1757 - Austrian invasion of Silesia – The return of the King
The campaign lasted from June to December 1757
The manoeuvres of the Prussians in Northern Bohemia as they tried to hold their ground against the Austrians are described in our article The Prussians try to hold Northern Bohemia (June 24 to July 14, 1757).
The retreat of Prince Wilhelm's Army to Lusatia, the capture of Gabel by the Austrians, Frederick's retreat to Lusatia and the Battle of Landeshut are described in our article The Prussians retreat to Lusatia (July 15 to August 24, 1757).
Frederick's departure for Saxony and Bevern's gradual retreat in Silesia, including the Combat of Moys, the capture of the Fortress of Schweidnitz by the Austrians and the Battle of Breslau are described in our article The Austrians invade Silesia (August 25 to November 23, 1757).
On November 5, Frederick II had decisively defeated a Franco-Imperial army at Rossbach. On November 13, when he realized that the French were now in full retreat, Frederick set out from Leipzig at the head of 18 bns and 29 sqns. By November 23, he had reached Görlitz on the border of the Province of Silesia, a march of more than 200 km in ten days.
Junction of the Prussian armies
On November 24
- Prince Charles had thrown a garrison into Liegnitz (present-day Legnica/PL) on Frederick's road while he himself lay encamped in front of Breslau (present-day Wrocław/PL). Prince Charles commanded a force of some 80,000 men.
- Kálnoky took position at Striegau (present-day Strzegom/PL) with 2 hussar rgts and 2,000 Grenzer light troops.
- At 3:00 a.m., the Duke of Bevern ordered his army to march towards Trebnitz (present-day Trzebnica/PL) while he personally proceeded towards Glogau (present-day Glogow/PL) with a small escort.
- In the evening, the Duke of Bevern was intercepted at an Austrian outpost and taken prisoner. He was sent to Kolonie Sandberg (present-day Nowa Karczma/PL) and then to Stabelwitz (present-day Stabłowice/PL) and finally to Brünn (present-day Brno/CZ).
- In the evening, General Lestwitz, the Prussian commandant in Breslau, accepted the terms offered for the surrender of Breslau. The garrison was allowed free withdrawal but massively deserted.
- While the main body of his army was resting at Görlitz, Frederick marched with 3 bns (Grenadier Battalion Wedell, Grenadier Battalion Ramin and Grenadier Battalion Kremzow), all his dragoons and all his hussars to Naumburg am Queis (present-day Nowogrodziec/PL). Upon arrival there, he received erroneous information mentioning that Bevern had defeated the Austrians in front of Breslau.
On November 25
- The Austrians garrisoned Breslau with 6,000 men under FML Baron Sprecher.
- At 3:00 a.m., Lestwitz surrendered the Schweidnitz Gate and the Oder Gate. Thus sealing the fate of the Fortress of Breslau.
- At 9:00 a.m., G.d.C. von Zieten was informed at the camp of Protsch an der Weide (present-day Pracze Widawskie/PL) of the capture of Bevern. Nevertheless, he waited for his possible return until the afternoon. Lieutenant-General Friedrich Wilhelm Baron von Kyau opened a letter sent by Frederick on November 21 from Bautzen where he mentioned the importance to hold Breslau at all cost until his return.
- At 1:30 p.m., Katte sent a message confirming that Bevern had been captured. Kyau then took command of the army. Considering that the departure for Glogau had already been decided by Bevern, Kyau left Breslau to its fate and made towards Glogau, setting off from Protsch in the afternoon.
- Prince Moritz advanced to Katolisch-Hennersdorf (present-day Henryków Lubański/PL) with the main body of Frederick's Army..
- At Naumburg am Queiss where his vanguard was resting for a day, Frederick was finally informed of the true results of the Battle of Breslau and of Bevern's retreat to the other bank of the Oder. Still ignoring that Bevern had been captured, he immediately sent him instruction to personally assume the defence of Breslau with 10 to 12 bns. He also ordered the rest of Bevern's Army to march to Leubus (present-day Lubiąż/PL) where it should cross the Oder to effect a junction with his own army at Prachwitz (present-day Prochowice/PL). He stressed the importance of holding at all cost in Breslau and forbade to surrender the city. He intended to march from Parchwitz (present-day Prochowice/PL) on December 2 at the latest towards Neumarkt (present-day Środa Śląska/PL). He would then attack the Austrians and Bevern should simultaneously make a sortie from Breslau.
After the capture of Breslau, Prince Charles did not pursue Kyau's retreating Prussian army. He just sent Major-General von Beck with his corps to observe its movements.
On November 26
- Frederick's vanguard reached Deutmannsdorf (present-day Skorzynice/PL); and the main body, Ludwigsdorf (present-day Chmielno/OL). Austrian hussars retreated in front of the advancing Prussian army.
On November 27
- Frederick reached Lobendau (present-day Lubiatów/PL) with his army. There he learned of the capture of Bevern, of the fall of Breslau and of the retreat of Kyau towards Glogau with the remnants of Bevern's Army. Frederick ordered Zieten to replace Kyau as commander at Glogau and to leave all sick and marauders there along with the weakest bns and to march with the rest to effect a junction with his own army at Parchwitz, bringing with him heavy artillery.
- Kyau marched by Stroppen (present-day Strupina/PL) and reached Hünern (present-day Psary/PL) where he received Frederick's letter sent two days before.
- Prince Charles and Field Marshal Daun sent 1,000 men of Beck's Corps to reinforce the garrison of Liegnitz while the 1,000 other men of this corps rejoined the main army.
- Kálnoky with 2 hussar rgts and 1,000 Grenzer light troops retired from Striegau to Jauer (present-day Jawor/PL) and sent parties to cover the magazines at Landeshut (present-day Kamenia Gora/PL) and Trautenau (present-day Trutnov/CZ).
- The main Austrian army rearranged its camp behind the Lohe (present-day Ślęza River) to face west.
- By that date, Beck was posted at Protsch an der Weide (present-day Pracze Widawskie/PL) on the right bank of the Oder; Morocz was at Gloschkau (present-day Głoska/PL); Jahnus had surrounded Glatz (present-day Kłodzko/PL); and Colonel von Simbschen occupied outposts on the Neisse.
On November 28
- Kyau arrived at Guhrau (present-day Góra) where he received Frederick's orders that he shall be put in arrest and that Zieten shall take command in his place. Frederick also ordered Zieten to bring his army round by Glogau and to rendezvous with him at Parchwitz on December 2.
- Frederick passed north of Liegnitz, merely ignoring its Austrian garrison, and arrived at Parchwitz. Upon arrival at Parchwitz, Frederick's vanguard found the town occupied by 500 men under the command of Colonel von Gersdorf. The defenders had not spotted the advancing Prussian force and were taken by surprise. Nevertheless, they tried to destroy the bridge on the Katzbach. However, Prussian hussars and dragoons prevented them to do so. They drove the defenders out of town and attacked them. In this action, the Austrians lost a number of men killed or wounded and 180 men taken prisoners; while the Prussians lost 10 hussars. Gersdorf retired to Neumarkt. Frederick's Army took up quarters in and around Parchwitz. Frederick rested his weary troops there, waiting for Zieten to join him. During the last 13 days, Frederick's Army had only 3 days of rest and had marched more than 300 km on bad roads.
- Beck with his 1,000 men had to stop at Neumarkt, unable to reach Liegnitz now that Frederick had taken position at Parchwitz.
On November 29
- Zieten's Army reached Brostau (present-day Brostów/PL) south-west of Glogau after four consecutive marches.
- A convoy of flour and ammunition arrived at Parchwitz from Glogau escorted by 3 bns (Grenadier Battalion Dieringshofen, I./Kurssell Fusiliersand 1 bn of Garrison Regiment V Mützschefahl). The 3 bns occupied the Castle of Parchwitz to guard the newly established bakery.
- Prince Charles sent 1,000 Grenzer light troops and 2 hussar rgts under Major-General von Luzinsky to reinforce Beck at Neumarkt.
On November 30
- Zieten and Kyau set off from Brostau and marched by Polkwitz (present-day Polkowice/PL) and Lüben (present-day Lubin/PL) to effect a junction with Frederick's Army at Parchwitz on December 2.
- Prince Charles was convinced that Frederick would entrench at Parchwitz.
On December 1, 30 hussar sqns (Zieten Hussars, Puttkamer Hussars and Werner Hussars) sent forward by Zieten arrived at Parchwitz. They drove Austrian hussars out of Ober-Heidau (present-day Golanka Górna/PL) and Koitz (present-day Kawice/PL) and took position there.
On December 2
- As planned, Zieten after crossing the Oder at Glogau, arrived at Parchwitz with the remnants of Bevern's army (some 15,000 men). Several Prussian prisoners who had escaped their guardians during the march from Schweidnitz to Bohemia also joined Frederick's Army. Similarly several Silesians who had deserted after the capture of Breslau rejoined the army. The troops who had accompanied Frederick in Thuringia ceded their quarters to those arriving from Glogau and encamped east of Parchwitz. Frederick was now at the head of 48½ bns, 133 sqns with 73 heavy pieces (including 10 heavy 12-pdrs and 7 mortars that Zieten had brought from Glogau), for a total of 35,000 men.
- Prince Charles held a council of war at his headquarters near Breslau to decide what to do now that Beck and Morocz had informed him of the junction of the armies of Frederick and Zieten near Parchwitz. Daun proposed to wait for Frederick in positions behind the Lohe while G.d.C. Lucchesi advocated a march against the Prussians. Prince Charles supported Lucchesi's point of view and decided to attack with all his forces (some 80,000 men). Daun objected to this aggressive stance but to no avail.
On December 3
- Frederick rested his troops. They received bread for several days. Frederick established a new order of battle. The regiments defeated at Breslau were intermingled with those arriving from Thuringia to form the vanguard and the first line while the second line was formed exclusively from troops belonging to the former army of Bevern. With the Austrians entrenched in prepared positions behind the Lohe, Frederick decided to march upstream along that river and to attack their left wing. For the initial attack on the entrenchments, he formed 2 bns with 800 volunteers. Bridging material was loaded on wagons. In preparation for the battle, Frederick wrote his last wills.
- Prince Charles sent the 3 Saxon Chevauxlegers rgts under FML Count Nostitz to Neumarkt.
- A letter from Maria Theresa arrived at the Austrian camp, instructing Prince Charles and Daun to lay siege to Brieg to secure the winter-quarters of their army. This endeavour was impossible to undertake in the present situation.
In the night of December 3 to 4, Frederick was informed that the Austrians were breaking camp and intended to advance against him. He was delighted by this news. He assembled his generals and addressed a memorable speech to them.
Battle of Leuthen
Sunday December 4
- At 4:00 a.m., Frederick marched from Parchwitz straight towards the Austrian camp. He personally accompanied his vanguard led by Lieutenant-General Prince of Württemberg in its advance through Koitz and Rausse (present-day Rusko/PL) against Neumarkt. More precisely, his vanguard consisted of
- Infantry (14½ bns)
- Grenadier Battalion Manteuffel (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion Wedell (1 bn)
- Grenadier Battalion Ramin (1 bn)
- Bornstedt Infantry (1 bn)
- I./Asseburg Infantry (1 bn)
- Itzenplitz Infantry (2 bns)
- Meyerinck Infantry (2 bns)
- Volunteers (800 men in 2 bns)
- Freibataillon Le Noble (1 bn)
- Freibataillon Kalben (1 bn)
- Freibataillon Angelelli (1 bn)
- Feldjäger zu Fuß (½ bn)
- Cavalry (60 sqns)
- Artillery (10 x heavy 12-pdrs)
- Bridging material
- Infantry (14½ bns)
- Frederick's main army followed in four columns by the right flank. The first column consisted of the cavalry of the right wing of the first and second line. The second column was composed of the infantry of the right wing of the first and second line. Their rearguard was formed of the 3 bns (Grenadiers 29/31 Östenreich, VI. Standing Grenadier Battalion and I./Prinz Ferdinand Infantry) which covered the baggage. The third column consisted of the infantry of the left wing of the first and second line. The fourth column was formed of the cavalry of the left wing of the first and second line. Werner Hussars had the rearguard. The heavy artillery were divided into two brigades and moved behind the second and third columns. Frederick himself was in the vanguard, he planned to establish his quarters at Neumarkt, a little town about 22 km from Parchwitz. On its way, the Prussian vanguard drove a party of Austrian hussars out of an outpost at Blumenrode (present-day Kwietno/PL). These hussars retired towards Neumarkt. Early in the afternoon, while Frederick was only a few km from Neumarkt, he learned that there were 2 Grenzer bns (1,000 men) and 2 hussar rgts under Major-General von Luzinsky and Colonel von Gersdorf posted there to guard the Austrian bakery while engineer people were marking out an Austrian camp. Therefore, before entering Neumarkt, Frederick sent a regiment to ride quietly round it on both sides and to seize a height he knew of. Once this height had been seized by his troops, Frederick burst the barrier of Neumarkt with the hussars, volunteers and freikorps of the vanguard, and dashed in upon the 1,000 light troops, flinging them out in extreme hurry. The light troops then found the height occupied and their retreat cut off. Of the 1,000 light troops, 569 were taken prisoners and 120 slain. Better still, the Austrian bakery in Neumarkt delivered 80,000 bread-rations, Prince Charles had exposed his bakery too far ahead of his army.
- At 4:00 a.m., Frederick marched from Parchwitz straight towards the Austrian camp. He personally accompanied his vanguard led by Lieutenant-General Prince of Württemberg in its advance through Koitz and Rausse (present-day Rusko/PL) against Neumarkt. More precisely, his vanguard consisted of
- FML Count Nostitz was encamped between Kadlau (present-day Kadłub /PL) and Lampersdorf (present-day Zaborów/PL) with the 3 Saxon Chevauxlegers rgts but was informed too late of the storming of Neumarkt.
- The main Austrian army (65,000 men in 85 bns and 125 sqns, 5,000 light troops, 170 battalion guns and 65 heavy pieces) came out of its camp behind the Lohe, leaving all his heavy guns at Breslau. The crossing of the Lohe and Weistritz (more commonly called Schweidnitz Water) seriously delayed its advance and it reached Guckerwitz (present-day Kokorzyce/PL) and the hills of Breslau only at nightfall. It encamped in two lines to the east of Nippern (present-day Mrozów /PL), Frobelwitz (present-day Wróblowice /PL) and Leuthen (present-day Lutynia/PL). Nádasdy's Corps and the Reserve Corps formed a third line. Baggage and tents remained on the banks of the Weistritz. Austrian remained under arms throughout the night. The villages of Nippern, Frobelwitz and Leuthen were occupied by grenadiers, pickets of infantry and artillery. Morocz and Luzinsky with 2 hussar rgts and a few hundreds Grenzer light troops covered both flanks. The Austrian camp formed a long line perpendicular to Frederick's march, some 16 km ahead of him.
Still on December 4, after the capture of Neumarkt, the Prussian vanguard resumed its advance. Its infantry reached Kammendorf (present-day Komorniki/PL) while the Freikorps and the Feldjäger zu Fuß occupied Bischdorf (present-day Święte/PL) and the hussars encamped west of these two villages. The 3 dragoon rgts rejoined the cavalry of the main body who encamped between the Rohrwiesen ditch and Nieder-Stephansdorf (present-day Szczepanów/PL) and the heavy artillery encamped east of Neumarkt. Neumarkt itself was occupied by 10 bns, its suburbs by 2 bns, and Frankenthal by 3 bns. The rest of the infantry encamped west of Neumarkt.
On December 4 at 8:00 p.m., Frederick received confirmation that the entire Austrian army had crossed the Weistritz without tents or baggage and had deployed on its west side. For him, it was very good news that the Austrians had come out of their entrenched positions behind the Lohe. He ordered his army to be in readiness earlier than initially planned.
On December 5, through wonderful manoeuvring, the small Prussian army (28,600 men) of Frederick managed to defeat the much larger Austrian army (70,000 men) during the famous Battle of Leuthen.
On December 6
- At 5:00 a.m., the Prussian army came out of its camp and crossed the Weistritz in four columns at Goldschmieden (present-day Zlotniki/PL), Lissa (present-day Wrocław-Leśnica/PL) and Stabelwitz (present-day Stablowice/PL). Zieten led the vanguard which consisted of 9½ bns (Grenadier Battalion Manteuffel, Grenadier Battalion Wedell, Grenadier Battalion Ramin, Asseburg Infantry (1 bn), Bornstedt Infantry (1 bn), Meyerinck Infantry (2 bns), Itzenplitz Infantry (2 bns) and the Feldjäger zu Fuß (½ bn)) and 63 sqns (Herzog von Württemberg Dragoons, Normann Dragoons, Czettritz Dragoons, Jung-Krockow Dragoons, Stechow Dragoons, all the hussars to the exception of II./Szekely Hussars and 2 sqns of Werner Hussars sent towards Glatz) with twelve 12-pdrs and four pontoon-wagons. To guard prisoners, 2 bns and 10 sqns (Freibataillon Le Noble, II./Szekely Hussars at Neumarkt and Grenadier Battalion Kleist and Margraf Friedrich Cuirassiers at Lissa) were left behind.
- At 10:00 a.m., Zieten crossed the Lohe near Klein-Mochbern (present-day Muchobor Maly/PL) and Maria-Höfschen (present-day Nowy Dwor/PL) after a brief cannonade with Serbelloni’s rearguard as the latter slowly retired. The Prussian hussars captured a few thousands prisoners and 400 baggage wagons in the villages between the Weistritz and the Lohe.
- Frederick then ordered a day of rest. His army took up cantonments along the Lohe: the vanguard along the right bank; the infantry in Gross-Mochbern (present-day Mochobor Wielki/PL), Neukirch (present-day Zerniki/PL) and Pilsnitz (present-day Pilczyce/PL). The cavalry encamped south of Neukirch where Frederick established his headquarters.
- Frederick then ordered Zieten to be ready to pursue the Austrian on the next day with 11½ bns (the 9½ bns previously listed with Freibataillon Angelelli and Freibataillon Kalben) and 63 sqns (all listed above).
- Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers escorted prisoners from Neumarkt to Glogau.
- The Austrians had fled across the Lohe River and were endeavouring to assemble in the neighbourhood of Breslau where Prince Charles and Daun had deployed in the Lohe entrenchments between Gräbschen (present-day Grabiszyn/PL) and Schmiedefeld (present-day Kuzniki/PL). However, most of their army was dispersed into woods, office-houses, farm-villages and over a wide space of country. As the day rose, troops began to dribble in.
- What could have been assembled of the Reserve Artillery and baggage had been sent forwards in the morning under the escort of the 3 Saxon Chevaulegers rgts. Thaw and rain much delayed their march.
- At 3:00 p.m., Prince Charles marched with some 33,000 men in two columns towards Rothsürben (present-day Żórawina/PL), heading for Schweidnitz (present-day Świdnica/PL), with the vanguard under Nádasdy and the rearguard (8 infantry rgts and 9 cavalry rgts) under G.d.C. Count Serbelloni which was left in the entrenchments along the Lohe near Klein-Mochbern. A garrison of some 17,000 men under Sprecher was left to defend Breslau.
- When the Prussian hussars approached, the Austrian rearguard retired.
- Scattered Austrian troops and many wounded took refuge within the walls of Breslau.
In the night of December 6 to 7, the Austrians suffered heavily from desertion
Siege of Breslau
On December 7
- At 3:00 a.m., Zieten set off from his quarters on the east bank of the Lohe. As darkness fell, he arrived on the heights near Oltaschin (present-day Oltaszyn/PL) after marching on soggy roads due to thawing. From there, he could see a long columns of wagons leaving Breslau in the direction of Ohlau (present-day Olawa/PL). His hussars overpowered and scattered the weak Austrian escort and captured 2,000 wagons loaded with provisions, ammunition, money and baggage. They also took 1,500 prisoners. Zieten’s Corps then advanced to the vicinity of Kreike (unidentified location).
- Early in the morning, Frederick crossed the Lohe and invested Breslau from the left bank of the Oder, his positions extending from Morgenau (present-day Rakowiec/PL), Huben (present-day Huby/PL), Lehmgruben (present-day Glinianki/PL), Neudorf (unidentified location), Gabitz (present-day Gajowicka/PL) and the suburb of Nicolai. His cavalry was posted at Gräbschen, Klein-Mochbern, Schmiedefeld, Pilsnitz and Masselwitz (present-day Maślice/PL).
- Frederick laid siege to Breslau defended by Sprecher with 17,000 men. The garrison would surrender on December 21 after a vigorous defence.
- The Austrian main army under Prince Charles continued its retreat and crossed the Lohe. It encamped at Petrigau (present-day Piotrków Borowski/PL) and Manze (present-day Mańczyce/PL). Its heavy artillery and large baggage took the road of Deutsch-Lauden (present-day Ludów Śląski/PL) by Grossburg (present-day Borek Strzeliński/PL).
- Sprecher, commanding in Breslau, offered to capitulate on the condition that the garrison, including sick and wounded, would be allowed free withdrawal but Frederick rejected these conditions. Sprecher then took dispositions for the defence of Breslau, subdividing the place in four sectors under the commands of Generals Wolffersdorff, Browne, Beck and Colonel Count Lamberg. The defensive works of the fortress were not very impressive but the wet ditch offered a good protection.
Austrian army leaves Silesia
As mentioned above, on December 6, Prince Charles and Daun, leaving a garrison in Breslau, had begun their retreat towards Schweidnitz with the rest of their army.
At midnight in the night of December 7 to 8, the main Austrian army marched by Langseifersdorf (present-day Jaźwina/PL).
On December 8
- Frederick detached Major-General von Meier (Bayreuth Dragoons, II./Szekely Hussars) from his army at Breslau to strip the area between the Lohe, Keulendorf (present-day Kulin Kłodzki/PL) and Kostenblut (present-day Kostomłoty/PL) of any provisions.
- In the morning, Zieten’s vanguards (hussars and 2 dragoon rgts) advanced towards Grossburg, it marched through Michelwitz (present-day Michałowice/PL). Serbelloni at the head of the Austrian rearguard (5 bns, 5 cavalry rgts for a total of approx. 2,300 men) had taken position on the heights east of Klein Bresa (present-day Brzezica/PL) and Bohrau (present-day Borów/PL). While Zieten was awaiting the arrival of the main body of his corps on the heights near Wäldchen (present-day Boreczek/PL), his hussar units attacked the Austrian baggage convoy as it was crossing the Lohe between Grossburg and Deutsch Lauden. Its escort, which consisted of cuirassiers, Grenzer light troops and hussars, were taken prisoners or scattered. A large number of vehicles fell into the hands of the Prussian hussars. The Austrians watched the attack idly and retired south-westwards. Zieten reinforced his vanguard at Wäldchen and occupied Grossburg. The fire of the Prussian artillery then spread disorder in the ranks of the small Austrian cavalry detachment left behind by Serbelloni on the right bank of the Lohe and forced it to retreat. While crossing the bridges on the Lohe, this detachment was attacked by the cavalry of Zieten’s vanguard who also drove back the Grenzer light troops occupying the neighbouring villages. The Prussian hussars then pursued the enemy beyond Manze and captured more than 100 baggage-wagons on the left bank of the Lohe. Zieten established his headquarters at Bohrau.
On December 9
- Zieten’s Corps rested for a day to recover from fatigue and to wait for bread supply.
- When Frederick heard that Zieten had stopped for an entire day, he wrote to him to express his displeasure.
- The main Austrian army reached the area south-west of Schweidnitz without being pursued by Zieten’s troops. The retreat was conducted under adverse weather: heavy rains, deep mud, with cutting snow-blasts. Prince Charles encamped near Bogendorf (present-day Witoszówka/PL) on the ridge between Polnitsch-Weistritz (present-day Bystrzyca Dolna/PL) and Kroischwitz (present-day Kraszowice/PL). He would remain in this camp until December 13. With the snowy weather, the condition of his troops, most of them deprived of their tents, gradually worsened and provisions sent from Schweidnitz proved to be insufficient. The artillery and what was left of the baggage were sent to Bohemia by Landeshut (present-day Kamenia Gora/PL) and Grüssau (present-day Krzeszow/PL), covered by light troops (3,000 Grenzer light troops, 200 hussars, 6 pieces) under the command of Major-General Drašković, posted at Reichenbach (present-day Dzierżoniów/PL). Meanwhile, Morocz covered the main army with only 500 men (Grenzer light troops and what was left of 2 hussar rgts) posted at Pilzen (present-day Bolescin/PL).
- A detachment of 2,500 men was then sent to reinforce the garrison of Liegnitz (1,000 men).
During the following days, Schweidnitz was garrisoned and supplied to sustain a siege.
On December 10, Zieten’s Corps set off from Bohrau and marched to Langenöls (present-day Oleszna/PL) and Heidersdorf (present-day Łagiewniki/PL). He was joined there by [[Werner, Paul von |Colonel von Werner]] with 8 sqns of Werner Hussars and commandeered troops from Warnery Hussars who had previously made a raid in the neighbourhood of Kanth (present-day Katy Wroclawskie/PL). Frederick pressed Zieten to act more aggressively and to live of the land, not letting the Austrians any respite.
On December 12
- Zieten unsuccessfully tried to isolate Drašković’s Corps in Reichenbach but the latter precipitously retired to Peterswaldau (present-day Pieszyce/PL), pursued by Puttkamer Hussars.
- By that date, the small detachment of Major-General von Meier had advanced to Domanze (present-day Domanice/PL) to drive the Austrian corps of FML Kálnoky out of Striegau (present-day Strzegom/PL) and thus protect the area north of Schweidnitz from incursions. While doing so, it had captured a considerable supply of provisions (135,000 bread rations, 10 ovens and 10 wagons loaded with flour) near Konradswaldau (present-day Mrowiny/PL).
- Drašković’s Corps finally effected a junction with the main army at Burkersdorf (present-day Burkatów/PL).
On December 13
- The Austrian main army evacuated its positions between Polnitsch-Weistritz and Kroischwitz and encamped between Freiburg (present-day Swiebodzice/PL) and Kunzendorf (present-day Mokrzeszów/PL).
- Drašković and Morocz remained near Burkersdorf and Pilzen, guarding with weak detachments the banks of the Peile and of the Weistritz to the east and south of Schweidnitz, as well as the mountain ridge up to Steinkunzendorf (present-day Kamionki/PL); and erecting entrenchments at river crossings and mountain passes.
- Buccow was posted at Cammerau (present-day Komorów/PL) with the rearguard (7,000 men) to support these advanced positions. These arrangements made it possible to supply Schweidnitz.
On December 14
- Zieten considered the Austrian positions along the Weistritz too well defended to attack them frontally. He transferred Grenadier Battalion Kreytzen and 80 men of Seydlitz Hussars from Neisse (present-day Nysa/PL) to protect his bakery established at Reichenbach. Zieten also detached 1 bn of Meyerinck Infantry and the Herzog von Württemberg Dragoons from his own corps to reinforce the detachment guarding this bakery.
On December 15
- Meier’s detachment advanced up to Puschkau (present-day Pastuchów/PL) and Tschechen (present-day Czechy/PL) in a vain attempt to catch up with Kálnoky’s Corps while it was retreating into the mountains.
Around mid-December, Zieten sent Colonel von Werner’s detachment (Grenadier Battalion Ramin, Freibataillon Kalben, Werner Hussars and commandeered troops from Warnery Hussars) across the Eulengebirge (present-day Góry Sowie Mountains) to bypass Austrian positions and take position in the region of Landeshut. Despite the snowy weather, Werner vainly tried to march by Steinkunzendorf around the southernmost Austrian outposts. He finally obtained Frederick’s authorisation to launch a raid in Bohemia.
On December 16
- By that date, Zieten’s Corps had slowly advanced to a line from Pfaffendorf (present-day Książnica/PL), by Faulbrück (present-day Mościsko/PL) to Neudorf (present-day Nowa Wieś Niemczańska or Nowa Wieś Kłodzka/PL).
- Driesen’s detachment appeared in the neighbourhood of Liegnitz.
- Werner’s detachment, who had had resumed its march southwards to Silberberg (present-day Srebrna Gora/PL), suddenly entered into Bohemia, advancing by Jauernig (present-day Javorník ve Slezsku/CZ) and Weidenau (present-day Vidnava/CZ) towards Mährisch Neustadt (present-day Uničov/CZ) where an Austrian corps under Colonel von Simbschen was posted.
- In the evening, Lieutenant-General von Fouqué, accompanied by Grenadier Battalion Nimschöfsky and I./Fouqué Fusiliers, arrived at Zieten’s camp to assume command. Jahnus had now retreated from Glatz and Frederick had decided to replace Zieten by Fouqué, judging that the former was not aggressive enough.
- The main Austrian army reached Landeshut unmolested. There, for the first time since the defeat of Leuthen, it could be quartered or cantoned.
- On December 16, Prince Charles finally sent a letter to Sprecher from Schurz (present-day Žireč/CZ), instructing him that he should not capitulate unless he had obtained free withdrawal. Otherwise, he should defend Breslau to the last extremity.
On December 17
- On his first day as commander, Fouqué immediately resumed advance at the head of his new corps and reached the region north of Schweidnitz.
- The reinforcements (2,500 men) previously sent to Liegnitz finally arrived at destination, bringing the garrison to a strength of 3,500 men. This garrison was under the command of Colonel Baron von Bülow.
On December 18
- Meier’s Corps, which had been reinforced by Jung-Krockow Dragoons, Czettritz Dragoons and 1 bn of Zieten Hussars previously sent by Zieten, arrived at Rohnstock (present-day Roztoka/PL near Dobromierz) on the Wütende Neisse River (present-day Nysa Szalona).
- Fouqué’s Corps reached the region of Hohenfriedeberg (present-day Dobromierz/PL) and Freiburg and established contact with Meier’s Corps.
- Kálnoky, Drašković and Morocz retreated towards Landeshut.
- Buccow arrived at Nieder-Adelsbach (probably Struga) unimpaired.
On December 19, Fouqué incorporated Meier’s small corps into his own corps.
On December 20
- Fouqué’s Corps marched in three columns.
- Werner’s detachment arrived in front of Mährisch Neustadt where it was reinforced by 1 bn of Garrison Regiment X Blanckensee, sent from Neisse. However, Simbschen had already evacuated the town and retired to Troppau (present-day Opava/CZ)
- The Austrian garrison of Breslau (13 generals, 670 officers and 17,000 men including sick and wounded) surrendered as prisoners of war. The Prussians captured 81 field-pieces, all fortress artillery, 1,000 horses, a large quantity of grain and a sum of 144,000 Gulden.
- The remnants of the Austrian main army (some 25,000 men) crossed the Bohemian border. The greatest part of the army took up temporary quarters in the region of Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ).
- At Troppau, Simbschen assembled all troops at his disposal:
- Simbschen Infantry (4 bns for a total of 2,200 men)
- cuirassiers (200 men)
- Saxon Uhlans (2 pulks for a total of 700 men)
- hussars (400 men)
On December 21
- Fouqué decided to attack Buccow’s Corps the next day.
- Buccow precipitously marched towards Landeshut and took position in the lines from Ruhbank (present-day Sędzisław/PL) and Hartmannsdorf (present-day Jaczków/PL) to Schwarzwaldau (present-day Czarny Bór/PL).
In the morning of December 22, Buccow’s Corps was posted on the heights to the east and north of Landeshut with his left wing under Kálnoky near Vogelsdorf (present-day Ptaszków/PL); his right wing, under Drašković, on the road leading from Landeshut to Schwarzwaldau; his Grenzer light troops occupied the abatis erected by Jahnus on the Buchberg during the previous summer, where six guns were planted. Gaisruck Infantry and Kheul Infantry, who had been posted in Liebau (present-day Lubawka/PL) and Schömberg (present-day Chełmsko Śląskie/PL), were called to the rescue. At 10:00 a.m. the Prussians launched their attack in three columns under the command of Meier, Zieten and Fouqué against Ruhbank, Hartmannsdorf and Forst (unidentified location). Meier was unable to dislodge the Austrians from the well defended village of Vogelsdorf while Zieten made demonstrations in front of the enemy positions and Fouqué threatened their right flank and rear defended by Drašković whose Grenzer light troops fled into Landeshut, without waiting for the approaching reinforcements. To escape encirclement, Buccow retired to the Kirchberg, south of Landeshut. Around 4:00 p.m., he retreated towards Liebau. The Freikorps and the Prussian hussars, slightly delayed by snow, entered into Landeshut where they captured 5 officers and 180 men and a large quantity of supply. Buccow had posted a cavalry detachment (Morocz, Luzinsky with 2 hussar rgts and Esterházy with 180 hussars and 200 Grenzer light troops) at Grüssau to cover his flank during the retreat.
On December 23
- Frederick now intended to recapture Liegnitz, to surround Schweidnitz and to take position on the border with Bohemia. Accordingly, he set off from Breslau with 36 bns, 33 sqns and some heavy artillery and advanced in several columns towards Liegnitz and Schweidnitz. He established his headquarters at Striegau. Prince Moritz of Anhalt-Dessau with the rightmost column (8 bns, 14 heavy guns and 6 mortars under Lieutenant-General von Brandes) advanced towards Liegnitz. On his way, he effected a junction with Driesen’s 10 sqns. In the evening,
- Lieutenant-Colonel von Dieringshofen vainly summoned the Austrian garrison of Liegnitz (approx. 3,700 men under Colonel von Bülow).
- Fouqué’s Corps advanced to the neighbourhoods of Liebau and Grüssau where it would stay until December 28. Frederick then entrusted the command of these frontier posts to Zieten and recalled Fouqué to undertake the blockade of Schweidnitz.
- The main Austrian army marched towards the border between Silesia and Bohemia by the road leading from Liebau to Trautenau (present-day Trutnov/CZ). In Silesia, only the towns of Liegnitz and Schweidnitz were still in the hands of the Austrians.
- Buccow’s Corps marched to Trautenau. Buccow blocked the mountain roads with light troops and numerous barricades.
- At Liegnitz, Bülow rejected the free withdrawal which Frederick had offered on conditions that the Austrians would deliver all their artillery and that they would not serve against Prussia for a year. Bülow then took dispositions to burn down the suburbs of Liegnitz.
On December 24
- Frederick accompanied by his brother, Prince Ferdinand, left for Schweidnitz.
- In Bohemia, Werner’s detachment occupied Troppau without meeting any serious resistance.
- Simbschen retired to Grätz (present-day Hradec nad Moravicí/CZ) and Fulnek.
- On that day, Prince Moritz of Anhalt-Dessau arrived in front of Liegnitz. Including Driesen's detachment, he had about 16,000 men under his command. The Katz River was frozen, making it quite easy to launch an assault on the town. The prince summoned Bülow who refused to surrender unless he and his garrison were allowed to freely retire to Bohemia.
- The Austrian army had finally reached Königgrätz, it then counted only 37,000 rank and file (9,000 foot and 28,000 horse and grenzers), 22,000 of whom were gone to hospital. A large number of men had deserted during the retreat.
On December 28, Frederick finally offered to let the Austrian garrison freely withdraw to Bohemia under the conditions that the sick, the Prussian deserters, the captured Prussian artillery and the provision depots would be left behind in Liegnitz. Bülow accepted these new conditions and capitulated.
On December 29 at noon, the Austrian garrison left Liegnitz with the honour of war, drum beating, colours flying and with 6 guns. It was escorted by 100 cuirassiers who were replaced by a hussar detachment from Zieten’s Corps at Liebau. The Austrian garrison thus retired to Bohemia where it reached Königgrätz after a march of 9 days. In Liegnitz, large supplies of provisions fell into the hands of the Prussians together with a number of guns and a great quantity of ammunition.
During this time, Lieutenant-General Fouqué was instructed to establish the blockade of Schweidnitz with 17 bns and 35 sqns. The remaining Prussian troops took up their winter-quarters in Lower Silesia.
By the end of 1757, the only Austrian troops remaining in Silesia were those garrisoning Schweidnitz. Furthermore, 40,000 Austrians had been made prisoners and 4,000 wagons captured during this memorable campaign. From the 90,000 men strong army who had crossed the Queiss on September 13, less than 25% had managed to return to Bohemia, not counting Marschall’s and Hadik’s corps who had been left in Lusatia.
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. 223-226, 236-240
- Archenholz, J. W.: The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 70-71
- Carlyle, T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 18
- Donnersmarck, Victor Amadaeus Henckel von: Militaerischer Nachlass, Karl Zabeler, 1858
- Gorani, Joseph: Mémoires, Paris: Gallimard, 1944, pp. 64-82
- Relation de la bataille de Leuthen, Vienna, January 1758, pp. 472-477
- Relation de la bataille de Lissa, Berlin, January 1758, pp. 477-483
- Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763
- Vol. 3 Kolin, Berlin, 1901, pp. 115-196, Anhang 30, 38, 39 43
- Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin, 1902, pp. 117-216
- Vol. 6 Leuthen, Berlin, 1904, pp. 5-18, 41-54
- Kyaw, Rudolf v.: Chronik des adeligen und freiherrlichen Geschlechtes von Kyaw, Leipzig, 1870 pp. 385-399
- Tempelhoff, Fr., History of the Seven Years' War Vol. I pp. 121-147 & 176-188 & 190-, 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. 427-433
Cogswell, Neil, Journal of Horace St. Paul 1757: The Advance to Nismes, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. XI No. 3 and Vol. XII No. 2
Fuller J. F. C., The Decisive Battles of the Western World, Granada Publishing Ltd, 1970, pp. 571-576
Salisch, M. von: Treue Deserteure – Das kursächsische Militär und der Siebenjährige Krieg, Munich, 2009
Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, 2. part, Leipzig 1885
Skala, Harald: Rückzug des preussischen Heeres nach der Schlacht bei Kolin 1757, der Fall von Gabel und Zittau
Harald Skala for information on the Saxon cavalry during this period