1757 - French invasion of Hanover – French army invades Hanover
The campaign lasted from March to November 1757. This article describes the third phase of the campaign from July 27 to September 14, 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).
The French advance in Westphalia, their occupation of Hesse and the Battle of Hastenbeck are described in our article 1757 - French invasion of Hanover – French advance in Westphalia (May 18 to July 26, 1757).
French army invades Hanover
On July 27
- D'Estrées detached Fitz-James, supported by the Grenadiers de France towards Hessisch Oldendorf to observe the Allied army while he invested Hameln, sending Broglie back to the other bank of the Weser to complete the blockade. D'Estrées then summoned the governor of Hameln who refused to surrender.
- The French army plundered the surrounding villages because its supplies were running low.
- Randan occupied Bisperode.
On July 28
- D'Estrées gave a few days of rest to his army.
- Cumberland rested his army at Luhden.
- The Fortress of Hameln surrendered to the French. The regular troops of the garrison set off towards Hanover with the honours of war while 300 peasants and militiamen were taken prisoners along with all the sick and wounded left behind by the Allies. The French then occupied the fortress where they captured 72 artillery pieces.
|Order of Battle|
|Detailed order of battle of the French main army while it was encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln between July 31 and August 2 1757|
On July 29, Cumberland continued his hasty retreat undisturbed, reaching Frille.
On July 30, the Allied bns who had been left at Minden rejoined the main army.
On July 31
- D'Estrées relocated the camp of the main army on the north bank of the Hamel River.
- Broglie remained on the left bank of the Weser near Hameln.
- Randan was sent to Bisperode.
- Cumberland's Army marched northeastwards to Loccum.
- The reigning Duke of Brunswick (aka Braunschweig) quit the army.
- After a vain attempt to negotiate the neutrality of his estates with the French, Count Wilhelm von Schaumburg-Lippe brought in his last troops (2 grenadier coys, 130 artillerymen, a number of miners and carabiniers, and 24 pieces).
A recent convention between France and Denmark prohibited French troops from entering into Bremen and Verden countries unless the Allied army had previously done so.
On August 1
- Cumberland's Army resumed its march by Nienburg, encamping near Drakenburg. The troops were exhausted by the long, continuous marches and by the inadequate provisions. They loudly grumbled about the retreat. There were numerous riots, and Cumberland was forced to stop for a few days to re-establish order and obtain provisions. He did not even consider defending Nienburg because of its inadequate defensive works. Instead he sent a large part of his artillery and supplies back downstream to Bremen.
- Minden surrendered to the French and the Duke of Brunswick sent a letter to initiate negotiations.
On August 3
- The vanguard was near Lokkum.
- D'Estrées's Army left the camp that it occupied and advanced to Hessisch Oldendorf. Around 11:00 p.m., the Maréchal de Richelieu arrived in d'Estrées' camp at Oldendorf to supersede him. This change of command was due to court intrigues in Versailles.
- D'Armentières' Corps had reached Bückeburg.
- Broglie's Corps followed the main army on the left bank of the Weser and took possession of Minden before joining the main army.
- Randan was at Hammelspringe.
- The leading troops, who had left France under Richelieu's command, arrived in Hessen. The remaining troops would take the same direction and would gradually arrive during the month. These troops were intended to join the French main army. Altogether, reinforcements accompanying Richelieu amounted to 17 bns, 16 sqns, 1 artillery bn, 30 pieces, 1 miner coy, 1 worker coy and 1 light troop unit.
By August 3, the French Army of the Lower Rhine, now commanded by Richelieu, counted 129,000 men and consisted of (including the reinforcements who were underway):
- 149 infantry bns:
- 123 French regular bns
- 12 French militia bns (7,800 men)
- 4 Austrian bns (2,576 men)
- 10 Palatine bns (6,313 men)
- 4 artillery bns with 100 field guns, 6 heavy siege guns and 24 other siege guns
- 4 miners coys
- 4 worker coys
- 8 sqns of Gendarmerie de France
- 111 cavalry sqns
- 28 dragoon sqns
- 12 hussar sqns
- 4 or 5 light troop units
The objectives of the current campaign were, in addition to the capture of the small places still holding out, the defeat of the Allied army. Louis XV had favourably received the plan proposed by the Austrian Court to lay siege to Magdeburg during the following campaign in 1758. Therefore, during the present campaign, Richelieu had only to clear the left bank of the Elbe of Prussian troops so that the entire country between the Elbe and Weser could supply his own army. Meanwhile, the Prince de Soubise and Hildburghausen would cooperate with Richelieu to prepare for the capture of Magdeburg.
On August 4, Richelieu met with d'Estrées who delivered up his army and explained for a few days all things needful to the new commander, and declining his offer to be second in command.
On August 7
- D'Estrées left Oldendorf and went to the baths of Aachen. He had spent three days with Richelieu to discuss subjects related to the operations of the army.
- Richelieu marched to Münder (present-day Bad Münder) where MM. de Stalen and d'Ardemberg, deputies of the City of Hanover, met him to negotiate the capitulation of the city. Richelieu granted them the protection that they were requesting for the city and the considerations due to the houses and gardens belonging to the King of Great Britain. However, he refused them the honours of war that they were asking for the garrison, composed of militiamen and invalids who would deposit their arms and retire to their places, under condition that they will not serve again during the war.
- Richelieu also sent Eu Infanterie and Archiac Cavalerie to East Frisia to reinforce Emden.
- A deputy of Braunschweig (aka Brunswick) also arrived to submit his city to the mercy of the French king.
- Cumberland's Army set off from Drakenburg and marched towards Verden on the Aller. He left only a few jägers in Nienburg.
On August 8
- In the morning, Richelieu sent the Grenadiers de France and three dragoon regiments under the Duc de Chevreuse to take possession of Hanover.
- Richelieu also ordered the Duc de Randan to advance to Wunstorf with 2 infantry brigades, 1 of cavalry and 1 hussar regiment.
- Richelieu recalled d'Armentières' Reserve to the army. He then sent d'Armentières to take command of Broglie's Corps at Minden, which he reinforced with 14 sqns remaining at Wesel.
- Richelieu also pushed a detachment to Uchte to occupy it and to observe the movements of the enemies on the right.
- Cumberland's Army reached the Aller and encamped east of Verden to get some rest. Cumberland no longer believed that he could achieve any success with his army.
On August 10
- The main army marched from Minden to Holtensen to the southwest of the City of Hannover where it encamped. It would remain there until August 22 to make arrangements for supply and provisions.
- The Duke of Brunswick concluded an agreement with Richelieu.
Richelieu decided that his army was exhausted by disease, efforts and deprivations and that it should be given some rest before pursuing Cumberland. Meanwhile, Richelieu established magazines in Hannover. However, rumours had reached Paris that the new British Prime Minister Pitt planned to send 15,000 men to support Cumberland. Accordingly, the French Court admonished Richelieu to act more vigorously against the Allied army.
On August 11, Richelieu established his headquarters in Linden, a suburb of Hannover.
On August 12
- The Duc de Randan's Corps reached Neustadt am Rübenberge on the way to Nienburg.
- King George II gave full power to Cumberland to negotiate the neutrality of Hanover with Richelieu. He also instructed Steinberg, his ambassador in Vienna, to try to obtain the neutrality for the Electorate of Hanover, promising not to interfere as elector in the affairs in Germany. He also made similar representations in Paris through the intercession of Denmark.
On August 13, the cities of Braunschweig and Wolfenbüttel capitulated. All funds were seized and war contributions imposed.
On August 15, d'Armentières's Corps, still at Minden, was reinforced with 14 sqns arriving from Münster.
On August 16,
- Richelieu sent the Poitou, La Couronne and Conty infantry regiments along with the Royal-Cravate, Berry and Noailles cavalry regiments under the Duc d’Ayen, to occupy the Duchy of Brunswick which had submitted to French domination.
- The Duc d’Ayen detached the Marquis de Voyer to Wolfenbüttel with Poitou Infanterie and Berry Cavalerie. He established himself at Braunschweig, seconded by the Maréchal de camp Marquis de Jonsac, with the rest of the troops under his command.
- King George II wrote the following letter to Frederick II of Prussia:
- I have no help to expect from Your Majesty and I am unable to give him any. I am the victim of my good faith and of my fidelity to my commitments. Your Majesty will judge by Himself that I have no other resource than to try if it is still time to free my faithful allies and my poor subjects of the horrible slavery and of the oppression in which they are because of the unjust rage of France, always enemy of my house, and of the base ingratitude of the House of Austria.
On August 18
- Richelieu went to Nienburg where he was joined by 1 infantry brigade.
- The Volontaires Royaux advanced to Drakenburg with Bercheny Hussards to their right.
- Richelieu also reinforced the corps in East Frisia with 2 bns and 2 sqns. Furthermore, a hussar regiment had been stationed in this area with the objective of pushing detachments into the Duchy of Lüneburg.
- Richelieu reviewed his army.
- Villemmeur, who had been posted at Münster since the end of May, advanced to Meppen while some dragoons occupied Zelle.
- D'Armentières marched from Minden towards Nienburg with a reinforcement of 14 sqns arriving from Roermond.
- Cumberland was encamped at Verden behind the Lev (maybe an affluent of the Aller). He had a big detachment near Rethem and he had occupied this village with a few light troops.
On August 19, two French grenadier brigades left the main army to encamp at Neustadt am Rübenberge.
On August 20, the Duc d'Ayen took possession of Braunschweig and Wolfenbüttel, seizing 160 pieces of artillery in the first town and 20 in the latter.
On August 21, Cumberland wrote a letter to Richelieu, proposing a suspension of hostilities.
On August 22
- Richelieu refused Cumberland's proposal and the French main army marched in four columns to Wunstorf on the left bank of the Caspane, encamping in two lines with its left in front of Wunstorf and its right in front of Blumenau.
- Polleresky Hussards and some infantry joined the dragoons at Zelle.
- Turpin went to Saxony at the head of 450 hussars to raise contributions for the King of Poland, and started to raise these contributions in Gotha.
On August 23
- The main army marched from Wunstorf to Mariensee and built bridges at Gilten and Ahlden on the Aller.
- Randan's Corps joined the main army while he himself remained at Hannover to assume command of the place.
- Richelieu sent forward 40 grenadier companies, the La Marine Brigade, the Dauphin Brigade and 600 horse under the Lieutenant-General Duc de Broglie, seconded by M. de Maupeou and M. de Ségur, maréchaux de camp. The objective of this detachment was to attack the post of Rethem, which the Allies had occupied with grenadiers and supported from the other side of the river with a corps of some 5 to 6,000 men. M. de Chevreuse was to support this operation by marching towards Bothmer along the right bank of the Leine on the enemy left flank. Hearing of the march of the French detachment supported by the entire army, an Allied corps encamped at Westen advanced to cover the retreat of the corps occupying Rethem. Richelieu's dispositions however had the desired results. As Broglie approached, the Allied detachment (3,000 grenadiers and 1,500 horse) posted at Rethem on the opposite bank of the Aller, burnt part of the bridge and retired on Verden.
- Richelieu complained to the Court that his army had plenty of ovens but no bread to bake in them.
- At noon, the Allies also withdrew with much haste from the camp supporting the post of Rethem. On this occasion there were just a few shots fired between the French advanced troops and the Allied jägers.
- The Allied army withdrew to Rotenburg where it encamped in a very good position.
- The Prussians garrison of Geldern (800 men), which had been besieged since the beginning of April, finally was forced to capitulate. The Garrison Battalion La Motte was allowed to retire to Magdeburg.
On August 24
- The main army marched from Mariensee to Rodewald.
- In the morning, Broglie sent two detachments of Volontaires Royaux to occupy Verden. The first detachment, under Lieutenant-Colonel de Limoges followed the right bank of the Aller, while the other under M. de Chabot advanced by the left bank.
On August 25
- The main army marched in three columns from Rodewald to Rethem where it encamped with the infantry in the first line and the cavalry in the second. Three bridges had been thrown over the Aller at Essel, Gilten and Ahlden. At 7:00 p.m., a violent thunderstorm caused so much damage in the French camp that the main army had to sojourn for 2 days.
- D'Armentières encamped 8 km in front of the army at Etelsen.
- The detachment of the Duc de Chevreuse (all dragoon rgts, 12 cavalry sqns and 1 infantry brigade) reached Bothmer and threw a bridge across the Lev at Eitze.
- The Allied main army remained at Rotenburg behind the Wumme.
The same day (August 25), with the Allied army pushed back to the sea and no force left to oppose an eventual advance of the French army into Prussian territories, and with Soubise's Army making its junction with the Reichsarmee to proceed to the invasion of Saxony, Frederick II had no other choice than to rush to the rescue of the recently conquered Saxony and of his own estates. Leaving a holding force in Silesia, he started a force marched from Bernstadt in the Görlitz country towards the western theatres of operations, departing on August 25.
On August 26
- In the morning, Broglie took possession of Verden. The Volontaires Royaux advanced on Bremen while Fischer conducted a raid towards Halberstadt.
- Turpin continued to raise contributions in Saxony. He had by then visited Gotha, Altenburg, Weimar and Eisenach; and was now raising contributions in Lützen. At Weissenfels, Turpin received intelligence that the Austrian General Loudon was in the region of Leipzig with a large corps of grenzers and hussars. Turpin then sent a message to Loudon to suggest that they join their efforts in an attempt to seize Leipzig, which was defended by only 1,500 men (500 Prussians and 1,000 impressed Saxons). Loudon declined his proposal and Turpin retired to Merseburg.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the French main army on August 28 1757|
On August 28
- The main army marched from Rethem to Westen.
- D'Armentières (10 bns, 12 sqns, 10 field pieces) marched to Achim, on his way to Bremen.
- M. de Guerchy remained at Rethem with 10 bns and Caraman Dragons. Furthermore, 10 other bns covered the communications between Rethem and Westen. By this point, the roads were becoming very bad.
On August 29
- The main army marched from Westen to Verden where it encamped in two lines.
- D'Armentières' Corps marched from Achim to Bremen with orders to take up position in this city and to seize all magazines belonging to the enemies, which were said to be significant. D'Armentières received the submission of Bremen.
- Broglie advanced to Achim with his reserve, planning to occupy Bassen to get closer to Ottersberg and to hold the road leading there.
- Chevreuse pushed parties on Rotenburg from Bothmer.
- The main army was deployed behind the Wumme, in a country liable to flooding, with its left at Rotenburg and its right at Ottersberg with impassable marshes in front of them.
On August 30
- Steinberg, the British ambassador in Vienna, met Chancellor Kaunitz to ask for the recognition of the neutrality of the Electorate of Hanover. Kaunitz immediately contacted the new French ambassador in Vienna, M. de Stainville. However, they presented terms so unacceptable to Steinberg that he said that he preferred to wait for Empress Maria Theresia’s return to Vienna.
On August 31
- The main army marched from Verden to Walle where it encamped in two lines.
- At dawn, Monteynard deployed in order of battle in front of the village of Unterstedt and the Allies retired on Gyhum, a place surrounded by marshes, leaving only garrisons at Rotenburg and Ottersberg. Monteynard asked for a reinforcement of 40 grenadier coys, all the Grenadiers Royaux and Carabiniers and 12 pieces.
- At 7:00 a.m., Richelieu arrived in front of Rotenburg with the requested reinforcements. He ordered that the broken bridges across the Wumme be rebuilt while sending M. de Wurmser over a dam with some grenadier coys. Caraman Dragons passed the marsh on the right of the French positions.
- Broglie advanced on Ottersberg and forced the Allies to evacuate the place, abandoning their artillery.
- The Allies precipitously evacuated Rotenburg after spiking their guns and breaking their carriages. The bridges were not yet rebuilt and the French could not pursue them.
On September 1
- The main army remained at Walle.
- D'Armentières was at Bremen.
- M. de Saint-Pern was at Rotenburg with the grenadiers and carabiniers, sending M. de Poyanne forward with a detachment.
On September 2, another courier arrived from Cumberland in Vienna, asking for the empress's intercession to obtain a ceasefire with Richelieu's Army.
On September 3
- Richelieu marched with all the grenadiers and the Alsace Brigade to Zeven where Broglie joined him.
- Poyanne marched towards the Allied positions at Selsen (maybe Selsingen).
- 55 French horse attacked the 900-strong garrison of Harburg and captured the place. Richelieu had now seized the mouths of both the Elbe and Weser, thus cutting Cumberland's Army off from Hamburg and Bremen and isolating it between the two rivers and the sea.
- Brigadier Rochambeau, who had been detached from Richelieu's Army with 5 bns, 6 sqns and the Chasseurs de Fischer towards Halberstadt, reached Derenburg, Zilly and Hornburg; and pushed forwards some troops as far as Aschersleben. Halberstadt remained unoccupied but a French commissary seized the coffers. A magazine was established at Osterwieck.
- The Allies retired to Bevern.
- The Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel tried to negotiate to obtain protection for his estates, offering to recall his troops from Cumberland's Army.
- The King of Denmark commissioned his governor in Oldenburg, Count Lynar, to undertake mediation between the Allies and the French. Negotiations proceeded very rapidly. They resulted in much more than a truce of limited duration, leading to a declaration of neutrality of the Allied army.
On September 4
- Richelieu sent Bercheny Hussards and Chabot's Volontaires Royaux along with a dismounted detachment of Harcourt Dragons to attack the village of Bevern, which was defended by Allied light troops. They seized the village but had to retire on Selsen to spend the night under the protection of the detachment of the Prince de Chimay (12 grenadier coys and 4 pieces).
- Richelieu established his headquarters at Kloster-Zeven (Zeven Abbey) and ordered his main army to march from Walle and to join him in the following days.
- Harburg capitulated to the French.
- Cumberland, hoping to catch the troops retiring on Selsen by surprise, sent Zastrow at the head of a column of Hessian infantry and cavalry. However, Chimay's grenadiers and the grenadiers of the Volontaires Royaux drove them back.
- The main army retired between Bevern and Bremervörde.
Convention of Kloster-Zeven
On September 5, Cumberland arrived at Stade, on the tidal waters of the Elbe and halted there. He sent the Count de Lynar, Minister of the King of Denmark, to negotiate with Richelieu. Frederick of Prussia decided to detach his own troops from the Allied army and to send them to reinforce the garrison of Magdeburg.
The same day (Septemner 5), M. de Rochambeau (4 bns) advanced on Wolfenbüttel and sent the Chasseurs de Fischer and some hussars towards Halberstadt where the Lusignan Cavalerie would later join them. Meanwhile, another cavalry regiment guarded the communications between Wolfenbüttel and Halberstadt.
On September 6, when Frederick heard of Lehwaldt's defeat at Gross Jägersdorf at the hands of the Russians, he wrote to Richelieu from Rötha, asking for peace.
On September 8 in Bremervörde, Cumberland signed the so-called “Convention of Kloster-Zeven.” His army (converged grenadier bns being counted as part of their parent bn) then consisted of 25 Hanoverian bns (17,222 men), 12 Hessian bns (8,039 men), 7 Brunswicker bns (5,387 men), 1 Gothaer bn (694 men), 1 Bückeburger bn (948 men), 34 Hanoverian sqns (6,217 men), 12 Hessian sqns (1,943 men) and 780 Hanoverian Jägers.
On September 10, Richelieu signed the so-called “Convention of Kloster-Zeven.” The treaty stipulated that:
- the French Army retained all conquered territories and would remain master of the Duchies of Bremen and Verden;
- hostilities had to cease within 24 hours;
- Hanoverian troops should retire to Stade and beyond the Elbe river in the Duchy of Lauenburg;
- Brunswicker, Sachsen-Gotha, Bückeburger and Hessian troops could return to their respective homelands without being considered prisoners of war;
- Allied troops would not take part into the conflict until the end of the war;
- a small Allied garrison would remain in Stade but could not be reinforced.
|Order of Battle|
|Order of battle of the French main army by Mid-September 1757|
In an addendum Richelieu agreed to evacuate Bremen. A second addendum regulated the exchange of prisoners, with the exception of Prussians.
The ministry in Paris soon disapproved of the hasty initiative of the Duc de Richelieu, asking that Allied troops surrender their arms; but it was too late to modify the clauses. The French Court considered the conditions of the treaty much too lenient and advised Richelieu that, in the future, he should report to the king before fixing the conditions of such an important treaty. Richelieu disregarded the clause concerning the cessation of hostilities, as he raised heavy contributions, while employees assigned to supply ransacked the country.
On September 13, the Garrison Company Ahlimb, who defended the Fortress of Regenstein near Halberstadt, surrendered to the French.
After the signing of the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, Richelieu wanted to canton his troops in several towns while he awaited new order from Versailles, and to prepare his winter-quarters in Brunswick and Hanover. On the news of Frederick's march towards Thuringia, orders were sent to Richelieu from Paris to advance on Halberstatdt to ease pressure on Soubise's Army and on the Reichsarmee.
On September 14 and 15, Richelieu marched from the Lower-Aller towards Halberstadt with 40,000 men (94 bns, 106 sqns, 3 artillery bns and 2 Volontaires units. He advanced slowly in eight columns towards Zelle. Richelieu left only 4 bns, 4 sqns and 1 unit of light troops to face the Allied army. Polleresky Hussards were left in the Duchy of Lüneburg.
The last phase of the campaign is described in the following article:
- Richelieu marches towards Saxony (September 15 to November 26 1757) describing the operations of the French 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
- 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. 114-118, 147-168, Anhang 50, 51
- 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
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