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Battle of Sehested

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Sehested
Part of the War of the Sixth Coalition
Slaget ved Sehested.jpeg

Slaget ved Sehested, by Jørgen V. Sonne
Date10 December 1813[1]
Location54°22′00″N 9°49′00″E / 54.3667°N 9.8167°E / 54.3667; 9.8167
Result Dano–Norwegian victory[1]
Belligerents
Denmark–Norway Denmark–Norway Russian Empire Russian Empire
Kingdom of Prussia Prussia
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom
Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg Hanover
Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Commanders and leaders
Denmark–Norway Prince Frederik of Hesse

Russian Empire Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn

Carl von Clausewitz, Chief of Staff
Strength
9,000[2]–11,000 men[3][1] 10,000[3]–10,500 men[2]
Bodart: 4,000[1]
Casualties and losses
50–69 killed[4]
273–319 wounded[4]
146 missing[3]
Total: 500[1]
522 killed or wounded
600 captured[3]
Total: 1,100[1]
German Campaign of 1813
Napoleon: 3-4-9-16-17
Memorial in Sehestedt
Memorial in Sehestedt

The Battle of Sehested was fought between Danish and Russian-Prussian-British troops at Sehested (in Holstein) on 10 December 1813 during the War of the Sixth Coalition. The Danish Auxiliary Corps, which fought on the side of the French, was pushed back by the allies under Major General Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn in early December 1813, but the Danes, commanded by Prince Frederik of Hesse, managed to secure their retreat by the victory in the Battle of Sehested. However, the battle could not change the course of the war, which ended in Denmark’s defeat in 1814.

Background

Denmark-Norway first became involved in the Napoleonic Wars after the British attempt to impound the Danish fleet in 1807. Until this time, the Danes had favored an alliance with Great Britain. The Crown Prince Frederik refused to accept an imposed alliance with Great Britain but was forced to surrender and the Danish fleet was captured. These events drove the Danes into Napoleon's welcoming arms.

The old king, Christian VII, died in 1808 and the crown prince succeeded as Frederik VI, who had managed to keep his army out of harm's way until 1812, when the Emperor, looking round for extra troops to add to the Grande Armee, prior to the French invasion of Russia, requested that a Danish contingent be mobilized. Frederik managed to persuade Napoleon that Denmark-Norway could best help by providing a contingent, known as the "Danish Auxiliary Corps", for rear area security duties in the Duchy of Holstein. After Napoleon’s failed campaign in Russia, Denmark-Norway declared its neutrality in the spring of 1813; the country was bankrupt, and desperate to return to a peace-time economy. There was, however, one obstacle in the path of this intention - the country of Norway. Sweden had long its eye on Norway, and under Charles XIV John, was determined to take it.

Denmark-Norway main defense had always been its alliance with Russia, a country which had a good reason to fear a resurgence of Swedish expansionism, but which was now allied to her and had agreed to back her claims on Norway. Frederik attempted to negotiate with Russia, Austria and Britain but eventually came to the conclusion that he would have to fight to hold on to his Norwegian territory. Consequently, on May 16th 1813, he declared for Napoleon and undertook to provide a corps of 11,000 infantry, 2,100 cavalry 40 guns, made up of the "Danish Auxiliary Corps" and some reinforcements, under the command of the king's brother in-law Prince Frederik of Hesse.

This formation was sent to join the 13th French corps of Louis-Nicolas Davout in northern Germany, and was designated the "Auxiliary Corps". During the campaign, the Danes had fought with distinction against Austrian "General of the cavalry" Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn. When the news of the French defeat at the Battle of Leipzig reached Davout he retreated back into Hamburg, to begin his defense of the city, not surrendering until after Napoleon's abdication. Meanwhile, the Danes were ordered to fall back to defend Holstein. They were defeated by a smaller Swedish cavalry regiment under Bror Cederström at the Battle of Bornhöved (1813) on 7. December. The battle however did not change much, and Prince Frederik of Hesse was ordered to reach Rendsburg with his corps, which had now been reinforced.

The Battle

Holtsee and Haby

As the head of the Danish force were reaching the town of Holtsee, an enemy force could be seen occupying it. Lallemand's Advanced Guard deployed into battle formation, and the Danish vanguard halted to allow them to clear the enemy from the village. Major Baumberg commanding the Allied forces holding Holtsee spotted the Danes, and had no intention of engaging an entire corps with only three battalions, so he slowly began to withdraw west to the town of Haby, facing southeast. When the main Danish force had arrived, Frederik dispatched two squadrons of the Holstein Cavalry Regiment and the Polish Cavalry Regiment to observe Baumberg's movements east of Haby. At the same time, he also sent two battalions of the Holstein Regiment, the battalion of the Queen's Regiment, and a hussar squadron to cover the area to the northeast of Holtsee.

Baumberg's slow withdrawal had given time for Wallmoden to bring up the rest of his troops from Sehested. However as the Danish marching continued, he allowed himself to be pushed back towards the village. When the Danes passed the southern end of the causeway leading through Haby, a detachment under Major Berger was left to prevent Baumberg from descending on the rear of the convoy. This was just in time as, within a few minutes, Baumberg's force attempted to storm the vanguard. This task was virtually impossible, as they could only form up in a column eight men wide, and the attack was beaten off with so heavy casualties, that Baumberg was effectively cut out of the action. The units left to keep and eye on him east of Haby, were now joined by the four squadrons of cavalry from Holtsee, and as a consequence of this disastrous attack, these units were now free to begin to march towards the Sehested road and the rear of the vanguard.

Danish attack on Sehested

Wallmoden had now pulled back to Sehested, where he turned to face the Danes, forming up at the north of the long, straggling village, just south of the point where the Rendsborg road took a sharp right turn, with his left just north to the marsh which ran along the western side of the village and his right on the river Eider. The Mecklenburg Jaeger battalion was sent across the river in the direction of Holtsee, to see if they could harass the Danish vanguard with long range musketry. Seeing their enemy taking up this position the Danes once again halted, and prepared for battle. The 1st and 4th battalions of the Oldenburg regiments formed into columns, and supported by the fire of Gonner's and Koye's batteries, assaulted the village, screened by a musketeer company of the 1st battalion and the Jaeger company of the 4th. The 6th and 7th battalions of the Russo-German Legion immediately counterattacked ,and supported by the 5th battalion, threw the Danes back to their previous position.

Frederik renewed the attack, which went in with himself at its head and pushed the allied forces back to the northern part of Sehested. The Russo-Prussian 6th and 7th battalions prepared a new defense, but were soon overrun. By 10 o’clock the town was entirely in Danish hands. The Danes formed a line alongside the southern edge of the village and a detachment under Major Bie, consisting of the 1st battalion of the Funen Infantry Regiment and the Friis battery, were sent to cover the ground between Sehested and Hohenfelde, which the Allied left wing had retreated across. Wallmoden now ordered the village to be retaken and the 5th and 6th battalions of the Legion, along with the Anhalt-Dessau battalion, supported by the guns of the KGL and the Hanoverian battery, returned to the fray, attacking in columns.

Wallmoden's counterattack and retreat

The leading column of the 5th battalion of the Legion, was charged by the Funen Dragoon Regiment, and despite the attempt, was unable to form square in time. The survivors were taken prisoner, as were the crews of the two KGL guns and one of the Hanoverian battery. The other two battalions broke and routed back to safety, whilst the captured artillery pieces were dragged back into the Danish lines. The Allies now withdrew some 500 metres down the Osterrode road, and took up a new position, with their left resting on Hohenfelde, and their right on the Eider. On their left a fierce engagement had developed between the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Russo-German Legion and Bie's force, with the outnumbered Danes getting the worst of it. After realizing his men had ran out of ammunition, Bie was forced back about halfway to the Rendborg road, alongside the vanguard. Fortunately for the Danes, the Holstein Cavalry Regiment and the Polish Cavalry Regiment from Haby, had now arrived and pushed the Allied left back to its main body.

In a desperate attempt to break the Danish line, Wallmoden ordered the Mecklenburg Mounted Jaegers to charge the southern part of Sehested. They were eventually routed by musketfire from the 2nd battalion of the Funen Regiment and the 1st battalion of the Schleswig Regiment. Realising that he could no longer hope to hold his position Walmoden ordered a retreat over the Eider to a position on the low heights around Osterrode. Frederik ordered the Holstein Cavalry Regiment forward to try and convert this retreat into a rout, but their attack were beaten off by overwhelming allied musketfire and they fell back to the northern bank of the Eider. From there, they began an artillery bombardment on Wallmoden's position, as well as scouting on Vegesack's division, which had just arrived and was now occupying a position between Wakendorf and Bovenau to the west of the canal. Under heavy bombardment, Wallmoden now began to withdraw across the Cluvensieck bridge, taking up a defensive position facing back across the canal.

End of battle

Charles XIV John had now arrived on the scene, and after a short discussion with Wallmoden and Vegesack, sent a messenger to Prince Frederik suggesting a twenty-four hour ceasefire, in order to collect the wounded and bury the dead, which Frederik agreed to. The Danish troops marched after the vanguard, while a rearguard were kept on the left of the Mühlenerg, to prevent any attempt at pursuit. The battle was over. For the Danes, they had achieved their objective of clearing the road to Rendsburg, whilst the allies had suffered an unhoped defeat. The Allied had lost 1,100 men in total, while the Danes had only lost around 500.

Aftermath

Frederik's forces reached Rendsburg without further incident. Unfortunately for the Danes, the battle could not change the course of the war, and the king, realizing that his cause was lost, now sought peace. The Treaty of Kiel was signed with the Allies in January 1814, which led to Denmark ceding Norway to Sweden. This would consequently lead to the Swedish-Norwegian War of 1814.

Orders of Battle

Danish force

Avant Garde Brigade:

  • 2nd Battalion Schleswig Jaeger Corps
  • 1st & 2nd Battalions Holstein Sharpshooter Corps
  • 1st Battalion 3rd (Jutland) Infantry Regiment
  • Holstein Heavy Cavalry Regiment (4 squadrons)
  • 17th Polish Lancer Regiment (2 squadrons)
  • 6pdr Foot Battery von Gerstenberg (8 guns)

1st Brigade: General Graf Schulenburg

  • 1st & 4th Battalions Oldenburg Infantry Regiment
  • 3 Companies 2nd Battalion Oldernburg Infantry Regiment
  • 3rd & 4th Battalions Holstein Infantry Regiment
  • 2nd & 6th Squadrons Danish Hussar Regiment
  • 3pdr Foot Battery von Gonner (8 guns)
  • 6pdr Foot Battery Koye (8 guns)

2nd. Brigade General Lasson

  • 1st & 2nd Battalions Funen Infantry Regiment
  • 1st & 2nd Battalions Schleswig Infantry Regiment
  • Funen Light Dragoon Regiment (3 squadrons)
  • 6pdr Foot Battery Friis (10 guns)

Train Guard

  • 1st Battalion Queen's Infantry Regiment
  • 2 Companies 2nd Battalion Oldenburg Infantry Regiment
  • Funen Light Dragoon Regiment (1 squadron)

Total: 9,000 men[2]

Allied force

  • 1st Battalion Russo-German Legion (910)
  • 2nd Battalion Russo-German Legion (760)
  • 5th Battalion Russo-German Legion (834)
  • 6th Battalion Russo-German Legion (808)
  • 7th Battalion Russo-German Legion (643)
  • Hanoverian (German) Lauenburg Battalion (638)
  • Hanoverian (German) Langrehr Battalion (638)
  • Hanoverian (German) Bennigsen Battalion (638)
  • Anhalt-Dessau (German) Battalion (600)
  • KGL Light (British-German) Detachment (150)
  • Hanoverian (German) Jaeger Company (40)
  • Meckleburg (German) Foot Jaegers (375)
  • 1st Russo-German Hussar Regiment (487)
  • Bremen-Verden (German) Hussar Regiment (300)
  • Mecklenburg (German) Mounted Jagers (384)
  • 1st Russo-German Horse Battery (6 guns)
  • 2nd Russo-German Horse Battery (6 guns)
  • Hanoverian (German) Foot Battery (4 guns)
  • KGL (British-German) Horse Battery-one section (2 guns)
  • 3rd Battalion Russo-German Legion
  • 4th Battalion Russo-German Legion
  • Hanoverian (German) Feldjagerkorps von Kielmannsegge

Total: 10,500 men[2]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f Bodart 1908, p. 467.
  2. ^ a b c d Allen 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Nielsen 2014, pp. 1-3.
  4. ^ a b denstoredanske.

References

  • Bodart, Gaston (1908). Militär-historisches Kriegs-Lexikon (1618-1905). Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  • Allen, Colin (2018). "Sehested, 10th December 1813" (PDF). 113ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  • Nielsen, Sune Wadskjær (2014). Det danske rytteri: De lette dragoners triumftog. Lindhardt og Ringhof.
  • denstoredanske. "Den store danske. Sehested". Den Store Danske Encyklopædi, Gyldendals Leksikon, 1-3 and Gyldendals Etbindsleksikon.

Further reading

  • Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. Greenhill. ISBN 1853672769.

External links

This page was last edited on 15 June 2021, at 07:24
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