Friday, October 12, 2018

Hochkirch: 260th Anniversary

Dear Reader,

260 years ago this Sunday, October 14th, 1758 the Prussian and Austrian armies fought the famous Battle of Hochkirch during the Seven Years War. We have focused on Hochkirch before on Kabinettskriege, so I am not going to dwell long on the specifics of the battle, but rather share some photographs which I took during a weekend of my research trip to Europe this summer. I have included an image of a map below, it comes from Christopher Duffy's excellent Army of Frederick the Great, and may be helpful as a reference while viewing the images.[1] 

As you can see from the map above, the Austrian attack at Hochkirch employed new operational ideas. The Austrians approached in multiple columns via different roads and avenues of approach. Frederick II of Prussia was taken completely by surprise.  

In the early stages of the battle, the Austrians approached in the early morning from multiple directions. Directly above, the image shows the view towards Loudon's approaching column, looking southwest from near the Prussian positions. 

Above we see the view east from the same position, looking towards the approach of O'Donnell's brigade, a command which largely consisted of cavalry forces. 

Above, as we look to the northeast, the church spire at Hochkirch peeks over a ridgeline. This view shows the perspective that the Loudon and Forgach's Austrians would have gained after taking the first Prussian defenses southwest of Hochkirch. Below, a set of images show the modern village of Hochkirch. 
The view south from the north part of the village.This road was the
avenue taken by the Itzenplitz Regiment during their bloody counterattack.
Looking south, the church is directly out of frame to the right. 
The view south from directly north of the church, the church tower is under construction

The view north/east from the same location

Below, we see the view southeast from north of the village of Hochkirch. In the foreground, the Prussians made an initial stand after being pushed from the village, in the background, Austrian columns under Colloredo would have approached from the east.

Below, the image looks west towards high ground that the Prussians used to make another stand near the village of Pommritz. 

The final two images show fighting positions later in the battle, as the Prussian army broke away from the battlefield. 

Looking north from the border of the Drehsaer-Grund. Prinz von Wuerttemberg's
cavalry charged across the image from right to left, checking O'Donnel's Austrians. 

Finally, we see the position of Saldern's Prussian rearguard, west of Wuerschen
The battle of Hochkirch provided yet more evidence that the Austrian army was increasing its military proficiency, and that the Prussians would continue to fight, even if in a disadvantageous position. The battlefield, and how the combatant's used it, has many lessons for understanding eighteenth-century warfare today. 

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Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[1]Duffy, Army of Frederick the Great, (2nd Edition), 283. 

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