The Bavarians, anticipating the arrival of the Hessians, deployed their main strength on the left wing. This wing advanced and deployed behind the stream. Two battalions were pushed forward to occupy the Ossenberg. The centre formed on the Schlatberg. The Right wing formed up south and west of Forgau in a rather detached position. The Reserve remaining centrally posted North West of Zotton.
The Hanoverian deployment was in two lines on the high ground opposite the Schlatberg. The cavalry covered the right wing with its right on the road. The light troops seized the Wiessenberg from which they obtained a splendid view of the proceedings.
The situation at 09.30 is shown on the map (see previous post). Fire was being exchanged between the artillery on the Schlatberg and opposite. The Hessians had not yet appeared.
Cumberland was alarmed to receive reports of the enemy on the Ossenberg. He at once detached half his second line to join Hardenberg with the cavalry. These he ordered to clear the Ossenberg. The two battalions must have felt themselves exposed on the Ossenberg and rued the fact that their artillery was behind the stream. Attacked by twice their number of infantry and cavalry, they fell back in disorder pursued by the Horse Grenadiers. These pursued to the stream where they halted and observed the Bavarians drawn up before them. The flight of these troops and the appearance of cavalry on his left flank alarmed Hildburghausen, who detached his Cuirassiers from the Reserve to stabilise the position. This was not his only alarm. Four squadrons had been detached from the Wiessenberg to investigate Forgau. This village the mounted jaegers found unoccupied. Swiftly they remedied this and opened fire on the dragoons opposite, Fearing a major turning movement through the Wiessenberg gap, Hildburghausen detached his Uhlans to secure this wings. He further instructed Xavier to retake Forgau. The jaegers did not wait but with news of this troop concentration they fled back to the safety of the hill top.
Cumberland now committed what should have been a fatal error. His pleas to the Hessians to speed their march were answered. At 10.15 these troops marched on to support the attack on the Ossenberg. Hardenberg was ordered to withdraw his battalion and occupy Ossen. This order was then countermanded and the Hessians ordered to the task instead. Not content with countermarching his troops once he suddenly realised his blunder (the Hessians were then on the Ossenberg and Hardenberg approaching Ossen) and sent messengers to bring back Hardenberg (who had at once set off for Ossenberg) and send back the Hessians to the berg. Had the Bavarian left made some attempt to retrieve the Ossenberg any such attempt must have thrown the Hanoverian right into disorder. The moment passed however and the Hessians took up positions in the woods south of Ossenberg while Hardenberg entered Ossen.
Cumberland now had reports telling him that the enemy wings were in strength. He guessed that the Schlatberg could only be weakly held.
Cumberland to Ohien - Assault Schlatberg
Cumberland to Lippe - Support Ohien
Cumberland to Hardenberg - Support Ohien
Cumberland to Hereditary Prince - Engage Bavarians behind stream
Hildburghausen realised the troops in Forgau had been but a feint and was most alarmed at the Hessians bursting from the woods round Ossen. The Uhlans were switched from the right to the left.
The Hanoverians in the centre now burst upon the Schlatberg. Despite heavy casualties in the approach they swiftly threw back the Bavarian centre, which retreated in disorder. Xavier with four battalions and nine squadrons attempted to counterattack but, outnumbered, he was soon in retreat.
On the Bavarian left all was in disorder as some Hanoverian dragoons burst across the bridge (which had been left unguarded). The Light artillery was abandoned and the whole, covered by the cuirassiers, retreated on Zotton.
The cuirassiers and other Bavarian squadrons covered the retreat, which was not pressed - the light troops on the Wiessenberg being too far back to change the retreat into a rout. Hildburghausen managed to fire his magazine as he retired.
Hanoverian: 2,200 (including 800 Hessians)
Bavarians: (2,900 + 1,000 captured and 40 guns; General Xavier)
The serious Bavarian losses (nearly 25% of their force), combined with the loss of the main magazine, resulted in a precipitate retreat during which many of the territorials deserted. The remainder of the force shut themselves up in the walled capital of Bombar; Major General Preysing was left in command while Hildburghausen went off to gather a relieving army. Cumberland, lacking siege artillery, contented himself with blockading Bombar, the investment of which was completed on October 3rd. The tale of the siege will be related later.
Despatch from Count Hildburghausen to the Elector of Bavaria dated September 29th from Bombar.
The forces under my command have succeeded in denying to the enemy the use of the Zotton magazine, although the cost has not been slight. I instructed the main body of Your Highness's Army to occupy the Schlatberg-0ssenberg position, pushing as far as possible along the river. A smaller force under General Xavier was detailed to defend our right flank in the Forgaufeldt area.
The enemy being reported in force north of Ossen, I ordered the Ossenberg-Schlatberg line to be held defensively, whilst starting to build up a striking force around Xavier's command to come in on the flank of the expected attack from the north. Regrettably the Ossenberg units were not kept together, and two exposed battalions were suddenly attacked by heavy cavalry and scattered with great Ioss. Prince Klemens then withdrew behind the brook. During this action enemy cavalry had been reported as occupying Forgau, and fearing that this could be a big raid on the magazine Xavier’s force was ordered to investigate before he advanced northwards to succour the main position. When at last he was enabled to advance it was too late. Massed infantry attacks had dislodged Your Highness's troops, who had defended themselves with great bravery against overwhelming numbers, thereby adding great glory to Your Highness's Arms. Xavier counter-attacked vigorously, throwing the enemy into disorder, but numbers prevailed and his attack was repulsed. Xavier was shot down while leading the Piosasque dragoons to the attack.
Our cavalry covered the withdrawal of our troops to Zotton where the magazine was fired. The enemy is believed to have lost six thousand out of their force. Our casualty lists are not yet complete, some guns had to be abandoned.”
Despatch from William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, to his Majesty Ceorge II, King of England, Elector of Hanover. Dated September 27th, Zotton. Extract (the original despatch being somewhat wordy).
Almighty God has been pleased to grant to your Majesty's forces under my command, this day, a great victory over the invasive forces in the neighbourhood of Zotton.
(There follows a minute description of the Duke's march to Worste).
I conceived it my first objective to form a junction with your Majesty's auxiliaries commanded by the Hereditary Prince of Hesse. To this end I deployed my army in two lines on the hills north of Ossen ..... The left wing was covered by the Light troops of General Zastrow posted on the Wiessenberg… The enemy commenced a brisk cannonade from the Schlatberg opposite to which our artillery replied. Towards ten o'clock the Bavarians made a desperate attempt to turn our right flank by occupying the Ossenberg. Ma,jor-General Hardenberg with the cavalry and three battalions of infantry from our second line severely punished this impertinence .... We despatched four squadrons of Stockhausen's Corps of Jaegers to investigate the neighbourhood of Forgau. These troops reported the enemy in great strength thereabouts…
The Hereditary Prince having come up on my right I ordered a general advance .... Your Majesty's infantry behaved with the utmost gallantry and drove the enemy from his positions. We instructed our cavalry to cross the stream at the Ossen bridge. This bridge they found unguarded and their appearance threw the enemy into great confusion ... The left wing repulsed a counter attack from the enemy advancing from Forgau after which the whole Bavarian force retired precipitately ...
The Bavarians retired in great disorder leaving forty guns and over 1,000 prisoners in addition to 3,000 dead and wounded. !n retiring they attempted to fire the town of Zotton which contained abundant supplies. Your Majesty's losses have been some 2,000 which nay be considered a small price for so complete a victory.
Bavarian Infantry wore a characteristic light blue uniform with various coloured facings. Cuirassiers white uniform - cuirass worn underneath coat. Dragoons red. Artillery grey.
Saxon (Kries-Regiments) local contingents wore grey uniforms with vari-coloured facings. The Hussars were lancers in a long white coat with a tartar headress.
Hanoverian Infantry - red coats, with brown or red trousers, vari-coloured facings. Dragoons white uniforms. Horse Grenadiers white uniforms with the mitre head-dress. The Horse Grenadiers of the Guard wore a red uniform. Artillery steel blue with red facings. Buckeburg Carabineers, black leather with cuirasses, tartar head-dress. Jaegers - green.
Hessians. Prussian style uniform but dark blue trousers.
NEXT TIME - THE SIEGE OF BOMBAR