A Warrior Dynasty: The Rise and Decline of Sweden as a Military Superpower by Henrik O. Lunde

A Warrior Dynasty: The Rise and Decline of Sweden as a Military Superpower by Henrik O. Lunde

Author:Henrik O. Lunde [Lunde, Henrik O.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: 17th Century, 18th Century, Europe, History, Modern, Sweden
ISBN: 9781612002422
Amazon: B00MZKAUDA
Publisher: Casemate
Published: 2014-09-10T03:00:00+00:00


The Swedish command was reorganized after the king’s death. Brahe took over the left wing, Knypenhausen assumed command of the center, and Bern-hard took command of the Swedish right wing. One of the most difficult things in the midst of a battle is to assume a new command, and it speaks volumes about the professionalism of the Swedish officers that they were able to do so successfully.

The left wing under Brahe finally captured what was left of the village of Lützen, including the imperial artillery. Knypenhausen’s center was engaged in a desperate struggle for the causeway. Despite severe losses, the cavalry on the Swedish right reorganized and pushed beyond the causeway.

Duke Bernhard ordered a general advance against the imperial troops. The Swedes, now aware of their king’s death, were infuriated according to almost all accounts. The Swedish center swept forward and cleared the causeway after the second line of infantry moved forward to join the remnants of the first line. The advance in the center was assisted by the vigorous actions of the Swedish cavalry against the imperial left wing.

However, the battle was not over. As a complete victory appeared within grasp, General Piccolomini, who had managed to rally some of the imperial cavalry, launched a counterattack that completely stopped the advance of the Swedish right. However, it had taken seven charges by the cavalry to do so. Bernhard knew he had to regain the momentum, otherwise the Swedish center, advancing toward the imperial center, would be attacked in the flank. He led his cavalry forward again and slowly drove the imperial cavalry back. General Piccolomini, wounded four times, kept the withdrawal from becoming a rout. The Swedish cavalry pushed their opponents back past their abandoned baggage trains. These were set ablaze by the Swedes and wagonloads of ammunition erupted in earth-shuddering blasts.53

This took place at about the same time as the lead units of Pappenheim’s infantry arrived on the scene, and although they were fed into the maelstrom, there was not much these 2,000 troops could do after their exhausting march. The imperial center was bracing for the onslaught of Swedes infuriated at the death of their king, and resolved not to lose the battle for which he had died. This was also the time that the ammunition wagons behind the imperial right began to explode. Rumors spread among the imperial infantry that the Swedes were attacking their rear and they began to fall back. Their heavy artillery was abandoned. However, the Swedes did not stop at the artillery position but continued their forward sweep. The imperial line began to disintegrate and the withdrawal soon became a flight.

One source54 has the Swedes being pushed back to the causeways yet another time, but I believe this is because he does not have Pappenheim’s cavalry arriving until around 1500 hours when they had arrived at least one hour earlier. I have found no convincing evidence that Wallenstein ordered another general assault after his center had been driven back and lost cohesion, which, according to most sources took place around 1700 hours.


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