Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Action at Desfurs Bridge

The Action at Desfurs Bridge, July 10, 1628
Caracciola set up his blocking force at Desfurs Bridge and waited for Uslar’s advance. Once Uslar reached the blocked bridge, he stopped and organized his troops. The day of battle opened with an unusually warm day with the sun at Uslar’s back. This was an advantage for the Swedes who were able to stop and rest at noon whereas the Imperial forces remained in line of battle which they had been in since the early morning. Uslar divided his force into cavalry wings and a center. Ruthven lead the cavalry left wing while Knyphausen lead the right wing. Saxe-Launenberg commanded the infantry center.

Caracciola mirrored the Swedes with cavalry wings and an infantry center. His center was commanded by Cordoba and the tercios were staggered in along the base of the hill in front of the Desfurs Bridge.

The first phase of the battle opened with ineffectual Swedish artillery fire which lasted for roughly a half hour before the Scot,Ruthven, advanced the Baudissin and Soop Horse on the Swedish left to contact. At the same time, Saxe-Launenberg advanced the center to deliver a crushing volley which shattered the De Magni Dragoons who had been the Forlorn Hope of the Imperial forces and cleared the Imperial artillery.

This second phase of battle saw the Swedes continued to advance finally masking their guns. The advance went past the corpses of the De Magni troopers and the abandoned Imperial guns, to deliver further volleys into the Imperial Caracciolo, Schmidt and Verdugo tercios. Both Caracciolo and Verdugo tercios were discomforted by the musket fire. Still the tercios waited for the orders to advance. Finally the waiting became too much for the Verdugo tercio which broke into a mob and fled the field.

On the Swedish left, Ruthven’s troopers broke through the Losada Cuirassiers to threaten the bridge. Lindelo, the imperial commander on the left, lead his troopers to stem the breach leaving only the Baden Cuirassiers to stand between the Swedes and their main objective.

The third and final phase of the battle began with the men of Verdugo fleeing to the rear. Both the Duke of Sesa and his sub-commander, Cordoba, tried to stem their retreat. Shots were fired and both Generals fell. This threw the Imperial center into disorganization and confusion as there now was an absence of formal command. Troops slowly began to trickle to the rear. While the center dissolved into confusion, the Imperial cavalry on the left wing, under Duke Anholt, advanced into contact. The Swedes, unlike the Imperials, held and a swirling cavalry melee ensued.

In the center, the Swedes continued to delivered sharp volleys which disorganized the remaining steadfast Herliberg and Schmidt tercios. With two more crushing volleys, the Swedes saw the Herliberg tercio collapse and the center’s gradual retreat became a flood as the tercios broke into masses of men. The Imperial cavalry wings tried to stem the advance but only managed to screen the retreating forces. During this final phase, Lindelo, the left wing Imperial commander was mortally wounded.

The aftermath of the battle saw Uslar not pursue his crushing victory. The firepower of his Swedish brigades combined with the lack of action by the Imperial tercios crushed the Imperials and destroyed much of their command structure. Only the Duke Anholt survived the battle and he was only able to organize a handful of troops at Reichling. Taking these troops and the garrison, he fled Reichling to Klintzingen to reform his army.

Imperial troop losses & notes
Merode ARK 100 men
Eynatten KUR 10 men
Des Fours KUR 60 men; Des Fours killed
Nivenheim KUR 10 men; Nivenheim mortally wounded
Caracciolo IR 100 men; Caracciolo killed
Herliberg IR 600 men; Cordoba killed
Schoppe IR 400 men
Schmidt IR 300 men
Verdugo IR 1.000 men; Verdugo mortally wounded
Losada ARK 100 men
Lindelo KUR 100 men; Lindelo mortally wounded
Baden KUR 20 men
De Magni Forlorn Hope 200 men; De Magni killed
Lost 6 medium and heavy artillery pieces

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