1756 - Prussian invasion of Saxony – Winter-quarters
The campaign lasted from August to October 1756
The reversal of Alliances in Europe and the preparations of Austria and Prussia for the incoming conflict are described in our article Context and preparations (January 1 to August 26, 1756).
The advance of the Prussian columns into Saxony and the capture of Dresden are described in our article Prussian invasion of Saxony (August 26 to September 9, 1756).
The Prussian manoeuvres to surround and blockade the Saxon entrenched camp of Pirna and the detachment of a Prussian corps towards the border with Western Bohemia to prevent any relief by the Austrians are described in our article Blockade of the Saxon entrenched camp of Pirna (September 10 to September 27, 1756).
Browne's first attempt to advance with the Austrian main army to relieve the Saxon army blockaded in Pirna, his second attempt with a picked force, the crossing of the Elbe by the Saxon army and its surrender at Ebenheit are described in our article Two relief attempts by the Austrian army (September 28 to October 17, 1756).
The Prussian army retires from Western Bohemia
On Monday October 18, Frederick II returned from Pirna to his camp at Lobositz (present-day Lovosice) where Keith was still lying with his victorious army. He met Schwerin there for a conference. Schwerin's force had lived on the Königsgratz Country throughout the season without any reaction from Piccolomini but had now retired to Silesia again to take its winter-quarters with Schwerin's headquarters at Schweidnitz (present-day Swidnica). It was too late in the season to consider an offensive in Bohemia and Frederick had resolved to bring back Keith's Army in the area of Pirna in Saxony to take its winter-quarters. The same day, Browne's relief corps reached Gastorf (present-day Hoštka).
On Tuesday October 19, Zieten marched with 8 sqns towards Linai. II./Blankensee was ordered to escort the Prussian bakery to Linai. The same day, Browne finally reached the Austrian camp at Budin (present-day Budyně nad Ohří).
On Wednesday October 20, Frederick sent the heavy baggage to Welmina (present-day Velemín) under the escort of the Leibregiment zu Pferde. He then left Struppen with 5 battalions (Grenadier Battalion Bülow, Grenadier Battalion Finck, Grenadier Battalion Kanitz, Grenadier Battalion Lengefeld, Grenadier Battalion Bandemer) to cover Keith's retreat from the region of Lobositz, encamping at Peterswalde (present-day Petrovice) that night. He was closely followed by Prince Ferdinand at the head of 5 other battalions (Markgraf Carl Infantry, Knobloch Infantry, Grenadier Battalion Schenckendorff). The same day, the Elector of Saxony set out from Königstein for Warsaw while his queen remained in Dresden. Meanwhile, reinforcements (Marschall Infantry, Bethlen Infantry, 1 bn and 2 grenadier coys of Macquire Infantry and Lucchesi Cuirassiers) arrived at the Austrian camp of Budin.
|Order of Battle|
|Detailed order of battle of Frederick's Army on October 21 1756|
By October 21, Keith's Army was still in its camp at Lobositz with outposts in the park of the Castle of Lobositz (30 men in daytime and 100 men at nighttime with one 12-pdr), in Klein-Czernosek (200 men), in Praskowitz (200 men), near Salesl (200 men and one piece), in Aussig (II./Zastrow, III. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion Gemmingen and Grenadier-Battalion Lengefeld), and Tetschen (200 men of Szekely Hussars and one coy of Zastrow Infantry). The same day, Keith was ordered to send off the baggage of his corps and part of his field artillery under the escort of the Leibregiment zu Pferde, Gens d'Armes and Garde du Corps. Meanwhile, Frederick reached Linai and Zieten arrived in Dux (present-day Duchcov) to organize the retreat.
In the night of October 21 to 22, a party of 700 Grenzers crossed the Elbe and attacked from two sides the Prussian outpost of Salesl defended by Major von Syburg with 200 men from Itzenplitz Infantry. The Grenzers launched two attacks which were repulsed and lost 31 men killed or wounded; the Prussians lost 11 men killed and 23 men wounded.
On October 22, Frederick arrived at Lobositz. Soon after noon, he left at the head of 10 battalions for Linai: Markgraf Carl (2 bns), Knobloch (2 bns), Grenadier Battalion Bülow (1 bn), Grenadier Battalion Finck (1 bn), Grenadier Battalion Lengefeld (1 bn), Grenadier Battalion Kanitz (1 bn), Grenadier Battalion Bandemer (1 bn), Grenadier Battalion Schenckendorff (1 bn) and returned to Linai that night. Meanwhile, Keith sent ahead his cavalry and the rest of his field artillery and Zieten retired from Dux to Postelberg. Lestwitz was dispatched to Zittau to cover the banks of the Elbe along the Bohemian border. The same day, Browne was informed of the preparations of Manstein's retreat from Dux. He immediately sent a detachment (1 bn of Marschall Infantry, 1 bn of Bethlen Infantry, 2 grenadier coys, 200 men Grenzers of the Karlstadt Generalate, 600 cuirassiers and 150 men of Baranyay Hussars) under the command of Major-General Count Althann from Budin to Postelberg (present-day Postoloprty).
On October 23, Keith's Army broke up camp at Lobositz and marched in two columns to Linai, Katte Dragoons forming the rearguard. The right columns consisted of Kleist (2 bns), Münchow Fusiliers (2 bns), Anhalt-Dessau (2 bns), Braunschweig (2 bns) and Grenadier Battalion 3/6 Kleist (1 bn). The left column consisted of Braunschweig-Bevern (2 bns), von Manteuffel (2 bns), Hülsen (2 bns) and von Itzenplitz (2 bns). Keith detached four battalions by the banks of the Elbe to guard the right flank of the army and to pick up detachments previously made along the river. The Prince of Bevern commanded the rearguard consisting of 8 battalions, 5 squadrons of dragoons and 5 squadrons of hussars. Part of the Zieten Hussars were posted on the left of the rear at some distance, protecting the Prussian army against any initiative of the Austrian light troops. Indeed, Browne had sent General Hadik at the head of a detachment of 3,000 men to harass the rear of the Prussian Army. During the march of the Prussian Army, Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck who were encamped on the neighbouring heights joined the rearguard. The same day, Frederick left Linai with his 10 battalions and moved ahead of Keith's Army as a covering force. When Keith's Army reached Linai, it made its junction with the cavalry (Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers, Leib-Carabiniers, Rochow Cuirassiers, Driesen Cuirassiers, Baron von Schönaich Cuirassiers, Katte Dragoons, Leibregiment zu Pferde, Markgraf Friedrich von Brandenburg Cuirassiers and Gens d'Armes).
Zieten Hussars remained at Linai from October 23 at night till October 25 to cover the Prussian Army.
On October 24, Grenadier Battalion Schenckendorff was sent ahead to Nollendorf (present-day Nakléřov) to cover the baggage train. Meanwhile, at Dux, Manstein received instructions to start his retreat. He immediately marched from Dux with I./Alt-Braunschweig and Grenadier Battalion Grumbkow. Similarly, Major-General von Zastrow assembled his detachment (Zastrow Infantry, Grenadier-Battalion Lengefeld, III. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion Gemmingen) at Aussig (present-day Ústí nad Labem), in preparation for withdrawal. The same day, the Saxon infantry regiments forcibly incorporated into the Prussian army were sent to their assigned quarters. Still the same day, Browne sent further reinforcements (1 bn of Marschall Infantry, 1 bn of Bethlen Infantry, 2 grenadier coys, 400 German Horse) to Count Althann.
On October 25, the Prussian Army marched to Nollendorf. During the march, I./Münchow Fusiliers occupied the village of Luschitz while II./Münchow Fusiliers occupied Schönefeld to secure the flanks of the columns advancing between these two villages.
On October 26, the Prussian Army reached Deutsch-Neudörfel (present-day Podhoří). Meanwhile, Zastrow's detachment broke the bridge at Aussig and retired to Nollendorf where it waited for Frederick's main army.
On October 27, Manstein (I./Alt-Braunschweig and Grenadier Battalion Grumbkow) made his junction with Frederick's main army at Schönwald. Some 800 Austrian hussars and 2,000 Grenzers observed the manoeuvres of the Prussian army but did not try to interfere. The same day, the Elector of Saxony arrived in Warsaw.
The Prussian army takes its winter-quarters
On October 28, the Prussian Army finally reached Gross-Sedlitz where it joined the detachment left behind which consisted of Grenadier Battalion Möllendorff (1 bn), Prinz von Preußen (2 bns), von Kalckstein (2 bns), Prinz Moritz von Anhalt (2 bns), Retzow (1 bn), II. and III. Garde Bataillon (2 bns), Winterfeldt (2 bns), Prinz Heinrich von Preußen Fusiliers (2 bns), Prinz Ferdinand von Preußen (2 bns) and von Forcade de Biaix (2 bns). The Prussian army took its cantonment around Pirna: its cavalry in a camp near Zehista. Major-General von Zastrow with a small corps (Zastrow Infantry, Grenadier-Battalion Lengefeld, III. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion Gemmingen, Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck, Grenadier Battalion Ramin, Feldjäger zu Fuß and 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars) was posted in a line Oelsen-Markersbach-Leupoldshain.
On October 29, Zastrow was attacked at Oelsen and Hellendorf by a strong party of Austrian Grenzers. At the beginning of the afternoon, III. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion Gemmingen had been attacked from all sides at Oelsen and forced to retire to Gottleuba, being soon joined by I./Zastrow and part of Grenadier Battalion Ramin. The Grenzers continued their advance towards Hellendorf where Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck occupied the heights to the north of the village which was soon reinforced by Grenadier-Battalion Lengefeld arriving from Markersbach and II./Szekely Hussars and 50 Feldjäger zu Fuß. The Grenzers tried to surround the Prussian positions on these heights. Meanwhile, the Prussians managed to retire towards Gottleuba under the protection of their battalion guns. They finally reached Gottleuba with the loss of 3 men killed and 10 wounded. With most Prussian battalions now assembled at Gottleuba, the Grenzers retired to Hellendorf. The same day, Winterfeldt took position between Hirschberg and Landeshut to cover the flank of Frederick's army.
On October 30, Frederick ordered his troops to recapture their lost positions. They managed to do so to the exception of Oelsen which remained in the hands of the Austrians.
In October, Hungarian units received instructions to raise 5,400 recruits to bring themselves to full strength. Meanwhile Austrian cavalry regiments were ordered to bring their effective strength to 1,000 men; the hussar regiments, to 800 men.
In November, Frederick distributed his army into their winter-quarters throughout Saxony: in Zwickau, Freyberg, Chemnitz, Leipzig, Torgau, Zittau, Gorlitz, and Bautzen. He detached Winterfeldt on the Bober River to watch the Austrians.
On November 14, Frederick left Gross-Sedlitz and installed himself at Dresden for the winter. He entered Dresden on November 21 and took his residence at Count Brühl's palace. Some 10,000 Prussian troops were quartered into the city and the neighbouring villages. Frederick took advantage of winter to improve the fortifications of Dresden. Some 6,000 Prussian foot and one regiment of horse were also quartered in Leipzig. Furthermore, some 9,000 men were raised in Saxony during winter to reinforce the Prussian Army. Frederick soon left for Berlin.
During the winter, Browne sent all his troops into winter-quarters in Bohemia and fixed his headquarters at Prague. He deployed a cordon of outposts between Hohenelbe (present-day Vrchlabí) and Troppau (present-day Opava) under Piccolomini and Marschall and a cordon of Grenzer troops along the Saxon and Lusatian borders.
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
- Archenholz, J. W., The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 10-30
- Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 17 chapters IV, V
- Donnersmarck, Victor Amadaeus Henckel von, Militaerischer Nachlass, Karl Zabeler, 1858
- Tagesbuch des Feldzuges von 1756, pp. 18-130
- Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und LobositzBerlin, 1901, pp. 62-104, 142, 150-151, 174-241, 251-260, 286-316
- Tempelhoff, Fr., History of the Seven Years' War Vol. I Section 4, as translated by Colin Lindsay, Cadell, London, 1793
- Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 403-408
Grossenhain, Geschichte des koeniglische Saechs, Koenigs-Husaren-Regiments No 18, Leipzig, 1901