Battle of Chotusitz

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Battle of Chotusitz
Schematic map (further maps)
Schematic map ( further maps )
date May 17, 1742
place Chotusitz, in today's Czech Republic
output Victory for Prussia
Parties to the conflict

Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia Prussia

Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy Austria


Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia Friedrich II.

Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy Charles of Lorraine

Troop strength
23,500 men and
82 guns
28,000 men
40 guns

4,778 dead, wounded and missing

6,332 dead, wounded, missing and prisoners

In the battle of Chotusitz (today Chotusice , Okres Kutná Hora ) in Bohemia on May 17, 1742 23,500 Prussians under Frederick II defeated 28,000 Austrians under Prince Charles of Lorraine . The latter wanted to attack the Prussians, but found them in order of battle and were attacked and defeated by Frederick II on the left flank. The battle led directly to the Peace of Breslau , which temporarily ended the first Silesian War in a way that was advantageous for Prussia.


Prince Karl had marched from Moravia to Bohemia with the intention of attacking the Prussian army. Friedrich had marched on Kuttenberg with his vanguard of about 10,000 men . The remaining army of around 15,000 men (including almost the entire cavalry ) followed a day later under the leadership of Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau . Since the two Prussian armies were a day's march apart and thus could not support each other, Karl had the opportunity to defeat one or both parts separately. However, he hesitated too long and gave the Prussians an opportunity to unite.

Leopold reached the village of Chotusitz, east of Kuttenberg, after a night march at 2 a.m. and set up camp a little north of the later battlefield. Karl von Lothringen, who still hoped to be able to intercept Leopold separately from Friedrich, marched north with his 28,000 men. He planned a nightly surprise attack, but the approach to the enemy took more time than expected, so he did not reach the battlefield until after dawn.

Friedrich, alarmed by the impending danger, instructed Leopold to take position around Chotusitz until the rest of the Prussians came up to join his right side. Friedrich marched off with his troops at 4 a.m. Leopold set up his troops with the front facing southeast, the infantry south of Chotusitz. The two wings of the Prussians were each covered by about 35 squadrons of cavalry. Karl marched north from the town of Czaslau (now Čáslav ), difficult terrain slowing his advance and causing his army to swerve slightly to the right, increasing their vulnerability to an attack on their left flank.

Commanding officers of the battle

Officers of the Prussians

Officers of the Austrians


At 7 a.m. the Austrians had unfolded and approached within cannon range, while Friedrich appeared on the battlefield with the rest of the Prussian army and joined Leopold's right wing. The king kept 23 battalions of infantry in reserve, hidden from the Austrians by a hill.

At 8 o'clock Karl ordered the attack. Buddenbrock's cavalry on the Prussian right wing attacked the cavalry on the Austrian left and drove them back to their second line. The second line threw the Prussians back in a wild scuffle. Buddenbrock's second cavalry line lost its direction due to the thickly blown dust, stayed too far to the left and got caught in Austrian infantry fire, which drove them back. Buddenbrock's cavalry played no part in the rest of the battle.

On the Prussian left, meanwhile, the cavalry attacked the advancing Austrians and made their way through enemy lines to the rear of the Austrian army, where they were cut off and isolated and could hardly intervene in the battle. The cavalrymen on the Austrian right rallied and proceeded against the Prussian camp behind Chotusitz, which they began to plunder, so that they no longer contributed to the further course of the battle.

In the center, the Austrians shot at Leopold's battalions with artillery and attacked with outnumbered infantry. The Prussians were driven back through the village, which caught fire.

At around 10:30 am, Friedrich had the infantry battalions on the right wing (around 12,000 men) that had been held back to attack the Austrians on their left flank. The Austrians began to retreat in front of the fire of the Prussian infantry that appeared unexpectedly. Karl recognized the danger of being cut off from his line of retreat through Czaslau and around noon ordered a general retreat. This was generally orderly, the Prussian cavalry was unable to pursue.


The Prussians lost around 4,000 men dead and wounded and 700 as missing, the Austrians 3,000 men through death and wounding, 2,000 as missing (including many defectors after the battle) and 1,200 prisoners, around 20% of the forces on each side. Friedrich was considered the winner because he had claimed the field. Strategically, Chotusitz gave Friedrich the opportunity to conclude the separate preliminary peace in Breslau at the beginning of June 1742 and to withdraw from the war for the time being.

For his services in leading the first cavalry meeting of the right wing, Friedrich Leopold von Gessler was appointed lieutenant general and was awarded the Order of the Black Eagle . On the afternoon of the battle, the king appointed the Prince of Anhalt-Dessau field marshal in recognition of his services as commander of the infantry in the assembly camp in Czaslau .

Memorial stone to the battle of Chotusitz, on Červený Kopec

Today's access to the battlefield

Visiting the former battlefield is difficult or impossible today, as most of it is located on the grounds of the 21st Air Force Tactical Base ( 21. základna taktického letectva ) - Čáslav of the Air Force of the Czech Republic . In addition, the area around the airfield is guarded by military police. For the reasons mentioned, direct access to the battlefield from Chotusice is not possible. Only the staging areas of the king (west of Chotusice) and the Austrians (east of Čáslav) are clearly visible.

See also


Web links