Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Day 9: Kunersdorf & Zorndorf

Roundshot (12-pd) on the lower left and a unicorn shell on the lower left/right. Gregory hold a piece of grapeshot in his right hand and a 6-pd roundshot in his left hand.

We left Dresden this morning in sunshine, but soon encountered pouring rain which lasted all the way to Frankfurt on the Oder. We then crossed the Oder where we entered the town of Slubice and met up with a battlefield archeologist, named Gregory, who has been searching the Kunersdorf battlefield since 2009 and documenting where he found metal. His findings are the basis for some new interpretations of what actually happened at Kunersdorf.

We entered Gregory's laboratory/office where we found a number of artifacts layed out across several tables, including musket balls, artillery roundshot and howitzer fragments, and buttons from both sides.

Large cartridge box emblem (left) and Russian grenadier emblems, center and right.
Prussian cartridge box emblem.

Gregory (right - grey sweater) explains his findings to Christopher Duffy (center ) and the rest of the group.

This is what the plateau looks like where the Russian army deployed. In 1994, this was an open field without a single building in sight. I'm afraid that Kunersdorf will be over run with development in 5-10 more years.

Kunersdorf map from Duffy.

Based on the volume of bullets recovered on the Grosser Spitzberg, which was the midpoint in the Russian line, the Prussian infantry advanced this far as many Prussian bullets were found here. Russian bullets were larger than Prussian bullets so the difference is readily apparent. Previously thinking was that the Prussians only advanced as far as the Kuh Grund.

Gregory also surmised that Russian musket fire was more measured and deliberate whereas the Prussians expended far more ammunition than the Russians at Kunersdorf. After the battle, the Russians would have scoured the field to collect all unused bullet cartridges to replenish their supplies. Fired lead bullets were also collected, when available, as lead was valuable and could be melted down to form new bullets. Most of the bullets collected on the battle field were unfired, suggesting that they might have been in ammo pouches ( cloth or leather which deteriorated when buried underground ).

The distribution of buttons also provides some clues to events on the field. Soldiers were usually stripped of their clothing and then thrown into a common grave for burial. The Russians stayed on the field the first day to perform burials, they did holy services on the second day, and left the field area on the third day so that soldiers were not exposed to disease.


It was getting late in the day when we arrived at Zorndorf and it was cold and rainy, so most of this tour was done by bus, with one stop near a monument that the Poles have erected on the battlefield 

The Zabern Grund lies at the treeline in this picture.

The Zabern Grund lies over the horizon 

Site where the Prussian advanced guard of Manteufel advanced, from right to left. The buildings in the distance are the town of Zorndorf 

Get out the maps and compasses and figure out where we are.

That's all for now.


  1. Fabulous! Sooo jealous of you guys!

  2. Thanks Jim,
    Lucky Gregory dedicated archaeologist for the battlefield. Always interesting to listen to these people and their interpretation.

  3. If the Prussian infantry attack made it as far as the Grosser Spitzberg ( rather than at the Kuh Grund, which was previously thought) then Platen's advance of the Prussian cavalry towards the GS makes more sense: he was covering the right flank of the Prussian infantry in the GS

  4. Fabulous stuff Jim. What a trip! Phil