Sunday, December 4, 2016

Day Before Leuthen - the Gathering of the Forces

Prinz Moritz von Anhalt-Dessau reviews the Itzenplitz regiment as it marches towards Neumarkt on December 4, 1757. All pictures feature Minden Miniatures soldiers and artillery equipment. Click on all pix to enlarge.

Another version of the same picture from a ground level view.
On December 4, 1757 the Prussian war machine geared up for a march from its Parchwitz camp, heading south along the Glogau-Breslau highway, arriving at the town of Neumarkt (midway between Parchwitz and Leuthen). There, they quickly swept aside a contingent of Austrian hussars and Croats, capturing the Austrian field bakery in the process.

Campaign map illustrating the Prussian departure point of Parchwitz, settling on Neumarkt on the night of December 4, 1757. Likewise, the Austrian army embarked from Breslau, crossing the Schweidnitzer-Wasser and settling in a new position near Leuthen.

The second battalion of Itzenplitz marches behind its regimental 3-pounder.
The Austrians, meanwhile, had resolved to coil out of the entrenchments at Breslau and head north to the Katzbach to stop Frederick's advance. This was a case of too little, too late, for as we have seen, the Prusssians were already across the Katzbach and zeroing in on Neumarkt. Duffy indicates that Prince Charles had no intention of staging a battle with Frederick, but rather, was seeking more advantageous Winter quarters for his troops. He left most of his heavy field artillery behind in Breslau and sited his field bakery at Neumarkt, ahead of the Austrian army.

The Austrians built 14 or 15 bridges across the Lohe river (see map above) and another 5 across the Schweidnitzer-wasser to supplement the one stone bridge at Lissa. The objective for the first day's march was the high ground south of Neumarkt called the Pfaffendorfer-Berg. As noted above, the Prussians already occuppied the Pfaffendorfer-Berg.

The Austrian columns were badly organized and one would not give way to the other when it came to crossing the pontoon bridges. Add in a cold rain shower all day and the result is an Austrian army that only made it as far as the crossing of the Schweidnitzer-wasser by day's end. By this time, it was clear to the Austrian senior command that a battle with the Prussians was imminent. The Prussians were joyous that the Austrians had ventured out of the Breslau entrenchments and out into the open fields where the ground favored the Prussian battle plans.

Tomorrow: the Battle of Leuthen begins and I will fight it out on the table top as a solo wargame.