Battle of Fehrbellin - Battle

Battle

The Swedish commander, Wrangel, harassed by Brandenburg raiding parties under the command of Colonel Joachim Hennings, found himself hemmed in by a destroyed bridge over the Rhin River at the town of Fehrbellin. Impassable marshes on both flanks left Wrangel little choice but to give battle south of the nearby village of Hakenberg while his engineers repaired the span.

A total of 15,000 Brandenburgers, including 5,600 cavalry and 13 cannons, faced 7,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and 38 guns on the Swedish side. One authority gives the Swedes a total of 12,000 troops. Wrangel omitted to secure the surrounding heights, and Frederick William and Derfflinger, by placing their guns on a series of low hills to his left while the Swedes had only swamps to their flanks and a river behind them, gained a decisive tactical advantage.

These guns opened fire around noon on the 18th and caused heavy casualties on the Swedish right flank. Wrangel, now aware of the threat, attempted several times to wrest control of the hills but was stopped each time. Frederick William had his main attack press the right flank of the Swedes, eventually causing their cavalry to flee, and exposing their infantry to a flank attack led by Prince Frederick II of Hesse-Homburg. In several hours of close combat involving heavy losses, the Brandenburgian cavalry turned and routed a regiment of Swedish infantry. The Swedish right however held up long enough though for the Fehrbellin bridge to be repaired and Wrangel was able to get a large portion of his army across before darkness fell. Frederick William rejected all his officers' suggestions to shell the town.

The Brandenburg troops lost about 500 men. Wrangel's forces, although routed, lost only about the same amount on the day of the battle, but lost much more in the coming days' retreat pursued by the Brandenburgers up to Wittstock. Raiding parties, desertion, starvation, and other factors reduced the retreating Swedish army to a fraction of what it once was.

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