Charles of Lorraine (d.1780)
Austrian general during the War of the Austrian Succession and at the start of the Seven Years War; Stadholder of the Austrian Netherlands until his death in 1780. Charles of Lorraine's campaigns were marked by his cautious, careful, approach that frequently lost him opportunities. He gained command of the Austrian armies in 1742. His first battle, at Chotusitz (17 May), was technically a Prussian victory, although both sides suffered large numbers of casualties, and Charles was able to extract his army largely intact. The campaign of 1743 was largely marked by his inability to work well with George II of England, and his unwillingness to be second in command. His best year was 1744, when he was able to threaten an invasion of Alsace and Lorraine, still considered as conquered Germany territory rather than as part of France, but he was forced back across the Rhine by the arrival of Louis XV and the duc de Noailles. His recrossing of the Rhine was a marked achievement, done without lose despite the presence of a hostile army, but he was unable to take advantage, as in August 1744 Frederick the Great invaded Bohemia and Charles had to be withdrawn to defend Austria. In 1745, Charles look a attacking posture, although Frederick himself desired battle, which he got at Hohenfriedberg (4 June 1745). Charles had allowed his army to become too stretched, and by the time he arrived on the battle field with his main force, his vanguard had already attacked the Prussian position and been defeated. His army took twice the casualties of the Prussians, but he was still in an apparently stronger position, and was able to outmarch
Frederick, getting ahead of him, and launching a surprise attack on his camp at Sohr (30 September 1745). Despite Charles' advantage, Frederick demonstrated his superior tactical ability and was able to defeat the Austrian attack. He was finally replaced as commander by the duke of Cumberland in 1747.
At the start of theSeven Years War he had one final chance at command, and was placed in charge of the defence of Bohemia. His first decision was to change from an attacking plan to a purely defensive one. This change of plan negated all of the work that had been done in preparation for the attack, and left powder magazines, barracks and stores all vulnerable to Frederick's attack. The battle of Prague (6 May 1757 was Charles' last major battle, and during the course of the battle he suffered a fit that removed him from command, possibly helping Frederick take the day. Charles recovered his health enough to retake command after the battle of Kolin (18 June), and to waste that victory, before finally being replaced by Leopold von Daun.
How to cite this article:
Rickard, J. (6 November 2000), Charles of Lorraine (d.1780), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_charlesoflorraine.html