Battle of Nördlingen (1645)

Battle of Nördlingen (1645)

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Encyclopedia
The second Battle of Nördlingen (or Battle of Allerheim) was fought on August 3, 1645 southeast of Nördlingen
Nördlingen
Nördlingen is a town in the Donau-Ries district, in Bavaria, Germany, with a population of 20,000. It is located in the middle of a complex meteorite crater, called the Nördlinger Ries. The town was also the place of two battles during the Thirty Years' War...

 near the village of Alerheim
Alerheim
Alerheim is a municipality in the district of Donau-Ries in Bavaria in Germany....

. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and its Protestant German allies defeated the forces of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 and its Bavarian Catholic league allies.

Prelude


The Imperials and the Catholic League were facing increasingly severe pressure in the war from the French, Swedes and their Protestant allies and were struggling to prevent a French attempt to advance into Bavaria.

Geography


The 12,000-man Imperial-Bavarian army, led by Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Franz Baron von Mercy and Johann von Werth
Johann von Werth
Count Johann von Werth , also Jan von Werth or in French Jean de Werth, was a German general of cavalry in the Thirty Years' War.-Biography:...

 entrenched on rising ground near the village of Alerheim, 10 km southeast of Nordlingen. One km to the northeast of the village, the ridge rises to a height called the Wennenberg. Exactly 1 km to the southwest of the village is the Schloss Alerheim, which crowns a hill. Mercy and Werth deployed their right wing on the Wennenberg, anchored their left wing on the schloss (castle) hill, and posted their center on the low ridge between the wings. In the 17th century, Alerheim was smaller and entirely to the northwest of the Imperial battleline between the Wennenberg and the schloss. To protect their weak center, the Bavarian and Imperial officers had some dismounted dragoons and foot soldiers barricade themselves in the village. They hoped to defeat the French by forcing them into a disadvantageous attack uphill into the fire of the Imperial cannon.

Battle


Before the battle, Marshal
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

 Henri, Vicomte de Turenne united his Franco-German army with an all-French army led by Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé was a French general and the most famous representative of the Condé branch of the House of Bourbon. Prior to his father's death in 1646, he was styled the Duc d'Enghien...

 (then known as the Duc d'Enghien, courtesy title of the heir to the Condé honours, to which he would not succeed until the following year). The combined army of 12,000 men was placed under Condé's overall leadership. Condé's tactics were brutally simple. He intended to launch the French troops in a frontal charge on the Imperial positions. Meanwhile, it took the French army from noon until 4:00 pm to arrange its lines for battle.

In the event, the Imperial army counterattacked almost at once. Charging downhill from Schloss Alerheim, they broke Condé's hesitant right wing, forcing the Frenchman to call off his attack on the Imperial center. On the other end of the field, Turenne hammered at the Wennenberg. When the Wennenberg fell, the defeated Imperial right swung back and the victorious left wheeled forward, so that the Imperials faced north instead of northwest. Mercy was killed during the savage fighting. By evening, both armies were still on the field of battle. However, in the darkness and confusion, the Imperials in the village, believing themselves to be surrounded, capitulated. Later that night, the Imperial army conceded defeat and withdrew.

Result


The Franco-German losses were 5,000 killed, wounded, and captured, including a large number of officers. The Bavarian-Imperial army suffered similar losses. When Condé fell sick, he withdrew his army to French territory, leaving Turenne unsupported. Turenne eventually fell back to Philippsburg
Philippsburg
Philippsburg is a town in Germany, in the district of Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg.-History:Before 1632, Philippsburg was known as "Udenheim".The city was a possession of the Bishop of Speyer from 1371–1718...

. Therefore, the only French gain from the bloody victory was their capture of Nördlingen and Dinkelsbuhl
Dinkelsbühl
Dinkelsbühl is a historic city in Bavaria, Germany and a former Free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. Now it belongs to the district of Ansbach, north of Aalen.-History:...

. The Imperials were able to fall back to Donauwörth
Donauwörth
Donauwörth is a city in the German State of Bavaria , in the region of Swabia . It is said to have been founded by two fisherman where the Danube and Wörnitz rivers meet...

in reasonably good order to make good their losses. Bavaria was at least temporarily safe. Eventually the battle provided no more than a breathing space and did not prevent the invasion of Bavaria the following year.