumyantsev’s Cavalry Division from Tuchel to Konitz to screen the march of his army and to reconnoitre the area. Rumyantsev’s Division effected a junction with the Cossack troops already posted at Konitz. After this junction, Rumyantsev was at the head of 8,000 men (5 cuirassier rgts, 6 horse grenadier sqns, 4 hussar rgts, Chuguev Cossacks and 2,200 Don Cossacks). Rumyantsev had been instructed to send a strong detachment under Major-General Demiku into Pomerania. Demiku had to follow the border and then cross the Netze near Driesen before rejoining Rumyantsev’s Cavalry Division which would have meanwhile passed the river at Nakel (present-day Nakło nad Notecią).

During his raid in Pomeranian and Neumark, Demiku had to seize all horses and to levy all young peasants fit for service; and to send them to Rumyantsev.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Russian Army around June 17, 1758, after its reorganization.

On June 17, Fermor’s Army, now assembled at Tuchel marched towards Bromberg.

On June 18, the Prussian force under Dohna which was blockading the Swedes in Stralsund was recalled to oppose the Russian invasion.

On June 19

  • Russians
    • According to the orders received from Fermor, Rumyantsev sent Major-General Demiku at the head of 2,700 cavalrymen (1,000 picked hussars, 1,000 Cossacks, 6 sqns of horse grenadiers and 4 regimental pieces) from Konitz towards Ratzebuhr. Rumyantsev also detached troops to Bütow to make a diversion.
  • Prussians
    • Dohna encamped at Treuen near Loitz.

On June 20

  • Engagement
    • A skirmish took place at Ratzenbuhr (present-day Okonek). A Prussian detachment of 90 hussars and 20 dragoons, under Captain Zedmar, had been sent to reconnoitre the Russian positions near Neustettin. Zedmar was informed that a party of 60 cossacks operated in the region. He determined to find them. However, General Demiku had already spotted the small Prussian detachment and sent Brigadier Krasnotchokov and Colonel Datschein with 500 cossacks to cut it off. Demiku also sent Brigadier Stoyanov, Colonel Szoricz, Lieutenant-Colonel Tockeli and Major Folkern with a body of troops to support Krasnotchokov. The Prussian detachment was soon surrounded in a wood but managed to force its way out, being pursued up to Neustettin. During this action, the Prussians lost 20 killed and 1 cornet and 31 men taken prisoners. The Russians had about 30 men killed and wounded. The Russians then plundered the town of Ratzenbuhr.
  • Russians
    • Fermor’s Army reached Bromberg.
    • Golitsyn’s Division marched from Bromberg towards Pakosch.
    • General-Quartermaster von Stoffeln was sent forward to Pakosch with an escort. It soon became clear that the vicinity of Pakosch were unsuitable for the concentration of a large army.
    • From his prisoners, Demiku finally got precise information on the strength and deployment of Platen’s Corps.

Demiku, after laying waste the neighbourhood of Neustettin, marched through Draheim (present-day Drahim), Dramburg (present-day Drawsko Pomorskie) and Arnimswalde (present-day Załom) countries towards Brandenburg, plundering and scorching Eastern Pomerania and Neumark.

At this time, Major-General Platen's corps consisted of:

Platen detached Colonel Hordt with his regiment and 40 hussars to reinforce Driesen which was defended by only 200 militia under Major Schwerin. The rest of Platen's Corps then made a junction with Dohna's vanguard under the command of Lieutenant-General Kanitz.

On June 21, Fermor, who was still at Bromberg with the 1st Division decided to march towards Posen which was then designated as the assembly place of the Russian army.

On June 22

  • Russians
    • General-Quartemaster von Stoffeln left Pakosch at the head of a strong detachment of cavalry and rode towards Posen.
    • Demiku’s detachment arrived in front of Tempelburg (present-day Czaplinek) and captured Colonel von Kosel and a few invalids who were garrisoning the fortified Castle of Draheim. From Tempelburg, Demiku marched by Dramburg and Kallies (present-day Kalisz Pomorski) towards Woldenberg (present-day Dobiegniew).
    • Rumyantsev’s Division marched along the border from Konitz to Zempelburg (present-day Sępólno Krajeńskie) synchronizing its advance with Demiku’s movements. However, Rumyantsev did not march by Nakel as initially planned but went by Lobsens (present-day Łobżenica), Schneidemühl (present-day Piła), Usch (present-day Ujście), Czarnikau (present-day Czarnków) towards Wronke (present-day Wronki).
  • Prussians
    • Dohna ordered Platen to retire to Köslin, leaving only Zedmar’s detachment to observe the movements of the Russians.

On June 23

  • Russians
    • Rumyantsev reported to Fermor about the strength of the Prussian forces posted in Eastern Pomerania, putting an end to Fermor’s concern for a potential attack coming from these quarters.
    • The Russian 2nd Division, which had not yet received new orders, reached Pakosch where it waited for the Observation Corps which was marching by way of Thorn. The 2nd Division was finally joined by 9 horse grenadier sqns and 3 dragoon rgts as well as by Dolgorukov’s Infantry Brigade.

On June 25

  • Russians
    • General-Quartemaster von Stoffeln arrived at Posen. The Polish commandant in Posen, Colonel von Goltz, refused to admit armed troops in the city. Stoffeln sent strong reconnoitring parties along the Warthe towards Cüstrin and Frankfurt an der Oder as well as towards Silesia.
    • General en Chef Browne, commanding the Observation Corps, detached Major Karabanov at the head of 250 Don Cossacks from Thorn towards Lissa to reconnoitre the roads leading to Silesia and the passages of the Oder. Karabanov was also instructed to raise contributions and to collect horses and cattle.
    • Demiku’s detachment arrived at Woldenberg. Everywhere, the region was largely plundered, contributions levied and large herds of cattle were taken away.
  • Prussians

On June 26

  • Prussians
    • Count Dohna's army crossed the Peene, abandoning Pomerania to the mercy of the Swedes. Dohna was on the march towards Cüstrin. Meanwhile, the Russian vanguard had advanced to Meseritz (present-day Miedzyrzecz). Dohna still believed that the Russian army was heading for Silesia to make a junction with the Austrian army. When he heard of the Russian advance, he ordered Kanitz's vanguard to retire from Landsberg across the Oder. Now only a small Prussian force under Major-Generals Below and Ruesch remained on the other side of the Oder in front of Cüstrin. It consisted of the Grenadier Battalion 2/G-II Nesse and 500 hussars.
    • The garrison of Driesen (30 invalids under Major von Schwerin), which had recently been reinforced with 40 Land Hussars from Cüstrin and foresters from Neumark, evacuated the small fortress, as ordered by Dohna, and retired to Friedeberg (present-day Strzelce Krajeńskie).

On June 28, Fermor began his march with the 1st Division and the field artillery.

On June 29

  • Russians
    • Fermor's Corps arrived at Langgoslin (present-day Dluga Goslina).
    • Rumyantsev reported that one of his detachment had captured the Castle of Draheim and taken 20 men prisoners.
  • Prussians
    • Major Schwerin, who had been reinforced with 2 coys of Land-Battalion II de Rège, reoccupied Driesen with some 275 men and 2 battalion guns.

In the last days of June, Frei-Infanterie von Hordt reached Friedeberg.

On June 30

  • Russians
    • The main army received supplies and rested.
  • Prussians

When Demiku was informed of the return of the Prussians to Driesen, he marched along the Netze to effect a junction with Rumyantsev’s Division.

At the end of June, Karabanov’s detachment reached Lissa from where he temporarily advanced to Wohlau (present-day Wołów) and pushed forward smaller detachments along the Silesian border, mainly in the area of Glogau (present-day Głogów). Karabanov was spreading the rumor that a large army was following him, the Silesian authorities were in the greatest confusion, especially as the Prussian Legation Secretary Benoit had reported from Warsaw that a Russian column (probably referring to the Observation Corps) was marching straight from there to Breslau (present-day Wrocław). The Oder still offered some protection against the Russian light troops because all bridges had been broken off and all vessels and ferries had been brought to the left bank. However, in the long run, the measures would be insufficient to secure most of Silesia while still covering the line of retreat of Frederick’s Army which was operating in Moravia and Bohemia. Glogau only had a weak garrison consisting of 1 bn of Garrison Regiment VII Lange, half of which being formed of Austrian deserters. At the request of the commandant of Glogau, Major-General von Kurssell sent from Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Góra) a reinforcement of 3 bns (II./Alt-Kreytzen Fusiliers, II./Kurssell Fusiliers, Grenadier Battalion Burgsdorff) and 50 men of Seydlitz Hussars. In Brieg (present-day Brzeg), there was only 1 garrison bn to guard 2,000 prisoners of war. Schlabrendorff instructed Prince Lubomirski, who was currently raising his Frei Hussars Fürst Lubomirski in the region of Öls (present day Oleśnica), to reinforce Brieg with the 150 men already assembled.

On July 1

  • Engagement
    • Some 250 cossacks scoured the country around Driesen and plundered the neighbouring villages. A detachment of the Prussian garrison (40 hussars under Captain Knoblesdorf) made a sortie and killed 20 cossacks, losing 10 men in the action.
  • Russians
    • Fermor with the 1st Division encamped near Posen with the Wartha River in his rear and the town behind his left flank.
    • General Rumyantsev remained at Schneidemühl with his corps.
    • Demiku’s detachment effected a junction with Rumyantsev’s Division.
  • Prussians
    • Despite the fact that the Russian cavalry tried to screen the march of Fermor’s Army, Ministers Finckenstein and Podewils were able to report to Frederick that the Russians were marching on Posen. However, various reports suggested that at least one of the Russian corps would march towards Silesia.

In the following days, several skirmishes took place near Driesen between Frei-Infanterie von Hordt and Rumyantsev’s light cavalry where this Prussian Freikorps proved to be unreliable. Rumyantsev soon learned from prisoners and deserters about the size of the garrison of Driesen.

On July 2

In the night of July 2 to 3, Goltz evacuated Posen with the garrison (only 250 men).

On July 3

  • Russians
    • A Russian force entered Posen to garrison the town and protect the magazine.
    • Rumyantsev’s Cavalry Division crossed the Wartha at Wronke.

On July 4

  • Engagement
    • In the afternoon, Grenadier Battalion Burgsdorff and a detachment of Seydlitz Hussars (50 men), which had advanced from Köben towards Lissa, attacked Karabanov’s detachment near Zaborowo, inflicting some losses, capturing number of horses, and freeing the hostages accompanying the Russians. Karabanov retired to Schmiegel (present-day Śmigiel) while Major-General Burgsdorff occupied Guhrau (present-day Góra).
  • Russians
    • The Observation Corps finally assembled at Thorn after having been delayed by the high number of artillery pieces and wagons attached to it. Men and horses were in poor conditions. Browne decided to leave behind half his artillery pieces (50 out of 110), part of his ammunition wagons, his pontoon train, his field hospital and his entrenching equipment.
  • Prussians
    • Diericke arrived at Breslau with his 4 bns and a detachment of Seydlitz Hussars.

On July 5

  • Russians
    • Major-General Yefremov and Colonel Haakt, who were still on their way to Warsaw, were instructed to hasten their march with the Kalmyks and cossacks to join the army (they would finally reach Warsaw only at the beginning of August).
    • Resanov took position at Marienwerder to cover the magazines and to guard the passage of the Vistula.

The Russian army was busy baking bread and biscuits and moving supplies to the newly established magazines in Posen which constituted had a good place of arms and good locations for Fermor’s magazines during his operations in Brandenburg and Silesia. He finally decided to proceed to the invasion of Brandenburg.


This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763
    • Vol. 7 Olmütz und Crefeld, Berlin, 1909, pp. 53, 199
    • Vol. 8 Zorndorf und Hochkirch, Berlin, 1910, pp. 1-30, 36-38
  • Tielke, J. G., An Account of some of the most Remarkable Events of the War between the Prussians, Austrians and Russians from 1756 to 1763, Vol. 2, Walter, London, 1788, pp. 1-67, 72-87
  • Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 140-167, 232, 252-253, 262-264
  • Archenholz, J. W., The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 148, 156, 158
  • Carlyle, T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 18
  • Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 317-318

Other sources

Duffy, Christopher, various articles on the Russian army, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. X No. 2