Battle of Lutzen, 16 November 1632
Battle in the Thirty Years War. The Protestant army, led by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, had advanced into southern Germany with 20,000 men. In September 1632, Wallenstein invaded Saxony with 30,000 men, threatening Gustavus's lines of communication. Gustavus was forced to respond, marching north before entrenching to wait for reinforcements. At this point, Wallenstein splitt off a third of his army. Hearing this, Gustavus rushed to attack. The two armies made contact on the evening of 15 November, and spent the night drawn up in battle formation, with the Imperial army defending a ditched road. On the morning of the 16th, a mist delayed the start of the battle, and Gustavus was not able to attack until 11.00 am. Gustavus led a cavalry charge, which forced the Imperial musketeers from the ditch, and pushed the Imperial cavalry back. Wallenstein set fire to the town of Lutzen, and the smoke from the town temporarily blinded the Swedish centre, which was then surprised by an Imperial cavalry charge. The line held, and was reinforced by Gustavus, who led his cavalry back to aid his centre. At this point, the Protestant cause suffered a serious blow - Gustavus himself was killed during the cavalry fight that followed. Command was taken over by Bernard of Saxe-Weimar. At this point, the force that Wallenstein had detached earlier in the campaign, and had urgently recalled on the 15th, arrived on the battle field, and temporarily forced the Swedish army back across the ditched road. Despite this temporary setback, Bernard of Saxe-Wiemar was able to force the Imperial troops to retreat into Lutzen, abandoning their artilley and baggage, before being forced to fall back on Halle. The Imperial army lost 12,000 men, while the Swedes lost 10,000 men as well as Gustavus Adolphus himself, whose death took the gloss off was was otherwise a victory for the Protestant cause.
The Thirty Years War
, C.V.Wedgewood. Despite its age (first published in 1938), this is still one of the best english language narratives of this most complex of wars, tracing the intricate dance of diplomacy and combat that involved all of Europe in the fate of Germany.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (26 November 2000), Battle of Lutzen, 16 November 1632, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_lutzen.html