Battle of Liegnitz (1760)
The Battle of Liegnitz on August 15, 1760 was a military conflict during the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) in Silesia . Here met Prussian troops under the command of King Frederick II. On an Austrian army under the Field Marshal Gideon Ernst von Laudon . The battle ended after just a few hours in the early morning with a victory for the Prussian troops. With that, Frederick II escaped the clutches of his army, achieved union with the army of Prince Heinrich of Prussia and recaptured parts of Silesia.
Operations of 1760 did not begin until June. Frederick II left some of his troops in Silesia to cover this province against the Austrians. Another sub-army under Prince Heinrich of Prussia, the king's brother, stood east of the Oder to employ the Russian troops there. With his main army, Friedrich II turned against the Electorate of Saxony in order to counter the threat from the imperial army and an Austrian corps. While he was operating there and trying in vain to take Dresden , a strong Austrian army under Gideon Ernst von Laudon advanced against Silesia, defeated the Prussian troops standing there (→ Battle of Landeshut ) and conquered the fortress of Glatz . Frederick II therefore broke off operations in Saxony in order to hurry to Silesia. However, he was followed by the main Austrian army under Leopold Joseph von Daun and the Lacy Corps . Finally, the Prussian army with around 24,000 men in the Liegnitz an der Katzbach area saw itself blocked by the more than 90,000 men of Dauns, Lacy and Laudons in mid-August.
Field Marshal Daun came up with the plan on the night of August 14th to 15th, 1760, to cross the Katzbach and enclose the Prussian troops. His main army was supposed to bypass the Prussians to the south, Lacy's corps had the order to close the Prussian retreat route further west, while Laudon was to bypass the Prussians in the northeast. The aim of the plan was to enclose and tear up the main Prussian army in order to end the war.
Friedrich II himself had already decided to use the night to march north to the Oder in order to bypass the Austrian position. In the evening around 8 p.m. the Prussian army broke out and marched in several columns along the Katzbach to the northeast. Shortly after midnight, cavalry units met Laudon's troops, who were about to attempt their evasion. The Prussian horsemen were initially repulsed, but later rallied again. The Prussian infantry and artillery marched in order and at sunrise around 4 o'clock the actual battle between around 14,500 Prussians (the others covered their backs against Daun's troops) and the 32,000-strong Laudon Corps began. The Prussian infantry attacked the Austrian line-up and broke through its lines. After only two hours the battle was over and Laudon ordered the retreat.
Lacy's troops had not found their way in the dark and had advanced very slowly. Daun's troops pursued the Prussians only hesitantly. At first their departure had not been noticed because they had left their campfires burning. Daun did not find out about Laudon's defeat until about 7 a.m.
The losses in the battle are given very differently by contemporary witnesses. The following information can be found most frequently in the specialist literature: The Prussians had lost 92 officers and 3,302 soldiers. The losses of the Austrians in prisoners alone amounted to 88 officers, 4,646 soldiers and 80 captured artillery pieces. In addition, they had lost 6 generals, 203 officers and 3,594 soldiers to dead and wounded. In relative terms, however, the Prussian losses weighed heavier - Friedrich had lost 12.6% of his army strength, the Austrians 8.3%.
As a result of the battle, Frederick II managed to evade the threatening enclosure. In the following days the union with the troops of Prince Heinrich succeeded. For some time Frederick II was still operating in Silesia, but at the end of September a Russian-Austrian attack on Berlin forced him to leave again. However, the moral impact of this first Prussian slaughter success after several defeats since the Battle of Hochkirch in 1758 is also important.
- Günter Dorn, Joachim Engelmann: The battles of Frederick the Great , page 5. Bechtermünz Verlag, Augsburg 1997
- The battle of Liegnitz in the Duchy of Silesia between Den Königl. Prussian troops led by the king, and an emperor. Corps under General Laudon on August 15, 1760 (digitized version)
- Christopher Duffy: Frederick the Great - A Soldier's Life. Weltbild-Verlag, Augsburg 2004, ISBN 3-89350-558-X .
- Günter Dorn, Joachim Engelmann: The battles of Frederick the Great. Podzun-Pallas publishing house, Friedberg 1986, ISBN 3-7909-0275-6 .
- Curt Jany : History of the Prussian Army from the 15th Century to 1914, Volume Two, The Army of Friederich the Great 1740–1763. Reprint ed. by Eberhard Jany, Osnabrück 1967. On the Seven Years War: 564ff.
- Henry Lloyd : History of the Seven Years' War in Germany between the King of Prussia and the Empress Queen with her allies. translated and edited by Georg Friedrich von Tempelhoff . Volume 4, Berlin 1789, p. 151ff. (Digitized at Google Books: Volume 4, p. 151ff. )
- Frieder Leipold: Battle of Liegnitz: When three argue ... Historio, March 2011.