1757 - French invasion of Hanover – French advance in Westphalia

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 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. Meanwhile, cavalry camps were assembled at Dun, Darpet (unidentified location) and Roermond. The Allies had not made any move since a while and Soubise's Reserve still occupied the same quarters. This stillness and the state of the French supplies decided d'Estrées to stay in his camp at Wesel and to move forward only when this movement would become a necessity. 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. The same day, Cumberland passed the Weser with an Allied Corps (about 11,000 men) and marched towards Paderborn and Lippspringe (present-day Bad Lippspringe). The Prussians remained at Bielefeld while the Allied main army was at Brackwede and a detachment was posted at Rietberg to cover communications with Paderborn.

On May 20 and 21, d'Estrées marched from Wesel to Dorsten. Meanwhile, Soubise advanced with his Reserve from Hamm to Lippstadt, de Muy replacing him at Hamm; Villemeur advanced from Dülmen to Münster; and Laval with his 5 remaining bns marched to Hamm.

By May 22, all French cavalry regiments (34 sqns) ordered to assembled 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 reintegrated the main army. Meanwhile, the Duc d'Orléans left Wesel with the remaining division of the main army.

By May 26, Cumberland had advanced a corps into the Bishopric of Paderborn. This corps encamped between Nienbus (unidentified location) and Paderborn. Cumberland had left the Prussian regiments in Bielefeld and his main 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. These news decided d'Estrées 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.

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 established his headquarters in Münster. He also 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. Another 32 sqns were still at Roermond while 19 bns and 14 sqns were blockading Geldern. Finally, Soubise was in the area of Lippstadt with 20 bns and 20 sqns. The same day, Cumberland was at Bielefeld and Rietberg with 20,000 men while a Hanoverian corps (about 11,000 men) was at Paderborn and the Allied main army at Brackwede.

On June 2, the corps under the Chevalier de Muy set out from Hamm and undertook a four days march towards Herzebrock. The same day, the Hanoverian corps at Paderborn retired and made a junction with the Allied main army at Brackwede.

By June 3, most of the French main army was assembled in front of Münster while the Reserve was stationed at Lippstadt. The same day, the first line (67 bns, 37 sqns) of the French main army marched from Münster to Telgte. Meanwhile, the second line arrived at Warendorf. Furthermoe, 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.

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 Allies were encamped at Brackwede. They also held Rietberg. The French had not yet determined whether they would attack this post, 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 same day, the Allies were busy assembling and burning forages to make the advance of the French army more difficult.

A few days before, a party of 20 men from Bentheim Infanterie, commanded by a lieutenant, had been surprised and captured while foraging in Tecklenburg. Only 6 of them managed to escape.

By June 6, d'Estrées had moved his army to Lembs (unidentified location) where it was encamped in several corps which arrived successively. The Reserve, consisting of 8 grenadier battalions and of one dragoon regiment, remained at Telgte. The corps under the Chevalier de Muy arrived at Herzebrock and encamped there. The heavy and continual rain which lasted for several days had broken most of the communications and bridges who 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 Hanoverian and Hessian corps which were near Paderborn made their junction with the Allied main army who was still encamped at Brackwede. Since this junction, 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, the rest of Soubise's Reserve arrived to Wiedenbrück. The Reserve encamped there with his left near Rheda. The Reserve was now only 3 km from the right wing of the French main army. Companies of Volontaires de l'armée and the Chasseurs de Fischer were posted at approximately 8 km from the Allies.

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 chasseur 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 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.

On June 11, the Allies moved their left wing closer to Brackwede. The weather being very bad, d'Estrées postponed the passage of the Ems.

On June 12, the French main army passed the Ems and reached Rheda and Wiedenbrück while the Prince de Soubise marched to Neuenkirchen near Rietberg.

On June 13, d'Estrées went to Neuenkirchen to discuss of the results of this reconnaissance with Soubise. They resolved to march on the enemy left flank as soon as possible. The date of the attack was fixed 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. Meanwhile, 300 volunteers supported by 8 grenadier coys moved to Marienfeld. The Volontaires Royaux were at Gütersloh and Turpin's detachment had advanced on Holte. The same day, seeing the French corps converging onto his positions, Cumberland abandoned Brackwede at 4:00 p.m. and retired towards Bielefeld. 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.

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 informed that he would continue to observe the march of the Allies by moving halfway to Herford where they were heading. Soubise had also detached the Comte de Lorges with 12 grenadier coys and 200 horse but they too arrived too late for the action.

On June 15, the Prince de Beauvau continued to harass the Allied rearguard up to Herford, a small fortified town. The Allies left an important detachment in Herford. A party of volunteers advanced too close to this town which was supported 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 Allies were reputed more important. General Jankem's son was killed. The Chasseurs de Fischer captured some baggage. A large quantity of brandy and of fodder was found in the Allied camp. The entire Allied army took the road of Rehme and Waltaw (unidentified location) where it had bridges on the Weser. 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, evacuated by the Allies. Meanwhile, Soubise along with Saint-Germain were suddenly recalled in 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; the rest of the Reserve under M. de Broglie marched by the left towards the Lower Weser to cover East Frisia. The Allied army crossed the Weser. 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. In fact, Cumberland establised his headquarters near Minden, his two main magazines being at Minden and 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 French 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 which 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, the Prussian main corps was at Minden with another corps at Hameln. The same day, 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.

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. The Allied army was still in the same position. D'Estrées ordered several detachments to reconnoitre these positions. These detachments advanced up to Rehme and Worthauve (unidentified location). One of them was under Bercheny who advanced in front of Herford while two others were sent to Rehme and Worthauve. There were some skirmishes between both vanguards. The same day, the Allies concentrated most of their forces at Minden, leaving a strong corps at Hameln.

By June 27, the French main army was still at Bielefeld, but d'Estrées had sent reinforcements to Broglie.

On June 28, the announce that the Chasseurs de Fischer (500 horses, 600 men) would lodge in Frankfurt created quite an emotion 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.

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 et M. de Sey to reconnoitre Emden from different directions. Meanwhile, Dauvet was taking 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 summon 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 was captured and hostages were given to guarantee the terms of capitulation. 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 while Broglie's Reserve remained in its position between Herford and Minden. For his part, Souvré remained at Lemgo. An officer dispatched by M. d'Auvet arrived from East Frisia, bringing the news of the capture of Emden. The last news about the Allies were that they were still encamped with their right at Minden.

On July 6, d'Armentières marched from Lippspringe to Driburg (present-day Bad Driburg).

On July 7, d'Estrées left Bielefeld while d'Armentières marched from Driburg to Erkeln with his Reserve. During the evening, d’Armentières 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 were 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; and Souvré advanced on Trendelburg. The same day at noon, d’Armentières crossed the Weser with 15 grenadier coys to clear the countryside on the opposite bank and he then advanced 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 retired in the woods. The Allies were still holding their positions at Minden. D’Armentieres came back to Fürstenberg with his Reserve and encamped there.

On July 9 at night, d'Estrées himself got on march 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. Meanwhile, 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 bridge downstream to Höxter while the Duc d'Orléans reached this town with the rest of his corps.

On July 12, d'Armentières moved his second bridge downstream to Trendelburg while Souvré threw a third bridge near the same town; Contades replaced the Duc d'Orléans at Warburg where he received the submission of Kassel, Marburg and all of Hesse. The same day, 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) were taken prisoners.

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 Tonnembourg (unknown location) while d'Armentières marched from Blankenau to Luchtringen. According to the advices that he had received, the Maréchal suspended the advance of the Duc d’Orléans' Corps (28 bns and 32 sqns) which was heading for Hesse. The Prince remained with the army and d'Estrées sent Contades to Kassel with 4 infantry brigades and 20 sqns. From Parbourg (maybe Warburg or Passberg?), Contades informed that he met the Great Esquire of the Landgrave 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.

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.

On July 16, all dispositions being 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 Oldendorf (present-day Stadtoldendorf) 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. The same day, M. de Perreuse, with 1 infantry brigade and 1 cavalry brigade, made himself master of Göttingen. At the first summon, 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 ammunition.

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 same day, 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. Meanwhile, the Duc d'Orléans (100 grenadier coys and all dragoon rgts) was sent forward to drive out the Allies from the gorge of Oldendorf, to reconnoitre the march of the main army and to protect d'Armentières in front of Oldendorf. 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. The same day, the Duke of Cumberland took position at Wegensen with 8,000 men to observe the movements of the French army.

On July 19, d'Armentières was before the pass of Oldendorf while Broglie was still on the left bank of the Weser. The same day, Cumberland detached Lieutenant-General Zastrow with 12,000 to seize this important pass. However, when Zastrow realised that the French were already occupying the pass, he resolved to force march to rejoin Cumberland's army at Latferde on the Weser. In the evening d'Estrées sent the Duc d'Orléans, the Duc de Chevreuse and M. de Chevert forward with 100 grenadier coys and all the dragoons of his army to hold the gorge leading from Scharf-Oldendorf to Einbeck.

On July 20, the French Army, leaving its camp at Holtzminden, marched to Oldendorf. It covered its advance with a detachment of 88 grenadier coys and of all its dragoons under the Duc d’Orléans. The enemy, who still had a few troops in the defiles of Wickensen, Eschershausen and Halle, retired and the French Army encamped at Oldendorf. When the first line of the main army reached Scharfoldendorf, the Duc d'Orléans marched on Wegensen and the Duke of Cumberland advanced to Halle.

On July 21, the French army remained at Oldendorf but Maillebois with the Volontaires de Flandre, the Volontaires du Hainaut and the Grenadiers Royaux de Solar was sent in vanguard towards Halle.

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 Oldendorf 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 during the day, went personally with the princes on 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 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, who was just arriving, quickly moved to the battlefield and immediately reconnoitred it. The Allies retired and the French army returned to its camp. The size of the Allied detachment was estimated between 3 to 6,000 men. The same day, Cumberland resolved to make a stand at Hameln; his army assembled at Hastenbeck with outposts on its front and flanks.

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 that the enemy strongly occupied. This 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 to 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, 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. Cumberland then drew up his army on the height between the Weser and the woods, with his right towards the river and his left close to the woods, the village of Hastenbeck being to his front. 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 leave the heights. 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. At 6:00 p.m., a war council was called to discuss of 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 laid 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.

In the night of July 24 to 25, d'Estrées was informed that the enemy was retiring. Consequently, he took new dispositions and sent back M. de Vogüé towards the heights.

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 in replacement of d'Estrées. Furthermore, 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 Soubise's army 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) at daybreak, Vogüé arrived near the heights. 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 while Broglie's Corps passed the Weser. 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. This part of the Allied positions was supported by batteries and a redoubt. The interval between these hills and the village of Hastenbeck was traversed by seven or eight very deep ravines. 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. On the Allied side, it was protected by a plateau where they had established guns. The Village of Hastenbeck was in the centre. The Allied positions prevented any frontal assault. The French considered to attack its left flank. M. de Randan's Reserve, just arrived from Embeck 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. Throughout the day, the French severely cannonaded Allied positions day. The Allied army spent another night under arms.

Battle of Hastenbeck

On July 26, it was agreed that the French attack would be initiated by Chevert and that the army would advance upon his signal. A considerable fog raised at daybreak and the armies could see each other only at 6:00 a.m. The Allies then began a cannonade which 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.

In the night of July 26 to 27, the Allied army started its retreat towards Minden.


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
  • 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

Other sources

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