Battle of Hohenfriedberg or
Hohenfriedeberg, now Dobromierz, was one of the crowning achievements of Frederick the Great.
army decisively defeated an
Austrian army under Prince Charles Alexander of
on 4 June 1745 during the War of the Austrian
Austria sought to regain Silesia
, which she
had lost to Prussia in the Battle of
. An Austrian army of about 60,000 (including
troops) marched to Silesia.
The commander was
Alexander of Lorraine
(brother-in-law of Empress Maria Theresa
commanded the Saxons.
Frederick had a very low opinion of his counterpart, saying of
Prince Charles Alexander that "there will be some stupid mistakes."
Frederick was counting on Charles entering Silesia by crossing the
Riesengebirge (Giant Mountains).
If he did, Frederick
intended to pounce on the Austrian army and crush it in one
decisive blow. Von Zieten
shadowed the Austrian army,
keeping Frederick informed of their position as he awaited the
right moment to strike that blow. When the Prince finally did cross
in early June, Frederick saw his opportunity to attack.
Austrian army marched some 50 km northeast from the
Riesengebirge to Striegau (now
Map of the Battle
They encamped near Striegau, with the Saxons just
northwest of the town at Pilgrimshain and the Austrians spreading
out west and south to the village of Hohenfriedberg. Their front
was covered by the Striegau River
which ran north and then west through Striegau town. The Prussian
army was camped south of the town.
Frederick's scouts located the Austro-Saxon forces. Frederick
decided to march north with his whole force, right in front of the
Austrians, cross the Striegau by a bridge just west of town, and
attack the Saxons first. With the Saxons routed, Frederick would
then roll up the Austrian line from east to west. He also decided
to march by night, concealing his movement, and thus surprise the
Saxons. His commander Richard de
led the march.
To achieve surprise, Frederick ordered his troops to leave their
campfires burning and tents pitched, and forbade them to talk or
smoke during the march.
Frederick's plan soon encountered difficulties. There was not
enough space for all of Frederick's troops on the designated route.
A bottleneck soon developed at the bridge over the Striegau, so
only limited forces were able to make it over.
The first Prussian objective was two hills in front of the Saxon
lines. The Saxons had occupied these two hills the previous day
with a small force. The Prussian vanguard encountered this force;
the resulting clash alerted the Saxons and prevented the complete
surprise Frederick hoped for.
De Moulin decided to bypass the hills and strike right at the Saxon
camp before the Saxons could deploy. The Prussian attack began at
about 7:00 AM.
Some Saxon cavalry got out on the field, but the Prussian cavalry
soon charged and routed them. The Prussian infantry then stormed
the Saxon camp, defeating the few Saxon infantry that managed to
deploy, and also a few Austrians. The easterly wind, blowing smoke
and dust into the Saxons' faces, was also advantageous for the
Prussians. The entire left (Saxon) half of the Austro-Saxon army
was destroyed in the hours in the dawn's light.
By then the Austrians were alerted to the battle. From the their
camps further to the south and more protected by the river,
Austrian troops moved to the front. The Prussians who had still not
crossed the Striegau to the north wheeled to the west and advanced
through river crossings wherever they could find them, finding
enough fords to accomplish this. A bridge collapse at the small
town of Graben forced the cavalry commander, Von Zieten
, to find a ford further
south through which to funnel cavalry and pack mules carrying
The Austrian cavalry were the first Austrian troops to get into
action, but they were broken and driven off by the charge of the
The Austrian infantry formed two lines of battle facing east, from
Hohenfriedberg north. Though the Prussians now had the advantage of
numbers, the Austrians resisted stubbornly, with many volleys
exchanged at close range.
At this point the Prussian Bayreuth
, an oversize unit numbering around 1,500 men, entered
the battle. A strong gust of wind blew away the powder smoke and
the dust and revealed an opening in the Prussian lines through
which to charge the vulnerable Austrian infantry. The dragoons
deployed into line, and attacked north against the right flank of
the first Austrian line. They drove all the way along that line,
routing it completely, then turned south to destroy the second
The Austrians, already outnumbered, abandoned by their Saxon
allies, without cavalry protection, and now broken by this attack,
began to surrender en masse
. The Bayreuth Dragoons
defeated several thousand Austrian infantry and only suffered 94
casualties. The battle ended with the complete defeat of the
The Austrians and Saxons lost almost 9,000 killed and wounded,
about 5,000 prisoners, including four generals, and 66 guns. The
Prussians lost around 5,000.
Hohenfriedberg was a great victory for Frederick, and soon he was
being called "Frederick the Great" by his contemporaries. The
charge of the Bayreuth Dragoons was studied by later Prussian and
German officers as a model for aggressiveness, and the entire
spirit of aggressiveness that Frederick the Great had instilled in
his army as well as the large amount of autonomy given to his
officers was likened to the tradition of Auftragstaktik
. Also, the encirclement and
annihilation of the Austrian infantry and the quick and decisive
manner in which this battle played out is also often likened to
, or more commonly
known as Blitzkrieg
Charles of Lorraine was defeated again, as he had been at the
Battle of Chotusitz
. This battle
showed that the Prussians could crush a numerically equal enemy.
Silesian War, which was the last part of the War of the
Austrian Succession in which Prussia took part, was almost at an
end, and despite a close call at the Battle of Soor against the Austrians (who
were again led by Charles of Lorraine), the peace at Dresden was signed
on 25 December, 1745.
was composed in honor of this victory by Frederick
- Chandler, David: The Art of Warfare in the Age of
Marlborough. Spellmount Limited, (1990). ISBN
- Citino, Robert M.: The
German Way of War: From the Thirty Years War to the Third
Reich. University Press of Kansas, (2005). ISBN