1761 - Prussian second raid in Greater Poland
On September 10, the Russian army abandoned the blockade of Bunzelwitz (today Bolesławice), leaving the Austrians alone to do it.
On September 11, Frederick II decided to send a small corps under Platen against the Russian supply lines in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska). This command was ordered to destroy Russian magazines in Greater Poland and to return to the main body. If this proved to be unfeasible, Platen had to head for Pomerania and to reinforce the corps of the Prince von Württemberg for the defence of Colberg.
Platen's corps numbered some 10,000 men and consisted of:
- Grenadiers (4 bns each about 450 men strong)
- Musketeers (6 bns each about 550 men strong)
- Fusiliers (4 bns each about 550 men strong)
- 28 battalion guns each served by 6 men
- 22 field guns each served by 6 men
- mobile oven
- 8 pontoons
At 5:00 PM on September 11, Platen's corps reached Hohenposeritz (today Pożarzysko).
During the night of September 11, Platen passed the Oder near Breslau (today Wrocław).
On September 12, Platen was at Trachenberg (today Żmigród).
On September 13, Platen arrived at Krobia.
Action on Kobylin
On September 14, Platen encamped at Sabisch (unidentified location). He then sent a strong detachment under colonel Kleist to destroy the magazine Kobylin. This detachment consisted of:
- HR5 Ruesch Hussars (200 men)
- HR7 Małachowski Hussars (200 men)
- DR9 Pomeiske Dragoons (100 men)
- DR10 Finckenstein Dragoons (100 men)
- Grenadier Battalion 12/39 Görne
- V. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion Hachenberg
The Prussians threw the Russian garrison out of Kobylin and destroyed magazines. In this town, Platen was informed by prisoners or by Polish inhabitants that a great Russian convoy was parked at the abbey of Gostyń. He immediately marched at the head of his cavalry and ordered general Knobloch to follow him with the infantry.
Engagement of Gostyń
On September 15 at 4:00 AM, Platen advanced to Gostyń where he found the Russian supply park barricaded and guarded by 5,000 foot. This forced Platen to wait for the arrival of his infantry. He then attacked the Russian force under brigadier Czerepov entrenched in a wagenburg in the engagement of Gostyń, capturing more than 1,500 Russian troops as well as the wagenburg. More than 500 wagons were destroyed. At 9:00 PM the same day, Platen sent part of his corps under Thadden to escort the supply and munition wagons, the bakery, prisoners, pontoons and artillery to Czempiń.
Further Prussian operations in Greater Poland
On September 16, Platen arrived at Czempiń where he encamped with the rest of his corps.
On September 17, Platen reached Stenschewo (today Stęszew), pushing forward a detachment on Posen (today Poznań). However, the Russian general Dalk had already evacuated the magazine and the town. The same day, the main Russian army, who was now retiring towards Pomerania, passed the Oder.
During the night of September 17 to 18, 500 men from HR5 Ruesch Hussars under the command of colonel Nadarzyński destroyed the magazine at Posen.
On September 18, brigadier Kleist was sent to Buch (today Buk) with prisoners, pontoons, artillery, Markgraf von Brandenburg Fusiliers (2 bns) and Braun Fusiliers (2 bns). Meanwhile Platen sent a courier to Frederick and reconnoitred Landsberg (today Gorzow Wielkopolski) to check if the bridge was guarded by Russian troops. Platen then resolved to take this direction because the road through Driesen (today Drezdenko) was in very bad condition and was blockaded by a Russian force.
Platen then resumed his march towards Neustadt where he remained a few days.
On September 19, Platen's corps was at Neustadt bei Pinne (today Lwówek) where he ordered a day rest. His troops had been marching daily since September 11. The same day, the main Russian army reached Reussen (probably Rusinowo) while Berg's corps was detached to follow Platen. Prussian reconnaissance parties brought back information about Berg's pursuit from Wronke (today Wronki) to Czerpowa (unidentified location).
On September 20, Platen reached Birnbaum (today Międzychód), on September 21, he was at Schwerin an der Warthe (today Skwierzyn). Meanwhile, the Russian commander Berg had sent 200-300 cossacks from Driesen to Landsberg.
On September 22, Platen arrived at Landsberg with his corps and found the bridge over the Warthe broken. A small skirmish took place with a Russian detachment under Suvorov. Some 30 men of the Grenadier Battalion 28/32 Arnim under lieutenant Koschirzky fired at the cossacks. The Prussians had just 8 pontoons to make a bridge and had to complete them with wood beams. A Russian corps then pursued Platen who decided to head for Pomerania and the camp of Colberg.
Platen's raid had destroyed 3 important Russian magazines with supplies. Because of this raid, the Russians were forced to retire to Greater Poland. Platen with his corps then took part to the siege of Colberg.
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Tomasz Karpiński (student at the Institute of History, University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań, Poland) for the initial version of this article