Difference between revisions of "1759 - Prussian incursions behind enemy lines"

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(Added info from the work of the Grosser Generalstab)
(Added info from the work of the Grosser Generalstab)
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During this incursion, the Hereditary Prince had made more than 2,000 prisoners.
 
During this incursion, the Hereditary Prince had made more than 2,000 prisoners.
 
===Incursion in Poland against Russian magazines===
 
===Incursion in Poland against Russian magazines===
On the Eastern theatre, from February 24 to March 4, the Prussians made an incursion across the Polish border.
 
  
Major-general Moritz Franz Kasimir von Wobersnow first assembled a force of about 8,000 horse and foot at Glogau (present-day Głogów). More precisely, his force consisted of:
+
During the winter of 1758-59, the Russians had established important magazines at Posen (present-day Poznań) in Poland for their planned campaigns in Brandenburg and in Silesia. If these weakly garrisoned magazines were to be annihilated, it would postpone the opening of the campaign until new provisions could be assembled, an operation that would require some time in such a poor country with its insufficient road network. Such a delay would leave [[Frederick II|Frederick]] free to move unhindered against his other opponents for a few months.
  
 +
Frederick was also informed that the Austrians and Russians had established important magazines in the vicinity of Krakau (present-day Kraków); and that provisions were assembled at Warsaw and other Polish cities.
 +
 +
On January 31, Frederick instructed Major-General Platen, commanding in Farther Pomerania, to destroy other Russian provision magazines established on the Netze (present-day Noteć River) or near that river. These magazines were only defended by weak garrisons.
 +
 +
Around mid-February, Frederick instructed Major-General Moritz Franz Kasimir von Wobersnow, his general-adjutant, to advance on Posen by way of Polnisch Lissa (present-day Leszno), and to destroy the Russian magazines established there.
 +
 +
On February 14, Frederick informed Major-General Platen of a planned incursion, which would be led by Major-General Wobersnow, against Russian magazines in Posen, instructing Platen to make a diversion to attract the attention of the Russians.
 +
 +
On February 15, General Platen reached Stolp (present-day Slupsk) with the [[Langermann Dragoons|Alt Platen Dragoons]].
 +
 +
By February 21, Wobersnow had assembled 7 bns  and 25 sqns and 12 heavy artillery pieces at Glogau (present-day Głogów) for his incursion in Poland. More precisely, his force consisted of:
 +
*[[47/G-VII Wangenheim Grenadiers|Grenadier Battalion 47/G-VII Carlowitz]] (1 bn)
 
*[[37/40 Manteuffel Grenadiers|Grenadier Battalion 37/40 Kleist]] (1 bn)
 
*[[37/40 Manteuffel Grenadiers|Grenadier Battalion 37/40 Kleist]] (1 bn)
*Grenadier Battalion 47/G-VII Carlowitz (1 bn)
+
*[[Zastrow Infantry|Bornstedt Infantry]] (2 bns)
*[[Markgraf Carl Infantry|Markgraf Carl]] (1 bn)
+
*[[Markgraf Carl Infantry]] (2 bns)
*[[Zastrow Infantry|Bornstedt]] (1 bn)
+
*[[Frei-Infanterie von Kalben|Freibataillon de Salenmon]] (1 bn)
*Frei-Infanterie de Salenmon (1 bn)
+
*[[Prinz von Schönaich-Carolath Cuirassiers|Bredow Cuirassiers]] (5 sqns)
*Szekely Hussars (about 250 men)
+
*Puttkamer Hussars (about 250 men)
+
 
*[[Normann Dragoons]] (5 sqns)
 
*[[Normann Dragoons]] (5 sqns)
*[[Langermann Dragoons|Alt Platen Dragoons]] (5 sqns)
+
*[[Stechow Dragoons|Jung-Platen Dragoons]] (5 sqns)
*Bredow Cuirassiers (5 sqns)
+
*[[Puttkamer Hussars]] (about 500 men)
*Artillery (12 guns)
+
*[[Zieten Hussars]] (about 500 men)
 +
*Artillery (12 heavy guns)
 +
 
 +
On February 22, Frederick detached Major Baron Pannwitz with 500 men from the [[Wartenberg Hussars|Möhring Hussars]] under Major von Lossow to capture the supplies assembled in the vicinity of Krakau and to bring back as mush as he could to Cosel (present-day Kędzierzyn-Koźle) in Upper-Silesia and to destroy the rest. Pannwitz spread the rumour that he would be marching on Warsaw, followed by an important corps to effect a junction with another Prussian corps at Posen.
 +
 
 +
On February 23, Wobersnow set off from Glogau, crossed the Oder and entered into Poland, reaching Fraustadt (present-day Wschowa). His mission was to overturn the Russian provision operations in this country. In particular, he had to look for Prince Aleksander Józef Sułkowski who was gathering food in expectation of the Russian advent. In fact, Sułkowski had formally declared war to Prussia.
 +
 
 +
On February 24
 +
*Prussians
 +
**Wobersnow continued his march towards Polnisch Lissa with 4 bns and 10 sqns. He also detached Major-General von Braun with 3 bns and 15 sqns towards Reisen (present-day Rydzyna) to put Prince Sułkowski under arrest.
 +
**Wobersnow surrounded the town of Polnisch Lissa.
 +
**Braun captured Sułkowski's considerable stock of Russian supplies, his little force of about 100 Poles (Sułkowski's personal guard), 15 small guns (from 1-pdrs to 3-pdrs) and Sułkowski himself. The Polish troops were compelled to take Prussian service (scattered among garrison regiments). Furthermore, Wobersnow issued a decree to recruit volunteers for the Prussian army. In fact, village peoples were forcefully incorporated into his corps. Sułkowski's wife was asked for a ransom of 30,000 thalers. Wobersnow then marched on Posen.
 +
 
 +
On February 26, Braun effected a junction with Wobersnow’s main body near Kosten (present-day Kościan). Wobersnow then marched by way of Stenschewo (present-day Steszew) towards Posen.
 +
 
 +
On February 28, Wobersnow’s Corps reached Posen. The 500 Cossacks guarding the place withdrew northeastwards without opposing any resistance but also without destroying the large magazines. The Prussians captured huge provisions of groat, barley and flour (enough to supply a 50,000 men strong army for 45 days). Unable to bring these provisions back, Wobersnow had to destroy them. He also ransomed Jews who were required to pay 2,000 ducats. Wobersnow took 14 hostages till they paid the remaining 676 ducats.
 +
 
 +
Two proclamations written by King Frederick in Latin were then distributed throughout the country. The first proclaimed his friendship for the Republic of Poland, mentioning that the Prussians had entered into Poland only to hinder the preparations of the Russians for an attack on the Kingdom of Prussia; and that the population would not be molested. In the second proclamation, Frederick explained his reasons to put Prince Sułkowski under arrest.
 +
 
 +
At the end of February, Pannwitz’s detachment marched by way of Tarnowitz (present-day Tarnowskie Góry) towards Krakau. However, Pannwitz found no magazines in the region of Krakau. He retreated by way of Biala (present-day Biała Krakowska). On his way he engaged a small Russian detachment escorting an adjutant sent by Fermor to Vienna, capturing several documents.
 +
 
 +
On March 2
 +
*Prussians
 +
**Wobersnow detached Colonel von Platen (not to be confused with Major-General von Platen) with the [[Stechow Dragoons|Jung-Platen Dragoons]] and the [[Zieten Hussars]] downstream along the Warthe River (present-day Warta) to destroy additional supplies in small Russian magazines in Obersitzko (present-day Obrzycko), Wronke (present-day Wronki), Pinne (present-day Pniewy), Birnbaum (present-day Kamionna), Meseritz (present-day Międzyrzecz) and Schwerin (present-day Skwierzyna). Colonel von Platen marched by way of Samter (actual Szamotuly) to Obersitzko.
 +
**Major-General von Platen, informed that Wobersnow was at Posen, detached Colonel von Gersdorff with 400 horse (from [[Langermann Dragoons|Alt-Platen Dragoons]] and [[Malachowski Hussars]]) to advance to the region between the Vistula and the Netze. This detachment was closely followed by 2 coys of [[Frei-Infanterie von Hordt]]. Gersdorff destroyed Russian magazines in Preussisch Friedland (present-day Debrzno) and Polnisch Krone (present-day Koronowo).
 +
 
 +
On March 3, Colonel Platen’s detachment marched by way of Wronke to Zirke (present-day Sieraków).
 +
 
 +
On March 4
 +
*Prussians
 +
**Wobersnow left Posen, where there was not enough forage for his cavalry, and marched to Polnisch Lissa.
 +
**Colonel Platen’s detachment reached Birnbaum.
 +
 
 +
On March 5, Colonel Platen’s detachment reached Meseritz. All along its way it had destroyed provisions of flour and wheat.
 +
 
 +
On March 6
 +
*Prussians
 +
**Wobersnow decided to turn back because the way beyond Posen was through a very difficult terrain. He marched towards Glogau. On his way, Wobersnow was harassed by Russian light troops under the command of Colonel Dalke.
 +
**Colonel Platen was ordered to return to Schwiebus (present-day Świebodzin).
 +
**Pannwitz’s detachment reached Ratibor (present-day Racibórz) with its prisoners.
  
On February 24, Wobersnow crossed the Oder and entered into Poland where he camped near Polnisch Lissa (present-day Leszno) and Reisen (present-day Rydzyna), about 50 km north-east of Glogau. His mission was to overturn the Russian provision operations there. In particular, he had to look for prince Aleksander Józef Sułkowski who was gathering food in expectation of the Russian advent. In fact, Sułkowski had formally declared war to Prussia.  
+
On March 8, Colonel Platen sent the [[Zieten Hussars]] back from Schwiebus to Glogau. He then took up his winter-quarters in Sagan (present-day Zagan) with the [[Stechow Dragoons|Jung-Platen Dragoons]].
  
The same day, Wobersnow surrounded the town of Polnisch Lissa and captured Sułkowski's considerable stock of Russian supplies, his little force of about 100 Poles (Sułkowski's personal guard), 15 small guns (from 1-pdrs to 3-pdrs) and Sułkowski himself. The Polish troops were compelled to take Prussian service (scattered among garrison regiments). Furthermore, Wobersnow issued a decree to recruit volunteers for the Prussian army. In fact, village peoples were forcefully incorporated into his corps. Sułkowski's wife was asked for a ransom of 30,000 thalers. Wobersnow then marched on Posen (present-day Poznań).
+
On March 11, Wobersnow’s detachment reached Fraustadt.
  
On February 28, Wobersnow arrived at Posen, coming from Kosten (present-day Kościan) and Stenschewo (present-day Steszew). He destroyed the Russian magazine there and ransomed Jews who were required to pay 2,000 ducats. Wobersnow took 14 hostages till they paid the remaining 676 ducats.
+
On March 12, Wobersnow’s detachment reached Glogau.
  
On March 2, Wobersnow detached colonel Platen at the head of [[Langermann Dragoons|Alt Platen Dragoons]] along the Warthe river (present-day Warta) to burn additional supplies in small Russian magazines in Obersitzko (present-day Obrzycko), Wronke (present-day Wronki), Pinne (present-day Pniewy), Birnbaum (present-day Kamionna) and Meseritz (present-day Międzyrzecz).
+
On March 13 Wobersnow sent back his troops to their winter-quarters. Only 500 men of the [[Zieten Hussars]] under Major von Reitzenstein remained on the Polish border near Glogau to observe the Russian army.
  
On March 4, Wobersnow left Posen and marched back home. On his way, he was harassed by Russian light troops under the command of colonel Dalke. During this incursion, Wobersnow's forces had destroyed provisions which would have supplied 50,000 men for 3 months.
+
Overall, Prussian incursions in Poland had deprived the Russians of several magazines and had bought time for Frederick to momentarily turn against his other opponents.
  
N.B.: prince Sułkowski was freed on June 5 1759 by [[Frederick II]] personal order.
+
N.B.: Prince Sułkowski was freed on June 5, 1759 by [[Frederick II]] personal order.
  
 
===Incursion in Bohemia against Austrian magazines===
 
===Incursion in Bohemia against Austrian magazines===
Line 238: Line 286:
 
*Anonymous, ''A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760'', London, 1761, pp. 365-366
 
*Anonymous, ''A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760'', London, 1761, pp. 365-366
 
*Carlyle, T., ''History of Friedrich II of Prussia'', Vol. 19  
 
*Carlyle, T., ''History of Friedrich II of Prussia'', Vol. 19  
*Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: ''Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen'', Part 3 ''Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763'', Vol. 9 ''Bergen'', Berlin, 1911, pp. 54-55, 88, 99, 103-115
+
*Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: ''Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen'', Part 3 ''Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763'', Vol. 9 ''Bergen'', Berlin, 1911, pp. 54-55, 88, 99, 103-115, 118-122
 
*Hotham, ''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, p. 75-80
 
*Hotham, ''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, p. 75-80
 
*Jomini, baron de, ''Traité des grandes opérations militaires'', Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, p. 70
 
*Jomini, baron de, ''Traité des grandes opérations militaires'', Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, p. 70

Revision as of 12:39, 16 January 2020

Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1759 - Prussian incursions behind enemy lines

The campaign lasted from February to May 1759

Description

Frederick II spent the winter of 1758-59 in Breslau (present-day Wroclaw). During the previous campaigns, he had lost a large part of his veterans. The quality of his army was now deteriorating through the adjunct of new levies and recruits. To compensate for this, he decided to improve his artillery.

For the campaign of 1759, Frederick considered that the superiority of his enemies would probably reduced him to the defence of his own kingdom.

From February onwards, several incursions were launched against French, Imperial, Austrian and Russian magazines to cripple their future operations.

Incursion in Thuringia against the Reichsarmee

At the beginning of January, 4 Austrian infantry rgts (Botta, Harrach, Hildburghausen and Thürheim) and the Bretlach Cuirassiers were sent from Bohemia to Franconia under FML Count d’Arberg to support the Reichsarmee.

On January 11, the contingent of the Circle of the Upper Rhine arrived at Erfurt to reinforce the garrison (1 bn of Kurmainz Infantry and 1 garrison bn of Gaisruck Infantry). Saalfeld was also occupied by a few bns and a number of horse to protect the line of communication between Erfurt and Franconia.

By January 13, the Reichsarmee and its Austrian auxiliaries had advanced into Thuringia and Franconia, and reached Erfurt. This army then extended its positions into the duchies of Saxe-Eisenach, Saxe-Coburg, Saxe-Gotha and the district of Fulda.

Towards the end of January, some Allied troops were transferred from Westphalia to Hesse to support Ysenburg’s Corps:

At the end of January, another Austrian corps was sent to support the Reichsarmee in Franconia. This corps consisted of 5 infantry rgts (Jung-Colloredo, Gyulay, Marschall, Salm, [[Blau Würzburg Infantry|Blau Würzburg), 5 cavalry rgts (Alt-Modena Cuirassiers, Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers, Liechtenstein Dragoons, Prinz Savoyen Dragoons, Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld Dragoons), 4 hussar rgts (Baranyay, Hadik, Splényi, Szechényi) and approx. 2,000 Grenzer light troops.

At the beginning of February

  • Austrians
    • General d'Arberg, at the head of an Austro-Imperial corps of 12,000 men, entered into the country of Hesse and seized the bailiwicks of Schmalkalden, Vacha, Friedewald and Landeck, and the Principality of Hersfeld, taking post between the Fulda and the Werra. The right wing of the Reichsarmee was now at Hof and Asch (present-day Aš in Bohemia) and its left, reinforced by an Austrian corps, in Fulda country from Meiningen to Vacha.
  • French
  • Prussians
    • Frederick had a meeting with Prince Heinrich where he instructed him to advance against Gotha and Erfurt, to drive the enemy out of these towns and to seize their magazines. Prince Ysenburg was ordered to support this offensive from Hesse. However, Prince Heinrich was reluctant to take the offensive. Nevertheless, Frederick maintained his orders and joint operations with Ferdinand’s Allied Army were planned for February 27 or 28. By that date, Prince Heinrich should have sent a strong corps forward to Naumburg, from there it would take the shortest road to march on Erfurt. Meanwhile, Aschersleben’s detachment (600 horse) would advance from the region north of Langensalza by way of Gotha to the vicinity south of Erfurt. During these movements, Prince Ysenburg would advance from the west on Hersfeld and Vacha. Prince Heinrich’s detached corps would then return to its quarters during the first week of March.

Prince Ysenburg had a meeting with the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick near Kassel to decide on the Allied plan. They sent light troops towards Hersfeld and another detachment to Allendorf on the Werra to observe the movements of the French in these areas. The Allies threw bridges on the Fulda above Kassel.

In the first days of February, Prince Heinrich detached Major-General von Aschersleben with 430 horse (100 men from Horn Cuirassiers, 100 men from the Leibregiment zu Pferde, 100 men from Markgraf Friedrich Cuirassiers, 100 men from the Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers and 30 men from Szekely Hussars) from his winter-quarters in Saxony (Merseburg, Naumburg, Gera, Greiz and Plauen) to raise contribution of money and provisions in Thuringia.

The Reichsarmee had its winter-quarters south of the Thuringian Forest with its first line extending from Asch by way of Adorf, Hof, Eisfeld and Suhl up to Schmalkalden and from there, along the east bank of the Rhön, to Lower Franconia. The quarters extended backwards into the Upper Palatinate and to a line going from Nuremberg to Rothenburg an der Tauber.

Aschersleben’s expedition, which reached the region south of Langensalza, caused much worries to the commander of the Reichsarmee. The latter thought that Prince Heinrich and Duke Ferdinand had undertaken a much more important offensive.

D’Arberg’s Austrian Corps, which was marching towards the left wing of the Reichsarmee took position in the area between the Hörsel, Werra and Fulda, securing a line extending from Wanfried, by way of Eschwege, and Hersfeld, to Fulda. It soon established contact with French light troops deployed in outposts between Schültern, Ulrichstein and Marburg. A small number of Austrian hussars were sent to Saalfeld and Erfurt because the Reichsarmee had no light troops to reconnoitre the enemy positions.

Behind Arberg’s positions, there was a smaller corps (4 bns and a few sqns) under FML Baron von Kolb deployed in the area of Schalkau, Wasungen, Meiningen and Ostheim. Further north, Thürheim Infantry was posted in Arnstadt, Ilmenau and Frauenwald to support the troops occupying Saalfeld and Erfurt. The 5 sqns of the Palatine Kurfürstin Leib-Dragoner observed the movements of Aschersleben’s Prussian Corps between Erfurt and Gotha. A battalion of Münster was sent to Eisenach. The quarters of the rest of the Reichsarmee were established south of these positions. The defensive works of Erfurt were improved and work on a new magazine started.

When he was informed of the advance of an Austro-Imperial force, General von Aschersleben retired from the region of Langensalza and took new positions on the north bank of the Unstrut, leaving only Major von Kalben behind with a few horse to observe the enemy and to collect the 40,000 Thalers that the district of Thuringia had to contribute.

On February 16, observing that the Austro-Imperial army was fortifying Erfurt, Prince Heinrich decided to send a detachment of his army in Saxony under Major-General Friedrich Wilhelm Erhard von Knobloch against them. Duke Ferdinand would also contribute 4,000 men to these joint operations.

On February 17, the 2 sqns of Ruesch Hussars sent from Westphalia arrived at Ysenburg’s camp in Hesse. He immediately sent them towards Vacha to observe the movements of Arberg’s Corps.

On February 24, a Prussian corps of 7 bns (Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck, Grenadier Battalion Schwartz, Bülow Fusiliers, Finck Infantry, Freibataillon Wunsch), 600 horse (330 men from Horn Cuirassiers and 300 men from Meinicke Dragoons), 5 hussar sqns (Szekely Hussars) and 8 heavy artillery pieces (4 x 12-pdr guns, 4 x howitzers) belonging to Prince Heinrich’s Army began to assemble in the vicinity of Naumburg. This corps was placed under the command of Major-General von Knobloch.

At that time, the garrison of the Petersberg, the citadel of Erfurt, consisted of 1 bn of Kurmainz Infantry and 2 Austrian infantry coys while there were 1,500 men of the Reichsarmee under General Count Guasco in the city of Erfurt. An important magazine had also been established in the city. Furthermore, the towns of Blankenhain, Kranichfeld, Arnstadt and Ohrdruf were each occupied by 1 bn. The rest of the Reichsarmee was quartered behind these lines and also occupied Gotha and Eisenach.

On February 25, Lieutenant-Colonel von Kleist advanced with Knobloch’s vanguard (Freibataillon Wunsch, 300 men from Meinicke Dragoons and the Szekely Hussars) from Kösen to Auerstedt.

On February 26

  • Prussians
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Kleist reached Buttelstädt with his vanguard.
    • The rest of Knobloch’s Corps followed, marching in two columns from Naumburg to Buttstädt and Auerstedt.
    • Major-General von Aschersleben advanced to Langensalza as instructed by Prince Heinrich.

On February 27

  • Prussians
    • Knobloch’s Corps reached Neumark and Buttelstädt.
    • The infantry of the vanguard reached Kerpsleben and the cavalry of the vanguard continued its advance on Erfurt. Lieutenant-Colonel von Kleist attacked a cavalry outpost at Gispersleben, taking 3 officers and 54 men prisoners.
    • Additionally, 3 other Prussian columns under the command of Prince Heinrich were ready to operate in Hesse and on the Main.
  • Allies
    • Duke Ferdinand met the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, the Prince Ysenburg and Major-General von Urff at Wilhelmsthal, 11 km north of Kassel, to plan the offensive in Thuringia. They should advance in three columns from Homberg, Melsungen and Hundelshausen on Hersfeld, Bebra and Treffurt.
  • Austro-Imperials
    • Around noon, a cannon shot was fired from the walls of Erfurt to signal to the surprised garrison that the Prussians were approaching. Until then, Guasco had not heard anything about the advance of a Prussian corps. He was probably also misinformed about the strength of the Prussians because he immediately agreed to surrender when he was summoned. The garrison obtained free withdrawal with its artillery and baggage. The Citadel of the Petersberg would remain occupied by Gaisruck Infantry but would be declared neutral.
    • The Austro-Imperials evacuated Gotha.

On February 28

  • Prussians
    • Knobloch sent the Grenadier Battalion Schwartz, the Meinicke Dragoons and the Szekely Hussars into Erfurt. The rest of Knobloch’s Corps took up cantonment in the villages east of the city. Knobloch raised a heavy contribution from Erfurt and from the clergy.
    • Knobloch then sent the Szekely Hussars forward under Lieutenant-Colonel Kleist (probably Friedrich Wilhelm Gottfried Arend von Kleist) along with the Meinicke Dragoons and 100 men from Horn Cuirassiers.
    • Aschesleben’s detachment reached Hochheim, to the southwest of Erfurt. The advanced elements of his detachment secured his positions against the Austro-Imperial troops occupying Ohrdurf and Arnstadt.
    • Prince Heinrich personally arrived at Naumburg.
  • Allies
    • The main Allied column concentrated near Bebra.
  • Austro-Imperials

When Broglie heard of the advance of the Allies into Thuringia, he sent the Chasseurs de Fischer forward from Schlüchtern and Freien-Steinau to reconnoitre the region of Fulda. Furthermore, 3 dragoon rgts followed the Chasseurs de Fischer while 2 bns and 1 cavalry rgt advanced from Hanau in the Kinzig Valley to support these troops.

On March 1

  • Allies
    • The main column marched from Bebra towards Friedewald where, in the evening, it surprised a small Austrian detachment and captured part of it after a brief combat while the other part managed to retire to the village of Motzfeld.
    • The southern Allied column marched from Homberg towards Hersfeld where an Austrian detachment just had time to evacuate the town.
  • Austro-Imperials
    • D’Arberg assembled the troops retiring from his outposts near Vacha.

On March 2

  • Allies
    • General von Urff advanced by way of Friedewald to Schenklengsfeld, followed by Freytag’s column. However, the enemy managed to escape, although after suffering some losses.
  • Prussians
    • Major-General von Aschersleben with his detachment (600 horse), Freibataillon Wunsch and 100 hussars advanced on Arnstadt which had been occupied by the Austrian Thürheim Infantry. However, this rgt had already retired through Ilmenau and covered the retreat of the 3 bns which had just evacuated Erfurt and were retiring by way of Schleusingen and Eisfeld. When the Prussian hussars and the jägers of Freibataillon Wunsch reached Ilmenau they engaged 1 sqn of enemy hussars and drove it back.
    • Lieutenant-Colonel von Kleist and his hussars attacked Eisenach which was defended by Elverfeldt Infantry, taking many prisoners. Kleist had obtained Prince Heinrich’s authorization to advance as far as Fulda,
    • Another Prussian detachment marched towards Schmalkalden and Vacha.
  • Austro-Imperials
    • D'Arberg was forced to retire from the heights of Vacha to Dermbach.

On March 3

  • Allies
    • Urff’s and Freytag’s columns retired to Hersfeld when reports arrived that French troops were threatening their right flank. Only small infantry detachments with a few jägers and hussars were left at Friedewald.
  • Prussians
    • A party of Szekely Hussars established communication with Allied troops belonging to Major-General von Urff’s Corps while Kleist advanced with the Meinicke Dragoons from Eisenach by way of Vacha towards Hünfeld. The 100 men of Horn Cuirassiers followed at a day’s march.
    • Knobloch sent 1 bn to Kranichfeld to screen his corps from enemy troops posted at Saalfeld. He had already sent I./Finck Infantry from Erfurt to Gotha to support Kleist’s detachment which was advancing on Eisenach.
    • Freibataillon Wunsch (600 men, 50 jägers and 4 artillery pieces) marched from Arnstadt to Ilmenau where Lieutenant-Colonel von Wunsch learned that the enemy had retired to Frauenwald and had erected a barrier on the road south of Ilmenau.
    • Prince Heinrich personally left Naumburg and returned to Dresden.
  • Austro-Imperials
    • D’Arberg retired to Kalten-Nordheim.
    • Kolb, who previously occupied Eisenach, retired to Meiningen.

On March 4

  • Prussians
    • Freibataillon Wunsch and the accompanying hussars advanced against the barrier which was defended by 3 coys and 2 artillery pieces. Wunsch drove back the defenders and took a number of prisoners and 1 artillery piece. The Austrians retired southwards by way of Frauenwald and then northeastward to Camburg in Franconia.
    • Aschersleben’s cavalry detachment reconnoitred in the direction of Eisenach, Meiningen and Saalfeld.
    • A party of Szekely Hussars established communication with Allied troops belonging to Major-General von Urff’s Corps while the main body of Kleist’s detachment reached Hünfeld.
  • Austro-Imperials
    • D’Arberg retired to Meiningen where he effected a junction with Kolb’s detachment. Arberg also asked Broglie for support. However, the latter, realizing that the Allies did not plan extensive operations, rejected this request. He rather proposed combined operations with the Reichsarmee against Hesse.

On March 5

  • Prussians
    • Major von Roëll with 150 hussars belonging to Kleist’s detachment surprised the town of Fulda and raised contributions.
    • Too weak to pursue the enemy farther, Freibataillon Wunsch returned to Arnstadt.

On March 6

  • Prussians
    • In the morning, Major von Roëll and his hussars retired from Fulda after skirmishing with the Chasseurs de Fischer. They marched to Hünfeld where they joined the rest of Kleist’s detachment.
    • Since Kleist planned to remain on the Fulda until March 7 before returning to Erfurt, Prince Ysenburg, at his request, temporarily left his light troops, 2 bns and 400 horse belonging to Urff’s Corps in Hersfeld to support him. Meanwhile the rest of Ysenburg’s detachment returned to its winter-quarters.

On March 7

  • Prussians
    • Kleist’s detachment retired from Hünfeld by way of Gotha and marched towards Erfurt.
    • I./Finck Infantry retired from Gotha and marched towards Erfurt.

On March 9

  • Allies
    • Urff’s Corps reached its old winter-quarters near Fritzlar. Only 50 jägers and hussars had been left behind in Hersfeld.
  • Prussians
    • Knobloch’s Corps began to evacuate Erfurt and to march back towards Saxony.

These manoeuvres had led the Austro-Imperials to entirely abandon Hesse and to retire to Meiningen in the country of Bamberg.

On March 10, Kleist’s detachment reached Erfurt, where it was joined by Freibataillon Wunsch which was retiring from Gotha.

On March 12, the Austro-Imperial army was advancing anew towards Hesse. It had left a strong body near Erfurt to observe the Prussian army of Prince Heinrich. FML Count d’Arberg at the head of 4,000 men captured Vacha, occupied by Hessian troops. Afterwards, Colonel Baron Vécsey marched towards Hersfeld with an Austrian detachment.

On March 13, Knobloch’s Corps arrived at Naumburg from where the troops returned to their winter-quarters. Freibataillon Wunsch and the Szekely Hussars were posted on the Saale and established outposts between Naumburg and Dornburg.

On March 15 in the morning, Vécsey's detachment arrived in front of Hersfeld. The Hessian garrison retreated to Kassel but was intercepted by Vécsey's cavalry near Fulda and virtually annihilated. In this affair, the Hessians lost their 4 guns and 35 men taken prisoners. Vécsey also captured the nearby Castle of Friedewald.

Thus, the Allies had been forced to retire in front of superior Austro-Imperial forces who re-occupied Schmalkalden, Saltzungen, Vacha and the Principality of Hersfeld. Another body of Austro-Imperials under Field-Marshal Johann Baptist Count Serbelloni advanced to the Werra. The Reichsarmee was now deployed with its left wing between the Werra and the Ulster with advanced posts at Vacha and Tann. Its right wing occupied Erfurt, Ilmenau, Frauenwald, Hof, Asch, the neighbourings of Kulmbach and Kronach. The reserve of the Reichsarmee was behind the Main River towards Lichtenfels and Schweinfurt.

On March 22 in the morning, Ferdinand of Brunswick set out from Münster and marched to Hesse.

On March 24, Ferdinand drove back Austro-Imperial troops posted near Kassel, and then marched to Meiningen.

On March 26, Ferdinand encamped at Rotenburg on the Fulda. The same day, Major-General Knobloch, at the head of a Prussian detachment, dislodged an Imperial detachment from Saalfeld.

On March 27, Ferdinand advanced to Hersfeld where his vanguard surprised about 100 enemies while the Austro-Imperial troops retreated everywhere. Ferdinand then marched to Fulda thus cutting off communications between the French and Austro-Imperial armies.

On March 28, a Prussian detachment under the command of General Lindstädt forced an Imperial detachment from Hof.

On March 31, near Mellrichstadt, the Hereditary Prince with 2 sqns of Ruesch Hussars defeated and dispersed the Hohenzollern Cuirassiers, capturing 55 of them. The hussars then turned their attention towards an isolated battalion of Blau Würzburg Infantry, capturing 130 of them and cutting the rest to pieces.

On April 1, the Hereditary Prince marched to Meiningen with 2 grenadier battalions and some light troops, and captured the garrison (2 bns: Kurköln Leibregiment and Elverfeldt Infantry) and a considerable magazine. He then proceeded to Wasungen where he captured Nagel Infantry. Arberg, who marched to the relief of Wasungen with 1 bn and some grenadiers, arrived too late to save the place and was forced to retire precipitously. Colonel Stockhausen with 40 Hessian hussars and some Hanoverian Jägers lead by Lieutenant-Colonel von Schlotheim, attacked Prinz Savoyen Dragoons and Bretlach Cuirassiers posted near Tann. At the moment of the attack, Prinz Savoyen Dragoons were attending mass. Several dragoons were killed and the Allies captures 4 flags, including 2 standards of Prinz Savoyen Dragoons. In the meantime, Bretlach Cuirassiers rallied and attacked the Allies, driving them back.

The Austro-Imperial army retreated towards Bamberg, closely followed by the Allies beyond Suhl and Schleusingen.

On April 2, Arberg's Corps marched to Schmalkalden and effected a junction with FML Schallenberg's cavalry (Prinz Savoyen Dragoons, Bretlach Cuirassiers and Szechényi Hussars) at Schwallungen. Count Arberg then proceeded to Eisfeld and Coburg while Count Schallenberg with his cavalry took post at Königshofen an der Saale. They then remained in these positions until end of April.

During this incursion, the Hereditary Prince had made more than 2,000 prisoners.

Incursion in Poland against Russian magazines

During the winter of 1758-59, the Russians had established important magazines at Posen (present-day Poznań) in Poland for their planned campaigns in Brandenburg and in Silesia. If these weakly garrisoned magazines were to be annihilated, it would postpone the opening of the campaign until new provisions could be assembled, an operation that would require some time in such a poor country with its insufficient road network. Such a delay would leave Frederick free to move unhindered against his other opponents for a few months.

Frederick was also informed that the Austrians and Russians had established important magazines in the vicinity of Krakau (present-day Kraków); and that provisions were assembled at Warsaw and other Polish cities.

On January 31, Frederick instructed Major-General Platen, commanding in Farther Pomerania, to destroy other Russian provision magazines established on the Netze (present-day Noteć River) or near that river. These magazines were only defended by weak garrisons.

Around mid-February, Frederick instructed Major-General Moritz Franz Kasimir von Wobersnow, his general-adjutant, to advance on Posen by way of Polnisch Lissa (present-day Leszno), and to destroy the Russian magazines established there.

On February 14, Frederick informed Major-General Platen of a planned incursion, which would be led by Major-General Wobersnow, against Russian magazines in Posen, instructing Platen to make a diversion to attract the attention of the Russians.

On February 15, General Platen reached Stolp (present-day Slupsk) with the Alt Platen Dragoons.

By February 21, Wobersnow had assembled 7 bns and 25 sqns and 12 heavy artillery pieces at Glogau (present-day Głogów) for his incursion in Poland. More precisely, his force consisted of:

On February 22, Frederick detached Major Baron Pannwitz with 500 men from the Möhring Hussars under Major von Lossow to capture the supplies assembled in the vicinity of Krakau and to bring back as mush as he could to Cosel (present-day Kędzierzyn-Koźle) in Upper-Silesia and to destroy the rest. Pannwitz spread the rumour that he would be marching on Warsaw, followed by an important corps to effect a junction with another Prussian corps at Posen.

On February 23, Wobersnow set off from Glogau, crossed the Oder and entered into Poland, reaching Fraustadt (present-day Wschowa). His mission was to overturn the Russian provision operations in this country. In particular, he had to look for Prince Aleksander Józef Sułkowski who was gathering food in expectation of the Russian advent. In fact, Sułkowski had formally declared war to Prussia.

On February 24

  • Prussians
    • Wobersnow continued his march towards Polnisch Lissa with 4 bns and 10 sqns. He also detached Major-General von Braun with 3 bns and 15 sqns towards Reisen (present-day Rydzyna) to put Prince Sułkowski under arrest.
    • Wobersnow surrounded the town of Polnisch Lissa.
    • Braun captured Sułkowski's considerable stock of Russian supplies, his little force of about 100 Poles (Sułkowski's personal guard), 15 small guns (from 1-pdrs to 3-pdrs) and Sułkowski himself. The Polish troops were compelled to take Prussian service (scattered among garrison regiments). Furthermore, Wobersnow issued a decree to recruit volunteers for the Prussian army. In fact, village peoples were forcefully incorporated into his corps. Sułkowski's wife was asked for a ransom of 30,000 thalers. Wobersnow then marched on Posen.

On February 26, Braun effected a junction with Wobersnow’s main body near Kosten (present-day Kościan). Wobersnow then marched by way of Stenschewo (present-day Steszew) towards Posen.

On February 28, Wobersnow’s Corps reached Posen. The 500 Cossacks guarding the place withdrew northeastwards without opposing any resistance but also without destroying the large magazines. The Prussians captured huge provisions of groat, barley and flour (enough to supply a 50,000 men strong army for 45 days). Unable to bring these provisions back, Wobersnow had to destroy them. He also ransomed Jews who were required to pay 2,000 ducats. Wobersnow took 14 hostages till they paid the remaining 676 ducats.

Two proclamations written by King Frederick in Latin were then distributed throughout the country. The first proclaimed his friendship for the Republic of Poland, mentioning that the Prussians had entered into Poland only to hinder the preparations of the Russians for an attack on the Kingdom of Prussia; and that the population would not be molested. In the second proclamation, Frederick explained his reasons to put Prince Sułkowski under arrest.

At the end of February, Pannwitz’s detachment marched by way of Tarnowitz (present-day Tarnowskie Góry) towards Krakau. However, Pannwitz found no magazines in the region of Krakau. He retreated by way of Biala (present-day Biała Krakowska). On his way he engaged a small Russian detachment escorting an adjutant sent by Fermor to Vienna, capturing several documents.

On March 2

  • Prussians
    • Wobersnow detached Colonel von Platen (not to be confused with Major-General von Platen) with the Jung-Platen Dragoons and the Zieten Hussars downstream along the Warthe River (present-day Warta) to destroy additional supplies in small Russian magazines in Obersitzko (present-day Obrzycko), Wronke (present-day Wronki), Pinne (present-day Pniewy), Birnbaum (present-day Kamionna), Meseritz (present-day Międzyrzecz) and Schwerin (present-day Skwierzyna). Colonel von Platen marched by way of Samter (actual Szamotuly) to Obersitzko.
    • Major-General von Platen, informed that Wobersnow was at Posen, detached Colonel von Gersdorff with 400 horse (from Alt-Platen Dragoons and Malachowski Hussars) to advance to the region between the Vistula and the Netze. This detachment was closely followed by 2 coys of Frei-Infanterie von Hordt. Gersdorff destroyed Russian magazines in Preussisch Friedland (present-day Debrzno) and Polnisch Krone (present-day Koronowo).

On March 3, Colonel Platen’s detachment marched by way of Wronke to Zirke (present-day Sieraków).

On March 4

  • Prussians
    • Wobersnow left Posen, where there was not enough forage for his cavalry, and marched to Polnisch Lissa.
    • Colonel Platen’s detachment reached Birnbaum.

On March 5, Colonel Platen’s detachment reached Meseritz. All along its way it had destroyed provisions of flour and wheat.

On March 6

  • Prussians
    • Wobersnow decided to turn back because the way beyond Posen was through a very difficult terrain. He marched towards Glogau. On his way, Wobersnow was harassed by Russian light troops under the command of Colonel Dalke.
    • Colonel Platen was ordered to return to Schwiebus (present-day Świebodzin).
    • Pannwitz’s detachment reached Ratibor (present-day Racibórz) with its prisoners.

On March 8, Colonel Platen sent the Zieten Hussars back from Schwiebus to Glogau. He then took up his winter-quarters in Sagan (present-day Zagan) with the Jung-Platen Dragoons.

On March 11, Wobersnow’s detachment reached Fraustadt.

On March 12, Wobersnow’s detachment reached Glogau.

On March 13 Wobersnow sent back his troops to their winter-quarters. Only 500 men of the Zieten Hussars under Major von Reitzenstein remained on the Polish border near Glogau to observe the Russian army.

Overall, Prussian incursions in Poland had deprived the Russians of several magazines and had bought time for Frederick to momentarily turn against his other opponents.

N.B.: Prince Sułkowski was freed on June 5, 1759 by Frederick II personal order.

Incursion in Bohemia against Austrian magazines

Map of the manoeuvres during the Prussian incursion in Bohemia in April 1759.
 
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab
 
Courtesy of Tony Flores

In the night of March 25-26, an Austrian force of 8,000 men led by General Beck stealthily marched from Bohemia by two or more roads and completely encircled Grenadier Battalion 21/27 Diringshofen (some 1,000 under major Diringshofen) at Greiffenburg (unidentified location). The Prussian battalion had to surrender.

On April 14, Prince Heinrich of Prussia crossed the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) in two columns:

  1. Prince Heinrich's column: 13 bns, 20 sqns
  2. General Hülsen's column: 8 bns and 12 sqns

All this area of Bohemia was guarded by Gemmingen but his forces were too spread out.

On April 15, Prince Heinrich’s column entered into Bohemia at Peterswalde (present-day Petrovice) while Hülsen marched to Passberg (unidentified location). About 600 Grenzers and some Hungarian foot guarded a redoubt on an eminence beyond Peterswalde. Prince Heinrich’s vanguard divided into two bodies, one proceeded to Aussig (present-day Ústí nad Labem), the other to Töpplitz (present-day Teplice); forcing the defenders to abandon their position. The magazine of Aussig was destroyed and about 200 boats on the Elbe burnt. Meanwhile, Hülsen found the pass of Passberg strongly guarded by General Reinhard (I./Andlau Infantry, 1 battalion of Königsegg Infantry, about 1,000 grenzers and hussars for a total of about 2,800 men). Hülsen led is cavalry around the Austrian positions and attacked them on the rear while his infantry launched a frontal attack. He drove the Austrians from their entrenchments, capturing the general, 51 officers and 2,000 men along with 3 colours, 2 standards and 3 guns. The remnants of Reinhard's force retired to Trautenau (present-day Trutnov) where they joined Loudon.

On April 16, Prince Heinrich's vanguard returned to his column at Welmina (probably present-day Velemín). The magazines at Lobositz (present-day Lovosice), and Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice) were seized and the new bridge at Leitmeritz burnt.

Prince Heinrich then marched from Leitmeritz to Budin (present-day Budyně nad Ohří) where he destroyed another magazine. The flames accidentally set the town on fire and did some damage. Meanwhile, General Hülsen marched on Saatz (present-day Žatec) but the Austrians had burnt their magazines there before he arrived. The Prussian destroyed several other magazines at Komotau (present-day Chomutov), Luckowitz (unidentified location), Liboschowitz (present-day Libochovice), Worwitzow (unidentified location), Postelberg (present-day Postoloprty) and Brüx (present-day Most).

During these operations, field marshal Leopold count Daun was at Jermer (present-day Jaroměř). This raid considerably delayed his operations that summer.

On April 20, Prince Heinrich, having reached his objectives, ordered to retire with some 3,000 prisoners.

On April 23, Prince Heinrich's force was back to Saxony.

Incursion in Moravia against Austrian magazines

From April 16 to 20, Fouquet left Leobschutz (present-day Głubczyce) in Neisse (present-day Nysa) country and broke through into Moravia pushing the Austrians before him. However, he found the magazines empty or inaccessible. Thus, he returned to Leobschutz without result.

The Austrian general Deville hastily rushed through the Jagerndorf Hills (present-day Krnov) and pushed on Fouquet's position. Frederick II, who was in Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Góra), hastened over to Leobschutz with reinforcement.

On May 1, Deville swiftly retreated. Frederick managed only to cannonade him in the passes of Zuckmantel (present-day Zlaté Hory) and to cut off his rear-guard of grenzer light troops.

References

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. 365-366
  • Carlyle, T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Vol. 19
  • Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 9 Bergen, Berlin, 1911, pp. 54-55, 88, 99, 103-115, 118-122
  • Hotham, 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, p. 75-80
  • Jomini, baron de, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, p. 70
  • Gorani, Joseph: Mémoires, Paris: Gallimard, 1944, pp. 117-118
  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 356-363

Other sources for the incursion in Poland

Konopczyński, W., Polska w dobie wojny siedmioletniej, Kraków-Warszawa 1911

Schwarz, F., Die Provinz Posen als Schauplatz des Siebenjahrige krieges, Posen 1890

Wengen, F. von: Geschichte des k. k. österreichischen 13. Dragoner-Regimentes Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, Brandeis 1879