Battle of Soor or Burkersdorf, 28 June 1866

The battle of Soor or Burkersdorf (28 June 1866) was a Prussian victory that made up for their defeat at Trautenau on the previous day, and opened up a route to the River Elbe for the Prussian Guard Corps (Austro-Prussian War of 1866).

On 27 June the Prussian right wing, led by General von Bonin's I Corps, ran into the Austrians around Trautenau on the River Aupa. The resulting combat of Trautenau began with a period of Prussian success, but in the mid-afternoon the Austrians counterattacked and the Prussians were forced to retreat. They didn't stop until they were back in their starting positions for the day.

Battles of the Austro-Prussian War 1866: Bohemian Front
Battles of the
Austro-Prussian War 1866:
Bohemian Front

The Prussian Guards Corps, in the centre of the army, had heard the fighting at Trautenau, and at about noon sent a messenger offering assistance. At this point the battle was going well, and so General Bonin turned down the offer. The Guards continued their own advance, and by the end of the day the 1st Guards Division was at Eypel on the River Aupa and the 2nd Guards Division was at Kosteletz, five miles further south-east.

At the start of the day General Gablenz expected to be supported by troops from the 5th Corps, who were ordered to move to Prausnitz-Keile, two villages south of his position. As a result he posted his main force at Neu-Rognitz, two miles south of Trautenau and a similar distance north of Prausnitz, with a strong advance guard at Trautenau. Gablenz expected to face a further attack by Bonin's I Corps, and not an attack from the east.

The Prince of Württemberg, commander of the Prussian Guards Corps, decided to attack Gablenz's right flank. Two battalions from the Franz Grenadiers were sent north-west towards Trautenau to cover the right wing of the advance. The 1st Guards Division was ordered to attack south-west from Eypel towards Königinhof on the Elbe. The 2nd Guards Division was to act as a reserve force.

This movement was detected by the Austrians, and Gablenz was ordered to move south towards Prausnitz, to protect his line of retreat towards Josephstadt. As the result of this movement the Austrian line spread from Trautenau to Prausnitz.  The Austrian move was led by Knebel and Wimpfen's brigades, with Mondl's brigade forming the rearguard. A small force was to follow a parallel road further east, moving through the village of Staudenz.

The battle fell into two sections. In the north the two Prussian grenadier battalions fought with the Austrian brigade originally posted at Trautenau. At first the Austrians made some progress, but the Prussians managed to hold their ground until the 2nd Guards Division moved up to support them. By the end of the day most of the Austrian brigade had been forced to surrender.

The Prussian attack was delayed when the Austrian flank guard was detected around Staudenz. Würtemberg responded by ordering the 1st Guards Division to retreat east across the Aupa, and this delayed the attack by an hour.

When the advance was resumed Staudenz was taken at 9.30 without much of a struggle. The advancing Prussians approached Burkersdorf, where the Austrian artillery began to form up, protected by Knebel's brigade. At first the Prussian advance guard was held up by the heavy Austrian artillery fire. The situation changed when the first part of the Prussian main body, under General Alvensleben, entered the battle.

At about 11.30 the Prussians captured Burkersdorf, after a fierce battle with Knebel's brigade, with Mondl's brigade involved on the flanks. The Austrian force now began to dissolve, and retreated along the road to Königinhof on the Elbe. The Prussians were too tired to follow in much force, and Fleischhacker's brigade from the Austrian 4th Corps was able to spend the night at Soor without being attacked. The Prussian 1st Guards Division spent the night at Burkersdorf.

On the day after the battle the Guards Corps advanced towards Königinhof on the Elbe, which was captured after a short fight.

Further south the Prussian V Corps won a second victory on 28 June, defeating the Austrians at Skalitz. V Corps also pushed west on 29 June, winning another combat at Schweinschadel, to the east of Köninginhof.

The sources differ to an unusual extend on the casualty figures, although all agree that the Austrians suffered more than the Prussians. Prussian losses range from 713 to 1,130 killed and wounded, with most losses in two regiments. Austrian losses range from 3,426 to 3,674, with around 2,600-2,900 prisoners. It is also possible that the prisoners taken around Trautenau on the following day aren’t included in some of these figures.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 August 2015), Battle of Soor or Berkersdorf, 28 June 1866 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_soor.html

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