1759 - Russian campaign in Silesia
The campaign lasted from September to October 1759
On August 29, the Konferéntsiya (Conference of the Highest Court) sent instructions from St. Petersburg to General Count Piotr Semionovitch Saltykov, to inform him that no further action was expected from him during the present campaign in Brandenburg. He just had to keep Frederick’s Army busy, while Field Marshal Daun would drive back Prince Heinrich to Upper Silesia, take Glogau (present-day Glogow) and secure winter-quarters for the Russians and the Austrians in Prussian territory. The Russian army would then take position between the Oder and the Bober rivers. However, if Daun could not secure these winter-quarters, Saltykov was invited to retreat to Poland.
On August 30
- The Russians and Loudon’s Corps marched from Grunow to Lieberose.
- Hadik's Austrian corps reached Lamsfeld about 6 km from the Russian camp.
- Frederick II left his camp at Fürstenwalde and marched to a new camp, west of Beeskow.
Saltykov could not risk to be cut from his supply bases on the Vistula. Therefore, despite Loudon’s insistence, he decided to retire to Guben (present-day Gubin) and to send a detachment to secure his crossing near Crossen (present-day Krosno Odrzańskie).
On August 31, Frederick reached the camp of Waldow on the road from Lieberose to Lübben, thus covering Lübben and Luckau and his lines of communication with Berlin, Saxony and Lusatia. He sent a party forward on Lübben and Vetschau to clear the region from Austrian light troops. Frederick hoped that the Russians would soon be forced to evacuate the left bank of the Oder due to lack of forage for their numerous cavalry.
On September 4, Hadik quitted Lamsfeld and marched southwards between Peitz.
On September 5, Hadik reached Kahren, near Cottbus. It was still unclear whether he was heading for Saxony or Lusatia.
On September 6, Daun informed Saltykov of the capitulation of Dresden. Saltykov responded with complaints about the lack of forage, and accusations about the inaction of the Austrians. He concluded that he would have to wait for orders from the Court at St. Petersburg. He was far from enthusiast about Daun’s suggestion that the Russians should march along the Oder towards Glogau, capture this city and take their winter-quarters in Silesia. In fact he had no siege artillery. He demanded Daun to give battle to Prince Heinrich. He himself did not want to take any additional risk.
While at Sagan (present-day Żagań), Prince Heinrich was informed of the march of the Russian army towards Saxony. He decided to turn the enemy positions by a wide sweep southwards through Buntzlau (present-day Bolesławiec) and then westwards to Görlitz in order to reach Saxony.
On September 11, Field Marshal Daun was informed of Prince Heinrich's movements, he set off from his camp at Sorau (present-day Żary) on the border of Lower Silesia and marched to Spremberg to cover his conquests in Saxony.
On September 13, when General Saltykov heard that Daun had retired from his camp at Sorau, he threatened to retire to Crossen. The French envoy, the Marquis de Montalembert, made every effort to persuade him to undertake the siege of Glogau in Lower Silesia instead of the planned retreat. Agreeing to this plan, Saltykov required reinforcements from Daun.
On September 14, Saltykov sent his baggage from Lieberose to Guben.
It was now clear the the Russians could not depend on Daun<s assistance in Silesia.
The Russians march towards Lower Silesia
On September 15
- Saltykov set off from Lieberose with the Russian army and marched eastwards to Guben, where he encamped to the east of the Neisse River.
- In the afternoon’ Loudon’s Corps, acting as rearguard, followed. The garrison left behind by Hadik at Peitz destroyed the defensive works of the place and then rejoined Loudon’s Corps.
- Daun sent a detachment of 10,000 men under the command of Campitelli from Bautzen to reinforce the Russian army. Campitelli marched by Muskau (present-day Bad Muskau).
On September 16
- When Frederick heard of the retreat of the Russians to Guben, he advanced with his army southwards by way of Lübben, where he crossed the Spree River, and reached Vetschau. There he finally received some news from Prince Heinrich, who had now reached Görlitz. Frederick sent Lieutenant-Colonel von Beust forward to Spremberg with his 200 men of the Ruesch Hussars to establish communication with the corps of Prince Heinrich.
On September 17
- Frederick’s Army marched to Cottbus. Frederick hoped that the Russians would soon continue their retreat to the Oder, and wanted to induce them to accelerate their movement.
- Colonel von Belling was sent to Berlin with the detachment previously posted at Beeskow and Trebatsch
- Lieutenant-General von Manteuffel was instructed to drive the Swedes out of the Uckermark where they were currently operating.
- After all these detachments, Frederick was still at the head of 24,000 men.
- In the evening, Frederick detached Colonel von Linden with 4 bns and 5 sqns from Cottbus to Spremberg. Pálffy’s Hussar Brigade, which was posted there, retired to Lohsa.
On September 18
- Saltykov quitted his camp of Guben marched eastwards again in the direction of Christianstadt (present-day Krzystkowice), reaching Starzeddel (present-day Starosiedle).
On September 19
- The Russian army marched to Sommerfeld (present-day Lubsko).
- Frederick’s Army marched from Cottbus to Forst.
- Colonel Linden reached Muskau, narrowly observed by Pálffy’s Hussar Brigade, which ceased to follow the Prussian army from that point.
- Frederick intended to advance against Daun but, when he realized that the Austro-Russian army was making for Silesia and Glogau by a wide sweep northwards. Frederick was determined to prevent this fortress from falling into Saltykov’s hands.
- The Fortress of Glogau was defended by Colonel von Hacke with I./Garrison Regiment Lange and a bn of Garrison Regiment Jung-Sydow, which had been sent from Grünberg (present-day Zielona Góra).
On September 20
- Saltykov rested his army near Sommerfeld.
- Loudon’s Corps marched to Christianstadt where Campitelli’s reinforcements, which had force marched by way of Muskau, made a junction with his corps.
- Frederick’s Amy force marched 40 km to reach Schönwalde (unidentified location), west of Sorau. Linden’s detachment rejoined the army. Frederick then asked Prince Heinrich and Fouqué for reinforcements.
On September 21
- Saltykov reached Christianstadt on the right bank of the Bober where he was joined by Campitelli. However, Saltykov found no adequate supplies there.
- Frederick’s Army crossed the Bober River near Sagan. The entire Prussian army then encamped with its left on the Galgenberg and its right at Eckersdorf (unidentified location), east of Sagan. From this position, Frederick was able to make a junction with Prince Heinrich and to relieve Glogau while separating Saltykov's army from Daun's.
On September 22
- Saltykov’s Army crossed the Bober near Christianstadt and encamped near Langhermsdorf (present-day Urzuty), on its way to Carolath (present-day Siedlisko) where Saltykov had given rendezvous to his transports coming from Poland.
- FML Loudon took position at Oberherzogswaldau (unidentified location), west of Freystadt (present-day Kożuchów) to cover the Austro-Russian army.
- Frederick gave a day’s rest to his army at the camp of Eckersdorf.
On September 23
- Before daybreak, Frederick’s Army was on the march. It reached the heights of the Katzen Mountains near Suckau (present-day Żuków), thus protecting the Neustädtel Pass (present-day Nowe Miasteczko) and covering Glogau.
- Saltykov reached Freystadt.
- A party of Russian hussars and Cossacks was preparing to encamp near Neustädtel when they heard of the approach of the Prussians. This party quickly retreated.
- Loudon tried to occupy Neustädtel, but Frederick’s troops had preceded him. Loudon reported the situation to Saltykov, who was much displeased with these news.
- At 6:00 p.m., Saltykov held a council of war at Freystadt. The Russian generals decided to retire to Beuthen (present-day Bytom Odrzański) where the army would cross the Oder River. Saltykov then informed Loudon, who had not been called to the council, of the decision, mentioning that, with Frederick’s Army nearby, it was useless to try to capture Glogau and that, since the Russian army was running short of provisions, he had to retire to the other bank of the Oder.
On September 24
- Around 10:30 a.m., the Russian army marched towards Beuthen, while Loudon’s Corps covered its right flank.
- Saltykov continued his march further downstream to Költsch (present-day Kiełcz), where he encamped for the night, halfway between Beuthen and Carolath, where he would get his supplies.
- Around noon, the Prussian outposts reported that the Russians were retiring. Frederick marched by the right and took position on the heights of Baunau (present-day Bonów), Zöbelwitz (present-day Sobolice) and Milkau (present-day Miłaków), south of Beuthen. His advanced posts drove back Quartermaster-General von Stoffeln and the Russian fourriers, who were preparing the Russian camp at Beuthen. Major-General Count Totleben immediately came to the support of the Russians with a large party of Cossacks. There were skirmishes between light troops of both armies until the evening.
- Frederick stretched his positions, deploying in a single line, from the heights near Nenkersdorf (unidentified location), southeast of Beuthen, up to Baunau, thus blocking the road leading to Glogau. His army remained under arms throughout the night.
On September 25
- The Russians moved to a new camp, opposite Carolath, and started to build a bridge over the Oder River.
- Loudon asked Saltykov what he intended to do and Saltykov threatened once more to retire to Poland. Finally Montalembert, the French envoy, convinced Saltykov to stay in the area.
- Frederick entrenched his positions, establishing his headquarters in Baunau.
On September 26
- Saltykov informed Daun that he would cross the Oder River because the current position of Frederick’s Army did not allow the Russians to establish their winter-quarters in Silesia. He planned to manoeuvre along the Oder until mid-October to fix Frederick’s Army, and then to retire to the Vistula River to take up his winter-quarters. He also warned Daun that, if ever Loudon would refuse to cross the Oder, the Russian army would immediately set off fro the Vistula. Loudon was worried about the food supply for his troops in Poland, and shied away from the long way back through Poland and Moravia, and had therefore expressed the wish to return to Daun's army via Christianstadt. However, Daun instructed him to comply with Saltykov's request so that the Russians would keep Frederick’s Army in check until mid-October.
- Several convalescents also arrived from Breslau (present-day Wrocław).
- Frederick was informed that Beck intended to march on Glogau with his Austrian light corps, and make a junction with the Russian army.
On September 27
On September 28
- A detachment of 6 bns (Alt-Stutterheim Infantry, Jung-Stutterheim Infantry, Jung Braunschweig Fusiliers) and 1 sqn of Werner Hussars, which had been sent from Görlitz by Prince Heinrich under General Queiss, arrived at Frederick’s camp. With these reinforcements, Frederick was now at the head of 31,000 men.
- There were still Freibataillon Le Noble, IV./Garrison Regiment No. VI Lattorf and 2 sqns of Werner Hussars in Hirschberg under Colonel Le Noble. This detachment was soon joined by Grenadier Battalion Unruh and 2 sqns of the Bayreuth Dragoons, returning from the army of Prince Heinrich and by I./Markgraf Heinrich Fusiliers arriving from Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Góra).
On September 29
- Saltykov’s Army started to cross to the right bank of the Oder on three bridges at Carolath.
- Loudon remained on the left bank.
On September 30
- Saltykov’s Army continued to cross the Oder until late at night. Loudon’s Corps then followed.
- Major-General von der Goltz assumed command of the detachment assembled at Hirschberg. Fouqué sent I./Mosel Infantry from Neisse (present-day Nysa) to Hirschberg.
At the end of September, a detachment under Major von Wurmb of the I./Garrison Regiment Lange set off from Glogau to destroy a Russian magazine in Kalisch (present-day Kalisz) as ordered by Prince Heinrich. However, the detachment bumped into a stronger enemy forces and even lost two cannon during its retreat.
On October 1
- In the morning, Loudon’s cavalry and a few hundred Cossacks were the last troops to cross the Oder.
- Early in the morning, Fredrick advanced, by way of Neustädtel, towards the bridge of the Russians at Carolath with 6 bns, his hussars and his dragoons, but he was unable to catch up with the rearguard, which had already broken the bridges.
- Seelhorst’s detachment reached the vicinity of Löwenberg (present-day Lwówek Slaski) and later made a junction with the detachment of Major-General von der Goltz near Hirschberg.
- Beck retired towards Zittau.
On October 2
- Saltykov marched to Kuttlau (present-day Kotla), advancing towards Glogau from the right bank of the Oder. His army encamped between Bielawa (probably Bielawy k Glogowa) and Kuttlau, to the northwest of Glogau.
- Fearing that the Russians would bombard Glogau, Frederick set off from Baunau with his army and marched towards Glogau. He himself with his hussars, 3 cavalry rgts and 8 bns marched through Glogau and took position on the right bank of the Rabsen. He then established his headquarters at Zerbau (present-day Serby). However, the enemy had no design against Glogau and were busy foraging and devastating the country.
On October 4
- Saltykov’s Army marched eastwards up to Schlichtingsheim (present-day Szlichtyngowa) and Schwusen (present-day Wyszanów) at the mouth of the Bartsch River (present-day Barycz River). Saltykov was now threatening Breslau.
- When Frederick realized that Saltykov planned to remain in the region, he detached Major-General von Schmettau with 3 bns and 10 sqns to Golgowitz (present-day Gołkowice), where he took position on the left bank of the Oder, opposite Schwusen, with only the Oder to separate him from the Russian army.
On October 5
- Frederick sent 4 additional bns to reinforce Schmettau’s detachment at Golgowitz. The Russians and the Prussians then cannonaded each other to no effect.
On October 7
- Saltykov’s Army marched upstream along the Bartsch River up to Gross-Osten (unidentified location).
- Seeing that the Russians did not threaten Breslau any more, Frederick recalled the troops posted on the right bank near Glogau to Klein Gaffron (present-day Gawronki). Schmettau’s detachment also rejoined the main army.
- Lieutenant-General von Kanitz was sent to Radschütz (present-day Radoszyce) on the Oder with 4 bns to draw the attention of the enemy by building a bridge.
In the night of October 7 to 8, Frederick, who had only 27 pontoons, established a trestle bridge further upstream near Köben (present-day Chobienia), under protection of the woods on the right bank of the Oder.
On October 8
- In the morning, Frederick’s Army marched to Klein Gaffron, crossed to the right bank of the Oder at Köben, leaving all baggage and pack horses on the left bank. Only a few parties of Cossacks showed up but they were soon driven back by the Prussian artillery.
- Frederick encamped in the wooded area between Hünern (present-day Psary) and Lübchen (present-day Lubów) with the marshy banks of the Bartsch in front of the camp. Outposts were established at all crossing places:
- Frederick established his headquarters in Sophienthal (present-day Zofiówka).
- Frederick’s manoeuvre brought Saltykov to a halt.
On October 14 at Sophienthal, Frederick fell ill of gout and could not stir from his room for three weeks. He nevertheless continued to assume command of his army.
On October 19
- Saltykov sent a detachment to prepare a new camp for his planned withdrawal the following day. However, at 6:00 PM, fresh orders arrived from Saint Petersburg. His haughty disregard for his Austrian allies had resulted in a formal diplomatic complaint in St. Petersburg and the Konferéntsiya (Conference of the Highest Court) reprimanded him for his failure to exploit his victory at Kunersdorf. It also disapproved of bringing Loudon's troops to the right bank of the Oder, while they would have been much more useful to Daun's army. The Conference also considered that his behavior towards Loudon would make it more difficult in the future to place Austrian troops under Russian command. Saltykov was ordered to continue his enterprise against Breslau.
On October 22
- Saltykov's Army marched to Sandeborschke (present-day Czarnoborsko) in front of Herrnstadt.
- Loudon marched to Babiele (unidentified location).
- Frederick, who was still ill, ordered Lieutenant-General von Hülsen to advance with the army (22,572 foot, 6,203 horse) along the south bank of the Bartsch to Kurtcheborwitz (present-day Chocieborowice), to the southwest of Herrnstadt.
- Frederick himself remained at Sophienthal, guarded by the I./Garde and Wied Fusiliers and a mixed bn of convalescent from the army of Prince Heinrich. Hauss Fusiliers guarded the bridge at Köben,
On October 23
- The Russians summoned the Freibataillon Colignon, which was occupying Herrnstadt, to surrender the village. When Colonel von Kleist refused to do so, the Russian artillery bombarded the village. By the evening the village was reduced to ashes but the Freibataillon Collignon still held its position.
- It was the last action in this campaign, for the order had now arrived from St. Petersburg to move part of the army to its winter-quarters on the Warthe River and try to retain Loudon's Corps as well. Loudon answered that he should first obtain the authorisation of the court in Vienna.
- For his part, Saltykov considered that it was impossible to spend winter on the Warthe River because of lack of provisions and fodder. He asked St. Petersburg for the authorisation to take his winter-quarters on the Vistula.
On October 24
- Saltykov’s Army marched to Punitz (present-day Poniec).
- Loudon’s Corps marched to Dzientschin (unidentified location).
On October 26 and 27
- Frederick brought back most of his army behind the Oder near Köben, leaving only a small corps (9 bns and 20 sqns) under Major-General von Schmettau near Trachenberg on the Bartsch River, to observe Loudon's manoeuvres.
On October 27
- Frederick gave orders to the 200 convalescent cuirassiers (40 men of each of the Gens d’Armes, Carabiniers, Seydlitz, Vasold and Schmettau) of the Army of Saxony (Prince Heinrich) to rejoin their respective units.
- Frederick personally went from Sophienthal to Köben.
- General Meier replaced Fouqué's troops at Hirschberg and Landeshut with 5 bns and 10 sqns.
On October 30
- At Loudon's instigation, Saltykov advanced southwards to Rawitsch (present-day Rawicz).
- Loudon advanced to Korsenz (present-day Korzeńsko).
On November 1
- Instead of making the diversion that Loudon had suggestion on Breslau by way of Trachenberg, Saltykov retired northwards in the direction of Schrimm (present-day Srem) on his way to Posen (present-day Poznań).
- Loudon marched eastwards to Zduny, separating his corps from the Russian army. From Zduny, he wrote to Vienna that he had given up any hope of seeing Saltykov follow his advice.
- Frederick, still ill, crossed the Oder at Köben and reached Glogau. When he realized that the Russians were really retreating to Poland and that Daun was attempting to withdraw to Dresden or even to Bohemia, He then immediately sent the greater part of his force (19 bns and 30 sqns), under Hülsen to Saxony, and decided to join Prince Heinrich on this theatre of operation.
Loudon took a wide sweep round, by Kalish (present-day Kalisz) through the western parts of Poland. On his way, he received orders from Vienna, instructing him to remain on the Warthe River if Saltykov would leave some 25,000 men in the area. At this, Saltykov answered that he had to receive such orders from St. Petersburg first. Loudon then resumed his retreat along the Silesian border by way of Welun (present-day Wieluń) and Czenstochau (present-day Częstochowa), his troops suffering from lack of provisions and shelter. A large number of men deserted.
On November 7
- Leaving general Itzenplitz at the head of part of his army to observe the Russians, Frederick left for Saxony with about 20,000 men (see our article on the campaign in Saxony).
On November 8, Loudon’s Corps undertook in three columns the long retreat towards Krakau (present-day Kraków).
On November 13, Frederick made his junction with Prince Heinrich the castle of Hirschstein, some 2 km behind Lommatzsch.
On November 23 near Krakau, a Cossack officer brought Loudon the news that St. Petersburg had instructed Saltykov to put 10 regiments of infantry at Loudon's disposal if he stayed at Kalisch for the winter. Nevertheless, Loudon continued his retreat.
On November 27, Loudon’s vanguard reached the Austrian border at Bielitz (present-day Bielsko-Biała). His corps then marched to Troppau (present-day Opava) in Bohemia, concluding a march of more than 500 km. Upon arrival, his force, counting initially 20,000 men, was down to 10,000. Loudon then made a truce for the winter with Fouqué and his corps took up its winter-quarters in Moravia.
Empress Maria Theresa promoted Loudon to FZM for his conduct in this difficult campaign.
By the end of November, Saltykov’s Army was still in the vicinity of Schrimm and Posen. Throughout the month of November, its light troops had continued to plunder and devastate the Prussian borders.
The Russian army then retreated by four different roads towards the Vistula River.
At the end of the year, the Russian army took up its winter-quarters along the eastern bank of the Vistula from Elbing (present-day Elbląg) to Thorn (present-day Toruń). The Drewenz River (present-day Drwęca) covered its southern flank and the Frische Haff on the Baltic, its northern flank. A division was quartered on the west bank of the Vistula around Dirschau (present-day Tczew). The headquarters were established at Marienburg (present-day Malbork). The light troops formed a chain of outposts from Gnesen (present-day Gniezno), by way of Nakel (present-day Nakło nad Notecią) and Konitz (present-day Chojnice) up to Oliva (present-day Oliwa), near Danzig (present-day Gdansk).
This article consists essentially of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 11 Minden und Maxen, Berlin, 1912, pp. 134-146
- Jomini, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, vol 2, 2nd ed., Paris:1811, pp. 154-160, 175-180, 194
- Carlyle T. History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Vol. 19
- Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 459-460