Battle of Fürth

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Battle of Fürth
Part of the Thirty Years' War
Date 25 August (O.S.) or 3 September (N.S.), 1632
Location Fords at Fürth, west northwest of Nuremberg in (present-day Germany)
49°28′N 11°01′E / 49.467°N 11.017°E / 49.467; 11.017Coordinates: 49°28′N 11°01′E / 49.467°N 11.017°E / 49.467; 11.017
Result Indecisive war action/tactical Catholic victory[1]
Belligerents
Sweden Sweden
Protestant Union
 Holy Roman Empire
Marienfahne.gif Catholic League
Commanders and leaders
Sweden Gustavus Adolphus Holy Roman Empire Albrecht von Wallenstein
Casualties and losses
1,000 dead and 1,500 wounded or missing 1,000 dead and 1,500 wounded or missing

The Battle of Fürth was fought on September 3, 1632 between the Catholic forces of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II and the Protestant forces of King Gustavus II (Gustav Adolph) of Sweden during the period of Swedish intervention in the Thirty Years War. The tactical victory by the Catholic forces allowed the Habsburg army to quickly attack into Saxony, while Gustav's forces were forced into retreat.

Regional background[edit]

Leader of the Catholic forces, General Albrecht von Wallenstein

Fürth was a market town, whose marketing license had been suspended under Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich III, losing the privilege and all that went with it, to nearby Nürnberg (now Nuremberg) shortly after its founding. This situation changed after Heinrich's death, and in 1062 Fürth was once again permitted to have its own market.[2] However, Fürth could not readily compete with Nuremberg, which had steadily grown and prospered in the ensuing years. In the following centuries, the City of Nuremberg became the most important town in the region, even making Fürth subservient to it at one point, despite Fürth's strategic importance. The character of the settlement of Fürth remained afterward largely agricultural. Consequently, in 1600 the population was probably still only 1000–2000.[3]

The battle[edit]

Background[edit]

The town of Fürth is situated to the east and south of the rivers Rednitz and Pegnitz, which join to form the Regnitz to the northwest of the town center. The ford across the Regnitz, the reason for the original founding of the settlement, is the feature which gave Fürth it's strategic importance as an access point to Nuremberg during the Protestant champion's, King Gustav Adolph of Sweden, campaign through Bavaria.[4]

In spring of 1632, Gustav Adolph had handed the Habsburg Emperor, Ferdinand II, a major defeat at Rain, where the head of the Catholic army, General Tilly, had fallen.[5] Subsequently, he had taken the Free Imperial City of Augsburg without struggle, and on May 17, had marched into Munich unmolested.[4] He subsequently occupied Nuremberg, encamping his army outside of the city.[6]

Build-up[edit]

When Gustav Adolph marched on Fürth in late August 1632, it was arguably the greatest blunder in his German campaign.[4] His opponent in the battle, and Tilley's successor, was General Albrecht von Wallenstein.[1] In the spring of 1632, Gen. Wallenstein had raised a fresh army within just a few weeks and had taken to the field. He had quickly driven the Saxon army from Bohemia, and then advanced northwestward (aiming to campaign into Protestant-aligned Saxony).[1] Wallenstein set camp and built defensive earthworks at Fürth. There he encountered Gustav, who had previously fired the town of Fürth in June, and who had come back up from the south and taken Nuremberg in order to oppose the general's designs on Saxony.[4][5] Gustav soon tested Wallenstein's strength at the Battle of the Alte Veste (the "old fort") in late August, which resulted in a nominal Catholic victory, and forced the Protestant forces to quickly encamp in a defensive position, being nearly cut-off from additional help. Gustav, the practiced besieger, now found himself besieged by Gen. Wallenstein's much larger force.

The attack[edit]

Gustav was finally reinforced on the first (n.s.) of September. There followed the disastrous September third (n.s.) attempt on Wallenstein's well-entrenched forces at the Battle of Fürth; where the Protestant's offensive force suffered 2500 casualties.[6] Gustav could not thereafter successfully persuade Wallenstein to take to battle on an open field. Wallenstein's post-battle tactic of maintaining a strictly defensive, well-fortified position paid off when, running short on provisions, Gustav was forced to withdraw southward on September 19 (n.s.). This left the two major opposing armies in the region in a stalemate which was not to be resolved until November's Battle of Lützen, which resulted in an very costly victory for the Protestant forces.

Results[edit]

The immediate result of the Nuremberg campaign allowed the Habsburgs to advance into Saxony. Fürth had been almost completely destroyed by fire prior to the siege (on June 18–19), and was largely abandoned. Gustav died in the Battle of Lützen, a devastating battle (for both sides) which took place six weeks later.[4][6] In the next couple of years, Wallenstein's overly cautious battlefield conduct and military errors led to his falling out of favor with the Emperor. Combined with his growing ambition and political intrigue, Wallenstein fell victim to an assassin in 1634.[4][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present; by David Eggenberger; Courier Dover Publications; 1985; accessed January 13, 2014;
  2. ^ Official Site for Fürth's 1000th Anniversary; 2007; fuerth.de; accessed January 2014 (German)
  3. ^ Historical Data and Facts; Official Fürth website; accessed January 2014.(German)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lützen 1632: Climax of the Thirty Years War; by Richard Brzezinski; 2001; Osprey Publishing; Oxford; accessed January 13, 2014; Chapter 1, "The Road to Lützen;" ISBN 1 85532 552 7.
  5. ^ a b Ingrao, Charles W.; 2000; The Habsburg Monarchy, 1618–1815; Cambridge University Press; pp. 45–6; ISBN 0-521-78505-7.
  6. ^ a b c Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: A–E and F–O*; series; 2007; Tony Jaques, edit.; Greenwood Publishing Group; accessed January 2014.
  7. ^ Note: Historians argue that it was quit possible the assassination was ordered by Emperor Ferdinand himself, who feared Wallenstein was growing too powerful.