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|Battle of Rain or Battle of Lech|
Battle of the River Lech
|Part of the Thirty Years' War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Gustavus Adolphus|| Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly (DOW) |
Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria
Johann Philipp Cratz von Scharffenstein
|Casualties and losses|
|2,000 dead||3,000 dead|
The Battle of Rain (also called the Battle of the River Lech or Battle of Lech) was fought on 15 April 1632 as part of the Thirty Years' War.
The Thirty Years' War was a war fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. One of the most destructive conflicts in human history, it resulted in eight million fatalities not only from military engagements but also from violence, famine, and plague. Casualties were overwhelmingly and disproportionately inhabitants of the Holy Roman Empire, most of the rest being battle deaths from various foreign armies. In terms of proportional German casualties and destruction, it was surpassed only by the period January to May 1945; one of its enduring results was 19th-century Pan-Germanism, when it served as an example of the dangers of a divided Germany and became a key justification for the 1871 creation of the German Empire.
The forces involved in this conflict were 40,000 Swedish troops under Gustavus Adolphus and 25,000 Catholic League troops under Johan Tserclaes, Count of Tilly. It was the second meeting between the two legendary generals (see First Breitenfeld when Tilly received the first setback of his long and storied career) and like at Breitenfeld, Tilly lost when Gustavus forced the river Lech under the cover of his superb artillery.
Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.4 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.
Gustavus Adolphus, also known in English as Gustav II Adolf or Gustav II Adolph, was the King of Sweden from 1611 to 1632 who is credited for the founding of Sweden as a great power. He led Sweden to military supremacy during the Thirty Years' War, helping to determine the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. He was formally and posthumously given the name Gustavus Adolphus the Great by the Riksdag of the Estates in 1634.
The Catholic League was a coalition of Catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire formed 10 July 1609. While initially formed as a confederation to act politically to negotiate issues vis-à-vis the Protestant Union, modelled on the more intransigent ultra-Catholic French Catholic League (1576), it was subsequently concluded as a military alliance "for the defence of the Catholic religion and peace within the Empire".
Gustavus had a bridge of boats constructed across the Lech near the city of Rain through the night prior to the battle, and in the morning sent three hundred Finnish Hackapelite troops across the river under fire. The Hackapelites dug earthworks for batteries which then protected the rest of Gustavus' army as they crossed the river.
The Lech is a river in Austria and Germany. It is a right tributary of the Danube 255 kilometres (158 mi) in length with a drainage basin of 3,919 square kilometres (1,513 sq mi). Its source is located in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, where the river rises from lake Formarinsee in the Alps at an altitude of 1,870 metres (6,120 ft). It flows in a north-north-easterly direction and crosses the German border, forming the Lechfall, a 12-metre-high (39 ft) waterfall; afterwards the river enters a narrow gorge. Leaving the Alps, it enters the plains of the Allgäu at Füssen at an elevation of 790 metres (2,580 ft) in the German state of Bavaria, where it used to be the location of the boundary with Swabia. The river runs through the city of Füssen and through the Forggensee, a man-made lake which is drained in winter. Here, it forms rapids and a waterfall.
As soon as his army had crossed the river, Gustavus immediately and successfully stormed the hill. Tilly was shot in the leg early in the battle and was moved to the rear; his second in command, Johann von Aldringen, was knocked unconscious with a skull fracture minutes later. Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, ordered an immediate retreat to save the now leaderless army, leaving most of the Catholic League's baggage and artillery in the field. The army itself may only have escaped destruction due to a storm and high winds blocking roads in the night that followed.
Johann Reichsgraf von Aldringen was an Austrian soldier active before and during the Thirty Years' War. He was born in Luxembourg City in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and after travelling as a nobleman's page in France, Italy and the Netherlands, he went to the University of Paris.
Maximilian I, occasionally called "the Great", a member of the House of Wittelsbach, ruled as Duke of Bavaria from 1597. His reign was marked by the Thirty Years' War during which he obtained the title of a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire at the 1623 Diet of Regensburg.
The immediate result of the battle was that Bavaria lay open for occupation by the Swedish army, enabling Gustavus Adolphus to temporarily threaten the Austrian heartland.
Bavaria, officially the Free State of Bavaria, is a landlocked federal state of Germany, occupying its southeastern corner. With an area of 70,550.19 square kilometres, Bavaria is the largest German state by land area. Its territory comprises roughly a fifth of the total land area of Germany. With 13 million inhabitants, it is Germany's second-most-populous state after North Rhine-Westphalia. Bavaria's main cities are Munich and Nuremberg.
Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.
The death of Tilly also led to the recall of Albrecht von Wallenstein into Imperial service. He would raise a new army and challenge the Swedes at Nürnberg in August.
Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein, also von Waldstein, was a Bohemian military leader and nobleman who gained prominence during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), in the Catholic side. His outstanding martial career made him one of the most influential men in the Holy Roman Empire by the time of his death. Wallenstein became the supreme commander of the armies of the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and was a major figure of the Thirty Years' War.
The Battle of the Alte Veste was a significant battle of the Thirty Years' War.
The battle is, however, more interesting from a tactical point of view rather than from its outcome, as the elaborate plan of Gustavus Adolphus to catch the entire Imperial army by complex maneuvering was prevented when Tilly was mortally wounded in the battle, resulting in the early retreat of the Imperial army. The Swedish battle plan consisted of two major elements:
1. A strong feint attack by a portion of the Swedish infantry with heavy artillery support against Tilly's strongly fortified center behind the Lech. The intended effect was to attract the full attention of the Imperial army and its reserve. The Swedish force succeeded in establishing and fortifying its position on a small island or peninsula close to the Imperial side of the river. From this position, it was able to repel a series of fierce Imperial counterattacks despite being outnumbered.
2. As the Imperial army got tied up in desperate attempts to eliminate the Swedish bridgehead, the Swedish cavalry with no opposition or attention from the enemy was able to cross the river 10 km south of the Imperial left wing. From this position they intended to outflank the entire Imperial army and thus catch it in a position with the river and the Swedish infantry at its front and the Swedish cavalry in its rear and on its flanks.
With Tilly mortally wounded, the morale of the Imperial army quickly dissolved and the army withdrew before the arrival of the Swedish cavalry. Thus, Tilly's death possibly saved his army from annihilation. Nonetheless, both armies suffered considerable losses (3,000 on the Imperial side, 2,000 on the Swedish), mostly due to frontal attacks and counterattacks against fortified positions with strong natural defenses.
The battle of Lech proves more than the Battle of Breitenfeld the innovation of Gustavus Adolphus' tactical imagination. His daring frontal attack in combination with the deployment of a large part of his army for the flanking movement has similarities with the tactics of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough at the Blenheim battlefield, (situated in the very neighborhood of Rain) or of Frederick the Great at Leuthen. The disciple of Gustavus Adolphus, Johan Banér, also employed a similar battle plan four years later in the battle of Wittstock.
The Battle of Lützen was one of the most important battles of the Thirty Years' War.
The Battle of Nördlingen was fought in 1634 during the Thirty Years' War, on 27 August or 6 September. The Roman Catholic Imperial army, bolstered by 15,000 Spanish soldiers, won a crushing victory over the combined Protestant armies of Sweden and their German-Protestant allies.
Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly was a field marshal who commanded the Catholic League's forces in the Thirty Years' War. From 1620–31, he had an unmatched and demoralizing string of important victories against the Protestants, including White Mountain, Wimpfen, Höchst, Stadtlohn and the Conquest of the Palatinate. He destroyed a Danish army at Lutter and sacked the Protestant city of Magdeburg, which caused the death of some 20,000 of the cities inhabitants, both defenders and non-combatants, out of a total population of 25,000. Tilly was then crushed at Breitenfeld in 1631 by the Swedish army of King Gustavus Adolphus. A Swedish cannonball took his life at Rain. Along with Duke Albrecht von Wallenstein of Friedland and Mecklenburg, he was one of two chief commanders of the Holy Roman Empire’s forces in the first half of the war.
The Battle of Breitenfeld or First Battle of Breitenfeld, was fought at a crossroads near Breitenfeld approximately 8 km north-west of the walled city of Leipzig on September 17, or September 7, 1631. It was the Protestants’ first major victory of the Thirty Years War.
The Second Battle of Breitenfeld, also known as the First Battle of Leipzig, took place on 23 October 1642 at Breitenfeld, some 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) north-east of Leipzig, Germany, during the Thirty Years' War. The battle was a decisive victory for the Swedish army under the command of Field Marshal Lennart Torstenson over an Imperial Army of the Holy Roman Empire under the command of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria and his deputy, Prince-General Ottavio Piccolomini, Duke of Amalfi.
Hakkapeliitta is a historiographical term used for a Finnish light cavalryman in the service of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years' War. Hakkapeliitta is a 19th-century Finnish modification of a contemporary name given by foreigners in the Holy Roman Empire and variously spelled as Hackapelit, Hackapelite, Hackapell, Haccapelit, or Haccapelite. These terms were based on a Finnish battle cry hakkaa päälle, commonly translated as "Cut them down!"
Torsten Stålhandske – Swedish for "Torsten Steelglove", sometimes written "Stålhansch" in the Swedish of the times, and referred to in German literature as Torsten Staalhansch, was a Finnish officer in the Swedish army during the Thirty Years' War.
The Second Battle of Mohács, also known as the Battle of Harsány Mountain, was fought on 12 August 1687 between the forces of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV, commanded by the Grand-Vizier Sari Süleyman Paşa, and the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, commanded by Charles of Lorraine. The result was a crushing defeat for the Ottomans.
Rain is a town in the Donau-Ries district, in Bavaria, Germany. It is situated on the river Lech, close to its confluence with the Danube, 11 km east of Donauwörth.
The Polish–Swedish War of 1626–1629 was the fourth stage in a series of conflicts between Sweden and Poland fought in the 17th century. It began in 1626 and ended four years later with the Truce of Altmark and later at Stuhmsdorf with the Treaty of Stuhmsdorf.
Lennart Torstensson, Count of Ortala, Baron of Virestad, was a Swedish Field Marshal and military engineer.
The Battle of Dirschau took place in the summer of 1627 and was one of the battles of the Polish–Swedish War (1626–29). The Polish forces led by Crown Field Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski met with troops commanded by Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. Gustavus Adolphus was wounded in the battle, which ended inconclusively. Fighting in Prussia ended in a stalemate for that year, and would not resume until 1628.
From 1611 to 1721, Sweden was a European great power, becoming a dominant faction in the quest for control of the Baltic Sea and a formidable military power. During this period, known as Stormaktstiden, the Swedish Empire held a territory more than twice the size of its modern borders and one of the most successful military forces at the time, proving itself on numerous occasions on battlefields such as Wallhof, Narva and Düna. The military of the Swedish empire is commonly recognized only as the Caroleans, which were in fact not in service until the late 17th century under Karl XI and his successor. The Swedish Empire and its modern military force was founded by Gustavus Adolphus, who inherited the throne in 1611 at age 17. He immediately reformed the common European military based on mercenaries to a professional national army. However, before completing his vision of conquering the Holy Roman Empire, the warrior king was killed in action in 1632. His daughter and successor did little to improve Sweden's military position and abdicated early, providing the Swedish Empire with a more warlike ruler. Karl X Gustav was only king for 5 years, but conquered large amounts of territory that still belong to Sweden today. His son Karl XI would further strengthen the army by introducing the Caroleans, which were also used by Karl XII in the Great Northern War.
Events from the year 1631 in Sweden
Events from the year 1632 in Sweden
Johann Philipp Kratz von Scharffenstein was a German nobleman and field marshal, who fought during the course of the Thirty Years' War. He served with distinction in forces of both the Catholic League and Holy Roman Empire. His poor relationship with the Imperial generalissimo Albrecht von Wallenstein frustrated his plan of becoming the supreme commander of the League's forces. Embittered by this he defected to Sweden, where he attained the rank of field marshal. He was captured at the Battle of Nördlingen (1634) and executed for treason a year later.
The Blue Regiment or the Blue Brigade was an infantry regiment in the service of Gustav II Adolph during his campaigns in Germany in the Thirty Year's War. A large portion of the regiment was made up of German mercenaries, who were a common phenomenon on both sides. The regiment's name is derived from the blue colored uniforms worn by the soldiers.
2. Friedrich Schiller 2012  History of the Thirty Years' War in Germany (Kessinger: Whitefish Monanta) pp. 239–242