Battle of Lutter

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Battle of Lutter
Part of the Thirty Years' War
Lutter Schlacht Bild.png
The Battle of Lutter
Date 27 August 1626
Location Lutter am Barenberge (present-day Germany)
Coordinates: 51°58′00.948″N 10°14′18.78″E / 51.96693000°N 10.2385500°E / 51.96693000; 10.2385500
Result Decisive Imperial victory
Belligerents
 Denmark  Holy Roman Empire
Catholic League (Germany).svg Catholic League
Commanders and leaders
Denmark King Christian IV Holy Roman Empire Johan Tzerclaes, Count of Tilly
Strength
20,000 20,000
Casualties and losses
6,000 dead and 2,500 captured 200 dead or wounded

The Battle of Lutter (Lutter am Barenberge) took place during the Thirty Years' War, on 27 August 1626, between the forces of the Protestant Christian IV of Denmark and those of the Catholic League. Lutter am Barenberge lies to the south of the modern town of Salzgitter, then within the Imperial Circle Estate of Lower Saxony, and now in northwest Germany.

The battle resulted in a heavy defeat of Christian IV's troops by those of Emperor Ferdinand II, led by the Catholic League general Johan Tzerclaes, Count of Tilly.

Prelude

King Christian IV of Denmark, as a Lutheran, allied with Ernst von Mansfeld in a military campaign he had planned to start in Thuringia in central Germany, and then take to its south. His intention was to bring relief to German Protestants, who had been severely defeated a few weeks earlier in the Battle of Dessau Bridge.

With the participation of Christian IV, the Thirty Years' War, which had hitherto been confined to opposing factions of the Holy Roman Empire, now extended to other European powers, though Christian, as Duke of Holstein, was not a complete foreigner.

The Battle

Christian IV, in an attempt to take advantage of the absence of Albrecht von Wallenstein,set out to attack Tilly's army in late July 1626. While Christian's force encountered little resistance at first as it moves south-ward, Wallenstein eventually listened to Tilly's calls for reinforcements, sending him an additional 4,300 soldiers. Now the Danes, demoralized, exhausted, and hungry, had no intention of fighting a major battle against a superior force, but torrential rain and muddy roads hindered their retreat. By 26 August Christian had decided to make his stand between the small villages of Hahausen and Lutter am Barenberge.1

This position might have been advantageous had Christian been a more competent commander. In the opening artillery engagement on the morning of 27 August he only utilized two of his twenty-two field guns, while Tilly made far much more effective use of his cannon. The Catholic League quickly followed their barrage with an all-out assault, which, though repulsed, enabled one League regiment to gain a foothold on the Danish side of a deep creek which separated the two armies. This led to confusion among Danish forces when Christian ordered a counterattack. After being just barely being beaten back by the Catholic infantry, the Danes lost all organization when they returned to their former positions, which left the Danish infantry vulnerable when Tilly ordered his cavalry to attack. Native regiments under Christians command were decimated when they held firm. His other forces scattered to the north. Christian himself, after having four horses shot out from under him, fled to Wolfenbüttel with what remained of his own cavalry.2

Aftermath

The battle was an irreparable blow to Christian IV and Denmark. It forced the Protestant German princes to sue for peace and Ferdinand II could have ended the war then satisfied with Imperial Catholic gains but instead issued the Edict of Restitution which brought Sweden into the war.

Further reading

Guthrie, William P. 2001. Battles of the Thirty Years' War: from White Mountain to Nordlingen, 1618-1635. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Lee, Stephen J. 1991. The Thirty Years' War. London [England]: Routledge.

Lockhart, Paul Douglas. 1996. Denmark in the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648: King Christian IV and the decline of the Oldenburg State. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press.

Parker, Geoffrey, and Simon Adams. 1997. The Thirty Years' War. London: Routledge.

Christian IV

Johann Tserclaes, count von Tilly

References

  1. ^ Lockhart, Paul Douglas. 1996. Denmark in the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648: King Christian IV and the decline of the Oldenburg State. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press.
  2. ^ Lockhart, Paul Douglas. 1996. Denmark in the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648: King Christian IV and the decline of the Oldenburg State. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press.







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