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The Battle of Ölper is a battle that took place on August 1, 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.


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.

Resisting this, Friedrich Wilhelm, 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 taking Halberstadt on 29 July, reached the Black Horde and their leader on 31 July Braunschweig. He was joyfully welcomed by the population, but received the very next morning the message that a 5,000-strong, Westphalian Division under General Reubell approached from the north of the city.

The Battle

The blacks are outnumbered band of exploiting dividend was also threatened by an invading Dutch division of Halberstadt. In order not to fall between the two divisions, the Duke decided to join the Westphalen north of Brunswick, made to the village Ölper to finally break through to the north can.

To 14 clock moved the black crowd, reinforced by about 200 citizens of Braunschweig, which were equipped with looted material from Halberstadt, in accordance Ölper and went there in position. Major Korfes transitions destroyed on the Oker, in order to prevent flank attacks of the enemy.

An hour later, the troops appeared at Reubell Ölper, riding at the head first Westphalian cuirassiers were immediately taken under fire and retreated. Now advancing the First Infantry Regiment of Westphalia, Frederick William, the village Ölper by withdrawing its troops from the south and stationed on a hill, artillery collected. From there they could continue the pre-existing Westphalian infantry thrown back.

Now the Brunswick went with her to the duke at the head of counter-attack, the horse Friedrich Wilhelm was killed, he himself remained unhurt. But as captain of Rabiell, commander of the advancing companies, fell, withdrew the blacks, without having regained Ölper back.

Immediately following a failed attack by the Westphalen. The daring attack 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 braunschweiger gun, but to further attacks, it never came. Although the Duke was planning a night attack, but had Reubell, so prescient, already cleared the village Ölper.


The casualty figures of the numerically far superior Westphalian troops are given as between 200 to 500 men. The losses for the black band varies between 40 (22 dead and 18 missing) and 86 (24 dead and 62 wounded), but they were probably higher.


Although Friedrich Wilhelm some tactical errors are rumored (eviction oil spill and then attempt the reconquest, lack of overview of the situation and command of only a small part of his troops), it must be stated that the Brunswick troops valiantly against a numerically superior could claim enemy . This was partly due to the larger struggle of the black experience and their high morale (they had previously defeated in Halberstadt Westphalian Regiment), on the other Reubell hesitation. Even if the end of the day the alleged Westphalen the battlefield (but they retreated after nightfall withdrew from oil spill), it was not them managed to defeat the black flock, nor stop their further train to the North Sea. At the second August broke at the Brunswick Corps and reached (about Celle, Hannover, Nienburg and Delmas ) - while pursued by the troops Reubell - on 7 August Elsfleth, from where it is to Helgoland and later to the Isle of Wight has been shipped. The Duke Friedrich Wilhelm came with his troops in British service, and fought from 1810-1814 under the command of Wellington in Portugal and Spain . General Reubell was dismissed because of his failure of Napoleon from his post, but fled to America before he could be held accountable.

Duke Charles the Second and Duke William, sons of the Black Duke, donated in 1824 and 1833, Cross of Honour for 1809, they awarded to participants.


  • Detlef Wenzlik; Unter der Fahne des Schwarzen Herzogs. Hamburg, 2002
  • Otto von Pivka; The Black Brunswickers (Osprey Men-at-Arms). Oxford, 1973
  • Gustav von Kortzfleisch; Geschichte des Herzoglich Braunschweigischen Infanterie-Regimentes und seiner Stammtruppen 1809-1902. 3 Bände. Braunschweig, 1896-1903.
  • Gustav von Kortzfleisch; Des Herzogs von Braunschweig Zug durch Norddeutschland im Jahre 1809. Berlin 1894
  • Willi Müller: Das Gefecht bei Ölper am 1. August 1809, in: Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte Nr. 1, 1924
  • Hermann Voges: Zur Geschichte des Gefechtes bei Ölper am 1. August 1809, in: Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte Nr. 3, 1926

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