80 field and battalion guns
Casualties and losses
3,500 wounded and missing
3,800 dead and wounded
The Battle of
Kesselsdorf was fought on 15 December 1745, between the
Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia and the combined forces of the Archduchy of Austria
Electorate of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony during the part of the War of the
Austrian Succession known as the Second Silesian War. The Prussians
were led by Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, while the Austrians
and Saxons were led by Field Marshal Rutowsky. The Prussians were
victorious over the
Royal Saxon Army
Royal Saxon Army and the Imperial Army of the Holy
1 Preliminary maneuvers
6 Further reading
Two Prussian columns, one led by Frederick, the second by the Leopold
the 'Old Dessauer' were converging on Dresden, the capital of Saxony,
which was then an Austrian ally. Interposed between Leopold and
Dresden was Rutowsky with an army of Saxons. Rapidly marching towards
Dresden and Rutowsky was prince Charles who hoped to be able to
reinforce both. Leopold moved slowly and deliberately forward entering
Saxon territory on 29 November and advanced on Rutowsky at Leipzig,
whereupon Rutowsky retired towards Dresden. By 12 December, Leopold
reached Meissen and joined with a corps under Lehwaldt. Rutowsky was
reinforced by some Austrians under Grünne and took up a position at
Kesselsdorf, 5 miles west of Dresden, that covered
leaving him closer to the advancing Charles than Leopold was to
Frederick. The Saxons deployed along a ridge that ran from Kesselsdorf
to the river
Elbe and that was fronted by a stream and marshy ground.
The 7,000 Austrians under Grünne formed on the right near the Elbe.
The line was long and there was a considerable gap in its center
between the Saxons and the Austrians. On the fifteenth, Leopold
finally came up. There was much snow and ice on the field.
Battle of Kesselsdorf
Battle of Kesselsdorf
War of the Austrian Succession
Flanders and the Rhine
Bergen op Zoom
Bohemia and Moravia
Jacobite rising of 1745
The Prussians were slightly outnumbered 35,000 to 32,000.
Additionally, the Saxons and Austrians had the advantage of the
ground. Dessauer, a long experienced general now sixty eight years
old, perceived that by taking the town of
Kesselsdorf the enemies
flank could be turned and concentrated his efforts against the Saxon
portion of the army. The Saxons had the town defended with twenty-four
heavy cannons, their engineers and carpenters enhancing its
defensibility. Leopold made dispositions for an attack by an elite
force of infantry and grenadiers, however the ground was very
difficult and the first attack was repulsed with considerable loss,
including the officer leading the attack, General Hertzberg. A second,
reinforced attack was made and this too failed with the Prussians
fleeing in disorder. The Prussians had suffered some 1,500 casualties
from the attacking forces of 3,500.
The Saxon grenadiers seeing the flight of the Prussians left their
strong defensive position and made an impetuous pursuit of the
Prussians which exposed them to a massed charge by the dragoons of the
Prussian cavalry. The shock of the charge sent the Saxons tumbling
back and through their former position in Kesselsdorf, driving them
from the field. At this same time, Leopold's son, Prince Moritz,
personally led an infantry regiment which broke through the Saxon
center. The regiment, although isolated, held its ground while other
Prussian regiments attempted but failed to link up with it due to the
stubbornness of the Saxon defence. Eventually, Leopold's success in
Kesselsdorf bore fruit and the Saxon flank was turned causing
the Saxon line to collapse and their army to flee at nightfall.
The Prussians' losses amounted to over sixteen hundred killed and more
than three thousand wounded, while the Saxon losses were less than
four thousand killed and wounded with almost seven thousand Saxons
taken prisoner as well as forty eight cannon and seven standards.
During the battle, the Austrians on the right never fired a shot,
while Charles, who had reached
Dresden and could hear the cannon,
failed to march to the aid of his ally.
The Saxons fled in a wild panic into Dresden. There, despite the
presence of Charles and his army of 18,000 and the Austrians
willingness to renew battle, they continued to flee. Leopold then
linked up his forces with those of Frederick, who was so delighted by
the victory that he embraced Leopold personally. The Saxons then
abandoned Dresden, which Fredrick and Leopold occupied on the
eighteenth after demanding its unconditional surrender. The Austrians
subsequently began to negotiate the peace of
ultimately ending the
Second Silesian War
Second Silesian War and leaving Prussia's ally,
France, to conduct the rest of the war of the Austrian Succession
"The Austrian imperial standard has, on a yellow ground, the black
double-headed eagle, on the breast and wings of which are imposed
shields bearing the arms of the provinces of the empire . The flag is
bordered all round, the border being composed of equal-sided triangles
with their apices alternately inwards and outwards, those with their
apices pointing inwards being alternately yellow and white, the others
alternately scarlet and black" (Chisholm 1911, p. 461)
"The imperial banner was a golden yellow cloth...bearing a black
eagle...The double-headed eagle was finally established by Sigismund
as regent..." (Smith 1975, pp. 114–119)
^ Tuttle 1888, p.42
^ Cust 1862, p.74.
^ Holcroft 1789, p. 278.
^ Tuttle 1888, pp. 43-44.
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Flag". Encyclopædia Britannica. 10
(11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 454–463.
Cust, Edward (1862). Annals of the wars of the eighteenth century. I.
Posthumous works of Frederic II. King of Prussia. 1. Translated by
Holcroft, Thomas. London. 1789. p. 278.
Smith, Whitney (1975). Flags through the ages and across the world.
England: McGraw-Hill. pp. 114–119.
Tuttle, Herbert (1888). History of Prussia. III. Boston: Houghton
Chandler, David (1990). The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough.
Spellmount. ISBN 0-946771