1702 – Bavarian invasion of Swabia

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1702 – Bavarian invasion of Swabia

The campaign lasted from September to December 1702


For the campaign of 1702, Austria did not have to worry about an uprising in Hungary because Rákóczi had been captured. Even though he had later managed to escape, he had taken refuge in Poland. Furthermore, Emperor Leopold I received large subsidies from Great Britain and from the Dutch Republic to finance war effort.

Most of principalities and circles of the Holy Roman Empire pledged support for the Habsburg. Only the Electorate of Bavaria, the Electorate of Cologne, the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg were reluctant to join the alliance.

Leopold resolved to assemble an Imperial army of 40,000 men on the Rhine where it would join contingents from various principalities of the Holy Roman Empire. This army would be place under the command of his son Joseph King of the Romans seconded by Margrave Louis of Baden.

In France, Louis XIV raised 100 new infantry rgts (each of 1 bn) and a few additional cavalry and dragoon rgts as well as several free companies. He also ordered to arm and train the Milices Gardes-Côtes, to arm all warships and several corsairs. Louis XIV also sent 19 bns and 19 sqns to Spain to assist his grandson.

Not expecting a full scale Imperialist offensive on the Rhine, Louis XIV estimated that an army of 45 bns and 68 sqns would be sufficient in this theatre of operation.


On 30 August, Louis XIV wrote to Catinat, commanding on the Rhine, to inform him that the Elector of Bavaria was on the verge of launching an offensive against Ulm and that the king had promised him assistance (up to 40 bns and 50 sqns) of a detachment of Catinat's army under the Marquis de Villars.

On 4 September, having received the king's letter, Catinat advanced to Roeschwoog.

On 8 September, the Elector of Bavaria with 25,000 men made himself master of Ulm by surprise and declared a local war on the House of Habsburg and the Imperial "Circles" of Swabia and Franconia, officially taking side with France. The magistrates of Ulm sent a request for assistance to the Margrave of Baden who sent FML Count Pálffy with a few dragoon and hussar regiments to cover Swabia while further reinforcements could be assembled.

On 9 September, ironically enough, now that Catinat was finally acting offensively on the Rhine, he received a letter from the court instructing him to stop his advance on the Lauter because it worried the Elector of Bavaria, making him doubt of the king's promise to send him reinforcements.

On 11 September, Catinat decamped from Roeschwoog, repassed the Moder and encamped at Drusenheim, on his way to Strasbourg, thus reassuring the Elector of Bavaria.

Order of Battle
Arco's Bavarian Corps in 1702

On 14 September, the Elector of Bavaria detached a corps (14 bns, 26 sqns) under the Count d'Arco to march from Offenhausen (now part of Neu-Ulm) near Ulm towards Stühlingen, some 80 km east of Huningue where he planned to rendez-vous with the French army on September 22. The elector even specified that the French army sent to his support should count 40 bns and 50 sqns.

Catinat informed the Elector of Bavaria that he would soon send a corps to his support but that, in the present circumstances, he was unable to spare as large an army as the elector requested. Catinat also asked the Elector to advance Arco's Corps up to Friedlingen, just opposite Huningue on the Rhine.

On 15 September, d'Arco's Bavarian Corps marched from Offenhausen to Pfullendorf.

On 16 September, the town of Überlingen, feeling threatened by the advancing Bavarian corps who had now reached Scheer, asked the city of Konstanz for assistance.

On 17 September, according to the king's renewed instructions, Catinat had to send a large corps to support the elector, even at the risk of exposing Alsace. One of the couriers of the Elector of Bavaria was charged to inform his master that a French army under the command of Lieutenant-General Villars would arrive at Huningue on 2 October and that d'Arco's Corps should move closer to the Rhine to ease the junction of the two forces.

On 18 September, d'Arco reached Mösskirch.

On 19 September, a Swiss company stationed in Bern went to Hilzingen, a few km from d'Arco's detachment at Stockach.

On 20 September, the Swiss company marched from Hilzingen to Konstanz and d'Arco's detachment marched back from Stockach towards d'Arco's main camp at Pfullendorf. D'Arco then retired a few km towards Ulm, establishing his new camp at Mengen.

From 20 September, the Margrave of Baden, in order to defend his own country, to prevent the junction of Catinat's forces with the Elector, and to win back the latter to the Habsburg side, recrossed the Rhine and hurried to Kehl with the greater part of his army (some 25,000 men), leaving a garrison in Landau (6 bns) and a corps of observation on the Lauter.

On 22 September, d'Arco heard rumours that an Imperial corps of 12 rgts was marching against him.

On 24 September, the Margrave of Baden rejoined the main Imperialist army near Hatten.

On 25 September, Villars marched from Eckbolsheim to Erstein with the corps destined to the Elector of Bavaria. The same day, d'Arco's Bavarian Corps retired eastwards to Schussenried (present-day Bad Schussenried).

On 26 September in the morning, as Villars continued his advance, d'Arco resumed his retreat towards Memmingen by Biberach/Riß.

On 28 September, Villars personally went to Huningue to take dispositions to pass the Rhine and to send news to the Elector of Bavaria.

On 30 September, the Elector of Bavaria captured the town of Memmingen.

On 1 October, the Elector of Bavaria marched southwards to Kempten.

On 2 October, estimating that the Imperial forces opposing him were too strong to pass the Rhine at Friedlingen under their fire, Villars decided to wait for the approach of d'Arco's Bavarian Corps before passing the river. In fact since he had heard of the fall of Landau, the Elector of Bavaria was beginning to waver in his allegiance to the French alliance.

After the capture of Kempten, the Elector of Bavaria, unable to convince himself to move away from the borders of Bavaria, gradually retraced his steps towards Günzburg.

On 7 October, Villars and Catinat received confirmation that the Elector of Bavaria was still procrastinating and had decided to make himself master of Memmingen (captured on 30 September) instead of making a junction with the French army which he had so insistently requested.

On 11 October, Villars was informed that, after the capture of Memmingen, the Elector of Bavaria had marched to Kempten, even farther from Huningue. It was now clear that he could not depend on the assistance of the Elector.

On 12 October, the Margrave of Baden planned to move from Friedlingen with Fürstenberg's Corps and to take a flanking position at Binzen. He considered that in this new position he could prevent any junction between the Bavarians and the French.

On 14 October, Villars defeated the Margrave of Baden in the Battle of Friedlingen.

On 15 October, Villars detached M. de Biron with 3,000 picked men towards Schopfheim and Säckingen to locate the army of the Elector of Bavaria. Villars could not advance through the mountains without being sure to receive bread from the Elector of Bavaria.

On 16 October, Biron's detachment reached Schopfheim but could not get any information concerning the location of the Bavarian Army.

By 18 October, Villars, now encamped at Binzen, personally went to Schopfheim and vainly sent reconnaissance parties in all direction to get news about the Bavarians.

Around mid-October, the Bavarians clashed with Pálffy's Imperialist detachment between Wemding and Lauingen, forcing Pálffy to retire to Nördlingen.

On 23 October, the Elector of Bavaria marched to Ulm.

On 24 October, the Elector of Bavaria took up cantonments at Ehingen, a small town five hours to the west of Ulm. His army counted 7,700 foot and 7,300 horse and consisted of:

  • Hartschier-Garde (130 men)
  • Infantry (11 bns)
  • Cavalry (44 sqns
    • Carabinier-Garde (1 sqn)
    • Grenadiere zu Pferd (1 sqn)
    • Arco Cuirassiers (6 sqns)
    • Weickel Cuirassiers (6 sqns)
    • Wolframsdorf Cuirassiers (6 sqns)
    • Verità Cuirassiers (6 sqns)
    • Monasterol Dragoons (6 sqns)
    • Fels Dragoons (6 sqns)
    • Santini Dragoons (6 sqns)
  • Artillery
  • Train

The Bavarian units were distributed as follows:

  • at Ehingen: the court and general staff, 2 garde rgts, 1 infantry rgt, 1 cavalry rgt
  • at Schelklingen and Allmendingen: 1 infantry rgt, 1 cavalry rgt
  • at Rottenacker: 1 infantry rgt, 1 cavalry rgt
  • at Riedlingen: 3 cavalry rgts
  • at Munderkingen: 1 infantry rgt, 1 cavalry rgt

The Elector of Bavaria also ordered to sent important deliveries of rye, oat, hay, straw and wood from Memmingen to the Bavarian magazine.

On 31 October, Villars was informed that the Elector of Bavaria had recently moved closer at Ehingen and Didenhausen from where he had detached 400 foot and 500 horse to rendez-vous with Villars' Army at Stühlingen.

At the beginning of November, the Austrian Lieutenant-Colonel Georg Pankraz Gückl von Weinbruch was sent to Upper Austria to put the country in state of defence. Gückl gradually erected entrenchments from Mondsee through Frankenburg, Wolfseck, Geiersberg up to Engelhartszell.

On 1 November, according to the treaty concluded between the Elector of Saxony and the Emperor, a Saxon corps under the command of Matthias Johann Baron von der Schulenburg marched from Warsaw towards Glogau.

On 2 November, Villars abandoned all hope of effecting a junction with the army of the Elector of Bavaria. The conduct of the latter getting more and more suspicious. Villars' Army marched from Friedlingen towards the bridge at Neuenburg.

In mid-November the Elector of Bavaria made another attempt to attack Nördlingen but FML Pálffy was on his guard and the Bavarians retired.

By the end of November, an Imperial army (27,000 men) was assembling in Tyrol and Upper Austria under the command of Count von Schlik to attack Bavaria. This army consisted of:

  • Saxon contingent under Schulenburg recently reviewed at Gross-Glogau (present-day Glogau/Silesia)
    • Infantry (6 rgts for a total of 3,350 men) under Hans Hermann Wostromirsky von Rockittnigk
      • Königin
      • Churprinz
      • Beichlingen (under Marschall von Bieberstein)
      • Wostromirsky
      • Thielau
      • Sacken
    • Cavalry (4 rgts for a total of 2,300 men) under Lieutenant-General Christian Sigismund von Plötz
      • Leibregiment zu Pferde (under Colonel Wiedemann)
      • Churprinz Cuirassiers
      • Jordan Horse
      • Eichstädt Cuirassiers
  • Austrian d'Albon Battalion (1 bn of 700 men)
  • Austrian Jung-Hannover Cuirassiers (1,000 men)
  • Austrian Schlik Dragoons (1,000 men)
  • Austrian Montecuccoli Cuirassiers (1,000 men)
  • Count Solari's Corps (1,300 men) previously garrisoning Guastalla in Northern Italy
  • Detachment of the Army of Italy combined with recruits of the Habsburg Hereditary Lands (10,000 men)
  • Dismounted cavalrymen of the Army of Italy (2,000 men)
  • Hussar detachments (2,000 men)

The Court of Vienna also ordered to raise the Landsturme (militia) of Upper Austrian to defend the Danube Valley against a possible winter offensive of the Franco-Bavarians.

Towards the end of the year, the Bavarians had occupied the Castle of Obernberg and the Castle of Ortenburg to threaten Passau. They had also taken possession of Berchtesgaden and barricaded the road leading from there to Kufstein because the Elector of Bavaria feared the advance of an Imperial corps under Genral Solari from Kufstein.

When the Imperial army was marched to its winter-quarters, a corps under General Gronsfeld was destined to winter in Bavaria. The Saxon Contingent spent the winter near Pisek in Bohemia. The Bavarians for their part took up their winter-quarters between the Iller and the Lech.

Burgau, Engen, Memmingen, Ulm, Dillingen aund Lauingen, all belonging to the Circle of Swabia, were occupied by Bavarian garrisons.

On 28 December at Châlons in France, Villars received a letter from the court informing him that the Elector of Bavaria had finally seized Lauingen and Burgau and that the king had decided to launch a winter offensive on the Rhine to assist the elector.


This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Pelet and François Eugène de Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 2 pp. 283-454, 829-843, 872
  • Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 4, Vienna 1877, pp. 13-42, 54-55, 415-512, 513-514, 519-522
  • Franke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee. I. file, Leipzig 1885
  • ÖMZ
    • Book No. 8, pp. 174-200, Vienna 1846
    • Book No. 10, p. 85, Vienna 1846
    • Book No. 12, pp.. 252-257, Vienna 1846


Harald Skala for the Saxon order of battle in November