Fortress of Cosel
Origin and History
At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, Cosel (present-day Kędzierzyn-Koźle) was one of the medium sized fortresses in Silesia.
Its first fortifications dated back to the time of the Second 2nd Silesian War (1744-1745) despite claims by certain author that the place was already a stronghold in Austrian time (see G. Podruczny research). Indeed in 1744, General Gerard Cornel Walrave directed the construction of these main fortifications. The inner fortress adopted the shape of a five branches star with 4 ravelins put in the concave angle of its branches with a covert way and moat. The outer works where also star shaped but with nine branches.
The main reason to set up a fortress at Cosel was its natural defensive value. The fortress was located on the right bank of the Oder River between two rivers: the Oder and the smaller Klodnitz River (present-day Kłodnica), flowing into it. The western access to the city could only be made through a bridge connecting the fortress to the left bank of the Oder. The fortress was located on the left bank, covering this bridge which was also protected on the right bank by small fortification works. Access from the West was difficult by Wiegschütz Lake (present-day Większyce) and from North and South through swamps.
As a new conflict was approaching, fortifications were rebuilt and fixed.
During the Seven Years' War, the fortress was under the command of:
- since December 11 1753: Christoph Fredrich von Lattorf
- from April 3 1762: Gerard von Sass
Garrison during the War
From 1756 and during the entire war, the fortress was garrisoned as follows:
- Garrison Artillery (1 coy of about 130 men once reinforced by invalids from the field artillery)
- Miners (1 detachment)
- Hussars (1 unidentified detachment of about 100 men)
- Artillery (unknown quantity) N.B. in 1746 the artillery of the fortress consisted of
- 7 iron guns
- 2 x 10-pdr iron howitzers
- 1 x 30-pdr mortar
- 17 x 12-pdr bronze guns
- 8 x 6-pdr bonze guns
- 14 x other bronze guns
- 4 x 10-pdr bronze howitzers
- from August 2 1756 to the beginning of 1758
- Grenadier Battalion 28/32 (1 bn) under Major Johann Fredrich von Kreytzen (left soon after the outbreak of the war)
- I./Garrison Regiment VI von Lattorf (1 bn)
- II./Garrison Regiment VI von Lattorf (1 bn)
- III./Garrison Regiment VI von Lattorf (1 bn) raised on August 1 1756 and sent to Brieg in 1758
- IV./Garrison Regiment VI von Lattorf (1 bn) raised on August 1 1756 and soon included into the Field Corps of General de La Motte Fouqué
- from the beginning of 1758 to November 16 1758 (about 1,300 men)
- from November 11 1758 till 1759 (?)
- from 1760 to 1762
- from August 2 1756 to the beginning of 1758
Events during the War
1756-1757 – Preparing for war
On July 3 1756, the garrison started to collect wood for defence work (palisades and others works).
In September, new traverses were raised, and the palisade and other works like outposts were completed.
In October, the ravelins were improved.
In November, the laboratory, where bombs and grenades were filled with powder) was finished.
From December 1756 to March 1757, the supply and powder magazines were surrounded with a palisade.
From January to March 1757, two draw bridges were built and the construction of advanced defensive works on the left bank of the Oder started under the supervision of Lieutenant-colonel von Wrede. Meanwhile, work was also done on the main fortress and on Lunette No. 5.
From September to November, palisades were erected around the small outpost redoubt (so-called Wiegschütz redoubt) near the lake.
In December, a palisade was erected around the covert way.
1758 – Fortress service
At the beginning of 1758, the fortress served mainly as a big, protected supply magazine. Its proximity to the Oder made it a good starting point to transport provisions towards Moravia during the Prussian invasion.
On June 21, a supply convoy of 818 wagons left Neisse (present-day Nysa) and Cosel for Moravia where the Prussian army had undertaken the 1758 - Siege of Olmütz. This convoy was escorted by 8 bns (2,000 recruits and convalescents) and 1,100 cavalry under the command of Colonel Friedrich von Mosel. The first and second battalions of the Garrison Regiment V von Mützschefahl also formed part of this escort while the third and fourth battalions of this regiment were attached to the garrison of Cosel. The 2 battalions accompanying the convoy later took part in the ambush at Domstadtl.
On July 25, an Austrian detachment of 3 grenzer bns (1,500 men) and a few hundreds hussars under Lieutenant-colonel Kalinerk appeared in front of Cosel. On July 31, this detachment blockaded Cosel from Pogorzelec.
From the end of July to November 14, the Austrians undertook the siege of Cosel.
On November 14, a Prussian relief force led by Carl Christoph von Goltz and Paul von Werner ("Standing" Grenadier Battalion V von Rath, IR42 Markgraf von Brandenburg Fusiliers, 400 dragoons and 5 sqns of HR6 Werner Hussars) arrived at Reinschdorf (present-day Reńska Wieś). It had been sent by General de La Motte Fouqué to relieve the fortress. It left its heavy baggage and satchels behind, crossed swamps and bushes and attacked the Austrians. Meanwhile, Lattorf made a sally from the fortress. The Austrians were thus attacked from both sides and soon broke and run, leaving 130 men on the field, 50 men taken prisoners and 18 wagons. Goltz and Werner pursued the Austrians. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion V von Rath and 50 men from HR6 Werner Hussars remained in Cosel to reinforce the garrison.
On December 22, Lattorf received the “Order of the Black Eagle” for his conduct during the siege.
1759 – Calm before the storm
In 1759, Cosel was once more used as a large magazine of supply and siege materials (woods, poles and fascines).
In March, work was resumed for the repair of the palisades. The city's coffers were nearly empty.
On June 17, an Austrian force (1,500 grenzers and hussars) under Kalinek and Klein blockaded Cosel from the eastern side of the Oder. The blockade lasted till July 15.
On November 12, General de La Motte Fouqué visited the fortress.
1760 – A year of siege
Loudon soon sent small detachments towards Cosel, Ratibor (present-day Raciborz), Leobschütz (present-day Głubczyce) and Neustadt (present-day Prudnik). On March 26, one of these detachments appeared in front of Cosel but soon retired to Kranowitz (present-day Krzanowice).
In July, Frederick II, ordered to execute all deserters without trial.
In the Fall, Loudon appeared in front of Cosel. He held a council of war where it was decided to lay siege to the fortress. From October 7, heavy rain delayed the beginning of the siege.
On October 20, Loudon (20,000 men) marched in 2 columns from Oberglogau (present-day Głogówek) and began the siege of Cosel which lasted till October 29 when the Austrians abandon their endeavour in face of an approaching Prussian relief force.
On October 30, the rest of the Austrian units retreated, burning all fascines before leaving. One small detachment under Colonel Hieronim Baron Liubibraticha von Trebynia (2 grenzer bns, 100 hussars) had been previously sent to Urbanowitz (present-day Urbanowice) to reconnoitre the region around this stronghold but it was now forced to retreat to Ratibor (present-day Racibórz) by Loudon's retreat from Cosel. Austrian main forces went to Oberglogau (present-day Głogówko).
Lattorf admitted that he had lost no more than 7 men wounded during the siege. Other sources mentions only 2 dead and wounded overall. Austrians losses are unknown.
1761 – Year of financial difficulties
During the campaign of 1761, Cosel was behind the lines of the main operations. Frederick II instructed Lattorf to draft soldiers from the units garrisoning the fortress to reinforce his own army. Lattorf also informed the king of the situation on the border. An Austrian force (5 bns, 2 grenadier coys, 13 sqns, for a total of 4,600 men and 12 guns) led by Bethlen blockaded Cosel.
Later the same year, General Draskovitz arrived with dragoons and 2 additional infantry regiments to take command of the blockading force.
In September, Draskowitz (13 bns 15 sqns) withdrew to Silberberg, leaving Bethlen corps (4 bns, 2 grenzers bns, 17 sqns) to resume the blockade.
At this time, Cosel started to mint its own coins, bearing the legend “COSEL/1761”.
1762 – Year of peace
On April 3 1762, Colonel Gerard von Sass assumed command at Cosel, replacing Lattorf.
On May 12, General Paul Werner started to assemble a strong corps in Cosel to threaten Moravia.
On June 13, another Prussian Corps under the command of Major-General Karl Christoph von Zeuner arrived at Cosel, bringing some baggage and wounded soldiers. This corps forced the Austrians to withdraw and prevented a new siege of the fortress.
On June 16, a new Prussian detachment arrived and encamped along the Klodnitz River (present day Kłodnica).
Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for the initial version of this article.