1759 - Allied counter-offensive in Western Germany
The campaign lasted from August 1759 to January 1760
The crushing defeat inflicted by Ferdinand of Brunswick to the Marquis de Contades on August 1, 1759 at the Battle of Minden put a stop to the French offensive in West Germany. Since the Hereditary Prince had already cut the line of communication from Minden to Paderborn, where the French had considerable magazines, the French army was forced to retreat through countries where it had no subsistence.
The Allies now had the initiative and proceeded to a general counter-offensive in West Germany.
Allied Advance in Hesse
On August 1 at 4:00 p.m., the French army started to pass the Weser.
In the night of August 1 to 2, after burning its two wooden bridges on the Weser, the French army bivouacked at Bückeburg.
On August 2
- At 6:00 a.m., the Allied army deployed on the battlefield of Minden for rejoicing.
- At 9:00 a.m., Ferdinand summoned the town of Minden whose garrison (about 2,500 regulars and 300 light troops) surrendered at noon, becoming prisoners. The French had also left more than 1,500 wounded at Minden.
- At 6:00 p.m., there was a feu de joie.
- The Hereditary Prince, who had taken position at Quernheim near Kirchlengern after his victory at Gohfeld, received contradictory reports on the movements of French army and he returned to Gohfeld.
- Contades’ Army started its retreat towards Einbeck despite the proposal of the Duc de Broglie to cross the Weser above Hameln and to march towards Paderborn to make a junction with d'Armentières' Corps.
- D’Armentières, who was blockading Lippstadt, received Contades’ orders to send his artillery park, 10 bns and 1 dragoon rgt back to Wesel and Düsseldorf, and to make a junction with the main army with the rest of his corps.
- A French detachment, which was posted at Schwöbber to observe the Fortress of Hameln, retired towards Kassel.
On August 3
- Early in the morning, Ferdinand of Brunswick sent Lieutenant-General von Urff to Gohfeld with a strong detachment of 5 converged grenadier bns and 20 sqns (Hammerstein Cavalry, Hessian Leib-Regiment, Prinz Wilhelm Cavalry, Miltitz Cavalry, Hessian Leib Dragoons, Prinz Friedrich Dragoons, Finckenstein Dragoons and Narzinsky’s hussars). Urff was charged to support the corps of the Hereditary Prince and then to march by way of Herford, Lemgo and Lippspringe on Paderborn.
- The Hereditary Prince Hereditary Prince marched to Vlotho.
- Lieutenant-General Saint-Germain was sent forward to Hameln with 3 infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades, to screen the march of the main French army as it crossed the region. Lieutenant-General von Brunck had sent an Allied detachment of 600 men with 2 guns under Colonel von Fersen to Holtenden, north of Hameln, to harass the French. However, after a brief engagement, Fersen retired in Hameln.
- Contades' main army marched to Oldendorf, retreating towards Einbeck.
- The French heavy baggage retired from Rehme by way of Lemgo. Between Detmold and Billerbeck, an Allied detachment (150 dragoons, 250 foot jägers, 100 mounted jägers and 200 men of the Stockhausen Freikorps) under Lieutenant-Colonel von Freytag managed to capture part of it, including the baggage of Maréchal the Contades along with several of his letters. The rest of the convoy reached Detmold where it halted and took refuge in the castle.
On August 4
- Ferdinand’s Army marched from Minden to Gohfeld.
- The Hereditary Prince marched to Rinteln.
- Freytag marched in the direction of the Weser, as instructed by the Hereditary Prince, and crossed the river near Polle, north of Holzminden to follow, like the other Allied light troops, the retiring French army.
- The main French army rested for a day near Hessisch-Oldendorf, waiting for the artillery park to catch up.
- Saint-Germain with 3 infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades supported by Broglie's corps covered the army in the direction of Hameln, skirmishing with Allied light troops.
- The French did not realise that their line of retreat from Detmold was now open and the bulk of their heavy baggage remained in Detmold. The commander of the convoy asked d’Armentières for help.
- D'Armentières' Corps (19 bns, 18 sqns) lifted the siege of Lippstadt. D'Armentières sent away his heavy artillery and baggage to the Lower Rhine escorted by a detachment of 10 bns destined to reinforce the garrisons of Wesel and Düsseldorf, and set off with the rest of his troops through Paderborn, where he joined M. de Chevreuse. The latter had previously retired from Bielefeld to Delbrück, retiring his sick and his supply of flour. When Allied advanced parties had showed up at Herford, Chevreuse had sent all his artillery to the Lower Rhine along with a detachment of 10 bns and 1 dragoon rgt under M. de Maupéou.
- M. de Castellas, commanding at Wesel, placed 1 bn in Gueldern and Cologne and formed a camp at Xanten.
On August 5
- The main army marched from Gohfeld to Herford, threatening Contades to arrive ahead of him at Münden and Kassel.
- The Hereditary Prince reached Hameln around 5:00 p.m. and crossed the Weser with 16 bns and 23 sqns (about 15,000 men), including most of the light troops of the army to pursue the French army retiring towards Hesse.
- The Prussian Finckenstein Dragoons, along with 400 grenadiers belonging to Urff’s detachment, appeared before Detmold, while the rest of the detachment reached Lemgo.
- Contades sent Broglie forward with the Reserve (26 bns and 36 sqns) by way of Afferde, Harderode and Halle to cover the march of the army between Einbeck and Göttingen, to keep the difficult crossing of the Weser at Münden open and to protect Kassel where the French had their main magazines.
- Contades’ main army reached the vicinity of Bisperode.
- Saint-Germain’s Corps occupied the heights near Hastenbeck.
- D'Armentières' Corps continued his march towards Warburg.
On August 6
- The main army marched from Herford to Bielefeld.
- When Urff’s detachment appeared before Detmold, the part of the French baggage train and the 600 men who escorted it, which had taken refuge in the castle, surrendered to the Allies. The booty included the baggage and horses of Prince Xavier, as well as the the Saxon military chest.
- Contades' main army marched to Eschershausen.
On August 7
- Contades arrived at Oldendorf (present-day Stadtoldendorf) with the remnants of his army.
- D'Armentières arrived at Warburg and encamped at Oberlistingen. He took possession of a few passes in the country of Waldeck, including the pass of Warburg on the Diemel.
- The French garrisons of Münster, Dülmen and Warendorf destroyed the magazines in these places and retired towards the Rhine.
- Colonel Boyd was sent to Münster with a party of regulars, heavy artillery and mortars.
- The 2 Hanoverian grenadier bns, which had previously been posted on the eastern bank of the Weser, joined Urff’s detachment at Stukenbrock, bringing it to 7 grenadier bns and 20 sqns.
On the night of August 7 to 8, the French fought a rearguard action against Allied light troops near Einbeck.
On August 8
- The main army marched to Stukenbrock.
- Contades' main army marched to Einbeck.
On August 9
- The main army marched to Paderborn where it took 400 prisoners. The Allied managed to capture the magazines of Osnabrück, Bielefeld and Paderborn intact.
- Ferdinand sent detachments to recapture the passage of the Diemel at Warburg.
- Urff’s detachment joined the main army at Paderborn.
- Contades' main army marched to Parensen.
- Broglie's Reserve reached Dransfeld. After brief skirmishes, Broglie made himself master of the crossing of the Weser at Münden.
On August 10
- The Hereditary Prince advanced against Saint-Germain's Corps at Dransfeld.
- Contades reached the defiles of Münden, passed the Werra and marched to Lutterberg.
- Saint-Germain had taken post at Dransfeld to protect the passage of the French army.
- Engagement near Dransfeld
- Allied troops appearing on the heights, Saint-Germain formed 2 rearguard detachment:
- The Allies first moved against the rightmost detachment but Picardie and Belzunce formed in battle at the head of the defile, putting a stop to the Allied advance.
- The Allies then moved against Saint-Germain's Corps but the Auvergne and Aquitaine brigades attacked them and drove them back. M. de Muret, who was hidden with volunteers in the woods on their flank, pursued them for 30 minutes.
- Saint-Germain crossed the Weser on the following night.
On August 11
- The main army marched from Paderborn to Dalheim.
- The Duke of Holstein reached Stadtberg (present-day Marsberg on the Diemel River) with his detachment (Finckenstein Dragoons, Holstein-Gottorp Dragoons, Pruschenk Cavalry, Hessian Grenadiers (1 bn), Prinz Wilhelm Infantry (1 bn), Hessian Leib-Regiment (1 bn), Mansbach Infantry (1 bn)).
- Major-General von Scheiter advanced with his detachment (7 converged grenadier bns, Hessian Leib Dragoons) to Hardehausen, on the road leading from Paderborn to Warburg across the Weser.
- Colonel Boyd arrived from Lippstadt before Münster with 3 Hanoverian bns with 6 heavy artillery pieces. He summoned M. de Gayon, the French commander of the place and, on his refusal, erected some batteries and started the bombardment of the place. Boyd was later reinforced by 3 bns from Lippstadt. However, his force was not sufficient to invest the place and he finally retired to Lippstadt.
- The Allies captured a large field hospital at Paderborn.
- Contades reached the neighbourhood of Kassel, passed the Fulda and encamped on its left bank while Saint-Germain’s Corps remained at Lutterberg and Fischer's corps on the Upper Werra.
- Broglie's Reserve encamped at Obervellmar.
- The French garrison of Münster had evacuated the city, but soon reoccupied it.
During their retreat the French had been constantly harassed by the corps under the command of the Hereditary Prince. He had overtaken their rear-guard at Einbeck and captured many prisoners and much spoil. However, he had failed to stop the retreat of the main body and Contades had been able to successfully bring his troops back to Kassel, half starved, worn out by hard marching and utterly demoralized by indiscipline and pillage. Desertion had been very high among the Saxon troops and the German regiments in the French service. The Saxon contingent was sent to Hanau to recover.
|Order of Battle|
|Deployment of the French army in West Germany by August 11 1759 .|
On August 12
- After 6 consecutive marches, the main army encamped at Stadtberg on the Diemel River.
- Contades’ Army concentrated at Kassel.
- Saint-Germain remained at Lutterberg.
- D'Armentières marched from Warburg to Wolfhagen to cover the French left flank and protect communications with Fritzlar and Marburg.
On August 13
- The main army entered the country of Waldeck in an attempt to gain the French left flank.
- The Hereditary Prince took possession of Münden and Witzenhausen.
In the night of August 13 to 14, the Hereditary Prince passed the Weser at Bursfelde, leaving his light troops on the Werra and marched towards Wolfhagen to join Ferdinand's main force in its attempt against d'Armentières.
On August 14, Ferdinand and Holstein were encamped in front of Stadtberg and Wangenheim at Warburg.
On August 15
- Ferdinand marched to Kohlgrund, resolved to attack d'Armentières at Wolfhagen, to drive him upon the French main army and thus to force Contades to abandon Kassel.
- Several French rgts (d'Aumont Infanterie, Touraine Infanterie, Colonel Général Cavalerie, Marcieux Cavalerie, Vogüé Cavalerie, Condé Cavalerie, Mestre de camp Général Cavalerie, Talleyrand Cavalerie and Bercheny Hussards), who were too weak to serve adequately, were sent to the rear at Marburg along with the équipages and the sick. The cavalry rgts Royal-Étranger, Fumel, La Rochefoucault de Surgère, Poly, Noailles and Archiac remained with the army even though they had heavily suffered at Minden (each reduced to 1 sqn). The Corps des carabiniers de Monsieur le Comte Provence was also reduced to 5 sqns.
On August 16
- Luckner's Hussars routed a French detachment at Volkmarsen, 10 km south of Warburg.
- D'Armentières was ordered to stop at Ippinghausen. Leaving M. de Chabo at Wolfhagen with the Légion Royale, he established his camp between Balhorn and Altenstädt.
On August 17
- The French rgts sent to the rear arrived at Ziegenhain.
- Broglie's Reserve marched to Breitenbach to support d'Armentières at Balhorn.
- Confrontation near Balhorn
- The Hereditary Prince marched upon d'Armentières' position, forcing the Volontaires de Flandre and the Volontaires de Haller, occupying advanced positions in front of Naumburg, to retire into the woods towards Fritzlar; and d'Armentières’s corps on Broglie's Reserve.
- The II./Grenadiers Royaux de Narbonne under lieutenant-colonel de Flavigny, which had been sent to Naumburg to support the French light troops were forced to surrender to the Duke of Holstein.
- In the evening, Contades ordered d'Armentières and Broglie to retire to Fritzlar by the defiles of Breitenbach and Netze. The united corps of Broglie and d'Armentières totalled 35 bns and 50 sqns.
- The various Allied columns had not proceeded according to plan and d'Armentières had enough time to retire without great losses.
- The Hereditary Prince established himself at Wolfhagen and Holstein encamped on the heights of Naumburg.
On August 18
- Seeing his communications with Friedberg and Frankfurt endangered, Contades evacuated Kassel as expected, leaving Lieutenant-Colonel de Villeterque to protect the sick and wounded (about 1,050 men) who could not be transported.
- Contades retired in three columns by forced march, passed the Eder at Obermöllrich and Niedermöllrich and encamped in two lines near Zennern and the Castle of Weege.
- The Légion Royale occupied Fritzlar.
- The rearguard (3 infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades), under M. de Saint-Germain, remained on the left bank of the Eder.
- As instructed by Contades, d'Armentières and Broglie retired to Fritzlar. D'Armentières encamped at Heimarshausen to the left of the Eder and linked his positions with Broglie's Corps blocking the road leading from Wildungen to Zwesten and Kerstenhausen.
On August 19
- The Hanoverian Jägers under the command of Major Fridricks summoned the garrison of Kassel (about 400 men) who soon surrendered as prisoners of war. In this town, the Allies also captured more than 1,050 wounded and a large magazine.
- Ferdinand, while still pursuing his march southward, detached 7,000 men under the command of Imhoff to recapture Münster.
- Holstein's Corps arrived near Fritzlar.
- The rgts sent to the rear reached Marburg.
- Fischer's Corps sent detachments from Kloster-Haina towards Wildungen, Frankenau and Frankenberg.
On August 20
- The main army encamped at Korbach after marching by Hartholzen (unidentified location) and Mengeringhausen in the previous days.
- Allied reconnoitring parties were sent towards Frankenberg (500 foot and 30 horse) and Urky (unidentified location).
- Contades' main army marched to Gilsa.
- Broglie's Corps went to Halsdorf
- D'Armentières' Corps marched to Gilserberg.
On August 21, Ferdinand marched from Korbach to Fürstenberg.
On August 22
- The main army marched to Frankenberg.
- The Hereditary Prince took post at Heina where he was joined by Holstein's and Wangenheim's corps.
- Broglie's and d'Armentières' corps moved closer to Marburg.
On August 23
- Freytag attacked the Castle of Ziegenhain with a body of light troops. The governor of the castle capitulated after a defence of an hour with the 400 men of the garrison, who were made prisoners of war.
- The main army arrived near Marburg, encamped behind the Ohm River and established its headquarters at Großseelheim with his left towards Marburg and d'Armentières' Corps further left behind the Lahn towards Goßfelden.
- Broglie's Reserve took post behind the Lahn opposite Wetter where Fischer's Corps took position.
On August 24
- The main army marched from Frankenberg to Münchhausen.
- The Hereditary Prince moved westwards to Wohra.
On August 25
- The Hereditary Prince marched to Schönstadt, only 14 km from Ferdinand's positions at Münchhausen.
- The Maréchal d'Estrées arrived at Großseelheim to arbitrate the conflict between Contades and Broglie, who mutually accused each other for the defeat of Minden.
|Voices from the Past|
|On August 26, 1759, soldiers of the Chasseurs de Fischer occupy Wetter|
On August 26
- The Hereditary Prince advanced to Aumönau between Wetter and Biedenkopf.
- Saint-Germain's Corps joined Broglie's Reserve.
By that date, the entire French army in Hesse amounted to 49,271 foot, 3,500 light troops, 10,154 horse (no more than 100 men per sqn) and 2,128 dragoons; in addition to 3 sqns of Gendarmerie de France and 6 severely depleted cavalry rgts.
On August 27
- Ferdinand sent the Hereditary Prince and General Wangenheim to attack Fischer's Corps isolated at Oberwetter, a strong position in a peninsula on the Lahn.
- The cavalry of Saint-Germain and Broglie was placed in second line under the command of M. de Chevreuse.
- Contades detached d'Armentières to the Lower Rhine with 2 brigades and 16 guns. D'Armentières would then take command of a few regiments recently arrived from France at Wesel. The rest of d'Armentières' Corps was placed under the command of Broglie whose forces now amounted to 42 bns, 16 dragoon sqns and 35 pieces.
During the night of August 27 to 28, the Hereditary Prince and Wangenheim marched towards Broglie's positions at Wetter.
On August 28
- Engagement of Oberwetter
- In the morning, Wangenheim's troops managed to climb a steep height on the left flank and to launch a surprise attack on Fischer's Corps (about 2,000 men) at Oberwetter.
- Most of Fischer's corps escaped but 50 men were killed and 350 were taken prisoners.
- Colonels Harvey and Beckwith at the head of some British cavalry distinguished themselves in this action.
- Fischer's Corps withdrew towards Marburg.
- The Hereditary Prince then took position at Wetter, opposite Broglie's Corps.
On August 29
- The main army marched from Münchhausen and encamped between Mellnau and Amönau near Wetter.
- Imhoff opened the trenches in front of Münster.
- Broglie retired behind the Lahn and marched towards Giessen with one of Saint-Germain's brigade on the road of Kirchhain to maintain his communications with the main army. He also threw Fischer's Corps into Marburg.
On August 30
By August 31, the French army counted 128 bns and 136 sqns in Germany:
- d'Armentières' corps: 11 bns, 4 sqns
- garrisons in Wetteravia: 15 bns, supported by 19 cavalry sqns
- Fitzjames' Corps: 14 sqns
- Andlau's Corps: 6 sqns
- main army between Amöneburg and Marburg
- Nicolaï's Corps (first line): 33 bns
- Noailles' corps (second line): 37 bns
- reserve of infantry, under M. de Saint-Pern: 11 bns, 19 sqns, 6 sqns of Bercheny Hussards
- Duc de Brissac's corps: 14 sqns
- Dumesnil's Corps: 8 sqns
- Duc de Broglie's Reserve at Holzhausen: 18 bns, 31 sqns, 4 sqns of Royal-Nassau
- reserve of cavalry, under M. de Poyanne: 18 sqns
- reserve of dragoons, under the Duc de Chevreuse: 16 sqns
- artillery under M. Pelletier: 3 bns
- Chabot's Corps: 6 sqns of Turpin Hussards, Légion Royale, Volontaires de Flandre, Volontaires du Hainaut, Volontaires Étrangers, Volontaires du Dauphiné, Volontaires de Haller, Chasseurs de Fischer
N.B.: the Gendarmerie de France was so depleted that each squadron counted about 120 men.
On September 2, the Hereditary Prince and Wangenheim crossed the Lahn near Goßfelden and marched to Linhausen (unidentified location) on the French left. Leaving his corps to encamp there, he advanced with Lückner's Corps to Oberweimar where he surprised a French advanced post, the French lost 500 wounded and prisoners. Wangenheim occupied the post while the Hereditary Prince marched to Allna, sending parties to Hohensolms. The same day, Ferdinand moved Bevern's detachment (4 bns, 4 x 12-pdrs, 16 light guns) closer to Marburg where it took post on a height overlooking the Castle of Marburg. Meanwhile Holstein advanced to Schwarzenborn. With the Allies converging on Marburg, Fischer took refuge into the Castle of Marburg, supported by Saint-Germain.
On September 3, Imhoff's artillery opened on Münster with 3 batteries.
On September 4, Maréchal d'Estrées, considering the general situation, could but continue the retreat. Therefore, abandoning the line of the Ohm and Lahn, he quitted his positions between Marburg and Amöneburg and fell back towards Giessen, encamping that night at Mainzlar behind Lollar, leaving M. du Plessis to defend Marburg. Broglie's corps took position along the small river flowing into the Lahn at Lollar. The same day, Ferdinand pushed Allied detachments towards Wetzlar while Holstein's corps occupied the former French camp at Großseelheim. Still the same day, d'Armenttières arrived at Borken with 10 bns and some militia drawn from the garrisons of Düsseldorf, Cologne and Wesel.
On September 5, the Allies took possession of Marburg but the French garrison under M. du Plessis of Piémont Infanterie retired into the castle. The same day, in an attempt to relieve Münster, d'Armentières advanced to Coesfeld.
On September 6, the main Allied army marched to Elnhausen. Lord George Sackville left for Great Britain and the marquis of Granby succeeded him as commander of the British troops in Germany. The same day in the afternoon, with d'Armentières approaching, Imhoff was forced to raise the siege of Münster and to retire to Telgte.
On September 7, d'Armentières encamped under the walls of Münster. He received a reinforcement of 4 additional rgts from the main army. The same day, the main French army decamped from Mainzlar and encamped at Grossen-Buseck with its left at Schiffenberg, closer to Giessen, and its headquarters at Annerod, behind the Buseck stream. Light troops were thrown into the villages of Burkhardsfeld, Oppenrod, Grossenaltenbuseck and Wieseck. Broglie's reserve encamped at Münchholzhausen with its right at Dutenhofen and its left extending to Wetzlar.
On September 9, Bevern and Bückeburg opened the trenches in front of the castle of Marburg. By then, Ferdinand had divided the Allied army into 4 corps: at Wetter, on the heights of Marburg, at Weimar and at Langenstein.
On September 10, Ferdinand marched to Oberweimar with the main Allied army.
During the night of September 10 to 11, du Plessis surrendered with the garrison (39 officers and 818 men) of the castle of Marburg.
On September 10 and 11, the duke of Holstein quitted Frauenberg to join the Allied army at Niederweimar while Freytag advanced towards Lollar, Daunbringen, Mainzlar and Allendorf.
During the night of September 11 to 12, d'Armentières managed to throw some supplies in Münster, then quitted the neighbourhood of Münster and retired towards Wesel on the Rhine. After his departure, Imhoff, who had been reinforced, resumed the siege.
On September 13, Holstein repulsed the attack of a French detachment against his advanced posts. The same day, a cavalry corps under Beauffremont took post at Kleinlinden about 4 km southwest of Giessen near Broglie's position.
On September 18, Ferdinand encamped at Salzböden near Staufenberg. Hanoverian light troops marched to reinforce Wetzlar which was the target of a French coup-de-main but they were intercepted on their way and repulsed.
On September 19, Broglie made himself master of Wetzlar. The same day, Ferdinand marched to Krofdorf, a little to northwest of Giessen, near the French camp.. His army encamped with its right at Rodheim and its left at Wissmar, while Wangenheim's and Holstein's corps took position along the Lahn opposite to Wetzlar to observe Broglie's positions.
On September 20, Broglie (Champagne brigade, Belzunce brigade, Caraman Dragons, Turpin Hussards and Volontaires de Haller) took position on the heights of Wetzlar to prevent the Allies from passing the Lahn.
On September 21, d'Armentières marched from Wesel to Dorsten, sending detachments to Haltern and Unna.
On September 22, the main French army marched to Kleinlinden. D'Armentières advanced to Recklinghausen. The same day, Luckner's Allied corps undertook an expedition against Usingen where it captured the equipage and sick of the Royal-Nassau Hussards before retiring through Limburg.
On September 23, Imhoff received small reinforcements from Hanover then marched from Telgte towards Münster and invested the town. The same day, d'Armentières advanced from Recklinghausen to Lünen, sending an advanced party to Hamm. With the approach of this French relief corps, Imhoff had to abandon the siege of Münster once more and to retire to Telgte. The same day, Allied light troops under Lückner and Freytag arrived at Limburg an der Lahn. From this place, they launched raids against the French rear as far as Frankfurt, cutting communications between the main French army and d'Armentières' corps. Still the same day, Chabot was sent to Butzbach in Hesse. Chabot then remained in the area of Usingen with the Légion Royale and the Volontaires de Muret. A further 3 bns and 4 sqns were left at Friedberg to support Chabot.
On September 24, Imhoff's Allied corps marched to Ahlen.
On September 25, the main French army was deployed with its left at Kleinlinden, its right at Annerod. Other corps and detachments were deployed as follows:
- Fischer at Altbruck
- Volontaires de Hainaut at Wieseck
- Volontaires de Flandres et Volontaires Étrangers at Grossen-Buseck
- Volontaires de Dauphiné at Oppenrod
Altogether with these detachments, the main French army totalled 70 bns and 72 sqns:
- Broglie was at Münchholzhausen with 17 bns and 41 sqns
- Volontaires de Haller, Turpin Hussards (6 sqns), Royal-Nassau Hussards (4 sqns)
- M. de Poirail at Friedberg with 2 bns and 4 sqns
- M. de Chabo at Usingen with the Légion Royale
- Garrison bns (20 bns)
- D'Armentières on the Lower Rhine with 18 bns and 16 sqns along with the Volontaires de Clermont
N.B.: one of the 2 bns of Bouillon Infanterie had been sent back to France while 12 sqns under M. de Monteynard had been sent to the Lower Rhine.
On September 27, Schlenberg at the head of an Allied detachment (200 foot and 200 horse) advanced to Neukirchen on the river Solms where he surprised a party of Royal-Nassau Hussards and destroyed a large magazine.
On September 30, d'Armentières managed to throw some supplies into Münster.
On October 3, after receiving reinforcements (a large body of cavalry), Imhoff advanced towards Münster while d'Armentières retired to Nottuln.
On October 4, d'Armentières retired towards the Rhine, reaching Coesfeld. The same day, Imhoff blockaded Münster, forming camps at Dyckburg, Luckenlech (probably Lütkenbeck) and Kinderhaus. He received additional reinforcements (5 bns, 6 sqns).
On October 5, d'Armentières retired to Dorsten while Gayon, the French commander at Münster, made a sally and attacked an Allied camp on the road to Roxel.
On October 6, an Allied party entrenched at Homberg on the Ohm.
On October 9, d'Armentières advanced to Bochum while Imhoff marched to Dülmen with part of his corps to prevent the relief of Münster by d'Armentières.
On October 10, Ferdinand sent 6 infantry rgts and 2 cavalry rgts as reinforcements to Imhoff.
On October 11, Imhoff detached Bülow (light troops supported by some infantry) from Dülmen to Dorsten where he surprised French troops guarding the bridge and stormed the town while the French, closely pursued, fled towards Wesel.
On October 12, the two main armies were still facing each other: Ferdinand at Krofdorf and d'Estrées at Giessen.
On October 14, an Allied detachment (20 jägers and 40 grenadiers) guarding the bridge of Oberlimb (probably Oberlemp on the Lahn) repulsed a surprise attack by a French party (300 men).
On October 16, Ferdinand was granted the Order of the Garter by George II. The same day, a French detachment under M. de Boisclaireau sallied from Münster and attacked an Allied detachment consisting of 2 bns and 2 sqns, putting them to flight.
On October 19, Contades sent 2 infantry brigades (Waldner and Planta), 2 cavalry brigades (Orléans, Damas), d'Invilliers artillery, 200 wagons and Fischer's Corps from the army of the Mayn and an additional 6 bns to reinforce d'Armentières on the Lower Rhine.
On October 20, the reinforcements destined to d'Armentières reached Oberweisel (unidentified location).
On October 21, the reinforcements destined to d'Armentières reached Camberg (probably Bad Camberg).
On October 22, the reinforcements destined to d'Armentières reached Katzenelnbogen.
On October 23, Lückner with a party of light troops attacked a French post at Niederbrechen on the Lahn, killing 54 men, taking 71 prisoners and capturing 100 horses and 112 wagons.
On October 24, the reinforcements destined to d'Armentières left Katzenelnbogen and marched to Braubach and Oberlahnstein.
On October 25, while his reinforcements reached Weissenthurm, d'Armentières was at Bochum. His corps was deployed as follows:
- Volontaires de Clermont under M. de Commeiras at Dorsten and Marl
- detachment of Touraine along with Thianges Dragoons under the chevalier de Maupéou at Bork
- Beaufremont Dragons (3 sqns) under M. de la Chassagne at Castrop
- infantry and dragoon detachments at Essen
- Beaufremont Dragons (1 sqn) at Dortmund
- main camp at Bochum
- M. d'Argens with his dragoons and some infantry between Unna and the Ruhr
On October 26, the siege of Münster having gone ill for the Allies and been transformed into a blockade, Ferdinand sent reinforcements (4 bns, 4 sqns) from his camp at Krofdorf to Imhoff at Münster. Now, Ferdinand considered his main army too weak to attempt further operations until the fall of Münster.
At the beginning of November, the Allied artillery necessary for the siege of Münster finally arrived.
On November 1, Broglie arrived at Frankfurt after a visit to Paris.
On November 2, Broglie rejoined the main French army at Kleinlinden while Contades and d'Estrées were ordered to leave Germany along with all general officers with more seniority than Broglie. Therefore, Monteynard, Fumel and Cornillon were replaced by the count of Broglie (not to be confused with the duc de Broglie), Belzunce and Lameth. Broglie assumed full command. This nomination was not very popular among the commanders of the French army and caused the resignation of Chevreuse, Noailles and Brissac.
On November 3, Broglie instructed the duke of Württemberg to march to Gemünden with his contingent.
Around November 5, Broglie moved his cavalry forward to Butzbach.
On November 5, when he was informed that his heavy artillery had finally left Lippstadt, d'Armentières quitted Bochum.
On November 6, the planned reinforcements finally joined d'Armentières corps at Bochum. Meanwhile, d'Armentières had collected forage, raised contributions and sent detachments on Unna, Dortmund and Schwerte.
On November 8, d'Armentières marched to Dorsten, a better position to launch an eventual relief operation of Münster. D'Armentières then barracked his infantry and cantoned his cavalry in the area.
On November 9 and 10, the trenches were finally open in front of Münster between the Jesuits House and the Sainte-Égide Gate. Broglie informed Belleisle that it was impossible for him to spare any force to reinforce d'Armentières. Broglie then contented himself to extend his lines up to Camberg. He also ordered to keep bateaux ready at Coblence and Rheinfels for the embarkment of troops.
On November 11, the garrison of Münster made an unsuccessful sally, loosing 100 men. The same day, the Württemberger contingent arrived at Gemünden the duke sent his hussars on the Kinzig river.
On November 12, Imhoff launched an unsuccessful assault against the Sainte-Égide Gate of Münster.
On November 14, d'Armentières finally departed from Dorsten to relieve Münster. The same day, a detachment of the 87th Keith's Highlanders (3 coys) joined the main Allied army at Krofdorf.
On November 15, the Allied batteries before Münster were completed.
On November 16, the Allied batteries opened on Münster and its citadel. The Allies launched 2 attacks on Münster: one against the town, the other against the citadel, seizing 3 bastions. The same day, d'Armentières encamped at Haltern.
On November 17, d'Armentières encamped at Seppenrade, sending his grenadiers towards Lüdinghausen. Imhoff retired from his advanced posts at Appelhülsen to Schapdetten.
On November 18, Ferdinand sent 1,500 men to Wideleberg (unidentified location) on the road to Cologne to threaten d'Armentières' rear. The Hereditary Prince at the head of 8 bns reinforced Imhoff at Münster. D'Armentières advanced on Senden, just 18 km south of Münster. Imhoff's advanced posts retired once more from Schapdetten to Roxel.
On November 19 and 20, the Württemberger contingent (about 10,000 men), led personally by the duke, arrived at Fulda and took up its quarters to assist the French army. Meanwhile, Broglie had sent 500 hussars under the command of brigadier Nordman towards Hersfeld and the Royal-Nassau Hussards on the Kinzig to support the manoeuvre of the duke of Württemberg. Broglie also sent 9 Saxon bns from Hanau to Aschaffenburg to cover the line of retreat of the Württemberger contingent. Thus strengthened, Broglie vainly tried in the following days to interrupt Ferdinand's communications with Kassel with a detached corps of 20,000 men.
During the night of November 19 to 20, part of d'Armentières' corps under Fischer attacked the village and castle of Albachten, dislodging some Hanoverian jägers. However, the Allies soon recovered the village. Imhoff then took dispositions to attack d'Armentières the following morning.
On November 20, abandoning all hope to relieve Münster, d'Armentières retired from Senden to Seppenrade.
On November 21, M. de Gayon commanding the garrison of Münster demanded terms of capitulation. Thus, after a difficult siege, Imhoff had finally captured Münster. The same day, d'Armentières resumed his retreat towards Wesel, marching from Seppenrade to Dorsten. Meanwhile, in Hessen, the Württemberger hussars were at Rotenburg an der Fulda while Nordman had taken position at Lauterbach and M. de Wurmser at Herbstein and Crainfeld.
On November 22, the French garrison marched out of Münster with the honours of war and the Allies took possession of the town. At the news of the capitulation, Ferdinand, who had quitted Krofdorf to march towards Münster, halted and returned to his camp.
On November 23, Imhoff established his headquarters at Münster and sent detachments to Haltern, Dülmen, Coesfeld and Olfen.
On November 24, d'Armentières passed the Rhine, leaving d'Auvet's division stationed at Mettmann on the right bank of the Rhine. Maupéou's division then marched to Cologne while d'Armentières put his corps into quarters in the duchy of Cleves.
Ever since his disastrous defeat by the Russians at Kunersdorf in August, Frederick II had pressed Ferdinand for reinforcements. Ferdinand finally decided to send him a corps of 12,000 troops under the Hereditary Prince. Accordingly, he gave orders to various detachments to concentrate at Marburg to form this corps. Furthermore, he instructed the Hereditary Prince to dislodge the Württemberger contingent from Fulda to prevent its junction with the main French army.
On November 25, the Allied detachment posted at Korbach marched to Marburg. The same day, the Allied corps under the command of Bevern who had operated near Cologne returned to Marburg.
On November 27, taking advantage of the capture of Münster, Imhoff moved closer to the Lippe. The same day, Broglie was informed that an Allied corps was marching on Fulda.
On November 28 in the morning, the Hereditary Prince corps (including Bevern's corps) set out from Marburg and marched to Kirtorf. Their force consisted of:
- Hanoverian Bock Dragoons
- Hessian Prinz Wilhelm cavalry
- Hessian Prinz Friedrich Dragoons
- Hanoverian Foot Guards (2 bns)
- Brunswick Imhoff (2 bns)
- Hessian Grenadier regiment
- Blunsbach Grenadiers
- Trumbach Jägers (100 men)
- Hanoverian Luckner's “White” Hussars (1 sqn)
- Prussian Ruesch “Black Hussars” (1 sqn)
On November 29, the corps of the Hereditary Prince marched to Angersbach and Lauterbach. His vanguard repulsed a detachment of the Royal-Nassau Hussards. The same day, Nordman, surrounded by Allied troops, was forced to retire on Schlitz, 1 cuirassier regiment suffering losses.
On Friday November 30, the Hereditary Prince launched an attack on Fulda, forcing the Würtembergers to retreat precipitously southwards on Bruckenau in the general direction of Frankenland and Württemberg. General Wolf, whom the duke had detached to Hersfeld had great difficulties to join him by Tann and Milseburg.
On December 1, the Württemberger prisoners were sent to Hersfeld, escorted by major Marshall while the Hereditary Prince remained at Fulda. The same day, Holstein arrived at Grünberg with his Allied corps. The same day, Imhoff quitted the Lippe and retired to Recklinghausen.
On December 2, the Hereditary Prince retired from Fulda, turning upon Broglie's right flank. He advanced to Ruppertenrod.
On December 4, general Gilsa quitted the neighbourhood of Münster with an Allied detachment and marched by Unna towards Hesse to form a junction with the Hereditary Prince.
On December 5, Broglie decamped from Kleinlinden, leaving only a garrison of 2,000 men behind under major-general Blaisel, and retired southwards by Butzbach towards Frankfurt. Ferdinand sent two detachments to pursue the retiring French army and ordered his infantry to take cantons in the villages round Krofdorf.
On December 6, Broglie took its cantonments around Friedberg with his army cantoned in the villages between Friedberg and Butzbach. Saint-Germain was posted at Butzbach with 40 grenadier coys. The Saxon contingent took its winter-quarters in Würzburg. Extreme cold had forced the armies to use barracks instead of camps. The same day, an Allied corps under the command of Holstein invested Giessen. The Hereditary Prince (13 bns and 20 sqns) then continued his advance upon Saxony. His departure rendered Ferdinand powerless for further aggression.
On December 7, Imhoff took position near Hattingen and his troops took canton along the Ruhr.
On December 11, an Allied detachment surprised 300 French horse in the village of Bellersheim near Hungen, taking most of them prisoners.
On December 12, d'Armentières corps moved towards the Allied left flank by Crainfeld and Herbstein, Fischer advancing up to Hottingen (unidentified location).
On December 15, M. de Muy arrived at the French headquarters on the Lower Rhine to replace d'Armentières. The same day, Vogué arrived at Limburg.
On December 16, the duc de Broglie was promoted maréchal de France.
On December 18, the Hereditary Prince at the head of his own corps and Gilsa's arrived at Erfurt.
From December 19 to 23, the Württemberg contingent (now only 7 bns) was at Steinberg, their dragoons occupying Neuhof and their hussars Freienseen while M. de Wurmser was at Herbstein.
The Allied infantry was barracked on the heights of Gleiberg, the Allied cavalry cantoned on the Dille, part of the Allied light troops in front of Giessen while another part was at Lich and Laubach. The duke of Holstein occupied Annerod and the Hereditary Prince was on his way towards Rotenburg and Saxony.
During the night of December 21, 1,200 men of the French garrison of Giessen made a sally to surprise Behr Infantry cantoned at Kleinlinden. However, the Allied piquets gave the alarm and the infantry repulsed the French attack, killing 20 men and taking 20 prisoners.
On December 23, a thaw allowed d'Armentières to resume his advance in 2 columns with the army of the Lower Rhine. The same day, the duke of Württemberg advanced his infantry to Freienseen and his hussars to Schotten.
On December 24, the French troops cantoned in the neighbourhood of Kleve marched to Düsseldorf, leaving only 1 infantry regiment at Engheim (unidentified location) and 1 dragoon regiment at Xanten and Kalkar to patrol long the Rhine. The same day, hoping to take advantage of the departure of the Hereditary Prince for Saxony, Broglie sent d'Armentières' corps form the Lower Rhine against the Allied right wing and the duke of Württemberg against the left wing while he advanced frontally on Giessen with the main French army. Meanwhile, Voyer's corps marched towards Limburg on the Lahn. Accordingly the first column of the Army of the Lower Rhine under d'Armentières marched from Düsseldorf to Opladen.
On December 25, the Hereditary Prince formed a junction with Frederick at Leipzig in Saxony. The same day, the duke of Württemberg marched to Schotten while Wurmser marched to Laubach. The Württemberger dragoons took position between Laubach and Ulrichstein. Meanwhile, the first column of the Army of the Lower Rhine reached Eil while Viomesnil's forces detached from Broglie's main army entered into Giessen but no action ensued.
On December 26, the Allied troops raised the blockade of Giessen and retired to Staufenberg on the left of the army. The same day, the first column of the Army of the Lower Rhine marched to Siegburg.
On December 27, d'Armentières quitted the army, leaving effective command to de Muy. The first column of the Army of the Lower Rhine passed the Sieg. The same day, the rest of the Württemberger infantry joined the duke of Württemberg. Broglie was now at Giessen.
On December 28, an Allied detachment (5 bns, 7 sqns) belonging to Imhoff's corps arrived at Oberweimar about 20 km from Krofdorf. The same day, the first column of the Army of the Lower Rhine reached Uckerath while the second column, under de Muy, arrived at Siegburg. M. de Groslier had been left behind to protect Kleve and M. de Castellas to cover Wesel.
On December 29, Luckner's jägers attacked a detachment of 400 men led by Muret, killing or capturing most of them. About this time, an Allied party under Scheiter passed the Rhine and captured the baggage of Jenner Infanterie. The same day, the first column of the Army of the Lower Rhine marched to Altenkirchen.
On December 30, the first column of the Army of the Lower Rhine marched to Hachenburg.
On December 31, a French detachment (8 bns, several sqns) appeared before Staufenberg, exchanged a few shots then retired.
On January 3 1760, the Army of the Lower Rhine finally reached the banks of the Dill while Voyer marched towards Dillenburg. At daybreak, their troops appeared in front of Herborn which surrendered. The castle of Dillenburg was then summoned while M. de Voyer occupied the town with Waldner Infanterie (2 bns) and some grenadier companies. Voyer then cantoned his corps in the neighbourhood.
On January 7, Ferdinand, wanting to dislodge Voyer established on his right flank, marched to Gladenbach where he joined Wangenheim's corps and then advanced in 3 columns against Dillenburg. A French advanced post at Wiselbach (unidentified location), occupied by 100 men of Beaufremont Dragons was totally surprised by the Allied rightmost column. Meanwhile, the Allied centre column advanced directly on Dillenburg and attacked Waldner Infanterie. During this action, the Allies took about 700 prisoners.
Both armies retired into winter-quarters. Broglie's winter quarters extended from Giessen to Hundsrück. Thus, the French occupied much the same ground as at the beginning of the campaign and the Allies likewise were distributed into two divisions, the army of Westphalia extending from Münster through Paderborn to the Weser and the army of Hesse from Marburg eastward to the Werra. Thus ended the campaign of 1759, leaving both parties in occupation of the same territory as at its beginning.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 417-422
- Carlyle T. History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Vol. 19
- Fortescue J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 478-498
- Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 11 Minden und Maxen, Berlin, 1912, pp. 43-48
- 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. 74-135
- Jomini, baron de, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, pp. 47, 56-64
- Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 424-478
Rogge, Christian, The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Salisch, M. von: Treue Deserteure – Das kursächsische Militär und der Siebenjährige Krieg, Munich, 2009
Savory, Reginald, His Britannic Majesty's Army in Germany during the Seven Years War, Oxford University Press: 1966
Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, 2. part, Leipzig 1885
Service historique de l'armée de terre - A1 3518, pièce 40
Susane, Louis, Histoire de l'infanterie française, Librairie Militaire Maritime et Polytechnique de J. Corréard, Paris: 1876
Westphalen, Christian Heinrich Philipp, Geschichte der Feldzüge des Herzogs Ferdinand von Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Berlin: 1859
Harald Skala for information on the Saxon Army during this period