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Battle of Lützen (1632)

Battle of Lützen
Date of battleNovember 16, 1632
ConflictThirty Years' War
Battle beforeBattle of Fürth[?]
Battle afterBattle of Nördlingen (1634)
Site of battleNear Lützen[?], southwest of Leipzig, Germany
Combatant 1Sweden, Protestant Saxony
CommandersGustavus Adolphus †,
Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar[?]
Strength16,000 troops
Combatant 2Catholic Holy Roman Empire
CommandersAlbrecht von Wallenstein,
Gottfried zu Pappenheim[?] †,
Heinrich Holk[?]
Strength15,000 troops
plus 10,000 on the way
ResultDecisive Protestant victory
Casualties(1): 1,500
(2): 3,000

The Battle of Lützen was potentially one of the most decisive battles of the Thirty Years' War.

Description of the battle Count Wallenstein had split up his forces as to retreat his army into winter quarters, as he was suddenly informed at 02.00 in the morning that the Swedish army was approaching. He quickly dispatched a notice to general Pappenheim for assistance. Pappenheim replied he was too far off, and would arrive too late. Slightly outnumbered, Wallenstein deploy his army up for defence, parallel to a long hollow road, with his right flank anchored by some low hills, which he reinforced with artillery. All day, the Swedish attacked bravely against the Imperial position. King Gustavus Adolphus was always there where his soldiers expected him to see: in the thick of the battle, at the critical moments at the critical spot. Just as the Swedes seemed to make some progress, general Pappenheim arrived with the cavalry of his army and drove the Swedes back. This made Wallenstein exclaim "Thus I know my Pappenheim!". That afternoon the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus was killed, and the news quickly spread through the Swedish army. Instead of having a disastrous effect on the Swedish morale, the Swedish soldiers just got mad. They rallied to a grim bunch of determined soldiers, and led by Field Marshal Gustaf Horn they cleared the battlefield of Imperial forces. But they did not follow up their victory. They sought out the body of their beloved King, and mourned his loss.

Aftermath This smashing tactical Swedish victory was not turned into a strategic victory. Horn did not pursue, so the Imperial forces were not decimated. They escaped to fight another day, which the did at the Battle of Nördlingen. With the Swedish defeat at Nordlingen, the war dragged on for numerous years.

Other battles at same place

Note about the date of the battle: since at this time the catholic Holy Roman Empire used the Gregorian Calendar, but protestant Sweden still used the Julian Calendar, the Battle of Lützen (1632) occurred on November 16 for the catholics but on November 6 for the Swedes.

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