Battle of Chotusitz

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Battle of Chotusitz
Part of the War of the Austrian Succession
Date May 17, 1742
Location Chotusice, Bohemia
49°56′N 15°23′E / 49.933°N 15.383°E / 49.933; 15.383Coordinates: 49°56′N 15°23′E / 49.933°N 15.383°E / 49.933; 15.383
Result Prussian Victory
Belligerents
Habsburg Monarchy[1] Austria  Prussia
Commanders and leaders
Habsburg MonarchyPrince Charles Alexander of Lorraine Kingdom of Prussia Frederick the Great
Strength
30,000[2]
40 cannon[3]
28,000
88 cannon[4]
Casualties and losses
7,000:[5][6]
1,052 dead
5,000 to 6,000 wounded, missing including:
1,000 captured[7]
18 guns
7,000:[8][9]
1,905 dead
4,000 to 5,000 wounded, missing including:
1,000 captured

The Battle of Chotusitz, or Chotusice, sometimes called the Battle of Czaslau, was fought on May 17, 1742 in Bohemia between the Austrians under Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine and the Prussians under Frederick the Great. The battle was a part of the War of the Austrian Succession sometimes referred to as the First Silesian War. The armies were about equal at 28,000 to 30,000 each, with the Prussians having about 2,000 more infantry and the Austrians some 2,000 more cavalry.[10] The Austrians were attempting to retake occupied Prague and the Prussians were trying to block them from accomplishing that. The battle of Chotusitz was especially notable in that it was the only major battle started by the Austrians during this war.[11]

Preliminary maneuvers[edit]

Frederick II

Prince Charles had entered Bohemia with the intention of liberating the occupied capital of Prague. Faulty intelligence misinformed him of the strength of the Prussians in the area and he was unaware that Frederick was before of him with the main Prussian force. The Prussian army had divided with Frederick leading the vanguard about 10,000 strong,[12] marching on Kuttenberg, Kutna Hora, with the intent of preventing the Austrians from reaching Prague. The main army of nearly 20,000 followed a day later under Prince Leopold of Anhalt. With the two Prussians forces a day's march apart and out of supporting distance of each other Charles had an opportunity of inflicting a defeat in detail on one, or both, of the Prussian forces.

Charles of Lorraine

Unfortunately, a wary Charles hesitated for a day and the two Prussians forces, realizing the danger, both moved towards each other. Leopold marching through the night reached Chotusitz at 2 A.M. and established tenuous contact with Frederick. Leopold went into camp a little north of what was to be the field of battle on the plain in the valley of the Elbe near the small hamlet of Chotusitz. Charles of Lorraine, hoping to catch Leopold cut off from Frederick while the Prussians were divided, advanced north with his force in four columns. He decided to attempt a night attack, or camisade. Charles' overnight advance took longer than anticipated and it was well after dawn that he approached the field with 30,000 troops.[13] Alerted to the danger, Frederick gave Leopold instructions to deploy on Chotusitz and hold until the rest of the Prussians could come up with Frederick, bringing their forces up to 28,000.

Frederick gave orders to Leopold to deploy leaving room for Frederick's force to come in on the right and he then began marching towards the field at 4 A.M. with the intent of arriving at 7 A.M.. Leopold marched from the camp to Chotusitz and positioned his troops facing south-east in the town and to the right and left with cavalry on each flank with each flank resting on difficult terrain. The left flank terrain was very broken with gullies and ponds and unsuitable for the cavalry. On the right, Leopold's cavalry wing under the seventy-year-old Wilhelm Dietrich von Buddenbrock, a veteran who had fought at Oudenarde, spread his cavalry line to the right to take advantage of a rise in the ground which conceal its extent, allowing Buddenbrock to out flank the oncoming Austrian left flank cavalry.

Charles advanced north from the town Czaslau but difficult ground slowed him and the army drifted slightly to their right, aggravating their vulnerability to an attack by Buddenbrock on their left flank.

Battle[edit]

Battle of Chotusitz

By 7 A.M. the Austrians were deployed and had advanced to within cannon shot while Frederick had arrived on the field with the rest of the Prussian army. At 8 A.M. Charles ordered a general attack. Frederick rode up the rise behind which Buddenbrock's cavalry was partially concealed, observed the Austrian position, quickly unlimbered some guns and began cannonading the Austrian cavalry. Under cover of this fire, Buddenbrock's cavalry advanced at a trot and then at a gallop. The Prussian line, in a furious charge, outflanking the Austrian first line, broke and drove the Austrians back on their second line. The day was hot and dry and the cavalry mêlée raised a huge cloud of dust in which the second line of Austrian cavalry now overthrew Buddenbrock sending the Prussian cavalry tumbling back broken, pursued by the Austrians and having suffered over 2,000 casualties.[14] The Austrian cavalry was then stopped and driven back by a some cavalry under Rothenburg and couple of Prussian infantry regiments and this flank settled down for a time to some minor clashes and feints.

The broken ground on the Prussian left prevented their cavalry there from supporting the infantry in the town of Chotusitz. The Austrian infantry stormed the town and took it almost completely except for a small section that held out. Failing to completely clear the town, the Austrians set it on fire at about 9 A.M.. Austrian right flank cavalry advanced, encountered the same difficult ground but managed some successful charges. These were ultimately halted by Prussian cavalry which like the other flank ran out of control galloping through the Austrians, finding themselves isolated and cut off behind Austrian lines. The Austrian cavalry and infantry on the right advanced again but finally broke off to loot the Prussian camp and moved beyond any further use in the battle.

In the center the Austrian infantry made a number of very determined attacks which are all driven back with heavy loss by the disciplined platoon fire of the Prussian infantry. The burning town made it difficult for Charles to coordinate the efforts of his center and right. The Prussian infantry slowly drove the Austrians from Chotusitz.

Back on the Prussian right another cavalry fight was won by the Austrian cavalry who then pursued the defeated Prussian cavalry leaving the Austrian left flank exposed. Frederick had finally made his arrangements and a coordinated attack of twenty three infantry battalions was made on the open Austrian left flank. The Prussian infantry advanced at the double quick preceded by fifteen cannon. Under a furious fire from gun and musket, the Austrians gave way, falling back on their center and right. Seeing this and the possibility of his being cut off from his line of retreat through Czaslau and forced back against brook of Brtlinka, Charles gave the order for a general retreat at about Noon, abandoning his cannon at the town of Czaslau. In a generally orderly withdrawal the pursuing Prussian cavalry was effectively held off by the Austrian cavalry.

Aftermath[edit]

Each side suffered around 25% casualties and subsequently avoided any further major conflicts. The battle would lead directly to the treaty of Breslau. Frederick, learning that his French allies might be attempting to make a separate peace, would soon pull out of the war himself, having gained the territory of Silesia for Prussia.

Friedrich Leopold von Gessler who led 20 squadrons of cuirassiers in the charge of Buddenbrock's cavalry was promoted to lieutenant general and received the order of the Black Eagle for his achievement at Chotusitz. Prince Leopold was made a Field Marshal.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, entry National Flags: "The Austrian imperial standard has, on a yellow ground, the black double-headed eagle, on the breast and wings of which are imposed shields bearing the arms of the provinces of the empire . The flag is bordered all round, the border being composed of equal-sided triangles with their apices alternately inwards and outwards, those with their apices pointing inwards being alternately yellow and white, the others alternately scarlet and black ." Also, Whitney Smith, Flags through the ages and across the world, McGraw-Hill, England, 1975 ISBN 0-07-059093-1, pp.114 - 119, "The imperial banner was a golden yellow cloth...bearing a black eagle...The double-headed eagle was finally established by Sigismund as regent...".
  2. ^ Carlyle, Thomas. History of Friedrich II. of Prussia: called Frederick the Great, Volume 5, London, 1873, p.125.
  3. ^ Stenzel, Gustav Adolf Harald. Geschichte des Preussischen Staats, Hamburg, 1851.p. 182.
  4. ^ Stenzel, Gustav Adolf Harald. Geschichte des Preussischen Staats, Hamburg, 1851.p. 182.
  5. ^ Carlyle, Thomas. History of Friedrich II. of Prussia: called Frederick the Great, Volume 5, London, 1873, p.131. Cust, Edward. Annals of the wars of the eighteenth century, Vol.II, London, 1858, p.20, Cust gives 7,000 total.
  6. ^ Müller, Paul, Zur schlacht bei Chotusitz, Berlin, 1905, p.54, gives Austrian losses as: 6332 infantry, 984 cavalry, 18 cannon. Cust, Edward. Annals of the wars of the eighteenth century, Vol.II, London, 1858, p.20, Cust gives Austrians losses as 18 cannon, 2 pair of colors and 1200 prisoners.
  7. ^ Morris, Constance Lily. Maria Theresa - The Last Conservative, 1937, p.103.
  8. ^ Carlyle, Thomas. History of Friedrich II. of Prussia: called Frederick the Great, Volume 5, London, 1873, p.131. Cust, Edward. Annals of the wars of the eighteenth century, Vol.II, London, 1858, p.20, Cust gives 7,000 total.
  9. ^ Müller, Paul, Zur schlacht bei Chotusitz, Berlin, 1905, p.54, gives Prussian losses as: 4778 infantry, 2635 cavalry, 11 standards and one color. Cust, Edward. Annals of the wars of the eighteenth century, Vol.II, London, 1858, p.20, Cust gives Prussian losses as 14 standards, 2 pairs of colors, 1,000 prisoners.
  10. ^ Browning, Reed.The War of the Austrian Succession. St. Martin's Press, New York, (1993): ISBN 0-312-12561-5, p. 104.
  11. ^ Browning, Reed.The War of the Austrian Succession. St. Martin's Press, New York, (1993): ISBN 0-312-12561-5, p.104
  12. ^ Browning, Reed.The War of the Austrian Succession. St. Martin's Press, New York, (1993): ISBN 0-312-12561-5, p. 103
  13. ^ Carlyle, Thomas. History of Friedrich II. of Prussia: called Frederick the Great, Volume 5, London, 1873, p.125.
  14. ^ Müller, Paul, Zur schlacht bei Chotusitz, Berlin, 1905, p.54, gives 2635 casualties for the cavalry overall.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hardbottle's Dictionary of Battles. 1905.
  • Carlyle, Thomas. History of Friedrich II. of Prussia: called Frederick the Great, Volume 5, London, 1873.
  • Browning, Reed.The War of the Austrian Succession. St. Martin's Press, New York, (1993): ISBN 0-312-12561-5
  • Müller, Paul. Zur schlacht bei Chotusitz, Berlin, 1905.
  • Cust, Edward. Annals of the wars of the eighteenth century, Vol.II, London, 1858.
  • Baron Jomini. Treatise on grand military operations, Vol. I, New York, 1862.
  • Duffy, Christopher. "Frederick the Great: A Military Life" Routlege, London, 1985, ISBN 0-415-00276-1
  • Duffy, Christopher. "The Army of Frederick the Great", The Emperor's Press,Chicago, 1996 ISBN 1-883476-02-X
  • Asprey, Robert B. "Frederick the Great: The Magnificent Enigma", Ticknor & Fields, New York, 1986, ISBN 0-89919-352-8

External links[edit]