1759 - French offensive in Western Germany

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1759 - French offensive in Western Germany

The campaign lasted from April 1759 to January 1760


N.B.: because this article was rapidly becoming quite large, it has been split. Thus, the part of it depicting the early operations of the French and Allied armies in the spring of 1759, including the Allied offensive against Frankfurt and the ensuing battle of Bergen, has been moved to a different article entitled 1759 - Allied spring offensive in West Germany .

After his failed attempt to capture Frankfurt and his defeat at the battle of Bergen, Ferdinand of Brunswick had gradually retreated northwards, reaching Ziegenhain some 30 km from Fritzlar by April 23. He would remain there until May 15.

French Invasion of the Weser Countries

On April 25, Maréchal Marquis de Contades arrived from Paris at Frankfurt and announced that, according to the operation plan established in Versailles, he would reduced Broglie’s Army of the Main to only 20,000 men. Contades' main army was encamped near Neuwied, Deutz, Düsseldorf, Büderich, Kalkar and Arcen (on the Meuse). He planned to advance from the Rhine into Westphalia, without taking into consideration Broglie’s victory at Bergen nor Ferdinand’s advance into Hesse. Contades established his headquarters at Düsseldorf.

By April 26, Broglie’s Corps consisted of: 29 bns, 1 artillery bn with 18 pieces, 31 sqns (including Royal-Nassau Hussards (4 sqns)), 1,620 Volontaires (1,200 Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince and 420 Volontaires d'Alsace).

The Minister of War Belle-Isle planned to merge the Army of the Main with Contades’ main army between the Main and Lahn rivers. This army would then advance into Hesse in the direction of the Weser. He hoped that such a movement would threaten Ferdinand’s lines of communication with Hanover and thus force him to evacuate Westphalia. The small fortresses of Westphalia would then become easy prey for the French armies. According to this plan, Lieutenant-General Marquis d’Armentières was left on the Lower Rhine with the “Left Reserve” of the main army (18 bns, 20 sqns), with instructions to advance on Münster and Lippstadt.

On April 30

  • French
    • Elector Karl Theodor von der Pfalz concluded a subsidy contract to provide troops of the Palatine Army to France .
    • The former army of the Prince de Soubise consisted of 50 bns and 53 sqns; and the Saxon contingent of 15 bns.
    • The corps under the command of the Comte de Saint-Germain consisted of 14 bns, 4 sqns.

In May, Enghien Infanterie (2 bns) was transferred to the Army of the Rhine as reinforcements. Meanwhile, 14 sqns and some bns returned to France.

On May 2, Contades quitted Frankfurt.

On May 4

  • French
    • Contades arrived at Krefeld.
    • The French Army of the Rhine quit its winter-quarters. Contades divided it into 4 corps: 2 of them about Wesel, a third at Düsseldorf, and a fourth about Cologne. He also threw bridges across the Rhine between Wesel and Rees. Contades also repeatedly asked the Elector to occupy Koblenz. This grouping, as Contades intended, left Ferdinand in doubt whether his main design was aimed at Westphalia or Hesse.
  • Allies

On May 10, the French army (129 bns, 138 sqns) was deployed as follows:

Broglie took leave of absence because of health problem and Lieutenant-General Chevalier de Muy temporarily replaced him at the head of the “Right Reserve” (the former Army of the Main). Before leaving, Broglie had sent the Chasseurs de Fischer towards Wertheim and Mittelberg and the Volontaires d'Alsace to Lohr am Main to hinder the Allied manoeuvres in Franconia.

At about this time, a letter from Ferdinand of Brunswick to the British Secretary of State William Pitt was intercepted by the French. In this letter, Ferdinand mentioned that after his defeat at Bergen and the ensuing retreat, his infantry had lost a third of its effective without possibility to recruit fresh troops and that his cavalry was all but destroyed. Ferdinand asked for a reinforcement of 10,000 British infantry. Indeed, at Ziegenhain, Ferdinand had received intelligence that the French planned to advance from the Rhine against Münster. He decided to assemble most of his army in Westphalia.

By May 14

  • French
    • The Army of the Rhine was in motion. Contades headquarters were at Düsseldorf where he began to form a camp. Other camps were being formed at Wesel and Burich in Ostfriese.

By mid-May, Urff’s Corps, which had taken part in the Prussian incursion in Franconia, was back in Hersfeld.

On May 16

  • Allies
    • Spörcken growing uneasy over Contades' movements, Ferdinand marched from Ziegenhain towards Lippstadt, leaving his third division (16,000 men) under Lieutenant-General Philip Baron von Imhoff near Fritzlar to protect Hesse.

On May 17

  • French
    • Contades was informed by de Muy that Ferdinand had started to evacuate Hesse to return to Münster, that there were no troops in Neustadt and Jesberg and just a few in Ziegenhain; that Fischer's detachment, which occupied Marburg, had established itself at Kirchain; that Ferdinand was marching towards Westphalia with only 15,000 men; that Imhoff was at Fritzlar and Homberg with about 14,000 men; and that 8,000 Allies were to make a junction with the Prussian army of Prince Henri at Neustadt on the Saale river.

On May 18

  • Allies
    • Ferdinand moved his headquarters to Lippstadt, bringing with him most of the troops of the Allied left wing.
    • Hardenberg's Corps moved from Lippstadt to Hamm.

French Invasion of Hesse

Map of Part of Hesse-Kassel - Source: Fortescue J. W., "A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899"

On May 20

  • French
    • Contades left Düsseldorf with the Army of the Rhine (100 bns and 100 French sqns, including Broglie's “Right Reserve” consisting of 18 bns, 31 sqns and 2 light troops rgts) and marched southeastward intending to make a junction with Broglie and to begin operations against Hesse.
    • Contades' main army reached Mulheim.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand was rearranging his positions. The Allied force assembled in Westphalia counted 43 bns and 57 sqns with 36 heavy artillery pieces, excluding light troops. Imhoff commanded 11 bns and 16 sqns with 21 heavy artillery pieces. There were also 32 heavy artillery pieces in Münster. Furthermore, the British were expecting 28 additional pieces. The Allied artillery was under the command of Count Wilhelm von Schaumburg-Lippe. Landgrave Wilhelm VIII of Hesse-Kassel established a new artillery corps of 400 men.

On May 23

  • French
    • The main army was at Siegburg.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand had not yet completed the concentration of his army when he heard that the French were assembling on the Lahn. He decided to send his two first divisions (under the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick and the Duke of Holstein) from Hesse, by way of Corbach and Brilon towards Unna and Kamen.

On May 24

  • French
    • The main French army marched to Uckerath.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand moved his headquarters from Lippstadt to Hamm, made a junction with Spörcken’s Corps and cantoned his troops along the Lippe from Coesfeld to Hamm.
    • The II./Luckner Hussars left Imhoff’s detachment and marched to Lembeck to effect a junction with the first sqn.

On May 25

On May 27

  • French
    • The main army was at Neunkirchen, crossing the difficult country of the Westerwald.

On May 28

  • French
    • The main army marched to Leun. Seeing that Ferdinand manoeuvred to threaten the Lower Rhine, Contades instructed d'Armentières to guard his places and to cover his magazines.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand moved his headquarters from Hamm to Reken.
    • Spörcken took position at Dülmen, Wangenheim at Dülmen and Haltern, and Lückner's and Scheiter's Corps at Dorsten.
    • The Hereditary Prince of Brunswick joined Hardenberg's Corps at Unna.

On May 29

  • French
    • D'Auvet's Corps marched to Breidenbach to protect the French left flank.

On May 30

  • French
    • The main army was at Heuchelheim.
    • D'Auvet's corps marched to Biedenkopf, his light troops occupying Hatzfeld, Frankenberg and Battenberg on the Eder.

On May 31

  • French
    • The main army was at Wieseck near Giessen.
    • De Muy marched to Friedberg with the Right Reserve. Indeed, Contades had resolved to move the Reserve closer to the main army.

On June 1

  • French
    • The main army arrived near Giessen. It now counted some 60,000 men (57 bns and 40 sqns). It encamped in two lines with its right at Wieseck and its left near Lollar.
    • The “Right Reserve”, assembled at Freiberg under the Chevalier de Muy. It consisted of 18 bns, 31 sqns with 50 artillery pieces.

On June 2

  • French
    • An additional force of 25 bns and 14 sqns under the Comte de Noailles made a junction with Contades' main army between Giessen and Marburg, bringing its total strength to 82 bns, 54 sqns and 62 pieces (not counting the Reserve of 20,000 men in 18 bns, 29 sqns and 12 pieces and the garrisons of the Lahn and Mayn).
    • De Muy set off from Friedberg with the Right Reserve and cantoned at Hungen.

On June 3

  • French
    • The main army marched in three columns, traversing a difficult country, and encamped in two lines on the right bank of the Lahn at Walgern (unidentified location), about 4 km from Marburg.
    • De Muy marched to Grünberg with the Right Reserve.
    • The French army (126 bns, 125 sqns and some light troops) was now deployed as follows:
  • Allies

On June 4

  • French
    • De Muy's Right Reserve reached Alsfeld and Kirtorf on the Ohm.
    • The main army encamped near Marburg in the plain of Niederweimar with light troops in advanced posts towards Frankenberg.
    • Turpin Hussards occupied Frankenberg while other French detachments occupied Battenberg and Hatzfeld.
    • Bercheny Hussards were sent towards Gemünden on the Wohra.
  • Allies

On June 5

  • French
    • D'Armentières remained at Wesel and Düsseldorf and Contades at Niederweimar.
    • Lieutenant-General Marquis de Saint-Pern quitted Marburg with the French vanguard (10 grenadier bns) accompanied by d'Auvet's Brigade (4 bns).
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand moved his headquarters from Reken to Werl.
    • The Allied forces occupying Unna retired to Soest.
    • Imhoff encamped near Fritzlar.
    • The magazine at Münster was moved to Lippstadt and the magazine at Osnabrück was transported to the banks of the Weser.
    • The Hereditary Prince, who had crossed the Ruhr, reached Elberfeld where he surprised the garrison (1 bn of Provence Infanterie, 1 bn of the Légion Royale, and a few detachments), taking Lieutenant-Colonel de Montfort and approx. 200 men prisoners (including 92 men of Provence Infanterie).
    • The Hereditary Prince continued his advance by way of Mettmann to Gerresheim, sending advanced parties towards Düsseldorf and Deutz.

On June 6

  • French
    • Contades' army marched from Niederweimar in three columns, preceded by a vanguard (14 bns) under Saint-Pern, passed near Marburg and marched to Wetter.
    • D'Auvet quitted Battenberg with his 4 bns and 2 sqns and marched towards Hallenberg.
    • The Right Reserve marched from Guntershausen to Homberg and the vanguard took post at Ziegenhain, forcing the Allied garrison of this town to retire on Fritzlar.
  • Allies
    • The Allied forces occupying Lünen and Kamen retired eastward to Soest.
    • Ferdinand encamped at Soest with the main army.
    • Wutginau’s detachment arrived at Büren.
    • The Hereditary Prince reached Kaiserswerth, 10 km north of Düsseldorf.

During the night of June 6 to 7, the Hereditary Prince surprised a French force of 1,000 men near Duisburg and captured most of them.

Torcy, the governor of Cologne, broke his bridge on the Rhine and brought artillery pieces on the walls. D’Armentières dispatched reinforcements to Cologne and Düsseldorf and assembled his corps near Ürdingen east of Krefeld. However, Contades had not been lured and had remained in his positions. The Hereditary Prince had to precipitously rejoin the main Allied army.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of Contades' army in June and July 1759.

On June 7

  • French
    • Contades' Army marched to Frankenberg; the vanguard under Saint-Pern to Niederorke; d'Auvet to Medebach.
    • The Right Reserve under de Muy reached Ziegenhain and Treysa (present-day Schwalmstadt). De Muy launched his light troops on Jesberg, Borken and Homberg.
  • Allies
    • Colonel von Bartheld guarded the passage of the Diemel at Stadtberg (present-day Marsberg) with 7 grenadier coys and 200 horse.
    • Ferdinand assembled his army at Unna and waited for the return of the Hereditary Prince.
    • A corps of 8 bns and 10 sqns under Lieutenant-General Wangenheim remained near Haltern to cover Münster against d’Armentières’ entreprises.
    • Imhoff sent his artillery and baggage back to Kassel. He also began to move supplies out of Kassel and Münden.

During the night of June 7 to 8, Imhoff retired from Fritzlar to Kassel, sending the pontoons, artillery and hospital to Minden.

On June 8

  • French
    • Contades' Army marched to Sachsenberg.
    • Broglie joined the Right Reserve to re-assume command. His reserve sojourned at Treysa.
    • Saint-Pern and d'Auvet remained on their positions, sending light troops to Allendorf and Eppe, about 10 km from Corbach.
    • Bercheny Hussards, at Frankenau, protected the line of communication between the Right Reserve and the main army.
  • Allies
    • The Hereditary Prince reached Dortmund.
    • Imhoff’s Corps retired by way of Kassel to Obervellmar.

On June 9

On June 10

  • French
    • Contades marched northward from Sachsenberg by way of Waldeck to Corbach where his army encamped in two lines, his right at Strothe and its left at Lelbach. He established his headquarters in Corbach. Work was initiated to transform Corbach into a supply base for the French army.
    • Saint-Pern marched to Sachsenhausen with the vanguard and d'Auvet was at Rhene (unidentified location).
    • Light troops advanced by the passages of the Diemel near Warburg and Stadtberge towards Brilon and Meschede.
    • Bercheny Hussards marched from Frankenau to Waldeck.
    • Broglie’s light troops reached Nieder-Zwehren where they engaged Stockhausen Freikorps.
  • Allies
    • The Hereditary Prince effected a junction with Duke Ferdinand’s Army at Unna. Ferdinand was now at the head of 28 bns and 41 sqns.

On the night of June 10 to 11

  • French
    • Broglie made a force march to surprise Post at Kassel but the latter, with a force too small to defend Kassel in front of such a large army, evacuated the city, passed the Fulda, reached Münden and marched towards Hameln.
    • On the Diemel, the French were allowed to make the difficult ascent to the plateau on the north-western bank of the river unopposed, and their hussars soon occupied this plateau.
  • Allies
    • Imhoff retreated to Lippstadt.
    • Bartheld’s detachment, which was posted at Stadtberg, retired to avoid being isolated from Brilon.

On June 11

  • French
    • In the morning, Broglie occupied Kassel where he found magazines intact. He then sent a detachment in pursuit of Post. This detachment took possession of Münden and of other intact magazines.
  • Allies
    • During his retreat, Imhoff was forced to abandon large quantities of fodder and oats at Witzenhausen and Dransfeld.
Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of Ferdinand' army in early June 1759.

On June 11

  • Allies
    • Ferdinand had decided to march to the enemy and offer battle. Accordingly, he recalled Imhoff’s Corps and marched to Soest where he effected a junction with Sackville's and Spörcken's corps.
    • By this time, 6 coys of British grenadiers had been converged into a single battalion under the command of Major Maxwell.

On June 12

  • Allies
    • Ferdinand, uncertain if the French would continue their advance by way of Brilon or Stadtberg and Warburg, sent the Hereditary Prince with 7 bns (all Brunswicker infantry rgts) and 8 sqns (Bock Dragoons, Breidenbach Dragoons) by way of Anröchte to Rüten.
    • Imhoff’s Corps reached Büren by way of Lichtenau. At Büren, it made a junction with Wutginau’s detachment.

On June 13

  • French
    • When he was informed that the Allies had abandoned the passages of the Diemel, Contades decamped from Corbach and marched northwards to Stadtberg, sending his light troops forward to Essentho on the Diemel (about 30 km south of Paderborn). Contades then encamped behind the Diemel covered by d'Auvet's Corps (Orléans infantry brigade, Noé Cavalerie, Turpin Hussards) which encamped in front of the defiles near the village of Essentho on the left bank.
    • Contades also sent 2 brigades to occupy the left bank of the Diemel, to cover Stadtberg and support the French positions at Essentho.
    • Saint-Pern took position at about 8 km from Arolsen (present-day Bad Arolsen).
    • Broglie who was still at Kassel, received orders from Contades to make a junction with the main army as soon as possible.
    • By threatening Ferdinand’s left flank, Contades hoped to force him to retire to the Weser. Then Münster would not be covered anymore and d’Armentières could lay siege to the city.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand’s main army marched to Anröchte.

During the night of June 13 to 14, Turpin Hussards, along with 1 rgt of light troops, approached the camp of Büren to observe the Allies, some skirmishes took place.

On June 14

  • French
    • In the morning, Contades’ main army advanced to Essentho in 6 columns, passed the Diemel and the defiles of Essentho unmolested and encamped in order of battle between Essentho and Meerhof.
    • The Duc de Chevreuse, who had just replaced d'Auvet, was sent westward in front of Fürstenberg with a strong detachment.
    • Saint-Pern (Grenadiers de France, Grenadiers Royaux, 1 infantry brigade) took position between Fürstenberg and the main army.
    • Turpin Hussards and some light troops reconnoitred in the direction of Wünnenberg while Bercheny Hussards took post at Atteln.
  • Allies
    • Engagements at Wutginau’s outposts near Fürstenberg and Wünnenberg confirmed that the advanced elements of the French army had crossed the Diemel at Stadtberg.
    • In the afternoon, Ferdinand’s Army retired in a storm on bad roads towards Büren.
    • Ferdinand had left 9,000 men under General Wangenheim at Dülmen on the Lower Rhine to watch d'Armentières' designs against Münster.

On June 14 or 15, indecisive skirmishes took place in the vicinity of Leiberg and Wünnenberg between the light troops of both armies. The Luckner Hussars and Freytag Jägers attacked the Volontaires of Château Thierry, Turpin Hussards and Volontaires du Dauphiné.

On June 15

  • French
    • Broglie set off from Kassel with the Right Reserve, leaving behind a garrison of 4 bns, 2 sqns and some light troops under Waldner, and force marched to Warburg with the intent to make a junction with the main French army near Meerhof.
    • D'Armentières passed the Lower Rhine and advanced towards Schermbeck.
  • Allies
    • Reconnaissance parties confirmed that the French vanguard was near Fürstenberg and that the main body was only a 90 minutes-march away.
    • Around noon, Ferdinand’s Army encamped between Eickhoff and the Castle of Brenken. It was soon joined by Wutginau’s and Imhoff’s detachments. The army extended along the heights opposite Büren with the Alme rivulet to its front, a wood to its left and its right anchored on a steep slope. Both flanks were protected with entrenchments and artillery. The camp was reinforced with earthworks and abatis, and Büren and Brenken, located on both banks of the Alme, were occupied. Ferdinand established his headquarters in the Castle of Brenken.
    • The Hereditary Prince covered the right flank with his detachment near Rüthen.

On June 16

  • French
    • Broglie, after 3 days of force march, reached Kleinenberg, 16 km north of Meerhof.
    • On the Lower Rhine, after crossing the river d’Armentières’ Army reached Schermbeck.
  • Allies
    • Wangenheim moved into a camp opposite d’Armentières’ near Dülmen.

On June 17

  • French
    • Contades reconnoitred the Allied positions near Büren.
    • Broglie's Right Reserve remained at Kleinenberg.

On June 18

  • French
    • Contades, whose main force was still encamped at Meerhof until the completion of the new supply base at Corbach, sent 2 infantry brigades to occupy the heights of Helmern and Haaren near the Allied positions.
    • The Corps des carabiniers de Monsieur le Comte de Provence joined the main army while the Gendarmerie de France remained at Stadtberg.
    • The Bercheny Hussards along with some light troops occupied the village of Helmern.
    • The Chasseurs de Fischer took post on the Allied right flank to threaten their communications with Lippstadt.
    • Broglie sent Prince Xaver with a strong detachment to Brenken to threaten the Allied left, his light troops advanced parties occupied Nordborchen and Alfen on the Alme and captured Paderborn. Prince Xaver then proceeded by force marches round the Allied left, threatening their communication from the Weser. Broglie reached Atteln and Etteln with the rest of the Right Reserve.

On June 19

  • French
    • Contades visited the camp of Broglie's Right Reserve. The French had now the possibility to besiege Lippstadt and Münster or to force a battle.
    • On the Lower Rhine, d'Armentières was encamped at Schermbeck.
  • Allies
    • His position at Büren becoming too dangerous, Ferdinand was forced to decamp and to retire between Lippstadt and Erwitte. His camp at Büren was immediately occupied by elements of the Turpin Hussards.
    • The situation of the Allied army was now critical. Ferdinand even asked that ships might be ready to evacuate the army from Emden.

On June 20

  • French
    • On the Lower Rhine, part of d'Armentières' Corps, which had initially been left behind at Wesel, reached Borken.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand’s Army crossed the Lippe at Lippsatdt while a French detachment under M. de Muret made an unsuccessful attempt against its rear. The Allies then marched unmolested to Rietberg where they encamped between Rietberg and Verl, facing eastwards. Detachments were posted at Mastholte and Delbrück. The Freibataillon Trümbach secured the passage of the Lippe near Boke.
    • Lieutenant-General von Hardenberg occupied Lippstadt with 5 bns (1 bn of picked Hanoverian infantry and 1 Hanoverian garrison bn, 2 Hessian bns), soon joined by the Hanoverian Wrede Infantry, the Bückeburg Carabiniers and the Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg Jägers.
    • On the Lower Rhine, Wangenheim's Corps (11 bns and 7 sqns) was still near Dülmen to observe d'Armentières' Corps at Schermbeck.
    • The Allied hospitals previously located at Münster and Kassel were both transferred to Verden while the heavy baggage and the field hospital were moved to Nienburg.

On June 21, Ferdinand wrote to King Frederick II of Prussian to get new instructions.

On June 22

  • French
    • Contades sent 1 infantry brigade to Paderborn to prepare his installation in this town. Furthermore, he extended his light troops from Büren to Lippspringe (present-day Bad Lippspringe).
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand received a letter from Frederick, advising him that he should not allow himself to be attacked, but should preempt the enemy and recover the initiative.

French capture Minden

On June 24

  • French
    • Contades advanced in six columns from Meerhof to Paderborn where he encamped with his right anchored on this town and his left extending up to the village of Wewer. He also deployed advanced posts at Neuhaus.
    • The Chasseurs de Fischer reached Detmold.
    • Chevreuse's Corps moved from Fürstenberg to Büren, throwing a screen of light troops between Fürstenberg and Büren to cover the defiles of Stadtberg.
    • French light troops appeared before Lippstadt.
    • Broglie marched to Neuhaus (unidentified location) with the Right Reserve.
    • The Grenadiers de France took post on the Alme and the Corps des carabiniers de Monsieur le Comte de Provence along with 1 infantry brigade at Atteln.

The French army remained in these positions for a few days. Ferdinand was still unsure about Contades' intentions.

On June 26, French light troops drove the Freibataillon Trümbach out of Boke and tried to surround them in Delbrück.

On June 29

  • French
    • Contades advanced northwestward from Paderborn towards Rietberg. He encamped at about 15 km from Rietberg, between Schlangen and Lippspringe, at the eastern edge the Senner Heath, to await a bread convoy. Contades also launched attacks against Allied advanced posts on the Embs. Once more the French were turning Ferdinand’s eastern flank.
    • Broglie reached Osterholtz.
    • Chevreuse marched from Fürstenberg to Neuhaus to cover the magazine at Paderborn.
  • Allies
    • It now became clear to Ferdinand that Contades’ objective was the capture either of Hameln or Minden on the Weser.
    • Wangenheim, who had been observing d'Armentières Corps on the Lower Rhine, was recalled to join the main army. Leaving his camp at Dülmen, he marched to Wolbeck. On his way, he left Zastrow behind with 3,000 to garrison Münster.

On the night of June 29 to 30

  • Allies
    • Ferdinand retired from Rietberg to Marienfelde. He encamped between this town and Harsewinkel. His light troops took position at Rheda, Gütersloh, Isselhorst and Steinhagen to secure the new camp.
    • Lieutenant-Colonel von Freytag was sent towards Detmold with a brigade of the Freytag Jägers. He was soon joined by Stockhausen Freikorps and 300 picked Hanoverian foot and 200 dragoons sent from Hameln. Freytag had been instructed to conduct raids on the right bank of the Weser.

By July 1, Contades army totalled 129 bns and 138 sqns, and consisted of the following corps:

  • first line: 37 bns and 29 sqns under the Duc de Fitz-James, Nicolaï and the Duc de Brissac
  • second line: 83 bns, 16 sqns under Andlau, the Comte de Noailles and Dumesnil
  • d'Armentières' Left Reserve (at Schermbeck) : 19 bns and 20 sqns
  • Broglie's Right Reserve: 25 bns and 31 sqns
  • Duc de Chevreuse's Reserve: 12 sqns
  • Saint-Pern's Reserve: 12 bns
  • Poyannes' Reserve: 18 sqns
  • Hussars: 12 sqns
  • Artillery: 3 bns
  • Allies

On July 1

  • Engagement of Gütersloh
    • The Bercheny Hussards and Turpin Hussards advanced on Gütersloh to attack 5 Prussian hussar sqns commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Narzynsky. However, the Prussian hussars attacked them first, killing 60 men and capturing 1 officer and 73 men, and pursuing them up to Rietberg.
  • French
    • Contades detached Melfort with a brigade to make an attempt on Lippstadt, but the town was too well garrisoned to be in any danger in front of Melfort's force. (see the description of the French attempt on Lippstadt by the Comte de Melfort).
    • French light troops surprised and captured the Castle of Rietberg, taking the garrison (130 men) prisoners. French light troops advanced up to Bielefeld.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand received a letter from Frederick in answer to his own letter sent on June 21. In this letter, Frederick told him that he should not retreat.

On July 2

  • French
    • Contades’ Army advanced along the Teutoburger Forest up to Stukenbrock.
    • The Duc de Chevreuse advanced with a detachment (4 bns, 16 sqns) to Delbrück to isolate Lippstadt.
    • Muret took hold of Stromberg.
    • Broglie reached Oerlinghausen with the Right Reserve.

On July 3

  • French
    • French dragoons and light troops belonging to Broglie's Right Reserve occupied Bielefeld.
    • Broglie reached Heepen about 5 km east of Bielefeld.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand’s Army decamped from Marienfeld and marched to Dissen. The light troops occupied Versmold, Halle, Borgholzhausen and Ravensberg. Ferdinand was now nearer to his food supplies than the French and the two armies were separated by a broad chain of wooded hills.
    • Wangenheim’s Corps reached Ladbergen.

On July 4

  • French
    • The main army moved across the mountains of Bielefeld and encamped near this town and near Schildesche, facing towards Herford. Contades established his headquarters in Bielefed.
    • Broglie’s Right Reserve was Heepenand 2 dragoon rgts occupied Herford.
    • The Grenadiers de France, the Grenadiers Royaux, the Gendarmerie de France and the Corps des carabiniers de Monsieur le Comte de Provence occupied position in front of the village of Schildesche, 3 km north of Bielefeld, with 1 brigade at Brackwede.
    • Contades then waited for two days for supplies.
  • Allies
    • The Allied hussars which were posted at Halle were attacked by a detachment of about 1,000 men (Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince, coys of Grenadiers Royaux and some hussars) under the command of Voyer and forced to retire upon the Castle of Ravensberg (unidentified location) where the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince and Prussian light infantry were posted. The French detachment advanced on the castle but was repulsed, losing about 20 men. The Allies then reinforced their light infantry with 5 grenadier bns and 4 dragoon sqns. Seeing this, the French detachment abandoned Halle.

On July 5

  • French
    • In the area of Bielefeld, the Turpin Hussards and Bercheny Hussards reached Steinhagen.
    • The Volontaires and light troops of Broglie's Right Reserve reached Enger.
    • A French detachment attacked Melle where the Allies had a magazine.
    • On the Lower Rhine, d'Armentières marched northwards from Schermbeck to Borken where he took position on both banks of the Aa, sending the Volontaires de Cambefort to Coesfeld and the Légion Royale to Dülmen.
  • Allies
    • Early in the morning, Freytag’s detachment attacked the Volontaires d'Alsace posted in Hemeln and Bursfelde on the Weser, north of Münden. The commander of the French unit, Colonel Beyerle was taken prisoner along with 28 officers and 210 men.
    • Ferdinand sent 7 bns and 10 sqns under General Imhoff to defend Melle.

On July 6

  • French
    • On the Lower Rhine, d'Armentières, informed that the Allies had retired from the town of Münster into the citadel, marched on Coesfeld. His advance was covered by a detachment under the command of Conflans at Appelhülsen and another one under d'Argens in front of Coesfeld.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand received another letter from Frederick enjoining him to make a stand against the numerically superior French army.

On July 7

  • French
    • Contades sent Broglie’s Right Reserve forward to Enger and replaced it at Herford with 3 infantry brigades of his won army. Contades wanted to force the Allies to continue their retreat.
    • Contades' main army marched towards Herford.
    • Chevreuse quitted Delbrück for Rietberg.
    • The Turpin Hussards advanced on Warendorf which the Allies evacuated.
  • Allies
    • Major Friedrichs and a brigade of the Freytag Jägers surprised a a detachment of Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince near Wellingholzhausen to the northwest of Neuenkirchen, killing a captain and 17 men and capturing 1 captain, 1 lieutenant and 46 privates.
    • Frederick wrote to Ferdinand to express his dissatisfaction with his continual retreat.

On July 8

  • French
    • Contades' main army arrived at Herford, encamping on a difficult terrain with its right anchored to the Bega river. Andlau was left behind at Bielefeld to defend the defile of Brackwede. The French had made themselves masters of Hesse and Westphalia up to the Weser, with the exception of Münster and Lippstadt, without any serious combat.
    • The Chasseurs de Fischer marched to the Weser River, Corvey and Detmold.
    • In the evening, the Duc de Broglie personally accompanied a strong detachment (16 bns, the Cuirassiers, the Volontaires de Schomberg, Royal-Nassau Hussards, the Chasseurs de Fischer and 1,400 other infantrymen from various units) with 4 eight-pdrs under the command of his brother, the Comte de Broglie from Enger towards Minden.
    • On the Lower Rhine, d'Armentières remained at Nottuln while Conflans and Chabot marched to Münster and summoned the garrison who refused to capitulate.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand’s Army decamped from Dissen and marched to Osnabrück while the heavy baggage were sent to Bremen.
    • Wangenheim’s Corps, which had been recalled, made a junction with the main army at Osnabrück.

On July 9

  • Capture of Minden
    • Broglie's Right Reserve marched to Bergkirchen near Minden, supported by a strong detachment under the command of the prince de Condé at Rehme.
    • Around 5:00 a.m., Allied jägers and dragoons retired in front of the French hussars. Broglie summoned the Allied commander of Minden, and Major-General von Zastrow, now commanding the 1,500 men (1 Hessian bn and some picquets of various units) of the garrison of Minden, rejected the summon.
    • Broglie invested Minden place. The place was surrounded by walls and a hornwork on the right bank of the Weser protected the bridge giving access to Minden. Zastrow had removed all boats from the river and considered that he had not to worry about an attack from the right bank.
    • At 9:30 a.m., Broglie wrote a dispatch mentioning that the town was too well defended to risk an attack. However, during this time, a farmer from Aulhausen pointed the location of a ford to the Royal-Nassau Hussards and also showed them a large float of timber on the right bank near Hausberge. T
    • Broglie immediately sent swimmers who brought back this float.
    • In the evening, 300 Chasseurs de Fischer and the 300 Volontaires de Lanoue under the Comte de Broglie crossed the Weser. The Duc de Broglie remained on the left bank with the rest of the detachment. He intructed M. de Closen to turn the town and to take position in front of the Nienburg Gate to prevent the garrison from escaping.
    • Zastrow was soon informed that a French detachment had crossed the river and ordered the destruction of a small magazine of forage near the bridgehead to deprive attackers of any cover.
    • The light troops accompanying the Comte de Broglie attacked the hornwork while a few guns enfiladed the bridge.
    • The first French attack was driven back but the second one succeeded. Allied troops defending the hornwork precipitously retired into the town, leaving the drawbridge open.
    • The grenadiers of the Chasseurs de Fischer followed them on and entered into Minden. They opened the gates of the left bank.
    • At 9:00 p.m., the Duc de Broglie entered into Minden with the troops which had been left on the left bank. Zastrow resisted for some time but was forced to surrender the garrison as prisoners of war.
    • The French took 1,200 prisoners. Broglie found 22 artillery pieces and a large magazine in the captured town.
    • Broglie occupied Minden with 1,400 men. The rest of his detachment took position in the surrounding villages and outposts were established at Petershagen, Holzhausen and Lübbecke. The capture of Minden had now secured a bridge over the Weser and had opened the road to Hanover to the French army. The crossing at Nienburg was also within short reach.
  • French
    • Contades, having supply problems, could not advance on Minden as quickly as he intended and was forced to remain at Herford for several days.
    • On the Lower Rhine, d’Armentières’ Corps (18 bns, 20 sqns) blockaded Münster, extending its right up to Sankt Mauritz with its left anchored on the Upper Aa.. The defensive works of the place were in poor conditions. Only the citadel to the northwest of the city could oppose any serious resistance, the Aa River forming a difficult obstacle. The place was defended by Lieutenant-General von Zastrow with a garrison of 3,600 men (2 Hanoverian garrison bns, 1 Hessian militia bn, 2 Hessian garrison coys, 100 horse and 200 foot of Scheiter’s Corps and 3 officers and 128 men from each of Wangenheim’s 8 bns who had been left behind when he rejoined the main army).
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand was informed in Osnabrück that Broglie was threatening Minden.

On July 10

  • French
    • Contades moved his headquarters from Bielefeld to Herford and sent part of his army to Gohfeld.
    • On the Lower Rhine, the French invested Münster in form.
  • Allies

In the night of July 10 to 11 at Münster, d'Armentières made himself master of the suburb of Sankt Mauritz.

On July 11

  • French
    • On the Lower Rhine, d'Armentières positions at Sankt Mauritz were heavily cannonaded by the garrison of Münster. Judging that the general situation did not lend itself to a formal siege, d'Armentières countermanded the transport of his siege artillery from Wesel and took dispositions to storm Münster.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand decamped from Osnabrück with the main army and marched towards Bohmte, leaving Major-General Count Kielmansegg at Osnabrück with 4 bns and 2 sqns to protect and escort the bakery and the bread wagons.
    • On his way to Bohmte, Ferdinand received a message from the Hereditary Prince, informing him that Minden had fallen. Ferdinand hesitated whether or not to return to Münster and then decided to fall back to the Lower Weser, so as to save his magazine at Nienburg and re-establish his line of communication. He also occupied the Imperial Free Town of Bremen in case he had to evacuate the Allied army. Münster was abandoned to its fate.
    • In the evening, Ferdinand detached General-Adjutant Major von Estorff with 400 picked foot and 400 horse from his camp at Bohmte towards Nienburg, each infantryman riding pillion. This detachment was instructed to reinforce the 2 militia coys occupying Nienburg. Similarly, the detachment of the Hereditary Prince redirected its march towards Nienburg, reaching Rahden, while his light troops advanced up to Diepenau.

On the night of July 11 to 12

  • French
    • On the Lower Rhine, d’Armentières launched an attack against Münster on five different points. Groslier's column was stopped by abatis. Maupeou's column got lost following its guides and did not reached its assigned position in time. All attacks were driven back, the French losing 41 officers and 534 men. D’Armentières then decided to make a formal siege and asked for siege artillery which had to be transported from Wesel.
  • Allies
    • Lieutenant-Colonel von Luckner with his Luckner Hussars attacked frontally the French outpost of Holzhausen where 600 French carabiniers (all carabinier coys of the 8 cavalry rgts belonging to Broglie’s Right Reserve) were posted. Meanwhile, Allied jägers attacked them in the rear to cut off their retreat. In this action, the French lost 200 men killed and 400 taken prisoners, including Colonel Count des Salles.

On July 12

  • French
    • In the morning, the French carabiniers had rallied and received a reinforcement of 100 dragoons (from the Apchon Dragons and the Volontaires de Schomberg). They pursued the Luckner Hussars, which were withdrawing. During the pursuit, the French unexpectedly bumped into the Freytag Jägers and the Prussian hussars under Lieutenant-Colonel von Narzynsky posted at Diepenau. Some allied guns fired on the approaching French and Narzynsky attacked and routed them. They then engaged a party of 500 French infantry under the command of M. de Villars, defeating them and taking 200 prisoners.
    • Contades finally received some bread.
    • Broglie's Right Reserve marched to Minden and was replaced at Enger by Duménil's Corps (2 infantry brigades, Grenadiers de France, Grenadiers Royaux and 1 cavalry brigade).
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand sent Major-General von Dreves with 4 bns (Hanoverian Dreves and Block, Hessian Canitz and Brunswicker Zastrow) to Bremen to secure the bridge and magazine he had there. Dreves had been instructed to retire on Stade if Ferdinand’s Army took the direction of the Ems.
    • The Hereditary Prince reached the Weser River near Stolzenau.
    • In the evening, Ferdinand’s Army set off from Bohmte and marched eastwards during the night.

On July 13

  • French
    • Contades sent forward a first corps (infantry brigades of Picardie, Belzunce, Lorraine and Aquitaine along with 1 cavalry brigade and part of his artillery park) under M. de Beaupréau from Herford to Eidinghausen near Gohfeld.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand’s Army reached Rahden.
    • The Hereditary Prince advanced to Diepenau.

On July 14

  • French
    • Contades' main army, now fully supplied, quitted Herford and reached Eidinghausen and encamped in two lines.
    • Shortly after the departure of Kielmansegg’s detachment, Lieutenant-Colonel de Commeyras occupied Osnabrück and its important magazines with 600 men of the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince.
    • Beaupréau's Corps passed the Weser and marched to the camp near Minden where it replaced Broglie's Right Reserve.
    • Broglie's Right Reserve passed the Weser and took position at Bückeburg.
    • Dumesnil quitted Enger.
  • Allies
    • Around 1:00 a.m., Ferdinand’s Army marched to Stoltzenau on the Weser, reaching its destination in the evening. where Ferdinand established his headquarters.
    • The Hereditary Prince reached Petershagen with the vanguard of the Allies. Three bridges were thrown across the Weser downstream from Stolzenau the line of communication with the city of Hanover.

In fact, Contades had no intention to cut the Allies from Hanover, he rather wished that they would cross the Weser and thus leave Hesse and Westphalia defenceless.

In the night of July 14 to 15, Major-General von Dreves arrived before Bremen.

On July 15

  • French
    • Contades' main army and Duménil's Corps encamped near Minden with their right to the town and their left extending to Haddenhausen. They were covered by the Grenadiers Royaux, the Grenadiers de France and the Corps des carabiniers de Monsieur le Comte de Provence. The French right flank was covered by the Weser, the front by the Barte rivulet and the left by the large marsh extending beyond Lübbecke. The count of Raugrave's division was deployed in front in the plain between Minden and Kutenhausen to observe the Allies.
    • The village of Lübbecke was occupied by the Turpin Hussards and Bercheny Hussards and the village of Hille by the Volontaires du Hainaut and Haller. A small French detachment under General Andlau was posted at Eickhorst supported by the division encamped at Gohfeld under the Duc de Brissac.
    • Saint-Germain's Corps (Auvergne brigade and 1 cavalry rgt) marched from Bielefeld and encamped near Schwöbber to screen the Fortress of Hameln and thus prevent the Allied garrison of this place from harassing the French convoys coming from Kassel by Paderborn and Herford.
  • Allies
    • At daybreak, Dreves surprised the garrison of Bremen and made himself master of the town.

On July 16

  • French
    • On the Lower Rhine, d'Armentières continued the blockade of Münster.
    • The Duc de Chevreuse at the head of a detachment of about 3,000 men (3 bns, 3 sqns and some light troops) was sent to invest Lippstadt.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand’s Army, which had just been reinforced with Kielmansegg's detachment, marched to Petershagen. Ferdinand knew that Broglie was on the right bank of the Weser and other French troops before Hameln, and he wanted to offer battle to Contades’ weakened army.

On July ??, Saint-Germain rejoined the main army, leaving only 4 bns and 2 sqns at Schwöbber.

Contades intended to wait in these positions until Münster and Lippstadt would be captured by the troops of d’Armentières and Chevreuse.

The Allies were still in a difficult situation: the Chasseurs de Fischer raided the country up to the City of Hannover; the Volontaires du Dauphiné did the same towards Nienburg; Chevreuse blockaded Lippstadt; d'Armentières besieged Münster; and Broglie, from Bückeburg, threatened the Allied line of communication with Hanover.

On the night of July 16 to 17

  • Allies
    • Hoping to attack Broglie and Contades separately before their junction, Ferdinand marched in three columns from Stolzenau to Petershagen. However, he discovered the French army already deployed behind Minden morass with its right anchored on the town of Minden and its left to a height near Hartenhausen (unidentified location). Accordingly, he encamped the Allied army with its right at Brüninghorstedt and its left inclining to the Weser, establishing his headquarters at Ovenstädt in the rear of the left wing. The Allied vanguard consisted of Bevern's division (5 Hessian grenadier bns, 8 Hessian dragoon sqns), Wangenheim's division (8 Hanoverian bns, 10 Hanoverian sqns). The vanguard was placed at the head of the central column which included the heavy train of artillery. It encamped in front of Petershagen, the grenadiers in the first line and Wagenheim's corps in the second.

On July 17

  • Confrontation at Minden
    • Hoping to lure the French into a battle, Ferdinand advanced his vanguard, supported by piquets of the main army, towards the plain of Minden.
    • The vanguard under the Hereditary Prince drove French outposts at Kutenhausen and Todtenhausen back towards Minden.
    • The Allied army its line of battle behind the village of Todtenhausen with its right to the village of Südfelde and its left to the wood near the Weser. The cavalry in the first line, the infantry in the second and the hussars on the left.
    • Raugrave's French division posted in front of Minden retired under the guns of the place. Contades sent orders to Broglie, still posted on the east bank of the Weser, to join him.
    • By 4:00 a.m., the French army was in order of battle behind the morass. However Contades did not move out of his strong positions.
    • Ferdinand reconnoitred the French positions and ordered his army (45,000 men) to advance southward into the plain in nine columns to offer battle:
      • 1st column: cavalry of the right wing
      • 2nd column: brigade of heavy artillery of the right wing
      • 3rd and 4th columns: infantry of the right wing
      • 5th column: brigade of heavy artillery of the centre
      • 6th and 7th column: infantry of the left wing
      • 8th column: brigade of heavy artillery of the left wing
      • 9tht column: cavalry of the left wing
    • A brief cannonade took place. Ferdinand soon realized that the French were deployed in unassailable positions and he ordered his army to retire to its camp near Petershagen.
  • Allies
    • Count Wilhelm von Bückeburg supervised the erection of entrenchments near Todtenhausen. Wide passages were also prepared over the old Landwehr to allow the Allies to advance rapidly. A wider bridge was thrown on the Weser at Ovenstädt.
    • Wangenheim's Corps took its old position while Bevern encamped behind Todtenhausen, posting a grenadier battalion in this village. The Allied hussars took position between Kutenhausen and Stemmer.

On the night of July 17 to 18, Broglie’s Right Reserve, which had recrossed the Weser to join the main French army, passed it again and encamped on the east bank of the river with his right at Meinsen and his left to the Weser near the bridges of boats at Neesen. A small detachment occupied the Castle of Bückeburg.

Contades hoped to fix Ferdinand while his detachments accomplished their various missions. So far Contades's campaign had been almost flawless. He had taken Kassel, the capital of Hesse, and had invested Lippstadt and Münster. Furthermore, he had taken Minden on the Weser and invested Hameln. He was now in a good position to control the Weser and, as soon as this would be done, to invade Hanover.

Ferdinand's position was now critical. With Contades fixing his army while remaining in an impregnable position, Ferdinand could hardly make any serious attempt against the French forces investing Lippstadt, Münster and Hameln. Indeed, Contades' army lay immediately to the south of Minden, communicating by three bridges with Broglie's corps on the other side of the Weser. Contades' right rested on Minden and the Weser, and his left on wooded hills while his front was covered by a wide morass traversed by the Bastau brook. However, the position, strong as it was, did not allow his army to move easily in all directions. Furthermore, the protection of the lines of communication between Minden and the French base at Kassel required to maintain strong detachments in the areas of Gohfeld and Herford. Ferdinand decided to gradually establish advanced posts in the villages in front of his position. His army counted 50,800 men (39,170 foot, 11,630 horse) excluding light troops.

Allies approach Minden

On July 18

  • Allies
    • Wangenheim's Corps took position before Todtenhausen while a detachment of 500 foot and 50 horse were posted at Fredewald.
    • Near Lippstadt, the Bückeburg Carabiniers dispersed a French party.

By July 19, the French armies (a total of 129 bns and 138 sqns) were deployed as follows in Western Germany:

  • garrisons in Wetterau (8 bns, 2 sqns)
  • in Hesse (8 bns, 8 sqns)
  • in the Bishopric of Paderborn (3 bns)
  • before Lippstadt (4 bns, 16 sqns)
  • Left Reserve before Münster under d’Armentières (19 bns, 20 sqns)
  • before Hameln (4 bns, 2 sqns)
  • Right Reserve under Broglie (14 bns, 27 sqns)
  • main army (69 bns, 63 sqns)

On July 19, Allied piquets were posted at Stemmern and Holthausen. At night, they attacked French hussars at Hille, capturing 40 of them.

On the night of July 19 to 20, d’Armentières opened the trench on the northeastern face of the fortifications of Münster. He also established two batteries against the fortifications, which were located between the Neubrücker Gate and the Hörter Gate.

On July 20

  • French
    • A French detachment (150 men) appeared before Vechta.
  • Allies
    • Ferdinand ordered to make openings in the dyke between Holthausen and Todtenhausen to ease passage of his army to the plain of Minden.
    • When he heard about the French detachment, Ferdinand detached one of his adjutant, the Hessian Captain von Schlieffen with 400 Hessian Jägers, 2 sqns of Hesse-Kassel Hussars and 200 men of the Hanoverian Karl Breidenbach Dragoons to relieve the small garrison of Vechta. Furthermore, Dreves was ordered to march from Bremen with 2 bns to reinforce Schlieffen’s detachment.

On the night of July 20 to 21 at Münster, with the arrival of his heavy artillery from Wesel, d’Armentières established batteries to fire on the western side of the citadel. Two additional batteries were established south of the flooded area to take the defensive works in reverse.

On July 21

  • Allies
    • Infantry piquets were posted at Nord, Hemmern, Holthausen and Stemmern while cavalry piquets were placed between Fredewald and Holthausen.
    • 2 Hanoverian grenadier bns under Colonel von Laffert took position in Lahde on the east bank of the Weser.
    • The Luckner Hussars were posted in the vicinity of Bückeburg.
    • Without waiting for the 2 bns arriving from Bremen, Schlieffen advanced on Vechta and forced the French detachment to retire.

On July 22

  • Allies
    • Wangenheim's Corps, now numbering some 10,000 men, took new positions with Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg Infantry encamped near the windwill before Petershagen.
    • On the Lower Rhine, Zastrow and the garrison evacuated the City of Münster and retired into the citadel. The French entered into the town and took a few prisoners.

On July 24

  • Allies
    • The Allies perfected their bridge of boats near Ovenstädt and Colonel von Laffert with his 2 Hanoverian grenadier bns, which were posted on the other side of the Weser at Windheim and Jössen, were assigned to its protection.

On July 25

  • French
    • At 3:00 a.m., the French batteries finally opened on the citadel of Münster. Around 8:00 a.m., the Allied garrison under the command of Zastrow hoisted the white flag and a capitulation was concluded shortly afterwards. The 3,100 men of the garrison became prisoners of war.
    • D’Armentières then turned his attention to Lippstadt which was blockaded by Chevreuse’s Corps since the beginning of July. The commander had already taken dispositions to prevent the storming of the place, flooding the southern and southeastern approaches while the Lippe and Moore river covered the rest of the place on the north and west. In front of such a strong place, Chevreuse had no choice but to wait for the arrival of d’Armentières with some heavy artillery.

Ferdinand decided to threaten the line of communication of the French army. This line reached Minden by way of Herford. Ferdinand hoped that such a threat would induce Contades to move out of his unassailable positions behind the moors or to offer battle.

On July 27

  • Allies
    • Near Minden, the Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg Infantry and the heavy artillery brigade took position behind the grenadier bns.
    • In the afternoon, the Hereditary Prince set off from Petershagen with 6 bns (Alt Zastrow, Diepenbroick, Behr, Bock, the 2 bns of the Brunswick Leib-Regiment and the Volontaires de Prusse), 8 Hanoverian dragoon sqns (Busche and Bock) and 2 Prussian hussar sqns (1 sqn of the Ruesch Hussars and 1 sqns of the Malachowski Hussars), totalling some 6,000 men with 16 heavy guns, and marched southwestward across the Wiehen Hills towards Lübbecke to threaten the French left flank and the supply line between Minden and Paderborn.
    • General von Dreves, who was posted at Bremen with 4 bns, was instructed to make a junction with the detachment of the Hereditary Prince.

On July 28

  • Allies
    • In the morning, the Hereditary Prince drove the Bercheny Hussards and Volontaires du Hainaut out of Lübbecke, where they protected Contades' left flank. During their retreat, the Bercheny Hussards were joined at the defile by the Turpin Hussards, Volontaires de Prague and Volontaires de Muret. These French forces repulsed the Allied detachment pursuing the Volontaires du Hainaut.
    • Dreves appeared before Osnabrück, which was garrisoned by the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince. The French repulsed his attack. At this moment, Schlieffen’s detachment crossed the Hase River and appeared on the west side of the city, surprising the guards, forcing a gate and making its way into Osnabrück. Part of the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince managed to escape, leaving 2 guns behind, but many were taken prisoners. They retired on Hille and Münster.
    • Dreves resumed his march to effect a junction with the detachment of the Hereditary Prince.
    • The Gilsa Infantry, arriving from Stolzenau, joined the Allied army.
  • French
    • When Contades was informed that the Bercheny Hussards had been driven out of Lübbecke, he detached Lieutenant-General Duc de Brissac with 2,000 foot, 1,00 horse and 5 heavy artillery pieces to Bünde. He also ordered the Bercheny Hussards and Turpin Hussards to join Brissac’s forces.

Prelude to the Battle of Minden

On July 29

  • Allies
    • The Hereditary Prince, turning eastward, pursued his operations against the French communications and marched from Lübbecke to Riemsloh. Dreves, arriving from Osnabrück, made a junction with the Hereditary Prince at Riemsloh. The Hereditary Prince was now at the head of approx. 9,700 men with 16 heavy artillery pieces.
    • Ferdinand, leaving Wangenheim's corps isolated about Todtenhausen, led the rest of the army in 3 columns by the right from Petershagen southwestwards. His columns were composed as follows:
      • 1st column under Ferdinand of Brunswick: 1st line
      • 2dn column under Count Lippe-Bückeburg: heavy artillery
      • 3rd column under Spörcken: 2nd line
    • The main army encamped between Hille and Fredewald with the villages of Nord Hemmern and Holthausen to its front. The British held the place of honour on the right of the line. The British 12th Napier's Foot and 20th Kingley's Foot were assigned at the guard of Ferdinand's headquarters at Hille. Ferdinand instructed all general officers to get acquainted with all routes susceptible to lead their troops to the plain of Minden. Piquets were pushed on to Sud Hemmern, Hartum, and Hahlen villages on the eastern side of Hille, along the morass. From these new positions, Ferdinand could rapidly come to the support of the Hereditary Prince if Contades moved against him, or attack Contades’ Army if it advanced into the plain of Minden.
    • Wangenheim, although isolated at Todtenhausen with his corps and the Grenadier Corps, was strongly entrenched, with several guns. He covered the flank of Ferdinand’s Army during its march. Furthermore, his position covered the only outlet by which the French could debouch from behind the marsh. This secured the safe passage of Allied convoys from the Lower Weser by way of Nienburg and the bridges on the Weser.
    • Ferdinand made sure that his left could rapidly link with Wangenheim's right.
  • French
    • D'Armentières' corps marched from Münster towards Lippstadt, stopping at Rheda for the night.

On July 30

  • Allies
    • In the evening, Lieutenant-General von Gilsa marched from the Allied camp at the head of 3 bns (Linstrow, Prinz Karl and Brunswick I./Behr) to take post at Lübbecke and establish communication between the main army and the corps of the Hereditary Prince.
    • The Hereditary Prince advanced towards Herford.
  • French
    • Contades was expecting an important bread convoy and 2,400,000 Livres from Herford.
    • Brissac’s Corps skirmished with some troops belonging to the corps of the Hereditary Prince, which retired to Riemsloh. The bread convoy and the treasury chest safely reached Minden.
    • On the Lower Rhine, the first elements of d’Armentières’ forces arrived before Lippstadt.

A party at the French Court and in the French camp wished to replace Contades by Broglie at the head of the army. This party objected to Contades’ passivity. Furthermore, Belle-Isle, the minister of war, was urging Contades to make progress and to tap into the resources of Hanover and Brunswick to alleviate the burden of the war on the finance of the kingdom.

Contades, ignoring the dispositions taken by Ferdinand, considered that the Allied army was dispersed: the Hereditary Prince was at Herford with 10,000 men, 2,000 more were at Lübbecke, Ferdinand was at Hille with the greater part of the army, and Wangenheim had detached part of his 10,000 men across the Weser. In these conditions, Contades’ Army enjoyed a vast numerical superiority over Ferdinand’s Army. With his lines of communication with Paderborn and Kassel threatened, it looked very tempting for Contades to engage a battle against Ferdinand without waiting for the capture of Lippstadt by d’Armentières.

Similarly, Frederick was urging Ferdinand to attack the French.

On July 31

  • Allies
    • An Allied detachment of 300 dragoons of the right wing joined Gilsa at Lübbecke
    • The Hereditary Prince and General Dreves established themselves at Kirchlengern across the lines of communication between Minden and Paderborn and Kassel, cutting all supplies coming from the south to Contades' Army.
    • The Hereditary Prince decided to attack Brissac’s Corps the next morning.
  • French
    • Contades received the authorisation from the court to engage the Allied army. He could bring 51,000 men with 162 guns into the plain of Minden while Ferdinand could oppose him only 41,000 men and 170 guns. Contades then chose to attack the apparently isolated corps of Wangenheim and to pass the defile of Minden. Accordingly, he threw 8 bridges over the Bastau, a rivulet running between the morass and Minden, for the passage of his troops across it in as many columns and erected a battery of 6 guns on the causeway of Eickhorst leading to Hille through the morass. He also ordered Broglie to be ready to cross the Weser with his corps to form a 9th column upon his right.
    • In the evening, Brissac's Corps took position at Gohfeld with the Werra River to its front.
    • On the Lower Rhine, d'Armentières reached Langenberg, only 11 km north of Lippstadt.

Battle of Minden

On August 1

  • Battle of Minden
    • The Allied army defeated the French army in the Battle of Minden. The British infantry showed extraordinary bravery while British cavalry shamefully stayed out of the action.
  • Engagement of Gohfeld
    • At 3:00 a.m., the Hereditary Prince had set out from his camp at Quernheim, attacked and routed Brissac in the Engagement of Gohfeld.
  • French
    • Since the Hereditary Prince had already cut the line of communication from Minden to Paderborn and Kassel, where the French had considerable magazines, the French army was forced to retreat through countries where it had no subsistence.
    • On the Lower Rhine, d'Armentières arrived in front of Lippstadt, establishing his headquarters at Hellinghausen, 5 km west of the town and deploying the Légion Royale and Thianges Dragons northward at Warendorf and Telgte to guard his communications with Münster.

The Allies now had the initiative and proceeded to a general counter-offensive in Western Germany which by the end of the year had driven back the French to the positions that they had occupied at the beginning of the campaign.


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. 359-363, 397-417
  • Carlyle T. History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Vol. 19
  • Fortescue J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 478-498
  • Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763
    • Vol. 9 Bergen, Berlin, 1911, pp. 4, 50, 102
    • Vol. 11 Minden und Maxen, Berlin, 1912, pp. 1-22
  • Hotham (probably), The operations of the Allied Amy under the command of his Serene Highness Prince Ferdinand Duke of Brunswic and Luneberg beginning in the year 1757 and ending in the year 1762, London: T. Jefferies, 1764, pp. 74-135
  • Jomini, baron de, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, pp. 1-46
  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 356-417

Other Sources

Rogge, Christian, The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Savory, Reginald, His Britannic Majesty's Army in Germany during the Seven Years War, Oxford University Press: 1966

Service historique de l'armée de terre - A1 3518, pièce 40

Susane, Louis, Histoire de l'infanterie française, Librairie Militaire Maritime et Polytechnique de J. Corréard, Paris: 1876

Westphalen, Christian Heinrich Philipp, Geschichte der Feldzüge des Herzogs Ferdinand von Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Berlin: 1859