1758-02-23 - Storming of Hoya
Prelude to the Engagement
On February 17 1758, Ferdinand of Brunswick left Lüneburg with the entire Allied entire army and established his headquarters at Amelinghausen. He then launched a winter offensive in West Germany, seeking to capture Bremen and to cut the communications between the French units cantoned in Westphalia and the French Main Army. Indeed, to the exception of Bremen, the left bank of the Weser and Aller rivers were guarded only by weak French detachments with advanced posts at Rotenburg and Ottersberg.
On February 21, when the Comte de Chabo took command of the French post at Hoya, he immediately evacuated the hospital and magazines who were all located on the right bank of the Weser. He also sent couriers to Bremen to bring back combustible to set the bridge afire if needs be; and sent a detachment up to Verden to destroy all boats and sent detachments of Mestre de Camp Général Dragons and Harcourt Dragons to patrol the banks of the Weser. Finally, he erected entrenchments to defend the bridgehead.
Description of Events
On February 23, at 7:00 AM, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick was detached to Hoya at the head of 2 Hanoverian bns (Hauß Infantry and Oberg Infantry), the 2 bns of Brunswick Guards, 1 dragoon sqn and a body of light horse.
The Hereditary Prince crossed the Aller aboard small craft at Verden. To support this enterprise, part of his vanguard advanced on Eystrup by Rethem while his detachment proceeded to Dörverden and Barme, near which place he expected to cross the Weser aboard some floats of timber with part of his troops.
At noon, the Allies advanced by the road from Verden and captured a French patrol. Chabo advanced with part of his troops and a skirmish took place. When he saw that the Allied force was more important than his detachment, he retired to an prepared entrenchment at the head of the bridge of Hoya and tried to delay the Allies while he was completing the evacuation of the hospital.
At this point, the Prince divided his corps. He planned to cross the Weser with Hauß Infantry and the Brunswick Guards and to attack Hoya from the left bank of the river while Oberg Infantry along with the dragoon squadron were to follow his movement on the right bank and to make a diversionary demonstration against Hoya.
The Prince managed to use floats of timber to gradually transport the 3 battalions assigned to this turning movement. This operations went totally unnoticed by the detachments of French dragoons who were supposed to patrol the banks of the Weser. However, only half the intended detachment managed to cross the river before a storm put a stop to the operation. Only Hauß Infantry and one half of II./Brunswick Guards were across at this moment. Nevertheless, the Prince advanced on Hoya with this reduced detachment.
Another patrol of 40 men of the Mestre de Camp Général Dragons, led by an aide-major, finally clashed with Allied forces. The aide-major was taken prisoners and the patrol fled without giving the alarm in Hoya.
The Prince arrived at destination at 6:00 p.m. while his other troops attacked Hoya from the opposite bank driving back French outposts before them. By then, the bridge of Hoya had been almost completely cut by the French who were preparing to set it afire.
Chabo sent his 4 grenadier coys to contain the Allies on the left bank, leaving his piquets and the Gardes Lorraines to defend the entrenchments on the right bank. The unexpected attack from the left bank disorganised Chabo's plans and he did not have enough time to burn the bridge.
The Allies then stormed the town. After a stubborn resistance of two hours, the French retired into the castle where they resisted for an additional hour.
Chabo sent the Chevalier de Limps, lieutenant-colonel of Bretagne Infanterie, to negotiate a capitulation. Since the rest of Bretagne Infanterie along some dragoon sqns were on the march to relieve Hoya, the French were allowed to retire with the honours of war. However, the baggage of the Gardes Lorraines had been taken by the Allies before the capitulation.
During this action, the Allied detachment inflicted 300 casualties and took 200 prisoners while losing itself 13 killed and 73 wounded.
The Comte de Saint-Germain, fearing to be cut off from the main army, evacuated Bremen and retired on Osnabrück. Diepenbroick immediately occupied Bremen.
The remnants of the Gardes Lorraines (98 men) retired southwards to Nienburg where they were soon joined by 40 stragglers.
After this successful raid by the Allies, the Comte de Saint-Germain, fearing to be cut off from the main army, evacuated Bremen and retired on Osnabrück. Diepenbroick immediately occupied Bremen.
Order of Battle
Allied Order of Battle
Commander-in-chief: Hereditary Prince of Brunswick
- Hanoverian Hauß Infantry (1 bn)
- Hanoverian Oberg Infantry (1 bn)
- Brunswick Guards (2 bns)
- Unidentified dragoon unit (1 sqn)
- Unidentified light horse (??? men)
French Order of Battle
Commander-in-chief: Brigadier Comte de Chabo
- Gardes Lorraines (2 bns for a total of some 500 men)
- Bretagne Infanterie (2 grenadier coys and 2 picquet coys)
- Mestre de Camp Général Dragons (100 men)
This article is essentially a compilation of 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. 247, 256-260, 296-306
- Archenholz, J. W., The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 209-229
- Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 18
- Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 8-29, 39-45
- Hotham (probably), The operations of the Allied Amy under the command of his Serene Highness Prince Ferdinand Duke of Brunswic and Luneberg beginning in the year 1757 and ending in the year 1762, London: T. Jefferies, 1764, pp. 20-35
- V., General: L'infanterie lorraine sous Louis XV - I. - Régiment des Gardes Lorraines, in Les Carnets de la Sabretache, Vol. 2, 1894, pp. 449-455, 530-534