Battle of Wroclaw
While the Prussian King Friedrich II was still operating in Saxony in 1757 , the Duke of Braunschweig-Bevern was supposed to cover Silesia with 32,000 men. This soon turned out to be a difficult task, as he had to face an overwhelming Austrian force. Prince Karl and Leopold Joseph Graf Daun led the main army with 54,000 men. In addition, the corps under Franz Leopold von Nádasdy with 28,000 men could be used. Despite their superiority, the Austrians initially wanted to avoid a battle. Rather, the main army was supposed to bind the Prussians so that Nádasdy's troops could conquer the Schweidnitz fortress. Schweidnitz played a key role in securing supplies from Bohemia to Silesia .
After the Nádasdy corps was reinforced to 43,000 men, the Austrians enclosed Schweidnitz on October 14th. The handover took place on November 13th. So far, Bevern had kept the main Austrian army in check. This has now been considerably strengthened by the union with the Nádasdy Corps.
Because of this reinforcement, the Austrian Army Command gave up its defensive stance and decided to attack the Prussians immediately. Breslau should therefore be taken before the arrival of the main Prussian power so that they could not move into their winter quarters in Silesia.
The Prussians had 40 battalions and 102 squadrons (a total of 28,400 men). The Austrian army consisted of 96 battalions, 93 grenadier companies, 141 squadrons and 228 guns (a total of 83,606 men).
Course of the battle
Karl Alexander von Lothringen attacked the Prussian troops on November 22nd at the gates of Wroclaw between the villages of Kosel and Gräbschen and opened the battle with a cannonade. The Prussians, who had holed up in the surrounding villages, were then attacked at three points. After the Austrians were able to conquer the first villages, they occupied them with howitzers and intensified their cannonade. The Duke of Braunschweig-Bevern collected another ten regiments and launched a counterattack. A tough and bloody struggle for the villages began, with the Prussians having achieved success against the overwhelming Austrian power. Whether Bevern did not want to expose himself to another attack the next day or whether the sudden retreat happened without orders, was never clarified; in any case, Prince Karl was given the battlefield. The Prussians returned to Glogau via Breslau .
The battle, which lasted almost the whole day, cost the Austrians 5,723 men and the Prussians 6,350 men.
After the withdrawal of the Prussian army , 10 battalions under General Johann Georg von Lestwitz remained in the fortress of Breslau. The Austrians immediately prepared themselves for the siege; General Nádasdy took charge of the operation. The Austrian-minded urban population of Wroclaw made the Prussian defense difficult. Citizens urged Lestwitz to vacate the fortress; They also helped Prussian deserters.
The morale of the Prussians was very low due to the defeat in the field battle and the high proportion of soldiers pressed for service. The discipline almost dissolved. Lestwitz surrendered against free withdrawal on the night of November 25th. Of the 4,227 Prussian soldiers, however, only 599 men began the march towards Glogau, the rest escaped from the hated military service.
Frederick II had to change his campaign plans completely because of these events. However, he remained determined to attack the Austrian army in order to wrest Silesia from them again. Prussia was dependent on Silesia’s financial performance and human potential for future recruitment in order to continue the war. In the Battle of Leuthen on December 5, 1757, the Austrians suffered a heavy defeat, which made it possible for Friedrich to siege Wroclaw again. The Austrian garrison under Field Marshal Lieutenant Speaker von Bernegg was 14,500 men, plus 6,000 sick and injured people. On December 7th, the city was requested to surrender to the public. After the rejection, around 20,000 Prussians (32 battalions and 48 squadrons) began the renegotiation . A council of war meeting on December 18 rejected General Beck's suggestion to break out a combat-ready garrison to Upper Silesia. On December 19, four suburbs were lost, on December 21, 17,635 Austrians surrendered with 81 cannons. Shortly after Breslau, on the 24th, Troppau and on December 28th Liegnitz fell into the hands of the Prussians. General Fouqué began the siege of the Schweidnitz fortress on December 31st .
- Norman Davies , Roger Moorhouse: Breslau - the flower of Europe. The story of a central European city . Droemer, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-426-27259-8 ; therein p. 657: Map Battle of Bresslau November 22, 1757 .
- Joachim Engelmann, Günter Dorn: The battles of Frederick the Great. Friedberg 1986.
- Olaf Groehler : The Wars of Friedrich II. Berlin 1989.
- Friedrich R. Paulig: History of the Seven Years' War. A contribution to German history from 1740–1763. Starnberg 1988 (reprint of the Frankfurt / Oder edition 1878).