The History of the Bohemian Campaign

Austrian General Laudon In the middle of the 18th century, Central Europe experienced an entire decade of peace. The Kingdom of Prussia had prevailed in the 2nd Silesian War and the greater part of the former Austrian province of Silesia remained a Prussian province. In 1756, political tension in Europe was increasing once again. The Austrian Empress, Maria Theresia, had found powerful allies who might assist her in returning all of Silesia to Austrian rule.

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, realized that his small country stood little chance of defending itself against the combined armies of Austria, Saxony, Russia, France, Sweden, Bavaria, Württemberg and many of the smaller states in the Empire. In his predicament, he looked to England, a former enemy, who was to become his only major ally. King George agreed to send troops to fight alongside Frederick’s Hannoverian, Hesse-Cassel and Brunswick allies in the western theater of the war. Most importantly, King George offered to pay large subsidies, to support the Prussian war effort against the French army in the west. King George needed to have the French forces primarily committed to the European theater of war, to prevent them from interfering with British colonial expansion in North America and India. King George also paid large subsidies to the Ottoman Turks, to support their effort to keep Austrian and Russian forces engaged along their eastern borders.

In preparation for the campaigning season in 1756 all signs pointed to war, a global war. Frederick decided that a preemptive attack against his Saxon neighbours would knock them out of the war before Austria had a chance to reinforce the Saxons and launch a combined attack from that country. Frederick marched on Dresden, and the isolated Saxon army immediately retired to a fortified camp near the fortress of Königstein. Here they held out for two weeks, but when the Prussians defeated an Austrian relief column under General Browne, at the town of Lobositz, Bohemia, the Saxon army was compelled to surrender.

1757: The Fighting Continues

At the end of March 1757, Austrian and Prussian troops were ready to come out of winter quarters and engage the enemy again. It would be the second campaign of the war, with Prussia in control of Saxony and Upper Silesia. The following is a weekly account of the activities in the 1757 campaign game in Bohemia. New players are welcome to join the game, which is expected to last for 12-15 strategic rounds and a number of tactical battles resolved via e-mail. The Bohemian theater of operations is divided into three main sectors, and the troops deployed there as follows:

The western theater between Dresden in Saxony and Prague, Bohemia

  • Prussians under Frederick the Great, stationed at Dresden.
  • Austrians under Feldmarschall von Browne, at Schlan, just west of Prague.
Map of the western theater of operations 1. Frederick advances south to Tetschen, sends his brother Heinrich and General Kleist’s infantry brigade to Zittau, to support General Bevern. Browne advances north to Aussig.

2. Frederick meets Browne at Karbitz and offers battle. Browne realizes that his left flank is threatened by Prussian reinforcements arriving from the west, commanded by the popular General Moritz von Dessau. Browne declines battle and withdraws to Aussig instead.

3. Frederick and Moritz unite their forces at Aussig. Browne withdraws to Lobositz and is met there by Austrian reinforcements under General Arenberg.

4. Browne begins to entrench at Lobositz, Frederick does not attack, because Browne significantly outnumbers him now.

5. Feldmarschall Browne continues to entrench at Lobositz, determined to offer battle there. Frederick and Moritz von Dessau probe the Austrian defenses, but dare not attack an enemy which outnumbers them.

6. Frederick the Great, feeling ill and apparently in very bad spirits about the conduct of the campaign, is reported to have returned to Berlin. The combined Prussian forces at Aussig are now under the command of Moritz von Dessau who continues to observe the developments at Lobositz. Browne’s Austrians use the time to improve their trenches.

7. Feldmarschall Browne marches away from Lobositz with two brigades and a cavalry division, leaving General Arenberg with an estimated 20,000 troops and 68 guns to continue to hold the entrenched positions around the town. Moritz von Dessau attacks Arenberg at the Battle of Lobositz with nearly 30,000 troops and 152 guns. Hearing of the attack, Feldmarschall Browne turns his detachment around and marches back to Lobositz, but the Prussians are already defeated, and withdrawing to Aussig, by the time he arrives on the battlefield.

8. Moritz von Dessau halts his shattered brigades at Aussig and rallies as many stragglers as possible. Feldmarschall von Browne calls off the pursuit of the withdrawing Prussians due to the rough and swampy terrain encountered just south of Aussig.

9. Prinz Heinrich arrives at Aussig, reinforcing Moritz von Dessau. Feldmarschall Browne marches toward Schlan, leaving General Arenberg with the original Lobositz force to cover the approaches to Prague.

10. Prussian forces under Prinz Heinrich and Moritz von Dessau remain at Aussig. General Arenberg’s Austrians hold Lobositz. Feldmarschall Browne’s whereabouts are not reported at this time.

11. Prinz Heinrich advances on Lobositz, offering battle. General Arenberg refuses battle and withdraws to Budin. Feldmarschall von Browne is reported to have entered the central theater of operations at the town of Alt Bunzlau.

12. Prinz Heinrich and two brigades of infantry remain at Lobositz, facing Arenberg’s corps at Budin. Moritz von Dessau rests his forces at Aussig, within supporting distance of Heinrich. Prinz August Wilhelm von Preußen has been seen in Dresden lately.

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The central theater around Zittau in Saxony and Münchengrätz, Bohemia

  • Prussians under General Bevern, at Zittau.
  • Austrians under General Königseck, at Reichenberg, south-east of Zittau.
  • Austrians under General Macquire, at Gabel, south-west of Zittau.
Map of the central theater of operations 1. Bevern marches south-west, to attack Gabel and destroy Macquire’s isolated force before Königseck can come to his support. Königseck moves north to Zittau and takes the town. His forces are able to join the Battle of Gabel in the early afternoon hours, driving Bevern back to Zittau and saving Macquire’s troops from destruction.

2. Bevern receives reinforcements under Prinz Heinrich and General Kleist. Königseck assumes overall command of his own and Macquire’s troops (now commanded by General Noe de Crousatz) at Gabel.

3. Königseck withdraws south-east, to Münchengrätz. Bevern advances to Niemes, north-west of Münchengrätz.

4. Bevern attacks and is repulsed by General Königseck at the Battle of Münchengrätz.

5. Bevern collects stragglers and regroups his forces at Niemes. Königseck remains at the town of Münchengrätz, regrouping his forces.

6. General Bevern continues to hold Niemes, resting his troops and waiting for General Winterfeldt to bring up Prussian forces in the rear of General Königseck. By nightfall, Winterfeldt’s forces have entered central Bohemia at the town of Jitschin, within striking distance of Münchengrätz.

7. Generals Bevern and Winterfeldt converge on Münchengrätz from east and west, forcing General Königseck to give up the untenable position and withdraw south, to the town of Jung Bunzlau.

8. General Bevern marches his combined force south, to Alt Lissa, maintaining contact with Königseck’s Austrian force which withdrew to Alt Bunzlau, north-east of Praque. Austrian cavalry patrols are reported to be operating in Bevern’s rear, as far south as Jung Bunzlau.

9. General Königseck halts his withdrawal at Alt Bunzlau, facing General Bevern who continues to hold the town of Alt Lissa, just across the Iser river. Both sides patrol vigorously, but neither dares advance. Austrian cavalry patrols continue to operate in Bevern’s rear.

10. Königseck continues to hold Alt Bunzlau. General Bevern remains at Alt Lissa and entrenches his force there. Bevern sends General Winterfeldt and a division of Prussian cavalry north, toward Sobotka, to clear out enemy cavalry patrols in that area.

11. General Bevern remains in his entrenched position at Alt Lissa. Feldmarschall Daun arrives in the central theater of operations from the direction of Jitschin. Daun’s corps of infantry, cavalry and artillery advances on Münchengrätz, pushing General Winterfeldt’s cavalry corps back to Niemes and cutting Bevern’s supply lines. Feldmarschall von Browne arrives at Alt Bunzlau with a corps of infantry, cavalry and artillery, joining General Königseck there and putting himself in overall command of the combined army.

12. Bevern withdraws to Jung Bunzlau, apparently in an effort to break out of the pocket. Feldmarschall von Browne pursues and engages the Prussian corps from the south, Feldmarschall Daun arrives from the north and attacks Bevern, completing the encirclement. General Winterfeldt and the Prussian cavalry corps remain at Niemes, too far away to support Bevern at the Battle of Jung Bunzlau. Unable to break out of the encirclement, General von Bevern surrenders before nightfall.

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The eastern theater around Königgrätz in Bohemia and the Silesian border.

  • Prussians under General Schwerin, at Schweidnitz, Silesia.
  • Prussians under General Winterfeldt, at Landeshut, Silesia.
  • Austrians under General Serbelloni, at Königgrätz.
Map of the eastern theater of operations 1. Winterfeldt marches to Trautenau, Schwerin reaches Eipel.

2. Winterfeldt puts his force under Schwerin’s command at Königinhof. Serbelloni begins to entrench at Königgrätz.

3. Generalfeldmarschall Schwerin defeats Feldmarschall Serbelloni at the Battle of Königgrätz.

4. Serbelloni retreats to Podebrad. Winterfeldt pursues as far west as Kratenau. Schwerin cuts Austrian supply lines south of the Elbe, at Pardubitz.

5. Schwerin advances west, toward Prag, cutting supply lines at Prelouc and Kolin, threatening a move against Serbelloni’s rear at the town of Bömisch Brod. Winterfeldt advances west, offering battle at Podebrad. Serbelloni does not accept battle, withdrawing to Bömisch Brod instead, covering the roads to Prag.

6. Serbelloni remains at Bömisch Brod, protecting the eastern approaches to Prague. Winterfeldt destroys the bridge at Podebrad and marches north, against Münchengrätz. By nightfall, he has entered the central theater of operations at the town of Jitschin. Schwerin withdraws to Pardubitz, apparently in an attempt to pull back across the Elbe.

7. General Schwerin crosses to the northern side of the Elbe, destroys the bridge at Pardubitz and reaches Königgrätz by nightfall. Serbelloni’s Austrians continue to hold Bömisch Brod.

8. General Schwerin withdraws his infantry regiment north-east, to Jaromer, and destroys the bridge across the Upper Elbe to protect his rear. Feldmarschall Daun arrives at Königgrätz with a large Austrian force, leaves a garrison at the town and marches west, arriving at Jitschin by nightfall.

9. Daun’s force remains at Jitschin, with cavalry patrols operating in the area around Münchengrätz. Schwerin’s Prussian force marches away from Jaromer, destination unknown.

10. Feldmarschall Daun continues to hold Jitschin, but Austrian cavalry patrols are pushed back by a large force of Prussian cavalry under the command of General Winterfeldt. The Prussians reach Sobotka by nightfall and establish themselves there.

11. Feldmarschall Daun advances on Münchengrätz, pushing Winterfeldt’s cavalry as far west as Niemes and entering the central theater of operations.

12. General Schwerin and the 46th Infanterie-Regiment are reported to have returned to Jaromer. Austrian infantry continues to Garrison Königgrätz. The Prussian envoy in Vienna reports meeting General Serbelloni at the opera on Sunday afternoon. There is a rumour that General Macquire has been given command of Serbelloni’s corps in Bohemia.

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