SHAT, archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23
Translated from the French by Richard Couture.
of the 1757 campaign
The Maréchal detached MM. de Souvré and de Chevert on July 1 to march to Lemgoss and Hervorden with particular instructions.
The Duc d’Orléans left at night with 23 battalions and 22 squadrons to support the advanced corps.
M. d’Armentières' Reserve moved to its right while M. de Broglie's Reserve remained in its position. An officer dispatched by M. Dauvet, maréchal de camp, arrived from Westfrise. M. Dauvet had been sent to Westfrise with a detachment of 1.000 men. The officer was bringing the news of the capture of Emden. On July 2, M. Dauvet had sent M. de Lillebonne, M. de La Chatre et M. de Sey to reconnoitre this town from different directions.
During this reconnaissance, M. Dauvet was taking his dispositions to assault the town. On July 3 at 7:00 A.M., M. de Lillebonne was informed that 70 deserters were at one of his outposts and that disorder reigned in the town. He took advantage of these circumstances to summon the commander of the place to surrender. The officer sent with this summon found the inhabitants willing to surrender. After a temporary capitulation, he took possession of the posts and M. Dauvet entered into Emden an hour later. The garrison was captured and hostages were given to guarantee the terms of capitulation. M. Dauvet completely fulfilled his mission.
The last news about the enemy were that they were still encamped with their right at Minden.
The Maréchal left Bielefeld on July 7 and was at Brakel on July 8 to supervise the building of bridges on the Weser. Meanwhile he had left the command of his army to M. de Bercheny. M. d’Armentières, who was at Erken with his Reserve, advanced with 25 grenadier companies and 400 carabiniers on the Heights of Beverougen in the evening of July 7. He wanted to reconnoitre the site where he planned to build a bridge between the villages of Beverougen and Blanquenau.
There were a Hanoverian force of 200 infantrymen and 400 cavalrymen in the village of Lymfarde, on the other bank of the Weser, opposite Berveraugen. They retired as soon as M. d'Armentières took his dispositions to occupy Beveraugen by a party of grenadiers and hussars. M. d'Armentières then advanced at the night with the rest of his detachment to Blankenau where he slept. On July 8 between 4:00 and 5:00 A.M., he established his bridge unopposed.
The same day at noon, he crossed the Weser with 15 grenadier companies to clear the countryside on the opposite bank and he then advanced up to Baffshem. On his way, he sent troops to occupy the Fostemberg Castle which the enemy had abandoned so rapidly that 200 haversacks had been left behind.
From Baffsem, M. d'Armentières detached M. d'Emery and M. Baudoin, aides maréchaux généraux des logis, with 300 volunteers to reconnoitre the east bank of the Weser up to Beveren and Vortz. They met only a few parties of chasseurs who retired in the woods.
The enemies were still holding their positions at Minden.
M. d’Armentieres came back to Fostemberg with his Reserve and encamped there. The Maréchal awaited there the Corps of M. de Souvré and M. de Chevert and part of the Duc d’Orléans's Corps. The rest of his army arrived on July 13. He established two pontoon bridges at Tonnembourg.
According to the advices that he had received, the Maréchal suspended the advance of the Duc d’Orléans who was heading for Hessia with 28 battalions and 32 squadrons. The Prince remained with the army and the Maréchal sent M. de Contades to Cassel with four infantry brigades and 20 squadrons.
M. de Pereuse, maréchal de camp, who had advanced on Munden with a cavalry brigade, sent a courier to the Maréchal on July 12 to inform him of the capture of Munden. The garrison, consisting of 300 Hanoverians, was captured.
From Parbourg, M. de Contades informed that he met the Grand Ecuyer du Landgrave who assured him of the submission of the country and of the willingness of this Prince to supply the French army with all the help that his country could afford.
M de Contades received hostages to guarantee the agreement and French troops marched to occupy Cassel.
All dispositions being made to cross the Weser, the army encamped at Corvay left in six columns on July 16. The infantry crossed this river on three bridges and the cavalry forded it. The Maréchal established his headquarters in Holtzmunden and he sent a detachment of 800 infantrymen to chase enemy parties from the forest of Solingen. M. de Chevreuse also left with a detachment in the morning, advancing towards Olimdorff and reconnoitring the movements of the enemy near the defile of Vinkensen.
On July 18, the French generals learned that the town of Gottingen had submitted to their troops. M de Pereuse, maréchal de camp, had left Munden for this expedition with an infantry brigade and a cavalry brigade. At the first summon, the commander of the place surrendered et the garrison of about 200 men was captured. Eight cast iron guns were found in the town along with eleven iron guns and a few ammunitions.
July 20 to 26
From July 20 to 26, several things happened in the auxiliary army of Wesphalia.
The army, leaving its camp at Holtzmunden, moved to Olindorff. It covered its advance with a detachment of 88 grenadier companies and of all its dragoons under the Duc d’Orléans. The enemy, who still had a few troops in the defiles of Vinkensen, Enschereusen and Halle, retired and the French army encamped at Olindorff on July 20. It remained there on July 21 and left on July 22 to move on Halle.
M. de Maillebois with the Volontaires de Flandres, the Volontaires de Hainaut and Solar's grenadiers opened the march on July 21. On July 22, he reconnoitred the positions that the enemies were occupying in the Bergen and Fringheim villages. There was a light skirmish that ceased as soon as M. de Maillebois had finished his reconnaissance. The Maréchal, who arrived early on July 22, went personally with the princes on a height in the plain between these two villages and the one of Herven, where he had just established his headquarter. The Maréchal, after testing the Bergen and Fringheim villages with a few volunteers, did not see fit to attack them and retired. The enemy took advantage of this movement to advance a Cavalry Corps on the height which the French had just left. This induced the Maréchal to call la générale. The entire army, who was just arriving, quickly moved to the battlefield and immediately reconnoitred it. The enemies retired and the army returned to its camp. The enemy detachment was estimated at 3 to 6.000 men.
On July 23, it was decided that M. de Contades, at the head of 30 grenadier companies and three dragoon regiments, would advance on the village of Brukensense at nightfall. This village was just below Bergen that the enemy strongly occupied. This detachment was supported by M. d'Armentières' Reserve who would operate on Binghen, and by M. de Voguë, with 14 grenadier companies de grenadiers, the Volontaires de de Flandre and the Volontaires de Hainaut. M. de Voguë occupied the heights of Apseste, in the woods on the enemy's left, to reconnoitre and to harass the Hanoverians. The Maréchal started his movement at 2:00 A.M. to observe the effects of M de Contades' detachment. His army followed him and he arrived on the height at daybreak. The enemies had abandoned the villages of Fringhem and Bergen. They had retired to Ludfozde and held the heights and the woods bordering the Weser. The arriving cavalry was placed in front of the village. The infantry occupying the village retired and a few gun shots were fired by the French vanguard and by M. de Broglie's Reserve supporting the action from the left bank of the Weser. This cannonade induced the enemy to leave the heights. Meanwhile, M. de Voguë had seized a very good position on the heights on the enemy's left. He cannonaded them for a while. He informed the Maréchal that the enemies were being reinforced in front of his position and was ordered to retire. The army camped on the positions that it had just conquered with its left on the Weser, its right at the village of Bergen and the height in the center of the line. At 6:00 P.M., a war council was called to discuss of a possible attack. Since the approaches were very difficult, it was resolved to reconnoitre them and to chase the enemy away by a flanking manoeuvre.
During the night the Maréchal was informed that the enemy was retiring. Consequently, he took new dispositions and sent back M. de Voguë on the heights on July 23 at daybreak. He also reinforced him with an Infantry Brigade under M. de Chevert. At 6:00 A.M., M. de Maillebois was visiting the heights when an intense cannonade broke out. He estimated that a serious engagement could take place. He reported to the Maréchal that M. de Voguë had already advanced with M. d’Armentières' Reserve and had reached the reconnoitred approaches of the heights of Ozen. He had ordered his army to follow him up. It arrived successively on the heights. The Hanoverian army was already drawn up in battle lines in his camp. Its right was at Hameln and its left anchored on the woods and heights of Apserte. This part of the Hanoverian position was supported by batteries and a redoubt. The French army was assembled on the heights of Ozen, its left reaching the Weser. There was an impassable marsh in front of the French left. On the Hanoverian side, it was protected by a plateau where they had established guns. The village of Hastembeck was in the centre. The Hanoverian position prevented any frontal assault. The French considered to attack its left flank. M. de Randan's Reserve, just arrived from Embeck to Halle, was initially assigned to this task. However, the Maréchal finally assigned this operation to M. de Chevert with the brigades of Picardie, Navarre and La Marine to which was added the brigade d'Eu, initially under M. de Randan. The rest of the day was employed for various dispositions and both armies cannonaded till nightfall.
It was agreed that the attack of July 26 would begin with M. de Chevert and that the army would advance upon his signal. A considerable fog raised at daybreak and the armies could see each other only at 6:00 A.M. The Hanoverians then began a cannonade which was feebly answered while the French still awaited M. de Chevert's signal. Chevert reached his attack position only at 8:30 A.M. and the army then began its general advance. M. d'Armentières appeared on the right with the brigades of Belzunce, La Couronne and Alsace, supported by the Imperial Brigade and by dismounted dragoons. His objective was to attack the Hanoverian redoubt and batteries. The rest of the line advanced slowly and the sound of the attack conducted by M. de Chevert could be heard. M. d'Armentières had slightly modified the direction of his advance and was entangled in the woods. The situation was corrected by launching the brigades of Champagne and Reding against the redoubt. This movement was necessary because M. d’Armentières manoeuvre had mixed up the general battle order. The woods on the right became the focal point of the battlefield while the rest of the field belonged to the French artillery who made superior execution. The attacks on the right progressed. Picardie, Navarre and La Marine made gains against the enemy flank. The Champagne and Alsace brigades captured the redoubt and Reding covered the edge of the woods.
At this moment, the French commanders considered to attack on the left and M. de Guerchy with du Roy Regiment, the Grenadiers de France, Solar's grenadiers and other columns slowly advanced towards the village of Hastembeck. It was then discovered that the Hanoverians were moving troops from their left through the woods to support the woods. An intense fire-fight could be heard and, almost simultaneously, a few squadrons appeared in a gap on the right. As soon as the Maréchal was informed of this, he sent a Cavalry Brigade and an Infantry Brigade at this place. This movements and the disordered French infantry retreating from this part of the battlefield interrupted other attacks for an hour. The French cavalry restored the situation. Fire from the wood had ceased and dust clouds indicated that the enemy was retreating from those parts. The Maréchal then decided to support with cavalry the Grenadiers de France that M. de Guerchy had pushed through the village of Hastembeck. He sent the Carabiniers and the Royal Pologne Brigade.
The enemy continued his retreat to the heights of Hameln. The Maréchal sent troops to follow him up to the village of Affeste. But seeing that the enemy was retreating in good order and being master of the battlefield, he encamped his army and simply pushed a detachment to cover Hameln. The French captured nine guns, two howitzers and a few prisoners, among which a general-major and two officers. The losses of the Hanoverians were unknown but the French lost 1.500 men killed or wounded. The Marquis de Laval, aide maréchal général des logis, was killed while M. du Chatelet and M. Belsunce were wounded.
The difficult terrain did not allow the cavalry to charge.
The enemy continued his retreat towards Minden. The town of Hameln capitulated. A garrison of 700 irregulars was allowed to retire but 300 peasants and militias were taken prisoners along with all the sick and wounded left behind by the Hanoverians. The town also contained 60 Hanoverian guns.