VII Army Corps (German Empire)

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The VII Army Corps was a large unit of the Prussian Army from 1820 to 1919.


Franco-German War 1870/71

Source: History of the Infantry Regiment Prince Friedrich of the Netherlands (2nd Westphalian) No. 15

Peace structure 1900

Source: Ranking list of the Royal Prussian Army 1900

Peace structure 1914

Source: Ranking list of the Royal Prussian Army 1914


The corps was established on April 3, 1820 from the General Command in the Duchy of Westphalia , which had existed since October 1815 . The General Command was up to the resolution 1919 in Münster and was until the outbreak of World War I of III. Army inspection subordinated.

In 1892 the Senne military training area near Paderborn was acquired for combat-like target practice and drills in larger units.

German War 1866

General of the Infantry Eduard Vogel von Falckenstein

After Prussia declared war on the Kingdom of Hanover on June 15, 1866, the Western Army (General Command Prussian VII Army Corps) under General Vogel von Falckenstein began the advance from Hamburg ( Manteuffel division ) and Minden ( Goeben division ) on Hanover. General Vogel von Falckenstein had received the order to disarm the Hanoverian army supporting Austria as quickly as possible. However, after King George V had gathered his army in Göttingen on June 15, 1866 , his capital was without defense. The Hanoverians left the city intending to unite with the Bavarians coming from the south before the Prussians could reach them. The Prussian "Division Goeben" then entered Hanover on June 16 without a fight.

The "Division Manteuffel" formed in the Elbe Duchies with its vanguard under General von Flies was able to catch up with the Hanoverian army under Major General Arentschildt and attack on June 27 at the Battle of Langensalza . The battle ended with a victory for the Hanoverians, but at this point they were surrounded by Prussian troops and due to the supply situation they were no longer able to continue fighting. After the capitulation of the Kingdom of Hanover , the corps became part of the Main Army .

In the battles of Dermbach designated on July 4, the "Goeben Division" advancing east of the Fulda valley fought with the "Brigade Kummer" (infantry regiments No. 13 and 53) near Zella against the Bavarian Zoller Division . The Bavarian Hartmann Division , which stood opposite the Wrangel Brigade near Roßdorf , could not prevent the loss of Wiesenthal . Goeben's armed forces had achieved limited success by occupying Wiesenthal and Zella, but they were unable to force the enemy to retreat generally. The aim of the Armed Forces , the union of the VIII Federal Corps with the VII Federal Corps of Bavaria, had not been achieved. The former under Alexander von Hessen-Darmstadt moved to Frankfurt , the latter under Prince Karl von Bayern went back to Kissingen .

General von Falckenstein turned to the Bavarian and sent the "Division Goeben" to Kissingen to march from there to Schweinfurt . During a skirmish on the 9th near Waldfenster , prisoners determined that the Bavarian corps was in Kissingen. The "Division Manteufel" was now sent after the Goeben'schen as reinforcement. In the battle of Kissingen on July 10th, the "Division Goeben" captured Kissingen . The "Manteuffel Division" first won the battle lasting several hours at Friedrichshall before they could occupy Winkels .

When Falckenstein received the news from headquarters on July 11th that the occupation of the countries north of the Main would be important for the probable armistice negotiations, he ordered the Main Army to march immediately to the right in the direction of Frankfurt . The reinforced 13th Division marched from Lohr in two separate brigades of 6,000 men each via Waldaschaff on Laufach. Goeben's division had already been the focus of the fighting in Dermbach and suffered heavy losses near Kissingen.

The subordinate 26th Infantry Brigade met the enemy on July 13 in a battle near Frohnhofen . While the 25th Brigade under Major General Kummer was not involved in combat operations, the 26th Brigade under Wrangel was able to throw the Hessians back on Aschaffenburg . The next day, the Hessians, reinforced by an Austrian brigade, tried in vain to prevent the 13th Division from crossing the Main in the battle of Aschaffenburg . With the crossing of the Main, the operations of the Prussian troops against the VIII Federal Corps no longer faced any major terrain obstacles.

After moving into Frankfurt, General Falckenstein was recalled as commanding general of the Main Army on July 19 and appointed governor of occupied Bohemia "to organize and secure the food there." General Edwin von Manteuffel succeeded him and General von Flies took over his combined division . After the Main Army had strengthened again, the offensive was resumed. The 13th Division advanced on Darmstadt , the other units on the left of the Main on Miltenberg . Shortly after the Oldenburg-Hanseatic brigade under Major General Weltzien arrived in front of Hochhausen, the Wrangel Brigade, as the avant-garde of the 13th Division, reached the Tauber near Bischofsheim and met the Württemberg division under Lieutenant General Hardegg in the battle near Tauberbischofsheim . The Prussians were able to push back the Württemberg people thanks to their superior firepower. Meanwhile, the Flies division crossed the Tauber near Wertheim without encountering any resistance.

On the morning of July 25th, the Main Army continued the advance to Würzburg in three columns. While the "Brigade Kummer" marched from Bischofsheim on the main road to Würzburg, the "Brigade Wrangel" secured from the right flank. When violent gunfire was heard near Paimar , Goeben had the "Brigade Kummer" advance to Gerchsheim . That is where the VIII Federal Corps had withdrawn. Encountering resistance there, the brigade swiveled to Schönfeld, from there in the evening to attack the flank of the enemy. During the battle near Gerchsheim , the Bundeskorps was forced to repel the flank attack on its left wing and the "Kummer" brigade was given the opportunity to occupy Gerchsheim.

The "Beyer" division encountered the retreated Bavarian army in Helmstadt on the 25th . The fighting near Helmstadt ended on July 26th in Roßbüttelbrunn and Uettingen .

When the artillery bombardment of the Marienberg fortress above Würzburg, the Main Army was fully assembled again at the foot of the mountain. When the shelling was over at the end of the day, outposts were posted. A truce was concluded that lasted until August 2nd. The peace treaty with Bavaria followed on August 22, 1866 .

Franco-German War

General Heinrich Adolf von Zastrow

In the war against France in 1870/71 the VII. Corps was subordinate to the General of the Infantry von Zastrow and was added to the 1st Army under General von Steinmetz . The 13th Division under Lieutenant General von Glümer reached Trier by train by July 27th, and then on foot on August 1st . The 14th Division under Lieutenant General von Kameke was unloaded in Aachen by July 22nd and marched to Trier by August 2nd. On the way to this assembly point, the corps received the news that the French IV. Corps had marched south, so Saarbrücken was the new marching target of the corps.

On the morning of August 14, 1870, investigations indicated that the French army was marching on Metz . The Battle of Colombey began with the attack by the 26th Infantry Brigade, the avant-garde of the 13th Division. Before Major General von der Goltz started his attack, he informed the two divisions (13th and 14th) of the Corps as well as the 1st Corps about this in order to be sure of their support in the event of an enemy superiority. The attack was initially against Colombey, where the 3rd Division of the French III commanded by General Decaen. Army corps stood, directed. After about an hour of fighting, the situation for the 26th Brigade became critical when a light battery of the I. Army Corps (I. AK) arrived and took up position southwest of Montoy . Two batteries sent ahead by the 2nd Division drove up shortly afterwards between Montoy and Noisseville . When the 25th Brigade arrived on the left wing, the critical situation turned. When General von Zastrow arrived on the battlefield, he immediately sent the 28th Brigade to attack on the left of the 26th Brigade, while at the same time the 25th Brigade under General von der Osten-Sacken attacked. On the second attempt, they push the enemy back to Borny and Bellecroix, today both Communes of Metz.

On August 17, the corps crossed the Moselle and headed towards Gravelotte . General von Moltke planned to bypass the French right wing, and the VII Corps was available for this. On the afternoon of the Battle of Gravelotte , the corps was ordered to attack the villages of Ars-sur-Moselle , Vaux and Jussy in order to bind the enemy left wing. The villages were conquered, General Lapasset's brigade was pushed back, and any further advance was prevented.

On the orders of Prince Friedrich Karl , Commander-in-Chief of the 2nd Army, the VIIth Corps moved its headquarters to Ars on the evening of August 19th.General von Zastrow shared the defense of the left, the 14th Division, with the 13th Division in order to enclose Metz . Division that of the right bank of the Moselle. The left wing of the 26th Brigade joined the VIII Army Corps at Rozérieulles . After the decisive victory at Sedan and the capture of the emperor and Mac Mahon 's army, no further attempts to break through to the north were expected in the prince's view. He moved the center of gravity in the west to the south.

When the commander-in-chief of the 1st Army, General Steinmetz, was appointed Governor General of Posen on September 16, the high commands of the 1st and 2nd Army were united in the hands of Prince Friedrich Karl until further notice. After the siege of Metz was over , the defeated French left Metz on October 29th. The VII Corps was standing ready for action on the road to Ars-Laquenexy (today: D999 ) to stop their march by before the city was occupied.

The VII Army Corps was placed under the king's headquarters on November 29th. Without the 14th Infantry Division, it was marched towards Châtillon-sur-Seine . The 5th Reserve Uhlan Regiment, newly formed in Silesia, was assigned to the 13th Division as the second cavalry regiment.

At Christmas 1870 the VII Corps resigned to the 1st Army and on January 12, 1871 it was transferred to the newly formed Southern Army. In Châtillon, General von Manteuffel took over the command of the Southern Army, consisting of the II and VII Army Corps, which was supposed to lift the threat to the rear connections from the French Eastern Army under Bourbaki . Manteuffel's army immediately marched into the Côte-d'Or department in support of the beleaguered XIV Army Corps under General von Werder . When Manteuffel received the news before the union with Werder that Bourbaki was already withdrawing, his army turned right to cut off the lines of retreat of the French Eastern Army. The Prussian II and VII Corps side by side, the 4th Reserve Division under General von Schmeling as security to the left advanced across the Jura to the east. The Goltz detachment remained east of Levier as support behind it. The VII Corps reached Sauvigny on January 19th and Dampierre on the 20th while advancing on Besançon .

News came on January 30th that Paris had surrendered and a 21-day armistice had been signed. However, the local departments were not affected by this and the southern army was to continue its operations until a complete decision was reached. While the II. Corps pursued further, the VII. Corps remained as an inactive spectator of the final act. On February 1st at 12 noon General von Manteuffel ordered the attack on Pontarlier , where the bulk of the French were concentrated; only weak detachments had so far returned to St. Laurent. The last French army under General Clinchant was forced to cross at the Swiss border and be interned there. The VII Army Corps received the order on March 6th to move towards Châtillon-sur-Saône the next day and to occupy the departments of Meuse , Vosges and the parts of Meurthe and Moselle that remained French . The order to withdraw from France arrived at the corps on May 23, 1871.

First World War

Deployed on the Western Front in August 1914 , the VII Corps, as part of the 2nd Army , advanced through neutral Belgium to northern France. Colonel von Wolff was appointed Chief of Staff, the 13th Division led Lieutenant General von dem Borne , and the 14th Division was under Major General Fleck .

General of the cavalry Karl von Eine

General of the cavalry Karl von Eine , commanding general since August 11, 1909, ruled on the corps:

No army corps in Germany was better known to me than the VII Army Corps. The sons of the Teutoburg Forest and the Weser Mountains served in him; in its ranks were the tough farmers of the Münsterland, the Soest and Paderborn area, and the men from the Lower Rhine - not to forget the best tribe of Westphalian industrial workers, miners and iron workers. You only have to know these people to appreciate their worth. "

The corps took part in the capture of Liège between August 4 and 16, 1914 . On August 10th, the 13th Division with the assigned 2nd Battalion Pioneer Regiment 24 took over the places on the Chaussee Berviers-Liège at the northern enclosure position, the 14th Division and the 43rd Infantry Brigade went south of the Besder Valley Position. On August 12 the heavy artillery of the 13th Division opened fire on Fort Chaudfontaine. Because the 11th Infantry Brigade was detached and marched back to Liège, the 13th Division took over its section on the Liège-Montfort and Maas-Oberstrom road on August 14th. After the fall of the last forts, the VII Army Corps resumed its advance through southern Belgium to the Sambre . On August 17th, advancing along the Tongern-Noville road, the troops reached the heights of Thys and Momaile. When proceeding further, the corps formed the right wing of the 2nd Army Bülow and maintained the connection with the 1st Army advancing to the west along the Nivelles - Binche road . On August 22nd, the corps entered the battle of the Sambre , attacked the left wing of the French 5th Army east of Mons between Peronnes and St. Pierre and reached Binche with the 13th division and Anderlues with the 14th division . On the left wing of the corps, the 2nd Guard Reserve Division of the X Reserve Corps ( Kirchbach ) accompanied the ongoing break-in into northern France. At the end of August, the 14th Division intervened during the Battle of St. Quentin , together with the 2nd Guard Reserve Division they advanced across the Oise and pushed the French 69th Reserve Division out of Saint-Quentin . On August 30, the 14th Division attacked from Essigny le Grand in the direction of Alaincourt across the Oise to the east. After the right wing of the 2nd Army could be strengthened in the area south of Mezieres, the X. Reserve Corps, pressed in the center by the French, was also able to overcome the entire Oiseba section between Ribemont and Vendeuil. The further advance led the 14th Division to Ham on the Somme Canal , further towards Soissons and Venizel. The remaining 13th Division was branched off to enclose the Maubeuge fortress and was only later cleared by the VII Reserve Corps . Advancing over Condé-en-Brie on September 5, the VII Corps accompanied the main thrust of the IX advancing to the right . Corps (Quast) of the 1st Army via Montmirail on Esternay to the Grand Morin .

After the withdrawal order in the Battle of the Marne , the VII Corps (excluding the 14th Infantry Division) had to secure the Marne crossings between Port à Binson and Jaulgonne on September 9th. On September 10, the bulk of the 13th Division secured the Vesle at Fismes , the 26th Infantry Brigade secured the river at Braisne.

On September 12, 1914 after the beginning of the Aisne Battle , General Eberhard von Claer took over the command of the corps that defended the heights east of the Aisne-Marne Canal on the right wing of the 2nd Army. The VII Army Corps fought for the new Orainville – Merlet – Aguilcourt – Guignicourt line by September 20.

Hermann von François

At the beginning of October 1914, the corps was subordinated to the 6th Army and fought in the first battle of Arras during the race to the sea . While the 13th Division was still supporting the Bavarian 1st Reserve Corps at Souchez , the 14th Division was already being transferred to Neuve-Chapelle . During the First Battle of La Bassée , the 13th Division also arrived at the new theater of war from October 14th and, after relieving the 28th Division (XIV. AK), fought for Givenchy . During the spring battle at La Bassée , General von Claer was replaced on June 29, 1915 by General von François . During the autumn battle in Artois in September 1915, the VII. Corps, together with the IV. Corps, defended the British attack at Loos .

On June 5, 1916, the corps was subordinated to the 5th Army and used in the Battle of Verdun . General von François took over the command of the western attack group on the Meuse in mid-July 1916 with the general command. Between October 18 and November 30, 1916, the corps was referred to as the "Maas Group West". Between July 2, 1917 and January 9, 1918, the corps was deployed again on the Meuse, and again referred to as "Maasgruppe West". From January 10, 1918, the corps was subordinate to Army Division A , and from April 10, it was assigned to the 7th Army . At the end of May 1918, the Corps Command participated as the François Group in the Blücher offensive of the 7th Army on the Ailette section between Soissons and Reims. From July 5th the corps was assigned to the 9th Army as Group Woyna and had to withdraw its troops on Noyon after the Allied counter-offensive in the Battle of Soissons on July 18th . On the day of the armistice, the general command was again in the section of Army Division A.

Westphalian Freikorps

After the commanding general, Oskar von Watter, had previously obtained Gustav Noske's consent , on February 11, 1919 he had the General Soldiers' Council for the corps dissolved by the Freikorps Lichtschlag and its members arrested. On 16 February, the volunteer corps marched at his command to a satisfying action against Hervest from. The blood trail that began here earned the formation the name "Freikorps Totschlag".

At the end of March 1919, the commanding general took over command of all Westphalian volunteer corps . They all had a green, white and black band around the lower part of the epaulette as a common sign. After three months of service with "particularly excellent" performance, a green rifle cord to be worn around the left armpit was also awarded.

Commanding general

The general command as the command authority of the army corps was under the leadership of the commanding general .

Rank Surname date
Lieutenant General Johann Adolf von Thielmann October 30, 1815 to April 2, 1820
Lieutenant General Philipp von Luck and Witten 0April 3 to May 23, 1820 (in charge of the tour)
Lieutenant General Heinrich Wilhelm von Horn May 24, 1820 to October 31, 1829
General of the Infantry Karl von Müffling called white November 28, 1829 to March 29, 1837
General of the Infantry Ernst von Pfuel March 30, 1837 to March 1, 1848
General of the cavalry Karl von der Groeben 0March 2, 1848 to June 1, 1853
General of the Infantry Ludwig Roth von Schreckenstein 0June 2, 1853 to June 2, 1857
Lieutenant General Eduard von Bonin 0June 3, 1857 to November 21, 1858
General of the Infantry Karl Anton von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen November 22, 1858 to June 28, 1860
General of the Infantry Eberhard Herwarth von Bittenfeld June 29, 1860 to November 20, 1864
General of the Infantry Eduard Vogel von Falckenstein November 21, 1864 to July 19, 1866
General of the cavalry Edwin von Manteuffel July 20, 1866 to October 29, 1866
General of the Infantry Heinrich Adolf von Zastrow October 30, 1866 to September 4, 1871
General of the cavalry Wilhelm zu Stolberg-Wernigerode 0September 5, 1871 to April 14, 1882
Lieutenant General Karl von Witzendorff April 15 to November 22, 1882 (in charge of the tour)
Lieutenant General / General of the Cavalry Karl von Witzendorff November 23, 1882 to August 6, 1888
General of the cavalry Emil of Albedyll 0August 7, 1888 to June 2, 1893
Lieutenant General / General of the Infantry Robert von Goetze 0June 3, 1893 to April 4, 1898
Lieutenant General / General of the Infantry Viktor von Mikusch-Buchberg 0April 5, 1898 to January 12, 1900
Lieutenant General Ernst von Bülow January 27 to July 21, 1900 (in charge of the tour)
Lieutenant General Ernst von Bülow July 22, 1900 to May 9, 1901
General of the cavalry Moritz von Bissing May 18, 1901 to December 11, 1907
General of the cavalry Friedrich von Bernhardi December 12, 1907 to August 10, 1909
General of the cavalry Karl von One August 11, 1909 to September 11, 1914
General of the Infantry Eberhard von Claer September 12, 1914 to June 28, 1915
General of the Infantry Hermann von François June 29, 1915 to July 5, 1918
Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Woyna 0July 6, 1918 to January 17, 1919
Dignity. Lieutenant General Oskar von Watter January 18 to October 1, 1919

Flags / flag decorations


In September 1976 the Bundeswehr took a solemn pledge in the castle park in Nordkirchen with the performance of a great tattoo and the handover of the flags of the former VII Army Corps to the units of the 7th Panzer Grenadier Division .


  • Hermann Klüting: Soldiers in Westphalia and the Lower Rhine. The Royal Prussian VII Army Corps. Beckum 1982.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Alfred Cramer : History of the Infantry Regiment Prince Friedrich of the Netherlands (2nd Westphalian) No. 15. Verlag R. Eisenschmid, publishing house for military science. Berlin 1910.
  2. ^ Royal Secret War Chancellery (editor): Ranking list of the active service status of the Royal Prussian Army and the XIII. (Royal Württemberg) Army Corps. […] As of October 1, 1900. […] . Verlag Ernst Siegfried Mittler & Sohn, Berlin 1900. P. 63ff.
  3. ^ War Ministry, Secret War Chancellery (editors): Ranking list of the Royal Prussian Army and the XIII. (Royal Württemberg Army Corps for 1914. […] As of May 6, 1914. […] . Verlag Ernst Siegfried Mittler & Sohn, Berlin 1914. P. 73ff.
  4. v. War: The regiment's war diary from the Main Army campaign in 1866. Minden 1867.
  5. ^ The Bavarian Army no longer marched after the defeat in Bischofsheim.
  6. ^ Alfred Cramer: History of the Infantry Regiment Prince Friedrich of the Netherlands (2nd Westphalian) No. 15. Verlag R. Eisenschmid. Berlin 1910.
  7. ^ Justus Scheibert : The war between France and Germany 1870/71. Pauli's successor, Berlin 1895, p. 11.
  8. ^ Justus Scheibert: The war between France and Germany 1870/71. Pauli's successor, Berlin 1895, p. 289.
  9. ^ Reichsarchiv: The World War 1914-1918, Volume IES Mittler, Berlin 1925, pp. 110-130
  10. ^ Reichsarchiv: The border battles. Band IES Middle & Son. Berlin 1925, p. 356.
  11. ^ Reichsarchiv: Volume IV: The Marne campaign. Berlin 1926, p. 435.
  12. Wolfgang Niess: The Revolution of 1918/19 , Europa-Verlag 2017, ISBN 978-3-95890-074-5 , pp. 353-354.
  13. ^ Gustav Riebensahm: Infantry Regiment Prince Friedrich of the Netherlands (2nd Westphalian) No. 15 in the World War 1914-1918. Minden 1931.
  14. Dermot Bradley (ed.), Günter Wegner: Occupation of the German Army 1815-1939. Volume 1: The higher command posts 1815–1939. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück 1990, ISBN 3-7648-1780-1 , pp. 58-59.