The Battle at Lundby July 4th

Lundby map

At the time of the battle at Lundby, Jutland was in fact abandoned by the Danish Army.

The remaining units were pulled north of the Limfjord and in the process of being shipped towards Funen from Frederikshavn. 1st Regiment had been left in Nørresundby to hide the embarkment as long as possible The order to the regiment  was, that if an opportunuty was offered and it furthermore could be done without disproportionate risk, they could advance south.

On July 1st,  three the Prussian reconnaissance commands were moving north from the town of Hobro. The Danish 5th Company of the 1st Infantry Regiment was with 160 men and a squadron of cavalry moved south toward Ellitshøi where it was suspected to find one of the hostile units in the night lodge.
The company found Ellitshøj empty and occupied the outskirts of the town at 0,30 am. The Prussian force had left the area again and had retreated 10 km. to the south to the town of Gravlev. At the same time, the 1st regiment learned that a Prussian patrol of approx. 2 companies and a cavalry squadron had gone north, probably towards Gunderup. A similar patrol had advanced towards Løgstør.

Lieutenant-Colonel Beck, who had command of the entire force, then ordered an eastward flank movement and at 1.30 am the company broke up in direction of Gunderup.  As they reached the town at 4 am, they  observed the enemy leave the city to the north and Lundby.
Beck then rode forward with the cavalry, followed by the infantry to the north through Gunderup.
From a hill, a Husar observed the Prussians at the northern outskirts of Lundby, and the Danish force ended up on the Lundby Hill, south of Lundby hidden behind the “Konghøj” tomb. From here, Lundby Hill falls evenly towards Lundby, halfway crossed by the road between Lundby and Gunderup, the current Hadsund Road.

H. C. J. Beck_1864

In December 1863, Beck became lieutenant colonel and, against his will, commander of the 1st Regiment. He had always done staff service and was quite foreign to practical leadership. He also replaced the famous Colonel Max Müller (The battle at Sankelmark) , whose personality and sharp constitution was good at a battlefield. Furthermore, Bech’s weak constitution had difficulty in obstructing the hardships of field life.
He participated in the matches in front of Dannevirke at Sankelmark and Vejle without excelling.
At the end of the truce june 26th he was given command of the remaining force in North Jutland to guard the Limfjord crossings and make minor, offensive movements without disproportionate risk.
He thus led the advance from Aalborg which, by his ignorance of the superiority of the Prussian breech loader, led to the defeat at Lundby July 3rd.

Bech’s opportunities
The locals in Gunderup got news of the impending attack and offered Beck to lead the company through a gorge east of the Lundby Hill that will secretly lead them into storming distance of Prussian force. Alternatively behind some live fences west around the hill. Beck rejects this with the words “a farmer shall not lead my company” and commands “a quick and determined attack with the bayonet” from “the Kongshøj”
The company was set up in 16 ranks behind Kongshøj, and the company commander asked Beck to change the lineup. It was not in accordance with the regulations to carry out bayonet attacks with more than 6 ranks. Beck thought there was already enough time wasted and rejected this. Now it was time to attack. 

At this point, the Prussians had seen a Husar on the hill to the south, possibly “Kongshøj”, and quickly prepared to withstand the Danish attack from a 1 meter high stone fence on the south edge of Lundby. Here, 70 of the company’s 124 men were ready with their breechloaded rifles.
During high cheers, the Danish force launched the attack from Kongshøj against the Prussians approx. 700 meters ahead. They attacked wearing all equipment and heavy coats.

On order, the prussians awaited the Danes approaching. Approx. 250 meters from the stone fence, the attack stops a little after the long run and perhaps also in wonder of the lack of an Prussian reaction. The attack is then resumed, but at 150-200 meters the Prussian soldiers gave fire for the first time. Shortly after, they fired the second time. At the third firing the Danish attack breaks down 20 meters in front of the stone fence. 

The immediate result of the battle was a clear defeat to the Danes, as the Danish side suffered a loss of 32 dead, 44 wounded, 20 captured and 2 missing – a total of 98 – against just 3 light wounded Prussians.

In the big picture, the battledidn’t mean anything. Denmark had almost lost the war already, and a possible victory at Lundby would not have changed this, except that a lucky outcome had somehow lapped up Beck’s rampant rumor of Sankelmark.
Bech’s aide Peter Abrahams later wrote: “I rode out with a strange, wildly enthusiastic, frivolous but decrepit man – I rode back with an old man, broken down.!”
Beck was subsequently appointed colonel and commander of the Dannebrog order.