1757 - Franco-Imperial invasion of Saxony

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1757 - Franco-Imperial invasion of Saxony

The campaign lasted from August to November 1757


Since mid-September 1756, prudent negotiations were conducted with the Holy Roman Empire to obtain its support for Austria and Saxony against Prussia.

On January 17 1757, the Imperial Diet assembled in Regensburg resolved to arm in support of Austria. Troops should be ready at the end of March between Nuremberg and Würzburg.

Raising of the Reichsarmee

On January 29 1757, it was decided that the Holy Roman Empire would supply triple contingents.

On March 17, the Imperial Diet put Frederick II of Prussia to the ban of the Empire and ordered the Reichsarmee (Reich Execution Army) to march against him.

In May-June, there was busy preparation and enlistment all over the Holy Roman Empire.

On June 15, the Prince de Soubise quitted the French main army operating in Westphalia for Versailles to receive new instructions.

On June 19, the Duke of Sachsen-Hildburghausen assumed command of the Reichsarmee and set off to join his troops.

On June 27, Hildburghausen arrived at Nuremberg.

In the last days of June, the Reichsarmee assembled at Fürth near Nuremberg, encamping between Fürth and Farrnbach (present-day Burgfarrnbach), on the east side of the Regnitz River.

A Second French Army enters Germany

At Versailles, Soubise received orders to effect a junction with the Reichsarmee near Erfurt where he would place himself under the command of Hildburghausen. Initially, the French only planned to occupy the line of the Saale River and then to prepare for the siege of Magdeburg, a fortress belonging to the Kingdom of Prussia.

Meanwhile, the elements of a second French army, under the Prince de Soubise, departed from Fort Saint-Louis and Strasbourg in Alsace and from Ohmen (probably Nieder-Ohmen) and Oppenheim in Rhine-Hesse.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of Soubise's French army on July 3 1757

Schedule of arrival of the various contingents of the Reichsarmee from July 5 1757

By July 3, Soubise's Army (31 bns, 22 sqns, 1 artillery bn, 600 artillery horses, 40 pieces, Boisgnerelle Miner coy and Dugué Worker coy for a total effective strength of approximately 24,000 men) was supposed to be assembled at Strasbourg. It crossed the Rhine in Frankfurt country all through July.

Saint-Germain was sent forward to Fürth to discuss with Hildburghausen on the junction and the services of both armies.

On July 5, Hildburghausen established his headquarters at Fürth. The Reichsarmee began to assemble in a camp between Fürth and Pfarrbach.

On July 9, when Hildburghausen heard that the Prussian detachments (under Major-General von Oldenburg and Lieutenant-Colonel von Mayr) conducting incursions in Franconia and Thuringia were retiring towards Saxony, he ordered the Franconian Contingent to join his army at Fürth.

On July 27, Soubise was instructed to take possession of the County of Hanau and to sojourn in this county until his march to Thuringia.

Soubise marched north-eastward from Strasbourg and Fort Louis to Hanau, passing by Rastatt, Grünwinkel, Bruchsal, Wiesloch, Heidelberg, Weinheim, Heppenheim, Zwingenberg, Eberstadt, Dieburg and Aschaffenburg; a march of about 250 km. His main body was preceded by a vanguard (8 bns, 1 cavalry rgt, 2 pieces) under Nicolaï.

On July 28, Nicolaï reached Mainz.

On July 31, the corps destined to take possession of Hanau arrived in front of the town. Nicolaï advanced on the town at the head of Piémont Infanterie to summon it to surrender. The town having no garrison quickly surrendered.

At the end of July, the Reichsarmee asking for a reinforcement of light troops, Colonel G. Loudon was appointed commander of a corps of 4,000 Austrian light troops (from Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer, Karlstädter-Oguliner Grenzer, Karlstädter-Ottochaner Grenzer and Banal-Grenzinfanterieregiment nr. 2, 2 grenadier coys and 2 hussar rgts (Szechényi Hussars (4 sqns) and Splényi Hussars). He was assisted by GFWM Anton Count Szechényi and Maximilian Joseph Count Mitrovsky von Nemyšl. The corps concentrated at Altenberg and was despatched towards Saxony.

At the beginning of August, Loudon was informed by a deserter that a Prussian corps under General Itzenplitz was encamped at Gottleuba (present-day Gottleuba-Berggießhübel). Loudon advanced with his small corps to Hellendorf (present-day part of Gottleuba-Berggießhübel).

On August 2, Soubise arrived at Hanau while his army marched towards Erfurt. Finally the requests of the Court of Vienna were so pressing that Versailles decided to send troops immediately forwards to Erfurt as they were arriving at Hanau. All these bodies marched through the Kinzig Valley to Fulda by Langenselbold, Gelnhausen, Salmünster, Schlüchtern and Neuhof.

On August 5, the Austrian Court sent orders to Hildburghausen to march towards Erfurt with the Reichsarmee (30 bns, 23 grenadier coys, 19 sqns for a total of 20,201 men including 1,700 horse) and to effect a junction with Soubise's Army.

On August 8

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Bishop of Bamberg came at Fürth to take survey of the Reichsarmee.
    • Early on the morning, Loudon surprised the Prussians defending a redoubt at Gottleuba. The Erbprinz von Hessen-Darmstadt Infantry, which defended the entrenchments was driven back, losing 40 killed and 133 wounded while 100 men deserted. Furthermore, Loudon captured 4 guns. For his part, Loudon lost 21 men killed and 52 wounded. General Itzenplitz soon received the support of 3 grenadier bns despatched from Gießhübel (present-day Berggießhübel) and Loudon retired. He was forced to abandon 3 of the captured guns for lack of horses.

By August 11

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Reichsarmee, under the Prince of Hildburghausen, was preparing to get on march westward. No part of this army was well drilled. In fact, most of it was not drilled at all. In theory, this army should have far exceeded 50,000 men but, on the field, it barely reached the 20,000 mark. Austria additionally supplied 8,000 good troops, among them two regiments of cuirassiers: (Bretlach and Trauttmansdorff).
    • The vanguard (9 bns, 6 grenadier coys, 5 sqns) of the Reichsarmee under FML Prince Georg Wilhelm von Hessen-Darmstadt set off from Fürth towards Erfurt by Koburg and Arnstadt.

On August 15, Soubise personally left Hanau for Fulda.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Reichsarmee on August 17 1757

On August 17

On August 20, Soubise quitted Fulda, leaving M. de Mailly behind to occupy the town. He then joined Nicolaï and Piémont Infanterie at Eisenach.

Around August 21, the Austrian Bretlach Cuirassiers and Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers arrived at the camp of the Reichsarmee near Fürth to reinforce this army which was notoriously weak in cavalry.

Shortly afterwards, the Austrian Szechényi Hussars and Splényi Hussars; the Swabian Kreisinfanterieregiment Württemberg; Loudon's detachment; Kurköln Leibregiment and Kurköln Wildenstein Infantry; Mengersen Infantry of Paderborn; Elverfeldt Infantry and Nagel Infantry from Münster; and the Reichsreserveartillerie gradually arrived at the camp of Fürth. Overall, from the arrival of the first Franconian troops at Fürth to the arrival of the infantry regiments from Münster, eleven weeks had passed...

To march from Eisenach to Erfurt, Soubise's Army passed by Gotha which was still garrisoned by 1 bn and a few horse belonging to the Duke of Sachsen-Gotha whose allegiance was doubtful. Soubise required that the militia would be disarmed, regular troops disbanded and all weapons taken.

On August 23

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen personally marched from Fürth near Nuremberg at the head of the first line of the Reichsarmee towards Erfurt by Erlangen, Bamberg, Meiningen and Schmalkalden.
    • Salzburg Infantry was left in Nuremberg as garrison.
    • The first column of French troops arrived at Erfurt while the last column with the heavy artillery had just crossed the Neckar at Heidelberg.

On August 24, Loudon sent Major Nostrowitzky with some hussars towards Meissen to destroy Prussian magazines.

Frederick II has to rush to Saxony from Silesia

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of Frederick's Prussian army on August 25 1757

On August 25

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise left Gotha to march towards Erfurt. Upon their arrival at Erfurt, 2 bns of Piémont Infanterie entered into the town where they joined Blau Würzburg Infantry and 1 bn of the Austrian Gaisruck Infantry.
    • The second line of the Reichsarmee marched from Fürth under the command of FZM Prince von Baden-Durlach.
    • Hildburghausen, informed of the depredations of Soubise's Army in Gotha, Eisenach and Erfurt, hastened to reach Erfurt. Soubise met him in Erfurt but refused, allegedly as instructed from Paris, to recognize Hildburghausen as commander-in-chief of the combined armies. Hildburghausen was also informed by Austrian envoys that Frederick was on the march towards Thuringia at the head of 20,000 men.
    • In Vienna, Empress Maria Theresia issued a decree to promote Loudon to General-Feldwachtmeister (major-general). Unfortunately the courier carrying this document was later intercepted by a Prussian patrol. Frederick II sent a trumpeter to transmit the document to Loudon with his personal congratulations (!).
  • Prussians
    • Frederick II marched from Bernstadt auf dem Eigen in the Görlitz Country for Thuringia with a sizeable force (12 bns, 18 sqns), leaving the Duke of Braunschweig-Bevern and Winterfeldt to command the holding force in Silesia.

On his way, Frederick was reinforced by 4 bns and 5 sqns who had been escorting a convoy between Bautzen and Bernstadt.

Order of Battle
Schedule of arrival of the various contingents of Soubise's French Army from August 23, 1757

Between August 23 and September 6, French units joined the Reichsarmee at Erfurt and Eisenach.

On August 26, the vanguard of the Reichsarmee (9 bns and 1 dragoon rgt) under Prince Georg of Hessen-Darmstadt reached Arnstadt where it stopped according to Hildburghausen's orders.

On August 27

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Szechényi's Hussar Brigade occupied Magdala and Mellingen to the east of Arnstadt.
    • The 5 approaching bns of the Electorate of Cologne and of Westphalia received orders to march to Meiningen

On August 27, Frederick reached Groß-Harthau.

On August 28

  • Franco-Imperials
    • By that date, Loudon had a total of 3,196 Grenzer light troops fit for service and a detachment of 347 hussars from various rgts.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick's Corps rested at Groß-Harthau.
    • Prince Moritz, still encamped near Groß-Sedlitz, received orders from Frederick instructing him to retire to Dresden where he would effect a junction with his own a corps. On his way, he had to gather some pontoons at Pirna.
    • Frederick was informed that the French army had driven Cumberland's army back to the sea. Finck also sent news from Dresden informing Frederick that some 16,000 French had taken position between Gotha and Eisenach while 16,000 men of the Reichsarmee should march from Fürth towards Saalfeld; and that French hussars were already roaming the area of Leipzig. Frederick hoped to offer battle to the Franco-Imperial army on August 31 or September 1.

On Monday August 29

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The second column of the Reichsarmee was near Bamberg.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick arrived in Dresden where he incorporated Moritz's force (III. and IV./Garrison Regiment VII von Lange (2 bns)) into his own. Frederick was now at the head of a force of about 23,000 men (16,800 foot, 5,160 horse, 400 artillerymen). More precisely, this force consisted of 31 bns and 45 sqns, all seriously depleted from the previous battles at Prague and Kolin as well as by desertion. On average, each infantry battalion counted about 600 men while each cavalry squadron averaged some 120 men.
    • In Dresden, Frederick was informed that the French had occupied Merseburg and Gotha; while Loudon was raiding the vicinities of Leipzig after capturing the magazines of Borna, Grimma and Eilenburg.
    • Major-General Hauß, who commanded in Leipzig, feared encirclement. Frederick immediately detached Seydlitz with 10 sqns (Katte Dragoons (5 sqns) and Szekely Hussars (5 sqns)) to search for a party of hussars under Turpin who was threatening Leipzig and Halle.
    • Frederick was now ready to head towards Thuringia and offer battle to the Franco-Imperial Army.

On Tuesday August 30

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Loudon planned to effect a junction with Turpin Hussards led by Colonel Lancelot Comte Turpin de Crissé near Weissenberg. However, Loudon was informed that Frederick II intended to cross the Elbe River and decided to return to Freiberg. Turpin asked once more to Loudon to join him so Loudon and General Szechényi at the head of the hussars set off from Freiberg.
  • Prussians

On August 31

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Franco-Imperials had no troops in the region of Dresden at that time to the exception of Loudon's light troops which fell back on the main army as Frederick approached.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick marched with his vanguard (now 8 bns, 15 sqns, 12 heavy pieces and 38 pontoon-wagons). Freibataillon Mayr had the vanguard and accompanied the king. Frederick's destination was Erfurt, a march of some 275 km by Topschadel, Döbeln, Grimma on the Mulda, Rötha and Pegau.
    • Field-Marshal Keith followed with the remainder of the army with Ferdinand and Moritz following in several columns.

N.B.: it seems that, by this date, the only Grenzer unit still attached to Loudon's detachment was the Karlstädter-Ottochaner Grenzer, the other units being reported at Moys on the Silesian border on September 7. Another possibility is that only part of each of these regiments were with Loudon.

On September 2, Seydlitz reached Leipzig. Upon his approach, Turpin quickly retreated.

On September 2, Loudon reached Borna with his light troops.

On September 3, Frederick sent Freibataillon Mayr and 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars to reinforce Seydlitz at Leipzig.

On September 4

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Szechényi's Hussar Brigade, who had been sent to reconnoitre the eastern bank of the Saale, reached Altenburg where it received orders from Hildburghausen to effect a junction with Loudon's Light Corps and to secure the bridges on the Elster at Zeitz and Pegau.
    • Turpin retired towards Richelieu's main body.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick reached Grimma on the Mulde with his vanguard.
    • The main body under Keith reached Polditz.
    • Heavy artillery, bridging equipment, baggage and provisions followed at a slower pace, escorted by 7 bns to protect them against Loudon's raids.
    • All unnecessary baggage was sent to Torgau. The very arduous marches had been effected under continuous rain. Conditions were so difficult for the troops that more than 1,000 men deserted in three days.

On September 5

  • Prussians
    • The vanguard marched to Rötha, to the south of Leipzig (the eighth stage from Dresden).
    • The main body reached Grimma.

On September 6

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Loudon's Light Corps reached Weissenfels. Part of this corps had marched along the left flank of Frederick's Army. Splényi Hussars had been left behind in Treben south of Borna. Szechényi Hussars took position at Zeitz, leaving 200 hussars at Pegau.
    • Soubise's Army had now gradually reached Erfurt in eight columns. It totalled 20 bns and 10 sqns (a total of 24,000 men including 4,000 Bavarians and 6,000 Württembergers in French pay). The last column was expected in Erfurt on September 22. In French circles Soubise's Army was known as L'armée de la Dauphine or for shortness La Dauphine.
    • When Soubise was informed that Frederick was approaching, he initially wanted to relocate the assembly place further west at Eisenach but finally decided to maintain his positions, sending 4 sqns to secure the passage of the Saale at Kösen (present-day Bad Kösen). They destroyed the bridge at Camburg.
    • Hildburghausen let Blau Würzburg Infantry advance from Erfurt to Buttstädt from where its 2 grenadier coys were detached to Kösen.
    • Soubise was at Erfurt where he was informed that Loudon had reached Weissenfels with Grenzer troops and had made a junction with Szechényi Hussars (3 sqns) and Splényi Hussars (3 sqns) serving under Szechényi in the Reichsarmee.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick's Army rested, allowing the heavy artillery and provisions to catch up.
    • Frederick, informed that there were no enemy detachments around Leipzig, sent Retzow there with the provision wagons to bake bread for the army.
    • Seydlitz informed Frederick that the detachments, which he had sent to reconnoitre the Saale, had come to contact with French hussars.
    • From Rötha, Frederick wrote to the Maréchal Duc de Richelieu, suing for peace. A request that remained unanswered by the French Court.

On September 7

On September 8

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise recalled the French cavalry posted at Kösen to Erfurt.
    • Loudon occupied Kösen.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced to Unternessa with his vanguard.
    • Keith crossed the Pleisse and the Weisser Elster with the main body and encamped at Pegau.
    • Major von Kleist was sent to reconnoitre in the direction of Weissenfels with 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars. He found that Loudon had evacuated the town and that the bridge had been broken. However, the inhabitants rapidly re-established this bridge.

On September 9

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Szechényi retired to Kösen where Loudon was already posted. During Szechényi's retreat, 1 officer and 20 men of his rearguard were taken prisoners. Loudon and Szechényi remained near Kösen on the heights west of the Saale till nightfall.
    • The first column of the Reichsarmee reached Mehlis to the north-east of Meiningen. Meanwhile, the second column reached Saalfeld.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced to Naumburg with his vanguard.
    • The main body advanced to Wernsdorf, Obernessa and Unternessa.
    • Frederick threw troops in the town of Altenburg and detached troops to occupy the heights near Schulpforte.

In the night of September 9 to 10, Loudon and Szechényi retired to Buttelstedt.

On September 10

  • Prussians
    • 5 bns, the hussars and the dragoons crossed the Saale at Naumburg on a trestle bridge, by a ford near Altenburg and on the bridge at Kösen. They occupied Pomnitz and Niedermöllern.
    • Frederick ceded command to Prince Heinrich and returned to Naumburg.
    • Keith encamped south-west of Naumburg with the main body.

In the night of September 10 to 11, Soubise retired from Erfurt towards Eisenach. Hildburghausen had no choice but to follow his retreat. Loudon and Szechényi acted as rearguard.

On September 11

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghasen marched to Eisenach.
    • Prince Georg marched from Arnstadt to Waltershausen.
    • Loudon and Szechely reached Erfurt.
    • Splényi Hussars retired from Krossen by Jena to Weimar.
    • Soubise reached Gotha under continuous rain and sent some dragoons to Langensalza.
    • Informed of the situation, Richelieu, ordered to his main army to advance on Brunswick and Wolfenbüttel.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick marched to Braunsroda with his vanguard.
    • The main body followed along the Saale and encamped west of Kösen.
    • Frederick learned that Soubise's Army had retired from Erfurt to Gotha on its way to Eisenach. Frederick considered that his army was not strong enough to attack Soubise in an entrenched camp. He resolved to divide his army in three corps:
      • a corps under his own command who would remain at Erfurt
      • a corps under Prince Moritz who should cover Torgau and the Mark against Austrian incursions
      • a corps under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick who should advance against Richelieu's troops in the territory of Halberstadt.

On September 12

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The first column of the Reichsarmee marched from Mehlis towards Eisenach.
    • Loudon, realizing that Turpin had already retreated, effected a junction with the Reichsarmee.
    • Splényi Hussars arrived at Erfurt.
    • The French captured the Fortress of Regenstein in the territory of Halberstadt.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick reached the vicinities of Krautheim and Buttelstedt with his vanguard.
    • Keith, according to Frederick's instructions, left 6 bns (Alt-Braunschweig, Hülsen and Anhalt-Dessau) and 10 sqns (Leibregiment zu Pferde and Driesen Cuirassiers) in and around Eckartsberga under Major-General Baron Schönaich and marched with the rest of the main body to a camp between Buttstädt and Mannstedt. The mortars and the wagons of the heavy artillery remained in Naumburg.
    • Frederick received confirmation of the intervention of a corps from Richelieu's Army in the territory of Halberstadt.

The Franco-Imperial Army retreats to Eisenach Hills

Frederick was now facing a dilemma. He could not pursue the retreating Franco-Imperial without moving dangerously away from Bevern's Army left in the Görlitz area. Furthermore, some detachments from Richelieu's Army were committing depredations in the area of Magdeburg and Halberstadt to the north of Erfurt, requiring the intervention of Prussian troops.

On September 13

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise's Army retired from Gotha to Mechterstädt, the largest part of the army reaching Eisenach.
    • Szechényi with his hussar brigade and with the Volontaires de Nassau-Sarrebruck encamped west of Gotha with outposts near Erfurt.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced with 2 bns (Grenadier Battalion Lubath and Freibataillon Mayr) and 17 sqns (Meinicke Dragoons (5 sqns), Szekely Hussars (10 sqns) and Seydlitz Hussars (2 sqns)) from Neumark, near Buttelstedt, to Erfurt which he found occupied by 5 bns and by Szechényi's Hussar Brigade. Seydlitz took position with the hussars on a place to the east of Erfurt and form them in line to deceive the enemy about his real strength. His skirmishers opened fire on the gate. Szechényi's Brigade remained posted west of Erfurt for a while, then finally retired towards Gotha. The Franco-Imperial infantry retired from the walls of Erfurt. During this time, Frederick had reached the town at the head of Meinicke Dragoons. He gave orders to Seydlitz to summon Erfurt, the Cyriaksburg (an outwork south-west of Erfurt) and the Petersberg (the citadel of Erfurt) to surrender. Finally the garrison evacuated Erfurt, the Cyriaksburg and the Petersberg and declared that it would remain neutral as long as the Prussians were in the area. Frederick was satisfied with these conditions. At 4:00 p.m., he entered in Erfurt with his dragoons and hussars. The burghers welcome him. Frederick left 1 bn and 10 sqns under Adjutant M. Grant to occupy Erfurt. The infantry took quarters in the vicinities of Kerspleben and the cavalry encamped. Frederick established his quarters in Ilversgehofen, some 3 km north of Erfurt.
    • Keith was ordered to march from Buttstädt with the rest of the heavy artillery and 3 bns (1 bn Grenadier Garde Battalion Retzow, 2 bns Forcade) towards Erfurt. However, 11 bns and 10 sqns remained under the command of Prince Moritz.
    • Moritz left Grenadier Battalion Wedell in Naumburg and marched with 10 bns ( Grenadier Battalion Kremzow, Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck, 2 bns Meyerinck, 2 bns Winterfeldt, 2 bns Kleist, 2 bns Goltz) and 10 sqns (Gens d'Armes, Rochow Cuirassiers) with four 12-pdrs by Naumburg and Wurzen towards Torgau and the Mark to cover the region from incursions of Marschall's Corps. If ever the Franco-Imperial marched against Moritz's Corps, Frederick planned to retire to Pegau and to recall Moritz's Corps. If everything was calm at Torgau, Moritz should retire to Wurzen to cover the magazines at Torgau.
    • Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick received orders to advance towards Halberstadt with the 6 bns, 11 sqns (including 1 sqn of Seydlitz Hussars) and four 12-pdrs posted at Eckatsberga and to drive back Fischer's Corps and protect the region against French depredations.

On September 14

By mid September, Bercheny was encamped near Kassel with a French Corps. He sent a detachment of Turpin Hussards from Witzenhausen to Ollendorf to reconnoitre towards Langensalza.

On September 15

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The first column of the Reichsarmee established its camp at Eisenach.
    • Upon Frederick's approach, Szechényi retired to Mechterstädt where he effected a junction with Loudon's Corps.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced on Gotha with 21 sqns (a mixed force of dragoons and hussars). Seydlitz, who led the Prussian hussars, engaged Szechényi's outposts at Siebleber and pursued them beyond Gotha.
    • Frederick entered into Gotha at the head of Meinicke Dragoons. During a dinner with the Duke, he was informed that the Franco-Imperial army was strongly entrenched at Eisenach and that Prince Georg von Hessen was still on his way between Arnstadt and Schmalkalden with a column of the Reichsarmee.
    • At 6:00 p.m., Frederick retired to Gamstädt near Erfurt, leaving Seydlitz to occupy Gotha with a detachment of 5 squadrons of Meinicke Dragoons.

On September 16

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The last French column arrived at Eisenach from Strasbourg. Soubise's French Army then counted 24,000 men, including 3,300 cavalrymen.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick returned to his headquarters at Dittelstedt, leaving Katte Dragoons at Gamstädt and the 10 squadrons of Szekely Hussars in a camp on the Galgenberg west of Gotha.

On September 17

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Szechényi Hussars advanced once more on Gotha but were repulsed with losses at Trügleben. **In the Franco-Imperial camp at Eisenach, Hildburghausen and Soubise were informed of the recent presence of Frederick at Gotha. Hildburghausen recommended a reconnaissance in force towards Gotha and Soubise agreed with this proposal.
    • The second column of the Reichsarmee finally reached Eisenach. The heavy baggage of the two columns had been left behind at Meiningen under the protection of 3 bns (including Nagel Infantry who arrived only on September 20) and 11 sqns. Throughout their march, the two columns of the Reichsarmee had suffered from a lack of provisions. However, after their arrival at the camp of Eisenach they received steady supplies. The Reichsarmee now consisted (including Loudon's Corps of 6 Grenzer bns and 3 hussar sqns) of 42 bns, 34 grenadier coys and 48 sqns (including 2 carabinier coys) for a total of approx. 32,000 men). If we exclude the 3 bns and 11 sqns left at Meiningen, Kurmainz Infantry which was still in Erfurt and Salzburg Infantry, in Nuremberg, there were 34 bns, 28 grenadier coys and 37 sqns at the camp of Eisenach. Once combined, the Franco-Imperial army numbered more than 50,000 men. There were also 62 regimental pieces (including two small 3-pdr “Geschwindschüsse” supplied to the Grenzer light troops on September 14 at Gotha and returned to the arsenal in October), 12 pieces (10 x 3-pdr guns, 2 x 12-pdr howitzer with 8 ammunition wagons and 10 ammunition carts) of the Reichsreserveartillerie.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick relocated his headquarters in Kerspleben.

The camps of Soubise's French army and of the Reichsarmee were both located on the left bank of the Hörsel near Eisenach. The German cavalry was posted north of the Hörsel. The infantry of the Reichsarmee was encamped on the heights south-east and south of Eisenach. The camp of the French infantry extended from the road leading to Marksuhl north-westwards on the heights between Klausberg and Rangenhof. The cavalry was posted across the road to Marksuhl. There were also outposts on the southern side of the Hörsel Valley up to Wartha. The two camps were strongly entrenched.

Soubise considered that the Reichsarmee was too weak to allow him to face Frederick and planned to retreat north-westwards to Kassel. Hildburghausen for his part advocated to take position at Erfurt.

In the night of September 17 to 18, some Franco-Imperial troops marched to Mechterstädt where they joined the 2 Austrian hussar rgts (Szechényi Hussars and Splényi Hussars) along with Volontaires de Nassau-Sarrebruck, under M. de Wurmser, and Loudon's Grenzers.

On September 18

  • Franco-Imperials
    • 3 French bns sent by Bercheny reached Eschwege. Bercheny also kept an infantry detachment and 10 sqns ready to come to Soubise's support.
    • At 8:00 p.m., Soubise and Hildburghausen personally accompanied 30 sqns (including Turpin Hussards), 40 grenadier coys and 13 artillery pieces from their camp at Eisenach. This corps effected a junction with Szechényi's 14 sqns (including Szechényi Hussars and Splényi Hussars) and half of Loudon's Corps at Mechterstädt and marched towards Gotha with the goal of retaking the town. The force now counted approx. 9,500 men.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz reached Wurzen, threw a pontoon-bridge across the Mulde and sent his vanguard to the opposite bank. Because he had no hussars, he took 100 men from each of his cuirassier rgts equipped them with light horses and used them for reconnaissance. At Wurzen, he was informed by Minister von Borcke that Hadik was marching with approx. 13,500 men by Radeburg and Grossenhain towards Kossdorf. Small Austrian parties were raiding up to Jüterbog so it was impossible to determine if Hadik's Corps was advancing on Torgau, Wittenberg or against the Mark. The same day, Moritz received a letter from Frederick instructing him to march without worry to Torgau if necessary and to observe movements on the right bank of the Elbe. Frederick planned to effect a junction with Moritz within eight days after repulsing the Franco-Imperial army.
    • A corps under Ferdinand of Brunswick was at Erfurt.

Action at Gotha

Prussian Hussars seize the baggage of the French officers near Gotha on September 19, 1757 - Source: Richard Knötel, 1895

On September 19, early in the morning, Soubise and Hildburghausen reached the heights near Aspach (approx. 3 km west of Trügleben) and sent their hussars forward.

At 7:00 a.m., the Prussian hussar outpost at Trügleben spotted enemy cavalry on the neighbouring heights. Seydlitz alerted Meinicke Dragoons.

At 8:00 a.m., Soubise and Hildburghausen arrived near Gotha at the head of their vanguard. Their light troops forced the Prussian hussars to retire towards the dragoons of Seydlitz's detachment.

Seydlitz went to the Galgenberg from where he could see a strong corps following the Austrian hussars. He decided to evacuate Gotha and to retire eastwards to Gamstädt.

Seydlitz quickly evacuated Gotha at 9:00 a.m. From the Franco-Imperial force, only hussars went beyond Gotha but they soon halted and established outposts. The rest of this force took position between the road to Eisenach and the Krahnberg. Prince Georg von Hessen found open gates and entered into Gotha with 18 Imperial and French grenadier coys and 4 field pieces. Loudon's Grenzer light troops occupied the gardens to the east of the town.

By 11:00 a.m., the Prussian dragoons and hussars had retired from the area. Soubise and Hildburghausen then went to the Castle of Gotha and Soubise ordered his vanguard to retire to its camp at Mechterstädt and then progressively to Eisenach.

However, Seydlitz recalled the Katte Dragoons which were within reach of him. When they joined him at Tüttleben, Seydlitz thought himself sufficiently strong to attack the enemy. He artistically spread his force into single files on the prominent points of vision, deploying all his cavalry two ranks deep to deceive the enemy on his real strength (approx. 600 men of Szekely Hussars, 600 men of Katte Dragoons and 690 men of Meinicke Dragoons). A few coys dismounted and took position between sqns to give the impression that his force also included infantry.

Seydlitz also sent a dragoon, acting as a deserter, and a few peasants to Gotha where they declared that Frederick was advancing on Gotha with his entire army.

Seydlitz then advanced to the heights north of Siebleben with Szekely Hussars in first line, Meinicke Dragoons in second line and Katte Dragoons in third line. His detachment looked more like 15,000 than 2,000. His hussars soon engaged the outposts and alarm spread to the town.

Soubise and Hildburghausen did not plan to remain in Gotha with their entire force (their infantry had left their knapsacks at Eisenach) but intended to leave some troops in the town. They were having breakfast at the castle when they received news of the advance of Prussian troops. They could even see them from the castle deployed on the heights of Siebleben.

The Grenzer light troops posted in the gardens fired a salvo on Szekely Hussars and, despite their numerical superiority, retired towards the Krahnberg. Szekely Hussars broke open the Erfurter Gate and the Sieblebener Gate, entered into the town, attacked the castle and drove out four grenadier companies who were posted in it. Besides that, Seydlitz's hussars could hardly get a stroke at the enemy. They caught 51 privates and six officers, killed 30 and captured a lot of equipment

The pursuit ceased west of Gotha because the Franco-Imperial grenadiers had formed a large square.

Soubise and Hildburghausen immediately retreated with their force.

Map of the combat near Gotha on September 19 1757.
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab

In this action, the Prussians lost 2 men killed; 2 officers (Captain von Seydlitz of Szekely Hussars would soon die from his wounds) and 10 men wounded; and 13 hussars taken prisoners. For their part, the Franco-Imperials lost 30 men killed and their total losses was estimated at 200 men. The French contingent lost most of its baggage and 200 persons taken prisoners (including many valets, hairdressers and other servants.

Seydlitz reoccupied Gotha and encamped his troops east of the town.

Troubles from everywhere for Frederick

On September 20

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise and Hildburghausen arrived in Eisenach with their force.
    • Soubise had difficulties to obtain provisions for his army.
    • Despite clear orders from Vienna and Versailles that Hildburghausen was the commander-in-chief of the Franco-Imperial Army, Soubise remained very jealous of his own authority.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz brought back his main body to the right bank of the Mulde and removed his pontoon-bridge. He was then informed that Marschall's Corps was marching towards the Mark.

On September 21

  • Franco-Imperials
    • In the evening, Szechényi reoccupied Gotha with 3 hussar rgts.
    • Loudon took position at Ichtershausen, north of Arnstadt.
  • Prussians
    • Seydlitz retired unmolested to Erfurt.
    • Moritz marched to Schildau.

On September 22

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise decided to postpone the general advance of the Franco-Imperial army until September 27.
    • The Reichsarmee did not receive bread.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz marched to Torgau.

Frederick was so despaired by the general situation that he seriously considered to commit suicide.

On September 24, Moritz informed Frederick that from Torgau he could spot only small Austrian parties on the left bank of the Elbe.

On September 25, the Franco-Imperial hussars and the Volontaires de l'armée who occupied Gotha, reported that they had spotted 14 Prussian sqns and some infantry marching from Erfurt to Gotha.

On September 26, Moritz was convinced that Marschall's Corps was still in the area of Bautzen and that there were no immediate threats for the magazines in Torgau or for the Mark.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Franco-Imperial army on September 27 1757

On September 27, Soubise established a new camp facing east at Stockhausen, east of Eisenach. The Reichsarmee was deployed on the right wing, the French on the left.

On September 28

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Franco-Imperial Army debouched from Stockhausen towards Friedrichswerth.
    • Loudon, according to Hildburghausen's orders, marched from Ichtershausen to Rudolstadt to follow Frederick's probable line of retreat towards the Elbe.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick retired eastward to Buttelstedt, evacuating Erfurt, to give his army better quarters.

On September 29, Saint-Germain sent M. de Rougé to occupy Gotha with 4 bns, 4 sqns and 4 pieces.

On September 30, the Franco-Imperial army advanced from Stockhausen in 4 columns and encamped at Friedrichswerth on the Nesse.

On October 1

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The army marched from Friedrichswerth to Gotha where it encamped west of the town.
    • Saint-Germain occupied Erfurt.
    • Bayreuth Cuirassiers were sent to Gotha and the Kreisregiment Württemberg Dragoons to Eisenach.
    • Loudon had to send back a certain number of Grenzer light troops whose terms of service had expired. After their departure, he still had 2,464 Grenzer light troops among which 2,440 were fit for service.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz's Corps retired from Torgau to Eilenburg, leaving II./Goltz in Torgau with 1 bn of Garrison Regiment III Grolmann. In Eilenburg, he received orders from Frederick to move closer to Leipzig.

On October 2

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Detachments were pushed up to Weimar.
    • Before ordering any further advance, Hildburghausen held a council of war. The unanimous opinion was that the Reichsarmee could not oppose the Prussians in the open field and that it would be better to wait for their attack in good prepared positions. Furthermore, a report requested by Soubise and signed by all French generals, suggested a position in which the supply of the army would be guaranteed.
  • Prussians
    • At daybreak, Seydlitz attacked 300 French hussars posted at Ollendorf, taking 1 captain and 48 men prisoners.

On October 3, Frederick retired to Buttstädt where he would remain encamped until October 10 without being in the least disturbed by the Franco-Imperial Army.

On October 4

  • Franco-Imperials
    • When Soubise heard of Frederick's retreat, he sent his vanguard under Saint-Germain to occupy Weimar.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick gave orders to Moritz to move closer to Naumburg.

On October 5

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen marched to Erfurt at the head of 8 bns.
    • Soubise arrived at Erfurt.
    • Mailly marched to Gräfentonna with 2 cavalry brigades and 1 infantry brigade.
    • Szechényi marched from Weimar with his 2 hussar rgts and made a junction with Loudon on the Saale close to Jena.
    • The Franco-Imperial Army was deployed as follows:
      • camp near Gotha
        • the entire Reichsarmee to the exception of 12 bns
      • at Erfurt
        • 6 infantry brigades
        • French artillery
      • near Sonneborn on the Nesse
        • 2 cavalry brigades
        • some units of French dragoons
      • at Gräfentonna
        • 1 infantry brigade
        • 2 infantry brigades
      • garrison of Erfurt
      • camp near Erfurt
        • unidentified Imperial units (8 bns)
        • French grenadiers
        • some Imperial cavalry
      • at Gebesee and Weimar on the Werra under MM. de Wildenstein and de Rougé
        • some Imperial and French cavalry (800 men)
        • Imperial dragoons
        • French dragoons
        • Grenadiers (20 coys)
      • beyond Weimar
      • at Eisenach
        • some French infantry

On October 6

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Prince of Baden-Durlach was sent to Arnstadt with 8 bns.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz's Corps marched from Leipzig to Naumburg, in a position to effect a junction with Frederick's Corps.

On October 7

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Seeing that Frederick was standing firm in Buttstädt, Soubise and Hildburghausen returned to Gotha.
    • Richelieu sent Lieutenant-général Broglie (17 bns, 16 sqns and some field-guns for a total of about 15,000 men) from Halberstadt to reinforce the Franco-Imperial Army. D'Orlick (3 bns, 2 sqns) was also ordered to make a junction with Soubise's Army. More precisely, these reinforcements consisted of:
    • After a first march through the Hartz Mountains, Broglie encamped at Heimburg, having left several soldiers and the train behind.
  • Prussians
    • Seydlitz with Freibataillon Mayr and all dragoons and hussars advanced on Weimar. He could only note that the town and the villages beyond the Ilm were occupied.

On October 8

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise reached Gotha.
    • Saint-Germain retired from Weimar to Erfurt.
    • Broglie reached Benneckenstein.

On October 9

  • Franco-Imperials
    • In the evening, Soubise received a message from Richelieu informing him that Versailles had decided to send 17 bns and 16 sqns under the Duc de Broglie to reinforce the Franco-Imperial army. These reinforcements were marching by Nordhausen. Furthermore, another 3 bns and 2 sqns sent from Kassel and Göttingen by Mühlhausen would follow.
    • Broglie reached Ellrich.
    • Hadik marched from Radeburg and Grossenhain towards Elsterwerda.

On October 10

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise marched from Gotha to Langensalza to get closer to the arriving reinforcements, leaving 4 Imperial bns in Gotha.
    • Saint-Germain was at Erfurt with the vanguard (12 Imperial grenadier coys, 10 French grenadier coys, 3 hussar rgts, 1,000 Imperial horse and 4 pieces).
    • The Prince of Baden-Durlach at Arsnstadt with 10 bns and 5 sqns.
    • Major-General von Varel was near Gotha with 4 bns
    • Loudon's Corps was at Zeitz.
    • Broglie reached Nordhausen with 17 bns and 16 sqns.
    • The Comte d'Orlick advanced on Mühlhausen with 3 bns and 2 sqns.
  • Prussians
    • Despairing to lure the enemy into an open battle, Frederick retired eastward once more to Naumburg on the Saale to reduce the distance separating him from the Prussian army defending Silesia.
    • Moritz marched to Weissenfels to get closer to Leipzig and Torgau. He wrote to Frederick to inform him of the rumour that Marschall's Corps had already crossed the Elbe.

On October 11

  • Prussians
    • Frederick heard from General Finck that an Austrian force under General Hadik was conducting a raid towards Berlin. Frederick immediately rose in haste and marched with his corps from Buttstädt to Eckartsberga and Lißdorf, sending his artillery forward at Naumburg. He also sent orders to Moritz to immediately cross the Elbe near Torgau to forestall Hadik.

On October 13

  • Prussians
    • Frederick marched to Naumburg and Kösen, planning to leave Saxony and to rescue Berlin.
    • Moritz with 7 bns and 10 sqns marched by Markranstädt and Leipzig to Eilenburg. He had left 2 bns of Winterfeldt Infantry in Weissenfels and II./Goltz Infantry in Torgau.

On October 14

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Saint-Germain reoccupied Weimar and sent hussar parties towards Dornburg, Kösen and Merseburg. His hussars reported that the bridge at Kösen was still in the hands of the Prussians and that Frederick was marching towards Weissenfels.
    • Broglie divided his corps into two divisions, the first immediately marched from Nordhausen to Bleicherode.
  • Prussians
    • Seydlitz at the head of Szekely Hussars joined Moritz's Corps in Eilenburg to transmit Frederick's orders to Moritz to send the vanguard (Grenadier Battalion Ramin, Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck, 5 sqns Rochow Cuirassiers and 10 sqns Szekely Hussars) under Seydlitz by Torgau towards Berlin. Seydlitz reached Torgau the same day.
    • Frederick was informed by Finck, posted at Dresden, that one part of the Austrian corps at Lauban was advancing towards Sorau while the other part was marching by Hoyerswerda and Spremberg towards Lübben; and that Hadik had retired to Luckau. Furthermore, Moritz informed him that 15,000 Austrians had marched from Königsbrück by Elsterwerda and Sonnenwalde in the night of October 13 and reached Herzberg and penetrated into Brandenburg.
    • Frederick marched to Weissenfels and sent his artillery and bread-wagons to Leipzig. From Weissenfels, Frederick personally went to Leipzig to make preparations for the march towards Berlin, leaving command to Prince Heinrich at Weissenfels.
    • Keith remained in Naumburg with 7 bns (2 bns Markgraf Karl, 2 bns Forcade, Grenadier Battalion Kremzow, Grenadier Battalion Lubath, Freibataillon Mayr) and 6 sqns (Katte Dragoons and 1 sqn of Seydlitz Hussars) to observe the Franco-Imperial army with instruction to defend the passage of the Saale.

On October 15

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen wanted to cross the Saale but Soubise opposed his plan.
    • Saint-Germain advanced to Weimar with most of the vanguard.
    • Broglie's first division reached Keula while the second division marched from Nordhausen.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick sent orders to Ferdinand of Brunswick to march from Wanzleben towards Wittenberg.
    • Seydlitz reached Jessen with the vanguard.

On October 16

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen advanced towards the Saale with the Reichsarmee.
    • Soubise decided to remain at Langensalza.
    • Saint-Germain occupied Jena and Dornburg and let his cavalry advance on Naumburg.
    • Broglie's first division reached Mühlhausen.
  • Prussians
    • Prince Heinrich reached Leipzig.
Order of Battle
By October 17, with Richelieu operating in the region of Halberstadt, Hadik retiring from Berlin and Soubise and Hildbughausen posted in the region of Erfurt, Frederick had been forced to split his army in several corps:

Detailed order of battle of Keith's Corps on the Saale River
Detailed order of battle of Moritz's Corps in Berlin
Detailed order of battle of Frederick's Corps near Leipzig
Detailed order of battle of Ferdinand's Corps near Magdeburg

After October 17

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Saint-Germain advanced to Dornburg and Camburg with his corps.
    • The main body of the Reichsarmee reached Erfurt. Hildburghausen once more invited Soubise to effect a junction with the Reichsarmee so that, together, they could combine their operations with Marschall in Saxony. Soubise answered that he would not be ready to advance before October 23 when his artillery would join him.
    • Broglie's second division made a junction with his first corps at Mühlhausen. Broglie's entire Corps then passed under the command of the Prince de Soubise as part of the French Army of Saxony. Broglie's troops were in the worst conditions, without tents and deeply demoralised because they had been sent to another theatre of operation instead of taking up their winter-quarters.
  • Prussians

On October 18

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Reichsarmee sojourned near Erfurt.
    • To show his apparent good will, Soubise detached a column under the Lieutenant-General Comte de Mailly from Langensalza to reinforce the Reichsarmee.
  • Prussians
    • Prince Heinrich arrived at Eilenburg with the rest of Frederick's Corps.

The Franco-Imperial Army advances in the open

After the success of Hadik's raid on Berlin the Court of Versailles ordered the Franco-Imperial Army of Soubise and Hildburghausen to advance out of Eisenach Hills.

On October 19

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen personally went to Erfurt to discuss the situation with Soubise.
    • The Reichsarmee marched from Erfurt to Weimar where it did not find appropriate supply.
    • Companies of French grenadiers took position at Neumarkt near Merseburg.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick was marching back towards Schweinitz when he was informed by Finck that Marschall's Corps was still at Bautzen. Furthermore, as he reached Annaburg, Frederick received a message from Moritz informing him that Hadik had evacuated Berlin before Moritz's arrival. Frederick ordered Moritz to pursue Hadik towards Baruth as soon as his troops would be sufficiently rested. He also ordered Ferdinand of Brunswick to march towards Berlin and Prince Heinrich towards Herzberg.

On October 20

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Reichsarmee reached Dornburg.
    • Mailly marched to Nohra.
    • Saint-Germain marched to Schkölen and Osterfeld with the vanguard.
    • The Prince of Baden-Durlach crossed the Saale at Kahla.
    • Companies of French grenadiers marched from Neumarkt to Buttstädt.
    • Soubise finally decided to advance earlier than initially anticipated. He would march in several columns one after the other, each separated by a day's march.
    • Hildburghausen received a letter from the Emperor informing him that Marschall had orders to effect a junction with the Franco-Imperial army only if this army crossed the Elbe.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick's troops remained in Annaburg and Schweinitz while Frederick personally went to Herzberg where he met Prince Heinrich arriving with 3 bns (the rest of his corps was still in Torgau).
    • Rumours were reported to Frederick that the Swedes were advancing on Berlin by Prenzlau and that another Austrian corps was advancing from Frankfurt an Oder but the king did not believe them.
    • Keith's Corps was still posted at Naumburg. The bridge at Kösen was protected by Freibataillon Mayr.

On October 21

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen received news from Hadik's successful raid on Berlin.
    • Saint-Germain pushed his cavalry forward to Droyssig, west of Zeitz.
    • Szechényi marched to Pegau.
    • Loudon was at Zeitz.
  • Prussians
    • Keith evacuated Kösen and Naumburg and retreated to Weissenfels while a detachment under Lieutenant-General von Forcade destroyed the military bridge at Merseburg.
    • Frederick established his headquarters at Grochwitz where he remained until October 25.

On October 22

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise personally went to Dornburg.
    • Saint-Germain was at Zeitz, pushing light troops to Molsen probably Hohenmölsen) and Pegau.
    • The cavalry of the Reichsarmee crossed the Saale at Dornburg.
    • Hildburghausen was at Kösen.
  • Prussians
    • Keith marched from Weissenfels to Leipzig with his 2 grenadier bns and the hussars, leaving Major-General von Retzow with Markgraf Carl Infantry and the dragoons in Weissenfels and Forcade at Merseburg.
    • At Mittenwalde, Moritz learned that Hadik had already evacuated Luckau, Lübben and Beeskow.

On October 23

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise marched to Naumburg with his grenadiers and 2 cavalry brigades.
    • Broglie marched from Langensalza towards Weissensee.
    • The Lieutenant-General Comte Mailly (4 bns, 8 sqns) reached Stössen.
    • The infantry of the Reichsarmee reached Schkölen.
    • Saint-Germain reached Pegau.
    • Loudon reached Hohenmölsen.
    • Szechény's Hussar Brigade reached Rötha and advanced towards Eilenburg.
  • Prussians
    • Moritz learned that Hadik had already reached Spremberg. He received orders to join the Prussian army assembling at Elsterwerda for the planned return to Silesia.
    • Soon after sending his orders to Moritz, Frederick received a message from Keith informing him that he had taken refuge in Leipzig and that the Franco-Imperial army had crossed the Saale. Frederick immediately decided to postpone his return to Silesia. He sent new orders to Moritz to march towards Torgau and to Ferdinand to march towards Halle. Keith was instructed to wait for Frederick's arrival in Leipzig.

On October 24

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise and Hildburghausen had agreed to take Leipzig. Soubise's main body was supposed to cross the Saale at Kösen and Weissenfels.
    • Hildburghausen marched to Pegau with his vanguard. He sent Major-General von Hauß to summon Leipzig to surrender. Keith replied that he would answer as soon as he receives orders from Frederick who was at Jüterbog.
    • The main body of the Reichsarmee reached Teuchern.
    • Szechény, who had been reinforced by 8 grenadier coys, marched from Rötha to Markkleeberg.
    • Loudon marched from Hohenmölsen to Lützen.
    • Mailly marched from Stössen to Taucha, east of Weissenfels
    • Saint-Germain occupied Gautzsch (more probably Groitzsch).
    • Broglie's Corps marched from Mühlhausen to Weissensee.
  • Prussians
    • Keith, defending Leipzig with 7 bns, received confirmation that Frederick was on his way to relieve the place. He recalled Forcade's and Retzow's detachment to Leipzig.
    • Forcade reached Leipzig in the evening.
    • Retzow was so threatened by Loudon and Mailly that he postponed his departure.
    • Frederick reached Torgau with Prince Heinrich's Corps and the troops who had been left behind at Grochwitz and Herzberb. He also instructed Moritz to rest his infantry and cavalry.
    • Ferdinand marched to Möckern east of Magdeburg and then turned southwards to avoid Franco-Imperials detachments who had crossed the Elster at Schkeuditz and could threaten his flank if he marched directly to Halle.

In the night of October 24 to 25, Retzow evacuated Weissenfels and took position at Günthersdorf on the road from Merseburg to Leipzig.

On October 25

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Hildburghausen summoned Keith to surrender once more. The latter answered that he would defend the place to the last man.
    • The Franco-Imperial troops posted at Markkleeberg and Gautzsch moved closer to Leipzig.
    • Szechény went to meet Hildburghausen to inform him that Frederick was approaching Eilenburg with 8,000 men and numerous artillery. Szechény then returned to Rötha.
    • The main body of the Reichsarmee reached Pegau.
    • Mailly marched to Lützen.
    • The Prince of Baden-Durlach marched from Gera to Zeitz.
    • In the evening, Hildburghausen received a letter from Soubise written at Weissenfels, explaining him that he did not want to advance against Leipzig because Frederick and Ferdinand were coming to the relief of the city. He suggested to take position in an entrenched camp near Kösen behind the Saale and the Unstrut.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick's Corps marched from Torgau to Eilenburg, incorporating Itzenplitz Infantry in his army and leaving I.Leibgarde in Torgau.
    • Ferdinand marched from Möckern to Dessau. Frederick disapproved Ferdinand's decision because he had ordered him to march on Halle and to attack Broglie's Corps.
    • In the afternoon, Keith sent Lieutenant-Colonel Czetttitz at the head of the dragoons and hussars supported by Grenadier Battalion Kremzow to drive back the enemy. However, Czettritz retired to Leipzig when Szechényi Hussars threatened to cut them off. Leipzig was not protected by any walls or ditches. Keith took measures to defend the city: walling up some gates, dismantling some bridges and establishing breastworks. His troops had almost no reserve of powder.

In the night of October 25 to 26, Hildburghausen replied to Soubise, explaining him that it seemed feasible to gather all their forces and attack either Frederick or Prince Ferdinand while they were still separated; and that he considered Pegau as an excellent position. Finally, he asked Soubise to quickly decide whether he would move to block Ferdinand's way, or join him Pegau to attack Frederick. Soubise answered that he was against both proposals.

On October 26

  • Franco-Imperials
    • In the afternoon, Hildburghausen was informed that Frederick was now in Leipzig with 10,000 men and 18 heavy artillery pieces. In the evening, he ceded to Soubise's request and decided to assemble the entire army at Kösen.
    • Broglie's detachment arrived at Merseburg, it was now within reach of the Franco-Imperial Army.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick arrived in Leipzig with 4 bns (II. and III. Garde and Itzenplitz Infantry) and 8 sqns (Garde du Corps and Meinicke Dragoons).
    • Ferdinand marched to Delitzsch where he was once more ordered to advance on Halle. At dusk, his exhausted troops took quarters in a village 7.5 km north-east of Halle.
    • The other divisions under Ferdinand, Moritz and others were also converging on Leipzig.

On October 27

  • Franco-Imperials
    • As soon as his troops were rested, Broglie moved to Halle to guard the Saale bridge there.
    • The main body of Hildburghausen's Army marched from Pegau to Teuchern. Hildburghausen remained in these positions until October 29.
    • Loudon, reinforced by 12 Imperial grenadier coys, marched to Zwenkau.
    • Saint-Germain retired to Pegau.
    • Szechény retired to Lützen.
    • The Prince of Baden-Durlach retired to Mutschau east of Teuchern.
    • Soubise retired his troops from advanced posts on the Elster, at Lützen and Merseburg, maintaining his headquarters at Weissenfels while his troops gradually reached Weissenfels, Naumburg and Freyburg.
  • Prussians

On October 28

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise informed Hildburghausen that he had changed his mind and did not want to cross the Unstrut any more and that he preferred to stay in Weissenfels and await further reinforcements (10 bns, 20 sqns) promised by Richelieu. Hildburghausen tried in vain to persuade him to advance to the right bank of the Saale and to entrench in a strong camp.
    • Meanwhile, Hildburghausen had sent the Prince of Baden Durlach to Naumburg to secure the passage of the Saale at Kösen.
  • Prussians
    • Ferdinand's Corps arrived in Leipzig. Frederick was now at the head of an army of 31 bns and 45 sqns.

On October 29

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise informed Hildburghausen that the two armies should effect a junction at Lützen and establish an entrenched camp. Soubise also suggested to march on Halle to out-manoeuvre Frederick. He also ordered Broglie, who had crossed the Unstrut and taken position at Laucha an der Unstrut to advance on Merseburg and Halle. However, Hildburghausen had already decided to recross the Saale at Weissenfels.
  • Prussians

In the night of October 29 to 30, fearing that Frederick would advance to the Saale, Hildburghausen retreated towards Weissenfels.

Battle of Rossbach

Sunday October 30

  • Prussians
    • Frederick advanced from Leipzig to Lützen with his army and 25 heavy pieces (12 x 12-pdrs, 4 x 24-pdrs, 4 howitzers, 2 x 10-pdr mortars and 3 x 50-pdr mortars). He also sent advanced parties to Rippach. He had left III./Anhalt-Dessau and II./Hülsen in Leipzig with Hauss Fusiliers (2 bns) and I.Leibgarde.
  • Franco-Imperials
    • The main army withdrew before the Prussians, crossing to the west side of the Saale again.
    • Soubise relocated his army further downstream along the Saale, establishing his headquarters at Großkorbetha. He still pretended that he intended to advance on the Lower Saale, allegedly to force Frederick to evacuate Leipzig but in reality because he planned to take his winter-quarters in the area of Merseburg.
    • Broglie, arriving with the reinforcements, occupied Merseburg.
    • A detachment under Saint-Germain continued to occupy Altenburg.
    • M. de Custine was posted at the bridge of Kösen with 14 French bns and 4 Imperial bns.
    • Hildburghausen was determined to remain in the vicinity of Weissenfels and to eventually retire to Freiburg because he depended on his magazines on the Unstrut. He established his own headquarters at Zorbau.
Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Franco-Imperial Army in the evening of October 31 1757

Monday October 31

  • Prussians
    • At 3:00 a.m., Frederick advanced on Weissenfels with 14 bns (Grenadier Garde Battalion Retzow, Grenadier Battalion Finck, Grenadier Battalion Wedell, Grenadier Battalion Kremzow and Grenadier Battalion Lubath, II. and III. Garde, Forcade Infantry, Itzenplitz Infantry, Winterfeldt Infantry, Freibataillon Mayr), 35 sqns (Garde du Corps, Gens d'Armes, Rochow Cuirassiers, all dragoons and all hussars) and 11 heavy pieces (4 x 24-pdrs, 4 x howitzers, 3 x 50-pdr mortars). Roads were muddy because of heavy rain and, in the darkness, the crossing of the Rippach created disorders in the ranks and forced a temporary halt. Frederick then hurried forwards with his vanguard (Grenadier Battalion Lubath, Grenadier Battalion Finck, Freibataillon Mayr, the dragoons and the hussars), instructing Prince Heinrich to join him with the rest of the small army as soon as order would be re-established.
    • Around 8:00 a.m., Frederick arrived in front of Weissenfels with his vanguard. Weissenfels was a solid little place (about 6,000 inhabitants). It lay against high ground on the eastern or right bank of the Saale. It was a town in part flat, in part very steep, the streets running off level enough from the river and bridge. The Saale was of good breadth at Weissenfels and not fordable. The town was occupied by 15 French grenadier coys (including the grenadiers of La Viefville Saint-Chamond Infanterie) under M. de Crillon and 4 Imperial bns. They had been instructed to evacuate the town if a superior force approached but the hussars of Saint-Germain had waited too long in front of Rippach before retiring to Weissenfels and had rather taken the direction of Kösen. Therefore, the garrison of Weissenfels was unaware of the approach of the Prussians. When they saw Prussian troops advancing on the town, it shut the gates and assembled in the market-place. The Prussians cannonaded town and gates, then Grenadier Battalion Lubath, Grenadier Battalion Finck, Freibataillon Mayr blew up the gates and rushed into the town. The French grenadiers delayed the Prussian advance, allowing the 4 Imperial bns to retire unmolested across the Saale bridge. The French grenadiers then crossed the bridge, preventing the Prussian vanguard to seize it by setting it on fire behind them. The bridge burnt so rapidly that 400 French grenadiers were obliged to surrender. Once on the other side of the river with the rest of the army, the garrison planted cannon and successfully prevented the Prussians from quenching fire at the bridge.
    • As the main body of the Prussians arrived, Frederick planted his heavy artillery on the neighbouring heights and fired on the retiring enemy. In this action, Freibataillon Mayr lost 20 men killed or wounded.
    • For the night, Frederick remained in Weissenfels with his infantry while his cavalry was distributed in the neighbouring villages. All dragoons and 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars rejoined Keith.
    • Early the same day, Keith advanced from Lützen towards Merseburg with 15 bns (Grenadier Battalion Ramin, Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck, Markgraf Carl Infantry, Meyerinck Infantry, Kleist Infantry, Alt-Braunschweig Infantry, Goltz Infantry, I./Hülsen Infantry, I./Anhalt Infantry, II./Anhalt Infantry), 10 sqns (Leibregiment zu Pferde, Driesen Cuirassiers) and 14 heavy pieces (12 x 12-pdrs, 2 x 10-pdr mortars). Merseburg was occupied by a French force of 9 bns and 2 sqns. As he approached, Keith was received by the lively fire of the heavy artillery established in the castle. The bridge was set afire. Keith occupied the suburb of Neustadt located on the right bank of the Saale with Grenadier Battalion Ramin and Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck and took quarters in the neighbouring villages.
  • Franco-Imperials
    • Saint-Germain, Loudon and Splényi recrossed the Saale at Kösen. From there, the 12 Imperial grenadier coys and the Splényi Hussars rejoined the Prince of Baden-Durlach while Saint-Germain and the French troops effected a junction with Soubise's Army. For his part, Loudon took post at Zeitz.
    • Soubise's Army encamped near Reichardtswerben where he established his headquarters. Soubise's Army (50 bns, 40 sqns) was encamped with its main body (22 bns, 32 sqns) near Reichardtswerben, and outposts at Großkorbetha, Spergau, Fährendorf (present-day Kirchfährendorf) and Merseburg. Finally, 17 bns were posted at various passages on the Saale near Kösen, Altenburg and Freiburg.
    • The Reichsarmee retired out of range of the Prussian artillery and encamped between Markwerden and Burgwerden in the evening. Hildburghausen fixed his headquarters at Storkau. Hildburghausen's artillery posted along the left bank of the Saale opened on the Prussian positions and the cannonade lasted till dusk.

During the night of October 31 to November 1, Frederick picked out another crossing-place, about 1,5 km farther downstream and built a bridge. The Prussians were billeted in Weissenfels that night. The French and the Reichsarmee troops were drawn back upon the higher grounds on the opposite bank of the Saale, about Burgwerben and on to Tagewerben.

Towards the end of October, the Prussian royal family and the ministries took refuge in Magdeburg.

Tuesday November 1

  • Prussians
    • Keith, realising that he could not cross the Saale at Merseburg, marched further north with 4 bns (Meyerinck Infantry, I./Hülsen Infantry and I./Anhalt Infantry) and 15 sqns (Meinicke Dragoons, Czettritz Dragoons and 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars) towards Halle, leaving Prince Moritz with 11 bns, 10 sqns and the heavy artillery in front of Merseburg. He found the bridge at Halle destroyed in like manner and Broglie ready to dispute the passage.
    • Frederick had given orders to bring forward the bridging equipment which had been left behind. He then marched with 7 bns and 15 sqns along the Saale towards Oeglitzsch, Dehlitz and Gross-Pörsten (probably Pörsten), leaving Major-General von Retzow in front of Weissenfels with the rest of his corps. They did not find any bridge that could rapidly be captured. Frederick finally decided to build a bridge of ferries and rafts at Herrenmühle.
  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Franco-Imperial Army left Reichardtswerben. Soubise moved his camp to Großkayna to the south-west of Merseburg, facing north.
    • Soubise urged Hildburghausen to effect a junction with his army at Merseburg. However, Hildburghasen stopped at Schortau.

Wednesday November 2

  • Prussians
    • In the morning, Frederick still had no news of Keith's endeavours. He asked Moritz to send him some news about Keith. Meanwhile, he recalled Itzenplitz Infantry and Rochow Cuirassiers from Weissenfels. Now at the head of 9 bns and 20 sqns, he advanced northwards along the Saale to Keuschberg, Porbitz, Lennewitz and Ostrau to increase his opponent's uncertainty about his intentions. He established his headquarters at Schladebach. He also sent 150 men of Forcade Infantry to occupy the villages of Fährendorf (present-day Kirchfährendorf) and Prahmen (unidentified location).
    • In the afternoon, Frederick was informed that the French had evacuated Merseburg and that the Reichsarmee was retiring from the banks of the Saale. The floating bridge at Herrenmühle having been completed. Frederick immediately marched back to Herrenmühle with his corps and with the Leibregiment zu Pferde and Driesen Cuirassiers recalled from Merseburg. He left Forcade Infantry in Porbitz and sent 2 sqns of Seydlitz Hussars to Moritz at Merseburg. Frederick's infantry entered in Weissenfels while his cavalry took position in neighbouring villages.
    • Keith repaired one of the bridges at Halle.
    • In the evening, after repairing the bridge, Prince Moritz crossed the Saale and occupied Merseburg.
  • Franco-Imperials
    • Loudon marched by Camburg and Freiburg and rejoined the main army.
    • Hildburghausen wrote to Soubise to emphasize that he was commander-in-chief and that he expected Soubise to support him.
    • Early in the morning, Soubise held a council of war where it was decided to abandon the defence of the Saale , to retire landwards to higher grounds and to relocate the French camp at Mücheln. He did not notify Hildburghausen of this decision. The French took position in their new camp at St. Micheln, facing north, assuming that Frederick would cross the Saale at Halle even though Hildburghausen had already reported that the main Prussian force had assembled near Weissenfels. The 16 French bns previously deployed along the Saale rejoined the main army at St. Micheln. Saint-Germain considered that the new camp was very badly located and exposed its right flank and rear to an attack from Weissenfels.
    • In the afternoon, Hildburghasen with 11 bns and 39 sqns precipitously followed the French and moved to the camp prepared for him by Soubise on his right wing. Soubise headquarters were at St. Micheln, those of Hildburghausen at St. Ulrich. The rest of the Reichsarmee and Szechény's Hussar Brigade were posted at the passages of the Saale between Kösen, Camburg and Jena under the command of the FZM Margrave of Baden-Durlach.

Thursday November 3

  • Prussians
    • In the morning, Frederick crossed the Saale with his infantry on the floating bridge at Herrenmühle while his cavalry forded the river nearby. He intended to assemble his entire army at Braunsdorf (present-day Braunsbedra).
    • Around 3:00 p.m., Frederick reached Braunsdorf with his vanguard (Freibataillon Mayr, Garde du Corps, Gens d'Armes and 3 sqns of Szekely Hussars), Frederick was informed of the new positions of the Franco-Imperial army. He observed their position from the church tower of Braunsdorf and from the heights near the village. He then rode by Bedra to the Schortau Heights but it was already dark. However, he learned from local peasants that the front of the Franco-Imperial army was facing north. He decided to attack on the next morning.
    • Keith sent 15 sqns ( Meinicke Dragoons, Czettritz Dragoons and 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars) across the Saale near Halle with orders to advance up to Lauchstädt (present-day Bad Lauchstädt) and then take the direction of Merseburg. Keith marched back to Merseburg with the rest of his corps and followed Moritz's Corps who had already started to advance. Keith had left I./Anhalt Infantry to occupy Halle and II./Anhalt Infantry in Merseburg.
    • Meanwhile, Prince Heinrich was establishing a camp for the main army at Braunsdorf. The Prussian camp had its right wing anchored on the marsh near Geifel and its left wing at Braunsdorf.
    • Soon, Prince Moritz's columns arrived from Merseburg at Braunsdorf.
    • Around 7:00 p.m., Keith's Corps also reached Braunsdorf.
    • Grenadier Battalion Lubath, Grenadier Battalion Kremzow and Grenadier Battalion Kremzow occupied the villages of Braunsdorf, Neumark and Wernsdorf. Major-General Seydlitz took position in Bedra and to the north of the village with Freibataillon Mayr and 12 hussar sqns. Frederick established his headquarters in the rectory of Braunsdorf. The united Prussian army counted only 22,000 men.
    • Between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m., Frederick issued orders to his cavalry and hussars to be ready near Bedra at 3:00 a.m. for the battle. Alt-Braunschweig Infantry would support the cavalry. At 4:00 a.m., the rest of the infantry would march to the north of Bedra. The heavy artillery would march in front of the left wing, just behind Alt-Braunschweig Infantry.
  • Franco-Imperials
    • In the morning, Hildburghausen asked to rearrange the Franco-Imperial camp because he expected that Frederick would advance from Weissenfels. However, Soubise still hesitated. He then suddenly became willing to offer battle.
    • The first troops of the Upper-Saxony Contingent, who had left at the end of October, finally joined the Reichsarmee.
    • Late the same day, the Franco-Imperial Army reorganized its positions: its left anchored on the ravine of Mücheln and its right to a wood.

In the night of November 3 to 4, Hildburghausen and Broglie finally managed to convince Soubise to relocate their camp. Hildburghausen marched with the Reichsarmee to the heights south of Branderoda. His infantry remained in order of battle for some time before encamping in an oakwood. Meanwhile his cavalry took position to the north-east of Branderoda. The French army rearranged its camp, facing east and entrenched its positions. The French infantry (35 bns) encamped in two lines with its right wing north of Branderoda and its left near the Galgenhügel opposite St. Micheln. Behind the French infantry left wing, 26 sqns were deployed in two lines. Behind the French infantry right wing, Broglie deployed the Reserve Corps (8 bns, 14 sqns). On the right wing of the French army, 4 bns faced eastwards in front of a stone bridge. Furthermore, 2 bns were posted on the south side as flank-guard. Soubise relocated his headquarters to St. Ulrich.

On November 4

  • Prussians
    • Deserters captured during the night informed Frederick of the relocation of the Franco-Imperial camp which did not expose its flanks to the Prussian any more. Despite this change, Frederick maintained his decision to attack.
    • Around 3:00 a.m., Frederick rode from Braunsdorf under a bright moonlight with his entire cavalry in three lines to reconnoitre the new camp from the Heights of Gröster. His cavalry drove back French cavalry outposts and captured 40 men. His infantry halted at the foot of the Heights of Schortau. Freibataillon Mayr advanced from Bedra and took position in the Valley of Gerstel. However, from the Heights of Gröster, Frederick could see only the left wing of the Franco-Imperial army. He advanced to the Heights of Schortau with his cavalry to observe the right wing. He left most of his cavalry under the cover of the north-eastern slope and, escorted by his hussars, reached the top of these heights from where he could see the entire enemy positions. Considering these fortified positions to be too strong, Frederick abandoned his design for an attack. He decided to encamp near the Franco-Imperial positions behind the Leiha Brook, and to await further developments. Frederick knew that part of the Reichsarmee under the command of the Prince of Baden-Durlach was posted on the Upper Saale and on the Unstrut and that provisions in the area had already been entirely consumed and that shortage prevailed in the Reichsarmee. He calculated that the Franco-Imperials would suffer from lack of supplies before his own army.
    • Frederick's infantry retired by Schortau and his cavalry by Bedra. Part of the Franco-Imperial cavalry advanced to pursue the Prussians but had to stop in front of Bedra which was occupied by Grenadier Battalion Kremzow and Grenadier Battalion Ramin. Furthermore, 10 heavy Prussian pieces were planted north of Schortau and opened on the enemy cavalry. The Franco-Imperials had a few 12-pdrs on the Gröster Hillock who opened on the Prussian artillery and cavalry, inflicting a few losses.
    • The new Prussian camp had its right wing at Bedra and its left wing at Rossbach where Frederick established his headquarters. The two villages were occupied. Freibataillon Mayr went to Schortau; the hussars took post north of Schortau and west of Bedra.
  • Franco-Imperials
    • Around 6:00 a.m., Soubise and Hildburghausen were informed of the general advance of the Prussian army from Bedra. The general march was beaten and the army came out of its camp and took position in their very strong defensive works. The Imperial infantry occupied the entrenchments on the eastern edge of the Tauben Woods. Broglie's Reserve Corps took position between the two lines of the French infantry. There were eight large columns behind the centre and two smaller ones behind each wing.
    • The Franco-Imperial army remained in combat readiness until the afternoon.

In the night of November 4 to 5, Frederick had numerous hussar patrols watching the Franco-Imperial camp to inform him of any movement.

On November 5,

  • Franco-Imperials
    • In the morning, Austrian hussars destroyed the floating bridge at Herrenmühle. Forcade Infantry retired from Prahmen to Fährendorf.
    • Soubise tried to outflank Frederick's position. His awkward manoeuvre led to the Battle of Rossbach. The Franco-Imperial army was too slow compared to the well drilled Prussian army who had enough time to rearrange its lines and to attack the Franco-Imperial Army still advancing in columns. Soubise was utterly defeated. The French army retired towards Freyburg, closely followed by Prussian hussars. Prince Heinrich was wounded during the engagement. The French started to cross the Unstrut at Freyburg during the night.
    • In the afternoon, the 12 Imperial grenadier coys of the Prince of Baden-Durlach reached Freiburg.
  • Prussians
    • The night after the battle, Frederick had encamped at Obschütz near Rossbach.

Aftermath of Rossbach

Retreat of the Franco-Imperial army on November 6, after the Battle of Rossbach
Source: Von Rossbach bis Jena und Auerstedt; ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des preussischen Heeres, by Colmar, Baron von der Goltz

On Sunday November 6

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Long before daybreak, the Franco-Imperial troops set off from Freyburg. Around 8:00 a.m., the bridge at Freyburg was set afire even though some troops were still in town.
    • Hildburghausen marched from Freyburg to Kösen where he assembled the remnants of the Reichsarmee. heading towards Arnstadt and Franconia. He left only his 2 regiments of Austrian hussars (Szechényi Hussars (3 sqns) and Splényi Hussars (3 sqns)) with Soubise. Hildburghausen then marched to Eckartsberga where he encamped.
    • Prince Camille with 1 infantry brigade was charged to guard the passage of the Unstrut between Laucha and Nebra. The French dragoons along with the Volontaires de Nassau-Sarrebruck were posted at Bucha, between Bibra and Wiehe to cover the army.
    • Soubise crossed the Unstrut upstream of Laucha and Nebra, assembled the remnants of his army behind the river and marched to Wiehe (some 24 km from Freyburg).
    • Saint-Germain with his own corps and the Austrian hussars spent the night at Hoscler (probably Klosterhäseler or Burgheßler).
    • Loudon wrote to Prince Charles de Lorraine describing the poor conditions of the Franco-Imperial forces and the inability of their leaders, asking for authorisation to rejoin the Austrian main army.
    • Some 12,000 men rushed straggling through to Eichsfeld, plundering and harrying like cossacks. The army itself was dispersed over a circle of 64 km radius.
    • As soon as Richelieu heard of the defeat of Soubise at Rossbach, he evacuated Halberstadt, repassed the Ocker, retired his advanced posts and sent Soubise a considerable reinforcement.
  • Prussians
    • At daybreak, the Prussian army advanced on Freyburg by Lusfschiff and Markröhlitz. Meanwhile, Goltz Infantry remained near Obschütz and Markwerben to assemble the wounded. Frederick led the vanguard (20 dragoon and hussar sqns). The 2 sqns of Seydlitz Hussars and 100 dragoons were sent to Kösen, Camburg and Naumburg to pick up scattered troops. On its way, the Prussian army captured many stragglers. As he reached Freyburg, Frederick could see the French rearguard climbing the heights to the north of Grösnitz. The bridge of Freyburg was still aflame and it took two hours to erect a wooden bridge near Nissmitz.
    • Around noon, Frederick crossed the Unstrut with 11 bns and 33 sqns and marched towards Eckartsberga, leaving Keith and Prince Moritz at Freyburg with the rest of the army.
    • Around 4:00 p.m., the Prussian vanguard reached Lißdorf. A few thousands men from the Reichsarmee could be seen retiring on the heights north-east of Eckartsberga. In fact, Hildburghausen had decided to retire towards Weimar. His artillery fired quite ineffectually on Szekely Hussars who formed the vanguard of Frederick's Corps. It was already dark when Frederick's infantry arrived and it took shelter in Spielberg. The hussars and Freibataillon Mayr remained at the edge of the forest to the north-east of Eckartsberga near the enemy, harassing them during the night. The Reichsarmee remained under arms until 9:00 p.m. And then silently retired towards Weimar.

On November 7

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise's Army resumed its retreat westward, establishing its headquarters at Sachsenburg. Part of the army passed the Unstrut while the cavalry and a few infantry brigades remained near Heldrungen, a small village surrounded by a ditch and a parapet and defended by dragoons and grenadiers. In the various villages, placards were stuck up, appointing Nordhausen and Heiligenstadt (present-day Heilbad Heiligenstadt) for rallying place.
    • Saint-Germain marched on Kölleda but, receiving false intelligence that the Prussian army was on the opposite bank of the Unstrut, he redirected his march on Nordhausen.
    • A French corps reached Langensalza.
    • The main body of the Reichsarmee reached Weimar where it crossed the Ilm and encamped to the west of the city. Other detachments reached Erfurt. Hildburghausen wrote to Vienna to ask to be relieved from command.
  • Prussians
    • At daybreak, Prussian hussars informed Frederick that the Reichsarmee had evacuated Eckartsberga during the night and was marching towards Erfurt. Frederick also learned that Soubise had separated from the Reichsarmee and was marching towards Weissensee.
    • Frederick charged Major-General Lentulus and Major-General von Czettritz, each with a detachment of dragoons, hussars and 1 bn to follow the French by Buttstädt, Rastenberg and Kölleda. Frederick also instructed Keith to send detachments from Freyburg to Querfurt. II./Goltz Infantry occupied Naumburg, Grenadier Battalion Finck and 2 sqns of Seydlitz Hussars occupied Camburg. I./Goltz Infantry went to Merseburg and I./Anhalt Infantry rejoined Keith's Corps at Freyburg.
    • Keith was also instructed to spread the rumour that the entire Prussian army was marching by Mansfeld on Halberstadt.

On November 8

  • Franco-Imperials
    • At 10:00 a.m., Soubise's marched by Kindelbrück on Weissensee where he could find provisions for his army. There were many stragglers plundering in the woods. The Prussians pursued them up to Erfurt.
  • Prussians
    • Lentulus reported to Frederick that Weimar had been evacuated and that there were no enemy troops this side of the Gera. Lentulus took 500 men prisoners, several of them entered in the Prussian service.
    • Frederick personally went to Merseburg.

On November 9

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise's Army and Saint-Germain's Corps arrived at Sondershausen where they cantoned.
    • The Reichsarmee was in very bad condition, lacking food and shelters. Only Blau Würzburg Infantry kept a semblance of order. It marched through Erfurt with drums beating.
    • Loudon had returned to Freiberg where Charles of Lorraine ordered him to await further instructions.
  • Prussians
    • Lentulus marched back to Freyburg.
    • After Lentulus and Czettritz return, Ferdinand of Brunswick marched back to Freyburg with the Prussian troops posted near Eckartsberga.
    • Frederick instructed Major-General von Finck, commanding at Dresden, to keep a bread convoy ready to be sent to Bautzen.

On November 10

  • Prussians
    • The entire army, placed under the command of Keith, took quarters around Merseburg.
    • Frederick personally went to Leipzig where he was informed that Marschall was approaching Eilenburg to destroy the bridge on the Mulde. He sent II./Hülsen Infantry from Leipzig to Eilenburg and sent 20 pontoons to Torgau under the escort of III./Anhalt Infantry.
    • Frederick wrote to the Duke of Bevern to inform him that he planned to reach Schweidnitz (present-day Swiednica) by November 28.

On November 11, 18 bns and 29 sqns joined Frederick at Leipzig.

On November 13

After Frederick’s and Keith’s departures, Prince Heinrich, still recovering from his wound, posted the troops under in Leipzig, Merseburg, and Halle:

The only Franco-Imperial troops still in the region were:

  • 3 bns in Osterwieck east of the Oker
  • 1 bn in Hornburg
  • Turpin Hussards in Schöningen

Frederick expected Prince Heinrich to act decisively, but the latter believed that he was too weak for major undertakings. Instead of immediately beginning the drive enemy troops out of the region of Halberstadt, Heinrich sent one of his prisoner, Lieutenant-General de Mailly, to Paris to try to negotiate a peace agreement with France.

On November 14

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise personally left for Duderstadt where he met Maillebois, sent by Richelieu with reinforcements to organize the winter-quarters. Soubise's troops were to occupy the County of Hanau and the banks of the Lahn. However, Soubise required official orders to accept these dispositions.
  • Austrians
    • Prince Charles of Lorraine instructed Marschall to retire to Bohemia to block the way to any Prussian advance in this direction and to leave only hussar detachment to observe the march of Frederick's Army.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick, marching by Eilenburg, reached Torgau.

On November 15

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Richelieu confirmed his orders to Soubise who had to take charge of the occupation of Fulda and Hanau with quarters along the Main up to Obernburg.
  • Austrians
    • Marschall and Hadik were still posted near Bautzen and Grossenhain, and had thrown their hussars into the Mark and across the Elbe.
  • Prussians

Keith enter into Bohemia

On November 16

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The Reichsarmee arrived at Lichtenfels on the Main River and gradually took its winter-quarters at Hof, Eisfeld, Hildburghausen, Meiningen and Schmalkalden. During its retreat, the Reichsarmee had gradually disintegrated and Hildburghausen arrived at Lichtenfels with hardly the ghost of an army. The Reichsarmee would not reappear on the scene till late in 1758, under a new commander.
  • Austrians
    • Still keeping an eye on Frederick's main force, Loudon informed Marschall and Prince Charles of Keith's march. With his small corps, he could not cover the frontier between Bohemia and Saxony against such a superior force.
  • Prussians
    • Prince Heinrich passed the Elbe at Torgau and entered into Lusatia, driving Marschall out of this country.
    • Ferdinand of Brunswick left Magdeburg to take command of the Allied army now that King George II had repudiated the Convention of Kloster-Zeven.
    • Keith subdivided his 10 bns and 10 sqns, a total of 6,300 men and 900 horses, in three groups who advanced by Naumburg, Zeitz and Pegau for the planned incursion in Bohemia.

On November 18, Frederick, having marched by Mühlberg and Grossenhain, reached Königsbrück. Hadik retired to Kamenz.

On November 19

  • Prussians
    • Frederick's Army rested at Königsbrück. Soldiers returning to their regiments in Silesia were formed in a battalion. While sojourning at Königsbrück, Frederick was informed of the surrender of Schweidnitz. Frederick was still unsure of Marschall's intentions, wondering if he was heading for Silesia or Bohemia.
    • A bread convoy left Dresden to supply the army, escorted by II./Finck Infantry (the battalion would capture an Austrian magazine at Bischofswerda on its way back to Dresden).

On November 20

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The 20 bns and 18 sqns formerly detached under Broglie to reinforce Soubise marched back to their winter-quarters in Hesse and along the Werra.
    • All of Soubise's troops were on the march in 3 columns to their winter-quarters: the first towards Marburg, the second towards Kirchhain in Hesse and the third by Fulda and the Kinzig Valley to the Main.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick's Army marched to Kamenz.

On November 21

  • Austrians
    • Reacting to Keith's manoeuvre, Marschall recalled Hadik's infantry and marched in the direction of Zittau. Marschall's Corps had suffered severe losses from illness. Furthermore, a large quantity of Grenzer light troops, who had completed their term of service, had been sent back home. Overall, Marschall could field approx. 12,000 men and less than 4,000 horses.
    • Hadik followed slowly with his cavalry, withdrawing to Hochkirch while still observing the march of Frederick's Army.
  • Prussians
    • Frederick's Army reached Bautzen. His vanguard pushed back the Austrian hussars forming the rearguard of Hadik's Corps.

Keith's diversion towards Bohemia had produced the desired result and the road to Silesia was now open to Frederick.

On November 22

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Turpin with 400 men of Turpin Hussards occupied Halberstadt.
    • Soubise left Duderstadt and marched by Mühlhausen, acting as a rearguard.
  • Prussians
    • Keith's three columns concentrated at Chemnitz, in preparation for their incursion in Bohemia.
    • At Löwenberg (unidentified location), Frederick heard a lively cannonade seemingly coming from the direction of Breslau (present-day Wrocław).

On November 23, Frederick's Army reached Görlitz. It had marched from Leipzig to the Silesian border (more than 200 km) in ten days. Frederick sent Major von Kleist to Bernstadt with the II./Szekely Hussars who confirmed Marschall's retreat by Zittau.

Frederick was now determined to drive the Austrians out of Silesia or die trying.

From November 24, Frederick's movements and actions are documented in our article on the Austrian invasion of Silesia.

On November 24

  • Prussians
    • Keith's avant-garde (4 bns: Grenadier Battalion Lubath, Hülsen Infantry and Freibataillon Mayr; and 5 sqns of Szekely Hussars), under Major-General Itzenplitz, crossed the the defiles of Passberg and reached Welmschloss (present-day Velemyšleves/CZ), north-west of Postelberg (present-day Postoloprty/CZ). Meanwhile, the main body reached Marienberg. Itzenplitz was informed by deserters of Marschall's retreat towards Prague. The road towards Leitmeritz was now open to Keith.
  • Austrians
    • Marschall's Corps reached Grottau (present-day Hrádek nad Nisou/CZ) where it remained until November 26.

In the night of November 25 to 26

  • Prussians
    • Itzenplitz made a night march by Liebshausen (present-day Libčeves/CZ) and reached Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice/CZ) where he encamped at daybreak. At his approach, the Grenzer light troops occupying Leitmeritz destroyed the magazine, set the bridge of the Elbe on fire and retired without combat. Itzenplitz then advanced up to Lobositz (present-day Lovosice/CZ). Keith's advance caused great concerns in Prague which was garrisoned by only 5,000 men, mostly recruits, who had to guard a large number of Prussian prisoners.
  • Austrians
    • Marschall had sent 3 bns and 200 horse under Major-General Campitelli to protect the magazines at Leitmeritz but they arrived too late.

On November 26

  • Austrians
    • Loudon arrived at Prague. His arrival let cooler heads prevail and defensive measures were taken.
    • Marschall sent Hadik from Niemes (present-day Mimoň/CZ) to Jungbunzlau (present-day Mladá Boleslav/CZ) as vanguard and redirected Campitelli's force towards Prague by Melnik.

On November 27

  • Prussians
    • Itzenplitz's detachment sojourned at Lobositz.
    • Keith's main body marched by Komotau (present-day Chomutov) to Postelberg where Keith gave some rest to his troops until November 30. He spread the rumour that Frederick was following with heavy artillery to capture Prague and ordered the inhabitants to repair the roads. He also levied contributions and had several small magazines destroyed. To hide his motionlessness to the Austrians, Keith also sent Major-General Asseburg at the head of Goltz Infantry to Laun (present-day Louny) and dragoon patrols towards Tuchlowitz (present-day Těchlovice nad Labem/CZ), Schlan (present-day Slaný/CZ) and Welwarn (present-day Velvary/CZ).
    • In Saxony, Prince Heinrich had assembled 2 bns (Jungkenn Müntzer Fusiliers), and 4½ sqns (4 sqns of Leibregiment zu Pferde and 50 men of Seydlitz Hussars) near Aschersleben under the command of Major-General von Jungkenn.

On November 28

  • Franco-Imperials
    • The French evacuated the right bank of the Oker, leaving only weak outposts near Schladen.
    • Soubise reached Eisenach.
  • Prussians
    • Itzenplitz advanced unmolested to Budin (present-day Budyně nad Ohří/CZ).
    • Keith was informed by reports from the Szekely Hussars that Marschall was retiring to Prague.
    • In Saxony, Jungkenn immediately reoccupied Halberstadt without coming to contact with the French.

On November 29, Louis XV instructed Richelieu to merge Soubise's Army into his own, Soubise retaining command of a corps under the overall command of Richelieu.

On November 30

  • Prussians
    • Keith, estimating that he had now fulfilled his mission in Bohemia, undertook his retreat by Komotau. Itzenplitz's detachment then formed the rearguard. On the way, Freibataillon Mayr destroyed the magazine at Postelberg and raised contributions in Saaz (present-day Žatec/CZ).
  • Austrians
    • Hadik immediately set off from Bezno by Melnik.

On December 1, Hadik reached Laun and secured the Bohemian border.

On December 2

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise was at Fulda.
  • Austrians
    • Loudon set off from Prague to follow Keith's Prussian army but was unable to catch up with the rearguard.

On December 5

  • Franco-Imperials
  • Prussians
    • Field-Marshal Keith reached Chemnitz and distributed his corps in cantonments in Chemnitz and in Freiberg and its vicinities. He feared an attack of the combined Austrian corps of Loudon and Hadik along the frontier between Saxony and Bohemia.

On December 7, II./Salmuth Fusiliers arrived in Quedlinburg from Magdeburg to reinforce Jungkenn who was still posted at Halberstadt. Prince Heinrich had also received a request from Ferdinand of Brunswick, who now led the Allied counter-offensive in Hanover, to make a diversion against the French magazines in Gifhorn. However, Heinrich contended himself to sending Colonel von Salmuth with 2 bns (I./Salmuth Fusiliers, II./Land Militia Regiment Jung-Wegnern) from Magdeburg to Gardelegen.

Finally, Frederick’s victory at Leuthen in Silesia allowed Keith to move his army in winter-quarters between Plauen and Dresden. Hussar outposts covered the frontier, supported by Freibataillon Mayr in Reichenbach and 200 men of Goltz Infantry in Zschopau.

On December 12

  • Franco-Imperials
    • Soubise went to Kassel where he established his headquarters.
    • Hildburghausen was at Nuremberg and in the Voigtland.
    • Apchon Dragons were at Lichtenau and Waldkapelle.

In the night of December 15 to 16, Jungkenn sent Colonel von Küchmeister from Halberstadt with 200 foot, 200 men of the Leibregiment zu Pferde and 50 men of Seydlitz Hussars against the party of Captain Le Nègre posted at Dedeleben, forcing the latter to surrender with 140 men.

On December 17

  • Prussians
    • Colonel von Salmuth arrived at Gardelegen with his small detachment, pretending to be the vanguard of Lehwaldt’s Army (the French feared the arrival of this army from Pomerania).
  • French
    • The French parties plundering the region of Altmark retired to the Duchy of Brunswick.

On December 30, Soubise cantoned his troops in their winter-quarters in the County of Hanau, in Wetteravia and in the Fulda Country, between the Werra, Rhine, Lahn and Main.

At the end of December, Prince Heinrich and Field-Marshal Keith sent 270 men from Meinicke Dragoons and 85 men from Szekely Hussars to reinforce Jungkenn at Halberstadt.

At the beginning of January 1758, Keith personally went to Dresden to take care of his health. He remained there till the end of March, continuing to assume command of his army. Dresden was garrisoned by III./Garrison Regiment VII Lange, [[Prussian Garrison Regiment VII |V./Garrison Regiment VII Lange]], Finck Infantry and Grabow Fusiliers.


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. 104-119
  • Carlyle, T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 18
  • Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763
    • Vol. 5 Hastenbeck und Roßbach, Berlin, 1903, pp. 20-25, 121-147, 184-206, 223-227, Anhang 4
    • Vol. 6 Leuthen, Berlin, 1904, pp. 1-5, 70, 87-91
  • Hotham: The operations of the Allied Army 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
  • Janko, Edler v.: Laudon´s Leben, Vienna, 1869
  • Österreichische Militärzeitschrift, 1849, file 4–5, pp. 170–172
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 54, 100-118, 128-173
  • Tempelhoff, Fr.: History of the Seven Years' War Vol. I pp. 138-149, as translated by Colin Lindsay, Cadell, London, 1793
  • Treuenfest, A. v.: Geschichte des k.u.k. Husaren-Regimentes Nr. 3 A. Hadik v. Futak, Vienna, 1883
  • Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 427-428

Other sources:

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Vial J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar


Harald Skala for additional details on Loudon's Corps