Tweet Battle in the Thirty Years War. The Protestant army, led by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, had advanced into southern Germany with 20, men. Gustavus was forced to respond, marching north before entrenching to wait for reinforcements. At this point, Wallenstein splitt off a third of his army. Hearing this, Gustavus rushed to attack. The two armies made contact on the evening of 15 November, and spent the night drawn up in battle formation, with the Imperial army defending a ditched road.
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He expected no further move that year from the Swedish army, since unseasonably wintry weather was making it difficult to camp in the open countryside. The resulting skirmish delayed the Swedish advance by two or three hours, thus when night fell the two armies were still separated by about 2—3 kilometres 1—2 miles. In their attempt to achieve surprise the Swedes had abandoned the 3 pounder cannons that normally were attached to each of their infantry brigades, denying them the crucial firepower advantage that they had enjoyed in previous battles.
Seeing the danger, he dispatched a note to General Pappenheim ordering him to return as quickly as possible with his army corps. Pappenheim received the note after midnight, and immediately set off to rejoin Wallenstein with most of his troops. He anchored his right flank on a low hill, on which he placed his main artillery battery.
Gustavus Adolphus rode his war-horse Streiff, a brown Oldenburg that he had purchased from a Colonel Johan Streiff von Lauenstein for the sum of riksdaler the sum for a regular horse was about riksdaler.
This would have serious consequences later. After a while, Pappenheim arrived with 2,—3, cavalry and halted the Swedish assault. However, during the charge, Pappenheim was fatally wounded by a small-calibre Swedish cannonball. He died while being evacuated from the field in a coach. The cavalry action on the open Imperial left wing continued, with both sides deploying reserves in an attempt to gain the upper hand.
He sustained yet another shot in the back, suffered several sword stabs through the torso and fell from his horse. As he lay dying on the ground, he received a final, fatal shot to the temple.
However, when the gunnery paused and the smoke cleared, his horse was spotted between the two lines, Gustavus himself not on it and nowhere to be seen. His disappearance stopped the initiative of the hitherto successful Swedish right wing, while a search was conducted.
His partly stripped body  was found an hour or two later, and was secretly evacuated from the field in a Swedish artillery wagon. Struggle in the center[ edit ] Meanwhile, the veteran infantry of the Swedish center had continued to follow orders and tried to assault the strongly entrenched Imperial center and right wing.
Their attack was a catastrophic failure. A gap opened in the centre of the Swedish line, which was exploited by Imperial cavalry charging from behind the cover of their own infantry.
Soon most of the Swedish front line was in chaotic retreat. The royal preacher, Jakob Fabricius, rallied a few Swedish officers around him and started to sing a psalm. This act had many of the soldiers halt in hundreds. The foresight of Swedish third-in-command Major General Dodo zu Innhausen und Knyphausen also helped stanch the rout: he had kept the Swedish second or reserve line well out of range of Imperial gunfire, and this allowed the broken Swedish front line to rally.
Cornelis Danckerts: Historis oft waerachtich verhael.. Although rumours were circulating much earlier, it was only the following day that Bernhard collected his surviving officers together and told them the truth.
The result was a grim struggle, with terrible casualties on both sides. The Imperial forces retired back out of its range, leaving the field to the Swedes.
Although night had fallen, they wished to counterattack the Swedes. Wallenstein, however, believed the situation hopeless and instead ordered his army to withdraw to Leipzig under cover of the fresh infantry. His buff coat was taken as a trophy to the emperor in Vienna. When Streiff died at Wolgast in , his hide was saved and sent to Stockholm and Sweden where it was mounted on a wooden model. The embalmed body was dressed in a beautiful gold and silver woven dress and brought in solemn procession to the port town Wolgast.
The corpse was kept there for several months. Not until the summer it was time for the departure to Sweden. The dead king was then brought in a procession down to the sea side. It consisted of people from Sweden and the nearby areas. Banners from all counties and principalities, the blood banner and the head banner were carried.
The widow, Maria Eleonora, rode in a coach, but Gustavus Adolphus young daughter Christina did not participate. The sorrowful procession moved slowly across the country towards the capital. On the funeral day, June 22, the participants gathered outside town.
The dead king was taken off his coach and carried into the capital to the Church. Bishops and priests welcomed the procession in the outskirts of the town and along the road from the gate to the church money were thrown to the people. When the procession reached the Riddarholms church the blood banner was placed over the entrance to the tomb and the bier with Gustavus Adolphus was placed in the middle of the choir. When the ceremony was over the dead king was placed in the tomb.
The end of the ceremony was promulgated by cannons firing over the town for two hours. Having been forced to assault an entrenched position, Sweden lost about 6, men including badly wounded and deserters, many of whom may have drifted back to the ranks in the following weeks. The Imperial army probably lost slightly fewer men than the Swedes on the field, but because of the loss of the battlefield and general theatre of operations to the Swedes, fewer of the wounded and stragglers were able to rejoin the ranks.
The Swedish army achieved the main goals of its campaign. The Imperial onslaught on Saxony was halted, Wallenstein chose to withdraw from Saxony into Bohemia for the winter, and Saxony continued in its alliance with the Swedes. As a result, the Catholic Habsburgs were able to restore their balance and subsequently regain some of the losses Gustavus Adolphus had inflicted on them. The war was eventually concluded at the Peace of Westphalia in Archaeology[ edit ] In , a mass grave containing the remains of 47 soldiers were found in an area where a Swedish unit known as the Blue Brigade was reportedly defeated in a surprise attack by a Catholic cavalry unit.
Examination of the remains determined that more than half of the soldiers had been hit by gunfire, an unusually high number for this time period. Napoleon[ edit ] In May , the Emperor Napoleon was visiting the battlefield, playing tour guide with his staff by pointing to the sites and describing the events of , in detail from memory.
Battaglia di Lützen (1632)