The town of Hastenbeck is situated on the Weser river near Hameln, Germania. The Weser is formed at Münden by the confluence of the Werra e Fulda rivers, on the western border of the Elettorato di Hannover. The Weser is 451 km long e flows into the North Sea near Bremerhaven. Fortresses at Hameln, Minden, Nienburg, e Bremen protect the river which is navigable along its entire length. During the summer months the water level between Münden e Hameln may drop to a low of 80 cm, allowing fanteria e cavalleria to ford the Weser, although artiglieria may still have to be ferried across.
In aprile of 1757, due armate francesi invaded Germania in an attempt to draw forze prussiane away from the Bohemian theater of operations. One army commanded by the Prince de Soubise marched through central Germania e joined the Reichsarmee under the Prinz von Hildburghausen. This coalition army met con disaster at the Battle of Rossbach, 5 novembre 1757. The other armata francese, commanded by Maréchal le Comte d’Estrées advanced north to threaten the Elettorato di Hannover. L’armata of observation hannoveriana opposing d’Estrées was commanded by Wilhelm agosto the Duke of Cumberland, the third son of King George II of England. Cumberland’s army was composed of troops from Hannover, Assia-Cassel, e Brunswick, e he had received six battaglioni prussiani in support.
- Maréchal d’Estrées
- Armata Francese
- Duke of Cumberland
- Army of Observation
Cumberland held his main army at Hameln, garrisoned Minden con his fanteria prussiana, e deployed small patrols all along the Weser from Münden to Bremen. A strong advance guard francese crossed the Weser during the night of 7 luglio, just north of Beverungen, at the town of Blankenau. The advance guard then moved north along the eastern bank of the Weser ed established a bridgehead at Höxter, where the main army crossed on 16 luglio. The left flank francese under Lieutenant-General de Broglie remained on the western bank of the Weser to guard the line of communication. With the armata francese across the Weser, Cumberland deployed his army south of Hameln to engage them. Unfortunately, the Duke of Cumberland now lost the support of his battaglioni prussiani, as these units were recalled by Frederick the Great following his defeat at Kolin, 18 giugno 1757.
In the morning of 25 luglio the armies met at Hastenbeck near Hameln. The commander of the right flank francese, Lieutenant-General François Chevert, was immediately ordered to engage truppe hannoveriane at the village of Voremberg, but he failed to drive them off. The left flank francese under Lieutenant-General de Broglie was still in the process of crossing the Weser near Hameln, e Maréchal d’Estrées decided to postpone the battle until the following day.
On 26 luglio the armata hannoveriana held on a line extending from Hameln to Voremberg. The right flank was anchored on the Hamel river, e deployed behind the marshy Hastenbach creek. The center of the line was deployed north of Hastenbeck, con an artiglieria battery on high ground immediately opposite the town, called the Obensburg. The left flank consisted of due entrenched batteries, one deployed on high ground immediately north of the Schmiedebrink hill, e the other northwest of Voremberg. Battaglioni di granatieri were available to protect the artiglieria. The left flank was anchored on the Obensburg, which Cumberland had incorrectly assumed to be impassable to formed troops. Accordingly, only tre compagnie dei cacciatori were deployed on the summit of the Obensburg. However, General Chevert’s attack of the day before had revealed a weak point in the line of defense hannoveriana: 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 e 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; ed un 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 e la posizione dell’artiglieria hannoveriana
View from the Schmiedebrink, looking northwest, toward the Obensburg e the Schecken
View from the Schmiedebrink, looking west, toward the Schecken
The eastern slope of the Butebrink, east of Voremberg. Hastenbeck is ahead e 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, e d’Eu, including their granatieri e cannoni reggimentali. At 09.00 on 26 luglio this force advanced toward the Obensburg in tre battalion columns, con the right flank column aimed at the summit. The flanking movement proved successful: i cacciatori were quickly engaged in a firefight e melee, e when the Duke of Cumberland realized that his position was threatened from the rear, he could only order his reserves at Diedersen to try e recapture the Obensburg. In addition, several of the battaglioni di granatieri deployed to protect the batteries near Voremberg e the Schmiedebrink were drawn into the fight on the Obensburg, e they were no longer available when the main attacks francese went in against the left flank hannoveriana.
Once Chevert had reached the Obensburg, General d’Armentieres launched his attack against Voremberg con quattro brigades of fanteria, plus the Swiss brigade of Reding, e quattro regiments of dismounted dragoni. In the center, Lieutenant-General Contades marched over the Schmiedebrink hill ed assaulted the battery immediately north of it. Initially, these attacks were repulsed by artiglieria pesante fire, but both batteries were eventually overrun. When the reserve fanteria hannoveriana under Colonel Dachenhausen finally arrived on the Obensburg they were able to turn the tide momentarily, but the Duke of Cumberland had already begun to withdraw his army, e 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, e there are military museums to visit in Hannover, Celle, e Braunschweig.
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