Battle of Mollwitz

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Battle of Mollwitz
Schematic map [1]
Schematic map
date April 10, 1741
place Mollwitz , Silesia
output Prussian victory
Parties to the conflict

Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia Prussia

Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy Austria


Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia Friedrich II. Kurt von Schwerin
Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia

Habsburg MonarchyHabsburg Monarchy Wilhelm von Neipperg

Troop strength
23,400 men
53 guns
19,600 men
19 guns

4,849 dead and wounded

4,551 dead and wounded

In the battle of Mollwitz , a village in Silesia , 20 km southeast of Breslau , Prussia won the first victory over the Austrian Habsburgs in the First Silesian War on April 10, 1741 .


The Austrian invasion of Silesia under Wilhelm Reinhard von Neipperg in March 1741 hit the Prussian army, which had occupied Silesia from December 1740 onwards, except for the fortresses of Neisse and Brieg , in scattered winter quarters. Before Friedrich could gather his army, the Austrians advanced to Brieg and cut ties with Breslau and Berlin.

Therefore Friedrich had to attack the Austrians. Contrary to the usual method of commanding the troops from a distance, Frederick II thought it necessary to take command of one wing of the first meeting . As early as the spring of 1741 he explained to his minister Podewils how to proceed in the event of his capture : “If I should be caught by an unfortunate accident, I order that you disregard my orders during my absence, that you advise my brother and that the state will not humiliate itself to any unworthy act in order to obtain my liberation. [...] I am only king when I am free. ”-“ Je ne suis roi que lorsque je suis libre ”. This last sentence became one of the king's most cited sayings.

The Prussians met the Austrians camped in the snowstorm on April 10 at 7 a.m. near Mollwitz . The weather loosened in the course of the afternoon and the Prussian, 20,000-strong army with 31 battalions, 35 squadrons and 60 guns set off in five columns towards Mollwitz at 10 a.m. despite the deep snow. In the face of the surprised enemy, the king decided to organize a drill-like parade in two meetings. Friedrich later judged: "At the time I did not have enough insight to benefit from it." The Austrians thus gained time to also get into battle order.


Prussian soldiers in battle in a historicist illustration from the 19th century.

Neipperg also had 20,000 men, but only 18 battalions and 18 guns, against 86 squadrons. At 1.30 p.m. the Prussian artillery opened fire and their guns put the Austrians in great distress. Around 14.00 pm, Lieutenant Field-Marshal decided Romans leader, from 4500 cavalry on the left wing of the Austrians, with six regiments set in motion to bypass the zone of fire of the Prussian artillery and the right wing of Prussia Friedrich Graf von der Schulenburg to attack. The Prussians withdrew on their right side, in particular the cavalry fled and the king himself failed when he attempted a counterattack at the head of the 11th Cuirassier Regiment .

Contemporary depiction of the start of the battle

The fire of the infantry , especially the grenadier battalions Winterfeldt and Bolstern, which, due to the conditions of the terrain, happened to be set up on both wings between the 1st and the 2nd meeting and thus prevented the Austrian cavalry from breaking in between the two meetings, accommodated the cavalry attack Romans to stand. The Austrian Lieutenant Field Marshal was killed. In the meantime the Austrian artillery had shot into the beleaguered right wing of the Prussians.

At this critical moment, the king, urged by his field marshal Kurt Christoph von Schwerin , who wanted to protect his life, left the battlefield and went to Opole , but found this place already occupied, so rode back to Mollwitz after midnight and got on the way in Leuven the news that the battle was won. After the retreat of the Austrian cavalry under Schwerin's leadership, the Prussian infantry had advanced, as on the parade ground, with a felled bayonet and sounding game and had decided the battle.

An obelisk designed by building officer Carl Johann Lüdecke and unveiled on November 5, 1878 commemorates the victory of the Prussians.


The Austrians lost 5340 men, the Prussians 5500. Other sources speak of 4900 fallen Prussians (out of 24,000 total strength) and 4500 fallen Austrians (out of 19,000).

Often the withdrawal of the Prussian cavalry is judged as a "failure", which is not a useful term for historical research. There is evidence of the king's assessment: "The cavalry is not worth the devil's fetching", and many of the later reforms, especially with regard to regulations and specifications on how troops such as hussars should be dealt with in combat , can be traced back to the Impression of the Prussian cavalry at Mollwitz. With these requirements and the training according to Mollwitz, the unrealistic training of the Prussian cavalry in the peacetime before 1740 was compensated for in the period after the 1st Silesian War. In order to improve the reconnaissance of the opposing troops and the shielding of one's own forces, hussar regiments were increasingly set up as light cavalry in Prussia from 1741 onwards.

Involved units and officers of the Prussians

King Friedrich II. (Prussia) , overall management, on the right wing
Field Marshal Kurt Christoph Graf von Schwerin , on the left wing, later overall management

Left wing

Dragoon Regiment Platen
Cuirassier Regiment Prinz Heinrich
Dragoon Regiment Bayreuth
Grenadier Battalion Puttkammer

First meeting
Lieutenant General Christoph Wilhelm von Kalckstein

Grenadier Battalion Buddenbrock
Grenadier Battalion Reibnitz
Infantry Regiment Schwerin (2 Btn)
Infantry Regiment Prinz Leopold (2 Btn)

Infantry Regiment Prinz Dietrich (2 Btn)
Infantry Regiment Truchseß (2 Btn)

Kalckstein Infantry Regiment (1 Btn)
Guard (1 Btn)
Grenadier Battalion Kleist

Infantry Regiment Margrave Karl (2 Btn)
Infantry Regiment Kleist (2 Btn)

Second meeting of
General Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau

Infantry Regiment Bredow (2 Btn)
Infantry Regiment Sydow (2 Btn)
Grenadier Battalion Saldern

Infantry Regiment Prinz Heinrich (2 Btn)
Infantry Regiment Graevenitz (2 Btn)
Infantry Regiment Glasenapp (1 Btn)
Infantry Regiment Brocke (1 Btn)

Right wing

Schulenburg Dragoon Regiment

  • Major General von Kleist

Grenadier-Bataillon Winterfeldt
Grenadier-Bataillon Bolstern

  • (led by the king)


Leib-Korps-Hussars under Major Hans Joachim von Zieten
Artillery under Major von Merkatz

Involved units and officers of the Austrians

Field Marshal Wilhelm Reinhard von Neipperg

Left Wing
Field Marshal Lieutenant Karl Joachim Freiherr von Römer , fallen

  • Baron Lentulus

Dragoon Regiment Althann
Cuirassier Regiment Seherr
Cuirassier Regiment Hohen-Ems

  • Baron Holly

Roman Dragoon Regiment

  • Count Franckenberg

Cuirassier Regiment Lanthiery
Cuirassier Regiment Birkenfeld

First date

Infantry Regiment Franz v. Lorraine (2 Btn)
Schmettau Infantry Regiment (1 Btn)
Botta Infantry Regiment (1 Btn)
Browne Infantry Regiment (1 Btn)

Kolowrat Infantry Regiment (1 Btn)
Baden Infantry Regiment (2 Btn) O'Glivy
Infantry Regiment (1 Btn)
Karl v. Infantry Regiment Lorraine (1 Btn)

Second meeting

Alt-Daun Infantry Regiment (1 Btn) Thüngen
Infantry Regiment (2 Btn)

  • Baron v. Howl

Grünne Infantry Regiment (1 Btn)
Harrach Infantry Regiment (2 Btn)

Right wing
Freiherr v. Berlichingen

  • Baron Philibert

Cuirassier Regiment Cordova
Dragoon Regiment Liechtenstein
Dragoon Regiment Batthyány

  • Prince Birkenfeld

Kürassier-Regiment Hohenzollern
Dragoon Regiment Württemberg

Hussar Regiment Splenyi Hussar Regiment

See also



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. more maps on Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 50 ° 50 ′ 13.9 ″  N , 17 ° 23 ′ 53.5 ″  E