SHAT - A4, 27, pièce 58.
Translated from French by Richard Couture.
Relation of what happened at the corps of Mr. the duc de Broglie on July 21st, 22nd and 23rd
On July 21, the Duc de Broglie's Corps moved to the Erberg. As he had noticed that the enemies were retiring whenever he advanced and that they lifted camp whenever they saw the Nassau Volunteers, he ordered M. Esbourmessec, their colonel, to move no closer than two lieues from Frizbergs, to send only patrols forward to know if they would remain in their camp, and to inform him in the evening if they had not lifted camp. These patrols were ordered, if they were found, to retire hastily to make the enemies believe that they were unsupported and to avoid worrying them.
The design of the Duc de Broglie was, if possible, to inspire confidence to the Prince of Isemburg to induce him to stay somewhere and this way to put him in reach of a forced march.
To be in condition to undertake this march, the Duc de Broglie advanced his artillery in front of Inbexque, in the village of Karhenhausen where grenadiers and dragoons were already positioned. He ordered to pick 200 men per battalion to form seven battalions of 400 men each to act as vanguard and march swiftly if there were any chance of contacting the enemy.
On July 21 at 10:00 P.M., M. Wournesen send M. de Sermone, an engineer, to inform the Duc de Broglie that enemies were still in their camp at nightfall and that there were no moves indicating that they intended to leave during the night.
At this news, the Duc de Broglie ordered that the seven picked battalions and all the cavalry started to march at midnight, and that the remaining infantry followed up as quickly as it could. In the mean time, he ordered dragoons, grenadiers and Nassau Volunteers to move on Frize, where he arrived personally at daybreak. The enemies had left the place the previous day at 11:00 P.M. and had passed through Cassel.
The Duc de Broglie camped at Horlle, between Frize and Cassel, at four lieues from here.
The deputies of Cassel and of all the country having assured the Duc de Broglie that the enemies should march towards Minden the following day (July 23), he estimated that it was now impossible to catch them, he considered resting his troops who were harassed by ten days of continual marches on awful roads. He disposed the cantonments accordingly and ordered the regiments to part at the village of Oberzuvern, at one lieue from Cassel, and to go each to its assigned cantonment. He then left at 7:00 A.M. from Oberzuvern with the Corps under his command. He discovered the camp of the enemy at about one lieue from Cassel on the road to Minden.
Even though he was convinced that the Prince of Isemburg would lift camp as soon as he would see him coming, he thought that it would not be cautious to send troops to cantonments before being sure that he would have crossed the Vera. In this case, Isemburg waited too long to make his retreat, so he took arrangements to attack his rearguard.
For this, he sent the guards, who were supposed to assume the police and security duties in the place, to take possession of Cassel. He advanced the grenadiers and volunteers of the infantry up to the city gates with interdiction to enter. He instructed them to leave their baggage, to feed their horses and to wait for his orders. In the mean time, he requested infantry and artillery to arrive as soon as possible. He himself went to Cassel where he could perfectly see the enemy camp from the house that he occupied and he could observe their movements and orchestrate his own accordingly.
At 11:00 A.M., they started to lift their camp, the camp of their cavalry after that of their infantry, of which they advanced a battalion near the suburb of Cassel to support the retreat of their jägers who occupied the village of Betenhausen, who was only a musket shot away.
This induced the Duc de Broglie the send the infantry volunteers and the grenadiers to occupy the suburb with interdiction to go further. At 12:00 A.M., the infantry being in musket range, he immediately sent it through the town and simultaneously sent orders to the Nassau Volunteers, the dragoons and the cavalry to ford the river and to advance towards the village of Betenhausen, leaving it to their left in order to join with the infantry beyond the village.
When he was close enough, he sent the infantry volunteers and the grenadiers out of the suburb and the whole force united between Betenhausen and Sanderhausen.
During our march, the enemies had marched by their right to reach the highway to Minden where they should retreat. The Duc de Broglie, approaching as close as he could from the village of Sanderhausen, climbed the height and was quite surprised to see the enemies on battle order, their right anchored to a steep slope of the Fulda and their left to a wood on a ridge. The position was good, so good that it was a serious matter requiring wise and measured dispositions. Besides the guards, he had left in Cassel two battalions of the Royal-Deux-Pont Regiment to hold the town. Another battalion of the same regiment had also been left at Sanderhausen to guard the defiles in case of events.
These three battalions left behind and the 800 guards in Cassel were reducing the strength of our Corps by 2.500 men so that we were about of the same strength as the enemies who were said to be 7.000 men including a 600 men strong cavalry regiment and an 800 men strong dragoon regiment.
The terrain was narrow, the Duc de Broglie put his infantry in the first line and his cavalry and his dragoons in the second. He anchored his right to a wood and reinforced it with three grenadier companies of the Royal-Deux-Pont Regiment. He had advanced his right more than his left, designing to attack the infantry that the enemies had left in the wood and, turning them on their left, to tumble them on the steep slope and into the river if the attack succeeded.
His dispositions finished, he placed the ten guns of the two artillery brigades in front of his right to shoot at the Hessian cavalry resting against the wood. This caused the cavalry to advance to charge our infantry. Then the Duc de Broglie doubled the Diesbach Regiment behind the Walderner Regiment and the Royal-Bavière Regiment in front of a battalion of the Royal-Deux-Pont Regiment and advanced the Wurtemberg, Royal-Allemand and Nassau cavalry regiments under M. Rograve through this gap. When the enemy cavalry saw them moving forward of our infantry, it moved to its right like if it was going for our left.
The Duc de Broglie promptly ran to the Rograve who advanced infantry through a gap, with the Apcher Regiment to the left of this infantry. This stopped the Hessian cavalry and while it was uncertain of the stance to adopt, Royal-Allemand and Nassau regiments charged but were broken and hotly pursued by the enemies. We feared for a moment that this would shake the infantry who was now without cavalry, but Royal-Bavière fired such a furious volley on the enemy cavalry who was advancing on it that it killed many of them and mauled them so badly that they did not dare to show up anymore.
Meanwhile, M. Valdener, maréchal de camp, with M. Diesbach, colonel of the Swiss Brigade, and the three grenadier companies of the Royal-Deux-Pont Regiment attacked the woods where they met resistance but they held fast with much valour. The infantry of the right and centre of the enemies was now quickly marching on our left where the Rohan and Bauvoisis brigades formed our left. These brigades suffered shots fired with the utmost courage and answered similarly. They even repulsed the enemies who moved back a few hundred paces, but they came back even stronger covering themselves with the steep slope. They had a big advantage on us who were standing in the open, so that our left was forced to move bak and the enemies extended their line along the steep slope trying to reach our rear. To oppose this, the Duc de Broglie advanced a few squadrons of the Apchon Regiment and, being them, our cavalry who had rallied. Rapid fire was continuing, Bauvoisis was crushed, Rohan was losing much.
The Duc de Broglie decided to move forward the two battalions of Royal Bavière, those of Deux-Pont and those of Rohan and Bauvoisis. Since we had no more powder, he made tham mach with the bayonet. This succeeded perfectly, the enemies fled and we followed them up to a big ravine where we stopped. They threw themselves into the wood along the river and into a steep slope, and 3 to 400 men threw themselves into the river where most of them perished.
It was 7:00 P.M., the weather was very bad, the country very wooded and the infantry had marched seven lieues. The Duc de Broglie preferred to stop and to send the Baron de Travers with 700 volunteers to follow them up. He conducted them towards Minden, they will likely capture many prisoners. Some have already been brought back, including an aide-de-camp of the Prince of Isemburg. We also took six guns.
It is not yet possible to give the exact detail of our losses which are quite great. The fight has lasted from 3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. and has been extraordinarily intense. The Comte de Rosen, who behaved with much valour, has been wounded by a powerful sabre blow. The Marquis de Puységur has received a shot in the head after having made wonders throughout the action. The Marquis de Broglie, nephew of our general, has received a shot in the thigh. He had a horse wounded as did M. de la Rivière, aide-de-camp, and his (unreadable) who has been scratched on a cheek by a pistol shot. The Prince de Nassau has also been wounded by a shot. M. de Sabartin lieutenant-colonel of Rohan and M. de Roussel major of Beauvoisis have been killed. Here is all what I can say in the first moment, infantry has made wonders as well as Apcher Regiment who has lost many men, whose colonel has distinguished himself.
The artillery too had served usefully with his customary courage, In a word, one cannot too much praise the ardour and the courage that our troops showed to attack the enemy after a march of seven lieues and in a most disadvantageous position. One could not say too much good of M. de Waldemer, of M. de Raugrave, of the Prince de Rohan, of Diesbach, of the Prince of Hollestein, of the Comte d’Elsenberg, of the colonel of the Royal-Bavière Regiment and of the Baron Deltozen, colonel of the Royal-Deux-Pont Regiment, as well as of MM. de Chaulieu, de Nirbend and Bresac, aides maréchaux des logis, of the Chevalier Cluny, aide major général, of the son of M. de Monterval and of M. de Combarail, aides de camp of the Prince de Soubise who had sent them to the Duc de Broglie on the previous day and who took part to the affair.
The Marquis de Broglie and d'Antichar, nephew of our general, and M. de Beville and M. de la Rosière, his aides camp have also given proof of the greatest... (the relation stops here)
On July 25.
Yesterday, the Nassau Volunteers have advanced upon Minden and have entered the town almost at the same moment when the Prince of Isemburg. They almost caught him and have even captured some of his horses and found eight guns abandoned by the enemies after breaking down their carriages. This way, of the 16 guns that the enemies had at the battle, we have 15 in our hands. Furthermore, our hussars have captured several prisoners among which a few officers who had been wounded on the battlefield. A quite considerable number of which we don't have the state yet.
Our patrols have followed up to Göttingen, at 10 lieues from here. This morning, M. de Wurmser has informed the Duc de Broglie that they have passed in very small number and in total disorder. The greatest part has thrown away uniforms and weapons, and made for home through the woods, so that we can consider this corps as dispersed and unable to render any service.
The Duc de Broglie has sent the troops who took part to the affair to their cantonments and has sent to Cassel all the wounded who had remained on the battlefield, French or other. Our losses are quite considerable. They amount to almost 2.000 men killed or wounded among which around 120 officers.
Those of the enemies should not be lighter, since, at the last volley, 3 to 400 men threw themselves into the Fulda where they drowned.
We have made about 50 officers prisoners, among which the Comte de Canilse who commanded under the Prince of Isemburg, the first aide-de-camp of this Prince: Lensewitz, lieutenant-colonel and major, and 2 to 300 soldiers.