1761 - French campaign in West Germany – French first attempt against Hanover

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The general situation after the Allied surprise attack against the French winter quarters in Hesse and the minor operations who took place before the opening of the campaign are described in our article Preliminary operations (April 20 to May 30, 1761).

The French manoeuvres to make a junction of their two armies, the battle of Vellinghausen and the stalemate which resulted after this battle are described in our article Campaign till the battle of Vellinghausen (June 1 to July 26, 1761).


Broglie marches eastwards through Westphalia

On July 27, the Duc de Broglie marched to Paderborn; the Prince de Soubise to Herdringen near Arnsberg with the rest of his army to cover Hessen; Prince Xavier at Nieheim; Closen at Lippspringe (present-day Bad Lippspringe); Stainville at Bevern and the vanguard to Neuhaus (probably Schloß Neuhaus). Meanwhile, an order arrived from the French Court instructing the generals to keep the armies united and to attack the Allies once more. The same day, Ferdinand of Brunswick abandoned his positions near Vellinghausen and marched southwards to Borgeln while the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick encamped at Schwefe with his vanguard at Ruhne to observe Soubise's movements. The same day, informed that the Allies were forming a camp on the heights of Ruhne, Soubise occupied the heights of Höingen facing Neheim with the Volontaires de Soubise.

On July 28, Soubise was still at Herdringen. The same day, Ferdinand marched to Erwitte. The Hereditary Prince marched to Ruhne, sending his vanguard forward to Wickede and, at 3:00 AM, launched an attack on Soubise's outposts at Fröndenberg. The engagement took place at Höingen where the Légion Britannique initially dislodged a French detachment before being obliged to fall back on the chapel of Höingen in front of reinforcements sent by the Prince de Condé. In his turn, the Légion Britannique was reinforced by troops sent by the Hereditary Prince from the village of Bremen. The French were driven back into the wood. The Baron de Wurmser then launched a new attack at the head of French light troops (including the Volontaires de Soubise) but was repulsed with heavy loss. By noon, the Allies had been forced to retire. They then abandoned their camp, leaving some cavalry and infantry at Bremen to cover their march and to support the Légion Britannique occupying Höingen. Meanwhile on the Upper Rhine, at 9:00 PM, Chabot marched from Steinheim towards Hameln. Prince Xavier sent a detachment under M. de Mortange towards Werl to cover Chabot's line of retreat. Meanwhile, de Muy was at Dringenberg; Closen at Ehrentrup; and Belzunce near Göttingen with 3,000 men. Broglie wrote to Soubise to ask him for an additional reinforcement of 10,000 men. Rochambeau at Westuffeln to cover the communication with Kassel, allowing a convoy to reach the city. The same day, Soubise, who had received fresh instructions from Versailles, wrote to Soubise to inform him that the court required the return of the 30,000 men that he had previously sent him as reinforcement.

Early on July 29, Chabot arrived on the height overlooking Hameln without meeting a single patrol on his way. Meanwhile, Broglie marched from Paderborn in 4 columns to Driburg (present-day Bad Driburg). His right division (as per a contemporary map this division probably consisted of Rouergue (2 bns), Aquitaine (2 bns), Picardie (4 bns), Navarre (4 bns), Auvergne (4 bns), Du Roi (4 bns), Lyonnais (2 bns), Vastan (2 bns), Bretagne (2 bns), Vaubécourt (2 bns), Bourgogne Brigade (6 sqns), Royal-Cravate Brigade (6 sqns), Le Roy Brigade (6 sqns), La Reine Brigade (6 sqns)) encamped while his left division continued up to Dringenberg where it took camp. M. de Stainville (10 bns of grenadiers, 2 dragoon rgts and Chamborant Hussards) marched from Neuenherse to Kleinenberg with his vanguard at Buke; M. de Chalus (2 bns, 4 sqns) to Blankenrode near Meerhof; the vanguard at Neuhaus; Closen at Erpentrup; Beauvau at Buke; Chalus at Ossendorf; and the Chasseurs de Monet to Lippspringe. De Muy extended his left towards Willebadessen. The same day, the main Allied army marched to Störmede near Geseke; Granby to Büren; and Luckner to Blomberg. Meanwhile, Spörcken passed the Lippe to make a junction with the main Allied army.

On July 30, the main Allied army marched in 4 columns and entrenched at Büren at the junction of the Alme and Aften. The Marquis de Granby took position at Haaren with the vanguard. The Allied forces thus separated the 2 French armies. The Hereditary Prince was still at Ruhne to observe Soubise's army. The same day in the evening, the Chasseurs de Monet were attacked near Lippspringe by Luckner. They resisted for a while in the hedges near Lippspringe before rallying back on the Légion Royale who forced Luckner to retire. Broglie encamped near Lichtenau with a detachment at Hamelsberg (maybe the Klüt hill) on the Weser, opposite Hameln. He then launched diversionary offensives on Hanover and Hameln. He also rejected Soubise's request for the return of the reinforcements. The French were also entrenching at Höxter. Meanwhile, Belzunce with 6,000 men marched to Göttingen where a bakery had been established and magazines were forming. Colonel Freytag, who had conducted successful Allied incursions into Hesse was forced to retire to Osterode in the Harz. Broglie instructed Prince Xavier to observe the motions of General Luckner, posted at Blomberg. Furthermore, a corps (18 bns, 18 sqns) under the command of Stainville took post between Vreken (most probably Wrexen) and Heddinghausen. The Allied corps under Generals Spörcken and Wangenheim made a junction with the main Allied army while Allied light troops made themselves masters of Paderborn. Meanwhile the Lower Rhine, Soubise was still at Herdringen. He detached M. de Conflans to harass the retiring Allies. Conflans took some equipages and prisoners.

On July 31, M. de Rochambeau (Boccard infantry brigade and Royal Pologne cavalry brigade) marched to the defile of Stadtberg (present-day Marsberg on the Diemel river). Meanwhile, Broglie ordered de Muy to march from Dringenberg to Willebadessen; M. d'Espiez to take position between Borlinghausen and Bonenburg; the Duc the Laval to replace de Muy at Dringenberg with 2 infantry brigades; Stainville to take position between Nörde and Ossendorf; and the Légion Royale to hold Kleinenberg. Broglie then personally went to Borlinghausen, leaving M. de Guerchy to command the camp at Driburg.

On August 1, Ferdinand wanting to threaten French communication with Hesse, tried to manoeuvre to surprise Stainville and Rochambeau. Accordingly, Ferdinand retired from Geseke and took position with his right at Rüthen and his left on the road to Lippstadt. Meanwhile, the Hereditary Prince remained on the heights of the Ruhr; General Luckner in the area of Stromberg and Kielmannsegg near Bielefeld. The same day, Broglie moved his headquarters to Willebadessen. His right remained at Nieheim; Rochambeau marched to Stadtberg with 6 bns and 6 sqns; and Stainville marched to Helminghausen. Broglie renewed his request to Soubise to send him a reinforcement of 10,000 men to cover Kassel and his communications with Giessen from where he got his provisions.

On August 3, Soubise planned to make a diversion on Münster. He sent his vanguard to Iserlohn to secure the passage of the Ruhr.

Soubise advances on Münster

On August 4 at daybreak, M. de Voyer, supported by 8 bns of Grenadiers Royaux and 2 infantry brigades, passed the Ruhr with light troops near Schwerte. Then, Soubise marched from Herdringen, passed the Ruhr and encamped at Schwerte at 8:00 PM. The same day, Ferdinand sent Wutginau and Wangenheim through the woods of Bredelar for an attack on Rochambeau left flank. Meanwhile, Waldegrave marched from Haaren to Meerhof, being replaced at Haaren by Spörcken's corps. Granby, who had been reinforced, marched from the heights of Dalheim to contain Stainville's corps at Kleinenberg. In the evening, Ferdinand personally went to Meerhof.

In the night of August 4 to 5, Rochambeau retired from Stadtberg to Canstein, his rearguard being engaged near the defile. Stainville went to Rhoden. At 3:00 AM, Soubise marched into the plain of Dortmund and encamped on the heights of Barop. Meanwhile, the Maison du Roi, which had been delayed, encamped at Hacheney. The main Allied army as well as Granby’s corps remained under arms all night.

Map of the engagement of Bredelar on August 5, 1761.
Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis
Key to the map:
A French outpost at the defile near Giershagen.
B Position of the French Corps near Bredelar.
C Position of the French during the attack.
D Allied attack on the French outpost.
E March of the Allied Corps on Bredelar.
F Allies forming in order of battle.
G Attack on the French Corps.
H Allied batteries.
I French battery.
K Location where the French retired after an engagement which had lasted more than 3 hours.
L Allied corps of cavalry and infantry, which intended to cut off the retreating French corps.

In the morning of August 5, Wutginau attacked Rochambeau in the engagement of Bredelar and then marched to Heddinghausen. Spörcken marched from Brenken to Meerhof. Spörcken had barely completed a junction with the main Allied army when the French artillery opened on the Allied positions. Wangenheim quitted Büren and made a feint against Stadtberg but suddenly redirected his march around the flanks of the French, forcing Stainville to retire in great disorder to Warburg with considerable loss. Ferdinand pursued Stainville’s corps beyond Welda, taking many prisoners. The same day, Belzunce entered Dassel with 6,000 men.

On August 6, all Allied troops returned to their initial positions: the Hereditary Prince encamped at Unna and Kielmansegg at Kamen. The same day, Soubise received Choiseul's order instructing him to transfer 10,000 men to Broglie. Still the same day, Colonel Freytag with jägers intercepted the first French convoy (250 wagons) sent from Göttingen to Höxter.

On August 7, Soubise encamped at Rahm. The same day, a party of Allied light troops (30 men) under the Chevalier de Donceel surprised and dispersed an Austrian detachment that was posted there (place not specified) to guard 65 pontoons, for the most part already mounted on their carriages. Donceel then burnt the pontoons as well as a small French magazines.

On the night of August 8 to 9, Prince Albert Henry of Brunswick died at Hamm of the wound received during the engagement at Ruhne on July 21.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the French Lower-Rhine Army (Soubise's) on August 10 1761, after the departure of Lévis' corps.

On August 9, Soubise finally sent the reinforcement of 10,000 men destined to the Army of the Upper-Rhine for its enterprise against Hameln. This contingent was placed under the command of Lieutenant-general de Lévis assisted by the maréchaux de camp d'Aubigny, Talaru and Thianges. It left from Rahm, passed the Ruhr at the bridge of Herdecke and spend the night near Hagen. It consisted of:

The same day (August 9), the Hereditary Prince left Kielmannsegg with 12,000 at Kamen to observe Soubise's position and marched to make a junction with the main Allied army.

On August 10, Soubise marched in 4 columns to Bochum. His light troops occupied Haltern. Meanwhile, Lévis' corps reached Breckerfeld. The same day, Ferdinand passed the Lippe and encamped at Delbrück on his way to Detmold to maintain his positions between the two French armies.

On August 11, Soubise passed the Emscher at Grimberg and Crange and encamped at Westerholt while Lévis' corps reached Lüdenscheid. Meanwhile, Stainville was encamped at Kleinenberg with an advanced post at Driburg. Prince Xavier, the Baron de Closen and the Baron de Chabot had taken positions at Merlsheim, Pömbsen and Nieheim; while de Vaux was at Höxter and Belzunce at Solling, with 320 horse and 700 foot entered Einbeck. The same day, Ferdinand reached Stukenbrock north of Paderborn. Meanwhile, General Luckner passed the Weser at Hameln and was joined by Colonel Freytag.

On August 12, Soubise's army was on the heath of Hüls (on the southern edge of the Hülsheide, now part of the town of Marl) while the Allies were on the Mülbach (unidentified location). The Hereditary Prince occupied Soest. Meanwhile, Lévis' corps reached Attendorn. At 6:00 p.m., Soubise sent Voyer's corps across the Dülmen. MM. de Conflans and M. de Sionville then turned the Allied positions at Dülmen and attacked a battalion of the Légion Britannique who defended themselves for a certain time until charged at the point of the bayonet by the Volontaires de l'armée. Conflans' cavalry cut their retreat on the road to Münster and took 150 prisoners. Meanwhile, M. de Commeyras at the head of the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince took position at Buldern to prevent any Allied attack from Appelhülsen; and M. de Cambefort advanced up to Coesfeld, sending detachments near Münster where they captured some artillery horse. The same day, Ferdinand marched to Detmold where he established his headquarters while the Hereditary Prince left Unna to turn Broglie's flank.

On August 13, Kielmansegg threw his corps into Münster. The Hereditary Prince marched to Hardehausen between Stadtberg and Warburg while Ferdinand encamped near Blomberg, on the heights of Moltmorbergen (unidentified location), his right at Reelkirchen, his left at Siekholz. Broglie intended to occupy the same position and his light troops clashed with the Allied quartermasters making out the camp. The French light troops retired and Broglie established his camp on the heights of Nieheim. Broglie abandoned part of the positions which he had occupied since July 28, moving the following corps to Steinheim: his right from Driburg (present-day Bad Driburg), Laval's corps from Willebadessen, Poyanne's cavalry from Dringenberg, the vanguard under Closen, and Prince Xavier's division. De Muy took position at Driburg with the left wing. The Volontaires de Saint-Victor occupied a wood and a mountain linking with the French left. In the evening. M. de Beauvau occupied Wintrup and the heights facing Horn. Meanwhile, Soubise passed the Lippe in 4 columns near Haltern and took position at Hausdülmen while the Prince de Condé advanced to Dülmen. Meanwhile, Lévis' corps marched by the castle of Schnellenberg and passed the Lemne.

Map of the engagement of Markoldendorf near Einbeck on August 14, 1761.
Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis
Key to the map:
A Camp of the French Corps
B Advance of the Allies by way of Einbeck to attack the French near Erichsburg
C Vigorous attack of the Allies, dislodging of the French
D Retreat of the French behind Hoppensen near Belzunce<s Corps
E Positions of the corps of the Vicomte de Belzunce
F Renewed attack of the Allies, routing the French and taking many prisoners

In the morning of August 14, the Hereditary Prince arrived at Lichtenau behind Broglie's positions around Driburg. Broglie reconnoitred the Allied positions. Meanwhile, M. de Beauvau advanced on the little town of Horn (today Horn-Bad Meinberg) with a French division of 8,000 men and 6 guns (Légion Royale, some dragoons, grenadiers and chasseurs from Boccard's corps). The town was defended by 300 men under Lieutenant-colonel Deimar. Beauvau sent forward his hussars while the cavalry of the Légion Royale and dragoons surrounded the town. The Swiss and the infantry then marched against the gates. However, seeing that the rightmost camp of the Allied army was making preparation to support Horn, Beauvau retired to his initial positions during the afternoon. The same morning, Luckner made a junction with 2 bns of the garrison of Hameln at Wickensen and then marched on Dassel. Luckner’s corps reached the heights of Dassel near the positions of M. de Belzunce. Luckner sent his own hussars against the French right and detached Colonel Freytag with all the light horse towards their left wing. Belzunce sent a large detachment to cover the road leading to Einbeck. Luckner's Hussars attacked and routed this latter detachment near Markoldendorf. Meanwhile, Luckner took position in front of Belzunce’s main corps and a lively cannonade ensued. Belzunce retired into the forest of Solling before being surrounded. The same day, Broglie sent Caraman's corps (Limousin infantry brigade, Commissaire-Général cavalry brigade, Nicolaï dragoon brigade and Volontaires de Flandre) to take position at Ossendorf and to cover the gorge of Hardehausen. On the Lower-Rhine, Soubise pushed forward the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince and the Dragons Chasseurs de Conflans. Meanwhile, Lévis' corps reached Bracht.

On August 15 at 8:00 a.m., Luckner assembled his corps near Dassel. Captain Kampen was sent to observe the town of Höxter. The Brunswick Jäger Corps set forward and the whole corps marched to Uslar where it arrived at 4:00 PM. As soon as Luckner’s vanguard appeared on the height near Vahle, Belzunce retreated by Allershausen to the Sonnenberg hill. Using his artillery, Luckner dislodge them from this advantageous position. The French retired to the forest of Solling once more but this time they were attacked by Lieutenant-colonel Stockhausen and the Eisenbach Hussars and were routed. In this affair, the French lost 44 officers and 759 privates made prisoners, including Brigadier Jenner, 1 colonel and 2 majors. The II./Jenner Infanterie was entirely ruined. Belzunce retired to Grone near Göttingen. During this time, the Hereditary Prince reached Lichtenau and an Allied force (10 bns, 500 horse) under Kielmannsegg arrived at Münster. The same day, Broglie resolved to pass the Weser and to advance in Hanover. He informed Stainville of his intention, delegating him the responsibility to defend Hesse. Broglie also sent Chabo's corps (Légion Royale, Bauffremont dragoon brigade, Normandie infantry brigade) to reinforce Caraman at Dringenberg. On his way, Caraman was attacked near Kleinenberg and retired to Hardehausen pursued by the Allies. Nicolaï Dragons, the Volontaires de Flandre and Chamborant Hussards then countercharged the Allies, taking 2 officers and 60 men prisoners. The same day on the Lower-Rhine, Voyer marched to Appelhülsen and the Prince de Condé to Buldern. Meanwhile, Lévis' corps reached Oberkirchen.

In the night of August 15 to 16, M. de Cambefort surrounded and stormed the town of Rheine occupied by the newly raised Volontaires Wallons who suffered heavy casualties in this engagement.

On August 16, Luckner marched to Höxter to destroy the bridge thrown across the Weser. The same day, Broglie slightly reorganised his positions. He advanced his right to cover the corps of Prince Xavier who had taken position on the road to Höxter, and his left to Pömbsen and Nieheim. Prince Xavier was instructed to pass the Weser during the night with 3 infantry and 3 cavalry brigades. The same day on the Lower-Rhine, Soubise's army marched in 4 columns from Hausdülmen to Appelhülsen; the Prince de Condé at the head of the reserve reached Bösensell; and Voyer reached Albachten. Reconnoitring towards Münster, Soubise realised that the town of Roxel had been abandoned by the Allies. He immediately threw the Dragons Chasseurs de Conflans into the town. Meanwhile, Lévis' corps reached Winterberg and Korbach.

In the night of August 16 to 17, the Saxon infantry of the corps of Prince Xavier took position to pass the Weser at Höxter at daybreak. The town was already defended by 2 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigades and the Volontaires d'Austrasie.

On August 17, Luckner's corps, stationed on the opposite bank of the Weser, cannonaded the head of the columns of Prince Xavier. The latter resolved to postpone the passage of the Weser and informed Broglie of his decision. Broglie then sent to Prince Xavier a reinforcement of 1 infantry brigade, instructing him to pass the river as soon as possible before Luckner could receive reinforcements. Luckner then retired on Dassel. The same day on the Lower-Rhine, Voyer sent two strong detachments forward: Voyer on the Werse and M. de Viomesnil who attacked and captured the village and castle of Wolbeck. Still the same day, the French Maison du Roi being sickly encamped near Bürick on its way to its cantons in the neighbourhood of Kleve.

Broglie advances into Hanover

In the night of August 17 to 18, Prince Xavier passed the Weser with his Saxon infantry and 3 additional infantry brigades under M. de Vaux.

On August 18 at daybreak, Prince Xavier advanced against the wood where Luckner's corps had been positioned but it had already retired. Prince Xavier then encamped at Holzminden. Meanwhile, in the morning, the main French army decamped and marched in 4 columns to Höxter to pass the Weser, thus threatening Hameln and Braunschweig (aka Brunswick). Guerchy's corps (9 grenadier and chasseur bns, Bourbonnais infantry brigade and 2 cavalry brigades) formed the rearguard of the 2 leftmost columns, followed by Closen's corps. Poyanne's corps (Carabiniers, Castella infantry brigade) formed the rearguard of the 2 rightmost columns, followed by Beauvau's corps. By noon, the Allies had not been detected and Closen's and Beauvau's corps were instructed to halt on the heights of Altendorf to the west of Höxter to cover the passage of the Weser by the cavalry and the train. Broglie established his headquarters at Corvey. Ferdinand then dispatched Granby and Wutginau to pursue the French rearguard. About 3:00 PM, Closen informed Broglie that Allied corps were appearing and he believed these corps to be Granby's and Spörcken's. Broglie immediately sent the 9 grenadier and chasseurs bns to reinforce Closen and instructed all his infantry to be ready to march. As Broglie was galloping to the relief of Closen, he was informed that the latter had been forced to abandon his position by superior forces. Closen retired orderly and slowly. He then deployed his troops so that most of them, including his guns, were hidden to the enemy. The Highlanders and the British grenadiers debouched from the height of Altendorf and marched rapidly on the few French troops they could see. Closen suddenly unmasked his guns and opened on the advancing Allied troops while launching his hussars and the dragoons of the Volontaires de Saint-Victor commanded by M. de Gaintraud. They drove back the Allies. The 15th Elliot's Light Horse, who came to the rescue of the Highlanders and grenadiers, suffered the same fate. In this action, the Allies lost some 500 men. In anticipation of a new attack, Closen and Beauvau, joined by Chabot, then took position above Ovenhausen. The Volontaires de Saint-Victor were thrown into this village and into the wood in front of it. The 9 grenadier and chasseur bns deployed at the edge of the wood in front of the camp and the infantry on a height overlooking Höxter. Ferdinand decided to remain on the left bank of the river to cover his places and to threaten communications with Soubise's army in Hesse. Accordingly, at noon, he marched to Holzhausen near Nieheim. During the night the French division of Devaux occupied the heights of Brenkhausen. The same day in Hesse at 3:00 PM, the Hereditary Prince attacked M. de Caraman (Limousin brigade, Commissaire-Général cavalry brigade, Volontaires de Flandre and Nicolaï Dragons), who had taken post on the left bank of the Diemel, between Peckelsheim and Warburg. Caraman retired in good order and joined M. de Stainville on the right bank of the river. In this affair, Caraman lost 30 men and took about 30 Allied prisoners. The Hereditary Prince then marched to Ossendorf on the Diemel. The same day on the Lower-Rhine, Soubise detached M. de Conflans against the rearguard of an Allied corps who had left Münster in the afternoon and was marching to Eems (unidentified location). Conflans made some prisoners, took the tents belonging to Scheiter Cavalry (unidentified unit) and 30 baggage wagons.

In the night of August 18 to 19, M. de Vaux with 12 bns took position on a height to the right of the French positions. Meanwhile, Broglie guarded the centre of his positions with 5 infantry brigades while the French army managed to pass the Weser, even though one of the two bridges broke. Broglie now hoped to draw Ferdinand towards Hanover. On the Lower Rhine the Allies, blockaded in Münster, made a sally.

On August 19, Ferdinand resolved to prevent Broglie from crossing the Weser. He then marched to Höxter. At 7:00 AM, Beauvau informed Broglie of the arrival of a large Allied force at Altendorf. Broglie personally went to reconnoitre the Allied positions and saw their columns marching against his right and left. He immediately ordered to retire to protect his advanced posts. The Volontaires de Saint-Victor retired from Ovenhausen while Beauvau and Closen marched on Höxter. The rest of the French infantry then passed the bridges. At 3:00 p.m., the Allies, who had arrived once most of the French army had already completed the crossing of the river over pontoon bridges, deployed on the heights recently evacuated by the French and opened a lively cannonade against the two bridges. Broglie managed to complete his passage, leaving only a small force on the left bank to defend Höxter. After its passage, the French army encamped with its left at the castle of Fürstenberg and its left above Lüchtringen, forcing Luckner to fall back towards Einbeck. Prince Xavier's reserve reached Holzminden and was soon reinforced by 2 infantry brigades and 1 cavalry brigade under M. de Laval. Meanwhile, M. d'Espiez with 2 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry brigades and the Volontaires d'Austrasie, escorted a bread convoy to Göttingen. The same day, Colonel Freytag for his part was posted along the Werra to intercept French communications. Ferdinand then encamped near Höxter. Granby with the Allied vanguard greatly harassed the French rearguard, the 15th Elliot's Light Horse and Ruesch Hussars taking a considerable quantity of baggage. Ferdinand detached Wutginau to Halle on the other side of the Weser. Ferdinand now intended to stop Broglie's projects by advancing against Kassel. Meanwhile, the Hereditary Prince would prevent Soubise. The Hereditary Prince encamped on the Diemel near Rimbeck and Scherfede. The same day, Stainville made a junction with Lévis' corps and marched to Kassel.

On August 20, the main French army remained at Lüchtringen and Fürstenberg while de Vaux marched on Einbeck to dislodge Luckner; and the prince de Condé marched on Hamm. The same day, Ferdinand detached Wutginau to Polle to cover his communication with Hameln and Luckner retired eastwards to Osterode am Harz. Still the same day on the Lower-Rhine, Soubise established his headquarters at Albachten near Münster and detached Voyer towards the Lower Ems. Voyer encamped at Appelhülsen. General Kielmansegg had thrown a numerous Allied garrison into Münster.

On August 21, M. de Vaux (3 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigades and some guns) reached Einbeck, being joined at Dassel on his way by Belzunce to formed the vanguard. Prince Xavier also marched from Holzminden to Einbeck. Chabot took position between Heinade and Dassel. Broglie's main army encamped at Dassel. The French detachment which had been left to cover the passage of the Weser at Höxter abandoned that town and passed the river on small boats. At 4:00 PM, Closen abandoned his position in front of Höxter and retired to Uslar. An Allied detachment immediately occupied Höxter. The same day, about 5,500 Allies passed the Weser at Corvey while the Hereditary Prince was instructed to march on Hamm to observe Soubise's army. Still the same day, 10,000 men under M. de Lévis, detached from Soubise's army, arrived at Kassel. In the area of Münster, the Prince de Condé for his part reached Drensteinfurt; and Vogüé, Sendenhorst.

On August 22, the Broglie's main army moved through the wood of Sollingen and encamped at Dassel. Closen initially remained in front of Höxter to cover the march of the army and then marched to Uslar. Meanwhile, Prince Xavier marched to Markoldendorf with his reserve and the vanguard reached Hayna (maybe Heinade). The same day, general Oheim marched on Hamm with an Allied corps and some Allied regiments were sent to reinforce the garrison of the city of Hanover. Still the same day, on the Lower Rhine, Soubise invested Münster.

On August 23 at 4:00 AM, Broglie's army marched to Salzderhelden. It then encamped with his left at Moringen and his centre at Sülbeck on the Bollen. Meanwhile, Duras (4 infantry brigades) took position between Wellersen and Fredelsloh; Prince Xavier between the right wing and Einbeck to support M. de Vaux, Chabot with the vanguard at Hoppensen to reconnoitre the area between Heinade and Sievershausen. Closen remained at Uslar where the Allies had pushed a few detachments. On the Lower Rhine in the morning, the Prince de Condé took position with his reserve on the heights overlooking Hamm. He then summoned the governor of the town but to no avail. He then bombarded the place till midnight when his artillery began to fire red-hot balls. The same day, the Hereditary Prince marched to Hamm to support Oheimb while Granby’s corps passed the Weser at Höxter to harass Broglie’s rearguard. It returned to its camp the same night.

On August 24, Ferdinand sent Wangenheim across the Weser near Höxter and reestablished the bridge. Furthermore, he sent the corps of Granby and Conway towards the Diemel to attack Stainville's corps. The same day, Duras (4 infantry brigades and 1 cavalry brigade) was sent to Harste to support if necessary Closen's retreat. Indeed, Granby's corps marched on Uslar and Closen retired to Walimbeck, closer to Duras' corps. Broglie was very concerned by these Allied manoeuvres because they threatened his communications with Münden and Göttingen. Therefore, he personally reconnoitred Closen's and Duras' positions to make sure that they could delay the Allies long enough to be reinforced. Broglie also sent M. de Rochechouart (4 bns) to Fürstenhagen where he joined the Légion Royale. Broglie then resolved to drive back Wangenheim's corps. The same day, the prince de Condé's artillery ceased bombardment at noon and Condé once more summoned the Allied garrison of Hamm to surrender. His summon was rejected. Condé then pushed light troops to the the left bank to observe the movements of the garrison and bombardment resumed until 4:00 PM when the French retired after receiving the news that the Hereditary Prince was on his way to relieve the place at the head of a large detachment. Meanwhile in Westphalia, Soubise reached Albersloh on the Upper-Werse with the main body of his army; Vogüé remained at Appelhülsen with 10 bns and 1 dragoon rgt; Conflans remained at Rheine; Besenval marched to Drensteinfurt with 5 battalions of grenadiers and chasseurs and a detachment of 500 horse of the Maison du Roi; and M. de Cambefort was sent towards Meppen and the magazines of Haselünne in East Frisia. As long as the Hereditary Prince was posted on the Diemel and Ferdinand at Höxter, Broglie could not take the chance to invade Hanover with his line of communication with Göttingen thus threatened.

In the night of August 24 to 25, the detachments that M. de Coigny had pushed on Soest and Lippstadt encountered a larger Allied corps marching to the relief of Hamm. The French detachments retired.

On August 25, leaving Spörcken at Höxter with the rest of the Allied army, Ferdinand proceeded by forced marches towards the Diemel at the head of Granby’s corps and of all the British contingent to the exception of the Guards. On his way, Ferdinand made more than 300 prisoners at Dringelburg (probably Trendelburg). Granby and Conway passed the Diemel and encamped at Hofgeismar. Spörcken remained at Höxter; Wutginau at Polle; the prince of Anhalt at Herstelle near Karlshafen (today Bad Karlshafen); the Hereditary Prince at Hamm. Luckner, who was now at Osterode am Harz, tried to capture a provision convoy under the walls of Göttingen. With the arrival of M. de Belsunce at Northeim and the artillery fire from the place, Luckner abandoned his project. Meanwhile, the Volontaires du Hainaut, under the command of Colonel de Grandmaison surprised M. de Gschray' Prussian Freikorps at Nordhausen, capturing de Gschray, his major, 5 captains, about 100 dragoons, 400 horses, the equipage and the chest of the regiment. De Gschray had previously commanded a light unit in the French army before entering the Prussian service. After this action M. de Grandmaison retired to Eschwege. The same day, Stainville was still encamped at Kassel. However, he was very active in Hesse, sending a detachment (1 dragoon rgt, 1 light troop rgt, 24 grenadier coys) under M. de Rochambeau to clear the forest of Sababurg of Allied troops and to throw a bridge over the Weser to establish communication with Broglie. Stainville also sent 1 dragoon rgt to Gudensberg and 1 hussar rgt to Wildungen (present-day Bad Wildungen) to oppose the advance of an Allied corps spotted near Korbach. Finally Stainville replaced the garrisons of Münden, Hirschfeld (more probably Hersfeld), Ziegenhain and Giessen, occupying the castle of Arnstein . After his failure in front of Hamm, the prince de Condé retired on Drensteinfurt. Coigny repassed the Lippe with his light troops. Soubise made a junction with Vogüé at Appelhülsen and lifted the blockade of Münster.

During this time, Conflans penetrated up to Osnabrück, capturing a large oats magazine. He then burned a magazine in Melle, pushed detachments up to Worden (unidentified location), captured an Allied convoy and brought back 400 horses. Cambefort was unable to capture the well defended town of Meppen. Conflans and Cambefort were supported by M. de Vogüé who had taken position at Aldenberge. Conflans brought back 800 wagons loaded with supply and important contributions levied in the counties of Lingen and Tecklenburg and in the country of Osnabrück.

On August 26, Granby passed the Diemel at the head of a large Allied corps. Ferdinand joined Granby's corps and advanced to Hofgeismar where he established his headquarters, within 35 km of Kassel, pushing an advanced party to Winterkasten. The Allies occupied the castles of Trendelburg and Sababurg. Ferdinand's army encamped at Hofgeismar. Meanwhile, the Hereditary Prince was marching with all speed on Westphalia against Soubise's army. The latter detached part of his troops from Hamm under the Prince de Condé and M. de Voyer.

Ferdinand counter-attacks towards Münden

On August 27, Ferdinand marched to Immenhausen with the main Allied army, his vanguard reaching Hohenkirchen. The same day, informed of the manoeuvres of the Allies and fearing for Münden, the duc de Broglie immediately ceased his advance into Hanover and ordered M. de Duras to march immediately to the relief of Münden with 2 infantry brigades and 1 cavalry brigade. He also ordered Closen to pass the Werra and to march towards Münden. On the Lower-Rhine, Soubise being short of supply returned from Albersloh to his previous camp near Münster at Appelhülsen. Soubise then remained idle at Appelhülsen until August 30. Vogüé took position at Altenberge to protect the convoys sent by MM. de Conflans and Cambefort through Rheine and Coesfeld.

On August 28, Broglie marched to Münden with Duras' corps. At 4:00 PM, Broglie arrived at Münden to personally inspect the defences on the Fulda. At the same moment, the Allies appeared on the heights overlooking Münden and cannonaded, quite ineffectively, Closen's and Duras' positions. Broglie then departed for Kassel where he met with Stainville. The same day, the Hereditary Prince (6,000 men with 12 heavy guns and howitzers) marched to Haltern and attacked Dorsten which was defended by I./Vierzet Infanterie. The battalion opposed a strong resistance, fighting in the streets and on the town place. The Allies finally captured the place along with Soubise's bakery, taking I./Vierzet Infanterie prisoners along with his colonel and several piquets.

On August 29, an Allied corps was encamped between Hofgeismar and Mariendorf with an advanced post at Hohenkirchen. M. de Stainville successfully attacked that post but was then forced to retire to Kassel. In the evening, Stainville was informed that the Allies had retired to Hofgeismar. He then resolved to advance on Hohenkirchen once more with the support of Closen's and Duras' corps.

Map of the engagement near Münster, fought on August 30, 1761
Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis
Key to the map:
a Positions of the French Army under Soubise on August 27.
b Reserve of the Prince de Condé, posted to the south.
c Vogüé's corps posted further south at Altenberge.
d First Column of the Allied Hanoverian Corps under General Kielmansegg leaving Münster and marching on the road to Schaapdetten.
e Chapt Dragons moving leftward supported by grenadiers and chasseurs under M. de Fronsac
f French attack with the Allies falling back while skirmishing.
g Retreat of the Allies to Münster.
h Second Allied column marching up to the village of Bossensel.
i Attack of the Volontaires de Soubise and other Volontaire units, and retreat of the Allies.

On August 30, satisfied of his diversion to put a stop to the French advance in Westphalia, Ferdinand retired to Hofgeismar with the Allied army. In the morning of the same day on the Lower Rhine, Soubise was still at Appelhülsen when a strong Allied column came out of Münster and marched on Bösensell, occupied by the Volontaires de Soubise and theVolontaires de l'armée on the French left wing; and on Groß Schonebeck on the Stever (near Nottuln) defended by Chapt Dragons. At 9:00 a.m., informed of the attack on his advanced posts, Soubise went to the support of his left while ordering M. de Montbarey to support Chapt Dragons with the grenadiers and chasseurs battalions of Briqueville Infanterie, La Couronne Infanterie, and Bouillon Infanterie along with 2 artillery divisions. Soubise also sent orders to the grenadiers and chasseurs of his right to take position on the road to Albachten, supported by 1 infantry brigade. After a short engagement, the Allied infantry stopped while the Allied cavalry retired. Fearing for Vogüé's corps at Altenberge and for his left wing, Soubise advanced Briqueville brigade to the left of his camp and sent M. de Bezons to reconnoitre the gap separating Vogüé's corps from his main army. He then ordered M. de Fronsac to attack the Allies who retired from hedges to hedges to the plain of Roxel where they tried to form. Chapt Dragons and the dragoons of the Volontaires de Soubise charged them, penetrating the column in two occasions and capturing a few prisoners. The Allies then retired to Münster. M. de Wurmser was severely wounded during this action.

Soubise abandons the siege of Münster

On August 31, along the Lippe, Allied light troops took 300 wagons, a number of equipages and patrols of French cavalry. Alarmed by the recent Allied successes, the French generals recalled the Maison du Roi from Kleve and ordered them to assemble at Bürick to protect the communications on the Rhine. Stainville, reinforced by Closen's corps and part of Duras' one, reached Hohenkirchen, sending Champagne infantry brigade and La Reine cavalry brigade to Holzhausen which was occupied by the Volontaires de Saint-Victor. The same day, Granby repassed the Diemel and encamped at Bühne and Körbecke. Still the same day, large French detachments passed the Harz mountains, driving back Allied detachments belonging to Luckner’s, Freytag’s and Stockhausen’s corps and taking possession of several considerable passes. Ferdinand instructed Wutginau to cross the Weser at Grohnde to observe the motions of the French in that area. On the Lower Rhine, the Prince de Condé marched to Dülmen.

On September 1, Ferdinand encamped at Bühne between Warburg and Lichtenau with 10 bns and 21 sqns. The same day on the Lower Rhine, Soubise marched to Dülmen to cover his communications while Condé marched to Haltern and Vogüé to Coesfeld.

On September 2, Stainville advanced to Grebenstein, sending the Chamborant Hussards to Westuffeln, the Volontaires de Flandre to Carlsdorf, and a detachment of Nicolaï Dragons to Hofgeismar. Meanwhile, Closen drove the Allies out of the forest of Sababurg and made himself master of the castle of Sababurg. Belzunce marched on Osterode where an Allied detachment under Freytag had taken position while Prince Xavier advanced against Luckner at Seesen. Belzunce first took position between Einbeck and Seesen. He then advanced on Osterode, attacked Freytag at 7:00 a.m. and defeated him, taking 17 officers and 450 men prisoners. Only Du Roi (Cavalerie or Dragons?), La Ferronnaye Dragons and Royal-Nassau Hussards had time to directly took part in the combat. Belzunce pursued the Allies beyond Zellerfeld and then took position at Clausthal, the main town of the Harz mining district, seizing large quantity of silver. Freytag retired on Goslar. M. de Grandmaison simultaneously attacked Herzberg. The same day, the main Allied army took position between Höxter and Beverungen. The same day on the Lower-Rhine, the Hereditary Prince advanced towards Haltern. Soubise too marched to Haltern, encamping near the corps of the Hereditary Prince (20,000 men). Meanwhile. M. de Vogüé moved closer to Wesel with La Marck brigade, Flamarens Dragons, Chapt Dragons, the Volontaires du Dauphiné and the Maison du Roi, thus threatening Dorsten.

On September 3, Freytag resumed his retreat. The same day, Belzunce returned to his camp at Einbeck where he was replaced by Closen. Belzunce then returned to Versailles before sailing for Saint-Domingue to assume the function of governor. The same day on the Lower-Rhine, MM. de Fronsac and de Cambefort pursued the Allied rearguard and brought back 250 grenadiers belonging to Scheiter's corps as prisoners. Meanwhile. French light troops passed the Lippe and conducted raids in the direction of Bremen.

On September 4, Soubise's army arrived towards Westerholt, where it passed the Lippe, and drove back the Allies from the castle of Altendorf. At 2:00 PM, the Allies started to retire from Dorsten.Vogüé at the head of a large corps made 180 prisoners and took 1 gun. Soubise then encamped at Dorsten which was occupied by 3 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry brigade, 1 dragoon rgt and some light troops. At nightfall, the Allies repassed the Lippe at Ahsen. The same day, the Hereditary Prince marched towards Dülmen to reestablish his communications with Hamm and Münster. The French garrisons of Wesel and Rees were reinforced while Cambefort force protected the navigation on the Rhine.

On September 5, M. de Chabot reconnoitred the banks of the Weser and tried to surprise Eisenbach Hussars and Bauers Hussars posted at Stadtoldendorf. He confided the task to Colonel de Sombreuil who managed to dislodge the Allies from the place and to take some prisoners. The same day on the Lower Rhine, the rest of Soubise's army repassed the Lippe in 3 columns at Dorsten and retired to Westerholt where it remained until September 9. Still the same day, the Hereditary Prince received reinforcements from Münster. He reached Dülmen while the British Guards marched from Höxter by Borgholz towards Borgentreich where they encamped on the right of Ferdinand’s army.

On September 6, the Hereditary Prince marched to Lüdinghausen.


The last phases of the campaign are described in the following article:

  • French second attempt against Hanover (September 7 to October 5, 1761) describing Broglie's second advance into Hanover, Soubise's operations in East Frisia, and Ferdinand's counter-attack towards Kassel.
  • French and Allied last operations (October 6 to December 31, 1761) describing Prince Xavier's operations against Wolfenbüttel and Braunschweig, Ferdinand's offensive on Einbeck, and the winter-quarters of each army.


This article is essentially a compilation of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Fortescue, J. W.; A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 524-527, 531-534
  • Hotham (probably), The operations of the Allied Amy under the command of his Serene Highness Prince Ferdinand Duke of Brunswic and Luneberg beginning in the year 1757 and ending in the year 1762, London: T. Jefferies, 1764, pp. 203-240
  • Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 4ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 2-78
  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. V, Paris, 1891, pp. 187-238