1758-06-30 - Combat of Domstadl

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Battles >> 1758-06-30 - Combat of Domstadl

Austrian Victory

Introduction

Since May 20, 1758, during the Prussian invasion of Moravia, Frederick II was conducting the Siege of Olmütz (present-day Olomouc). The resistance of the fortress was nearing its end, but one last convoy of ammunition was necessary to finish the siege.

On June 21, a large Prussian supply convoy left the Fortress of Cosel (present-day Kozle) and Neisse (present-day Nysa) under the command of Colonel Mosel. It was escorted by 8 bns, 3,000 recruits and convalescent organised into 4 bns and 1,100 cavalrymen. The convoy consisted of some 4,000 wagons among which 818 transported ammunition necessary for the continuation of the siege. Frederick also ordered Zieten to meet this important convoy with some thousands additional troops.

On Monday June 26, Colonel Mosel got upon the road out of Troppau (present-day Opava), as planned. A convoy from Troppau to Olmütz usually took about six days. The convoy extended on 32 km. The escort went in three brigades: vanguard, middle, rear-guard, with sparse pickets intervening. The roads were utterly bad.

On June 27, Mosel made the day a rest-day to permit laggards to catch up with the convoy. About two-thirds of them managed to join the convoy again. Meanwhile, Colonel Werner was on the march from Olmütz to reinforce Mosel with Grenadier Battalion Schenckendorff and 500 horse.

On Wednesday June 28, at break of day, Mosel was again on the road from his quarters in Bautsch (present-day Budišov nad Budišovkou). However, Loudon reached Ober-Gundersdorf (aka Ober-Güntersdorf, present-day Guntramovice) and Unter-Gundersdorf (present-day Horni Guntramovice) in the morning and deployed his troops to intercept the convoy. An engagement took place and Mosel managed to repulse Loudon (see the article on the Prussian invasion of Moravia for more details). However, London had studied this convoy and knew of Zieten coming from Olmütz and of Siskovics coming to him with an additional Austrian corps. Mosel reorganised his convoy but jumbled on all day and got to his appointed quarters: the village of Neudorfl (aka Neudörfel, present-day Nová Véska), where he made his junction with Zieten who had been reinforced on his way by the grenadiers of Grenadier Battalion Manteuffel and Grenadier Battalion Unruh and by Werner's detachment. On his side, Loudon concerted with Siskovics, called in all possible reinforcements and took his measures.

On Thursday morning June 29, half the wagons of the Prussian convoy had not yet reached Neudorfl and Zieten and Mosel had to spend the whole day reassembling the convoy.

Map

Map of the engagement of Domstadl, June 30 1758
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab

Description of Events

On the morning of June 30, 1758, Siskovics personally reconnoitred the Prussian convoy. He had two forest patches southeast of the road from Domstadl (aka Domstadtl, present-day Domašov nad Bystřicí) to Altliebe (present-day Stará Libavá) occupied by his Grenzer light troops, placed under the command of Colonel von Neuendorf to hold this road under fire at any moment,

Meanwhile, Zieten had completed his dispositions and the approaches from Bärn (present-day Moravský Beroun) were strongly secured.

At 8:00 a.m., the first wagons of the Prussian convoy set off from Altliebe under pouring rain, accompanied by a strong vanguard (190 hussars, followed by 220 horse, a number of Feldjäger zu Fuß, I./Jung-Kreytzen Infantry, Grenadier Battalion Alt-Billerbeck and Grenadier Battalion Schenckendorff) under Major-General Anton von Krockow, marching in small detachments on both sides of the road.

Zieten and Mosel soon approached the pass of Domstadl where they expected resistance from the Austrians. The convoy entered the pass with his escort marching on each side: its right flank (to the north of the road), where the terrain was more even, was covered by cavalry squadrons separated by large intervals while the infantry covered its left flank.

At 9:00 a.m., Neuendorf reported that the Prussian convoy was on the march. Siskovics then deployed his corps behind the two forest patches occupied by Neuendorf’s light troops. The grenadiers formed his right wing; Haller Infantry, his left wing; and the Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers, his centre. The rest of his cavalry secured his right flank. A battery of 2 guns and 2 falconets was established between the two forest patches while the regimental guns of Haller Infantry were deployed in front of the left wing.

Around 9:00 a.m., the vanguard of the Prussian convoy, under Major-General Krockow, along with 400 wagons were passing by Domstadl without noticing any Austrian force. Only 120 wagons had passed the defile when, suddenly, Siskovics' Corps appeared on the wooded heights to the south of the road and immediately opened a violent artillery fire against the entrance of the defile. The Prussian vanguard repulsed a first Austrian attack and got its section of the carriages (250 wagons) hurried through. It then halted on the safe side of the pass to wait for Zieten.

Zieten realised that the convoy could not advance anymore as cannonballs smashed into the columns of wagons. He ranked the wagons in square, as a “Wagenburg” (wagon fortress)

Zieten then decided to launch an attack. He advanced against the Austrian left wing at the head of Grenadier Battalion Carlowitz, Grenadier Battalion Rath, II./Jung-Kreytzen Infantry and half of Battalion Teuffel (formed of convalescent) and 200 Puttkamer Hussars. Meanwhile, the II./Garrison Regiment Mützschefahl and the rest of Battalion Teuffel attacked the northernmost forest patch. With Baron von Kyau Cuirassiers sent to reinforce the vanguard, now only Schmettau Cuirassiers, together with 400 men from Zieten Hussars and Werner Hussars now secured the approaches from Bärn.

Initially, the attack of the Prussian right wing proved quite successful, penetrating into the forest and dislodging the Warasdiner Grenzers. The rain made muskets quite ineffective and the hand-to-hand combat ensued. Gradually the Austrian left wing was giving ground, abandoning its guns. During the fight in the forest, the Prussian battalions became disorganised. Before they had time to reorganise themselves on the terrain beyond the forest, they were suddenly attacked in their left flank. Indeed, Colonel von Neuendorf who had kept his cavalry (400 men of Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers and Löwenstein Chevauxlegers as well as part of Dessewffy Hussars) concealed in the bushes, suddenly charged the left flank of the grenadiers near Domstadl. The shattered remains of this flank took refuge in Domstadl where they were attacked by the Austrian infantry. The supporting Prussian battalions were now separated from the wagons they were supposed to protect.

The Prussian infantry then managed to redeploy not far from Domstadl. Zieten ceded command to Major von Rath and rode towards his left wing.

During this time on the Prussian left wing, Major von Reichmann had led the II./Garrison Regiment Mützschefahl and half of Battalion Teuffel in an attack at the point of the bayonet against the northernmost forest. However, despite an initial success, he had been unable to make any significant progress because he was threatened on his left flank by the Austrian horse grenadiers.

Zieten was therefore forced to withdraw Reichmann’s wing to the road and to order the recruit battalion Prinz Ferdinand from the “Wagenburg” to support it.

Around 11:30 a.m., the din of battle increasing in the direction of Domstadl, Loudon set off from Bärn with his corps. He led the Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld Dragoons and the Nádasdy Hussars forward and, to the south-west of Neudorfl, forced Zieten Hussars and Werner Hussars to retire.

It was now noon and the Prussian attack had failed on both wings. However, Zieten had not yet engaged his cavalry and he still had 6 fresh bns near Altliebe. Meanwhile, the head of Loudon’s Corps was approaching the battlefield. Zieten’s situation appeared hopeless.

Loudon then launched his own attack against the cavalry covering the convoy. Schmettau Cuirassiers could not prevent Loudon’s infantry to advance on both sides of the road leading from Bärn to Neudorfl and thus threaten the Prussian “Wagenburg” where ⅔ of the wagons and carts were still awaiting departure under the fire of the Austrian artillery.

Major-General Puttkamer commanded the Prussian units protecting the “Wagenburg”. He deployed his troops in a half-circle in front of it: 3 bns faced Loudon’s Corps; Reichmann’s detachment (1½ bn) was posted on his left wing; and the 3 other bns faced Siskovics’ Corps. Together, they had 6 guns. These bns were deployed as follows (from right to left):

Zieten, now surrounded by superior forces, personally led a counter-attack at the head of his troops in an attempt to disentangle his shattered force from encirclement.

Soon the right wing of Loudon swung to the north-east and united with the left wing of Siskovics, which had advanced on the road between Altliebe and Domstadl. Zieten’s Corps was now isolated from the main Prussian army. The wagons immobilized on the road, which had not been able to reach Domstadl, became the prey of the Austrians.

The Austrians advanced on the “Wagenburg” from north, west and south. Cannonballs coming from all directions crashed into the “Wagenburg”. The explosion of a few wagons loaded with powder increased the general confusion. Most of the drivers had abandoned their vehicle and were trying to escape towards Troppau with their horses.

Zieten vainly sent Schmettau Cuirassiers and the hussars at hand against Loudon’s the left wing. Their attack was soon broken by the Austrian artillery and the Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld Dragoons, sent forward by Loudon to counter this attack did not meet opposition. The Prussian cavalry slowly retired towards Troppau, leaving the infantry to its fate.

Meanwhile, the Prussian bns defending the “Wagenburg” desperately tried to resist to the attacks of the Austrians. Soon Grenzer light troops finally penetrated into Altliebe but Tresckow Infantry managed to drive them back at the point of the bayonet. The battalion of Prinz Ferdinand, consisting of recruits still unfamiliar with war, repulsed several attacks with the greatest valor.

At length, the Austrians managed to penetrate into the “Wagenburg” and to attack the Prussian bns in flank and rear. The latter broke and fled through Altliebe. Finally, I./Tresckow rallied and partially covered the retreat. The exhausted Austrians initially sent only hussars to pursue them.

Now completely cut from Frederick's Army and with Altliebe retaken, Zieten had only one choice left: to abandon the convoy to its fate and to march back towards Troppau with as much troops and wagons he could save from the disaster. Colonel Lanjus and Major Amelunken closely pursued Zieten's force. A battalion of the Garrison Regiment Blanckensee, which had been sent from Troppau towards Bautsch, failed to rally the flow of fleeing troops.

Siskovics, whose right wing had only been involved in the attack on the “Wagenburg”, then sent a part of his troops (Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers, 2 troops of hussars, 2 foot grenadier coys, 1 bn of Haller Infantry and some Grenzer light troops) in pursuit but they could no longer catch up with the fleeing Prussian infantry and soon returned.

Contemporary lithography depicting the engagement of Domstadl, June 30 1758
Source: "I. E. Belling, Cath. fec. exc. a. v." (Collection of Harald Skala)
 
Accompanying text:
Heroic action of an Austrian corps under command of the valuable General-Feldzeugmeister von Loudon and General Siskovics at Neudörfl on June 30 where a big Prussian convoy of approx. 14,000 men was completely destroyed; 42 officers and more than 1,600 men taken prisoners; 13 guns, more than 2,000 ammunition wagons and 4 wagons with loaded with money, between 3 and 4,000 horses and many muskets were captured, the remaining wagons being destroyed. After this action, the King of Prussia was obliged to immediately stop the siege of Olmütz and to save himself by escape.
 
1. Loudon talking to the Prussian wagoners
2. Siskovics talking to Austrian hussars
3. General von Zieten questioning an Austrian officer
4. King of Prussia talking in front of the Fortress of Olmütz
5. Olmütz to the King of Prussia
6. The Commander of the fortress talking to the Prussians
 
a) General Loudon
b) General Siskovics
c) Prussian General von Zieten
d) Attacking Grenzers
e) Austrian batteries
f) Prussian defence
g) Prussian Wagenburg
h) Austrian troops
i) Quick retreat of the Prussian army from Olmütz

Soon after 4:00 p.m., combats around Altliebe ended. However, a few Prussian bns (Grenadier Battalion Rath, Grenadier Battalion Carlowitz, II./Jung-Kreytzen Infantry and ½ bn Teuffel) still held their positions near Domstadl. Siskovics once more launched his left wing against them. The Prussians were soon attacked on all sides and, for the most part cut down or captured. Only a few managed to escape through Domstadl and to rejoin the Prussian army.

The Baron von Kyau Cuirassiers, who were still posted on a height south-west of Domstadl, did not dare to come to the support of the Prussian infantry. They rather followed the advance guard, who had meanwhile continued its march from Domstadl via Giebau (present-day Jívová), to at least save the wagons transporting gold.

The convoy was now a ruin and a prey. The Austrians captured more than 3,000 loaded wagons. However, most wagons were damaged and unmovable. Loudon burned everything that could not be transported and blown up the ammunition.

In the evening, Loudon marched to Bärn.

Meanwhile, the Prussian vanguard, under Major-General Anton von Krockow, along with the remnants of some units (Grenadier Battalion Manteuffel, Grenadier Battalion Unruh, Grenadier Battalion Schenckendorff, Grenadier Battalion Alt-Billerbeck, Grenadier Battalion Rath, Grenadier Battalion Carlowitz, Jung-Kreytzen Infantry, 5 sqns of Baron von Kyau Cuirassiers, 1 sqn of Schmettau Cuirassiers, 500 hussars) and 250 wagons had managed to break through Austrian forces. In the evening, Krockow's force finally reached Bistrowan (present-day Bystrovany). Out of 4,000 wagons, only 250 had reached their destination.

Outcome

In this combat, the Prussians had lost 58 officers and 2,328 men killed, wounded or captured; 12 cannon; and more than 3,000 wagons. Major-General Georg Ludwig von Puttkamer had been taken prisoner along with 4 staff officers, 36 subaltern officers and 1,450 men. For their part, the Austrians had lost about 600 men.

Despite this costly defeat, Prinz Ferdinand Infantry, consisting mainly of recruits distinguished itself. Only 65 of its troopers were captured, a few managed to return to Troppau but most of them were killed at their post.

The capture of the convoy put an end to Frederick's hope of making himself master of Olmütz. He had to lift the Siege of Olmütz and to retire through Bohemia (for details on his retreat, please refer to the last section of our article on the Prussian invasion of Moravia).

Order of Battle

Austrian Order of Battle

Colonel Baron Ernst Gideon Loudon's Corps (about 10,000 men)

Colonel Lanjus' Corps

Joseph Baron von Siskovics' Corps (incorporating part of Saint-Ignon's Corps)

Prussian Order of Battle

Commander-in-Chief: General of Cavalry Hans Joachim von Zieten

Mosel's escort (12 bns)

Zieten's Corps

References

This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  1. St.; E. v.: Zum Säcular-GedÇachtniss von 1758 – Der Felzug in Mähren oder die Belagerung und der Entsatz von Olmütz, Frankfurt am Main: Sauerländer's Verlag, 1858, pp. 8-180
  2. Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 7 Olmütz und Crefeld, Berlin, 1909 pp. 98-104
  3. Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 6-7, 66-135
  4. Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 18
  5. Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 260-265
  6. Archenholz, J. W., The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 148, 156, 171
  7. Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, pp. 442-444

Other sources

S.P.N. (maybe Siegmund Pollatschek von Nordwall): Reflexion über die zu der Affaire zu Domstadl (30. Juni 1758) in Beziehung stehenden Ereignisse des 26., 27., 28., 29. und 30. Juni 1758, in: Streffleurs Österreichische Militärische Zeitschrift, XVII Jg., 1876, Vol. 3., August, pp. 147-170 (from Archive.org)