The Battle of Lobositz
on 1 October
was the opening land battle of the
Seven Years' War
. Frederick the Great's 29,000 Prussians prevented Field Marshal Maximilian Ulysses Count
Browne 34,500 Austrians from relieving their besieged Saxon allies, who
surrendered two weeks later.
believer in the pre-emptive strike, on 29 August 1756 Frederick
invaded Saxony with the bulk of the Prussian army, against the
advice of his British allies.
Neither the Saxon nor the Austrian
army was ready for war. The Saxon army took up a strong defensive
position near Pirna, and
Frederick had no option but to isolate and starve
Austrian army raced to the aid of Saxony, but was intercepted by
Frederick's forces near the town of Lobositz (Czech
Lovosice), along the Elbe river, in
Browne, the Austrian general, had ordered a small force on the
opposite bank of the Elbe to move to the beleaguered Saxon army at
Pirna, but recalled it when he heard the news of Frederick's
Map of the Battle of Lobositz.
Red is Prussian, blue Austrian army.
The Austrian army took up a defensive stance on a hill, the Lobosch
), along the Elbe River (opposite
another mountain, the Homolka), straddling a small brook, the
Morellenbach (Modla). Although this was not deep, and could be
forded by infantry, crossing it would break up formations.
In heavy fog, Frederick's Prussians approached. A detachment of
Croats opened fire on them and Frederick, believing he was up
against a small rearguard of the Austrian army, ordered a few
infantry battalions to advance.
The infantry cleared the lower slopes of the Homolka, while the
Prussian artillery was brought forward into position. From a
terrace they had a good field of fire over the valley and the
As the mist slowly lifted, infantry in the Prussian centre were
targeted by the Austrian main battery. Frederick soon realised that
the force he faced was not the Austrian rearguard, but a full field
army. In order to find out more, he ordered his cavalry to advance
As they neared Sullowitz
, they came under
fire and veered leftwards. This provoked an Austrian cavalry charge
from the left. In an attempt to outflank the Austrians, Colonel
Hans von Blumenthal
led his Garde du Corps
, who were closest to
Sullowitz, in a counter-charge which brought them back into
musket-range from the village. Von
had his horse shot down and received a crippling
sabre-blow in the neck.
Twice Prussian cavalry assaulted the Austrian position, but in
vain. Already believing the battle to be lost, Frederick wanted to
leave the battlefield, saying "These are no longer the same
But the Duke of
, in command of the Prussian left wing, then
succeeded in storming the Austrian right flank with infantry. The
Prussians charged at bayonet
having run out of ammunition. Bevern's men chased the Austrians
through the burning town of Lobositz. The Austrian army retreated,
leaving the Prussians in command of the battlefield.
The Prussians and the Austrians lost about 2,900 men each.The
Austrian army retreated intact, and von Browne even managed to slip
a force around the Prussians towards the besieged Saxons, but it
was too little too late.The Saxon army at Pirna surrendered on 14
October before the relief force arrived, and Saxony surrendered the
next day.Both Prussian and Austrian armies then retreated into
their winter quarters.