1758 - Siege of Colberg
The siege lasted from October 3 to 29 1758
Description of Events
Prelude to the Siege
In 1758, a large Russian army had proceeded to the invasion of East Prussia and then to the invasion of Brandenburg. After the indecisive Battle of Zorndorf at the end of August, the Russian army remained idle in Brandenburg during the whole month of September. Due to lack of supplies, it then slowly retired towards East Pomerania. However, at the beginning of October, General Fermor detached Palmenbach with a corps to lay siege to Colberg. Indeed, the capture of this fortress and of its harbour would give the Russians an easily supplied place to sustain an army wintering in Eastern Pomerania. Furthermore, this would open a much shorter line of communication to supply an army campaigning in Brandenburg or Silesia the following year.
Since the beginning of 1758, the commandant of Colberg was Major von der Heyde. He was assisted by three other veterans: Artillery-Lieutenant Ebel, Lieutenant von Koschitzki as engineer, and Lieutenant Scheel. Upon arrival, he had immediately begun to improve the existing defensive works. From March to August, the Prussians had already reinforced the defences of the fortress by building a wooden palisade in front the covert way surrounding the fortress. Furthermore, they prepared all batteries, made sally ports and threw temporary bridges over the ditches.
By the end of September, thanks to Heyde’s ceaseless activity, the improvements undertaken had been completed. With only 8 artillerymen to man his numerous artillery, Heyde had to assign soldiers of his 2 bns to serve the pieces. Some inhabitants also volunteered for this task. Other inhabitants formed a battalion which was charged to man the walls while the 2 land battalions occupied the outer works.
When a Russian corps appeared in front of Colberg at the beginning of October, work was still under way to properly defend the “New Town” whose curtain walls and ravelins were not quite completed
no map available yet
The Fortress of Colberg (present-day Kołobrzeg) is located on the coast of Eastern Pomerania, at the mouth of the Persante River (present-day Parsęta). At its mouth, the Persante formed a small seaport well sheltered from storms and waves, the only major one of Eastern Pomerania. A thick earthwork with 12 iron pieces, erected at the mouth of the river, defended the entrance of the harbour, which was protected against the swell of the sea by two short jetties jutting into the sea. Another earthwork along the south-western edge of the Maikuhle Woods protected the place against a landing. The fortress had Vauban-style defensive works (3 m. thick earth curtain walls and 4 m. thick earth bastions), but there were major defects in their design. The high and very steep earth walls were strong, but had almost no masonry, being merely covered with brick. Furthermore, there were not enough casemates.
The whole work was surrounded by large ditches. The strength of the fortress was based on these wide ditches, and even more on its swampy surroundings intersected by many streams. The damp ground made siege work extremely difficult, especially since, in spring and autumn, the trenches were soon filled with water. Furthermore, the foreground on the south side of the fortress, between the Lauenburg and the Geld gates, could be flooded by secured locks. Even though there were no protecting dams on the northeastern, eastern and western sides of the fortress, it was also possible to flood the plain there, leaving only narrow accesses to the fortress. The weakest part of the natural defences of the fortress was its eastern side where a flat and broad plateau-like elevation, starting very close to the defensive works, extended to the east for a distance of 1½ km, thus allowing an attacker enough room to deploy his artillery. However, if the forces available to defend the fortress were significant, their line of defense could be extended to this plateau in the most advantageous manner, since it was isolated from the undulating ground to its south and east by wide swamps. Furthermore, a semicircular chain of knolls located to the south of the fortress and extending from the old town to the "Hohen Berg" provided suitable outposts for the defenders. Therefore, with a proper garrison, Colberg could oppose a strong resistance.
The terrain made the approach to the defensive works very difficult and the artillery of the attackers could only take a position at a distance. For these reasons, the artillery could not initially inflict serious damages to the earthworks. In such circumstances, one had to expect a long siege. Therefore, the main concern of the defenders was to provide adequate provisions to the fortress, since famine appeared as the worst of all enemies. But if the fortress was provided with enough food, ammunition and troops, it might well be able to resist far superior forces.
However, these favourable conditions were not met in 1758. The garrison consisted only of 2 bns (Land Militia Battalion Nr. 9 Schmeling and Land Militia Battalion Nr. 10 Kleist) which had already given up their best men to Dohna’s field regiments to compensate for the losses suffered at Zorndorf, and replaced them with recruits. Furthermore, these two units still counted 120 Saxons impressed in their ranks after the capitulation of Pirna. Together, these 2 bns counted some 700 men. In addition, the garrison included a few invalids who had come from the Castle of Draheim (unidentified location), but there was no cavalry. To man the defensive works of Colberg properly, a garrison of some 3,500 men would have been required. The fortress was well provided with artillery (130 cannon from 3-pdr to 24-pdr, and 14 mortars) and ammunition but only 8 artillerymen were available.
On September 28, a Russian corps under the command of Major-General Palmenbach marched towards Colberg from Fermor’s camp at Alt-Prilipp (present-day Stary Przylep) near Stargard. It consisted of 4 infantry rgts (about 3,000 men), 2 sqns of horse grenadiers, 2 sqns of hussars and some Cossacks with 8 regimental pieces and 12 heavy pieces. Palmenbach marched by Stargard, Labes (present-day Lobez), Schivelbein (present-day Świdwin), Sellnow (present-day Zieleniewo) to Colberg to undertake the siege of the fortress. Now that Russian troops were operating in Eastern Pomerania, this little fortress had suddenly acquired a great importance.
Informed of the Russian advance on Colberg, the Duke of Bevern at Stettin (present-day Szczecin) immediately detached Lieutenant-Colonel von Schaffstedt with the 2 bns of the Garrison Regiment I von Puttkamer and 30 artillerymen by Gross-Stepenitz (present-day Stepnica) and Cammin (present-day Kamień Pomorski) along the coast in the direction of Colberg. Schaffstedt had been instructed to use boats to reach Colberg if ever the land route was blocked.
On the night of October 2, Schaffstedt’s detachment cantoned in and around Greifenberg (present-day Gryfice).
On October 3
- At about 11:00 a.m., Palmenbach's Corps arrived by the road of Schivelbein on the heights of Sellnow.
- Palmenbach immediately sent a trumpeter to Colberg with a written summon which Major Heyde rejected.
- The Russians then laid siege to Colberg which was defended by a small garrison of 2 militia bns (some 700 men). The Russian artillery immediately fired some shells on the “New Town” but their pieces were posted too far away to reach it. Palmenbach encamped his corps between Sellnow and Alt-Werder (present-day Korzystno).
- Palmenbach decided to attack the fortress from the north-west and ordered to move 3 unicorns across the Maikuhle towards the Persante during the night.
- Around 11:00 a.m., the guard of the Fortress of Colberg saw Palmenbach's Russian Corps on the march near Sellnow. Major von der Heyde immediately shot down the locks of the water ditch of the fortress to flood the land to the south of the fortress.
- Major Heyde took immediate measures to prepare for the siege. He did not try to defend the entrenchments along the edge of the Maikuhle Woods and evacuated them. With his small garrison, he could not even hope to defend the harbour and the entrenchments at the mouth of the Persante. Both had to be abandoned to the enemy, but he managed to bring back the 12 iron guns which he had planted there (to the exception of one whose carriage broke). The ditches were inundated and dispositions were taken to fight any fire.
- The vanguard of Schaffstedt’s detachment, on its way to Colberg, found a Russian cavalry force blocking the land route to the fortress. Schaffstedt detached a few men towards Colberg but they were attacked by Palmenbach's light troops. The Prussians lost 3 men killed and 47 taken prisoners. When Schaffstedt heard that a Swedish warship had recently been seen cruising at the mouth of the Persante River. He did not dare to make an attempt to reach Colberg by sea and retreated to Cammin.
On October 4
- Early in the morning, the Russians planted 3 unicorns in the Maikuhle Woods. They bombarded the fortress from 10:00 a.m. till noon. The Prussian artillery immediately answered.
- Palmenbach summoned Heyde a second time but the latter refused to surrender once more, even though Palmenbach threatened to reduce the town to ashes.
- Palmenbach erected a second battery for his six 12-pdr guns and the rest of his unicorns to the north of Grünhausen.
- Palmenbach also established a bridge with the three boats seized in the harbour to reach the suburb at the mouth of the Persante.
- In the evening the Russians batteries bombarded Colberg during one hour.
- Heyde sent 400 militia ahead to occupy the covert way while townspeople, organised in companies, lined the walls. There were only 8 artillerymen in the town but Lieutenant Scheel soon trained 120 militia. Throughout the siege, the Prussian artillery would maintain an overwhelming superiority.
In the night of October 4 to 5, Palmenbach occupied the suburb at the mouth of the Persante. The houses, the tree garden and the building of the suburb of Pfannschmiede offered the Russians good cover for their siege works.
On October 5
- From 8:00 a.m. till noon, a Russian battery fired into Colberg from the Maikuhle Woods. The Prussians answered with a very lively fire.
- The bombardments resumed from 4:00 p.m.
- Brigadier Berg advanced against the harbour with 4 grenadier coys, 6 x 12-pdrs and 6 unicorns. The Prussians had already abandoned the redoubt in the harbour. Berg detachment crossed the boat bridge and occupied the suburbs of Munde and Pfannschmiede.
- Engineer Oettingen opened the trenches in the tree garden of Pfannschmiede and began work on a battery.
On October 6, a Russian battery of 3 unicorns bombarded the fortress from the Maikuhle Woods while work on the trenches went on.
On the night of October 6 to 7, Russian artillery pieces were moved from the batteries along the Maikuhle Woods to the new battery in the tree garden of Pfannschmiede.
On October 7
- On the morning, the new battery of the tree garden (2 unicorns and 3 x 12-pdrs) opened on Colberg till 11:00 a.m. causing more damages.
- In the afternoon, the Russian battery was damaged by a 200 lbs shell.
Palmenbach had soon realized that his chosen point of attack against the fortress was inappropriate and that he had insufficient siege equipment and troops to lead a successful siege. The defensive works had remained completely undamaged and the bombardments had not caused the expected panic among the inhabitants. Palmenbach had already informed Fermor of the situation, but the latter would know nothing about raising the siege; he rather sent him a reinforcement under Colonel Yakoblev consisting of Kievskiy Infantry and Troitskiy Infantry with their regimental guns (probably 6 pieces), 2 howitzers and 700 light cavalry, a total of about 2,700 men.
On Sunday October 8
- The trenches were extended.
- The bombardment ceased till 3:00 p.m. to allow the population to attend religious service. However, being uninformed of these dispositions, the inhabitants did not take advantage of this measure.
- The bombardment resumed from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Palmenbach summoned the besieged again but his offer was rejected once more.
- Ignoring that reinforcements were under way, Palmenbach decided to raise the siege of Colberg.
During the night of October 8 to 9, a hail of bombs and red hot balls fell on Colberg till 5:00 a.m.
On October 9
- Around 5:00 a.m., the artillery suddenly ceased its bombardment. Palmenbach raised the siege and started his march to join the main army. He had failed to capture Colberg and his bombardment had caused little damage.
- Palmenbach was retreating by Sellnow to Groß Jestin (present-day Gościno) where he met Yakoblev’s reinforcements. Yakoblev also carried new orders specifying that the siege must be vigorously carried on.
- After some argumentation, Yakoblev persuaded Palmenbach to return to Colberg. Palmenbach was now at the head of 5,700 men with 14 heavy pieces and 14 regimental pieces.
- As the sun rose, the guards on the walls of Colberg noticed that the Russians were retiring towards Sellnow. Nevertheless, Heyde did not dare to leave the fortress to destroy the siege works, fearing that the Russian retreat could only be a ruse.
On October 10
- Palmenbach returned to Colberg where he reoccupied his former position in the tree garden which had been left intact.
- Berg reintegrated his previous positions.
- Palmenbach detached Yakoblev with the new units to establish a camp not far from to the south-east of the old town near the suburb of Lauenburg. Yakoblev threw a bridge across the Persante near Rossenthin (present-day Rościęcino) to link the two corps.
- The Russian cavalry took position to the south-west of the fortress to cut all communications.
- After the refusal of another summon by the Prussian commander of the fortress, the bombardment restarted.
During the night of October 10 to 11, Yakoblev made an approach trench at the mouth of the Persante towards St. Nicholas Church in Pfannschmiede, this church was located on a small hill.
On October 11
- The trenches in front of St. Nicholas were completed and the artillery pieces re-established in the battery in the tree garden and the new battery near the St. Nicholas Church opened on Colberg. The defenders answered with a lively fire. Bombardment continued for the whole day, setting fire to part of the town.
- A party of Cossacks and horse grenadiers under Major Vermeulen surrounded the suburbs of Muhlen.
- The defenders answered the Russian bombardment with a lively fire. The two land battalions occupied the covert way while the townspeople manned the main wall. The sharpshooters of the rifle guild particularly distinguished themselves, inflicting heavy losses to the Russian reconnaissance parties.
On the night of October 11 to 12, Yakoblev moved his encampment near Neckniehn behind the “Hohen Berg” and established a battery on its north-western slope near the brickyard.
On October 12
- The new battery in front of St. Nicholas was completed. It consisted of 1 unicorn, 3 x 12-pdrs and 1 x 3-pdrs. The new battery of Neckniehn near the brickyard also opened fire.
- General-Quartermaster von Stoffeln arrived from the main Russian army, reconnoitred the siege works and then took charge of the attack against the north-western front of the fortress around Pfannschmiede while Ingenieur-Colonel von Oettingen, who had formerly supervised this sector, was sent to assist Yakoblev.
- During a council of war, it was resolved to assault the covert way.
- The inhabitants assigned to fire watch succeeded in quickly extinguishing the fires caused by the bombardment.
From then on, siege works progressed faster. Despite the lively fire of the defenders, the Russians managed, under the cover of the houses of the Pfannschmiede, to push their approach trench closer and to start working at a new battery between the St. Nicholas Church and the glacis.
During the night of October 12 to 13, about midnight, there was a false alarm in Colberg.
On October 13
- In the morning, the now completed battery between the St. Nicholas Church and the glacis opened on Colberg.
- Trenches were advanced further even during the day, as the defenders could hardly disturb them with the houses obstructing their field of fire and with the pieces mounted on the walls unable to fire in such a dead angle. The approach trench now reached the glacis.
- Major von der Heyde, unwilling to risk a combat in the outer works with his small garrison, ordered all his troops to abandon the covert way and to retire into Colberg. The drawbridge was destroyed and bridges over the ditches removed.
On October 14
- The new battery south of the Pfannschmiede opened on Colberg.
- Under a heavy rain, the Russians prepared for an assault in front of their third battery. For this purpose, they made a lodgement in the covert way.
- Spotting all the preparations of the Russians, the Prussians opened a very lively fire against these positions.
On the night of October 14 to 15, the Russians cut through the glacis and reached the ditch. They thought that they would have an easy time with the ramparts which appeared to be in poor condition. But Heyde had silently work on the part of the wall facing the Russian approach, cutting it so deeply that it would be easy to break it with a few well adjusted shots. When the Russians started to bring down the palisade of the covert way and the defenders could see the approaching columns of grenadiers under the moonshine, the Prussians suddenly opened against them, spreading panic in their ranks and forcing them to retire to their trenches with heavy losses. Finally, the Russians managed to establish a breastwork on the covert way with gabions. During this attack, the Russians had also launched another assault with 200 grenadiers and 200 dismounted horse grenadiers on the flat on the west bank of the Persante between the Pfannschmiede and the outer works of the Gelder Gate behind which was kept the provision of hay and straw of the town. However, 50 men of the garrison were posted there and drove back the attackers.
In the next few days, the Russians prepared positions from which to storm the place and established a battery on the glacis; works were also erected on the street leading from the Pfannschmiede to Colberg. The Russian battery established on the north-west slope of the “Hohen Berg” was particularly annoying. The artillery of the defenders was constantly active. To have a better field of fire on the Russian positions, Heyde had the ramparts removed at some suitable places.
On October 15
- The Russian troops were master of the covert ways of Colberg.
- The Prussians vainly tried to destroy the Russian battery facing St. Nicolas Church.
On October 16
- The Russians built a new battery where the unicorns were planted. The engineers reconnoitred the town while Palmenbach gathered 23 boats.
- Fermor departed from Stargard with the main Russian army, moving closer to Colberg.
On October 17
- Lieutenant Inglestrom discovered a sally port gate from which the Prussians received supplies and intelligence. A party of cossacks was immediately posted in this area to prevent any further communication.
- The siege artillery established along the northern front fired against the walls and the powder magazine (the Russians had learned the location of the powder magazine from deserters) and some bombs and cannonballs fell inside the fortress. More houses were reduced to ruins. The rainy, cold and stormy weather made work more difficult for the besiegers whose trenches were filled with water. The Russian artillery had few ammunition remaining and it gradually reduced its fire.
- The Russians also launched an attack against the lock controlling the level of water in the ditch on the north-west side of the fortress but their attack was driven back.
- A Russian fleet of 27 vessels, which had set sail from Riga, Memel and Königsberg (present-day Kaliningrad), transporting food and ammunition for the besiegers was surprised by a violent westerly storm between Stolpmünde (near present-day Slupsk) and Rügenwaldermünde (near present-day Darlowo) on the Baltic coast. Six ships were able to escape to Danzig (present-day Gdańsk), eleven ships sank, and the rest were stranded and wrecked at Pillau (present-day Baltijsk). That was a big blow for the besieging force which was running low on ammunition.
On October 18
- The Russian artillery had not yet managed to breach the wall or to dismount the pieces planted on the ramparts. Nevertheless, the decision was made to storm the place. Rafts and barges were prepared to cross the moat, thick planks along their sides provided protection against grapeshot. Ladders were also made to climb the walls. A first detachment would cross the moat and establish itself on the embankment near the wall. Other detachments would then follow and storm the wall. About 20 fishing boats had already been assembled on the beach out of the village. Such an attack had little chance of success against well prepared defenders, so Yakoblev would also launch a diversionary attack from the south-east. Yakoblev’s assault on the south-east was cleverly chosen, it was aimed at the “Pommern” Bastion, between the Persante and the Lauenburg Gate, a location where close to the glacis the houses and gardens of the Lauenburg suburb limited the defenders’ field of fire.
- The Russians completed a fifth battery. They also dug a gallery towards the counterscarp of the town. It was also determined to carry a sap through the covert way on the Lauenburg side.
- During the evening, a strong Russian detachment forced the gate at the entrance of the Lauenburg suburb and took possession of this suburb.
- Palmenbach then sent a new summon to the Prussian commander of the place who refused to surrender.
- Fermor marched to Reetz (present-day Recz) with the main Russian army.
During the night of October 18 to 19
- Yakoblev occupied the suburb. At once, despite the fierce fire of the defender, he made an approach to the head of the “Pommern” Bastion. Covered by the houses, palisades, hedges and trees, he started his approach at 250 m. from the glacis.
- The garrison kept up a heavy fire on the Russian positions at Lauenburg.
On October 19
- The Russian battery established on the north side of the fortress opened. The Russians then tried to cross the ditch in this section but failed because of the violent grapeshot fire of the cleverly placed Prussian guns.
- The garrison took dispositions to resist the expected Russian assault on the Lauenburg side. Colonel Schmeling commanded the Prussian force on this side of the town.
During the night of October 19 to 20, the Russians started the building of a new battery in the Lauenburg suburb.
On October 20
- The Russians changed the direction of their attack trench on the northern side, following the ditch of the glacis towards the Halberstadt Bastion, lying on the Persante, which could not be so easily supported by the adjacent works.
- A convoy of ammunition arrived at the camp from Marienwerder (present-day Kwidzyn). Soon afterwards, the fire of the Russian artillery intensified.
On the night of October 21 to 22
- Yakoblev’s attack trench on the southeastern side of the fortress was becoming more and more threatening. Even though the fire of the defenders slowed down the work of the Russians, they managed to establish a battery not far from the glacis of the “Pommern” Bastion. From now on, this battery supported most effectively the siege works by its fire, especially when Yakoblev received additional guns transferred from the north side. Gradually, the advancing Russians reached the dead angle of the rampart. However, the Russians were once more running out of ammunition. They had to confine themselves to the use of raw fire-projectiles. They also collected Prussian cannonballs to fire them back against the fortress. Often their guns were forced to remain silent for a long time.
- The approaches on the Lauenburg side advanced 100 paces towards the covert way.
- The bombardment set fire to a straw magazine located in the defensive works on the left bank of the Persante. However, the strong wind soon died down and a fine rain fell. The Prussians were able to prevent the fire from spreading to a nearby hay magazine.
On October 22
- Under the heavy artillery fire from Colberg, the Russians did not make any significant progress.
- The Russian artillery, now short on ammunition, began to play only at 4:00 p.m..
- Dohna's Corps advanced up to Stargard and the main Russian army retired to Dramburg (present-day Drawsko Pomorskie). Dohna then resolved to make an attempt to relieve Colberg.
On October 23, the Russian artillery fired only sporadically to preserve the remaining ammunition. The battery on the Lauenburg side was completed and 2 howitzers mounted in it.
On October 26, Wobersnow marched from Massow (present-day Maszewo) to Naugard (present-day Nowogard) where he was informed that Greifenberg was occupied by 300 cossacks and horse grenadiers. During the evening Wobersnow detached Colonel Schlaberndorf with a battalion of Kanitz Infantry, 3 sqns of Alt-Platen Dragoons and 300 hussars to Plathe (present-day Płoty) on the river Rega.
On October 27
- At 2:00 AM, Platen marched with the remaining 2 sqns of Alt-Platen Dragoons and 100 hussars, supported by Nesse Grenadiers. At 3:00 a.m., Wobersnow marched with the rest of his corps. These two corps advanced directly on the road. Less than 1 km from Greifenberg, the Prussians encountered the first Russian outposts and fired some cannonshots on them, alerting the Russian troops in Greifenberg who immediately retired. Schlaberndorf had not yet reached his assigned position to cut off the Russians from their line of retreat. The Russians managed to escape the trap.
- Even if the siege had, by then, lasted three weeks, the morale of the inhabitants of Colberg was still quite good. So far, only lack of wood had been noticeable, but this was a very sensitive problem in the prevailing cold.
- Heyde, who had until recently been expecting relief from Frederick II, received the news of the Prussian defeat at Hochkirch. He kept this information secret so that nobody in the fortress knew of this new development.
- The inhabitants did not hesitate to make an attempt to bring back part of the supplies of wood kept in the Gelder suburb while the Prussian artillery on the walls drove the Cossacks out of the suburb.
- Assault seemed imminent: the Russians had reached the north-western corner of the Halberstadt Bastion and, on the south side, their attack trench was getting close to the ditch. The Russians could be seen preparing the attacks.
- Wedell and Dohna received orders from Frederick to come to the rescue of Saxony, leaving only 8 bns under the command of Manteuffel to contain the Swedes.
On October 28
- The fire of all Russian batteries intensified, reaching an unprecedented ferocity. A vast amount of bombs, grenades, red hot balls, cannonballs and stone fell on the town and on the targeted bastions. Nevertheless, the garrison and the inhabitants stood firm. The situation in Eastern Pomerania had recently changed dramatically and this bombardment was the last desperate attempt of the Russians to force the place to surrender.
- In the morning, II./Kanitz Infantry joined Wobersnow's Corps at Greifenberg. Then, Wobersnow moved towards Gützlaffshagen (present-day Gocławice) where he made a demonstration, hoping to induce Palmenbach to abandon the siege of Colberg. His cavalry skirmished till nightfall with Russian outposts near the village of Spie (present-day Błotnica). Meanwhile, Wobersnow's infantry retreated on Treptow (present-day Trzebiatów) during the evening. The Prussian cavalry joined them during the night.
- In Western Pomerania, Wedell's Corps left Suckow according to Frederick's orders.
On October 29
- Early in the morning, Palmenbach, informed of the combat of Greifenberg and of Platen’s march on Colberg, deployed the Narvskiy Infantry and Sibirskiy Infantry on the Kautzenberg to the west of Rossenthin, this hill overlooked the road leading from Gützlaffshagen through Neubrück (unidentified location) to Colberg.
- In the morning, a convoy arrived at the camp with ammunition.
- In a war council, the Russian generals at Colberg expressed their fear that the whole of Dohna’s Army, or at least a large part of it, was on the march to relieve the fortress. Even though they knew about the reinforcements on their way under Mordvinov, they decided to raise the siege, considering that their artillery park was insufficiently defended and that the many detachments of the siege corps, isolated as they were by marches and watercourses could be easily attacked one after the other. The decision was made without any attempt to learn more about the approaching Prussian forces.
- The Russian sap on the Lauenburg side had now gone through the covert way.
- In the afternoon, a Russian ship arrived at Colberg from Königsberg, bringing additional ammunition
- Around 7:00 p.m., the Russian siege artillery suddenly fell silent. Shortly afterwards, the Russian which had arrived in the afternoon sailed away without having unloaded its cargo.
- Fermor, ignoring the exact situation at Colberg, finally decided (too late) to send an important corps (5 infantry rgts, 3 field pieces and some 500 hussars and Cossacks) under Major-General Mordvinov to reinforce Palmenbach at Colberg.
- Several fires broke out in Colberg but they were soon extinguished.
- In the afternoon, Prussian observers posted in the tower of the St. Mary's Cathedral could see Russian light cavalry in movement to the west and south-west of Colberg.
- Platen’s infantry, marching by Gützlaffshagen, reached the defile of Neubrück while Platen himself at the head of his cavalry advanced farther to the Heights of Drenow (present-day Drzonowo, 3 km north of Neubrück) where his men skirmished for three hours with Cossacks. From Drenow, Platen could hear the sound of the guns at Colberg, which was only 11 km distant. Platen could also observe in the distance a camp on the western bank of the Persante. However, he was unable to determine the precise disposition and strength of this camp. He thus refrained from further action and retired with his detachment to Treptow, waiting to see if his demonstration had been convincing.
During the night of October 29 to 30
- Deceived by Wobersnow's feint, Palmenbach raised the siege of Colberg, evacuating his positions under the lively fire of the artillery of Colberg.
- The Russian troops posted on the western bank of the Persante retired and rejoined the rest of the siege corps in a camp at Stöckow. Palmenbach intended to march from this camp towards Köslin (present-day Koszalin) where he hoped to effect a junction with the main army and then march back to Colberg. When Palmenbach learned that the Prussian relief force had not resumed its advance towards Colberg and that the garrison was busy destroying the siege works, he wanted to make up for his hasty withdrawal.
On October 30
- Heyde was informed of the retreat of the Russians. At 8:00 a.m., he opened the Lauenburg gate. Strong parties were then sent out to fill up the trenches and destroy the trenches and posts located between the Lauenburg suburb and the “Pommern” bastion. They also brought back gabions and fascines inside the fortress. However, they could not yet destroy the trenches on the north side of the fortress because the Münder Gate had been blocked and the bridge across the ditch removed. Afterwards, the bridge of boat at the mouth of the Persante was dismantled.
- In the morning, Platen did not reconnoitre the Russian positions to ascertain Palmenbach’s reaction to his arrival. Instead, he decided to wait for news from the fortress and for Dohna's orders, to whom he had also asked for a reinforcement of 2 to 3 bns. He heard the rumor that the Russians had not interrupted the siege. Accordingly, he decided to remain behind the Rega. He let half of his detachment in Treptow and marched to Greifenberg with the rest.
- In the evening, an inhabitant of Colberg arrived at Greifenberg. He informed Platen of the raising of the siege but the latter would not believe him because Heyde had not yet sent the news to Platen. At about that time, Platen received new orders from Dohna instructing him, if possible, to reinforce the garrison of the fortress with a battalion and two 12-pdrs, but otherwise to expose his troops to no danger and to retire, if necessary, to Stettin. Thus, a whole day was lost.
- At sunset, the gates of Colberg were closed and the ramparts manned as usual.
- A few inhabitants of Colberg ventured into Yakoblev’s former camp but were soon attacked and captured by a party of Cossacks who brought them to Palmenbach’s camp at Stöckow.
During the night of October 30 to 31
- Palmenbach sent Brigadier Berg with 1,200 grenadiers and 2 unicorns to reoccupy his former positions in the suburb of Lauenburg and to throw two bridges across the Persante. The main body of the siege corps would then follow this vanguard at daybreak. Palmenbach also asked Fermor to send him reinforcements, especially cavalry for reconnaissance. He also urged Fermor to move closer to Colberg with the main army. Finally, Palmenbach ordered Mordvinov to check the advance of Platen’s Corps.
- Berg with the vanguard wanted to take advantage of the supposed carelessness of the garrison and, while it was busy leveling trenches, to penetrate by surprise into the fortress through the open gate. For this purpose, he hid 2 grenadier coys in barns in the Lauenburg suburb.
On October 31
- Between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., a number of inhabitants of Colberg came out escorted by part of the garrison to complete the leveling of the trenches. The works overlooking the Lauenburg Gate were occupied. Work was about to begin when the inhabitants heard noise coming from the barns where the Russian grenadiers were hiding. The Prussian garrison had time to assemble and form. Part of the Russian grenadiers entered by the open gate, but Major von Kleist with 50 militia opposed them. At the same time, Lieutenant-Colonel von Schmeling with another 100 militia tried to get around the left flank of the Russians attackers through crossways.
- At 50 paces Kleist fired on the Russian grenadiers who gave way and were pursued to St. George churchyard. The rest of the Russian troops, hidden in the barns, were soon isolated and could not support each other, they finally had to retreat to the churchyard. There, the grapeshot fire of a Russian 3-pdr stopped the onrushing Prussians.
- At this moment, Russian hussars and horse grenadiers came to the assistance of their grenadiers. Schmeling advanced against the Russian cavalry which wavered, dared not attack, received fire and retreated over the dam. The danger was averted.
- Heyde could see from the walls even more troops assembling on the Matz meadows in preparation for an attack. He recalled Lieutenant-Colonel von Schmeling and Major von Kleist, closed the gate and opened with his artillery against the Russian reinforcements which soon came to a halt. The 2 Russian grenadier coys which had taken refuge in the churchyard were now isolated.
- The Russian opened on Colberg with 2 unicorns planted at the foot of the “Hohen Berg” and for an hour, bombs fell on the town. To rescue the 2 grenadier coys, the Russian vanguard remained at the southern edge of the Matz meadow till darkness. The suburb was then evacuated and the Russians vanguard rejoined the main body at the camp of Stöckow (present-day Stojkowo).
- In the morning, Palmenbach had received orders from Fermor to rejoin at Neustettin (present-day Szczecinek) the main army which was retiring towards Tempelburg (present-day Czaplinek).
- Dohna’s Army set off from Stargard and marched towards Stettin. However, Palmenbach’s Cossacks and Mordvinov’ cavalry blocked its way.
- Platen sent strong patrols towards Colberg from his positions at Greifenberg and Treptow. Meanwhile, Platen received Dohna’s orders to follow his own army which was marching through Stettin towards Brandenburg. However, Platen still had to send 1 bn to reinforce the garrison of Colberg. This last order proved to be impossible to execute with Mordvinov’s detachment posted at Schivelbein.
- Wedell arrived at Berlin from Western Pomerania. He then waited for Dohna's Corps. Then, their combined corps, consisting of 23 bns and 32 sqns, marched towards Torgau.
On the night of October 31 to November 1, Palmenbach retired and his corps began its march to join the main Russian army.
On November 6, Palmenbach made a junction with the main Russian army at Tempelburg after marching from Köslin by Bublitz (present-day Bobolice) and Bärwalde (present-day Barwice). Soon, Mordvinov’s detachment also rejoin the army.
The small Prussian garrison had victoriously resisted.
Order of Battle
Prussian Order of Battle
Commander-in-chief: Major von der Heyde
Summary: 2 militia bns (some 700 men including some invalids sent from Draheim), 1 volunteer bn and 8 artillerymen
Local volunteers (1 bn recruited among the inhabitants of Colberg)
Artillery (8 artillerymen)
Russian Order of Battle
Commander-in-chief: Major-General Palmenbach assisted by Brigadier Berg and Colonel Oettingen as engineer.
Summary: about 15,000 men
- Light cavalry (2 sqns)
- Gruzinskiy Hussars (2 sqns)
- Cossacks (a few hundreds)
- Line cavalry (2 sqns)
- Infantry (4 rgts totaling 3,000 men)
- Regimental artillery (255 men and 8 x 3-pdrs guns)
- Field artillery under Colonel Volkersaamen
- 6 x 12-pdrs guns (captured from the Prussians)
- 1 x 80-pdrs unicorn
- 1 x 40-pdrs unicorn
- 4 x 20-pdrs unicorns
Reinforcements under Colonel Yakoblev (arriving on October ??)
- Infantry (approx. 2,000 men)
- Regimental pieces (probably 6 pieces)
- 2 howitzers
- unidentified light cavalry unit (approx. 700 men)
Reinforcements under Lieutenant-General Resanov (arriving on October 27)
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 8 Zorndorf und Hochkirch, Berlin, 1910, pp. 210-224, 227
- Tielke, J. G., An Account of some of the most Remarkable Events of the War between the Prussians, Austrians and Russians from 1756 to 1763, Vol. 2, Walter, London, 1788, pp. 239-258, p. 268-361
- Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 252-253, 262-264
- Carlyle, T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 18
- Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 317-318
Maslowski D., Russkaja armia w siedmioletnoj wojnu, vol. 2, Moscow, 1892,
Tomasz Karpiński (student at the Institute of History, University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań, Poland) for the detailed Russian order of battle.