Military Wiki
Battle of Dessau Bridge
Part of the Thirty Years' War
Battle of Dessau Bridge
DateApril 25, 1626
LocationDessau (present-day Germany)
Result Catholic victory
Danish Protestants Holy Roman Empire Holy Roman Empire
Catholic League (Germany).svg Catholic League
Commanders and leaders
Ernst von Mansfeld Albrecht von Wallenstein
Torquato Conti
12,000 20,000
Casualties and losses
4,000 dead, wounded or captured 2,000

The Battle of Dessau Bridge (German language: Schlacht bei Dessau) was a significant battle of the Thirty Years' War between Danish Protestants and the Imperial German Catholic forces on the Elbe River outside of Dessau, Germany on April 25, 1626. This battle was an attempt by Ernst von Mansfeld to cross the Dessau Bridge in order to invade the headquarters of the Imperial German army in Magdeburg, Germany. The Dessau bridge was the only land access between Magdeburg and Dresden, which made it difficult for the Danes to advance. The Count of Tilly wanted control of the bridge in order to prevent King Christian IV of Denmark from having access to Cassell and to protect the Lower Saxon Circle.[1] The Imperial German forces of Albrecht von Wallenstein handily defeated the Protestant forces of Ernst von Mansfeld in this battle.

Preparation for Battle

Albrecht von Wallenstein began his preparation in October and November of 1625 by settling in the Halberstadt-Aschersleben area and extending its borders.[1] Wallenstein and the growing Imperial German army were informed of the approach of Mansfeld and his Danish army. King Christian IV of Denmark had formally entered Denmark into the Thirty Years War. As Mansfeld and his army was commanded to approach Albrecht von Wallenstein at the Dessau Bridge, King Christian IV of Denmark and ally Christian of Brunswick were commanded fight the Catholic army of the Count of Tilly in Upper Austria. Although Christian of Brunswick's defeats at Fleurus, Höchst in 1622, and the Battle of Stadtlohn in 1623 were victorious, the battles diminished his force. Christian of Brunswick and his peasant Protestant army, backing the army of King Christian of Denmark, was soon eliminated by the Catholics due to the weakness of his army and lack of a supporting army from Landgrave when moving into Hesse.[2] Part of the Imperial German army, under the command of Johann von Aldringen, had time to prepare heavy artillery and troops for any Protestant threat advancing down the Elbe. Wallenstein and the Imperial Catholic league marched to Dessau, where Mansfeld and the Protestant army would inevitably try to cross in order to reach Magdeburg and the German Catholic League headquarters in Aschersleben.[3] In Vienna, there was talk of Wallenstein's deposition from his army and replacement by the Italian, Count Collalto, an expert in the art of mercenary leadership.[2]

Battle and Outcome

In April of 1625, Mansfeld and his army moved quick as possible to Dessau as well as Wallenstein and the Imperial German army. Aldringen and his men arrived first, thus allowing them to form their "death trap" at the Dessau Bridge, deploying the heavy artillery which they possessed. Wallenstein's inexperience had Mansfeld overly confident and underestimated as they approached. Mansfeld was not aware that they were soon to face the most powerful and deceivingly large army along the river bank of the Elbe.[2] On April 25, the battle began and the troops of Aldringen held off Mansfeld and his troops as they attempted to push across the bridge and river. The Catholic League was in soon in heavy force by the arrival of Wallenstein and troops. Mansfeld and his troops were completely overpowered. As soon as nearly half of Mansfeld's army was destroyed, the Danes retreated to Silesia. Mansfeld was able to rebuild his army with the help from Johann Ernst and an army of 7,000, which gave him a similar sized army which he had lost half of at Dessau. His rally did not last long as he died outside of a village in Sarajevo soon before his ally, Johann von Ernst. The Danish Protestant army fell apart and retreated into Upper Silesia.[3] Christian IV of Denmark and his army were destroyed by the Count of Tilly in the Battle of Lutter, which left Tilly with the lands of Holstein, Jutland, and Schleswig.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Guthrie, William P. (2002). Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen. London: Greenwood Press. pp. 120. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wedgwood, C.V. (1939). The Thirty Years War. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 209–210. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Danish War". Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  4. "The Danish War". Retrieved 2012-10-26. 

Coordinates: 51°50′00″N 12°15′06″E / 51.8333333°N 12.25167°E / 51.8333333; 12.25167

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