Battles and Events 1848-50

Battle at Bov. Rebel retreat

The Battle at Bov April 9th, 1848
After the peacefull capture of Rendsborg, the Schleswig-Holstein army moved further north.
The Danish army under General Hedemann moved south from Kolding and joined a force from Als led by Colonel Schleppegrell. The Danish force was superior in number, and the Danish soldiers were better trained. The two armies met at Bov. 
The battle fell short and the Schleswig-Holstein fled south in a panic after heavy losses. 
The rebel army ended in the fortress in Rendsborg followed by the Dansih army, which now was in control   of Schleswig down to the river Eider.
The victory at Bov was hailed with cheer in Denmark and gave rise to great optimism regarding the Danish chances of victory in the impending war.

Declaration of War April 18, 1848
Prussia and the German Confederation now decided to help the rebels, and the German Confederation declared war at the same time as the Prussian army under General Wrangel north through the duchy of Holstein.

The Battle at Schleswig 1848

The Battle of Schleswig, April 23, 1848
After the Battle of Bov, the Schleswig-Holstein army had retreated to the garrison in Rendsborg. Here, a Prussian division of 12,000 men and a Federal division of 10,000 men (including Hanoverians, Mecklenburgers and Braunschweigers) had been waiting for several days, ready to rescue the rebel army.

The Danish army stopped following the rebels as they reached Rendsburg, but reached the area around the town of Schleswig on April 11th, with approx. 12,000 men. Here  General Lässöe and Major General Hedemann settled their main position in the hilly area between Gottorp and Husby, a few kilometers north of Dannevirke.
The strategy was to keep contact wiht the enemy and eventually move to the north if needed.

General Wrangel

On Easter Sunday, April 23, 1848, the Prussian General Wrangel sent his army af approx. 20,000 men  towards the city of  Schleswig by two different roads, which met at the junction between Hedeby and Dannevirke.
Behind these forces Wrangel had an additional army of 3,000 federal troops and approx. 4,000 Schleswig-Holstein rebels under the command of the Prince of Nør.

Wrangel had a superior strength but was so impatient that he failed to coordinate the attack properly. In spite of this, the Danish army had to retreat, and during April 24th. they returned to Flensburg.
Despite the outcome, the Battle of Schleswig is considered one of the most honorable in Danish war history.

During the retreat, the Danish command didn’t believe that the Wrangel Force would take up the pursuit and had therefore not provided a proper and orderly rear guard.
Fresh Mecklenburg dragoons and Hanoverian troops caught up with the Danish rear guard in the late afternoon, and it came to a meeting at Oversø. Some Danish dragons escaped north and alerted Flensburg, where most of the Danish troops were accommodated, with the shout: “The Prussians are here!”.
This, however, turned out to be excessive.

The Danish army searched towards the island of for Als and further north.
The Danish high command now abandoned the Bov position and led most of the army to Als, while other parts of the army searched north towards the Kongeå.
Wrangel allowed some of his troops to occupy Sundeved to keep the Danish forces at Als in check, while other parts of the Schleswig-Holstein and Prussian army  on May 2nd crossed the Kongeå and moved up into the Northern Jutland.

Nybøl and Dybbøl May 28 and June 5, 1848

The battle at Dybböl

From Als, Generals Hedemann and F. A. Schleppegrell made a successful attack on Nybøl on May 28th, 1848. This victory and the subsequent victory at Dybbøl on June 5th aroused some enthusiasm of the Danish population, but was disliked by the great nations of Europe. 
At the same time, Russia would not allow Prussia to cross the Kongeå and thus enter the kingdom of Denmark itself.  Thereby  general Wrangel and the Federal army was slowed down.

The ceasefire in Malmö July 2, 1848.
At the initiative of England, Russia and Sweden in June 1848, some negotiations took place between Prussia and Denmark.
On July 2nd, 1848, an agreement of a ceasefire and a joint Danish-German government in the duchies was reached.
However, this government never came to power due to General Wrangel’s opposition and the complications of the German side.
On August 26th, 1848, however, they succeeded in settling an agreement.
A large part of the Prussian and Danish troops had to be pulled out of the duchies and the Schleswig-Holstein rebel army had to be cut down and be divided into a Schleswigian and Holsteinian part.
In addition, the Provisional Government was to resign on August 26th, 1848, and be replaced by the Danish-Prussian government, jointly ruling both duchies.
The ceasefire only lasted for seven months.


During the negotiations, England proposed a division of Schleswig, a solution even the Danish national liberals were about to accept. Neighter the Danish public nor Schleswig-Holstein was ready for a division  the duchy. and in Copenhagen, it called for som riots.
On September 18, 1848, Frederik 7 rejected the idea of ​​sharing with the later famous words
“This shall not happen”.

The fightings at Haderslev on April 3, 1849
After the termination of the ceasefire, the hostilities were resumed on April 3rd, 1849.
The Danish army consisted of approx. 41,000 men while the Germans and the rebels could muster just over 65,000 men.
Facing with this power, the Danes decided to move north.

The Northern Jutland  corps under General Rye, move south on April 3. 1849
At 5 am Lieutenant Colonel Irminger moved along with 2 battalions, 4 guns, and an espingol battery and the Cavalry Division Hegermann-Lindenkrone.
At Aller’s tavern they dispersed a hostile cavalry patrol, and at 5 pm they encountered the enemy in a very hilly terrain at Haderslev.
An infantry fight ensued during which the enemy invaded the city and fierce street fighting ensued.
The houses and mills at the Southern Bridge, and which the enemy had arranged for defense, were quickly conquered and soon the whole town was occupied by Danish troops.
The Danish casualties were 3 dead and 6 wounded.

The battle at Adsbøl on April 3rd, 1849
In the morning, the advance from Als began.
The brigade first encountered the enemy at Aunbøl where some enemy troops were observed in the forest south of the road. Adsbøl itself was occupied by enemy forces with infantry supported by artillery.
During a heavy attack, the city was bypassed north of Nybøl and past Fiskebæk. The attack on the city was supported by 2 grenade cannons. 
After an artillery and infantry battle, the enemy was now forced through and out of the city, where two of the Danish cannons were placed at the cemetery.
The enemy was then chased across the fields and through the forest close to Graasten.
The Danish casualties were 2 dead, 21 wounded and 2 missing.

Battleship Christian VIII

The naval attack at Eckernförde April 5th 1949
This naval attack involved the Danish frigate Gefion, the battleship Christian VIII as well as some transport vessels. The match started at 4 in the morning.
The Danish naval force was to attack the coastal batteries around the fjord that were in German Schleswig-Holstein possession. However, the two large ships could not maneuver in the narrow waters and therefore they became easy targets for the coastal batteries.
It was thern tried to get the two wheel steamers Hekla and Gejser to drag them out, but they were also bombarded and could not maneuver either.

In the afternoon Gefion had to surrender.
After the conquest, Gefion was repaired and included in the German Federal Navy under the name Eckernförde. When the Federal Navy was disbanded in 1852, the ship was taken over by Prussia and again given the name Gefion. The ship was in active service until about 1870, and then lay as a barracks ship until it was scrapped in 1891.
Christian VIII was eventually taken so hard by the cannon fire from the German field and coastal batteries that it also had to lower its flag. There was even an outbreak of fire on board and at. 8 pm Christian VIII ecploded. 
For the Danish Navy the battle resulted in 105 killed, 61 wounded and nearly a 1,000 prisoners. The dead were buried in the cemetery in the northern part of Eckernförde.

The battle at Kolding1849

The battle at Kolding April 23rd, 1849.
The Federal Army again moved north, and after a  of battle that lasted for a few hours, general Rye retreated to the Almind area, and the Germans occupied 0n April 20th Kolding and established a strong position both inside and around the city.
General Bülow decided to throw back the enemy and launched the attack on april 23rd. in the morning.
The battle of Kolding was to start with an attack on 2 flanks from the north.

  • The eastern flank, under the direct command of General Bülow, was ready at Taulov.
  • The weastern flank witk general Rye and general Moltke, stood by Harte and
    Almind. They were to conquer the bridge at Ejstrup and the low water stream at Påby and then attack the enemy from there.

This was an important part of the battle, as it would otherwise be difficult to set over the the creek.

The main groups  of the Federal Army was in the east by Kolding and Vonsild, and in the west by Seest and Vranderup.
In the morning, the Danes attacked the hostile positions over a wide flank and met fierce resistance. Bülow’s brigade fought all the way to the Castle-Lake and met a lot of resistance here.
Ryes and Moltke’s brigades had conquered the bridge at Ejstrup, but had met resistance at road towards Vejle.
The Prussian general Bonin now felt his army treathened and he ordered his flanks together in a wedge shape, retreating slightly, but only to regroup.

The Danes believed at the time that the battle had been won, but the Prussians returned with 12 pounds  cannons and reinforcements from Kolding’s southern area, after which hard fighting took place in the center of Kolding.
With the Federal Army now close to cutting off Ryes and Moltke’s brigades, Bülow withdrew to Vejle and Fredericia, and the battle was lost.

General von Prittwitz

Jutland is occupied
In early May, General Prittwitz was granted the desired permit to cross the border and occupy as much of Jutland as possible.

The fightings at Gudsö May 3rd and 7th 1849
After the Danes lost the battle of Kolding on April 23rd, 1849, General Bülow had withdrawn Moltke’s and Schleppegrell’s brigades into Fredericia and General Rye was around Vejle with his brigade. When the enemy appeared to keep calm, Bülow decided on May 3rd,  to take up a position west of the Elbo valley.  Here his brigade had some fightings with advancing troops. 
The enemy was forced back through the Passage of Gudsö, which afterwards was occupied and a chain of outposts was established, connectied to Ryes corps.

General Prittwitz was now preparing an attack on both Danish divisions, which was to happen on May 7th in the morning.
General Bonin and his three brigades were sent to Gudsö where 3 Danish battalions led by Major N. G. la Cour were placed to defend the Danish position. These troops was supported by 4 cannons.
Because of the superior resistance, the Danes had to retreat to the Fredericia Fortress  after a hard struggle. Parts of Molkte and Schleppegrell’s brigades were by sea brought from Fredericia to Funen while the rest of the Danish force remained in the fortress.

General Olaf Rye

General Ryes Corps was pursued 7th to -30th May 1849
Olaf Rye’s brigade, (the Northern Army Corps) with 7,000 men, a considerable force of equestrian and 16 cannons, then began its their retreat north through Jutland, followed by General Prittwitz with 22,000 men and 52 canons.
Already the day after the fighting at Gudsø and Viuf on May 7th, Prittwitz continued his advance and found the Rye Brigade on the wooded heights north of Vejle with the right wing supported to the stream at Grejs.
With an immediate movement of the equestrian and a little frontal battle, Rye was maneuvered out of this position and therefore marched to Hedensted.

The night between the 8th and 9th of May Rye pulled up behind the stream at Ølsted. He established his headquarters in Thorsted, while the equestrian was further west at Hornborg.

On May 22nd, Rye finally received the order to direct his retreat to Helgenæs and take up a position behind some redoubts and ramparts opened in 1848 and now partially fortified and equipped with 12 heavy guns and a battalion.
Until now, Rye had intended to apply for Aalborg. But for Rye, who co could only lure the enemy up north by keeping close to the enemy and maintain small battles.

Aalborg would be a wrong decision because from here he couldn’t leave the coast at will, and thus miss the opportunity to ship to e.g. Fredericia.
On May 24th, Prittwitz advanced with all his strength, divided into 4 columns, to attack Rye around Skanderborg. But when the attack was about to begin, he discovered that the Danes had retreated.  Through his intelligence Rye had been told that the enemy was advancing  and had retreated to the area north of Aarhus. From there he went, while the Confederate army remained at Skanderborg, first towards the north and then to the east with course towards Helgenæs, a little island south of the Mols peninsula.

The Cavalry fightings at Aarhus May 31st, 1849
This battle took place north of Aarhus. The fight was between Danish dragoons and Prussian husarians, and ended with Danish victory. Although the Danes were outnumbered, they still forced the Prussians to retreat.
The Danish casualties were 8 men while the losses of the Prussians were 25 wounded or killed and 19 captured.

The counterattack from Fredericia July 6th, 1849
In the early summer of 1849, Fredericia had been sieged both by the Prussians and the Schleswig-Holstein rebels under General Bonin. They had entrenched in positions around the city and had launched an artillery bombardment of the city center.

Colonel Lunding

In Fredericia, Colonel Lunding had the command, and he, together with the army’s new general, Frederik Rubeck Henrik von Bülow, planned an counterattack to blow up the siege.
However, this required some reinforcements.

From Helgenæs General Olaf Ryes’s brigade was transferred to Funen, after which the troops were transferred to Fredericia in small boats, which the Schleswig-Holstein could not shell with the artillery.
The Danish 2nd Brigade under General Christian de Meza was sailed to Fredericia from Als, also via Funen.
The Attack was finally determined in a war council in Vejlby rectory at Strib on July 4th, and was to be launched on July 6th at 1 am. 
The Prussian army had been forced til retreat south by Russia and they left Fredericia a few days before.

General de Meza

At the time of the attack, 19,000 Danish soldiers were standing in the streets of Fredericia. The cobbles were cocered with straw to mute the sound og the many soldiers.
They were about to meet the 14,000 men of Schleswig-Holstein rebel army.
Although the Danes were in persuasion, the opponents had the great advantage of fighting from fortified positions. It was a tough battle and the outcome was uncertain until sunset, when the battle ended. 
There were hundreds of killedallen, mostly Danish. General Rye was among the killed, leading his men towards at redoubt. 

Peace with Prussia June 2nd and the German Confederation July 10th, 1850
Russia now intervened, threatening to break relations with Prussia unless the actions of war between Prussia, the German Confederation and Denmark ceased.
After that there was a ceasefire and Wrangel was ordered to escape Jutland.
On June 2nd, 1850 Prussia and Denmark, and on July 10th, 1850, the German Confederation and Denmark also signed a peace agreement in Berlin.

The Danish Lifeguard at Isted

Battle of Isted July 25th, 1850
After Prussia and the Alliance withdrew from the war, many German volunteers joined the Schleswig-Holstein flags, and the Schleswig-Holstein army continued the war on their own, without the support of other German states.
This lasted until on July 25, 1850, they suffered a decisive defeat in the greatest battle of Danish history, the battle at Isted.
During the Battle of Isted moor, approx. 40,000 Danish soldiers fought against 34,000 in the Schleswig Holstein army.
The Danish army, under General Krogh, outnumbered and was better trained than enemy under the Prussian general von Willisen.
However, the Schleswig-Holstein army took a strong defense position at Isted, where the passage around the Flensburg-Schleswig road is narrowed by moors  and lakes. The defense thus had a great advantage.

Schleppegrell at Isted 1849

The battle started at 1 am and especially the initial attacks were costly for the Danish army. A large number  the Army’s best officers showed great courage and were killed. There were fierce battles at the villages of Isted and Upper Stolk, and at 8 am the situation was critical for the Danes.
Over the next few hours, however, things changed, and at noon General Willisen ordered the Schleswig-Holstein army to retreat.
The Danish victory was expensive.
845 Danes were  killed, including General Schleppegrell and Colonel Lässöe.
The Schleswig-Holstein had 534 killed. 
After the victory at Isted, the Danish army went north and entrenched at the Dannevirke stronghold and the rebel army withdrew south towards Holstein. 

The attack on Mysunde September 12th, 1850
After the Battle at Isted, the Danes fortified Mysunde to cover the left flank of the Dannevirke.
Under pressure from the Schleswig-Holstein administration, the rebel general Wilhelm von Willisen chose to launch an attack on Mysunde on September 12th, 1850.
Mysunde was defended by the 1st Brigade and a strong artillery under Colonel Krabbe.
The attack was rejected and fought back, mainly because of the artillery.

The Bombardement of Frederiksstad

The Attack on Frederiksstad on October 4, 1850
After the Battle of Isted, the Schleswig-Holstein army retreated to Holstein, from where they repeatedly attacked the Danes for the purpose of dragging the Danish troops down to Holstein (which was a German county) and thus re-enlisting the German states in the War.
In September 1850, the rebel army began a major bombardment of Frederiksstad, which was fortified by Danish troops.
After 5 days’ shooting of the 1,600-man Danish army under the command of Hans Helgesen, the Schleswig-Holstein army attacked on October 4th, 1850, with 5000 men.
The fight lasted all night, but in the morning the Schleswig-Holstein army had to retreat.
During the bombardement, most of the city was set on fire.
Aming others the Remonstrant Church were destroyed.

The storm at Frederiksstad was the last major battle the  War 1848-50.