Battle of Maxen, 20 November 1759

Battle of Maxen, 20 November 1759

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Battle of Maxen, 20 November 1759

Prussian defeat during the Seven Years War. A Prussian army of 14,000 men, commanded by Frederick Augustus Finck, one of Frederick the Great's most able generals, was sent behind the Austrian armies, with the intention of cutting their lines of communication with Bohemia. Frederick expected the Austrian general, Leopold von Daun, to withdraw once his lines were threatened, but instead he took advantage of Finck's isolation, and cornered him between three seperate armies, outnumbering his force. On the 20th of November, the Austrian attack was launched, forcing Finck back off his strong position at Maxem. His retreat was blocked by the Imperial army, and on the 21st Finck was forced to surrender with his entire army, a crushing victory for the Austrians, although von Daun failed to follow up on his success.

Books on the Seven Years's War |Subject Index: Seven Years' War

Johann Jakob von Wunsch

Johann Jakob von Wunsch (1717�) was soldier of fortune and Prussian general of infantry, and a particularly adept commander of light infantry. The son of a Württemberg furrier, he served in several armies in the course of his lengthy career.

Shortly after he turned 18, his father enrolled him in Württemberg service. In the Württemberg Regiment, he supported the Austrians against the Ottoman Empire in 1737. Later, he served in Bavarian army during the War of the Austrian Succession. In 1748 he came to the notice of Prince Henry, and enter Prussian service for the Seven Years War, where he led an autonomous corps in many raids and skirmishes that wrought havoc on the Austrian forces. His incursion over Prussia's border with Bohemia in 1778 was the opening action of the War of the Bavarian Succession.

In peace time, he devoted his efforts to training light infantry, developing an autonomous corps of skirmishers. Frederick the Great's successor, Frederick Wilhem II, promoted him to general of infantry and raised him to the Prussian nobility.

November 20, 1759 – Battle of Quiberon Bay Ravages Royal Navy

The Anglo-French portion of the Six Years' War had dragged on through mixed results. Early on, the French had the upper hand with a string of victories in North America, but the leadership of Secretary of State William Pitt, Senior, resulted in a masterful use of British resources to turn the tide of the war. Then came the Annus Pestis (Cursed Year) of 1759. The French settlers and their Indian allies ignited a guerilla war in the Ohio Country that frustrated British hopes of taking Quebec. In India, Madras fell to French forces, though the battle would prove Pyrrhic for the victors. On the European Continent, French troops formed a siege of Minden, taking large swaths of German land west of the Weser River. At sea, the British gained great hope after the attack on Le Havre with a two-day bombardment that destroyed many of the barges the French were assembling for an amphibious invasion of Britain and again a small victory came at the Battle of Lagos, where British ships destroyed two ships-of-the-line from the French fleet and scattered the rest. However, the Battle of Quiberon Bay would give France another chance to challenge Britain for control of the high seas.

The battle began after a storm had driven most of the British blockade keeping the remaining troop transports at bay in France. French Marshal de Conflans hurried to merge his fleet with other squadrons collected from the West Indies and remainders from battles in the Mediterranean. He was spotted by British squadron commander Robert Buff and decided to give pursuit, but Buff split his smaller fleet into two groups heading north and south. In what was is seen as the most fortuitous move of the war, Conflans decided to keep his fleet together while in pursuit of the southerly British ships, resulting in organization that would be key to victory in the hard-won battle. The bulk of the English fleet appeared under Edward Hawke from the west, and the two converged in a titanic battle. A shift in the wind nearly disorganized Conflans, but the French managed to keep their composure and defeat the English inside the bay. Hawke died in the battle and only a handful of ships-of-the-line managed to escape, enabling the French to capture some ten more and wreck others.

It would be the final straw of the Annus Pestis. The French hurried to rebuild their fleet and launch their invasion of Britain as soon as weather permitted. Meanwhile, England became frantic.
Though William Pitt campaigned for a strong militia defense, drawing in the French force and then cutting off their supplies with a renewed navy to capture the army while it starved, the rest of Parliament would be swayed by the fearful public opinion. That Christmas, the English sued for peace, and the Treaty of Paris in 1760 took England out of the war. France made great colonial demands, retaking the lost Guadeloupe in the West Indies, expanding French territory in North America, and carving out rights to a French South India from the Carnatic and Mysore regions to the Indian Ocean France continued on in Europe, pressing troops into Hanover and forcing Prussia into a stalemate with Russia and Sweden. In the east, the war would end in 1761 with Prussia's growth being checked amid the other Baltic Powers.

The next twenty-five years would be a renewed Golden Age for France, raking in great wealth from its new colonies. Britain, meanwhile, came upon problematic times as it struggled to recover, establishing a taxation system that sent its American colonies into rebellion, which was much aided by the French. The resulting United States of America would soon have the first of many border wars with the French in Ohio, Louisiana, and along the St. Lawrence River, gradually pushing the French and their Indian allies west and northward.

The American experiment in self-rule spawned a wave of Enlightenment revolutions through Europe, and France would be among the first to lose its autocracy with the revival of the Estates-General and the establishment of the National Assembly to placate and aid those suffering from poor harvests. The renewed France would again injure Britain by aiding the Irish Rebellion of 1798, which would make famous Colonel Arthur Wesley as a great hero of Ireland as he managed to forge a self-rule for Ireland while maintaining some connection with England.

With a weakened Britain, other European powers took up their chances to increase their colonial strengths with Portugal in southern Africa, the Dutch in the South Pacific with New Holland, and the French in South Asia, West Africa, the Great Lakes, and in numerous islands wherever their navy could reach.

In reality, the Battle of Quiberon Bay was be the last great British victory in 1759, which came to be known as the Annus Mirabilis (Year of Miracles). They had driven the French nearly out of Canada, captured Guadeloupe, held Madras in India, and aided their German allies in victories on the Continent. Perhaps most significant were the victories at sea, particularly Quiberon Bay, where Britain would establish itself as unquestioned master of the seas for the next 150 years.


ヨハン・ヤーコプ・フォン・ヴンシュJohann Jakob von Wunsch 、1717年12月22日、 ハイデンハイム (英語版) 、ヴュルテンベルク - 1788年10月18日、プレンツラウ)はプロイセン王国の歩兵大将で、特に軽歩兵の指揮に秀でていた。彼はヴュルテンベルクの毛皮職人の息子であり、長い軍歴の中で数か国の軍隊に仕えている。 18歳になって間もなく、父親によってヴュルテンベルク公国の軍に送り込まれた。その連隊に属し、彼は1737年に、バルカン半島でオスマン帝国と戦うオーストリア軍を支援している。そして1748年、プロイセン公子ハインリヒの目に留まり、七年戦争の勃発とともにプロイセン軍 ( Prussian Army ) に入隊すると、義勇大隊 (de: Freibataillon ) を率いて数々の奇襲や小競り合いを戦い抜き、オーストリア軍に大損害を与えた。 なお1778年、ヴンシュの部隊がプロイセンの国境を越えてボヘミアへ侵入すると、それがバイエルン継承戦争の端緒となっている。

Johann Jakob von Wunsch
生誕 1717年12月22日
ハイデンハイム・アン・デア・ブレンツ (英語版)
死没 1788年10月18日
プロイセン王国 プレンツラウ (英語版)
最終階級 歩兵大将

ヴンシュは1717年12月22日、ヴュルテンベルク公国のハイデンハイムに住む毛皮職人の一家に生まれ、プロイセン王国のプレンツラウで1788年10月18日に没した。彼の祖父はオーストリア軍に仕え、父は数年間、バイエルン軍に参加していた [1] 。ヴンシュは地元で教育を受け、父親の手で18歳の時に、ヴュルテンベルク連隊の士官候補生の養成課程に送り込まれる [2] 。同連隊とウィーンに滞在している間に、彼はハプスブルク家の軍事顧問の娘、ジョセフィーヌ・ル・ロワと結婚した。夫婦には一人の息子が生まれている [3] 。

ヴュルテンベルク公の連隊は、オスマン帝国と戦うオーストリア軍を支援していた。ヴンシュは1737年から1739年にかけて、現在はボスニア・ヘルツェゴビナ領のバニャ・ルカ近郊でいくつかの戦い [4] に参加している。そして1739年に入ると、オーストリアとヴュルテンベルクどちらの軍でも、それ以上昇進できる見込みがなくなったためバイエルン公国 ( Duchy of Bavaria ) の軍に最年長の少尉として仕え、「フランジパーニ(Frangipani)」フザール連隊に配属される。 [1] 。

神聖ローマ帝国皇帝のカール7世が薨去すると、後継のバイエルン選帝侯マクシミリアン3世ヨーゼフは、フュッセン条約で帝位へのいかなる要求をも断念することに合意した。その頃、ヴンシュの連隊は任務のためネーデルラントへ派遣され、ロクールの戦いとラウフフェルトの戦いに参加し、遂には1745年、ブリュッセルをフランス軍から解放した。この後、ヴンシュは騎兵大尉 ( Rittmeister ) に昇進する [1] 。1749年、オーストリア継承戦争が終結するとヴンシュは幕僚としての地位と年金を獲得し、妻子とともにネーデルラントに残った。続いて次の戦争の勃発が明らかになると、彼は1756年、フリードリヒ大王に仕官を持ちかけ、最年長の大尉としてプロイセン軍に入隊した [1] 。ヴンシュは ルートヴィヒ・フォン・アンジェレッリ・デ・マルヴェッツィ (ドイツ語版) 大佐が設立した義勇大隊に配属されると、小競り合いや奇襲に適した新しい陣形の価値を理解していた、プロイセン公子ハインリヒの指揮下に入る [3] 。

七年戦争の間、ヴンシュは軽歩兵部隊の士官として成功を収めた。1757年のプラハの戦いの後、彼は少佐に昇進する。さらに9月、トルガウ近郊で功を挙げると、その翌日にライプツィヒへ侵攻した [5] 。続けてプロイセン軍がロイテンの戦いに勝利すると、フリードリヒ大王は手ずから彼を中佐に昇進させた。また、ある義勇大隊の指揮を託し、プール・ル・メリット勲章を授けている [3] 。ヴンシュは短期間、故郷のハイデンハイムに戻るとボヘミアに駐留する、指揮下の部隊に帰還した [1] 。彼が指揮した奇襲の数々は大成功を収める。ヴンシュはシュレージエン、ボヘミア、フランケン、テューリンゲンの奇襲を指揮し、オーストリア軍から ライツェンハイン (ドイツ語版) に至る峠を奪い、部隊を率いて ケーニヒスヴァルテ (英語版) を急襲し、ヴァインベルクに展開する小規模なオーストリア軍部隊を攻撃した。その戦闘で、2門の大砲を奪っている。またオーストリア軍とその同盟軍が支配するフランケン、ザクセン、ボヘミアの各都市を襲撃して成功を収め、物資や大砲を奪い、しばしば数多くの捕虜を得た [1] 。フリードリヒ大王は大いに満足し、1759年7月11日、ヴンシュを大佐に任じ、彼自身が指揮官となる軽歩兵連隊を与えた。同年8月10日には、少将に昇進している [1] 。なおヴンシュの息子も一連の襲撃に参加しており、少尉に任じられた [2] 。

この後、フリードリヒ大王はヴンシュを10,000から12,000の兵とともにザクセンへ送る。1759年8月28日にヴィッテンベルク、8月31日にトルガウを占領すると、9月8日には同地でダニエル・フリードリヒ・フォン・サンタンドレ(Daniel Friedrich (de: Freiherr von Saint-André ) )男爵率いるオーストリア軍を破り、9月13日にはライプツィヒからフランス軍を駆逐する。なお9月21日にはコルビッツ(Korbitz)の戦いでフィンク中将を支援し、10月29日には ケムベルク (英語版) でブレンターノ少将を破った。これらの朗報は、クーネルドルフの戦いで意気消沈していたフリードリヒ大王を大いに喜ばせた。その結果、ヴンシュはプール・ル・メリット勲章を授かっている。 [1] 。

ヴンシュは講和後の平和な数年間、フリードリヒ大王の軽歩兵部隊をプレンツラウの駐屯地で再編しつつ過ごした [3] 。そして1771年5月23日、中将に昇進する。1778年、バイエルンの公位継承を巡って緊迫した交渉が繰り広げられている中、彼はオーストリア領ボヘミアとの国境を巡回していた [7] 。そして7月初頭、ヴンシュによるボヘミアへの越境行為はバイエルン継承戦争における初の軍事行動となった。この戦争で大規模な戦闘は生起せず、双方が輜重の遮断を狙って小競り合いに終始する [8] 。 シュレージエンで襲撃を指揮した後、ヴンシュと彼の部隊はグラーツ伯領 ( County of Kladsko ) に残り、兵站拠点と製パン所を守備した [1] 。

1787年、フリードリヒ大王の後継者、フリードリヒ・ヴィルヘルム2世は功績に報い、彼に黒鷲章 ( Order of the Black Eagle ) を授け、歩兵大将に昇進させた。しかしヴンシュは1788年10月18日、長い闘病生活の末に肺水腫 [1] により、プレンツラウで没した [3] 。

Seven Years’ War: Background

In the early 1750s, French expansion into the Ohio River valley repeatedly brought France into armed conflict with the British colonies. In 1756, the first official year of fighting in the Seven Years’ War, the British suffered a series of defeats against the French and their broad network of Native American alliances. However, in 1757, British Prime Minister William Pitt (1708�), often called William Pitt the Elder, recognized the potential of imperial expansion that would come out of victory against the French and borrowed heavily to fund an expanded war effort. Pitt financed Prussia’s struggle against France and its allies in Europe and reimbursed the colonies for the raising of armies in North America.

Did you know? Quebec is the largest Canadian province by area, and the only one whose sole official language is French.

Battle of Quebec: December 31, 1775

Facing the year-end expiration of their troops’ enlistment, the American forces advanced on Quebec under the cover of snowfall in the early morning hours of December 31. The British defenders were ready, however, and when Montgomery’s forces approached the fortified city, the British opened fire with a barrage of artillery and musket fire. Montgomery was killed in the first assault, and after several more attempts at penetrating Quebec’s defenses, his men were forced to retreat.

Meanwhile, Arnold’s division suffered a similar fate during their attack on the northern wall of the city. A two-gun battery opened fire on the advancing Americans, killing a number of troops and wounding Arnold in the leg. Patriot Daniel Morgan (1736-1802) assumed command and made progress against the defenders, but halted at the second wall of fortifications to wait for reinforcements. By the time the rest of Arnold’s army finally arrived, the British had reorganized, forcing the Patriots to call off their attack. Of the approximately 1,200 Americans who participated in the battle, more than 400 were captured, wounded or killed. British casualties were minor.

After the defeat at Quebec, the battered and ailing Patriots remained outside the city with the help of additional supplies and reinforcements, carrying out an ineffectual siege. However, with the arrival of a British fleet at Quebec in May 1776, the Americans retreated from the area.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Stranger than Fiction - Maxen (1759) refought

Historically, Lt-General Finck's entire Corps, some 14,000 men, surrendered to Field-Marshall Daun, one of the most successful Austrian actions of the entire Seven Years War. So the pressure is actually on the Austrian commander in this battle, rather than the outnumbered Prussians, who cannot really do worse than they did historically.

Herewith the original deployment.

We used Charles Grant's excellent scenario in Refighting History. Here for comparison is his map.

The disparity in strength between the two combatants is very clear.

Historically, Finck ordered his 15 cuirassier sqns to advance against Brentano, but they failed and were driven back. If that can be avoided, then there is in fact a wide gap through which Finck can easily withdraw. And he should - here is a view from the Prussian position on the heights of Mazen at the Austrian army massing for the assault.

A helicopter view of deployments in our re-fight.

And here is our version of the assault on the Heights:

Success was not absolutely guaranteed, but as Daun I felt reasonably optimistic. As it turned out casualties were relatively similar, perhaps slightly higher but not twice, and of course there is the usual question surrounding how many wargames casualties were actually dead. We felt that the Zimmermann ANF 7YW rules did well in simulating the assault up a steep hill, especially in the difficult balance of artillery casualties.

Later in the battle, Prussians cleared away, the picture on this flank looked like this:

There had been some stiff fighting around the Redoubts and my grenadiers had suffered considerably, but sheer numbers told in the end.

My cavalry completely failed to get round the back of Mazen, however. And similarly you can see from the picture below the problem developing on Daun's left flank. The Prussian infantry have only to advance, and the cavalry will not be able to secure the retreat line marked here by two sheets of paper.

Which is exactly how it turned out:

My problems were multiplying elsewhere, too, and just as seriously. General Brentano did not do as well in repelling the Prussian cavalry as he did historically. The crucial advantage of the cuirass was well-taken, whilst that Austrian artillery piece just did not do sufficient damage. Here, the calm before the storm.

The aftermath - Brentano driven from the field and the Prussians in control of the entire flank

And here, what happened as a result of failing to win the cavalry mêlée - I failed to close the gap on the retreating enemy. This is C18th warfare, not Napoleonic - no need for the Prussians to form squares here. Those Austrian cavalry in the top right of the shot are retiring, leaving their Hussar comrades to fight their way out as best they can. The wide open space for the Prussian withdrawal is plain to see.

We were left thinking that Daun had been exceptionally fortunate on the day for General Brentano to win the cavalry mêlée. It really seems that anything less than what happened historically would have allowed Lt-Gen Finck to extricate himself without much more than the casualties he sustained on the Heights. Fact was truly stranger than fiction.

Grant, C. S. Refighting History. Volume 5. Minden, Kunersdorf, the Action at Torgau and Maxen. Leigh-on-Sea, Partizan Press.

Quiberon Bay, battle of

Quiberon Bay, battle of, 1759. This bay lies on the Biscay coast of France between Lorient and Saint-Nazaire. Here, on 20 November 1759, was fought one of the most brilliant engagements in the annals of naval warfare. Britain stood in danger of invasion by France, and by November Sir Edward Hawke had blockaded the fleet of Conflans in Brest since the previous May. When the weather blew Hawke off station, Conflans was able to break out, but early on the 20th Hawke, a little superior in strength, had news that Conflans's 24 ships had entered Quiberon. He risked everything by following the French into this barely known anchorage in fading light and heavy squalls, and did indeed lose two ships through weather, though their crews were saved. But six French ships were destroyed in the ensuing action, and many of the remainder suffered irreparable damage in flight. Hawke considered that 𠆊ll that could possibly be done has been done’, and the French admiringly conceded his achievement.

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  • Regimental Staff (Oberrheinische Kreis-Eskadron)
    1. Eskadron, Oberrheinische Kreis-Eskadron
      • 1. Leibkompanie
      • 2. Kompanie
      • 3. Kompanie
      • 4. Kompanie
        • Rittmeister
        • Leutnant
        • Kornett
        • Wachtmeister
        • Quartiermeister
        • Feldscherer
        • Trompeter
        • Korporale (3)
        • Gemeine (38)
        • 7. Kompanie (wie oben)
        • 8. Kompanie (wie oben)
        • 9. Kompanie (wie oben)

        The combined cuirassier regiment Kurpfalz looks very attractive in its white uniforms with the different facing colours of its component cavalry units.

        Battle of Maxen, 20 November 1759 - History

        Map Description
        Four history maps of India from 1760 to 1858

        - Agra 1805

        - Benares (Banaras, Kasi, Varanasi) 1776

        - Bengal 1765

        - Burmah (Myanmar, Burma) 1824

        - Calcutta (Kalikata, Kolkata) 1640

        - Carcars (Sarkars, Circars) 1786

        - Calicut (Kozhikode) 1792

        - Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1802

        - Delhi 1805

        - Hyderabad (Haydarabad) 1822

        - Madras (Chennai, Madraspatnam) 1638

        - Mysore 1804

        - Nagpur 1850

        - Orissa 1804

        - Oudh (Ayodhya, Awadh) 1858

        - Pegu (Bago) 1852

        - Pondicherry (French)

        - Bombay (also Mumbai) 1669

        - Goa (Portuguese)

        - Indian Ocean, Himalaya Mountains, Bay of Bengal, Sikh Territory, Besar

        University of Texas at Austin. From The Public Schools Historical Atlas edited by C. Colbeck, 1905.

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        1. Royal Navy, “The Battle of Quiberon Bay,”

        2. Julian S. Corbett, England in the Seven Years’ War, vol. 2 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907), 4.

        3. Fred Anderson, Crucible of War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), 381.

        4. “Hubert de Brienne,” Everyone’s Encyclopedia,

        5. Anderson, Crucible of War, 381.

        6. CAPT A. T. Mahan, USN (Ret.), “Edward Hawke: The First Great Name in British Naval Annals,”

        7. J. O. Thorne and T. C. Collocott, eds., Chambers Biographical Dictionary (London: W & R Chambers Ltd., 1984), 64.

        8. Corbett, England in the Seven Years’ War, 27.

        9. Anderson, Crucible of War, 381.

        10. CAPT A. T. Mahan, USN (Ret.), The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783, Project Gutenberg e-Book #13529 (1890).

        11. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History.

        15. Anderson, Crucible of War, 382

        16. Geoffrey Marcus, Quiberon Bay: The Campaign in Home Waters, 1759 (London: Hollis & Carter, 1960), 152.


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