Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Action at Kronhain

The 1629 Campaign
The campaign season began poorly for the Swedes who were caught still trying to rebuild their forces. At Neuenhain, the garrison under Mitzlaff along with two Horse regiments, Horne and Stalhansk, were forced to withdraw with the arrival of the Imperial army. The Swedes were forced to abandon some of the supplies that they had put together for the campaign season. This combined with the previous defeat at Buchholz Hof, depressed the Margrave who consolidated his forces at Welfens.

The Imperial forces under Hohenzollern, after their capture of the supplies at Neuenhain, also consolidated and advanced towards Welfens. The Margrave, hearing of the advance, resolved to attack the Imperial forces near Kronhain in the hopes of forcing a decisive defeat of Hohenzollern’s forces before the Margrave’s own forces revolted. The Swedish troops and their allies desperately needed a victory.

The Action at Kronhain, May 27, 1629
The Margrave, Uslar, managed to catch the Imperial forces as they were marching through Kronhain. The opening phase of the battle saw the Imperial cavalry quickly form on the outskirts of the town to attack the smaller Swedish cavalry wings on the respective flanks. The Imperial tercios, however, were bunched up in Kronhain and attempted to advance out of the town into the fields beyond to engage the smaller Swedish force.

The Swedes advanced on Kronhain hoping to defeat the Imperial forces in detail. As the infantry advanced, the skies darkened and the wind picked up. Seeing the Swedish infantry advance, the Imperial cavalry charged across the field to caracole the Swedish cavalry formed on the wings of the infantry. On the Imperial left, under the command of GM Silvester, the caracole was ineffective which allowed the Swedes to close within point blank range. As they caracoled, the Imperial cuirassiers, Weiss, took fire in the flank from the German Thurn IR. The shot was significant enough to heavily discomfort the cuirassiers. At this point, the Swedish cavalry charged into the mass of caracoling Imperial cavalry routing the three Imperial cavalry units, Losada, Weiss and Baden. During the melee both regimental commanders, Losada and Baden, were mortally wounded and taken from the field. With the rout of the cavalry, the Imperial left flank was effectively crushed.

On the Imperial right, under Nordsee, the Imperial cavalry caracole proved much more effective. The Hessian Arkebusiers, Horne, took heavy casualties before reforming. They with the Soop Horse charged into the first line of Imperial cavalry which was reloading. Like the left flank, the two Imperial cavalry units, Merode and Marzak, in the first line took heavy losses and routed. Marzak was killed outright by a Swedish saber thrust. The second line of two Imperial cavalry units, Aston and Siebdruck, then steeled themselves for the anticipated charge of the reforming Swedish cavalry.

In the center, the Swedes had an ineffectual exchange between their infantry and some Imperial medium guns located at the edge of the village of Kronhain. Both sides exchanged desultory fire with no one taking damage. While the Swedes continued their advance, the Imperial tercio, Hahn, advanced out of Kronhain and closed with the militia under Mitzlaff. After a short melee, the militia retreated a step but held their position in the Swedish line. Further on the Imperial left, the tercio, Themel, emerged from the forest and advanced through the Forlorn Hope and Hahn tercio disorganizing both. The tercio then attempted to re-organize before closing down on the widening gap between the advancing Swedish Baner IR and the Thurn IR, which had wheeled to fire on the advancing Imperial cuirassiers. The disorganized tercio crashed into the exposed flank of the Thurn IR forcing the Swedes to rout. The aftermath left the disorganized tercio, Themel between the Swedish centre and the victorious Swedish cavalry on the Swedish right wing.

With the collapse of the Imperial left wing and the right wing steeling itself for the next Swedish assault, the next phase of the battle began. This phase saw the Swedish centre continue to fire on the Imperial guns causing the gun crews to flee and abandon their guns. The next Imperial tercio, Herliberg, slowly emerging from Kronhain was also discomforted by the crushing Swedish volleys. As the volleys crashed, a flash of lightening lit the sky and a thundershower burst over the troops. The Swedish volleys petered out as the troopers tried to shield their matchlocks from the downpour. At this moment, the tercio, Herliberg, supported by the tercio, Westerbach, advanced and crashed again into the Swedish Brigade, Mitzlaff. This second attack broke killed Col. Mitzlaff and his men wavered, broke and ran from the field. Westerbach advanced and turned to threaten the Swedish Brigade, Kagge. Kagge had just been attacked by the tercio, Herliberg and was engaged in a fierce melee. Kagge managed to defeat Herliberg which broke and ran back into Kronhain.

On the wings of the battle, the Swedish cavalry was less bothered by the downpour. The victorious right wing crashed into the disorganized Thermel tercio routing the tercio which fled back into the woods into front of Kronhain. On the left, the Swedish troopers crashed into the second line of Imperial cavalry which could not fire because of the downpour. The Imperial cavalry was routed with Aston falling mortally wounded.
The victory on the flanks spelled the end of the battle as the Swedish cavalry remained on the field. The center had seen the advance of three Imperial tercios of which two had been beaten back. The final Imperial tercio, Westerbach, withdrew back into Kronhain. Then the three tercios, Westerbach, Hohenzollern, and Schmidt withdrew from Kronhain abandoning their baggage train and guns.

The defeat of the Imperial forces at Kronhain, lead the emperor to recall his commander, Hohenzollern, and the troops under his command. After this defeat, the emperor effectively abandoned the Palatine to the Protestants.

Many of the Swedish forces engaged at Kronhain were veterans of the 1628 campaign while the Imperial forces had been reformed and re-built after the late season victory at Buchholz Hof. The following highlights the losses taken at Kronhain and the status of the troops.

Imperial troop losses & notes
Merode ARK 100 men and was disbanded after the battle
Marzak KUR 200 men with its Inhaber, Marzak KIA; Recruited in the spring of 1629
Siebdruck KUR 200 men; Recruited in late 1628; Disbanded after the battle
Aston KUR 75 men; Aston mortally wounded; Reformed from veterans
Westerbach IR 100 men; Recruited in the spring of 1629
Herliberg IR 400 men; Disbanded after the battle
Hohenzollern IR 10 men
Schmidt IR 20 men
Themel IR 1.000 men; Recruited in the spring of 1629; Disbanded after the battle
Losada ARK 50 men; Losada mortally wounded; Disbanded after the battle
Weiss KUR 100 men; Recruited in late 1628; Disbanded after the battle
Baden KUR 200 men; Baden mortally wounded; unit destroyed
Hahn Forlorn Hope feld early with no losses reported; Recruited in the spring of 1629
Lost 6 medium and heavy artillery pieces

Swedish troop losses & notes
Horne ARK 100 men; Arrived from Hessen in 1628
Soop Horse 10 men
Mitzlaff IR 600 men; Mitzlaff KIA; Disbanded after the battle
Kagge IR 100 men
Moen IR 10 men
Baner IR 40 men
Thurn IR 500 men; Disbanded after the battle
Smaland Horse 20 men; Arrived from Sweden in late 1628
Stalhansk Horse 100 men

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