Battle of Hohenfriedberg
Battle of Hohenfriedberg or Hohenfriedeberg, now Dobromierz, also
known as the battle of Striegau, now Strzegom, was one of Frederick
the Great's most admired victories. Frederick's Prussian army
decisively defeated an Austrian army under Prince Charles Alexander of
Lorraine on 4 June 1745 during the
Second Silesian War
Second Silesian War (part of the
War of the Austrian Succession).
3 Aftermath and Legacy
4 See also
7 External links
Austria sought to regain Silesia, which had been lost to
the Battle of Mollwitz. An Austrian army of about 62,500, including
allied Saxon troops marched to Silesia. The commander was Prince
Charles Alexander of Lorraine, brother-in-law of Empress Maria
Johann Adolf II, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels
Johann Adolf II, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels commanded the
Frederick had a very low opinion of his counterpart, saying of Prince
Charles Alexander that "there will be some stupid mistakes." In fact,
Frederick was counting on Charles entering
Silesia by crossing the
Riesengebirge (Giant Mountains). If he did, Frederick intended to
attack the Austrian army and crush it in one decisive blow. Hans
Joachim von Zieten's
Zieten-Hussars shadowed the Austrian army,
keeping Frederick informed of their movements and position as he
awaited the right moment to strike. When the Prince finally did cross
in early June, Frederick saw his opportunity to attack.
The Austrian army marched some 50 km northeast from the
Striegau (now Strzegom). 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.
Prussian scouts located the Austro-Saxon forces. Frederick decided to
march north with his whole force, right in front of the Austrians,
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. One of
Frederick's generals, Richard de Moulin 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.
Map of the Battle
Frederick's plan soon encountered difficulties. There was not enough
space for all of the Prussian 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 Saxon army 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 Austrian troops. 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 of the dawn's light.
By then the Austrians were alerted to the battle. From 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, Hans Joachim 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 Dragoons, 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
Austrian 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 Austrian line.
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 Dragoons
overran twenty battalions, took 2,500 prisoners, capturing 67 flags
and standards as well as four cannon in what is considered and
celebrated as one of the great cavalry battlefield triumphs. The
battle ended with the complete defeat of the Austro-Saxon army.
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.
Aftermath and Legacy
Hohenfriedberg was a great victory for Frederick, and soon he was
being called "Frederick the Great" by his contemporaries. The charge
Bayreuth Dragoons was studied by later Prussian and German
officers as a model for aggressiveness, and the entire spirit of
Frederick the Great
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. A delighted Fredrick wrote "there
has not been so decisive a defeat since Blenheim".
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. The Second Silesian War, which was the last
part of the
War of the Austrian Succession
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
Dresden was signed on 25 December 1745, soon after yet
another Prussian victory at the
Battle of Kesselsdorf
Battle of Kesselsdorf against the
The Hohenfriedberger March was composed in honor of this victory,
allegedly by Frederick himself.
Wars and battles involving Prussia
^ Chandler: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough, p.306
^ Williams, H. S., editor.The Historians' History of the World:
Germanic empires (concluded), London, 1907, p. 179.
Chandler, David: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough.
Spellmount Limited, (1990). ISBN 0-946771-42-1
Citino, Robert M.: The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years War to
the Third Reich. University Press of Kansas, (2005).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Hohenfriedeberg.
wargame about the battle