Sunday, April 5, 2015

Prussian Journals: IR 3 at Lobositz

Soldier of IR 3 by Menzel

Dear Reader,

Today, we have another selection from Urkundliche Beiträge. In this selection, another IR 3 NCO describes his experiences at Lobositz. The soldier sent this information home in a letter to his father,  dated October 6th, 1756. 

On the first of October, a glorious day, God assisted the Prussian arms, and so I send you this account.  On September 30th, our army marched out of camp at Johnsdorf, and moved in the area of Lobositz. We left around 12am, without the slightest idea that the enemy army was so near.  At daybreak, we knew they enemy was not very far from us, because they  had already saluted us with some cannon fire. Our Majesty the King shook out the whole column, consisting of 30,000 men, in order of battle, and marched out towards the enemy army, which we had heard from deserters and prisoners consisted of as many as 60,000 men.  We met the same (the enemy) in such an advantageous  and cunning posture, that I felt compelled to make note of the details.

The area in which the enemy stood was a long series of vineyard slopes, some of which were at certainly twice as tall as the so-called "red tower," in Halle.  In these vineyard slopes, there were collections of raised stone walls,  behind which 4,000 Pandours and Hungarian Infantry had taken cover. Along the top of these ridges, their whole army had taken up position, with strong right and left wings, with many heavy guns in prepared positions. A second line was positioned in hollow ditches, which the whole line could use to protected themselves if they were forced to retire. They had an astonishing amount of artillery standing before them, and their army seemed as well situated as could be thought, that it seemed impossible to evict them from such an awesome position.

All this notwithstanding, our Majesty the King decided to attack this position. Accordingly, about 7:30am, our cannons began to play at the vineyards. The dreadful heights prevented our guns from having the desired effects. Now, as our army, in its advance, approached the vineyards, the Pandours and infantry behind the stone walls poured a veritable hail of bullets on us, they  threw their guns over their shoulders, and scrambled like cats up the mountain. We advanced at once without being led astray, behind them up the slopes. This whole time, we were forced, without returning fire, to endure an unbearable cannon fire. However, we finally advanced under their guns and ascended the slope, and then we saw the whole enemy cavalry in front of us, and they prepared to hew at us. But our cavalry, which came up from our second line, counter-charged the enemy cavalry. The Austrians, seeing this: that our cavalry was advancing on them hotly, retired in good order behind their cannons and strongpoints. 

By this strategy, the lead elements of our cavalry came in danger, as the enemy  artillery received them with canister loaded. As a result, they had to withdraw behind our infantry screen. Then our infantry advanced, heedless of danger, in such a way that they fled out of their ditches. This was the beginning of our happy success. Their infantry had sat down, in order to see the cavalry of both sides attacking each other, and in what ditches remained, they awaited us. The enemy cavalry, seeing that our infantry would be advanced again, retired as before. Our cavalry, did not sit idly by, but made for the infantry, and for the second time advanced beyond us. They advanced heartily in good order, and the whole enemy force was thrown into the greatest angst and confusion, and was forced to quit the field: a sign of our perfect victory.  This battle, as long as the world stands, will not be surpassed in bravery or length. 

While our NCO might seem to have a flair for the melodramatic, he records some useful experiences. 

Thanks for reading!

Alex Burns 

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