Battle of Als

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Battle of Als
Part of the Second Schleswig War
1866 Camphausen Crossing to Alsen anagoria.JPG
Battle of Als is located in Denmark
Als
Als
Battle of Als (Denmark)

Wilhelm Camphausen's painting of The storming of Als by the Prussians
Date29 June–1 July 1864
LocationOn and near the island of Als
Result Prussian victory
Belligerents
 Denmark War Ensign of Prussia (1816).svg Prussia
Commanders and leaders
Denmark Peter Frederik Steinmann War Ensign of Prussia (1816).svg Herwarth von Bittenfeld
Strength
10,000
1 monitor Rolf Krake
23,000
Casualties and losses
216 killed
462 wounded
1,878 captured
536 missing
30 guns captured
372 casualties
including 7 missing

The Battle of Als (Danish: Slaget om Als; German: Übergang nach Alsen) was fought on 29 June 1864 during the Second Schleswig War between Denmark and Prussia. It was the last major engagement of the war, as the Prussians under General Herwarth von Bittenfeld secured the island of Als – occupied by 9,000 Danish troops, including the garrison of Dybbøl which had retreated there – in a night attack masterminded by the Chief of Staff (later Field Marshal) Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal.

The Prussian command gave orders for the crossing of the Alssund – the narrow strait separating Als from the mainland of Jutland – to begin in the night of 28–29 June 1864. The Commander-in-Chief had selected Øster Snogbæk, at the northern end of the strait, as the crossing-place, the nearby Sottrup Storskov woods providing cover which enabled the preparations to be hidden from the Danes. At midnight, the Prussian troops were gathered for the assault, without packs and wearing Feldmützen (forage caps) instead of helmets.

At 2:00 am 2,500 Prussian soldiers started crossing the Alssund, between the village of Sottrupskov and the Sandbjerg Estate, in small boats. The Danish modern armoured monitor Rolf Krake was in Augustenborg fjord, and sailed to the Alssund where it caused the Prussians severe difficulties and stopped the crossing. But after that the Rolf Krake, due to damage including to its bridge caused by heavy shelling and a mistaken belief that Prussians had already crossed the strait south of it.,[1] suddenly turned around and sailed away; the Prussian troops continued the crossing. At 2:15 am the Prussians landed in Arnkil and under heavy fire took the Danish entrenchments. This let them build a pontoon bridge of 32 segments over the Alssund. Of the Danish army, Regiment No. 5 went north to Sønderborg, and Regiment No. 18 fought the Prussians near the village of Kær. The Danes eventually retreated to Kegnæs, some surrendered, some were evacuated by ship. The Danish army lost nearly 3,000 men (killed, wounded or captured) on Als.

Memorial stone in Sottrupskov: "Here rest five Prussian soldiers of the 24th Regiment, drowned during the crossing to Als on 29 June 1864"

Legacy[edit]

Following Denmark's defeat by the Austro-Prussian army, Als became part of Prussia and later Germany until the referendum of 1920.

Johann Gottfried Piefke, the famous German march composer, dedicated his "Der Alsenströmer" to the battle.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  • George Bruce. Harbottle's Dictionary of Battles. (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981) (ISBN 0-442-22336-6).
  • "Kampen på Als den 29. juni 1864" (in Danish). Archived from the original on 25 May 2007.
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20071012165639/http://www.milhist.dk/1864/1864/1864_dk.htm (in Danish)

Coordinates: 54°59′00″N 9°55′00″E / 54.9833°N 9.9167°E / 54.9833; 9.9167