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The Battle of Ölper is a battle that took place on 1 August 1809 in Ölper, currently a district of the town of Brunswick, as part of the War of the Fifth Coalition. It pitched troops of the Kingdom of Westphalia against the Black Brunswickers under Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, but ended in a tactical draw.
Ölper, formerly a village, is a quarter of the city of Braunschweig in Lower Saxony, Germany. It lies to the north of the city centre on the river Oker. It is part of the Stadtbezirk Lehndorf-Watenbüttel.
Braunschweig, also called Brunswick in English, is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker River which connects it to the North Sea via the Aller and Weser Rivers. In 2016, it had a population of 250,704.
The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent another expedition, the Walcheren Campaign, to the Netherlands in order to relieve the Austrians, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July.
In the Battle of Jena and Auerstedt, Duke Charles William Ferdinand of Brunswick was mortally wounded. On his deathbed he nominated his son Frederick William as his successor. Although the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel had remained neutral in the conflict against France, Napoleon declared in 1807 that the House of Brunswick had ceased to reign, broke up the duchy and made it a part of the Kingdom of Westphalia, named the Département Oker.
Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg was the Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and a military leader. His titles are usually shortened to Duke of Brunswick in English-language sources.
Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was a German prince and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Oels. Nicknamed "The Black Duke", he was a military officer who led the Black Brunswickers against French domination in Germany. He briefly ruled the state of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from 1806 to 1807 and again from 1813 to 1815.
France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
Resisting this, Frederick William, equipped 2,000 troops at his own expense and offered them and his services to Emperor Franz I of Austria in the Convention of Vienna on 25 February 1809. Due to their black uniform these troops were called the Black Brunswickers. After the Battle of Wagram, Austria had made peace with Napoleon, Frederick William decided to pull his troops on their own through northern Germany to embark on the North Sea to England and on the side of England continue to struggle against Napoleon. After defeating a Westphalian infantry regiment at the Battle of Halberstadt on 29 July, the Black Brunswickers and their leader reached Braunschweig on 31 July. The troops were joyfully welcomed by the population, but on the morning following their arrival Frederick William received word that a 5,000-strong Westphalian division commanded by General Reubell was approaching from the north of the city.
Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation after the decisive defeat at the hands of the First French Empire led by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1804, he had founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I, the first Emperor of Austria, ruling from 1804 to 1835, so later he was named the one and only Doppelkaiser in history. For the two years between 1804 and 1806, Francis used the title and style by the Grace of God elected Roman Emperor, ever Augustus, hereditary Emperor of Austria and he was called the Emperor of both the Holy Roman Empire and Austria. He was also Apostolic King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia as Francis I. He also served as the first president of the German Confederation following its establishment in 1815.
The Treaty of Schönbrunn, sometimes known as the Peace of Schönbrunn or Treaty of Vienna, was signed between France and Austria at Schönbrunn Palace near Vienna on 14 October 1809. The treaty ended the Fifth Coalition during the Napoleonic Wars, after Austria had been defeated at the decisive Battle of Wagram on 5-6 July.
The Brunswick Ducal Corps, commonly known as the Black Brunswickers in English and the Schwarze Schar or Schwarze Legion in German, were a military unit in the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was raised from volunteers by German-born Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1771–1815). The Duke was a harsh opponent of Napoleon Bonaparte's occupation of his native Germany. Formed in 1809 when war broke out between the First French Empire and the Austrian Empire, the corps initially comprised a mixed force, around 2,300 strong, of infantry, cavalry and later supporting artillery.
The Blacks were outnumbered and were also threatened by an invading Dutch division from Halberstadt. In order not to fall between the two divisions, the Duke decided to face the Westphalians north of Brunswick, near the village of Ölper, to attempt to break through to the north.
At 14:00 the Black crowd moved toward Ölper, reinforced by about 200 citizens of Braunschweig, who were equipped with material looted from Halberstadt. Major Korfes destroyed the crossings over the Oker, in order to prevent flank attacks by the enemy.
An hour later, Reubell's troops appeared at Ölper; the lead Westphalian cuirassiers were immediately fired upon and retreated. The First Infantry Regiment of Westphalia now advanced on the village of Ölper. Friedrich Wilhelm left and withdrew his troops to the south and stationed artillery on a hill. From there they could counter the Westphalian infantry attack.
Now Brunswick continued with their Duke at the head of the counter-attack; Friedrich Wilhelm's horse was killed, but he himself remained unhurt. However, the Captain of Rabiell, commander of the advancing companies, fell. The Blacks progressively withdrew, without having recaptured Ölper.
A direct attack on the Westphalians that followed failed. The bold counterattack against the Hussars under Major Schrader did do damage to them and caused great confusion in the ranks of Westphalia.
An artillery battle finally destroyed one of Brunswick's guns, but further attacks never came. Although the Duke was planning a night attack, Reubell had presciently already cleared the village of Ölper.
The casualty figures for the numerically far superior Westphalian troops were estimated to be between 200 and 500 men. Estimates for losses of Black Brunswicker troops vary from 40 (22 dead and 18 missing) and 86 (24 dead and 62 wounded), but these are believed to be understated.
Although Friedrich Wilhelm is believed to have made some tactical errors (evacuating Ölper and then attempting its recapture, having an insufficient perspective on his overall position and commanding only a small portion of his troops), the Brunswick troops fought bravely against a numerically superior enemy. This was due in part to the greater fighting experience of the Brunswick troops and their high morale (they had previously defeated a Westphalian Regiment in Halberstadt) and also to the hesitation of General Reubell. Even if at the end of the day the Westphalians took the battlefield (but they withdrew from Ölper after nightfall), they did not manage to defeat the Black crowd, nor stop their further movement to the North Sea. On 2 August the Brunswick Corps broke through and reached to about Celle, Hannover, Nienburg and Delmas, while pursued by Reubell's troops. On 7 August they reached Elsfleth, from which they were shipped to Helgoland and later to the Isle of Wight. Duke Friedrich Wilhelm joined his troops in British service, and fought from 1810 to 1814 under the command of Wellington in Portugal and Spain. General Reubell was dismissed from his post by Napoleon because of his failure, but fled to America before he could be brought to justice.
In 1824 and 1833 Duke Charles the Second and Duke William, sons of the Black Duke, donated a Cross of Honor for 1809, which they awarded to the participants.
Digby Smith is a British military historian. The son of a British career soldier, he was born in Hampshire, England, but spent several years in India and Pakistan as a child and youth. As a "boy soldier," he entered training in the British Army at the age of 16. He was later commissioned in the Royal Corps of Signals, and held several postings with the British Army of the Rhine.
Wolfenbüttel is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany, the administrative capital of Wolfenbüttel District. It is best known as the location of the internationally renowned Herzog August Library and for having the largest concentration of timber-framed buildings in Germany. It is an episcopal see of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick. It is also home to the Jägermeister distillery and houses a campus of the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences.
Friedrich Adolf Riedesel, Freiherr zu Eisenbach was a German officer who served in the Seven Years' War and American War of Independence. He was the commander of the Braunschweiger Jäger, a regiment of soldiers from the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel that was among the German units hired by the British during the American War of Independence. He then commanded all German soldiers in the Saratoga Campaign.
Ferdinand Baptista von Schill was a Prussian Major who revolted unsuccessfully against French domination of Prussia in May 1809.
Halberstadt is a town in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, the capital of Harz district. Located north of the Harz mountain range, it is known for its old town centre that was severely damaged in World War II and rebuilt in the following decades.
The Duchy of Brunswick was a historical German state. Its capital was the city of Brunswick (Braunschweig). It was established as the successor state of the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In the course of the 19th-century history of Germany, the duchy was part of the German Confederation, the North German Confederation and from 1871 the German Empire. It was disestablished after the end of World War I, its territory incorporated into the Weimar Republic as the Free State of Brunswick.
The German Emperor was the official title of the head of state and hereditary ruler of the German Empire. A specifically chosen term, it was introduced with the 1 January 1871 constitution and lasted until the official abdication of Wilhelm II on 28 November 1918. The Holy Roman Emperor is sometimes also called "German Emperor" when the historical context is clear, as derived from the Holy Roman Empire's official name of "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" from 1512.
Charles, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, reigned as Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from 1735 until his death.
Charles II, Duke of Brunswick, ruled the Duchy of Brunswick from 1815 until 1830.
The Free State of Brunswick was a state of the German Reich in the time of the Weimar Republic. It was formed after the abolition of the Duchy of Brunswick in the course of the German Revolution of 1918–19. Its capital was Braunschweig (Brunswick).
The Battle of Gefrees was fought on 8 July 1809 during the War of the Fifth Coalition between a joint force of Austrians and Brunswickers under the command of General Kienmayer and a French force under the command of General Junot, Duke of Abrantès. The battle ended in victory for the Austrians who avoided being trapped by Junot and a force of Saxons and Westphalians led by Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia. After Jérôme's troops were defeated at the Battle of Hof, the Austrians effectively had control over all of Saxony. However the victory was in vain, due to the major Austrian defeat at Wagram and the Armistice of Znaim.
The Battle of Stralsund on 31 May 1809 was a battle during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars, between Ferdinand von Schill's freikorps and Napoleonic forces in Stralsund. In a "vicious street battle", the freikorps was defeated and Schill was killed in action.
The Black Hussar is a 1932 German historical drama film directed by Gerhard Lamprecht and starring Bernhard Goetzke, Conrad Veidt, Mady Christians, and Wolf Albach-Retty. It premièred at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo on 12 October 1932, part of a whole string of 'patriotic' movies released in the late days of the Weimar Republic.
Frederick Augustus of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel was a German nobleman and Prussian general. A prince of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and thus one of the Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg, in 1792 he was granted the Duchy of Oels and the Duchy of Bernstadt and thus also became the ruling duke of these duchies.
Jean-Jacques Reubell (Rewbell) was a French general during the Napoleonic Wars.
Frederick III "the restless" of Brunswick-Göttingen-Calenberg, was a son of Duke William the Victorious of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Cecilia of Brandenburg. He became Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg together with his brother William IV in 1482. However, he was deposed in 1484.
Frederick Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, was a member of the House of Guelph. he was a Danish field marshal and also the last Duke of Brunswick-Bevern.
The Battle of Halberstadt took place on 29 and 30 July 1809 at Halberstadt in the Kingdom of Westphalia, during the War of the Fifth Coalition. A Westphalian infantry force attempted to halt the Black Brunswickers under Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel who were heading for North Sea coast. However, the Brunswickers surprised the Westphalians by a rapid advance and defeated them inside the town.