The Battle of Corbach, or Korbach, a Hanseatic town of Waldeck-Frankenberg in northern Hesse, Germany, was fought on 10 July 1760 during the Seven Years' War. Corbach was the first battle of the campaign of 1760 and was a victory for the French over the Hanoverians, the British and their allies.
The town of Corbach is sited on the heights of Corbach that rise to some 400 meters above the surrounding plain and extend about one mile east of Corbach to the woods of Berndorf, while several roads intersect at the town itself. Numerous large forces from both sides were concentrating in this area. The main French force under Victor-François, 2nd duc de Broglie marshal of France was about 18 miles to the south at Frankenburg while the main allied force under Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick was at Sachsenhausen 6 miles to the east. De Broglie had been ordered to advance on Hanover north through Hesse and the French at Corbach were only 25 miles west of Cassel the capital of Hesse.
Corbach itself had been previously seized on 9 July by General Nicolas Luckner, the Hanoverian light cavalry commander, but his small force of 4 squadrons and a battalion of Hessian Jägers was driven off very early on the 10th by the vanguard of St. Germain. Ferdinand sent Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, the Hereditary Prince, the Erbprinz of Brunswick, with a mixed force of British, Hanoverians, Hessians and others with the intent to retake Corbach, defeat St. Germain's corps and prevent the junction of two French armies at that point. Leaving Lord Granby in command at Sachsenhausen, Ferdinand marched with a large force to Wildungen. The Erbprinz marched from Sachsenhausen and arrived before the heights of Corbach by 9 in the morning.
The British portion under the command of Major General Griffin of the allied force is stated to be at least four battalions of foot; including: Hodgson's 5th, Cornwallis' 24th, Carr's 50th, Brudenell's 51st; five squadron's of horse including three of Bland's Dragoons and 2 of Howard's; and a brigade of 18 pieces of artillery under Captain Charlton. The balance of the allied force was some nineteen battalions of Hanoverian, Hessian and Brunswick foot and fourteen squadrons of cavalry. Additionally, Luckner was still in the vicinity.
Saint Germain's command was, initially, the two brigades of de la Tour-du-Pin and la Couronne followed by the brigades Royal-Suédois and de Castella (3 Swiss regiments) reinforced later by Navarre and du Roi and is stated to be various sizes from a low of 10 battalions and fifteen squadrons, perhaps 7,000 to as many as 10,000 in six brigades and 17 squadrons.
St. Germain deployed four infantry battalions in the town of Corbach. The rest of his corps, infantry artillery and cavalry, were drawn up on Corbach heights extending east and somewhat north to the woods of Berndorf in which he deployed some light troops. The Hereditary Prince deployed his corps and attacked immediately, however, the French deployment obliged him to leave his left rear open to an advance by any French reinforcement sent north on the road from Frankenberg to Corbach.
The battle began with the allies' arrival at 9 A.M., opening with some Hussar light cavalry skirmishing from both sides. A heated cannonade lasted throughout the day along with brisk infantry fire with the French standing firm. The fight became particularly intense in the center in a hollow way, between two woods on the hill between Corbach and Berndorf Wood where the French put the German allied contingent into some difficulty. According to an official report from Granby to Ligonier, the arrival of French troops from Frankenberg on the allied rear decided the Prince on a withdrawal.
During the withdrawal confusion broke out in the allied German infantry and cavalry ranks the French redoubled their artillery fire and charged with a large body of cavalry. The allied retreat began around 3 in the afternoon in some disorder. Two of British cavalry squadrons of the 1st King's Regiment of Dragoon Guards and the 2nd Queen's Regiment of Dragoon Guards led by the Erbprinz charged and are credited with saving nearly the entire force, with the 1st KDG losing 47 killed. The two British cavalry regiments and two British infantry regiments, the 50th and 51st, covered the allies' retreat but could not prevent the loss of the right flank Royal Artillery Brigade and 18 guns to the French.
The battle of Corbach was the first battle of the campaign of 1760. The French success at Corbach combined with De Broglie's taking the initiative early in the season did much to enable them to continue their advance and maintain the gains they made by maneuver in Germany despite several subsequent battlefield defeats at the hands of the Hereditary Prince and Ferdinand in the battles of Emsdorf and Warburg. With the French marginal victory at the Kloster Kampen later in October any hope the British had of ending the war on favorable terms in 1760 evaporated despite their successes in America.
- 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th Edition, New York 1910, Vol.X, p.460: "The oriflamme and the Chape de St Martin were succeeded at the end of the 16th century, when Henry III., the last of the house of Valois, came to the throne, by the white standard powdered with fleurs-de-lis. This in turn gave place to the famous tricolour."George Ripley, Charles Anderson Dana, The American Cyclopaedia, New York, 1874, p. 250, "...the standard of France was white, sprinkled with golden fleur de lis...". * The original Banner of France was strewn with fleurs-de-lis.
- Manners, Walter Evelyn, Some Account of the Military, Political, and Social Life of the Right Hon. John Manners Marquis of Granby, London, 1899, Macmillan and Company Ltd., p. 131, note 5: "Twenty one battalions and nineteen squadrons...". Savory gives 24 battalions, 19 squadrons and 21 guns.
- Smollett,Tobias George and Hume, David,The History of England, from the Revolution in 1688, to the Death of George II, London 1825, p.547, "...10,000 infantry and seventeen squadrons...". William Russell, Charles Coote, The History of Modern Europe, Vol.III, London 1837, p. 383, "...ten battalions and fifteen squadrons..." or, approximately, 7,000.
- Charles Pierre Victor Pajol, Les guerres sous Louis XV: Tome 5, Paris 2006, ISBN 0-543-94431-X, p.56.
- William Russell, Charles Coote, The History of Modern Europe, Vol.III, London 1837, p. 383, "...no small loss..."
- Manners, Walter Evelyn, Some Account of the Military, Political, and Social Life of the Right Hon. John Manners Marquis of Granby, London, 1899, Macmillan and Company Ltd., p. 132.
- The Operations of The Allied Army under the Command of His Serene Highness Prince Ferdinand Duke of Brunswic and Luneberg During the greatest Part of Six Campaigns, beginning In the Year 1757, and ending in the Year 1762. by an Officer, who served in the British Forces. London, MDCCLXIV, p.150, " twelve pieces of cannon, four howitzers, and thirty ammunition wagons...824 men killed, wounded and missing.".
- Savory estimates 700 to 800. The Manuscripts of His Grace, the Duke of Rutland, Vol. II, London 1889, p. 219, "The French had six Brigades of Infantry engaged, which suffered greatly." Pajol, Les guerres sous Louis XV: Tome 5, p.57, gives 600 to 700 French killed or wounded.
- The Manuscripts of His Grace, the Duke of Rutland, Vol. II, London 1889, p. 209, these are 4 of the "...six battalions-1,000 men each..." mentioned. Manners, Walter Evelyn, Some Account of the Military, Political, and Social Life of the Right Hon. John Manners Marquis of Granby, London, 1899, Macmillan and Company Ltd., p. 131, note 5: "...Carr's, Brudenell's, Hodgson's, Cornwallis'
- Charles Pierre Victor Pajol, Les guerres sous Louis XV: Tome 5, Paris 2006, ISBN 0-543-94431-X, pp.56-58
- Savory states that there were ultimately some 36 French battalions. Some French regiments recorded to have been at the battle are La Tour-du-Pin, Bourbonnais, Auvergne, Belzunce, Du Roi, Vaubecourt, Dauphin, Aquitaine, La Couronne, Talaru and Traisnel. Some of these regiments may have consisted of more than one battalion and be the reason for the estimates of 10,000 and 6 brigades. In the French army brigades were generally named after the senior regiment.
- The Manuscripts of His Grace, the Duke of Rutland, Vol. II, London 1889, p. 219
- Burke, Edmund and Davis, John, The Annual Register, Or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for the year 1760, London 1789, p.21
- Dull, Jonathan. The French Navy and the Seven Years War, University of Nebraska Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-8032-1731-7, pp. 180-181.
- His Britannic Majesty's Army in Germany During the Seven Years War by Reginald Savory
- The Operations of The Allied Army under the Command of His Serene Highness Prince Ferdinand Duke of Brunswic and Luneberg During the greatest Part of Six Campaigns, beginning In the Year 1757, and ending in the Year 1762. by an Officer, who served in the British Forces. London, MDCCLXIV.
- Les guerres sous Louis XV: Tome 5, by Charles Pierre Victor Pajol, Paris 2006, ISBN 0-543-94431-X
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