1760-08-15 - Battle of Liegnitz

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Battles >> 1760-08-15 - Battle of Liegnitz

Prussian Victory


In August 1760, Frederick's army opposed the Austro-Russian invasion of Silesia.

On August 14, a Russian army under the command of Count Piotr Semionovitch Saltykov crossed the Oder and encamped at Gross-Bresa (present-day Brzezina) on the road from Auras (present-day Uraz) to Lissa (present-day Wrocław-Leśnica). The same day, Frederick's camp extended from the village of Schimmelwitz (present-day Szymanowice), fronting the Katzbach River (present-day Kaczawa River) for about 3 km, north-eastward, to his headquarters in Liegnitz (present-day Legnica) suburb. He was surrounded by several Austrian corps. Field-marshal Count Daun was on his right and rearward, now within 4 to 8 km. FZM Baron Loudon was to his left and frontward, 7 or 8 km away, the Katzbach separating Frederick and him. FZM Count Lacy lay from Goldberg (present-day Złotoryja) north-eastward, to within 7 or 8 km rearward. Three Austrian armies totalling 90,000 men (not counting Chernichev and his 24,000 Russians) watched a Prussian army of 30,000 men. Frederick decided to reach Glogau (present-day Głogów). He rode with his generals through Liegnitz, across the Schwarzwasser, to the Pfaffendorf heights where he explained them his plan. They then returned to camp. At the end of the afternoon, an Austrian deserter warned the Prussians that an attack was planned for that night.

Daun's Orders

On August 14, after reconnoitring the passages over the Katzbach River and the Prussian camp west of Liegnitz, Daun gave his instruction for the attack.

  • After dark, the main army should march in four columns and cross the Katzbach west of Dohnau (present-day Dunino). Once on the other bank, these columns should march along the Katzbach and deploy in line west of Schimmelwitz and Grosnig (unidentified location) with their right wing anchored to the Katzbach, facing Liegnitz. At daybreak the main army would then attack Frederick's right wing.
  • Lacy should march from Goldberg, break through the outworks north of Gassendorf (present-day Goślinów) and turn the Prussian right wing.
  • Loudon should cross the Katzbach near the Furthmühle south of Bienowitz (present-day Bieniowice) and attack the left wing of the Prussian army.

The three attacks should be simultaneous. To fix Frederick's Army frontally, FML Baron Wolfersdorff with 8 bns and 2 cavalry rgts belonging to Loudon's Corps should occupy the heights of Hochkirch (present-day Kościelec). Meanwhile, Beck's Corps should take position on the heights near Dohnau while his Grenzer light troops would guard the crossing of the Katzbach. At daybreak, Wolfersdorff's detachment and Beck's Corps should advance in columns towards the Katzbach without engaging the Prussians. They were equally responsible to cover the retreat of the main army in case of defeat.

Throughout the night of August 14 to 15, the campfires of the Austrians should be maintained by a few men left behind for this purpose.

The baggage should be sent towards Triebelwitz (present-day Przybyłowice) and Malitsch (present-day Małuszów) at daybreak on August 15 and form a Wagenburg there.

Frederick's Orders

Frederick had already decided to lead his army across the Schwarzwasser during the night of August 14 to 15 and then to march towards Merschwitz (present-day Mierzowice) at daybreak. He ordered that, after the crossing, his left wing should march towards the Rehberg and his right wing towards the Galgenberg, north of Pfaffendorf.

Prelude to the Battle

On August 14 in the evening, the light troops of Major-General von Ried and Major-General Uihazy occupied the vicinity of Schimmelwitz and Rothkirch (present-day Czerwony Kościół).

At 8:00 p.m., Frederick's Army set off from its camp in several columns while peasants, hussars and drummers were left behind to keep the Prussian camp alive. The cavalry of the left wing marched through Liegnitz, where the streets had been covered with straw to dampen the noise. It crossed the Schwarzwasser at the Justmühle and waited for the rest of the columns to the north-east of Pfaffendorf The Reserve under Lieutenant-General Count Finckenstein and Colonel von Butzke, followed by the cavalry of the right wing, marched around the west side of the city of Liegnitz and used the newly established bridges near Töpferberg (unidentified location) to cross the Schwarzwasser. The Reserve then took position on the heights near Pfaffendorf, facing the Katzbach.

At 9:00 p.m., Frederick's infantry followed. The first line marched through the Goldberger suburb and marched by way of Pfaffendorf; the second line marched through the city of Liegnitz and then towards Töpferberg. For this march, the heavy batteries of the first line, with the exception of those of the Schenckendorff's Brigade, were temporarily assigned to the second line, since this column had the easiest route. Hussar patrols remained behind until all units had marched off.

Frederick set off from his headquarters in the Golberger suburb when his first line marched through it. The II./Prinz Ferdinand Infantry, which had been left behind in Liegnitz, closed all gates. The bridges near Töpferberg were broken down. The march of Frederik's Army took place in exemplary order and silence. The campfires of the Austrians shone through the dark night from across the Katzbach. Frederick considered that his initial line of deployment between the Galgenberg and the Rehberg would dangerously expose his right flank and decided to extend his right wing from the Galgenberg further towards Hummel (present-day Dobrzejów).

Around 9:30 p.m., Loudon's Corps (24,000 horse and foot, excluding Wolfersdorff's detachment) set off from its camp at Jeschkendorf (present-day Jaśkowice Legnickie) in three columns with orders to seize the heights of Pfaffendorf. He intended to attack the Prussian train and baggage at Töpferberg. The two lines marched east of the Kunitzer Lake towards the Furthmühle, south of Bienowitz. Loudon's Reserve, consisting of elite coys of all his cavalry and infantry rgts, had already advanced in the direction of Panten (present-day Pątnów Legnicki) as far as the Katzbach and had first pushed the Grün Loudon Grenadiers (2 bns) across the river.

On the right flank of Loudon's Corps, FML Nauendorf with the chevaulegers and hussars was charged to observe the road leading towards Steinau.

It was about 11:00 p.m., when Daun's Grenzer light troop discovered that Frederick's camp was now empty. The Austrians did not know where Frederick had repositioned his army. In fact, Frederick was on the march to Merschwitz on his way to Glogau to resupply his army.

Meanwhile, Lacy marched all night towards Waldau (present-day Ulesie) to attack the Prussian left wing, but he would discover the camp empty.

For the marching Prussian columns, the execution of Frederick's new orders was not easy in the prevailing darkness, especially as the second line, with its numerous heavy artillery, was making slow progress. To avoid confusion, the second line had to remain in column until the first line had completed its deployment, facing south-westwards. Then the second line began to pull through the first and deployed behind it. Finally, the Reserve should follow from the heights near Pfaffendorf. Once the first line had completed its deployment, the village of Panten was behind the left wing and Hummel was close in front of the right wing.

On August 15, at about 1:00 a.m., the whole Prussian army was safely across the Schwarzwasser.

The entire Prussian cavalry dismounted and deployed in three lines behind the left wing of the infantry:

The Prussian positions were secured by outposts (30 men detached from each regiment). Major von Hundt of the Zieten Hussars was detached to Bienowitz with 100 men to reconnoitre the vicinity of Pohlschildern (present-day Szczytniki nad Kaczawą). The Schenckendorff's Infantry Brigade, belonging to the left wing of the first line, was instructed to march at daybreak towards Pohlschildern with its heavy battery and to establish bridges on the nearby brook. Frederick planned to set off for Merschwitz at daybreak with his entire army.

Having made these arrangements, Frederick proceeded to the left wing of the first line, dismounted, and sat down by a small fire in front of the Grenadier Battalion Rathenow. General Margrave Karl was nearby by another campfire.

All seemed quiet in the Austrian camps, and yet for hours the Austrian columns had been in motion to encircle the small Prussian army.

As planned, the Grün Loudon Grenadiers took position in the gardens of Panten. They were to cover the river crossing in association with the Althann Dragoons, who, as the foremost part of the main body, crossed over at the Furthmühle and deployed at Bienowitz.

Loudon himself hurried ahead to Panten by way of Bienowitz. He had been informed that 2 Prussian hussar rgts and 1 free bn were posted on the heights near Pfaffendorf. He had to occupy these heights, for he intended to deploy his corps there.

As soon as his Reserve had crossed the Katzbach, Loudon set off from Panten.

Around 2:30 a.m., Loudon's Reserve had scarcely started marching when it bumped into the Zieten Hussars in thick fog, the latter gave way after a short skirmish. This encounter confirmed Loudon's information about the presence of Prussian troops on the heights near Pfaffendorf.

The sound of the skirmish was heard by the resting Prussian army. Soon afterwards, Major von Hundt returned to camp. Frederick was then taking a nap by a bivouac fire in front of the Grenadier Battalion Rathenow. Major Hundt came at full gallop, asking where the king was. Once he was brought in presence of Frederick, Major Hundt informed him that an important Austrian force was advancing from Bienowitz and Pohlschildern against the Prussian left wing. The sound of musket shots in the rear of the army confirmed the surprising news. The Austrians had already reached the outposts securing the positions of the Prussian cavalry within 400 paces from Frederick's bivouac.


Map of the battle of Liegnitz fought on August 15 1760.
Source: Die Schlachten und Hauptgefechte des Siebenjährigen Krieges by C. Decker from Prinz Henrich's collection
Map of the battlefield near Liegnitz around 4:00 a.m. on August 15 1760.
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume 12 by the German Grosser Generalstab
Copyright Tony Flores
Map of the battlefield near Liegnitz around 5:00 a.m. on August 15 1760..
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume 12 by the German Grosser Generalstab
Copyright Tony Flores

The battlefield was located on a terrain north of the Katzbach River (present-day Kaczawa River), downstream from Liegnitz. It was delimited to the west by the Schwarzwasser, a minor tributary of the Katzbach, which nevertheless constituted an important obstacle to movements because of its marshy banks. This small river could be crossed near its mouth at Pfaffendorf (present-day Piątnica), but also at the Justmühle and in the suburb of Töpferberg, where the river divided into several branches. This is the place where Frederick decided to establish several new bridges.

To the east of the Schwarzwasser the terrain sloped to a plateau with some larger elevations along its edge, of which the Galgenberg is the most important. This narrow plateau was delimited to the east by the villages of Schönborn (present-day Miłogostowice), Hummel and Forthaus Panten (present-day Pątnów Legnicki); to the south by the Katzbach River, to the north by road leading from Schönborn to Pohlschildern. The battle took place on this plateau.

In this section, north-west of Panten, stood the Rehberg (aka Wolfsberg) and a few small hills. From there the terrain sloped down north-eastwards to a small brook with marshy banks, which flowed into the Katzbach at Pohlschildern. To the east and south-east the plateau continues for a short distance, then it sloped downwards to marshlands on both sides of the Katzbach and towards a watercourse forming several ponds, which joined the afore-mentioned brook. East of these swamps and ponds the terrain rose again to the plateau between Bienowitz and Pohlschildern.

South-east of the Rehberg on the Katzbach was the village of Panten, whose narrow side faced the hill, and further below, separated from the river by marshy meadows, was the village of Bienowitz. There was a small passage on the Katzbach and its arm near Panten and a good bridge crossed the Katzbach at the Furthmühl near Bienowitz. From this village, a path ran in a north-westwards to Schönborn; another path westwards by way of Panten to Pfaffendorf; and still another path northwards by way of the Rehberg to Hummel.

The whole area was covered by numerous small and large bushes, which hindered the movement of close-ordered troops, but favoured the stealth advance of smaller detachments. In the summer of 1760, the Katzbach was quite low but, upstream and downstream from Liegnitz, it was still necessary to use the various bridges and passages to cross it.

From Waldau where it attained its maximum, the Schwarzwasser River formed an irregular horse-shoe with high ground to its northern side and Liegnitz and hollows to its southern. It then joined the Katzbach River flowing north towards the Oder.

Frederick had planted himself in order of battle on the northern horse-shoe shaped heights. The Prussian soldiers all slept under arm. Lieutenant-General Zieten commanded the right wing in the Schwarzwasser part of the line, Frederick led the left wing in the Katzbach part.

Description of Events

Loudon's Attack against the Prussian Left Wing

On August 15 soon after 2:30 a.m., Frederick, who had just been informed of the presence of an Austrian corps nearby, had only a few moments to issue his most urgent orders. He mounted his horse and ordered Schenckendorff's Brigade, which was posted on the left wing of the first line, to turn to the left, facing Bienowitz and advance against this village. Frederick also ordered him to deploy his heavy artillery on a nearby hill. The rest of the first line should march by its left to from a new line. By that time, the second line was still completing its deployment, only the Bernburg's Brigade, which was deployed on the extreme left wing, had already reached its assigned position behind the left wing of the first line.

Meanwhile, the Prussian cavalry had precipitously mounted. The Zieten Hussars and Krockow Dragoons barely had time to mount before the Austrian carabiniers and horse grenadiers of Loudon's Reserve emerged from the fog behind them. The 2 Prussian rgts counter-charged by squadrons.

Loudon had not the least expectation of Frederick's army and was speeding all he could with no vanguard to avoid alarming the Prussian baggage escort.

The isolated Prussian sqns soon had to give way in front of the compact mass of the Austrian cavalry. However, the 2 foremost sqns of Prinz Heinrich Cuirassiers, which Zieten had sent from the right wing of the first line of cavalry to support the outnumbered sqns, also intervened in the combat. They were driven back on the cuirassier rgts of the left wing, which barely had time to form. In this initial engagement, the grenadier coy of the Erzherzog Joseph Dragoons captured a standard belonging to the Krockow Dragoons.

While the Prussian hussars and dragoons retired through the intervals between their cuirassier rgts, the Seydlitz Cuirassiers, Leib Regiment and Markgraf Friedrich Cuirassiers charged the Austrian cavalry and threw them back in the direction of Bienowitz. The Austrian elite cavalry took refuge behind the Althann Dragoons , Anspach Cuirassiers and Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers, who formed the head of the column advancing from Bienowitz.

The cavalry combat continued in the forest and bush terrain, where cavalry formations were impossible to maintain. The Krockow Dragoons and Zieten Hussars, who had rallied, joined the fray. The combat swayed back and forth but the Prussians finally had the advantage.

This cavalry combat bought Frederick enough time to deploy his army and to make further arrangements. He had ordered Lieutenant-General von Zieten with the right wing of the army to prevent Daun's Army from crossing the Katzbach and the Schwarzwasser, while he himself would repel Loudon's attack with his left wing. The deployment of Schenckendorff's Brigade had taken place in perfect order under the protection of the Prinz Heinrich Cuirassiers. It was soon possible, although under the fire of the Austrian artillery, to bring the heavy battery (ten 12-pdr guns) into position on the Rehberg, as indicated by Frederick, covered by the Grenadier Battalion Rathenow on its left and the Grenadier Battalion Nimschöfsky on its right. The line was then extended to the right by the Alt-Braunschweig Infantry, and the II./Wedell Infantry. The Saldern's Brigade then took position next to Schenckendorff's Brigade, facing the Katzbach.

Once the line formed, the Prussian cuirassiers, who had covered the deployment, retired through the intervals.

Loudon's behaviour, on being hurled back with his cavalry, was magnificent. Rapidly evaluating the situation and judging that retreat would be impossible without ruin, he hastened instantly to form himself even though the ground was highly unfavourable. He had room only for a frontage of 5 bns (5,000 men). He planted several batteries and then launched an attack against the heights.

The Prussian cuirassiers had barely retired when Loudon led the grenadier bns of his Reserve to the attack. The Prussian heavy battery opened fire with volleys of grapeshots against the mass of Austrian grenadiers, who were now visible in the dim light of dawn. This battery soon received help from the heavy battery of the neighbouring brigade, which General von Saldern had planted in front of his left wing. These salvoes wreaked havoc in the Austrian ranks and prevented the attackers to form. This left time for the left wing to prepare itself to receive the Austrian assault.

Detail of a fresco depicting the battle of Liegnitz.
Source: Fresco of the Castle of Brezovica in Croatia, painted in 1775 at the request of FZM Josip Kazimír Count Drašković von Trakošćan
Credit: Mr. Mravlinčić and Mrs. Srdenoselec of the Castle of Trakošćan for their kind authorisation to reproduce details of this fresco
Copyright: Castle of Trakošćan

As soon as the attackers came within range, the Prussian infantry began to pour salvoes into their ranks, inflicting heavy losses to the attackers. Nevertheless, the Austrian grenadiers continued their advance until close to the Prussian line and charged repeatedly. The Alt-Braunschweig Infantry was badly pressed and General von Schenckendorff was severely wounded and had to be carried away.

The Prussian Grenadier Battalion Rathenow and Grenadier Battalion Nimschöfsky, along with Alt-Braunschweig Infantry, repulsed this initial assault. Meanwhile, Lieutenant-General von Bülow, who commanded the Prussian second line, detached Major-General Prince von Bernburg from his left wing with Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry and Prinz Ferdinand Infantry to deploy to the left of Schenckendorff's Brigade because the Austrians were threatening to turn his positions. Meanwhile, Prussian cavalry rgts deployed behind the infantry lines of their left wing with the exception of a dragoon rgt sent to cover the left flank.

During this time, the 4 bns of the Prussian Reserve, under Colonel von Butzke, arrived and took position in the second line of infantry behind Bernburg's rgts.

While his grenadiers were struggling with the foremost Prussian brigades, Loudon had ordered the columns arriving from Bienowitz to turn right and deploy themselves next to his grenadiers in order to encircle the Prussians from the north-east. However, 2 additional heavy batteries were established in front of Bernburg's rgts and opened on the Austrian columns. These columns were not expecting a Prussian attack. The column which was supposed to move through Panten halted in the village and occupied it without trying to advance farther.

Around 4:00 a.m., before Loudon's main body could intervene, his grenadiers had to face a Prussian counterattack. Alt-Braunschweig Infantry, led by Lieutenant-General Count Wied, advanced against the village of Panten. Its first attack drove back the already shaken Austrian bns of the left wing, which were pursued through the village and retreated across the Katzbach, abandoning several artillery pieces.

To the left of the Alt-Braunschweig Infantry, the Grenadier Battalion Rathenow and Grenadier Battalion Nimschöfsky advanced, followed by the Grenadier Battalion Falkenhayn. These Prussian bns drove the Austrians out of the wooded areas north of Panten and captured many cannon deployed to the north-east of the village.

At the extreme left of the Prussian first line, Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry was soon engaged, strongly supported by the fire of the heavy batteries. The Austrians awaited the attack in good order. As soon as the Prussians were within range they opened fire. Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry attacked at the point of the bayonet. Prinz Ferdinand Infantry attacked too and soon the entire Austrian first line broke and routed. The second line also retired after a brief engagement.

The Prussian cuirassiers then broke all remaining resistance.

Loudon managed to reform a few battalions of his central columns and renewed his attacks of the heights. However, it was impossible to deploy on a front of more than 5 bns in such a position. They came to contact with the Prussians, but being engaged piecemeal and drowned into the confused mass of the routing units, they were driven back. Their defeat was completed by the Prussian cavalry. Lieutenant-Colonel von Lölhöffel led the Seydlitz Cuirassiers around the routing Austrians and charged Toscana Infantry, Waldeck Infantry and Starhemberg Infantry, which were posted on the Austrian right wing, broke them up and captured 6 colours and 11 cannons. The Prussian cavalry also prevented Nauendorf's light corps, which was approaching the battlefield, from intervening.

The Austrians retired to Bienowitz. The 5 Prussian bns, which had been the most seriously engaged, were in no condition to pursue. Furthermore, a wide gap had appeared between the units of the Prussian left wing and it became urgent to re-establish order. The gap between Bernburg's Brigade and Schenckendorff's Brigade was filled by the I./Gabelentz Fusiliers and the Grenadier Battalion Falkenhayn. On the extreme left, the line was extended by Goltz Infantry and Grenadier Battalion Stechow. In the second line there were now only II./Gabelentz Fusiliers and Wied Fusiliers. To better cover the remaining gaps, the Prinz Heinrich Cuirassiers were deployed by squadron behind the infantry.

Once the Prussian left wing rearranged, it continued its advance in the direction of Bienowitz.

When Loudon realised that it was impossible to win this battle and that even a possible intervention by Daun could no longer prevent a defeat, he decided to recross the Katzbach River. To cover his retreating infantry, he established his reserve artillery under Colonel von Rouvroy west of Bienowitz. Meanwhile, the cavalry of the left wing (Kolowrat-Krakowski Dragoons, Schmerzing Cuirassiers, Prinz Albrecht Cuirassiers), which had marched at the end of each column, reached the battlefield. Loudon gave orders so that this cavalry would advance against the infantry of the Prussian left wing.

Meanwhile, this Prussian infantry had resumed its advance. Goltz Infantry and the left wing of Prinz Ferdinand Infantry had inclined to the left to move around the marshy terrain west of Bienowitz, and had become isolated from the rest of the Prussian left wing. The Grenadier Battalion Stechow, too eager to come to grip with the Austrians, has also gone too far and was now completely isolated.

At this moment, the Austrian cavalry came crashing into the ranks of the Grenadier Battalion Stechow, whose commander was severely wounded. The bn was broken and almost annihilated. Then the Austrian cavalry hit the exposed left flank of Prinz Ferdinand Infantry, continued its advance and attacked Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry. The Austrians captured ten colours. Their attack was finally halted by the fire of the bns farther to the right, which had turned to protect their flanks against the charging cavalrymen.

The Krockow Dragoons, who had now rallied, and a few sqns of Seydlitz Cuirassiers fell on the flank and rear of the Austrian cavalry and drove them back to Bienoweitz. The exhausted and disorganised Prussians did not pursue for long. Furthermore, Frederick did not want to separate his left wing from his right more than they were.

Loudon recrossed the Katzbach and deployed his corps near Heinersdorf (present-day Spalona), Klein-Schildern (present-day Szczytniki) and Kunitz (present-day Kunice).

Some combat momentarily resumed near Panten, where a platoon of the Alt-Braunschweig Infantry had been left during the advance of the Prussian left wing on Bienowitz. Furthermore, Saldern's Brigade was posted on the heights to the north-west of Panten, facing the Katzbach River to maintain communication between Zieten's wing and the left wing of the army. As some Austrian detachments entered Panten to retrieve the abandon Austrian artillery pieces, General von Saldern sent 2 divisions of the III./Garde under Major von Möllendorff and Captain von Rhodich to drive them out of the village, capturing a large number of artillery pieces. He then set fire to the village with his howitzers.

By 5:00 a.m., the engagement against Loudon was quite over.

Frederick did not dare to pursue Loudon because he wanted to spare the units of his left wing to eventually support his right where he expected a combined assault from Daun's and Lacy's corps.

Daun's Manoeuvres on the Prussian Right Wing

In the evening of August 14, as planned, Daun had left his camp in six columns, marching towards the Katzbach. However darkness greatly delayed the march of his main army. The fact that Daun ordered the right wing of cavalry and all the infantry of the main army to march by the right, even though the planned crossing points were to the west of the encampments of these troops, led to a lot of confusion.

At 11:00 p.m., Ried's light troops had passed the river to dislodge the Prussians from the village of Schimmelwitz which they found abandoned. In fact the whole Prussian camp had been abandoned. This crucial information was slow to reach Daun.

Around 3:00 a.m., Daun, who was spending the night in Klein-Scheinitz, was informed by General von Ried that the Prussian had left their camp. Daun ordered Ried, who was posted at Schimmelwitz, to follow the Prussian army with his Grenzer light troops. Meanwhile Daun, rode to a height to the north-east of Schimmelwitz from where he could see the abandoned Prussian camp and a few Prussian sqns on the height of Pfaffendorf. He then decided to march towards the Schwarzwasser with the Grenadier Corps and the cavalry of then right wing of his two lines.

On the Prussian right wing, Zieten was at the head of 43 sqns, with Stutterheim's Brigade and Zeuner's Brigade of the first line, which had taken position on the heights along the Schwarzwasser from Hummel to Bienowitz, thus facing en potence towards Liegnitz and Daun's positions and towards Panten and Pohlschildern and Loudon's positions. They were supported by the Syburg's Brigade in second line. Zieten established strong batteries enfilading the two roads coming from Liegnitz, expecting an attack from Daun in this area.

Around 4:00 a.m., Grenzer light troops tried to cross the Katzbach and Schwarzwasser near Liegnitz, harassed by the fire of the Prussian artillery posted on the Galgenberg. Lieutenant-General von Wedel advanced to the heights of Pfaffendorf with the Stutterheim's and Zeuner's brigades. Meanwhile, the Normann Dragoons and Czettritz Dragoons took position between Saldern's Brigade, which was posted to the north-west of Panten, and Zeuner's Brigade to maintain communication between the two wings of the Prussian army.

As Daun approached the Schwarzwasser, he could see the smoke of the artillery duel behind the heights east of the Schwarzwasser. The edge of the eastern plateau facing the river was occupied by Prussian troops who were exchanging fire with the Grenzer light troops of General von Ried. Daun thought that this was the rearguard of the Prussian army. There was now no more doubt that Frederick had attacked Loudon's isolated corps. However, no battle noise had been heard, because the wind was driving the sound in the opposite direction.

Daun ordered Beck to occupy Liegnitz with his corps. and Ried to support him. He also sent orders to FML Baron Wolfersdorff, who was posted on the heights of Hochkirch, to come to the support of Loudon's Corps.

Around 5:00 a.m., Daun's main army finally crossed the Katzbach River after much delays due to darkness and to the construction of bridges. It was too late to support Loudon. Daun's main army reached the heights between Weissenhof and Lindenbusch (present-day Lipce) and deployed in order of battle. There, Daun received a message from Loudon informing him that he had been attacked by superior forces and, after some initial successes, had been forced to retire to the other side of the Katzbach River.

From Zieten's positions, strong Austrian columns could be seen on the other side of the Schwarzwasser, advancing from the south-west in the direction of Liegnitz.

Daun's vanguard appeared behind Liegnitz. Daun saw the Prussian right wing drawn on the heights behind Pfaffendorf. However, to reach it, Daun's force would first have to pass the Schwarzwasser and to move through Liegnitz. The decision he was facing, as a result of this reversal of situation, was not easy. An attack across the the Schwarzwasser, which was surrounded by wide swamps, raised serious doubts. The crossings near Töpferberg and Pfaffendorf were directly under the fire of the Prussian artillery. Daun sent a messenger to Loudon to know more precisely about his positions. He then remained idle and waited.

Lacy's Corps had deployed on left wing of the main army. It had marched by way of Rothbrünning and Lobendau and reached Waldau at daybreak. Lacy deployed his corps on the heights between Lindenbusch and Waldau.

Similarly, Ried and Beck soon ceased their efforts to advance against the heights of Pfaffendorf, after some of their sqns, which had crossed the river at Pfaffendorf, were driven back by the Normann Dragoons, Czettritz Dragoons and Möhring Hussars.

Daun threw Ried's light troops into the town and its suburbs and sent about 30 sqns across the Schwarzwasser over the stone-bridge at the Töpferberg. Meanwhile, Daun instructed Lacy to follow the Schwarzwasser upstream and to cross it wherever he could find a convenient place. However, the Schwarzwasser proved amazingly boggy and not accessible on any point to heavy troops. Lacy could not manage to get across, except for 2 poor Hussar regiments, which managed to ford the Schwarzwasser near Rüstern (present-day Rzeszotary). and moved towards the slowly advancing Prussian train, which was covered by Syburg's Brigade facing Rüstern. The train began to form a Wagenburg to the south-east of Hummel. The baggage of Frederick's headquarters, accompanied by the British envoy Mitchell had been placed under the protection of the wing coy of the I./Garde. They retired to Kuchelberg north of Rüstern. Austrian hussars threatened this part of the convoy but Lieutenant von Prittwitz managed to contain them.

For some time, ineffective artillery fire was directed against the Prussian right wing from the heights on the west bank of the Schwarzwasser, but then the fighting died out there too.

Around 3:00 p.m., Field Marshal Daun sent the Grenadier Corps and the Reserve across the Katzbach to get closer to Loudon's Corps.

Around 4:00 p.m., Daun received confirmation that the Prussians were marching towards Parchwitz (present-day Prochowice). He retired to his old camp at Hochkirch with the main body of his army. Ried and Beck continued to occupy Liegnitz. Lacy remained near Waldau.


Frederick was very pleased by the conduct of his army and he promoted Zieten to general of cavalry on the battlefield. He immediately grasped the strategic implications of his victory. He did not have to fear an intervention by Daun and Lacy and set off towards Parchwitz by way of Bienowitz and Pohlschildern at the head of 30 sqns and the Schenckendorff's Brigade. The brigade of Saldern, Bernburg, and Butzke followed, under Margrave Karl. Finally, after the wounded had been tended, the right wing, under Zieten, began to march accompanied by the captured guns, and thousands of prisoners taken. Frederick crossed the Katzbach River near Parchwitz and established a camp on its right bank. Zieten arrived at the new camp around midnight with the right wing.

The losses according to Gaudi amounted to 6,000 men killed and wounded and 4,000 taken prisoners, along with 82 guns and 28 flags for the Austrians, and to 3,264 killed and wounded and 342 taken prisoners, along with 10 colours for the Prussians. Tempelhof gives 1,800 killed or wounded for the Prussians. The Austrian relation recognizes 3,791 killed and wounded, 2,140 prisoners, 68 guns and claims 10 guns and 6 colours taken. The Grosser Generalstab estimates the losses of the Prussians to 13 officers and 624 men killed; 72 officers and 2,462 men wounded; and 7 officers and 216 men missing. They also lost 10 colours and one standard. It also estimates the losses of the Austrians to 31 officers and 1,390 men killed; 6 generals, 166 officers and 2,204 men wounded; and 2 generals (Baron Biela and Count Gondrecourt), 86 officers and 4,646 men taken prisoners. They had also lost 23 colours, 80 artillery pieces and 45 ammunition wagons. According to Duffy: the Austrians had 3,767 men killed and wounded, and 4,731 taken prisoners or missing; the Prussians 3,172 men killed and wounded, 250 missing and prisoners, 10 colours and 1 standard.

The Prussians had engaged only their left wing. For his good conduct on the battlefield, the Anhalt-Bernburg Infantry was allowed to have its side-arms back.

Frederick could now effect a junction with the army of his brother.

Order of Battle

Austrian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: field-marshal Ernst Gideon baron Loudon

Korps Loudon: 42 Bns, 6 Gren. Coys, 4 Grenz Bns, 71 Sqns, 56 field guns, 24450 men, 8200 horses (other sources gives 20000 men and 4000 horses including the Reserve Korps: according to Loudon himself his forces actually engaged amounts at "scarcely 14000 men under arms"); (the other Austrian forces in the area were the 33900 men of Daun Hauptarmee, which arrived too late, the 18500 of Lacy Korps, and the 16000 of the Ried, Beck and Wolfersdorff detachements)

  • Reserve Corps under the command of Field-Marshal-Lieutenant Baron Müffling, 5,673 men and horses (9 bns. 11 carabiniers and horse grenadier coys)
    • Grün Loudon Grenadiers (2 bns)
    • Converged Grenadier Battalions (7 bns) from the infantry regiment belonging to Loudon's corps
    • Converged Carabiniers and Horse Grenadiers (11 coys) from the cavalry regiment belonging to Loudon's corps
  • Artillery
    • 98 x 3-pdr guns
    • 24 x 6-pdr guns
    • l8 x l2-pdr guns
    • l0 x 7-pdr howitzers

Prussian Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: King Frederick II

Summary: 11600 men, 4200 horse engaged with the King against Loudon; Zieten wing: 14300 men and horses.

Right wing under Lieutenant-General Hans Joachim von Zieten, 15 Bns, 43 sqns, 70 field guns.

Left Wing under Frederick II, 21 Bns, 35 sqns.


This article is essentially a compilation of 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. 12 Landeshut und Liegnitz, Berlin, 1913, pp. 199-216, Anlage 1
  • Carlyle, T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 20
  • Jomini, Baron de: Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, pp. 295-302

Other sources

Duffy, Christopher: By Force of Arms, Vol. II of The Austrian Army in the Seven Years War. The Emperor Press, 2008.

Engelmann, J. and G. Dorn: Die Schlachten Friederichs des Grossen. Podzun Pallas, 1986.

Grosser Generalstaff - Geschichte des siebenjährigen Krieges: In einer Reihe von Vorlesungen, mit ..., Vierter teil: die feldzug von 1760 , Berlin 1834.

Wikipedia - Battle of Liegnitz (1760)