1757 - French invasion of Hanover – French advance in Westphalia
The campaign lasted from March to November 1757. This article describes the second phase of the campaign from May 18 to July 26, 1757.
The preparations of the French and of the Allies for the campaign, the advance of the French on the Lower Rhine, their occupation of Wesel and the penetration of the French vanguards into Westphalia are described in our article 1757 - French invasion of Hanover – Preparations and initial moves (January 1 to May 17, 1757).
French advance in Westphalia
On May 18
- Du Roi Infanterie arrived in Büderich near Wesel to work at the entrenchment of the bridgehead.
- Cavalry camps were assembled at Dun, Darpet (unidentified location) and Roermond.
- Soubise's Reserve still occupied the same quarters.
- D'Estrées decided to stay in his camp at Wesel and to move forward only when this movement would become a necessity, because of the inactivity of the Allies and the state of the French supplies. He suspended the march of Villemeur's Corps from Dülmen to harmonize it with the other movements of his army.
- The Marquis de Laval, maréchal de camp, was still encamped in Haltern with 6 bns and 6 sqns.
- Cumberland detached G.d.I. von Zastrow at the head of 12 bns and 18 sqns towards Paderborn and Lippspringe (present-day Bad Lippspringe).
- The Prussians remained at Bielefeld.
On May 19
- Cumberland advanced from Bielefeld and Herford and encamped near Brackwede in the Teutoburger Wald while a detachment took position at Rietberg to cover communications with Paderborn.
On May 20
- Zastrow reached Paderborn. He let the garrison of the place (an infantry regiment belonging to Kurköln) retire from the city. He then left 100 men in Paderborn as garrison.
On May 20 and 21
- D'Estrées marched from Wesel to Dorsten.
- Soubise advanced with his Reserve from Hamm to Lippstadt, while de Muy replaced him at Hamm.
- Villemeur advanced from Dülmen to Münster
- Laval with his 5 remaining bns marched to Hamm.
By May 22, all French cavalry regiments (34 sqns) who had received orders to assemble at the camp of Roermond had reached their destination.
On May 23, Maillebois arrived at Münster.
On May 24, Maillebois left Münster to reconnoitre the valley of the Ems from Telgte to Wiedenbrück.
On May 25
- D'Estrées established his headquarters at Münster where the detachment under the Prince de Beauvau rejoined the main army.
- The Duc d'Orléans left Wesel with the remaining division of the main army.
By May 26
- D'Estrées decided to initiate a general movement with his army:
- Soubise, who was with the reserve at Hamm, advanced to Lippstadt and was replaced by six bns that de Muy had in Dortmund and five bns that de Laval commanded in Haltern;
- Villemeur marched on Nieder-Dülmen and was joined by 18 bns from the camp of Wesel;
- D'Estrées arrived in Münster, passing by Dorsten and Haltern, and reconnoitring this part of the Lippe.
- D'Estrées decided to initiate a general movement with his army:
- Zastrow's Corps was still in the Bishopric of Paderborn, encamped between Nienbus (unidentified location) and Paderborn.
- The Prussian regiments had been left in Bielefeld
- Cumberland's Army was encamped at Brackwede. He continued to occupy the post of Rietberg to cover the communication of his main army with the corps near Paderborn.
From May 26 to 30, the Hessian contingent (about 8,000 men) marched from Stade to the camp of Hameln where it made its junction with a Hanoverian corps. The Allied army then counted about 45,000 men and consisted of:
- Hanoverian contingent (26 bns, 34 sqns)
- Hessen-Kasseler contingent (12 bns, 12 sqns)
- Brunswicker contingent (7 bns)
- Bückeburger contingent (1 bn)
- 22 field artillery pieces
On May 28
- 16 sqns from the camp of Wesel arrived in Münster and the rest of the troops remaining in Wesel under the Duc d’Orléans started the same movement.
- The camp of Münster was organized into several lines between the town and the Wene. D'Estrées ordered the Duc de Brissac, commanding the cavalry corps at Neuss, to march on Wesel.
- The cavalry camp of Roermond remained unchanged.
- Maillebois returned from a reconnaissance ordered by d'Estrées on the Ems from Tillgit to Ridemburg.
On May 29 and 30, the Duc de Brissac left Neuss with his cavalry corps and gradually reached Wesel. Some French cavalry rgts were still cantoned at Roermond.
By May 31
- French light troops and various detachments guarded the Ems. Parties reconnoitred Allied positions to the east of the Ems around Brackwede and Paderborn. These parties entrenched themselves in these outposts, ready to join the French main army if necessary.
- The French Reserve was still in Lippstadt and consisted of 26 bns and 18 sqns. From Lippstadt, it could join the main army in a single short march.
By June 1
- D'Estrées had 67 bns and 37 sqns at Münster.
- 32 sqns were still at Roermond.
- 19 bns and 14 sqns were blockading Geldern.
- Soubise was in the area of Lippstadt with 20 bns and 20 sqns.
- Cumberland was at Bielefeld and Rietberg with 20,000 men.
- Zastrow's Corps was at Paderborn.
- The Allied main army was at Brackwede.
On June 2
- The corps under the Chevalier de Muy set out from Hamm and undertook a four days march towards Herzebrock.
By June 3
- Most of the French main army was assembled in front of Münster while the Reserve was stationed at Lippstadt.
- The first line (67 bns, 37 sqns) of the French main army marched from Münster to Telgte. Meanwhile, the second line arrived at Warendorf.
- A detachment sent by Soubise towards Paderborn, reached Gesece.
On June 4
- The first line of the French main army marched from Telgte to Warendorf.
- Cumberland recalled Zastrow's Corps from Paderborn to the main army at Brackwede. The only remaining Allied outpost was now at Rietberg.
On June 5
- The second line of the French main army made a junction with the first at Warendorf while the Reserve (8 grenadier bns, 1 dragoon rgt) took position at Telgte. The terrible rains of the last days having made communications impracticable, the general movement of the Reserve was slowed down.
- The French had not yet determined whether they would attack the post of Rietberg, or leave it behind or in front. It looked more likely that it would be abandoned. However, according to news received the previous day, it appeared that the Allies had sent a convoy of salted meat to Brackwede.
- The Allies were busy assembling and burning forages to make the advance of the French army more difficult.
By June 6
- D'Estrées had moved his army to Lembs (unidentified location) where it was encamped in several corps which arrived successively. The continual heavy rain of the last several days had broken most of the communications and bridges that had been built for the various columns of the army. These obstacles, along with the nature of the country, rendered the march very difficult.
- The Reserve, consisting of 8 grenadier bns and of 1 dragoon rgt, remained at Telgte.
- The corps under the Chevalier de Muy arrived at Herzebrock and encamped there.
- Zastrow's Corps made its junction with the main army, which was still encamped at Brackwede.
Since the junction of Zastrow's and Cumberland's corps, d'Estrées had sent forward several important detachments to observe them and to reconnoitre their positions.
On June 7, as instructed, Soubise marched towards Wiedenbrück with part of his corps to pass the Ems.
On June 8
In the night of June 8 to 9, the Chasseurs de Fischer, who occupied the Marienfeld Abbey, were attacked by 4 Hanoverian grenadier coys (each of 120 men) and by approximately 200 horse. Only one mounted coy and one foot coy sustained the attack and their fire was so effective that the enemy quickly retired. The Hanoverians lost their infantry commander and had several men wounded. The Chasseurs de Fischer lost the captain of the chasseurs à cheval and two grenadiers. They also had a lieutenant and two soldiers wounded. During the same night, the Allies (1,500 men) evacuated Rietberg.
On June 9
- D'Estrées went to Rheda where he met with Soubise. They discussed the movements of the army. D'Estrées then reconnoitred the camp that he planned to occupy on June 11 in front of Wiedenbrück and Rheda. On his arrival there, he learned of the evacuation of Rietberg by the Allies. The detachments and the volunteers of Soubise's Reserve immediately occupied Rietberg. D'Estrées then instructed Soubise to reconnoitre the left of the enemy position.
On June 10
- The second division of the French main army reached Herzebrock.
- Cumberland had 52 bns and 38 sqns with him at Brackwede. The Hanoverian grenadiers had been converged in 3 bns; those of Hessen-Kassel, in 2 bns; and those of Brunswick, in 2 bns.
- 4 bns and 4 sqns were at Nienburg.
- 2 bns and 4 sqns were at Hameln.
- II./Salmuth Fusiliers was at Minden.
On June 11
- The weather being very bad, d'Estrées postponed the passage of the Ems.
- Cumberland moved his left wing closer to Brackwede.
On June 12
- The main army passed the Ems and reached Rheda and Wiedenbrück.
- The Prince de Soubise marched to Neuenkirchen near Rietberg.
On June 13
- D'Estrées went to Neuenkirchen to discuss the results of recent reconnaissance with Soubise. They resolved to march on the enemy left flank as soon as possible. The date of the attack was set to June 18.
- The Chasseurs de Fischer, supported by a detachment of 700 dragoons under M. de Lillebonnne, marched on the Allies' right at Herford.
- 300 Volontaires de l'armée supported by 8 grenadier coys moved to Marienfeld.
- The Volontaires Royaux were at Gütersloh and Turpin's detachment had advanced on Holte.
- Sseeing the French corps converging onto his positions, Cumberland abandoned Brackwede at 4:00 p.m. and retired towards Bielefeld.
In the night of June 13 to 14, as soon as he was informed of the march of the Allies, d'Estrées sent 10 grenadier coys, 10 piquets and 300 horse under the Prince de Beauvau to support M. de Chabot's Volontaires Royaux who marched the whole night. The Prussian troops, who formed Cumberland's rearguard, were mistakenly fired upon by Brunswicker troops who ignored that there were Prussian units behind them. Jungkenn Müntzer Fusiliers lost 200 men to friendly fire including Lieutenant von Haugwitz of Salmuth Fusiliers killed; Captain von Collas and Captain F. von Jungkenn from Jungkenn Müntzer Fusiliers wounded; and Lieutenant von Mellinghausen wounded and later taken prisoner at Bielefeld.
On June 14
- At day break, the Volontaires Royaux attacked an Allied detachment covering the retreat at Bielefeld. M. du Chayla distinguished himself by forcing this post. He lost 5 officers killed or wounded and many volunteers. The Allied detachment, forced to retire, abandoned some equipment, losing 100 men killed and many prisoners. The Prince de Beauvau arrived too late to take part in the action. He sent word that he would continue to observe the march of the Allies by moving halfway to Herford where they were heading.
- Soubise also detached the Comte de Lorges with 12 grenadier coys and 200 horse but they too arrived too late for the action.
- Cumberland's Army finally reached Gohfeld in the evening after a march of 24 hours and took some rest.
On June 15
- The Prince de Beauvau continued to harass the Allied rearguard up to Herford, a small fortified town. The Allies left a large detachment in Herford. A party of volunteers advanced too close to this town which was defended by the entire Hanoverian rearguard. In this action, 15 French volunteers were killed or wounded but the overall losses of the French were no more than 30 men and 5 officers. The losses of the Allies were reported to be higher. The Chasseurs de Fischer captured some baggage. A large quantity of brandy and of fodder was found in the Allied camp.
- In the morning, the Prussian brigade left the Allied army at Gohfeld and retired directly to Minden.
- In the evening, the Allied army resumed its march towards the Weser.
In the night of June 15 to 16, the Allied army finally crossed the Weser unmolested at Rehme and encamped near Holzhausen. French parties were blocked at Herford and the detachment sent from Lemgo was not yet in position. The French took some 100 prisoners, including an officer. Furthermore, more than 80 Allies deserted at Rheda and a further 200 in the Bishopric of Osnabrück.
On June 16
- The Comte de Lorges entered into Herford, which had been evacuated by the Allies.
- Soubise and Saint-Germain were suddenly recalled to Versailles to discuss a plan of action to counter Frederick's recent successes in Bohemia.
- D'Estrées immediately reorganised the Reserve formerly under Soubise's command. A corps under M. d'Armentières marched by the right towards Paderborn, while the rest of the Reserve under M. de Broglie marched by the left towards the Lower Weser to cover East Frisia.
- According to M. de Lostanges, who saw the Allied right moving to Minden, there were now only a few detachments left on the west bank of the Weser. It was likely that the Allied army was now dividing itself into several corps of observation.
- After the passage of the Weser, Cumberland assembled vessels at Hameln, Minden and Nienburg and fortified all fords over the river. Strong detachments were left on the left bank of the Weser in the area of Rehme to observe the movements of the French army.
- Cumberland established his headquarters near Minden, with his two main magazines at Minden and Hameln.
D'Estrées chose Paderborn to establish his new main magazines, planning to resume his advance on July 8 and to lay siege to Hameln.
|Order of Battle|
|Detailed order of battle of the French main army while it was encamped at Bielefeld between June 20 and July 7 1757|
On June 18
- The main army marched towards Bielefeld to pursue the retiring Allied army. However, the French artillery could not keep pace. D'Estrées intended to throw bridges over the Weser to penetrate into Hesse, but he resolved to wait for the arrival of the Palatine Contingent (6,000 men) expected to make a junction with his army around July 6. D'Estrées was also awaiting 12 sqns that were marching from Roermond to join him.
By June 20, most of the French army had concentrated at Bielefeld, encamped in two lines with the town of Bielefeld in its centre, with d'Armentières' Corps between Oerlinghausen and Detmold, and Broglie in the County of Ravensberg.
On June 24
- D'Estrées sent 2 detachments to reconnoitre the Weser. These detachments reported that the Allies had a bridge across the Weser at Vlotho, in front of their right wing, and another one at Rehme. D'Estrées was building ovens at Paderborn but these could not be ready before July 8 and it was impossible for the French army to advance further on Hameln without an intermediary depot.
- D'Estrées now had the choice between laying siege to Hameln or invading Hesse. He had a preference for Hesse because this would allow him to link with the Reichsarmee operating in Franconia.
- The Prussian brigade was at Minden.
- Cumberland's Army was near Hameln.
French occupation of Hesse
On June 25
- D’Armentières' Reserve was sent to Oerlinghausen to cover the right flank of the army.
- Broglie's Reserve marched to Enger to cover the French left and to observe the Allied right wing near Minden.
- D'Estrées ordered several detachments to reconnoitre the Allies’ positions. These detachments advanced up to Rehme and Vlotho. One of them, under Bercheny advanced in front of Herford while two more were sent to Rehme and Vlotho. There were some skirmishes between both vanguards.
- Cumberland sent 2,000 picked troops under Major-General von Brunck to reinforce the militia garrisoning Hameln. The Hessians encamped at Dankersen near Minden.
By June 27, the French main army was still at Bielefeld, but d'Estrées had sent reinforcements to Broglie.
On June 28, the news that the Chasseurs de Fischer (500 horses, 600 men) would be quartered in Frankfurt created quite a stir in this city.
At the end of June, d'Auvet with a detachment of 1,000 men was sent to East Frisia to raise contributions. The Fortress of Emden constituted the sole protection of East Frisia. The fortress was defended by the Ostfriese Garnison-Bataillon (300 men by the end of June) and the population of East Frisia was disinclined to resist. The Land Militia that Frederick planned to create had not yet been raised.
On July 1, d'Estrées detached MM. de Souvré and de Chevert to respectively march to Lemgo and Herford with particular instructions.
By July 2, M. d'Auvet detached M. de Lillebonne, M. de La Chatre and M. de Sey to reconnoitre Emden from different directions. They were received with cannonballs. In the evening, 200 men of the garrison deserted. Meanwhile, Dauvet was making his dispositions to assault the town.
On July 3
- At 7:00 a.m., Lillebonne was informed that 70 deserters were at one of his outposts and that disorder reigned in Emden. He took advantage of these circumstances to summon the commander of the place to surrender. The officer sent with this summons found the inhabitants willing to surrender. After a temporary capitulation, he took possession of the posts and d'Auvet entered into Emden an hour later. The garrison (16 officers, 95 men and 3 civil servants) was captured and hostages were given to guarantee the terms of capitulation. A contribution of 2 millions Gulden had to be paid. D'Auvet had completely fulfilled his mission.
On July 5
- Chevert made demonstrations in front of Rehme and Vlotho to draw the attention of the Allies while the Duc d'Orléans (28 bns, 28 sqns, 4 hussar sqns) left at night from Bielefeld towards Brakel in the general direction of Hesse to support the advanced corps.
- D’Armentières' Reserve moved to its right from Oerlinghausen to Lippspringe.
- Broglie's Reserve remained in its position between Herford and Minden.
- Souvré remained at Lemgo.
- An officer dispatched by M. d'Auvet arrived at d’Estrées’ headquarters from East Frisia, bringing the news of the capture of Emden.
On July 6, d'Armentières marched from Lippspringe to Driburg (present-day Bad Driburg).
On July 7
- D'Estrées left Bielefeld.
- D'Armentières marched from Driburg to Erkeln with his Reserve. During the evening, he advanced with 25 grenadier coys and 400 carabiniers on the heights of Beverungen. He wanted to reconnoitre the site where he planned to build a bridge between the villages of Beverungen and Blankenau across the Weser. There was a Hanoverian force of 200 foot and 400 horse in the village of Lauenförde, on the other bank of the Weser, opposite Beverungen. It retired as soon as d'Armentières took his dispositions to occupy Beverungen with a party of grenadiers and hussars. D'Armentières then advanced at night with the rest of his detachment to Blankenau where he slept.
On July 8
- D'Estrées personally went to Brakel to supervise the building of bridges on the Weser, leaving the command of the main army to M. de Bercheny.
- Between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., d’Armentières established two bridges over the Weser at Blankenau, unopposed.
- Broglie held the left bank from Bodenwerder.
- Chevert marched along the Weser towards Corvey.
- Souvré advanced on Trendelburg.
- At noon, d’Armentières crossed the Weser with 15 grenadier coys to clear the countryside on the opposite bank, advancing up to Boffzen. On his way, he sent troops to occupy the Castle of Fürstenberg, which the Allies had abandoned so rapidly that 200 haversacks had been left behind. From Boffzen, d'Armentières detached M. d'Emery and M. Baudoin, aides maréchaux généraux des logis, with 300 volunteers to reconnoitre the east bank of the Weser up to Bevern and Forst. They met only a few parties of jägers who retireded in the woods. D’Armentières came back to Fürstenberg with his Reserve and encamped there.
- The Allies were still holding their positions at Minden.
On July 9
- At night, d'Estrées marched from Bielefeld with 60,000 men, planning to receive a reinforcement of 10,000 men on his way to Hanover.
- Cumberland had previously retreated behind the Ems.
On July 10
- D'Estrées personally reached Blankenau, establishing his headquarters at the Corvey Abbey.
- Contades was detached with part of the corps of the Duc d'Orléans to make himself master of Hesse. M. de Perreuse, was sent forward by Contades to seize Münden on the Upper Weser.
On July 11
- D'Armentières moved one of his bridges downstream to Höxter.
- The Duc d'Orléans reached Höxter with the rest of his corps.
- Cumberland retired towards Hameln.
- La Motte, fearing to he would cut off from Magdeburg, left the Allied army with the Prussian Contingent and marched by Wolfenbüttel towards Magdeburg.
On July 12
- D'Armentières moved his second bridge downstream to Trendelburg.
- Souvré threw a third bridge over the Weser near Trendelburg.
- Contades replaced the Duc d'Orléans at Warburg where he received the submission of Kassel, Marburg and all of Hesse.
- M. de Pereuse, maréchal de camp, who had previously advanced on Münden with a cavalry brigade, sent a courier to d'Estrées to inform him of the capture of Münden. The garrison (300 Hanoverians) was taken prisoners.
- Cumberland's Army arrived at Hameln. Cumberland immediately detached Lieutenant-Colonel von Fersen with 300 foot and 60 horse to the vicinity of Polle and Major von Freytag with the Jägerkorps to Eschershausen.
- There were still detachments at Minden (4 bns and some cavalry), Döhren (1 bn, 2 sqns) and Nienburg (2 bns, 2 sqns).
On July 13
- D'Estrées awaited the corps of M. de Souvré and M. de Chevert and part of the Duc d’Orléans's Corps. The French main army arrived at Corvey. D'Estrées established two pontoon bridges at Tonenburg.
- D'Armentières marched from Blankenau to Luchtringen.
- Reacting to the advices that he had received, the Maréchal d’Estrées suspended the advance of the Duc d’Orléans' Corps (28 bns and 32 sqns), which was heading for Hesse. The Prince de Beauvau remained with the army.
- D'Estrées sent Contades to Kassel with 4 infantry brigades and 20 sqns. From Parbourg (maybe Warburg or Passberg?), Contades reported that he had met the Great Esquire of the Landgrave of Hesse Kassel who assured him of the submission of the country and of the willingness of this prince to supply the French army with all the help that his country could afford. Contades received hostages to guarantee the agreement and French troops marched to occupy Kassel.
- The Prussian Contingent reached Magdeburg.
On July 14, d'Armentières' corps made a junction with de Lorges' at Luchtringen.
On July 15
- Kassel was given up to the French and Contades entered into the city. He then sent 1 bn to Münden to relieve Salis Brigade, which then marched on Göttingen.
- In the evening, Major-General von Hardenberg reinforced Freytag at Eschershausen with 7 grenadier bns.
On July 16
- All dispositions having been made to cross the Weser, the French army encamped at Corvey in six columns. The infantry crossed to the right bank of the Weser on 3 bridges and the cavalry forded it. D'Estrées established his headquarters in Holtzminden where he was joined by Chevert's and Souvré's Corps. D'Estrées sent a detachment of 800 foot to chase Allied parties from the Forest of Solling.
- M. de Chevreuse also left with a detachment in the morning, advancing towards Scharfoldendorf and reconnoitring the movements of the Allies near the defile of Wickensen.
- Broglie remained on the left bank of the Weser in front of Blomberg.
- M. de Perreuse, with 1 infantry brigade and 1 cavalry brigade, made himself master of Göttingen. At the first summons, the commander of the place surrendered and the garrison of about 200 men was taken prisoners. In the town, the French found 8 cast iron guns along with 11 iron guns and a few rounds of ammunition.
- Major-General von Fürstenberg took position at Halle to maintain communication with the Allied outposts at Polle and Eschershausen.
On July 17
- D'Estrées recalled most of Contades' Corps from Hesse, leaving Contades with only 11 bns and 10 sqns in Hesse and Vastan Infanterie (1 bn) to occupy Marburg.
- The Allies left Minden and advanced to Hameln where they encamped, their right at Afferde and their left at Hastenbeck.
On July 18
- The French generals learned that the town of Göttingen had submitted to their troops.
- M. de Langeron with a strong detachment drove Allied troops out of the Forest of Solling.
- In the evening, the Duc d'Orléans, the Duc de Chevreuse and M. de Chevert were sent forward with 100 grenadier coys and all the dragoons of the army to drive the Allies out of the gorge leading from Scharfoldendorf to Einbeck, to reconnoitre the march of the main army and to protect d'Armentières in front of Scharfoldendorf. The Duc d'Orléans detached M. de Randan with 1 infantry brigade and 1 cavalry brigade to Einbeck while a similar force returning from Göttingen reinforced his own corps.
- Cumberland advanced the second line (8,000 men) of his army to Wegensen to observe the movements of the French army.
On July 19
- D'Armentières was before the pass of Scharfoldendorf .
- Broglie was still on the left bank of the Weser.
- Cumberland personally reconnoitred the pass leading from Eschershausen to Wickensen.
- Cumberland detached Lieutenant-General Zastrow with 12,000 men to seize the important pass of Scharfoldendorf. However, when Zastrow realised that the French were already occupying the pass, he resolved to make a force march to rejoin Cumberland's army at Latferde on the Weser.
On July 20
- The French Army, leaving its camp at Holtzminden, marched to Scharfoldendorf. It covered its advance with a detachment of 88 grenadier coys and all its dragoons under the Duc d’Orléans. The Allies, who still had a few troops in the defiles of Wickensen, Eschershausen and Halle, retired and the French Army encamped at Scharfoldendorf. When the first line of the main army reached Scharfoldendorf, the Duc d'Orléans marched on Wegensen.
- The detachments of the Duc de Randan and the Lieutenant-General Perreuse effected a junction and took position on the road to Hanover.
- Hardenberg and Freytag retired from their outposts and rejoined the main Allied army.
- Major-General von Dachenhausen with 2 dragoon rgts marched to Alfeld where he effected a junction with Major von Stockhausen's Corps returning from Einbeck.
On July 21
On July 22
- D'Armentières with the vanguard took position on d'Estrées' left at Heyen with his right reaching the Lenne while M. de Randan was on d'Estrées' right at Einbeck.
- The French army left Scharfoldendorf to move on Halle while Maillebois reconnoitred the positions occupied by the Allies in the villages of Bergen (unknown location) and Fringheim (unknown location). A small skirmish took place but it ceased as soon as Maillebois had finished his reconnaissance.
- D'Estrées, who arrived early in the day, accompanied the princes to a height in the plain between these two villages and the one of Herven (unknown location), where he had just established his headquarters. D'Estrées, after testing the defences of Bergen and Fringheim villages with a few volunteers, did not see fit to attack them and retired.
- The Allies took advantage of this movement to advance a cavalry corps on the height just abandoned by the French. This induced d'Estrées to call la générale. The entire French army, which was just arriving on the field, quickly deployed to face the enemy. The Allies retired and the French army returned to its camp. The size of the Allied detachment was estimated between 3,000 to 6,000 men.
- Broglie's Corps was at Grohnde on the left bank of the Weser.
- Cumberland resolved to make a stand at Hameln.
On July 23
- It was decided that Contades, at the head of 30 grenadier coys and 3 dragoon regiments, would advance on the village of Brockensen at nightfall. This village was just below Bergen, which the enemy had strongly occupied. Contades’ detachment was supported by d'Armentières' Reserve who would operate on Binghen (unknown location), and by the Marquis de Vogüé, with 14 grenadier coys, the Volontaires de Flandre and the Volontaires du Hainaut. M. de Vogüé occupied the heights of Apseste, in the woods on the Allied left, coming into contact with Allied parties at Heyen. The Volontaires de Flandre and the Volontaires de Hainaut drove these parties back to the village of Börry, where they were soon joined by Cumberland at the head of 8,000 men.
On July 24
- Manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres
- D'Estrées started his movement at 2:00 a.m. to observe the effects of Contades' detachment. His army followed him and he arrived on the height at daybreak. The Allies had abandoned the villages of Fringheim and Bergen. They had retired to Latferde and held the heights and the woods bordering the Weser.
- Between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., Cumberland placed his army under arms between the Weser and the woods, with its left wing to the south-west of Voremberg; its centre behind Hastenbeck and its right wing on the Sintelberg near Afferde. Troops of his left wing moved to Katzberg and the neighbouring heights to the west to prevent the French from debouching from the narrow passage at Völkerhausen. Then the entire army wheeled to the left, anchoring its right wing on the village of Tündern. The Allied infantry occupying Latferde retired and a few gun shots were fired by the French vanguard and by Broglie's Reserve, supporting the action from the left bank of the Weser. This cannonade induced the Allies to take shelter behind the heights covering the front of their positions.
- Meanwhile, Vogüé had seized a very good position on the heights on the Allied left. He cannonaded them for a while and informed d'Estrées that the Allies were being reinforced in front of his position. D'Estrées then instructed Vogüé to retire. The French army camped on the positions that it had just conquered with its left on the Weser, its right at the village of Bergen and the height in the centre of the line.
- In the afternoon, the Allies started working on a great battery (12 x 12-pdr guns, 6 x howitzers) at Kässiegsgrund some 500 m. east of Hastenbeck to cover their left wing. In the evening, Cumberland brought back his army behind the Haste. Furthermore, work began on a new battery (2 x 12-pdr guns and 2 x howitzers) at Schierenbrink, east of the great battery. Major-General von Dachenhausen rejoined the army. Lieutenant-Colonel von Fersen, who had been sent to Bisperode to cover the left flank, was ordered to take position on a narrow road between Afferde and Diedersen where a detachment (3 bns and 2 sqns) under Colonel von Breidenbach had been posted since morning.
- At 6:00 p.m., d'Estrées called a war council to discuss a possible attack. Since the approaches were very difficult, it was resolved to reconnoitre them and to chase the enemy away by a flanking manoeuvre.
- In the evening, Cumberland withdrew all his outposts at Börry and the army lay on their arms at Hastenbeck all night. The same day, Broglie was still on the left bank of the Weser, ready to advance on the rear of the Allied army; and Randan with 2 infantry brigades and 15 sqns was at Bisperode on the highway leading to Hanover.
D'Estrées then instructed Broglie to stand ready to cross to the right bank of the Weser with his corps.
In the night of July 24 to 25, d'Estrées was informed that the enemy was retiring. Consequently, he took new dispositions and sent M. de Vogüé back towards the heights on the Allied left.
On July 25 in Versailles, the Maréchal de Richelieu was designated as the new commander-in-chief of the French Army of the Lower Rhine, replacing d'Estrées. This was the result of Soubise intervention. He had always had a tense relationship with d'Estrées and used his influence to discredit him at the court and to convince it to replace him with the Maréchal de Richelieu. Maillebois also participated in this intrigue.
Following the Austrian victory at Kolin, on June 18, the plans for the current French campaign in Germany were altered. Instead of having an army operating in Wetteravia and another from Alsace, Louis XV resolved to simply reinforce the army destined to Soubise and to combine it with the Reichsarmee. Thus a reinforcement of 20 bns and 36 sqns (including the last 20 sqns from the camp of Roermond) was ordered to the Weser to bring Richelieu's forces to 141 bns and 156 sqns.
The same day (July 25)
- Manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres
- At daybreak, Vogüé arrived near the heights on the Allied left. D'Estrées, unaware of the events at Versailles, reconnoitred the Allied positions. He then reinforced Vogüé with 1 infantry brigade under Chevert.
- At 6:00 a.m., Maillebois was visiting the heights when an intense cannonade broke out. He estimated that a serious engagement could take place and reported to d'Estrées that Vogüé had already advanced with d'Armentières' Reserve and had reached the reconnoitred approaches of the heights of Ohsen. D'Estrées had ordered his army to follow him up. At 8:00 a.m., the French main army started to pass the heights and by 5:00 p.m., it was deployed in order of battle between Börry and Latferde, too late to launch a general attack on the Allied positions.
- Meanwhile, Broglie's Corps forded the Weser between Ohr and Kirchohsen, with his infantry riding pillion with his cavalry. The Allied outposts in front of him retired behind the Haste.
- The Allied army was already drawn up in battle lines in its camp. Its right was at Hameln and its left anchored on the woods and heights of Apserte. The Allied left was supported by batteries and a redoubt. During the day, Cumberland established another battery (4 x 6-pdr guns) 300 m. north of Hastenbeck, to cover the northern exit of the village, and sent 2 additional 12-pdrs to the battery of Kässiegsgrund.
- The French army was assembled on the Heights of Ohsen, its left reaching the Weser. There was an impassable marsh in front of the French left. The Allies had established guns protecting their right on a plateau. The Village of Hastenbeck was in the centre. The Allied positions prevented any frontal assault.
- The French considered attacking the Allied left flank. M. de Randan's Reserve, just arrived from Einbeck to Halle, was initially assigned to this task. However, d'Estrées finally assigned this operation to Chevert with the brigades of Picardie, Navarre and La Marine to which was added the brigade d'Eu, initially under M. de Randan.
- The rest of the day was employed for various dispositions and both armies cannonaded till nightfall. During the afternoon, the French planted heavy guns on a height north-west of Völkerhausen. They opened against the Allied batteries at Kässiegsgrund and Schierenbrink. Throughout the day, the French severely cannonaded Allied positions.
- The Allied army (47 bns, 3 Foot Jäger coys, 43 sqns, 2 Mounted Jäger coys, 1 hussar sqn, the Bückeburg Carabiniers with 94 3-pdr battalion guns and some 28 heavy pieces for a total of 31,000 foot and 5,000 horse) spent another night under arms. The French army (84 bns, 83 sqns for a total of 50,000 foot and 10,000 horse with 68 heavy pieces, 8 howitzers and 84 battalion guns) encamped on the north slopes of the Bückeberg and Hellberg.
Battle of Hastenbeck
On July 26, it was agreed that Chevert would lead the French attack and that the army would advance upon his signal. A considerable fog arose at daybreak and the armies could not see each other until 6:00 a.m. The Allies then began a cannonade that was feebly answered while the French still awaited Chevert's signal. The latter reached his attack position only at 8:30 a.m. and the army then began its general advance. During the ensuing Battle of Hastenbeck, confusion led both generals to order retreat. But finally, the French remained master of the battlefield while Cumberland first retired to the Heights of Hameln.
At the beginning of the retreat of the Allies, their baggage and train had been ordered to march towards Nienburg and had reached Steinbergen by the end of the day. The Allied army rested a few hours under the walls of the Fortress of Hameln while detachments still occupied the bridges and fords of the Hamel River. The Allied army started its retreat unmolested via Holtensen to Fischbeck. For their part, the French just sent a few detachments to the banks of the Hamel and fired a few cannonballs. Broglie's Corps recrossed the Weser and reoccupied its old positions at Grohnde.
Major-General von Brunck was left behind at Hameln with 1,000 foot and a few hundred militia. Half this force had escorted the baggage until it had crossed the Hamel and then taken post at the Afferde Watchtower. Brunck had been instructed to hold in Hameln for at least two days.
On July 27 at 2:00 a.m., the Allied army set off from Fischbeck and marched in the direction of Minden, passing the Weser Mountains at Steinbergen. The last troops reached Luhden late at night and the army pitched tents for the first time since July 24.
The other phases of the campaign are described in the following articles:
- French army invades Hanover (July 27 to September 14, 1757) describing the French offensive in Hanover, the retreat of the Allied army towards the sea and its capitulation at Kloster-Zeven.
- Richelieu marches towards Saxony (September 15 to November 26 1757) describing the French operations after the capitulation of the Allied army: their advance on Halberstadt, their move to support the Franco-Imperial army operating in Saxony, the revocation of the Convention of Kloster-Zeven by the Allies and the precipitous return of the French Army into Hanover.
This article incorporates texts from the following books, which are now in the public domain:
- Anonymous: A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 201-206, 217-221, 242-244
- Archenholz, J. W.: The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 79-85, 103, 124, 209
- Carlyle, T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 18
- Du Bois: Camps topographiques de la Campagne de 1757 en Westphalie etc., Le Hague, 1760
- Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 5 Hastenbeck und Roßbach, Berlin, 1903, pp. 74-113
- Jomini, Henri: Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 1-5
- Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 43-82, 91-110, 115-118
- Sichart, L. von: Geschichte Der Koniglich-hannoverschen Armee, Vol. 3 - Part 1, Hannover, 1870, pp. 231-234
Évrard P.: Praetiriti Fides
Ortenburg, Georg von: Braunschweigisches Militär, Elm Verlag, Cremlingen, 1987
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Rohan Chabot, Alix de: Le Maréchal de Belle Isle ou la revanche de Foucquet, Perrin, Paris, 2005
Service historique de l'armée de terre
- Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23
- A1 3536 – 111
- A4 29