The Rhine War of 1855 – The Battle of Weinstadt

Following the Bavarian victory in the opening battle at Schorndorf, the allies feared that they would be hotly pursued back to the Wurttemberg capital, Stuttgart. However, to their surprise (and relief) they were left in peace to rally by a complacent enemy who clearly felt they’d done enough.

Campaign Map, with an Allied army coming together to confront the Bavarians.

After his impetuous start to the campaign, the Bavarian King had decided it was time for his allies to do some fighting, and he ordered his army to enjoy the fruits of their labour in enemy territory. With the Austrians still far off (their advanced guard was believed to have made it as far as Lindau at best) the Bavarian army only moved forward a few miles to Weinstadt where they settled down to forage and make good their losses from the recent battle.

The field of battle viewed from the west, with Weinstadt and the Bavarian camp top-right and the river and bridge on the left.
The reverse angle.
Reveille, and unwelcome news from the pickets.

However, far from being beaten the Wurttemberg-British force was about to be reinforced. Marshal Canrobert, commander of the French I Corps, had heard the news of his compatriots in II Corps’ saving the day at Sprendlingen and was determined to have his share of the glory. He’d dispatched his 1st Division and Cavalry Division south toward Sigmaringen and the Austrian border as flanking cover, and had himself taken 2nd Division via Stuttgart (where, most gratifyingly, the French were met with great appreciation and applause) so as to join up with the Wurttembergers a little to the east.

After a brief council of war, where the allies (even the British) agreed to Canrobert taking command, it was decided that a counter attack was in order. Striking camp at dawn on the 5th July, the combined force marched east. It was decided that the British contingent would be on the left, on the other side of the river, so as to make a flank attack while the French and Wurttemberg Divisions attacked the Bavarians frontally. Conveniently, this meant that the British would be operating somewhat independently, which overcame any underlying reluctance to take instruction from their old enemy. A 3-way alliance, with old adversaries working together within a complicated tactical plan. It was sure to succeed.

The British contingent make their way unseen along the northern river bank.
The British objective, lightly guarded by just a cavalry brigade.

By late morning the Wurttemberg advanced guard had gotten to within a mile of Weinstadt before encountering and driving in the slack Bavarian picket line. Shaken from their rest period, the Bavarians prepared for battle. A jager battalion was sent forward to delay the enemy while the 3 infantry brigades and Korps artillery reserve began to assemble.

By the time they’d formed up in and of either side of Weinstadt the leading Wurttemberg and French brigades had deployed from march column and were ready to attack.

The attack begins. Wurttembergers on the left, French on the right.
Infantry assault, straight up the road.
Their arrival slightly delayed, the French 2nd Brigade hastens to catch up.
Firefight between opposing infantry.
The British rifles are the first to reach the bridge. With their brigadier elsewhere, the hesitant Bavarian Chevaulegers are about to be driven off by accurate fire.
… and there they go!

The main attacks went in, and casualties soon mounted up on both sides. Numerous artillery batteries added to the carnage.

The Bavarian commander had sent orders to his absent (but nearby) brigades (1 each of infantry and cavalry) and he hoped they were on their way. The British left hook was taking time to develop despite the light opposition, and the allies needed their attacks to pin the Bavarians in time for its arrival. The battle was therefore finely balanced.

Part 2 to follow…

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