Battle of Clausen

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Battle of Clausen
Part of the War of the Polish Succession
Clausen1735.jpg
French military map of the battle positions
Date20 October 1735
Location
present-day Klausen, Germany
Result Habsburg victory
Belligerents
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg  France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg  Habsburg Monarchy (Austria, Holy Roman Empire)
Commanders and leaders
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg François de Franquetot de Coigny Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff

The Battle of Clausen (or Klausen) was fought on 20 October 1735 near the town of Klausen (usually spelled in histories with 'C' instead of 'K'), which was then in the Electorate of Trier and part of the Holy Roman Empire, and is now in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. French forces under the command of Marshal François de Franquetot de Coigny were defeated in an attempt to dislodge imperial troops under the command of Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff. The battle was one of the last significant engagements between the combatants in the War of the Polish Succession.

Klausen, Germany Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Klausen is an Ortsgemeinde – a municipality belonging to a Verbandsgemeinde, a kind of collective municipality – in the Bernkastel-Wittlich district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Electorate of Trier

The Electorate of Trier, traditionally known in English by its French name of Trèves, was an ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire that existed from the end of the 9th to the early 19th century. It consisted of the temporal possessions of the prince-archbishop of Trier, also prince-elector of the empire. There were only two other ecclesiastical prince-electors in the Empire: the Electorate of Cologne and the Electorate of Mainz, among which Mainz ranked first.

Holy Roman Empire Complex of territories in Europe from 962 to 1806

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also included the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia and Kingdom of Italy, plus numerous other territories, and soon after the Kingdom of Burgundy was added. Its size gradually diminished over time, particularly from 1648 onward, and by the time of its dissolution, it largely contained only German-speaking territories, plus the Kingdom of Bohemia which was bordered by the German lands on three sides.

Contents

Background

The 1734 campaign season in the Rhine valley theater of the War of the Polish Succession closed with France controlling the west bank of the Rhine River as far north as Mainz, and the forces of the Habsburgs in strong defensive positions on the east bank. In November 1734 the belligerents had begun diplomatic overtures at peace, mediated by the neutral British and Dutch to bring an end to the conflict. Despite these talks, hostilities resumed in 1735, principally in northern Italy, where Spain, allied to France, harboured further territorial ambitions. In the Rhine valley, French troops under the command of Marshal Coigny moved from winter quarters to more aggressive stances along the Rhine during the spring and summer, but were unwilling to test the Habsburg defences, which were under the overall command of the aging Prince Eugene of Savoy.

War of the Polish Succession war in Europe 1734–1738

The War of the Polish Succession (1733–35) was a major European war sparked by a Polish civil war over the succession to Augustus II, which the other European powers widened in pursuit of their own national interests. France and Spain, the two Bourbon powers, attempted to check the power of the Austrian Habsburgs in western Europe, as did the Kingdom of Prussia, whilst Saxony and Russia mobilized to support the eventual Polish victor. The slight amount of fighting in Poland resulted in the accession of Augustus III, who in addition to Russia and Saxony, was politically supported by the Habsburgs.

France Republic in Europe with several non-European regions

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 67.02 million. France 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.

Mainz Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Mainz is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The city is located on the Rhine river at its confluence with the Main river, opposite Wiesbaden on the border with Hesse. Mainz is an independent city with a population of 217,118 (2018) and forms part of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region.

The Germans were reinforced in August 1735 by more than 10,000 Russian troops led by Peter Lascy, the first time Russian troops reached the Rhine. Eugene was summoned to Vienna in September to participate in peace talks, leaving command of the German troops with the Duke of Württemberg. Reichsgraf Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff, in command of the German right at Mainz, received permission from Württemberg to move against the French left in an attempt to push them back toward Trier and gain territory between the Maas and Moselle Rivers.

Russian Empire former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

Vienna Capital of Austria

Vienna is the national capital, largest city, and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union.

Charles Alexander, Duke of Württemberg Duke of Württemberg

Charles Alexander of Württemberg was a Württemberg noble from 1698 who governed the Kingdom of Serbia as regent from 1720 until 1733, when he assumed the position of Duke of Württemberg, which he held until his death.

Prelude

On 20 September Seckendorff's chosen forces began crossing the Rhine, moving toward the Moselle. He commanded a total of 41 battalions with an effective strength of about 35,000 men. On the same day, Marshal Belle-Isle, commanding the French left, coincidentally left Kaiserslautern with a sizable detachment that was to be stationed at Trier to forage for provisions. Arriving there on the 27th, Belle-Isle left it under the command of the Comte de Béthune. Upon his return to French headquarters at Bad Dürkheim on the 29th, he learned of Seckendorff's movement. He ordered 12 battalions from the reserve stationed there toward Trier, with an additional nine to follow from the main army at Oggersheim. On 6 October the reserves reached Trier, with the nine arriving the next day. These raised the French force at Trier to 29 battalions of infantry with 66 cavalry squadrons, although the force was hampered somewhat by a shortage of provisions. Belle-Isle immediately began moving troops forward, adopting a defensive line along the Ruwer south of the Moselle. He also sent a detachment under the Marquis de Mouchy northeast toward Lieser on reconnaissance, and on the 10th sent another 1,000 men under Lutteaux to reinforce Mouchy.

Charles Louis Auguste Fouquet, duc de Belle-Isle Marshal of France

Charles Louis Auguste Fouquet, duc de Belle-Isle was a French general and statesman.

Kaiserslautern Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Kaiserslautern is a city in southwest Germany, located in the Bundesland (State) of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) at the edge of the Palatinate Forest (Pfälzerwald). The historic centre dates to the 9th century. It is 459 kilometres from Paris, 117 km from Frankfurt am Main, and 159 km from Luxembourg.

Bad Dürkheim Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Bad Dürkheim is a spa town in the Rhine-Neckar urban agglomeration, and is the seat of the Bad Dürkheim district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Marshal Coigny Guerin - Francois de Franquetot de Coigny (1670-1759) - MV 1083.jpg
Marshal Coigny

Seckendorff reached Stromberg on the 5th, and was marching for Simmern the next day when an advance company of Hungarian cavalry encountered a detachment of French dragoons near Kirchberg. The Germans sent more troops forward, and after a brief skirmish, captured most of the French force. By the 8th the Germans had occupied Trarbach, which they intended as the site of a supply depot. While waiting for supplies, Seckendorff investigated the French position at Liesern, interpreting it as French intent to dispute potential crossings of the Moselle at that point. He ordered troops on his left to advance further west, reaching as far as Gräfendhron and threatening to cut off Mouchy's supply and communications, while the main body advanced toward Monzelfeld, southeast of Liesern. Seckendorff then took a detachment on 15 October to determine if Klausen (west of Trarbach on the north side of the Moselle) was occupied by the French. Finding it unoccupied, he left a company of 40 hussars at the abbey. The next day a French detachment (25 companies of infantry and 800 cavalry) assaulted the abbey, and chose to retreat when German reinforcements from Wittlich arrived. Seckendorff then ordered Baron Stein's entire brigade, including 300 recently arrived Illyrian troops, to Klausen. Delays in the forwarding of provisions from supply depots on the Rhine then forced Seckendorff to halt his advance. However, his advance was sufficient to prompt Mouchy's retreat from Liesern, and Seckendorff was then able to establish a pontoon bridge there.

Stromberg (Hunsrück) Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Stromberg is a town in the district of Bad Kreuznach, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is situated on the eastern edge of the Hunsrück, approximately 10 km west of Bingen.

Simmern Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Simmern is a town of roughly 7,600 inhabitants (2013) in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, the district seat of the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis, and the seat of the like-named Verbandsgemeinde. In the Rhineland-Palatinate state development plan, it is set out as a middle centre.

Kirchberg, Rhein-Hunsrück Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Kirchberg, the Stadt auf dem Berg, called Kerbrich in Moselle Franconian, is a town in the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis (district) in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is the seat of the like-named Verbandsgemeinde, to which it also belongs.

On 11 October Marshal Coigny decided that he should come to Belle-Isle's support. Leaving his headquarters on the Rhine, he began moving larger parts of his army toward Kaiserslautern and Trier. Advance units of this movement began reaching Trier on the 17th, and Belle-Isle decided to move forward. On 19 October he crossed the Moselle just below Trier and camped on the north bank of the Moselle. Seckendorff, whose army had begun crossing at Liesern on the 18th, was informed of this movement. Although he had planned to establish a camp at Osann, this news prompted him to change his plans. Late on 19 October he issued orders that the infantry of Georg of Hessen, and his left wing's cavalry, should cross the Moselle at 4:00 am and march to Klausen. These troops, crossing at Liesern and Bernkastel, were expected to arrive in Klausen around noon.

Osann-Monzel Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Osann-Monzel is an Ortsgemeinde – a municipality belonging to a Verbandsgemeinde, a kind of collective municipality – and a winegrowing centre in the Bernkastel-Wittlich district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Battle

Marshal Coigny ordered his troops out early on 20 October. The troops marched north to Hetzerath, where they turned east and marched through a narrow defile to reach the Salm between Esch and Rivenich, just west of Klausen. Their approach was observed by Seckendorff, who had also risen early and rode west on reconnaissance. As the French forces came out of the defile and into the river valley, Coigny directed his left, 36 companies of grenadiers under Phelippes upstream toward Esch. It was followed by Belle-Isle's troops, 33 infantry battalions and 68 cavalry squadrons, then 17 infantry battalions and 40 cavalry squadrons from Coigny's Rhine army, which bore off to the right to take the heights above Rivenich.

Reichsgraf Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff.jpeg
Reichsgraf Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff

Seckendorff had ordered some of his Hungarian cavalry to engage the French vanguard when he first spotted them. This they did around 11:00 am, but were driven back. As it became clear that the bulk of the French army was coming, he sent 10 companies of grenadiers to hold the bridge at Rivenich, also sending 20 cavalry squadrons from the right to support the left. As these movements were taking place, the support infantry began to arrive on the heights above Klausen.

Around 2:00 pm the French columns arrived on the heights above Esch and Rivenich. Coigny ordered Brigadier Rieux, commanding the right, to secure the bridge at Rivenich, and ordered Phelippes, on his left, to secure Esch. The outnumbered imperial forces holding the bridge at Rivenich gave way, and the French gained control of the bridge but did not immediately begin crossing in force. Seckendorff ordered 5 companies of grenadiers to reinforce those already on his left. The French troops moving toward Esch were slowed by difficult terrain. Seckendorff deployed two cannon to the south of Esch, further complicating the French advance on that front. With most of his forces arrived by 4:00 pm, Seckendorff decided to retake the bridge at Rivenich, while the two army centers engaged in an artillery battle across the Salm.

For the taking of the crossing, Seckendorff sent 6 more grenadier companies, 3 battalions of Danish infantry, 1 Pomeranian battalion, and some Hungarian cavalry down toward Rivenich. Coigny, observing that his right would be outnumbered by this force, withdrew his troops from the bridge and abandoned Rivenich. Seckendorff seized the momentum, and sent his force across the river to attack Coigny's flank, while also sending several companies of cavalry across the river near Esch to attack the French left. The French infantry fired volleys of musket fire against the oncoming cavalry, and then began to fall back toward the center. It soon became dark, and the combatants disengaged.

Aftermath

The imperial infantry suffered 22 killed and 76 wounded, while its cavalry lost 23 men and 40 horses killed, with 17 each wounded, as well as 3 men and 7 horses missing. The French lost 200 men killed or wounded.

Marshal Coigny, after inspecting Seckendorff's position, decided that it was too strong to assault, and retreated the next day to Hetzerath. Seckendorff sent Baron Diemar with the Hungarian and German cavalry to harry the French rear. French discipline, however, was tight, and the imperials garnered only a few supply wagons and horses. Coigny was prompted to retreat further by reports of a movement against his left flank near Föhren; this was only an imperial supply caravan bringing provisions to Seckendorff from Luxembourg. A significant shortage of provisions forced Coigny to divide his troops on either side of the Moselle, a risky move with his enemy close by. Seckendorff's manoeuvres did not capitalise on this, but Coigny had, except for a few pockets, completely withdrawn from the north side of the Moselle by 28 October. On 31 October Coigny learned that a cease fire had been negotiated as part of the ongoing peace talks; this news was delivered to Seckendorff on 12 November.

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References

Coordinates: 49°53′17.99″N6°50′52.39″E / 49.8883306°N 6.8478861°E / 49.8883306; 6.8478861 (Battle of Clausen)