The town of Hastenbeck is situated on the Weser river near Hameln, Allemagne. The Weser is formed at Münden by the confluence of the Werra et Fulda rivers, on the western border of the Électorat of Hanover. The Weser is 451 km long et flows into the North Sea near Bremerhaven. Fortresses at Hameln, Minden, Nienburg, et Bremen protect the river which is navigable along its entire length. During the summer months the water level between Münden et Hameln may drop to a low of 80 cm, allowing infantry et cavalry to ford the Weser, although artillery may still have to be ferried across.
In Avril of 1757, deux armées françaises invaded l’Allemagne in an attempt to draw des forces prussiennes away du théâtre militaire de la Bohême. One army commanded by the Prince de Soubise marched through Allemagne centrale et joined the Reichsarmee under the Prinz von Hildburghausen. This coalition army met avec disaster at the Bataille de Rossbach, 5 Novembre 1757. L’autre armée française, commanded by Maréchal le Comte d’Estrées advanced north to threaten the Électorat of Hanover. L’Armée de Observation Hanovrienne opposing d’Estrées was commanded by William Augustus duc de Cumberland, the third son of King George II of England. Cumberland’s army was composed of troops from Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, et Brunswick, et he had received six bataillons prussiens in support.
- Maréchal d’Estrées
- Armée française
- Duc de Cumberland
- Army of Observation
Cumberland held his main army at Hameln, garrisoned Minden avec son infanterie prussienne, et deployed small patrols all along the Weser from Münden to Bremen. A strong avant-garde française crossed the Weser during the night of 7 July, just north of Beverungen, at the town of Blankenau. The advance guard then moved north along the eastern bank of the Weser et established a bridgehead at Höxter, where the main army crossed on 16 July. L’aile gauche française under Lieutenant-General de Broglie remained on the western bank of the Weser to guard the line of communication. With l’armée française across the Weser, Cumberland deployed his army south of Hameln to engage them. Unfortunately, le duc de Cumberland now lost the support de ses bataillons prussiens, as these units were recalled by Frederick the Great following his defeat at Kolin, 18 Juin 1757.
In the morning of 25 Juillet the armies met at Hastenbeck near Hameln. Le commandant du flanc droit français, Lieutenant-General François Chevert, was immediately ordered to engage les troupes hanovriennes at the village of Voremberg, but he failed to drive them off. L’aile gauche française under Lieutenant-General de Broglie was still in the process of crossing the Weser near Hameln, et Maréchal d’Estrées decided to postpone the battle until the following day.
On 26 Juillet, l’Armée Hanovrienne held on a line extending from Hameln to Voremberg. The right flank was anchored on the Hamel river, et deployed behind the marshy Hastenbach creek. The center of the line was deployed north of Hastenbeck, avec an artillery battery on high ground immediately opposite the town, called the Obensburg. The left flank consisted of two entrenched batteries, one deployed on high ground immediately north of the Schmiedebrink hill, et the other northwest of Voremberg. Grenadier bataillons were available to protect the artillery. The left flank was anchored on the Obensburg, which Cumberland had incorrectly assumed to be impassable to formed troops. Accordingly, only three companies of Jägers were deployed on the summit of the Obensburg. However, General Chevert’s attack of the day before had revealed a weak point de la ligne de défense hanovrienne: it was entirly feasible to maneuver into the rear of the left flank by way of another ridgeline east of Voremberg which lead to the Butebrink et from there to the summit of the Obensburg.
Pictures of Hastenbeck Battlefield
Château de Hastenbeck
Hastenbeck church seen from the château
Hastenbeck church at left; et a grain silo near the château
View from the fields northwest of Hastenbeck, looking north, toward the Schecken
View from the fields northwest of Hastenbeck, looking northeast, toward the Obensburg
View from the fields northwest of Hastenbeck, looking east, toward the Schmiedebrink
Denkmalsweg northeast of Hastenbeck, leading up to the Schmiedebrink. Notice the steep slope.
The Hastenbeck Monument is in the clump of trees to the right of the Denkmalsweg on the Schmiedebrink
View from the Denkmalsweg, looking northwest, toward the Schecken
The Hastenbeck Monument at the Denkmalsweg on the Schmiedebrink
View from the Schmiedebrink, looking east, toward the tree-lined road to Voremberg
View from the Schmiedebrink, looking northeast, toward the Butebrink
View from the Schmiedebrink, looking north, toward the Obensburg
View from the Schmiedebrink, looking north/northwest, toward the Obensburg et the artillery emplacement
View from the Schmiedebrink, looking northwest, toward the Obensburg et the Schecken
View from the Schmiedebrink, looking west, toward the Schecken
The eastern slope of the Butebrink, east of Voremberg. Hastenbeck is ahead et to the left
General Chevert’s route of approach east of Voremberg, up to the Butebrink
General Chevert’s flanking force consisted of the brigades of Picardy, la Marine, Navarre, et d’Eu, including leur grenadiers et canons régimentaires. At 09.00 on 26 Juillet this force advanced toward the Obensburg in three bataillon columns, avec the right flank column aimed at the summit. The flanking movement proved successful: the Jägers were quickly engaged in a firefight et melee, et quand le duc de Cumberland realized that his position was threatened from the rear, he could only order his reserves at Diedersen to try et recapture the Obensburg. In addition, several of the Grenadier bataillons deployed to protect the batteries near Voremberg et the Schmiedebrink were drawn into the fight on the Obensburg, et they were no longer available when the main attacks français went in contre la flanque gauche hanovrienne.
Once Chevert had reached the Obensburg, General d’Armentieres launched his attack against Voremberg avec four brigades of infantry, plus la brigade suisse de Reding, et four regiments of dismounted dragoons. In the center, Lieutenant-General Contades marched over the Schmiedebrink hill et assaulted the battery immediately north of it. Initially, these attacks were repulsed by heavy artillery fire, but both batteries were eventually overrun. When l’infanterie de réserve hanovrienne sous colonel Dachenhausen finally arrived on the Obensburg they were able to turn the tide momentarily, mais le duc de Cumberland had already begun to withdraw his army, et Dachenhausen could not maintain his isolated position for long.
The battlefield at Hastenbeck is well worth a visit, even though a powerline has been built right through it. There is a diorama of the battle at the museum in Hameln, et there are military museums to visit en Hanovre, Celle, et Braunschweig.
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